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UKRAINE

Spanish PM sees possible ‘genocide’ in Ukraine

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Monday he saw signs of a possible "genocide" in Ukraine after claims that Russian forces committed atrocities against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv.

Spanish PM sees possible 'genocide' in Ukraine
The bodies of at least 20 men in civilian clothing were found lying on the ground in a single street on Saturday after Ukrainian forces retook the town of Bucha near Kyiv from Russian troops. Russian forces withdrew from several towns near Kyiv in recent days after Moscow's bid to encircle the capital failed, with Ukraine declaring that Bucha had been "liberated". (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP)

“We will do everything to ensure that those who have perpetrated these war crimes do not go unpunished, and therefore appear before the courts… to deal with these alleged cases of (crimes against) humanity, war crimes and why not say it too, genocide,” he said.

“Putin’s unjustified aggression has brought war back to the gates of the European Union”, he told an economic forum in Madrid.

Sánchez is one of the first European Union leaders to label Russia’s actions in Ukraine a “genocide”.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday also called for an international investigation into what he termed a “genocide” carried out by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Ukraine and Western leaders have erupted in outrage over the discovery of mass graves and hundreds of dead people in Bucha, a small town northwest of Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly blamed Moscow for the “killings” of civilians.

According to Ukrainian officials, at least 340 civilians killed by Russian troops have been buried in Bucha so far. 

“This is genocide. The elimination of the whole nation and the people,” Zelensky told the CBS programme Face the Nation, according to a transcript provided by the network on Sunday.

Russia denied the accusations and said Kyiv had staged footage of the corpses.

Spain’s public prosecutor last month opened an inquiry into “serious violations of international humanitarian law” by Russian troops in Ukraine.

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UKRAINE

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

A Ukrainian grain shipment arrived in Spain on Monday after being shipped via the Baltic Sea to circumvent Russia’s blockade, imposed following the outbreak of war, a Spanish association said.

Ukrainian grain dodges Russian blockade to reach Spain via new route

The Finnish-flagged cargo ship, the Alppila, carrying 18,000 tonnes of grain for animal feed docked at A Coruña port in northwestern Spain early on Monday, the Agafac food manufacturers association said.

It said it was the first time such a route had been used for Ukrainian grain.

Agafac, which had placed the order, said the grain had been transported by lorry to the northwestern Polish port of Swinoujscie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.

It then called in at Brunsbuettel in northern Germany before heading for Spain.

This is “the first shipment of grain to be transported via a new sea route through the Baltic Sea to circumvent the Russian naval blockade on Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea that has been in place since the war began,” Agafac said.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Ukraine’s agriculture ministry was unable to confirm whether or not it was the first such shipment of Ukrainian grain to travel via the Baltic Sea.

“We don’t have information about transportation specifically to Spain. We deliver to Romania, Poland. This is probably the logistics outside Ukraine,” he said.

When Russia invaded on February 24th, it imposed a naval blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that has choked off its grain exports, threatening a global food crisis.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine was the world’s top producer of sunflower oil and a major wheat exporter, but millions of tonnes of grain exports remain trapped due to the blockade.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine is currently exporting more than two million tonnes of grain a month via rail but that figure is far below what it was exporting before the war via its ports, notably Odessa.

The United Nations and certain countries like France and Turkey have been pushing for the opening of a “security corridor” in the Black Sea to allow Ukrainian exports to resume.

At the end of May, General Christopher Cavoli, the incoming head of the US European Command, said Germany’s railway company recently set up a “Berlin train lift” — a special train service to move Ukraine’s grain exports.

He said Poland was working on a simplified border crossing regime to ease the deliveries, and once out of Poland, the grain was taken to Germany’s northern ports to be shipped onwards.

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