Grain deal extended for 2 more months

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, allowing Ukraine to continue exporting its grain amid Russia's full-scale war, has been extended for 60 more days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on May 17.

"We will continue our efforts to ensure that all the conditions of the agreement are fulfilled and that it will continue in the next period," Erdogan said on Twitter.

The UN and Turkey-brokered deal, first signed in July 2022, has been paramount in subduing soaring food prices worldwide. Russia's all-out war prevented Ukraine, one of the world's top grain suppliers, from exporting agricultural products from its Black Sea ports.

The deal has been extended several times since then. The previous extension was agreed upon on March 18, after weeks of Russia threatening to back out of it if certain terms were not met.

Since last fall, Russia has been sabotaging and delaying the inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian food products under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

According to Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry, due to Russia's actions, the worldwide exports of Ukrainian grain have been reduced by 15-18 million tons.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities insist that the grain deal be open-ended and automatically extended for 120 days.

Russian forces increase frequency of shelling in 3 bordering Ukrainian oblasts

Russian forces have increased the frequency of shelling in Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy oblasts over the past month, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on May 17.

According to Maliar, Russian forces carried out a total of 162 attacks on the three oblasts between May 8-16.

Sumy Oblast was shelled 110 times, Chernihiv Oblast 29 times, and Kharkiv Oblast 23 times.

Kindergartens, hospitals, schools, and various other civilian sites have been targeted, leaving people wounded or killed nearly daily.

All three oblasts are located along Ukraine's border with Russia. By increasing attacks along the border, Russia is trying to "prevent (Ukrainian troops) from engaging in other directions," Maliar explained.

Russian forces shell the hospital in Kherson Oblast

Russian forces shelled a hospital and a high-rise building in Beryslav on May 17, the Kherson Oblast Prosecutor's Office reported.

Information regarding civilian casualties is still being clarified.

According to Kherson Oblast Governor Oleksandr Prokudin, the hospital's intensive care unit and other central departments were hit. Around sixty windows and walls were damaged by the shelling, he said.

The city of Kherson and other settlements in the region on the Dnipro River's west bank has been continuously subjected to Russian shelling since Ukrainian forces liberated them in November 2022.

Russian troops were pushed to the river's east bank, from where they have since been firing at the liberated territories, regularly resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.