Here are the key events so far on Thursday, August 4.
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- Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russia’s eastern offensive was aimed at forcing Ukraine to divert troops from the Zaporizhzhia region. Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, said three civilians were killed in Bakhmut, Maryinka and Shevchenko and five wounded in the past 24 hours. The governors of Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk reported that their regions had been shelled overnight, causing damage to civilian infrastructure and houses. Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin said Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged prisoners and the bodies of those killed in the conflict 27 times since the war began on February 24.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed for direct talks with China’s President Xi Jinping, urging Beijing to use its political and economic influence on Russia to help end the war in his country. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Moscow wants to negotiate a solution to the conflict, adding, “a first success is the grain deal, perhaps that can be slowly expanded to a ceasefire”. Ukraine dismissed Schroeder’s comments, saying any dialogue would be contingent on a Russian ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops. The United States Senate and the Italian Parliament approved Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO.
- The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain to world markets since Russia’s invasion left Turkey for Lebanon on Wednesday, as Ukraine said 17 other vessels were “loaded and waiting permission to leave”. Ukraine has to export at least 10 million tonnes of grain to help bring down its budget deficit, which is running at $5bn a month, Zelenskyy said. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russia had no reason to hold up the return of a gas turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that was serviced in Canada but has since been stranded in Germany. But Russian energy giant Gazprom said the delivery of the turbine was “impossible” due to sanctions on Moscow.