Day 608 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Russia, China and Iran can Defeat the West in World War III says Elon MuskUkraine | October 24, 2023, Tuesday // 12:20| views
Day 608 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Ukraine exported 700 thousand tons of grain along the "Bulgarian" corridor, but will lose billions this year
- Russia said it has neutralized three Ukrainian naval drones in the Black Sea
- Russia’s ally North Korea is spewing shells for the Russian army
- Russia and Iran are becoming closer allies
- Musk: Russia, China and Iran can defeat the West in World War III
Ukraine exported 700 thousand tons of grain along the "Bulgarian" corridor, but will lose billions this year
About 700,000 metric tons of grain have been exported through Ukraine's new Black Sea export corridor since it became operational in August, Ukraine's agriculture minister said.
Ukraine opened "humanitarian corridors" along the coasts of Romania and Bulgaria to free ships bound for African and Asian markets and bypass the de facto blockade after Russia over the summer backed out of a deal that guaranteed Ukrainian exports.
"During the operation of the new corridor, 38 ships entered the ports and more than 30 left, not all of them with grain, of course," Mykola Solski was quoted as saying late on Monday by the agriculture ministry and Reuters. "However, we managed to export almost 700,000 tons of grain."
Ukraine has exported up to 3 million tons of food per month through the corridor with Russian guarantees for the security of the ships. Its total food exports, including via alternative routes, reach 6 million tons per month.
Solski said that in September, Ukraine also exported 2.3 million tons of agricultural goods from small Ukrainian river ports on the Danube River. He said total food exports amounted to 3.6 million tons last month. "We need to export about 6 million tons per month to keep our agriculture as a key sector of the economy," explains Solski.
This volume of transport can be ensured only by restoring the full operation of the country's deep-sea ports in Odesa region, he added. "We are seeing an increasing trend in the number of ships leaving our ports. We hope it will continue," Solski said.
Ukrainian agricultural producers this week said the new Black Sea corridor could allow exports of up to 2.5 million metric tons of food a month, nearly offsetting the impact of Russia's decision to pull out of a U.N.-brokered deal.
Ukraine shipping sources said more than 40 cargo ships have entered the corridor so far.
Agriculture ministry data showed that as of Oct. 23, Ukraine's grain exports were down 29.7 percent to 8.3 million tons in the 2023-2024 season, which runs from July to June next year.
Ukraine is expected to harvest 79 million tons of grain and oilseed crops in 2023, with export volumes in 2023-2024 of around 50 million tons, the agriculture ministry forecast.
Losses in the sector could exceed 3.2 billion dollars in 2023 due to high logistics costs, as well as fuel and fertilizer price spikes that threaten to reduce acreage in the coming years, farmers' unions said last Thursday. Ukrainian authorities and farmers reported no financial results in 2022, when the Russian invasion began.
Limited export opportunities, now centered on small ports on the Danube River and the railway to Eastern Europe, increased the burden of the logistics component and accordingly reduced the purchase prices traders could offer farmers.
- The closure of the ports also led to a sharp increase in the price of imported fuels, seeds, fertilizers and spare parts for agricultural machinery;
- The Agrarian Council, Ukraine's largest agribusiness group, said wheat production costs in 2023 were about 146 dollars per metric ton with an average selling price of 102 dollars;
- Farmers have costs of 149 dollars to grow corn and can sell it for 94 dollars;
- The council said that in 2023 even sunflower and canola production would be unprofitable and only soybeans would bring any profit to farmers;
- Farmers said heavy losses had already led to reduced plantings for the 2024 crop.
“We planned to sow 2,000 hectares of winter wheat, but we only sowed 1,000,” said Ruslan Holub, director of the “Tak” farm, which has more than 10,000 hectares in central and southern Ukraine.
"Farmers will determine the area they can sow based primarily on their financial capacity," said Oleg Khomenko, head of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club association.
Farmers' unions declined to forecast the areas to be sown for the 2024 wheat crop, while Ukraine's agriculture ministry still maintained its winter wheat sowing forecast at around 4.4 million hectares.
Not only financial difficulties, but also unfavorable weather conditions can significantly reduce the sown area this autumn. Ukraine is a traditional producer of winter wheat, barley and rapeseed. Forecasters said last week that a prolonged lack of rain in most Ukrainian regions had created unfavorable conditions for both the current sowing of winter crops and plants already sown.
They said that the worst situation in terms of soil moisture is in Odesa, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Kirovohrad, Vinnytsia, Cherkassy, Kharkiv regions, where up to 20 cm of the upper soil layers are completely dry.
Farmers planted 3.02 million hectares of winter wheat as of Oct. 16, 2023, compared with 2.5 million hectares on the same date a year ago, agriculture ministry data showed.
Russia said it has neutralized three Ukrainian naval drones in the Black Sea
Russia said today it had neutralized three Ukrainian naval drones in the Black Sea that appeared to have been aimed at the Sevastopol Bay in annexed Crimea, AFP reported.
This morning, "around 04:00 local time, three unmanned Ukrainian military boats were detected in the northern part of the Black Sea," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. The area where the three unmanned military boats were found was struck using anti-sabotage missile-bomb systems, the ministry added, without giving further details.
After the incident in Sevastopol Bay, where the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is located, anti-sabotage and mine-detection measures have been taken, a Russian Defense Ministry source said.
Attacks using naval and air drones off the coast of Crimea have increased since Russia withdrew in July from an agreement allowing the export of Ukrainian grain, according to AFP.
In Russia, a campaign is underway to recruit women to participate in combat operations at the front
Moscow has begun recruiting women for combat tasks in its war against Ukraine, Russian media reported, cited by DPA.
The Internet portal "Important Stories" (istories), which claims to be one of the few sources of independent investigative journalism in Russia, wrote yesterday that female snipers and drone operators are being recruited for a mercenary unit under the command of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The publication's article titled "Made not only for soups and children. Russian women are now being recruited into combat specialties to participate in the war," said that the women are being trained in a special sniper unit and as operators of combat drones.
Until now, women in the Russian army were used only as medical personnel and in the kitchen, DPA recalls.
The women in uniform are offered a six-month contract with a monthly salary equal to about 220,000 rubles (2,330 US dollars). In case of injury, a bonus of 1 to 3 million rubles is provided, and in case of death, their immediate next of kin are paid about 5 million rubles.
Recruitment ads appeared on the Russian social network VKontakte. One of the recruiters for the army told “istories” that they are looking for women who are already trained to use weapons. Novices would be trained within a month on how to handle weapons.
Russia has been waging war against neighboring Ukraine for more than 20 months. It is believed that the victims on both sides are many, DPA points out.
According to British Ministry of Defense estimates, between 240,000 and 290,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Of this number, between 150,000 and 190,000 people have died or are no longer able to fight. The British ministry specified that its estimates did not include soldiers from the mercenary group "Wagner", or convicts who were forcibly sent to the front.
Russia’s ally North Korea is spewing shells for the Russian army
Russia has reduced its consumption of projectiles compared to its peak in the summer of 2022 - while the Russian military then produced between 45,000 and 80,000 projectiles per day, it now produces only 10,000-15,000 per day, the US wrote in its analysis Institute for the Study of War, citing Estonian military intelligence and a Ukrainian military expert.
According to them, Russia has about 4 million shells left.
Deliveries of projectiles from North Korea began in September. According to Estonian intelligence estimates, Pyongyang has already delivered between 300,000 and 500,000 shells, enough for a month.
"Based on Western assessments of domestic production capabilities and North Korea's continued munitions exports, Russia will likely be able to maintain a sufficient density of fire for the foreseeable future. While an overall reduction in Russian firepower may hamper the ability of Russian forces to conduct large-scale offensive operations, Russian forces are unlikely to face widespread shortages that chronically undermine defensive operations, and lower firepower alone does not give Ukrainian forces an advantage," ISW experts conclude.
In 2024, everything will depend on the ability of Western countries to provide Ukraine with superiority in the amount of available ammunition, writes ISW.
Russia continues to rely on Storm-Z special forces to conduct local operations in Ukraine, according to the latest British military intelligence report.
These company-sized teams were likely to be deployed for the first time in 2022. Russia initially viewed them as relatively elite units that could seize the tactical initiative, the report said.
Since at least the spring of 2023, however, Storm-Z has effectively devolved into punitive companies staffed by convicted and professional servicemen with disciplinary charges.
According to numerous reports, these units receive the least attention in terms of logistical and medical support, even though they constantly receive orders to attack.
Russian defense often shows efficiency. However, the existence of the Storm-Z units highlights the extreme difficulties Moscow faces in terms of infantry capable of conducting effective offensive operations, the report added.
Russia and Iran are becoming closer allies
Russia and Iran are strengthening bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said early after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a visit to the Iranian capital, Tehran, Reuters reported.
"In a traditional atmosphere of built trust, substantive current aspects of the bilateral agenda were discussed with an emphasis on further building the entire complex of multilateral Russian-Iranian partnership," the foreign ministry said in a Telegram statement.
Lavrov, who went to Tehran shortly after visiting China and North Korea in Asia, discussed energy and logistics projects with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.
The Russian foreign minister also took part in regional talks hosted by Iran aimed at achieving peace in the South Caucasus region after Azerbaijani forces retook the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh last month and forced thousands of ethnic Armenians to flee.
Since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow has sought to strengthen ties with countries opposed to the West.
Shortly after the war began, Iran began supplying Russia with weapons that were used against Ukraine. Tehran initially denied supplying Shahed kamikaze drones to Russia, but later said it had provided a small number before Moscow launched the war.
Kyiv has repeatedly called on Tehran to stop supplying Russia with deadly drones, which Ukraine says have played a key role in Moscow's attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.
The United States has said it is concerned about the "growing defense partnership" between Iran and Russia, which poses a risk not only to Ukraine but also to Iran's neighbors.
Musk: Russia, China and Iran can defeat the West in World War III
Billionaire Elon Musk believes that military conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine could escalate into World War III and has rated America's military power as insufficient compared to that of other world powers.
"We need to find peace in Ukraine and I think we need to restore normal relations with Russia," Musk said.
He added that the current situation could force Russia into a closer alliance with China, writes the Wall Street Journal.
Speaking at an online panel discussion on his “X” platform, Musk also called for a ceasefire in Ukraine. According to him, the Ukrainians were in a "hopeless situation" in the war with Russia. A similar opinion was expressed by the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Vivek Ramaswamy, who also participated in the debate.
An alliance of Russia, China and Iran could prevail over the West in a global conflict, Musk added.
"We don't have a huge advantage in industrial power. The basis of war is economic power, especially industrial production, that is, how many tanks, guns and drones you can produce compared to the other side," he added.
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