– Gazprom to drastically slash deliveries –

Russian energy giant Gazprom says it is cutting daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline to 33 million cubic metres a day — about 20 percent of the pipeline’s capacity — from Wednesday, July 27.

It says in a statement that it is halting the operation of one of the last two operating turbines due to the “technical condition of the engine”.

The German government says there is “no technical reason” for Gazprom’s announcement.

Heavily dependent upon Russian gas, Germany has accused Moscow of using energy as a “weapon”, and EU states accuse it of squeezing supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

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– Grain deliveries to start ‘this week’ –

Ukraine expects the first grain shipments under a UN-Turkey brokered deal to leave its ports “this week”, its infrastructure minister says, despite Russian strikes on the Black Sea port of Odesa, which is crucial for grain exports.

“We are preparing for everything to start this week,” says Oleksandr Kubrakov, who led the Ukrainian delegation that reached a deal last week with Russia on unblocking Ukraine’s grain exports.

The future of the agreement, seen as crucial to relieving a global food crisis, had appeared in jeopardy after Russian forces launched strikes on Odessa a day after the agreement was signed.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the missile strikes “should not affect the start of shipment”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the strikes on Odessa show Moscow cannot be trusted to keep its promises.

– Russia fights for Donbas, Ukraine for Kherson –

The Ukrainian presidency says that a Russian strike trapped seven people under a collapsed cultural centre in the northeastern Kharkiv region. Three were pulled out alive and the rescue operation was ongoing.

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In the eastern Donbas region, where Russian troops are pressing on having made gains, shelling continues across the entire front line and at least one person was killed in the town of Soledar.

In the south — where Kyiv has vowed a major counter-offensive to retake the strategic Kherson region — the authorities said Ukrainian forces stopped a Russian push in several villages as fighting raged elsewhere.

A local official said Sunday that a Ukrainian operation to retake the region Russia captured early in the invasion would be over by September.

– UK to host 2023 Eurovision –

Britain agrees to take Ukraine’s place as hosts of next year’s Eurovision song contest after the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) ruled out Ukraine hosting it itself.
Ukraine won this year’s contest, held in Italy, ahead of Britain’s entry in second place. The winner traditionally organises the next year’s show. But the EBU ruled that out in view of the war, and Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC acquiesced to a UK-hosted event infused with “Ukrainian spirit”.

Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko welcomes the news, saying Ukraine had “received assurances… that they will hold Eurovision… with an extremely high integration of Ukrainian contexts and presenters.”

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