‘Hitting Rock Bottom’ – Drought, Heat Drain Spanish Reservoirs

A flock of sheep shelter from the midday sun under the gothic arches of a medieval bridge flooded in 1956 to create the Cijara reservoir in central Spain, but now fully exposed as the reservoir is 84% empty after a severe drought.

In Andalusia, one of Europe’s hottest and driest regions, paddle-boats and waterslides lie abandoned on the cracked bed of Vinuela reservoir, remnants of a rental business gone with the water, now at a critical level of 13%.

A nearby restaurant fears a similar fate.

“The situation is quite dramatic in the sense that it’s been several years without rain and we’re hitting rock bottom,” said owner Francisco Bazaga, 52. “If it doesn’t rain, unless they find some alternative water supply, the future is very, very dark.”

A prolonged dry spell and extreme heat made July the hottest month in Spain since at least 1961. Spanish reservoirs are at just 40% of capacity on average in early August, well below the ten-year average of around 60%, official data shows.

“We are in a particularly dry year, a very difficult year that confirms what climate change scenarios have been highlighting,” Energy Minister Teresa Ribera told a news conference on Monday, also highlighting that the drought was leading to devastating wildfires.

Climate change has left parts of the Iberian peninsula at their driest in 1,200 years, and winter rains are expected to diminish further, a study published last month by the Nature Geoscience journal showed.

The dry, hot weather is likely to continue into the autumn, Spain’s meteorological service AEMET said in a recent report, putting further strain on Europe’s largest network of dammed reservoirs with a holding capacity of 5.6 billion cubic meters.

At the Buendia reservoir east of Madrid, the ruins of a village and bathhouses have reappeared, caked in dried mud, Reuters drone footage showed, while at another dam near Barcelona a ninth-century Romanesque church has reemerged still intact, attracting visitors.

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VOA Interview: Lithuania President Gitanas Nauseda

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda discussed the challenges for his country caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year with VOA’s Eastern Europe Bureau Chief Myroslava Gongadze on Tuesday in Vilnius.

“Nothing less than democracy and the world order is at stake in that war,” Nauseda told VOA. “There is no limit for the appetite of Vladimir Putin. I don’t know who will be the next target, the Baltic countries, Poland, maybe Romania.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

VOA: Thank you very much for making time to talk to us. You had been to Ukraine on February 23rd, just before the war. At that moment, did you grasp the risk that Ukrainians are in? And did you expect that war would happen so soon?

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda: You know, this threat was in the air. And [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy said that they expect[ed] that the war will, uh, break up in the next 24 to 48 hours. And it happened, let’s say, after eight or 10 hours, we left Ukrainian soil. Yes, the war was terrible, and probably our Ukrainian partners just could not imagine that this war will be organized, if I can express it like this, on such broad scale, broad, broad efforts of Russian troops to try to, first of all, to attack Kyiv, and also the war broke up in other parts of Ukraine, and now we see that this war is much longer than Russia could expect, fortunately. Yes, of course, I understand that it brings a lot of casualties, human lives are [at] stake, and of course, destroyed civil infrastructure. But this is also the fight for not only Ukrainian democracy and Ukrainian territorial integrity, but also the fight for democratic values at all. And this is very important to mention, that Ukraine is fighting very bravely, not only for its freedom but for our freedom, too.

VOA: What do you think Russia is doing? What is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s goal?

Nauseda: I think Putin miscalculated the scenario of this war, the expectations were totally different. Putin expected that they will take over Ukrainian capital Kyiv in a few days, and this war will not bring any huge political and economic consequences on Russia. But we see that it turned out to be totally different. And what is very important to mention that, until the war, the reaction of European politicians, and other countries, too, was, how to say, subdued, if I could express it like this, because nobody expected that this war and the real attempts of Russia are so terrible, and they are ambitions to conquer Ukraine. And afterwards, in the first days of the war, I saw a big commitment and a totally different attitude of my colleagues in [the] European Union to act, to do something, in order first of all to stop the war. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but then we realized that if we had to do more in order to, first of all, to bring war to, yes, to bring on the table very clear consequences on Russia, and Russia must see what will be the consequences. So the first package of sanctions, second, third, fifth. And now we see that European politicians and the countries of European Union understand very well what are the threats posed by Russian authorities. It was not the case, because I remember our discussions in European Council, bilateral meetings. We try to convince our partners. …

VOA: Who is we? When you said we, who is we? Because I understand that your country, Poland, other countries. …

Nauseda: … Poland, Romania, all Eastern European countries, which are exposed to these threats very directly, and we hear very well and really, we listen what Putin is saying, because some. …

VOA: And Western European countries didn’t really realize and underestimated. …

Nauseda: Theoretically, maybe, but the real reactions, they’re not adequate to the rhetoric Putin allowed him to express all this time. And this is the reason why I think it’s very important to understand that Europe is different. Europe understands the threats much better. Of course, Europe is still dependent in many areas, for example, energy dependence. Still, this is a very hot issue. This is not the issue in my country. Lithuania implemented all necessary changes, spent a lot of money in order to change the infrastructure, to create the infrastructure, to be independent in energy field, and we did it. And now we can probably say that Lithuania is not dependent, and Lithuania stopped to buy Russian oil, Russian gas, Russian electricity, so they cannot do anything to us in this regard.

VOA: This dependency on energy resources built up in the last 20 years, specifically with Germany, with France, with other countries. Why do you think that such an underestimation of Russian threats was built and kind of persuaded in the minds of politicians in Western Europe?

Nauseda: I cannot reject the assumption that economic interests, first of all, are there. Money, profit, cheaper energy resources and possibilities to do business with. But another reason was assumptions that we have to deal with totally different kind of policy or politicians in Moscow. Because sometimes I think my colleagues thought that probably Putin is a little bit different, but okay, we can do business with him because we can negotiate. We can talk. We can try to convince, to bring our arguments. And he could not understand that the arguments do not play any role to him, because the main ideology with this regime is to conquer as much as possible, to expand, to find the neighbors we could attack, and this is very clear if you read what they are saying in Moscow, they try to rebuild their empire. They try to restore the Soviet Union in one or another shape. And as you mentioned, as you remember that Putin mentioned that the collapse of Soviet Union was the largest disaster of 20th century. And now they consequently and very logically try to reestablish Soviet Union, and this means not only the risk and threats to Ukraine. This means huge threats to all of us and this time maybe even to those countries which were not a part of former Soviet Union, the countries of Western Europe, too.

VOA: Your country was part of Soviet Union. Does your country feel safe in this environment? And do you think that NATO, your allies in NATO would come to defend you, fully? What is your readiness for the threats?

Nauseda: My response will be very simple. We feel safer as we are [from] 2004, because in 2004, Lithuania became the member of two very important organizations, European Union and NATO. I like to say this sentence and I repeated this sentence many times, European Union was for a better life, NATO was for life. And this is still valid, and this is very important. Yes, we strongly believe in Article 5, we strongly believe in the reassurances of our partners to defend each inch of our soil. But this does not mean that we cannot put additional efforts in order to improve our security, too. We did a lot in this country in order to modernize our army, modernize our military forces, to create better infrastructure to be able to accommodate additional troops from our NATO allies. And we increased our military spending up to 2.5 % of our GDP. And we are ready to provide even more financial resources in order to fulfill all the requirements, which could be adequate to the current situation, the geopolitical situation. And this is very important to mention that Lithuania feels safe, but we have to be aware of these risks because we have to deal with a very dangerous neighbor and the best proof is the situation in Ukraine.

VOA: What is at stake in Ukraine today?

Nauseda: Democracy, the world order… international security situation is [at] stake, and of course [it’s] very important to mention that there’s no limit for the appetite of Vladimir Putin. If they will be successful in Ukraine, they will be at our doors, too. And I don’t know who will be their next target, Baltic countries, maybe Poland, maybe Romania, but this is not the most important question. The most important issue is, we have to do or in the NATO format, in European Union format in order to prevent, to stop Putin. Putin has to finalize his operation, as he calls it, in Ukraine. And I hope very much that Ukraine will be successful, and we will stand together with Ukraine until the victory, of course until the victory of Ukraine. And nowadays we see a lot of assurances coming from Western European leaders, and also other leaders in the world that they are ready to provide military assistance to Ukraine. European Union is strongly committed to impose sanctions and to continue sanctions policy in the future. This is very important because so far, we did a lot, but this is not enough to stop Putin. And we have to realize it and to understand it, that we have to do more, especially military assistance, in the short-term military assistance probably this is the most important problem. In the longer run, there will be very important issues related to humanitarian aid, macroeconomic assistance and so on. But now we understand very well that their conflict will be solved, not sitting at the negotiation table. The conflict will be solved in the battlefield.

VOA: I want to ask you about the role of the United States, because they basically pushed this international coalition and they were warning Ukraine about the possible threats from Russia for a couple of months prior to the war. Do you think the United States is doing enough in this fight? And who do you think should be a leader of this push to stop Putin in the region?

Nauseda: I would expect United States should be the leader, but I would say that actually the United States is a leader in providing military assistance, political support, and this is very important. This is very important, but, of course, I would expect that the speed of the decision making, commitment to provide more assistance and … speed is probably the most important issue right now. Yes, we are talking about additional military equipment, lethal weapons and other equipment. But this is very important that Ukrainians need it today not tomorrow or after tomorrow. And each day brings a lot of casualties, as I mentioned, and people are suffering, destroyed cities and so on, and of course we have to stop it as soon as possible, and the United States’ role in this is crucial. The European Union plays also very important role, but I think we have to deal in solidarity, and we have to be solider and they see the solidarity right now, the United States, the European Union, also like-minded countries in Asia. I see this solidarity and they saw their solidarity in NATO summit in Madrid, where we took very important decisions, bold decisions on the NATO strengthening. Defining Russia as a long-term threat, also very important element of our conclusions in the Madrid summit, and for my country and for Eastern European region, there are very important decisions to mention, for example, forward defense status in [the] Eastern European region. Also brigade-size, -level support and military presence in my country. As you’ll know Germany is a leading country of EFP [Enhanced Forward Protection]. And this is very important to our people, especially probably to our people, to hear that our allies are ready to provide additional support to Lithuania, because security right now is even outpacing the importance of economic and social issues.

VOA: We established already that Russia broke international law and they’re trying to push all the boundaries and rules. However, Russia is still a member of the Security Council of the U.N. Russia has a veto position in the OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] organization and many other organizations. Do you think something has to be done with it?

Nauseda: Unfortunately, this is the reason why we have to find additional formats or maybe alternative formats to deal with Russia, because, yes, you mentioned that United Nations’ Security Council … Russia can create a lot of obstacles [there]. … And this is the reason why we have to find some other formats. I still believe the importance in the United Nations in other fields, for example, providing the channels or trying to solve the issue of grain export to the third countries and secretary-general [Antonio Guterres] put a lot of effort in order to solve this issue and probably in such formats, United Nations would be quite effective instrument to provide additional support to Ukraine. But we have to find also other formats, bilateral formats are important, too. I mentioned the European Union and I mentioned NATO, but bilateral support: Germany, France, the United States and even smaller-sized countries. This bilateral support is very important and I heard it from President Zelenskyy during my last visit in Kyiv, which was organized on the statehood day, as you know, Ukraine is celebrating the first time the statehood day. And it was very important to me to attend this event in Kyiv. I held the speech in Verkhovna Rada [parliament] and President Zelensky said to me, Lithuania did a lot and probably it is a good example to other countries. They can provide and they can be even more effective by providing needed support to Ukraine. But we are strongly committed, and this is not only the opinion or commitment of our political elite, this is a commitment of all people of Lithuania or almost all.

VOA: You are committed, Poland is committed. Germany is reluctant. How do you try and do you feel you are successful in persuading other countries to do more?

Nauseda: Maybe someone could be skeptical about the attitude or the German position in the last months, but I see huge progress. Because I couldn’t, I can compare the situation with the situation, let’s say, a few months ago as Germany was reluctant, really reluctant to provide any kind of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Now it’s not the case. Now we are talking about the speed of decision making and this is huge progress. And I think in the thinking we see this shift. The shift of thinking is also evident, and I think this is our contribution, too. We try to talk, we try to establish the needed dialogue with our colleagues in Germany and I think they react also to the public opinion, too, because public opinion is very clear, too. I remember my visit in Berlin at the end of February and I had the possibility to attend the meeting against the war in Ukraine on [February 26, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine]. I returned home and the next day, I heard that there was a meeting on [February 27], 100,000 people [in Germany were protesting], and on Saturday, maybe 500. So you see the dynamic in the public opinion in Germany and this is very important that people understand that they have to do this. Germany is not, how to say, free of threats imposed or posed by Russia. Germany is also the target. Like Lithuania, Romania or other countries of Eastern Europe.

VOA: How do you see this war end?

Nauseda: I do not see any other alternative, and we have to put all efforts in order to achieve the victory of Ukraine in this war, because all other scenarios would be very dark for Ukraine itself, for Lithuania and for the whole democratic world.

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WMO: July Is One of Warmest Months on Record

The World Meteorological Organization or WMO reports the month of July was one of the three warmest on record globally. This, despite a weak La Nina event, which is supposed to have a cooling influence.

Meteorologists warn the heatwave that swept through large parts of Europe last month is set to continue in August. They note July was drier than average in much of Europe, badly affecting local economies and agriculture, as well as increasing the risk of wildfires.

WMO Spokeswoman Clare Nullis says Britain’s Met Office has issued another advisory warning of a heat buildup throughout this week. However, she says temperatures are not expected to reach the extreme, record-setting temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius seen in July.

“But it is well above average. Temperatures in France this week, well above average. In Switzerland, many parts of Switzerland well above average. And as I said, continuing the trend that we saw in July, Spain saw its hottest ever month in July. So, not just the hottest July but the hottest ever month on record.”

Nullis says Europe and other parts of the world will have to get used to and adapt to the kind of heatwaves WMO’s Secretary-General Petteri Taalas calls “the new normal.”

While Europe was sweltering under extreme heat in July, WMO reports Antarctic Sea ice reached its lowest July level on record. This follows a record low Sea ice level in June. While Europe saw a lot of heat in July, Nullis notes big chunks of the Antarctic did as well.

“It is important to bear in mind there is quite a big sort of monthly and year-to-year variability in Antarctica. So, the fact that it was the lowest on record in June and in July does not mean necessarily that this is a long-term irreversible trend.”

WMO reports the long-lasting drought in parts of Europe also is set to continue. It warns below-normal precipitation in many parts of Europe will cause or worsen drought conditions and likely trigger more forest fires.

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Russia Launches Iranian Satellite Amid Ukraine War Concerns

An Iranian satellite launched by Russia blasted off from Kazakhstan on Tuesday and reached orbit amid controversy that Moscow might use it to boost its surveillance of military targets in Ukraine. 

As Russia’s international isolation grows following Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin is seeking to pivot Russia toward the Middle East, Asia and Africa and find new clients for the country’s space program. 

Speaking at the Moscow-controlled Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe, Russian space chief Yury Borisov hailed “an important milestone in Russian-Iranian bilateral cooperation, opening the way to the implementation of new and even larger projects.” 

Iran’s Telecommunications Minister Isa Zarepour, who also attended the launch of the Khayyam satellite, called the event historic and “a turning point for the start of a new interaction in the field of space between our two countries.” 

Nasser Kanani, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said on Twitter that “the brilliant path of scientific and technological progress of the Islamic republic of Iran continues despite sanctions and the enemies’ maximum pressure.” 

Iran, which has maintained ties with Moscow and refrained from criticism of the Ukraine invasion, has sought to deflect suspicions that Moscow could use Khayyam to spy on Ukraine. 

Last week, The Washington Post quoted anonymous Western intelligence officials as saying that Russia “plans to use the satellite for several months or longer” to assist its war efforts before allowing Iran to take control. 

Less than two hours after the satellite was launched on a Soyuz-2.1b rocket, the Iran Space Agency (ISA) said “ground stations of the Iran Space Agency” had received “first telemetric data.”  

The space agency stressed on Sunday that the Islamic republic would control the satellite “from day one” in an apparent reaction to the Post’s report. 

“No third country is able to access the information” sent by the satellite because of its “encrypted algorithm,” it said. 

The purpose of Khayyam is to “monitor the country’s borders,” enhance agricultural productivity and monitor water resources and natural disasters, according to the space agency. 

Iran is negotiating with world powers, including Moscow, to salvage a 2015 deal aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. 

The United States quit the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin met Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran last month, one of his few trips abroad since Moscow’s February 24 invasion.  

Iran’s Khamenei called for “long-term cooperation” with Russia during their meeting, and Tehran has refused to join international condemnation of Moscow’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbor. 

Iran insists its space program is for civilian and defense purposes only, and does not breach the 2015 nuclear deal, or any other international agreement.  

Borisov, who last month replaced bombastic nationalist Dmitry Rogozin as head of the Russian space agency, had acknowledged that the national space industry is in a “difficult situation” amid tensions with the West. 

Russia will continue its space program but end activities at the International Space Station, an outlier of cooperation between Moscow and the West, after 2024, he said. 


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США виділять 89 мільйонів доларів на розмінування України – Державний департамент

«Гротескне використання саморобних вибухових пристроїв у спосіб, який ми бачимо в Україні російськими акторами, раніше асоціювалося лише з ІДІЛ»

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American Motorcyclist Rides Deep Into Russia-Ukraine War’s Heart of Darkness

In what he calls his humanitarian voyage, American Neale Bayly has been riding his motorcycle around Ukraine — not only to see the sights, but also to bring attention to its war against Russia, and raise funds for the children he meets along the way. Omelyan Oshchudlyak has the story. VOA footage by Yuriy Dankevych.

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Kyiv Says Russians Trying to Dislodge Its Forces in Donetsk, As Nuclear Concerns Persist

A Russian offensive is continuing toward the hub cities of Bakhmut and Avdiyivka in the eastern Donetsk region as the enemy tries to inflict “maximum losses” on Ukrainian forces, the Ukrainian Army’s General Staff said early on August 9.

It said the Russian Air Force was bombarding military facilities in the direction of Donetsk in support of artillery and other ground operations aimed at dislodging Ukrainian units from the front lines.

British intelligence warned on August 8 that Russia was using anti-personnel mines in an effort to defend and hold its defense lines in the Donbas, with resulting risks to both the military and local civilian populations.

Battlefield reports from either side in the rapidly developing conflict are difficult to confirm.

But Kyiv’s military planners said their forces had repelled reconnaissance and offensive operations in a handful of settlements around Ivano-Daryivka, Bakhmut, and Zaitsevo.

They said Russian forces had withdrawn after unsuccessful pushes around Avdiyivka and Krasnohorivka.

Kyiv said two Russian warships armed with Kalibr cruise missiles are poised for battle off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

Meanwhile, international concern persisted over the weekend shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant over the potential for a disaster at Europe’s largest atomic facility.

The head of the Ukrainian nuclear power company Enerhoatom has urged that Zaporizhzhya be declared a military-free zone to avoid nuclear catastrophe.

Zaporizhzhya was seized early in the five-month-old invasion but continues to be manned by Ukrainian staff.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing” in calling on August 8 for international inspectors to be given access to Zaporizhzhya.

The Russian-installed head of the local administration was quoted by Interfax as saying on August 8 that the facility was operating “in normal mode.”

Washington and the World Bank announced more support for Ukraine on the heels of U.S. President Joe Biden’s committing this week to the single largest package of security assistance under his so-called drawdown authority with $1 billion in aid that includes long-range weapons and medical transport vehicles.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, said on August 8 that Washington would provide $4.5 billion more in economic funding, nearly doubling the budgetary support so far since Russia’s invasion began in February.

The World Bank said it will implement the U.S. grant, which it said is aimed at urgent needs including healthcare, pensions, and social payments.

Also, Reuters cited a document in which Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and the United Nations pledged to ensure a 10-nautical-mile buffer zone for ships exporting Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.

The long-awaited procedures are part of intense international efforts to unblock millions of tons of grain stuck at Ukrainian ports since the invasion began.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and the Asssoiated Press.

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Члена окупаційної адміністрації Нової Каховки затримали за кримінальним звинуваченням – ЗМІ

За даними так званого «тимчасового управління МВС Росії» в регіоні, Єфименка підозрюють у причетності до банди, яка за останні тижні здійснила щонайменше два напади на двох місцевих бізнесменів

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Зеленський закликав Клінтона допомогти звернути увагу світу на ядерний терор Росії

«Для нас дуже важливо, щоб суспільства, де свобода й демократія є базовими цінностями, не втрачали відчуття актуальності війни в Україні»

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EU Lays Down ‘Final’ Text To Resurrect Iran Nuclear Deal

The European Union on Monday said it put forward a “final” text to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as four days of indirect talks between U.S. and Iranian officials wrapped up in Vienna.

“What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text. However, behind every technical issue and every paragraph lies a political decision that needs to be taken in the capitals,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted.

“If these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal,” he added as EU, Iranian and U.S. prepared to leave Vienna.

Earlier, a senior EU official told reporters that no more changes could be made to the text, which has been under negotiation for 15 months, and said he expected a final decision from the parties within a “very, very few weeks.”

“It is a package proposal. … You cannot agree with page 20 and disagree with page 50. You have to say yes or no,” he said.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Washington was ready to quickly reach an agreement to revive the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on the basis of the EU proposals.

Iranian officials suggested that they did not regard the EU proposals as final, saying they would convey their “additional views and considerations” to the European Union, which coordinates the talks, after consultations in Tehran.

Iran has also made demands the United States and other Western powers view as outside the scope of reviving the deal.

For example, Iran has insisted the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, drop its claims Iran has failed to fully explain uranium traces at undeclared sites.

Each side sought to put the onus on the other to compromise.

“They (the Iranians) repeatedly say they are prepared for a return to mutual implementation of the JCPOA. Let’s see if their actions match their words,” the U.S. spokesperson said.

Iran and six major powers struck the original accord in 2015 under which it agreed to restrict its nuclear program to make it harder to use it to develop atomic weapons — an ambition it denies — in return for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. sanctions.

In 2018, then U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the deal and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions designed to choke off Iran’s oil exports, its major source of export income and government revenue.

In response, Tehran — which says its nuclear program is for power generation and other peaceful purposes — began about a year later to breach the agreement in several ways, including rebuilding stocks of enriched uranium.

It has also enriched uranium to 60% purity — far above the 3.67% that is permitted under the deal but below the 90% that is regarded as weapons grade.

U.S. President Joe Biden has sought to revive the agreement since he took office in January 2021 and negotiations — indirect because Iran refuses to deal directly with the United States on the issue — began in Vienna in April 2021.

Iran has also sought to obtain guarantees that no future U.S. president would renege on the deal if it were revived, as Trump did in 2018. Washington cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.

Iranian state media hinted at this issue on Monday.

“The final agreement must ensure the rights and interests of the Iranian people and guarantee the effective and stable removal of sanctions,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Borrell in a call, state media reported.

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Зеленський позбавив фігуриста Петренка стипендії за виступи в Росії

«У липні поточного року спортсмен виступив на льодовому шоу «Аленький цветочек» у Сочі попри розв’язану РФ жорстоку війну проти України»

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Ukraine ‘Optimistic’ After Arrival of First Grain Shipment

The first cargo ship to reach its final destination after departing from Ukraine under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv docked in Turkey on Monday, Kyiv said, while a consignment due in Lebanon reported delays.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia’s invasion, but Black Sea exports recently restarted under a deal brokered by the U.N. and Turkey.

The Turkish cargo ship — the Polarnet — that reached its final destination left the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk last week carrying 12,000 metric tons of corn.

It arrived in Turkey as scheduled after being inspected by the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) established in Istanbul under the international agreement signed last month, Kyiv said.

“This first successful completion of the implementation of the ‘grain deal’ means it is possible to be optimistic about future transportation,” Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov was quoted as saying in a statement by the ministry.

The statement did not give the ship’s destination, but the website vesselfinder.com gave its location as the port of Derince, Turkey.

The deal brokered by Turkey and the U.N. lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports and set terms for millions of tons of wheat and other grain to start flowing from silos and ports.

The Razoni was the first ship to leave Ukraine under the deal.

It left the port of Odesa August 1 carrying 26,000 tons of corn and was expected in Tripoli in Lebanon this weekend but has yet to reach the destination.

The Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon explained on social media that the consignment was delayed after the original buyer refused delivery, citing a five-month delay in shipment.

“The sender is therefore looking for another recipient. This may be in Lebanon or in another country,” it added in a statement on Twitter.

Eight ships have left Ukrainian ports since the agreement was signed, Kyiv said Monday, and it hoped that between three and five ships would be able to depart daily within two weeks.

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Україна «щодня» отримує від партнерів підтвердження участі в другій «Кримській платформі» – Кулеба

«Сигнал, який ми надсилаємо проведенням цього саміту, дуже простий: Україна ніколи не забуде про жодну свою окуповану територію»

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