Key developments on Nov. 2:
- Putin says Russia will rejoin Black Sea deal, threatens to revoke it again if unspecified ‘guarantees’ violated
- ‘Epicenter’ of fighting in Bakhmut and Soledar in Donetsk Oblast
- 3-year-old boy wounded by Russian shelling in Kharkiv Oblast
- Russia fires 12 airstrikes across Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Nov. 2 to rejoin the landmark grain deal that created a protected Black Sea corridor for Ukraine to export millions of tons of agricultural products trapped inside the war-torn country.
Putin claimed that Russia received sufficient “guarantees” from Ukraine that the corridor would not be used for military purposes. He added that Turkey acted as an intermediary.
The deal was paused for four days.
The Russian president threatened to revoke the grain deal once again if Ukraine violates the “guarantees,” in a move stirring uncertainty over how long the agreement would hold this time.
Citing two people familiar with the talks, London-based news outlet Middle East Eye reported that “Ukraine had promised to use the grain corridor solely for civilian and humanitarian purposes, and not for launching attacks on Russian assets.”
Ukraine hasn’t commented on the details of the “guarantees” Moscow mentioned.
Russia’s U-turn decision comes a few days after Ukraine and its Western allies had condemned Moscow for using food as a weapon in its decision to pull out of the grain deal on Oct. 29.
The July deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations has allowed Ukraine to ship over 9 million tons of grain and foodstuff throughout the world, which included developing countries on the verge of famine.
The Russian defense ministry suspended its part in the deal after it alleged Ukrainian drone attacked Russian military facilities in Sevastopol in occupied Crimea on Oct. 29. Kyiv has dismissed the accusations, calling them Russia’s self-invented “fictitious attacks” on its own facilities.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Russia’s decision to resume the grain deal, his spokesman said.
Earlier on Nov. 1, Ukraine's Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said that eight vessels with agricultural products are expected to pass through “the grain corridor.”
Known as “Europe’s bread basket,” Ukraine used to export 5 million tons of grain per month before Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February.
The Russian blockade of the Black Sea, a key trade route for Ukraine, persisted until an agreement was reached in July to reopen three Ukrainian ports in southern Odesa Oblast.
On the battlefield, the most intense fighting is raging in the direction of occupied Donetsk in Donetsk Oblast, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on Nov. 2.
Maliar said on TV that Bakhmut and Soledar, eastern towns located near the border with Luhansk Oblast, are “the epicenter” of the battle this week.
Across the country, Ukraine’s General Staff said that Russian forces had attacked infrastructure facilities in more than 15 towns and villages with missiles and Iranian-made kamikaze drones.
In Ukraine’s south, Russian forces are holding on to their captured territories in Kherson Oblast while attacking rear areas with drones and missiles, according to the southern military command.
Meanwhile, the U.S. said it has information that North Korea is covertly supplying Russia with “a significant number of artillery shells” to support its war efforts, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing.
Kirby said that the U.S. is monitoring shipments but it’s not clear whether Russia had already received ammunition.
North Korea has previously denied sending weapons to Russia; Moscow hasn’t commented.
Deepening energy crisis
The morning began with state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo announcing unscheduled, emergency power outages in three regions – Kharkiv, Sumy, and Poltava oblasts.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, busy cities including Kyiv are saving electricity ahead of a hard winter with scheduled power outages, as Russia ramps up its attacks on energy sites across the country.
Lana Zerkal, an adviser to the energy minister, said on TV that there is a substation near Kyiv that was attacked seven times, and repair works are underway.
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which used to provide a fifth of electricity for Ukraine, remains occupied by Russia. Ukraine’s intelligence said on Nov. 2 that Russian forces are threatening Ukrainian staff at the site to get them to sign contracts with Russia’s nuclear power company Rosatom, trying to solidify its control of the plant in all ways possible.
The Nov. 2 report also says that Russians had placed military equipment on the roof of one of the power units at the Moscow-held plant.
In an interview with The Guardian published on Nov. 1, head of Ukrenergo Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said that Russian attacks have hit “virtually all” large non-nuclear power stations in Ukraine and that the “impact is huge.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Nov. 1 that Russian missile and drone strikes have destroyed “30-40% of Ukraine’s energy system.”
Casualties and attacks
Russian forces launched one missile strike and 12 airstrikes across Ukraine on Nov. 2, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.
Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that five bodies of civilians were found in the liberated territory. He reported on Nov. 2 that four civilians were killed and 10 were wounded in the heavily shelled region over the past day.
In the region's city of Toretsk, Russian shelling damaged a building used for surgeries and a maternity ward of a hospital, the governor said.
Near the liberated city of Kupiansk in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast, Russian forces shelled a village and wounded a three-year-old boy, according to Deputy Head of the President's Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
In northern Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine’s Air Force said that it had shot down 12 out of 13 kamikaze drones overnight.
Overnight, six Russian-operated kamikaze drones heading to Kyiv were shot down by Ukraine’s Air Force, the city’s military administration reported early on Nov. 2.