President Selenskyj wants to extend martial law in his country by 90 days. The US Senate confirms a new ambassador to Kyiv. The current developments at a glance:

The United Nations is urging Russia to release blocked grain stocks from Ukraine because of rising world hunger.

“Russia must allow the safe export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a foreign ministers’ meeting in New York. The war Russia started threatens to plunge tens of millions into food insecurity and trigger a crisis “that could last for years”.

Fights continue

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continued on Thursday night. In Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy prepared the population for a continuing war and called for the extension of martial law by 90 days until August. “Our army and everyone who defends the state must have all the legal means to act calmly,” said the head of state in a video speech late Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, preparations for Finland and Sweden to join NATO continue on Thursday. As a sign of support, US President Joe Biden will receive top officials from the two Nordic countries, which have so far been neutral. The US embassy in Kyiv resumed work on Wednesday after almost three months of hiatus, and the US Senate confirmed a new ambassador.

Fighting with civilian casualties in Donbass

The situation on the individual fronts in Ukraine remained largely unchanged. In the east, Russian troops are still trying to fully capture the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The severity of the attacks was also reflected in the deaths of 15 civilians in the region on Wednesday, the Ukrainian army said. At least one child was also killed.

For their part, the Ukrainian forces claimed to have recaptured another village to the north of the city of Kharkiv. In the past few weeks, the Ukrainian army has said it has pushed the Russian troops in the north and north-east of Kharkov further and further towards the border. Like most military reports on both sides, this information was not immediately verifiable.

According to information from Kiev, Russian troops also shelled the north-east Ukrainian regions of Sumy and Chernihiv from their own territory. Russia, in turn, blamed Ukraine for shelling the border village of Tyotkino and other places in the Kursk region.

Moscow extends territorial claims to Zaporizhia

As the highest-ranking politician from Moscow to date, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin visited the partially conquered Zaporizhia region in south-eastern Ukraine. The perspective of the region lies in “working in our harmonious Russian family,” he said in the small town of Melitopol. The regional capital of Zaporizhia is still in Ukrainian hands.

Chusnullin’s demand that Ukraine should pay for electricity from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which was occupied by Russian troops, caused particular outrage in Kyiv. In Cherson, too, the occupying power is looking for a way to join the area to Russia.

World is waiting for the grain from Ukraine

In New York, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) accused Russia of using the blockade of grain exports from Ukraine as a weapon of war. “By blocking Ukrainian ports, destroying silos, roads and railways, and especially farmers’ fields, Russia has started a grain war that is fueling a global food crisis,” she said at the foreign ministers’ meeting on Wednesday.

According to information from the federal government, Russia is preventing the export of 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine, primarily to North Africa and Asia, most of it in the port of Odessa.

UN Secretary-General Guterres said it was necessary to let Ukraine back onto the world market as a major producer, along with Russia and Belarus, which also produced large amounts of food and fertilizer.

Senate confirms new US ambassador to Ukraine

After the US announced plans to reopen its embassy in Kyiv, the Senate confirmed career diplomat Bridget Brink as ambassador to Ukraine. The Chamber of Congress approved the personnel on Wednesday (local time) in Washington. The State Department had previously announced that the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital, which was closed due to the Russian war of aggression, will resume operations.

Brink was previously the US envoy to Slovakia. Previously, she had worked at the State Department in Washington as an expert on Eastern Europe and the Caucasus and as Deputy Ambassador to Uzbekistan and Georgia.

Melnyk: NATO membership would reduce the risk of nuclear war

In view of the planned NATO accession of Sweden and Finland, the Ukrainian ambassador in Germany, Andriy Melnyk, considers his country’s NATO accession to be feasible. “One thing is clear: we want to join NATO quickly. This can happen just as quickly as in the case of Sweden or Finland. It would only take a purely political decision to quickly integrate Ukraine into the alliance,” Melnyk told the newspapers of the Funke media group (Thursday).

“If Ukraine were in the alliance, the risk of a nuclear war would decrease. Then Putin would know: If Ukraine were attacked with nuclear weapons, he would have to reckon with a nuclear retaliation. That would stop him.” Melnyk also believes that Ukraine’s EU membership is possible within the next ten years.

That brings the day

US President Biden talks about NATO expansion in the White House with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niniistö. Finland and Sweden have been cooperating with the western defense alliance for a long time and have decided to join under the impression of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Before admission, however, Turkey’s concerns must be dispelled, which does not suit the Kurdish policy of the Nordic countries.

The top NATO military officers responsible for defense will meet in Brussels on Thursday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) visits the Netherlands. Close allies Berlin and The Hague are also cooperating on supplying arms to Ukraine.