Grain shipments sit idle as Russia claims more gains in Ukraine

Ukrainian civilians have endured months of suffering, but even people far away from the fighting are feeling the effects of the Russian invasion. The blockade of Black Sea ports has helped to drive up the cost of food, putting those who cannot afford it at risk.

Russian commanders have faced more resistance from Ukrainian troops than they -- and many others -- had expected. They lost another high-ranking officer in one of the latest battles. Still, they are pressing ahead in their drive to control the eastern stronghold of Severodonetsk and the surrounding Luhansk region.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 97 percent of Luhansk has been "liberated." He added that, to the south, the Russians have finished the job of removing mines from the city of Mariupol. He added that they are ready to ship grain again through the Black Sea.

However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russians have prevented shipments from getting out, and that up to 25 million tons of grain sitting idle.

He said Ukraine's ports are blocked and that they can't export grain, barley, or sunflower oil. He said the Russians have stolen Ukraine's grain carried it away on ships. He added that shipments from territory seized by the Russians would amount to looting.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has headed to Turkey for discussions with leaders there. Food exports are expected to be a main talking point.