Live: Ukraine makes steady progress in Kharkiv region

Live: Ukraine makes steady progress in Kharkiv region

Politics

The EU pledged an additional €500 million in military aid to Ukraine at a meeting of G7 nations on Friday while diplomatic efforts intensified with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin both calling on their Russian counterparts to agree to an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).  

10:15pm: Ukrainian servicemen load bodies of Russian soldiers onto refrigerated rail cars

 Ukrainian military authorities loaded the bodies of Russian soldiers collected after fighting in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions onto refrigerated rail cars on Friday. Volodymr Lyamzin, the head of Ukraine’s civil-military cooperation, said his country was acting in accordance with international law and was ready to return the bodies to Russia.

“According to the norms of international humanitarian law, and Ukraine is strictly following them, after the active phase of the conflict is over, sides have to return the bodies of the military of another country. “Ukraine is ready to return the bodies to the aggressor,” he said. Lyamzin said there were several refrigerator trains stationed in different regions across Ukraine where the bodies of Russian soldiers were being kept.

Several hundred bodies were being stored at a facility on the outskirts of Kyiv filmed by Reuters. “In this refrigerator train several hundred bodies of Russian occupiers are kept. Most of them was brought from the Kyiv region, there are some from Chernihiv region, and from some other regions too,” Lyamzin said.

8:25pm: Ukraine: talks with Russia on getting defenders out of Azovstal very difficult

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Friday said negotiations with Russia on getting defenders out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol were “very difficult” but did not give details.

“The result may not be to everyone’s liking, but our task is to evacuate our boys. All of them. Alive,” she said in an online post. “God willing we will rescue them all.”

7:35pm: Georgian breakaway territory sets July 17 referendum on joining Russia

The president of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia on Friday announced the territory would hold a referendum on July 17 on whether to become part of Russia, Tass news agency said.

Moscow recognised South Ossetia and the coastal region of Abkhazia as independent after fighting a war with Georgia in 2008. It has provided extensive financial support, offered Russian citizenship to their populations and stationed thousands of troops there.

7:26pm: Biden, in call with Sweden and Finland leaders, backs NATO decisions

US President Joe Biden in a call with the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Friday said he supported NATO’s open door policy and the two Nordic countries’ right to determine their “own future, foreign policy, and security arrangements.”

Biden spoke with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland President Sauli Niinistö, with the three leaders reiterating their support of Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

6:59pm: US, Russian defense chief call on Ukraine resolved no ‘acute issues’, says Pentagon

The first talks between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu since the Ukraine war began made no progress on key issues despite the US side’s call for a ceasefire, a senior Pentagon official said Friday.

“The call itself didn’t specifically solve any acute issues or lead to a direct change in what the Russians are doing or what they are saying,” the official told reporters.

6:50pm: Russian air forces hit arms depot in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region

Russian air forces have attacked an arms depot in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, state news agency RIA quoted the Russian Defence Ministry as saying on Friday.

6:37pm: Ukraine to import 420,000 T of fuel in May as Russia strikes depots

Ukraine has signed contracts to import 300,000 tonnes of diesel and 120,000 tonnes of petrol to cover consumption in May as Russia targets Ukrainian fuel infrastructure, First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said on Friday.

Russia has destroyed 27 fuel depots and the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine since it launched its Feb. 24 invasion, the government official said at a government meeting.

6:03pm: Italy fully backs Finland, Sweden joining NATO, says foreign minister

Italy will fully support NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday. “We as Italy will be very happy to welcome these two countries in this great alliance that defends its member countries and… which has guaranteed peace for decades,” Di Maio told reporters in Berlin.

Finland said on Thursday it would seek to join the US-led military alliance without delay and Sweden is expected to follow its neighbour’s lead as early as Monday.

6:00pm: Russian inflation jumps to 17.83% in April, highest since early 2002

Consumer inflation in Russia accelerated in April to 17.83% in year-on-year terms, its highest level since January 2002, data showed on Friday, as it got a boost from the volatile rouble and unprecedented western sanctions that disrupted logistics chains.

But monthly inflation slowed to 1.56% in April from 7.61% in March when it staged the biggest month-on-month increase since January 1999, data from the federal statistics service Rosstat showed.

5:20pm: Two journalists for Russia’s RT injured in Ukraine

Two journalists for Kremlin-backed television channel RT were injured Friday during a rocket attack in eastern Ukraine the channel blamed on Ukrainian forces.  A TV crew of RT’s correspondent Valentin Gorshenin came under Ukrainian troops’ rocket fire near the town of Dokuchaevsk in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, the channel said in a statement on messaging app Telegram.

“Cameramen Vladimir Batalin and Viktor Miroshnikov received shrapnel wounds to their legs and back,” the statement said. “They are being taken to the hospital now.” The correspondent himself was not injured. There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian authorities.

5:04pm: US defence chief urges immediate Ukraine ceasefire in call with Russian counterpart

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin held a call with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday in which he called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, the Pentagon said.

It was the first time Austin had spoken with Shoigu since February 18, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

5:04pm: World ‘paying price’ of food crisis in Russia’s war, says Ukraine minister

The impact of the Russian invasion on food exports from Ukraine, a traditional arable farming powerhouse, would be felt across the world, its agriculture minister said Friday.

“People across the world are paying the price for this war,” Mykola Solsky said in a press conference during a meeting of G7 agriculture ministers in Stuttgart.

5:00pm: Russia to halt power exports to Finland due to lack of payment

Russian utility Inter RAO will stop exporting electricity to Finland from Saturday at 0100 local-time (Friday at 2200 GMT), the Finnish grid company said on Friday. The trade in electricity imported from Russia will be suspended for the time being due to difficulties in receiving payments for electricity sold on the market, Fingrid said in a statement, citing Inter RAO.

“There is no threat to the adequacy of electricity in Finland,” the grid said, adding that power from Russia accounted for some 10% of Finland’s total power consumption.

4:52pm: US says working to clarify Turkey’s position on Sweden, Finland NATO bid

The United States is working to clarify Turkey’s position on Sweden and Finland’s potential membership to NATO, the top US diplomat for Europe at the State Department said on Friday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara is not supportive of the two countries’ bid to join the alliance.

In a call with reporters, Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, said the topic will be discussed at the NATO ministerial meeting over the weekend in Berlin.

3:46pm: UK, US defence ministers discuss support for Ukraine

Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and his US  counterpart discussed next steps to help Ukraine, including military aid, in talks held in the United States this week, a statement published by the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

“We will continue to work with unity and resolve to provide Ukraine with what it needs to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked invasion,” Wallace said in the statement, issued on Friday after a meeting with Lloyd Austin on Wednesday. “We discussed the next steps to provide defensive support for Ukraine, as well as AUKUS (a defence pact between Australia, the United States and Britain), the future of NATO, and other aspects of our shared security.”

3:39pm: Russia expels 10 Romanian diplomats

Russia is expelling 10 Romanian diplomats, both sides said Friday, in a tit-for-tat move following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. “The Russian federation declared 10 employees of the Romanian embassy in Moscow persona non grata,” the Romanian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The news was confirmed by Moscow and follows the April 5 expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats “whose activities breached the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” according to the Romanian foreign ministry. The Russian foreign ministry also said Friday it “firmly rejects the groundless attempts by the Romanian side to blame Russia for war crimes in Ukraine.”

It slammed “Bucharest’s policy of whitewashing the atrocities committed by (Ukraine’s) national guard against civilians as well as the supply of weapons, equipment and other assistance to the regime in Kyiv”.

3:38pm: Helsinki urges patience after Turkey says not supportive of Finland joining NATO

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto urged patience on Friday and called for a step-by-step approach in response to Turkish resistance to Finnish and Swedish NATO membership.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier said NATO member Turkey could not support Finnish and Swedish plans to join the alliance, erecting a potential stumbling block as membership requires unanimous backing from all 30 member states.

3:36pm: Access to abortions needed for Ukrainian refugees in Poland, says UNHCR

Women who have fled to Poland to escape war must have access to reproductive rights that meet international standards, including abortions, a top UNHCR official said on Friday, amid reports of rape and sexual violence in Ukraine.

Poland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, and human rights activists have raised concerns about the difficulties victims of rape from Ukraine fleeing to the country may face if they need to terminate a pregnancy. “There are particular policies (regarding reproductive services in Poland) that we believe do not meet international standards,” assistant high commissioner for protection Gillian Triggs told a news briefing. “(Victims of sexual violence) need counselling and they need assistance. In some cases they will need abortions. We will raise this … with the government,” she said.

She said that the UNHCR would work with those who needed an abortion to make sure that they got them in Poland or elsewhere.

2:59pm: Russian court fines Radio Liberty nearly $200,000 over ‘fakes’, says Interfax

A Moscow court has fined US backed broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) 12.8 million roubles ($196,621) for not deleting what Russia calls “fake” content about its operation in Ukraine, Interfax news agency reported on Friday.

2:55pm: Zelensky says Macron talking to Putin ‘in vain’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes that French leader Emmanuel Macron is trying “in vain” to have a constructive dialogue with Russian President Putin, according to an interview transcript released by Kyiv Friday. “We must not look for a way out for Russia, and Macron is doing it in vain,” Zelensky told Italian television Rai 1, according the Ukrainian president’s Telegram channel.

“I know he wanted to get results from mediation between Russia and Ukraine, but he didn’t get any,” Zelensky said. Moscow, he said, would not seek any end to the fighting “until Russia itself wants and understands that it needs” this. The Elysee told AFP on Friday that Marcon had “never discussed anything with Vladimir Putin without the agreement of President Zelensky”.

“He has always said that it is up to the Ukrainians to decide the terms of their negotiation with the Russians.” The French leader said earlier this week that Russia and Ukraine would have to come to a negotiated truce and that peace efforts would not be served by Russia’s “humiliation”. Zelensky said that “some European leaders think we need to find a way of talking with Putin”. “We have been looking for them for years. And today, these routes are littered with bodies, bodies of our people,” the Ukrainian leader added. Zelensky however repeated his offer to speak with Putin directly but described talks with Russian as “no longer possible”. “Today, the stage when we could sit down with Russia has passed.”

2:11pm: Germany considering whether to supply IRIS-T air defence system to Ukraine

Germany is considering supplying IRIS-T SLM medium range surface-to-air defence systems to Ukraine, a security source said on Friday. German daily Bild had reported earlier that the German cabinet’s security council was discussing the matter, and that IRIS-T SLM systems, made by privately held German weapons maker Diehl Defense, could be deployed in Ukraine from November.

1:58pm: Zelensky reiterates readiness to talk to Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has reiterated an offer to hold direct talks with President Putin, and said Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine should be the starting point for any discussions.

“As president, I am ready to talk to Putin, but only to him. Without any of his intermediaries. And in the framework of dialogue, not ultimatums,” he told Italy’s RAI 1 television in an interview broadcast in Ukraine on Friday.

In his most detailed public comments for weeks on the prospects of peace talks, Zelensky said Ukraine would not compromise over its territorial integrity.

He ruled out suggestions – which he attributed to France – that Ukraine should make concessions for the sake of securing a peace agreement that would allow Putin to save face.

“Get out of this territory that you have occupied since February 24,” he said. “This is the first clear step to talking about anything.”

Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29. Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky was quoted by Interfax news agency on Monday as saying peace talks were being held remotely.

1:34pm: Russia bears ‘responsibility’ for global food supply crunch: Scholz to Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that Moscow bore a “responsibility” for disruptions in the global food supply due to its invasion of Ukraine, Berlin said.

“The chancellor and the Russian president also spoke about the global food situation which is particularly strained due to Russia’s war of aggression,” Scholz’s office said in a statement after a call between the leaders. “The chancellor reminded him that Russia bears a particular responsibility here.” 

1:33pm: Finland prepared in case Russia cuts off gas, emergency committee says

Finland is ready to cope in the event that Russia cuts off its supply of natural gas, the government’s emergency preparedness committee said after a meeting on Friday. Key Finnish politicians had been warned of a possible halt

to gas exports by Russia on Friday, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported on Thursday. Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen told reporters he could not confirm the report while the Kremlin said the newspaper report was “most likely a hoax” and reiterated that state-owned gas company Gazprom remained a reliable gas supplier.

Gazprom did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment. State-owned Gasgrid Finland had no indication of any disruption to gas flows on Friday, a spokesperson told Reuters. “Finland is prepared for a suspension of Russian natural gas imports,” the committee said in a statement. The country imports most of its gas from neighbouring Russia but gas accounts for only about 5% of its annual energy consumption.

1:17pm: Germany’s Scholz pushes for Ukraine ceasefire in call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a ceasefire in Ukraine as soon as possible during a telephone call on Friday, a government spokesperson said on Friday.

A truce was needed to improve the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and allow progress in finding a diplomatic solution for the conflict, the spokesperson said. During the 75-minute call, Scholz reminded Putin of Russia’s responsibility for the global food situation, the spokesperson added.

1:08pm: German gas supply is stable, says energy regulator

Gas supply in Germany is stable overall, with storage levels at 39.3%, the national energy regulator said in a daily report on Friday as it closely monitors possible effects of gas transit sanctions imposed by Russia.

The Kremlin on Thursday said it had imposed sanctions on companies including Gazprom Germania, a former unit of Russian state company Gazprom, and its gas trading subsidiary Wingas. Energy wholesale prices were down on Friday after the government and Wingas said gas could be sourced elsewhere.

1:06pm: Russia advises citizens against travelling to Britain

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday that it is recommending its citizens refrain from travelling to the United Kingdom, citing difficulties Russians face when trying to obtain a visa there.

“Taking into account the extremely unfriendly course of the UK towards our country, in order to avoid financial losses and other possible problems, we recommend that Russian citizens refrain, if possible, from travelling to the UK and trying to obtain British visas”, it said.

1:06pm: Erdogan says Turkey not positive on Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to positively view plans by Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance, saying the two countries were “home to many terrorist organisations”.

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it was a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member in the past.

Turkey has been officially supportive of enlargement since it joined NATO 70 years ago. Any decision on enlargement must be made by unanimous agreement of its members.

“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations,” Erdogan said.

“They are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favour,” he added.

Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that President Putin aimed to prevent.

Putin on Friday discussed the potential NATO membership of the two countries with his security council, according to the RIA news agency. 

The Kremlin has said indications that Finland and Sweden planned to join the US-led military bloc were a hostile move that posed a threat to Russia’s security, and pledged to respond.

1:00pm: G7 finmins eyeing 30 billion euros in Ukraine aid but opposition remains, says Spiegel magazine

The finance ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7) aim to agree on providing close to 30 billion euros ($31.15 billion) in financial support to Ukraine at their meeting in Germany next week, Spiegel magazine reported.

The aid, which is intended to cover the war-torn country’s financial needs up to the end of the year, would be provided in the form of loans and grants, meaning that Kyiv would not have to repay the entire sum, Spiegel reported on Friday, citing sources involved in the negotiations.

There is still opposition to the plan, the report said, adding that one European country has reportedly not yet agreed to participate.

12:50pm: Putin discusses Finland and Sweden’s NATO plans with Security Council 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday discussed Finland’s and Sweden’s potential NATO membership with his Security Council, the RIA news agency reported.

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Finland’s indications that it planned to join the U.S.-led military bloc were a hostile move that posed a threat to Russia’s security, and pledged to respond.

12:50pm: Putin, Scholz discuss Ukraine situation in phone call

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed the situation in Ukraine in a telephone call on Friday, according to the offices of the two leaders.

Scholz told Putin that Russia ‘bears responsibility’ for the global food situation, according to a German government spokesperson.

During the 75-minute call, Scholz said a truce was needed to improve the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and enable progress in finding a diplomatic solution for the conflict, according to the spokesperson.

The Kremlin readout said Putin insisted that Russia was fighting “Nazi ideology” in Ukraine.

“Attention has been drawn to the continued violations of international humanitarian law by militants advocating Nazi ideology and using terrorist methods,” said the Kremlin readout.

Putin reiterated that Moscow’s military operation was aimed at protecting the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine.

Scholz has come under fire for arms deliveries to Ukraine deemed insufficient and Germany’s reliance on Russian energy imports.

Germany’s economy is now racing to wean itself off Russian energy and has already almost completely phased out Russian coal.

12:44pm: Ukraine asks G7 to seize Russia assets to rebuild country

Ukraine asked the G7 countries on Friday to seize Russia’s assets and hand them to Kyiv to help rebuild the country, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, adding that he hoped Hungary would agree with EU partners an oil embargo on Moscow.

“Canada has already done this and I have a feeling that others will reach that point sooner rather than later. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars. Russia must pay,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 foreign ministers meeting in northern Germany.

12:20pm: Kremlin dismisses Polish PM’s criticism of Putin as ‘shocking’ 

The Kremlin hit back on Friday at calls by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to “root out” Russia’s “monstrous ideology”. “This is the quintessence of that hatred towards Russians that has regrettably, like a metastasis, infected the entire Polish leadership and, in many ways, Polish society,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in briefing.

Morawiecki had said Russian President Vladimir Putin was more dangerous than either Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin because of the advanced weapons at his disposal, in a column for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday. “This shocking statement, unfortunately, is hysterical and unacceptable,” Peskov said.

11:39am: Kremlin says possible gas cuts for Finland ‘most likely a hoax’

A report in a Finnish newspaper that Russia may cut gas supplies to Finland as soon as Friday seems to be fake, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Most likely, this is another newspaper hoax,” he told a conference call, adding that Gazprom remained a reliable gas supplier.

Newspaper Iltalehti reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources, that Finnish politicians had been warned that Russia could halt gas supplies to its neighbour on Friday.

11:34am: Japan says Russia should be held accountable for atrocities

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told his Ukrainian counterpart on Friday Russian atrocities in Ukraine were totally unacceptable and Moscow should be held accountable for its action, a Japanese government official told a media briefing.

Hayashi held talks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting in Germany. Russia has denied carrying out abuses.

11:26am: Moscow says EU becoming ‘aggressive, militant’

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday said he doubted the motives of Ukraine’s intention of joining the European Union, while accusing Brussels of ambitions beyond the European continent. Ukraine, where Russia launched a military campaign on February 24, “is ready to declare a neutral, non-aligned status,” Lavrov told reporters following a meeting of CIS foreign ministers in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.

“At the same time, they are trying in every possible way to emphasise their desire to become an EU member,” Lavrov added. “There are serious doubts about how harmless such a desire is from Kyiv,” he said. Russia has insisted at stalled peace talks that Ukraine drop its ambition to enter US-led military alliance NATO and declare itself “neutral”.

Kyiv has admitted it is unlikely to become a NATO member – but has forged ahead with an application to join the 27-nation EU since the start of the conflict. Lavrov accused the EU of transforming from a “constructive, economic platform” into an “aggressive, militant player, declaring its ambitions far beyond the European continent”, pointing to moves in the Indo-Pacific region. “They are rushing to follow in the tracks already laid by NATO, thereby confirming the trend that they are merging with the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) and will in fact serve as its appendage,” he said. 

10:59am: Russian grain theft in Ukraine ‘repugnant’, says German minister

Germany’s agriculture minister on Friday said grain theft by Russia in eastern Ukraine was “repugnant”, as G7 countries met to discuss the impact of the war on global food supply.

“This is an especially repugnant form of war that Russia is leading, in that it is stealing, robbing, taking for itself grain from eastern Ukraine,” Cem Oezdemir said at the start of a meeting with colleagues from G7 countries and Ukraine.

10:59am: Ukraine’s grain harvest to fall in 2022 but still substantial

Ukraine’s grain harvest this year will be much smaller than last year’s as half of wheat cultivation land for winter is located in areas of intense fighting or are occupied by the Russian military, Ukrainian agriculture minister Mykola Solskyi said on Friday.

“This year’s harvest will be much smaller than last year’s, but still very large quantities are involved,” Solskyi said in Stuttgart ahead of a meeting with the agriculture ministers of the Group of Seven industrialised nations (G7). “We will not be able to avoid the fact that we will have large losses with wheat,” he added, according to his official translator.

The minister said he expects an additional 30 to 40 million tons of grain that will have to be exported from the country, adding that Ukraine and its allies needed to work to end a blockade on Black Sea ports for grain export, adding that Baltic ports could offer logistic opportunities for exports.

10:52am: Ukraine will fight for Snake Island in Black sea ‘as long as is needed’

Ukraine will fight for the remote Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea “for as long as is needed”, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence said on Friday. “Whoever controls the island can at any time block the movement of civilian ships in all directions to the south of Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov said in televised comments.

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defence officials, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine’s north and east.

10:43am: UN to set up inquiry into possible Russian war crimes

FRANCE 24’s chief international affairs editor Rob Parsons explains that Thursday’s UN Human Rights Council resolution to set up an investigation into possible war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine is “pretty devastating” for Moscow. The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority, with 33 members voting for an investigation and only two countries – China and Eritrea – voting against it.


10:05am: Russia says it struck oil refinery in central Ukraine

Russia’s defence ministry has said its forces struck the Kremenchug oil refinery in central Ukraine, destroying its production capacity and fuel tanks.

The ministry also said its forces shot down a Ukrainian Su-27 aircraft in the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine has been making steady gains in the Kharkiv area in recent days, according to UK intelligence. Russia’s claims could not be independently verified. 

9:58am: EU to provide further €500 million in military aid to Ukraine 

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the bloc would provide a further 500 million euros worth of military support to Ukraine and that he was confident a deal could be reached in the coming days to agree an embargo on Russian oil.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meeting, Borrell said the military support would be for heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery and would bring the bloc’s aid up to about 2 billion euros.

“A new impetus for military support. [It will be] more pressure on Russia with economic sanctions and continuing the international isolation of Russia and countering misinformation,” he said.

Borrell said he was also optimistic an EU embargo on Russian oil could also be agreed in the coming days.

9:18am: France says G7 ‘strongly committed’ in backing Ukraine

France has said the Group of Seven industrialised nations was committed to helping Ukraine win its war against Russia as the group’s top diplomats held talks in northern Germany.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the G7 countries were “very strongly united” in their will to “continue in the long term to support Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty until Ukraine’s victory”.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said it was vital to keep up the pressure on Russia by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and imposing further sanctions.

“It is very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and by increasing the sanctions,” she told reporters on arrival at the G7 foreign ministers meeting.

8:26am: Oil depot, military office targeted in Moldova’s separatist region

Authorities in Moldova’s Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transnistria said Friday two attempted attacks were carried out on infrastructure in the regional capital Tiraspol. The incidents come after a string of attacks were reported in the separatist region with fears mounting of a spillover from the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine. 

“At around 4:15 in the morning, a car stopped near an oil depot of one enterprise, from which an unidentified man got out, threw a Molotov cocktail towards the building and fled,” the interior ministry of the self-proclaimed republic said in a statement.

7:41am: Ukrainian forces prevent Russian river crossing in Donbas: UK

Ukrainian forces successfully prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas, according to the British defence ministry.

Images suggest that Russia has lost armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one battalion tactical group and the deployed pontoon bridging equipment while crossing the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Britain said in its intelligence update posted on Twitter.

7:17am: Battle moving ‘from village to village’

Reporting from Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, FRANCE 24’s Nadia Massih said Ukrainian troops have been making steady progress in the northeastern region, with the fighting moving from village to village.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia’s focus on the eastern Donbas region has left its remaining troops around Kharkiv to the north vulnerable to counterattack from Ukrainian forces, which recaptured several towns and villages around the city.


Ukraine making steady progress around Kharkiv.

Ukraine making steady progress around Kharkiv. © FRANCE24

6:55am: Gazprom cuts nominations for gas transit via Ukraine on May 13

Russia’s Gazprom has reduced the booked capacity for gas transit through Ukraine via the Sudzha entry point on May 13 to 60.8 million cubic metres (mcm) from the previously announced 65.7 mcm, Ukraine pipeline operator data showed on Friday.

The state-run operator said earlier that Gazprom had booked capacity of 53.45 mcm via Sudzha for Thursday.

12:45am: US says Russia has forcibly taken ‘thousands’ of Ukrainians

The US has accused Russia of forcibly taking tens of thousands of Ukrainians, often singled out for their resistance to the invasion, to Russia.

The remarks support allegations by the Ukrainian government, which estimates nearly 1.2 million people have been deported into Russia or Russian-controlled territory and has denounced so-called “filtration camps” in which Moscow interrogates detained people.

US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter said that witness testimony attests to “brutal interrogations” in the camps.

“Accounts of this brutality and forced displacement are happening right now, as we speak, and these actions amount to war crimes,” Carpenter told the organization in Vienna.

“We must not allow this evil to stand,” he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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