- Russian missiles hit two industrial facilities in Kryvyi Rih, days after another deadly missile attack on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s home city. At least one civilian is reportedly injured.
- A child was killed by Ukrainian shelling in the partly occupied Kherson region, Russia’s TASS news agency reports.
- Kyiv says its air defences have shot down 18 Russian drones in Odesa.
- International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi arrives at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom says.
The Kremlin says there are no ‘positive prospects’ in the grain deal
The Kremlin says it saw no positive prospects regarding renewing the Black Sea grain deal as parts of the accord remained unfulfilled.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “Work is ongoing, but to be honest we don’t see any particularly positive prospects. Everything that was agreed on regarding us has not been fulfilled.”
He added that the current situation could not go on indefinitely.
US Austin says Ukraine’s allies need to ‘dig deep’
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin calls on Ukraine’s allies to “dig deep” and provide more arms and ammunition to help Kyiv fight back against Russia.
Addressing a meeting of defence ministers from a group of about 50 countries that give military aid to Ukraine, Austin stressed Kyiv needed both short-term and long-term support as the war was a “marathon, not a sprint”.
Austin noted that while the group sent Patriot, IRIS-T and NASAMS air defence systems but he said Ukraine needed even more.
“I ask that the members of this Contact Group continue to dig deep to provide Ukraine with the air defence assets and munitions that it so urgently needs to protect its citizens,” Austin said in opening remarks.
“We’ll also continue to adapt our assistance to meet the changing circumstances on the ground in the changing needs of Ukraine’s forces.”
Australia blocks Russia from building embassy near parliament
Since intelligence officials had warned that it posed a security risk, Australia has blocked Russia from building a new embassy near Parliament House.
Russia had leased land about 400 metres (0.25 miles) from Australia’s parliamentary precinct in Canberra and has been working on the foundations for a new embassy building.
The government tried to block the development through the courts, but after that failed, new laws were passed on Thursday to halt the construction.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the laws were rapidly pulled together after a National Security Committee meeting.
“The government has received very clear security advice as to the risk posed by a new Russian presence so close to Parliament House,” he told reporters.
“We are acting quickly to ensure the lease site does not become a formal diplomatic presence.”
Russia’s FSB detains resident in Bryansk
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has detained a resident in the Bryansk region who it said was gathering information on security forces in the areas bordering Ukraine, the Russian TASS news agency reported.
TASS also reported that the FSB detained two men in the southern Stavropol region on suspicion of planning to blow up the interior ministry headquarters in Pyatigorsk.
IAEA chief on his way to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi has started his visit to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian nuclear energy company Energoatom said.
The Kyiv Post posted a picture on Twitter of Grossi reportedly arriving at the plant.
Zelenskyy thanks Norway, Denmark for joint defence package
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked Norway and Denmark for their joint defence package.
Zelenskyy said on Twitter: “I am grateful to the governments of Norway and Denmark, led by [Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store] and [Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen], for the new joint defence assistance package. The additional batch of artillery shells is much needed by [Ukraine] on the battlefield. Together we are bringing our common victory closer.”
Putin calls China’s Xi ‘dear friend’ in birthday message
Russian President Vladimir Putin has referred to China’s Xi Jinping as a “dear friend” in a message on the Chinese leader’s 70th birthday.
Putin told Xi, “It is difficult to overestimate the efforts you have been making to foster the comprehensive partnership [between Russia and China].”
The two leaders have grown closer after Russia invaded Ukraine, and the West has moved to isolate Moscow.
NATO support to Ukraine making a difference on the battlefield: Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance’s support for Ukraine is making a difference on the battlefield.
“The support NATO allies have been giving Ukraine now for many, many months actually makes a difference on the battlefield,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
Stoltenberg made the comments as the bloc’s defence ministers met in the Belgian capital to discuss future relations with Ukraine as Russia’s war on the country thwarts its hopes of joining the world’s biggest security alliance soon.
Too soon to assess agriculture losses from dam breach: Russian deputy PM
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko says it is too soon to assess agricultural losses in Russian-controlled areas from the breach of Ukraine’s Kakhovka dam, state news agency TASS reported.
“Unfortunately, we cannot yet estimate the total amount of losses for agriculture. We need all the water to drain. And then we will be able to understand which farmers have suffered this damage and to what extent,” TASS quoted Abramchenko as saying.
Russian forces control about 18 percent of the territory of Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain producers. A majority of countries at the United Nations General Assembly have rejected the annexation as illegal.
Japan in talks to provide artillery shells to US to help Ukraine: WSJ
Japan is in talks to provide artillery shells to the United States to bolster stocks for Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The Asian nation is considering supplying 155mm artillery shells under a 2016 pact to share ammunition as part of its long-standing security alliance with the US, the paper added, quoting people familiar with the matter.
Russia: Nine drones downed over Crimea
Russia-installed governor of Crimea Sergei Aksionov says Russian forces have downed nine drones over the peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
“Last night and this morning, nine drones were detected above [the] Republic of Crimea territory,” Aksionov said on the Telegram messaging app.
“Six devices were shot down by air defence forces” while three others were “deactivated” before hitting the ground, he said, adding that there were no victims.
However, one of the drones exploded in a village in the centre of the peninsula, shattering windows in several homes, he added.
Norway, Denmark to donate 9,000 rounds of artillery to Ukraine
Norway’s defence ministry says Oslo and Copenhagen have agreed to donate an additional 9,000 rounds of artillery to Ukraine.
Norway will provide the shells, while Denmark will donate fuses and propellant charges, the ministry said in a statement.
Oslo will also donate 7,000 rounds from its own stocks, which have already been sent to Ukraine, according to the ministry.
The artillery rounds can be used in several types of artillery, including the M109 that Norway has previously donated, the ministry said. The ammunition will be replaced through acquisition of new munitions, it added.
NATO defence ministers meet to discuss Ukraine military support
NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day gathering focused on support for Ukraine and joint efforts to stock up weapons and ammunition.
Ukrainian defence minister Oleksii Reznikov is set to join the ministers for a meeting of the so-called Ukraine Defence Contact Group, which coordinates arms deliveries to Kyiv.
The meeting, which would also be attended by non-NATO countries, would be led by the United States, as NATO itself does not provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.
NATO ministers are expected to discuss how to deepen ties in the coming years with Ukraine, which aspires to become a member of the military alliance.
Ukraine says downed 18 Russian drones in Odesa
Authorities in the southern port city of Odesa say Ukrainian air defences on Thursday downed 18 Russian drones that approached the region.
The latest development comes after Ukrainian officials accused Russia of firing cruise missiles at the city on Wednesday, killing at least six people.
Russian forces have recently stepped up aerial strikes in their nearly 16-month war, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said on Wednesday.
The country’s armed forces, meanwhile, have reported limited gains in the early stages of a counteroffensive to retake the nearly one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory that is under Russian control.
Russian rockets hit industrial facilities in Kryvyi Rih: Mayor
Mayor of Kryvyi Rih Oleksandr Vilkul says Russian missiles hit two industrial facilities in the central Ukrainian city.
Vilku said three rockets hit two industrial enterprises “that had nothing to do with the military,” injuring a 38-year-old man.
One car was damaged with debris from missiles downed by air defences, he said.
“The destruction is significant,” Vilkul wrote on the Telegram messaging app