Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal on Friday to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to grain exports, Turkey said, raising hopes that an international food crisis caused by Russia’s invasion could be eased. Follow FRANCE 24 for live updates. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
7:58am: Russia has increased air defence missile use: UK
Russia has increased its use of air defence missiles in a secondary ground attack mode because of critical shortages of dedicated ground-attack missiles, according to the latest British military intelligence assessment.
Moscow has almost certainly deployed S-300 and S-400 strategic air defence systems designed to shoot down aircraft and missiles at long ranges from the start of the invasion, said the British ministry of defence.
The weapons have relatively small warheads and are designed to destroy aircraft, it said, adding that they could pose a significant threat against troops in the open and light buildings but are unlikely to penetrate hardened structures.
There is a high chance of these weapons missing their intended targets and causing civilian casualties because the missiles are not optimised for this role and their crews will have little training for such missions, the defence ministry said.
6:54am: Ukraine’s ports to reopen under deal to be signed in Istanbul: Turkey
Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal later Friday to reopen Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for grain exports, according to the Turkish presidential office.
Ukraine and Russia, both among the world’s biggest exporters of food, did not immediately confirm the announcement. But in a late night video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hinted his country’s Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked. “Tomorrow, we also expect news for our state from Turkey – regarding the unblocking of our ports.”
Full details of the agreement were not immediately released. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres heads to Turkey, a UN spokesperson said. The agreement is due to be signed on Friday at 1330 GMT, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s office said.
The blockade by Russia’s Black Sea fleet has reduced supplies to markets around the world and sent grain prices soaring since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighbouring Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The UN and Turkey have been working for two months to broker what Guterres called a “package” deal – to resume Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports and facilitate Russian grain and fertiliser shipments.
11:30pm: Zelensky says Ukraine’s military can cause Russia ‘major losses’
Ukraine‘s military has the potential to make gains on the battlefield and inflict major losses on Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night address on Thursday after meeting senior commanders.
Zelensky said the meeting had discussed the supply of modern weapons, adding the intensity of attacks on the Russians had to be stepped up.
“(We) agreed that our forces have the strong potential to advance on the battlefield and inflict significant new losses on the occupiers,” he said.
Zelensky hinted his country’s Black Sea ports could soon be unblocked. “And tomorrow we also expect news for our state from Turkey – regarding the unblocking of our ports.”
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)