LIVE: 128th day of Russian aggression against Ukraine

Photo: PAP

The war continues. On Thursday, Russian forces abandoned the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island in a major victory for Ukraine that could loosen a Russian grain export blockade threatening to worsen global hunger.

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The United States is sending Ukraine two NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, four additional counter-artillery radars and up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition as part of its latest weapons packages for Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Friday.

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he European Union could buy several million tonnes of Ukrainian grain and channel it to vulnerable countries as food aid, the head of French industry group Intercereales said.

Russia's invasion has disrupted Ukraine's massive agricultural exports, raising the risk of a global food crisis.

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A Moroccan and a British fighter sentenced to death by a Russian-backed separatist court in east Ukraine for fighting for Ukrainian forces have appealed against their sentences, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on Friday.

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Already 1,027 settlements have been liberated from Russian occupiers, said the deputy head of the Ukrainian President's office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, on Friday.

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Turkey can re-export grain products like wheat, oat, and barley from the Black Sea to countries in need after talks with Russia and Ukraine, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, adding he would discuss the matter with both countries in coming days.

Ukraine is one of the top global wheat suppliers, but shipments have been halted by Russia's invasion, causing global food shortages. The United Nations has appealed to both sides, as well as maritime neighbour Turkey, to agree to a corridor.

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Germany on Friday condemned missile strikes near the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, saying attacks on civilians were war crimes.

"The Russian President (Vladimir) Putin and those responsible will have to be held accountable," a German government spokesman told a briefing.

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The European Union on Friday said Russia's threat to sever diplomatic ties with Bulgaria in response to its decision to expel 70 Russian diplomats is unjustified.

The EU said Bulgaria's action was "fully in line with international law", as the diplomats of the Russian Embassy were acting in violation with international treaties.

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Ukraine now has a "very clear European perspective" following the European Union's decision to grant the country candidate status to join the bloc, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament.

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Hungary will speed up its defence development programme, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

"We must radically increase our defence capabilities," Orban said. He reiterated that Hungary's interest was for the war in neighbouring Ukraine to end as soon as possible.

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