LIVE: 163rd day of Russian aggression against Ukraine

The debris of a Russian tank surrounded by vegetables at a garden in the village of Velyka Dymerka, Kyiv area, Ukraine. Photo: PAP/EPA

Three ships carrying a total of 58,041 tonnes of corn have been authorised to leave Ukrainian ports as part of a deal to unblock grain exports. Meanwhile, the European Union intends to put together another financing package for Ukraine by September that will amount to about EUR 8 mln, a German government source said.

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The Biden administration's next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to be USD 1 billion, one of the largest so far, and include munitions for long-range weapons and armoured medical transport vehicles, three sources briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday. They agreed to boost cooperation in the transport, agriculture, finance and construction industries, they said in a joint statement after a four-hour meeting. The two leaders also agreed to switch part of the payments for Russian gas to roubles, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told reporters after the talks.

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Ukraine could start exporting wheat from this year's harvest from its sea ports in September under a landmark deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, Ukraine's first deputy minister of agriculture said on Friday.

Ukraine hopes in several months to increase shipments of grain through the route to between 3 million and 3.5 million tonnes per month from 1 million tonnes expected in August, the official, Taras Vysotskiy, said.

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The United States' ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Friday said Russia's invasion of Ukraine will cause 40 million people to become food insecure and that sub-Saharan Africa will be hardest hit.

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Ukraine has signed a 200 million euro loan agreement with Italy and the funds will go to the state budget to finance teacher salaries, the Ukrainian finance ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said in a statement that Italy would provide funds for 15 years at a zero interest rate, helping the Ukrainian government maintain financial stability despite a sharp fall in budget revenue amid growing spending caused by more than five months of Russian invasion.

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Ukraine's Energoatom state nuclear power company said a high-voltage power line at its Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had been hit by Russian shelling on Friday, but that the plant still worked and no radioactive discharges had been detected.

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A leading Russian hypersonics expert has been arrested on suspicion of treason, the state-controlled TASS news agency reported on Friday.

Andrei Shiplyuk heads the hypersonics laboratory at the Novosibirsk Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, according to the institute's website, and has in recent years coordinated research to support the development of hypersonic missile systems.

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Pope Francis met Bishop Antonij, the second most powerful leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, on Friday ahead of an expected summit next month with its Patriarch Kirill, who supports the war in Ukraine.

Francis, who has called the conflict a "cruel and senseless war of aggression", had planned to meet Kirill on June 14 in Jerusalem but cancelled on the advice of Vatican diplomats.

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Since February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine, around 5.27 million people have crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border into Poland, the Border Guard (SG) tweeted on Friday morning.

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The actions taken by Russian forces at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has likely undermined security and the safety of the plant's normal operations, Britain said on Friday.

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Ukraine has called for the deal that relaxes Russia's blockade of its Black Sea grain exports to be extended to include other products, such as metals, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

"This agreement is about logistics, about the movement of vessels through the Black Sea," Ukraine's Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka told FT. "What's the difference between grain and iron ore?"