Norway announced $1 billion of aid to Ukraine over two years as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store visited the country on Friday. Russian missile strikes that hit an apartment building and a resort near the city of Odesa early Friday killed 21 people, a Ukrainian regional administration spokesperson said. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.
7:34pm: Ukraine says Russian long-range missile strikes have doubled over past two weeks
Ukraine's military says Russian long-range missile strikes have doubled over the past two weeks, and that Russian forces are using inaccurate Soviet-era stocks to supplement what may be a shrinking supply of guided munitions. FRANCE 24's Luke Shrago reports from Dnipro.
7:17pm: Moroccan and Briton appeal death sentences in separatist-controlled east Ukraine
A Moroccan and a British fighter sentenced to death by a Russian-backed separatist court in easternUkraine for fighting for Ukraine have appealed against their sentences, the Russian state news agency TASS reported onFriday.
TASS said the Supreme Court of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), a territory recognised only by Russia and Syria, had received appeals from lawyers for Brahim Saadoun and Shaun Pinner.
It said another condemned Briton, Aiden Aslin, had not yet submitted an appeal, citing Aslin's lawyer.
All three men were sentenced to death last month for "mercenary activities" in fighting for Ukraine against Russia and Russian-backed forces, in what Western politicians decried as a show trial.
7:17pm: Two Britons charged with "mercenary activities" in separatist-held east Ukraine
Britons Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill have been charged with "mercenary activities" by investigators in a Russian-backed separatist-held territory in east Ukraine, the Russian TASS news agency reported on Friday.
TASS cited a source in the power structures of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) as saying that criminal cases had been initiated and charges filed against the men under Article 430 of the DPR criminal code.
It said both men were refusing to cooperate with the investigation.
5:41pm: Norway announces $1 billion in aid to Ukraine
Norway announced $1 billion of aid to Ukraine over two years as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store visited the country on Friday.
The 10 billion Norwegian crowns ($1 billion), which is in addition to previous aid announced by Norway, is for "humanitarian aid, reconstruction of the country, weapons and support for the functioning of the Ukrainian authorities", the Norwegian government said in a statement.
4:20pm: Death toll rises in Odesa missile strikes
"The death toll in Odesa blast rose to 21," Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional administration, said to Ukrainian television about Russian missile strikes that hit near the port city early this morning. A 12-year-old boy was among the dead, he added.
Ukraine's head of emergency services, Serhiy Kruk, had earlier put the strikes' death toll at 19. Thirty-eight people were wounded, including six children, he added on Facebook.
4:17pm: Ukraine requests Turkey detain Russian-flagged ship carrying Ukrainian grain
Ukraine has requested that Turkey detain and arrest the Russian-flagged cargo ship Zhibek Zholy, which is carrying a cargo of Ukrainian grain taken from the Russian-occupied port of Berdyansk, according to a Ukrainian foreign ministry official and document seen by Reuters.
The Ukrainian official, citing information received from the country's maritime administration, said the 7,146 dwt (deadweight tonnage) Zhibek Zholy had loaded the first cargo of some 4,500 tonnes of grain from Berdyansk, which the official said belonged to Ukraine.
3:36pm: Moscow says 'Ukrainisation' behind UNESCO decision on borscht soup
Russia on Friday denounced and mocked a UNESCO decision to recognise borscht soup as part of Ukraine's national heritage, more than four months into its military offensive on its neighbour.
"To give the world a culinary example of 'modern Kyiv nationalism,' I will cite a fact: Hummus and pilaf are recognised as national dishes of several nations," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram. "But, as I understand, everything is subject to Ukrainisation."
1:54pm: UNESCO inscribes Ukrainian borscht soup on list of endangered heritage
Ukraine considers borscht-a thick nourishing soup usually made with beetroot-as a national dish although it is also widely consumed in Russia, other ex-Soviet countries and Poland.
The culture of Ukrainian borscht cooking "was today inscribed on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding" by a UNESCO committee.
The decision was approved after a fast-track process prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the "negative impact on this tradition" caused by the war, UNESCO said.
Kyiv hailed the move, with Ukraine's Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko saying on Telegram that "victory in the borscht war is ours... will win both in the war of borshch and in this war."
1:34pm: Germany condemns Russia's 'inhuman' attack on Odesa
Germany on Friday condemned Moscow's missile attack of an apartment building and recreation centre in southern Ukraine's Odesa region, saying it was time the Russian population face the truth of their government's "cruel" actions.
"The cruel manner in which the Russian aggressor takes the deaths of civilians in its stride and is again speaking of collateral damages is inhuman and cynical," said German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.
"The Russian population too must finally face up to this truth."
1:15pm: Erdogen says Turkey can re-export Black Sea grains to states in need
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 Recep 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.
Speaking after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said his office was working with Kyiv and Moscow to set up calls with his counterparts and that 20 Turkish vessels were ready to take part in the potential shipments.
11:58am: Moscow denies striking apartments near Ukraine's Odesa as death toll climbs
Ukrainian authorities said Russian missiles had hit an apartment building and two holiday camps. Officials said at least 16 people had been killed at the apartment block in the village of Serhiivka, and another three, including one child, in strikes that hit nearby holiday resorts.
"I would like to remind you of the president's words that the Russian Armed Forces do not work with civilian targets," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters.
9:52am: EU chief urges Ukraine to speed up anti-corruption reform
The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told Ukraine's parliament on Friday that European Union membership was "within reach" but urged them to press forward with anti-corruption reforms.
"You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine," she told the lawmakers by video link. "But now these institutions need teeth, and the right people in senior posts."
Von der Leyen's warm address heaped praise on Ukraine's parliament and President Volodymyr Zelensky's government for their swift and successful push to become candidates for EU membership.
And she stressed that Brussels and the EU member states were firmly behind Ukraine in both its fight against the ongoing Russian invasion and the quest to be "reunited with our European family".
But she also insisted on the need to build on reforms already introduced since Ukraine's 2014 revolt against its previous government to battle corruption and the grip of oligarchs on its economy.
7:43am: Missiles kill 17 near Odesa after Ukraine retakes Snake Island
Ukrainian authorities now say at least 17 people are dead and dozens wounded after a Russian missile strike early Friday (see 1:59am, below) on an apartment building and a resort near Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa, the latest in a spate of deadly missile strikes.
With its ground forces concentrated in Ukraine's eastern industrial region of Donbas, Russia has more than doubled the number of missile strikes around the country in the past two weeks, using inaccurate Soviet-era missiles for more than half of the attacks, according to a Ukrainian brigadier general.
One missile struck a nine-story building in the town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at about 1:00am (2200 GMT Thursday), the Ukrainian emergencies ministry said. It also caused a fire in an attached store building.
A rescue operation is underway as some people remained buried under the rubble after part of the building collapsed, Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odesa regional administration, told Ukrainian state television.
Another missile hit a resort facility, Bratchuk said, killing at least three people including a child and wounding one more person.
Reuters could not independently confirm details of the incident.
4:57am: Ukraine starts exporting electricity to EU: Zelensky
Ukraine has started exporting electricity to the European Union via Romania, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, as Russia reduces gas supplies to the bloc supporting Kyiv in resisting Moscow's invasion.
Several European countries, including Italy and Germany, are highly reliant upon Russian gas for their energy needs but have been forced to look for alternatives as Moscow slashes deliveries.
Speaking Thursday, Zelensky said "This is only the first stage. We are preparing to increase supply."
1:59am: Russian missile strike slams Odesa apartment building
The missile struck the building in the town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at about 1am local time (2200 GMT Thursday), the ministry said in a statement. It also caused a fire in an attached store building.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, told Ukrainian state television that a rescue operation was under way as some people remained buried under the rubble after a section of the building collapsed.
Another missile hit a resort facility, Bratchuk said, wounding several people. Reuters could not independently confirm details of the incident.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)