Ukrainian forces have recaptured around 20% of the territory they lost in Sievierodonetsk since Russia’s invasion, according to Ukrainian officials. “Whereas before the situation was difficult, the percentage [held by Russia] was somewhere around 70%, now we have already pushed them back by approximately 20%,” Serhiy Gaidai, the head of the eastern region of Luhansk, announced on national television on Friday.
Leading US general Mark Milley met Finnish president Sauli Niinisto on Friday to pledge US support for Finland’s and Sweden’s Nato membership bids, which Turkey is blocking. Milley told reporters it was clear that, if the two countries’ applications were approved, “they will bring a significant increase in the military capability of Nato”, Agence France-Presse reported. After Helsinki, Milley was expected to visit neighbouring Sweden on Saturday.
A driver transporting two Reuters journalists in eastern Ukraine was killed and the two reporters lightly wounded on Friday, a company spokesperson said. They had come under fire while en route to Severodonetsk. “They were travelling in a vehicle provided by the Russian-backed separatists and driven by an individual assigned by the separatists,” the international news agency said.
Vladimir Putin says exporting grain from Ukraine is “no problem”, after Moscow’s invasion raised fears of a global food crisis. The Russian president said in a televised interview on Friday that exporting could be done via Ukrainian ports, via others under Russian control, or even via central Europe. Putin accused the west of “bluster” by claiming Moscow was preventing the grain exports from Ukraine.
The African Union head and Senegalese president, Macky Sall, said he was “reassured” after meeting with Putin regarding global food shortages caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to global food shortages, other issues discussed between the two leaders included grain supplies that are stuck in Ukrainian ports.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodna, accused Russia of “stealing” and sending Ukrainian grain abroad. “Russia shamelessly steals Ukrainian grain and sends it overseas from Crimea, including to Turkey,” Bodna said in a tweet on Friday.
14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes, the majority women and children, the UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, Amin Awad, said on Friday. In a statement released on the 100th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Awad spoke of displaced Ukrainians, describing the “scale and speed of [their] displacement not witnessed in history”.
Moscow will help restore and rebuild Luhansk and Donetsk, Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced on Friday after a visit to Luhansk. About 1,500 specialists from various departments of the Moscow municipal economy complex and 500 pieces of equipment had arrived in Luhansk, the mayor said.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that Ukraine must meet all the necessary standards and conditions for accession. She went on to call on the EU to help Ukraine achieve its goals.
“Victory shall be ours,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video featuring the same key ministers and advisers who appeared with him in a defiant broadcast on 24 February, the day his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, launched his unprovoked assault. “The armed forces of Ukraine are here. Most importantly, our people, the people of our country, are here. We have been defending Ukraine for 100 days already … Glory to Ukraine,” Zelenskiy added.
French president Emmanuel Macron says Putin has committed a “historic and fundamental error” by invading Ukraine and is now “isolated”. “I think, and I told him, that he made a historic and fundamental error for his people, for himself and for history,” Macros said in an interview with French regional media on Friday. “Isolating oneself is one thing, but being able to get out of it is a difficult path”. Macron said he did not “rule out” a visit to Kyiv.
Switzerland’s government has rejected a request by Denmark to send nearly two-dozen Swiss-made armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine. Switzerland’s executive Federal Council confirmed the decision on Friday after Denmark requested Switzerland transfer 22 Swiss-made Piranha III wheeled armoured personnel carriers, which Denmark had obtained and stored in Germany, to Ukraine.