Ukraine and neighboring Romania signed an agreement Friday to work together on grain exports, following Russia’s departure last month from the U.N.-backed grain deal, which had allowed for the safe wartime transport of foodstuffs over the Black Sea. Ukraine is one of the world’s major grain producers and its exports play a vital role in global food security.
The United States will approve the transfer of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands to Ukraine once pilot training is complete, Reuters reported. National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Friday that the process had been “formalized” in a letter from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to his European counterparts and is a “natural extension of what the President announced in Hiroshima.”
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said he hopes as much as 60 percent of Ukraine’s grain exports might pass through Romania following the new agreement, Reuters reported. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who met with Ciolacu, said in a statement that “special attention” would be “paid to the development of the Danube ports and Black Sea trade routes.”
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra welcomed Washington’s decision to pave the way for sending F-16s to Ukraine, calling it “a major milestone for Ukraine to defend its people and its country” on social media. President Biden announced that the United States would not block the transfer of the jets in May. His administration has stopped short of providing jets itself.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended Moscow’s nuclear weapons, claiming they are for security purposes only in an interview published on the foreign ministry website Saturday. “Possessing nuclear weapons is for today the only possible response to certain significant external national security threats,” he said. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last month that Russia would have to use nuclear weapons if Kyiv’s counteroffensive were successful, Reuters reported.
It is “premature to make assessments about the overall success” of Kyiv’s counteroffensive, the Institute for the Study of War said a report Friday. The U.S.-based think tank continues to assess that “the overall degradation of the Russian defensive line creates opportunities for any Ukrainian breakthrough to be potentially operationally significant.”
A fire broke out at a cargo terminal in the Russian Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk, Russian state news agency Tass reported Friday. The cause of the fire is unclear. Earlier this month, Ukraine used sea drones to attack a Russian naval base near the port, The Washington Post reported.
Canada is imposing sanctions on 15 Russian individuals and three entities over human rights abuses, the foreign ministry announced Friday. The individuals include senior Russian officials and federally funded courts which have been “directly involved in human rights abuses against opposition leaders” including Alexei Navalny, the statement said.
A court in Russia on Friday ordered the dissolution of the Sakharov Center, a human rights group that ran a museum and cultural space in Moscow named after Nobel Peace laureate and Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. “Everything that is happening today is the exact opposite of what Sakharov fought for,” Sergei Lukashevsky, the center’s director, said in a private Facebook post.
The Biden administration will extend protected status for Ukrainians in the United States through April 19, 2025, due to “ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent individuals from safely returning,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.
Inside the Russian effort to build 6,000 attack drones with Iran’s help: A billion-dollar weapons deal with Iran has come to life at a facility 500 miles east of Moscow as Russia strives to make 6,000 drones by the summer of 2025. If the plan succeeds, the new drone factory could thwart Ukraine’s counteroffensive and significantly advance Moscow’s position in the drone arms race that is remaking modern warfare, Dalton Bennett and Mary Ilyushina write.
Documents leaked from the program and obtained by The Washington Post provide new information about the efforts of two self-proclaimed enemies of the United States to expand the Kremlin’s capabilities.