Zelenskyy: Ukraine received IRIS-T air defense systems from Germany

Germany has given Ukraine two new IRIS-T air defense systems, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy thanked Germany for its help in protecting Ukraine, and described the systems as “powerful and much-needed.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed to supply Ukraine with IRIS-T systems in June 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

IRIS-T systems are short-range, air-to-air missiles designed to provide medium-range, high-altitude cover.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed to supply Ukraine with the weapons in June 2022 following pleas from Kyiv for Germany and other Western allies to step up their arms supplies.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

U.S. approves sending F-16s to Ukraine from Denmark and Netherlands, Reuters reports

The United States has approved sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands, according to an unnamed U.S. official, as reported by Reuters.

The aircraft would be sent as soon as pilot training is completed, the report said.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet on the second day of Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru on Feb. 14, 2023.

Manjunath Kiran | AFP | Getty Images

The news comes after air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat reportedly told Ukrainian television Wednesday night it was “obvious” Ukraine would not have F-16 jets for fighting before the end of 2023.

Ukraine has long been lobbying Western allies for the war planes, and while U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to training Ukrainian pilots in May, no timeline had been set for delivery of the aircraft.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Ukrainian drone damages Moscow building, Russia says

A Ukrainian drone crashed into a building in central Moscow Friday after it was shot down by Russian air defences, Moscow officials said.

The drone fell on Moscow’s Expocentre, according to a Telegram post by the Russian Ministry of Defense, according to a Google translation, but there were no casualties or significant damage to the building.

The Expocentre is a large array of exhibition spaces and multi-purpose halls in central Moscow that is within a few kilometers of the Kremlin.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Only Ukraine can decide when the time is right for peace talks, NATO chief says

(From L) US President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky talk ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the NATO summit, in Vilnius on July 12, 2023. 

Ludovic Marin | AFP | Getty Images

Only Ukraine can decide when peace talks with Russia could take place, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

“It is the Ukrainians, and only the Ukrainians, who can decide when there are conditions in place for negotiations, and who can decide at the negotiating table what is an acceptable solution,” Stoltenberg said at a conference in Norway, according to comments reported by Reuters.

Stoltenberg’s comments come after a senior NATO official Stian Jenssen caused controversy earlier this week when he suggested Ukraine could end up ceding territory to Russia as part of a “possible solution” to ending the 18-month conflict. Jenssen later said the remarks had been a mistake.

Referring to the remarks, Stoltenberg said “his [Jenssen’s] message, and which is my main message, and which is NATO’s main message, is, firstly, that NATO’s policy is unchanged — we support Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

Tensions have emerged recently between Ukraine and its NATO allies, particularly ahead of the most recent meeting of the defense alliance in July. Kyiv had pushed for allies to agree a schedule on when it would be invited to join the alliance. NATO said it would extend an invitation when “allies agree and conditions are met,” a move that disappointed and angered Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Naftogaz CEO: We should be open to discussing Russia gas transit deal with the EU

The CEO of Ukraine’s largest oil and gas company Naftogaz, Oleksiy Chernyshov, said Kyiv should discuss the Russian gas transit deal with the EU, in a Thursday interview with CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche.

“I believe we should discuss it, together with European Union consumers, and understand the position of the European Union,” Chernyshov said, when asked on the future of the arrangement that currently allows Russia to send gas to Europe via Ukraine. The deal is set to expire at the end of 2024.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko had signaled that Ukraine would not discuss a renewal of the contract with Russia, according to Reuters.

Naftogaz CEO: We should discuss Russian gas transit deal with EU

Chernyshov said that the gas transit deal is for the sake of European countries, rather than Ukraine, and that the fees that Ukrainian companies receive for allowing the movement of the supplies “will never be justified in the current full-scale war situation.”

“Naftogaz is continuing doing that and servicing this transit only in favor, only in support of certain European countries that are not capable to stop the consumption of gas right now, that is the only reason,” he said.

“We will take it into consideration while viewing the future of this contract,” Chernyshov added.

Russia previously said it would consider extending the contract. The European Union has pledged to no longer rely on Russian gas by 2027.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Russia’s inflation spike sets Kremlin and central bank on collision course

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