Russia-Ukraine war live: Zelenskiy says Crimea bridge a legitimate target amid escalating Black Sea tensions and new US aid package

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Welcome back to our continuing live coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine. This is Adam Fulton and here’s a roundup of the latest key developments.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said a road bridge linking the Crimea peninsula to Russia “brings war not peace” and is therefore a military target that “has to be neutralised”.

The Ukrainian president’s comments followed blasts on the bridge that killed two civilians on Monday.

Russia, meanwhile, continued to hit Ukrainian food export facilities for a fourth day on Friday and practised seizing ships in the Black Sea in an escalation of what western leaders say is a bid to get out of sanctions by threatening a global food crisis.

UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo condemned the Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, saying: “Any risk of conflict spillover as a result of a military incident in the Black Sea – whether intentional or by accident – must be avoided at all costs, as this could result in potentially catastrophic consequences to us all.”

More on those stories shortly. In other news:

  • Russia is “waging war on the world’s food supply” and has “upended peace and security around the world”, the US ambassador to the UN has a told a meeting of the security council. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on Moscow to cease attacking Ukrainian food facilities and reenter the Black Sea grain deal, from which it withdrew on Monday. “Russia has zero legitimate reason to suspend its participation in this arrangement … It is using the Black Sea as blackmail.”

A grain warehouse destroyed by a Russian missile strike in Ukraine’s Odesa region.
A grain warehouse destroyed by a Russian missile strike in Ukraine’s Odesa region. The governor said that of 21 people wounded in Russian attacks over the past four days, four were still in hospital. Photograph: Reuters
  • Vladimir Putin has said Russia will use “all means at its disposal” to defend Belarus after Poland and other EU countries voiced concerns about the deployment of Russian paramilitaries near their borders. The Russian president claimed at a meeting of the Russian security council that Poland was seeking to invade Belarus, a Russian ally, after Warsaw moved troops nearer the border with Belarus following Minsk’s commencement of exercises with Wagner trainers.

  • Russia has arrested Igor Girkin, who was convicted by a Dutch court over the shooting down of MH17, on extremism charges, probably fuelled by his criticism of the Russian war effort in Ukraine. Girkin is a former battlefield commander of Moscow’s proxy forces in eastern Ukraine.

  • Russia’s navy carried out a live fire “exercise” in the north-west Black Sea, Moscow’s defence ministry said, days after the Kremlin said it would consider ships travelling to Ukraine through the waterway to be potential military targets. The Black Sea Fleet “carried out live firing of anti-ship cruise missiles at the target ship in the combat training range in the north-western part of the Black Sea”, Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

  • The Ukrainian president condemned a Russian artillery attack he said killed two children and damaged a school in the Donetsk region. Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a cultural centre and residential buildings were also damaged in the attack on Druzhba village.

A volunteer medic walks past a destroyed building in the Donetsk village of Staryi Karavan on Friday
A volunteer medic walks past a destroyed building in the Donetsk village of Staryi Karavan on Friday. Photograph: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images
  • An employee of a cultural centre had been found dead after Russian shelling in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, governor Vyacheslav Chaus said. In the Odesa region, governor Oleh Kiper said that out of 21 people wounded in Russian attacks over the past four days, four were still in hospital.

  • The number of ships looking to pick up grain cargoes from the Black Sea area fell 35% week on week amid growing uncertainty over whether commercial traffic could be hit as Russia continues to pound food facilities in Ukraine.

  • Bulgaria said it had decided to send about 100 armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine in the Balkan country’s first shipment of heavy equipment to Kyiv. Bulgaria has so far sent only one military aid package to Kyiv, containing mostly flak jackets and helmets, but a pro-EU government took office last month.

  • The top diplomatic adviser to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said China was delivering to Russia items that could be used as military equipment, although not on a big scale. French officials told CNN that Macron was referring to dual-use technologies and non-lethal assistance, such as helmets and body armour.

  • Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, grounded by Covid-19 and then shunned in the west since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will return to international touring next week for the first time since 2020 with a trip to Beijing.

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