Ukraine live briefing: U.S. begins negotiating security guarantees with Kyiv


Two boys pass the time this week near apartment buildings badly damaged by Russian attacks in Borodyanka, Ukraine. Last year, Russia occupied and then withdrew from the town, leaving widespread destruction. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

The United States became the first country to start negotiating a bilateral agreement with Ukraine on security guarantees, Ukraine’s presidential office said. The U.S. State Department confirmed that American and Ukrainian officials met Thursday to begin talks on long-term security commitments.

Saudi Arabia is set to host talks this weekend at which officials from around the world will discuss key principles to underpin a blueprint for peace in Ukraine. Russia will not be represented at the event.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Washington and Kyiv’s talks on security guarantees could create “a successful model for other partners,” the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said in a statement. “It is symbolic that the United States of America — our largest strategic partner — became the first country with which Ukraine starts this process.” He added that the talks could reinforce Ukraine’s progress toward membership in groups such as the European Union and NATO. The U.S. State Department said in a statement that the discussion fell under the framework of the G-7 Joint Declaration of Support to Ukraine.

Senior officials and national security advisers from about 40 countries are expected at the Ukraine peace talks in Jeddah, a resort city in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he hopes the talks will lead to a summit this autumn to endorse principles based on his 10-point formula for a peace settlement.

Russia’s naval base at Novorossiysk was attacked by “unmanned sea boats” overnight, the Defense Ministry said on Telegram, adding that they were destroyed. The port is a major hub for Russian exports.

Russia has launched a total of 1,961 Iranian-made Shahed drones at Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address. While a “significant number” have been shot down, not all of them have been stopped, he said, adding that Ukraine was working to boost its air defense systems.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke with North Korean officials about increasing munitions sales to Moscow when he was in Pyongyang last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, according to the Associated Press. “This is yet another example of how desperate Mr. Putin has become because his war machine is being affected by the sanctions and the export controls,” Kirby said.

Russia shot down seven drones over the Kaluga region southwest of Moscow, regional governor Vladislav Shapsha wrote on Telegram on Thursday. There were no casualties or damage, he said. Drones repeatedly attacked skyscrapers in Moscow earlier this week.

Niger’s detained president warned that Africa’s Sahel region could “fall to Russian influence” via the Wagner Group. President Mohamed Bazoum, writing an opinion piece for The Washington Post, said that the recent coup in his country could be an “open invitation” to the Russian mercenary group.

The European Union has extended the scope of its sanctions against Belarus. The new measures arise “from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and in response to Belarus’s involvement in the aggression,” the European Commission said in a statement Thursday. It banned the export of sensitive technology that could increase Belarusian military capabilities, as well as ammunition, firearms and technology related to the aviation and space industries.

A Russian store owner who displayed antiwar signs outside his grocery received a 1.5-year prison sentence on Thursday, independent outlets reported. Dmitry Skurikhin was previously arrested in February after holding a sign asking forgiveness from Ukrainians.

Russia is “using food as a weapon of war,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” He was referring to Moscow’s departure from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which allowed Ukraine to export grain. Blinken also addressed the United Nations Security Council, pledging $362 million to combat hunger in Haiti and 11 African nations.

Ukraine’s offensive inches forward in search of a breakthrough: Kyiv continued a major push to reclaim its territory with a fresh injection of Western-trained and -equipped troops, but there is no sign yet of a major breakthrough, John Hudson and Anastacia Galouchka report.

Russia’s phalanx of trenches, tripwires and mines remains ahead of Ukrainian forces and their objective to drive south and sever Russia’s land bridge to Crimea, a key military supply route.

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