From the four-year-old victim of Russia's missile strike on Vinnytsia... to our spotlight on Ukraine's attempts to beat the blockade and export its grain: six key developments today.
1. Russian strike on Vinnytsia claims 4-year-old Liza as one of the victims
Ukraine's Defence Ministry on Friday posted a video of a 4-year-old girl named Liza, who has been named as one of the victims of a Russian missile attack on the central city of Vinnytsia the previous day.
The video claims to show some of the last minutes of Liza's life. It was taken by her mother Iryna who was badly injured during the strike.
Russian missiles struck Vinnytsia on Thursday, killing at least 23 people and wounding more than 100 others far from the front lines, Ukrainian authorities said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Liza was among those killed. The video of the little girl, pushing her stroller while walking with mother was widely shared on social media.
"Today, our hearts are bleeding, and our eyes are full of tears because our family of many thousands has lost one of our own," the charity Down Syndrome wrote.
Zelenskyy accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in locations without military value.
"They were just on their way from a speech therapy class, and they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," the president said in his video address.
Zelenskyy's wife Olena Zelenska later posted that she had met this "wonderful girl" while filming a Christmas video with a group of children, who were given oversized ornaments to paint.
80 people remain in hospitals after a Russian missile attack on a residential area in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, according to the government..
Rescue teams with sniffer dogs combed through debris on Friday in the central Ukrainian city looking for people still missing.
Russia's Defence Ministry claimed on Friday its strikes on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia had struck a building where Kyiv military officials were meeting with foreign delegates.
Ukrainian authorities insisted the site had nothing to do with the military. (AP)
2. Ukraine receives first delivery of M270 rocket launchers
Ukraine announced on Friday that it had received its first delivery of a sophisticated multiple rocket launcher system, adding to an arsenal of long-range artillery provided by the West.
"The first MLRS M270s have arrived! They will be good company for the Himars on the battlefield," Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov wrote on social media, referring to the US precision rocket systems recently deployed in the conflict. "No mercy for the enemy," he added.
London had announced in June the delivery of M270 MLRS rocket launchers with a range of 80 kilometres, to complement the US Himars precision artillery systems of the same range sent by Washington.
Moscow has repeatedly warned Western countries against supplying Kyiv with long-range weapons.
The delivery of Himars to Ukraine has given its troops a boost in recent weeks and could help slow Russian advances, military experts say.
Since mid-June, Ukraine has destroyed more than 20 major Russian ammunition dumps and command posts previously too far from the front line to be reached by traditional projectiles with the Himars.
But these new weapons are not a silver bullet either, experts warn, pointing out that more weapons and radar systems will be needed to be used together to beat the Russians. (AFP)
3. New routes: how is Ukraine getting its grain out?
Russia's naval blockade of the Black Sea has resulted in logistical chaos in Ukraine, the world's fourth largest grain producer.
The consequence is that many African countries now face the very real prospect of famine while many Ukrainian farmers have no idea what they are going to do with this year's harvest, given that their silos are still full from last year's crop.
As Ukraine and the EU frantically try to find, what diplomats call 'alternative routes', Euronews' Hans von der Brelie went to see for myself what's being done to speed up Ukraine's grain and wheat exports.
4. EU to target Russian gold in next round of sanctions over Ukraine war
The European Commission on Friday proposed that imports of Russian gold be included in a new package of sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy.
The EU executive would not consider the new proposed restrictions as a seventh round of sanctions— which many member states have already come out against — but rather a "maintenance and alignment" package.
It would, however, introduce a new embargo — this time on Russian gold.
The precious metal constitutes Russia's top export after energy and was worth more €18.5 billion in 2020.
5. EU to tweak sanctions to spare Russian food exports
The Commission will also amend existing sanctions to make sure they do not disrupt Russia's food and grain exports.
African countries have blamed EU sanctions for exacerbating the ongoing food crisis, chiefly caused by the war in Ukraine and the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports from where cereals are usually exported to the world.
The EU has denied its sanctions affected food trade. Proposed tweaks are meant to make sure that rules are not misinterpreted by traders, including a ban on access of Russian ships to EU ports, one official said.
Russian ships that carry food or medicines are already exempt, but some traders have avoided food exported from Russian ports that are indirectly owned by Russian state-owned companies that have been sanctioned by Brussels. The new package will clarify that these ports are not subject to sanctions, the source said.
At the same time, the Commission aims to tighten the existing ban and prevent Russian ships from bypassing sanctions by offloading their cargoes at outer docks, the source said. For that purpose, the definition of ports is to be extended.
A ban on Western firms offering cloud services to Russian clients, also considered for the new package, is being held for future rounds as the measure is now being coordinated with the United States and Britain, whose companies dominate the sector. (Reuters)
- The European Union has "shot itself in the lungs" with ill-considered economic sanctions on Russia, which, unless rolled back, risk destroying the European economy, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday.
- The surge in gas and electricity prices forced nationalist Orban to curtail a years-long cap on utility prices for higher-usage households on Wednesday, rolling back one of the 59-year-old prime minister's signature economic policies. Read more on that story here.
6. UK holds Russia responsible for death of captured British aid worker
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was "shocked" by reports of the death of British aid worker Paul Urey, captured in April in Ukraine, and warned that Russia should "take full responsibility".
On Friday, a spokesperson for Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk said Urey died in custody on 15 July.
Paul Urey, who was born in 1977, was detained by Russian forces with another man Dylan Healey at a checkpoint in April, according to an NGO helping Healey's family.
The two men were apparently held while driving to help evacuate a woman and two children from their home in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.
Originally from the north of England, Paul Urey is described as a family man who spent eight years in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor.