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Ukraine war: Zelenskyy meets Turkey FM, Russia downs 42 drones over Crimea claim, US F-16 training

FILE - A woman poses for photos holding the Ukrainian flag next to destroyed Russian armoured military vehicles on display in Kyiv, on August 24, 2023.
FILE - A woman poses for photos holding the Ukrainian flag next to destroyed Russian armoured military vehicles on display in Kyiv, on August 24, 2023. Copyright ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP or licensors
Copyright ROMAN PILIPEY/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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All the latest developments from the Ukraine war.

Turkish FMmeets Zelenskyy in Kyiv

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Turkey's foreign minister Hakan Fidan met with the Ukrainian president on Friday in a rare visit, the two countries announced.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed the meeting on Telegram, saying he mentioned the “risks posed by the Russian blockade of the grain corridor in the Black Sea”.

Russia withdrew from an agreement in July that allowed Ukraine to export millions of tonnes of cereals by sea, despite the fighting. 

Moscow has in recent weeks carried out a series of strikes on Ukrainian port infrastructure in Odesa and on the Danube River, hamstringing Kyiv's ability to send crops overseas.

Ukraine is looking for partners to boost its exports, including via the Black Sea in spite of the newly reinstated Russian blockade. 

Kyiv recently challenged Moscow with the voyage of a cargo ship flying the Hong Kong flag, which was not attacked by Russia despite its threats.

Several attacks by Ukraine on Russian ships, including an oil tanker, have been reported in the Black Sea recently. 

Turkey has long acted as a mediator between the two warring parties, helping broker the grain agreement later abandoned by Russia. 

Relations between Ankara and Moscow were strained after Turkey handed over to Ukraine commanders of the ultranationalist Azov regiment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin nevertheless asked in August for Ankara's support in exporting cereals from a bumper Russian harvest, currently hampered because of Western sanctions.

Russia says it downed scores of Ukrainian drones

Moscow claimed early on Friday to have shot down 42 Ukrainian drones in Crimea, describing a massive attack on the illegally annexed peninsula.

It comes a day after Kyiv said it carried out a rare commando operation to land troops on Crimean soil, plant a Ukrainian flag, and inflict casualties on the Russian occupying forces. 

"Nine drones were destroyed following the impact of fire over the territory of the Republic of Crimea. 33 drones were neutralised by electronic warfare means and crashed without hitting (their) target," the Russian defence ministry said on Telegram.

The ministry did not provide any information about possible damage or casualties following the destruction of the devices.

The governor of Sevastopol had earlier reported that several aircraft had been shot down offshore "in the area of Cape Chersonese" in the south-west of the peninsula, some 10km from Sevastopol, the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

"No damage to civilian infrastructure" was reported by the emergency services, the governor said.

Since the start of the offensive against Ukraine in February 2022, Crimea has been a regular target of air and naval drone attacks.

At the end of July, Moscow shot down 25 of these drones aimed at the peninsula without causing any casualties. Twenty-eight others suffered the same fate in mid-July.

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Ukrainian pilots in training

Ukrainian pilots will start training to fly F-16 jets in the US from September, according to Washington. 

During a telephone call, US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy also spoke of "ensuring rapid approval for other nations to transfer their F-16s to Ukraine upon completion of training", the White House said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, Norway announced that it would become the third country to provide Ukraine with examples of this US-designed aircraft, following Denmark and the Netherlands.

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