Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

The United States promised more military support for Ukraine, including drones, and is considering whether to send fighter aircraft, as Russian forces shelled towns and cities in the east with the war about to enter its sixth month.

Heavy fighting has been taking place in the last 48 hours as Ukrainian forces continued their offensive against Russia in Kherson province, west of the Dnipro River, British military intelligence said.

Three people were killed as 13 Russian missiles hit a military airfield and railway infrastructure in Ukraine’s central Kirovohrad region, the local governor said.

Washington is exploring whether it can send US-made fighter jets to Ukraine, although this would not be done immediately, a White House spokesman said on Friday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Wall Street Journal a ceasefire with Russia without reclaiming lost territory would only prolong the war.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday its forces had destroyed four US-supplied high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) between July 5 and Wednesday.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

European Union welcomes resumption of Ukrainian food exports:

Ukraine has around $10 billion worth of grain available for sale in the wake of the deal signed with Russia to unblock supplies, and will also have a chance to sell the current harvest, Zelenskyy said on Friday.

A number of insurance underwriters are interested in providing cover for grain shipments from Ukraine after the agreement to reopen Black Sea ports although details need to be worked out, a senior London marine insurance market official said on Friday.

Russia’s state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom will be able to ship oil to third countries under an adjustment of EU sanctions aimed at limiting the risks to global energy security.

Credit rating firms Fitch and Scope downgraded Ukraine on Friday to a notch above default after Kyiv requested a debt-payment freeze, while adviser JP Morgan said it cannot rule out Ukraine needing more debt relief.

Lithuania lifted a ban on the rail transport of sanctioned goods into and out of Kaliningrad, the Russian territory sandwiched between the Baltic country and Poland, Russia’s RIA news agency said on Friday.

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