Tue, 24 May 2022

The European Union on Friday pledged an additional €500 million worth of military aid for Ukraine at a meeting of G7 industrialised nations in northern Germany. The extra aid came as fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces intensified around the northeastern city of Kharkiv. Follow FRANCE 24's live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

10:43am: UN to set up inquiry into possible Russian war crimes

FRANCE 24's chief international affairs editor Rob Parsons explains that Thursday's UN Human Rights Council resolution to set up an investigation into possible war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine is "pretty devastating" for Moscow. The resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority, with 33 members voting for an investigation and only two countries - China and Eritrea - voting against it.

10:05am: Russia says it struck oil refinery in central Ukraine

Russia's defence ministry has said its forces struck the Kremenchug oil refinery in central Ukraine, destroying its production capacity and fuel tanks.

The ministry also said its forces shot down a Ukrainian Su-27 aircraft in the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine has been making steady gains in the Kharkiv area in recent days, according to UK intelligence. Russia's claims could not be independently verified.

9:58am: EU to provide further €500 million in military aid to Ukraine

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the bloc would provide a further 500 million euros worth of military support to Ukraine and that he was confident a deal could be reached in the coming days to agree an embargo on Russian oil.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meeting, Borrell said the military support would be for heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery and would bring the bloc's aid up to about 2 billion euros.

"A new impetus for military support. [It will be] more pressure on Russia with economic sanctions and continuing the international isolation of Russia and countering misinformation," he said.

Borrell said he was also optimistic an EU embargo on Russian oil could also be agreed in the coming days.

9:18am: France says G7 'strongly committed' in backing Ukraine

France has said the Group of Seven industrialised nations was committed to helping Ukraine win its war against Russia as the group's top diplomats held talks in northern Germany.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the G7 countries were "very strongly united" in their will to "continue in the long term to support Ukraine's fight for its sovereignty until Ukraine's victory".

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said it was vital to keep up the pressure on Russia by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and imposing further sanctions.

"It is very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and by increasing the sanctions," she told reporters on arrival at the G7 foreign ministers meeting.

7:41am: Ukrainian forces prevent Russian river crossing in Donbas: UK

Ukrainian forces successfully prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas, according to the British defence ministry.

Images suggest that Russia has lost armoured manoeuvre elements of at least one battalion tactical group and the deployed pontoon bridging equipment while crossing the Siverskyi Donets river west of Severodonetsk, Britain said in its intelligence update posted on Twitter.

7:17am: Battle moving 'from village to village'

Reporting from Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, FRANCE 24's Nadia Massih said Ukrainian troops have been making steady progress in the northeastern region, with the fighting moving from village to village.

Britain's Defense Ministry said Russia's focus on the eastern Donbas region has left its remaining troops around Kharkiv to the north vulnerable to counterattack from Ukrainian forces, which recaptured several towns and villages around the city.

12:45am: US says Russia has forcibly taken 'thousands' of Ukrainians

The US has accused Russia of forcibly taking tens of thousands of Ukrainians, often singled out for their resistance to the invasion, to Russia.

The remarks support allegations by the Ukrainian government, which estimates nearly 1.2 million people have been deported into Russia or Russian-controlled territory and has denounced so-called "filtration camps" in which Moscow interrogates detained people.

US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Michael Carpenter said that witness testimony attests to "brutal interrogations" in the camps.

"Accounts of this brutality and forced displacement are happening right now, as we speak, and these actions amount to war crimes," Carpenter told the organization in Vienna.

"We must not allow this evil to stand," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Originally published on France24

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