The International Monetary Fund announced a four-year $15.6 billion loan program for Ukraine as part of a worldwide $115 billion plan to bolster the country’s economy while it fights Russia’s 13-month invasion.
* A $2.6 billion military aid package from the United States, which might include air surveillance radars, anti-tank missiles, and fuel trucks for Ukraine’s struggle against Russia, is due to be disclosed as soon as Monday, according to three U.S. officials.
* A senior Ukrainian official ruled out any ceasefire in Russia’s war on his country that would involve Russian forces remaining on territory they now occupy in Ukraine.
* Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia faced “existential threats” to its security and development from “unfriendly states” as he presented President Vladimir Putin with an updated foreign policy doctrine.
* U.S. Secretary of State Blinken will push back on Russia’s attempts to “weaponise energy” and rally support for a Ukrainian counteroffensive when he meets NATO foreign ministers in Brussels next week, an official said.
* Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Russia, which has decided to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, could if necessary put intercontinental nuclear missiles there too.
* At least six Russian missiles hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv late on Thursday, and officials are gathering details about damage and casualties, the regional governor said.
* The advance of Russian soldiers on the outskirts of the eastern frontline town of Bakhmut “has been halted – or nearly halted”, the director of the Ukrainian defense publication Defense Express said.
* Reuters could not verify battlefield reports.
U.S. REPORTER’S ARREST
* Russia said on Friday that if the United States threatened Moscow over its arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, it would “reap the whirlwind”, the state-owned news agency RIA reported.
* A Nobel prize-winning Russian journalist said he did not believe that arrested American reporter Evan Gershkovich was a spy, adding he hoped diplomacy could bring about his quick release.
STORIES OF NOTE
* In Ukraine’s Bucha, a ‘wounded soul’, aches one year after liberation from violent Russian occupation
* SPECIAL REPORT-Facial recognition is helping Putin curb dissent with the aid of U.S. tech
* INSIGHT-Ukraine’s scramble for ‘game-changer’ drone fleet
* SPECIAL REPORT-Wagner’s convicts tell of horrors of Ukraine war and loyalty to their leader.