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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 738


Netherlands signs security pact with Kyiv; drone attack in occupied Kherson kills three; anti-war chants at Alexei Navalny funeral in Moscow

The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, signed a security deal with Ukraine in Kharkiv on Friday and said the Netherlands would help fund the supply of 800,000 artillery shells. Rutte met President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a surprise visit to the north-eastern city, just 40km (26 miles) from the Russian border, and became the seventh western leader to sign a 10-year security agreement with Ukraine in the past two months.

Three people were killed in a drone attack on a car in the Russia-controlled part of Ukraine’s Kherson region, the Moscow-installed governor said on Friday. Vladimir Saldo did not provide any details of the attack.

Russia is accumulating large forces around Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine as it seeks to make a breakthrough in the Donetsk region, a Ukrainian official said on Friday. Illia Yevlash, spokesperson for the operational group overseeing the eastern frontline, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that Russian forces were concentrating efforts to make a push on the strategic city to the west of Bakhmut, which fell to Moscow last May, hoping to advance towards Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

President Joe Biden hailed Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s “unwavering” support for Ukraine as they held talks on Friday overshadowed by concerns about the future of US aid for Kyiv. “We have each other’s backs – we also have Ukraine’s back,” Biden told Meloni at the White House. He sought to reassure Meloni that he was urging Republicans in Congress to stop blocking $60bn (£46bn/55bn) of vital US military assistance for Ukraine.

Anti-war slogans were chanted as thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral service of Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on Friday. Amid a large police presence, many in the crowd clutched flowers and some joined in chants including “Putin is a murderer”, “No to war” and “We won’t forgive”, defying the Kremlin’s warning of arrests. Crowds shouted “Navalny, Navalny!” when the hearse carrying his coffin arrived at a church.

Police arrested at least 67 people across Russia at tributes to Navalny on Friday, according to rights monitoring group OVD-Info. The arrests were in 16 towns, including six arrests in Moscow, it said, while saying earlier that 18 people were detained in Novosibirsk. Navalny tributes were also held in cities outside Russia including Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belgrade, Zagreb, Yerevan and Tbilisi.

Russia on Friday declared the acclaimed novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya a “foreign agent” for opposing the war in Ukraine and allegedly promoting LGBTQ “propaganda”. The 81-year-old literary icon, who lives in exile, is a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin and joins a long line of Russian cultural figures, including writer Boris Akunin, shunned by the Kremlin for their criticism of the war.

Canada on Friday announced restrictions on indirect imports of Russian diamonds weighing one carat and above in a coordinated move with other Group of Seven countries. The restriction adds to a ban on Russian diamonds announced in December.

Russia’s foreign minister visited Turkey, which has sought to revive Russia-Ukraine peace talks and ways to ensure safe navigation in the Black Sea. Sergei Lavrov attended a diplomatic forum in Antalya on Friday and met his Turkish counterpart, with a Turkish diplomatic source saying Lavrov acknowledged Ankara’s efforts but said the conditions that prompted the war “remained unchanged”.

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