- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for a new $300 million aid package that includes air defense systems and ammunition.
- The United Nations noted that the Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to operate far below capacity, as Russia keeps blocking usage of one of the three ports authorized under the deal to get Ukrainian grain to international markets.
- The U.S. announced that a temporary suspension of tariffs on Ukrainian steel has been extended for a year.
- The United Nations expressed concerns about repeated attacks on health facilities in Ukraine.
A pre-dawn Russian missile attack that targeted Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, killed at least three people, including a 9-year-old girl and her mother, and injured 16 others, Ukrainian officials said Thursday.
The Ukrainian military said it had intercepted all 10 short-range, cruise and ballistic missiles Russia fired, but Kyiv officials said debris from the missiles damaged apartment buildings, a medical clinic and a water pipeline.
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska said one child was hospitalized after the attack. It came as Kyiv planned to celebrate International Children’s Day, but scheduled festivities were called off.
“Children’s Day has to be about safe childhood, summer, life,” she tweeted. “But today it is about new crimes of [Russia] against children.”
Since February 2022, when Russia launched its invasion, at least 525 children have been killed and at least 1,047 others injured, according to the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
“Sadly, as the world marks International Children’s Day, there is little to celebrate in Ukraine where civilians, including children, continue to pay a heavy price,” said Matilda Bogner, the mission’s chief.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired a video meeting with families to mark International Children’s Day, promising to maintain state subsidies and other measures to support them.
When one participant in the meeting voiced confidence that Russia would be victorious in Ukraine, Putin said, “It will be so. There is no doubt about it, because we are protecting our land, our people and our values.”
Russia carried out 17 aerial attacks on Kyiv in May as Ukraine prepared for an expected counteroffensive to try to take back territory Russian forces have seized during the war.
The governor of western Russia’s Belgorod region said Thursday that overnight shelling had wounded multiple people in the town of Shebekino.
Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram that the attack had damaged several buildings as well. He blamed Ukrainian forces.
In Oslo, NATO foreign ministers gathered Thursday to discuss increasing their support for Ukraine and Ukraine’s aspirations to join the military alliance.
Ukraine's Zelenskyy has asked that NATO fast-track his country’s acceptance, but Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that Ukraine's admission to NATO was “not on the agenda” while the war continued.
Stoltenberg did express support for Ukraine's eventual membership as he spoke to reporters.
"All allies also agree that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and all allies agree that it is for the NATO allies and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine becomes a member," Stoltenberg said. "It's not for Moscow to have a veto against NATO enlargement."
Stoltenberg said the “most urgent and important task now is that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign and independent nation.”
Asked about attacks on Russian soil attributed to Ukraine, Stoltenberg said Ukraine had been attacked by Russia and had the right to defend itself. He said Putin could stop the war at any time, and that those responsible for war crimes in Ukraine must be held accountable.
Thursday’s meeting in Oslo came ahead of a summit of NATO leaders next month in Lithuania, where Stoltenberg said he expected allies would agree on a long-term commitment to support Ukraine. He said Ukraine needed to have the capabilities and strength to defend itself and deter any future attempts by Russia to repeat its invasion.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised what he called NATO’s “extraordinary unity” in response to Russia as he spoke with reporters in Oslo.
"It’s been very much one of the principal reasons for the success that Ukraine has had in pushing back against the Russian aggression,” Blinken said. “We have said from day one what we would do in terms of supporting Ukraine, in terms of putting pressure on Russia, and in terms of strengthening our own alliance. We have done what we’ve said; we’ll continue to do that.”
Stoltenberg had expressed hope that NATO allies would approve Sweden’s bid to join the alliance before the July summit. All existing members must give their approval, and to date only Hungary and Turkey have not.
The NATO chief said Thursday that he would soon travel to Ankara to continue discussing the situation with leaders there. Turkey has accused Sweden of not doing enough to crack down on groups that Turkey considers terrorists. Stoltenberg noted that a new anti-terrorism law went into effect Thursday in Sweden and reiterated he was confident Sweden would become a full NATO member.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said Thursday that it was concerned that the Black Sea grain deal was continuing to operate far below capacity, as Russia continues to block usage of one of the three ports authorized under the deal to get Ukrainian grain to international markets and has slowed the registration and inspection of cargo ships.
“The Russian Federation has informed of its decision to limit registrations to the port of Yuzhny/Pivdennyi as long as ammonia is not exported," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters of the third port that has been dormant. Russia wants access for the export of its ammonia for fertilizer through the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline that runs from Russia to the Ukrainian port city of Odesa. Russia accuses Ukraine of issuing more conditions for that to happen.
Dujarric said U.N. mediators are continuing to engage with the parties to reach a full resumption of operations under the grain deal, including the resumption of the ammonia pipeline.
Ukrainian grain exports have also been slowed by the reduction of inspection teams for grain vessels and their registration.
“We need to move forward,” Dujarric said. “The initiative is bound for renewal on 17 July. Global hunger hot spots are increasing, and the specter of food inflation and market volatility lurks in all countries.”
VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.