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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 541 of the invasion

Nato chief says only Ukraine can decide conditions for peace; US approves sending F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg has said only Kyiv can decide conditions for peace talks with Russia following a territory row. His comments come after his chief of staff suggested Ukraine could give up land as a condition of Nato membership. Stoltenberg said: “It is the Ukrainians, and only the Ukrainians, who can decide when there are conditions in place for negotiations, and who can decide at the negotiating table what is an acceptable solution.”

The United States has approved sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands as soon as pilot training is completed, a US official has said. Kyiv has actively sought the US-made F-16 fighter jets to help it counter Russian air superiority. Washington gave Denmark and the Netherlands official assurances that the US would expedite approval of transfer requests for F-16s to go to Ukraine when the pilots were trained, the official said on Thursday. Denmark’s acting defence minister, Troels Poulsen, said in July that the country hoped to see “results” from the training in early 2024.

On Wednesday, Ukraine had said it would not be able to operate F-16 jets this coming autumn and winter. “It’s already obvious,” air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said on Ukrainian television.

The US has imposed sanctions on four Russians it accused of being involved in the 2020 poisoning of now jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The US Treasury Department said the four were linked to Russia’s federal security service (FSB) and included two it said were among the main reported perpetrators of Navalny’s poisoning.

Russia is making steady progress towards its goal of mass producing Shahed-136 drones that can travel more than 1,000 miles (1,600km) and target Ukrainian cities, the Washington Post has reported, citing documents about the plan. Moscow is working on its own version of the Shahed-136 despite delays and sanctions that impact components needed from other countries, according to the documents.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is not trying to push Belarus into joining the war in Ukraine, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has said. “If you Ukrainians do not cross our border, we will never participate in this war, in this hot war. But we will always help Russia – they are our allies,” he said in an online interview.

The US condemned Russia’s continued attacks on Ukraine’s grain infrastructure and called on Moscow to immediately return to the collapsed grain deal, the state department has said. Vladimir Putin did not care about global food security, state department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said after Ukraine earlier on Wednesday said Russia had attacked its grain storage facilities overnight.

A civilian cargo vessel has left Ukraine’s southern port of Odesa, Kyiv has said, despite warnings from Russia that its navy could target ships using Black Sea export hubs. The vessel reached Istanbul on Thursday. Ukraine’s announcement raises the spectre of a standoff with Russian warships after Moscow last month pulled out of the deal that guaranteed safe passage for grain shipments from three Ukrainian ports.

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had thwarted a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian territory on Thursday morning. Interfax said a drone had been downed over Russia’s southern Belgorod region, citing the defence ministry.

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