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Russia-Ukraine War At A Glance: What We Know On Day 727

A Russian helicopter pilot who defected to Ukraine with his aircraft in 2023 has been found dead in Spain, according to the main military intelligence agency in Kyiv, the GUR. Spanish media said Maksim Kuzminov was found shot 12 times on a car park ramp underneath an apartment block in the town of Villajoyosa in Alicante on the Mediterranean coast.

In August 2023, Kuzminov landed his Mi-8 AMTSh helicopter on Ukrainian territory. His two fellow pilots were killed, reputedly having refused to surrender. Ukraine’s GUR said at the time that Kuzminov defected after a six-month operation. Before his defection, the pilot’s family were extracted from Russia, Budanov said.

It comes days after the suspected killing by Russia of the leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny in a Siberian prison camp. On Monday, Navalny’s widow Yulia Navalnaya published a video address in which she vowed to continue her late husband’s political work and called on Russians to rally around her.

Ukraine shot down two more Russian warplanes used to drop guided aerial bombs, army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said. The destroyed planes were an Su-34 fighter-bomber and an Su-35 fighter, Syrskyi wrote on Telegram. Over the weekend, Ukraine said it had shot down three Russian Su-34s and one Su-35.

Ukrainian troops were facing “heavy fire” from Russian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, a Ukrainian army spokesperson was quoted by AFP as saying. It comes after Russia said it had taken full control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, its biggest gain since capturing Bakhmut last May, after a retreat by Ukrainian troops.

Russia is exploiting delays in aid to Ukraine, and the situation in areas where Russian troops are concentrated is “extremely difficult”, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. Ukraine’s president spoke visiting the frontline in the Kupiansk sector in the north-east. “This is a very sensitive matter. Artillery shortages, the need for frontline air defence and for longer-range weapons,” said Zelenskiy.

Joe Biden, the US president, said he was willing to meet with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, to discuss Ukraine funding, adding that Republicans are making a mistake by opposing it. The Senate this month passed a $95bn aid package that includes funds for Ukraine, but Johnson has refused to bring it up for a vote on the floor of the House, which Republicans control by a 219-212 margin.

NBC News reported the White House was prepared to send long-range tactical missiles to Ukraine if Congress approves a new funding package.

Canada will donate more than 800 SkyRanger R70 multi-mission drones to Ukraine, Canada’s defence minister, Bill Blair, has said. The drones, from Teledyne in Waterloo, Ontario, were valued at over C$95m, the ministry said, and funded through C$500m in previously announced military assistance.

The Red Cross said it was trying to find out what happened to 23,000 people who have disappeared over the course of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was seeking to determine whether they had been captured, killed or had lost contact after fleeing their homes.

Belgium’s foreign minister, Hadja Lahbib, has called on the EU to develop an army amid increasing nervousness about Russian aggression.

Speaking on his way into the summit of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Estonia’s foreign minister, Margus Tsahkna, called Vladimir Putin a “murderer” and said Ukraine urgently needs more ammunition.

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