The Ukraine war is the focus of a NATO summit in Madrid its secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, deemed "pivotal" for the alliance's future on Wednesday. Finland and Sweden will be formally invited to join the alliance after Turkey dropped its opposition on Tuesday. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time, GMT+2.
2:40pm: EU reassigns €3.5 billion of regional funds to hosting Ukraine refugees
The European Union's executive on Wednesday made a fresh 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) from regional development funds available to host Ukrainian refugees after some 6.2 million fled to the bloc since Russia invaded its neighbour on February 24.
Russia intensified its attacks on all fronts on Wednesday, a day after a missile strike on a shopping mall killed at least 18 people in central Ukraine.
"EU member states have welcomed millions of Ukrainians fleeing from this war, but they also have to deal with its economic consequences - extra costs and supply chain difficulties," said Valdis Dombrovskis, a deputy head of the executive European Commission.
2:35pm: Zelensky asks NATO for modern artillery and money
President Volodymyr Zelensky told NATO leaders on Wednesday that Ukraine needs modern weapons and more financial aid in its fight against Russia's invasion.
"We need to break the Russian artillery advantage... We need much more modern systems, modern artillery," Zelensky told the NATO summit in Madrid via videolink.
He added that financial support was "no less important than aid with weapons".
"Russia still receives billions every day and spends them on war. We have a multibillion-dollar deficit, we don't have oil and gas to cover it," Zelensky said, adding that Ukraine needs around $5 billion a month for its defence.
The United States and Canada, which are far less reliant on Russia as an energy supplier than Europe, have banned all Russian oil imports.
The European Union, however, has introduced a gradual oil embargo as part of its sanctions on Moscow.
2:08pm: Russia not 'intimidated' by US military buildup in Europe, deputy foreign minister says
Russia said Wednesday it would not be intimidated by US military reinforcements in Europe as tensions spiral over Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.
"I think that those who propose such solutions are under the illusion that they will be able to intimidate Russia, somehow restrain it -- they will not succeed," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.
1:55pm: Macron, Erdogan discuss ways to export Ukraine grain
French President Emmanuel Macron and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan discussed the importance of finding ways to let Ukraine export its grain and ensuring security at the port of Odessa at the NATO summit in Spain.
Macron also welcomed plans by Sweden and Finland to join NATO, added a statement from Macron's office.
1:08pm: Russia may buy 'friendly' countries' currencies to weaken rouble
Russia may start buying the currencies of "friendly" countries and use those holdings to try to influence the exchange rate of the dollar and euro, as a means of countering sharp gains in the rouble, its finance minister said on Wednesday.
The rouble has soared to seven-year highs, boosted by capital controls that include curbs on Russians withdrawing foreign currency savings, thereby eating into Russia's export income by denting the value of dollar and euro proceeds from sales abroad of commodities and other goods.
Authorities in Russia stopped buying foreign currency via market interventions in early 2022, under a budget rule designed to shield it from external shocks, to ease pressure on the rouble at a time when it was falling sharply.
12:50pm: Pope Francis says shopping centre bombing the latest 'barbarous' attack
Pope Francis on Wednesday called the bombing of a crowded shopping centre in the city of Kremenchuk the latest in a string of "barbarous attacks" against Ukraine.
Ukraine said at least 18 people were killed and about 60 injured on Monday by a Russian missile strike. Russia's defence ministry said it had hit a legitimate military target in the city, and that the shopping centre was not in use.
12:05pm: Task force has frozen $330 bn in Russian assets since Ukraine invasion
A sanctions task force of leading Ukraine allies has frozen more than $330 billion in financial resources owned by Russia's elite and the central bank since Moscow's troops invaded, the group announced Wednesday.
The Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task Force (REPO) said in a joint statement that they had blocked $30 billion in assets of Russian oligarchs and officials and immobilised $300 billion owned by the Russian central bank.
REPO was formed on March 17, three weeks after the invasion of Ukraine, to increase pressure on Moscow economically in hopes of getting Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war. Its members include top finance and justice officials of the United States, Australia, France, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Britain and the European Commission.
11:53am: Biden says US changing its force posture in Europe based on threat
The United States is changing its force posture in Europe based on threats coming from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and other directions, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday during a NATO summit in Madrid.
He confirmed the U.S. will raise the number of destroyers in Spain to six from four and said Washington will send two additional F-35 squadrons to Britain and establish the 5th Army headquarters in Poland.
11:34am: NATO delegates expect summit to 'redefine European-Atlantic order'
FRANCE 24's Sarah Morris reports from Madrid.
9:56am: 'You will not win', Spanish PM tells Putin
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the host of this week's NATO summit, said on Wednesday that the alliance was delivering a strong message to President Vladimir Putin over Russia's invasion of Ukraine: 'You will not win'.
Earlier, Sanchez said that Russia would be identified as NATO's "main threat" in its new strategic concept, as opposed to its previous status as a strategic partner.
9:50am: NATO to supply weapons to Ukraine as long as necessary, says Scholz
NATO allies will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons in its war against Russia for as long as necessary, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Madrid on Wednesday.
"It is good that the countries that are gathered here but many others, too, make their contributions so Ukraine can defend itself - by providing financial means, humanitarian aid, but also by providing the weapons that Ukraine urgently needs," Scholz told reporters as he arrived for the second day of the NATO summit.
8:55am: Russia poses a direct threat to NATO security, says Stoltenberg
NATO leaders meeting in Madrid Wednesday are set to label Russia a menace to their security as they overhaul the alliance's defences in response to the war on Ukraine, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
"We'll state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security," Stoltenberg said ahead of the unveiling of NATO's strategic blueprint.
8:15am: NATO to invite Finland, Sweden to join after Turkey lifts objections
NATO leaders will formally invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance Wednesday after the two Nordic countries reached an agreement with Turkey, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. FRANCE 24's Joseph Keen reports:
7:40am: At least three killed in Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv
At least three people were killed and five wounded by a Russian missile strike on a residential building in Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv on Wednesday, said local authorities who have launched a rescue effort for survivors.
Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said eight missiles had hit the city and urged residents to evacuate. He said the building appeared to have been hit by a Russian X-55 cruise missile.
7:15am: Madrid summit pivotal for alliance's future, says NATO chief
More than 40 leaders will gather for what NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called a "pivotal summit" for the alliance's future.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been invited to participate and will speak twice via videolink, as Kyiv pushes for accelerated weapons deliveries from its allies.
NATO countries, which have already committed billions of dollars in military assistance to Kyiv, will agree on a "comprehensive assistance package to Ukraine, to help them uphold the right for self-defence", said Stoltenberg.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)