Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now


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Ukraine accused Russian forces of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a rapid weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops that drove Russia to abandon its main bastion in the Kharkiv region.

FIGHTING

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* Ukrainian forces have advanced north from Kharkiv to within 50km (30 miles) of the border with Russia and are also pressing to the south and east in the same region, Ukrainian chief commander General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said.

* Zaluzhnyi said Ukraine has retaken more than 3,000 sq km (1,158 sq miles) this month.

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* Britain’s Defence ministry said Ukrainian forces had continued making gains in the Kharkiv region over the past 24 hours, with Russia likely withdrawing units but fighting continuing around the cities of Kupiansk and Izium.

* Russia’s defense ministry ordered troops to leave the area around the city of Izium, TASS reported on Saturday. It also quoted Russian-installed chief administrator of Russian-controlled parts of the province as telling residents to evacuate to Russia.

* Russian nationalists called angrily for President Vladimir Putin to make immediate changes to ensure ultimate victory in the Ukraine war, after Moscow was forced to abandon its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine.

* Ukraine needs to secure the territory it has recaptured from Russian forces against a possible counterattack, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov was quoted as saying on Sunday. Ukrainian troops were tired after their six-day offensive but morale was good, he told the Financial Times.

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* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.

NUCLEAR PLANT

* Operations at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have been fully stopped as a safety measure, its state operator said. The move followed the restoration of the backup power line allowing to connect the plant with Ukraine’s electricity grid.

* The IAEA nuclear watchdog confirmed the restoration of the line, allowing the plant to take power needed from the grid to cool its reactors.

* The presidents of Russia and France held talks regarding safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, with Putin blaming Ukrainian forces while Emmanuel Macron pointed the finger at Russian troops.

DIPLOMACY, TRADE

* Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told a conference attended by Germany’s foreign minister that Russia was doing “everything” to break Ukrainian and European resolve this winter. “Ninety days that more than all other years will determine the existence of the EU,” he said in remarks posted on his website late on Saturday.

* Britain dismissed Putin’s assertion that only a tiny fraction of grain exported from Ukraine under an international deal was going to poor countries, saying 30% has gone to low and middle-income countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

* France’s transport minister said he would sign an agreement with Romania to help increase Ukrainian grain exports to developing countries including to the Mediterranean.

(Compiled by Lincoln Feast Editing by Shri Navaratnam)



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