Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now


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President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday many Ukrainians were buried at various sites in the newly-recaptured northeast including whole families and people who were tortured, likening the aftermath to Russia’s withdrawal from near Kyiv months ago.

In an interview at his presidential office, he told Reuters an investigation was underway with international assistance and that there was evidence of Russian war crimes in those areas.

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* There was no immediate public comment from Russia, which denies targeting civilians.

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FIGHTING

* Some bodies found in a mass burial site in northeastern Ukraine in territory recaptured from Russian forces were found with their hands tied behind their backs, the governor of Ukraine’s Kharkiv province said on Friday.

* U.N. human rights monitors will be sent to Izium “to try to establish a bit more about what may have happened,” a spokesperson said.

* At least four Russian-installed officials were killed and several people wounded, separatist officials said, in attacks on three different areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces.

* Russian-backed separatists in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson said Ukrainian forces had bombarded government buildings, killing at least one person and wounding others.

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* Authorities in Kryvyi Rih are working to repair the damage to a reservoir dam from Russian missile strikes and as a result water levels are receding, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential administration.

* Ukrainian forces repelled three Russian attacks north of the eastern city of Donetsk, the armed forces’ general staff said on Facebook. Sea-based missiles also targeted areas of the Odesa port region but were destroyed by anti-aircraft units.

* Reuters was not able to verify battlefield reports.

* Western sanctions are starting to hurt Russia’s ability to make advanced weaponry for the war in Ukraine, a top NATO military adviser told Reuters, though he added Russian industry could still manufacture “a lot of ammunition.”

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* NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine’s counter-offensive against invading Russian forces had been very effective but warned nations should prepare for the long haul as this did not signal the beginning of the end of the war.

* The United States will soon announce a new $600 million arms package for Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* The United States imposed new sanctions to punish those supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, targeting people and entities it accused of helping Moscow skirt financial sanctions, steal Ukrainian grain and violate human rights.

DIPLOMACY

* In a rare admission, Russian President Putin said he understood that China’s leader Xi Jinping had questions and concerns about the situation in Ukraine but praised Xi for what he said was a “balanced” position on the conflict.

* European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, visiting Kyiv, said Ukraine was making good progress towards joining the EU. She said supporting Ukraine comes at a high cost but freedom is “priceless.”

QUOTES

* “As of today, there are 450 dead people, buried. But there are others, separate burials of many people. Tortured people. Entire families in certain territories,” Ukrainian President Zelesnkiy said. (Compiled by Mark Heinrich and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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