Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Ukraine ignored a Russian ultimatum to surrender the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk as the United States announced more weapons for Kyiv, which said arms deliveries were taking too long.

FIGHTING * The head of Ukraine’s military said Russia had concentrated its main strike forces in the north of Luhansk region and were trying to attack simultaneously in nine directions. * Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukrainian forces of disrupting efforts to allow civilians to escape from a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, scene of a weeks-long battle. Reuters was unable to verify the claim. * Two U.S. citizens who traveled to Ukraine as volunteer fighters against Russian forces have been missing for a week and are feared captured, family members said. A White House national security spokesperson said if the reports are true, the United States “will do everything we can” to get them back. * U.S. President Biden announced another infusion of $1 billion in weapons for Ukraine that includes anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets, howitzers and ammunition. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador denounced Western countries for supplying weaponry to Ukraine.

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DIPLOMACY * The leaders of the European Union’s three biggest countries, Germany, France and Italy, are expected in Kyiv to show their backing for Ukraine. * The European Union’s executive is expected to propose on Friday that Ukraine become a formal candidate for membership of the bloc, diplomats and officials say.

ECONOMY * Russia said it has offered “safe passage” for Ukraine grain shipments from Black Sea ports but is not responsible for establishing the corridors and Turkey suggested that ships could be guided around sea mines. * Russian people and companies are using entities in Georgia to bypass Western sanctions, a group of Ukrainian lawmakers said on a visit to Washington, but they did not provide further details or specific examples. The Georgian embassy in Washington said the accusations were “completely false.” (Compiled by Grant McCool)

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