Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
Ukraine’s military said it had killed scores of Russian soldiers and destroyed two ammunition dumps in the Kherson region, the focus of Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the south and a key link in Moscow’s supply lines.
* Ukraine’s southern command said more than 100 Russian soldiers and seven tanks had been destroyed in fighting on Friday in the southern regions of Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa.
* Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the deaths of dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the Donetsk region. Moscow-backed separatists said Kyiv targeted the facility with U.S.-made rockets. Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian artillery had targeted the facility to hide the mistreatment of prisoners.
* Ukraine said on Friday at least five people had been killed and seven wounded in a Russian missile strike on the southeastern city of Mykolaiv, a river port just off the Black Sea.
* Russian-installed authorities in occupied territories in southern Ukraine may be preparing to hold referendums on joining Russia later this year and are “likely coercing the population into disclosing personal details in order to compose voting registers,” UK military intelligence said.
* Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.
* U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday held the first call between the top U.S. and Russian diplomats since before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, to discuss a U.S.-proposed prisoner swap.
* Blinken said the world expected Russia to fulfill its commitments under a deal with Ukraine to reopen grain and fertilizer exports. Lavrov said U.S. sanctions complicated the global food situation.
* Lavrov said Russia will meet the aims of its “special military operation” and that Western arms supplies to Kyiv were prolonging the conflict.
* Russia’s foreign ministry announced sanctions against 32 officials and journalists from New Zealand for supporting what it called the country’s “Russophobic agenda.” (Compiled by Grant McCool, William Mallard and Frances Kerry)