Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now


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U.N. nuclear experts set out from the city of Zaporizhzhia on Thursday to visit a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s south to assess any damage, even as both sides in the conflict reported new shelling in the nearby town of Enerhodar.

NUCLEAR PLANT, FIGHTING

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* Russian troops were shelling the route of the IAEA mission planned to allow them access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia region said on Thursday.

* The head of the Ukrainian military administration of Nikopol across the Dnipro river from the Zaporizhzhia plant said earlier Russian forces were shelling near the plant to try to give the IAEA the impression that Ukraine was attacking it. Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling the plant.

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* In the past 24 hours, five civilians in the Donetsk region were killed and 12 were wounded, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram messaging app.

* Ukraine’s operational command South said its forces had destroyed a pontoon bridge near the town of Daryivky in the Kherson region, which had been used by the Russian troops to bring in equipment and ammunition.

* Russia’s defense ministry said Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south had failed, with their forces suffering heavy losses of equipment and men.

Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

DIPLOMACY, ECONOMY

* Germany’s chief of defense warned the West not to underestimate Russia’s military strength, saying it has the potential to open up a second front.

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* EU foreign ministers decided to make it more expensive and lengthier for Russians to get visas to travel to the bloc, but stopped short of agreeing to a visa ban that Ukraine and several member states had called for.

* Russia halted gas supplies via a major pipeline to Europe, intensifying an economic battle between Moscow and Brussels and raising the prospect of recession and energy rationing in some of the region’s richest countries.

* Russia blamed sanctions for the supply halt.

* G7 finance chiefs will discuss the U.S. administration’s proposed price cap on Russian oil when they meet on Friday, the White House said.

(Compiled by Himani Sarkar)

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