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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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(C) Reuters. Ukrainian national flag is seen through the window of an apartment destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the town of Borodianka, in Kyiv region, Ukraine May 13, 2022. REUTERS/Vladyslav Musiienko
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(Reuters) – Russian forces stepped up their assault on the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Saturday after claiming to have captured the nearby rail hub of Lyman, as Kyiv intensified its calls for longer-range weaponry from the West to help it fight back in the Donbas region.

FIGHTING

* Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had taken full control of Lyman, a railway hub west of Sievierodonetsk.

* Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, said the battle for Lyman continued, the ZN.ua website reported.

* Russia also said it had used missile strikes to destroy Ukrainian command posts in Bakhmut and Soledar. Both towns lie on an important road running southwest from Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.

* Luhansk’s governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said on Friday Russian troops had entered Sievierodonetsk, the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine.

* Gaidai said 90% of buildings in Sievierodonetsk were damaged with 14 high-rises destroyed in the latest shelling.

* The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Ukrainian forces had repelled eight assaults in Donetsk and Luhansk in the previous 24 hours. Russia’s attacks included artillery assaults in the Sievierodonetsk area “with no success”, it said.

* Ukraine has started receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late-night video that he expected good news next week regarding weapons supplies, without giving details.

TERRITORIAL ALLEGIANCE

* A senior pro-Russian official in the occupied Ukrainian region of Kherson told Reuters on Saturday that nearby fighting could affect the timing of its formal bid to join Russia and a decision was likely “towards next year”.

ECONOMY

* Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany in a phone call that Russia was willing to discuss ways to make it possible for Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from Black Sea ports, the Kremlin said.

* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Zelenskiy that international partners were working intensively to find ways to resume the export of grain from Ukraine to avert a global food crisis.

* A ship has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol for the first time since Russia completed its capture of the city to load metal and ship it east to Russia, TASS news agency reported, in a move that Kyiv decried as looting.

* The EU is seeking a deal this weekend to ban Russian oil deliveries by sea but not pipeline to win over Hungary. Zelenskiy has accused the EU of dithering.

TALKS

* French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to release the 2,500 Ukrainian defenders of the Azovstal steel plant detained by Russian forces, the Elysee palace said.

* Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said any agreement with Russia cannot be trusted and Moscow can only be stopped in its invasion by force.

* The Kremlin blamed Kyiv for stalled peace talks.

COMING UP

* An EU summit on Monday and Tuesday could see divisions between members who want to take a hard line against Russia and those calling for a ceasefire.

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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