Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now


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Ukrainian troops were set to withdraw from the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk after weeks of intense bombardments and street fighting, the regional governor said on Friday.

The day marks four months since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent forces across the border into Ukraine, sparking the biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two.

FIGHTING

* Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said Ukrainian forces will have to leave Sievierodonetsk. Troops had already received the order to move to new positions, he added.

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* Russian forces are seeking to surround eastern Ukraine’s embattled Lysychansk, the sister city of Sievierodonetsk, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry said.

* About 10 km (6 miles) south of Lysychansk, Russian troops had entered the town of Hirske and fully occupied the district on Friday, municipal head Oleksiy Babchenko said.

* Moscow said it had encircled about 2,000 Ukrainian troops, including 80 foreign fighters, at Hirske.

* Authorities in the town of Derhachi, to the northwest of Kharkiv, said heavy Russian shelling had knocked out most of the electrical and natural gas supply.

* Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the ground.

NUCLEAR WORRIES

* The U.N. nuclear watchdog is increasingly concerned about the welfare of Ukrainian staff at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest, it said on Friday, adding that it must go there as soon as possible.

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MILITARY AID

* Ukraine said it had received U.S. supplies of powerful HIMARS long-range weapon systems.

* The United States will provide an additional $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

ECONOMY AND DIPLOMACY

* There is a “real risk” of multiple famines this year, U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said. He urged ministers meeting on food security to take practical steps to stabilize food markets and reduce commodity price volatility.

* Russia’s war against Ukraine, not Western sanctions, will add another 40 or 50 million more people to the ranks of the hungry, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Berlin.

* Moscow said it couldn’t comment on a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel that Germany was looking at expropriating part of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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* However, if Germany took concrete steps on expropriation, those would in first instance be a matter for lawyers, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

* Germany’s Economy Ministry is considering converting parts of Nord Stream 2 into a connection for a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Baltic Sea coast, Der Spiegel reported.

* Moscow’s foreign ministry blamed the United States for a Lithuanian ban on sanctioned goods crossing from the Russian mainland to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

* Turkey said it was investigating claims that Ukrainian grain was stolen by Russia and shipped to countries including Turkey, although no stolen shipments had been found so far. Russia has previously denied theft allegations.

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* A dozen EU countries have now been affected by cuts to gas supply from Russia, the bloc’s climate policy chief said.

QUOTES

* “Russia has stolen our peace,” Zelenskiy told the crowds at Glastonbury, the world’s largest green field festival.

“Remaining in positions smashed to pieces over many months just for the sake of staying there does not make sense,” Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai said of the situation in Sievierodonetsk.

* “Ukraine will prevail. Europe will prevail. Today marks the beginning of a long journey that we will walk together,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. (Compiled by Himani Sarkar; Editing by Michael Perry, William Maclean)

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