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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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By Reuters
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

– Russian gas was still flowing to Europe on Friday despite a deadline set by President Vladimir Putin to cut it off unless customers start paying in roubles, Moscow’s strongest threat to retaliate for sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.

NEXTSTEPS

* Under the decree signed by Putin, foreign buyers of Russian gas must open rouble accounts in state-controlled Gazprombank from Friday to allow foreign currency to be converted to roubles. Analysts said the plan, which puts Gazprom at the heart of the trade, was more about shielding the state-controlled oil and gas company from future sanctions than depriving Europe of gas.

* Member states of the International Energy Agency were set to discuss (from 1200 GMT) a possible coordinated release of oil stocks to bring down prices. U.S. President Joe Biden announced a release from the U.S. emergency oil reserve on Thursday.

* The EU pressed China for assurances it would not supply Russia with arms or help Moscow circumvent sanctions at their first summit in two years. China said it hoped the EU would form an independent view. U.S. officials are also urging countries to keep up the pressure as the initial economic shock seems to be ebbing.

* Russia hailed India as a friend that was not taking a “one-sided view” on the Ukraine war during a visit by its foreign minister, who saw his Chinese counterpart earlier in the week. [L3N2VZ19D]

* One of Putin’s allies warned that Russia, a major global wheat exporter, could limit supplies of agriculture products to “friendly” countries only.

* Russia and Ukraine resumed peace talks online after Russia said it was preparing its response to Ukrainian proposals.

FIGHTING

* “Huge” battles are being fought to the north and east of Kyiv, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital said.

* The governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksandr Pavlyuk, said Russian forces had withdrawn from Hostomel, a northwestern suburb of Kyiv, but were still dug in at Bucha, between Hostomel and Irpin. Britain said Ukrainian forces had recaptured villages linking Kyiv with the besieged northern city of Chernihiv.

* Ukrainian forces are preparing for new Russian attacks on the Donbas region in the southeast after they repelled Russia’s assault on the capital Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

* He said Russia was building up forces near the besieged and devastated southern port of Mariupol, where officials say some 170,000 people are trapped.

* Russia had promised an evacuation ceasefire for Mariupol after a request to Putin from the leaders of France and Germany. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was hopeful evacuations of thousands of civilians could begin but that its teams which went in to collect people on Friday had not been allowed to take in any aid.

ECONOMY

* Banks should beware of fake news that could trigger a run on their deposits, the European Union’s banking watchdog said in a warning about potential fallout from the war in Ukraine.

QUOTE

* The Russian government must “answer to the mothers, the sisters, the wives of those soldiers – why did they force them to put their lives at risk?” – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaking about trenches dug by Russian soldiers in the radioactive zone around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant.