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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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By Reuters

– A Red Cross convoy heading to Mariupol was set to try again to evacuate civilians from the besieged port as Russian forces looked to be regrouping for new attacks in the southeast.

FIGHTING

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has accused Russian soldiers of deliberately mining areas in northern Ukraine as they withdraw or are pushed out by Ukrainian forces.

* Ukrainian forces continue to advance against withdrawing Russian forces in the vicinity of Kyiv, British military intelligence said.

* Russian missiles hit two cities in central Ukraine, damaging infrastructure and residential buildings, the head of the Poltava region said.

* Russia’s defence ministry said high-precision air-launched missiles had disabled military airfields in Poltava and Dnipro.

* Maksim Levin, a photographer and videographer who was working for a Ukrainian news website and was a long-time contributor to Reuters, was killed while covering the war.

DIPLOMACY

* Pope Francis implicitly criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine, saying a “potentate” was fomenting conflict for nationalist interests.

* Russia’s space director said the restoration of normal ties between partners at the International Space Station (ISS) and other joint space projects would be possible only once Western sanctions against Moscow are lifted.

ECONOMY

* Ukraine’s economy shrank 16% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year and could contract 40% in 2022 as a result of Russia’s invasion, the economy ministry said, citing preliminary estimates.

* Ukraine’s railways are struggling with a backlog of grain wagons on the country’s western border as traders look for alternative export routes after Russia’s invasion blocked off the main Black Sea ports, analyst APK-Inform said.

* The European Union is working on further sanctions on Russia but any additional measures will not affect the energy sector, the EU’s Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said.

QUOTES

* “At each checkpoint we were stopped … We were checked, undressed. They checked our shoulders, arms … (to see) if I had been taking part in the fighting.” Vladimir Andreev, a 63-year-old pensioner from Mariupol describing checks by Russian troops as he and the group he was with fled the city.