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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Ukraine said its troops have marched farther east into territory recently abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a potential assault on Moscow’s occupation forces in the Donbas region as Kyiv seeks more Western arms.

FIGHTING

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* Russian forces struck the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region but its reactors have not been damaged and are working normally, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said.

* The Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, is trying to recruit over 1,500 convicted felons to take part in Russia’s war in Ukraine, but many are refusing to join, a senior U.S. defense official said.

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* Russia has probably lost at least four combat jets in Ukraine within the last 10 days, taking its attrition to about 55 since the beginning of its invasion, the British military said.

* Thirteen people were killed in artillery shelling in the eastern Ukrainian separatist-held city of Donetsk, the city’s Russian-backed mayor said.

* Ukraine’s general defense staff said its forces repelled Russian attacks in the areas of Mykolaivka Druga, Vesela Dolyna and Bakhmut settlements in the Donetsk region.

* Reuters could not verify battlefield reports.

* Zelenskiy said investigators had discovered new evidence of torture used against some soldiers buried near Izium, in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

* The Kremlin rejected allegations that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region as a “lie.” Moscow regularly denies committing atrocities in the war or deliberately attacking civilians.

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DIPLOMACY/AID

* U.S. President Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in the wake of Russian military setbacks in Ukraine.

* Germany will supply Ukraine with four more Panzer howitzer 2000 tanks along with an additional ammunition package, the defense ministry said. Ukraine has urged the West to step up military aid to help it turn the tide of battle against Russia.

QUOTES

* “It’s scary … I’ve still kept this feeling that any moment a shell could explode or an airplane could fly over. I’m still scared to be here.” – Nataliia Yelistratova as she returned to the recently liberated northeastern town of Balakliia.

* “I would love to serve in the airborne troops. My parents brought me up since childhood to love my homeland, to protect the Russian world. I believe the power is with us.” – Russian musician Viktor Yakunin at a military recruitment office. (Compiled by Stephen Coates, Mark Heinrich and Cynthia Osterman)

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