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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey hailed progress at talks in Istanbul aimed at resuming Black Sea grain exports blocked by Russia, but an end to the war remained far off as heavy shelling continued.

ECONOMY/DIPLOMACY

* An agreement between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and U.N. to form a coordination center to ensure the safety of Black Sea grain routes was reached on Wednesday and would be signed next week, Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.

* U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said more work was needed before a deal was finalized.

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* North Korea on Wednesday recognized two Russian-backed breakaway “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine as independent states, a separatist leader and the North’s official news agency said.

* The EU will encourage member countries to cut gas demand by incentivising industries to use less to prepare for possible further cuts to Russian supply, according to a draft plan seen by Reuters.

* G20 finance leaders will meet in Bali this week for talks on issues like global food security and soaring inflation, but there was skepticism from Germany and France over Indonesia’s hopes for common ground as tensions over Ukraine simmer.

FIGHTING

* Authorities in the eastern Donetsk region reported sustained Russian shelling.

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* Russia struck 28 settlements in the Mykolaiv region bordering the Black Sea, killing at least five civilians, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

* Russia said it shot down four Ukrainian military jets, an assertion the Ukrainian air force dismissed as propaganda.

* Russian and proxy forces have entered the town of Siversk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Russian state news agency TASS reported. Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia had not conducted any new assaults on the frontline that includes Siversk, but that the town had been fired upon by artillery.

* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

HUMAN IMPACT

* The United States called on Russia to immediately release Ukrainians it has forced out of their home country and allow outside observers, citing reports Moscow was putting Ukrainian children up for adoption and “disappearing” thousands of others.

* Around two-thirds of refugees from Ukraine expect to stay in their host countries until hostilities subside and the security situation improves after Russia’s invasion, a survey by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR found.

(Compiled by Himani Sarkar)



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