(Reuters) – Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of a Russian armoured column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region, video from Ukraine’s military showed, as the Ukrainian defence minister predicted many weeks of grinding fighting ahead.
* Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said talks with Russia on getting wounded defenders out of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol were very complex, adding Kyiv was using influential intermediaries.
* U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an immediate ceasefire when he spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu for the first time since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon said.
Topical international security issues were discussed by Austin and Shoigu, including Ukraine, TASS news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.
ECONOMY AND NATO
* Foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations backed giving more aid and weapons to Ukraine in what Germany called a “powerful sign of unity” to deepen Russia’s global isolation.
* The world will not be left short of oil even with lower output from sanctions-hit Russia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. It cut its predictions for supply losses to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) compared to 1.5 million bpd predicted last month.
* The European Union is hopeful of a deal to impose a phased embargo on Russian oil this month despite concerns about supply in eastern Europe, diplomats said.
* Swedish membership of NATO would boost national security and help stabilise the Nordic and Baltic regions, Sweden’s Foreign Minister said, a day after Finland said it would seek to join the U.S.-led alliance.
* Turkey does not support Swedish and Finnish membership, President Erdogan said. Turkey has in the past criticised Sweden and other Western European countries for their handling of organisations deemed terrorist by Ankara, including Kurdish militant groups.
“We had a peaceful life. They didn’t need to do this,” said Roman Meleshenko of a Russian missile strike on the town of Dergachi’s Palace of Culture where he staged children’s shows. The centre doubled as a humanitarian aid distribution base.
Moscow denies targeting civilians.
(Compiled by Grant McCool)