Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Injured man after shelling in Sloviansk

(Reuters) – Russia pounded Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk after seizing Luhansk province following months of gruelling attritional warfare in which both sides lost many men.

FIGHTING

* Russian forces struck a market and a residential area in the city of Sloviansk near front lines in Donetsk, killing at least two people and injuring seven, according to officials.

* Russian rocket strikes hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said.

* Russian-backed separatists have seized two foreign-flagged ships in the southeast Ukrainian port of Mariupol, saying they are now “state property”, in the first such moves against commercial shipping, letters seen by Reuters showed.

* Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

* The speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament said Ukraine had become a “terrorist state” and was doing everything to ensure that Russia did not stop at the borders of the Donbas region.

DIPLOMACY AND ECONOMY

* Ukrainian President Zelenskiy renewed his appeal for security guarantees while addressing a conference hosted by the Economist. Europe needs to understand, he said, that the war in Ukraine is about Europe’s safety and Ukraine is the “fence” protecting it.

* An international conference in Lugano, Switzerland, to support Ukraine has outlined a series of principles to steer Kyiv’s recovery and condemned Moscow’s actions.

* Western partners should do more to help unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea ports to release exports of grain, metals and mining products, a Ukrainian official said in Lugano.

* The United States does not expect any meeting this week at the G20 between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov and wants members to speak out about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

* Russian former president Medvedev said a reported proposal from Japan to cap the price of Russian oil at around half its current price would lead to a market shortage that could push prices above $300-400 a barrel.

HUMAN RIGHTS

* Arbitrary detention of civilians has become widespread in parts of Ukraine held by Russia’s military and affiliated armed groups, with 270 cases documented, the U.N. human rights chief said.

QUOTES

* “The city doesn’t exist anymore,” said Nina, a young mother who fled Lysychansk in Luhansk province to take refuge in the central city of Dnipro. “It has practically been wiped off the face of the Earth.”

(Compiled by Tomasz Janowski and Mark Heinrich; editing by Grant McCool)

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