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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Russian forces stormed the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s strategic port of Mariupol and stepped up missile strikes elsewhere, Ukrainian officials said, as President Vladimir Putin oversaw a parade of military firepower in Moscow.

VICTORY DAY

* Putin evoked the memory of Soviet heroism in World War Two to inspire his army fighting in Ukraine, but offered no new road map to victory and acknowledged the cost in Russian soldiers’ lives.

* Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his statement to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, said of his country’s war with Russia: “The road to [victory] is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win.”

* Britain’s defense minister Ben Wallace said Putin and his generals were “mirroring fascism and tyranny of 77 years ago” in their invasion of Ukraine.

* Russia’s ambassador to Poland was doused in a red substance by people protesting against the war in Ukraine as he went to lay flowers at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Warsaw. [nL2N2X114O[

FIGHTING

* Ukraine’s defense ministry said Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery were conducting “storming operations” on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where the city’s last defenders are holed up. It gave no details of the assault.

* Ukrainian officials said four high-precision Onyx missiles fired from the Russian-controlled Crimea peninsula had struck the Odesa area in southwestern Ukraine. The governor of Mykolaiv, also in the southwest, said overnight strikes were very heavy.

DIPLOMACY AND SANCTIONS

* Zelenskiy called on the international community to take immediate steps to end a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s ports to allow wheat exports and prevent a global food crisis.

* Ukraine alone can define the conditions for any negotiations with Russia, said French President Emmanuel Macron, adding it was Europe’s “duty” to stand by Kyiv.

* EU governments moved closer to agreeing tough sanctions against Russia that include a ban on buying its oil, but scheduled more talks for Monday to work out how to ensure countries most dependent on Russian energy can cope.

QUOTES

“Today we do not know what to expect from the enemy, what terrible thing they might do, so please go out onto the street as little as possible, stay in the shelters,” said the governor of the eastern Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai.

(Compiled by Gareth Jones)

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SourceReuters

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