War in Ukraine: latest developments

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– Russia confirms the capture of the city of Lyman –

The Russian army confirms that it has captured the strategic town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, on the way to two key towns still under Kyiv’s control.

Lyman is on the road to the urban centers of Severodonetsk and Kramatorsk always in the crosshairs of Moscow.

Russian forces closed in on Severodonetsk and nearby Lysychansk in Lugansk Province, with conflicting reports on the extent of their advance.

Ukraine does “everything” to defend the Donbass

Ukraine says it is doing “everything” to defend Donbass, the country’s industrial heartland where Russia is waging an escalating offensive.

In his daily address to the Ukrainians, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Russians had “concentrated maximum artillery, maximum reserves in Donbass”.

“We are protecting our lands in the way that our current defense resources allow us,” he added. “We are doing everything to increase them.”

France and Germany call for direct talks

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron are asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold “serious direct negotiations” with Zelensky.

During an 80-minute conversation with the Russian president, the two EU leaders “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops”, the German chancellery said.

They are also calling on Russia to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters taken prisoner of war after they surrendered earlier this month at a sprawling steel mill in the ravaged port city of Mariupol.

Russia ‘ready’ to help ship grain

With a looming global food crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, Putin says Moscow is “ready” to look for ways to ship grain stranded in Ukrainian ports, but calls on the West to lift sanctions.

“Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports,” Putin told Macron and Scholz, according to the Kremlin.

Putin claims that the difficulties in supplying cereals to world markets are the result of “erroneous economic and financial policies of Western countries”.

Putin says more Western weapons are ‘dangerous’

Putin is warning the West that increased arms deliveries to Ukraine are “dangerous” and could further destabilize the situation in the pro-Western country.

His remarks follow US media reports that Washington is preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems to further assist Ukraine.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby did not confirm delivery plans for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, a highly mobile system capable of firing up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) that Kyiv said is badly needed.

But he said Washington was “always committed to helping them succeed on the battlefield.”

Russia tests hypersonic missile

Russia announces the latest test of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, which it says traversed some 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) and “succeeded in hitting” a target in the Arctic.

Australian aid worker killed

As Ukraine faces an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation, an Australian man was reportedly killed this week while delivering aid.

An obituary appeared in Tasmania’s Mercury newspaper identifying the man as Michael Charles O’Neill, 47, with a tribute on Facebook saying he ‘led the wounded and wounded from the front line’. A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the death.

The Orthodox Church breaks relations with Russia

The Moscow branch of the Kyiv Orthodox Church says it is cutting ties with Russia over the invasion, in a historic move against Russian spiritual authorities.

After holding a council focused on “aggression” of Russia, the church declares “full independence” from Russian Patriarch Kirill, the second Orthodox schism in Ukraine in recent years.

Ukraine has been under the spiritual leadership of Moscow since at least the 17th century.

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