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KYIV: Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

More than 1,000 Mariupol fighters remain: separatist

More than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers including senior commanders, remain inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, says Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian separatist leader.

Russia says 959 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the plant, including 80 wounded, since Monday.

It says the injured are being treated in a hospital in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, which is controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Ukraine’s defence ministry says it will do “everything necessary” to rescue the personnel still in the plant’s tunnels. Kyiv says it hopes to exchange Azovstal fighters for Russian soldiers it is holding.

Mariupol has been devastated by Russian attacks, and a US official says invading forces have carried out atrocities during their attempt to take the city.

“Some Russian officials recognize that despite claiming to be ‘liberators’ of Mariupol, Russian forces are carrying out grievous abuses in the city, including beating and electrocuting city officials,” the official says.

Biden to meet leaders of Finland, Sweden

US President Joe Biden will meet President Sauli Niinisto of Finland and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Washington on Thursday after offering strong backing for the Nordic nations’ NATO membership applications.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland jettisoned decades of military non-alignment, despite warnings from the Kremlin.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden fear they could be future targets of aggression by Moscow. Public support in the two countries for NATO membership skyrocketed after the Ukraine invasion.

Their applications face strong resistance from NATO member Turkey, which accuses the two nations of harbouring anti-Turkish extremists.

But Western allies remain optimistic they can overcome Ankara’s objections.

War in Ukraine enters ‘protracted phase’: defence minister

Several other NATO allies, most notably Britain, have offered security assurances to Finland and Sweden while their applications are considered.

Russian soldier pleads guilty to war crimes

A 21-year-old Russian soldier pleads guilty to killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian at a war crimes trial in Kyiv, in the first such case to go to court since the start of the invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin from Irkutsk in Siberia admits to gunning down the 62-year-old man near the central village of Chupakhivka to prevent him from reporting a carjacking by fleeing Russian troops.

He faces possible life imprisonment for war crimes and premeditated murder after the case is heard by a district court in Kyiv.

One dead in attack on Russian village

One person died and others were injured in southwestern Russia after an attack in a village on the border with Ukraine, the governor of Kursk region says.

“Another enemy attack on Tyotkino, which took place at dawn unfortunately ended in tragedy,” Roman Starovoyt says on Telegram.

G7 to meet on Ukraine budget crisis

Finance ministers from G7 nations hope to find a solution to Ukraine’s budget troubles at a meeting in Germany on Thursday.

G7 partners have to “assure Ukraine’s solvency within the next days, few weeks”, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner tells the daily Die Welt ahead of the meeting.

The war has blown a hole in Ukraine’s finances, as tax revenue has dropped sharply, leaving it with a shortfall of around $5 billion a month.

Moscow expels dozens of diplomats

Russia expels dozens of French, Italian and Spanish diplomats in tit-for-tat responses to the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the Ukraine conflict.

The foreign ministry says 27 Spanish, 24 Italian and 34 French diplomats have been declared “persona non grata”.

All three countries condemn the move. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi calls it a “hostile act” that will make it more difficult to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Russia says it is also closing the Moscow offices of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in retaliation for Ottawa’s ban on Russian state media outlet RT.

UN warning on global food crisis

The United Nations warns that a growing global food crisis, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, could last years if it goes unchecked.

Russia and Ukraine produce 30 percent of the global wheat supply.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the war “threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity”.

What could follow would be “malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years”, Gutteres says, urging Russia to release Ukrainian grain exports.

US reopens Kyiv embassy

The United States reopens its embassy in Kyiv after closing it for three months due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the State Department says.

“The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia’s unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the embassy once again,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

Russian fire intensifies in northern Ukraine

Russian forces have intensified artillery fire on Ukrainian border settlements around the city of Sumy to the north and close to the Russian border and Chernihiv to the east of the capital over the past few weeks, the Ukrainian army is reported as saying by the Institute for the Study of War.

The shelling comes despite the Russian military having scaled back its offensive in the north to focus on the eastern Donbas region.

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