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Ukrainian forces were holding their positions in intense street fighting and under day and night shelling in Sievierodonetsk, officials said, as Russia pushes to control the bombed-out city, key to its objective of controlling eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Fighting

  • Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on Thursday the situation in Sievierodonetsk was “extremely complicated” and Russian forces were focusing all of their might in the area. “They don’t spare their people, they’re just sending men like cannon fodder … they are shelling our military day and night,” Danilov told Reuters in an interview.

  • In a rare update from Sievierodonetsk, the commander of Ukraine’s Svoboda National Guard Battalion, Petro Kusyk, said Ukrainians were drawing the Russians into street fighting to neutralise their artillery advantage.

  • Two Britons and a Moroccan captured while fighting for Ukraine were sentenced to death by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), one of Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported. Their lawyer said they will appeal the decision.

Economic impact

  • Russia may be getting more revenue from its fossil fuels now than shortly before its invasion of Ukraine, as global price increases offset the impact of Western efforts to restrict its sales, US energy security envoy Amos Hochstein told lawmakers.

  • The Kremlin said no agreement had been reached to sell grain from Ukraine to Turkey - which Ukraine says Russia has stolen from it - but that work on a deal was continuing. Moscow denies stealing the grain but the United States says there are credible reports that Russia is “pilfering” it.

  • One of two breakaway eastern Ukrainian regions backed by Moscow on Thursday said it would soon start rail shipments to Russia of grain that its troops had “liberated”, Tass news agency reported.

  • The IMF said it hopes to mobilize as much funding as possible to aid Ukraine. Canada and Germany have already pledged over $2 billion to a new administered account set up by the International Monetary Fund to help war-torn Ukraine, and other countries have expressed interest, IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said on Thursday.

Politics

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin paid tribute on Thursday to Tsar Peter the Great on the 350th anniversary of his birth, drawing a parallel between what he portrayed as their twin historic quests to win back Russian lands.

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