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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

A Ukrainian serviceman sets up an anti-materiel rifle at a position in Marinka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, May 28 2022.
A Ukrainian serviceman sets up an anti-materiel rifle at a position in Marinka, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, May 28 2022.
Image: ANNA KUDRIAVTSEVA

European Union leaders agreed to ban most imports of Russian oil to the 27-nation bloc as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled on the outskirts of Sievierodonetsk, the last city still held by Kyiv in Ukraine's strategic Luhansk province.

 FIGHTING

* Russian forces have seized control of about a third of Sievierodonetsk, but their assault was taking longer than they had hoped, according to a Moscow-backed separatist leader quoted in a TASS news agency report.

* Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian troops had advanced into the southeastern and northeastern fringes of Sievierodonetsk. But he said Ukrainian forces had driven the Russians out of the village of Toshkivka to the south, potentially frustrating Moscow's push to encircle the area.

* Ukraine's defence ministry said Russian forces were also regrouping to attack the Sloviansk region.

* A car bomb exploded in the Russia-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol city on Monday, injuring several people in what Russia's Investigative Committee and a Ukrainian official said may have been the work of Ukrainians opposed to Russia.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

DIPLOMACY

* France on Monday called for an investigation after a French journalist was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was travelling in, which was being used to evacuate civilians near the city of Sievierodonetsk, was hit by shelling.

* Russia's ally Belarus will conduct military mobilisation exercises in June and July in the Gomel region, state news agency BelTA reported on Monday. The Gomel region of Belarus borders Ukraine in the south and, in places, the exclusion zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. To the east, it borders Russia.

* A chief adviser to Turkey's president told his US counterpart that Turkey wanted “concrete steps” on the existence of what it calls “terrorist organisations” in Finland and Sweden before it would consider their NATO bids, the Turkish presidency said.

* President Joe Biden said the United States would not send Ukraine rockets that can reach into Russia, following reports that the administration was preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems.

* NATO's support for Ukraine is unbreakable and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not reach his objectives, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

TRADE

* President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia was ready to facilitate the unhindered export of grain from Ukrainian ports in coordination with Turkey, according to a Kremlin readout of talks with President Tayyip Erdogan.

* GasTerra, which buys and trades gas on behalf of the Dutch government, will no longer receive gas from Russia's Gazprom from May 31 after refusing to agree to Moscow's demands for payment in roubles, the two companies said on Monday.

FINANCE

* Russia is considering paying Eurobond holders by applying the mechanism it uses to process payments for its gas in roubles, though investors said the move would not enable Russia to avoid a historic default on debt.

* SPB Exchange, Russia's second-largest bourse, said it would transfer up to 14% of US-listed shares that its clients possess to a non-trading account after the central bank said it would restrict trading in some foreign shares.

* Russian e-commerce player Ozon said on Monday it has failed to redeem some bonds to a group of holders, putting it at risk of a potential default, but said it is negotiating with bondholders to find a solution. Nasdaq-listed Ozon, trading in whose shares has been suspended since Feb. 28, said it is restricted from sending cash from its Russian subsidiaries to its Cypriot holding company, Ozon Holdings Plc, which is the issuer of the bonds.

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