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Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | Zelensky: situation in Donbas region remains very difficult


The Ukrainian general staff said troops had managed to push Russian forces out of Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv in the northeast — a priority target for Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russia dismissed Ukraine’s claim it had damaged a modern navy logistics ship in the Black Sea and showed photos of what it said was the vessel with no signs of damage.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday said the situation in the Donbas region remained very difficult, adding that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory.

The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.

Read more news on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis here.

Here are the latest updates:

Ukraine

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra wins Eurovision amid war

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in the early hours of Sunday in a clear show of popular support for the war-ravaged nation that went beyond music.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine’s third since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and said “we will do our best” to host next year’s contest in the hotly contested port city of Mariupol. He underlined “Ukrainian Mariupol,” adding: “free, peaceful, rebuilt!”

Finland

Finland seeks to reassure Russia about NATO bid

 Finland on Saturday sought to allay Moscow’s fears about its bid to join NATO, as fierce fighting raged in Ukraine’s east, slowing a Russian advance.

Moscow has warned Finland, with whom it shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border, that it would take “reciprocal steps”.

Finland’s grid operator said Russia halted electricity supplies overnight, though Finnish officials said power supplied by Sweden had made up for the losses.

Ahead of talks with NATO members in Berlin, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was “confident that in the end we will find a solution and Finland (and) Sweden will become members of NATO”.

Earlier, in a phone call initiated by Helsinki, President Sauli Niinisto had a “direct and straightforward” conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Avoiding tensions was considered important,” Niinisto’s office said.

Putin, however, told him that Finland joining NATO would be a “mistake”, insisting that Russia posed “no threat to Finland’s security”, the Kremlin said.- AFP

Russia

Russia denies Ukraine forces damaged navy ship in Black Sea

 Russia on Saturday dismissed Ukraine’s claim it had damaged a modern navy logistics ship in the Black Sea and showed photos of what it said was the vessel with no signs of damage.

Military authorities in the southern Odesa region said on Thursday that Ukrainian naval forces had struck the Vsevolod Bobrov, setting it alight.

In an online post, the Russian defence ministry published photos it said had been taken of the ship on Saturday in the Crimean Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

“It is now clear from the photographs that the ship is not damaged at all,” it said.- Reuters

Ukraine

Zelensky: situation in Donbas region remains very difficult

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday said the situation in the Donbas region remained very difficult, adding that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory.

“On the 80th day of a full-scale invasion this seems especially crazy, but they are not stopping their efforts,” he said in a late night video address.- Reuters

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Russia pulls back from Kharkiv, fighting continues in the east: Ukraine military

Russian troops are withdrawing from around Ukraine’s second-largest city after bombarding it for weeks, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday, as Kyiv and Moscow’s forces engaged in a grinding battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Ukraine’s general staff said the Russians were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern Donetsk province in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.”

G7

G7 warn of Ukraine grain crisis, ask China not to aid Russia

The Group of Seven leading economies warned Saturday that the war in Ukraine is stoking a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries, and urgent measures are needed to unblock stores of grain that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine.

In a statement released at the end of a three-day meeting on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, the G-7 nations also called on China not to help Russia, including by undermining international sanctions or justifying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.



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