The Ukrainian roundup

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May 21 (Reuters) – Russia pressed for control of Ukraine’s Donbas region, claiming victory in the months-long battle for Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant and launching a major offensive on the remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the province of Luhansk. 

FIGHTING

* Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday the last group of Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks had surrendered. 

* The commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment said in a video published on Friday that civilians and heavily wounded fighters had been evacuated from the steelworks, giving no further clue about the fate of the rest of its defenders.

* The Russian military said it had destroyed a major consignment of Western arms in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv, using sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles. Reuters could not independently verify the report, which also said Russian missiles had struck fuel storage facilities near Odesa on the Black Sea coast and shot down two Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft and 14 drones.

A picture taken during a media tour organized by the Russian Army shows Russian servicemen standing guard on the shore of the Black Sea in Skadovsk, Kherson region, Ukraine. The Russian-appointed head of Ukraine’s Kherson region, Volodymyr Saldo, said that the area will ‘soon become part of the Russian Federation’. The governor was installed by Russian forces after they took control of the southern Ukrainian region in March 2022. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

DIPLOMACY

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Friday proposed a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for the damage its forces have caused during the war. 

* Finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies said they have mobilised $19.8 billion for Ukraine and pledged to give more if needed. 

* Turkish President Erdogan said he would speak to Finland on Saturday, while maintaining his opposition to Finnish and Swedish NATO membership bids over their history of hosting members of groups that Ankara deems terrorists. 

ECONOMY

* Russia’s Gazprom halted gas exports to neighbouring Finland, the Finnish gas system operator said, the latest escalation of an energy payments dispute with Western nations.

* Russia rushed forward two payments on its international debt on Friday in its latest attempt to stave off a default that has looked on cards since its invasion of Ukraine. 

(Compiled by Richard Pullin and Frances Kerry)

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