Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Aug 10 (Reuters) – Ukraine on Wednesday accused Russia of exploiting its position in a nuclear power plant it had seized to target a nearby town in a rocket attack that killed at least 13 people and left many others seriously wounded. 

FIGHTING/DIPLOMACY

* Russia launched 80 Grad rockets at the town of Marhanets across the Dnipro river from the nuclear plant on Tuesday, Valentyn Reznychenko, governor of the central Dnipropetrovsk region, said, adding that more than 20 buildings were damaged.

* There was no immediate comment from Russia, which has accused Ukraine of shelling the plant, something Kyiv denies.

* After a warning that there was a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster” at the plant from the International Atomic Energy Agency, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialised nations demanded that Russia hand it back, something Moscow seems unlikely to do.

* Two U.S. newspapers cited unnamed Ukrainian officials as saying Ukrainian special forces had carried out an attack on Tuesday on an air base on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, leading to the destruction of Russian military aircraft there.

* Moscow had said the explosions were detonations of stored ammunition rather than an attack. Kyiv has not taken responsibility for the attacks.

Russia was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

DIPLOMACY

* U.S. President Joe Biden signed documents on Tuesday endorsing Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO, the most significant expansion of the military alliance since the 1990s as it responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

* The U.S. State Department has approved $89 million worth of assistance to help Ukraine equip and train 100 teams to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance for a year, an official said on Tuesday. 

ECONOMY

* Russia’s pipeline monopoly Transneft said it planned to resume pumping oil through the southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline at 1600 Moscow time (1300 GMT), Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported. Transneft had said Ukraine halted oil shipments via Druzhba to Hungary and Slovakia on Aug. 4 after Western sanctions prevented it from receiving transit fees from Moscow.

* Russia’s government has received requests for extra state spending of around 5 trillion roubles ($82.99 billion) annually for the 2023-2025 period, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

 * Germany’s network regulator, which would be in charge of gas rationing in the event of a supply emergency, has received scores of exemption requests from across industry, reflecting fears of potential production cuts and subsequent losses. 

Photo courtesy Ukraine MOD

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