Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Aug 11 (Reuters) – Satellite pictures released on Thursday showed devastation at a Russian air base in Crimea, hit days earlier in an attack that suggested Kyiv may have obtained new long-range strike capabilities that could change the course of the war.

FIGHTING

* Two U.S. newspapers cited unnamed Ukrainian officials as saying Ukrainian special forces had carried out an attack on Tuesday on the base on the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula.

* Moscow had said the explosions were detonations of stored ammunition. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the attacks.

* Heavy fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian town of Pisky near Donetsk. Further west, Ukraine accused Russian forces of using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to shield artillery.

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

Reuters was unable to verify battlefield reports.

* Britain and Denmark will provide more financial and military aid to Ukraine, they said on Thursday as European defence ministers met in Copenhagen. 

DIPLOMACY

* China’s ambassador to Russia called the United States the “main instigator” of the crisis in Ukraine, accusing Washington of backing Moscow into a corner with repeated expansions of the NATO defence alliance and support for forces seeking to align Ukraine with the European Union.

* Latvia’s parliament on Thursday designated Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” and called on Western allies to impose more comprehensive sanctions on Moscow. 

* Russia said it had rejected a Swiss offer to represent Ukrainian interests in Russia and Moscow’s interests in Ukraine because it no longer considers Switzerland a neutral country.

ECONOMY

* Ukraine’s overseas creditors backed its request for a two-year freeze on payments on almost $20 billion in international bonds, helping it avoid a debt default.

* A grain-carrying ship that was scheduled to depart from Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port under a U.N.-brokered deal on Thursday was unable to set sail due to bad weather, Turkey’s defence ministry said. 

* Russian law firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners (RGD) plans to appeal to Euroclear clearing house to help unfreeze funds of investors in foreign securities that were tied up by Western sanctions against Russia, a RGD partner said.

* Gas flows eastbound through the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland from Germany were steady on Thursday, data showed, as were flows via Nord Stream 1 from Russia, which has cut the pipeline to 20% of its capacity, citing maintenance work. 

(Compiled by Hugh Lawson)

Photo courtesy Ukrainian Emergency Services

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