Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Oct 9 (Reuters) – Russian divers were to examine the damage from a powerful blast on a road-and-rail bridge to Crimea that is an imposing symbol of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula and a key supply route to its forces battling in southern Ukraine.

CONFLICT

* At least 12 people were killed as a result of shelling in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia in the early hours of Sunday, and 49 people hospitalised, including six children, Ukrainian officials said.

* Ukrainian troops are involved in very tough fighting near the strategically important eastern town of Bakhmut, which Russia is trying to take, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday.

* Russia’s Defence Ministry named Air Force General Sergei Surovikin on Saturday as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, Moscow’s third senior military appointment in a week.

* Shelling cut power to Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which needs cooling to avoid a meltdown, forcing it to switch to emergency generators, Ukraine’s state nuclear company and the United Nations atomic watchdog said on Saturday.

ECONOMY, DIPLOMACY

* Ukraine’s economy shrank an estimated 30% in the first three quarters of 2022 from the same period in 2021, with bad harvest weather compounding the impact of the war, the economy ministry said, although exports jumped 23% on month in September after an internationally brokered deal allowed Black Sea grain shipments.

* The Sakhalin 1 oil and gas project in Russia is very important for Japan to ensure its diversified crude oil procurement, Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree establishing a new operator for the project in Russia’s Far East.

* NATO must do more to protect itself against Russia and Putin, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Saturday, because we “cannot know how far Putin’s delusions of grandeur can go”.

* To reverse the economic shock caused by the war, Ukraine’s government is pinning its hopes on the entrepreneurial resolve of small businesses, along with the return of millions of refugees – and large-scale international financial aid.

(Compiled by William Mallard and Frances Kerry)

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