Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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June 4 (Reuters) – Ukraine said it had recaptured a chunk of the factory city of Sievierodonetsk, the focus of a Russian offensive to take the eastern Donbas region, and could hold it for up to two weeks as fighting raged on. 

FIGHTING

* Russia has reinforced its troops and used artillery to conduct “assault operations” in Sievierodonetsk, but Russian forces retreated after failed attempts to advance in the nearby town of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s military said.

* Two Reuters journalists were injured and a driver killed on Friday after the vehicle they were in came under fire while heading to the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, the latest battle line in Russia’s assault on its neighbour.

Photographer Alexander Ermochenko and cameraman Pavel Klimov were travelling in a car provided by Russia-backed forces on the Russian-held part of the road between Sievierodonetsk and the town of Rubizhne, 10 km (6 miles) to the north.

* Russian forces are blowing up bridges across the Seversky Donets river to prevent Ukraine bringing in military reinforcements and delivering aid to civilians in the town of Sievierodonetsk, the governor of the Luhansk region said.

* Britain’s defence ministry said Russian air activity remains high over Ukraine’s Donbas region with Russian aircraft carrying out strikes using both guided and unguided munitions.

* In the southern region of Odesa a missile hit an agricultural storage unit, wounding two people, the regional administration’s spokesman wrote on Telegram.

* Russia’s defence ministry said its forces shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane carrying weapons and munitions near the Black Sea port of Odesa.

* Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.

DIPLOMACY

* Ukraine wants to strengthen its positions on the ground with the help of new weapons deliveries from the West before it resumes peace talks with Russia, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said on Ukraine national television on Friday.

* French President Emmanuel Macron said it is vital that Russia is not humiliated so that when the fighting stops in Ukraine a diplomatic solution can be found, adding that he believed Paris would play a mediating role to end the conflict.

* Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is leaning toward attending a summit of NATO leaders in late June to spur coordination with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyodo News reported, citing unnamed government sources.

ECONOMY

* A ship sent to load metal and ship it to Russia has entered the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, TASS news agency reported, the second vessel to arrive in the southeastern city since Russia completed its capture last month.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin denied on Friday that Russia was preventing Ukrainian ports from exporting grain, saying the best solution would be to ship it through Belarus if sanctions on that country were lifted. 

QUOTES

* “Victory will be ours,” said Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaking on Friday in a video address to mark 100 days of the war.

PHOTO: National Opera soloists Daria Emelyantseva (front) and Andriy Mikhalikha (back) dance during the performance ‘100 days of February’ in downtown Lviv, Ukraine. The performance symbolizes 100 days of Ukrainian resistance to the ongoing Russian invasion. 03 June marks 100 days since Russia started an armed conflict on Ukrainian soil that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis, with nearly eight million internally displaced persons, as well as around seven million people who crossed the border into neighbouring countries. Photo: EPA-EFE/MYKOLA TYS

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