If you’re just waking up, or just dropping in to find the latest information, here’s a summary of the main points you might have missed:
Ukrainian forces have been pushed back by a Russian bombardment in the frontline eastern city of Sievierodonetsk and now only control its outskirts. Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, said most of the city was now in Russian hands and that it was no longer possible to rescue civilians stranded there.
The battle for Sievierodonetsk – where the fate of Donbas is being decided –is probably the most difficult seen so far during the war, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said. “Battle for Sievierodonetsk is probably one of the most difficult during this war, and in particular the fate of Donbas is being decided there,” he said in his latest national address on Wednesday night.
A Russian-backed official in Ukraine’s partially occupied southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia said Russia has begun to send grain from occupied areas to Turkey and the Middle East through Crimea. A Russian official in Crimea, Oleg Kryuchkov, said the first train carrying grain had arrived from Melitopol, a city in Zaporizhzhia. The Kremlin also claimed shipments of grain will restart in the coming days from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian port of Berdiansk after work to de-mine the area.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Moscow was willing to open corridors to allow grain exports from Ukraine, but that these efforts relied on the Ukrainian side to remove mines from their ports. Kyiv dismissed Lavrov’s remarks as “empty” words and said military equipment was required to protect the coastline and a navy mission to patrol the export routes in the Black Sea.
A Ukrainian journalist confronted Lavrov about grain exports from Ukraine during a visit to Ankara, Turkey. “Apart from cereals, what other goods did you steal from Ukraine and who did you sell them to?” Muslim Umerov asked.
The UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “threatening to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake”. A new report by the UN said an estimated 94 countries, home to around 1.6bn people, are “severely exposed to at least one dimension of the crisis and unable to cope with it”.
Russian-installed officials in the occupied part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region reportedly plan to stage a referendum later this year on joining Russia. A Kremlin-backed official, Vladimir Rogov, was quoted by the Russian state-owned news agency Tass as saying: “The people will determine the future of the Zaporizhzhia region.” Ukraine says any referendums held under Russian occupation would be illegal and their results fraudulent.
More than 1,000 Ukrainian servicemen and foreign mercenaries, who had surrendered in Mariupol, have been transferred to Russia for an investigation there, Russian state-owned news agency Tass reports. More Ukrainian prisoners of war will be taken to Russia “later on”, a Russian law enforcement source told the outlet.
Moscow’s chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, has left Russia after coming under pressure to support its invasion of Ukraine, according to a relative. Goldschmidt flew to Hungary to raise money for refugees in Eastern Europe after refusing to publicly support what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Two British men captured by Russian forces while fighting alongside Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol face 20 years in prison, according to a video shared by Russian state media. Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48, appeared in court in the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
Britain’s economy will suffer more than any other major industrial country from the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The UK will grow by 3.6% in 2022 before posting zero growth in 2023, according to the Paris-based thinktank the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).
Ukraine has received the first billion dollars of the $40 billion aid package that the US Congress approved last month. In a tweet on Wednesday,US ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A Brink said: “Supporting Ukraine means strengthening its economy. Direct support of $1 billion is already here to help Ukraine and its people move forward.”
Zelenskiy said he met with American philanthropist Howard Buffet, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffet, in Kyiv to discuss rebuilding efforts. “We discussed assistance that would be valuable for our state. I offered him the chance to join projects restoring irrigation systems in the Odesa region, supporting our people, (and) mine clearance,” Zelenskiy said in a tweet.
Russian authorities have further cracked down against citizens who speak out about the fighting in Ukraine. A Moscow court on Wednesday extended the detention of Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., a journalist and former associate of assassinated Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, accusing him of spreading lies about the Russian military. Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov said a criminal case had also been opened against him.