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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now


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Russian missiles hit Ukraine’s southern port of Odesa on Saturday, the Ukrainian military said, threatening a landmark deal signed just the day before to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports and ease global food shortages caused by the war.

REACTIONS TO ODESA STRIKE

* Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said: “The Russian missile is Vladimir Putin’s spit in the face of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who went to great lengths to reach an agreement and to whom Ukraine is grateful.”

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* A U.N. spokesperson said that “The Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) unequivocally condemns reported strikes today in the Ukrainian port of Odesa. Yesterday, all parties made clear commitments on the global stage to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain and related products to global markets.”

* U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said “Outrageous. Russia strikes the port city of Odesa less than 24 hours after signing an agreement to allow shipments of agricultural exports. The Kremlin continues to weaponize food. Russia must be held to account.”

* A Russian defense ministry statement on Saturday outlining progress in the war did not mention any strike in Odesa. The ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

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FIGHTING

* Heavy fighting has been taking place in the last 48 hours as Ukrainian forces continued their offensive against Russia in Kherson province, west of the Dnipro River, British military intelligence said.

* Three people were killed as 13 Russian missiles hit a military airfield and railway infrastructure in Ukraine’s central Kirovohrad region, the local governor said.

* Washington is exploring whether it can send U.S.-made fighter jets to Ukraine, although this would not be done immediately, a White House spokesman said on Friday.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield reports.

ECONOMY

* Ukraine has around $10 billion worth of grain available for sale in the wake of the deal signed with Russia to unblock supplies, and will also have a chance to sell the current harvest, Zelenskiy said on Friday.

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* A number of insurance underwriters are interested in providing cover for grain shipments from Ukraine after the agreement to reopen Black Sea ports although details need to be worked out, a senior London marine insurance market official said on Friday.

* Credit rating firms Fitch and Scope downgraded Ukraine on Friday to a notch above default after Kyiv requested a debt-payment freeze, while adviser JPMorgan said it cannot rule out Ukraine needing more debt relief.

* Lithuania lifted a ban on the rail transport of sanctioned goods into and out of Kaliningrad, the Russian territory sandwiched between the Baltic country and Poland, Russia’s RIA news agency said on Friday. (Compiled by William Mallard and Frances Kerry)

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