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Russia-Ukraine war: heavy fighting continues in Donbas; Russia renews push south of Izium, UK says – live | Ukraine

Russia has probably renewed its efforts to advance south of Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in the past 48 hours, Britain’s defence ministry says.

Russia’s goal was to penetrate deeper into the Donetsk region and envelope the pocket around the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk from the north, it said on Twitter on Saturday.

Reuters reported the ministry adding that if trapped Ukrainian civilians did not take up an offer of leaving via a corridor, Russia was likely to claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area.

Hello and welcome to our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. It’s approaching 10am in Kyiv and these are the latest developments.

  • A Ukrainian paramedic has been released from Russian captivity, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on Saturday. He said Ukraine had been able to secure the release of Yulia Payevska, a civilian parademic who was captured by Russian forces in Mariupol on 16 March.
  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted that the bravery of Ukrainians had created the opportunity for Europe to “create a new history of freedom, and finally remove the grey zone in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia”. In his nightly video addrees, Zelenskiy hailed Brussels’ support for Ukraine’s European Union bid as a “historic achievement”.
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin said Moscow has “nothing against” Ukraine’s possible membership of the European Union. He said on Friday after the European Commission recommended granting Kyiv candidate status of the 27-member bloc: “It’s their sovereign decision to join economic unions or not … It’s their business, the business of the Ukrainian people.”
  • The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said it was “absolutely necessary” for leaders to speak directly with Putin in attempts to end the war. “I will continue to do so, as the French president will also,” Scholz told German news agency DPA on Friday.
  • Four civilians died and six were wounded on Friday in Russian bombing in the Donetsk region of the Donbas, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.
  • Dozens of Ukrainian civilians performed military exercises on Friday in fortified positions left by Russian troops in Bucha, a town synonymous with war crimes blamed on Moscow’s forces.
  • Lithuania has told the Russian region of Kaliningrad it will block the import and export of a large number of goods by rail because of western sanctions, the regional governor said on Friday. The region is home to the Russian Baltic fleet and a deployment location for nuclear-capable Iskander missiles.
  • Ukraine received a $733m loan from Canada. Ukraine’s finance ministry said on Friday the funds would be “directed to the state budget to finance priority expenditures – in particular, to ensure priority social and humanitarian expenditures”.
  • The Biden administration’s plan to sell four large, armable drones to Ukraine has been paused over the fear its sophisticated surveillance equipment might fall into enemy hands, Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.
  • Russian media has supposedly shown images of two US citizens captured in Ukraine. On Friday, the Izvestia newspaper showed footage of what it said was an interview with Andy Huynh, 27. The Russian channel RT also posted a photo of a man it identified as Alexander Drueke, 39. Drueke’s mother, Lois Drueke, told the Guardian she believed the clip was authentic and it gave her “great hope”.
  • US Republican senators on Friday asked TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew about reports the social media site had allowed Russian state-approved media content but barred other videos. TikTok said it was looking forward to continuing to engage with members on these issues and answer their questions.
  • A group of international investigators and experts have visited war-torn areas near Kyiv, including a burnt-out school, as part of Ukraine’s ongoing investigation into alleged war crimes.

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