For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
11:30 p.m.: Russian missile strikes in Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv killed at least five people, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday.
The attacks were part of a series of artillery and missile barrages across the country in the past day that left at least 10 dead and dozens wounded in eastern and southern regions, The Associated Press reported.
While Mykolaiv has repeatedly been the target of Russian fire in recent days, Russian missiles also struck the city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, an attack that could signal Moscow's determination to hold onto territory in Ukraine's south as it aims to fully conquer the east. Ukrainian forces have stepped up actions in a bid to reclaim more territory in the south.
10:30 p.m.: European Union member Lithuania will adhere to the EU executive's advice that sanctioned Russian goods can transit to the Kaliningrad exclave, its Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The European Commission made the announcement earlier on Wednesday, after weeks of tensions between Moscow, Lithuania and the European Union that tested Europe's resolve to enforce sanctions on Russia.
Kaliningrad, which is bordered by EU states and relies on railways and roads through Lithuania for most goods, has been cut off from some freight transport from mainland Russia since June 17 under sanctions imposed by Brussels.
7:59 p.m.: Russian energy company Gazprom appeared to cast doubt on the prospects of quickly restoring the flow of natural gas to full capacity through a major pipeline to Western Europe, The Associated Press reported.
Gazprom tweeted Wednesday that it "does not possess any documents that would enable Siemens to get the gas turbine engine ... out of Canada." It added that "in these circumstances, it appears impossible to reach an objective conclusion on further developments regarding the safe operation" of a compressor station at the Russian end of the pipeline, which it said is "of critical importance."
Siemens Energy had no comment on Gazprom's statement. The company previously has said that it wants to get the turbine to its location as quickly as possible and is working on the necessary permits and logistics.
6:40 p.m.: Several Ukrainian cities meanwhile reported heavy Russian shelling, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was downbeat on prospects for peace, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian officials said there had been sustained Russian shelling across Donetsk province, which Moscow aims to capture to complete its seizure of the industrialized Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Much of the region was controlled by separatists — labeled Russian puppets by Kyiv — before the war.
A separatist official said Russian and separatist forces had entered the outskirts of the town of Siversk in Donetsk province and could take it in a couple of days, according to Russian state news agency TASS. There was no immediate comment from the Ukrainian side.
Russia also struck 28 settlements in the Mykolaiv region bordering the Black Sea, killing at least five civilians, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office.
5:30 p.m.: The daily update from the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom.
4:51 p.m.: A court in Russia ruled Wednesday to remand a prominent opposition politician in custody pending an investigation and trial over his public criticism of Russia's military actions in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
Ilya Yashin is one of the few opposition figures that haven't left Russia despite the unprecedented pressure the authorities have mounted on dissent. He has been charged with spreading false information about the Russian military — a new criminal offense for which he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Yashin, 39, rose to prominence in 2000s as an opposition activist and ally of the slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. In 2017, he was elected chair of a Moscow municipal council.
The charges against Yashin were reportedly brought over a YouTube livestream video in which he talked about Ukrainians being killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
3:52 p.m.: Earlier this week, The Institute for the Study of War said Russia appeared to be using “heavy artillery fire in critical areas to set conditions for future ground advances.”
3:05 p.m.: A looming economic downturn in Russia will not be as deep as initially thought but could last longer, central bank analysts said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The economy is set to contract after Moscow began what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24, which triggered sweeping sanctions against Russia, including a partial freeze of its reserves.
In their latest review, they added that the most important and complex midterm task was to replace lost foreign investment.
2 p.m.: Ukraine severed relations with North Korea on Wednesday over Pyongyang's recognition of two breakaway self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's east.
"We consider this decision as an attempt by Pyongyang to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
12:58 p.m.: Ukraine said Wednesday that a deal appears close to resume grain exports from Black Sea ports that have been blocked for months by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, without elaborating, said a deal was “two steps away” before talks about the exports began in Istanbul with officials from Russia, the United Nations and Turkey.
After the meeting ended, the United Nations said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will speak on “developments in Istanbul” later Wednesday. The talks did not appear to be aimed at brokering a peace settlement in the war.
More than 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain are being stored in silos at the Black Sea port of Odesa and dozens of ships have been stranded due to Russia's blockade. Turkey said it has 20 merchant ships waiting in the region that could be quickly loaded and dispatched to world markets.
10:37 a.m.: As battles raged in the east and south of Ukraine, the war-torn country’s foreign minister ruled out ceding any territory to Russia should peace talks ever resume and he made clear that no such negotiations were taking place, RFE/RL reported.
"The objective of Ukraine in this war...is to liberate our territories, to restore our territorial integrity and full sovereignty in the east and south of Ukraine," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a briefing on Wednesday.
"This is the end point of our negotiating position."
Russia has taken control of wide swathes of Ukrainian territory in the south along the Black Sea coast and in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk provinces that make up the Donbas region.
Blinken said in a statement Wednesday that reports indicated Moscow was "deliberately separating Ukrainian children from their parents and abducting others from orphanages before putting them up for adoption inside Russia," and also "detaining or disappearing thousands of Ukrainian civilians who do not pass 'filtration.'"
8:34 a.m.: An “absolute majority” of Ukrainian police officers who were working in the parts of eastern and southern Ukraine that are now under occupation by Russian forces have moved to Kyiv-controlled territory, the country’s interior minister told Current Time, a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy said Ukraine had been able to avoid a repeat of events of 2014, when many police officers joined Moscow-backed separatist groups.
“The biggest danger for us…was a repetition of what happened eight years ago,” said Monastyrskiy, who was in the Czech capital, Prague, for a meeting of European Union interior ministers. “At that time, the police just abandoned their posts and whole regional units went over to the side of the enemy. Moreover, they surrendered personal data, showed how to find activists, and joined the ranks of the pseudo-police. A repeat of this scenario was unacceptable.”
Monastyrskiy added that “not a single database” controlled by the Interior Ministry had fallen into Russian hands.
7:29 a.m.: U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says Russian President Vladimir Putin's attempts to deepen ties with Iran amid the Ukraine conflict represents a "profound threat,” Reuters reported.
Sullivan's comments Wednesday come as U.S officials have warned that Iran is preparing to help supply Russia several hundred drones, including some that are weapons-capable, to use in Ukraine. Putin is expected to visit Tehran next week.
Sullivan called the timing of the Putin trip "interesting."
5:35 a.m.: Around two-thirds of refugees from Ukraine expect to stay in their host countries until hostilities subside and the security situation improves after Russia’s invasion, a survey by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has found.
Reuters reported that most of the refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children, hope to return home eventually, according to the survey of around 4,900 people from Ukraine now living in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. The survey was conducted between mid-May and mid-June.
UNHCR said smore than 5.6 million refugees are now recorded across Europe, with nearly 8.8 million people crossing out of Ukraine and nearly 3.3 million crossing back in since the Russian invasion on February 24.
“They are anxious to reunite with friends and family and worry about those who stayed behind. Most want to wait until hostilities have subsided,” the report released on Wednesday said. Of those seeking to return, 40% planned to do so in the next month, said UNHCR, adding that a higher proportion of refugees from the capital Kyiv and areas in the west were planning to return than those who arrived from the east and north.
5:15 a.m.: Ukraine is “two steps away” from hammering out a deal with Russia on exporting Ukrainian grain to the international markets, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Spanish newspaper El Pais before multilateral talks on the issue in Istanbul, according to Reuters.
Turkey has been working with the United Nations to broker a deal after Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine fueled a surge in prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizers and leading to a global food crisis.
The El Pai reported Kuleba as saying, “we are ready to export grain to the international market ... We are two steps away from a deal with Russia. The security concerns, linked to Russia's position, need to be addressed. We are in the final phase and now everything depends on Russia.”
4 a.m.: Lithuanian power grid operator Litgrid’s CEO Rokas Masiulis said Wednesday his country is pushing to decouple the Baltic States from the Russian power grid already in early 2024 compared to a previous plan for end-2025, Reuters reported.
Masiulis said discussions with Estonia and Latvia on the matter had started, and that the European Commission was also involved.
3 a.m.: Officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations are due to meet Wednesday in Istanbul in an effort to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hindered Ukrainian exports, helping push up global prices on grain, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer. Turkey and the United Nations have been working to broker a deal to alleviate the crisis.
Russia has expressed concerns about ships being used to bring weapons into Ukraine and called for ships to be searched. Ukraine has said an agreement cannot threaten the security of its territory along the Black Sea.
2:30 a.m.: Russia’s foreign ministry said it will consider continuing to send gas to Europe via Ukraine beyond its current deal which ends in 2024, as long as European countries still want Russian gas and Ukraine’s national transit system works, Reuters reported Wednesday citing the RIA Novosti news agency.
Despite the war in Ukraine, Russia has continued to ship large quantities of gas across Ukraine into Europe — Moscow’s key global customer for its multi-billion-dollar gas exports.
2:10 a.m.: Britain’s defense ministry said Wednesday it expects Russian forces to focus on taking small towns near the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk as it tries to take control of the eastern Donbas region.
“The urban areas of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk likely remain the principal objectives for this phase of the operation,” the ministry said.
1:10 a.m.: Germany will completely stop buying Russian coal on August 1 and Russian oil on December 31, marking a major shift in the source of the country’s energy supply, deputy finance minister Joerg Kukies said at a conference in Sydney.
The key challenge ahead will be filling the huge gap that will be left when the European Union weans itself off the 158 billion cubic meters per year of gas that Russia supplies, Kukies said.
Germany is rapidly developing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, import terminals to help fill the gas supply gap, but he highlighted that while the United States and Qatar could together supply around 30 billion cubic meters of gas in LNG form to Europe, that still left a huge gap.
12:01 p.m.: Lithuania expanded trade restriction on passing through its territory to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, affecting about 15% of the cargo from Russia to Kaliningrad.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.