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Latest Developments in Ukraine: June 14

A general view of damaged buildings in the aftermath of shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the Donetsk region, in this screengrab taken from a video released June 13, 2022. (National Police of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)
A general view of damaged buildings in the aftermath of shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the Donetsk region, in this screengrab taken from a video released June 13, 2022. (National Police of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

10 p.m.: Mexico’s president slammed NATO’s policy on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Monday, calling it “immoral.”

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s did not mention NATO or the United States by name, but his comments were the latest example of his party's ambiguous stance on the invasion.

Mexico has voted to condemn the invasion but refused to join in sanctions on Russia.

López Obrador said Monday that the allies’ policy was equivalent to saying “I’ll supply the weapons, and you supply the dead. It is immoral.”

“How easy it is to say, ‘Here, I’ll send you this much money for weapons,” Lopez Obrador said. “Couldn't the war in Ukraine have been avoided? Of course, it could.”

9:25 p.m.: Ukraine's battle against Russian troops in the eastern region of the Donbas will determine the course of the war, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday, asking his nation to stay strong in the face of Moscow's devastating attack against two key cities.

Russian forces have intensified efforts to cut off Ukrainian troops remaining in the industrial hub of Sievierodonetsk, destroying all three bridges that connect it across a river to the twin city of Lysychansk.

"Unfortunately, there are painful losses. But we must stay strong. This is our nation," Zelenskyy said in a video address Tuesday evening.

"Hanging in there in Donbas is crucial. Donbas is the key to deciding who will dominate in the coming weeks," he added.

8:55 p.m.: Washington said Tuesday it will continue to allow payments to Russia for energy products through December 5, to give European countries time to prepare for a near-total oil embargo in retaliation for Moscow's war on Ukraine.

The exemption from devastating U.S. financial sanctions, which effectively severed Russia from most of the global financial system, was to expire June 24.

The renewed carve-out will "align our regulations with the implementation timing of the European Union's ban on crude oil" from Russia, a Treasury spokesperson told Agence France-Presse.

8:17 p.m.: The European Union wants to strengthen its energy cooperation with Israel, the European Commission chief said Tuesday.

Ursula von der Leyen's remarks came as Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, also visiting Israel, said Rome was seeking to boost gas supplies from Israel as EU members eye options to diminish their reliance on Russian energy.

"The Kremlin has used our dependency on Russian fossil fuels to blackmail us," von der Leyen said in a speech at Ben Gurion University in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.

Israel exports gas to Egypt, some of which is then liquefied and shipped to Europe. A significant increase in gas exports would require major long-term infrastructure investments.

In talks with Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar on Monday, von der Leyen reiterated "the EU need for Israeli gas," the minister's spokesperson said.

7:45 p.m.: WNBA star Brittney Griner will remain in Russian custody through at least July 2, Russian state-run news agency Tass reported Tuesday.

The 31-year-old American basketball player has been held in Russia since February when she was detained at a Moscow airport after authorities there claimed she was carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The U.S. Department of State last month reclassified her as wrongfully detained, according to The Associated Press.

The Khimki district court of the Moscow region extended Griner's detention for a third time, according to the Tass report, which also cited a top Russian diplomat as saying that Moscow will not consider including Griner in a detainee swap "until a court investigation into her case is completed."

7:05 p.m.: Busking for Ukraine. The money she raised will go toward first aid equipment, bulletproof vests, a drone, a portable solar power plant, stretchers, blankets and medicine, the girl's mother, Ksenya Reut, told Reuters.

6:15 p.m.: NATO must build out "even higher readiness" and strengthen its weapons capabilities along its eastern border in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the military alliance's chief said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke after informal talks at The Hague with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the leaders of Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Romania, Portugal and Belgium ahead of a wider NATO summit in Madrid at the end of the month.

"Ukraine should have more heavy weapons and NATO allies and partners have provided heavy weapons ... and they are also stepping up," Stoltenberg said, responding to a call by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"In terms of weaponry, we stand united here that it is crucial for Russia to lose the war," Dutch leader Rutte told reporters. "And as we cannot have a direct confrontation between NATO troops and Russia, what we need to do is make sure that Ukraine can fight that war, that it has access to all the necessary weaponry."

5:35 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday disclosed a Western plan to build silos on the borders of Ukraine to facilitate export of grain caught in a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.

Biden blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for high food prices in the United States and warned that the plan for new infrastructure to help get more Ukrainian wheat to world markets was "taking time."

"I'm working closely with our European partners to get 20 million tons of grain locked in Ukraine out onto the market to help bring down food prices," Biden said in a speech to a trade union convention in Philadelphia, Agence France-Presse reported.

4:55 p.m.: Ukraine has received 10% of the weapons it requested from the West to help fight off the Russian offensive, the deputy defense minister said Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

"No matter how hard Ukraine tries, no matter how professional our army is, without the help of Western partners we will not be able to win this war," Anna Malyar said in televised remarks.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again appealed for heavy weapons from the West.

"I am grateful for what is coming, but it must come faster," he told Danish journalists in an online briefing.

4 p.m.: About 5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to other parts of Europe since Russia’s assault on their homeland began in February. Among them: nearly three dozen dancers from the Kyiv City Ballet. They’ve found refuge in Paris and continue to perform and plan foreign tours, but the conflict is never far away. For VOA, Lisa Bryant has more from Paris.

Refuged in Paris, Kyiv City Ballet Dances On
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3:29 p.m.: Eight-year-old Yegor Kravtsov kept a secret diary in Mariupol as Ukrainian forces put up an increasingly desperate defense against Russian troops. He has now fled with his mother and sister to Zaporizhzhya, where his diary remains a precious if harrowing insight into life under the Russian siege. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

3:18 p.m.: Nearly two-thirds of the children in Ukraine have been uprooted during the war, according to a U.N. official who visited the country last week, The Associated Press reported. “The war in Ukraine is a child rights crisis,” Afshan Khan told a news briefing Tuesday. She’s the Europe and Central Asia director for UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

Khan said 277 children in Ukraine have been killed and another 456 injured, mostly due to explosives used in urban areas. She said the number of damaged schools is likely in the thousands, and only about 25% of schools in Ukraine are even operational.

Millions of Ukrainian women and children have fled the country since the Russian invasion in February.

3:01 p.m.: Ukrainian investigators have discovered a mass grave where bodies were found with their hands bound behind their backs and bullet holes in their heads and knees in Bucha, near Kyiv. Some 12,000 civilian killings are being investigated in Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion. Police officer Andriy Nebitov showed journalists the scene. (WARNING: Viewers may find the content of this video disturbing.)

2:49 p.m.: A top U.S. defense official Tuesday admitted Russian forces have been making “more progress in the south” of Ukraine since shift their attention to the Donbas but cautioned the against overstating the advances, VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin reported.

“The [Russian] gains are really on any given day measured in blocks," Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told a virtual forum. “They are not large, sweeping breakthroughs of Ukrainian defenses." Kahl, though, also warned Russia’s early failures have likely done little to temper what Kahl described as Russian President Vladmir Putin’s “imperial ambitions.”

"Our sense is that he has not changed his overall objectives," he said. "I still think he has designs on a significant portion of Ukraine if not the whole country." For now, the U.S. and its Western allies are focused on boosting Ukraine’s ability to punch back at Russia in what has become an artillery-heavy gunfight in eastern Ukraine.

That includes delivery of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HiMARS), with a range of about 70 kilometers, which were part of a $700 million security package announced earlier this month. Kahl said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces “are completing training as we speak,” and that the systems could be deployed to the front lines shortly.

2:44 p.m.: Experts are likening some of the trench-based warfare in Ukraine to battles fought during World War I, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.

2:23 p.m.: An array of aerial drones are playing a critical role for both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries as they fight over Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. Ukrainian forces are using commercial drones for surveillance and have destroyed several Russian tanks with Turkish-built Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles. Russia's fleet of Orlan-10 drones, meanwhile, help pinpoint artillery fire with deadly accuracy. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

2:17 p.m.: Russia for years hosted world leaders and business titans at its annual economic forum in St Petersburg, but the "Russian Davos" will see little of the global financial elite this time around with Moscow isolated by sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.

This week, to make up for the lack of attendees personifying Western economic might and stardust, Russia is giving pride of place to smaller players or countries like China — the world's second largest economy — that have not joined in sanctions.

1:51 p.m.: "Bulava" is the name of a volunteer organization created by young Ukrainians in the Washington, D.C., area after Russia invaded Ukraine. The group collects funds and basic supplies for those who need them most back home. For VOA, Maxim Moskalkov reports from Washington.

US Capital Area Volunteer Group Raises Thousands for Ukraine
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1:36 p.m.: The Kremlin says Russia would be ready to consider a UK appeal over the fate of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting for Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said neither Moscow nor the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who passed the sentence had heard from London on the issue.

“You need to apply ... to the authorities of the country whose court passed the verdict, and that is not the Russian Federation,” Peskov said. “But, of course, everything will depend on appeals from London. And I am sure that the Russian side will be ready to listen.”

Britons Aiden Aslin and Sean Pinner, and Moroccan national Brahim Saadoun, were sentenced to death last week for allegedly fighting as mercenaries for Ukraine in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic held by Russia-backed separatists. London called the proceedings “a sham.” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said earlier Tuesday that the best route to secure Aslin and Pinner’s release was “through the Ukrainians,” but added that she would do “whatever it takes.”

Separatist authorities said all three had a month to appeal their sentence. Kyiv has pledged to try to secure their release through a prisoner swap with Russia.

1:05 p.m.: The U.S. Tennis Association on Tuesday issued guidelines for players from Russia and Belarus who want to compete in the 2022 U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29.

12:36 p.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and a small group of leaders from alliance countries are meeting in the Netherlands to discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine and to prepare for a summit in Spain later this month, The Associated Press reported.

The informal gathering is being held Tuesday evening at Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence at The Hague and co-hosted by Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen. The other leaders attending were Romania’s president, and the prime ministers of Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Latvia.

Against a backdrop of war on the alliance’s eastern edge, the talks will likely also address applications by Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. Both countries applied in May to join NATO after decades of military non-alignment. That changed after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vetoed their entry until the two countries change their policies on supporting Kurdish militants deemed by Ankara to be terrorists.

12:07 p.m.:

11:58 a.m.: Russia has banned 49 British journalists and defense figures from entering Russia, saying they have distributed false information about the war in Ukraine or been responsible for arms deliveries to the country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The 29 journalists blacklisted “are involved in the deliberate dissemination of false and one-sided information" about Russia and the events in Ukraine and Donbas, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

"With their biased assessments, they also contribute to fueling Russophobia in British society," the statement said. The journalists represent major outlets, including the BBC, Sky News, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent and the Guardian. The list includes news anchors, editors, and senior managers.

11:41 a.m.: Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that if the West provides his country with long-range missiles, they will only be used against military targets and would not be used to strike inside Russia, the Kyiv Independent reported Tuesday.

11:25 a.m.: The prime ministers of NATO members Albania and Montenegro are heading for Kyiv after an invitation from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, The Associated Press reported. Albania’s Edi Rama announced the trip on social media, with a photo of him boarding a plane Tuesday accompanied by Montenegro’s Dritan Abazovic. Both Balkan countries have denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and joined the sanctions against Moscow.

11:17 a.m.: The European Union’s executive arm is expected to decide soon whether to recommend that Ukraine be granted candidate status for EU membership. The EU Commission — which must unanimously approve the recommendation — is set to debate the issue at a summit on June 23 and 24. While some EU leaders have signaled support for the move, some member states are more reluctant. VOA’s Myroslava Gongadze reports from Warsaw.

European Commission to Decide on Possible Ukraine Candidacy for EU Membership
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10:41 a.m.: The U.N. World Health Organization on Tuesday said it has developed guidelines for displaced Ukrainians to verify their vaccination records.

10:25 a.m.: Russia's war in Ukraine isn’t remotely funny. But Ukrainians are learning to laugh about the awfulness. Stand-up comics Serhiy Lipko and Anastasia Zukhvala are among those using humor as a weapon and to keep spirits up, The Associated Press reported.

10:00 a.m.: "We have enough weapons. What we don't have enough of are the weapons that really hits the range that we need to reduce the advantage of the Russian Federation's equipment," Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at an online press briefing organized by Danish publishing house Berlingske Media, according to Reuters.

9:32 a.m.: Two military couples who met during the war celebrated their wedding in Ukraine’s Donbas region, the Kyiv Independent reported.

9:24 a.m.: Graduation photos are a usually a happy reminder of one of life's biggest milestones. For a group of students in Ukraine's war-torn city of Chernihiv, their nontraditional graduation photos, with the city's destruction as a backdrop, serve as a record of lives interrupted by military conflict. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty spoke with Ukrainian photographer Stanislav Senyk about the striking images he captured.

9:13 a.m.: The Kremlin says Britain should address Ukraine’s separatist leaders regarding the two UK Nationals sentenced to death, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

9:00 a.m.: The European Commission on Tuesday published a report providing guidance to help people fleeing the war in Ukraine to access jobs, training and adult learning. “Ensuring a swift and effective integration into the labor market is important both for host communities and for those fleeing the war to rebuild their lives, continue developing their skills and, eventually, support reconstruction in Ukraine,” the report said.

8:50 a.m.: The Russian ruble hit three-week highs against the euro and U.S. dollar in volatile trading on Tuesday, continuing to climb despite recent interest rate cuts and a looming economic crisis, Reuters reported.

8:40 a.m.: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been abruptly transferred from the prison where he is serving an 11-1/2 year sentence to an undisclosed location, nearly two years since he was poisoned with what the West said was a nerve agent, Reuters reported. Navalny, by far Russia's most prominent opposition leader, casts President Vladimir Putin's Russia as a dystopian state run by thieves and criminals where wrong is cast as right and judges are in fact representatives of a doomed elite.

8:27 a.m.: The war In Ukraine is said to be causing livestock deaths In central Kazakhstan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

8:24 a.m.: Civilians may be allowed to evacuate from the besieged eastern Ukrainian town of Sievierodonetsk on Wednesday, the Kyiv Independent reported.

8:06 a.m.:

7:44 a.m.: Sievierodonetsk, the main focus of the fighting in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, isn’t yet blocked off by Russian troops even though they control about 80% of the city and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it, an official said Tuesday.

“There is still an opportunity for the evacuation of the wounded, communication with the Ukrainian military and local residents,” Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press by phone. Still, Haidai acknowledged that the mass evacuation of civilians now is “simply not possible” due to the relentless shelling and fighting in the city. Ukrainian forces have been pushed out to the industrial outskirts of the city because of “the scorched earth method and heavy artillery the Russians are using,” he said.

About 12,000 people remain in Sievierodonetsk, a city with a pre-war population of 100,000. More than 500 civilians are sheltering in the Azot chemical plant, which is also being relentlessly pounded by the Russians, according to Haidai. In all, a total of 70 civilians have been evacuated from the Luhansk region over the past 24 hours, the governor said.

7:20 a.m.:

7:16 a.m.: Ukraine says that its air defense system shot down two Russian cruise missiles targeting the Odesa region, The Associated Press reported. Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration, thanked the country’s air defense forces for striking down “two enemy” cruise missiles.

There was no independent confirmation and it was not clear if any missiles hit their targets. Reports of overnight shelling came from other Ukrainian regions as well, with five people were wounded in the Kharkiv region.

Day after day, Russia is pounding the Donbas region of Ukraine with relentless artillery and air raids, making slow but steady progress to seize the industrial heartland of its neighbor. With the conflict now in its fourth month, it’s a high-stakes campaign that could dictate the course of the entire war.

7:12 a.m.:

7:09 a.m.: Germany is struggling to find a way to wrest control of a Russian-owned refinery that supplies most of Berlin's fuel, four people close to the matter said, fearing retaliation by Moscow if the site is nationalized and as Western firms hesitate to step in. The PCK refinery in Schwedt, majority-owned by Russian oil giant Rosneft, is testing Germany's resolve to eliminate imports of oil from Russia by the end of the year under fresh European sanctions to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

7:07 a.m.:

6:52 a.m.: Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday that they had have received the bodies of 64 Azovstal defenders in yet another body swap with Russia, The Associated Press reported.

The statement by the Ministry for Reintegration of Occupied Territories said the exchange took place in the Zaporizhzhia region but didn’t clarify how many bodies were returned to Russia. It was one of the several body swaps the warring sides have conducted.

Earlier this month Moscow and Kyiv exchanged 160 bodies each. Russian officials haven’t commented on the exchanges, and there was no immediate confirmation from Moscow on the swap reported by Ukraine on Tuesday.

6:45 a.m.:

6:34 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Tuesday it was "sure" that Russian-backed separatist leaders in the Donbas would be willing to listen to an appeal from Britain over the fate of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting for Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a conference call that London had not contacted Moscow about the issue.

A court in the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine last week sentenced Britons Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner and Moroccan Brahim Saadoun to death, saying they were guilty of "mercenary activities."

6:16 a.m.:

6:09 a.m.: Four people were injured on Tuesday by shelling in a Russian town in the Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine, the regional governor said, according to Reuters. The incident occurred in the town of Klintsy, some 50 kilometres (miles) from the Ukrainian border. "A few houses were damaged and four people injured, according to preliminary information," regional governor Alexander Bogomaz wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Meanwhile, Russia struck an artillery weapons depot with Kalibr cruise missiles in Ukraine's Chernihiv region, Reuters quoted the RIA news agency as reporting on Tuesday, citing the Russian defense ministry. Russian air defense forces shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet and an Mi-24 helicopter, the TASS news agency reported, citing the ministry.

6:01 a.m.:

5:55 a.m.: Agence France-Presse shared the latest map of Ukraine’s battleground status as of June 14.

5:45 a.m.: Ukraine’s military said in an update about the conflict that Russian forces were “trying to gain a foothold in the central part of the city.”

Sievierodonetsk Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said that despite the Russian attempt to storm the city, the Ukrainian military “is holding firm.”

5:35 a.m.: The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Russia’s legislation on “foreign agents” violated the rights of the groups designated as such and ordered Russia to pay many of them compensation, Reuters reported.

In its ruling in the case of seventy-three Russian groups designated as “foreign agents,” Europe’s top human rights court said the law violated freedom of assembly and association.

The court said the use of “political activity” as a criterion to designate groups as “foreign agents” “produced incoherent results and engendered uncertainty among NGOs wishing to engage in civil society activities relating to, in particular, human rights or the protection of the environment or charity work.”

Russian human rights groups Agora, one of the applicants in ECHR case, hailed the ruling as a “big victory.”

Russia adopted its first law on “foreign agents” in 2012. It has since been expanded to include non-profit organizations, media outlets and individual Russian citizens including journalists and activists.

4:30 a.m.: Regional governor Serhiy Haidai said Monday on Telegram that Russian troops controlled about 70% of the Sievierodonetsk, and that the city’s Azot chemical plant was being “heavily shelled.”

Haidai said about 500 civilians remained on the grounds of the plant and that Ukraine’s military was trying to get them to safety.

3:35 a.m.: British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday she would do whatever was necessary to secure the release two British nationals who have been sentenced to death by Russian proxy authorities in Donbas, Reuters reported.

Asked whether she was prepared to negotiate directly with the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Truss told BBC Radio: “I will do whatever is necessary to secure their release.”

“I have assured the families that I will do what is most effective to secure their release and I am not going to go into our strategy live on air ... The best route is through the Ukrainians.”

2:30 a.m.: Agence France-Presse shares aerial images of Ukraine’s destroyed Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

2:15 a.m.: The U.K.’s ministry of defense said Tuesday “Russia’s operational main effort remains the assault against the Sievierodonetsk pocket in the Donbas” in its daily battleground report. The report said Russia’s troops and mainly its Western Group of forces “have likely made small advances in the Kharkiv sector for the first time in several weeks.”

The report also predicted that Russia would increase its state defense spending, however, that its defense “industry could struggle to meet many of these requirements, partially due to the effects of sanctions and lack of expertise.”

2:05 a.m.: Pope Francis refused the distinction between “good and bad” in the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing La Stampa, a daily Italian newspaper. The Pope was having a conversation with editors of Jesuit European cultural magazines, the report added.

Asked if he was in favor of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the Pope answered: “No, I am not, I am simply opposed to reducing complexity to distinction between good and bad.”

Pope Francis hopes to meet Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in September in Kazakhstan, he added.

1:00 a.m.: Australian farmers’ confidence fell in the latest quarter, as rising production costs took some shine off high commodity prices and prospects of a bumper harvest, a survey showed on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Although the war in Ukraine is driving up farms’ selling prices, especially for grains, those rises are needed to offset higher input costs, according to Rabobank, which conducted the survey. The study found that about 50% of Australian farmers believed the war in Ukraine would hurt farm businesses. Only 28% expected business conditions to improve in the next 12 months, compared with 31% in the previous quarter.

Overall, farmers expected their incomes to be stable for the coming 12 months.

12:01 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the battle for the Donbas region “will surely go down in military history as one of the most violent battles in Europe … for us, the price of this battle is very high. It is just scary,” Zelenskyy said late Monday.

He added a repeated call for partner countries to send Ukraine modern artillery to use against Russian forces.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.