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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

UKRAINE said an agreement to resume grain exports blocked by Russia appeared close as Turkey hosted four-way talks, raising hopes of an end to a standoff that has exposed millions to the risk of starvation.

Several Ukrainian cities meanwhile reported heavy Russian shelling.

ECONOMY/DIPLOMACY

* Delegations from Ukraine, Russia and Turkey met U.N. officials in Istanbul to discuss resuming exports of Ukraine grain from the Black Sea port of Odesa.

Kyiv believed a deal was “two steps away”, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was quoted as saying, though other participants seemed less optimistic and Turkey’s defence ministry gave no details of the meeting’s outcome after announcing it had ended. 

* The European Union will encourage member countries to cut gas demand by incentivising industries to use less, in a bid to prepare for possible further cuts to Russian supply, according to a draft plan seen by Reuters. 

* Kuleba ruled out ceding territory to Russia as part of any deal to end the war and said no peace talks were under way between Moscow and Kyiv. 

* G20 finance leaders will meet in Bali this week for talks on issues like global food security and soaring inflation, but there was scepticism from Germany and France over Indonesia’s hopes for common ground as tensions over Ukraine simmer.

FIGHTING

* Authorities in the eastern Donetsk region reported sustained Russian shelling.

* Russia struck 28 settlements in the Mykolaiv region bordering the Black Sea, killing at least five civilians, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

* Russia said it shot down four Ukrainian military jets, an assertion the Ukrainian air force dismissed as propaganda. 

* Reuters could not independently verify battlefield the accounts.

HUMAN IMPACT

* The United States called on Russia to immediately release Ukrainians it has forced out of their home country and allow outside observers, citing reports Moscow was putting Ukrainian children up for adoption and “disappearing” thousands of others. 

* 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 found.