Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) - The number of Ukrainian refugees was expected to reach 1.5 million on Sunday as Russia continued its attack for an 11th day, and President Putin said Western sanctions were akin to a declaration of war.


* Surprisingly strong resistance continues Blasts were heard overnight in Kharkiv, the second-largest city, Ukrainian media said, while the armed forces said they were conducting defensive operations in the eastern Donetsk, Chernihiv, and elsewhere.

Ukraine, which says it has shot down 88 Russian aircraft, continues to surprise Russia with the scale and strength of its resistance, UK military intelligence said.

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* Russian credit maxes out

Visa and Mastercard, also following a request from Zelenskiy, said they were suspending operations in Russia and would work with clients and partners to cease all transactions there, the latest in a dramatic series of government sanctions and corporate punishment of Russia.


* Shuttle diplomacy Israeli Prime Minister Bennett, flying to Moscow on the Sabbath, became the first world leader to meet face to face with Putin since he launched the invasion.

He then spoke with Zelenskiy in an attempt to mediate an end to the war in coordination with the United States, France, and Germany. 

* Basketball star caught up Seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medallist Brittney Griner was detained in Moscow last month for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil, TASS news agency said. Russia said it had detained a U.S. player.

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The center's team, Phoenix Mercury did not mention the circumstances but said:

"We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home." 


*QUOTES "My heart is being torn apart," said Olha Kucher, director of the Zaporizhzhia Central Christian Orphanage after evacuating more than 200 children from the southwestern city.

Sobbing, she said, "I'm sorry . . . I simply lack words. And I feel so sorry for these children. They're so young."

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*COMING UP Putin is to meet on Sunday with Turkish President Erdogan, whose country, a NATO member, shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia.

Ukraine said the third round of ceasefire talks with Russia would go ahead on Monday; Moscow was less definitive.