War in Ukraine: Latest developments
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- EU prepares for Russian gas cutoff -
The European Commission urges EU members to reduce demand for natural gas by 15 percent over the coming months and to give it the powers to impose gas rationing in preparation for a winter without Russian gas, or with a much reduced supply..
"Russia is using energy as a weapon and therefore, in any event, whether it's a partial major cut off of Russian gas or total cut off... Europe needs to be ready," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says.
In a draft plan seen by AFP the Commission asks member states to turn down the heating and air-conditioning in public and commercial buildings.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and the West responded with sanctions, Russia has begun reducing its gas deliveries to EU members, including Germany, and in the case of Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark, halting them altogether.
- Russia's aims go beyond Donbas: Lavrov -
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says President Vladimir Putin's designs on Ukraine go beyond the eastern Donbas region which Moscow made its focus after failing to take the capital Kyiv and second city of Kharkiv.
In an interview with Russian state media he says "it is not only about the DNR and LNR", referring to the two territories that make up the Donbas, but also about the Russian-occupied southern Kherson region, the partly-occupied southeastern Zaporizhzhia region "and a number of other territories".
He says Western arms shipments to Kyiv, including the supply of medium-range US multiple rocket launchers, had made Moscow review its aims.
Russia cannot allow Ukraine "to have weapons that will pose a direct threat to our territory" or to areas controlled by pro-Russian rebels, he argues.
- Three killed in Kharkiv -
While Russian forces advance in Donbas they have also continued bombarding Kharkiv, where three people were killed by shelling on Wednesday.
Regional governor Oleg Synegubov said the dead included a 13-year-old boy. AFP journalists see a man in shock kneeling over the body of a boy in a blue sweatshirt.
Elsewhere, two people were killed in artillery strikes on the southern city of Nikopol, near Zaporizhzhia.
- 'No sense' in peace talks: Lavrov -
In the same interview Lavrov also declares that peace talks with Ukraine make no sense "in the current situation".
He accused Kyiv of having "no desire to discuss anything in earnest."
The two sides made some headway during talks in the first month of the conflict but they stalled after the discovery of the bodies of hundreds of civilians massacred in areas that had been occupied by Russian forces.
- No Ukraine grain unless Russia cereals lifted: Putin -
Putin demands that the West first lift export bans on Russian grain before Moscow agrees to facilitate exports of Ukrainian grain stuck in that country's blockaded ports.
After talks with the presidents of Iran and Turkey in Tehran Putin declares: "We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain, but we are proceeding from the fact that all restrictions related to possible deliveries for the export of Russian grain will be lifted".
Ukrainian and Russian military delegations are expected in Istanbul this week for a second round of talks on ending the impasse.