Russia attacks Ukraine: Latest news on the crisis

The latest updates on the war in Ukraine:

LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces have freed the mayor of the Ukrainian town of Melitopol in exchange for nine of their captured conscripts, an official with Ukraine’s presidential office said Wednesday.

kyiv accused the Russians of kidnapping Mayor Ivan Fedorov about a week ago. Surveillance video showed him walking out of city hall, apparently surrounded by Russian soldiers.

Residents of Melitopol, a southeastern town currently under Russian control, demonstrated to demand his release.

Daria Zarivna, spokeswoman for the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said Wednesday that Fedorov had been released from captivity and that Russia “has nine of its captive soldiers, born in 2002-2003, practically children, conscripts. The Russian Ministry of Defense said they were not there.”

Moscow initially denied sending conscripts to fight in Ukraine, but later the Russian military admitted that some conscripts had been involved in the offensive and had even been captured by Ukrainian forces.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russian attacks thrash Ukraine as Putin warns of ‘traitors’

— The war is draining the life of desperate Mariupol, one explosion at a time

— Berlin train station turns into a city of refugees for Ukrainians fleeing war

– Biden categorically calls Putin a war criminal, but investigations to determine this are just beginning

— Different styles, missions displayed in the speeches of Biden and Zelensky

– Zelensky unites Republicans and Democrats 2 years after participating in divisive US impeachment

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WHAT HAPPENS TODAY:

UNITED NATIONS – The UN Security Council will meet on Thursday at the request of six Western countries who wanted a public session on Ukraine before an expected vote on a Russian humanitarian resolution they have strongly criticized for failing to do so. mention of Moscow’s war against its smaller neighbour.

“Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians. Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine is a threat to all of us,” tweeted the UN mission from the UK, one of six countries that requested the meeting.

Russia on Tuesday circulated a draft Security Council resolution that would demand the protection of civilians “in vulnerable situations” in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country, but without mentioning the war or the parties concerned.

The resolution is expected to be voted on by council on Friday.

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LVIV, Ukraine – The Ukrainian and Russian delegations spoke again on Wednesday via video.

Adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mikhailo Podolyak, said Ukraine had demanded a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and guarantees of legal certainty for Ukraine from a number of country.

“This is only possible through direct dialogue” between Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said on Twitter.

An official in Zelensky’s office told The Associated Press that the main topic of discussion was whether Russian troops would remain in the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine after the war and where the borders would be.

Just before the war, Russia recognized the independence of two regions controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. It also extended the borders of these regions to areas that Ukraine continued to hold, including Mariupol, a port city now under siege.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks, said Ukraine insisted on including one or more Western nuclear powers in the negotiations and on signing a legally binding document. binding with security guarantees for Ukraine. In exchange, the official said, Ukraine was ready to discuss a neutral status.

Russia demanded that NATO pledge never to admit Ukraine into the alliance or station forces there.

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Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Lviv contributed to this report.

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PANAMA CITY — Three Panamanian-flagged ships were hit by Russian missiles in the Black Sea during Russia’s war in Ukraine and one sank, Panamanian authorities said Wednesday.

The ships’ crews “are safe”, said the director of the Maritime Authority, Noriel Araúz.

The ship that sank was the Helt, but Araúz did not specify when it happened. Others affected were the Lord Nelson and the Namura Queen. Panamanian officials previously said the Namura Queen, owned by a Japanese company and operated by a company in the Philippines, was hit in February.

Araúz said 10 Panamanian-flagged ships were in the Black Sea, including the three hit. Together they have around 150 crew members of various nationalities who have not been allowed to leave, he said.

“We are in constant communication with the ships…because we know the Russian Navy won’t let them leave the Black Sea,” Araúz said.

Panama is the world leader in registered merchant vessels and has advised its merchant fleet to be on high alert in Ukrainian and Russian waters.

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