Ukraine war: Latest developments you need to know

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Ukraine war: Latest developments you need to know
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Russian missile strike on Kramatorsk city centre

Russian missiles rained down on the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday, its regional governor said.

At least one person was killed when a five-story residential building was hit in an attack, which caused loud explosions and fire in the civilian area, claimed Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region.

“There was no one here. Everything is ruined,” the resident of one burned apartment, Halyna Maydannyk, told reporters. “Who knows why they’re doing this? We were all living peacefully.”

The strike happened around midday according to Kyrylenko, who earlier on Tuesday reported four other Russian strikes in Kramatorsk and urged civilians to evacuate from the city.

Ukrainian officials have said they expect Kramatorsk, populated by more than 150,000 people before the Russian invasion in February, to become one of the main focuses of Russia's offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Russia has previously denied targetting civilians and has not commented on the situation in Kramatorsk.

Since its failed attempt to seize the Ukrainian capital Kyiv at the beginning of the invasion, Russia has changed its military tactics and is now using devastating, grinding bombardments to capture territory in Ukraine's south and east.

Ukraine claims that more civilians have died because long-range attacks on targets far away from Russian forces have intensified, yet Moscow maintains it is only hitting military targets, not civilians.

Putin says Ukraine grain talks are progressing thanks to Turkey

Russian president Vladimir Putin thanked Turkey's president on Tuesday for assisting talks on grain exports from Ukraine, saying there had been progress.

"I want to thank you for your mediation efforts ... regarding food production [and] grain export issues via the Black Sea," Putin told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Tehran, according to comments released by the Kremlin.

"With your mediation, we have moved forward," Putin said. "Not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is movement is already good."

Russia's invasion has drastically reduced shipments of grain and wheat from Ukraine, one of the world's biggest exporters of the essential foodstuffs, sparking fears of global food shortages.

Putin arrived in Tehran for talks earlier today, which were ostensibly about the Syrian war, although the three-way summit was overshadowed by issues surrounding Moscow's military offensive in Ukraine.

He also held talks with Iran's ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi and thanked "our friends" in Tehran for their hospitality.

This visit to the Iranian capital marks only the second time Putin has made an international visit since ordering the offensive in Ukraine on February 24.

After the West imposed unprecedented sanctions against Moscow due to its Ukraine invasion, Putin has sought to pivot Russia towards the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

$100 reward offered for Russian collaborators in Ukraine

A southern region of Ukraine has announced a scheme to give those who help identify Russian collaborators $100 (€97).

The governor of the Mykolaiv region, which is under constant bombardment, announced the bonus in a Telegram post on Tuesday.

Governor Vitali Kim invited people to tell authorities about "those who reveal to the occupiers [Russian forces] the places of deployment of Ukrainian troops" or help them to establish potential bombing targets.

“After careful verification and confirmation of the information provided, you will receive a bonus of 100 dollars,” he wrote.

The governor also said he planned to "close" the city of Mykolaiv for a few days in order to neutralise "traitors" and those assisting Russian troops.

"We want to put an end to it. We are considering curfew measures. We have a large database. We will close the city for a few days, we will go and knock on the door of the wrong people," he told the Ukrainian media.

These measures come off the back of president Volodymyr Zelenskyy's dismissal of Ukraine's top spy chief and the general prosecutor, after he accused them of not doing enough to tackle Russian espionage.

In his speech announcing the firings, Zelenskyy said more than 650 cases of alleged "high treason" and "collaboration" with Moscow had been opened against Ukrainian officials in the country.

US steps up sanctions to free captives, after high-profile Russia detention

Joe Biden passed sanctions on Tuesday against states that unjustly imprison US citizens, following a series of detentions in Russia that have caught the media's attention.

The US president's move follows the high-profile detention by the Russian government of basketball superstar Brittney Griner, whose partner has claimed Biden is not putting enough effort in to make her free.

Biden's executive order allows US state agencies to slap financial sanctions or travel bans on foreign officials or non-state actors implicated in the unjust and politically-motivated detentions of US citizens.

“Using sanctions does not always get someone released, so we will be judicious and strategic in our use of that authority,” a US official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

“But it is the families of those detained who know the case of their loved ones best, and we intend to hear from them, hear their good ideas and listen to their recommendations,” they said.

Successive US administrations have made the fate of prisoners and hostages a top priority of theirs.

Despite rising tensions over the war in Ukraine, the Biden administration negotiated with Russia to swap Trevor Reed, an ex-Marine jailed for allegedly attacking police while drunk, for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking in April.

North Koreans could help rebuild occupied Ukraine, says Russian diplomat

Russia's ambassador to Pyongyang has said that North Korean labour could be sent to repair Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine.

According to NK News, a South Korean news outlet, Alexander Matsegora said North Korean workers could help rebuild war-damaged areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

Matsegora said there were “a lot of opportunities” for economic cooperation between North Korea and the self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's east that are ruled by pro-Moscow forces.

Pyongyang officially recognised these territories earlier in the week, although it is one of the only countries in the world to do so. This move provoked the ire of Ukraine, which cut off diplomatic ties with North Korea as a result.

“Highly qualified and hard-working Korean builders, who are capable of working in the most difficult conditions, could help us restore our social, infrastructure and industrial facilities," Matsegora said to the Russian newspaper Izvestia in an interview.

Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia’s appeal to North Korea showed that Moscow had “no more allies in the world, except for countries that depend on it financially and politically.”

The international sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme would be undermined if North Korean labour were to be used in Ukraine.

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