Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 163 of the invasion

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<span>Photograph: EPA</span>
Photograph: EPA
  • Three ships carrying almost 60,000 tonnes of grain between them have departed Ukrainian Black Sea ports and are on their way to Britain, Ireland and Turkey respectively. Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, said he plans “to ensure ports have the ability to handle more than 100 vessels per month”.

  • Russia says it is ready to talk about a prisoner swap with the US following Wednesday’s nine-year jail sentence for US basketball player Brittney Griner. However, the Kremlin says any such negotiations should not be played out publicly.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has criticised a report by Amnesty International – which suggested Ukrainian forces’ tactics are endangering civilians by using some schools and hospitals as bases. Zelenskiy said the report “cannot be tolerated” as there “cannot be any condition under which any Russian attack on Ukraine becomes justified”.

  • The UK’s Ministry of Defence has raised concerns about the “security and safety” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control. It says Russia has “used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river”.

  • Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdoğan are due to meet in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Talks between the presidents of Russia and Turkey are expected to focus on Syria, Ukraine and the Russian construction of a nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.

  • Canada is sending up to 225 Canadian armed forces to the UK to recommence the training of Ukrainian military recruits, the Canadian defence minister has announced. Since 2015, Canada has trained 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel but in February paused aspects of the training.

  • A US official has accused Moscow of preparing to plant fake evidence to make it look like the recent mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners in an attack on a Russian-controlled prison was caused by Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the prison in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka, in eastern Ukraine, last week.

  • Ukraine has ceded some territory in the Donbas region to Russian forces, with Kyiv acknowledging Russia’s “partial success” in recent days. Zelenskiy has described the pressure his forces are under in the east of the country as “hell”. They have recaptured two villages near the city of Sloviansk, according to Ukrainian general Oleksiy Hromov, but have been forced to abandon a coal mine regarded as a key defensive position as forces are pushed to the outskirts of Avdiivka.

  • Russia may launch an offensive in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson to try to wrest back momentum from Kyiv and has been visibly building up forces, Hromov said on Thursday. Much of the region is already occupied by Russia after it captured areas at the beginning of its invasion, but Ukrainian forces have been developing a counter-offensive to regain territory.

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