Ukraine morning briefing: Five developments as Russian civilian killed

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A soldier of the Kraken Ukrainian special forces unit walks past wreckage in the village of Rus'ka Lozova, north of Kharkiv - DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP
A soldier of the Kraken Ukrainian special forces unit walks past wreckage in the village of Rus'ka Lozova, north of Kharkiv - DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP

A truck driver is believed to be one of the first Russian civilians to die during the war. The man and others were injured in southwestern Russia after an attack in a village on the border with Ukraine, the governor of Kursk region said on Thursday.

"Another enemy attack on Tyotkino, which took place at dawn unfortunately ended in tragedy. At the moment, we know of at least one civilian death," governor Roman Starovoyt said on Telegram, implying that the attack came from Ukraine.

And in a sign of some sense of normal life returning to Kyiv, the US Embassy has reopened. On Wednesday night the US Senate confirmed that Bridget Brink would be the new ambassador to Ukraine. The US has not had a permanent Senate-confirmed envoy to Ukraine since 2019, when Donald Trump removed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post.

Here's what happened overnight – and you can follow the latest updates in our live blog.

1. Russians 'got off lightly' in rail explosion

Ukraine's territorial defence force has said its fighters blew up an armoured train carrying Russian troops, but an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky later said the attack had been confined to rails near the train.

The defence force's assertion, posted on Facebook, said it had carried out the attack in the occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol.

The city is in the region of Zaporizhzhia and in a belt of southern Ukrainian land occupied by Russian forces.

The defence force - the reservist branch of Ukraine's armed forces - said explosives were detonated under a rail car carrying military personnel. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage.

But several hours later, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych gave a conflicting account, saying Ukrainian forces had blown up the tracks ahead of the train.

"The partisans got it, although they did not blow up the armoured train itself," he said in a video posted on social media. He said the Russians "got off lightly".

Mr Arestovych said the incident showed that the partisan movement was actively disrupting Russian forces.

2. At least one killed as Ukraine shells village in Russia

One person died and others were injured in southwestern Russia after an attack in a village on the border with Ukraine, the governor of Kursk region said on Thursday.

"Another enemy attack on Tyotkino, which took place at dawn unfortunately ended in tragedy. At the moment, we know of at least one civilian death," governor Roman Starovoyt said on Telegram, implying that the attack came from Ukraine.

He said that according to preliminary information, the victim was a truck driver who was making a delivery to a local distillery, which was struck "several times".

Starovoyt added that others were wounded and work was underway to put out fires in the village of around 4,000 people on border with Ukraine, where Russia sent troops on February 24.

Authorities in Russian regions bordering Ukraine have repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of launching attacks.

3. Putin 'weaponising' world's food supplies

Vladimir Putin is “weaponising” global food supplies by stealing grain and destroying agricultural equipment as part of his war in Ukraine, Western officials have said.

The Kremlin is believed to be dismantling infrastructure needed for food production and blocking ports that are vital in shipping cereals out of the country, which is known as the “breadbasket of Europe”.

Officials fear Russia has embarked on a “deliberate policy” of disrupting food supplies, sparking a global crisis and raising the prospect of starvation in developing countries.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the war "threatens to tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity".

What could follow would be "malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years", Gutteres says, urging Russia to release Ukrainian grain exports.

Read the full story here.

Ukrainian biology professor Oleksiy Polyakov, 84, and his wife Galina, 81, chat as they sit in their vegetable cellar transformed into a shelter in Sydorove, eastern Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP
Ukrainian biology professor Oleksiy Polyakov, 84, and his wife Galina, 81, chat as they sit in their vegetable cellar transformed into a shelter in Sydorove, eastern Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP

4. Russians fear Mariupol abuse will backfire

The US has gathered intelligence that shows some Russian officials have become concerned its armed forces in the port city of Mariupol are carrying out grievous abuses, according to an American official familiar with the findings.

Russian officials are reportedly concerned that the abuses will further inspire Mariupol residents to resist the Russian occupation and runs counter to Russia's claim that they have liberated the Russian-speaking city.

According to the intelligence findings, the abuses include beating and electrocuting city officials and robbing homes.

5. Zelensky says Russia has already fired large chunk of arsenal

Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia has already fired more than 2,000 missiles during its attack on Ukraine, which was a large part of its arsenal.

The Ukrainian President said the majority of the missiles hit civilian infrastructure and brought no strategic military benefit. In the past day, Russian missiles hit the southern cities of Mikolaiv and Dnipro, Mr Zelensky said late on Wednesday in his nightly video address to his nation.

He noted Russia's claims on Wednesday to have deployed new laser weapons in Ukraine, saying it reflected a desire to find an alternative to its missiles.

A senior US defence official said the US had seen nothing to corroborate Russia's claims that it had used laser weapons.

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine was determined to restore its control over the southern cities of Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Enerhodar and Mariupol, now occupied by Russian troops.

"All of our cities and communities under occupation - under temporary occupation - should know that Ukraine will return," he said.

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