War in Ukraine: Latest developments

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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- US gives Ukraine $1 bn more arms -

US President Joe Biden announces a new $1 billion-worth of arms and ammunition for Ukraine after reaffirming Washington's support for Kyiv against Russia's invasion in a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The package includes more artillery, coastal anti-ship defence systems and ammunition for artillery and advanced rocket systems that Ukraine is already using, Biden says.

He made his announcement after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged allies to step up arms deliveries to Ukraine as Kyiv said it is outgunned and appealed to Western allies for greater military aid.

"We can't afford to let up and we can't lose steam. The stakes are too high. Ukraine is facing a pivotal moment on the battlefield," Austin says at a meeting in Brussels with some 50 countries backing Ukraine.

- Xi assures Russia of Chinese support -

Chinese President Xi Jinping assures his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of Beijing's support for Moscow on "sovereignty and security" during a call, according to state media.

China is "willing to continue to offer mutual support (to Russia) on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security," Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reports Xi as saying.

China has refused to condemn Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Russia by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

The Kremlin says that in the call Xi and Putin agreed to ramp up economic cooperation in the face of "unlawful" Western sanctions.

The United States expresses concern about China's alignment with Russia, warning that nations which side with Putin over his invasion of Ukraine will be "on the wrong side of history".

- Russia says Ukraine blocked evacuations-

Moscow says Ukraine on Wednesday blocked its planned civilian evacuations from a chemical plant in the war-torn eastern city of Severodonetsk.

Russia created a corridor to evacuate civilians from the Azot chemical factory, but "the Kyiv authorities cynically scuppered the humanitarian operation", the Russian defence ministry says in a statement.

About 500 civilians are holed up in the Azot chemical plant, alongside Ukrainian fighters defending one of the last pockets of resistance in the city to Russian forces.

The evacuation plan came after Russian forces destroyed the last bridge over the Donets river into Severodonetsk in a bid to encircle it.

Britain's defence ministry says in an intelligence note that the fight for the Azot plant, like the weeks-long battle for a steelworks in the port of Mariupol, will likely prevent Russia from redeploying forces from there to other battles.

- UK rocket launcher delivery soon -

Britain will soon deliver multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine in response to its request for heavy arms to repel the Russian invasion, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says.

"I think it's imminent, their delivery, and the munition has to go alongside", Wallace tells reporters in Oslo on the sidelines of a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force grouping 10 Northern European countries.

- Gazprom further cuts Nord Stream deliveries -

Russian gas giant Gazprom says it is cutting daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline by a further 33 percent, after Germany decried an earlier cut as political.

On Tuesday, Gazprom announced it would be cutting deliveries via the pipeline by around 40 percent to 100 million cubic meters per day due to "repair" work on compressor units by German company Siemens.

- Ikea scales down Russian activities -

Swedish furniture giant Ikea says it will "scale down" its activities in Russia and Belarus, after putting them on hold following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"Businesses and supply chains across the world have been heavily impacted and we do not see that it is possible to resume operations any time soon," Ingka Group, which manages the majority of Ikea's stores, says in a statement.

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