Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
President Vladimir Putin signed a law to incorporate four partially occupied Ukrainian regions into Russia on Wednesday, in what Kyiv called the act of a "collective madhouse" at a time when Russia's forces have been fleeing from the front lines. NUCLEAR ANNEXATION
* Putin signed a decree ordering the Russian government to take control of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant - the biggest in Europe - and make it "federal property". * The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will visit Moscow to discuss safety at the plant, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
* Putin signed laws admitting the Donetsk People's Republic, the Luhansk People's Republic, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region into Russia in the biggest expansion of Russian territory in at least half a century. * He also said Russia would stabilise the situation in the regions, indirectly acknowledging the challenges it faces to assert its control.
NEW SANCTIONS * The European Union gave its final approval for a new batch of sanctions, the bloc's executive arm said. They include more limits on trade with Russia in steel and tech products, and an oil price cap for Russian seaborne crude deliveries through European insurers to align the EU with Washington.
BATTLEFIELD REPORTS * Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his military had taken back dozens of towns over the past week in regions in the south and east that Russia has declared annexed.
* The bodies of two Russian soldiers lay bloating in trees on opposite sides of the road, close to the blasted hulks of the cars and the van in which Ukrainian army officers said the dead men’s unit was retreating into the eastern town of Lyman. * Dozens of firefighters rushed to douse blazes in a town near Kyiv following multiple strikes caused by what local officials said were Iranian-made loitering munitions, often known as 'kamikaze drones'.
Reuters was not immediately able to verify the battlefield reports. ENERGY
* Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Russia may cut oil production to offset negative effects from price caps imposed by the West over Moscow's actions in Ukraine. * Europe may limp through the cold winter months with the help of brimming natural gas tanks despite a plunge in deliveries from Russia only to enter a deeper energy crisis next year, the head of the International Energy Agency said.
DIPLOMACY * U.S. President Joe Biden promised a new $625 million security assistance package to Ukraine, prompting a warning from Russia that the decision risked a direct military clash between it and the West.
QUOTE "They were all from big cities and looked like stereotypical nerdy IT guys," Publisher Aidar Buribayev, 44, said of the 50 young men with him on a bus from Russia to Kazakhstan, among hundreds of thousands of men who have left Russia since the invasion.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)