Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now
* Russia's state RIA news agency reported that shelling by Ukrainian forces has trapped 77 miners in a coal mine in a separatist-controlled part of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine after power to the mine was cut off.
As war rages in the east, Ukraine got a major boost on Friday when the EU recommended it become a candidate to join the bloc, a potentially dramatic geopolitical shift in the wake of Russia's invasion. FIGHTING * Russia has probably renewed its efforts to advance south of Ukraine's eastern city of Izium in the last 48 hours, Britain's defence ministry said. Its goal is to penetrate deeper into the Donetsk region and envelope the pocket around the embattled city of Sievierodonetsk from the north, the ministry said on Twitter. * Russia's state RIA news agency reported that shelling by Ukrainian forces has trapped 77 miners in a coal mine in a separatist-controlled part of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine after power to the mine was cut off. Reuters could not immediately verify the report and there was no immediate reaction from Kyiv. * Russia heavily shelled the eastern city of Lysychansk, killing many, and a key highway out was impassable, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Friday. * Russian media broadcast on Friday what it said were images of two U.S. citizens captured while fighting for Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden said he had been briefed about the missing Americans but was unaware of their whereabouts. * Ukraine said on Friday its forces hit a Russian naval tugboat with two Harpoon missiles in the Black Sea, the first time it has claimed to have struck a Russian vessel with Western-supplied anti-ship weapons.
DIPLOMACY * British Prime Minister Johnson offered military training for Ukrainian forces as he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Friday on his second visit of the war. * Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of colonial arrogance and trying to crush his country with "stupid" sanctions that amounted to an economic "blitzkrieg". But he played down Ukraine's possible EU entry. * A U.S. plan to sell four large, armable drones to Ukraine has been paused for fear its sophisticated surveillance equipment might fall into enemy hands, two sources told Reuters. ECONOMY * Russia's 2022 coal production could fall 17% to 365.1 million tonnes and exports could decrease 30% to 156 million tonnes, the Russian news agency Interfax reported, citing the energy ministry. * Lithuania has told Russia's Kaliningrad region it will block the import and export of a large number of goods by rail because of Western sanctions, the regional governor said on Friday.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)