Ukraine updates: Russia presses offensive in east, military says


What’s happening in Ukraine today and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


The General Staff of the Ukrainian military said Thursday that the Russian forces have continued attempts to press their offensive in several sections of the frontline in the east and also launched missile and air strikes at infrastructure facilities across the country.


Rodion Miroshnik, a representative of the separatist Luhansk region in Russia, said that about 8,000 Ukrainian soldiers are currently in captivity in the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions and their number is growing daily by “hundreds.”


His claims couldn’t be independently verified.


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LONDON — Britain’s military says Russia has suffered substantial losses among its elite units because of “complacency” among commanders and failure to anticipate strong Ukrainian resistance.


The U.K. Ministry of Defence says the airbone VDV has been involved in “several notable tactical failures” since the Feb. 24 invasion, including the attempt to capture and hold Hostomel Airfield near Kyiv early in the war and failed attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine.


In its daily intelligence update, the defence ministry said the VDV had been sent on missions “better suited to heavier armoured infantry and has sustained heavy casualties during the campaign. Its mixed performance likely reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia’s failure to secure air superiority.”


It said “the failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia’s more elite units.”


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MOSCOW — The Russian Central Bank has cut its key interest rate to 11% from 14%, citing a slowdown in inflation.


It is the third three-point cut since the Central Bank hiked the rate to 20% in late February after Russian forces entered Ukraine. It said inflation had been at 17.8% in April, but slowed slightly to 17.5% as of an estimate May 20.


“External conditions for the Russian economy are still challenging, considerably constraining economic activity,” the Central Bank said in a statement. “Financial stability risks decreased somewhat, enabling a relaxation of some capital control measures.”


The Central Bank’s next meeting to review the rate is June 10.


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The Russian Defence Ministry is promising to open a safe corridor to allow foreign ships to leave Black Sea ports. A separate corridor will be open to allow ships to leave Mariupol by sailing from the port on the Sea of Azov port to the Black Sea.


Mikhail Mizintsev, who heads the National Defence Control Center under the General Staff, said 70 foreign vessels from 16 countries are now in six ports on the Black Sea including Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv.


Mizintsev, whose comments at a briefing in Moscow on Wednesday were reported by the Interfax news agency, said the corridors would be open every day.


Earlier Wednesday, the Russia military said Mariupol’s port was functioning again after three months of fighting. The Defence Ministry spokesman said the military first had to clear the port of mines.


The Russian military, which maintains a naval fleet in the Black Sea, has effectively blocked commercial shipping at Ukrainian ports.


The blockade has endangered the world food supply by preventing Ukraine from shipping its agricultural products. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil.


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UNITED NATIONS — The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday that it has been able to give answers to 300 families in Russia and Ukraine about the fate of their loved ones.


ICRC Director-General Robert Mardini told reporters that the organization’s work trying to clarify the fate of missing persons “is very much on track.” He did not disclose the fate of the 300 Russians and Ukrainians, saying only that their families had provided “very concrete questions about their loved ones.”


Mardini said some progress has also been made on the right of the ICRC to visit prisoners of war, which is part of the Geneva conventions.


“There is agreement on both sides” on this right, “which is good news,” Mardini said, but the major obstacle in the ICRC carrying out visits is the war itself and the logistical constraints.


Mardini said the ICRC registered all the Ukrainian fighters that held out until last week at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol before they were taken to Russian-controlled territory. Russia said there were 2,439 Ukrainian fighters.


“Registering prisoners of war or detainees amounts to nothing short of a life insurance,” Mardini said.


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