Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin told his armed forces on Monday they were fighting for their country at a parade of Russian firepower in Moscow, while his troops stepped up their 10-week-old assault on Ukraine.

VICTORY DAY

* Putin evoked the memory of Soviet heroism in World War Two to inspire his army fighting in Ukraine, but offered no new road map to victory and acknowledged the cost in Russian soldiers' lives.

* Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his statement to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, said of his country's war with Russia: "The road to [victory] is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win."

* Britain's defence minister Ben Wallace said Putin and his generals were "mirroring fascism and tyranny of 77 years ago" in their invasion of Ukraine. He dismissed Moscow's talk of Western plans to attack Russia as "fairytale claims".

FIGHTING

* Ukraine's defence ministry said Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery were conducting "storming operations" on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where the city's last defenders are holed up. It gave no details of the assault.

* Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said the danger of missile strikes persisted throughout the country, with the greatest challenges being faced in the south and east of the country. The situation in the east is "difficult", she added.

* The governor of Mykolaiv in southwest Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, said his region saw "more (missile) strikes than usual" overnight, adding that an unspecified number of people had been killed and wounded.

DIPLOMACY AND SANCTIONS

* Ukraine alone can define the conditions for any negotiations with Russia, said French President Emmanuel Macron, adding it was Europe's "duty" to stand by Kyiv.

* China's President Xi Jinping told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that all efforts must be made to prevent the Ukraine conflict turning into an "unmanageable situation", Chinese state radio reported.

* EU governments moved closer to agreeing tough sanctions against Russia that include a ban on buying its oil, but scheduled more talks for Monday to work out how to ensure countries most dependent on Russian energy can cope.

QUOTES

"There's lots of people still in Mariupol who want to leave but can't," said history teacher Viktoria Andreyeva, 46, after reaching the relative safety of Zaporizhzhia, adding: "The air feels different here, free."

(Compiled by Gareth Jones)

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