Live Updates: Russian-Ukrainian War | PA News

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian forces have retaken 400 square kilometers (155 square miles) of territory in the southern Kherson region so far this month as they continue to push back Russian troops in the south and l east, said the military command of southern Ukraine.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian army’s Southern Operational Command, told a briefing on Thursday that the situation along the southern front was changing rapidly and remained complicated.

Ukraine has taken over 29 settlements in the oblast since Oct. 1, Oleksii Hromov, deputy head of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian Army General Staff, said in a separate briefing.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— EXPLAINER: The Russian army misfortunes rise amid attacks in Ukraine

— Russian rockets slamming in ukrainian town near the nuclear power plant

— Experts: Russia is finding new ways to spread propaganda videos

— EU agrees on Russian oil price cap on the war in Ukraine

— Belarusian Opposition hopeful in the face of Russian setbacks in Ukraine

Ukraine join World Cup host attempt to overcome the horrors of war

Follow all AP stories about the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union on Thursday froze the assets of 37 additional people and entities linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine, bringing the total of EU blacklisted targets to 1,351.

Those newly sanctioned include officials involved in last week’s illegal Russian annexation – and sham referendums – in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

The latest sanctions, published in the EU’s Official Journal, also expand trade bans against Russia and lay the groundwork for a Russian oil price cap being prepared with other G-7 members. The new trade restrictions hit about 7 billion euros ($6.9 billion) of European imports of Russian goods, including steel, plastics, textiles and non-gold jewelry.

The wider EU ban on exports to Russia covers products such as coal, electronics used in Russian weapons and aircraft components.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway said Thursday that Russian fishing vessels can only call at three Arctic ports and that all Russian vessels arriving at those ports will be checked.

Only Russian fishing boats will be allowed in three Arctic ports – Kirkenes, Tromsø and Båtsfjord.

“We now have information which indicates that it is necessary to strengthen the control of Russian fishing vessels,” Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said.

“Recent serious developments with Russia’s unacceptable annexation of Ukraine, attacks on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea and increased drone activity mean that the government has further strengthened its preparedness.

“This will make it more difficult for Russian fishing vessels to be used for illegal activities, for example by circumventing export regulations,” Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl added.

In April, the European Union, of which Norway is not a member, banned Russian ships from entering EU ports. Norway followed suit with the exception of fishing boats, which drew criticism from the Norwegian opposition.

Authorities in Norway, a major oil and gas producer, have reported several sightings of drones near offshore facilities in the North Sea.

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PRAGUE — Czech social media users have shared satirical tweets claiming that the Czech Republic has annexed the Russian territory of Kaliningrad and renamed it Královec.

It is a satire of Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories where Kremlin-installed authorities staged electoral “referendums” that Ukraine and its allies consider an illegitimate farce.

Even Slovak President Zuzana Caputova joined in the joke on Thursday, tweeting “I might consider a state visit. Or not.” Getting serious, she added, “Bravo to our #Czech friends for exposing the absurdity of #Russia’s mock referendums in #Ukraine.

An anonymous Twitter user in Poland first posted about the fake “annexation” of Kaliningrad. A Czech member of the European Parliament, Tomasz Zdechovsky, then posted about it. There has since been an explosion of jokes under the Kralovec and VisitKralovec hashtags.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday it was “difficult to say” whether the risk of nuclear war had increased with his military’s territorial gains, but he remained confident his Russian counterpart would not survive a such an escalation of hostilities.

Zelenskyy was speaking to the Lowy Institute international think tank in Sydney via video link after the Ukrainian military recaptured land illegally annexed by Russia last week. He questioned whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had enough control over the Russian countryside to lead a tactical nuclear strike.

The Russians found it “difficult to control everything that happens in their country, just like they don’t control everything they have on the battlefield,” Zelenskyy said.

Putin “understands that after the use of nuclear weapons he would no longer be able to preserve, so to speak, his life,” Zelenskyy said, “and I am convinced of that.”

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland is distributing potassium iodide tablets to regional fire stations as a preventive measure in case of damage to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Russian troops.

Stocked at some 1,500 stations across the country, the potassium iodide pills would be distributed to Poles if there was a real threat, the government said. Deputy Interior and Administration Minister Blazej Pobozy said radioactive contamination was “very unlikely”.

The factory in Zaporizhzhia, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Poland’s eastern border, is the largest in Europe. It was damaged recently during fighting with Russian forces.

In 1986, following the accident at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, many Poles took iodine solution to prevent absorption of radiation.

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WARSAW, Poland – Poland is raising its security emergency level for energy infrastructure outside Poland’s borders.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday signed the decision to raise security to the second level out of four, until November. This decision means that the security services must be particularly vigilant and ready to react to any potential terrorist threat.

Poland recently opened a new Norwegian gas pipeline, the Baltic Pipe, which runs partly over the Baltic seabed. It helps Poland reduce its decades-long dependence on Russian gas.

Last week Russian Nord Stream pipelines suffered leaks in the Baltic Sea caused by explosions, widely believed to be the result of sabotage.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The United States deployed its chief of international development to Ukraine on Thursday, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country since Russia illegally annexed the four regions.

US Agency for International Development director Samantha Power visited Kyiv and held meetings with government officials and residents. She said the United States would provide an additional $55 million to repair heating pipes and other equipment.

Among the sites she visited were a neighborhood and a school in Kyiv that had previously been hit by Russian missiles.

USAID said the United States had provided $9.89 billion in aid to Ukraine since February.

A spending bill signed by President Biden last week pledges an additional $12.3 billion in Ukraine-related aid — aimed at both military and public service needs. Power said Washington plans to release the first $4.5 billion of that funding in the coming weeks.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog is expected to travel to Kyiv this week to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Russian troops since the start of the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree declaring that Russia was taking over the six-reactor power plant, the largest in Europe.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void”. State nuclear operator Energoatom said it would continue to operate the plant.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plans to speak with Ukrainian officials about the Russian decision.

He will also discuss efforts to establish a secure protective zone around the facility, which was damaged in the fighting and saw staff, including its director, kidnapped by Russian troops.

Grossi will travel to Moscow for talks with Russian officials after his stopover in Kyiv.

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