Ukraine war briefing: Belgorod under fire after OK for strikes with US weapons | Ukraine

  • Air raids were declared in Russia’s Belgorod city on Saturday morning. It comes after the White House approved strikes using US-supplied weaponry into border areas of Russia used for attacks on Ukraine. Belgorod lies north of Kharkiv, which has been under intensified Russian attack.

  • In an interview with the Guardian, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said he still needs to be able to use “powerful” long-range weapons that could hit targets inside deep Russian territory – which the White House has refused to approve.

  • Shelling killed five people and wounded others in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Friday, the Russia-installed local regime said. Independent verification was not possible and there was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

  • Ukraine and Russia exchanged 75 prisoners of war each on Friday in the first such swap in the past three months, officials said. Ukraine also returned 212 bodies and Russia returned 45.

  • China’s government said on Friday it would be “difficult” for it to take part if Russia did not attend the Swiss peace conference on Ukraine, due to be held on 15-16 June. Russia is refusing to recognise the conference. While China says it is a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, it has been criticised for refusing to condemn the Russian invasion, and accused of supplying Russia with either weapons or the means to make them.

  • Vladimir Putin’s government on Friday labelled as “foreign agents” a women’s group campaigning for the return of mobilised men from Ukraine. The Kremlin places the same designation on Yekaterina Duntsova, who had tried to run against Putin in March’s sham presidential election.

  • Ukraine is set to receive US$2.2bn from the IMF after successfully meeting the terms of an existing loan programme, the Washington-based financial institution has said. The agreement forms part of a US$122bn international support package designed to help Ukraine’s economy.

  • The US will keep tariffs suspended on Ukrainian steel for another year, Joe Biden has announced. In 2023, Ukrainian steel accounted for less than 1% imported into the US, said the US president.

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