Three killed in Russian strikes on Volyn; Russia raises interest rates to 12%

Three people were killed, several people were wounded and buildings were damaged in a large-scale air-attack on Ukraine’s western region of Lviv and the north-western region of Volyn. “Many missiles were shot down, but there were also hits in Lviv,” city mayor Andriy Sadovyi said, adding that orders were given to evacuate at least one burning apartment building. The barrage came just hours before top Russian military officials and their counterparts from allied countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa gathered outside Moscow for a security conference.

The Bank of Russia raised its key rate to 12% from 8.5%. The statement announcing the increase did not mention the rouble, which dropped to its lowest level in nearly 17 months on Monday. The Russian currency was boosted by the central bank’s move.

Russia fined social media site Reddit for the first time for not deleting “banned content” that it said contained “fake” information about Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, RIA reported, citing a Moscow court. Reddit joins a list of sites under scrutiny in Russia for failing to remove content that Moscow deems illegal, including Wikimedia, streaming service Twitch, and Google.

Three Bulgarian nationals suspected of spying for Russia while living in the UK have been arrested and charged, police have said. The defendants were among five people detained in February after a long-running counter-terrorism investigation. Three of those were then charged with possession of false identity documents, according to the Metropolitan police, which is responsible for espionage cases.

Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the president of Ukraine, said Russian athletes should be banned from participating in international competitions after Russian strikes destroyed a sports facility in Dnipro. Kira Rudik, a Ukrainian MP and the leader of the liberal Golos party, also said Ukraine will boycott the Olympic Games if Russia and Belarus participate in the competition.

Mali’s military leader Assimi Goita said on Tuesday that he had spoken on the phone to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, about the coup in Niger. Putin “stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the situation for a more stable Sahel,” Mali’s interim president, Assimi Goita, said on Twitter. The Kremlin said the call was initiated by Mali. The statement added: “The parties specifically focused on the current situation in the Sahara-Sahel region and emphasised, in particular, the importance of settling the situation in the Republic of Niger solely through peaceful political and diplomatic means.”

The US said that Russia would be violating UN resolutions if it reaches an arms deal with North Korea, after the two countries’ leaders called for greater cooperation. State department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters: “Any kind of security cooperation or arms deal between North Korea and Russia would certainly violate a series of UN security council resolutions.”

Sweden’s government said Tuesday that it would donate to Ukraine ammunition and spare parts for previously donated weapon systems worth over $300m (£240m). Speaking at press conference, defence minister Pal Jonson said the military aid package, Sweden’s 13th to Ukraine, would include ammunition and spare parts valued at about 3.4bn kronor ($313m/£250m).

The Ukrainian government is to build new fortifications and military infrastructure in northeast regions that border Russia and Belarus at a cost of nearly $35m, prime minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday.

Ukrainian president Zelenskiy visited the south-eastern region of Zaporizhzhia and met troops fighting in the counteroffensive against Russian forces, the president’s office said on Tuesday. Zelenskiy was shown in a video with senior Ukrainian soldiers examining a battlefield map at what the president’s office said was the frontline command point of the 46th separate airmobile brigade, near the town of Orikhiv.

Russia and North Korea on Tuesday advocated closer collaboration including in the defence sector. Moscow and Pyongyang have drawn closer since the Kremlin deployed troops to Ukraine and commenced large-scale hostilities last year, according to AFP.

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