Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) – Ukraine said on Saturday it would target Russian soldiers who shoot at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant or use it as a base to shoot from, as both sides again accused the other of shelling Europe’s largest nuclear facility.

FIGHTING

* Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said any Russian soldier who shoots at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant or uses it as cover would become a “special target” and repeated accusations that Moscow was using the plant as nuclear blackmail.

* Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency warned of fresh Russian “provocations” at the nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. The exiled mayor of the town where the plant is located said it had come under fresh shelling.

* Russia’s defence ministry claimed on Saturday to have taken full control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts of Donetsk, while Ukraine’s military command said later that “fierce fighting” continued in the village.

* The two primary road bridges giving access to the pocket of Russian-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region are now probably out of use for the purposes of substantial military resupply, British military intelligence said.

* Kharkiv region governor Oleh Synehubov said on national television that two Russian missiles hit the city of Kharkiv overnight. He said there were no casualties but that one missile damaged a technical college while the other landed in a residential area.

* Reuters could not confirm battlefield reports independently.

DIPLOMACY

* Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said for the war to end his country would seek the return of Crimea and the punishment of the Russian leaders who ordered the invasion in February. “Russia started war against Ukraine in 2014 with Crimea seizure. Obviously, it must end with Crimea liberation and legal punishment of ‘special military operation’ initiators,” he said on Twitter.

* Any possible seizure of Russian assets by the United States will completely destroy Moscow’s bilateral relations with Washington, TASS quoted the head of the North American Department at the Russian foreign ministry as saying.

* Russia has told the United States that diplomatic ties would be badly damaged and even could be broken off if Russia is declared a “state sponsor of terrorism” by the U.S., TASS cited a top foreign ministry official as saying on Friday.

ECONOMY

* Two more ships left from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey’s defence ministry said, bringing the total number of ships to depart the country under a U.N.-brokered deal to 16.

* Securing a new $5 billion loan from the IMF would help assure Ukraine’s other creditors that its macroeconomic situation was under control, Zelenskiy’s chief economic adviser said on Friday.

* Global rating agencies S&P and Fitch lowered Ukraine’s foreign currency ratings on Friday to selective default and restricted default as they consider its debt restructuring as distressed.

(Compiled by Michael Perry, Frances Kerry and Hugh Lawson)