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Ukraine war briefing: 50 countries swing behind peace summit in Switzerland

Ukraine war briefing: 50 countries swing behind peace summit in Switzerland

  • The Ukraine peace summit planned by Switzerland has so far drawn delegations from more than 50 countries, the Swiss president, Viola Amherd, has said. Russia has not been invited, but Switzerland says it might be if Moscow had not repeatedly stated it is not interested. The Ukrainian government has said Russia does not negotiate in good faith anyway.

  • Amherd said she was in discussion about whether Switzerland might step aside from receiving a Patriot missile defence system that is due from the US, so Ukraine can get one sooner.

  • The Ukrainian presidential office has said additional reinforcements were being deployed in the Kharkiv region, including army reserve units. Heavy enemy fire prompted repositioning of some troops in the Kupiansk direction to the east of Kharkiv city, the general staff said on Wednesday. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president, has postponed all his upcoming foreign trips, underscoring the seriousness of the threat his soldiers are facing. The Ukrainian military said troops fell back from areas in Lukyantsi and Vovchansk near Kharkiv “to save the lives of our servicemen and avoid losses”, Peter Beaumont writes.

  • Vovchansk – 5km (three miles) from the Russian border – has been the focus of much of the recent fighting, and Ukrainian and Russian troops battled in its streets on Wednesday. Oleksii Kharkivskyi, head of the city’s patrol police, said Russian troops were taking up positions there, while the Ukrainian general staff said its forces were trying to flush them out.

  • Russia’s gains in the Kharkiv region must be a “wake up call”, the British defence secretary, Grant Shapps, has said, adding that allies had become “distracted” from the war. “We must back [the Ukrainians] all the time, not just periodically,” Shapps said, adding that a $60bn US military package “took too long to get through Congress”.

  • Visiting Kyiv, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has announced a $2bn arms deal, with most of the money coming from the package approved by Congress last month.

  • Blinken said the US does not encourage Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia with US-supplied weapons but believes it is a decision Kyiv should make for itself. The US was focused on providing Patriot missile systems and other forms of critical air defence, he said.

  • The Russian defence ministry claimed its troops have retaken the village of Robotyne in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. The claim was unconfirmed. Ukrainian forces regained control of the village last August. Elsewhere in Ukraine’s southern regions, an aerial attack on the central district of Kherson wounded 17 civilians, the regional prosecutor’s office said. A Russian missile attack injured six people in Mykolaiv, according to Ukraine’s rescue service.

  • Vladimir Putin arrived in China on Thursday to meet with his counterpart Xi Jinping as he seeks greater support from Beijing for his war effort in Ukraine and his isolated economy. Putin, in an interview published in Xinhua ahead of his visit, hailed Beijing’s “genuine desire” to help resolve the Ukraine crisis. Blinken, who met Xi in Beijing last month, said China’s support for Russia’s “brutal war of aggression” in Ukraine had helped Russia ramp up production of rockets, drones and tanks – while stopping short of direct arms exports.

  • European Union ambassadors agreed in principle on Wednesday to add four Russian media outlets to the EU sanctions list, accusing them of propaganda: Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestija and Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The EU also banned Russian funding of EU media, non-governmental organisations and political parties. It has previously imposed sanctions on Russian state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik.