Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) – Russian forces pounded Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv and surrounding countryside with rockets, killing at least 15 people, in what Kyiv called a bid to force it to pull resources from the main battlefield to protect civilians from attack.


* The European Union will temporarily shift back to coal to cope with slowing Russian gas flows, an EU official said, as a tight gas market and rocketing prices set off a race for alternative fuels.

* Sustainable palm oil is becoming harder to find as food manufacturers use it to replace sunflower oil sourced from Ukraine and to meet environmental goals, the CEO of retail brand owner Ahold Delhaize told Reuters.

* Russia and the U.S. are exchanging signals on the issue of a American fighters in Ukraine but Moscow does not think Washington is ready to discuss a prisoner exchange seriously, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

* Moscow is working on a "practical" response to Lithuania's ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, Russian officials said, without elaborating.

* President Vladimir Putin said Russia is rerouting its trade and oil exports towards the BRICS group of emerging economies, comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

* Ukraine said its grain exports in the first 22 days of June fell by 48% from a year earlier to 907,000 tonnes. Russia said Russian and Turkish delegations had agreed to continue talks on safe vessel departures and grain exports from Ukrainian ports.


* International grain group Viterra said its grain terminal had been hit in the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, after the regional governor reported an attack by six Russian missiles.

* Operations at Russia's Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery near the border with Ukraine were suspended after a fire possibly caused by an attack by two drones, regional governor Vasily Golubev said.

* The Russians are advancing towards the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, attacking buildings of police, state security and prosecutors and taking nearby settlements, the governor of the surrounding Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, said.

* Zelenskiy said the military situation in Luhansk was very difficult and his advisor Oleskiy Arestovych said Russian forces could cut off Lysychansk, and the fiercely-contested city of Sievierodonetsk across the Siverskyi Donets river, from Ukrainian-held territory. Between 7,000 and 8,000 civilians remain in Sievierodonetsk, supported by Ukrainian troops, the city's mayor said.

* Ukraine's second biggest city Kharkiv, further north, came under Russian attack again overnight, Arestovych said, and the nearby village of Chuhuiv was under fire again, a day after at least 15 civilians were killed there.

* Intense fighting was going on along the border with Russia in northeastern Ukraine, the governor of the Sumy region, Dmytro Zhyvitsky, said.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the battlefield accounts.


* "The most important line of defence is between one's ears, as the war in Ukraine proves at the moment," Finnish armed forces chief General Timo Kivinen said in an interview, stressing that Finland had prepared for decades for a possible Russian attack.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Olzhas Auyezov, Ron Popeski and Reuters bureaux; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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