(Reuters) – Russia said on Friday its forces had captured Solidar in eastern Ukraine, in what would be a rare success for Moscow after months of battlefield setbacks, but Kyiv said its forces were still fighting in the town.
– President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces continue to fight in Soledar, a small salt-mining town, and other cities in the Donetsk region.
* Reuters was unable to verify the accounts.
* CNN said reporters outside Solidar heard mortar and rocket fire on Friday afternoon and saw Ukrainian forces move troops in what appeared to be an orderly withdrawal.
* Ultra-nationalist mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner group includes prisoners who were promised amnesty for service, complained after the Russian military took credit for Solidar without mentioning his fighters.
* Finland has joined Poland in saying it may send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of what appears to be a Western alliance being formed to supply them.
* Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Licorne said that France hopes to deliver AMX 10-RC light combat tanks to Ukraine within two months.
* A Russian Foreign Ministry official said Belarus could enter the conflict. Russia used Belarus as a springboard for its invasion of Ukraine in February, but the border region is now so badly inundated that an imminent attack from there is unlikely. 4 pm
Diplomacy and economics
* Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington, stressed the importance of standing up to Russia’s invasion, saying that if the unilateral change to the status quo continues without objection, the same will happen elsewhere, including in Asia. . A clear reference to China’s pledge to reunify with self-ruled Taiwan, by force if necessary.
Russia has become increasingly dependent on oil revenues to support its budget as military spending increases, economists said, warning that the government may have to raise taxes if crude prices fail to meet expectations this year.
* A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed seizing property and assets of Russians who defame the armed forces and oppose the war in Ukraine.
* At least four Chinese-owned supertankers are shipping Russian Urals crude to China, according to trade sources and tracking data, as Moscow seeks vessels for export after the Group of Seven oil price caps restricted the use of Western shipping and insurance services.
Compiled by Grant McCall and William Mallard
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