Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know

·3-min read

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked Pope Francis on Saturday to back Kyiv's peace plan, and the pope indicated the Vatican would help in the repatriation of Ukrainian children taken by Russians.

The Ukrainian leader, on a visit to Rome, also met Italy's leaders, who promised full military and financial backing for Ukraine and reiterated support for its EU membership bid. Zelenskiy will be received in Berlin on Sunday, German government sources said on Saturday


* Ukrainian troops are advancing in two directions in the eastern city of Bakhmut but the situation in the city centre is more complicated, deputy defence minister Hanna Malyar said on Saturday.

* Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had fallen back north of Bakhmut after a new offensive, in a retreat that the head of Russia's Wagner private army called a rout. The city has been the focus of a bloody battle for months,

* Russian forces have likely withdrawn from their positions on the southern flank of Bakhmut operations in bad order over the last four days, Britain's defence ministry said in its daily intelligence update on Saturday.


* The Russian news outlet Kommersant reported that two Russian fighter jets and two military helicopters had been shot down on Saturday close to the Ukrainian border, in what would be a spectacular coup for Kyiv if confirmed.

* Russia's Defence Ministry said on Saturday that Ukrainian aircraft had struck two industrial sites in the Russian-held city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine with Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles supplied by Britain.

* Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.


* Germany on Saturday announced 2.7 billion euro ($A4.4 billion) of military aid to Ukraine, its biggest such package yet since Russia's invasion, and pledged further support for Kyiv for as long as necessary.

* The European Union must speed up the supply of ammunition to Ukraine as the country's forces need 1000 artillery shells every day in the Bakhmut area alone, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday.

* South Africa's presidential security advisor said on Saturday the country was "actively non-aligned" in Russia's war against Ukraine, after US allegations that it had supplied weapons to Moscow led to a diplomatic crisis this week.

* A draft communique from a meeting of Group of Seven finance chiefs reiterated the group's condemnation of Russia's "illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression" against Ukraine.

* UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi plans to present an agreement with Russia and Ukraine on protecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to the UN Security Council this month, indicating a deal is close, four diplomats told Reuters.


* The head of Russia's federal crime agency suggested on Saturday that key sectors of the economy should be returned to state ownership to support Moscow's war in Ukraine.

* Police in the Russian city of St Petersburg said on Friday they have created an anti-drone unit to detect unmanned aerial vehicles following a purported drone attack on the Kremlin this month.