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- Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces Thursday to blockade the steel plant where Ukrainian troops are holding out in Mariupol, saying it would be “impractical” to attack the factory, the New York Times reported. Putin’s announcement came as Russia claimed victory over the strategic southeastern city.
- US President Joe Biden announced another $800 million security package and an additional $500 million in direct economic assistance to Ukraine as its military fights off a renewed Russian assault, CNBC noted. The announcement comes less than a day after finance ministers for the Group of Seven countries pledged more than $24 billion in 2022 in support for Ukraine, according to the Hill.
- Russian forces now control 80 percent of Luhansk, one of the two eastern Donbas districts, while hospitals and morgues in the controlled territories are “overcrowded,” according to a Ukrainian official, Al Jazeera wrote.
- China’s credit card processor has refused to cooperate with Russian banks out of fear of being hit by Western sanctions imposed on Russia due to the war in Ukraine, especially after Visa and Mastercard Russia stopped serving them, the Associated Press added. American officials have warned that governments or companies that try to undermine sanctions will face consequences.
- Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny voiced his support for incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron and urged voters to reelect the incumbent when they go to the polls in the second round Sunday, the Washington Post wrote. Meanwhile, he rebuked Macron’s opponent, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen for a past loan — worth $12.2 million in 2014 from a “shadowy” Russian state bank for her party. Le Pen, meanwhile, called for reconciliation between NATO and Russia, and again vowed to pull France out of NATO’s integrated command if she is elected president.