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Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Moscow pauses ahead of more intense attacks; Putin dares West to fight

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The governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, which is now almost completely under Russian control, said Friday that the city of Severodonetsk is facing a “humanitarian disaster.” Critical infrastructure, including the sewage system, had been badly damaged by months of fighting, and “there is no centralized water, gas or electricity supply,” he said, adding that 80 percent of homes in the city had been damaged.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Russia to end its blockade of Ukrainian grain exports in a contentious closed-door session of Group of 20 foreign ministers in Indonesia on Friday. It is the first time top Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov has been face to face with many of his Western counterparts since the war began, though many have refused to meet with him alone. Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food Program warned of a “looming hunger catastrophe” because of the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the war is just getting started, as he dared Ukraine’s Western partners to fight his troops on the battlefield. Despite Putin’s bravado, the Russian military faces significant long-term challenges: International sanctions are hurting Moscow’s ability to replenish its arsenal, and the Kremlin is scrambling to find experienced fighters after losing many troops earlier in the invasion.

Domestically, Moscow is continuing to crack down on dissenting voices, with a municipal lawmaker jailed for seven years on Friday after describing Russia’s war against Ukraine as a war, which is forbidden.

Headshot of Reis Thebault

National and breaking news reporter

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky opened his nightly video address with kind words for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who stepped down as leader of his Conservative Party on Thursday. Few leaders have tied themselves to Ukraine the way Johnson has in recent months. Through Johnson’s multiple visits and several phone conversations, the two leaders have forged a close bond during the war, and Britain has been a reliable supplier of weapons and financial assistance for Kyiv. Using Johnson’s first name, Zelensky said Britain will continue to support Ukraine no matter who lives at 10 Downing Street.“Both Boris and all our friends in the United Kingdom assured me of this,” he said.

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