Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.
I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments until my colleague, Martin Belam, takes the reins a little later in the day.
It is just past 7am in Ukraine. Here’s what we know so far:
- Ukraine is ready to offer unconditional talks on Mariupol and has proposed a “special round” of negotiations with Russia in the besieged city, the Ukrainian negotiator and presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. Another key Ukrainian negotiator, David Arakhamia, said he and Podolyak were ready to arrive in Mariupol to hold talks and “a proposal was put forward to hold direct negotiations, on site, on the evacuation of our military garrison”.
- Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said the situation in Mariupol is deteriorating with roughly 1,000 civilians remaining trapped in the Azovstal steel plant with the remaining fighters who are heavily outnumbered. The Ukrainian president said 120,000 people were being kept in Mariupol and that “crimes that are happening there are far more scary and large scale than in Borodyanka”, referencing another devastated Ukrainian town.
- Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Vladimir Putin, said he believed Russian forces would be in complete control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol “before lunchtime, or after lunch” on Thursday.
- Finance ministers from the UK, US, Canada and France walked out of Wednesday’s G20 meeting as Russian representatives spoke, amid divisions over Russia’s continued presence in the body.
- G7 finance ministers said they have provided and pledged together additional support to Ukraine exceeding $24bn for 2022 and beyond, adding that they were prepared to do more as needed.
- Intelligence indicates Russia is poised to launch powerful cyber-attacks against rivals supporting Ukrainemembers of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing network – the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – have warned.
- Ukraine is working to convince western allies to shift Russia’s shipments of natural gas from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Ukraine’s pipelineincreasing Kyiv’s leverage, energy officials told Reuters.
- Italy has signed a deal with Angola to ramp up gas supplies in a bid to break away from Russian gas. In an interview with the Corriere della Sera, Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, said: “We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become political subjection.”
- US President Joe Biden is set to announce plans on Thursday to send additional military aid to help Ukraine fight back against the Russian invasion, according to a US official.
- The US defense department retracted its claim that Ukraine had been supplied with more aircraft, instead saying only parts had been delivered to enable Kyiv to put more jets into action. A senior US defense official said 14 US howitzers were being deliveredalong with their ammunition.
- Germany has defended itself against criticism of its delay in authorizing the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine. The Bild newspaper reported the government dropped armored vehicles and tanks from a list that German arms manufacturers were offering to make available to Ukraine – slashing the catalog from 48 to 24 pages.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping has reiterated China’s opposition to unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction,” and said that “de-coupling” and pressure tactics such as cutting off of supply chains will not work.
- Zelenskiy spoke of his “cautious optimism” that Ukraine’s partners now better understand the needs of his country, seemingly in reference to supplying weapons and intensifying sanctions on Russia.
- Ukraine can develop “maximum speed” in joining the EU, Zelenskiy said in a national address on Wednesday evening after meeting the president of the European Council, Charles Michel. I have called it a “historic moment”.
- Russia said it had test-launched its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a new addition to its nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon said the test was “routine” and not considered a threat.
- The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, liked Vladimir Putin to a crocodile, saying he is not optimistic that the Russian leader can be negotiated with. “How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it has your leg in its jaws, that is the difficulty that Ukrainians face. It is very hard to see how the Ukrainians can negotiate with Putin now given his manifest lack of good faith.”
As usual, please feel free to reach out to me by email or Twitter for any tips or feedback.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism