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Ukraine: Russia launches fresh rocket assault on Kharkiv — live updates

  • Russia launching attacks on Kharkiv in diversion attempt, says Ukraine
  • European leaders to discuss Ukraine's EU aspirations
  • Zelenskyy to address Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This article was last updated at 23:40 UTC/GMT

Russia strikes Kharkiv in possible diversion attempt

Russia has launched fresh rocket attacks on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in recent days, signaling a possible shift in tactics by Moscow.

Ukraine said at least 20 people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday in the country's second-largest city, which lies near the Russian border.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video address that the aim of the strikes is to "terrorize the population" of the city. He also claimed the attacks are an attempt by Russia to divert Ukrainian troops from the key Donbas region.

"The idea is to create one big problem to distract us and force us to divert troops," Arestovych said. "I think there will be an escalation."

G7, NATO leaders to discuss new punitive measures on Russia

Leaders attending the upcoming G7 and NATO summits in Europe will discuss new proposals to pressure Russia amid its ongoing assault on Ukraine.

"We will roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase pressure on Russia," a senior US official told reporters.

US President Joe Biden will attend the G7 summit in the German region of Bavaria this weekend, along with the leaders of UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Biden will later attend a NATO summit in Madrid on the next leg of his European tour.

Zelenskyy calls European leaders ahead of EU candidacy status decision

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with 11 European leaders ahead of a key decision on granting the country EU candidate status.

Zelenskyy said he spoke with the leaders of Belgium, Austria, Greece and the Czech Republic, among others. He also spoke with President Maia Sandu of Moldova, another Eastern European nation aspiring to candidate status.

"Tomorrow I will continue this marathon — we must provide maximum support to our state," Zelenskyy said. "We expect a key European decision tomorrow night."

What happened in Russia's war in Ukraine on Wednesday

During an address to the Bundestag, the lower house of German parliament, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Ukraine needs a massive amount of aid to rebuild, calling it a "task for generations." He also said NATO allies can rely on Berlin.

At the same time, Scholz said it would be "unwise" for NATO to pull out of a 1997 agreement that bolsters cooperation between the alliance and Russia. The German leader said such a move would feed into Kremlin narratives.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's ambassador to Berlin, Andriy Melnyk, expressed regret for calling Scholz the equivalent of a "snowflake" in May. The Ukrainian envoy said he will apologize to Scholz personally.

Tech giant Microsoft said Russian state-sponsored hackers launched attacks on 42 countries outside Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion on February 24.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov fumed over "illegal EU sanctions" which led to Lithuania imposing a rail blockade on goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. Peskov said Russia is in the process of preparing retaliatory measures.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is redirecting its exports to BRICS nations amid western sanctions. BRICS includes Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said the situation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk is "hell" amid weeks of heavy Russian attacks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged more sanctions on Moscow amid entrenched fighting in the Donbas.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said a Ukrainian journalist and a soldier accompanying him were "coldly executed" by Russian forces near Kyiv in March.

Catch up on all the news about the war in Ukraine by clicking here.

wd/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)