Ukraine President Zelenskyy defiant as Russia intensifies attacks on eastern cities, seizes territory – CNA

In Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest Black Sea port, a Russian missile attack destroyed a food warehouse on Monday, the Ukrainian military said. No civilians were reported killed.

Odesa has come under sporadic bombardment during the war and is blockaded by the Russian navy.

The Russian-installed leader of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, said Kyiv had struck Black Sea drilling platforms owned by a Crimean oil company. Three people were wounded, and a search was under way for seven workers, he said.

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency said the platforms were located 71km from Odesa. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the reports.

Washington and its European allies have provided weapons and financial assistance to Ukraine but avoided direct involvement in the conflict. Some American citizens, however, have volunteered to fight alongside Ukrainian forces.

On Monday, the Kremlin said two Americans detained in Ukraine were mercenaries not covered by the Geneva convention who should face responsibility for their actions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comments were the first formal acknowledgement that the two men, identified in US reports as Andy Huynh, 27, of Hartselle, Alabama, and Alexander Drueke, 39, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were being held.

This month, two Britons and a Moroccan were sentenced to death by a separatist court after being caught fighting for Ukraine.

Peskov also said US basketball star Brittney Griner, held in Russia for more than two months, was being prosecuted for drug offences and was not a hostage.

Russian customs officials say vape cartridges containing hashish oil were found in Griner’s luggage.

International concern has focused on trying to restore Ukrainian exports of food, now shut by a de facto Russian blockade. Ukraine is one of the world’s leading sources of grain and food oils, leading to fears of global shortages and hunger.

Russia blames the food crisis on Western sanctions curbing its own exports.

The war has also disrupted energy markets, including Russian shipments of oil and gas to Europe, still the continent’s main source of energy and Moscow’s primary income source. Moscow blames EU sanctions for a decline in gas volumes, saying they prevented it from restoring pipeline pumping equipment.

On Monday, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States is in talks with Canada and other allies to further restrict Moscow’s energy revenue by imposing a price cap on Russian oil.

Moscow, meanwhile, threatened to retaliate against EU member Lithuania for banning transport of basic goods to Kaliningrad, a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea surrounded by EU territory. The ban, which took effect on Saturday, blocks shipments of coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology.

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Lithuania’s top diplomat and demanded Vilnius reverse the “openly hostile” move immediately, or else Russia “reserves the right to take actions to protect its national interests.” Lithuania said it was required to enforce the ban under EU sanctions.