(Reuters) – Ukraine accused Russia of looting empty homes in the southern city of Kherson and occupying them with troops in civilian clothes to prepare for street fighting in what both sides predict will be one of the war’s most important battles.
* White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has been engaged in confidential talks with senior Russian officials aimed at lowering the risk of a broader war over Ukraine, a source familiar with the conversations said.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said it was vital to force Russia to participate in “genuine” peace talks, describing it as a destabilising force on a range of issues, including climate change.
* A senior adviser to Zelenskiy said Ukraine had never refused to negotiate with Russia and was ready for talks with its future leader but not with Vladimir Putin. The comments by Mykhailo Podolyak followed a Washington Post report saying the Biden administration was privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate.
* Zelenskiy said that the Donetsk region in the east remained the “epicentre” of fighting, with hundreds of Russians being killed every day.
* Ukraine has received its first delivery of NASAMS and Apside air defence systems, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.
* North Korea said it never had arms dealings with Russia and had no plans to do so, its state media reported, after the United States said North Korea appeared to be supplying Russia with artillery shells for the Ukraine war.
* Putin said that 50,000 Russian soldiers called up as part of his mobilisation drive were now fighting with combat units in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reported.
* Russia’s defence ministry took the rare step of denying allegations that a naval infantry unit had suffered disastrous losses of men and equipment in a futile offensive in eastern Ukraine.
* Three top Ukrainian officials confirmed that the shares of five strategic companies had been taken over by the defence ministry under wartime laws. The decision was taken at a top security meeting on Saturday and came into force the next day, Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov told a briefing.