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Wednesday July 6th, 2022 12:45PM

Live updates | Hungary and France to discuss Russian oil ban

By The Associated Press
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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron and Hungarian Prime Minister are scheduled to talk about a potential European Union ban on oil imports from Russia, according to Macron’s office.

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen will also attend the meeting, which is taking place by video conference on Tuesday. France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.

To further sanction Russia for its war in Ukraine, Von der Leyen has proposed having the 27 EU member nations phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

Hungary says it won't vote for the proposed sanctions, saying they would have the effect of an “atomic bomb” on its economy and destroy its “stable energy supply.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russia pounds Odesa as civilian bodies uncovered elsewhere

— Crucial NATO decisions expected in Finland, Sweden this week

— Biden signs Ukraine bill, seeks $40B aid, in Putin rejoinder

— AP Interview: Lithuania FM calls for regime change in Russia

Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

LVIV, Ukraine — The secretary-general of the United Nations has met with Moldova’s president as Russia’s war on neighboring Ukraine has seen tensions rise in a breakaway region of Moldova.

A statement issued after the meeting said U.N. chief António Guterres offered President Maia Sandu “his support for the full respect for Moldova’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mysterious explosions have struck Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, raising concerns about the war in Ukraine spreading into a western front as Russia targets the Ukrainian city of Odesa with missiles.

Transnistria hosts some 1,500 Russian troops and other forces.

Pro-Russian forces broke off the border section from Moldova in 1992, and Russian troops have been stationed there since, ostensibly as peacekeepers.

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LVIV, Ukraine -- The Azov Regiment of Ukraine’s National Guard, one of several Ukrainian units holed up at a Mariupol steel plant, says Russian war planes targeted the sprawling plant 34 times over the past 24 hours.

The regiment said in an online statement Tuesday that the Russians continue pounding the besieged Azovstal steel mill with naval and barrel artillery whihle using tanks and other weapons in “attempts to seize the Ukrainian fortress.”

Attempts to storm the plant with the support of the infantry continue daily, the statement added.

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BRUSSELS — The head of the European Investment Bank says Ukraine is currently “sitting on 8 billion-euros worth of wheat” it can’t export because of the war and its lost access to the Black Sea.

Speaking during a press conference at the European Commission in Brussels on Tuesday, Werner Hoyer said unblocking Ukraine’s seaports is crucial to fix the war-torn country’s trade crisis.

“They are sowing like crazy right now, and they will expect probably a good harvest, maybe 70% of last year’s harvest in a couple of months,” Hoyer said. “And then what to do with it?"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked his allies to take immediate measures to unlock Ukrainian ports for wheat exports.

Hoyer also looked at Ukraine’s reconstruction once the war started by Russia ends, saying it “is going to be a huge challenge" that costs trillions of euros.

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un reiterated his support for Russia’s efforts to defend its “dignity” against “hostile forces” in a congratulatory message sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin over an anniversary marking the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany.

North Korean state media said Kim in Monday’s message praised Russia’s victory in the “great war of justice to destroy fascism,” an apparent reference to World War II, and expressed hope that the countries would further develop their “strategic and traditional relations of friendship.”

The report by the Korean Central News Agency didn’t include any specific mention of Russia’s war on Ukraine. But it said Kim confirmed North Korea’s “firm solidarity” with Russia over its campaign to “root out the political and military threat and blackmail by the hostile forces and safeguard the country’s dignity.”

North Korea has repeatedly blamed the United States over the crisis in Ukraine, claiming that the “hegemonic policy” of the U.S.-led West is threatening global peace and stability.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has left the U.N. Security Council divided and effectively paralyzed, has also created a favorable environment for Kim to push forward his weapons development as he tries to cement the North’s status as a nuclear power and negotiate a removal of crippling U.S.-led sanctions from a position of strength. North Korea has so far conducted 15 rounds of missile tests in 2022 alone.

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LVIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian official says authorities have found the bodies of 44 civilians in the rubble of a building destroyed by Russia in March.

Oleh Synehubov, the head of Kharkiv’s regional administration, made the announcement Tuesday via a message on social media. He said the five-story building had collapsed with the civilians inside.

He said, “This is another horrible war crime of the Russian occupiers against the civilian population!”

Synehubov did not identify specifically where the building was.

Russia has been holding Izyum, an eastern Ukrainian city in the Kharkiv region, as a key frontline node.

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LVIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian military is warning that Russia could target the country’s chemical industries.

The claim by Ukraine’s general staff wasn’t immediately explained in a report Tuesday. However, it comes after oil depots and other industrial sites have been targeted by Russian shelling in the war.

The military said, “The possibility of sabotage at the chemical industry of Ukraine with further accusations of units of the armed forces of Ukraine is not ruled out.”

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LVIV, Ukraine — Satellite pictures analyzed by The Associated Press show two ships off Snake Island, Ukraine, just before 3 p.m. Monday.

The images from Planet Labs PBC showed one appearing to be a landing craft off to its east, another was a ship with two smaller rafts near it. Ukraine has repeatedly struck Russian positions there recently, suggesting Russian forces may be trying to restaff or remove personnel from the Black Sea island.

Satellite photos also show intense fires in Russian-held territory in southern Ukraine on Monday.

A cause for the fires wasn’t immediately clear. However, Planet Labs images showed thick smoke rising to the east of Vasylivka.

Much of the area around Vasylivka is protected nature preserves.

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LVIV, Ukraine ⁠— Russian missile fire targeting the Black Sea port city of Odesa has killed one person and wounded five.

The Ukrainian military’s southern command made the announcement early Tuesday after a barrage of fire throughout the day.

One struck a shopping center and a warehouse, the military said.

Ukraine alleged the munitions dated back to the Soviet era, making them unreliable in targeting. There’s been increasing concern that Russia is running out of guided munitions, making it more likely they’ll fire unguided rockets which can cause wider collateral damage.

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One of the Ukrainian fighters holding out in the Mariupol steelworks said Monday they were still defending the city.

Valeri Paditel, who heads the border guards in the Donetsk region, said the fighters were “doing everything to make those who defend the city in the future proud.”

In his video address, released by the national border guard service, Paditel said the fighters include border guards, soldiers, national police and members of the national guard.

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