© Reuters. Ukrainian servicemen return from heavy fighting amid Russia?s attack on Ukraine, close to Bakhmut, Ukraine, April 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
(Reuters) – Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven rich nations condemned Russia’s recent talk of stationing nuclear weapons in Belarus as “unacceptable” and called on China to act as a responsible member of the international community.
* Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza was jailed by a Moscow court for 25 years for treason and other offences – which he denies committing – after speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lobbying for Western sanctions on Moscow.
* Ukraine said a U.N.-brokered initiative allowing the safe Black Sea export of its grain was in danger of “shutdown” after Russia blocked inspections of participating ships in Turkish waters. The Kremlin has said prospects for renewing the grain deal next month are “not so bright”.
* Kyiv aims to re-open food and grain transit via Poland as “a first step” to ending import bans at talks in Warsaw as some central and eastern European countries halted an influx of Ukrainian supplies to protect their local agriculture markets.
* Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Wagner mercenary force had captured two more districts of Bakhmut, in the centre and northwest of the embattled eastern Ukrainian city that has been the focal point of fierce fighting for months.
Reuters could not independently confirm the battlefield report.
* U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy said she had made a first visit in jail to Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter accused by Moscow of spying, and had found him to be holding up well. His newspaper has rejected the charge.* U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department intends to appoint a prosecutor and a legal adviser to assist Ukraine with its efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected war crimes by Russian forces.
* Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva drew criticism from the United States for comments suggesting the West had been “encouraging” war by arming Ukraine, while he was praised by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for his proposal for peace talks.