As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
Russia halted the supply of gas to Poland and Bulgaria, which Western leaders called "blackmail." Russian state-run energy giant Gazprom confirmed it suspended the gas shipments over the countries' failure to pay in Russian currency. The Kremlin began requiring this of European importers in response to sanctions and in a bid to prop up the ruble. Bulgaria imports almost all its gas from Russia, and Poland roughly half; both countries said they were setting up alternative gas sources and could tap reserves.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry believes Russia plans to establish a new breakaway government in the southern city of Kherson. Local authorities say Russian forces dispersed a pro-Ukraine rally in the occupied city and appointed a Russian-backed mayor. The United Nations said its humanitarian office is mobilizing a team to coordinate an evacuation of civilians from the besieged steel plant in the occupied city of Mariupol.
Russia and the U.S. exchanged prisoners, swapping U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko. Reed was convicted on charges of assaulting Moscow police officers in 2019, in a trial that U.S. officials described as "a theater of the absurd." Yaroshenko was convicted in 2011 for conspiring to import cocaine into the U.S.
Russia said a series of blasts hit targets in Russian provinces bordering Ukraine.Russian officials also reported a fire at an ammunition depot in the region and an intercepted Ukrainian drone, adding new accusations that Ukraine is carrying attacks along its border. Ukrainian officials say the Kremlin is trying to inflame public opinion in support of its war effort.
Kyiv has demolished part of its famous monument symbolizing friendship with Russia and other former Soviet republics. Workers have dismantled a bronze statue of two men jointly raising up a Soviet order of friendship, which has stood under the titanium People's Friendship Arch in the city center since 1982. The arch itself will remain in place but will be painted in Ukraine's national colors of blue and yellow and renamed the "Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People."
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You can read more news from Wednesday here and more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find NPR's full coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR's State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.