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  1. Live coverage coming to an end

    We're pausing our live coverage of the Ukraine war for now, but will be resuming on Saturday.

    Thanks for joining us. Our editors today were Thom Poole, Chris Giles and James Clarke. Our writers were James FitzGerald, Emily McGarvey, Robert Greenall, Jeremy Gahagan, Leo Sands and Yaroslav Lukov.

    You can read more of one of our main stories today - the possible withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the big eastern city of Severodonetsk - here.

  2. What's the latest in Ukraine?

    If you're just joining us, or need a quick recap, here's the latest with what's been happening in Ukraine on Friday:

    Russia captures Lyman

    • Moscow-backed forces claim to have taken control of this small city in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region
    • Ukraine claims some of its troops are resisting in Lyman's suburbs, so it's not clear if it's fallen completely
    • If captured in full it represents Moscow's second strategic victory this week after the fall of Svitlodarsk further south


    • In neighbouring Luhansk, another fiercely contested region, the governor says some Ukrainian troops may soon be forced to retreat to prevent them from being surrounded
    • Russian forces are also targeting the city of Severodonetsk where fighting has broken out on the outskirts, the official says

    Long-range weapons

    • The US says it's considering a request from Ukraine to supply Kyiv with heavier longer-range weapons but hasn't come to a final decision yet
    • Responding to reports in US media that preparations to send the weapons were already underway, a Russian state-TV presenter said the aid would cross a "red line"

    Church schism

    • The Moscow-backed branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has declared its independence and severed all ties with Russia
    • Up until now the Church had pledged allegiance to Russia's Patriarch Kirill - a vocal supporter of the invasion whose position the Ukrainian Orthodox Church now says it rejects.
  3. 'It's a brainwashing machine'

    Video content

    Video caption: 'Switch off the TV': Former Russian-state TV journalist's plea to Russia

    A journalist who quit her job at Russian state-controlled TV channel back in March over the invasion of Ukraine has told Russian audiences to switch off their television sets.

    "Just don't listen, find other sources of information," Zhanna Agalakova said in an interview with BBC Newsnight.

    "It blows my mind how they do it," she added. "How they brainwash their population"

    If you're in the UK you can watch the full interview tonight (Friday 27 May) on BBC Two at 22:30 BST.

  4. No US decision on Ukraine's long-range weapon request

    Some more now on Ukraine's request that the US start supplying it with powerful long-range weapon systems to enhance its military capabilities against Russia.

    On Friday a Pentagon spokesperson announced that "decisions...haven't been made yet" but the US is "mindful" of the request.

    The comment comes after CNN published a report that the US was preparing to send Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to Ukraine.

    In the past Washington officials had denied the request fearing such long-range weapons could be used to attack targets inside Russia and end up widening and prolonging the conflict.

    A presenter on Russian state TV responded to the report by claiming the US would be crossing a red line and deliberately provoking Russia if it supplied Ukraine with the weapons.

    Image shows graphic
  5. Ukrainian police evacuate 31 Lysychansk residents

    A Ukrainian police officer with evacuated Lysychansk residents
    Image caption: The evacuees left the city in an armoured vehicle

    Ukraine's police have taken to safety 31 residents - including 13 children - of Ukraine's eastern city of Lysychansk, in what the top regional official describes as one of the most "difficult evacuations" in recent days.

    Luhansk regional head Serhiy Haidai says the officers were initially sent to evacuate seven people, who had previously agreed to leave but - after "a few hours of persuasion" - ended up picking up 31 residents.

    Haidai also says that one vehicle that delivered humanitarian aid to Lysychansk was damaged because of the fighting in the area.

    Russian forces have been slowly advancing on the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk. Local officials say two-thirds of Severodonetsk is now surrounded.

  6. Ukraine's church declares independence from Russia

    A priest blesses people and their baskets with holy water during the Orthodox Easter celebrations in the town of Bucha largely destroyed by Russian forces. Photo: 24 April 2022
    Image caption: Ukraine is hugely significant for the Russian Orthodox Church, with many parishes and some of its most important monasteries located there

    The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has declared its "full autonomy and independence" from the under Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), condemning the stance Russian religious leaders have taken on the war in Ukraine.

    "We disagree with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow," the UOC-MP said in a statement after a council meeting in Kyiv, referring to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC).

    Kirill has openly voiced support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine launched on 24 February.

    It is the second schism in Ukraine in recent years, with part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church breaking away from Moscow in 2019.

    The Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was then granted a degree of independence, or the tomos, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    Talks on the unification of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy between the UOC-MP and the OCU have so far brought no breakthrough.

    Ukraine is hugely significant for the ROC, with many parishes and some of its most important monasteries located there.

  7. Ukraine may evacuate Luhansk positions - governor

    Russian forces will not capture Luhansk in the coming days but Ukraine may have to evacuate some of its forces there for their own protection, the region's governor has said on Telegram.

    "It is possible that in order not to be surrounded we will have to retreat," Serhiy Haidai wrote.

    In an evening military report he also described how dangerous everyday life was in the Ukrainian-controlled areas of Luhansk.

    Remaining civilians "are constantly in shelters, it is almost impossible to go outside due to the density of shelling," he said.

    Haidai added that Russian forces have been continuing to target the city of Severodonetsk, where fighting has broken out on the outskirts of the city.

    Image shows map of Luhansk
  8. What is a Multiple Launch Rocket System?

    Earlier we reported that the US is preparing to offer Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to Ukraine, according to reports in US media.

    Last Saturday Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his request for Western and Nato countries to supply the weaponry.

    "I can honestly say our expectations are very high and we have been waiting a long time ... and I hope for a positive response that will allow us to acquire MLRS weapons," he said during a press conference in Kyiv.

    Thanks to this system, "Ukraine will be able to take steps to liberate its country," he added.

    The powerful M270 system can launch rockets further than any weapons Ukraine currently possesses.

    What weapons has the US given to Ukraine?

    Graphic showing M270 multiple launch rocket system
  9. Ukrainian forces outnumbered in Donbas

    Jonathan Beale

    BBC defence correspondent

    Image shows fireman extinguishing blaze
    Image caption: Fire crews deal with a fire after shelling at Bakhmut in the Donbas region

    There is no doubt Ukraine is suffering setbacks in eastern Ukraine.

    The assessments from President Zelensky sound increasingly bleak. He says Russia is reducing cities to ashes. Earlier this week he said between 50 and 100 Ukrainians were losing their lives every day in the Donbas.

    Ukraine is certainly outnumbered and outgunned – with relentless Russian artillery bombardments being used to brutal effect over a much smaller area than during the first phase of the war.

    One Ukrainian official estimated that in some areas of Donbas their forces are outnumbered seven to one.

    Today UK PM Boris Johnson acknowledged that Russia was making slow but palpable progress in the region. He called for more military support – including providing Ukraine with long range rocket launchers – which the US is now considering too.

    There has been a lag between some Western promises of weapons and the time it takes to deliver them and to train Ukrainian forces. They could make a difference.

    But Russia still has much larger stockpiles of artillery ammunition. A senior official of one Nato country said it was “criminal” that the West had more limited stocks.

    Areas of contr
  10. Footballers from Ukraine and Belarus to be kept apart by Uefa

    Ukraine play football against Belarus in 2015 in Lviv
    Image caption: Ukraine and Belarus last met in a qualifying game for Euro 2016 - Ukraine won 3-1 in Lviv

    Teams from Ukraine and Belarus will be kept apart in international football tournaments and European club competitions until further notice, governing body Uefa says.

    Uefa suspended Russia - and Russian clubs - from its tournaments following the invasion of Ukraine, but has allowed Belarus to continue competing despite that country's support of the invasion.

    Belarus have already been ordered to play home matches behind closed doors on neutral territory, and now Uefa says it will not permit any meetings between teams from Belarus and Ukraine to ensure the safety and security of everyone involved.

    The news comes the week before Ukraine's footballers bid to qualify for the World Cup - they play Scotland next Wednesday in a match delayed by the war, with the winners then playing Wales four days later for a spot in the finals in Qatar.

    Action against sportspeople and teams from Russia and Belarus has been a bone of contention in recent months. The International Olympic Committee's executive board recommended in February that athletes and teams from the two nations should not be allowed to take part in international competitions.

    But international tennis ruling bodies have said no ranking points will be awarded at Wimbledon this year after championship organisers said they would exclude Russian and Belarussian players. The French Open, currently taking place, does feature stars from the two countries.

  11. Who are the captured UK and Moroccan fighters?

    More now on this news we brought you earlier.

    Shaun Pinner, 48, and another Brit, 28-year-old Aiden Aslin, were captured in April while defending Ukraine's south-eastern port of Mariupol, which is now in Russian hands.

    In footage later shown on Russian state TV, both appeared to have facial bruising, prompting their families to call for the Geneva Convention to be respected.

    Mr Pinner, originally from Bedfordshire, has lived in Ukraine since 2018.

    Also in April, Russia released a video of a man who it said he was called Andrew Hill and that he had surrendered to Russian troops.

    The man, who was seen wearing a military camouflage uniform, said he was from Plymouth, and had children and a partner.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Moscow to treat captured British fighters "humanely and compassionately".

    The Moroccan national was shown in Russian custody by state-run media in April, calling himself Sadun Brahim. He is believed to have studied in Kyiv before Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

    The Geneva Convention states that prisoners of war must be protected "against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity".

  12. What's the latest news from Ukraine?

    A Ukrainian rescue vehicle drives past a building on fire after shelling in the small city of Bakhmut, Donetsk region

    If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments from Ukraine:

    On the ground

    • Russian forces have taken over two-thirds of the perimeter of the front-line city of Severodonetsk, the governor of Luhansk region says
    • The head of the Severodonetsk district administration, Roman Vlasenko, tells the BBC that Ukrainian forces needed more heavy weaponry to drive the Russians out of the city
    • Russian-backed forces have taken majority control of the city of Lyman in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, Ukrainian officials have said
    • Claiming Lyman would represent the second major success for Russia this week, following the fall of Svitlodarsk further south.
    • Ten people have been killed and up to 35 wounded as a result of Russian missile strikes on a Ukrainian military barracks in the Dnipro district
    • About 70 bodies have been discovered beneath rubble from a former industrial building in Mariupol, an aide to the city's mayor says


    • Russia's President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of "sabotaging" peace talks
    • Putin spoke to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in what was described as a "very intense" call to discuss if potential humanitarian solutions can be found in Ukraine
    • Meanwhile, Ukraine's President Zelensky says his country is not "eager" to hold peace talks with his Russian counterpart - but it will have to anyway
    • Russia requires substantial financial resources in order to continue supporting both its economy and its "special operation" in Ukraine, the country's finance minister Anton Siluanov says
    • Talks aimed at overcoming Turkey's objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato have broken up with no sign of progress
    • The Kyiv School of Economics says the total economic losses to Ukraine caused by Russia's invasion amounts to $564-600bn (£447-476bn)
    Russian advances in eastern Ukraine
  13. BreakingDeath penalty considered for captured UK and Morocco fighters - Russian-backed rebels

    Two UK citizens and a Moroccan, who fought on the Ukrainian side in the country's eastern Donbas region, may face the death penalty, Russian-backed rebels are quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency.

    Viktor Gavrilov, an official at the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic's (DNR) prosecutor general's office, says a criminal investigation "has been completed" and - taking into account that a war is going on - the accused may be given capital punishment.

    Gavrilov identified the two captured Brits as Shaun Pinner and Andrew Hill, while the Moroccan national was named as Sadun Brahim.

    The DNR reportedly introduced the death penalty on the territory seized from Ukraine in 2014.

  14. Ukraine expects more heavy weapons from US

    In a call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says the pair discussed American military support for Kyiv.

    Kuleba says "heavy weapons" are top of Ukraine's agenda and wrote that "more are coming our way" following the call.

    View more on twitter

    His comments come as CNN reports that the Biden administration is preparing to offer Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to Ukraine - an advanced long-range rocket system.

    So far the US has refused pleas to provide Ukraine with the longer-range systems, reportedly fearing that they could be used to attack sites inside Russia thereby expanding the conflict.

    Responding to the report, a presenter on Russian state television said on Friday that the US would be crossing a red line by sending the weapons

    View more on twitter
  15. Putin accuses Ukraine of sabotaging peace talks

    Vladimir Putin

    Russia's President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of "sabotaging" peace talks with Russia, the Kremlin has said.

    The comments were apparently made during a 45-minute phone call between the Russian leader and the Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

    According to Moscow's readout of the call, Putin denied that his country's blockade of Ukrainian ports is to blame for disruption to global food supplies, suggesting the real cause were sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

    Austria's Chancellor said the point of the call, described as "very intense, very serious", was to establish if potential humanitarian solutions can be found in Ukraine.

    He also added Putin said he was ready to discuss a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

  16. Little sign of progress in talks on Sweden and Finland's Nato membership

    Image shows Jens Stoltenberg holding up two documents
    Image caption: Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg holds up Sweden and Finland's membership applications

    Talks aimed at overcoming Turkey's objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato have broken up with no sign of progress.

    A senior Turkish official said talks between the countries made little headway and told Reuters news agency "it is not an easy process". Negotiations will continue but no date has been set for them, the source added.

    All 30 Nato members, including Turkey, need to approve the applications from Sweden and Finland to join the Western security alliance.

    But Turkey has challenged both after accusing the two countries of harbouring individuals linked to Kurdish terrorists, a claim denied by Sweden and Finland.

    Some analysts view Turkey's stance as an attempt to win concessions from other Nato members.

  17. We need more heavy weapons in Severodonetsk - local official

    A Ukrainian official has been giving more details about the fighting in the city of Severodonetsk.

    The head of the Severodonetsk district administration, Roman Vlasenko, told the BBC's World At One programme that Ukrainian forces needed more heavy weaponry to drive the Russians out of the city.

    He said Russian forces did not have a numerical advantage but had more heavy weapons.

    "Arms are reaching the front in many areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions," Vlasenko said.

    "But for the counter-offensive to be quick and effective we need more of them."

    He said Russian forces were in the suburbs and trying to take the city from three sides, but had been repulsed from central areas twice in the last three days.

    Video content

    Video caption: District head Roman Vlasenko says troops need more weapons or Russia will overpower them.
  18. Russia needs economic boost - Finance minister

    Image shows Anton Siluanov

    Russia requires substantial financial resources in order to continue supporting both its economy and its "special operation" in Ukraine, the country's finance minister says.

    "Money for a special operation" means "huge resources" are needed, Anton Siluanov says at a university event.

    Moscow officials insist on referring to the invasion of Ukraine as a "special military operation."

    He adds the Russian government will be spending 8 trillion roubles (£95.8bn) in the form of an economic stimulus package this year.

    "Huge funds. We need these resources to support the economy, support our citizens."

    The Russian economy has fared poorly in the last few months after being hammered by Western sanctions, with some forecasts projecting its GDP to shrink by between 8.5% and 15% this year.

  19. Two-thirds of Severodonetsk surrounded - governor

    Damaged buildings in Severodonetsk
    Image caption: Up to 90% of the city has been damaged by shelling

    Russian forces have taken over two-thirds of the perimeter of the front-line city of Severodonetsk, the governor of Luhansk region says.

    But Serhiy Haidai says the city is not completely surrounded, denying reports by officials from the pro-Moscow self-declared Luhansk People's Republic that Ukrainian forces are cut off there.

    Severodonetsk is the most easterly major population centre in the Donbas still controlled by Ukraine.

    Earlier we reported that 60% of the city's housing stock is completely destroyed and up to 90% of buildings are damaged.

    At least 1,500 people have died there since the invasion began in February.

  20. Tracking the Russian invasion

    Russia appears to have gained control of most of Lyman in Donetsk region - one of several key locations in eastern Ukraine under intense bombardment.

    Moscow says its forces are fighting for the "complete liberation" of the Donbas, which broadly refers to Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russian-backed separatists held significant territory before the invasion.

    Russia now controls more than 90% of Luhansk and has made significant advances in Donetsk since its invasion on 24 February.

    See the latest maps and charts here

    Map showing changing control in areas of the Donbas