Ukraine on Monday declared its mission complete after putting up a strong resistance to defend the last stronghold in the port city of Mariupol – the Azovstal steel plant – as more than 260 fighters were evacuated to areas controlled by Russia. According to reports, Moscow had said a deal had been reached to evacuate the injured troops. The besieged city of Mariupol has been witnessing intense fighting for more than two months. Meanwhile, even as Moscow faces setbacks with Sweden and Finland deciding to join NATO, the Kremlin has slammed G7 for worsening the global food crisis with punitive measures.

© Provided by Hindustan TimesService members of pro-Russian troops wait atop an armoured personnel carrier before the expected evacuation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Mariupol,  (REUTERS)

Here are top updates on the Ukraine war:

1. “Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive. It’s our principle. The work to bring the guys home continues, and it requires delicacy and time,” the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky was quoted as saying in an AP report on the last of the evacuations. “Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol, Ukraine gained critically important time to form reserves and regroup forces and receive help from partners,” deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said.

2. Russian president Vladimir Putin has warned that Sweden and Finland joining NATO would not be a threat to the Kremlin but it would provoke a “response”, news agency AFP reported. Helsinki and Stockholm have decided to give up decades of non-alignment over fears they may be next.

3. The Kremlin yet again warned the West over sanctions and punitive measures, insisting that the measures were worsening the world’s food crisis. “Attempts to divert Russia economically, financially and logistically from long-standing channels of international cooperation are only exacerbating economic and food crises,” news agency Reuters quoted the foreign ministry as saying on the official website. The report further highlighted that about 30 per cent of the world market relied on Ukraine and Russia for wheat production before the war.

4. “It should be noted that it was the unilateral actions of Western countries, primarily from the Group of Seven, that exacerbated the problem of breaking the logistics and financial chains of food supplies to world markets,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

5. At least 20 civilians were reported dead in Russian shelling in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, according to Kyiv. Heavy explosions rocked the city of Lviv too.

6. US president Joe Biden “wants to go to Ukraine” but there are “no plans at this time”, the White House has said in its latest update on his much-anticipated visit.

7. While Praising Greece for showing “moral clarity” in stepping up measures against Moscow, Biden on Monday said: “We’re helping Ukrainians say no to Russian aggression. And we’re saying no to tyranny, to the idea that autocracies will outpace democracies in the 21st century, because that’s what is at stake here in my view.”

8. The United States on Monday backed the UN for bringing back Ukraine to the world marketplace. UN chief Antonio Guterres “has spoken to us about his plans and his discussions with the Ukrainians and the Russians on this issue,” ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters.

9. Global prices for grains, cooking oil, fertilisers and fuel have been soaring ever since Russia launched the offensive in Ukraine on February 24, which it describes as a “special military operation”. The UN chief has been expressing concern that more than 36 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for their wheat imports.

10. More than 6 million have fled the war ever since the conflict began in Ukraine. Kyiv claims over 27,000 Russian soldiers have died.

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