Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) – Russian forces kept up their bombardment of cities across Ukraine, with intense shelling of Sumy in the north, cluster bombs targeting Mykolaiv and a missile strike in Odesa in the south, authorities said on Tuesday.

FIGHTING

* Russian missile strike in Odesa injured at least four people, burned houses to the ground, cluster shell strikes in Mkoliav injured at least two and more than 150 mines and shells fired on Sumy region, said Ukraine authorities.

* Ukraine said Russian troops tried unsuccessfully to advance towards the city of Avdiyivka north of Donetsk, but were pushed back after several days fighting, suffering heavy losses, with some 40 dead.

* Ukraine's top military commander said U.S.-supplied long-range rocket systems "stabilize the situation" through "major strikes at enemy command points, ammunition and fuel storage warehouses."

* Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered generals to prioritise destroying Ukraine's long-range missile and artillery weapons after strikes on Russian supply lines.

Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield accounts.

ECONOMY

* Russia's Gazprom has told customers in Europe it cannot guarantee gas supplies because of "extraordinary" circumstances, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Dated July 14, the letter from the Russian state gas monopoly, said it was declaring force majeure on supplies, starting from June 14.

* Foreign allies need to increase their financial support for Ukraine to help the country maintain financial stability during the war with Russia, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office said.

* Officials from Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations will most likely meet this week to discuss resuming Ukraine's Black Sea grain exports, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.

DIPLOMACY

* EU foreign ministers agree another 500 million euros ($504 million) of funding to supply arms to Ukraine, taking the bloc's security support to 2.5 billion euros since Russia's invasion began.

* In his first trip outside Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin arrived in Iran for a summit with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts on the Syrian conflict, Iranian state TV said on Tuesday.

(Compiled by Cynthia Osterman and Michael Perry)

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