(Reuters) – Ukraine told Russia to release prisoners of war if it wants the Kremlin’s top political ally in the country freed from detention.
* The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it is closely watching the war in Ukraine after an unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use in Mariupol.
* Fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify in coming weeks as Russia continues to refocus there, Britain said.
* The mayor of Mariupol city said the latest estimate was that about 21,000 civilian residents had been killed.
* U.S. President Biden said for the first time that Russia’s invasion amounts to genocide.
* Russian President Putin reappeared after a rare public silence to say the invasion was a “noble” cause and that peace talks had reached a dead end.
* Ukraine’s security services said they had arrested Putin’s closest and most influential ally in the country.
* Washington is expected to announce as soon as Wednesday another $750 million in military assistance for Ukraine.
* A planned visit to Kyiv by German President Steinmeier was not welcomed by Ukraine, he said.
ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
* Russia’s economy is on track to contract by more than 10% in 2022, the biggest fall since after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, a former finance minister said.
* Ukrainian President Zelenskiy urged the European Union to impose sanctions on all Russian banks and Russian oil and to set a deadline for ending imports of Russian gas.
* Russia’s energy minister told Izvestia newspaper that Moscow is ready to sell oil and oil products to “friendly countries in any price range”, Interfax news agency reported.
* The World Bank is preparing a $1.5 billion support package for Ukraine.
* “The United States is ready to fight with Russia until the last Ukrainian – that is the way it is.” – Putin
* “We’ll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies (as genocide), but it sure seems that way to me.” – Biden
(Compiled by Nick Macfie and Andrew Cawthore; Editing by Michael Perry)