IN BRIEF: Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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Russia’s latest ultimatum to Ukrainian fighters holding out in Mariupol expired on Wednesday afternoon with no sign of mass surrender as Moscow pressed ahead with its offensive in the east and Western governments promised Ukraine more military help.

More than five million people have now fled Ukraine, theUnited Nations refugee agency said.

President Vladimir Putin is due to meet representatives of the metals industry, which the Kremlin said was facing “hostile attitudes”. Gold miner Petropavlovsk said sanctions-hit Russian lender Gazprombank had called on it to immediately repay a term loan worth $201 million.

President Joe Biden will host US military leaders in an annual gathering that takes on extra significance as the war enters a risky new phase. Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have pledged to send more artillery weaponry to Ukraine.

European Council President Charles Michel is on an unexpected visit to Kyiv. Latvia said the EU was preparing new measures to prevent Russia evading sanctions.

Western nations are preparing to stage coordinated walk-outs to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at Wednesday’s meeting of G20 finance ministers in Washington.

Russia is still building up its military presence onUkraine’s eastern border and fighting in the southeastern Donbas region is intensifying as Russian forces seek to break throughUkrainian defences, a British military update said.

Russia called on Ukrainian troops at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to surrender, saying its troops will observe a ceasefire while the proposal is in effect. Russian-backed separatists later said five people had surrendered, a day after Russia said no-one had responded to a similar surrender call.

Ukraine hopes to send 90 buses to Mariupol to evacuate about 6 000 women, children and elderly people, the city’s mayor Vadym Boichenko said. He said about 100 000 thousand civilians remain in the city. Russia said some 120 civilians living next to the Azovstal plant evacuated on Tuesday.

Norway has donated about 100 Mistral air defence missiles to Ukraine, the Norwegian defence ministry said.

“Irish people are very friendly, very kind,” said Maria Nazarchuk, 20, an accountancy student among 11 Ukrainians staying in mediaeval castle in the west of Ireland who has found work in a local garden centre. “I have a good job, a good home.I never thought that someday I will live in a castle.”