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Ukraine live briefing: Kyiv denies killing Putin ally’s daughter; Russia may boost Crimea defenses, experts say

Drone attacks were reported in Russian-occupied Crimea. The daughter of a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin was killed in a car explosion. Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

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  • The daughter of the key Putin adviser Alexander Dugin referred to as “Putin’s brain” was killed in a car explosion overnight in the Moscow region, according to Russia’s main investigative authority, which said it was opening a criminal murder investigation. Daria Dugina, 29, was reportedly driving her father’s car from a festival they attended when the vehicle erupted in flames, per Russia’s state-run media outlet Tass.
  • Ukraine denied involvement and suggested it could be the result of an internal dispute within Russia. “I emphasize that we certainly had nothing to do with it,” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Sunday on Ukrainian television. Dugina was sanctioned by the United States as part of a list of Russian elites and Russian intelligence-directed disinformation outlets, alongside her father, who has been designated for sanctions since 2015.
  • Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he has “not yet been briefed” on Dugina’s killing. “I couldn’t say who was behind it,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “There are so many factions and internecine warfare within Russian society, within the Russian government, anything is possible.” He said he hoped the attack, on a civilian, “wasn’t something emanating from Ukraine.”
  • This week marks six months since the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted in his nightly address. It also brings the nation’s Flag Day on Tuesday. He hinted at the prospect that Russia this week “may try to do something particularly nasty, something particularly cruel. Such is our enemy.” The city of Kharkiv will be under curfew all day on Ukrainian Independence Day on Wednesday, its regional governor, Oleh Synyehubov, said.

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  • Drone attacks, including one on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, were reported in Crimea on Saturday. The governor of Sevastopol, a Russian appointee, said a drone hit the roof of the fleet’s headquarters after Russian forces were unable to shoot it down. But he later reversed his claim, saying in a “clarification” on Telegram that the drone was struck and landed on the roof, catching fire. “There was no defeat,” he wrote. The claims could not be independently verified.
  • Attempted Russian ground offensives north of the city of Kharkiv failed on Saturday, according to the ISW. Shelling continued in and around the city.
  • Russia accused Ukraine of poisoning its soldiers late last month but provided no evidence, Reuters reported. Russia said botulinum toxin type B had been found in the bodies of a number of soldiers. An adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, Anton Gerashchenko, wrote on Telegram that Moscow did not say “whether the poisoning could have been caused by expired canned meat,” noting that Russian soldiers have long complained of inadequate supplies.
  • Ukraine paraded defunct Russian tanks through the streets of Kyiv on Saturday. The display of “rusty Russian metal is a reminder to all dictators how their plans may be ruined by a free and courageous nation,” Ukraine’s armed forces said. Residents of the capital posed for photos next to the tanks, even as air raid sirens rang out, The Washington Post’s Liz Sly reported.

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  • Putin said he supports allowing United Nations experts to inspect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant “as soon as possible” and agreed to provide “necessary assistance” during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron. However, Moscow has rejected broader requests to withdraw its military from the site, and has accused Ukraine of shelling the facility and preparing to cause a “radiation leak” there — claims Ukraine and the United States have likened to a “false flag” operation.
  • Two more ships carrying grain and sunflower oil have left Ukraine, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Saturday. The ships left the port of Chornomorsk, close to Odessa in southwest Ukraine, bringing the total number of ships to leave under a deal backed by the U.N. and Turkey to 27.
  • The United States has presented to NATO officials instruments of ratification for Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the military alliance, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. The war has seen moves to expand NATO, and Blinken said handing in the documents was “the final step in our process to have these important partners become vital NATO Allies.”

Spotlight: Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

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The Post’s Claire Parker outlines what to know about Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and the risks of fighting there, as warnings of a possible imminent attack on the plant in southeastern Ukraine have sent some nearby residents fleeing over the threat of nuclear catastrophe.

The intelligence arm of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said that Russia indefinitely extended an order for workers at the plant to stay home. It said this could be a sign of Russia’s intention “to disconnect the station from Ukrainian power grids and power supply.” Such a move, it said, would cause emergency power supplies to kick in and increase the risk of “critical situations.”

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A Russian soldier’s journal: ‘I will not participate in this madness’: The damning 141-page journal of Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatyev, who spent more than a month fighting in Ukraine, describes an army in disarray, The Post’s Mary Ilyushina reports from Riga, Latvia. Filatyev went to Ukraine “after his poorly equipped unit was ordered to march from its base in Crimea for what commanders called a routine exercise,” she writes.

His journal, which is “the most detailed day-by-day account to date of the attacks on Kherson and Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine as seen through the eyes of a Russian soldier,” details “commanders clueless and terrified, equipment old and rusty, troops pillaging occupied areas in search of food because of a lack of provisions, morale plummeting as the campaign stalled.”

“They simply decided to shower Ukraine with our corpses in this war,” he wrote.

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