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Ukraine braces for Russia’s wrath after car bombing

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Ukraine braces for Russia’s wrath after car bombing

Estonian Foreign Affairs Minister Urmas Reinsalu dismissed as a “provocation” the Kremlin’s claims that the perpetrator of a deadly car bombing outside Moscow had fled to Estonia.

Reinsalu said on Estonian TV that the claim was the latest “in a very long line of provocations by the Russian Federation, and we have nothing more to say about it at the moment.” Reinsalu said the claim was an attempt by the Russian regime to put pressure on Estonia for its support for Ukraine in the war.

The US State Department issued an alert Tuesday urging Americans in Ukraine to leave the country immediately, citing concerns that Russia will increase missile strikes.

The warning comes amid a public outcry in Russia over a car bomb that killed a hardline Russian commentator outside Moscow on Saturday. Hundreds of people lined up Tuesday to pay tribute to Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of right-wing Russian political philosopher Alexander Dugin, who was widely believed to be the intended target.

Ukraine banned large public gatherings that had been planned for Wednesday, Ukraine’s Independence Day that marks its break from the Soviet Union.

Latest developments:

►No breakthroughs appear to have come out of a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as the conflict with Russia approaches the six-month mark with no end in sight.

►The 25th grain-carrying cargo ship has left Ukraine under a deal with Russia brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to unblock Ukraine’s ports, according to Agence France-Presse.

SIX MONTHS INTO THE WAR: The entire world is losing. Will this conflict ever end?

UKRANIAN REFUGEES IN THE US: Long-term survival is a big concern. Here’s why.

Ukraine soccer league plays first game since invasion

The Ukrainian soccer league kicked off its new season after a poignant ceremony paying tribute to those fighting in the war with Russia. The opening match at Kyiv’s empty, 65,500-seat Olympic stadium featured two teams from the war-torn east, Shaktar Donetsk and Metalist 1925. Players entered the field with Ukranian flags draped over their shoulders and observed a minute of silence while the names of cities where people had died in the war were displayed on a large screen.

The first top-level soccer match played in the country since Russia’s invasion in February ended in a 0-0 draw.

Rodman’s plan to help Brittney Griner may backfire, experts warn

Dennis Rodman has once again inserted himself into US diplomatic relations, this time in an effort to free detained WNBA star Brittney Griner. He told NBC News he plans to travel to Russia to “help that girl.” But his contributions to the negotiations — if Russia even chooses to pay attention to him — will be minimal, or could even hurt Griner’s case, experts say.

Rodman, the enigmatic three-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer, made his first foray into attempting peace with US adversaries by bonding with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over basketball. The current task would be negotiating with Russia for the release of Griner, who was convicted on drug charges and sentenced to nine years in prison earlier this month (she is currently appealing).

State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Rodman would not be traveling on behalf of the US government and “anything other than negotiating further through the established channel is likely to complicate and hinder those release efforts.” Read more here.

— Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY

Contributing: The Associated Press

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