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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Aug 24 (Reuters) - At least 15 people were killed and dozens wounded in a Russian rocket strike on a Ukrainian railway station, President Zelenskiy said, as Ukraine marked 31 years since its independence from Moscow-dominated Soviet rule.

The Russian defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

INDEPENDENCE DAY

* Ukraine will never give up its fight for freedom from Russia's domination, Zelenskiy said in emotional speech.

* He said Ukraine would recapture its annexed peninsula of Crimea from Russia by any means.

* On a surprise visit to the capital Kyiv, British Prime Minister Johnson lauded Ukraine for its "indomitable" resistance in six months of war and said now was not the time to promote a "flimsy plan for negotiation" with Moscow.

* Kyiv banned public celebrations of the national holiday and the cities of Kharkiv and Mykolaiv also imposed restrictions for fear of Russian attacks.

FIGHTING

* Russian Defence Minister Shoigu said the slowing pace of Moscow's military campaign was deliberate and aimed at reducing civilian casualties. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russian forces of war crimes and targeting civilians, charges Moscow rejects.

* Ukraine's top military intelligence official said Russia's military offensive was slowing because of moral and physical fatigue in their ranks and Moscow's "exhausted" resource base.

* The Russian-installed head of Mykhailivka in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia region was killed in a car bomb on Tuesday, an official in the region's Russian-backed administration said.

* Two employees of Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant have been detained for passing information to Ukrainian authorities, Russia's National Guard said.

* Reuters could not confirm the battlefield reports.

POLITICS, AID

* Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox church, who backs the war in Ukraine, will not meet when both men attend a gathering of religious leaders in Kazakhstan next month, RIA news agency cited a senior Orthodox official as saying.

* Russian opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman was shown being detained in a video on social media, as authorities punish critics of the war.

* U.S. President Biden marked Ukraine's independence day with a new package of about $3 billion in military aid.

* After six months of war, a slim majority of Americans agree the United States should continue supporting Kyiv until Russia withdraws its forces, a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed.

(Compiled by Hugh Lawson and Grant McCool)

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