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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Aug 26 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the world narrowly avoided a radiation disaster as electricity to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was cut for hours due to Russian shelling in the area, allegations that Moscow denied.

FIGHTING

* Russia's defence ministry said it had destroyed eight Ukrainian warplanes in strikes at air bases in Ukraine's Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk regions. That would be one of the heaviest losses for Ukraine's air force in recent weeks.

* As the war entered its seventh month, Russia said its forces had struck a railway station in eastern Ukraine the previous day, confirming an attack which Kyiv says also hit a residential area and killed 25 civilians as the nation marked its Independence Day.

* The Russian Defence Ministry said an Iskander missile had hit a military train at Chaplyne station that had been set to deliver arms to Ukrainian forces on frontlines in the eastern Donbas region.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to increase the size of Russia's armed forces from 1.9 million to 2.04 million as the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month.

DIPLOMACY, ECONOMY

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had "a great conversation" with U.S. President Joe Biden and thanked him for his support in the war against Russia, adding that they discussed next steps "on our path to victory".

* IAEA officials are "very, very close" to being able to visit Zaporizhzhia, agency Director-General Rafael Grossi said.

* The top United Nations official in Ukraine said she was shocked by military strikes that killed children and other civilians in the town of Chaplyne on Wednesday, and called on all parties to adhere to international law.

* U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on Putin to halt armed attacks on Ukraine and said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must be demilitarized.

* Ukraine's economy should stabilise over the coming year and expand by as much as 15.5% in 2023, depending on military developments in the war against Russia, the country's economy minister told Reuters in an interview.

(Compiled by Cynthia Osterman and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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