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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

Aug 17 (Reuters) - Russia denounced sabotage and Ukraine hinted at responsibility for new explosions at a military base in Russian-annexed Crimea that is an important war supply line.

FIGHTING

* Russia blamed saboteurs for orchestrating a series of explosions at an ammunition depot in Crimea, a rare admission that armed groups loyal to Ukraine are damaging military logistics and supply lines on territory it controls.

* Plumes of black smoke were seen on Tuesday at a Russian military air base near the settlement of Hvardiyske in the centre of Russian-controlled Crimea, Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported.

* Reuters could not confirm battlefield reports independently.

DIPLOMACY

* U.N. Secretary-General Guterres will meet Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in Lviv in western Ukraine on Thursday and discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, along with finding a political solution to the conflict, a spokesman said.

* Finland will slash the number of visas issued to Russians to 10% of the current amount from Sept. 1 and along with Baltic states propose the European Union discontinues an agreement with Russia that makes it easier for Russians to travel in the EU, the foreign minister said.

ECONOMY

* Russia's economy will contract less than expected and inflation will not be as high as projected three months ago, the economy ministry forecasts seen by Reuters showed, suggesting it is dealing with sanctions better than initially feared.

* Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom said Russian-based hackers carried out a three-hour attack on its website but had not caused significant problems.

FOOD

* The first ship to depart Ukraine under a U.N.-brokered deal to resume grain exports two weeks ago was docked in Syria's Tartous, according to a shipping source and satellite data.

* The ship Brave Commander left the port of Pivdennyi carrying the first cargo of food aid bound for Africa from Ukraine since the invasion.

* The U.N.'s Guterres plans to meet Turkish President Erdogan, a spokesman said, and on Friday visit the Black Sea port of Odesa.

* Ukraine can export 3 million tonnes of grain from its ports in September and may in the future be able to export 4 million tonnes from them monthly, a government official said. (Compiled by Grant McCool)

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