- US President Joe Biden asks Congress for $33bn to support Ukraine.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrives in Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- Ukraine’s military says Russian offensive in east picks up momentum, with Russian forces “exerting intense fire”.
- The Kremlin warns that arms deliveries to Ukraine are dangerous for European security.
Here are all the latest updates:
Germany’s Scholz visits ally Japan, not China, on first Asian trip
Germany seeks closer ties with countries that share democratic values in the Asia-Pacific region, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said, visiting Japan rather than top trading partner China during his first official trip to the region.
“It is no coincidence that my first trip as chancellor to this region has led today here, to Tokyo,” he said. “My trip is a clear political signal that Germany and the EU will continue and intensify their engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.”
In a joint news conference, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida underscored the two countries’ rejection of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and warned of possible attempts also in Asia to move territorial boundaries by force.
Europe struggles for clarity on Russia’s roubles-for-gas scheme
The European Commission has warned buyers of Russian gas they could breach sanctions if they converted gas payments into roubles, as officials struggled to clarify the EU’s stance on Moscow’s payments scheme.
Russian gas giant Gazprom cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday after they refused to pay for gas in roubles.
Speaking at a briefing, a senior EU official said that if EU buyers declare their payments for gas are completed once the payment has been made in euros and before it is converted into roubles, sanctions would have been respected.
Ukraine says identified ‘more than 8,000 cases’ of suspected war crimes
Ukrainian investigators have identified more than 8,000 cases of suspected war crimes since Russia’s invasion, prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova has told a German TV channel.
“It’s actually 8,600 cases only about war crimes, and more than 4,000 cases that are connected with war crimes,” Venediktova told the Deutsche Welle broadcaster.
Kiev: 35 of 49 heads of administration in Kherson region abducted
The heads of 35 of the 49 administrative units have been kidnapped in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson since the war began, a top official in Kyiv has said.
Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, wrote on Telegram that “17 of them have been released, but many are in captivity”.
Russian troops “abduct and torture residents of temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories, they loot world cultural heritage sites,” she said.
Biden says Russia should stop ‘idle’ threats of nuclear war
Biden has blasted Moscow for “idle comments” on the possible use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, saying such talk showed Russia’s “desperation”.
“No one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons or the possibility that they would use that. It’s irresponsible,” Biden said.
Two powerful blasts heard in Russian city near Ukraine border: Witnesses
Two powerful blasts were heard in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, two witnesses have told Reuters.
Russia has in recent days reported what it says are a series of attacks by Ukrainian forces on Russian regions which border Ukraine, and has warned that such attacks raise a risk of significant escalation.
Ukraine has not directly accepted responsibility but has described the incidents as payback and “karma” for Russia.
Some Russian forces leaving Mariupol: US Official
The US has seen indications that some Russian forces are leaving the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and moving towards the northwest even as fighting for the port city continues, a senior US defence official has said.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in addition to training Ukrainian forces on the howitzers, training was continuing outside of Ukraine for a mobile radar system and the M113 armoured personnel carrier.
“I’m not going to detail what country or where this training is happening,” the official said.
US ‘will not let Russia intimidate’ Europe with energy cuts: Biden
Biden has said that the US will not let Russia use “gas blackmail” to pressure European allies and to undermine sanctions placed on Moscow.
“We will not let Russia intimidate or blackmail their way out of these sanctions. We will not allow them to use their oil and gas to avoid consequences for their aggression,” Biden said.
Biden says backing Ukraine ‘not cheap’ but US can’t ‘stand by’
US President Joe Biden has asked Congress for $33bn more for Ukraine, saying it was “not cheap” but that Washington could not stand by in the face of Russia’s “atrocities and aggression”.
Biden stressed that the US was “not attacking Russia” despite Moscow’s “disturbing rhetoric,” even as he said that already the US has supplied Ukraine with 10 lethal anti-armour weapons systems for every tank Russia has sent into the country.
“We’re not attacking Russia. We are helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression,” Biden said.
Biden seeks $33bn for Ukraine
Biden has asked Congress for $33bn to support Ukraine, a dramatic escalation of US funding for the war against Russia, as well as new legal tools to siphon assets from Russian oligarchs.
The vast funding request includes more than $20bn for weapons, ammunition and other military assistance, as well as $8.5bn in direct economic assistance to the government and $3bn in humanitarian and food security aid.
“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said at the White House. “The cost of this fight, it’s not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly.”
‘Critical’ for Congress to pass Ukraine aid bill: Biden
In a televised statement, Biden has said it’s “critical” for Congress to pass a massive Ukraine aid bill and that “caving to aggression is going to be more costly”.
Ukraine welcomes back 33 soldiers and 12 civilians in prisoner exchange
Russia has handed more than 33 Ukrainian soldiers, including 13 officers, in an exchange of prisoners of war with Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.
“We are also bringing home 12 civilians,” Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Five of the troops exchanged on Thursday had been wounded, she said.
Vereshchuk did not say how many Russians were involved in the exchange.
Russian missile wounds 5, including child, in Zaporizhzhia: Prosecutors
A Russian missile has wounded five civilians, including one child, in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizka, prosecutors have said.
In a Telegram message, the General Prosecutor’s Office did not specify the location of the attack, but attached a photo of two houses ruined by the blast.
Russian forces occupied the region’s northeastern part, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
Bulgaria confident it can replace Russian gas supply
Bulgaria can replace its entire Russian gas supply from other sources and will not face a gas shortage in the coming winter, Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev has said.
Russia’s Gazprom cut Bulgaria and Poland off from its gas on Wednesday for refusing to pay in roubles. Bulgaria consumes about three billion cubic metres of gas per year, of which more than 90 percent comes from Russia.
“We can replace the entire Russian gas supply with gas supply from the southern gas corridor, plus LNG deliveries in Greece and Turkey, and that plan is being executed right now,” Vassilev, who is also finance minister, told reporters in Brussels.
“There will be no supply problem, even in the winter.”
One British man killed and another missing in Ukraine: Sky News
A British man has been killed in Ukraine while a second is missing, Sky News has reported, citing the UK’s foreign office.
“We can confirm that a British national has been killed in Ukraine and are supporting their family,” a foreign office spokesperson said, according to Sky News.
Radiation in safe range where Chernobyl soil was dug up, IAEA says
Radiation levels in a part of Chernobyl’s exclusion zone where Ukraine has said Russian troops dug trenches in the highly contaminated soil are elevated but still well within the safe range, the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief has said.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi travelled to Chernobyl this week with IAEA staff to bring equipment and check radiation levels at the site which includes radioactive waste facilities near the now-defunct power plant that in 1986 suffered the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
“There was an increase [in radiation levels] but this increase is still significantly below the authorised levels for workers in an environment with this type of radiation,” Grossi told a news conference.
Biden to seek $33bn for Ukraine, a massive jump in funding
Biden will ask Congress on Thursday for $33bn to support Ukraine, a significant increase of US funding for its war against Russia, as well as new legal tools to tighten sanctions and siphon assets from Russian oligarchs, US officials have said.
The vast funding request includes over $20bn for weapons, ammunition and other military assistance, as well as $8.5bn in direct economic assistance to the government and $3bn in humanitarian and food security aid.
Dutch military police to help Ukraine investigate war crimes: ANP
The Dutch government is likely to send a forensic team from the national military police to Ukraine to help investigate possible war crimes, the Dutch press agency ANP has reported.
The team would leave for Ukraine at short notice to help the International Criminal Court gather evidence at sites where war crimes may have been committed, ANP cited sources close to the matter.
The government will make a final decision on the mission on Friday, the sources said.
In Bulgaria’s ‘Little Moscow’, Russians help Ukrainian refugees
Pomorie, Bulgaria – In the lobby of the Sunny Bay hotel in Pomorie, a coastal town in southeastern Bulgaria, dozens of passports belonging to Ukrainian nationals are strewn across a table.
Several refugees are housed here, having fled the war with Russia, and are now heading to the police station – with their passports – to get registered, as per Bulgarian law.
Mihail Stepanov, a tall man whose sunglasses rest on his head, leads a small team of volunteers who will help the newcomers.
Read the story by Antoaneta Roussi here.
Biden seeks powers to use Russian oligarchs’ assets for Ukraine
United States President Joe Biden is requesting from Congress new powers to seize and repurpose Russian oligarchs’ assets.
The request is part of a larger funding proposal for aid for Ukraine as it continues to try to repel Russia’s invasion launched on February 24.
Read about it here.
Ukraine, Bulgaria reach agreement on shipping Ukrainian grain via Varna
Ukraine and Bulgaria have reached an agreement on transporting Ukrainian grain via the Bulgarian port of Varna, Zelenskyy has said after talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
He gave no timeline and provided no details of the volumes of grain to be shipped via Varna on the Black Sea. Ukrainian exports have been hit by Russia’s invasion.
“Bulgaria will be more than happy to have Varna as a logistics hub for grains and sunflowers and distribute all the grains that you cannot through your ports,” Petkov told a joint news conference in Kyiv.
Swedish PM rejects referendum on possible NATO membership
Sweden’s government does not plan to hold a referendum if its parliament decides to proceed with an application for NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has said.
Andersson said that a referendum was a “bad idea”. “I don’t think it is an issue that is suitable for a referendum,” she told reporters.
“There is a lot of information about national security that is confidential, so there are important issues in such a referendum that cannot be discussed and important facts that cannot be put on the table.”
100,000 civilians in Mariupol face epidemics: Mayor
The mayor of Mariupol has said that almost 100,000 civilians blocked in the southern Ukrainian city could face devastating and potentially lethal epidemics.
Cholera, dysentery and coli are among the infections that could emerge in Mariupol as the temperatures already exceed 20 Celsius, Vadym Boychenko said.
The infections may be spread through “centralised water supply, sewage and thousands of corpses under the rubbles, through the catastrophic damage of drinking water and food,” the fugitive mayor wrote on Telegram.
The Russian forces “bloc all the evacuation routes. And without them, people will die,” he wrote.
Putin declared last week that Mariupol was “liberated” from Ukrainian forces.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
Dozens of bombs hit hospital in Mariupol
Dozens of heavy Russian bombs have destroyed a hospital inside Azovstal, a steel plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol where hundreds of servicemen and civilians have been holed up, a Ukrainian serviceman has said.
Russian heavy bombers and fighter jets bombed the plant last night, hitting the hospital, Oleksandr Vershinin of the Azov battalion that defends Mariupol said in a voice message posted on YouTube by the Mariupol public television.
“There are dead, there are wounded. Again,” he said without specifying the casualties.
Last week, Putin declared Mariupol “liberated” from Ukrainian forces – and ordered his forces to isolate the plant “so that a fly can’t get through”.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
Ukraine investigating 10 Russian troops over Bucha: Prosecutors
Ukrainian prosecutors have said they are investigating 10 Russian soldiers suspected of committing war crimes in Bucha, where bodies in civilian clothes were found dead after Moscow’s troops retreated.
“Ten servicemen of the 64th motorised infantry brigade of the Russian armed forces, part of the 35th army, are suspected of cruel treatment of civilians and other violations of laws and customs of war,” the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said in a statement.
Gazprom says Poland is still buying Russian gas in Germany
Russia’s Gazprom has said that Poland is still buying Russian gas in Germany and that reverse supplies to Poland via the Yamal pipeline amount to around 30 million cubic metres per day.
Gazprom halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday over their refusal to pay in roubles, and threatened to do the same to others.
Kherson may become part of Crimea: Mayor
Russia may make the occupied southern Ukrainian region of Khersonska part of annexed Crimea, the mayor has said.
Ukrainian officials claimed that Moscow planned to hold a referendum to declare Khersonska’s “independence” from Ukraine. But the fugitive mayor of the region’s capital said that Moscow may “adjust” it to the Black Sea peninsula it borders instead.
“What I see is that there will be no referendum. I think that they plan to, first of all, adjust the region to” Crimea, Ihor Kolyvaev told the NV.ua publication.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
Ex-Marine Reed back in US after prisoner swap with Russia
US ex-Marine Trevor Reed arrived back in the United States, his spokesperson has said, after being freed by Russia in a prisoner swap.
Reed was released on Wednesday on an airport tarmac in Ankara, Turkey, in exchange for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko.
Senior US officials said the 30-year-old was in “good spirits” despite some health issues. Reed’s parents said earlier he would be taken to a military hospital for monitoring.
Biden looks to Congress and oligarchs for more cash to help Ukraine
US President Joe Biden will ask Congress for new funds to support Ukraine’s military, as well as new legal tools to tighten sanctions and siphon assets from Russian oligarchs.
He is expected to put forward a proposal for lawmakers to hand his administration new capabilities, letting US officials seize more oligarchs’ assets, give the cash from those seizures to Ukraine and further criminalise sanctions dodging, the White House said.
Scholz says Germany must prepare for possible Russian gas export stop
Germany is preparing for the eventuality Russia stops gas exports given it can only speculate about what the Kremlin will decide to do, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said during a trip to Tokyo.
“One has to prepare for it and, as I said, we started that before the war broke out and we know what we have to do,” he said at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Ukraine welcomes German decision to send weapons
Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak has welcomed a vote by Germany’s lower house of parliament backing the delivery of weapons, including heavy arms, to Kyiv.
“This vote will go down in history as one of the last nails in the coffin of Putin’s lobbying in Europe,” he said in a Tweet.
Germany has said its word. 586 votes for providing Ukraine with heavy weapons! Impressive unity of the Bundestag. This vote will go down in history as one of the last nails in the coffin of Putin’s lobbying in Europe and as the return of 🇩🇪 leadership.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 28, 2022
US accuses Russia of planning to shut down Ukrainian democracy
The United States has accused Russia of planning to short-circuit Ukrainian democracy by forcing the government from power and dismantling local authorities.
“We have information that Russia’s planning for its further invasion of Ukraine includes a forced capitulation of Ukraine’s democratically elected government, including dissolving all local municipal governments in Ukraine,” US Ambassador Michael Carpenter said in an address to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperating in Europe (OSCE).
“New governance structures were to be set up in ‘liberated’ territories under Russian control,” he added in the speech posted online.
Carpenter also referred to Russia’s invasion in a Tweet as a “wholly barbaric enterprise”.
Invading a neighboring country, removing its legitimately elected government, herding its population into “filtration” camps, & holding sham referenda in an attempt to cover its aggression with a false veneer of legitimacy is a wholly barbaric enterprise. https://t.co/wyOAdJqTzn pic.twitter.com/vl9jDbzojv
— Michael Carpenter, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE (@USAmbOSCE) April 28, 2022
Russia not allowing evacuation from Mariupol steel works: Local official
Russia is not allowing wounded Ukrainian fighters to be evacuated from the Azovstal steel works where they are holed up in the southern city of Mariupol, the local governor has said.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Donetsk region’s governor, said Russia was also not allowing humanitarian corridors to be established to evacuate civilians in the region. But he said only 370,000 residents remain in Ukrainian-controlled parts of the Donetsk region compared with 1.67 million before Russia’s invasion.
Russia says it has not received response from Ukraine to latest peace proposal
Russia has still not received a response from Ukraine regarding its latest proposals for a possible peace agreement, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said.
“As of this morning, at the time of preparing for the briefing, the Russian side has not received an answer,” she said.
Ex-PM says Russia will threaten Finland after NATO application
Finland’s former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has told Al Jazeera that after its NATO application in mid-May, Helsinki will likely experience hybrid threats, cyberthreats and an “information war”.
“We’re prepared for that,” Stubb, who has long been in favour of joining the alliance, said.
Read the story here.
Brussels says EU states agree they are not willing to pay for Russian gas in roubles
EU countries all agree that they will not pay Russia directly in roubles for their imports of gas, noting that the deadline for next payments was expected to be May 20, a senior European Union official has said.
“What we do know, and there is consensus on this from all member states, is that none is willing to pay” in roubles, the official told a news briefing, adding that the EU Commission did not have an overview of how many buyers have opened accounts for gas payments with Gazprombank.
Weapons deliveries to Ukraine threaten European security: Kremlin
The Kremlin has said Western arms deliveries to Ukraine are dangerous for European security.
“The tendency to pump weapons, including heavy weapons into Ukraine – these are the actions that threaten the security of the continent, provoke instability,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Ukraine says Russian offensive in east picks up momentum
Russia’s offensive in the east has picked up momentum, with several towns coming under intense attack as Moscow’s forces attempt to surround Ukrainian troops, according to the General Staff of Ukraine’s military.
Russian forces were “exerting intense fire” in several places as they pushed on with the second phase of their invasion, it said, adding that over the past 24 hours the Ukrainian forces have repelled six attacks in the Donbas.
Russia accuses OSCE of handing information to Western intelligence
Russia has accused the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which has a monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine, of handing information on the location of Russian and pro-Russian forces to Western and Ukrainian intelligence.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova made the allegation during a briefing with reporters but did not provide evidence. She said investigators from the self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, which is backed by Russia, would provide additional proof.
World recognises Ukraine’s right to defend itself: Presidential aide
A Ukrainian presidential aide has said the world recognises that his country has the right to defend itself by carrying out attacks on Russian military bases and warehouses.
“Russia has attacked and [is] killing civilians. Ukraine will defend itself in any way, including strikes on the warehouses and bases of the killers. The world recognises this right,” presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
Ukraine should decide whether to strike 🇷🇺 military facilities, @SecBlinken said. Russia has attacked 🇺🇦 and killing civilians. Ukraine will defend itself in any way, including strikes on the warehouses and bases of the killers 🇷🇺. The world recognizes this right.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 28, 2022
Moscow accuses West of inciting Ukrainian attacks on Russia
Western countries are openly calling on Ukraine to attack Russia, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said, adding that the West should take Moscow seriously when it says attacks on Russian territory will lead to a response.
Russia reported a series of blasts in the south of the country and a fire at an ammunition depot on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of incidents that a top Ukrainian official described as payback for Moscow’s invasion.
Poland says countries paying for Russian gas in roubles should be penalised
The European Union should penalise countries that use roubles to pay for Russian gas, Poland’s climate minister has said, following Moscow’s decision to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over their refusal to do so.
The main EU member states resisting tougher gas sanctions on Russia are Austria, Germany and Hungary. “We are counting on there being consequences for these countries and that as a result they will cease paying in roubles,” Anna Moskwa told private broadcaster Polsat News.
EU member states appear split on how they can keep paying for gas without breaching European sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Poland, one of the EU’s staunchest proponents of punitive sanctions against Moscow, says the bloc should ban purchases of Russian gas altogether.
Russia lost 22,800 soldiers: Ukraine’s military
Russia’s losses in Ukraine amount to 22,800 servicemen, including 400 in the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces has said.
Moscow also lost 970 tanks, 2,389 armoured vehicles, 187 planes and 155 helicopters since the invasion began on February 24, it said on Facebook.
In late March, Moscow said that 1,351 troops were killed and about 4,000 were wounded. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov admitted in early April that Russia has suffered “significant losses”.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
UK says Ukraine can attack Russian logistics, unlikely to use its weapons
British defence secretary Ben Wallace has said it would be legitimate for Ukrainian forces to target Russian logistics to cripple their supply of food, fuel and munitions but they were unlikely to use British weapons to do so.
“Part of defending itself in this type of invasion is obviously where Ukraine will go after the supply lines of the Russian army because without fuel and food and ammunition, the Russian army grinds to a halt and can no longer continue its invasion,” he told BBC.
Wallace said the United Kingdom had sent artillery to Ukraine that was being used within Ukraine on Russian forces, but he added that it had not, and was unlikely, to send weapons that could be used for longer-range attacks.
German parliament approves petition to deliver heavy arms to Ukraine
Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a petition backing the delivery of weapons including heavy arms to Ukraine.
“Alongside the broad economic isolation and decoupling of Russia from international markets, the most important and effective means to stop the Russian invasion is to intensify and speed up the delivery of effective weapons and complex systems including heavy arms,” it read.
The petition was backed by both the three parties in the governing coalition, as well as the opposition conservatives, passing with 586 votes in favour, 100 against and seven abstentions, according to Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki.
Ukraine can cover its energy needs for now: Senior parliamentarian
The head of Ukrainian parliament’s energy committee has said Ukraine has enough gas and electricity to meet its needs at the moment, but it is less certain it will be able to do so in the late autumn.
“Today, if we talk about gas volumes, we have enough. We consume less gas than is produced and even today gas is pumped into underground storage facilities,” Andriy Herus said on national television. “The same goes for electricity.”
“There are enough gas and electricity resources in the country,” he added.
Guterres urges Russia to cooperate with ICC on Ukraine
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Russia to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on investigations into possible war crimes carried out during its invasion of Ukraine.
“I fully support the ICC and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept, to cooperate with the ICC. But when we talk about war crimes, we cannot forget that the worst of crimes is war itself,” the UN’s chief said during a visit to Bucha outside Kyiv, where hundreds of dead civilians were discovered after Russian troops pulled out.
Finland and Sweden could join NATO quickly: Stoltenberg
Finland and Sweden will be able to join NATO quickly should they decide to ask for membership in the Western military alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
“If they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden will be warmly welcomed and I expect the process to go quickly,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, adding he planned to speak with the Finnish president later in the day.
He said he was sure arrangements could be found for the interim period between an application by the two Scandinavian countries and the formal ratification in the parliaments of all 30 NATO members.
Ukraine says Russia aiming to encircle forces in Donetsk
Russian forces have intensified their efforts to encircle Ukrainians in the southeastern Donetsk region, the General Staff of the Armed Forces has said.
They are also focusing their assault in the eastern Kharkivska region trying to move towards the villages of Sulihivka and Velyka Komyshuvakha that lies close to the Russian border, it said on Facebook.
Russian shelling of the regional capital, Kharkiv, also intensified, it said.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
Russia says it destroyed two ammo depots overnight
Russia’s defence ministry has said its missiles struck four Ukrainian military targets overnight, destroying two missile and ammunition depots near the settlements of Barvinkove and Ivanivka in the east of the country.
It said Russian forces had also downed a Ukrainian Su-24 aircraft near Luhansk.
‘War is an absurdity in 21st century’: UN’s Guterres in Ukraine
UN Secretary-General Guterres has described war as “evil” and absurd during a visit to Borodianka outside Kyiv, where Moscow’s troops are accused of killing civilians during their occupation.
“I imagine my family in one of those houses that is now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running away in panic. The war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil. There is no way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century,” Guterres said.
UK says Ukraine can attack Russian logistics
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said would be legitimate for Ukrainian forces to target Russian logistics but they were unlikely to use British weapons.
Moscow has accused London of provoking Ukraine to attack targets in Russia, saying there would be an immediate “proportional response” if it continued.
“If Ukraine did choose to target logistics infrastructure for the Russian army, that would be legitimate under international law,” Wallace told BBC TV.
Civil defence is trending in Taiwan after Ukraine war
Late one April weeknight, the mood in a basement office workshop in Taipei was surprisingly upbeat as participants took turns wrapping each other in homemade stretchers and learned how to pack a gunshot wound.
The event, organised by non-governmental organisation Forward Alliance, was the first of a series of workshops designed to teach civilians the basics of trauma medicine and the skills to survive an emergency.
The subtropical island sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the Earth’s tectonic plates rub against each other, so it is regularly hit by earthquakes. With typhoons and the occasional flood or rockslide also part of the mix, learning what to expect and how to prepare is an essential skill for many Taiwanese.
But more recently, people have been thinking about Taiwan’s position in yet another hotspot – as the target of China’s ruling Communist Party.
Read more here on Taiwanese civilians attempts to equip themselves for a potential conflict.
IAEA chief calls for access to Europe’s largest nuclear plant
Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has called for access to the nuclear plant in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia, saying the level of safety there is like a “red light blinking”.
The plant – Europe’s largest nuclear facility – is currently under Russian occupation.
Grossi told The Associated Press that IAEA needs to reestablish connections with the plant, which also requires repairs.
“And all of this is not happening,” he said. “So this is a pending issue. This is a red light blinking.”
Putin set to dig in like ‘a cancerous growth’ in Ukraine: Wallace
British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says Russian President Vladimir Putin may seek to consolidate what he has got in Ukraine and dig in, like a “cancerous growth” within the country.
“You can see in his current statements he is, in almost desperation, trying to broaden this either with threats or indeed, with potential false flags or attacks,” he told Sky News on Thursday
“I think it’s certainly the case that Putin, having failed in nearly all his objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got, sort of fortify and dig in as he did in 2014. Just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country in Ukraine and make it very hard for people to move them out of those fortified positions.”
Russia’s Black Sea fleets retains ability to attack Ukraine: UK
The British Ministry of Defence says Russia’s Black Sea fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets, despite its losses of the landing ship Saratov and the cruiser Moskva.
In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said about 20 Russian Navy vessels, including submarines, are in the Black Sea operational zone.
“The Bosphorus Strait remains closed to all non-Turkish warships, rendering Russia unable to replace its lost cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea,” it added.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 28 April 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/kGpbSP2o7L
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 28, 2022
Air defence activated in Russia’s Belgorod: Report
Russia’s TASS news agency says air defence systems have been activated in the Russian city of Belgorod.
It cited the local government saying that the systems were activated in the early hours of Thursday.
The Belgorod province borders Ukraine’s Luhansk, Sumy and Kharkivska regions, all of which have seen heavy fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine two months ago. Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out strikes on targets in the region.
Global pledges of justice for Ukraine war crime victims
For the first time, key players seeking accountability for atrocities during the Ukraine war have come together at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council to press for investigations into abuses that many Western countries blame on Russia.
The session on Wednesday included the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, the chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry, Ukraine’s top prosecutor and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.
They pledged to bring to justice any perpetrators of war crimes committed in Ukraine.
Albanian foreign minister Olta Xhacka, who co-sponsored and chaired the meeting, said that as a veto-holding member of the Security Council, Russia is supposed to be a guardian of international peace but has “embarked on a war of choice against a neighbour committing immeasurable crimes in the process”.
France’s deputy UN ambassador, Nathalie Broadhurst, the other co-sponsor, said the images of atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha and other areas after Russian forces withdrew “are unbearable” and may amount to war crimes.
The legal chief at Russia’s UN mission, Sergey Leonidchenko, dismissed their statements, saying: “What we heard today was another portion of unsubstantiated claims and even fakes seasoned with lies, hypocrisy and pompous rhetoric.”
US energy industries on ‘war footing’: Official
US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm has said that Russia’s war on Ukraine “screams” that the world needs to stop importing oil and gas from Russia and instead move towards other forms of energy.
At an international forum on offshore wind energy in Atlantic City, Granholm said the US as well as its energy industries “are on a war footing,” and called for a rapid acceleration of renewable energy including offshore wind power.
“Russia is waging a war in Ukraine and the imperative to move away from Russian oil and gas, for the world to move away from Russian oil and gas screams that there is an imperative that we electrify,” said Granholm, the former Michigan governor.
“Offshore wind is just a huge component in that.”
Timeline: Week nine of Russia’s war in Ukraine
Russian forces intensified attacks in southeastern Ukraine during the ninth week of their invasion as several hundred Ukrainian troops continued to hold out in Mariupol.
Here’s a recap of the key events of the past week.
Will Russia succeed in seizing southwestern Ukraine?
After failing to capture the capital, Kyiv, and northern Ukraine, Russian forces are now focusing on completing their conquest of the south.
They have claimed complete control of the region of Kherson, but their offensives in Mykolaiv and Odesa have been far less successful.
Read more here.
Kherson blasts knock Russian channels off air
Ukrainian and Russian media say explosions near a television tower in Kherson city temporarily knocked Russian channels off the air.
Ukrayinska Pravda, an online newspaper, said the strikes set off a fire and caused Russian television channels to go off air.
RIA Novosti said the broadcast later resumed. It said Russian channels began broadcasting from Kherson last week.
Ukrainian forces prevented six Russian attacks in Luhansk, Donetsk: Military
Ukraine’s military says its forces prevented six Russian attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Wednesday.
It also said Ukrainian forces destroyed five tanks, one artillery system, 21 armoured vehicles, one armoured combat vehicle, one car and one anti-aircraft installation.
ICC prosecutor says ‘it’s time for action’ in Ukraine
The chief prosecutor of International Criminal Court has called for accountability for war crimes committed in Ukraine.
“This is not really a time for talking. It’s a time for action. International law cannot be a passive spectator,” Karim Asad Ahmad Khan told reporters after a meeting of the UN Security Council. “It needs to move with alacrity to protect and to insist on accountability.”
Khan said he was neither in favour nor against Russia or Ukraine.
“We are in favour of the law, which is in favour of humanity, which is to protect humanity,” he said.
“We should feel ashamed that in 2022 we continue, in so many parts of the world, to see violence that may constitute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
Kherson to transition to rouble on May 1: Report
The southern Ukrainian region of Kherson will start transitioning to Russia’s currency from May 1, the RIA news agency has reported, citing the deputy chairman of the region’s military-civilian administration.
According to the official, the transition period will take up to four months, during which time both the Russian rouble and the Ukrainian hryvnia will circulate.
Russia claims it has taken control of the entire Kherson region and, according to RIA, has launched Russian television and radio broadcasting there. The report also said the local population has begun “to use Russian roubles more widely in settlements”.
Biden to speak on support for Ukraine
US President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on Thursday morning “on support for Ukrainians defending their country and their freedom against Russia’s brutal war,” the White House has said.
Ukrainian forces fired a Tochka-U missile at Kherson: Russian media
Russia’s RIA news agency says Ukrainian forces in the Mykolaoiv region used the Tochka-U ballistic missile in an attack targeting Kherson’s city centre.
Rights groups say the weapon is extremely inaccurate and must not be used in war.
A RIA journalist who witnessed the attack said: “First, there was an explosion from the Hurricane [rocket launcher system], they are usually launched before the Tochka-U to confuse the air defence. There was one explosion (from the Hurricane), then there was firing (air defence systems) … then I saw a flash in the sky, it was clear that it was flying from the side of the Nikolaev [Mykolaiv] region, from the northwest.”
He added that several large explosions followed and that he saw fragments of the Tochka-U on the ground.
The Tochka-U rocket was used in an attack on the Kramatorsk railway station on April 8. At least 57 people died.
UK’s Truss calls Russia ‘a desperate rogue operator’
British foreign secretary Liz Truss has described Russia as a “desperate rogue operator with no interest in international norms” as she called for more heavy weapons to be sent to Ukraine.
Delivering her annual foreign policy speech at Mansion House, the residence of London’s mayor, Truss said Russia was less rational than the Soviet Union. Although the Soviet Union inflicted “many evils” and regularly used their veto in the Security Council, “even they behaved with some kind of rationality on the world stage”, she said.
“They were able to stick to deals when they saw risks to strategic stability, as they did with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” she said.
Economic structures developed after World War II and the Cold War have “enabled rather than contained aggression”, she added, accusing Russia of violating several arms control treaties.
Germany was biggest buyer of Russia’s energy in first two months of Ukraine war: Study
Germany bought the most amount of Russian energy during the first two months of the Ukraine war, according to an independent research group.
The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air calculated that Russia has earned 63 billion euros ($66.5bn) from fossil fuel exports since February 24, the date Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
Using data on ship movements, real-time tracking of gas flows through pipelines and estimates based on historical monthly trade, the researchers said Germany alone paid Russia about 9.1 billion euros for fossil fuel deliveries in the first two months of the war.
The German government said it could not comment on estimates and declined to provide any figures of its own, saying these would need to come from companies that procure the coal, oil and gas, the Associated Press has reported.
Ukraine needs 600,000 apartments for those displaced: Official
A senior aide to Ukraine’s president says the country needs almost 600,000 apartments to provide housing for people displaced by conflict.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko made the comment during a meeting of Ukraine’s local and regional authorities, where participants discussed plans for the country’s reconstruction, which one official said would now cost $90bn, according to a statement from Zelenskyy’s office.
Participants made the decision to build some of the necessary apartments from scratch, as well as purchase some ready-made from developers. Zelenskyy also told participants that all new housing in Ukraine must be built with comfortable bomb shelters, and old housing stock should be equipped in accordance with the needs of public safety, the statement said.
More than 50 Ukrainians completed howitzer training: Pentagon
More than 50 Ukrainian forces have completed US howitzer artillery training, a Pentagon spokesperson has said.
John Kirby told reporters that another group of more than 50 Ukrainians would also “go through training in the same location outside Ukraine”.
The howitzers were included as part of two recent US military assistance packages for Ukraine, each totalling $800m.
Zelenskyy praises Kherson protesters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has praised protesters who took part in a pro-Ukraine rally in the occupied city of Kherson.
Russian forces had used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse them.
“I am grateful to everyone who has not given up, who is protesting, who is ignoring the occupiers and showing the marginal people who have become collaborators that there is no future for them,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.
US to begin process of reopening embassy in Kyiv: Blinken
The US will begin the process of reopening its embassy in Kyiv “as quickly but also as safely as possible”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.
“We have diplomats going back to Ukraine this week as we speak to begin the process of looking to reopen the embassy in Kyiv,” Blinken told US legislators, according to a video shared online by the State Department.
He said the US will begin operating out of the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv before operating out of Kyiv.
— Department of State (@StateDept) April 27, 2022
Amal Clooney pushes for Ukraine war crimes justice at UN
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has urged countries at the United Nations to focus on international justice for war crimes in Ukraine so evidence does not sit in storage – as it has done for victims of ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
“Ukraine is, today, a slaughterhouse. Right in the heart of Europe,” Clooney told an informal UN Security Council meeting on accountability in Ukraine organised by France and Albania.
UK foreign minister warns China to play by ‘the rules’
Liz Truss, the British foreign secretary, has warned China that failure to play by global “rules” would cut short its rise as a superpower.
China, which has taken a neutral public position on the war in Ukraine, has faced calls from European nations and the US to pressure Russia to end its invasion.
“They will not continue to rise if they do not play by the rules. China needs trade with the G7. We [the Group of Seven] represent around half of the global economy. And we have choices,” Truss said in a speech in London. “We have shown with Russia the kind of choices that we’re prepared to make when international rules are violated.”
US House of Representatives passes bill to help rebuild Ukraine
The US House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill that would encourage the use of sanctioned Russian assets to help rebuild Ukraine.
The bill was introduced by representative Tom Malinowski from New Jersey and Joe Wilson from South Carolina.
“It’s hard to imagine giving Russia’s wealth back to Putin while Ukrainians are burying their dead,” Malinowski said in a tweet. “We must be prepared to use Russia’s frozen assets to rebuild the country they are destroying.”
🚨Tom’s Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act has PASSED the House!🚨
It’s hard to imagine giving Russia’s wealth back to Putin while Ukrainians are burying their dead. We must be prepared to use Russia’s frozen assets to rebuild the country they are destroying.
— Rep. Tom Malinowski (@RepMalinowski) April 27, 2022
Russia coordinating cyberattacks with military strikes: Microsoft
A handful of hacker groups aligned with the Russian government have carried out hundreds of cyberattacks against Ukraine since Moscow invaded, US tech giant Microsoft said in a report.
“Starting just before the invasion, we have seen at least six separate Russia-aligned nation-state actors launch more than 237 operations against Ukraine,” Microsoft said. The company is working with Ukrainian cybersecurity experts and private sector partners to counter such attacks.
It said the cyber warfare included “destructive attacks that are ongoing and threaten civilian welfare”.
Canada legislators vote in favour of calling Russia’s acts ‘genocide’
Canadian politicians have voted unanimously to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide”, with members of parliament saying there was “ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Moscow.
The Canadian Parliament’s motion said war crimes by Russia include mass atrocities, systematic instances of willful killing of Ukrainian civilians, the desecration of corpses, forcible transfer of Ukrainian children, torture, physical harm, mental harm, and rape.
Ukraine fires three rockets at Kherson, a city held by Russia: RIA
Ukraine has fired three rockets at the centre of the southern city of Kherson but Russian occupying forces shot down two of them, the state-owned RIA news agency cited a security source as saying.
An RIA correspondent on the ground had earlier reported a series of powerful explosions near the television centre.
Pentagon says Russian nuclear threats are ‘irresponsible’
Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby has dismissed recent comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who earlier this week warned of a “serious, real” risk of nuclear war.
“The rhetoric that we keep hearing from Russian leaders – and just recently was Minister Lavrov, raising the spectre of nuclear confrontation – is irresponsible,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing.
“It’s certainly not what you would expect from a modern nuclear power, nor should anybody expect from a modern nuclear power,” he said.
US allocating $670m to international emergency food operations
The US Department of Agriculture and the US Agency for International Development will together contribute nearly $700m to international food aid efforts in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the agencies have said.
The money will go to emergency food operations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen. Of the announced sum, $282m will come from the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, which is co-managed by the agencies, while USDA said it would additionally provide $388m for transportation, shipping, and other costs.
The Ukraine war is leading to a “staggering global food crisis”, said USAID Administrator Samantha Power.
Ukraine plans to rename streets linked to Russia
A number of Ukrainian cities plan to rename streets and squares associated with Russia under a process of “de-Russification” following Moscow’s invasion.
Ihor Terekhov, mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, said that as soon as the war with Russia ends he would table a bill to his city council to rename places with Russian-affiliated names.
“Even without these names, there will be too many scars that will remind us for a long time about what kind of neighbour is beyond our eastern and northern borders,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
White House says supplemental Ukraine aid request could come on Thursday
The White House has said that a supplemental budget request that includes aid for Ukraine could be sent to Congress as soon as Thursday.
The plan will cover military, humanitarian and economic assistance for Ukraine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
White House promises to press for release of Paul Whelan
The White House has promised to keep pressing for the unconditional release of former US Marine Paul Whelan, who is imprisoned in Russia and accused of spying.
A US-Russia prisoner swap that obtained the release of Trevor Reed, also a former US Marine, brought a spotlight on Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports.
Whelan was sentenced to 16 years on espionage charges in June 2020.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Wednesday, April 27 here.