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Ukraine-Russia war – live: Putin’s troops redeployed to Bakhmut as Kyiv makes ‘tactical gains’

Russia has “high likely” redeployed troops to the key battle town of Bakhmut after Ukraine forces made tactical gains there, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has said.

It comes amid doubts about the commitment of fighters in Bakhmut belonging to the Russian mercenary group Wagner, whose leader has become increasingly critical of the Kremlin.

Elsewhere, Volodymyr Zelensky is en route to Japan for the Hiroshima G7 summit aboard a French government plane as he marks his first high-level visit to Asia since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

It is not immediately clear when the Ukrainian war-time president will arrive in Hiroshima but he is expected to arrive today, according to a statement by the Japanese government.

His visit comes after a massive boost for Ukraine’s ammunition plan against the Russian invasion as US President Joe Biden told G7 leaders that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, in a significant endorsement as Kyiv seeks to boost its air power against Russia.

Key Points

  • Ukraine making ‘tactical gains’ near Bakhmut

  • Zelensky will reach G7 summit on French government plane – report

  • US to provide F-16 fighter jets in battle against Putin

  • Kyiv destroys all drones launched overnight, official claims

  • Wagner chief again claims his forces close to capturing Bakhmut

  • Ukraine deputy defence minister says Russia on offensive in Bakhmut

  • Zelensky urges Saudi Arabia not to turn blind eye to Putin’s invasion

Zelensky will reach G7 summit on French government plane, report claims

05:29 , Matt Mathers

Volodymyr Zelensky will reach the Hiroshima G7 summit aboard a French government plane, reported CNN citing a diplomatic source.

It is not immediately clear when the Ukrainian war-time president will arrive in Hiroshima but he is expected to reach today, according to a statement by the Japan government.

This comes a day after Mr Zelensky reached Jeddah to attend the Arab League summit also aboard a French government plane, the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia said.

White House: Biden to discuss Ukraine with Brazil’s Lula, India’s Modi

07:20 , Matt Mathers

US  President Joe Biden aims to speak this weekend with Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, about Ukraine and the "sacrosanct" issue of sovereignty and territorial integrity, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday.

Lula and Modi are attending a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations in Hiroshima at the invitation of Japan, this year’s host of the G7, which also includes the US., Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.

Asked if Biden would pressure or urge the two leaders to toughen their approach on China and Russia, Sullivan said, "I think pressure is just the wrong word. I mean, that’s not how President Biden operates with these key leaders with whom he has deep relationships, like President Lula and President Modi."

Instead, Biden would "look for the opportunity to speak with both of them about the constructive role that each country can play in supporting the most basic and fundamental element of any outcome, which is sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is sacrosanct in the (United Nations) Charter," Sullivan told reporters in Hiroshima.

Putin redeploying several battalions to Bakhmut as capture remains key war aim – UK MoD

07:02 , Arpan Rai

Russia has highly likely redeployed up to several battalions to reinforce the Bakhmut sector in the last four days, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said today.

“Russia’s leadership likely continue to see capturing Bakhmut as the key immediate war aim which would allow them to claim some degree of success in the conflict,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on the continuing war.

It added that the amped up redeployment of several troops “follows Ukrainian tactical gains on the flanks of the contested Donetsk Oblast town through mid-May and publicly aired doubts about the commitment of Wagner Group forces to continue fighting in the sector”.

“With Russia likely maintaining relatively few uncommitted combat units in Ukraine, the redeployment represents a notable commitment by the Russian command,” the MoD said.

Britain says Russia will ‘pay the price’ for Ukraine invasion

06:22 , Arpan Rai

Rishi Sunak has issued a warning to Vladimir Putin that he and other Western leaders are “not going away”, at the start of the G7 summit in Japan.

The prime minister said Russia’s president must understand that Western allies of Ukraine are “steadfast” in their support for the country’s resistance against his invasion.

“My message to Putin is straightforward. We’re not going away,” Mr Sunak told Sky News at Hiroshima’s Seifukan tea house shortly before the start of the summit.

Read the full story here:

Britain says Russia will ‘pay the price’ for invasion as fresh sanctions unveiled

Russia puts International Criminal Court prosecutor on wanted list

06:08 , Arpan Rai

Russia has listed International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan on a wanted list following an ICC arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over the forced deportation of Ukrainian children, independent Russian media publication Mediazona reported.

Mr Khan’s photo and personal information are visible on the Interior Ministry’s database, listed as “wanted on felony charges”, the report added.

In early March, the ICC slapped arrest warrants for Mr Putin and Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, holding themm “allegedly responsible” for the illegal transfer and deportation of children from Ukraine and the occupied territories to Russia during its full-scale invasion of the country since last February.

Fallen debris sparks fire in Dnipro, official says

05:33 , Arpan Rai

A fire has been caused by falling debris in the Dnipro district of the capital, Kyiv mayor Vitalii Klitschko said.

“Fire on the roof of a 9-story building in one of the housing complexes in the Dnipro district. All services work on site. Information about the victims has not yet been received,” he said.

Kyiv destroys all drones launched overnight, official claims

05:14 , Arpan Rai

The Ukrainian air defences have managed to shoot down all Russian drones launched overnight, the Kyiv city military administration said.

Air defenses in Kyiv intercepted all Iranian-made Shahed drones launched by Russia, as per the preliminary information overnight on May 20, officials said.

Revealed: Boris Johnson’s first words to Zelensky on night of Russia attack

05:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Volodymyr Zelensky told Boris Johnson “I hope this is not the last time we speak” at the dawn of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the former PM’s comms chief.

Those were among the first words the pair shared during a 4am interaction on the night of the advance in February 2022, Guto Harri said, describing it as a “man-to-man thing” between the PM and the Ukrainian president.

Former GB News presenter Mr Harri told his Unprecedented podcast on Thursday that the two leaders were on the phone within minutes of Mr Johnson being woken to be told the news.

Revealed: Boris Johnson’s first words to Zelensky on night of Russia attack

Remains of Marine veteran killed in Ukraine flown home to US

04:54 , Arpan Rai

The remains of a US marine veteran who was missing in Ukraine for more than a year have been returned to the United States and were headed to his hometown in eastern North Carolina.

A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Istanbul with the remains of retired Marine Capt Grady Kurpasi landed at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport in the early evening yesterday. They were loaded onto a private jet bound for Wilmington, North Carolina.

Kurpasi, a 50-year-old Iraq War veteran, volunteered in February 2022 to help evacuate Ukrainian residents and later fought in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion, according to the Weatherman Foundation, the group that located his remains and repatriated them.

Remains of Marine veteran killed in Ukraine flown home to US

Wagner chief again claims his forces close to capturing Bakhmut

04:44 , Arpan Rai

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian Wagner private army that is leading the assault on the city, said in a Telegram message that “heavy, bloody battles” were continuing and claimed his men were close to completing the capture of Bakhmut itself.

The Wagner chief has made similar claims in the past and followed it up with threats to pull out his mercenary force from Bakhmut due to lack of ammunition supply from Russia.

A Ukrainian mortar unit near the city told Reuters it had advanced this week, but was facing heavy fire from Russian forces who appeared to have significant strength in manpower and stocks of ammunition.

“The fire was intensive this week. Our forces pushed forward a little, stopped near the canal. It’s hard to push them (the Russians) out of there,” said a soldier with the call sign Medvid, which means “bear” in Ukrainian.

The unit’s troops said they were firing around 100 mortar rounds a day at Russian positions. They said their location could not be disclosed.

'Extremely fierce' fighting continues in Bakhmut, says Ukraine

04:22 , Arpan Rai

Russian forces had gained some ground inside Bakhmut but did not control the city in the latest war update from the frontline city in besieged eastern sector, deputy Ukrainian defence minister Hanna Malyar said.

“Extremely fierce fighting continues in the area of Bakhmut. The enemy cannot win with quality, so he tries with quantity,” she said in a Telegram post.

Russia had boosted its number of troops and amounts of ammunition, she said.

“The rate of our troops’ advance in the suburbs of Bakhmut today is somewhat reduced. At the same time, the enemy is unable to regain lost positions – our soldiers repel all enemy attacks in this area,” she said.

While the salt mining city holds little strategic value, Russia attaches significant symbolic value to it and has throw men and ammunition to capture it over the past 10 months.

Moscow regards its assault on Bakhmut as an important part of a campaign to capture the rest of the Donbas region.

US will support joint F-16 training effort for Ukrainian pilots – Biden to G7 allies

04:11 , Arpan Rai

Joe Biden has told leaders in Japan that the US will participate in the F-16 training, and that decisions on providing the jets to Ukraine will come later, officials in the US said.

It is not immediately clear if the US will simply allow other nations to send F-16s to Ukraine, or if the US will also send some.

There are also no estimates on how many jets will be provided to the war-hit nation and when will the deliveries be made.

Officials have acknowledged that it will not be in time for the anticipated spring offensive.

While they have added that the training will begin soon, it is not clear where it will be, how many pilots will be trained and what is going to be the duration of the training.

The US Air Force has two F-16 air wings in Europe: the 31st Fighter Wing at the Aviano Air Base in Italy and the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. The US also routinely sends F-16 fighters in and out of Europe on a rotational basis in smaller groups.

Zelensky to attend G7 Summit in person, confirms Japan

03:57 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the Group of Seven (G7) Hiroshima summit in person tomorrow and hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida during his stay, Japan’s foreign ministry confirmed today.

This comes amid conflicting messages from Kyiv on whether Mr Zelensky would attend the G7 in Japan in person or virtually. The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council said on national television the president would be there, but the council later walked back those remarks, saying Mr Zelensky would join via video link.

The president’s office has not confirmed either way for security reasons so far.

Mr Zelensky will take part in a session regarding peace and security alongside the G7 leaders and invited outreach countries, according to the foreign ministry.

The Ukrainian president is set to arrive in Hiroshima today, and is expected to hold bilateral meetings with other attendees of the G7 summit.

Not flying Zelensky to Japan for G7 meeting, says US

03:50 , Arpan Rai

The United States is not flying Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to Japan, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said today.

The top White House official added that it was a “safe bet” that Joe Biden would directly meet Mr Zelensky in Japan.

Mr Zelensky is set to make his first public appearance at the G7 summit in Japan since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia last year.

The Ukrainian leader will travel from Saudi Arabia to the G7 summit tomorrow, officials in Tokyo said. He will take part in the summit’s session with leaders and take part in a bilateral meeting with Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida.

This is also Mr Zelensky’s first trip to Asia since the war broke out in Europe last year.

Putin claims West is trying to break up Russia into different states

03:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin has said the West is trying to drive a wedge between different ethnic and national groups in Russia.

The Russian President said on Friday the West wants to break the country into lots of different states, according to Reuters.

He added that the more sanctions the West hits Russia with, the greater the level of cohesion within Russian society.

Putin claims West is trying to break up Russia into different states

The Body in the Woods | An Independent TV Original Documentary

02:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

It was a month into Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian forces had withdrawn from around Kyiv and in their wake Bel Trew and her team stumbled on a body by an abandoned Russian camp.

His hands were tied. He had been burned and shot in the back. Soldiers said he was a teenager.

As Bel tried to find out who he was and what had happened, she uncovered a nightmare world: a nation struggling to find thousands of its missing and to identify its dead.

The Body in the Woods by Bel Trew is streaming now on Independent TV and on your smart TV.

The Body in the Woods | An Independent TV Original Documentary

Zelensky accuses some Arab leaders of ‘turning a blind eye’ to Russian invasion of Ukraine

01:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused some Arab leaders of “turning a blind eye” to Russia’s invasion of his country.

The Ukrainian president on Friday attended an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia in an effort to seek support in the region for his war effort.

Appearing to evoke the Arab world’s own history of occupation, he said the leaders in the hall would understand that Ukraine “will never submit to any foreigners or colonisers”, adding: “That’s why we fight.”

But Mr Zelensky added: “Unfortunately, there are some in the world, and here among you, who turn a blind eye to those [prisoner of war] cages and illegal annexations.

“I’m here so that everyone can take an honest look: no matter how hard the Russians try to influence, there must still be independence.”

Zelensky accuses Arab leaders of ‘turning a blind eye’ to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine says it repels attacks as Russia tries to retake land near Bakhmut

Saturday 20 May 2023 00:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine said on Friday it had repelled attacks by Russian forces trying to recapture land they had lost around the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, where Kyiv says it has inflicted heavy Russian casualties.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian Wagner private army that is leading the assault on the city, said in a Telegram message that “heavy, bloody battles” were continuing and claimed his men were close to completing the capture of Bakhmut itself.

He has though made over-optimistic military assessments in the past and Reuters was unable to verify his account.

A Ukrainian mortar unit near the city told Reuters it had advanced this week, but was facing heavy fire from Russian forces who appeared to have significant strength in manpower and stocks of ammunition.

“The fire was intensive this week. Our forces pushed forward a little, stopped near the canal. It’s hard to push them (the Russians) out of there,” said a soldier with the call sign Medvid, which means “bear” in Ukrainian.

The unit’s troops said they were firing around 100 mortar rounds a day at Russian positions. They said their location could not be disclosed.

Ukraine says it has made small advances this week on the flanks of the city in the industrial Donbas region even as Wagner has inched closer to capturing the city itself.

Deputy Ukrainian Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said the Russian forces had gained some ground inside Bakhmut but did not control the city.

“Extremely fierce fighting continues in the area of Bakhmut. The enemy cannot win with quality, so he tries with quantity,” she said in a Telegram post. Russia had boosted its number of troops and amounts of ammunition, she said.

“The rate of our troops’ advance in the suburbs of Bakhmut today is somewhat reduced. At the same time, the enemy is unable to regain lost positions - our soldiers repel all enemy attacks in this area,” she said.

Moscow regards its assault on Bakhmut as an important part of a campaign to capture the rest of the Donbas region.

Russia and Cuba ink deals to revitalize communist-run island's ailing economy

Friday 19 May 2023 23:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian officials and business leaders have signed multiple deals with Cuban counterparts at a forum in Havana this week, agreeing to work together to boost sugar and rum output, assure wheat and crude oil supply to the communist-run island, and overhaul crumbling tourist facilities.

The longtime political allies - both subject to U.S. sanctions - are seeking to cement economic ties by facilitating trade and investment.

“(The deals) constitute a milestone in the history of our bilateral and business ties,” said Ricardo Cabrisas, Cuba’s foreign trade minister, in a speech closing the forum on Friday.

The agreements include a contract for Russia‘s Prodintorg to supply wheat to Cuba’s state-owned Alimport, aimed at “guaranteeing the stability” of supply to the Cuban population, according to a document from the Cuban-Russian Business Committee viewed by Reuters.

Another deal will create a Cuba-based marketplace for Russian goods, including food and home goods, called Rusmarket, which will also help spur development of more direct and fluid shipping routes between the two countries, the document said.

A third deal states Russian and Cuban intention to revive the decrepit residential beach community of Tarara, whose white sand beaches just minutes from Havana, the document says, are “ideal for enjoying the ocean, fishing and diving.”

Russian deputy prime minister for tourism, sport, culture and communications Dmitry Chernyshenko announced separately on Friday a presidential order to reinstate by July regular flights between Russia and Cuba, suspended since March 2022 due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Other agreements announced this week include one aimed at developing a Russian-Cuban rum company, which would seek to boost exports of Cuba’s prized rum. Russia also provided funds, know-how and technology to restart a steel mill in Cuba to supply construction materials on the island, according to Cuba state-run media reports.

Top Russian business leaders lauded Cuba earlier this week for opening the door to Russian investors and for providing them with “preferential treatment,” including tariff exemptions, long-term land concessions and ease in repatriating profits.

More than 150 Russian businesspeople attended the forum in Havana, according to Cuban officials.

US to provide F-16 fighter jets in battle against Putin

Friday 19 May 2023 21:47 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

President Joe Biden told G7 leaders on Friday that Washington supports joint allied training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, senior U.S. officials said, a significant endorsement as Kyiv seeks to boost its air power against Russia.

Training on the U.S.-made jets will take place in Europe and will require months to complete, one of the officials said. U.S. officials have estimated the most expeditious time needed for training and delivery of F-16s at 18 months.

“As the training takes place over the coming months, our coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide when to actually provide jets, how many we will provide, and who will provide them,” the official said.

Ukraine’s Volodymr Zelensky tweeted: “I welcome the historic decision of the United States and @POTUS to support an international fighter jet coalition. This will greatly enhance our army in the sky. I count on discussing the practical implementation of this decision at the #G7 summit in Hiroshima.”

Britain says Russia will ‘pay the price’ for invasion as fresh sanctions unveiled

Friday 19 May 2023 21:02 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Rishi Sunak has issued a warning to Vladimir Putin that he and other Western leaders are “not going away”, at the start of the G7 summit in Japan.

The prime minister said Russia’s president must understand that Western allies of Ukraine are “steadfast” in their support for the country’s resistance against his invasion.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will attend the summit in Japan on Sunday, as Mr Sunak and other leaders dial up the pressure on Russia. The prime minister said Russia will “pay a price”, as he launched a new wave of sanctions targeting the country, which include a ban on importing Russian diamonds, copper, aluminium and nickel.

Britain says Russia will ‘pay the price’ for invasion as fresh sanctions unveiled

Russia branded ‘terrorist state’ as flights with Georgia resume

Friday 19 May 2023 20:56 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Anti-war protestors branded Russia a “terrorist state” as they clashed with police in Georgia after flights resumed today.

The protestors descended en masse to Tbilisi Airport at around 13.20pm local time to meet Azimuth Airlines flight A4851 after it arrived from Moscow.

The flight is the first tourist plane to touch down in Georgia from Russia in four years.

Many protestors held placards emblazoned with statements such as “Russian airship – go f*** yourself”, “you are not welcome” and “Russia is a terrorist state”.

Russia branded ‘terrorist state’ as flights with Georgia resume

Russia targets Greenpeace in crackdown on dissent but Kremlin critic Roizman avoids prison

Friday 19 May 2023 20:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia on Friday declared the global environmental group Greenpeace to be an undesirable organization, effectively banning it from operating in the country, its latest move to muzzle critical voices.

A statement from the national prosecutor-general’s office said it had determined that Greepeace posed “a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation” and pointed in particular to the conflict in Ukraine.

“Since the beginning of the special military operation of the Russian Federation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, Greenpeace activists have been engaged in anti-Russian propaganda, calling for further economic isolation of our country and tougher sanctions,” it said.

Russia targets Greenpeace in crackdown on dissent but Kremlin critic Roizman avoids prison

Russia adds ICC prosecutor who sought Putin's arrest to wanted list

Friday 19 May 2023 20:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia has issued an arrest warrant for the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor who in March prepared a warrant for President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges, Russian media reported on Friday.

The British prosecutor, Karim Khan, was added to the Interior Ministry’s wanted list, state-owned news agency TASS said, citing the ministry’s database.

Moscow opened cases against Khan and three ICC judges on March 20, days after the order for Putin’s arrest.

The ICC and its office of the prosecutor had no immediate comment.

The ICC warrant orders the arrest of Putin and Russia‘s ombudsman for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, on war crimes charges related to the abduction of Ukrainian children.

Russia has not concealed a programme under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect those abandoned in the conflict zone.

Russia and Putin deny committing war crimes offences during what the Kremlin calls its special military operation in Ukraine, saying they are victims of Western aggression and lies.

Putin claims West is trying to break up Russia into different states

Friday 19 May 2023 19:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Vladimir Putin has said the West is trying to drive a wedge between different ethnic and national groups in Russia.

The Russian President said on Friday the West wants to break the country into lots of different states, according to Reuters.

He added that the more sanctions the West hits Russia with, the greater the level of cohesion within Russian society.

Putin claims West is trying to break up Russia into different states

Ukrainian refugees living in EU forced to travel back for abortions, study warns

Friday 19 May 2023 19:00 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukrainian women who sought refuge in European Union countries are being forced to travel through dangerous conflict zones to access abortions and contraception in their native country, a study has warned.

Research found some women from Ukraine now living in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia are having to temporarily return home as it is “easier” to access reproductive healthcare there, despite the stress of travelling back into the wartorn country.

The study, by the Center for Reproductive Rights and eight human rights organisations, warned refugees are being put “at risk” as they grapple with issues such as legal restrictions and cost barriers when trying to access the right care.

Ukrainian refugees living in EU forced to travel back for abortions, study warns

Russia says 500 Americans to be banned, list includes Obama

Friday 19 May 2023 18:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s foreign ministry on Friday said former President Barack Obama was among 500 U.S. citizens who would be banned in response to the latest round of sanctions announced by Washington.

The ministry also said Russia had refused the latest U.S. request for consular access to detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in March on suspicion of spying.

This move was triggered by the U.S. refusal last month to give visas to media traveling with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the United Nations, it said in a statement.

“Washington should have learned a long time ago that not a single hostile attack on Russia will go unpunished,” it added.

Earlier on Friday the United States announced punitive measures against more than 300 targets, aiming to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and intensifying one of the harshest sanctions efforts ever implemented.

The secret network of tunnels under ‘paranoid’ Putin’s bunker

Friday 19 May 2023 17:52 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian president Vladimir Putin has a secret network of underground tunnels that run beneath his palace hideaway by the Black Sea, unearthed plans suggest.

Mr Putin had a huge underground bunker built beneath Gelendzhik Palace, according to plans posted online by the engineering firm in charge of the project, with a network of tunnels lying around 50 metres under the surface.

The complex, first reported by Business Insider, is thought to have been constructed for protection in the event of a revolution or war and was built before Russia took over Crimea in 2014.

The secret network of tunnels under ‘paranoid’ Putin’s bunker

WhatsApp faces first fine in Russia for failure to delete ‘banned’ content

Friday 19 May 2023 16:01 , Martha Mchardy

Messenger service WhatsApp faces a maximum fine of 4 million roubles (51,500) after Russia accused it of failing to delete banned content, state-owned news agency RIA reported on Friday, citing a Moscow court.

Although WhatsApp’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc was last year banned in Russia as an “extremist” organisation, the messenger app - which is widely popular in Russia - has not previously been threatened with legal proceedings for failing to remove prohibited information.

The RIA report did not specify what information WhatsApp had allegedly failed to delete. It said the administrative case was filed by communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

At the outset of its military campaign in Ukraine, Russia introduced harsh new military censorship laws under which technology companies including Google, Wikipedia and Discord have been fined.

Russia’s nuclear weapons rhetoric “dangerous and unacceptable” - G7

Friday 19 May 2023 15:45 , Martha Mchardy

Russia’s nuclear rhetoric and stated intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus “are dangerous and unacceptable,” leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations said in a statement.

The G7 nations called on Friday for a “world without nuclear weapons,” urging Russia, Iran, China and North Korea to cease nuclear escalation and embrace non-proliferation, a statement released by the White House showed.

The leaders also said Russia should return to full implementation of New START treaty.

U.S. will back training Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, Biden tells G7 leaders

Friday 19 May 2023 15:39 , Martha Mchardy

U.S. president Joe Biden informed G7 leaders at their summit in Japan that Washington will support a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, CNN reported on Friday, citing a senior U.S. administration official.

U.S. sanctions on Russia hit 300 targets

Friday 19 May 2023 15:32 , Martha Mchardy

The United States on Friday unveiled a raft of new Russia sanctions, targeting hundreds of individuals and entities, the U.S. Treasury Department notice posted online.

Russia adds ICC judge who issued Putin warrant to wanted list

Friday 19 May 2023 15:17 , Martha Mchardy

Russia’s interior ministry has issued an arrest warrant for the International Criminal Court judge who in March issued a warrant for the arrest of president Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges, state-owned news agency TASS reported on Friday, citing the ministry’s database.

Polish official says object that entered airspace was Russian-made rocket

Friday 19 May 2023 15:14 , Martha Mchardy

An aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Friday that the object that entered Poland’s airspace last year and was found in April was a Russian-made rocket.

The aide, Pawel Szrot, said on Radio RMF FM that the nose of the rocket had been found and that it’s “peculiar” because it’s made of concrete. It’s being examined by experts.

Szrot said it was “Russian technology” and most probably intended to give weight to the nose and allow the projectile to try to confuse Ukraine’s air defence systems in trying to repel Russian attacks.

The nose of the rocket contained no explosives, Szrot said.

Poland’s defence officials had been facing questions about an object that crash-landed on Polish territory in December and whose parts were found by a civilian in the woods near the city of Bydgoszcz in April.

The matter of air security, while there is a war in neighbouring Ukraine, became especially sensitive in Poland after two Polish men were killed when a missile landed in eastern Poland in November. Western officials said they believed a Ukrainian air defence missile went astray as Ukraine tried to repel a large-scale attack by Russia.

Ukraine would only allow Russian ammonia exports if gets expanded grain deal

Friday 19 May 2023 15:11 , Martha Mchardy

Kyiv would consider allowing Russian ammonia to transit its territory for export on condition the newly-renewed Black Sea grain deal is expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of commodities, a government source told Reuters.

The comments are the first time Kyiv has publicly laid out its stance on Russian ammonia, which Moscow wants shipped via the Black Sea under the agreement.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July last year facilitates “the safe navigation for the export of grain and related foodstuffs and fertilisers, including ammonia” from three Ukrainian ports.

The Ukrainian government source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the language of the deal does not cover the transit of Russian ammonia across Ukraine.

Russia, which used to export 4.4 million tonnes of ammonia a year before it invaded Ukraine, has pressed for ammonia supplies to resume through a pipeline from Russia’s Togliati to the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi, near Odesa, which is designed to pump up to 2.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually.

Despite Russian threats to pull out of the deal, the Black Sea deal was extended for two months on Wednesday a day before it was due to expire.

The government source said the text agreed on Wednesday made no mention of the Togliati-Odesa ammonia pipeline and transit and a further agreement would be needed if the Ukraine route is to be covered. In return, Ukraine would make demands.

“We say the following - if it (the deal) includes an ammonia pipeline, then Ukraine should get some additional things which will serve our national interests,” the source said.

“That is the expansion of the agreement’s geography and the list of goods (for export via corridor). Then that could serve the interests of our country.”

The source did not clarify the additional commodities Ukraine wanted included.

Russia trying to disrupt Ukraine’s preparations for counterattack - Kyiv

Friday 19 May 2023 14:54 , Martha Mchardy

Russia has shifted the focus of its missile strikes to target Ukrainian military facilities and supplies in order to disrupt preparations for a Ukrainian counterattack, a senior Ukrainian military intelligence official said.

After months of attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Russian forces are now increasingly targeting military facilities and supplies, said Vadym Skibitskyi, deputy head of the defence ministry’s main intelligence directorate.

He said the Russians were striking decision-making centres, supply routes and places where large quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel or troops were concentrated.

“Previously, they failed to knock out our energy system, and now they have completely different priorities - to disrupt our plans and preparations for active (military) action during the spring-summer campaign,” he told the RBK-Ukraine news portal.

“The enemy began to pay special attention to the areas where our air defence equipment is located,” Skibitskyi added.

He also said Russian aviation was now targeting areas on or near the front line more often than before.

Russia, whose air strikes have also often hit residential areas across Ukraine, did not immediately comment on Skibitskyi’s remarks.

Ukraine has said it is planning a counteroffensive to try retake territory occupied by Russian forces, but that recent advances around the eastern city of Bakhmut do mean the assault has started.

Zelensky thanks Saudi Arabia for helping secure release of prisoners of war

Friday 19 May 2023 14:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s Volodymr Zelensky thanked Saudi Arabia for helping secure the release of some prisoners of war, and called for moves to protect the Ukrainian Muslim community -- a reference to Crimean Tatars in the Crimea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

“Even if there are people here at the summit who have a different view on the war on our land in calling it a conflict, I am sure we can all be united in saving people from the cages of Russian prisons,” he said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the summit his kingdom was ready to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

Zelensky seeks support for peace plan at Arab League summit

Friday 19 May 2023 14:14 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Volodymyr Zelensky urged countries attending an Arab League summit on Friday to support his peace initiative for ending Russia‘s war in Ukraine.

Zelensky, making his first trip as president to Saudi Arabia, said in an address that delegates would each receive the text of the 10-point peace plan, and asked them to work with Ukraine directly without intermediaries.

“I invite all of you who respect peace to join the implementation of the peace formula and thus, to reduce enmity, wars, suffering, and evil,” Zelensky said in English. “Russia is weak, we beat it when it had more weapons in their hands. Its aggressiveness does not come from strength but from the understanding that the time of empires has passed.”

 (SPA/AFP/Getty)
(SPA/AFP/Getty)

Why Ukraine's spring offensive still hasn't begun — with summer just weeks away

Friday 19 May 2023 14:00 , Martha Mchardy

For months, Western allies have shipped billions of dollars worth of weapons systems and ammunition to Ukraine with an urgency to get the supplies to Kyiv in time for an anticipated spring counteroffensive.

Now summer is just weeks away. While Russia and Ukraine are focused on an intense battle for Bakhmut, the Ukrainian spring offensive has yet to begin.

Here are some of the factors that may be delaying the counteroffensive.

WEATHER

A big part of the delay is the weather. It’s taken longer than expected for Ukraine’s frozen ground to thaw and dry, due to an extended, wet, cold spring, which has made it difficult to transition into an offensive.

Instead, the ground has retained a deep mud that makes it more difficult for non-tracked vehicles to operate.

The mud is like a soup, the official said. “You just sort of sink in it.”

TRAINING

In the past few months, tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have been trained by the U.S. and allies for the fight. But the final Ukrainian battalion the U.S. is currently training is just finishing its course now.

This final class brings the total number of Ukrainians the U.S. has trained for this fight to more than 10,700. Those forces have learned not only field and medical skills but advanced combined arms tactics with the Stryker and Bradley armoured fighting vehicles and Paladin self-propelled howitzers. It also includes highly skilled forces who were trained to operate the Patriot missile defence system.

According to U.S. Army Europe-Africa, as many as 11,000 additional Ukrainian troops a day are in other training programs run by more than 30 partner nations.

Soon a new phase will begin: The U.S. will start training Ukrainians on Abrams tanks at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany. But the Ukrainians won’t wait for the tank training to be finished before they launch their counteroffensive, Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov told reporters in late April.

WEAPONS ARRIVALS

In just the past five months alone, the U.S. has announced it would send more than $14 billion in weapons and ammunition to Kyiv, most of which is being pulled from existing stockpiles in order to get the supplies to Ukraine faster. NATO and Western allies have responded too, pledging billions in tanks, armoured vehicles and air defence systems.

But a lot of that gear still hasn’t arrived, said Ben Barry, a former British intelligence official who is now the senior land warfare fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

For example, of the approximately 300 tank systems pledged — such as the Leopard 2 tanks promised by countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany — only about 100 have arrived. Of the 700 or so pledged fighting vehicles, such as British Marauders and U.S. Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, only about 300 have arrived, he said.

Ukraine will also need enough ammunition on hand to sustain a higher tempo fight once the counteroffensive begins, When it comes to the ammunition needed, Ukraine’s chief military logistician will also have a strong say in when the army is ready to launch, Barry said.

In just one munition — the 155mm howitzer round — Ukraine is firing between 6,000 and 8,000 rounds per day, Ukrainian parliamentary member Oleksandra Ustinova told reporters in April.

Putin claims West is trying to break Russia up into dozens of different states

Friday 19 May 2023 13:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Friday the West was trying to drive a wedge between different ethnic and national groups in Russia, and break the country up into dozens of different states.

He said the more sanctions the West hits Russia with, the greater the level of cohesion within Russian society.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Zelensky urges Arab League to help protect Ukraine’s Muslim community

Friday 19 May 2023 13:32 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Addressing the Arab League leaders in Jeddah, Ukraine’s Volodymr Zelensky said: “Ukrainians has never chosen the war. Our troops didn’t go to other lands. We do not engage in annexation and plunder of other nation’s resources. But we will never submit to any foreigners or colonisers. That’s why we fight.

“I am sure you will understand our main emotion, the main call I want to leave in Jeddah, a noble call to all of you to help protect our people including Ukrainian Muslim community.”

 (SPA/AFP via Getty)
(SPA/AFP via Getty)

In pictures: Zelensky arrives in Saudi Arabia

Friday 19 May 2023 13:22 , Martha Mchardy

Deputy Emir of Mecca Prince Badr bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz (R) welcoming Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (SPA/AFP via Getty Images)
Deputy Emir of Mecca Prince Badr bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz (R) welcoming Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky (SPA/AFP via Getty Images)
 (SPA/AFP via Getty Images)
(SPA/AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Crown Prince says kingdom ready to mediate between Russia and Ukraine

Friday 19 May 2023 13:20 , Martha Mchardy

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in the Arab League summit on Friday that his kingdom is ready to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

He also added that he hopes Syria’s return to the Arab League will end its crisis.

Friday 19 May 2023 13:10 , Martha Mchardy

“I’m here so that everyone can take an honest look no matter how hard the Russians try to influence, there must still be independence,” president Zelensky said during an address to the Arab league in Saudi Arabia.

President Zelensky adresses Arab League

Friday 19 May 2023 13:08 , Martha Mchardy

“None of you would turn a blind eye and allow your country to be invaded,” president Zelensky said during an address to the Arab League in Saudi Arabia.

Zelensky arrives in Saudi Arabia for talks with Arab League leaders

Friday 19 May 2023 12:43 , Martha McHardy

President Zelensky has arrived in Jeddah for his first-ever trip to Saudi Arabia.

The Ukrainian president will meet with Arab League leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Ahead of the meeting, he tweeted: “Beginning my first-ever visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance bilateral relations and Ukraine’s ties with the Arab world. Political prisoners in Crimea and temporarily occupied territories, the return of our people, Peace Formula, energy cooperation. KSA plays a significant role and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level.”

NATO is boosting capacity on Russia’s borders, Russia’s Patrushev says

Friday 19 May 2023 11:57 , Martha Mchardy

Russian security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Friday that NATO was increasing its military capacity on Russia’s borders, the TASS news agency reported.

G7 leaders issue statment on Ukraine war

Friday 19 May 2023 11:56 , Martha Mchardy

The G7 has issued a statement ahead of its summit in Hiroshima in Japan.

G7 leaders said: “We, the Leaders of the G7, reaffirmed our commitment to stand together against Russia’s illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemn, in the strongest terms, Russia’s manifest violation of the Charter of the UN and the impact of Russia’s war on the rest of the world.

“15 months of Russia’s aggression has cost thousands of lives, inflicted immense suffering on the people of Ukraine, and imperiled access to food and energy for many of the world’s most vulnerable people. We express our full sympathy and condolences to the Ukrainian people for their loss and suffering.

“We salute the Ukrainian people for their brave resistance. Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not tire in our commitment to mitigate the impact of Russia’s illegal actions on the rest of the world.

The statement continued: “We urge Russia to stop its ongoing aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops and military equipment from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine.

“Russia started this war and can end this war.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine constitutes a violation of international law, in particular the UN Charter. We reiterate our firm rejection of Russia’s illegal attempts to acquire Ukrainian territory by force.

“We underline that a just peace cannot be realized without the complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops and military equipment, and this must be included in any call for peace.”

Putin ally says U.S. was involved in assassination attempts of pro-war Russians

Friday 19 May 2023 11:31 , Martha Mchardy

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Friday that the United States was involved in the killing of a pro-war military blogger in a bomb blast in St. Petersburg in April, and the car bombing of a nationalist writer and politician earlier in May, Russian news agencies reported.

It comes after The Kremlin said on Friday that the “last remnants” of arms control agreements between Russia and the United States were disappearing, after a group of U.S. Republican lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill to scrap the New START treaty on nuclear arms.

Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier this year suspended Russia’s participation in the treaty, which caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy.

“We can now only state with regret that there are no serious, substantive contacts on these issues between Moscow and Washington,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“Let’s just say that the last remnants of the international legal framework in this area are slipping away.”

Zelensky to meet Saudi crown prince to discuss peace formula as he lands in Jeddah

Friday 19 May 2023 11:28 , Martha Mchardy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday he would meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his first-ever trip to Saudi Arabia.

He said after arriving in Saudi Arabia that his priorities were to discuss Ukraine’s peace formula for ending Russia’s war on his country, protection of the Muslim community in Ukraine, and the return of political prisoners from Crimea, which has been annexed by Russia.

President Zelensky landed in Jeddah earlier today to attend an Arab League summit, Saudi-owned al-Hadath TV reported.

Gulf states have tried to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict despite Western pressure on Gulf oil producers to help isolate Russia, a fellow OPEC+ member.

Saudi Arabia said last year it was granting Ukraine $400 million in humanitarian aid after it faced heavy criticism from the United States over an OPEC+ decision to cut oil production, seen as helping Russia to refill its coffers by boosting prices.

Former Russian mayor fined $3,245 for 'discrediting' army

Friday 19 May 2023 10:52 , Martha Mchardy

Russian opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman was fined 260,000 roubles ($3,245) on Friday after a court found him guilty of “discrediting” the Russian army, Russian news agencies reported.

Roizman, a former mayor of Russia’s fourth-largest city of Yekaterinburg, was detained last August and banned from the internet after he referred to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine as a “war” in a YouTube video.

Russia calls the conflict a “special military operation” and people risk prosecution if they use the words “war” or “invasion”.

Since invading Ukraine last year, Russia has prosecuted dozens of people under new laws designed to punish critics of the war and crack down on dissent.

Popular and charismatic, Roizman is an outspoken supporter of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and has often criticised the Kremlin in sometimes crude language on social media.

He was elected mayor of Yekaterinburg in 2013 amid a wave of discontent with Vladimir Putin’s return as Russian president in 2012.

His tenure in the role was controversial for his aggressive crackdown on drug users in the city. In 2018, he resigned after regional lawmakers there voted to abolish direct mayoral elections, a move he said was directed specifically against him.

‘Putin will pay price for illegal invasion of Ukraine,’ says foreign secretary

Friday 19 May 2023 10:27 , Martha Mchardy

UK foreign secretary James Cleverly tweeted: “Putin will pay the price for his illegal invasion of Ukraine. Today we’re increasing economic pressure – cracking down on Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain and the remaining revenue sources that support its military machine.”

0ver 480 children killed in Ukraine and hundreds missing

Friday 19 May 2023 10:01 , Martha Mchardy

More than 480 children have been killed in Ukraine and hundreds more as missing, according to Ukraine authorities.

At least 482 children have been killed and more than 1,461 have been injured, according to the prosecutor general’s office.

Of the children injured, 979 had serious injuries, while 401 under-18s are missing at the moment, the National Police of Ukraine said.

“It is impossible to establish the exact number of injured children due to active hostilities and the temporary occupation of part of the territory of Ukraine,” said Ukrainian government-run website Children of War.

Woman badly wounded as Russia strikes Zelensky’s hometown

Friday 19 May 2023 09:54 , Martha Mchardy

A 64-year-old woman has been badly wounded after Russia launched a new wave of overnight air strikes on Ukraine early on Friday, setting ablaze several buildings in president Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown.

Another man was injured and buildings were set alight after Russian air strikes hit the city of Kryvyi Rih where president Zelensky grew up.

“Several explosions occurred in (the central Ukrainian city of) Kryvyi Rih. The enemy hit a private industrial enterprise. Several buildings caught fire at once,” the president’s office said in a statement.

Ukrainian authorities offered little detail about what had been struck except for the damage in Kryvyi Rih, the steel-producing city where Zelensky grew up.

“A 64-year-old woman was injured. She was hospitalised in a serious condition,” the president’s office said. “The enemy attack caused a fire in the administrative building. It has already been extinguished.”

A 45-year-old man also received light injuries, it said.

Air raid sirens also blared across the capital and most of the country as people slept. In Kyiv, the night sky was lit up as air defences searched for drones.

The Ukrainian military said it had shot down three of six cruise missiles, and 16 of 22 attack drones that were fired. The figures implied an unusually high proportion of the Russian missiles and drones attacks had not been intercepted.

Kyiv attributes the recent increase in the frequency of air strikes to Moscow’s concerns about an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive aimed at recapturing land occupied by Russia in the south and east.

Ukrainian authorities do not report hits on critical infrastructure or military facilities. Russia reports its air attacks as successful strikes on its intended targets.

G7 leaders says Ukraine has budget support for 2023 and early 2024

Friday 19 May 2023 09:49 , Martha Mchardy

Group of Seven (G7) leaders on Friday said they had ensured that Ukraine had the budget support it needs for this year and early 2024 as they renewed their commitment to provide financial and military support in its fight against Russia.

“Today we are taking new steps to ensure that Russia’s illegal aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine fails and to support the Ukrainian people in their quest for a just peace rooted in respect for international law,” they said in a statement at the G7 summit, which kicked off in the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Friday.

India’s Modi to meet Ukraine’s Zelensky on sidelines of G7 summit

Friday 19 May 2023 09:39 , Martha Mchardy

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi will meet Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of G7 summit in Hiroshima, broadcaster CNN-News 18 reported on Friday.

Derailed Crimea train will ‘increase Kremlin’s concerns about ability to protect key infrastructure’ in city

Friday 19 May 2023 09:38 , Martha Mchardy

The Kremlin’s concerns about its ability to “protect key infrastructure” in the annexed Ukrainian city of Crimea have been enhanced after a train derailed yesterday, the UK’s ministry of defence (MoD) has said.

Russia claimed “interference from outsiders” caused a train to derail near the capital of Crimea Simferopol yesterday, blocking the only railway track into the port of Sevastopol of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF).

In an intelligence update posted on Twitter, the MoD said the incident will “disrupt deliveries of supplies and potentially also weaponary” to Russia’s BSF.

“Any sabotage in this sensitive area will further increase the Kremlin’s concerns about its ability to protect other key infrastructure in Crimea,” the update continued.

The peninsula plays a “vital” role in “enabling Russia’s war in Ukraine,” according to the MoD.

The peninsula has been under Russian control since it was illegally annexed in 2014, but Ukraine has said it will fight to take it back.

‘Rare’ Russian drone found by Ukrainian soldier in Luhansk

Friday 19 May 2023 09:24 , Martha Mchardy

A ‘rare’ Russian drone has been uncovered by a Ukrainian soldier in Luhansk, Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has said.

A video shows a Ukrainian soldier finding an Eleron-3 drone, according to reports.

The drones are reportedly used by Russia for aerial reconnaissance and short-range surveillance, but Ukraine has not captured many.

In a video shared online, the soldier said: “I managed to capture this new Russian drone relatively unscathed.

“Therefore, I consider the hunt to be successful, and interesting data from this drone was transferred to the relevant authorities of the Defence Forces of Ukraine.”

Ukraine says Russia trying to recapture land around Bakhmut as Kyiv repels attacks

Friday 19 May 2023 09:05 , Martha Mchardy

Russian forces are trying to recapture land they have lost around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut but Kyiv’s forces are repelling the attacks, deputy Ukrainian defence minister Hanna Maliar said on Friday.

Russian forces have gained some ground inside the city itself, but they do not control it and fighting rages on, Maliar said in televised comments.

Ukraine’s Zelensky to meet Arab League leaders in Saudi Arabia

Friday 19 May 2023 08:48 , Martha Mchardy

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is on his way to the Arab League meeting in Saudi Arabia, a source familiar with the meeting told Reuters.

Zelensky will then travel on to the G7 meeting in Hiroshima in Japan from the Saudi city of Jeddah on a French government plane.

Putin’s troops ‘unlikely' to capture Bakhmut soon, says Wagner chief

Friday 19 May 2023 08:18 , Martha Mchardy

Bakhmut is “unlikely” to fall to Russian mercenary troops in the next two days, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has said

The Ukrainian city of Bakhmut is in ruins after months of intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

“Bakhmut has still not been taken,” Prigozhin said in a voice message posted on Telegram. “Bakhmut is unlikely to be taken either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

“There is a quarter known as the ‘Airplane’ - it is like an impregnable fortress from a bed of multi-storey buildings in the southwest of Bakhmut, where incredibly heavy battles are going on.”

Russia has been trying to capture Bakhmut since last summer in the longest and bloodiest battle of the war, but Ukrainian defenders have held out.

If Russia took the city, it would provide a stepping stone to advance on two bigger cities it has long coveted in the Donetsk region: Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

It comes as deputy Ukrainian defence minister Hanna Maliar said Kyiv’s forces are repelling attempts by Russian forces to recapture land they have lost around Bakhmut.

Russian forces have gained some ground inside the city itself, but they do not control it and fighting rages on, Maliar said in televised comments.

Russian PM to meet Xi in China next week

Friday 19 May 2023 08:13 , Martha Mchardy

Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin will visit China on May 23-24, where he will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping, the Russian government announced on Friday.

Russian mental producer says British sanctions won't affect company

Friday 19 May 2023 08:12 , Martha Mchardy

Russian metals producer Severstal said on Friday that British sanctions against it will not affect the company, the TASS news agency reported.

Russian forces enhance defensive positions at Ukrainian nuclear power plant, witnesses say

Friday 19 May 2023 08:10 , Martha Mchardy

Russian military forces have been enhancing defensive positions in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine in recent weeks, four witnesses said, ahead of an expected counteroffensive in the region.

New trenches have been dug around the city and more mines have been laid. Surveillance cameras at the plant are pointing north across a wide reservoir towards Ukrainian-controlled territory.

The Russians have had firing positions set up atop some of the plant’s buildings for several months. Nets have been erected in a possible deterrent to drones.

The measures described by two Ukrainians who work at the power plant and two other residents in the city of Enerhodar underline the risks the war poses to the security of the facility.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears for their safety in a city under Russian occupation.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency, the Russian defence ministry and Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom did not respond to requests for comment on fortifications at Enerhodar and the security risks the counteroffensive may pose.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Some nuclear industry experts said they were alarmed and warned that any damage to the plant could have dire consequences for people, the surrounding area, the war and the global nuclear industry.

“Nuclear reactors were not designed for war zones and I do not believe they can be safe or secure in a war zone,” said Nickolas Roth, director at think tank the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Petro Kotin, chief of Ukraine’s Energoatom nuclear agency, told Reuters he did not believe Ukrainian forces would stage an attack directly on the site and could instead try to force the Russians to retreat by cutting off supply lines.

But there is concern in the international community that the six-reactor nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, could be caught up in fighting, particularly as military analysts expect Ukraine to try to push Russian forces back in Zaporizhzhia region.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog says that the military presence and activity is growing in the region, underlining the need for urgent action. It has warned for months of the danger of a major accident at the plant.

The agency plans to present a deal between Russia and Ukraine to the U.N. Security Council later this month to protect the facility, four diplomats told Reuters.

UK issues new Russian sanctions targeting grain theft

Friday 19 May 2023 08:04 , Martha Mchardy

Britain announced a new wave of sanctions against Russia on Friday, targeting companies connected to the theft of Ukrainian grain and those involved in the shipment of Russian energy.

Along with the United States, Britain and the rest of the Group of Seven major economies are set to unveil sanctions and export controls targeting Russia over its war against Ukraine, at the G7 summit in Japan this weekend.

Britain said in a statement that it was sanctioning 86 individuals and entities as part of a new crackdown on what it called “shady individuals and entities” connected to the theft and resale of Ukrainian grain.

The sanctions would also target Russia’s major energy and arms shipping companies, including those connected to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom, and the owner of the Russian Copper Company, Igor Altushkin.

Ukraine repels latest drone and missile attack, says military

Friday 19 May 2023 08:01 , Martha Mchardy

Ukrainian air defence repelled another Russian air attack early on Friday morning, destroying 19 drones and missiles out of 28 launched, Ukrainian military said.

“Three calibre missiles launched from the Black Sea and 16 drones were shot down. Shelling continues on an almost daily basis,” Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian television.

“Not all targets were hit,” he added.

Russia has increased the number of missile and drone attacks this month, which Kyiv attributes to Moscow’s fear of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Ukrainian authorities do not report hits on critical infrastructure or military facilities.

Sunak unveils new sanctions against Russia

Friday 19 May 2023 08:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Britain is banning Russian diamonds in a new wave of sanctions to pressure Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine as Rishi Sunak warns allies against complacency at the G7 summit in Japan.

The prime minister announced the new measures against Russia, also including a prohibition on imports of Russian-origin copper, aluminium and nickel, on the eve of the meeting in Hiroshima yesterday.

Having signed a new defence and security pact with Tokyo, Mr Sunak will visit the atomic bomb dome ruin with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, to reflect on the nuclear devastation in the Second World War.

More here.

Sunak unveils new sanctions against Russia as he meets allies at G7 summit

Sunak issues stark warning to Putin as G7 vows more Russian sanctions

Friday 19 May 2023 07:41 , Martha Mchardy

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has issued a stark warning to president Vladimir Putin as Group of Seven (G7) leaders gather in Japan.

Mr Sunak told the BBC he hopes toensure that Russia pays a price for its illegal activity,” hours after the UK announced a ban on imports of Russian diamonds.

In an interview with Sky News, the prime minister also told the Russian president: “We’re not going away,”

“Russia needs to know that we and other countries are steadfast in our resolve to support Ukraine, not just in the here and now with the resources it needs to protect itself, but for the long term as well,” he said.

Rishi Sunak and  Volodymyr Zelensky embrace at Chequers (Downing Street)
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelensky embrace at Chequers (Downing Street)

He added to ITV News: “They can’t just outlast us in this conflict.

“One of the common topics of conversation I’ll be having and have been having with my fellow leaders is about the longer-term security agreements that we put in place in Ukraine, to deter future Russian aggression.”

Mr Sunak said he believes other G7 nations will follow suit, and ban Russian diamonds and imports of metals from Russia including copper, aluminium and nickel.

The diamond export industry was worth more than £3 billion to Russia in 2021, but No 10 conceded direct imports have been low since the UK sanctioned state-owned miners Alrosa last year.

The G7 are set to unleash new sanctions against Russia in an effort to make Moscow end the war in Ukraine.

The UK is also preparing new individual sanctions against 86 people and companies to apply further pressure on the Russian president and his supporters.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will travel to Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday to join the leaders of the world’s advanced democracies at the G7 summit, Reuters reported, citing a European Union source.

It comes after president Zelensky travelled to the UK to seek more support for his country’s war effort last week, joining Rishi Sunak at Chequers.

Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said: “Guarding against economic coercion is something that the Prime Minister is pushing for.”

Why Ukraine’s spring offensive still hasn’t begun

Friday 19 May 2023 07:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

For months, Western allies have shipped billions of dollars worth of weapons systems and ammunition to Ukraine with an urgency to get the supplies to Kyiv in time for an anticipated spring counteroffensive.

Now summer is just weeks away.

While Russia and Ukraine are focused on an intense battle for Bakhmut, the Ukrainian spring offensive has yet to begin.

Last week Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensyy said it’s been delayed because his country lacks enough Western weapons to succeed without suffering too many casualties. Weather and training are playing a role too, officials and defense experts say.

Officials insist the counteroffensive is coming. Preliminary moves by Ukraine to set the conditions it wants for an attack have already begun, a US official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

More here.

Why Ukraine's spring offensive still hasn't begun — with summer just weeks away

Putin clashes with own finance minister over damage done to Russian economy by oil sanctions

Friday 19 May 2023 07:00 , Emily Atkinson

Vladimir Putin has shot down concerns of his own finance minister who acknowledged “a problem” with Russia’s energy revenues, underscoring the damage done by Western sanctions to its economy.

In a televised meeting chaired by President Putin through a video link, Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday that Russia’s revenues from oil and gas have taken a hit, blaming deep discounts offered to countries following the Ukraine invasion.

“Russia’s non-energy revenues are on track for growth as planned, with the potential for a small surplus by year-end, but there is a problem with energy revenues,” said Mr Siluanov.

Shweta Sharma reports:

Putin clashes with own finance minister over damage by oil sanctions to Russia

US signals to European allies it won’t stop them from sending F-16s to Ukraine

Friday 19 May 2023 06:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The Biden administration has conveyed to European allies in recent weeks that Washington will allow the export of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, CNN reported, citing sources.

The White House is facing mounting pressure from Congress members and allies urging the administration to help Ukraine procure the jets in order to counter aggressive Russian attacks.

Several European countries have a supply of the US-made F-16s and have expressed willingness to export some of them to Ukraine. But the US would have to approve that third-party transfer because of the jets’ sensitive US technology.

While the US remains reluctant to send any of its own F-16s to Kyiv, US officials told CNN that the administration is prepared to approve the export of the jets to Ukraine if that is what allies decide to do with their supply.

US lawmakers and congressional staffers have joined in the F-16 lobbying campaign, urging the administration to provide the jets to Ukraine.

“As a bipartisan group of lawmakers, we view the transfer of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine as essential for providing Kyiv with the air support capability required to fully defend their nation against Russia’s unprovoked, illegal, and brutal invasion, and to make the territorial gains necessary to reclaim their country,” a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to president Joe Biden.

The Body in the Woods | An Independent TV Original Documentary

Friday 19 May 2023 06:00 , Emily Atkinson

UK-supplied cruise missiles have been used by Ukraine, confirms Wallace

Friday 19 May 2023 05:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Ukrainian forces have used UK-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles against Russian targets, Ben Wallace has confirmed.

The defence secretary suggested the Storm Shadow missiles could help provide some of the same capabilities to strike at Russian positions behind the front line.

The UK confirmed it would supply the weapons to Ukraine earlier this month.

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky has lobbied Western leaders to supply Nato fighter jets to his nation, particularly F-16s which the UK does not possess.

At a press conference at the UK’s Permanent Joint HQ in Northwood with his Norwegian counterpart Bjorn Arild Gram, Mr Wallace said: “It is my understanding that it (Storm Shadow) has been used since we announced its deployment to Ukraine.”

More here.

UK-supplied cruise missiles have been used by Ukraine, Wallace confirms

Zelensky to attend G7 summit in person

Friday 19 May 2023 05:10 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will travel to Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday to join the Group of Seven (G7) leaders summit in person, a European Union source told Reuters.

Earlier, the Japanese officials said that Mr Zelensky would join virtually.

Accounting error overvalued Ukraine weapons aid by $3bn - report

Friday 19 May 2023 05:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The Pentagon reportedly overestimated the value of the missiles, ammunition and other equipment it sent to Ukraine by around $3bn, an error that may pave the way for more weapons being sent to Kyiv.

The error was the result of assigning a higher than warranted value on weaponry that was taken from US stocks and then shipped to Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing two senior defence officials.

“We’ve discovered inconsistencies in how we value the equipment that we’ve given” to Ukraine, one of the defence officials said.

Congress is being notified of the accounting adjustment, the sources said.

Since August 2021, the US has sent weapons valued at about $21.1bn to Ukraine from its stockpiles.

Russia sent waves of drones toward Kyiv, says military

Friday 19 May 2023 04:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The head of Kyiv’s military administration said Russian forces had sent waves of drones toward the capital.

This was the 10th attack this month and the second in less than 24 hours.

“This Kremlin tactic is an attempt to overwhelm our anti-aircraft forces and put psychological pressure on civilians. It won’t happen!” Serhiy Popko wrote on Telegram.

“All air targets sent toward Kyiv were destroyed by our anti-aircraft defences.”

The military had warned that central regions and Kyiv were at risk from drones.

Air raid alerts throughout Ukraine

Friday 19 May 2023 04:03 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Air raid alerts sounded throughout Ukraine early today, with some areas later reporting explosions and officials saying anti-aircraft units were pressed into action in several regions.

The alerts extended to all regions of the country for about an hour from 2 am (local time).

However, there were no reports of strikes on infrastructure or civilian targets and no indications of casualties as the alerts were withdrawn in Kyiv and in central and southern regions.

Politics explained: Why does Japan matter to the UK?

Friday 19 May 2023 04:00 , Emily Atkinson

Rishi Sunak is in Tokyo to announce a new defence partnership with Japan and support £18bn of private business deals, and will then join in the wider G7 talks with the other leaders, from Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States. They’ll be focusing on strategy towards Russia and China, with an obvious focus on the war in Ukraine, writes Sean O’Grady.

Why does Japan matter to the UK?

Here come more sanctions: How effective are they are stopping Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

Friday 19 May 2023 22:07 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The U.S. and other Group of Seven nations rolled out a new wave of global sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine as they met Friday during a summit in Japan. The sanctions target hundreds of people and firms — including those helping Russia to evade existing sanctions and export controls. Some of the sanctions focus on additional sectors of Russia’s economy, including architecture, construction and transportation.

After 15 months of war, the allied nations are still aiming at new targets for financial penalties that block, freeze and seize access to international funds.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the newest sanctions will tighten the grip on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “ability to wage his barbaric invasion and will advance our global efforts to cut off Russian attempts to evade sanctions.”

Here come more sanctions: How effective are they are stopping Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

Russia extends detention of US consular worker by three months

Friday 19 May 2023 03:00 , Emily Atkinson

A Russian court on Thursday extended by three months the detention of a former employee of the US consulate in Vladivostok on charges of cooperating with a foreign state.

The US state department has condemned the arrest of Robert Shonov, which was reported this week. He was detained in Vladivostok on the Pacific coast and brought to Moscow.

The specifics of the charges haven’t been reported, including Shonov’s alleged actions or what country he was suspected of cooperating with.

Russia extends detention of US consular worker by 3 months

UN official hopes for breakthrough on Russian food, fertilizer shipments

Friday 19 May 2023 02:00 , Emily Atkinson

A top UN official said Thursday that he hopes for a breakthrough soon after months of efforts to ensure that Russian food and fertilizer can be shipped to developing countries struggling with high prices.

A day after Moscow agreed to renew a wartime accord allowing Ukraine to export critical food supplies, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told The Associated Press that secretary-general Antonio Guterres recently met with insurance titan Lloyds to help iron out coverage for shipments of Russian agricultural products.

UN official hopes for breakthrough on Russian food, fertilizer shipments

Watch: CIA urges Russians to spill secrets in new video campaign

Friday 19 May 2023 01:00 , Emily Atkinson

China says Ukraine envoy met with Zelensky during talks in Kyiv

Friday 19 May 2023 00:00 , Emily Atkinson

China says Ukraine envoy met with Zelenskyy during talks in Kyiv

Ukraine repels Russian forces in Bakhmut after overnight strikes on Kyiv

Thursday 18 May 2023 23:00 , Emily Atkinson

Ukraine said it had repelled a day of Russian attacks in and around Bakhmut on Thursday, making small gains while buying time for other “planned actions”.

While Russia boosted its forces in the city and attacked suburbs to the north and south, Ukraine’s forces advanced up to one 1km, deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said on her Telegram channel.

“The defence of Bakhmut and its outskirts is meeting its military objectives,” she said. “As of now, we control the southwestern part of Bakhmut.”

More on this story here:

Ukraine repels Russian forces in Bakhmut after overnight strikes on Kyiv

Latest images from contested Bakhmut

Thursday 18 May 2023 22:00 , Emily Atkinson

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Russia has ‘intent and ability’ to target underwater infrastructure

Thursday 18 May 2023 21:00 , Emily Atkinson

There is no doubt Russia has “the intent and the ability” to target the West’s underwater energy and communication lines, Ben Wallace said as he launched a security partnership with Norway.

At a press conference alongside his Norwegian counterpart at the Northwood military base on Thursday, the defence secretary said Moscow has submarines and spy ships “specifically designed” to “potentially sabotage or attack critical national infrastructure belonging to its adversaries”.

More on this story here:

Russia has ‘intent and ability’ to target underwater infrastructure

Crimea’s return to Ukraine will ‘happen for certain’, says Zelensky

Thursday 18 May 2023 20:00 , Emily Atkinson

President Volodymyr Zelensky has set up a reintegration council to advise on the restoration of Ukrainian rule over Crimea, saying liberation of the peninsula, seized by Russia in 2014, will “happen for certain”.

He was speaking at a gathering in Kyiv to mark the anniversary of the mass Soviet-era deportation of Crimean Tatars from the peninsula in 1944.

Zelensky said that more and more countries realised it would be impossible “to return peace to international relations and the full force of international law” without first returning Crimea.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“We continue our work in order to liberate the Crimea. It will happen for certain - its full-fledged return to Ukraine‘s state system,” Zelensky told Tatar community leaders and senior officials.

“We are preparing to reintegrate Crimea. I signed the decree about the advisory council on reintegration and de-occupation of our Crimea and the (Crimean port) city of Sevastopol.”

Ukrainian refugees living in EU forced to travel back for abortions, study warns

Thursday 18 May 2023 19:30 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian women who sought refuge in European Union countries are being forced to travel through dangerous conflict zones to access abortions and contraception in their native country, a study has warned.

Research found some women from Ukraine now living in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia are having to temporarily return home as it is “easier” to access reproductive healthcare there, despite the stress of travelling back into the wartorn country.

The study, by the Center for Reproductive Rights and eight human rights organisations, warned refugees are being put “at risk” as they grapple with issues such as legal restrictions and cost barriers when trying to access the right care.

Our women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim reports:

Ukrainian refugees living in EU forced to travel back for abortions, study warns

Ukraine deputy defence minister says Russia on offensive in Bakhmut

Thursday 18 May 2023 19:00 , Emily Atkinson

Ukrainian deputy defence Minister Hanna Maliar said in a Telegram post that Kyiv’s forces had repelled day-long attacks by Russia in the embattled city of Bakhmut on Wednesday.

“The enemy gathered most of its reserves to Bakhmut and significantly strengthened the group,” she said. “Today the enemy attacked Bakhmut for the entire day. All attacks were repelled.”

Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut (AP)
Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut (AP)

Stoltenberg expects new defence investment pledge at Vilnius summit

Thursday 18 May 2023 18:30 , Emily Atkinson

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said he expected allies would agree on a new investment pledge to spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence at the alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.

Nato members needed to “commit more”, Stoltenberg told a joint press conference with Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa in Lisbon.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The Nato chief has repeatedly urged allies to speed up increases in defence spending as the world had “become more dangerous” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Seven of the alliance’s 30 countries met the current goal of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence in 2022 - one fewer than in 2021, before the war in Ukraine - according to estimates in the Nato secretary-general’s annual report, released in March.

Revealed: Boris Johnson’s first words to Zelensky on night of Russia attack

Thursday 18 May 2023 18:00 , Emily Atkinson

Volodymyr Zelensky told Boris Johnson “I hope this is not the last time we speak” at the dawn of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the former PM’s comms chief.

Those were among the first words the pair shared during a 4am interaction on the night of the advance in February 2022, Guto Harri said, describing it as a “man-to-man thing” between the PM and the Ukrainian president.

Former GB News presenter Mr Harri told his Unprecedented podcast on Thursday that the two leaders were on the phone within minutes of Mr Johnson being woken to be told the news.

William Mata has more:

Revealed: Boris Johnson’s first words to Zelensky on night of Russia attack

Norway donating F-16 jets to Ukraine 'not on the agenda' now - defence minister

Thursday 18 May 2023 17:30 , Emily Atkinson

Norway donating F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine is not on the agenda at the moment, the country’s defence minister Bjoern Arild Gram said.

 (PA)
(PA)

“When it comes to F-16 ... it’s not on the agenda now and I really don’t want to speculate on any possible future donations,” he said during a news conference with British counterpart Ben Wallace, when asked by a reporter whether Norway would be giving F-16s to Ukraine.

Storm Shadow missiles have been used in Ukraine

Thursday 18 May 2023 16:20 , Emily Atkinson

Long-range Storm Shadow missiles provided to Ukraine by Britain have been used, British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Thursday.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“All I can say is it is my understanding that it has been used since we announced its deployment to Ukraine, but I’m not going to go into further details,” Wallace said at a press conference.

Black Sea grain corridor has not yet resumed operations - Ukrainian official

Thursday 18 May 2023 15:52 , Martha Mchardy

The Black Sea grain corridor designed to ensure the safe supply of Ukrainian food to world markets has not yet resumed operation despite statements by Turkey and Russia on extending the agreement, a senior Ukrainian official said on Thursday.

The deal has been extended for two more months, in what U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres hailed on Wednesday as “good news for the world,” a day before Russia could have quit the pact over obstacles to its grain and fertiliser exports.

“This was announced yesterday, but so far these statements have not led to the resumption of work and the joint centre in Istanbul did not inspect vessels for entry yesterday or today,” Yuriy Vaskov, Ukraine’s deputy restoration minister told Reuters.

“We expected it to be yesterday immediately after the statements of our partners. We are expecting the partners’ position today and believe that they will be able to resolve this issue,” he told in an interview.

He said 62 vessels are ready for inspection and some of them have been standing by for several months.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension in a televised speech on Wednesday and it was later confirmed by Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the deal for an initial 120 days in July last year to help tackle a global food crisis that has been aggravated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain exporters.

Pope hopes to send peace envoys to Kyiv and Moscow

Thursday 18 May 2023 15:48 , Martha Mchardy

Pope Francis hopes to send personal peace envoys to the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to try to broker a ceasefire in the war, a Catholic website reported on Thursday.

Il Sismografo, which specialises in Vatican news, said this is the “mission” Francis spoke of cryptically when he was returning from Hungary last month.

According to the website, the plan would be for Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna to go to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and for Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the head of the Vatican’s department for Eastern Churches, to go to Moscow to meet president Vladimir Putin.

Pope Francis and presdient Zelensky
Pope Francis and presdient Zelensky

It said both presidents had agreed to meet with the papal envoys, without citing sources or giving details.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no comment on the report but pointed a reporter to recent comments by Vatican secretary of state cardinal Pietro Parolin that “now is the moment to take the initiative to create a just peace in Ukraine”.

Zuppi and Gugerotti could not be reached for comment and a key diplomatic source said nothing was yet “concrete”.

If the envoys are sent, it would be identical to a gesture by the late Pope John Paul II, who in 2003 sent high-level representatives to Washington and Baghdad in an unsuccessful attempt to thwart the start of the Iraq War.

President Zelensky met Pope Francis at the Vatican last Saturday but in comments afterwards he appeared to downplay the possibility of a papal mediation.

“With all due respect for His Holiness, we do not need mediators, we need a just peace ... Putin only kills. We don’t need a mediation with him,” president Zelensky said on Italian television.

In pictures: Ukrainians celebrate Vyshyvanka day

Thursday 18 May 2023 15:43 , Martha Mchardy

Ukrainians are celebrating Vyshyvanka day today, a holiday dedicated to celebrating the vyshyvanka - a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt.

The shirt is said to be a symbol of the Ukrainian people's heritage.

People gather during an event celebrating the World Vyshyvanka Day in Lviv, Ukraine on May 18, 2023. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People gather during an event celebrating the World Vyshyvanka Day in Lviv, Ukraine on May 18, 2023. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Women take a selfie during the celebration of World Vyshyvanka Day in Lviv, Ukraine (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Women take a selfie during the celebration of World Vyshyvanka Day in Lviv, Ukraine (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A couple of elderly people wearing vyshyvankas on Vyshyvanka Day walk the Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
A couple of elderly people wearing vyshyvankas on Vyshyvanka Day walk the Khreshchatyk Street in Kyiv (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
The National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide for the first time put on the monument ‘Bitter Memory of Childhood’ (a girl with ears of corn) a Ukrainian embroidered shirt (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
The National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide for the first time put on the monument ‘Bitter Memory of Childhood’ (a girl with ears of corn) a Ukrainian embroidered shirt (Global Images Ukraine via Getty)
A Ukrainian woman wears traditional clothing as part of the Vyshyvanka day celebrations in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia (EPA)
A Ukrainian woman wears traditional clothing as part of the Vyshyvanka day celebrations in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia (EPA)

Kyiv residents ‘sleep deprived’ and ‘angry’ after attack on capital

Thursday 18 May 2023 15:15 , Martha Mchardy

A Ukrainian MP said Kyiv residents are “very angry” following the ninth attack on the capital this month in a noticeable escalation after a quieter period.

In the early hours of Thursday, Ukraine shot down 29 out of 30 cruise missiles amid an escalation of attacks on the country, according to Ukrainian officials.

Speaking in Kyiv, Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun said: “I think people are very angry. This is the major feeling. Everybody is angry.

“Everybody is sleep deprived very much, including myself today, because it’s not like you can easily go back to sleep when this happens and just pretend that nothing happened.”

Ms Sovsun said she woke up to the sound of “one big explosion” in the early hours.

“A couple of hours after that, I got a message from my neighbour and she sent me the picture of the fragment of the missile, which landed on our building, which is goddamn scary,” she said.

Ms Sovsun believes the escalation of attacks by Russia is an attempt to “undermine our spirit” and hit warehouses possibly storing ammunition to weaken Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.

Russia fails “dramatically” to dampen Ukrainians’ determination, Ms Sovsun said, “because after every single attack, people are getting more angry and less willing to negotiate, if there was anyone willing to do that”.

An explosion of a missile is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv (REUTERS)
An explosion of a missile is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv (REUTERS)

The MP believes Russia is “trying to find and to hit the warehouses with weapons ammunition, which we have received for the counter offensive”.

Ms Sovsun said the country is “extremely grateful” to the UK for No 10’s announcement that Britain will send hundreds of air defence missiles and additional unmanned aerial systems to Ukraine, saying the UK has been “a great friend” to Ukraine.

She said: “I remember when there was a change of leadership, there was speculation that maybe the new leadership will not be as supportive, will not be providing so much help, but I always believe that this UK position about this war is based on an understanding of the UK interests.

“It is not just humanitarian help, it is an understanding to what extent Russia is a threat to the UK national interest as well, and that is why I’m very happy to see this coming through, that the new leadership is still as supportive.

“We really wish that the rest of the world were as proactive as the UK is in helping Ukraine to protect ourselves.”

The recent escalation of attacks shows Russia is “concerned about a counter-offensive”, Ms Sovsun said, adding: “They’re definitely not happy about their so-called winter counter-offensive not being successful.

“They were talking about their counteroffensive for so long but they still do not have the full control of Bakhmut city, which they have been trying to claim for three months now.”

Ms Sovsun believes “questions are being raised in the Russian army but also among Russian people” about how much the army can achieve.

“I think that that is why they are trying to target civilian infrastructure and cities, and then try to scare people, because they believe that they cannot do much on the frontline,” she said.

The MP said the country’s residents have to “continue to live our lives”, adding: “I am absolutely sure that we will win.”

Japan and US to continue Russia sanctions and Ukraine support

Thursday 18 May 2023 14:56 , Martha Mchardy

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida has agreed with U.S. president Joe Biden to continue sanctions against Russia and support of Ukraine, prime minister Kishida told reporters as the two leaders met in the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Thursday.

Prime minister Kishida added that both countries also affirmed the importance of working together on common issues regarding China.

Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut advance by more than a mile as Wagner group reports retreats

Thursday 18 May 2023 14:43 , Martha Mchardy

Ukrainian troops have advanced by more than a mile on the outskirts of the besieged city of Bakhmut, according to reports.

Ukraine’s military, which has been cautious so far in reporting gains in the area, said troops had advanced in places by more than a mile. Its forces had been on the defensive for half a year, weathering a huge winter and spring offensive by Moscow that saw only slow gains.

“Despite the fact that our units do not have an advantage in equipment ... and personnel, they have continued to advance on the flanks, and covered a distance of 150 to 1,700 metres (1.1 miles),” military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi said in televised comments.

It comes after the head of the Russian Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin accused commanders of Russia’s regular forces of abandoning vital ground on the flanks north and south of Bakhmut.

In May, Prigozhin announced his intention to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut in a row over support from Vladimir Putin’s government - but appeared the backtrack on this claim soon after.

Yevgeny Prigozhin (PRIGOZHIN PRESS SERVICE)
Yevgeny Prigozhin (PRIGOZHIN PRESS SERVICE)

The Wagner group reported Russian retreats from Bakhmut today.

“Unfortunately, units of the Russian Defence Ministry have withdrawn up to 570 metres (1,880 feet) to the north of Bakhmut, exposing our flanks,” Prigozhin said in his latest voice message on Thursday.

“I am appealing to the top leadership of the Ministry of Defence - publicly - because my letters are not being read,” Prigozhin said, addressing Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

“Please do not give up the flanks.”

The Russian defence ministry has acknowledged some withdrawals from positions near Bakhmut over the past week but denies Prigozhin’s assertions that flanks are crumbling, or that it has withheld ammunition from Wagner.

However, Russia’s presence remains on the battlefield. Ukrainian troops near the front line said Russia was bombarding access roads to slow the Ukrainian assault on Bakhmut ahead of the country’s planned counter-offensive.

“Now, for the most part, as we have started to advance, they are shelling all the routes to front positions, so our armoured vehicles can’t deliver more infantry, ammunition and other things,” said Petro Podaru, commander of a Ukrainian artillery unit.

Russian ministry says struck Ukrainian targets using high-precision missiles -TASS

Thursday 18 May 2023 14:13 , Martha Mchardy

The Russian defence ministry said on Thursday that it had struck Ukrainian military targets using high-precision missiles, a day after a major wave of missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent's website