Putin 'will announce mass mobilisation of Russians on May 9', says Ben Wallace

Putin ‘will announce mass mobilisation of Russians on May 9’, says Ben Wallace

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Vladimir Putin could announce the mass mobilisation of Russians on May 9, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has said.

Mr Wallace said that Putin could declare that “we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people”.

He told LBC that the Russian leader had “failed” in “nearly all [of his] objectives”.

He added: “We have to help Ukrainians effectively get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back”.

Meanwhile, the British ambassador to Ukraine has announced the reopening of the embassy in the capital of Kyiv after it was temporarily relocated days before the Russian invasion began.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:37 PM

Putin has now made his fourth calamitous error

It’s usually a mistake to call a winner midway through a war; fortune can be a cruel taskmaster. Yet it is already clear that Vladimir Putin has made at least four catastrophic miscalculations in his murderous assault on Ukraine.

First, he hugely underestimated the resolve and strength of the Ukrainian resistance. Secondly, he was seemingly unaware of the incompetence and ill-disciplined thuggishness of his own military.

Read the full piece from Jeremy Warner here

04:57 PM

British soldier captured in Ukraine paraded on television by Russian captors

A British soldier captured in Ukraine has been paraded on television by Russian forces.

Andrew Hill appeared seriously injured, with bandages around his head and his arm in a sling.

Asked questions by his captors, the father of four spoke quietly, barely looking up and apparently dazed and terrified.

Read the full story from Victoria Ward here

04:43 PM

Prince Charles: Ukraine war reminds us of the need for a ‘credible defence’

The war in Ukraine is a “stark reminder” that there is “no substitute for credible defence”, the Prince of Wales has said, in a strong statement to Britain’s military.

The Prince, who will one day be head of the Armed Forces, told troops that the conflict “clearly demonstrated” that high-tech modern warfare was still no match for “highly motivated and well-trained people”.

Saying “we are all shocked” by images of a return to war in Europe, the Prince said the conflict had “highlighted the importance of alliances”.

Read the full story from Hannah Furness here

04:21 PM

Ukrainian fighter says UN evacuation initiative is cause for hope

A Ukrainian fighter holed up in Mariupol’s steel works has said that he hoped the United Nations would come to the besieged area to evacuate civilians, and that for the first time he had real hope his troops might make it out alive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said that Ukraine planned to evacuate civilians sheltering in underground bunkers in the vast industrial complex of Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works, though he gave no details.

Russia, whose forces are surrounding the plant, did not immediately comment on the Ukrainian presidency’s remarks.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said after meeting Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Thursday that intense discussions were under way to enable the evacuation of Azovstal.

03:52 PM

Listen to our latest Ukraine podcast: Furious fighting rages in the Donbas

03:46 PM

Ukrainian fighter says UN evacuation initiative is cause for hope

A Ukrainian fighter holed up in Mariupol’s steel works said on Friday he hoped the United Nations would come to the besieged and devastated area to evacuate civilians, and that for the first time he had real hope his troops might make it out alive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said on Friday that Ukraine planned to evacuate civilians sheltering in underground bunkers in the vast industrial complex of Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works, though he gave no details.

Russia, whose forces are surrounding the plant, did not immediately comment on the Ukrainian presidency’s remarks.

Though Moscow last week claimed control over the war-torn city, hundreds of Ukrainian forces are dug in at Azovstal, which has been pounded by Russian forces.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after meeting Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Thursday that intense discussions were under way to enable the evacuation of Azovstal.

03:36 PM

Germany reportedly considers sending howitzers to Ukraine

Germany is considering sending long-ranged howitzers to Ukraine, a security source told Reuters on Friday, confirming a report published by Welt am Sonntag newspaper only days after Berlin first decided to supply heavy weapons to Kyiv.

The move follows warnings by the Kremlin that Western arms supplies to Ukraine posed a threat to the security of the European continent “and provoke instability”.

Ukraine’s pleas for heavy weapons have intensified since Moscow shifted its offensive to the Donbas, an eastern region with largely flat, open terrain seen as better suited for tank battles than the areas in the north around the capital, Kyiv, where much of the earlier fighting took place.

Berlin is in talks with the Dutch government on delivering the Panzerhaubitze 2000 to Ukraine, the source said, referring to one of the most powerful artillery weapons in the Bundeswehr inventories that can hit targets at a distance of 40 km (25 miles).

03:24 PM

US sees no threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite rhetoric

The United States does not believe that there is a threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite a recent escalation in Moscow’s rhetoric, a senior US defence official said on Friday.

“We continue to monitor their nuclear capabilities every day the best we can and we do not assess that there is a threat of the use of nuclear weapons and no threat to NATO territory,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

03:19 PM

Ukrainian weightlifting champion killed alongside her mother

A 14-year-old Ukrainian weightlifting champion has been killed alongside her mother by Russian shelling in Mariupol, writes Charlie Metcalfe.

Alina Peregudova had been a candidate for Ukraine’s national team, having won gold medals at the under-17 National Women’s Championship last year.

She attended a specialist regional sports college in Donetsk, as well as the Olympic weightlifting school for young people.

A Mariupol City Council spokesperson said: “Mariupol and the world will never forget Russia’s crime against humanity! You will not hide or justify them. Those who came to us with the war will be punished.”

03:17 PM

US hopes to pass Ukrainian aid bill ‘as soon as possible’

Nancy Pelosi, the US House of Representatives Speaker, has said she hopes to pass a $33 billion aid package for Ukraine requested by President Joe Biden “as soon as possible.”

“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said.

“The cost of this fight – it’s not cheap – but caving to aggression is going to be more costly.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky has praised Biden’s offer of help, which amounts to nearly ten times the aid Washington has sent so far since the war began on Feb. 24.

He tweeted: “Thank you @POTUS and the American people for their leadership in supporting Ukraine in our fight against Russian aggression. We defend common values – democracy and freedom. We appreciate the help. Today it is needed more than ever!”

03:13 PM

British ambassador announces reopening of embassy

02:44 PM

Ukraine conflict in pictures

Lyubov, 85, stands in front of a 19th century wooden church, damaged by rocket attack, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the village of Viazivka, Zhytomyr region – VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/ REUTERS

 A pedestrian walks by a mural by Corie Mattie and Juliano Trindade reading 'To Ukraine with Love' and displaying the severed head of Russian President Vladimir Putin being carried by doves, in the Arts District of Los Angeles, California - ETIENNE LAURENT/Shutterstock

A pedestrian walks by a mural by Corie Mattie and Juliano Trindade reading ‘To Ukraine with Love’ and displaying the severed head of Russian President Vladimir Putin being carried by doves, in the Arts District of Los Angeles, California – ETIENNE LAURENT/Shutterstock

Anya Naumenko, the companion of Dmytro Danilov, poses prior to take part in the television talk-show "Porta a Porta" broadcast on the Rai Uno channel - TIZIANA FABI/ AFP

Anya Naumenko, the companion of Dmytro Danilov, poses prior to take part in the television talk-show “Porta a Porta” broadcast on the Rai Uno channel – TIZIANA FABI/ AFP

02:40 PM

Russian central bank slashes key interest rate again

Russia’s central bank said Friday it was cutting its key interest rate for a second straight time as risks of price rises and financial instability were no longer rising.

The Bank of Russia said it was slashing the rate from 17 percent to 14 percent from next week, a greater cut than predicted by many analysts.

It said this was because “price and financial stability risks (are) no longer on the rise”, following a period of emergency measures due to Russia’s military action in Ukraine.

The bank had hiked the rate to 20 percent in late February, four days after President Vladimir Putin sent in troops.

This came after Western nations imposed sanctions that largely cut Russia’s financial sector off from the global economy.

02:38 PM

Ukraine inflicts ‘colossal losses’ on Russian forces stuck in the mud

Russian combat forces have made “slow and uneven progress” in eastern Ukraine as their tanks and armoured vehicles are plagued by muddy conditions, senior US defence officials have said.

An intelligence update from the Pentagon said that the rainy spring weather has wreaked havoc to Russia’s supply chains since its invasion began and left their troops on the ground vulnerable to counterattacks.

Despite this, Ukrainian officials have acknowledged that Russian troops have made progress, capturing small towns and villages across the Donbas since they switched their focus to the eastern region.

Read the full story from Joe Barnes here

01:42 PM

Two British nationals detained reportedly named

The two British nationals reportedly detained in Ukraine have been named as Paul Urey and Dylan Healey by UK non-profit organisation Presidium Network.

A statement from Mr Urey’s mother, Linda, released by the organisation, said: “My family and I are extremely worried

“We know my son Paul and his friend who was a humanitarian aid volunteer in Ukraine has been captured by the Russians.

“He was out there on his own accord. We want everyone’s support to bring my son home and pray he is safe.

“My son Paul is also Type 1 Diabetic and needs his insulin

“We have asked the Presidium Network to help us and also the FCDO to help as well. We pray for him and hope he is safe.”

01:20 PM

US warns citizens against fighting in Ukraine after American killed

The US Defence Department warned Americans on Friday against going to Ukraine to join the fight against Russia’s invasion after a former marine was killed.

“We continue to urge Americans not to go to Ukraine… this is an active war zone, this is not the place to be traveling to,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN the day after reports emerged of the death of Willy Joseph Cancel.

Cancel’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN her 22-year-old son was killed on Monday in Ukraine while working with a private military contractor, having traveled there in mid-March.

She said her son’s body had not yet been recovered. He is survived by his wife and their child, who is not yet one-year-old.

His wife, Brittany Cancel, told ABC News that her husband “was eager to volunteer” to go to Ukraine and “went there wanting to help people.”

01:04 PM

Ukraine says Russia taking ‘colossal losses’ in Eastern battle

Ukraine acknowledged it was taking heavy losses in Russia’s assault in the east, but said Russia’s losses were even worse, as U.S. President Joe Biden called on Congress to send as much as $33 billion to help Kyiv withstand the attack.

The body of a journalist from U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio Liberty was found in rubble in the Ukrainian capital, killed in a Russian missile attack during a visit by the U.N. secretary-general.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised Biden’s offer of help, which amounts to nearly 10 times the aid Washington has sent so far since the war began on Feb. 24.

Having failed in an assault on Kyiv in the north of Ukraine last month, Russia is now trying to fully capture two eastern provinces known as the Donbas.

“We have serious losses but the Russians’ losses are much much bigger…They have colossal losses,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

12:48 PM

Tank-killing mines that launch mini-missiles deployed by Russia for the first time

A previously unseen anti-tank mine has been discovered in Ukraine that can leap into the air and attack the top of a turret.

The Russian PTKM-1R top-attack mine was discovered on April 26. Although known to exist, it is the first time that the weapon has been seen deployed operationally.

Sensors on the mine listen for the sound of approaching vehicles and interpret vibrations through the ground to compare against a pre-programmed target list.

Read the full story from Dom Nicholls here

12:18 PM

Poland and Czech Republic to ask for new refugee fund

Poland and the Czech Republic will ask the European Commission for new funds to help them deal with an influx of refugees from Ukraine, the Polish prime minister said on Friday.

“We have agreed on a joint application to the European Commission for new funds to support war refugees,” Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference, adding that the intiative would be presented soon.

12:05 PM

Bank of Russia slashes interest rates

The Bank of Russia has slashed interest rates – by even more than expected.

Three weeks after reversing part of its emergency rate hike in the wake of the invasion, the central bank lowered its key rate from 17pc to 14pc. Economists had been predicting a cut to 15pc.

Moscow is trying to prop up Russia’s economy as the country braces for a deep, two-year recession after its economy was hammered by western sanctions.

The Bank of Russia, led by governor Elvira Nabiullina, hinted there was room for further rate cuts as it expects inflation to surge as high as 23pc by the end of the year.

The central bank also downgraded its GDP forecasts to a slump of between 8pc and 10pc. It had previously expected between 2pc and 3pc growth.

11:55 AM

Poland may guard Slovakia’s air space when it grounds MiG-29 jets

Poland is ready to guard Slovakia’s air space when its MiG-29 jets are grounded, defence ministers of the two NATO member countries said on Friday, opening the way for a possible delivery of the Soviet-made planes to Ukraine.

Slovakia, which operates 12 MiG-29 planes, said earlier this month that it would consider providing the jets to help Ukraine defend itself against invading Russian forces if alternative protection of its own air space could be arranged.

“I got a confirmation that Poland is ready to take care of Slovakia’s air space from the moment Slovakia decides to ground the Mig-29 jets,” Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad told a joint news conference with his Polish counterpart.

Nad said that legislative measures needed to be in place for such a move and that Slovakia was working on this matter.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Poland could use its experience of policing the airspace of the Baltic states.

11:37 AM

Kremlin mulls pegging rouble rate to gold

The Kremlin has said it’s discussing the idea of pegging the rouble rate to gold prices, but did not provide any further details.

Russia has been scrambling to keep its currency propped up after its invasion of Ukraine sparked a huge sell-off.

Moscow has implemented a range of capital controls, as well as restrictions on trading in Russian shares, in an effort to keep the economy running artificially.

11:36 AM

‘It has been cumbersome’

The Government remains under pressure over the speed of the Ukraine refugee visa system amid continuing criticism that the process is far too slow.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, admitted this morning that the system has been “cumbersome” but she insisted Lord Harrington, the refugees minister, is working “night and day” to improve it.

She told Sky News: “The process has been slow and Lord Harrington is working literally day in, day out, night and day, with his team to make it flow. I think we have had nearly 75,000 visas now granted.”

She added: “It has been cumbersome but Lord Harrington is absolutely focused on it.”

11:23 AM

Cabinet minister repeats British people should not go to Ukraine to fight

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, told Sky News: “We don’t want people to go and fight but obviously the Foreign Office is doing all it can to support and identify these two people.”

Her comments came after it emerged yesterday that a British military veteran was killed in Ukraine while fighting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces while another British person is missing (you can read the full story here).

11:19 AM

Germany says Russian gas account won’t breach sanctions

German energy firm Uniper has insisted it wouldn’t be in breach of EU sanctions if it opened a Russian bank account in euros to pay for gas.

A spokesman for the company said: “For us, the account number doesn’t matter, or the question of whether one or two accounts are opened in one place.

“For us, it matters whether the payment happens in euros and dollars, as it is laid out in the contracts.”

Putin has demanded that buyers set up two accounts with Gazprombank – one in a foreign currency and another in roubles. The Russian lender would then convert payments to local currency.

10:52 AM

Ukraine slams Kyiv attack amid new Mariupol rescue effort

Ukraine’s leader accused Russia of trying to humiliate the United Nations by raining missiles on Kyiv during a visit by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, an attack that shattered the capital’s tentative return to normality as the focus of the war moved east.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine’s forces were holding off Russia’s attempted advance in the south and east, as efforts continued to secure safe passage for residents trapped in Mariupol, which has been largely reduced to rubble in a 2-month-long siege.

Russia pounded targets all over Ukraine on Thursday, including the attack on Kyiv that struck a residential high-rise and another building. U.S.-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said its journalist Vira Hyrych, who lives in one of the buildings hit, died. Her body was found in the rubble on Friday.

Ten people were wounded in the attack, including at least one who lost a leg, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.

10:44 AM

Rouble hits two-year high against euro ahead of rate cut

The rouble has climbed to its highest level against the euro in more than two years as traders awaited an expected rate but by Russia’s central bank.

The currency rose 1.1pc to trade at 74.55 against the euro, having earlier hit its strongest level since March 2020. Against the dollar it rose 1.6pc to 70.92, having climbed to a six-month high.

Movements on the Russian market are in part artificial, as Putin is propping up the economy with capital controls, as well as a ban on short selling and foreigners withdrawing their investments.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia is expected to cut its key interest rate to 15pc as it tries to stimulate more lending in the face of high inflation.

10:43 AM

Germany condemns Russian strike on Kyiv

Germany has berated Russia for carrying out an air strike on Kyiv during a visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling it “inhumane”.

“We strongly condemn the Russian missile attack on Kyiv while… Guterres was in talks yesterday,” government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner said, accusing Russia of having “no respect whatsoever for international law”.

10:34 AM

US seizure of Russian assets to support Ukraine would be ‘illegal’, claims Kremlin

A proposal by Joe Biden to allow US officials to seize Russian assets and use the funds to support Ukraine would amount to illegal expropriation, the Kremlin has said.

President Joe Biden asked Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine, a proposal that would also let US officials seize more Russian oligarchs’ assets, give the cash from those seizures to Ukraine, and further criminalise sanctions dodging.

10:33 AM

Two British aid workers ‘captured by Russian troops’ in Ukraine

Two British volunteers providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine have been captured by Russian troops, according to the charity that was working with them.

The non-profit organisation Presidium Network named the men as Paul Urey, 45, and Dylan Healy, 20, and said they were detained on Monday after Russian forces accused them of being spies.

The pair were working to evacuate a woman and two children from the Zaporizhzhia region when they were stopped at a military checkpoint.

Read the full story from Verity Bowman here

10:23 AM

Pictured: Aftermath of Russian missile strike

The aftermath of a multiple Russian missile strike in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital Kyiv  - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley for The Telegraph

The aftermath of a multiple Russian missile strike in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital Kyiv – Heathcliff O’Malley/Heathcliff O’Malley for The Telegraph

 The aftermath of a multiple Russian missile strike in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital Kyiv  - Heathcliff O'Malley/Heathcliff O'Malley

The aftermath of a multiple Russian missile strike in the Shevchenkivskyi district of the capital Kyiv – Heathcliff O’Malley/Heathcliff O’Malley

Emergency services are working in the area following an explosion in Kyiv, Ukraine -  Emilio Morenatti/ AP

Emergency services are working in the area following an explosion in Kyiv, Ukraine – Emilio Morenatti/ AP

10:10 AM

UK to send war crimes experts to help Ukraine investigate Russian atrocities

The UK is sending war crimes experts to help Ukraine with its investigations into atrocities committed by Russian invaders, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.

It comes after the death of a British military veteran in Ukraine and as the Foreign Office urgently seeks more information following reports of two British humanitarian workers being detained by Russian forces in the country.

The Foreign Office said the team of experts, due to arrive in neighbouring Poland in early May, will support the Ukrainian government in gathering evidence and prosecuting war crimes and will include experts in conflict-related sexual violence.

Ms Truss said: “Russia has brought barbarity to Ukraine and committed vile atrocities, including against women.

“British expertise will help uncover the truth and hold (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s regime to account for its actions. Justice will be done.”

09:55 AM

Watch: Ukrainian comedian performs stand-up routine from bomb shelter in Kyiv

09:47 AM

More details on Russian submarine strike on Ukraine

Russia used a diesel submarine in the Black Sea to strike Ukrainian military targets with Kalibr cruise missiles, the first time Moscow has announced the use of its submarine fleet to hit its former Soviet neighbour.

The Russian defence ministry released a video showing a volley of Kalibr missiles emerging from the sea and soaring off into the horizon – to what the ministry said were Ukrainian military targets.

This is the first time Russia’s military has reported using submarine strikes against Ukrainian targets, Interfax news agency reported on Friday.

09:25 AM

Netherlands reopens embassy in Kyiv

The Netherlands will reopen its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Friday, the Dutch foreign affairs ministry said.

The country removed its diplomatic staff from Ukraine two days after Russian troops invaded on Feb 24. It reopened its embassy in Lviv, in western Ukraine, last week.

“A small embassy team there (in Kyiv) will work closely with the Ukrainian authorities and other returned partner countries,” Dutch foreign affairs minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Twitter. “It is important that we provide support to Ukraine on the ground.”

A growing number of Western allies are reopening diplomatic hubs in Kyiv, including the UK and US.

09:11 AM

Ukraine says Russia taking ‘colossal losses’ in eastern battle

Ukraine acknowledged on Friday it was taking heavy losses in Russia’s assault in the east, but said Russia’s losses were even worse.

It comes US President Joe Biden called on Congress to send as much as $33 billion (£26bn) to help Kyiv withstand the attack.

President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Biden’s offer of help, which amounts to nearly 10 times the aid Washington has sent so far since the war began on Feb 24.

In Kyiv, workers were cleaning up rubble in a residential area after Russia fired two missiles at the capital during a visit on Thursday by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which Ukraine called an attack on the United Nations itself.

Having failed in an assault on Kyiv in the north of Ukraine last month, Russia is now trying to fully capture two eastern provinces known as the Donbas.

“We have serious losses but the Russians’ losses are much much bigger…They have colossal losses,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

08:46 AM

Britain sends in war crime experts to Ukraine

The UK will send war crimes experts to help the Ukrainian government with investigations into Russian atrocities, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.

The team will support the government in Kyiv in gathering evidence and prosecuting war crimes and will include experts in conflict-related sexual violence.

They will arrive in neighbouring Poland early next month to examine how they can assist.

The announcement comes as Ms Truss meets with the president of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Friday.

08:23 AM

Russia confirms ‘high-precision’ strike on Kyiv during UN visit

Russia’s defence ministry on Friday confirmed it had carried out an air strike on Kyiv during a visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“High-precision, long-range air-based weapons of the Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed the production buildings of the Artyom missile and space enterprise in Kyiv,” the ministry said in its daily briefing on the conflict in Ukraine.

Firefighters put out a fire after a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine - Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Firefighters put out a fire after a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine – Efrem Lukatsky/AP

07:57 AM

Body found in rubble after missile attack on Ukrainian capital – mayor

Ukrainian rescue workers on Friday recovered a corpse from the rubble of a building in Kyiv that was hit by a missile, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

The death was the first reported in Thursday’s missile strike as the head of the United Nations visited Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said two Russian missiles had struck the capital. Russia has not commented on the incident.

07:41 AM

British military veteran death in Ukraine ‘terribly sad’

Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the death of a British military veteran in Ukraine was “terribly sad” but denied that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss caused confusion by saying in February she would support UK nationals who chose to fight for Ukraine.

The International Trade Secretary told Times Radio: “Terribly, terribly sad news to hear…

“The Foreign Office are working closely with authorities in Ukraine and indeed supporting the family.

“But the Government was clear that the travel advice was: do not go to Ukraine. It was clear and it was reiterated many times.”

07:20 AM

‘Battle for Donbas’ critical for Russia

The “Battle of Donbas” remains Russia’s main strategic focus in Ukraine, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Friday, but it has suffered significant losses for limited territorial gains.

Russia withdrew its forces from outside Kyiv last month after failing to take the capital in the initial stages of its Feb 24 invasion and launched a massive attack in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Moscow regards winning the “Battle for Donbas” as crucial if it is to achieve its stated aim of securing control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the MoD said.

“Fighting has been particularly heavy around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, with an attempted advance south from Izium towards Slovyansk,” it said on Twitter.

But faced with strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost, officials said.

07:12 AM

Zelensky says capital attack requires ‘appropriate, powerful response’

At least ten people have been injured after Russia fired missiles into Kyiv on Thursday, during a visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The five rockets shook the central Shevchenko district and one of them struck the lower floors of a 25-storey residential building, wounding at least 10 people.

Officials said one person lost a leg and others suffered injuries from being trapped in the rubble when two buildings were hit. The bombardment came barely an hour after Mr Guterres completed talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“There was an attack on Kyiv … it shocked me, not because I’m here but because Kyiv is a sacred city for Ukrainians and Russians alike,” Mr Guterres told Portuguese broadcaster RTP.

The blasts are the boldest attack on the capital since Russian forces retreated weeks ago. Mr Zelensky said the attack required an “appropriate, powerful response”.

06:55 AM

Watch: ‘Intense discussions’ to evacuate Mariupol steel works

06:42 AM

Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians from Mariupol steel works

Ukraine hopes on Friday to evacuate civilians who are holed up with Ukrainian fighters in the vast Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol.

“An operation is planned today to get civilians out of the plant,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office said without giving details.

06:38 AM

Russian checkpoint in region next to Ukraine was shelled, governor says

A checkpoint at a village in Russia’s Kursk region bordering Ukraine was shelled on Friday, the region’s governor said.

“Mortars were fired at a checkpoint in the village of Krupets,” Kursk governor Roman Starovoyt said.

Starovoyt said Russian border guards and military gave retaliatory fire. “There were no casualties or damage,” he said.

06:19 AM

Russia hits Ukraine from all angles

Russia pounded targets from practically one end of Ukraine to the other Thursday, including Kyiv, bombarding the city while the head of the United Nations was visiting in the boldest attack on the capital since Moscow’s forces retreated weeks ago.

Ukrainian emergency services said 10 people were wounded when a Russian missile hit a 25-story apartment building in Kyiv on Thursday evening and set off a fire, which partially destroyed the first and second floors.

The bombardment came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a news conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said Ukraine has become “an epicentre of unbearable heartache and pain.”

A spokesperson said Guterres and his team were safe.

Meanwhile, explosions were reported across the country – in Polonne in the west, Chernihiv near the border with Belarus, and Fastiv, a large railway hub southwest of the capital.

The mayor of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, said rockets were intercepted by air defences.

06:05 AM

First Ukrainian corn cargo leaves Romanian Black Sea port

A cargo carrying over 71,000 tonnes of Ukrainian corn finished loading in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta on Thursday, the first since Russia invaded Ukraine, the manager of port operator Comvex said.

With Ukraine’s sea ports blocked since the war started more than two months ago, the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter has been forced to send shipments by train via its western border or through its small Danube river ports into Romania.

“This is the first panamax vessel with Ukrainian corn to leave the port,” Comvex President Viorel Panait told Reuters.

05:38 AM

Latest from the UK Ministry of Defence

05:32 AM

Oil depot shelled in Donetsk

Ukrainian forces have shelled and damaged an oil depot in the city of Donetsk in the country’s east, which is held by Russian-backed separatists, the RIA news agency quoted a separatist official as saying on Friday.

Fire reportedly engulfed the facility following the attack.

05:22 AM

Battle of Donbas remains Russia’s main ‘strategic focus’

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said the Battles of Donbas remains Russia’s main strategic focus as Moscow aims to secure control over the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

“In these oblasts fighting has been particularly heavy around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, with an attempted advance south from Izium towards Slovyansk,” the ministry said in a post on Twitter.

“Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces.”

03:58 AM

Ukrainian officials condemn Kyiv attack

02:42 AM

In pictures: Explosions rock Kyiv after Russian missile strike

Firefighters try to put out a fire following an explosion in Kyiv - AP

Firefighters try to put out a fire following an explosion in Kyiv – AP

Police officers and Army members inspect the area following an explosion in Kyiv - AP

Police officers and Army members inspect the area following an explosion in Kyiv – AP

Emergency services respond in the area following an explosion in Kyiv - AP

Emergency services respond in the area following an explosion in Kyiv – AP

02:25 AM

Video shows Russia’s bombardment on Kyiv

01:49 AM

Zelensky’s talks with Bulgarian PM ‘very substantive and warm’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had “very substantive and warm talks” on energy and defense cooperation with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov during his visit to Kyiv on Thursday.

The two leaders agreed that damaged Ukrainian military equipment could be repaired at Bulgarian plants and then sent back to Ukraine.

“Another issue we agreed on was the supply of Ukrainian electricity to Bulgaria and the joint use of the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline to diversify energy supplies in the region,” Mr Zelensky said late on Thursday in his nightly video address to the nation.

Russia this week cut off natural gas supplies to Bulgaria and also to Poland, two NATO members which have been among the strongest European supporters of Ukraine in the war.

01:42 AM

UK’s visa schemes ‘creating and heightening’ trafficking and exploitation risks, report claims

The UK’s visa schemes for Ukrainian refugees are heightening the risk of trafficking and exploitation, a report has claimed.

The report, produced by experts at UCL for the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, claimed the visa schemes elevated risks of human trafficking and exploitation, while “lacking in clarity, resourcing and accountability”.

More than 100 experts highlighted the “troubling implications” of the UK’s visa-based response, saying they were struggling to make sense of the “chaotic, fragmented and confusing” system.

01:19 AM

Today’s top stories

  • Britain is sending 8,000 troops to Eastern Europe in one of the largest deployments since the Cold War

  • Volodymyr Zelensky refused to be evacuated from his compound in Kyiv even as Russian assassination squads parachuted into the capital and tried to storm the building to kill him

  • At least 10 people have been injured after Russia fired missiles into Kyiv on Thursday

  • Two powerful blasts were heard in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine

  • Ukraine’s military said Russian troops were subjecting several places in the Donbas to “intense fire”

  • Russia is preventing injured Ukrainian troops from being evacuated from a steel plant in Mariupol because it wants to capture them, the local governor said

  • Ukrainian investigators have identified more than 8,000 cases of suspected war crimes since Russia’s invasion

  • Britain is expected to start sending anti-ship missiles to Ukraine after the Defence Secretary warned any blockade of the Black Sea could see increased food prices

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