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Russia-Ukraine war: Putin using energy as weapon, says Zelenskiy; Russia could become ‘cancerous growth’ in Ukraine, UK warns – live | Ukraine

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UK defence minister: Russian presence could become ‘cancerous growth’ in Ukraine

The UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has warned that having failed in his main objectives, Russian President Vladimir Putin may order his troops to fortify and dig in, and become a “cancerous growth” in Ukraine.

Interviewed on Sky News in the UK, he said the UK supported pushing Russia completely out of Ukraine, and did not rule out supporting Ukraine in recapturing Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. He said:

It’s certainly the case that Putin, having failed in nearly all of his objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got. Sort of fortify and dig in as he did in 2014. And just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country of Ukraine and make it very hard for people to move them out of those fortified positions. If we want this to not happen, we have to help Ukraine try to get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back.

The international community believes Russia should leave Ukraine. The international community condemned Russia for its invasion of Crimea, which was illegal in 2014, [and] its invasion of Donetsk. We’ve constantly said that Russia should leave Ukraine sovereign territory, so that hasn’t changed.

There’s a long way to go before Ukraine forces are in Crimea. What I would certainly say is that we are supporting Ukraine sovereign integrity. We’ve done that all along. Now of course that includes Crimea.

First and foremost, let’s get Russia out of where they are now in its invasion plans. And help Ukraine resolve – remember the Minsk agreement which Russia has basically ripped up was all about trying to resolve those two occupied territories. But the key thing here is to continue to support Ukraine’s sovereign integrity and their ability to defend themselves.

UK defence minister repeats assertion it is ‘legitimate’ for Ukraine to attack logistics targets within Russia

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has repeated the assertion that it is legitimate for Ukraine to target logistics within Russian territory. He told viewers of BBC television in the UK in an interview:

If Ukraine did choose to target logistics infrastructure for the Russian army, that would be legitimate under international law. It is certainly the case that Britain is assisting and finding artillery for Ukraine, which it is mainly using within Ukraine on Russian forces.

Reuters reports he said British weapons were unlikely to be used to strike Russia from Ukraine, as Ukrainian forces tend to use mobile launchers while the British army would deliver them from the air or sea.

Earlier this week Russia warned the UK after armed forces minister James Heappey expressed a similar view. Russia’s defence ministry said: “We would like to underline that London’s direct provocation of the Kyiv regime into such actions, if such actions are carried out, will immediately lead to our proportional response.”

Lviv’s governor, Maksym Kozytskyi, has posted an update on Twitter. He says that the region had one air alert with the threat of a missile strike from the south-east, from the Black Sea, which air defence prevented. He described the situation as “calm and productive all day”, and said that police processed 1,568 complaints about suspicious people and objects.

1/1 ⚡️Коротко про головне на Львівщині за добу:

🔹 Мали одне сповіщення про повітряну тривогу. Була загроза ракетного удару з південно-східного напрямку з боку Чорного моря.

Дякую нашим бійцям протиповітряної оборони, що загроза не справдилася.

— Максим Козицький (@M_Kozytskyy) April 28, 2022

The governor of Luhansk oblast, Serhiy Haidai, has posted an update on the situation with utilities in the region. He says:

7,000 more Luhansk region subscribers without electricity, difficult situation with gas supply, Severodonetsk once again without water. The power outage occurred in the mountain community, where a Russian shell hit the substation. Currently, there is no electricity in 39 settlements – 26 in full and 13 in part.

Residents of Rubizhne, Popasna, partly Lysychansk, Novodruzhesk are without water supply. We have problems with centralized water supply to homes in Severodonetsk. The Russians damaged the power cable that fed the city’s main water intake.

Yuriy Ryzhenkov, the CEO of Metinvest which owns the Azovstal iron and steel works, has been speaking to Sky News in the UK from Kyiv. He said it had now been a long time since they had heard from any of their employees at the plant, which is besieged by Russian forces in the southern port city of Mariupol. He said:

Unfortunately, we don’t know how many of our employees are still at the plant. The situation there is, I would say, a humanitarian catastrophe. The food and water that was prepared by us in the shelters is probably over.

And the Russians, since the beginning of the war, did not allow people to leave safely the place, despite their announcement of so-called green corridors. They never worked.

Our last direct contact was some time ago, when we still had some employees with satellite phones, and they were able to conduct their daily meetings. Some people managed to get out at their own risk from the plant and get to our help centre. We’re talking to them and they’re telling us the stories what’s happening there.

More broadly on the conflict, he said:

Putin has made a huge damage to Ukraine, but he has destroyed Russia, and the Russians for generations will pay for that. We’re really seeing the world uniting around Ukraine to basically to stop this Russian aggression. And I mean, we’ve learned from the second world war, when the world unites, none of the aggressors were able to win.

The UK defence minister Ben Wallace has suggested that the UK will be supplying Ukraine with weaponry that can strike Russian naval forces in the Black Sea. He told Sky News earlier:

We have said we will source and supply, if we can, anti-ship missiles. It’s incredibly important that grain that affects us all, the food prices, does get out of Ukraine. It can’t control the Black Sea. It’s not theirs anymore. And therefore making sure that Russian ships are not used to bombard cities is important.

UK defence minister: Russian presence could become ‘cancerous growth’ in Ukraine

The UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has warned that having failed in his main objectives, Russian President Vladimir Putin may order his troops to fortify and dig in, and become a “cancerous growth” in Ukraine.

Interviewed on Sky News in the UK, he said the UK supported pushing Russia completely out of Ukraine, and did not rule out supporting Ukraine in recapturing Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. He said:

It’s certainly the case that Putin, having failed in nearly all of his objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got. Sort of fortify and dig in as he did in 2014. And just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country of Ukraine and make it very hard for people to move them out of those fortified positions. If we want this to not happen, we have to help Ukraine try to get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back.

The international community believes Russia should leave Ukraine. The international community condemned Russia for its invasion of Crimea, which was illegal in 2014, [and] its invasion of Donetsk. We’ve constantly said that Russia should leave Ukraine sovereign territory, so that hasn’t changed.

There’s a long way to go before Ukraine forces are in Crimea. What I would certainly say is that we are supporting Ukraine sovereign integrity. We’ve done that all along. Now of course that includes Crimea.

First and foremost, let’s get Russia out of where they are now in its invasion plans. And help Ukraine resolve – remember the Minsk agreement which Russia has basically ripped up was all about trying to resolve those two occupied territories. But the key thing here is to continue to support Ukraine’s sovereign integrity and their ability to defend themselves.

Weronika Strzyżyńska

Efforts are under way to get emergency contraception into Ukrainian hospitals as quickly as possible, as reports of rape after the Russian invasion continue to rise.

About 25,000 packets of the medication, also known as the morning-after pill, have been sent by International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) to Ukraine, while a network of volunteers across Europe has been collecting donations of the medication from abroad and delivering them to hospitals.

“The timeframe for treating victims of sexual violence is really essential,” said Julie Taft, of IPPF. “If a woman is seen within five days of an event, then that medication should automatically be given to her.”

Taft said the IPPF was also sending medical abortion pills, which can be used up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

While emergency contraception was widely available in Ukraine, the war has destroyed local supply chains, caused a displacement of patients and healthcare providers, and increased the rate of sexual assaults.

“There is a demand for emergency contraception, but very rarely from hospitals in the west. It is mostly hospitals to the east, in Kharkiv, Mariupol, those regions,” said Joel Mitchell from Paracrew, a humanitarian aid organisation delivering food and medical equipment to Ukraine. “As soon as we made contact with hospitals in those regions, we had standing orders for that medication.”

Read our full story below:

The website of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk region in Russia has published news about its plans to “expropriate the surplus crops of farmers” in the occupied region of Kherson, Ukrainian media is reporting.

A rough Google translation appears to read: “This approach will be economically justified, given the withdrawal of many suppliers of seeds and fertiliSers from the Russian market, as well as significant costs for heat and electricity to grow their own vegetables and fruits.”

Here are some of the latest images to come out of Ukraine today.

A weapon belonging to a member of the Ukrainian army stands inside a house in a village at Huliaipole district, in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA
A neighbourhood destroyed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv.
A neighbourhood destroyed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv. Photograph: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/REX/Shutterstock
Vera, 83, and Inna, 69, sit on their bunk bed in the bunker of Ostchem factory in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine.
Vera, 83, and Inna, 69, sit on their bunk bed in the bunker of Ostchem factory in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images
Photos of the victims of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine are seen on the ‘Wall of Memory’ in Lviv.
Photos of the victims of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine are seen on the ‘Wall of Memory’ in Lviv. Photograph: Pavlo Palamarchuk/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

More than 8,500 alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine are under investigation, Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office has said.

A total of 8,653 cases have been reported and 217 children have been confirmed to have been killed, the office added.

Russia is almost ‘weaponising energy supplies’, White House says

Echoing Zelenskiy’s remarks, the White House also denounced Russia’s move to cut off energy supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing on Wednesday:

Unfortunately this is the type of step, the type of almost weaponising energy supplies that we had predicted that Russia could take in this conflict.

And we have been working for some time now, for months, with partners around the world to diversify natural gas supply to Europe to — in anticipation of and to also address near-term needs and replace volumes that would otherwise come from Russia.”

Russia considers gas and trade as a weapon, Zelenskiy says

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pointedly accused Russia of “energy blackmail” against Europe in his most recent national address.

Zelenskiy said Russia’s decision to cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria shows “no one in Europe can hope to maintain any normal economic cooperation with Russia”.

This week, Russia’s leadership launched a new series of energy blackmail of Europeans. The decision to cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria is another argument in favour of the fact that no one in Europe can hope to maintain any normal economic cooperation with Russia.

Russia considers not only gas, but any trade as a weapon. It is just waiting for the moment when one or another trade area can be used. To blackmail Europeans politically. Or to strengthen Russia’s military machine, which sees a united Europe as a target.

Hence, the sooner everyone in Europe admits that it is inadmissible to depend on Russia in trade, the sooner it will be possible to guarantee stability in European markets.”

Russia’s Black Sea fleet retains ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets, UK MoD says

Russia’s Black Sea fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets, despite its “embarrassing losses”, Britain’s defence ministry said in its latest intelligence report this morning.

Approximately 20 Russian Navy vessels are currently in the Black Sea operational zone, including submarines.

The Bosporus Strait remains closed to all non-Turkish warships, rendering Russia unable to replace its lost cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea.

Despite the embarrassing losses of the landing ship Saratov and cruiser Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets.”

Kherson to transfer to rouble from 1 May, Russian official claims

The southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which Russia claims to have captured, will transition to using the rouble from 1 May, according to Russian state media.

Kirill Stremousov, the deputy chairman of the military-civilian administration of the region, told Ria Novosti that the transition would take place over a period of four months, during which the Russian rouble and the Ukrainian hryvnia will be in circulation.

After this period, the region will fully transition to using Russian currency, he added.

From May 1, we are moving into the ruble zone,” Stremousov told the outlet.

The Guardian has been unable to immediately independently verify Stremousov’s claims.

Russian forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a pro-Ukraine rally that broke out on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General said.

“During a peaceful pro-Ukrainian rally on Freedom Square in the city of Kherson, servicemen of the Russian armed forces used tear gas and stun grenades against the civilian population,” the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in a statement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised the protests, saying in a late night address that “I am grateful to everyone who has not given up, who is protesting, who is ignoring the occupiers and showing the marginal people who have become collaborators that there is no future for them”.

The day before, local authorities said Russia appointed its own mayor to the city after its troops took over the administration headquarters in the regional capital.

War has cost Ukraine $600bn, Zelenskiy says

The total losses inflicted upon Ukraine from the war have reached $600 billion, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said.

The president met with local and regional authorities on Wednesday to discuss Ukraine’s post war reconstruction. Zelenskiy said:

Preliminary estimates of Ukraine’s losses from this war reach $600 billion today. More than 32 million square meters of living space, more than 1,500 educational facilities and more than 350 medical facilities have been destroyed or damaged.

Economic entities suffered huge losses – hundreds of enterprises have been destroyed. About 2,500km of roads and almost 300 bridges have been ruined or damaged. And it’s not just statistics. This is Mariupol, this is Volnovakha, this is Okhtyrka, this is Chernihiv, this is Borodianka and dozens or dozens of our cities, towns and villages.”

According to the president, more than 11.5 million Ukrainians have fled their homes due to the fighting, and about 5 million of them have gone abroad with 95% of migrants already wanting to return home.

Damage caused to Ukraine’s infrastructure as a result of the war has reached almost $90 billion, the country’s minister of infrastructure added.

Most of the damage has been inflicted on railway, road and bridge infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

Truss urges ‘doubling down’ on support for Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine must be the “catalyst for change” to overhaul the west’s approach to international security and the west should be “doubling down” on its support for Ukraine, the UK’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has said.

Speaking at Mansion House in London on Wednesday evening, Truss described Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, as a “desperate rogue operator with no interest in international norms”.

Faced with appalling barbarism and war crimes, which we’d hoped had been consigned to history, the free world has united behind Ukraine in its brave fight for freedom and self-determination.

Those who think they can win through oppression, coercion or invasion are being proved wrong by this new stand on global security – one that not only seeks to deter, but also ensures that aggressors fail.

We cannot be complacent – the fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance.

But let’s be clear – if Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again.

So we must be prepared for the long haul. We’ve got to double down on our support for Ukraine. And we must also follow through on the unity shown in the crisis. We must reboot, recast and remodel our approach.”

We must learn the lessons from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. This has to be a catalyst for change to protect the free world.

We need a new approach based on military strength, economic security and deeper alliances.

My speech tonight 👇https://t.co/BSZh2jLBQa

— Liz Truss (@trussliz) April 27, 2022

The foreign secretary suggested the west should be “digging deep into our inventories [and] ramping up production” of heavy weapons, tanks and planes while sanctions against Russia needed to go further to include cutting off oil and gas imports “once and for all”.

We are doubling down.

We will keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine.

And this has to be a catalyst for wider change …

The war in Ukraine is our war – it is everyone’s war because Ukraine’s victory is a strategic imperative for all of us.”

The west must ‘double down’ on support for Ukraine, says Liz Truss – video

Putin warns of ‘lightning fast’ retaliation if west interferes in Ukraine

In an address to lawmakers in St Petersburg earlier on Wednesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin warned any countries attempting to interfere in Ukraine would be met with a “lightning-fast” response from Moscow.

The Russian president said the west wanted to cut Russia up into different pieces and accused it of pushing Ukraine into conflict with Russia, adding:

If someone intends to intervene into the ongoing events (in Ukraine) from the outside and creates unacceptable strategic threats for us, then they should know that our response to those strikes will be swift, lightning fast.

Russian troops would not hesitate to use the most modern weaponry, Putin said:

We have all the tools for this — ones that no one can brag about. And we won’t brag. We will use them if needed. And I want everyone to know this.

We have already taken all the decisions on this.

Vladimir Putin warned any countries attempting to interfere in Ukraine would be met with a “lightning-fast” response from Moscow.
Vladimir Putin warned any countries attempting to interfere in Ukraine would be met with a “lightning-fast” response from Moscow. Photograph: Alexey Danichev/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images

UN chief to meet Zelenskiy after talks with Putin

United Nations secretary general António Guterres is set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy today after he arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Guterres is fresh from his visit to Russia where he met with Vladimir Putin, later describing the face-to-face tasks as “very useful.”

The secretary-general defended the role of the UN in terms of bringing an end to the two-month-old conflict but stressed the war “will not end with meetings” in an interview with CNN:

The war will not end with meetings. The war will end when the Russian Federation decides to end it and when there is – after a ceasefire – a possibility of a serious political agreement.

We can have all the meetings but that is not what will end the war.

During Wednesday’s meeting with Putin, Guterres said he discussed the evacuation of civilians from the steel factory encircled in the southern port city of Mariupol.

He said Putin agreed “in principle” on the evacuation of civilians and that discussions were taking place between UN officials and Russia’s ministry of defence to fine tune the details.

“We are also in contact with the government of Ukraine to see if we can have a situation in which nobody can blame the other side for things not happening,” he said.

I have arrived in Ukraine after visiting Moscow.

We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support & secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones.

The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world.

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) April 27, 2022

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments until my colleague, Martin Belam, takes the reins a little later in the day.

It is just past 7am in Ukraine. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Vladimir Putin has warned any countries attempting to interfere in Ukraine would be met with a “lightning-fast” response from Moscow. In an address to lawmakers in St Petersburg, the Russian president said troops would use “all the tools for this — ones that no one can brag about”.
  • The UK is “digging deep” into its inventories, including heavy weapons, tanks and aeroplanes, to defend Ukraine and other countries threatened by Russia, Truss added. “Some argue we shouldn’t provide heavy weapons for fear of provoking something worse. But my view, is that inaction would be the greatest provocation,” she said.
  • The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, has arrived in Ukraine after meeting Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. Guterres will meet the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Thursday.
  • Russia has warned other EU customers may be cut off from Russian natural gas supplies if they refuse to pay in roubles. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s comments came after Russia halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, a move that European leaders denounced as “blackmail”, which the Kremlin later denied. Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, described Russia’s move as “a direct attack” on Poland.
  • The White House denounced Russia’s move to cut off energy supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily briefing on Wednesday: “Unfortunately this is the type of step, the type of almost weaponising energy supplies that we had predicted that Russia could take in this conflict.”
  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Russia’s actions as amounting to “energy blackmail” against Europe in his nightly national address. Zelenskiy said Russia’s decision to cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria shows “no one in Europe can hope to maintain any normal economic cooperation with Russia”.
  • A Ukrainian commander in the besieged city of Mariupol said there are more than 600 injured civilians and fighters in the Azovstal steel works. Serhiy Volyna, acting commander of the 36th marine brigade, said hundreds of civilians including children were living in unsanitary conditions and running out of food and water. Officials earlier said Russian forces were again attacking the huge steel plant.
  • The interior ministry of Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria issued a statement claiming it came under attack from Ukraine. It said drones were spotted and shots were fired near Kolbasna, which it claims contains one of the largest ammunition dumps in Europe.
  • A former head of the Polish army has accused Boris Johnson of “tempting evil” by revealing that Ukrainian soldiers were being trained in Poland in how to use British anti-aircraft missiles before returning with them to Ukraine. Gen Waldemar Skrzypczak complained that a loose-lipped PM had revealed too much to the Russians and that his remarks risked the safety of the soldiers involved.
  • The European Commission has proposed suspending import duties on all Ukrainian products to help the country’s economy during the war with Russia. The proposed one-year suspension, which would need to be approved by the European Parliament and its 27 member states, comes a day after Britain announced it was dropping all tariffs on Ukrainian goods.
  • Russia’s foreign ministry announced sanctions on 287 members of Britain’s House of Commons, accusing them of “whipping up Russophobic hysteria”. The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, said those members who had been hit with sanctions by Russia should regard it as “a badge of honour”.
  • A top executive at one of Russia’s largest private banks said he has quit his post and fled to Kyiv to fight for Ukraine. In an interview with the independent Russian news outlet The Insider, Ukrainian-born Igor Volobuev, vice president of Gazprombank, said he “could no longer be in Russia” and that he wants to “wash off” his Russian past.
  • Two American volunteers fighting in Ukraine were reportedly wounded by artillery fire near the city of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region. US army veterans Manus McCaffrey and Paul Gray were working together as a team targeting Russian tanks with Javelin anti-tank systems when they were injured, according to reports.
  • The total losses inflicted upon Ukraine from the war have reached $600bn, Zelenskiy said. “More than 32m square metres of living space, more than 1,500 educational facilities and more than 350 medical facilities have been destroyed or damaged,” he added. “About 2,500km of roads and almost 300 bridges have been ruined or damaged.”
  • The rouble soared to a more than two-year high against the euro in Moscow trade on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

As usual, please feel free to reach out to me by email or Twitter for any tips or feedback.

Iryna Terekhova (55) stands in the entrance to her destroyed house in Lukashivka village in the Chernihiv region.
Iryna Terekhova (55) stands in the entrance to her destroyed house in Lukashivka village in the Chernihiv region. Photograph: Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA





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