- Moscow has refocused its offensive on Ukraine’s eastern region after failing to capture KyivKyiv says Russian troops have seized two towns in the Donbas, where Moscow has focused the new phase of its offensive, and a pair of villages in Kharkiv.
- Polish president accuses Russian energy giant Gazprom of violating “basic legal principles” by halting exports to Poland and Bulgaria over gas-for-roubles payment row.
- Moscow rolls out sanctions on British lawmakers in a tit-for-tat move.
- Authorities in Transnistria, Moldova’s Russia-backed breakaway region, say shots were fired into the territory from Ukraine overnight.
Here are all the latest updates:
EU chief warns paying for Russian gas in roubles will breach sanctions
The head of the European Union’s executive Commission says energy companies in the 27-nation bloc that agree to Moscow’s demands to pay for gas deliveries in roubles will be breaching the sanctions it has imposed against Russia.
“We have round about 97 percent of all contracts that explicitly stipulate payments in euros or dollars, so it’s very clear. And the request from the Russian side to pay in roubles is a unilateral decision and not according to the contracts,” Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference in Brussels.
Von der Leyen also denounced Russia’s decision to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria as another “provocation from the Kremlin” and said that both countries are now receiving gas from their EU neighbors following an urgent meeting of member states.
It comes as no surprise that the Kremlin uses fossil fuels to blackmail us.
This is something the @EU_Commission has been preparing for, with Member States and international partners.
Our response will be immediate, united and coordinated.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 27, 2022
Ukrainian official says Russia ready to use Transnistria for military push
Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has accused Russia of being ready to use Transnistria as a bridgehead to move troops onto Ukrainian territory or the remainder of Moldova.
Hanna Malyar’s comments came after local authorities in the Moscow-backed breakaway region reported a string of alleged attacks in recent days.
Russia says it is closely following events in Transdniestria. The Russian foreign ministry was this week quoted by the country’s RIA Novosti news agency as saying that it wants to avoid a scenario in which Moscow would have to intervene there.
Zelenskyy says he has been invited to G20 summit
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo has invited him to the G20 summit set to be held in the Southeast Asian country later this year.
There was no immediate comment from Widodo on the pair’s talks.
The United States has pushed for Russia to be expelled from the G20 over its invasion.
Had talks with President 🇮🇩 @jokowi. Thanked for the support of 🇺🇦 sovereignty and territorial integrity, in particular for a clear position in the UN. Food security issues were discussed. Appreciate inviting me to the @g20org summit
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 27, 2022
Norway says Russia is expelling three of its diplomats
Norway’s foreign ministry says Russia is expelling three Norwegian diplomats, weeks after Oslo expelled a similar number of Russian envoys over Moscow’s invasion.
“The Russian side has no basis for accusing the Norwegian diplomats to do anything else than normal diplomatic work,” the ministry told the Reuters news agency.
UK PM calls Russia sanctions on British MPs a ‘badge of honour’
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told the country’s lawmakers who have been sanctioned by Russia to consider the measures as a “badge of honour”.
“We will keep up our robust and principled support for the Ukrainian people and their right to protect their lives, their families and themselves,” Johnson told the United Kingdom’s Parliament.
His remarks came after Russia’s foreign ministry announced Moscow had imposed personal restrictions on 287 MPs and banned them from entering the country.
UNWTO chief says Russia quitting the organisation
The head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization has announced that Russia decided to quit the international agency just as its member states were preparing to vote on its suspension over its invasion.
Zurab Pololikashvili, the secretary-general of the Madrid-based body, had earlier said he hoped members would vote to suspend Russia from UNWTO.
The move follows a vote by the UN General Assembly earlier this month to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council – an intergovernmental body within the assembly – over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” in Ukraine.
Duda accuses Gazprom of ‘violating basic legal principles’
Poland’s president says he is certain legal action will be taken against Russia’s Gazprom for breach of contract after the energy giant halted supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over a payment row.
“Basic legal principles have been broken, violated,” Andrzej Duda said during a visit to the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague.
“Appropriate legal steps will be taken and there will be appropriate compensation from Gazprom for violations of the provisions of the contract,” he added.
No deal for Zelenskyy-Putin meeting: Ukrainian negotiator
Mykhailo Podolyak, an aide to Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a negotiator in Kyiv’s talks with Moscow, says no agreement has been reached for the Ukrainian president and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the war despite efforts by Turkey to arrange such a meeting.
His remarks came after Ankara said on Tuesday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had told Putin in a phone call that maintaining the “positive momentum” achieved in talks between Ukraine and Russia earlier this month in Istanbul would benefit all sides.
Russia denies it is using gas for ‘blackmail’
Moscow has dismissed accusations it is using natural gas supplies to “blackmail” European countries.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Russia was a reliable energy supplier after Gazprom cut off supplies to Bulgaria and Poland over a payments row.
He declined to say how many countries had agreed to switch to paying for gas in roubles in line with a decree issued last month by Putin.
Newly re-elected Macron to toughen stance on Russia: Analysts
Emmanuel Macron’s victory in securing a second term as France’s president will enable him to adopt a more aggressive approach on the Ukraine-Russia conflict, analysts say.
Read more here.
Russia bars entry to 287 British MPs
Russia has imposed personal restrictions on 287 British members of parliament and banned them from entering the country, accusing them of fuelling “unwarranted Russophobic hysteria”, the country’s foreign ministry has announced.
The ministry said the sanctions on members of the House of Commons were a response to the UK imposing similar restrictions on 386 members of its lower house of parliament on March 11.
Gas for roubles row puts ‘countries in Europe in a tight spot’: Analyst
Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at the Sweden-based SEB bank, says Poland has “prepared to reduce its energy reliance on Russia for quite a long time”.
“It has built a liquified natural gas terminal which is now up and running and receiving LNG from the United States and Qatar, and soon will have the Baltic pipeline going from the North Sea via Denmark to Poland as well,” Schieldrop told Al Jazeera from Oslo.
“So Poland is well prepared for this, and to be independent, and that is why they actually dared to say they were not going to pay for Russian gas in roubles,” he added.
“But this puts other countries in Europe in a tight spot … there are only two choices for the European Union member states in general, either to pay in roubles … or to accept that you don’t get any gas and then run into a recession and a dire deficit of energy in general and natural gas specifically.”
Czech Republic sees no signals of Russian gas disruptions, PM says
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has said there are no indications the country is experiencing any interruption to its gas supplies, but warned it must be prepared for possible disruptions.
The Central European country is nearly 100 percent dependent on Russia for its gas.
Bulgaria, Poland ‘refused’ to meet Russia’s demand: AJE correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Moscow, says Russia’s move to halt gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria is the result of the decision taken by Putin last month to demand the countries pay for their supplies in roubles.
“For the entire month of April, European countries imported Russian gas and they had to pay for it by the end of the month – when that time came these two particular countries refused to pay in the local currency,” Jabbari said.
“Their contracts with Gazprom are in dollars or euros but because of the severe sanctions that have been placed on Russia, Putin decided this [move to demand roubles for gas] was one way of ensuring that the rouble would not plummet and be devalued at a rate that would see the country’s economy completely collapse,” she added.
“He firmly believes that Europe is not in a position to turn away from Russian gas and oil, and that they have no other viable options.”
Von der Leyen says bloc ‘prepared’ for Gazprom’s move
Von der Leyen has accused Russia of trying to “blackmail” the EU with its energy resources but said the bloc was “prepared” for Moscow’s move to curtail gas supplies to member states Poland and Bulgaria.
“We are mapping out our coordinated EU response. Europeans can trust that we stand united and in solidarity with the Member States impacted,” she tweeted.
The EU chief’s remarks came after Russia’s Gazprom earlier said it had halted all gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland after not receiving payment in roubles from the two countries for its exports.
Gazprom’s announcement is another attempt by Russia to blackmail us with gas.
We are prepared for this scenario. We are mapping out our coordinated EU response.
Europeans can trust that we stand united and in solidarity with the Member States impacted.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 27, 2022
Poland, Bulgaria urge calm despite gas supplies cut: AJE correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba, reporting from London, says Poland and Bulgaria are “hugely reliant” on Russia for gas.
“Poland to the tune of 55 percent for its gas imports, and Bulgaria to the tune of 90 percent of its gas imports,” Baba said.
“But both of the governments are saying there is no need to worry right now … the Polish prime minister has said the country’s containers are 76 percent full and that it has other options [for supplies],” he added.
“And in Bulgaria, the energy minister … says there is no need for restrictions on domestic use right now.”
German lobby group calls for gas stockpiling
A German gas lobby group has said the country must immediately begin stockpiling the energy source following Russia’s move to cut supplies to Bulgaria and Poland.
“We need to save gas now so that we have enough in winter,” Timm Kehler, the head of Zukunft Gas, said in a statement.
Russia claims it hit arms depot in Zaporizhzhia
Russia’s defence ministry says its forces have struck an arms depot in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia region with Kalibr missiles.
The ministry said the depot was housing weapons from the US and European countries provided to Kyiv.
It added its air force had destroyed a total of 59 Ukrainian military targets overnight.
There was no immediate reaction to the claims from Kyiv. Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the ministry’s report.
Moldovan breakaway region reports shots fired from Ukraine
Transnistria’s interior ministry says that shots were fired from Ukrainian territory overnight towards a village in the Russia-backed breakaway region that houses a large ammunition depot.
The ministry also said it had detected drones that it alleged were launched from Ukraine.
While internationally recognised as part of Moldova, Transnistria has been under the control of separatist authorities since 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia has an estimated 1,500 soldiers in the region, which Kyiv fears could be used as a launchpad for new attacks on Ukraine.
Ukrainian official portrays blasts in Russia as payback
An aide to Zelenskyy has described explosions heard in three Russian provinces bordering Ukraine on Wednesday as “karma” and linked them to payback for Moscow’s offensive.
Podolyak stopped short of acknowledging Kyiv was responsible for the incidents, however.
“The reasons for the destruction of the military infrastructure in [Russian] border areas can be quite varied,” he said in a Telegram post, adding that “sooner or later the debts will have to be repaid” when one country decides to attack another.
Switzerland-NATO pact on classified information exchange
Switzerland’s government says it has approved an agreement that will enable it to exchange sensitive information with the US-led NATO transatlantic military alliance.
Such agreements make it possible, among other things, for Swiss companies to apply for contracts with classified content that is advertised by NATO, the Swiss government said.
Bulgarian PM accuses Russia of blackmail over gas supplies
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov says Russia’s warning it was shutting off gas supplies to Bulgaria over demands to change the payment scheme is a grave breach of a current contract and amounts to blackmail.
Petkov said Bulgaria was reviewing all of its contracts with Gazprom, including for transit of Russian gas to Serbia and Hungary, because “one-sided blackmail was not acceptable”.
Petkov said he talked to the European Commission chief von der Leyen, who assured him the 27-member bloc would have a common response. Gazprom said it had halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for failing to pay in roubles.
Russia seizes two towns in Donbas: Ukraine military
Ukraine’s army says Russian forces have captured two towns in the Donbas.
Moscow’s troops seized the town of Zarichne as part of their assault on the northern part of the Donetsk region, the General Staff of Armed Forces said in a Facebook post.
Russian troops also entered the town of Novotoshkivske, which stands on the road linking separatist-controlled parts of Ukraine’s Luhansk region with the Kyiv-controlled town of Lysychansk, the post added.
Ukraine’s defence ministry said in a separate update that Russian forces had also captured a pair of villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
Russian speaker: Cut off gas to ‘unfriendly’ countries
Russia’s top lawmaker says Gazprom has made the right decision in fully suspending supplies to Bulgaria and Poland, adding that Moscow should do the same with other “unfriendly” countries.
“The same should be done with regard to other countries that are unfriendly to us,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, wrote on his Telegram channel.
‘Ukraine is strengthening’ after US, allies promise more heavy weaponry
Podolyak says he welcomes promises by the US and its allies to send more heavy weaponry to Ukraine following talks at a German airbase.
“One of Russia’s odd demands at the start of the war was the ‘full demilitarisation’ of Ukraine. After yesterday’s epochal meeting of 40 defense ministers, I have bad news for Russia. Capacity, speed, simplified logistics, an expanded range of weapons – Ukraine is strengthening,” he wrote on Twitter.
One of Russia’s odd demands at the start of the war was the “full demilitarization” of Ukraine. After yesterday’s epochal meeting of 40 defense ministers, I have bad news for Russia. Capacity, speed, simplified logistics, an expanded range of weapons – Ukraine is strengthening.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 27, 2022
Polish gas company confirms Gazprom supplies to Poland halted
Polish gas company PGNiG confirms Gazprom has halted supplies to Poland, adding that company clients are still getting the fuel in line with their needs.
“Cutting gas supplies is a breach of contract and PGNiG reserves the right to seek compensation and will use all available contractual and legal means to do so,” the company said.
Russia destroys bridge in Odesa to protect ‘paratrooper operation’ in Moldova: Official
Russia destroyed a key bridge in the southwestern part of the Odesa region early on Monday to safeguard its possible attempt to land paratroopers in neighbouring Moldova, an aide to Zelenskyy has said.
“They apparently did it to prevent the possibility of deploying our forces there. What can we presume? That they could organise a paratrooper operation there,” Oleksiy Arestovich said.
Russian cruise missiles have destroyed the bridge across the estuary of the Dniester River near the strategic town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky, regional Governor Serhiy Bratchuk said on Telegram.
The strike, the second in the past 24 hours, cut off the railway connection between Ukraine’s mainland and the Budjak province that borders Romania and Transnistria.
Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.
Poland brings forward completion of LNG terminal
Poland wants to finish its floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in 2025, earlier than planned, the minister in charge of energy security has said.
“We want the facility to be ready in 2025, we are speeding this up. The plan was to have it ready in 2027,” Piotr Naimski told RMF FM radio after Russia said it was halting gas supplies to Poland.
Bulgaria says Russia’s gas halt breach of contract
Bulgaria’s energy minister says the country has paid for Russian gas deliveries for April and halting gas supplies would be a breach of its current contract with Gazprom, the Reuters news agency reported.
Alexander Nikolov told journalists Bulgaria would observe the European Commission’s stance urging countries not to pay in roubles for Russian gas as demanded by the Russian president.
“Because all trade and legal obligations are being observed, it is clear that at the moment the natural gas is being used more as a political and economic weapon in the current war,” Nikolov said.
Russia’s gas cuts add to ‘economic pariah’ status: UK
Russia’s decision to cut off the gas supply to Poland will add to its status as an economic and political pariah, Britain’s deputy minister has said.
“It [halting gas supply] will have a … very damaging effect on Russia as well because it is becoming further and further, more and more, not just a political pariah, but an economic pariah,” Dominic Raab told Sky News.
Gazprom says gas to Poland, Bulgaria suspended
Russia’s state energy giant says it has suspended gas supplies to Bulgarian company Bulgargaz and Polish firm PGNiG as neither had paid on time for their imports in roubles.
“Gazprom Export has notified Bulgargaz and PGNiG of the suspension of gas supplies from April 27 until payment is made in accordance with the procedure established by the decree,” Gazprom said in a statement.
It also warned that if they siphon gas intended for other European customers, the deliveries would be reduced by that amount.
The move follows Putin’s order for payments for Russian gas supplied to Europe to be made in roubles.
Hungary still receiving Russian gas: Minister
Hungary is receiving Russian gas according to its contract with Gazprom via Bulgaria and Serbia, Hungary’s foreign minister has said.
Gazprom informed Hungary that transit shipments via Bulgaria are separately handled, Reuters has reported.
“I want to assure everyone that the non-delivery of gas shipments to Bulgaria does not mean a halt in transit shipments via Bulgaria,” Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page.
Szijjarto said Hungary’s next payment obligation for Russian gas is due on May 22, and the country will transfer its payment in euros to Gazprombank, where the amount will be converted into roubles.
Russian gas to Austria continues to flow: Minister
Russian natural gas deliveries to Austria are continuing unrestricted and there is no indication that will change, Austria’s energy minister has told ORF radio.
Asked if there were any indications that gas from Russia could be cut off as in Poland or Bulgaria, Leonore Gewessler said: “No, we have no such indications … deliveries to Austria remain unrestricted.”
Austria obtains 80 percent of its gas from Russia.
Blasts heard in Russia’s Kursk, Voronezh provinces
The governor of Russia’s Kursk province, which borders Ukraine, said explosions had been heard in Kursk city early on Wednesday which were most likely the sounds of air defence systems firing.
In Voronezh, the administrative centre of another province of the same name adjacent to Ukraine, Russia’s TASS news agency cited an emergencies ministry official as saying that two blasts had been heard and the authorities were investigating.
Ukraine still controls most of its airspace: UK
Ukraine retains control of most of its airspace, while Russia has failed to effectively destroy the Ukrainian Air Force or suppress the country’s air defences, the UK defence ministry has said in its latest intelligence briefing.
It added that Russia’s air activity was focused mainly on southern and eastern Ukraine and that it had very limited air access to the north and west of the country.
The briefing also said Russia was likely using “unguided free-falling bombs” in its air attacks on Mariupol. “These weapons reduce Russia’s ability to effectively discriminate when conducting strikes, increasing the risk of civilian casualties,” the defence ministry added.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 27 April 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/yBkEQmjzoS
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 27, 2022
Ukrainian Premier League season terminated
The Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) season has been terminated and the title will not be awarded due to continuing martial law in the country, the league has said.
No matches have been played since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Chinese drone giant DJI suspends business in Russia, Ukraine
DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, has announced it is temporarily halting operations in Russia and Ukraine, in a rare example of a Chinese firm suspending business in response to the war in Ukraine.
“DJI is internally reassessing compliance requirements in various jurisdictions,” the Shenzhen-headquartered firm said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Pending the current review, DJI will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine,” the statement added.
Read more here.
Russia says it ‘liberated’ entire Kherson region
Russia’s defence ministry has said its forces have liberated the entire Kherson region in the south of Ukraine, Interfax news agency has reported.
It cited a senior official as saying elsewhere in the south of Ukraine, Russian troops had taken parts of the Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv regions, as well as part of the Kharkiv region to the east of Kyiv.
Russia shelled Sumy region for ‘more than a day’: Governor
Russia fired mortar bombs at various settlements in the Sumy region from across the border, the region’s governor has said.
“We see that these shellings continue for more than a day from Bachevsk to Billopillya. Almost the entire border line is fired from heavy artillery and mortars,” Dmitry Zhivitsky said in a Facebook video message on Tuesday.
Ukraine destroyed Russian missile system on Snake Island: Army
Ukraine’s army has said its forces destroyed a Russian surface-to-air missile system on Snake Island, known as Zmiinyi Island in Ukrainian, in the Black Sea.
“Our forces defeated hostile positions on Zmiinyi Island. A hit on the control point was recorded, the destruction of the Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile system. The losses of the rashists are being specified,” The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine wrote on Facebook. Ukraine’s army often refers to Russia’s forces as “rashists”.
The post also said that Russian forces had tried to advance towards the Mykolaiv region through the villages of Tavriyskoye and Novaya Zarya on Tuesday, “but had no success, suffered significant losses and retreated”.
Ukraine has recaptured three villages in Mykolaiv: Official
Ukraine’s army now has full control of three settlements in the Mykolaiv region, an adviser to the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has said.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine have returned full control over three villages west of Snihurivka: Shirokoye, Lyubino and Novopetrivka,” Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.
Al Jazeera could not verify this report.
Czech Republic’s FM calls Putin a ‘product of KGB’
The foreign minister of the Czech Republic has told reporters that “Sadly, Putin’s mind is a product of KGB Soviet era”.
“He really believes in this Soviet myth. They do not consider Ukraine a sovereign state, which means they are against the international order. And this imperialistic vision tends to snowball,” Jan Lipavsky said in Washington before a meeting with his US counterpart.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the Czech Republic for being a “remarkable supporter of Ukraine” and taking in more than 300,000 refugees from the country.
Was a pleasure to welcome my friend Czech Foreign Minister @JanLipavsky to @StateDept today. Impressed by our stalwart Ally’s leadership in support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. pic.twitter.com/m4IylKXwKl
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 27, 2022
Gazprom has not confirmed gas suspension to Poland: TASS
Russia’s Gazprom has not confirmed that the supply of Russian gas to Poland has already been stopped, a spokesman for the energy giant has said, according to state news agency TASS.
Sergey Kupriyanov told reporters that Gazprom stressed that “today Poland is obliged to pay for gas supplies in accordance with the new payment procedure”.
He did not comment on Bulgaria’s claims.
On March 31, Putin signed a decree for a new procedure for the payment of gas by “unfriendly countries”.
“Now such states must transfer funds in foreign currencies to Gazprombank, which will buy roubles on exchanges and transfer them to special rouble accounts of importers. Poland is on the list of unfriendly countries,” TASS reported.
UN approves measure requiring states to justify veto
The 193 members of the UN General Assembly have adopted by consensus a resolution requiring the five permanent members of the Security Council to justify their use of the veto.
The push for reform, which was greeted with applause in the chamber, was revived by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The measure is intended to make veto-holders the US, China, Russia, France and the UK “pay a higher political price” when they use the veto to strike down a Security Council resolution, said one ambassador who asked to remain anonymous.
Read more here.
More blasts heard in Russia’s Belgorod: Governor
A series of explosions have been heard in the early hours of the morning in the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukrainian border, according to the region’s governor.
Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram message that authorities were trying to establish the location and cause of the explosions.
Russia this month accused Ukraine of attacking a fuel depot in Belgorod with helicopters and opening fire on several villages in the province.
Russia probes ‘neo-Nazi’ explosive device use in Mykolaiv
Russia is investigating the “installation of explosive devices by neo-Nazis in Mykolaiv,” state news agency TASS has reported, citing a Telegram post of The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.
“According to the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, in Nikolaev [Mykolaiv], near an aircraft repair plant, neo-Nazis have installed radio-controlled explosive devices with damaging elements that they plan to detonate in a mass gathering of people and blame the Russian military for this,” the report said.
The investigative committee has reportedly requested that Russia’s defence ministry “analyse and attach this information to the available materials of the investigation”.
Russia hits railway bridge that links Odesa with Romania: Officials
Russian missiles knocked out a strategic railway bridge along a route that links southern Ukraine’s Odesa port region to neighbouring Romania, Ukrainian authorities have said.
No injuries were reported.
Ukrainian officials also said Russian forces shelled Kharkiv, which lies in the northeast, outside the Donbas, but is seen as key to Russia’s apparent bid to encircle Ukrainian troops in the Donbas from the north, east and south.
Ukrainian forces reportedly struck back in the Kherson region in the south.
Russia launched 35 air raids on Azovstal in one day: Ukraine officials
Ukrainian authorities have said that Russian forces launched 35 air raids on Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant over the past 24 hours.
“Russia has drastically intensified strikes over the past 24 hours and is using heavy bunker bombs,” Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, said on Tuesday.
“The number of those wounded will be clear once the rubble is cleared,” he added.
Russia pushing to encircle Rubizhne: Think-tank
Russian forces are making “better progress” along the line from Izyum to Rubizhne in eastern Ukraine than any other Russian advances in this phase of the war, the Institute for the Study of War says.
“They are pushing from Izyum southwest toward Barvinkove and southeast toward Slovyansk. They are also pushing several columns west and south of Rubizhne, likely intending to encircle it and complete its capture,” the institute said.
It added that Russia is proceeding “methodically rather than rapidly” but it is unclear if it will be able to “encircle Ukrainian forces in large numbers”. It also says Russian offensive operations elsewhere along the line in eastern Ukraine remain unsuccessful.
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) April 26, 2022
Russia staging false-flag attacks in Transnistria: Think-tank
Russia is staging false-flag attacks in Transnistria, Moldova, likely to set conditions for further actions on that front, the Institute for the Study of War says in its latest briefing.
It noted the battalions stationed illegally in the Moldovan breakaway region since the end of the Cold War are not sufficient to mount a credible attack on Odesa. But they could support more limited attacks to the northwest of the city, “possibly causing panic and creating psychological effects to benefit Russian operations in the south of Ukraine”.
The institute also said that despite Putin’s claim there is no more fighting in Mariupol, Russian troops are continuing to attack Ukrainian defenders in the city, including in the Azovstal Plant.
#Moldova Update:#Russian forces likely conducted additional false flag attacks in #Transnistria on April 25-26. This is consistent with earlier reports that the airbase at #Tiraspol was likely preparing for Russian aircraft on April 6 and 7.https://t.co/708vtBL0tZ pic.twitter.com/kuOw4MSPm6
— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) April 26, 2022
Zelenskyy meets Romania’s prime minister in Kyiv
Ukraine’s president has praised Bucharest’s humanitarian assistance to his nation in a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca who was on a visit to Kyiv.
Zelenskyy also thanked Ciuca for Romania’s support for Ukraine becoming a “full member of the European family as soon as possible”, according to a statement from his office.
“An important component of the common European future will be the absolute protection and development of our national minorities – the Ukrainian community in Romania and the Romanian community in Ukraine,” the statement added.
The Roma in Ukraine make up an estimated 400,000 people. Despite being persecuted throughout Ukraine’s history, many are contributing enthusiastically to the war effort.
Australia sending Ukraine M777 howitzers
Australia has announced it will send six M777 howitzers and ammunition for the long-range weapons, to Ukraine after being asked to do so by the US and Ukrainian embassies.
The latest package of military assistance is worth 26.7 million Australian dollars ($19m), taking Australia’s military aid to the war-torn country to more than 225 million Australian dollars ($160m).
Australia has already sent other weapons and military equipment, along with 20 of its Bushmaster armoured vehicles.
Ukraine’s military ready for escalation in Transnistria: Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s president has said that his military is “ready for a possible escalation in the temporarily occupied territory” of Moldova.
He made his comments in a press conference after meeting with IAEA Director Rafael Grossi in Kyiv, after a series of attacks targeted sites in Transnistria, a Russian-backed breakaway region in Moldova which borders Ukraine.
Zelenskyy said Russia’s goal was “to destabilise the situation in the region, to threaten Moldova. They show that if Moldova supports Ukraine, there will be certain steps”.
He added he knew the Russian troops in Transnistria were in a state of “constant readiness” and that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were “ready for this” and “are not afraid of them”.
Putin agrees ‘in principle’ to UN role in Mariupol evacuations
Russia’s president has agreed “in principle” to UN and International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) involvement in the evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in Ukraine’s southern city of Mariupol, according to the UN.
During a meeting in Moscow, Putin and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed the situation at the Azovstal steel plant, where the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are holed up after months of Russian siege and relentless bombardment.
“Follow-on discussions will be had with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defence Ministry,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement after the meeting.
Read more here.
Nearly three in four Americans back arms shipments to Ukraine: Poll
Some 73 percent of Americans support US efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons, the highest level of support since Russia’s invasion began, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The poll also showed that 46 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s response to the war.
British auction house launches benefit sales for Ukraine
Christie’s auction house has launched a three-part series of benefit sales, expected to raise $1m for Ukrainian heritage, Ukraine’s foreign ministry has announced.
In a tweet, the foreign ministry said the British company aims “to help heritage professionals in Ukraine lay the groundwork for future rehabilitation”.
Christie’s has launched a three-part series of benefit sales, expected to raise $1m for #Ukraine heritage.
— MFA of Ukraine 🇺🇦 (@MFA_Ukraine) April 26, 2022
Ukraine tears down monument symbolising friendship with Russia
A Soviet-era monument symbolising friendship between Russia and Ukraine was dismantled in Kyiv, the city’s mayor has said.
The statue depicted a Ukrainian and Russian worker on a plinth, holding aloft together a Soviet order of friendship. The statue was located underneath the People’s Friendship Arch, erected in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union.
“This monument … symbolised friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations. We now see what this ‘friendship’ is – destruction of Ukrainian cities, ruining the lives of Ukrainians, killing tens of thousands of peaceful people. I am convinced such a monument has an entirely different meaning now,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Symbolic. A monument to “friendship” between Ukrainians and Russians dismantled in Kyiv. First, the “Russian” head was taken down. pic.twitter.com/6YPhhSV5EO
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) April 26, 2022
Russian gas cut-off a ‘seismic warning shot’: Expert
Tom Marzec-Manser, head of gas analytics at data intelligence firm ICIS, has said Russia’s alleged threat to suspend gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria is “a seismic warning shot”.
“Poland has had an anti-Russia and anti-Gazprom stance for a number of years, which is not the case for Bulgaria, so to see Bulgaria also be cut off is also quite a development in its own right,” he told Reuters.
Poland’s energy supplies are secure, its climate ministry said, adding that there was no need to draw from gas reserves and that gas to consumers would not be cut. Bulgaria said it has taken steps to find alternative gas supplies and no restrictions on gas consumption were required for now.
UK to urge West to ‘double down’ on Ukraine support
Countries opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must double down on their support for Kyiv, including the supply of heavy weapons, tanks and aeroplanes, British foreign secretary Liz Truss will say in a speech.
“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 and double down on our support for Ukraine,” she will say according to advance extracts of a speech she will give later on Wednesday to diplomats and business leaders in London.
“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this.”
Ukraine slams reported Russian threat as ‘gas blackmail’
Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Zelenskyy, has said Russia was “beginning the gas blackmail of Europe” by its reported threat to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.
“Russia is trying to shatter the unity of our allies. Russia is also proving that energy resources are a weapon,” Yermak said.
“That is why the [EU] needs to be united and impose an embargo on energy resources, depriving the Russians of their energy weapons.”
Poland, Bulgaria say Gazprom is suspending gas supplies
Polish and Bulgarian officials say Russian energy giant Gazprom is suspending supplies to the two countries starting on Wednesday.
If confirmed, Poland and Bulgaria would be the first countries to have their gas cut off by Europe’s main supplier since Moscow started its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Putin has demanded that countries he terms “unfriendly” agree to a scheme under which they would open accounts at Gazprombank and make payments for Russian gas imports in euros or dollars that would be converted into roubles.
US offers $10m for information on cyberattackers
The US Department of State is offering a $10m reward for information leading to the “identification or location of any person” engaged in cyberattacks against critical US infrastructure.
In a statement, the department said the US is specifically seeking information on six officers from the Russian military intelligence service (GRU) “for their role in a criminal conspiracy involving malicious cyber activities affecting US critical infrastructure”.
The US Justice Department had charged the same officers in 2020 in connection to a 2017 malware attack that targeted international and US businesses.
The reward offer comes as the US government is urging private sector companies to tighten their cyberdefences against possible Russian attacks.
Canada to alter it sanctions law
The Canadian government will change its sanctions law to allow for seized and sanctioned foreign assets to be redistributed as compensation to victims or to help in rebuilding a foreign state from war, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has said.
“Today, we are seeking the capacity to not only seize but to allow for the forfeiture of the assets of sanctioned individuals and entities and to allow us to compensate victims with the proceeds,” Joly said in a statement.
“These changes would make Canada’s sanctions regime the first in the G7 to allow these actions.”
IAEA to help repair damage to Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said he agreed with Ukraine to help repair the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant after it was occupied by Russian troops.
“It is visible that there is damage and we are assessing that,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told a news conference in Kyiv after visiting the station.
US says it is seeking ‘strategic defeat’ for Russia
The US State Department spokesperson has said Washington is seeking a “strategic defeat” for Moscow in Ukraine that would leave Russia economically weaker and more isolated internationally.
“When we talk about strategic defeat, we’re talking about Moscow’s positioning in the international system,” Ned Price told reporters.
“The Moscow that prepared to invade and that on February 24 went forward with its invasion, will not be the same Russian Federation in terms of its positioning on the world stage.”
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, April 26 here.