Boris Johnson plays down fears of nuclear war with Russia

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x - Talk TV
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Boris Johnson has said he does not share concerns that Vladimir Putin will use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine as he suffers more losses.

“The incredible thing about the continuing conflict is that the Russian public overwhelmingly back Putin,” he told Talk TV’s Tom Newton Dunn.

“Therefore, he has far more political margin for manoeuvre within Russia than that argument would necessarily allow for.”

“It’s very important… that we don’t accept the way that the Russians are trying to frame what’s going on in Ukraine,” Mr Johnson added. “They want to present this as a confrontation between Russia and the West, or Russia and Nato - that is emphatically not what is going on.”

Asked if he shared analysts’ concerns about nuclear warfare, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t.”

On Monday, Sergei Lavrov warned the West not to underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine and said he viewed Nato as being "in essence" engaged in a proxy war with Russia.

​​Follow the latest updates here

3:09AM

What happened today

  • Boris Johnson said he does not share concerns that Vladimir Putin will use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine as he suffers more losses

  • Russian gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria have been cut off in an escalation of tensions between Moscow and the West

  • Liz Truss will call for an increase in defence spending on Wednesday, saying the West has overseen a “generation of underinvestment” which led to the invasion of Ukraine

  • The UK has imported around £220 million worth of Russian oil since the Kremlin sent troops and tanks across the border into Ukraine in February

  • Russia has hinted at an invasion of Moldova, saying it “would like to avoid” intervening in the breakaway region of Transnistria but suggesting it might have to act

  • Russian soldiers are forcing civilians to dig mass graves and bury the dead in exchange for food and water, the mayor of Mariupol has claimed

  • Vladimir Putin is widely expected on Wednesday to scrap key governors’ elections in Russia set for this autumn because of Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine

1:54AM

In pictures: Refugees flee the war in Ukraine

1:28AM

Lithuania calls for Germany to deliver Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Lithuania's President Gitanas Nauseda has urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to supply Ukraine with Leopard battle tanks, adding Germany should ramp up the delivery of weapons to Kyiv.

"I am not in the position of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I can only say what I would do in his place: I would deliver tanks," Mr Nauseda told local media on Wednesday.

It comes as Germany announced on Tuesday its first delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine to help fend off Russian attacks, following mounting pressure.

12:10AM

Britain has imported £220m of Russian oil since invasion

The UK has imported around £220 million worth of Russian oil since the Kremlin sent troops and tanks across the border into Ukraine in February.

Figures released on Wednesday show 1.9 million barrels of oil, or 257,000 tonnes, have been imported since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the latest stage of his eight-year occupation of Ukraine.

They flowed into the country on oil tankers from Russia tracked by environmental campaigners at Greenpeace.

They kept coming even after the Government said it would ban Russian oil imports; the UK will phase out its use of Russian oil but only by the end of the year.

10:37PM

Liz Truss vows to ‘double down’ on military aid to Ukraine

Liz Truss will call for an increase in defence spending on Wednesday, saying the West has overseen a “generation of underinvestment” which led to the invasion of Ukraine, Ben Riley-Smith, Roland Oliphant and Joe Barnes write.

In what is billed by aides as a major foreign policy speech, the Foreign Secretary will say that the traditional Nato target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence should be a minimum.

She will also underscore her support for Nato’s expansion by allowing Sweden and Finland to join, as well as vowing to “double down” on UK military support for Ukraine.

“I want to live in a world where free nations are assertive and in the ascendant,” Ms Truss will say as she maps out her policy vision in the wake of the Russia invasion.

It came as Moscow cut off gas supplies to Poland on Tuesday in an escalation of its conflict with the West over energy.

Read more: Liz Truss pushes for more defence spending

9:51PM

Pictured: Soviet monument to Ukraine-Russia friendship being dismantled in Kyiv

9:43PM

US offers rewards for Russian officers over cyberattacks

The United States on Tuesday offered $10 million rewards for help in prosecuting six Russian military intelligence officers blamed for cyberattacks that devastated businesses worldwide in 2017.

The six Russians affiliated with Russian military intelligence Unit 74455 were charged in October by a US federal grand jury with a slew of cyberattacks including on Ukraine's power grid.

With the officers likely to be in Russia, extradition appears out of the question. But the State Department said it would offer up to $10 million for information that would help to find and prosecute any of the six.

In a statement, the State Department said the individuals were part of a malware attack in 2017 known as NotPetya that attacked businesses around the world including damaging computers in hospitals across the United States, where authorities estimated losses at nearly $1 billion.

The Kremlin has rejected allegations against the military officers, alleging a "Russophobic" campaign.

9:34PM

Denmark's Orsted still has 'no intention' of paying for Russian gas in roubles

Denmark's Orsted has not been in dialogue with Gazprom, with whom it has a long-term gas contract, since Russia demanded that foreign buyers pay for gas in roubles, it said on Tuesday after Russia said it would turn off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Russia has threatened to cut off supply to countries who refuse to pay for gas in roubles but Orsted repeated that it has "no intention" of doing this.

"We have not been in dialogue with Gazprom Export since they demanded on April 1 that we pay in roubles," it said in a statement adding that Gazprom has asked it to answer before the end of May if Orsted intends to comply with the requirement.

9:32PM

IAEA says it has agreed with Ukraine to help repair damage to Chernobyl

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday said he had 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.

9:07PM

Canada to alter sanctions law to allow paying compensation from sanctioned assets

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 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," Ms Joly said in a statement on Tuesday. "These changes would make Canada's sanctions regime the first in the G7 to allow these actions."

The sanctions were already crippling Russia’s economy and depleting President Vladimir Putin's resources to continue the war, the minister said.

"We will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Putin regime and impose severe costs for this war of choice," Ms Joly added.

The changes that Canada aims to bring to its sanctions law will mean that funds or property seized from Russia could be paid out to help rebuild Ukraine or to those impacted by Russia's invasion.

8:56PM

US State Dept says its diplomats in Ukraine mission traveled to city of Lviv

Members of the US mission in Ukraine who had relocated to Poland traveled to the country's western city of Lviv on Tuesday, in a first step as Washington works to ensure the return of its diplomats to Ukraine, the US State Department said on Tuesday.

US diplomats departed the Kyiv Embassy nearly two weeks before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, moving some functions to Lviv before eventually relocating to Poland.

8:51PM

Russian capture of Chernobyl put world on 'brink of disaster', Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that Russia's capture of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the initial phase of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine had pushed the world towards the "brink of disaster".

"The world was once again on the brink of disaster" because Russia treated the Chernobyl zone "like a normal battleground, territory where they didn't even try to care about nuclear safety", Mr Zelensky said during a press conference with UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi.

"No country in the world since 1986 has posed such a large-scale threat to nuclear security in Europe and the world than Russia has since February 24," he added, referring to the date Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to attack Ukraine.

8:44PM

Gazprom informs Bulgaria it will halt gas supplies as of April 27

Russia's Gazprom has informed Bulgarian state gas company Bulgargaz it will halt gas supplies as of Wednesday, the energy ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said that along with state gas companies it has taken steps to find alternative arrangements for the supply of natural gas and to deal with the situation.

It said for the time being no restrictions in the gas consumption in the Balkan country which meets over 90 per cent of its gas needs with Gazprom's imports, were required.

8:43PM

Pictured: Vladimir Putin meets with UN Secretary-General António Guterres

8:10PM

US says talk of nuclear escalation is irresponsible

The US State Department on Tuesday criticised Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's comments about the potential of a nuclear war, saying loose talk about nuclear escalation was the "height of irresponsibility."

Lavrov warned the West on Monday not to underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine and said he viewed Nato as being "in essence" engaged in a proxy war with Russia by supplying Kyiv with weaponry.

7:37PM

Russia says it has 'liberated' Kherson region in southern Ukraine, Interfax reports

Russia's defence ministry on Tuesday said its forces had liberated the entire Kherson region in the south of Ukraine, Interfax news agency has said.

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.

7:18PM

Poland says Russia warned that gas supply will stop on Wednesday

Russian energy giant Gazprom told Poland's PGNiG it will halt gas supplies along the Yamal pipeline from Wednesday morning, PGNiG said in a statement, although the Polish government said it had sufficient reserves.

Earlier, data from the European Union network of gas transmission operators showed physical gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Belarus to Poland had halted, but they resumed later on Tuesday.

Poland's energy supplies are secure, Poland's climate ministry said on Tuesday, adding that there was no need to draw from gas reserves and that gas to consumers would not be cut.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that countries he terms "unfriendly" following his invasion of Ukraine agree to implement 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.

7:15PM

Watch: Mariupol residents attempt to clear debris from the war-torn city

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Placeholder image for youtube video: vA0tkkOuVEU

6:59PM

Trafigura to stop buying crude from Russia's Rosneft ahead of EU deadline

Global commodities trader Trafigura Group will stop all purchases of crude oil from Russia's state company Rosneft by May 15 when tighter EU rules on Russian oil sales come into effect, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The Geneva-based firm will also "substantially reduce" the volume of refined products it buys from Rosneft.

Trafigura, along with rival Vitol, is a major lifter of Russian oil, mainly from Rosneft.

The company and other major trading firms previously said they would only fulfil existing contracts and not agree any new deals.

6:47PM

Putin tells UN chief he still has 'hope' in Ukraine talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin told the visiting UN chief Tuesday that he still had hope for negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine.

"Despite the fact that the military operation is ongoing, we still hope that we will be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track. We are negotiating, we do not reject (talks)," Putin told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was visiting Moscow, in televised remarks.

Sitting across from Guterres at a long table at the Kremlin, Putin said efforts at talks with Ukraine had been derailed by claims of atrocities committed by Russian forces in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv.

"There was a provocation in the village of Bucha, which the Russian army had nothing to do with," Putin said. "We know who prepared this provocation, by what means, and what kind of people worked on it."

Putin told Guterres he was "aware of your concerns about Russia's military operation" in Ukraine and ready to discuss it, but blamed the turmoil in the country on an "anti-state coup" that overturned a pro-Russian president in 2014.

6:30PM

France says it backs Moldova in face of 'destabilisation' risks

France on Tuesday said it fully backed the territorial integrity of Moldova after a series of blasts in a Russian-backed separatist region raised fears of a spill-over from the war in Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his Moldovan counterpart Nicu Popescu France was "worried" about the reports of explosions in the breakaway Transnistria region over the last two days, the foreign ministry said.

"He reaffirmed France's full support for the stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova in the face of the destabilisation risks to which it may be exposed," it added.

6:18PM

Pictured: Dortmund and Kyiv players hold 'Stop War' banner

6:09PM

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5:55PM

No longer good enough to limit Ukraine support to defensive weapon, Truss says

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was no longer good enough to only supply Ukraine with defensive weaponry to combat Russia's invasion.

"For too long, there was a false distinction between defensive and offensive weapons. It became an excuse for some to drag their feet. That time has now passed," Ms Truss told parliament on Tuesday.

Britain had initially limited its supply of weapons to those classified as defensive, but has since spoken about expanding the arms it is supplying and using its military vehicle stock to enable others such as Poland to supply tanks direct to Ukraine.

Earlier, Germany, for the first time, announced the delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine.

5:29PM

Pictured: Sergei Lavrov and Antonio Guterres speak at Moscow news conference

5:28PM

Italy could nationalise Lukoil refinery, sources say

 Italy is considering temporary nationalisation of Lukoil-owned refinery ISAB as one of its options if sanctions are imposed on Russian oil, two government sources told Reuters.

Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti plans to raise the nationalisation of ISAB as an option when the Italian cabinet meets on Thursday, one of the sources said.

With Europe heavily reliant on Russian oil and gas imports, the continent remains divided on the issue of a ban. Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania are among states in favour of a ban on Russian oil and gas imports, while Germany and Hungary are opposed to an immediate embargo.

ISAB, which is Italy's biggest oil refinery by capacity, used to buy 30-40 per cent of its feedstock from Russia, with the rest coming from international markets.

But one of the effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that ISAB has been forced to source nearly all of its crude oil from Russian owner Lukoil because international banks are no longer providing it with credit.

5:15PM

US and allies to meet monthly on arming Ukraine

The United States and its allies will meet once a month to discuss Ukraine's defence needs to battle invading Russian troops, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

"Today's gathering will become a monthly Contact Group on Ukraine's self-defence," Mr Austin said following the first session of a weapons summit.

"The Contact Group will be a vehicle for nations of goodwill to intensify our efforts, coordinate our assistance, and focus on winning today's fight and the struggles to come," he added.

Forty nations joined Tuesday's meeting at the Ramstein US airbase in southwestern Germany, including Nato members but also countries such as Israel, Japan and Australia.

At the start of the talks, Mr Austin had said Washington would "move heaven and earth" to help Ukraine win its battle against Russia's unprovoked invasion.

4:53PM

Blinken says Putin not 'serious' about Ukraine diplomacy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no seriousness about diplomacy to end the Ukraine war, despite a series of international efforts.

"We've seen no sign to date that President Putin is serious about meaningful negotiations," Mr Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

4:45PM

Russian gas supplies to Poland halted, Polish media reports

Russian gas supplies under the Yamal contract to Poland have been halted, private broadcaster Polsat News and the Onet.pl website reported, citing unnamed sources.

PGNiG SA, which buys gas from Gazprom under a long-term contract that expires this year, declined to comment.

4:36PM

US unsure about cause of Transnistria violence, Pentagon chief says

The United States is looking at the cause of recent violence in the Russia-backed breakaway region of Transnistria, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

"Not really sure what that's all about, but it's something that we will stay focused on," Mr Austin said.

Transnistria has been subject to several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted, blasts tore through Transnistria's state security HQ and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.

4:28PM

Radiation levels in Chernobyl 'at normal'

Radiation levels in Chernobyl are now back "at normal" following a weeks-long occupation by Russian forces that sent levels higher at "some moments", the head of the UN's atomic watchdog said on Tuesday.

"The radiation level, I would say, is at normal. There have been some moments when the levels have gone up because of the movement of the heavy equipment that Russian forces were bringing here and when they left," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters.

3:57PM

US sending diplomats back to Ukraine this week, Blinken says

The United States will send its diplomats back to Ukraine this week, US  Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

More on this breaking news story to follow.

3:29PM

Russia warns Britain of 'proportional response' for provoking Ukraine to attack - RIA

Russia on Tuesday warned Britain that if it continued to provoke Ukraine to strike targets in Russia then there would be an immediate "proportional response," the RIA news agency quoted the defence ministry as saying.

Britain's armed forces minister James Heappey said on Tuesday that it was completely legitimate for Ukraine to strike Russian logistics lines and fuel supplies.

He acknowledged the weapons the international community was now providing had the range to be used in Russia.

3:14PM

Moldovan breakaway region says attacks 'can be traced to Ukraine'

The head of the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria said attacks on the territory could be traced back to Ukraine, the TASS news agency reported on Tuesday.

"The traces of these attacks lead to Ukraine", TASS cites Vadim Krasnoselsky, the self-styled president of the breakaway region as saying.

"I assume that those who organised this attack have the purpose of dragging Transnistria into the conflict."

Transnistria has been subject to several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted, blasts tore through Transnistria's state security HQ and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.

Moldova's president said on Tuesday that the attacks in the Russia-backed region were an attempt by factions within the territory to increase tensions, and the Kremlin voiced serious concern.

3:10PM

The latest images from Ukraine

2:58PM

UN wants to coordinate efforts to save lives in Mariupol, chief tells Russia

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Russia's foreign minister on Tuesday that he was ready to fully mobilise the organisation's resources to save lives and evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

"Thousands of civilians are in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance, and many have evacuated," Guterres told a news conference in Moscow after talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"The United Nations is ready to fully mobilise its human and logistical resources to help save lives in Mariupol," he said, proposing coordinated work with the Red Cross to allow those holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to leave.

Mr Guterres said he was also concerned about "repeated reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and possible war crimes", adding that they called for an independent investigation.

2:39PM

Putin and Erdogan discuss humanitarian corridors in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday discussed Moscow's efforts to ensure the safety of civilians during its military operation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

According to a Kremlin statement, the leaders in a phone call talked about "efforts made by Russia on a constant basis to ensure the safety of peaceful civilians, including the organisation of humanitarian corridors".

This came as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a visit to Russia Tuesday urged Moscow and Kyiv to work together to set up aid and evacuation corridors.

The Kremlin said Erdogan asked Putin about the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol.

The Russian leader told him that "the city is liberated and combat operations are not going on there".

2:35PM

Ukrainian deputy PM says no humanitarian corridors as fighting has not halted

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said no humanitarian corridors were operating on Tuesday as there had been no break in the fighting in Ukraine.

2:27PM

Pictured: Vladimir Putin toasts with Russian athletes at the Kremlin

2:25PM

Russian security official says Ukraine heading for collapse into several states

The powerful secretary of Russia's Security Council said on Tuesday that Western and Ukrainian government policy was leading towards the break-up of Ukraine.

Nikolai Patrushev was quoted by government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta as saying that Ukraine would collapse into several states due to the policy of the West and the government in Kyiv.

2:06PM

Russian strikes kill nine in southern and eastern Ukraine

Russian strikes today have killed at least nine civilians in southern and eastern Ukraine, local officials said.

Three people died and seven others were wounded, two of them seriously, in a bombing in the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, regional governor Oleg Synegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging service.

Three bodies were pulled from the rubble of a building in the eastern town of Popasna, Luhansk governor Sergiy Gaiday wrote on Telegram.

"They were hiding in the basement from Russian missiles. The building was hit. The walls.. collapsed into the basement," he said.

Another two people were killed and six others wounded in the eastern Donetsk region, confirmed regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

In Zaporizhzhia, one person was killed and another wounded when missiles hit a business in the southern city.

1:43PM

Lavrov: Russia 'ready to cooperate' with UN to help civilians

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was ready to cooperate with the United Nations to help civilians in Ukraine, where Russia has been conducting a military operation for over two months.

"Our goals are primarily to protect the civilian population and here we are ready to cooperate with our colleagues from the UN to alleviate the plight of the civilian population," Mr Lavrov said during a press conference with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

1:42PM

Putin says no military operations underway in Mariupol

Vladimir Putin said that the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol had been "liberated" and that no military operations were underway there, directly contradicting Kyiv's version of events.

The Kremlin said Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that Kyiv should "take responsibility" for the people holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant, and call on fighters there to lay down their arms.

"Prisoners of war are guaranteed life, medical care and treatment in accordance with international legal standards", the Kremlin said in a statement on the call.

1:21PM

Wimbledon chiefs say 'no viable alternative' to Russia player ban

Wimbledon was left with "no viable alternative" to banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year's Championships, tournament chiefs at the All England Club said today.

The decision was criticised by the ATP, which runs the men's tour, and women's tour organisers the WTA, while Rublev labelled it "complete discrimination" and defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic said it was "crazy".

But All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt defended the move, saying the decision was made after careful consideration, taking into account UK government guidance.

"We considered a wide variety of factors. After lengthy and careful consideration, we came to two firm conclusions.

"First, even if we were to accept entries (from Russian and Belarusian players) with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we could not accept.

"Second, we have a duty to ensure no actions should put players or their families at risk. We understand and deeply regret the impact this will have on all the people affected.

"We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible. We believe (given government guidance) there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation."

1:10PM

MoD issues Ukraine defence intelligence update

1:03PM

Kremlin: Russia wants to avoid intervening in Moldovan breakaway region

Russia wants to avoid a scenario in which Moscow would have to intervene in Moldova's breakaway Transnistria region, the Russian news agency RIA reported, quoting Russia's foreign ministry.

Moldova held an urgent security meeting on Tuesday and the Kremlin voiced serious concerns after two blasts damaged Soviet-era radio masts in the breakaway region of Transnistria where authorities said a military unit was also targeted.

12:56PM

UN Secretary-General talks of 'frank discussion' with Sergei Lavrov

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was concerned about repeated reports of "possible war crimes" committed in Ukraine and said they required independent investigation.

He added that humanitarian corridors which are "truly safe, effective and respected by all" were also needed and that he had proposed the establishment of a humanitarian contact group bringing together Ukraine, Russia and the UN to establish them.

12:52PM

Chernobyl occupation was 'very, very dangerous', says atomic watchdog chief

The head of the UN's atomic watchdog condemned the Russian forces' occupation of the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster for several weeks, calling it "very, very dangerous".

"The situation was absolutely abnormal and very, very dangerous," International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi told reporters during a visit to the area on the anniversary of the tragedy.

12:46PM

Finland and Sweden could decide together on Nato

Finland and Sweden might decide together whether or not they will join Nato, Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters today.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced Sweden and Finland to examine whether their longstanding military neutrality is still the best means of ensuring national security.

Stockholm is conducting a review of security policy, which includes a view on possible Nato membership, with the results due by mid-May.

Finland has said it is planning to decide on whether to apply to join the alliance "within weeks".

12:43PM

Pentagon: Russia already weakened after war in Ukraine

Russia already has a weakened military and is a weakened state after its war on Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said today before a meeting of Nato allies and partners.

"They are a weaker military. They are a weaker state right now they are and again further isolating themselves," Kirby said in an interview with CNN. "We want Russia not to be able to threaten their neighbours again in the future."

"Its economy is in tatters. Its military has been depleted in many ways, not completely, but certainly they have suffered casualties and they have suffered losses in this invasion of Ukraine," he said.

12:39PM

Russian expulsion of Swedish diplomats unjustified, Swedish Foreign Minister says

Russia has decided to expel four Swedish diplomats, Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in a post on Twitter today.

"The Russian action is unmotivated and disproportionate," Linde said. "Sweden will respond in a suitable manner to Russia's unjustified action."

12:15PM

Germany will send tanks to Ukraine in U-turn by Olaf Scholz

Germany will send tanks to Ukraine in an about-turn by Chancellor Olaf Scholz after weeks of tensions in his coalition government and pressure from his international allies, report James Crisp and Joe Barnes.

The decision is likely to further ratchet up tensions with Moscow, after Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said weapons sent to Ukraine would be a “legitimate target” and warned of the risk of the conflict escalating into World War Three.

Weaponsmaker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is set to be given permission to sell refurbished Gepard (Cheetah) anti-aircraft tanks from Germany Army stocks, it was reported by German media.

Read the full story here.

12:00PM

Ukraine says Russian rockets flew over Europe's biggest nuclear power plant

Ukraine's state-run atomic energy company said Russian missiles flew at low altitude over Europe's largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, and reiterated warnings that Russia's invasion could lead to a "nuclear catastrophe".

Energoatom issued its latest warning about the risks caused by the war with Russia on the 36th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident at the now defunct Chernobyl plant, in what was then Soviet Ukraine.

The company said cruise missiles had flown over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during an air strike which local authorities said hit a commercial building in the city of Zaporizhzhia, killing at least one person.

"Missiles lying at a low altitude directly over the site of the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant), where there are seven nuclear facilities with a huge amount of nuclear material, poses huge risks," Petro Kotin, Energoatom's acting chief, said.

"After all, missiles could hit one or more nuclear facility, and this threatens a nuclear and radiation catastrophe around the world," he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Energoatom on the Telegram messaging app.

11:50AM

UN Secretary-General set to hold press conference with Sergei Lavrov in Moscow

11:44AM

Two killed by Russian shelling in Donetsk region

Two people were killed and six wounded in Russian shelling of Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk on Tuesday, the regional governor said.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app that one person had been killed in the town of Nyu-York, and another in Travneve.

Russian shooting was continuing along the entire front line, he added.

11:26AM

Erdogan tells Putin that momentum in Istanbul talks needs to be maintained

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Vladimir 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, his office said today.

Nato member Turkey shares a border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both, and has been working as a mediator. It has hosted two separate talks between Ukraine and Russia and has been pushing to host a leaders' meeting.

"President Erdogan, who stated the importance of achieving a ceasefire, of working humanitarian corridors effectively, and of carrying out evacuations in a safe way, noted that Turkey would continue doing its utmost to halt this course of events damaging everyone and ensure lasting peace," the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

He also repeated an offer to host the Russian and Ukrainian leaders for peace talks, it added.

11:21AM

Breakaway Moldovan region raises 'terrorist threat level' after blasts

The breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria raised its "terrorist threat level" to red today and introduced checkpoints after several blasts in the region, its official news agency said.

The Russia-backed region has been hit by several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.

11:10AM

UN chief says he wants ceasefire 'as soon as possible' during Moscow visit

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a visit to Moscow that he was looking to find ways to stop the fighting in Ukraine as quickly as possible.

"We are extremely interested in finding ways in order to create the conditions for effective dialogue, create the conditions for a ceasefire as soon as possible, create the conditions for a peaceful solution," Mr Guterres said at the start of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

11:05AM

Ukraine prepares war crimes charges against Russian pilots

Three Russian pilots suspected of bombing civilian buildings in the Kharkiv and Sumy regions are among at least seven Russian military personnel that Kyiv is preparing war crimes charges against, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office told Reuters.

It said the other individuals include two operators of a rocket launcher who allegedly shelled settlements in the Kharkiv region and two army servicemen suspected of murdering a Kyiv area resident and raping his wife.

The prosecutor’s office said it had notified the individuals that they are suspects and the investigations are ongoing, adding no charges had been filed with the court.

It didn’t name the suspects or provide evidence to support the allegations. It said some of the suspects were held as captives, without specifying where, while other charges were being prepared in absentia.

Ukraine says it is investigating some 7,600 potential war crimes and at least 500 suspects following the Russian invasion.

10:56AM

US vows to move 'heaven and earth' to bolster Ukraine

The US has vowed to move "heaven and earth" to help Ukraine win its battle against Russia's unprovoked invasion, as allies from 40 nations met to bolster Kyiv's defence against Moscow.

The meeting called by the US at its Ramstein airbase in southwestern Germany aims "to help Ukraine win the fight against Russia's unjust invasion and to build up Ukraine's defences for tomorrow's challenges", said Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin as he opened the talks.

"Ukraine clearly believes that it can win and so does everyone here," he added.

The US is already the biggest supplier of international military aid to Ukraine and Mr Austin said Washington is "going to keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet" Kyiv's needs.

At the talks, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht confirmed that Berlin has agreed to give the go-ahead to the delivery of used Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.

10:53AM

Kremlin says it is closely following events in Moldovan breakaway region

Russia is closely following events in Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today, adding that news from the region was a cause for serious concern.

Transnistria has been subject to several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted, blasts tore through Transnistria's state security HQ and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.

Moldova's president has convened an urgent security meeting for Tuesday.

Russia has had troops permanently based in Transnistria since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Kyiv fears the region could be used as a launch pad for new attacks on Ukraine.

10:27AM

Pictured: What remains of a block of flats in Mariupol

10:24AM

Russia warns Japan against expanding naval drills with US

Russia has warned Tokyo it will take retaliatory measures should Japan expand the scope of its joint naval exercises with the United States, the Russian news agency RIA cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov as saying.

The drills near the Russian border are fuelling tensions in the region and posing a threat to Russia's security, Mr Morgulov was quoted as saying.

10:07AM

UN expects over 8 million Ukrainians to flee as refugees

The UN has said it is now projecting that 8.3 million people will eventually flee Ukraine as refugees, up from the 5.2 million who have already fled the war.

The UN refugee agency, which initially had forecast that up to four million people would flee the war in Ukraine, said it would need $1.85 billion to support the refugees hosted in neighbouring countries.

10:03AM

Ukrainian grains reach Romanian Black Sea port

Ukraine has sent around 80,000 tones of grains to the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta so far, with more expected to arrive, the port's manager said today.

Ukraine's sea ports have been blocked since the Russian invasion two months ago and the country, a major agricultural producer, has been forced to export by train via its western border or via its small Danube river ports into Romania.

European Union member Romania shares borders of the Black Sea - a major shipping artery for grain and oil - with Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine.

"There are around 80,000 tonnes of grains which have already arrived, they are stored in silos, a part of them were loaded on ship," Constanta Port manager Florin Goidea told Reuters.

"Another roughly 80,000 tonnes are approved and en route."

9:54AM

Moldova convenes security meeting after blasts in breakaway region

Moldovan President Maia Sandu is convening a meeting of the country's Supreme Security Council today over incidents that took place in the breakaway Transnistria region, the president's press office said in a statement.

"The Supreme Security Council will meet from 1pm at the Presidency. After the meeting, at 3pm, President Maia Sandu will hold a press briefing", the statement said.

Two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae that broadcast Russian radio from a village in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria today, local authorities said.

9:47AM

Ukraine can win war with Russia, says US defence secretary

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin kicked off defence talks with more than 40 countries today by expressing confidence that Ukraine can prevail against Russia.

"Your resistance has brought inspiration to the free world," Mr Austin said, as he denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "indefensible."

"Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here."

9:42AM

Russia and Belarus to hold joint air force drills

Russia and Belarus will hold joint drills of their air forces and air defence forces in Belarus, Minsk's defence ministry said in a statement today.

The drills will take place from April 26 to 29, the ministry said.

9:29AM

World War Three now a 'real' danger,  Lavrov warns

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has warned there is a "real" danger of a third world war breaking out after a day of apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soilRoland Oliphant reports.

In an interview with Russian news agencies, he criticised Kyiv's approach to peace talks, adding: "Goodwill has its limits. But if it isn't reciprocal, that doesn't help the negotiation process."

Russia, Mr Lavrov said, was doing a lot to uphold the principle of striving to prevent nuclear war at all costs.

"This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable," he said.

"I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it."

Read the full story here.

9:12AM

Rocket strike on Zaporizhzhia kills at least one

At least one person was killed and another wounded in a rocket strike on a commercial premises in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, local authorities said.

The regional administration said two rockets hit the premises and a third rocket exploded before reaching its target.

9:04AM

Kremlin says it struck over 90 targets in Ukraine overnight, killing 500 soldiers

Russia struck over 90 military targets in Ukraine overnight, killing at least 500 Ukrainian soldiers and destroying dozens of armoured vehicles, artillery and other military equipment, the Russian defence ministry said.

Russia also said it struck two ammunition depots in Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv region

8:52AM

Explosions hit radio tower in Russia-backed Transnistria

The interior ministry of Transnistria, a separatist Russia-backed territory in ex-Soviet Moldova, said that two explosions targeted a radio centre near the border with Ukraine.

"Early on April 26, two explosions were heard in the village of Mayak in Grigoriopolsky district," the interior ministry of the breakaway republic said in a statement.

It said the blasts at 6:40am and 7:05am local time targeted the "Mayak" radio centre, about 30 miles from the regional capital, Tiraspol.

The ministry said two "powerful" antennae that were re-broadcasting Russian radio were out of order, and shared images of them lying on the ground.

8:39AM

'Every chance' Ukraine will see off invasion, says UK armed forces minister

Armed forces minister James Heappey has said there is "every chance" that Ukraine will see off the Russian invasion, arguing that Moscow's victory in the east of Ukraine is not inevitable.

He told Sky News: "We'll see a conflict between two forces that are much more evenly balanced, where the Ukrainians have the advantage of defensive positions that have been dug in and prepared over the last eight years and that's going to make it an extraordinarily difficult nut for the Russians to crack.

"And with all the support that the Ukrainians are getting from around the world, there's every chance the Ukrainians can see them off."

8:23AM

Germany to authorise tank deliveries to Ukraine, reports suggest

Germany will authorise the deliveries of tanks to Ukraine, reports have suggested, in what would be a clear switch in Berlin's cautious policy on military backing for Kyiv.

The confirmation is due to announced at an international meeting of defence ministers at the US airbase in Ramstein later today, a government source told AFP.

8:21AM

UK armed forces minister backs Ukraine carrying out strikes in Russia

British armed forces minister James Heappey has backed Ukrainian troops carrying out strikes in Russia.

He told Times Radio: "Of course we do. The fact is that Ukraine was a sovereign country that was living peacefully within its owner borders and then another country decided to violate those borders and bring 130,000 troops across into their country.

"That started a war between Ukraine and Russia, and in war Ukraine needs to strike into its opponents depth to attack its logistics lines, its fuel supplies, its ammunition depots, and that's part of it."

He added that it is "completely legitimate for Ukraine to be targeting in Russia's depth in order to disrupt the logistics that if they weren't disrupted would directly contribute to death and carnage on Ukrainian soil".

He said it is "not necessarily a problem" if British-donated weapons are used to hit sites on Russian soil after accepting that weapons now being supplied by allies to Ukraine have the range to be used over borders.

"There are lots of countries around the world that operate kit that they have imported from other countries, when those bits of kit are used we tend not to blame (the country) that manufactured it, you blame the country that fired it."

8:14AM

Inna, 53, cries inside her destroyed house in Ozera, Kyiv

8:03AM

EU aims to end use of Russian oil and gas by 2027, official suggests

The European Union aims to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas by two-thirds by the end of the year and to zero by the end of 2027, EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has said.

Mr Gentiloni also said the EU would cut its growth estimates for 2022 from a previous target of 4 per cent, with the EU set to release its Spring Forecast on May 16.

However, he said it was too early to say if the slowdown will lead to a stagnation, citing "some positive factors inherited from the second part of 2021" such as a significantly low unemployment level and a very high grade of savings buildup.

"The risk of stagnation will also depend very much on the duration of the war," he added in an interview with Il Messaggero.

7:55AM

UK minister says no imminent threat of escalation in Ukraine conflict

British armed forces minister James Heappey said he did not think there was an imminent threat of escalation in the war in Ukraine, dismissing comments by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as bravado.

Earlier Lavrov told the world not to underestimate the considerable risks of nuclear conflict, and said Nato's supply of weapons to Ukraine "in essence" meant that the Western alliance was engaged in a proxy war with Russia.

"Lavrov's trademark over the course of 15 years or so that he has been the Russian foreign secretary has been that sort of bravado. I don't think that right now there is an imminent threat of escalation," Mr Heappey told the BBC.

"What the West is doing to support its allies in Ukraine is very well calibrated ... Everything we do is calibrated to avoid direct confrontation with Russia."

7:43AM

UK armed forces minister: Donor community, not Nato, is supplying arms to Ukraine

The wider international community, not Nato, is providing military support to Ukraine, British armed forces minister James Heappey said today after Russia's foreign minister said the Western alliance was engaged in a proxy war with Russia.

"The donor community is not Nato," Heappey told Sky News when asked about Sergei Lavrov's comments.

"The donor effort is something that has been brought together by countries that are yes, many of them are from Nato, but others are from beyond ... it is not Nato that is doing the military aid."

7:39AM

Germany to supply Gepard anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine

Germany will pledge to supply Gepard anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung has reported.

The paper said German defence minister Christine Lambrecht was set to offer the weapons at today's meeting with allies at the United States' Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

7:13AM

MoD: Russian forces likely attempting to encircle Ukrainian positions in the east

6:24AM

Russians can play the Proms – if they oppose the invasion

The BBC is to allow Russian musicians to appear at the Proms, provided they have publicly or privately voiced opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, Anita Singh writes.

Organisers said they had rejected the idea of a Wimbledon-style ban on Russians, but stressed that there was “no place” for supporters of Vladimir Putin.

Instead, the event will nail its colours to the mast by hosting the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra. The Ukrainian government is granting a special exemption for males of fighting age to travel to London for the performance.

In recent years, the Last Night of the Proms has become a political battleground, with anti-Brexit campaigners handing out EU flags to wave alongside Union flags.

4:58AM

Ukrainian rape victim ordered to help troops hunt for women

Anna, a Ukrainian woman, was raped by a 19-year-old Russian soldier in her village near Borodyanka, north of Kyiv, Danielle Sheridan reports from Kyiv.

She told The Telegraph she was marched around her village by the soldiers helping them find other women, while any men who protested were killed.

Ukraine is forming specialist rape investigation teams in occupied areas.

Read more: ‘You’ll help us find others’: Ukrainian rape victim ordered to help Russian troops hunt for women

3:25AM

Russian journalist plot is 'propaganda'

A raid on an alleged Western plot to kill a pro-Putin journalist in Russia appeared to have been exposed as mere propaganda on Monday night after a video on state TV showed a clumsy attempt to frame the alleged attackers, Nataliya Vasilyeva writes.

Vladimir Putin announced that an FSB operation had thwarted a plan by neo-Nazis backed by the West to kill one of Russia’s most notorious pro-Kremlin TV hosts because the West “faced an information fiasco in Russia”.

The FSB promptly released footage, broadcast on state TV, purporting to show the operation to arrest six Russian members of a fascist group who had been recruited by Ukraine’s intelligence agency to kill Vladimir Solovyov as well as other TV personalities.

Read more: Russia’s claim it foiled a Western plot to kill pro-Putin journalist ‘exposed as propaganda’

Placeholder image for youtube video: 1qLHGmtMt70
Placeholder image for youtube video: 1qLHGmtMt70

2:23AM

Risk of World War Three, says Kremlin

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has warned there is a "real" danger of a third world war breaking out after a day of apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil.

In an interview with Russian news agencies, he criticised Kyiv's approach to peace talks, adding: "Goodwill has its limits. But if it isn't reciprocal, that doesn't help the negotiation process."

His comments came after a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a government building in a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova sparked fears of Russia’s war spreading further into Europe.

The mysterious attack came on the day two fires raged at fuel facilities in the south-western city of Bryansk, in an apparent Ukrainian missile strike inside Russia.

Placeholder image for youtube video: Ur9VcaSD3zg
Placeholder image for youtube video: Ur9VcaSD3zg

2:22AM

Today's top stories

  • Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has warned there is a "real" danger of a third world war breaking out after a day of apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil

  • A rocket-propelled grenade attack on a government building in a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova sparked fears of Russia’s war spreading further into Europe

  • On Monday two fires raged at fuel facilities in the south-western city of Bryansk, in an apparent Ukrainian missile strike inside Russia

  • A raid on an alleged Western plot to kill a pro-Putin journalist in Russia appeared to have been exposed as mere propaganda on Monday night after a video on state TV showed a clumsy attempt to frame the alleged attackers

  • Many of the civilians who died in Bucha as Russia advanced on Kyiv were killed by metal darts, according to forensic doctors, in what was likely a war crime

  • Some 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in the two months since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, the Defence Secretary said on Monday