Five killed in Odesa including baby after Russian missile strike

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Children react as they take shelter, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in a bunker said by Ukraine's Azov Battalion to be in Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine  - AZOV BATTALION/REUTERS
Children react as they take shelter, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in a bunker said by Ukraine's Azov Battalion to be in Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine - AZOV BATTALION/REUTERS

A Russian strike killed at least five people, including a baby, and wounded 18 others in Ukraine's Black Sea city of Odessa on Saturday, Kyiv said, warning the toll would likely rise.

"Five Ukrainians killed and 18 wounded. And those are only the ones that we were able to find. It is likely that the death toll will be heavy," the head of Ukraine's presidential office Andriy Yermak said on Telegram.

"A three-month-old baby was among those killed."

Ukraine's southern air command had earlier said that two missiles struck a military facility and two residential buildings in Odesa.

This is the thought to be the second major attack on Ukraine's strategic Black Sea port since the start of the invasion.

03:03 PM

And that's all for today...

Here is a summary of today's news

  • A Russian strike in Odesa reportedly killed five people including a baby and wounded 18 others.

  • Russia 'resumed air strikes' against Ukrainian forces in Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks.

  • Two people were killed in Luhansk, with two others wounded, Governor Serhiy Haidai said in an online post.

  • Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, condemned Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" following the missile strikes in Odesa.

Follow our liveblog tomorrow for all the latest updates.

02:58 PM

Zelensky has spoken to Boris Johnson about military aid

The Ukrainian presidential office has said that Volodymr Zelensky and Boris Johnson have spoken about a "new phase" of military aid including heavy weapons.

02:20 PM

Ukraine accuses Russia of thwarting new evacuation push from Mariupol

A new attempt to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from war-torn Mariupol failed on Saturday, an aide to the city's mayor said on his Telegram channel, blaming Russian forces.

The official said 200 residents of Mariupol had gathered to be evacuated, but that the Russian military told them to disperse and warned of possible shelling.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for repeated failures to evacuate people from Mariupol.

02:08 PM

German government faces crisis as opposition to force vote on sending heavy weapons to Ukraine

A row over whether to send heavy weaponry to Ukraine threatens to throw Berlin into crisis after the opposition said it would force a parliamentary vote, with junior coalition partners expected to rebel against the government.

Friedrich Merz, the CDU leader, confirmed on Friday that he would ask the parliament to vote on a motion calling for "immediate" deliveries of heavy weapons, including battle tanks, to Ukraine. "If the government isn't going to deliver, then the Bundestag needs to deliver," he said.

Germany's ruling Social Democrats responded on Saturday by warning the opposition against "starting fights".

Read the full story from Jorg Luyken in Berlin here

01:59 PM

Journalist and residents take cover in Kharkiv

01:10 PM

Aim of Russian missile strikes on Odesa is 'terror', claims Kuleba

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, has condemned Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" following the missile strikes in Odesa.

12:55 PM

Two killed in Luhansk, says governor

An artillery strike on the front line town of Zolote in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region killed two civilians on Saturday and wounded two others, Governor Serhiy Haidai said in an online post.

12:40 PM

Missile strikes infrastructure of Ukraine's Odesa, city council says

A missile has struck infrastructure in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa on Saturday, the local authorities said in an online statement without giving further details.

"Odesa was hit by a missile strike. Infrastructure has been hit," the statement said.

12:28 PM

Marine Le Pen's party paying £10m to Russian military contractor under US sanctions

Marine Le Pen’s party is paying more than £10m to a Russian military contractor under US sanctions, as part of a debt restructuring agreement linked to a loan paid to the National Rally by a Moscow bank.

Voters head to the polls on Sunday to decide whether Ms Le Pen, who has a long track record of admiration for Vladimir Putin, or Emmanuel Macron will be the next president of France.

The revelation will trigger fresh questions over whether Ms Le Pen is too close to Moscow. Mr Macron has called the Russian president Ms Le Pen’s “banker”. The incumbent was leading his rival by 56.5 per cent to 43.5 per cent, polls said on Friday.

Read the full story from James Crisp and James Kilner here

12:19 PM

Leader of Russian Orthodox Church prays for quick end to Ukraine conflict

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose backing for Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine has dismayed many fellow Christians, said on Saturday he hoped it would end quickly but again did not condemn it.

At an outdoor service at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on the eve of Orthodox Easter, Patriarch Kirill splashed holy water onto loaves of colourfully decorated Easter bread known as kulichi and said many of them would be sent to the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

"God grant that this Easter gift helps those who are involved in this difficult conflict to calm their hearts, minds, souls, so that internecine strife ends as soon as possible and the long-awaited peace reigns, and with it the piety of people and faith may be strengthened," he said.

Patriarch Kirill, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has previously made statements backing Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine, a position that has splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church.

While speaking on Saturday of the need for reconciliation, he did not question or criticise the military campaign.

11:55 AM

Germany 'must support Ukraine', says German minister

Germany must do everything in its power to help Ukraine win the war against Russia but without endangering its own security and NATO's defence capability, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Saturday.

"We must do everything in our power to help Ukraine win, but the limit of the ethical responsibility is endangering our own security and endangering the defence capability of NATO territory," Lindner said in a party conference speech in Berlin.

"But what is possible ... must be undertaken pragmatically and quickly, together with our European partners," he said.

Lindner said he was in favour of supporting Ukraine with heavy weapons, but that Germany must not become a party to the war.

"Ukraine needs military support, and in order to be victorious, it also needs heavy weapons," Lindner added.

11:43 AM

Pictured: A woman reacts to a nearby house being destroyed by a missile

Valentyna reacts in front of a destroyed house amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lyman -  JORGE SILVA/REUTERS
Valentyna reacts in front of a destroyed house amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Lyman - JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

11:11 AM

'Fierce' battles in eastern Ukraine, say governors

Authorities in two eastern Ukrainian regions said that fighting with Russian forces was "fierce", as hope fades for a truce over Orthodox Easter weekend.

The governor of the eastern Kharkiv region, Oleg Sinegubov, said on Telegram that Kyiv retook three villages near the Russian border after "fierce battles".

"Our units kicked Russian troops out of the settlements of Bezruki, Slatine, Prudyanka," he said, adding that the Ukrainian forced "secured their positions".

He said the battles took place on Friday morning.

Sinegubov claimed Russian forces had also attacked residential infrastructure, killing two people.

10:48 AM

'Latvian blend': How Russia bends the rules to keep its oil flowing

Shell provoked upset less than two weeks into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as it snapped up a cargo of steeply discounted Russian oil, putting it on course for hefty profits in markets roiled by the disruption.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, criticised the company on Twitter, demanding that multinational companies “cut all business ties with Russia.”

The FTSE 100 oil and gas giant was quick to apologise, saying the “difficult decision” was necessary to avoid supply disruptions, and promising to put any profits from trading Russian oil into a fund to help Ukraine.

It also pledged to stop buying Russian crude oil on the spot market and start withdrawing from its petroleum products as part of its wider pullback from the country, stressing this would be a “complex challenge”.

Read the full piece from Rachel Millard here

10:38 AM

Russia says it will deploy Sarmat missiles by autumn in 'historic' nuclear upgrade

Russia has claimed it plans to deploy its newly tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of mounting nuclear strikes against the United States, by autumn.

The target stated by Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos space agency, is an ambitious one as Russia reported its first test-launch only on Wednesday and Western military experts say more will be needed before the missile can be deployed.

The Sarmat is capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys, and of striking targets thousands of miles away in the United States or Europe.

Rogozin said in an interview with Russian state TV that the missiles would be deployed with a unit in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, about 3,000 km (1,860 miles) east of Moscow.

10:22 AM

Zelensky thanks UK for reopening of embassy

10:10 AM

Russia 'resumed air strikes' against Ukrainian forces in Mariupol's Azovstal

Russian forces have resumed air strikes on and are trying to storm the Azovstal steel works where Ukraine's remaining forces in Mariupol are holding out, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Saturday.

"The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal area," Arestovych said on national television.

09:19 AM

Ukrainian counterattacks 'slowing' Russian offensive in East

Russian troops are pressing their offensive in the eastern Donbas region in an attempt to fully seize Ukraine's industrial heartland but have made little headway as fierce Ukrainian counterattacks have slowed their efforts, Ukrainian and British officials said Saturday.

Russia continues to fight for full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk areas that make up the Donbas and seeks to secure "a land route between these territories and the occupied Crimea," including by wiping out the last pocket of resistance in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukraine's General Staff said.

Ukrainian forces over the past 24 hours repelled eight Russian attacks in the two regions, destroying nine tanks, 18 armored units and 13 vehicles, a tanker and three artillery systems, the General Staff said.

"Units of Russian occupiers are regrouping. Russian enemy continues to launch missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure," the General Staff said on its Facebook page.

09:06 AM

As Fortress Russia crumbles, the global economy faces a new world order

As Russia’s economy teeters on the brink of collapse, its fallout could prove even more consequential than perhaps initially thought.

The freezing of the Russian Central Bank’s assets and the weaponisation of the US dollar has not only caused Vladimir Putin’s “Fortress Russia” plan to crumble, but also stoked worries that the world economy has crossed the Rubicon.

Some in global finance, including the International Monetary Fund, fear the onslaught of Western sanctions means the global economy is splitting into camps in the wake of Russia’s invasion, one led by the US and the other by China, with disastrous consequences.

Read the full story here

08:48 AM

Supermarkets rationing sunflower oil sales due to supply-chain issues

Supermarkets across the UK have placed limits on how much cooking oil customers can buy due to supply-chain problems caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Tesco is allowed three items per customer while Waitrose and Morrisons have placed limits of just two items each, according to the BBC.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland supermarkets, said his shops were having to ration sunflower oil sales to one bottle per customer.

"It is not as frenzied as the toilet roll panic buying from a couple of years ago, and we are managing to maintain an offer," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"But yes, we are limiting purchases and we've moved into smaller packs to allow existing stocks in the market to service more customers."

08:40 AM

Ukraine 'absolutely sure' it will win war against Russia, its PM says

08:34 AM

Five things you may have missed

Here are some key developments from this afternoon

  1. Russia reports serviceman killed after attack on warship Moskva:Russia reported on Friday that one serviceman was killed and 27 others were left missing after the fire on board the warship Moskva, which sank a week ago following what the Ukrainians boasted was a missile attack.

  2. Russia's 'new methods of warfare' reflect faltering operation, says MoD: The UK Ministry of Defence says the stated intent by Russia's Defence Secretary Sergei Shoygu to introduce “new methods of warfare” is a tacit admission that Russian progress is not going as intended.

  3. US will 'absolutely' re-open embassy in Ukraine, says PM: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Friday that he "absolutely" expected the United States would eventually re-open its embassy in Ukraine, but stopped short of predicting when that would happen.

  4. Russia shifts crack military units east, say Ukrainian authorities: Russia shifted a dozen crack military units from the shattered port of Mariupol to eastern Ukraine and pounded away at cities across the region, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday, as the two sides hurtled toward what could be an epic battle for control of the country's industrial heartland.

  5. UN chief to meet Putin and Zelensky next week: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow next week to meet Russia's President Vladimir Putin and then head to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Read more on each of these here

08:14 AM

Putin's 'nuclear blackmail' likely to increase demand for arms, says former White House adviser

Fiona Hill, the former White House intelligence adviser, said Vladimir Putin's "nuclear blackmail" during the conflict in Ukraine was likely to increase the international demand for nuclear arms.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the former deputy assistant to the president when Donald Trump was in office said: "The nuclear issue is something that everybody should be concerned about on a global basis because he [Mr Putin] is basically telling every country: You need a nuclear weapon.

"So the whole idea of non-proliferation is basically out the window because it is basically very clear that the reason we are not going after Russia with everything that we've got is because they've got a nuclear weapon and he is saying he's prepared to use one".

The British-born Russia expert added: "We are in a whole new territory that we haven't even been in during the Cold War, and so this requires really robust diplomacy."

08:03 AM

Shell accused of using 'accounting trick' to keep buying Russian oil

The Ukrainian government has criticised Shell over a “trick” that allows it to continue buying Russian oil even after the business promised to cut ties with the Kremlin.

A letter sent by Kyiv to the oil giant’s boss Ben van Beurden said it was “deplorable” that companies are continuing to “bankroll Putin’s war machine” amid concerns Russian oil is still being bought through backdoor routes.

It comes amid concerns that businesses which have vowed to ditch Russian fossil fuels are still trading in it covertly, by blending the Kremlin's oil with crude from other sources.

Read the full story from Tom Rees and Rachel Millard here

07:50 AM

Ukraine-Russia conflict in pictures:

Injured soldier smokes a cigarette outside the hospital in Kramatorsk - JORGE SILVA/REUTERS
Injured soldier smokes a cigarette outside the hospital in Kramatorsk - JORGE SILVA/REUTERS
A metal cross that used to be on the top of the dome stands outside of the damaged church in Lukashivka, in northern Ukraine - Petros Giannakouris/AP
A metal cross that used to be on the top of the dome stands outside of the damaged church in Lukashivka, in northern Ukraine - Petros Giannakouris/AP
Yehor, 7, stands holding a wooden toy rifle next to destroyed Russian military vehicles near Chernihiv, Ukraine -  Evgeniy Maloletka/AP
Yehor, 7, stands holding a wooden toy rifle next to destroyed Russian military vehicles near Chernihiv, Ukraine - Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

07:48 AM

Russia claims it shot down Ukrainian fighter jet in Kharkiv

Russia's defence ministry has claimed that its forces have shot down a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet and destroyed three MI-8 helicopters at an airfield in Ukraine's Kharkiv region.

There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine regarding the Russian claims.

07:43 AM

Shelling of eastern Luhansk's cities intensifying, says region's governor

All the Ukrainian-controlled cities in the eastern region of Luhansk were constantly being shelled by Russian forces, and the barrage was intensifying, the region's governor Serhiy Haidai said today.

He said Ukrainian forces were leaving some settlements there in order to regroup, but that the move did not amount to a critical setback.

Russia denies targeting civilian areas.

07:39 AM

With exhausted troops and low morale, Vladimir Putin’s gamble in the Donbas could backfire

For Russia to gain “full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine” as the latest shift in Moscow’s war aims seem to suggest, Vladimir Putin will need to refresh and reorganise his forces, fast.

It is a bold ambition. But where will the troops come from?

Russian forces were defeated in the north of the country, along with Voznesensk and Mykolaiv in the south.

The mayor of Mykolaiv said this week his city was “over motivated” to repel the invaders, in contrast to the low morale of Moscow’s troops.

“Go home and live,” he told Russian soldiers trying to get his city to surrender, “or come here and die. Welcome to hell, motherf------!”

Read the full report from Dom Nicholls and Nataliya Vasilyeva here

07:30 AM

Mariupol evacuation to start at midday, says Ukraine's Deputy PM

Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, said that if all went as planned, evacuations from the besieged city of Mariupol would start at noon (0900 GMT).

"Today, we again will be trying to evacuate women, children and the elderly," Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram.

"If everything happens as planned, we will start the evacuation around noon."

07:28 AM

UK making visa scheme 'as difficult as possible', says Britons

A British host offering his home to a family of five Ukrainians has accused the Government of making its visa scheme "as difficult as possible" for those who are "desperate to help".

Neil Adams, 54, has offered his house in Wigan, Manchester, to a husband, wife and their children after they were forced to flee their home in Berdychiv, in the Zhytomyrska region of northern Ukraine.

He applied for their visas through the Homes for Ukraine scheme on March 20 but has been waiting over a month for them to be approved.

"I got in touch with the family via Facebook and we submitted all the paperwork ... but the process has just been so painfully slow," Mr Adams told the PA news agency.

He added: "It makes me feel ashamed, at least of our government".

07:26 AM

How Putin’s war ignited a new nuclear arms race

Not content with waging war on his Ukrainian neighbours, Vladimir Putin gave the world a dress rehearsal of his updated plans for nuclear Armageddon last week.

On Wednesday, as Russian forces continued to flatten the city of Mariupol, the Kremlin leader decided it would be a good time to test fire his latest intercontinental nuclear missile.

We may look back on it as the first salvo in a new global nuclear arms race.

Read the full story from Colin Freeman here

07:24 AM

Russian forces 'have made no major gains' in last 24 hours, says MoD

Russian forces have made no major gains in the last 24 hours despite increased activity, as Ukrainian counterattacks continue to hinder their efforts, British military intelligence said on Saturday.

Despite Russia's claimed conquest of the port city of Mariupol, heavy fighting continues to frustrate Moscow's attempts to capture the city, impeding their progress in the Donbas region, the Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

Russia's air and maritime forces have not established control in either domain owing to the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air and sea defences, it said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

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