Ukraine morning briefing: Five developments as Vladimir Putin's army chiefs seek 'payback'

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A view shows residential buildings destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the town of Irpin, outside Kyiv, Ukraine April 29, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
A view shows residential buildings destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the town of Irpin, outside Kyiv, Ukraine April 29, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Good morning. Vladimir Putin is set to declare all-out war on Ukraine as his military chiefs seek "payback" for their invasion failures, according to Russian sources and Western officials.

Frustrated army chiefs are urging the Russian president to drop the term "special operation" used for the invasion and instead declare war, which would enable mass mobilisation of Russians.

When Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine at the end of February, Putin dubbed it a "special operation" and even barred Russian media from using the word "war", thinking it would all be over in a few weeks. But more than two months later, the offensive has stalled.

Here's what happened overnight – and you can follow the latest updates in our live blog.

1. Ukraine warns talks with Russia may collapse

Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over shaky talks to end the war, as Russia pounded areas in the east of the country and US politicians vowed a massive new weapons package for Kyiv.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said lifting Western sanctions on Russia was part of the peace negotiations, which he said were "difficult" but continue daily by video link.

Handout photo dated 28/4/22 issued by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (second right) meeting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his visit to Ukraine. Mr Guterres, toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned the attacks on civilians. Issue date: Friday April 29, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. - PA
Handout photo dated 28/4/22 issued by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (second right) meeting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his visit to Ukraine. Mr Guterres, toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned the attacks on civilians. Issue date: Friday April 29, 2022. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. - PA

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky told Polish journalists that chances were "high" that the talks, which have not been held in person for a month, would end because of Russia's "playbook on murdering people", the Interfax news agency said.

2. Russia announces use of submarines for the first time

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

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

People look at the crater made by a Kalibr missile, amid Russia's invasion, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, April 18, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica - REUTERS/Marko Djurica
People look at the crater made by a Kalibr missile, amid Russia's invasion, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, April 18, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica - REUTERS/Marko Djurica

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

3. Over one million people evacuated from Ukraine to Russia

Some 1.02 million people have been evacuated from Ukraine into Russia since Feb 24, Mr Lavrov said in remarks published early on Saturday.

That number includes 120,000 foreigners and people evacuated from Russian-backed breakaway regions of Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics.

Serviceman of Donetsk People's Republic militia guard an area as local civilians walk to get humanitarian aid, bread and pure water distributed by Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Friday, April 29, 2022. This photo was taken during a trip organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense. (AP Photo) - AP
Serviceman of Donetsk People's Republic militia guard an area as local civilians walk to get humanitarian aid, bread and pure water distributed by Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Friday, April 29, 2022. This photo was taken during a trip organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense. (AP Photo) - AP

Mr Lavrov also reiterated that Nato's vocal support of Ukraine stands in the way of reaching a political deal to end the conflict.

He urged the US and Nato to stop supplying Kyiv with arms if they are "really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis", Chinese state media reported Saturday.

4. Russia looks to fix problems that have hampered invasion so far, says MoD

Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from failed advances in Ukraine’s north-east, the Ministry of Defence said.

"Russia hopes to rectify issues that have previously constrained its invasion by geographically concentrating combat power, shortening supply lines and simplifying command and control," the MoD said.

A destroyed Russian tank - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A destroyed Russian tank - OLEG PETRASYUK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

"Russia still faces considerable challenges. It has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advances in north-east Ukraine. Many of these units are likely suffering from weakened morale.

"Shortcomings in Russian tactical co-ordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements."

5. Strikes on Kyiv 'a deliberate and brutal humiliation' of the UN, says Zelensky

President Zelensky called for a stronger global response to Thursday's strikes on Kyiv, calling them "a deliberate and brutal humiliation" of the UN, whose secretary-general he met with earlier that day.

"It is unfortunate, but such a deliberate and brutal humiliation of the United Nations by Russia has gone unanswered," he said, following talks with Antonio Guterres.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER/AFP via Getty Images - UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER/AFP via Getty Images
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER/AFP via Getty Images - UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER/AFP via Getty Images

Mr Guterres had also toured Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs where Moscow is alleged to have committed war crimes. Russia denies killing civilians.

"I was moved by the resilience and bravery of the people of Ukraine. My message to them is simple: We will not give up," Mr Guterres tweeted on Friday.

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