Ukrainian troops on exercise in the east of the country in 2021 (Reuters)
UPDATE 1827 GMT:
Polish ministers have confirmed that Russia has cut gas supplies (see 1643 GMT).
Accusing Gazprom of a breach of contract, the ministers say Poland has sufficient stocks of gas.
PGNiG, Poland’s largest gas supplier, is filing a breach of contract lawsuit.
UPDATE 1739 GMT:
Meeting UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Vladimir Putin has lied, “There are no military operations in Mariupol.”
Putin said the situation in Mariupol, bombarded and besieged by Russian forces for two months, is “complicated” and “tragic”.
The Russian leader also lied that 100,000 trapped civilians can leave the port city, insisting that more than 100,000 who got out are “free to go anywhere: “Some people want to go to Russia, some to Ukraine.”
Putin continued the lying as he covered up mass killing of hundreds of civilians in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, by Russian troops in March:
Russia was faced with provocation in Bucha, something the Russian side had nothing to do with.
Russian forces had no connections to Bucha. We know who did it. We know who prepared this provocation, the means they used. We know who they are.
UPDATE 1734 GMT:
Switzerland has again barred the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition in any German armored vehicles sent to Ukraine.
The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs confirmed that it has blocked the munitions for 50 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, hours after German Defense Minister Christine Liebknecht confirmed the delivery (see 1135 GMT).
The Swiss had already barred re-export of ammunition in Marder infantry fighting vehicles which Germany might send to Kyiv.
It is unclear what ammunition Germany is now delivering with the Gepards.
UPDATE 1730 GMT:
Satellite imagery has confirmed a third mass grave near besieged Mariupol in southern Ukraine, says the mayor of the port city.
Vadym Boychenko said the latest burial site is in the village of Staryi Krym, following those in Mangush and Vynohradne.
Boychenko has said that about 21,000 people have died in Mariupol during the Russian invasion.
UPDATE 1651 GMT:
Russia missile attacks in eastern Ukraine have damaged a hospital, a school, and high-rise buildings in Avdiivka in the Donetsk region.
Donestsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said a Russian ground assault on the nearby town of Mariinka was repelled, but the Russians cut electricity to the town of Krasnohorivka after damaging a transformer.
Kyrylenko said at least two civilians were killed.
In the Luhansk region, three civilians died in the town of Popasne when a building collapsed amid heavy Russian shelling.
UPDATE 1643 GMT:
Russia has cut gas supplies to Poland, according to Polish Government sources and Poland’s state gas company PGNiG.
Moscow acted after Poland announced that it is imposing sanctions on 50 entities and individuals, including Russia’s biggest gas company.
Without confirming the report, Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said the country has sufficent stores of gas.
European gas prices rose up to 17% in response to the news.
UPDATE 1506 GMT:
A Russian missile has damaged a strategic bridge linking the Odesa region in southern Ukraine with Romania.
There were no casualties, but the strike cut off connections to the west of Dniester estuary and to Romania.
From Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Ministry:
Due to a rocket strike in #Odesa region the bridge over Dniester Estuary is damaged.
Further information and data on wounded is being confirmed. Bridge is closed now. If it remains closed, access to part of Odesa region will only be possible along #Moldova border – see map pic.twitter.com/w9wfmrLNsM
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) April 26, 2022
UPDATE 1342 GMT:
Amid a possible Russian provocation to justify expansion of its offensive across southern Ukraine and into Russia-occupied Transnistria in Moldova, Moldavan President Maia Sandu has held a press briefing after a meeting of the National Security Council.
Sandu condemned any attempts to ruin peace and said Moldova will take all measures to prevent escalation. She said incidents such as explosions downing two TV antenna were an attempt to escalate tensions, with assessments pointing to “pro-war factions within the Transnistria region”.
The President said she does not plan to speak to the Kremlin.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry condemned explosions which “coincided with the statements of the Russian military command about their plans to occupy the entire south of Ukraine and establish a land corridor to the Transdniestrian region of Moldova”.
Ukraine strongly supports the territorial integrity of Moldova in its internationally recognised borders, condemns attempts to involve the Transdniestrian region of Moldova in Russia’s…full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and calls for a de-escalation of the situation.
Ukraine Presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak added on Twitter:
Russia wants to destabilize the Transnistrian region & hints Moldova should wait for “guests”. Bad news: if Ukraine falls tomorrow Russian troops will be at Chișinău’s gates. Good news: Ukraine will definitely ensure strategic security of the region. But we need to work as a team
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 26, 2022
Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said Moscow “would like to avoid a scenario” in which Transnistria would be pulled into Russia’s war on Ukraine. He said the “situation with the explosions” indicated that “certain forces” were interested in creating “another hotbed of tension in Europe”.
Rudenko added, “An investigation will be carried out accordingly, and we hope that the reasons will be established and those responsible will be punished.”
UPDATE 1330 GMT:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov immediately knocked back the appeal of UN Secretary General António Guterres for ceasefires and negotiations, specifically over the besieged city of Mariupol and generally with Ukraine.
Lavrov said it is too early to talk about mediation to resolve the conflict.
Guterres responded to Lavrov’s attempt to blame Kyiv for “blatant sabotage of the Minsk agreements” and the complaint that “the UN did not intervene”:
Responding to the Russian Foreign Minister, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says: 'There is one thing that is true and obvious. We don't have Ukrainian troops in Russia, but have Russian troops in Ukraine.'
Latest on Ukraine: https://t.co/Kerc77lRC1
📺 Sky 501 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/Dre5Gu6gEQ
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 26, 2022
Earlier today, Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk, said that if a “real humanitarian corridor” cannot be confirmed during Guterres’s trip, “then there’s no point to the UN”.
UPDATE 1155 GMT:
UN Secretary General António Guterres is in Moscow for discussions.
Guterres has already met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and is scheduled to see Vladimir Putin.
Alongside Lavrov at a news conference, Guterres said about a “very frank discussion”:
According to the Russian Federation, what is taking place is a special military operation with the objectives that were announced.
According to the UN, in line with resolutions passed by the General Assembly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of its territorial integrity and against the charter of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General said, “The United Nations is ready to fully mobilise its human and logistical resources to help save lives in Mariupol,” with “the safe evacuation of the civilians who want to leave” the Azovstal steel plant and the port city “in any direction they choose”.
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. | More: https://t.co/U6KzHka0wh pic.twitter.com/Fco0arNkJH
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 26, 2022
UPDATE 1135 GMT:
Germany will soon approve delivery of Gepard anti-aircraft tank systems to Ukraine, according to a senior legislator from the ruling coalition’s Free Democrats.
Johannes Vogel confirmed a report in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht will announce the delivery at Tuesday’s meeting of more than 40 allied and partner countries at the US airbase in Ramstein.
AFP has seen a draft of Liebknecht’s statement to her compatriots about the German assistance.
Berlin is also poised to supply heavy armored vehicles for the first time to Kyiv, with Rhinesmetall applying for an export license for 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicles.
UPDATE 1115 GMT:
Signs are gathering of a possible Russian provocation to justify an expansion of its attacks across southern Ukraine and into Russian-occupied Transnistria in neighboring Moldova.
The Russia-backed administration in Transnistria has raised its “terrorist threat level” to red, with checkpoints at the entrances to cities in the area.
The administration claimed a “terrorist attack” on a military unit near the city of Tiraspol, following the destruction of two radio antenna (see 0755 GMT).
Last week the commander of Russia’s Central Military District called for an offensive to take control of all of southern Ukraine, establishing land bridges to Transnistria as well as the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea.
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 0925 GMT:
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General is preparing war crimes cases against at least seven Russian military personnel.
The accused are three Russian pilots who allegedly bombed civilian buildings in the Kharkiv and Sumy regions in northern Ukraine; two operators of a rocket launcher shelling settlements in the Kharkiv region; and two army servicemen facing charges of murdering a Kyiv-area resident and raping his wife.
The Prosecutor General’s office said some of the suspects are prisoners of war, while others will be charged in absentia.
The prosecutors gave no names. However, on Monday, they said Su-34 pilot Alexander Krasnoyartsev faces life in prison “bombing the territory of Ukraine, including civilian objects, with air bombs”.
Krasnoyartsev was detained on March 5 in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine after allegedly bombing the area, and shooting and killed a civilian as the pilot tried to evade capture after the shootdown of his fighter-bomber.
Ukraine says it is investigating about 7,600 potential war crimes and at least 500 suspects in the Russian invasion.
UPDATE 0755 GMT:
Officials in Russia-occupied Transnistria, which is part of Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, says two radio antenna that relayed Russian radio were destroyed on Monday.
The Transnistria Internal Affairs Ministry said there were two explosions, 25 minutes apart, on Monday morning. It said there were no casualties.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) April 26, 2022
On Monday, Russian State outlets said a series of explosions were heard near the State Security building in Transnistria’s capital Tiraspol.
Ukrainian officials said the blasts were a planned provocation by Russian security services.
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu has convened an urgent National Security Council meeting this afternoon.
UPDATE 0625 GMT:
The Ukrainian military says that it repelled six Russian attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine, and that it destroyed four tanks, five artillery systems, and other equipment.
Ukraine Railways head Oleksander Kamyshin said one railway worker was killed and four injured on Monday, as Russia launched missile strikes railway stations within an hour.
Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai again asked residents to leave the area, “I understand that it is difficult to evacuate those who have never been outside Luhansk region – but leave, in other regions of Ukraine there is life, life in safety.”
He said five locations – Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Rubizhne, Popasna, Gorskoye – will attempt evacuations on Tuesday, but added that Russian forces were blocking departures: “Yesterday the border guards did not wait for the bus – the transport was fired upon by the Russians. People wanted to escape, but the enemy thought otherwise.”
"They're shelling the shit out of us": Ukrainian paramedic as she hides under a stairwell on route to try to find a man injured in a prior strike — a 'double tap' attack targeting emergency responders again all too familiar from Syria. https://t.co/4FPkbvUdjh
— Naomi O'Leary (@NaomiOhReally) April 26, 2022
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Representatives of more than 40 countries will discuss an escalation of military aid to Ukraine, in a meeting at the US base in Ramstein, Germany on Tuesday.
International assistance has helped Kyiv defeat the initial phases of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, with Russian forces withdrawing from northern Ukraine. However, in an attempt to claim some victory, Moscow is now trying to seize territory near Russian-proxy areas in the east of the country, as well as to extend its coastal corridor in the south with the capitulation of besieged Mariupol.
On Sunday, after a meeting in Kyiv with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pledged $322m in foreign military financing for Ukraine and almost $400m for 14 other allied and partner countries, covering their supplies to Kyiv.
The US has now provided $3.7bn to Ukraine since the invasion. Last week President Joe Biden announced a $800m package includes howitzers, ammunition, and advanced drones.
On Monday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced another British package with “a small number” of Stormer missile launcher vehicles and 250 Starstreak anti-air missiles, in addition to 5,361 NLAW and 200 Javelin anti-tank weapons.
In addition, Challenger 2 tanks will be sent to Poland to “bridge the gap” between Warsaw’s donation of Soviet-era T-72s to Kyiv and the arrival of new US-made tanks.
Germany is on the verge of providing its first heavy armor to Ukraine, with Rheinmetall seeking Government approval to export 100 Marder infantry fighting vehicles.
Ukraine's Defense Minister says Ukraine is already starting to receive 155mm calibre artillery — the standard Nato size — from the US and from other partners, including France. He predicts that longer-range weaponry will ‘fundamentally’ change fight with Russia. – @FT
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) April 25, 2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov betrayed the Kremlin’s concern on Monday, declaring that there is a “real” danger of World War III because of the arms supplies to Ukraine. Vladimir Putin added, in an address to prosecutors, “We were shocked when high-ranking diplomats in Europe and the United States called on their Ukrainian followers to use all their abilities to win on the battlefield.”
Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded:
Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 25, 2022
In another sign of how Putin’s invasion has galvanized closer military relations in the international community, especially in Europe, Sweden and Finland have reportedly agreed to submit simultaneous membership applications to NATO as soon as mid-May.
The Finnish newspaper Iltalehti broke the story. Swedish officials appeared to confirm the news in comments to domestic media.