Ukraine latest: EU Council chief condemns Russian nuclear threat in Hiroshima
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is in its third month, with casualties mounting on both sides.
Ukraine’s forces continue to resist, while its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.
Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.
For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
Read our in-depth coverage:
Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.
Here are the latest developments:
Friday, May 13 (Tokyo time)
3:11 p.m. European Council President Charles Michel condemns Russia during his visit to Hiroshima for threating to use nuclear weapons following its invasion of Ukraine, saying it is a “shameful and unacceptable” threat to global security. In one of the two Japanese cities devastated by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings at the end of World War II, Michel said he feels “seized by an intense determination” to eliminate nuclear weapons after visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Michel made his trip to highlight EU opposition to the use of nuclear arms amid tensions heightened by threats including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korean ballistic missile tests.
11:30 a.m. Ukraine says it has damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea. Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine’s north and east. “Thanks to the actions of our naval seamen, the support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire — it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet,” said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration.
7:27 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden has kicked off the first-ever Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit to be held in Washington as his administration makes an extended effort to demonstrate that the U.S. has not lost focus on the Pacific even while dealing with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As Biden welcomed leaders from eight ASEAN nations for a dinner to start the two-day “special summit,” the White House announced the U.S. would commit to more than $150 million in new projects to bolster Southeast Asia’s climate, maritime and public health infrastructure.
5:59 a.m. Moscow warns Finland of consequences as it seeks to apply for NATO membership “without delay.” Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership and the expectation that Sweden will follow would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent. “Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.
Thursday, May 12
9:59 p.m. Key Finnish politicians have been warned that Russia might halt gas supplies to neighboring Finland on Friday, local newspaper Iltalehti reports, citing unnamed sources.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday said Finland would apply to join NATO “without delay.” On May 5, Finland said it was prepared for the possibility of Moscow cutting off gas delivery in response to Helsinki’s refusal to abide by Russian demands for gas payments to be made in rubles.
5:00 p.m. Finland’s president and prime minister say they are in favor of applying for NATO membership, paving the way for the alliance to expand amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. The dramatic move by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement. It means that Finland is virtually certain to seek NATO membership, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in the coming days.
3:10 p.m. Ukrainian forces are keeping up a counterattack to the north of the nation’s second-largest city Kharkiv and recapturing several towns and villages toward the Russian border, Britain says. Russia has reportedly withdrawn units from the area and the forces are likely to redeploy after replenishing the losses to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, the British defense ministry said. On Wednesday, Ukraine said it had pushed back Russian forces in the east to recapture Pytomnyk, a village on the main highway north of Kharkiv, about halfway to the Russian border.
3:00 p.m. Siemens says it will quit the Russian market due to the war in Ukraine, taking a 600 million euros ($630.18 million) hit to its business during the second quarter. Siemens has become the latest company to announce losses connected with its decision to leave Russia. It had previously halted new business and deliveries into the country after the invasion.
11:30 a.m. President Sauli Niinisto is expected to give the green light for Finland to join NATO, a major shift in security policy that comes in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland, which shares a 1,300-km border and a difficult past with Russia, has gradually stepped up its cooperation with the military alliance since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. But it has refrained from joining in an attempt to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbor. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats are expected to decide on Sunday whether to overturn decades of opposition to NATO membership, a move that would almost certainly lead to Sweden also asking to join the alliance.
4:00 a.m. Nearly a third of oil tankers operated by Russia’s largest maritime transport company were sailing without reported destinations at times since the invasion of Ukraine, in what analysts say shows the difficulty of enforcing Western sanctions on Moscow’s energy exports.
State-run Sovcomflot lacked destination information for up to 24 of its 76 tankers at the same time in March and April, shows a Nikkei analysis of public data provided by MarineTraffic.
The tightening sanctions net has made it harder for Russian vessels to find friendly ports of call. But it has also put Russian crude at a deep discount to international benchmarks, making it attractive to big energy buyers. Read more.
Wednesday, May 11
8:33 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin strongly condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and agreed that they will take resolute and unified action over the unfolding crisis.
6:57 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow does not want war in Europe, but that Western countries are keen to see Russia defeated in its military campaign in Ukraine. “If you are worried about the prospect of war in Europe — we do not want that at all,” Lavrov says at a news conference in Muscat after talks with his Omani counterpart. “But I draw your attention to the fact that it is the West that is constantly and persistently saying that in this situation, it is necessary to defeat Russia. Draw your own conclusions.”
5:35 p.m. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is seeking loan guarantees for Ukraine from major EBRD shareholders, including Japan, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso says. The bank is endeavoring to protect the cash flow — and the very existence — of Ukrainian companies by asking other governments to accept some amount of risk.
3:30 p.m. Bulgaria will receive U.S. liquefied natural gas from June after Russia’s Gazprom stopped gas deliveries, the government says. The arrangement was decided at a meeting between Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, according to the government. “Real deliveries of liquefied natural gas to Bulgaria at prices lower than the ones of Gazprom have been agreed as of June,” the government said in a statement. Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland on April 27 after the countries refused to pay in rubles. Bulgaria consumes about 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year, of which over 90% was coming from Russia.
11:24 a.m. The U.S. House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion more aid for Ukraine on Tuesday, as Congress races to keep military aid flowing and boost the government in Kyiv as it grapples with the Russian invasion. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to act quickly.
President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine two weeks ago, but lawmakers decided to increase the military and humanitarian funding.
9:40 a.m. China would prefer to take over neighboring Taiwan without military action but is working to get to a position where its military could prevail even if the U.S. intervenes, U.S. intelligence chiefs say. China views Taiwan, a democratically governed island, as its “sacred” territory and has never renounced the possible use of force to ensure eventual unification.
“It’s our view that they [the Chinese] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
2:30 a.m. The operator of Ukraine’s gas distribution system says it will halt flows through a key transit point for Russian gas bound for Europe, blaming Russian troop activity.
The pipeline operator has declared force majeure at Sokhranivka, meaning the situation is beyond its control, a move that could affect Europe’s energy supply, The Financial Times and other media report.
The operator proposes rerouting gas to another transit point, but Russia’s Gazprom says it would be technologically impossible to shift all of the flows in this way.
Tuesday, May 10
9:39 p.m. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, while visiting Kyiv, says Ukraine should become a full member of the European Union but that there could be no shortcut to membership. Speaking alongside Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock stresses that Germany will reduce its imports of Russian energy to zero, “and that will stay that way forever.”
9:38 p.m. Lithuania’s parliament votes unanimously to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide” and “terrorism” and to call for an international tribunal modeled on the Nuremberg Trials after World War II to prosecute suspected war crimes.
The motion alleges that war crimes by Russian forces include the deliberate killing of civilians, mass rape, forcible relocation of Ukrainian citizens to Russia and the destruction of economic infrastructure and cultural sites. Moscow denies targeting civilians.
6:30 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are scheduled to discuss a potential European Union ban on oil imports from Russia, according to Macron’s office. France currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. To further sanction Russia for its war in Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has proposed having the 27 EU member nations phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. Hungary says it won’t vote for the proposed sanctions, saying they would have the effect of an “atomic bomb” on its economy.
6:00 p.m. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrives in Ukraine, the highest-ranking German government official to visit the country since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24. Her first stop was in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where Russian forces are accused of having committed atrocities. Moscow, which has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in the Ukraine war, has called allegations that its forces executed civilians in Bucha while they occupied the town a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the Russian army.
3:30 p.m. The question of whether to join NATO is coming to a head this week in Finland and Sweden, where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered the long-held belief that remaining outside the military alliance was the best way to avoid trouble with their giant neighbor. If Finland’s president and the governing Social Democrats in both countries come out in favor of accession in the next few days, NATO could soon add two members right on Russia’s doorstep. Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after being defeated by the Soviet Union in World War II.
11:30 a.m. Japan announces new sanctions on Russia to freeze the assets of an additional 141 individuals, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Among them, 133 people are from the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, both of which are effectively controlled by pro-Russian factions in eastern Ukraine. Japan also added 71 more organizations on its list of export ban, bringing the total number of targeted bodies to 201.
7:30 a.m. Global insurers are expected to receive multiple claims over ships damaged or lost as the conflict in Ukraine spills over into sea lanes, insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty says. Projectiles have killed two seafarers and hit six merchant vessels — sinking two of them — around Ukraine’s coast since the start of the Russian invasion. London marine insurers have deemed the Black Sea and Sea of Azov high-risk areas, pushing the cost of insuring ships in the region to record levels with an additional premium added to annual war coverage for every voyage.
3:58 a.m. Canada will help Ukraine work out options on how to export stored grain to address global food security shaken by the war, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.
“We know people around the world are going to be starving because of the actions of Russia,” Trudeau tells Reuters in an interview.
“There is grain waiting to be shipped in Ukraine,” he says. “We have to make sure that Russia doesn’t prevent the grain that the world needs from getting out to the world.”
“We will work to make sure that there are different routes that can be used,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joly says. “We will work with different countries, including Turkey, as we know that the Bosporus is fundamental to the access of the Black Sea.”
12:47 a.m. The U.S. will temporarily suspend 232 tariffs on Ukrainian steel for one year, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has announced. She describes the decision to help the hard-hit industry employing 1 in 13 Ukrainians as “a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of Putin’s aggression.”
12:36 a.m. Citing the war’s impact on Volkswagen’s supply chain, the German carmaker’s CEO has urged for a negotiated end to the armed conflict in Ukraine, the Financial Times reports.
“I think we should not give up on open markets and free trade and I think we should not give up on negotiating and trying to settle,” Herbert Diess says.
Diess says Volkswagen is struggling to surpass Tesla as the world’s biggest maker of electric cars by the company’s own target of 2025.
Monday, May 9
4:44 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin evokes the memory of Soviet heroism in World War II to urge his army to victory in Ukraine. Addressing ranks of servicemen on Red Square on the 77th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, Putin condemned what he called external threats to weaken and split Russia, and repeated familiar arguments he has used to justify its invasion — that NATO was creating threats right next to its borders.
3:55 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, commemorating the country’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, says Ukraine will win in its war with Russia and will not cede any territory. “On the Day of Victory over Nazism, we are fighting for a new victory. The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win,” he said in a written address. Russia is also marking the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s World War II victory.
3:30 p.m. Russia has enough high-precision missiles and ammunition to fulfill all the tasks assigned to the country’s armed forces, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov as saying. A senior Pentagon official said in March that Russia, which sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a special military operation, was running out of precision guided munitions.
2:30 p.m. Chinese exports to Russia fell in April for the second month as China’s northern neighbor grappled with economic sanctions, while Russian shipments to China surged. Shipments to Russia fell 25.9% in April from a year earlier in dollar terms, worsening from a 7.7% decline the previous month, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data on Monday. Imports from Russia, however, surged 56.6% in April, compared with an increase of 26.4% in March. Meanwhile, China’s overall export growth tumbled in April as global demand weakened
12:30 p.m. President Vladimir Putin will lead anniversary celebrations of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on Monday as Russian forces fight Ukrainians in one of the deadliest European conflicts since the end of World War II 77 years ago. From a tribune in Red Square and before a parade of troops, tanks, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles, Putin in recent years has used Victory Day to needle the West. In the southern port of Mariupol, one of Russia’s main targets and host to some of the most destructive fighting, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment holed up in the Azovstal steel plant pleaded with the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers. “We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar told an online news conference.
11:42 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan will maintain its stakes in the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 resource projects in Russia. During an online meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven countries earlier, Kishida announced that Japan would ban Russian crude oil imports “in principle” as part of a G-7 campaign. “[For Japan] oil imports contribute to a long-term, inexpensive and stable energy supply,” Kishida told reporters. “We will take steps to phase out imports in a way that minimizes the adverse impact on people’s lives and business activities.”
9:00 a.m. Japan will ban Russian crude oil imports “in principle” as part of a campaign by the Group of Seven, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says after an online meeting of the seven leaders of major industrialized nations. The G-7 has committed to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil, marking the latest attempt by the West to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. “For a country heavily dependent on energy imports, it’s a very difficult decision,” Kishida said. “But G-7 coordination is most important at a time like now.”
5:47 a.m. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late on Sunday that about 60 people who were sheltering at a school in the eastern village of Bilohorivka were killed by a Russian bombing. “As a result of a Russian strike on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid at the school, sheltering from shelling,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
3:15 a.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new weapons and equipment for Ukraine after an unannounced visit to Kyiv. Trudeau, addressing a news conference after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also said Canada was imposing new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities in connection with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Canada, he said, was reopening its embassy in Kyiv.
3:00 a.m. As many as 60 people are feared to have been killed when a bomb struck a village school in eastern Ukraine, Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Gaidai said. About 90 people were sheltering in the school when it was hit on Saturday by a Russian bomb, setting it ablaze. “Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of whom were injured. Sixty people were likely to have died,” Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that two bodies had been found.
1:00 a.m. The Group of Seven leaders said in a joint statement that they will reinforce Russia’s economic isolation and “elevate” a campaign against Russian elites who support President Vladimir Putin after meeting virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Sunday, May 8
11:14 p.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian town of Irpin, which had been temporary held by Russian troops, the town’s mayor said on Telegram. “I’ve just had an honor to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, who came to Irpin to see with his own eyes all the horror which Russian occupiers have caused to our town,” Oleksandr Markushyn said on his Telegram channel.
10:54 p.m. U.S. first lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with the nation’s first lady, Olena Zelenska. “I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden told Zelenska. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”
10:30 p.m. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited Mariupol, the country’s most senior government official yet to set foot in the Ukrainian southern port city after weeks of Russian bombardment. Khusnullin, who in the Russian government is in charge of construction and urban development, said on Telegram he had visited Mariupol and eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha among other territories “liberated” by Russian forces. “Restoration of peaceful life begins in the regions. There’s a lot of work to be done. We will help, in particular … with providing humanitarian aid,” he wrote in a Telegram post.
4:51 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry said it had destroyed a Ukrainian corvette warship near Odesa by a missile strike overnight. The ministry also said its air defenses had shot down two Ukrainian SU-24 bombers and a helicopter over the Snake island in the Black Sea.
3:00 p.m. Two people have been killed in the Russian bombing of a school in the Ukrainian village of Bilohorivka and the 60 who remain under the debris are feared dead, Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said. Gaidai said Russia dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building. Thirty people have been rescued.
6:30 a.m. Britain will provide a further 1.3 billion pounds ($1.60 billion) in military support and aid to Ukraine, the country says, making the pledge ahead of a planned video call on Sunday by Group of Seven leaders with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The new pledge almost doubles Britain’s previous spending commitments on Ukraine and the government says this is the highest rate of spending on a conflict since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it did not give details of this calculation.
5:15 a.m. In a late night address, President Zelenskyy confirms a rescue mission at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, saying more than 300 civilians had been rescued at the plant, which has been pounded by Russian forces for several weeks. He says authorities will now focus on evacuating the wounded and medics as well as working on humanitarian corridors for all residents of Mariupol and surrounding settlements.
1:38 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes doubling down on the conflict will improve his outcome in the war, says CIA director William Burns.
“He’s in a frame of mind in which he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” said Burns, who was speaking at a Financial Times event in Washington. “I think he’s convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress.”
1:25 a.m. All women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says. “This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over,” Iryna Vereshchuk says. Kyiv announced on Friday an evacuation plan from Azovstal and other parts of Mariupol for Saturday. The Soviet-era steel mill, the last holdout in Mariupol for Ukrainian forces, has emerged as a symbol of resistance to the wider Russian effort to capture swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine in the 10-week-old war. Under heavy bombardment, fighters and civilians have been trapped for weeks in deep bunkers and tunnels that crisscross the site, with little food, water or medicine.
Meanwhile, Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery renew attempts to storm Azovstal, Ukraine’s military command says, part of a ferocious assault to dislodge the last Ukrainian defenders in the strategic port city on the Azov Sea.
12:12 a.m. Pro-Russian forces say 50 more people are evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Soviet-era plant. The defense headquarters of Russian-backed Donetsk separatists say on Telegram that a total of 176 civilians had now been evacuated from the steelworks. The report could not be independently verified.
Saturday, May 7
11:45 p.m. Jill Biden hears stories from Ukrainian women and children who fled the war and found safe haven across the border in Romania, and the American first lady praises the Romanian government and relief organizations for the range of humanitarian aid they are providing to refugees. “We stand with you,” Biden tells mothers at a Romanian public school hosting refugee students in Bucharest.
8:43 p.m. Six missiles hit the southern port city of Odesa, the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern military command says. Four rockets strike a furniture factory in a residential area, while the other two strike an already damaged runway strip. The number of casualties is unclear.
3:10 p.m. The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia’s most capable units and most advanced capabilities, the British defense ministry tweets in a regular bulletin. At least one T-90M, Russia’s most advanced tank, has been destroyed in the fighting, the ministry said. Approximately 100 T-90M tanks are in service among Russia’s best equipped units, including those fighting in Ukraine, it said.
12:00 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering attending the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asian security conference to be held in Singapore in June, Nikkei has learned. Kishida plans to call for countries to cooperate in dealing with Russia, which recently invaded Ukraine, and China, which is strengthening its maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas.
8:40 a.m. The U.K. government says it will give Ukraine 287 mobile generators in addition to 569 generators it donated earlier. The new generators, which are enough to power nearly 8,000 homes, will be used for hospitals, shelters and other essential services in the face of ongoing destruction in eastern Ukraine, it says. The government has also relaxed rules on support for overseas fossil fuels to boost supply of vital energy to Ukraine.
7:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden signs a new $150 million weapons package for Ukraine, providing additional artillery munitions, radars and other equipment in the latest in a series of transfers to help Kyiv repel Russia’s invasion. The new package will be worth $150 million and include 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counterartillery radar, jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts, a U.S. official said. The U.S. has rushed $3.4 billion worth of armaments to Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, including howitzers, anti-aircraft Stinger missile systems, anti-tank Javelin missiles, ammunition and recently-disclosed Ghost drones.
2:29 a.m. Evacuations of civilians trapped in a bombed-out steelworks in Mariupol tentatively resumed late Friday, hours after Russia was accused of violating a truce intended to allow them to depart after weeks under siege.
Two buses carrying 25 civilians, including children, arrived at the staging post of Bezimenne, around 30 km east of the plant. Russian news agency Tass reports a third bus, carrying 23 civilian evacuees, left the Azovstal steel complex. Mariupol’s mayor has estimated 200 people remained trapped at the plant with little food or water.
Friday, May 6
6:00 p.m. Russia will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, foreign ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev says, according to Reuters. Zaitsev told reporters the use of nuclear weapons by Russia — a risk that Western officials have publicly discussed — was not applicable to what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine. CIA Director William Burns said on April 14 that given the setbacks Russia had suffered in Ukraine, “none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons.”
5:30 p.m. Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, on top of five such artillery systems the Dutch government has already pledged, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht says. Germany last week reversed a long-held policy of not sending heavy weapons to war zones, following pressure from at home and abroad for it to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s attacks. The weapons, which are expected to come from the Bundeswehr armed forces, are to be delivered as soon as they emerge from maintenance over the next weeks.
3:20 p.m. Hungary cannot support the European Union’s new sanctions package against Russia in its present form, including an embargo on Russian crude oil imports, Prime Minister Viktor Orban tells state radio. Orban said the European Commission’s current proposal would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary is ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests.
12:30 p.m. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world to unite and end the war in Ukraine, calling it senseless, ruthless and “limitless in its potential for global harm.” The top U.N. human rights official said even a one-day cease-fire would prevent dozens of civilian deaths and injuries and allow several thousand people to flee Russian attacks.
11:05 a.m. The U.S. says it shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva prior to the strike that sank the warship, The Associated Press reports. An American official said that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles. But given Russia’s attacks on the Ukrainian coastline from the sea, the U.S. has provided “a range of intelligence” that includes locations of those ships, said the official.
9:23 a.m. The Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups, or about 2,000 troops. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that even as Russian airstrikes continue to bombard Mariupol, Moscow’s forces are still making only “plodding” and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbas region.
2:30 a.m. Ukraine has large enough grain stocks in territory it still controls to feed the population in these areas and enough fuel to meet farmers’ daily needs, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy says. Ukraine said last month that Russian forces had stolen “several hundred thousand tons” of grain in the areas of Ukraine they have occupied since the invasion began on Feb. 24 and this could affect the food security of local populations. The Kremlin has denied the allegation.
1:12 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a phone call that Russia was still ready to provide safe passage for civilians from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, the Kremlin says. It said Putin told Bennett in a “thorough exchange of views on the situation in Ukraine” that Kyiv should order Ukrainian fighters holed up in the vast Azovstal plant to put down their weapons.
Thursday, May 5
9:26 p.m. Authorities in Fiji have seized a $300 million yacht owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov at Washington’s request, the U.S. Justice Department says. Kerimov was sanctioned by the U.S. and European Union.
9:02 p.m. Finland is prepared for the possibility of Russia cutting off its gas deliveries, Minister of European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen tells Reuters, ahead of the Nordic country’s decision on whether to join NATO. Helsinki said on April 28 it would not abide by Moscow’s demand for gas payments to be made in rubles.
Finland is maintaining alternative energy sources, Tuppurainen says, and will lease a floating LNG terminal with Estonia. Roughly 60%-70% of the gas used in Finland originates from Russia. But it accounted for little more than 5% of the country’s total energy consumption last year, Statistics Finland’s preliminary data shows.
8:06 p.m. Ukraine is unlikely to launch a counteroffensive in its war with Russia before mid-June, when it hopes to have received more weapons from its allies, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.
Political adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also says he does not expect Russia’s offensive in Ukraine to produce any “significant results” by May 9, when Russia will celebrate its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
4:49 p.m. Russia says its artillery struck multiple Ukrainian positions and strongholds overnight, killing 600 fighters. The defense ministry also says its missiles destroyed aviation equipment at the Kanatovo airfield in Ukraine’s central Kirovohrad region and a large ammunition depot in the southern city of Mykolaiv.
Two villages in Russia’s Belgorod region bordering Ukraine have been shelled by Ukraine, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov says, adding that there were no civilian casualties.
1:39 p.m. Oil prices extend gains as a European Union proposal for new sanctions against Russia, including an embargo on crude in six months, offset concerns over slowing Chinese demand. Brent crude futures had climbed 60 cents, or 0.5%, to $110.74 a barrel by 0630 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 40 cents, or 0.4%, to $108.21 a barrel. Both benchmarks jumped more than $1 a barrel earlier in the volatile session after gaining more than $5 a barrel on Wednesday.
9:05 a.m. Women and children remain trapped inside Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol, and a prolonged cease-fire is needed to ensure their evacuation as Russia presses its assault, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. “It will take time simply to lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters,” he said. “In the present conditions, we cannot use heavy equipment to clear the rubble away. It all has to be done by hand.”
6:49 a.m. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and American counterpart Lloyd Austin have agreed to maintain U.S. nuclear deterrence and align their nations’ security strategies in light of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Russia’s baseless and “reckless invasion of Ukraine is an affront to the rules-based international order,” Austin said at the start of a 75-minute meeting in Washington. Kishi said the war means Japan can no longer separate the security of the Indo-Pacific from that of Europe.
2:55 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that global food security cannot be solved without restoring Ukraine’s agricultural production and Russia’s food and fertilizer output. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has roiled financial markets, sending commodity prices higher and affecting logistics. “Our analysis indicates that the war in Ukraine is only making things worse, setting in motion a three-dimensional crisis that is devastating global food, energy and financial systems for developing countries,” Guterres told reporters in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
Wednesday, May 4
6:05 p.m. Russia’s foreign ministry announces sanctions against 63 Japanese officials, journalists and professors for engaging in what it called “unacceptable rhetoric” against Moscow. The list includes Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, among other officials.
5:57 p.m. A Russian submarine in Black sea had fired two Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine, Russia’s defense ministry says. “The crew of the Black Sea Fleet submarine launched two Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea at designated ground targets in the territory of Ukraine,” it says.
5:50 p.m. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the military would consider NATO transport carrying weapons in Ukraine as targets to be destroyed, according to RIA news agency. Shoigu also says that Ukrainian fighters holed up in the sprawling Azovstal plant in Mariupol have been kept under secure blockade after President Vladimir Putin ordered that they be hermetically sealed off.
5:00 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says it has disabled six railway stations in Ukraine used to supply Ukrainian forces with Western-made weapons in the country’s east. The ministry says it has bombed railway stations’ power supplies using high-precision air and sea-based weapons. It did not say which Western-made weapons were supplied to Ukrainian forces via those stations.
3:50 p.m. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is proposing a phased oil embargo on Russia, as well as sanctions on its top bank, Sberbank, and to ban Russian broadcasters from European airwaves, in its toughest measures yet to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine. The plan, if agreed by EU governments, would be a watershed for the world’s largest trading bloc, which is dependent on Russian energy and must find alternative supplies.
“Putin must pay a price, a high price, for his brutal aggression,” von der Leyen tells the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
1:53 p.m. Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine’s eastern city of Izium in an effort to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas region, Britain said on Wednesday. In an update on Twitter, British military intelligence said it was highly likely that Russia intended to move beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk.
5:00 a.m. Russia appears to have avoided a default as overdue payments on two sovereign Eurobonds were sent to creditors, four sources tell Reuters. A source familiar with the payment process and speaking on condition of anonymity on Tuesday said the funds had been transferred to some bondholders the day before. Two creditors holding the bonds confirmed the money had shown up in their accounts. A senior U.S. official confirmed on Monday that Moscow had made the payment without using reserves frozen in the United States, adding that the exact origin of the funds was unclear.
5:34 a.m. Russian attacks in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region kill 21 civilians and injure 27, regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko says in an online post. Kyrylenko says the death toll, from the previous day, is the region’s highest since an assault last month on a railway station in the town of Kramatorsk that killed more than 50.
12:30 a.m. Just over 100 people have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the United Nations says, even as reports of attacks by Russian forces continue.
A U.N. official says 101 people have been ferried to safety, mostly to Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. Reuters quotes the head of the Red Cross in Ukraine as saying an unknown number of civilians remain trapped in the plant in Mariupol.
The Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian paramilitary group, says in a social media posting that two women were killed Tuesday in a Russian attack on the plant.
Tuesday, May 3
9:55 p.m. Russian troops shell the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol, confirming earlier reports of strikes on the encircled plant, where the mayor says over 200 civilians remain trapped.
Russian sources allege the country’s forces began to destroy Ukrainian firing positions established after the defenders “took advantage” of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire that let several groups of civilians escape the plant. A Mariupol police official has told public broadcaster Suspine that Russia is trying to seize the sprawling plant, the last pocket of Mariupol still held by Ukrainian forces.
6:54 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on retaliatory economic sanctions in response to the “unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organizations,” the Kremlin says. According to the decree, Russia will forbid the export of products and raw materials to people and entities that it has sanctioned. The decree also prohibits transactions with foreign individuals and companies hit by Russia’s retaliatory sanctions and permits Russian counterparties not to fulfill obligations toward them.
6:00 p.m. Russia has struck a military airfield near Ukraine’s southwestern city of Odesa with missiles, destroying drones, missiles and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by the United States and its European allies, the defense ministry says. “High-precision Onyx missiles struck a logistics center at a military airfield in the Odesa region through which foreign weapons were being delivered,” the defense ministry says. “Hangars containing unmanned Bayraktar TB2 drones, as well as missiles and ammunition from the U.S. and European countries, were destroyed.”
4:20 p.m. Slovakia will seek an exemption from any embargo on Russian oil decided by the European Union in its next set of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Slovakia’s economy ministry says.
3:07 p.m. A Fijian court rules that the U.S. can seize a Russian-owned superyacht 21 days after the luxury vessel Amadea arrived in the Pacific island nation and was detained by police. U.S. authorities assert that the Amadea is ultimately owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. and the European Union. Fiji’s High Court will grant an order to register a U.S. seizure warrant, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reports.
3:00 p.m. Russian forces shell Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and have devastated several towns in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s general staff says its forces were defending the approach to Kharkiv from Izyum, a town on the Donets River, some 120 km (75 miles) to the southeast, as the enemy left a trail of destruction around Luhansk.
Ukraine’s military says Russian forces are trying to take the front line Luhansk town of Rubizhne and prepare an assault on nearby Sievierodonetsk. The heaviest clashes were taking place around Popasna to the south. Shelling has been so intense it has not possible to collect bodies, says Serhiy Gaidai, the regional governor.
“I don’t even want to speak about what’s happening with the people living in Popasna, Rubizhne and Novotoshkivske right now,” Gaidai says. “These cities simply don’t exist anymore. They have completely destroyed them.”
1:00 a.m. The European Union will likely propose ending purchases of Russian crude oil by the 27-country bloc before the end of 2022, Nikkei and other media report.
The proposal is expected to be announced Tuesday. This follows the EU’s coal import ban agreed on in April.
The oil embargo will be the centerpiece of a sixth package of EU sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Monday, May 2
11:15 p.m. Hungary has moved its embassy in Ukraine back to Kyiv from Lviv as the capital’s security situation continues to improve, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says.
9:07 p.m. Efforts to evacuate more civilians from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol run into delays, and hundreds of people remain trapped in the Azovstal steel works, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege. The cause of the holdup is unclear, though a city official says Russian forces resumed shelling the plant on Sunday after a convoy of buses had left.
5:30 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says that the Russian military has shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet near Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine. The ministry says in a briefing it has hit 38 military targets in Ukraine, including ammunition depots and control centers.
4:37 p.m. A Ukrainian Bayraktar drone destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol ships in the Black Sea on Monday, Ukraine’s military chief says. “Two Russian Raptor-class boats were destroyed at dawn today near Zmiinyi (Snake) Island,” Chief of General Staff Valeriy Zaluzhniy wrote on the Telegram messaging app. There was no immediate reaction from Moscow to the claim.
4:03 p.m. Finland will decide to apply for NATO membership on May 12, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported late on Sunday, citing anonymous government sources. The decision to join will come in two steps on that day, with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto first announcing his approval for the Nordic neighbor of Russia to join the Western defense alliance, followed by parliamentary groups giving their approval for the application, the paper reported. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Finland and Sweden to the verge of applying for NATO membership.
3:45 p.m. Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tons of grain due to Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea ports, triggering a food crisis that would affect Europe, Asia and Africa, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. “Russia does not let ships come in or go out. It is controlling the Black Sea,” Zelenskyy told the Australian news program 60 Minutes. “Russia wants to completely block our country’s economy.” Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and other food products and also of metals.
3:04 p.m. Ukraine will be able to go on the offensive against Russia between late May and mid-June, thanks to weapons supplied by the U.S. and European countries, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an online interview with Nikkei Asia. His remark suggests an acceleration in the pace of the war, as experts predict Russia will stage all-out attacks before its May 9 Victory Day, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s beating back Nazi Germany in World War II.
1:26 p.m. Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine has come as a dire security warning for many countries. The horrifying destruction and huge casualties Ukraine has suffered have prompted political leaders around the world to start rethinking their security policies and strategies. Japan cannot remain insulated from the seismic shift triggered by the war in Ukraine. Nikkei commentator Hiroyuki Akita describes how the war underscores the urgency of buttressing the nation’s defense system and alliances. Read more.
6:30 a.m. The upcoming anniversary of Russia’s liberation at the end of World War II will have no bearing on Moscow’s military operations in Ukraine, the country’s foreign minister said on Italian television. “Our soldiers won’t base their actions on a specific date,” Sergey Lavrov said when asked whether the May 9 anniversary would mark a turning point in the conflict. “We’ll commemorate our victory in a solemn manner but the timing and speed of what is happening in Ukraine will hinge on the need to minimize risks for civilians and Russian soldiers,” he added.
6:00 a.m. About 70% of Asia’s biggest companies lost value in the first two months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with investors spooked by the economic fallout from the war and the impact of tough new COVID-19 lockdowns in manufacturing powerhouse China.
The market capitalization of prominent companies such as Tencent Holdings, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics dropped as high raw material costs and supply chain concerns weigh on manufacturers. But the value of energy and commodity companies in India, Thailand and Malaysia rose as their output commands higher prices. Read more.
5:55 a.m. Germany expects to completely wean itself off Russian crude oil imports by late summer, The Associated Press reports a German minister as saying.
Europe’s largest economy has cut its share of Russian energy imports to 12% for oil, 8% for coal and 35% for natural gas, according to Robert Habeck, who heads Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Berlin has faced strong calls to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
12:35 a.m. More on the Mariupol evacuation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Sunday, May 1
11:03 p.m. A “safe passage operation” for civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is underway, a U.N. spokesperson confirms. The operation in the besieged Ukrainian city is being carried out in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Russia and Ukraine, having begun on Friday.
5:56 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says it has struck at weapons supplied to Ukraine by the United States and European countries and destroys a runway at a military airfield near the Ukrainian city of Odesa. The ministry says it uses high-precision Onyx missiles to strike the airfield, after Ukraine accuses Russia of knocking out a newly-constructed runway at the main airport of Odesa. Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko says Russia had used a Bastion missile, launched from Crimea.
5:30 p.m. A Ukrainian fighter inside a shelter in the city’s bombed out Azovstal steel works says that 20 women and children had made it out of the sprawling plant. “We are getting civilians out of the rubble with ropes — it’s the elderly, women and children,” says the fighter, Sviatoslav Palamar. Palamar says Russia and Ukraine were respecting a local cease-fire and he hoped the evacuated civilians would be taken to the city of Zaporizhzhia to the northwest.
Two groups of civilians left the residential area around the Azovstal steel works in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Saturday, Russian news agencies cites the defense ministry as saying on Sunday. The ministry says a total of 46 civilians had left the area and were provided with food and shelter, RIA and TASS report.
4:20 p.m. U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes an unannounced visit to Kyiv. Second in the line of succession to the president, Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since the start of the war. Zelenskyy releases a video of the visit on Twitter.
7:55 a.m. Hollywood actress and U.N. humanitarian Angelina Jolie makes a surprise visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
On Telegram, Lviv Gov. Maksym Kozytskyy says Jolie came to speak with displaced people who have found refuge in Lviv, including children undergoing treatment for injuries sustained in the missile strike on the Kramatorsk railway station in early April.
Jolie has been a UNHCR Special Envoy for Refugees since 2011.
1:07 a.m. Peace talks seem to be at a standstill as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says lifting Russia sanctions is part of negotiations with Ukraine, a claim denied by senior Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak. “The talks’ agenda … includes, among other things, the issues of denazification, the recognition of new geopolitical realities, the lifting of sanctions, the status of the Russian language,” Lavrov says in comments to China’s official Xinhua News Agency published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
But Podolyak is dismissive of those comments, saying Lavrov had not attended a single negotiating round, and Ukraine did not need lessons in “denazification” or use of the Russian language from those who had attacked and occupied Ukrainian towns and cities, according to Reuters.
Saturday, April 30
11:57 p.m. The Ukrainian military says a Russian missile strike on Odesa airport has damaged the runway and it can no longer be used.
11:25 p.m. Ukraine and Russia carry out a prisoner exchange, with seven soldiers and seven civilians coming home to Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says. One of the soldiers was a woman who is five months’ pregnant, she adds.
9:00 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says France will step up military and humanitarian support to Ukraine during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to Reuters, Macron reiterates his “strong concern” over Russia’s bombing of Ukrainian cities and the “unbearable situation” in the southeastern port city of Mariupol.
3:09 p.m. Russian forces have stolen “several hundred thousand tons” of grain in the areas of Ukraine they occupy, Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister says. Speaking to Ukrainian national TV, Taras Vysotskiy expressed concern that most of what he said was 1.5 million tons of grain stored in occupied territory could also be stolen by Russian forces. Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused Russia of stealing grain in territory it has occupied, an act it said increased the threat to global food security.
2:20 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is on a five-nation tour framed as “protecting peace” as Russia’s war against Ukraine divides the Group of 20.
On his first stop, in Indonesia, Kishida stood beside Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Friday to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Unilateral changes to the status quo by force are unacceptable, and we affirmed that we will urge a peaceful resolution to conflict based on international law,” Kishida said at a joint news conference in Jakarta. He is also visiting Vietnam, Thailand, Italy and the U.K. before returning to Japan next Friday. Read more.
1:57 a.m. Russia appears close to averting an expected debt default after claiming it made two overdue dollar-bond payments Friday totaling $649 million, sent in dollars.
After U.S. authorities this month stopped American banks from processing such payments, Russia said it would pay in rubles, which is not permitted by the terms of the bonds. It may now be taking a different approach. Russia could dodge default if investors get their dollars before a 30-day grace period that expires May 4.
1:30 a.m. Japan’s foreign minister calls on Kazakhstan to side with members of the international community taking a stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Yoshimasa Hayashi made the request at a meeting with Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tileuberdi in Nur-Sultan, following Kazakhstan’s abstention last month from the U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia.
Friday, April 29
10:00 p.m. Russia has not decided whether President Vladimir Putin will attend the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia in person or virtually, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says.
9:00 p.m. Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo says Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted his invitation to the Group of 20 summit.
Widodo says he emphasized the importance of ending the war immediately in a phone conversation with the Russian leader. “I also emphasize that a peaceful solution can continue to be put forward, and Indonesia is ready to contribute to the peace effort,” he says.
The Indonesian leader also says he turned down a request for arms from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a separate phone call, and urged both Zelenskyy and Putin to end the war in Ukraine.
Indonesia, the current chair of the Group of 20 major economies, has invited both Zelenskyy and Putin to the November leaders summit in Bali, despite pressure from some Western countries to exclude the latter. Ukraine is not a member of the G-20, but chairs of the group have previously invited guest countries.
8:07 p.m. The Bank of Russia cuts its key interest rate by 300 basis points for the second time this month, to 14%, looking to stimulate more lending in the economy amid high inflation, surprising analysts who had forecast a smaller reduction.
The Russian ruble strengthens to 74.0525 against the euro, the highest in more than two years, and reaches 70.3075 to the dollar in Moscow trade before paring some gains, supported by capital controls.
7:00 a.m. Efforts to create a humanitarian corridor for civilians trapped in a Mariupol steel plant continue after United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, with Guterres calling the situation in the besieged city an “apocalypse.”
“I can only tell you we are doing everything we can to make it happen,” Guterres tells reporters after the meeting. “I am not going to enter into any comments that would undermine that possibility, because my first and only priority is the people that suffer and the people that must be rescued.”
Zelenskyy later says five Russian missiles flew into Kyiv “immediately after the end” of his talks with the U.N. chief.
2:40 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden asks Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine — a dramatic escalation of American funding for the war with Russia — and for new tools to siphon assets from Russian oligarchs.
1:00 a.m. China’s biggest oil refiner, Sinopec Group, has been unloading excess liquefied natural gas to European buyers, the company says, in transactions that appear to run counter to China’s objections to Russian sanctions.
Sinopec’s Hong Kong-listed subsidiary confirms during a first quarter earnings call that it is reselling part of its LNG stockpile on the “international market” in commenting on sales to Europe.
“These are pure market transactions,” a Sinopec representative says. “We are trading LNG on a global scale based on commercialization and diversification principles.” Read more.
Thursday, April 28
11:00 p.m. As Western energy groups pull out of Russia, Chinese oil driller CNOOC says the company has “no plan to exit from any particular region.”
All of CNOOC’s overseas projects are operating smoothly, and the company has felt no impact from the Russia-Ukraine war or any related sanctions, Chief Financial Officer Xie Weizhi tells an earnings conference.
Xie says CNOOC “neither has a plan nor has taken specific actions” regarding assets in Russia being departed by Western energy groups. Read more.
10:30 p.m. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday is dominated by how to respond to Russia’s aggression and the economic impact of its war on Ukraine. The two leaders discuss help for Ukraine and agree that Scholz’s flight home on the government plane also will carry aid items from Japan to Ukraine.
Earlier, Scholz tells Japanese business leaders: “In the future, hydrogen will be an alternative to today’s gas and coal. By promoting the development of hydrogen through Japan-Germany cooperation, we can bring about prosperity on a wide scale.” Read more.
10:21 p.m. The U.S. accuses Moscow of planning to stage fake independence votes in captured areas of southern and eastern Ukraine to justify the Russian invasion.
10:18 p.m. Finland will not pay for Russian gas in rubles despite Russia’s request for European countries to do so, says Tytti Tuppurainen, the Finnish minister in charge of European affairs.
5:52 p.m. A Russian court has fined social media network Twitter 3 million rubles ($41,000) for not removing banned content from its site, Interfax news agency reports. The fine was imposed after Twitter failed to delete content banned in Russia, including posts with instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails, Interfax said, citing the court. Earlier, Interfax reported that Russia fined U.S. internet giant Google the same amount for refusing to remove banned content from video-sharing site YouTube.
5:00 p.m. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says it would be legitimate for Ukrainian forces to target Russian logistics, but they were unlikely to use British weapons. Moscow has accused London of provoking Ukraine to strike targets in Russia, saying there would be an immediate “proportional response” if it continued. “If Ukraine did choose to target logistics infrastructure for the Russian army, that would be legitimate under international law,” Wallace told BBC TV. He said any long-range weapons were unlikely to come from Britain however, because Ukrainian forces tend to use mobile launchers, while the British Army would deliver them from the air or sea.
4:19 p.m. Japan Tobacco says it is considering selling off its Russian operations, JT International Russia, in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The company controls nearly 40% of the Russian cigarette market, but stated that it is “continuing to evaluate various options for its Russia business, including a potential transfer of ownership.”
12:52 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin warns of “lightning-fast” retaliation if countries intervene in Ukraine. Russia has told the United States to stop sending arms to Ukraine, saying large Western deliveries of weapons are inflaming the conflict. Addressing lawmakers in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin said, “If someone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside, and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast,” according to video of his address supplied by Russian media. “We have all the tools for this, things no one else can boast of having now. And we will not boast — we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know that.”
12:36 p.m. In the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early in the war, a series of explosions boomed near the television tower late Wednesday and at least temporarily knocked Russian channels off the air, Ukrainian and Russian news organizations report. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said missiles and rockets were fired at the city from the direction of the Ukrainian forces to the northwest. Russian channels began broadcasting from Kherson last week.
11:20 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan from May 20 to 24 to advance a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and strengthen ties with the two Asian allies, the White House says. It will be his first trip to the region since taking office last year. Through a series of meetings, including the Quad summit of the United States, Japan, Australia and India, Biden is likely to affirm with Indo-Pacific nations their responses to Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s assertiveness in the region and North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions.
10:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on Thursday morning “on support for Ukrainians defending their country and their freedom against Russia’s brutal war,” the White House says.
6:29 a.m. Canadian lawmakers vote unanimously to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine “genocide,” with members of parliament agreeing that there is “ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Moscow.
4:38 a.m. The European Commission proposes a one-year suspension of import duties on all Ukrainian goods not covered by an existing free trade deal to help the country’s economy during the war with Russia. The measures apply in particular to fruit and vegetables, subject to minimum price requirements, agricultural products facing quotas and certain industrial goods.
The European Union also would exempt Ukraine from safeguard measures that limit steel imports, and lift anti-dumping tariffs the EU currently imposes on Ukrainian steel tubes, hot-rolled flat steel products and ironing boards. The proposal needs to be agreed on by the European Parliament and EU governments to come into force.
12:12 a.m. Exxon Mobil’s Russian unit Exxon Neftegas declares force majeure for its Sakhalin-1 operations, Reuters reports. The Sakhalin-1 project produces oil off the coast of Russia’s Far East, exporting crude mostly to South Korea but also to Japan and other countries.
Project stakeholders including Exxon and India’s Oil and Natural Gas are having difficulty chartering tankers to ship oil out of a region that generally needs ice vessels to navigate the journey, as shippers fear reputation risk, Reuters reports.
Wednesday, April 27
11:21 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweets that Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has invited him to attend the summit of Group of 20 major economies in the Southeast Asian country in November.
Zelenskyy did not confirm whether he would accept the invitation. Russia has said President Vladimir Putin plans to attend. Officials from Indonesia, the current G-20 chair, did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.
10:20 p.m. The U.S. and Russia announce a prisoner swap that has freed a former U.S. Marine in an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough. Trevor Reed was released in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot sentenced to a lengthy term in the U.S. on cocaine-trafficking charges.
“Trevor, a former U.S. Marine, is free from Russian detention,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “I heard in the voices of Trevor’s parents how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence. And I was delighted to be able to share with them the good news about Trevor’s freedom.”
6:31 p.m. Greece will offer help to Bulgaria, which had its gas supplies cut off by Russia, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told his Bulgarian counterpart. The leaders discussed the matter by phone. “The prime minister said that Greece will help Bulgaria to deal with the new situation caused by the Russian decisions on energy,” Mitsotakis’ office said in a statement, without elaborating.
6:07 p.m. Russia expects its economy to contract by 8.8% in 2022 in its base case scenario, or by 12.4% under a more conservative scenario, an economy ministry document shows, giving apparent evidence that international sanctions are taking a toll. The conservative forecast is in line with that of former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who said earlier this month the economy was on track to contract by more than 10%, which would be its biggest decline since 1994.
5:09 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says Kalibr missiles struck an arms depot in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region housing weapons from the United States and European countries. The ministry said its air force destroyed 59 Ukrainian military targets overnight. It added that “hangars with a large batch of foreign weapons and ammunition supplied to Ukrainian troops by the United States and European countries” were destroyed. Russia’s report could not be independently confirmed.
4:25 p.m. Russian energy giant Gazprom halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for failing to pay for gas in rubles, the Kremlin’s toughest response yet to the crippling sanctions imposed by the West for the invasion of Ukraine. Poland and Bulgaria are the first countries to have their gas cut off by Europe’s main supplier since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine that has killed thousands of people, displaced millions more and raised fears of a broader conflict.
For earlier updates, click here.