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The Guardian - AU

The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is ‘thousands higher’ than official figures, UN says – as it happened

A shopping mall destroyed by Russian rocket strikes in Odesa.
A shopping mall destroyed by Russian rocket strikes in Odesa. Photograph: Ukrinform/REX/Shutterstock

Thank you for following our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

This blog has now closed. You can find our latest coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war in our new live blog in the link below.

Here are some of the latest images to come across our newswires today out of Ukraine.

A Ukrainian military medic sits in his room at a frontline field hospital near Popasna, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian military medic sits in his room at a frontline field hospital near Popasna, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA
A building destroyed in the city of Mariupol.
A building destroyed in the city of Mariupol. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
A car drives by destroyed houses in Sloboda-Kukharivska, Ukraine.
A car drives by destroyed houses in Sloboda-Kukharivska, Ukraine. Photograph: Alexey Furman/Getty Images
A soldier enters in the hole of building recently bombed to inspect the damage in Malinovka, a village east of Zaporizhia.
A soldier enters in the hole of building recently bombed to inspect the damage in Malinovka, a village east of Zaporizhia. Photograph: Rick Mave/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

US House approves more than $40bn more aid for Ukraine

The US House of Representatives has approved more than $40bn in aid for Ukraine.

The House passed the Ukraine spending bill by 368 to 57 on Tuesday evening, with every ‘no’ vote coming from Republicans, according to a Reuters report. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to act quickly.

President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33bn in aid for Ukraine two weeks ago, but lawmakers decided to increase the military and humanitarian funding.

“This bill will protect democracy, limit Russian aggression, and strengthen our own national security, while, most importantly, supporting Ukraine,” Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said.

Some Republicans opposed the bill, criticising Democrats for moving too quickly to send too many US taxpayer dollars abroad. Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control Congress, but the bill will need Republican votes to get through the Senate.

The package includes $6bn for security assistance, including training, equipment, weapons and support; $8.7bn to replenish stocks of US equipment sent to Ukraine, and $3.9bn for European Command operations.

In addition, the legislation authorises a further $11bn in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorise the transfer of articles and services from US stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency. Biden had asked for $5bn.

It also authorizes $4bn in Foreign Military Financing to provide support for Ukraine and other countries affected by the crisis.

The United States has so far rushed more than $3.5bn worth of armaments to Ukraine since Russia invaded, including howitzers, anti-aircraft Stinger systems, anti-tank Javelin missiles, ammunition and recently-disclosed ‘Ghost’ drones.

Interim summary

  • Ukrainian forces have retaken villages in the Kharkiv region, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address. The settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske were reportedly retaken from Russian forces in a recovery that could signal a new phase in the war, Zelenskiy added while cautioning against expecting “certain victories”.
  • Belarus will deploy special operations troops in three areas near its southern border with Ukraine in response to a “growing threat” by the US and its allies, the armed forces said. The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, said Moscow had agreed to help Minsk produce missiles to beef up its military capabilities and warned Belarus could “inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy”.
  • The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is “thousands higher” than official figures, the head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in the country said. The official UN civilian death toll in Ukraine stands at 3,381, as well as 3,680 injured.
  • At least 100 civilians remain in Azovstal steelworks under heavy Russian fire in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, an aide to the city’s mayor has said. Russian forces have not reduced the intensity of their attacks on the plant, where civilians and the city’s last Ukrainian defenders are holed up, Petro Andryushchenko said. Ukraine’s Azov Regiment made a plea to the international community for help, saying its soldiers were trapped in “completely unsanitary conditions, with open wounds” and “without the necessary medication and even food”.
  • Ukrainian officials said they found the bodies of 44 civilians in the rubble of a building in the north-east of the country that was destroyed weeks ago. The bodies were found in a five-storey building that collapsed in March in Izium, about 120km (75 miles) from the city of Kharkiv.
  • US lawmakers in the House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion more aid for Ukraine on Tuesday. The legislation is set to go the US Senate where it is expected to pass.
  • The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the world organisation’s leading human rights body following its suspension over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine has said it will suspend the flow of gas through a transit point which it says delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine, blaming Moscow for the move and saying it would move the flows elsewhere. GTSOU, which operates Ukraine’s gas system, said it would stop shipments via the Sokhranivka route from Wednesday, declaring “force majeure”, a clause invoked when a business is hit by something beyond its control, Reuters reports. Russia’s Gazprom said this would be “technologically impossible”.
  • Four Russian regional governors reportedly resigned on Tuesday as the country braces for the impact of economic sanctions. The heads of the Tomsk, Saratov, Kirov and Mari El regions announced their immediate departures from office, while the head of Ryazan region said he would not run for another term.
  • Ukraine has been voted through to the grand final in the Eurovision Song Contest. At the end of their semi-final performance, the folk-rap group thanked viewers for supporting Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.
  • The number of Ukrainians who have fled their country since Russia’s invasion on 24 February is approaching 6 million, according to the United Nations.

Updated

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the world organisation’s leading human rights body following its suspension over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

In Tuesday’s secret ballot vote, 180 of the General Assembly’s 193 members deposited ballots. The result was 157 countries in favour of the Czech Republic and 23 abstentions, the Associated Press reports.

The assembly approved a US-initiated resolution on 7 April to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council by a vote of 93-24 with 58 abstentions.

44 civilian bodies found under rubble in Izyum, mayor says

Rescuers say they have found the bodies of 44 civilians under the rubble of a destroyed building in the eastern Ukrainian town of Izyum, now under Russian control.

“The bodies of 44 civilians were found in Izyum under the rubble of a five-storey building which was destroyed by the occupiers in early March,” Oleg Synegubov, governor of the eastern Kharkiv region, said in an update via the Telegram messaging app.

Although fighting continues in the area, local media quoted him as saying residents had made the discovery while clearing the rubble from an area “where there is no shelling”, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

Synegubov did not say who had removed the bodies nor how they had managed to do so.

Separately, the regional prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into “the violation of the laws and customs of war” following the discovery, saying that 14 of the bodies had already been identified.

“According to the investigation, the Russian military systematically shelled Izyum between March 7-10. As a result, public infrastructure and residential buildings were destroyed,” it said on Telegram.

Ukraine has been voted through to the grand final in the Eurovision Song Contest.

At the end of their semi-final performance, the folk-rap group thanked everyone for supporting their country amid the Russian invasion.

The group had been unable to meet and rehearse regularly and were only able to get together about six weeks before Tuesday night’s performance.

Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, who was commentating for the BBC coverage of the semi-final, said: “Frontman Oleg joked that he doesn’t think the lack of rehearsal time will affect their performance because they’re very attractive men.”

The Ukrainian act is the favourite to win.

The competition’s producers previously announced Russia will no longer participate in this year’s contest following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine perform the song ‘Stefania’ during the first semi final of the 66th annual Eurovision Song Contest.
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine perform the song ‘Stefania’ during the first semi final of the 66th annual Eurovision Song Contest. Photograph: Alessandro Di Marco/EPA
The Ukrainian act Kalush Orchestra is the favourite to win.
The Ukrainian act Kalush Orchestra is the favourite to win. Photograph: Jussi Nukari/REX/Shutterstock
At the end of their semi-final performance, the folk-rap group thanked everyone for supporting their country amid the Russian invasion.
At the end of their semi-final performance, the folk-rap group thanked everyone for supporting their country amid the Russian invasion. Photograph: Alessandro Di Marco/EPA
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine has been voted through to the grand final in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine has been voted through to the grand final in the Eurovision Song Contest. Photograph: Yara Nardi/Reuters

Soldiers inside Azovstal in photos

As Russian troops continue their assault of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, a photo-journalist has revealed the extent of the suffering and life for those wounded who remain inside.

In a series of harrowing images, a photographer with the press office of the Azov Special Forces Regiment of the Ukrainian National Guard has unveiled the horror of the dimly-lit, makeshift ‘hospitals’ inside the plant where soldiers receive treatment, many for lost limbs.

An injured Ukrainian service member sits at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, Ukraine.
An injured Ukrainian service member sits at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, Ukraine. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
A man makes a peace sign at the camera.
A man makes a peace sign at the camera. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
An injured Ukrainian service member sits with his arm in a sling inside the Azovstal plant.
An injured Ukrainian service member sits with his arm in a sling inside the Azovstal plant. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
An injured Ukrainian service member sits in the dimly-lit, makeshift underground hospital.
An injured Ukrainian service member sits in the dimly-lit, makeshift hospital. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
A soldier with wounds inflicted on his face seen in bandages.
A soldier with wounds inflicted on his face seen in bandages. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
Two men who each lost a leg from Russian assaults use crutches to stand.
Two men who each lost a leg from Russian assaults use crutches to stand. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
An injured Ukrainian service member receives medical assistance in a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal plant.
An injured Ukrainian service member receives medical assistance in a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal plant. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters
A man in a sling stares at the camera as Russian troops continue their assault of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol.
A man in a sling stares at the camera as Russian troops continue their assault of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol. Photograph: Azov Regiment Press Service/Reuters

A Ukrainian soldier inside the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has spoken of the harrowing conditions from inside the plant, revealing the remaining defenders are “taking heavy casualties” as the Russians continue their assault.

Lieutenant Illya Samoilenko, a member of the Azov Regiment, told Sky News that the count of injured and fallen soldiers is “very high” and the servicemen deserve proper care.

Nobody has been expecting for us to hold against the Russians for so long but still we are fighting.

We’re taking heavy casualties, we’re taking losses.”

Ukrainian officials believe around 100 civilians remain at the site, but Samoilenko said that, as far as he knows, they were all evacuated.

He added that those at the site have “extremely limited resources,” and they believe that “every day may be our last”.

“The result of this might be... [being captured] by the enemy, which means death for us,” he added.

“Our life means nothing, but our fight means everything.”

Ukrainian soldiers have shown the squalid conditions in which they are currently living while trapped and wounded holed up under the Azovstal steel works plant in besieged Mariupol.

A series of photos were published on the Azov Regiment’s Telegram channel early this morning, alongside a plea to the international community for help.

The whole civilised world must see the conditions in which the wounded, crippled defenders of Mariupol are and act!

In completely unsanitary conditions, with open wounds bandaged with non-sterile remnants of bandages, without the necessary medication and even food.

We call on the UN and the Red Cross to show their humanity and reaffirm the basic principles on which you were created by rescuing wounded people who are no longer combatants.

The servicemen you see in the photo and hundreds more at the Azovstal plant defended Ukraine and the entire civilised world with serious injuries at the cost of their own health. Are Ukraine and the world community now unable to protect and take care of them?”

The regiment pleaded for the “immediate evacuation of wounded servicemen to Ukrainian-controlled territories” where they could be assisted and provided with proper care.

Returning to the decisive issue of gas, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited gas-producing ally Algeria for talks on Tuesday as Europe scrambles to secure alternative energy supplies.

Algeria is a major gas supplier to Europe, providing 11% of its imports, compared with 47% from Russia, according to figures cited by the Associated Press.

Italy, Spain and other European Union member countries have looked to Algeria as they seek to cut their dependence on Russian oil and gas.

However, Algeria has repeatedly stressed that it lacks the capacity to meet such demand in the short-term.

“We very much appreciate Algeria’s considered, objective and balanced position on the Ukrainian question,” Lavrov told journalists after meeting his counterpart Ramtane Lamamra and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Asked about Algeria’s gas deliveries, Lavrov said that Russia, Algeria and other gas exporters “believe we should respect deals that have already been reached”.

Lavrov added that the two sides had discussed “bolstering military and technical cooperation”.

Footage from the chaos inflicted on Odesa after one person was killed and five injured when seven missiles hit a shopping centre and a depot in Odesa has emerged showing burning buildings and rescue workers sorting through debris.

Air raid sirens sounded as the missiles interrupted a meeting between Charles Michel, president of the European Council, and the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, forcing them into a bomb shelter on Monday.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has urged the international community to take immediate steps to end a Russian blockade of his country’s ports in order to allow wheat shipments and prevent a global food crisis.

Watch the footage below.

Ukraine has said it will suspend the flow of gas through a transit point which it says delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine, blaming Moscow for the move and saying it would move the flows elsewhere.

Ukraine has remained a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe even throughout Russia’s war in Ukraine.

GTSOU, which operates Ukraine’s gas system, said it would stop shipments via the Sokhranivka route from Wednesday, declaring “force majeure”, a clause invoked when a business is hit by something beyond its control, Reuters reports.

But Gazprom, which has a monopoly on Russian gas exports by pipeline, said it was “technologically impossible” to shift all volumes to the Sudzha interconnection point further west, as GTSOU proposed.

GTSOU CEO Sergiy Makogon told Reuters that Russian occupying forces had started taking gas transiting through Ukraine and sending it to two Russia-backed separatist regions in the country’s east. He did not cite evidence.

The company said it could not operate at the Novopskov gas compressor station due to “the interference of the occupying forces in technical processes”, adding it could temporarily shift the affected flow to the Sudzha physical interconnection point located in territory controlled by Ukraine.

Ukraine’s suspension of Russian natural gas flows through the Sokhranivka route should not have an impact on the domestic Ukrainian market, state energy firm Naftogaz head Yuriy Vitrenko told Reuters.

The state gas company in Moldova, a small nation on Ukraine’s western border, said it had not received any notice from GTSOU or Gazprom that supplies would be interrupted.

Catch up

  • Belarus will deploy special operations troops in three areas near its southern border with Ukraine in response to a “growing threat” by the US and its allies, the armed forces said. The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, said Moscow had agreed to help Minsk produce missiles to beef up its military capabilities.
  • The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is “thousands higher” than official figures, the head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in the country said. The official UN civilian death toll in Ukraine stands at 3,381, as well as 3,680 injured.
  • Ukrainian forces have recaptured villages in north and north-east of Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian officials. Settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske were retaken from Russian forces, signalling a potential shift in the war wherein Ukraine could start going on the offensive.
  • US lawmakers in the House of Representatives are expected to vote on Tuesday evening on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The legislation will then go to the US Senate, where sufficient support is not quite yet in the bag.However, there is broad bipartisan support for firm US backing of Ukraine following the invasion by Russia in late February.
  • France has said a deal on a proposed EU ban on Russian oil could be struck this week, despite opposition from the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has compared the plans to an atomic bomb. Clément Beaune, an ally of Macron and France’s Europe minister, said he thought “we could strike a deal this week”.
  • Russia has been blamed for a massive cyber-attack against a satellite internet network an hour before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine. The digital attack on Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took thousands of modems offline and helped facilitate Putin’s invasion of the country, the Council of the EU said.
  • Italian prime minister Mario Draghi visited US president Joe Biden at the White House, expressing the desire for negotiations to bring an end to the war in Ukraine. He also reiterated Italian support for EU sanctions on Russia’s energy sector.
  • The longer the war in Ukraine carries on, the worse the consequences will be for the climate, the US presidential envoy John Kerry has warned.Many countries are struggling with an energy crisis while also urgently needing to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global heating to 1.5C, he said.
  • In his nightly address, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the death of Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of Ukraine, and emphasized news that Ukrainian forces were beginning to retake some villages. “I am grateful to all our defenders who are holding the line and demonstrating truly superhuman strength,” he said. “But I also want to urge all our people, and especially those in the rear, not to spread excessive emotions.”

– Guardian staff

Ukrainian forces retake villages in Kharkiv, Zelenskiy says

In his address, Zelenskiy also emphasized news that Ukrainian forces have retaken villages in the Kharkiv region, which could signal a new phase in the war. He also cautioned against expecting “certain victories”.

He said:

The Armed Forces of our state provided us all with good news from the Kharkiv region. The occupiers are gradually being pushed away from Kharkiv.

I am grateful to all our defenders who are holding the line and demonstrating truly superhuman strength to drive out the army of invaders. Once the second most powerful army in the world.

But I also want to urge all our people, and especially those in the rear, not to spread excessive emotions. We shouldn’t create an atmosphere of specific moral pressure, when certain victories are expected weekly and even daily.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine are doing everything to liberate our land and our people. To liberate all our cities - Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Mariupol and all others.

Updated

Masha Alekhina, a member of Pussy Riot, escaped from Russia by disguising herself as a food courier, the New York Times reports.

Alekhina has been put under house arrest, but as the Kremlin sought to crack down on critics of the Ukraine war, her sentence was ordered to be carred out at a penal colony.

The Times reports:

She decided it was time to leave Russia — at least temporarily — and disguised herself as a food courier to evade the Moscow police who had been staking out the friend’s apartment where she was staying. She left her cellphone behind as a decoy and to avoid being tracked.

A friend drove her to the border with Belarus, and it took her a week to cross into Lithuania. In a studio apartment in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, she agreed to an interview to describe a dissident’s harrowing escape from Mr. Putin’s Russia.

“I was happy that I made it, because it was an unpredictable and big” kiss-off to the Russian authorities, Ms. Alyokhina said, using a less polite term. “I still don’t understand completely what I’ve done,” she admitted, dressed in black except for a fanny pack with a rainbow belt.

Her lawyer told the TASS news agency, “ I don’t know how she managed to do this, given the close surveillance that law enforcement agencies organized for her.” Thousands have fled Russia since the war began, as Russian president Vladimir Putin moved to crack down increasingly on those speaking out against the invasion.

In his nightly address, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed the death of Leonid Kravchuk, the first president of Ukraine.

He said:

He was not just a politician. And not just a historical figure. He was the man who knew how to find wise words and say them so that all Ukrainians could hear them.

This is especially important in difficult, crisis moments. When the future of an entire country may depend on the wisdom of one person.

Leonid Makarovych showed just such wisdom in the late 1980s, when the Ukrainian movement emerged. He passed 1991 brilliantly, and it is only now that it may seem as if it was easy for him then.

And no matter what happened later, Leonid Kravchuk always stayed with Ukraine.

Perhaps it was because of his wisdom that he was cheerful in a special way. He always valued life, every minute of it. But he always found much more than one minute to help sort things out and give advice. And I am personally grateful to him in particular for that.

As a child he survived World War II, survived the occupation. Leonid Makarovych knew what freedom costs. And with all his heart he wanted peace for Ukraine. I’m sure we will implement it. We will achieve our victory and our peace.

Read more:

Updated

The longer the war in Ukraine carries on, the worse the consequences will be for the climate, the US presidential envoy John Kerry has warned.

Many countries are struggling with an energy crisis while also urgently needing to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global heating to 1.5C, he said.

“If it’s a long period of time, obviously that makes [staying within 1.5C] very complicated,” Kerry said. “It depends on what happens with the war, where the war goes and how long it lasts. If miraculously we can somehow find a way to resolve some of the fundamental problems in the next six months, then maybe we could just accelerate everything together. I think we can make up some distance [in progress on tackling the climate crisis].”

But he added: “The longer this goes on, the harder it becomes [to stay within 1.5C]. There are a number of scientists who believe we are on the edge of 1.5C now. Anything that is not part of the acceleration [of emissions-cutting efforts] gets in the way.”

He said the agreement reached at the UN Cop26 climate summit last year would have “faced some big hurdles” if taking place in the current geopolitical circumstances, but there was still a chance of fulfilling its promises.

“This is not easy, but it hasn’t fallen apart,” he told the Guardian. “[The effort to stay within 1.5C] has met with an unexpected barrier, the war, and it has met with an unfortunate and dangerous resurgence of business as usual by some parties that threatens the acceleration necessary to get the job done, and it’s going to be up to us to push back and continue with the process.”

The world’s leading climate scientists recently warned it was “now or never” for the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst ravages of the climate crisis.

Kerry said this showed there was still a chance of holding to the 1.5C goal. “The IPCC said to us a few weeks ago ‘we’re behind, it’s not getting better at the pace it should be, emissions have gone up, but you still have time to do this’,” he said. “And my message to people is we have to take advantage of the fact that the science tells us we still have time, but we have to greatly accelerate what we’re doing. We have to speed up very significantly.”

Read more:

US lawmakers in the House of Representatives are expected to vote on Tuesday evening on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The legislation will then go to the US Senate, where sufficient support is not quite yet in the bag.

However, there is broad bipartisan support for firm US backing of Ukraine following the invasion by Russia in late February.

The defense, humanitarian and economic funding should pass comfortably, with the two parties having reached an agreement on the details, and it will likely move quickly through Congress, AFP writes.

Time is of the essence - and we cannot afford to wait. With this aid package, America sends a resounding message to the world of our unwavering determination to stand with the courageous people of Ukraine until victory is won,” House speaker and California Democrat Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to her party colleagues on Capitol Hill.

Congressional leaders struck a deal Monday to release $6.8 billion more than the $33 billion previously requested by the White House to help the Eastern European nation ward off Moscow’s invasion.

The financial boost would include an extra $3.4 billion for both military and humanitarian assistance on top of the funding requested by the administration.

If the package passes as planned, US spending to bolster Ukraine’s defenses against Russia’s invasion and address the ensuing humanitarian crisis will soar to around $54 billion.

The action comes as a top US official warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for a long war that may not end with Russian victory in the east.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during the annual Aspen Ideas Climate Conference at the The New World Center on May 09, 2022 in Miami Beach, Florida.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during the annual Aspen Ideas Climate Conference at the The New World Center on May 09, 2022 in Miami Beach, Florida. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pelosi met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on a visit to Kyiv at the start of this month.

The blog will now hand over from the New York team to California, where my colleague Maanvi Singh is poised to take you through the next few hours.

Updated

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has made further remarks upon his visit to US president Joe Biden at the White House, expressing the desire for negotiations to bring an end to the war in Ukraine.

He thanked Biden for his hospitality in Washington, then turned his remarks to Russia’s invasion of its southern neighbour.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday.
The Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, meets with the US president, Joe Biden, in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday. Photograph: Getty Images

Here is a report from the White House reporting pool. Hopefully the snippet that was inaudible will be filled in later. Draghi said:

The ties between our two countries have always been strong, and if anything this war in Ukraine made them stronger.

Putin thought he could divide us. We stand together condemning the invasion of Ukraine, sanctioning Russia.

But I have to tell you that in Italy and in Europe now, people want to see an end to these massacres, this violence, this butchery.

And people think about what can we do to bring peace.

We certainly have to use any direct (inaudible), but it’s not enough? What can we do?

People want to think about the possibility of bringing a ceasefire and start engaging in credible negotiations. That’s the situation right now.

I think we have to think deeply about how to address this.

We will continue to work on energy security, food security especially which is another issue about which we’ll talk later about what to do.

The other thing I will say - I don’t think we’ll discuss this later - but what happens in Ukraine is going to bring a drastic change in European unity. We’ve always been close. Now, we’re going to be much closer.

I know I can count on your support as a true friend of Europe and of Italy, of course.”

Updated

Here are some more images from Ukraine’s vital Black Sea port of Odesa, which came under repeated attack, including from some hypersonic missiles.

One person was killed and five were wounded after seven Russian missiles hit a shopping centre and depot on Monday, the military said.

People walk at a site of a shopping centre destroyed by shelling amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Tuesday May 10.
People walk at a site of a shopping centre destroyed by shelling amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Tuesday May 10. Photograph: Reuters

There has been severe damage.

The destroyed shopping mall.
The destroyed shopping mall. Photograph: Ukrinform/Rex/Shutterstock

Ukrainian first responders have been working in the rubble.

Emergency services work at the site of the shelled shopping centre, on Tuesday, in Odesa.
Emergency services work at the site of the shelled shopping centre, on Tuesday, in Odesa. Photograph: Reuters

Smoke still rises a day after the shelling in Odesa.

People stand near a destroyed building on the outskirts of Odesa, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
People stand near a destroyed building on the outskirts of Odesa, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Photograph: Max Pshybyshevsky/AP

Updated

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi and US president Joe Biden stressed transatlantic unity on responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the White House on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports.

The ties between our two countries will always be strong and, if anything, this war in Ukraine has made them stronger. [Vladimir Putin] thought he could divide us. He failed, we stand together,” Draghi told Biden.

Biden, who hosted Draghi in the Oval Office, echoed the sentiment, referring in comments to the Russian president while reporters were present.

Putin believed he could split us, but we’ve all stepped up,” Biden said.

Despite Italy’s dependence on Russian gas and Rome’s traditionally friendly ties with Moscow, Draghi’s government has been a staunch supporter of efforts to punish Russia for its assault on Ukraine.

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, May 10.
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, May 10. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

Along with western allies, Rome has sent weapons to support Kyiv, although there is increasing unease about the move within Draghi’s national unity government.

Draghi has also pledged support for any European Union sanctions on Russia’s energy sector despite the risks – 40% of Italy’s natural gas imports come from Russia.

The European Union is currently debating a phased ban on Russian oil imports, although this move would not touch Moscow’s huge gas exports.

Updated

With fierce fighting between invading Russian forces and Ukrainian military across a long stretch of Ukraine, there are losses and gains for each side as the advantage fluctuates in different places.

As the vital Black Sea port of Odesa is pounded by Russian missiles, further north in the Kharkiv region Ukrainian officials are talking of having recaptured some territory.

Here are some images coming out from Kharkiv, near the central eastern border with Russia.

Ukrainian servicemen patrol an area in an undisclosed location in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine on Tuesday.
Ukrainian servicemen patrol an area in an undisclosed location in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine on Tuesday. Photograph: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

The contrast between spring sunshine, trees with fresh greenery and a certain tranquility belie what has been fierce fighting and destruction in Kharkiv and surrounding villages.

A Ukrainian serviceman in a wooded area in an undisclosed part of the Kharkiv region on Tuesday.
A Ukrainian serviceman in a wooded area in an undisclosed part of the Kharkiv region on Tuesday. Photograph: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

News wires journalists and photographers have captured graphic shots of dead Russian soldiers, which we will refrain from sharing here, but which bolster Ukrainian claims they are making some headway in resisting the Russian advance in that area.

An unidentified Ukrainian serviceman walks next to a destroyed Russian battle tank near the village of Staryi Saltiv in the Kharkiv region, on Monday
An unidentified Ukrainian serviceman walks next to a destroyed Russian battle tank near the village of Staryi Saltiv in the Kharkiv region, on Monday. Photograph: Reuters

Updated

Ukraine announced its forces had recaptured villages from Russian troops north and north-east of Kharkiv, pressing a counter-offensive that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum and jeopardise Russia’s main advance, Reuters reports on Tuesday.

Tetiana Apatchenko, press officer for the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, the main Ukrainian force in the area, in the country’s east, confirmed that Ukrainian troops had in recent days recaptured the settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske, in a pocket north of Kharkiv.

A Russian battle tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces near the village of Staryi Saltiv, in the Kharkiv region, on Monday May 9.
A Russian battle tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces near the village of Staryi Saltiv, in the Kharkiv region, on Monday May 9. Photograph: Reuters

Defence ministry adviser Yuriy Saks said the successes were pushing Russian forces out of range of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and located in the north-east, which has been under perpetual bombardment since the war began.

The military operations of the Ukrainian armed forces around Kharkiv, especially north and north-east of Kharkiv, are sort of a success story. The Ukrainian army was able to push these war criminals to a line beyond the reach of their artillery,” Saks told Reuters.

US officials are now talking about a stalemate. But the counterattack near Kharkiv could signal a new phase, with Ukraine now going on the offensive after weeks in which Russia mounted a massive assault without making a breakthrough.

By pushing back Russian forces who had occupied the outskirts of Kharkiv since the start of the invasion, the Ukrainians are moving into striking distance of the rear supply lines sustaining the main Russian attack force further south.

They’re trying to cut in and behind the Russians to cut off the supply lines, because that’s really one of their (the Russians’) main weaknesses.

Ukrainians are getting close to the Russian border. So all the gains that the Russians made in the early days in the noerth-east of Ukraine are increasingly slipping away,” said Neil Melvin of the RUSI thinktank in London.

Updated

Summary

It is 9pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • Belarus will deploy special operations troops in three areas near its southern border with Ukraine in response to a “growing threat” by the US and its allies, the armed forces said. The Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, said Moscow had agreed to help Minsk produce missiles to beef up its military capabilities.
  • The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is “thousands higher” than official figures, the head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in the country said. The official UN civilian death toll in Ukraine stands at 3,381, as well as 3,680 injured.
  • France has said a deal on a proposed EU ban on Russian oil could be struck this week, despite opposition from the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has compared the plans to an atomic bomb. Clément Beaune, an ally of Macron and France’s Europe minister, said he thought “we could strike a deal this week”.
  • Russia has been blamed for a massive cyber-attack against a satellite internet network an hour before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine. The digital attack on Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took thousands of modems offline and helped facilitate Putin’s invasion of the country, the Council of the EU said.

Updated

First president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk dies

The first president of independent Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, has died after a long illness, local news has reported.

Ukrainian MP Dmitry Razumkov said Kravchuk, who served as president from 1991 to 1994, was “a figure who stood at the origins of modern Ukrainian statehood”.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Anton Gerashchenko tweeted that Kravchuk was “a historic figure and played a huge part in Ukraine becoming independent peacefully”.

From our Isobel Koshiw:

An Azov Special Forces Regiment’s serviceman inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
An Azov Special Forces Regiment’s serviceman inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Photograph: Dmytro ’Orest’ Kozatskyi/AP
Fierce fighting continues around the area of the Azovstal steel mill where about 2,000 Ukrainian defenders are still holding out.
Fierce fighting continues around the area of the Azovstal steel mill where about 2,000 Ukrainian defenders are still holding out. Photograph: Dmytro ’Orest’ Kozatskyi/AP
One of the Ukrainian fighters holding out at the steel plant said they were still defending the city.
One of the Ukrainian fighters holding out at the steel plant said they were still defending the city. Photograph: Dmytro ’Orest’ Kozatskyi/AP

Four Russian regional governors resigned today as the country braces for the impact of economic sanctions, Reuters reports.

The heads of the Tomsk, Saratov, Kirov and Mari El regions announced their immediate departures from office, while the head of Ryazan region said he would not run for another term. Elections for all five regions are scheduled to take place in September.

Russian regional governors are elected but are politically subordinate to the Kremlin. Unpopular governors are regularly removed from office.

Several of the outgoing governors represent regions where the ruling bloc United Russia took weak vote shares in parliamentary elections last year.

From András Tóth-Czifra, a political analyst at the Center for European Policy Analysis:

The Kremlin is removing weak governors amid a worsening economic outlook for Russia, driven by western sanctions, according to Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Centre for the Development of Regional Politics thinktank in Moscow.

Grashchenkov said:

There’s a need to restructure the economy, especially in those regions where western economic influence had been significant. These governors need to be replaced by younger alternatives.

Russia’s economy ministry has said that the economy is set to contract by 8.8% in 2022.

Updated

The US believes that Russia is about two weeks behind schedule in its invasion of Ukraine’s Donbas region as well as the south of the country, according to a senior US defence official.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said:

We would assess that he’s [Vladimir Putin] easily two weeks or even maybe more behind ... where he thought he wanted to be in the Donbas and in the south.

The US assesses that Putin has not achieved any of his strategic goals so far in the Donbas or in Ukraine, and that his focus remains on the Donbas, the official said.

From Foreign Policy’s Jack Detsch:

Updated

When the war started journalists in Ukraine found themselves at the centre of the biggest story in the world. They became war correspondents overnight.

Ukrainian journalists were spotlighted this week when the Pulitzer prize board awarded them with a special citation, hailing the country’s reporters for the “courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting” they have shown since the Russian invasion.

But initially, writing stories and making television reports was secondary for the reporters, editors, and producers who heard explosions around them and scrambled for safety. For more than a month many Ukrainian journalists focused on survival. Some have since returned to work, but often they lack protective equipment and hostile environment training.

“Lots of journalists left Kyiv,” said Kristina Berdynskykh, a journalist at one of Ukraine’s major independent publications, Novoye Vremya. “They weren’t thinking about whether they’d be fired, they were just thinking that they had to get their families out.”

Journalists run for safety in Irpin. The demand for the necessary protective equipment from Ukrainian journalists has increased as journalists return to work.
Journalists run for safety in Irpin. The demand for the necessary protective equipment from Ukrainian journalists has increased as journalists return to work. Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters

After the first few days almost all of the staff of Ukraine’s prominent newsrooms fled westwards to Lviv where many remain. Lviv quickly became the new temporary capital when Russian forces surrounded Kyiv.

“From the print journalists I know, there was maybe a handful left in Kyiv,” said Berdynskykh. “It is mostly the TV stations who had small teams of war correspondents who had experience in the Donbas. For everyone else, the situation was an absolute shock.”

Those who stayed in Ukraine’s hotspots embarked on new careers. Berdynskykh spent 18 nights sleeping on the floor in Kyiv’s metro to avoid the shelling and conducted phone interviews. Without a car or taxis, and with shells flying into the city, in-person interviews were near to impossible for the first month she said.

“At first it was practically just western journalists – war correspondents – doing on-the-ground reporting,” said Berdynskykh, who was a leading political reporter but is now focusing on the experiences of ordinary Ukrainians around the country. “But I’m grateful to them because we were still adapting.”

Read Isobel Koshiw’s full article here: ‘I had to act’: How Ukrainian journalists became war correspondents overnight

Lukashenko warns Belarus can ‘inflict unacceptable damage’ as special troops deployed to border near Ukraine

Belarus will deploy special operations troops in three areas near its southern border with Ukraine in response to a “growing threat” by the US and its allies, the armed forces said, as the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, said Moscow had agreed to help Minsk produce missiles.

The Belarusian chief of general staff, Viktor Gulevich, said:

The United States and its allies continue to build up their military presence on the state borders of Belarus. The strength of this force has more than doubled in the last six months.

He said the build-up of military presence by western allies “testifies to a growing threat to the Republic of Belarus”, adding that Belarus is also deploying air defence, artillery and missile units for drills in the west.

The announcement comes after Lukashenko earlier today said Moscow had agreed to help Minsk produce missiles to beef up its military capabilities.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.
Russian president Vladimir Putin and Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin pool/Sputnik/EPA

Speaking at a meeting of defence officials, Lukashenko was quoted by the state-run news agency Belta as saying that events in Ukraine had demonstrated the importance of having troops with modern, highly effective weapons and supplies.

Lukashenko said he won the support of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, for people involved in missile production in Russia to take a look at Belarus’s developments in that area.

He said the Belarusian army was combat-ready and will be able to “inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy” in case of external aggression, adding:

We are realists, we understand that we will not be able to defeat Nato. However, we have all the weapons to do damage, especially to the territories from which we will be attacked.

The Belarusian president said he was “not hinting at anything, but I want everyone to understand the range of the weapons we have”.

Updated

The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is “thousands higher” than official figures, the head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in the country has said.

The official UN civilian death toll in Ukraine stands at 3,381, as well as 3,680 injured but the UN’s Matilda Bogner said places such as Mariupol were still a “black hole” in the UN’s data collection, but thousands more would be added to the official death toll once verified.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is at a “bit of a stalemate”, Lt Gen Scott Berrier, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the US Senate armed services committee.

Berrier said:

The Russians aren’t winning and the Ukrainians aren’t winning and we’re at a bit of a stalemate here.

He added that so far, between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed in the war.

Asked about the prospect of Putin using tactical nuclear weapons, Berrier said:

Right now, we do not see that.

Updated

A car destroyed by Russian attacks in the middle of a road in the northern region of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.
A car destroyed by Russian attacks in the middle of a road in Kharkiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated

Today so far ...

It is almost 6.30pm in Kyiv. Here’s where we stand:

  • The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is “thousands higher” than official figures, the head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in the country said. The official UN civilian death toll in Ukraine stands at 3,381, as well as 3,680 injured.
  • France has said a deal on a proposed EU ban on Russian oil could be struck this week, despite opposition from the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has compared the plans to an atomic bomb. Clément Beaune, an ally of Macron and France’s Europe minister, said he thought “we could strike a deal this week”.
  • Russia has been blamed for a massive cyber-attack against a satellite internet network an hour before Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine. The digital attack on Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took thousands of modems offline and helped facilitate Putin’s invasion of the country, the Council of the EU said.

Good afternoon from London. I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll continue to bring you all the latest developments from the war in Ukraine. I’m on Twitter or you can email me.

Updated

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, will visit Finland and Sweden on Wednesday, as the two Nordic countries consider whether to apply for Nato membership in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Downing Street said Johnson would have discussions on “broader security issues” during his visit to Finland followed by Sweden.

A spokesperson for the PM said:

It is about not just Ukraine but the security of Europe more broadly. This is about meeting other democratic countries and discussing issues such as security which are of importance here and overseas.

We support countries’ democratic capability to decide on things like Nato membership. We understand the positions of Sweden and Finland and that is why the prime minister is going to discuss these broader security issues.

Updated

Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said Ukraine should become a full member of the European Union at some point but that there could be no shortcut to membership.

Speaking alongside her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock stressed that Germany would reduce its imports of Russian energy to zero, “and that will stay that way forever”.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (L) and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (R) in Kyiv.
Annalena Baerbock (L) and Dmytro Kuleba (R) in Kyiv. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Haines also addressed the threat that the war in Ukraine could turn nuclear. In general, US intelligence believes Moscow could make the threats more explicit, but would not use nuclear weapons if he does not believe his regime is at risk.

Haines said:

We believe that Moscow continues to use nuclear rhetoric to deter the United States and the west from increasing lethal aid to Ukraine and to respond to public comments from the US and Nato allies that suggest expanded western goals in the conflict. And if Putin perceives that the United States is ignoring his threats, he may try to signal to Washington the heightened danger of its support to Ukraine by authorising another large nuclear exercise involving a major dispersal of mobile intercontinental missiles, heavy bombers and strategic submarines.

We otherwise continue to believe that President Putin would probably only authorise the use of nuclear weapons if he perceived an existential threat to the Russian state or regime.

But we will remain vigilant and monitor every aspect of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. With tensions this high, there is always an enhanced potential for miscalculation, unintended escalation, which we hope our intelligence can help to mitigate.


In the question and answer session of the Senate hearing, Haines went into more detail on perceptions on when Putin would go nuclear, and in particular what would constitute an existential threat for the Russian leader. She said that might not just be fear of an attack on Russia, but also fear of defeat in Ukraine.

We do think that could be the case in the event that he perceives that he is losing the war in Ukraine, and that Nato in effect is either intervening or about to intervene in that context, which would obviously contribute to a perception that he is about to lose the war in Ukraine.

But there are a lot of things that he would do in the context of escalation before he would get to nuclear weapons and also that he would be likely to engage in some signaling beyond what he’s done thus far before doing so.

Updated

Putin 'will turn to more drastic means' to achieve objectives in Ukraine, says US spy chief

More from Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, who said that the Ukraine war is becoming a war of attrition with no end in sight.

Haines said:

Putin most likely judges that Russia has a greater ability and willingness to endure challenges than his adversaries and he is probably counting on US and EU resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy prices get worse. Moreover, as both Russia and Ukraine believe they can continue to make progress militarily, we do not see a viable negotiating path forward at least in the short term.

The uncertain nature of the battle which is developing into a war of attrition, combined with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities, likely means the next few months could see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory.

The current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic means, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production, or potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on, or if he perceives Russia is losing in Ukraine.

The most likely flashpoint for escalation in the coming weeks is around increasing Russian attempts to intimidate western security assistance, retaliation for western economic sanctions or threats to the regime at home.

Updated

Putin 'preparing for prolonged war' in Ukraine, says US spy chief

Avril Haines, the US director of national intelligence, has been testifying to the Senate armed services committee on worldwide threats and has had some interesting things to say about the Ukraine war. It is a pretty grim outlook.

Haines said:

We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas. We assess that Putin’s strategic goals have probably not changed, suggesting he regards the decision in late March to refocus Russian forces on the Donbas is only a temporary shift to regain the initiative.

She said Putin’s short-run military goals are to capture the two oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk plus a buffer zone around them, and encircle Ukrainian forces in that part of the country from the north to consolidate control over a land bridge to Crimea, and to hold Kherson oblast, where Crimea’s water comes from.

US intelligence also sees indications that Putin wants to extend the land bridge all the way over to Transnistria, the Moscow-occupied region of Moldova, thereby controlling all of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. Haines thinks Putin will face an uphill task to achieve all those objectives, however.

While the Russian forces may be capable of achieving most of these near term goals in the coming months, we believe that they will not be able to extend control over a land bridge that stretches to Transnistria and includes Odesa without launching some form of mobilisation and it is increasingly unlikely that they will be able to establish control over both oblasts [Donetsk and Luhansk] and the buffer zone they desire in the coming weeks.

Updated

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has posted to his Telegram channel that he had a “meaningful meeting” with the foreign ministers of Germany and the Netherlands, Annalena Baerbock and Wopke Hoekstra. Zelenskiy said: “Support from your countries is important and valuable to us. Thank you for being in solidarity with the Ukrainian people today.”

Updated

Kyiv mayor: damage to buildings in Ukraine's capital will cost €70m to repair

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko has posted to Telegram that the cost of renovating buildings in Ukraine’s capital following Russian attacks will amount to €70m (£60m / $74m). He said:

As a result of Russia’s military aggression, a total of 390 buildings in the Ukrainian capital were damaged. 222 of them are apartment buildings.

We have already identified 20 apartment blocks where restoration work should begin first. So that people could return to your homes soon. The shelling and bombing of the city damaged 75 educational institutions, 30 of which were preschools, 17 healthcare facilities, 11 cultural facilities.

Updated

As may have been anticipated, the diplomatic readout from China of the call between President Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron differs slightly from the emphasis in the French readout.

Reuters reports that Chinese state media say Xi warned Macron that confrontation between blocs resulting from the Ukraine crisis could become a bigger and more lasting threat to global peace than the crisis itself.

China has repeatedly urged European countries to exercise diplomatic autonomy instead of aligning with the United States in what Beijing says is a “cold war mentality”, and has not condemned Russia for its latest invasion of Ukraine.

On a more positive diplomatic note, Chinese state media also say that Xi told Macron he hoped France will play an active role in promoting China-EU ties as it holds the presidency of the EU.

Updated

The French side have offered a diplomatic readout of a call between France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Reuters reports that the communique from the Élysée presidential office said that subjects discussed included the situation in Ukraine and the worldwide food crisis resulting from the war.

“The two heads of state reiterated their commitment to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” the Élysée said.

China has not yet commented on the call.

Updated

France has said a deal on a proposed EU ban on Russian oil could be struck this week, despite opposition from the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has compared the plans to an atomic bomb.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is due to hold a phone call with the Hungarian leader later on Tuesday in a bid to break the deadlock. Clément Beaune, an ally of Macron and France’s Europe minister, said he thought “we could strike a deal this week”.

France’s Emmanuel Macron (left) and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán at a Brussels summit earlier this year.
France’s Emmanuel Macron (left) and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán at a Brussels summit earlier this year. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen said there had been progress after making a last-minute dash to Budapest to discuss the plans with Orbán on Monday night.

The European Commission president described the discussion as “helpful to clarify issues related to sanctions and energy security”. She added: “We made progress, but further work is needed,” promising to hold a video conference with other countries in the region to boost cooperation on oil infrastructure.

EU diplomats insist all 27 member states are united behind the idea of a ban on Russian oil, with sources close to the talks describing the delay as technical rather than political.

But the EU had hoped to announce the oil embargo and a new set of sanctions on influential Russians before last weekend, following Von der Leyen’s presentation of the plans at the European parliament last Wednesday.

Lithuania’s parliament voted unanimously to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide” and “terrorism” and called for an international tribunal to prosecute suspected war crimes.

The motion said Russian forces’ war crimes included the deliberate killing of civilians, mass rape, forcible relocation of Ukrainian citizens to Russia and the destruction of economic infrastructure and cultural sites, Reuters reports.

The Lithuanian parliamentary motion, co-sponsored by the prime minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, read:

The Russian Federation, whose military forces deliberately and systematically select civilian targets for bombing, is a state that supports and perpetrates terrorism.

It follows a similar unanimous vote by Canadian lawmakers last month to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide”.

Britain, the EU and the US have publicly blamed Russia for a massive cyber-attack against a satellite internet network an hour before the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, ordered his troops to invade Ukraine.

The digital attack on Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took thousands of modems offline and helped facilitate Putin’s invasion of the country, the Council of the EU said in a statement.

The cyber-attack had a “significant impact” and caused “indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across several public authorities, businesses and users in Ukraine, as well as affecting several EU member states”, the statement said, adding:

This unacceptable cyber-attack is yet another example of Russia’s continued pattern of irresponsible behaviour in cyberspace, which also formed an integral part of its illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

The UK’s national cyber security centre has assessed that Russian military intelligence was almost certainly involved in the 13 January attacks on Ukrainian government websites, as well as the subsequent attack impacting Viasat on 24 February.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said Russia would face “severe consequences” for its “malign behaviour and unprovoked aggression” across land, sea and cyberspace, adding:

This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe.

Russia routinely denies it carries out offensive cyber operations.

Updated

More than 8 million people displaced in Ukraine, says UN

The UN’s migration agency said more than 8 million people had been internally displaced in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on 24 February.

The figures, published in a report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), represent a 24% increase compared with the first internal displacement figures published on 16 March.

Nearly half of those people were considering further relocation due to the humanitarian crisis in the country, the report said. More than 2.7 million people have returned home.

Displaced Ukrainians at the Lviv train station in western Ukraine.
Displaced Ukrainians at the Lviv train station in western Ukraine. Photograph: Miguel A Lopes/EPA

The survey highlights financial support as the overwhelming need among people who have been internally displaced in Ukraine. Two-thirds of people identified cash assistance as one of their needs, compared with 49% at the beginning of the war. More than 70% said they would use that cash assistance to buy food or medicine.

Updated

Russia will not be taking part in a special session of the UN’s human rights council on Ukraine, the foreign ministry said.

The council announced yesterday that it would hold a special session to examine “the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression”.

More than 50 countries, including Britain, Germany, Turkey and the US backed the request by Kyiv and demanded an extraordinary meeting of the UN’s top rights body.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, said the Russian delegation “will not legitimise with its presence this new political show organised under the guise of an extraordinary session”.

In a statement, Zakharova said:

Unfortunately, our arguments and explanations on the true objectives of this special military operation and the real situation on the ground have been completely ignored.

She said it was “evident” that Russia’s arguments “will not be heard this time either” during the west’s “new anti-Russian measure”.

Updated

A man helps an old woman to get on an evacuation bus from Kramatorsk to Dnipro
A man helps an old woman to get on an evacuation bus from Kramatorsk to Dnipro. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock
A little boy with his mother and other refugees in an evacuation bus heading from Kramatorsk to Dnipro
A little boy with his mother and other refugees in an evacuation bus heading from Kramatorsk to Dnipro. Photograph: Andriy Andriyenko/SOPA Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Updated

A recent rise in dolphin deaths in the Black Sea may have been caused by the war in Ukraine, scientists have said, Selin Uğurtaş reports.

Researchers believe heightened noise pollution in the northern Black Sea, caused by about 20 Russian navy vessels and ongoing military activities, may have been driving cetaceans south to Turkish and Bulgarian shores, where they are being stranded or caught in fishing nets in unusually high numbers.

Since the beginning of the war, Turkey has recorded a rise in strandings of the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) across its Black Sea coast. More than 80 of the animals were found dead across the country’s western Black Sea, which the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (Tudav) described as “an extraordinary increase”.

Initial investigations by Tudav revealed about half of these dolphins were killed after getting entangled in fishing nets. The fate of the other half, however, is still an “unanswered question”, according to Dr Bayram Öztürk, the chair of Tudav, as no signs of entanglement or gunshot wounds could be found on the carcasses.

“Acoustic trauma is one of the possibilities that come to mind,” Öztürk said, although he stressed it was important to remain cautious. “We don’t have proof on what low frequency sonar may cause in the Black Sea because we have never seen this many ships, and this much noise for such an extended time – and science always demands proof.”

Navies commonly rely on sonar to detect enemy submarines from great distances. Because marine mammals also depend on sound for communication and other functions, the underwater noise can have serious, even fatal, effects on cetaceans.

According to Dr Pavel Gol’din, a researcher at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences, while acoustic trauma may explain the strandings, constant underwater noise caused by military activities could explain the higher bycatch rate.

Updated

Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, and her Dutch counterpart, Wopke Hoekstra, visited areas around Kyiv devastated by the war on a surprise visit to Ukraine.

Both visits were unannounced, with Baerbock visiting the town of Bucha, which has become synonymous with allegations of Russian war crimes after dozens of bodies in civilian clothing were found in the streets. Baerbock is the highest-ranking German government official to visit Ukraine since the beginning of the war.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine.
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock (right) and Ukrainian prosecutor Ggeneral Iryna Venediktova near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

As she walked around the town with Ukraine’s general prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, Baerbock said those responsible for the killings in Bucha should face justice.

Baerbock said:

That is what we owe to the victims. And these victims, you can feel that here very intensely, these victims could have been us.

Hoekstra tweeted that he had visited Irpin, another town near Bucha where Russian troops are alleged to have carried out atrocities.

Hoekstra is also scheduled to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, and with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a spokesperson from the Dutch foreign ministry said.

Updated

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the EU’s planned sixth package of sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo, was needed as the bloc’s proposal still faced talks.

Addressing Slovakia’s parliament, Zelenskiy said:

Now the sixth package of sanctions will be adopted, and it is certainly a package that we need, and also energy sanctions are needed.

Meanwhile, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said he hoped a deal would be reached soon on an EU oil embargo on Russia, Reuters reports.

Foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday. Borrell said last week that he could also call an emergency meeting of the ministers to sign off on sanctions if they were ready, or to move negotiations forward.

It comes after the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed the “progress” made during talks with Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán, who has so far resisted Brussels’ plans for a Russian oil embargo.

Real civilian death toll ‘thousands higher’ than official figures, says UN

The number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the war is “thousands higher” than official figures, the head of the UN’s human rights monitoring mission in the country said.

The official UN civilian death toll in Ukraine stands at 3,381, as well as 3,680 injured. When asked about the number of deaths and injuries, Matilda Bogner told reporters:

We have been working on estimates, but all I can say for now is that it is thousands higher than the numbers we have currently given to you.

The UN team, which includes 55 monitors in Ukraine, said most of the deaths have been caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, such as missile and air strikes.

Bogner added:

The big black hole is really Mariupol where it has been difficult for us to fully access and to get fully corroborated information.

She said her team was also investigating “credible allegations” of torture, ill-treatment and executions by Ukrainian forces against the Russian invading forces and affiliated armed groups.

Bogner said:

In terms of the extent of violations by Ukrainian forces, while the scale is significantly higher on the side of allegations against Russian forces, we are also documenting violations by Ukrainian forces.

Hello. I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll be bringing you the latest news from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or via email.

Updated

Today so far …

  • Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the international community to take immediate steps to end a Russian blockade of his country’s ports in order to allow wheat shipments and to prevent a global food crisis.
  • At least 100 civilians remain in Azovstal steelworks under heavy Russian fire in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, an aide to the city’s mayor has said.
  • Ukrainian officials have announced they found the bodies of 44 civilians in the rubble of a building in the north-east of the country that was destroyed weeks ago. The bodies were found in a five-story building that collapsed in March in Izyum.
  • Russia’s underestimation of Ukrainian resistance and its “best case scenario” planning have led to “demonstrable operational failings, preventing President Putin from announcing significant military success in Ukraine” at the 9 May Victory Day parade, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said.
  • The president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed “progress” made during talks with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán on Monday night, who has so far resisted Brussels’ plans for a Russian oil embargo.
  • In the US, the White House has dismissed a Victory Day speech by Russian president Vladimir Putin as “revisionist history” and said his suggestion that western aggression led to the Ukraine war was “patently absurd”.
  • The Nordic region’s defence capabilities would be strengthened if Sweden and Finland joined Nato, Sweden’s defence minister told Swedish radio on Tuesday.
  • Greece has reopened its embassy in Kyiv, joining the list of countries to begin operating diplomatic missions in Ukraine.

Léonie Chao-Fong will be along shortly to take over the blog for the next few hours.

Updated

Russia’s defence ministry have also published their operations update. They claim that:

Units of the People’s Militia of the Luhansk People’s Republic, with the support of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, having completed the cleansing from the nationalists of the village of Popasnaya, broke through the enemy’s defence in depth and reached the administrative border of the Luhansk People’s Republic. As a result of the offensive, up to 120 nationalists, 13 armoured vehicles and 12 vehicles for various purposes were destroyed.

Operational-tactical and army aviation hit 16 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the armed forces of Ukraine overnight.

Rocket troops and artillery units hit 33 command posts, 407 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment, as well as five ammunition and fuel depots in the areas of Nikolaev and Mirny of the Nikolaev region. As a result of the strikes, up to 380 nationalists were destroyed, 53 units of military equipment were disabled.

None of the claims have been independently verified.

The general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine made the following claims in their operations update today:

Over the past day, in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repulsed 15 enemy attacks, destroying 1 anti-aircraft missile system, 9 tanks, 3 artillery systems, 25 armored combat vehicles, 3 units of special engineering equipment, and 3 enemy vehicles.

There is no independent verification of the claims.

Ukraine’s army also raised the spectre of chemical sabotage, posting as part of their daily report:

Russian invaders may conduct acts of sabotage at the Ukrainian chemical industry facilities to further accuse the units of the armed forces of Ukraine of them.

Again, they did not present any evidence of intelligence that directly backed the claim.

Greece has reopened its embassy in Kyiv, joining the list of countries to begin operating diplomatic missions in Ukraine.

Staff had withdrawn from Kyiv shortly after Russia’s invasion on 24 February with diplomats instead bolstering Greece’s consulate in eastern Ukraine, home to some 150,0000 ethnic Greeks.

The embassy will be headed by Manolis Androulakism who as Greek consul general in Mariupol was the last EU envoy to leave the besieged coastal city in March.

Recounting his experience upon his return to Athens, the diplomat said the bombardment of Mariupol would undoubtedly rank alongside Stalingrad and Aleppo.

“Mariupol will be included in a list of cities in the world that were completely destroyed by war, such as Guernica, Stalingrad, Grozny, Aleppo,” he told reporters at Athens airport shortly after his arrival in the capital on 20 March.

Athens had urged members of Ukraine’s Greek community to leave the country with Androulakis organising the evacuation of expatriates from Mariupol. The minority has had a presence around the Black Sea area, overseeing a flourishing business community, for centuries.

“We tried to save as many expatriates as we could,” the diplomat said in March. “Heroes are the people who stayed on and will try to make their lives from scratch.”

Updated

Here are some of the latest images from Ukraine to land across our newswires today.

A man takes pictures of the destroyed shopping and entertainment centre in Odesa.
A man takes pictures of the destroyed shopping and entertainment centre in Odesa. Photograph: Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP/Getty Images
Ukranian journalist Illia video chats with her girlfriend through the train window as he sees her off in Dnipro on Victory Day.
Ukrainian journalist Illia videochats with her girlfriend through a train window as she sees her off in Dnipro on Victory Day. Photograph: Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock
A view of the city of Mariupol.
A view of the city of Mariupol. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Birds fly past a tombstone damaged by the war in Bucha.
Birds fly past a tombstone damaged by the war in Bucha. Photograph: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Ukrainian officials have announced they found the bodies of 44 civilians in the rubble of a building in the north-east of the country that was destroyed weeks ago.

The bodies were found in a five-story building that collapsed in March in Izyum, about 120km (75 miles) from the city of Kharkiv, which has been under sustained Russian attack since the beginning of the war in late February.

“This is another horrible war crime of the Russian occupiers against the civilian population!” said Oleh Synehubov, the head of the regional administration, in a social media message announcing the deaths,

Associated Press reports that Izyum lies on a key route to the eastern industrial region of the Donbas, now the focus of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Synehubov did not say specifically where the building was.

The claims have not been independently verified.

Updated

More than 2 million Ukrainians have found refuge in Poland since the beginning of the war in February; the vast majority are women with children. While the two countries share history, culture and a border, women’s access to reproductive healthcare is radically different.

Oxana Lytvynenko, a Ukrainian reproductive rights activist who has lived in Poland for 16 years and has been helping refugees in reception points since the war began, says that some women have no idea that their access to reproductive healthcare services will vanish upon crossing the border.

“It’s difficult because you don’t want to re-traumatise these women just after they are so happy to be safe again. It doesn’t feel like the right moment to tell them the truth.”

Lytvynenko says she has met women at the border who have asked her to help them access medication to terminate a pregnancy, but says that the ability to access reproductive healthcare services is down to chance.

Read more of Weronika Strzyżyńska’s report: ‘Declare it to a doctor, and it’s over’: Ukrainian women face harsh reality of Poland’s abortion laws

At least 100 civilians remain in Azovstal steelworks under heavy Russian fire in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, an aide to the city’s mayor has said.

“In addition to the military, at least 100 civilians remain in the shelters. However, this does not reduce the density of attacks by the occupiers,” Reuters reports mayoral aide Petro Andryushchenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Updated

The Ukrainian MP Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, a former head of the security services in the country, has been interviewed on Sky News in the UK from Kyiv. He said that yesterday “we saw again the Victory Day madness in Moscow”. He told viewers:

The same day in Ukraine, in the city of Odesa, the city of Mykolaiv, Russians shelled our cities, our civilians. In Putin’s speech we did not hear any news, any good news for anybody, for us, for the whole world. It’s still the same Soviet kind propaganda. Conducting a war on our soil because of this “Russia’s motherland”. It sounds really like madness, especially on Victory Day.

On the accusations in some quarters of Russia that Ukrainians had been deliberately using civilians as human shields he said:

How can we use civilians as a shield when the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Russian Caspian Sea fleet are shelling missiles, Kalibr and others, against civilians? There is no protection.

On the prospects for peace, he said

The war will continue until Vladimir Putin wants to stop it. We understand any night in any city we can expect shelling at any minute, any hour. That is Putin’s responsibility and his decision.

Updated

The Nordic region’s defence capabilities would be strengthened if Sweden and Finland joined Nato, Sweden’s defence minister told Swedish radio on Tuesday.

Reuters reports defence minister Peter Hultqvist said: “There will be the effect that we use each others’ strengths and advantages and fully complement each other and also carry out operational planning.”

“If so, the effect will be that we become stronger together. This is something that can happen if we choose to join Nato,” he told the nations public broadcaster.

Sweden already has defence agreements with its Nordic neighbours. Russia has repeatedly warned of consequences if Finland and Sweden were to join Nato and site nuclear missiles closer to Russia’s borders.

Updated

We have been sent some images over the newswires of the aftermath of what Ukraine say was a missile attack on the city of Odesa in southern Ukraine.

First responders work at the site of a missile strike in Odesa.
First responders work at the site of a missile strike in Odesa. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters
First responders searched for signs of life in the rubble while dealing with the fire.
First responders searched for signs of life in the rubble while dealing with the fire. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters
The images were released 10 May by the state emergency service of Ukraine.
The images were released 10 May by the state emergency service of Ukraine. Photograph: State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Reuters

The images have been supplied by the state emergency service of Ukraine and have not been independently verified.

Weronika Strzyżyńska reports for us from Warsaw on Ukraine’s Roma refugees:

“I just wish landlords would meet with us before they reject us,” says 42-year-old Nadia, who fled from her village near Donetsk when Russian bombs fell on her neighbour’s house in March. She came to Poland with her son’s wife, 22-year-old Raiia, her adult daughter, and with seven children between them.

While the women have found work in a meat processing factory making hotdog sausages, like other Romany refugees they have hit a wall in finding a home.

“They face discrimination,” says Mariam Masudi a coordinator at the hostel, working for Salam Lab, an NGO. “Roma are not admitted to other reception points. No one wants to rent to them. I don’t know anyone who has managed to settle in Poland. Those who have been able to move out of the hostel have moved abroad.”

The official number puts Ukraine’s Roma population at 400,000, though experts see that as a low estimate. No one knows how many Ukrainian Roma have arrived in Poland, says Poland’s civil rights deputy ombudsman, Hanna Machińska.

“These are large intergenerational families, some of 30 people. Most don’t have a precise plan when they arrive in Poland,” she says. “This situation requires institutional help. Individuals are not able to organise support for such large groups of people.”

Read more of Weronika Strzyżyńska’s report: ‘Meet us before you reject us’: Ukraine’s Roma refugees face closed doors in Poland

EU chief hails 'progress' made with Hungary for Russian oil embargo

The president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, earlier hailed the “progress” made during talks with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who has so far resisted Brussels’ plans for a Russian oil embargo.

Landlocked Hungary relies on Russian oil from a single pipeline and Orban has warned he cannot approve the European Commission’s proposed sixth package of EU sanctions against Moscow.

“This evening’s discussion with PM Viktor Orbán was helpful to clarify issues related to sanctions and energy security,” Von der Leyen tweeted.

The two leaders discussed the issue during a meeting in Budapest.

“We made progress, but further work is needed,” she said, adding she would organise a videoconference call “with regional players to strengthen regional cooperation on oil infrastructure”.

Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó also said the two sides “made progress” but that they still had plenty to discuss.

“We cannot make the Hungarian people pay the costs of this war,” he said in a video posted on Facebook, according to Reuters.

Before the leaders’ talks, Orbán’s international spokesman Zoltán Kovács, citing Szijjártó, compared the sanctions package to an “atomic bomb” for Hungary’s economy.

“Hungary will not vote for the EU Commission’s initiative on sanctions against Russia because it poses a problem for Hungary and does not contain a proposal for a solution,” he tweeted.

“The proposal is like an atomic bomb for the Hungary economy and would destroy our stable energy supply.”

Updated

Ukraine calls for help to unblock ports and prevent global food crisis

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the international community to take immediate steps to end a Russian blockade of his country’s ports in order to allow wheat shipments and to prevent a global food crisis.

Ukraine’s major Black Sea port of Odesa for exporting agricultural products was struck by missiles on Monday.

For the first time in decades there is no usual movement of the merchant fleet, no usual port functioning in Odesa. Probably this has never happened in Odesa since World War II.

Ordinary life related to the sea is blocked by Russia. Exactly Russia. And this affects not only Ukraine.

Without our agricultural exports, dozens of countries in different parts of the world are already on the brink of food shortages. And over time, the situation can become downright terrible.

Politicians are already discussing the possible consequences of the price crisis and famine in Africa and Asia. This is a direct consequence of Russian aggression, which can be overcome only together – by all Europeans, by the whole free world. It can be overcome by putting pressure on Russia, by effectively forcing Russia to stop this disgraceful war.”

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, visited Odesa and said he saw silos full of grain, wheat and corn that was ready for export but blocked.

“This badly needed food is stranded because of the Russian war and blockade of Black Sea ports. Causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries. We need a global response,” he said.

Updated

Putin unable to announce military success after ‘demonstrable operational failings’, UK says

Russia’s underestimation of Ukrainian resistance and its ‘best case scenario’ planning have led to “demonstrable operational failings, preventing President Putin from announcing significant military success in Ukraine” at the 9 May Victory Day parade, the UK’s ministry of defence has said.

According to the latest British intelligence report, Russia’s invasion plan is highly likely to have been based on the mistaken assumption that it would encounter limited resistance and would be able to encircle and bypass population centres rapidly.

This assumption led Russian forces to attempt to carry out the opening phase of the operation with a light, precise approach intended to achieve a rapid victory with minimal cost.

This miscalculation led to unsustainable losses and a subsequent reduction in Russia’s operational focus.”

White House accuses Putin of 'revisionist history' in Victory Day speech

The White House has dismissed a Victory Day speech by Russian president Vladimir Putin as “revisionist history” and said his suggestion that western aggression led to the Ukraine war was “patently absurd”.

Speaking to reporters during a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Putin’s speech was “revisionist history that took the form of disinformation”.

What we saw President Putin do is give a version of revisionist history that took the form of disinformation that we have seen too commonly as the Russian playbook.

Russian President President Vladimir Putin speaks at a military parade on Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow on Monday.
Russian president President Vladimir Putin speaks at a military parade on Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow on Monday. Photograph: EyePress News/Rex/Shutterstock

Psaki said 9 May is supposed to be “about celebrating peace and unity in Europe and the defeat of Nazis in World War Two” but instead “Putin is perverting history” to justify his unprovoked and unjustified war.

Now, what is fortunate is that we are all aware – reporters around the world are aware, Europeans are aware, Americans are aware – of the disinformation factory that President Putin and the Kremlin seem to be.

The suggestion that this war that was prompted by – directed by President Putin was prompted by western aggression or western plans is patently false and absurd.”

Updated

US plans $40bn aid package for Ukraine

US Congressional Democrats have agreed to provide a further $39.8bn in additional aid for Ukraine, two sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters on Monday.

The House of Representatives could pass the plan, which exceeds president Joe Biden’s request last month for $33bn, as soon as Tuesday, and Senate leaders said they were also prepared to move quickly, the news agency reports.

Biden on 28 April asked Congress for $33bn to support Ukraine, including more than $20bn in military assistance.

The new proposal includes an additional $3.4bn for military aid and $3.4bn in humanitarian aid, the sources said.

US president Joe Biden signs the Ukraine Lend-Lease Act in Washington on Monday.
US president Joe Biden signs the Ukraine Lend-Lease Act in Washington on Monday. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

A statement released by the White House read:

The need is also urgent: I have nearly exhausted the resources given to me by a bipartisan majority in Congress to support Ukraine’s fighters. This aid has been critical to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield. We cannot allow our shipments of assistance to stop while we await further Congressional action. We are approximately ten days from hitting this critical deadline.”

Democrats and Republicans both reportedly said they supported more aid for Ukraine and would approve emergency funding quickly, but it was delayed by disputes between the parties over whether additional funding for Covid-19 relief or stiffer immigration controls should be included.

Earlier on Monday, Biden signed the Ukraine Democracy Defence Lend-Lease Act of 2022 to streamline the supply of US weapons and other material to Ukraine or eastern European countries.

The lend-lease act, streamlining the flow of military equipment, “is based on a WWII-era program to help Europe resist Hitler”, the White House said.

Updated

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments until my colleague Martin Belam in London takes the reins a little later.

It is just after 8am in Ukraine. Here is everything you might have missed:

  • Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the international community to take immediate steps to end a Russian blockade of his country’s ports in order to allow wheat shipments and to prevent a global food crisis. Ukraine’s major Black Sea port of Odesa for exporting agricultural products was struck by missiles on Monday. “Without our agricultural exports, dozens of countries in different parts of the world are already on the brink of food shortages,” he said.
  • Russian forces, backed by tanks and artillery, were conducting “storming operations” on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where the southern city’s last defenders remained holed up, Ukraine’s defence ministry said. Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said Russian forces began “storming” the Azovstal plant after a UN convoy left the Donetsk region.
  • The Pentagon said it had seen indications that Ukrainians caught up in Russia’s invasion were being forcibly removed to Russia. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he “can’t speak to how many camps or what they look like”.
  • Joe Biden has signed the Ukraine Democracy Defence Lend-Lease Act of 2022 to streamline the supply of US weapons and other material to Ukraine or eastern European countries. US congressional Democrats also agreed to provide another $39.8bn in aid for Ukraine, two sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters on Monday.
  • In Odesa, Russian missiles struck tourist sites and destroyed five buildings while injuring two people, its city council said. Ukrainian media reported a shopping centre was on fire.
  • The European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen, hailed the “progress” made during talks with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán during discussions related to the proposed sixth package of EU sanctions, which would include a ban on Russian oil imports to the EU. “We made progress, but further work is needed,” she said.
  • Ukraine has submitted the second part of a formal questionnaire to obtain candidacy for EU membership. “Today we have taken another step – a very important and not just a formal step – on our path to the European Union,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced in his national address late on Monday evening.
  • The UN human rights council is due to hold a special session on Thursday to address alleged Russian human rights violations during its war in Ukraine. More than 50 countries, including Britain, Germany, Turkey and the US, backed a request by Ukraine and demanded an extraordinary meeting of the UN’s top rights body.
  • The UN Security Council is also expected to hold a new public meeting on Thursday on Russia’s war in Ukraine, in light of the continuing deterioration of the humanitarian situation. France and Mexico have requested briefings from the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), a diplomat told Agence France-Presse.