More than one million Ukrainians ‘evacuated’ to Russia, claims Kremlin

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A man walks by an artistic depiction of Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Russian embassy in Bucharest, Romania. - AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

A man walks by an artistic depiction of Russian President Vladimir Putin outside the Russian embassy in Bucharest, Romania. – AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

More than one million Ukrainians have been ‘evacuated’ to Russia since the start of the invasion, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has claimed.

The 1.2 million people evacuated include 120,000 foreigners and civilians from the Russian-backed regions of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.

Lavrov added that 2.8 million people in Ukraine have asked to be evacuated to Russia.

However, Kyiv has accused the Kremlin of deporting thousands of Ukrainians to Russia against their will.

According to the United Nations, around 5.4 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

08:26 AM

MoD: Russia forced to merge and redeploy units from ‘failed advances’ in north-east Ukraine

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

In the latest military intelligence report, the MoD suggests that Russia is looking to concentrate on certain geographic areas to simplify command and control, and to rectify issues that have plagued its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

The report reads: “Russia hopes to rectify issues that have previously constrained its invasion by geographically concentrating combat power, shortening supply lines and simplifying command and control.

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

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

08:15 AM

The war in Ukraine, in pictures

A view of destruction in the city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 29, 2022. - Leon Klein/Anadolu

A view of destruction in the city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 29, 2022. – Leon Klein/Anadolu

Citizens from Mykolaiv arrive during their evacuation at the railway station in Odessa, Ukraine, on April 29, 2022. - Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu

Citizens from Mykolaiv arrive during their evacuation at the railway station in Odessa, Ukraine, on April 29, 2022. – Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu

Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.  - Andrey Borodulin/AFP

Smoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol on April 29, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. – Andrey Borodulin/AFP

08:04 AM

Russia claims it hit 389 targets in Ukraine overnight

Russia said on Saturday that its artillery units had hit 389 Ukrainian targets overnight, including 35 control points, 15 arms and ammunition depots, and several areas holding Ukrainian troops and military equipment.

Russia’s defence ministry said that its missiles had hit four ammunition and fuel depots.

The report has not been independently verified.

07:49 AM

Peace talks would be ‘very difficult’ if Putin succeeds in eastern Ukraine, warns former security chief

Sir Alex Younger, the former head of MI6, has said that peace talks would be “very difficult” to achieve in Ukraine if Vladimir Putin succeeds in his military aims in the east of the country.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Alex said: “Putin does not have a reverse gear, he never has. He underestimated the scale of what he was taking on, but he has now modified his approach, arguably now his objectives are more realistic and he is not going to give up.

“I think it’s key for all of us to understand the long-term and intractable nature of the conflict that’s taking place, and that is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people”.

When asked what would happen if Russia start winning in eastern Ukraine, Sir Alex said: “It’s clear that that is the Russian plan. They seek to essentially capture the Donbas, establish a land-bridge to Crimea, before any sincere engagement in a peace conversation. That is obviously the plan.

“It is clearly in our interests to ensure he is not in a position to enter any political discussion from a position of strength, and I think any progress the Ukrainian forces make in slowing him down or ideally stopping him will be positive news for us.

“If he does succeed militarily in the terms he has set out, there will then be a very difficult peace conversation, and I doubt that either the Ukrainian government or Western powers would be able to come to any form of sensible agreement with him”.

07:36 AM

MoD: Russian units in eastern Ukraine ‘suffering from weakened morale’ amid failures

07:33 AM

Putin to declare all-out war to mobilise Russians as military chiefs seek ‘payback’ for invasion failures

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

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

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

“The military are outraged that the blitz on Kyiv has failed,” a source close to Russian military officials told The Telegraph.

07:21 AM

Nato involvement in Ukraine left Russia with ‘no other choice’ but to invade, says Kremlin

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the US and other Nato countries of using Ukraine as “one of the tools to contain Russia”, with their involvement in the country having pushed the Kremlin to launch their ‘special military operation’.

Speaking to China’s Xinhua news agency, Lavrov said the military alliance’s interference in Ukraine left Russia with “no other choice” but to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and launch their invasion.

He said: “Over the past years, the United States and its allies have done nothing to stop the intra-Ukrainian conflict… they ‘pumped up’ the Kyiv regime with weapons, trained and armed the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions, and generally carried out the military-political development of the territory of Ukraine.

“They encouraged the aggressive anti-Russian course pursued by the Kyiv authorities.”

He also claimed that Nato countries are “doing everything to prevent” a ceasefire with Ukraine.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov holds a press conference in Moscow on April 27, 2022. - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov holds a press conference in Moscow on April 27, 2022. – Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

11:58 PM

Today’s top stories

  • Russia kidnapped paramedics rushing to save survivors of the Mariupol theatre bombing, the teenage daughter of a missing volunteer has revealed.

  • Ukraine warned on Friday that peace talks with Moscow were in danger of collapse and said Russia was pounding areas in the east as US lawmakers vowed to swiftly approve a massive new weapons package for Kyiv.

  • The war in Ukraine is a “stark reminder” that there is “no substitute for credible defence”, the Prince of Wales has said, in a strong statement to Britain’s military.

  • Russia staved off a default on its debt Friday by making a last-minute payment using its precious dollar reserves sitting outside the country, US Treasury officials said.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbas and all who live there.

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