Ukraine ‘absolutely sure’ it will win war, its PM says

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Russian forces are close to seizing Mariupol - REUTERS

Russian forces are close to seizing Mariupol – REUTERS

Ukraine’s prime minister has vowed that his country will win the war after Boris Johnson suggested on Friday that a Russian victory was still possible.

Speaking in New Delhi, Mr Johnson conceded that it was a “realistic possibility” that Russia could win the war and that Moscow was very close to seizing Mariupol.

However, Denys Shmyhal on Friday night told CNN: “We are absolutely sure that Ukraine will win in this war and victory will be in a very short period.”

On Friday, Russia redeployed a dozen crack military units from the shattered port of Mariupol to eastern Ukraine and pounded away at cities across the region, Ukrainian authorities said.

It came after a top Russian commander said Moscow had expanded its goals to take “full control” of southern Ukraine, as well as the eastern Donbas region.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

08:40 AM

Ukraine ‘absolutely sure’ it will win war against Russia, its PM says

08:34 AM

Five things you may have missed

Here are some key developments from this afternoon

  1. Russia reports serviceman killed after attack on warship Moskva:Russia reported on Friday that one serviceman was killed and 27 others were left missing after the fire on board the warship Moskva, which sank a week ago following what the Ukrainians boasted was a missile attack.

  2. Russia’s ‘new methods of warfare’ reflect faltering operation, says MoD: The UK Ministry of Defence says the stated intent by Russia’s Defence Secretary Sergei Shoygu to introduce “new methods of warfare” is a tacit admission that Russian progress is not going as intended.

  3. US will ‘absolutely’ re-open embassy in Ukraine, says PM: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Friday that he “absolutely” expected the United States would eventually re-open its embassy in Ukraine, but stopped short of predicting when that would happen.

  4. Russia shifts crack military units east, say Ukrainian authorities: Russia shifted a dozen crack military units from the shattered port of Mariupol to eastern Ukraine and pounded away at cities across the region, Ukrainian authorities said on Friday, as the two sides hurtled toward what could be an epic battle for control of the country’s industrial heartland.

  5. UN chief to meet Putin and Zelensky next week: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow next week to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and then head to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Read more on each of these here

08:14 AM

Putin’s ‘nuclear blackmail’ likely to increase demand for arms, says former White House adviser

Fiona Hill, the former White House intelligence adviser, said Vladimir Putin’s “nuclear blackmail” during the conflict in Ukraine was likely to increase the international demand for nuclear arms.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the former deputy assistant to the president when Donald Trump was in office said: “The nuclear issue is something that everybody should be concerned about on a global basis because he [Mr Putin] is basically telling every country: You need a nuclear weapon.

“So the whole idea of non-proliferation is basically out the window because it is basically very clear that the reason we are not going after Russia with everything that we’ve got is because they’ve got a nuclear weapon and he is saying he’s prepared to use one”.

The British-born Russia expert added: “We are in a whole new territory that we haven’t even been in during the Cold War, and so this requires really robust diplomacy.”

08:03 AM

Shell accused of using ‘accounting trick’ to keep buying Russian oil

The Ukrainian government has criticised Shell over a “trick” that allows it to continue buying Russian oil even after the business promised to cut ties with the Kremlin.

A letter sent by Kyiv to the oil giant’s boss Ben van Beurden said it was “deplorable” that companies are continuing to “bankroll Putin’s war machine” amid concerns Russian oil is still being bought through backdoor routes.

It comes amid concerns that businesses which have vowed to ditch Russian fossil fuels are still trading in it covertly, by blending the Kremlin’s oil with crude from other sources.

Read the full story from Tom Rees and Rachel Millard here

07:50 AM

Ukraine-Russia conflict in pictures:

Injured soldier smokes a cigarette outside the hospital in Kramatorsk - JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

Injured soldier smokes a cigarette outside the hospital in Kramatorsk – JORGE SILVA/REUTERS

A metal cross that used to be on the top of the dome stands outside of the damaged church in Lukashivka, in northern Ukraine - Petros Giannakouris/AP

A metal cross that used to be on the top of the dome stands outside of the damaged church in Lukashivka, in northern Ukraine – Petros Giannakouris/AP

Yehor, 7, stands holding a wooden toy rifle next to destroyed Russian military vehicles near Chernihiv, Ukraine -  Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Yehor, 7, stands holding a wooden toy rifle next to destroyed Russian military vehicles near Chernihiv, Ukraine – Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

07:48 AM

Russia claims it shot down Ukrainian fighter jet in Kharkiv

Russia’s defence ministry has claimed that its forces have shot down a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet and destroyed three MI-8 helicopters at an airfield in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.

There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine regarding the Russian claims.

07:43 AM

Shelling of eastern Luhansk’s cities intensifying, says region’s governor

All the Ukrainian-controlled cities in the eastern region of Luhansk were constantly being shelled by Russian forces, and the barrage was intensifying, the region’s governor Serhiy Haidai said today.

He said Ukrainian forces were leaving some settlements there in order to regroup, but that the move did not amount to a critical setback.

Russia denies targeting civilian areas.

07:39 AM

With exhausted troops and low morale, Vladimir Putin’s gamble in the Donbas could backfire

For Russia to gain “full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine” as the latest shift in Moscow’s war aims seem to suggest, Vladimir Putin will need to refresh and reorganise his forces, fast.

It is a bold ambition. But where will the troops come from?

Russian forces were defeated in the north of the country, along with Voznesensk and Mykolaiv in the south.

The mayor of Mykolaiv said this week his city was “over motivated” to repel the invaders, in contrast to the low morale of Moscow’s troops.

“Go home and live,” he told Russian soldiers trying to get his city to surrender, “or come here and die. Welcome to hell, motherf——!”

Read the full report from Dom Nicholls and Nataliya Vasilyeva here

07:30 AM

Mariupol evacuation to start at midday, says Ukraine’s Deputy PM

Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, said that if all went as planned, evacuations from the besieged city of Mariupol would start at noon (0900 GMT).

“Today, we again will be trying to evacuate women, children and the elderly,” Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram.

“If everything happens as planned, we will start the evacuation around noon.”

07:28 AM

UK making visa scheme ‘as difficult as possible’, says Britons

A British host offering his home to a family of five Ukrainians has accused the Government of making its visa scheme “as difficult as possible” for those who are “desperate to help”.

Neil Adams, 54, has offered his house in Wigan, Manchester, to a husband, wife and their children after they were forced to flee their home in Berdychiv, in the Zhytomyrska region of northern Ukraine.

He applied for their visas through the Homes for Ukraine scheme on March 20 but has been waiting over a month for them to be approved.

“I got in touch with the family via Facebook and we submitted all the paperwork … but the process has just been so painfully slow,” Mr Adams told the PA news agency.

He added: “It makes me feel ashamed, at least of our government”.

07:26 AM

How Putin’s war ignited a new nuclear arms race

Not content with waging war on his Ukrainian neighbours, Vladimir Putin gave the world a dress rehearsal of his updated plans for nuclear Armageddon last week.

On Wednesday, as Russian forces continued to flatten the city of Mariupol, the Kremlin leader decided it would be a good time to test fire his latest intercontinental nuclear missile.

We may look back on it as the first salvo in a new global nuclear arms race.

Read the full story from Colin Freeman here

07:24 AM

Russian forces ‘have made no major gains’ in last 24 hours, says MoD

Russian forces have made no major gains in the last 24 hours despite increased activity, as Ukrainian counterattacks continue to hinder their efforts, British military intelligence said on Saturday.

Despite Russia’s claimed conquest of the port city of Mariupol, heavy fighting continues to frustrate Moscow’s attempts to capture the city, impeding their progress in the Donbas region, the Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

Russia’s air and maritime forces have not established control in either domain owing to the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air and sea defences, it said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

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