Ukraine will feel aftermath of Russia’s war ‘for 100 years’, says Olaf Scholz

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An injured Ukrainian service member sits at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, Ukraine, - Dmytro Orest Kozatskyi/Press service of Azov Regiment

An injured Ukrainian service member sits at a field hospital inside a bunker of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, Ukraine, – Dmytro Orest Kozatskyi/Press service of Azov Regiment

Ukraine can expect to feel the aftermath of Russia’s war “for 100 years” because of unexploded bombs littering cities, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned.

“Those who live in Germany know that bombs from World War II are still frequently discovered,” Scholz told reporters. “Ukraine should brace itself to battle with the consequences of this war for 100 years.

“That is why we will also have to work together on the reconstruction.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

06:15 PM

That’s all for today

Thanks for following our live updates. That’s it until the morning, so here’s a summary of the latest developments:

  • British soldiers could be sent to defend Sweden and Finland against Russian invasion as part of new defence pacts, Boris Johnson said on Wednesday as he vowed to back their applications to join Nato.

  • The Prime Minister said that Nato is a defensive alliance and does not pose a threat to any other country, while Ukraine’s president said the war with Russia could have been prevented had Kyiv been a member of the bloc beforehand.

  • Russian troops are being pushed away from Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, Volodymyr Zelensky added.

  • Kherson says it will ditch plans for a referendum and instead simply ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate the region into Russia.

  • Mariupol has become a “medieval ghetto” with medics forced to amputate limbs to stop new epidemics erupting, officials in the devastated southern port city have warned.

  • Ukraine can expect to feel the aftermath of Russia’s war “for 100 years” because of unexploded ordnance littering cities, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday, adding that allies would help the country rebuild.

  • Russia demanded a formal apology from Poland and threatened possible future reprisals for a protest in which Moscow’s ambassador to Warsaw was doused with red paint.

06:00 PM

Give Ukraine peace a chance, says Italian Prime Minister

The United States and Europe need to work with Russia and Ukraine to end their conflict and forge a peace deal, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday.

Speaking a day after meeting US President Joe Biden, Draghi said Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, had shown it was not invincible and that it was vital to seek ways of ending the 11-week war.

“We agreed that we must continue to support Ukraine and put pressure on Moscow, but also begin to ask how to build peace,” Draghi told reporters, adding that it was essential for the United States to talk directly with Russia.

However, he stressed that no one should try to impose a peace deal on Ukraine. “This would be a recipe for disaster,” he said.

05:50 PM

Recap: Watch Boris Johnson’s press conference with Sweden’s Prime Minister below

Boris Johnson will sign historic security assurance declarations with Sweden and Finland in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pledging to “bolster military ties” and support both countries should they come under attack.

The Prime Minister arrived in Stockholm on Wednesday before travelling to Harpsund, the country residence of his Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, where he set out a UK commitment to come to the country’s aid in the event of a crisis.

Mr Johnson also visited Finland to formalise a similar agreement with the country’s President Sauli Niinisto, as both countries are expected to apply for Nato membership within weeks.

An offer to increase deployments to the region, including with Royal Air Force, British Army and Royal Navy personnel and assets, will also be made.

Mr Johnson said the assurances were “not a short-term stop-gap, but a long-term commitment to bolster military ties and global stability, and fortify Europe’s defences for generations to come”. Watch his press conference below.

05:47 PM

Finland joining Nato ‘would not be against anyone’

Finnish president Sauli Niinisto said on Wednesday that it “would not be against anyone”, if the Nordic country joined Nato , despite Russia warning against membership.

“Joining Nato would not be against anyone. It is not a zero-sum game”, the president said at the signing of a political declaration of mutual assistance with the UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

05:02 PM

Nato does not pose a threat to anyone, says Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said that NATO was a defensive alliance and did not pose a threat to any other country, as Sweden and Finland consider joining the organisation in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Nato is a defensive alliance. Nato poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence,” Johnson said in a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Helsinki.

04:28 PM

War-torn Ukraine urges donors to ‘maximise’ efforts

Ukraine’s finance minister Sergiy Marchenko has called upon international donors to “maximise” efforts to help the nation in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

“While defending our country and fighting against Russia we take a massive risk … to make Ukraine win this war,” Marchenko told the European development bank’s annual meet in the Moroccan city Marrakesh.

“We would thus appreciate if you take a small (financial) risk to help Ukraine so that we can win,” he added via video link.

The 2022 gathering of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) runs to Thursday.

Kyiv can only cover about 62 percent of primary budget needs excluding military expenditure, Marchenko added.

04:12 PM

Doctors forced to amputate limbs as Mariupol becomes ‘medieval ghetto’

Mariupol has become a “medieval ghetto” with medics forced to amputate limbs to stop new epidemics erupting, officials in the devastated southern port city have warned.

The country’s human rights chief Lyudmyla Denisova appealed to the UN and Red Cross to help evacuate wounded fighters stuck in the city’s Azovstal steel works. She said the destruction of a makeshift hospital there meant many were dying as power and water supplies are cut off.

“Due to the risk of infection because of a lack of antibiotics, medical instruments and sterile dressings, doctors are forced to amputate the limbs even with minor injuries,” she wrote online.

The city’s mayor Vadym Boichenko, who has fled, said “the [Russian] occupiers have turned Mariupol into a medieval ghetto,” while one of his aides said Azovstal was ablaze again after fresh bombing, warning: “If there is hell on earth, it is there.”

“Without medicine and medical care, the restoration of the water supply and proper sewerage in the city, epidemics will erupt. Today, the majority of the current population is old and sick. Without proper conditions, mortality among vulnerable groups will increase exponentially,” Boichenko said.

03:57 PM

Russian spy boss compares US to German Nazi propaganda machine

A Russian spy chief on Wednesday compared the US State Department to the World War Two Nazi propaganda machine constructed by Joseph Goebbels, saying Washington had launched an anti-Russia messaging campaign across social media.

Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency (SVR), said the United States was encouraging the spreading of fake information on the popular Telegram messaging service in an attempt to “discredit” and “dehumanise Russia’s political and military leadership in the eyes of the Russian people”.

“Their actions have a lot in common with the traditions of the Third Reich’s ministry of public education and propaganda and its head Joseph Goebbels,” Naryshkin said in a statement published on the SVR website.

Naryshkin provided no evidence to support the claims of a US-backed information campaign. Russia regularly accuses the West of funding and supporting anti-Kremlin movements and has labelled dozens of independent human rights groups and media outlets in Russia “foreign agents” over recent years.

Representatives of the US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

03:54 PM

Top EU official backs multi-trillion plan to rebuild Ukraine

A top European official has backed a multi-trillion-euro ‘Marshall’-style plan to rebuild Ukraine, pledging the firepower of the EU’s lending arm for what he said must be a global rescue effort.

Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, said Europe must not be left alone to foot the vast bill that he predicted could run into the trillions.

Under the post-World War Two US scheme known as the Marshall Plan, the United States granted Europe the present-day equivalent of some $200 billion over four years in economic and technical assistance.

Addressing the need for a similar programme for Ukraine, Hoyer told Reuters that the cost of rebuilding the country had been discussed at recent meetings at United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington.

“What will it cost to rebuild, reconstruct Ukraine? Figures were flying around the room … but one thing is quite clear to me: We are not talking about millions but trillions” said Hoyer, a former German foreign office minister under Chancellor Helmut Kohl following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

03:43 PM

Watch: Wives of Mariupol’s Azovstal fighters beg Pope Francis to save their husbands

02:39 PM

Ukraine will feel aftermath of Russia war ‘for 100 years’

Ukraine can expect to feel the aftermath of Russia’s war “for 100 years” because of unexploded ordnance littering cities, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday, adding that allies would help the country rebuild.

“Those who live in Germany know that bombs from World War II are still frequently discovered,” Scholz told reporters. “Ukraine should brace itself to battle with the consequences of this war for 100 years.

“That is why we will also have to work together on the reconstruction.”

02:38 PM

Russia demands formal Polish apology for Warsaw anti-war protest

Russia on Wednesday demanded a formal apology from Poland and threatened possible future reprisals for a protest in which Moscow’s ambassador to Warsaw was doused with red paint.

The ambassador, Sergey Andreev, was accosted by people protesting against Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as he went to lay flowers at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Warsaw on Monday.

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Polish Ambassador Krzysztof Krajewski to receive its protest.

“Russia expects an official apology from the Polish leadership in connection with the incident and demands the safety of the Russian ambassador and all employees of Russian foreign institutions in Poland are ensured,” it said in an angry statement.

“A decision on further steps will be taken depending on Warsaw’s reaction to our demands.”

Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said authorities had warned Andreev that attending the cemetery, when Russia was commemorating Victory Day, risked provoking an incident.

01:55 PM

War in Ukraine: latest pictures

A Ukrainian soldier checks a driver at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kharkiv - Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency

A Ukrainian soldier checks a driver at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kharkiv – Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency

A woman prays as she shelters from shelling in the basement of a school in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv - Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

A woman prays as she shelters from shelling in the basement of a school in Saltivka neighbourhood in Kharkiv – Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Vira Moisenko mourns after laying flowers on the grave following the funeral of her husband Olexandr Moisenko in Lviv - Leon Neal/Getty Images

Vira Moisenko mourns after laying flowers on the grave following the funeral of her husband Olexandr Moisenko in Lviv – Leon Neal/Getty Images

01:44 PM

UN chief ‘deeply concerned’ about global hunger fallout from war

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday he was deeply concerned about hunger becoming widespread in different parts of the world due to food shortages in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Speaking alongside Austria’s chancellor and foreign minister in Vienna, Guterres also said talks were ongoing to evacuate more civilians from conflict zones in Ukraine.

“…I have to say that I am deeply concerned, namely with the risks of hunger becoming widespread in different parts of the world because of the dramatic food security situation we are facing because of the war in Ukraine,” he said.

01:26 PM

Russian woman speaks of wish to cut ears off Ukrainian children

A Russian woman has said that she hates Ukrainian children so much that she wants to cut their ears off, carve stars into their backs and kill them, according to an audio release from Ukraine’s intelligence services that it said was of an intercepted Russian telephone conversation.

In the audio file, released on Twitter, the woman tells a man that Ukrainian children will “grow up to become Nazis, just like their parents” and that they should be turned away from Russia’s borders.

“Why is Putin inviting them to Russia? Let them all be killed in Ukraine,” she said. “I hate these Ukrainians. Now I absolutely hate them. I would shoot these children.”

The Ukrainian intelligence services everyday release several recordings of what they have said are intercepted Russian telephone conversations. The Telegraph was not able to independent verify the recording.

01:03 PM

US and Polish ambassadors summoned to Russian foreign ministry

The US ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, arrived at Russia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday along with Polish ambassador Krzysztof Krajewski, RIA news agency reported.

Krajewski had been summoned to the foreign ministry after protesters poured red liquid over Russia’s envoy to Poland at a wreath-laying ceremony in Warsaw on Monday.

12:34 PM

Russia stands by Warsaw embassy after diplomat mobbed

Russia is not considering closing its embassy in Warsaw after the country’s ambassador to Poland was doused in red paint on Monday – Russian Victory Day – by people protesting against the war in Ukraine.

“The closing of the Russian Embassy in Warsaw is not being considered, unless the Polish authorities make its functioning impossible,” the embassy said in a statement.

Sergey Andreev was laying a wreath at Warsaw’s Soviet Military Cemetery with his entourage when he was approached by hundreds of protesters waving Ukrainian flags and chanting “fascists” and “murderers”.

Videos on social media showed the diplomat standing in the centre of a scuffle before protesters grabbed the wreath and threw a bucket of red paint at his face.

Read more on that here and watch below.

12:21 PM

Shelling ‘damages Ukrainian warehouse storing ammonium nitrate’

Local authorities in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk told residents to go out as little as possible and to keep their windows shut on Wednesday because Russian shelling had damaged a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate nearby.

Ammonium nitrate is most commonly used as a source of nitrogen for fertiliser and it can cause respiratory problems if inhaled in large quantities.

Russia did not immediately comment on the report and it could not be immediately verified.

“We emphasise that there is no direct threat to the lives of the inhabitants of the Sloviansk community,” the Sloviansk city authorities said, adding that the warehouse was in the Kramatorsk area.

12:13 PM

Nato membership would have prevented the war, says Zelensky

The war with Russia would have been prevented if Ukraine had been member of Nato beforehand, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in a speech at French University Sciences Po.

“If Ukraine had been part of Nato before the war, there would have been no war”, Mr Zelensky told students via videolink.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said the risk of seeing Ukraine become member of Nato warranted the invasion of its neighbour that started more than two months ago.

Ukrainian serviceman walks next to a destroyed Russian main battle tank T-90M Proryv - Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters

Ukrainian serviceman walks next to a destroyed Russian main battle tank T-90M Proryv – Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters

12:07 PM

PM won’t be drawn on nuclear spectre under new Sweden deal

Boris Johnson would not be drawn on whether Britain would provide Sweden with nuclear weapons under the new security assurance declarations which are being signed.

He was asked about the issue at a press conference alongside Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, after several statements from Moscow in recent weeks which have threatened the use of nuclear weapons.

“This is about our joint decision to show we will support and defend each other,” Mr Johnson says.

“When it comes to our nuclear deterrent, that’s something we don’t generally comment upon. But what I’ve made clear is that it’s up to either party to make a request and we take it very seriously.”

12:01 PM

Whatever Sweden requests in event of attack, UK will give

Sweden’s Prime Minister says the security alliance comes against a longer-term military build-up from Russia and “more aggressive rhetoric” before the invasion of Ukraine, meaning tensions are now “more difficult than before”.

“If Sweden decides to send an application to join Nato, Russia has said they will respond – but how exactly they will respond is unclear. They have said they will increase their military presence in this region is Sweden and/or Finland sends an application,” Magdalena Andersson tells a press conference.

She says that the agreement will make Sweden safer, regardless of whether it joins the Nato military alliance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “if Sweden were attacked and looked to us for help and support, then we would provide it, but it’s up to Sweden to make the request”.

“What we are saying emphatically, is that in the event of a disaster or an attack upon Sweden, then the UK would come to the assistance of Sweden with whatever Sweden requested.”

11:54 AM

We won’t hesitate to defend liberal values, says Johnson

Boris Johnson says the UK’s new security alliance with Sweden will allow the sharing of more intelligence, bolstered military exercises, and to further the development of joint technology.

“This is an agreement that enshrines the values that both Sweden and the UK hold dear and which we will not hesitate to defend,” he says.

The new security alliance means that “upon request from the other party, we would come to the other party’s assistance,” the Prime Minister adds in a press conference in Sweden.

“Sweden and the UK intend to do much more together,” he adds. “It’s the foundation stone for an important development in our relationship.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson - Frank Augstein/WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson – Frank Augstein/WPA Pool/Getty Images

11:50 AM

‘We stand more united than ever’

Sweden’s Prime Minister says the UK’s new mutual security assurance deal with her country “serves a crucial purpose regardless of the choices Sweden will make in terms of our security policy in the future”.

Magdalena Andersson tells a press conference from her country retreat: “President Putin thought he could cause division, but he has achieved the opposite – we stand here more united than ever.”

Boris Johnson said it is an “irony” that Europe now faces the “empty conceit of a 21st century tyrant” and warned that despite hopes that peace would prevail on the continent after World War Two, “Putin’s bloodthirsty campaign against a sovereign nation has put an end to that hope”

11:45 AM

Ukraine wants to restore the country’s territory

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to French University Sciences Po, said he wanted to restore the country’s territory before an end of the war with Russia could be envisioned, adding he was still willing to dialogue with Moscow.

“Once we recoup all that is ours, we will finish this,” Mr Zelensky told students via videolink.

11:41 AM

Coming up: Boris Johnson press conference with Swedish Prime Minister

Stay here for the latest updates, and you can watch the briefing shortly at the top of this page.

11:37 AM

Kherson will ask Russia to annex city

Kherson says it will ditch plans for a referendum and instead simply ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate the region into Russia.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russia-installed deputy head in the southern Ukrainian city, scrapped plans to create a Kherson People’s Republic, similar to the pro-Russia Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in the Donbas region.

Instead of a referendum, “this will be one single decree based on the appeal of the leadership of the Kherson region to the President of the Russian Federation, and this will include the region inside the Russian Federation,” he said.

Kherson was the first region in Ukraine to fall to Russia after Putin ordered his invasion on February 24.

For the first month of Russia’s occupation, Ukrainian flags flew above administrative buildings and residents were allowed to protest – but as the Kremlin’s language hardened so did the Russian crackdown in Kherson.

Thousands have fled the Kherson region and those that have remained have talked of increasingly harsh repression, a network of informers, the introduction of the Russian school curriculum, the Russian rouble and Russian flags.

11:22 AM

Nearly 5 million jobs lost in Ukraine as war pummels economy

Around 4.8 million jobs have been lost in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in February, as the conflict shut down businesses, strangled exports and drove millions to flee, the International Labour Organisation says.

The job losses, which account for around 30 per cent of Ukraine’s workforce before the invasion, could climb to 7 million if hostilities continue, the ILO said in a study, adding that 3.4 million jobs could return rapidly in the event of a ceasefire.

The war could also drive up unemployment in neighbouring countries hosting millions of refugees and hit Central Asian economies as migrant workers in Russia lose their jobs and return home.

Analysts say the war could force Ukraine’s economy to contract by at least one-third in 2022.

11:02 AM

Swedish parliament to hold Nato debate as decision day looms

Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats have called a parliamentary debate over Nato for Monday as the country moves towards the alliance in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of military non-alignment.

Sweden and neighboring Finland are both expected to opt to apply for Nato membership in the coming days after the invasion triggered a radical rethink of policy.

Firmly opposed to joining Nato for decades before the war, the Social Democrats are due to announce their decision on Sunday. Their support is seen as crucial for a Nato bid.

“There is great value in the government and the parliamentary parties discussing the major security policy changes that the Russian aggression brings with it,” Sweden’s government said in its filing for the debate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting Sweden and Finland this week to discuss the matter. Russia is closely watching what happens, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

10:51 AM

In pictures: Boris Johnson arrives in Sweden to discuss Nato membership

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Harpsund, the country retreat of Swedish premiers - Frank Augstein/PA Wire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Harpsund, the country retreat of Swedish premiers – Frank Augstein/PA Wire

The visit comes as Sweden and Finland consider whether to apply for Nato membership - Frank Augstein/PA Wire

The visit comes as Sweden and Finland consider whether to apply for Nato membership – Frank Augstein/PA Wire

10:42 AM

Lavrov says Russia does not want war in Europe

Moscow does not want war in Europe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, but admitted that Western countries are keen to see Russia defeated in Ukraine.

“If you are worried about the prospect of war in Europe – we do not want that at all,” Lavrov said at a news conference in Muscat after talks with his Omani counterpart.

“But I draw your attention to the fact that it is the West that is constantly and persistently saying that in this situation, it is necessary to defeat Russia. Draw your own conclusions.”

10:27 AM

Russia responsible for ‘humanitarian consequences’ as gas flow dries up

Russia must bear full responsibility for any humanitarian consequences after flows of Russian gas to Europe through a transit point in Ukraine dried up on Wednesday, the head of Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator said.

Ukraine said on Tuesday it would suspend the flow of gas through the Sokhranovka transit point which it said delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine.

It said the actions of Russian forces who invaded Ukraine on February 24 endangered the stability and safety of the entire Ukrainian gas transportation system and that it would move the flows elsewhere.

“The Russian authorities bear full responsible for the humanitarian consequences of such actions,” said Sergiy Makogon of the Gas Transmission System of Ukraine.

10:14 AM

Civilians and children killed as they attempt to evacuate Kharkiv

09:57 AM

Snake Island becomes new ‘battleground’

Snake Island has become the focus of a crucial, and vicious, battle between Ukraine and Russia as the victor will control an important corner of the Black Sea, the Ministry of Defence has said, reports James Kilner.

Over the past few weeks Russian forces have tried to reinforce Snake Island, which lies 22 miles off the western edge of Ukraine’s coast, with Wagner Group mercenaries but they have been bombed and strafed by the Ukrainian air force.

“If Russia consolidates its position on Zmiinyi Island with strategic air defence and coastal defence cruise missiles, they could dominate the north-western Black Sea,” the Ministry of Defence said.

Military tacticians have also said that control of Snake Island, or Zmiinyi Island, will give Russia a launch site for strikes behind the Ukrainian cities of Odesa and Mykolaiv.

Snake Island earned cult status at the start of the war when the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, ordered a small contingent of Ukrainian soldiers to surrender. The Ukrainian soldiers did eventually surrender but not before they had also told the Moskva to “Go f—k yourself”.

Seven weeks later, Ukrainian surface-to-sea missiles hit the Moskva and sank it.

“Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva,” the Ministry of Defence said.

The Russian military has said that it wants to capture the whole of Ukraine’s southern coastline to link up to Transnistria, the rebel region of Moldova. To do this, it first needs to capture Mykolaiv and then move on Odesa and for this mission Snake Island would be useful to launch naval strikes and even an amphibious landing.

But Ukrainian intelligence has released video of Ukrainian fighter jets and drones bombing helicopters and patrol boats on Snake Island, attacks that have been confirmed by the Wagner Group.

“In just a few days, according to conservative estimates, the enemy destroyed an Mi-8 (helicopter) with crew and special forces evacuation group, several Tor-M2 air defence systems, two high-speed ‘Raptor’ boats, inflicted missile and bomb attacks on deployment areas and destroyed a seaborne weapons convoy,” the Wagner Group said on its Telegram channel.

09:35 AM

Russia’s lashes out at US aid to Ukraine

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has accused the United States of waging a “proxy war” against Russia after the House of Representatives approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, and said the U.S. economy would suffer.

Writing on the messenger app Telegram, Mr Medvedev said that the bill approved by the House on Tuesday was a bid “to deal a serious defeat to our country and limit its economic development and political influence in the world.”

Mr Medvedev said: “It won’t work. The printing press by which America is constantly increasing its already inflated government debt will break faster.”

Mr Medvedev, who has served as deputy chairman of Russia’s security council since resigning as prime minister in January 2020, blamed “insane” prices for U.S. fuel and groceries on what he called America’s “Russophobic authorities”.

Also writing on Telegram, Russia’s State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin accused Washington of using the aid package to “indebt” Ukraine and of appropriating the country’s grain reserves in lieu of payment.

“Washington wants a Holodomor in Ukraine,” he wrote, referring to the man-made 1930s famine that killed millions of Ukrainians.

09:07 AM

Russians leave ‘deadly traps’ as they retreat from Kharkiv

Kharkiv is under heavy fire and “fierce battles” are ongoing in the region, governor Oleg Synegubov has said.

Mr Synegubov said Russian troops have left behind “deadly traps” in the region and he urged residents to stay in shelters, rather than “rush to liberated settlements”.

“The enemy is insidious and is doing everything to hurt as many civilian Ukrainians as possible,” he said on Telegram.

Due to successful offensive operations by Ukrainian troops, they have liberated several nearby towns from Russian forces, Mr Synegubov added.

“Thus, the enemy was driven even further from Kharkiv, and the occupiers had even less opportunity to fire on the regional centre,” he said.

08:48 AM

Workers maintain Zaporizhstal steel plant, in pictures

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russian troops 'pushed back from Kharkiv' - DIMITAR DILKOFF /AFP

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russian troops ‘pushed back from Kharkiv’ – DIMITAR DILKOFF /AFP

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russian troops 'pushed back from Kharkiv' - DIMITAR DILKOFF /AFP 

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russian troops ‘pushed back from Kharkiv’ – DIMITAR DILKOFF /AFP

08:25 AM

EU’s oil embargo proposal still unacceptable – Hungary

The European Union’s proposal on oil sanctions against Russia would destroy the Hungarian economy and does not offer a solution to the huge problems it would create for Hungary, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said.

Mr Szijjarto said in a video on his Facebook page that after talks conducted so far, the European Commission does not have a solution, so the only way to an agreement on an oil embargo would be if it applied to maritime oil shipments, and all shipments of Russian oil via pipelines would be fully exempted.

08:08 AM

German gas supply ‘currently still secure’

Germany’s gas supply is currently still secure, the economy ministry said, after flows of Russian gas to Europe through a key transit point in Ukraine dried.

“We are monitoring the situation closely. The gas crisis team and the pipeline network operators are also monitoring the situation,” it said.

“Supply in Germany is currently still secure,” it added

07:51 AM

Russian gas transit via Ukraine down to 72 mcm – Gazprom

Russian gas producer Gazprom said it continues shipping gas to Europe via Ukraine with volumes today seen at 72 million cubic metres (mcm), down from 95.8 mcm on Tuesday.

Gazprom did not say if that level was in line with requests from European clients.

Volumes have declined after nominations for Russian gas transit via Ukraine at the Sokhranovka entry point for May 11 fell to zero, data from Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator, following Kyiv’s warning of shutting down supplies via that route.

For more on Europe’s gas supplies, head over to our business blog with my colleague James Warrington here.

07:32 AM

Ukraine qualifies for Eurovision final

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra delivered an energetic performance of their song Stefania to qualify for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022.

The group members were dressed in elaborate outfits including two members in long multicoloured fringed ensembles and others in traditional patterns.

Their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, went down well with the audience as it cheered the group on and many Ukrainian flags were waved.

The Ukrainian act is the favourite to win currently, with bookmaker William Hill placing them at 8/13 odds, as the country continues to resist Russian forces.

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russian troops 'pushed back from Kharkiv' - MARCO BERTORELLO /AFP

Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russian troops ‘pushed back from Kharkiv’ – MARCO BERTORELLO /AFP

07:08 AM

Russia responsible for satellite hack causing chaos across Europe

Russia was behind a cyber attack which caused chaos across Europe hours before it invaded Ukraine, British officials have confirmed.

Kremlin cyber spies hacked a Viasat communication satellite intending to target the Ukrainian military but also knocking thousands of users offline including a wind farm in Germany.

The attack was the first digital salvo fired by Russia and triggered fears of an all-out online war.

You can read the full report from Gareth Corfield here.

06:50 AM

Requests for Russian gas transit via Ukraine at key route fall to zero

Nominations for Russian gas transit via Ukraine at the Sokhranovka entry point for May 11 declined to zero, data from Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator showed on Wednesday, following Kyiv’s warning of shutting down supplies through the route.

Ukraine said on Tuesday it would suspend the flow of gas through the transit point which it said 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.

The data also showed that requests for Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine at the Sudzha entry point stood at almost 72 million cubic metres for Wednesday.

06:28 AM

Russians ‘pushed back from Kharkiv’

Russian troops are being pushed away from Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

In his nightly address on Tuesday, Mr Zelensky said he had “good news” from the northeastern Kharkiv region.

“The occupiers are gradually being pushed away,” he said. “I am grateful to all our defenders who are holding the line and demonstrating truly superhuman strength to drive out the army of invaders.”

The head of the Kharkiv regional state administration Oleg Synegubov said on Telegram that “fierce battles” were ongoing in the region, and that the city itself was under heavy fire.

“Due to successful offensive operations, our defenders liberated Cherkasy Tyshky, Rusky Tyshky, Rubizhne and Bayrak from the invaders,” he said.

“Thus, the enemy was driven even further from Kharkiv, and the occupiers had even less opportunity to fire on the regional centre.”

06:13 AM

Pictured: The aftermath of a Russian rocket strike on an Odesa shopping mall

A dog stands at the site of a shopping centre destroyed by shelling in Odesa - REUTERS/Igor Tkachenko
 

A dog stands at the site of a shopping centre destroyed by shelling in Odesa – REUTERS/Igor Tkachenko


Aftermath of Russian rocket strike on Odesa shopping mall - Nina Liashonok/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Aftermath of Russian rocket strike on Odesa shopping mall – Nina Liashonok/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Future Publishing  - Future Publishing 

Future Publishing – Future Publishing

05:58 AM

Latest update from the UK Ministry of Defence

05:46 AM

Fighting continues on Snake Island

Fighting between Russia and Ukrainian forces has continued on Snake Island, with Russia repeatedly trying to reinforce its exposed troops.

“If Russia consolidates its position on Zmiinyi Island with strategic air defence and coastal defence cruise missiles, they could dominate the north-western Black Sea,” the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin, referring to Snake Island’s other name.

Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva, the tweet said.

05:24 AM

Ukraine is facing agricultural collapse, says WFP boss

Ukraine is facing agricultural collapse unless its ports in Odesa open soon, said David Beasley, the Executive Director for the UN World Food Programme.

Echoing comments by President Zelensky, Mr Beasley said the country was in a desperate situation that had dire consequences for the rest of the world.

On Monday Russia struck Odesa with missiles, forcing all port operations to stop, said Mr Zelensky.

“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 Two,” he said.

Mr Beasley the consequences of having no functioning port will be twofold.

“First, we’re going to have agricultural collapse across #Ukraine. Second, famines will be looming all over the world. Food needs to move, ports must reopen and this needs to happen NOW,” he tweeted.

04:39 AM

Biden sees bigger role for US farms due to Ukraine war

President Joe Biden wants to put a spotlight on the spike in food prices from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when he travels to an Illinois farm to emphasise how US agricultural exports can relieve the financial pressures being felt worldwide.

The war in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of that country’s wheat to global markets, while also triggering higher costs for oil, natural gas and fertiliser. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said its food price index in April jumped nearly 30 per cent from a year ago, though the index did decline slightly on a monthly basis. Americans are also bearing some pain as food prices are up 8.8 per cent from a year ago, the most since May 1981.

The trip to Illinois on Wednesday is an opportunity for Mr Biden to tackle two distinct challenges that are shaping his presidency. First, his approval has been dogged by high inflation and his visit will coincide with the release of the May consumer price index, which economists say should show a declining rate of inflation for the first time since August.

03:35 AM

Russia behind huge cyberattack, claims West

Russia was behind a massive cyberattack against a satellite internet network that took tens of thousands of modems offline at the onset of Russia-Ukraine war, the United States, Britain, Canada, Estonia and the European Union said on Tuesday.

The digital assault against Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took place just as Russian armour pushed into Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the cyberattack was intended “to disrupt Ukrainian command and control during the invasion, and those actions had spillover impacts into other European countries”.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the satellite internet hack “deliberate and malicious” and the Council of the EU said it caused “indiscriminate communication outages” in Ukraine and several EU member states.

03:15 AM

US takes first step to approve $40 bn in Ukraine aid

US lawmakers voted on Tuesday to send a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine as Washington warned that Russia was likely girding for a long conflict with its neighbor.

The defense, humanitarian and economic funding passed the House of Representatives by 368 votes to 57, with the two parties’ leaders having already reached an agreement on the details, and it will likely pass the Senate by the end of the week or next week.

All the dissenting votes came from the Republican ranks.

“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 Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues ahead of the vote.

02:39 AM

Pussy Riot band leader flees Moscow disguised as food courier

The leader of the Russian activist band Pussy Riot managed to flee Moscow disguised as a food courier to evade time in a penal colony after criticising Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Maria Alyokhina, a longtime critic of the Russian president, was under effective house arrest for her political activism and was set to spend 21 days in a penal colony when she made her escape.

She managed to evade the Moscow police who were monitoring her movements by disguising herself as a food courier, she told the New York Times.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot attends 2015 WhiteBox Arts and Humanities Award honoring the Pussy Riot at ArtNet Headquarters on December 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)  - Noam Galai/Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 16: Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot attends 2015 WhiteBox Arts and Humanities Award honoring the Pussy Riot at ArtNet Headquarters on December 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images) – Noam Galai/Getty Images

02:15 AM

Ukrainian troops recapture Kharkiv settlements

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

The settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova and Slobozhanske, in a pocket north of Kharkiv in recent days, had fallen back into Ukrainian control, according to a spokesperson for the main Ukrainian force near Kharkiv.

Kharkiv lies 13 miles from the border with Russia and has been the focus of some of the fiercest fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. It is famed across Russia for its university, established in 1804 under Russian Tsar Alexander I.

12:58 AM

Russian-held American in Ukraine being evacuated

A US citizen in Ukraine who had been accused of espionage and held by Russian forces was being evacuated to Poland with two family members after his release was secured by a private volunteer group from Florida, the group said on Tuesday.

Kirillo Alexandrov, 27, along with his Ukrainian wife and her mother, is the latest of over 600 people freed in dozens of such missions since February, according to Project Dynamo, a Tampa-based group first formed to rescue Americans and others from Afghanistan last year.

Mr Alexandrov, a native of Michigan who had moved to Ukraine, was arrested with his spouse and mother-in-law in late March outside the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as they were trying to flee the region following its occupation by Russian troops, Project Dynamo said.

10:46 PM

Today’s top stories

  • Vladimir Putin is counting on a weakening of the West’s resolve as the cost of living crisis bites while he pursues a protracted war in Ukraine, Washington’s top spy chief warned

  • Vladimir Putin is more dangerous than Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin, the Polish prime minister has warned as he called for the eradication of the Russian leader’s “monstrous ideology”

  • The Russian military’s failure to seize the Ukrainian capital was inevitable because in the preceding years they had never directly faced a powerful enemy, according to a former mercenary with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group

  • Children of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the besieged steelworks in Mariupol have begged for their fathers to be allowed to live, just as Russia intensifies its bombardment of the stronghold

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