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Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine foreign minister says Moscow ‘senses defeat’; US set to host talks in Germany on arming Kyiv – live | Ukraine

Russia losing ‘last hope’ to scare world away from Ukraine, Ukrainian foreign minister says

A suggestion by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that the world is at risk of descending into a third world war only means that Moscow “senses defeat in Ukraine,” his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba has said.

Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security, the foreign minister said in a tweet.

Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 25, 2022

Lavrov had warned the west on Monday not to underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine and said he viewed Nato as being “in essence” engaged in a proxy war with Russia by supplying Kyiv with weaponry, in an interview broadcast on state television.

Lavrov was asked about the importance of avoiding World War Three and whether the current situation was comparable to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, a low point in U.S-Soviet relations, according to Reuters.

Russia, Lavrov said, was doing a lot to uphold the principle of striving to prevent nuclear war at all costs.

This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable. I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it.

Lavrov, defending Moscow’s actions, also blamed Washington for a lack of dialogue.

“The United States has practically ceased all contacts simply because we were obliged to defend Russians in Ukraine,” Lavrov said, repeating the rationale for Moscow’s invasion of its southern neighbour.

But he said Western supplies of sophisticated weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, armoured vehicles and advanced drones were provocative measures calculated to prolong the conflict rather than bring it to an end.

These weapons will be a legitimate target for Russia’s military acting within the context of the special operation. Storage facilities in western Ukraine have been targeted more than once (by Russian forces). How can it be otherwise?” he added. “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war.”

He said that Kyiv authorities were not negotiating in good faith and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a former actor, was like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in playing to the public rather than addressing the task at hand – negotiations.

“They are similar in a way in their ability to play to the gallery. For example, they imitate negotiations,” Lavrov said.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Photograph: Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry/EPA

The governor of Luhansk Oblast, Sergey Gaidai, has appealed again for people in the area to flee when they get the opportunity. He posted to Telegram within the last hour, repeating his frequent message:

I understand that it is difficult to evacuate those who have never been outside Luhansk region – but leave, in other regions of Ukraine there is life, life in safety.

He said that five locations – Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Rubizhne, Popasna, Gorskoye – would attempt evacuations today. He gave some unverified details of attacks yesterday on evacuation efforts, telling his Telegram followers:

Yesterday the border guards did not wait for the bus – the transport was fired upon by the Russians. People wanted to escape, but the enemy thought otherwise. Every day we try to get to every meeting place, as we do today. I understand that it is difficult to evacuate those who have never been outside Luhansk region. There are thousands of such people, including in cities. But leave, in other regions of Ukraine there is life, life in safety. Buses are already on the way. Evacuation is free.

UK minister: Russia seizing territory in the Donbas not ‘inevitable’

In the UK, the armed forces minister, James Heappey has been interviewed on Sky News. He said that Russian seizing territory in the Donbas was not inevitable.

He pointed out that fighters in Mariupol continued to hold out against Russian forces despite suggestions the city would completely fall, but said the situation across eastern Ukraine would be different.

I think that what we will see in the Donbas is a very different type of conflict to the one that we saw around Kyiv. I think we’ll see a conflict between two forces that are much more evenly balanced, where the Ukrainians have the advantage of defensive positions that have been dug in and prepared over the last eight years, and that’s going to make it an extraordinarily difficult nut for the Russians to crack. And I think that with all of the support that the Ukrainians are getting from around the world, there’s every chance the Ukrainians can see them off.

On the high reported number of Russian casualties claimed by the Ukrainian armed forces, Heappey said:

Nobody should rejoice that that’s 15,000 Russian families who haven’t got their son or husband or brother coming home.

He said that one of the problems Russia had faced in their mission in Ukraine was political interference in the military planning. He said

People in Russia should be clear the Russian plan has been defined by incredible hubris, massive political interference in military plan making, and we’re seeing exactly the same now where there is pressure from Moscow to deliver a victory by the ninth of May so that Putin can have a nice parade through Red Square, even though that makes no military sense.

On the suggestion by Sergei Lavrov that the world is at risk of descending into a third world war and that the conflict is already actively between Russia and Nato, he said:

Firstly, the donor community is not Nato. Nato has been involved in reinforcing its eastern flank so a lot of the deployments of our troops ships and aircraft to Eastern Europe are very much under the Nato flag. The donor effort is something that has been brought together by countries that are from yes, many of them are from Nato, but others are from beyond.

Heappey also said that, with the arming of Ukraine, “Russia only has itself to blame”. He went on to say:

Every time we have gone up a gear in terms of what we are providing, it is a direct consequence of the way that Russia has conducted its operations in Ukraine.

Addressing Lavrov’s point directly, the minister said:

Sergey Lavrov might also reflect that the reason that there is a war in Ukraine right now is because Russia rolled over the borders of a sovereign country and started to invade their territory.

Nato is not an expansionist offensive Alliance. Nato is a defensive alliance. And all of this noise from Moscow about somehow their their attack on Ukraine being a response to Nato aggression is just utter, utter nonsense.

The towns around Kyiv are slowly picking up the pieces after Russian forces withdrew from the area earlier this month. Some images from around the region:

A tow truck removes a heavily damaged car in Ozera.
A tow truck removes a heavily damaged car in Ozera. Photograph: Alexey Furman/Getty Images
People pose for a picture in front of the debris of Russian military machinery in the village of Rusaniv.
People pose for a picture in front of the debris of Russian military machinery in the village of Rusaniv. Photograph: Reuters
A truck passes a destroyed Russian tank in Rusaniv.
A truck passes a destroyed Russian tank in Rusaniv. Photograph: Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA
People remove rubble outside the Cheshskyi Dvir (Czech Court) housing estate in Hostomel.
People remove rubble outside the Cheshskyi Dvir (Czech Court) housing estate in Hostomel. Photograph: Ukrinform/REX/Shutterstock
Inna, 53, smokes inside her burnt house in Ozera.
Inna, 53, smokes inside her burnt house in Ozera. Photograph: Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Ukraine’s postal service says it plans to issue a new stamp to honour the Antonov-225 Mriya (Mriya means “dream” in Ukrainian), which was the world’s largest cargo plane before it was destroyed in an attack on Hostomel airport near Kyiv just after Russia launched its invasion.

The stamp was designed by 11-year-old Sofia Kravchuk, who took part in a competition before the war in which children were asked “What is Ukraine for me?”, Ukrposhta said in a post on its Telegram channel.

Ukrposhta plans to soon issue a postmark called “the Ukrainian dream (mriya),” dedicated to Mriya, the world’s largest airplane destroyed by the Russians

This illustration was created before the war by an 11-year old Sophia Kravchuk from the Volyn oblast pic.twitter.com/2MdVcaceTk

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) April 26, 2022

Two weeks ago, Ukrainians began queuing up to buy the postal service’s latest stamp, showing a Ukrainian soldier giving the finger to the Russian Black Sea cruiser the Moskva.

The stamp was inspired by Roman Hrybov, who infamously told the flagship “Russian warship, go fuck yourself!” when its crew asked him and his fellow border guards on Snake Island, south of the port of Odesa, to surrender in the early hours of the Russian invasion. The phrase has since gone global.

Ukrainians queue to buy stamps commemorating the Snake Island incident outside the main post office in Kyiv.
Ukrainians queue to buy stamps commemorating the Snake Island incident outside the main post office in Kyiv. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Russian forces are likely attempting to encircle heavily fortified Ukrainian positions in eastern Ukraine, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update.

The city of Kreminna in the Luhansk region, has reportedly fallen, it said, and heavy fighting was being reported south of Izium, in the province of Kharkiv, as Russian forces attempted to advance towards the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east.

Ukrainian forces were preparing defences in Zaporizhzhia, in south-eastern Ukraine, in preparation for a potential Russian attack from the south, the ministry said.

In case you missed it, the Guardian’s Isobel Koshiw filed this report on Monday on how Zaporizhzhia is preparing for a Russian advance:

US-hosted talks on arming Ukraine set to begin in Germany

Officials from more than 40 countries are set to gather at Germany’s Ramstein airbase on Tuesday, for US-hosted talks expected to focus on how to arm Kyiv against a Russian onslaught in eastern Ukraine.

The gathering will be led by US defense secretary Lloyd Austin following his meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday.

US army general Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him that a key goal of the talks was to synchronize and coordinate mounting security assistance to Kyiv that includes heavy weaponry, like howitzer artillery, as well armed drones and ammunition, according to Reuters.

The next several weeks will be very, very critical. They need continued support in order to be successful on the battlefield. And that’s really the purpose of this conference.”

Driven back by Ukrainian forces from a failed assault on Kyiv in the north, Moscow has redeployed its troops into the east for a ground offensive in two provinces known as the Donbas.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, assess that Russia will rely heavily on artillery strikes, trying to pound Ukrainian positions as Moscow moves in ground forces from multiple directions to try to envelop and wipe out a significant chunk of Ukraine’s military.

Airmen and civilians from the 436th Aerial Port Squadron palletize ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine during a foreign military sales mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.
Airmen and civilians from the 436th Aerial Port Squadron palletize ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine during a foreign military sales mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Photograph: Mauricio Campino/AP

But the United States also estimates many Russian units are depleted, with some operating with personnel losses as high as 30% – a level considered by the US military to be too high to keep fighting, officials say.

US officials cite anecdotes like Russian tanks with sole drivers and no crew and substandard equipment that is either prone to breakdowns or out of date.

British assessments showed that around 15,000 Russian personnel had been killed in the conflict while 2,000 armoured vehicles including some 530 tanks had been destroyed, along with 60 helicopters and fighter jets, defence secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday.

Russia has so far acknowledged only 1,351 troops killed and 3,825 wounded.

Russia losing ‘last hope’ to scare world away from Ukraine, Ukrainian foreign minister says

A suggestion by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that the world is at risk of descending into a third world war only means that Moscow “senses defeat in Ukraine,” his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba has said.

Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security, the foreign minister said in a tweet.

Russia loses last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine. Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine. Therefore, the world must double down on supporting Ukraine so that we prevail and safeguard European and global security.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 25, 2022

Lavrov had warned the west on Monday not to underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine and said he viewed Nato as being “in essence” engaged in a proxy war with Russia by supplying Kyiv with weaponry, in an interview broadcast on state television.

Lavrov was asked about the importance of avoiding World War Three and whether the current situation was comparable to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, a low point in U.S-Soviet relations, according to Reuters.

Russia, Lavrov said, was doing a lot to uphold the principle of striving to prevent nuclear war at all costs.

This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable. I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it.

Lavrov, defending Moscow’s actions, also blamed Washington for a lack of dialogue.

“The United States has practically ceased all contacts simply because we were obliged to defend Russians in Ukraine,” Lavrov said, repeating the rationale for Moscow’s invasion of its southern neighbour.

But he said Western supplies of sophisticated weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, armoured vehicles and advanced drones were provocative measures calculated to prolong the conflict rather than bring it to an end.

These weapons will be a legitimate target for Russia’s military acting within the context of the special operation. Storage facilities in western Ukraine have been targeted more than once (by Russian forces). How can it be otherwise?” he added. “NATO, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war.”

He said that Kyiv authorities were not negotiating in good faith and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a former actor, was like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in playing to the public rather than addressing the task at hand – negotiations.

“They are similar in a way in their ability to play to the gallery. For example, they imitate negotiations,” Lavrov said.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Photograph: Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry/EPA

Summary

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine with me, Helen Livingstone.

Here’s a roundup of the latest developments:

  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said that deliveries of western weaponry to Ukraine mean that the Nato alliance is “in essence engaged in war with Russia”. In interviews with Russian media, he also warned that there remains a “real” danger of a third world war. Ukrainian foreign minister Dymtro Kuleba said the comments meant only that Moscow “senses defeat in Ukraine”.
  • Officials from more than 40 countries are set to gather at Germany’s Ramstein airbase on Tuesday, for US-hosted talks expected to focus on how to arm Kyiv against a Russian onslaught in eastern Ukraine. US army general Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said a key goal of the talks was to synchronise and coordinate mounting security assistance to Kyiv that includes heavy weaponry.
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister has urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to press Russia for an evacuation of the besieged port of Mariupol when he visits Moscow on Tuesday. In an interview with AP, Dymtro Kuleba also said he was concerned that by visiting Moscow before travelling to Kyiv, Guterres could be falling into a Kremlin “trap” and be “played around”.
  • About 15,000 Russian troops have been killed since start of the invasion, the UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace has said. Speaking in parliament on Monday afternoon, he added that alongside the death toll, 2,000 armoured vehicles had been destroyed or captured, including 530 tanks. Russia is believed to have lost more than 60 helicopters and fighter jets.
  • Wallace also confirmed that the UK will send a small number of Stormer missile launching vehicles to Ukraine, and that the overall amount of military aid could rise to £500m. The UK has sent 5,361 NLAWs, 200 Javelins and will provide 250 Starstreak anti-air missiles.
  • Russia’s foreign ministry said it had expelled 40 German diplomatic staff in a retaliatory move after Berlin expelled the same number of Russian diplomats. In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said it had taken the decision after Germany declared a “significant number” of officials at the Russian embassy in Berlin “undesirable” on 4 April.
  • A senior Russian diplomat has been quoted as saying that a ceasefire in Ukraine would not be “a good option” as Kyiv may use it to “stage provocations”. Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the UN, said: “Ukraine is undermining our efforts to open humanitarian corridors so we don’t think a ceasefire is a good option now.”
  • The Ukrainian Defence Ministry said the shelling of a government building in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria was a “planned provocation” by Russia. “Obviously, this case is one of a number of provocative measures organized by the FSB [the Russian security service] to instill panic and anti-Ukrainian sentiment,” the ministry’s defense intelligence department said, according to CNN.
  • Sweden and Finland have agreed to submit simultaneous membership applications to the US-led Nato alliance as early as the middle of next month, Nordic media reports. The story was broken by Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, and Swedish government sources appeared to confirm the news to domestic media in the country.
  • The US has launched a new web portal which will allow a US-based sponsor to apply for Ukrainian refugees and their immediate family members to stay in the US for up to two years.

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