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Ukraine latest news: Russia forced to redeploy units in battle for east, says UK, after reports of ‘colossal losses’ – live


Russia forced to merge and redeploy units from north-east, UK MoD says

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

The British military intelligence report, released early this morning, 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 co-ordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements.”

On Friday, Ukraine claimed Russia had suffered “colossal” losses in the eastern fighting, but admitted it too had lost a significant number of troops.

Parts of an oil terminal and adjacent territory in Russia’s Bryansk region have been hit by shells on Saturday, according to reports in Russian state media, which cited the region’s governor.

The incident happened after Moscow’s air defences prevented a Ukrainian aircraft from entering the region, according to RIA news agency. Bryansk is less than 100 miles from the border with Ukraine.

“There are no victims,” RIA reported, citing the governor, Alexander Bogomaz, as saying. He added that a logistics building at the terminal was damaged.

Earlier this week, large fires broke out at two oil depots in the city of Bryansk, which serves as a logistics base for Moscow’s war in Ukraine. Military analyst Rob Lee said that the fire was “probably” a result of Ukrainian sabotage, according to the footage.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said his country will soon eradicate fuel shortages, despite Russian attacks on oil depots.

This week, Russia hit Ukraine’s main fuel producer, the Kremenchuk oil refinery, alongside others. In his nightly video, Zelenskiy said:

Queues and rising prices at gas stations are seen in many regions of our country. The occupiers are deliberately destroying the infrastructure for the production, supply and storage of fuel.

Russia has also blocked our ports, so there are no immediate solutions to replenish the deficit.”

But he said that government officials promise that “within a week, maximum two” a system will be in place to prevent fuel shortages.

I’m Clea Skopeliti and I’ll be bringing you the latest developments from the war in Ukraine for the next few hours. The time in Ukraine is 10:15am.

Russian forces have stolen “several hundred thousand tonnes” of grain in the areas of Ukraine they occupy, Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister said on Saturday.

Speaking to Ukrainian national TV, Reuters reports Taras Vysotskiy expressed concern that most of what he said was 1.5m tonnes of grain stored in occupied territory could also be stolen by Russian forces.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry earlier accused Russia on Thursday of stealing grain in territory it has occupied, an act it said increased the threat to global food security.

Nato interfering with political settlement in Ukraine, Russia claims

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has had some stern words to say about the west’s involvement in Ukraine in a rare interview with China’s official Xinhua news agency.

The transcript from the interview was published on the Russian foreign ministry’s website early Saturday morning.

Among a string of assertions, the foreign minister accused the United States and Nato countries of using Ukraine as “one of the tools to contain Russia” while maintaining that prior to Russia’s invasion on 24 February they were “forcing Kyiv to make an artificial, false choice: either with the West or with Moscow.”

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.”

It was these conditions that gave Russia “no other choice” but to recognise the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and launch a “special military operation” to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine, Lavrov continued.

Nato is interfering with political settlement in Ukraine, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov claims.
Nato is interfering with political settlement in Ukraine, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov claims. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/AP

In fact, Nato countries are “doing everything to prevent” a negotiated cease fire with Ukraine, Lavrov maintained.

By publicly expressing support for the Kyiv regime, Nato countries are doing everything to prevent the completion of the operation by reaching political agreements.

Various weapons are sent to Ukraine through Poland and other Nato countries in an endless stream.

All this is done under the pretext of ‘fighting the invasion’, but, in fact, the US and the EU intend to fight Russia ‘to the last Ukrainian’, and they are absolutely indifferent to the fate of Ukraine as an independent subject of international relations.”

If the US and Nato are really interested in resolving the Ukrainian crisis, then, firstly, they should change their minds and stop supplying arms and ammunition to Kyiv, Lavrov said, adding that Russia is “in favour” of continuing the negotiations, although “they are not going well”.

These are militant rhetoric and inflammatory actions of Kyiv’s Western backers. They actually encourage him to ‘fight to the last Ukrainian’, pumping up the country with weapons and sending mercenaries there. I note that the Ukrainian special services, with the help of Westerners, staged a crude bloody provocation in Bucha, including to complicate the negotiation process.”

Lavrov said it would only be possible to reach agreements when Kyiv begins to be guided by the interests of the Ukrainian people, and not “advisers from afar”.

The “special military operation” launched on 24 February is “developing strictly according to plan” and all its goals “will be surely achieved, despite the opposition of our opponents,” the foreign minister concluded.

More than 1 million people have been “evacuated from Ukraine” into Russia since 24 February, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed in remarks published by the ministry early on Saturday.

Lavrov claimed the hotline of Russia’s interdepartmental coordination headquarters for humanitarian response received requests for assistance in evacuating 2.8 million people to Russia, of which 16,000 were foreign citizens and employees of UN and OSCE international missions.

A young girl looks out from a bus in Zaporizhzhia.
A young girl looks out from a bus in Zaporizhzhia. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

“In total, 1.02 million people were evacuated from Ukraine, the DPR and the LPR, of which over 120 thousand citizens of third countries,” the foreign minister said in comments made to China’s Xinhua news agency.

Ukraine has said that Moscow has forcefully deported thousands of people to Russia with humanitarian corridors repeatedly breaking down.

According to data from the United Nations, more than 5.4 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

Families from Russian occupied territories in the Zaporizhzhia region arrive in a humanitarian convoy at a registration and processing centre for internally displaced people in Zaporizhzhia.
Families from Russian occupied territories in the Zaporizhzhia region arrive in a humanitarian convoy at a registration and processing centre for internally displaced people in Zaporizhzhia. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s Kyiv attack ‘deliberate and brutal humiliation’ of UN without powerful response, Zelenskiy says

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has described Russian missile attacks on Kyiv during UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ visit as a “deliberate and brutal humiliation” that was “left without a powerful response”.

The dismantlement of debris in Kyiv, where Russian missiles hit on Thursday continues, he said in his latest national address late on Friday.

Unfortunately, such a deliberate and brutal humiliation of the United Nations by Russia was left without a powerful response.”

Zelenskiy continued to provide an operational update as to Russia’s advances, describing the city of Mariupol as a “Russian concentration camp in the middle of ruins”.

The city, which was one of the most developed in the region, is simply a Russian concentration camp in the middle of ruins. And the order of the occupiers in that part of Mariupol which they unfortunately still control differs insignificantly from what the Nazis did in the occupied territory of Eastern Europe.

But the Russian troops manage to be even more cynical than the Nazis 80 years ago. At that time, the invaders did not say that it was the Mariupol residents and the defenders of the city who shelled and killed themselves.”

The situation in the Kharkiv region is tough. But our military, our intelligence, have important tactical success.

In Donbas, the occupiers are doing everything to destroy any life in this area. Constant brutal bombings, constant Russian strikes at infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to make this area uninhabited. “

Describing the situation in the temporarily occupied areas of the Kherson region, Zelenskiy said Russian forces are allegedly preparing for the transition to the “ruble zone”.

“Any attempt to transfer our territory to Russia’s administrative, monetary, or any other system will mean only one thing: Russia itself will suffer from that,” he said. “Our responses, sanctions and other reactions of the free world to Russia’s aggressive actions will not be delayed.”

US condemns Putin’s ‘cruelty and depravity’

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby earlier condemned Russian president’s “cruelty and depravity” in Ukraine, calling his actions “unconscionable” and his justifications for the invasion “BS”.

It’s hard to square his … BS that this is about nazism in Ukraine, and it’s about protecting Russians in Ukraine, and it’s about defending Russian national interests, when none of them, none of them were threatened by Ukraine,” Kirby said.

It’s brutality of the coldest and the most depraved sort.”

Kirby called Putin’s justifications for the invasion – that he is protecting Russians and that Ukraine was a font of Nazism – “BS”, in an emotional press briefing.

It’s hard to square that rhetoric by what he’s actually doing inside Ukraine to innocent people, shot in the back of the head, hands tied behind their backs, pregnant women being killed, hospitals being bombed,” Kirby said.

I mean, it’s just unconscionable and I don’t have the mental capacity to understand how you connect those two things.”

Before the war, Kirby said, “I don’t think we fully appreciated the degree to which (Putin) would visit that kind of violence and cruelty and depravity on innocent people, on non-combatants, on civilians, with such utter disregard for the lives he was taking.”

He then apologised for the rare show of emotion.

“I don’t want to make this about me. But I’ve been around the military a long, long time, and I’ve known friends who didn’t make it back. It’s just hard,” Kirby said.

Kirby lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “depravity” in Ukraine, questioning how any moral person could defend bombing hospitals and summary executions of innocent people.

It’s hard to look at what he’s doing in Ukraine, what his forces are doing in Ukraine, and think that any ethical, moral individual could justify that.

I can’t talk to his psychology. But I think we can all speak to his depravity.”

Kirby also hit back at Putin’s justifications for war.

It’s hard to square his … BS that this is about Nazism in Ukraine, and it’s about protecting Russians in Ukraine, and it’s about defending Russian national interests, when none of them, none of them were threatened by Ukraine.

It’s brutality of the coldest and the most depraved sort.

Russia forced to merge and redeploy units from north-east, UK MoD says

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

The British military intelligence report, released early this morning, 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 co-ordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements.”

On Friday, Ukraine claimed Russia had suffered “colossal” losses in the eastern fighting, but admitted it too had lost a significant number of troops.

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 in London takes the reins a little later in the day.

It is nearing 9am in Ukraine. Here’s everything you might have missed:

  • Lifting sanctions imposed on Russia is part of peace negotiations between Moscow and Ukraine, which are “not going well” but continue via videoconferencing on a daily basis, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov Lavrov said in an interview with China’s official Xinhua news agency. “The agenda of the talks also includes issues of denazification, recognition of new geopolitical realities, the lifting of sanctions, the status of the Russian language, and others,” he said. “We are in favour of continuing the negotiations, although they are not going well,” Lavrov added.
  • Any foreign weapons shipment to Ukraine is a “legitimate target” for Russia, its foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said in an interview with Al Arabiya television channel, as cited by RIA Novosti. “Because those weapons are to be handed to the regime that is waging a war against its own population, against civilians in the country’s east,” Lavrov said.
  • The sooner the west comes to terms with “new geopolitical realities” the better it will be for itself and the international community, Lavrov warned. “Our special military operation in Ukraine also contributes to the process of freeing the world from the neo-colonial oppression of the west, heavily mixed with racism and an exclusiveness complex,” he said.
  • Russia has claimed Nato is trying to interfere with reaching political settlement to end the crisis in Ukraine. “By publicly expressing support for the Kyiv regime, Nato countries are doing everything to prevent the completion of the operation by reaching political agreements,” Lavrov told Xinhua news agency. “If the US and Nato are really interested in resolving the Ukrainian crisis, then, firstly, they should change their minds and stop supplying arms and ammunition to Kyiv.”
  • Ukraine has claimed “colossal” Russian losses have taken place in the effort to fully capture the eastern Donbas region. While acknowledging its own heavy losses from Russia’s attacks in the east, Kyiv said casualties in the invading army were worse. “We have serious losses, but the Russians’ losses are much much bigger … They have colossal losses,” said a Ukrainian presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych.
  • The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, has spoken of Vladimir Putin’s “cruelty and depravity” in Ukraine, calling his actions “unconscionable” and his justifications for the invasion “BS”. “It’s hard to square his … BS that this is about nazism in Ukraine, and it’s about protecting Russians in Ukraine, and it’s about defending Russian national interests, when none of them, none of them were threatened by Ukraine,” Kirby said. “It’s brutality of the coldest and the most depraved sort.”
  • European Union countries are likely to approve a phased embargo on Russian oil as early as next week, according to EU officials. European ambassadors are reportedly expected to agree to a finalised proposal by the end of next week after meeting on Wednesday, according to several EU officials and diplomats involved in the process.
  • The US did not believe the threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite a recent escalation in Moscow’s rhetoric, a senior US defence official said. Russia was days behind its schedule on its military operations in Ukraine’s Donbas region, a US defence official said, and Russia’s fighting with Ukraine in the Donbas region would be a potential “knife fight”.
  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, described a Russian airstrike on Kyiv during a visit by the UN secretary general, António Guterres as a “deliberate and brutal humiliation” that was “left without a powerful response”.
  • The situation inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol was “beyond a humanitarian catastrophe”, a Ukrainian commander inside the facility said. Serhiy Volyna, from the 36th separate marine brigade, said there were hundreds of people in the steelworks, including 60 young people, the youngest of them four months old. Ukraine hoped to evacuate civilians holed up in the steel plant with the last fighters defending the southern city, Zelenskiy’s office said. The president described the besieged city as a “Russian concentration camp in the middle of ruins”.
  • Two British aid workers who were reportedly captured by Russian forces in Ukraine have been named. Presidium Network, a UK-based NGO that says it carries out evacuations of families and individuals from war zones, identified Paul Urey and Dylan Healy as the captured men. The UK Foreign Office said it was seeking further information about the claims of their capture.
  • A former US marine has been killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, the first US citizen known to have died in combat in the war with Russia. Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was killed on Monday while working for a military contracting company that sent him to Ukraine, his mother told CNN. The US defence department warned US citizens that they should not go to Ukraine to fight.
  • More than 1 million people have been “evacuated from Ukraine” into Russia since 24 February, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed in remarks published by the ministry early on Saturday. Ukraine has said that Moscow has forcefully deported thousands of people to Russia with humanitarian corridors repeatedly breaking down.
  • The US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said it would vote to pass Joe Biden’s $33bn request for aid for Ukraine “as soon as possible”. Speaking at her weekly press briefing on Friday morning, the House speaker framed the administration’s request as one of a number of “emergencies” Congress needed to address urgently.
  • Shipments of new US military aid are en route to Ukraine with 155mm shells, fuses and helmets bound for Ukraine loaded on aircraft pallets on a C-17 cargo aircraft on Friday at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.
  • Britain will send investigators to Ukraine to help gather evidence of war crimes, including sexual violence, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has said. Ukrainian prosecutors and the international criminal court have been investigating potential war crimes in Ukraine since Russia’s 24 February invasion.
  • The US has begun training Ukrainian armed forces at sites located outside Ukraine. A Pentagon spokesperson said it was happening at three sites outside the US, including one in Germany.
  • Putin could announce the mass mobilisation of Russians on 9 May, Ben Wallace, the UK defence secretary, has said. Wallace said that Putin could declare that “we are now at war with the world’s nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people”.
  • Zelenskiy has said that since Russia’s withdrawal from Kyiv, 900 bodies had been uncovered in mass graves. The Guardian’s Lorenzo Tondo confirmed with the deputy head prosecutor of Kyiv’s region that 900 bodies had been found so far, buried in several mass graves around the region.
  • In his latest address, Zelenskiy thanked the US for its support via a revived second world war-era lend-lease programme. He also thanked countries that have resumed diplomatic operations in Kyiv, saying: “Such gestures, together with strong defensive, financial and political support from the free world, mean that the need to end the war is becoming more and more obvious to Russia.”
  • The United States has rejected the possibility of “business as usual” with Putin, after after Indonesia invited him to the upcoming Group of 20 summit in November.
A man walks past a destroyed building in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, on Friday.
A man walks past a destroyed building in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, on Friday. Photograph: Alexei Alexandrov/AP





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