Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | Russia’s Gazprom halts gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria

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Russian forces hit key bridge linking Odesa to Romania, Ukrainian officials said.

“We are removing the bronze sculpture of two workers installed in the centre of the capital in 1982 ‘to commemorate the reunification of Ukraine with Russia’,” Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement.

Ukraine’s state-run atomic energy company Energoatom said that Russian missiles flew at low altitude over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine on Tuesday. It warned that the Russian invasion could lead to “nuclear catastrophe”.

British armed forces Minister James Heappey said Russia is making “unsound” military decisions because of President Vladimir Putin wishes for a victory in Ukraine by May 9, when Russia marks its victory in World War II.

U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin kicked off defense talks with more than 40 countries at the Ramstein airbase on Tuesday by expressing confidence that Ukraine can win against Russia in the ongoing conflict.

Here are the latest updates:


Russia’s Gazprom halts gas supplies to Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Poland’s PGNiG

Russian energy company company Gazprom informed on Wednesday that it would halt gas supplies to Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz and Poland’s PGNiG “due to their failure to pay in rubles.

President Vladimir Putin had issued a decree calling for all payments from foreign buyers to be facilitated in rubles from April 1. He had added that defaults would result in suspension of contracts. This was a move seen to boost the domestic currency’s upkeep especially after it was subjected to multiple economic and financial sanctions from the West.

President of the European Commission Ursula von Der Leyen said the Russian energy provider’s move to unilaterally stop delivery of gas to the two countries was “unjustified and unacceptable”. “(Gazprom halting the supply of gas to Bulgaria and Poland) is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” her official statement read. The EU President added that a meeting of the gas coordination group is taking place right now to map a coordinated EU response.


Several villages in the east captured by Russian forces: Ukrainian Defence Ministry

Russian forces have pushed deep into east Ukraine and captured several villages, as part of Moscow’s offensive to take control of Donbas, Kyiv’s Defence Ministry said. – AFP


16,000 Ukrainians missing since the beginning of war: Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights

Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova informed on Tuesday that since the beginning of the war more than 16,000 Ukrainian have been missing, including 2,000 military personnel. She added the Russian occupation forcibly relocated more than 900 Ukrainian orphans to the Russian Federation. Further, she informed that Russian troops have raped more than 400 Ukrainian women and children since the beginning of the war.

Separately, the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission’s Office in Ukraine had informed that Russia’s armed attack killed 2,729 civilians including 201 children whilst 3,111 sustained injuries inclusive of 299 children, mostly caused by shelling and strikes. As per the commission, the actual toll could be much higher.


UN chief and Russian President agree on key Ukraine evacuation

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin met one-on-one Tuesday for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the United Nations said they agreed on arranging evacuations from a besieged steel plant in the battered city of Mariupol.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Russian leader and U.N. chief discussed “proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones, namely in relation to the situation in Mariupol.”

They also agreed in principle, he said, that the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross should be involved in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel complex where Ukrainian defenders in the southeastern city are making a dogged stand.


Russia’s Chernobyl seizure risked accident: nuclear chief

Thirty-six years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday that Russian troops risked causing an accident with their “very, very dangerous” seizure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Russian troops moved into the radiation-contaminated Chernobyl exclusion zone in February on their way toward the Ukrainian capital. They withdrew late last month as Russia pulled its forces from areas near Kyiv and switched its focus to fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The site has been back in Ukrainian hands since then, and disrupted communications have been restored.


Focused on diplomacy, not secondary sanctions: Blinken on purchase of cheap Russian oil

The U.S. is focused on voluntarily getting countries to move away from purchasing Russian oil at discounted prices and not imposing secondary sanctions now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, at a hearing on the FY2023 State Department Budget.

Questioned by Senator Chris van Hollen (Democrat, Maryland) on why the U.S. was not imposing secondary sanctions on countries purchasing Russian oil at a discount, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Blinken said that where preferable, the U.S. wanted to “get countries to voluntarily not engage” in the practice.


There will be no winner in Ukrainian war: Jaishankar

No one will emerge victorious from the war in Ukraine, said External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar on Tuesday.

Addressing the annual Raisina Dialogue here, the senior Minister said the citizens of the world are getting affected by events like the pandemic and violence and reminded the western guests that there are several equally serious challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and that they should look beyond the crisis in Ukraine.


U.S. hosts weapons summit for Ukraine as Moscow warns of world war

Top U.S. officials hosted emergency talks with allies in Germany on Tuesday on supplying Kyiv with more weapons to fend off Russia’s assault, as the UN ‘s chief headed to Moscow in a bid to avert further escalation of the conflict.

The meeting of 40 countries at the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Ukraine of only “pretending” to negotiate a cease-fire and warned of a “real” risk of a new world war.


U.N. chief calls for ceasefire on Moscow visit

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a cease-fire in Ukraine at his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr. Guterres is visiting Moscow and is then scheduled to visit the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, this week.

“We are extremely interested in finding ways in order to create the conditions for effective dialog, create the conditions for a cease-fire as soon as possible, create the conditions for a peaceful solution,” Mr. Guterres said, speaking in televised comments at the start of the meeting.


40 countries to hold talks in Germany on bolstering Ukraine defence

Forty countries will hold emergency talks in Germany on April 26 on bolstering the defence of Ukraine, which the U. S. Pentagon chief believes “can win” against Russia if given the necessary means and backing.

The meeting called by the U. S. at its Ramstein airbase in southwestern Germany is “focussed on doing things to generate additional capability and capacity for the Ukrainian forces”, said Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin following his visit Sunday to Kyiv.


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