- Ukraine accuses Russia of “beginning the gas blackmail of Europe” after Moscow warned Poland and Bulgaria that it will cut off gas supplies.
- After weeks of pressure, Germany says it will provide its first delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks.
- The United Nations claims Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed “in principle” to allow the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
- The Biden administration stresses it is seeking Russia’s “strategic defeat” in Ukraine and for the country to be isolated internationally.
Here are all the latest updates:
Russia pushing to encircle Rubizhne: Think-tank
Russian forces are making better progress along the line from Izyum to Rubizhne than any other Russian advances in this phase of the war, the Institute for the Study of War says.
“They are pushing from Izyum southwest toward Barvinkove and southeast toward Slovyansk. They are also pushing several columns west and south of Rubizhne, likely intending to encircle it and complete its capture,” the institute says.
It adds that Russia is proceeding “methodically rather than rapidly” but it is unclear if they will be able to “encircle Ukrainian forces in large numbers”. It also says Russian offensive operations elsewhere along the line in eastern Ukraine remain unsuccessful.
Russia staging false-flag attacks in Transnistria: Think-tank
Russia is staging false-flag attacks in Transnistria, Moldova, likely to set conditions for further actions on that front, the Institute for the Study of War says in its latest briefing.
It notes the battalions stationed illegally in the Moldovan break-away region since the end of the Cold War are not sufficient to mount a credible attack on Odesa. But they could support more limited attacks to the northwest of the city, “possibly causing panic and creating psychological effects to benefit Russian operations in the south of Ukraine.”
The Institute also says that despite Putin’s claim there is no more fighting in Mariupol, Russian troops are continuing to attack Ukrainian defenders in the city, including in the Azovstal Plant.
Zelenskyy meets Romanian PM in Kyiv
Zelenskyy has praised Bucharest’s humanitarian assistance to his nation in a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă who was on a visit to Kyiv.
Ukraine’s president also thanked Ciucă for Romania’s support for Ukraine becoming a “full member of the European family as soon as possible”, a statement said.
“An important component of the common European future will be the absolute protection and development of our national minorities – the Ukrainian community in Romania and the Romanian community in Ukraine,” the statement added.
The Roma in Ukraine make up an estimated 400,000 people. Despite being persecuted throughout Ukraine’s history, many are contributing enthusiastically to the war effort.
Australia sending Ukraine M777 howitzers
Australia has announced it will send six M777 howitzers, and ammunition for the long-range weapons, to Ukraine after being asked to do so by the United States and the Ukrainian embassies.
The latest package of military assistance is worth AUD$26.7 million (US$19 m), taking Australia’s military aid to the war-torn country to more than $225 million (US$160 m).
Australia has already sent other weapons and military equipment, along with 20 of its Bushmaster armoured vehicles.
Army ready for escalation in Transnistria: Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy has said his army is “ready for a possible escalation in the temporarily occupied territory” of Moldova.
He made his comments in a press conference after meeting with IAEA Director Rafael Mariano in Kyiv, after a series of attacks targeted sites in Transnistria, a Russian-backed breakaway region in Moldova which borders Ukraine.
Ukraine’s president said Russia’s goal was “to destabilise the situation in the region, to threaten Moldova. They show that if Moldova supports Ukraine, there will be certain steps.”
He added he knew the Russian troops in Transnistria were in a state of “constant readiness” and that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were “ready for this” and “are not afraid of them.”
Putin agrees ‘in principle’ to UN role in Mariupol evacuations
Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed “in principle” to UN and International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) involvement in the evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in Ukraine’s southern city of Mariupol, the United Nations has said.
During a meeting in Moscow, Putin and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed the situation at the Azovstal steel plant, where the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol are holed up after months of Russian siege and relentless bombardment.
“Follow-on discussions will be had with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defence Ministry,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement after the meeting.
Read more here.
Nearly three in four Americans back arms shipments to Ukraine: Poll
Seventy-three percent of Americans support US efforts to supply Ukraine with weapons, the highest level of support since Russia’s invasion began, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The poll also showed that 46 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s response to the war.
British auction house launches benefit sales for Ukraine
Christie’s auction house has launched a three-part series of benefit sales, expected to raise $1m for Ukrainian heritage, Ukraine’s foreign ministry has announced.
In a tweet, the foreign ministry said the British company aims “to help heritage professionals in Ukraine lay the groundwork for future rehabilitation”.
Christie’s has launched a three-part series of benefit sales, expected to raise $1m for #Ukraine heritage.
— MFA of Ukraine 🇺🇦 (@MFA_Ukraine) April 26, 2022
Ukraine tears down monument symbolising friendship with Russia
A Soviet-era monument symbolising friendship between Russia and Ukraine was dismantled in Kyiv, the city’s mayor has said.
The statue depicted a Ukrainian and Russian worker on a plinth, holding aloft together a Soviet order of friendship. The statue was located underneath the People’s Friendship Arch, erected in 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union.
“This monument … symbolised friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations. We now see what this ‘friendship’ is – destruction of Ukrainian cities, ruining the lives of Ukrainians, killing tens of thousands of peaceful people. I am convinced such a monument has an entirely different meaning now,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Symbolic. A monument to “friendship” between Ukrainians and Russians dismantled in Kyiv. First, the “Russian” head was taken down. pic.twitter.com/6YPhhSV5EO
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) April 26, 2022
Russian gas cut-off a ‘seismic warning shot’: Expert
Tom Marzec-Manser, head of gas analytics at data intelligence firm ICIS, has said Russia’s threat to suspend gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria is “a seismic warning shot”.
“Poland has had an anti-Russia and anti-Gazprom stance for a number of years, which is not the case for Bulgaria, so to see Bulgaria also be cut off is also quite a development in its own right,” he told the Reuters news agency.
Poland’s energy supplies are secure, its climate ministry said, adding that there was no need to draw from gas reserves and that gas to consumers would not be cut. Bulgaria said it has taken steps to find alternative gas supply and no restrictions on gas consumption were required for now.
UK FM to urge West ‘double down’ on Ukraine support
Countries opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must double down on their support for Kyiv, including the supply of heavy weapons, tanks and aeroplanes, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will say in a speech.
“If Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again. So we must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine,” she will say according to advance extracts of a speech she will give later on Wednesday to diplomats and business leaders in London.
“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this.”
Ukraine slams Russian threat as ‘gas blackmail’
Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has said Russia was “beginning the gas blackmail of Europe” by threatening to cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.
“Russia is trying to shatter the unity of our allies. Russia is also proving that energy resources are a weapon,” Yermak said.
“That is why the [European Union] needs to be united and impose an embargo on energy resources, depriving the Russians of their energy weapons.”
Russian gas supplies being cut to Poland, Bulgaria: Gazprom
Russian energy giant Gazprom has told Poland and Bulgaria it will halt gas supplies to the two countries starting on Wednesday.
Poland and Bulgaria would be the first countries to have their gas cut off by Europe’s main supplier since Moscow started its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Putin has demanded that countries he terms “unfriendly” agree to a scheme under which they would open accounts at Gazprombank and make payments for Russian gas imports in euros or dollars that would be converted into roubles.
US offers $10m for information on cyberattackers
The US State Department is offering a $10m reward for information leading to the “identification or location of any person” engaged in cyberattacks against critical US infrastructure.
In a statement, the department said the United States is specifically seeking information on six officers from the Russian military intelligence service (GRU) “for their role in a criminal conspiracy involving malicious cyber activities affecting US critical infrastructure”.
The US Justice Department had charged the same officers in 2020 in connection to a 2017 malware attack that targeted international and US businesses.
The reward offer comes as the US government is urging private sector companies to tighten their cyberdefences against possible Russian attacks.
Canada to alter it sanctions law
The Canadian government will change its sanctions law to allow for seized and sanctioned foreign assets to be redistributed as compensation to victims or to help in rebuilding a foreign state from war, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has said.
“Today, we are seeking the capacity to not only seize but to allow for the forfeiture of the assets of sanctioned individuals and entities and to allow us to compensate victims with the proceeds,” Joly said in a statement.
“These changes would make Canada’s sanctions regime the first in the G7 to allow these actions.”
IAEA says it has agreed with Ukraine to help repair damage to Chernobyl
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said he agreed with Ukraine to help repair the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant after it was occupied by Russian troops.
“It is visible that there is damage and we are assessing that,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told a news conference in Kyiv after visiting the station.
US says it is seeking ‘strategic defeat’ for Russia
The US State Department spokesperson has said Washington is seeking a “strategic defeat” for Moscow in Ukraine that would leave Russia economically weaker and more isolated internationally.
“When we talk about strategic defeat, we’re talking about Moscow’s positioning in the international system,” Ned Price told reporters.
“The Moscow that prepared to invade and that on February 24 went forward with its invasion, will not be the same Russian Federation in terms of its positioning on the world stage.”
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Tuesday, April 26 here.