Ukraine latest: Invasion must not succeed, South Korea’s Yoon says

The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has passed a grim one-year milestone, with mounting military and civilian deaths.

As fighting rages in and around Bakhmut, Western nations have raised their military support for Ukraine to the highest level yet, with commitments to send main battle tanks.

Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Saturday, April 29 (Tokyo time)

5:35 a.m. Russia’s attempt to forcibly alter the status quo shows a “lack of respect” and must be thwarted as a deterrent, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol says.

“The invasion, which violated international law, has stamped on the freedom and human rights of Ukrainians,” for whom Seoul is expanding humanitarian and financial support this year, Yoon says at Harvard University’s Kennedy School.

The world must respond with “courage” and “solemn solidarity” to “the attempt to change the status quo by force, which disregards the freedom of other nations,” he says. “We should prove that such attempts will never reach success, to block further attempts being made in the future.”

Friday, April 28

8:30 p.m. Russia slams the West at an India-hosted meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization members’ defense chiefs.

Sergei Shoigu blasts Western efforts to isolate Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

“Attempts to influence Russia’s partners in order to isolate it continue,” Tass quotes Shogiu as saying. “A large-scale information campaign has been launched to compromise the Russian leadership and its policies,” he claims, adding that “all these attempts are failing.”

India invited Belarus and Iran to participate in Friday’s meeting. Except for Pakistan, which attended the meeting virtually, all SCO members and the invited observers took part in person. Read more.

Residents of the town of Uman in Ukraine’s Cherkasy region react next to dead bodies in plastic bags near a residential building that was heavily damaged by a Russian missile on April 28.

  © Reuters

6:00 p.m. Russia hurled missiles at cities across Ukraine as people slept early on Friday, killing at least 12 people in the first large-scale airstrikes in nearly two months. The early morning attacks were carried out as Kyiv prepares to launch a counteroffensive to try to retake Russian-occupied territory. In the central city of Uman, firefighters battled a raging blaze at a residential apartment building that had been struck on an upper floor. At least 10 people were killed, including two children, and nine were taken to the hospital, regional Gov. Ihor Taburets said.

12:09 p.m. Russia attacked cities in a wide arc across Ukraine early on Friday, extending from Kyiv through central and southern regions, and at least two people were killed, according to media and officials. “A young woman and a 3-year-old child have been killed,” Borys Filatov, mayor of the central city of Dnipro, said on Telegram. Filatov gave no further details. Pictures on social media showed an apartment building ablaze in the central town of Uman. Kyiv was rocked by explosions, and more explosions were reported across the country, according to Interfax Ukraine and reports on social media channels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends by video link as Turkey holds a ceremony to mark the arrival of nuclear fuel at the Akkuyu power plant on April 27. (Sputnik via Reuters)

12:40 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey a “flagship” project for relations between the two countries and says it would have been impossible without Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The project “brings both mutual economic benefits and, of course, helps strengthen the multifaceted partnership between our two states, which is based on the principles of good neighborliness, mutual respect and consideration of each other’s interests,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency quotes the Russian leader as saying in a virtual address marking the first nuclear fuel delivery to the Russian-built plant. Power production is set to begin later this year, Anadolu says.

Putin says Russia will continue to supply Turkey with natural gas and other energy resources.

Thursday, April 27

11:45 a.m. Pakistan is poised to import oil from Russia, with the first order expected to be unloaded in May, in a move that promises to save the cash-strapped country money but also raises questions and challenges.

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Pakistan placed the order this month, according to Musadik Malik, minister of state for petroleum. The imported oil will initially be refined by government-owned Pakistan Refinery. If all goes well, the intention is to ramp up imports to 100,000 barrels per day, making up two-thirds of Pakistan’s total oil purchases.

The government has not disclosed financial details but is hailing the deal as economic relief. Read more.

10:30 a.m. Russian forces pounded the city of Bakhmut, the months-old focal point of their attempts to capture the eastern Ukrainian industrial region of Donbas, and the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force said Ukrainian troops were pouring in ahead of an “inevitable” counteroffensive. The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, in a report on Facebook, said fighting had gripped Bakhmut and nearby areas. It said Russian forces had failed to advance on two villages to the northwest. At least a dozen localities came under Russian fire.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that China will send a special envoy to Ukraine. (Source photos by AP)

Wednesday, April 26

9:00 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in a Twitter post that his phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping was “long and meaningful” but gave no details about what they discussed.

“I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” Zelenskyy says.

The world had been watching to see when the call would take place after Xi’s visit to Russia last month.

Xi told Zelenskyy that dialogue and negotiations are the only viable way out of the crisis, and that no one wins a nuclear war, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Xi also said China will send a special envoy to Ukraine and make its own effort to end the conflict.

After the call, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova says Russia notes the readiness of the Chinese side to make efforts to establish a negotiation process.

5:00 a.m. President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree establishing temporary control of the Russian assets of two foreign energy companies, signaling Moscow could take similar action against other companies if need be. The decree — outlining possible retaliation if Russian assets abroad are seized — showed Moscow had already taken action against Uniper SE’s Russian division and the assets of Finland’s Fortum. The decree said Russia needed to take urgent measures to respond to unspecified actions from the United States and others it said were “unfriendly and contrary to international law.”

Tuesday, April 25

12:10 p.m. An air ambulance helicopter has crashed in Russia’s southwestern region of Volgograd, killing the pilot, Reuters reports, citing sources of Russian-government news agency Tass. “A medical aviation helicopter has crashed, one crew member died,” emergency services said.

4:50 a.m. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sent Russian President Vladimir Putin a letter seeking an extension to a deal that keeps grain shipments moving through the Black Sea, Guterres’ office says.

The letter was entrusted to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who met with Guterres in New York, according to a U.N. readout of their meeting.

A similar letter was addressed to the other signatories of the Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement, the readout says.

Wheat is loaded into trucks during the harvest in Russia’s Omsk region.

  © Reuters

Guterres’ outreach comes after former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — now deputy chairman of his country’s Security Council — warned that Moscow would pull out of the agreement if the Group of Seven nations ban exports to Russia. The deal, which is set to expire in May, involves Ukraine and Turkey, which helped broker the arrangement that keeps a vital source of food flowing to developing countries.

The secretary-general’s letter outlines “a proposed way forward aimed at the improvement, extension and expansion of the BSGI, taking into account positions recently expressed by the parties and the risks posed by global food insecurity,” according to the U.N. readout.

Monday, April 24

10:00 p.m. Russian authorities say a Ukrainian drone strike on a naval base in Crimea was thwarted. Separately, a Ukrainian-made drone was found crashed in a forest in the Moscow region deep inside Russia, the Russian side says.

The attack on the naval base in Sevastopol using sea drones was stopped by the Russian military, according to the city’s Moscow-appointed chief, Mikhail Razvozhayev. No immediate comment was made by the Ukrainian side.

6:30 p.m. China is doing damage control after Beijing’s envoy to Paris questioned the sovereignty of nations that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning was called on to set the government’s official stance during a regular news conference in Beijing when asked if China stood behind the envoy’s remarks. “The Chinese side respects the status of the member states as sovereign states after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Mao said, adding that China was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with those countries.

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5:30 p.m. Recent remarks by China’s ambassador to France questioning the sovereignty of former Soviet states such as Ukraine are totally unacceptable, several European Union foreign ministers said. “It is totally unacceptable,” Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said ahead of the Luxembourg meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers. “I hope the bosses of this ambassador will make these things straight.” Asked about his position on whether Crimea was part of Ukraine or not, Chinese Ambassador to Paris Lu Shaye said in an interview aired on French television on Friday that historically it was part of Russia and had been offered to Ukraine by former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. “These ex-USSR countries don’t have actual status in international law because there is no international agreement to materialize their sovereign status,” Lu added.

4:40 p.m. Global military spending reached an all-time high of $2.24 trillion in 2022, rising 3.7% from the previous year, due largely to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an international security think tank said Monday. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said total spending grew for the eighth straight year but at a faster pace compared to the increase of 0.7% in 2021. It marked the largest rise since 1988 when comparable data became available. The top five spending countries were the United States, China, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, accounting for 63% of the global total. Ukraine’s military spending shot up 7.4-fold from the year before and reached $44 billion, comprising 34% of its gross domestic product in 2022, becoming the 11th-largest military expenditure from 36th place the previous year, the report said.

7:00 a.m. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says that if the Group of Seven moves to ban exports to Russia, Moscow will respond by terminating the Black Sea Grain deal which enables grain exports from Ukraine and is due to expire on May 18. “This idea from the idiots at the G-7 about a total ban of exports to our country by default is beautiful in that it implies a reciprocal ban on imports from our country, including categories of goods that are the most sensitive for the G-7,” Reuters reports Medvedev as saying in a post on his Telegram channel. “In such a case, the grain deal — and many other things that they need — will end for them,” he added.

Sunday, April 23

8:30 p.m. Russia’s Defense Ministry on Sunday said its forces had captured more territory in Bakhmut as they pursue their bid to seize full control of the city. The battle for Bakhmut has turned into one of the bloodiest of the 14-month war, with the Eastern Ukrainian city almost completely destroyed by artillery shelling and urban combat. Russia says capturing Bakhmut will allow it to mount further offensives into eastern Ukraine. If they succeed, Moscow’s forces are likely to face even larger urban battles for the nearby towns of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Saturday, April 22

11:10 p.m. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva does not want to “please anyone” with his views about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he says, after he provoked criticism in the West for suggesting Kyiv was in part to blame for the war.

His aim is to “build a way to bring” Russia and Ukraine “to the table,” he says in Lisbon, Portugal, at the start of a trip to Europe. “I want to find a third alternative [to solve the conflict], which is the construction of peace.”

Lula has been criticized in the West for suggesting Ukraine and Russia are both to blame for the conflict that began when Moscow invaded in February 2022.

Friday, April 21

8:38 p.m. A Russian Sukhoi Su-34 warplane accidentally dropped a bomb on the southern Russian city of Belgorod, the Russian Defense Ministry says in a brief statement. The blast on Thursday injured three people in the major city along the border with Ukraine.

The ministry cited “an accidental discharge of aviation ammunition.” Video footage from the site showed piles of concrete on the street, damaged cars and a building with broken windows. Belgorod region Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said there was a crater measuring 20 meters across on one of the main streets.

8:00 p.m. The U.S. will begin training Ukrainian forces on how to use and maintain Abrams tanks in the coming weeks, as it continues to speed up its efforts to get them onto the battlefield as quickly as possible, U.S. officials say. According to the officials, 31 tanks will arrive at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany at the end of May, and the troops will begin training a couple of weeks later. Officials said the training will last about 10 weeks. About 250 Ukrainian troops will be trained — with some learning to operate the tanks and others learning to repair and maintain them.

6:00 a.m. In Hong Kong, setting up a shell company can be done in a matter of days and for less than the cost of an iPhone. This business-friendly system began under British rule — and continued under communist China — helping the city transform itself into one of the world’s most successful commercial hubs. But it has also put Hong Kong at the center of a web of trading companies that is funneling millions of dollars’ worth of American-made semiconductors into Russia despite U.S. sanctions imposed following the invasion of Ukraine. Read more.

Chinese President Xi Jinping gave French counterpart Emmanuel Macron a warm welcome to China.

  © Reuters

4:25 a.m. The leaders of France and the U.S. have agreed on the importance of continuing to engage with China in hopes of ending the conflict in Ukraine, according to the French presidency. Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden discussed the French president’s recent trip to China, both sides say.

During the trip, Macron urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to use his influence to “bring Russia back to reason.” Xi reportedly expressed willingness to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but the Chinese leader’s earlier visit to Vladimir Putin in Moscow reinforced the image of China backing Russia.

Macron and Biden discussed “their ongoing efforts to advance prosperity, security, shared values, and the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region” and “reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to the White House.

Their call comes after remarks this month in which Macron argued that Europe should maintain strategic autonomy from the U.S. and avoid becoming caught in a Sino-American crisis.

12:33 a.m. South Korea says it will send ammunition to Poland and that direct military assistance to Ukraine may occur in the future if Russia engages in large-scale attacks on civilians, massacres or serious violations of laws of war.

Thursday, April 20

9:08 p.m. Ukraine’s future lies in NATO, the Western military alliance’s chief Jens Stoltenberg declares during his first visit to the country since Russia’s invasion 14 months ago.

“Let me be clear: Ukraine’s rightful place is in the euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO. And over time, our support will help you to make this possible,” Stoltenberg says at a news conference with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. In 2008, a NATO summit in Romania agreed that Ukraine eventually would join the alliance.

4:30 a.m. The European Union is preparing 100 million euros ($109 million) in compensation for farmers in five countries bordering Ukraine and plans to introduce restrictions on imports of Ukrainian grains. Pressure has mounted on Brussels to work out a European Union-wide solution after Poland and Hungary banned some imports from Ukraine last weekend. The countries became transit routes for Ukrainian grain that could not be exported through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Bottlenecks then trapped millions of tons of grains in countries bordering Ukraine, forcing local farmers to compete with an influx of cheap Ukrainian imports they say distort prices and demand.

3:30 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken authorizes $325 million in additional military aid for Ukraine. The latest package includes more ammunition for U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers and anti-armor systems, Blinken says in a statement.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine. Zelenskyy says he and McCarthy discussed Ukraine’s needs in armored vehicles, artillery, air defense and aircraft.

3:00 a.m. Contending with China’s preparations for war has a greater urgency for the U.S. and its Asian allies than helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia, former Pentagon official Elbridge Colby says.

Asked whether calling for cuts to U.S. support for Ukraine is extreme, Colby tells Nikkei: “What’s drastic and extreme is how much China has grown and how serious it is about preparing for a war.”

“Time is the problem,” he adds. “And if you look historically at why aggression happens, it’s usually because an aggressor sees an opportunity that may be fleeting.” Read more.

2:00 a.m. Heineken says it has sought approval from regulators in Russia to sell its business there. The brewing company had said it would exit Russia and expected to book a loss of 300 million euros ($328 million) on the sale. “We have submitted an application for approval regarding the transfer of ownership of our Russian business … it’s now with the authorities of the Russian Federation,” the Financial Times quotes Chief Financial Officer Harold van den Broek as saying.

For earlier updates, click here.


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