Friday, April 12

Ukraine war live: G7 urges more funding for Kyiv; Ukrainian military shoots down Russian drone attacks | World news


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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The leaders of G7 countries have pledged support for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia after a virtual meeting Saturday on the second anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which ranks as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two.

After the meeting, the G7 leaders didn’t make any public statement about further military aid, but urged “the approval of additional support to close Ukraine’s remaining budget gap for 2024”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military says it has shot down 16 out of 18 drone attacks over eight regions across central, western and southern Ukraine, including the capital region, Kyiv’s military said on Sunday on the Telegram messaging app, Reuters reports.

More on those stories shortly. In other news:

  • The leaders of G7 countries also demanded after the virtual meeting on Saturday that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after the most prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin died in an Arctic prison last week.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed western leaders to Kyiv on the anniversary, declaring that Vladimir Putin “must lose absolutely everything”. Four western leaders, including the prime ministers of Italy, Canada, and Belgium, arrived in Kyiv on Saturday to show solidarity with Ukraine on the second anniversary of the war.

  • Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Belgium’s Alexander De Croo and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, travelled to the Ukrainian capital together overnight by train from neighbouring Poland, the Italian government said in a statement, Reuters reported.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday he had signed a bilateral security agreement with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv. Canada joins Italy, Britain, Germany, France and Denmark in concluding a 10-year security deal with Kyiv. The agreements are intended to shore up Ukraine’s security until it can reach its aim of becoming a member of the western military alliance, Nato.

  • German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa on Saturday, said Germany was still discussing whether to supply long-range weapons to Ukraine. “Of course, everything (in regards to military support) we are delivering is too little,” she said at a press conference after paying an unannounced visit to the country.

  • The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, a spokesperson has confirmed. The spokesperson for the opposition politician, who died while in prison last week, said funeral arrangements are still to be determined. It is “unclear” whether the authorities will interfere, they added.

  • Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, had demanded that Russian authorities release his body for burial and accused a “demonic” Russian president Vladimir Putin of “torturing” his corpse. In a six minute video posted on YouTube, Navalnaya accused Putin of holding her husband’s body “hostage”, and questioned Putin’s often-professed Christian faith, Reuters reported.

  • A fire broke out and was extinguished at Russian steelmaker NLMK’s main plant, the regional governor said on Saturday. Preliminary data indicated the fire at the Novolipetsk Steel plant was caused by a drone, the Lipetsk regional governor, Igor Artamonov, said on Telegram, without mentioning Ukraine, Reuters reports. There were no casualties, Artamonov said.

  • Hundreds of people gathered at Marble Arch in central London to protest against Russia’s invasion. Demonstrators waved Ukrainian flags, with others wrapping them around their shoulders, PA Media reported. Other protesters bore signs urging Russia to “stop the war”, labelling Russian president Vladimir Putin a “terrorist” and urging international powers to offer more support. Demonstrators also gathered in other cities across Europe, including in Germany and Italy.

Children take part in a demonstration to mark 2 years since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Rome, Italy. Photograph: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
  • Russia is unlikely to take part at the outset of a high-level Ukraine peace conference which neutral Switzerland plans to host in the coming months, Swiss president Viola Amherd was quoted as saying by a newspaper on Saturday. Amherd’s interview with the Neue Zuercher Zeitung daily was published a few hours after Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis told the United Nations that Berne aimed to hold the conference “by this summer” after the idea was floated in January.

  • UK foreign secretary David Cameron warned allies in the United Nations against “fatigue” and “compromise” over Russia’s war in Ukraine as he urged countries including the US to keep up support for Kyiv. The UK foreign secretary said the world must “recognise the cost of giving up” in a speech in New York on the eve of the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion, PA Media reported.

  • The UK has pledged £8.5m in humanitarian funding allocations to the Red Cross Movement and the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. David Cameron said: “Ukrainians are bravely defending their land against Russia’s brutal invasion, but the past two years of war have had a tragic impact on millions of people across Ukraine. Families have been separated, towns and villages decimated, and vital civilian infrastructure destroyed.

  • Protesters said they dumped two tons of dung outside the home of the Russian ambassador to Poland on Saturday, as they marked the second anniversary of the invasion. Activists put a bloodied Russian flag with the letter “Z” on the pile of manure and stuck a sign into it that said “Russia = shit! We don’t want you in EU! Get out!”, pictures of the protest in Konstancin-Jeziorna, seen by Reuters, showed. The town near Warsaw is where the ambassador lives.

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Ukraine tripled its weapons production last year and 500 companies are now working in the country’s defence sector, Kyiv’s strategic industries minister said on Sunday.

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Oleksandr Kamyshin said during a televised address in Kyiv that the figure included 100 state and 400 private companies and that Ukraine this year plans “to considerably increase ammunition production.”

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The leaders of G7 countries have pledged support for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia after a virtual meeting Saturday on the second anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which ranks as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two.

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After the meeting, the G7 leaders didn’t make any public statement about further military aid, but urged “the approval of additional support to close Ukraine’s remaining budget gap for 2024”.

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Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military says it has shot down 16 out of 18 drone attacks over eight regions across central, western and southern Ukraine, including the capital region, Kyiv’s military said on Sunday on the Telegram messaging app, Reuters reports.

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More on those stories shortly. In other news:

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  • The leaders of G7 countries also demanded after the virtual meeting on Saturday that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after the most prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin died in an Arctic prison last week.

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  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed western leaders to Kyiv on the anniversary, declaring that Vladimir Putin “must lose absolutely everything”. Four western leaders, including the prime ministers of Italy, Canada, and Belgium, arrived in Kyiv on Saturday to show solidarity with Ukraine on the second anniversary of the war.

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  • Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Belgium’s Alexander De Croo and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, travelled to the Ukrainian capital together overnight by train from neighbouring Poland, the Italian government said in a statement, Reuters reported.

  • n

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday he had signed a bilateral security agreement with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv. Canada joins Italy, Britain, Germany, France and Denmark in concluding a 10-year security deal with Kyiv. The agreements are intended to shore up Ukraine’s security until it can reach its aim of becoming a member of the western military alliance, Nato.

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  • German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa on Saturday, said Germany was still discussing whether to supply long-range weapons to Ukraine. “Of course, everything (in regards to military support) we are delivering is too little,” she said at a press conference after paying an unannounced visit to the country.

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  • The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, a spokesperson has confirmed. The spokesperson for the opposition politician, who died while in prison last week, said funeral arrangements are still to be determined. It is “unclear” whether the authorities will interfere, they added.

  • n

  • Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, had demanded that Russian authorities release his body for burial and accused a “demonic” Russian president Vladimir Putin of “torturing” his corpse. In a six minute video posted on YouTube, Navalnaya accused Putin of holding her husband’s body “hostage”, and questioned Putin’s often-professed Christian faith, Reuters reported.

  • n

  • A fire broke out and was extinguished at Russian steelmaker NLMK’s main plant, the regional governor said on Saturday. Preliminary data indicated the fire at the Novolipetsk Steel plant was caused by a drone, the Lipetsk regional governor, Igor Artamonov, said on Telegram, without mentioning Ukraine, Reuters reports. There were no casualties, Artamonov said.

  • n

  • Hundreds of people gathered at Marble Arch in central London to protest against Russia’s invasion. Demonstrators waved Ukrainian flags, with others wrapping them around their shoulders, PA Media reported. Other protesters bore signs urging Russia to “stop the war”, labelling Russian president Vladimir Putin a “terrorist” and urging international powers to offer more support. Demonstrators also gathered in other cities across Europe, including in Germany and Italy.

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  • Russia is unlikely to take part at the outset of a high-level Ukraine peace conference which neutral Switzerland plans to host in the coming months, Swiss president Viola Amherd was quoted as saying by a newspaper on Saturday. Amherd’s interview with the Neue Zuercher Zeitung daily was published a few hours after Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis told the United Nations that Berne aimed to hold the conference “by this summer” after the idea was floated in January.

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  • UK foreign secretary David Cameron warned allies in the United Nations against “fatigue” and “compromise” over Russia’s war in Ukraine as he urged countries including the US to keep up support for Kyiv. The UK foreign secretary said the world must “recognise the cost of giving up” in a speech in New York on the eve of the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion, PA Media reported.

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  • The UK has pledged £8.5m in humanitarian funding allocations to the Red Cross Movement and the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. David Cameron said: “Ukrainians are bravely defending their land against Russia’s brutal invasion, but the past two years of war have had a tragic impact on millions of people across Ukraine. Families have been separated, towns and villages decimated, and vital civilian infrastructure destroyed.

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  • Protesters said they dumped two tons of dung outside the home of the Russian ambassador to Poland on Saturday, as they marked the second anniversary of the invasion. Activists put a bloodied Russian flag with the letter “Z” on the pile of manure and stuck a sign into it that said “Russia = shit! We don’t want you in EU! Get out!”, pictures of the protest in Konstancin-Jeziorna, seen by Reuters, showed. The town near Warsaw is where the ambassador lives.

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Key events

Ukraine tripled weapons production last year, industries minister says

Ukraine tripled its weapons production last year and 500 companies are now working in the country’s defence sector, Kyiv’s strategic industries minister said on Sunday.

Oleksandr Kamyshin said during a televised address in Kyiv that the figure included 100 state and 400 private companies and that Ukraine this year plans “to considerably increase ammunition production.”

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Here are some of the latest images coming out of Ukraine:

A local trader works to remove debris at the scene of a Russian missile strike that destroyed a train station in Kostyantynivka. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
Firefighters work at the scene of a Russian missile strike that destroyed a train station in Kostyantynivka. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
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Luke Harding

Luke Harding

In a new bookshop opened in Kyiv on the street where Putin planned a conquerors’ parade two years ago, the mood is sombre.

The Guardian’s foreign correspondent, Luke Harding writes:

There is a coffee bar, a space for ­literary events and thousands of books displayed on the ground floor and in the large brick-lined basement. Signs point customers to sections: novels, history, fan fiction and foreign literature.

Welcome to Sens, Ukraine’s biggest bookshop in the heart of Kyiv. With unlikely timing, it opened its doors last week, two years after Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion.

Putin had planned a triumphal military parade down Khreshchatyk, the capital’s main boulevard where Sens is found, next to the office of mayor Vitali Klitschko. The plan failed.

According to Oleksii Erinchak, the 33-year-old founder of Sens, the national mood is no longer one of giddy optimism. Instead, he said, it is more “realistic”. And ­inevitably gloomier.

Customers browsing the shelves and sipping espresso said they believed Ukraine would prevail. But they admitted to occasional feelings of despair.

Read the full story here:

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Polls have opened today in Belarus’ tightly controlled parliamentary and local elections that are expected to keep the country’s authoritarian leader, despite calls for a boycott from the opposition.

AFP reports:

President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron hand for nearly 30 years, accuses the West of trying to use the vote to undermine his government and “destabilise” the nation of 9.5 million people.

Lukashenko has relied on subsidies and political support from his main ally, Russia, to survive the protests. He allowed Moscow to use Belarusian territory to send troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Most candidates belong to the four officially registered parties: Belaya Rus, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Party of Labor and Justice. Those parties all support Lukashenko’s policies. About a dozen other parties were denied registration last year.

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is in exile in neighboring Lithuania after challenging Lukashenko in the 2020 presidential election, urged voters to boycott the elections.

Tsikhanouskaya said:

There are no people on the ballot who would offer real changes because the regime only has allowed puppets convenient for it to take part. We are calling to boycott this senseless farce, to ignore this election without choice.

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Updated at 

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The leaders of G7 countries have pledged support for Ukraine and new sanctions on Russia after a virtual meeting Saturday on the second anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which ranks as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two.

After the meeting, the G7 leaders didn’t make any public statement about further military aid, but urged “the approval of additional support to close Ukraine’s remaining budget gap for 2024”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military says it has shot down 16 out of 18 drone attacks over eight regions across central, western and southern Ukraine, including the capital region, Kyiv’s military said on Sunday on the Telegram messaging app, Reuters reports.

More on those stories shortly. In other news:

  • The leaders of G7 countries also demanded after the virtual meeting on Saturday that Russia “fully clarify the circumstances” around the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after the most prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin died in an Arctic prison last week.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed western leaders to Kyiv on the anniversary, declaring that Vladimir Putin “must lose absolutely everything”. Four western leaders, including the prime ministers of Italy, Canada, and Belgium, arrived in Kyiv on Saturday to show solidarity with Ukraine on the second anniversary of the war.

  • Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Belgium’s Alexander De Croo and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, travelled to the Ukrainian capital together overnight by train from neighbouring Poland, the Italian government said in a statement, Reuters reported.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday he had signed a bilateral security agreement with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv. Canada joins Italy, Britain, Germany, France and Denmark in concluding a 10-year security deal with Kyiv. The agreements are intended to shore up Ukraine’s security until it can reach its aim of becoming a member of the western military alliance, Nato.

  • German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa on Saturday, said Germany was still discussing whether to supply long-range weapons to Ukraine. “Of course, everything (in regards to military support) we are delivering is too little,” she said at a press conference after paying an unannounced visit to the country.

  • The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, a spokesperson has confirmed. The spokesperson for the opposition politician, who died while in prison last week, said funeral arrangements are still to be determined. It is “unclear” whether the authorities will interfere, they added.

  • Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, had demanded that Russian authorities release his body for burial and accused a “demonic” Russian president Vladimir Putin of “torturing” his corpse. In a six minute video posted on YouTube, Navalnaya accused Putin of holding her husband’s body “hostage”, and questioned Putin’s often-professed Christian faith, Reuters reported.

  • A fire broke out and was extinguished at Russian steelmaker NLMK’s main plant, the regional governor said on Saturday. Preliminary data indicated the fire at the Novolipetsk Steel plant was caused by a drone, the Lipetsk regional governor, Igor Artamonov, said on Telegram, without mentioning Ukraine, Reuters reports. There were no casualties, Artamonov said.

  • Hundreds of people gathered at Marble Arch in central London to protest against Russia’s invasion. Demonstrators waved Ukrainian flags, with others wrapping them around their shoulders, PA Media reported. Other protesters bore signs urging Russia to “stop the war”, labelling Russian president Vladimir Putin a “terrorist” and urging international powers to offer more support. Demonstrators also gathered in other cities across Europe, including in Germany and Italy.

Children take part in a demonstration to mark 2 years since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Rome, Italy. Photograph: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
  • Russia is unlikely to take part at the outset of a high-level Ukraine peace conference which neutral Switzerland plans to host in the coming months, Swiss president Viola Amherd was quoted as saying by a newspaper on Saturday. Amherd’s interview with the Neue Zuercher Zeitung daily was published a few hours after Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis told the United Nations that Berne aimed to hold the conference “by this summer” after the idea was floated in January.

  • UK foreign secretary David Cameron warned allies in the United Nations against “fatigue” and “compromise” over Russia’s war in Ukraine as he urged countries including the US to keep up support for Kyiv. The UK foreign secretary said the world must “recognise the cost of giving up” in a speech in New York on the eve of the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion, PA Media reported.

  • The UK has pledged £8.5m in humanitarian funding allocations to the Red Cross Movement and the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. David Cameron said: “Ukrainians are bravely defending their land against Russia’s brutal invasion, but the past two years of war have had a tragic impact on millions of people across Ukraine. Families have been separated, towns and villages decimated, and vital civilian infrastructure destroyed.

  • Protesters said they dumped two tons of dung outside the home of the Russian ambassador to Poland on Saturday, as they marked the second anniversary of the invasion. Activists put a bloodied Russian flag with the letter “Z” on the pile of manure and stuck a sign into it that said “Russia = shit! We don’t want you in EU! Get out!”, pictures of the protest in Konstancin-Jeziorna, seen by Reuters, showed. The town near Warsaw is where the ambassador lives.

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