Russia-Ukraine latest: Vladimir Putin's food blockade 'craven and reckless', says Boris Johnson

·31 min read
Russian servicemen patrol the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. - Olga Maltseva/AFP
Russian servicemen patrol the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol on May 18, 2022, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine. - Olga Maltseva/AFP

Boris Johnson has branded Vladimir Putin’s blockade of Ukrainian food exports “craven and reckless”, after the UN warned it could lead to global famine.

The Prime Minister raised his “significant concerns” in a call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, as the pair planned how they could reopen the “critical sea and land supply” chains blocked by Russia, particularly in the Black Sea.

Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister raised his significant concerns about the growing fallout from Russia’s illegal invasion and President Putin’s craven and reckless blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, including rising food prices in developing countries.”

Their talks came after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned Vladimir Putin that his war in Ukraine could result in a global food crisis lasting years.

The Kremlin responded by saying it would only order the lifting of its blockades if European and US sanctions imposed on Moscow were also lifted.

The UN has estimated that 1.7 billion people in 100 countries will be impacted by a drop in grain supplies from Ukraine and Russia this year.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

05:36 PM

G7 countries commit $18.4bn in funds for Ukraine

The G7 countries have committed $18.4 billion in transfers and loans to help Ukraine meet its immediate financing needs, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters on Thursday.

"We have mobilised 18.4 billion US dollars of budget support, including 9.2 billion US dollars of recent commitments in the lead up to the Petersberg meeting, to help Ukraine close its financing gap and continue ensuring the delivery of basic services to the Ukrainian people," G7 finance ministers and central bankers said in the draft document.

The group of seven countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US - also said they will "continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this war and beyond and are prepared to do more as needed".

05:27 PM

Blinken accuses Russia of using food as a weapon in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia on Thursday of using food as a weapon in Ukraine, by holding "hostage" the food supply for not just millions of Ukrainians, but also millions around the world who rely on Ukrainian exports.

Addressing the UN Security Council, Blinken said: "The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not - to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people.

"The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has quite literally been held hostage by the Russian military."

The US will send Ukraine $215 million in emergency food assistance, he added.

He also rejected the Kremlin's claim that Western sanctions imposed on Moscow were fuelling the food crisis.

"The decision to weaponise food is Moscow's and Moscow's alone," Blinken said. "As a result of the Russian government's actions some 20 million tons of grain sit unused in Ukrainian silos as global food supply dwindle, prices skyrocket, causing more around the world to experience food insecurity."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the UN headquarters in New York City on May 19, 2022. - David Dee Delgado/Getty Images North America
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the UN headquarters in New York City on May 19, 2022. - David Dee Delgado/Getty Images North America

05:08 PM

12 civilians killed by Russian shelling in Luhansk region

12 civilians have been killed and more than 40 wounded by Russian shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, in the Luhansk region, the head of Ukraine's military administration has said.

Serhiy Haidai said two women were among the victims, and were found dead in a flat that had been hit by a missile.

He said the shelling looked like "mostly the Russians targeted hits on residential buildings".

The number of casualties has not yet been finalised, he added, as the area remains under fire.

04:49 PM

Kharkiv residents continue to use subway stations as bomb shelters, even as attacks decrease and transport services look towards reopening

An elderly man rests in a city subway used as a temporary bomb shelter in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, May 19, 2022. Although the bombings in Kharkiv have become less frequent and the subway is expected to resume service from next week, some residents still use it as a temporary bomb shelter.  - Bernat Armangue/AP
An elderly man rests in a city subway used as a temporary bomb shelter in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, May 19, 2022. Although the bombings in Kharkiv have become less frequent and the subway is expected to resume service from next week, some residents still use it as a temporary bomb shelter. - Bernat Armangue/AP
People shelter and live in an underground subway station in the Saltivska district in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on May 19, 2022. - Dimitar Dilkoff/AP
People shelter and live in an underground subway station in the Saltivska district in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on May 19, 2022. - Dimitar Dilkoff/AP
People shelter and live in an underground subway station in the Saltivska district in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on May 19, 2022. - Dimitar Dilkoff/AP
People shelter and live in an underground subway station in the Saltivska district in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, on May 19, 2022. - Dimitar Dilkoff/AP

04:28 PM

Ukrainians at Canne denounce decision not to ban all Russians

Ukrainians at the Cannes Film Festival said on Thursday that all Russians should have been banned from the event - even those who have spoken out against the war.

"We feel strongly that anything and everything Russian must be cancelled," said Andrew Fesiak, founder of Ukrainian production firm F Films. "At a time when Ukrainian film-makers are forced to stop making movies because they either need to flee for their lives or take up arms... Russian film-makers cannot pretend that everything is fine and that they are not to blame."

Ukrainian speakers have also been critical of the festival's decision to include Russian director Kirill - who has gone into exile since the start of the war in Ukraine after calling for its end - in the competition for the Palme d'Or with his film 'Tchaikovsky's Wife', as they accused him of historically receiving funding from the Kremlin.

Serebrennikov told AFP he understood their positions, but warned organisations against cutting off the Russian people as a whole.

The director said: "They are in a terrible situation, this war is a catastrophe. For them it's even difficult to hear the Russian language. I can understand that.

"But for European culture to cut off Russian culture would be a big mistake and I'm happy the festival chose the right way - not to work with officials but not to ban an independent Russian film with a sad story from the 19th century."

03:57 PM

Security of Sweden 'will be best protected within Nato', says PM

Sweden’s prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, has said her country will be "best protected within the Nato alliance" in the face of Russia's "full-scale aggression" in Ukraine.

Speaking at the White House, where she met with US President Joe Biden along with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, she said: "My government has come to the conclusion that the security of the Swedish people will be best protected within the Nato alliance, and this is backed by very broad support in the Swedish parliament".

She added that Nato will be strengthened by admitting Sweden and Finland as members, as the two nations are "security providers with sophisticated defence capabilities. And we are champions of freedom, democracy, and human rights".

03:32 PM

Finland willing to discuss Turkey's Nato concerns

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has said his country is willing to talk to Turkey about its concerns over Finland joining Nato.

Speaking from the White House on Thursday, where he is meeting with US President Joe Biden, Niinistö said: "We take terrorism seriously, we condemn terrorism seriously in all its forms and we are actively engaged in combating it".

Niinistö said "open and constructive" discussions with Turkey are already under way and will continue in the coming days.

He added that his country decided to apply for Nato membership following a "rapid, but very thorough process".

03:04 PM

Biden expresses support for Nordic Nato bids at White House meeting

Joe Biden welcomed the leaders of Sweden and Finland to the White House on Thursday, as he expressed support for the two countries' bids to join Nato.

The US President greeted Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland at the White House with handshakes and laughter as they met to discuss Nato as well as broader European security concerns.

"Today I'm proud to welcome and offer the strong support in the United States for the applications of two great democracies, and two close, highly capable partners to join the strongest, most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world," Biden said, from the Rose Garden.

"They meet every Nato requirement and then some, and having two new Nato members in the high north will enhance the security of our alliance."

03:01 PM

Germany strips Schroeder of official perks over Russia ties

Germany on Thursday removed perks accorded to former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder over his refusal to sever ties with Russian energy giants.

"The coalition parliamentary groups have drawn consequences from the behaviour of former chancellor and lobbyist Gerhard Schroeder in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine," the parliament said.

It said that the "office of the former chancellor shall be suspended" as Schroeder "no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office".

Schroeder, Germany's chancellor from 1998 to 2005, has come under fire for refusing to quit his posts with Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom following Moscow's war in Ukraine.

He condemned the invasion as unjustified but said that dialogue must continue with Moscow.

02:50 PM

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers attending tactical training

Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine attend a training in tactical medicine, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues, in the Transcarpathian region, Ukraine, May 19, 2022. - Serhii Hudak/Reuters
Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine attend a training in tactical medicine, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues, in the Transcarpathian region, Ukraine, May 19, 2022. - Serhii Hudak/Reuters
Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine attend a training in tactical medicine, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues, in the Transcarpathian region, Ukraine, May 19, 2022.  - Serhii Hudak/Reuters
Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine attend a training in tactical medicine, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues, in the Transcarpathian region, Ukraine, May 19, 2022. - Serhii Hudak/Reuters

02:24 PM

There's a 'way through' Turkey's concerns over Nato new members, Wallace says

Ben Wallace said on Thursday that he believed there was a way to address Turkey's concerns over Sweden and Finland joining Nato.

Finland and Sweden formally applied on Wednesday to join Nato, but Turkey has objected, saying that the countries support terrorist groups.

"I think there is a way through. I think we will get there in the end and it is very important that we listen to all members and their concerns in that process and we will certainly be listening to Turkey," the Defence Minister told parliament, adding he would be speaking to his Turkish counterpart.

Meanwhile, Nato's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said in Copenhagen on Thursday: "It is not uncommon in Nato to have differing opinions on major decisions. We have much experience in Nato, when there is a difference of opinion, of sitting down and finding solutions.

"We are in close contact with Finland, Sweden and Turkey. We are addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed".

02:05 PM

Biden welcomes Finland and Sweden's leaders to White House

Joe Biden welcomed Sweden's prime minister Magdalena Andersson and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto to the White House on Thursday.

The visit follows the two Nordic nations decisions' to apply to join Nato, which the US President has said he strongly supports.

US President Joe Biden (C), Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (R) and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto pose for photographs after the Nordic leaders arrived at the White House on May 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.  - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America
US President Joe Biden (C), Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (R) and Finland's President Sauli Niinisto pose for photographs after the Nordic leaders arrived at the White House on May 19, 2022 in Washington, DC. - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

01:53 PM

PM discusses Mariupol, defence and food shortages with Zelensky

01:32 PM

Russian soldier asks for forgiveness in Ukraine war crimes trial

A 21-year-old Russian soldier has asked a Ukrainian widow to forgive him for the murder of her husband, as a court in Kyiv met for a second hearing on Thursday in the first war crimes trial of the conflict.

Vadim Shishimarin, a tank commander, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian, Oleksandr Shelipov, in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on February 28.

"I acknowledge my blame... I ask you to forgive me," he told the widow, Kateryna Shelipova, at the hearing.

When asked whether he had been obliged to follow an order that amounted to a war crime, he replied "no", but seemed visibly shaken throughout proceedings, according to Reuters.

The widow said she had heard distant gun shots fired from their yard while she was out collecting water from a well, and ran home only to find her husband dead.

"I ran over to my husband, he was already dead. Shot in the head. I screamed, I screamed so much," she said.

Shelipova told the court she would not object if Shishimarin was released to Russia as part of a prisoner swap to get "our boys" out of Mariupol.

01:19 PM

PM raised 'significant concerns' about rising food prices with Zelensky

Boris Johnson raised "significant concerns" about rising food prices linked to Russia's invasion during a call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart this morning to discuss "a range of issues, including military support and global food security".

The two leaders discussed options to "open up critical sea and land supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks" so that supply chains could be restored.

A No 10 spokesman added: "The Prime Minister raised his significant concerns about the growing global fallout from Russia’s illegal invasion and President Putin’s craven and reckless blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, including rising food prices in developing countries."

Mr Johnson also expressed his "undimmed admiration for the brave defenders of Mariupol" and urged Russia to treat prisoners of war with dignity and respect.

12:45 PM

Putin desperate for Nazi 'Wunderwaffe' to turn war around

Russia's announcement of a new laser weapon system is like the Nazi's search for a "Wunderwaffe" - wonder weapon - and shows the invasion is failing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Mr Zelensky mocked Russia’s claim that it is using a new laser weapon that can destroy satellites 900 miles above earth in seconds.

“In the propaganda of Nazi Germany there was such a term ‘wunderwaffe’,” he said. “The clearer it became they had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about the wonder weapon, which would be so powerful that it would provide a turning point in the war.”

“And here we see that in the third month of a full-scale war, Russia is trying to find its ‘wunderwaffe’. Allegedly a laser. All this clearly indicates the complete failure of the invasion.”

The Kremlin claimed its new generation of laser would allow its invasion forces to conserve its arsenal of more expensive long-range missiles.

12:38 PM

More pictures from Vyshyvanka Day

People learn to make traditional embroidered patterns on clothes as they celebrate the Day of the Embroidered Shirt (Vyshyvanka) in Odesa, Ukraine on May 19, 2022.  - Igor Tkachenko/Reuters
People learn to make traditional embroidered patterns on clothes as they celebrate the Day of the Embroidered Shirt (Vyshyvanka) in Odesa, Ukraine on May 19, 2022. - Igor Tkachenko/Reuters
Ukrainians celebrate the Day of the Embroidered Shirt (Vyshyvanka) in Lviv, Ukraine on May 19, 2022.  - Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters
Ukrainians celebrate the Day of the Embroidered Shirt (Vyshyvanka) in Lviv, Ukraine on May 19, 2022. - Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters
Women perform during Vyshyvanka Day celebrations in Lviv, Ukraine on May 19, 2022. - Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters
Women perform during Vyshyvanka Day celebrations in Lviv, Ukraine on May 19, 2022. - Pavlo Palamarchuk/Reuters

12:25 PM

Ukrainian troops still being evacuated from Mariupol, general says

Oleksiy Gromov, deputy chief of the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, has said the evacuation of Ukrainian troops from Mariupol continues.

He said: "In the Mariupol direction, measures are being taken to evacuate our heroes."

Gromov did not provide further details about the evacuation.

12:08 PM

Erdogan says Turkey 'determined' to block Finland and Sweden's Nato bid

Turkey will "say no" to Finland and Sweden's bid for Nato membership, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, Erdoğan was quoted as saying: "We will continue our policy in a determined way. We have told allies that we will say no to Finland and Sweden's Nato membership".

He has accused the two Nordic countries of financing "terrorists" and supplying groups, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Syrian Kurdish YPG, with weapons.

He added that "Nato is a security alliance and we cannot accept terrorists to be in it".

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey on May 18, 2022.  - Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Reuters
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey on May 18, 2022. - Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Reuters

11:49 AM

Ukrainians don traditional clothing for Vyshyvanka Day

Ukraine is marking Vyshyvanka Day today - a celebration of the traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt - with many politicians, TV presenters and citizens proudly showing off their clothing.

The vyshyvanka is one of the best-known symbols of Ukrainian culture, with a history that reaches back several centuries.

Traditional vyshyvankas usually feature elaborate floral patterns down the middle of the front of the shirt. Some patterns carry special meanings, such as hope, love, chastity or fertility.

Different Ukrainian regions have their own patterns, and though the original vyshyvanka is white, it is now available in a wide range of colours.

President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Twitter wearing a vyshyvanka, and described it as a "holy protective amulet" to protect Ukrainians during the war against Russia.

Kristina Korniiuk, 34, (third left) who is originally from Kyiv and fled the Ukraine following the Russian invasion, marks the Ukrainian celebration of Vyshyvanka Day with a giant traditional shirt, near the home of her host Rend Platings (second right) in Cambridge. Kristina was joined by fellow Ukranian's Anastasiia Romaniuk (second left) and sisters Alla Madich (left) and Iryna Madich (third right).  - Joe Giddens/PA
Kristina Korniiuk, 34, (third left) who is originally from Kyiv and fled the Ukraine following the Russian invasion, marks the Ukrainian celebration of Vyshyvanka Day with a giant traditional shirt, near the home of her host Rend Platings (second right) in Cambridge. Kristina was joined by fellow Ukranian's Anastasiia Romaniuk (second left) and sisters Alla Madich (left) and Iryna Madich (third right). - Joe Giddens/PA

11:28 AM

Russia will only open Ukraine's ports if sanctions are eased

Russia will only consider opening access to Ukraine's Black Sea ports if scrapping sanctions against it are also considered, the Foreign Ministry has said.

The ministry's statement comes after the UN's food chief, David Beasley, warned Vladimir Putin that millions of people would die around the world because of Russia's blockade of the ports, which are an important trading hub.

Addressing the Russian president, Beasley said: "If you have any heart at all for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open up those ports".

Earlier on Thursday, the UN's secretary-general, António Guterres, warned that food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine could lead to "malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years".

Ukraine is among the world's top five exporters of important agricultural products like corn, wheat and barley, as well as being a key exporter of sunflower and meal.

11:13 AM

Ukrainian official says ceasefire impossible without 'total withdrawal' of Russian troops

Ukraine's top presidential adviser and member of the negotiating team, Mykhailo Podolyak, has said a ceasefire with Russia is "impossible without [a] total Russian troops withdrawal".

He added that Kyiv is not interested in a new "Minsk", referring to the 2015 Minsk agreement which attempted to create a ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

10:51 AM

Russia expels five Portuguese diplomats

Russia has expelled five Portuguese diplomats in retaliation for the country's expulsion of 10 of Moscow's representatives.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had summoned Madalena Fischer, the Portuguese ambassador in Moscow, and told her Portugal's decision to declare 10 Russian diplomats persona non grata was an "unfriendly step" that warranted a response.

The Portuguese embassy staff in Moscow will be required to leave within 14 days.

It comes after the ministry expelled a total of 85 diplomats – 34 from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy – on Wednesday in response to similar moves by those countries.

10:33 AM

Red Cross registers hundreds of Azovstal prisoners of war

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said it has registered hundreds of Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

The organisation released a statement saying the registration process began on Tuesday and is ongoing.

The registration process involves filling out a form with personal details like name, date of birth and next of kin, with the information subsequently used to keep record of those who have been captured and to help the organisation to keep in touch with families.

The ICRC added that it is not involved in transporting Ukrainian POWs to the places where they will be held, likely to Russian-controlled Donetsk or other controlled regions.

Under the Geneva Convention, the ICRC is permitted access to POWs, and is able to interview them without witness or restriction.

A young man evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol stands surrounded by service members of pro-Russian troops and members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne, in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine on May 6, 2022. - Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
A young man evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol stands surrounded by service members of pro-Russian troops and members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at a temporary accommodation centre in the village of Bezimenne, in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine on May 6, 2022. - Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

10:13 AM

Poland would defend Finland and Sweden in event of attack, says PM

Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said that his nation would defend Sweden and Finland in the event of an attack before they joined Nato.

“I consider the accession of Sweden and Finland to Nato as an important signal of strengthening security in Europe,” he said during a news conference.

“I want to make it clear that in the event of an attack on Sweden or Finland during their accession, Poland will come to their aid.”

09:53 AM

Ukraine’s amputees and the images the world needs to see

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Emilio Morenatti has made two trips to the country in his role as a photographer.

The first, for a month, involved him capturing the start of the invasion and the people fleeing.

The second, a six-week stint after a month at home with his family in Barcelona, was more personal.

As an amputee himself, it was a particularly personal trip for him to meet the innocent citizens that have become collateral damage in the war.

You can take a look at Emilio's astonishing work here.

09:38 AM

UK further sanctions Russian airlines

Russia's Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya Airlines have been targeted with new sanctions to prevent them selling off landing slots at UK airports.

The slots, which are now unused as a result of the ban on Russian airlines, could have been worth around £50 million.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: "As long as (Vladimir) Putin continues his barbarous assault on Ukraine, we will continue to target the Russian economy.

"We've already closed our airspace to Russian airlines. Today we're making sure they can't cash in their lucrative landing slots at our airports.

"Every economic sanction reinforces our clear message to Putin, we will not stop until Ukraine prevails."

09:21 AM

Ukraine today, in pictures

A Russian serviceman controlling the entrance of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol - SERGEI ILNITSKY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock 
A Russian serviceman controlling the entrance of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol - SERGEI ILNITSKY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
A local woman plants vegetables in front of her shelled home in Mala Rohan' village near Kharkiv - SERGEY KOZLOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock 
A local woman plants vegetables in front of her shelled home in Mala Rohan' village near Kharkiv - SERGEY KOZLOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock /Shutterstock
A Russian serviceman patrols the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol - OLGA MALTSEVA /AFP
A Russian serviceman patrols the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol - OLGA MALTSEVA /AFP

09:00 AM

Switzerland to reopen Kyiv embassy

Switzerland is reopening its embassy in Kyiv, with five staff members, including the ambassador, set to return to the Ukrainian capital over the next few days, said the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).

The decision to reopen the embassy after it was temporarily closed two and a half months ago was based on an in-depth analysis of the security situation, added the FDFA.

08:49 AM

Kyiv complains of 'second-class treatment'

Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has criticised the "second-class treatment" of Kyiv by some EU countries,  after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the war-torn country's bid to join the bloc cannot be sped up.

"Strategic ambiguity on Ukraine's European perspective practised by some EU capitals in the past years has failed and must end," Mr Kuleba said on Twitter, saying this had "only emboldened" Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He slammed the "second-class treatment" of Ukraine that he said "hurt feelings of Ukrainians".

08:29 AM

'I went to war - and came back with a dog'

As Danielle Sheridan reported from Ukraine, she fell in love with one of its forgotten victims – and decided to bring her home

If you had to leave your home and all your worldly belongings in an instant to run for your life, as thousands of Ukrainians have, what would you grab? Money, your passport, some spare clothes?

For many Ukrainian families, the one thing they could not leave behind was their pets. Pictures have emerged of refugees carrying cats, dogs and birds as they rush to safety.

But those animals that were abandoned roam the streets in search of food and love. One of these much-loved pets found me, while I was reporting in Ukraine, and I could not leave that dog behind.

Danielle Sheridan and her new dog Andriivka after finding her in Ukraine - Paul Grover/Paul Grover for the Telegraph 
Danielle Sheridan and her new dog Andriivka after finding her in Ukraine - Paul Grover/Paul Grover for the Telegraph

You can read Danielle's heart-warming, and heart-wrenching, tale in full here.

08:10 AM

771 Ukrainian fighters surrendered from Azovstal in last 24 hours - Kremlin

Russia's defence ministry has said 771 Ukrainian fighters have surrendered from the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 1,730 since Monday, RIA reported.

The ministry said 80 of those were wounded.

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters have surrendered from the labyrinth of bunkers and tunnels below the plant, though Moscow and Kyiv have given different estimates on numbers.

07:53 AM

'No shortcuts' to Ukraine EU membership

Ukraine's bid to join the EU cannot be sped up despite the country's invasion by Russia, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said, adding that the bloc must find a 'fast and pragmatic' way to help Kyiv.

"There are no shortcuts on the way to the EU," Mr Scholz said, adding that an exception for Ukraine would be unfair to the Western Balkan countries also seeking membership.

"The accession process is not a matter of a few months or years," he said.

Mr Scholz said he will travel to the Western Balkans before a meeting of the European Council takes place next month, bearing the message that the region belongs in the European Union.

The six Western Balkan countries with EU membership aspirations - Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo - have been engaged in years-long reform process, Mr Scholz told lawmakers in Berlin yesterday.

"Honouring our commitments to them is not just a question of our credibility. Today more than ever, their integration is also in our strategic interests," he said, pointing to the influence of "external powers" in the region, including Russia.

07:31 AM

Andriy Shevchenko becomes ambassador for Ukraine charity

Former Ukraine, Chelsea and AC Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko has a new goal - to help raise funds for rebuilding his country following Russia's invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Mr Shevchenko, whom he met in Kyiv on Wednesday, had been appointed the first ambassador of UNITED24, a fundraising initiative to collect donations for the "restoration and development" of Ukraine.

"Andriy, with his work and sporting achievements, gained great confidence on the international stage," Mr Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

"And now he has a new mission – to tell the world about the events in Ukraine and direct his authority to increase international assistance to our state. I am sure that is all for you it will work!"

Mr Shevchenko, now 45, is widely regarded as his country’s greatest ever player. He played for Ukraine 111 times, scoring 48 goals, and represented Dynamo Kyiv before playing abroad. He was coach of the national team for five years until last August.

06:57 AM

More than 1,000 Mariupol fighters remain: separatist

More than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers including senior commanders, remain inside the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, says Denis Pushilin, a pro-Russian separatist leader.

Russia says 959 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the plant, including 80 wounded, since Monday.

It says the injured are being treated in a hospital in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region, which is controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Ukraine's defence ministry says it will do "everything necessary" to rescue the personnel still in the plant's tunnels.

Kyiv says it hopes to exchange Azovstal fighters for Russian soldiers it is holding.

Mariupol has been devastated by Russian attacks, and a US official says invading forces have carried out atrocities during their attempt to take the city.

"Some Russian officials recognize that despite claiming to be 'liberators' of... Mariupol, Russian forces are carrying out grievous abuses in the city, including beating and electrocuting city officials," the official says.

06:40 AM

Ukraine shells village in Russia's Kursk, killing one

Ukrainian forces shelled a border village in Russia's western region of Kursk at dawn this morning, killing at least one civilian, regional governor Roman Starovoit said.

Shells have hit an alcohol factory in the village of Tyotkino and several other buildings, Mr Starovoit wrote on messaging app Telegram.

"Another enemy attack on Tyotkino, which took place at dawn unfortunately ended in tragedy. At the moment, we know of at least one civilian death," he said, adding that others were wounded and receiving medical attention.

06:18 AM

Latest MoD update

05:50 AM

US backs Nordic Nato bids, Ukraine tries Russian for war crime

President Joe Biden will host the leaders of Finland and Sweden on Thursday to discuss their Nato membership bids, while Ukraine said no military option was left to rescue the soldiers still inside a steel plant besieged by Russian forces.

Moscow's troops have been accused of widespread atrocities against civilians during their devastating campaign, and Ukraine began its first war crimes trial of the conflict on Wednesday with a Russian soldier pleading guilty.

The brutality of the invasion that began on February 24 shook Sweden and Finland, and the neighbours - after decades of military non-alignment - decided to seek Nato membership despite warnings from the Kremlin.

"I warmly welcome and strongly support the historic applications from Finland and Sweden for membership in Nato," Mr Biden said in a statement Wednesday, offering US support against any "aggression" while their bids are considered.

05:47 AM

Ukraine dismisses claim Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant will supply electricity to Russia

Ukraine  has reportedly dismissed the claim by Russia that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant will supply it with electricity.

Russian forces seized the country's largest nuclear power plant on March 4 after heavy shelling and a fire at the plant.

According to the Kyiv Independent, the state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo on Thursday said: “Ukraine’s power system currently has no physical connections with Russia’s power system. Therefore, the supply of electricity from Ukrainian power plants to Russia is currently physically impossible."

05:24 AM

More Ukraine fighters surrender in Mariupol, Russia says

Moscow said nearly 700 more Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Russian-held Mariupol as it shored up a key gain in the south, while the United States became the latest Western country to reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

Ukraine has ordered its garrison in Mariupol to stand down, but the ultimate outcome of Europe's bloodiest battle for decades remains unresolved.

Top commanders of Ukrainian fighters who had made their last stand at the Azovstal steelworks in the port city are still inside the plant, according to the leader of pro-Russian separatists in control of the area, Denis Pushilin, quoted by local news agency DNA on Wednesday.

Ukrainian officials have declined to comment publicly on the fate of the fighters.

Russian Defence Ministry/AFP via Getty Images
Russian Defence Ministry/AFP via Getty Images

04:28 AM

Ukraine shells village in Russia's Kursk, killing one, says regional governor

Ukrainian forces shelled a border village in Russia's western region of Kursk at dawn on Thursday, killing at least one civilian, regional governor Roman Starovoit said.

Shells have hit an alcohol factory in the village of Tyotkino and several other buildings, Starovoit wrote on messaging app Telegram.

03:55 AM

Ukraine officials give conflicting accounts of attack on Russian train

Ukraine's territorial defence force said on Wednesday its fighters had blown up an armoured train carrying Russian troops, but an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelinskiy later said the attack had been confined to rails near the train.

Reuters could not independently verify the defence force's assertion, posted on Facebook, that it had carried out the attack in the occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol.

The city lies in the region of Zaporizhzhia and in a belt of southern Ukrainian land that was occupied by Russian forces after they invaded.

The defence force - the reservist branch of Ukraine's armed forces - said in an online posting that explosives had detonated under a rail car carrying military personnel. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage.

03:26 AM

Japan to double fiscal support for Ukraine to $600 million

Japan will double fiscal aid for Ukraine to $600 million in a coordinated move with the World Bank to back the country's near-term fiscal necessities damaged by Russia's invasion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Thursday.

Japan, a member of the Group of Seven industrialised nations, had previously announced $300 million in loans to Ukraine in April.

02:38 AM

US Senate confirms Biden nominee to be Ukraine ambassador

The US Senate unanimously approved veteran diplomat Bridget Brink on Wednesday to be ambassador to Ukraine, filling a critical post that has been vacant for three years as Washington works to increase support for the government in Kyiv.

Ms Brink was approved by unanimous voice vote.

Both President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats and Republicans had urged Ms Brink's quick confirmation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Mr Brink unanimously earlier on Wednesday, after holding her confirmation hearing just two weeks after Biden announced the nomination on April 25.

01:43 AM

US 'confident' in Nordic Nato bids; Ukraine holds war crimes trial

The United States said Wednesday it is confident Finland and Sweden will become part of Nato, despite vocal Turkish protests - an expansion that would dramatically realign European security in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Reflecting the brutality of the conflict which has reinvigorated the transatlantic alliance, Ukraine held its first war crimes trial since Moscow poured troops across the border beginning February 24, with a 21-year-old Russian soldier pleading guilty to the cold-blooded murder of a Ukrainian civilian.

The launch of Kyiv's judicial reckoning over alleged atrocities committed on its soil after 12 weeks of war and thousands of deaths came as President Vladimir Putin was forced to confront the vexing prospect of NATO sharply expanding its reach on his borders.

01:42 AM

Today's Top Stories

  • Vladimir Putin is “weaponising” global food supplies by stealing grain and destroying agricultural equipment as part of his war in Ukraine, Western officials have said.

  • Mariupol will be rebuilt in the model of Grozny, said the Chechen warlord who led fighters in the brutal siege of the Ukrainian port city

  • Moscow has unveiled a new laser weapon that it claims can destroy satellites 900 miles above the Earth in five seconds

  • Vladimir Putin has deployed his “Terminator” military vehicles in Ukraine, as Russia throws everything in its arsenal at capturing the contested areas in the east.

  • Google’s Russian unit has declared bankruptcy after authorities seized the tech giant’s bank account in the country, making it unable to pay staff