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Russia-Ukraine war live: Putin’s forces ‘pushed back’ in key Kharkiv town

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Putin sends message to West as he is sworn in for fifth term as Russian president

Ukraine has “partially pushed back” Russian forces in the key frontier town of Vovchansk just a few miles from the border, the military has reported.

The town has become Ukraine’s primary defensive line against Russia’s advancing forces in the Kharkiv region since the Kremlin launched an assault last Friday, opening up a second front after more than two years of war.

In its latest update, Ukraine’s general staff claimed on Facebook that their forces had fought back against the Kremlin’s troops, who recently entered the north and northwest sectors of the town. The claim came after a local police official from Vovchansk said Russia was “taking positions on the streets” of the town.

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s press secretary announced that the leader had cancelled all his foreign trips to concentrate on the developing situation on the frontline.

“Volodymyr Zelensky has instructed that all international events scheduled for the coming days be postponed and new dates coordinated,” said Sergii Nykyforov, Mr Zelensky’s press secretary, on Facebook.

Mr Zelensky was due to visit Spain and Portugal later this week to discuss bilateral agreements.

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US will send artillery, rockets and ammunition in $1bn arms package to Ukraine

The US government has unveiled a $1bn arms package for Ukraine which will include additional 155mm artillery pieces and 36,000 rounds of ammunition to go with them along with more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and a pair of Harpoon anti-ship missile systems for coastal defence purposes.

Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defence J. Todd Breasseale announced the security assistance package in a statement released by the Defence Department on Wednesday.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 16:34

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Russian strikes injure at least 17 in Ukraine’s south

Russian airstrikes on Ukraine‘s southern cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson injured at least 17 people, local officials said on Wednesday.

Eleven people, including at least one teenager, received injuries when Russia struck Kherson using aviation, the regional governor said on Telegram. Residential buildings and an educational facility were damaged, he said. Separately, a Russian missile attack caused a heavy fire in a car repair service in Mykolaiv, emergency services said on Telegram. At least six people were wounded.

Russia denies targeting civilians but thousands have been killed and injured in its strikes during the 27-month-old full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 15:30

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Estonia parliament backs using frozen Russian assets for Ukraine reparations

Estonia’s parliament has approved a proposal allowing the use of frozen Russian assets to pay compensation for war damage in Ukraine.

Last week European Union ambassadors agreed to use windfall profits from Russian central bank assets frozen in the EU for Ukraine’s defence. The decision could be formally adopted next week.

“We took a big step towards creating a precedent Europe could follow,” Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said.

The Group of Seven countries (G7) froze around $300 billion worth of Russian financial assets soon after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Since then, the EU and other G7 countries have debated how and whether to use the funds to help Ukraine.

Two thirds of 101-member Estonian parliament supported the law, it said in a statement.

The Estonian law would allow frozen assets of individuals and companies which contributed to Russian illegal actions to be used as “an advance payment for the damages Russia owes Ukraine”, the parliament said.

To do that, Estonia would need to receive a request to use the assets, the connection of their owner to illegal acts must be sufficiently proven. The asset owner can challenge their use for Ukraine in Estonian courts.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 15:00

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Ukrainian band told they would play with Neil Young ‘disappointed’ after Antony Blinken walks out

A Ukrainian guitarist has said he was left “disappointed” after being told that he’d be playing Rockin’ in the Free World with Neil Young – before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken came on stage.

Just hours after declaring that Ukraine is “not alone” on the political stage on Tuesday, the secretary of state picked up a guitar performed to a live audience.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 14:30

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Ukraine’s military says it ‘partially pushed back’ Russian forces from Vovchansk

Ukraine‘s forces have “partially pushed back” Russian forces from the town of Vovchansk in Kharkiv region on Wednesday, the Ukrainian military said.

In an update on the battlefield situation it said that active combat clashes raged on in north and northwestern parts of the town and a total of 18 Russian assaults were repelled.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 14:00

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Biden could meet Ukraine’s Zelenskiy in coming weeks, Blinken says

US President Joe Biden could meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in the coming weeks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said during a press conference in Kyiv.

Mr Blinken added that Washington strongly supported a planned Ukrainian peace summit in Switzerland set for next month and would be “robustly represented” there.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hold a joint press conference in Kyiv (REUTERS)

Tom Watling15 May 2024 13:30

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Russian oil still ending up in UK despite sanctions, MPs told

Russian oil is still ending up in the UK despite sanctions, a committee heard.

The import, acquisition, and supply of Russian oil and oil products into the UK was banned in December 2022.

G7 countries also agreed to cap the price of Russian oil and petroleum products, more generally, to reduce Vladimir Putin’s ability to finance his war in Ukraine.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 13:00

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Russia will treat any foreign mercenaries sent to Ukraine as targets, Zakharova says

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said that Moscow would consider any foreign mercenaries and foreign weapons sent to Ukraine to be legitimiate military targets.

Ms Zakharova was commenting on reports this week that NATO member Estonia is weighing whether to send troops to Ukraine. Similar proposals have been floated by other European countries, including France.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov holds annual press conference in Moscow (REUTERS)

Tom Watling15 May 2024 12:30

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Russia arrests another senior Defense Ministry official in bribery charges amid broader shake-up

Russian authorities arrested another senior Defense Ministry official on charges of bribery, authorities said Tuesday, days after President Vladimir Putin replaced the defense minister in a Cabinet shake-up and amid expectations of further purges at the ministry.

The Investigative Committee, Russia’s top law enforcement body, wrote in a statement that Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, the chief of the ministry’s main personnel directorate, was arrested on charges of bribery and placed in custody pending investigation and trial.

Tom Watling15 May 2024 12:00

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Russia says Cameron’s Ukraine remark was ‘absolutely crazy’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called remarks by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron saying Ukraine could deploy British weapons in attacks on Russian territory crazy, anti-Russian and aggressive.

Ms Zakharova was speaking at a news briefing in Moscow.

Cameron, during a visit to Kyiv on 3 May, told Reuters that Ukraine had a right to use the weapons provided by Britain to strike targets inside Russia, and that it was up to Kyiv whether or not to do so.

His comment prompted Moscow to warn London that it could hit back at British military installations and equipment both inside Ukraine and elsewhere if British weapons were used by Ukraine to strike Russian territory.

Britain’s David Cameron leaves after attending a cabinet meeting in Downing Street on Tuesday (AP)

Tom Watling15 May 2024 11:15

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