Russians prepare to scale back invasion
Analysis: This could be Ukraine’s moment of maximum peril
Russian soldier runs over his commander with a tank
Putin says Russia has been ‘cancelled’ like JK Rowling
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Russia is pulling back from urban warfare as it tries to “limit its own already considerable losses”, British intelligence officials have said.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russian forces are increasingly reliant on indiscriminate air and artillery bombardments, as they are “proving reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations”.
Its latest intelligence briefing said: “It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses, at the cost of further civilian casualties”.
It comes as Russia signalled it may dial back its war aims to focus on the eastern Donbas region one month into its invasion. It has lost a seventh general in the fighting and faced a counteroffensive in Kherson, the only major city it controls.
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New: Russian troops ‘seize Chernobyl worker town’
Russian forces have taken control of the town of Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live, the governor of Kyiv region Oleksandr Pavlyuk said on Saturday.
In an online statement, Pavlyuk said Russian troops had occupied the hospital in Slavutych and kidnapped the mayor. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
On Friday, Ukraine said its troops had repulsed a first attack by Russian troops closing in on the town.
The UN’s nuclear watchdog also said it was “concerned” by shelling of the area, with staff unable to meet usual shift patterns at the plant, which is still maintained and was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
Kremlin defence minister seen speaking after long public silence
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu was seen speaking publicly for the first time in more than two weeks on Saturday, chairing an army meeting and discussing weapons supplies.
In the video, uploaded on social media by his ministry, Shoigu said he had discussed issues related to the military budget and defence orders with the finance ministry.
“We continue ahead-of-schedule delivery of weaponry and equipment by means of credits. The priorities are long-range high-precision weapons, aircraft equipment and maintenance of engagement readiness of strategic nuclear forces,” said Shoigu.
The meeting was attended by a number of top Russian army officials including the chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, who also had not been seen in public recently.
Shoigu appeared on screen in a video clip of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Security Council on Thursday, but was not shown speaking. Prior to that, he had not been seen in public since March 11.
UK gives encircled Ukrainian cities 25 truckloads of food
Britain is set to provide £2 million in vital food supplies for Ukrainian cities encircled by Russian forces, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said.
Around 25 truckloads of dried food, tinned goods and water will be transported by road and rail following a request by the Ukrainian government.
Warehouses in Poland and Slovakia are being readied to supply the supplies from early next week, with the window of opportunity to supply civilians trapped in besieged cities such as Mariupol and Chernihiv rapidly closing.
It is estimated over 12 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance across Ukraine, with the actual figure likely to be much higher.
Ms Truss said: “We stand firmly with our Ukrainian friends.”
Russia fuelling nuclear arms race, says Zelensky
Russia’s “bragging” about its nuclear weapons is fuelling a dangerous arms race, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky told the Doha Forum on Saturday.
“They are bragging that they can destroy with nuclear weapons not only a certain country but the entire planet,” Mr Zelensky said in a video message to the forum of political and business leaders.
Russia signals less ambitious goals in Ukraine war
Russia has signalled it may dial back its war aims to focus on eastern Ukraine after failing to break the nation’s resistance a month on, including up to 300 feared killed in the bombing of a theatre.
The possible shift came ahead of a planned meeting of US president Joe Biden with Ukrainian refugees in Poland and talks with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Warsaw before he gives a speech on the “brutal war”, the White House said.
Russian president Vladimir Putin had ordered the February invasion to destroy Ukraine’s military and topple pro-Western president Volodymyr Zelensky, bringing the country under Russia’s sway.
But Sergei Rudskoi, a senior general, suggested a considerably reduced “main goal” of controlling Donbas, an eastern region already partly held by Russian proxies.
His surprise statement came as a Western official reported that a seventh Russian general, Lieutenant General Yakov Rezanstev, had died in Ukraine and that a colonel had been “deliberately” killed by his demoralised men.
Moscow’s troops are facing a counteroffensive in Kherson, the only major Ukrainian city under Russian control.
Zelensky calls on energy producers to hike output
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has called on energy producing countries on Saturday to increase output so that Russia cannot use its oil and gas wealth to “blackmail” other nations.
Addressing the Doha Forum international conference via video link, Mr Zelensky said countries such as Qatar could make a contribution to the stabilisation of Europe.
“They can do much to restore justice. The future of Europe depends on your effort. I ask you to increase the output of energy to ensure that everyone in Russia understands that no country can use energy as a weapon and blackmail the world,” he said in translated comments.
The month-long invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Europe’s top gas supplier, has sharpened concerns of disruption to energy supplies and increased scrutiny of European Union countries’ reliance on imported fossil fuels.
Mr Zelensky also said no country is insured against shocks from disruptions to food supply, with Ukraine one of the world’s largest grain producers. “Russian troops are covering fields in Ukraine for miles, they are exploding agrarian equipment,” he said.
Biden to call on ‘free world’ to stand against Putin in Poland speech
US President Joe Biden will argue in a speech in Poland on Saturday that the “free world” opposes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that there is unity among major economies on the need to stop Vladimir Putin, the White House said.
After three days of emergency meetings with allies of the G7, European Council and NATO, and a visit with U.S. troops in Poland, Biden will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Mr Biden, who took office last year after a violently contested election, vowed to restore democracy at home and unite democracies abroad to confront autocrats including the Russian president and China’s leader Xi Jinping.
Putin’s Feb 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special operation”, has tested that promise and threatened to inaugurate a new Cold War three decades after the Soviet Union unravelled.
Six more countries ‘should be denazified’
A Moscow City Duma deputy has suggested that six more countries – Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – should be ‘denazified’, regional media organisation Nexta is reporting.
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Russia conducts military drills on isles disputed with Japan
Russia was conducting drills on islands claimed by Tokyo, Japanese media said on Saturday, days after Moscow halted peace talks with Japan because of its sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s Eastern Military District said it was conducting military drills on the Kuril islands with more than 3,000 troops and hundreds of pieces of army equipment, Russia’s Interfax news agency said Friday.
It did not say where on the island chain, connecting Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula and Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, the drills were taking place. Japanese media said they were on territory the Soviet Union seized at the end of World War Two that is claimed by Tokyo.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office could not be reached outside business hours to comment on the exercises.
Pictured: Flames and smoke rise from a fire following a Russian attack in Kharkiv on Friday
Russia claims it has completed main goals are false, says US think tank
Russia has falsely claimed it has worn down the Ukrainian army, allowing it to focus on its key objective of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk, said a US Think Tank.
Sergei Rudskoi, first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said on Friday in an assessment of the war effort so far that Russian forces have completed “the main tasks of the first stage of the operation.”
The US Institute For The Study of War said the claims were inaccurate and likely aimed at winning public support at home.
“Rudskoi’s comments were likely aimed mainly at a domestic Russian audience and do not accurately or completely capture current Russian war aims and planned operations.
“Russia’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine from the outset was the fictitious threat Moscow claimed Ukrainian forces posed to the people in Russian-occupied Donbas. The Kremlin has reiterated this justification for the war frequently as part of efforts to explain the invasion to its people and build or sustain public support for Putin and the war”
The UK has sanctioned 65 individuals and entities over the war in Ukraine — Latest from the UK Ministry of Defence
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‘ Kherson remains under total Russian control’, reports CNN
The city of Kherson remains under total Russian control, four residents of the city have told CNN.
The claims contrast with earlier media reports citing the Pentagon as saying Ukrainian forces had retaken control of parts of the city.
“Today [I] saw them with their guns at the market, possibly searching vegetables for buying,” one resident said to CNN on Friday evening. “They lose only couple of villages, not towns.”
CNN said the assessment that Ukrainian forces had started to reclaim the city was based on information from two US defence officials claiming images and media reports showed the Ukrainian flag draped from city hall.
Ukraine to build temporary housing for displaced citizens
Ukraine will build temporary housing for its displaced citizens, The Kyiv Independent reports.
“Once we achieve peace, we will begin immediate large-scale reconstruction of our country. But now people need a temporary home,” the newspaper quotes President Volodymyr Zelensky as saying.
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Today’s top stories
The Kremlin has given the first indication that it plans to scale back its invasion of Ukraine as an army chief said its “main goal” was now the “liberation” of the Donbas region on the eastern border with Russia
Mutinous Russian soldiers ran over their own tank commander in protest at their heavy losses
There are growing signs that Ukraine is gaining ground it had lost to Russia, with the invaders now pushed back to positions 20 miles from Kyiv, according to the Ministry of Defence
Authorities in the port city of Mariupol said the death toll from the March 16 bombing of a theatre in which civilians were sheltering was now thought to be 300
The Telegraph has learnt that Joe Biden is prepared to use nuclear weapons first in “extreme circumstances” after he abandoned plans to drastically water down US policy
In a bizarre intervention on Friday, Putin appeared to suggest the West was trying to “cancel” Russia and its history, comparing himself to JK Rowling