The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, April 23. Click here for updates from April 22.
Russia Destroys US and EU Weapons Delivered to Ukraine, Moscow Says
The Russian defense ministry said it used high-precision missiles on Saturday to destroy a logistics terminal in the Black Sea port city of Odesa where a large number of weapons supplied by the United States and European nations were being stored.
It also said Russian forces had killed up to 200 Ukrainian troops and destroyed more than 30 vehicles on Saturday.
In Odesa, at least eight people were killed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. Two missiles struck a military facility and two residential buildings, and two more were destroyed on Saturday, the Ukrainian armed forces said.
The death toll could not be independently verified. The last big strike on or near Odesa was in early April.
Blinken, Austin to Visit Kyiv and Hold Talks with Zelenskyy
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are to meet Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Sunday, the Ukrainian president said Saturday.
The U.S. top diplomat and Pentagon chief will hold talks with Zelenskyy and discuss what kinds of weapons are to be provided to Ukraine to confront the Russian offensive, the Ukrainian leader said during a press conference.
The visit was announced after President Joe Biden add an extra $800 million in military aid to Ukraine.
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Russia Investigates Media Report on Presence of British SAS Special Forces in Ukraine
Russia’s top state investigative body said on Saturday it was looking into a Russian media report alleging that sabotage experts from Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS) have been deployed to western Ukraine.
The SAS is an elite military force trained to conduct special operations, surveillance, and counter-terrorism. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday quoted a Russian security source as saying about 20 SAS members had been sent to the Lviv region.
In a statement, the Investigative Committee said it would follow up on the report that they had been sent in “to assist the Ukrainian special services in organizing sabotage on the territory of Ukraine.”
The British Ministry of Defense had no immediate comment on the Russian investigation in response to a Reuters request.
Britain said it sent military trainers to Ukraine earlier this year to instruct local forces in using anti-tank weapons but the British government said on Feb. 17—a week before Russia’s invasion—that it had pulled out all troops except those needed to protect its ambassador.
It was not clear what steps the Investigative Committee planned to take in response to any SAS involvement in Ukraine. But the investigation into the possible presence of forces from a NATO country is significant, given that Russia has issued warnings to the West not to get in the way of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Russian Space Chief Warns of Possible Trigger for World War III
An attack against a spacecraft could usher in the next global war, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s national space agency Roscosmos, said on Saturday.
“One must keep in mind that the destruction of a foreign spacecraft means World War III. It’s a casus belli, and there’s no doubt about that,” Rogozin said, using a Latin term for a formal legal reason to start a war.
Rogozin was commenting on Washington’s decision to stop conducting anti-satellite missile tests. Announcing the move on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris called the destruction of satellites during such tests “reckless and irresponsible” because it leaves dangerous space debris.
The Roscosmos chief, however, argued that the United States is now “pretending to be doves” because it had already conducted all the necessary tests. “This move should, therefore, be strictly viewed as propaganda,” he said.
Rogozin argued that the Boeing X-37, an unmanned U.S. shuttle-like spacecraft currently orbiting the Earth, could potentially be used for spying and carrying weapons of mass destruction. He said that a proposal by Russia and China to sign a treaty banning the placement of weapons in outer space was met with “dead silence” in Washington.
The stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space has been internationally banned since 1967.
General Accuses Boris Johnson of Disclosing Military Secrets
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “tempting evil” with his statements about the training of Ukrainian troops abroad amid the conflict with Russia, Polish General Waldemar Skrzypczak, who advises the defense minister, said on Friday.
During a visit to India earlier this week, Johnson told journalists that “we are currently training Ukrainians in Poland in the use of anti-aircraft defense, and actually in the UK in the use of armored vehicles.”
Skrzypczak, who headed one of the multinational divisions in Iraq in the mid-2000s, told Polish newspaper Fakt that “when we were on missions abroad it was hard to imagine that one of the politicians would talk about our plans or training on television.”
By making the comments, Johnson “reveals military secrets” to Russia, the general said. “Training is a military matter and must be kept under wraps. The man should … think before saying such things.”
The former commander of Poland’s land forces called the prime minister’s behavior “extremely irresponsible,” warning that it could lead to “disastrous consequences.”
“The prime minister may not be aware of this, but with such statements he endangers the success of the entire military operation, as well as the safety of soldiers,” Skrzypczak said.
Russia to Deploy Sarmat Missiles by Autumn in ‘Historic’ Nuclear Upgrade
Russia said on Saturday it plans to deploy its newly tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles by autumn.
The target stated by Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos space agency, is an ambitious one as Russia reported its first test-launch only on Wednesday and Western military experts say more will be needed before the missile can be deployed.
The Sarmat is capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys, and of striking targets thousands of miles away in the United States or Europe.
This week’s test, after years of delays due to funding and technical issues, marks a show of strength by Russia at a time when the war in Ukraine has sent tensions with the United States and its allies soaring to their highest levels since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
Rogozin said in an interview with Russian state TV that the missiles would be deployed with a unit in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, about 3,000 km (1,860 miles) east of Moscow.
He said they would be placed at the same sites and in the same silos as the Soviet-era Voyevoda missiles they are replacing, something that would save “colossal resources and time.”
The launch of the “super-weapon” was a historic event that would guarantee the security of Russia’s children and grandchildren for the next 30 to 40 years, Rogozin added.
Western concern about the risk of nuclear war has increased since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 with a speech in which he pointedly referred to Moscow’s nuclear forces and warned that any attempt to get in Russia’s way “will lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
Japan, Russia Reach Agreement on Fishing Quotas Amid Ukraine-Related Sanctions
Japan and Russia have reached an agreement on Tokyo’s fishing quotas for salmon and trout spawned in Russian rivers, despite Moscow’s anger over the spate of economic sanctions that Tokyo imposed over its invasion of Ukraine.
Japan’s Fisheries Agency said Saturday that the two countries agreed on Tokyo’s fishing quota of 2,050 tons of salmon and trout within its exclusive economic zone, with the agreement expected to be signed next week, Kyodo News reported.
Under the agreement, Japan will pay an annual cooperation fee of between 200 million yen ($1.56 million) and 300 million yen ($2.34 million) to Russia, depending on the eventual tonnage of the catch. A cooperation fee is paid to the country where the fish were spawned.
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Ukraine President Spoke With UK’s Johnson About ‘New Phase’ of Military Aid
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson about a “new phase” of military aid, including the provision of heavy weapons, the president’s deputy chief of staff Andriy Sybiga said on Saturday.
Speaking on national television, Sybiga said the pair also talked about further financial support for Ukraine on the call.
Zelenskyy: Allies Finally Delivering Weapons Kyiv Asked For
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday said allies were finally delivering the weapons that Kyiv had asked for, adding the arms would help save the lives of thousands of people.
In a late-night video address, Zelenskyy also said comments earlier in the day by a Russian commander about the need to link up with Moldova showed Moscow wanted to invade other countries.
Ukraine: Missile Attack Kills 5 in Odesa
An adviser to Ukraine’s president says five people were killed in a missile attack in the Black Sea port city of Odesa.
Ukraine presidential chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, provided the information Saturday.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister earlier said Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at the city.
Anton Gerashchenko said in a Telegram post on Saturday that Ukrainian forces were able to shoot down several missiles, but at least one landed and exploded.
US Warns Russia of ‘Astronomical’ Nuclear Price
Russia would pay an “astronomical” price should its President Vladimir Putin order the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, said on Friday amid the ongoing Russian offensive.
In an interview for the Ukrainian outlet European Pravda, Nuland was asked to assess the possibility of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons. She responded that she could not rule out such a “catastrophic scenario” as Putin “has already ordered” what, she alleged, were “brutal war crimes,” and the world must be prepared for the worst. At the same time, Nuland stressed, the consequences of such steps would be catastrophic for Russia and for Putin personally.
She refused to provide any details about the potential response from the West, saying instead that use of nuclear weapons would take the situation to a “fundamentally new level” where the price will be “simply astronomical.”
Asked by a journalist if Kyiv can rely on its Western partners’ support in a worst-case scenario, Nuland reassured Ukraine that it would not be left alone. Meanwhile, the under secretary of state said, the United States would continue to provide Ukraine with military assistance. She revealed that Washington has begun supplying Kyiv with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and would do its best to keep up with Ukraine’s needs.
Nuland’s strongly-worded warnings came just two days after the Pentagon said that at this point it does not see a need to change the country’s nuclear posture. The U.S. Department of Defense spokesman’s statement followed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s claims that Moscow could use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Pentagon Seeking Info From US Industry on Ukraine-Ready Systems
The Pentagon is looking for new avenues for U.S. industry to accelerate production and build more capacity for proven, effective weapons that require minimal training and can be rapidly exported to Ukraine, according to a government website posting on Friday.
The Department of Defense posted a request for information on SAM.gov that had an initial response deadline of May 6 and sought information on weapons or commercial capabilities related to air defense, anti-armor, anti-personnel, coastal defense, counter battery, unmanned aerial systems, and communications like radios or satellite internet.
Germany Should Stop Sending Weapons to Ukraine: Public Figures
Further military aid to Ukraine would only lead to an uncontrollable escalation of hostilities and prolong the suffering of the people caught up in the fighting, a group of German politicians and public figures have warned Chancellor Olaf Scholz in an open letter. By providing arms to Kyiv, Germany and other NATO nations “have de facto made themselves a war party,” the letter published by the Berliner Zeitung on Friday has said.
The co-authors of the letter, which include the ex-vice president of the Bundestag, Antje Vollmer, and a former U.N. assistant secretary general, Hans-Christof Graf von Sponeck, have said that Ukraine has “become the battlefield for the conflict between NATO and Russia over the security order in Europe,” which is now waged “at the expense of the Ukrainian people.”
If the conflict is not stopped quickly, it will end up in “another big war” similar to Word War I, the letter warns, adding that this time nuclear weapons might be used, bringing “widespread devastation and the end of human civilization.” Avoiding further destruction and escalation should be an “absolute priority,” it adds.
The co-authors, who also include a former German MP, Norman Paech, as well as an ex-director of the Center for Conflict Research in Marburg, Johannes Becker, maintain that NATO’s military support only delays a diplomatic solution, fueling the resistance of the Ukrainian army that “has little chance of winning.” Instead, steps to end the bloodshed must be taken, they argue.
Russia Reveals Crew Losses From Sunken Warship
At least one person was killed and another 27 are missing after the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, sunk earlier this month, according to Russian state media.
Another 396 crew members were evacuated to nearby ships and sent on to Sevastopol, a city in Crimea, Russia’s TASS news agency reported. The Russian government, as of Tuesday, had not previously acknowledged any casualties.
The Moskva, a guided-missile cruiser, sunk on April 14, though the cause remains disputed.
Ukraine says it hit the Moskva with anti-ship cruise missiles, which sparked a fire that detonated stored ammunition. The Moskva was armed with a range of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as well as torpedoes, naval guns, and missile defense systems, meaning it would have had massive amounts of explosives aboard.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, however, says a fire of unknown origin detonated the ammunition and the resulting explosions left the Moskva with structural damage. It says the warship then sank amid rough seas as it was being towed to a nearby port.
Photos and a short video clip emerged early Monday on social media showing the Moskva badly damaged and on fire in the hours before it sank. The images show the Moskva listing to one side, with black holes from possible missile puncture marks, and significant scarring just above the waterline on the port (left) side in the middle of the vessel. The Kremlin on Monday said it had seen the photos of the Moskva but that they could not verify them.
Ukraine: Russians Trying to Storm Steel Mill
An adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office says Russian forces are attacking a steel plant that is the last defense stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city of Mariupol.
Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said during a briefing on Saturday that the Russian forces have resumed airstrikes on Azovstal and were trying to storm it.
Arestovich’s statement came two days after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin that the whole of Mariupol, with the exception of Azovstal, had been “liberated” by the Russians.
Putin ordered the Russian military not to storm the plant and instead to block it off in an apparent attempt to stifle the remaining pocket of resistance there.
Lviv Announces Curfew Starting Easter Night
Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy has announced a curfew starting on Orthodox Easter night.
Citing “new intelligence,” Kozytskyy said the curfew would run from 11 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday, and then every day between those hours until further notice.
Kozytskyy said the church leadership is in support of the decision and that all churches in the region will be postponing their Easter night services until the morning hours.
Civilian Evacuation Effort Set for Mariupol
Efforts to evacuate civilians to safer areas will continue in Ukraine on Saturday, the country’s officials said.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on the Telegram messaging app there will be another attempt to evacuate women, children, and the elderly from the strategic port city of Mariupol, which has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks.
The Kremlin earlier this week declared that Mariupol has been “liberated,” with the exception of the Azovstal steel mill, the last pocket of resistance where Ukrainian troops are holed up.
Vereshchuk said that “if everything goes according to plan,” the evacuation in Mariupol will begin at midday on Saturday. Many previous attempts to evacuate civilians from the city have failed.
The governor of the eastern Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said on Telegram that an evacuation train will depart Saturday from the eastern city of Pokrovsk. Residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which comprise Ukraine’s industrial heartland known as Donbas, will be able to take the train free of charge.
It will bring them to the Western city of Chop near Ukraine’s border with Slovakia and Hungary, according to Haidai.
US Convening Talks on Ukraine’s Defense Needs
The Pentagon says U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will convene a meeting next week in Germany of defense officials and military leaders from more than 20 countries to discuss Ukraine’s immediate and long-term defense needs.
The Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said Friday that about 40 nations, including NATO members, were invited and that responses are still arriving for the session to be held Tuesday at Ramstein air base. He did not identify the nations that have agreed to attend but said more details will be provided in coming days.
The meeting comes as Russia gears up for what is expected to be a major offensive in eastern Ukraine.
The agenda will include an updated assessment of the Ukraine battlefield as well as discussion of efforts to continue a steady flow of weapons and other military aid, Kirby said. It will include consultations on Ukraine’s post-war defense needs but is not expected to consider changes in the U.S. military posture in Europe, he said.
Russia Says Ukrainian Fighters ‘Securely Blockaded’ at Mariupol Steel Plant
Russia’s defense ministry said on Friday that Ukrainian fighters and foreign mercenaries had been “securely blockaded” at the Azovstal steel plant where they have been holding out in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
President Vladimir Putin had ordered his defense minister on Thursday to block off the vast Azovstal complex “so not even a fly can get through” rather than try to storm it.
The defense ministry also said Russia had hit dozens of targets in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions of Ukraine on Friday.
“All remnants of the Ukrainian ‘Azov’ Nazis, together with foreign mercenaries from the United States and European countries, are securely blockaded on the territory of the Azovstal plant,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The Nazis are ignoring our demands to release the women and children allegedly with them to travel freely in any direction.”
Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 with the stated aim of demilitarizing and “denazifying” the country.
Ukraine Says Shelling of Eastern Luhansk’s Cities Intensifying
All the Ukrainian-controlled cities in the eastern region of Luhansk were being shelled by Russian forces on Saturday and the barrage was intensifying, the region’s governor Serhiy Haidai said on television.
He claimed Ukrainian forces were leaving some settlements there in order to regroup, but that the move did not amount to a critical setback. Russia denies targeting civilian areas.
UK Claims Russian Forces Made No Major Gains in the Last 24 Hours
Russian forces have made no major gains in the last 24 hours despite increased activity, as Ukrainian counterattacks continue to hinder their efforts, British military intelligence claimed on Saturday.
Despite Russia’s claimed conquest of the port city of Mariupol, heavy fighting continues to frustrate Moscow’s attempts to capture the city, impeding their progress in the Donbas region, the Ministry of Defence claimed on Twitter.
Reuters could not immediately verify the report.
Kyiv Accuses Moscow of ‘Imperialism’ After Russia Flags Interest in South Ukraine
Moscow wants to take full control over southern Ukraine, a Russian general said on Friday, a statement Ukraine said gave the lie to Russia’s previous assertions that it had no territorial ambitions.
Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying full control over southern Ukraine would give it access to Transnistria, a breakaway Russian-occupied part of Moldova in the west.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Minnekayev’s statement showed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “intended only as a beginning.”
On Twitter, Ukraine’s defense ministry said Russia’s goal of the “second phase” of the war is “simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine. Imperialism as it is.”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter declined specific comment on Minnekayev’s statement but said Washington firmly supported Moldova’s sovereignty and was “clear-eyed” about events on the ground. “No one should be fooled by the Kremlin’s announcements,” Porter said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment when asked if Russia had expanded the goals of its operation and how Moscow saw the political future of southern Ukraine.
Russia Says It Shot Down Ukrainian Fighter Jet in Kharkiv Region
Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday that its forces had shot down a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet and destroyed three MI-8 helicopters at an airfield in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.
There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine regarding the Russian claims.
G20 Cannot Function With Russia at the Table, Canada Claims
The Group of 20 major economies cannot effectively function as long as Russia remains a member, Canada’s finance minister claimed on Friday after a week of protests against Moscow’s war in Ukraine at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington.
Discord over Russia’s presence at the meetings has been on display all week, with officials from the United States, Canada, Britain, and other Western countries staging walkouts three days in a row whenever Russian officials spoke.
The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, who met in Washington on Wednesday, failed to agree on its traditional communique outlining economic policy goals as Russia blocked language condemning its invasion of Ukraine.
The IMF steering committee and the World Bank-IMF Development Committee also failed to issue joint statements.
“The G20 can’t function effectively with Russia at the table,” Chrystia Freeland, Canadian minister of finance who is of Ukrainian descent, told a news conference with Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko in Washington.
The tensions have called into question the effectiveness of the G20, which includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine, as well as China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa, which have not joined Western-led sanctions against Russia over the conflict.
This year’s G20 host country Indonesia is still optimistic that progress can be made on a number of issues despite the tensions, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told Reuters in an interview.
“Even with a walk out, we all agree” on the substance of work that needs to be done, Indrawati said.
Indrawati said she is more focused on “grassroots” technical work underlying issues such as strengthening a G20 common debt framework for poor countries, and creating a new financing mechanism for future pandemic needs, than issuing a communique at the present stage.
With other G20 finance meetings scheduled for July and October and a leaders summit in November, Indrawati said there was ample time to continue progress.
“If there is no forum at all, then the world is going to be in a much worse place,” with each country setting policy without regard for others.
Russia Says It Plans Full Control of Donbas and Southern Ukraine; Moldova Summons Russian Ambassador
Russia plans to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine during the second phase of what it calls its special military operation, the deputy commander of Russia’s central military district said on Friday, reported Russian news agencies.
The Interfax and TASS news agencies cited him as saying that full control of southern Ukraine would improve Russian access to Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transdniestria, which borders Ukraine.
“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way to Transdniestria, where there is also evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed,” TASS quoted Minnekayev as saying at a meeting in Russia’s central Sverdlovsk region.
Moldova’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the Russian ambassador to express “deep concern” about the remarks.
“These statements are unfounded and contradict the position of the Russian Federation supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic of Moldova,” it said on its website.
“During the meeting, it was reiterated that the republic of Moldova … is a neutral state and this principle must be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation.”
Ukraine: Russian Offensive Continues in East
The Ukraine military’s general staff says that Russian forces continue their “offensive operations” in eastern Ukraine with the goal of defeating Ukrainian forces, establishing full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and securing “a land route between these territories and the occupied Crimea.”
Ukrainian forces in the past 24 hours repelled eight Russian attacks in the two regions, destroying nine tanks, 18 armored units and 13 vehicles, a tanker, and three artillery systems, the general staff said on its Facebook page on Saturday morning.
Russian forces continue to partially block and shell Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and are active in the area of Izyum, the update said.
In the strategic port city of Mariupol, Russian troops “continue to blockade” Ukrainian units in the area of the Azovstal steelworks, the last remaining stronghold, and “launch air strikes on the city, including with the use of long-range aircraft,” the post said, adding that an engineering unit arrived in Mariupol in order to demine the port infrastructure.
UN Chief to Meet Putin and Zelenskyy Next Week
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow next week to meet Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and then head to Ukraine for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Guterres will head to Moscow on Tuesday and meet Putin as well as having a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Eri Kaneko, Guterres’ associate spokesperson, told a news briefing in New York on Friday.
“He hopes to talk about what can be done to bring peace to Ukraine urgently,” Kaneko said.
He will meet with Zelenskyy on Thursday, foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and staff at UN agencies to discuss the scaling up of humanitarian assistance efforts, the U.N. spokesperson’s office said in a statement.
Aldgra Fredly, Allen Zhong, CNN, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.