Live updates | Putin sends message to Moscow-backed rebels

President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed Russia’s dedication to wrest separatist-held territory from Ukraine in a congratulatory message to the pinnacle of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic in jap Ukraine.

Russia backed the separatists for years and acknowledged them as unbiased on the eve of invading Ukraine.

In a press release launched by the Kremlin on Thursday, Putin mentioned: “I am sure that through our joint efforts we will defend the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” of the Luhansk republic.

Meanwhile, the pinnacle of the Luhansk self-proclaimed republic, Leonid Pasechnik, mentioned Thursday that it might by no means return to Ukrainian management and that the majority of its residents need it to change into a part of Russia.

Russian migration authorities additionally reported that 15,000 folks had crossed from Ukraine’s Donbas area to Russia’s Rostov area in 24 hours, in line with Russian state information company Tass. The quantity couldn’t be verified and the circumstances of the crossings have been unclear.



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– Follow all AP tales on Russia’s battle on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine



KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s army says Russian forces are persevering with airstrikes on the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol and urgent their advance on cities in jap Ukraine.

In its operational assertion for Day 78 of the battle, the Ukrainian army’s General Staff says Russian forces have additionally fired artillery and grenade launchers at Ukrainian troops within the route of Zaporizhzhia, which has been a refuge for civilians fleeing Mariupol.

It didn’t elaborate on the newest motion round Azovstal.

The army says Russian forces additionally fired artillery at Ukrainian items north of the town of Kharkiv within the northeast, and reported Russian strikes within the Chernihiv and Sumy areas to the north.

Across the Donetsk and Luhansk areas of jap Ukraine, website of sustained combating for the reason that battle started, the Ukrainian army famous “partial success” in Russia’s advance. It mentioned Ukrainian forces repulsed 9 Russian assaults and destroyed a number of drones and army automobiles. The data couldn’t be independently verified.


KYIV, Ukraine – An adviser to the Mariupol mayor mentioned Wednesday that Russian forces have blocked all evacuation routes out of the town.

The adviser, Petro Andriushchenko, mentioned there have been few residence buildings match to dwell in after the weeks of bombardment and little or no meals or ingesting water.

Andriushchenko mentioned some residents who’ve remained within the metropolis are cooperating with the Russian occupying forces in change for meals.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Ukraine has provided to launch Russian prisoners of battle if Russia will enable the badly injured fighters to be evacuated from the Mariupol metal plant.

Russian forces have surrounded the plant, the final bastion of Ukrainian resistance within the southern port metropolis.

Vereshchuk mentioned no settlement has been reached however negotiations have been underway. The fighters trapped within the plant have refused to give up to the Russians, saying they concern being tortured or killed.


WASHINGTON – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo mentioned a ban on gross sales of semiconductors and different expertise to Russia by the U.S. and its allies is having a critical influence on Russia’s capability to fabricate army tools.

“We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian equipment, military equipment, on the ground, it’s filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” Raimondo mentioned Wednesday throughout a Senate listening to, including that she met a couple of weeks in the past with Ukraine’s prime minister.

Raimondo mentioned two of Russia’s tank manufacturing crops have shut and plenty of of its auto makers have furloughed employees and closed down.

“And so the point is, we are having a very serious effect,” she mentioned. “What we need to do in order to continue this is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.”

Raimondo mentioned U.S. exports of expertise to Russia are down practically 70% since late February when the Biden administration, in coordination with European and Asian allies, imposed sanctions and export controls on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.


WASHINGTON – Final congressional approval of a $40 billion Ukraine support invoice appears sure inside days, in line with some lawmakers.

The Senate’s high Republicans mentioned Wednesday they anticipate sturdy GOP backing for the House-passed measure. That will sign a bipartisan, heightened dedication to serving to thwart the bloody Russian invasion.

In his nightly video handle Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned funds from the help invoice will enable Ukraine to get extra weapons and tools plus assist examine battle crimes by Russia.

The invoice additionally would assist regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped abroad and supply $5 billion to deal with international meals shortages attributable to the battle’s crippling of Ukraine’s usually strong manufacturing of many crops.

The new measure consists of $6 billion to arm and prepare Ukrainian forces, $8.7 billion to revive American shops of weapons shipped to Ukraine and $3.9 billion for U.S. forces deployed to the realm.

There’s additionally $8.8 billion in financial help for Ukraine, $4 billion to assist Ukraine and allies finance arms and tools purchases and $900 million for housing, schooling and different assist for Ukrainian refugees within the U.S.


BERLIN – The U.N. nuclear company says it’s once more receiving distant knowledge from the Chernobyl energy plant in Ukraine following an interruption attributable to the Russian occupation of the location.

The International Atomic Energy Agency mentioned late Wednesday that knowledge transmission was re-established following a go to by its inspectors and technicians in April, after Russian forces withdrew.

The company mentioned it was the primary time in two months that it has acquired distant knowledge from all nuclear energy crops and spent gas storage amenities in Ukraine the place monitoring methods are in place.

Its head, Rafael Mariano Grossi, mentioned this was “a very important step for the IAEA to continue to implement safeguards in Ukraine.”

Grossi cautioned, although, that on-site verification on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant “continues to be challenging owing to the presence of Russian forces and Rosatom personnel at the site,” calling the state of affairs “unsustainable.”

Grossi mentioned he has proposed main an skilled go to to Zaporizhzhya “after the necessary consultations and at the earliest possible opportunity.”


MOSCOW – The governor of a Russian area close to Ukraine says that at the least one civilian has been killed and one other six have been wounded within the Ukrainian shelling of a village near the border.

Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov mentioned that the village of Solokhi got here below shelling from the Ukrainian aspect late Wednesday. He mentioned that the village residents will likely be evacuated.

Gladkov’s account couldn’t be independently verified. Russian authorities within the areas close to Ukraine have repeatedly reported incidents when border areas got here below Ukrainian shelling.


KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has accused Russia of stealing the nation’s grain and attempting to promote a few of it at international markets.

The ministry mentioned in Wednesday’s commentary that the stealing of Ukrainian grain quantities to looting.

It warned nations that buy Russian grain that a few of its shipments might comprise the grain stolen from Ukraine, making its consumers potential accomplices.

The ministry cited official estimates indicating that Russia already might have stolen 400,000-500,000 metric tons of grain that price over $100 million. It charged that “practically all ships leaving Sevastopol with a load of grain are carrying the grain stolen from Ukraine.”

It urged the worldwide neighborhood to toughen the sanctions towards Russia.


TURIN, Italy – A Ukrainian band that’s competing on this yr’s Eurovision Song Contest turned out in a Turin park for a rally with a couple of dozen of their compatriots to specific solidarity for his or her war-ravaged homeland.

Ahead of Wednesday night time’s competitors, the Kalush Orchestra posed for pictures with some 50 Ukrainians who dwell in Italy.

Each of the rally’s contributors put a hand to the center in an indication of devotion to Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra this week was one of many entrants advancing to the finals of the wildly standard European annual songfest, whose winner will likely be selected Saturday.

The Ukrainians rallied behind a stage the place free concert events by a number of the musical teams from among the many 35 nations sending entries are held nightly on the sidelines of the particular competitors.

The upbeat entry by Kalush Orchestra for the competitors is a track that was composed by the band’s front-man as a tribute to his mom.

But the track, “Stefania,” has been remodeled to a sort of anthem to Ukraine, which was invaded by its highly effective neighbor Russia on Feb. 24.

The track shortly turned a sentimental favourite for a lot of of Eurovision’s followers.

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