Live: Russia says it targeted Kyiv rocket plant during UN chief’s visit

Live: Russia says it targeted Kyiv rocket plant during UN chief’s visit


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that peace talks with Moscow were close to collapse due to public anger over atrocities allegedly committed by Russian troops. Stiff resistance from Ukrainian troops and caution on Russia’s part after its forces failed to capture Kyiv has led to Moscow’s “slow and uneven progress” in the Donbas region, according to a Pentagon official. Catch up with the latest developments on FRANCE 24’s liveblog. All times are in Paris time [GMT+2].

10:45pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky sees risk that Russia talks will end

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday said there was a  risk that peace talks with Moscow would end and blamed public anger over what he said were atrocities by Russian troops, Interfax Ukraine reported.

“People (Ukrainians) want to kill them. When that kind of attitude exists, it’s hard to talk about things,” Interfax quoted Zelensky as telling Polish journalists.

10:07pm: Ukraine goes after suspected collaborators

Ukrainian authorities are cracking down on anyone suspected of aiding Russian troops under laws enacted by Ukraine’s parliament and signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky after the February 24 invasion.

Offenders face up to 15 years in prison for acts of collaborating with the invaders or showing public support for them.

Not all Ukrainians oppose the invasion, and pro-Moscow sentiment is more common among Russian-speaking residents of the Donbas, the industrial region in the east.

Some businessmen, civic and state officials and members of the military are among those who have gone over to the Russian side, and Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations said more than 200 criminal cases on collaboration have been opened. Zelensky has even stripped two generals of their rank, accusing them of treason.

9:17pm: Russia does not consider itself at war with NATO, says Lavrov

Russia does not consider itself to be at war with NATO over Ukraine since such a development would increase the risks of a nuclear war, RIA news agency cited Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Friday.

RIA also said Lavrov told the Dubai-based Al Arabiya channel that Ukraine was at fault for stalled peace talks with Russia, blaming what he said was Kyiv’s changing negotiating positions.

9:10pm: Ukraine says Russia taking ‘colossal losses’ in east, US says Moscow’s Donbas campaign ‘slow and uneven’

Ukraine has acknowledged losing control of some towns and villages in the east since Russia’s assault began last week, but says the gains have come at a massive cost to a Russian force already worn down from its earlier defeat near Kyiv.

“We have serious losses but the Russians’ losses are much much bigger …They have colossal losses,” presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

The Russian campaign to seize control of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine is moving slowly and behind schedule, a Pentagon official said Friday.

Stiff resistance from Ukrainian troops and caution after Russia’s failure to capture Kyiv has led to “slow and uneven progress” in Donbas, the official told reporters.

“We believe that essentially what they’re doing is continuing to set conditions for a sustained and larger and longer offensive,” the official said.

Ukraine’s hospitals have been bombed. Their citizens have been executed. Their children have been traumatized. And yet, despite all that, they have done a magnificent job defending their sovereignty. Ukraine’s valor and skill will go down in military history.

— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) April 29, 2022

7:02pm: US Congress Speaker Pelosi hopes to approve $33 billion Ukraine aid ‘as soon as possible’

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday she hopes to pass a $33 billion aid package for Ukraine requested by President Joe Biden “as soon as possible”.

Biden asked Congress on Thursday for $33 billion to support the government in Kyiv – a dramatic escalation of US funding for the war with Russia more than two months after it invaded Ukraine.

Lawmakers from both parties said they wanted to approve the emergency funding request quickly, but there was no immediate word on exactly when the House of Representatives and Senate might vote amid disputes over what should be in any legislation.

“We hope to as soon as possible pass that legislation,” Pelosi told her weekly news conference. Democrats, who narrowly control Congress, and Republicans disagree over whether to combine the Ukraine funding with billions of dollars for Covid-19 relief that Biden requested in March.

6:00pm: Civilians in Ukrainian town of Lyman face difficult choice to stay or leave

The residents of the northeastern Ukrainian town of Lyman are exhausted. Columns of smoke and tanks in the streets are now everyday sights in the town, now on the front lines of the war. Firefighters are among those who have stayed to help local residents. Click below to watch the report by France 2 and FRANCE 24. 

6:00pm: US sees no threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite rhetoric, defence official says

The United States does not believe that there is a threat of Russia using nuclear weapons despite a recent escalation in Moscow’s rhetoric, a senior US defence official said on Friday.

“We continue to monitor their nuclear capabilities every day the best we can and we do not assess that there is a threat of the use of nuclear weapons and no threat to NATO territory,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday the West should not underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine.

4:00pm: Czechs, Poles to restart talks on gas interconnector, says Czech prime minister

The Czech Republic and Poland have agreed to restart previously abandoned talks on building the Stork II gas pipeline to connect the two countries, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after meeting his Polish counterpart on Warsaw on Friday.

The Czech Republic is also interested in buying capacity in Poland’s expanded or newly built LNG terminals, Fiala said.

Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom on Wednesday stopped all gas supplies to Poland and highly dependent Bulgaria, raising the spectre of a shortage in the region, and Europe as a whole.

3:50pm: US warns citizens against fighting in Ukraine after American killed

The US Defence Department warned Americans on Friday against going to Ukraine to join the fight against Russia’s invasion after a former marine was killed there.

“We continue to urge Americans not to go to Ukraine … this is an active war zone, this is not the place to be travelling to,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN the day after reports emerged of the death of Willy Joseph Cancel.

Cancel’s mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN her 22-year-old son was killed on Monday in Ukraine while working with a private military contractor, having travelled there in mid-March. 

She said her son’s body had not yet been recovered. He is survived by his wife and their child, who is not yet a year old.

3:00pm: An industrial site in Kyiv may have been real target of Russian missiles 

The real target of Russian military strikes on Kyiv yesterday might have been an industrial site on the other side of the street from the main residential building that was hit, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports. The attack might be part of Russia’s continuing strategy of striking what it deems to be ‘critical infrastructure’ targets, or targets that could be linked to Ukraine’s war effort; at the same time, there is clearly a symbolic value of the Russians hitting Kyiv precisely on the day when the UN secretary-general was visiting the city, he explains. 

Russian rockets hit Kyiv

1:58pm: G20 host Indonesia urges Zelensky, Putin to ‘forge peace’

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has turned down a Ukrainian request for arms and called on the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to end the war in Ukraine.

Indonesia is currently chairing the Group of 20 (G20) major economies and has invited both Ukrainian President Zelensky and President Putin to the leaders summit in November, despite pressure from some Western countries to exclude the latter.

“I expressed my hope that the war can soon be ended, and peaceful solutions can be forged through negotiations,” Jokowi, as the Indonesian president is commonly known, said in an online statement, adding that he had spoken with both leaders by phone this week.

Jokowi also said he declined Zelensky’s request for weapons due the Southeast Asian country’s foreign policy, which tries to steer a path of strategic neutrality. He said Indonesia was ready to send humanitarian aid.

11:37am: Radio Liberty producer killed in Kyiv strike during UN chief’s visit

A journalist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty died in Thursday’s Russian strike on Kyiv during a visit by UN  chief Antonio Guterres, according to the US-funded news organisation.

“Radio Liberty journalist and producer Vera Gyrych died as a result of a Russian missile hitting the house where she lived in Kyiv. The shelling took place on April 28,” the Ukrainian branch of the news organisation said in a statement.

Guterres and his team were not hurt in the strikes, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack was part of the Kremlin’s attempts to humiliate the UN. 

8th Journalist to be killed in Ukraine since 24th of February.Vera Gyrych, journalist for Radio Liberty.She was killed yesterday due to the missile attack in Kyiv. It’s a necessity to support journalists safety.Yet when it’s your home.. Stop this war!!! Support Ukraine!

— Natalie Gryvnyak (@nataliegryvnyak) April 29, 2022

10:07am: One killed in Russian strike during UN chief’s visit: Kyiv mayor

One person was killed in the Russian missile strike that rocked the centre of Kyiv during Thursday’s visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 

“Rescuers, who are continuing to search and remove rubble from a residential building in the Shevchenkivskyi district where a rocket hit yesterday, have just discovered the remains of a person who was killed,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement on social media.

Russia has now confirmed that it conducted a “high precision” strike on a Kyiv rocket plant on Thursday.

10:03am: Russia says missiles targeted Kyiv rocket plant 

Russia has said its forces destroyed the production facilities of a space-rocket plant in Kyiv with high-precision long-range missiles.

“High-precision long-range air-based weapons destroyed the production facilities of the Artem rocket and space industry enterprise in the city of Kyiv,” the defence ministry said. “The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue the special military operation in Ukraine,” the statement added.

9:45am: UK deploys troops to eastern Europe for joint exercises

The UK government has said it is deploying around 8,000 troops for exercises across eastern Europe in a show of strength after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The months-long drills in countries stretching from Finland to North Macedonia also involve allies including France and the US, defence officials said in a statement.

Britain is deploying 72 Challenger 2 tanks and 120 armoured fighting vehicles along with artillery guns, helicopters and drones for the exercises, some of which are already under way.

“The security of Europe has never been more important,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said, calling it “one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War”.

9:06am: Clean-up operation starts at Kyiv building hit by Russian strike

Reporting from Kyiv, near the site of an apartment building that struck by Russian missiles while UN chief Antonio Guterres was in town, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg said there was a clean-up operation under way. At least five people were wounded in the attack, according to emergency workers.

“The only reason the casualty figures were not higher was because it was a new apartment building, not all of the apartments had yet been sold or rented out. So there were fewer people there than there are in other parts of Kyiv,” said Cragg.

8:53am: Two British aid workers held by Russian forces in Ukraine: UK NGO

Two British volunteers working to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine have been captured by the Russian military there, according to the non-profit Presidium Network.

The two men, who were working for the Presidium Network, were detained by Russian forces at a check point south of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine on Monday.

There was no immediate comment from the British foreign ministry.

“The foreign office is doing all it can to support and identify these two people,” British trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan told Sky News.

The Presidium Network said the men, both civilians, were working as part of a Joint Humanitarian Operations Centre project in Ukraine to help provide food and medical supplies and evacuation support.

On Thursday, the British government confirmed that a British national had been killed and another was missing in Ukraine, with media reporting that the dead man was a former British army veteran who was believed to have been fighting with Ukrainian forces.

8:12am: Operation ‘planned’ for civilian evacuations from Mariupol steel plant

Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians holed up, along with Ukrainian fighters, in the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol, according to the presidential office.

“An operation is planned today to get civilians out of the plant,” President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said in a statement. There were no details of the planned evacuation operation. 

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to UN and Red Cross involvement in evacuating the Azovstal plant.

Around 100,000 residents across the city are “in mortal danger” due to the Russian shelling and unsanitary conditions, according to the Mariupol city council. The city is also suffering a “catastrophic” shortage of drinking water and food, according to the council.

7:21am: Russian strikes in Kyiv wound 10 people, Ukraine emergency services say

A Russian bombardment in the Ukrainian capital during the UN chief’s visit wounded 10 people when strikes hit a residential high-rise and another building in western Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.

The explosions in northwestern Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district shook the city and burned out windows of a residential building. It came as residents have been increasingly returning to the city.

6:51am:  ‘Battle of Donbas’ remains Russia’s main strategic focus, UK says

The “Battle of Donbas” remains Russia’s main strategic focus in order to achieve its stated aim of securing control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to Britain’s defence ministry.

“In these oblasts fighting has been particularly heavy around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, with an attempted advance south from Izium towards Slovyansk,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces, the ministry added in the regular bulletin.

1:47am: Pentagon says it’s analysing Kyiv strikes

The US is analysing strikes on Kyiv that the Ukrainian authorities blamed on Russian missiles, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday.

“We’re still trying to analyse this and figure out what happened here, what was struck and with what kind of munition,” he told CNN.

01:04am: IAEA is looking into a Ukrainian report about a missile flying over a nuclear power station

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday it was probing a Ukrainian report that a missile had flown directly over a nuclear power station, saying this would be “extremely serious” if true.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said Kyiv had formally told it on Thursday the missile flew over the south Ukraine plant on April 16. The facility is near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk, some 350 km (220 miles) south of Kyiv.

10:46pm: Russian strikes on Kyiv aimed ‘to humiliate’ the UN, Zelensky says

Russian strikes on Kyiv on Thursday aimed “to humiliate” the UN, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Today, immediately after the end of our talks in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. Five rockets. And this says a lot … about the Russian leadership’s efforts to humiliate the UN and everything that the organisation represents,” Zelensky said, adding that it required “a correspondingly powerful reaction”.

10:04pm: UN chief, team ‘shocked’ by proximity of Russian strikes on Kyiv

UN chief Antonio Guterres and his team were “shocked” by the proximity of the Russian strikes, which hit central Kyiv as they were visiting the capital. However, a spokesman has confirmed that they are all “safe”.

“It is a war zone but it is shocking that it happened close to us,” Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian office told AFP, without saying how close they were to the point of impact. 

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there had been “two hits in the Shevchenkovsky district”, with one hitting “the lower floors of a residential building”. 

He said three people had been taken to hospital but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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