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Ukraine war: Free to read

Ukraine from April 28 to May 21: Russia to consider allowing over-40s to join military

Russia's Gazprom will halt flows of natural gas to Finland on Saturday

Pro-Russian troops in Mariupol on May 19, 2022, after Ukrainian soldiers finally surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill.   © Reuters

This blog file is now closed. For the latest developments, head over here.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties mounting on both sides.

Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance in the east, where the focus of the war has shifted, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.

Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

-- Mariupol mayor hails evacuated troops for defending Ukraine city

-- Turkey blocks start of NATO entry talks for Sweden and Finland

-- Russian oil tankers turn to stealth shipments under sanctions

-- Ukraine urges Japan to impose full embargo on Russian oil and gas

-- ASEAN's Ukraine split shows desire for space between powers: envoy

Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.

Here are the latest developments:

Saturday, May 21 (Tokyo time)

4:00 a.m. Wimbledon is stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA tours over its decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus at the 2022 Championships due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The governing bodies of tennis have banned Russia and Belarus from international team competitions but let players from the two countries compete as neutrals.

Separately, 51 Ukrainian athletes have died since Russia's invasion began, the International Olympic Committee reported at a meeting in Switzerland. They include a promising female gymnast in her teens.

2:30 a.m. Ukraine wants Japan to impose a total import ban on Russian oil and gas, and to more fully participate in the squeezing of funds that might otherwise flow into Moscow's war chest

Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko also says Ukraine expects Japan and other developed nations to direct frozen Russian assets to the effort to rebuild his country.

"We need a full oil and gas embargo," Marchenko says in an interview with Nikkei. "Russia receives money [from oil and gas exports] and can spend this money on military aggression toward Ukraine." Read more.

12:20 a.m. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has resigned as chairman of the board of Russian state-owned oil group Rosneft, the latest development in the controversy over his close relationship with Moscow.

Former German intelligence officer Matthias Warnig has also stepped down from the board, German and other media report, citing a statement from Rosneft.

Friday, May 20

10:24 p.m. Russia's Gazprom will halt flows of natural gas to Finland starting Saturday, after Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum refused to pay its Russian supplier in rubles.

Gasum, which had warned Wednesday that Russian supplies could be cut, says it will continue to supply gas to Finnish customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline linking Finland with Estonia. Most supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars, but Gazprom Export has demanded that European countries pay in rubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Natural gas accounts for only a small part of Finland's household energy use but a larger share of industrial power.

5:31 p.m. In a sign of Russia's urgent need to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, its parliament says it will consider a bill to allow Russians over the age of 40 and foreigners over 30 to sign up for the military. The website of the State Duma, parliament's lower house, said the move would enable the military to utilize the skills of older professionals. "For the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons and military equipment, highly professional specialists are needed. Experience shows that they become such by the age of 40-45," it said. Previously only Russians aged 18 to 40 and foreigners aged 18 to 30 could enter into a first contract with the military.

2:30 p.m. Russian shelling in Ukraine's eastern region of Luhansk has killed 13 civilians over the past 24 hours, the regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai, says. Twelve were killed in the town of Sievierodonesk, where a Russian assault has been unsuccessful, he said. The town and the city of Lysychansk are in an area where Russian troops have launched an offensive.

A soldier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic at the Savur-Mohyla war memorial complex outside the rebel-held city of Donetsk, Ukraine in 2018.   © Reuters

2:26 p.m. Russia is likely to reinforce operations in the industrial Donbas region once they secure the city of Mariupol, British military intelligence says. As many as 1,700 soldiers are likely to have surrendered at the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol, the report added. Moscow also said on Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered from the steel factory so far, including 771 in the past 24 hours.

A cargo ship carrying over 71,000 tons of Ukrainian corn in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta on April 28. (Inquam Photos via Reuters)

9:01 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accuses Russia of using food as a weapon in Ukraine by holding "hostage" supplies for not just Ukrainians, but also millions around the world. Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Blinken appealed to Russia to stop blockading Ukrainian ports. "The Russian government seems to think that using food as a weapon will help accomplish what its invasion has not -- to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people," he said. "The food supply for millions of Ukrainians and millions more around the world has quite literally been held hostage."

5:56 a.m. The U.S. Senate approves roughly $40 billion in new assistance for Ukraine -- the largest American aid package yet for the country -- by a lopsided 86-11 vote, clearing the way for President Joe Biden to sign it into law. All of the "no" votes come from Republicans.

1:08 a.m. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto pledges to commit to Turkey's security if his country joins NATO and says Finland is willing to discuss all of Ankara's concerns over its membership "in an open and constructive manner."

"Finland has always had broad and good bilateral relations to Turkey," Niinisto said at the White House, where U.S. President Joe Biden was hosting the leaders of Finland and Sweden following their formal applications for NATO membership. "As NATO allies, we will commit to Turkey's security, just as Turkey will commit to our security. We take terrorism seriously. We condemn terrorism in all its forms, and we are actively engaged in combating it."

Discussions to address Turkey's concerns have already taken place and will continue in the coming days, Niinisto said.

A sign with the McDonald's logo stands outside a restaurant in Omsk, Russia. The world's largest burger chain says it will sell its Russian business to current licensee Alexander Govor.   © Reuters

12:55 a.m. McDonald's says it has agreed to sell its restaurant portfolio in Russia for an undisclosed sum to Alexander Govor, who since 2015 has been a licensee and operated 25 restaurants in Siberia.

The world's largest burger chain owns about 84% of its nearly 850 restaurants in Russia.

The announcement comes days after McDonald's said it would leave the country, while retaining its trademarks, in light of the Ukraine war. In March, the company had decided to temporarily close all its restaurants in Russia and pause all operations there.

Thursday, May 19

6:03 p.m. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi calls for an urgent cease-fire in Ukraine so that serious negotiations can begin to end the war. He added that Italy will continue to support Ukraine, without ruling out the supply of weapons. Draghi, who has taken a hard line against Russia since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, says it is important to maintain pressure through economic sanctions "because we have to bring Moscow to the negotiating table."

5:54 p.m. Switzerland is reopening its embassy in Kyiv, with five staff members, including the ambassador, set to return to the Ukrainian capital over the next few days, says the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. The decision to reopen the embassy after it was temporarily closed two and a half months ago was based on an in-depth analysis of the security situation, the FDFA added.

Finland and Sweden have formally applied to join the NATO alliance, but Poland says it will come to their aid even before they gain membership, should they be attacked.    © Reuters

5:12 p.m. Poland will assist Sweden and Finland, should they be attacked before they gain NATO membership, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says. "I consider the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO as an important signal of strengthening security in Europe," he says during a conference. "I want to make it clear that in the event of an attack on Sweden or Finland during their accession (process), Poland will come to their aid."

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance on Wednesday, a decision spurred by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and setting in motion an accession process that is expected to take only a few weeks.

12:30 p.m. Japan will double its financial aid to Ukraine to $600 million, in a coordinated move with the World Bank, to help the country meet near-term fiscal necessities in the face of difficulties brought on by Russia's invasion, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Japan, a member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, had previously announced $300 million in loans to Ukraine in April.

10:35 a.m. The U.S. Senate has confirmed career diplomat Bridget Brink as ambassador to Ukraine, a critical post that has been vacant for three years. Brink was confirmed by unanimous voice vote.

Google's Russian subsidiary plans to file for bankruptcy after authorities seize its bank account. Free services, including search and YouTube will keep operating, a Google spokesperson says.   © Reuters

6:45 a.m. Google's Russian subsidiary plans to file for bankruptcy after authorities seize its bank account, making it impossible to pay staff and vendors. But free services, including search and YouTube will keep operating, a Google spokesperson says. The Alphabet unit has been under pressure in Russia for months for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal and for restricting access to some Russian media on YouTube. But the Kremlin has so far stopped short of blocking access to the company's services.

4:50 a.m. The U.S. and Turkey "reaffirm their strong cooperation as partners and NATO allies," their governments say in a short statement after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu in New York. The talks come after Turkey expressed opposition to NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland. The statement does not mention the two countries' applications to join the alliance. Blinken and Cavusoglu "reiterated their support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russia's unacceptable war," according to the statement.

3:00 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirms the reopening of the American Embassy in Kyiv. "The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia's unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again," Blinken says in a statement

2:19 a.m. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopens after a three-month closure due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. A few diplomats will return initially to staff the mission, spokesperson Daniel Langenkamp tells Reuters. Consular operations will not resume immediately, and a no-travel advisory from the State Department remains in place across Ukraine, he says.

2:10 a.m. The Ukrainian fighters being evacuated from a steel plant in Mariupol fulfilled their combat mission successfully, Mayor Vadym Boychenko tells Nikkei in a virtual interview Wednesday as one of Europe's bloodiest battles since World War II comes to a close.

"The Mariupol fighters ... saved not only Mariupol city but Ukraine itself," Boychenko said, adding that the soldiers defended the city for 80 days.

Boychenko hits that talks with Russia to ensure the safety of the Ukrainian troops and to exchange captured soldiers are moving slowly. Read more.

Wednesday, May 18

Russian soldier Vadim Shyshimarin, 21, suspected of violations of the laws and norms of war, during a court hearing in Kyiv.   © Reuters

11:00 p.m. A Russian soldier pleads guilty in a Kyiv court to having killed a civilian, in the first war crimes trial since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin pleaded guilty to shooting a 62-year-old man on a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy region, about 200 miles east of Kyiv, four days after Russia invasion began on Feb. 24.

Asked by the presiding judge whether he accepted his guilt, Shyshimarin said: "Yes. Fully, yes."

9:01 p.m. Turkey has blocked the start of negotiations on the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO, according to online news outlet Middle East Eye, signaling trouble ahead for the two Nordic nations' applications. Turkey voted against starting the talks at a NATO ambassadorial-level meeting in Brussels, the London-based organization said. The countries formally applied that day to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- a decision, spurred by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, that marked a shift from their long-held neutrality.

6:20 p.m. Japanese shipper Nippon Yusen, better known as NYK Line, is considering plans to withdraw its automobile land freight business from Russia within a few months at the earliest. The company has found it difficult to continue its operations, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to international sanctions and boycotts, causing a fall in demand for such delivery services.

4:15 p.m. Britain and fellow Group of Seven nations are looking at how Russian assets can be used to fund the rebuilding of Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says. "We need a new Marshall Plan to rebuild Ukraine, and in fact we've just been discussing this at the G-7 meeting that I had with my colleagues from around the world. We are looking at what we can do to use Russian assets to help pay for this," she told Times Radio.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, "We need a new Marshall Plan to rebuild Ukraine."   © Reuters

3:46 p.m. Swiss packaging group Vetropack will cut roughly 400 jobs in Ukraine following severe war damage to its Hostomel plant, the company says, a sign of the widening economic toll of the fighting. The manufacturer of glass packaging, which has employed roughly 600 at the plant, northwest of Kyiv, said it had continued to pay full salaries to its people there since Russia's invasion of Ukraine while releasing them from work duties. But now, with damage from military activity rendering the plant inoperable for the near future and hostilities continuing in the region, the company said it would need to let go roughly two-thirds of the workforce.

3:07 p.m. Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance at its headquarters, setting in motion an accession process that is expected to take only a few weeks. Ratification of all 30 allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats say.

5:06 a.m. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urges America's partners to increase financial support to Ukraine in her speech to the Brussels Economic Forum.

"What's clear is that the bilateral and multilateral support announced so far will not be sufficient to address Ukraine's needs, even in the short term," she says, citing the country's need to pay soldiers, employees and pensioners and to operate its economy.

1:20 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweets on his phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron. The two leaders also discussed Ukraine's bid for European Union membership, Zelenskyy says.

Tuesday, May 17

9:39 p.m. President Joe Biden will welcome Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to Washington on Thursday, the White House says. They will discuss Finland's and Sweden's NATO applications as well as European security and support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he is confident Turkey will support Finland and Sweden in their bid to join NATO. Turkey surprised its NATO allies last week by saying it would not view the applications of Sweden and Finland positively.

8:16 p.m. Ukraine's Eurovision Song Contest winners plan a tour of Europe to raise money for their country's army as it continues to put up fierce resistance to Russian forces more than 80 days after they invaded the country, they say. Kalush Orchestra on Saturday rode a wave of popular support to win the competition, giving their compatriots a much-needed morale boost.

8:00 p.m. Russia is not planning to block Alphabet's YouTube, the minister for digital development says, acknowledging that such a move would likely see Russian users suffer and should therefore be avoided. Russia has blocked other foreign social media platforms, but despite months of fines and threats against YouTube for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal and for restricting access to some Russian media, it has stopped short of delivering a killer blow to the video-hosting service.

6:15 p.m. Russia's defense ministry says that its missiles destroyed U.S. and European arms shipments in Ukraine's western Lviv region. It has also confirmed an earlier report from Russian-backed separatists that more than 250 Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant had laid down their arms and surrendered, of whom 51 were wounded.

10:00 a.m. Ukraine's military says it is working to evacuate all remaining troops from their last stronghold in the besieged port of Mariupol, ceding control of the city to Russia after months of bombardment. The evacuation likely marked the end of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war and a significant defeat for Ukraine. "The 'Mariupol' garrison has fulfilled its combat mission," the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in a statement. "The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel."

9:36 a.m. The U.S. Air Force says it conducted a successful test of a hypersonic weapon, which flew at five times the speed of sound. The test was conducted on Saturday off the coast of southern California when a B-52 bomber released an Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, the Air Force said in a statement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday complicated Sweden and Finland's historic bid to join NATO, accusing them of refusing to extradite "terrorists" wanted by his country.   © AP

3:15 a.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterates his opposition to Sweden's and Finland's efforts to join NATO, telling both countries not to bother sending their delegations to Ankara to convince him otherwise.

Finland and Sweden lack a clear stance against "terrorist groups," Turkish news agency Anadolu quotes Erdogan as saying in a news conference in Algeria.

"We would not say yes to those who impose sanctions on Turkey joining NATO," Erdogan says.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggests Moscow could accept Finland and Sweden joining the Western alliance, as long as they did not allow NATO bases in their countries.

Putin says the proposed NATO enlargement poses "no direct threat for Russia," adding he has "no problems" with either Finland or Sweden.

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin attends a joint news conference on Finland's security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on May 15.   © Reuters

3:00 a.m. McDonald's will "completely exit" Russia, selling off restaurants there in its first-ever "de-Arching" of a major market, its chief says. In a memo, President and CEO Chris Kempczinski lays out business reasons for the move and grapples with its ethical implications.

"Some might argue that providing access to food and continuing to employ tens of thousands of ordinary citizens, is surely the right thing to do," he writes. "But it is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. And it is impossible to imagine the Golden Arches representing the same hope and promise that led us to enter the Russian market 32 years ago." The company says it will retain its trademarks in Russia, and Kempczinski leaves open the possibility of a future return. Read more.

2:10 a.m. The highest-ranking uniformed officer in Japan's Self-Defense Forces will attend a NATO Military Chiefs of Defense meeting for the first time Thursday, according to the Ministry of Defense, as Tokyo seeks to reach a shared understanding with the alliance on the Asia-Pacific security environment.

Gen. Koji Yamazaki, chief of staff of the Joint Staff, departed from Japan for Brussels on Monday for the NATO Military Committee in Chiefs of Defense Session. Read more.

Monday, May 16

5:00 p.m. The Russian ruble rises to 64 per dollar and climbs toward a near five-year high against the euro, supported by continuing restrictions on currency trading. The ruble is the world's best-performing currency this year, although this is due to artificial support from capital controls that Russia imposed to shield its financial sector in late February after it invaded Ukraine. Against the euro, the ruble rose 1% to 66.39, staying near its strongest level of 64.94 since June 2017.

4:00 p.m. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says Finland and Sweden choosing to join the NATO military alliance is a mistake that will have far-reaching consequences and see the global situation change radically, news agencies report. Ryabkov said Finland and Sweden should have no illusions that Russia will simply put up with their decision, Interfax reports.

10:00 a.m. Ukraine's gas transit system operator said over the weekend that it had resumed operations at two distribution stations in the Kharkiv region and restarted gas supply to more than 3,000 consumers. Ukraine has scored a series of successes since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, forcing Moscow's commanders to abandon an advance on the capital Kyiv before making rapid gains to drive them from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city.

A Ukrainian serviceman walks past a destroyed house in Ruska Lozova, a village retaken by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region on May 15.   © Reuters

9:45 a.m. Japan's wholesale prices jumped 10% in April from the same month a year earlier, the biggest increase in at least 40 years, government data shows, as the Ukraine crisis and a weak yen pushed up the cost of energy and raw materials.

3:11 a.m. Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he expects the U.S. Senate to vote Wednesday local time to approve about $40 billion in proposed aid to help Ukraine resist Russia's invasion after holding a related procedural vote Monday local time.

2:31 a.m. NATO and the U.S. express confidence that Turkey will not hold up membership of Finland and Sweden in the alliance as the two Nordic states take firm steps to join in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Sunday, May 15

10:49 p.m. Ukraine has deployed many of its new M-777 howitzers from the U.S. on the front lines, according to the American Embassy in Kyiv.

"All but one of the 90 Howitzers sent by the United States are now in Ukraine, many now deployed on the front lines," the embassy says in a tweet with a video showing the weapons in action.

The howitzers are part of aid from the U.S. to help Ukraine fend off Russia's invasion. The M-777 is seen as particularly significant because of its long range and accuracy.

9:50 p.m. Sweden and Finland must stop supporting terrorist groups in their countries, provide clear security guarantees, and lift export bans on Turkey as they seek NATO membership, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says after meeting in Berlin with counterparts in the alliance.

5:29 p.m. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he had met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin and that "more weapons and other aid is on the way to Ukraine." "We agreed to work closely together to ensure that Ukrainian food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. Grateful to Secretary Blinken and the U.S. for their leadership and unwavering support," Kuleba tweets.

3:00 p.m. A missile strike hit some military infrastructure in the western Ukrainian region of Lviv early on Sunday, the region's Gov. Maxim Kozitsky says in a post on the Telegram messaging app. "Four enemy missiles hit one of the military infrastructures in the Lviv region," Kozitsky says. "The object is completely destroyed. According to preliminary information, there are no casualties. No one sought medical help."

Ukrainian servicemen ride a motorcycle on the road which connects Kharkiv and a village recently retook by the Ukrainian Army.   © Reuters

2:40 p.m. Russia's offensive in Ukraine's Donbas region "has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule," British military intelligence says. "Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days," the British military says in a regular Twitter bulletin.

4:20 a.m. The situation in the Donbas region remains very difficult, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, adding that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory. "On the 80th day of a full-scale invasion this seems especially crazy, but they are not stopping their efforts," he says in a video address.

3:08 a.m. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the U.S. Senate, pays an unannounced visit to Kyiv with other Republican senators to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. McConnell is pressing Republican Sen. Rand Paul to end his opposition to a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, which has overwhelming support from both major parties.

2:20 a.m. Portugal blocks the sale of a $10.4 million house over a "strong conviction" it belongs to sanctions-hit Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. The property registry of the mansion was frozen -- meaning it cannot be sold, rented or mortgaged -- on March 25 at the request of the foreign ministry, a month after Russia's full invasion of Ukraine.

"We have a strong conviction, which hasn't been fully confirmed, the house belongs to Roman Abramovich," Foreign Minister Joao Cravinho says on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Berlin. "The challenge here is that many of those sanctioned do not have their properties and assets in their names."

12:33 a.m. Moscow is the target of "total hybrid war" by the West but will withstand sanctions by forging deeper partnerships with China, India and others, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says. In a speech on the 80th day since Russia invaded Ukraine, Lavrov pointed to the barrage of sanctions imposed by the West to portray Russia as the target, not the perpetrator, of aggression. "The collective West has declared total hybrid war on us and it is hard to predict how long all this will last but it is clear the consequences will be felt by everyone, without exception," he says.

Saturday, May 14

11:55 p.m. Russian troops are withdrawing from positions around Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, after bombarding it for weeks, the Ukrainian military says, as Kyiv and Moscow's forces engaged in a grinding battle for the country's eastern industrial heartland.

Ukraine's general staff says the Russians are now focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern Donetsk province to "deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications."

Ukrainian forces are launching a counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izium in eastern Ukraine, a regional governor tells Reuters, in what could prove a serious setback for Moscow's plans to capture the entire Donbas region. Russian forces have focused much of their firepower on the Donbas in a "second phase" of their invasion announced on April 19, after they failed to reach the capital Kyiv from the north in the early weeks of the war.

Keeping up pressure on Izium and Russian supply lines will make it harder for Moscow to encircle battle-hardened Ukrainian troops on the eastern front in the Donbas.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov adds Ukraine is "entering a new -- long-term -- phase of the war."

4:53 p.m. Moscow will take adequate precautionary measures if NATO deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to Russia's border, Russian news agencies quote Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying on Saturday.

"It will be necessary to respond ... by taking adequate precautionary measures that would ensure the viability of deterrence," Interfax agency quotes Grushko as saying.

Moscow has no hostile intentions toward Finland and Sweden and does not see "real" reasons for those two countries to be joining the NATO alliance, Grushko adds

2:01 a.m. Estonia has asked NATO for command centers capable of overseeing more than 10,000 soldiers and the bloc's military operations in the Baltics to counter Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet tells Nikkei.

"We are explaining right now to our allies that all three Baltic countries need a division-size command structure and also rapid deployment," Laanet says in an exclusive interview.

His remarks reflect a sense of crisis in the face of Russian aggression. "We can never rule out the chance that Russia might attack neighboring countries, for example, border countries," Laanet says. "There is always this risk." Read more.

1:20 a.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that "it's not possible for us to look positively" at letting Sweden and Finland into NATO.

"Scandinavian countries are like some kind of guesthouse for terrorist organizations," Erdogan says, claiming that "they are even in parliament." All decisions to expand NATO must be unanimous, meaning that longtime member Turkey can single-handedly scuttle any attempts by Sweden and Finland to join.

12:40 a.m. Asian aircraft lessors' losses in Russia have risen to nearly $1.2 billion after Japan's SMBC Aviation Capital, the player with the biggest exposure to the sanctions-hit country, reported the industry's latest financial damage from the Ukraine war. Read more.

12:30 a.m. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding's joint venture in Russia has laid off about 40% of employees since the invasion of Ukraine as the war has severely disrupted cross-border business, an employee with knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia. Read more.

12:18 a.m. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has spoken with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the first time since Feb. 18, urging an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine and emphasizing the importance of maintaining lines of communication, according to a Pentagon readout of the call.

Alina Kabaeva, a former Russian rhythmic gymnast who is believed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's girlfriend, has been sanctioned by the U.K.   © Reuters

Friday, May 13

9:43 p.m. The U.K. sanctions Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic rhythmic gymnast whom some Western governments think is Vladimir Putin's girlfriend, as part of a crackdown on people close to the Russian president.

Britain's new sanctions also cover Kabaeva's grandmother and Putin's ex-wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, as well as several of his relatives holding executive positions at major Russian firms like Gazprom. They face asset freezes and travel bans.

Burnt-out vehicles and the remains of what appears to be a makeshift bridge litter the banks of the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine, in this handout image uploaded on May 12. (Ukrainian Airborne Forces Command/Handout via Reuters)

6:30 p.m. Ukrainian forces destroyed a pontoon bridge and parts of Russian armored column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region, video footage released by Ukraine's military shows. Russia has suffered setbacks on the battlefield as Ukraine drives Russian troops out of the region around the second-largest city of Kharkiv. This is the fastest advance since it forced the Kremlin's forces from Kyiv and the northeast over a month ago. Reuters journalists have confirmed Ukraine is now in control of territory stretching to the banks of the Siverskiy Donets River, around 40 km east of Kharkiv.

European Council President Charles Michel, second from right, visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima on May 13.   © Kyodo

3:11 p.m. European Council President Charles Michel condemns Russia during his visit to Hiroshima for threatening to use nuclear weapons following its invasion of Ukraine, saying it is a "shameful and unacceptable" threat to global security. In one of the two Japanese cities devastated by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings at the end of World War II, Michel said he feels "seized by an intense determination" to eliminate nuclear weapons after visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Michel made his trip to highlight EU opposition to the use of nuclear arms amid tensions heightened by threats including Russia's invasion of Ukraine and North Korean ballistic missile tests.

11:30 a.m. Ukraine says it has damaged a Russian navy logistics ship near Snake Island, a small but strategic outpost in the Black Sea. Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine's north and east. "Thanks to the actions of our naval seamen, the support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov caught fire -- it is one of the newest in the Russian fleet," said Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration.

7:27 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden has kicked off the first-ever Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit to be held in Washington as his administration makes an extended effort to demonstrate that the U.S. has not lost focus on the Pacific even while dealing with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As Biden welcomed leaders from eight ASEAN nations for a dinner to start the two-day "special summit," the White House announced the U.S. would commit to more than $150 million in new projects to bolster Southeast Asia's climate, maritime and public health infrastructure.

Flags fly outside the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels on Oct. 21, 2021. The Finnish and Swedish flags may soon join the circle.   © Reuters

5:59 a.m. Moscow warns Finland of consequences as it seeks to apply for NATO membership "without delay." Finland's plan to apply for NATO membership and the expectation that Sweden will follow would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent. "Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move," Russia's foreign ministry said.

Thursday, May 12

9:59 p.m. Key Finnish politicians have been warned that Russia might halt gas supplies to neighboring Finland on Friday, local newspaper Iltalehti reports, citing unnamed sources.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday said Finland would apply to join NATO "without delay." On May 5, Finland said it was prepared for the possibility of Moscow cutting off gas delivery in response to Helsinki's refusal to abide by Russian demands for gas payments to be made in rubles.

A Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian armed forces is seen near the village of Staryi Saltiv in the Kharkiv region on May 9, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues.   © Reuters

5:00 p.m. Finland's president and prime minister say they are in favor of applying for NATO membership, paving the way for the alliance to expand amid Russia's war in Ukraine. The dramatic move by Finland was announced by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement. It means that Finland is virtually certain to seek NATO membership, though a few steps remain before the application process can begin. Neighboring Sweden is expected to decide on joining NATO in the coming days.

3:10 p.m. Ukrainian forces are keeping up a counterattack to the north of the nation's second-largest city Kharkiv and recapturing several towns and villages toward the Russian border, Britain says. Russia has reportedly withdrawn units from the area and the forces are likely to redeploy after replenishing the losses to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, the British defense ministry said. On Wednesday, Ukraine said it had pushed back Russian forces in the east to recapture Pytomnyk, a village on the main highway north of Kharkiv, about halfway to the Russian border.

3:00 p.m. Siemens says it will quit the Russian market due to the war in Ukraine, taking a 600 million euros ($630.18 million) hit to its business during the second quarter. Siemens has become the latest company to announce losses connected with its decision to leave Russia. It had previously halted new business and deliveries into the country after the invasion.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto appears poised to bring his nation into NATO.   © Reuters

11:30 a.m. President Sauli Niinisto is expected to give the green light for Finland to join NATO, a major shift in security policy that comes in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland, which shares a 1,300-km border and a difficult past with Russia, has gradually stepped up its cooperation with the military alliance since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. But it has refrained from joining in an attempt to maintain friendly relations with its eastern neighbor. Sweden's ruling Social Democrats are expected to decide on Sunday whether to overturn decades of opposition to NATO membership, a move that would almost certainly lead to Sweden also asking to join the alliance.

4:00 a.m. Nearly a third of oil tankers operated by Russia's largest maritime transport company were sailing without reported destinations at times since the invasion of Ukraine, in what analysts say shows the difficulty of enforcing Western sanctions on Moscow's energy exports.

State-run Sovcomflot lacked destination information for up to 24 of its 76 tankers at the same time in March and April, shows a Nikkei analysis of public data provided by MarineTraffic.

The tightening sanctions net has made it harder for Russian vessels to find friendly ports of call. But it has also put Russian crude at a deep discount to international benchmarks, making it attractive to big energy buyers. Read more.

Wednesday, May 11

8:33 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin strongly condemned Russia's aggression in Ukraine and agreed that they will take resolute and unified action over the unfolding crisis.

"If you are worried about the prospect of war in Europe -- we do not want that at all," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says on May 11 at a news conference in Muscat after talks with his Omani counterpart.   © Reuters

6:57 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow does not want war in Europe, but that Western countries are keen to see Russia defeated in its military campaign in Ukraine. "If you are worried about the prospect of war in Europe -- we do not want that at all," Lavrov says at a news conference in Muscat after talks with his Omani counterpart. "But I draw your attention to the fact that it is the West that is constantly and persistently saying that in this situation, it is necessary to defeat Russia. Draw your own conclusions."

5:35 p.m. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is seeking loan guarantees for Ukraine from major EBRD shareholders, including Japan, EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso says. The bank is endeavoring to protect the cash flow -- and the very existence -- of Ukrainian companies by asking other governments to accept some amount of risk.

3:30 p.m. Bulgaria will receive U.S. liquefied natural gas from June after Russia's Gazprom stopped gas deliveries, the government says. The arrangement was decided at a meeting between Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, according to the government. "Real deliveries of liquefied natural gas to Bulgaria at prices lower than the ones of Gazprom have been agreed as of June," the government said in a statement. Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland on April 27 after the countries refused to pay in rubles. Bulgaria consumes about 3 billion cubic meters of gas per year, of which over 90% was coming from Russia.

11:24 a.m. The U.S. House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion more aid for Ukraine on Tuesday, as Congress races to keep military aid flowing and boost the government in Kyiv as it grapples with the Russian invasion. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to act quickly.

President Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine two weeks ago, but lawmakers decided to increase the military and humanitarian funding.

9:40 a.m. China would prefer to take over neighboring Taiwan without military action but is working to get to a position where its military could prevail even if the U.S. intervenes, U.S. intelligence chiefs say. China views Taiwan, a democratically governed island, as its "sacred" territory and has never renounced the possible use of force to ensure eventual unification.

"It's our view that they [the Chinese] are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention," Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

2:30 a.m. The operator of Ukraine's gas distribution system says it will halt flows through a key transit point for Russian gas bound for Europe, blaming Russian troop activity.

The pipeline operator has declared force majeure at Sokhranivka, meaning the situation is beyond its control, a move that could affect Europe's energy supply, The Financial Times and other media report.

The operator proposes rerouting gas to another transit point, but Russia's Gazprom says it would be technologically impossible to shift all of the flows in this way.

Tuesday, May 10

9:39 p.m. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, while visiting Kyiv, says Ukraine should become a full member of the European Union but that there could be no shortcut to membership. Speaking alongside Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Baerbock stresses that Germany will reduce its imports of Russian energy to zero, "and that will stay that way forever."

9:38 p.m. Lithuania's parliament votes unanimously to describe Russia's actions in Ukraine as "genocide" and "terrorism" and to call for an international tribunal modeled on the Nuremberg Trials after World War II to prosecute suspected war crimes.

The motion alleges that war crimes by Russian forces include the deliberate killing of civilians, mass rape, forcible relocation of Ukrainian citizens to Russia and the destruction of economic infrastructure and cultural sites. Moscow denies targeting civilians.

6:30 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are scheduled to discuss a potential European Union ban on oil imports from Russia, according to Macron's office. France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency. To further sanction Russia for its war in Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has proposed having the 27 EU member nations phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. Hungary says it won't vote for the proposed sanctions, saying they would have the effect of an "atomic bomb" on its economy.

6:00 p.m. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrives in Ukraine, the highest-ranking German government official to visit the country since Russia's invasion began on Feb. 24. Her first stop was in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where Russian forces are accused of having committed atrocities. Moscow, which has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in the Ukraine war, has called allegations that its forces executed civilians in Bucha while they occupied the town a "monstrous forgery" aimed at denigrating the Russian army.

3:30 p.m. The question of whether to join NATO is coming to a head this week in Finland and Sweden, where Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shattered the long-held belief that remaining outside the military alliance was the best way to avoid trouble with their giant neighbor. If Finland's president and the governing Social Democrats in both countries come out in favor of accession in the next few days, NATO could soon add two members right on Russia's doorstep. Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after being defeated by the Soviet Union in World War II.

11:30 a.m. Japan announces new sanctions on Russia to freeze the assets of an additional 141 individuals, including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Among them, 133 people are from the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic, both of which are effectively controlled by pro-Russian factions in eastern Ukraine. Japan also added 71 more organizations on its list of export ban, bringing the total number of targeted bodies to 201.

A satellite image supplied by Maxar Technologies shows the loading of probable Kalibr missiles onto a Russian Kilo-class submarine in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea on April 29.   © Reuters

7:30 a.m. Global insurers are expected to receive multiple claims over ships damaged or lost as the conflict in Ukraine spills over into sea lanes, insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty says. Projectiles have killed two seafarers and hit six merchant vessels -- sinking two of them -- around Ukraine's coast since the start of the Russian invasion. London marine insurers have deemed the Black Sea and Sea of Azov high-risk areas, pushing the cost of insuring ships in the region to record levels with an additional premium added to annual war coverage for every voyage.

3:58 a.m. Canada will help Ukraine work out options on how to export stored grain to address global food security shaken by the war, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says.

"We know people around the world are going to be starving because of the actions of Russia," Trudeau tells Reuters in an interview.

"There is grain waiting to be shipped in Ukraine," he says. "We have to make sure that Russia doesn't prevent the grain that the world needs from getting out to the world."

"We will work to make sure that there are different routes that can be used," Foreign Minister Melanie Joly says. "We will work with different countries, including Turkey, as we know that the Bosporus is fundamental to the access of the Black Sea."

A steelworker operates machinery at the Ilich iron and steel plant in Mariupol in 2014.    © Reuters

12:47 a.m. The U.S. will temporarily suspend 232 tariffs on Ukrainian steel for one year, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has announced. She describes the decision to help the hard-hit industry employing 1 in 13 Ukrainians as "a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of Putin's aggression."

12:36 a.m. Citing the war's impact on Volkswagen's supply chain, the German carmaker's CEO has urged for a negotiated end to the armed conflict in Ukraine, the Financial Times reports.

"I think we should not give up on open markets and free trade and I think we should not give up on negotiating and trying to settle," Herbert Diess says.

Diess says Volkswagen is struggling to surpass Tesla as the world's biggest maker of electric cars by the company's own target of 2025.

Monday, May 9

4:44 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin evokes the memory of Soviet heroism in World War II to urge his army to victory in Ukraine. Addressing ranks of servicemen on Red Square on the 77th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, Putin condemned what he called external threats to weaken and split Russia, and repeated familiar arguments he has used to justify its invasion -- that NATO was creating threats right next to its borders.

3:55 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, commemorating the country's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, says Ukraine will win in its war with Russia and will not cede any territory. "On the Day of Victory over Nazism, we are fighting for a new victory. The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win," he said in a written address. Russia is also marking the anniversary of the Soviet Union's World War II victory.

3:30 p.m. Russia has enough high-precision missiles and ammunition to fulfill all the tasks assigned to the country's armed forces, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov as saying. A senior Pentagon official said in March that Russia, which sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a special military operation, was running out of precision guided munitions.

2:30 p.m. Chinese exports to Russia fell in April for the second month as China's northern neighbor grappled with economic sanctions, while Russian shipments to China surged. Shipments to Russia fell 25.9% in April from a year earlier in dollar terms, worsening from a 7.7% decline the previous month, according to Reuters calculations based on customs data on Monday. Imports from Russia, however, surged 56.6% in April, compared with an increase of 26.4% in March. Meanwhile, China's overall export growth tumbled in April as global demand weakened

12:30 p.m. President Vladimir Putin will lead anniversary celebrations of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany on Monday as Russian forces fight Ukrainians in one of the deadliest European conflicts since the end of World War II 77 years ago. From a tribune in Red Square and before a parade of troops, tanks, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles, Putin in recent years has used Victory Day to needle the West. In the southern port of Mariupol, one of Russia's main targets and host to some of the most destructive fighting, the deputy commander of the Azov regiment holed up in the Azovstal steel plant pleaded with the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers. "We will continue to fight as long as we are alive to repel the Russian occupiers," Captain Sviatoslav Palamar told an online news conference.

"For a country heavily dependent on energy imports," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says, "it's a very difficult decision."   © Reuters

11:42 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says Japan will maintain its stakes in the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 resource projects in Russia. During an online meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven countries earlier, Kishida announced that Japan would ban Russian crude oil imports "in principle" as part of a G-7 campaign. "[For Japan] oil imports contribute to a long-term, inexpensive and stable energy supply," Kishida told reporters. "We will take steps to phase out imports in a way that minimizes the adverse impact on people's lives and business activities."

9:00 a.m. Japan will ban Russian crude oil imports "in principle" as part of a campaign by the Group of Seven, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says after an online meeting of the seven leaders of major industrialized nations. The G-7 has committed to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil, marking the latest attempt by the West to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. "For a country heavily dependent on energy imports, it's a very difficult decision," Kishida said. "But G-7 coordination is most important at a time like now."

A hotel complex destroyed by a Russian missile during Russia's invasion of Ukraine is pictured in Odesa, Ukraine, May 8.   © Reuters

5:47 a.m. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late on Sunday that about 60 people who were sheltering at a school in the eastern village of Bilohorivka were killed by a Russian bombing. "As a result of a Russian strike on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid at the school, sheltering from shelling," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.

3:15 a.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new weapons and equipment for Ukraine after an unannounced visit to Kyiv. Trudeau, addressing a news conference after talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also said Canada was imposing new sanctions on Russian individuals and entities in connection with Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Canada, he said, was reopening its embassy in Kyiv.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attend a news conference, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8.   © Reuters

3:00 a.m. As many as 60 people are feared to have been killed when a bomb struck a village school in eastern Ukraine, Luhansk region Governor Serhiy Gaidai said. About 90 people were sheltering in the school when it was hit on Saturday by a Russian bomb, setting it ablaze. "Thirty people were evacuated from the rubble, seven of whom were injured. Sixty people were likely to have died," Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that two bodies had been found.

1:00 a.m. The Group of Seven leaders said in a joint statement that they will reinforce Russia's economic isolation and "elevate" a campaign against Russian elites who support President Vladimir Putin after meeting virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Sunday, May 8

11:14 p.m. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian town of Irpin, which had been temporary held by Russian troops, the town's mayor said on Telegram. "I've just had an honor to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, who came to Irpin to see with his own eyes all the horror which Russian occupiers have caused to our town," Oleksandr Markushyn said on his Telegram channel.

10:54 p.m. U.S. first lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine, holding a surprise Mother's Day meeting with the nation's first lady, Olena Zelenska. "I wanted to come on Mother's Day," Biden told Zelenska. "I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine."

U.S. first lady Jill Biden greets Olena Zelenskyy, spouse of Ukrainian's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, outside of School 6, a public school that has taken in displaced students in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, May 8.   © AP

10:30 p.m. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited Mariupol, the country's most senior government official yet to set foot in the Ukrainian southern port city after weeks of Russian bombardment. Khusnullin, who in the Russian government is in charge of construction and urban development, said on Telegram he had visited Mariupol and eastern Ukrainian town of Volnovakha among other territories "liberated" by Russian forces. "Restoration of peaceful life begins in the regions. There's a lot of work to be done. We will help, in particular ... with providing humanitarian aid," he wrote in a Telegram post.

4:51 p.m. Russia's defense ministry said it had destroyed a Ukrainian corvette warship near Odesa by a missile strike overnight. The ministry also said its air defenses had shot down two Ukrainian SU-24 bombers and a helicopter over Snake Island in the Black Sea.

3:00 p.m. Two people have been killed in the Russian bombing of a school in the Ukrainian village of Bilohorivka and the 60 who remain under the debris are feared dead, Serhiy Gaidai, governor of the Luhansk region, said. Gaidai said Russia dropped a bomb on Saturday afternoon on the school where about 90 people were sheltering, causing a fire that engulfed the building. Thirty people have been rescued.

6:30 a.m. Britain will provide a further 1.3 billion pounds ($1.60 billion) in military support and aid to Ukraine, the country says, making the pledge ahead of a planned video call on Sunday by Group of Seven leaders with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The new pledge almost doubles Britain's previous spending commitments on Ukraine and the government says this is the highest rate of spending on a conflict since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it did not give details of this calculation.

5:15 a.m. In a late night address, President Zelenskyy confirms a rescue mission at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, saying more than 300 civilians had been rescued at the plant, which has been pounded by Russian forces for several weeks. He says authorities will now focus on evacuating the wounded and medics as well as working on humanitarian corridors for all residents of Mariupol and surrounding settlements.

1:38 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes doubling down on the conflict will improve his outcome in the war, says CIA director William Burns.

"He's in a frame of mind in which he doesn't believe he can afford to lose," said Burns, who was speaking at a Financial Times event in Washington. "I think he's convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress."

1:25 a.m. All women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine's deputy prime minister says. "This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over," Iryna Vereshchuk says. Kyiv announced on Friday an evacuation plan from Azovstal and other parts of Mariupol for Saturday. The Soviet-era steel mill, the last holdout in Mariupol for Ukrainian forces, has emerged as a symbol of resistance to the wider Russian effort to capture swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine in the 10-week-old war. Under heavy bombardment, fighters and civilians have been trapped for weeks in deep bunkers and tunnels that crisscross the site, with little food, water or medicine.

Meanwhile, Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery renew attempts to storm Azovstal, Ukraine's military command says, part of a ferocious assault to dislodge the last Ukrainian defenders in the strategic port city on the Azov Sea.

12:12 a.m. Pro-Russian forces say 50 more people are evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, where scores of civilians have been trapped for weeks alongside Ukrainian fighters holed up in the Soviet-era plant. The defense headquarters of Russian-backed Donetsk separatists say on Telegram that a total of 176 civilians had now been evacuated from the steelworks. The report could not be independently verified.

Saturday, May 7

11:45 p.m. Jill Biden hears stories from Ukrainian women and children who fled the war and found safe haven across the border in Romania, and the American first lady praises the Romanian government and relief organizations for the range of humanitarian aid they are providing to refugees. "We stand with you," Biden tells mothers at a Romanian public school hosting refugee students in Bucharest.

8:43 p.m. Six missiles hit the southern port city of Odesa, the spokeswoman for Ukraine's southern military command says. Four rockets strike a furniture factory in a residential area, while the other two strike an already damaged runway strip. The number of casualties is unclear.

A T-90M tank participates in a military parade on Victory Day, May 9, 2021, which marked the 76th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Red Square, Moscow.   © Reuters

3:10 p.m. The conflict in Ukraine is taking a heavy toll on some of Russia's most capable units and most advanced capabilities, the British defense ministry tweets in a regular bulletin. At least one T-90M, Russia's most advanced tank, has been destroyed in the fighting, the ministry said. Approximately 100 T-90M tanks are in service among Russia's best equipped units, including those fighting in Ukraine, it said.

12:00 p.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is considering attending the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asian security conference to be held in Singapore in June, Nikkei has learned. Kishida plans to call for countries to cooperate in dealing with Russia, which recently invaded Ukraine, and China, which is strengthening its maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas.

8:40 a.m. The U.K. government says it will give Ukraine 287 mobile generators in addition to 569 generators it donated earlier. The new generators, which are enough to power nearly 8,000 homes, will be used for hospitals, shelters and other essential services in the face of ongoing destruction in eastern Ukraine, it says. The government has also relaxed rules on support for overseas fossil fuels to boost supply of vital energy to Ukraine.

U.S. Marine Corps M777 towed 155mm howitzers are readied for transport to Europe, for delivery to Ukrainian forces, at March Air Reserve Base, California, on April 22. (U.S. Marine Corps handout via Reuters)

7:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden signs a new $150 million weapons package for Ukraine, providing additional artillery munitions, radars and other equipment in the latest in a series of transfers to help Kyiv repel Russia's invasion. The new package will be worth $150 million and include 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counterartillery radar, jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts, a U.S. official said. The U.S. has rushed $3.4 billion worth of armaments to Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, including howitzers, anti-aircraft Stinger missile systems, anti-tank Javelin missiles, ammunition and recently-disclosed Ghost drones.

2:29 a.m. Evacuations of civilians trapped in a bombed-out steelworks in Mariupol tentatively resumed late Friday, hours after Russia was accused of violating a truce intended to allow them to depart after weeks under siege.

Two buses carrying 25 civilians, including children, arrived at the staging post of Bezimenne, around 30 km east of the plant. Russian news agency Tass reports a third bus, carrying 23 civilian evacuees, left the Azovstal steel complex. Mariupol's mayor has estimated 200 people remained trapped at the plant with little food or water.

Friday, May 6

Components of an SSC-8/9M729 cruise missile system are displayed during a news briefing organized by the Russian defense and foreign ministries, near Moscow, in 2019.   © Reuters

6:00 p.m. Russia will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, foreign ministry spokesman Alexei Zaitsev says, according to Reuters. Zaitsev told reporters the use of nuclear weapons by Russia -- a risk that Western officials have publicly discussed -- was not applicable to what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine. CIA Director William Burns said on April 14 that given the setbacks Russia had suffered in Ukraine, "none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons."

5:30 p.m. Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, on top of five such artillery systems the Dutch government has already pledged, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht says. Germany last week reversed a long-held policy of not sending heavy weapons to war zones, following pressure from at home and abroad for it to help Ukraine fend off Russia's attacks. The weapons, which are expected to come from the Bundeswehr armed forces, are to be delivered as soon as they emerge from maintenance over the next weeks.

3:20 p.m. Hungary cannot support the European Union's new sanctions package against Russia in its present form, including an embargo on Russian crude oil imports, Prime Minister Viktor Orban tells state radio. Orban said the European Commission's current proposal would amount to an "atomic bomb" dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary is ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests.

12:30 p.m. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the world to unite and end the war in Ukraine, calling it senseless, ruthless and "limitless in its potential for global harm." The top U.N. human rights official said even a one-day cease-fire would prevent dozens of civilian deaths and injuries and allow several thousand people to flee Russian attacks.

The Moskva, in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol, in 2013. The U.S. was not aware that Ukraine planned to strike the Moskva, an American official says.   © Reuters

11:05 a.m. The U.S. says it shared intelligence with Ukraine about the location of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva prior to the strike that sank the warship, The Associated Press reports. An American official said that Ukraine alone decided to target and sink the flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet using its own anti-ship missiles. But given Russia's attacks on the Ukrainian coastline from the sea, the U.S. has provided "a range of intelligence" that includes locations of those ships, said the official.

9:23 a.m. The Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups, or about 2,000 troops. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that even as Russian airstrikes continue to bombard Mariupol, Moscow's forces are still making only "plodding" and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbas region.

Heavy fighting rages in the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, May 5, 2022.   © AP

2:30 a.m. Ukraine has large enough grain stocks in territory it still controls to feed the population in these areas and enough fuel to meet farmers' daily needs, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy says. Ukraine said last month that Russian forces had stolen "several hundred thousand tons" of grain in the areas of Ukraine they have occupied since the invasion began on Feb. 24 and this could affect the food security of local populations. The Kremlin has denied the allegation.

1:12 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in a phone call that Russia was still ready to provide safe passage for civilians from the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, the Kremlin says. It said Putin told Bennett in a "thorough exchange of views on the situation in Ukraine" that Kyiv should order Ukrainian fighters holed up in the vast Azovstal plant to put down their weapons.

Thursday, May 5

9:26 p.m. Authorities in Fiji have seized a $300 million yacht owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov at Washington's request, the U.S. Justice Department says. Kerimov was sanctioned by the U.S. and European Union.

9:02 p.m. Finland is prepared for the possibility of Russia cutting off its gas deliveries, Minister of European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen tells Reuters, ahead of the Nordic country's decision on whether to join NATO. Helsinki said on April 28 it would not abide by Moscow's demand for gas payments to be made in rubles.

Finland is maintaining alternative energy sources, Tuppurainen says, and will lease a floating LNG terminal with Estonia. Roughly 60%-70% of the gas used in Finland originates from Russia. But it accounted for little more than 5% of the country's total energy consumption last year, Statistics Finland's preliminary data shows.

"It will take time simply to lift people out of basements [and] underground shelters," Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. "We cannot use heavy equipment. ... It all has to be done by hand."   © Reuters

8:06 p.m. Ukraine is unlikely to launch a counteroffensive in its war with Russia before mid-June, when it hopes to have received more weapons from its allies, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.

Political adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also says he does not expect Russia's offensive in Ukraine to produce any "significant results" by May 9, when Russia will celebrate its victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

4:49 p.m. Russia says its artillery struck multiple Ukrainian positions and strongholds overnight, killing 600 fighters. The defense ministry also says its missiles destroyed aviation equipment at the Kanatovo airfield in Ukraine's central Kirovohrad region and a large ammunition depot in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

Two villages in Russia's Belgorod region bordering Ukraine have been shelled by Ukraine, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov says, adding that there were no civilian casualties.

1:39 p.m. Oil prices extend gains as a European Union proposal for new sanctions against Russia, including an embargo on crude in six months, offset concerns over slowing Chinese demand. Brent crude futures had climbed 60 cents, or 0.5%, to $110.74 a barrel by 0630 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 40 cents, or 0.4%, to $108.21 a barrel. Both benchmarks jumped more than $1 a barrel earlier in the volatile session after gaining more than $5 a barrel on Wednesday.

9:05 a.m. Women and children remain trapped inside Ukraine's besieged city of Mariupol, and a prolonged cease-fire is needed to ensure their evacuation as Russia presses its assault, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. "It will take time simply to lift people out of those basements, out of those underground shelters," he said. "In the present conditions, we cannot use heavy equipment to clear the rubble away. It all has to be done by hand."

6:49 a.m. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and American counterpart Lloyd Austin have agreed to maintain U.S. nuclear deterrence and align their nations' security strategies in light of Russia's attack on Ukraine. Russia's baseless and "reckless invasion of Ukraine is an affront to the rules-based international order," Austin said at the start of a 75-minute meeting in Washington. Kishi said the war means Japan can no longer separate the security of the Indo-Pacific from that of Europe.

2:55 a.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that global food security cannot be solved without restoring Ukraine's agricultural production and Russia's food and fertilizer output. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has roiled financial markets, sending commodity prices higher and affecting logistics. "Our analysis indicates that the war in Ukraine is only making things worse, setting in motion a three-dimensional crisis that is devastating global food, energy and financial systems for developing countries," Guterres told reporters in Abuja, Nigeria's capital.

Wednesday, May 4

6:05 p.m. Russia's foreign ministry announces sanctions against 63 Japanese officials, journalists and professors for engaging in what it called "unacceptable rhetoric" against Moscow. The list includes Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, among other officials.

Firefighters at a Lviv power substation hit by a missile strike on Tuesday, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues.   © Reuters

5:57 p.m. A Russian submarine in the Black Sea has fired two Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine, Russia's defense ministry says. "The crew of the Black Sea Fleet submarine launched two Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea at designated ground targets in the territory of Ukraine," it says.

5:50 p.m. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the military would consider NATO transport carrying weapons in Ukraine as targets to be destroyed, according to RIA news agency. Shoigu also says that Ukrainian fighters holed up in the sprawling Azovstal plant in Mariupol have been kept under secure blockade after President Vladimir Putin ordered that they be hermetically sealed off.

5:00 p.m. Russia's defense ministry says it has disabled six railway stations in Ukraine used to supply Ukrainian forces with Western-made weapons in the country's east. The ministry says it has bombed railway stations' power supplies using high-precision air and sea-based weapons. It did not say which Western-made weapons were supplied to Ukrainian forces via those stations.

3:50 p.m. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is proposing a phased oil embargo on Russia, as well as sanctions on its top bank, Sberbank, and to ban Russian broadcasters from European airwaves, in its toughest measures yet to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine. The plan, if agreed by EU governments, would be a watershed for the world's largest trading bloc, which is dependent on Russian energy and must find alternative supplies.

"Putin must pay a price, a high price, for his brutal aggression," von der Leyen tells the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

1:53 p.m. Russia has deployed 22 battalion tactical groups near Ukraine's eastern city of Izium in an effort to advance along the northern axis of the Donbas region, Britain said on Wednesday. In an update on Twitter, British military intelligence said it was highly likely that Russia intended to move beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk.

A senior U.S. official confirms Moscow has made payments without using reserves frozen in the U.S.   © Reuters

5:00 a.m. Russia appears to have avoided a default as overdue payments on two sovereign Eurobonds were sent to creditors, four sources tell Reuters. A source familiar with the payment process and speaking on condition of anonymity on Tuesday said the funds had been transferred to some bondholders the day before. Two creditors holding the bonds confirmed the money had shown up in their accounts. A senior U.S. official confirmed on Monday that Moscow had made the payment without using reserves frozen in the United States, adding that the exact origin of the funds was unclear.

5:34 a.m. Russian attacks in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region kill 21 civilians and injure 27, regional Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko says in an online post. Kyrylenko says the death toll, from the previous day, is the region's highest since an assault last month on a railway station in the town of Kramatorsk that killed more than 50.

12:30 a.m. Just over 100 people have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the United Nations says, even as reports of attacks by Russian forces continue.

A U.N. official says 101 people have been ferried to safety, mostly to Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. Reuters quotes the head of the Red Cross in Ukraine as saying an unknown number of civilians remain trapped in the plant in Mariupol.

The Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian paramilitary group, says in a social media posting that two women were killed Tuesday in a Russian attack on the plant.

Tuesday, May 3

9:55 p.m. Russian troops shell the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's southern port city of Mariupol, confirming earlier reports of strikes on the encircled plant, where the mayor says over 200 civilians remain trapped.

Russian sources allege the country's forces began to destroy Ukrainian firing positions established after the defenders "took advantage" of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire that let several groups of civilians escape the plant. A Mariupol police official has told public broadcaster Suspine that Russia is trying to seize the sprawling plant, the last pocket of Mariupol still held by Ukrainian forces.

Traumatized residents were evacuated from a village near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, after it was retaken by Ukrainian forces on May 2.   © Reuters

6:54 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on retaliatory economic sanctions in response to the "unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organizations," the Kremlin says. According to the decree, Russia will forbid the export of products and raw materials to people and entities that it has sanctioned. The decree also prohibits transactions with foreign individuals and companies hit by Russia's retaliatory sanctions and permits Russian counterparties not to fulfill obligations toward them.

6:00 p.m. Russia has struck a military airfield near Ukraine's southwestern city of Odesa with missiles, destroying drones, missiles and ammunition supplied to Ukraine by the United States and its European allies, the defense ministry says. "High-precision Onyx missiles struck a logistics center at a military airfield in the Odesa region through which foreign weapons were being delivered," the defense ministry says. "Hangars containing unmanned Bayraktar TB2 drones, as well as missiles and ammunition from the U.S. and European countries, were destroyed."

4:20 p.m. Slovakia will seek an exemption from any embargo on Russian oil decided by the European Union in its next set of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Slovakia's economy ministry says.

3:07 p.m. A Fijian court rules that the U.S. can seize a Russian-owned superyacht 21 days after the luxury vessel Amadea arrived in the Pacific island nation and was detained by police. U.S. authorities assert that the Amadea is ultimately owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. and the European Union. Fiji's High Court will grant an order to register a U.S. seizure warrant, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reports.

3:00 p.m. Russian forces shell Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, and have devastated several towns in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's general staff says its forces were defending the approach to Kharkiv from Izyum, a town on the Donets River, some 120 km (75 miles) to the southeast, as the enemy left a trail of destruction around Luhansk.

Ukraine's military says Russian forces are trying to take the front line Luhansk town of Rubizhne and prepare an assault on nearby Sievierodonetsk. The heaviest clashes were taking place around Popasna to the south. Shelling has been so intense it has not possible to collect bodies, says Serhiy Gaidai, the regional governor.

"I don't even want to speak about what's happening with the people living in Popasna, Rubizhne and Novotoshkivske right now," Gaidai says. "These cities simply don't exist anymore. They have completely destroyed them."

1:00 a.m. The European Union will likely propose ending purchases of Russian crude oil by the 27-country bloc before the end of 2022, Nikkei and other media report.

The proposal is expected to be announced Tuesday. This follows the EU's coal import ban agreed on in April.

The oil embargo will be the centerpiece of a sixth package of EU sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Monday, May 2

11:15 p.m. Hungary has moved its embassy in Ukraine back to Kyiv from Lviv as the capital's security situation continues to improve, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says.

9:07 p.m. Efforts to evacuate more civilians from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol run into delays, and hundreds of people remain trapped in the Azovstal steel works, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege. The cause of the holdup is unclear, though a city official says Russian forces resumed shelling the plant on Sunday after a convoy of buses had left.

5:30 p.m. Russia's defense ministry says that the Russian military has shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jet near Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine. The ministry says in a briefing it has hit 38 military targets in Ukraine, including ammunition depots and control centers.

4:37 p.m. A Ukrainian Bayraktar drone destroyed two Russian Raptor-class patrol ships in the Black Sea on Monday, Ukraine's military chief says. "Two Russian Raptor-class boats were destroyed at dawn today near Zmiinyi (Snake) Island," Chief of General Staff Valeriy Zaluzhniy wrote on the Telegram messaging app. There was no immediate reaction from Moscow to the claim.

Ukraine says it has used a Bayraktar drone to destroy two Russian Raptor-class patrol ships in the Black Sea on Monday.   © Reuters

4:03 p.m. Finland will decide to apply for NATO membership on May 12, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported late on Sunday, citing anonymous government sources. The decision to join will come in two steps on that day, with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto first announcing his approval for the Nordic neighbor of Russia to join the Western defense alliance, followed by parliamentary groups giving their approval for the application, the paper reported. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has pushed Finland and Sweden to the verge of applying for NATO membership.

3:45 p.m. Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tons of grain due to Russia's blockade of its Black Sea ports, triggering a food crisis that would affect Europe, Asia and Africa, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. "Russia does not let ships come in or go out. It is controlling the Black Sea," Zelenskyy told the Australian news program 60 Minutes. "Russia wants to completely block our country's economy." Ukraine is a major exporter of grain and other food products and also of metals.

3:04 p.m. Ukraine will be able to go on the offensive against Russia between late May and mid-June, thanks to weapons supplied by the U.S. and European countries, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an online interview with Nikkei Asia. His remark suggests an acceleration in the pace of the war, as experts predict Russia will stage all-out attacks before its May 9 Victory Day, which commemorates the Soviet Union's beating back Nazi Germany in World War II.

1:26 p.m. Russia's unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine has come as a dire security warning for many countries. The horrifying destruction and huge casualties Ukraine has suffered have prompted political leaders around the world to start rethinking their security policies and strategies. Japan cannot remain insulated from the seismic shift triggered by the war in Ukraine. Nikkei commentator Hiroyuki Akita describes how the war underscores the urgency of buttressing the nation's defense system and alliances. Read more.

6:30 a.m. The upcoming anniversary of Russia's liberation at the end of World War II will have no bearing on Moscow's military operations in Ukraine, the country's foreign minister said on Italian television. "Our soldiers won't base their actions on a specific date," Sergey Lavrov said when asked whether the May 9 anniversary would mark a turning point in the conflict. "We'll commemorate our victory in a solemn manner but the timing and speed of what is happening in Ukraine will hinge on the need to minimize risks for civilians and Russian soldiers," he added.

6:00 a.m. About 70% of Asia's biggest companies lost value in the first two months of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with investors spooked by the economic fallout from the war and the impact of tough new COVID-19 lockdowns in manufacturing powerhouse China.

The market capitalization of prominent companies such as Tencent Holdings, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics dropped as high raw material costs and supply chain concerns weigh on manufacturers. But the value of energy and commodity companies in India, Thailand and Malaysia rose as their output commands higher prices. Read more.

5:55 a.m. Germany expects to completely wean itself off Russian crude oil imports by late summer, The Associated Press reports a German minister as saying.

Europe's largest economy has cut its share of Russian energy imports to 12% for oil, 8% for coal and 35% for natural gas, according to Robert Habeck, who heads Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Berlin has faced strong calls to reduce its reliance on Russian fossil fuels over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Civilians who left the area near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol look out of a bus near temporary accommodations in Ukraine on May 1.   © Reuters

12:35 a.m. More on the Mariupol evacuation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Sunday, May 1

11:03 p.m. A "safe passage operation" for civilians from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol is underway, a U.N. spokesperson confirms. The operation in the besieged Ukrainian city is being carried out in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Russia and Ukraine, having begun on Friday.

5:56 p.m. Russia's defense ministry says it has struck at weapons supplied to Ukraine by the United States and European countries and destroys a runway at a military airfield near the Ukrainian city of Odesa. The ministry says it uses high-precision Onyx missiles to strike the airfield, after Ukraine accuses Russia of knocking out a newly-constructed runway at the main airport of Odesa. Odesa regional governor Maksym Marchenko says Russia had used a Bastion missile, launched from Crimea.

5:30 p.m. A Ukrainian fighter inside a shelter in the city's bombed out Azovstal steel works says that 20 women and children had made it out of the sprawling plant. "We are getting civilians out of the rubble with ropes -- it's the elderly, women and children," says the fighter, Sviatoslav Palamar. Palamar says Russia and Ukraine were respecting a local cease-fire and he hoped the evacuated civilians would be taken to the city of Zaporizhzhia to the northwest.

Two groups of civilians left the residential area around the Azovstal steel works in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Saturday, Russian news agencies cites the defense ministry as saying on Sunday. The ministry says a total of 46 civilians had left the area and were provided with food and shelter, RIA and TASS report.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomes U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 30. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters) 

4:20 p.m. U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes an unannounced visit to Kyiv. Second in the line of succession to the president, Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since the start of the war. Zelenskyy releases a video of the visit on Twitter.

7:55 a.m. Hollywood actress and U.N. humanitarian Angelina Jolie makes a surprise visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

On Telegram, Lviv Gov. Maksym Kozytskyy says Jolie came to speak with displaced people who have found refuge in Lviv, including children undergoing treatment for injuries sustained in the missile strike on the Kramatorsk railway station in early April.

Jolie has been a UNHCR Special Envoy for Refugees since 2011.

Actress and UNHCR goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie poses for photo with children in Lviv, Ukraine on April 30.   © AP

1:07 a.m. Peace talks seem to be at a standstill as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says lifting Russia sanctions is part of negotiations with Ukraine, a claim denied by senior Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak. "The talks' agenda ... includes, among other things, the issues of denazification, the recognition of new geopolitical realities, the lifting of sanctions, the status of the Russian language," Lavrov says in comments to China's official Xinhua News Agency published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.

But Podolyak is dismissive of those comments, saying Lavrov had not attended a single negotiating round, and Ukraine did not need lessons in "denazification" or use of the Russian language from those who had attacked and occupied Ukrainian towns and cities, according to Reuters.

Saturday, April 30

11:57 p.m. The Ukrainian military says a Russian missile strike on Odesa airport has damaged the runway and it can no longer be used.

11:25 p.m. Ukraine and Russia carry out a prisoner exchange, with seven soldiers and seven civilians coming home to Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says. One of the soldiers was a woman who is five months' pregnant, she adds.

9:00 p.m. French President Emmanuel Macron says France will step up military and humanitarian support to Ukraine during a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to Reuters, Macron reiterates his "strong concern" over Russia's bombing of Ukrainian cities and the "unbearable situation" in the southeastern port city of Mariupol.

3:09 p.m. Russian forces have stolen "several hundred thousand tons" of grain in the areas of Ukraine they occupy, Ukraine's deputy agriculture minister says. Speaking to Ukrainian national TV, Taras Vysotskiy expressed concern that most of what he said was 1.5 million tons of grain stored in occupied territory could also be stolen by Russian forces. Ukraine's foreign ministry on Thursday accused Russia of stealing grain in territory it has occupied, an act it said increased the threat to global food security.

2:20 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is on a five-nation tour framed as "protecting peace" as Russia's war against Ukraine divides the Group of 20.

On his first stop, in Indonesia, Kishida stood beside Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Friday to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Unilateral changes to the status quo by force are unacceptable, and we affirmed that we will urge a peaceful resolution to conflict based on international law," Kishida said at a joint news conference in Jakarta. He is also visiting Vietnam, Thailand, Italy and the U.K. before returning to Japan next Friday. Read more.

1:57 a.m. Russia appears close to averting an expected debt default after claiming it made two overdue dollar-bond payments Friday totaling $649 million, sent in dollars.

After U.S. authorities this month stopped American banks from processing such payments, Russia said it would pay in rubles, which is not permitted by the terms of the bonds. It may now be taking a different approach. Russia could dodge default if investors get their dollars before a 30-day grace period that expires May 4.

1:30 a.m. Japan's foreign minister calls on Kazakhstan to side with members of the international community taking a stand against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Yoshimasa Hayashi made the request at a meeting with Kazakh counterpart Mukhtar Tileuberdi in Nur-Sultan, following Kazakhstan's abstention last month from the U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia.

Friday, April 29

10:00 p.m. Russia has not decided whether President Vladimir Putin will attend the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia in person or virtually, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says.

Indonesia has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the November G-20 summit in Bali, despite protests from some Western countries.   © Reuters

9:00 p.m. Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted his invitation to the Group of 20 summit.

Widodo says he emphasized the importance of ending the war immediately in a phone conversation with the Russian leader. "I also emphasize that a peaceful solution can continue to be put forward, and Indonesia is ready to contribute to the peace effort," he says.

The Indonesian leader also says he turned down a request for arms from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a separate phone call, and urged both Zelenskyy and Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

Indonesia, the current chair of the Group of 20 major economies, has invited both Zelenskyy and Putin to the November leaders summit in Bali, despite pressure from some Western countries to exclude the latter. Ukraine is not a member of the G-20, but chairs of the group have previously invited guest countries.

8:07 p.m. The Bank of Russia cuts its key interest rate by 300 basis points for the second time this month, to 14%, looking to stimulate more lending in the economy amid high inflation, surprising analysts who had forecast a smaller reduction.

The Russian ruble strengthens to 74.0525 against the euro, the highest in more than two years, and reaches 70.3075 to the dollar in Moscow trade before paring some gains, supported by capital controls.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shake hands at a joint news conference in Kyiv on April 28.   © Reuters

7:00 a.m. Efforts to create a humanitarian corridor for civilians trapped in a Mariupol steel plant continue after United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, with Guterres calling the situation in the besieged city an "apocalypse."

"I can only tell you we are doing everything we can to make it happen," Guterres tells reporters after the meeting. "I am not going to enter into any comments that would undermine that possibility, because my first and only priority is the people that suffer and the people that must be rescued."

Zelenskyy later says five Russian missiles flew into Kyiv "immediately after the end" of his talks with the U.N. chief.

2:40 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden asks Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine -- a dramatic escalation of American funding for the war with Russia -- and for new tools to siphon assets from Russian oligarchs.

1:00 a.m. China's biggest oil refiner, Sinopec Group, has been unloading excess liquefied natural gas to European buyers, the company says, in transactions that appear to run counter to China's objections to Russian sanctions.

Sinopec's Hong Kong-listed subsidiary confirms during a first quarter earnings call that it is reselling part of its LNG stockpile on the "international market" in commenting on sales to Europe.

"These are pure market transactions," a Sinopec representative says. "We are trading LNG on a global scale based on commercialization and diversification principles." Read more.

Thursday, April 28

11:00 p.m. As Western energy groups pull out of Russia, Chinese oil driller CNOOC says the company has "no plan to exit from any particular region."

All of CNOOC's overseas projects are operating smoothly, and the company has felt no impact from the Russia-Ukraine war or any related sanctions, Chief Financial Officer Xie Weizhi tells an earnings conference.

Xie says CNOOC "neither has a plan nor has taken specific actions" regarding assets in Russia being departed by Western energy groups. Read more.

10:30 p.m. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday is dominated by how to respond to Russia's aggression and the economic impact of its war on Ukraine. The two leaders discuss help for Ukraine and agree that Scholz's flight home on the government plane also will carry aid items from Japan to Ukraine.

Earlier, Scholz tells Japanese business leaders: "In the future, hydrogen will be an alternative to today's gas and coal. By promoting the development of hydrogen through Japan-Germany cooperation, we can bring about prosperity on a wide scale." Read more.

10:21 p.m. The U.S. accuses Moscow of planning to stage fake independence votes in captured areas of southern and eastern Ukraine to justify the Russian invasion.

10:18 p.m. Finland will not pay for Russian gas in rubles despite Russia's request for European countries to do so, says Tytti Tuppurainen, the Finnish minister in charge of European affairs.

5:52 p.m. A Russian court has fined social media network Twitter 3 million rubles ($41,000) for not removing banned content from its site, Interfax news agency reports. The fine was imposed after Twitter failed to delete content banned in Russia, including posts with instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails, Interfax said, citing the court. Earlier, Interfax reported that Russia fined U.S. internet giant Google the same amount for refusing to remove banned content from video-sharing site YouTube.

5:00 p.m. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says it would be legitimate for Ukrainian forces to target Russian logistics, but they were unlikely to use British weapons. Moscow has accused London of provoking Ukraine to strike targets in Russia, saying there would be an immediate "proportional response" if it continued. "If Ukraine did choose to target logistics infrastructure for the Russian army, that would be legitimate under international law," Wallace told BBC TV. He said any long-range weapons were unlikely to come from Britain however, because Ukrainian forces tend to use mobile launchers, while the British Army would deliver them from the air or sea.

4:19 p.m. Japan Tobacco says it is considering selling off its Russian operations, JT International Russia, in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. The company controls nearly 40% of the Russian cigarette market, but stated that it is "continuing to evaluate various options for its Russia business, including a potential transfer of ownership."

12:52 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin warns of "lightning-fast" retaliation if countries intervene in Ukraine. Russia has told the United States to stop sending arms to Ukraine, saying large Western deliveries of weapons are inflaming the conflict. Addressing lawmakers in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, Putin said, "If someone intends to intervene in the ongoing events from the outside, and create strategic threats for Russia that are unacceptable to us, they should know that our retaliatory strikes will be lightning-fast," according to video of his address supplied by Russian media. "We have all the tools for this, things no one else can boast of having now. And we will not boast -- we will use them if necessary. And I want everyone to know that."

12:36 p.m. In the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early in the war, a series of explosions boomed near the television tower late Wednesday and at least temporarily knocked Russian channels off the air, Ukrainian and Russian news organizations report. The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said missiles and rockets were fired at the city from the direction of the Ukrainian forces to the northwest. Russian channels began broadcasting from Kherson last week.

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan from May 20 to 24 to strengthen ties with Washington's two main Asian allies.   © Reuters

11:20 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and Japan from May 20 to 24 to advance a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and strengthen ties with the two Asian allies, the White House says. It will be his first trip to the region since taking office last year. Through a series of meetings, including the Quad summit of the United States, Japan, Australia and India, Biden is likely to affirm with Indo-Pacific nations their responses to Russia's war in Ukraine, China's assertiveness in the region and North Korea's nuclear and missile ambitions.

10:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden will deliver remarks on Thursday morning "on support for Ukrainians defending their country and their freedom against Russia's brutal war," the White House says.

6:29 a.m. Canadian lawmakers vote unanimously to call Russia's attacks in Ukraine "genocide," with members of parliament agreeing that there is "ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity" being committed by Moscow.

4:38 a.m. The European Commission proposes a one-year suspension of import duties on all Ukrainian goods not covered by an existing free trade deal to help the country's economy during the war with Russia. The measures apply in particular to fruit and vegetables, subject to minimum price requirements, agricultural products facing quotas and certain industrial goods.

The European Union also would exempt Ukraine from safeguard measures that limit steel imports, and lift anti-dumping tariffs the EU currently imposes on Ukrainian steel tubes, hot-rolled flat steel products and ironing boards. The proposal needs to be agreed on by the European Parliament and EU governments to come into force.

12:12 a.m. Exxon Mobil's Russian unit Exxon Neftegas declares force majeure for its Sakhalin-1 operations, Reuters reports. The Sakhalin-1 project produces oil off the coast of Russia's Far East, exporting crude mostly to South Korea but also to Japan and other countries.

Project stakeholders including Exxon and India's Oil and Natural Gas are having difficulty chartering tankers to ship oil out of a region that generally needs ice vessels to navigate the journey, as shippers fear reputation risk, Reuters reports.

For earlier updates, click here.

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