Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy gave his late-night address on Saturday.
In it he says Russia’s aggression is not, and has never been, limited to Ukraine, and the whole of Europe is a target.
Zelenskiy again urged the west to impose a total embargo on Russian energy products and to supply Ukraine with more weapons.
Russia’s use of force was “a catastrophe that will inevitably hit everyone”, he added.
With Russian forces gathering in the east of the country, Zelenskiy said Ukraine was ready for a tough battle.
This will be a hard battle, we believe in this fight and our victory. We are ready to simultaneously fight and look for diplomatic ways to put an end to this war.
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said Zelenskiy and Vladimir Putin would not meet until after Russia was defeated in the east.
Johnson’s Kyiv visit ‘timely and very important’, says Zelenskiy adviser
One of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s advisers has called Boris Johnson’s visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv “very timely and very important”.
Speaking on BBC One’s Sunday Morning Ihor Zhovkva, a senior diplomatic adviser to Zelenskiy, said that the UK prime minister “did not come empty handed”, with the pair discussing various types of support the UK could offer, including anti-ship missiles and financial support.
Zhovkva said the anti-ship missiles would help defend cities like Odesa under attack by Russian warships.
The message from Zhovkva was clear. Ukraine needed “weapons, weapons and more weapons”, he said.
A UK crossbench peer offering her home to a fleeing Ukrainian family has said the UK’s visa scheme is “unwelcoming” and adding to refugees’ trauma.
Lady Finlay is offering space in her Cardiff home to a mother and two children, but has been waiting for three weeks for their visas to be cleared through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, PA reports.
Her husband, Professor Andrew Finlay, spent eight hours filling out forms for their visa applications on 18 March, the day the scheme launched, she said.
The father of the family, who were already known to her and her husband, is a doctor and has remained in Kyiv, she said. The couple has also submitted an application for him in the event he also leaves Ukraine due to injury or other reasons.
He’s decided to stay to serve his country and he’s basically entrusted his wife and two children to us. We’ve said we will do whatever is needed for however long to support them, and we know that it might be years.
Each of the family’s four applications had to be made separately. And despite repeated efforts in person at a visa information centre and over the phone, the only official response has been four separate emails on Thursday to say each applicant is “in the system” to be processed.
The silence is awful… nobody can help me find out what’s happened to these people’s applications. I think there is a failure of recognition that this uncertainty is adding to the trauma that these people have already experienced.
These aren’t just pieces of paper, these are people… and these are people who have lost everything.
We need to provide an environment where they know that they are welcome and they are safe – how can they feel welcome?
The message from the system is that the country is not welcoming them.
Finlay described the preparations she and her husband have taken to make their home welcoming to the family – including clearing space in their kitchen, installing a radio which can be tuned into Ukrainian radio and washing soft toys for the younger child.
Finlay said the Home Office was “not functioning as it should”.
This feels as if it’s totally reactive, as if nobody had looked carefully at the visa application processes over recent years and said: ‘in the event of a major conflict in the world, where all of a sudden, we have to deal with a mass migration of people, how are we going to do it?’
A government spokesperson said:
We continue to process visas for the Homes for Ukraine scheme as quickly as possible, but accept progress has not been quick enough.
The Home Office has made changes to visa processing – the application form has been streamlined, Ukrainian passport holders can now apply online and do their biometrics checks once in the UK, and greater resource has gone into the system.
PA has a moving story of the reception two men who drove two ambulances full of medical supplies into Ukraine.
Charles Blackmore, a British executive who founded commercial intelligence specialists Audere International in 2015, drove one of the two vehicles from the UK to Lutsk via Warsaw, arriving in the Ukrainian city on Friday evening.
Blackmore was moved to do something more personal after speaking to his American friend Herb Holtz, whose grandfather left Ukraine in 1905.
Speaking from Warsaw’s Chopin Airport on his way back to the UK, he told the PA news agency that the pair had been given an “incredible reception” by the while Ukrainians welcomed them with speeches, and patriotic songs.
When you drive through checkpoints, when you drive through cities in curfew, when 70% of the city of Lutsk – which is 200,000 people – have left the city, you’re going into a ghost town.
And when you see what is happening, to be able to bring the aid to the people was a very important journey.
Audere, which provides intelligence to parties wishing to make overseas investments, has already been active in the effort in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, helping with evacuations and conducting five resupply operations.
We had been involved in evacuating people out of Afghanistan last August.
We did not expect some seven months later to be involved in a second evacuation, this time in Europe.
But when it happened we decided that we did actually want, and we had the right operating template, to be able to contribute to the humanitarian aid, to the evacuation and to providing support for the Ukrainian people.
The company has delivered two tonnes of food and 300 litres of liquids, as well as essential items like first aid and clothes, and extensive medical supplies.
Blackmore said he was moved to do something more personal after speaking to his American friend Holtz.
He said, ‘I want to do something meaningful. ‘My grandfather was Ukrainian, he left in 1905. I want to do something more than write a check’.
So I said, ‘Let’s buy a couple of ambulances, one each, and let’s both first take them down, take them into Ukraine, and see the end result’.
The ambulances were sourced were sourced via a charity in the UK and filled with two tonnes of medical supplies.
And although they were delivered to Lutsk, in western Ukraine, Blackmore said he had been assured the vehicles and supplies would be going “right to the front line” including Bucha.
Blackmore said the Ukrainians “really appreciate” the help and support coming from the UK.
What impressed us most was the cheerfulness and the resolve of the Ukrainian people.
And it’s very important that we stand even closer behind them and give them the more support and we’re going to look to do that ourselves.
Nine humanitarian corridors to help people escape fighting in the east
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said that Kyiv has agreed the use of nine humanitarian corridors to help people to escape heavy fighting in the east of the country, including in private cars from Mariupol.
In a statement on her Telegram channel on Sunday Vereshchuk said:
All the routes for the humanitarian corridors in the Luhansk region will work as long as there is a ceasefire by the occupying Russian troops.
A total of 4,553 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, fewer than the 6,665 who escaped on Friday, Vereshchuk said on Saturday.
Good morning from London, I’m Lexy Topping and I’ll be keeping you up to date on news coming out of Ukraine today. Please do get in touch if you want to draw attention to any news we may have missed – I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org, and @lexytopping on Twitter. My DMs are open.
Quick snap here from Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
“Ukraine will prevail and rise back even stronger. And the EU will continue to stand by you, every step of the way,” Borrell tweeted this morning.
Today so far
It is 10am on Sunday in Ukraine as the country braces for an escalation in attacks in the east and evacuations of civilians continue.
Here’s where things stand:
- A recently discovered grave with dozens of Ukrainian civilians has been found in Buzova, a liberated village near the capital Kyiv, local officials said.
- Residents in the besieged region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine will be able to evacuate the area today with nine trains ready for civilians to flee, the regional governor has said.
- A school and several apartment buildings were hit by shelling in the Luhansk and Dnipro regions early on Sunday morning, wounding one person and causing a fire, officials said.
- Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has warned his country “does not have time to wait”, while pushing for an oil embargo on Russia in his latest national address. “Oil is one of the two sources of Russian self-confidence, their sense of impunity,” he said.
- Zelenskiy said his country is ready for a tough battle with Russian forces amassing in the east of the country. “This will be a hard battle; we believe in this fight and our victory. We are ready to simultaneously fight and look for diplomatic ways to put an end to this war.”
- The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, pledged a major new infusion of British arms and financial aid during a surprise trip to Kyiv on Saturday. Johnson said the UK and its partners and allies will provide support so that “Ukraine will never be invaded again”. The UK confirmed it will send 120 armoured vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems.
- Johnson praised Zelenskiy’s “resolute leadership” and “invincible heroism”. “[Vladimir] Putin’s monstrous aims are being thwarted,” Johnson said. The reputations of the Russian president and his government have been “permanently polluted” by war crimes against civilians in Ukraine, he added.
- Russia’s withdrawal from northern Ukraine has left evidence of “disproportionate targeting” of civilians, mass graves, the use of hostages as human shields, according to the latest British intelligence report. The report also claimed Russian forces continue to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to inflict casualties, lower Ukrainian morale and restrict freedom of movement.
- In response to mounting losses, the Russian armed forces are seeking to bolster troop numbers with personnel discharged from military service since 2012, the UK’s ministry of defence said.
- The Ukrainian military said its soldiers thwarted eight Russian attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to its latest operational report as of 6am this morning. Officials claim Russian forces are attempting to break through the Ukrainian defences in Izum in Kharkiv, east Ukraine, by relocating additional units to the area.
- Satellite images released by US private space technology company Maxar Technologies show a 13km-long (8miles) military convoy moving south through the eastern Ukraine town of Velkyi Burluk, east of Kharkiv, on 8 April.
- Unconfirmed reports allege that another top Russian general has died in battle in Ukraine. Colonel Alexander Bespalov, the commander of the 59th Guards Tank Regiment, was reportedly killed and a funeral was held on Friday in the Russian city of Ozersk, according to local media reports.
- Nato is working on plans for a permanent military presence on its border in an effort to battle future Russian aggression, the Telegraph is reporting, citing Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.
Some of the latest images to come out of Ukraine today highlight the continued destruction inflicted upon cities across the country.
Nato is working on plans for a permanent military presence on its border in an effort to battle future Russian aggression, The Telegraph is reporting, citing Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Nato was “in the midst of a very fundamental transformation” that will reflect “the long-term consequences” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, Stoltenberg said in an interview with the newspaper.
“What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a longer-term adaptation of Nato,” it cited Stoltenberg as saying.
Stoltenberg, who recently said he would extend his term as head of the alliance by a year, also said in the interview that decisions on the reset would be made at a Nato summit to be held in Madrid in June.
Russian military convoy heads east of Kharkiv, satellite images and Ukraine military report
The Ukrainian military has just published its latest operational report as of 6am this morning.
Officials claim Russian forces are attempting to break through the Ukrainian defences in Izum in Kharkiv, east Ukraine, by relocating additional units to the area while also attempting to establish full control over the city of Mariupol.
A partial blockade of Kharkiv and shelling of the city continues, Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces said.
Satellite images released by US private space technology company Maxar Technologies show an eight-mile-long military convoy moving south through the eastern Ukraine town of Velkyi Burluk on 8 April.
The town sits to the east of Kharkiv, close to Ukraine’s border with Russia.
The “constant arrival of wounded [Russian] soldiers” is putting strain on medical staff and overwhelming medical supplies, the Ukraine defence report added.
In the absence of a stable supply of spare parts and units, Russian troops are forced to “work around the clock” to restore and repair equipment, officials claimed.
In the Luhansk region, the measures of Russian-occupation administrations on forced mobilisation of the population in temporarily occupied territories are being strengthened.
According to the report, in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukrainian soldiers thwarted eight Russian attacks, destroyed four tanks, eight units of armoured vehicles and 13 air targets including three aircraft, one helicopter, five UAVs and four winged missiles.