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Live Reporting

Edited by Jude Sheerin

All times stated are UK

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  1. Russia among military big spenders

    Theo Leggett

    BBC International Business Correspondent

    Global military spending exceeded $2tn (£1.6tn) for the first time in 2021, with Russia's increased significantly, a new report says.

    It was the seventh year in which the total had risen, the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.

    The rise in military spending is set to continue, as European countries build up their armed forces in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    The US spent more than $800bn on its military last year, more than double that of any other country.

    Russia increased its military spending by nearly 3%, helped by higher oil and gas revenues, as it built up its forces on the Ukrainian border.

  2. Finland and Sweden will announce Nato membership bids in May - reports


    Finland and Sweden are gearing up to announce at the same time in May that they want to join Nato, Finnish and Swedish tabloids have reported.

    Both countries are militarily non-aligned but Russia's invasion of Ukraine has prompted increasing public support for joining the Western defensive alliance.

    Finnish newspaper Iltalehti says it believes the leaders of Finland and Sweden plan to meet in the week of 16 May and then announce that they will apply to join Nato.

    Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto declined to comment.

    The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, citing unnamed sources, also said it believed the two countries would make announcements that week, at the same time as each other.

    Russia has warned of a nuclear build-up in the Baltic should Finland and Sweden join Nato.

  3. Reality Check

    Why India has rebuffed pressure to shun Russia

    MiG-29 at Hindan air base, Ghaziabad
    Image caption: A MiG-29 on display at an air base in india

    India has been under pressure to help isolate Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. But it has long-standing defence ties to Moscow. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, visiting the US, has said that while India would like to be a “good friend” to Western countries, it needed to protect its interests and ensure its security.

    Data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), shows that India is one of the world’s largest buyers of weapons. And since 1992, about two-thirds of its military equipment has come from Russia.

    It has diversified its sources of weapons in recent years, buying more equipment from other countries. But if you look at the period from 2016 to 2021, Russia continued to be by far the largest supplier of weapons to India, accounting for twice as much as the next biggest supplier, France.

  4. White House won't rule out sanctions for Russia's 'secret first lady'

    The US believes that Alina Kabaeva has given birth to Putin's children
    Image caption: Alina Kabaeva is a 38-year old Olympic gold medalist

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied at Monday's daily press briefing the US was deliberately holding off on sanctioning the woman believed to be Putin's girlfriend.

    "We're continuing to review sanctions," Psaki said when asked why Russian politician and ex-gymnast Alina Kabaeva had not yet been targeted.

    "No-one is safe from our sanctions," Psaki continued.

    "We've already of course sanctioned President Putin, but also his daughter and his closest cronies, and we will continue to review more," she added.

    Calls have been rising for the US to sanction the 38-year old Olympic gold medalist, as the US has done to Putin's two adult daughters.

    Putin is known for being intensely private about his personal life, and has never acknowledged any romantic relationship with Russia's "secret first lady", as she has been dubbed in the Russian and foreign press.

    According to a Wall Street Journal report, US officials have withheld sanctions on Kabaeva due to concerns that Putin would view it as a personal attack.

    It would be viewed as "so personal a blow to Mr Putin that it could further escalate tensions between Russia and the US", the Journal wrote.

  5. A quick recap

    Traction substation near Lviv
    Image caption: An railway electricity substation near Lviv was damaged in a Russian strike aimed at halting the supply of foreign weapons

    If you're just joining us, here's a round-up of the latest events in Ukraine.

    • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Western arms shipments to Ukraine mean Nato is "in essence engaged in war with Russia" and there is "considerable" risk of the conflict going nuclear
    • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responds that Lavrov is just trying to "scare the world off supporting Ukraine"
    • Russia earlier said it had attacked six railway facilities in central and western Ukraine, with the aim of blocking the supply of foreign weaponry to Ukraine
    • At least five people were killed and 18 wounded in the attacks, local officials said
    • President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation that it is impossible to predict when the war will end, but he claimed Ukraine's victory was inevitable
    • In Kherson, the only major city that Russia has taken and continues to occupy, Russian armed men seized control of the council building, the mayor said
    • Officials in the Russian-backed separatist region of Transnistria in neighbouring Moldova reported explosions at the state security ministry, saying it appeared to have been hit with rocket-propelled grenades
    • But Ukraine's defence ministry said it was a "planned provocation" by Russia aimed at fomenting war in the region
    • Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has confirmed the UK is giving Ukraine "a small number" of Stormer armoured vehicles, fitted with launchers for Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles
    • The UK also said it estimated that about 15,000 Russian military personnel had been killed since the war began and a quarter of the invasion force was no longer "combat-effective"
  6. Lavrov: Threat of nuclear war is real

    Lavrov also acknowledged there's a possibility of the conflict escalating to nuclear weapons, though he also sounded a hopeful note about the prospects of a peace accord.

    Speaking to the Russian First Channel on Monday, he said Moscow wanted to avoid "artificially" elevated risks of such a conflict.

    "This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable," Lavrov said.

    "I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real, And we must not underestimate it."

    Lavrov also accused President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine of "pretending" to negotiate, calling him "a good actor”.

    "If you watch attentively and read attentively what he says, you'll find a thousand contradictions," Russia’s top diplomat said.

    The foreign minister said last week that Moscow was committed to avoiding a nuclear war.

    On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that Lavrov’s latest comments were an indication Russia had lost its "last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine”.

    "Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine," he tweeted.

    Days after the invasion began back on 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his nuclear forces to be on alert.

    The US and its Nato allies have said they do not want direct military intervention in Ukraine, in order to avoid the risks of a Third World War.

  7. Lavrov: 'Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia'

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
    Image caption: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said deliveries of Western weaponry to Ukraine mean that the Nato alliance is "in essence engaged in war with Russia”.

    In an interview aired on Monday, he said: "These weapons will be a legitimate target for Russia’s military acting within the context of the special operation.”

    Lavrov also told state television: "Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy. War means war."

  8. Our victory is inevitable - Zelensky


    In his nightly video address to the nation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Ukraine's victory is inevitable, but it is impossible to predict when the war will conclude.

    "Many cities and communities are still under the temporary control of the Russian army," he says in his address.

    "But I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time before we liberate our land."

    Earlier in his address, he marked the fact that the invasion, which began on 24 February, has just surpassed the three-month mark.

    Zelensky goes on to say that there is "no simple answer" to the question of when Ukraine will defeat the Russians, adding that victory - and peace - will come more quickly if every Ukrainian fights.

    "When we gain a victory, everyone will feel it. When peace comes, everyone will see it.

    "But for this to happen - and happen faster - we need to think not about when and what it will be. We must think every day about how to make the stay of the occupiers on our land even more unbearable."

    "For Russia to seek peace, every Ukrainian must still fight," he continues.

    "They must defend freedom. Because every day of struggle now adds years of peaceful life after this war. After our victory."

  9. UK donates more ambulances to Ukraine

    An ambulance being prepared for shipment to Ukraine
    Image caption: This ambulance was one of 20 donated earlier this month to the war-torn country

    The UK is donating 22 new ambulances and medical equipment to Ukraine following a request from the government there, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

    It comes just weeks after a shipment of 20 ambulances was sent to the country, as it battles against the Russian invasion.

    Medical aid charity UK-Med, which works on the front line of disasters around the world, has been given £300,000 of funding to train Ukrainian doctors, nurses and paramedics in dealing with mass casualties.

    The charity has also been given £300,000 of medicines and other pharmaceutical supplies to bring to Ukrainian medical staff.

    More than 40 fire engines have already arrived in Ukraine from the UK, after the nation saw more than 100 of its fire stations and 250 fire engines destroyed in the war.

  10. Miles from the battlefield, fires in Russia spark concern

    Steve Rosenberg

    Russia editor, reporting from Bryansk

    Still from a social media video showing smoke from fires in Bryansk
    Image caption: Plumes of smoke were captured rising into the sky from the oil depot in Bryansk on a video on social media

    The city of Bryansk is a hundred miles from Russia’s border with Ukraine. But today it looked like it was on the front line.

    Plumes of thick black smoke dominated the skyline - the consequence of fires overnight. First one fuel depot erupting in flames, and then another.

    The cause? Well, there’s been no official explanation - there is, however, much speculation. Was this the result of a Ukrainian strike to disrupt logistics for Russia’s military offensive? Was it sabotage by Russian opponents of the Kremlin’s so-called special military operation? Neither Moscow nor Kyiv is saying.

    Whatever the cause, the fires have sparked concern amongst the Russian public. Here are some of the things people told me on the streets of Bryansk:

    “This never happened before. At 3am we heard explosions. We’re amazed.”

    “I don’t know what this is. Is it war here? Well, I suppose we’re on the front line. I wonder if Ukraine did this..?”

    We have seen something similar in Belgorod, earlier this month. Another blaze at another Russian fuel depot near the border. Russia claimed Ukrainian helicopter gunships had opened fire. Kyiv wouldn’t confirm it.

    But one thing is clear. Despite President Putin’s claims that he sent his troops into Ukraine to bring Russians security, there is little sign of that.

  11. UK bans export of spy equipment to Russia

    Electronic equipment which could be used to intercept communications and spy on Ukrainians is the latest category of products to be banned by the UK for export to Russia.

    The Department for International Trade also announced the UK would remove tariffs and quotes on products from Ukraine, responding to a request from President Volodymyr Zelensky to support the country's economy as it defends itself from invasion.

    The decision would affect key Ukrainian exports such as barley, honey, tinned tomatoes and poultry, the UK said.

    Tariffs will be lifted for 12 months initially, but could be extended.

    As well as equipment used to intercept and monitor communications, the UK has previously banned the export of luxury goods, aviation and space equipment, oil refining items and advanced technologies such as quantum computing.

  12. Facing the full might of the Russian army on the Donbas front line

    Jonathan Beale

    Defence correspondent, reporting from Donbas

    Lieutenant Denys Gordeev

    Lieutenant Denys Gordeev is used to war, but not like this. "It's become much harder," he says. "We have bomb attacks, rocket attacks every day, all the time, every hour."

    Though he has spent eight years battling Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas, now he and his men are facing the full might of the Russian army.

    After its retreat from Kyiv three weeks ago, Russia has refocused its military efforts in Eastern Ukraine - with its goal of taking the whole of the Donbas region. It has redeployed many of its units to the east. Western officials estimate that Russia now has about 76 Battalion Tactical Groups in the region - each of which has about 800 men.

    They also say there's some evidence Russia's been addressing some of its early mistakes, helped by the fact they're now fighting on fewer fronts, and under a unified command.

    Map showing the eastern front of the Ukraine war

    The result is that Ukrainian forces are struggling to hold a 300-mile front in the Donbas. They've already lost ground to the Russians and are likely to lose more in the days ahead. Russian forces have been conducting probing attacks to find weak points in Ukraine's defences.

    For now the invading army is mostly using its artillery and rockets to grind down Ukraine's defences. Some military analysts expect a major assault is still to come.

    And Ukrainian forces, including Lt Gordeev and his unit, appear to be holding the line, although Western experts say they are already outnumbered three to one.

    Read the full report here.

  13. Russians have seized Kherson council building, city's mayor says

    Kherson banner

    Now some news from Kherson, the only major city that Russian forces have taken and continued to occupy.

    Its Ukrainian mayor, Ihor Kolykhayev, has reported on Facebook that Russian armed men took control of the city council building on Monday.

    Although Kherson has been under Russian occupation since early March, the city council had still been functioning under Ukrainian control.

    Kolykhayev said the Russian military took away the keys to the building and exchanged the security guards for guards of their own.

    He said he left the building at 19.45 local time.

    Pravda, a Ukrainian news outlet, reported that from 26 April, Kherson city council would not be functioning.

    It added that the mayor and employees of the city council were given the chance to go home.

  14. Poland has sent tanks to Ukraine - Polish PM

    Adam Easton

    Warsaw Correspondent

    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said his government has sent tanks to Ukraine.

    During an interview with private broadcaster Polsat News, Morawiecki was asked if Poland has sent, or will send, tanks to Ukraine. He replied "yes", without giving further details.

    He said he would announce more information “in due course” but for the time being he wouldn't reveal how many tanks have been supplied for security reasons.

    For several weeks now, it’s been rumoured that Poland has been supplying Ukraine with Soviet-era T-72 tanks. The Ministry of Defence had refused to comment on the rumours.

    Morawiecki said that the matter of Poland supplying Ukraine with Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets is now “closed”. In March, Poland said it was ready to deploy the jets to the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany and put them at the disposal of the US military, but Washington rejected the offer.

    “There is no such necessity, there are no such demands, no such requests,” he said, when asked if sending planes to Ukraine was still being considered.

  15. Reports of explosions in Russian-backed separatist region of Moldova

    Several explosions have hit the state security ministry in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria, the interior ministry said on its Telegram channel.

    The ministry said the building appeared to have been hit with rocket-propelled grenades, but it said no one was injured.

    It comes days after a Russian general suggested Moscow wanted to take full control of southern Ukraine, giving Russia access to the separatist region of Moldova which it supports.

    He said there was "oppression of the Russian-speaking population" in Transnistria, a claim which had also been made - without evidence - to justify the invasion of Ukraine.

    Ukraine's defence ministry said the incident was a "planned provocation" by Russia itself to instil "panic and anti-Ukrainian sentiment".

    A small Russian-speaking breakaway region, Transnistria borders Ukraine from the west. It claimed independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in a bloody conflict, but is not recognised internationally and officially remains part of Moldova.

    Map showing Transnistria and southern Ukraine
  16. Ceasefire in Ukraine not a good option - Russian diplomat

    Dmitry Polyansiy

    A senior Russian diplomat has said a ceasefire is not a good option at the moment, because it will give Ukrainian forces the chance to "regroup and to stage more provocations".

    Earlier today, Russia announced that it would be holding a ceasefire around the steelworks in the besieged city of Mariupol from 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT), to allow civilians to leave.

    But Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said no agreement had been reached and called for written security guarantees.

    Russia's first deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said Ukraine had claimed that there were some civilians in the Azovstal steel plant, where the last Ukrainian fighters in the city are holed up, but Ukrainian forces "did not let them go".

    He went on to say that Russia had not attacked residential areas in Odesa, Ukraine's Black Sea port city, over the weekend.

    On Saturday, Ukraine said that two missiles struck a military facility and two residential buildings in the city. But Polyanskiy said the residential buildings were hit by Ukraine air defences.

    He went on to reject the comments made by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who said Russia had failed to achieve its aims in the invasion.

    Polyanskiy said: "I don't think we failed, frankly." He added that Russia is conducting its "military operation" and it has "its own aims" and "its own strategies".

  17. Ukraine family stuck in limbo for weeks waiting for UK visa

    Nikita Shepel, with grandparents Oleksandr and Vira
    Image caption: Nikita, Oleksandr and Vira have been living in a succession of temporary lodgings as they wait for news of a visa

    A disabled teenaged refugee from Ukraine and his grandparents have been stuck in Paris for more than six weeks as they wait for their UK visa application to be processed.

    Kateryna Karpenko persuaded her nephew Nikita Shepel, and her parents Oleksandr and Vira, to flee Russian shelling and apply to come to join her in the UK, where she has lived for almost 10 years.

    But amid complaints that the UK Home Office has conducted a chaotic and overly-bureaucratic response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, the estimated five working day wait for a visa has turned into more than a month in limbo, costing them thousands of pounds in accommodation.

    "They had to go through a lot, fleeing Ukraine, and they have no idea what's happening with our home, our family, our lives," says Kateryna.

    A UK government spokesman said changes the Home Office has made to the system, including simpler forms and increase staff numbers, are working.

    Read more

  18. Veteran diplomat Bridget Brink named US ambassador to Ukraine

    Bridget Brink

    US President Joe Biden has named the veteran diplomat Bridget Brink as the new US ambassador to Ukraine.

    Earlier today, the White House announced that Brink would be moving to fill "a crucial position", which has been vacant for the past three years.

    Washington said Brink's appointment came at a time when the US was ramping up its support for Ukraine, amid Russia's invasion.

    The new ambassador is currently serving as the US ambassador to Slovakia and has been a diplomat for 25 years.

    The White House added that Brink's "decades of experience make her uniquely suited for this moment in Ukraine’s history".

  19. Rail facilities destroyed to block foreign arms supply - Russia

    Damaged traction substation near Lviv
    Image caption: A firefighter surveys the damage at an electricity substation powering the railway near Lviv

    We've been bringing you updates on the reports of attacks on railway infrastructure in Ukraine, which Ukrainian officials say killed five people.

    Earlier, Ukraine said Russia was trying to disrupt supply lines for military equipment from foreign countries. Now Russia has confirmed that was the purpose of the attacks, according to Reuters.

    The news agency is citing a statement from the Russian defence ministry, saying its missiles destroyed six facilities powering the railways that were used to supply Ukrainian forces with weapons from abroad.

    Ukrainian officials said five railway stations in the centre and west of the country came under attack within an hour this morning.

    An electricity substation powering overhead lines in Krasne, near Lviv, was also hit in a missile strike.

  20. Ukraine defence minister thanks US for 'true brotherhood'

    Ukraine's defence minister has thanked the US for their military assistance - describing the relationship between the two nation's as as a "true brotherhood".

    Oleksii Reznikov's comments on Twitter follow the visit to Kyiv on Sunday by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

    Mr Reznikov said the support given by the Biden administration is "not measured in money, but in the saved lives of Ukrainians".

    During the visit, it was announced that US diplomats will begin returning to Ukraine and the Washington will provide Ukraine with a further $700m in military aid.

    Mr Reznikov also shared a video where he can be seen shaking hands and embracing Austin, accompanied by the caption: "This is more than partnership of state officials - this is true brotherhood."

    View more on twitter