Live: UK urges West to send more more tanks, planes and heavy weapons to Ukraine

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Live: UK urges West to send more more tanks, planes and heavy weapons to Ukraine

A Soviet era monument to friendship between Ukraine and Russia in Kyiv during its demolition on Tuesday April 26, 2022.   —  

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin met one-on-one Tuesday for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, with the United Nations later saying that the pair had agreed in principle on the UN and Red Cross being involved in the evacuation of civilians from the besieged steel plant in Mariupol.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom announced that it was suspending gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, after the two countries refused to pay for gas in rubles. European gas prices have spiked by as much as 24% as a result.

Read the blog below to see how events unfolded on Wednesday 27 April:

06:58

    The British government has urged Western countries to send more tanks, planes, and heavy weapons to Ukraine. Russia accused Britain of «Russophobic hysteria» on Wednesday as it banned 287 UK politicians. 

    Gazprom suspends gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria, with the EU describing it as ‘blackmail’.

    Russia warned more countries could be cutoff from state-owned Gazprom gas if they don’t give in to a Russian demand to pay for the gas in rubles instead of euros, after a freeze on Russian hard currency assets.  

    Austria’s chancellor says any suggestion that his country will pay for Russian gas in rubles, not euros, amounts to ‘fake news propaganda.» 

    The biggest automobile association in Germany has told its 21 million members to ease their foot of the pedal to lower speeds and help reduce reliance on Russian fuel.   

    Ukraine retains control over the majority of its airspace, according to the latest intelligence report from the British Ministry of Defence.

    Germany close to gas independence from Russia, says vice chancellor.

    UN chief and Russia’s Putin agree in principle that the UN and Red Cross should be involved in the evacuation of civilians from the besieged steel plant in Mariupol.

    Refugees continue to stream out of eastern Ukraine.

14:15

Strikes on strategic bridge could affect Ukrainian grain exports

Russia launched two missile strikes and damaged a strategic bridge in Ukraine’s Odessa region, state railways and local officials said on Wednesday, an event that could affect Ukrainian plans to expand exports through Danube ports.

The bridge across the Dniester Estuary is a part of the only fully Ukrainian-controlled railway route to Ukraine’s ports on the Danube, which Kyiv regard as a promising route for exports in a situation where Black Sea ports are blocked.

Ukraine, a major agricultural producer, used to export most of its goods through seaports but since Russia’s invasion in February has been forced to export by train via its western border or via its small Danube river ports.

The first attack was on Tuesday evening, and as a result of a rocket hit the bridge over the estuary was damaged. However, according to local officials, it could be quickly restored.

The second strike was on Wednesday morning and the condition of the bridge has not yet been reported.

(Reuters)

13:55

Kremlin warns that other countries could have gas supplies cut

The Kremlin says that Russia may halt gas supplies to other European customers following a cutoff to Poland and Bulgaria if they also refuse to switch to payment in rubles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, argued that the Russian demand to switch to rubles in payments for gas resulted from the Western action to freeze Russian hard currency assets. He said those were effectively “stolen” by the West in an “unprecedented unfriendly action.”

Speaking in a conference call Wednesday with reporters, Peskov warned that other European customers may see the taps turned off if they refuse to pay for gas in rubles by the time payment is due. Peskov argued that refusing to switch to rubles reflects a Western desire to “punish Russia at any cost to the detriment of their own consumers, taxpayers and producers.”

He rejected the EU’s description of the Russian move to halt supplies to Bulgaria and Poland starting Wednesday as blackmail, insisting that “Russia has remained a reliable supplier of energy resources” and stuck to its contractual obligations.

Peskov argued that the demand for payment in rubles is purely technical and doesn’t change price or other contract conditions for consumers.

(AP)

13:44

Serbia says it’s not affected by Russian gas cutoff

Serbia says that the Russian suspension of gas supplies to Bulgaria is not affecting the Balkan country.

Serbia receives some 6 million cubic meters of Russian gas daily via neighboring Bulgaria, and Energy Minister Zorana Mihailovic in a statement on Wednesday that supplies have not been halted.

Mihailovic said authorities nonetheless were looking into backup options in case the situation becomes more complicated.

Serbia depends heavily on Russian gas and the country’s main oil monopoly is owned by the Russian giant Gazprom. The country has refused to join sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Mihailovic added that the Serbian government is already preparing plans for next winter. She said that “we have to secure energy stability in any possible way because at this moment it is every state for itself.”

Serbia sold 51% of the Serbia Oil Industry company to Gazprom in 2008.

(AP)

13:20

Russia bans 287 British politicians 

Russia on Wednesday banned 287 members of Britain’s parliament from entering the country, in retaliation for a similar move by London against Russian MPs who backed the Ukraine offensive .

«The targeted personalities, whose entry into Russia has been banned, participated most actively in the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions by London and promote an unwarranted exacerbation of Russophobic hysteria in Britain,» the statement said.

The list includes House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, Brexit Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg and Environment Secretary George Eustice. Also on the list is Diane Abbott, a close friend of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

On 16 April, Moscow had already banned Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several other senior British officials from entering Russia: Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Minister Liz Truss, Defence Minister Ben Wallace, former PM Theresa May, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.  

In the past two weeks, Russia has also barred dozens of US and Canadian lawmakers from entering, in response to similar moves by Washington and Ottawa. 

(AFP)

12:33

Pro-Russia Transnistria authorities report attack on ammunition depot

Authorities in Moldova’s pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria said on Wednesday that a village on the border with Ukraine housing a large Russian army ammunition depot had been fired upon.

«Last night, several drones were spotted over the village of Kolbasna,» Transnistrian authorities said in a statement, adding that on Wednesday morning, «shots were fired in the direction of Kolbasna from Ukraine,» without causing any casualties.

The village of Kolbasna — Cobasna in Romanian — is located about two kilometres from the Ukrainian border.

A large arms depot, dating from the Soviet period, is under the control of Russian soldiers deployed in the breakaway territory which is sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. 

The self-proclaimed «republic» of Transnistria broke away from Moldova in 1992, after a short war with Chisinau. Since then, about 1,500 Russian troops have been stationed there.

In recent days, fears that the conflict in Ukraine could spread to Transnistria have grown, after a Russian general claimed that the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine was aimed at establishing a corridor to the breakaway region.

Separatists said a series of explosions occurred on Monday and Tuesday in the self-proclaimed «republic».

In response, Moldova announced measures to tighten its security and called for calm.

For its part, Kiev accused Russia of wanting to «destabilise» Transnistria in order to justify military intervention.

(AFP)

11:31

Germans told to take their foot off the pedal to reduce Russian fuel reliance 

Germany’s influential ADAC auto club is calling on its 21 million members to help reduce the country’s oil imports from Russia by driving less and taking their foot off the gas where possible.

In an open letter posted on its website Wednesday, the club’s leadership said driving more slowly and anticipating stops were among the ways drivers could reduce fuel consumption by up to 20%.

They also urged drivers to consider whether they really need to take the car or could switch to walking, cycling or public transport instead.

The German government says it wants to wean the country off Russian oil imports by the end of the year.

(AP) 

11:07

Austrian Chancellor refutes ‘propaganda’ claims over gas payments

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is pushing back against «fake news» claims he says are spreading in Russian media, that Austria would break EU sanctions and pay for Russian gas deliveries in rubles. 

Russia’s state-owned Gazprom has cut off supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after President Putin’s demands to be paid for the gas in rubles were not met. 

«Before fake news of Russian propaganda is spread further hear» wrote Nehammer. 

«Of course [Austrian oil and gas company] OMV will continue to pay for gas deliveries from Russia in euros. Austria is sticking to the jointly agreed EU sanctions to the point and comma» he said. 

10:53

UK says West should send heavy weapons, tanks and planes to Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says the West should send more military equipment, including planes, to Ukraine to bolster its fight against the Russian invasion. 

In a speech in London on Wednesday morning, Truss says «the fate of Ukraine remains in the balance» and calls for Western nations to increase military support for Kyiv. 

“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes – digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production.”

She says that “if Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again. So we must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine.»

Truss is also calling for tougher economic sanctions on Russia, saying the West must cut off Russian oil and gas imports “once and for all.”

Extracts of the speech were released in advance by the Foreign Office.

NATO nations have supplied Ukraine with military gear including missiles and armored vehicles, but have been reluctant to send fighter planes out of concern about escalating the conflict.

(AP) 

10:46

Hungary gas supplies ‘unaffected’ by Gazprom action

Hungary’s foreign minister says his country’s supply of Russian natural gas is unaffected by the decision of Russia’s Gazprom to cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Peter Szijjarto said in a video on Facebook Wednesday that “the news that Gazprom’s deliveries to Bulgaria have stopped may be worrying,” but the transit of Russian gas to Hungary via Bulgaria would continue.

He said: “I would like to reassure everybody that the non-delivery of gas to Bulgaria does not mean the stop of transit through Bulgaria.”

Gazprom said it would suspend gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland beginning on Wednesday after those countries refused to comply with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that European countries pay for gas in rubles.

Szijjarto said Hungary receives around 3.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year via a pipeline that passes through Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia. He added that supply was assured after Hungary reached an agreement with Russia whereby gas payments would be made to Gazprombank in euros and then converted into rubles.

(AP)

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