Russia-Ukraine war live: Nordic and Baltic countries push for more support for Ukraine | World news

‘We support increased role for Nato in providing security related assistance to Ukraine,’ says Swedish foreign minister

We’ve got a bit more from Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billstrom on the Nordic and Baltic nations pushing for more support for Ukraine. He said:

We support an increased role for Nato in providing security related assistance to Ukraine and coordinating military support and equipment.

He added that the eight Nordic and Baltic nations had agreed to assemble a group of experts that will help support Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union.

This offers an opportunity to facilitate Ukraine’s path towards membership in the European family.


Updated at 15.01 CEST

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Russian airstrikes kill at least three people

Russian air strikes on Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region on Wednesday afternoon hit a clinic and a pharmacy, killing at least three people, a local official said.

Kharkiv and the surrounding region have long been targeted by Russian attacks but the strikes have become more intense over recent weeks, hitting civilian and energy infrastructure.

A 14-year-old girl, and two women were killed in the village of Lyptsi, where a pharmacy came under attack, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said on Telegram.

Two more people were injured, and rescuers continued searching through the rubble for victims.

Two guided bombs destroyed a clinic in Vovchansk, injuring one person, Synehubov said. Separately, Russian troops dropped an explosive on a bus, wounding a man, according to the interior ministry.

ShareSwitzerland to host peace summit in June

The Swiss government will host a two-day high-level conference in June aimed at achieving peace in Ukraine, although Russia has made clear it will not take part in the initiative.

Switzerland said in January it would host a peace summit at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and has since held talks with the EU, G7 member states and countries such as China and India to garner their support.

The Federal Council said in a statement:

There is currently sufficient international support for a high-level conference to launch the peace process.

The conference will be held June 15-16 at the Bürgenstock resort in the canton of Nidwalden outside the city of Lucerne. It will aim to create a framework favourable to a comprehensive and lasting peace in Ukraine as well as “a concrete roadmap for Russia’s participation in the peace process.”

While Moscow has said it is not against negotiations to end the war, Russian officials have said they will not take part in talks in Switzerland, a country they consider to have relinquished its neutrality with regard to the conflict.

Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has said the Swiss initiative is pointless without Moscow’s participation.

Swiss authorities have yet to disclose a full list of participants.


Ukrainian convicts could serve in the military after lawmakers approved a first reading of a bill designed to replenish and rotate troops.

The bill envisages prisoners who join the army becoming eligible for parole.

Those convicted of crimes against humanity, sexual violence, murder or crimes against national security would not be allowed to serve, lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko said on Telegram.

A separate bill setting out large fines for citizens who fail to abide by mobilisation rules was also passed at the first reading.

It is not clear how many extra personnel would be eligible to join the military if the steps become law.

The convicts bill is likely to see changes before the final reading, in order to eliminate the risk of corruption, another lawmaker, Yaroslav Zhelezniak, said. No date has been set for the final reading after it is further discussed by a committee of lawmakers.

Ukraine’s parliament has also started reviewing the final reading of a complex bill amending the army mobilisation process after months of criticism and discussions, with a vote on that expected on Thursday.

It is expected to widen Kyiv’s capability to call up new servicemen amid significantly fewer volunteer fighters and numerous cases of draft evasion.


Updated at 14.43 CEST

Here are some of the latest images coming through from Ukraine:

Russian troops with a drone in Zaporizhzhia region. Photograph: Russian Defence Ministry Press Service/HANDOUT HANDOUT/EPAUkrainian soldiers undergo training at an undisclosed location. Photograph: Libkos/Getty ImagesA damaged residential building in Kharkiv. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/AFP/Getty ImagesShare’We support increased role for Nato in providing security related assistance to Ukraine,’ says Swedish foreign minister

We’ve got a bit more from Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billstrom on the Nordic and Baltic nations pushing for more support for Ukraine. He said:

We support an increased role for Nato in providing security related assistance to Ukraine and coordinating military support and equipment.

He added that the eight Nordic and Baltic nations had agreed to assemble a group of experts that will help support Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union.

This offers an opportunity to facilitate Ukraine’s path towards membership in the European family.


Updated at 15.01 CEST

The Nordic and Baltic countries support an increased role for Nato in providing assistance to Ukraine, Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billstrom told a press conference on Wednesday.

ShareUkraine and Britain sign defence and arms agreement

Ukraine and Britain have signed a framework agreement to cooperate in the defence and arms production sector, officials said in Kyiv, part of a wartime effort to build up Ukraine’s domestic weapons industry by working with allies.

Reuters reports:

The document was signed at a military industry conference in Kyiv that was attended by about 30 British defence companies who visited to discuss potential joint ventures with Ukrainian weapons and defence producers.

Ukraine’s Minister for Strategic Industries, told reporters after the signing ceremony:

It is the first intergovernmental agreement on cooperation.

Today British companies are working with Ukrainian companies and looking for opportunities to produce more weapons jointly.

Greg Hands, UK minister for trade policy, said he hoped the agreement would bring gains for Ukraine on the battlefield and also benefit its battered economy in the longer term.

British defence company BAE Systems, one of the first Western producers to set up a local entity in Ukraine, signed an agreement with Britain’s Defence Ministry to conduct maintenance, repair and overhaul of light guns on the ground in Ukraine.

Officials also said they hoped for more projects this year in the drone production sector. Many of the companies attending the conference were drone producers.

Ukraine aims to produce about 1 million first-person view (FPV) drones this year and is increasing its production of longer-range attack drones to conduct strikes deep inside Russia.

Andy Start, chief executive of the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support:

We now recognise we need to step up to partnering with the Ukrainian defence industry to position Ukrainian defence industry to be better able to respond at speed and to support the Ukrainian economy.

The momentum is building and we wish to see that momentum to continue to build at pace so we are stronger together.


Switzerland’s Federal Council on Wednesday approved the neutral country’s participation in a European integrated air and missile defence system.

The European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) is a common air defence scheme set up by Germany in 2022 to boost European air defence, an issue that has come into sharper focus since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Switzerland signed a declaration of intent to join the programme in July last year. Several countries, including non-Nato members, have signed up to the project including Germany, Britain and Finland.


The UK Ministry of Defence has posted its daily update on the situation in Ukraine.

The tweet reads:

Around 150,000 soldiers aged 15-30 are expected to be conscripted in Russia this spring.

They will serve for 12 months but are not deployed in Ukraine currently.

Russian forces in Ukraine are mostly staffed by contract service soldiers. Russia seeks to contract some 400,000 service personnel this spring.


EU finance ministers will discuss in Luxemburg this week reform plans and an investment agenda submitted by Ukraine in a bid by Kyiv to secure funding, sources in the German finance ministry have said.

Reuters reports:

The ministry sources said they welcomed that Ukraine was “so ambitious” in its approach.

Ukraine has identified 15 key areas and 69 reform plans, according to the sources, who did not go into further detail.

The European Union’s Ukraine Facility has a total budget of 50 billion euros ($54.29 billion) for the period from 2024 to 2027.

Financial support in the form of grants, which make up one third of the facility, and loans, the remaining two thirds, are to be provided based on the implementation of reforms in Ukraine.


Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

An EU court has removed war-related sanctions against prominent billionaires Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman, in a surprise victory for the Russian oligarchs in their fight against western sanctions.

The European court ruled that the European council did not present enough evidence to establish that the billionaires were involved in efforts that “undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

Fridman and Aven were placed on the EU sanctions list shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The EU council announcing the sanctions in February 2022 called Aven “one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs” and stated that Fridman “has managed to cultivate strong ties to the administration of Vladimir Putin, and has been referred to as a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle”.

They are long-term partners who earned billions of dollars in Russia from oil, banking and retail.

Fridman and Aven, along with dozens of other Russian oligarchs, have challenged the sanctions in EU courts, describing them as “spurious and unfounded.”

Aven and Fridman remain on the UK sanctions list, where the two men used to reside before the war.

Aven, who has an estimated $5.5bn fortune, owns Ingliston House, near Virginia Water, on 8.5 acres of land in a gated estate next to Wentworth golf course.

Ukraine-born Fridman, who was listed as the UK’s 11th wealthiest person in the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated £11bn fortune, owns Athlone House, a £65m mansion in Highgate, north London.

Both men have given only guarded criticism of Putin’s war in Ukraine, with Fridman saying in the early weeks of the conflict that it was a “tragedy” and that war “can never be the answer”.

The court’s decision on Wednesday was slammed by the Russian opposition who argued the two Russian oligarchs have not been vocal enough about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine,

Leonid Volkov, a close ally of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, wrote on X:

Fridman and Aven have never said a word publicly against the war, nor have they clashed with Putin.

The EU court just gave them what they wanted on a silver platter…What signal does the court send to Putin, his friends, the Russian oligarchs?

Когда полтора года тому назад я (крайне неудачно) пытался выступить в роли посредника между владельцами Альфы и европейскими чиновниками, то смысл истории был в том, чтобы
а) создать прецедент, открыть путь для бегства околопутинских элит,
б) обусловить снятие санкций публичным…

— Leonid Volkov (@leonidvolkov) April 10, 2024

ShareChina says it will not accept ‘criticism or pressure’ over ties with Russia after US warning

China has vowed not to accept “criticism or pressure” over its ties with Russia, after Washington warned that it will hold Beijing responsible if Moscow makes gains in Ukraine.

AFP reports:

Deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell said on Tuesday that Washington would “not sit by and say everything is fine” after Beijing renewed pledges of cooperation with Moscow during a visit by Russia’s top diplomat.

In response, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning insisted:

China and Russia have the right to engage in normal economic and trade cooperation.

This kind of cooperation should not be interfered with or limited, and China also does not accept criticism or pressure.

The two countries have in recent years ramped up contacts, and their strategic partnership has only grown closer since Moscow’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Analysts say China holds the upper hand in the relationship with Russia, with its sway growing as Moscow’s international isolation deepens as its war drags on.

On Tuesday, the two said they would strengthen strategic cooperation as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with President Xi Jinping and top diplomat Wang Yi.

Beijing said on Wednesday that it has “always played a constructive role” in seeking a resolution to the war in Ukraine.

Mao said:

If any country is truly concerned about peace in Ukraine, and hopes for an early end to the crisis, they should first reflect on the root causes of the crisis.


Updated at 15.01 CEST

A drone has attacked the city of Taganrog in the Rostov region of southern Russia, the head of the city administration Andrei Fateyev has said via his channel on the Telegram messaging app.


Rachel Hall

Rachel Hall

Good morning and welcome to the Ukraine blog.

We kick off with the news that Ukraine’s air force has reported that Ukraine downed 14 of 17 attack drones launched by Russia and two of several guided missiles targeting Odesa and the Mykolaiv region.

Ukraine Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said on the Telegram messaging app early on Wednesday morning that Russia also launched two Iskander-K cruise missiles and one Iskander-M ballistic missile, but he did not say what happened to those weapons.

Two Kh-59 guided air missiles that Russia launched towards the Black Sea port of Odesa were destroyed, Oleshchuk said on the Telegram messaging app.

The south command of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Telegram that 12 drones were downed over the Mykolaiv region and two over Odesa.

Energy infrastructure in Mykolaiv was damaged as a result of the attack, disrupting power supply for several hours. There were no casualties in the attacks, the military said.

Here are the key developments from yesterday:

David Cameron’s attempt to persuade Donald Trump to permit the US Congress to push through $60bn in military aid for Ukraine appears to have failed.

Russia claimed that Ukraine attacked the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant for a third day with a drone but Ukrainian officials denied that Kyiv had anything to do with the attacks.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday in a sign of mutual support and shared opposition to Western democracies amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier Lavrov met China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, underlining the ever-friendly relationship between Moscow and Beijing.

A woman and a child have been killed in the Russian village of Klimovov by shelling, the region’s governor has said.

Three people were killed in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region by Ukrainian shelling on Monday, the Russian-installed regional head Vladimir Saldo said on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s military spy agency GUR struck a main production facility of a Russian aviation factory in Voronezh region, a Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters.

Ukraine’s air defence systems destroyed all 20 attack drones that Russia launched targeting Ukraine, Ukrainian air force commander, Mykola Oleshchuk, said on Tuesday.

A Ukraine-launched, anti-ship Neptune missile was destroyed over the Black Sea, and four drones were downed over the Belgorod and Voronezh regions, the Russian Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday.

An extraordinary meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors called by Russia to discuss attacks on the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is due to be held on Thursday, three diplomats said.


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