Large fire rages at fuel depot used as logistics base for Russian forces

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Explosions and large fire at an oil storage depot in Bryansk city -  News Scan

Explosions and large fire at an oil storage depot in Bryansk city – News Scan

A large fire has broken out at a Russian fuel depot on the Ukrainian border acting as a logistics base for Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Emergency services said the blaze began around 2am Moscow time (11pm GMT) at the Transneft Bryansk-Druzhba facility in Bryansk, owned by the oil pipeline company Transneft.

No injuries have been reported and the cause has not yet been established.

Bryansk is a strategic administrative centre 154 km (96 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border, and Russian officials said last week that Ukrainian helicopters had hit residential buildings and injured seven people in the area.

It comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his defence secretary pledged additional military aid to Ukraine in the first official US visit to Kyiv since the invasion, including advanced weapons, and a return of US envoys to Kyiv.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russia has made minor advances since shifting its focus to fully occupying the Donbas, however its decision to besiege rather than attack Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant has “exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness”.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

07:59 AM

Putin congratulates Macron and wishes him ‘success’

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron on his re-election and defeat of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, the Kremlin said Monday, as tensions remain over the Ukraine conflict.

“I sincerely wish you success in your state activities, as well as good health and well-being,” Putin said in a telegram to Macron, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

Mr Macron has liaised with Putin several times during the two months of conflict and attempted – unsuccessfully – to mediate between the sides at several points.

Russian president Vladimir Putin was ashen-faced as he held a candle during the Orthodox Easter mass on April 24 - Contributor/Getty Images

Russian president Vladimir Putin was ashen-faced as he held a candle during the Orthodox Easter mass on April 24 – Contributor/Getty Images

07:37 AM

What was agreed on the US visit to Ukraine?

It was a visit mired in secrecy and only confirmed by the White House after it had taken place, but Washington’s top diplomat Antony Blinken and defence secretary Lloyd Austin agreed several measures while meeting Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv at the weekend.

  • US officials said the cabinet secretaries pledged new assistance worth $713 million (£560m) for Mr Zelensky’s government and 15 allied, Nato and partner countries in the region that are fearful of further Russian aggression.

  • This includes more than $300 million (£235m) in foreign military financing for Kyiv and $165 million (£130m) in sales of non-US made ammunition, compatible with Soviet-era weapons the Ukrainians use.

  • Such financing is different from previous US military assistance for Ukraine. It is not a donation of drawn-down US Defence Department stockpiles, but rather cash that countries can use to purchase supplies.

  • US diplomats will return to Ukraine in the coming weeks, with Washington announcing a new ambassador to the country, Budget Brink, a veteran official. Staff from Kyiv’s US Embassy had been relocated to Poland.

  • Ahead of the visit by Blinken and Austin, Ukrainian officials drew up a list of weapons urgently needed from the United States, including anti-missile systems, anti-aircraft systems, armoured vehicles and tanks.

  • It comes as the US and Nato allies have shown growing readiness to supply heavier equipment and more advanced weapons systems. Britain has promised to send military vehicles and is considering supplying British tanks to Poland to free up Warsaw’s Russian-designed T-72s for Ukraine.

07:26 AM

Breaking: Five railway stations come under fire in Ukraine

Five railway stations came under fire in western and central Ukraine on Monday, causing an unspecified number of casualties, Ukrainian television quoted state-run Ukrainian Railways as saying.

Oleksander Kamyshin, the company’s chief, said the attacks took place in the space of an hour and details were being checked.

We’ll bring you more details on this when we have it.

07:15 AM

In pictures: Fire rages at strategic fuel depot for Russian forces

The fuel depot is a logistical hub for Vladimir Putin's forces

The fuel depot is a logistical hub for Vladimir Putin’s forces

Bryansk is an administrative centre 154 km (96 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border, and around 230 miles from Moscow

Bryansk is an administrative centre 154 km (96 miles) northeast of the Ukrainian border, and around 230 miles from Moscow

No injuries have been reported and the cause has not yet been established 

No injuries have been reported and the cause has not yet been established

07:00 AM

Russia ‘made minor advances in Ukraine’ in shift to Donbas

Russia has made “minor advances” in some areas since shifting its focus to fully occupying the Donbas, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

The ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing that Moscow is still “yet to achieve a significant breakthrough” and that its decision to besiege rather than attack Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant has “exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness”.

06:53 AM

US envoys to resume diplomatic presence in Kyiv

United States diplomats will begin a gradual return to Ukraine this week, Washington’s secretary of state and defence chief have announced, in a further signal to Russia that its war is failing.

The trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin – which the US confirmed only after the two had left Ukrainian territory – came as the invasion enters its third month, with thousands dead and millions displaced.

Washington ordered the withdrawal of its diplomats in the weeks prior to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.

“Starting this week, members of that team will be able to do day trips instead into Ukraine,” a US official said. “Ultimately, (they will) resume presence in Kyiv.”

Britain and a host of European capitals are also reopening their embassies in Ukraine’s capital in the coming days.

06:47 AM

Russia ‘downs two Ukrainian drones in Russia’s Kursk region’

Russian air defence systems shot down two Ukrainian drones in Russia’s Kursk region which borders Ukraine, regional governor Roman Starovoyt wrote on his Telegram channel on Monday.

He said there were no casualties. The report could not be immediately verified.

06:44 AM

Blinken: Russia is failing in war aims and Ukraine ‘succeeding’

After a secrecy-shrouded visit to Kyiv, US Secretary of State Blinken said Russia is failing in its war aims and “Ukraine is succeeding.”

The trip by Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was the highest-level American visit to the capital since Russia invaded in late February, though Washington refused to confirm any travel plans.

They told Ukraine’s president, Volodomyr Zelensky, and his advisers that the US would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing and had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition.

“We had an opportunity to demonstrate directly our strong ongoing support for the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. This was, in our judgment, an important moment to be there to have face-to-face conversations in detail,” Mr Blinken told reporters Monday near the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Mr Austin said Zelensky’s response to the aid was deep appreciation for what was being given but “he has the mindset that they want to win and we have the mindset that we want to help them win.”

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