The UN atomic watchdog’s chief has warned that the level of radiation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is “abnormal” following the Russian occupation of the disaster site.
“There have been some moments when the levels have gone up because of the movement of the heavy equipment that Russian forces were bringing here and when they left,” said Rafael Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“The radiation level, I would say, is abnormal,” he added.
Mr Grossi said that the IAEA was monitoring radiation levels “day by day,” as he visited the sarcophagus that covers the radioactive remains of reactor number four.
The Russian occupation of the plant lasted until the end of March and raised global fears of nuclear leaks.
Ukrainian officials have said that Russian soldiers may have been exposed to radiation after digging fortifications at the site and stirring up clouds of dust with their armoured vehicles.
Follow the latest updates below.
Pictured: Vladimir Putin toasts with Russian athletes at the Kremlin
Russian security official says Ukraine heading for collapse into several states
The powerful secretary of Russia’s Security Council said on Tuesday that Western and Ukrainian government policy was leading towards the break-up of Ukraine.
Nikolai Patrushev was quoted by government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta as saying that Ukraine would collapse into several states due to the policy of the West and the government in Kyiv.
Russian strikes kill nine in southern and eastern Ukraine
Russian strikes today have killed at least nine civilians in southern and eastern Ukraine, local officials said.
Three people died and seven others were wounded, two of them seriously, in a bombing in the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, regional governor Oleg Synegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging service.
Three bodies were pulled from the rubble of a building in the eastern town of Popasna, Luhansk governor Sergiy Gaiday wrote on Telegram.
“They were hiding in the basement from Russian missiles. The building was hit. The walls.. collapsed into the basement,” he said.
Another two people were killed and six others wounded in the eastern Donetsk region, confirmed regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
In Zaporizhzhia, one person was killed and another wounded when missiles hit a business in the southern city.
Lavrov: Russia ‘ready to cooperate’ with UN to help civilians
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was ready to cooperate with the United Nations to help civilians in Ukraine, where Russia has been conducting a military operation for over two months.
“Our goals are primarily to protect the civilian population and here we are ready to cooperate with our colleagues from the UN to alleviate the plight of the civilian population,” Mr Lavrov said during a press conference with visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Putin says no military operations underway in Mariupol
Vladimir Putin said that the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol had been “liberated” and that no military operations were underway there, directly contradicting Kyiv’s version of events.
The Kremlin said Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that Kyiv should “take responsibility” for the people holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, and call on fighters there to lay down their arms.
“Prisoners of war are guaranteed life, medical care and treatment in accordance with international legal standards”, the Kremlin said in a statement on the call.
Wimbledon chiefs say ‘no viable alternative’ to Russia player ban
Wimbledon was left with “no viable alternative” to banning Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Championships, tournament chiefs at the All England Club said today.
The decision was criticised by the ATP, which runs the men’s tour, and women’s tour organisers the WTA, while Rublev labelled it “complete discrimination” and defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic said it was “crazy”.
But All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt defended the move, saying the decision was made after careful consideration, taking into account UK government guidance.
“We considered a wide variety of factors. After lengthy and careful consideration, we came to two firm conclusions.
“First, even if we were to accept entries (from Russian and Belarusian players) with written declarations, we would risk their success or participation being used to benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime, which we could not accept.
“Second, we have a duty to ensure no actions should put players or their families at risk. We understand and deeply regret the impact this will have on all the people affected.
“We believe we have made the most responsible decision possible. We believe (given government guidance) there is no viable alternative in this truly exceptional and tragic situation.”
MoD issues Ukraine defence intelligence update
Kremlin: Russia wants to avoid intervening in Moldovan breakaway region
Russia wants to avoid a scenario in which Moscow would have to intervene in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, the Russian news agency RIA reported, quoting Russia’s foreign ministry.
Moldova held an urgent security meeting on Tuesday and the Kremlin voiced serious concerns after two blasts damaged Soviet-era radio masts in the breakaway region of Transnistria where authorities said a military unit was also targeted.
UN Secretary-General talks of ‘frank discussion’ with Sergei Lavrov
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was concerned about repeated reports of “possible war crimes” committed in Ukraine and said they required independent investigation.
He added that humanitarian corridors which are “truly safe, effective and respected by all” were also needed and that he had proposed the establishment of a humanitarian contact group bringing together Ukraine, Russia and the UN to establish them.
Chernobyl occupation was ‘very, very dangerous’, says atomic watchdog chief
The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog condemned the Russian forces’ occupation of the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster for several weeks, calling it “very, very dangerous”.
“The situation was absolutely abnormal and very, very dangerous,” International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi told reporters during a visit to the area on the anniversary of the tragedy.
Finland and Sweden could decide together on Nato
Finland and Sweden might decide together whether or not they will join Nato, Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters today.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Sweden and Finland to examine whether their longstanding military neutrality is still the best means of ensuring national security.
Stockholm is conducting a review of security policy, which includes a view on possible Nato membership, with the results due by mid-May.
Finland has said it is planning to decide on whether to apply to join the alliance “within weeks”.
Pentagon: Russia already weakened after war in Ukraine
Russia already has a weakened military and is a weakened state after its war on Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said today before a meeting of Nato allies and partners.
“They are a weaker military. They are a weaker state right now they are and again further isolating themselves,” Kirby said in an interview with CNN. “We want Russia not to be able to threaten their neighbours again in the future.”
“Its economy is in tatters. Its military has been depleted in many ways, not completely, but certainly they have suffered casualties and they have suffered losses in this invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
Russian expulsion of Swedish diplomats unjustified, Swedish Foreign Minister says
Russia has decided to expel four Swedish diplomats, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in a post on Twitter today.
“The Russian action is unmotivated and disproportionate,” Linde said. “Sweden will respond in a suitable manner to Russia’s unjustified action.”
Germany will send tanks to Ukraine in U-turn by Olaf Scholz
Germany will send tanks to Ukraine in an about-turn by Chancellor Olaf Scholz after weeks of tensions in his coalition government and pressure from his international allies, report James Crisp and Joe Barnes.
The decision is likely to further ratchet up tensions with Moscow, after Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, said weapons sent to Ukraine would be a “legitimate target” and warned of the risk of the conflict escalating into World War Three.
Weaponsmaker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is set to be given permission to sell refurbished Gepard (Cheetah) anti-aircraft tanks from Germany Army stocks, it was reported by German media.
Ukraine says Russian rockets flew over Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant
Ukraine’s state-run atomic energy company said Russian missiles flew at low altitude over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, and reiterated warnings that Russia’s invasion could lead to a “nuclear catastrophe”.
Energoatom issued its latest warning about the risks caused by the war with Russia on the 36th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident at the now defunct Chernobyl plant, in what was then Soviet Ukraine.
The company said cruise missiles had flown over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during an air strike which local authorities said hit a commercial building in the city of Zaporizhzhia, killing at least one person.
“Missiles lying at a low altitude directly over the site of the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant), where there are seven nuclear facilities with a huge amount of nuclear material, poses huge risks,” Petro Kotin, Energoatom’s acting chief, said.
“After all, missiles could hit one or more nuclear facility, and this threatens a nuclear and radiation catastrophe around the world,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by Energoatom on the Telegram messaging app.
UN Secretary-General set to hold press conference with Sergei Lavrov in Moscow
Two killed by Russian shelling in Donetsk region
Two people were killed and six wounded in Russian shelling of Ukraine’s eastern region of Donetsk on Tuesday, the regional governor said.
Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app that one person had been killed in the town of Nyu-York, and another in Travneve.
Russian shooting was continuing along the entire front line, he added.
Pictured: An Odesa resident waves goodbye from a train bound for Poland
Erdogan tells Putin that momentum in Istanbul talks needs to be maintained
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Vladimir Putin in a phone call that maintaining the “positive momentum” achieved in talks between Ukraine and Russia earlier this month in Istanbul would benefit all sides, his office said today.
Nato member Turkey shares a border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both, and has been working as a mediator. It has hosted two separate talks between Ukraine and Russia and has been pushing to host a leaders’ meeting.
“President Erdogan, who stated the importance of achieving a ceasefire, of working humanitarian corridors effectively, and of carrying out evacuations in a safe way, noted that Turkey would continue doing its utmost to halt this course of events damaging everyone and ensure lasting peace,” the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
He also repeated an offer to host the Russian and Ukrainian leaders for peace talks, it added.
Breakaway Moldovan region raises ‘terrorist threat level’ after blasts
The breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria raised its “terrorist threat level” to red today and introduced checkpoints after several blasts in the region, its official news agency said.
The Russia-backed region has been hit by several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.
UN chief says he wants ceasefire ‘as soon as possible’ during Moscow visit
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a visit to Moscow that he was looking to find ways to stop the fighting in Ukraine as quickly as possible.
“We are extremely interested in finding ways in order to create the conditions for effective dialogue, create the conditions for a ceasefire as soon as possible, create the conditions for a peaceful solution,” Mr Guterres said at the start of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Ukraine prepares war crimes charges against Russian pilots
Three Russian pilots suspected of bombing civilian buildings in the Kharkiv and Sumy regions are among at least seven Russian military personnel that Kyiv is preparing war crimes charges against, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office told Reuters.
It said the other individuals include two operators of a rocket launcher who allegedly shelled settlements in the Kharkiv region and two army servicemen suspected of murdering a Kyiv area resident and raping his wife.
The prosecutor’s office said it had notified the individuals that they are suspects and the investigations are ongoing, adding no charges had been filed with the court.
It didn’t name the suspects or provide evidence to support the allegations. It said some of the suspects were held as captives, without specifying where, while other charges were being prepared in absentia.
Ukraine says it is investigating some 7,600 potential war crimes and at least 500 suspects following the Russian invasion.
US vows to move ‘heaven and earth’ to bolster Ukraine
The US has vowed to move “heaven and earth” to help Ukraine win its battle against Russia’s unprovoked invasion, as allies from 40 nations met to bolster Kyiv’s defence against Moscow.
The meeting called by the US at its Ramstein airbase in southwestern Germany aims “to help Ukraine win the fight against Russia’s unjust invasion and to build up Ukraine’s defences for tomorrow’s challenges”, said Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin as he opened the talks.
“Ukraine clearly believes that it can win and so does everyone here,” he added.
The US is already the biggest supplier of international military aid to Ukraine and Mr Austin said Washington is “going to keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet” Kyiv’s needs.
At the talks, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht confirmed that Berlin has agreed to give the go-ahead to the delivery of used Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.
Kremlin says it is closely following events in Moldovan breakaway region
Russia is closely following events in Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today, adding that news from the region was a cause for serious concern.
Transnistria has been subject to several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted, blasts tore through Transnistria’s state security HQ and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.
Moldova’s president has convened an urgent security meeting for Tuesday.
Russia has had troops permanently based in Transnistria since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kyiv fears the region could be used as a launch pad for new attacks on Ukraine.
Pictured: What remains of a block of flats in Mariupol
Russia warns Japan against expanding naval drills with US
Russia has warned Tokyo it will take retaliatory measures should Japan expand the scope of its joint naval exercises with the United States, the Russian news agency RIA cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov as saying.
The drills near the Russian border are fuelling tensions in the region and posing a threat to Russia’s security, Mr Morgulov was quoted as saying.
UN expects over 8 million Ukrainians to flee as refugees
The UN has said it is now projecting that 8.3 million people will eventually flee Ukraine as refugees, up from the 5.2 million who have already fled the war.
The UN refugee agency, which initially had forecast that up to four million people would flee the war in Ukraine, said it would need $1.85 billion to support the refugees hosted in neighbouring countries.
Ukrainian grains reach Romanian Black Sea port
Ukraine has sent around 80,000 tones of grains to the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta so far, with more expected to arrive, the port’s manager said today.
Ukraine’s sea ports have been blocked since the Russian invasion two months ago and the country, a major agricultural producer, has been forced to export by train via its western border or via its small Danube river ports into Romania.
European Union member Romania shares borders of the Black Sea – a major shipping artery for grain and oil – with Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine.
“There are around 80,000 tonnes of grains which have already arrived, they are stored in silos, a part of them were loaded on ship,” Constanta Port manager Florin Goidea told Reuters.
“Another roughly 80,000 tonnes are approved and en route.”
Moldova convenes security meeting after blasts in breakaway region
Moldovan President Maia Sandu is convening a meeting of the country’s Supreme Security Council today over incidents that took place in the breakaway Transnistria region, the president’s press office said in a statement.
“The Supreme Security Council will meet from 1pm at the Presidency. After the meeting, at 3pm, President Maia Sandu will hold a press briefing”, the statement said.
Two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae that broadcast Russian radio from a village in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria today, local authorities said.
Ukraine can win war with Russia, says US defence secretary
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin kicked off defence talks with more than 40 countries today by expressing confidence that Ukraine can prevail against Russia.
“Your resistance has brought inspiration to the free world,” Mr Austin said, as he denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “indefensible.”
“Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here.”
Russia and Belarus to hold joint air force drills
Russia and Belarus will hold joint drills of their air forces and air defence forces in Belarus, Minsk’s defence ministry said in a statement today.
The drills will take place from April 26 to 29, the ministry said.
World War Three now a ‘real’ danger, Lavrov warns
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has warned there is a “real” danger of a third world war breaking out after a day of apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil, Roland Oliphant reports.
In an interview with Russian news agencies, he criticised Kyiv’s approach to peace talks, adding: “Goodwill has its limits. But if it isn’t reciprocal, that doesn’t help the negotiation process.”
Russia, Mr Lavrov said, was doing a lot to uphold the principle of striving to prevent nuclear war at all costs.
“This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable,” he 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.”
Rocket strike on Zaporizhzhia kills at least one
At least one person was killed and another wounded in a rocket strike on a commercial premises in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, local authorities said.
The regional administration said two rockets hit the premises and a third rocket exploded before reaching its target.
Kremlin says it struck over 90 targets in Ukraine overnight, killing 500 soldiers
Russia struck over 90 military targets in Ukraine overnight, killing at least 500 Ukrainian soldiers and destroying dozens of armoured vehicles, artillery and other military equipment, the Russian defence ministry said.
Russia also said it struck two ammunition depots in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region
Explosions hit radio tower in Russia-backed Transnistria
The interior ministry of Transnistria, a separatist Russia-backed territory in ex-Soviet Moldova, said that two explosions targeted a radio centre near the border with Ukraine.
“Early on April 26, two explosions were heard in the village of Mayak in Grigoriopolsky district,” the interior ministry of the breakaway republic said in a statement.
It said the blasts at 6:40am and 7:05am local time targeted the “Mayak” radio centre, about 30 miles from the regional capital, Tiraspol.
The ministry said two “powerful” antennae that were re-broadcasting Russian radio were out of order, and shared images of them lying on the ground.
‘Every chance’ Ukraine will see off invasion, says UK armed forces minister
Armed forces minister James Heappey has said there is “every chance” that Ukraine will see off the Russian invasion, arguing that Moscow’s victory in the east of Ukraine is not inevitable.
He told Sky News: “We’ll see a conflict between two forces that are much more evenly balanced, where the Ukrainians have the advantage of defensive positions that have been dug in and prepared over the last eight years and that’s going to make it an extraordinarily difficult nut for the Russians to crack.
“And with all the support that the Ukrainians are getting from around the world, there’s every chance the Ukrainians can see them off.”
Germany to authorise tank deliveries to Ukraine, reports suggest
Germany will authorise the deliveries of tanks to Ukraine, reports have suggested, in what would be a clear switch in Berlin’s cautious policy on military backing for Kyiv.
The confirmation is due to announced at an international meeting of defence ministers at the US airbase in Ramstein later today, a government source told AFP.
UK armed forces minister backs Ukraine carrying out strikes in Russia
British armed forces minister James Heappey has backed Ukrainian troops carrying out strikes in Russia.
He told Times Radio: “Of course we do. The fact is that Ukraine was a sovereign country that was living peacefully within its owner borders and then another country decided to violate those borders and bring 130,000 troops across into their country.
“That started a war between Ukraine and Russia, and in war Ukraine needs to strike into its opponents depth to attack its logistics lines, its fuel supplies, its ammunition depots, and that’s part of it.”
He added that it is “completely legitimate for Ukraine to be targeting in Russia’s depth in order to disrupt the logistics that if they weren’t disrupted would directly contribute to death and carnage on Ukrainian soil”.
He said it is “not necessarily a problem” if British-donated weapons are used to hit sites on Russian soil after accepting that weapons now being supplied by allies to Ukraine have the range to be used over borders.
“There are lots of countries around the world that operate kit that they have imported from other countries, when those bits of kit are used we tend not to blame (the country) that manufactured it, you blame the country that fired it.”
Inna, 53, cries inside her destroyed house in Ozera, Kyiv
EU aims to end use of Russian oil and gas by 2027, official suggests
The European Union aims to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas by two-thirds by the end of the year and to zero by the end of 2027, EU Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has said.
Mr Gentiloni also said the EU would cut its growth estimates for 2022 from a previous target of 4 per cent, with the EU set to release its Spring Forecast on May 16.
However, he said it was too early to say if the slowdown will lead to a stagnation, citing “some positive factors inherited from the second part of 2021” such as a significantly low unemployment level and a very high grade of savings buildup.
“The risk of stagnation will also depend very much on the duration of the war,” he added in an interview with Il Messaggero.
UK minister says no imminent threat of escalation in Ukraine conflict
British armed forces minister James Heappey said he did not think there was an imminent threat of escalation in the war in Ukraine, dismissing comments by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as bravado.
Earlier Lavrov told the world not to underestimate the considerable risks of nuclear conflict, and said Nato’s supply of weapons to Ukraine “in essence” meant that the Western alliance was engaged in a proxy war with Russia.
“Lavrov’s trademark over the course of 15 years or so that he has been the Russian foreign secretary has been that sort of bravado. I don’t think that right now there is an imminent threat of escalation,” Mr Heappey told the BBC.
“What the West is doing to support its allies in Ukraine is very well calibrated … Everything we do is calibrated to avoid direct confrontation with Russia.”
UK armed forces minister: Donor community, not Nato, is supplying arms to Ukraine
The wider international community, not Nato, is providing military support to Ukraine, British armed forces minister James Heappey said today after Russia’s foreign minister said the Western alliance was engaged in a proxy war with Russia.
“The donor community is not Nato,” Heappey told Sky News when asked about Sergei Lavrov’s comments.
“The donor effort is something that has been brought together by countries that are yes, many of them are from Nato, but others are from beyond … it is not Nato that is doing the military aid.”
Germany to supply Gepard anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine
Germany will pledge to supply Gepard anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung has reported.
The paper said German defence minister Christine Lambrecht was set to offer the weapons at today’s meeting with allies at the United States’ Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
MoD: Russian forces likely attempting to encircle Ukrainian positions in the east
Russians can play the Proms – if they oppose the invasion
The BBC is to allow Russian musicians to appear at the Proms, provided they have publicly or privately voiced opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, Anita Singh writes.
Organisers said they had rejected the idea of a Wimbledon-style ban on Russians, but stressed that there was “no place” for supporters of Vladimir Putin.
Instead, the event will nail its colours to the mast by hosting the newly formed Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra. The Ukrainian government is granting a special exemption for males of fighting age to travel to London for the performance.
In recent years, the Last Night of the Proms has become a political battleground, with anti-Brexit campaigners handing out EU flags to wave alongside Union flags.
Ukrainian rape victim ordered to help troops hunt for women
Anna, a Ukrainian woman, was raped by a 19-year-old Russian soldier in her village near Borodyanka, north of Kyiv, Danielle Sheridan reports from Kyiv.
She told The Telegraph she was marched around her village by the soldiers helping them find other women, while any men who protested were killed.
Ukraine is forming specialist rape investigation teams in occupied areas.
Russian journalist plot is ‘propaganda’
A raid on an alleged Western plot to kill a pro-Putin journalist in Russia appeared to have been exposed as mere propaganda on Monday night after a video on state TV showed a clumsy attempt to frame the alleged attackers, Nataliya Vasilyeva writes.
Vladimir Putin announced that an FSB operation had thwarted a plan by neo-Nazis backed by the West to kill one of Russia’s most notorious pro-Kremlin TV hosts because the West “faced an information fiasco in Russia”.
The FSB promptly released footage, broadcast on state TV, purporting to show the operation to arrest six Russian members of a fascist group who had been recruited by Ukraine’s intelligence agency to kill Vladimir Solovyov as well as other TV personalities.
Risk of World War Three, says Kremlin
In an interview with Russian news agencies, he criticised Kyiv’s approach to peace talks, adding: “Goodwill has its limits. But if it isn’t reciprocal, that doesn’t help the negotiation process.”
His comments came after a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a government building in a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova sparked fears of Russia’s war spreading further into Europe.
The mysterious attack came on the day two fires raged at fuel facilities in the south-western city of Bryansk, in an apparent Ukrainian missile strike inside Russia.
Today’s top stories
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has warned there is a “real” danger of a third world war breaking out after a day of apparent Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil
A rocket-propelled grenade attack on a government building in a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova sparked fears of Russia’s war spreading further into Europe
On Monday two fires raged at fuel facilities in the south-western city of Bryansk, in an apparent Ukrainian missile strike inside Russia
A raid on an alleged Western plot to kill a pro-Putin journalist in Russia appeared to have been exposed as mere propaganda on Monday night after a video on state TV showed a clumsy attempt to frame the alleged attackers
Many of the civilians who died in Bucha as Russia advanced on Kyiv were killed by metal darts, according to forensic doctors, in what was likely a war crime
Some 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in the two months since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, the Defence Secretary said on Monday