War in Ukraine: Latest developments

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

Putin ready for ‘prolonged conflict’

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not end the Ukraine war with the campaign in the eastern Donbas region, says United States Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, warning he could make a play for the breakaway region of Transnistria in Ukraine’s neighbour to the west, Moldova.

“We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas,” Haines tells a Senate hearing.

She also says Putin could order martial law in Russia to support his ambitions in Ukraine but will use nuclear weapons only if he considers Russia faces an “existential threat.”

‘Over 1,000’ fighters holding out in Mariupol

Ukraine says that “more than 1,000” fighters are still holding out at the Azovstal steelworks in the south-eastern city of Mariupol, the last pocket of resistance to Russian control in the ruined port.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk denies reports that around 100 civilians are still in the steel mill, but says “hundreds” of fighters are wounded and require “urgent evacuation.”

Russian forces have besieged the plant but the fighters have refused to surrender.

At the weekend, Ukraine said all the women, children and elderly people that had been sheltering at the plant had been evacuated.

EU oil embargo possible ‘this week’

France, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, says Hungary could agree to an EU-wide embargo on Russian oil as early as “this week.”

Landlocked Hungary, a Moscow ally that relies on Russian oil, has been holding up the embargo, saying it needs more time to find new energy sources.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said she made “progress” during talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday in Budapest.

“I think we could have a deal this week, we’re working hard to achieve that,” France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune told France’s LCI broadcaster.

EU membership question of ‘war and peace’

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says that his country’s EU membership bid is a question of “war and peace” for Europe.

He is speaking a day after French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to rule out Ukraine joining the European Union in the near future.

Macron says joining the bloc would take “decades” and suggests instead that Ukraine and other EU hopefuls like Moldova and Georgia be integrated into a new, yet-to-be-created “European political community.” The EU says it will give an opinion on Ukraine’s accession bid next month.

German foreign minister in Bucha

German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, makes a surprise visit to the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where Russian forces are accused of massacring civilians before withdrawing from the region in late March.

Baerbock is the highest-ranking German official to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

Ukraine’s foreign minister says Kyiv is grateful to Berlin for reviewing its policy of appeasement towards Moscow, and for backing a Russian oil embargo and agreeing to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Baerbock’s Dutch counterpart, Wopke Hoekstra, meanwhile visits the nearby town of Irpin.

Kyiv residents return en masse

Kyiv Mayor, Vitali Klitschko, says nearly two-thirds of the capital’s residents have returned to the city two-and-a-half months after the start of the war, which sparked a mass exodus.

“Before the war, 3.5 million people lived in Kyiv. Almost two-thirds of the capital’s residents have returned,” Klitschko says.

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