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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

City of Kreminna believed to have fallen to Russian forces

The city of Kreminna in the Luhansk region of Ukraine is believed to have fallen to Russian forces, according to the latest intelligence update from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence on Tuesday, although no further details were given.

“The city of Kreminna has reportedly fallen and heavy fighting is reported south of Izium, as Russian forces attempt to advance towards the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east,” the ministry said has said in an update on Twitter, though it did not give any more details.

Russian forces are likely attempting to encircle heavily fortified Ukrainian positions in the east of Ukraine, the ministry said, adding that Ukrainian forces have been preparing defences in Zaporizhzhia, a city on the Dnipro river in southeastern Ukraine, in preparation for a potential Russian attack.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia and India were reportedly in talks to restart coking coal trade

A worker walks atop a pile of coal at a coal yard near a mine on November 23, 2021 in India. Russian and Indian officials met last week hoping to resolve coking coal supply issues, a trade source and an Indian government source said, according to Reuters.

Ritesh Shukla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Officials from Russia and India met last week in hopes of resolving coking coal supply issues, Reuters reported citing sources.

Russian coking coal exports to Indian steelmakers have stalled since March due to payment methods, a trade source and an Indian government source said, according to Reuters. That’s despite New Delhi signing a plan last year to import coking coal from Russia.

Coking coal is essential in the production of steel, and Russia typically supplies about 30% of the coking needs of the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

Russian trade officials are reportedly concerned about the sanctions from the West and requested that India continue with the deal, the sources said.

Indian officials were invited to visit Russia to strategize how to secure smooth shipments of coking coal, sources said, according to Reuters.  

— Chelsea Ong

Risk of nuclear war now ‘very, very significant,’ Russia’s foreign minister says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a news conference after his talks with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani in Moscow, Russia, April 7, 2022. 

Alexander Zemlianichenko | Reuters

The risks of nuclear war are now very significant and should not be underestimated, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a Russian TV channel on Monday.

“The risks are really very, very significant,” Lavrov told Channel One. However, he also added that there was a danger the risks were being “artificially” inflated.

“The danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated,” Lavrov said in comments reported by Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency.

Holly Ellyatt

UK says Ukraine’s grain harvest is likely to be about 20% lower than in 2021

A wheat sample being inspected on March, 18, 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “significantly” disrupted Ukrainian agricultural production, the British defense ministry said in an intelligence update.

Shannon VanRaes | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Russia’s invasion has “significantly” disrupted Ukrainian agricultural production, the British defense ministry said in an intelligence update.

“The Ukrainian grain harvest for 2022 is likely to be around 20 per cent lower than 2021 due to reduced sowing areas following the invasion,” the U.K. ministry said.

Reduced grain supply from Ukraine — the world’s fourth largest producer and exporter of agricultural goods — would not only cause inflationary pressures and elevate the global price of grain, but also impact global food markets, the ministry said.

Grain prices have surged since the invasion began, and Morgan Stanley expects grain prices to remain above last year’s levels till 2023.

“High grain prices could have significant implications for global food markets and threaten global food security, particularly in some of the least economically developed countries,” the British ministry said.

— Chelsea Ong

‘We want to see Russia weakened,’ U.S. Defense Secretary Austin says

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends a meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 24, 2022. 

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Washington wants to see Russia “weakened” as part of its aims in arming and supporting Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday during a visit to Kyiv, the first such high-level visit from a U.S. official since the war began.

“We want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country able to defend its sovereign territory. We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it cannot do the kinds of things it has done in invading Ukraine,” Austin told the press.

“It has already lost a lot of military capability, and a lot of its troops, quite frankly. In terms of our — their ability to win, the first step in winning is believing that you can win. And so, they believe that they can win, we believe that they can win, if they have the right equipment.”

The visit saw the U.S. pledge more military and diplomatic support to Ukraine as the Russian invasion entered its 60th day.

— Natasha Turak

Schumer expects ‘swift, bipartisan’ passage of next Ukraine aid bill

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he expected “swift, bipartisan” passage of another bill to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russia once President Joe Biden submits a new funding request.

— Reuters

Mariupol officials say new mass grave found

Maxar satellite imagery of another mass grave site expansion just outside of Vynohradne, Ukraine — just east of Mariupol. Sequence — 3 of 4 images.

Maxar Technologies | Getty Images

Officials in the embattled Ukrainian city of Mariupol say a new mass grave has been identified north of the city.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities are trying to estimate the number of victims in the grave about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) north of Mariupol.

Satellite photos released over the past several days have shown what appear to be images of other mass graves.

Mariupol has been decimated by fierce fighting over the past two months. The capture of the city would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

— Associated Press

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