Latest Ukraine updates today
The text of the bill, which was submitted by the Ukrainian president, has yet to be published.
Martial law was first imposed on 24 February – the same day that Ukraine was invaded by Russia. It has since been extended for 30 days on two occasions, with the latest extension set to expire on 25 May.
The bill is reportedly expected to get the support of the parliament. When MPs approve the bill, martial law and conscription will be extended until 23 August, the day before Ukrainian independence day.
Last week, Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he hoped to arm a million fighters as the country prepared for a “new, long phase of war.”
Japan to boost financial aid to Ukraine to $600m, says PM Kishida
Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida announced that the country will double fiscal aid for Ukraine to $600m (£484m) as it remains under Russian invasion for 85 days now.
The financial aid from Tokyo is in sync with the World Bank, and designed to help Ukraine as its near-term fiscal capacity has been hollowed out in the conflict.
The G7 nation had first announced help to Ukraine through loans worth $300m (£242m) in April, in addition to some military hardware.
Russian soldiers executed and tortured civilians: Human Rights Watch
Russian troops who held Ukrainian territories in Kyiv and Chernihiv subjected civilians to executions, torture and other grave abuses which classify as war crimes, said Human Rights Watch on Wednesday.
The crimes were recorded from late February when Russia invaded Ukraine and through March.
“In 17 villages and small towns in Kyiv and Chernihiv regions visited in April, Human Rights Watch investigated 22 apparent summary executions, 9 other unlawful killings, 6 possible enforced disappearances, and 7 cases of torture,” the human rights collective said.
At least 21 civilians described unlawful confinement in inhuman and degrading conditions, the group which investigates human rights abuse said.
Civilians have detailed killings of their family members by Russian troops and being held by them “for days or weeks in dirty and suffocating conditions at sites such as a schoolhouse basement, a room in a window manufacturing plant, and a pit in a boiler room, with little or no food, inadequate water, and without access to toilets”.
Ukraine says Zaporizhzhia plant not supplying electricity to Russia
Officials in Ukraine have junked the reports of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant supplying electricity to Russia as alleged by Moscow on Wednesday.
Ukrenergo, country’s state-run power grid operator, denied the claims and said: “Ukraine’s power system currently has no physical connections with Russia’s power system. Therefore, the supply of electricity from Ukrainian power plants to Russia is currently physically impossible.”
UN and Russia in ‘intense contact’ over Ukraine grain export
United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said he is in “intense contact” with Russia and other countries hoping for an agreement to allow the export of grain stored in Ukrainian ports to help relieve global hunger.
He told a ministerial meeting on the escalating food security crisis, which he said is “at a new high” after it has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, that “there is still a long way to go.”
“The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides for a package deal to be reached,” he said.
“I will not go into details because public statements could undermine the chances of success.”
The number of people facing severe food insecurity doubled in just two years from 135 million before the pandemic to 276m today, Mr Guterres said.
More than 500,000 people are living in famine conditions – an increase of more than 500 per cent since 2016 – he added.
Ukraine – Russia war: Key points from Wednesday
* Russia said a total of 959 Ukrainian fighters, including 80 wounded, had surrendered from the bunkers and tunnels below Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks since Monday.
* Ukraine has said it ordered the Mariupol garrison to stand down but has declined to comment on the fate of the fighters.
* Russia said it was using a new generation of powerful laser weapons to burn up drones, seeking to counter a flood of Western arms supplied to Ukraine.
* Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the Nato alliance, a decision spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but face objections from Turkey.
* The United States said it was reopening its embassy in Kyiv.
* Russia said it was expelling embassy staff from France, Spain and Italy in retaliation for similar moves by those countries.
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that Western sanctions against Russia have had an enormous impact but that the U.S. does not have the authority to seize Russian central bank assets as some have suggested.
* The European Commission unveiled a €210 billion plan for Europe to end its reliance on Russian fossil fuels by 2027, and quicken its transition to green energy.
* U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said he is in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the U.S. and the EU with the aim of restoring Ukraine grain shipments and Russian fertilizer exports.
Watch: Russian soldier pleads guilty in war crimes trial
A soldier has pleaded guilty to shooting a 62-year-old man dead in the first war crime trial to be held in Ukraine since its invasion by Russia.
Vadim Shishimarin, 20, gave the plea at the Solomyansky district court in Kyiv on Wednesday afternoon.
The murder took place on 28 February in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka – four days after Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine.
At least ‘15 civilians killed in Luhansk and Donetsk’ – Ukraine
Russian troops have killed at least 15 Ukrainian civilians – including two families with small children – and injured seven on Wednesday, the Ukrainian military reportedly said.
A total of 46 settlements in Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, were shelled by Russia – the statement by the Joint Forces Task Force says on Facebook.
The 68 destroyed buildings include 43 residential houses, two schools, nursery school, clothing factory, railway station, cultural hall, boiler facility, and power substation – it said.
“All over the defence line, the enemy is using combat aviation, multiple launch rocket systems, cannon artillery, tanks, mortar systems, launching missile and air strikes on civil infrastructure facilities, peaceful residential areas,” the report states.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Ukrainian defenders from the Joint Forces Task Force repelled 16 enemy attacks – it said.
Putin’s troops still trying to find ‘wonder weapon’ – Zelensky
Russia is stalling in its invasion of Ukraine because it’s still trying to find its “wonder weapon”, Volodymyr Zelensky said.
It comes after Russia said it was using a new generation of powerful lasers in Ukraine to destroy drones.
In his nightly address, Ukrainian president Mr Zelensky said Russia’s fighting was done by “inexperienced conscripts, which it throws into battle like cannon fodder.”
He criticised Vladimir Putin’s troops for killing Ukrainians with “forbidden phosphorous bombs, which they use to burn schools and ordinary houses.”
Mr Zelensky continued: “Well, in the propaganda of Nazi Germany there was such a term as ‘wunderwaffe’. Wonder weapon. The clearer it became they had no chance in the war, the more propaganda there was about the wonder weapon, which would be so powerful that it would provide a turning point in the war.
“And here we see that in the third month of a full-scale war, Russia is trying to find its ‘wunderwaffe’. Allegedly laser. All this clearly indicates the complete failure of the invasion.
“But again, this also shows that they are afraid to admit that catastrophic mistakes have been made at the highest state and military levels in Russia. Therefore, they will come up with more and more ‘wunderwaffe’ as the Armed Forces of Ukraine and all our defenders liberate our land step by step.
“How long will it take? The answer to this question can only be given by the real situation on the battlefield. We are trying to do it as soon as possible. That’s for sure. We are obliged to drive out the occupiers and guarantee Ukraine real security.”
Village in Kharkiv region ‘liberated’ by Ukrainian troops
Ukrainian troops liberated the village of Dementiyivka in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine said.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Facebook: “The enemy continues its offensive in the Eastern Operational Zone.
“It fires on the entire line of contact and into the depths of the defence of our troops in Donetsk operational area and in Slovyansk direction, takes measures to strengthen the offensive group.”
Pro-Ukraine ‘terrorists’ could face death penalty in Belarus
A new law in Belarus could see citizens be killed by firing squad if they are convicted of assisting Ukraine in defending itself against Russia.
Today, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko – an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin – signed a law making people who attempt an act of terrorism eligible for the death penalty.
The new law will take effect on 29 May, according to the Kyiv Post. Previously, only those convicted of having committed a terror act could face a firing squad.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “These are citizens of Belarus seeking to freely exercise their fundamental freedoms – peaceful protesters, civil society members, journalists, political opponents and those arrested for opposing Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and Belarus’ enabling role in it.
“These citizens now also face the threat of the death penalty.”