Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 128 of the invasion

·6 min read
  • At least 19 people, including two children, have been confirmed dead after Russian missile strikes on an apartment building and resort in Odesa in southern Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials. A further 38 people, including six children and a pregnant woman, were hospitalised with injuries, Ukraine’s security service said. Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Yevhenii Yenin, said there were no military targets or infrastructure in the vicinity of the areas struck by missiles. Speaking at the scene, Yenin said rescue operations were ongoing but “we don’t expect to find anyone alive”.

  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia was hitting civilian targets. “I would like to remind you of the president’s words that the Russian armed forces do not work with civilian targets,” Peskov told reporters.

  • Ursula von der Leyen has told Ukraine that there is “a long road ahead” for its bid to become a European Union member, but that “Europe will be at your side every step of the way”. In a speech via video link to Ukraine’s parliament this morning, the president of the European Commission said “There is a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union.”

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukraine’s path to European Union membership should “not take years or decades” and vowed to make Ukraine’s part of the process “perfect”. He said “Our path to membership should not take years or decades. We have to overcome this path quickly. Make our part of the job perfect. To enable our friends in the European Union to make another historic decision for us just as quickly and in a consolidated way.”

  • Ukrainian forces said Thursday they have pushed Russian forces from Snake Island, a strategic Black Sea outpost off the southern coast. Russia portrayed the pullout from the island as a “goodwill gesture”. Ukraine’s military said the Russians fled the island in two speedboats after a barrage of Ukrainian artillery and missile strikes.

  • The situation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk is “extremely difficult as Russian forces’ continuous shelling makes it impossible for civilians to evacuate, officials say. “There is a lot of shelling and from multiple directions. The Russian army is approaching from different directions towards Lysychansk,” Luhansk’s regional governor, Serhiy Haidai said, adding that Russian forces remained on the city outskirts, where there was currently no street fighting.

  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said on Thursday a new “iron curtain” is descending between Russia and the west, and that Moscow would not trust Washington and Brussels “from now on”. The process “has begun”, Lavrov said after talks with his counterpart from Belarus. “As far as an iron curtain is concerned, essentially it is already descending.”

  • A cargo ship left the Russian-occupied Ukrainian port of Berdiansk on Thursday for the first time since the city was seized by Moscow’s troops, according to a pro-Russia official. Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the pro-Russia administration, was cited by Russian state media as saying the first cargo ship to leave Berdiansk was carrying 7,000 tonnes of grain to “friendly countries”, without saying what cargo the ship was carrying.

  • Hungary will speed up its defence development programme, prime minister Viktor Orbán told state radio. “We must radically increase our defence capabilities,” Orbán said. He reiterated that Hungary’s interest was for the war in neighbouring Ukraine to end as soon as possible.

  • Turkey’s president has warned that Ankara could still block Finland and Sweden’s accession to Nato if the two countries fail to fully meet his expectations. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that if the two Nordic countries reneged on their promises, including to extradite terror suspects with links to outlawed Kurdish groups, Turkey’s parliament could refuse to ratify the deal reached on Tuesday.

  • Estonian and Latvian defence ministers signed a letter of intent on Thursday at the Nato summit in Madrid for joint procurement of medium-range anti-aircraft systems.“The aggression of Russia in Ukraine clearly shows the need for air defence systems,” the Latvian defence minister, Artis Pabriks, said in a statement.

  • The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said France would deliver six Caesar howitzers and a “significant number” of armoured vehicles to Ukraine. He added that the Nato allies meeting in Madrid “unanimously decided” to boost humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.

  • Russia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned the British ambassador in Moscow, Deborah Bronnert, to protest against Boris Johnson’s “offensive” remarks regarding Russia and Vladimir Putin. A strong protest was expressed to the ambassador over “the frankly boorish statements of the British leadership regarding Russia, its leader and official representatives of the authorities, as well as the Russian people”, it said in a statement.

  • Norway’s foreign minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, has said her nation is not blocking Russian access to Svalbard. On Wednesday, Russia accused Norway of disrupting the delivery of critical supplies and threatened retaliation. Huitfeldt said Norway was not blocking Russian access to the Arctic archipelago, only applying international sanctions, and that Russia had other means to reach its settlements.

  • The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, arrived in Moscow on Thursday, where he will urge Vladimir Putin to agree to a ceasefire and seek ways to allow the export of grain from Ukraine. Widodo also met with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Wednesday during a visit he described as a “manifestation of the Indonesian people’s concern for the situation in Ukraine”.

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