Putin 'still wants to capture most of Ukraine', says top US official

·39 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin  - Grigory Sysoyev/Pool Sputnik Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin - Grigory Sysoyev/Pool Sputnik Kremlin

Vladimir Putin still wants to take most of Ukraine and the picture for the war there remains "pretty grim," a top U.S. intelligence official has said

"We continue to be in a position where we look at President Putin and we think he has effectively the same political goals that we had previously, which is to say that he wants to take most of Ukraine," Avril Haines, the U.S, Director of National Intelligence, told a Commerce Department conference.

Ms Haines said: "In short, the picture remains pretty grim".

Meanwhile, Kyiv says 144 Ukrainian soldiers have been freed in its "largest" prisoner swap with Moscow since the beginning of the war.

07:06 PM

And that's all for today...

Thanks for following today's liveblog.

Here are five key updates from today.

  • Vladimir Putin still wants to take most of Ukraine and the picture for the war there remains "pretty grim," a top U.S. intelligence official said.

  • 144 Ukrainian soldiers have been freed in Kyiv's "largest" prisoner swap with Moscow since the beginning of the war.

  • Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin is an example of “toxic masculinity” and would not have invaded Ukraine if he was a woman.

  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday told Indonesia's visiting President Joko Widodo that he will attend the upcoming G20 summit in Bali depending on who else is attending.

  • Nato leaders decried Russia's "appalling cruelty" in Ukraine and pledged more support for Kyiv as it faces the onslaught from Moscow.

06:48 PM

Britain to commit 2,000 extra troops to Estonia as Nato ramps up defence

Britain will commit an extra 2,000 soldiers to defending Estonia under new Nato plans, the Defence Secretary has announced.

Speaking at the Nato summit in Madrid, Ben Wallace said that the existing battlegroup deployment of about 900 soldiers will be permanently increased to brigade strength, taking the total committed force to about 3,000 troops in all.

Not all units are expected to be based in the Baltic country at the same time, with some troops held on standby in the UK.

Read the full story from Dominic Nicholls here

06:36 PM

Russia releases 144 captured soldiers in 'largest prisoner swap yet'

Kyiv says 144 Ukrainian soldiers have been freed in its "largest" prisoner swap with Moscow since the beginning of the war.

"This is the largest exchange since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion," the main intelligence directorate of Ukraine's defence ministry said on Telegram.

"Of the 144 freed, 95 are Azovstal defenders."

About 2,000 Azovstal defenders are still believed to be in Russian captivity.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the unrecognised Donetsk People's Republic, confirmed that 144 prisoners were exchanged.

He wrote on Telegram: "We handed over to Kyiv the same number of prisoners from Ukrainian armed units, most of whom were wounded."

06:33 PM

'This is an act of absolutely unprovoked aggression', says Boris Johnson

Speaking at the Nato summit in Madrid, he said:

"There are lots of swing countries that are just a bit more ambivalent about what Putin has done, so we need to explode some myths.

"It's not the sanctions that are causing the food prices to go up - as Putin tells Africa, Asia and Latin America - it's not the sanctions.

There's nothing to stop Putin exporting food, exporting fertiliser, it's what he is doing to stop grain come out of Ukraine. He's blocking the food. We need to explode that myth.

"The second thing that people say is, 'oh, well, it's all Nato, Nato should never have encroached upon Russia'. There was never any chance that missiles were going to be stationed on Ukrainian soil, it's a complete myth. This is an act of absolutely unprovoked aggression."

06:28 PM

Boris Johnson says Putin is 'evil'

Boris Johnson said that Vladimir Putin is "evil" because of his invasion of Ukraine.

"I think that what he has done is evil," the Prime Minister told GB News at the Nato summit in Madrid.

Asked if Mr Putin himself was evil, Mr Johnson said: "I think it probably follows that if you are what you do, then certainly.

"It's been an appalling act of unwarranted aggression against the innocent population.

"And it's very rare in life, in politics and diplomacy when you see something that is so absolutely black and white, something so clear, and it's very interesting listening to colleagues around the table.

06:14 PM

Putin 'still wants to take most of Ukraine', says top US intelligence official

Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants to take most of Ukraine and the picture for the war there remains "pretty grim," the top U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday.

"We continue to be in a position where we look at President Putin and we think he has effectively the same political goals that we had previously, which is to say that he wants to take most of Ukraine," Avril Haines, the U.S, Director of National Intelligence, told a Commerce Department conference.

Haines said U.S. intelligence agencies see three possible scenarios in the near term, the most likely being a grinding conflict in which Russian forces only make incremental gains, but no breakthrough towards Putin's goal.

05:56 PM

Biden administration throws support behind potential F-16 sale to Turkey

The Biden administration threw its support behind the potential sale of U.S. F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, a day after Ankara lifted a veto of NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.

Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary for Defense for International Security Affairs at Pentagon, told reporters on a call that strong Turkish defense capabilities would reinforce NATO's defenses.

"The United States supports Turkey’s modernization of its fighter fleet because that is a contribution to NATO security and therefore American security," she said.

"These plans are in the works. And, they need to be worked through our contracting processes," she added.

05:35 PM

Germany seizes three Gazprom tankers in new blow for Putin

The German government has taken control of three liquefied natural gas ships from Russian energy giant Gazprom.

US-listed Dynagas LNG Partners said Germany’s energy network regulator assumed control of three vessels “for an indefinite period of time” after Berlin took ownership of Gazprom Germania in April.

Two Dynagas ships, the Amur River and the Ob River, were chartered to a Gazprom unit until 2028, while the vessel Clean Energy was chartered to the unit until 2026. All have now been taken over by Berlin.

05:23 PM

Ukraine's Tsurenko criticises Russian 'lies' after Wimbledon win

Ukrainian tennis player Lesia Tsurenko has criticised Russian "lies" over a missile strike on a shopping mall, saying she knew people affected by the attack after reaching the third round of Wimbledon.

Tsurenko, who wore a ribbon in the Ukraine colours, recovered from losing the first set to beat compatriot Anhelina Kalinina 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

In her post-match press conference she said she had been given permission by Wimbledon chiefs to wear the ribbon, referring to the "horrible things that are going on in Ukraine".

"Especially, it's very painful for me to see that Russian propaganda is just saying that, for example, that shopping mall in Kremenchuk was not working," she said.

"That's a lie, because my fitness coach, he's from that city. His mother-in-law... she's working in this shopping centre, and she was lucky that she had a day off."

05:14 PM

'We need to give Zelensky the weapons to determine Ukraine's future', urges Tom Tugendhat

04:46 PM

Zelensky says will attend G20 depending on other 'participants'

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday told Indonesia's visiting President Joko Widodo that he will attend the upcoming G20 summit in Bali depending on who else is attending.

"Certainly I accept the invitation. Ukraine's participation will depend on the security situation in the country and on the composition of the summit's participants," Zelensky said following their talks in Kyiv, in an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin's attendance.

Widodo was in Kyiv Wednesday before heading to Moscow to meet Putin, who on February 24 sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine.

Indonesia, like most major emerging economies, has tried to maintain a neutral position and has called for a peaceful resolution to Russia's months-long offensive in Ukraine.

04:31 PM

Listen to the latest episode of our Ukraine podcast: On the ground at the Nato summit

04:02 PM

Kyiv says 144 Ukrainian soldiers freed in prisoner swap

Ukrainian intelligence said Wednesday that 144 Ukrainian soldiers, including scores of defenders of the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port city of Mariupol, had been freed in a prisoner swap with Moscow.

"This is the largest exchange since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion. Of the 144 freed, 95 are Azovstal defenders," the main intelligence directorate of Ukraine's defence ministry said on Telegram.

It did not specify when and where the swap took place or how many Russian prisoners were released as part of the exchange.

It added that 43 of the freed servicemen belonged to the Azov regiment, a former paramilitary unit that is now integrated into the Ukrainian army.

04:01 PM

PM hails 'great step forward' as Sweden and Finland poised to join Nato

Boris Johnson held talks with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö at the Nato summit in Madrid today.

Downing Street said the PM described the two countries joining the alliance as a "great step forward".

No 10 said: "The Prime Minister reiterated his staunch support for Sweden and Finland’s Nato membership aspirations. He described their accession as a great step forward for Nato and welcomed the progress made since his visits to Sweden and Finland last month.

“The Prime Minister said that the membership of two more pro-peace democracies will permanently strengthen our defensive Alliance, helping to keep us all safe."

03:43 PM

Kyiv welcomes Nato's 'clear-eyed stance' on Russia

Ukraine praised Nato on Wednesday for taking a "clear-eyed stance" on Russia and for inviting Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, and called for an "equally strong and active position on Ukraine" to protect Euro-Atlantic security.

"Today in Madrid, Nato proved it can take difficult, but essential decisions," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

"We welcome a clear-eyed stance on Russia, as well as accession for Finland and Sweden. An equally strong and active position on Ukraine will help to protect the Euro-Atlantic security and stability."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address to the NATO summit in Madrid that his country needed more advanced weapons and money to defend itself against Russia

03:27 PM

PM praises Turkey's efforts to get grain out of Ukraine

Boris Johnson and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, have met for talks in Madrid as they attend a Nato summit. Mr Johnson praised Mr Erdogan for his efforts to get grain out of Ukraine.

A Downing Street readout of the meeting said: “The Prime Minister praised President Erdoğan’s leadership on the issue of getting grain out of Ukraine. The Prime Minister stressed that President Putin’s ongoing blockade of Ukraine’s ports is creating an international humanitarian crisis, both in Ukraine and around the world."

Mr Johnson also "welcomed the announcement that Turkey, Sweden and Finland have agreed a memorandum agreement, paving the way for Finland and Sweden’s accession to the alliance".

No 10 said: "He said Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO will make the alliance stronger as we look ahead to a more dangerous decade."

03:07 PM

Pictured: Ukrainian army soldiers near the trenches

Ukrainian army soldier with MBT LAW launcher, in the trenches near Odesa, Ukraine, - Leszek Szymanski/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Ukrainian army soldier with MBT LAW launcher, in the trenches near Odesa, Ukraine, - Leszek Szymanski/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
Ukrainian army soldier with a German Panzerfaust 3 grenade launcher, in the trenches near Odesa, - Leszek Szymanski/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/ Shutterstock
Ukrainian army soldier with a German Panzerfaust 3 grenade launcher, in the trenches near Odesa, - Leszek Szymanski/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/ Shutterstock

02:40 PM

At least three people dead in Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv

Russian forces struck targets in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine and intensified attacks on fronts across the country.

The mayor of Mykolaiv city said a Russian missile strike killed at least three people in a residential building there, while Moscow said its forces had hit what it called a training base for foreign mercenaries in the region.

02:37 PM

Nato pledges anti-drone systems and equipment to counter mines for Kyiv

Nato allies are prepared to support Ukraine in the long term, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday as he announced additional military support for Kyiv.

"Ukraine can count on us for as long as it takes," he told reporters on the second day of a Nato summit in Madrid.

He said leaders had agreed a comprehensive package of assistance for Ukraine, including secure communications, fuel, medical supplies, equipment to counter mines and hundreds of anti-drone systems.

02:19 PM

Downing Street declines to rule out shutting off gas supplies to Europe

Downing Street declined to rule out shutting off gas supplies to mainland Europe if the Russian invasion of Ukraine provokes severe shortages.

Instead No 10 assured that the UK's gas supply is "highly resilient" on Wednesday and insisted there is "no plan" to take the action reportedly contained in an emergency plan.

European allies are trying to wean themselves off Russian gas as president Vladimir Putin threatens severing their supply amid fallout from his war.

The Financial Times reported that cutting interconnector pipelines to the Netherlands and Belgium is among measures contained in the UK's emergency plans if supplies fall short.

02:08 PM

Russia 'most significant and direct threat', says Nato

Nato declared Russia the "most significant and direct threat" to its members' peace and security, as the military alliance met Wednesday to confront what Nato's chief called the biggest security crisis since World War II.

It also promised to "step up political and practical support" to Ukraine as it fights off Russia's invasion.

"President Putin's war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and has created the greatest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War," said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

02:02 PM

Nato leaders denounce Russia's 'appalling cruelty' in Ukraine

Nato leaders decried Russia's "appalling cruelty" in Ukraine and pledged more support for Kyiv as it faces the onslaught from Moscow.

"Ukraine can count on us for as long as it takes," Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said at a summit in Madrid.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a speech at the opening of the first session on Ukraine during the NATO summit at the Ifema congress centre in Madrid - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a speech at the opening of the first session on Ukraine during the NATO summit at the Ifema congress centre in Madrid - Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency

01:44 PM

Biden announces US military reinforcements in Europe

President Joe Biden  announced US reinforcements of Nato forces in Europe, saying the alliance is needed more today "than it ever has been."

Nato will be "strengthened in all directions across every domain - land, air and sea," he told a summit of the transatlantic alliance being held in Madrid. "Together with our allies we're going to make sure that Nato is ready to meet the threats from all directions across every domain," Biden said.

"In a moment where Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenets of rule-based order, the United States and our allies, we're going to step up," he said.

01:32 PM

Zelensky urged Nato to open its doors to Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky urged Nato to open its doors to Ukraine, insisting his country had suffered enough to defend the alliance from Russian aggression., writes Joe Barnes, our Brussels Correspondent.

In a speech to Nato leaders, the Ukrainian president slammed the alliance's apparent open-door policy and said Kyiv's forces had prevented Vladimir Putin expanding his war into the rest of Europe.

He said: "NATO's open door policy should not resemble the old Kyiv metro turnstiles: they are open, and when you approach, the turnstiles close until you pay.

"Hasn’t Ukraine paid enough yet? Is our contribution to the defense of Europe and the whole civilisation still insufficient?"

01:27 PM

Lawyer for British fighter captured in Ukraine says he has filed an appeal

A lawyer for a British fighter captured in Ukraine and sentenced to death by a separatist court said on Wednesday the man has filed an appeal and could be asking for pardon if declined, writes Nataliya Vasilyeva.

Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin who served in the Ukrainian army when they were captured in Mariupol in May were put on trial in a separatist-controlled region and sentenced to death earlier this month.

Yulia Tserkovnikova, a lawyer for Mr Pinner, told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday she has appealed the verdict on his behalf.

A court is expected to consider it within the next two weeks.

She said her client has asked her to file a plea for pardon if the appeal is turned down.

Russia has refused calls to release the British men, insisting that Kremlin-backed rebels have the right to put them on trial.

01:17 PM

Pictured: Rescuers move a car near a residential building hit by a Russian military strike

Rescuers move a car near a residential building hit by a Russian military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine - STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE OF UKRAINE/via REUTERS
Rescuers move a car near a residential building hit by a Russian military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine - STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE OF UKRAINE/via REUTERS

12:51 PM

Nato has to be ready for a Russian nuclear strike

The war in Ukraine is entering its fifth month, with minimal prospect of an early end to the fighting and with Western unity looking increasingly fragile.

This brings the Nato summit, starting today in Madrid, into sharp relief. Nato governments must use this opportunity to restore their united front; to replenish Ukraine’s military arsenal; to warn their citizens of the likelihood of a long and bitter war; and to prepare for the risk that Vladimir Putin may at some point resort to nuclear weapons

Read the full piece from  Sir Kim Darroch and John Ashton here

12:37 PM

Inspiring to have Zelensky at Nato summit, says Truss

12:24 PM

Russia hits back at attempts to 'politicise' its diamonds

Russia condemned what it called a push to "politicise" its diamonds over the conflict in Ukraine and said attempts to question its compliance with the international diamond certification scheme were "totally unfounded" and "far-fetched".

The Kimberley Process, a coalition of governments, the diamond industry and civil society responsible for certifying diamonds as conflict-free, is split over a push by Ukraine and others to expand its definition of conflict diamonds to include those funding aggression by states.

The KP Civil Society Coalition (CSC) and some member states sought to discuss whether Russia's diamonds were helping to fund the war in Ukraine during a KP meeting in Botswana last week.

"The Russian Federation absolutely condemns the orchestrated attempts of CSC, backed by absolute minority of some Western participants, to politicize the work of the Kimberley Process by deliberately distorting or even openly replacing its basic principles," Russia's finance ministry said in an emailed statement. It did not specify which principles it felt were being distorted or replaced.

12:17 PM

Russia wants to dictate future world order, Zelensky tells Nato

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Nato leaders his country needed more weapons and money to defend itself against Russia, warning that Moscow's ambitions did not stop at Ukraine.

"This is not a war being waged by Russia against only Ukraine. This is a war for the right to dictate conditions in Europe - for what the future world order will be like," he said in a virtual address to a summit of the Western defence alliance in Madrid.

"That is why it is absolutely necessary to support Ukraine, even now, with weapons, finances and political sanctions against Russia, which will stop its ability to pay for the war." He said Ukraine needed modern missile and air defence systems.

"By providing them to us, you can completely break Russia's tactics to destroy cities and terrorise civilians," he said.

Moscow calls its actions a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and rid it of what it calls anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

11:51 AM

Pictured:  A grocery store in the destroyed Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, one day after it was hit by a Russian missile strike

A photograph taken on June 28, 2022 shows charred goods in a grocery store of the destroyed Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, one day after it was hit by a Russian missile strike - GENYA SAVILOV/AFP
A photograph taken on June 28, 2022 shows charred goods in a grocery store of the destroyed Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, one day after it was hit by a Russian missile strike - GENYA SAVILOV/AFP

11:34 AM

Ukraine shopping centre bombing the latest 'barbarous' attack, says Pope

Pope Francis has called the bombing of a crowded shopping centre in the city of Kremenchuk the latest in a string of "barbarous attacks" against Ukraine.

Ukraine said at least 18 people were killed and about 60 injured on Monday by a Russian missile strike.

Russia's defence ministry said it had hit a legitimate military target in the city, and that the shopping centre was not in use

11:21 AM

UK sanctions Russia’s second richest man and Putin's cousin

The UK Government has today announced new sanctions, hitting Putin’s inner circle.

Amongst those sanctioned is Vladimir Potanin – Russia’s second richest man and owner of major conglomerate Interros.

Putin’s cousin, Anna Tsivileva, and President of the prominent Russian coal mining company, JSC Kolmar Group, has also been sanctioned.

A Government spokesman said: "As long as Putin continues his abhorrent assault on Ukraine, we will use sanctions to weaken the Russian war machine. Today’s sanctions show that nothing and no one is off the table, including Putin’s inner circle".

11:02 AM

UK sets out emergency plan to cut gas supplies to Europe

The UK will cut off gas supplies to Europe under an emergency plan that will be rolled out if the Russian energy crisis deepens.

Shutting down the so-called interconnector pipelines to the Netherlands and Belgium would be among the early measures under the plan, which could be triggered by National Grid if supplies fall further in the coming months, the Financial Times reports.

But European gas companies warned such a move would undermine a push for international cooperation in the face of Putin’s aggression and would exacerbate the energy crisis on the continent.

10:53 AM

Moscow views Sweden and Finland's Nato accession 'negatively'

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said that Russia views plans by Sweden and Finland to join Nato "negatively", Interfax reported.

Russian state news agency RIA also quoted Mr Ryabkov as saying that Nato expansion is "destabilising" and does not add to the security of members of the alliance.

10:38 AM

World leaders gather in Madrid, in pictures

Ukraine war: 'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome', says Ben Wallace as Nato summit begins - SUSANA VERA /REUTERS
Ukraine war: 'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome', says Ben Wallace as Nato summit begins - SUSANA VERA /REUTERS
Ukraine war: 'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome', says Ben Wallace as Nato summit begins - YVES HERMAN /REUTERS
Ukraine war: 'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome', says Ben Wallace as Nato summit begins - YVES HERMAN /REUTERS
Ukraine war: 'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome', says Ben Wallace as Nato summit begins - SUSANA VERA /REUTERS
Ukraine war: 'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome', says Ben Wallace as Nato summit begins - SUSANA VERA /REUTERS

10:22 AM

Russian court postpones ruling on labelling Mariupol regiment 'terrorists'

Russia's Supreme Court has postponed a hearing on whether to designate Ukraine's Azov Regiment for a second time, which defied besieging Russian forces for weeks in Mariupol, as a terrorist entity.

A court official said the hearing, first set for May 26, had now been rescheduled for August 2. No reason was given.

Russia said in May that 2,439 Ukrainian defenders had surrendered after staging a desperate last stand in the bunkers and tunnels of the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port city, scene of some of the worst devastation of the war.

They included members of the Azov Regiment, whose fighters are revered as heroes in Ukraine but have frequently been characterised by Moscow as Russian-hating neo-Nazis.

The unit was formed in 2014 as an extreme right-wing volunteer militia to fight Russian-backed separatists, but was subsequently folded into the Ukrainian National Guard. Ukraine says it has been reformed away from its radical nationalist origins and is now apolitical.

Relatives of the Ukrainian fighters have appealed for their rights to be protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, and Ukraine says it expects them to be exchanged for Russian prisoners-of-war.

But if the Supreme Court designates the Azov Regiment as a terrorist entity, it could pave the way for some of the men to face trial, as members of the Russian parliament have demanded.

Organising terrorist activity is punishable with life imprisonment in Russia. Participating in a terrorist organisation carries a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years.

The whereabouts of the surrendered Mariupol defenders is unclear.

10:09 AM

Bus, train services to link Crimea to southern Ukraine

Pro-Russian authorities have said they were launching bus and train services between Moscow-annexed Crimea and the southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

"Starting from July 1, regular bus and train services between Crimea and the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia will be launched for the first time in eight years," Sergei Aksyonov, the pro-Moscow head of Crimea, said on messaging app Telegram.

Members of Russia's National Guard will ensure the safety of travel, he added.

The southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been largely under Russia's control since the first weeks of Moscow's military intervention, and are now being forcefully integrated into Russia's economy.

10:00 AM

Biden announces US military air, sea, land reinforcements in Europe

President Joe Biden has announced US reinforcements of Nato forces in Europe, saying the alliance is needed more today "than it ever has been."

Nato will be "strengthened in all directions across every domain - land, air and sea," he said at a summit of the transatlantic alliance being held in Madrid.

"Together with our allies we're going to make sure that Nato is ready to meet the threats from all directions across every domain," Mr Biden said.

"In a moment where (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has shattered peace in Europe and attacked the very, very tenets of rule-based order, the United States and our allies, we're going to step up," he said.

"We're stepping up, proving that Nato is more needed now than it ever has been and it's important as it ever has been."

Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - CASA DE S.M. EL REY/FRANCISCO GOMEZ /REUTERS
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - CASA DE S.M. EL REY/FRANCISCO GOMEZ /REUTERS

09:46 AM

'Lunatic' Putin has 'small man syndrome' - Ben Wallace

Vladimir Putin has "small man syndrome" and a "macho" view of the world, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

The Russian leader is a "lunatic", the Defence Secretary also suggested.

His comments came after Boris Johnson said the Russian leader's invasion of Ukraine was an example of "toxic masculinity" and a female president would not have made the same mistake.

Mr Wallace told LBC Radio: "Well I certainly think President Putin's view of himself and the world is a small man syndrome, macho view."

He added "you rarely hear the phrase small woman syndrome, you always hear small man syndrome".

"I think he's certainly got it in spades," he said.

09:37 AM

China statements 'very worrying' - Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss described China's statements on Nato and the Falklands Islands as "very worrying".

At a discussion at the Nato summit in Madrid, she said: "It's certainly very worrying that China is now making statements about Nato, it's making statements about the sovereignty of the Falklands Islands and really moving from the Indo-Pacific sphere to also challenge ... and this is why it's so important for Nato to respond with our strategic concept that specifically references China.

"It's also very clear that Russia is the junior partner in this relationship and I think that should give pause for thought for countries like India."

Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - Paul White /AP
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - Paul White /AP

09:21 AM

Putin 'will not win' - Pedro Sanchez

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the host of this week's Nato summit, said on that the alliance was delivering a strong message to President Vladimir Putin over Russia's invasion of Ukraine: 'You will not win'.

Earlier, Mr Sanchez said that Russia would be identified as Nato's "main threat" in its new strategic concept, as opposed to a strategic partner previously.

"We are sending a strong message to Putin: 'you will not win'," Mr Sanchez said in a speech.

09:07 AM

Putin 'proved completely wrong' in hopes of reducing Nato - Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin had been "proved completely wrong" in his hopes to reduce Nato dominance as Finland and Sweden moved a step closer to joining the defence alliance.

Arriving at the Nato summit in Madrid, the Prime Minister said: "The first lesson really from today is that if Vladimir Putin was hoping he would be getting less Nato on his western front as a result of his unprovoked, illegal invasion of Ukraine, he's been proved completely wrong - he's getting more Nato.

"This is a historic summit in many ways, but we've already got two new members coming in, Finland and Sweden, a huge step forward for our alliance.

"And what we're going to be doing now is talking about what more we can do as an alliance to support the Ukrainians but what we also need to do to make sure that we think about the lessons of the last few months and the need for Nato to revise its posture on its eastern flank."

08:56 AM

Nato to send weapons to Kyiv for as long as necessary - Olaf Scholz

Nato allies will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons in its war against Russia for as long as necessary, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

"It is good that the countries that are gathered here but many others, too, make their contributions so Ukraine can defend itself - by providing financial means, humanitarian aid but also by providing the weapons that Ukraine urgently needs," Mr Scholz told reporters.

"The message is: We will continue to do so - and to do this intensively - for as long as it is necessary to enable Ukraine to defend itself," he added.

08:50 AM

Moment Russian missile destroys on Kremenchuk shopping centre

08:41 AM

Russia poses a direct threat - Jens Stoltenberg

Nato leaders meeting in Madrid are set to label Russia a menace to their security as they overhaul the alliance's defences in response to the war on Ukraine, Jens Stoltenberg said.

"We'll state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security," Mr Stoltenberg said ahead of the unveiling of Nato's new strategic blueprint.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez echoed this view, telling Cadena Ser radio that Russia will be identified as Nato's "main threat" in its new strategic concept, as opposed to a strategic partner previously.

The military alliance is also set for the first time to turn its attention to the challenge posed by the rising might of China in an update to its guiding "strategic concept".

"China's not an adversary," Mr Stoltenberg said.

"But of course, we need to take into account the consequences to our security when we see China investing heavily in new modern military capabilities, long range missiles or nuclear weapons and also trying to control critical infrastructure for instance, 5G."

In a sign of this shift the leaders of partners South Korea and Japan will attend a Nato summit for the first time.

08:26 AM

Boris Johnson arrives for first meeting at Nato summit

The Prime Minister has met Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese at the Nato summit in Madrid.

"The Prime Minister welcomed Australia's participation in the summit as the largest non-Nato contributor," a Downing Street spokesman said.

"The leaders agreed on the importance of supporting Ukraine and ensuring Putin's vainglorious conquest ends in failure.

"Protecting human rights and territorial sovereignty is in everyone's interests and the ramifications of Putin's action and our response will be felt around the world.

"The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Albanese both welcomed the AUKUS pact, which is promoting stability and security across the Indo-Pacific.

"They looked forward to working more together to boost prosperity and create jobs in both our countries, including when the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement comes into force."

The two leaders also discussed climate change during their talks.

Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - POOL/REUTERS
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - POOL/REUTERS

08:08 AM

We need extra defence investment - Ben Wallace

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has reiterated his call for increased defence spending to counter the threat from Russia.

Mr Wallace, who is attending the Nato summit in Madrid, said that while he had enough funding for the "here and now", extra investment was needed in the next Government spending round from the middle of the decade.

"We were prepared to take certain vulnerabilities on board in the middle of the decade as we got rid of some equipment and re-equipped anew. I think the invasion of Russia into Ukraine has changed that," he told Sky News.

"That is why I think discussions are so important for the middle-of-decade funding. In the here and now we are rightly set. The question is what happens in the middle of the decade.

"My settlement was done before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia is very, very dangerous on the world stage. The world is less secure than it was two, three years ago and is not looking likely to change for the rest of the decade.

"That is the moment, in the middle of the decade, to say we should commit to increased funding."

07:57 AM

Ukraine crisis 'biggest challenge' since WWII - Jens Stoltenberg

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military alliance faces its "biggest challenge" since World War II amid the war in Ukraine.

Mr Stoltenberg said at the start of the Nato summit in Madrid on Wednesday that the allies are meeting "in the midst of the most serious security crisis we have faced."

"This will be a historic and transformative summit," he told reporters.

Mr Stoltenberg also said he expected a swift ratification of Sweden and Finland's membership of the military alliance.

"We will make a decision at the summit to invite Sweden and Finland to become members, that's unprecedented quick," he told reporters. Both countries applied for membership of the alliance in mid-May.

"After invitation, we need a ratification process in 30 parliaments," he added. "That always takes some time but I expect also that to go rather quickly because allies are ready to try to make that ratification process happen as quickly as possible."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address the 30 leaders via video link Wednesday, as Russia's invasion stretches into its fifth month.

Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu 
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - Anadolu Agency /Anadolu

07:38 AM

Ukraine today, in pictures

Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - LEAH MILLIS /REUTERS
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - LEAH MILLIS /REUTERS
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - GENYA SAVILOV /AFP
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - GENYA SAVILOV /AFP
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - SERGEY BOBOK /AFP
Ukraine war: Putin's ‘toxic masculinity’ to blame for war, says Boris Johnson - SERGEY BOBOK /AFP

07:25 AM

Kherson prepares referendum on joining Russia

The Moscow-imposed military-civilian administration in Ukraine's Kherson region said it had begun preparations for a referendum on joining Russia, Russian state news agency TASS has reported.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-backed administration, told Reuters that a date for the referendum had not yet been chosen, but that he expected the vote in "the coming half year".

07:09 AM

Latest MoD update

06:46 AM

In pictures: Moment missile strikes busy shopping mall

At least 18 people died and 50 more were injured in Monday’s missile attack on the Amstor mall, which happened while it was packed with shoppers.

Ukrainian officials said that up to 36 more people were still feared missing in the wreckage, their bodies incinerated beyond recognition.

READ MORE: ‘My friends thought air raid alert at shopping mall was a false alarm – now they’re dead’

A still image from handout CCTV footage shows a Russian missile approaching a shopping mall, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine - CCTV via Instagram @zelenskiy_official
A still image from handout CCTV footage shows a Russian missile approaching a shopping mall, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine - CCTV via Instagram @zelenskiy_official
A still image from handout CCTV footage shows a Russian missile approaching a shopping mall, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine - CCTV via Instagram @zelenskiy_official
A still image from handout CCTV footage shows a Russian missile approaching a shopping mall, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine - CCTV via Instagram @zelenskiy_official
A still image from handout CCTV footage shows a Russian missile approaching a shopping mall, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine - CCTV via Instagram @zelenskiy_official
A still image from handout CCTV footage shows a Russian missile approaching a shopping mall, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, at a location given as Kremenchuk, in Poltava region, Ukraine - CCTV via Instagram @zelenskiy_official

06:38 AM

Two killed in residential building strike

Two people were killed and three wounded by a Russian strike on a residential building in Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv on Wednesday morning, regional governor Vitaly Kim said.

He did not clarify whether it was a bomb or missile strike, artillery or mortar shelling.

06:37 AM

Kherson prepares for referendum on joining Russia

The Moscow-imposed military-civilian administration in Ukraine's Kherson region said it had started preparations for a referendum on joining Russia, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Wednesday.

06:30 AM

Russia ‘cannot and must not win’

Emmanuel Macron has said Russia must not be allowed to win the war in Ukraine, in a hardening of his rhetoric against Moscow.

In a marked change of tone from his call on world powers not to “humiliate” Vladimir Putin, the French President  said Western allies should be ready to back Kyiv for as long as necessary to achieve victory.

“I really hope that the end [of the conflict] can be achieved by the end of the year, with a certainty and a desire, which is that Russia cannot and must not win,” Mr Macron told reporters at the end of a G7 meeting in Bavaria.

READ MORE: Emmanuel Macron declares in change of tune on Ukraine war

04:49 AM

'Undeniable fact was that Russia invaded Ukraine'

Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, has told Western nations that by supplying weapons to Ukraine they are prolonging the time when Ukraine's leaders "will sit down at the negotiating table with a realistic position rather than with slogans".

"We began a special military operation in order to stop the shelling of Donbas by Ukraine and so that the territory of this country, which has been turned into anti-Russia at the behest of a number of Western countries, as well as its nationalist leadership, ceases to pose a threat to Russia or the inhabitants of the south and southeast of Ukraine," he said.

"And until those goals are achieved, our operation will continue."

Britain's UN Ambassador, Barbara Woodward, retorted that Russia "can try to claim that nothing is true and make outrageous claims of Ukrainian provocations" but the undeniable fact was that Russia invaded Ukraine.

"There is one aggressor here," she said. "The evidence will catch up with them and there will be accountability for these crimes."

04:01 AM

Zelensky says Russia 'work as terrorists every day'

Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of becoming "a terrorist" state carrying out "daily terrorist acts" and urged Russia's expulsion from the United Nations.

In a virtual address to the UN Security Council, the Ukrainian President urged the UN to establish an international tribunal to investigate "the actions of Russian occupiers on Ukrainian soil" and to hold the country accountable.

"We need to act urgently to do everything to make Russia stop the killing spree," Mr Zelensky said, warning that otherwise Russia's "terrorist activity" will spread to other European countries and Asia, singling out the Baltic states of Poland, Moldova and Kazakhstan.

"What is punished at the level of specific criminals and criminal organisations must not go unpunished at the level of a state that has become a terrorist," he said.

"Daily terrorist acts. No days off. They work as terrorists every day."

A Russian missile destroyed a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine on Monday, continuing Vladimir Putin's attacks on civilians living far behind the front line:

In urging Russia's ouster from the 193-member UN, Mr Zelensky cited Article 6 of the UN Charter, which states that a member "which has persistently violated the principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the organisation by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council".

Russia's expulsion, however, is virtually impossible because, as a permanent council member, Russia would be able to use its veto to block any attempt to oust it.

03:18 AM

Nato 'must adapt to meet new and increased threats'

Boris Johnson talks to journalists on Tuesday during a flight from Germany, where he was attending the G7 Summit, to the NATO Summit in Spain - Stefan Rousseau
Boris Johnson talks to journalists on Tuesday during a flight from Germany, where he was attending the G7 Summit, to the NATO Summit in Spain - Stefan Rousseau

On the flight to Madrid for the Nato summit, Boris Johnson said there needed to be "a conversation within Nato" about a new target for defence investment after 2024.

Nato "must adapt to meet new and increased threats" with "long-term investment" as well as a readiness "to surge defence spending to adapt to crises and urgent needs", the British government said in a statement.

The Prime Minister will also announce at the summit that Britain will boost its military presence in Estonia, a tiny nation bordering Russia, with more powerful weapons and air defence.

02:19 AM

Allies must continue to step up in time of crisis, says PM

Boris Johnson will urge his Nato allies at a summit in Madrid to boost their defence spending in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, his office said on Tuesday.

After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Nato member states pledged to spend at least 2pc of their gross domestic product on defence to ensure the readiness of the alliance by 2024.

Only eight of Nato's 30 members met or surpassed this target, but nations including Germany and Italy have boosted their defence spending due to the war in Ukraine.

"We need allies – all allies – to dig deep to restore deterrence and ensure defence in the decade ahead," the Prime Minister will tell the Nato summit today.

"The 2pc was always meant to be a floor, not a ceiling and allies must continue to step up in this time of crisis."

READ MORE: Boris Johnson faces Cabinet battle over defence spending

01:46 AM

Kherson mayor 'finally neutralised', says Moscow team

Russia-installed officials in Ukraine's Kherson region said their security forces had detained Kherson city mayor Ihor Kolykhayev on Tuesday after he refused to follow Moscow's orders, while a Kherson local official said the mayor was abducted.

Kherson, a port city on the Black Sea, sits just northwest of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula. It was occupied during the first week of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began in February, and a large part of the local population has left the region.

"I can confirm that Kolykhayev was detained by the commandant's (military police) office," said Ekaterina Gubareva, the Moscow-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region.

Halyna Lyashevska, an adviser to Mr Kolykhayev, said the mayor was abducted after refusing to cooperate with Russian occupiers: "This morning, the mayor of Kherson, Ihor Kolykhayev, came to one of the utility facilities where the remaining employees of the city council were working.

"As soon as he got out of the car, he was immediately detained by the armed national guards and, most likely, the FSB [Russia's Federal Security Services]."

Another Moscow-installed deputy in the region, Kirill Stremousov, said Mr Kolykhayev did "much damage" to Russia's "denazification process" in Ukraine.

"Finally, he was neutralised," Stremousov said.

12:57 AM

Watch: Johnson and G7 mock Putin

At the summit on Monday, Mr Johnson joked with Justin Trudeau the pair should take their jackets off to emulate Mr Putin’s photo opportunity, Tony Diver writes in Madrid.

The pair laughed about how hot it was in one meeting room, where there was no air conditioning.

The Canadian Prime Minister said: "We’re going to get the bare-chested horseback riding display."

Mr Johnson replied: "There you go! We’ve got to show them our pecs."

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, added: "Horseback riding is the best though."

12:54 AM

Today's top stories

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting