Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the world not to underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear war, and said he viewed NATO as being "in essence" engaged in a proxy war with Russia by supplying Kyiv with weaponry.
- The United States will host more than 40 countries on Tuesday for Ukraine-related defense talks in Germany that will focus on arming Ukraine. The United States pledged $713 million in new aid on Monday.
- The International Criminal Court will take part in a joint team investigating allegations of war crimes in Ukraine, the European Union's agency for criminal justice cooperation said.
Russian energy giant Gazprom has told Poland's and Bulgaria's state-controlled oil and gas companies it will halt gas supplies from Wednesday morning, Poland's PGNiG and the Bulgarian Energy Ministry said in separate statements on Tuesday.
Bulgaria said a "new payment scheme" by the Russian firm breaches the existing contract, adding that there was no need to restrict gas consumption. Some reports suggest Moscow has sought payments in rubles from both countries.
Anna Moskwa, Poland's minister for climate and environment, tweeted: “Poland has the necessary gas reserves and sources of supply that protect our security... There will be no shortage of gas in Polish homes.”
Poland has been working to wean itself off of Russian energy sources and was due to end its reliance on Russian gas this year.
Her tweet followed reports by the Onet news portal that Russia has suspended gas supplies to Poland under the Yamal contract. Onet reported that a crisis team had gathered at the Ministry of Climate to deal with the matter. Onet said, citing unnamed sources, that Russia had insisted on a Friday deadline for payment in rubles and that Poland has said it would not pay in rubles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed "in principle" to UN and International Committee for the Red Cross involvement in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Ukraine's Mariupol, the United Nations said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Follow-on discussions will be had with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Russian Defense Ministry," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement after Putin met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Moscow.
The UN General Assembly took a first step to put the five permanent members of the Security Council under a global spotlight Tuesday when they use their veto power, a move highlighted by Russia’s veto and threat of future vetoes that has paralyzed any action by the UN’s most powerful body on the Ukraine war.
The United States said the world was galvanized against Russia's two-month-old invasion of Ukraine as it hosted defense talks in Germany involving over 40 countries that sought to speed and synchronize the delivery of arms to Kyiv.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hosted the event at Ramstein Air Base following a trip to Kyiv where he pledged additional military support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's war effort, which is at a crossroads.
"As we see this morning, nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's imperial aggression," Austin said at the start of talks.
"Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here."
Russia on Tuesday warned Britain that if it continued to provoke Ukraine to strike targets in Russia then there would be an immediate "proportional response," the RIA news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying.
Britain's armed forces minister James Heappey said on Tuesday that it was completely legitimate for Ukraine to strike Russian logistics lines and fuel supplies. He acknowledged the weapons the international community was now providing had the range to be used in Russia.
Ukraine's foreign ministry expressed concern on Tuesday about the situation in Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region of Transdniestria, and condemned what it said were Russian attempts to drag the region into Russia's war against Ukraine.
After a series of explosions in Transdniestria, the Ukrainian foreign ministry reaffirmed its support for Moldova's territorial integrity, and said that Ukraine's armed forces were ready to defend their country against any threat.
The head of the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniestria said attacks on the territory could be traced back to Ukraine, the TASS news agency reported on Tuesday.
"The traces of these attacks lead to Ukraine", TASS cites Vadim Krasnoselsky, the self-styled president of the breakaway region as saying.
"I assume that those who organized this attack have the purpose of dragging Transdniestria into the conflict." Transdniestria has been subject to several attacks in the past day, local authorities say, after a military unit was targeted, blasts tore through Transdniestria's state security HQ and two explosions damaged old Soviet-era radio antennae.
Moldova's president said on Tuesday that the attacks in the Russia-backed region were an attempt by factions within the territory to increase tensions, and the Kremlin voiced serious concern.
The powerful secretary of Russia's Security Council said on Tuesday that Western and Ukrainian government policy was leading towards the break-up of Ukraine.
Nikolai Patrushev was quoted by government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta as saying that Ukraine would collapse into several states due to the policy of the West and the government in Kyiv.
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Moldova held an urgent security meeting on Tuesday and the Kremlin voiced serious concerns after two blasts damaged Soviet-era radio masts in the breakaway region of Transdniestria where authorities said a military unit was also targeted.
The Moldovan authorities are sensitive to any sign of growing tensions in Transdniestria, an unrecognized Moscow-backed sliver of land bordering southwestern Ukraine, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia has had troops permanently based in Transdniestria since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kyiv fears the region could be used as a launch pad for new attacks on Ukraine.
"In the early morning of April 26, two explosions occurred in the village of Maiac, Grigoriopol district: the first at 6:40 and the second at 7:05," Transdniestria's interior ministry said. No residents were hurt, but two radio antennae that broadcast Russian radio were knocked out, it said. Separately, Transdniestria's Security Council reported a "terrorist attack" on a military unit near the city of Tiraspol, Russia's TASS news agency reported.
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Germany is expected to announce on Tuesday that it will send anti-aircraft tanks directly to Ukraine, a change in policy for a country that has come under criticism for not sending heavier weaponry to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion.
Under the plan, weapons company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will be given permission to send Cheetah anti-aircraft cannon tanks, known as Gepards in German, to Ukraine.
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will manufacture the Gepards from tanks and spare parts already owned by Germany's Bundeswehr, making modifications where necessary.
Israel is one of 40 countries participating in a U.S.-hosted defense summit to discuss increasing international defense aid to Ukraine, which has been engaged in conflict with Russia for over two months.
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Dror Shalom, head of the political security division of the Defense Ministry, is representing Israel in the meeting, which was opened by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
"As we see this morning, nations from around the world stand united in our resolve to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's imperial aggression," Austin said. "Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here."
Israel received an official invitation to the summit on Sunday. Defense Minister Benny Gantz was unable to attend due to conflicting events with Holocaust Memorial Day, which begins on Wednesday evening.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is expecting some 8.3 million people to flee Ukraine this year, revising up its previous projection, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
More than 12.7 million people have fled their homes in the past two months, including 7.7 million people displaced internally and more than 5 million who have fled over borders, UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo told a UN news briefing.
UNHCR had previously planned for some 4 million refugees in the immediate aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24 but this was surpassed last month.
"The scale of the crisis, definitely the rapidity of people fleeing, we have not seen in recent times," Mantoo told the briefing.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin kicked off defense talks with more than 40 countries on Tuesday by expressing confidence that Ukraine can prevail against Russia in the two-month-old conflict.
"Your resistance has brought inspiration to the free world," Austin said, as he denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "indefensible." "Ukraine clearly believes that it can win, and so does everyone here."
Meanwhile, EU's energy policy chief said on Tuesday that a sixth package of sanctions against Russia is expected "very soon."
The exact date of the package is not yet confirmed, and as with the previous rounds of EU sanctions it would need approval from EU countries, EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson told a news conference in Warsaw.
Russia pummeled Ukraine with missiles, aircraft and artillery overnight, killing at least 560 Ukrainian fighters and destroying dozens of armored vehicles, rocket systems and other military equipment, the defense ministry said.
Russian aircraft struck 87 different military installations while rockets and artillery rained down on Ukrainian positions, destroying S-300 missile systems, a Tochka U short-range ballistic missile system, BUK-M1 and Osa-AKM missile systems.
"About 500 enemy personnel, 59 armored vehicles, artillery guns and cars were destroyed, as well as more than 60 militants of the nationalist 'Donbas' group in the Donetsk People's Republic," the defense ministry said. The Russian-backed separatist leader of the Ukrainian breakaway region of Donetsk said that Moscow should launch the next stage of its military campaign in Ukraine after reaching the region's frontiers, RIA news agency quoted him as saying.
Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, made the comment on a Russian talk show broadcast online.
At least one person was killed and another wounded in a rocket strike on a commercial premises in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, local authorities said.
The regional administration said two rockets hit the premises and a third rocket exploded before reaching its target.
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The wider international community, not NATO, is providing military support to Ukraine, British armed forces minister James Heappey said on Tuesday after Russia's foreign minister said the Western alliance was engaged in a proxy war with Russia.
"The donor community is not NATO," Heappey told Sky News when asked about Sergei Lavrov's comments."
The donor effort is something that has been brought together by countries that are yes, many of them are from NATO, but others are from beyond ... it is not NATO that is doing the military aid."
British armed forces minister James Heappey said on Tuesday he did not think there was an imminent threat of escalation in the war in Ukraine, dismissing comments by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as bravado.
Earlier Lavrov told the world not to underestimate the considerable risks of nuclear conflict, and said NATO's supply of weapons to Ukraine "in essence" meant that the Western alliance was engaged in a proxy war with Russia.
"Lavrov's trademark over the course of 15 years or so that he has been the Russian foreign secretary has been that sort of bravado. I don't think that right now there is an imminent threat of escalation," Heappey told BBC Television. "What the West is doing to support its allies in Ukraine is very well calibrated ... Everything we do is calibrated to avoid direct confrontation with Russia."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West on Monday not to underestimate the elevated risks of nuclear conflict over Ukraine and said he viewed NATO as being "in essence" engaged in a proxy war with Russia by supplying Kyiv with weaponry.
Lavrov, in a wide-ranging interview broadcast on state television, also said that the core of any agreement to end the conflict in Ukraine would depend largely on the military situation on the ground. Lavrov had been asked about the importance of avoiding World War Three and whether the current situation was comparable to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, a low point in U.S-Soviet relations.
Russia, Lavrov said, was doing a lot to uphold the principle of striving to prevent nuclear war at all costs. "This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable," Lavrov said. "I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it."
Weapons supplied by Western countries “will be a legitimate target," said Lavrov, who accused Ukrainian leaders of provoking Russia by asking NATO to become involved in the conflict. NATO forces are “pouring oil on the fire,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.
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