Ukraine morning briefing: Five developments as two missile strikes hit Ukrainian military unit

·3 min read
Volodymyr Ilnytskyi, 55, a retired policeman, prays before ringing the bell of the Latin Cathedral in Lviv - AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty
Volodymyr Ilnytskyi, 55, a retired policeman, prays before ringing the bell of the Latin Cathedral in Lviv - AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

Good morning. Western leaders have denounced Moscow's invasion of its neighbour as "barbarism" as thousands in besieged cities sheltered underground from Russian bombardment.

Responding to Thursday's Nato show of unity among Western leaders in Brussels, Moscow said the West had itself to blame for the war by arming the "Kyiv regime".

Here are the key developments from overnight, and you can follow the latest news in our daily liveblog.

1. Two missile strikes hit Ukrainian military unit

News is breaking that in Dnipro, Ukrainian forces have been badly hit this morning. According to the city's governor, there is "serious destruction" after two missile strikes hit a Ukrainian military unit on the outskirts of the city. The governor says rescuers are desperately looking for survivors.

Our liveblog will bring you the latest updates.

2. Ukraine is reoccupying defensive positions

The UK Ministry of Defence said Ukraine had managed to reoccupy some areas, however.

In its latest intelligence update, posted on Twitter, the MoD said: "Ukrainian counter-attacks, and Russian forces falling back on overextended supply lines, have allowed Ukraine to reoccupy towns and defensive positions up to 35 kilometres east of Kyiv.

"Ukrainian forces are likely to continue to attempt to push Russian forces back along the north-western axis from Kyiv towards Hostomel Airfield.

"In the south of Ukraine, Russian forces are still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa, with their progress being slowed by logistic issues and Ukrainian resistance."

3. Hundreds of thousands 'forcibly removed' to Russia

People who are sheltering in a metro station in northern Kharkiv receive food from volunteers - REUTERS/Thomas Peter
People who are sheltering in a metro station in northern Kharkiv receive food from volunteers - REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Ukraine has accused Moscow of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians to Russia to pressure Kyiv to give up.

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his country to keep up its military defence and not stop "even for a minute".

Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will into Russia, where some may be used as "hostages" to pressure Kyiv to surrender.

The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated, but said they wanted to go to Russia.

4. Ex-president says Western sanctions won't sway Kremlin

It is "foolish" to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on Moscow, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council was quoted as saying on Friday.

The sanctions will only consolidate the Russian society and not cause popular discontent with the authorities, he told Russia's RIA news agency.

The West has imposed an array of sanctions on Russia, but one month into the war, the Kremlin says it will continue the assault until it accomplishes its goals of Ukraine's "demilitarisation and denazification".

Some of the sanctions have specifically targeted billionaire businessmen believed to be close to President Vladimir Putin.

"Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country's leadership?" Mr Medvedev said.

"I openly tell you: no, no way."

Read more from Verity Bowman here.

5. Gas shipments to help wean Europe off Russian energy

Joe Biden is expected on Friday to announce increased shipments of liquefied natural gas to Europe, part of a long-term initiative to wean the Continent off Russian energy after the invasion of Ukraine.

He plans to discuss the issue with Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Union's executive arm, shortly before leaving for Poland.

Russian energy is a key source of income and political leverage for Moscow. Almost 40 per cent of the European Union's natural gas comes from Russia to heat homes, generate electricity and power industry.

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