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Russia-Ukraine live updates: US gathers NATO allies in Germany for Ukraine aid talks

Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military earlier this month launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, as it attempts to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and secure a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 26, 10:53 am
‘People’s Friendship’ statue taken down in Kyiv

A Soviet-era statue that has stood in the capital of Ukraine since 1982 and once symbolized the friendship between Russia and Ukraine was taken down on Tuesday in response to the war between the two countries.

An ABC News crew was on-hand in Kyiv as a large crane removed the bronze “People’s Friendship” statue from its pedestal.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the statue, a gift from the former Soviet Union, is being dismantled because of the “brutal killing and a desire to destroy our state.”

The statue depicts two workers, a Russian and a Ukrainian, holding up a Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples. The monument was dedicated in November 1982 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the USSR and the 1,500th anniversary of Kyiv.

Klitschko said a 164-foot-tall titanium rainbow-shaped arch the statue rested under will remain and be illuminated with the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

-ABC News’ Marcus Moore

Apr 26, 7:07 am
US gathers NATO allies in Germany for Ukraine aid talks

The U.S. will “keep moving heaven and earth” to supply aid to Ukraine, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday at a meeting of the Ukraine Security Consultive Group, which includes military representatives from about 40 countries.

“Ukraine clearly believes it can win. And so does everyone here,” Austin said in his opening remarks at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. “I know that we’re all determined to do everything we can to support Ukraine’s needs as the fight evolves.”

Austin said the group would seek to leave with a common understanding of “Ukraine’s near term security requirements, because we’re going to keep moving heaven and earth so that we can meet them.”

He called Russia’s war with Ukraine “indefensible,” adding that Putin didn’t “imagine the world [would] rally behind Ukraine’s so swiftly and so surely.”

Apr 26, 6:08 am
Russia attempts to encircle Ukrainian positions in east, UK says

Russian forces appeared to be moving to encircle “heavily fortified” Ukrainian positions in the east, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.

“The city of Kreminna has reportedly fallen and heavy fighting is reported south of Izium, as Russian forces attempt to advance towards the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk from the north and east,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

Ukrainian forces in Zaporizhzhia were preparing for an attack from the south, the ministry said.

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