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Russia-Ukraine updates: Biden to visit facility that manufactures Javelin anti-tank missiles

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 27, 4:53 pm
Biden to deliver supplemental budget request with Ukraine funding as soon as Thursday

President Joe Biden’s supplemental budget request to secure more funding for Ukraine could be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as Thursday, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“In terms of the length or the size, I don’t have a number for you at this point,” Psaki told reporters at Wednesday’s briefing. “But there is plans for this to be a proposal to go through the fiscal year, and it will include — as our past packages have included — security or military assistance, humanitarian economic assistance.”

Psaki promised that Biden would stick to his word of delivering the supplemental request before the end of the week.

Last Thursday, Biden announced that he would make this request of Congress while announcing the latest $800 million aid package for Ukraine.

“I’ve almost exhausted the drawdown authority I have that Congress authorized for Ukraine in a bipartisan spending bill last month. In order to sustain Ukraine for the duration of this fight, next week I’m going to have to be sending to Congress a supplemental budget request to keep weapons and ammunition flowing without interruption,” Biden said last week. “My hope and expectation is that Congress would move and act quickly.”

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Apr 27, 3:38 pm
Blinken says US could reopen Kyiv embassy in ‘next few weeks’

While U.S. diplomats began returning to Lviv for day trips on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that he hopes to move toward reopening the U.S Embassy in Kyiv in the “next few weeks.”

Blinken appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday for his second of three days of testimony about the Biden administration’s budget request.

Blinken said the administration will put forward a request for supplemental funding in the “next couple days” after President Joe Biden exhausted the funding in his presidential drawdown authority to provide weapons and other military aid immediately to Ukraine.

That “robust” assistance request will include funding for aid to Ukraine and other U.S. partners and allies and for a functioning U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, he said.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Apr 27, 1:29 pm
Microsoft releases detailed report of Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine

Microsoft has released a detailed report of what it says are “destructive” Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine, which the company says seem “strongly correlated and sometimes directly timed with its kinetic military operations.”

“For example, a Russian actor launched cyberattacks against a major broadcasting company on March 1st, the same day the Russian military announced its intention to destroy Ukrainian ‘disinformation’ targets and directed a missile strike against a TV tower in Kyiv,” Microsoft said. “On March 13th, during the third week of the invasion, a separate Russian actor stole data from a nuclear safety organization weeks after Russian military units began capturing nuclear power plants sparking concerns about radiation exposure and catastrophic accidents. “

Microsoft said it has observed nearly 40 attacks “targeting hundreds of systems.”

The company said “32% of destructive attacks directly targeted Ukrainian government organizations” while “more than 40% of destructive attacks were aimed at organizations in critical infrastructure sectors that could have negative second-order effects on the Ukrainian government, military, economy and people.”

-ABC News’ Cindy Smith

Apr 27, 12:34 pm
Biden to visit facility that manufactures Javelin anti-tank missiles

President Joe Biden will visit a Lockheed Martin facility in Alabama on Tuesday where Javelin anti-tank missiles are being manufactured for Ukrainian troops, the White House said.

The U.S. has committed over 5,500 Javelin anti-armor systems for Ukrainians, according to the Pentagon.

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Apr 26, 6:58 pm
War in Ukraine dealt a ‘major shock’ to commodities markets: World Bank

The World Bank issued a report on Tuesday that said the war in Ukraine dealt a major shock to commodity markets and altered global patterns of trade, production and consumption in ways that will keep prices at historically high levels through the end of 2024.

“Overall, this amounts to the largest commodity shock we’ve experienced since the 1970s,” Indermit Gill, the World Bank’s vice president for equitable growth, finance and institutions, said in a statement.

The report said energy prices are expected to rise more than 50% in 2022 before easing in 2023 and 2024.

Wheat prices are forecast to increase more than 40%, putting pressure on developing economies that rely on wheat imports, especially from Russia and Ukraine, according to the World Bank.

Metal prices are projected to increase by 16% in 2022 before easing in 2023, according to the report.

Crude oil prices are expected to average $100 a barrel in 2022, its highest level since 2013 and an increase of more than 40% compared to 2021, the report said. Oil prices are expected to moderate to $92 in 2023, which is above the five-year average of $60 a barrel, the World Bank said.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Apr 26, 6:29 pm
Russia’s Gazprom suspends gas deliveries to Bulgaria, Poland

Polish natural gas company PGNiG announced Tuesday they received a notice from Gazprom that deliveries will be suspended starting Wednesday, April 27.

Poland has refused to pay for gas in rubles and PGNiG says they are prepared to procure gas supplies from alternate sources; storage is currently at 80%.

“Not a problem,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

Gazprom sent a similar notice to Bulgaria’s natural gas company Bulgargaz, according to a statement from the country’s energy minister Alexander Nikolov.

Morawiecki urged other EU countries, particularly Germany, to stop relying on Russian energy before Russia itself decides to cut them off, or sets economy-crippling prices.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou, Conor Finnegan and Tomek Rolski

Apr 26, 6:00 pm
Sen. Rand Paul confronts Secretary Blinken over war in Ukraine

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had a heated back and forth with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Capitol Hill over the war in Ukraine.

Paul pushed Blinken on support for Ukraine’s possible membership in NATO and what he called “the reasons” for the Russian invasion.

“I’m saying that the countries that have been attacked, Georgia and Ukraine, were part of the Soviet Union since 1920s,” he said.

“That does not give Russia the right to attack them,” Blinken said, explaining that the Kremlin’s security concerns about Ukraine joining NATO were adequately weighed and attempts at diplomacy were made.

“It is abundantly clear, in President Putin’s own words, that this was never about Ukraine, being potentially part of NATO, and it was always about his belief that Ukraine does not deserve to be a sovereign independent country that it must be reassumed into Russia in one form or another,” Blinken said.

Paul interjected during Blinken’s answer, denying he was making the argument that Russia’s actions were justified. The senator then asked Blinken about talks between Russia and Ukraine and the potential outcomes.

“Would the U.S. would President Biden be open to accepting Ukraine as an unaligned neutral nation?” Paul asked.

“We’re not going to be more Ukrainian than the Ukrainians. These are decisions for them to make,” Blinken said.

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford and Connor Finnegan

Apr 26, 5:06 pm
US diplomats briefly return to Ukraine, but embassy remains closed

The United States returned diplomats to Ukraine for the first time since the beginning of the Russian invasion with a team making a day trip across the border from Poland to meet Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, the State Department confirmed on Tuesday.

“The deputy chief of mission and members of the embassy team traveled to Lviv, Ukraine, today, where they were able to continue our close collaboration with key Ukrainian partners,” said State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Price called the move a “first step” toward eventually reopening the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

“Today’s travel was a first step ahead of more regular travel in the immediate future. And as we’ve said, we’re accelerating preparations to resume Embassy Kyiv operations just as soon as possible,” Price said. “We are constantly assessing and evaluating and reassessing the security situation with a view toward resuming those embassy operations as soon as possible.”

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Apr 26, 4:46 pm
Germany to send anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine

Germany plans to supply Ukraine with “Gepard” anti-aircraft tanks, the German Minister of Defense announced Tuesday on Twitter.

“We made our decisions in coordination with our allies,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said earlier Tuesday during a news conference at a meeting of NATO countries hosted by the United States at Ramstein Air Base. “That is, once it was clear others will deliver certain systems, we support them in that. We deliver as well. That is our way — Germany is not doing it alone. And if Ukraine now urgently needs such air defense systems, then we are also prepared to support them.”

Lambrecht said Tuesday’s gathering of NATO countries to discuss strengthening Ukraine’s military both in the short and long terms was a “starting point.”

“The best security strategy for Ukraine is well-trained and equipped armed forces,” Lambrecht said, “Germany has been providing a very high level of support in a variety of ways since the war began.”

The move from Germany comes just days after Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told ABC News that she was disappointed in Germany for seemingly dragging its feet on sending heavy artillery, including tanks, to Ukraine and said it appeared German leaders are attempting to placate Putin.

“They don’t understand. There is no way to pacify Putin,” Vereshchuk said. “It would be a huge problem for NATO if Russia has dominance over the Black Sea.”

Apr 26, 3:51 pm
Blinken says Ukrainians have won the battle for Kyiv

Speaking publicly about his visit to Ukraine for the first time since returning home, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “the Ukrainians have won the battle for Kyiv.”

Blinken, who visited Ukraine over the weekend with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, emphasized the need for additional aid to help Ukrainians weather the ongoing war as it enters its next phase.

“As we took the train across the border and rode westward into Ukraine, we saw mile after mile of Ukrainian countryside, territory that just a couple of months ago, the Russian government thought that it could seize in a matter of weeks. Today — firmly Ukraine’s,” Blinken told the committee.

Blinken said that while in Kyiv, he saw the signs of “a vibrant city coming back to life” with people eating outside, sitting on benches and strolling the streets.

“For all the suffering that they’ve endured, for all the carnage that Russia’s brutal invasion continues to inflict, Ukraine was and will continue to be a free and independent country,” he said.

Blinken said the United States has played a vital part in helping Ukrainian forces mount an effective resistance against Russia.

“I have to tell you, I felt some pride in what the United States has done to support the Ukrainian government and its people and an even firmer conviction that we must not let up,” Blinken said. “Moscow’s war of aggression against Ukraine has underscored the power and purpose of American diplomacy.”

He added, “We have to continue to drive that diplomacy forward to seize what I believe are strategic opportunities, as well as address risks presented by Russia’s overreach as countries are reconsidering their policies, their priorities, their relationships.”

-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford and Conor Finnegan

Apr 26, 2:28 pm
UN chief presses Putin on urgent need for humanitarian corridors in Ukraine

Prior to meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement calling for humanitarian corridors in Ukraine that are “truly safe.”

Guterres later raised the issue with Putin during a face-to-face meeting, stressing the urgent need for the creation of safe and effective humanitarian corridors in the war-ravaged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where he said thousands of civilians remain trapped, according to the Russian state-run TASS news service. Guterres also proposed the creation of a humanitarian contact group.

“We urgently need humanitarian corridors that are truly safe and effective, and that are respected by all to evacuate civilians and deliver much needed assistance,” Guterres said prior to meeting with Putin. “To that end, I have proposed the establishment of a humanitarian contact group, bringing together the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the U.N. to look for opportunities for the opening of safe corridors, with local cessation of hostilities and to guarantee they are actually effective.”

Guterres made his statement following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

While meeting with Guterres, Putin said the U.N. chief has been misled and insisted that humanitarian corridors in Mariupol are functioning, according to TASS.

“You say that Russia’s humanitarian corridors are not operating. Mr. Secretary-General, you have been misled: these corridors are operating,” Putin said, according to TASS.

Putin told Guterres that up to 140,000 people had fled Mariupol with the assistance of Russia.

“And they can go anywhere. Some want to go to Russia; some want to go to Ukraine. Anywhere! We do not keep them, we provide all kinds of help and support,” Putin said, according to TASS.

However, Putin “agreed, in principle, to the involvement of the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by the U.N.

Apr 26, 1:29 pm
UN General Assembly unanimously adopts new rule on veto powers

The U.N. General Assembly — where all 193 countries have a vote — has unanimously adopted a resolution that creates a new accountability mechanism.

Now, whenever a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council uses its veto power to block a resolution, it will automatically trigger a debate in the General Assembly within 10 days.

The move was made primarily in response to Russia’s veto power, which the country has used repeatedly to sink resolutions about its own aggression. It has paralyzed the ability of the Security Council, the United Nation’s most powerful body, to check Russia.

The United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom are the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, while the ten other seats rotate and are won by election.

The United States and Liechtenstein co-sponsored the resolution, with the tiny European country tweeting, “Together we have made sure today that a veto is no longer the last word on issues of peace and security.”

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Apr 26, 12:19 pm
US to meet with NATO allies monthly as Defense Secretary Austin conveys urgency in Ukraine

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said meetings like the one on Tuesday with more than 40 NATO allies and other partner nations will now occur monthly.

“To ensure that we continue to build on our progress, we’re going to extend this forum beyond today,” Austin said during a news conference at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“I’m proud to announce that today’s gathering will become a monthly contact group on Ukraine’s self-defense,” he said.

The meetings will focus on strengthening Ukraine’s military both in the short and long terms, Austin said.

“The contact group will be a vehicle for nations of good will to intensify our efforts and coordinate our assistance and focus on winning today’s fight and the struggles to come,” Austin said. “The monthly meetings may be in person, virtual, or mixed.”

Austin, who visited Ukraine on Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, praised Tuesday’s meeting with NATO allies, saying, “We’re all coming away with a transparent and shared understanding of a challenge that Ukrainians face.”

Austin conveyed a sense of urgency for the international community to help the Ukrainians.

“I applaud all of the countries that have risen, and are rising, to this moment,” he said. “But we don’t have any time to waste. The briefings today laid out clearly why the coming weeks will be so crucial for Ukraine. So, we’ve got to move at the speed of war.”

Austin thanked Germany for hosting Tuesday’s meeting and for offering to send Ukraine 50 Cheetah anti-aircraft systems. He also thanked the United Kingdom for its announcement Monday that it would provide Ukraine additional anti-aircraft capabilities.

“We held an important session today with long-term support for Ukraine’s defenses, including what that will take from our defense industrial bases,” Austin said. “That means dealing with the tremendous demand that we’re facing for munitions and weapons platforms, and giving our staunch support to Ukraine while also meeting our own requirements, and those of our allies and partners.”

-ABC News’ Matt Syler

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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