Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
China's foreign minister told his Russian counterpart on Thursday that Beijing would "maintain communication and coordination" with Moscow during efforts to reach a "political settlement" to the Ukraine conflict.
“China is willing to maintain communication and coordination with Russia to make tangible political contributions to the political settlement of the crisis,” Qin Gang told Sergei Lavrov at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Goa, India, according to a statement released by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Beijing has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or call for a withdrawal of its troops, instead urging restraint by “all parties” and accusing NATO of fueling the conflict. It has also continued to deepen diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow.
A vaguely-worded “political settlement” to the conflict released by China on the first anniversary of Russia's invasion has been widely viewed in the West and Kyiv as being far more favorable to Russia than Ukraine. It calls for a ceasefire but includes no provision that Moscow first withdraw its troops from Ukrainian land, which Ukrainian officials have suggested is necessary for them to engage in negotiations.
During the previous meeting between the two foreign ministers on April 13, Qin told Lavrov that all parties need to take action to build mutual trust and create conditions for peace talks.
The head of Russian private military company Wagner has launched an expletive-filled verbal attack on Kremlin officials in a graphic new video in which he appears beside what he says are the bodies of his mercenaries killed fighting in Ukraine.
“These guys here are Wagner PMC [men] who died today. The blood is still fresh. Film all of them!” Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says in the video posted to social media.
Prigozhin last month threatened to withdraw his mercenaries from the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut if they don't receive more munitions to continue the fight.
In the new video, he reiterated his call for munitions, urging Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed forces Valery Gerasimov to look at the bodies.
“These are someone's f**king fathers and someone's sons. And you f**kers who aren't giving [us] ammunition, you b*tches, will have your guts eaten out in hell!”, Prigozhin says in the video. “You sit there in your luxury clubs, your kids are addicted to shooting clips for YouTube. You think you are the masters of this life? You think you can dispose of their lives? If you have warehouses full of ammunition, then you do.”
Prigozhin, whose forces have played a key role in Russian assaults on Ukrainian territory, has often clashed with Putin’s generals and other defense officials in Moscow.
He has complained for well over a month of receiving insufficient support from the Kremlin in the grueling fight for Bakhmut.
“This is simple math," he says in the video. "If you give the normal amount of ammunition, there would be five times less [dead]. They came here as volunteers and are dying so you can sit like fat cats in your luxury offices.”
Russia and the United States are on what Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called "the verge of an open armed conflict." But Ryabkov told Russia's state-owned First Channel that "Moscow is working to make sure it doesn't happen," according to state news agency TASS.
Ryabkov said Moscow and Washington are in contact as needed, including at a high level, but also added that "Washington has long been a direct party to the Ukrainian conflict and aims to destroy sovereign Russia," TASS reported.
Some context: The news comes on the heels of Russia's claim that the US was involved in an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin and an assassination attempt against President Vladimir Putin. Both allegations drew sharp denials from Kyiv and Washington.
John Kirby, the National Security Council’s Coordinator for Strategic Communications, called Russia’s allegation that the US directed Ukraine to carry out such an attack “ridiculous.”
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US did not know who was responsible.
“I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt,” he said at a Washington Post event Wednesday.
A Pentagon spokesperson denied US involvement in the purported drone attack on the Kremlin and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson of lying.
"I would just tell you Mr. (Dmitry) Peskov's lying. I mean, it's obviously a ludicrous claim. The United States had nothing to do with this. We don't even know what happened here," said John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications. "But I can assure you the United States had no role in it whatsoever."
The White House still has no indication who was behind the drone attack and said the White House does not "endorse, we do not encourage, we do not support attacks on individual leaders," Kirby added.
Meanwhile, Russia unleashed its worst attacks on Kyiv in a year, Ukraine’s military said. It's the third time in four days missiles and drones hit the city.
The barrage came after Moscow accused Ukraine of attempting to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin in a drone strike at the Kremlin overnight on Wednesday, allegations Kyiv has vehemently denied.
“Our city has not experienced such a heavy intensity of attacks since the beginning of this year! Last night, the aggressor launched another large-scale air strike on the capital,” Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration, wrote on Telegram.
Here are the latest developments:
- Russia denies deploying explosives at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant: Russia has dismissed claims that it deployed military equipment and explosives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate accused Russia of placing weapons, explosives and military equipment in one of the power plant’s units.
- Zelensky reiterates Ukraine's calls to join NATO: Ukraine's message is that it will be a NATO member after the war has ended, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday. Zelensky said that while Ukraine has received "some positive messages" from countries who support it, "we need something more." The Ukrainian president added, "I think that our friends will support us and see us in NATO."
- Belgium prepares a new military aid package for Ukraine: Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said: “As we know, in these military aid packages, there are often practical obstacles. But I can tell you that there is not a single doubt in any of the Belgian hearts and minds that we need to continue to support Ukraine.” His statements were made during a news conference in The Hague alongside Zelensky and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
- US intelligence chief says Russia unlikely pull off a "significant offensive" this year: Russia will likely not be able to mount a “significant offensive operation this year” due to munitions and manpower shortages — whether or not the Ukrainian counteroffensive is successful, according to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
- US ambassador visits detained American Paul Whelan: US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy visited Paul Whelan on Thursday — her first visit to the detained American since taking up the post in Moscow earlier this year. "His release remains an absolute priority," the US Embassy in Moscow said on Twitter. Whelan is serving out his prison sentence at a prison camp in Mordovia, an eight-hour drive from Moscow.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) shot down Thursday night over Kyiv was a Kyiv asset that appeared to have malfunctioned, according to Ukraine's Air Force. It was taken out by Ukraine’s military in order to prevent any incident or accident, Ukraine's air force said on Facebook.
A Bayraktar TB2 UAV lost control during a scheduled flight in the Kyiv region at about 8 p.m. local time on Thursday night, the agency said in a statement.
Because the “uncontrolled presence” of a UAV in the sky above the capital “could lead to undesirable consequences, It was decided to use mobile fire teams” to destroy the UAV, the statement read.
The statement also says the incident was likely due to a technical malfunction, adding the cause of the incident was being investigated.
“There were no casualties or injures as a result of the combat operation and the fall of the UAV wreckage,” the Ukraine Air Force said.
The agency called the downing of the UAV a “pity,” adding “but this is technology, and such cases do happen.”
The tight ring of security that surrounds the seat of the Russian presidency was punctured in dramatic fashion by what appeared to be two attempted drone strikes in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Many details about the incident remain murky. Here’s what we know – and the questions that remain:
What happened? Moscow said the alleged attack took place in the early hours of Wednesday. Two “unmanned aerial vehicles” were intercepted and destroyed before they caused any damage or injury, the Kremlin said. The Russian president was not in the building at the time, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.
Videos then emerged on social media appearing to show the incident. CNN analysis of these videos supports Moscow’s claim that two drones were flown above the Kremlin.
Who's saying what? The Kremlin blamed Ukraine, describing the purported drone attack as an “attempt on the President’s life.” On Thursday, Russia also claimed the US was involved in the attack. Both allegations drew sharp denials from Kyiv and Washington.
Who else could be responsible? One possibility is that the incident was the work of Russian partisans – as claimed by former Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev who's linked with militant groups in Russia. Others speculate that the incident could have been a false flag operation to either rally the public or escalate Russia’s military mobilization. US officials have also said they were still assessing the incident, and had no information about who might have been responsible.
What happens next? Moscow already launched a wave of missiles at Kyiv following the incident, a move in line with its playbook after previous flashpoints in the war. And messages written on Russian drones launched at Odesa overnight read “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin,” according to the Ukrainian military, an apparent reference to the alleged attack.
US and Ukrainian officials have in the past warned that Russia has planned so-called “false flag” attacks along Russia’s border with Ukraine as a pretext for military escalation and Russia has also been embarrassed in recent months by symbolic incidents, such as the sinking of the guided-missile cruiser Moskva. Moscow is also looking to project strength by following through with its planned Victory Day parade. Peskov reiterated that the parade would go ahead as planned.
But while Russia has on occasion used missile bombardments around Ukraine to show its anger following flashpoints in the conflict, the ground fighting in eastern Ukraine has been bogged down in stalemate for months and it appears unlikely that Wednesday’s incident will have a material impact on momentum.
Russia has dismissed claims that it deployed military equipment and explosives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate accused Russia of placing weapons, explosives and military equipment in one of the power plant’s units. The Inspectorate said it received the information during its weekly meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency representatives a day earlier.
“In the event of an emergency situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP with a potentially possible release of radioactive substances into the environment, the consequences will be felt not only by Ukraine — but they will also have a cross-border nature,” the inspectorate said.
It called on the international community “for a consolidated and decisive response to the actions of the aggressor country.”
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-appointed military-civilian administration in occupied Zaporizhzhia, called the claims “a lie.”
“We do not use the nuclear power plant as a military facility — this has already been proven by everyone and confirmed more than once,” Rogov told Russian state news agency TASS.
Where things stand at the facility: Russian forces continue to control the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, but the plant is still physically operated by Ukrainian staff. The plant has frequently been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid due to intense shelling in the area, raising fears of a nuclear accident.
Technical personnel from the United Nations, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine will meet in Istanbul on May 5 to discuss the grain corridor, Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar said Thursday.
After the meeting of the delegations, deputy ministers will gather next week in Istanbul, Akar said. The grain corridor deal is set to end on May 18 and talks aim to extend it.
“The impression we have received from the meetings and speeches is that these works will result in a positive outcome. We work for it, we strive for it,” the official said.
A meeting of deputy ministers had originally been announced for May 5 but Akar said "the necessity of holding a meeting" with the technical personnel before the other meeting had emerged.