Hello. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has warned that the military situation in eastern Ukraine is worse than people say and the country now needs heavy weapons to fight Russia effectively.
Washington has had discussions with Kyiv about the danger of escalation if it strikes deep inside Russia.
It comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the West that supplying Ukraine with weapons capable of striking Russian territory would be “a serious step towards an unacceptable escalation”.
Here’s what happened overnight – and you can follow the latest updates on our live blog.
1. Russian soldiers were “just following orders”
Two Russian soldiers accused of war crimes in Ukraine have appeared in a second hearing in the northeastern town of Kotelva.
Russian servicemen Alexander Alexeevich Ivanov and Alexander Vladimirovich Bobykin are accused of bombing civilian infrastructure with a multiple rocket launcher. Both soldiers pleaded guilty during the hearing held in Kotelevsky District Court.
If found guilty, the military face up to 12 years in prison.
Their defense attorney asked for eight years, saying the two were just following orders from their officers.
When asked if they wanted to make statements at the end of the hearing, Bobykin said: “I confess what I have done, I regret the actions our troops have committed, I believe that in the future, war will end and the peace we all wait for will come.”
Ivanov did not comment.
The trial is adjourned to May 31.
2. Putin’s forces annihilating cities from the surface of the Earth
Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with the West to send multiple rocket launcher systems to Ukraine as soon as possible to give it a fighting chance against the Russian offensive in eastern Donbass.
“We are fighting for Ukraine to receive all the weapons necessary to change the nature of the fighting and start moving faster and more confidently towards the expulsion of the occupiers,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address to the nation.
He said Russian forces were clearing some eastern cities off the face of the Earth and the region could be left uninhabited.
“They want to burn Popasna, Bakhmut, Lyman, Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk to ashes like they did with Volnovakha and Mariupol,” Zelensky said.
Mr Zelensky said at least nine people were killed and 19 injured in Thursday’s shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Among those killed were a five-month-old baby and the child’s father, with the child’s mother seriously injured.
Mr Zelensky also had harsh words for members of the European Union who are resisting the imposition of even tougher sanctions on Russia, including a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas, the main source of income. from Moscow.
3. Intense fighting in Sievierodonetsk
The Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk is the center of heavy fighting in the east of the country. Its mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, said the city was holding its own even though a Russian reconnaissance and sabotage group entered a hotel in the city.
Mr Stryuk said at least 1,500 people had been killed in Sievierodonetsk and around 12,000 to 13,000 remained in the city, where 60% of residential buildings had been destroyed.
Sievierodonetsk is the only part of the Luhansk region in the Donbass under the control of the Ukrainian government, and Russian forces have attempted to cut it off from the rest of the territory under Ukrainian control.
Mr Stryuk said the main road between the nearby town of Lysychansk and Bakhmut to the southwest remained open, but travel was dangerous.
He said only 12 people were evacuated on Thursday.