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Missiles hit Odesa as Zelenskyy warns of threat to global food supply

Seven missiles were fired in the attack, which hit a shopping center and a warehouse in the key port, killing at least 1 person and injuring 5 other people, Ukrainian officials said.

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Russia fired a barrage of missiles at Odesa, the crucial Black Sea city, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that the blockade of the port and others like it was threatening the world's food supply.

Seven missiles were fired in Monday's attack, which hit a shopping center and a warehouse, killing at least one person and injuring five others, Ukrainian officials said. Meanwhile in Izyum, a strategic eastern city under Russian forces' control, the local governor said early Tuesday that 44 bodies were discovered beneath the rubble of a residential building destroyed earlier in the war.

After more than two months of conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered no sign this week of whether he intends to escalate the war, with his troops struggling to make progress in their eastern offensive and analysts warning that they lacked the resources for a protracted fight.

Kyiv's fierce resistance has helped win growing support from its Western allies. On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an almost $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, sending the emergency funding legislation over to the Senate.

Read full coverage of the war here.

Ukraine strikes resupply ships with drones, U.K. says

Ukraine’s military has successfully attacked Russian resupply vessels with drones, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said Wednesday.

Ukraine launched successful attacks against air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones, the defense ministry said in a daily intelligence update.

“Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Moskva sank in April after it was struck by Ukrainian Neptune missiles, Ukrainian and U.S. officials have said. The ship was the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Meanwhile, fighting continues on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, the U.K. said. If Russia consolidates its position in the island, “they could dominate the north-western Black Sea,” the ministry said. The island is off of Ukraine’s southwestern coast, south of Odesa.

Ukraine says it will halt close to a third of Russian gas to Europe citing safety

The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s gas transmission operator says it will shut off almost a third of Russian gas that passes through the country on its way to Europe over Moscow’s war on the country.

The Ukrainian GTS made the announcement Tuesday in a statement posted on its website. It said the war made it impossible to reach areas of its system to ensure its safety, particularly in Russian-held areas of the Luhansk region.

The company said the decision would halt 32.6 million cubic meters of gas a day. It described the situation as “force majeure,” a legal term used for so-called acts of God that prevent contracts from being carried out.

It said the shutoff would begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday and that it would offer Russia the chance to try to reroute gas through another crossing held by the Ukrainian government.

The operator said: “The company repeatedly informed Gazprom about gas transit threats due to the actions of the Russian-controlled occupation forces and stressed stopping interference in the operation of the facilities, but these appeals were ignored.”

Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled natural gas giant, said Ukraine’s request to route shipments through another hub would be “technologically impossible” and that the company sees no grounds for the decision.

Ukrainian foreign minister to join G-7 diplomats at meeting, German foreign minister says

The Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, has accepted an invitation to join top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations later this week.

Baerbock spoke during a visit Tuesday to Kyiv, where she met Kuleba and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The G-7 foreign ministers will meet at Schloss Weissenhaus, a luxury resort on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, from Thursday through Saturday. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is expected to be a major topic at the meeting.

House passes $40 billion Ukraine aid funding bill

In a bipartisan vote Tuesday night, the U.S. House approved an almost $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.

The vote was 368-57, with Republicans comprising all of the no votes. It now goes to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted earlier Tuesday that the Senate “will move swiftly to pass emergency funding” and send it to the president’s desk.

President Joe Biden called on Congress to approve additional funding for Ukraine and warned that without it, shipments of weapons and other aid would soon need to be halted.

As many as 10 Russian generals killed in Ukraine, U.S. official says

As many as 10 Russian generals have been killed in Ukraine since Russia attacked more than two months ago, a top U.S. military intelligence official said Tuesday.

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Russia lacks a noncommissioned officer corps, which suggests that generals have to go farther forward.

Berrier also told the panel that the fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine is at somewhat of a stalemate, with neither side winning.

“I think it’s attrition warfare, and it depends how well the Ukrainians can maintain what they have going on with weapons and ammunition and how the Russians decide to deal with that, either through mobilization or not,” he said.

Ukrainian forces pushing Russians away from Kharkiv, Zelenskyy says

Russian troops are “are gradually being pushed away” from the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address Tuesday.

“The armed forces of Ukraine are doing everything to liberate our land and our people,” Zelenskyy said, more than two months after Russia attacked and invaded his country in what Western countries have condemned as an unprovoked assault.

Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said on MSNBC that Ukrainian forces have had success and have been pushing Russian forces east, away from Kharkiv.

But Kirby said Russia, which is focusing an offensive on the eastern Donbas region, has a numerical superiority.

“They have a lot of combat power still available to them,” he said. “And now they’re concentrating all that power in a much smaller area of Ukraine.”

Maryland to send health care supplies, body armor to Ukraine

The Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the shipment of a multimillion-dollar aid package to Odesa, Ukraine, on Tuesday, including medical supplies and body armor.

The Maryland Health Department is donating more than 485,000 bandages and wound care supplies, 95 Eternity mechanical ventilators for intensive care units and 50 Astral portable ventilators, the governor’s office said.

The package also includes nearly 200 pieces of body armor, including tactical vests and shields, which have been donated by the Maryland State Police.

Odesa is a sister city of Baltimore. Russian troops pounded the vital Ukrainian port Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said, apparently to disrupt the supply lines and Western weapons shipments critical to Kyiv’s defense.

Hogan was joined for the announcement at a warehouse in Hanover by Yaroslav Brisiuck, the deputy chief of mission for the Ukrainian Embassy.

Additional medical supplies have been donated to the Paul Chester Children’s Hope Foundation, a Dickerson-based grassroots medical organization, to support the treatment of children and adults wounded during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

McConnell says he asked Biden to decouple Ukraine aid from Covid relief

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday that he asked President Joe Biden last week to separate aid packages for Ukraine and Covid relief as the combination bill stalled because of a fight over immigration rules.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks on Capitol Hill on April 26, 2022.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks on Capitol Hill on April 26.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

“I had a chance to call the president last week and request that the Ukraine package move by itself and quickly,” McConnell said at a news conference. “I think we’re on the path to getting that done.”

Read the full story here.

Leonid Kravchuk, first president of independent Ukraine, dies at 88

Leonid Kravchuk, independent Ukraine's first president, has died at 88, a spokesman for the Ukrainian president confirmed on Telegram.

"Sad news and a great loss. I knew him personally, which I am very proud of," spokesman Andriy Yerma said. "Leonid was a wise patriot of Ukraine, a truly historical figure in gaining our Independence."

Kravchuk served as the first president of independent Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union from 1991 to 1994. Yerma did not cite his cause of death.

Russian hit with red paint should have followed advice, Poland's prime minister says

The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minister said Tuesday that Russia’s ambassador to Poland could have avoided being doused in red paint at a Soviet military ceremony had he followed the Foreign Ministry’s advice to steer clear of the event.

The Russian ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, is covered with red paint in Warsaw on Monday. Maciek Luczniewski / AP

Ambassador Sergey Andreev was splattered Monday with red paint thrown at him by protesters opposed to the war in Ukraine at a Warsaw cemetery holding the remains of Red Army soldiers who died during World War II. He had hoped to pay his respects on the Russian Victory Day patriotic holiday marking the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Hypersonics not used in Odesa, senior defense official says

U.S. defense officials believe recent Russian missile strikes on Odesa, a port city on Ukraine's southwestern Black Sea coast, “could be an effort to draw Ukrainian attention” to the area, a senior defense official said.

"We've seen [Russia] use hypersonics in the past, hitting buildings, but we don't have anything to indicate they were used in Odesa," the official said, referring to missiles that travel from five to 25 times the speed of sound.

Acknowledging an increase in the tempo of strikes on the city, the official said, “It’s not clear what they are hitting.”

'Putin's war' hitting Americans in the pocketbook, Biden says

President Joe Biden on Tuesday blamed Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a major factor in the rising of consumer costs in the U.S.

“Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine" over the past 2½ months has caused world shortages of wheat, corn and fuel, which has directly affected U.S. pocketbooks, Biden said.

Biden touted White House efforts to develop energy alternatives, "so in the future, American families are no longer subject to the whims of dictators halfway around the world."

U.S. joins European allies to condemn Russian cyberattacks

Secretary of State Antony Blinken blamed Russian military cyber operators Tuesday for deploying destructive malware to disrupt networks operated by the Ukrainian government and the private sector.

The late February cyberattacks also spilled over outside Ukraine, affecting tens of thousands of broadband customers across Europe, as well as networks that support thousands of European wind turbines, officials said.

The U.S. is "joining with allies and partners to condemn Russia's destructive cyber activities against Ukraine," Blinken said, adding that such actions are "all part of the Russian playbook."

The European Union on Tuesday similarly accused Russia of masterminding a cyberattack that crippled European networks of the internet satellite company Viasat.

Russian officials did not immediately respond to the accusations.

Civilian casualties surpass 7,000, but actual figure is higher, U.N. says

The number of civilians killed or injured in Ukraine has totaled at least 7,061 since Russia's invasion began in late February, a U.N. official said at a news briefing Tuesday.

At least 3,381 civilians are known to have died, but the "actual figures are higher, and we are working to corroborate every single incident," said Matilda Bogner, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

She added that monitors have documented other alleged crimes perpetrated against civilians, including rape, forced nudity and threats of sexual violence, with women and girls most frequently targeted. 

She said that many of the deaths and allegations may constitute war crimes and that "such killings may also violate the right to life under international human rights law."

Civilians may still be sheltering at Mariupol steel plant, mayor says

Mariia Ulianovska

Rachel Elbaum and Mariia Ulianovska

Civilians may still be hiding in bomb shelters at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where the city’s last defenders are battling Russian forces, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said at a news briefing.

“In order to be able to say 100 percent whether the evacuation of civilians has ended, a steady cease-fire regime is required,” Boichenko said. “The Russians do not give such an opportunity. We assume that civilians awaiting evacuation may be there.”

Scores of civilians have been evacuated from the site to safer areas of Ukraine in recent days. Russian forces have pummeled the steel plant with artillery and bombs over the last weeks, hoping to defeat Mariupol’s final pocket of resistance.

Around 100,000 civilians are still present in the southern port city and awaiting evacuation, the mayor said.

Russia is exporting Ukrainian grain abroad, defense ministry says

Mariia Ulianovska

Rachel Elbaum and Mariia Ulianovska

Russian forces in Ukraine are exporting grain and other agricultural products to Crimea, Russia and elsewhere abroad, Ukraine’s ministry of defense said Tuesday.

“A significant part of the grain stolen from Ukraine is on dry cargo ships under the Russian flag in the Mediterranean,” the defense intelligence post said on Telegram. “The most likely destination is Syria. From there, grain can be smuggled to other countries in the Middle East.”

Vegetables such as beets, potatoes and cabbage have also been sent to Crimea in “large volumes,” the defense ministry said.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat and the world’s biggest exporter of sunflower oil. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Monday that the blockade of Odesa and others like it was threatening the world’s food supply.

Farewells in Lviv

Max Butterworth

Image: Lviv Remains Haven And Staging Ground As Russia Focuses Assault On Eastern Ukraine
Olexandr Shpak reaches up to his fiancee, Valeria Karpova, as she prepares to depart in a coach for Poland from a major transport hub in Lviv, Ukraine, on Tuesday.Leon Neal / Getty Images

Russian forces renew attacks on Ukrainian port city of Odesa

U.N. chief offers Moldova 'full support' amid fears of Russian threat

Associated Press

The United Nations secretary-general has met with Moldova’s president as Russia’s war on neighboring Ukraine has seen tensions rise in a breakaway region of Moldova.

A statement issued after the meeting said U.N. chief António Guterres offered President Maia Sandu “his support for the full respect for Moldova’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mysterious explosions have struck Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region, raising concerns about the war in Ukraine spreading into a western front as Russia targets the Ukrainian city of Odesa with missiles.

Transnistria hosts some 1,500 Russian troops and other forces. Pro-Russian forces broke off the border section from Moldova in 1992, and Russian troops have been stationed there since, ostensibly as peacekeepers.

Russian forces pummel Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainian fighters say

Mariia Ulianovska

Rachel Elbaum and Mariia Ulianovska

Russian forces bombarded the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Tuesday, according to the Azov Battalion, whose fighters have formed the last pocket of resistance in the city and held out for weeks under intense attacks.

In the last day, the plant has come under fire from bombers, naval artillery and tanks, the group said in a post on Telegram.

“The enemy does not stop trying to capture the Ukrainian fortress and continues to carry out daily assaults with the support of infantry,” said the battalion, an experienced volunteer force with neo-Nazi roots that has been defending the steel plant.

The plant has come under heavy attacks from Russian forces as they try to capture the last corner of the crucial southern port city still under Ukrainian control.

German foreign minister visits Bucha, voices support for war crimes probe

Andy Eckardt

Rachel Elbaum and Andy Eckardt

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited Kyiv on Tuesday, her first trip to Ukraine since the war with Russia began. Baerbock's first stop was in the city of Bucha, just outside the capital, where hundreds of civilians are estimated to have been killed by Russian forces.

While there, she voiced her support for war crimes investigations.

"We can make a small contribution by supporting this investigation of war crimes, crimes against humanity, collecting evidence as an international community, ensuring that the perpetrators are held accountable," Baerbock said at a church in Bucha. "We owe that to the victims.”

Baerbock is the latest in a string of foreign dignitaries to visit Ukraine in recent days, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Council President Charles Michel

NATO membership would strengthen Nordic defense, Swedish defense minister says


The Nordic region’s defense capabilities would be strengthened if Sweden and Finland joined NATO, allowing joint defense planning within the framework of the alliance, Sweden’s defense minister told Swedish radio on Tuesday.

“(If Sweden and Finland join NATO) there will be the effect that we use each other's strengths and advantages and fully complement each other and also carry out operational planning,” Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist of the ruling Social Democrats said. “If so, the effect will be that we become stronger together. This is something that can happen if we choose to join NATO,” he told the public broadcaster.

The Social Democrats will decide May 15 whether to drop decades of opposition by the party to NATO membership, a move that would almost certainly lead to Sweden asking to join the 30-nation alliance.

Putin unable to claim military success because Russia misjudged Ukrainian resistance, U.K. says

Alyssa Chen

Russian President Vladimir Putin was unable to announce any significant military success at Monday’s Victory Day parade because the Kremlin miscalculated Ukrainian resistance and was guilty of ‘best case scenario’ planning, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said Tuesday.

In its intelligence update, the ministry said that it is highly likely that Russia’s invasion plan was based on an underestimation of Ukrainian resistance so that it could encircle and bypass population centers rapidly, achieving rapid success without deadly cost.

“This assumption led Russian forces to attempt to carry out the opening phase of the operation with a light, precise approach intended to achieve a rapid victory with minimal cost.”

Due to this miscalculation, Russia suffers from unsustainable losses that forced it to scale back and refocus its operational activities, according to the defense ministry.

Macron and Scholz visit Brandenburg Gate

Max Butterworth

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron wave as they visit the Brandenburg Gate illuminated in the colors of the Ukrainian flag in Berlin on Monday.John MacDougall / AFP via Getty Images

Body armor and blocked ports: Ukraine’s farmers carry on in the midst of war


Mo Abbas

Matt Bradley

Yelyzaveta Kovtun

Mo Abbas, Matt Bradley and Yelyzaveta Kovtun

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — The price of sunflower oil is soaring round the world, but Roman Tarasevich is stuck with a mountain of sunflower seeds he just can’t move.

Ukraine is the world’s biggest exporter of sunflower oil, but the Russian invasion has made farming, producing and shipping all but impossible, sending global prices higher and shoppers from London to New Delhi scrambling for limited bottles of the gold-colored liquid commonly used for cooking.

Mo Abbas / NBC News

“We’re definitely going to take a financial hit, but right now I just don’t want to think about it and we’re carrying on working,” Tarasevich, 46, said, standing by the heap of unsold sunflower seeds at a farm warehouse in Zaporizhzhia in eastern Ukraine.

He appeared pained as he described how he had held onto last year’s harvest to negotiate a higher price, but like many Ukrainians was taken by surprise by Russia’s invasion. Ports have since been blocked, fuel is scarce and insurance premiums are sky high.

Read the full story here.

44 bodies discovered under rubble in Izyum from strike in March

Anastasiia Parafeniuk

Rachel Elbaum and Anastasiia Parafeniuk

The bodies of 44 civilians were found under the rubble of a five-story building in Izyum, around 75 miles southeast of Kharkiv, the governor of the region said Tuesday.

The building was destroyed in March, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said in the Telegram post.

The city came under siege from Russian forces early on in the conflict, with officials warning in mid-March that residents were dying from a lack of food, medicine and other critical supplies. It has since been occupied by Russian forces and used as a key staging point for their offensive operations.

Missiles struck Odesa shopping mall, Ukraine’s military says

Line of trucks stretches for miles at Ukraine border

Odesa cleans up after Russia fires seven missiles at Black Sea port city

Mariia Ulianovska

Rachel Elbaum and Mariia Ulianovska

Russian forces fired seven missiles at the Black Sea port city of Odesa early Tuesday, striking a shopping center and warehouse, according to Ukraine’s military.

At least one person was killed and five injured, according to the country's State Emergency Services. Photos posted on the city's Telegram account showed charred buildings, largely reduced to steel and concrete structures, and rubble strewn across a parking lot. City workers provided assistance to victims and cleared debris throughout the night, the Odesa City Council said in a post on Telegram.

A rescue worker guards the scene of a missile attack at a shopping and entertainment center in the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odessa on Tuesday.Oleksandr Gimanov / AFP via Getty Images

“The enemy’s missile reserves are obviously low, as the rare Soviet style missiles were launched which are showing their age,” Ukraine's Operational Southern Command said in a Facebook post. 

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says ports are at standstill because of Russian blockade

Nearly 6,000 Ukrainians approved to enter the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security has approved nearly 6,000 Ukrainians to enter the U.S. through an online application system that lets them gain legal authorization to fly to U.S. airports and then stay with Americans who have agreed to sponsor them, the agency said Monday. 

The online portal, known as Uniting for Ukraine, launched April 25 as part of President Joe Biden’s stated goal to bring 100,000 people fleeing Russia’s deadly invasion to the U.S.

The launch of the website meant the closing of a popular but dangerous and illegal route many Ukrainians had taken via the U.S.-Mexico border, where, after having entered Mexico on tourist visas, they were transported from camps in Tijuana into California. After April 25, U.S. Border Patrol officers began turning back Ukrainians trying to cross the southern border. 

Read the full story here.

Ukraine’s ambassador to U.S. to meet with Republican legislators

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States is expected to meet with Republican legislators as Congress weighs an aid package to the embattled nation was not certain.

Oksana Makarova was scheduled to attend lunch with Senate Republicans Tuesday afternoon, two sources with knowledge of the event told NBC News.

As her nation continued to fend off Russia’s invasion, congressional Democrats are proposing a $40 billion aid package to boost Ukraine military and humanitarian resources. It would best the $33 billion package proposed by the administration of President Joe Biden.

The House is scheduled to take up the legislation Tuesday afternoon.

Biden urges Congress to ‘immediately’ pass Ukraine aid, putting Covid funds on back burner

President Joe Biden is urging Congress to quickly pass Ukraine aid in a move that would prioritize assistance for Kyiv over new Covid relief funding for the U.S.

“I call on Congress to pass the Ukrainian Supplemental funding bill immediately, and get it to my desk in the next few days,” Biden said in a statement Monday.

Biden and Democratic leaders had hoped to move a coronavirus aid package alongside the Ukraine aid, using the Ukrainian assistance as leverage to secure additional Covid funding, but Republicans balked, saying they would not approve new money to fight the pandemic without a vote on the president’s decision to end a Trump-era border policy known as Title 42.

That left Biden and Democratic leaders little choice but to separate the two packages.

Read the full story here.