SVE NEWS & FRANCE24.COM Sharing Series — UK becomes first country to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles


A Storm Shadow long-range missile on display at the Farnborough Airshow in Britain on July 17, 2018. © Ben Stansall, AFP

Britain on Thursday became the first country to begin supplying Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles, which will allow Kyiv’s forces to hit Russian troops and supply dumps deep behind the front lines. The development comes as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country’s military needed more time to prepare an anticipated counteroffensive aimed at opening a new chapter in the war. Read our live blog to see how all the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

This live page is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

01:30am: Russia denies reports of Ukrainian breakthroughs along front lines

Russia’s defence ministry on Thursday denied reports that Ukrainian forces had broken through in various places along the front lines and said the military situation was under control.

Moscow reacted after Russian military bloggers, writing on the Telegram messaging app, reported what they said were Ukrainian advances north and south of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, with some suggesting a long-awaited counteroffensive by pro-Kyiv forces had started.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had earlier said the offensive had yet to start.

“Statements circulated by individual Telegram channels about ‘defence breakthroughs’ that took place in different areas along the line of military contact do not correspond to reality,” the Russian defence ministry said in a Telegram post.

“The overall situation in the area of the special military operation is under control,” it said in a statement, using the Kremlin’s description of the war in Ukraine.

The fact the Russian ministry felt obliged to release the statement reflects what Moscow acknowledges is a “very difficult” military operation.

9:55pm: Pope-Zelensky meeting ‘a possibility’, Vatican official says

Pope Francis could meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Vatican this weekend, a Vatican official has told the Associated Press.

Francis has repeatedly called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine and expressed solidarity with the “martyred” Ukrainian people. Recently he revealed a secret peace “mission” was underway but provided no details.

Word of the possible meeting Saturday in Rome followed news, confirmed last week by Berlin police, that Zelensky was expected in Germany starting Saturday evening.

Italian media, citing unnamed sources, reported Thursday that Zelensky might be in Rome earlier that day to meet with Premier Giorgia Meloni and the pope.

A Vatican official said a pope-Zelensky audience Saturday “is a possibility”. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the visit was not confirmed.

7:08pm: South Africa hits back over ‘disappointing’ US charge of supplying arms to Russia

South Africa slammed remarks Thursday by the US ambassador in Pretoria, who accused the country of having covertly provided arms to Russia despite its professed neutrality in the Ukraine war.

“The Ambassador’s remarks undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership” between the two countries, President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s spokesman Vincent Magwenya said in a statement, adding it was “disappointing” that the envoy had “adopted a counter-productive public posture.”

6:15pm: AFP holds minute of silence for journalist killed in Ukraine

Journalists and staff of Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Paris and across the world have held a minute of silence to remember their colleague Arman Soldin who was killed earlier this week in Ukraine.

Soldin, AFP’s video coordinator in Ukraine, was killed on Tuesday when an AFP team came under fire by Grad rockets while they were with a group of Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut, the epicentre of the fighting for months.

“Arman represented the very best of AFP,” the agency’s global news director Phil Chetwynd told staff ahead of the minute of silence at midday GMT.

Hundreds of AFP staff observed the minute of silence at Paris headquarters and from bureaux around the world via video conference.

4:24pm: Ramaphosa says looking into reports S. Africa provided arms to Russia

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that his government was looking into news reports that South Africa provided weapons to Russia, when asked about the matter by an opposition leader in parliament.

US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety told South African media at a briefing on Thursday that Washington believed a Russian vessel had uploaded weapons and ammunition from South Africa in December.

“The matter is being looked into and in time we will be able to speak about it,” Ramaphosa told lawmakers.

Brigety said US officials had concerns about South Africa’s professed neutrality regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine. “Amongst the things we noted were the docking of the Russian cargo ship Lady R in Simon’s Town between December 6 and December 8, 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons, ammunitions … as it made its way back to Russia,” Brigety said in the briefing, according to a recording reviewed by Reuters.

The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

4:21pm: Ukraine says it has received $16.7 billion in foreign aid so far this year

Ukraine has received $16.7 bln in financial aid from its Western partners so far this year, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said on Thursday.

“In 2023, Ukraine has already received $16.7 billion in budget aid from foreign donors. We also have assurances from partners regarding further support in financing the state budget deficit in 2023,” said Marchenko, whose country was invaded by Russian forces in February 2022

4:15pm: Ukraine grain deal parties agree to engage on UN proposals, says UN

Officials from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations on Thursday discussed recent UN proposals on a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, which Moscow has threatened to quit on May 18 over obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports.

“The meeting discussed the recent proposals by the United Nations, namely the resumption of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline, the longer extension of the deal, improvements at the Joint Coordination Centre for stable operations and exports, as well as other issues raised by the parties,” the UN said.

“The parties presented their views and agreed to engage with those elements going forward,” the UN said in a statement.

4:06pm: Russia’s Prigozhin blames situation on flanks near Bakhmut on Russian army

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Thursday that the situation on the flanks near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was unfolding in line with the “worst of all expected scenarios”.

In an audio message, Prigozhin complained that territory captured over the course of many months was being “thrown away” by those who should be guarding the flanks – something he has said is the responsibility of regular Russian troops.

4:02pm: Ukraine wants Black Sea grain deal extended and expanded

The Black Sea grain export initiative should be extended for a longer period and expanded, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Thursday after talks finished in Turkey.

“Negotiations in Istanbul on the functioning of the Grain Initiative have been completed,” Kubrakov said on Facebook, without giving details of the outcome. “The Ukrainian delegation once again stressed that the Grain Initiative should be extended for a longer period and expanded. This will give predictability and confidence to both the global and Ukrainian markets.”

3:59pm: US, Chinese officials discussed Ukraine war, White House says

The Biden administration’s top security adviser met with China‘s top diplomat this week and discussed Russia’s war on Ukraine, cross-Strait and other issues, the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese top diplomat Wang Yi met in Vienna on Wednesday and Thursday, and agreed to keep lines of communication open, the White House said.

3:44pm: US ambassador accuses South Africa of supplying arms to Russia

The US envoy to South Africa on Thursday accused the country of having provided military support to Russia despite its professed neutrality in the Ukraine war, local media said.

Ambassador Reuben Brigety reportedly said the US was “confident” weapons and ammunition had been loaded onto a Russian freighter in Cape Town in December, adding: ‘The arming of the Russians is extremely serious,  and we do not consider this issue to be resolved.”

3:15pm: Ukraine counteroffensive ‘unlikely to be a conventional attack’

Ukraine needs more time to launch its much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with several European broadcasters earlier this morning.

His comments come as Ukrainian generals have claimed some of their biggest battlefield successes in months, prompting speculation that Kyiv’s counteroffensive may already have begun.

FRANCE 24’s Kyiv correspondent Emmanuelle Chaze has the details.


2:01pm: Germany urges caution in targeting China under new Russia sanctions

Germany led calls urging caution against targeting China under new European Union sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, during a first discussion among the bloc’s 27 countries on proposed new restrictions, five diplomatic sources said.

Italy backed Germany’s proposal to target foreign companies, rather than countries, over any circumvention of existing sanctions, according to the sources familiar with the Wednesday discussion, behind closed doors. The diplomats spoke under condition of anonymity.

1:55pm: UK confirms sending Ukraine long-range cruise missiles

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed Thursday that the UK is sending Ukraine long-range cruise missiles to help push back Russian forces.

Wallace told lawmakers in the House of Commons that Britain is donating Storm Shadow missiles. He didn’t say how many are being sent.

Wallace said the missiles “are now going into or are in the country itself.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged in February that Britain would be the first country to give Ukraine the longer-range weapons that it has sought from Western allies.

The missiles give Ukraine capacity to strike well behind the front lines, including in Russia-occupied Crimea. UK media reported that Ukraine has pledged not to use the missiles to attack Russia itself.

Wallace said the missiles would be used to push back Russian forces in “Ukrainian sovereign territory.” He said UK support for Ukraine is “responsible, calibrated, coordinated and agile.”

1:46pm: Norway takes over Arctic Council leadership from Russia

Norway on Thursday took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Russia despite a freeze in cooperation between the Western Arctic states and Moscow on the regional polar body due to the invasion of Ukraine.

12:10pm: G7 finance ministers to vow support for Ukraine, seek ways to spur global economy as debt risks loom

Financial leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies are discussing ways to support Ukraine and pressure Russia to end the war as they meet in Japan starting Thursday.

Ukraine’s finance minister, Serhiy Marchenko, was participating online in the first session of the G7 talks in Niigata, a port city on the Japan Sea coast.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the G7 nations “will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes” to end the conflict. The leaders will be mulling ways to prevent Russia and other countries from circumventing sanctions against Moscow for its invasion, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki told reporters.

“We have taken a wave of actions in the past few months to crack down on evasion. And my team has traveled around the world to intensify this work,” Yellen said.

The war and its toll on the global economy, debt crises in developing countries and a stalemate in Washington over the national debt are topping the agenda of the three days of talks by finance ministers and central bank governors of G-7 countries and others invited to attend.

11:05am: Russia’s defence ministry says its forces still advancing in Bakhmut

Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday that its forces had continued to advance in the western part of Bakhmut and that paratroops were providing support around the Ukrainian city’s flanks, Russian news agencies reported.

The head of the Wagner private army, Yevgeny Prigozhin, earlier said one unit of Russia’s army had abandoned its supporting position and that Ukrainian forces had made gains towards the city as part of a long-awaited counteroffensive by Kyiv.

10:02am: Kremlin no discussions on compensation for Finland’s Fortum

There have been no discussions about compensation for Finnish energy group Fortum and there is no decision about a possible nationalisation of its assets, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

Fortum last week formally notified the Kremlin that it strongly objected to what it said was Russia’s “unlawful” seizure of its subsidiary in the country.

10:00am: Kremlin says US move to confiscate Russian businessman’s funds will backfire

The Kremlin on Thursday criticised a move by the United States to confiscate the assets of conservative Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev and give them to Ukraine, saying it would “boomerang” back on Washington.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday authorised Malofeyev’s confiscated assets to be transferred for use in Ukraine in the first such instance of confiscated Russian money being used in such a way.

9:58am: Russia’s Wagner founder Prigozhin says Ukrainian offensive has started around Bakhmut flanks

The founder of Russia’s Wagner Group mercenary force Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Thursday that Ukrainian units had begun their counterattack, and were approaching Bakhmut from the flanks.

In a comment his press service published on Telegram in response to a Russian media request about Ukraine’s anticipated counteroffensive, Prigozhin said that Ukrainian operations were “unfortunately, partially successful”.

9:26am: Britain has supplied Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles

Britain has supplied Ukraine with multiple ‘Storm Shadow’ long-range cruise missiles, CNN reported on Thursday citing multiple senior Western officials. The Ministry of Defence declined to comment.

When asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said would require “an adequate response from our military”.

9:24am: Ukrainian president Zelensky says the counteroffensive needs more time, launching now would cost too many lives

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country’s military needs more time to prepare an anticipated counteroffensive aimed at pushing back Russian occupying forces and opening a new chapter in the war more than 14 months after the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion.

Zelensky said in an interview broadcast Thursday by the BBC that it would be “unacceptable” to launch the assault now because too many lives would be lost.

“With (what we have) we can go forward and be successful,” Zelensky said in the interview, according to the BBC.

“But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable,” he was quoted as saying. The interview was reportedly carried out in Kyiv with public service broadcasters who are members of Eurovision News, including the BBC.

7:28am: Ukrainian drone attacks oil storage depot in Russian border region, says governor

A Ukrainian drone attacked an oil storage depot in the Russian border region of Bryansk, the local governor said in a post on his Telegram channel on Thursday.

There were no casualties after the attack on the facility near the town of Klintsy, owned by Russia’s Rosneft oil company, though one storage tank was partially damaged, Governor Alexander Bogomaz said.

10:22pm: Russia’s operation in Ukraine is very difficult, Kremlin spokesman tells Tass

Russia’s military operation against Ukraine is “very difficult” but certain goals have been achieved, Tass news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Wednesday.

Russia has succeeded in severely damaging Ukraine’s military machine and this work will continue, he added.

  • Key developments from Wednesday, May 10:

France launched a war crime probe into an AFP journalist’s death in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Russian forces are planning to evacuate more than 3,000 workers from the town that serves the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, resulting in a “catastrophic lack” of personnel, Ukraine’s state-owned Energoatom company said on Wednesday.

A Ukrainian military unit said on Wednesday it had routed a Russian infantry brigade from territory near Bakhmut, claiming to confirm an account by the head of Russia’s Wagner private army that the Russian forces had fled.

Read yesterday’s live blog to see how the day’s events unfolded


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