UKRAINE WRAP | Biden welcomes Russia's release of American Trevor Reed

27 April 2022 - 07:10 By TimesLIVE
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People queue to register their requests for receiving social payments in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
People queue to register their requests for receiving social payments in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

April 27 2022 - 14:15

Biden welcomes Russia's release of American Trevor Reed

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday welcomed the release of American Trevor Reed from detention in Russia, where he has been held since 2019."Trevor, a former US Marine, is free from Russian detention," Biden said in a statement.


April 27 2022 - 14:04

Denmark sees energy sanctions as way to maximise pressure on Russia -foreign minister

Denmark wants to use energy sanctions as a tool to maximize pressure on Russia to end its war in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Wednesday.

"We will continue to push for the EU to adopt the toughest possible sanctions so that we can put maximum pressure on Putin's Russia and stifle the Russian war machine. This also applies to the field of energy," Kofod told Reuters in an email.


April 27 2022 - 12:56

Russian forces pummel Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol steel plant — mayoral aide

Russian forces were on Wednesday pounding a huge steel works in Mariupol where the southern Ukrainian city's last defenders and some civilians are holed up, a local official said.

Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the city mayor, said there had been no let-up in air strikes on the Azovstal plant despite Russian President Vladimir Putin saying there was no need to storm it after declaring victory in Mariupol.

“Air attacks on Azovstal are not subsiding. No ceasefire, but attempts to storm again and again. Despite the statements (by Putin),” Andryushchenko wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

April 27 2022 - 12:46

No deal reached for Ukrainian and Russian presidents to meet - Ukrainian negotiator

Ukraine's lead negotiator said on Wednesday no agreement had been reached for the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to discuss the war in Ukraine, despite efforts by Turkey to arrange such talks.

Mykhailo Podolyak said "the time of a meeting of the two countries' presidents and the context of the meeting have not yet been determined." He drew attention also to increased hostilities in east Ukraine and Russian attempts to "completely destroy" the southern city of Mariupol.


April 27 2022 - 11:56

German gas lobby group calls for gas stockpiling in face of Russian threat

German gas lobby group Zukunft Gas (Future Gas) said on Wednesday Germany must immediately start stockpiling more gas now that Russia is using the energy source as a political tool.

"We need to save gas now so that we have enough in winter," said the group's head Timm Kehler in a statement.


April 27 2022 - 11:35

Limping pope again appeals for peace in Ukraine

A badly limping Pope Francis again appealed for an end to the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, as he held his general audience a day after a fresh flare-up of knee pain forced him to abruptly cancel all activities.

Francis, 85, arrived in St. Peter's Square sitting in an open popemobile, which drove him to just behind a platform facing the crowd of several thousand.

He walked slowly and with a pronounced limp while holding the arm of an aide to his seat about 10 metres (yards) away.

"I apologise because I will greet you while seated. The healing of this knee seems to be never ending and I can't stand for long periods," he said at the end of the audience about an hour later, before people he would normally go to greet came to him instead.

During Easter, he several times attended but did not preside at Masses in St. Peter's Basilica. In each case, he delegated an archbishop or cardinal to say the Mass while he sat through the service and also read his homily while seated.

Apart from the knee problem, Francis also suffers from sciatica, which causes pain in the legs.

Addressing one group during the audience, he asked for prayers for an end to the war in Ukraine, which he has often condemned since Russia launched its invasion.

"May the weapons fall silent, so that those who have the power to stop the war hear the cry for peace coming from all of humanity," he said. 


April 27 2022 - 11:10

Russia's GDP decline could hit 12.4% this year, economy ministry document shows

Russia expects the economy to contract by 8.8% in 2022 in its base case scenario, or by 12.4% under a more conservative scenario, an economy ministry document showed on Wednesday, further evidence that sanctions pressure is taking its toll.

The conservative forecast is in line with that of former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, who said earlier this month the economy was on track to contract by more than 10% this year in its biggest decline in gross domestic product since 1994.


April 27 2022 - 08:55

Bulgaria says Russia halting gas supplies would be breach of contract

Bulgaria has paid for Russian gas deliveries for April and halting gas supplies would be a breach of its current contract with Gazprom, energy minister Alexander Nikolov told reporters on Wednesday.

He said Bulgaria would observe the European Commission's stance urging countries not to pay in roubles for Russian gas as demanded by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Because all trade and legal obligations are being observed, it is clear that at the moment the natural gas is being used more as a political and economic weapon in the current war," Nikolov said.


April 27 2022 - 07:52

Britain says Ukraine controls majority of its airspace

Ukraine retains control over the majority of its airspace, Britain's defence ministry said on Wednesday, adding that Russia has failed to effectively destroy the country's air force or suppress its air defences.

"Russia has very limited air access to the north and west of Ukraine, limiting offensive actions to deep strikes with stand-off weapons," it said on Twitter."

Russian air activity is primarily focused on southern and eastern Ukraine, providing support to Russian ground forces," the ministry added in a regular bulletin.

Russia continues to target Ukrainian military assets and logistics infrastructure nationwide, British military intelligence said in the update.

It flagged a higher risk of civilian casualties, saying most Russian air strikes in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol were probably using unguided free-falling bombs.

"These weapons reduce Russia’s ability to effectively discriminate when conducting strikes, increasing the risk of civilian casualties.

"Reuters could not immediately verify the report.


April 27 2022 - 07:45

France's Schneider Electric to sell Russian assets to local management

French blue chip Schneider Electric will sell its operations in Russia and Belarus to the local management, the electrical equipment maker said on Wednesday.

As a result, the company said it would write off of up to 300 million euros ($319.20 million) of net book value and make a non-cash reversal of the currency translation estimated at 120 million euros.

"We continue to comply with applicable sanctions and are progressing with a plan to transfer our Russia operations to our local leadership," the company's chairman and chief executive Jean-Pascal Tricoire said in a statement.

The group employed 3,500 people in Russia and Belarus, while revenues generated by the Schneider Electric Russia operations accounted for 2% of sales, it said.

Separately, Russia's Interfax news agency late on Tuesday reported that French carmaker Renault would transfer its 68% stake in Russia's biggest national carmaker Avtovaz to a Russian science institute.


 April 27 2022 - 07:30

Clearing off the streets of Mariupol

As plumes of smoke rose above the Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian fighters are holed up in the port city of Mariupol, workers began clearing rubble away from buildings damaged during fighting as the rest of the city remained quiet.

April 27 2022 - 07:27

Russian gas continues to flow to Bulgaria - Bulgartransgaz

Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria continue to flow for the time being, Vladimir Malinov, executive director of Bulgarian gas network operator Bulgartransgaz, told Reuters on Wednesday.

Bulgaria's energy ministry said Russia's Gazprom has informed Bulgarian state gas company Bulgargaz it will halt gas supplies as of Wednesday.

The ministry will give a news briefing on the situation later on Wednesday morning.


April 27 2022 - 07:00

Farmers in body armor work Ukraine's frontline fields

Ukrainian farmers in a southern region bordering the frontline of the military conflict with Russia are now wearing body armor to plough their fields.

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