Russia-Ukraine war live: Russia’s casualty rate falling as it prepares for Ukrainian offensive, says UK | Ukraine

Russia’s casualty rate falls as preparation for Ukraine offensive begins – UK

The number of daily casualties Russia is suffering has fallen by about 30% in April, UK intelligence has said.

In its daily intelligence briefing, the Ministry of Defence reported that the drop was likely due to the end of Russia’s winter offensive, which, it added, had largely failed.

The MoD also said Russia was now likely preparing its troops for Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

It said:

Over April 2023, Russia’s average daily casualty rate has highly likely fallen by around 30 per cent. This follows exceptionally heavy Russian casualties over January-March 2023.

Figures released by the Ukrainian General Staff suggest a reduction from a daily average of 776 Russian casualties in March, to an average of 568 so far in April. Defence Intelligence cannot verify Ukraine’s exact methodology, but the general trend is likely accurate.

Russia’s losses have highly likely reduced as their attempted winter offensive has failed to achieve its objectives, and Russian forces are now focused on preparing for anticipated Ukrainian offensive operations.

Key events

Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency, has posted a video on Telegram that purports to show the aftermath of an attack in the Kharkiv region. He writes:

The Russians shelled the centre of the city of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region with S-300. They hit the museum. There are people under the rubble, it is already known about more than five wounded.

The claims have not been independently verified.

The Russian foreign minister has strongly criticised Nato members’ activities in the western Pacific, specifically the alliance between Australia, Britain and the US, and also strengthening US ties with Japan, South Korea and a number of south-east Asian countries.

Sergei Lavrov also accused the US embassy in Moscow of blocking Russian journalists from accompanying him to New York by approving their visas only after his plane left.

The Russian minister stressed that multilateralism was a key part of the UN charter and accused the United States and its allies of “destroying globalization” despite touting its benefits.

Lavrov said the west was promoting a “rules-based order” where nobody had seen the rules and which bars access to modern technologies and financial services to punish countries it disagreed with. The west had imposed a series of economic sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“Let’s call a spade a spade. Nobody allowed the western minority to speak on behalf of all humankind,” he said.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador, told the council that Russia’s actions during the 14-month war showed the invasion of Ukraine was not an isolated incident.

“This does not just concern Ukraine or Europe,” she said. “It concerns all of us. Because today it’s Ukraine, But tomorrow it could be another country, another small nation that is invaded by its larger neighbour.”

Representatives of about 50 countries spoke, with many pointing to the increasing confrontation among UN member states. They stressed the importance of preserving multilateralism, including by reforming the security council to reflect the 21st-century instead of the post-second world war power structure.

Moscow accuses Ukraine of attempting to attack its ships on Black Sea, ‘jeopardising grain deal’

Russia’s defence ministry on Monday accused Ukraine of attempting to attack its ships in the Black Sea, which it said was threatening prospects for a deal on grain exports.

“The terrorist actions of the Kyiv regime jeopardize the next extension of the grain deal beyond 18 May this year,” it said in a statement on its Telegram channel.

The defense ministry said an analysis of the route taken by Ukrainian naval drones launched 23 March and 24 April showed they originated in the water area of the Crimean port of Odesa that is designated for the implementation of the Black Sea initiative.

Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.

More now from the UN meeting on Monday evening, where the US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called Russia a “hypocritical convener” of the meeting whose “illegal, unprovoked and unnecessary” war in Ukraine “struck at the heart of the UN charter and all that we hold dear.”

Britain’s UN ambassador, Barbara Woodward, said countries had seen “what Russia’s idea of multilateralism means for the world” – the trampling of the UN charter and a war that had brought unimaginable suffering to Ukraine and been “an unmitigated disaster for Russia, too”.

The 27-member European Union called Russia’s attempt to portray itself as a defender of the UN charter and multilateralism “cynical”, saying it is “in contempt” not only of the UN charter but UN general assembly resolutions demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces.

But the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, defended what Moscow calls its “special military operation”, reiterating accusations that Ukraine was promoting “Nazi practices” and banning the Russian language and culture, and Nato was planning to expand into Ukraine.

He stressed, however, that “it’s not all about Ukraine” but what he called the west’s plans to leverage the Ukrainian government in the hope of weakening Russia.

“We cannot consider the Ukrainian issue separately from the geopolitical context,” Lavrov said. “It’s about how international relations will continue to be shaped through the establishment of a sound consensus on the basis of balance of interests, or through aggressive and volatile advancement of Washington’s hegemony.”

At the meeting, the UN secretary general and the ambassadors of the US, Britain, France and their allies all pointed to the UN charter’s underlying principle requiring all countries to support the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every nation – which Russia violated by invading Ukraine and illegally annexing several regions.

The UN permanent representative and ambassador of China, Zhang Jun, speaks during the security council meeting on maintenance of international peace and security at the UN headquarters.
The UN permanent representative and ambassador of China, Zhang Jun, speaks during the security council meeting on maintenance of international peace and security at the UN headquarters. Photograph: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

“The world is standing at a historic crossroads now,” China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, told the council.

“Humanity is facing unprecedented global challenges. Acts of hegemony and bullying are causing colossal harm to the world. Politics are creating huge divisions and confrontations. It has become all the more urgent and important to uphold the UN charter.”

Risks of conflict between major powers at ‘historic high’ says UN chief

The UN chief and representatives from western countries berated Russia’s top diplomat as he chaired a UN meeting Monday, accusing Moscow of violating the UN charter by attacking Ukraine and occupying part of its territory.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, responded by defending his country’s military action and accusing the US and its allies of undercutting global diplomacy, the foundation of the United Nations, which was created to prevent a third world war.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, called cooperation among the UN’s 193-member states the organisation’s “beating heart” and “guiding vision”, and he warned the security council that global collaboration was under the greatest strain since the creation of the United Nations in 1945 on the ashes of the second world war.

Tensions between major powers are at a “historic high” and so are the risks of conflict “through misadventure or miscalculation”, he said, pointing first and foremost to the war in Ukraine.

Opening summary

Welcome back to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine with me, Helen Sullivan.

Our top story this morning: The UN chief and representatives from western nations berated Russia’s top diplomat as he chaired a UN meeting Monday, accusing Moscow of violating the UN Charter by attacking Ukraine and occupying part of its territory.

Secretary-General António Guterres warned the Security Council that global collaboration is under the greatest strain since the creation of the United Nations in 1945 on the ashes of the second world war.

We’ll have more on the tense meeting shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • Russia has switched to defensive positions in all its areas of combat apart from Bakhmut, according to the Ukrainian head of intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov. In an interview with RBC Ukraine, he said: “The only places on the frontline where they are making attempts are in the city of Bakhmut, an attempt to cover the city of Avdiivka from the north, and localised fighting in the city of Marinka. Both in Avdiivka and Marinka the tactics are identical to those in Bakhmut – just an attempt to wipe the settlement off the face of the Earth.”

  • UN secretary-general António Guterres has proposed to Russian president Vladimir Putin a “way forward aimed at the improvement, extension and expansion” of a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain, which Moscow has threatened to terminate from 18 May. Russia’s defence ministry meanwhile accused Ukraine of attempting to attack its ships in the Black Sea, which it said was threatening prospects of extending the deal.

  • A woman charged with killing a pro-war Russian military blogger using explosives has been denied bail by a Russian court. Darya Trepova, 26, is accused of killing Vladen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, on 2 April. He was presented with a statuette containing a bomb while giving a talk at a cafe in St Petersburg.

  • Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces are “forcibly evacuating” civilians in the parts of the Kherson region that they still occupy, a day after it was claimed Ukrainian forces had established a bridgehead on the east bank of the Dnieper River. The claim cannot be verified, but it comes amid an apparent increase in Ukrainian military activity in the south of the country which some analysts have interpreted as a potential precursor to Kyiv’s long anticipated counter-offensive.

  • Estonia’s prime minister Kaja Kallas voiced hope that EU membership talks with Kyiv could begin this year, during a visit to the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr. “It will be a hard process and the requirements need to be fulfilled 100%,” she said, speaking alongside Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Estonia has been one of Ukraine’s largest donors per capita and this was Kallas’s first visit after her party won a landslide victory for her pro-Ukraine platform last month.

  • Beijing has insisted it respects the status of the independent nations that emerged from the USSR after remarks by China’s ambassador to France questioning the sovereignty of former Soviet states sparked outrage in EU capitals. “The Chinese side respects the status of the member states as sovereign states after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” the foreign ministry’s spokesperson Mao Ning said, adding that on the issue of territorial sovereignty, Beijing’s position was consistent and clear.

  • The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressed confidence that the bloc would complete a plan within days to buy ammunition for Ukraine after Kyiv expressed frustration at wrangling among EU member states. “Yes, still there is some disagreement. But I am sure everybody will understand that we are in a situation of extreme urgency,” Borrell said.

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