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China accuses UK of violating international law after sanctions over Ukraine war | UK News

China has accused Britain of violating international law after the UK announced new sanctions targeting “individuals and groups supporting and funding Putin’s war machine”.

China’s embassy said it firmly opposes the sanctions and has warned that any action harming China’s interests “will be met with a firm response”.

In a statement, the embassy insisted that Beijing has remained objective and fair on the war in Ukraine and it is urging the UK to “correct its mistakes and withdraw the sanctions on Chinese firms”.

Forty-six new sanctions were announced by the UK, and the list of targets includes businesses in China, as well as firms in Belarus, Serbia, Turkey, the UAE and Uzbekistan.

The UK’s sanctions targeted 31 people and entities it said were linked to the design and manufacture of drones and missile parts and the import of electronic components.

Three Chinese entities, Asia Pacific Links Limited, Sinno Electronics Co., Limited, and Xinghua Co., Limited, were targeted for supplying sanctioned goods.

Four UAE-based entities it said were involved in trading Russian oil were also affected, as well as others linked to the Wagner mercenary group.

A Belarusian defence organisation the UK said had manufactured military technology used by Minsk to support Russia’s war effort was also sanctioned.

“We will continue to ratchet up pressure on Putin and crack down on third parties providing restricted goods and technology to Russia, wherever they may be,” junior foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

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UK would back fast-track for Ukraine to join NATO, foreign secretary says | UK News

The UK would back a fast-track for Ukraine to join NATO, the foreign secretary has signalled.

France also appears to favour the idea, according to Paris’s top diplomat.

How to advance Ukraine’s membership to NATO even as its forces fight Russia’s invasion will be one of the key decisions expected to be made by alliance leaders at a major summit next month in the Baltic state of Lithuania.

Putin boasts of ‘nuclear triad’ in speech – follow Ukraine war live updates

Any nation wanting to join NATO is meant to complete a plan of action to ensure its armed forces meet certain standards and are properly funded.

But this requirement was waived when Finland and Sweden asked to join last year and could be dropped again.

James Cleverly, the British foreign secretary, said all allies recognised that the Ukrainian armed forces are already adapting to meet the alliance’s entry standards.

“We have seen Ukraine evolve and evolve incredibly quickly,” he told journalists at a press conference on the sidelines of a conference in London on Ukrainian reconstruction.

He said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had told allies at a recent informal meeting of foreign ministers in Norway that “many of the requirements” of the so-called membership action plan (MAP) were already being delivered.

“The reform of their armed forces is happening whilst engaged in conflict,” Mr Cleverly said.

“I think the UK’s position would be very, very supportive if we moved on from the membership action plan, recognising that the offer to both Finland and Sweden didn’t require that and the Ukrainians have demonstrated their commitments to reform – the military reform required for NATO membership – through their actions on the battlefield.

“I think all NATO allies recognise that.”

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Tsunami of filth as sewage and sludge coat streets of Kherson

Catherine Colonna, France’s foreign minister, indicated her country was thinking along the same lines.

“I can see a possibility that the MAP is not any longer a stage of that route, that roadmap to accession,” she said, speaking in English to reports at the Ukraine conference.

Speaking in French, she said a lot of time had passed since NATO first spoke about an “open door” policy towards aspirations by Ukraine and Georgia to join back in 2008.

“Perhaps we won’t require the “Membership Action Plan” mechanism – perhaps not, I say, perhaps not – which was planned in 2008,” she said.

“We are a long way from 2008. Time has passed, the situation is quite different.”

UK pledges hundreds of new attack drones to Ukraine ahead of Zelenskyy-Sunak summit | World News

The UK has pledged to send hundreds of new long-range attack drones to Ukraine ahead of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s meeting with Rishi Sunak today.

The Ukrainian president will meet Mr Sunak at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, for “substantive negotiations” over military aid.

Two Russian commanders killed – latest updates

The government said Mr Sunak will confirm today the further provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems, including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km.

Mr Sunak said it was a “crucial moment” in Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s invasion, adding: “We must not let them down.”

It comes as Mr Zelenskyy embarks on a multi-stop European tour for more support from allies, as Kyiv prepares for its counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Mr Zelenskyy tweeted ahead of his arrival, describing the UK as a “leader” when it comes to Ukraine expanding its capabilities on the ground and in the air.

The UK government’s announcement of further military aid follows last week’s confirmation that it has donated long-range precision missiles to Ukraine’s military.

The government said the further provisions which will be confirmed later today will be delivered in the coming months.

On Saturday, the German government promised Kyiv its biggest military support package so far, with further arms deliveries worth €2.7bn (£2.35bn).

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What could happen next in Ukraine?

France also pledged further military aid, as French president Emmanuel Macron and Mr Zelenskyy met in a surprise summit in Paris on Sunday.

Mr Macron’s office said France will supply dozens of light tanks and armoured vehicles “in the weeks ahead”, without giving specific numbers.

Read more:
Has Ukraine’s counter-offensive begun?
Ukrainian home town of country’s Eurovision act comes under missile fire

Fierce fighting in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut, which has inflicted heavy losses on both sides, continues.

Neither Kyiv nor Moscow’s forces have been able to take full control of the city despite months of fighting, as analysis suggesting the battle for the city is not about seizing ground but maximising enemy casualties.

Mr Zelenskyy has said his troops would not attack Russian territory as part of their counteroffensive.

UK hosting Eurovision for Ukraine is special moment of unity, say refugees | Ents & Arts News

Ukraine’s Eurovision entry this year was written during the fall of Mariupol.

Electronic duo Tvorchi will be performing the song, Heart of Steel, in the final on Saturday.

The group told Sky News that performing it in Liverpool – despite winning last year, Ukraine is unable to host the event for obvious reasons – feels bittersweet.

“We would be happier if this could happen in Ukraine, and we didn’t experience the war and full-scale invasion,” said Andrii Hutsuliak.

“But we want to say a huge thanks to the UK for hosting it and all the support we received, it means a lot to us.”

Getting to Liverpool meant succeeding in their national competition last year in Ukraine.

The event took place in a converted underground station in the capital Kyiv.

A banner promoting the Eurovision Song Contest near The Royal Liver Building in Liverpool, Merseyside
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The group won a contest held in a Kyiv underground station

It was being used as a bomb shelter but was transformed into a TV studio and stage for the night and was live-streamed as 10 acts performed for a spot in Liverpool.

The UK stepping in to host this year’s competition on their behalf means a lot to the refugees in the North West who have sought sanctuary there over the past year.

Anastasiia Spivak, 23, came to the UK six months ago to live with a host family.

Anastasiia Spivak, 23
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Anastasiia says she feels ‘warm in my heart’ because of all support

Sky News met her as she was fundraising for Ukraine outside the concert venue, draped in the blue and yellow flag.

“I love seeing the Ukrainian signs, Ukrainian flag and colours everywhere I go. I really feel so warm in my heart because everyone here is really supporting our culture in many different ways,” she said.

Tetiana Naimanova, 28, is with her also raising awareness about the conflict in Ukraine.

She said: “We are so grateful to Liverpool and the UK for having us here and hosting on behalf of Ukraine.

“This is really the unity of two countries, two cultures and having all people around the world, around Europe coming here and discovering Ukraine is so special.”

Read more:
All you need to know about the Eurovision in Liverpool
MP seeks assurances voting will be protected from Russian threats

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They are both excited and proud that the Eurovision Song Contest is honouring Ukraine. It feels poignant to them both and much needed, as Tetiana explained.

“It’s really important for us to have this moment in the middle of what’s going on to find this opportunity to celebrate and to be together and to remind people that the war is still going on but we have to support each other.

“We have to do whatever we can to support Ukraine and we’re really happy that we have the opportunities here to get that support.”

Liverpool will have love and support in abundance come Saturday when they throw a party Ukraine wishes it could, and one day they hope will be able to again.

Ministry of Defence says leak which claims UK special forces have been operating in Ukraine has ‘a serious level of inaccuracy’ | UK News

The Ministry of Defence says there is “a serious level of inaccuracy” in leaks which claim UK special forces have been operating in Ukraine.

The claims have been widely reported after US classified military documents were allegedly leaked and published online.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson has warned against taking allegations contained in the reported leak at “face value”.

A spokesperson said in a message posted on Twitter: “The widely reported leak of alleged classified US information has demonstrated a serious level of inaccuracy.

“Readers should be cautious about taking at face value allegations that have the potential to spread disinformation.”

Media outlets have reported that a document, dated 23 March, indicates as many as 50 UK special forces personnel have been deployed to the country alongside other western special forces.

But the document reportedly does not state where the allegedly deployed forces are located or what they are doing.

Chris Meagher, a spokesman for the Pentagon, has urged caution in “promoting or amplifying any of these documents”, adding that “it does appear that slides have been doctored”.

The documents may first have been published in a chatroom on Discord, a social media platform popular with gamers, Associated Press reported.

An unidentified chatroom user shared documents that were allegedly classified, first typing them out with their own thoughts, then, as of a few months ago, beginning to post images of papers with folds in them.

The posts appear to have gone unnoticed outside of the chat until a few weeks ago, when they began to circulate more widely on social media.

Many details shared by the person have not been independently verified and the original chatroom has been deleted.

Asked on Monday if the US government was effectively waiting for more intelligence documents to show up online, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby replied: “The truth and the honest answer to your question is: We don’t know. And is that a matter of concern to us? You’re darn right it is.”

It comes after the US defence department began investigating who is responsible for the potentially damaging leak.

Read more:
Russian ambassador has ‘evidence’ UK special forces involved in attack

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From 5 April: Putin – US-Russia relations ‘in deep crisis’

The New York Times, which first reported the breach, quoted military analysts as saying the files appear to have been modified in certain parts, which could point to an attempt by Moscow to spread disinformation.

Wall Street Journal correspondent Yaroslav Trofimov said Russian propaganda channels appeared to have photoshopped at least one of the documents after the original ones were posted.

Mr Trofimov noted how there was suddenly a significant increase in the number of Ukrainian casualties and equipment losses recorded and a massive decrease in the Russian battle damage.

Ukrainian presidential official, Mykhailo Podolyak, said the leak looked like a Russian disinformation operation, saying that it contained a “very large amount of fictitious information”.

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The act of stealing secret documents and leaking them either with or without modifications is a long-standing weapon of information warfare designed to undermine an opponent.

It would benefit Russia for information about Ukraine’s battle plans and Western support to be leaked online.

The classified files – including one marked “top secret” and another marked “secret” – are dated from late February and early March.

They do not reveal specific dates or details about Ukraine’s anticipated spring offensive in the east and south of the country.

But they do offer clues about the kind of military formations that Western allies are helping their Ukrainian partners build up.

The New York Times said US officials were trying to have the files taken down off the social media sites.

However, as of last Friday morning, versions of the leaks were still being widely shared.

Russians assaulted, threatened and abused in UK as hate crimes linked to Ukraine war surge | UK News

Russians in the UK have been subjected to violent assaults, threats and vandalism in the last year, as new figures suggest a surge in hate crime linked to the war in Ukraine.

A Sky News investigation has found details of dozens of race hate crimes against Russian nationals in Britain since 24 February 2022, the date Vladimir Putin began his invasion.

One large police force in England saw anti-Russian offences more than double in the last year compared to 2021, while a charity revealed that children of primary school age have been victims.

An expert has warned that the number of recorded offences is likely to be the “tip of the iceberg” as many go unreported, and the spike is expected to continue for the duration of the war.

Among the offences:

• An assault was reported on a building site in Derbyshire, where a worker told the victim: “I hate you Russians – you kill people,” before the attack started.

• Hertfordshire Police revealed details of a racially-aggravated assault where the victim was pushed to the floor at a crossing and told: “All Russians are murderers.”

• A suspicious white powder was sent to a London law firm, with a letter condemning its ties with Russia and containing “pro-Ukrainian content”.

• Devon and Cornwall Police said a victim was followed around a supermarket by someone “calling them names and threatening to kill them because they are Russian”.

Graffiti reading 'Kill Putin' was pictured on a wall in Slough in August. Pic: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock
Image:
Graffiti reading ‘Kill Putin’ was painted on a wall in Slough. Pic: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock

• A woman, originally from Russia, living in North Wales was abused by a neighbour who said: “Why are you still here? F*** off home”. A note was also left on her postbox telling her to go home and the abuse was thought to be “connected with Russia’s offensive in Ukraine”, police said.

• In Dorset, paint was poured on the bonnet of a vehicle overnight – with the victim suspecting it was due to their Russian nationality.

• In Lancashire, a suspect repeatedly called a victim from a withheld number, and left a message saying: “Are you Russian c**ts? You still f*****g trading in the UK? You f*****g scumbags, (I’ll) come to your f*****g shop soon”.

• An “obscene word” was written on a woman’s car in North Wales, which the victim believed was “due to the mistaken belief that she was Russian”.

Anti-war graffiti on the gates of the Russian embassy in London in February 2022
Image:
Graffiti was scrawled on the gates of the Russian embassy in London in February 2022

What does the data show?

The crimes were revealed after Sky News sent freedom of information (FOI) requests to the UK’s 45 territorial police forces and British Transport Police (BTP).

Greater Manchester Police said 13 race hate crimes against Russian victims had been recorded since the invasion of Ukraine – up from six in 2021 and two in 2020.

Derbyshire Police has recorded four anti-Russian offences since 24 February 2022 – compared to zero crimes in 2021 – including assault causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage and racially aggravated harassment.

Cambridgeshire Police said it had seen seven race hate crimes against Russian victims since the war in Ukraine – the same number as in 2021 – including racially-aggravated common assault or beating and harassment.

Meanwhile, BTP have recorded three anti-Russian offences during the Ukraine war, having recorded none in 2021.

City of London, Dorset, Kent, Avon and Somerset, Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire police forces have also recorded race crimes against Russians since the conflict began.

The Metropolitan Police refused to answer Sky News’ FOI request, saying it would cost too much to retrieve the information. However, the force has previously revealed it recorded 16 hate crimes against Russian victims in the first two months of the war in Ukraine, compared to 22 offences across the whole year before the invasion.

Vladimir Putin delivers his speech during a meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board in Moscow, Russia
Pic:AP
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Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to some police forces reporting a rise in anti-Russian hate crime. Pic: AP

In total, just 14 forces provided relevant data on race hate crimes or similar incidents targeting Russian people in the UK during the war in Ukraine.

The remaining forces either did not respond to Sky News, refused to provide the information on cost grounds or said they had no recorded anti-Russian offences.

Some forces admitted the nationality of victims was often not recorded for race hate crimes, with Avon and Somerset Police saying it appeared to have been completed “only 10% of the time”.

‘You Russian pigs’

Russian chef Alexei Zimin told Sky News that his London restaurant received threatening calls and had bookings cancelled in the early weeks of the invasion of Ukraine.

Despite being an opponent of the war, he revealed people had said: “You Russian pigs” and “you need to close your restaurant or we’ll do it”, and a police officer was once sent to their building over an apparent threat.

Mr Zimin’s restaurant Zima has donated about £30,000 to the Red Cross for Ukrainian refugees and his vocal anti-war stance has led to the cancellation of his cooking show on Russian TV.

He said he expected repercussions for voicing opposition to the war “because I know my country”.

Asked if he would feel safe returning to Russia, Mr Zimin replied: “I don’t know…. I don’t want to check.

“I haven’t been in Russia for more than a year.

“Most of my friends are now in different countries.”

Primary schoolchildren targeted

The charity Victim Support said it had seen a “flurry” of anti-Russian hate crimes in the early weeks of the war in Ukraine, including incidents of “hate-related bullying” in schools.

Some victims were of primary school age, it added.

Becca Rosenthal, hate crime operations manager at Victim Support, told Sky News: “Quite often with children and adults, it’s got that narrative of: ‘Go back home’.”

She said Victim Support had also seen cases involving “anti-Ukrainian rhetoric” and victims from other countries being targeted in the mistaken belief they are Russian.

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‘A lot of Russians support Ukraine’

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Mark Walters, professor of criminal law and criminology at the University of Sussex, said “trigger events” lead to increases in certain types of hate crimes.

“With Brexit, we had a big spike in racist hate crimes,” he told Sky News.

“With the pandemic, we saw a spike in anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate crime.

“With the war in Ukraine, you’ll see there will be a spike in anti-Russian hate crimes… that will probably last as long as the war lasts.”

Prof Walters warned that hate crimes are under-reported, adding: “While I think the figures will definitely show there’s been a spike… I would have no doubt that will probably be just the tip of the iceberg.”

A Home Office spokesman told Sky News: “Hate crime is a scourge on communities across the country. It does not reflect the values of modern Britain.

“While the rise in cases is likely to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, these are serious crimes and we expect the police to fully investigate these hateful attacks and make sure the cowards who commit them feel the full force of the law.”

Sunak to urge world leaders to ‘move faster’ to arm Ukraine as he leads minute’s silence on war anniversary | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is to urge fellow world leaders to “move faster” to arm Ukraine’s troops as he leads a minute’s silence on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

The prime minister is expected to use a G7 meeting on Friday to call on allies to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine as there is an urgent need for Kyiv to gain a “decisive advantage” on the battlefield.

Mr Sunak will lead the UK in a minute’s silence at 11am to mark the anniversary in front of the Downing Street door.

He will be joined by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and representatives from each of the 11 nations that are part of the British-led Ukrainian troop training programme, Operation Interflex.

UN demands Russia withdraw troops – Ukraine war latest

“For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Putin’s mindset,” Mr Sunak is expected to tell G7 leaders in a virtual meeting.

“This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour, and air defence.

“The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward.”

Mr Sunak will also reiterate his offer of UK support to countries able to provide jets to Ukraine as he and his wife, Akshata Murty, hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of Number 10.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on Western countries to send fighter jets to Ukraine and while the UK has announced training for Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard jets it has not sent any planes.

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Johnson: ‘Send jets to Ukraine’

Former PM Boris Johnson has joined those calls and told Sky News on Thursday the UK needs to “break the ice” by becoming the first country to supply Ukraine with the aircraft.

But so far, neither Mr Sunak or his defence secretary Ben Wallace have not made a steadfast commitment to do so.

Sky News exclusively reported on Thursday the Treasury has signalled there is no new money for defence, despite recognising the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war.

As things stand, the British army would run out of ammunition within a few days if called upon to fight and would take up to 10 years to field a modern warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

Read more:
PM has ‘no interest in defence’ as UK ammo stockpiles proved ‘inadequate’ by war
Ukraine war: The race to rearm could decide who wins the conflict
British prisoner of war in Ukraine reveals Russian torture methods

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A look back on a year of war in Ukraine

On the eve of the anniversary, Mr Sunak said: “As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country.

“I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict.

“As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe.”

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who met Mr Zelenskyy in Kyiv recently, said the UK’s support “is as firm and unstinting today as it was on that dark day one year ago”.

He said his party stands “in lockstep with the government” in continuing support to Ukraine “regardless of what other political disagreements we may have”.

Boris Johnson calls on UK to ‘break the ice’ by sending Ukraine fighter jets – and warns China against ‘historic mistake’ | Politics News

Boris Johnson has said China will be making an “historic mistake” if it supplies Russia with weapons – as he urged the UK to “break the ice” by becoming the first country to supply Ukraine with fighter jets.

Speaking to Sky News’ Mark Austin as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches, the former prime minister said he was “very concerned” to see China’s top diplomat meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday.

Asked about the possibility of Beijing supporting Russia’s war effort with weapons, he said: “I think it would be an historic mistake by the Chinese… Why does China want to be contaminated by association with Putin, who has revealed himself to be this gangster and adventurer? I think it would be a big, big mistake by China.

“But what it shows is the the urgency of us giving the Ukrainians what they need to succeed this year and to make sure that 2023 is their victory.”

Putin marks military holiday after missile warning; NATO ‘cannot allow Moscow to win’ – War latest

Mr Johnson, who was prime minister when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, has spoken after Sky News exclusively reported that The Treasury has signalled there is no new money for defence despite recognising the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war.

As things stand, the British army would run out of ammunition within a few days if called upon to fight and would take up to 10 years to field a modern warfighting division of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

Asked whether the UK defence industry should be put on a “war footing” in light of its low stocks of ammunitions, Mr Johnson replied: “I certainly think we need to be making sure that we equip ourselves with what we need. But if you look at the UK’s own defences and how to make sure that our own country is protected and the entire Euro-Atlantic security area is protected, then the best thing you can do, the most economical thing you can do is to make sure that Putin fails in Ukraine and that the Ukrainians win.”

Mr Johnson added: “What I’m saying is that we should continue to supply the munitions that we can. We need to make more munitions.”

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The race is on to rearm Ukraine

Johnson says Ukraine can use jets to recapture territory

The former prime minister has been speaking as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges Western powers to supply his country with fighter jets to support their war effort.

However, there are fears among Western leaders Ukraine would use the jets to strike targets inside Russia.

Mr Johnson appeared confident Ukraine would only use them to defend their country and encouraged the government to supply some of the UK military’s Typhoon jets.

“What the Ukrainians want is F-16s. As it happens, we don’t have F-16s but we do have Typhoons. I think there’s an argument for the UK breaking the ice and giving them some Typhoons. If it’s a question of of training people up to use those machines – we can do that.”

Mr Johnson added he has “no doubt” Ukraine can recapture territory from Russia if it has fighter jets to take out their artillery positions and command and control centres.

Read more:
PM has ‘no interest in defence’ as UK ammo stockpiles proved ‘inadequate’ by war
Ukraine war: The race to rearm could decide who wins the conflict
British prisoner of war in Ukraine reveals Russinan torture methods

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Ukraine war: Five keys moments

‘The decisive moment of the early 21st century’

The former prime minister was also asked about a warning from President Zelenskyy that there could be a third world war if Ukraine loses the conflict.

“I think there is a real risk that if Putin can manufacture any kind of success out of this, then he will be able to continue to threaten not just Ukraine, but all the parts of the former Soviet empire that he wants to intimidate.

“And everybody else around the world will draw the conclusion that aggression pays off and that borders can be changed by force.

“This is an absolutely critical moment for the world. This is a pivot moment. This is a hinge of fate. This is the decisive moment in the early 21st century.”

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Mr Johnson also questioned Mr Putin’s reasons for launching his invasion and said: “He was never really threatened by Ukraine as a potential NATO member. There was no question of establishing NATO’s missiles on Ukrainian soil any of that nonsense.

“This has purely been done by Putin to bolster his flagging position at home and to try to reconstitute the old Soviet empire… I think it would be a terrible signal if he has any kind of success.

“It would be a terrible signal for the world, for everywhere, where we care deeply about borders that should not be changed by force.”

Ukrainian refugees staying in UK facing homelessness as Homes for Ukraine placements end | UK News

Nine months after arriving in the UK, Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova is searching for somewhere to spend the night.

“I’m just trying to move on and survive,” she says.

Britain opened its doors to Ukrainian refugees on visa schemes last spring.

Now it’s a cold, drab day in early February and Anfisa is facing the unthinkable – she is homeless.

Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova
Image:
Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova

Anfisa has been desperately ringing around charities, the local council and anyone she knows trying to find a place to stay for the night. There’s disappointment after disappointment.

But her search for somewhere suitable is complicated by the fact that Anfisa has four dogs who’ve travelled thousands of miles with her from a war zone. And she refuses to be separated from them.

Ukraine war latest – Putin travelling in armoured train because he is ‘scared’ to fly

Hugging each of her mini Yorkshire terriers Betsy, Nora, Daisy and Teddy it’s obvious just how much they mean to her.

Anfisa says: “They are my emotional support. I already lost everything in the war.”

Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova with her mini Yorkshire terriers Betsy, Nora, Daisy and Teddy.
Image:
Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova with her mini Yorkshire terriers

We’re in Bracknell in Berkshire and it’s getting dark.

There is an 11th-hour solution available – she could go to a bed and breakfast provided by the local authority. But her dogs would have to be put into kennels, which Anfisa isn’t prepared to let happen.

Anfisa appears to have run out of options when help comes from an unexpected quarter.

Also looking for accommodation she meets some of Bracknell’s homeless community who take her to a local church.

The House of God wasn’t where she was expecting to spend the night.

Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova with her mini Yorkshire terriers Betsy, Nora, Daisy and Teddy.
Image:
Anfisa Vlasova with her mini Yorkshire terriers Betsy, Nora, Daisy and Teddy

“I’m so tired and exhausted because all day just running, calling, searching. So at least I got a roof and it’s warm and I got a meal and my dogs are with me,” she says.

Anfisa, who promoted cosmetics in Ukraine, was displaced twice in her home country first from Donetsk in 2014, then she fled from Kharkiv as it was being shelled last year.

She describes the way she’s now living hand-to-mouth as “deja vu”.

Anfisa came to the UK last May to live with a British family on the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

She then went to a second host – an elderly man who Anfisa says wanted her to be his carer and companion.

She’s also stayed in an apartment provided by the council and a bed and breakfast.

She’s still looking for a permanent home for herself and her dogs.

Anfisa Vlasova's mini Yorkshire terriers Betsy, Nora, Daisy and Teddy.
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Anfisa’s came to the UK with her mini Yorkshire terriers Betsy, Nora, Daisy and Teddy

But whilst Anfisa’s situation is unusual the number of Ukrainian refugees needing help with housing is rapidly rising.

The latest figures show 161,400 refugees are in the UK on visa schemes following the Russian invasion of their country a year ago.

Whilst 46,900 Ukrainians came to stay with family members, most travelled on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme which required British hosts to take refugees in for a minimum of six months.

Available data analysed by Sky News shows 4,295 Ukrainian households are now turning to local councils for somewhere to live after their placements on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme ended.

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Not all local authorities have provided figures and with councils only tracking ‘households’ not people within a household, the actual number will be even higher.

There has been no data collected on Ukrainians who came as part of the Family Visa Scheme.

With no end to the war in sight – most of the Ukrainian refugees we’ve spoken to are parting on good terms from their hosts but now want some independence and a place of their own.

But for most it’s proving difficult.

Tatiana Miller, Ukraine Response Coordinator at Refugee Support in Reading, says housing is the biggest issue for the people she sees.

Tatiana Miller, Ukraine Response Coordinator at Refugee Support in Reading.
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Tatiana Miller, Ukraine Response Coordinator at Refugee Support in Reading

She says half of the Ukrainians at the support group will need new accommodation in the next month or two – and renting is proving very difficult.

She says: “The main message is we need compassionate landlords and we need local authorities to work with estate agents to accommodate that.

“The time has come when they (the refugees) need their space back.

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“But for Ukrainian people to look for alternative accommodation that means they need to rent and to rent they need a job or have a credit history.

“And Ukrainians don’t have the amount of salary that’s expected.”

Former history teacher Kateryna Korniienko clearly gets on well with her hosts Fiona and Richard Marston who took Kateryna and her two children in on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Former history teacher Kateryna Korniienko is staying with hosts Fiona and Richard Marston who took Kateryna and her two children in on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
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Former history teacher Kateryna Korniienko is staying with hosts in Britain with her two children on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme

She says: “It’s a very good place for us, but it’s not our house, it’s not our property, so every time I remember that I’m just a guest here and I should be polite. I want to keep their life the same as what it was before.”

Whilst Kateryna’s husband Andrew is still in Odesa, Kateryna has started working in Berkshire as a teaching assistant and her children are at a local school.

In Ukraine, Kateryna was a lecturer and history teacher but Fiona says her guest’s qualifications aren’t recognised in the UK – part of the reason why Fiona is keen to help Kateryna move on by standing as a financial guarantor on a rental property.

Fiona said: “I think for all of us we don’t want to go on like this forever.

“But for us, it’s more ‘what does Kate want?’

Former history teacher Kateryna Korniienko is staying with hosts Fiona and Richard Marston who took Kateryna and her two children in on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
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Kateryna is staying with hosts Fiona and Richard Marston

“So my understanding is that what Kate wants is as normal a family life as she can have. And so for her, that means living independently.

“There is that balance, isn’t there, that we can suddenly not have to worry about when our family comes to stay. But yes I’ll miss them.”

But Anfisa Vlasova – who spent a night in a church with her four mini Yorkshire terriers – hasn’t found the breakthrough she’s looking for.

Since we last met she’s had several nights sleeping rough.

She shares photographs with us of the tent she shared with her dogs.

Ukrainian refugee Anfisa Vlasova has spent several nights sleeping rough. She shares photographs with us of the tent she shared with her dogs.
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Anfisa Vlasova spent several nights sleeping rough in a tent with her dogs

When temperatures plummeted she was offered a place in a hotel but her pets would have had to go into kennels – which she refused.

Anifsa told us before she became homeless she had been offered accommodation by the council for her and her pets – but she turned it down as unsuitable.

In one case she said it was because it was a room with a family who had a cat.

She said: “I just want to hide, you know? Under my blanket, closing my eyes, imagining I’m at home, in my bed, in my flat and I’m just hiding under the blanket at the place which I feel is my own space.

“Since I came here, just I had six months of quite peaceful life with my host family and I am really very appreciative to those people but later on, it’s a nightmare.”

Ukraine war: Russia attacks ‘pompous’ Zelenskyy and warns UK as president asks for more weapons | Politics News

Russian officials have attacked Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s “hasty” visit to Europe – dismissing his speech to MPs in Westminster as “theatrical”.

The Ukrainian president made a surprise appearance in London, where he urged the UK and Western allies to provide “wings for freedom” by supplying advanced jets.

Mr Zelenskyy then travelled to Paris for talks over dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz – and he is expected to attend an EU summit in Brussels later today.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet Ukrainian troops being trained to command Challenger 2 tanks at a military facility in Lulworth, Dorset. Picture date: Wednesday February 8, 2023.

But in a strongly worded statement, the Russian embassy in London said: “Zelenskyy’s pompous solicitations about the values of ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’, which Kiev claims to be fighting for, were overtly hypocritical.”

The embassy went on to mock “the ex-comedian in a green sweatshirt now on tour around Europe” – and also had a warning for the UK government.

“We would like to remind London: in the event of such a scenario the death toll of yet another round of escalation, as well as and its military-political consequences for the European continent and the whole world will be on the United Kingdom’s hands. Russia will know how to respond to any unfriendly actions by the British side,” it said.

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Zelenskyy awards Ukrainian troops in UK

Zelenskyy calls for more weapons

This morning, Mr Zelenskyy is set to address the European Parliament in what will be his third stop on a surprise trip across the continent.

While Mr Zelenskyy is unlikely to secure immediate pledges to satisfy his requests, this will be his first opportunity to make the case in person to EU member states since the war began almost a year ago.

It follows a powerful speech in Westminster Hall on Wednesday, followed by talks with the leaders of France and Germany over dinner in Paris.

Rishi Sunak has said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to assisting the war effort in Ukraine and fighter jets “are part of the conversation”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands after meeting Ukrainian troops being trained to command Challenger 2 tanks at a military facility in Lulworth, Dorset. Picture date: Wednesday February 8, 2023.

Mr Zelenskyy received a standing ovation after his speech.

Later at a military site in Dorset alongside the Ukrainian president, the prime minister was asked “to provide absolute clarity” on whether Ukraine will receive jets from the UK and, if so, when.

“We’ve been very clear and we’ve been clear for a long time that when it comes to the provision of military assistance to Ukraine, nothing is off the table,” Mr Sunak said.

“When it comes to fighter combat aircraft of course they are part of the conversation.”

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Ukraine’s Zelenskyy meets King Charles

‘More military assistance needed’

After the Western world came together to agree on sending tanks to Ukraine, Kyiv is requesting warplanes to repel the Russian invasion.

Mr Zelenskyy told the news conference that without more military assistance “there will be stagnation, these people [Russian soldiers] will be living on our territory and this poses great risk to all of the world”.

Downing Street said the prime minister has asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to investigate what warplanes the UK could supply but stressed any potential move to do so would not happen immediately.

But according to Professor Michael Clarke, a defence and security analyst, the UK “doesn’t have” the right sort of jets to offer.

This is Mr Zelenskyy’s second trip outside Ukraine since Russia invaded last February.

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After visiting parliament, he travelled to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the King and later visited Lulworth Camp in Dorset with Mr Sunak, to meet Ukrainian troops being trained by the British Army.

Following his talks with Mr Macron and Mr Scholz, he said: “France and Germany have the potential to be game changers and that’s how I see our talks.

“The sooner we get heavy long-range weapons and our pilots get modern planes … the quicker this Russian aggression will end.”

Also on the agenda during Mr Zelenskyy’s visit to Brussels will be a discussion on Ukraine joining the European Union.