Vladimir Putin has told Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine that the “whole country is praying for them”, as he used his Victory Day speech to defend his invasion. Speaking at the 78th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Russian president drew historical parallels between the second world war and fighting in Ukraine. “Today, civilisation is again at a decisive, turning point, a real war has been unleashed against us again,” Putin said in a speech that was laced with anger.
“We are proud of the participants of the special military operation. The future of our people depends on you,” Putin said. He also accused the west of “destroying traditional values” and propagandising a “system of robbery and violence”.
Russia launched about 15 cruise missiles at Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday, the second attack in as many days, with air defence systems shooting them all down, officials said, after air raid alerts blared over most of the country. “As at the front, the plans of the aggressor failed,” Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv’s city military administration, said in comments posted on the Telegram messaging app.
Popko said that according to preliminary information there were no casualties in the attack that was carried out with cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea region. The Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said debris fell on a house in the Holosiivskyi district in the south-west of Kyiv, but there were no casualties and not much damage.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary force which is fighting Russia’s battle in Bakhmut, has said he was told he and his mercenaries would be regarded as “traitors” if they abandoned their positions. Prigozhin threatened to withdraw his troops from the city in east Ukraine, which has been the site of a long-running battle since 2022 to try to capture it, because of a lack of ammunition. He has since rowed back, but again threatened to do so unless the ammunition was supplied.
The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, and US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, have urged Russia not to use hunger as a weapon of war, as discussions over the Black Sea grain deal continue.
Blinken said: “In recent days, Russia has once again returned to blocking ships from sailing to Ukrainian ports to pick up grain. A cynical action, that directly results in less food getting to global food markets and to human beings in Africa, in the Middle East and around the world who need that food. The world shouldn’t need to remind Moscow every few weeks to stop using people’s hunger as a weapon in their war against Ukraine.”
Ukraine is planning a “very important” counteroffensive against Russian forces that must “demonstrate success”, the country’s prime minister has said. Denys Shmyhal told Sky News that the operation would be launched when the time was right.
Cleverly said people should not get too carried away with their hopes for Ukraine’s counteroffensive. “We have to be realistic. This is the real world; this is not a Hollywood movie,” he said.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said he discussed European integration, defence matters and sanctions against Russia at a meeting with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in Kyiv. He said he expected the EU to soon approve more sanctions on Russia.
A UK-led group of European countries has asked for expressions of interest to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles. The call for responses from companies that could provide the munitions with range of up to 190 miles (300km) was included in a notice posted last week by the International Fund for Ukraine.
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said there is currently no prospect of peace between Russia and Ukraine because “both sides are convinced that they can win”. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País on Tuesday, Guterres was pessimistic about the EU and the UN’s ability to broker an end to the conflict. “Unfortunately, I don’t think peace negotiations are possible at the moment,” he said.
Russia may be building a water pipeline in an attempt to address a water shortage affecting the occupied city of Donetsk. The UK’s Ministry of Defence said in its daily update that water had been an increasing issue for Donetsk since Russia’s invasion in February 2022. On 28 April, the Russian-installed head of Donetsk said regional supplies were running “dangerously low”. The Siversky-Donets canal that supplies the area is mainly under Ukrainian control, despite Russian attempts to take command of it.
MEPs voted to speed up consideration of a law to increase ammunition production in Europe to the tune of €500m ($550m), owing to efforts to supply Ukraine. The decision should see the new legislation – snappily termed the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (Asap) – in place by the end of the year, MEPs and European Commission officials said, Agence France-Presse reports.
Ukraine has received Israeli-made radar defence systems, which have already been deployed in Kyiv as of Monday, according to Israeli media reports. A Lithuanian volunteer organisation known as Blue/Yellow delivered 16 ieMHR models made by Israel’s Rada Electronic Industries last week and three are already in use in the Ukrainian capital, the Israeli daily Haaretz said. The systems are designed to detect aerial threats including missiles, rockets, mortar shells, helicopters and drones within up to a 6.2-mile (10km) radius.
The EU must not be intimidated by Moscow’s showcasing of military power but continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said on Tuesday as Russia marked Victory Day with a parade. “Two thousand two hundred kilometres north-east from here, Putin is parading his soldiers, tanks and missiles today,” Scholz told lawmakers in a speech at the European parliament in Strasbourg.
The US has announced a “new security assistance package” to help bolster Ukraine’s air defences and artillery ammunition needs. This package, confirmed by the Department of Defense on Tuesday, totals up to $1.2bn and is being provided under the Ukraine security assistance initiative (USAI).
Germany’s foreign minister has said China could play a decisive role in ending the war in Ukraine. Speaking alongside her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, at a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday, Annalena Baerbock said that as a permanent member of the UN security council, China had the power to be influential in the conflict and bring it to an end.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said Russia “will prevail” in its fight against what he described as “imperialists”, the state news agency KCNA said on Tuesday, in remarks seen to be aimed at Ukraine and its western supporters, such as the US. North Korea has forged closer ties with the Kremlin and backed Moscow after it invaded Ukraine last year, including its proclamation later of having annexed parts of Ukraine, which most UN members condemned as illegal.