Russia-Ukraine war: EU ministers fail to pledge Patriot systems to Ukraine at key meeting – as it happened

EU ministers fail to pledge Patriot systems to Ukraine at key meeting

European ministers said on Monday they were looking urgently at how to provide more air defence to Ukraine but they stopped short of concrete pledges of the Patriot systems that Kyiv values most, Retuers reports.

Meeting in Luxembourg, foreign and defence ministers from the EU said the US House of Representatives vote to approve a $60bn Ukraine package at the weekend should not lead to any complacency on their part.

“We can be joyous for a day but we have to be prepared for the battle that is coming tomorrow. Therefore there can be no calming down,” Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters as he arrived at the meeting.

With Russia having stepped up air attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and cities, EU governments are under pressure to supply more protective systems to Kyiv.

But countries that have US-made Patriots – which Ukraine already uses and values highly for their ability to shoot down fast-moving ballistic missiles – were non-committal on Monday.

Since Kyiv began a push for more Patriots in recent weeks, Germany has been the only EU country to pledge an extra battery.

Berlin is also leading a drive to get more air defence from other countries for Ukraine, through donations of equipment and financial contributions.

Other European countries including Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden also have Patriot systems.

Officials say it is hard for countries to part with Patriots as they are an integral part of national defences.

Ukrainian officials have countered that the risk of EU countries coming under air attack is extremely low, while Ukraine faces such attacks frequently.

Swedish defence minister Pal Jonson said Stockholm had already agreed to give air defence weapons to Ukraine, including the RBS 70 portable system.

Asked if Sweden would also provide Patriots, he said: “I don’t exclude that possibility but right now we’re focused on a financial contribution but also possibly (more) RBS 70 because that could alleviate some of the pressure on the Patriots.”

Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares said: “We are well aware of Ukraine’s need for air defence, and especially Patriots and Spain has always done whatever it could.”

He added: “Since it is a real war, I’m not really a friend of the idea of disclosing too much about what we give, when and from where.”

Key events

Closing summary

  • Russia said its forces had taken control of the village of Novomykhailivka, 40 km (25 miles) southwest of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the second advance it has announced in two days. The guardian has not yet verified the claim, reported by the defence ministry. Ukraine’s General Staff said in its regular morning report that Kyiv’s forces continued to hold back Russian attempts to advance near the village. Russia said yesterday its forces had gained territory near the key battleground of Chasiv Yar in east Ukraine, taking control of Bogdanivka, a small village less than three kilometres (two miles) northeast of the town.

  • A Russian air attack on Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, hit TV broadcast infrastructure, prompting disruptions with the signal, a local official said. “At the moment, there are interruptions in the digital TV signal,” regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

  • The Kremlin has played down the significance of the $60.7bn US aid package for Ukraine, saying it will not change the situation on the frontlines. “The Russian armed forces are improving their positions at the front … The money allocated and the weapons that will be supplied will not change this dynamic,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “They will lead to new victims on the Ukrainian side. More Ukrainians will die, Ukraine will suffer greater losses.”

  • European ministers said they were looking urgently at how to provide more air defence to Ukraine but they stopped short of concrete pledges of the Patriot systems that Kyiv values most. Meeting in Luxembourg, foreign and defence ministers from the EU said the US House of Representatives vote to approve a Ukraine aid package at the weekend should not lead to any complacency on their part. Since Kyiv began a push for more Patriots in recent weeks, Germany has been the only EU country to pledge an extra battery. But officials have said it is hard for countries to part with Patriots as they are an integral part of national defences.

  • Poland is ready to host nuclear arms if Nato decides to deploy the weapons in the face of Russia reinforcing its armaments in Belarus and Kaliningrad, the country’s president, Andrzej Duda, said in an interview published on Monday. “If our allies decide to deploy nuclear arms on our territory as part of nuclear sharing, to reinforce Nato’s eastern flank, we are ready to do so,” Duda said in an interview published by the Fakt daily.

  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned that the support of the US, Britain and France for Ukraine was stoking serious strategic risks that had raised the risk of a direct confrontation between the world’s biggest nuclear powers. Lavrov was quoted as saying the US and Nato were obsessed with the idea of inflicting “strategic defeat” on Russia and there were risks in such confrontation that could lead to an increased level of nuclear danger.

Thank you for following today’s latest news. This blog is closing now but you can read all our Ukraine coverage here.

Signal disrupted after Russian air attack hits TV broadcast infrastructure in Kharkiv

A Russian air attack on Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, hit TV broadcast infrastructure, prompting disruptions with the signal, a local official said.

“At the moment, there are interruptions in the digital TV signal,” regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said, adding there were no casualties.

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Russia’s weekly oil refining hit a near 11-month low due to flooding and a slowdown in repairs to plants that were hit by Ukrainian drone attacks, Bloomberg News reported.

“Russia processed 5.22m barrels of crude a day April 11-17,” the report said, citing a person with knowledge of industry data. It added that was about 10,000 barrels a day, or 0.2%, below the average of the prior seven days.

Russian refineries have suffered from Ukrainian drone attacks and technical outages while Moscow has pounded Ukraine’s energy system and cities in an airstrike campaign in recent weeks.

Ukraine attacked eight Russian regions with dozens of long-range strike drones, setting ablaze a fuel depot and hitting three power substations in a major attack early on Saturday, an intelligence source in Kyiv told Reuters.

Global military expenditure has reached a record high of $2440bn (£1970bn) after the largest annual rise in government spending on arms in over a decade, according to a report.

The 6.8% increase between 2022 and 2023 was the steepest since 2009, pushing spending to the highest recorded by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) in its 60-year history.

For the first time, analysts at the thinktank recorded a rise in military outlay in all five geographical regions: Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania and the Americas.

You can read the full story by the Guardian’s chief reporter, Daniel Boffey, here:

The Associated Press has analysed the significance of the US’s $60bn aid package to Ukraine and reported on how the much-needed American assistance could affect the situation on the battlefield as Russia continues gaining new territory.

The Pentagon has said it could get weapons moving to Ukraine within days if the Senate and President Joe Biden give final approval to the aid package.

But experts and Ukrainian lawmakers said it could take weeks for the assistance to reach troops, giving Russia more time to degrade Ukrainian defences.

The seven-month effort to pass the package effectively held Ukraine hostage to the internal politics of its biggest ally.

It also raised concerns about how the shifting sands of American politics will influence future military support.

European partners cannot match the volume and scope of American assistance, which remains Kyiv’s main hope to win the war.

But that support has come with red lines, including rules that forbid using western-supplied weapons for strikes inside the Russian Federation. Some Ukrainian officials argue that such limits handicap their ability to cripple the enemy’s more robust capabilities.

Assuming the assistance arrives in the next two months, plans are afoot for a potential late-summer offensive.

Analysts have argued that future support should not count on one big decisive battle, but a sustained strategy over many years.

But first, Ukraine must hold off Russia’s attempts to break defensive lines and entrenched positions.

Norway will provide Ukraine with new contributions, including funding, to improve the country’s air defence, Norway’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, told the TV2 media outlet.

Støre said there are “significant sums” to be directed to Ukraine’s air defence but did not specify the exact amount or what portion of Oslo’s contribution would be financial or in the form of military equipment.

With Russia having stepped up air attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and cities, EU governments are under pressure to supply more protective systems to Kyiv.

“We will return to that when we present the revised budget,” Støre was quoted as saying.

“It is expensive, but preserving peace and freedom costs money. Those who pay the highest price are Ukraine and Ukrainians.”

“It takes time to produce air defences. This means that you have to send air defences from your own warehouses.”

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We reported earlier that Poland’s president said his country would be ready to host the nuclear weapons of Nato’s other members in response to Russia’s moving its nuclear weapons to neighbouring Belarus.

Under Nato nuclear weapons sharing, the US has provided nuclear weapons for Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey to deploy and store.

In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesperson has said any deployment of US nuclear weapons in Poland would be met with steps necessary for Russia’s security.

“The military will, of course, analyse the situation if such plans are implemented, and in any case will do everything necessary, (will take) all the necessary retaliatory steps to guarantee our safety,” Dmitry Peskov said during a daily news conference.

EU ministers fail to pledge Patriot systems to Ukraine at key meeting

European ministers said on Monday they were looking urgently at how to provide more air defence to Ukraine but they stopped short of concrete pledges of the Patriot systems that Kyiv values most, Retuers reports.

Meeting in Luxembourg, foreign and defence ministers from the EU said the US House of Representatives vote to approve a $60bn Ukraine package at the weekend should not lead to any complacency on their part.

“We can be joyous for a day but we have to be prepared for the battle that is coming tomorrow. Therefore there can be no calming down,” Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters as he arrived at the meeting.

With Russia having stepped up air attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and cities, EU governments are under pressure to supply more protective systems to Kyiv.

But countries that have US-made Patriots – which Ukraine already uses and values highly for their ability to shoot down fast-moving ballistic missiles – were non-committal on Monday.

Since Kyiv began a push for more Patriots in recent weeks, Germany has been the only EU country to pledge an extra battery.

Berlin is also leading a drive to get more air defence from other countries for Ukraine, through donations of equipment and financial contributions.

Other European countries including Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden also have Patriot systems.

Officials say it is hard for countries to part with Patriots as they are an integral part of national defences.

Ukrainian officials have countered that the risk of EU countries coming under air attack is extremely low, while Ukraine faces such attacks frequently.

Swedish defence minister Pal Jonson said Stockholm had already agreed to give air defence weapons to Ukraine, including the RBS 70 portable system.

Asked if Sweden would also provide Patriots, he said: “I don’t exclude that possibility but right now we’re focused on a financial contribution but also possibly (more) RBS 70 because that could alleviate some of the pressure on the Patriots.”

Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares said: “We are well aware of Ukraine’s need for air defence, and especially Patriots and Spain has always done whatever it could.”

He added: “Since it is a real war, I’m not really a friend of the idea of disclosing too much about what we give, when and from where.”

Earlier we reported on a meeting between EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. We have some more comments from the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, about support for Ukraine:

When asked about the length of time it is taking for EU member states to “step up and do something more for Ukraine”, he said: “Look, we are working for Ukraine every day, not only the day there is a council. We prepare decisions, we inform the member states, we analyse the situation, we present requests, we see what they can do. It is not just because there is a council – and I understand that it is the day of the press – but to support Ukraine, we work every day.

“And today is the day for the member states to see what they can do, which are the needs and if, definitely, they are able to present proposals. But I cannot tell you before, I will tell you after [the meeting].”

He also commented on EU member states’s “capacity to increase support for Ukraine”.

“You know that we have been giving a lot of warnings, letters, asking them to see what we can do. We need more ammunition. We need more launchers, [but] launchers without the interceptors is like a cannon [or] like a gun without ammunition. We need both.

“We need to supply interceptors to the batteries that they already have, and increase the number of batteries. And let’s see what the member states are able to supply, because in Brussels we do not have [it], it is the member states who have it.”

The increase of EU’s military support to Ukraine is on top of the agenda at the jumbo EU Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers’ Council. “Today is the day for the Member States to see if they are able to present proposals”, said HR/VP @JosepBorrellF ahead of the meeting. pic.twitter.com/NVcm6yohqV

— European External Action Service – EEAS 🇪🇺 (@eu_eeas) April 22, 2024

Summary of the day so far…

  • Russia said on Monday its forces had taken control of the village of Novomykhailivka, 40 km (25 miles) southwest of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the second advance it has announced in two days. The guardian has not yet verified the claim, reported by the defence ministry. Ukraine’s General Staff said in its regular morning report that Kyiv’s forces continued to hold back Russian attempts to advance near the village. Russia said yesterday its forces had gained territory near the key battleground of Chasiv Yar in east Ukraine, taking control of Bogdanivka, a small village less than three kilometres (two miles) northeast of the town.

  • The Kremlin has played down the significance of the $60.7bn US aid package for Ukraine, saying it will not change the situation on the frontlines. “The Russian armed forces are improving their positions at the front … The money allocated and the weapons that will be supplied will not change this dynamic,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “They will lead to new victims on the Ukrainian side. More Ukrainians will die, Ukraine will suffer greater losses.”

  • EU ministers said Europe “cannot relax” its support for Kyiv after the US House of Representatives passed the long-delayed military aid package for Ukraine. Baiba Braže, Latvia’s new foreign minister, warned against slackening the EU’s efforts to aid Ukraine in its defence against the continuing Russian attack. “We dodged a historic bullet, but unfortunately many more bullets are on the way. Therefore we can be joyous today but we have to be prepared for the battle that is coming tomorrow,” Braže’s Lithuanian counterpart, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said. “We have to continue to speak about how we are going to assist Ukraine further.” EU foreign ministers are meeting today to discuss the war in Ukraine and crisis in the Middle East.

  • Greece and Spain are under mounting pressure from their EU and Nato allies to provide more air defence systems to Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.

  • Poland is ready to host nuclear arms if Nato decides to deploy the weapons in the face of Russia reinforcing its armaments in Belarus and Kaliningrad, the country’s president, Andrzej Duda, said in an interview published on Monday. “If our allies decide to deploy nuclear arms on our territory as part of nuclear sharing, to reinforce Nato’s eastern flank, we are ready to do so,” Duda said in an interview published by the Fakt daily.

  • Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned that the support of the US, Britain and France for Ukraine was stoking serious strategic risks that had raised the risk of a direct confrontation between the world’s biggest nuclear powers. Lavrov was quoted as saying the US and Nato were obsessed with the idea of inflicting “strategic defeat” on Russia and there were risks in such confrontation that could lead to an increased level of nuclear danger.

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We have some more information on Russia’s claim that its forces have taken control of the village of Novomykhailivka (see earlier post at 11.50 for more details).

Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement that its Southern group of forces had fully taken Novomykhailivka “and improved the tactical situation along the frontline”.

The Russian gains, if confirmed, underline the urgency for Ukraine of taking delivery of more than $60bn in new US military aid that the House of Representatives approved over the weekend.

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Peter Tschentscher, the mayor of the German city of Hamburg, has arrived in Kyiv to show his support for Ukraine.

“Our support in the crisis must continue. Hamburg continues to stand firmly by the side of the people of Ukraine,” the city’s senate wrote in a post on X.

„Unsere Unterstützung in der Krise muss fortgeführt werden. Hamburg steht weiterhin fest an der Seite der Menschen in der Ukraine.“ Mit dieser Botschaft im Gepäck ist Bürgermeister @TschenPe heute mit dem Nachtzug in Kyiv angekommen. pic.twitter.com/sCoc1e3lzv

— Hamburger Senat (@Senat_Hamburg) April 22, 2024

In a separate post, Tschentscher said he will be speaking with Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, about cooperation between the two cities, among other topics.

Kyiv and Hamburg signed the ‘Pact for Solidarity & Future’ in April 2022, forming a strategic partnership and agreeing to support one another in times of crisis.

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A bipartisan delegation of US lawmakers have arrived in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in a show of solidarity with troops continuing to fight against the Russian invasion.

The visit comes after US House speaker, Mike Johnson, ended months of stalling on the aid package for Ukraine’s desperate defence against Russia – as well as billions for allies including Israel and Taiwan – and finally forced a vote on it in the House of Representatives on Saturday.

In a bipartisan vote, 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans joined to support Ukraine, with 112 Republicans – a majority of the GOP members – voting against.

Russia says it has taken control of village in Ukraine’s Donetsk region

Russian forces have taken control of the village of Novomykhailivka 40 kilometres southwest of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Russia’s defence ministry has said.

Ukraine’ General Staff said in its regular morning report on Monday that Kyiv forces continued to hold back Russian attempts to advance near the village.

Neither of the claims have yet been independently verified by the Guardian.

Russia said on Sunday its forces had gained territory near the key battleground of Chasiv Yar in east Ukraine, taking control of Bogdanivka, a small frontline village less than three kilometres (two miles) northeast of the town.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged the US Senate to rapidly ratify the long-delayed military aid package passed by Congress over the weekend, warning that his country was preparing its defences amid fears there could be a large Russian offensive before the fresh supplies reach the frontline.

Moscow’s forces have been able to outshell Kyiv by a ratio of at least five to one, rising to 10 to 1, meaning that Ukrainian artillery have been increasingly unable to prevent Russian forces from massing in advance of ground attacks.

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Ukraine’s national railway operator, Ukrzaliznytsia, has lifted its temporary ban on all cargo transportation in the direction of the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk, the company has said.

Ukrzaliznytsia said earlier this month it had suspended all deliveries to Chornomorsk for April 11-17 and then extended it to 22 April. It gave no reason for the decisions.

Ukrainian media reported that Russian attacks may have damaged railway tracks to the port’s cargo terminals.

Chornomorsk, near the southern city of Odesa, is one of Ukraine’s biggest seaports. The Odesa region, key to Ukrainian exports, is under almost daily attack from Russian drones and missiles targeting energy and transport infrastructure.

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