AN EXPERT has claimed that a ‘revealing’ conversation between Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, and his defence minister has sent a clear message – but not the one he was hoping for.

Russian media broadcast a painfully staged conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Sergei Shoigu, his defence minister where the pair discussed and reflected on concerns about the conflict.

Putin told Shoigu: “We must always think, but even more so in this case – about preserving the life and health of our soldiers and officers”.

Adding to his 'supposed' concern about the welfare of his troops on the ground the President said: “Please submit proposals for awarding our distinguished soldiers for state awards.

“It is clear that in such cases it cannot be otherwise, these are different awards, but I want them all to know: in our understanding, they are all heroes, in the understanding of all of Russia.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, Leonid Volkov, chief of staff to the jailed Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny, has said the broadcast is a “revealing moment”.

Volkov added that Putin's public pronouncements are always only what they want to hear.

“When Putin says something in public, it is almost always the result of the fact that the presidential administration took measurements of public opinion and came to the conclusion that now it is necessary to speak in order to earn political points.”

Follow our Russia-Ukraine live blog below for up-to-the-minute updates…

  • Milica Cosic

    Possible mass graves near Mariupol as Russia attacks in east

    Mounds of dirt seen in satellite imagery that Ukrainian officials say indicate new mass graves highlighted the savagery of a war that showed no signs of abating today.

    Cities in the Donbas came under Russian fire overnight, and the attacks interfered with attempts to evacuate civilians in one area, according to a regional official.

    On Thursday, the Russian leader claimed victory in the battle for Mariupol, even though an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian remain holed up at a giant steel mill in the strategic city. Putin ordered his troops not to storm the stronghold but to seal it off in an apparent bid to free up troops for the broader campaign in the east.

    Hours later, Maxar Technologies released new satellite images that it said showed more than 200 graves in a town near Mariupol, and local officials accused Russia of burying thousands of civilians there.

    Russia said again today that second phase of the war was underway but instead of a full-out assault, scattered towns in the east have experienced the intimidating thuds of incoming shells that drive citizens out in panic.

  • Milica Cosic

    UN: Russian actions in Ukraine may amount to war crimes

    Russian actions in Ukraine, which have included summary executions of civilians and levelling of civilian infrastructure, may amount to war crimes, the UN said on Friday.

    "Our work to date has detailed a horror story of violations perpetrated against civilians," United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Friday.

    "Over these eight weeks, international humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside," she said.

    "Russian armed forces have indiscriminately shelled and bombed populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, actions that may amount to war crimes," said spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.

    In the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, a UN rights monitoring mission has documented that 50 civilians had been killed there, including by summary execution, Shamdasani said.

    "Almost every resident in Bucha our colleagues spoke to told us about the death of a relative, a neighbour or even a stranger. We know much more needs to be done to uncover what happened there and we also know Bucha is not an isolated incident," Bachelet said.

    The UN mission has received more than 300 allegations of killings of civilians in areas around Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy that were under Russian control until early March.

  • Milica Cosic

    Pope calls off meeting with head of Russian Orthodox Church

    Pope Francis has cancelled plans to meet with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, according to the Argentine newspaper La Nacion.

    The 85-year-old pontiff had been considering meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Jerusalem on 14 June.

    However, Francis has now told La Nacion that he regretted the plan had to be "suspended" because Vatican diplomats advised that such a meeting "could lend itself to much confusion at this moment".

    It would have been only their second meeting. 

  • Milica Cosic

    UN: ‘50’ civilians executed in Bucha

    The United Nations has said that fifty Ukrainian civilians have been killed in Bucha, a city in the Kyiv region.

    Some were killed by “summary execution,” the organisation added.

    The remarks, made by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet, came in a statement. She said: “Over these eight weeks, international humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside”.

    “Almost every resident in Bucha our colleagues spoke to told us about the death of a relative, a neighbour or even a stranger,” Ms Bachelet added.

    “We know much more needs to be done to uncover what happened there and we also know Bucha is not an isolated incident.”

  • Milica Cosic

    'Vladimir Wanted'

    In Halle, eastern Germany, graffiti has been painted on the sides of buildings, condemning Vladimir Putin's war on Ukriane.

    Pictured below, a pedestrian walks up the steps near a graffiti with the portrait of Russian president Vladimir Putin and the inscription "Bloody Vladimir wanted" on a wall at the University square.

    G with the portrait of Russian president Putin on a wall in eastern Germany on April 20, 2022. (Photo by JENS SCHLUETER/AFP via Getty Images)Credit: AFP
  • Milica Cosic

    Britain & India call for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine

    India and Britain have today called on Russia for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine – as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced steps to help move New Delhi away from its dependence on Russia by expanding economic and defence ties.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi told reporters that both sides discussed the situation in Ukraine.

    "Both sides also called for a free, open, inclusive and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific,'' Modi said.

    Johnson switched over to Hindi language to describe Modi as a "Khaas Dost," or special friend, and said, "Our relations have never been as strong or as good between us as they are now".

  • Milica Cosic

    Kremlin: Russian forces struck 58 military targets in Ukraine overnight

    Russia's defence ministry has said that a total of 58 military targets were struck overnight in Ukraine.

    This includes sites where troops, fuel depots and military equipment were concentrated, the ministry added.

    The ministry also said it had struck three targets using high-precision missiles in Ukraine, including an S-300 air defence system and a large concentration of Ukrainian troops with their equipment. 

    Ukraine is yet to comment on the claims.

  • Milica Cosic

    Australia targets Putin's daughters with more sanctions

    The Australian government has imposed sanctions and travel bans on two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's daughter, it said in a statement today.

    It follows similar measures undertaken by other Western nations including the United States and Britain, and takes the total number of people and entities in Russia subject to Australian sanctions to nearly 750.

    The fresh round of sanctions also targets 144 Russian senators who provided support to President Putin by approving the "illegitimate" recognition as independent the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine on Feb. 22, Australia's foreign ministry said in its statement.

    Foreign Minister Marisa Payne added that Australia will continue to increase costs on Russia by targeting those who bear responsibility for the "unjustified and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine".

  • Milica Cosic

    'UK needed to plan for the long-term implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine'

    Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who is chair of the defence select committee in the UK parliament, told Sky News that the UK government needed to plan for the long-term implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Ellwood said: "Our policy in Ukraine began back in 2014, under a very different prime minister, who sought to arm and train the Ukrainian forces. That’s been upgraded today. We’re moving even further than that.

    "And there is going to be a lull around the corner where Ukraine activities will die down, for us to then look at domestic affairs. The security in Europe is about to decay over the next decade. We’re still absent of a strategy.

    "You know, what does all this weapon systems that we’re giving to Ukraine, where does it lead to? Are we content with seeing part of Donbas remain in Russians hands? Or are we going to go back to 2000, pre-2014 borders, and push Russia out?

    "This is where I would like to go. Otherwise, Putin will simply do all this again, because he’ll survive, and then he’ll attack another country in a couple of years time."

  • Milica Cosic

    Sweden to help repair Ukraine's power network

    weden is helping Ukraine to rebuild a secure electricity supply by sending equipment to repair electricity networks destroyed during the war.

    Swedish Energy Minister Khashayar Farmanbar said a secure electricity supply is necessary to maintain socially important activities in Ukraine.

  • Milica Cosic

    50,000 remain trapped in Mariupol

    Ukraine's deputy prime minister has told Sky News that 50,000 remain trapped in Mariupol.

    Iryna Vereshchuk, speaking from a reception centre in the eastern city of Zaporizhia, said: "At least 50,000 people who want to leave Mariupol."

    "The mission is not accomplished. We opened the green corridor for thousands of people. And we expected at least 5000 people. But we have only 79 people. This is what Russia does."

  • Milica Cosic

    FINA suspends Olympic champion Rylov over Putin rally

    Swimming's world governing body FINA said today it had suspended Russian Olympic gold medallist Evgeny Rylov for nine months after he attended a rally in Moscow in support of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.

    Rylov, who won gold in 100 and 200 metres backstroke events at last year's Tokyo Olympics, was among several athletes who attended a massive rally at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium last month hosted by President Vladimir Putin.

    Rylov and other athletes wore the letter "Z" on their outfit, an identifying symbol used by supporters of what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

    FINA said the suspension came "following Mr. Rylov's attendance and conduct at an event held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow".

    There was no immediate reaction from Rylov, who also lost his sponsorship deal with swimwear maker Speedo over his presence at the rally.

  • Milica Cosic

    Mayor of Mariupol issues new appeal for full evacuation of civilians

    The mayor of Mariupol has issued a new appeal for the “full evacuation” of the southern Ukrainian city.

    Russia now claims the city has fallen into its hands apart from the Azovstal metalworks, which President Vladimir Putin has ordered to be blockaded.

    “We need only one thing – the full evacuation of the population. About 100,000 people remain in Mariupol,” Reuters reports mayor Vadym Boichenko saying on national television.

  • Milica Cosic

    Belarus Federation: Wimbledon ban will ‘incite hatred and intolerance’

    The decision to on Wednesday bar Russian and Belarusian players from participating in Wimbledon will incite “hatred and intolerance”, said the Belarus Tennis Federation.

    “The Belarusian Tennis Federation categorically condemns the decision of the Wimbledon organizers to suspend the Belarusian and Russian tennis players,” BTF said in a statement on Thursday, adding that they are seeking legal opinion over the ban.

    It added that the “unlawful decision of the international tennis organisations concerning our tennis players undermine… the reputation of these organisations.”

    “BTF management is still consulting with international law firms on sports law and developing a strategy that is aimed primarily at protecting the Belarusian tennis players around the world and tennis in the Republic of Belarus".

  • Milica Cosic

    Putin's 'lover' reappears in Moscow

    Russian President, Vladimir Putin's 'lover' Alina Kabaeva, 38, has reappeared in Moscow.

    Vladimir Putin’s alleged mistress has reappeared with a “new look” following rumours she was hiding in a Swiss bolthole or a Siberian nuclear bunker.

    Olympic gold-medal winning Alina Kabaeva, 38, surfaced at a junior rhythmic gymnastics rehearsal in Moscow.

    Pictures evidently showed her at the city’s VTB Arena this week ahead of the annual Alina Festival charitable event scheduled for tomorrow (SAT).

    Russian Cosmopolitan, avoiding linking her to Putin, reported of a woman widely believed to be Russia’s unofficial first lady: “Alina Kabaeva is one of the most mysterious and secretive women in our country.

    “The gymnast almost never appears in public, does not [appear in] social networks, and it is not possible to accidentally see her on the street or in shopping centres.”

  • Milica Cosic

    No humanitarian corridors in Ukraine today

    There will be no humanitarian corridors open today in Ukraine, according to deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk.

    Announcing the news on messaging platform Telegram, she said: “Due to the danger on the routes today, 22 April, there will be no humanitarian corridors.

    "I appeal to all those who are waiting for the evacuation: be patient, please hold on!”

  • Milica Cosic

    Zelensky: Russian gains to the east are temporary

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told Russia its recent gains in the east of the country are only temporary.

    He added that Putin's troops will be forced back across the border.

    Zelensky made the comments in his latest video message to the nation, and said: "In the south and east of our country, the occupiers continue to do everything to have a reason to talk about at least some victories.

    "They are accumulating forces, driving new battalion tactical groups to our land. They are even trying to start the so-called mobilisation in the occupied regions of Ukraine.

    "None of these steps will help Russia in the war against our state. They can only delay the inevitable – the time when the invaders will have to leave our territory. In particular Mariupol – a city that continues to resist Russia, despite everything the occupiers say."

  • Milica Cosic

    MoD: Russian forces 'still suffering from losses sustained earlier in conflict'

    The UK's Ministry of Defence has given it's latest intelligence update and said that President Vladimir Putin's decision to blockade the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol "indicates a desire to contain Ukrainian resistance" and "free up Russian forces".

    The ministry also said a full ground assault by Russia on the plant "would likely incur significant Russian casualties, further decreasing their overall combat effectiveness".

    Despite Russia's renewed focus they are "still suffering from losses sustained earlier in the conflict", the ministry added.

  • Milica Cosic

    Mariupol 'continues to resist'

    The devastated city of Mariupol "continues to resist" despite Russian claims to have captured it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said today, as he welcomed fresh US aid to help confront Moscow's eastern offensive.

    Russia says it has "liberated" the city, with just a few thousand Ukrainian soldiers left in the Azovstal plant complex, where thousands more civilians are also believed to have taken refuge.

    But Zelensky said the battle was continuing, with Russia "doing everything to have a reason to talk about at least some victories."

    "They can only delay the inevitable — the time when the invaders will have to leave our territory, in particular Mariupol, a city that continues to resist Russia, despite everything the occupiers say," he said in a video address.

  • Milica Cosic

    Zelensky: Ukraine needs $7bn in aid a month

    Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has told the world's finance ministers that his country needs $7bn (£5.4bn) every month until the summer to keep functioning.

    He was addressing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank conference via video link from Kyiv.

    Zelensky also said "we will need hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild all this later".

    All countries "must immediately be prepared to break up all relations with Russia," he added.

    Asked whether the IMF would be able to secure the immediate funding that Ukraine needs, the organisation's managing director Kristalina Georgieva told BBC economics editor Faisal Islam: "We found it for the first and second month.

    "We believe that over time this amount is going to go down as the Ukrainian economy in the parts of the country that are not under occupation picks up, and as remittances from those who now work somewhere else start flowing."

  • Milica Cosic

    Local official 'kidnapped by Russians'

    Russian troops have kidnapped a local official who was heading up a humanitarian convoy in the southern Kherson region, Ukraine's deputy prime minister has said.

    Iryna Vereshchuk claimed Kremlin troops offered to free the official in exchange for Russian prisoners of war, but she said that was unacceptable. 

  • Joseph Gamp

    More about Putin’s deadly ‘Satan-2’ missile

    The terrifying 'Satan-2' nuclear missile – launched on Wednesday from Plesetsk spaceport in northern Russia – landed at Kura Missile Test Range on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east of the country, according to Russian defence sources.

    Most worryingly, the separate warheads in the Satan 2 missile are capable of detaching from the main 100-tonne missile before travelling towards their target at hypersonic speeds.

    Russia’s defence ministry bragged the Sarmat ICBM is able to overcome any missile defence systems.

    “Thanks to the energy-mass characteristics of the missile, the range of its combat equipment has fundamentally expanded both in terms of the number of warheads and types, including hypersonic gliders,” the ministry said in a statement.

    It added: “This launch is the first in the state test program. After the completion of the test program, the Sarmat missile system will go into service with the Strategic Missile Forces.”

    Following the launch, Dmitry Rogozin, the director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, claimed on Twitter that the weapon was a “present to NATO and all sponsors of Ukronazism”.

  • Milica Cosic

    Ukrainian spy drones find massive ‘tank graveyard’

    SPY drones have located a massive “tank graveyard” ten miles inside Russia — further underlining the scale of Vladimir Putin’s battlefield losses.

    Reconnaissance flights carried out by a Ukrainian intelligence unit based in a secret bunker near the border filmed dozens of pieces of damaged military hardware dumped in a field.

    Satellite pictures confirmed there were no vehicles at the site at Golovchino village when Putin unleashed his invasion on February 24 and only a handful on March 17, as the botched invasion faltered.

    The Sun was granted exclusive access to join the Ukrainian team which launches its Ukrainian-built Leleka drone daily into Russian airspace with a catapult.

    The 6ft wingspan device — the main aim of which is to seek out Russian artillery guns which are being used to shell Ukraine — can fly for up to 2½ hours.

    We counted 57 military vehicles on the feed it beamed back, including at least 17 tanks. They appeared to be T-72s and more modern T-90s.

  • Milica Cosic

    Satellite images uncover mass graves

    Satellite images have been uncovered, showing what appear to be mass graves in a town near Mariupol, as officials accuse Russia of ‘hiding their military crimes’ there.

    The mayor, Boychenko, earlier said a 30 metre mass grave had been discovered in Manhush, about 11 miles west of Mariupol.

  • Milica Cosic

    Putin's forces attempt to storm Mariupol plant

    VLADIMIR Putin's Russian forces have attempted to storm the base of the last Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, the Ukrainian military said.

    Troops were said to have attacked the Azovstal steel plant, despite an order from President Putin demanding the contrary.

    Most of Mariupol is under Russian control and the city’s mayor Vadym Boychenko said around 100,000 residents remained trapped in the conflict zone.

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