For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
Recap of April 25
* Russia unleashed a string of attacks against Ukrainian rail and fuel facilities, striking crucial infrastructure far from the front line of its eastern offensive.
* Ukraine's defense ministry said Russia was continuing to attack in eastern Ukraine but was being pushed back.
* Britain’s defense ministry said Russia has “yet to achieve a significant breakthrough” in the eastern Donbas region.
* Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration has recommended placing people inside ministries, government agencies, and state-owned companies to spread the Kremlin's political agenda among employees -- a move that harks back to Soviet times -- amid concern over fraying support.
* Three NATO warships arrived in the southwestern Finnish port of Turku to train with Finland's navy, as Helsinki considers the possibility of joining the U.S.-led alliance amid increased tensions with Russia over Ukraine.
* Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the number of refugees fleeing violence has reached nearly 5.2 million.
* Ukraine has denied that an agreement was reached with Russia to form a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to escape a steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol, and said Russia continued to attack the plant.
* Ukraine has said the United Nations should step in to oversee an evacuation route for civilians from the besieged steel mill in Mariupol.
* The International Criminal Court (ICC) will take part in the joint team investigating allegations of war crimes in Ukraine following the Russian invasion
* U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Chief Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in Kyiv.
* U.S. President Joe Biden named Bridget Brink, who currently represents the United States in Slovakia, as the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
* U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara and with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. Guterres then goes to Kyiv on Thursday to meet with Zelenskyy.
* French President Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected on Sunday, and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in a congratulatory phone call to "rapidly" hold more detailed discussions on global issues, including the war in Ukraine.
* Russia is expelling 40 German diplomats in response to Germany expelling the same number of Russian diplomats earlier this month.
* Russia’s Energy Ministry says a massive fire at an oil depot in western Russia will not cause fuel shortages. The ministry said fuel supplies to consumers haven’t been interrupted and noted that the region has enough diesel fuel for 15 days.
* Greenpeace activists sought to block a tanker from delivering Russian oil to Norway, chaining themselves to the vessel in a protest against the war in Ukraine.
* The Director General of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, is leading the first “full-fledged assistance mission” to Ukraine starting Tuesday.
* The EU is preparing “smart sanctions” against Russian oil imports according to The Times newspaper.
* Moscow said it had arrested members of a "neo-Nazi terrorist" group in Russia who allegedly planned to assassinate pro-Kremlin TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov on orders from Ukraine.
The latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
9:14 p.m.: The Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera are organizing a Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra to tour Europe and America from July 28 to Aug. 20, The Associated Press reported. The orchestra is to gather in Warsaw on July 18 for rehearsals and will include musicians from Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and Odesa. plus Ukrainian members of European orchestras, the companies said, according to the AP.
8:22 p.m.: The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed the urgent need for “effective access through humanitarian corridors” to evacuate Ukrainian civilians and deliver humanitarian aid to communities impacted by the war, The Associated Press reported. Guterres met with Erdogan in Ankara on Monday. The U.N. leader will head to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and then with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday.
7:08 p.m.: Officials in Mariupol say a new mass grave has been identified north of the city, The Associated Press reported. Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities are trying to estimate the number of victims in the grave about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) north of Mariupol, the AP reported.
6:20 p.m.: After U.S. officials announced military aid to Ukraine would increase as American diplomats slowly return to Kyiv, Ukrainians say the moves may mean little in the short-term for eastern Ukraine, where war continues to escalate. VOA's Heather Murdock reports with Yan Boechat from Dnipro, Ukraine.
5:57 p.m.: The U.S. State Department used an emergency declaration for the first time during the Biden administration to approve the potential sale of $165 million worth of ammunition to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russia's ongoing invasion, the Pentagon said, according to Reuters.
4:38 p.m.: Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press that although Ukraine and Russia have held talks on ending the war since its early days, Kuleba said he thought anything lower than discussions between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin would bring little resolution. On his Russian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kuleba told the AP: “I don’t think he’s ready for a serious conversation." He added that he didn't think Russia is ready to find “solutions at the negotiating table.”
2:30 p.m.: There appears to be no end in sight to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the war enters its third month. Now, some Americans are trying to join the battle to defend Ukraine. VOA’s Nina Vishneva has this story.
2:26 p.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Moscow later Monday, to meet President Vladimir Putin and have a working lunch with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported. Guterres’ spokesman said the U.N. chief is going to Moscow and then to Kyiv on Thursday, because he feels there is a “concrete opportunity” for progress. “You can see that even the willingness of the parties to meet with him, to discuss things with him, is an opening,” Spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. Guterres has made repeated calls for a humanitarian cease-fire or a brief pause in fighting which have not come about.
2:22 p.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron, who was re-elected on Sunday, and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed in a congratulatory phone call on Monday to "rapidly" hold more detailed discussions on global issues, including the war in Ukraine, the Elysee said. According to a readout after the call, Macron and Biden agreed to intensify their dialogue on "major global issues... And in particular on global issues related to the war in Ukraine such as food security," Reuters reported. "Biden conveyed his readiness to continue working closely with President Macron on our shared global priorities," the White House said in a separate statement.
1:49 p.m.: The Director General of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, is leading the first “full-fledged assistance mission” to Ukraine his agency tweeted Monday. The team will arrive at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on Tuesday to improve safety and security at the facility.
1:32 p.m.: Four people including two children were killed on Monday in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region where Russia is on the offensive, the region's governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. Russia denies targeting civilians. Kyrylenko said on Telegram that a 9-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were among those killed, Reuters reported.
12:52 p.m.: Ukraine has denied that an agreement was reached with Russia to form a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to escape a steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol, and said Russia continued to attack the plant on Monday. The sprawling steel complex has remained the last bulwark of Ukrainian resistance in the strategic Sea of Azov port city. "The enemy continues to attack our defenses in the area of the Azovstal plant using aircraft, artillery...firing with tanks and trying to advance with assault groups," Oleksiy Arestovych, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this update.
12:37 p.m.: Ukrainian mine-clearance teams are combing through urban and agricultural land for unexploded munitions left behind following two months of Russian shelling. Reporter Borys Sachalko and camerman Serhiy Dykun watched the teams at work near the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. They have this report for Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.
12:28 p.m.: The British government says it believes 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow launched its invasion two months ago, The Associated Press reported. Russia has acknowledged 1,351 military casualties. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said 25 percent of the Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered not combat effective,” and Russia had lost more than 2,000 armored vehicles and more than 60 helicopters and fighter planes.
12:19 p.m.: Ukraine's military command said on Monday that Russia was trying to bomb Ukraine's rail infrastructure in order to disrupt arms supplies from foreign countries, Reuters reported. "They are trying to destroy the supply routes of military-technical assistance from partner states. To do this, they focus strikes on railway junctions," the armed forces command wrote in a post on Facebook.
11:51 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal addressed U.S. legislators on Monday, and asked for more support and sanctions to assist in his country’s fight against Russia. Schmyhal posted some photos from his online address on Twitter.
11:45 a.m.: The U.N. has revised its humanitarian flash appeal for Ukraine to $2.25billion, more than double what was requested on March 1. The U.N. says continued international support is essential to reach those whose lives have been upended by the war, VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported Monday.
11:36 a.m.: A senior U.S. State Department official predicted Monday that ultimately, a negotiated settlement might have to be found to end the conflict in Ukraine, VOA State Department Correspondent Nike Ching reported.
11:22 a.m.: Britain will send a small number of Stormer armored vehicles fitted with launchers for anti-air missiles to Ukraine, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Monday. Wallace added that British assessments showed that around 15,000 Russian personnel had been killed in the conflict while 2,000 armored vehicles including some 530 tanks had been destroyed, along with 60 helicopters and fighter jets, Reuters reported. "I can now announce to the House that we will be gifting a small number of armored vehicles fitted with launchers for those anti-air missiles," he said.
11:17 a.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday and reaffirmed their “common objective” to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, according to a U.N. spokesperson. The U.N. chief is scheduled to travel to Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is also expected to meet travel to Ukraine later in the week and meet there with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
11:03 a.m.: The U.S. State Department says it has approved the sale of $165 million in legacy Warsaw Pact ammunition and other non-standard ammunition to Ukraine to help in its defense against Russia, The Associated Press reported. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved the potential sale and has provided the legally required notification to Congress. Lawmakers can block weapons sales but are unlikely to do so because of strong support for Ukraine following the February 24 invasion. The sale came at the request of Ukraine’s government and includes rounds for mortars, automatic grenade launchers, and howitzers.
10:59 a.m.: The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday tweeted “before” and “after” photos of a shopping center in the southern port city of Mariupol, which has been the target of weeks of heavy Russian military bombardments.
10:44 a.m.: Moscow said Monday it had arrested members of a "neo-Nazi terrorist" group in Russia who allegedly planned to assassinate pro-Kremlin TV anchor Vladimir Solovyov on orders from Ukraine. "The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation detained a group of members of the neo-Nazi terrorist organization National Socialism/White Power, which is banned in Russia," Russia's FSB security agency said in a statement carried by news agencies, adding that those arrested are Russian citizens. A staunch supporter of Putin and Russia's military campaign in Ukraine, Solovyov is under EU sanctions for spreading state "propaganda," according to Agence France-Presse.
10:36 a.m.: The political, economic, national security, and humanitarian reverberations from the eight weeks of war between Russia and Ukraine are already beginning to reshape the global order, The Harvard Gazette reported Monday. It discussed the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine so far with Douglas Lute, a decorated (retired) U.S. Army lieutenant general who served as U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO from 2013-2017 and is now a fellow at the Belfer Center within the Harvard Kennedy School.
10:22 a.m.: Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov on Monday tweeted a video clip of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greeting him and other Ukrainian officials during Austin’s recent visit to the capital Kyiv with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
10:14 a.m.: Russia is expelling 40 German diplomats in response to Germany expelling the same number of Russian diplomats earlier this month, The Associated Press reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that it had summoned German ambassador Geza Andreas von Geyr for a “strong protest at the clearly unfriendly decision” to expel the Russian diplomatic staff. Germany announced the expulsion of 40 Russian diplomats on April 4 following mounting evidence of civilian killings and mass graves in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
10:08 a.m.: The International Criminal Court (ICC) will take part in the joint team investigating allegations of war crimes in Ukraine following the Russian invasion, the European Union's agency for criminal justice cooperation said on Monday. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and the Prosecutors General from Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine signed an agreement for the international war crimes tribunal's first-ever participation in an investigative team, Eurojust said, according to Reuters.
9:41 a.m.: Ukraine's defense ministry said on Monday Russia was continuing to attack in eastern Ukraine but was being pushed back, Reuters reported. Defense Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said Russian forces had attempted to break through the defenses of towns including Rubizhne, Popasna, Sievierodonetsk, Maryinka and Avdiivka, and was attempting to advance from the town of Izyum towards Barvinkove and Sloviansk.
9:30 a.m.: Ukrainian authorities say at least five people have been killed by Russian strikes on the central Vynnytsia region, The Associated Press reported. The Vynnytsia regional prosecutor said another 18 people were wounded in Monday’s Russian missile strikes on the towns of Zhmerynka and Koziatyn. Vynnytsia regional governor Serhiy Borzov said earlier that the Russian missiles targeted “critical infrastructure” but didn’t elaborate. The Vynnytsia region is fully controlled by Ukraine and is far behind the front lines.
9:27 a.m.: The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, says her team has returned to the capital Kyiv and is preparing for the visit of the U.N. Secretary General later this week.
9:16 a.m.: Thousands of people gathered across Australia and New Zealand on Monday to honor military personnel on Anzac Day, Reuters reported. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended the dawn service in the Northern Territory city of Darwin, where he also paid tribute to the people of Ukraine who are fighting a Russian invasion. “On this particular day, as we honor those who fought for our liberty and freedom, we stand with the people of Ukraine who do the same thing at this very moment,” Morrison said. Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows peace cannot be taken for granted. The Ukraine flag was flown during an Anzac Day dawn service at Auckland Museum.
9:03 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration has recommended placing people inside ministries, government agencies, and state-owned companies to spread the Kremlin's political agenda among employees -- a move that harks back to Soviet times -- amid concern over fraying support, Kommersant reported. The newspaper said the officials -- referred to as "political instructors" -- would be responsible for informing employees of the Kremlin's political views and monitoring their frame of mind. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.
8:46 a.m.: Ukraine has said the United Nations should step in to oversee an evacuation route for civilians from the besieged steel mill in Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian troops in the port city, The Associated Press reported. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on the Telegram messaging app that a Russian announcement of a “humanitarian corridor” out of the Azovstal plant later Monday was not agreed to with Ukraine. Vereshchuk added that Ukraine does not consider the route safe for that reason and said Russia had breached agreements on similar evacuation routes before.
8:24 a.m.: Russia’s Energy Ministry says a massive fire at an oil depot in western Russia will not cause fuel shortages, The Associated Press reported. The ministry said in a statement that Monday’s fire inflicted damage to a depot containing diesel fuel in Bryansk, and authorities are dealing with the consequences of the blaze. The ministry said fuel supplies to consumers haven’t been interrupted and noted that the region has enough diesel fuel for 15 days. The Emergencies Ministry said earlier that a huge blaze erupted overnight at the depot. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blaze.
7:56 a.m.: Greenpeace activists sought to block a tanker on Monday from delivering Russian oil to Norway, chaining themselves to the vessel in a protest against the war in Ukraine, the advocacy group said. "Oil is not only at the root of the climate crisis, but also of wars and conflicts. I am shocked that Norway operates as a free port for Russian oil, which we know finances Putin's warfare," Greenpeace Norway head Frode Pleym said, according to Reuters.
7:48 a.m.: Russia unleashed a string of attacks against Ukrainian rail and fuel facilities Monday, striking crucial infrastructure far from the front line of its eastern offensive, The Associated Press reported. Meanwhile, two fires were reported at oil facilities in western Russia. It was not clear what caused the blazes. Both sides in the 2-month-old war brace for what could be a grinding battle of attrition in the country’s eastern industrial heartland. In meetings with Ukraine’s president in Kyiv Sunday, the American secretaries of state and defense pledged more help to ensure Ukraine prevails.
7:33 a.m.: Germany will decide soon on whether to approve the delivery of 100 old Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, a government spokesperson said on Monday, in what would be the first German heavy weapons shipment to Ukraine. German defense company Rheinmetall has requested approval to export the vehicles to Ukraine, a defense source told Reuters on Monday, aiming to restore them over the coming months before shipping them.
7:12 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday named Bridget Brink, who currently represents the United States in Slovakia, as the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the White House said in a statement. The position must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The United States promised on Monday to reopen its embassy in Kyiv soon, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ukraine’s capital and hailed its success so far against Russia’s invasion. American diplomats will start returning to Ukraine this week. Returning U.S. diplomats will go first to the western city of Lviv and then eventually to Kyiv, a process that Blinken said could take several weeks.
6:20 a.m.: Russia’s defense ministry said Monday it would open a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the area around the Azovstal steel factory in the southern city of Mariupol. The site has been the last holdout for Ukrainian forces in the city who have refused Russian demands to surrender.
5:40 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia warned the United States against sending more arms to Ukraine, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington told Russian state television.
“We stressed the unacceptability of this situation when the United States of America pours weapons into Ukraine, and we demanded an end to this practice,” Anatoly Antonov said in an interview with the Rossiya 24 TV channel.
Antonov said an official diplomatic note had been sent to Washington expressing Russia’s concerns. He said such arms supplies from the United States would further aggravate the situation and raised the stakes of the conflict.
4:40 a.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday and with Putin in Moscow on Tuesday. Guterres then goes to Kyiv on Thursday to meet with Zelenskyy.
Zelenskyy spoke by phone Sunday with Erdogan, who said again that Turkey is prepared to assist in talks between Ukraine and Russia.
Speaking to reporters in Poland earlier on Guterres’ planned trip, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “our expectation is that he’s [Guterres is] going to carry a very strong and clear message to Vladimir Putin, which is the need to end this war now, the need for a cease-fire, the need for humanitarian corridors, for aid to get in, for people to be able to get out, the need for Russia to stop its brutalization of Ukraine,” Blinken said. “It’s a clear, direct message that he should be carrying on behalf of virtually the entire international community.”
4:05 a.m.: Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the number of refugees fleeing violence has reached nearly 5.2 million according to the latest data by the U.N.’s agency for refugees. The UNHCR data shows that most of the refugees have sought refuge through countries located in the western border of Ukraine. About 2.9 million refugees have fled into Poland, more than 750,000 fled into Romania and 490,000 into Hungary from Ukraine.
3:31 a.m.:U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Poland after visiting Kyiv along with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that while Russia is trying to “brutalize” parts of Ukraine, “Ukrainians are standing strong, and they’re doing that with the support that we have coordinated from literally around the world.”
Blinken said he and Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials for about three hours to both demonstrate U.S. support and to hear from Zelenskyy what his country needs as the conflict moves forward.
“We want to do everything we can to help the Ukrainians bring this to an end on the best possible terms as quickly as possible,” Blinken said.
Zelenskyy’s office said his discussions with Blinken and Austin on Monday included security guarantees along with defense and financial aid for Ukraine. A statement said the Ukrainian side put a particular focus on increasing sanctions against Russia. “We understand what the next steps on this track should be. And we count on the support of our partners,” Zelenskyy said.
3:15 a.m.: Five railway stations came under fire in western and central Ukraine on Monday, causing an unspecified number of casualties, Ukrainian television quoted state-run Ukrainian Railways as saying.
According to Reuters, Company Chief Oleksander Kamyshin said the attacks took place in the space of an hour; details were being checked.
2:30 a.m.: The European Union is preparing “smart sanctions” against Russian oil imports, The Times reported on Monday, citing the European Commission’s executive vice president, Valdis Dombrovskis, according to Reuters.
“We are working on a sixth sanctions package and one of the issues we are considering is some form of an oil embargo. When we are imposing sanctions, we need to do so in a way that maximizes pressure on Russia while minimizing collateral damage on ourselves,” Dombrovskis told The Times. He said precise details of the oil sanctions had not yet been agreed upon but could include a gradual phasing-out of Russian oil or imposing tariffs on exports beyond a certain price cap, the newspaper reported.
2:20 a.m.: April 24 marks two months of the war in Ukraine, and Easter for Orthodox Christians, the vast majority of the country’s population. Services this year in battle-worn areas were often sparse amid growing numbers of deaths, injuries, and families fleeing their homes. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Irpin in Ukraine with Yan Boechat in Kharkiv.
1:30 a.m.: Britain’s defense ministry said Monday that Russia has “yet to achieve a significant breakthrough” since turning its focus in Ukraine to the eastern Donbas region. The ministry added that Ukraine’s defense of the southern port city of Mariupol has “exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness.”
12:01 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Chief Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in Kyiv on Sunday in the highest-level visit by an American delegation since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine. VOA's Nike Ching has the story.