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Ukraine War Briefing: Put All Seized Russian Earnings Into The Fight, EU Leaders Told

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said he will propose the EU use 90% of revenue from Russian assets frozen in Europe to buy arms for Ukraine via the European Peace Facility fund. Borrell said he would propose the remaining 10% be transferred to the EU budget, to be used to boost the capacity of the Ukrainian defence industry. He would submit the proposal to EU member states on Wednesday, ahead of a summit of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.

Russia and Ukraine both reported air attacks in border areas on Tuesday. Russia’s defence ministry said 10 projectiles were fired by Ukrainian multiple rocket launchers and one Tochka-U missile over Belgorod region at about 10pm on Tuesday, and two more missiles including a Patriot over the neighbouring Kursk region. The Belgorod regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said there was heavy shelling in the community of Kozinka, and about 9,000 children would be evacuated from the Russian border city of Belgorod and from several districts in the wider Belgorod region

Intense Russian bombing of Ukraine’s north-eastern border region of Sumy has prompted an order for mass evacuations. Russia has launched 130 missiles of various types, more than 320 Shahed attack drones and almost 900 guided bombs in attacks on Ukraine so far this month, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said. He decried “constant terrorist attacks and strikes” in the Sumy region, where on Tuesday one person was killed in the border community of Velyka Pysarivka, the focal point of evacuations.

A Russian energy ministry official revealed plans to defend oil and gas facilities with missile systems. Successful Ukrainian attacks on refineries within Russia have caused extensive damage in recent days. “We are jointly working, including with colleagues from the Russian National Guard, to cover objects, on installing, accordingly, protection systems such as Pantsir,” Artyom Verkhov told a Russian parliamentary meeting.

Ukraine’s survival is in danger, the US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, has said, as he sought to convince allies that the US was committed to arming Ukrainian forces. The Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, is refusing to call a vote on a bill that would provide another $60bn in assistance. On Tuesday, Austin, leading the monthly Ramstein group meeting at the airbase of that name in Germany, told its 50 member countries that he was “fully determined to keep US security assistance and ammunition flowing. And that’s a matter of survival and sovereignty for Ukraine and it’s a matter of honour and security for America.”

Rachel Rizzo, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe centre in Washington, said: “It’s becoming harder and harder for US leaders to travel to Europe, with the message that the United States is committed to Ukraine in the long term. The message of this long-term financial, military, economic commitment flies in the face of the reality of what’s happening on Capitol Hill.”

The Ukrainian defence minister, Rustem Umerov, who attended the gathering, said participants had “demonstrated their unity and resolve in helping Ukraine. Our forces are critically in need of ammunition. The ammo will be delivered!”

Ukraine hopes to have enough ammunition from April to push back Russian invaders thanks to a Czech-led initiative to source shells, Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, has said. “We also count on the supplying of long-range and middle-range missiles to cut Russian logistics on the occupied territories. It is also crucially important, [just] as the artillery shells are for us.” Finland has joined the Czech initiative.

Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, called on Nato allies to increase their defence spending to over 3% of gross domestic product (GDP), saying her country is already investing more than 3%.

Ukraine is working to secure “a strong and far-reaching step” towards membership of Nato at its Washington summit in July, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has said. Ukraine’s leadership was left bitterly disappointed when, under US and German pressure, Nato at its summit in 2023 issued a statement saying Ukraine would be offered an invitation when conditions allowed – when Ukraine wanted a specific date.

Russia appointed Adm Alexander Moiseyev as acting navy chief, replacing Nikolai Yevmenov, according to the state RIA news agency, which confirmed earlier reports of the reshuffle.

Ahead of the EU leaders’ summit, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he had spoken with the European Council president, Charles Michel. “We focused on further steps toward the actual start of Ukraine’s EU accession negotiations, as well as further comprehensive EU support for Ukraine. We also identified potential ways to increase the supply of artillery ammunition to Ukraine. We discussed the importance of extending autonomous trade benefits for Ukraine for another year. I emphasised that maintaining the trade liberalisation regime with the EU is critical to supporting Ukraine’s economy during the war.”

Vladimir Putin will travel to China in May for talks with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, sources have told Reuters.

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