Live Updates | Portugal sends marines to NATO in Lithuania


LISBON, Portugal — Portugal has sent 146 Marines to join a NATO force stationed in Lithuania as part of efforts to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .

The deployment includes divers specializing in the deactivation of mines and other explosive devices.

Portugal’s defense ministry said the aim of the mission was to “support high levels of preparedness and deter direct or indirect threats” against NATO members, particularly in the Baltic Sea region. .

The detachment that left on Wednesday is to stay in Lithuania for three months.



— Report: China bans Russian airlines with foreign planes

— Shipping to USA medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine

— Italy imports more Russian oil despite the impending embargo

– High prices, Asian markets could blunt EU ban on russian oil

– Russian oligarch’s megayacht sanctioned hides in a creek in the United Arab Emirates


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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Polls are open in Denmark for voters to decide whether to drop their country’s 30-year opt-out from the European Union’s Common Defense Policy.

Wednesday’s referendum is the latest example of European countries seeking closer defense ties with allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It follows the historic candidacies of Sweden and Finland to join NATO.

Some 4.2 million Danish voters are eligible to vote in the referendum. The “yes” camp, in favor of the abolition of the 1992 opt-out, has been in the lead in recent months. Polls showed him with around 40% support and ‘no’ with 30%.


KYIV, Ukraine — A regional governor in southern Ukraine said Russian troops were retreating and blowing up bridges to hamper a possible Ukrainian advance.

The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, said on the Telegram messaging application on Wednesday that Russia was on the defensive.

“They are afraid of a breakthrough by the (Ukrainian Armed Forces), but we are not afraid and we support our troops,” he wrote.

Kim did not specify exactly where the retreat he described was taking place. Parts of the Mykolayiv region that have been held by Russian forces in recent days are close to the major Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his late night address on Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters had had “some success in the direction of Kherson”.

Russia is focusing most of its military might on capturing the entire Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.


BRUSSELS – The European Union’s asylum agency says the number of people from countries of the former Soviet Union seeking international protection in Europe has skyrocketed since Russia launched its war in Ukraine.

The agency said on Wednesday that around 14,000 Ukrainians had applied for asylum in March, a figure about 30 times higher than before the war that began on February 24.

This number comes on top of some 3 million Ukrainians who have requested emergency protection under an EU program that provides shelter, access to employment, medical care and education for war refugees.

The largest increases in asylum seekers were recorded among citizens of Belarus, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. But the EU agency says it is unclear whether these people were from their home countries or were living in Ukraine when the war started.

The number of Russians seeking asylum in the EU also rose to 1,400 in March, the highest level since 2018.

Asylum is generally granted to people at risk of serious harm because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group, as well as those fleeing war. , torture and degrading treatment.


BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said his country will supply Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems, stepping up arms deliveries amid criticism that Germany is not doing enough to help Kyiv.

Scholz told German lawmakers on Wednesday that the government had decided to supply Ukraine with IRIS-T missiles developed by Germany together with other NATO countries.

He said Germany would also provide Ukraine with radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.

The announcements come as Germany and abroad claim Germany has been slow to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself against Russia.


KYIV, Ukraine — A regional governor in eastern Ukraine said Russian forces controlled 70% of Sievierodonetsk, a city that in recent days has become the center of Moscow’s offensive.

Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haidai said in a Telegram post on Wednesday that some Ukrainian troops were fighting with the Russians in the city while others had retreated.

“The evacuation (of civilians) has been stopped. There is no possibility of bringing in humanitarian aid,” Haidai said.

He said the only other city in the Luhansk region not taken by Russia or Moscow-backed separatists – Lysychansk – is “fully” under Ukrainian control.


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says the country is losing between 60 and 100 soldiers a day in fighting with Russian forces.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told US TV channel Newsmax that “the most difficult situation is in eastern Ukraine”, including the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

“The situation is very difficult. We lose 60 to 100 soldiers a day killed in action and about 500 wounded in action. So we maintain our defensive perimeters,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine has largely refrained from disclosing its military losses since the start of the Russian invasion, but Zelenskyy had previously said the country was losing between 50 and 100 soldiers a day.


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has called for an end to the stalemate in grain shipments to Ukraine, arguing for an all-out effort to prevent an important product “being used as a weapon of war.”

François launched the appeal on Wednesday after his general audience.

The pope said he feared a Russian naval blockade would hold back millions of tons of grain and deprive poor countries of a staple food needed to feed millions.

“I call on everyone to do everything possible to resolve this issue and guarantee the universal human right to be fed,” Francis said.

He added, “Please don’t use grain, a staple food, as a weapon of war.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the West to lift sanctions imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine, seeking to shift blame for the growing global food crisis.


MOSCOW — Russian gas giant Gazprom confirms it has cut gas supplies to Shell Energy Europe and Denmark’s Ørsted after the two companies refused to pay for deliveries in roubles.

Gazprom said in a statement Wednesday morning that it had not received any payment from either company for the gas supplied in April and was therefore halting deliveries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree earlier this year stipulating that foreign buyers must pay in rubles for Russian gas from April 1.

Moscow offered customers receiving its natural gas to open an account in dollars or euros with the third Russian bank, Gazprombank, and then a second account in rubles. The importer would pay the gas bill in euros or dollars and ask the bank to exchange the money for rubles.

Shell Energy Europe, Ørsted and Dutch gas trader GasTerra refused to pay in rubles, and Gazprom halted deliveries to the three companies this week.


BEIJING — China has banned Russian airlines from flying foreign-owned airliners in its airspace, Russian media RBK reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast doubt on the ownership of the airliners by allowing the planes to be re-registered in Russia to avoid seizure under sanctions linked to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The European Union, home to major aircraft leasing companies, banned the sale or lease of planes to Russian carriers in February. Putin responded by approving a law that allowed projects to register in Russia.

China’s aviation regulator last month asked all foreign carriers to update their ownership information and other details, RBK said, citing two unidentified sources.

Russian airlines that could not provide documentation proving that their aircraft had been “deregistered abroad” were banned from flying to China, RBK said.


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said in a guest essay Tuesday night in The New York Times that he has decided to provide Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will allow them to more accurately strike key targets on the field of fire. battle.

It is expected that Ukraine could use the rockets in the eastern region of Donbass, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and eliminate Russian positions in cities with intense fighting, such as Sievierodonetsk.

This city located 145 kilometers south of the Russian border is in an area that is the last pocket under Ukrainian government control in the Luhansk region of Donbass.

In his New York Times essay, Biden said the United States does not encourage or allow Ukraine to strike beyond its borders and does not want to prolong the war “just to inflict pain on the Russia”.

US officials familiar with the decision did not specify the cost of the aid, but it will be the 11th package approved so far and will be the first to tap into the $40 billion in aid recently passed by Congress.


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it will send Ukraine a small number of medium-range, high-tech rocket systems.

It is an essential weapon that Ukrainian leaders are calling for as they struggle to block Russian progress in the Donbass region.

The US plan attempts to balance a desire to help Ukraine combat fierce Russian artillery barrages while not supplying weapons that could allow Ukraine to hit targets deep within Russia and trigger an escalation of the war.

US officials have said the aid package due to be unveiled on Wednesday will send what the US considers medium-range rockets – they can typically travel around 45 miles (70 kilometers).

It is expected that Ukraine could use the rockets in the eastern region of Donbass, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and eliminate Russian positions in cities with intense fighting, such as Sievierodonetsk.

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