Ukraine war live updates: Russia expresses 'extreme concern' and calls for restraint in Middle East, but refuses to condemn Iran

This photograph taken on April 2, 2024, shows “dragon’s teeth” fortifications near the town of Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine. The eastern city of Chasiv Yar is facing a “difficult and tense” situation, a Ukrainian army official said on March 25, 2024. If Russia took Chasiv Yar, it could step up attacks on the strategic city of Kramatorsk that is already facing growing bombardment. 

Roman Pilipey | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s military chief said Russian forces are aiming to capture the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk by May 9, the date on which Russia commemorates Soviet victory in World War II.

Chasiv Yar lies west of Bakhmut, a town reduced to rubble but finally captured by Russian forces last May after months of fighting. Capturing the town would give Russia another strategic gain in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, a war hot spot, and could allow it to advance on industrial hub Kramatorsk.

“The higher Russian military leadership has set the task for its troops to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said on Telegram, without presenting evidence for his claim.

Syrskyi said he had responded to Russian operations to seize Chasiv Yar by strengthening defensive positions and strengthening brigades with ammunition, drones, and electronic warfare devices.

On Saturday, Syrskyi posted on Telegram that the situation on the eastern front had “significantly worsened in recent days.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday condemned the Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel and said both Israel and Ukraine need help from allies.

“Ukraine condemns Iran’s attack on Israel using ‘Shahed’ drones and missiles. We in Ukraine know very well the horror of similar attacks by Russia, which uses the same “Shahed” drones and Russian missiles, the same tactics of mass air strikes,” he said on social media platform X.

“Iran’s actions threaten the entire region and the world, just as Russia’s actions threaten a larger conflict, and the obvious collaboration between the two regimes in spreading terror must face a resolute and united response from the world,” Zelenskyy said.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The attack on Israel has raised expectations that Congress could move sooner to approve a multibillion dollar aid package for Ukraine and Israel that has been blocked by Republicans in recent months.

Mike Johnson, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Sunday that he would try to secure passage of aid to Israel this week but did not say whether the legislation would include aid for Ukraine, Reuters reported.

“The world cannot wait for discussions to go on,” Zelenskyy said. “Words do not stop drones and do not intercept missiles. Only tangible assistance does. The assistance we are anticipating … It is critical that the United States Congress make the necessary decisions to strengthen America’s allies at this critical time,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson slammed Israel following Iran’s massive drone and missile attack on the country on Saturday, saying Israel had not shown any solidarity or sympathy for Moscow when its territory was attacked by Ukraine.

Israeli Ambassador to Russia Simona Halperin was reported by news agency RIA Novosti as stating Sunday that Israel expected Russia to condemn Iran’s large-scale missile attack on the country this weekend.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova rebuked the ambassador, however, noting, “Simona, remind me when was the last time that Israel condemned at least one of Kiev’s attacks on Russian regions? You can’t recall that, can you? Neither can I,” she said.

Explosions are seen in the skies of the capital, following the attack from Iran in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 14, 2024. 

Mostafa Alkharouf | Anadolu | Getty Images

“What I do recall are routine statements by Israeli officials in support of Zelensky’s actions. The very same criminal and terrorist actions committed by the thugs from Ukraine’s Presidential Office that have for years been killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure,” Zakharova said.

Russia and Israel used to enjoy warm diplomatic relations, but those have become frayed as Moscow has grown closer to Israel’s archenemy Iran and as Israel has backed its Western allies’ condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine although it has not joined its partners in imposing sanctions on Russia.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday expressed “extreme concern over another dangerous escalation” in the Middle East following Iran’s missile and drone strike on Israel.

“We express our extreme concern at yet another dangerous escalation in the region. We have repeatedly warned that the numerous unresolved crises in the Middle East, primarily in the area of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which are often fueled by irresponsible provocative actions, will exacerbate tensions,” the foreign ministry said on Telegram.

“We call on all parties involved in the conflict to exercise restraint. We expect the regional states to resolve the existing problems through political and diplomatic means. We believe it is important for the constructively-minded international players to contribute to this effort,” it added.

An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel April 14, 2024. 

Amir Cohen | Reuters

Israel has vowed to retaliate for the Iranian strike, which was carried out to avenge an alleged Israeli airstrike that killed several top Iranian commanders in Damascus earlier in April.

Russia did not condemn Iran’s attack, repeating Iran’s assertion that the attack was “undertaken as part of the right to self-defence.”

An all-out war between Israel and Iran could drag Russia into its orbit, given its close relationship with Tehran. Russia has become a close ally of Iran, with the countries developing a deeper military relationship in recent years, and with Russia using thousands of Iranian-made attack drones in Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine’s military chief warned Saturday that the battlefield situation in the east of the country, which continues to be the epicenter of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine, has deteriorated sharply.

“The situation on the eastern front has significantly worsened in recent days,” Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said on Telegram.

“This is primarily due to the significant intensification of enemy offensive actions following the presidential elections in the Russian Federation,” he added, in comments translated by NBC News.

A Ukrainian serviceman drives a British FV103 Spartan armoured personnel carrier on a road that leads to the town of Chasiv Yar, in the Donetsk region, on March 30, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Roman Pilipey | Afp | Getty Images

Syrskyi said warm, dry weather had facilitated Russian forces’ attacks on Ukrainian positions in the Lyman and Bakhmut areas of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, with Russian “assault groups supported by armored vehicles,” including dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

“Despite significant losses, the enemy is increasing efforts by deploying new units with armored vehicles, occasionally achieving tactical success,” Syrsyki said.

Read more here: Situation on eastern front has ‘significantly worsened’ in recent days, Ukraine’s army chief warns

— Holly Ellyatt

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