Ukraine bombs Crimean airbase

Ukraine Lieutenant Colonel Serhiy Verbytsky examines the remains of his SU-24M aircraft on the outskirts of the town of Izyum, Kharkiv Region
Ukraine Lieutenant Colonel Serhiy Verbytsky examines the remains of his SU-24M aircraft on the outskirts of the town of Izyum, Kharkiv Region - ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

Ukrainian forces have struck a large Russian airfield on the annexed Crimean peninsula, destroying an array of military equipment.

The attack seriously damaged four missile launchers, three radar stations and other equipment, Ukraine’s military spy agency said on Thursday.

“The number of enemy aviation objects destroyed or damaged and the number of casualties among personnel of the Russian occupation army is being clarified,” it said after announcing the “successful” operation.

The strike took place during the early hours of Wednesday at the Dzhankoi air base, on the northern part of the peninsula seized by Moscow in 2014.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, thanked his top military commander for what he called a “correct strike against the occupier”.

He expressed gratitude to servicemen staging “special operations, especially important operations, extremely significant ones that destroy the equipment of the Russian army, their combat infrastructure”.

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03:01 PM BST

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Thank you for following today’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

We’ll be back soon with all the latest updates from the conflict.

03:01 PM BST

Watch: Ukraine strikes Crimea

New footage shared by the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces shows the moment Crimea was struck with shelling on Wednesday morning.

02:54 PM BST

Russia tightens officials’ travel rules due to ‘fears over secrets’

Russia is making overseas travel harder for some officials due to fears that foreign powers may try to gain access to state secrets during the worst crisis in relations with the West for more than 60 years, nine sources told Reuters.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) is putting pressure on employees across government ministries not to leave Russia at all, even to visit so-called ‘friendly’ countries that have not imposed sanctions against Moscow, the sources said.

“You can’t go anywhere at all, not even to Uzbekistan or Belarus for the May holidays,” said one source. “You can go only if you have permission.”

Under pressure from the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, the government is prohibiting employees from various departments from travelling anywhere without special permission, the person said.

One source said those in government were informally banned from travel in 2022, a measure that was formally adopted in mid-2023. Now, similar restrictions have been introduced for people privy to state secrets across ministries.

02:43 PM BST

Russia may be ready to attack Nato in five to eight years, German official says

Russia could be ready militarily to attack Nato countries in five to eight years’ time if it chose to do so, Germany’s top military official has said, once it has rebuilt its forces hit by the impact of the Ukraine war.

“By then, based on our analysis, Russia [will have] reconstituted its own forces to a degree that an attack against Nato soil could be possible,” Lieut Gen Carsten Breuer, Germany’s chief of defence, told reporters during a visit to Poland.

“I am not saying it will take place but that it could be possible,” he said late on Wednesday.

Lieut Breuer added: “We see that Russia is producing a lot of war-fighting material and it is not putting all of this material to the frontline in Ukraine... so in 2029 we have to be ready... What we see is a threat in five to eight years.”

02:24 PM BST

Ukrainian ‘exploding balloons’ shot down

Russia has claimed that it shot down five “Ukrainian balloons” capable of carrying explosives overnight.

Russian authorities have reported the balloons appearing over the battlefield in recent weeks.

They are equipped with a GPS module, can carry larger payloads than conventional, smaller drones and are harder to detect.

It is thought that the GPS module helps to coordinate the release of explosives over a specific area.

It remains unclear whether the drones are lifted by helium, hot air or something else entirely.

Three Ukrainian balloons were downed over the Voronezh region, which borders the occupied Luhansk region of Ukraine, and two others were intercepted in the Belgorod region of Russia next to Ukraine.

02:00 PM BST

Russia accused Ukraine of attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Russian-installed officials at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have accused Ukraine of shelling a training centre inside of the facility.

“The APU [Ukrainian armed forces’] drone was neutralised over the roof of Building G of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant training centre, where the world’s only full-scale reactor hall simulator is located,” the plant’s Russian overseers’ Telegram channel said.

The claim has not been independently verified and Ukraine is yet to comment on the incident.

Throughout the war, the Zaporizhzhia plant has been at the centre of of tit-for-tat accusations between Russia and Ukraine.

The pair have repeatedly accused each other of endangering the facility and risking a nuclear incident.

01:38 PM BST

West’s actions in Israel should result in ‘boosted defences for Ukraine’

Lithuania has said that the West’s actions in defending Israel from Iran’s attack should result in “boosted defences for Ukraine”.

Gitanas Nausėda, the Lithuanian president, called for a European air defence coalition.

“Ukrainian cities are getting attacked on a daily basis while their skies remain unprotected. European air defence coalition for Ukraine might be a game changer,” he said.

01:19 PM BST

Ukraine PM warns of ‘third world war’

Ukraine’s prime minister has warned of the possibility of a third world war if US aid to the country does not arrive soon.

Denys Shmyhal told the BBC:

“We need this money yesterday, not tomorrow, not today.

“If we will not protect… Ukraine will fall... So the global, the global system of security will be destroyed… and all the world will need to find… a new system of security.

“Or, there will be many conflicts, many such kinds of wars, and in the end of the day, it could lead to the third world war.”

12:58 PM BST

Pictured: Ukraine is a hot topic at G7

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, and Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, attended a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meeting on Capri Island, Italy, on Thursday.

Antony Blinken, left, and Dmytro Kuleba, right
Antony Blinken, left, and Dmytro Kuleba, right - AP/Gregorio Borgia
Dmytro Kuleba speaks with Reuters on the second day of the G7 foreign ministers meeting
Dmytro Kuleba speaks with Reuters on the second day of the G7 foreign ministers meeting - Claudia Greco/REUTERS

12:33 PM BST

Russian attack damages infrastructure in Dnipropetrovsk region

A Russian missile attack on Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region on Thursday morning damaged an infrastructure facility and an enterprise, a local official said.

Two people were injured and hospitalised, the regional governor said on Telegram.

The attack caused fires at two sites, he added. Ukraine’s air force issued a warning of a ballistic missile threat ahead of the strike.

Russia has stepped up combined missile and drone strikes targeting Ukraine’s power grid since mid-March, resulting in significant damage.

It has also increased its use of harder-to-intercept ballistic missiles.

12:00 PM BST

Germany says Russian ambassador summoned over ‘spy’ arrests

The German foreign ministry on Thursday summoned Russia’s ambassador over the arrest in Germany of two men suspected of planning attacks - including on US army targets - for Moscow.

Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign affairs minister, had the envoy ordered in, a ministry spokesman told AFP, after the arrests in Bayreuth of the two men who are also accused of having spied for Russia.

11:51 AM BST

Ukraine hits military airfield in Russian-annexed Crimea

Ukraine said on Thursday that its forces had struck a Russian military airfield on the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Ukraine’s military intelligence unit said the armed forces conducted a “successful” operation on Wednesday at the base in Dzhankoi and had damaged radars and air defence systems, among other targets.

11:27 AM BST

US aid won’t change military situation, says Russia

Russia said on Thursday that fresh US aid for Ukraine will not change anything on the battlefield after Mike Johnson, the US House Speaker, said he would advance a long-stalled package of military funding for Kyiv.

“It won’t in any way influence the development of the situation on the front... which is very unfavourable for the Ukrainian side,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

11:12 AM BST

‘I’m innocent,’ says Russian spy unmasked by Telegraph

A German intelligence officer on trial in Germany for passing state secrets to Russia has insisted he is innocent, claiming that he was working in Berlin’s security interests.

At a court hearing on Wednesday, Carsten Linke said prosecutors have got his case the wrong way around, insisting that he was actually spying on a Russian businessman on Germany’s behalf.

Mr Linke, 52, was fully identified by the Telegraph last year, with German prosecutors only referring to him as “Carsten L” under German privacy procedures.

He is accused of treason, with Germany suspecting him of leaking top-secret intelligence to Moscow for which he allegedly received cash payments.

Colleagues of Mr Linke at the BND, the German foreign intelligence agency, said they were aware that he had sympathies for the far-Right.

Despite this, he passed a background check and was promoted shortly before his arrest.

10:37 AM BST

Lord Cameron calls for release of British dual national Vladimir Kara-Murza

Lord David Cameron has called for the release of British national and Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Mr Kara-Murza is facing a long and arduous transfer from a Siberian penal colony to a Moscow court to appeal against his 25-year sentence on treason and other charges, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Maria Eismont told reporters that the conditions of the transfer would amount to torture for Kara-Murza, 42, who suffers from a serious nerve condition.

Lord Cameron wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that forcibly transferring Mr Kara-Murza would “put his health at even greater risk” and that it is “abhorrent”.

“He must be released on humanitarian grounds for urgent medical treatment,” he said.

Ms Eismont said transferring Kara-Murza from Omsk to Moscow was likely to take at least three weeks, during which time he would have no contact with his family or lawyers.

10:15 AM BST

Pictured: Arms set for Ukraine

Near the heart of president Joe Biden’s hometown in Pennsylvania, machinery is churning out artillery for the war in Ukraine.

The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant (SCAAP) is making steel tubes for 155 mm calibre shells, which are crucial to Kyiv’s efforts to face down Moscow’s invasion.

An employee handles 155 mm caliber shells after the manufacturing process at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant
An employee handles 155 mm caliber shells after the manufacturing process at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant - CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

09:55 AM BST

Analysis: Arrests make disquieting reading for Nato

The news on Thursday morning that two more alleged Russian spies have been arrested in Germany will make disquieting reading for Nato officials.

It is the latest spying scandal to hit Germany after the hugely embarrassing leak of a phone call between German air force officers discussing a potential delivery of Taurus missiles to Ukraine, which was intercepted by Russia.

It also follows the arrest and ongoing trial of a German intelligence officer who is accused of passing state secrets to Russia.

And, last year, UK citizen David Smith, a worker at the British embassy in Berlin, was jailed for 13 years after an MI5 sting caught him spying for Russia.

Today’s case involves two Russian-German citizens who were allegedly planning sabotage attacks on US military sites in Germany to undermine Berlin’s support for Ukraine.

That makes it arguably the most serious Russian spying case to be exposed in Germany since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

But it also reflects a high level of vigilance in Germany, which appears to have caught the suspects in an early stage of their attack plan, when they were carrying out surveillance on potential targets in Bavaria.

What is clear is that Russia views Germany as a prime target for its spying activities and seems to be planning much more daring attacks on Nato assets using its network of agents.

Germany remains on high alert for Russian espionage, as well as attempted terrorist attacks by Isis-K and Hamas-inspired lone wolves.

09:32 AM BST

Europe ‘cannot rely on US’ to help Kyiv

Europe cannot rely on the United States to help Kyiv, the EU’s top diplomat said on Thursday amid delays in Washington’s new funding package.

More than two years after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine is facing ammunition shortages, with vital US aid being stalled by Republicans in Congress for months.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said that he regretted that “internal politics” in the US was delaying a much-needed aid package for Ukraine worth $60.84 billion.

“We cannot only rely on the US. We have to take our [own] responsibility and stop saying, ‘oh, the US will do’,” he said.

Mr Borrell urged European countries to send their anti-missile systems to bolster Ukraine’s air defences as Russia pounds its cities.

“We have Patriots, we have anti-missile systems. We have to take them [out] from our barracks where they are just in case and send them to Ukraine where the war is raging,” Mr Borrell told reporters at a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers in the island of Capri.

“Otherwise the electricity system of Ukraine will be destroyed. And no country can fight without having electricity at home, in the factories, online, for everything,” he added.

09:07 AM BST

Germany’s Baerbock sees ‘hopeful sign’ for continued US support of Ukraine

Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, sees signs of hope out of the United States after her government pushed for Washington to continue its support for Ukraine in the war against Russia, she told reporters on Thursday.

“In these turbulent times, it is a hopeful sign that there are now signals from the Republicans in the US that support for Ukraine can be continued intensively,” Ms Baerbock said on the sidelines of a meeting with her G7 counterparts in Italy.

08:48 AM BST

Ukraine in ‘dire need’ of US funding package

Ukraine is in desperate need of military weapons that are being held up by Congress’ failure to pass a funding package, Pentagon leaders said on Wednesday.

Gen. CQ Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the situation in Ukraine as “dire”.

He told the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee that Ukraine is being outmatched by Russia, “whether it’s munitions, whether it’s vehicles, whether it’s platforms”.

“I’ll just tell you that Ukraine right now is facing some dire battlefield conditions.”

Lloyd Austin, the US defense secretary, seated alongside Gen. Brown, told lawmakers that time matters.

“We’re already seeing things on the battlefield begin to shift a bit in Russia’s favour. We are seeing them make incremental gains. We’re seeing the Ukrainians be challenged in terms of holding the line,” he said.

Joe Biden, the US president, has urged Congress to pass the aid package and said that he would sign the funding package right away, sending a message that “we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed”.

08:29 AM BST

Toll from Russia’s deadliest airstrike in weeks on Ukraine rises to 18

The death toll from a Russian airstrike on Chernihiv in northern Ukraine has risen to 18, officials said on Thursday, while another 78 were wounded when three missiles slammed into the city centre.

Wednesday’s attack, which damaged civilian infrastructure in the northern city, was Russia’s deadliest airstrike in weeks and prompted calls from Ukraine’s top officials for additional air defence support.

Governor Vyacheslav Chaus said, via the Telegram messaging app, that the search and rescue operation ended on Thursday morning.