US lawmakers head to Kyiv with message: ‘America stands firmly with Ukraine’

A US congressional delegation visited Ukraine on Sunday, the first since Russia invaded the country in February.

“Our delegation traveled to Kyiv to send an unequivocal and resounding message to the world: America stands firmly with Ukraine,” the group said in a statement.

Lawmakers met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, who posted a tour of their meeting on Telegram.

“He expressed the clear need for continued security, economic and humanitarian assistance from the United States to address the devastating human toll on the people of Ukraine by Putin’s diabolical invasion – and our delegation proudly carried the message. that additional U.S. support is on the way, as we work to turn President Biden’s strong request for funding into a legislative package,” the statement continued.

The delegation consisted of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Jim McGovern, Speaker Gregory Meeks, Speaker Adam Schiff, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Bill Keating and Congressman Jason Crow. All members except Lee and Keating entered Ukraine.

They are now in Poland and have to visit the country’s capital, Warsaw.

—Katrina Bishop

Russia wants to impose ‘strong political and economic influence’ on Kherson, says UK

A Ukrainian soldier outside a school hit by Russian rockets in a village in southern Ukraine. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia has sought to legitimize its control over Kherson since it was seized in March.

Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

Russia introduces its currency in the Ukrainian city of Kherson from today, according to the British Ministry of Defense.

In its latest intelligence update on Twitter, the ministry said Russia had been seeking to legitimize its control over the city since it was seized in March and was seeking to wield “strong political and economic influence” in the region.

“Recent statements by this administration include declaring a return to Ukrainian control ‘impossible’ and announcing a four-month currency transition from the Ukrainian hryvnia to the Russian ruble. The Russian ruble is to be used in Kherson from today,” the tweet read. .

Kherson is a strategically important port city for Russia, just over 100 km from Crimea, which the Kremlin annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

“Enduring control of Kherson and its transport links will increase Russia’s ability to maintain its advance north and west and improve the security of Russia’s control over Crimea,” the UK added.

Also on Sunday, Russian state-controlled media claimed that Ukrainian “nationalists” had shelled the villages of Kiselevka and Shiroka Balka in the Kherson region. These claims cannot be independently verified by NBC.

Separately, the Kyiv Independent reported this weekend that mobile and internet services had been shut down in the oblast (or administrative district) of Kherson.

Catherine Bishop

Nancy Pelosi visiting Kyiv

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Ukrainian capital.

Posting a Telegram video that shows the couple meeting and shaking hands, Zelenskyy described the United States as a “leader in strong support” for Ukraine.

“Meeting with Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv. The United States is a leader in strong support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. Thank you for helping to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state!” he wrote, according to an NBC translation.

—Katrina Bishop

‘Every Russian soldier can still save his own life’: Zelensky urges invading troops not to fight

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy switched to Russian in his nightly video address to urge Russian soldiers not to fight in Ukraine, saying even their generals expected thousands of them to die.

He said Russia was recruiting new troops “with little motivation and little combat experience” for units that were emptied in the first weeks of the war so that those units could be sent back to battle.

He said Russian commanders fully understood that thousands of them would die and thousands more would be injured in the coming weeks.

“Russian commanders lie to their soldiers when they tell them that they can expect to be held seriously responsible for refusing to fight, nor do they tell them, for example, that the Russian army is preparing additional refrigerated trucks to store the bodies.. They don’t tell them about the new losses the generals expect,” Zelenskyy said on Saturday night.

“Each Russian soldier can still save his own life. It is better for you to survive in Russia than to perish on our land,” he said.

— Associated Press

Poland struggles to accommodate 2.9 million refugees; Rental prices in Warsaw are soaring

A Ukrainian boy walks past temporary beds at a refugee center in Warsaw on April 19.

Sopa Pictures | Light flare | Getty Images

More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled their country since the Russian attack in late February, and the country that has taken in more than half of them is showing signs of tension.

NBC News reported over the weekend that Poland has housed around 2.9 million Ukrainians, but the NATO country lacks everything from classrooms to housing.

The population of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, has increased by 15% since the start of the war.

Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski traveled to the United States this week to ask for more help from the international community, NBC News said. He warned that Warsaw is not able to absorb a new wave of refugees.

Thousands of Poles have welcomed Ukrainians into their homes, but many have already filled their guest rooms.

The number of Warsaw apartments available for rent has plummeted, NBC News said, with rental prices rising more than 30% since late February.

Read the full NBC News report here.

—Ted Kemp

Sweden says Russian plane violated its airspace

Two Swedish Air Force jets will fly over their home territory in 2021.

Image Alliance | Image Alliance | Getty Images

Sweden claims that a Russian military plane violated Swedish airspace.

The incident happened on Friday evening in the Baltic Sea near the island of Bornholm.

In a statement on Saturday, the Swedish armed forces said a Russian AN-30 propeller plane flew into Swedish airspace and briefly entered it before leaving the area.

The Swedish Air Force dispatched fighter jets which photographed the Russian aircraft.

Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish Public Radio the breach was “unacceptable” and “unprofessional”.

In a similar incident in early March, four Russian warplanes violated Swedish airspace over the Baltic Sea.

Both Sweden and neighboring Finland are considering joining NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow warned that such a decision would have consequences, without giving details.

Associated press

Ukraine says 20 civilians evacuated from besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol

A view shows a factory of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 26, 2022.

Alexander Ermoshenko | Reuters

A Ukrainian commander said 20 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steelworks in the besieged city of Mariupol on Saturday, according to a video posted on Telegram and translated by NBC News.

Earlier in the day, Russian state media reported that 25 civilians had been evacuated from the factory. CNBC could not independently confirm either claim.

In recent weeks, Russian forces had nearly surrounded the strategic coastal city of Mariupol, making the steelworks the city’s last stronghold.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he personally asked Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to coordinate an evacuation of civilians trapped at the steel facility during in-person talks at Moscow last week. After talks in Moscow, Guterres traveled to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Amanda Macias