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Russia-Ukraine live updates: Counteroffensive to launch ahead of F-16 deliveries, Zelenskyy says

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(NEW YORK) — More than a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the countries are fighting for control of areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have liberated nearly 30,000 square miles of their territory from Russian forces since the invasion began on Feb. 24, 2022, but Putin appeared to be preparing for a long and bloody war.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 30, 2:00 PM EDT
Leader of Russian mercenary group threatens mutiny

The Russian oligarch behind the Wagner private paramilitary group fighting for the Kremlin in Ukraine is threatening a mutiny if his forces are not resupplied with ammunition soon.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner and curator of the Wagner group, penned a letter to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigue, demanding ammunition be provided to his forces on the battlefield.

In the letter, Prigozhin wrote that if supply problems are not fixed fast, he will complain to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his mercenaries would abandon their positions in Bakhmut, Ukraine, where heavy fighting has been going on for weeks, The Moscow Times reported.

“I appeal to Shoigu with a request to immediately issue ammunition. In case of refusal, I consider it necessary to convey to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief information about the existing problem in order to make a decision and about the advisability of further presence of Wagner PMC in Bakhmut in the conditions of a shortage of ammunition,” Prigozhin wrote.

He added, “If the deficit is not replenished … we will be forced to withdraw part of the units from this territory, and then everything else will crumble. Therefore, the bell is already ringing — it is called an alarm.”

Emphasizing the urgency, Prigozhin noted that Ukraine is planning to launch a counteroffensive soon.

There was no immediate public response from Shoigu or the Kremlin.

“We need to stop deceiving the population and telling that everything is fine with us,” Prigozhin wrote. “I must honestly say: Russia is on the brink of disaster. If these screws are not adjusted today, the ‘aircraft’ will crumble in the air.”

Apr 30, 12:19 PM EDT
Zelenskyy braces soldiers for battles ‘coming soon’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday wished Ukrainian military forces success in what he described as the “main battles” that are “coming soon.”

Zelenskyy’s statement came a day after he said at a news conference in Kyiv that Ukrainian forces will soon launch a counteroffensive, likely before F-16 fighter jets promised by Western allies arrive.

“Dear warriors, the main battles are coming soon. We must free our land and our people from Russian slavery,” Zelenskyy said at an event where he bestowed medals to members of the county’s Border Guard forces.

Apr 30, 5:52 AM EDT
Counteroffensive expected ahead of Western jet deliveries

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian counteroffensive will start before Ukraine receives F-16 fighter jets promised by Western countries.

“Frankly speaking, it would help us a lot. But we also understand that we can’t drag it [the counteroffensive] out, which is why we’ll start before we receive F-16 [aircrafts] or other models,” Zelenskyy said at a news conference for Scandinavian media held in Kyiv on Saturday, according to a script provided by Reuters.

He added, “But to calm Russia down with the fact that we’d still need a couple of months to train on the aircrafts and only then we’d start; No, this won’t happen. We’ll start and go forward, while at the same time, simultaneously, I think this is very important [to receive western fighter aircrafts.]”

He said Ukraine is “capable of putting an end to this war.”

Also on Saturday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine received a signal from some countries about the readiness to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.

According to Kuleba, the F-16 fighter jet is the ideal aircraft due to its technical characteristics, although Kyiv does not overlook other aircraft, either. The minister added that the decisive word on issuing F-16s will be with the United States, because these are American fighters.

-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres and Max Uzol

Apr 29, 1:49 PM EDT
23 dead in Russian attack on high-rise building, 17 saved from rubble

A Russian attack on a high-rise building in Uman has left 23 people dead. Among the dead were six children between the ages of one and 17 years old, according to the Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs, Ihor Volodymyrovych Klymenko.

Rescuers, policemen and volunteers managed to save 17 people from the rubble. Heavy machinery and special equipment were involved, according to officials.

Two more women are considered missing, officials said. But the search and rescue operation has concluded, officials said.

“My sincere condolences to the relatives of the deceased. We will punish this evil. We will not allow it to grow. We will definitely stand up and win,” Klymenko said.

-ABC News’ Tatyana Rymarenko

Apr 28, 12:18 PM EDT
Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities kill 24, including children

Russian airstrikes targeted several cities across Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 24 people, Ukrainian officials said.

The city of Uman in central Ukraine’s Cherkasy Oblast was the worst affected. Several buildings were damaged or destroyed. One of the strikes hit an apartment building, killing at least 22 people, including three children, and injuring another 18 people, according to Cherkasy Oblast Gov. Ihor Taburets. The attack happened at around 4:30 a.m. local time, when most people would have been asleep. An entire section of the nine-story building collapsed, with 27 apartments completely destroyed. There were 109 people who lived in that part of the building, according to Ukrainian police. Rescue teams were expected to spend all day and night searching for survivors in the rubble.

Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city and a major industrial hub located in southeastern Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, was hit by “high-precision” strikes in the early morning hours, leaving a woman and a 3-year-old child dead, according to Dnipro Mayor Boris Filatov.

Russian strikes also targeted Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and largest city, but there were no reports of any casualties or damages. It was the first such attack on the capital in 51 days, according to the Kyiv City Military Administration. Preliminary data shows 11 cruise missiles and two drones were destroyed in Kyiv’s airspace, the city military administration said.

Apr 28, 11:54 AM EDT
Ukraine says it’s ‘ready’ for counteroffensive

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Friday the military is “ready” to launch a counteroffensive against Russian forces.

“It’s up to the general staff and the command,” Reznikov said during a press briefing in Kyiv. “We will do it as soon as there is God’s will, the weather and the commanders’ decision.”

Ukraine has received Patriot missile defense systems from the United States as well as Germany and the Netherlands. The Ukrainian military has been trained on how to use the systems and “mastered” them within weeks, according to Reznikov.

“The exact number of batteries, I’m sorry, I won’t say,” he added. “Let the enemy guess.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the world not to consider or call the anticipated counteroffensive “a decisive battle.” Speaking at a press conference in Odesa on Friday, Kuleba said the decisive battle is the one that will lead to the liberation of all occupied Ukrainian territories.

Apr 27, 12:59 PM EDT
Missile strike in Mykolaiv kills 1, wounds 23

One person was killed and 23 people, including a child, were wounded in a Russian missile strike in Mykolaiv early Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

The missile struck a block that had apartments, houses and a historic building, according to Zelenskyy.

“The terrorists will not get away with this yet another crime against humanity,” the president said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Apr 26, 12:50 PM EDT
Zelenskyy has 1st call with China’s Xi Jinping since war began

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping in what was the two leaders’ first official contact since January 2022, before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Xi announced that he will send a special envoy to visit Ukraine and “other countries” to work on a political solution.

“I believe that this call, as well as the appointment of Ukraine’s ambassador to China, will give a powerful impetus to the development of our bilateral relations,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Twitter.

The Chinese government’s official position still refuses to call the war an “invasion.”

The call between the two leaders is said to have lasted an hour, according to Zelenskyy’s office.

“Before the full-scale Russian invasion, China was Ukraine’s number one trading partner. I believe that our conversation today will give a powerful impetus to the return, preservation and development of this dynamic at all levels,” Zelenskyy said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Karson Yiu, Cindy Smith and Will Gretsky

Apr 25, 1:03 PM EDT
At least 2 dead, 10 injured in strike that hit Ukrainian museum

At least two people were killed and 10 injured after a Russian missile hit a Ukrainian museum Tuesday, officials said.

The local history museum is located in the city center of Kupiansk, in the Kharkiv region.

“The terrorist country is doing everything to destroy us completely. Our history, our culture, our people,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media while sharing a video that showed the damaged building. “Killing Ukrainians with absolutely barbaric methods.”

Apr 24, 5:48 AM EDT
Russian passports pushed on occupied Ukraine

Russian officials have warned Ukrainians in occupied Kherson that they may be “deported” if they don’t accept Russian passports, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said Monday.

“Russia is using passports as a tool in the ‘Russification’ of the occupied areas, as it did in Donetsk and Luhansk before the February 2022 invasion,” the ministry on Twitter.

Residents of Kherson have been warned of penalties for those who don’t accept Russian passports by June 1. Some may be removed from the territory or may have their property seized, according to the U.K.

Apr 23, 11:42 PM EDT
Russia says US has denied journalist visas, vows it ‘will not forgive’

Russia said Sunday that the U.S. has denied visas to Russian journalists who wanted to cover Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to New York.

Lavrov promised that the decision will not be forgotten by their side.

“The country that calls itself the strongest, smartest, most free, fairest has chickened out, has done a silly thing and shown what its sworn assurances on protecting freedom of speech, access to information and so on are worth,” he told reporters at the airport before his flight to New York.

“Most importantly, you can be sure: we will not forget, we will not forgive this,” the minister told the pool of journalists who have not been granted U.S. visas.

The journalists had planned to cover Lavrov’s appearance at the United Nations to mark Russia’s chairmanship of the Security Council.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the U.S.’s decision “outrageous” on Sunday, Interfax, a Russian news agency, reported.

-ABC News’ Anastasia Bagaeva, Edward Szekeres, Natalia Shumskaia

Apr 21, 3:35 PM EDT
Over 16,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained in the EU so far

Over 16,000 Ukrainian soldiers trained in the European Union, Josep Borrell, an EU representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said Friday.

The EU has delivered over $600 million of ammunition and missiles to Ukraine, according to Borrell.

-ABC News’ Oleksiy Pshemyskiy

Apr 20, 7:08 PM EDT
Russian warplane accidentally fires weapon into Russian city of Belgorod: Defense ministry

The Russian Defense Ministry reported that ammunition from a Russian Su-34 military aircraft fell in Belgorod, a city in the southern region of Russia.

“On the evening of April 20, during the flight of the Su-34 aircraft over the city of Belgorod, an abnormal descent of an aviation munition occurred,” the agency said.

The ministry claimed buildings were damaged but there were no immediate reports of victims. An investigation is underway, according to the agency.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Apr 20, 5:18 PM EDT
Ukraine’s ‘rightful place’ is in NATO: Secretary-General

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg held a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, to highlight the more than €150 billion of support to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion.

“Allies are now delivering more jets, tanks, and armored vehicles, and NATO’s Ukraine fund is providing urgent support,” he said in a statement. “All of this is making a real difference on the battlefield today.”

While in Ukraine, the secretary-general visited Bucha and paid his respects to the victims of Russian atrocities.

He also laid a wreath at the Wall of Remembrance of the Fallen for Ukraine, paying tribute to all those who have lost lives or suffered wounds in defense of their homeland.

“Ukraine’s rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO. And over time, our support will help to make this possible,” Stoltenberg said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Apr 20, 4:13 PM EDT
Russian athletes will not be accepted in 2024 Olympics if war goes on: Paris mayor

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, which is hosting the 2024 summer Olympics, told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Russian athletes “cannot be accepted in Paris,” if the war with Ukraine is still ongoing when the games begin.

“Paris is the capital of human rights,” Hidalgo said in a statement. “We are trying to convince athletes, international federations and countries. We stand with you.”

Hidalgo and Vasco Cordeiro, the president of the European Committee of the Regions, met with Zelenskyy as part of the International Summit of Cities and Regions Thursday.

Zelenskyy thanked Hidalgo for her support and presented her with Ukraine’s “Rescuer City” honorary award.

-ABC News’ Max Uzol and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.

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