Breaking news about Russia and the war in Ukraine

Global military spending topped $2 trillion in 2021, new data shows

Total global military spending hit an all-time high of $2.1 trillion in 2021, according to new data on global military spending released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The top five donors last year were the United States, China, India, Britain and Russia, which together accounted for 62% of spending, SIPRI said. This was the seventh year in a row that spending increased.

Russia increased its military spending by 2.9% to $65.9 billion in 2021, at a time when it was building up its armed forces along the Ukrainian border, the institute found.

This was the third straight year of growth in Russia’s military spending, which reached 4.1% of gross domestic product in 2021.

As it has bolstered its defenses against Russia, Ukraine’s military spending has increased by 72% since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Spending fell to $5.9 billion in 2021 but still accounted for 3.2% of the country’s GDP.

Holly Ellyatt

Britain says Russia has not made a “significant breakthrough”.

A view of the destruction in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where the Russian army took control on April 22, 2022. Ukrainian defenses of their city of Mariupol have exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update.

Leon Small | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia has yet to make a “significant breakthrough” since shifting its focus to the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, the UK MoD said in an intelligence update.

The ministry said the Russian armed forces lacked “sufficient logistical and combat support capabilities” and had made only “minor progress” in the region.

Ukraine’s defense of Mariupol has exhausted many Russian units and reduced their combat effectiveness, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.

“Russia’s decision to besiege rather than attack the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol means that many Russian units will remain stationed in the city and cannot be redeployed,” it added.

Several thousand Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are holed up at the Azovstal Steel Works in the besieged city of Mariupol. The site has become one of the last significant bases of Ukrainian forces in an otherwise Russian-held city.

The Russian Defense Ministry has also suggested that compensation payments for the families of deceased Russian troops be overseen by the military rather than civilian officials, the British ministry said.

“This probably reflects a desire to hide the true extent of Russia’s losses from the local population,” the ministry added.

– Chelsea Ong

The US promises more military aid to Ukraine and plans to eventually reopen the embassy in Kyiv

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Ukraine on Sunday to discuss military aid with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In the visit, during which senior US officials met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba and the country’s defense and interior ministers, the two sides discussed continued US “security, economic and humanitarian assistance” to Ukraine, a senior official said in one Background briefing on the visit.

After the visit, three important announcements were made:

First, that President Biden will formally appoint Bridget Brink, currently US Ambassador to Slovakia, as the next US Ambassador to Ukraine.

Second, US diplomats will return to Ukraine as early as this week, beginning with day trips to the western city of Lviv, then possibly to other parts of the country, and finally to resume their presence in Kyiv. A senior Foreign Ministry official said Sunday that “we will endeavor to get our diplomats back to our embassy in Kyiv as soon as possible.”

Finally, the US has pledged more than $713 million in foreign military funding, including funding for Ukraine and 15 other allied and partner nations in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The assistance includes helping Ukraine transition from obsolete Soviet-era weapons to more modern weapons used by NATO members.

Blinken also informed President Zelenskyy that some of the howitzer artillery systems previously announced by the US had arrived. Seven more howitzer packages will be sent to Ukraine shortly, a senior defense official said.

Holly Ellyatt and Chelsea Ong

Britain says Russia is planning a staged poll in a Ukrainian city to legitimize its occupation

A Ukrainian soldier stands outside a school hit by Russian missiles in the southern Ukrainian village 220401. Russia is planning a staged referendum in Kherson, Ukraine, to justify its occupation, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update.

Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

Russia is planning a staged referendum in Kherson, Ukraine, to justify its occupation, the UK MoD said in an intelligence update.

The southern city is important to Moscow’s goal of establishing a land bridge with Crimea and dominating southern Ukraine, Britain’s MoD said in a tweet.

The Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally seized control of in 2014, lies south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov. To the east it is separated from Russia by the narrow Kerch Strait.

The ministry noted that Russia had held an “illegitimate referendum” in Crimea back in 2014 to retrospectively legitimize the peninsula’s accession to the country.

“Russia’s own domestic elections have been plagued by allegations of vote-rigging, and high-profile opposition figures have been barred from standing,” the ministry added.

– Chelsea Ong

Zelenskyy meets senior US delegation, a Ukrainian official said

The US secretaries of state and defense met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday evening for a high-level visit by an American delegation to the capital of the war-torn country since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

The meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was confirmed by Presidential Advisor Oleksiy Arestovych in an interview on Ukrainian television.

It came as Ukraine urged the West for more powerful weapons against Russia’s campaign in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where Moscow’s troops were trying to drive off the last Ukrainian troops in the stricken port of Mariupol.

“Yes, they are meeting with the President. Let’s hope that something will be decided about further aid,” Arestovych said in an interview on Ukrainian television.

Before the meeting, Zelenskyy said he expected results from the Americans, both in terms of weapons and security guarantees.

“You can’t come to us today empty-handed, and we don’t just expect presents or cake, we expect certain things and certain weapons,” he said.

Associated Press

Ukraine blames Russia after Mariupol humanitarian corridor failed

People walk along a street near apartment buildings destroyed during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, April 22, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

No humanitarian routes have been established from the besieged port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, blaming Russian forces for failing to cease fire.

Vereshchuk said the Ukrainian side will try again on Monday to establish a safe passage from Mariupol. She urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is due to travel to Moscow ahead of his visit to Kyiv this week, to call for a ceasefire and open humanitarian corridors from Mariupol.

“This is what Guterres should talk about in Moscow when he prepares to talk about peace,” Vereshchuk said.

—Reuters

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/25/russia-ukraine-live-updates.html Breaking news about Russia and the war in Ukraine

Chrissy Callahan

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