Live updates | Slovakia can not confirm that the defense is destroyed

LUXEMBOURG – Slovakia says it can not confirm that the air defense systems it has supplied to Ukraine have been destroyed by the Russian armed forces.

Russia’s Defense Ministry says naval-launched cruise missiles were used to destroy four S-300 air defense missile systems on the southern outskirts of the city of Dnipro and to kill about 25 Ukrainian troops.

The ministry did not say which country provided the air defense systems that were destroyed in Sunday’s attack.

Asked by the Associated Press whether Russia has destroyed Slovakian-supplied S-300s, Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said “we have no evidence of this.”

“We have heard news about this, but based on information from Ukraine we can not confirm it. This has been ruled out by Ukraine,” he said at an EU meeting in Luxembourg.

Korcok says Slovakia is supplying the systems “because we want to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENT IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

– Ukrainian defenders dig in like Russia increases firepower

– Biden, Modi to speak while the United States is pushing for a hard line against Russia

– Ukrainian nuns open their monastery doors to the displaced

– The United States doubts new Russian war commander can end Moscow scammers

– Analysis: War, economy could weaken Putin’s place as leader

– Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

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SECOND DEVELOPMENT:

ZAGREB, Croatia – Croatia is expelling 24 Russian diplomats and other embassy staff and joining other European nations that have done so.

The Croatian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it had summoned Russia’s ambassador to Zagreb and conveyed the “strongest condemnation of the brutal aggression against Ukraine and numerous crimes that have been committed.”

The Russian side has been urged to halt military activities, withdraw its troops and ensure the evacuation of civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid, the Croatian ministry said. Croatia expects those responsible for crimes to be brought to justice, the statement said.

Several EU countries have deported Russian diplomats following the killings in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities. Croatia says it has asked 18 diplomats and 6 Russian embassy staff to leave the country.

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VATICAN CITY – The Vatican says a Ukrainian and a Russian family will be among those taking turns carrying a cross as part of the traditional Good Friday procession led by Pope Francis at the Colosseum.

The Vatican on Monday unveiled some details of the torch-lit crucifixion ceremony at the ancient arena, which draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists to Rome during Holy Week. In the procession, the participants pass on a high lightweight cross to other participants, and prayers and meditations are read aloud.

The meditations composed for this year’s night parade “have been inspired by the life of each family,” the Vatican said without elaborating.

To hand over the cross to the Ukrainian and Russian families will be a family that has dealt with the loss of a child. The Ukrainians and Russians will take turns passing the cross on to a family of migrants.

Condemning repeatedly the loss of civilian life, the pope has sounded more and more desperate calls for an end to what he calls “the folly of war” in Ukraine and for a return to negotiations. But he has stopped condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin for his role in the February 24 invasion.

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BRUSSELS – Ireland’s foreign minister says the EU should consider imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil industry, but warns that it is important for the 27-nation bloc to remain united.

Several EU countries are dependent on Russian oil and gas imports. After much debate, the bloc agreed last week in phasing in restrictions on coal imports in connection with Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney says “we need to take a maximalist approach to sanctions to offer the strongest possible deterrent to continue this war and brutality.”

When EU foreign ministers met in Luxembourg on Monday, Coveney said, “we think it should include oil. We know it is very difficult for some Member States and we need to maintain a united position throughout the EU.”

The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, is assessing what more can be done with a fresh package of sanctions.

Coveney says, “The European Union is spending hundreds of millions of euros on importing oil from Russia. It is certainly helping to finance this war. And in our opinion, we need to cut off that financing of war.”

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MOSCOW – The Russian military says it has destroyed a shipment of air defense missile systems supplied by the West.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the military used naval-launched Kalibr cruise missiles to destroy four S-300 air defense missile launchers on the southern outskirts of the city of Dnipro. He said about 25 Ukrainian troops were also hit by the attack on Sunday.

Konashenkov said in a statement Monday that Ukraine had received air defense systems from a European country he did not name. Konashenkov’s claim could not be independently verified.

Last week, Slovakia said it had handed over its Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine, which has begged the West to provide it with more weapons, including long-range air defense systems.

The Slovak Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement late Sunday calling the news that the S-300 system given to Ukraine had been destroyed for “disinformation”. However, it was unclear whether both sides were referring to the same air strike. The Russians have targeted missile defense systems in three different locations in recent days.

SEOUL, South Korea – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday called on South Korea to make military weapons available to help its country fight back against invading Russian forces.

Zelensky’s video address to South Korean lawmakers came hours after Seoul’s Defense Ministry confirmed it was rejecting a Ukrainian request for air defense weapons. The ministry cited the government’s principle of limiting military aid to non-lethal supplies.

“The Republic of Korea has tanks, ships and various equipment that can block Russian missiles, and we would be grateful if the Republic of Korea could help us fight back against Russia,” Zelenskyy said, referring to South Korea’s formal name.

Zelenskyy, whose comments were dubbed by a translator during the televised speech, thanked South Korea for participating in US-led economic sanctions against Moscow, but said sanctions alone are not enough.

He highlighted Russia’s brutal takeover of Mariupol, and briefly stopped his speech to play a video showing buildings hit by rockets, Russian tanks firing as they roll through ruined streets, and people moaning over dead relatives in overcrowded hospitals. . ‘Russia aims to eliminate Ukraine’s independence and separate the country. It tries to eliminate the culture and language of the Ukrainian nation, “said Zelenskyy.

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ROME – Nearly 90,000 refugees from the war in Ukraine have arrived in Italy. The Italian Interior Ministry said in providing the data on Monday that most of them travel to Milan, Rome, Naples and Bologna. The majority of those arriving live with relatives or friends among the nearly 250,000 Ukrainians who have lived and worked in Italy for years, according to the Italian government. The refugees include about 46,000 women and 33,000 minors. Of those who have not previously arranged a place to live, many become hosts of charities, church organizations, and cities throughout Italy.

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BRUSSELS – Austrian Foreign Minister says Chancellor Karl Nehammer is taking “very clear messages of a humanitarian and political nature” to a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday that Nehammer decided to take the trip after meeting in Kiev on Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and after contacts with the leaders of Turkey, Germany and the EU.

Schallenberg said ahead of a meeting with his EU colleagues in Luxembourg that “we do not want to leave any chance unused and must seize every opportunity to end the humanitarian hell in Ukraine.”

He added that “any voice that makes it clear to President Putin what reality looks like outside the walls of the Kremlin is not a wasted vote.”

Schallenberg said Nehammer and Putin will meet one-on-one with no media options. He insisted that Austria had done everything possible to ensure that the visit was not abused, “and I think he (Putin) himself should have an interest in someone telling him the truth and really finding out what’s going on outside. . “

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BRUSSELS – Germany’s foreign minister says Ukraine needs heavy weapons to defend itself and that this is not the time for “apologies”.

The President of Ukraine has warned that his country is facing a crucial time and that Russian troops will step up operations in the east.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said when she arrived at a meeting with her EU colleagues on Monday: “What is clear is that Ukraine needs additional military material, above all heavy weapons, and now is not the time. to apologies – now is the time for creativity and pragmatism. “

Germany broke with a foreign policy tradition following Russia’s invasion to supply weapons to Ukraine, but has faced criticism from Kiev for perceived hesitation and slowness in supplying material.

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BRUSSELS – EU foreign ministers are meeting to weigh the effectiveness of the bloc’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine amid concerns over Moscow’s preparations for a major attack in the east.

Ministers will hold talks with International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim AA Khan as Western pressure rises to hold accountable for any war crimes in Ukraine accountable.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who heads Monday’s meeting in Luxembourg, lamented what he called “brutal, brutal aggression” by Russian troops.

Borrell, who was in Ukraine over the weekend, says further EU sanctions against Russia “are always on the table.”

He says he is “afraid that Russian troops will gather to the east to launch an attack on the Donbas,” the region in the east, after Moscow withdrew its forces from around the capital Kiev last week.

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LONDON – Britain’s Defense Ministry says Ukraine has repulsed several attacks from Kremlin forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, resulting in the destruction of Russian tanks, vehicles and artillery.

In an intelligence update released Monday morning, the ministry says Russian shelling in the two eastern regions continues.

“Russia’s continued dependence on unmanned aerial vehicles reduces its ability to discriminate when targeting and carrying out attacks, while at the same time greatly increasing the risk of civilian casualties,” the ministry said.

The ministry also said that Russia’s “former use” of phosphorus munitions in the Donetsk region raises the possibility that they could be used in Mariupol as the battle for the city on Ukraine’s south coast intensifies.

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand will send a 50-strong military transport plane and support team to Europe, as well as donate money to Britain to buy weapons, as it significantly escalates its response to the war in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the C130 Hercules aircraft would travel across Europe to transport much-needed equipment and supplies to key distribution centers. She said the plane would not fly directly into Ukraine as most military equipment is transported into the country over land.

Ardern said her government would also spend an additional $ 13 million ($ 9 million) on military and human rights aid, including NZ $ 7.5 million to the UK to buy weapons and ammunition.

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