Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are being driven out of villages near Kharkiv. And Ukrainian soldiers are in Germany for howitzer training.
Kharkiv has been under continous assault by Russian forces since the beginning of the invasion in February
Ukraine says Russians being pushed back near Kharkiv
Ukraine reduces Russian gas flows to Europe
Germany's Scholz speaks to Zelenskyy about Ukraine support
US House passes fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package
Ukrainians mourn first post-Soviet President Leonid Kravchuk
This live updates article is now closed. For the latest on Russia's invasion, please click here.
Germany is examining a Russian announcement that it is imposing sanctions on parts of Gazprom Germania, an Economy Ministry spokesperson said.
The firm is the former German unit of Russian gas producer Gazprom. Along with its subsidiaries, it operates gas storage facilities and gas trading in Germany.
"The German government and Federal Network Agency, as trustees of Gazprom Germania, are already in the process of taking the necessary precautions and preparing for various scenarios," the spokesperson said in a statement.
They added that gas supplies are currently guaranteed and constantly checked.
The network agency said in a separate statement that it had no further details and was preparing for different scenarios.
Russia's Gazprom gave up ownership of Gazprom Germania last month without explanation, forcing Germany's energy network regulator to take over operations there.
The UN's nuclear agency says it is again receiving remote data from the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine.
The transmission was interrupted when Russian forces occupied the site at the start of their invasion on February 24. They withdrew from the area around a month later.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said late Wednesday that data transmission was restored after its inspectors and technicians were able to visit the now-definct plant in April.
The agency said it was the first time in two months that it has received remote data from all nuclear power plants and spent fuel storage facilities in Ukraine where monitoring systems are in place.
IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said it was "a very important step for the IAEA to continue to implement safeguards in Ukraine.''
He also warned that on-site verification at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant "continues to be challenging owing to the presence of Russian forces and Rosatom personnel at the site.''
UNICEF spokesperson James Elder has told DW that not enough is being done to help children escape the war in Ukraine.
"They have been bearing the brunt of this war and trauma," he said. "Many of them have spent time in bunkers. They've seen bombardment. Increasingly, we see children in conflicts like this on the front lines."
Elder said that a child has been displaced from their homes "almost every second since the war started. That's mind boggling."
Despite "an enormous effort going in aid agencies," he stressed that the sheer scale of attacks meant the needs of children could not be met. "So the impact on children remains so horrendously large," he added.
According to the UN, almost 6 million refugees have fled the country, most of them women, children and the elderly.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have spoken over the phone about how best to continue providing support amid Russia's invasion.
The two leaders "exchanged views on very concrete, practical ways of continuing to support Ukraine and agreed to remain in close contact," German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement.
According to the statement, Scholz stressed that Russia should bring an immediate end to hostilities, withdraw forces and restore Ukraine's territorial integrity.
"We appreciate the high level of dialogue with Germany and support in our struggle!" Zelenskyy said in a tweet.
A pro-Russia hacker group known as "Killnet" claimed a cyberattack on websites belonging to several Italian institutions on Wednesday, Italy's ANSA news agency and several other domestic outlets including newspaper Corriere della Sera reported.
As of Wednesday evening, websites belonging to Italy's Defense Ministry, Senate and National Health Institute were not functioning.
The Defense Ministry's website said it was "under maintenance" and the Senate's was also inaccessible.
Police said an investigation was ongoing but provided no further details. Italy's Defense Ministry and cybersecurity agency have not commented.
Alexander Müller who sits on the German Bundestag or parliament's defense committee with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), part of Chancellor Scholz's governing coalition, told DW that training Ukrainian forces on German soil does not make Germany a party to the conflict.
"Howitzers are the system that Ukraine said had the highest priority when they came to us," Müller said.
He added, "International law is clear; we are not part of this war. And we are not taking part in this war by educating Ukrainian soldiers in Germany."
"Legally, it is clear. But, you know, Vladimir Putin does not look at international law. He makes his own decisions," Müller noted.
Under a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian entities are not allowed to make deals with Gazprom Germania and 30 other companies, nor is it permissible to fulfill obligations under existing deals.
In addition to Gazprom Germania, Russia also sanctioned EuRoPol GAZ SA which owns the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.
The decree did not detail the exact nature of the sanctions being Imposed.
In early April, the German government took the unprecedented step of taking control of Gazprom's German subsidiary. The takeover was preceded by an opaque ownership transfer that triggered Berlin's national security community to act.
Milos Zeman, the Czech President once known for his friendly attitude toward Russia and the Kremlin, has approved a request made by 103 Czechs to join Ukraine's armed forces in the country's struggle to repel Russia's invasion.
Under Czech law, Czechs are barred from military service for foreign armies. Those who violate the law can face a prison sentence of up to five years.
Approximately 400 Czechs had applied for an exemption to the ban on military service for foreign armies, the Czech Ministry of Defense said. Most of the requests have yet to be processed.
Prime Minister Petr Fiala still has to co-sign approval, but he has said he would sign all requests that have been approved by Czech authorities.
Slovak President Zuzana Caputova and Polish President Andrzej Duda said in Bratislava that their countries would work together to help Ukraine become a candidate for EU membership as soon as possible.
Caputova said, "For the future and Europe and for peace in Europe, it is important that we talk about the future status of Ukraine."
Duda said Ukrainians are fighting not just for their country but for a free Europe and "against the ambitions and imperial actions of today's Russia."
At least in more typical times, it can take years or even decades to graduate from candidate status to a full EU member.
Following weeks of Russian bombardment, a Ukrainian official warns the southeastern port city of Mariupol has been transformed by the deteriorating situation into a "medieval ghetto."
Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine's human rights ombudswoman, appealed to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help her country evacuate wounded fighters who remain still holed up at the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged city.
Denisova appealed to the ICRC to help with "all possible measures to protect and assist wounded civilians who are no longer combatants."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a joint press conference with Austria's Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Vienna, " We are in contact with the authorities in Ukraine and in Russia to move forward," to past evacuations of civilians from Mariupol.
"We don't want too much to be being said too soon," Guterres added.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters Ukraine will feel the consequences of Russia' invasion "for 100 years" due to all the unexploded ordinance Russian forces are leaving behind.
"Those who live in Germany know that bombs from World War II are still frequently discovered," Scholz said.
He added, "That is why we will also have to work together on the reconstruction."
Werner Hoyer, president of the European Investment Bank, has told the Reuters news agency that he supports a multi-trillion-Euro Marshall Plan-style recovery program for post-war Ukraine.
Under the post-World War II American recovery plan for Europe, the USS provided massive economic and technical assistance over four years' worth roughly the equivalent of $200 billion in today's currency.
"What will it cost to rebuild, reconstruct Ukraine?" Hoyer asked. "One thing is quite clear to
me: We are not talking about millions but trillions," he added.
Hoyer is a former German Foreign Minister under Chancellor Helmut Kohl who was in power when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
Poland's Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said his country's ambassador to Moscow had been summoned to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Russia's ambassador to Warsaw was splashed with red liquid on May 9, when Russsia commemorates the Soviet Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany.
The red paint was intended to symbolize Russia's bloodshed in Ukraine.
Russian ambassador Sergey Andreev was on an official visit to a Warsaw cemetery where Red Army soldiers who died during World War II were buried at the time of the incident.
The UN's International Labor Organization (ILO) said one-third or 4.8 million jobs in total in Ukraine had been lost since the February 24 Russian invasion.
The ILO predicts an even more dire economic outlook as the war continues in its third month.
"If hostilities ceased immediately, a rapid recovery could ensue, with the return of 3.4 million jobs, thus reducing employment losses to 8.9%," the ILO said in its first report on the consequences of Russia's war on Ukraine.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sweden's Magdalena Andersson announced a mutual defense agreement in case of an attack.
The announcement comes as Sweden and neighboring Finland decide whether to join NATO.
Finland's parliamentary defense committee recommended Finland join NATO earlier in the week.
Johnson was set to travel on to Helsinki later on Wednesday.
Read the full story here.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the war could have likely been prevented if Kyiv had been a member of the transatlantic military alliance NATO beforehand.
"If Ukraine had been part of NATO before the war, there would have been no war," Zelenskyy said in a video call with students at the French University Sciences Po.
Zelenskyy also told the students that he wanted to restore Ukraine's territory before an end of the conflict with Russia, but that he was still open to dialogue.
"Once we recoup all that is ours, we will finish this," he said.
The wives of two Ukrainian soldiers who are still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.
The women, Kateryna Prokopenko and Yuliia Fedusiuk, spoke with Francis at the end of his public audience in St. Peter's Square.
"We hope that this meeting will just give us the chance to save their lives," Fedosiuk told reporters afterwards.
"Our soldiers are waiting to be evacuated to a third country, to lay down their arms in case of evacuation," she said.
The women mentioned that Switzerland or Turkey might be third-country options but provided no further details.
The pope reportedly told the women he would do everything possible and that he would pray for them. In early May, Francis said he'd asked for a meeting with Putin to try and stop the war but did not receive a reply.
Mariupol has seen some of the most destructive fighting in the war since Russia invaded on February 24. The Azovstal steel plant is the last part of the port city that is still held by Ukrainian fighters. Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from the plant in recent days, but not soldiers.
Ukrainian soldiers with the Azov Regiment are running out of food, water and medicine, Prokopenko and Fedusiuk told the pope
A member of the punk band and activist group Pussy Riot evaded police surveillance and escaped Russia, her lawyer confirmed.
Maria Alyokhina told the New York Times that she managed to escape by dressing up as a food courier to avoid authorities who were staked out outside
"I was happy that I made it, because it was an unpredictable and big 'kiss-off' to the Russian authorities," the 33-year-old told the New York Times.
She told the paper that a friend drove her to the border with Belarus and she was eventually able to cross over into EU-member Lithuania.
Alyokhina had been sentenced to a year of restricted movement in September following her participation in a protest showing support for jailed Kremlin-critic Alexei Navalny. Russian authorities, however, moved to covert her sentence into prison time.
Alyokhina was placed under restricted movement last year after she took part in a protest in support of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny
The leaders of the Russian-occupied region of Kherson in southeastern Ukraine said they plan to ask for the area to become a part of Russia, Russian media reported, citing an official.
"There will be a request to make Kherson region a full subject of the Russian Federation," said Kirill Stremousov, an official from the region's Moscow-controlled administration.
The appeal will be made to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stremousov said. Although he did not say when the request will be made.
Russia claimed full control over the Kherson region in April. The area is of strategic importance to Russia, as it provides part of a land connection between Crimea and Russian-backed separatists in areas of eastern Ukraine.
The amount of Russian gas flowing through Ukraine to other European countries has dropped, Russian energy giant Gazprom confirmed.
"Gazprom will deliver Russian gas in the amount of 72 million cubic meters for transit through the territory of Ukraine on May 11," a company spokesman said in comments carried by Russia's Interfax news agency.
The deliveries are down from the previous day, where the order volume was at 95.8 cubic meters.
The confirmation comes after Ukraine shut off some gas flows as of Wednesday morning.
Ukraine's gas operator announced it would redirect gas from the Sokhranivka transit point, which is located in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory. The hub delivered almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe, according to Kyiv. Officials said the gas would be redirected to another transit point.
The German Economy Ministry said that its gas supplies were currently still secure, but that they "are monitoring the situation closely." Germany is Europe's largest natural gas consumer, getting much of its supplies from Russia.
While the larger impact on the gas cubs to households across Europe was unclear, the move is significant in that it's the first time Ukraine has disrupted westward gas flows.
DW correspondent in Ukraine, Amien Essif, said that Ukraine is hoping for Russian forces to retreat from around the second-largest city Kharkiv, similar to Moscow's retreat from areas around Ukraine's capital in April. "Russian forces had completely surrounded [Kyiv], and were then pushed out village by village until they retreated," Essif said.
Essif said that a second pushback of Russian forces around Kharkiv would be important for Ukraine because the city is in the east of the country, but "it's not part of the already Russian-occupied territories in the east."
"[Zelenskyy] has offered Russia a kind of cease-fire if they would agree to go back to the territories they already controlled before the recent invasion," Essif said, referring to separatist-controlled territories in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
"Those would be the terms for a peace agreement."
Ukrainians increasingly feel they are now getting the support they need to win the war, Essif said. "I think they believe the tables have turned a little bit." He added that there was an "easing of tensions" between Ukraine and Germany and cited German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's recent visit to Ukraine.
"Germany has been shaping European policy towards Ukraine," Essif said. "[Ukrainians] see that military imports are coming in their favor now."
Asked whether Ukrainians believe Kyiv can win the war, Essif said "in western Ukraine there has been an undying belief that Ukraine will come out victorious, not just having a cease-fire with Russia" and completely expel Russian forces from all territories occupied by Moscow since 2014.
"I believe it's probably different for those who are under Russian siege ... who are more likely to support a cease-fire," Essif said, referring to people living in eastern Ukraine.
Britain's Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter that fighting continues between Russian and Ukrainian forces on Snake Island, which lies off the coast of Ukraine's southwestern Odesa region.
"If Russia consolidates its position on Zmiinyi Island with strategic air defence and coastal defence cruise missiles, they could dominate the north-western Black Sea," the ministry said.
According to the intelligence update, Ukraine has struck Russian air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones. "Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva," Britain's Defense Ministry said.
Ukrainian soldiers are expected to begin howitzer training in Germany on Wednesday.
The service members arrived in Germany on Tuesday, the dpa news agency reported. The German-built self-propelled howitzers are operated by five soldiers each.
Training is expected to last around 40 days. According to dpa, the training will occur at the Bundeswehr's artillery school in Idar-Oberstein in the western German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Deliveries of Russian gas transit via the Sokhranivka transit point in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk for May 11 fell to zero, data from Ukrainian gas pipeline operator GTSOU showed.
Ukraine shut off some Russian gas flows in the country at 7 a.m. local time Wednesday.
Ukraine's gas operator announced it would redirect gas from the Sokhranivka transit point, which is located in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory. The gas will thus be redirected to another transit point in an area still under control of the Ukrainian government.
Ukraine's gas operator said some 32.6 million cubic meters of gas will be halted by the decision.
"The company repeatedly informed Gazprom about gas transit threats due to the actions of the Russian-controlled occupation forces and stressed stopping interference in the operation of the facilities, but these appeals were ignored," the operator said.
A spokesperson for Russia's state-owned natural gas company Gazprom said he sees no grounds for Ukraine's decision.
Gazprom said it was "technologically impossible" to shift all volumes to the Sudzha point, as GTSOU proposed.
The US House of Representatives agreed to a fresh $40 billion (nearly €38 billion) in assistance for Ukraine.
The money will include funds for defense, humanitarian and economic needs in Ukraine.
No House Democrats voted against the measure, but dozens of Republican members opposed the bill.
The Senate is also expected to pass the measure at the end of this week or next week. President Joe Biden would then sign the bill.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier called on both chambers of Congress to act quickly on the legislation.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, along with other Ukrainian officials, said Russian forces are gradually being pushed away from areas surrounding the major northeastern city of Kharkiv.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy praised the reported territorial gains and said he was "grateful to all of our protectors who are fighting back and showing truly superhuman strength to drive off the invaders' army."
But he also called on his people "not to spread excessive emotions."
"We should not create an atmosphere of excessive moral pressure, where victories are expected weekly and even daily," Zelenskyy said.
The village of Malaya Rohan was among those reportedly retaken by Ukrainian forces on the outskirts of Kharkiv
Tetiana Apatchenko, a press officer for the main Ukrainian force in the region, said four towns north of Kharkiv had been recaptured from Russian troops in recent days. The reports could not be independently verified.
Kharkiv and its surrounds have been under sustained Russian attack since early in the war.
Ukraine's first post-Soviet president, Leonid Kravchuk, died at the age of 88. Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak called his passing a "great loss."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also honored Kravchuk in his nightly video address.
Kravchuk oversaw Ukraine's development of ties with the West, and its transition to a market economy. He also pledged to to give up Ukraine's nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees in a 1994 deal called the Budapest Memorandum.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited Ukraine in an unannounced trip. Germany's top diplomat visited the city of Bucha near Kyiv, where Russian troops are said to have engaged in alleged war crimes.
Baerbock vowed to bring the perpetrators of the Bucha killings to justice. She also visited the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, which had seen massive destruction due to the war.
Baerbock also met with Zelenskyy and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba during the Kyiv visit.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Ukrainian refugees in Moldova during his two-day visit to the Eastern European nation.
At the same time, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he is concerned the focus on Ukrainian refugees could detract from other crises, such as the plight of Syrian refugees in the Middle East.
US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready for a long war in Ukraine. She told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Putin is expecting Western revolve to weaken over time.
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said the Nordic region is "stronger" with both Sweden and Finland in NATO.
The UN said the death toll in Ukraine is "thousands higher" than the reported official figure of 3,381.
ar, sdi, rs, wd/msh, rt (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)