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UEFA bans Russian teams from Champions League

May 2, 2022

Russian teams would be banned from competing in the 2022-2023 season of the Champions League, UEFA officials said. Israel has asked Russia to apologize over Sergey Lavrov's Hitler comments. Relive DW's live updates.

The logo of the Russian Football Union is seen at the RFU headquarters
UEFA has previously suspended Russian teams 'until further notice'Image: Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS/dpa/picture alliance
  • Ukraine says it has uncovered a Russian spy ring within its military
  • Germany could quit Russian oil use by end of summer
  • UN says more than 5.5 million people have fled Ukraine
  • UEFA bans Russian clubs from 2022 Champions League

This article is now closed. For the latest news on Ukraine, head to our new live updates

Zelenskyy: Russia 'has forgotten all the lessons of World War II'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's suggestion that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was Jewish shows "the Russian leadership has forgotten all the lessons of World War II."

The suggestion by Lavrov that Hitler, responsible for ordering and organizing the death of 6 million Jewish people, was Jewish shows Moscow "never learned those lessons."

Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, made his comments in his nightly video address.

Bolshoi cancels performances directed by war critics

Moscow's Bolshoi Theater abruptly cancelled opera and ballet performances this week, substituting "Don Pasquale" and "Nureyev" with performances of "The Barber of Seville" and "Spartacus." 

Though no comment was given on the programming change, the directors of the originally scheduled performances have come under pressure for their outspoken opposition to Russian's invasion of Ukraine.

Opera director Timofey Kulyabin, who spoke out against Vladimir Putin's decision to invade and is thought to be residing in Europe, has not commented on the cancellation. 

Kirill Serebrennikov, who left Moscow in March and has been under pressure from Russian authorities for years, says he was not surprised by the cancellation of a ballet about Rudolf Nureyev, a gay ballet genius who defected from the Soviet Union.

"This ballet is about man's yearning for freedom. Freedom to create and freedom to live. These days 'Nureyev' is inappropriate and impossible on the Bolshoi stage. They are afraid of unnecessary associations and uncomfortable artists," he said, calling the move a throwback to the Soviet era.

The Bolshoi has lost several key performers of late, most notably prima ballerina Olga Smirnova, as well as principal dancers Jacopo Tissi and Bruna Galiagnone. Saint Petersburg's Mariinsky Ballet, too, has seen several of it's principal dancers flee the country over the war.

EU prepares for possible end of Russian gas supply

The EU warned that Russia may end its supply of gas to member states at any moment, following Moscow's decision to stop exports to both Poland and Bulgaria.

Russia has demanded that "unfriendly countries," including the EU, pay for their imports in rubles following sanctions against Russia's central bank.

The European Commissioner for energy, Kadri Simson, said that attempts to pay for gas and oil in rubles, even with a workaround, would constitute a breach of the EU's sanctions.

EU states have been discussing the possibility of an embargo against Russian oil — a move blocked by Hungary — but several states are highly dependent on imports of Russian gas.

Simson said that the 27 member states would begin to stockpile gas in preparation for a possible breakdown in Russian fuel imports.

We now depend on foreign fuel supplies: Inna Sovsun, Ukrainian Committee on Energy

Ukraine calls on Germany to block Russian cargo ships

Ukraine's Ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk asked Berlin to stop letting Russian ships unload their goods at German ports.

In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel on Monday, Melnyk called on Germany "to boycott all Russian ships or ships with Russian cargo — especially oil tankers."

Dockworkers in Amsterdam turned back a Russian tanker on Saturday after it had been barred entry from a port in Sweden.

Melnyk specified a tanker moored at the German port of Rostock, which is due to be unloaded on Monday or Tuesday, calling for it to not be unloaded. Rostock plays a key role in supplying oil and oil products to German refineries.

Melnyk has repeatedly pushed Berlin to take a tougher stance against Moscow, sometimes even drawing criticism for it.

Berlin won't lift sanctions without Kyiv's consent, Scholz says

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended his approach regarding Ukraine and the delivery of weapons in an interview with the German public broadcaster ZDF.

Against criticisms that he had been too hesitant in sending heavy weapons, Scholz said that "every single decision must be carefully weighed up."

He added that contributions from Germany and its partners had meant that "the Ukrainian army, that has really been successful, has been able to hold out this long against a much stronger enemy."

The chancellor said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had not considered the effectiveness of Ukrainian forces and the support from western states.

"We will not lift the sanctions [against Russia] without the consent of Ukraine," Scholz said.

"Our goal must also be that Russia doesn't succeed in its intentions," he added.

Scholz had met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in the day to discuss, among other things, the situation in Ukraine.

'You cannot change borders through violence'

UEFA bans Russian teams from Champions League

All Russian soccer clubs have been barred from taking part in the 2022/23 season of the Champions League, European football's governing body UEFA announced on Monday.

"Russia will have no affiliated clubs participating in UEFA club competitions in the 2022/23 season," it said in a statement.

The Russian national team and clubs had been banned from competitions "until further notice" shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The confirmation that Russian men's soccer clubs will not be allowed to take part in the Champions League came as UEFA also confirmed the exclusion of Russia from the Women's European Championship in England in July.

Russia's bids to host the men's Euros in 2028 or 2032 were also rejected. The bids had both been launched after the war began.

Russia was hit with a slew of sport bans following its invasion of Ukraine, including being barred from taking part in this year's men's World Cup set to take place in Qatar.

Putin insists sanctions have little impact

Fire at Russian arms factory leaves two dead

Two workers at an arms factory in the Russian city of Perm have died after a fire broke out on Sunday, the local labor protection authority announced.

"Three workers were injured in the accident, one of which died at the scene, two were taken to hospital. Of those, one later died in the clinic," the authority said.

The gunpowder factory produces multiple rocket launchers which have been used by the Russian military in Ukraine. The city of Perm is located deep in Russia, far from the Ukrainian border.

Accidents and fires have been reported at several military and arms production facilities since the war began. There were reports of up to 20 fatalities after a missile research institute in the city of Tver, north of Moscow, burned down in mid-April.

There is no evidence that the various incidents are connected.

Russian strike hits key bridge in Odesa

Ukraine said on Monday that a Russian strike has hit a strategically key road and rail bridge in the coastal city of Odesa.

The bridge had already been damaged in previous strikes. The loss of this logistical route would obstruct the supply of weapons and other goods from neighboring Romania.

The bridge crosses the mouth of the Dniester River and is the only connection with the region south of the city.

Russian officials have previously said their military aim is to take control of the south of Ukraine, connecting occupied territories in eastern Donbas with the pro-Russian region of Trans-Dniester in Moldova where Russian troops are already stationed.

Anti-war Russians can use Tor to contact US intelligence: CIA

The US' foreign intelligence agency, CIA, has said Russians who are opposed to President Vladimir's Putin war on Ukraine and want to aid intelligence efforts to stop it can use its darknet site, accessible only through the Tor browser.

The browser has encryption features not available on most browsers and masks users' identities and locations.

The CIA's social media channels on Monday started showing instructions in English and Russian on how to access the darknet through Tor.

 A CIA official speaking on condition of anonymity told the AP news agency that the CIA knows “there are concerned Russians who are desperately trying to reach CIA.''

Tor works by routing internet traffic through multiple third parties, making it difficult or impossible to trace its origin. It has proven a highly useful tool, among other things, for dissidents in authoritarian countries who wish to remain unidentified in their communications with the outside world. 

DW also provides information on how to access its services via Tor to circumvent censorship in certain countries, including Russia, which has clamped down on independent media.

Infographic in Russian for accessing Tor
DW also gives information in Russian for accessing Tor

Civilian death toll in Ukraine passes 3,000: UN

Altogether 3,153 civilians have been confirmed killed in military actions since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Monday.

The OHCHR said the real toll was likely much higher, with certain sites difficult to access and the process of corroboration still ongoing.

Most of the victims were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, such as missile strikes and airstrikes, the rights office said. It did not attribute responsibility for the civilian deaths.

Russia has claimed it has never targeted civilians during what it terms a “special military operation” in the country.

German antisemitism commissioner says Lavrov perverting the truth

Felix Klein, the antisemitism commissioner for the German government, strongly condemned a statement from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggesting that Adolf Hitler "had Jewish blood."

"Lavrov has cynically twisted victims and perpetrators, historically and in the present," he told the Funke Media Group.

"This perversion of the truth becomes particularly clear in view of the fact that among the countless people who have suffered as a result of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, there are Jewish families and Holocaust survivors," he added.

Dani Dayan, the chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, expressed the same view in comments to DW.

"The statement of Foreign Minister Lavrov is false, is despicable and is [deserving] of the strongest condemnation. He is basically engaging in Holocaust inversion, making the victims of the Holocaust the perpetrators, and that is inexcusable," he said.

Dayan: Lavrov statement 'despicable'

German government believes training Ukrainians does not make it a combatant

Berlin does not share the opinion of a non-partisan advisory service leaked in domestic media over the weekend, a German government spokesman has said. The opinion had argued that training Ukrainian troops on German soil could make Germany a party to the conflict under international law.

Spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Germany was confident it remained a non-combatant.

"Our conviction is that even the training of Ukrainian soldiers in Germany on weapons systems still does not mean a direct entry into war." He added it was "always in a difficult balancing act" when it comes to supporting Ukraine.

Hebestreit said, for instance, that invading another sovereign country definitely contravenes international law.

Excerpts of the Bundestag panel's report, dated late March, were published in newpapers belonging to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland alliance on Monday.

The speculation over the level of Berlin's involvement came after the US Department of Defense said Friday that it was training Ukrainian troops in Germany and helping them learn how to operate advanced weapons systems.

On Thursday, German lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to provide Ukraine with "heavy weapons and complex [weapons] systems."

UNHCR says more than 5.5 million people have fled Ukraine

More than 5.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said.

In addition to the 5,563,959 registered refugees, at least 7.7 million people are displaced within Ukraine.

Ukraine refugees find shelter in Lviv school

Most of the refugees have crossed the border into Poland, but many travel on to other European destinations.

Germany has registered 398,170 Ukrainian refugees, primarily women and children, according to recent federal police data.

Finland cans contract with Russian firm for new nuclear plant

The Finnish consortium Fennovoima has terminated its contract with Russia's state-owned nuclear power supplier Rosatom to build Finland's third nuclear power plant.

"The war in Ukraine has worsened the risks for the project," Fennovoima said in a statement, also citing "significant delays."

The planned Hanhikivi plant was commissioned before Russia invaded Ukraine and was to be built in Pyhajoki, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the port of Oulu in northern Finland.

The final construction permit was to be granted by the end of 2022, but the country's Finance Minister, Mika Lintila has repeatedly said it would be "absolutely impossible" for the government to grant the permit.

Finland has five nuclear reactors at two plants supplying 30% of the country's electricity.

Russia says it downed MiG, Ukraine says it destroyed boats

The Russian military said it had shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet, while the Ukrainians said they destroyed Russian patrol boats.

The Russians said they shot down the MiG-29 near Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine. They added they had hit 38 military targets in Ukraine, including ammunition depots and control centers.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine defense ministry released aerial footage showing an explosion on a small military vessel it said was one of two Russian boats destroyed by drones.

"Two Russian Raptor boats were destroyed at dawn today near Snake Island," it said. 

DW could not immediately independently confirm the information.

Civilians being evacuated from Mariupol but many remain trapped

More civilians were evacuated from the besieged city of Mariupol on Monday, but hundreds remained trapped, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

"The situation has become a sign of a real humanitarian catastrophe," Vereshchuk said.

Most of the city is under Russian control. An unknown number of civilians and fighters remained trapped at the Azovstal steel plant, the last Ukrainian stronghold in the city.

On Sunday President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that more than 100 civilians had been evacuated from the plant.

They were the first people to leave since Russian forces surrounded the large industrial area.

Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the city's mayor, said Russia had resumed shelling the plant after Sunday's evacuations.

Civilians evacuated from Mariupol steel plant

Israel blasts Lavrov's comments on Zelenskyy, Hitler

The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday summoned the Russian ambassador after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Lavrov had made "an unforgivable, scandalous statement" and demanded an apology from Moscow.

On Sunday, Lavrov defended Russia's claim that it is seeking to "de-Nazify" Ukraine, saying it did not matter that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Jewish, because "Adolf Hitler also had Jewish blood." Hitler's full family tree has gaps in it, but there is no evidence he was Jewish and he was raised a Catholic.

"The wise Jewish people say that the most keen anti-Semites are usually Jews," Lavrov told Italian TV channel Rete4.

Lavrov: 'Hitler also had Jewish origins'

"Foreign Minister Lavrov's remarks are both an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error," Lapid said. "Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust. The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism."

"Ukrainians are not Nazis, only the Nazis were Nazis, only they carried out the systematic extermination of Jews," Lapid said.

Hungary does not support EU ban on Russian oil imports 

Hungary opposes the European Union extending sanctions on Russian oil, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on Monday.

"The Hungarian stance regarding any oil and gas embargo has not changed: We do not support them," Kovacs told the Reuters news agency.

His statement comes ahead of a special meeting of EU energy ministers in Brussels on Monday. 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has not vetoed other EU sanctions against Moscow, but has also indicatively not criticized President Vladimir Putin directly. 

Orban has rejected curbs on oil and gas imports from Russia, saying they would damage Hungary's economy. 

He won Hungary's recent election in part on a promise to preserve gas supply security for Hungarian households.

Britain says over a quarter of Russia's tactical groups 'combat ineffective'

British military intelligence has estimated that more than a quarter of Russia's battalion tactical groups have been rendered "combat ineffective" in Ukraine.

The Russian army operates through battalion tactical groups.

In its latest intelligence update, the UK Defense Ministry said Russia had committed over 120 battalion tactical groups, approximately 65% of its ground combat force.

"It is likely that more than a quarter of these units have now been rendered combat ineffective," it wrote on Twitter.

This includes some of Russia's most elite units, the UK said. "It will probably take years for Russia to reconstitute these forces."

Russia has not commented on the assertion, and DW can not independently verify it.

Marriage proposal from Ukraine's front line

New Zealand slaps more sanctions on Russia

New Zealand has imposed sanctions on Russian lawmakers and defense entities in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"As President [Vladimir] Putin's war machine continues its illegal attacks and as further revelations of atrocities come to light, we are determined to impose costs on those involved," said Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The sanctions targeted 170 members of the upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council, and six companies and organizations in the defense sector.

New Zealand also said it had expanded measures taken against more than 400 people already subject to travel bans.

"This will further prohibit those we have already sanctioned from carrying out activity in New Zealand and prevent New Zealand from becoming a financial safe haven for those involved with Russia's illegal activities in Ukraine," Mahuta said.

EU energy ministers to discuss Russian energy supplies

European Union energy ministers are due to discuss how to deal with Russia's decision to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria at a special meeting in Brussels later on Monday.

The meeting comes as the bloc's biggest economy, Germany, signaled it was ready to support a gradual, EU-wide embargo on Russian oil imports.

"And we are preparing this in such a way, that we could if necessary keep it up over the coming years," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told Germany's ARD television on Sunday.

Russia halted gas exports to Poland and Bulgaria late last week, ramping up the pressure on all EU states to find alternative suppliers.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to ensure that Russia's decision to turn off the tap would have as little impact as possible on European consumers.

German CDU leader expected in Ukraine

Friedrich Merz, the leader of Germany's largest opposition party, is expected in Kyiv later on Monday. Although his trip and particularly its timing has not been officially confirmed, representatives of his center-right Christian Democrats, the CDU/CSU, confirmed the plans off the record in multiple German media outlets over the weekend. 

Merz's chief of staff, Jacob Schrot, wrote on Twitter, without specifying when the trip would take place, that Merz had three messages to impart on his visit.

Firstly, Merz wanted to show "Germany stands by Ukraine's side," Schrot wrote, while Merz also "wants to listen and then bring the concrete requests for support from Ukrainian interlocutors back to Germany."

And thirdly, Schrot said, Merz wanted to show with his visit that "Germany's support is not a question of government versus opposition." 

However, if anything, Merz has been trying to portray himself domestically as more proactive on Ukraine than Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

Late last week, Merz accused Scholz of demonstrating "hesitation," "procrastination" and "trepidation" on Ukraine. Meanwhile, Markus Söder, the leader of Bavaria's CSU, said on Saturday that Scholz had failed to give people adequate orientation amid the conflict, saying "this kind of hesitation, hiding and ducking is not worthy of a German chancellor."

Scholz has taken flak at home and abroad in recent weeks, despite taking radical steps by German standards, for still appearing more cautious than many of his Western counterparts and for trying to placate the more pacifist elements of his supporter base.

Russian tycoon forced into fire sale after criticizing war

Oleg Tinkov, the founder of one of Russia's biggest banks, told The New York Times on Sunday that he has been forced to sell a 35% stake in his bank to a company run by Vladimir Potanin, a mining oligarch considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The fire sale came following Tinkov's criticism of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Instagram. The day after his criticism was posted, the Kremlin contacted his bank and threatened to nationalize it if the financial institution did not cut ties with Tinkov.

Tinkov told The New York Times, "I couldn't discuss the price. It was like a hostage."

He would not talk about his current location, but did say he had hired bodyguards out of fear of retaliation from the Russian state.

Ukraine says a Russian spy ring detected

Ukrainian security forces said they uncovered a Russian spy ring, and said one of the spies was working in Ukraine's military general staff.

"The comrades were supposed to shoot down a passenger plane over Russia or Belarus and then say Ukraine was responsible," said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

He added that Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles would have been used to execute the planned shootdown.

Lavrov: No plans to end war before Victory Day

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country has no plans to end the war any time soon.

He said Moscow would not rush to end the conflict in time for the May 9 Victory Day commemorations, which marks Nazi Germany's surrender to Allied forces — including the then Soviet Union — in 1945. 

"Our military will not artificially adjust their actions to any date, including Victory Day," Lavrov said in an interview with Italian private broadcaster Mediaset.

"The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, first of all, on the need to minimize any risks for the civilian population and Russian military personnel," he added.

He also said that NATO and the EU have "resigned themselves" to the United States. 

"And in Washington they have decided that the world must now be monopolar, they talk about that all the time."

Lavrov also accused the US and Canada of training "neo-Nazi subdivisions" that have entered the ranks of the Ukrainian military, in comments referring mainly to the Azov regiment in eastern Ukraine.

Russian governor says two explosions in Belgorod

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the regional governor of the Belgorod region in southern Russia that borders Ukraine, said two explosions took place in the early hours on Monday.

No further details were given, and Gladkov said no casualties or damage had been reported.

Germany could be off Russian oil by late summer

Germany's Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck has said he expects his country to be fully independent of Russian crude oil imports by the end of summer.

Sweden's foreign minister: Finland will apply to join NATO

Ann Linde, Sweden's foreign minister, has told Swedish television that Finland will almost certainly apply for NATO membership.

Will Finland apply for NATO membership?

Sweden and Finland already cooperate with NATO on military and security matters, but are not formally members of the alliance.

But Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced a rethink of both nations' policy of military neutrality.

The Article 5 clause of the alliance treaty that declares an attack on one is an attack on all member states is being seen in a new light in both countries as offering stronger protection, should Russia attack.

Summary of Sunday's events in Russia's war on Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described a meeting in Kyiv Sunday with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a strong indication of support. Other members of the US Congress accompanied her as part of the delegation.

Nancy Pelosi on secret visit to Ukraine

In his daily televised address, Zelenskyy said Ukrainians "are grateful to all partners who send such important and powerful signals of support by visiting our capital at such a difficult time."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Germany's response to the war in Ukraine has been hesitant, compared to that of other European nations.

Kuleba said that should Russia win the war, "Europe will not enjoy stability and security for decades."

The diplomat also sat for a lengthy interview with Chinese state media, a rare move for China considering its reluctance to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In the interview, Kuleba asked China to be Ukraine's "security guarantor," referring to a 2013 promise from Beijing to act in that capacity should Kyiv ever be under threat.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended his policy of sending weapons to Ukraine so the country can defend itself against Russian aggression.

Germany Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Western sanctions are aimed at weakening Russia's economy so that it cannot begin another war.

A planned operation to evacuate civilians from parts of Mariupol outside the Azovstal steelworks on Sunday was postponed to Monday morning. The evacuees in the UN-brokered "safe passage operation" will be taken to Zaporizhzhia, northwest of Mariupol.

100 civilians expected to arrive in Zaporizhzhia: DW's Fanny Fascar

It is separate to an evacuation operation that saw dozens of civilians leave the strategic port city's besieged Azovstal steel plant on Sunday. Zelenskyy said around 100 people had managed to leave the complex.

UK military intelligence said Russia may aim to exert a strong political and economic influence on the Ukrainian city of Kherson after initiating a currency change to the ruble and ruling out its return to Ukrainian control.

Russia claimed a fire broke out at a Russian Defense Ministry facility in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine.

ab, lo, ar/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)