Live updates | Kremlin says expulsions will prompt response

MOSCOW — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the expulsions of Russian diplomats by European countries will prompt a response from Moscow and will complicate international relations.

Germany, France, Italy and Spain are among the countries which have expelled diplomats since Monday.

Peskov said that “we view negatively, we view with regret this narrowing of possibilities for diplomatic communication, diplomatic work in such difficult conditions, in unprecedent crisis conditions.”

He added that “it is short-sighted and a step which firstly will complicate our communication, which is required in order to seek reconciliation. And secondly it will inevitably lead to reciprocal steps.”


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World Bank says war shocks to drag on Asian economies
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— Japan’s top envoy brings back 20 Ukrainians from Poland

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


MADRID — Spain is joining other European Union countries in expelling Russian diplomats.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares announced Tuesday that at least 25 diplomats and staff at the Russian Embassy in Madrid are being expelled.

He said the group represents a threat to Spain’s security and the timing of the expulsion “is a response to crimes that cannot go unpunished,” in a reference to what he said were “barbaric” Russian war crimes in Ukraine in recent days.

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Albares said that evidence of massacres of civilians in areas that Russian troops recently left amounts to “a turning point which the international community cannot ignore.”

He said the full list of who is to be expelled is being finalized and may amount to more than 25 people.

PARIS — French prosecutors say they’re opening investigations into possible war crimes committed against French nationals in Ukraine since Russian troops invaded.

The national prosecutors’ office that specializes in terrorism cases said it launched three war crimes investigations on Tuesday, against suspects yet to be identified.

French law allows prosecutors to investigate suspected war crimes committed outside of France if they involve French victims or suspects who are French or who reside in France.


The three French probes will look into suspected suspected crimes in Mariupol, Chernihiv and Hostomel.

The prosecutors’ statement said the suspected crimes could include deliberate attacks against civilians and deliberately withholding the essentials they needed to survive, physical assaults, and the deliberate destruction of civilian installations.

The statement did not explain how investigators will go about their work or give details about the suspected French victims and what happened to them.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Norwegian publisher says it is handing control of its Russian printing operations to 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, the longtime editor of Russia’s leading independent newspaper.

Amedia CEO Anders Møller Opdahl said Tuesday that “it is impossible for Amedia to continue the printing business” because of the war in Ukraine.

Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper used Amedia’s presses but said last month it will remain closed for the duration of the Russian offensive.

Amedia, which has four printing houses in Russia, said it was withdrawing from Russia and that Muratov “will exercise all shareholder rights at his own discretion and have full control of day-to-day operations.”

GENEVA — The U.N. migration agency now estimates that more than 11 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.

The International Organization for Migration, in its first such full assessment in three weeks, reported Tuesday that more than 7.1 million had been displaced within Ukraine as of April 1. That comes on top of the figure of more than 4 million who have fled abroad, reported by the U.N. refugee agency.

IOM said more than 2.9 million others are actively considering “leaving their place of habitual residence due to war.”

Ukraine had a pre-war population of 44 million.

The tally marked an increase from IOM’s tally in mid-March of more than 9.7 million displaced internally in Ukraine or driven abroad.

LVIV, Ukraine — The governor of eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk region has urged residents to stay inside, shut windows and doors and prepare wet face masks after a Russian strike hit a tank containing nitric acid.

Serhiy Haidai said on the messaging app Telegram Tuesday that the incident occurred near the city of Rubizhne, which the Ukrainian military says the Russians have been trying to take over. He didn’t specify what area the warning applies to.

Haidai warned that nitric acid “is dangerous if inhaled, swallowed and in contact with skin and mucous membranes.” The Russian military has not commented on the claim, and it could not be verified independently.

VIENNA — Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s office says the Austrian leader plans to travel to Ukraine soon.

Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported Tuesday that the chancellery said Nehammer intends to visit and meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “in the coming days.”

Earlier Tuesday, the European Union’s executive Commission said that its president, Ursula von der Leyen, will travel to Kyiv this week.

BERLIN — The prime minister of Moldova says the poor eastern European nation needs major international support to cope with the influx of people fleeing neighboring Ukraine.

Natalia Gavrilita told a donor conference in Berlin on Tuesday that Moldova is hosting about 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, about a quarter of those who have entered since late February.

Gavrilita said Moldova, with a population of 2.5 million, has tried to provide refugees with decent conditions thanks to an “unprecedented mobilization” by the public and private sectors.

But she said “coping with this influx is one of the biggest challenges any Moldovan government has faced over the last three decades.”

She said that in addition to financial aid, Moldova also needs help building electricity interconnectors to Romania. She asked the European Union to open its market to agricultural imports from her country as it pivots away from Russia.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Sweden’s foreign minister says the Scandinavian country is expelling three Russian diplomats.

Foreign Minister Ann Lindeannouncement on Tuesday came after Denmark and Italy said they were expelling 15 and 30 Russians, respectively. On Monday, France and Germany announced that they wer kicking out dozens of Russians with diplomatic status.

Last month, Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency, SAPO, said that “every third Russian diplomat in Sweden is an intelligence officer.”

ROME — The Italian Foreign Ministry says Italy is expelling 30 Russian diplomats.

Tuesday’s announcement followed expulsions by several other European countries. Germany said Monday that it was expelling 40 Russians with diplomatic status and France kicked out 35.

Germany’s interior minister said authorities attribute those who are being kicked out to Russian intelligence services. And Denmark said on Tuesday that it is expelling 15 Russian intelligence officers who worked at Russia’s Embassy in Copenhagen.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine says a civilian ship is sinking in the port of the besieged city of Mariupol after Russian forces fired on it.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the ship was struck during “shelling from the sea” by Russia, causing a fire in the engine room. The crew was rescued, including one injured crew member, it added.

The ministry said the ship was flying the flag of the Dominican Republic and posted a picture of a cargo vessel. It didn’t specify how many people were on board or the nationalities of the crew members.

Russian forces have been bombarding Mariupol for weeks as they try to tighten control over Ukraine’s southeastern coastline.

BRUSSELS — Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive Commission, will travel to Kyiv this week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Her spokesman, Eric Mamer, said Tuesday that her trip will come to ahead of a special pledging meeting in Warsaw over the weekend. It is the second such high-level trip by EU officials. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola went to Ukraine last week.

GENEVA — An international Red Cross team has shelved for Tuesday hopes of entering the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol after being held overnight by police in a town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the west.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has been trying to get a small team into Mariupol since Friday as part of efforts to escort beleaguered civilians out and aid in, said the team held by police in Manhush was released overnight. It did not identify the nationality of the police involved, but Manhush is under Russian control.

The ICRC said in a statement that the team’s focus now is on the evacuation operation, and the “incident yesterday shows how volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been for our team.”

Jason Straziuso, an ICRC spokesman, said the team was “not planning on trying to enter Mariupol today. Our team’s humanitarian efforts today are focused on helping the evacuation efforts in nearby areas.”

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s Foreign Ministry says the country is expelling 15 Russian intelligence officers who worked at Russia’s Embassy in Copenhagen.

The ministry said the Russian ambassador was informed of the decision on Tuesday. It said Denmark strongly condemned “Russia’s brutality against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha” and stressed that “deliberate attacks on civilians are a war crime.”

The officers have two weeks to leave Denmark. Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said “they pose a risk to our national security that we cannot ignore.”

The move came after France and Germany on Monday announced the expulsion of dozens of Russians with diplomatic status.

France plans to expel 35. The French Foreign Ministry cited national security reasons for the expulsions, saying the Russian diplomats were conducting “activities contrary to our security interests.” It gave no details.

MADRID — A senior Spanish official says it is “very hard” for the European Union to take measures against Russia’s natural gas sector because some of the bloc’s countries are dependent on it for their energy supply and the EU’s strength lies in its unity.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for ecological transition, said Tuesday “it is very difficult to explain to European public opinion and Ukrainian society that we are still importing Russian energy that finances this war” in Ukraine.

The EU gets around 40% of its natural gas from Russia.

She said the energy imports create “obvious moral tension,” adding that accusations of Russian war crimes in Bucha in recent days increased the pressure on the EU to act.

She said Spain should invest in industrial-scale solar power facilities to improve the EU’s energy self-sufficiency.

BRUSSELS — France’s finance minister said there is “total determination” among all 27 European Union member countries to reinforce sanctions against Russia after evidence of the deliberate killing of Ukrainian civilians emerged.

Bruno Le Maire, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, spoke ahead of a meeting of finance ministers Tuesday where possible new measures were to be discussed.

Le Maire noted that French President Emmanuel Macron has made clear he is open to extending sanctions to coal and oil. He added: “We will see what the position of the other member states will be, but I think there is a possibility to have unity on the 27 member states on these new sanctions.”

EU sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 have hit many sectors of the country’s economy but the bloc so far has stayed away from sanctions that would sap its supply of Russian energy.

LVIV, Ukraine — Seven humanitarian corridors will be open on Tuesday, including from the besieged port city of Mariupol and the Russian-controlled Berdyansk, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on the messaging app Telegram.

According to Vereshchuk’s post, residents of Mariupol and Berdyansk will be able to leave to Zaporizhzhia on their own transport. Corridors will also be open from the city of Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region and cities of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna and Hirske in the Luhansk region.

Vereshchuk said in the same post that the Russian troops “don’t allow anyone to enter Mariupol,” and that the Russians “blocked the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross” in the settlement of Manhush just west of Mariupol.

Vereshchuk said that, after negotiations, the Red Cross representatives “were released at night and sent to Zaporizhzhia.”

It was not immediately clear from Vereshchuk’s statement whether Russia has agreed to halt the fighting along the announced corridors. Some of the Ukrainian efforts to evacuate civilians via humanitarian corridors had previously failed as fighting along them continued even despite agreements with Russia.

LONDON — British defense officials say Ukrainian forces have taken back more territory as Russian troops continue to retreat in Ukraine’s north.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense says Ukrainian forces “have retaken key terrain” after forcing Russian units to retreat north of Kyiv and around the northern city of Chernihiv. The ministry says “low-level fighting is likely to continue in some parts of the newly recaptured regions, but diminish significantly over this week as the remainder of Russian forces withdraw.”

In an intelligence update posted online, the U.K. says many of the Russian units “are likely to require significant re-equipping and refurbishment before being available to redeploy for operations in eastern Ukraine.”

Ukrainian and Western officials say Russia is refocusing its offensive on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

BERLIN — Germany’s president is admitting mistakes in policy toward Russia in his previous job as foreign minister.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier served twice as ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, most recently from 2013 to 2017, and before that as ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s chief of staff. In that time, Germany pursued dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and cultivated close energy ties.

Steinmeier told ZDF television Tuesday that “we failed on many points,” including efforts to encourage Russia toward democracy and respecting human rights.

The president conceded that “there were different assessments” of Russia among European countries. He added: “It is true that we should have taken the warnings of our eastern European partners more seriously, particularly regarding the time after 2014” and the building of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Sticking to that project was a mistake that cost Germany “a lot of credit and credibility” in eastern Europe, he said. Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended the pipeline in the week Russia invaded Ukraine.

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s General Staff reports Tuesday morning that Russia is regrouping its troops and preparing for an offensive in Donbas.

“The goal is to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” the update posted on the General Staff’s Facebook page says.

In the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Russian military are focusing their efforts on taking control of Popasna and Rubizhne cities, as well as establishing full control over Mariupol, the General Staff said. Other towns and settlements in the two regions are subject to continued shelling.

The Russian troops also continue to block Kharkiv, according to the General Staff.

BANGKOK — A report by the World Bank says disruptions to supplies of commodities, financial strains and higher prices are among the shocks from the war in Ukraine that will slow economies in Asia in coming months.

The report released Tuesday forecasts slower growth and rising poverty in the Asia-Pacific region this year. Growth for the region is estimated at 5%, down from the original forecast of 5.4%. It anticipates that China, the region’s largest economy, will expand at a 5% pace.

The report says “multiple shocks” are adding to troubles for people and for businesses and that governments whose finances have been stretched by the pandemic have less capacity to help.

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