(Photo by Sergey Guneev - Host Photo Agency via Getty Images )

By YURAS KARMANAU and ADAM SCHRECK Associated Press
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has vowed that Russia’s bloody offensive in Ukraine would continue until its goals are fulfilled. He insisted Tuesday the campaign was going as planned, despite a major withdrawal in the face of stiff Ukrainian opposition and significant losses. Russian troops have been thwarted in their push toward Ukraine’s capital and are now focusing on the eastern Donbas region. Ukraine said Tuesday it was investigating a claim that a poisonous substance had been dropped on its troops there. It was not clear what the substance might be, but Western officials warned that any use of chemical weapons by Russia would be a serious escalation of the already devastating war.

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BERLIN — Germany’s president says his Polish counterpart suggested that they travel to Ukraine together with other leaders to show solidarity, but “that apparently wasn’t wanted in Kyiv.”
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s comments Tuesday, during a visit to Poland, came after German newspaper Bild quoted an unidentified Ukrainian diplomat as saying that he’s not welcome in Kyiv at the moment because he had close relations with Russia in the past.
Steinmeier said Polish President Andrzej Duda had suggested that they travel to the Ukrainian capital with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to send “a strong signal of joint European solidarity with Ukraine.” He said he had been prepared to do so.
Steinmeier last week admitted mistakes in policy toward Russia in his previous job as foreign minister.
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.
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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Ukraine probes claim poisonous substance dropped in Mariupol
— ‘It’s not the end’: The children who survived Bucha’s horror
— Russian war worsens fertilizer crunch, risking food supplies
— Czechs provide free shooting training for local Ukrainians
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:
KHARKIV, Ukraine — A strike hit a what is believed to be a culinary school near the airport in Ukraine’s second-largest city on Tuesday, destroying the building and damaging others nearby, according to Associated Press journalists at the scene.
It wasn’t clear what hit the building in Kharkiv, with witnesses describing a loud whoosh followed by an explosion. There were no immediate reports of fatalities.
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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis used a speech to his country’s delegation of Invictus Games participants on Tuesday to admonish Russian aggression in Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation has been waging war against Ukraine for almost 50 days, and shocking evidence of atrocities and horrors is unimaginable day by day,” Iohannis told the wounded and injured military personnel, who will compete in the 2022 Invictus Games set to begin in the Netherlands on Saturday.
“You know best what destruction and loss of life and the dramas of war mean, how much families and communities are affected forever,” he said.
Iohannis said that Russia’s acts of “horrific, unjustified cruelty” must be punished by the international justice system.
The Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded servicemen and women, was launched in London in 2014.
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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian prosecutors are expanding their war crimes investigations in northeastern suburbs of Kyiv after Russian forces withdrew.
Reports of killings of civilians have primarily focused so far on the northwestern suburbs such as Bucha, but the Prosecutor-General’s Office said Tuesday it was also looking into events in the Brovary district, which lies to the northeast.
Russian troops advanced into that area last month before retreating to focus on fighting in eastern Ukraine.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office said the bodies of six civilians had been found with gunshot wounds in a basement in the village of Shevchenkove and that Russian forces were believed to be responsible.
Prosecutors are also investigating an incident in which they allege Russian forces fired on a convoy of civilians trying to leave by car from the village of Peremoha in the Brovary district, killing four people including a 13-year-old boy. In another incident near Bucha, five people were killed, including two children, when a car was fired upon, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors did not say when they believed the incidents occurred.
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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says that Russians’ unity will only grow stronger in the face of Western sanctions and it will be the West that will face instability.
Putin said during a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday that the West mistakenly expected its sanctions to undermine Russia’s stability. He said that “the Russian people always strengthen their unity in a difficult situation.”
He insisted that it will be the West that will be shaken by growing instability, fueled by public dismay over galloping inflation. The Russian leader also lashed out at European leaders, describing them as Washington’s stooges and saying that they are conducting policies harmful to their nations.
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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says that Russia will press on with its military action in Ukraine until its goals are fulfilled.
Putin said Tuesday that the campaign is going according to plan. He said it is not moving faster because Russia wants to minimize losses.
He said during a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East that the “military operation will continue until its full completion and the fulfillment of the tasks that have been set.”
Putin claimed that Ukraine backtracked on proposals it made during talks with Russian negotiators in Istanbul, resulting in a deadlock in talks and leaving Moscow no other choice but to press on with its offensive.
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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Russian economy has successfully resisted new Western sanctions over Ukraine.
Speaking Tuesday on a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East, Putin said that Russia’s economy and financial system withstood the impact of what he called the Western sanctions “blitz” and the ruble has recovered its losses.
Putin argued that the sanctions will backfire against the West. For example, he said that Western restrictions on fertilizer exports from Russia and ally Belarus will drive up global fertilizer prices, eventually leading to food shortages and increased migration flows.
Putin said that “common sense should prevail” and added that the West should “come back to reason and make well-balanced decisions without losing its face.” He contended that “they won’t be able to shut all the doors and windows.”
He argued that new Western restrictions on high-tech exports will encourage Russia to move faster to develop new technologies, opening a “new window of opportunities.”
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BOSTON — Ukrainian officials say a planned cyberattack by Russian military hackers on the country’s power grid has been foiled.
They say the country’s computer emergency response thwarted an attack planned by hackers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency that intended to knock electrical substations offline last Friday.
The State Service of Special Communications said on its website that malware was discovered designed to destroy data on computers.
There was no immediate explanation of how the attack was defeated, though the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine thanked Microsoft and the cybersecurity firm ESET in a separate bulletin. Nor was the scope immediately explained.
GRU hackers twice successfully attacked Ukraine’s power grid, in the winters of 2015 and 2016.
Russia’s use of cyberattacks against Ukrainian infrastructure has been limited compared to experts’ pre-war expectations. In the early hours of the war, however, an attack Ukraine blames on Russia knocked offline an important satellite communications link that also impacted tens of thousands of Europeans from France to Poland.
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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s government has approved increasing the number of troops in a multinational NATO battlegroup in the country from 2,100 to 3,000.
The first 800 service members have already arrived in Slovakia. The Czech Republic took charge of the battlegroup, with the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia also contributing.
Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad says the increase in the planned troop numbers is related to Patriot air defense systems that the United States, Germany and the Netherlands are deploying in Slovakia.
The move should boost Slovakia’s defense capabilities after the country donated its Soviet-era S-300 air defense system to Ukraine last week.
The alliance stationed troops in the Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — and Poland after the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula by Russia. After Russia attacked Ukraine, NATO decided to boost its presence along the entire eastern flank by deploying forces in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
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GENEVA — The World Trade Organization is predicting that trade in goods will grow much less than previously expected this year, saying prospects for the global economy have darkened since the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Geneva-based WTO on Tuesday pointed to multiple uncertainties in its forecast over the next two years because Russian and Ukrainian exports of items like food, oil and fertilizers are under threat from the war. It also cited the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic –- notably from lockdowns in China.
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala described a “double whammy” from the conflict and the coronavirus. She said the war has caused “immense human suffering” in the region and its effect has rippled around the world, notably in poorer countries.
The WTO said its projections for world trade take into account factors like the impact of the war, sanctions on Russia, and lower demand around the world from lower business and consumer confidence. It said world merchandise trade volume is expected to grow 3% this year, down from a forecast of 4.7% before the war began.
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MOSCOW — The Russian military says it has hit Ukrainian arsenals with long-range cruise missiles.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday that the military used air- and sea-launched missiles to destroy an ammunition depot and a reinforced hangar for warplanes at Starokostiantyniv in the Khmelnytskyi region.
Konashenkov said that another strike destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot in Havrylivka, near Kyiv.
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NICOSIA, Cyprus — The head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian Church is “unreservedly” condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying there’s “no justification” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to “destroy a country, to raze it to kill.”
Archbishop Chrysostomos II told state broadcaster CyBC Tuesday that the invasion is “an unacceptable situation” and that Putin’s actions have “no logic.” The archbishop said he’s distraught that people are being killed and questioned whether the Russian leader is “in his right mind.”
The archbishop added that he’d be the “first to go and bless a defensive war,” but the “egotism, if not the stupidity” of the Russian leadership “knows no bounds.”
Chrysostomos also questioned Putin’s embrace of Orthodox Christianity, including the sincerity of his travels to the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was baptized.
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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian police say they have launched a war crimes investigation after a 64-year-old man was killed by a mine left behind in an area from which Russian forces recently retreated.
Police said the unidentified local man was driving Monday near the village of Krasne in northern Ukraine and had pulled over his car to greet acquaintances when he struck an anti-tank mine left at the side of the road.
Ukrainian authorities have issued repeated warnings of mines and explosive traps left in areas where Russian troops have been operating.
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BERLIN — German authorities say that over 330,000 refugees from Ukraine are known to have entered Germany so far.
The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that German federal police have recorded 335,578 people entering since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24. Those who have arrived are overwhelmingly women and children.
The true number of refugees in Germany could be higher, however, since there are no strict controls on the country’s eastern border and Ukrainian citizens can stay up to 90 days in the European Union without a visa. Officials say an unknown number also have moved on to other European countries.
The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday put the total number of people who have fled Ukraine at more than 4.6 million, over 2.6 million of whom fled at least initially to Poland.
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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says the Russian military action in Ukraine aims to ensure Russia’s security and is vowing that its goals will be achieved.
Speaking Tuesday on a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East, Putin charged that Ukraine was turned into an “anti-Russian bridgehead” where “sprouts of nationalism and neo-Nazism were being cultivated.” Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed such claims as a cover for aggression.
Putin reaffirmed his claim that the Russian “special military operation” was aimed to protect people in areas in eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed rebels. He also said that the campaign was also aimed to “ensure Russia’s own security.”
Putin argued that “we had no other choice” and said that “there is no doubt that we will achieve our goals.”
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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his country can’t be isolated.
Speaking on a visit to the Vostochny space launch facility in Russia’s Far East, Putin said Tuesday that Russia has no intention to isolate itself and added that foreign powers wouldn’t succeed in isolating it.
He said that “it’s certainly impossible to isolate anyone in the world of today, especially such a huge country as Russia.”
Putin added that “we will work with those of our partners who want to cooperate.”
Putin’s visit to Vostochny marked his first known trip outside Moscow since Russian launched military action in Ukraine on Feb. 24. Putin toured space facilities together with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
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VILNIUS, Lithuania — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the European Union to step up economic sanctions against Russia, arguing that the Russian political and military leadership feels it can continue the invasion of Ukraine because of signals from some European nations.
Zelenskyy told lawmakers in Lithuania, a former Soviet republic that is now an EU and NATO member, that “they know they will go unpunished as Europe still prefers continued cooperation, trade, business as usual.”
He said via an interpreter that he urges sanctions on all Russian banks and called for Europe to “get rid of their oil,”
In the latest of a series of addresses by video link to parliaments in Europe and beyond, Zelenskyy said that “Europe must win this war. And we will win it together.” The 141-seat Seimas assembly was decorated with the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian and the yellow-green-red Lithuanian flags.
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HELSINKI — Telecoms network and 5G technology supplier Nokia says it will exit the Russian market due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Espoo, Finland-based company said Tuesday “it has been clear for Nokia since the early days of the invasion of Ukraine that continuing our presence in Russia would not be possible.”
Nokia said it has suspended deliveries, stopped new business and moved research and development activities out of Russia in the past weeks.
The company said that Russia accounted for less than 2% of Nokia’s sales in 2021, and the exit decision will have no impact on its financial outlook this year.
It said that “as we exit, we will aim to provide the necessary support to maintain the networks and are applying for the relevant licenses to enable this support in compliance with current sanctions.”
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A spokesman for Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has denied using chemical weapons to uproot Ukrainian troops in the port city of Mariupol.
Eduard Basurin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying Tuesday that the separatist forces “haven’t used any chemical weapons in Mariupol.”
Basurin’s assertion followed his statement Monday on Russian state TV that the separatists will use “chemical troops” against Ukrainian soldiers holed up at reinforced positions at a giant steel factory in Mariupol “to smoke them out of there.”
A Ukrainian unit defending Mariupol claimed without providing evidence that a drone had dropped a poisonous substance on its positions. It indicated there were no serious injuries.
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TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet has approved additional sanctions against Moscow. They include as a freeze on assets of nearly 400 individuals including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two daughters, as well as a ban on new investments and vodka imports.
The new sanctions approved Tuesday include a freeze on assets of 398 Russian individuals, who also include Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughter. Japan has now frozen assets of more than 500 Russian individuals and organizations.
Japan’s new measures also include freezing the assets of major banks Sberbank and Alfa Bank, as well as 28 other Russian organizations such as those linked to military businesses. The measure for the banks will take effect on May 12.
Japan will ban new investment and Russian imports including vodka, wine, lumber and auto parts beginning next week.
Tuesday’s approval covers part of a list of sanctions announced last Friday by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who also proposed phasing out Russian coal and other fossil fuel imports.
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LONDON — A senior British official says “all possible options are on the table” for the West’s response if Russian forces use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Tuesday that neither the U.K. nor the Ukrainian governments had confirmed reports that a chemical weapon may have been used in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Heappey told Sky News that “there are weapons that simply should not be used, and if they are used people will be held to account.”
He said: “I think it’s useful to maintain some ambiguity … over exactly what the response would be, but let’s be clear, if they are used at all then President Putin should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond.”
Britain’s defense ministry says Russia continues to redeploy its forces for a push on eastern Ukraine, and fighting is expected to intensify there over the next two to three weeks. It says Russian forces are withdrawing from Belarus in order to redeploy in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.