Ukraine war briefing: fresh hope for US House vote on Kyiv aid deal

<span>Firefighters extinguish a blaze at an electricity facility after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 22 March, 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Yakiv Liashenko/AP</span>
Firefighters extinguish a blaze at an electricity facility after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 22 March, 2024.Photograph: Yakiv Liashenko/AP
  • Russia and Ukraine claimed to have downed each other’s drones over the Black Sea on Monday. Russia’s defence ministry, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said its air defence units had intercepted six Ukrainian drones attempting to carry out a “terrorist attack”. A spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, Illya Yevlash, told national television that Ukrainian forces had downed a Russian “Forpost” drone which he described as one of the most sophisticated and costly in Moscow’s arsenal.

  • Recent Russian attacks have caused significant damage to the Ukrainian power system, but a total collapse is unlikely, the head of Ukraine’s national grid company Ukrenergo Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said on Monday. Since 22 March, the Russian forces have been attacking Ukrainian thermal and hydropower stations as well as main networks almost daily, which has led to blackouts in many regions of the country. “Their [the Russians’] goal is to impose blackouts in some major Ukrainian cities, and our goal is to prevent it,” Kudrytskyi told Reuters.

  • The US House speaker has raised expectations that a vote on funding for Ukraine could be imminent in the chamber, even at the risk of the Republican losing his leadership position. Mike Johnson spoke of “important innovations” to a possible Ukraine package during an interview on Fox News’s Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy, and he suggested a vote on a standalone bill could come soon after Congress returns from Easter recess on 9 April.

  • Ukraine’s exports by sea hit 11.8m tonnes in March, the country’s economy minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, wrote on X. Ukraine has exceeded expectations with strong grain exports more than two years since Russia began a full-scale invasion of the country.

  • A car bomb in Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region killed a Moscow-appointed government official on Monday, local authorities said. The local branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said the deputy head of a state-run education agency was killed when “an unidentified device detonated in a car” on Monday afternoon.

  • Iran reportedly tipped off Russia about the possibility of a major “terrorist operation” on its soil ahead of the concert hall massacre near Moscow last month. Three sources have told Reuters that Iran – a diplomatic ally – shared intelligence with Russia about the upcoming attack.

  • Russia has attacked the town of Vovchansk in Kharkiv oblast, injuring a 27-year-old woman

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has discussed drone production and a project to build an integrated electronic warfare control system with military and government officials.

  • A Russian court on Monday extended the pre-trial detention of US-Russian journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who faces 15 years in prison on charges of spreading “false information,” according to her employer. In 2022, Kurmasheva edited a book titled, “Saying No to War” – a collection of interviews and stories from Russians opposed to Moscow’s campaign against Ukraine. Her employer has called her imprisonment “outrageous” and said she had been locked up “simply because she holds an American passport”.

  • France’s top diplomat has said China must speak clearly to Russia over its war in Ukraine. “We expect China to send very clear messages to Russia,” said Emmanuel Macron’s foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, after meeting his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing. “We are convinced that there will be no lasting peace if it is not negotiated with the Ukrainians. “There will be no security for Europeans if there is no peace in accordance with international law.”

  • Ukrainian attacks on Russian oil refineries are pushing up the cost of crude oil to near five-month highs.