War in Ukraine live updates: Indian prime minister calls Russia's invasion 'very worrying'; EU examines its dependency on Russian oil

Published April 11, 2022 at 8:52 AM EDT
People ride bicycles on a muddy road near a destroyed church.
Anastasia Vlasova
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Getty Images
Residents pass by a destroyed church which served as a military base for Russian soldiers on Sunday in Lukashivka village in Ukraine.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi lamented the civilian deaths in Bucha during a virtual meeting with President Joe Biden. A senior administration official said the talks were candid and productive.

Diplomacy

White House official describes a candid and productive Biden-Modi meeting

Posted April 11, 2022 at 1:32 PM EDT
Biden and two men look on as Modi speaks on a large screen.
Carolyn Kaster
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AP
President Biden meets virtually with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington on Monday. India's defense minister, Rajnath Singh (center), and India's foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, also attended.

President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an hourlong “warm and productive” meeting that was “very candid” and covered a wide range of issues including COVID-19, climate, the global economy, Indo-Pacific regional issues and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior administration official said in a briefing with reporters on background after the meeting.

“The U.S. and India are partnering and consulting on mitigating the most destabilizing impacts, both on global food supply and other commodity markets,” the official said, referring to the war in Ukraine.

The official did not offer many specifics about the conversation. But when asked about India's energy purchases from Russia, they said the White House hasn't asked India to take any specific actions.

"We’re having a very open conversation," the official added. "We know that not all countries will be able to do what we’ve done. We know that India is not a major consumer of Russian oil.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are set to discuss sanctions compliance related to Russia with Indian counterparts later today, the official added.

“We don’t think India should accelerate or increase imports of Russian energy, and the U.S. is ready to support India, remain in a conversation with India about its diversification of imports,” they said.

Asked whether Biden pressed Modi to pick a side in the conflict, the official reiterated that “India will make its own decisions” and noted the stronger public statements from Modi.

Global reaction

India's prime minister calls the situation in Ukraine 'very worrying'

Posted April 11, 2022 at 12:56 PM EDT
Biden, Blinken and Austin sit at a roundtable with two other men, as Modi speaks on a large screen.
Carolyn Kaster
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AP
President Biden meets via video link with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Monday.

At a virtual meeting, President Biden told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the people of Ukraine are suffering a “horrific assault.” Modi called the situation “very worrying” and said he’s particularly troubled by civilian killings in Bucha, Ukraine.

He noted that his government has condemned those killings and said he had suggested to Russia that President Vladimir Putin hold direct talks with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy.

Biden spoke of “shared values” between the U.S. and India. Modi also talked about India’s “friendship with America.”

Biden was seated at a round table at the White House, flanked by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. Modi attended by video link.

Blinken and Austin are scheduled to hold separate talks at the State Department with their Indian counterparts later today.

Military

Russia continues to lay groundwork for a large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine

Posted April 11, 2022 at 12:27 PM EDT
A lit rocket launcher sits in a field next to other military vehicles.
Anatolii Stepanov
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AFP via Getty Images
A Ukrainian multiple rocket launcher shells Russian troops' position, near Lugansk, in the Donbas region, on Sunday. The eastern region is expected to be the site of intensified fighting.

A senior U.S. defense official says the U.S. continues to see signs of Russian forces moving into eastern Ukraine for what is expected to be a large-scale offensive in the coming days.

This includes Russian command-and-control elements, support battalions, infantry and helicopters moving into the Donbas region from just across the border in Russia.

Over the last couple of weeks, Russia withdrew forces from around the capital Kyiv and retreated north into neighboring Belarus. The Russians are now moving forces from Belarus to the east of Ukraine.

Russian troops are also reinforcing the city of Donetsk with artillery. This is one of the main cities in the eastern Donbas region, where Ukrainian and pro-Russian separatists have been fighting for the past eight years.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has not slowed U.S. and NATO weapons supplies to Ukraine. According to the official, eight to 10 flights are landing daily in NATO countries to the west of Ukraine, and the supplies are being transported by ground into Ukraine in “constant convoys.”

Analysis
Economy

Russia's war could shrink the Ukrainian economy by 45% this year, the World Bank says

Posted April 11, 2022 at 10:55 AM EDT
A person dressed in beige removes pieces of glass from a broken storefront.
Vadim Ghirda
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AP
A woman removes pieces of broken glass from a shop window after a bombing in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 23.

A new update from the World Bank measures the expected toll of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on the economies of both countries, and on developing countries throughout the region.

Ukraine's economy could shrink by 45.1% this year, while sanctions against Russia are expected to cut its output by 11.2%, economists say.

“The Russian invasion is delivering a massive blow to Ukraine’s economy and it has inflicted enormous damage to infrastructure,” Anna Bjerde, World Bank vice president for the Europe and Central Asia region, said in a press release. “Ukraine needs massive financial support immediately as it struggles to keep its economy going and the government running to support Ukrainian citizens who are suffering and coping with an extreme situation.”

More broadly, the regional economy of Europe and Central Asia is now expected to shrink by 4.1% this year — reversing a prewar forecast of 3% growth. The World Bank says that Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan are projected to fall into recession this year, in addition to Russia and Ukraine.

Emerging and developing countries in this region already had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank report notes, adding that "this would be the second contraction in as many years, and twice as large as the pandemic-induced contraction in 2020."

The war only has heightened existing concerns about a global economic slowdown, surging debt and inflation, and a spike in the poverty level, according to the organization. The World Bank also warned last week of slower growth and rising poverty in the Asia-Pacific region, citing the war in Ukraine and other economic shocks.

Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, the World Bank's chief economist for Europe and Central Asia, said in a press release that the pandemic and the war in Ukraine once again have proven that crises can "set back years of per capita income and development gains."

She advises governments in the region to prepare for the fragmentation of trade in the region, to maintain focus on improving energy efficiency and to strengthen their social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable — including refugees.

"The deep humanitarian crisis sparked by the war has been the most pronounced of the initial global shockwaves and will likely be among the most enduring legacies of the conflict," the World Bank says, adding that support to refugee communities and their host countries will be especially critical.

More than 4.5 million people have fled Ukraine as refugees since Russia first invaded in late February, according to a tracker from the United Nations.

Sanctions

EU ministers will discuss Europe's dependence on Russian energy

Posted April 11, 2022 at 10:43 AM EDT
An oil refinery at night.
Sean Gallup
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Getty Images
The Leuna oil refinery and chemical park, near Spergau, Germany, is connected to the Druzhba oil pipeline that transports oil from Russia to Germany.

Foreign ministers from the European Union will meet today to discuss Ukraine and decide whether to keep importing high amounts of Russian oil and gas.

NPR's Jackie Northam is covering the meeting.

One of the major focuses is expected to be whether the EU will vote to decrease its dependence on Russian energy.

Despite instituting sanctions and denouncing Russia's invasion, the EU hasn't stopped buying Russian energy. Europe is heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas and cutting back could have a serious impacts on European economies, reports Northam. The EU has banned coal imports from Russia, as coal can easily be purchased elsewhere and doesn't bring in huge amounts of money to Russia.

Experts say the Kremlin uses money from Europe's energy purchases to boost Russia's economy and to further fund the war in Ukraine. Energy exports are crucial to the Russian economy, raking in about $850 million a day, Northam adds.

Last week, Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, implored Europe to scale back its purchases of Russian energy.

"As long as the West continues buying Russian gas and oil, it is supporting Ukraine with one hand, while supporting [the] Russian war machine with the another hand," Kuleba said.

Here's what's at stake: Cutting off Russian oil and gas purchases from Europe would dry up one of Russia's main revenue streams, but it could have uncertain effects.

Northam points out that it could draw Putin back to the negotiating table to discuss a peace deal in Ukraine — or it could dangerously push him to act without concern for international repercussions.

Leaders at the meeting are also expected to approve money for supplying Ukraine with more weapons.

🎧 Listen to the full story here from Northam.

International aid

Zelenskyy pushes South Korea's parliament to send weapons to Ukraine

Posted April 11, 2022 at 9:52 AM EDT
Zelenskyy speaks to an auditorium of people via video screens.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
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Getty Images AsiaPac
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the South Korean parliament via video link.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed South Korea's parliament today and urged lawmakers to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. South Korea has sanctioned Russia but it's been criticized for not doing more.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Seoul. Listen here.

Addressing South Korean lawmakers virtually, Zelenskyy referenced the 1950-1953 Korean War, when South Korea got help from the international community and was able to repel an invasion from North Korea.

"If Ukraine receives such weapons," Zelenskyy said via an interpreter, "they will not only save Ukrainian lives, but also save the Ukrainian nation and other nations from Russia's aggression."

South Korea has sent only nonlethal military aid to Ukraine so far; Zelenskyy is asking for heavy weapons now.

Seoul has joined other countries in sanctioning Russia, but originally hesitated to act due to political and economic interests, analysts say. Russia is an important market for South Korean companies, although major South Korean companies like Hyundai and Samsung have stopped operations in Russia. Russia also plays a role in nuclear tensions, and prospects for long-term peace, on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea's approach to aid for Ukraine may change when new president Yoon Suk Yeol and his administration take office next month.

John Lennon’s son Julian performs ‘Imagine’ for the first time in support of Ukraine

Posted April 11, 2022 at 9:36 AM EDT
Julian Lennon attends the amfAR Gala Los Angeles 2021 on November 04, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Frazer Harrison
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Getty Images North America
Julian Lennon said his late father's song represents “our collective desire for peace worldwide”.

Julian Lennon, the son of the late Beatles star turned solo artist John Lennon, publicly performed his father’s hit song “Imagine” last week for the first time. He said he did so in support of Ukraine.

“As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could,” Lennon tweeted. “So today, for the first time ever, I publicly performed my Dad’s song, IMAGINE.”

In a video of the performance, Lennon and a guitarist sit in a room illuminated by candles. The camera slowly swings around them as Lennon sings the antiwar anthem.

“Why now, after all these years? — I had always said, that the only time I would ever consider singing ‘IMAGINE' would be if it was the ‘End of the World’ …” Lennon said.

He suggested that the song represents “our collective desire for peace worldwide” and that it transports listeners to a place “where love and togetherness become our reality.”

Noting the millions of people who’ve fled the violence in Ukraine, Lennon called on world leaders to support refugees around the world and urged people to “advocate and donate from the heart.”

Europe

Austria's leader will meet Putin in Moscow, fresh off a visit to Kyiv

Updated April 11, 2022 at 9:44 AM EDT
Posted April 11, 2022 at 9:16 AM EDT
A man in a suit and blue tie speaks into a microphone, with flags behind him.
Thomas Kronsteiner
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Getty Images
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will be the first European Union leader to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Moscow today, in what will be the Russian leader's first face-to-face meeting with a European Union leader since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Austria is "militarily neutral, but has a clear position on the Russian war of aggression" in Ukraine, according to the English translation of a tweet Nehammer posted on Sunday.

"He has to stop! It needs humanitarian corridors, a ceasefire & full investigation of war crimes," he added.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg toldBloomberg News on Monday that Nehammer's trip was not mandated by the EU, but arose out of personal conviction that "if we can do anything to stop this humanitarian hell that is happening in Ukraine, we will do so."

He said he will carry a clear humanitarian message — stop the war and allow international aid to enter — and a political message "that [Putin] is doing everything wrong that can be done wrong."

“We cannot leave any stone unturned to end this humanitarian disaster and to make [Putin] understand that he is isolating Russia, that this is war is a war that he cannot win morally. He has lost it already," Schallenberg said. "And every voice that makes him understand how the world really looks like outside of the walls of the Kremlin is, I believe, an important voice."

Austria is not a member of NATO but has backed the EU sanctions against Russia and last week joined a growing list of European countries to expel their Russian diplomats.

Nehammer's trip to Moscow follows a weekend visit to Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Nehammer said he had informed Austria's European partners — including Zelenskyy, EU leaders, Germany's chancellor and Turkey's president — about his meeting with Putin.

International Dispatch
From Lviv

Ukrainian officials say at least 1,200 civilians were killed in the Kyiv area

Posted April 11, 2022 at 8:57 AM EDT
Two workers lift clear plastic tarp from a trench in the dirt.
Sergei Supinsky
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AFP via Getty Images
Communal workers remove the plastic covers from a mass grave in Bucha, near Kyiv on Saturday.

Ukraine's prosecutor general says the bodies of at least 1,200 civilians have been recovered around the capital, Kyiv. The office is also investigating possible war crimes.

Recovery efforts continue in the suburbs, cities and towns outside of Kyiv. Bodies are being found in basements and manholes and being recovered from destroyed buildings and homes.

Russia's troops have fully left the Kyiv region, moving back over the border into Belarus and Russia.

Ukraine is repositioning many of its troops to the east, but soldiers and officials whom NPR talked to say they're not leaving the capital undefended. There are lingering concerns that Russia could renew its attack on the region.

Military

The new top commander of Russia's war in Ukraine was known as 'the butcher of Syria'

Posted April 11, 2022 at 8:57 AM EDT
A man in military dress hands a large framed photograph to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Alexei Nikolsky
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Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin receives a picture taken in Syria from Col. Gen. Alexander Dvornikov during a 2016 ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow.

Russia has named an overall commander for its war with Ukraine for the first time, as it shifts its military focus to the eastern part of the country.

Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov has been in charge of Russian battles in the south and east of Ukraine, where he's employed some of the most brutal tactics of the war (like the siege of southern city of Mariupol). Before that, he led the Russian offensive in Syria, where he took part in some especially brutal targeting of civilians (hitting numerous hospitals, for example) and earned himself the nickname "the butcher of Syria."

"Given his track record, look for this kind of horrific war aimed at civilians to continue as the fighting moves more to eastern Ukraine," NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman tellsMorning Edition.

Bowman says defense analysts are puzzled as to why Russia had not named an overall commander before — instead, it had a handful of separate military districts in Ukraine that he said never seemed to coordinate with each other.

"There's talk that Russian President Vladimir Putin kept the war planning to a small, tight-knit group, and clearly, there was little communication or planning," he adds.

He expects that the Kremlin is looking to Dvornikov to act more aggressively in the coming days and weeks, as Russian forces regroup and head into the Donbas area. They're going to try to box in the Ukrainian army there to prevent them from resupplying or moving elsewhere, Bowman says. Russians already have a foothold in that area, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting for some eight years now.

Bowman says there's a sense that Russian troops will try to grab more of this territory for a better negotiating position at potential peace talks. At the same time, more weapons and armor are heading into Ukraine from NATO allies, and analysts say the fight could go on for many months or even longer.

Dvornikov will likely step up missile attacks on civilian targets, Bowman says. But he says there's at least one thing the new general can't do: create more units.

International Dispatch
From Mumbai

The U.S. wants India to condemn the war. Leaders from both countries will meet today

Posted April 11, 2022 at 8:56 AM EDT
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi  stands on a red carpet with his hands clasped, near Indian and Japanese flags.
Jewel Samad
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AFP via Getty Images
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in a virtual summit with President Biden at 11 a.m. ET Monday.

President Biden is holding a virtual summit at 11 a.m. ET with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On the agenda will be Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as well as its effect on the global food supply.

The White House says they'll also discuss cooperation on a range of issues, including "ending the COVID-19 pandemic, countering the climate crisis, strengthening the global economy, and upholding a free, open, rules-based international order to bolster security, democracy, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are also holding meetings today with their Indian counterparts, as the U.S. tries to get India to take sides in the Ukraine war.

Washington wants India — the world’s biggest democracy — to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But India wants to stay neutral. It has friendly relations with Moscow and wants to keep buying Russian oil and weapons. Russia’s foreign minister visited New Delhi earlier this month and praised India for not being “one-sided.”

Click here to listen to the full story about why India hasn't condemned the invasion (Hint: It also involves China).

Recap

Here's what you might have missed this weekend

Posted April 11, 2022 at 8:56 AM EDT
Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy walk in a city square, surrounded by armed guards.
AP
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Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walk through downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday.

We're catching up on the latest developments out of Russia and Ukraine. Here are some of the big storylines from over the weekend:

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the Kramatorsk train station attack as one of "many other Russian war crimes." At least 52 people were killed when a missile hit the station, where thousands of people were trying to evacuate, according to Ukrainian officials.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise trip to Ukraine and met with Zelenskyy. The meeting followed an announcement from the United Kingdom that it was sending more military aid to Ukraine, amounting to £100 million (about $130 million).
  • Russia has shut down the offices of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several other international organizations. The move followed Thursday's vote by the United Nations General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" in Ukraine.
  • new Russian general has been tapped to take over the faltering invasion of Ukraine. Aleksandr Dvornikov was previously in charge of the battles in the south.
  • Ukraine's top prosecutor says she's uncovered 5,600 cases of alleged war crimes and has a list of 500 suspects. In an interview with Sky News, Iryna Venediktova said authorities had ample evidence to back up their claims.
  • large military convoy that stretched at least 8 miles was seen traveling through northeastern Ukraine. The imagery collected by the company Maxar Technologies on Friday shows hundreds of military vehicles. A researcher with the Institute for the Study of War says the convoy consists of Russian forces.
  • NATO is planning to shore up the military might along its eastern flank to guard against any future Russian aggression. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the move in an interview with the Telegraph.

You can get more updates and in-depth analysis from NPR's daily written recaps (here's Saturday's and here's Sunday's) as well as by subscribing to its State of Ukraine podcast.