U.K. intelligence suggests that Russian forces are preparing for what is expected to be a large and more focused push on expanding control in the east of Ukraine. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also warned that Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops to "prepare new attacks."
Meanwhile, the U.K.'s foreign secretary said late Monday that her government was working "urgently" to verify details of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
In the U.S., Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said the Pentagon was also closely monitoring the reports.
Putin and Lukashenko have a new false narrative about the atrocities in Bucha
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his closest ally, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, are promoting a new false narrative about who's to blame for the murders, rapes and torture of hundreds of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine.
They insist it was not Russian soldiers who went on a month-long rampage of looting and killing, even as witnesses, satellite imagery and forensic evidence have suggested otherwise.
The real culprits are British operatives who conducted a "psychological special operation" in the leafy suburb of Kyiv, Lukashenko claims without evidence.
Lukashenko and Putin spoke at a space launch facility in Vostochny, in Russia's Far East. It was Putin's first public appearance outside of Moscow since Russia launched its brutal Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The British Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
— Chelsea Ong
S&P chief economist on how a Russia-Germany 'trade rupture' could cause a financial shock
A "trade rupture" between Germany and Russia could set off a macro financial shock, S&P Global's chief economist said.
German manufacturing – one of three global manufacturing centers besides the U.S. and China — could be dented as a result of the rupture, Paul Gruenwald told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."
"Looking at a downside scenario … there's kind of several different ways to play that but we think the one that would really move the macro needle is some sort of trade rupture between Russia and Europe,"
"That would feed through to ... lower GDP, lower employment, lower confidence — and then we would get a kind of a macro financial shock out of that. So that's the sort of scenario we're worried about that could move the needle," he warned.
— Weizhen Tan
Biden says Putin's war in Ukraine 'sure seems' like a genocide to him
President Joe Biden says the mounting evidence of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine is starting to look to him like something worse than isolated war crimes. It looks like genocide, the president said.
"I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be Ukrainian," Biden said late Tuesday evening.
"The evidence is mounting. It looks different than last week. More evidence is coming out literally of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine," he said.
Hours earlier, Biden had shocked the world by calling Putin's war a "genocide" for the first time.
Speaking at an event about inflation in Iowa, Biden said to the audience, "Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away."
A White House adviser quickly went on TV to clarify that Biden's words did not reflect a change in U.S. policy towards Ukraine.
Biden acknowledged that the legal definition of "genocide" was separate from his impression of what's going on in Ukraine.
Nonetheless, the president did not revise his initial assessment. "We're going to only learn more and more about the devastation, and we'll let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies" as a genocide under international law. "But it sure seems that way to me," said Biden.
The statement drew immediate praise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who tweeted at Biden moments after he spoke on the tarmac.
— Christina Wilkie
Biden calls Putin's actions in Ukraine 'genocide'
In remarks in Iowa, the president blamed Putin for recent price hikes at the pump. "Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away," said Biden.
The president had stopped short on April 5 of calling the atrocities in Bucha a genocide, when asked by reporters whether Russian actions there fit that definition. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said then that the killings documented so far in Ukraine did not rise to the level of "genocide" as defined by the U.S. government.
The State Department has a lengthy internal process for determining if mass killing amounts to genocide, including collecting evidence over a period of time.
— NBC News
Russian troops patrol the Mariupol Drama Theatre
Russian soldiers patrol the Mariupol Drama Theatre, which was hit by an airstrike on March 16.
Editor's note: These pictures was taken during a trip organized by the Russian military.
Ukraine says Russian cyberattack sought to shut down its energy grid
Russian military hackers tried and failed to attack Ukraine's energy infrastructure last week, the country's government and a major cybersecurity company said Tuesday.
The attack was designed to infiltrate computers connected to multiple substations, then delete all files, which would shut that infrastructure down, according to Ukraine's summary of the incident.
ESET, a Slovakia-based cybersecurity company working to help secure Ukrainian infrastructure, said in a summary of the attack that it was conducted by the same arm of Russia's military intelligence agency, GRU, that had previously successfully executed similar attacks in 2014 and 2015.
In both of those incidents, some residents of Kyiv temporarily lost power.
— NBC News
Zelenskyy posts photo of captured pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the apparent capture of Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Kremlin politician who was living in Ukraine under house arrest on treason charges but allegedly escaped shortly after Russia launched its invasion.
"A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU," Zelenskyy wrote in Russian on his verified account on the social media platform Telegram, referencing Ukraine's Security Service. "Well done! Details later. Glory to Ukraine!"
Above that caption, Zelenskyy posted a photo showing a disheveled Medvedchuk seated by a radiator with his hands clasped in handcuffs.
Medvedchuk was the leader of a pro-Russian opposition party in Ukraine and a staunch opponent of Kyiv's appeals to join NATO.
— Kevin Breuninger
New Russian military convoy spotted in Eastern Ukraine, Pentagon says
A senior U.S. Defense official told reporters on a call that a new convoy of Russian vehicles is approximately 37 miles north of Izyum, in eastern Ukraine.
The town of Izyum lies on a major road between Kharkiv and the Russian-separatists areas of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to share new details from U.S. intelligence reports, said the Pentagon believes the miles-long convoy is working to resupply Russian forces.
Satellite images of the convoy emerged as the Kremlin appears to reorient its war in Ukraine to the east after failing to seize Kyiv.
"We do assess that it's moving but not at breakneck speed," the official said, adding that it was not clear how many vehicles are in the convoy and how fast it is traveling.
The official added that is not entirely clear where the convoy is going but reiterated that Western intelligence reports assess Russia will soon intensify its military campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine.
— Amanda Macias
Russian strikes on Mariupol intensify
The coastal Ukrainian city of Mariupol is taking the brunt of Russia's ongoing siege as Western security officials warn that the Kremlin will soon intensify its military campaign there.
"It's obvious that the Russians want Mariupol because of its strategic location," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, noting that it's a major port city that gives them "unfettered and unhindered land access between the Donbas and Crimea." The two territories are held by Russia and Russian-back separatists.
Kirby said the Pentagon has observed Russian forces focus a lot of their strikes on Mariupol and on the Donbas area.
"I don't have perfect knowledge of every missile or long-range fire that the Russians are firing into Mariupol. It continues to be under attack from airstrikes," Kirby added. Earlier in the day, a senior U.S. Defense official told reporters on a call that since the Kremlin's Feb. 24 invasion, Russian forces have launched more than 1,540 missiles into Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials claimed on Monday that Russian forces have used chemical weapons in Mariupol.
— Amanda Macias
UK prime minister tells Biden about surprise visit to Kyiv
President Joe Biden held a secure 45-minute call with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning, just days after Johnson returned from a surprise trip to Ukraine.
Johnson told Biden he was "humbled" by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's "strength and resolve" after meeting the unlikely war hero in Kyiv, according to a Downing Street spokesman.
Johnson also updated the president on Britain's latest package of weapons for Ukraine, which includes the Harpoon anti-ship missile that experts say Ukraine could use to break Russia's blockade of its Black Sea ports.
A White House statement on the call said Biden and Johnson, "welcomed ongoing cooperation with allies and partners to impose severe costs on Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified war."
--- Christina Wilkie
Pentagon 'actively looking' at reports of Russian chemical weapons use, U.S. Defense official says
The Pentagon is not yet able to confirm reports of Russian forces using chemical weapons in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
"We are not on the ground. We don't have perfect visibility. And so we're doing the best we can to try to get get to some better conclusion. We are still actively looking at this," a senior U.S. Defense official said on a call with reporters.
"We know that the Russians have a history of using chemical agents and they have shown a propensity in the past and so we're taking it seriously," the official said, referencing Russian use of chemical weapons in Syria.
On Monday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby described the reports of a potential chemical munition in Mariupol as "deeply concerning."
"These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia's potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine," Kirby wrote in a statement.
— Amanda Macias
Ukrainian official says peace talks with Russia are very hard but continuing
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, asked about comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Tuesday that peace talks between the two countries were at a dead-end, said negotiations were very hard but they were continuing.
Podolyak also told Reuters that Russia was trying to put pressure on the talks with its public statements and that negotiations were continuing at the level of working sub-groups.
$800 million U.S. aid package to Ukraine, which includes 'killer drones,' is nearly complete
The $800 million U.S. weapons package approved by the Biden administration last month for the fight in Ukraine is nearly complete, a senior U.S. Defense official confirmed.
"We're very close to finishing it out. We believe we'll be done by the middle of the month and that should, that should close it out. We're also working on the next one, which you know is $100 million for the Javelins," the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on a call with reporters.
The official also said that a significant number of the 100 Switchblade drones included in the package have arrived in Ukraine.
"They've gotten a significant number and it won't take long before the rest of them are in the country," the official said, declining to elaborate on when the rest of the drones would arrive. "I'm not going to talk about the specifics of how things are moving in, we are flowing things in every single day."
Manufactured by U.S.-based firm AeroVironment, the Switchblades, dubbed "kamikaze" drones, are equipped with cameras, navigation systems and guided explosives. The weapons can be programmed to strike targets that are miles away automatically, or can loiter above a target until engaged by an operator to strike.
Deploying Switchblades to the fight in Ukraine could be the most significant use of the weapons in combat, as it is not clear how often the U.S. military has used the killer drones on the battlefield.
— Amanda Macias
Portraits of war: How Russia's assault has affected Ukrainians
Six weeks into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moscow faces renewed global outrage following reports of a Russian massacre in Bucha and a missile strike on a crowded train station in Kramatorsk.
More than 4.6 million people have been displaced, and the United Nations has confirmed 1,892 civilian deaths and 2,558 injuries in Ukraine.
Western intelligence reports warn that Russian forces will soon focus their military might in eastern and southern Ukraine after weeks of stalled ground advances on the capital city of Kyiv.
Here is a look at some of the faces and lives affected by Russia's horrific war. (For a full version of the story, click here.)
Editor's note: Graphic content. The following post contains photos of dead and wounded civilians and soldiers
— Amanda Macias and Adam Jeffery
Blinken says the U.S. is ready to replace Russia as India's 'security partner of choice'
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are hosting their Indian counterparts in Washington this week and making the case that India should phase out its strategic relationship with Russia and let the U.S. be its primary defense and energy partner.
"India's relationship with Russia was developed over decades, at a time when the United States was not able to be a partner to India," Blinken said Monday. "Times have changed. Today, we are able and willing to be a partner of choice with India across virtually every realm of commerce, technology, education, and security."
Maintaining its supply of Russian oil and military equipment is the primary driver behind New Delhi's decision not to publicly blame Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. But rather than chastise India, Austin and Blinken highlighted that the world's largest democracy has condemned the invasion in broad terms, and noted that New Delhi is sending medicines to Ukraine.
They also said the U.S. and India will increase their defense collaboration in space and cyberspace, even as India takes delivery this spring on a set of Russian S-400 missile systems it purchased in 2018. Nonetheless, Washington is willing and able to be "a security partner of choice for India," Blinken said.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, India purchased millions of barrels of Russian oil at a discount while European buyers imposed sanctions and cut ties. But here too, India met little resistance from Washington.
"Every country is differently situated and has different needs and requirements," Blinken said. "We're looking to allies and partners not to increase their their purchases of Russian energy."
— Christina Wilkie
Russian politician who criticized Putin's 'regime of murderers' jailed for 15 days, another opposition figure says
A judge in Moscow ordered Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian politician and critic of President Vladimir Putin's government, to be jailed for 15 days, another opposition figure said.
In an update Tuesday, Russian dissident Ilya Yashin wrote that a judge "issued Kara-Murza in a cell for 15 days," according to a translation of his tweets.
Yashin also tweeted an image of what he said was the police report in Kara-Murza's case. The report alleged that when Kara-Murza saw Russian law enforcement officials, he "behaved inappropriately, changed the trajectory of movement and accelerated his step," according to a translation of Yashin's tweet.
Kara-Murza has survived two suspected poisoning attempts. Hillel Neuer, a lawyer and activist of the human-rights-focused watchdog UN Watch, called Kara-Murza "the most prominent dissident in Moscow."
— Kevin Breuninger
Russian war worsens fertilizer crunch, risking food supplies
Monica Kariuki is about ready to give up on farming. What is driving her off her 10 acres of land outside Nairobi isn't bad weather, pests or blight — the traditional agricultural curses — but fertilizer: It costs too much.
Despite thousands of miles separating her from the battlefields of Ukraine, Kariuki and her cabbage, corn and spinach farm are indirect victims of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion. The war has pushed up the price of natural gas, a key ingredient in fertilizer, and has led to severe sanctions against Russia, a major exporter of fertilizer.
Kariuki used to spend 20,000 Kenyan shillings, or about $175, to fertilize her entire farm. Now, she would need to spend five times as much. Continuing to work the land, she said, would yield nothing but losses.
"I cannot continue with the farming business. I am quitting farming to try something else," she said.
Higher fertilizer prices are making the world's food supply more expensive and less abundant, as farmers skimp on nutrients for their crops and get lower yields. While the ripples will be felt by grocery shoppers in wealthy countries, the squeeze on food supplies will land hardest on families in poorer countries. It could hardly come at a worse time: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said last week that its world food-price index in March reached the highest level since it started in 1990.
— Associated Press
'It's not the end': The children who survived Bucha's horrors
Six-year-old Vlad watched as his mother was carried out of the shelter last month and to the yard of a nearby home. The burial was hurried and devastating.
Now Russian forces have withdrawn from Bucha after a month-long occupation, and Vlad's father, Ivan Drahun, dropped to his knees at the foot of the grave.
He reached out and touched the dirt near his wife Maryna's feet. "Hi, how are you?" he said during the visit last week. "I miss you so much. You left so soon. You didn't even say goodbye." The boy also visits the grave, placing on it a juice box and two cans of baked beans. Amid the stress of war, his mother barely ate.
Bucha witnessed some of the ghastliest scenes of Russia's invasion and almost no children have been seen in its silent streets since then. The many bright playgrounds in the once-popular community with good schools on a far edge of the capital, Kyiv, are empty.
It is here that Bucha's fragile renewal can be seen.
A small group of neighborhood children gathered, finding distraction from the war. Bundled up in winter coats, they kicked a football, wandered around with bags of snacks handed out by visiting volunteers, called out from a glass-less window above.
— Associated Press
Obama: Putin's invasion of Ukraine shows new recklessness, but 'the danger was always there'
Former U.S. President Barack Obama said Vladimir Putin's brazen invasion of Ukraine may have been hard to foresee, but the brutal Russian leader has always posed a threat.
"Putin has always been ruthless against his own people, as well as others. He has always been somebody who's wrapped up in this twisted, distorted sense of grievance and ethnic nationalism," Obama told NBC's Al Roker in a interview set to air in full on "Today" on Wednesday.
"That part of Putin, I think, has always been there. What we've seen with the invasion of Ukraine is him being reckless in a way that you might not have anticipated eight, 10 years ago," Obama said. But "the danger was always there," he added.
Obama was in office in 2014 when Putin invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Asked by Roker if he ever thinks about what he might have done differently, Obama said, "I think that what we're seeing consistently is a reminder of why it's so important for us to not take our own democracy for granted."
"I think that the current administration's doing what it needs to be doing," Obama said.
— Kevin Breuninger
UN says 1,892 civilians killed and 2,558 injured in Ukraine
The United Nations has confirmed 1,892 civilian deaths and 2,558 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.
Of those killed, the U.N. has identified at least 30 girls and 52 boys as well as 71 children whose sex is unknown.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights adds that the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, citing delayed reporting due to the armed conflict.
The international body said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.
— Amanda Macias
Civilians fleeing from conflict zones in Donetsk and Luhansk take shelter
Civilians fleeing from conflict zones in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, take shelter at Semeinuy Hostel as its owner opened his doors to Ukrainian refugees in Dnipro on Apr. 11.
Currently, 87 refugees are guests of the unfinished hostel. From the first days of March more than 1,000 people have found refuge in this structure.
-Anadolu Agency via Getty Image
Zelenskyy renews calls for EU to sanction Russian oil and gas
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has renewed his push for the European Union to impose sanctions on Russian energy.
Speaking via video address to Lithuania's Parliament, Zelenskyy criticized the bloc for dragging its feet on sanctioning Russian oil and gas even in the wake of mounting evidence of war crimes by Russian forces.
The EU met on Monday to discuss the bloc's sixth round of punitive measures against the Kremlin, which could have included Russian energy imports, but it failed to reach an agreement.
More than six weeks into the Kremlin's war with Ukraine, energy-importing countries continue to top up Russian President Vladimir Putin's war chest with oil and gas revenue on a daily basis.
— Sam Meredith
Images from the last 24 hours depict traces of Russia’s war with Ukraine
— Getty Images
Russia cannot be isolated from the West, Putin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed there is no doubt that Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which he has described as a "special military operation," will achieve its objectives. He also warned Russia "cannot be isolated" from the West.
"There's no doubt that the goals and objectives in operation in Ukraine will be fulfilled," Putin said, according to a translation.
"Russia will not self-isolate and it cannot be isolated," he added.
Putin was speaking alongside Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome to mark Russia's annual Cosmonautics Day.
Russia's unprovoked onslaught in Ukraine has resulted in a devastating humanitarian crisis and triggered an outpouring of global condemnation over mounting evidence of war crimes. The U.S. and international allies have also imposed an unprecedented barrage of economic sanctions against Russia to try to weaken the Kremlin's war of aggression against Ukraine.
— Sam Meredith
Mercedes-Benz chairman says Russia-Ukraine crisis is a 'wake-up call' for Europe
Mercedes-Benz Group Chairman Ola Källenius has described Russia's war in Ukraine as a "wake-up call" for Europe.
Källenius said the conflict has thrust energy security — which had previously been "taken for granted" — back into the spotlight.
— Sam Meredith
More than 600 companies have scaled back operations in Russia, research shows
More than 600 companies have announced plans to stop or reduce their work in Russia as a result of the Kremlin's unprovoked onslaught in Ukraine, research shows, but some companies continue to operate undeterred.
A list compiled by academics at Yale School of Management has been tracking the responses of over 1,000 companies since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
It now shows that over 600 firms have voluntarily scaled back operations in Russia to some degree beyond what is required by international sanctions.
— Sam Meredith
Russia is likely to be more successful in battle for the Donbas, says Harvard professor
Russia may gain control of more land in the Donbas as Moscow shifts its focus toward the eastern region of Ukraine, according to Graham Allison, the Douglas Dillon professor of government at Harvard University.
"I would suspect that they will be more successful in the battle for Donbas," he told CNBC's "Street Signs Asia."
Russia is "perfectly willing" to reduce a city to rubble if that's what it takes to win, and could leave "no bricks standing" in Mariupol, said Allison, a former assistant secretary of defense.
The line of control in the Donbas is likely to "move west, not east" as Russia regroups and concentrates its forces, he predicted.
Russia controls pockets of the region, but "they're solidifying their land corridor to Crimea" now, Allison said. Moscow illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
"I suspect this is going to be a long war, it's going to get ever more brutal," he said.
— Abigail Ng
Russian-backed forces deny using chemical weapons in Mariupol — Ifax
Russian-backed separatist forces did not use chemical weapons in their attempts to take full control of the city of Mariupol despite Ukrainian allegations to the contrary, Eduard Basurin, a separatist commander, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday.
Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said earlier on Tuesday that Kyiv was checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons while besieging the southern Ukrainian port city.
Japan 'seriously concerned' about the possible use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine
Japan's top government spokesperson has expressed concern about the possible use of nuclear weapons during Russia's unprovoked onslaught in Ukraine.
"We are seriously concerned about the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons during Russia's invasion of Ukraine," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference, Reuters reported.
"We, as a sole country that has suffered nuclear attacks during war, intends to keep on appealing firmly that any threat of the use of nuclear weapons, let alone their actual use, should never be allowed."
— Sam Meredith
Fighting will intensify over next 2 to 3 weeks, UK ministry predicts
Fighting will get worse in eastern Ukraine over the coming two to three weeks as Moscow redirects its attacks to that part of the country, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said Tuesday.
Russia is already focusing attacks on Ukrainian defenders near Donetsk and Luhansk in the east, the ministry said, with a renewed push toward the town of Kramatorsk.
Further fighting is now taking place around Kherson and Mykolaiv, which both lie near the Black Sea to the east of Odesa. Russian troops have been trying to break out of the Crimean Peninsula for weeks in that area, British mapping of the region shows. Those attempted advances threaten Ukraine's entire southern coastline and its outlet to the sea.
The British ministry said in a daily intelligence update that Russian forces which had retreated into Belarus following the failed attempt to take Ukraine's capital of Kyiv are now rotating toward the east.
Several military analysts have observed that Russian units defeated around Kyiv have taken heavy losses and are suffering from low morale.
— Ted Kemp
Russia’s war in Ukraine means there’ll be no return to normality for Europe’s economy
The war in Ukraine and the ensuing economic sanctions imposed on Russia will cause far bigger shifts for Europe's economy and markets than previous crises like the coronavirus pandemic, economists have said.
In light of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, European leaders have been forced to rapidly accelerate plans to reduce their outsized dependence on Russian energy. The European Parliament on Thursday called for an immediate and total embargo of Russian oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas.
Read the full story here
Japan has never felt any pressure from the U.S. to withdraw from Sakhalin projects, says minister
Japan's industry minister said the country has never felt any pressure from the U.S. to withdraw from the Sakhalin oil and gas projects, according to Reuters.
"We intend to continue to hold the concessions in Sakhalin 1 and 2 projects as they are stable sources of long-term and inexpensive energy and are important to the lives of the Japanese citizens and business activities," Koichi Hagiuda, Japan's industry minister, told a news conference on Tuesday.
Russia and Japan both own stakes in the Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin 2 integrated oil and gas development projects. Japan's involvement has fallen under scrutiny since Russia invaded Ukraine and Western oil companies exited Russia.
"While ensuring a stable energy supply, Japan will work to reduce our dependence on Russian energy by diversifying energy sources, including renewable and nuclear power, and diversifying supply sources," Hagiuda said, Reuters reported.
He also said the ministry was not aware of any Japanese companies being asked by Russian state-owned companies to pay in rubles for natural gas transactions.
— Chelsea Ong
U.S. and Britain working to verify unconfirmed reports of Russian chemical weapons attack in Mariupol
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says that her government is working "urgently" to verify details of an alleged chemical weapons attack Monday on residents of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
"Reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol. We are working urgently with partners to verify details," Truss tweeted.
"Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold Putin and his regime to account," she added.
The original report was a Telegram message posted by the Azov Regiment, an ultra-nationalist part of the Ukrainian National Guard. The Azov message said Russian forces used "a poisonous substance of unknown origin."
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the United States was also aware of the alleged attack.
"We cannot confirm at this time and will continue to monitor the situation closely," he told reporters.
"These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia's potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine," said Kirby.
U.S. officials have been warning for several days that the Russian army will continue to commit what they call "atrocities" as it doubles down on attacks in the eastern regions of Ukraine.
---- Christina Wilkie
Ukrainian troops gather on the front lines in Donbas
Ukrainian soldiers are seen at a front line in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
— Anadolu Agency/Getty Images