Ukraine morning briefing: Five developments as mine-sniffing dog receives medal from Volodymyr Zelensky


Our Foreign Staff

Sun, 8 May 2022, 9:22 pm

Patron was presented with his medal by Volodymyr Zelensky and Justin Trudeau - REUTERS
Patron was presented with his medal by Volodymyr Zelensky and Justin Trudeau – REUTERS

Good morning. Vladimir Putin is gearing up to trumpet Russia’s military power to the world in the Victory Day Parade in Moscow.

Putin will speak at the annual parade – which commemorates Russia’s victory over the Nazis in the Second World War – and Western officials have warned he could use his speech to expand the offensive in Ukraine.

You can watch the victory parade live, with commentary from our specialists, in today’s live blog from 8am.

Here’s what happened overnight.

1. Mine-sweeping terrier receives medal from president

Volodymyr Zelensky presented Ukraine’s famous mine-sniffing dog Patron and his owner with a medal on Sunday to recognise their dedicated service since Russia’s invasion.

The Jack Russell terrier has been credited with detecting more than 200 explosives and preventing their detonation since the start of the war, quickly becoming a canine symbol of Ukrainian patriotism.

Ukraine’s president made the award at a news conference in Kyiv with Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister. Patron barked and wagged his tail, prompting laughter from the audience. Mr Trudeau patted his pockets as though looking for a dog treat.

“Today, I want to award those Ukrainian heroes who are already clearing our land of mines. And together with our heroes, a wonderful little sapper – Patron – who helps not only to neutralise explosives, but also to teach our children the necessary safety rules in areas where there is a mine threat,” Mr Zelensky said.

2. Evacuees escape battle for Azovstal

Buses carrying some of the last weary civilian evacuees from the besieged Azovstal steelworks reached Ukrainian-controlled territory on Sunday – the culmination of an international effort to extricate people trapped in bunkers under the Mariupol plant.

The convoy arrived in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia after dark, carrying around 175 evacuees. They included some 40 people who had been holed up for weeks alongside Ukrainian forces under heavy bombardment in Azovstal’s vast network of underground shelters.

Many children and elderly people were among the exhausted-looking arrivals, who were shepherded off the buses and into a large tent where they were offered tea and a hot meal.

“I just want to live and start again… Everything I have is here,” said Yegor Chekhonadsky, pointing to a cluster of bags at his feet.

Refugees arriving in Zaporizhzhia on Sunday - AP
Refugees arriving in Zaporizhzhia on Sunday – AP

3. G7 to step up pressure on Putin, says PM

G7 leaders agreed that the world must intensify economic pressure on Vladimir Putin in any way possible, Downing Street said on Sunday after the Prime Minister addressed the group.

Boris Johnson said “the world must go further and faster to support Ukraine,” No 10 said after the call, which also included Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Ukraine needed to receive military equipment that allowed them to not just hold ground in Ukraine, but recapture it,” Mr Johnson told the leaders. It comes after the UK pledged another £1.3 billion in military support for Ukraine.

4. UK hits Russia and Belarus with £1.7bn sanctions

The Government has announced that Russia and Belarus will face a new wave of sanctions – targeting £1.7 billion of trade – to “thwart” Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The sanctions, outlined by the International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, involve import tariffs and export bans.

New import tariffs will cover £1.4 billion of goods, including platinum and palladium, “hampering Putin’s ability to fund his war effort”, the Department for International Trade (DIT) said.

The move will bring the total value of products subjected to full or partial import and export sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to more than £4 billion, the department added.

5. ‘At least 60 people killed’ in school bombing

Volodymyr Zelensky said late on Sunday that about 60 people who were sheltering at a school in the eastern village of Bilohorivka were killed by a Russian bombing.

“As a result of a Russian strike on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid at the school, sheltering from shelling,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.

Earlier, the governor of the Luhansk region, said that about 90 people were sheltering at the school.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said on Sunday that the attack amounted to a “war crime”.

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