Good afternoon. A Ukrainian street will be renamed in honor of Boris Johnson, as the country seeks to “de-Russify” its cities in the wake of war.
Elsewhere Russia said it had conducted a first test launch of its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a new addition to its nuclear arsenal which President Vladimir Putin said would give Moscow’s enemies something to think about.
Below are the key developments from this afternoon – and you can follow the latest updates on our live blog.
1. Ukraine to rename street in honor of Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson will have a street named after him in Ukraine in a tribute to Britain’s contribution to the war effort.
The council of Fontanka, near Odesa, said: “The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is one of the most principled opponents of the Russian invasion, a leader in sanctions on Russia and defense support for Ukraine.”
“Rename Mayakovsky Street to Boris Johnson Street.”
The decision was made to celebrate Ukraine’s “new heroes”, a council official said.
The street was initially named after Vladimir Mayakovsky, a famous Russian poet and playwright.
2. Mariupol could fall in ‘hours’ as Russia focuses on Ukraine’s east
Russian forces tightened the noose around diehard Ukrainian defenders holed up at a Mariupol steel plant on Wednesday.
The ruined city has become a key battleground in Moscow’s drive to seize the country’s industrial east.
A few thousand Ukrainian troops, by the Russians’ estimate, remained holed up in the steel plant. Russia had issued a new ultimatum to the defenders to surrender by 2pm today, but Russian-backed separatists said that just five people had laid down their arms when the deadline passed.
Despite the perseverance of Ukrainian fighters, the commander of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade warned that they “may have only a few days or hours left” to live.
Mariupol’s fall would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, complete a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014, and free up Russian troops to move elsewhere in the Donbas.
3. German army chief backs Scholz on weapons
The German chancellor was backed by his country’s military on Wednesday over his refusal to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Supplying light tanks from its own army stocks would leave Germany underequipped and unable to fulfill its Nato obligations, the country’s deputy chief of staff claimed.
“We would no longer be able to react to eventualities, and that would significantly weaken our defensive capability,” said Lt-Gen Markus Laubenthal.
Mr Scholz has come under heavy criticism after he refused to send Ukraine heavy weapons from Germany’s own military stocks.
Read the full story here.
4. Sarmat missile will make Russia foes ‘think twice’, Putin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia has successfully tested the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
The Russian leader added that the next generation capable of carrying nuclear charges will make the Kremlin’s enemies “think twice.”
“I congratulate you on the successful launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile,” Putin told the army in televised remarks.
“This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure the security of Russia from external threats and make those who, in the heat of aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country, think twice.”
5. Over one million Ukrainians have returned to country
Over a million Ukrainians have returned to their country since Russia launched its devastating invasion at the end of February, a spokesman for Kyiv’s border force said today.
“From that period of time, 1.1 million of our citizens entered Ukraine,” border official Andriy Demchenko said at a press conference.
He added that “almost five million people” crossed the Ukrainian border in both directions since the Russian invasion.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.