Live Updates | Greece announces Russian oil tanker seized

ATHENS, Greece — Greek authorities say they have seized a Russian tanker in the Aegean Sea as part of European Union sanctions imposed against Russia.

The Greek coast guard said the Russian-flagged Pegas, an oil tanker with 19 Russian crew members on board, was seized April 15 and is currently anchored in the bay of Karystos, on the southern coast of the island of Evia. The coast guard said the seizure order concerned the ship itself, and not its cargo.

The European Union, of which Greece is a member, has adopted a wide range of sanctions against Russia over the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, designed to pressure the Russian economy and the government of President Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions include import and export bans for a wide variety of goods, and a ban on access to EU ports by Russian-flagged ships.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russian forces attacking along broad east front, Ukraine says

Yellen to see Ukraine PM, avoid Russians at global meetings

— Global finance meeting focuses on war-driven food insecurity

— Syrian fighters ready to join Russia for next phase of Ukraine war

Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

TOKYO — Japan will send gas masks, hazmat suits and drones to Ukraine to help defend the country against Russia’s invasion amid growing concern of chemical weapons use by the Russian military.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Tuesday that Japan is sending the anti-chemical-warfare equipment at the request of the Ukrainian government.

Japan last month provided bulletproof vests, helmets and other nonlethal arms equipment to Ukraine as an exception to Tokyo’s ban on arms exports to countries in conflict, saying Ukraine is being invaded. The shipment has raised controversy in Japan, whose pacifist Constitution renounces war.

“Banding together with the international community and firmly taking action against Russia’s invasion, which violates international law, is extremely important from the viewpoint of our own national security as well,” Kishi said.

The government has revised its operational guideline of arms transfer to allow provisions of nonlethal equipment to Ukraine and says the new rule covers gas masks and protective gear. Japan is also sending commercially available drones that are not considered arms equipment.

Japan has been quick in joining the United States and European Union in imposing sanctions against Russia and supporting Ukraine and its people because Tokyo fears the impact its invasion could have on East Asia, where China has been increasingly pushing its own territorial claims.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said Tuesday that Russian forces are focusing their efforts on taking full control over the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east.

It noted that a “new phase of war” began Monday when “the occupiers made an attempt to break through our defenses along nearly the entire frontline in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions.”

It said in a statement issued early Tuesday that “the Russian military has continued to blockade and shell Mariupol and to deal missile strikes on other cities.”

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KVIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian military official said street battles have begun and evacuation is impossible in the town of Kreminna. That’s one of only two spots where the Ukrainians said the Russians managed to break through on Monday along a front stretching for hundreds of miles.

Luhansk regional military administrator Serhiy Haidai said the town came under heavy artillery overnight, setting seven residential buildings on fire, and that the Olympus sports complex, where the nation’s Olympic team trains, was targeted.

Haidai later said on Ukrainian TV that Russians took control of the city after “leveling everything to the ground,” so his guys retreated to regroup and keep on fighting. “It simply makes no sense to stand in one place, to die for everyone, without causing significant damage to the enemy,” he said.

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KVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces are attacking along a broad front, over 300 miles (480 kilometers) long, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces were increasing assaults in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions — both of which are part of the Donbas — as well as in the area of Zaporizhzhia, they said.

“The occupiers attempted to break through our defenses,” said Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council. “Fortunately, our military is holding out. They passed through only two cities — this is Kreminna and another small town.”

He added: “We are not giving up any of our territories.”

Russia also bombarded the relative safe haven of Lviv and a multitude of other targets across Ukraine in what appeared to be an intensified bid to grind down the country’s defenses.

Moscow said its missiles struck more than 20 military targets, including ammunition depots, command headquarters and groups of troops and vehicles, while its artillery hit an additional 315 targets and its warplanes conducted 108 strikes. The claims could not be independently verified.

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KVIV, Ukraine — Russia has begun dropping bunker-buster bombs on a Mariupol steel plant where Ukrainians are refusing to surrender, the commander of the Azov Regiment of the National Guard said Monday.

Denys Prokopenko, whose soldiers have been holding out against Russian forces in the key southern port city, said in a video message that the bombs are dropping even though civilians are sheltering in the plant’s tunnels.

“Russian occupational forces, and their proxy … know about the civilians, and they keep willingly firing on the factory,” he said.

Russia estimated that 2,500 Ukrainian troops and about 400 foreign mercenaries were dug in. The U.S. said nearly a dozen Russian battalion tactical groups have been tied up trying to defeat them.

The head of the city’s patrol police, Mikhail Vershinin, told Mariupol television on Sunday that many civilians including children are hiding in the plant, seeking shelter from Russian shelling and forces occupying other parts of the city.

Ukraine estimates that 21,000 people have been killed in Mariupol. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk warned Russia on social media that refusing to open humanitarian corridors will justify war crimes trials. The Russians, for their part, said “neo-Nazi nationalists” have hampered evacuations.

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