Ukraine latest: Putin lauds Russian operation to ‘liberate’ Mariupol
A pro-Russian service member stands next to a military vehicle with “Z” painted on it in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 20. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its second month, with casualties mounting on both sides.
Ukraine’s forces continue to resist, while its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.
Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.
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Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.
Here are the latest developments:
Thursday, April 21 (Tokyo time)
5:30 p.m. President Vladimir Putin orders the Russian military to cancel plans to storm the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and says he wants it to continue to be hermetically blockaded instead. Putin gave the order to Sergei Shoigu, his defense minister, who had previously told Putin that more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were still holed up in the vast plant, which has a large underground component to it. “There is no need to climb into these catacombs and crawl underground through these industrial facilities,” Putin said. “Block off this industrial area so that a fly cannot pass through.” Putin also congratulated Shoigu for what he called the successful military operation to “liberate Mariupol” and asked him to pass on his thanks to Russian troops.
India has refused to allow a Japan Self-Defense Force plane meant to deliver humanitarian aid to displaced Ukrainians to land in the country, a top Liberal Democratic Party official said April 21.
2:20 p.m. Russian forces are advancing from staging areas in Donbas towards Kramatorsk, which continues to be hit by rocket attacks, a British military update says. High levels of Russian air activity continue as it seeks to provide close air support for its offensive in eastern Ukraine, and to suppress and destroy Ukrainian air defense capabilities, the UK Ministry of Defense tweeted in a regular bulletin. “Russia likely desires to demonstrate significant successes ahead of their annual 9th May Victory Day celebrations.”
11:50 a.m. India has refused to allow a Japan Self-Defense Force plane meant to deliver humanitarian aid to displaced Ukrainians to land in the country, Sanae Takaichi, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party says. The Japanese government had planned to have an SDF plane load supplies such as blankets at a stopover in India and transport them to Ukraine’s neighbors, including Poland and Romania. The aid was requested by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Takaichi criticized Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government over the matter, saying, “Clearly, the government has not done enough groundwork.”
Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia’s Chechen Republic and a top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, says the last stronghold of resistance in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol will be taken by April 21. © Reuters
8:40 a.m. A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russian forces will seize the last main stronghold of resistance in the besieged city of Mariupol on Thursday, after Ukraine proposed talks on evacuating troops and civilians there. Mariupol would be the biggest city to be seized by Russia since invading Ukraine eight weeks ago. “Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation,” Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine.
A resident walks along a street past burnt out buses in Mariupol on April 19. © Reuters
7:30 a.m. Russia’s war in Ukraine overshadows the Group of 20 gatherings in Washington this week as officials from multiple Western countries quit a closed-door meeting in protest when the Russian delegation began to speak.
The leavers included U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and Canadian Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
“The world’s democracies will not stand idly by in the face of continued Russian aggression and war crimes,” Freeland tweets with a group photo. “Today Canada and a number of our democratic partners walked out of the G20 plenary when Russia sought to intervene.” Read more.
5:05 a.m. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says his side is ready for a “special round of negotiations” in the besieged city of Mariupol with “without any conditions.”
4:30 a.m. European Council President Charles Michel pledges European solidarity with Ukraine in a surprise visit to Kyiv and says justice must be done for alleged Russian war crimes.
“There are no words … to explain what I feel. These are atrocities, these are war crimes. It must be punished. It will be punished,” Michel told a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Michel, the head of the European Council, which represents the European Union’s 27 member states, visited the town of Borodianka northwest of Kyiv before holding talks with Zelenskyy in the capital.
12:08 a.m. Tennis players from Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to compete at this year’s Wimbledon due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the Grand Slam organizer All England Lawn Tennis Club says.
A ban on Russian players prevents world men’s No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and 15th-ranked woman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova from competing. Women’s world No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka and two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus also will be affected.
Local resident Tamara, 71, cries in front of an apartment building destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol. © Reuters
Wednesday, April 20
10:29 p.m. A Russian ultimatum to Ukrainian troops in Mariupol to surrender or die expires with no mass capitulation, but the commander of a unit believed to be holding out in the besieged city says his forces could survive just days or hours. In the ruins of Mariupol, Russia was hitting the last main Ukrainian stronghold, the Azovstal steel plant, with bunker-buster bombs, Kyiv says.
“This is our appeal to the world. It may be our last. We may have only a few days or hours left,” Maj. Serhiy Volyna says in a video uploaded to Facebook. “The enemy units are dozens of times larger than ours, they have dominance in the air, in artillery, in ground troops, in equipment and in tanks.”
10:08 p.m. The number of people fleeing Ukraine to escape Russia’s invasion has passed 5 million, in Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II, the U.N. refugee agency says. Most refugees have crossed to the European Union through border points in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania where volunteers and governments have scrambled to help those arriving, mostly women and children, find jobs and accommodation.
9:10 p.m. Russia’s Defense Ministry proposes that relatives of soldiers killed in Ukraine should have to apply to military rather than civilian authorities for compensation payments, saying it looks to “limit the circle of people” with information around the country’s war losses. Russia already classifies military deaths as state secrets even in times of peace and has not updated its official casualty figures in Ukraine for nearly four weeks.
7:47 p.m. Russia is not planning to stop foreign journalists from entering the country but it is tightening visa rules for those from “unfriendly countries,” a deputy foreign minister says. Yevgeny Ivanov told parliament this was in response to moves by the European Union and other countries to make it harder for the Russian business community to obtain visas. “We have responded by making it harder for journalists from unfriendly countries to obtain visas. They will now get a single-entry visa and pay a higher visa fee,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russian metals companies are facing “hostile attitudes” from those Moscow refers to as “unfriendly countries.” (Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin via REUTERS)
7:07 p.m. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russian metals companies are facing “hostile attitudes” from those Moscow calls “unfriendly countries,” and that Russia will formulate a plan to combat this. “We are among world leaders in this industry, and our metallurgists have begun to face hostile attitudes… our companies are experiencing some difficulties,” Peskov says during a conference call with reporters.
Russia is a major producer of metals including aluminum, nickel, palladium, copper, steel and gold. Western countries have imposed sanctions against some wealthy Russians with large shareholdings in metals companies.
3:47 p.m. Ukraine hopes to evacuate 6,000 women, children and elderly people from the besieged city of Mariupol on Wednesday if a preliminary agreement with Russia holds, the city’s mayor said. Mayor Vadym Boichenko, who has left Mariupol, said 90 buses were waiting to head to the devastated southern port city. He cautioned that the agreement was still only a preliminary arrangement and that about 100,000 civilians remained there.
If the deal holds, it will be the first agreement on creating a safe corridor for civilians to flee from Mariupol to other Ukrainian cities since March 5. That agreement quickly collapsed, however, and many residents have been trapped there for weeks without power, running water and other supplies.
2:22 p.m. Japan’s parliament gives the green light to strip Russia of most-favored-nation trading status, a move taken in unison with other countries to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Russia will lose benefits such as low tariffs and few trade barriers. Other changes enacted include amending the foreign exchange and trade law to prevent cryptocurrencies from being used as a loophole to sidestep economic sanctions on Russia.
Following the legislative move, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government will set ordinances stipulating that all imports from Russia will be subject to higher duties until the end of March 2023, including a 5% tariff on salmon, from the current 3.5%, and a 6% duty imposed on crabs, from 4%.
President Joe Biden spoke with leaders of Japan, France and other allies on April 19 about providing security guarantees for Ukraine. © Reuters
3:11 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and leaders of other allies on Tuesday discussed how to provide security guarantees to Ukraine during and after the war with Russia, a French official says. “It would be military supplies so that it can deal with a new attack or, possibly, guarantees that would see us get involved if Ukraine is attacked in a way where we could assess how to assist it,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. will send more artillery to Ukraine, Biden tells reporters after the call with allied leaders. Japan’s Foreign Ministry says Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told his counterparts during the call that Tokyo plans to extend $300 million in loans to Ukraine, up from an original offer of $100 million.
Tuesday, April 19
11:45 p.m. Russia’s economy will shrink 8.5% this year in the wake of economic sanctions imposed by many of its trade partners, the latest International Monetary Fund forecasts show, while Ukraine’s is projected to contract as much as 35%.
“Economic damage from the conflict will contribute to a significant slowdown in global growth in 2022,” the IMF says.
The conflict has overshadowed Asia, with rising commodity prices and weaker European demand for exports dragging on economies fighting to get back on track after coronavirus-induced slumps.
8:12 p.m. Russia’s siege of the city of Mariupol has further complicated negotiations with Ukraine and it is hard to say when direct talks might resume, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak says. In written responses to questions from Reuters, Podolyak said he believed Russia was banking on strengthening its position through a new offensive in eastern Ukraine.
7:00 p.m. Russian forces have taken control of the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine, and Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the city, the regional governor says. “Kreminna is under the control of the ‘Orcs’ (Russians). They have entered the city,” Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said in a briefing.
6:00 p.m. Russia calls on Ukrainian forces and foreign fighters holed up in the Azovstal metallurgical plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol to lay down their arms by noon Moscow time if they want to live. Mariupol, which has been encircled by Russian troops for weeks, has seen the fiercest fighting and most comprehensive destruction since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ukrainian authorities said on Monday that no fewer than 1,000 civilians were hiding in underground shelters beneath the vast Azovstal plant, adding that Russia was dropping heavy bombs on the Ukrainian-held factory in the besieged city.
3:00 p.m. The Ukrainian military’s general staff says 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.”
1:00 p.m. Ukrainian forces have struck a village near Russia’s border with Ukraine, wounding one resident, the governor of the Russian province of Belgorod says. It was not immediately clear whether the strike on the village of Golovchino that figured in posts by Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov on messaging app Telegram was carried out by artillery, mortars, missiles or was an aerial attack. This month, Russia accused Ukraine, which it invaded in late February, of carrying out a helicopter strike on a fuel depot in Belgorod, as well as shelling villages there several times, and firing missiles at an ammunition depot.
10:00 a.m. The Biden administration says it is barring anti-satellite missile testing by the U.S., a move that White House officials say is meant to underscore its hopes of establishing new norms for military action in space. Washington has sharply criticized Russia and China for conducting anti-satellite missile tests, although it also used an interceptor missile fired from a U.S. Navy warship more than 14 years ago to destroy a malfunctioning spy satellite. The issue is one that’s taken on greater urgency after Russia in November launched a missile to destroy a defunct Soviet-era satellite.
7:00 a.m. Russian forces have begun the “Battle of Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, after senior officials say Moscow had launched a new offensive push along most of Ukraine’s eastern flank.
“A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive,” Zelenskyy says.
“No matter how many Russian troops they send there, we will fight,” he says. “We will defend ourselves.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks on April 18. © Reuters
3:12 a.m. At least 1,000 civilians — mostly women, children and the elderly — are hiding in underground shelters beneath the vast Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the city council says, adding that Russia is dropping heavy bombs onto the Ukrainian-held factory in the besieged port city.
Street battles have occurred in Mariupol over the past week as Russian forces seek to take full control of the city from Ukraine.
Monday, April 18
10:29 p.m. Two British fighters captured in Ukraine by Russian forces appear on Russian state TV, asking to be exchanged for a Ukrainian ally of President Vladimir Putin who is being held by Ukrainian authorities.
It was unclear how freely the two men were able to talk. Both spoke separately after being prompted by an unidentified man. The Putin ally, pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, was shown asking to be swapped in a video released around the same time by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service via social media.
5:44 p.m. Russia’s Central Bank should be able to lower its key rate faster and create conditions for more affordable loans, Gov. Elvira Nabiullina says. The central bank more than doubled its key interest rate to 20% when Russia was hit by international sanctions after sending its forces into Ukraine in February, but then cut it this month to 17%, flagging a challenging economic environment and a slowdown in inflation.
5:30 p.m. Russia says it has launched mass strikes overnight on the Ukrainian military and associated military targets, using its air force, missile forces, artillery and air defense systems to hit hundreds of targets across its southern neighbor. The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that air-launched missiles had destroyed 16 Ukrainian military facilities overnight, including five command posts, a fuel depot and three ammunition warehouses, as well as Ukrainian armor and forces. It said those strikes took place in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, and that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where it said Ukrainian forces and armor were concentrated.
4:44 p.m. Japan marine transport company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines says it will stop arranging a spot shipment of Russian coal. The company is also planning not to hire any more Russian sailors in the short term. Toshiaki Tanaka, executive officer of the company, told reporters that most Russian coal shipments are contracted on a short-term basis and spot shipment deals are decreasing among Japanese customers.
4:20 p.m. Six people were killed and eight wounded in a missile strike on the western Ukraine city of Lviv on Monday morning, regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy says. Three missiles hit military infrastructure while one struck a car tire replacement facility, he said.
3:20 p.m. The mayor of the western Ukraine city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, says on Facebook that five missiles struck the city and that emergency services were responding to the attack. He said more details would follow. Witnesses said multiple explosions believed to be caused by missiles struck the city early Monday as the country braces for an all-out Russian assault in the east, The Associated Press reported. Lviv and the rest of western Ukraine have been less affected by the fighting than other parts of the country, and the city was considered to be a relatively safe haven.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, speaks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv on April 8. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters)
8:57 a.m. Ukraine has completed a questionnaire which will mark a starting point for the European Union to decide on membership for Kyiv, says Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed the questionnaire to Zelenskyy during her visit to Kyiv on April 8, pledging a speedier start to Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the EU following Russia’s invasion of the country. “Today, I can say that the document has been completed by the Ukrainian side,” Zhovkva told the Ukrainian public broadcaster on Sunday evening. The EC will need to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s compliance with necessary membership criteria, he added.
4:24 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he discussed the country’s financial stability and postwar reconstruction with Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
“We have clear plans for now, as well as a vision of prospects,” Zelenskyy says in a tweet. “I’m sure cooperation between the IMF & Ukraine will continue to be fruitful.”
Sunday, April 17
Residents walk past a damaged apartment building in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on April 15. © Reuters
11:30 p.m. Remaining Ukrainian forces in the southern port of Mariupol are still fighting and continue to defy a Russian demand that they surrender, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says.
“The city still has not fallen,” Shmyhal tells ABC’s “This Week” program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continue to control some parts of the city. Russia gave Ukrainian soldiers in the city an ultimatum on Sunday to lay down their arms, Reuters reports.
Saturday, April 16
11:29 p.m. Russian air raids and missile strikes hit Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities as Moscow launches more long-range attacks following the sinking of its Black Sea Fleet’s flagship. Moscow says its warplanes had struck a tank repair factory in Kyiv. An explosion was heard and smoke seen in the southeastern Darnytskyi district. The mayor said at least one person had died and medics were fighting to save others.
In the besieged port of Mariupol, scene of the war’s heaviest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe, Russian troops press their advances, hoping to make up for their failure to capture Kyiv by seizing their first big prize of the war.
10:15 p.m. Russia bars entry for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and 10 other British government members and politicians, Reuters reports. The move was taken “in view of the unprecedented hostile action by the British government, in particular the imposition of sanctions against senior Russian officials,” the Russian Foreign Ministry says, adding that it will expand the list.
5:30 p.m. The dramatic sinking of Russia’s guided missile cruiser Moskva — the flagship of its Black Sea fleet — on Thursday was followed by a U.S. defense official telling reporters that Moscow immediately moved its four to five remaining ships in those waters south, farther from Ukraine.
These rapid developments put the spotlight once again on Turkey, which sits across the Black Sea and controls the maritime passage between those waters and the Mediterranean Sea. Read more.
Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces attend military drills, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv Region on April 15. © Reuters
1:03 p.m. Explosions were heard in the early hours on Saturday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the Western city of Lviv, according to local media reports. Air raid sirens sounded across much of Ukraine early on Saturday. The mayor of Kyiv said rescuers and medics were working at the site of a blast on the outskirts of the city.
9:44 a.m. Zelenskyy on Friday told CNN that between 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died so far in the war with Russia and that another 10,000 have been wounded, but there was no count of civilian casualties. He told the U.S. TV network that 19,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the war. Moscow said last month that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded.
Ukrainian soldiers take part in a funeral in Lviv, Ukraine, on April 13. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says between 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died so far in the war with Russia. © Reuters
3:00 a.m. Two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Russian flagship Moskva in the Black Sea, U.S. media report, quoting a senior defense official, providing the first American confirmation that the sinking of the Russian cruiser was the result of a Ukrainian strike.
The confirmation comes after Ukrainian forces said Thursday that they had attacked the cruiser Moskva. Russian officials claimed that the ship had experienced a fire. The Pentagon observed some Russian sailors evacuating the ship in lifeboats as the vessel burned.
Friday, April 15
11:00 p.m. Russia appears poised to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and escalate attacks across Ukraine’s southeast after bruising setbacks, including the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet.
The Russians are staging attack helicopters at the border with Ukraine and bringing in soldiers and artillery, the Pentagon says.
7:00 p.m. Russia has warned the U.S. of “unpredictable consequences” if Washington keeps arming Ukraine, The Washington Post reports. “We call on the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security,” the Post quoted Russia saying in a diplomatic note to the U.S.
Ukrainian troops unload U.S. military aid at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv. Russia is threatening Ukraine’s arms suppliers, including the U.S. © Reuters
5:30 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says it has struck a military target on the edge of Kyiv overnight with cruise missiles and promises more strikes against the Ukrainian capital in response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian targets. Russian forces have also taken full control of the Ilyich Steel Plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol, which has been encircled by Russian troops for weeks, the ministry says.
Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it sent its war machine into Ukraine appear to have forced Moscow to try to pay off bonds in rubles rather than dollars, as mandated in contracts. © Reuters
3:30 p.m. Russia could end up in default after trying to service its dollar bonds in rubles due to Western sanctions, Moody’s says. Russia made a payment due on April 4 on two sovereign bonds — maturing in 2022 and 2042 — in rubles rather than the dollars it was mandated to pay under the securities’ terms. Russia “therefore may be considered a default under Moody’s definition if not cured by 4 May, which is the end of the grace period,” Moody’s said in a statement. “The bond contracts have no provision for repayment in any other currency other than dollars.”
2:30 p.m. After Russia lost its Black Sea fleet flagship Moskva, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly address paid homage to all “those who halted the progress of the endless convoys of Russian military equipment … Those who showed that Russian ships can go … down to the bottom.”
Firefighters work on clearing debris in Pushcha-Vodytsya, Kyiv, Ukraine, in this still image taken from a handout video uploaded on April 14, 2022. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout) © Reuters
9:30 a.m. Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv early on Friday, and air raid sirens blared across Ukraine as residents braced for new Russian attacks after Moscow’s lead warship in the Black Sea sank following a fire. The explosions appeared to be among the most significant in Ukraine’s capital region since Russian troops pulled back from the area earlier this month in preparation for battles in the south and east. Ukraine claimed responsibility for sinking the Moskva, saying the Soviet-era flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet was struck by one of its missiles. The vessel sank late on Thursday as it was being towed to port, Russia’s defense ministry said.
8:00 a.m. A total of 2,557 people left Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says. Of them, 289 were able to flee the besieged southern port of Mariupol by providing their own transportation, according to a Vereshchuk social media post.
5:00 a.m. The Russian missile cruiser Moskva has sunk in the Black Sea, Russian media RIA and RT report, citing the Defense Ministry. The warship sank in stormy seas after suffering damage from an ammunition fire onboard, the reports say. The Ukrainian side claims to have struck the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet off Odesa with Neptune anti-ship missiles.
3:33 a.m. France will move back its embassy in Ukraine to the capital Kyiv from the Western city of Lviv “very soon,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call. The embassy was moved to Lviv in early March as conditions worsened on the ground.
2:15 a.m. Over 400 Russian diplomats have been expelled from at least 20 countries over the invasion of Ukraine, as nations in Europe and beyond respond to reports of hundreds of civilian bodies left near Kyiv following a retreat by Russian forces.
In total, 443 diplomats had been or were set to be expelled as of April 8, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Forty-five were in neighboring Poland, more than in any other country. Slovakia has decided to kick out 38 Russian diplomats, while Slovenia moved to expel 33. Read more.
Thursday, April 14
11:50 p.m. President Vladimir Putin says Russian energy exports should be rerouted to Africa and Latin America amid a push to diversify supplies from the West.
New oil and gas pipelines could be constructed in the hydrocarbon fields in West and East Siberia, he added.
5:48 p.m. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, says that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia will have to bolster its defenses in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons. “There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he says. Medvedev, one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, was the country’s president from 2008-2012.
3:50 p.m. Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Thursday to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol. Other evacuation routes are from Berdiansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar, and ones in the eastern Luhansk region will operate if occupying Russian forces stop their shelling, Vereshchuk added in a statement.
The Russian Navy’s guided missile cruiser Moskva sails back to harbor last November. The country now says the flagship of its Black Sea fleet has been seriously damaged. © Reuters
12:30 p.m. Russia says the flagship of its Black Sea fleet was seriously damaged and its crew evacuated following an explosion that a Ukrainian official said was the result of a missile strike. Russia’s defense ministry said a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser caused ammunition to blow up, Interfax news agency reported. It did not say what caused the fire but Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odesa, said the Moskva had been hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.
10:06 a.m. South Korea’s central bank raises its policy rate to the highest since August 2019 in an unexpected move, choosing not to wait for the formal appointment of a new governor before proceeding with its fight against surging inflation. Inflation in the country is expected to hold at decade-highs as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends commodity prices soaring.
7:44 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden announces an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, expanding the scope of the systems provided to include heavy artillery ahead of a wider Russian assault expected in eastern Ukraine. The package, which brings the total military aid since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5 billion, includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers and unmanned coastal defense boats.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, attends a joint news briefing with the presidents of Poland and the Baltic states on April 13.
5:12 a.m. The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Wednesday, calling for increased military support for Ukraine and for Russia to be held accountable for the actions of its troops on the ground. Before meeting Zelenskyy, the four presidents visited areas in the Kyiv region where hundreds of slain civilians have been discovered after the Russian withdrawal. Moscow has denied responsibility and dismissed allegations its troops committed war crimes there as fake news. “This is not war, this is terrorism,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda.
2:28 a.m. A “global cease-fire” in Ukraine does not seem possible at the moment, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells a news conference. But “lots of things” can be done to guarantee the evacuation of civilians from areas of fighting and to guarantee humanitarian access, Guterres adds.
1:10 a.m. Finland will decide whether to apply to join NATO in the next few weeks, not months, Prime Minister Sanna Marin says, underlining a shift in security perspectives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Wednesday, April 13
9:51 p.m. Experts sent by member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia in Ukraine, an initial report by the mission says, citing failures to take necessary precautions, act proportionately or spare sites like schools and hospitals.
Despite Russian denials, the report says a March 9 attack on Mariupol Maternity House and Children’s Hospital was carried out by Russia and that those responsible committed a war crime. It also says the attack on Mariupol’s Drama Theater on March 16 in which 300 people were killed was a war crime.
Russian troops load ammunition onto an armored vehicle during fighting in Mariupol on April 12. © Reuters
7:08 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says 1,026 soldiers of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, have surrendered in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Encircled by Russian troops for weeks, Mariupol has seen the fiercest fighting and the most comprehensive destruction since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. The main port on the Sea of Azov is the biggest target in the eastern Donbas region that Moscow now calls the focus of its campaign. If captured, Mariupol will be the first major city to fall since the war began. Its capture will help secure a land passage between separatist-held eastern areas and Crimea which Russia annexed and seized in 2014.
1:27 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin said peace talks with Ukraine had hit a dead end. Addressing the war in public for the first time since Russian forces retreated from northern Ukraine after they were halted at the gates of Kyiv, Putin promised that Russia would achieve all of its “noble” aims in Ukraine. “We have again returned to a dead-end situation for us,” Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, told a news briefing.
11:24 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden said for the first time that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, a significant escalation of the president’s rhetoric. Biden used the term in a speech at an ethanol plant in Iowa and later stood by the description as he prepared to board Air Force One.
“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian, and the evidence is mounting,” Biden told reporters.
4:55 a.m. The World Bank is preparing a $1.5 billion support package for war-torn Ukraine and plans to aid developing countries struggling to keep up with surging food and energy prices, World Bank President David Malpass said.
“The World Bank was created in 1944 to help Europe rebuild after World War II. As we did then, we will be ready to help Ukraine with reconstruction when the time comes,” Malpass said. He added that the package was enabled by Monday’s approval of $1 billion in International Development Association (IDA) aid by donor and recipient countries, along with a $100 million IDA payment to neighboring Moldova.
4:20 a.m. Ukraine says it has captured Viktor Medvedchuk — a Ukrainian, pro-Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin — in a special forces operation.
12:30 a.m. The mayor of Mariupol says about 21,000 civilian residents of the port city had been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion according to latest estimates.
In televised comments, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said it had been difficult to calculate the exact number of casualties since street fighting had started.
Tuesday, April 12
6:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine will undoubtedly achieve what he said were its “noble” objectives. Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that said Moscow had no other choice but to launch a military operation to protect Russia, and that a clash with Ukraine’s anti-Russian forces had been inevitable. “Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin said of Russia’s military campaign.
4:30 p.m. The Russian defense ministry says that its missiles have destroyed ammunition depots in Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi and Kyiv regions. The ministry said Russian forces had struck an ammunition depot and hangar at the Starokostiantyniv air base in the Khmelnytskyi region, as well as an ammunition depot near Havrylivka north of the capital Kyiv.
An armored vehicle of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol, April 11. There have been unverified reports of the use of chemical agents in an attack on the city. © Reuters
4:00 p.m. All options would be on the table in response to any use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia, British armed forces minister James Heappey said. British Foreign Minister Liz Truss on Monday said the country was working with its partners to verify the details of reports Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on Mariupol. “There are some things that are beyond the pale, and the use of chemical weapons will get a response and all options are on the table for what that response could be,” Heappey told Sky News on Tuesday.
2:20 p.m. Fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia continues to refocus its efforts there, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense tweeted in a regular bulletin. Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk, with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push toward Kramatorsk, British military intelligence said. The report also said Russian forces continue to withdraw from Belarus in order to redeploy in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.
Graves of civilians killed during the Russian invasion lie in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on April 10. © Reuters
11:14 a.m. The mayor of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol told The Associated Press that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the Russian siege of his city and that the death toll could surpass 20,000, with weeks of attacks and privation leaving bodies “carpeted through the streets.” Mayor Vadym Boychenko also accused Russian forces of having blocked humanitarian convoys from entering the city for weeks in an attempt to conceal the carnage there from the outside world.
11:00 a.m. Japan’s Cabinet has approved additional sanctions against Russia, freezing assets of 398 Russian individuals, including President Vladimir Putin’s daughters and the wife of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
10:05 a.m. Japan’s wholesale inflation remained near record-high levels in March as the Ukraine crisis and a weak yen pushed up the costs of fuel and raw materials, government data shows. The corporate goods price index, which measures the prices that companies charge each other for goods and services, rose 9.5% in March from a year earlier. That followed a revised 9.7% spike in February, which was the fastest pace on record. The March index, at 112.0, was the highest level since December 1982.
An Idemitsu Kosan oil refinery in Ichihara, east of Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture. The Ukraine crisis and a weak yen have pushed up the costs of fuel and raw materials in Japan. (Kyodo via Reuters)
6:24 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video address late on Monday that Russia forces could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, but he did not say that chemical weapons have already been used. Unconfirmed reports earlier in the day had suggested that chemical weapons were used in the besieged southern port of Mariupol.
5:00 a.m. European Union officials discussing additional sanctions on Russia have failed to agree on a Russian oil embargo despite support from some countries.
Many of the ministers meeting in Luxembourg showed support for sanctions on Russian oil imports, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says. But for others, such a ban would constitute an “asymmetric shock,” he says. The bloc did agree to step up the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.
1:38 a.m. Axel Springer says it has hired the former Russian state TV worker who made international headlines last month by bursting onto her then-employer’s live newscast to protest the war.
Marina Ovsyannikova will report for the German company’s Welt brand as a freelance correspondent, including from Ukraine and Russia. She will write for the newspaper and regularly contribute to Welt news channel coverage, according to Axel Springer.
Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 rubles ($373 at current rates) in mid-March and could still face further prosecution in Russia.
1:30 a.m. “This is not a friendly visit,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer says in a statement issued by his office about talks just outside Moscow with Vladimir Putin.
This marked the first meeting with the Russian president by a European Union leader since the invasion of Ukraine started more than six weeks ago.
Nehammer has expressed solidarity with Ukraine and denounced apparent Russian war crimes. His government last week ordered the expulsion of a total of four Russian Embassy and Russian Consulate personnel over conduct that has “not been in accordance with their diplomatic status” — generally a euphemism for spying.
For earlier updates, click here.