Russia-Ukraine war latest: Russia still bombing Azovstal steelworks, Ukraine says; UN secretary general to meet Putin – live | Ukraine

0
44


Russian bombing on Azovstal plant does not stop, says Mariupol official

Russian forces are continuing to drop bombs on the Azovstal iron and steelworks, according to Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Advertisement

Fears are growing for hundreds of civilians holed up in the steel factory on Mariupol’s left bank, with the last remaining, outgunned contingent of Ukrainian fighters.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, yesterday ordered his forces not to storm the factory complex after his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, admitted the Russian army was still fighting thousands of Ukrainian soldiers there.

According to local officials, between 300 and 1,000 people, including women and children, could still be trapped in the steelworks.

Andryushchenko told Associated Press:

Every day they drop several bombs on Azovstal. Fighting, shelling, bombing do not stop.

Advertisement
Advertisement
A member of pro-Russian troops stands in front of the destroyed administration building of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works on April 21, 2022.
A member of pro-Russian troops stands in front of the destroyed administration building of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works on April 21, 2022. Photograph: Chingis Kondarov/Reuters

On Thursday, Mariupol’s mayor, Vadym Boichenko, accused Russia of hiding evidence of its “barbaric” war crimes in Mariupol by burying the bodies of civilians killed by shelling in a new mass grave in the nearby village of Manhush.

Andryushchenko said:

The graves have been dug up and corpses are still being dumped there.

Initial estimates from the Ukrainians said the apparent mass graves could hold 9,000 bodies, but Andryushenko said there could be more.

Advertisement

Hello, this is Helen Livingstone here to bring you the latest on the war in Ukraine.

The stated intent of Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu to “introduce ‘new methods of warfare’ is a tacit admission that Russian progress is not going as intended,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence has written in its latest intelligence update.

While it may indicate an understanding that the war is not progressing as planned it will take some time to translate this into adapted tactics, techniques and procedures, and then implement for improved operational effect particularly in regards to land-based manoeuvre warfare. Therefore, in the interim there is likely to be a continued reliance on bombardment as a means of trying to suppress Ukrainian opposition to Russian forces,” the ministry said.

“As a result, it is likely that Russian forces will continue to be frustrated by an inability to overcome Ukrainian defences quickly.”

Today so far…

That’s it from me, Johana Bhuiyan, in New York. Here’s what’s happened so far.

Advertisement
Advertisement
  • The US military expects more than 20 countries to attend Ukraine-focused defence talks it will host in Germany next week that will focus in part on Kyiv’s long-term defense needs, the Pentagon said on Friday.
  • A senior EU official said Russia will likely increase its military attacks in eastern Ukraine and along the country’s coast. The “next couple of weeks” could be potentially decisive for the war, the official said.
  • Western allies are preparing to offer Ukraine a series of “security guarantees” which should make the country “impregnable” to a future Russian invasion, Boris Johnson has said, as the Press Association reports.
  • A Russian military official, Rustam Minnekayev, said Russia plans to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine as part of the second phase of its military operation. Russia intends to forge a land corridor between Crimea and Donbas, he said, adding that control of Ukraine’s south will give Russia another gateway to Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.
  • Russia’s defence ministry has reported that one sailor died and 27 more remain missing after one of its premier warships, the missile cruiser Moskva, sank last week in the Black Sea south of the threatened Ukrainian port of Odesa.
  • Ukraine deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that “there is a possibility” a humanitarian corridor could be opened up out of the port of Mariupol on Saturday.
  • Russia is shifting its elite military units away from the besieged city of Mariupol to eastern Ukraine, where they “pounded away at cities across the region”, according to the Associated Press.
  • Russia’s chief negotiator, Vladimir Medinsky, confirmed reports that “several long conversations” had been held with Ukraine today but he gave no details. Separately, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who has previously accused Ukraine of dragging out the peace process, said diplomatic efforts to end the war remained stalled.
  • The UN human rights office said it has seen growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, describing the war as a “horror story of violations against civilians”. The UN human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said “almost every resident” of the town of Bucha had a story about the death of a relative, a neighbour or even a stranger.
  • The head of the UN atomic watchdog, Rafael Grossi, said he will visit Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant next week. Grossi will head an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission “to deliver vital equipment and conduct radiological and other assessments at the site”, which was held by Russian forces for five weeks, the agency said in a statement.

Maxar Technologies, which collects and publishes satellite images of Ukraine, said it had spotted a second mass cemetery in Mariupol, Reuters is reporting. The company said it appears the cemetery has expanded over the last month and includes long trenches which may become new grave sites.

On Thursday, Maxar said it had spotted the first grave site, with 200 new graves appearing in March and April. The alleged mass grave could contain as many as 9,000 bodies, according to NBC News. The Guardian could not independently confirm the existence of the grave sites.

The European Commission said on Friday that European companies won’t violate sanctions if they pay for Russian gas in euros and dollars which are then converted into Russian rubles. Russia has demanded in a new decree that gas payments be delivered in rubles, which could run afoul of current sanctions on the country.

Advertisement

“EU companies could make a clear statement that they intend to fulfil their obligations under existing contracts and consider their contractual obligations regarding the payment already fulfilled by paying in euros or dollars, in line with the existing contracts, as before the adoption of the Decree,” the commission said in a document distributed to all the member states.

Austria’s finance minister, Magnus Brunner ,said in an interview with CNN that the country supported all sanctions on Russia except for a gas embargo. Austria is extremely reliant on Russian gas exports, he said, so the country had “no choice”.

“Once a sanction hits yourself more than the one targeted by the sanction, I think there’s not much use,” Brunner said.

The US and UK have already sanctioned Russian oil.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Russia is shifting its elite military units away from the besieged city of Mariupol to eastern Ukraine where they “pounded away at cities across the region”, according to the Associated Press.

Cities and villages across Donbas – an industrial region in the eastern part of Ukraine – were bombarded as the Kremlin sent over more than 100,000 new troops from Syria and Libya into Ukraine.

From the AP:

Mariupol has taken on outsize importance in the war. Capturing it would deprive the Ukrainians of a vital port and complete a land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Putin seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Advertisement

It would also enable Putin to throw more of his forces into the potentially climactic battle for the Donbas and its coal mines, factories and other industries, or what the Kremlin has now declared to be its main objective.
[Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defense council] reported that some 12 to 14 of Russia’s elite military units have, in fact, left Mariupol and begun moving to the east to take part in the fighting there.

“It will now be difficult for our forces, because our guys in Mariupol were taking [those units] on themselves. It is their courage and feat,” he said.
Danilov also said Kyiv was able to deliver weapons via helicopter at great risk under cover of night to the Mariupol steelworks, which have been bombarded for weeks.

“There is a possibility” a humanitarian corridor out of Mariupol could open on Saturday, says Ukraine deputy prime minister

Ukraine deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that “there is a possibility” a humanitarian corridor could be opened up out of the port of Mariupol on Saturday, Reuters is reporting. Vereshchuk relayed the message in a video address to people waiting be evacuated from the besieged city.

“Watch the official announcements tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I will confirm,” she said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Volodymyr Zelenskiy said comments from a Russian commander earlier today indicating Russia planned to create a “land corridor” from the Donbas region in Ukraine to Moldova showed that the attack on Ukraine was only the beginning.

“One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor to the Crimea, as well as influence the vital objects of the Ukrainian economy,” said Russian military commander Rustam Minnekaev on Friday at a meeting with the Union of Defense Industries. “Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population.”

Advertisement

Transistria is a separatist enclave in Moldova.

In a video address on Friday, Zelenskiy also said that the allies have begun to deliver the arms they’ve promised which “would help save the lives of thousands of people”, according to Reuters.

Advertisement

The pressure is on to impose sanctions on Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich after he failed to revive peace talks on a recent trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, Bloomberg is reporting. Unnamed US senior officials are pushing to renew talks to sanction Abramovich after his talks with the chief of staff of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy did not progress, sources told Bloomberg.

From Bloomberg:

The billionaire’s role as an unofficial mediator has been controversial from the start, with critics claiming Russia’s 10th-richest man was only seeking to protect his vast wealth from the penalties unleashed against other business leaders over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

On the day the war started, Abramovich accepted a request from Zelenskiy, passed through an intermediary, to get involved in negotiations to end the fighting, according to three people familiar with the situation. He threw himself into trying to broker a cease-fire, shuttling between Moscow, Kyiv, Belarus and Istanbul for talks behind the scenes, they said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Early on, Abramovich asked Zelenskiy to request that Western nations not sanction him while he was trying to act as a mediator, the people said.

Despite opposition from some members of his administration, US President Joe Biden honored Zelenskiy’s appeal and has not targeted the tycoon, according to the people familiar with the administration’s position.

Europe can get by without Russian gas for six months, but beyond that, the economic impact would be severe, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official has told Agence France-Presse, the agency writes.

Alfred Kammer, head of the IMF’s European department, urged countries in the region to take a series of steps to ease the blow, including reducing consumption to build up inventory.

Advertisement

The region relies on Russia for the vast majority of its energy needs, especially natural gas, and IMF economists looked at the economic cost of losing Moscow’s supply.

US-ECONOMY-IMF-KAMMERDirector of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) European Department, Alfred Kammer, poses outside of IMF headquarters during the IMF World Bank spring meetings April 22, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Alfred Kammer poses outside of IMF headquarters during the IMF World Bank spring meetings on Friday. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings, Kammer told AFP:

Over the first six months, Europe can deal with such a shutoff [by] having alternative supplies [and] using existing storage.

However, if that gas shut off were to last into the winter, and over a longer period, then that would have significant effects.

Western countries have considered putting an embargo on Russian energy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, while Moscow could also shut off exports to hit back at the damaging sanctions already imposed on the government.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The International Monetary Fund projects that a total loss of Russian gas and oil supplies could cost the European Union 3% of GDP, depending on the severity of the winter.

He called for steps to prepare for the possibility.

“There is no single option, which has a large impact, but lots of smaller measures will have a larger impact,” he said, including by finding alternative suppliers, which some countries already have begun to do.

Consumers also have an important role to play and governments can raise awareness among their population through “public campaigns to reduce energy consumption”.

“The consumer can act now,” he said, and reducing consumption meant more fuel could be stored in case supplies are interrupted.

Advertisement

Although the war in Ukraine has slowed growth sharply, Kammer said it “will not derail the recovery” and he does not expect a Europe-wide recession.

The major eurozone economies, with the exception of Spain, will be “weak in 2022” and will see a quarter or two of near-zero growth or even a technical recession with two negative quarters.

But the IMF expects these economies to recover in the second half of this year.

The Russian attack on its neighbor has caused a flood of about five million refugees, creating a challenge for European countries which face strains on their budgets as they deal with the influx.

Poland, which which has taken in the most Ukrainians, is particularly affected.

Advertisement
Advertisement

What happens to those people, mostly women and children, after the war remains a question.

“Some of these refugees will stay in Europe, I’m sure about that,” said Kammer, who noted that could be “a boon” for countries faced with ageing populations and a lack of workers.

“But it could be a bad for Ukraine if too many of the refugees are going to stay.”

woman sits in packed car
Varta, 81, sits in a car after arriving with her family from Mariupol at an evacuation point on Friday. Photograph: Roman Pilipey/EPA

Russia’s defence ministry has reported that one sailor died and 27 more remain missing after one of its premier warships, the missile cruiser Moskva, sank last week in the Black Sea south of the threatened Ukrainian port of Odesa.

Advertisement

A further 396 crew members were rescued, RIA news agency has said, citing Russia’s defence ministry on Friday, Reuters reports.

Moscow says the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, sank after a fire sparked an ammunition blast. Ukraine says it hit the vessel with an anti-ship missile, an account backed by western intelligence findings and supported by recently emerging pictures and video.

The stricken Moskva.
The stricken Moskva. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Earlier this month, Ukraine said it had struck the Moskva with Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles while distracting its crew with an aerial drone, causing it to start sinking and forcing the crew of 500 to abandon ship.

The ship sank as it was being towed south towards the port of Sevastapol.

The apparent attack on and sinking of the Black Sea fleet’s flagship – 50 days after Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine – represents a symbolic blow to the Kremlin. The Moskva was the pride of its fleet and the most prestigious vessel involved in the war against Ukraine.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“The sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, is not just a significant loss, it is emblematic of the shambolic Russian military campaign,” said Michael Kofman, research programme director and Russia expert at the US government-funded Center for Naval Analyses.

Family members of crew had been demanding answers from the Russian government, after little information was forthcoming following the sinking.

Security guarantees will make Ukraine “impregnable” to future attack – British PM

Western allies are preparing to offer Ukraine a series of “security guarantees” which should make the country “impregnable” to a future Russian invasion, Boris Johnson has said, as the Press Association reports. Here’s more of what the British prime minister has been talking about during his visit to India.

Johnson said it was essential to step up immediate military support to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, as he warned there was a “realistic possibility” that the conflict could drag on for a “long period”.

Advertisement
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis takes a selfie with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as his boards his plane for the UK at Delhi airport at the end of his two day trip to India, on April 22, 2022.
Alex Ellis, British high commissioner to India, takes a selfie with Boris Johnson as his boards his plane for the UK at Delhi airport at the end of his two day trip to India, on Friday. Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

He said Britain was looking to send tanks to “backfill” in Poland so Soviet-era T-72s – with which Ukrainian crews are familiar – can be released to the government in Kyiv.

But, speaking in the Indian capital, Delhi, while on a visit, Johnson said a long-term vision for Ukraine’s place in the future “security architecture” of Europe also needed to be developed.

While he said it would not be the same as the Nato Article 5 guarantee – in which an attack on one member state of the US-led military alliance is considered to be an attack on all members – he hoped it would offer “deterrence by denial”.

Johnson said:

What the Ukrainians want – and I think are now going to get – is a collection of guarantees from like-minded countries about what we can do to back them up with weaponry, with training and with intelligence-sharing.

Advertisement
Advertisement

It will, I hope, enable the Ukrainians to offer deterrence by denial and make sure their territory is so fortified as to be impregnable to further attack from Russia. That is what we need to do.

Johnson earlier took what could be seen as a pessimistic or a realistic stance when he said that, having made a “catastrophic blunder”, Russian president Vladimir Putin could get bogged down in a “grinding” offensive that lasts at least the rest of this year but ends in military defeat for Ukraine.

The US military expects more than 20 countries to attend Ukraine-focused defence talks it will host in Germany next week that will focus in part on Kyiv’s long-term defense needs, the Pentagon said on Friday, Reuters reports.

However, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby appeared to play down expectations of announcements about long-term assistance at the 26 April talks.

Advertisement

“We’re not going into this with a pre-cooked set of endings here,” he said.

He added that about 40 countries were invited to attend the talks, which were not being organized under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) alliance umbrella, and include non-Nato nation states.





Source link

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here