Ukraine proposes talks with Russia near besieged Mariupol plant
Ukraine has invited Russia to talks near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holding out in a city largely under Moscow’s control, Kyiv has announced.
“We invited Russians to hold a special round of talks on the spot right next to the walls of Azovstal,” Volodymyr Zelensky aid Oleksiy Arestovych stated.
Brussels: Some EU countries would face major energy crisis if imports from Russia banned
Several European countries would face a major energy crisis should imports of Russian energy sources be completely banned, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said.
“We are working on the sixth package of sanctions [against Russia] at the moment. However, we must check the willingness of the member countries to uphold these measures before imposing any sanctions. The starting point is not an easy one, especially with regard to gas. A full gas embargo could result in a major energy crisis in a number of countries,” Jourova told Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung.
Jourova added that Europe must end its dependence on Russian energy sources and engage in halting oil and gas imports “as soon as possible.”
“It is deplorable that we have become so dependent on Russia in the past,” the vice-president said, adding that “more could have been done” on the matter of pressuring Russia.
Ukrainian PM: Russia committing “terrible war crimes” in Mariupol
As the death toll mounts in Mariupol — the key port city in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has focused its efforts since failing to capture the capital of Kyiv — Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal accused the invading forces of committing “terrible war crimes” in the city.
In an exclusive interview on “Face the Nation,” Shmyhal said “small children and babies” have died of dehydration in Mariupoltwo months ago.
More than 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city with little access to water, food or heat. About 430,000 people lived in the city before the war.
“So there are terrible atrocities, terrible war crimes on the Mariupol territory,” Shmyhal stated at the end of his trip last week to Washington, where he met with President Biden and top lawmakers.
Ukrainian officials estimate that more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to invade Ukraine in February. After failing to capture the capital city of Kyiv, Russian forces have shifted their focus to Mariupol and other strategic towns and cities in the east and south of the country.
Shmyhal noted Mariupol is like a “symbol of brave Ukrainian soldiers and civilians” who have tried to protect the city amid heavy Russian bombardment. But the only part of the city that remains under Ukrainian control is awhere an estimated 1,000 civilians are sheltering with some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters.
“We will protect our cities. And Mariupol will stay till the end,” Shmyhal continued, adding that Ukrainian soldiers would fight as long as it takes.
“Ukraine understand and all of our people understand that our future is in the civilized world, in the United Europe, but not in the former Soviet Union or Russian empire,” he stressed.
Russian forces fail to advance in Kharkiv Oblast
According to the latest update from Ukrainian forces, Russian troops intensified their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast in an attempt to advance, but were forced to retreat to occupied territories, The Kyiv Independent reported.
Russia says village in Belgorod region shelled by Ukraine
Russia has announced a village in its Belgorod region bordering Ukraine was shelled from across the frontier, state news agency TASS has quoted a local official as saying.
Vladimir Pertsev, the official, stated there were no casualties or damage after one projectile landed in a field.
Almost 5.2 million Ukrainians flee war: UN
The number of Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia’s invasion two months ago is approaching 5.2 million, the UN refugee agency has said.
The total figure of 5,186,744 is an increase of 23,058 over Saturday’s data, the UNHCR announced.
More than 1,151,000 Ukrainians have left during April so far, compared with 3.4 million in the month of March alone.
Ukraine angered by Austria’s ‘short-sighted’ stance on EU bid
Kiev is “disappointed” by the “short-sighted” statements of Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg who suggested that full EU membership might not be the best option for Ukraine.
On Saturday, Schallenberg, while admitting that deepening ties with Ukraine is necessary as the EU is exporting the “Western way of life,” said that models other than full EU membership should be considered for Ukraine. He mentioned joining the European Economic Area or an association agreement as among the options.
Reacting to these comments, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko released a strong-worded statement on Sunday.
“We are disappointed by the remarks of the Austrian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs about the European future of Ukraine. We consider them to be strategically short-sighted and not in the interests of a united Europe,” Nikolenko stated, adding that Schallenberg ignores the positive view of “the vast majority” of the populations of the EU’s founding members toward Ukrainian membership.
Referring to statements by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, Nikolenko noted that the Ukrainians have already paid “too high a price” for the mistakes of European countries.
“Their biased perceptions of reality have already weakened Europe politically and economically, enabled Russia to undermine EU stability and embody hybrid aggression against European countries,” the ministry’s spokesman argued.
Nikolenko concluded his statement by emphasizing that as Ukraine has become “an outpost for the protection of EU security,” it has every reason to “demand objective recognition of its merits and strategic role for the EU.”
During a recent visit to Kiev, European Council President Charles Michel said that normally it takes about eight months for the European Commission to publish an opinion on a membership bid, but in Ukraine’s case it should be ready by the end of June. Michel added that he feels “a very strong support” toward Ukraine’s EU membership drive.
Joining the EU has long been among the key objectives for pro-Western Ukrainian politicians, yet almost no progress had been achieved. Since Russia launched its attack in February, President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly urging Brussels to take Ukraine in.
Early in April, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered Ukraine a special questionnaire, which is the first step in a country formally becoming a candidate for EU membership. Kiev submitted the first part of the document less than a week after receiving it.
White House official says to expect more announcements on US assistance to Ukraine
White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer stated Sunday to expect more announcements on US assistance to Ukraine “in the week ahead,” highlighting the billions of dollars in security aid the US has delivered so far.
“We’ve been announcing deliverables, which is a fancy word for things that we are providing to the Ukrainians, to enable their fight just about every day and if not every day, every week, and we will have more to say about that in the week ahead,” Finer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” stressing that US assistance has had a “significant” impact.
When asked if the US was ready to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, Finer noted that the administration continues to look into “additional steps” when it comes to punishing the Kremlin for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
“I think we’ve been clear that we’re looking at that as we’re looking at a whole range of other additional steps that we could take to hold Russia accountable for the crimes that it’s perpetrating on the ground in Ukraine,” Finer added.
Ukraine blames Russia after Mariupol humanitarian corridor fails
No humanitarian routes have been established out of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said, blaming Russian forces for not holding their fire.
Vereshchuk noted that the Ukrainian side would try again on Monday to establish safe passage out of Mariupol. She called for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to demand a ceasefire and open up humanitarian corridors from Mariupol.
“This is what Guterres should talk about in Moscow, if he is preparing to talk about peace,” Vereshchuk added.
UK urges France and Germany to do more for Ukraine
The UK has said “it would be good to see more from France and Germany” to support the Ukraine war effort, warning that a Russian victory has “always been a possibility”.
Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC that the West should “continue to tighten the ratchet on Russia” as Moscow ramps up its offensives in the south and east of Ukraine.
“The West has to respond in turn and we are willing to do so,” he continued, adding, “There is a desire for us all to do it but it would be good to see more from France and Germany as well.”
Luhansk region governor says Russian shelling kills civilians on Easter Sunday
An unspecified multiple number of civilians were killed by Russian shelling in Luhansk region on Sunday, local governor Serhiy Gaidai has claimed.
International Committee for Red Cross says they urgently need “humanitarian access” to Mariupol
The International Committee of the Red Cross announced that “immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access” to the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is “urgently needed.”
In a press release Sunday, the ICRC said it is “deeply alarmed by the situation in Mariupol, where the population is in dire need of assistance.”
Russian forces continued to attack the city on Sunday, Ukrainian Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar claimed in an Easter message. Troops of Azov — originally formed as a nationalist volunteer battalion but subsequently folded into the Ukrainian military — continue to hold out in the besieged Azovstal plant, along with other Ukrainian forces as Ukrainian officials estimate that 100,000 civilians require evacuation from the devastated city.
“Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access is urgently required to allow for the voluntary safe passage of thousands of civilians and hundreds of wounded out of the city, including from the Azovstal plant area,” the ICRC continued.
The ICRC have made several attempts to evacuate civilians from the city with one of its teams detained overnight by police in early April during one attempt to reach the city. After the team were released, an ICRC spokesperson said the incident showed “how volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been for our team.”
“Each day, each hour that passes has a terrible human cost,” the ICRC stressed on Sunday, noting that it “stands ready” to help the parties to the conflict to agree upon voluntary evacuation arrangements.
Its teams “are in place to facilitate safe passage operations as soon as such agreement is reached and security guarantees are provided,” the ICRC concluded.
Russia rejects ‘fake’ media claims of Iranian arms transfer
Moscow’s Embassy in Tehran has dismissed as “fake” media claims of Iran’s transfer of arms to Russia, which is involved in a military operation in neighboring Ukraine.
“The information published by some media outlets on the dispatch of Iranian arms to Russia is fake and is inconsistent with the reality,” the diplomatic mission said in a statement on Sunday.
Erdogan tells Zelensky Turkey ready to assist in negotiations
Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during the negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan told President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency has said.
Erdogan stated the evacuation of the wounded and civilians in Ukraine’s Mariupol must be ensured, adding that Turkey viewed the guarantor issue positively in principle. Ukraine has sought security guarantees from various countries during talks.
Melitopol mayor: Putin wants to “kill all of Ukrainian nation”
Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov, who was detained by Russian forces for five days in March, said his city is in a “very difficult and dangerous situation.”
Russian forces occupied Melitopol, in southeastern Ukraine, within days of the invasion beginning, but the city has seen sporadic protests since. A new mayor was installed in the city, which is under Russian military control, after Fedorov was kidnapped. Fedorov was later released as part of a prisoner exchange.
He told CNN New Day’s Boris Sanchez that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal was to “kill all of Ukrainian nation,” starting by occupying its cities.
The mayor added, “We can’t deliver humanitarian aid. We can’t deliver pharmacy. We can’t deliver for emergency services … That’s why it’s a very dangerous situation.”
Fedorov stated that Ukraine urgently needs support to win the war.
“We need support, but what’s important we need it today, not tomorrow. We need it today,” Fedorov continued.
UN calls for ‘immediate stop’ in Mariupol fighting to allow civilian evacuation
The United Nations Ukraine crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, has called for an “immediate stop” to fighting in Mariupol to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians in the battered city “today”.
“The lives of tens of thousands, including women, children and older people, are at stake in Mariupol,” Awad said in a statement.
“We need a pause in fighting right now to save lives. The longer we wait the more lives will be at risk. They must be allowed to safely evacuate now, today. Tomorrow could be too late,” Awad added.
The call was echoed by humanitarian organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has facilitated the safe passage of civilians.
Russian envoy to US says mission’s work ‘blockaded’
The working of the Russian embassy in Washington is “blockaded”, with its bank accounts closed and staff receiving threats, state news agency RIA cited ambassador Anatoly Antonov as saying.
“The embassy is in essence blockaded by US government entities. Accounts of our two consulates in Houston and New York have been closed by Bank of America,” Antonov continued.
“We receive threats both by phone and letters come… At some point even the exit from the embassy was blocked,” he added.
Zelensky speaks of hope on Easter Sunday
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken of hope and victory for his nation during an Easter Sunday address.
Speaking from the ancient St. Sophia cathedral, Zelensky said that “the great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!”
“The Lord and the holy heavenly light are on our side,” he continued, adding, “We are going through very difficult ordeals. Let us reach a just end on this path — the beginning of a happy life and prosperity of Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy stated that “on Easter, we ask God for great grace to make our dream come true – this is another great day — the day when great peace will come to Ukraine.”
Russia says it struck arms depots in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region
Russia’s defence ministry announced on Sunday its high-precision missiles struck nine Ukrainian military targets overnight, including four arms depots in the Kharkiv region where artillery weapons were stored.
The ministry also added its missile and artillery forces destroyed a further four such arms depots in the same region and hit a facility in Dnipropetrovsk region producing explosives for the Ukrainian army.
Russian Aerospace Forces eliminated up to 150 nationalists and up to 40 units of the Ukrainian forces’ armoured equipment, hitting one command post and 25 enemy concentration areas, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov stated.
Two children killed in shelling in Ukraine’s Donetsk region: Governor
Two children have been killed in shelling by Russian forces, the governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region stated, urging people to evacuate areas near the fighting.
Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram that the children, girls aged five and 14, had died in the Ocheretynsk community after the building where they lived was destroyed.
Ukraine negotiator claims Russia continuously shelling Mariupol
Senior Ukrainian negotiator and presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has said that Russian forces were continuously shelling Mariupol and urged Moscow to agree a “real Easter truce”.
“Russia is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians and military are located, is shelled with heavy air bombs and artillery,” Podolyak added.
He urged Russia to “think about the remnants of its reputation” and called for “a real Easter truce in Mariupol” alongside an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians and special round of talks to facilitate the exchange of military and civilians.”
Anti-Russia sanctions not conductive to peace: Argentine FM
Introducing sanctions against Russia will not lead to peace and Argentina will not follow this course of action, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero stated.
“What Argentina seeks and proposes is a return to dialogue, to pacify the situation, and we honestly do not believe that imposing sanctions or blockades will be productive for peace, dialogue and diplomatic negotiations,” Cafiero said in an interview with the Argentine Telam news agency.
The foreign minister pointed out that Argentina does not have a regulatory framework for generating unilateral sanctions and even has a law that prevents this.
Britain claims ‘poor Russian morale’ hindering advance in Donbas
Despite Russia making some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong across all axes and inflicted a significant cost on Russian forces, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.
“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganise forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness,” the update added.
Ukraine claims 213 children killed in Russian invasion
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed 213 children and injured another 389, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has claimed.
The toll does not take include causalities in areas where the conflict is active, the office wrote on Twitter.
Poland’s defence aid to Ukraine tops $1.6bn
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says his country has supplied Ukraine with more than $1.6bn worth of weapons since the Russian invasion began.
Ukrainians “are fighting for us, for Europe, for freedom, for peace in Europe. And let everyone be aware of that,” he told reporters.
Polish media reports say the package includes 40 tanks and around 60 armoured cars.
Ukraine says Russia deploys Iskander-M launchers near border
Russia has deployed Iskander-M mobile battlefield missile launchers within 60 kilometres (40 miles) of the Ukrainian border, according to Ukraine’s military.
“Then enemy has increased the number of troops in the Belgorod region by transferring and concentrating additional units,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced in its daily morning update.
“According to available information, Iskander-M launchers have been deployed 60 km from the border with Ukraine,” it added, without providing more detail on the location of the systems.
The Iskander, a mobile ballistic missile system codenamed SS-26 Stone by NATO, replaced the Soviet Scud missile. Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500 km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.
Moscow claims Kiev plotting Bucha-like false flag in Lisichansk
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the United Kingdom’s special services are plotting provocation in Lisichansk similar to that in Bucha, Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, claimed
The representatives of mass media outlets that took part in the staged footage in Bucha have arrived in the city.
“In Lisichansk, in the Lugansk People’s Republic, the SBU members jointly with the UK’s special services are preparing another fake video. To this aim, representatives of Ukrainian and Western mass media outlets have arrived in the city in advance, they had earlier made staged photo and videos in Bucha,” said Mizintsev, who also heads Russia’s Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine.
The military official noted that these fake reports by the Kiev authorities about the alleged “atrocities” of Russia are planned to be broadly spread in Western media soon.
He added that Kiev intentionally creates conditions for provocations by Ukraine’s security services on Easter in order to activate a new wave of Russophobia in Ukraine and abroad.
“The provocative actions are made amid the Kiev regime’s campaign in Ukrainian news outlets on accusing Russia of allegedly organizing ‘missile bombardments of religious facilities’,” the military official stated.
According to him, the provocations also aim to discredit Ukraine’s Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. He noted that “the bishops of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church received recommendations from the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky not to conduct traditional Easter festivities overnight on April 23-24, replacing them with online broadcasts of services in churches.”
“While such notices were intentionally not sent to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in order to organize the mass gatherings of believers in the churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate,” he continued.
According to Mizintsev, Ukrainian special services prepare provocation with use of chemical substances in Odessa port to pin the blame on Russia. Ukraine is likely to set off explosion at cold storage facility in Odessa port, on April 18 cistern with ammonia was delivered.
Ukrainian DM says international security organizations failed
The Ukrainian defense minister said multiple international security organizations that count Russia among their members have failed as the Russian invasion in Ukraine rages on.
“Among the casualties of Russia’s war on Ukraine has been the postwar system of global order and security. Russia has done everything that the international security institutions were created to prevent. How can the United Nations Security Council, on which Moscow has a permanent seat, live up to its mission to maintain peace?” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
“What kind of security and cooperation is possible on the Continent when one participating state of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe has attacked another and killed thousands of civilians? These organizations have failed,” he continued.
The Ukrainian official argued that the institutions needed to be replaced, arguing that they were only serving the interests of “the great powers” and not those of all countries.
Zelensky slams UN chief’s plan to visit Moscow before Kyiv
President Volodymyr Zelensky criticised a decision by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday, before heading to Kyiv.
“It is simply wrong to go first to Russia and then to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told reporters in the Ukraine capital.
“There is no justice and no logic in this order,” he added.
“The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies in the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go first to Ukraine, to see the people there, the consequences of the occupation,” he continued.
The Ukraine’s president said that he thought Russia could use a nuclear weapon, but that he did not want to believe that it would.
He stated that foreign countries would sponsor different Ukrainian regions as part of a post-war reconstruction plan.
Zelensky stressed that the likelihood of further peace talks with Russia in Turkey depended on Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, but that Kyiv wanted substantive talks to happen.
He noted that Ukraine’s army was not ready to try to break through Russia’s siege of Mariupol by force, but that Kyiv had every right to try and do so.
He announced that it was vital that he meet Putin for talks if Ukraine planned to resolve the war through diplomacy.
Zelensky said that leaders who plan to visit Ukraine “should not come here with empty hands.” He made the comments when asked about what he expects from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Kyiv on Sunday.
The president Noted he is hoping Asian countries will “change their attitude” towards Ukraine as European countries have done.
Zelensky stated that NATO not accepting Ukraine as a member was a “gross mistake” and that some of the alliance’s European member states had underestimated the country. He added, however, that Ukraine’s “unity” and “strength” in response to Russia’s invasion “managed to change the attitude of the alliance and the European member states” toward the country.
Ukraine claims Mariupol citizens forcibly deported to Far East region of Russia
Ukraine officials have claimed that Russia has forcibly deported Mariupol citizens to Primorsky Krai in Russia’s Far East region.
“Russia sent forcibly deported citizens of Ukraine from Mariupol to the Primorsky Krai – 8,000 kilometers from the homeland,” said Lyudmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, in a Telegram post.
According to Denisova, volunteers told her a train arrived in the city of Nakhodka on April 21 with 308 Ukrainians from Mariupol, including mothers with young children, people with disabilities and students.
Denisova also included photos showing the Ukrainian citizens’ arrival at the train station in her Telegram post.
Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, also claimed on April 21, “the Russians brought 308 deported Mariupol residents to Vladivostok.”
The Mariopul mayor’s official telegram post said 90 out of 308 deported residents were children.
“People were accommodated in schools and dormitories. Later it is planned to send them to different settlements of the Primorsky Krai,” the mayor’s Telegram post reads.
Photo and videos published on a Russian local news portal in Vladivostok, vl.com, also showed evacuees from Mariupol arriving by train.
Denisova also claimed Mariupol residents were sent by bus to temporary accommodation in the city of Wrangel and were expected to receive new documents that will allow them to work in Russia.
“The occupying country of Russia grossly violates the provisions of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which prohibits the forced relocation or deportation of persons from the occupied territories,” Denisova added in her Telegram post.
Ukraine asks IAEA for equipment to operate nuclear power plants
Ukraine has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency for “a comprehensive list of equipment” it needs to operate nuclear power plants during the war with Russia, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi stated.
This includes radiation measurement devices, protective material, computer-related assistance, power supply systems and diesel generators, he said in a statement.
“We will coordinate the implementation of the assistance that the IAEA and its member states will provide, including by delivering required equipment directly to Ukraine’s nuclear sites,” he added.
Ukraine has 15 operational reactors at four plants of which seven are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhia facility which is currently controlled by Russia.
UK: Russia plans to conscript Ukrainian civilians from occupied regions
Ukrainian intelligence has accused Russia of planning to conscript Ukrainian civilians from the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, according to UK military intelligence update.
“This would follow similar prior conscription practices in the Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea,” the statement read.
The statement said under Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, occupying powers cannot compel “protected persons” — which, in this context, includes civilians in occupied territories — to serve in its “armed or auxiliary forces.” Additionally, pressure or propaganda aiming to secure volunteers to enlist is not allowed.
“Any enlistment of Ukrainian civilians into the Russian armed forces, even if presented by Russia as being voluntary or military service in accordance with Russian law, would constitute a violation of Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the UK Ministry of Defense statement added.
Eight people killed in Russian strikes on Odesa
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russian missile strikes had killed eight people in the city of Odesa, including a three-month-old child.
He fought back tears at one point during the press conference in a Kyiv metro station, saying that he shared the pain of every Ukrainian who had lost children in Russia’s war.
A Ukraine official had earlier reported that five people were killed after Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at Odesa.