Russia-Ukraine crisis updates | April 24, 2022

Donetsk : Ukrainian military medics move an injured Ukrainian serviceman to a hospital in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Donetsk : Ukrainian military medics move an injured Ukrainian serviceman to a hospital in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, April 23, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky confirmed a news report that “several long conversations” took place on Friday with the head of Ukraine’s delegation at the peace talks between the two countries but gave no further details.

Russia said Friday it would fight to take control over all east and south of Ukraine, but Kyiv pledged to save the country, as the UN documented dozens of civilians killed in one town.

Authorities in two eastern Ukrainian regions said Saturday that fighting with Russian forces was "fierce", as hope fades for a truce over Orthodox Easter weekend.Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky confirmed a news report that “several long conversations” took place on Friday with the head of Ukraine’s delegation at the peace talks between the two countries but gave no further details.

Russia said Friday it would fight to take control over all east and south of Ukraine, but Kyiv pledged to save the country, as the UN documented dozens of civilians killed in one town.

A senior U.S. official has warned China against providing “material support” to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unprovoked” war in Ukraine, saying sanctions against Moscow would give Beijing some idea of the menu from which America could choose.

The U.S. is discouraging India from relying on Russia, its largest defence supplier, for its defence needs, citing the crippling impact the Western sanctions will have on Russian military-industrial complexes after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, top American officials have said.

Here are the latest updates

Zelenskyy offers trade for trapped civilians

About 1,000 civilians are trapped at a steel mill in Mariupol along with Ukrainian soldiers, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday.

“Behind the backs of our guys in Mariupol there are around a thousand civilians, including women and children,” he said after talks with European Council President Charles Michel.

Mr. Zelenskyy added that Russia has stonewalled Ukraine’s attempts to negotiate a safe exit for them. “We are open to different formats of exchange of our people for Russian people, Russian military that they have left behind," he said.

Ukraine also has tried to get Russia to agree on a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the 120,000 people who Mr. Zelenskyy said remain under siege in Mariupol. - AP

United Nations

UN calls for 'immediate stop' in Mariupol fighting to allow civilian evacuation

The United Nations Ukraine crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, on Sunday 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."

Kyiv

Ukraine urges Easter truce for Mariupol

Ukraine on Sunday called for a truce in battered Mariupol for Orthodox Easter, celebrated in both Russia and Ukraine, as fighting rages throughout the east and south of the country. 

Kyiv also said Moscow was “continuously attacking” the Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces remain holed up, and asked for special talks with Russia to free its trapped military.

“Russia is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians and military are located is shelled with heavy air bombs and artillery,” presidential advisor Mikhaylo Podolyak, said on Twitter. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week ordered his forces not to attack the plant, but to lay siege to it instead. 

But Podolyak claimed Russia is building up forces for an “assault.”

“The Russian Federation should think about the remnants of its reputation,” he said.  He called on Moscow to “announce a real Easter truce in Mariupol” and create an “immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians.”

Podolyak also asked Moscow to “agree to a ‘special round of negotiations’ so that we take/exchange our military”.  A day earlier Ukraine said Russian forces had “thwarted” an attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol.

Fighting raged in other parts of the country on Sunday, dashing any hope for an Easter ceasefire. The governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said two children were killed in an eastern village by Russian fire. 

“The lives of two children from the Ocheretyn community were taken away by the Russian occupiers this Easter morning,” he said on Telegram.  The children, both girls, were five and 14.  Kyrylenko urged locals to evacuate. 

The Ukrainian army earlier on Sunday said Russia’s offensive in the east and south of he country had “intensified” and alleged Moscow was also targeting civilian infrastructure. 

“The enemy continues to partially blockade Kharkiv,” Kyiv’s military said, referring to Ukraine’s second city near the Russian border. 

It said there were ongoing “battles” near the eastern cities of Rubizhne and Popasna. 

KYIV

Ukrainian steel plant bombed

Russian forces called in airstrikes on a besieged steel factory in the southern city of Mariupol to try to dislodge the last Ukrainian troops holding out in the strategic port, Ukrainian officials said Sunday, while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would meet in Kyiv with two top American officials. - PTI

ISTANBUL

Christian Orthodox spiritual leader says indescribable tragedy in Ukraine

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, called overnight for the opening of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine where he said "an indescribable human tragedy is unfolding".

Mr. Bartholomew, who has previously called for an end to war in Ukraine, said that he hoped this year's Easter would be "the impetus to open humanitarian corridors, safe passages to truly safe areas for the thousands of people surrounded in Mariupol." - Reuters

KHARKIV

In Kharkiv's metro, families carve out a life away from the bombs

When Russian troops steamrolled through her east Ukrainian village in February, Elena Ivanovna's family packed their car before dawn and fled to Kharkiv, where they unwittingly found themselves on the front line.

Ukraine's second city has been pummelled by strikes day and night since Russian forces attempted to seize it at the start of the invasion.

The bitter fighting has rendered the city of 1.5 million a tangle of blown-out shops and smouldering apartment blocks, and forced families like Ivanovna's underground where they are sheltering in the metro. - AFP

KYIV

Ukraine’s presidential office says steel plant under siege

Russian forces in Ukraine tried to storm a steel plant housing soldiers and civilians in the southern city of Mariupol on Saturday in an attempt to crush the last pocket of resistance in a place of deep symbolic and strategic value to Moscow, Ukrainian officials said. - AP

KYIV

Ukraine seeks heavy weapons from U.S. at Kyiv talks on April 24: Zelensky

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine hoped to secure heavy weapons at talks with the U.S. secretaries of state and defence in Kyiv on Sunday, supplies that he said were vital for Ukraine to eventually retake Russian-occupied territory.

The Ukrainian leader warned that Kyiv would quit talks with Moscow if Russia destroyed “our people” surrounded in the war-torn city of Mariupol or staged referendums to create more breakaway republics on newly-occupied Ukrainian soil.

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KYIV

Ukraine battered again; Zelenskyy says U.S. officials to visit

Russian forces in Ukraine tried to storm a steel plant housing soldiers and civilians in the southern city of Mariupol on Saturday in an attempt to crush the last pocket of resistance in a place of deep symbolic and strategic value to Moscow, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, announced he would meet Sunday in his nation's capital with the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the U.S. secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin. The White House declined to comment. - AP

ZAPORIZHZHIA

Ukraine aims to evacuate civilians from Mariupol as Russia presses campaign

Ukraine said it would make a fresh attempt on Saturday to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, the devastated port city largely controlled by Russian forces, as hopes for a weekend truce during Orthodox Easter faded. - AFP

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MUMBAI

India wants to be friends with West but needs Russian help to defend borders, says Sitharaman

India wants to be strong friends with the “liberal world” but it needs Russia’s assistance to defend its borders, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told  Bloomberg in an interview in Washington.

India procures most of its military hardware from Russia and in recent weeks has rejected appeals from Western nations to limit bilateral relations with Moscow in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced criticism from Western allies with regard to its refusal to outright condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin over the devastating conflict in Ukraine. - Reuters

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