Russia-Ukraine crisis updates | April 17, 2022

Here are the latest developments from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict

Updated - April 19, 2022 07:47 am IST

Published - April 17, 2022 08:53 am IST

A car moves past residential houses damaged by a military strike Russia’s invasion in the village of Kukhari, in Kyiv region, Ukraine on April 16, 2022.

A car moves past residential houses damaged by a military strike Russia’s invasion in the village of Kukhari, in Kyiv region, Ukraine on April 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Russian forces accelerated scattered attacks on Kyiv, western Ukraine and beyond Saturday in an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite Moscow’s pivot toward mounting a new offensive in the east.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that peace talks with Moscow will be scrapped if the last Ukrainian troops in the besieged port city of Mariupol are killed.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several top U.K. Cabinet ministers and politicians are banned from Russia for their “unprecedented hostile actions” of imposing sanctions over the Ukraine conflict

The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.

Here are the latest updates:

Mariupol

Ukrainian Prime Minister says forces in Mariupol have not surrendered

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 said on Sunday.

"The city still has not fallen," Shmyhal told ABC's "This Week" program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continue to control some parts of the city.

Shmyhal said that he will attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington this week and will seek more financial assistance for Ukraine.

Kharkiv

Five killed in series of strikes by Russia in Kharkiv

A series of strikes on Sunday in Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv in the north east of the war-scarred country left at least five dead and 13 injured, a regional health official told AFP.

Maksym Khaustov, the head of the Kharkiv region's health department confirmed the deaths following a series of strikes that AFP journalists on the scene said had ignited fires throughout the city and tore roofs from buildings hit in the attacks.

Russia

Russia calls increased NATO military activity in the Arctic worrying, warns of “unintended incidents” 

Russia is worried about increased activity of NATO forces in the Arctic and sees risks of “unintended incidents” occurring in the region, TASS news agency cited Russian ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov as saying on Sunday.

In March, Finland and Sweden, which are both considering joining the U.S.-led military NATO alliance, conducted combined NATO military drills. The exercise was long planned, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 added intensity to the war game. Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation”.

“The recent increase in NATO’s activity in the Arctic is a cause for concern. Another large-scale military exercise of the alliance was recently held in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region,” Mr. Korchunov said.

According to Mr. Korchunov, such activity raises the risk of “unintended incidents”, which, in addition to security risks, can also cause serious damage to the Arctic ecosystem. He did not specify what type of incident he might be referring to.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined NATO then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a European exclave. - Reuters

Vatican City

Pope makes Easter plea for Ukraine peace, cites nuclear risk

On what is supposed to be Christianity's most joyful day, Pope Francis made an anguished Easter Sunday plea for peace in the “senseless” war in Ukraine and in other armed conflicts raging in the world, and cited the “troubling” risk of nuclear warfare.

“May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of this cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged,” Pope Francis said, speaking from the central balcony of St. Peter's Square.

The pontiff had just finished celebrating Easter Mass in the square packed by faithful for the holiday for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020. Applause erupted from many of the 50,000 people in the square and on a nearby avenue when he mentioned Ukraine.

Russian ultimatum

Russian ultimatum to Ukraine forces in Mariupol expires

A Russian ultimatum for the last remaining Ukrainian forces in Mariupol to surrender expires on Sunday, with Moscow poised for a major strategic victory in the southeastern port city

In Kyiv, renewed Russian air strikes hit an armaments factory, despite Moscow shifting its military focus to gaining control of the eastern Donbas region and forging a land corridor to already-annexed Crimea.

“During the night, high-precision, air-launched missiles destroyed an ammunitions factory near the settlement of Brovary, Kyiv region,” Russia’s defence ministry said, the third such air strike near the capital in as many days.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk urged Russian forces to allow evacuations from Mariupol, which Moscow’s forces claim to have brought under their control, though Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the city’s fortress-like steelworks.

Moscow on Saturday issued an ultimatum to the fighters, urging them to lay down their arms by 6:00 am Moscow time (0300 GMT) and to evacuate before 13:00 pm.

“Once again, we demand the opening of a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians, especially women and children, from Mariupol,” Vereshchuk wrote.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said that if Russian forces kill Kyiv’s troops remaining to defend the city, then a fledgling negotiation process to end nearly two months of fighting would be ended.

Ukraine

Kyiv pauses civilian evacuations from east Ukraine

Ukraine said on Sunday it was pausing the evacuation of civilians from the war-scarred east of the country for a day after failing to agree terms with Russian forces.

“As of this morning, April 17, we have not been able to agree with the occupiers on a ceasefire on the evacuation routes. That is why, unfortunately, we are not opening humanitarian corridors today,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote in a statement on social media, referring to Moscow’s forces.

Ukrainian authorities have urged people in the eastern Donbas area to move west to escape a large-scale Russian offensive to capture its composite regions, Donetsk and Lugansk.

Vereshchuk also urged Russian forces to allow for evacuations from the besieged and devastated port city of Mariupol, which Moscow’s forces claim to have brought under their control.

“Once again, we demand the opening of a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of civilians, especially women and children, from Mariupol,” she wrote.-AFP

Russia

Russia says ‘destroyed’ military factory outside Kyiv

 Russia’s defence ministry said Sunday it struck a military plant outside Kyiv, as Moscow intensifies its attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

“During the night, high-precision, air-launched missiles destroyed an ammunitions factory near the settlement of Brovary, Kyiv region,” the ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

The mayor of Brovary Igor Sapozhko said that “some infrastructure objects were hit” in the early hours of Sunday morning.-AFP

Bulgaria

Bulgaria bans Russian ships from ports

Bulgaria has banned Russian-flagged ships from entering its Black Sea ports as part of expanded EU sanctions, the country’s Maritime Administration announced on its website on Sunday.

“All vessels registered under Russian flag, as well as all vessels that have switched their Russian flag, or flag or maritime register registration to any other state whatsoever after Feb. 24, are forbidden access to Bulgarian maritime and river ports,” the authority said.

Exceptions will be made only for ships in distress or seeking humanitarian assistance, or ships transporting energy products, food and pharmaceuticals to EU countries.-AP

United Kingdom

UK says Russia committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation

 Russia is committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation and asserting its own regional dominance, even as Moscow’s operational focus has shifted to the east of its neighbouring country, British military intelligence said on Sunday.

Russian forces were continuing to redeploy combat and support equipment from Belarus towards eastern Ukraine, including to locations close to Kharkiv and Severodonetsk, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted.-Reuters

Ukraine

Explosions heard in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv - local media

Explosions were heard in the early hours on Sunday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, local media reported.

Overnight, air raid sirens were going off over nearly all of Ukraine.

There was no official explanation for the explosions and Reuters could not immediately verify the reports. -Reuters

Ukraine

‘Inhuman’ situation in Ukraine’s Mariupol as Russia claims almost full control

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in Mariupol is “inhuman” and called on the West to immediately provide heavy weapons, as Russia claimed it was in control of almost all of the strategic port city and urged its last defenders to surrender.

Moscow said Ukrainian forces in the city must lay down their arms by Sunday, after weeks of relative calm in the capital Kyiv were brought to an end by renewed Russian airstrikes.

Moscow officials now say they are in full control there, though Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the city’s fortress-like steelworks.

“The situation in Mariupol remains as severe as possible. Just inhuman,” President Zelensky said in a video address.

“Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there.”-AFP

Ukraine

Zelensky seeks to break Russian blockade

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he spoke on Saturday with the leaders of Britain and Sweden about how best to help those defending Mariupol and the tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside the besieged city.

Mariupol’s fate can be decided either through battle or diplomacy, he said.

“Either our partners give Ukraine all of the necessary heavy weapons, the planes, and without exaggeration immediately, so we can reduce the pressure of the occupiers on Mariupol and break the blockade,” he said in his nightly video address to the nation.

“Or we do so through negotiations, in which the role of our partners should be decisive.” Zelenskyy said the situation in Mariupol remains “inhuman” and that Russia “is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there.”-AP

Ukraine

Russia renews attacks on Kyiv, Zelensky issues talks ultimatum

Russia renewed air strikes on Kyiv on Saturday, as President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that peace talks with Moscow will be scrapped if the last Ukrainian troops in the besieged port city of Mariupol are killed.

The fresh bloodshed in Ukraine’s capital and the mounting pressure on Mariupol came as Austria’s chancellor, the first European leader to meet with Vladimir Putin in person since the invasion began, said he thought the Russian president “believes he is winning the war”.

“The elimination of our troops, of our men (in Mariupol) will put an end to any negotiations,” Zelensky told the Ukrainska Pravda news website.

“We don’t negotiate neither our territories nor our people.”-AFP

Russia

Russia tells Ukrainian troops in Mariupol to lay down arms from 0300 GMT

Russia told Ukrainian forces fighting in the besieged southern port of Mariupol to lay down their arms starting 6 a.m. Moscow time (0300 GMT) on Sunday to save their lives.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said its troops had cleared the urban area of Mariupol and only a small contingent of Ukrainian fighters remained inside a steelworks in the city on Saturday.

“Taking into account the catastrophic situation that has developed at the Azovstal metallurgical plant, as well as being guided by purely humane principles, the Russian Armed Forces offer the militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries from 06:00 (Moscow time) on April 17, 2022, to stop any hostilities and lay down their arms,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

“All who lay down their arms are guaranteed that their lives will be spared,” it said, adding that the defenders could leave the plant by 10 a.m. without arms or ammunition.-Reuters

Russia

Russia announces general’s death in battle

 A Russian general whose troops have been besieging the Ukrainian port of Mariupol was buried on Saturday in St. Petersburg after dying in battle, the governor said.

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Frolov was deputy commander of the 8th Army, which Russian media identified as being among the forces battering Mariupol for weeks.

Governor Alexander Beglov released a statement saying Frolov “died a heroic death in battle” without saying where or when he was killed.-AP

Ukraine

Ukraine's richest man vows to rebuild besieged Mariupol

Ukraine's richest man has pledged to help rebuild the besieged city of Mariupol, a place close to his heart where he owns two vast steelworks that he says will once again compete globally.

Rinat Akhmetov has seen his business empire shattered by eight years of fighting in Ukraine's east but remains defiant.

Russia

Russia bans U.K. PM Boris Johnson, top Indian-origin Ministers Sunak and Patel

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several top U.K. Cabinet ministers and politicians are banned from Russia for their “unprecedented hostile actions” of imposing sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, the Russian Foreign Minister said in a statement on Saturday.

Ukraine

Russia shatters Kyiv calm with fresh strikes

Russia stepped up air strikes on Kyiv on Saturday, hitting another military factory a day after Moscow warned it would renew attacks following two weeks of relative calm in the Ukrainian capital.

Smoke rose from the Darnyrsky district in the southeast of the capital after what Moscow said were “high-precision long-range” strikes on the armaments plant.

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