Russia-Ukraine latest updates: Mariupol ‘completely cleared’

Russia-Ukraine latest updates: Entire urban area of Mariupol cleared of Ukrainian forces and only a few fighters remain on its outskirts, Russia says.

Ukraine blast
Smoke is seen rising over Darnytskyi district of Kyiv following explosions [Metin Semiz/Anadolu news agency]
  • Explosions reported in Kyiv and Lviv with air sirens going off across most of Ukraine.
  • The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the Kyiv region, police official says.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeals to US President Joe Biden to designate Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”, Washington Post reports.
  • Ukraine’s defence ministry accuses Russia of using long-range bombers in Mariupol, where fighting is raging around a steel plant and the port.
  • Russian shelling kills seven people in the eastern city of Kharkiv, governor says.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 52

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Mariupol ‘entirely’ taken, Russia says urging remnants’ surrender

Strategic port city has been ​​’completely cleared’ with a small group of holdout fighters on the outskirts told to ‘lay down their arms’, the Russian defence ministry says.

Russia’s claim to have all but taken control of Mariupol – the scene of the war’s heaviest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe – could not be independently verified. It would be the first major city to have fallen to Russian forces since the February 24 invasion.

“The entire urban area of ​​Mariupol has been completely cleared and remnants of the Ukrainian [armed] group are currently completely blockaded… Their only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender,” said Igor Konashenkov, the ministry’s chief spokesman.

Read more here

Russian oligarch’s super yacht arrives in Turkish waters

A yacht linked to a Russian tycoon arrived in a bay near the southwestern Turkish resort of Gocek as more Russian billionaires head for Turkey to flee Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Oleg Deripaska, founder of Russian aluminium giant Rusal, has been sanctioned by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union.

Read more here

Situation in Mariupol ‘extremely severe’, says Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says the situation in besieged Mariupol remains extremely severe and officials in Kyiv are in touch with city’s defenders every day.

Zelenskiy, speaking in an online address, accused Russia of trying to wipe out the city’s inhabitants but did not address Moscow’s claim earlier in the day that its troops had cleared the entire urban area of Mariupol of Ukrainian forces.

If Mariupol falls it would be Russia’s biggest prize of the war so far. It is the main port of the Donbas, a region of two provinces in the southeast that Moscow demands be fully ceded to separatists.

Zelensky repeats warning over Russian nuclear weapons

The world should prepare for the possible use by Russia of nuclear weapons, Ukraine’s president said, repeating an earlier warning.

“We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian news media. “We must prepare for that.”

Zelenskyy earlier warned the world should be worried about the threat Russian President Vladimir Putin posed, echoing comments by CIA director William Burns.

Burns said on Thursday that Russia’s battlefield setbacks raised the risk that Putin could deploy a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine could withdraw from peace talks over Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has threatened to withdraw from the ongoing peace negotiations with Russia if Ukrainian fighters trapped in the port city of Mariupol are killed by Russian forces besieging the city.

“What they are doing right now … could put a stop to any form of negotiation,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with a Ukrainian news website.

“There are troops there who absolutely hate them, and I don’t think they will let them live,” the Ukrainian leader said, referring to the fact that many of the fighters trapped in the city are part of the nationalist-dominated Azov Batallion.

The remaining Ukrainian fighters are holed up in a steelworks factory outside the city.

UK PM Johnson pledges to send Ukraine armoured vehicles in ‘coming days’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the delivery of armed vehicles “in the coming days,” according to Downing Street.

Johnson assured Zelenskyy that Britain would “continue to provide the means for Ukraine to defend itself,” according to a statement issued by his office.

The two leaders also discussed the need for a long-term security solution for Ukraine during their phone call, the statement said.

Johnson also assured Zelenskyy he would continue working with Britain’s partners and allies to “ensure Ukraine could defend its sovereignty in the weeks and months to come.”

Mariupol ‘completely cleared’ of Ukrainian forces: Russia

The entire urban area of Mariupol has been cleared of Ukrainian forces and only a few fighters remain on its outskirts, Russia’s defence ministry says.

As of Saturday, Ukrainian forces in the port city lost more than 4,000 fighters, RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying. No immediate reaction was available from Kyiv to the statement.


Head of Russian navy meets crew of sunken missile cruiser: Tass

The head of the Russian navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, has met with crew members from the sunken missile cruiser Moskva and said they would continue to serve in the navy, Tass news agency said.

Russia said on Thursday the Moskva had sunk after an ammunition explosion. Ukraine said it hit the vessel, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, with a missile.

‘Precision long-range weapons’ used in Ukraine attacks

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says an armoured vehicle plant was among the infrastructure targeted. He did not specify where the plant is located, but there is one in Kyiv’s Darnytskyi district.

Konashenkov says the plant was among multiple Ukrainian military sites hit with “air-launched high-precision long-range weapons”.

As the US and European nations send new arms to Ukraine, the strategy could be aimed at hobbling Ukraine’s defences ahead of what is expected to be a full-scale Russian assault in the east.

Russians strike 8 Ukrainian cities

Ukraine’s presidential office reports missile strikes and shelling over the past 24 hours occurred in eight regions: Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv in the east, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava and Kirovohrad in the central Ukraine and Mykolaiv and Kherson in the south.

The strikes underlined the whole country remained under threat despite Russia’s pivot toward mounting a new offensive in the east.

The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is still holding out, but the situation there is critical.

‘Our soldiers are blocked’ in Mariupol, says Ukraine president

Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells the Ukrainska Pravda news portal the “situation is very difficult” in the besieged city of Mariupol.

“Our soldiers are blocked, the wounded are blocked. There is a humanitarian crisis… Nevertheless, the guys are defending themselves.”

Ukraine fighters had held out at a metal works facility in underground tunnels and bunkers. But the factory was reduced to a ruin of twisted steel and blasted concrete, with no sign of defenders present. Several bodies of civilians lay scattered on nearby streets, including a woman in a pink parka and white shoes, Reuters news agency reported.

Russia claimed to have captured the strategic port city on Friday. If Mariupol falls it would be Russia’s biggest prize of the war so far.

One killed, 18 wounded in missile strike on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region: Governor

One person was killed and 18 wounded when a Russian missile hit one of the central districts of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, the regional governor said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

Switzerland wants sanctions on Russian, Belarussian sports officials

Switzerland wants the exclusion of Russian and Belarussian officials from top posts in international sports federations, according to a letter from the Swiss Minister of Sport and Defence Viola Amherd to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In view of the war in Ukraine, it is no longer sufficient to exclude athletes from the two countries from international competitions, the letter says.

Several sports associations, including the IOC, football governing body FIFA, European football ruling body UEFA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), have their headquarters in Switzerland.

Kyiv mayor says one killed, several wounded in missile strikes

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv’s mayor, says one person was killed and several wounded in missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital.

Klitschko added medics were fighting for the lives of those who had been wounded.

“Kyiv was and remains a target of the aggressor,” he said.

At least two die in Russian attacks across Ukraine: Officials

Local officials say at least two civilians have been killed and four others wounded in Russian attacks across Ukraine.

One person was killed and three wounded in shelling in the eastern region of Luhansk, Governor Serhiy Gaidai said in an online post. A gas pipeline was damaged in Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk, which was without gas and water, Gaidai said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

“Evacuate, while it is still possible,” Gaidai said in a subsequent post, adding that buses were ready for those willing to be evacuated from the region.

One person died and one was injured in an overnight attack on a small village near Poltava, the capital of the central Poltava region, Governor Dmytro Lunin said on Telegram.

Moscow bars entry to Russia for UK PM Johnson

Russia’s foreign ministry says it has barred entry to the country for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and 10 other British government members and politicians.

The move was “in view of the unprecedented hostile action by the British Government, in particular the imposition of sanctions against senior Russian officials”, the ministry said in a statement, adding that it would expand the list soon.


UK says deliberate destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure hampering aid

UK’s defence ministry says deliberate destruction of Ukrainian road infrastructure by retreating Russian forces is hampering the provision of humanitarian aid to formerly occupied areas.

“Russian troops have exacerbated this by destroying bridges, employing land mines and abandoning vehicles along key routes as they withdrew from northern Ukraine,” the ministry said in a tweet.

Only one pedestrian bridge across the Desna River is left standing in Chernihiv, which had some 285,000 residents before the war began.

Russia raids armoured vehicle plant, military repair facility: Interfax

Russia has destroyed production buildings of an armoured vehicle plant in Kyiv and a military repair facility in the city of Mykolaiv, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying.

The raids were carried out by high-precision long-range weapons, it said.

Russia also downed one Ukrainian SU-25 aircraft near the city of Izyum in Kharkiv Oblast of eastern Ukraine, Interfax added, citing Russia’s defence ministry.

German minister: Delivering tanks would not be entry into war

The delivery of heavier weaponry to Ukraine such as tanks, would not constitute an entry into the war against Russia, Germany’s justice minister says.

“So if [Ukraine] exercises its legitimate right of self-defence, supporting it by supplying weapons cannot lead to becoming a party to the war,” Marco Buschmann said in remarks seen by the DPA news agency.

He said this was not only his personal view, but that of the German government.

German politics has been consumed since the start of the conflict at the end of February by the question of what kind of weaponry to give Ukraine, and how fast to deliver it.

Nine evacuation corridors agreed: Deputy PM

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Saturday to evacuate civilians, including from the besieged city of Mariupol by private cars.

Vereshchuk said in a statement that five of the nine evacuation corridors were from Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the east of the country, which local officials have said is under heavy shelling.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 52 April 15 6GMT

Europe’s ban on Russian coal imports leaves Germany at crossroads

The war in Ukraine is having some unexpected consequences.

Germany had been phasing out mining, but has now reversed that decision after the European Union banned imports of Russian coal.


‘Weapons, weapons, weapons’: Poroshenko steps up calls for assistance

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has told Al Jazeera that Ukraine needs more weapons if the war is to come to an end.

“The shortest way to peace is to supply more weapons to Ukraine,” Poroshenko said in an exclusive interview. “That’s why from the international community we need three things: weapons, weapons and more weapons.”

Read more here.

Explosions in Kyiv, Lviv; air raid sirens sound across Ukraine

Explosions have been reported in Kyiv and Lviv, where it’s the early hours of Saturday morning.

Air raid sirens have also been sounded across most of Ukraine, according to the Reuters news agency.

There has been no official confirmation of the explosions.

Emotional tribute to Ukraine ahead of US-Ukraine tennis match

With a stirring rendition of Ukraine’s national anthem, tears, flags, and Billie Jean King herself, the opening of the Billie Jean King Cup qualifier between the United States and Ukraine was hugely emotional.

Ukraine-born North Carolina resident Yuliia Kashirets gave a powerful rendition of her native land’s national anthem as the Ukraine team looked on, including Odesa-born world number 93 Dayana Yastremska, who draped herself in a Ukrainian flag as a tear rolled down her teammate Katarina Zavatska’s cheek.

The ceremony also included a moment of silence for the “people of Ukraine”. The winner of the qualifier will advance to the tournament finals in November.

Billie Jean King greets the Ukrainian team during the opening ceremonies before the first round of the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier
Tennis great Billie Jean King greets the Ukrainian team during the opening ceremonies before the first round of the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup Qualifier at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in North Carolina, US [Eakin Howard/Getty Images via AFP]
The Ukrainian team listens to Yuliia Kashirets sing the Ukrainian national anthem during the opening ceremonies for the Billie Jean Cup qualifier
The Ukrainian team and Billie Jean King listen to Yuliia Kashirets sing the Ukrainian national anthem during an emotional opening ceremony [Eakin Howard/Getty Images via AFP]

Zelenskyy says 2,500-3,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed in war

The Ukrainian president has told CNN that between 2,500 and 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers are estimated to have died in the war so far.

Zelenskyy said about 10,000 have been wounded and it is “hard to say how many will survive”.

He said Russia was thought to have lost between 19,000 and 20,000 soldiers, although the Kremlin has put the figure at 1,351.

UK’s SAS special forces providing training in Ukraine: Report

The United Kingdom’s Times newspaper is reporting that the SAS, the country’s special forces, have been providing training to two local battalions stationed near Kyiv.

It is the first time they have done so since the Russian invasion began seven weeks ago, the paper said, citing Ukrainian officers.

The Ukrainians are getting instruction on how to use UK-supplied anti-tank missiles that were delivered in February, it added.

Ukraine PM, senior officials to visit US next week

Reuters is reporting Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and some of the country’s top finance officials will visit the US next week during meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Shmyhal, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko are expected to hold bilateral meetings with finance officials from G7 countries and others and take part in a roundtable on Ukraine to be hosted by the World Bank on Thursday, sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.

Ukraine ‘doing everything we can’ for Mariupol: Zelenskyy

The Ukrainian president has said he discussed the fate of the besieged port city of Mariupol in a meeting on Friday with the country’s military leaders and the heads of its intelligence agencies.

“The details cannot be made public now, but we are doing everything we can to save our people,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation.

Mariupol has been reduced to rubble in the seven-week war. Defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk earlier said the situation in the city was “difficult and hard”.

Mini map showing Mariupol's location within Ukraine

More than 7,000 Ukrainians have landed in Mexico since war began

US President Biden said last month that the US would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but few have arrived via the refugee programme.

Thousands have managed to cross the border from Mexico. Al Jazeera’s Manuel Rapalo reports from the Mexican border city of Tijuana:

Death toll in Kharkiv rises: Ukrainian media

The Kyiv Independent has said that the recent death toll in Kharkiv has risen to 10. Earlier reports said seven people had been killed by Russian shelling, including a baby.

In a tweet, the local news outlet said Russian forces had used rocket launchers in the attack.

Zelenskyy renews call for a ban on Russian oil

In his daily address, Zelenskyy again has called for a ban on Russian oil.

“The next package of sanctions against Russia must include a Russian oil ban,” he said.

“In general, the democratic world must accept that Russia’s money for energy resources is in fact money for the destruction of democracy. When these decisions are made, we will all be able to see peace coming.”

Germany to release 1 billion euros in military aid

The German government has said it plans to release more than 1 billion euros ($1.08bn) in military aid for Ukraine, amid complaints by Kyiv it is not receiving heavy weapons from Berlin. The funds will feature in a supplementary budget for this year.

In total, taking into account all countries, Germany has decided to increase its international aid in the defence sector “to 2 billion euros” with “the largest part being planned in the form of military aid in favour of Ukraine”, a government spokeswoman told the AFP news agency.

This envelope of 2 billion euros ($2.16bn) “will go mainly to Ukraine”, Finance Minister Christian Lindner confirmed on Twitter.

Russian journalists, political scientist declared ‘foreign agents’

Russian authorities have declared prominent Kremlin critics including documentary filmmaker Yuri Dud and political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann as “foreign agents”.

The Russian justice ministry said in a statement that it had added nine individuals to its “foreign agents” list, including 35-year-old Dud, Schulmann, 43, and caricaturist Sergei Yelkin, 59.

Also now on the list are prominent journalists Roman Dobrokhotov, 38, and Karen Shainyan, 40.

Toronto mural dedicated to Ukrainian children

An artist in the Canadian city of Toronto has turned his frustration over the conflict in Ukraine into a mural that he hopes will raise awareness about the plight of civilians.

The mural, which spans several sides of a building in the city’s downtown area, features depictions of children.

“I chose to use kids as my main subject … because they represent purity. Kids have no hate or greed in them,” Mayhar Amiri said.

Russia ‘tying itself into knots’ over warship’s sinking: Expert

Russia faces a dilemma over how to spin the sinking of the Moskva missile cruiser, Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, has said.

“Because on the one hand it’s claiming that the sinking of the Moskva had nothing to do with Ukraine,” Giles told Al Jazeera. “But at the same time they seized on this as an excuse to wreak revenge on Kyiv and they are linking this to the attack on the capital now.

“So Russian propaganda is tying itself in knots but at the same time whipping up even more hysteria.”

Pro-Russia Serbs protest in support of Russia

Thousands of Serbs waving Russian and Serbian flags and carrying pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin have marched through Belgrade to the Russian embassy to protest the Serbian government’s attempt to distance itself from Moscow.

Throngs of people, many from ultranationalist organisations, joined the march from the city centre to the nearby Russian embassy, where they fired signal flares, played Russian and Serbian anthems, and hailed the two countries as brotherly nations.

“I came to this rally to support Russia and to say a loud and clear ‘no’ to policies of authorities in Belgrade who made a shameful decision to vote against Russia in the UN,” said Mladen Obradovic, a protester.

Wife of Putin ally held in Ukraine accuses authorities of abuse

The wife of one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top allies in Ukraine has said he was beaten by the Ukrainian security service while being interrogated in detention.

At a news conference in Moscow, Viktor Medvedchuk’s wife Oksana Marchenko said that one of two photos released by Ukraine this week showed he had been beaten.

Ukraine said this week that it had captured Medvedchuk, posting a photo of him in handcuffs, wearing a Ukrainian army uniform.

Russian crowd mourns Black Sea flagship after sinking

Dozens of people have gathered in the Crimean city of Sevastopol to mourn the sinking of the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva.

Some embraced and others laid flowers in memory of the missile cruiser at a monument to the 1696 foundation of the Russian navy in the centre of Sevastopol.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday that the Moskva was badly damaged by a fire and sank in a storm as it was being towed to port.

Russia warship 'Moskva' moored in the bay of the Crimean city of Sevastopol, 30 March, 2014.
Russia’s flagship missile cruiser ‘Moskva’ moored in the bay of Sevastopol in 2014 [File: EPA]

Russia warns US to stop arming Ukraine: Washington Post

Russia has warned the Biden administration of “unpredictable consequences” if the US keeps arming Ukraine, The Washington Post has reported.

In Moscow, a foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed Russia had sent diplomatic notes to the US and other nations about supplying weapons to Ukraine but did not say what the messages contained, the Interfax news agency reported.

“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 as saying in the diplomatic note to the US.

More than 900 civilian bodies found in Kyiv region: Police

The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the Kyiv region following the withdrawal of Russian forces, the regional police chief said.

Andriy Nebytov, the head of Kyiv’s regional police force, said the bodies had been abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. He cited police data indicating that 95 percent of the casualties had died from sniper fire and gunshot wounds.

“Consequently, we understand that under the [Russian] occupation, people were simply executed in the streets,” Nebytov said. “The number of killed civilians has surpassed 900 — and I emphasise, these are civilians, whose bodies we have discovered and handed over for forensic examination.”

US believes Russian cruiser hit by Ukrainian missiles before sinking

The US believes the sunken Russian missile cruiser Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, was hit by two Ukrainian missiles, a senior US official has said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said these were Neptune anti-ship missiles.

Pentagon officials had previously said they could not confirm the Ukrainian claim that it hit the ship, but they also did not contest it.

Zelenskyy asked US to designate Russia a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

Zelenskyy has appealed to the US president to designate Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”, The Washington Post reports, citing people familiar with their conversation.

Biden did not commit to specific actions during that call, according to the newspaper.

The US list currently includes four countries: North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read the updates from Friday, April 15 here

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies