Russia-Ukraine updates: Putin honours troops accused of abuses

Ukraine news from April 18: Putin praises ‘mass heroism’ of brigade accused of carrying out mass killings in Bucha.

Valentyna Nechyporenko, 77, mourns at the grave of her 47-year-old son Ruslan, during his funeral at the cemetery in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine.
Valentyna Nechyporenko, 77, mourns at the grave of her 47-year-old son Ruslan, during his funeral at the cemetery in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, April 18, 2022 [Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo]
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has honoured a brigade accused by Ukraine of committing atrocities in Bucha.
  • Ukraine urges Moscow to agree to Mariupol humanitarian corridors as its forces in the city continue to hold out after rejecting a Russian deadline to surrender.
  • Lviv’s mayor says seven people have been killed by Russian missile attacks on the city.
  • President Vladimir Putin claims Western countries have hurt themselves by imposing sweeping sanctions against Russia over its offensive.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 54

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These were the updates on April 18:

Signs visible of new Russian offensive in eastern region: Ukraine MP

The actions Russian forces are currently taking in the eastern region are signs of a “wide and massive attack”, Kira Rudik, a Ukrainian politician and leader of the Holos Party, told Al Jazeera from Kyiv.

“The positive point is the Ukrainian army has been preparing for this for 54 days. And we have received supplies and weapons. Of course the negative point is that there are many pieces of weapons in transit, and that no matter what we are getting from our allies, we would definitely need more,” Rudik added.


Mayor says 100,000 people in Mariupol still trapped: AJ correspondent

The mayor of Mariupol claims at least 100,000 civilians were still trapped in the besieged city, Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reported from Dnipro.

“The deputy prime minister of Ukraine said that humanitarian corridors for a second day had been cancelled because of what she describes as being Russian shelling,” Stratford said.

“Also interestingly, according to the mayor of Mariupol … at least 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have been forcibly deported to the Russian side of control.”

Service members of pro-Russian troops drive tanks during Ukraine-Russia conflict near the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine.
Service members of pro-Russian troops drive tanks during the Ukraine-Russia conflict near the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russian attacks kill eight civilians in eastern region: authorities

Air raids have killed at least eight civilians in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, local authorities said.

“Several people tried to flee and the orcs [Russian forces] shot the car. Four people died instantly,” a local governor said, adding that another person was injured.

German bosses, unions jointly oppose boycott of Russian gas

Unions and employers in Germany are opposing an immediate European Union ban on natural gas imports from Russia, saying such a move would lead to factory shutdowns and the loss of jobs.

“A rapid gas embargo would lead to loss of production, shutdowns, a further de-industrialization and the long-term loss of work positions in Germany,” chairman of the BDA employer’s group Rainer Dulger, and Reiner Hoffmann, chairman of the DGB trade union confederation, said in a joint statement on Germany’s dpa news agency.

Four dead in shelling in Ukraine’s Donetsk region: Governor

Russian shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has killed four people, regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on his Telegram channel.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the governor’s claims.

At least 1,000 civilians hiding under Ukrainian steel plant in Mariupol: City council

No fewer than 1,000 civilians are hiding in underground shelters beneath the vast Azovstal steel plant in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the city council has said.

“Mostly the [civilians] are women with children and old people,” the city council wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Mariupol still contested: US official

The port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine was still contested as Russia appeared to have sent reinforcements into Ukraine in recent days, a senior US defence official has said.

“Our assessment is Mariupol is still contested … (it) remains under threat from the air but both from missile strikes as well as bombs from the air but even of course artillery,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters, according to Reuters news agency.

Russian military units are seen patrolling Mariupol
A view of a street which was damaged during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Large weapons depot near Lviv destroyed: Russian official

Russia’s army claims it has destroyed a large depot of foreign weapons recently delivered to Ukraine near the western city of Lviv.

Russian planes in the morning struck a Ukrainian logistics centre holding “large batches of foreign weaponry, delivered to Ukraine over the past six days by the United States and European countries”, and “destroyed” them, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Russia has started new offensive in east: Ukraine official

Russia appears to have started its anticipated new offensive in the east of Ukraine, Ukraine’s top security official has said.

“This morning, along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defences,” security council secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in televised comments.

“They began their attempt to start the active phase this morning,” he said.

Smoke raises from an oil refinery in Lysychansk about 120km north of Donetsk
Smoke rises from an oil refinery in Lysychansk about 120km north of Donetsk, on April 16, 2022 [Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP]

UN proposes plan for Russia, Ukraine to discuss humanitarian issues

The United Nations’ humanitarian affairs chief has said he proposed to Russian and Ukrainian officials, during his visit to Kyiv and Moscow, an arrangement by which the two sides could meet “on a virtual or actual basis at any time to discuss humanitarian issues”.

“Maybe ceasefire monitoring, maybe safe passages … maybe humanitarian priorities,” Martin Griffiths told reporters during a press briefing.

Griffiths said Ukraine had “agreed to most of the proposals we are making” while adding that “we have yet to get the same response” from Russia.

Ukraine says it sees signs Russia is starting new eastern offensive

Ukraine’s armed forces command has observed signs that Russia is starting an anticipated new offensive in the east of the country, increasing the intensity of attacks in parts of the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, it said.

In a post on Facebook, the armed forces command also said that Russia’s main military force was concentrating on taking control of the entirety of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Ukrainian servicemen run for cover as explosions are heard during a Russian attack in downtown Kharkiv
Ukrainian servicemen run for cover as explosions are heard during a Russian attack in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 17, 2022 [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

US set to start training Ukrainians on artillery system: Defence official

The United States military is expected to start training Ukrainian trainers on using the howitzer artillery system in coming days, a senior US defence official said on Monday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the training would take place outside Ukraine, Reuters news agency reported.

Read more here.

Putin promotes brigade accused by Kyiv of carrying out ‘war crimes’ in Bucha

Putin has promoted a brigade of Russian troops who stand accused by Kyiv of having carried out atrocities in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

A decree signed by the Russian leader gave the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade the title of “Guards” for defending the “Motherland and state interests” and praised the “mass heroism and valour, tenacity and courage” of its members.

In early April, the Ukrainian defence ministry said the unit had occupied Bucha and had committed “war crimes” there before later withdrawing from the area as Moscow switched its focus to Ukraine’s east.

The ministry’s Intelligence Directorate published the names, ranks and passport details of members of the brigade, saying they will face justice for their alleged actions.

Ukraine urges Moscow to agree to Mariupol humanitarian corridors

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has called on Russia to allow civilians to safely leave Mariupol via a humanitarian corridor as Moscow’s troops press for full control of the city.

Iryna Vereshchuk said in a post on Facebook that Kyiv was also seeking another evacuation route from the encircled Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainian fighters remain holed up as they bid to prevent Moscow taking complete command of the area.

She warned a refusal by Moscow to agree to the humanitarian corridors would “in the future be a basis for bringing all involved to prosecution for war crimes”.

Putin says Western countries have hurt themselves with sanctions

Putin has said that Western countries have hurt themselves by imposing sanctions on Russia over its offensive, claiming the measures had led to a “deterioration of the economy in the West”.

Speaking to top economic officials in a televised video call, the Russian president said that domestic inflation was stabilising and that retail demand in the country had normalised.

He added the “strategy of the economic blitz has failed” after Russia “withstood the unprecedented pressure” brought about by the sanctions. Putin said Russia’s currency, the rouble, had strengthened and that the country recorded a historic high trade surplus of $58bn in the first quarter of the year.

Two killed by shelling in Kharkiv, local officials say

Two people have been killed by shelling in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv, the local prosecutor’s office says.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the claim.

Kharkiv map

‘Unity and strength’: Why Finland and Sweden will join NATO

Russia’s invasion has changed the political discourse in Sweden and Finland about becoming members of the transatlantic military alliance, analysts say.

Read more here.


Russian troops still not in full control of Mariupol, Ukraine says

Ukraine’s defence ministry says Russian forces have not yet taken full control of Mariupol, but warns the situation in the besieged, southeastern port city is now “extremely difficult” for Ukrainian forces there.

Speaking at a media briefing, ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk also said that bombing runs by Russian military aircraft had increased of late by more than 50 percent and that Ukraine’s infrastructure had come in for increased targeting.

The update came after Ukrainian forces inside Mariupol’s encircled Azovstal steel plant on Sunday ignored a Russian ultimatum to lay down their weapons. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the soldiers would “fight to the end” to defend the city.

Putin discusses Russia-Ukraine talks with Palestinian leader Abbas

Russian President Vladimir Putin has held talks by phone with his Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas about negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, the Kremlin says.

The pair also discussed issues about “the Middle East settlement in the context of escalating tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem”, according to the Kremlin.

Russia expels some staff from Bulgarian embassy in Moscow

Russia’s foreign ministry says it has declared some employees of the Bulgarian embassy in Moscow “persona non grata” in retaliation for Sofia’s decision to expel 10 Russian diplomats in March.

The move was announced in a brief statement that did not say how many Bulgarians were being told to leave.

Kremlin says there is still time for foreign buyers to meet gas-for-roubles demand

The Kremlin says there is still time for so-called “unfriendly” countries to switch to payments for gas in roubles, as demanded by Putin.

At the end of March, Putin signed a decree that said foreign buyers must pay for gas in the Russian currency or else have their supplies cut, a move European capitals rejected and which Germany said amounted to “blackmail”.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to disclose how many countries have agreed to the Kremlin’s ultimatum to date. He added that payments for deliveries that took place after Putin’s decree are expected in May.

Lives derailed: Fleeing Ukraine war destroyed my father’s health

For one family from Kyiv, Russia’s invasion threatened the life and health of their elderly father. So they left to get him to safety.

Read more here.

Lviv mayor says seven people killed by Russian missile attacks

Lviv’s mayor says Russian missile attacks on the city have killed at least seven people in a revision of an earlier death toll provided by local officials.

Andriy Sadovyi said 12 others were wounded in the attacks, which officials had earlier said killed six people.

A hotel sheltering Ukrainians who had fled fighting in the country’s east was among the buildings badly damaged by the attacks, he said.

“The nightmare of war has caught up with us even in Lviv,” Lyudmila Turchak, 47, who fled with two children from Kharkiv, told The Associated Press news agency.

Smoke is seen in Lviv after Russian missile strikes in the city
Lviv had largely escaped Russian attacks until now [Roman Baluk/Reuters]

Two captured Britons appear on Russian state TV, ask to be swapped

Two British fighters captured in Ukraine by Russian forces have appeared on Russian state television and asked to be exchanged for a pro-Russian politician who is being held by Ukrainian authorities.

It was unclear how freely the two men – Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin – were able to talk. Both spoke after being prompted by an unidentified man.

They asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help bring them home in exchange for Ukraine releasing pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk.

Prior to Russia launching its invasion, Al Jazeera spoke to the two about their involvement in Ukraine. Read more here.

In video released by Ukraine, Medvedchuk suggests prisoner swap

Ukraine’s security service has released a video showing Medvedchuk asking to be exchanged for Ukrainian troops and civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol.

It was unclear how freely Medvedchuk was speaking in the video, in which he addressed Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Kremlin accuses Ukraine of inconsistency in talks

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of constantly shifting its position on issues previously agreed upon at talks between the two sides.

“Unfortunately the Ukrainian side is not consistent in terms of the points that have been agreed,” Peskov said.

“It is often changing its position and the trend of the negotiating process leaves much to be desired,” he added, noting that “contacts continue at an expert level.”

Moscow mayor says 200,000 jobs at risk as foreign firms leave

About 200,000 people risk losing their jobs in Moscow because foreign companies have suspended operations or decided to leave the Russian market, according to the Russian capital’s mayor.

Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal blog that the city’s authorities are ready to support people who lose their jobs by providing training and temporary work.

Sweeping western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion have hammered the country’s economy, which has also faced an exodus of major foreign firms amid widespread outrage over Moscow’s offensive.

Lviv attack shattered windows of hotel housing displaced Ukrainians: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Lviv, cited local officials as saying that one of the Russian missile attacks in the city hit a “car service facility” on its outskirts.

She added that Lviv’s mayor had said one of the blasts was “so strong that it shattered the windows of a hotel nearby where a number of displaced Ukrainians from other parts of the country were staying.”

Luhansk governor says four civilians shot dead while fleeing Russian attack

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, says four civilians have been shot dead while trying to flee by car from the town of Kreminna during a Russian attack.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify Haidai’s claim.

A Russian soldier is seen standing guard in Luhansk
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russian soldiers of committing war crimes amid Moscow’s offensive [Alexander Nemenov/AFP]

The weapons being sent to Ukraine and why they may not be enough

As Russia’s anticipated offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region looms, Kyiv’s need for heavy weapons systems is acute.

At the top of the list are fighter jets, something the European Union and the United States have been reluctant to provide.

Read more here.

Kyiv halts evacuations for a second consecutive day over security concerns

Ukraine says it is halting the evacuation of civilians from conflict-affected areas for a second consecutive day due to concerns over Russian attacks.

“For security reasons, it was decided not to open humanitarian corridors today,” Vereshchuk, the country’s deputy prime minister, said in a post on Facebook.

“In violation of international humanitarian law, Russian occupiers do not stop blocking and shelling of humanitarian routes,” she added.

Two injured from missiles strikes in Dnipropetrovsk region: Official

Two people have been injured and railway infrastructure was destroyed as a result of a missile attack in Ukraine’s central-eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, according to a local official.

“Two victims in the Sinelnikovsky district. A rocket hit an infrastructure facility there. Rescuers curbed the fire. No people were caught in the Pavlogradsky district. But the railway infrastructure was destroyed,” Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the regional military administration, said on Telegram.

Spain to reopen Kyiv embassy in coming days

Spain will reopen its embassy in Kyiv in the coming days, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said in an interview with the Antena3 TV network.

The Spanish embassy in Ukraine’s capital was evacuated when Russian troops invaded the country.

This comes after several other European countries, including France, recently announced similar moves.

Russia says it launched mass attacks on Ukrainian military targets overnight

The Russian defence ministry said in a statement that air-launched missiles had destroyed 16 Ukrainian military facilities, including five command posts, a fuel depot and three ammunition warehouses, as well as Ukrainian armour and forces.

It said those attacks took place in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, and that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where it said Ukrainian forces and armour were concentrated.

In other areas, the defence ministry claimed its forces had destroyed 12 Ukrainian strike drones and tanks and used Iskander missiles to level four arms and equipment depots in the Luhansk, Vinnytsia and Donetsk regions.

It added that Russian artillery had also struck 315 Ukrainian military targets overnight and that air defence systems had been used to bring down three Ukrainian army helicopters, two MiG-29 fighters and one SU-25 plane.

There was no immediate reaction to the claims from Kyiv.

Governor says six killed in missile strikes on Lviv

Six people have been killed and eight others wounded in missile strikes on Lviv, Governor Maksym Kozystkiy has said.

Three missiles hit military infrastructure facilities while one struck a car tire replacement facility.

Mini map showing Lviv's location within Ukraine

Russia’s attacks on Mariupol similar to its approach in Chechnya, Syria: UK

The United Kingdom’s defence ministry says Russia’s targeting of civilian areas in Ukraine’s Mariupol aligns with its approach to Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016.

“This is despite the 24 February 2022 claims of Russia’s defence ministry that Russia would neither strike cities nor threaten the Ukrainian population,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

The ministry also praised Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and elsewhere, saying it has “severely tested Russian forces”.

Explosions reported in Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk regions

Authorities in Ukraine have reported multiple explosions in the western and southern regions of Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk. There were no immediate information about casualties and damage.

Andrey Sadovoy, the mayor of Lviv, said in a Twitter post that there had been “five targeted missile strikes on the city”.

Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of Dnipropetrovsk, reported attacks early on Monday morning but said most of the missiles had been shot down by Ukrainian air defence systems.

Smoke rises from buildings in Lviv reportedly after a Russian attack.
Lviv, in Ukraine’s west, had largely escaped Russian attacks until now [Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency]

Italy’s Draghi says ‘it’s useless’ to talk to Putin

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has complained in a newspaper interview that Western diplomatic efforts to persuade Putin to halt the war in Ukraine have so far led nowhere.

“I am beginning to think that those people are right when they say ‘It is useless to talk to him, it’s just a waste of time’,” Draghi told the daily Corriere della Sera, adding Putin’s goal appears to be “to annihilate the Ukrainian resistance, occupy the country and entrust it to a friendly government”.

Russian forces planning a false-flag attack on Kherson: Official

A Ukrainian official says Russian forces are planning a false-flag attack on Kherson to lay the groundwork for a referendum for independence in the port city.

“Kherson residents report that Russian invaders are preparing a provocation in the city. This should be the reason to ‘save’ the city by holding a ‘referendum’ there,” Serhiy Bratchuk, the speaker of the Odesa regional military administration, wrote on his Telegram channel.

Kherson, a largely Russian speaking city, has been occupied by Russian forces for more than two weeks and Ukrainian officials warn Russia may stage an independence referendum in the port city, similar to the one held in the annexed Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

10 year-old Roma holds a cage with two parrots inside a bus leaving from the city of Bashtanka , Mikolaiv district, after he and his family fled from Kherson which is occupied by Russian forces.
A 10-year-old boy holds a cage with two parrots on a bus leaving Bashtanka, Mykolaiv district. His family fled from Kherson, which is occupied by Russian forces. April 7 [Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

Crimean authorities intend to set up ‘retraining camps’ for Ukrainian teachers: Report

The Center for Countering Disinformation says authorities in the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula intend to set up “retraining camps” for teachers from Kherson, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, according to the Ukrinform news agency.

The centre said the camps were aimed at shifting teachers “toward Russian education standards”, Ukrinform reported.

“They want to force them to learn Russian because, according to the occupiers’ logic, children from Ukraine don’t speak their language well enough,” the centre was quoted as saying.

Russia accused of forcibly removing 150 children from Mariupol

The Crimean Human Rights Group says the Russian military has forcibly removed some 150 children from Mariupol, including 100 sick and wounded children who were in hospital, adding that they were moved “in the direction of” occupied Donetsk and the Russian city of Taganrog.

Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, said the children were taken out of the hospitals without their parents and that these “abducted children” were not orphans.

The human rights ombudsman in Ukraine has said that more than 120,000 children have been forcibly deported to Russia from Ukraine.

Ukraine completes questionnaire for EU membership: Official

Ukraine says it has completed the questionnaire that is the starting point for the European Union to decide on membership for Kyiv. The questionnaire was handed to Zelenskyy by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Kyiv on April 8.

An aide to Zelenskyy told the country’s public broadcaster that they expect the European Commission to issue a positive recommendation on Ukraine’s compliance with the necessary criteria.

Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office added that Ukraine expects to acquire the status of a candidate country for EU accession in June during a scheduled meeting of the EC.

Sumy region receives $8.5m for restoration

Dmitry Zhivitsky, the governor of Sumy, says the region has received 250 million hryvnia ($8.5m) from the Ukrainian government to restore destroyed infrastructure.

Russian troops began retreating from the Sumy region, bordering Russia, in early April, and authorities there reclaimed full Ukrainian control over the northeastern region on April 8.

Russian troops carrying out torture in southern Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says Russian troops in southern regions of the country have been torturing and kidnapping people.

“Torture chambers are built there,” Zelenskyy said in an evening address to the nation. “They abduct representatives of local governments and anyone deemed visible to local communities.”

He also said the Russians are creating separatist states and introducing Russian currency, the rouble, in occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Two dead, four wounded in Donetsk

Two people have died and four more were injured following Russian shelling in the Donetsk region on Sunday, according to the governor of the Donetsk region.

“It is impossible to determine the exact number of victims near Mariupol and Volnovas,” Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

The body of a woman killed a Russian bombardment lies on a sidewalk in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 17, 2022.
The body of a woman killed in a Russian bombardment lies on a pavement in downtown Kharkiv, April 17 [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

Russian TV shows second British man captured in Mariupol

A former British soldier who fought with the Ukrainian army has appeared on Russian television in a video where he identifies himself as: “Shaun Pinner. I am a citizen of the UK. I was captured in Mariupol. I am part of the 36 Brigade First Battalion Ukrainian Marines.”

His appearance comes days after Russian media showed another captured British fighter, Aiden Aslin. Pinner, 48, is believed to have moved to Ukraine four years ago and lived with his wife in Donbas.

In January he told the Daily Mail he was fighting to defend his family and “adopted city”. He also said he feared for his life as “the Russians will treat us differently if we are captured because we are British”.

Belgium, Estonia and Bulgaria ban Russian ships

Belgium, Estonia and Bulgaria have implemented an EU ban on Russian ships entering their ports, starting from Sunday.

This comes after Italy also barred Russian ships from entering its ports on Sunday as part of extended EU sanctions.

‘Hot phase’ should be over in two to three weeks: Ukraine official

Fyodor Venislavsky, a member of Ukraine’s Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, says the “hot phase” of the war in Ukraine will end in two to three weeks.

The conflict should be completely over in two to three months, he said on television.

Venislavsky said his assessment was based on a number of factors, including that Ukrainian armed forces “demonstrated how they can push the enemy back,” and that “Western partners have not only changed their assessments that Ukraine urgently needs more new models of weapons, they are already being delivered”.

Mariupol fighters continue to hold out

Shmyhal says the remaining Ukrainian forces in the port city of Mariupol were still fighting and continued to defy the Russian demand that they surrender.

“The city still has not fallen,” Ukraine’s prime minister told ABC’s This Week programme.

Read the full story here.

UN says 4.8 million refugees have left Ukraine

The UN refugee agency says 4,869,019 Ukrainians have left the country since Russia invaded on February 24 – up 32,574 on Saturday’s total.

“As Christians celebrate resurrection on this sombre Easter Sunday, we must stubbornly hope that in the days, months and years to come the methods and language of war will not prevail over those – more difficult, more complicated – that lead to peace,” said UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.

The International Organization for Migration says an additional 215,000 third-country nationals have also escaped to neighbouring countries since the war began.

People who fled the war in Ukraine rest
People who fled the war in Ukraine rest in a sports hall being used as a refugee centre, in Medyka, a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine [File: Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

Russian shelling of Kharkiv ‘deliberate terror’: Zelenskyy

At least 18 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in Russian shelling in the past four days in the northeast Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to Zelenskyy, who said in his nightly address that Russia has been shelling Kharkiv constantly.

“This is nothing but deliberate terror: mortars, artillery against ordinary residential quarters, against ordinary civilians,” he said.

Local officials say five people were killed and 20 were wounded on Sunday when a missile and artillery fire hit the city centre and the Saltivka suburb. Al Jazeera was unable to confirm the figures.

rubble in Kharkiv
Firefighters work to extinguish multiple fires after a Russian attack in Kharkiv [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

Zelenskyy, IMF managing director discuss ‘post-war reconstruction’

Zelenskyy says he spoke with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva about his country’s situation on Sunday.

“Discussed with IMF Managing Director Georgieva the issue of ensuring Ukraine’s financial stability & preparations for post-war reconstruction. We have clear plans for now, as well as a vision of prospects. I’m sure cooperation between the IMF & Ukraine will continue to be fruitful,” he wrote in a tweet.

Georgieva later confirmed the call in a post on Twitter.

She wrote support is “essential to lay the foundations for rebuilding a modern competitive #Ukraine”.

Zelenskyy promises tough resistance in east

Ukraine’s president has said Kyiv is not willing to give up territory in the eastern part of the country to end the war with Russia and is preparing to offer tough resistance in the face of an expected large-scale offensive there.

Read the full story here.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. Read all the updates from April 17 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies