Timeline: Week eight of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Al Jazeera recaps key events during week eight of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A cat walks next to a tank of pro-Russian troops in front of damaged apartment building in Mariupol, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

April 13

Russian forces storm the Ilyich steel plant in Mariupol, one of two locations where Ukrainian defenders are making a last stand.

The mayor of the city of Kharkiv in the east says Russian shelling has intensified.

The US announces an $800m tranche of military equipment deliveries to Ukraine, bringing Washington’s total delivery of military aid so far to $2.5bn.

US President Joe Biden calls US military assistance “critical in sustaining [Ukraine’s] fight against the Russian invasion”.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov says NATO vehicles transporting aid to Ukraine will be considered legitimate targets.

Biden’s pledge of more weapons comes a day after he called the Russian invasion a “genocide”.

“I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting,” Biden told reporters in Iowa.

Biden renews, for one year, a state of emergency concerning “specified harmful foreign activities” by Russia in the US and allied countries. The president refers specifically to Russian efforts to undermine free elections, target journalists, engage in political corruption, and launch cyberattacks.

French forensic experts arrive in the Ukrainian town of Bucha to investigate alleged war crimes by Russian forces. Hundreds of civilian bodies have been found in the town since the Russian withdrawal.

The presidents of Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania visit Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Kyiv in a show of support, and they also visit the town of Borodyanka where Russian troops are said to have committed war crimes against civilians.

Finland and Sweden reach important milestones in their process of deciding whether to join NATO.

Finland issues a security report on the matter to its lawmakers while Sweden initiates a review of security policy options.

April 14

Ukraine says it has sunk the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s flagship ship, Moskva, after hitting it with two Neptune missiles.

Russia acknowledges that the Moskva has sunk while being towed to port after an accidental fire on board, but does not acknowledge an attack by Ukraine.

An earlier announcement says the ship’s crew were evacuated, but it remains unclear what has become of the roughly 500 service personnel who were on board the Moskva.

Vadym Denysenko, adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, denies the Russian claim of a day earlier that his country’s marines had surrendered Mariupol in its entirety.

“The battle over the seaport is still ongoing today,” he tells Current Time TV.

Putin’s ally Dmitry Medvedev says that if Sweden and Finland decide to join NATO, Russia will redeploy nuclear missiles to its enclave in Kaliningrad.

“There can be no more talk of a nuclear-free status for the Baltic. The balance must be restored,” says Medvedev, who served as Russian president from 2008-12, and now sits as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva says the war in Ukraine has made energy and food inflation around the world “much worse” and “threatens to further increase inequality”.

She warns that the IMF will cut its global growth forecast for 143 countries.

“For the first time in many years, inflation has become a clear and present danger for many countries around the world. This is a massive setback for the global recovery,” she says.

Georgieva also says sanctions against Russia were leading to a potential breakup of the global economy.

“These double crises – pandemic and war – and our ability to deal with them, are further complicated by another growing risk: fragmentation of the world economy into geopolitical blocs – with different trade and technology standards, payment systems, and reserve currencies. Such a tectonic shift would incur painful adjustment costs.”

The IMF director says this is “perhaps the most serious challenge to the rules-based framework that has governed international and economic relations for more than 75 years”.

April 15

Russian missiles hit a facility on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Russia says the target is in retaliation for the sinking of the Moskva a day earlier.

“The number and scale of missile strikes on targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or acts of sabotage on Russian territory committed by the Kyiv nationalist regime,” the Russian defence ministry says in a statement.

Russia formally announces it has captured the Ilyich steel plant in Mariupol.

Zelenskyy says his military has had successes but the task they face is enormous.

“The successes of our military on the battlefield are really significant, historically significant. But they are still not enough to clean our land of the occupiers,” Zelenskyy says in a late-night address.

The European Central Bank’s Survey of Professional Forecasters doubles its inflation estimate for 2022 to 6 percent, and halves its Q2 growth estimate to 0.5 percent, on account of the war in Ukraine.

April 16

Russia says it has shot down a military transport plane carrying Western-supplied armaments to Ukraine in the Odesa region. Moscow also claims that its armed forces have “destroyed 67 areas of concentration of personnel” and much Ukrainian military equipment.

The ministry claims that Russian forces now control the port of Mariupol.

“The remnants of the Ukrainian group are currently completely blocked on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant,” the defence ministry says.

The ministry insists that 1,464 Ukrainian soldiers have so far surrendered, and estimates that no more than 2,500 remain in the Azovstal steelworks.

The Ukrainian Resistance Centre, which coordinates activities inside Russian-occupied territory, says its artillery has destroyed 10 railway cars transporting Russian ordnance in Tomak, in southwestern Ukraine.

An assessment of the day’s events by the Institute for the Study of War states that Russia continues to build up its forces around the eastern city of Izium, but that attacks in the area “have not made significant gains so far”.

The ISW believes that poor leadership has not allowed the Russian army to take advantage of its numerical superiority.

April 17

Russia says it has shot down two Ukrainian MiG-29 aircraft and struck two dozen targets including ammunition dumps.

Fighting takes place in Mariupol’s Primorsky district, belying Russia’s claim to have contained resistance to only the Azovstal steel plant.

Russian Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bombers pound targets in the city.

April 18

Russia forces launch a new, large-scale offensive in east Ukraine to take full control of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

Russian units fighting on a 500km front from Kharkiv to Mariupol focus their firepower on the towns of Popasna, Marinka, and Rubizhne.

A Ukrainian security council official says Ukrainian forces are holding out, and that the Russians have overrun only Kreminna and another small town.

Russian missiles hit three military facilities in the western city of Lviv, killing seven people. Lviv is a conduit for US and EU military aid to Ukraine, which is transported through Poland.

Zelenskyy formally submits a completed questionnaire to the European Union, fulfilling the first step on the road to EU membership for Ukraine.

April 19

The Russian defence ministry declares a ceasefire and establishment of a humanitarian corridor to the Azovstal steel plant to allow for the surrender of Ukrainian defenders.

Russia says it is providing three convoys, each consisting of 30 cars and buses and 10 ambulances.

Mariupol municipal adviser Petro Andryushenko says Russian forces did not mark out the corridor, and that the offer was likely a trap.

Kyiv says Ukrainian fighters in the port city continue to resist.

There are reports of Russia using bunker-busting missiles, heavy bombs, and chemical and biological gas to ferret out defenders from tunnels said to run under the Azovstal facility.

A US defence official says seven aeroplane loads of military equipment destined for Ukrainian forces will be sent to Europe in the next 24 hours.

Source: Al Jazeera