Here are the key events so far on Thursday, April 21.
Get the latest updates here.
- Russian forces are advancing from staging areas in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region towards Kramatorsk, which continues to be hit by rocket attacks, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.
- The warplanes are providing close air support to the offensive, and trying to suppress and destroy Ukrainian air defences, it said.
- Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine, said Russian troops will have complete control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Thursday.
- Ukraine is ready for a “special round of negotiations” with no conditions “to save our guys … military, civilians, children, the living and the wounded”, Ukrainian negotiator and presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
- President Vladimir Putin hailed the “liberation” of Mariupol after being told by his defence minister that Russian forces now control all of the Ukrainian port city, apart from the vast Azovstal steel plant where Ukrainian fighters are holding out.
- The United States confirms it has begun training Ukrainian forces on howitzer artillery systems, part of an $800m weapons package to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s eastern offensive.
- Russia is “most likely” to intensify attacks in Ukraine before their May 9 Victory Day celebrations, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry says in its latest intelligence briefing.
- Russia says it conducted a first test launch of its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, an addition to its nuclear arsenal which Putin said would make Russia’s enemies “think twice”.
- Russian forces in the Kherson region are prohibiting residents in the village of Zolotaya Balka from trying to evacuate and intending to use them as human shields, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has said. The claim could not be independently verified.
- A 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova, has died in Mariupol while pleading for water in a freezing basement.
- Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says four buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol left the destroyed city on Wednesday and the evacuations of women, children and the elderly will continue on Thursday.
- More than five million people have now fled Ukraine following the Russian invasion, the United Nations says.
- But one million Ukrainians have since returned to the country, according to a spokesman for Ukraine’s border forces.
- Ukraine is reportedly working to convince Germany and other Western allies to shift Russia’s shipments of natural gas from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Ukraine’s pipeline.
- G7 finance ministers said they have provided and pledged together with the international community additional support to Ukraine exceeding $24bn for 2022 and beyond, adding they were prepared to do more.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping has reiterated China’s opposition to unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction”. In a video address to the annual Boao Forum for Asia gathering on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, Xi proposed a “global security initiative” which would, among other things, “reject Cold War mentality, oppose unilateralism, and say no to group politics and bloc confrontation”.
- US President Joe Biden will deliver an update on Ukraine as he works to complete a new arms package for its military.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked to meet the presidents of Russia and Ukraine in their respective capitals, a UN spokesman said.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is under pressure for refusing to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. “We believe that the Bundeswehr [Germany army] would be capable of supplying us with the weapons we need right now,” Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, told broadcaster ZDF. “We do not know why this is not happening.”
- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen were the latest European leaders to travel to Kyiv to show support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies