Russia-Ukraine latest updates: UN chief to meet Putin in Moscow

Ukraine news from April 22: UN Secretary-General Guterres will meet Russian President Putin on Tuesday to press for fighting to stop in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting by video link.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country's oil and gas industry with representatives of Russian energy companies and officials via a video link at a residence outside Moscow, Russia, April 14, 2022 [Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters]
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin next week to make an urgent, face-to-face plea for peace in Ukraine, the world body said.
  • Russia says it plans to seize Donbas and southern Ukraine to gain access to the Russia-backed Moldovan region, Transnistria; a Ukrainian official denounced the plan as “imperialism”.
  • The United Nations office for human rights sounds the alarm over growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, urging both Kyiv and Moscow to order combatants to respect international law.
  • Satellite images appear to show mass graves near Mariupol, where Ukrainian officials say Russia is burying bodies to hide war crimes.
  • Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says no humanitarian corridors will be open across Ukraine on Friday “due to the danger on the routes”.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Donbas DAY 58 (1)

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These were the updates on April 22:

Russia says one sailor died, 27 missing after missile cruiser sank

One sailor died and 27 more are missing after the Russian missile cruiser Moskva sank last week, while 396 other crew members were rescued, the state-owned RIA news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry.

Moscow says the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, sank last week after a fire sparked an ammunition blast. Ukraine says it hit the vessel with an anti-ship missile.

Russia court jails opposition politician Kara-Murza

Russian authorities have declared opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza a “foreign agent” and ordered his pre-trial detention for allegedly spreading false information about the Russian army amid its military campaign in Ukraine.

Moscow’s Basmanny district court ordered that the 40-year-old Kremlin opponent be held in jail until June 12, his lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said on Facebook.

Prokhorov said earlier in the day that Kara-Murza was facing criminal charges over spreading allegedly false information about Putin’s military campaign in Ukraine to members of the lower house of the Arizona Legislature in mid-March.

Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza
Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, vice chairman of Open Russia, testifies before a Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing on “Civil Society Perspectives on Russia” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2017 [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

Pentagon sees more than 20 nations attending Ukraine talks in Germany

The US military expects more than 20 countries to attend Ukraine-focused defence talks it will host in Germany next week that will focus in part on Kyiv’s long-term defence needs, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby appeared to play down expectations of announcements about long-term assistance at the April 26 talks, saying: “We’re not going into this with a pre-cooked set of endings here.”

He added that about 40 nations were invited to attend the talks, which were not being organised under the NATO alliance umbrella, and will include non-NATO nation states.

Moldova summons Russian ambassador over military statements

Moldova has summoned Moscow’s envoy after a senior Russian commander said his country sought “control over the south of Ukraine” that could provide access to Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.

“Moldova’s foreign ministry views these statements as unfounded and contradicting Russia’s position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognised borders,” the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier Friday, Rustam Minnekaev, the acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District, said that the Russian army would try to take full control over eastern and southern Ukraine.

In a separate statement, Moldova’s bureau for reintegration policies said Minnekayev’s statement was “unacceptable”.

Putin accuses Ukraine of ‘inconsistency’ in negotiations

Putin has accused Kyiv of being “inconsistent” in talks with Moscow over ending the war in Ukraine and played down the prospect of any immediate meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Putin told European Council President Charles Michel that Ukraine’s government was showing it was not ready to seek mutually acceptable solutions, the Kremlin said.

He added any direct meeting with Zelenskyy depended on progress in continuing discussions between officials from the two sides, which last took place in person in Turkey on March 29.

Read more here.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian Security Council in Moscow on April 22, 2022 [Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters]

Russia ‘terrorises’ Ukrainian nuclear station: officials

Ukraine’s energy officials said that Russia deliberately fired three cruise missiles over a large nuclear station in Ukraine’s south as an act of “nuclear terrorism”.

Three missiles were presumably shot from Moscow-friendly Belarus to fly over the South Ukrainian nuclear power station in the Mykolaiv region on April 16, according to Energoatom, the state-run agency that controls Ukraine’s nuclear generation.

“This is yet another act of Russia’s nuclear terrorism that endangers the entire world’s security,” Energoatom said.

On March 4, Russians seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southeastern Ukraine and deployed a team of engineers to manage Europe’s largest power station.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

At Venice Biennale, Ukrainian artists defy Russia’s invasion

When Russia launched its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February, Kyiv-based artist Zhanna Kadyrova suddenly questioned whether her 20-year career counted for anything, now that her family and country were in mortal danger.

“At that moment, I thought that art was nothing in this situation,” she said, speaking at her exhibition on the sidelines of this year’s Venice Biennale art festival, which opens to the public on Saturday.

Read more here.

A pile of sandbags stands at the centre of the Piazza Ucraina, which evokes attempts to protect Ukranian national monuments in Kyiv and other cities [Ruairi Casey/Al Jazeera]
A pile of sandbags stands at the centre of the Piazza Ucraina, which evokes attempts to protect Ukrainian national monuments in Kyiv and other cities [Ruairi Casey/Al Jazeera]

Putin to meet with UN chief Guterres in Russia next week: Kremlin

Putin will next week hold talks with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Kremlin said.

“On Tuesday … Antonio Guterres will arrive in Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state news agency RIA Novosti.

“He will also be received by Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Mariupol mayor: Russians “filter” Ukrainian men

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which Russian forces have almost completely taken over, said that local men are  “filtered” to be jailed, forced to enlist or hide the evidence of Russia’s atrocities.

“Men are divided into three categories. The first ones, state employees and municipal workers, are thrown in jails where they are tortured,” Vadym Boychenko said in televised remarks on Friday.

Other men are coerced to join separatist or Russian military units, and the rest are herded to bury thousands of people killed by Russian shelling and to remove the debris of destroyed buildings, he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that his forces “liberated” most of Mariupol after almost two months of shelling that killed thousands of civilians.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russians force  Kherson businesses to start trade with Crimea: activist

Russian service members in the occupied southern region of Kherson that borders Crimea force Ukrainian business people to transport goods from the annexed peninsula, an activist said on Friday.

“People are blackmailed and threatened with the killing and torture of their family,” Denys Savchenko, who heads the SOS Crimea non-profit group, said in a web-posted statement.

“Perhaps, that is how they are shipping local goods and loot, and to import Russian goods to Kherson,” he said.

He added that de facto authorities in Crimea also force businesses there to start trade with Kherson.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

1,084 dead civilians identified in Kyiv region: police

Ukrainian police have identified 1,084 civilians killed by Russian forces outside Kyiv, the capital’s police chief said.

Between 50 and 70 percent of the examined bodies were shot to death with machine guns, sniper and assault rifles, Andriy Nebitov said in televised remarks.

He added that some 300 bodies found in mass graves, basements and wells remain unidentified.

Russian forces had occupied suburban areas north of Kyiv for weeks. Survivors, Ukrainian officials and the military accused them of deliberate killings of civilians.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia “finalises to regroup” its forces in Ukraine: intelligence

A top intelligence official in Ukraine said that Moscow is “finalising to regroup its forces” for an offensive in Ukraine’s east.

All Russian units withdrawn to Moscow-friendly Belarus from the northern Ukrainian regions of Chernihiv and Sumy and from around Kyiv are currently deployed to eastern Ukraine, Vadim Skribitsky of the defence ministry’s main intelligence department said in televised remarks.

“In all directions, the enemy is trying to identify the most vulnerable places of Ukraine’s armed forces in order to begin the wide-scale offensive and to boost its success, mostly in the Donetsk region,” the Ukrainian official said.

The unusually chilly weather in mid-April and frequent rains that made farmland impassable for Russian tanks and armoured vehicles have stalled the offensive, analysts say.

Reporting by Mansur Mirovalev in Kyiv.

Russia ready ‘at any moment’ for ceasefire and civilians’ evacuation at Azovstal

Russia’s defence ministry says it is “ready at any moment” to allow a ceasefire and a humanitarian corridor for civilians at Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant if Ukrainian soldiers were to raise white flags.

“In response to the ongoing allegations by the Ukrainian side about the alleged presence of civilians at Azovstal, we once again declare that Russia is ready at any moment to introduce a regime of silence and announce a humanitarian pause for the evacuation of civilians” if they are in the plant, the ministry was quoted as saying by Tass news agency.

EU chief urges opening of evacuation route during Orthodox Easter

In a phone call with Putin, EU Council President Charles Michel urges the Russian leader to open humanitarian corridors from the southern city of Mariupol.

“Strongly urged for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage from Mariupol and other besieged cities all the more on the occasion of Orthodox Easter,” he said on Twitter.

War could drag on until 2023: UK PM

While on a two-day visit to India, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated there may be no swift end to the conflict in Ukraine because of the stiff resistance to Russia’s invasion.

Asked if he agreed with defence intelligence assessments that fighting could drag on until the end of next year, he told reporters in New Delhi: “The sad thing is that is a realistic possibility.”

Johnson also said that the UK was considering sending tanks to Poland so that Warsaw could send its own to Ukrainian forces: “We are looking at sending tanks to Poland to help them as they send some of their T-72s (tanks) to Ukraine,” he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, India, April 22, 2022
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a news conference in New Delhi, India [Ben Stansall/Reuters]

Erdogan hopeful for a phone call between Russia and Ukraine

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is planning to hold phone calls with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in the coming days, he said, adding that he hoped the calls could lead to a meeting in Turkey to end the war.

“We are not without hope,” Erdogan told reporters. “With the calls, we plan to carry the process in Istanbul to the leaders’ level,” he added.

Ukraine denounces Russia’s southern plan as ‘imperialism’

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry denounced plans announced by Russia to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine as “imperialism”.

“They stopped hiding it,” the ministry said on Twitter. It said Russia had “acknowledged that the goal of the ‘second phase’ of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine. Imperialism as it is.”

Russia prepared to stop firing to allow evacuation of Azovstal plant: RIA

Russia is prepared to stop firing to allow fighters at the Azovstal steel works in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol to leave the plant, along with any civilians that are still there, the RIA state news agency cited the defence ministry as saying.

The ministry said claims by Ukraine and some Western countries that Russia was preventing civilians from leaving the city were “groundless”, the TASS news agency reported.

Bucha tragedies not fully uncovered: AJ correspondent

After speaking with prosecutors and police authorities in Bucha, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid describes gruesome details of potential war crimes in Ukraine.

Images shown to Al Jazeera show men being shot with their hands tied behind their backs, while others were completely burned after being shot dead in a basement or in the streets.

“The team we talked to has found 80 bodies alone,” Abdel-Hamid said. “But the full scope of what happened, not only in Bucha, but also further north in Irpin and Borodyanka, is still not completely uncovered.

“Trucks with body bags keep arriving one after the other and people, women, keep waiting anxiously to figure out where are their loved ones.”

Natalia Maznichenko, 57, holds a photograph of her husband Vasyl Maznichenko, 61, who according to her was killed during Russian shelling on their building, as she mourns him during his funeral, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the cemetery in Bucha,
Natalia Maznichenko, 57, holds a photograph of her husband Vasyl Maznichenko, 61, who she says was killed during Russian shelling on their building, as she mourns him during his funeral in Bucha [Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

UN cites growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) sounded the alarm about growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, urging both Moscow and Kyiv to order combatants to respect international law.

“Russian armed forces have indiscriminately shelled and bombed populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, actions that may amount to war crimes,” the OHCHR said.

It also documented what appeared to be the use of weapons with indiscriminate effects, causing civilian casualties, by Ukrainian armed forces in the east of the country.

Kremlin: No change to timetable on rouble payments for gas

There are no changes to Russia’s timetable for making foreign companies pay for gas in roubles, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

Peskov said all the timings for the payments were set out in Putin’s presidential decree at the end of March, and settlements should be carried out in line with that order.

‘Incredible scenes’ at military hospital: Al Jazeera correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the eastern town of Popasna, reported “incredible scenes” at a military field hospital in the area in eastern Ukraine.

“The sheer dedication and professionalism of the medics, many of them volunteers taking in Ukrainian soldiers with shrapnel and bullet wounds, many suffering shell shocks,” Stratford said, referring to a post traumatic stress disorder that soldiers can be afflicted by after being exposed to bombardment.

Soldiers being treated, including one who faced the likely amputation of both of his legs, described intense fighting overnight in a nearby village where forces from both sides threw grenades at each other in what was an almost “hand-to-hand combat”, Stratford reported.

Video footage seen by Al Jazeera also shows hospital facilities being targeted by Russian forces in the area. The UN says at least 136 attacks have been carried out on healthcare facilities across Ukraine, leaving at least 73 people dead.

Meeting between Russian Orthodox patriarch and the pope is off

Pope Francis’s plan to meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has been suspended, an Argentine newspaper has reported.

Reuters reported last week that the pontiff was considering extending a trip to Lebanon in June to meet with Kirill who has been a staunch supporter of Russian’s invasion on Ukraine.

But Vatican diplomats have advised that such a meeting “could lend itself to much confusion at this moment,” Francis was cited as saying.

It would have been only their second meeting. Their first, in Cuba in 2016, was the first between a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Great Schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054.

Pope Francis (L) embraces Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill after signing a joint declaration on religious unity at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba, Friday, February 12, 2016.
Pope Francis embraces Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in the first meeting between a pope and a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Great Schism that split Christianity into Eastern and Western branches in 1054 [File: Gregorio Borgia/Reuters]

Avoiding escalation is ‘top priority’: Scholz

There is no rule book which states when Germany could be considered a party to the war in Ukraine, said Chancellor Olaf Scholz when asked about Germany’s decision to not deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine.

“That’s why it is all the more important that we consider each step very carefully and coordinate closely with one another,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with Der Spiegel. “To avoid an escalation towards NATO is a top priority for me,” he said.

“That’s why I don’t focus on polls or let myself be irritated by shrill calls. The consequences of an error would be dramatic.”

Russia says it plans to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine

Russia plans to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine as part of the second phase of its military operation, the deputy commander of Russia’s central military district said, the Interfax news agency reported.

Commander Rustam Minnekayev was also cited as saying that Russia planned to forge a land corridor between Russia-annexed Crimea and Donbas.

Read the full story here.

UK police say examining about 50 allegations of war crimes

The Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Team has received about 50 referrals relating to alleged war crimes linked to the war in Ukraine, while it also encourages anyone with further evidence to come forward.

“We’ve had around 50 referrals into us and we expect that number to grow over the coming weeks as more and more people who fled from Ukraine arrive here in the UK,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Dominic Murphy, Head of Operations for the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.

“We want to make sure those people know we’re here and that we’re ready to receive any evidence of war crimes from them, as well as provide them with the support and help that they might need in relation to that,” he added.

About 1,000 civilians stuck in Azovstal steel plant: official

Ukraine deputy prime minister Vereshchuk has urged the opening of a humanitarian corridor for about 1,000 civilians who are stuck in the Azovstal steel plant, along with Ukrainian fighters.

Vereshchuk said that the Russians have provided a corridor for the military to surrender, but have refused to open one for civilians to evacuate “cynically pretending” that the two are the same, she said on her Telegram channel.

“We call on world leaders and the international community to take every effort immediately to open humanitarian corridor from Azovstal for women, children and the elderly,” she added.

A service member of pro-Russian troops stands in front of the destroyed administration building of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine
A service member of pro-Russian troops stands in front of the destroyed administration building of Azovstal steel plant during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol [Chingis Kondarov/Reuters]

President Macron warns over the risk of a new iron curtain

EU nations must not allow a new iron curtain to fall across the continent, French President Emmanuel Macron told France Inter radio, adding that it was important to take account of differing views within the bloc towards Russia and the war in Ukraine.

Russia says its air force struck 58 military targets

Russia’s defence ministry said it had struck 58 military targets in Ukraine overnight, including sites where troops, fuel depots and military equipment were concentrated.

The ministry said it had also struck three targets using high-precision missiles in Ukraine, including an S-300 air defence system and a large concentration of Ukrainian troops with their equipment.

Seven Ukrainians wounded in Luhansk: Governor

Four civilians and three police officers have been wounded overnight by Russian shelling in the southeastern region of Luhansk, its governor has said.

Five towns have been shelled in the region that has been partially controlled by separatists since 2014, Serhiy Haidai said on Facebook.

Russian losses exceed 21,000: Ukraine’s military

Russia has lost some 21,200 soldiers since war started, Ukraine’s military says.

Ukrainian forces also destroyed 838 tanks, 2,162 armoured vehicles, 176 planes and 153 helicopters, the General Staff of Armed Forces said on Facebook, adding that such figures are being verified due to continuing hostilities.

Russia has rarely acknowledged casualties among its soldiers. The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov admitted “significant losses” in early April, while the Russian ministry of defence said in late March that 1,351 soldiers have been killed in combat. It has provided no update on military casualties since then.

FINA suspends Russian Olympic champion for supporting war

Russian Olympic gold medallist Evgeny Rylov has been suspended for nine months after he attended a rally in Moscow in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, swimming’s world governing body FINA has said.

Rylov, who won gold in 100 and 200 metres backstroke events at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, was among several athletes who attended a massive rally at the Luzhniki stadium last month hosted by Putin.

The gold medalist and other athletes wore the letter “Z” on their outfit, an identifying symbol used by supporters of the war.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Swimming - Men's 200m Backstroke - Final - Tokyo Aquatics Centre - Tokyo, Japan - July 30, 2021. Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee looks on after setting a new Olympic record to win the gold medal
Russian swimmer Evgeny Rylov looks on after setting a new Olympic record to win a gold medal [File: Marko Djurica/Reuters]

No humanitarian corridors on Friday

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says no humanitarian corridors will be open across Ukraine on Friday “due to the danger on the routes today”.

“I appeal to everyone who is waiting for the evacuation: be patient, please hold on!” she wrote on Facebook.

Blockade of Azovstal likely a strategy to free up Russian troops: UK

Putin’s decision to blockade the Azovstal steel plant “likely indicates a desire to contain Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and free up Russian forces to be deployed elsewhere in Ukraine,” the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence reports.

In its latest intelligent briefing, the ministry says that storming the plant would “likely incur significant Russian casualties” and Russia is still suffering from its losses earlier in the war.

“>Heavy shelling and fighting continues in eastern Donbas “as Russia seeks to advance further towards settlements including Krasnyy Lyman, Buhayivka, Barvinkove, Lyman and Popasna as part of their plans for the region”, the ministry adds.

US bans Russian ships from its ports

President Biden announced on Thursday the United States will ban Russian-affiliated ships from American ports, bringing the US in line with Canada and European nations, Reuters reports.

“That no ship that sails under the Russian flag or that is owned or operated by a Russian entity, will be allowed to dock in a United States port or access our shores. None,” Biden said.

Civilians could not evacuate Kherson due to shelling: Army

A planned humanitarian corridor from occupied villages in the Kherson region to Dnipro did not go ahead on Thursday due to constant shelling from Russian forces, Ukraine’s army has said.

“The invaders did not follow the agreements, did not cease the shelling and detained the evacuation column at the checkpoint. The vehicles were forced to return and could not take people out of the occupied villages of Kherson region,” the south operational command of the armed forces reported on Facebook.

The head of the Zelenodolsk territorial community, Dmytro Neveselyi, earlier wrote that 94 people were able to leave the occupied villages of Kherson on their own and arrive in Dnipro.

Russian forces advancing towards Rubizhne: Army

The Russian military has concentrated up to 25 battalion tactical groups, as well as several airborne forces, in the strategic area of Izium, which links with the Donbas, the Ukrainian army reports in its latest update.

From there, they aim to launch an offensive in the direction of the settlement of Zavody, in the Kharkiv region, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

The army added Russian forces intensified their attacks along the entire line of combat in the Donetsk region and the town of Tavriya, in the Kherson region, and are advancing towards the city of Rubizhne.

Russia calls its suspension from OAS a ‘serious mistake’

Russia’s ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov called the decision by the Organization of American States (OAS) to suspend Russia as a permanent observer to the inter-governmental institution a “serious mistake” and a “deliberate campaign to isolate Russia at international platforms”.

“We are being punished for firmly defending our legitimate national interests and refusing to bend to others’ will,” he said.

“Today, the OAS has become weaker. It alienated a reliable friend,” Antonov added.

Shelling hampers Mariupol evacuation

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said shelling hampered efforts to evacuate citizens from Mariupol on Thursday.

“We apologise to the people of Mariupol who did not wait for the evacuation today. The shelling started near the collection point, which forced the corridor to be closed,” Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.

“Everything is going very slowly. On the Russian side, everything is very complicated, chaotic, slow and, of course, dishonest,” she added. Ukraine had hoped to evacuate 6,000 civilians.

Vereshchuk said that on Wednesday, a four-bus convoy was allowed to transport 79 civilians from Mariupol to the Zaporizhzhhia region – a development she said “gave her hope”.

Ukrainian woman from Mariupol cries after safely arriving in Zaporizhzhia in a small convoy that crossed through territory held by Russian forces.
A Ukrainian woman from Mariupol cries after safely arriving in Zaporizhzhia in a small convoy that crossed through territory held by Russian forces, on April 21, 2022 [Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]

Satellite images suggest mass graves near Mariupol

Satellite images show long rows of graves stretching away from an existing cemetery in the town of Manhush, outside Mariupol. Local officials accuse Russia of burying up to 9,000 Ukrainian civilians there to conceal the slaughter taking place in the siege of the port city.

Satellite image provider Maxar Technologies released the photos, which it said showed more than 200 mass graves. In a statement, Maxar said a review of previous images indicates the graves were dug in late March and expanded over the past couple of weeks, The Associated Press news agency reports.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused the Russians of “hiding their military crimes” in Manhush.

Read more here.

A satellite image shows an overview of cemetery and expansion of the new graves in Manhush, near Mariupol, Ukraine,
A satellite image shows an overview of cemetery and expansion of the new graves in Manhush, near Mariupol, Ukraine [Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Germany promises Ukraine 37 million euros

Germany will provide a further 37 million euros ($40m) to Ukraine for reconstruction as a result of the war, the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper has reported, citing development ministry sources.

Some 22.5 million euros ($24.4m) would go into the reconstruction of Ukraine’s power grid and an additional 14.4 million euros ($15.6m) would be earmarked to rebuild apartments attacked by Russian forces and for medical equipment, the newspaper reported.

“My ministry has reallocated funds for this via an emergency programme,” development minister Svenja Schulze was quoted by the paper as saying.

‘This is the new Babyn Yar’: Mariupol mayor

The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol has compared the crimes there with the massacres carried out by Nazi Germany in Babyn Yar during the second world war.

Vadym Boychenko said Mariupol is the scene of “the biggest war crime of the 21st century”, the press service of the Mariupol City Council said on Telegram.

“This is the new Babyn Yar. Back in the day, Hitler was killing Jews, Roma and Slavs. And now Putin is exterminating Ukrainians. He has already killed tens of thousands of civilians in Mariupol. And this requires a strong reaction from the entire civilized world,” Boychenko said.

Russian missiles hit and damaged the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv in early March.

Russia blames West for shaking up global food prices

Russia and Ukraine squared off at the UN on Thursday over whether Russia’s war is to blame for rising food prices and hunger around the world, the Associated Press reports.

“As long as Russia persists in its efforts to invade Ukraine, the threat of hunger will be looming over many countries,” Ukrainian counsellor Natalia Mudrenko said at an informal UN Security Council meeting to discuss conflict and hunger.

Russian deputy ambassador Dmitry Chumakov argued that sanctions, trade wars, the coronavirus pandemic and Western economic policies were shaking up the global food, energy and financial markets.

The two countries account for nearly one-third of global wheat and barley exports, and millions of people in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia depend on them for affordable bread and noodles. Ukraine is also a major corn supplier and the biggest exporter of sunflower oil.

UN confirms 2,345 civilian deaths in Ukraine

The United Nations human rights body has confirmed 5,264 civilian casualties in Ukraine from the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24, until midnight on April 20 local time.

The latest figures from the UN High Commissioner (OHCHR) show 2,345 people have been killed and 2,919 injured.

“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the OHCHR noted.

‘Look to Russia’ for funds to rebuild Ukraine: Yellen

As the human and financial cost of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine mounts, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said looking to Russia for the funds needed to rebuild the country “is something we ought to be pursuing,” the Associated Press reports

Zelenskyy previously called on proceeds of Russia’s sanctioned property and frozen central bank reserves to be used to compensate Ukraine for its losses.

However, liquidating frozen assets, among other sanctioned property, would likely require congressional action. “I am unclear whether or not it would be possible without legislation authorising the use of those assets,” Yellen told AP.

Men walk in a street destroyed by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine.
Men walk in a street destroyed by shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022 [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

Russian troops trying to mobilise residents of occupied regions for war: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says Russian forces are preparing residents of semi-occupied regions to take up arms against Kyiv.

“They are accumulating forces, driving new battalion tactical groups to our land. They are even trying to start the so-called mobilisation in the occupied regions of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.

He also warned residents in the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be careful about the information they provide to Russian forces, especially passport data. “This is not to help you,” he said. “This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show.”

Ukraine has suggested Russia may be preparing for a referendum in Kherson, similar to its Crimean referendum in 2014, to allege the Russian speaking population is in favour of leaving Ukraine to be a part of Russia.

US helping collect evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine: Attorney general

The United States has been in contact with Ukraine’s prosecutor and is assisting with the preservation and collection of evidence of war crimes committed by Russia, US Attorney General Merrick Garland has said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine in early March.

Jordan says its reserves have cushioned fallout of Ukraine war

Jordan’s stockpile of wheat reserves, its fuel contracts, and its healthy foreign currency reserves have so far helped it absorb the Ukraine war’s effect on its economy, the finance minister has said.

“Jordan has prepared well for such a crisis,” Mohamad al-Ississ told Jihad Azour, the director of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Middle East and Central Asia Department, in an online discussion.

“If history has taught us anything, it is the most vulnerable who suffer,” al-Ississ said.

Mariupol mayor says lives of city’s trapped residents are in Putin’s hands

Putin alone can decide the fate of the 100,000 civilians still trapped in Ukraine’s war-torn Mariupol, Mayor Vadym Boychenko has told the Reuters news agency.

Boychenko said satellite images of a mass grave site were proof that Russian forces were burying bodies to try to hide the death toll.

“It’s important to understand that the lives that are still there, they are in the hands of just one person – Vladimir Putin. And all the deaths that will happen after now will be on his hands, too,” Boychenko said.

Trudeau says Canada would support Sweden and Finland joining NATO

Canada would support adding Sweden and Finland to the NATO military alliance, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted both countries to consider joining.

“Conversations are being had around Sweden and Finland looking to join NATO, and Canada, of course, is very supportive of that,” Trudeau told reporters.

What is in the latest US military aid package for Ukraine?

The Pentagon has unveiled more details about a new US military aid package to Ukraine, which Biden has said aims to help bolster Ukrainian forces’ response to Russia’s offensive in the country’s east.

The Pentagon said the aid is “tailored to meet critical Ukrainian needs for today’s fight as Russian forces launch a renewed offensive” in the eastern Donbas region.

Biden announced the new $800m assistance package earlier on Thursday, adding that he would be asking US legislators for more funds to keep the military aid “flowing without interruption” to Ukraine.

Read more here.

Obama official to coordinate aid to Ukraine

Biden has tapped retired Lieutenant-General Terry Wolff, a former three-star army general and former National Security Council official during the Obama administration, to coordinate billions of dollars in security assistance being sent into Ukraine.

Wolff recently joined the Biden White House but his appointment has not been formally announced, according to a White House official who was not authorised to comment and spoke to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity.

As an army officer, Wolff served three tours of duty in Iraq and has held senior roles at the Pentagon, Joint Staff, and State Department. In 2015, the Obama administration appointed him to serve as deputy special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL (ISIS).

Zelenskyy says Russia has rejected proposal for an Easter truce

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia rejected a proposal for a truce over the Orthodox Christian Easter period this weekend, but added he still harboured hopes for peace.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had earlier this week appealed for a four-day truce during the Holy Week to allow for civilian evacuations and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Orthodox Easter service starts late on Saturday into Sunday morning.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says he has not given up hope for peace [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Ukrainian troops begin training in UK as Johnson steps up support

A small number of Ukrainian troops are being trained in the United Kingdom, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said, as the UK steps up its military support to Ukraine.

The troops began training with armoured patrol vehicles donated by the UK this month, the spokesperson said. “It is only sensible that they get requisite training to make best use of it,” the spokesperson said.

“We are always conscious of anything perceived to be escalatory but clearly what is escalatory is the actions of Putin’s regime.” The UK is providing Ukraine with 120 armoured patrol vehicles, including the Mastiff, which can be used as a reconnaissance or patrol vehicle.

‘Yet more disinformation,’ US says of Russian claim about Mariupol

The US State Department has said it understood Ukrainian forces still held ground in Mariupol and called Putin’s claim to have liberated the city “yet more disinformation from their well-worn playbook”.

Putin hailed Russia’s “liberation” of the Ukrainian port city after defence minister Sergei Shoigu told him Moscow controlled it, apart from the Azovstal steel plant.

“Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape,” Putin said in a televised meeting, adding it would be “impractical” to storm the huge industrial area, where more than 2,000 Ukrainian service members remain, according to Shoigu.

OAS suspends Russia as permanent observer

The Organization of American States (OAS) has adopted a resolution suspending Russia as a permanent observer to the inter-governmental institution over the invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes as pressure is growing to exclude Russia from various international organisations in response to the war. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Russia’s OAS suspension.

US defence chief to host Ukraine talks at US base in Germany next week

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host Ukraine-focused defence talks with allies at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on April 26, the Pentagon has said.

“The goal is to bring together stakeholders from all around the world for a series of meetings on the latest [Ukrainian] defence needs and … ensuring that Ukraine’s enduring security and sovereignty over the long-term is respected and developed,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby did not say how many allies would participate.

Mass grave site near Mariupol expanded in recent weeks: US company

Satellite imagery from near the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol shows a mass grave site that has expanded in recent weeks to contain more than 200 new graves, a private US company has said.

Maxar Technologies said a review of images from mid-March through mid-April indicates the expansion began between March 23 and 26. The site lies adjacent to an existing cemetery in the village of Manhush, 20km west of Mariupol, Maxar said.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the imagery.

US again warns China against backing Russia in war

US Secretary of State spokesman Ned Price has warned China against supporting Russia in its military offensive but said Washington does not believe Beijing has provided any weapons to Moscow.

“We offered an assessment a couple of weeks ago that we had not seen any such support on the part of the PRC [People’s Republic of China]. That remains the case today,” Price told reporters.

“We’ve made clear that any country that seeks to undermine our sanctions regime or seeks to provide support to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine would face consequences,” he added.

Chinese president says talks, not sanctions resolve conflicts

Xi Jinping has said his government supports negotiations and opposes the “wanton use” of sanctions to resolve international disputes, remarks seen as confirming that China is sticking to its stance of refusing to criticise Russia’s invasion.

Beijing has faced calls from US and European leaders to speak out against Russian atrocities in Ukraine and pressure President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict.

Xi said China rejects “double standards, and oppose the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction”. Read more here.

World Bank estimates $60bn in physical damage in Ukraine

The World Bank has estimated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused $60bn in damage to buildings and infrastructure across Ukraine so far.

World Bank President David Malpass told a conference on Ukraine’s financial assistance needs that the early estimate of “narrow” damage costs does not include the growing economic costs of the war.

“Of course the war is still ongoing, so those costs are rising,” Malpass said.

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

Read all the updates from Thursday, April 21 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies