Timeline: Week nine of Russia’s war in Ukraine

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

A man is seen walking near a destroyed building in Mariupol
A man walks near a building destroyed during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

April 20

Eastern front: Russian forces make minor advances in eastern Ukraine, including around Izium and may have taken residential sections of the town of Popasna. Russians may also have taken over the suburbs of Severodonetsk.

Mariupol: Russian naval infantry make marginal advances at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where an estimated 2,500 Ukrainian marines are holed up in underground tunnels. The Russian air force pummels the plant.

Ukrainian officials say they secured a Russian ceasefire to evacuate 6,000 of the estimated 100,000 civilians trapped in the besieged city, but Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Russia was unable to honour that pledge.

“Due to the lack of control over their own military at the place, the occupiers were unable to ensure a proper ceasefire,” she wrote on Facebook. “Also due to their own disorganisation and negligence, the occupiers could not provide the timely transport of people to the meeting point where dozens of our buses and ambulances were waiting.”

Southwestern front: Ukrainian military intelligence reports that Russian occupation forces are planning to hold pseudo-referenda in occupied Zaporizka and Khersonska Oblasts in the southwest of the country, to declare a forced mobilisation and “throw ‘mobilised’ Ukrainians to the hottest parts of the front.” Russian forces are conducting localised operations against Ukrainian positions around Kherson.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts global growth of 3.6 percent this year and next, a downward revision of 0.8 percent for this year and 0.2 percent for next year compared with January forecasts, owing to the war in Ukraine. Growth is to slow to 3.3 percent in the medium term.

The IMF had already downwardly revised its global growth forecast for 2022 by half a percentage point in January to 4.4 percent, citing renewed mobility restrictions because of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and high inflation from energy costs and supply disruptions.

The April forecast assumes the war remains confined to Ukraine, Western sanctions against Russia except in the energy sector, and pandemic effects wear off during the course of 2022. Most countries will not reach pre-pandemic levels of employment and growth until 2027.

The war will heighten inflation to 5.7 percent in developed economies and 8.7 percent in developing economies, the IMF says, and cause it to last longer than it would otherwise have done. Interest rates are expected to rise in response, tightening money flows to developing economies severely.

The UNHCR says more than seven million Ukrainians are now internally displaced, and more than five million have become refugees in neighbouring countries.

April 21

Eastern Front: Russian forces continue to focus fire on Popasna, Malinka and Rubizhne. The governor of Luhanska Oblast says Russians control half of Popasna and street fighting continues. Russia makes no progress around Izium.

Mariupol: Russian President Vladimir Putin declares victory in the battle for Mariupol, even though some 2,500 Ukrainian marines remain barricaded in the Azovstal steel plant there. Putin orders his forces to seal off the plant so “not even a fly comes through”.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko asks for safe passage for civilians trapped in the plant. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk expands on that, asking for a ceasefire to allow 1,000 civilians and 5,000 wounded soldiers in the plant to leave.

In a video posted online, the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade still fighting in Mariupol says his men may only have hours left.

Maxar Technologies publishes satellite images of an enormous mass grave outside Mariupol, appearing to confirm the mayor’s allegations that upward of 20,000 civilians have been killed there. The grave, in the village of Manhush, 20km (nine miles) west of Mariupol, underwent expansion since March 23, says Maxar. Boychenko said as many as 9,000 could be buried there.

US President Joe Biden announces the second $800m package of military aid to Ukraine within a week.

Finland announces it will send unspecified military aid to Ukraine.

INTERACTIVE_UKRAINE_CONTROL MAP DAY63_April 27_INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Mariupol DAY 63

April 22

Eastern front: Russian forces continue to focus attacks on Rubizhne, Popanska and Marinka in eastern Ukraine. They continue to shell Kharkiv, reportedly repelling a Ukrainian counterattack north of the city, and say they seize a store of “thousands of tonnes” of Ukrainian ordinance.

Mariupol: Russian forces continue to starve out some 2,500 remaining defenders of Mariupol holed up under the Azovstal steel plant, along with perhaps 1,000 civilians. Russia refuses to create a humanitarian corridor for civilians and wounded soldiers to evacuate unless the garrison surrenders. The Russian defence ministry says 1,844 Ukrainian soldiers have now surrendered.

Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko appeals on national television for the full evacuation of the estimated 100,000 people remaining in Mariupol. He later tells Reuters only Russia can secure this. “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 says in an interview. Moscow says it has already evacuated 143,000 people from Mariupol towards Russia.

Southwestern Front: Russian forces make unsuccessful attacks on Ukrainian positions west of Kherson. Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk says Russian forces are not allowing Ukrainian citizens to leave Khersonska and Zaporizka Oblasts, and are preparing to conscript military-age men.

Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, tells Russian state media that full control over southern Ukraine would give it access to Transnistria, a breakaway Russian-occupied part of Moldova in the west, for possible future operations there. Russia has illegally placed 1,500 troops on a breakaway strip of the country, Transnistria, also known as Transdniester, which has a Russian minority. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the statement shows that Russia has embarked on an imperialist war of expansion and intends to annex other countries after Ukraine.

Ukrainian military intelligence reports that Black Sea fleet commander Admiral Osipov has been arrested over the loss of the Moskva on April 14. Tank commanders are reportedly being replaced over poor performance.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz defends his reluctance to send the heavy weaponry Ukraine needs, such as artillery and tanks, saying NATO involvement could lead to a nuclear war, in an interview with Der Spiegel.

April 23

Eastern Front: The Ukrainian general staff says Russian forces are preparing an offensive against Severdonetsk and are conducting unsuccessful ground operations in the direction of Sloviansk. Streetfighting is reported in northeastern Rubizhne. Russian forces seize the town of Lozova, 35km east of Izium and shell areas northeast of Kharkiv.

Mariupol: Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych says Russian forces unsuccessfully tried to storm the Azovtsal plant.

Southwestern Front: Russian forces advance several kilometres in the direction of Huliaipole in Zaporizka Oblast, says Arestovych. Ukraine’s military intelligence says national forces attacked a command post, killing at least two generals. It says Russia is enlisting medics to care for wounded Russian soldiers, and attempting to mobilise fighters from the local population. “These measures are carried out despite the predominantly pro-Ukrainian attitude of the population,” it says.

Russia’s defence ministry says precision missiles destroy a logistics terminal at the Odesa airport, where Western military aid was being stored.

April 24

Eastern Front: Russian forces make limited gains around Popasna, Marinka and Severdonetsk, floating a pontoon bridge across the Krasna river west of Severdonetsk. They capture small towns northeast of Rubizhne. Ukrainian forces repel a Russian advance from Izium in the direction of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Ukrainian military intelligence reports that volunteer movements are forming in the Kharkiv region to bring food to the neediest, despite the fact that Russian forces have shot such volunteers as part of a process of sealing off captured regions from the rest of Ukraine.

Mariupol: The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment says Russian naval infantry are preparing to launch an attack on the Azovstal plant. Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also says Russian forces are concentrating around the plant for an attack.

April 25

Southwestern front: Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov says Russian forces in occupation of the town are forbidding men to leave the city with the intention of conscripting them. “In Melitopol, they are blocking the exit of men. All of this started several weeks ago, when they began to offer men to join the ranks of the Russian armed forces at checkpoints. Now they have started a full-scale mobilisation for the Russian army,” Fedorov is quoted as saying.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visit Zelenskyy in Kyiv, pledging a new $322m package of cash for military aid, bringing the total pledged to $3.7bn.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warns the risk of Ukraine triggering a third world war with nuclear weapons is “serious, real”.

Five central and western railway stations come under attack, Ukrainian authorities say.

A series of explosions takes place in Transnistria, a sliver of Moldova populated by a Russian minority that declared its independence in 1992 and is recognised only by Russia. The explosions damage the building where the ministry of state security and the federal security service are housed. Ukraine’s defence intelligence says this is an attack staged by Russia.

April 26

Eastern front: Intense fighting continues for Rubizhne, Popanska and Marinka. Pro-Russian news outlets say Russian units are progressing south of Izyum towards Sloviansk and Barvinkove in an attempt to meet up with secessionists in Donetsk.

Mariupol: Russian forces continue to shell the Azovstal plant and other buildings in the city, suggesting there may be other pockets of resistance.

Austin presses delegates from 40 nations to contribute more weapons as soon as possible to Ukraine’s war effort at a military donors’ conference at Ramstein air force base in Germany. The conference inaugurates a monthly meeting of defence ministers, suggesting the US expects a long engagement in Ukraine.

Two further explosions in Transnistria topple radio towers belonging to Russian language stations.

Russia announces it will stop gas deliveries to Poland and Bulgaria following their refusal to pay for gas in roubles, as demanded by Putin. Poland is supplied through the Yamal-Europe pipeline, and Bulgaria through the Turkstream pipeline.

Ukrainian losses as reported by Russia until April 26:

141 aircraft, 110 helicopters, 589 UAVs, 272 anti-air missile systems, 2,588 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, 292 multiple launch rocket systems, 1,124 field artillery and mortars, 2,403 units of special military vehicles destroyed.

Russian losses as reported by Ukraine until April 24:

21,800 servicemen killed, 179 aircraft, 154 helicopters, 191 UAVs, 873 tanks, 2,238 APCs, 408 artillery systems, 147 multiple launch rocket systems, 69 anti-air systems, 1,557 vehicles, 8 warships destroyed.

Source: Al Jazeera