Russia-Ukraine latest updates: Zelenskyy addresses UN

Ukraine news from April 5: Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells UN that ‘accountability must be inevitable’ for Russia.

A woman walks next to a destroyed Russian armor vehicle in Bucha
A woman walks next to a destroyed Russian armor vehicle in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 5, 2022 [Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo]
  • At a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accuses Russia of wanting to make Ukrainians “silent slaves”.
  • The UN’s human rights office says evidence from Bucha indicates Russian forces “directly targeted” civilians after Kyiv says 300 non-combatants were killed in the town, near Ukraine’s capital.
  • The European Commission proposes more sanctions on Russia, including a ban on coal imports.
  • European countries expel Russian diplomats; Moscow is expected to respond with tit-for-tat measures.
  • NATO says Russia is regrouping to refocus its offensive on taking complete control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 41

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These were the updates on April 5:

Explosions heard in west Ukraine: officials

No casualties were reported following explosions in the Lviv region in western Ukraine, local officials said.

“Explosions near Radekhiv,” regional governor Maksim Kositsky said on Telegram, referring to a town about 70 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of Lviv. “Everybody must remain in shelters.”

A short while later he said in another post: “As of this hour, there is no information on victims.”

Zelenskyy urges Spain for tougher sanctions

Ukraine’s president urged all Spanish companies to completely halt business with Russia and called for tougher Western sanctions against Moscow that would include a ban on Russian oil imports.

Speaking in a video address to the Spanish Parliament, Zelenskyy denounced the Russian atrocities against civilians in Ukrainian cities, saying they represented war crimes for which Russian officers should face an international tribunal.

Zelenskyy said the “sanctions must be really powerful”.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appears on a screen
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks as Ukrainian President Zelenskyy appears on a screen as he addresses members of Spanish parliament via video link, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Madrid, Spain, April 5, 2022 [Juan Medina/Reuters]

US providing Ukraine with protective chemical weapons gear: Official

The United States is providing Ukraine with life-saving protective equipment that could be deployed if Russia were to use chemical and biological weapons, a Biden administration official has said, Reuters news agency reported.

The equipment and supplies, which were requested by Kyiv, are being delivered on a rolling basis and some has already been delivered, the official said.

People can still only flee Mariupol by car or on foot: Ukraine

People are still only able to flee the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on foot or by private car as efforts to organise mass evacuations by bus to safer parts of Ukraine have failed, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has revealed.

In an online post, Vereshchuk said seven buses trying to get to Mariupol had not managed to make its way through a Russian blockade.

Ukrainian refugees
Local residents Tatyana Drogalina, 41, and her daughter Masha, 10, wait before boarding a bus and leaving for the settlement of Yenakiyevo in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port of Mariupol, Ukraine April 5, 2022 [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Some 20 people died in some occupied villages in Zaporizhzhia: Governor

The governor of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region has said some villages that were recaptured from Russian forces saw up to 20 people die while under occupation out of populations of around 120.

“You had a village of 120 people – 15, 17, 20 people died. If you compare that proportionally to Bucha, it’s the same loss, maybe even more,” said Governor Oleksandr Starukh on national television.

More than 3,800 people were evacuated from cities: Official

A total of 3,846 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors, slightly more than the 3,376 who escaped on Monday, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said in an online post.

Charity group says team witnessed hospital bombing in Mykolaiv

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has said in a statement its team witnessed Russian strikes during a hospital visit on April 4 in Mykolaiv, Ukraine and managed to take cover and escape unharmed.

“Several explosions took place in close proximity to our staff over the course of about 10 minutes,” said Michel-Olivier Lacharite, MSF head of mission in Ukraine. “As they were leaving the area, the MSF team saw injured people and at least one dead body.”

The Geneva-based MSF did not give details on how it knew the strikes were Russian and did not provide evidence beyond the statement.

Reuters news agency said it had not been able to verify the details of the incident.

An Ukrainian soldier exits a Psychiatric hospital damaged by a Russian bombing earlier this week
An Ukrainian soldier exits a Psychiatric hospital damaged by a Russian bombing earlier this week, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine [File: Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo]

Lavrov says West trying to sink Russia-Ukraine talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the West of trying to derail negotiations between Russia and Ukraine by fuelling “hysteria” over alleged war crimes by Moscow’s forces.

Lavrov said, without providing evidence, that Moscow believed the accusations were timed to wreck the negotiating process after what he described as progress when Ukrainian and Russian representatives met in Turkey last week.

US, European allies to impose new sanctions

The United States and its European allies will impose stiff new sanctions, including a ban on new investments in Russia, a US official says, in retaliation for Russia’s “war crimes” in Ukraine.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement, Reuters news agency reported.

The joint action will include a ban on new investment in Russia, toughened sanctions on its financial institutions and government-owned enterprises, and more sanctions on Russian government officials and their family members.

A destroyed Russian tank, next to damaged houses in the recaptured by the Ukrainian army Mala Rohan village, near Kharkiv
A destroyed Russian tank, next to damaged houses in the recaptured by the Ukrainian army Mala Rohan village, near Kharkiv, northeast Ukraine [File: Roman Pilipey/EPA]

EU expels 19 Russian diplomats from Belgium

The European Union says 19 Russian diplomats are being expelled from Belgium.

“I decided to designate persona non grata a number of officials of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the EU for engaging in activities contrary to their diplomatic status,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in a video statement.

He said the Russian envoy was being summoned to the EU to explain the move.

Allegations against Russia regarding Bucha ‘ungrounded’: Russia’s UN ambassador

Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia in his remarks to Zelenskyy at the UN Security Council (UNSC) said Moscow places “on your conscience the ungrounded accusations against the Russian military, which are not confirmed by any eyewitnesses”.

Russia has claimed that images presented by Ukrainian authorities to show there had been a massacre in Bucha were fake, or that the deaths occurred after Russian soldiers pulled out of the areas.

“You only saw what they showed you. You couldn’t ignore the flagrant inconsistencies in the version of events which are being promoted by Ukrainian and Western media,” the ambassador told the UNSC.

People are seen moving body bags in Bucha
Volunteers unload bags containing bodies of civilians, who according to residents were killed by Russian army soldiers [Zohra Bensemra/Reuters]

Images of dead civilians from Bucha ‘very disturbing’: China

The reports and images showing civilian deaths in Bucha are “very disturbing”, China’s ambassador to the United Nations said.

However, he added the that circumstances should be verified and any accusations should be based on facts.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting, Ambassador Zhang Jun repeated Beijing’s stance that sanctions are not effective in solving the Ukraine crisis but instead they accelerate the economic spillover.

He also called on the United States, NATO and the European Union to engage in a dialogue with Russia.

Bucha killings can urge West to ‘do more’: Analyst

Melinda Haring of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council told Al Jazeera that atrocities in Bucha are likely to persuade the West to take greater action against Russia.

“I think there is a lot of outrage. I think people are shocked. And this may motivate the West to actually do more,” she said from Washington, DC.

“So in Washington, there’s a lot of reluctance to send higher-end weapon systems. The White House is making this distinction between escalatory weapons and defensive weapons.”

“I think this distinction that might make sense in law school is going to go away and the US is going to finally start sending some of these weapons systems to the Ukrainians. On the justice side, I think it’s too early to say. Remember that Russia is on the Security Council, and it’s going to block every single attempt to bring justice to Ukraine,” Haring said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy examines the site of a recent battle in Bucha, close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Apr. 4, 2022. Russia is facing a fresh wave of condemnation after evidence emerged of what appeared to be deliberate killings of civilians in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy examines the site of a recent battle in Bucha, close to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday, April 4, 2022 [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

UN aid chief puts civilian death toll at more than 1,400

At least 1,430 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, including more than 121 children, according to UN’s aid chief.

“We know this is likely a serious underestimate,” Martin Griffiths told the UN Security Council (UNSC).

He added there was “a long road ahead” in the UN’s effort to broker a ceasefire after what he described as a “frank” meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.

“But it must be traveled, and … we will travel it,” Griffiths said, noting that he hoped to travel to Ukraine on Wednesday to hold discussions with officials there over a possible truce.

Griffiths also warned that “perilous conditions” were hampering the UN’s “efforts to access civilians” and called for non-combatants to be “allowed to move to safer areas without the fear of attacks.”

UN says it has received ‘credible’ claims of Russian forces using cluster bombs

The UN’s undersecretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs says the world body has received “credible” allegations that Russian forces have used indiscriminate cluster munitions at least 24 times in populated parts of Ukraine.

Rosemary DiCarlo told the UNSC the global body was “gravely concerned by the persistent use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area,” saying such weapons are causing the most civilian casualties in the war.

She said that claims that Ukrainian forces have used such weapons were also being investigated.

DiCarlo added that allegations of “conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces” had also emerged.

“These include gang rape and rapes in front of children,” she added. “There are also claims of sexual violence by Ukrainian forces and civil defense militias.”

Sweden opens investigation into possible war crimes

Swedish prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine and urged witnesses to come forward, the Swedish Prosecution Authority says.

The authority said the purpose of the probe was to secure evidence as early as possible that could be used in Swedish or international courts. It urged victims and anyone who had witnessed violence against civilians in Ukraine to contact authorities.

“Based on the information available on the situation in Ukraine, there is reason to believe that serious war crimes have been committed,” the organisation said in a statement.

US reiterates call for Russia to be removed from UN Human Rights Council

The United States has reiterated its call for Russia to be removed from the UN’s Human Rights Council, with Washington’s ambassador to the world body saying Moscow’s membership “hurts” its credibility.

“Russia should not have a position of authority in a body whose very purpose is to promote respect for human rights,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UNSC.

“Not only is it the height of hypocrisy, it is dangerous,” she added. “Every day, we see more and more how little Russia respects human rights.”

A neighbour comforts a distraught Natalya as she sobs and covers her face with her hands after her husband and nephew were killed in Bucha
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a major humanitarian crisis which has seen millions of people flee from their homes in search of safety elsewhere [Vadim Ghirda/AP]

Ukrainian president demands Russia be removed from UNSC

Zelenskyy has called for Russian forces and officials to be held accountable for alleged war crimes in Ukraine and for Moscow to be removed as a member of the UNSC so that it cannot block the body from making decisions about the conflict.

“We are dealing with a state that is turning the veto into the UN Security Council into the right to die,” he said.

“Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately,” Zelenskyy added, before accusing Moscow of wanting to turn Ukraine into a country of “silent slaves”.

Zelenskyy says Russian forces ‘killed entire families’

Ukraine’s president has accused Russian forces of committing the “most terrible war crimes” since World War II in his country.

Describing their alleged atrocities in Bucha, Zelenskyy said they had “killed entire families … and tried to burn the bodies”.

“There is not a single crime that they would not commit,” he said, adding he was speaking to the UNSC for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on behalf of the victims of Moscow’s troops.

He claimed civilians were shot in the town’s streets and in their own homes. He added others had been thrown into wells to die, or blown up by grenades. Some, Zelenskyy alleged, had been crushed by tanks “just for the pleasure” of the Russian soldiers.

UN chief says he will ‘never forget’ images of Bucha victims

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told the UNSC he will “never forget” seeing images of dead civilians in Bucha, adding the war in Ukraine has led to a “senseless loss of life”.

Guterres said he was “equally shocked by the personal testimony of rapes and sexual violence” alleged to have been carried out by Russian forces that are now emerging.

He added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order “because of its nature, intensity, and consequences”.

Guterres said the war was heaping intense pressure on the developing world, with more than 1.2 billion people particularly vulnerable to spiking food, energy and fertiliser costs as a result of the conflict.

“We are already seeing some countries move from vulnerability into crisis,” he added.

Putin says possible nationalisation of Russian assets abroad is ‘a double-edged weapon’

President Vladimir Putin has said the possible nationalisation of Russian assets abroad is “a double-edged weapon” in a thinly-veiled warning that suggests Moscow may respond in kind to any such moves by foreign governments.

Putin’s remarks came a day after Germany said its energy regulator would take control of Gazprom Germania, a gas trading, storage and transmission business.

Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom said last week that it was exiting the business in Germany amid a dispute between Moscow and Berlin over the Kremlin’s insistence that Russian gas exports must be paid for in roubles.

Bucha victim: ‘Russian troops beat me, doused me in diesel fuel’

A Ukrainian citizen has told Al Jazeera he was tortured by Russian forces in Bucha, where evidence of alleged atrocities is growing, before escaping from his interrogators.

Read more here.

Blinken accuses Russia of waging ‘deliberate campaign to commit atrocities’ in Bucha

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of waging a deliberate campaign to commit atrocities in Bucha.

“What we’ve seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit,” Blinken told reporters before departing for Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting at the transatlantic alliance’s headquarters.

“It’s a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities,” he added.

Blinken said the United States was supporting the efforts of Ukrainian authorities in their investigation of the alleged atrocities. Russia has denied targeting civilians amid its offensive and accused Ukrainian authorities of fabricating the scenes in Bucha.

Mini map showing Bucha's location within Ukraine

EU Commission proposes new Russia sanctions

The European Union’s executive arm has proposed a fresh set of sanctions on Russia that includes a ban on Russian coal imports and blocking the country’s ships from entering European ports.

If approved by the EU’s 27 member states, the package will mark the bloc’s fifth wave of sanctions on Moscow since it launched its invasion.

Announcing the proposed measures, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of waging a “cruel, ruthless war.”

“We need to sustain utmost pressure at this critical point,” she said.

Moldova to receive more than $700m in aid from European donors

European donors, including Germany, France and Romania, have pledged 659 million euros ($720m) in aid to Moldova as the country faces growing challenges due to the war in Ukraine.

Read more here.

Germany says EU will end Russian fossil fuel imports

The European Union’s 27 member states have agreed that they will stop importing fossil fuels from Russia after its forces’ alleged atrocities in Bucha, Germany’s foreign minister says.

“The answer to these war crimes now with the fifth sanctions package at the European level must be that we as a European Union must completely phase out fossil energy dependence on Russia, starting with coal, then oil, and then gas,” Annalena Baerbock said, without providing further details.

Asked by reporters about Ukraine’s request for tanks, she added that the EU’s members were open to exporting further weapons systems to the country.

Kyiv says it needs tanks if it is to push Russia out of its territory rather than just defend existing lines of contact.

‘Unacceptable’: Kremlin denounces Biden’s war crime remarks

The Kremlin has lashed out at US President Joe Biden after he suggested that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes, saying the remarks were “unacceptable and unworthy”.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also said Moscow anticipated that the US will impose further sanctions on Russia.

“Americans are unlikely to give up their favourite practice,” Peskov said.

Biden said on Monday that Washington was going to impose further sanctions against Russia in response to its forces’ alleged atrocities in Bucha.

Israeli PM condemns Bucha killings, but does not mention Russia

Israel’s prime minister has condemned the alleged massacre of civilians in Bucha but stopped short of accusing Russian forces of being behind the killings.

“We’re shocked by the terrible sights in Bucha – awful scenes – and we condemn them. The suffering of Ukrainian citizens is immense, and we’re doing everything we can to assist,” Naftali Bennett said at a televised news conference.

Israel has been restrained in its criticism of Russia during the crisis, citing Bennett’s efforts to broker peace between Moscow and Kyiv. Israel also wants to keep channels open to the Russian military in Syria, where it often mounts air raids.

NATO says Russia regrouping ahead of anticipated Donbas offensive

Russia is not giving up on its offensive in Ukraine but will try to refocus on taking complete control of the country’s eastern Donbas region in the coming weeks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

“We now see a significant movement of [Russian] troops away from Kyiv to regroup, re-arm and re-supply and shift their focus to the east,” Stoltenberg told a news conference before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

“In the coming weeks, we expect a further Russian push in eastern and southern Ukraine to try to take the entire Donbas and to create a land bridge to occupied Crimea,” he added.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and has backed separatist rebels who shortly afterward seized swaths of territory in Donbas.

Spain to expel dozens of Russian diplomats

Spain will expel about 25 Russian diplomats and embassy staff from Madrid, the country’s foreign minister has said.

“We have decided to expel Russian diplomats and staff from the Russian embassy in Spain who represent a threat to the interests and security of our country,” Jose Manuel Albares said after the Spanish government’s weekly cabinet meeting, without ruling out further measures.

He added that the expulsions, which came after a wave of similar measures by other European nations, were also a response to “the terrible actions carried out in the past days in Ukraine, especially in Bucha.”

However, Albares said Spain would not expel the Russian ambassador, as Madrid wants to keep its own ambassador in Moscow and leave diplomatic channels open for talks with Russia to end the war.

Mover than 7.1 million people displaced by war: IOM

More than 7.1 million people have now been displaced by the war in Ukraine, according to the UN’s migration agency.

Women account for more than half of those forced to flee the conflict, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

It added that the main needs of those who had been displaced were “cash, medicines and health services”.

Kosovo, Bosnia call for NATO membership as war rages in Ukraine

As Russia’s influence grows in the Western Balkans and war rages in Ukraine, the leaders of Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have said joining NATO would help preserve regional security.

Read more here.


UN says evidence from Bucha indicates civilians were ‘directly targeted, killed’

Video footage and images from Bucha show “all the signs” that civilians there were “directly targeted and directly killed”, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has said.

Liz Throssell described the emerging evidence as “very disturbing”.

“We have been talking about war crimes in the context of shelling, of bombardment and artillery attacks. Now they need to be investigated. But you could argue there was a military context, for example, to a building being hit,” she said.

“[But] It’s hard to see what was the military context of an individual lying in the street with a bullet to the head or having their bodies burned.”

Ukrainian official calls for new court for war crimes hearings

A new court should be set up to handle alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine, an adviser to President Zelenskyy has said.

Speaking on national television, Oleksiy Arestovych said the body would need to handle cases including the alleged killing of civilians by Russian troops in Bucha.

He compared the proposed court to the one that prosecuted war crimes in former Yugoslavia.

France opens inquiries into possible war crimes in Ukraine

France has opened three inquiries over possible war crimes in Ukraine related to acts against French citizens.

In a statement, a federal prosecutor said the country was investigating possible crimes committed in Mariupol, Hostomel and Chernihiv between February 24 – when Russia launched its invasion – and March 16.

Kyiv-Chernihiv road open after Russian withdrawal, official says

The departure of Russian troops from around the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine has reopened its direct road link to the capital, Kyiv, the region’s governor has said.

Speaking on national television, Viacheslav Chaus said people could now travel freely to and from Chernihiv, but he warned it was not yet safe enough in the city for residents who had fled to return.

Mini map showing Chernihiv's location within Ukraine

Sweden to expel three Russian diplomats

Sweden’s foreign minister says it will expel three Russian diplomats for failing to obey international rules, making it the latest in a string of European countries to take similar moves.

Ann Linde told reporters the three individuals’ work in Sweden was “not in accordance with the Vienna Convention”, referring to the international treaty that concerns diplomatic relations between independent states.

US official warns of ‘protracted’ war as Russia shifts aims

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has warned of a “protracted” conflict as Russia revises its war aims.

Read more here.

UK, Japan agree on need for more Russia sanctions

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says she and her Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi have agreed that additional sanctions must be imposed on Russia.

She said the pair believed the “international community must increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his war machine”.

Germany seeking to reduce Moldova’s reliance on Russia

Germany’s foreign minister says Berlin and its European allies will explore ways of reducing Moldova’s dependence on Russia, the neighbour on which Europe’s poorest country relies for energy supplies.

“Together with our Moldovan partners, we want to assess how we can help reduce Moldova’s dependency on Russia economically … and with a view to energy needs, and to strengthen the country’s resilience,” Baerbock told a Berlin donor conference.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock
Baerbock said Germany was seeking to reduce Moldova’s financial dependence on Russia [Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters]

‘The divide between Russian and global sciences is happening’

Al Jazeera has interviewed Andronick A Arutyunov, an anti-war mathematician in Russia, about the isolation of Russian academia, among other things.

Read the Q&A here.

Zelenskyy says Hungary’s Orban must choose between Russia and ‘other world’

Ukraine’s president has said Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban will have to choose between Moscow and the “other world” after his election victory on Sunday.

Speaking to Ukrainian media in a televised interview, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Orban of fearing Russian influence.

Orban has for years maintained close ties with Putin.

Italy expels 30 Russian diplomats

Italy’s foreign minister says his country has expelled 30 Russian diplomats for “national security reasons”.

Luigi Di Maio said that Russia’s ambassador to Italy, Sergey Razov, had been summoned earlier on Tuesday “to notify him of the Italian government’s decision to expel” the diplomats “as ‘personae non grata'”.

Kyiv mayor urges Europe to cut commercial ties with Russia

The mayor of Kyiv has urged European politicians to cut all commercial ties with Moscow, saying that all payments to Russia will fuel what he called a “genocide of Ukrainians”.

“Every euro, every cent that you receive from Russia or that you send to Russia has blood. It is bloody money and the blood of this money is Ukrainian blood, the blood of Ukrainian people,” Vitali Klitschko, dressed in military clothes, told a mayors’ conference in Geneva via video link.

“You can’t be half pregnant. Right now the war is black and white. Are you for peace and support Ukraine or do you support the aggressors, Russia?” he asked.

Russia dismisses Ukrainian allegations of war crimes as ‘propaganda’

Russia has pushed back against allegations its soldiers have committed war crimes in Ukraine, casting such allegations as fake propaganda staged by Ukrainian special forces to besmirch Moscow.

Since Russian troops withdrew from towns and villages around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Ukrainian troops have been showing journalists corpses of what they say are civilians killed by Moscow’s forces.

“These are fakes that matured in the cynical imagination of Ukrainian propaganda,” Dmitry Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said on Telegram.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defence ministry said it had evidence that the 72nd Ukrainian Main Center for Psychological Operations had helped stage such propaganda in a village 23km (14 miles) northwest of Kyiv as well as in Sumy, Konotop, and other places.

“Soldiers of the 72nd Ukrainian Main Center for Psychological Operations conducted another staged filming of civilians allegedly killed by the violent actions of the Russian armed forces,” the ministry said. It gave no further details.

Denmark expels 15 Russian diplomats; Moscow to retaliate

Denmark has said it will expel 15 Russian diplomats, in line with steps taken by several other European Union countries over the alleged killing of civilians by Russian forces in Bucha.

Announcing the move, the Danish foreign ministry said that it did not want to cut diplomatic ties to Moscow and that the Russian ambassador and the rest of the embassy were not part of the expulsion.

Russia’s foreign ministry said it would retaliate, the country’s RIA Novosti news agency reported.

A mass grave is seen behind a church in the town of Bucha
A mass grave is seen behind a church in Bucha, northwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv [Sergei Supinsky/AFP]

165 children killed amid Russia’s invasion: Ukrainian prosecutors

At least 165 children have been killed in Ukraine, including four in the past 24 hours, and more than 265 others wounded, Ukrainian officials said.

Most of the children died in the southeastern Donetsk region – partially controlled by Moscow-backed separatists and Russian troops – around Kyiv and in the eastern region of Kharkiv, according to the officials.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the figures provided.

Reporting by Al Jazeera’s Mansur Mirovalev in Vinnytsia, Ukraine

French minister: EU likely to adopt new Russia sanctions

The EU will likely adopt new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune says.

This comes after reports of killings of civilians in northern Ukraine by Russian forces, which Russia has denied.

“The new sanctions will probably be adopted tomorrow”, he told RFI radio, adding the EU should also quickly act on gas and coal imports from Russia.

Bucha civilians killed
Ukrainian servicemen carry a dead body found in a basement in Bucha [File: Marko Djurica/Reuters]

Red Cross team ‘released’ after negotiations

An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Ukraine has been released after they were stopped on the way to the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vershchuk.

“After negotiations, they were released during the night and sent to Zaporizhzhia,” she said.

Withdrawing Russian troops will need re-equipping before redeployment: UK

The UK’s defence ministry says Ukrainian forces have retaken key northern terrain, forcing Russian forces to retreat from areas around the city of Chernihiv and north of the capital, Kyiv.

Low-level fighting is likely to continue in some of the recaptured areas, but taper off this week as the rest of the Russian forces withdraw, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

“Many Russian units withdrawing from northern Ukraine are likely to require significant re-equipping and refurbishment before being available to redeploy for operations in eastern Ukraine.”

Japan brings in 20 Ukrainian refugees on a special flight

Japan’s foreign minister has returned from Poland with 20 Ukrainian refugees.

“The government of Japan is committed to provide the maximum support to these 20 Ukrainians,” Hayashi told reporters in Poland shortly before he set off for Tokyo with the refugees.

Japan has an extremely strict refugee policy, making its offer to accept Ukrainians unusual. It previously accepted nearly 400 Ukrainians, all relatives of about 2,000 Ukrainian residents in Japan who arrived on their own since the Russian invasion began.

A government's special plane transporting Ukrainian refugees, arrives at the Haneda airport in Tokyo, Japan April 5, 2022,
A special government plane (top) transporting Ukrainian refugees, arrives in Tokyo [Kyodo via Reuters]

Chinese, Ukrainian foreign ministers speak by phone

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in a phone call on Monday, the first reported high-level conversation between the countries since March 1.

During the call, Kuleba asked Wang to use Beijing’s ties with Moscow to stop Russia’s invasion. Wang again urged talks to end the conflict, according to Chinese state media, adding that China “stands ready to play a constructive role”.

Kuleba, in a Twitter post, said he was “grateful to my Chinese counterpart for solidarity with civilian victims … We both share the conviction that ending the war against Ukraine serves common interests of peace, global food security and international trade.”

US stops Russian bond payments

The US has stopped the Russian government from paying holders of its sovereign debt more than $600m from reserves held at American banks, a move meant to ratchet up pressure on Moscow and eat into its dollar holdings.

Under the sanctions on Russia, its central bank’s foreign currency reserves at US financial institutions were frozen but the US Department of Treasury had been allowing the use of those funds to make coupon payments on dollar-denominated sovereign debt.

On Monday, the largest payments came due – including a $552.4m principal payment on a maturing bond – and the US decided to cut off access to the funds, to force Moscow to decide whether it will use what dollars it does have to pay its debt or for other purposes, like its war effort, a spokesperson said.

Russia trying to hide ‘guilt in mass killings’: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president has accused Russian forces of trying to hide evidence of mass killings of civilians.

“After the revealed mass killings of civilians in the Kyiv region, the occupiers may have a different attitude to their crimes in another part of our country,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “They are already launching a false campaign to conceal their guilt in the mass killings of civilians in Mariupol,” he added.

The invading soldiers will stage interviews, edit recordings and kill people specifically to make it look like they were killed by someone else, Zelenskyy said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022.
Zelenskyy said Russian forces were attempting to conceal alleged mass killings of civilians in Mariupol [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

Russia slams US, UK efforts to suspend it from UN rights body

Russia’s ambassador to the UN has reacted furiously to efforts by the US and UK to suspend Moscow from the world body’s Human Rights Council.

“This is unbelievable,” Vassily Nebenzia said. “What the West is trying to do with Russia, trying to exclude it from multilateral forums … is unprecedented,” he added.

Nebenzia also warned that the push by London and Washington “will not facilitate or encourage or be helpful to what is happening between Russian and Ukrainians in peace talks.”

Vassily Nebenzia, permanent representative of Russia to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council,
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, speaks during a meeting of the UNSC [File: John Minchillo/AP Photo]

UK calls for Russia’s suspension from UN rights body

The UK’s foreign secretary has backed Washington’s effort to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over Russian troops’ alleged killing of civilians in Bucha.

“Given strong evidence of war crimes, including reports of mass graves and heinous butchery in Bucha, Russia cannot remain a member of the UN Human Rights Council. Russia must be suspended,” Truss said.

Facebook briefly blocks hashtags tied to Bucha killings

Meta Platforms spokesman Andy Stone has confirmed that automated systems that scan for violent imagery on Facebook and Instagram were responsible for briefly blocking hashtags including #bucha and #buchamassacre.

“This happened automatically because of the graphic content people posted using these hashtags. When we were made aware of the issue yesterday, we acted quickly to unblock the hashtags,” he wrote on Twitter.

Facebook and Instagram permit the posting of graphic and violent content when it is shared to raise awareness of possible human rights abuses, but delete the content if it is extremely explicit or celebrates suffering.

Kharkiv braces for more Russian attacks

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russian forces are preparing to seize the eastern city of Kharkiv but Ukrainian troops are holding their positions and pushing the invading soldiers back.

Oleksandr Motuzianyk, spokesman for the Ukrainian defence ministry, told reporters that Russian troops were concentrating their “main efforts on preparations for offensive operations” to capture besieged Kharkiv.

But Russian forces are not yet able to approach the city just yet, Oleg Sinegubov, governor of Kharkiv, told Ukrainian television.

“Currently our armed forces are holding their positions, and in some directions, we are pushing the enemy out of Kharkiv’s towns,” he said.


Torture chamber found in Bucha children’s facility: Prosecutor’s office

Ukrainian police have found a “torture chamber” in the basement of a children’s sanatorium in Bucha, the prosecutor general’s office said.

In a Telegram post, the office said “police found the bodies of five men with their hands tied” there.

“Military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation tortured unarmed civilians and then killed them.”

Ira Gavriluk holds her cat as she walks among the bodies of her husband, brother, and another man, who were killed outside her home in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022.
Ira Gavriluk holds her cat as she walks among the bodies of her husband, brother, and another man, who were killed outside her home in Bucha, April 4 [Felipe Dana/AP Photo]

Red Cross involved in collecting evidence of Bucha killings: Ukraine official

Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrsky has pledged a speedy independent review and documentation of atrocities discovered in Bucha.

“As soon as the bridges that the Russians blew up during their retreat have been repaired, experts will have access,” he told the German daily Tagesspiegel.

The ICRC was already involved in collecting evidence, the minister said, adding that other international experts would soon join the investigation.

Two-thirds of Russian troops located near Kyiv have left: US official

A senior US defence official says about two-thirds of the roughly 20 Russian battalions that had been around Kyiv have now left and are either in Belarus or on their way there.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a military assessment, said Russian forces are being resupplied and reinforced in Belarus to go back into Ukraine, potentially to Donbas, and that they have been moving out of Sumy and back into Russia.

But they have been reinforcing and repositioning their artillery and putting more energy into the fight around the city of Izyum, which lies on a key route to the Donbas.

US allocates $250,000 to help Ukraine deal with potential chemical attack

The US is allocating $250,000 to the global chemical weapons watchdog to provide assistance to Ukraine if it is targeted or threatened with chemical weapons.

Marc Shaw, deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of State, said in a statement that his government hoped the money will allow the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to “quickly assist Ukraine as it seeks protection against chemical threats from the Russian government”.

18 journalists killed in Ukraine since Russian invasion: Ministry

The Ukrainian Culture and Information Ministry says 18 journalists have been killed since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

In a statement on Telegram, the ministry said the victims included 15 men and three women, adding that 13 other journalists had been wounded, eight had been abducted or taken prisoner and three were still missing.

Reporters Without Borders, the global media watchdog, says it has documented the death of seven journalists in Ukraine.

Ukraine registers 7,000 reports of Russian war crimes in Kyiv: Prosecutor

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova says her office has registered more than 7,000 cases alleging Russian war crimes in the Kyiv region.

Her office has already started investigating war crimes in Irpin, Bucha and Worsel.

US seeks to suspend Russia from UN human rights body

The US says it plans to ask the UN General Assembly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council after Ukraine accused Russian troops of killing dozens of civilians in Bucha.

A two-thirds majority vote by the 193-member assembly in New York can suspend a state for persistently committing gross and systematic violations of human rights.

“Russia’s participation in the Human Rights Council is a farce,” US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on a visit to Romania, adding that she wants to have the vote this week.

Satellite images suggest bodies in Bucha streets for weeks

A set of satellite images of a Bucha street appear to show several bodies in or just off the road where Ukraine officials have accused the Russians of killing civilians.

The photographs, taken in mid-March by Maxar Technologies, seem to rebut Russian assertions that the bodies in civilian clothing appeared after its forces had retreated.

“High-resolution Maxar satellite imagery collected over Bucha, Ukraine (northwest of Kyiv) verifies and corroborates recent social media videos and photos that reveal bodies lying in the streets and left out in the open for weeks,” Maxar Technologies spokesman Stephen Wood said in a statement, according to the AFP news agency.

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 4, 2022 shows a view of Yablonska Street in Bucha, Ukraine, on March 19, 2022.
This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 4 shows a view of Yablonska Street in Bucha, Ukraine, on March 19, 2022 [Maxar Technologies/AFP]

‘No place for Russia’ on UN Human Rights Council: Kuleba

Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says he has been speaking to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the security situation in the country and “the Bucha massacre”, and stressed that Ukraine would use “all available UN mechanisms” to gather evidence of what happened and hold Russia to account.

There can be “no place for Russia on the UN Human Rights Council”, Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Canada’s Trudeau promises to hold ‘Putin and his enablers’ accountable

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government will not “spare any effort” to make sure violations of international law in Ukraine are investigated.

In a tweet, Trudeau also said Ottawa would continue to hold Putin accountable, pointing to new sanctions targeting nine Russian and nine Belarusian officials that it accused of enabling “violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence”.

Investigation in Bucha needs to happen ‘as soon as possible’: UN

UN officials, including Guterres, say there is enough evidence for a war crimes investigation in Bucha, and the UN is working to get investigators there, Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey reported.

“What we’ve been hearing from UN officials is the need for an independent investigation and that was perhaps the overarching call from [Guterres] today,” Saloomey said, adding that they said such a probe must be done “as soon as possible”.

She said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also said that bodies found in the streets of the Ukrainian town “need to be identified” and “investigated for a cause of death”.

Zelenskyy to address UNSC

Zelenskyy says he will address the UNSC on Tuesday and that it is in Kyiv’s interest to have the most open investigation possible into the killing of civilians in Ukraine.

“I would like to emphasise that we are interested in the most complete, transparent investigation, the results of which will be known and explained to the entire international community,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly video address.

He said that in Bucha, where mass graves and bodies were found after Ukraine took the town back from Russian forces, at least 300 civilians have been killed, and he expects that in Borodyanka and other towns the number of casualties may be even higher.

Mariupol ’90 percent destroyed’: Mayor

The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol has been mostly destroyed after being besieged by Russian forces for weeks, Mayor Vadym Boychenko has said.

“Ninety percent of the infrastructure in the city is destroyed and 40 percent is unrecoverable,” Boychenko said during a news conference.

About 130,000 people remained trapped in the city, which is still being pounded by Russian bombardments, he said. Approximately half a million people lived in the city on the coast of the Sea of Azov before the outbreak of the war.

Partially destroyed building
Mayor says 130,000 people are trapped in Mariupol under Russian bombardment [Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Images out of Bucha constitute ‘probable evidence of war crimes’: UK envoy

The killing of large numbers of civilians in Ukraine will be “front and centre” during Tuesday’s UNSC meeting, Britain’s UN ambassador has said.

Barbara Woodward said: “The images that we saw coming out of Bucha over the weekend were harrowing, appalling, probable evidence of war crimes and possibly a genocide”.

She said the UNSC will be briefed by Guterres, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo.

Russia to present ’empirical evidence’ over Bucha: Envoy

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s envoy to the UN, says Russia will present “empirical evidence” to the UNSC that its forces have not been killing civilians in Ukraine and were not involved in events in Bucha.

“We have empirical evidence to support this,” Nebenzya said at a press conference. “We intend to submit them to the Security Council as soon as possible so that the international community is not misled by the false plot of Kyiv and its Western sponsors.”

Why Biden’s release of US oil reserves won’t end pain at the pump

When Biden announced that the US would release more than 180 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum reserve over the next six months, he hailed it as a historic move that would lower fuel prices in the US.

The price at the pump has surged amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, which has led the US and other nations to bar oil and gas imports from Moscow and driven concerns over global energy supplies with inventories low and new production capacity limited.

But while the Ukraine conflict pushes Biden and other world leaders to dip into their stockpiles, experts say the actual effect for consumers will be limited – and higher prices and more disruptions lie ahead.

Read more here.

UNSC to meet on Tuesday

Guterres and other UN officials have condemned reports of atrocities committed in Bucha, but they “haven’t gone as far as the US in declaring Russia guilty of war crimes”, Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey said.

“They have said that there are enough grounds to investigate the possibility of war crimes,” Saloomey reported from UN headquarters in New York City.

“And that is already happening with the International Criminal Court. The Human Rights Council has also authorised a commission of inquiry,” she said, adding that the UNSC is scheduled to hold a meeting on the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday.

10 people killed in Mykolaiv: Ukraine official

​Oleksandr Senkevich, head of the Ukrainian regional administration, has said 10 people, including a child, were killed by shelling in Ukraine’s southern city of Mykolaiv.

“Over today, a total of 10 people have been killed during the shelling and 46 injured,” Senkevich said in a video posted on social media.

Russian forces ‘obviously responsible’ for atrocities in Bucha: Pentagon

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has said that Russian forces are obviously responsible for the atrocities in Bucha.

“I think it’s fairly obvious, not just to us but to the world,” Kirby told a news briefing, acknowledging that it was not yet clear exactly which units were operating in the area.

“Now exactly who – what units, whether they’re contractors or Chechens – I don’t think we’re able to say right now. But we’re certainly not refuting that these atrocities occurred and occurred at the hands of Russians.”

Ukrainian elderly woman
Ukrainian officials said more than 1,550 civilians were evacuated on Monday from Mariupol [Chingis Kondarov/Reuters]

US lays out what it says are Russia’s revised war aims

Russia is revising its war aims and repositioning its forces to capture eastern and southern parts of Ukraine rather than pushing to control the entire country, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

The US national security adviser said Russia’s initial plans of swiftly capturing the capital, Kyiv, failed because Ukrainians “held firm”.

“We assess Russia will focus on defeating Ukrainian forces in the broader Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, which encompasses significantly more territory than Russian proxies already controlled before the new invasion began in late February,” Sullivan said.

US approves potential sale of F-16 aircraft to Bulgaria

The US Department of Defense says it approved the potential sale of up to eight F-16 aircraft and related equipment to Bulgaria, in a deal valued at $1.673bn.

US officials said the agreement was not directly related to Russia’s month-long invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government had asked countries that have Russian-made MiG aircraft – including Bulgaria – to turn them over for use in the fight against Russian forces.

US and its allies mulling additional Russia sanctions: Official

Jake Sullivan says further sanctions against Russian energy are on the table in talks with Washington’s European allies.

The US has already barred imports of Russian oil and gas, while several European nations are moving to ease their dependence on energy supplies from Moscow amid the war in Ukraine.

Sullivan also said the Biden administration would announce fresh military assistance for Ukraine in the coming days.

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

Read all the updates from Monday, April 4 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies