Russia-Ukraine live news: Kyiv focuses on Mariupol evacuations

  • Ukraine hopes to evacuate 6,000 people from Mariupol after reaching a preliminary agreement with Russia on a safe exit route.
  • Ukrainian forces holed up in a steel plant in the southeastern port city warn they are facing their “last days, if not hours” and plead for extraction.
  • Moscow gives Ukrainian troops a new deadline of 11:00 GMT on Wednesday to surrender.
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Western powers have a “moral duty” to send Ukraine more weapons as further arms are delivered.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 56
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Moscow accuses Kyiv of undermining talks

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of reneging on commitments it had made during talks between delegations from Moscow and Kyiv over ending the war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the moves were undermining the negotiations and said the current pace of the discussions left much to be desired.

He added Moscow was awaiting a response from Kyiv after Russia handed a document to the Ukrainian side.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that he believed Russia was banking on strengthening its negotiating positions with its new offensive in Donbas ahead of further discussions between the two sides.

Podolyak added that it was unclear when direct talks might resume.

Russian forces attacking ‘right the way along’ the frontline: AJE correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the city of Kostiantynivka, in the Donetsk region, says Russian forces launched attacks “right the way along” the frontline in Ukraine’s east overnight.

In Donetsk, Moscow’s troops appeared to be attempting a “pincer movement” aimed at surrounding the “strategically important” city of Slovyansk, he said.

“But analysts and the Ukrainians are saying that as of yet the Russians have not managed to get the kind of momentum they need to make serious territorial gains,” Stratford added.

Russian billionaire Oleg Tinkov slams ‘crazy war’ in Ukraine

A Russian billionaire sanctioned by the West over the Ukraine war has denounced Moscow’s “massacre” in its neighbouring country and called on Western leaders to help end the “crazy” conflict.

Oleg Tinkov, 54, said in an Instagram post on Tuesday that 90 percent of Russians were against President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and described Moscow’s army as “s***”.

Read more here.

Ukraine says preliminary agreement reached on Mariupol evacuations

Ukraine has reached a preliminary agreement with Russia on establishing a humanitarian corridor to evacuate women, children and the elderly from Mariupol on Wednesday, the country’s deputy prime minister says.

“Given the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Mariupol, this is where we will focus our efforts today,” Iryna Vereshchuk said in a post on Facebook.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Mariupol DAY 56

European Council chief arrives in Kyiv

European Council chief Charles Michel has arrived in the Ukrainian capital on a surprise visit.

“In Kyiv today. In the heart of a free and democratic Europe,” Michel wrote on his Twitter account, accompanied by a photo taken at a railway station.

Olga Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, welcomed Michel upon arrival.

Ukraine aims to evacuate 6,000 from Mariupol

Ukraine is hoping to send 90 buses to Mariupol to evacuate about 6,000 women, children and elderly people, the city’s mayor has announced on national television.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko, who has left Mariupol, said he hoped a preliminary agreement with Russia on establishing a safe corridor would be firmed up and hold.

He said about 100,000 civilians remained in Mariupol and that tens of thousands had been killed in the Russian siege of the city on the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine army says Russia’s attempts to storm eastern towns unsuccessful

Russia has staged unsuccessful attempts to storm the towns of Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk in the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, the Ukrainian General Staff of the Armed Forces has said.

“After the storming attempts by the Russian occupiers in Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk, 130 injured soldiers of the enemy were admitted to the local hospital in Novoaidar,” the general staff said in its situation report.

In addition, the Ukrainian military leadership reported Russian attacks near the small town of Izyum in the Kharkiv region and heavy fighting around several other areas, including the town of Kreminna, which Moscow’s forces reportedly captured on Tuesday.

Russian military vehicles
Russian military vehicles move on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol [File: Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

Growing majority of Swedes back joining NATO

A growing majority of Swedes are in favour of joining NATO, a poll has shown, as policymakers in Sweden and Finland weigh up whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should lead to an end to decades of military neutrality.

The poll by Demoskop and commissioned by the Aftonbladet newspaper showed 57 percent of Swedes now favoured NATO membership, up from 51 percent in March. Those opposed to joining fell to 21 percent from 24 percent, while those who were undecided dipped to 22 percent from 25 percent.

The March poll was the first to show a majority of Swedes in favour of joining NATO.

Finland’s Parliament to discuss joining NATO

Finland’s Parliament is set to hold discussions on the country joining NATO.

An overwhelming majority of Parliament’s 200 members must vote in favour to initiate the process of joining the alliance.

According to Finnish media, about 100 members are currently ready to vote in favour of joining, while 12 parliamentarians are against it. The rest are waiting for the start of the debate to decide on a position.

Norway donates missiles, air defence system to Ukraine

Norway says it has sent its Mistral air defence system and 100 missiles to Ukraine.

Bjørn Arild Gram, the Norwegian defence minister, said the system “is an effective weapon that has been used in the Navy, and which will be of great benefit to Ukraine”.

Mistral is a short-range air defence missile system that can be used from vehicles, surface ships, and helicopters. Norway says it had already planned to phase out the Mistral and move to modern equipment, so this donation will not affect its military supply.

Shelling in Luhansk damages gas pipeline: Official

Russian shelling has damaged a gas pipeline in the city of Novodruzhesk in the Luhansk region, its governor says.

Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces had also opened fire on two residential buildings in two central areas of the city overnight.

Fighting in the Donbas intensifying: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says fighting is intensifying in Ukraine’s Donbas region “as Russian forces seek to break through Ukrainian defences”.

“Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine show their intent to try and disrupt the movement of Ukrainian reinforcements and weaponry to the east of the country,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence briefing.

It added that Russia’s air activity is likely to remain low in northern Ukraine, but that “there is still a risk of precision strikes on priority targets” throughout the country.

Ukraine says fighting continues in Donbas, Russia focused on capturing Mariupol

Ukraine’s military says fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces is continuing in Kreminna in the Luhansk region, Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, and the village of Zelena Dolyna in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Alexander Stupun, a spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces, said shelling also continues in northeastern Kharkiv, which is partially blocked by Russian troops.

However, Russia is focusing its efforts on capturing the city of Mariupol, and taking full control of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, Stupun said. He added Ukraine’s military repelled 10 attacks in the past few days in the two regions.

Local civilians walk past a tank destroyed during heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol.
Local civilians walk past a tank destroyed during heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, April 19, 2022 [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

Russia ‘finds Ukraine military stronghold in Kherson’

The Russian defence ministry says its troops have found the headquarters of a Ukrainian territorial defence unit in the port city of Kherson, according to the RIA news agency.

The ministry was quoted as saying that the facility was located in a school and that it was a regional “stronghold” for the Ukrainian military.

The building was filled with boxes of ammunition, weapons and medicines, RIA said.

It added that Russian soldiers examined the school for mines and explosives and removed all weapons and ammunition.

Kherson was the first big Ukrainian city that Russian forces captured following their invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The Pentagon in late March said Ukrainian forces fought back and that Russia was no longer in full control of the city.

IAEA says Chernobyl nuclear plant has restored ties with state regulator

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the Ukrainian atomic power regulator has reported restoring direct communications with the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after Russian troops left the facility.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told Reuters the development was “very good news”, adding he would lead a team of experts to the plant later this month to carry out a series of assessments.

Russian forces had occupied the defunct power station soon after invading Ukraine but left on March 31.

A Ukrainian soldier stands near a state-run nuclear waste department near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
A Ukrainian soldier stands near a state-run nuclear waste department near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, April 16 [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Marine says Mariupol troops ‘may be facing our last days, if not hours’

A commander for Ukrainian marines fighting in Mariupol has appealed for extraction from their last stronghold in the Azovstal steel factory, saying his forces were “may be facing our last days, if not hours”.

In a Facebook post, Serhiy Voluna from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade said “the enemy is outnumbering us 10 to one”.

“We appeal and plead to all world leaders to help us,” he added. “We ask them to use the procedure of extraction and take us to the territory of a third-party state.”

Conflicting reports of attack on hospital near Mariupol steel plant

A Ukrainian legislator and a soldier have claimed Russian forces have attacked a hospital in Mariupol during their assault on the Azovstal steel plant, but an adviser to the city’s mayor has denied the report.

Serhiy Taruta, a Ukrainian legislator, wrote on Telegram on Tuesday that the hospital had been hit by a “heavy bomb” and that 300 people were trapped under the rubble.

But Petro Andriushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, denied that statement.

The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment later suggested in an interview that the “makeshift hospital” was inside the steelworks.

A journalist at the Economist said he had spoken with Palamar, who confirmed “an air strike on the hospital inside the plant today, with ‘may dead’ and ‘many under rubble’”.

“No exact numbers,” Oliver Carrol wrote on Twitter.

Al Jazeera could not confirm the reports.

Burned vehicles at the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works Metallurgical Plant, as smoke rises from the Metallurgical Combine Azovstal during heavy fighting, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol
Burned vehicles at the destroyed part of the Ilyich Iron and Steel Works Metallurgical Plant, as smoke rises during heavy fighting in Mariupol, Ukraine, April 18, 2022 [Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo]

Ukrainian officials allege chemical attack in Izyum

An adviser to Ukraine’s president has alleged that Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern city of Izyum were attacked with a chemical substance, according to the Ostrov news agency.

Oleksiy Arestovych made the claim while discussing reports that 12 Ukrainian soldiers had developed breathing problems and redness of the eyes after a Russian attack in Izyum, which is in the Kharkiv region.

“The type cannot be determined, because there are no laboratories there that can quickly come running and check. There are no deaths either. But some chemical substance is said to have been applied. All this requires clarification,” Arestovych said in an interview with the former Russian lawyer and politician Mark Feygin on YouTube.

UK to revoke Moscow Stock Exchange’s recognised status

The UK’s tax authority has announced it intends to revoke the Moscow Stock Exchange’s (MOEX) status as a recognised stock exchange in the UK.

This would make investors unable to access certain UK tax benefits in the future when trading securities on MOEX, a government statement said.

It added the move is in response to restrictions the Bank of Russia has placed on foreign investors.

“On 28 February 2022, MOEX banned brokers from selling assets at the instruction of non-residents of Russia, which means that it is no longer operating in line with the normal commercial standards expected of a recognised exchange,” the statement said.

Air raid sirens, more explosions reported in Mykolaiv region

Air raid sirens have been activated in the Mykolaiv region in the last hour, with a local official reporting explosions in the southern area.

“Again explosions in Mykolaiv. Friends, stay away from windows,” Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych wrote on Facebook.

The Mykolaiv region was reportedly under bombardment on Tuesday, with an official saying Russian forces had attacked a hospital in the city of Bashtanka.

“The dialysis department, the emergency department, the operating room without double-glazed windows were destroyed … there are victims,” head of the regional council Anna Zamazeeva wrote on Facebook.

She added there were no deaths and no children had been injured.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify these claims.

West has ‘moral duty’ to send Ukraine more weapons: Zelenskyy

Ukraine’s president says the war in Ukraine would already be over if its army had all the weapons it needed.

“If we had access to all the weapons we need, which our partners have and which are comparable to the weapons used by the Russian Federation, we would have already ended this war,” Zelenskyy said in his night-time address.

He added it was “unfair” his country was still forced to ask for “what its partners have been storing somewhere for years”.

“If they have the ammunition that we need here and now, it is their moral duty first of all to help protect freedom,” he said.

‘Stench of burning bodies’ during Ukraine trip: Irish diplomat

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister has told the UN Security Council that the “stench of burning buildings and bodies” hung in the air during his trip to Ukraine last week.

Simon Coveney said what he saw in the Ukrainian town of Bucha was “profoundly shocking”.

“It now lies in ruins, with the stench of burning buildings and bodies in the air. Hundreds of family homes, shops and other civilian infrastructure: blackened, burned, looted, damaged, destroyed,” he said.

“I’ve been around long enough to know the truth from staged propaganda when I see it. There was nothing fabricated about what I witnessed,” he added.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney speaks during a UNSC meeting, April 19 [John Minchillo/AP Photo]

Ukraine and Russia’s UN envoys weigh in on ceasefire

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, has called on Russia to heed Guterres’s appeal for a four-day “pause” in fighting to allow humanitarian aid and evacuations.

But Russia’s Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said he was “a bit sceptical” about the idea.

“I really don’t know what’s the point of entering in the game with Ukrainians on such issues,” Polyanskiy said, maintaining that Russia has offered to create humanitarian corridors but Ukraine did not use them or misused them.

UN refugee envoy urges end to ‘senseless war’ in Ukraine

Kelly Clements, the UN’s deputy high commissioner for refugees, has urged members of the Security Council to help put an end to Russia’s offensive.

Clements said while the UN has helped more than 2.5 million people in Ukraine so far, including some who were displaced from other parts of the country, “no pile of blankets, no sum of cash, no amount of medicine, is going to halt the death and destruction” in Ukraine.

“So while we will continue our job to deliver aid, we need this council to do its job, too,” she told the Security Council, calling on members “to put aside your differences and find a way to end this horrific and senseless war”.

Russia orders 31 more European diplomats to leave

Russia has said it was expelling 31 diplomats from three European countries in a tit-for-tat move.

The Russian foreign ministry declared 15 diplomats from the Netherlands “persona non grata” and gave them two weeks to leave. Moscow gave the same deadline to Belgian embassy staff over the country’s decision to expel 21 Russian envoys last month.

Belgium’s foreign ministry told the AFP news agency that the measure pinpointed 12 diplomats. Moscow also gave four Austrian diplomats until Sunday to leave.

Western nations to stage walkouts at G20 meeting: Officials

Western nations are preparing to stage coordinated walkouts and other diplomatic snubs to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Washington, DC, officials have said.

Moscow confirmed that Finance Minister Anton Siluanov would lead Russia’s delegation at the talks despite repeated protestations by Western diplomats that they could not go ahead as usual during the war.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to avoid some sessions joined by Russia, an official said, while a French finance ministry official told the Reuters news agency they expected some ministers from G7 countries to leave their seats when their Russian peer was due to speak.

Sappers collecting explosives
Interior ministry sappers collect explosives to detonate them near a minefield, after recent battles at the village of Moshchun close to Kyiv, Ukraine [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Brazil minister condemns war in Ukraine

Brazil’s Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has said his country clearly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but is against economic sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Speaking at an online event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, Guedes said Brazil is a key energy and food security player.

He said the timing is perfect for the country’s accession to the OECD and for the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union to be signed, or else the country will increase exports to Asia and the Middle East.

Biden says he does not know if he will visit Ukraine

Biden has said that he does not know if he will travel to Kyiv.

“The answer is, I don’t know,” Biden said when asked by reporters at an event in New Hampshire whether he would visit the Ukrainian capital.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a CNN interview aired on Sunday that he wanted Biden to visit and expected that he would.

Canada sanctions Putin daughters, sends guns

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will send heavy artillery to Ukraine.

Trudeau says he has been in close contact with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Canada is very responsive to what Ukraine needs. He says there will be more details on the pledge in the days to come.

Ukrainians have “fought like heroes,” Trudeau said.

Biden to announce another large military aid package for Ukraine: Sources

US President Joe Biden is expected to announce within the coming days another military aid package for Ukraine about the same size as the $800m one announced last week, multiple sources familiar with the decision told Reuters.

One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a new package was expected in the coming days that would be roughly the size of the previous package, but details were still being worked out.

EU chief says world leaders to ‘tighten’ Russia sanctions

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, says world leaders have agreed to “tighten [their] sanctions against Russia and step up financial and security assistance for Ukraine”.

She was speaking after a call was convened by US President Joe Biden to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine.

Biden consulted with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, among others.

Russia demands Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol lay down arms

Russia’s defence ministry has issued a new proposal to Ukrainian troops holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, again demanding that they lay down their weapons.

Russian troops will observe a ceasefire in the area of Azovstal while the proposal is in effect, starting at 2pm Moscow time (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Moscow called on Ukrainian forces to “immediately” lay down arms and issued a new ultimatum for them to give up. “We once again call on the Kyiv authorities to show reason and give the corresponding orders to fighters to cease their senseless resistance,” the ministry said.

Ukraine’s military gets more aircraft and parts to repair others: Pentagon

Ukraine’s partners have provided it with additional military aircraft and parts to repair others in Kyiv’s arsenal that were damaged or inoperable, the Pentagon has said.

“They have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them get more aircraft in the air,” Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said during a news briefing, adding that Washington had not provided aircraft to Kyiv.

Russia has lost 25 percent of its combat power: US official

The US estimates that the Russian military has lost about 25 percent of the combat power it sent into Ukraine at the start of the war, a senior US defence official has said.

“When people say the offensive has begun, that’s what they’re referring to, and we’re not pushing back on that notion,” a senior US defence official said.

The official said the Russians are taking actions to improve their ability to sustain combat operations in the Donbas and to “prepare for what we believe will be larger offensives in the future”.

PEN America to honour imprisoned Ukrainian journalist

Vladyslav Yesypenko, a Ukrainian journalist imprisoned in Crimea, has been named this year’s recipient of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.

Yesypenko, a 53-year-old freelance correspondent for Krym.Realii Project, a Crimean radio programme and news source run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was arrested last year and sentenced to six years in a Russian labour camp for alleged possession and transport of explosives.

He has denied the allegations and has said he confessed after being tortured and threatened with death.

“Indomitable reporters like Vladyslav Yesypenko have provided a portal to enable the world to see Russian occupation for what it is, an exercise of force aimed to stifle the will of free people,” Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive officer of PEN America, said in a statement.

Russia eyes construction of oil storage, exporting outlets

Russia is working on a plan to construct oil storage facilities and new exporting outlets, which would help it offset sanctions that have hampered its oil sales, officials have said.

“Some companies have been engaged in such projects and have been implementing it,” Russian Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin told reporters.

Russia has struggled with sales of its crude oil and oil products as sanctions over Ukraine have complicated financing of trade deals and hire vessels, while the US introduced its ban on oil imports from Russia last month.

Russian shelling increasing in Donbas: UK

Russian shelling and attacks on the Donbas line of control continued to increase, but Ukrainian forces managed to repel numerous attempted advances, a UK military update has said.

“Russian shelling and strikes on the Donbas line of control continue to increase, with the Ukrainians repelling numerous attempted advances by Russian forces,” it said.

“Russia’s ability to progress continues to be impacted by the environmental, logistical and technical challenges that have beset them so far, combined with the resilience of the highly-motivated Ukrainian armed forces.”

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

Read all the updates from Tuesday, April 19 here.

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