Satellite images appear to show mass graves in Manhush, outside Mariupol
Russian state media has claimed that the sinking of the Black Sea warship Moskva left one sailor dead and 27 missing.
The RIA news agency cited the Russian defense ministry, which also said that 396 members of the crew have been rescued.
Moscow claims the Black Sea flagship sank last week after a fire lead to an ammunition explosion but Ukraine said it took down the ship using missiles. The US has rejected Russia’s account, citing military intelligence.
Earlier, Vladimir Putin had a 90-minute phone call with European Council president Charles Michel in which he reportedly said he was prepared to hold direct peace talks with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky if they can produce concrete results. Mr Zelensky yesterday ruled out traveling to Moscow for peace talks.
Meanwhile, a Russian military official was quoted by Russian state media as saying Moscow intends to take full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine in order to form a land corridor with routes to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which Russia annexed in 2014, and a breakaway region of Moldova.
#ICYMI Russia could still win in Ukraine, west warns as officials prepare for months more fighting
Russia could still claim victory in Ukraine despite failing in its original objectives for its invasion, western officials said.
The west is preparing to support Ukraine for many months to come, even for the rest of the year, as Vladimir Putin continues to “redefine” what would be a “win” for him, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
When the Russian president’s troops invaded Ukraine on 24 February, their aim was to seize Kyiv. But they failed to achieve that goal and recently refocused efforts on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, after having suffered set-backs in the form of huge logistical challenges and strong Ukrainian resistance.
Russia is set to mark Victory Day on 9 May, when it commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany, and the date is seen as significant with analysts suggesting Mr Putin may make an announcement about the Ukraine war then.
Liam James23 April 2022 01:20
Key points from Friday
- A Russian general said Moscow now aims to take control of all of southern and eastern Ukraine
- Russia claimed the sinking of its Black Sea flagship Moskva last week left one sailor dead and 27 missing
- A safe route for civilians out of Mariupol may finally open on Saturday, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said
- Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of being ‘inconsistent’ in negotiations
- Western officials said Russia could still claim victory in Ukraine despite failing in its original objectives
- UN secretary general Antonio Guterres is set to meet Vladimir Putin on Tuesday
Liam JamesApril 23, 2022 00:00
Safe route out of Mariupol ‘may be opened on Saturday’
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Friday said “there is a possibility” a humanitarian corridor out of the besieged port city of Mariupol could be opened up on Saturday.
“Watch the official announcements tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I will confirm,” she said in an online address to people waiting to be evacuated.
More than 100,000 people – down from a pre-war population of about 430,000 – are believed trapped in the city with little food, water or heat, and more than 20,000 civilians have been killed in the nearly two-month siege, according to Ukrainian authorities .
Repeated attempts to evacuate civilians from the city have failed because of what the Ukrainians said was continued Russian shelling
Around 1,000 civilians are thought to be hiding in the Azovstal steel plant, the last foothold of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined city.
An estimated 2,000 Ukrainian troops are also holed up in the vast industrial complex that Vladimir Putin yesterday ordered his forced to blockade.
Russia has faced new accusations of war crimes after satellite imagery revealed what appeared to be hundreds of mass graves near Mariupol which the city’s mayor said were being used to bury civilians.
Liam James22 April 2022 23:11
Russia moved units from Mariupol, says Ukraine
Russia shifted a dozen crack military units from the shattered port of Mariupol to eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities said.
Some 12 to 14 of Russia’s elite military units have left Mariupol and begun moving to the east to take part in the fighting in the area Russia has declared the new, main theater of war, said Oleksy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council .
“It will now be difficult for our forces, because our guys in Mariupol were taking (those units) on themselves. It is their courage and feat,” he said.
The Kremlin has thrown over 100,000 troops and mercenaries from Syria and Libya into the fight in Ukraine and is deploying more forces in the country every day, Mr Danilov said.
“We have a difficult situation, but our army is defending our state,” he said.
Numerous cities and villages came under bombardment in the Donbas as well as in the Kharkiv region just to the northwest, and in the south, authorities said.
Liam James22 April 2022 22:15
OnlyFans stops supporting Russian accounts amid payment problems
OnlyFans said it has temporarily stopped services for Russian accounts.
The subscription platform – best known for allowing users to pay for access to adult and sexual content, though used by other creators too – said that it was having problems processing payments on behalf of those accounts.
Until now, UK-based OnlyFans has been one of only a few notable Western tech companies that have continued operating in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
And the latest restrictions appear to be driven by technical issues rather than a policy decision to leave the country.
Liam James22 April 2022 21:45
UK offers tanks to Poland in bid to help Ukraine as Boris Johnson reopens Kyiv embassy
Britain could send tanks to Poland so that Warsaw can supply Ukraine with its own Soviet-era armored vehicles, Boris Johnson said on Friday as a Russian general said Moscow wanted full control of southern Ukraine (Andrew Woodcock writes).
The prime minister set out plans for a new long-term “security guarantee” for Ukraine after the end of the war, which would stop short of Nato membership, but be tough enough to deter Moscow from a repeat invasion.
The guarantee would “make sure their territory is so fortified as to be impregnable”, said the PM.
But it would not replicate Nato’s Article 5 principle, that an attack on one member is an attack on all, depriving Kyiv of the shield of Western military engagement in the event of any future assault.
Liam James22 April 2022 21:20
‘Moskva’ sinking left one soldier dead and 27 missing – Russian media
Russian state media reports that one sailor died and 27 more are missing after the Russian missile cruiser Moskva sank last week, while 396 other crew members were rescued.
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.
The Russian state-owned RIA agency today quoted the Russian defense ministry as saying: “As a result of a fire on April 13, the Moskva missile cruiser was seriously damaged due to the detonation of ammunition.
“Attempts by the crew to extinguish the fire did not lead to results. During the fight for the ship’s damage, one serviceman was killed, another 27 crew members were missing.”
Independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta Europe earlier reported that at least 40 people were killed and others are still missing.
The sinking of Moskvacrucial warship came as a massive blow to the Russian military, which has been struggling against fierce Ukrainian resistance throughout the invasion.
Liam James22 April 2022 20:50
Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘imperialism’ after general’s land grab remark
Ukraine said Moscow had clear imperialist intentions after a Russian general said full control over southern and eastern Ukraine was a goal of Russia’s invasion.
Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district, was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying Moscow intends to take full control of southern Ukraine and the eastern Donbas region.
The general said the aim was to form a land corridor granting Russia direct access to a breakaway, Russian-occupied part of Moldova in the west.
That would cut off Ukraine’s entire coastline and mean pushing hundreds of miles west beyond current lines, past the major Ukrainian cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa. It is a huge change in Russia’s stated aims in the invasion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment when asked if Russia had expanded the goals of its operation and how Moscow saw the political future of southern Ukraine.
Liam JamesApril 22, 2022, 8:23 p.m.
Mariupol yet to fall despite Russian claims – Pentagon
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said assessments show Ukrainian troops are still contesting the southern city of Mariupol despite Vladimir Putin’s claim of victory there.
Mr Putin on Thursday ordered his troops not to storm a giant Mariupol steel mill where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainians remain holed up but to seal it off – in an apparent bid to free up his troops for the broader campaign in the east.
Mr Kirby said the reason behind the Russian president’s order was “unclear” and that his words need to be viewed with skepticism.
“They made this big show yesterday of him saying he wasn’t gonna go into that plant and try to eradicate the people that are there,” Kirby told CNN on Friday.
“I think we have to watch and see what the Russians actually do here. What we would tell you this morning is that we still assess that Mariupol is contested, that it hasn’t been taken by the Russians and that there’s still an active Ukrainian resistance. So they continue to fight for that city.”
Liam James22 April 2022 19:48
Moldova condemns Russia’s plan for a land corridor to Transnistria
Moldova’s government strongly criticized comments made today by a Russian military official suggesting Moscow’s aim was to take control of not just eastern Ukraine but southern Ukraine as well.
Russian official Rustam Minnekayev said at a defense industry event earlier that broader control of Ukraine would open the way to Moldova, where Russia backs the breakaway region of Transnistria.
Moldova’s government on Friday called Rustam Minnekayev’s comments “not only unacceptable but also unfounded.” The statement added that his words will “lead to increased tension and mistrust in society.”
Transnistria broke away after a short civil war in the early 1990s and is unrecognized by most countries. An estimated 1,500 Russian soldiers have been stationed there since the civil war.
Fears have grown since the Ukraine invasion that Moldova could be next in Russia’s crosshairs. Moldova is not a member of the European Union or Nato.
The war has prompted Moldovan officials to try to speed up the country’s bid to join the EU, which it applied to do last month. The process, however, will likely take many years.
Liam James22 April 2022 19:20