Ukraine war: Authorities urge people in Donbas to evacuate ahead of impending Russian offensive

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Ukraine war: Authorities urge people in Donbas to evacuate ahead of impending Russian offensive

A view of the Mariupol theatre damaged during fighting in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022   —  

Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking on a new dimension with growing evidence of human rights atrocities by Vladimir Putin’s troops, accused of killing civilians in cold blood as they retreated from the Kyiv region.

Despite Moscow denying the accusations, they are fears similar massacres could be discovered in the coming days.

Follow our latest updates from the war in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player, above.


Wednesday’s key points:

    Mariupol City Council claims Russia is trying to hide evidence of civilian deaths by deploying mobile crematoria to burn bodies in the besieged city.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of using hunger as a weapon by targeting food supplies, in a speech to Irish MPs.The US on Wednesday announced that it is sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters.The UK banned all new investment in Russia as part of new sanctions. The EU has promised a fifth round of new sanctions “this week”, hitting the energy sector for the first time. The bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has told the European Parliament that the EU has spent 35 times more on buying Russian fuel since the start of the war than it has given Ukraine in weapons.EU Council President Charles Michel has said EU countries should give asylum to Russian deserters.Zelenskyy told the UN Security Council on Tuesday the Russian military must be brought to justice for war crimes, comparing Russian forces to «terrorists» over the massacre of civilians in Bucha and warning of more atrocities. Russia again offered a blanket denial, telling the UN the atrocities were «staged», a claim debunked by satellite imagery and a catalogue of witness testimony.NATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Wednesday as allies look to step up military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.


Mariupol mayor puts the number of dead at over 5,000

The mayor of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol says over 5,000 civilians have been killed during the monthlong Russian blockade.

Vadym Boichenko said Wednesday that 210 of the dead were children. He said the Russian forces bombed hospitals, including one where 50 people burned to death.

Boichenko said that more than 90% of the city’s infrastructure has been destroyed by the Russian shelling.

The Russian military has besieged the strategic Sea of Azov port, cutting food, water and energy supplies and pummelling it with artillery and air raids.

Capturing the city would allow Russia to secure a continuous land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.



UK charges guard at Berlin embassy with spying for Russia

A security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin has been extradited from Germany and charged with spying for Russia, UK police said Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police force said David Ballantyne Smith, 57, was sent back to Britain on Wednesday. He faces nine charges under the Official Secrets Act related to “the collection and communication of information useful to the Russian state.”

Smith is due to appear in a London court on Thursday,

Police said the alleged offences took place between October 2020 and August 2021, when Smith was arrested by German police at his home in Potsdam, southwest of Berlin.



Red Cross evacuates 1,000 civilians to Zaporizhzhia

«A moment of deeply needed respite. Today, our team (at the International Committee of the Red Cross) led a convoy of over 1,000 civilians to Zaporizhzhia,» they tweeted.

«Those who were part of it had managed to flee Mariupol.»


‘There’s nothing less happening than major war crimes,’ Biden says

US President Joe Biden denounced the killing of civilians in the suburbs of Kyiv as «major war crimes» in a speech on Wednesday.

«Civilians executed in cold blood, bodies dumped into mass graves. A sense of brutality and inhumanity left for all the world to see unapologetically,» Biden said.

«There’s nothing less happening than major war crimes. Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable.»

(with AFP)


EU countries yet to reach agreement on fresh sanctions against Russia 

EU member states are still trying to overcome their differences as they look to approve a fifth round of sanctions against Russia.

The measures proposed by the European Commission yesterday include a ban on coal imports and the closure of European ports to Russian ships.

But according to diplomatic sources, some member states that are more dependent than others on coal, are asking for a three months phase out for existing contracts, rather than an immediate embargo.

For Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, a Greek MEP from the EPP Group, the impact of sanctions in Europe should also be taken into account when considering any punitive measures against Moscow.

«We are faced with an unconscionable war and we need to exert the maximum amount of pressure,» Asimakopoulou told Euronews. «That means sanctions and more sanctions, and whatever it takes.

«At the same time, we have to remember that we are also responsible for our security, our energy sufficiency and security, and our food security. So we cannot jeopardise that.»

Read the full story here.


UN to vote Thursday on suspending Russia from rights council

The UN General Assembly will vote on Thursday on whether to suspend Russia from the UN’s premiere human rights body.

The move was initiated by the United States in response to the discovery of hundreds of bodies after Russian troops withdrew from towns near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, sparking calls for its forces to be tried for war crimes.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the call for Russia to be stripped of its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council in the wake of videos and photos of streets in the town of Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians. The videos and reporting from the town have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions on Russia, which has vehemently denied responsibility.

“We believe that the members of the Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine, and we believe that Russia needs to be held accountable,” Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday. “Russia’s participation on the Human Rights Council is a farce.”



New US sanctions target Putin’s adult daughters

The US on Wednesday announced that it is sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters as part of a new batch of penalties on the country’s political and economic system in retaliation for its “war crimes” in Ukraine.

The US is also imposing toughened “full blocking sanctions” on Russia’s Sberbank and Alfa Bank, two of its largest financial institutions, as well as some Russian state-owned enterprises. President Joe Biden is also signing an executive order to ban new US investment in Russia.

In addition to Putin’s adult daughters, the new sanctions also target the family of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

The US actions are set to be imposed in concert with toughened sanctions by its European allies.



UK imposes fifth round of sanctions on Russia

The UK will sanction Russia’s largest bank and end all new UK outward investment in the country as part of new sanctions, the foreign, commonwealth and development office announced on Wednesday.

UK investment in Russia was worth over £11 billion (€13.2 billion) in 2020, the government said.

In addition, the UK will end all imports of Russian coal and oil by end of 2022, the government said.

This is the fifth package of measures announced by the United Kingdom since the beginning of the war.

«Our latest wave of measures will bring an end to the UK’s imports of Russian energy and sanction yet more individuals and businesses, decimating Putin’s war machine,» said UK foreign secretary Liz Truss.

They will also target an additional eight oligarchs.


Bucha claims a ‘crude and cynical provocation’, says Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called the discovery of civilian bodies in the city of Bucha after the withdrawal of Russian forces a «crude and cynical provocation» by Ukrainian authorities.

This is Putin’s first reaction to the case, which has sparked international outrage and sparked Kyiv to accuse Moscow of war crimes and genocide.

In a call with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Putin referred in particular to «the crude and cynical provocation on the part of the Kyiv regime in the city of Bucha,» according to a Kremlin statement.

For a summary of Tuesday’s developments, please click here.

Additional sources • Reuters


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