Ukraine war live: Mariupol evacuation falters, as Russia builds up for new offensive

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Ukraine war live: Mariupol evacuation falters, as Russia builds up for new offensive

A Ukrainian serviceman takes a selfie photograph standing on a destroyed outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 31, 2022   —  

With Russia’s war in Ukraine into its second month, Putin’s forces have continued to pound towns and cities from afar as Moscow’s military offensive stalls in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance.

Millions have fled their homes, creating Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. Thousands of civilians and military personnel have been killed, and the Russian bombardments have left widespread devastation.

The Russian invasion has caused political and shockwaves around the world, deepening the rupture between Moscow and the West.

Follow our Friday blog below for the latest details, or watch Euronews live in the video player above.


Friday’s key points to know: 

    President Putin says «unfriendly» foreign buyers must pay in roubles for Russian gas from Friday, or else contracts will be halted. Germany and France have reiterated that European countries will continue to pay in euros or dollars.The Red Cross will try to evacuate civilians trapped in Mariupol today, after weeks of Russian bombardment but Kyiv says 45 buses it sent to the besieged city were stopped by Russian troops.Zelenskyy: Russians withdrawing from key northern & central areas but building up for a new offensive in the southeast.Australia announced Friday it would send more armoured vehicles to Ukraine to help the war effort.NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said intelligence shows Russian forces are not withdrawing but «repositioning» and regrouping.Russian troops left the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early Friday after returning control to the Ukrainians.


Red Cross: «Not clear» if Mariupol evacuation efforts can continue today

The International Committee of the Red Cross say it’s uncertain whether a planned evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol can go ahead today as planned. 

«There are a lot of moving parts and not all the details are worked out to make sure it happens safely» says Ewan Watson, a Red Cross spokesperson in Geneva.

«It’s not clear yet if it’s going to happen today» he says. 

There are an estimated 100,000 civilians still trapped in the southern port city, which has come under constant Russian bombardment over the last month. Authorities estimate at least 5,000 have been killed in the barrage. 

The Ukrainian government was also trying to evacuate people in a fleet of buses but says most of them got refused entry to the city by Russian troops and supplies of medicine and food were confiscated. 


Japan’s foreign minister heads to Poland to assess refugee needs

Japanese Foreign Minister is heading to Poland on Friday, on a fact-finding mission to assess the needs of refugees from Ukraine who might want to go to Japan.

Yoshimasa Hayashi is on a five-day visit to Europe where he’ll meet with Poland’s PM and international organisations and might even bring back some Ukrainians on his government plane when he returns home. 

“In order to support the Ukrainian people facing the difficulty and to show our solidarity with Ukraine, Japan is pursuing our effort to accept those who fled to a third country,” Hayashi said.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky told reporters Friday that some 300 relatives of Ukrainian residents in Japan have been granted entry, and more arrivals are expected from next week.

Last month the Japanese government launched a taskforce to prepare for accepting Ukrainian war-displaced as part of humanitarian support — a rare move for a country known for its strict and reluctant refugee policy.

Several municipalities, including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Ibaraki and Osaka, have offered to be their host towns and provide support for medical needs, education, jobs and housing.

(Euronews / AP)


Zelenskyy: «We know their intentions» as Russian forces regroup

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy is warning that Russian withdrawals from the north and center of the country over the last few days were just a military tactic to build up forces for new powerful attacks in the southeast.

“We know their intentions,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation. “We know that they are moving away from those areas where we hit them in order to focus on other, very important ones where it may be difficult for us.”

“There will be battles ahead,” he added.

Both Chernihiv and Kyiv have been subjected to continued air and missile strikes despite Russian claims of reducing activity in these areas. There are growing indications Moscow is using its talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country.

A new round of talks between the countries was scheduled Friday, five weeks into a conflict that has left thousands dead and driven fou million Ukrainians from the country.

(Euronews / AP)


Russian troops ‘stopped evacuation buses reaching Mariupol’

The Ukrainian government said Russian forces blocked 45 buses that had been sent to evacuate civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol, and only 631 people were able to get out of the city in private cars.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said late Thursday that 12 Ukrainian buses with humanitarian aid left Melitopol for Mariupol, but the Russian forces stopped the buses and seized the 14 tons of food and medicines.

According to Ukrainian officials, tens of thousands of people have made it out of Mariupol in recent weeks along humanitarian corridors, reducing the prewar population of 430,000 to about 100,000 by last week.

Vereshchuk said about 45,000 Mariupol residents have been forcefully deported to Russia and areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists. 



Ukraine war to take centre stage at tense EU-China summit

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is set to take centre stage during a virtual high-level meeting between EU and Chinese leaders on Friday, that comes on the heels of months of strained relations.

Brussels is bent on pushing Beijing to maintain a hands-off, equidistant approach in the conflict, fearing any sort of intervention could offer the Kremlin a much-needed boost to re-energise its stalled military campaign.

Read more in our story here:

Ukraine war live: Mariupol evacuation falters, as Russia builds up for new offensive

Ukraine war poised to take centre stage at tense EU-China summit


Russia accuses Ukraine of striking an oil depot inside Russian territory

A Russian official accused Ukraine on Friday of carrying out a helicopter attack on an «oil depot» in the western Russian city of Belgorod, some 40 kilometres from the Ukrainian border.

«A fire in an oil depot took place due to an air strike by two Ukrainian army helicopters that entered Russian territory at low altitude,» Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, said on his Telegram account.

In another message, he said firefighters were working to put out the blaze and that two depot employees had been injured. The Russian emergency ministry says 170 rescue workers are working on the fire. 

State-owned Rosneft, which owns the site, told Russian news agencies it had evacuated its staff from the site. 

On Wednesday, explosions occurred at an ammunition depot in the Belgorod region, but the Russian authorities did not clearly explain the cause of the incident.

Belgorod is about 80 kilometres north of Kharkiv, a major Ukrainian city that has been under attack by Russian forces since the start of the Kremlin offensive.



British MoD: Ukrainian forces retake key supply route 

The British Ministry of Defence says Ukrainian forces continue to make modest military gains, retaking several villages and also a key supply route between Kyiv and Chernihiv. 

Read more here: 


Australia sending more armoured vehicles to Ukraine

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his country will send Bushmaster armoured vehicled to Ukraine, after a specific request from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. 

Zelenskyy addressed the Australian Parliament on Thursday and asked for the Australian-made, four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Morrison told reporters the vehicles will be flown over on Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport planes but didn’t say how many would be sent, or when. 

“We’re not just sending our prayers, we are sending our guns, we’re sending our munitions, we’re sending our humanitarian aid, we’re sending all of this, our body armor, all of these things and we’re going to be sending our armored vehicles, our Bushmasters, as well,” Morrison said.

Zelenskyy has been tailoring his message to individual countries through video appeals like the one shown to legislators in the Australian Parliament on Thursday Lawmakers gave him standing ovation at the start and end of his 16-minute address.

During the live speech to Canberra, Zelenskyy also called for tougher sanctions and for Russian vessels to be banned from international ports.

“We need more sanctions against Russia, powerful sanctions until they stop blackmailing other countries with their nuclear missiles,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Zelenskyy specifically asked for Bushmaster vehicles.

“You have very good armed personnel vehicles, Bushmasters, that could help Ukraine substantially, and other pieces of equipment»

(Euronews / AP)


Russian forces leave Chernobyl, hand over to Ukrainians

Russian troops left the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear site early Friday after returning control to the Ukrainians, authorities said.

Ukraine’s state power company, Energoatom, said the pullout at Chernobyl came after soldiers received “significant doses” of radiation from digging trenches in the forest in the exclusion zone around the closed plant. But there was no independent confirmation of that — and experts say there is no evidence at all of any radiation leak that would cause «significant» radiation poisoning at the site. 

The exchange of control happened amid growing indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation in Ukraine as cover to regroup, resupply its forces and redeploy them for a stepped-up offensive in the eastern part of the country.



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