Damaged Ukrainian Army military trucks are parked at the Illich Iron & Steel Works Metallurgical Plant in Mariupol, 16 April 2022 —
Russian forces are expected to begin a new big offensive in the east of Ukraine after their retreat from the capital region and other parts of the country.
It comes as Kyiv continues to call for tighter Western nations against Moscow and more weapons to repel Putin’s forces.
Follow Monday’s events as they unfold in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player above.
Monday’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 Monday’s key points:
- 2 Azovstal factory under ‘heavy bombardment’, Mariupol authorities claim
- 3 Ukraine rejects Serbian president’s claims of bomb threats against national air company
- 4 Russia seen adding forces in eastern and southern Ukraine, US defence official claims
- 5 EU condemns bombardment of civilians, demands end of hostilities
- 6 Putin honours unit blamed for Bucha atrocities
- Multiple missiles have struck the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, killing seven and wounding 11, says the city’s governor.Surrounded Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol were still resistingRussian forces on Monday, with Zelenskyy accusing Russia of trying to ‘destroy the Donbas’.Mariupol has been effectively wiped off the map, says Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Evacuations of civilians trapped in combat areas have been postponed for the second day running. Several casualties have been reported in a new rocket attack on Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine.Zelenskyy has submitted Ukraine’s answers to the European Commission’s questionnaire — a necessary step towards being given candidate country status by Brussels.Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that it had bombed a military factory at Brovary on the outskirts of Kyiv, as Moscow intensifies its attacks on the Ukrainian capital.Ukrainian authorities announced the suspension of humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from eastern Ukraine on Sunday, due to the lack of an agreement with the Russian army on a ceasefire.Bulgaria has banned ships sailing under the Russian flag from entering its Black Sea ports as part of expanded EU sanctions, authorities said on Sunday.Russia imposed travel bans on UK PM Boris Johnson and several other leading politicians.4.9 million Ukrainians have now fled the country, says the UN.
The Russian forces have conducted heavy bomb sorties on the Azovstal iron and steelworks factory, Mariupol city council stated.
Footage shared on Telegram on Mondayshows a large cloud of smoke billowing from what is purported to be the northern section of the large complex said to be housing the remaining Ukrainian forces, as well as up to 1,000 civilians who sought shelter there.
There were no reports of casualties or damage at this time.
Ukraine rejects Serbian president’s claims of bomb threats against national air company
Ukraine rejected as baseless and false the accusations made by Serbia’s president that Ukraine’s secret service is behind a series of hoax bomb threats against Air Serbia flights to Russia.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has claimed that the foreign intelligence services of Ukraine and an unidentified European Union nation are responsible.
The pro-Russian Serbian leader, who has repeatedly rejected to comment on the war in Ukraine, did not provide evidence for his claim.
Other Serbian officials alleged that the threats were being sent from Ukraine or Poland. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nilolenko on Monday called the allegations false.
The Serbian national carrier is the only European airline — besides Turkish air companies — that has not joined EU flight sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia seen adding forces in eastern and southern Ukraine, US defence official claims
The Pentagon says Russia has added artillery, ground combat forces and other capabilities in recent days ahead of a new ground offensive in the Donbas region in Ukraine.
A senior US defence official said the number of combat units known as battalion tactical groups in eastern and southern Ukraine has grown to 76 from 65 last week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.
It’s difficult to know at this stage of the war, but that could add up to 50,000 to 60,000 Russian troops, depending on how developed the groups are.
The official said that if Russian forces succeed in fully controlling the southern port of Mariupol it could free up nearly a dozen battalion-sized tactical groups for use elsewhere in the Donbas region.
EU condemns bombardment of civilians, demands end of hostilities
The European Union on Monday condemned Russia’s indiscriminate and illegal missile strikes and shelling of civilians in Ukraine and denounced them as war crimes.
«The EU condemns the continued indiscriminate and illegal bombing of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Russian armed forces,» EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement issued in Brussels after the strikes on the western city of Lviv.
There can be no impunity for war crimes,» he added, praising the Ukrainian people for their «strength, courage and resilience in the face of Russian aggression».
Five «powerful» Russian strikes hit Lviv on Monday, killing seven people and wounding eight others, according to official authorities.
Close to the Polish border, Lviv has become a «refugee city» for displaced people but also for several Western embassies.
«The attacks on Lviv and other cities in western Ukraine show that no part of the country is spared from the Kremlin’s senseless onslaught,» Josep Borrell said.
«Russia must immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities and withdraw all its military forces and equipment from Ukraine,» he concluded.
Putin honours unit blamed for Bucha atrocities
The Russian president on Monday awarded an honorary title for «heroism» to the 64th Motorised Rifle Brigade, which Ukraine has accused of being involved in human rights abuses and war crimes in Bucha near Kyiv.
The Kremlin said Vladimir Putin had signed a decree granting the brigade the «honorary title of ‘Guard'» because of its men’s «heroism and tenacity, determination and courage».
«The skilful and decisive actions of all [brigade] personnel during the special military operation in Ukraine are a model of military duty, courage, determination and high professionalism,» Putin wrote to the servicemen.
The Kremlin did not say where these men are or have been deployed or specify their missions.
Ukraine has accused the Russian army, and the 64th Brigade in particular, of committing a massacre of civilians in Bucha, discovered after the withdrawal of Russian soldiers on 30 March.
Russia denies this and has accused the Ukrainian authorities and Western media of staging the massacre or the Ukrainian forces committing it to blame Moscow.
Ukrainian officials say Russia preventing humanitarian corridors
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said Russia can be prosecuted for war crimes over its refusal to allow humanitarian corridors for civilians trapped in the city of Mariupol.
Earlier on Monday, Iryna Vereshchuk had said no evacuations were possible for the second day in a row because of Russian attacks on civilian convoys.
“Your refusal to open these humanitarian corridors will in the future be a reason to prosecute all involved for war crimes,” she wrote on her Telegram and Facebook channels.
Vereshchuk called again on Russia to allow safe evacuation of civilians from Mariupol. She said the government had been negotiating passage from Mariupol and Berdyansk, among other towns, as well as from the Luhansk region. The Luhansk government said four civilians trying to flee the region were shot to death by Russian forces.
The Russians, in their turn, have accused the “neo-Nazi nationalists” in Mariupol of hampering the evacuation of civilians from the city.
Greek school welcomes Ukrainian children who fled war
When it was announced that Ukrainian children would join their school in Greece, teachers decided to talk with students about the war and what it means to be a refugee.
«The Greek children offered gifts to their new classmates, paintings and all their love,» said Athina Pirgaki, a teacher at the school in Athens.
Oleksiy and Kostantyn, who are in primary school, fled the Ukrainian city of Kolomyia with their mother six weeks ago, leaving their father behind to fight.
Read the full story here or watch the video below.
Western sanctions ‘failed’, Putin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the «blitz» of Western sanctions on Russia has failed.
Speaking on Monday, Putin said the West “expected to quickly upset [Russia’s] financial-economic situation, provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the banking system and shortages in stores.
«The strategy of economic blitz has failed,» he added.
Putin’s remarks follow a warning this morning by Moscow’s mayor that more than 200,000 jobs could be lost in the Russian capital due to international sanctions.
Putin said on Russian television that the country had so far withstood «unprecedented pressure” from the West.
He claimed the ruble had strengthened since sanctions were imposed and Russia had recorded a historic trade surplus of €53 billion ($58bn) in the first quarter of 2022, although Putin acknowledged that inflation was rising rapidly in the country.
The biggest losers from the sanctions, he argued, were the US and its European allies, who face higher energy prices as a result of their actions, which are causing the cost of living to spiral.
Economists believe that the worst economic impact of Western sanctions is still to come and expect Russia to plunge into a deep recession later in the year.
Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community fights homophobia on the frontlines
«We did not run away. We are not hiding. We are defending,” says Anastasia who has volunteered in the Ukrainian army since Russia invaded in 2014.
She is one member of Ukraine’s LGBTQ+ community who are hoping their participation on the frontlines will erode prejudice.