Russian Navy Captain Alexander Shvarts stands in front of an artillery system on the Russian missile cruiser Moskva as it patrols off the coast of Syria in December 2015. —
It is day 50 of the war in Ukraine, as Russian forces are expected to begin a new big offensive in the east of the country after their retreat from the Kyiv region and other parts of the country revealed growing evidence of human rights atrocities.
Despite Moscow’s blanket denials, horrific discoveries of civilian murders, torture and other barbaric acts continue coming to light, with Ukrainian authorities claiming tens of thousands of civilian casualties in Mariupol alone.
Kyiv forces continue to prepare for the renewed assault, while Western nations keep tightening sanctions against Moscow and NATO and condemnations of Vladimir Putin’s actions continue to grow.
Follow Thursday’s events as they unfold in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player above.
Thursday’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 Thursday’s key points:
- 2 Macron declines to use the term ‘genocide’ to describe Russia’s Ukraine war
- 3 Russia accuses Ukraine of border airstrikes
- 4 Putin claims phasing out Russian gas will be ‘painful’
- 5 Ukrainian prisoners freed in swap with Russia.
- 6 France freezes Russian-owned properties
- 7 Russia warns of nuclear deployment if Sweden and Finland join NATO
- 8 Moskva ‘has not sunk’
Russia has threatened a military build-up, should Finland or Sweden join NATO.
The Kremlin admitted its Black Sea Fleet flagship, Moskva, was «heavily damaged» after Odesa region’s governor said the ship was hit by Ukrainian rockets. Moscow has denied claims the ship was sunk.
Kyiv said it’s reached agreement to reopen humanitarian corridors to resume in Mariupol
Mariupol’s mayor claims Russian planes dropped chemical agent on the outskirts of the southern port city on 11 April.
Europe is «still not united enough to make Ukraine much stronger and Russia much weaker,» Slovenian Prime Miniter Janez Janša told Euronews on Thursday.
Joe Biden accused Vladimir Putin of «genocide», stating that the Russian leader is trying to «wipe out» Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin vows Russia’s goals in Ukraine will be achieved as they press on with military action. He said the negotiations were now in a deadlock.
New mass graves were unearthed in Bucha on Wednesday, as Ukrainian authorities state that at least 720 civilians were killed in this and other Kyiv suburbs.
More than 4.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, with millions being displaced internally, mostly in the western parts of the country.
Additionally, 4.8 million of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have been displaced since 24 February, said UNICEF.
Europe ‘still not united enough’ on Ukraine, Slovenian PM tells Euronews
Europe is «still not united enough to make Ukraine much stronger and Russia much weaker,» Slovenian Prime Miniter Janez Janša told Euronews correspondent Anelise Borges on Thursday, stating that the EU needed to send «military aid».
«I think that the European reaction on the Russian aggression was much more united and much stronger than it was expected in the Kremlin,» Janša said but added that it was «not strong enough».
«We have to concentrate on military aid to Ukraine because otherwise, this war will go on,» Janša added.
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Ukrainian parliament votes to call Russian actions ‘genocide’
The Ukrainian Parliament voted on Thursday to recognise the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine as «genocide», according to its Telegram channel.
«Russia’s actions aim to systematically and coherently destroy the Ukrainian people, to deprive them of the right to self-determination and independent development,» states the text voted by a majority of 363 votes.
Macron declines to use the term ‘genocide’ to describe Russia’s Ukraine war
French President Emmanuel Macron declined to use the term «genocide» to describe Russia’s war in Ukraine, arguing against an «escalation of words.»
“The word genocide must be spelt out by jurists, not by politicians,” he said when asked about US President Joe Biden’s use of the term earlier in the week.
Macron added he will do “everything to end this war and stay by the Ukrainians’ side.”
Russia accuses Ukraine of border airstrikes
Authorities in Russia have accused Ukrainian forces of launching airstrikes on the Russin region of Bryansk, which borders Ukraine.
Russia’s Investigative Committee alleged that at least six houses in the village of Klimovo were damaged and seven people, including a toddler, sustained injuries in the attack.
It claimed two Ukrainian military helicopters entered Russia’s air space on Thursday and, “moving at low altitude, acting deliberately, carried out at least six airstrikes on residential buildings in the village of Klimovo,” about 11 kilometres away from the Russian border.
Russia’s report could not be independently verified.
This strike is the latest in a string of allegations of cross-border Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory.
Earlier in April, Ukraine’s top security officials denied that Kyiv was behind an airstrike on an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, 35 miles from the border.
Putin claims phasing out Russian gas will be ‘painful’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that attempts to phase out Russian gas will be «quite painful for the initiators of such policies.»
Speaking on Thursday, he warned Western countries that shifting away from Russian gas would negatively impact their economies.
“There is simply no reasonable replacement for it [Russian gas] in Europe now,” he argued.
Putin said “supplies from other countries that could be sent to Europe, primarily from the United States, would cost consumers many times more.”
This, he added, would “affect people’s standard of living and the competitiveness of the European economy.”
40% of the EU’s natural gas currently comes from Russia.
Ukrainian prisoners freed in swap with Russia.
Thirty Ukrainian prisoners have been released in a prisoner exchange with Russia, Kyiv announced on Thursday.
«On the orders of President Volodymyr Zelensky, a fourth prisoner exchange took place today,» Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Verechtchuk wrote on Telegram. «Five officers and 17 soldiers were exchanged, as well as eight civilians including a woman.»
Our citizens are going home today,» she added.
Five days ago 12 Ukrainian soldiers and 14 civilians were freed by Russian forces in a separate prison exchange.
France freezes Russian-owned properties
The French government says it will freeze 33 properties on the French Riviera, Paris and elsewhere, belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs over the war in Ukraine.
Combined, the properties are estimated to be worth more than half a billion euros.
An opulent chateau overlooking the Mediterranean on the Cap d’Antibes, reportedly belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, is one of the properties.
Frozen properties still belong to their owners and they can continue living in them. But they cannot be sold or rented out.
Nearly 24 billion euros worth of Russian assets has been frozen or seized in France, including three yachts, four transport ships, six helicopters and three artworks, alongside financial assets and properties.
Russia warns of nuclear deployment if Sweden and Finland join NATO
Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that if Finland or Sweden joined NATO, Russia would strengthen its military assets, including nuclear, in the region.
It comes after Finland yesterday said a decision on whether to apply for NATO membership would be made in a matter of «weeks not months», while Sweden is debating the prospect.
Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said in the event of membership, «the borders of the Alliance with Russia would more than double. And these borders, they will have to be defended».
«In this case, there can be no question of a non-nuclear Baltic», he added, also referring to the deployments of infantry and anti-aircraft systems in the northwest of Russia and ships in the Gulf of Finland.
Referring to Finns and Swedes, he said «no one of sane mind (…) can wish for an increase in tensions on his border and to have Iskander (missiles) next to his house, (missiles) hypersonic and ships with nuclear weapons».
Moskva ‘has not sunk’
Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, has not sunk and explosions on board have stopped, Russia’s defence ministry has said.
Earlier Moscow admitted the ship had been «severely damaged».
Ukraine claims it hit Moskva — made infamous during the Snake Island incident earlier in the war — with two missiles causing it «serious damage».
Moscow concedes the ship was damaged without clarifying whether it was hit by Ukrainian missiles. Russia’s defence ministry said «due to a fire, ammunition exploded on board» and that its crew were safely evacuated from the vessel. It added a probe would try to establish the cause of the fire.
Moskva. Credit: Reuters