Emergency workers clear up debris after an airstrike hit a tire shop in the western city of Lviv, Ukraine, Monday April 18, 2022. —
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.
It comes as Ukraine continues to call for tighter Western nations against Moscow and for more weapons to repel Putin’s forces.
For the latest developments, follow our live updates, below.
Monday’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 Monday’s key points:
- 2 Putin honours unit blamed for Bucha atrocities
- 3 More deaths in Kharkiv, as city bombed again
- 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 Sunday, with Zelenskyy accusing Russia of trying to ‘destroy the Donbas’.Mariupol has been effectively wiped off the map, says Ukraine’s foreign minister. 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.Ukraine has completed one part of the European Commission’s questionnaire — a necessary step towards being given candidate country status by Brussels, authorities said.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.
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.
More deaths in Kharkiv, as city bombed again
Further Russian bombardment of Kharkiv has killed at least three people on Monday, local authorities have announced, with humanitarian and residential areas being struck.
This comes a day after Russian rocket strikes hit the northeastern Ukrainian city, killing six and injuring 24 others.
Civilian and humanitarian areas were hit in this morning’s bombing said the regional prosecutor’s office.
A shell fell late Monday morning on a children’s play area in a residential area, killing a man and woman, alongside damaging the surrounding buildings.
Another strike on a humanitarian aid distribution centre on Monday left one dead and six injured, Viktor Zabachta, the director of an emergency medical aid centre claimed.
Heavy explosions and plumes of thick smoke have been reported around the city.
Russian strikes on Sunday in Kharkiv claimed the lives of six people and injured 24 others, said the latest figures from the governor’s office.
With nearly 1.5 million pre-war inhabitants, Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second-largest city. It saw fierce fighting for several days at the outbreak of war but has remained under the control of Ukrainian forces so far.
4.9 million have fled Ukraine, UN says
Nearly five million Ukrainians have fled their country since the country’s war with Russia began, according to figures published by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday.
4,934,415 Ukrainian refugees were recorded by the UNHCR, a number not seen in Europe since the Second World War.
The majority of Ukraine’s refugees have fled to neighbouring Poland, which now hosts nearly 2.8 million.
But Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia and Russia are hosting sizeable numbers of Ukrainian refugees.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates that the number of internally displaced people in Ukraine is far higher, at 7.1 million.
This means in total that more than 12 million people have been forced to leave their homes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
90% of those who have fled Ukraine are women and children, with the Ukrainian government forbidding men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country.
They are legally required to serve in the Ukrainian military, which has restorted to conscription.
“For most women and children, refugees from Ukraine face an increased risk of being victims of sexual exploitation, rape and human trafficking,” UNHCR warned.
“We are on the ground, at border crossings and beyond, taking preventive measures,” it added.
Almost two-thirds of Ukrainian children have been forced to leave their homes, including those still in the country.
Refugees wait in a line after fleeing the war from neighbouring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Thousands turn out for Ukraine rally in Helsinki
Thousands of people took to the streets of the Finnish capital on Monday for a pro-Ukraine rally in the city’s Senate Square.
The event began at noon (11:00 CET) with church bells ringing and continued with prayers on the steps of the city’s Lutheran cathedral and choir performances.
A giant Ukrainian flag was unfurled and many of the people who joined also waved Ukrainian flags in a show of solidarity.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addressed the crowd, saying that more sanctions could be imposed by the EU against Russia. He also said that Finland could also provide more humanitarian aid, and possibly more military assistance too.
«Finland can offer assistance to Ukraine in rebuilding schools, because that is the future of Ukraine,» Haavisto told the crowd.
200,000 jobs at risk in Moscow over sanctions, says mayor
Around 200,000 employees of foreign companies in Moscow could lose their jobs due to international sanctions on Russia, the city’s major has said.
«According to our estimates, about 200,000 people are at risk of losing their jobs,» Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a blog post.
Russian authorities approved a programme to stave off unemployment in the country’s capital last week, worth $41 million (€38m).
Hundred of western companies have announced a suspension of their activities or pulled out from Russia, after Putin invaded the country in February.
Sobyanin said the newly approved program was expected to support more than 58,000 people who have lost their jobs. Around 12,500 of them will undergo retraining, he added.
People in between jobs will be offered to get involved in public works in a number of city organizations, parks and elsewhere, Sobyanin said.
Economists believe that the worst economic impact of debilitating Western sanctions is still to come and expect Russia to plunge into a deep recession.
In April, the World Bank predicted that Ukraine’s economy would shrink by 45.1% this year because of the invasion, which has shut down half of the country’s businesses, choked off imports and exports and damaged a vast amount of critical infrastructure.
People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow’s downtown, Russia, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)