Ukraine war: Russia pours in troops as new offensive in the east of Ukraine ramps up

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Ukraine war: Russia pours in troops as new offensive in the east of Ukraine ramps up

Local civilians walk past a tank destroyed during heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.   —  

Russian forces have continued their new offensive in the east of Ukraine, assaulting cities and towns along a boomerang-shaped front hundreds of miles long.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russian military was throwing everything it has into the battle, which could be pivotal for control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Read more about Wednesday’s events as they unfolded in our blog below.

07:31

Wednesday’s key points:

    Russian troops have poured into eastern Ukraine in what both sides describe as a new phase of the war, a potentially pivotal battle for control of the country’s industrial heartland.

    The Russian military has made fresh demands for the defenders of Mariupol to lay down their arms.

08:13

Desperate plea from Mariupol: We are «maybe facing our last days, if not hours»

A commander in the besieged Azovstal power plant in Mariupol has issued a desperate plea for help, saying his marines were «maybe facing our last days, if not hours».

«The enemy is outnumbering us 10 to one,» Serhiy Volyna from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade said.

«We appeal and plead to all world leaders to help us. We ask them to use the procedure of extraction and take us to the territory of a third-party state.»

Thousands of troops and civilians remain holed up in the plant.

An advisor to the mayor of Mariupol described a «horrible situation» in the encircled complex and reported that up to 2,000 people — mostly women and children — are without «normal» supplies of drinking water, food, and fresh air.

(AFP)

08:03

Russia issues new 2pm deadline for surrender of fighters in Mariupol

The Russian military has made fresh demands for the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol to lay down their arms.

The Russian defence ministry said in a statement that its forces had opened a humanitarian corridor “for the withdrawal of Ukrainian servicemen and militants of nationalist formations” from the Azovstal plant, which covers about 11 square kilometres and is the last major Ukrainian pocket of resistance in Mariupol, a strategic port on the Sea of Azov.

Those withdrawing would need to be fighters ready to voluntarily lay down their arms, as well as civilians, it said.

The ministry added that as of 22:00 Moscow time on April 19, 2022, no one had used the specified corridor.

Further, the statement said that Russia would “once again” offer those fighting the option to lay down their weapons from 2pm (Moscow time) on Wednesday, 20 April.

07:16

Ukraine receives fighter planes and spare parts: Pentagon

Ukraine has received fighter planes and aircraft parts to bolster its air force in the face of Russia’s invasion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, declining to specify the number of aircraft or their origin.

The announcement comes a week after US President Joe Biden unveiled an $800 million military aid package for Kyiv, including heavier equipment such as howitzers, as fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine.

The moves indicate a change in attitude in the West, which had initially refused to provide Ukraine with heavy armaments to avoid action Russia could consider direct involvement in the conflict.

Ukrainian forces «right now have available to them more fixed-wing fighter aircraft than they did two weeks ago,» Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.

(AFP)

07:04

Google denies reports it has made Russian military facilities visible on Maps

Misleading rumours spread on social media that Google Maps had revealed satellite images of Russia’s military infrastructure.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces had claimed on Twitter that «everyone can now see a variety of Russian launchers» after Google «opened access». The rumours were also widely shared by Ukrainian media organisations and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s former spokesperson Iuliia Mendel.

However, a Google spokesperson told Euronews. that they «haven’t made any blurring changes to our satellite imagery in Russia».

Satellite images of military facilities around the world are occasionally blurred or displayed in a lower quality on Google Maps to protect their classified status.

Read the full story here

    06:50

    Russia assaults cities and towns along a boomerang-shaped front hundreds of miles long

    Russian troops poured into Ukraine on Tuesday in a potentially pivotal battle for control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland of coal mines and factories.

    If successful, the Russian offensive in what is known as the Donbas would essentially slice Ukraine in two. In Mariupol, the now-devastated port city in the Donbas, Ukrainian troops said the Russian military was dropping heavy bombs to flatten what was left of a sprawling steel plant and hit a hospital where hundreds were staying.

    Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Moscow’s forces bombarded numerous Ukrainian military sites, including troop concentrations and missile-warhead storage depots, in or near several cities or villages.

    Those claims could not be independently verified.

    In what both sides described as a new phase of the war, the Russian assault began Monday along a front stretching more than 480 kilometres from northeastern Ukraine to the country’s southeast.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russian military was throwing everything it has into the battle, with most of its combat-ready forces now concentrated in Ukraine and just across the border in Russia.

    (AP)

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