Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, centre, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, centre left, walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
It is day 52 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.
Ukraine has continued to call for tighter Western nations against Moscow and for more weapons to repel Putin’s forces.
Follow Saturday’s events as they unfold in our blog below, and watch our report in the video player above.
Saturday’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 Saturday’s key points:
- 2 Infrastructure damage endangers humanitarian aid delivery
- 3 Ukrainian forces still holding on in Mariupol
- 4 ‘One dead and several hurt’ in Kyiv strikes, says mayor
- 5 Latest on-the-ground reports around Ukraine
- 6 Russia bans Boris Johnson from entering country
- 7 Kyiv still being attacked by Russian missiles, says MP
- 8 Russian and Ukrainian get married in Mexico hoping to enter US
- 9 Ukraine warns of Russian Black Sea threat
- 10 Air strikes hit Lviv region, governor says
- One person was killed and several were wounded in Russian strikes on targets in eastern Kyiv, the city’s mayor says. Russia’s defence ministry claimed its forces struck a military equipment factory in the Ukrainian capital. The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine reported Russian air strikes in the region on Saturday morning. He claims Ukrainian air defences downed four cruise missiles.Russia has banned UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several other leading politicians from entering the country.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that existing sanctions on Russia are “painful” but not yet enough to stop the Russian military. He called for “the democratic world” to ban Russian oil. CIA Director William Burns has said no one “can take lightly” the threat that Russia could use tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons but he has seen no “practical evidence” suggesting it is imminent.Zelenskyy echoed those words, saying the world should be worried about how Putin might react to military setbacks.The Ukrainian president has said about 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed in seven weeks of war with Russia and about 10,000 injured.Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Saturday, including from Mariupol.
Infrastructure damage endangers humanitarian aid delivery
Damage to infrastructure in Russia’s war in Ukraine poses a “significant challenge” to the delivery of humanitarian aid in Ukraine, says the UK Ministry of Defence in its latest intelligence update:
Ukrainian forces still holding on in Mariupol
In besieged Mariupol, scene of the war’s heaviest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe, Russian troops pressed recent advances, hoping to make up for their failure to capture Kyiv by seizing their first big prize of the war.
Reuters journalists in Russian-held parts of the city reached the Ilyich steel works, which Moscow claimed to have captured on Friday, one of two giant metals plants where defenders have held out in underground tunnels and bunkers.
The factory was reduced to a silent ruin of twisted steel and blasted concrete, with no sign of defenders present. Outside, at least half a dozen civilian bodies lay scattered on nearby streets, including a woman in a pink parka and white shoes.
Someone had spraypainted “mined” on a fence by an obliterated filling station forecourt. In a rare sign of life, one red car drove slowly down an otherwise empty street, the word “children” scrawled on a card taped to the windshield.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he discussed the fate of Mariupol in a meeting Friday with the country’s military leaders and the heads of its intelligence agencies.
“The details cannot be made public now, but we are doing everything we can to save our people,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation.
“Russian forces continued to grind down Ukrainian defenses in southwestern and eastern Mariupol, though ISW cannot confirm any major new territorial changes in the past 24 hours,” the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its Friday update. “Ukrainian defenders reported that the situation is “deteriorating” and Russian forces are deploying additional artillery and heavy weapons.”
The ISW said on Twitter that Russian forces had made “slight advances” in Mariupol city centre.
(with Reuters/ AP)
‘One dead and several hurt’ in Kyiv strikes, says mayor
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that one person died and several more were wounded in the Saturday morning airstrikes on the Darnytski district of the capital, as Russian forces resumed scattered attacks on the capital in western Ukraine.
“Our air defence forces are doing everything they can to protect us, but the enemy is insidious and ruthless,” Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.
The attacks, which the Russian Defence Ministry said targeted an armored vehicle plant in the Ukrainian capital, was an explosive reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite Russian forces pivot to the east, where a new offensive is feared.
Klitschko urged Ukrainians not to return to Kyiv just yet in televised remarks Saturday, warning that strikes on the capital are likely continue and its suburbs are rigged with explosives. “We’re not ruling out further strikes on the capital,” Klitschko said. “We can’t prohibit, we can only recommend. If you have the opportunity to stay a little bit longer in the cities where it’s safer, do it.”
The mayor of Kyiv added that because of the mines, Kyiv residents are barred from visiting parks and forests in the northeastern areas that border with liberated territories formerly occupied by Russians.
Latest on-the-ground reports around Ukraine
Russian forces hit an airfield with a missile strike late on Friday in Oleksandriya, a city in Ukraine’s Kirovohrad region, the mayor of the city said on Saturday without mentioning whether there were casualties.
Shelling in the eastern Luhansk region killed one person and wounded three more, the governor said, and also damaged gas pipelines in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
The mayor of Aleksandria, about 300 km southeast of Kyiv, said on Facebook that a Russian missile had hit the city’s airport overnight on Friday into Saturday. He said that the rescue teams were at work but had no immediate word on casualties.
Authorities in the northeastern Kharkiv region said on Friday that 10 people including a seven-month-old baby were killed, and 35 others injured, as Russia attacked buses evacuating residents.
In southeastern Ukraine, nearly 2,900 civilians were evacuated on Friday from besieged Mariupol and Berdyansk to Zaporizhzhia, according to Kyiv.
The Russian defence ministry said on Friday that Russian artillery had caused the death of around 30 “Polish mercenaries” in northeastern Ukraine.
Russia bans Boris Johnson from entering country
Russia announced on Saturday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and several other senior British officials were banned from entering the country, after London imposed sanctions on Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine.
“This measure was taken in response to the unbridled media and political campaign aimed at isolating Russia internationally and creating the conditions for (…) strangling the national economy,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Among the others on the banned list are Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, former Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The ministry’s statement cited “unprecedented hostile actions of the British government, expressed, in particular, in the imposition of sanctions against top officials” in Russia.
“The Russophobic course of action of the British authorities, whose main goal is to stir up negative attitude toward our country, curtailing of bilateral ties in almost all areas are detrimental to the well-being and interests of the residents of Britain. Any sanctions attack will inevitably backfire on their initiators and receive a decisive rebuff,” the statement said.
In mid-March Russia announced a similar travel ban on US President Joe Biden and other US officials. Western countries including the US, the UK and the EU have targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials with sanctions.
On Friday evening, the ministry announced the expulsion of 18 European Union diplomats from Moscow, in retaliation for the bloc’s declaring 19 diplomats from the Russian mission to the EU and to the European Atomic Energy Community persona non-grata.
The European Union said the expulsions were groundless, and that EU diplomats targeted were working in the framework of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.
(AFP and AP)
Kyiv still being attacked by Russian missiles, says MP
Kyiv has been the target of rocket attacks and cruise missiles even though Russian forces have withdrawn from its surrounding region according to Ukrainian MP, Sviatoslav Yurash.
Talking to British broadcaster Sky on Saturday, he said that Russian forces have been using long range weapons and aircrafts to attack from afar.
Yurash said that even though Russian forces were pushed back there was always the threat of them coming back to try and seize the capital.
He warned that Russians were preparing a big attack from the east and that they were determined to prove that the invasion was not in vain.
“Kyiv continues to receive rocket attacks by cruise missiles from Russia, even though we defeated the Russians around Kyiv and pushed them back across the border,” Yurash said.
“They attack from the long range, they attack from aircraft, they have been firing rockets non-stop,” he went on, adding that Ukraine was ready to deal with the threat of Russia trying to retake the capital.
Russian and Ukrainian get married in Mexico hoping to enter US
A Russian man and Ukrainian woman were married in the Mexican border city of Tijuana after they were unable to travel together to the U.S.
Daria Sakhniuk was allowed to enter the U.S. as a Ukrainian refugee but her partner, Semen Bobrovski, was unable to travel there following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They left Ukraine as the war began.
Bobrovski told El Sol de Tijuana that he believed the marriage Thursday would bolster his chances of entering the U.S. with his new wife. The U.S. allows only Russian nationals with family members in the U.S. to enter the country.
“Without it, we won’t be able to cross because, still to the official American government, we are strangers to each other,” he said.
Ukraine warns of Russian Black Sea threat
Ukraine’s military warned on Saturday of the threat from Russian warships armed with sea-launched missiles in the Black Sea.
It claims this suggests it’s more likely that Russia may use them to strike Ukraine’s defence industry and logistics infrastructure.
It also said that Russia’s navy was active in the Sea of Azov to block the port of Mariupol, where ground fighting has intensified as Ukraine said it was trying to break Russia’s siege.
Home to 400,000 people before Russia’s invasion, the southeastern city has been reduced to rubble. Thousands of civilians have died and tens of thousands remain trapped.
The Ukrainian defence ministry says the Russian army has still not completely captured Mariupol.
This follows Thursday’s sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet. The United States believes it was hit by two Ukrainian missiles and that there were Russian casualties.
Air strikes hit Lviv region, governor says
The governor of the Lviv region in western Ukraine reported air strikes in the region on Saturday morning.
Maksym Kozytskyy said on the Telegram messaging app that Russian Su-35 aircraft took off from the Baranovichi airfield in Belarus and carried out missile strikes in Lviv.
Ukraine’s air defense system shot down four cruise missiles, Kozytskyy said.
He didn’t offer any details about possible casualties or damage.
For a summary of Friday’s developments, click here.
Additional sources • Reuters