Ukraine war live: No doubt our goals will be achieved, vows Russia’s president Vladimir Putin

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Vladimir Putin

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The war in Ukraine is now in its seventh week, and taking on a new dimension with growing evidence of human rights atrocities by Russian troops as they retreated from the Kyiv region and other parts of the country.

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.

As Vladimir Putin’s forces are expected to begin a new big offensive on eastern Ukraine, Kyiv forces are digging in, while NATO and the EU promise more weapons to Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Western nations keep tightening sanctions against Moscow.

Follow Tuesday’s events as they unfold in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player above.

06:35

Tuesday’s key points:

    Vladimir Putin vows Russia’s goals in Ukraine will be achieved

    More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol, the southern port city’s mayor claimed.

    Russia’s defence ministry claims dozens of Ukrainian troops were “eliminated” trying to escape the city. 

    More than 4.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.

    Meanwhile, 4.8 million of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have been displaced since 24 February, said UNICEF.

    Ukrainian authorities have accused the Kremlin of drafting a bill to fast-track the adoption of children taken from the occupied areas to Russia, including those who have parents and relatives.

    The Pentagon said Russia is gearing up for an offensive in the eastern Donbas region, moving troops and material toward that area.

    The UK Ministry of Defence echoed the US military predictions, stating that the war might reintensify over the next “two to three weeks”.

    Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said his discussion with Putin was ‘difficult’ on Monday after he became the first EU leader to visit Moscow since the start of the war

    Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45.1% this year because of Russia’s invasion, the World Bank said.

17:39

German president says he’s not wanted in Kyiv

Germany’s president says his Polish counterpart suggested that they travel to Ukraine together with other leaders to show solidarity, but “that apparently wasn’t wanted in Kyiv.”

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s comments Tuesday, during a visit to Poland, came after German newspaper Bild quoted an unidentified Ukrainian diplomat as saying that he’s not welcome in Kyiv at the moment because he had close relations with Russia in the past.

Steinmeier said Polish President Andrzej Duda had suggested that they travel to the Ukrainian capital with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to send “a strong signal of joint European solidarity with Ukraine.” He said he had been prepared to do so.

Steinmeier last week admitted mistakes in policy toward Russia in his previous job as foreign minister.

Steinmeier served twice as ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, most recently from 2013 to 2017, and before that as ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s chief of staff. In that time, Germany pursued dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin and cultivated close energy ties.

(AP)

17:38

Zelenskyy thanks Lithuania for weapons and support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Lithuania for “being the first to give (Ukraine) real help, to give us weapons” in an address to MPs.

“It was a historic manifestation of leadership,” he said. “This is exactly the kind of leadership the whole continent needs now to truly save and uphold common values that are undoubtedly important to Europe.”

He commended Lithuania for ending imports of Russian gas and encouraged other European states to do so.

“Specific deadlines must finally be set for each EU state in order to really abandon or at least significantly limit the consumption of Russian gas, oil, etc.”

“Only then will the Russian leadership come to the conclusion that real peace must be sought.”
 

17:17

More than 870,000 Ukrainians have returned home since the start of the war

More than 870,000 Ukrainians have returned home since the start of the war, including women and children, the Ukrainian border guard service announced on Tuesday.

“Currently, 25,000 to 30,000 Ukrainians a day are returning to their country. Unlike in the early days when it was mostly men, now there are also women, children and the elderly,” said Ukrainian border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko.

On April 3, the Interior Ministry reported 537,000 Ukrainians returned home citing data from the State Border Guard Service.

“They say they see that the situation is safer, especially in the western regions and they can no longer stay abroad, they are ready to return to the country and stay here,” the spokesperson added.

More than 4.6 million Ukrainian refugees have fled their country since the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

(AFP)

16:38

Putin says Russia’s economy has resisted western sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Russian economy has successfully resisted new Western sanctions over Ukraine on a visit to a space launch facility in the far east

Putin argued that the sanctions will backfire against the West. For example, he said that Western restrictions on fertilizer exports from Russia and ally Belarus will drive up global fertilizer prices, eventually leading to food shortages and increased migration flows.

Putin said that “common sense should prevail” and added that the West should “come back to reason and make well-balanced decisions without losing its face.” He contended that “they won’t be able to shut all the doors and windows.”

He argued that new Western restrictions on high-tech exports will encourage Russia to move faster to develop new technologies, opening a “new window of opportunities.”

(AP)

16:18

Ukraine expands war crimes probe around Kyiv

Ukrainian prosecutors are expanding their war crimes investigations in northeastern suburbs of Kyiv after Russian forces withdrew.

Reports of killings of civilians have primarily focused so far on the northwestern suburbs such as Bucha, but the Prosecutor-General’s Office said Tuesday it was also looking into events in the Brovary district, which lies to the northeast.

Russian troops advanced into that area last month before retreating to focus on fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The Prosecutor-General’s Office said the bodies of six civilians had been found with gunshot wounds in a basement in the village of Shevchenkove and that Russian forces were believed to be responsible.

Prosecutors are also investigating an incident in which they allege Russian forces fired on a convoy of civilians trying to leave by car from the village of Peremoha in the Brovary district, killing four people including a 13-year-old boy. In another incident near Bucha, five people were killed, including two children, when a car was fired upon, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors did not say when they believed the incidents occurred.

(AP)

14:46

Russian charged with espionage in Poland

Poland has arrested a Russian citizen and charged him with espionage, a spokesperson for the Polish Minister Coordinator of Special Services said on Tuesday.

Relations between Russia and countries once in the Soviet sphere of influence have long been fraught, but the invasion of Ukraine has increased suspicion about Moscow’s intentions.

The man had been living in Poland for 18 years and carrying out business activity. He was detained on April 6 and will be held in custody for three months, the spokesperson said in a statement.

“The evidence gathered by the Military Counterintelligence Service indicates that the man, instructed by the Russian special services, collected information concerning the military readiness of the Polish Armed Forces and of NATO troops,” he added.

In March, Poland expelled 45 Russian diplomats suspected of working for Russian intelligence, and Moscow retaliated by expelling 45 Polish diplomats this month

(Reuters)

13:26

‘Six civilians found dead in Kyiv basement’

A probe has been launched after six civilians with gunshot wounds were found dead in a Kyiv basement, the Office of the Attorney General in Ukraine said on Telegram.

It happened in Shevchenkove in Kyiv’s suburbs, the statement added.

The office said according to a preliminary investigation, Russian troops had killed them during the occupation. 

12:54

Germany reveals Ukraine refugee numbers

German authorities say that over 330,000 refugees from Ukraine are known to have entered Germany so far.

The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that German federal police have recorded 335,578 people entering since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24. Those who have arrived are overwhelmingly women and children.

The true number of refugees in Germany could be higher, however, since there are no strict controls on the country’s eastern border and Ukrainian citizens can stay up to 90 days in the European Union without a visa. Officials say an unknown number also have moved on to other European countries.

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday put the total number of people who have fled Ukraine at more than 4.6 million, over 2.6 million of whom fled at least initially to Poland.

(AP)

12:18

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