A woman carries the portrait of Dmytro Stefienko, 32, a civilian killed during the war with Russia, during his funeral in Bucha on 12 April 2022
The war in Ukraine is now in its seventh week, 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 some EU countries promise to keep delivering more weapons to Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Follow Wednesday’s events as they unfold in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player above.
Wednesday’s key points:
The content of the article:
- 1 ‘Match for peace’
- 2 Germany would face recession if it gave up on Russian gas now, experts say
- 3 No humanitarian corridors on Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities say
- 4 Poland, Baltic states leaders to meet with Zelenskyy in Kyiv
- 5 Zelenskyy: evidence of ‘inhumane cruelty’ keeps appearing, ‘world must react’ to chemical weapons use
- 6 Biden labels Russian invasion of Ukraine as ‘genocide’
- 7 Putin’s ally Medvedchuk captured in Ukraine
- 8 Kyiv suburbs death toll keeps rising after Russian retreat
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is addressing Estonian MPs
Leaders of Poland and Baltic trio in Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy. But Germany’s president not with them as planned after being told he wouldn’t be welcome.
Joe Biden accuses 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 talks were deadlocked.
At least 720 civilians were killed in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs, with another 200 missing, Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.
Fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s close ally and the former leader of the main pro-Russian opposition party is reported to have been arrested by the Ukrainian secret service, SBU.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it was ‘concerned’ by an unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use, a spokesperson said.
More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol, the southern port city’s mayor claimed.
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.
‘Match for peace’
Dynamo Kyiv won a charity match against Polish side Legia Warsaw on Tuesday evening, the latest match in a tour aimed at raising money for Ukrainians and highlighting Russia’s invasion.
The next match will be against Galatasaray on Thursday.
Germany would face recession if it gave up on Russian gas now, experts say
Germany would plunge into recession in 2023 if Russian gas supplies were to be cut off immediately in the wake of the war in Ukraine, Germany’s leading economic forecasting institutes said on Wednesday.
In 2023, the GDP of Europe’s largest economy would fall by 2.2% if gas supplies were stopped, on which Germany is particularly dependent, six influential organisations (DIW, IFO, IfW, IWH and RWI) concluded.
The cumulative GDP loss over 2022 and 2023 would amount to about 220 billion euros, they said.
The authorities in Ukraine decided not to operate the humanitarian corridors on Wednesday due to concerns for the safety of civilians, Minister of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.
The decision was made after the Russian troops “blocked evacuation buses in the Zaporizhzhia region and have broken the ceasefire agreement in the Luhansk region,” she explained.
She added that the Moscow forces “not only ignore international humanitarian laws, but are also incapable of controlling their own personnel on the ground.”
“We will continue working on ensuring the re-opening of humanitarian corridors as soon as possible,” Vereshchuk stated.
Poland, Baltic states leaders to meet with Zelenskyy in Kyiv
The presidents of Poland and the three Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — are travelling to Kyiv on Wednesday in order to meet with their Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“We are visiting Ukraine to show strong support to the Ukrainian people, will meet dear friend President Zelenskyy,“ Estonian President Alar Karis said in a post on Twitter.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a tweet that he is coming to the Ukrainian capital with “a strong message of political support and military assistance”.
“Lithuania will continue backing Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty and freedom,” he stated.
Zelenskyy: evidence of ‘inhumane cruelty’ keeps appearing, ‘world must react’ to chemical weapons use
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that evidence of further war crimes continues to come in after the Russian troops’ retreat.
In addition to the killings in Bucha, more evidence was appearing of the “inhuman cruelty” of Russian soldiers toward women and children in other Kyiv suburbs and other towns in the north and east.
He also made an appeal asking the international community to respond to Russia’s use of a poisonous substance in Mariupol.
“Given the repeated threats by Russian propagandists to use chemical weapons against the Mariupol defenders and given the repeated use by the Russian army, for example, of phosphorus munitions in Ukraine, the world must react now,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation Tuesday.
Phosphorus munitions cause horrendous burns but are not classed as chemical weapons.
Zelenskyy said experts were still trying to determine what had been used in Mariupol.
Biden labels Russian invasion of Ukraine as ‘genocide’
President Joe Biden on Tuesday said that Russia’s war in Ukraine amounted to a “genocide,” accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian”.
Speaking in Iowa shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington, Biden said he meant it when he said that Putin was carrying out a genocide against Ukraine at an earlier event.
“Yes, I called it genocide,” he told reporters. “It’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”
Biden added that it would be up to lawyers to decide if Russia’s conduct met the international standard for genocide but said, “it sure seems that way to me”.
“More evidence is coming out literally of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine and we’re only going to learn more and more about the devastation and let the lawyers decide internationally whether or not it qualifies,” Biden said.
Putin’s ally Medvedchuk captured in Ukraine
Ukrainian officials say fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk — both the former leader of a pro-Russian opposition party and a close associate of Russian leader Vladimir Putin — has been detained in a special operation carried out by the country’s SBU secret service.
In his nightly video address to the nation Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy proposed that Russia could win Medvedchuk’s freedom by trading Ukrainians now held in Russian prisons.
Earlier on Tuesday, Zelenskyy posted on social media a photo of Medvedchuk sitting in handcuffs and wearing a camouflage uniform with a Ukrainian flag patch.
Medvedchuk was the former leader of the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform – For Life. He was held under house arrest before the war began and disappeared shortly after hostilities broke out.
Putin is the godfather to Medvedchuk’s youngest daughter.
Kyiv suburbs death toll keeps rising after Russian retreat
More than 720 people have been killed in Bucha and other Kyiv suburbs that were occupied by Russian troops and more than 200 are considered missing, the Interior Ministry said on early Wednesday.
Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said 403 bodies had been found in Bucha so far, while the toll could rise as the search for mines and other undetonated devices continues.
Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said on Tuesday it was also looking into events in the Brovary district, which lies to the northeast.
Authorities said the bodies of six civilians were found with gunshot wounds in a basement in the village of Shevchenkove and Russian forces are believed to be responsible.