Ukraine war live updates: Mariupol’s mayor makes Russian chemical attack claim

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Russian troops inspect streets of Mariupol

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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.

06:39

Wednesday’s key points:

    Russia has been accused of dropping a chemical agenton the outskirts of Mariupol on 11 April by the city’s mayor.

    Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Estonian MPs

    Leaders of Poland and Baltic states have met Zelenskyy in Kyiv, with some pledging more military support 

    Germany’s government has defended their president after he was told he wasn’t welcome at the Kyiv meeting

    The UK has slapped more sanctions on Russia, saying it will target those who ‘aid and abet Putin’s war.’

    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.

    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.

18:21

$7 billion Abramovich-linked assets frozen

Assets connected to the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have been frozen in the Channel Island of Jersey. 

They are estimated to be worth more than $7 billion (€6.4 billion).

The Law Offices Department of Jersey, a self-governing British crown dependency, said on Wednesday that the assets being targeted were either located in Jersey, or owned by Jersey-incorporated entities. 

It also said that police executed a search warrant on Tuesday at an address suspected to be connected to Abramovich’s business activities. 

No further details were provided. 

Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea FC, has been sanctioned by the UK and EU due to his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

16:40

UK slaps new sanctions on Russia 

The UK has announced more sanctions on Russia related to the country’s war in Ukraine. 

Some 178 individuals, who are key figures in the Kremlin-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, have been targeted by the sanctions. 

Among those sanctioned are Alexander Ananchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, and Sergey Kozlov, chair of government in the Luhansk People’s Republic.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the sanctions were being coordinated with the EU, and come after rocket attacks struck civilians in eastern Ukraine. 

Truss says the UK was sanctioning “those who prop up the illegal breakaway regions and are complicit in atrocities against the Ukrainian people.

“We will continue to target all those who aid and abet Putin’s war,” she added. 

(AP)

16:03

Latvia to give drone training to Ukrainians 

Latvia says it will train Ukrainian soldiers to use drones against Russia. 

“We must do everything we can to promote Ukraine’s victory and to defend its principles of self-determination and sovereignty,” said the country’s Defence Minister Artis Pabriks.

Unmanned aerial vehicles were delivered by two Latvian companies he added. 

Latvia has already given Ukraine powerful Stinger anti-air systems, alongside personal equipment, food supplies, ammunition, and anti-tank weaponry, totalling more than €200 million ($216 million).

(AP)

13:59

Mariupol mayor makes chemical attack claim

Vadym Boichenko, mayor of Mariupol, has claimed Russian planes dropped a chemical agent in towns and villages on the outskirts of the besieged city. 

Speaking at an online press conference, he said the attack occurred on 11 April. 

“They sensed a sweet taste in their mouths in the towns and villages around Mariupol,” said Boichenko, referring to the locals affected. “They started fleeing because they sensed danger.”

Boichenko also claimed Russia was carrying out a genocide of Mariupol’s Ukrainian population.

Euronews cannot independently verify these claims.

Click to listen to Boichenko’s press conference in full.

13:22

Polish and Baltic presidents arrive in Kyiv

A top aide to Poland’s President Andrzej Duda says Duda and the presidents of the three Baltic nations have arrived in Ukraine, ahead of talks about material aid for the country.

Pawel Szrot, chief of Duda’s staff, said Wednesday that Duda, “together with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, is currently on the territory of Ukraine. They are travelling to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.”

For security reasons, he gave no details.

Duda brings “symbolic support, with political support and for talks on material support,“ Szrot said, adding that all four countries are “extending support to Ukraine that is of humanitarian nature and not necessarily of humanitarian nature.”

These countries, all of which border Russia or its exclave of Kaliningrad, have been providing Ukraine with weapons that they call “defensive”.

Pictures of the four presidents getting on a train have been posted on their social media.

In a Twitter post, Estonian President Alar Karis said: “We are visiting Ukraine to show strong support to the Ukrainian people, will meet dear friend President Zelenskyy.“

(AP)

13:05

Finland to make NATO decision in ‘weeks rather than months’

Finland will make a decision on whether to apply for NATO membership in “weeks rather than months”, its prime minister has said. 

Sanna Marin, speaking on Wednesday lunchtime, said she was keen to build a consensus within the Finnish parliament. 

She emphasised there was no fixed timetable but that “everything had changed with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

Read more here

11:49

11:33

‘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.

10:25

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.

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