Ukraine war live updates: Ukrainian officials prepared to hold negotiations in Mariupol

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A serviceman of Donetsk People's Republic militia walks past damaged during a heavy fighting mosque in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol.

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AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov

Russian attacks have pounded the last Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged port city of Mariupol as the city’s defenders holed up in a steel plant appeared to say they may only have a few days or hours left.

Ukrainian officials called for a “special round of negotiations” in Mariupol without conditions as the West raced to give more weapons to Ukraine as Russia’s offensive intensifies in the east.

Read more about the latest updates from Ukraine as they unfold in our blog below and watch our TV coverage in the video player above.

07:07

Latest updates:

    Ukrainian officials called for a “special round of negotiations” in the besieged port city of Mariupol as the last Ukrainian defenders warned that they may only have days or hours left.

    The Luhansk governor said Russian forces now control 80% of the region, which is one of two regions that make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

    Ukraine says a planned evacuation of civilians from Mariupol did not work as planned, blaming Russia for not holding to a ceasefire despite an agreement on a humanitarian corridor. Efforts will resume on Thursday.

    Russia has tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which Putin says should make its enemies “think twice”.

    European Council President Charles Michel used a trip to Kyiv to affirm the EU’s support for Ukraine.

09:45

Kyiv police find 2 mass graves with civilians

Kyiv regional police said two mass graves with nine bodies were discovered the day before in the city of Borodyanka northwest of the Ukrainian capital.

Head of the Kyiv regional police Andriy Nebytov said two women and a teenager were among the “civilians killed by the Russian occupants.”

“I want to stress that these people are civilians. The Russian military deliberately shot civilians that didn’t put up any resistance and didn’t pose any threat,” Nebytov said, adding that some of the victims were apparently tortured.

All of the bodies were transported to the morgues of the Kyiv region for further forensic study.

(AP)

09:17

Russian forces make ‘minor advances’ in eastern offensive, think tank says

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment of the war in Ukraine that Russian forces “made minor advances in the ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine”.

“Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine secured minor gains in the last 24 hours, taking parts of the key frontline towns of Rubizhne and Popasna,” the institute said overnight.

Their forces made “incremental advances in Mariupol” as they aim to declare victory by 9 May at the latest, the institute added.

08:19

Russia wants ‘significant successes’ before 9 May, UK defence ministry says

In its latest defence intelligence update, the UK defence ministry said Russia “likely desires to demonstrate significant successes ahead of their annual 9th May Victory Day celebrations.”

The UK said this could impact how they attempt to conduct operations ahead of this date, adding that they are advancing from areas in the Donbas towards Kramatorsk.

Russia is using air support to help its offensive in eastern Ukraine and destroy Ukrainian air defence capabilities, the UK defence ministry added.

07:43

Zelenskyy says he discussed EU sanctions with Charles Michel

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had discussed EU sanctions with European Council President Charles Michel who travelled to the country on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian president called for the EU’s sixth round of sanctions to be “truly painful” stating that they must “motivate Russia to seek peace”.

Zelenskyy said the two leaders discussed Ukraine’s “movement towards European integration”.

“This is the historic moment where we can develop maximum speed in joining the EU,” Zelenskyy said.

As part of Michel’s trip to Ukraine, he visited Borodyanka to see alleged atrocities committed by Russian forces. The European Council president said there must be justice for these “war crimes”.

Read more about Charles Michel’s trip to Ukraine here.
 

European Council President Charles Michel, centre, as he is given a tour of the region of Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (Dario Pignatelli/European Council via AP)

07:00

US set to send more military aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden is set to announce plans to send more military aid to Ukraine on Thursday, an official told AP.

Biden is expected to deliver an address on Thursday morning to detail his plans to send more military assistance.

Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said his country will send heavy artillery to Ukraine.

And Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the Netherlands will send more heavy weapons, including armoured vehicles.

06:52

Russian forces now control 80% of Luhansk in Donbas, governor says

The Luhansk governor said Russian forces now control 80% of the region, which is one of two regions that make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

One of Russia’s stated goals is to expand the territory in the Donbas under the control of Moscow-backed separatists.

Before Russia invaded, Ukraine controlled 60% of the Luhansk region.

Serhiy Haidai said the Russians, who renewed their offensive this week in eastern and southern Ukraine, have strengthened their attacks in the Luhansk region.

06:49

Ukrainian officials call for negotiations in Mariupol

Ukrainian officials called for a “special round of negotiations” in the besieged port city of Mariupol as the last Ukrainian defenders warned that they may only have days or hours left.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that negotiators were ready to hold negotiations “without conditions” inside Mariupol to protect its defenders and civilians.

The city has been subject to constant shelling with most of its buildings and infrastructure destroyed.

Podolyak said that Ukraine is ready for talks “to save our guys, Azov, military, civilians, children, the living and the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever.”

There was no immediate response from Russia to Podolyak’s offer.

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