Ukraine war: More than 10,000 civilians killed in Mariupol, mayor says

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In this satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC, a Ukrainian naval vessel and a nearby building burn in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022

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Credit: AP

The war is now in its seventh week, with Russian forces now concentrating their offensive on eastern Ukraine, after retreating from the capital Kyiv.

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

06:43

Monday’s key points:

    Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy says “tens of thousands of civilians” must have been killed in Mariupol.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. In a video address, Zelenskyy says Ukrainians still want peace, despite the atrocities of war they have witnessed. Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 45.1% this year because of Russia’s invasion, the World Bank said.Russia has appointed a new Ukraine war commander, General Alexander Dvornikov, a veteran of the Russian campaign in Syria.

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

    Britain’s Ministry of Defence says Russia needs to boost troop numbers with extra recruitment, due to mounting losses in the war. 

20:50

More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol, mayor says

More than 10,000 civilians have died in the southeastern port city of Mariupol since the war began in late February, the city’s mayor told The Associated Press.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko said corpses were “carpeted through the streets of our city” and that the death toll could be more than 20,000.

Boychenko also repeated claims that Russian forces have brought mobile crematoria to the city to dispose of the bodies and accused Russian forces of refusing to allow humanitarian convoys into the city in an attempt to disguise the carnage.

The mayor had previously claimed 5,000 dead. He explained that these data were on March 21, but “thousands more people were lying on the streets, it was just impossible for us to collect them.”

(AP)

20:48

French bank ends business in Russia

Société Génerale has announced it is ending its Russian activities — making it the first big Western bank to announce it’s quitting Russia.

SocGen is also selling its entire stake in Rosbank to a company linked to a Russian oligarch, costing the French bank some 3 billion euros.

Rosbank is a heavyweight in the Russian banking sector, and Société Génerale was the majority shareholder.

“After several weeks of intensive work,” the bank said in a statement, it had signed an agreement with Russian investment fund Interros Capital to sell all of its stake in Rosbank as well as its insurance subsidiaries in Russia.

Interros is one of the largest funds in the country, which holds assets in heavy industry and metallurgy.

(AP)

20:35

France declares six Russian diplomats ‘persona non grata’

France’s foreign affairs ministry said after an intelligence investigation, six Russian diplomats would be expelled from the country.

The ministry said in a statement that the diplomats’ activities were “revealed to be contrary to our national interest.”

“In the absence of the Russian ambassador, the deputy was summoned to the Quai d’Orsay this evening,” France’s foreign affairs ministry added.

19:53

Italy to import more natural gas from Algeria

Italian PM Mario Draghi secured a deal Monday for more natural gas imports across a Mediterranean pipeline from Algeria, in the latest push by a European Union nation to reduce dependence on Russian energy following its invasion of Ukraine.

Draghi told reporters in the Algerian capital after meeting with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune that an agreement to intensify bilateral cooperation in the energy sector along with the deal to export more gas to Italy “are a significant response to the strategic goal” of quickly replacing Russian energy.

Russia is Italy’s biggest supplier of natural gas, representing 40% of total imports, followed by Algeria, which provides some 21 billion cubic meters of gas via the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline.

The new deal between Italian energy company ENI and Algeria’s Sonatrach would add up to 9 billion cubic meters of gas from Algeria, just eclipsing Russia’s current 29 billion cubic meters a year. The increased flows will start in the fall, ENI said in a statement.

(AP)

19:24

Russia is gearing up for an attack in the Donbas, US Pentagon says

The Pentagon’s latest assessment is that Russia is gearing up for, but has not yet begun, an intensified offensive in the Donbas.

A senior U.S. defence official said the Russians are moving more troops and material toward that area and are focusing many of their missile strikes there. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal US military assessments.

The official said a lengthy convoy of vehicles that is headed south toward the eastern city of Izyum contains artillery as well as aviation and infantry support, plus battlefield command-and-control elements and other materials.

The official said the convoy appeared to originate from the Belgorod and Valuyki areas in Russia, which are shaping up as key staging and marshalling grounds for the Russian buildup in the Donbas.

The official said the Russians also are bolstering their presence in the Donbas by deploying in recent days more artillery southwest of the city of Donetsk.

(AP)

18:41

The arsenal being sent to Ukraine to fight Russia – and the weapons Kyiv is still asking for

Ukraine has some cutting-edge military hardware at its disposal in its fight against Russia’s invading forces.

That’s largely thanks to deliveries of weaponry from allies looking to help the country bolster its defence.

From anti-aircraft MANPADS, to anti-tank missiles, to a drone so beloved by Ukrainian forces they are singing about it, countries are continuing to send critical equipment to the war-torn country.

Read the full story here.

Ukraine has cutting edge weaponry at its disposal in its fight against Russia’s invasion – Copyright AP Photo18:21

Austrian Chancellor evokes ‘difficult’ discussion with Putin

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer was received by Vladimir Putin on Monday, a first for a European leader since the start of the intervention in Ukraine, according to a press release issued by his cabinet after the meeting.

“The discussion with President Putin was frank, open and difficult,” Nehammer said after the meeting, which lasted just over an hour and did not result in a handshake, according to Austrian press.

“I spoke about the serious war crimes in Bucha and other places, saying that all those responsible must be brought to justice,” added the Austrian Chancellor.

Bucha is a locality near Kyiv that has become a symbol of atrocities, where Karl Nehammer went this weekend like other Western officials. Moscow has firmly rejected any involvement.

“I made it clear to the Russian President the urgency of setting up humanitarian corridors to bring water and food and to evacuate women, children and the wounded from besieged cities,” the Chancellor said, insisting it was “not a friendly visit”.

(AFP)

17:41

Many Ukrainian children lack food and water, UNICEF says

The UN children’s agency says nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes in the six weeks since Russia’s invasion, and the United Nations has verified that 142 children have been killed and 229 injured though these numbers are likely much higher.

Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s emergency programmes director who returned from Ukraine last week, told the UN Security Council on Monday that of the 3.2 million children estimated to have remained in their homes “nearly half may be at risk of not having enough food,” and attacks on water system infrastructure and power outages have left an estimated 1.4 million people in the country without access to water.

He said the situation is worse in cities like Mariupol and Kherson in the south, which have been besieged by Russian forces where children and their families have spent weeks without running water, sanitation or a regular supply of food.

“Hundreds of schools and educational facilities have been attacked or used for military purposes,” Fontaine said. “Others are serving as shelters for civilians.”

He said school closings are affecting the education of 5.7 million school-age children and 1.5 million students in higher education.

(AP)

16:57

Warsaw seizes Russian compound, mayor says

The mayor of Warsaw Rafal Trzaskowski said the city took over a disputed compound administered by the Russian diplomatic mission. 

“It is extremely symbolic that we are closing this long process now, in the age of Russian aggression,” Trzaskowski tweeted.

Russia’s Embassy, which had the tall apartment blocks built in the 1970s, has been refusing court orders to pay lease or to hand it over. Once busy, the buildings became empty in the 1990s, after Poland shed its communist rule and dependence from Moscow and after the Soviet Union dissolved.

Ever since, Poland has been saying that lease on the plot of land had expired and demanded it be returned.

(with AP)

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