Russia vows its offensive in Ukraine would continue until its goals are met as Kiev's forces mount a strong defence and inflict significant losses on Moscow's troops in the ongoing fighting – now in its 49th day.

A report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has accused Russia of
A report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has accused Russia of "clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations" in Ukraine. (AFP)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Russia imposing sanctions on US and Canadian politicians

Russia has said that it has introduced sanctions against 398 members of the US Congress in retaliation against Washington's punitive measures over Ukraine and has said more sanctions will follow.

"Taking into account the sanctions the US is constantly introducing, further announcements of Russian countermeasures are planned in the near future," the foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement, adding the sanctions included a ban on entry.

In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said that it had introduced sanctions against 87 members of the Senate of Canada and more measures will be announced soon due to Ottawa's "short-sighted" policies.

Ukraine says 1,567 people evacuated from cities

A total of 1,567 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors, fewer than the 2,671 who escaped on Tuesday, a senior official has said.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration, made the announcement in an online post.

Russia warns of striking Kiev if Ukraine continues attacks on Russian territory

The Russian military has threatened to strike Ukraine's command centres in the capital Kiev if Ukrainian troops continue to attack Russian territory.

"We are seeing Ukrainian troops' attempts to carry out sabotage and strike Russian territory," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement. "If such cases continue, the Russian armed forces will strike decision-making centres, including in Kiev."

It also confirmed that its troops had now full control of the port in the besieged city of Mariupol.

US announces additional $800 million in military aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden’s administration has announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine, bringing the total aid tally since Russian operation began to more than $2.4 billion.

The package will include artillery systems, artillery rounds and armoured personnel carriers, Biden said in a statement after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

UN chief says Ukraine humanitarian ceasefire 'doesn't seem possible'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that a "global ceasefire in Ukraine doesn't seem possible," indicating that the UN was still waiting for answers from Russia to concrete proposals for evacuating civilians and delivering aid.

"That was our appeal for humanitarian reasons but it doesn't seem possible," he said at a press conference.

Guterres also said that the war was affecting 1.7 million people worldwide.

Separatists control most of Ukraine's Luhansk region: leader

A separatist leader in eastern Ukraine has said that up to 90 percent of territory of the so-called Luhansk People's Republic is now under rebel control.

Speaking to reporters in front of a power station near the town of Shchastia, which used to be under Kiev control, the leader of the separatist statelet, Leonid Pasechnik, said:

"Eighty to ninety percent of the LNR territory has now been liberated from Ukrainian nationalist groupings," as Russian troops worked to de-mine the power station.

Mayor of Ukraine's Kharkiv says bombing of city has increased significantly

The mayor of Kharkiv has said Russian bombing of the Ukrainian city has increased significantly since Tuesday and reported there are casualties, including dead children.

"The enemy is bombing residential homes, residential areas. Unfortunately, there are civilian casualties - the worst thing is that children are dying," Ihor Terekhov told Ukrainian national television.

Zelenskyy and Biden discuss defensive aid and sanctions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US President Joe Biden have discussed additional defensive and financial aid for Kiev as well as sanctions and alleged Russian war crimes, the Ukrainian president has said.

"Continued constant dialogue with @POTUS. Assessed Russian war crimes. Discussed additional package of defensive and possible macro-financial aid. Agreed to enhance sanctions," Zelenskyy tweeted. Russia denies carrying out war crimes.

Le Pen warns against more weapons for Ukraine

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has warned against sending any more weapons to Ukraine, and called for a rapprochement between NATO and Russia once Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine winds down.

Asked about military aid to Ukraine, Le Pen said she would continue defence and intelligence support.

“(But) I’m more reserved about direct arms deliveries. Why? Because ... the line is thin between aid and becoming a co-belligerent,” the far-right leader said, citing concerns about an “escalation of this conflict that could bring a whole number of countries into a military commitment.”

Russia says Ukraine dragging out peace talks

Russia's foreign ministry has accused Kiev of dragging out peace talks with Moscow as it pursues its military campaign.

Speaking at her weekly briefing, spokesperson Maria Zakharova added that talks between the two sides were continuing in an online format. 

Kremlin rejects idea of exchanging Ukraine's Putin ally

The Kremlin has rejected the idea of exchanging a controversial Kiev ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin for Ukrainians detained by Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Viktor Medvedchuk had "nothing to do with the special military operation. Ukrainian authorities had announced they had captured Medvedchuk.

"He is a foreign politician," Peskov told reporters. "Medvedchuk has never had any behind-the-scenes relations with Russia," Peskov said.

EU to help Ukrainian refugees convert cash

EU countries have decided to offer Ukrainian refugees easier access to their currencies, allowing them to exchange hundreds of euros' worth of their local hryvnia banknotes free of charge.

The European Council said member state ambassadors had endorsed its recommendation on the conversion of hryvnia banknotes, with the initiative expected to be formally adopted and put into force next Tuesday.

Kremlin says Biden's 'genocide' comments are wrong and unacceptable

The Kremlin has said it is "unacceptable" for US President Joe Biden to accuse Moscow's troops of committing genocide in Ukraine, where Russia has been conducting a military campaign for nearly two months.

"We categorically disagree and consider unacceptable any attempt to distort the situation in this way," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia views US, NATO weapon transports in Ukraine as legitimate targets - TASS

Russia will view US and NATO vehicles transporting weapons on Ukrainian territory as legitimate military targets, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has told the TASS news agency in an interview.

"We are warning that US-NATO weapons transports across Ukrainian territory will be considered by us as legal military targets," TASS quoted him as saying.

Russia violating humanitarian law in Ukraine: OSCE

A report by the world's largest security body has accused Russia of "clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations" in Ukraine.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) report said if Russia had respected its international obligations after attacking Ukraine on February 24, "the number of civilians killed or injured would have remained much lower".

The 110-page report presented at the OSCE's permanent council meeting pointed at damaged and destroyed houses, hospitals, schools, water stations and other infrastructure.

'Ukraine is a crime scene': ICC chief prosecutor

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor has visited the town of Bucha – the scene of hundreds of civilian killings which Ukraine has blamed on Russian forces who occupied it for several weeks.

"Ukraine is a crime scene. We're here because we have reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court are being committed," Karim Khan told reporters

"We have to pierce the fog of war to get to the truth. That requires independent, impartial investigation," he said.

Polish, Baltic presidents visit Ukraine in show of support

The presidents of four countries on Russia's doorstep have visited Ukraine in a show of support for the embattled country.

The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – all NATO countries that worry they may face Russian attack in the future if Ukraine falls – were travelling by train to Kiev to meet Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The European leaders visiting Ukraine planned to deliver “a strong message of political support and military assistance." Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said.

At least 191 children killed in Russian offensive in Ukraine: Prosecutors

At least 191 children have been killed and 349 injured since the beginning of Russia's offensive in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General has said.

Children in the Donetsk, Kiev, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, and Zhytomyr regions have been the most affected, it said in a statement.

As a result of daily bombings and shelling, 957 educational institutions have been damaged, with 88 destroyed, it said.

Russia to seek alternative to European energy market: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow will be looking into alternative markets for its energy exports after Western capitals sanctioned Russia over its military operation in Ukraine.

"We have all the resources and opportunities to quickly find alternative solutions," Putin said during a televised government meeting on the development of the Russian Arctic.

"As for Russian oil, gas and coal – we can increase their consumption on the domestic market... and also increase the supply of energy resources to other parts of the world, where they are really needed," Putin added. 

Over 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers surrender in Mariupol: Russia

Russia's defence ministry has said over a thousand Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in Mariupol, a strategic port city in eastern Ukraine that has been besieged by Moscow's troops for over a month.

"In the city of Mariupol...1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th marine brigade voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered," the ministry said in a statement. Among the troops were 162 officers and 47 were women, the ministry added.

Ukrainian defence ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said he had no information about the surrender of the Ukrainian marine brigade.

Zelenskyy says Russia using phosphorous bombs

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said in an address to Estonia's parliament that Russia was using phosphorous bombs in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of using terror tactics against civilians. He did not provide evidence.

Zelenskyy added that instruments needed to be found to pressure Russia to stop forcibly deporting Ukrainians, and called for sanctions on Russia to continue, saying they were the only way to force Russia to agree to peace.

7 killed, 22 wounded by shelling in Kharkiv region: Governor

At least seven people have been killed and 22 wounded by shelling in Ukraine's northeastern region of Kharkiv over the past 24 hours, Governor Oleh Synegubov said on Wednesday.

In an online post, he said a two-year-old boy was among those killed in the 53 artillery or rocket strikes he said Russian forces had carried out in the region. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Russian troops shoot dead seven people: Ukraine

Russian troops shot dead six men and one woman in a home in a village near the frontline in southern Ukraine and then blew up the building to hide the evidence, Ukrainian prosecutors have said.

"On April 12 in the village of Pravdyne, Russian soldiers shot dead six men and one woman in a residential home. After this, intending to hide their crime, the occupiers blew up the building with the bodies," prosecutors said in a statement.

Dnipro official: 1,500 killed Russian soldiers in city morgues

An official in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, which has largely escaped fighting with Moscow's forces, has said that the remains of more than 1,500 Russian soldiers are being kept in its morgues.

"Now there are more than 1,500 dead Russian soldiers in the morgues of Dnipro that no one wants to retrieve," Dnipro deputy mayor Mikhail Lysenko told reporters, adding he hoped "Russian mothers will be able to come and pick up their sons".

Russians in pope's Good Friday procession irk Ukrainians

The Vatican's decision to have both Ukrainians and Russians take part in Pope Francis' "Way of the Cross" procession on Friday has caused friction with Ukrainian Catholic leaders, who want it to be reconsidered.

The annual Via Crucis event on Good Friday at the Colosseum consists of the 14 Stations of the Cross, stages between the condemnation of Jesus to death and his burial. It is often customised so that those who carry the cross from one station to the next reflect world events.

This year's programme for the evening candlelight service has a Ukrainian family and a Russian family sharing the carrying of the cross at the 13th station, which commemorates Jesus being taken down from the cross after his death.

I consider such an idea inopportune, ambiguous, and such that it does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of Ukraine's Byzantine-rite Cath

Russian Netflix users sue streaming giant for leaving market

Russian users of Netflix have launched a class action lawsuit against the streaming giant for leaving the Russian market and "violating Russian users' rights", demanding 60 million roubles ($726,000) in compensation, the RIA news agency has reported.

Netflix Inc said in March that it suspended its service in Russia and temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in the country as it assessed the impact of Moscow's offensive against Ukraine.

"Today, a law firm representing the interests of Netflix users filed a class action lawsuit against the American Netflix service with the Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow", RIA cited law firm Chernyshov, Lukoyanov & Partners as saying.

Russian gas stop promises 'sharp recession' for Germany

An immediate end to Russian energy imports would send Germany into "sharp recession" next year, the country's leading economic institutes have said in a forecast.

Persistently higher energy prices and geopolitical risks herald the beginning of a new era for Europe's industrial powerhouse, they warned, one which not every company will survive.

"Not all business models that were profitable in Germany in the past will have a future," Stefan Kooths, vice-president of the IfW Kiel institute, said at a Berlin press conference. The government must keep this in mind when it considers support measures for struggling firms, he added.

Macron urges caution after Biden's 'genocide' remark

French President Emmanuel Macron has declined to repeat President Joe Biden's accusation that Russia was carrying out "genocide" against Ukrainians.

"I would say that Russia unilaterally unleashed the most brutal war, that it is now established that war crimes were committed by the Russian army and that it is now necessary to find those responsible and make them face justice," Macron said.

"But at the same time I look at the facts and I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace. I'm not sure that verbal escalations serve this cause," he said, speaking to France 2 television as he ramps up his re-election campaign.

'Too dangerous' for humanitarian corridors Wednesday: Kiev 

Ukraine has said it will not open humanitarian corridors allowing for the evacuation of civilians on Wednesday, accusing Russian forces of violating agreements to allow people to flee.

"The situation along the routes is too dangerous and we are forced to refrain from opening humanitarian corridors today (Wednesday)," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on social media. Vereshchuk said work was underway to resume work along humanitarian routes "as soon as possible."

She said Russian forces were blocking buses used in evacuations around Zaporizhzhia in the south, and Moscow's army was violating an agreement to halt shooting while people escape in the eastern Luhansk region.

The occupiers not only disregard the norms of international humanitarian law, but also cannot properly control their people on the ground

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk

Governor: Civilian killed in Russian shelling of Luhansk region

One civilian has been killed in Russian shelling of Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai has said.

He said in a post on the Telegram messaging app that three trains would be offered on Wednesday to residents who wanted to leave the region, which he said was under constant shelling and may face a new large offensive by Russian forces.

Ukraine's state railway company said in a separate statement that a train station in central Ukraine had been shelled overnight.

Russia: US spreading lies on possible chemical attack

Russia has said claims by the United States and Ukraine that Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine were disinformation because Moscow destroyed its last chemical stockpiles in 2017.

Russia's embassy in Washington said Ukrainian radicals were preparing to stage provocations with the use of chemical weapons and that the State Department was spreading disinformation.

"We call on Washington to stop spreading disinformation," the embassy said in a statement.

Presidents of Poland, Baltic states to visit Kiev

Polish President Andrzej Duda and the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are on their way to Kiev to meet Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, an adviser to the Polish leader has said.

"Our countries are showing support to Ukraine and President Zelenskyy in this way," Jakub Kumoch, the adviser, posted on Twitter.

UK: Russia attempting to centralise command

Russia's appointment of Army General Alexander Dvornikov as commander of the Ukraine conflict represents the country's attempt to centralise command and control, British military intelligence has said.

Russia's inability to cohere and coordinate military activity has hampered its operations in Ukraine to date, UK's Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

Army General Dvornikov's appointment shows how Ukrainian resistance and Russia's ineffective planning are forcing it to reassess its operations, according to the intelligence update.

US to announce $750M more in weapons for Ukraine: officials

The Biden administration is preparing yet another, more diverse, package of military support possibly totalling $750 million to be announced in coming days, a senior US defence official has said.

The additional aid is a sign that the administration intends to continue expanding its support for Ukraine to defend itself against Russian offensive.

Delivery is due to be completed this week of $800 million in military assistance approved by President Joe Biden just one month ago.

Ukraine: Over 720 killed in Bucha and other Kiev suburbs

More than 720 people have been killed in Bucha and other Kiev suburbs that were occupied by Russian troops and more than 200 are considered missing, the Interior Ministry has said. 

In Bucha alone, Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said 403 bodies had been found and the toll could rise as minesweepers comb the area. 

Ukraine's prosecutor general's office said 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. 

US, allies' goal is to make Russia 'less able to project power in the future'

The United States and its allies are pushing ahead with sanctions aimed at forcing Vladimir Putin to spend Russia's money propping up its economy rather than sustaining its "war machine" for the fight in Ukraine, a top Treasury Department official has said.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, one of the main US coordinators on the Russian sanctions strategy, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the goal is to make Russia "less able to project power in the future."

On the same day that inflation notched its steepest increase in decades, Adeyemo said reducing supply chain backlogs and managing the pandemic is key to bringing down soaring prices that he related to the ongoing land offensive in Ukraine, which has contributed to rising energy costs. 

Zelenskyy proposes swapping pro-Russian politician for prisoners

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has proposed swapping senior pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk for male and female prisoners being held by Moscow's forces.

In an early-morning address, he said it was "important for our security forces and military forces to consider such a possibility." 

Ukraine's security services on Tuesday said they had arrested Medvedchuk, who is President Vladimir Putin's closest and most influential ally in Ukraine.

Biden: Russian assault a 'genocide,' trying to 'wipe out' Ukraine

President Joe Biden has said Russia's offensive in Ukraine amounted to "genocide," accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to "wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian."

"Yes, I called it genocide," he told reporters in Iowa shortly before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington. "It's become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian."

At an earlier event in Menlo, Iowa, addressing spiking energy prices resulting from the offensive, Biden had implied that he thought Putin was carrying out "genocide" against Ukraine but offered no details. 

For live updates from Tuesday (April 12), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies