Ukraine expects Russia to begin a new push in the eastern Donbass region as Moscow shifts its focus to seizing territory there in the fighting, now in its 48th day.

US President Joe Biden waves as he makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on April 12, 2022.
US President Joe Biden waves as he makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on April 12, 2022. (AFP)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Biden says Russia is committing 'genocide'

President Joe Biden has for the first time referred to Russia's assault in Ukraine as a "genocide".

Speaking in Iowa at an event about steps his administration is taking to staunch rising fuel costs because of the offensive, Biden termed the conflict, which has seen Russia carry out atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, as a "genocide."

Said Biden: "Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away." Biden has previously stated that he did not believe Russia's actions amounted to genocide, as Ukrainian government officials have argued, but rather were "war crimes."

Ukraine captures fugitive Ukrainian Putin ally

Ukraine in a special operation captured the fugitive oligarch and Russian President Vladimir Putin's close friend Viktor Medvedchuk, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Sharing a photo of Medvedchuk sitting in a chair with his hands cuffed, Zelenskyy said on his Telegram account: "A special operation was carried out thanks to the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine). Well done!"

Medvedchuk was thought to be Russia's top choice as a replacement for Zelenskyy to serve as their ruler. 

Pressure mounts on Berlin as Kiev snubs German president

Pressure was mounting on Germany to up its game over the conflict in Ukraine as Kiev snubbed the country's president and Chancellor Olaf Scholz was accused of a weak response to the crisis. 

On a visit to Poland, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted he had offered to visit Ukraine with other EU leaders, but Kiev had told him he was not welcome right now. 

"I was prepared to do this, but apparently, and I must take note of this, this was not wanted in Kiev," Steinmeier told reporters. 

Pentagon asks top 8 US arms makers to meet on Ukraine

The Pentagon will host leaders from the top eight US arms makers on Wednesday to discuss the defence industry's capacity to meet Ukraine's weapons needs if the conflict with Russia continues for years, two people familiar with the meeting said. 

OPCW monitoring the situation closely in Ukraine

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is concerned by the recent unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use in Mariupol in Ukraine, an OPCW spokesperson said.

"The (...) OPCW is monitoring closely the situation in Ukraine," he added.

The OPCW global chemical weapons watchdog also said it had "uninterruptedly been monitoring the situation around declared chemical industrial sites" in Ukraine, which has been under attack by Russia since end February.

Ukraine says potent Russian hack against power grid thwarted

Russian military hackers attempted to knock out power to millions of Ukrainians last week in a long-planned attack but were foiled, Ukrainian government officials said.

At one targeted high-voltage power station, the hackers succeeded in penetrating and disrupting part of the industrial control system, but people defending the station were able to prevent electrical outages, the Ukrainians said.

“The threat was serious, but it was prevented in a timely manner,” a top Ukrainian cybersecurity official, Victor Zhora, told reporters through an interpreter. “ It looks that we were very lucky.” 

Negotiations with Russia 'extremely difficult' - Kiev

Kiev has said that ongoing talks with Russia to end the conflict were "extremely difficult" after Moscow accused Ukrainian negotiators of slowing down discussions by changing demands. 

"Negotiations are extremely difficult. The Russian side adheres to its traditional tactics of public pressure on the negotiation process, including through certain public statements," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said in written comments to reporters. 

Talks to end Russia's nearly two-month assault on Ukraine have continued since early in the fighting but offered no concrete results.  

Latest estimate is 21,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol - mayor

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol said the latest estimate was that about 21,000 civilian residents of the port city had been killed since the start of Russia's attacks.

In televised comments, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said it had been difficult to calculate the exact number of casualties since street fighting had started.

Ukraine says Mariupol troops low on supplies

An adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has paid tribute to Ukrainian troops defending the besieged south-eastern port of Mariupol but acknowledged they are running low on supplies. 

Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter that “for more than 1.5 months our defenders protect the city from (Russian) troops, which are 10+ times larger. They’re fighting under the bombs for each meter of the city. They make (Russia) pay an exorbitant price.” 

Mariupol was a key target for Russian forces soon after the attacks began in late February. It has symbolic significance as one of the largest cities in eastern Ukraine. 

Ukraine turns down German president’s request to visit Kiev

Ukraine has turned down German President Frank Walter Steinmeier’s request to visit the capital Kiev this week, further complicating relations between the two countries.

Steinmeier told reporters during a visit to Poland that in a show of solidarity with Ukraine, he wanted to visit Kyiv together with other European leaders.

“I was ready for this visit. But it seems that Kiev doesn’t want it, and I must take note of this,” he told reporters. 

At least 186 children killed in Russia-Ukraine conflict

At least 186 children have been killed and 344 injured since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General said Tuesday.

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

As a result of daily bombings and shelling, 938 educational institutions have been damaged, with 87 destroyed. 

Russia in final stage of regrouping its forces - Ukrainian governor

Russia is shelling Ukraine's eastern region of Donetsk round the clock and Moscow is now in the final stages of regrouping its forces in the area, Donetsk's governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. 

He also said that Russian forces were not allowing residents of the besieged port city of Mariupol in the south of the region to leave even in their own cars. Kyrylenko made the comments on national television. 

Ukraine evacuates 2,671 civilians from front line areas 

Ukraine's deputy prime minister said that 2,671 civilians had been evacuated from front line areas, including 208 residents of Mariupol, 328 people from Luhansk region and 2,135 from various cities and towns in the Zaporizhzhia region. 

US cannot confirm use of chemical agents in Ukraine's Mariupol - official

The United States cannot confirm the use of chemical agents in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol at this time, a senior US defence official said. 

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the government was checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons while besieging Mariupol.

"We cannot confirm the use of chemical agents at this time," the U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters.

10,000 dead in Ukraine's Mariupol and toll could rise - mayor 

The besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol yielded up more horrors after six weeks of pummeling by Russian troops, with the mayor saying more than 10,000 civilians have died in the strategic southern port, their corpses “carpeted through the streets.”

As Russia pounded targets around Ukraine and prepared for a major assault in the east, the country's leader warned President Vladimir Putin's forces could resort to chemical weapons, and Western officials said they were investigating an unconfirmed claim by a Ukrainian regiment that a poisonous substance was dropped in Mariupol. 

The city has seen some of the heaviest attacks and civilian suffering in the conflict, but the land, sea and air assaults by Russian forces fighting to capture it have increasingly limited information about what's happening inside the city.

Zelenskyy accuses Russian troops of 'hundreds of rapes'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said investigators had received reports of "hundreds of cases of rape" in areas previously occupied by Russian troops, including sexual assaults of small children.

"In areas freed from the occupiers, the recording and investigation of war crimes committed by Russia continues. Almost everyday we find new mass graves," he told Lithuanian lawmakers via video link.

"Hundreds of cases of rape have been recorded, including those of young girls and very young children. Even of a baby!"

Ukraine conflict fuels 'overlapping crises': World Bank's Malpass

The Russian offensive on Ukraine has set off a chain reaction in the global economy with rising energy and food prices that will worsen poverty and hunger and exacerbate debt concerns, World Bank President David Malpass said. 

Faced with these "overlapping crises," the leader of the development lender urged advanced nations to keep markets open, removing trade barriers and reversing policies that concentrate wealth.

"Never have so many countries experienced a recession at once, suffering lost capital, jobs, and livelihoods. At the same time, inflation continues to accelerate," Malpass said at an event in Warsaw. 

More than 4.6 million flee Ukraine – UN

More than 4.6 million Ukrainians have now fled the conflict, the United Nations said, though the smaller numbers of new refugees are arriving in a more vulnerable condition.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said 4,615,830 Ukrainians had fled since Russia attacked the country on February 24 – a figure up 68,095 on Monday's update.

"Even though the numbers of people crossing the borders has declined significantly, those who have been crossing we've noticed have been in a more vulnerable state, have had lesser means and have also had less of a plan as to where they might go," UNHCR spokesman Matt Saltmarsh said in Geneva.

Russia must lose ability to ‘terrorise’ neighbours - Ukrainian president

The Ukrainian president said that Lithuania has been among the first countries to come to Ukraine’s aid after the Russian attack, stressing that Russia must lose the ability to “terrorise” its neighbours.

“You remain among those who care most about peace and security in Europe,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the Lithuanian Parliament, according to Ukraine’s official news agency Ukrinform.

He went on to say: “Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine has posed a strategic question to Europe: Are the values that underlie the unification of nations on the European continent after World War II still alive?”

108 Russian attacks on Ukraine's health facilities so far -UN

The World Health Organization said it has verified 108 Russian attacks on health care facilities and staff in Ukraine since the start of the conflict.

These include attacks on health facilities, personnel, transport, supplies, and warehouses. 

Bhanu Bhatnagar from WHO Europe spoke from Lviv near the Polish border at a UN press conference. 

"The situation is already really bad and challenging. 

EU countries to receive $3.8B additional funds to host Ukrainian refugees

EU countries will receive an additional €3.5 billion ($3.8 billion) support from the EU budget to host Ukrainian refugees this year.

The Council of the European Union approved on Tuesday a new legislative act for the funding.

The budgetary modification increases the amount that EU countries can receive as pre-financing from post-pandemic recovery programs, the Council said in a statement. 

Putin: What is happening in Ukraine is tragic

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that what was happening in Ukraine was a tragedy but that Russia had no choice but to launch a special military operation, Russian news agencies reported. 

Putin said that Moscow would counter attempts to isolate Russia and Belarus and stressed the need to deepen integration between the countries in light of Western sanctions.

He was speaking after talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in the Russian Far East. 

Ukraine: Russian power grid hacking attempt foiled

Ukrainian officials say a planned cyberattack by Russian military hackers on the country’s power grid has been foiled.

They say the country’s computer emergency response thwarted an attack planned by hackers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency that intended to knock electrical substations offline last Friday.

The State Service of Special Communications said on its website that malware was discovered designed to destroy data on computers.

Putin: Russia will achieve 'noble' aims of its Ukraine campaign

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow's military operation in Ukraine would undoubtedly achieve what he described as its "noble" objectives.

Speaking at an awards event at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin said the main objective of Moscow's military intervention was to save people in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

"On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself," Putin said. "It's clear that we didn't have a choice. It was the right decision."

Ukraine: Six people found shot dead in basement outside Kiev

Ukrainian prosecutors have said six people had been found shot dead in the basement of a building outside Kiev, the latest discovery fuelling allegations of Russian atrocities.

"The bodies of six civilians with gunshot wounds were found in a basement during an inspection of a private residence," the prosecutor general said in a statement, adding that the killings took place in Brovary outside the capital Kiev.

Zelenskyy urges EU sanctions on Russian oil, banks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the European Union to slap sanctions on all Russian banks and Russian oil, and to set a deadline for ending imports of Russian gas.

He was speaking in a video address to the Lithuanian parliament.

Russian-backed forces deny using chemical weapons 

Russian-backed separatist forces did not use chemical weapons in their attempts to take full control of the city of Mariupol despite Ukrainian allegations to the contrary, Eduard Basurin, a separatist commander, has told the Interfax news agency.

Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said earlier on Tuesday that Kiev was checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons while besieging the southern Ukrainian port city.

Putin: Russia, Belarus will cooperate on space projects

Russia and Belarus will cooperate on infrastructure projects in space, RIA news agency has quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying during a meeting with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin: Russian forces acting bravely and efficiently in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir has said Russian forces carrying out Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine are acting bravely and efficiently and using the most modern weapons, TASS news agency has reported.

OeNB: Conflict causes higher demand for liquidity from firms

The conflict in Ukraine is leading to greater demand for liquidity among Austrian companies, the country's national bank, the OeNB, has said, adding it expected demand for loans, especially short-term ones, to rise in the second quarter.

"Due to the uncertain situation, (banks) expect more cautious investment activity by companies or delays to investment projects," said the Austrian National Bank, adding this might dampen demand for long-term loans for investment.

There were sufficient funds available for lending, it said.

Ukraine: 19,600 Russian troops killed since Moscow's offensive

At least 19,600 Russian soldiers have so far been killed in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military has said.

Ukrainian forces destroyed 157 Russian aircraft, 140 helicopters, 124 unmanned aerial vehicles, 732 tanks, 1,946 armoured vehicles and 349 artillery systems, according to the Ukrainian General Staff’s latest update.

The Russians also lost 111 multiple rocket launcher systems, 1,406 vehicles, 76 fuel tanks, 63 anti-aircraft systems and seven boats, it added.

Ukraine checking information that Russia used chemical weapons in Mariupol

Ukraine has been checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons while besieging the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

"There is a theory that these could be phosphorous munitions," Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said in televised comments, adding: "Official information will come later."

UK probing claims of Russian chemical attack in Ukraine

Britain is trying to verify reports that Russia has used chemical weapons in an attack on the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, London's top diplomat has said.

"Reports that Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on the people of Mariupol. We are working urgently with partners to verify details," UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote on Twitter.

British armed forces minister James Heappey said all options would be on table in response to any use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia.

NATO military chief says joining alliance up to Sweden, Finland

The chair of NATO's military committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, has said that it is the sovereign right of countries such as Sweden and Finland to decide if they want to join the alliance.

Speaking to reporters in Seoul, Bauer said NATO was not a demanding association, and had not pressured any state to join, or for any countries to provide weapons to Ukraine.

Russia's Gazprom continues gas exports to Europe via Ukraine

Russian state-owned gas producer Gazprom has continued to supply natural gas to Europe via Ukraine at the pace of 74.6 million cubic metres per day, in accordance with requests from European consumers, the company has said.

This was in line with the 74.5 million cubic metres reported earlier by Interfax news agency, which cited Ukraine's gas pipeline operator.

Russia aims to take Mariupol in eastern Ukraine onslaught

Russian troops have been aiming to take control of the city of Mariupol, part of an anticipated massive onslaught across eastern Ukraine, as defending forces tried desperately to hold them back.

Russia is believed to be trying to connect occupied Crimea with Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbass, and has laid siege to the strategically located city, once home to more than 400,000 people.

"It is likely that in the future the enemy will try to take control of the city of Mariupol, capture Popasna and launch an offensive in the direction of Kurakhove in order to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk region," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook.

Japan imposes new sanctions on Russia, Putin's daughters

Japan has approved more sanctions against Russians, including against two of President Vladimir Putin's daughters, over Moscow's offensive in Ukraine.

"To prevent a further escalation of the crisis, realise a cease-fire as soon as possible, and stop the Russian offensive on Ukraine, our country must impose tough sanctions against Moscow while working with the international community," Hirokazu Matsuno, Japan's top government spokesperson, told a news conference.

Among the newest sanctioned individuals is the wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. With this, the number of individuals, including military personnel, sanctioned by Japan over Moscow's offensive has risen to 499.

Russia 'destroyed' ammo depots in two Ukrainian regions

The Russian defence ministry has said that its missiles had destroyed ammunition depots in Ukraine's Khmelnytskyi and Kiev regions.

The ministry said Russian forces had struck an ammunition depot and hangar at the Starokostiantyniv airbase in the Khmelnytskyi region, as well as an ammunition depot near Havrylivka north of the capital Kiev.

Nokia to stop doing business in Russia

Telecoms equipment maker Nokia is pulling out of the Russian market, its CEO has said, going a step further than rival Ericsson, which said it was indefinitely suspending its business in the country.

Hundreds of foreign companies are cutting ties with Russia following the start of its attacks on Ukraine and after Western sanctions against Moscow.

While several sectors, including telecoms, have been exempted from some sanctions on humanitarian or related grounds, Nokia said it had decided that quitting Russia was the only option.

Ukraine: 9 humanitarian corridors agreed for Tuesday

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed to evacuate civilians, including from the besieged city of Mariupol by private cars.

Vereshchuk said in a statement that five of the nine evacuation corridors were from Ukraine's Luhansk region in the east of the country, which Ukrainian officials have said is under heavy shelling.

Zelenskyy: Russian forces could use chemical weapons 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russian forces could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, but he did not say that chemical weapons have been already used. 

There were unconfirmed reports on Monday suggesting that chemical weapons were used in the besieged southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol.  Britain said it is trying to verify such reports.

Ukrainian lawmaker Ivanna Klympush said Russia had used an "unknown substance" in Mariupol and that people were suffering from respiratory failure. "Most likely from the chemical weapons," she said.

UN: Nearly two-thirds of  Ukrainian children fled homes 

Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes in the six weeks since Russia's assault and the United Nations has verified the deaths of 142 youngsters although the number is almost certainly much higher, the UN children’s agency said.

Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s emergency programs director who just returned from Ukraine, said having 4.8 million of Ukraine's 7.5 million children displaced in such a short time is something he hadn't seen happen so quickly in 31 years of humanitarian work.

Ukraine's UN ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, claimed Russia has taken more than 121,000 children out of Ukraine and reportedly drafted a bill to simplify and accelerate adoption procedures for orphans and even those who have parents and other relatives.

For live updates from Monday (April 11), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies