UN seeks to facilitate a deal to evacuate people from combat areas in Ukraine and Moscow says it evacuated over a million people to Russia, as the conflict entered its 66th day.

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and his delegation in meeting with Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yerman in Kiev.
Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and his delegation in meeting with Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yerman in Kiev. (AA)

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Türkiye advances its efforts for Ukraine-Russia peace deal

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kiev, his office said.

There were no immediate details about the content of Kalin's meetings in Kiev, but Ankara has been mediating between Ukraine and Russia in efforts to end the war.

Turkey hosted a meeting between Moscow and Kiev negotiators in Istanbul and another between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Antalya in March.

UK's Johnson talks Zelenskyy over UN-led evacuation process

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the progress of the UN effort to evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol and “offered the UK's continued economic and humanitarian support” during a talk Saturday with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskky.

“The prime minister reiterated that he is more committed than ever to reinforcing Ukraine and ensuring (Russian President Vladimir) Putin fails, noting how hard the Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom,’’ Johnson's Downing Street office said.

“He confirmed that the UK will continue to provide additional military aid to give the Ukrainians the equipment they needed to defend themselves," the statement said.

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie visits Ukraine 

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie made a surprise appearance in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where she met displaced people and was spotted in a cafe.

Jolie is a UNHCR special envoy but it was not known if she was visiting the country in that capacity.

Jolie also spoke to volunteers giving psychological help to many of the displaced and some of those who had fled.

Russia 'violates' Swedish airspace

Swedish Armed Forces said a Russian military plane has violated Swedish airspace in the Baltic Sea near the island of Bornholm on Friday.

The Swedish Air Force scrambled fighter jets which photographed the Russian plane.

Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish public radio that the violation was “unacceptable” and “unprofessional.”

Russia says killed more than 200 Ukrainian troops

Russia's armed forces say they have hit 17 Ukrainian military facilities with high-precision missiles and also destroyed a command post and a warehouse used to store rockets and artillery.

In an online post, the defence ministry also said air force strikes during the day killed more than 200 Ukrainian troops and destroyed 23 armoured vehicles. There was no immediate reaction from Kiev.

The post made no mention of an attack on Odessa airport, which the local governor said had been hit by a Russian missile, putting the runway out of action.

Odessa governor: Ukraine airport hit, runway destroyed  

A Russian missile has destroyed the runway at Odessa airport in southern Ukraine but there have been no fatalities, regional governor Maxim Marchenko has said on his Telegram account.

"Today, the enemy struck with a Bastion coastal defence missile launched from Crimea. Odessa airport runway has been destroyed. Thank God there were no victims," the governor said in a video.

Ukraine: Russian air forces continuing to strike city of Mariupol

Ukraine's military has said Russian planes have continued to launch strikes on the besieged city of Mariupol, focusing on the Azovstal steelworks where troops and civilians are sheltering.

In a Facebook post, the general staff of the armed forces also said the Ukrainian military had regained control over four settlements in the Kharkiv region.

Pregnant soldier among Ukrainians freed in prisoner exchange

Fourteen Ukrainians, including a pregnant soldier, have been freed in the latest prisoner exchange with Russian forces, Ukraine has said, without revealing the number of Russians returned to Moscow.

"Today, we carried out a new exchange of prisoners. Fourteen of ours are coming home, seven military and seven civilians. One of the military women is five months pregnant," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.

In an interview with the BBC on Friday, Vereshchuk accused Russian forces of deporting large numbers of civilians into Russia and using them as "hostages".

Wives of Mariupol defenders appeal for soldiers' evacuation

Two Ukrainian women whose husbands are defending a besieged steel plant in Mariupol have called for any evacuation of civilians to also include soldiers, saying they fear the troops will be tortured and killed if captured by Russian forces.

“The lives of soldiers matter too. We can’t only talk about civilians,” said Yuliia Fedusiuk, 29, the wife of Arseniy Fedusiuk, a member of the Azov Regiment in Mariupol.

She and Kateryna Prokopenko, whose husband, Denys Prokopenko, is the Azov commander, made their appeal in Rome for international assistance to evacuate the Azovstal plant, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the bombed-out city.

Ukraine reports vast grain seizures by Russia

Ukraine’s deputy agriculture minister says Russian forces are seizing vast amounts of grain in territory they hold, while its president says the country is facing fuel shortages.

“Today, there are confirmed facts that several hundred thousand tons of grain in total were taken out of the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” minister Taras Vysotsky told Ukrainian television.

Ukraine is also facing fuel shortages as Russia destroys its fuel infrastructure and blocks its ports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday night. Fuel shortages have been reported in Kiev, Dnipro and other cities.

Russia: Checkpoint in Kursk region shelled from Ukraine

The governor of Russia's western Kursk region has said several shells have been fired at a checkpoint near its border from the direction of Ukraine.

Speaking in a video posted on his Telegram channel, governor Roman Starovoit said that there were no casualties or damage. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Russia says risks of nuclear war must be kept to minimum

Russia believes the risks of nuclear war should be kept to a minimum and that any armed conflict between nuclear powers should be prevented, the TASS news agency has quoted a foreign ministry official as saying.

Vladimir Yermakov, the foreign ministry's head of nuclear non-proliferation, said all nuclear powers must stick to the logic laid out in official documents aimed at preventing nuclear war.

He was referring to a joint statement published in January by Russia, China, Britain, the US and France. In it, the five permanent United Nations Security Council members agreed that the spread of nuclear arms and nuclear war should be avoided.

Macron: France to intensify military, humanitarian aid

French President Emmanuel Macron has said France will "intensify" its supply of military and humanitarian support following a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy thanked France for "large-scale military shipments that contribute to the Ukrainian resistance," Macron said, adding "that this support will continue to intensify, as will the humanitarian assistance provided by France."

"The mission of French experts contributing to the collection of evidence to fight against impunity and allow the work of international justice concerning crimes committed in the context of the Russian aggression will continue," he said.

Police: Three bodies with hands tied found near Bucha

The bodies of three men with their hands tied have been found in a pit near Bucha, a town close to Kiev that has become synonymous with allegations of what several world leaders have described as Russian "war crimes."

"On April 29, a pit with the bodies of three men was found in the Bucha district," a police statement said.

"The victims' hands were tied, cloths were covering their eyes and some were gagged. There are traces of torture on the corpses, as well as gunshot wounds to various parts of the body."

The victims were tortured for a long period of time, bullet wounds were found on the extremities. Finally, each of the men was shot in the ear

Kiev's regional police chief Andriy Nebytov

Ukraine fights to hold off Russian advances in south, east

Ukrainian forces have been fighting to hold off a Russian advance in their country's south and east.

The Kremlin is seeking to capture the industrial Donbass region and Western military analysts said Moscow's offensive was going much slower than planned.

The United Nations continued trying to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of Mariupol, a southern port city that Russia has sought to capture since it attacked Ukraine more than nine weeks ago. 

Kharkiv shelled, again

Ukraine's second city Kharkiv was hit by more deadly shelling while Ukrainian forces made some gains in the surrounding region. 

Although Ukraine has retained control of Kharkiv, the city has been repeatedly battered by Moscow's forces and still faces daily attacks. 

One person was killed and five were injured in artillery and mortar strikes, Kharkiv's regional military administration said on Telegram.

US slams Putin's 'depravity'

Washington has slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin's "depravity".

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby briefly choked with emotion as he described the destruction in Ukraine and slammed Putin's "depravity".

Ukrainian prosecutors say they have pinpointed more than 8,000 war crimes carried out by Russian troops and are investigating 10 Russian soldiers for suspected atrocities in Bucha near Kiev.

Strategic stability dialogue with US formally 'frozen' – Russia

Dialogue between Moscow and Washington on strategic stability is formally "frozen", the TASS news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry official as saying.

Vladimir Yermakov, head of nuclear non-proliferation and controls at the foreign ministry, told TASS those contacts could be resumed once what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine was complete. 

Russia says it hit 389 targets in Ukraine overnight

Russia has said that its artillery units struck 389 Ukrainian targets overnight, including 35 control points, 15 arms and ammunition depots, and several areas where Ukrainian troops and equipment were concentrated.

Russia's defence ministry said that its missiles had hit four ammunition and fuel depots.

Shelling in Russia's Bryansk region hits parts of oil terminal

Russian air defences prevented a Ukrainian aircraft from entering the Bryansk region, Russian news outlets reported citing the region's governor, adding that as a result shelling hit parts of an oil terminal and adjacent territory. 

"There are no victims," RIA news agency cited the governor, Alexander Bogomaz, as saying. He added that a logistics building at the terminal was damaged. 

Ukraine: Russia stole 'several hundred thousand tonnes' of grain

Russian forces have stolen "several hundred thousand tonnes" of grain in the areas of Ukraine they occupy, Ukraine's deputy agriculture minister said.

Speaking to Ukrainian national TV, Taras Vysotskiy expressed concern that most of what he said was 1.5 million tonnes of grain stored in occupied territory could also be stolen by Russian forces.

Ukraine's foreign ministry accused Russia on Thursday of stealing grain in territory it has occupied, an act it said increased the threat to global food security. 

Russia urges US, NATO to halt Kiev arms supply: state media

Russia's foreign minister has urged the US and NATO to stop supplying Kiev with arms if they are "really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis", Chinese state media reported.

"If the US and NATO are really interested in resolving the Ukraine crisis, then first of all, they should wake up and stop supplying the Kiev regime with arms and ammunition," Lavrov said.

The Kremlin had previously called Western arms deliveries to Ukraine a threat to European security.

UK: Russian forces have 'weakened morale'

The British military believes Russian forces in Ukraine are likely suffering from “weakened morale.”

The British Defense Ministry made that assessment in a tweet as part of a daily report it provides on Russia’s war on Kiev.

It says Russia “still faces considerable challenges” in fighting. The British military believes Russian forces have “been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from the failed advances in northeast Ukraine.”

Britain says Russia forced to merge, redeploy depleted units

Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from failed advances in northeast Ukraine, a British military update said.

"Shortcomings in Russian tactical coordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements," the military tweeted.

"Russia hopes to rectify issues that have previously constrained its invasion by geographically concentrating combat power, shortening supply lines and simplifying command and control," it said. 

Ukraine to end fuel shortages soon – Zelenskiyy

Ukraine will soon stamp out fuel shortages, even though Russian forces have damaged a number of oil depots, President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy said.

This week, Russia struck Ukraine's main fuel producer, the Kremenchuk oil refinery, as well as several other large depots.

"Queues and rising prices at gas stations are seen in many regions of our country," Zelenskiyy said in a nightly video speech. "The occupiers are deliberately destroying the infrastructure for the production, supply and storage of fuel. 

US official: Ukraine resistance slows Russia

A senior US defence official said the Russian offensive is going much slower than planned in part because of the strength of the Ukrainian resistance.

“We also assess that because of this slow and uneven progress, again, without perfect knowledge of every aspect of the Russian plan, we do believe and assess that they are behind schedule in what they were trying to accomplish in the Donbas,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the US military’s assessment.

He said the US believes the Russians are “at least several days behind where they wanted to be” as they try to encircle Ukrainian troops in the east. 

Russia: Lifting sanctions part of negotiations with Ukraine

Lifting sanctions imposed on Russia is part of peace negotiations between Moscow and Ukraine, which are "difficult" but continue daily, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Kiev has warned that talks on ending Russia's attacks, now in its third month, were in danger of collapse.

"At present, the Russian and Ukrainian delegations are actually discussing on a daily basis via video-conferencing a draft of a possible treaty," Lavrov said in comments to China's official Xinhua news agency published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.

Lavrov: Over 1 million people evacuated from Ukraine to Russia

More than 1 million people have been evacuated from Ukraine into Russia since February 24, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

The 1.02 million includes 120,000 foreigners and people evacuated from Russian-backed regions of Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's republics, which Russia recognised as independent just before launching its assault.

According to data from the United Nations, more than 5.4 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the attack.

UN seeks to broker evacuation of civilians

The United Nations doggedly sought to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of Mariupol, while Ukraine accused Russia of showing its contempt for the world organisation by bombing Kiev when the UN leader was visiting the capital.

The mayor of Mariupol said the situation inside the steel plant that has become the southern port city’s last stronghold is dire, and citizens are “begging to get saved." Mayor Vadym Boichenko added, "There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.”

Ukraine’s forces, meanwhile, fought to hold off Russian attempts to advance in the south and east, where the Kremlin is seeking to capture the country's industrial Donbass region.

Kremlin: Transferring Russian assets to Ukraine is dangerous

Russian President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman Dmitry Peskov has described US President Joe Biden’s suggestion to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine as “outrageous” and a “violation of all legal norms".

Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Peskov said by expropriating private property, the US authorities are creating "a dangerous precedent”.

"This, of course, is a very dangerous precedent, it is an outrageous distortion of any legal norms, a violation of all legal concepts in general.

For live updates from Friday (April 29), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies