Ukraine war: Mariupol evacuation stalls, as Russian deadline for surrender passes

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Local civilians walk past a tank destroyed during heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.
Local civilians walk past a tank destroyed during heavy fighting in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov

Russian forces have continued their new offensive in the east of Ukraine, assaulting cities and towns along a front hundreds of kilometres long.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Russian military was throwing everything it has into the battle, which could be pivotal for control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

Read more about Wednesday's events as they unfolded in our blog below, and watch our TV reporting in the video player above.

04.20.2022
07:31

Wednesday's key points:

  • 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's surrender deadline for Mariupol expired Wednesday afternoon, as the city's Ukrainian defenders say they are facing their "last hours". 

  • Russia has tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which Putin says should make its enemies "think twice". The US responded that the launch was "routine" and did not constitute "a threat".

  • Russian troops have poured into eastern Ukraine in what both sides describe as a new phase of the war, a potentially pivotal battle for control of the country’s industrial heartland.

  • Visiting Kyiv, European Council President Charles Michel said Putin would succeed neither in destroying Ukraine's sovereignty, nor in dividing the EU. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy said that his country's joining the EU would be a "priority".

  • Russia says it has presented Ukraine with a draft document outlining its demands as part of potential peace talks, but Kyiv says it hasn't received it.

  • The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine has topped five million, says the UN. 

  • Poll finds majority of Swedes are in favour of joining NATO, as the country deliberates membership of the defensive alliance. Finland's parliament has also opened a debate on its NATO stance. 

  • Wimbledon has banned tennis players from Russia and Belarus from this summer's tournament.

04.20.2022
22:51

EU's Michel calls for justice for war crimes during Kyiv visit

European Council President Charles Michel used the trip to reaffirm the EU's support for the eastern European nation as it fights to repel Moscow's invasion.

He also travelled to Borodianka, a small town outside Kyiv, where alleged atrocities were committed by Russian forces.

Read more and watch the report:

No Ukraine peace demands received from Russia, says Zelenskyy

euronewsThe Ukrainian president said he not seen or heard about any draft document that Moscow says it has passed on indicating its requirements to end the war. #EuropeNews

04.20.2022
22:32

Mariupol evacuation effort to resume Thursday after latest breakdown

A top Ukrainian official said Wednesday's planned evacuation of civilians from Mariupol has failed because of the Russian failure to observe a cease-fire.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said “the humanitarian corridor didn’t work as planned” on Wednesday. She added that “the occupiers have failed to ensure a proper cease-fire die to the lack of control over its own military.”

Vereshchuk also charged that “due to the sloppiness” of the Russian military, it has failed to timely deliver those who were willing to evacuate to an area where Ukrainian buses were waiting for them.

She said that efforts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol will resume Thursday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said about 120,000 people remain under siege in the city.

(AP)

04.20.2022
21:47

Walkout at G20 in protest at Russia

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Ukraine’s Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko walked out of a Group of 20 meeting Wednesday as Russia’s representative started talking.

Several finance ministers and central bank governors also left the room, according an official familiar with the meetings, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the event was not public. Some ministers and central bank governors who attended the meeting virtually turned their cameras off when the Russia representative spoke, the person said.

The brutal effects of Russia’s war against Ukraine have taken center stage at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings, in which finance heads gather to tackle the world’s most pressing issues.

President Joe Biden has said that Russia should not remain a member of the G-20, an international body of the world’s biggest economies that promotes economic cooperation between countries.

(AP)

04.20.2022
21:45

Blinken blames Russia for Mariupol evacuation failures

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expressing concerns about a humanitarian corridor Ukraine is trying to set up to evacuate people trapped by Russian forces in Mariupol.

“The conditions there, the situation there, as a result of this Russian aggression, are truly horrific,” Blinken said Wednesday. “Of course, we want to see people who are in harm’s way, if they are able to, to leave it safely and securely.”

Blinken said the U.S. is trying to help by sharing its assessments, but the decision to risk leaving shelter is ultimately up to the Ukrainian government and the people themselves.

“What gives pause is the fact there have been agreements on humanitarian corridors established before that have fallen apart very, very quickly, if not immediately, principally because the security has been violated by Russian forces. And so people leaving, believing that they could do so safely and securely, were fired on,” he said. “We will do everything that we can to try to inform that decision.”

Blinken said the world witnessed “death and destruction and atrocities” after the Russians retreated from Bucha, and “we can only anticipate that when this tide also recedes from Mariupol we’re going to see far worse, if that’s possible to imagine.”

(AP)

04.20.2022
21:42

Zelenskyy offers trade for trapped Mariupol civilians

About 1,000 civilians are trapped at a steel mill in Mariupol along with Ukrainian soldiers, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday.

“Behind the backs of our guys in Mariupol there are around a thousand civilians, including women and children,” he said after talks with European Council President Charles Michel.

Zelenskyy added that Russia has stonewalled Ukraine’s attempts to negotiate a safe exit for them. “We are open to different formats of exchange of our people for Russian people, Russian military that they have left behind," he said.

Ukraine also has tried to get Russia to agree on a humanitarian corridor to evacuate the 120,000 people who Zelenskyy said remain under siege in Mariupol.

(AP)

04.20.2022
20:06

Mariupol evacuation stalls, Ukraine blames Russia

Ukraine's deputy prime minister said on Wednesday that an agreed humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol had not worked as planned, blaming Russian forces for not holding their ceasefire.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk also said Russian-organised buses failed to deliver evacuees on time to the point where Ukrainian buses and ambulances were waiting.

Ukrainian officials estimated that about 1,000 civilians were sheltering underneath the vast Azovstal steel plant, which is the last Ukrainian stronghold in the southeastern port city of Mariupol.

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday said that country's armed forces have been unable to "unblock" Mariupol, which has been besieged by Russian forces in a recent push by its military.

He was speaking at a news conference alongside European Council President Charles Michel.

Michel is the latest European leader to visit Zelenskyy in Kyiv since the beginning of the conflict.

(Reuters and AP)

04.20.2022
18:55

Testing of Russian missile 'not a threat', says US

The Pentagon has responded to Russia's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, saying it does not constitute "a threat" to the United States or its allies. 

The US Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby described the launch as "no surprise."

Moscow "appropriately informed" the US that it would take place, in accordance with Russia's obligations under existing nuclear treaties.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the test fire took place at 3:12 p.m. (12:12 GMT) and hit a target located more than 5,000 kilometres away.

Vladimir Putin praised the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile as "a unique weapon."

"[It] will ensure Russia's security against external threats. and which will make potential opponents think twice," he said. 

The missile - which weighs over 200 tons - is supposed to outperform previous Russian models, which can hit targets 11,000 km away. 

04.20.2022
18:45

Zelenskyy: Ukraine 'ready' to swap Russian prisoners of war 

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says he is ready to swap Russian prisoners of war in exchange for safe passage for civilians and Ukrainian troops in Mariupol.

Zelenskyy said there are an estimated 1,000 civilians sheltering in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, following a visit from President of the European Council, Charles Michel. 

He added that the situation in the besieged Ukrainian city is worsening, with hundreds of wounded without access to medical care.

The Ukrainian leader went on to say that he had not seen or heard about a document that the Kremlin said it had sent to Ukraine in connection with peace talks.

Earlier Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Moscow was waiting for a response after it had handed a document to the Ukrainian side.

04.20.2022
18:12

New Russian offensive in Kyiv still possible, warns city's mayor

In an interview with Euronews, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko did not rule out a another Russian offensive against the Ukrainian capital.