Ukraine war: Mariupol mayor accuses Russia of chemical agent attack

Russian troops inspect streets of Mariupol
Russian troops inspect streets of Mariupol   -  Copyright  Rodrigo Abd/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
By Euronews  with AP, AFP

World leaders have pledged military aid and support for Ukraine. Earlier, Mariupol's mayor accused Russia of using a chemical agent on the outskirts of the city.

The war in Ukraine is now in its seventh week, as Russian forces are expected to begin a new big offensive in the east of the country after their retreat from the Kyiv region and other parts of the country revealed growing evidence of human rights atrocities.

Despite Moscow's blanket denials, horrific discoveries of civilian murders, torture and other barbaric acts continue coming to light, with Ukrainian authorities claiming tens of thousands of civilian casualties in Mariupol alone.

Kyiv forces continue to prepare for the renewed assault, while Western nations keep tightening sanctions against Moscow and NATO and some EU countries promise to keep delivering more weapons to Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Follow Wednesday's events as they unfold in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player above.


Wednesday's key points:

  • Russia has been accused of dropping a chemical agenton the outskirts of Mariupol on 11 April by the city's mayor.

  • Biden has approved $800m in military aid for Ukraine, including helicopters and artillery, after accusing Vladimir Putin of committing "genocide" in the country.

  • Finland and Sweden are both mulling NATO membership.

  • Polish and Baltic presidents met Zelenskyy in Kyiv, with some pledging more military support. 

  • The UK has slapped more sanctions on Russia, saying it will target those who 'aid and abet Putin's war.'

  • The German government has defended their president after he was told he wasn't welcome at Wednesday's meeting in Kyiv.

  • Putin vows Russia's goals in Ukraine will be achieved as they press on with military action. He said talks were deadlocked.

  • The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it was 'concerned' by an unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use, a spokesperson said.

  • More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in Mariupol, the southern port city's mayor claimed.

  • More than 4.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion, with millions being displaced internally, mostly in the western parts of the country.

  • Additionally, 4.8 million of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children have been displaced since 24 February, said UNICEF.


Closing up

That's the end of our live updates today, please join us for more coverage from 6am on Thursday. 


Russia irked by oligarch's detention in Ukraine 

The detention of the fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk has been met with irritation in Moscow. 

Medvedchuk is a close associate of Russian leader Vladimir Putin and once led a pro-Russian opposition party in Ukraine. 

Analysts believe Medvedchuk will become a valuable bargaining chip if Russia and Ukraine enter talks to bring about an end to the bloody conflict. 

The 67-year-old oligarch had been on the run for several days before he was caught in a special operation by Ukraine's security services. 

He faces between 15 years and life in prison on charges of treason and aiding a terrorist organisation.



Biden ticks off $800m in military aid to Ukraine 

US President Joe Biden has approved $800 million (€735 million) in new military assistance for Ukraine to bolster its defences against Russia. 

Artillery and helicopters are among the items being given to Ukraine as it faces an intensified Russian offensive in the east. 

Biden made the announcement after a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, where the two coordinated the delivery of the aid, which includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armoured personnel carriers and helicopters. 

"The steady supply of weapons the United States and its Allies and partners have provided to Ukraine has been critical in sustaining its fight against the Russian invasion,” Biden said in a statement. “It has helped ensure that Putin failed in his initial war aims to conquer and control Ukraine.

"We cannot rest now,” he added. 



WHO chief slams world for 'singular focus' on Ukraine

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised the global community for its almost singular focus on the war in Ukraine, arguing there are crises elsewhere deserving attention. 

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed that other world problems were not receiving equal consideration because those suffering aren't white. 

In a press briefing on Wednesday, he said he didn’t know “if the world really gives equal attention to black and white lives,” since the ongoing emergencies in Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria have caught only a “fraction” of the global concern for Ukraine.

Tedros acknowledged that the situation in Ukraine was globally significant, but questioned if other crises were receiving enough attention. 

He pointed to the siege of the Tigray region in Ethiopia by Eritrean and Ethiopian forces, noting that a recent truce had still not allowed significant amounts of much-needed humanitarian aid.

"I need to be blunt and honest that the world is not treating the human race the same way," he said. "Some are more equal than others."



$7 billion Abramovich-linked assets frozen

Assets connected to the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have been frozen in the Channel Island of Jersey. 

They are estimated to be worth more than $7 billion (€6.4 billion).

The Law Offices Department of Jersey, a self-governing British crown dependency, said on Wednesday that the assets being targeted were either located in Jersey, or owned by Jersey-incorporated entities. 

It also said that police executed a search warrant on Tuesday at an address suspected to be connected to Abramovich's business activities. 

No further details were provided. 

Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea FC, has been sanctioned by the UK and EU due to his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 



UK slaps new sanctions on Russia 

The UK has announced more sanctions on Russia related to the country's war in Ukraine. 

Some 178 individuals, who are key figures in the Kremlin-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, have been targeted by the sanctions. 

Among those sanctioned are Alexander Ananchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, and Sergey Kozlov, chair of government in the Luhansk People’s Republic.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the sanctions were being coordinated with the EU, and come after rocket attacks struck civilians in eastern Ukraine. 

Truss says the UK was sanctioning "those who prop up the illegal breakaway regions and are complicit in atrocities against the Ukrainian people.

"We will continue to target all those who aid and abet Putin’s war," she added. 



Latvia to give drone training to Ukrainians 

Latvia says it will train Ukrainian soldiers to use drones against Russia. 

"We must do everything we can to promote Ukraine's victory and to defend its principles of self-determination and sovereignty," said the country's Defence Minister Artis Pabriks.

Unmanned aerial vehicles were delivered by two Latvian companies he added. 

Latvia has already given Ukraine powerful Stinger anti-air systems, alongside personal equipment, food supplies, ammunition, and anti-tank weaponry, totalling more than €200 million ($216 million).



Mariupol mayor makes chemical attack claim

Vadym Boichenko, mayor of Mariupol, has claimed Russian planes dropped a chemical agent in towns and villages on the outskirts of the besieged city. 

Speaking at an online press conference, he said the attack occurred on 11 April. 

"They sensed a sweet taste in their mouths in the towns and villages around Mariupol," said Boichenko, referring to the locals affected. "They started fleeing because they sensed danger."

Boichenko also claimed Russia was carrying out a genocide of Mariupol's Ukrainian population.

Euronews cannot independently verify these claims.

Click to listen to Boichenko's press conference in full.


Polish and Baltic presidents arrive in Kyiv

A top aide to Poland’s President Andrzej Duda says Duda and the presidents of the three Baltic nations have arrived in Ukraine, ahead of talks about material aid for the country.

Pawel Szrot, chief of Duda’s staff, said Wednesday that Duda, “together with the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, is currently on the territory of Ukraine. They are travelling to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.”

For security reasons, he gave no details.

Duda brings "symbolic support, with political support and for talks on material support,“ Szrot said, adding that all four countries are “extending support to Ukraine that is of humanitarian nature and not necessarily of humanitarian nature."

These countries, all of which border Russia or its exclave of Kaliningrad, have been providing Ukraine with weapons that they call “defensive”.

Pictures of the four presidents getting on a train have been posted on their social media.

In a Twitter post, Estonian President Alar Karis said: "We are visiting Ukraine to show strong support to the Ukrainian people, will meet dear friend President Zelenskyy.“


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