Ukraine war: 120,000 civilians trapped in Mariupol, says Zelenskyy as evacuations halt

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Servicemen of Donetsk People's Republic militia walk past damaged vehicles in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, April 19, 2022.
Servicemen of Donetsk People's Republic militia walk past damaged vehicles in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Mariupol, April 19, 2022.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told Russian forces not to storm Ukraine's last stronghold in the port city of Mariupol as the city's Ukrainian defenders said they may only have a few days or hours left.

It comes after Ukrainian officials called for a "special round of negotiations" in Mariupol without conditions as Russia's offensive intensifies in the east.

Read the latest updates from Ukraine in our blog below and watch our TV coverage in the video player above.


Thursday's key points:

  • No residents could be evacuated from Mariupol on Thursday due to continuing Russian shelling of agreed-to humanitarian corridors, Ukraine's deputy PM said.

  • Ukraine's President Zelenskyy has said some 120,000 civilians are still trapped in the besieged port city. Just a handful of buses evacuating civilians arrived in Zaporizhzhia after leaving Mariupol earlier.

  • Vladimir Putin told Russian forces to lay siege to the last Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol rather than storming the industrial site where they are holding out, "in such a way that not a single fly would pass".

  • Joe Biden says it is "questionable" that Russia controls the city, after Moscow said earlier that it had been "liberated".

  • The US president pledged $800 million (€737 million) in military aid for Ukraine, saying it is the 'frontline of freedom'. He also announced a ban on Russian ships from US ports.

  • The Luhansk governor said Russian forces now control 80% of the region, which is one of two regions that make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

  • Estonia and Latvia recognised the Russian war in Ukraine as 'genocide'. Euronews' Valérie Gauriat has heard more testimony of Russian atrocities in Borodianka

  • Mark Zuckerberg and the US Vice President Kamala Harris have been sanctioned by Russia, in a tit-for-tat exchange with the US.


'No green corridors': Ukraine says Russian shelling halts Mariupol evacuations

No residents could be evacuated from the encircled city of Mariupol on Thursday due to continuing Russian shelling of agreed-to humanitarian corridors, Ukrainian deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post on Thursday evening.

In the same post, Vereshchuk acknowledged that on Wednesday, a four-bus convoy was allowed to transport 79 civilians from Mariupol to Kyiv-controlled territory in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia region - a development she said “gave her hope.”

Read the full story here:

Ukraine blames Russian shelling for sabotaging Mariupol evacuations

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says 120,000 civilians are trapped in Mariupol. On Thursday Ukraine said none could be evacuated due to Russian shelling.


Ukraine receives 19 prisoners of war from Russia — deputy PM

Russia handed over to Ukraine 10 soldiers, including two officers, and nine civilians in an exchange of prisoners of war, Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister said on Thursday.

"This time there were wounded among those released and ... now they will be able to receive full treatment and undergo rehabilitation," she said in Telegram messaging app.



17% of Ukraine's population internally displaced — UN agency

More than 600,000 additional people were internally displaced in Ukraine in the first 17 days of April, the International Organization for Migration said on Thursday, pushing the total number since the start of the war above 7.7 million, or 17% of the population.

The new assessment conducted between April 11 and 17 showed that women represent at least 60% of those on the run. More than half of internally displaced persons -- mainly in the east of Ukraine -- reported a lack of some food products, the UN agency added in a report.

More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, UN data show.



'Thousands buried' in mass grave near Mariupol — mayor

As many as 9,000 civilians could be buried in a mass grave in the village of Manhush outside Mariupol, the city’s mayor said in a Telegram post Thursday.

“The greatest war crime of the 21st century has been committed in Mariupol. This is the new Babi Yar,” Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said, referring to the site of multiple Nazi massacres in which nearly 34,000 Ukrainian Jews were killed in 1941.

“Then Hitler killed Jews, Roma and Slavs. And now Putin is destroying Ukrainians. He has already killed tens of thousands of civilians in Mariupol,” he added. “This requires a strong reaction from the entire world. We need to stop the genocide by any means possible.”

In a separate statement earlier Thursday, Boychenko alleged the Russians had dug huge trenches near Manhush, 20 kilometres west of Mariupol, and were “hiding their war crimes” by dumping bodies there.

On Thursday evening, Ukrainian media published satellite photos of Manhush, showing what they said were mass graves similar to - although much larger in size from - the ones discovered in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. The accuracy of these claims and images could not be immediately verified.

A private U.S. company said on Thursday said satellite imagery from Manhush shows a mass grave site that has expanded in recent weeks to contain more than 200 new graves.

Maxar Technologies said a review of images from mid-March through mid-April indicates the expansion began between March 23-26. The site lies adjacent to an existing cemetery in the village west of Mariupol, Maxar said.

(AP and Reuters)

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on April 21, 2022, shows an overview of a cemetery and expansion of graves site on the northwestern edge of Manhush. SATELLITE IMAGE ©2022 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES / AFP

Holocaust survivor dies in Mariupol siege

A 91-year-old Holocaust survivor has died in a basement in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

The Judaism website and the Auschwitz Memorial announced the death of Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova., a website run by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, reported that Obiedkova's daughter shared the news about her mother after arriving to a safe location with the rest of her family. The daughter said Obiedkova died pleading for water in a freezing basement on April 4.

Obiedkova was 10 years old when the Nazis occupied Mariupol in 1941 and killed thousands of Jews in a single day, including her mother. She survived in a basement then, and died in a basement in the same city 81 years later. (AP)


Ukraine needs $7 billion a month to make up for losses — Zelenskyy

Ukraine needs $7 billion (€6.45 billion) a month to compensate for economic losses caused by Russia's war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday.

"And we will need hundreds of billions of dollars for reconstruction," he said during a roundtable discussion on aid to Ukraine at a meeting of the IMF and World Bank in Washington.



Russia accused of burying dead civilians to 'hide' their alleged 'military crimes'

Russian forces have been accused of burying the bodies of Ukrainian civilians in order to cover up their "military crimes" by Mariupol's mayor. 

Vadym Boychenko, mayor of the besieged city, alleged on Thursday that the Russians had buried hundreds of civilians on the outskirts of Mariupol. 

This claim cannot be independently verified, with Russia saying publically that it has not targeted civilians. 

"The bodies started disappearing from the streets of the city,” said Boychenko during an online briefing, adding that Russia's troops were “hiding the trace of their crimes and using mass graves as one of the instruments for that.”

“They are hiding their military crimes,” he continued. 

Boychenko said that the Russians dug huge trenches near Manhush, 20 kilometres (about 12 miles) west of Mariupol. Here they took " the bodies of the dead residents of Mariupol in trucks and throw them into those trenches.” 

Four people who died during the Russian occupation await burial during funerals in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti).

120,000 civilians blocked from leaving Mariupol: Zelenskyy

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said some 120,000 civilians are blocked from leaving the besieged city of Mariupol. 

Only a handful of buses evacuating civilians from Mariupol, which has been attacked since the start of the war, reportedly arrived in Zaporizhia Thursday.

Watch Mairupol evacuees arrive by bus in the southeastern city here



UK bans imports of caviar from Russia 

The UK's department for international trade has announced a ban on imports of Russian caviar and other high-end products.

This latest round of sanctions will cover silver and wood products, while tariffs on imports of diamonds and rubber from Russia and Belarus are being hiked by 35%. 

"We are taking every opportunity we can to ratchet the pressure to isolate the Russian economy," said the UK's UK’s international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, in a statement. 

"These further measures will tighten the screws, shutting down lucrative avenues of funding for [Vladimir] Putin’s war machine," she added.