Kyiv calls on UN to help with Mariupol evacuation, as Russia strikes rail infrastructure

Russia unleashed a string of attacks against Ukrainian rail and fuel installations Monday, striking crucial infrastructure far from the front line of its eastern offensive.
Russia unleashed a string of attacks against Ukrainian rail and fuel installations Monday, striking crucial infrastructure far from the front line of its eastern offensive.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Leo Correa
By Euronews  with AP, AFP

Ukraine's government said there was no agreement on an evacuation ceasefire with Russia in Mariupol, and called on the UN to broker a deal to rescue trapped civilians.

Russian forces have now shifted their focus to the offensive in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.

Heavy shelling and fighting have continued in the east and south as Russia's army attempts to establish control over the region.

Follow our blog below to see how events unfolded on Monday 25 April: 


Monday's key points:

  • Ukraine has called on the UN to broker a deal with Russia to evacuate civilians trapped in Mariupol.
  • The call from the foreign minister comes after Kyiv poured cold water on Russia's announcement of a 'unilateral' ceasefire at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol to allow civilians to leave. Deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk says no agreement had been reached.
  • Ukrainian officials say the Russian military has unleashed a series of strikes on the country’s railways, killing five people.
  • The Russian military has struck a Ukrainian oil refinery along with scores of other targets, the Russian Defence Ministry said Monday.
  • A fire has erupted at a Russian oil depot near the border with Ukraine, Russia's TASS news agency reports.
  • Ukraine's President Zelenskyy met with the US secretaries of state and defence on Sunday night in the highest-level visit to the country’s capital by an American delegation since the start of the war.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia is failing in its war aims and Ukraine is succeeding. The US is giving Ukraine new military assistance.
  • Kyiv has reacted angrily to comments by Austria's foreign minister questioning full EU membership for Ukraine.
  • A newly released video shows Ukrainian children in an underground bunker in Mariupol receiving Easter presents.
  • More than 5.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to UNHCR figures. 


That's our Ukraine live blog wrapping up for Monday evening. We're back on Tuesday morning at 6am with the latest developments throughout the day, as the UN Secretary General visits Moscow for talks. 


New mass grave found near Mariupol

Officials in the embattled Ukrainian port of Mariupol say a new mass grave has been identified north of the city.

Mayor Vadym Boychenko said authorities are trying to estimate the number of victims in the grave about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) north of Mariupol.

Satellite photos released over the past several days have shown what appear to be images of other mass graves.

Mariupol has been decimated by fierce fighting over the past two months. The capture of the city would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.



Russia wants to continue peace talks with Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country will continue peace talks with Ukraine, while accusing Ukraine of "pretending" to talk, and warning of the "real" danger of a third world war.

Quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday evening, Lavrov said: "Goodwill has its limits. And if it is not reciprocated, it does not contribute to the negotiation process."

"But we continue to hold negotiations with the team delegated by (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy, and these contacts will continue," he added.

Lavrov accused the Ukrainian president -- a former comedian elected to the presidency in 2019 -- of "pretending" to negotiate.

"He is a good actor (...), if you look carefully and read carefully what he says, you will find a thousand contradictions," the Russia's chief diplomat said. 

In this context of unprecedented tensions between Russia and the West due to the Russian offensive in Ukraine, he warned of the "real" danger of a third world war.

"The danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated," Lavrov said, quoted by the Interfax agency.

As for the conflict in Ukraine, he said he was confident that "everything will of course end with the signing of an agreement".

"But the modalities of this agreement will depend on the situation of fighting on the ground, when this agreement becomes a reality."



Russia criticises Croatia over expelled diplomats' treatment

Moscow is accusing Croatia of having an anti-Russian policy for failing to provide “humanitarian” passage for 24 Russian diplomats and embassy staff who were expelled from the country over the war in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Monday that the government of Croatia is “systematically destroying bilateral relations,” according to the Russian TASS news agency.

“The inhumane, cynical attitude towards our fellow countrymen won’t go without an answer,” she added.

Croatia has followed several other European Union states in expelling Russian diplomats for the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday that Zakharova’s claims are Russian propaganda and that the expelled Russians already left the country, probably via neighboring Serbia. He added that Russia “attacked Ukraine, which is our friendly country, killed women and children and we responded to it like most other countries.”



Ukraine wants UN to broker Mariupol evacuation

Ukraine's foreign minister says he wants the UN to broker a deal with Russia to evacuate trapped Mariupol residents, but warns the UN Secretary General not to fall into the Kremlin's diplomatic 'trap'.

Read more at our story here:


Russian authorities update death toll from military facility fire

Authorities in Russia have updated the death toll from a fire last week, which badly damaged a military research facility. 

The regional government in Tver, said on Monday that 17 people were confirmed killed in the blaze, and that so far only five of the victims had been identified.

The fire at the Central Research Institute for Air and Space Defense of the Russian Defense Ministry in Tver, a city about 180 kilometers northwest of Moscow broke out on Thursday and it took authorities a day to extinguish.

Officials previously said six people had been killed, with 27 injured and 13 of them hospitalized.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear.

The research institute was involved in the development of some of the state-of-the-art Russian weapons systems, reportedly including the Iskander missile.

Firefighters hose down the burning building of the Central Research Institute of the Aerospace Defense Forces in the Russian city of Tver, Russia, 21 April 2022 / Vitaliy Smolnikov/Kommersant Publishing House via AP

Explosions reported in Moldova separatist region 

Police in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria say several explosions believed to be caused by rocket-propelled grenades hit the Ministry of State Security on Monday.

No injuries were immediately reported. The Interior Ministry said in a Facebook post that some of the building’s windows were broken and that smoke was coming from the structure.

Transnistria, a strip of land with about 470,000 people between Moldova and Ukraine, has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova, but also has a sizable ethnic Ukrainian population. 

Russia bases about 1,500 troops there nominally as peacekeepers, but concerns are high that the forces could be used to invade Ukraine.

A senior Russian military official said last week that Russian forces aim to take full control of southern Ukraine, saying such a move would open the way to Transnistria.


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Poland buys short-range anti-aircraft missiles

The Polish military is buying short-range surface-to-air missile systems, with the first two units to be fast-tracked for delivery. 

The Narew anti-aircraft missiles have a range of about 25 kilometres and the Polish military will acquire 23 of the systems from the UK subsidiary of the European consortium MBDA, in a deal reportedly worth between 11 billion and 15 billion euros. 

The agreement covers the integration of MBDA-produced launchers and missiles with the radio-location station and the communication and control system manufactured by the Polish defence industry.

Poland is still using old Soviet-designed anti-aircraft systems, but has accelerated the purchase and deployment of modern weapons since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In 2018, Poland purchased two US long-range Patriot surface-to-air missile systems, which are due for delivery this year.

(Euronews / AFP)

For a summary of Sunday's developments, click here.

Additional sources • Reuters

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