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Ukraine war: Russia wants to 'break us down' with missile attacks, says Ukrainian official

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
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Vehicles are on fire at an oil depot after missiles struck the facility in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Makiivka, 15 km east of Donetsk
Vehicles are on fire at an oil depot after missiles struck the facility in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces in Makiivka, 15 km east of Donetsk   -   Copyright  AP Photo

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of “resorting to the missile terrorism tactics in order to spread fear across Ukraine" as air raid sirens sounded in cities across the country.

Meanwhile, fresh attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol were underway on Wednesday, the day after more than 100 arrived to Ukrainian-held territory and relative safety.

The European Commission has proposed a new raft of sanctions against Moscow, including a ban on Russian oil imports.

See how the day unfolded in the blog below, and watch Euronews TV coverage in the video player above.

05.04.2022
06:54

Wednesday's key points:

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to rescue the injured at the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol, which was besieged by Russian forces.

  • Air raid sirens sounded in cities across Ukraine on Wednesday night and missile fire followed shortly after in the cities of Cherkasy, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.

  • Missile strikes are continuing across Ukraine as Russia tries to hinder Ukrainian resupply efforts, UK says.

  • The mayor of Mariupol told national TV that contact had been lost with the last Ukrainian fighters at the Mariupol steel plant after heavy fighting.

  • Evacuations from Mariupol resumed on Wednesday, the regional governor said. Earlier, President Zelenskyy confirmed that 156 civilians evacuated from the city had arrived in Ukrainian-controlled Zaporizhzhia
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has unveiled a proposal to impose an EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports, in a speech to the European Parliament.
  • The plan, to be put to EU27 governments, is opposed by Hungary and Slovakia, highly dependent on Russian oil. Budapest says it regrets the lack of an energy security "guarantee".
  • A Russian state aircraft violated Finnish airspace, Finland's ministry of defence said in a statement.
  • Moscow has said Western arms shipments to Ukraine are legitimate targets. Its attacks on Tuesday included strikes on key infrastructure such as railways and power plants. Ukraine says there were dozens of casualties.
  • Russia claims "Israeli mercenaries" are fighting in Ukraine alongside the Azov regiment, further fueling a diplomatic row between the two countries.
  • An AP investigation estimates that 600 people died in a Russian strike on a Mariupol theatre in March.

05.04.2022
23:03

Russia wants to 'break us down' with missile attacks, says Ukraine

"Another night in Ukraine, another barrage of Russian missiles raining down on peaceful Ukrainian cities," said Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.

He accused Russia of wanting to "break us down with their missile terrorism" as air raid sirens sounded in cities across the country and attacks were reported near Kyiv, the capital; in Cherkasy and Dnipro in central Ukraine; and in Zaporizhzhia in the southeast.

05.04.2022
22:20

Missile strikes continue across Ukraine as Russia tries to hinder Ukrainian resupply efforts, UK says

The UK's Ministry of Defence said that even though Russian ground operations were focussing on eastern Ukraine, "missile strikes continue across the country as Russia attempts to hamper Ukrainian resupply efforts."

The defence ministry added in its latest defence intelligence update that strikes continued to hit non-military targets "indicating Russia’s willingness to target civilian infrastructure in an attempt to weaken Ukrainian resolve."

The UK said that they continued to pursue key cities which would give them full control of the Black Sea and enable them to "control Ukraine's sea lines of communication, negatively impacting their economy."

05.04.2022
21:57

EU eyes sanctions for Russian Orthodox Church head

The European Union plans to sanction the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in its next round of measures to punish Russia's invasion of Ukraine, EU diplomats said on Wednesday, opening a new religious front in Europe’s sanctions regime.

The proposal, which must be approved by the 27-member bloc, drew immediate criticism from the Russian Orthodox Church, which also lashed out Wednesday at Pope Francis for his recent comments about Patriarch Kirill.

Kirill, the head of one of the largest and most influential churches in Eastern Orthodoxy, has justified Russia’s invasion on spiritual grounds, describing it as a “metaphysical” battle against the West and its “gay parades.”

Three EU diplomats with direct knowledge of the discussions said negotiations to add Kirill’s name to the EU list of sanctioned individuals were continuing on Wednesday. If approved by EU members, Kirill would face travel bans and a freeze of assets, joining 1,093 individuals, including Putin and oligarchs, as well as 80 entities already subject to the punishing measures.

In a statement Wednesday, the Russian Orthodox Church vowed the sanctions would never intimidate Kirill and would just prolong the conflict.

(AP)

05.04.2022
21:42

Zelenskyy calls on UN chief to help injured at Mariupol steel plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to rescue the injured at the Azovstal steelworks plant in Mariupol, which was besieged by Russian forces.

"The lives of the people who remain there are in danger. Everyone is important to us. We ask for your help in saving them," Zelenskyy said, according to a statement on his website.

Zelenskyy also thanked the Secretary-General for his efforts to evacuate Ukrainians from the plant. The UN and International Committee of the Red Cross aided in evacuation efforts on Sunday in Mariupol.

"The whole world has learned about the role of the UN and the ICRC in this. This has shown that international organisations can be effective," Zelenskyy said, according to a press statement.

05.04.2022
21:19

Russia announces ceasefire at steelworks factory in Mariupol to evacuate civilians

Russia announced on Wednesday that its forces would ceasefire on the steel plant in the port city of Mariupol and open a humanitarian corridor for three days from Thursday to evacuate civilians.

The armed forces said they would open a humanitarian corridor from 8:00 to 18:00 Moscow time on May 5, 6, and 7 from the Azovstal steel plant to evacuate civilians.

(AFP)
 

05.04.2022
21:15

Some 600 died in Mariupol theatre bombing, AP estimates

An AP investigation has estimated that around 600 people died in the Mariupol theatre bombing on March 16.

The estimate is based on accounts from survivors of the bombing, rescuers, as well as floor plans, experts, photos and video.

The Ukrainian government estimated early on that about 300 people died.

AP journalists arrived at a much higher number through the reconstruction of a 3D model of the building's floorplan reviewed repeatedly by direct witnesses, most from within the theatre, who described in detail where people were sheltering.

05.04.2022
20:22

Air raid sirens, missile fire in Ukraine

Air raid sirens sounded in cities across Ukraine on Wednesday night and missile fire followed shortly after in the cities of Cherkasy, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.

In Dnipro, Mayor Borys Filatov said one strike hit the centre of the city. The strikes in Dnipro also hit a railroad facility, authorities initially said, without elaborating. Ukrainian Railways said none of its staff were injured in the Dnipro attack.

Complaining that the West is “stuffing Ukraine with weapons,” Russia bombarded railroad stations and other supply-line points across the country. Meanwhile, the European Union moved to further punish Moscow for the war by proposing a ban on oil imports, a crucial source of revenue for Russia.

(AP)

05.04.2022
18:38

Discussions around EU ban on Russian oil turning fraught

Ambassadors of EU countries are currently discussing the European Commission’s proposal to impose a gradual and “orderly” EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the long-awaited measure on Wednesday morning and said member states will have six months to phase out crude oil and until the end of the year to stop buying refined oil products from Russia.

But the proposal, the most radical yet since the Ukraine war broke out, is becoming a source of great friction among national representatives. The main point of contention is the timeline envisioned by the Commission. Initially, Hungary and Slovakia, two countries highly dependent on Russian oil, were supposed to be granted an extra year, until the end of 2023, to complete the phase-out.

But Hungary has said it cannot support the ban in its current form because the country won’t be able to secure alternative suppliers to fill the gap left by Russian pipeline oil. According to diplomatic sources consulted by Euronews, Slovakia is now pushing for a December 2024 deadline to complete the phase-out, two years later than what von der Leyen announced.

Bulgaria, which last month saw how Gazprom cut off its gas supplies, has also raised concerns and is asking for a similar exemption.

Meanwhile, a group of coastal states, including Cyprus, Malta, Greece, the Netherlands and Belgium, are asking the Commission to come up with a cost-benefit analysis to determine how much economic damage their local shipping industries could sustain as a result of the EU ban. Most Russian oil is traded via ships from Russia to Europe and other regions.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo called on Wednesday for “collective compensation” and stressed the need for European unity.

The discussions between EU Ambassadors are shaping up to be the most consequential, lengthy and fraught since the start of the conflict. Sanctions require the unanimous approval of all 27 member states.

05.04.2022
17:55

Finnish PM hopes possible future NATO ratification process is 'as short as possible'

Finland's prime minister said she hopes that the NATO ratification process is "as short as possible" if her country decides to apply to the military alliance.

"If Finland, and Sweden would decide to apply for NATO membership, the key issue is to keep the process, the ratification process as short as possible," said Sanna Marin on Wednesday.

"I think it's (in) everybody's interest, that different countries will move as fast as possible. That would be the best security guarantee that we could have."

She added that there were discussions with NATO member states on "what kind of security guarantees or security issues" they could have if they choose to apply.

For a summary of Tuesday's developments in the war, click here.

Additional sources • Reuters