Russia-Ukraine war latest: Russia demands Mariupol surrender as fewer civilians than hoped escape besieged city – live | Ukraine

Mariupol evacuation did not work as planned, says Ukraine

Donetsk’s governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said fewer buses than planned were able to reach civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol today, Reuters reports.

As a result, not many people were evacuated from Mariupol as city authorities had hoped, he said.

Ukrainian MP, Inna Sovsun, shared a video reportedly showing a convoy of stationary buses hours after the humanitarian corridor from the port city was meant to be open.

The humanitarian corridor from #Mariupol was supposed to open at 14:00. This is a video shot 4 hours past said time showing buses&ambulances in Orikhiv still waiting for evacuees. #Ukraine did everything from our side. But #russians are just ignoring the agreement.

— Inna Sovsun (@InnaSovsun) April 20, 2022

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, blamed Russia’s “lack of control over their own military on the ground”, AP’s Philip Crowther said.

That humanitarian corridor out of Mariupol did not work out today, says Ukrainian Deputy PM Vereshchuk, due to Russia’s “lack of control over their own military on the ground”. She says Russia did not provide transport for civilians to reach the waiting buses and ambulances.

— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) April 20, 2022

Mariupol’s mayor earlier said he hoped 90 buses would be able to enter the city and take out about 6,000 women, children and elderly people.

Kyrylenko said:

People of course gathered at the agreed meeting points, but few of them got onto the buses.

Local media reported that the meeting points had been hit by artillery, according to NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell.

On Mariupol humanitarian corridor, @ErinNBCNews: “There had been an agreement…to evacuate 6,000 women, children & elderly…There are some local media reports, however, that the meeting points…had been hit by artillery…effectively collapsing the corridor” #AMRstaff

— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) April 20, 2022

Intel suggests looming Russian cyberattack, US and allies say

Five allied countries including the United States have warned that “evolving intelligence” indicates Russia is poised to launch powerful cyberattacks against rivals supporting Ukraine.

The members of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing network – the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – said Moscow could also involve existing cybercrime groups in launching attacks on governments, institutions and businesses, AFP reports.

“Evolving intelligence indicates that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks,” they said in an official cyber threat alert.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could expose organisations both within and beyond the region to increased malicious cyber activity. This activity may occur as a response to the unprecedented economic costs imposed on Russia as well as materiel support provided by the United States and US allies and partners.

In addition, it said, “some cybercrime groups have recently publicly pledged support for the Russian government. “

“Some groups have also threatened to conduct cyber operations against countries and organisations providing materiel support to Ukraine,” it said.

Wednesday’s alert said Russian state-sponsored cyber actors have the ability to compromise IT networks, to steal large amounts of data from them while remaining hidden, to deploy destructive malware and to lock down networks with “distributed denial of service” attacks.

The alert identified more than a dozen hacking groups, both parts of Russian intelligence and military bodies and privately operated, which present threats.

It warned that infrastructure could be particularly targeted in countries Moscow might want to take action against.

US, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and UK cybersecurity authorities urge critical infrastructure network defenders to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats – including destructive malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and cyber espionage – by hardening their cyber defences and performing due diligence in identifying indicators of malicious activity,” the alert said.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, said Russian forces would be in complete control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Thursday.

“Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation,” he said in an audio message posted online early on Thursday as seen by Reuters.

Chechen forces have been fighting in Ukraine as part of Russia’s military operation.

Mariupol would be the biggest city to be seized by Russia since invading Ukraine eight weeks ago.

Ukraine is working to convince western allies to shift Russia’s shipments of natural gas from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Ukraine’s pipeline, increasing Kyiv’s leverage in its conflict with Russia, energy officials told Reuters.

Doing so, they said, would force Russia to move more of its Europe-bound gas through Ukraine. That would make Moscow pay more transit fees that could help Ukraine’s wartime defence and deter Russia from damaging Ukraine’s gas pipelines in the meantime, they told lawmakers and Biden administration officials in Washington last week.

Representatives from Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator and gas firm Naftogaz spent a week in Washington meeting administration officials and congressional lawmakers to urge them to convince Germany and other European allies to adopt the plan.

Russia “depends on us transporting gas from Russia to Europe. This is something to leverage in our discussions with them and Europe can help,” said Olga Bielkova, director of international affairs for the Gas Transit System Operator of Ukraine, in an interview in Washington.

Italy has signed a deal with the southern African country of Angola to ramp up gas supplies as it scrambles to break away from Russian gas.

A declaration of intent was signed to develop “new” natural gas ventures and to increase exports to Italy, a statement from the Italian foreign minister announced on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports.

Today we have reached another important agreement with Angola to increase gas supplies. Italy’s commitment to differentiate energy supply sources is confirmed.”

Prime minister Mario Draghi wants to add Angola and Congo-Brazzaville to a portfolio of suppliers to substitute Russia, which provides about 45% of Italian gas.

In an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily published on Sunday, Draghi said:

We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become political subjection.

Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time – quicker than we imagined just a month ago.”

Cingolani described the deal as “an important agreement that gives impetus to the partnership between Italy and Angola in the fields of renewables, biofuels, LNG (liquefied natural gas) and training in technology and environment”.

Italy is one of Europe’s biggest guzzlers of gas, which currently represents 42% of its energy consumption, and it imports 95% of the gas it uses.

Ukraine proposes negotiations with Russia in Mariupol

Ukraine is ready to resolve the issue of unblocking Mariupol and evacuating civilians through diplomacy and has proposed to hold a “special round” of negotiations with Russia in the besieged city, officials said.

Ukraine negotiator and presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak responded late on Wednesday:

Yes. Without any conditions. We’re ready to hold a ‘special round of negotiations’ right in Mariupol.

One on one. Two on two. To save our guys, Azov, military, civilians, children, the living & the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever,” he tweeted.

Yes. Without any conditions. We’re ready to hold a “special round of negotiations” right in Mariupol. One on one. Two on two. To save our guys, Azov, military, civilians, children, the living & the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 20, 2022

Another key Ukrainian negotiator, David Arakhamia, said on Telegram that he and Podolyak “are ready to arrive in Mariupol to hold talks with the Russian side on the evacuation of our military garrison and civilians”.

As yet another desperate attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol failed Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that “the situation in Mariupol is deteriorating” with thousands of troops and civilians stuck in the city.

Zelenskiy said his country is ready to resolve the issues in Mariupol but Russia has “not yet shown readiness to take such a step” during a meeting with media representatives after talks with President of the European Council Charles Michel in Kyiv.

“The situation in Mariupol is deteriorating. Unfortunately, so far we cannot achieve a positive result there. Our warriors have hundreds of wounded. Protecting ordinary civilians with their backs, they lose their lives. Because, as far as I know, there are about a thousand civilians behind our guys in Mariupol, including children and women,” Zelenskiy said.

Turkey has accused some of its Nato allies of wanting the war in Ukraine to last longer in order to weaken Russia.

“There are countries within Nato who want the war to continue,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNN Turk in an interview on Wednesday.

“They want Russia to become weaker,” Cavusoglu said, as talks between Ukrainians and Russians appear to have stalled after the last face-to-face meeting in Istanbul last month. They had been due to continue online.

Cavusoglu did not name any country directly.

Internet coverage in Ukraine has received a boost after Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starlink internet terminals restored connection across the country.

Minister of digital transformation, Mikhail Fedorov, said there are now 10,000 terminals in Ukraine after heavy fighting has destroyed infrastructure and crippled internet access.

Fedorov requested the technology from Musk at the start of the war.

Is Starlink that important? It wouldn’t be possible to restore 10 km of cable connection between villages in Chernigiv region after serious battles so quick. Normally it takes few months. Another case: provider Baryshivka-Net resumed the network for 5 villages by using only 1 📡.

— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) April 19, 2022

Zelenskiy also spoke of his “cautious optimism” that Ukraine’s partners now better understand the needs of his country, seemingly in reference to supplying weapons and intensifying sanctions on Russia.

I am very pleased to say, with cautious optimism, that our partners started to understand our needs better.

Understand what exactly we need. And when exactly we need all this. Not in weeks, not in a month, but immediately. Right now, as Russia is trying to intensify its attacks.

Ukraine can develop ‘maximum speed’ in joining the EU, Zelenskiy says

Ukraine can develop “maximum speed” in joining the EU, the county’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told his citizens in a national address this evening.

Speaking after meeting with the president of the European council, Charles Michel, Zelenskiy said the pair discussed Ukraine’s movement towards European integration.

This is the historic moment when we can develop maximum speed in joining the European Union.

We have already proved that the Ukrainian state and public institutions are effective enough to withstand even the test of war. We are already doing as much to protect freedom on the European continent as other nations have never done.

And I see from all our friends in the European Union a willingness to help our movement as much as possible.

Railways have been flooded by the millions of Ukrainians who have fled the country since the start of the Russian invasion and conductors and other workers have risked their lives to aid the escape, NBC News reports.

More than 100 railway workers have been injured and 95 have lost their lives, according to the head of Ukraine’s national rail system, Alexander Kamyshin. Roughly 25% of Ukraine’s 14,000 miles of tracks have been damaged by bombs.

Two more children have died after being hit by a 🇷🇺 missile at the railway station in #Kramatorsk. The total number of victims reached 59, including 7 children. A bloody children’s toy will be sent by @NPU_GOV_UA to the @UN as proof of this barbaric crime.
📷 by Roman Kulyk

— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) April 14, 2022

Russian attacks on the railroads have also resulted in the deaths of civilians, including children. But that hasn’t stopped workers from showing up to ensure the trains keep running.

‘How can you negotiate with a crocodile?’ Johnson casts doubt on peace talks

UK prime minister Boris Johnson likened Russian president Vladimir Putin to a crocodile, saying he is not optimistic that the Russian leader can be negotiated with.

“How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it has your leg in its jaws, that is the difficulty that Ukrainians face,” Johnson told journalists on a plane heading to India. “It is very hard to see how the Ukrainians can negotiate with Putin now given his manifest lack of good faith.”

Johnson continued that he thinks it’s possible Moscow could “even launch another assault on Kyiv”.

“I really don’t see how the Ukrainians can easily sit down and come to some kind of accommodation,” he added. “How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it’s got your leg in its jaws?”

Instead, Johnson said Nato would “keep going with the strategy” of supplying Ukraine with weapons to defend itself.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian negotiator and adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, tweeted that they are ready to hold negotiations in the besieged city of Mariupol “without any conditions”.

“One on one. Two on two,” he said. “To save our guys, Azov, military, civilians, children, the living & the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever.”

Yes. Without any conditions. We’re ready to hold a “special round of negotiations” right in Mariupol. One on one. Two on two. To save our guys, Azov, military, civilians, children, the living & the wounded. Everyone. Because they are ours. Because they are in my heart. Forever.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 20, 2022

Russia has not responded to the offer, the Associated Press reports. Earlier, Zelenskiy said roughly 1,000 civilians remain trapped in the city’s Azocstal steel plant, hiding there with the remaining fighters, who are heavily outnumbered. The Ukrainian president added that 120,000 people were being kept in Mariupol and that “crimes that are happening there are far more scary and large scale than in Borodyanka”, referencing a devastated Ukrainian town.

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