Russia-Ukraine war latest: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov says mass graves are a ‘blatantly untruthful provocation’ | Ukraine


16:35

Zelenskiy: Russia wants to turn Ukraine into ‘silent slaves’

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenksiy, has now finished speaking to the UN security council in New York. Here are some more details from his address:

He accused Russia of “supporting hatred at the level of the state” and exporting it to other countries “through their system of propaganda and political corruption”.

They provoked a global food crisis that could lead to famine in Africa, Asia, and other countries. They will surely, and in large scale, [lead to)] political chaos in many countries and destroy their domestic security.

Every UN member state should be interested in how the organisation will choose to act in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Zelenskiy continued.

Russia’s leadership echoes the actions of “colonisers in ancient times”, he says, starting with the looting of food and “gold earrings that are pulled out and covered with blood”.

They need our wealth, our people.

Russia has already deported hundreds of thousands of our citizens to their country. They abducted more than 2,000 children. They just abducted those children and continue to do so. Russia wants to turn Ukraine into silent slaves.

The Russian military are looting openly the cities and villages that they have captured. This is why it’s called looting. They are stealing everything, starting with food and earrings. Gold earrings that are pulled out and covered with blood.

23:41

Bodies of Ukrainian civilians lay on street in Bucha for 10 days, UK defence says

The bodies of Ukrainian civilians lay on a street in Bucha for at least ten days before the town was reclaimed from Russian forces, the UK’s ministry of defence has said.

Citing an analysis of satellite imagery dated 21 March 2022, the ministry said at least 8 bodies were identified lying in a street in Bucha, about 30km north-west of the capital Kyiv.

Bucha was occupied by the Russian armed forces until 31 March 2022.

23:29

Conflict in Ukraine to continue for years ‘at least’, US military chief says

Army Gen Mark Milley also agreed that Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, and its ongoing demands that the US and Nato reduce troops and arms in European countries along Russia’s borders, signal a lengthy conflict in the region that extends beyond Ukraine.

I do think this is a very protracted conflict and I think it’s at least measured in years. I don’t know about decades, but at least years for sure,” said Milley.

I think that Nato, the United States, Ukraine and all of the allies and partners that are supporting Ukraine are going to be involved in this for quite some time.”

Austin added that the broad Russian demands were not acceptable to Nato, and the US is looking at ways to provide additional aid and training to countries, including non-Nato allies such as Georgia and Finland, the Associated Press reports.

Members of Congress pressed Austin and Milley on what could have stopped Russia from invading Ukraine, and that sanctions did not work as a deterrent.

Both said that the only possible way to deter Russia may have been to put US troops on the ground inside Ukraine, but that option was rejected because it risked a broader US war with Russia.

Milley said he isn’t sure Russian President Vladimir Putin was deterrable since invading Ukraine has been a long-term goal for Moscow.

23:23

The United States should look at the development of more bases in eastern Europe to protect against Russian aggression, but rotate forces through them rather than make permanent deployments, a top US military officer told Congress on Tuesday.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the basing could be funded by other countries such as Poland and the Baltics, however, defense secretary Lloyd Austin said any effort to expand security in eastern Europe is a “work in progress” that probably will be discussed at the Nato summit in June.

Speaking about the need to reallocate forces to Europe’s eastern flank, where Nato allies are worried that they may be Russia’s next target, Milley said:

My advice would be to create permanent bases but don’t permanently station (forces), so you get the effect of permanence by rotational forces cycling through permanent bases.

I believe that a lot of our European allies, especially those such as the Baltics or Poland and Romania, and elsewhere — they’re very, very willing to establish permanent bases. They’ll build them, they’ll pay for them.”

Austin added that he recently visited and spoke with leaders in the Baltics, noting that they made it clear they value US troops there. “We’ll continue to work with Nato to assess what the requirements will be moving forward,” Austin said. “We will be part of that solution.”

The Pentagon is continuing to review its troop numbers across Europe, and whether to add more or shift some of those already there to other locations. Milley said that while there are no decisions yet, there’s a possibility, if not a probability of increasing US troops in Europe, and that need could be filled by rotational forces.

  • I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest lines from Ukraine for the rest of the day.
22:53

Catch up

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy has given the UN security council a harrowing account of atrocities in his country and demanded that Russian leaders “be brought to justice for war crimes”. The Ukrainian president called for an international tribunal similar to the Nuremberg trials of Nazis after the second world war, speaking of Russian forces: “There is not a single crime that they would not commit there.”
  • The Ukrainian human rights ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, said between 150 and 300 bodies may be in a mass grave by a church in the town of Bucha. She did not say how the authorities had reached the estimate of the number of victims in the mass grave.
  • Displaced residents of Bucha should not yet return to their homes because there are still mines in the area after Russian troops withdrew from the devastated Ukrainian town, its mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said. Fedoruk said about 3,700 civilians had stayed in Bucha, which had a pre-war population of about 37,000, throughout the occupation by Russian troops.
  • India’s permanent representative to the UN, TS Tirumurti, condemned the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha and called for an independent investigation. Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, also strongly condemned Russia’s “war crimes” in Ukraine in a statement intensifying Israel’s criticism of Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said the evidence from Bucha shows “a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities” by Russian forces. “The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see,” he told reporters.
  • The US and its allies are planning more sanctions on Russia, following the reports of atrocities. “The biggest part of our objective here is to deplete the resources that Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
  • Almost two hundred Russian diplomatic staff have been expelled from European countries this week in a direct expression of governments’ outrage at the killings of Ukrainian civilians revealed as Moscow’s military forces left. In what amounts to one of the biggest diplomatic breakdowns of recent years, 206 Russian diplomats and embassy staff have been told since Monday they are no longer welcome to stay by governments in Italy, France, Germany and elsewhere.
  • The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU is proposing new sanctions against Russia, including an import ban on coal worth €4bn (£3.3bn) per year. The package will also include a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, a ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels accessing EU ports, as well as targeted export and import bans.
  • The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Nato and G7 foreign ministers meeting on Wednesday and Thursday will discuss the delivery of advanced weapons to Ukraine. Ammunition, medical supplies and “high-end” weapons systems would also be discussed, he added.

– Léonie Chao-Fong, Guardian staff

21:50

The US and its allies are planning more sanctions on Russia.

The AP reports:

The new penalties will include a ban on all new investment in Russia.

Among the other measures being taken against Russia are greater sanctions on its financial institutions and state-owned enterprises, and sanctions on government officials and their family members, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “The goal is to force them to make a choice,” she said. “The biggest part of our objective here is to deplete the resources that Putin has to continue his war against Ukraine.”

Separately, the Treasury Department moved Tuesday to block any Russian government debt payments with U.S. dollars from accounts at U.S. financial institutions, making it harder for Russia to meet its financial obligations.

President Joe Biden and U.S. allies have worked together to levy a crippling of economic penalties against Russia for invading Ukraine more than a month ago, including the freezing of central bank assets, export controls and the seizing of property, including yachts, that belong to Russia’s wealthy elite. But calls for increased sanctions intensified this week in response to the attacks, killings and destruction in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

The sanctions are intended to further Russia’s economic, financial and technological “isolation” from the rest of the world as a penalty for its attacks on civilians in Ukraine, Psaki said. That isolation is a key aspect of the U.S. strategy, which is premised on the idea that Russia will ultimately lack the resources and equipment to keep fighting a prolonged war in Ukraine.

Psaki said the administration is assessing “additional consequences and steps we can put in place” but underscored that Biden is not weighing any military action.

An increasingly desperate Russia has engaged in military tactics that have outraged much of the wider global community, leading to charges that it is committing war crimes and causing other sanctions.

Still, almost all of the EU has refrained from an outright ban on Russian oil and natural gas that would likely crush the Russian economy. The U.S. has banned fossil fuels from Russia, while Lithuania blocked natural gas from that country on Saturday, becoming the first of the 27-member EU to do so. The EU executive branch on Tuesday proposed a ban on Russian coal, while Germany’s government intends to end its use of Russian natural gas over the next two years.

21:18

‘I couldn’t keep it inside’: ballet star Olga Smirnova on quitting the Bolshoi

Lyndsey Winship

Lyndsey Winship

“My life totally changed in one day,” says Olga Smirnova. “In the morning, I did not know I was going to leave Russia. And in the night, I was sitting on the plane.” The 30-year-old dancer was one of the Bolshoi Ballet’s star ballerinas, a universally lauded performer at the peak of her powers, at a company that has long had close ties to the Kremlin. Earlier this month, she made a shock announcement: she had joined Dutch National Ballet (DNB), leaving Moscow behind. The move came shortly after Smirnova wrote a heartfelt post on the online messaging service Telegram about Russia’s attack on Ukraine. “With all the fibres of my soul I am against the war,” she wrote. “I never thought that I would be ashamed of Russia … But now the line is drawn on the before and after.”

Speaking via video call from Amsterdam, she explains her reason for leaving: “It did not feel safe.” Although there had been no direct threat from the authorities, she adds: “I just felt the atmosphere was tense in the country. International flights were being cancelled and there were rumours the borders would be closed, so we decided to leave. We didn’t want to risk it and wait longer.”

She knew making such a statement would put her in the spotlight. Why did she do it? “I don’t know,” she says. “I just felt I needed to speak out. I couldn’t keep it inside. There were many artists who spoke out. I admire Russian literature. Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are my favourite writers and you learn from their example that you must speak honestly and openly.”

Smirnova barely heard from her Bolshoi colleagues, save for a couple of “supportive and touching” messages. “People are afraid to speak out. If they don’t have any choice but to stay, they prefer not to speak out. Everyone should be able to decide what type of society they want to live in and how much freedom one needs for living.”

Read more:

20:58

A record number of Ukrainians want Ukraine to be a member of the European Union according to a new poll, reports Reuters.

The number of Ukrainians who want their country to join the European Union rose to a record high of 91% by the end of March but support for joining Nato fell, a poll by the Rating research agency showed on Tuesday.

Support for EU membership mostly has hovered around 60% for the past three years but started climbing steeply after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, according to Rating, one of Ukraine’s main independent pollsters.

The invasion – the biggest assault on a European state since the second world war – spurred Ukraine to apply for fast-track EU membership, and EU countries have implemented sweeping sanctions on Russia and welcomed refugees fleeing the war.

Read the full article here (paywall).

20:45

Here is the video message from earlier today of UK prime minister Boris Johnson pleading with Russian forces to share reports of “atrocities” their troops are committing in Ukraine.

20:32

The Russian army said today that it shot down two Ukrainian helicopters evacuating nationalist battalion leaders from Mariupol, reports AFP.

The Russian army said Tuesday it had shot down two Ukrainian helicopters trying to evacuate the leaders of a nationalist battalion defending the embattled port of Mariupol.

“This morning, April 5, around Mariupol, a new attempt by the Kyiv regime to evacuate leaders of the nationalist Azov battalion was aborted. Two Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopters, trying to reach the city from the sea, were shot down by portable anti-aircraft systems,” defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

He said Moscow had on Tuesday morning proposed that Ukrainian fighters lay down their arms and leave the city “via an agreed route” to territory under Kyiv’s control.

He said the Ukrainian army had “ignored” the proposal.

“Since Kyiv is not interested in saving the lives of its soldiers, Mariupol will be freed from nationalists,” said Konashenkov.

Last week, he said the Russian army had shot down a Ukrainian helicopter over the Sea of Azov that had come to evacuate commanders of the Azov battalion, which has been fiercely defending Mariupol for weeks.





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