Russia-Ukraine Live News: Ukraine offers talks in Mariupol | Russo-Ukrainian War

  • More than five million people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency.
  • Ukraine has asked the Red Cross to establish contact with 500,000 people it says have been deported to Russia.
  • Russia said it had tested its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • The United States said it had started training Ukrainian forces on howitzer artillery systems, part of an $800 million weapons package to help kyiv defend against the eastern offensive of Moscow.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Russia tightens the noose on Mariupol

Russian forces tightened the noose around the defenders locked in a gigantic steelworks that represented the last known Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, as a fighter apparently inside warned in a video call for help: “We we may only have a few days or a few hours. left.”

A few thousand Ukrainian soldiers, according to the Russians’ estimate, remained in the factory and its maze of tunnels and bunkers. Zelenskyy said around 1,000 civilians were also trapped there.

A Ukrainian man posted a video call on Facebook urging world leaders to help evacuate people from the factory, saying: ‘We have over 500 wounded soldiers and hundreds of civilians with us, including women and children .

Biden praises commanders for ‘outstanding’ work in arming Ukraine

Biden praised US military officials for their “outstanding” work in arming Ukraine as he gathered top national military brass for an in-person group meeting at the White House.

“I don’t know about you, but I was in Ukraine many times before the war… and I knew they were tough and proud but I tell you what: they are tougher and prouder than I thought.” Biden told military commanders. “I’m amazed at what they’re doing with your help.”

Wimbledon bans Russian and Belarusian players

Wimbledon banned Russian and Belarus players from the 2022 tournament in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“In the circumstances of such unjustified and unprecedented military aggression, it would be unacceptable for the Russian regime to derive benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players,” said the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which operates Wimbledon, in a statement.

“Given the profile of the Championships in the UK and around the world, it is our responsibility to play our part in the widespread efforts of government, industry, sporting and creative institutions to limit the global influence of Russia by the most powerful means possible.”

Zelenskyy says Russians are ‘extremely cruel’

Zelenskyy said Russia’s all-out attack on eastern and southern Ukraine is as cruel as it could be to produce even a small victory.

“The situation in the east and south of the country remains extremely cruel” and that the battles for Mariupol, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and other cities in the east and south “will decide the fate of our people and the fate of our freedom”.

Zelenskyy said his government was working “24/7” to get Western countries to speed up arms deliveries, and that help is coming “not in weeks, not in a month, but quickly, now, as Russia tries to activate its attack”.

Chechen leader announces Russian forces will control Mariupol steel plant on Thursday

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Russian republic of Chechnya, said Thursday that Russian forces would have full control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

“Before lunchtime, or after lunchtime, Azovstal will be fully under the control of Russian Federation forces,” he said in an audio message posted online early Thursday.

Chechen forces are fighting in Ukraine as part of the Russian military operation.

Cyprus to revoke citizenship of more Russians

Cyprus is set to revoke the citizenship of four more Russians who are on the European Union’s updated list of sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Deputy government spokesman Niovi Parisinou said his decision brings to eight the number of Russians whose Cypriot citizenship will be revoked. They are among 1,091 people sanctioned by the EU. Parisinou said their family members would also lose their Cypriot citizenship.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine will soon receive more weapons

Zelenskyy said the situation in eastern and southern Ukraine remains difficult, with Russian troops pushing their attacks.

“The occupiers are not giving up on their attempts to achieve at least one victory by launching a new full-scale offensive,” he said in a video address to the nation.

He added that Ukraine’s Western allies have “understood our needs better”, so they are receiving new shipments of Western weapons “now, as Russia tries to step up its attacks, not weeks or a month from now. month “.

Negotiating with Putin like dealing with a crocodile: British Prime Minister Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris compared negotiating with Putin to negotiating with a crocodile as he warned Ukraine that it would be difficult to broker a peace deal with such an unreliable leader.

“How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it has your leg in its mouth, that’s the difficulty Ukrainians face,” Johnson told reporters on a plane bound for India for a visit. two days.

“It is very difficult to see how Ukrainians can negotiate with Putin now given his apparent lack of good faith.”

Macron says Le Pen’s interests are tied to Russian leadership

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s interests are tied to Russian leadership, President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised debate with his far-right opponent.

“None of us went to seek financing from a Russian bank, and especially not from someone close to power in Russia,” said Macron, who will face Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election. April 24.

He said other French parties had managed to fund their operations with French loans, not through a Russian-linked bank.

US lawmakers urge Facebook to do more to fight Russian propaganda

A group of 21 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg expressing concern about what they called misinformation on the Spanish-speaking platform about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Facebook has still failed to show that it properly addresses this issue for Spanish-speaking communities, and the success of Russian media in crowding out the news ecosystem for Spanish speakers is proof of that,” the lawmakers wrote. .

“The viral spread of these stories stands in stark contrast to the assurances Meta has made to the public and members of Congress that he is prioritizing the urgent needs of Hispanic communities in the United States.”

US hits Russian bank and oligarch with new sanctions

The United States imposed new sanctions on a Russian commercial bank, an oligarch, and dozens of individuals and entities.

Treasury Department targets also include Russian-based units of virtual currency mining company Bitriver.

US ‘can and will target those who evade, attempt to evade, or help evade US sanctions on Russia because it helps support Putin’s brutal war of choice,’ terrorism undersecretary says and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson in a statement. statement.

Ukraine ready to hold ‘special’ talks with Russia in Mariupol: negotiator

Ukraine is ready to hold a “special round of negotiations” with Russia in the besieged city of Mariupol without any conditions, tweeted negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak.

He said the talks could be “one-on-one.” Two against two. To save our boys, [the far right] Azov [battalion]soldiers, civilians, children, living and wounded”.

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

There was no immediate Russian response to the proposal.

Russian armed forces to start receiving deliveries of new missiles: report

Russia will start receiving the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile this year once testing is complete, Russian news agency TASS quoted the head of space agency Roscosmos as saying.

Dmitry Rogozin said deliveries would begin “in the fall of this year”, he reported.

Russia said on Wednesday it had conducted a first test launch of the missile.

US to send more weapons to Ukraine: White House

The US military will deliver additional military equipment to Ukraine in the coming days, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Five US cargo flights have arrived in the region in recent days and more than half a dozen are scheduled soon, Psaki told reporters at a press briefing.

“We have worked with the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian military to determine exactly what kind of security assistance they need for this stage of the war,” Psaki said. “That included an increase – as you saw – in artillery and ammunition.”

The Biden administration will soon announce further arms transfers, she added, without providing further details.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all of the Wednesday, April 20 updates here.

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