For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
Recap of April 18
* The death toll has risen to seven in Russia’s attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, the Kyiv Independent reported Monday, adding that 11 were injured.
* The port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, besieged for weeks by Russian forces, was still contested, a senior U.S. defense official said.
* Russia appears to have started its anticipated new offensive in the east of Ukraine, Ukraine's top security official said.
* Humanitarian cease-fires between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Ukraine are not on the horizon right now, but may be possible in a couple of weeks, the U.N. humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths said.
* The mayor of Mariupol said that about 40,000 civilians had been forcibly moved to Russia or Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine.
* The High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, condemned what he called the latest illegal and indiscriminate attacks by Russia on Ukraine, which are the most intensive in weeks.
* Germany’s employers and unions have joined together in opposing an immediate European Union ban on natural gas imports from Russia
* Some 200,000 people risk losing their jobs in the Russian capital because Western companies have suspended operations over the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will convene a high-level panel on Tuesday to discuss the global response to an ongoing food security crisis exacerbated by Russia's war against Ukraine
* Russia's invasion has damaged or destroyed up to 30% of Ukraine's infrastructure at a cost of $100 billion, a Ukrainian minister said on Monday.
* More countries are expected to announce contributions to help war-torn Ukraine maintain its government through the World Bank's multidonor trust fund and parallel funds this week, World Bank President David Malpass said.
The latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
7:43 p.m.: Luhansk regional military administrator Serhiy Haidai, a Ukrainian military official, said the town of Kreminna came under heavy artillery early Monday. He said street battles had begun and evacuations were made impossible, The Associated Press reported.
Haidai said seven residential buildings were set on fire, and the Olympus sports complex where the nation's Olympic team trains was targeted, the AP reported.
He later said on Ukrainian TV that Russians took control of the city -- one of only two spots where the Ukrainians said Russians managed to break through on the front. After “leveling everything to the ground,” he said he and his guys retreated to regroup and keep on fighting. “It simply makes no sense to stand in one place, to die for everyone, without causing significant damage to the enemy,” he told the AP.
6:15 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address Monday, "Now, we can already state that the Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time."
5:35 p.m.: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an Associated Press report that she would meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during this week's big meetings of global economic leaders in Washington. She said she would be trying to avoid most contact with Russian officials who plan to attend some portions of the event virtually. The AP reported that the Russian invasion of Ukraine — and how world powers should manage the spillover effects on economies, including food insecurity — would take center stage at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
4:16 p.m.: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an interview Monday with Antena3 TV that his government would soon reopen its embassy in Kyiv as a show of support to the Ukrainian people. “Spain is with Ukraine, and we are against Putin,” Sanchez said.
3:54 p.m.: Alexander Chirva, Russia’s third-ranked captain and the commander of the Russian landing ship Caesar Kunkikov, was killed in battle in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reported Monday, citing Kryminform, a Russian government-controlled media outlet. The exact circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately known.
3:04 p.m.: No fewer than 1,000 civilians are hiding in underground shelters beneath the vast Azovstal steel plant in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the city council said on Monday, adding that Russia was dropping heavy bombs onto the Ukrianian-held factory in the besieged city. "Mostly the (civilians) are women with children and old people," the city council wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Street battles have been taking place in Mariupol over the past week as Russian forces seek to take full control of the city from Ukraine, Reuters reported.
2:41 p.m.: Germany’s employers and unions have joined together in opposing an immediate European Union ban on natural gas imports from Russia, The Associated Press reported Monday. They say a boycott would lead to factory shutdowns and job losses in the bloc’s largest economy. Their joint statement was released as European leaders discuss possible new energy sanctions against Russian oil. The EU’s 27 nations get around 40 percent of their natural gas and around 35 percent of their oil from Russia.
2:27 p.m.: Russia's invasion has damaged or destroyed up to 30% of Ukraine's infrastructure at a cost of $100 billion, a Ukrainian minister said on Monday, adding reconstruction could be achieved in two years using frozen Russian assets to help finance it. Ukraine has not previously outlined the specific impact on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, although officials say the total bill for damage to everything from transport to homes and other buildings runs to about $500 billion so far. "Practically all components of our transport infrastructure have suffered in one form or another," Infrastructure Minister Oleksander Kubrakov told Reuters.
2:16 p.m.: The mayor of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Monday said that about 40,000 civilians had been forcibly moved to Russia or Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine. “Unfortunately I have to declare that as of today they are forcibly deporting” residents, Vadym Boichenko told Ukrainian television. “We have verified through the municipal register that they have already deported over 40,000 people.” It was not possible for Reuters to independently confirm the allegation. Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.
2:04 p.m.: The Pentagon says Russia has added artillery, ground combat forces, and other capabilities in recent days ahead of a new ground offensive in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Monday. The official said that if Russian forces succeed in fully controlling the southern port of Mariupol, it could free up nearly a dozen battalion tactical groups for use elsewhere in the Donbas region. The official also said that four U.S. cargo flights arrived in Europe Sunday with weapons and other materials, and that training of Ukrainian personnel on U.S. Army and Marine Corps 155mm howitzers is set to begin in the next several days at an undisclosed location outside of Ukraine.
1:46 p.m.: Russia appears to have started its anticipated new offensive in the east of Ukraine, Ukraine's top security official said on Monday. "This morning, along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defenses," Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in televised comments. "They began their attempt to start the active phase this morning," he said.
1:32p.m.: Humanitarian ceasefires between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Ukraine are not on the horizon right now, but may be possible in a couple of weeks, the U.N. humanitarian aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Monday. Briefing reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York, Griffiths said that Russian officials have not yet put local ceasefires at the top of their agenda. He said that U.N. aid officials are planning to dispatch a humanitarian convoy in the next couple of days into the embattled eastern region of Donetsk and from there, send aid supplies into the Luhansk region, Reuters reported.
1:27 p.m.: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will convene a high-level panel on Tuesday to discuss the global response to an ongoing food security crisis exacerbated by Russia's war against Ukraine, the Treasury Department said in a statement Monday. "Secretary Yellen is deeply concerned about impacts that Russia’s reckless war are having on the global economy, including the risk of rising food insecurity in emerging markets and developing countries around the world, which are still struggling to recover from the pandemic," a senior Treasury official said, according to Reuters.
1:12 p.m.: The High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, on Monday condemned what he called the latest illegal and indiscriminate attacks by Russia on Ukraine, which are the most intensive in weeks. “This includes particularly heavy attacks in recent days in the east and south of Ukraine, notably on Ukraine’s Luhansk region, in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and Popasna,” he said in a statement. Attacks on major cities, including Kharkiv and Lviv, “show that no part of the country is spared from the Kremlin’s senseless onslaught,” he added. “There can be no impunity for war crimes,” the statement said, calling on Russia to “immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities and withdraw all forces and military equipment."
12:46 p.m.: The European Commission on Monday released a video on Twitter informing Ukrainian refugees that as legal residents under the EU Temporary Protection Directive, they have a right to open a basic bank account. The video provides information on how the refugees can access common banking services.
12:17 p.m.: Survivors of war crimes committed during Bosnia’s war 30 years ago say the victims of human rights abuses in Ukraine can learn from their experience, which was lengthy and painful, The Associated Press reported Monday. It took decades to arrest and try the wartime Bosnian Serb leaders, though the U.N. war crimes tribunal eventually convicted 83 high-ranking political and military officials. The guilty were collectively sentenced to over 700 years.
12:08 p.m.: The port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, besieged for weeks by Russian forces, was still contested, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday. "Our assessment is Mariupol is still contested...(it) remains under threat from the air …both from missile strikes as well as bombs from the air but even of course artillery," the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters. The official said there were roughly 76 Russian battalion tactical groups in southern and eastern Ukraine currently, an increase of about 11 in recent days, Reuters reported.
11:51 a.m.: A Ukrainian girl has her smartphone back, thanks to Ukrainian troops who found it in the possession of a captured Russian soldier, the Kyiv Independent reported Monday.
11:27 a.m.: More countries are expected to announce contributions to help war-torn Ukraine maintain its government through the World Bank's multi-donor trust fund and parallel funds this week, World Bank President David Malpass said on Monday. Malpass said the World Bank was working during spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to put together a $3 billion package of aid to help Ukraine maintain essential government services, Reuters reported.
11:14 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday bestowed an honorary title on a brigade accused by Ukraine of committing atrocities in the town of Bucha, Agence France-Presse reported.
11:06 a.m.: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin says that the barrage of Western sanctions against Russia has failed, the Associated Press reported. Putin said Monday that the West “expected to quickly upset the financial-economic situation, provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the banking system and shortages in stores.” He added that “the strategy of the economic blitz has failed.” The Russian leader spoke in televised remarks during a video call with top economic officials.
Putin noted that “Russia has withstood the unprecedented pressure,” arguing that the ruble has strengthened and the country has recorded a historic high trade surplus of $58 billion in the first quarter of the year.
He contended that the sanctions backfired against the U.S. and its European allies, speeding up inflation and leading to a drop in living standards. Putin acknowledged a sharp hike in consumer prices in Russia, saying they rose by 17.5 percent as of April on a year-to-year basis and directing the government to index wages and other payments to alleviate the impact of inflation on people’s incomes.
10:58 a.m.: The editor in chief of the Kyiv Independent, Olga Rudenko, visited the strategic eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro and posted a video on Twitter Monday discussing the expected battle with Russia over the Donbas region.
10:45 a.m.: Some 200,000 people risk losing their jobs in the Russian capital because Western companies have suspended operations over the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Monday. Authorities last week approved a $41 million program to support employment in Moscow by providing training and temporary "socially important work," Sobyanin wrote on his blog. Sobyanin said the newly approved program plans to support more than 58,000 people who have lost their jobs in foreign firms. Around 12,500 of them will undergo retraining, the mayor added. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
10:27 a.m.: A Ukrainian mayor described hours of “hard” interrogations when held for almost a week by Russian forces last month and said he had appealed to the pope for help to stop a war that had wrecked swathes of his city in southern Ukraine. “It was a dangerous six days because I understood that for Russians my life and the lives of civilians were worth zero,” Ivan Fedorov, mayor of Melitopol which is now under Russian control, said in an interview with Reuters in Rome a month after his release. Ukraine said Fedorov was abducted on March 11 after Russian forces seized Melitopol, which lies west of the besieged city of Mariupol in a southern region that Russia seeks to control. Kyiv announced Fedorov’s release in a prisoner exchange on March 16.
9:59 a.m.: Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia could be prosecuted for war crimes over its refusal to allow civilians to leave Mariupol, The Associated Press reported Monday. “Your refusal to open these humanitarian corridors will in the future be a reason to prosecute all involved for war crimes,” she wrote on social media. Ukraine’s government halted civilian evacuations for a second day Monday, saying Russian forces were shelling and blocking the humanitarian corridors. The government of the Luhansk region in the Donbas said four civilians trying to flee were shot and killed by Russian forces. Vereshchuk said Ukraine had been negotiating passage from cities and towns in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, including Mariupol and other areas in the Donbas.
9:41 a.m.: Fighting in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol — a key target of Russia’s ground assault in the country’s east — has largely focused on the city’s sprawling industrial complex that houses the Avozstal steel plant, the Washington Post reported. Ukrainian forces holed up there showed no signs of surrendering on Monday more than 24 hours after a Moscow-imposed deadline to do so, and local authorities have warned that civilians also remain trapped there, the paper said. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Sunday the last forces in Mariupol “will fight till the end," it reported.
9:35 a.m.: Russia’s forces may have pulled back in some parts of Ukraine more than a week ago, but the territorial defence force in the northern Sumy region is training and bracing for further attacks, Reuters reported Monday. “I think the probability of a (new) attack is high. They are determined and we understand that the number of people in Russia is about 150 million,” Dmytro Zhivitskyi, head of Sumy’s regional and military administration, said. “Until the tanks and people run out, they will keep sending people here.”
9:26 a.m.: Ukrainian refugees in Strasbourg, France, are being given a chance to work at a sewing workshop as part of a program to integrate them into employment, Agence France-Presse reported Monday.
8:54 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, Reuters reported. They also talked about “the problems of the Middle East settlement in the context of escalating tensions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” the Kremlin said on Monday.
8:32 a.m.: The death toll has risen to 7 in Russia’s attack on the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, the Kyiv Independent reported Monday, adding that 11 were injured. Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said the number of victims might increase as rescuers continue to clear debris, it said. According to Kosytskyi, Russia shot four missiles at the warehouses that are not used by the military now, the newspaper reported. Another missile hit a car repair shop, which Kozytskyi calls a “barbaric strike” on a civilian site, it added.
8:14 a.m.: Italian officials will go ahead with an energy-deal trip to Africa this week as part of Premier Mario Draghi’s efforts to quickly reduce the country’s heavy reliance on Russian gas, The Associated Press reported. The mission to Angola and Congo is set for Wednesday and Thursday. Italy buys almost 40 percent of its gas from Russia. Draghi is determined to drastically reduce that reliance in the next two or three years, in large part by sealing deals with other energy producing countries. Draghi recently traveled to Algeria to make such an agreement part of the strategy.
7:42 a.m.: The elderly are "often forgotten, very vulnerable" in times of war says Federico Dessi, the Ukraine director of the NGO Handicap International, a group that provides equipment and will financially help the Dnipro home. "Cut off from their families" and "sometimes unable to use telephones or communicate" they are particularly vulnerable in conflicts, Dessi said. Leaving aside physical health, the elderly often require "additional help, which is often not available." Agence France-Presse has this story.
7:23 a.m.: Vladimir Putin "has driven Russia into a trap" by invading Ukraine, the former Polish dissident Adam Michnik has said, predicting ultimate defeat for the Russian leader and a chance for much-needed liberal reforms afterward. "In Russia, changes took place after wars were lost -- after the Finnish war, the Japanese war, the Afghan war, and now Ukraine," Michnik recently told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an interview.
7:05 a.m.: Russian state television on Monday broadcast a video showing two men identified as Britons who were captured by Russian forces in Ukraine asking to be exchanged for pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who is in Ukrainian custody. Ukraine's security service published its own video showing Medvedchuk suggesting he be swapped for Ukrainian soldiers and civilians in Mariupol. Russia rejected a trade offer involving Medvedchuck last week.
6:31 a.m.: As the war in Ukraine continues, a dance studio in the Czech Republic has begun free ballet courses for some of the displaced children, Agence France-Presse reported.
6:20 a.m.: Russia said on Monday it had launched mass strikes overnight on the Ukrainian military and associated military targets, using its air force, missile forces, artillery and air defense systems to hit hundreds of targets across its southern neighbor, Reuters reported. The defense ministry said Russian artillery had also struck 315 Ukrainian military targets overnight and that air defense systems had been used to bring down two MiG-29 fighters and one SU-25 plane.
The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that air-launched missiles had destroyed 16 Ukrainian military facilities overnight, including five command posts, a fuel depot and three ammunition warehouses, as well as Ukrainian armor and forces. It said those strikes took place in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, and that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where it said Ukrainian forces and armor were concentrated.
The Russian defense ministry also spoke of destroying 12 Ukrainian strike drones and tanks in other parts of Ukraine and of using Iskander missiles to destroy four arms and equipment depots in the Luhansk, Vinnytsia and Donetsk regions. It is currently focused on trying to take full control of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which has been besieged for weeks.
5:36 a.m.: The port city of Mariupol was home to 400,000 people before Russia’s invasion. It has been under siege by Russian troops and under constant shelling for more than 50 days. The city has been reduced to rubble, amid claims by Russia that it now has near complete control. Thousands of civilians are believed to have died and tens of thousands remain trapped in the city. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
5:16 a.m.: Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service says over one million people have returned to Ukraine since February 24, the Kyiv Independent reported Monday. Spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Ukrainska Pravda that on April 16, for the first time since the start of the full-scale war, more people entered Ukraine than left.
5:02 a.m.: On a quiet street lined with walnut trees was a cemetery with four bodies that hadn't yet found a home. All were victims of Russian soldiers in this village outside Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. Their temporary caskets were together in a grave. Volunteers dug them up one by one Sunday — two weeks after the soldiers disappeared. This spring is a grim season of planting and replanting in towns and villages around Kyiv. Bodies given hurried graves amid the Russian occupation are now being retrieved for investigations into possible war crimes. More than 900 civilian victims have been found so far.
4:54 a.m.: Ukraine and Russia failed to agree on humanitarian convoys for the evacuation of civilians for the second day, Ukraine's deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. “In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes," Vereshchuk posted in a statement on social media.
4:43 a.m.: Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Monday in its regular update on Twitter that “concerted Ukrainian resistance” in the besieged port city of Mariupol has severely tested Russian forces and diverted men and materiel. “Large areas of infrastructure have been destroyed whilst the population has suffered significant casualties,” it said. “The targeting of populated areas within Mariupol aligns with Russia’s approach to Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016” despite Russian claims that it “would neither strike cities nor threaten the Ukrainian population,” it added.
4:40 a.m.: Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his government will reopen its embassy in Kyiv soon. Sanchez told Antena3 TV in an interview Monday, "Spain is with Ukraine, and we are against Putin."
3:45 a.m.: Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy said Russian missiles strikes on the city of Lviv killed at least six people and wounded eight others. Half of the strikes hit military infrastructure sites, Kozystkiy added.
2:30 a.m.: Witnesses in the western city of Lviv reported multiple explosions Monday. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadoviy said five missile strikes had hit the city and that emergency personnel were responding to the strike sites.
For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.