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Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 19


Ukrainian servicemen ride atop an armored fighting vehicle at an unknown location in Eastern Ukraine, in this handout picture released April 19, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

Recap of April 19:

FIGHTING
* U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Tuesday to send more artillery weaponry to Ukraine
* The Ukrainian military says Russian forces have launched "aggressive actions" along almost the entire front line in eastern Ukraine, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said was the start of the long-anticipated offensive in the eastern Donbas region
* Russian forces have seized the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine - it appears to be the first city captured in a new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine
* A senior U.S. defense official said Russian forces in Ukraine appear intent on coming from both the north and south to cut off the Donbas region, and the fighting now is a “prelude” for larger operations to come
* British officials say the next phase of the war in Ukraine is likely to be “an attritional conflict” that could last several months
* The Czech Defense Ministry says local companies will work to repair Ukrainian military equipment damaged in fighting the invading Russian military
* Russia’s defense minister has accused the U.S. and other Western nations of supplying Ukraine with weapons so that it continues fighting “until the last Ukrainian”

HUMANITARIAN
* U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a four-day pause in the fighting in Ukraine to mark the Orthodox Easter Holy Week from April 21-24
* The World Health Organization says escalating fighting in Ukraine is preventing emergency medical supplies and health personnel from reaching people who need help
* Poland's health service has the capacity to treat at least 10,000 injured Ukrainian soldiers, the Polish prime minister said

DIPLOMACY
* The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to hold a meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, focusing on refugees and displaced persons
* The Kremlin’s diplomats are stepping up to do more online propaganda as governments and social media companies move to suppress Russia’s state media and the disinformation it spreads about the war in Ukraine
* Russia said Tuesday it is expelling 15 diplomats from the Netherlands and an unspecified number of Belgian embassy staff in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats by those countries
* Russia’s siege of the city of Mariupol has further complicated the negotiation process in the war in Ukraine and it is hard to say when direct talks might resume, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said
* The Dutch government on Tuesday said it had reopened its embassy in the Ukrainian city of Lviv

SANCTIONS
* Greek authorities say they have seized a Russian oil tanker in the Aegean Sea as part of European Union sanctions imposed against Russia
* Denmark will boost its own production of natural gas for a limited time and explore maximizing renewable energy sources in order to become independent of Russian gas supplies

ECONOMY
* A big challenge for Ukraine this year is the exporting of existing grain stocks to provide storage capacity for the 2022 harvest and generate cash to buy seeds and fertilizers for the next planting season
* The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that the war in Ukraine has “triggered a costly humanitarian crisis” and that economic damage from the conflict “will contribute to a significant slowdown in global growth in 2022 and add to inflation.”

MEDIA
* A Ukrainian journalist imprisoned in Crimea will be honored next month at the PEN American gala

7:35 p.m.: Russian embassy in Ethiopia has denied that Ethiopians lining up at the embassy are signing up to join the war in Ukraine.

But earlier, Ukraine’s embassy shared this fact checking link, saying: “This is a tragic happening. If an Ethiopian dies in this war, it will be a tragedy for both Ukraine and Ethiopia.”

6:41 p.m.: U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield tweeted, “90 percent of the people who have had to flee Ukraine are women and children.”

“They face immense risks – of being trafficked, exploited, and experiencing gender-based violence. And we must do everything we can to mitigate those risks.”

5:23 p.m.: Russians, speaking in vox pops shot in various cities April 6-13, describe their exchanges, sometimes daily, with Ukrainian friends and family. They share worries not only over their relatives' safety but also — in some cases — they describe how different their views are over what Russia is doing in Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

5:00 p.m.: This is a Ukrainian mother's account of how her 13-year-old son was killed when she and her children tried to flee a village occupied by the Russian military. Inna says that, at first, Russian troops allowed her family to leave and even waved goodbye, but then opened fire at the cars they were traveling in. Her eldest son died. Inna says she and her youngest son were lucky to survive. Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, has this story.

4:00 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Tuesday to send more artillery weaponry to Ukraine in the face of an all-out Russian assault on that country's East, Reuters reported. Biden spoke with Johnson, Trudeau, and other allied leaders in a secure video call from the White House Situation Room as the Russian invasion reached a new phase.

3:12 p.m.: Ukrainian officials said they had regained control of the city of Marinka, less than 10 miles west of Donetsk, the Kyiv Independent reported on Tuesday. Ukraine’s military last controlled Marinka in mid-March, it reported.

3:00 p.m.: The United Nations Security Council holds a meeting Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, with a focus on refugees and displaced persons. Participants include International Organization for Migration Director General Antonio Vitorino; and U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly Clements.

2:11 p.m.: About 120 civilians living next to the Azovstal steel works in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol have left via humanitarian corridors, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, quoting Russian state TV. Interfax said, however, that no Ukrainian fighters had accepted a Russian ultimatum to surrender their arms and leave the factory on Tuesday afternoon in return for a promise to spare their lives. Ukrainian fighters holed up in the vast steel plant have been mounting a last stand in the ruins of Mariupol, which Russian forces have been attacking almost since the start of what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

1:47 p.m.: A senior U.S. defense official briefed the media Tuesday, saying Russian forces in Ukraine appear intent on coming from both the north and south to cut off the Donbas region, VOA’s Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb reported. The fighting now is a “prelude” for larger operations to come, he said. The U.S. defense official said there are indications that Russian forces are trying to learn from some of the mistakes they made earlier in the war, particularly their logistics and sustainment problems. “There’s a real possibility that this could go on for a while,” he said. Ukraine still has a lot of combat power and gets replenished with weapons every day, he said. “While they are certainly facing a numerically superior Russian force, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have advantages of their own or the ability to defend themselves,” he added.

1:23 p.m.: The Kremlin’s diplomats are stepping up to do more online propaganda as governments and social media companies move to suppress Russia’s state media and the disinformation it spreads about the war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. Russian embassies and consulates are prolifically using Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to deflect blame for atrocities while seeking to undermine the international coalition supporting Ukraine. Tech companies have responded by adding warning labels and removing Russia’s diplomatic accounts from recommendations and search results. But they remain active, in part because their diplomatic status gives them an added layer of protection from moderation.

1:16 p.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held a brief press conference Tuesday where he did not announce much of anything new for Ukraine - the reaction was swift and negative, from disappointed to outraged, VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reported.

1:09 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden held a nearly-90-minute video call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of France, Germany, Britain, Poland, Japan and Italy. “There was broad consensus on the need to step up pressure on the Kremlin, including by adopting further sanctions, and to increase Moscow’s international isolation,” the Italian government said, according to Reuters.

1:04 p.m.: Wealthy Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov on Tuesday condemned what he called Moscow's "crazy war" in Ukraine, saying 90% of his countrymen did not support it and calling on the West to offer Vladimir Putin a dignified way to withdraw, Reuters reported. "I don't see a single beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and soldiers are dying," Tinkov, who founded Tinkoff Bank, Russia's second biggest credit card issuer, wrote in an Instagram post.

12:52 p.m.: Ukrainian soldiers dug in and began bracing for battle in the eastern Luhansk region as Russian forces launched their major offensive in the Donbas. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Maryan Kushnir on Monday visited the Ukrainian trenches outside the town of Kreminna – one day before Russian forces managed to seize the town - and has this report.

12:24 p.m.: The Czech Defense Ministry says local companies will work to repair Ukrainian military equipment damaged in fighting the invading Russian military, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The ministry says the first contract will focus on fixing T-64 Soviet-era tanks. Various armored vehicles will follow. The ministry says the Czech Republic was the first partner country officially approached by Ukraine with such a request.

12:17 p.m.: The United States sees ongoing Russian activity in eastern Ukraine as a prelude to a much larger offensive in the country, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russia was still adding to its military capabilities to prepare for the new offensive, introducing an additional two battalion tactical groups in the past 24 hours to bring to the total number in the country to 78, Reuters reported.

12:02 p.m.: A photographer who documented Mariupol's Soviet-era iron and steel works shares insights into the factory set to hold a final showdown between Ukraine's Azov Battalion and Russian forces. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this photo essay.

11:53 a.m.:
Ukraine has insufficient storage capacity even for its reduced 2022 grain harvest, Reuters reported Tuesday. A big challenge this year is the exporting of existing grain stocks to provide storage capacity for the 2022 harvest and generate cash to buy seeds and fertilizers for the next planting season, Jakob Kern, the U.N. World Food Program’s emergency coordinator in Ukraine, told a Geneva news briefing via video link from Ukraine. Kern cited the country’s agriculture ministry as saying Ukraine used to export almost all its grain and oilseeds – up to 6 million tonnes a month – via seaports that are now blocked by the conflict. “An estimated 15 million tons of grains will not have space in the silos around the country,” he said.

11:27 a.m.: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a four-day pause in the fighting in Ukraine to mark the Orthodox Easter Holy Week from April 21-24, VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported. He said such a pause could allow for the opening of “a series of humanitarian corridors” to allow safe passage for civilians out of conflict zones, and for the safe delivery of “lifesaving humanitarian aid to people in the hardest-hit areas such as Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk.” He said the U.N. was prepared o work with its partners to send humanitarian aid convoys to these areas, and that it was submitting its plans to the parties involved. “I call on Russians and Ukrainians to silence the guns and forge a path to safety for so many at immediate risk,” Guterres said.

11:14 a.m.: The World Health Organization says escalating fighting in Ukraine is preventing emergency medical supplies and health personnel from reaching many people in need of help. VOA’s Lisa Schlein has this report.

11:03 a.m.: The aim of Russia's new military offensive in east Ukraine is to grab land, establish an overground link between territories in the east and Crimea, and crush Ukraine's armed forces, Ukraine's defense ministry said on Tuesday. "The goal is to defeat the Ukrainian forces, to establish control over the territory of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions and establish a land corridor to Crimea," Ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuznyak told a briefing. Summing up Russia's tactics, he said, "Usually, they are: powerful artillery preparation, an attempt to storm particular positions, attempts to stymie the actions of units of Ukraine's armed forces, attempts to surround our units, and to capture settlements. Russia is mainly waging war according to the textbooks of the Soviet era."

10:23 a.m.: A Ukrainian journalist imprisoned in Crimea will be honored next month at the PEN American gala, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. This year’s recipient of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award is Vladyslav Yesypenko, arrested last year and sentenced recently to six years in a Russian labor camp for alleged possession and transport of explosives. Yesypenko, 53, is a freelance correspondent for Krym Realii Project, a Crimean radio program and news source run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He has denied the allegations. He was arrested in March 2021 by Russia’s Federal Security Services.

10:11 a.m.: U.S. President Biden’s secure video call with allies and partners on Ukraine and Russia got underway Tuesday morning, according to the White House press office. Biden was scheduled to participate in the call from the Situation Room, it said. “Joining President Biden on the call are Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, European Commission President von der Leyen, European Council President Michel, President Macron of France, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Draghi of Italy, Prime Minister Kishida of Japan, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, President Duda of Poland, President Iohannis of Romania, and Prime Minister Johnson of the United Kingdom,” the press office stated.

9:46 a.m.: The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that the war in Ukraine has “triggered a costly humanitarian crisis” and that economic damage from the conflict “will contribute to a significant slowdown in global growth in 2022 and add to inflation.” The IMF said in a statement that "Multilateral efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis, prevent further economic fragmentation, maintain global liquidity, manage debt distress, tackle climate change, and end the pandemic are essential.”

9:24 a.m.: Russia said Tuesday it is expelling 15 diplomats from the Netherlands and an unspecified number of Belgian embassy staff in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats by those countries, The Associated Press reported. “We expected Russia to take reciprocal measures. Nevertheless, I regret this step,” Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra said. The Russian Foreign Ministry that the Belgian ambassador had been notified that embassy staff would have to leave by May 3, without saying how many people were affected. The ambassador of Luxembourg was summoned for an official protest after it expelled a single Russian diplomat this month.

9:12 a.m.: Lithuania's parliament on Tuesday voted to ban public displays of the letter "Z", the black and orange ribbon of St George, and other symbols seen as expressing support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russian military vehicles in Ukraine are prominently marked with the letter "Z", and it has started appearing on social media and on clothing elsewhere in support of the war, Reuters reported.

9:03 a.m.: British officials say the next phase of the war in Ukraine is likely to be “an attritional conflict” that could last several months, The Associated Press reported. A senior U.K. national security official briefed the Cabinet on Tuesday, as Russia ratcheted up its battle for control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, said the official told ministers that Russia’s greater number of troops was “unlikely to be decisive on its own” against fierce Ukrainian resistance. The official told the Cabinet that there are signs that Russia has not learned the lessons from previous setbacks in northern Ukraine, with evidence of troops being committed to the fight in a “piecemeal fashion” and some soldiers and units refusing to fight.

8:45 a.m.: Russia’s siege of the city of Mariupol has further complicated the negotiation process in the war in Ukraine and it is hard to say when direct talks might resume, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters on Tuesday. Podolyak said in a written response to questions from Reuters that he believed Russia was banking on strengthening its positions through a new offensive it has launched in eastern Ukraine. “Obviously, against the backdrop of the Mariupol tragedy, the negotiation process has become even more complicated,” he said of the southern port city where Russia has given the last Ukrainian defenders holed up in a steel works an ultimatum to surrender Tuesday by noon (0900 GMT).

Russian military vehicles move on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine, April 18, 2022.
Russian military vehicles move on a highway in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces near Mariupol, Ukraine, April 18, 2022.

8:39 a.m.: Greek authorities say they have seized a Russian oil tanker in the Aegean Sea as part of European Union sanctions imposed against Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Russian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, was seized on April 19 near the coastal city of Karystos on the southern coast of the island of Evia. "It has been seized as part of EU sanctions," a shipping ministry official said. The coast guard said the seizure order concerned the ship itself and not its cargo. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

8:02 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders later on Tuesday to discuss toughening sanctions against Russia and further support for Ukraine, Johnson's spokesman said. Leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Japan, NATO and the European Commission are also due to join the call, Reuters reported.

7:53 a.m.: The Kyiv regional police chief, Andriy Nebytov, said Tuesday that over 1,000 civilians were killed by Russian troops when they occupied the area, the Kyiv Independent reported. He noted that most of them were shot. He said this includes 420 bodies of civilians found in the town of Bucha, northwest of the capital Kyiv.

Valentyna Nechyporenko, 77, mourns at the grave of her 47-year-old son Ruslan, during his funeral at the cemetery in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, April 18, 2022. Ruslan was killed by Russian army on March 17 while delivering humanitarian aid to his neighbors in the streets of Bucha.
Valentyna Nechyporenko, 77, mourns at the grave of her 47-year-old son Ruslan, during his funeral at the cemetery in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, April 18, 2022. Ruslan was killed by Russian army on March 17 while delivering humanitarian aid to his neighbors in the streets of Bucha.

7:49 a.m.: Poland's health service has capacity to treat at least 10,000 injured Ukrainian soldiers, the Polish prime minister said on Tuesday, as Russia launches a new offensive in eastern Ukraine. Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters during a visit to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv that Poland was already treating "several dozen" soldiers and was prepared to take in more, Reuters reported. "We are ready to take in at least 10,000 (soldiers), if necessary," he said. "We are doing everything to take in and treat all injured soldiers from Ukraine."

7:36 a.m.: Russia’s defense minister has accused the U.S. and other Western nations of supplying Ukraine with weapons so that it continues fighting “until the last Ukrainian,” The Associated Press reported. Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday at a meeting with the top military brass that Washington and its allies are doing all they can to drag out Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

7:18 a.m.: The Dutch government on Tuesday said it had reopened its embassy in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, Reuters reported. If the situation is deemed safe enough, the embassy will eventually return to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the Dutch Foreign Affairs ministry said. Several other European countries, including France, recently announced they would move back their embassies to Kyiv.

7:01 a.m.: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says security for his country also means security for Bulgaria and all other Black Sea countries. “We are fighting not only for our safety,” Kuleba said after talks Tuesday with his Bulgarian counterpart, Teodora Genchovska. No details of the talks have been disclosed, but media reports suggested Kuleba may ask for stronger engagement of Bulgaria in Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression. Bulgaria and Hungary are the only EU members that have so far been reluctant to send weapons to Kyiv, The Associated Press reported.

6:56 a.m.: Russian forces have seized the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine and Ukrainian troops have withdrawn from the city, Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, told a briefing on Tuesday. Kreminna, a city of more than 18,000 people about 62 miles southeast of the capital Kyiv, appears to be the first city captured in a new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reported. "Our defenders had to withdraw. They have entrenched themselves in new positions and continue to fight the Russian army," Gaidai said, adding that Russian forces had attacked "from all sides."

6:27 a.m.: Russia's communications regulator says it has restricted access to the website of Human Rights Watch (HRW) as a result of the group's statements over Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. A Roskomnadzor official said on Tuesday that the move was made at the request of the Prosecutor-General's Office, adding that the restriction was imposed only on one of the items published on HRW's website about the war in Ukraine. That report -- titled Ukraine: Russian Air-Dropped Bombs Hit Residential Area -- is now inaccessible in Russia. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

6:12 a.m.: French police have begun an investigation into the cause of a fire that ravaged a small Russian Orthodox church in central Paris on Easter Sunday, the Paris firefighting department said. "The damage is very significant," the church said on its Facebook page. "The antimins (altar cloth) and epitaphion (image of Christ icon) are intact. Almost everything else burned down." Since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, several establishments associated with Russia in France, including a Russian arts center in Paris, have been targeted by acts of vandalism, Reuters reported.

6:05 a.m.: Denmark will boost its own production of natural gas for a limited time and explore maximizing renewable energy sources in order to become independent of Russian gas supplies, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters. "We are convinced it's better to produce gas in the North Sea than buying it from Vladimir Putin," Frederiksen said.

6:01 a.m.: The Russian invasion of Ukraine — and how world powers should manage the spillover effects on economies, including food insecurity — will take center stage at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank this week. On Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will convene a panel of finance ministers, the international development banks and other institutions. Yellen is expected to use this week's meetings to work with allies on efforts to increase economic pressure on Russia.

5:32 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Moscow was starting a new stage of what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine, Reuters reported. "Another stage of this operation (in eastern Ukraine) is beginning and I am sure this will be a very important moment of this entire special operation," Lavrov said in an interview with the India Today TV channel.

Elderly people are evacuated from a hospice in Chasiv Yar city, Donetsk district, Ukraine, April 18, 2022. At least 35 men and women, some in wheelchairs and most of them with mobility issues, were helped by volunteers to flee from the region that has been under attack in the last weeks.
Elderly people are evacuated from a hospice in Chasiv Yar city, Donetsk district, Ukraine, April 18, 2022. At least 35 men and women, some in wheelchairs and most of them with mobility issues, were helped by volunteers to flee from the region that has been under attack in the last weeks.

5:21 a.m.: A Russian provincial governor accused Ukrainian forces on Tuesday of striking a village near Russia's border with Ukraine and wounding three residents, Reuters reported. "Three people were wounded. One has already been discharged and is being treated as an outpatient. Two women are in hospital, under the care of qualified doctors... The wounds are of moderate severity," said Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Russian province of Belgorod. More than 30 houses were damaged, he added, and electricity and gas supplies will be restored in the next few hours.

5:13 a.m.: The Ukrainian military says Russian forces have launched "aggressive actions" along almost the entire front line in eastern Ukraine, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said was the start of the long-anticipated offensive in the eastern Donbas region. Ukrainian media on Tuesday reported powerful shelling along the front line in the Donetsk region in Maryinka, Slovyansk, and Kramatorsk. Zelenskyy thanked all Ukrainian defenders in all cities, including the besieged Sea of Azov port of Mariupol, and those in the Kharkiv region, which hold and "protect the fate of the whole state." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

5 a.m.: Russia issued its latest ultimatum for the remaining Ukrainian forces in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol to lay down their arms, saying those who did so by Tuesday afternoon would be "guaranteed survival." Ukraine has rejected previous Russian demands to surrender in Mariupol.

2:15 a.m.: The Ukrainian military's General Staff said Russian forces are focusing on trying to take full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and that "missile and airstrikes on civilian targets throughout Ukraine do not stop."

12:05 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden is holding a video call with allies Tuesday to discuss what the White House called "our continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia accountable." Asked Monday if the Biden administration is considering more sanctions against Russia, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States will "continue to expand our sanctions targets and continue to take steps to both further tighten our sanctions to prevent evasion."

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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