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Latest Developments in Ukraine: April 21


Vova, 10, looks at the coffin carrying body of his mother, Maryna, as his father, Ivan Drahun, hugs him during her funeral in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, April 20, 2022.

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

Recap of April 21:
FIGHTING
* Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to claim victory in the strategic port of Mariupol, even as he ordered his troops not to storm the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance holed up in an steel plant.
* 19 Ukrainians were released from Russian captivity in the second prisoner swap to take place this week.
* Denmark’s prime minister has announced that her country will more than double the amount it has given to Ukraine to buy weapons.

HUMANITARIAN
* Mariupol's mayor says Russian troops are burying Ukrainian civilians killed in the conflict in order to cover up “military crimes.”
* Satellite imagery from near Mariupol shows a mass grave site that has expanded in recent weeks to contain more than 200 new graves.
* The police and fire departments in the Washington, D.C., area have started a humanitarian aid initiative to help Ukraine.
* The Biden administration is making it easier for refugees fleeing Russia’s war on Ukraine to come to the United States from Europe while trying to shut down an informal route through northern Mexico that has emerged in recent weeks.
* The U.N. International Organization for Migration released a report Thursday saying the number of displaced persons inside Ukraine has swelled to 7.7 million, which represents 17 percent of the total population, or one in six Ukrainians
* Around 120,000 civilians are blocked from leaving the besieged city of Mariupol

DIPLOMACY
* Western officials say Ukraine will need economic and military support for months to come as the war grinds into a long conflict.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ruled out heading to Moscow for direct talks with Russian leaders on ending the war.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said any peace talks over Ukraine are likely to fail, as he compared holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiating with a crocodile.

SANCTIONS
* U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that Western sanctions are partially credited for Russia not achieving its goals in its invasion of Ukraine.
* Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated his government’s position that international disputes should be resolved through dialogue and not sanctions, a tacit reference to the West’s punitive actions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
* Russia has banned a number of U.S. and Canadian politicians, media figures, and business executives from traveling to the country in what appears to be retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Russian officials and businesses

ECONOMY
* Russia's refusal to agree to strong language condemning its war in Ukraine prevented the steering committee of the International Monetary Fund from issuing a formal communique during its meeting this week.

MEDIA
* Since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russia has sought total control over news coverage, but the diaspora media has been working to counter Russian propaganda.

NUCLEAR
* Thousands of tanks and troops rumbled into the forested Chernobyl exclusion zone in the earliest hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, churning up highly contaminated soil from the site of the 1986 accident that was the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

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

9:01 p.m.: Germany will provide another $40.12 million to Ukraine for reconstruction as a result of the war, Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper reported on Friday, citing development ministry sources, according to a Reuters report. About Some $24.4 million would go into the reconstruction of Ukraine's power grid and additional $15.6 million would be earmarked to rebuild apartments attacked by Russian forces and for medical equipment, the newspaper reported, according to Reuters.

8:40 p.m.: In a late-night address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia was doing all it could "to talk about at least some victories," including mobilizing new battalion tactical groups, Reuters reported. "They can only postpone the inevitable -- the time when the invaders will have to leave our territory, including from Mariupol, a city that continues to resist Russia regardless of what the occupiers say," Zelenskyy said. ​

7:50 p.m.: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to Portugal’s parliament late Thursday. He told them, “During the 57 days of the full-scale war, we liberated about a thousand settlements of Ukraine, which were captured by Russia, by the invaders. However, the number of occupied cities and communities is much bigger. Russian troops do not stop shelling and bombing our cities. They are destroying residential areas, any civilian infrastructure that allows cities to maintain normal life. Food warehouses, schools, universities, hospitals, even churches are being blown up.” ​

7:15 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for the new package of $800 million in military aid, which he said was “just what we were waiting for," The Associated Press reported.

The latest military aid, announced Thursday by President Joe Biden, includes heavy artillery, ammunition and drones for the escalating battle in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

6:23 p.m.: The United States has been in contact with Ukraine's prosecutor and is assisting with the preservation and collection of evidence of war crimes committed by Russia, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday, Reuters reported. ​

6:05 p.m.: Explosions, death, displacement, and fear. The Russian invasion of Ukraine will have long-term consequences for Ukrainians and especially for the many children that have been uprooted from their homes when their families had to flee the fighting. VOA’s Celia Mendoza reports from a refugee center in Poland.

5:13 p.m.: Turkey's robust stance against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine is becoming an impetus to improve relations with the United States, a NATO ally. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unequivocally condemned the invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, Ankara has sold — in the face of Moscow’s criticism — Turkish-made drones that continue to take a deadly toll on Russian forces. Ankara also closed access to the Black Sea to most Russian warships. Washington praised all these moves. Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow of the European Council, said Turkey’s stance offered an opportunity for a reset in U.S.-Turkish relations. VOA’s Dorian Jones reports.

4:28 p.m.: Nearly two months into Russia's invasion, Ukraine's allies are after some territorial spoils of their own. Digitally, that is. A Tbilisi-based digital creative agency is "selling Russia piece by piece" in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the unique digital collectibles built on blockchain technology, to help Ukraine "rebuild" from the eight-week-old war. It's clearly an effort to troll Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose regime punishes calls for violating Russia's territorial integrity with jail time. Sandro Gvindadze and Andy Heil have this story for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

4:03 p.m.:

3:52 p.m.: Russia has banned a number of U.S. and Canadian politicians, media figures and business executives from traveling to the country, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, in what appears to be retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Russian officials and businesses. Russia’s latest travel ban targeted U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as well as the premiers of three Canadian provinces and the mayor of Toronto, the newspaper said.

3:44 p.m.: The United States will give Ukraine another $500 million to help its government continue critical government operations, doubling the $500 million aid pledge by President Joe Biden in March, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday. Yellen told a news conference that she shared the aid plans during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday.

3:27 p.m.: A Ukrainian official raised the possibility of a Ukrainian airstrike against the strategically important bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland, The Associated Press reported. His statement on Thursday prompted angry denouncements from top Russian political figures. Oleksy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, was asked in an interview with Ukraine’s Radio NV whether Kyiv would be able to hit the $4 billion Kerch bridge, which is Moscow’s only direct road link to the peninsula, in order to stem the flow of military supplies channeled through it. “Had we been able to do it, we would have already done it,” Danilov said. “If there is a possibility, we will definitely do it.”

3:01 p.m.: The U.S. Congress will move quickly to consider President Joe Biden’s request for more aid for Ukraine, lawmakers said on Thursday, with members of both parties predicting strong support for the request even before knowing how large it would be. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the House would take up the Biden’s proposal as soon as next week, Reuters reported.

2:39 p.m.:

2:06 p.m.: Western officials say Ukraine will need economic and military support for months to come as the war grinds into a long conflict, The Associated Press reported. As Russia’s invasion enters a new phase focused on the eastern Donbas region, an official said Putin “is still in a position to win” the war, but not quickly. Speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, two Western officials said Russia’s aim of taking all of the Donbas and securing a land bridge to Crimea is “potentially within reach.” However, officials said it is far from certain Russia will achieve that goal.

1:51 p.m.: Russia's refusal to agree to strong language condemning its war in Ukraine prevented the steering committee of the International Monetary Fund from issuing a formal communique during its meeting this week, the chair of the committee said on Thursday. "Russia's war against Ukraine has made it impossible to come to a consensus on a communique," Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told a news conference at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, D.C.

1:44 p.m.: Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he was confident that broad support for his country’s war effort will increase after meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. lawmakers Thursday. He tweeted a photo of himself and Pelosi in the Capitol.

1:32 p.m.: The mayor of the besieged port city of Mariupol says Russian troops are burying Ukrainian civilians killed in the conflict in order to cover up “military crimes,” The Associated Press reported. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said that the Russians dug huge trenches near Manhush, 12 miles west of Mariupol. “They are taking the bodies of the dead residents of Mariupol in trucks and throw them into those trenches,” he said during an online briefing. Boychenko said that “the bodies started disappearing from the streets in the city,” charging that the Russians were “hiding the trace of their crimes and using mass graves as one of the instruments for that.”

1:19 p.m.: British finance minister Rishi Sunak and his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland walked out of an International Monetary Fund meeting in Washington on Thursday when Russia’s delegate spoke, a British finance ministry spokesperson said. “(Sunak) described Putin’s assault on Ukraine as an assault on the rules and norms that are the foundation of our economic way of life,” the spokesperson said. Earlier on Thursday, Britain ramped up trade sanctions on Russia, targeting luxury goods including caviar, silver and diamonds through import bans and higher tariffs, seeking to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

1:03 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is among five people named Thursday as recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for acting to protect democracy, The Associated Press reported. Zelenskyy was chosen because of the way he has “marshaled the spirit, patriotism and untiring sacrifice of the Ukrainian people in a life-or-death fight for their country,” as Russia pours in troops and assaults cities and towns, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said.

12:55 p.m.: The police and fire departments in the Washington, D.C., area have started a humanitarian aid initiative to help Ukraine. Many other volunteers in the area have also been sending much-needed supplies to Ukraine. VOA’s Anna Kosstutschenko has this story.

Washington-Area Police and Fire Departments Help Ukraine
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12:37 p.m.: Many people in the U.S. still question whether President Joe Biden is showing enough strength in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, even as most approve of steps Biden is already taking and few want U.S. troops to get involved in the conflict. A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows 54 percent of Americans think Biden has been “not tough enough” in his response, 36 percent think his approach has been about right, while 8 percent say he’s been too tough.

12:25 p.m.: Satellite imagery from near the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol shows a mass grave site that has expanded in recent weeks to contain more than 200 new graves, a private U.S. company said on Thursday. Maxar Technologies said a review of images from mid-March through mid-April indicates the expansion began between March 23-26. The site lies adjacent to an existing cemetery in the village of Manhush, 20 kilometers west of Mariupol, Maxar said, according to Reuters.

12:13 p.m.: Thousands of tanks and troops rumbled into the forested Chernobyl exclusion zone in the earliest hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, churning up highly contaminated soil from the site of the 1986 accident that was the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Russian soldiers dug trenches in the dirt, and Ukrainian officials worry they were, in effect, digging their own graves. The Associated Press has this story.

12:08 p.m.: The war in Ukraine has shown the limitations of the decades-long German approach of seeking to change Russia through trade and spells the end of globalization as we know it, the European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said on Thursday. Speaking at the Peterson Institute in Washington, Gentiloni said the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 would also reshape global alliances and put further strain on global supply chains, already fragile after two years of the pandemic, Reuters reported.

11:54 a.m.: Some of Ukraine's top classical musicians are touring Europe as part of a cultural mission that the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra says is part of "fighting Russia’s aggression in every possible way." April 21 will mark the opening night of the historic tour that will begin in Warsaw, Poland, and end in Hamburg, Germany, on May 1. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

11:36 a.m.: 19 Ukrainians were released from Russian captivity Thursday in the second prisoner swap to take place this week, Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said online. “This time, there are wounded people among those released, which is very important. Now they will be able to receive full treatment and undergo a course of rehabilitation,” Vereshchuk wrote. Their release comes on the heels of a prisoner swap Tuesday, which saw 76 Ukrainians, including 60 soldiers, return to their families, The Associated Press reported.

11:24 a.m.: U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Thursday that Russia was not achieving its goals in its invasion of Ukraine and that Western sanctions were partly the reason for that, Reuters reported. "What we are aiming for here is a strategic failure for (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. And I believe that is already happening, that no matter what happens ... Ukraine is going to survive," Sherman told a Friends of Europe think-tank event in Brussels.

11:17 a.m.: Denmark’s prime minister has announced that her country will more than double the amount it has given to Ukraine to buy weapons, The Associated Press reported. During a visit to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv Thursday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that Denmark will donate $87.5 million, calling it a “new, significant contribution.” Frederiksen said Denmark will assist Ukraine in the clearing of mines in areas that are under Ukrainian control.

11:08 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ruled out heading to Moscow for direct talks with Russian leaders on ending the war, he was quoted on Thursday as saying. "I would be ready to visit any place on this planet. But certainly not now and certainly not Moscow. That is simply out of the question," he was quoted as telling Russian media outlet Mediazona in an interview republished by Austrian newspaper Der Standard. "Nevertheless, under different circumstances and with different rulers in Moscow, anything would be possible," he added. The interview appeared as Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the biggest battle of the Ukraine war, Reuters reported.

11:00 a.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) hosted a bipartisan congressional leadership meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

10:51 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met with U.S. President Joe Biden Thursday. Biden “conveyed the continued commitment of the United States to support the people of Ukraine and to impose costs on Russia,” the White House said in a statement. Shmyhal later sent a message on Twitter saying he was grateful for the additional U.S. assistance for Ukraine. Shmyhal was scheduled to join a meeting at the U.S. Capitol with U.S. lawmakers later Thursday morning.

10:30 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million security assistance package for Ukraine on Thursday. Biden pledged to send dozens of howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition and tactical drones, as he called on Congress for supplemental funding to provide additional aid for Kyiv.

“We’re in a critical window now of time where they’re going to set the stage for the next phase of this war,” Biden said. The president also announced plans to ban Russian-affiliated ships from U.S. ports, further ratcheting up pressure on Moscow, Reuters reported.

“We will continue to provide Ukraine the arms its forces are effectively using on the ground to defend themselves,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday discussing the $800 million in new security assistance. “The people of Ukraine will prevail,” he added.

10:26 a.m.: Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday reiterated his government’s position that international disputes should be resolved through dialogue and not sanctions, a tacit reference to the West’s punitive actions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a forum in Hainan, Xi said China is “committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries” and not interfering in their internal affairs. VOA News has this report.

10:10 a.m.: The U.N. International Organization for Migration released a report Thursday saying the number of displaced persons inside Ukraine has swelled to 7.7 million, which represents 17 percent of the total population, or one in six Ukrainians. Women represent at least 60 percent of those displaced, and more than half of internally displaced persons – mainly in the east of Ukraine – reported a lack of some food products, it said. Most need financial support and medical supplies.

10:03 a.m.: The Biden administration is making it easier for refugees fleeing Russia’s war on Ukraine to come to the United States from Europe while trying to shut down an informal route through northern Mexico that has emerged in recent weeks, The Associated Press reported. A program announced Thursday will streamline refugee applications for Ukrainians and others fleeing the fighting, but will no longer routinely grant entry to those who show up a the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. .says it expects to admit up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, and about 15,000 have come since the February 24 invasion.

9:57 a.m.: Around 120,000 civilians are blocked from leaving the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday. Responding to remarks by Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu that its forces control most of Mariupol, Zelenskyy said that Russia controls most of the city, but Ukrainian troops remain in a part of it. The remainder of Ukrainian troops in Mariupol are now holed up in the Azovstal steel plant from where they are resisting Russian siege, Reuters reported.

9:38 a.m.: The United States will provide an additional $500 million in financial assistance to Ukraine to help it sustain salaries, pensions, and other government programs, a Treasury official said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement on Thursday, when U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, along with Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko, The Associated Press reported. The new funding comes on top of $500 million in economic aid that U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled in March.

9:29 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who is in the U.S. for high-level meetings, shared an interview he did with the Financial Times on Twitter Thursday, saying “If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine.”

9:07 a.m.: President Joe Biden will announce an additional $800 million security assistance package for Ukraine on Thursday when he delivers an update on U.S. efforts related to the Russian invasion, a U.S. official said. The new arms package will be roughly the same size as an $800 million one announced last week but details were still being worked out, another U.S. official told Reuters earlier. U.S. officials have said Ukraine needs heavy artillery, long-range rocket systems and anti-ship missiles.

8:34 a.m.: Since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russia has sought total control over news coverage, issuing laws and directives to local media on how to cover the war and forcing the few remaining independent outlets to shut down or go into exile. And while Kremlin-backed outlets have been dropped in the U.S. and barred across the European Union, they still have a hold in Russian and Spanish-language markets. VOA’s Sirwan Kajjo reports here on how the diaspora media work to counter Russian propaganda.

8:13 a.m.: Pope Francis has renewed his call for a truce in the war in Ukraine, pointing to the April 24 celebration of Easter for the Orthodox Church, The Associated Press reported. In a statement Thursday, Francis said he was joining the call by the U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, and the head of the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine for an April 24 cease-fire. The statement said: “Knowing that nothing is impossible for God, they invoke the Lord that the people trapped in war zones are evacuated and peace is restored, and ask for those responsible in nations to hear the people’s cry for peace.”

8:02 a.m.:

7:47 a.m.: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said any peace talks over Ukraine are likely to fail, as he compared holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiating with a crocodile, Reuters reported. Johnson said dealing with Putin was like "a crocodile when it's got your leg in its jaws" and said it was vital that the West continues arming Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29. The prime minister was speaking as he headed to India, where he will encourage his counterpart Narendra Modi to end its neutrality over the war in Ukraine.

7:32 a.m.: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “continues according to plan,” the Associated Press reported. Peskov told reporters Thursday that “there was and still is an opportunity for Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms and come out via established corridors.” Asked whether the order not to storm the steel plant represented a change of plans, he said that “this is a separate facility where the remaining group of Ukrainian nationalists is completely blocked.”

7:16 a.m.: Asked to comment on Russia's decision to blockade the steel works in Ukraine’s southern port city Mariupol, the last holdout of Ukrainian forces there, rather than storm it, Ukraine's defense ministry spokeswoman said the move testified to Putin's "schizophrenic tendencies" and gave no further response, Reuters reported.

6:43 a.m.: The fight over Ukraine’s southern port city Mariupol is part of a broader Russian offensive in the strategically important eastern Donbas region, where Moscow has been boosting its military presence. “Moscow’s current objective is to broaden its control in the East and South. Ideally, they would like to grab Kharkiv and Odesa,” John E. Herbst, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told VOA. “But those are tall orders. They may have to settle for Mariupol.” Herbst added that “even if he [Russian President Vladimir Putin] makes large gains in the East and South and accepts a settlement that gives him control of his new conquests, that does not mean that he will be satisfied.”

6:27 a.m.: Germany’s foreign minister says her country and others are keeping up pressure on Russia to allow people out of Mariupol and stop striking potential evacuation routes, The Associated Press reported. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during a news conference Thursday that trying to ensure humanitarian corridors has been an issue for weeks. She noted in some cases such corridors have been shot at, and “you see that assurances can’t be relied on.” She added, “It is in (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s hands to stop these bombardments there.”

6:09 a.m.: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Thursday demanded that the Russian military open a humanitarian corridor to allow for the evacuation of civilians and wounded soldiers who are holed up in a steel plant in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol. "There are about 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers there. They all need to be pulled out of Azovstal today," Vereshchuk said in an online post Thursday. Verashchuk called on “world leaders and the international community to focus their efforts now on Azovstal.” She said it was a “key point and a key moment for humanitarian efforts.”

5:54 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to claim victory in the strategic port of Mariupol on Thursday, even as he ordered his troops not to storm the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the war’s iconic battleground, The Associated Press reported. “The completion of combat work to liberate Mariupol is a success,” Putin said. But he said that for now he would not risk sending troops into the tunnels under the Azovstal plant, preferring to isolate the Ukrainian holdouts there. His defense minister predicted the site could be taken in days, and says about 2,000 Ukrainian troops remain. Even though Putin painted the mission to take Mariupol already a success, until the plant falls, he cannot declare a complete victory.

5:30 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, says that Russia has made minor gains, taking parts of the towns of Rubizhne and Popasna, but has not made any major breakthroughs. It also says that Russia may be preparing to draft Ukrainian citizens.

4:50 a.m.: The New York Times reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a televised meeting with his defense minister, said the military would not storm the Mariupol industrial zone where Ukrainian fighters are holed up, saying it would be "impractical." Instead, the Times reports, he wants Ukrainian soldiers to surrender, saying he'd rather “block the industrial zone so that a fly can’t get through. Propose again that all who have not yet put down their arms do so. The Russian side guarantees them their lives and dignified treatment.”

4:03 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that the cybersecurity agencies of several Western nations are warning the Russia might retaliate against sanctions by launching cyberstrikes.

In a news release, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly said, “We know that malicious cyber activity is part of the Russian playbook. We also know that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure. Today’s cybersecurity advisory released jointly by CISA and our interagency and international partners reinforces the demonstrated threat and capability of Russian state-sponsored and Russian aligned cyber-criminal groups to our Homeland.

3:21 a.m.: CNN reports that four evacuation buses left the besieged city of Mariupol on Wednesday.

2:22 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry says that Russia likely wants "significant successes" ahead of its May Victory Day holiday. "This could affect how quickly and forcefully they attempt to conduct operations in the run-up to this date," the update says. The update goes on to say that Russian forces are advancing toward Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine and that Russia continues to attempt to destroy Ukraine's air defenses.

1:32 a.m.: Procter & Gamble, a U.S. manufacturer of household goods, said in a securities filing Wednesday that the conflict in Ukraine may force it out of business in Russia, Al Jazeera reports. The company currently has 2,500 workers in Russia and about 500 in Ukraine.

12:51 a.m.: Chabad.org reports that the victims of Mariupol this month include a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova evaded the Germans in 1941 by hiding in a basement. She died April 4 -- hiding in a Mariupol basement, freezing and pleading for water.

12:15 a.m.: Kyiv has accused the International Committee of the Red Cross of working "in concert" with Moscow, Agence France Presse reports. The Red Cross denies it.

"The ICRC does not ever help organize or carry out forced evacuations. We would not support any operation that would go against people's will and international law," the organization said in a statement to AFP.

12:01 a.m.: CNN reports that World War II's Soviet victory flag is showing up in parts of occupied Ukraine. The flag's an important part of Russia's May 9 WWII Victory Day celebrations.

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

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