The Ukrainian crisis roundup

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April 8 (Reuters) – More than 30 people were killed and over 100 wounded in a Russian rocket strike on a railway station packed with women, children and elderly evacuees in eastern Ukraine early on Friday, as civilians tried to evacuate to safer parts of the country, Ukrainian officials said. 

FIGHTING

*At least 39 people were killed and 87 wounded in a Russian rocket strike on a railway station packed with evacuees in east Ukraine on Friday, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said, updating an earlier estimate of 30 killed.In an online post, he said many of the wounded were in a serious condition.

* Russia gave the most sombre assessment so far of its invasion of Ukraine, describing the “tragedy” of mounting troop losses and the economic hit from sanctions, as Ukrainians were evacuated from eastern cities before an anticipated major offensive. 

* British military intelligence said Russian forces were shelling cities in the east and south and had advanced further south from the city of Izium, which is under their control. Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

* Capturing Mariupol is still the main focus of Russian troops and Russian battalions are blockading and bombarding the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian military said.

* The United States will send new weapon systems to Ukraine, after NATO foreign ministers agreed to accelerate arms deliveries. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of a war that could last months or even years. 

CASUALTIES OF CONFLICT

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the situation in Borodyanka, a town northwest of Kyiv, was “significantly more dreadful” than in Bucha, where Ukraine and the West say Russian troops killed civilians in what amounted to war crimes. He did not cite any evidence. Moscow denies targeting civilians. 

* Video from Borodyanka showed search and rescue teams using heavy equipment to dig through the rubble of a building that collapsed. Hundreds of people were feared buried.

* A social media video verified by Reuters and geolocated to an area west of Kyiv appears to show Ukrainian forces shooting and killing a captured and badly wounded Russian soldier. 

A woman hugs the coffin a Ukrainian serviceman killed in actions, as his comrades hold his picture during his funeral in Lviv, Ukraine. EPA-EFE/MYKOLA TYS

*Russia’s Nobel Peace Prize winning journalist Dmitry Muratov says he has been attacked with red paint laced with the solvent acetone aboard a train.”My eyes are burning terribly,” said the editor of the Novaya Gazeta liberal newspaper, which has halted its operations after warning from Moscow over its Russia-Ukraine war coverage.The male attacker shouted, “Muratov, this is for our boys,” he said.Novaya Gazeta is known for being highly critical of the Russian authorities.

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

* Ukraine said it aimed to establish up to 10 humanitarian corridors to evacuate trapped civilians on Friday, but civilians trying to flee besieged Mariupol will have to use private vehicles.

* At least 160,000 civilians remain trapped in Mariupol without power and with little food or running water, the city mayor said, putting the civilian death toll in the city at about 5,000. Reuters was not able to verify the numbers.

DIPLOMACY, ECONOMY

* European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has gone to Ukraine, the most senior Western leader to go to Kyiv since Russia invaded on 24 February.

She is due to have talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and is heading to Kyiv by train from south-eastern Poland with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

* The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council and voiced grave concern at the continuing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Russia called the move illegal. 

* Ukraine and Russia are “constantly” holding peace talks online but the mood has been affected by events including the deaths of civilians in Bucha, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on Friday.

*The US Department of Treasury has officially blacklisted two Russian businesses – a diamond-miner and a shipbuilder – barring their access to the US financial system. The latest sanctions target the Russian state-owned enterprises, United Shipbuilding Corp and the Alrosa diamond mining company.”Through these designations, Treasury is cutting off additional sources of support and revenue for the Government of the Russian Federation to wage its unprovoked war against Ukraine,” the US officials said in a press releaseAlrosa is the largest diamond mining company in the world, accounting for 28% of global diamond mining, the US statement said, adding that in 2021 Alrosa generated over $4.2bn in revenue.United Shipbuilding Corp is “responsible for the construction of almost all of Russia’s warships”, the US statement added.

* The European Union on Friday formally adopted its fifth package of sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products. It will also prevent many Russian vessels and trucks accessing the EU and ban all transactions with four Russian banks, including VTB. 

* Britain added Vladimir Putin’s daughters to its sanctions list on Friday, mirroring moves by the United States, in what it said was an effort to target the lifestyles of those in the Russian president’s inner circle. 

* Australia has sent off the first three of 20 armoured military trucks it’s gifting to Ukraine, following a request from Ukrainian President Zelensky last week.The heavily fortified Bushmaster vehicles will be used to transport soldiers and civilians in the war zone – they won’t be used for offensive attacks.Zelensky delivered a video address to Australia’s parliament last week – the 20th nation he spoke to – thanking the country for its steadfast support so far. Australia has committed over A$190m (£108m; $142m) in military and humanitarian aid and enacted several sanctions on Russian individuals and oil imports.

QUOTES

* “I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives, and the war is contained in Ukraine,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

* “The whole world is not comfortable. Do you think that anyone should be comfortable with this crisis?” Zhang Jun, the United Nations ambassador of Russia’s strategic partner China, in response to remarks by his U.S counterpart.

Photo – A still image taken from a handout video made available by the Russian Defence Ministry press service.

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