The Ukrainian crisis roundup

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April 27 (Reuters) – Russian energy giant Gazprom  said it had halted gas supplies to Bulgariaand Poland for failing to pay for gas in roubles, the Kremlin’s toughest response yet to sanctions imposed by the West over the conflict in Ukraine. 

FIGHTING

* Russian forces were attacking a huge steel plant where fighters and some civilians are holed up in the southern city of Mariupol, an aide to the city’s mayor said.

Aide Petro Andryushchenko also said no agreements had been reached on trying to evacuate civilians from Mariupol on Wednesday. 

* Russia’s defence ministry said its Kalibr missiles had struck an arms depot in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region housing weapons from the United States and European countries.

* Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces were pressing their offensive in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions and they had captured several settlements.

* Blasts were heard early on Wednesday in three Russian provinces bordering Ukraine, authorities said, and an ammunition depot in the Belgorod province caught fire around the same time. 

DIPLOMACY, AID

* Germany announced its first delivery of heavy weapons – Gepard tanks with anti-aircraft guns – to Ukraine after weeks of pressure at home and abroad. 

* Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed “in principle” to U.N. and International Committee for the Red Cross involvement in the evacuation of civilians from the Mariupol steel plant, the United Nations said. 

*Ukraine’s lead negotiator said on Wednesday no agreement had been reached for the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to discuss the war in Ukraine, despite efforts by Turkey to arrange such talks. Mykhailo Podolyak said “the time of a meeting of the two countries’ presidents and the context of the meeting have not yet been determined.” He drew attention also to increased hostilities in east Ukraine and Russian attempts to “completely destroy” the southern city of Mariupol.

*Russia on Wednesday imposed personal restrictions on 287 British members of parliament and banned them from entering the country, accusing them of fuelling “unwarranted Russophobic hysteria”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.The ministry said the sanctions on members of the House of Commons were in response to Britain imposing similar restrictions on 386 members of its own lower house of parliament on March 11.

*Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to supply Ukraine with Leopard battle tanks, adding that Germany should speed up the delivery of weapons to Kyiv.”I am not in the position of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. I can only say what I would do in his place: I would deliver tanks,” Nauseda was quoted by Funke media group as saying on Wednesday.On Tuesday, Germany announced its first delivery of heavy weapons to Ukraine to help it fend off Russian attacks, after weeks of pressure at home and abroad to do so amid confusion over its stance.

SPILLOVER INTO MOLDOVA?

* Ukraine accused Russia of trying to drag Moldova’s breakaway region of Transdniestria into its war after authorities in the Russia-backed region, adjacent to southwest Ukraine, said they had been targeted by a series of attacks. 

HUMAN AND ECONOMIC IMPACT

* Ukrainian authorities dismantled a huge Soviet-era monument in Kyiv meant to symbolise friendship between Russia and Ukraine. 

* Ukrainian farmers in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia that borders the front line are wearing body armour to plough their fields. Ukraine is the world’s fifth-biggest exporter of wheat. 

QUOTES

Russia is “beginning the gas blackmail of Europe” – Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Relatives and friends attend a funeral ceremony of Yurii Krasnozhon, who was killed in basement of postal office where he was inprisoned by Russian soldiers together with other several men, at the cemetery of Peremoha village of Kyiv area, Ukraine. The UN Human Rights Council has decided to launch an investigation into the violations committed after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine as Ukrainian Parliament reported, as more than 700 bodies of killed civilian people were carried for exhumation and expert examination, after Ukrainian army recaptured areas around Kyiv. EPA-EFE/OLEG PETRASYUK

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