Russia-Ukraine war: UN calls for ‘immediate stop’ to Mariupol attacks;…




Here’s a quick summary of today’s events

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is expected to ask Washington for more heavy weapons when he meets the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, later today. Blinken and Austin will be the most senior US officials to visit Kyiv since the war began two months ago. Zelenskiy announced the planned visit at a news conference on Saturday night. The White House has not responded.
  • Latest UNHCR data discloses almost 5.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country. More than 1,151,000 Ukrainians have left during April so far, compared with 3.4 million in the month of March alone. Beyond that, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates more than 7.7 million people have been displaced within Ukraine.
  • In his Easter Sunday message, Zelenskiy said the religious festival “gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will conquer darkness, good will conquer evil, life will conquer death, and consequently Ukraine will surely win”.
  • Pope Francis has used the Orthodox Easter weekend to once again allurement for a truce in Ukraine “to ease the experiencing of depleted people”.
  • Ukraine says hundreds of its forces and civilians are retained inside the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, which Russia has been trying to take for two months. Although Moscow had earlier declared victory in Mariupol and said its forces did not need to take the factory, the Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces have resumed air strikes and are trying to storm the plant.
  • Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan and Zelenskiy have discussed Mariupol during a telephone call. Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, the Turkish presidency said on Sunday.
  • The UN has called for an “immediate stop” to fighting in Mariupol so that civilians retained in the city can be evacuated today.

Believers celebrate Easter at a church in MariupolA priest sprinkles holy water on believers on Easter Day at the Svyato-Troitsky church, amid Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 24, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander ErmochenkoBelievers celebrate Easter at a church in Mariupol
A priest sprinkles holy water on believers on Easter Day at the Svyato-Troitsky church, amid Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 24, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Lorenzo Tondo

Dozens of civilians who died during the Russian occupation of the Ukrainian city of Bucha were killed by tiny metal arrows from shells of a kind fired by Russian artillery, forensic doctors have said.

Pathologists and coroners who are carrying out postmortems on bodies found in mass graves in the vicinity north of Kyiv, where occupying Russian forces have been accused of atrocities, said they had found small metal darts, called fléchettes, encased in people’s heads and chests.

Independent weapons experts who reviewed pictures of the metal arrows found in the bodies, seen by the Guardian, confirmed that they were fléchettes, an anti-personnel weapon widely used during the first world war.

These small metal darts are contained in tank or field gun shells. Each shell can contain up to 8,000 fléchettes. Once fired, shells burst when a timed fuse detonates and explodes above the ground.

Fléchettes, typically between 3cm and 4cm in length, release from the shell and disperse in a conical arch about 300m wide and 100m long. On impact with a victim’s body, the dart can lose rigidity, bending into a hook, while the arrow’s rear, made of four fins, often breaks away causing a second wound.

A small metal dart, called a fléchette, embedded in the body of man killed in Bucha, where Russian occupiers have been accused of atrocities against residents. Courtesy of Kyiv’s forensic department.A small metal dart, called a fléchette, encased in the body of man killed in Bucha, where Russian occupiers have been accused of atrocities against residents. Courtesy of Kyiv’s forensic department. Photograph: Alessio Mamo

Updated at 12.10 EDT

A Russian-speaking expat celebrating Easter lights a candle at the Christian Orthodox Church in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Isabel Debre)A Russian-speaking expat celebrating Easter lights a candle at the Christian Orthodox Church in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Isabel Debre) Photograph: Isabel Debre/AP

AP has this interesting report from the United Arab Emirates, where Russians and Ukrainians are celebrating the Orthodox Easter at the only Russian Orthodox Church on the Arabian Peninsula:

The church’s gold Byzantine crosses rise unexpectedly from the dusty streets of Sharjah – a conservative Muslim emirate just south of skyscraper-studded Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Although the two nationalities, united in language and history, typically celebrate Easter in harmony in this strange corner of the world where they’ve forged new lives as expats, this year there was unspoken tension already as children in floral dresses played on the stone steps and priests blessed brimming bread baskets under the blazing sun.

“I don’t have any problems with Russians as people,” said Sergei, a Ukrainian businessman from Kyiv and Dubai resident of five years, who like all those interviewed, declined to give his last name for privacy reasons. “But war changes people. Children are dying. The Russians now hate my country.”

A few Russians interviewed said they did not sustain the war and felt sick or guilty about it. But to avoid any confrontation in the pews, they stuck to small talk with Ukrainians about the festivities and warming weather, they said.

“We’re all the same, we’ve all come from Russia or Ukraine to seek a better life here,” said Kata, who moved from Moscow to Dubai for a marketing job just before the war. “It’s so weird between us right now. We try as much as possible not to discuss the war. It’s too painful, too difficult.”

This is Sam Jones, taking over the blog from Sarah Haque.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy has made it plain that’s he’s expecting concrete contributions following his much-trailed meeting later today with the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin.

The White House, however, has not commented.

Zelenskiy said he was looking for the Americans to produce results, both in arms and security guarantees, saying on Saturday:

You can’t come to us empty-handed today, and we are expecting not just presents or some kind of cakes – we are expecting specific things and specific weapons.

The visit would be the first by senior US officials since Russia invaded Ukraine 60 days ago. Blinken stepped briefly on to Ukrainian soil in March to meet the country’s foreign minister during a visit to Poland. Zelenskiy’s last confront-to-confront meeting with a US leader was on 19 February in Munich with vice-president Kamala Harris.

Updated at 11.33 EDT

Here’s a quick summary of today’s events

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is expected to ask Washington for more heavy weapons when he meets the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, later today. Blinken and Austin will be the most senior US officials to visit Kyiv since the war began two months ago. Zelenskiy announced the planned visit at a news conference on Saturday night. The White House has not responded.
  • Latest UNHCR data discloses almost 5.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country. More than 1,151,000 Ukrainians have left during April so far, compared with 3.4 million in the month of March alone. Beyond that, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates more than 7.7 million people have been displaced within Ukraine.
  • In his Easter Sunday message, Zelenskiy said the religious festival “gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will conquer darkness, good will conquer evil, life will conquer death, and consequently Ukraine will surely win”.
  • Pope Francis has used the Orthodox Easter weekend to once again allurement for a truce in Ukraine “to ease the experiencing of depleted people”.
  • Ukraine says hundreds of its forces and civilians are retained inside the Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, which Russia has been trying to take for two months. Although Moscow had earlier declared victory in Mariupol and said its forces did not need to take the factory, the Ukrainian authorities say Russian forces have resumed air strikes and are trying to storm the plant.
  • Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan and Zelenskiy have discussed Mariupol during a telephone call. Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, the Turkish presidency said on Sunday.
  • The UN has called for an “immediate stop” to fighting in Mariupol so that civilians retained in the city can be evacuated today.

The UK’s flagship scheme for welcoming Ukrainians, Homes for Ukraine, has been called “heartless and inhumane” after visa officials demanded a six-month-old baby undergo security scans 800 miles from her home before she is allowed to fly to Britain.

The need was criticised as “a scandal” on Sunday as the Guardian revealed further examples of UK bureaucracy preventing Ukrainians from fleeing to safety. Read the exclusive report from Josh Halliday:

Updated at 10.32 EDT

UN: almost 5.2 million Ukrainians flee war

The number of Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia’s invasion two months ago is approaching 5.2 million, the UN refugee agency said on Sunday.

The total figure of 5,186,744 is an increase of 23,058 over Saturday’s data, the UNHCR said. More than 1,151,000 Ukrainians have left during April so far, compared with 3.4 million in the month of March alone.

Beyond the refugee figures, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates more than 7.7 million people have been displaced within Ukraine. Almost two-thirds of Ukrainian children have had to flee their homes, including those who keep in the country.

The latest figures come as Ukrainians mark Orthodox Easter Sunday.

Here is a breakdown of how many Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, according to UNHCR:

  • Poland: 2,899,713 (nearly six out of 10 Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Poland).
  • Russia: 578,255 (in addition, 105,000 people crossed into Russia from the separatist-held pro-Russian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk).
  • Romania: 774,074.
  • Hungary: 489,754.
  • Moldova: 433,214.
  • Slovakia: 354,329.
  • Belarus: 24,084.

Ukrainian refugees attend a traditional Easter breakfast at the humanitarian aid centre in Nadarzyn, near Warsaw, Poland.Ukrainian refugees attend a traditional Easter breakfast at an aid centre in Nadarzyn, near Warsaw, Poland. Photograph: Mateusz Marek/EPA

Updated at 10.27 EDT

OSCE ‘concerned’ over missing members in separatist areas

The world’s largest security body said on Sunday that it is “extremely concerned” after several of its Ukrainian members were believed to have been arrested in pro-Russian separatist territories in the country’s east.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) evacuated many of its staff from the country after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

In a tweet on Sunday, it said: “The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of @OSCE_SMM national mission members have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Lugansk.”

It additional that it is “using all obtainable channels to ease their release”.

The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of @OSCE_SMM national mission members have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Luhansk and is using all obtainable channels to ease their release.

— OSCE (@OSCE) April 23, 2022

According to Russia’s Tass news agency, the security sets of the Luhansk separatists said this month they had arrested two members of the OSCE mission.

Tass said one of them had “confessed” to passing “secret military information to representatives of foreign special sets” and that a high treason investigation had been opened against them.

On Sunday, the US ambassador to the OSCE, Michael Carpenter, called for the body’s members to be released.

“Russia’s lies claiming Ukrainian @OSCE—SMM staff spied for the Ukrainian government are reprehensible,” he said on Twitter.

“Staff loyally and impartially served the @OSCE. Any staff held by should be released closest and will be held accountable for any harm they suffer.”

The Vienna-based OSCE has 57 member states across three continents – including Russia, Ukraine and the US.

Updated at 10.11 EDT

Tory chairman Oliver Dowden: France and Germany have to do more

Minister and Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden told the BBC that “it would be good to see more from France and Germany” to sustain the Ukraine war effort.

He told the BBC that the west should “continue to tighten the ratchet on Russia” as Moscow ramps up its offensives in the south and east of Ukraine.

When asked whether he thought Russia could appear victorious, he said: “That has always been a possibility that Russia could come out of this victorious. We don’t want that to happen.”

On Sunday, the US’stop diplomat and defence chief were set to make their first war-time visits to Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine two months ago. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced the planned visit during a lengthy Saturday night news conference held in a Kyiv subway stop. The White House has not commented.

Updated at 09.55 EDT

The governor of Russia’s Kursk vicinity says a checkpoint in the vicinity has come under fire from Ukraine.

This report cannot closest be verified.

Updated at 09.56 EDT

Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday. the human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy discussed serving on a legal taskforce to build situations of war crimes in Ukraine.

On Russian soldiers not facing consequences for rape she told Sky News: “A change is taking place internationally in the recognition of rape as a weapon of war and what that method is not that an instruction is given from the top to go out there and rape citizens, women and girls and nobody else, but it is about this tacit permission that is given.

“The reason why no one is bought to book or called into line or disciplined and so that gives an immunity to soldiers on the ground, they know that this is permissible and so what we’ve heard and evidence is being gathered, is that serious offences of a grievous kind are being committed against citizens, against women and girls and that’s a new thing, in recognition and investigating and making sure it is properly reported.”

Updated at 09.56 EDT

Erdoğan and Zelenskiy discuss Mariupol

Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, President Tayyip Erdoğan told Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency said on Sunday.

Zelenskiy said he and Erdoğan discussed the urgent need for immediate evacuation of civilians from the mostly Russian-occupied port city of Mariupol, and the exchange of Ukrainian troops holed up in the surrounded but Ukrainian-held Azovstal factory.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated at 09.57 EDT

Ukrainian refugees distributed across central Europe filled churches on Sunday for Orthodox Easter, in bittersweet celebrations: giving thanks for escaping the Russian invasion, but dreaming of a return home to family and friends left behind.

More than 5 million Ukrainians have fled since Russia invaded, with the majority seeking refuge across borders into Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Reuters reported scenes in Poland and Germany:

At Warsaw’s Orthodox Cathedral of St Mary Magdalene in the city centre where priests said holiday sets were busier than in past years, children carried Easter baskets adorned with Ukrainian flags and had blue and yellow bows in their hair.

“This is my first Easter holiday that I am not spending in Ukraine … but fortunately there are a lot of people from Ukraine here,” said Anna Janushevich, 35, who fled from Lviv.

“When the war is over I will go back to Ukraine. I dream that I will be able to return so that I can celebrate Easter at my home and that my daughter will be with her family.”

Like many fellow churchgoers, Bohdana Dudka, 27, snapped photos to send home to family members including her two brothers who remained in Ukraine to fight.

At Berlin’s Nathanael Church, Ukrainian community leaders said the congregation of around 500 would expand to an expected 2,500 people for the celebrations where refugees said the singing and traditions reminded them of home. More than 369,000 Ukrainians have registered in Germany after fleeing the war.

Diana Shyndak, 23, originally from Kyiv said, “It’s my first Easter celebration not in Ukraine. It’s sad and my heart hurts because so many people have died. We pray everyday for our people and our children.”

Updated at 09.57 EDT

Click: See details




leave your comment

Top