Thursday, April 18, 2024

Live: Zelensky calls for ‘firm global response’ to deadly strike on Kramatorsk train station

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called on the West to follow the UK in providing military aid to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia during a visit by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Kyiv. Read our live blog to review the day’s developments. All times are Paris time [GMT + 2].

10:52 pm: Five killed in east Ukraine shelling says Donetsk governorRussian shelling killed five civilians and wounded five others in two east Ukrainian cities Saturday, the local governor said.

“Today, five people were killed after Russian shelling in the region of Donetsk,” the Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko posted on Telegram.

Four of them died in the city of Vugledar, and one in the town of Novomikhaylovka, he added.

The fighting has become increasingly fierce in the region, where authorities have urged residents to evacuate before a feared Russian offensive.

10:37 pm: Russian forces continue to use IEDs to inflict casualties, says UK intelligenceRussian forces continue to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to inflict casualties, lower morale, and restrict Ukrainian freedom of movement, according to British military intelligence on Saturday.

“Russian forces also continue to attack infrastructure targets with a high risk of collateral harm to civilians,” the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Russia’s departure from northern Ukraine leaves evidence of the disproportionate targeting of non-combatants, the statement said.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its southern neighbor.

10:00 pm: Ukraine says 4,532 people evacuated from cities on SaturdayA total of 4,532 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, fewer than the 6,665 who escaped on Friday, a senior official said.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, made the announcement in an online post.

09:07 pm: Ten humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations in Ukraine’s eastTen humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations are to open in Ukraine’s east on Saturday, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. The corridors will allow residents to leave a number cities in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.

Ten humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations in eastern Ukraine. © FRANCE 24

Those in Mariupol, Enerhodar, Tokmak, Berdyansk and Melitopol will be able to evacuate to the city of Zaporizhzhia, while those in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Girske and Rubizhne can evacuate to the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.

07:30 pm: Ukraine exchanges prisoners with Russia, 12 soldiers coming home says officialUkraine carried out a prisoner exchange with Russia on Saturday, the third such swap since the start of the war, and 12 soldiers are coming home, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an online post.

Vereshchuk also said that as part of the deal, 14 civilians were returning to Ukraine. She did not say how many Russians had been released.

07:24 pm: Zelensky calls on West to follow UK example on military aidUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called on the West to follow the UK in providing military aide to Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Russia during a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Kyiv. 

“Other Western democratic countries should follow the UK’s example,” Zelensky said after talks with Johnson. 

07:02 pm: UK’s Johnson offers more armoured vehicles and missiles to Ukraine, says Russia sanctions will ratchet upBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a meeting in Kyiv on Saturday that Britain would provide the country with 120 armoured vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems.

The aid was in addition to 100 million pounds’ ($130 million) worth of high-grade military equipment announced on Friday, Downing Street said.

Today I met my friend President @ZelenskyyUa in Kyiv as a show of our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.

We’re setting out a new package of financial & military aid which is a testament of our commitment to his country’s struggle against Russia’s barbaric campaign.

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 9, 2022

Britain would also guarantee an additional $500 million in World Bank lending to Ukraine, taking its total loan guarantee to $1 billion, and would liberalise tariffs on most imports from Ukraine and take other measures to free up trade.

He also said that countries supporting Ukraine following its invasion by Russia would continue to tighten the economic sanctions on Moscow.

“Together with our partners, we are going to ratchet up the economic pressure and we will continue to intensify, week by week, the sanctions on Russia,” Johnson said in comments to the media, standing alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

05:01 pm: Kramatorsk rail station attack: Russia will ‘always deny what it’s doing’ Ukraine is ready for a tough battle with Russian forces amassing in the east of the country, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday, a day after a missile attack in the east that officials said killed more than 50 civilians trying to evacuate at Kramatorsk rail station.

“Russia will always deny what it’s doing,” says FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor Philip Turle. “The reason [Russians] are going after civilians is because they are not under the control of the military, and some of the soldiers there are just doing it for fun,” he added. Watch the full video below: 


04:47 pm: Global pledging event raises 10.1 billion euros for UkraineA global pledging event for Ukrainian refugees called Stand Up for Ukraine has raised 10.1 billion euros ($11 billion), European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in Warsaw on Saturday.

“The ‘Stand Up For Ukraine’ campaign has raised 9.1 billion euros for people fleeing bombs, inside and outside Ukraine, with an additional billion pledged by EBRD (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development),” von der Leyen said.

Today we raised 9.1 billion euros for the people fleeing the invasion, inside Ukraine and abroad. And more will come!

We will continue providing support.

And once the bombs have stopped falling, we will help the people of Ukraine rebuild their country. #StandUpForUkraine

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 9, 2022

04:09 pm: UK PM Boris Johnson meets with Zelensky in KyivUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was meeting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv on Saturday, Ukrainian and British officials said.

Johnson’s visit had begun with a one-on-one meeting with Zelensky, Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukraine president’s office, said on Facebook.

Johnson met Zelensky “in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people”, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“They will discuss the UK’s long-term support to Ukraine and the PM will set out a new package of financial and military aid.”

Johnson’s visit to the Ukrainian capital was not announced in advance, and comes as Russia is amassing troops in the east of the country.

“The UK will send more defensive weapons to Ukraine and will work with G7 partners to target every pillar of the Russian economy to ensure Putin fails,” Johnson tweeted earlier on Saturday.

02:54 pm: Ukraine ‘still ready’ for talks with Russia, Zelensky saysUkraine was “still ready” to continue negotiations with Moscow, which have stalled since the discovery of atrocities in Bucha and other areas near Kyiv, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday.

“We are ready to fight and to look in parallel to end this war through diplomacy,” Zelensky said in a press conference with the Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who visited the capital and Bucha.

02:24 pm: EU discusses Ukraine war crime probes with ICC prosecutorThe EU is to discuss its support for war crimes probes in Ukraine in meetings over the next two days with the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, the European Commission said on Saturday.

Karim Khan, of The Hague-based court, is to meet EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Sunday in Luxembourg, then take part in a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the city on Monday.

The meetings underline the European Union’s strong support – also voiced in a G7 statement on Thursday – for investigations into atrocities in Ukraine, spurred on notably by killings in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

Ukraine’s government and some neighbouring EU countries have said Russia –whose troops occupied Bucha before the discovery of the corpses – was responsible and guilty of war crimes. Moscow denies that.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was in Kyiv for talks with Zelensky

Touched by the resilience, determination and hospitality of @ZelenskyyUA & @Denys_Shmyhal.

I return with a clear to do list:

1. This war will be won on the battlefield. Additional €500 million from the #EPF are underway. Weapon deliveries will be tailored to Ukrainian needs.

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) April 9, 2022

02:02 pm: More than 4.4 million Ukrainians flee war, UN saysThe UNHCR said there were 4,441,663 Ukrainian refugees on Saturday – that was 59,347 more than the previous day.

Europe has not seen such a flood of refugees since World War II.

Ninety percent of those who have fled Ukraine are women and children, as the Ukrainian authorities do not allow men of military age to leave.

According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), around 210,000 non-Ukrainians have also fled the country, sometimes encountering difficulties returning to their home countries.

The United Nations estimates that 7.1 million people have been displaced within the country, according to figures published by the IOM on April 5.

More than 11 million people, or more than a quarter of the population, have been forced to flee their homes, cross the border into neighbouring countries or seek refuge elsewhere in Ukraine.

Before the conflict, Ukraine was home to more than 37 million people in territory controlled by Kyiv – which does not include Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, or areas in the east under the control of pro-Russian separatists.

01:00 pm: Civilian killings in Ukrainian town of Bucha amount to war crimes, Germany’s Scholz saysThe perpetrators of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were guilty of war crimes and must be held accountable, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday.

“This is something we cannot forget,” Scholz said, referring to the deaths of civilians in the town to the northwest of Kyiv.

“We cannot overlook that this is a crime. These are war crimes we will not accept… those who did this must be held accountable.”

12:10 pm: Italy intends to reopen embassy in Kyiv after EasterItaly intends to reopen its embassy in Kyiv immediately after Easter, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday.

“We were the last to leave Kyiv and we will be among the first to go back,” Di Maio said after a meeting at the ministry to discuss the war in Ukraine.

“At the same time we must intensify diplomatic pressure to bring (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to the talks table and reach a ceasefire.”

11:50 am: Von der Leyen says ‘instinct’ tells her Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine, but lawyers must investigateEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that Russian forces appeared to have committed war crimes by targeting civilians in Ukraine, but she said lawyers must investigate the alleged incidents.

Leaving Ukraine after a visit, she said she had seen with her own eyes on Friday the destruction in the town of Bucha near Kyiv. A forensics team began exhuming a mass grave on Friday containing the bodies of civilians who local officials say were killed while Russians occupied the town.

“My instinct says: If this is not a war crime, what is a war crime, but I am a medical doctor by training and lawyers have to investigate carefully,” von der Leyen told reporters on board a train leaving Ukraine on Saturday.

11:36 am: Russian officials accuse YouTube of blocking Duma’s channelRussian officials on Saturday accused US video hosting service YouTube of blocking the channel of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and warned of reprisals.

Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said Washington was breaching “the rights of Russians” while foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said “YouTube has sealed its fate”.

10:25 am: Russian forces destroy ammunition depot, fighter jet in central Ukraine, Russia’s defence ministry saysRussian forces have destroyed an ammunition depot at the Myrhorod Air Base in central Ukraine, Interfax news agency reported on Saturday, quoting the Russian Defence Ministry.

A Ukrainian air force MiG-29 fighter and a Mi-8 helicopter were also destroyed in the attack on the base in the Poltava region, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

9:46 am: Leader of Swedish opposition party says could change stance on NATO membershipThe leader of Sweden’s second-biggest opposition party will, should neighbour Finland apply to join NATO, suggest that his party change its stance towards joining the transatlantic military alliance, he told daily Svenska Dagbladet.

Should Finland apply, “my ambition is to go to the party council with a request that we change our mind”, the newspaper quoted Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson as saying in an interview.

A change of stance by the party would mean a swing to a parliamentary majority in favour of long-neutral Sweden joining the alliance.

9:14 am: More evacuations needed from eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk, governor saysMore people need to evacuate from the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine as shelling has increased in recent days and more Russian forces have been arriving, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Saturday.

He said that some 30 percent of residents still remain in cities and villages across the region and have been asked to evacuate.

“They (Russia) are amassing forces for an offensive and we see [that] shelling has increased,” Gaidai told public television.

8:23 am: Authorities in Ukraine’s Donetsk urge anyone with a vehicle to help evacuate civiliansAuthorities in Ukraine’s Donetsk region are appealing to anyone with a vehicle to help evacuate civilians amid fears of an imminent offensive by Russian forces. FRANCE 24’s Catherine Norris Trent reports from Kharkiv.


7:50 am: Ten humanitarian corridors agreed for besieged regions in UkraineTen humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from Ukraine’s besieged regions have been agreed for Saturday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

The planned corridors include one for people evacuating by private transport from the city of Mariupol, Vereshchuk said.

7:36 am: Ukrainians hoping more Russia sanctions, weapons deliveries follow condemnation of Kramatorsk strikeUkrainians are hoping that more sanctions on Russia and more deliveries of weapons to Ukraine’s military will follow world leaders’ condemnation of the missile strike on a train station in Kramatorsk that killed more than 50 people on Friday. FRANCE 24’s chief international affairs editor Rob Parsons reports from Lviv, Ukraine.


6:51 am: Zelensky says Ukraine expects ‘firm global response’ to strike on KramatorskUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a “firm global response” Friday after a missile strike killed 52 people at a train station in eastern Ukraine where civilians had gathered to flee a feared Russian offensive.

“This is another Russian war crime for which everyone involved will be held accountable,” Zelensky said in a video message, referring to Friday’s missile strike, whose victims included five children.

“World powers have already condemned Russia’s attack on Kramatorsk. We expect a firm global response to this war crime,” he continued.

World leaders condemned the attack in the Donetsk capital, with US President Joe Biden accusing Russia of being behind a “horrific atrocity” that the French condemned as a “crime against humanity.”

At least 52 people including five children were killed, the regional government said, while Zelensky reported 300 wounded, saying the strike showed “evil with no limits”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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