On April 15, Russia pledged to intenfisy its attack on Ukranian territories, while claiming control of a steel plant in Mariupol.
Just a day earlier, Russia’s guided-missile cruiser Moskva sank in the Black Sea after being damaged by Ukrainian forces.
More than 4.7 million Ukrainians have fled their country in the 50 days since Russia invaded, the United Nations says.
Meanwhile, the United States’ CIA director William Burns said that Russia’s setbacks could lead President Vladimir Putin to resort to using a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon.
The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.
Here are the latest updates:
Ukraine says swapped captured soldiers with Russia
Ukraine said Friday it swapped several captured soldiers with Russia in the south of the war-scarred country, where Moscow’s invading forces have solidified their greatest gains.
“After tense negotiations, we managed to reach agreements on a prisoner exchange near the village of Posad-Pokrovskoye, where four Russian military personnel were exchanged for our five,” Ukraine’s defence ministry said.
Russian troops have captured the city of Kherson, which is the administrative capital of the eponymous region where Friday’s declared swap took place.- AFP
Russia pledges more missile strikes on Kyiv after overnight hit, says captured Mariupol steel plant
Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday it had struck a military target on the edge of Kyiv with cruise missiles overnight and promised more strikes against the Ukrainian capital.
The ministry said its forces had also completely taken control of the Ilyich Steel Plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
Russia said on Wednesday that 1,026 soldiers of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, had surrendered near the steel plant.- Reuters
Ukraine says 5 dead in Russia strikes, blasts near Kyiv
Ukraine said Friday that Russian strikes had killed five people in the east of the country after President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s forces were aiming to “destroy” the region.
In a report issued by the presidency, Kyiv said two people had been killed and two more wounded in the eastern Lugansk region while another three had been killed and seven wounded in the neighbouring Donetsk region.
The presidency said “fighting was continuing along the entire front line” in Donetsk.
The statement Friday added that explosions were heard in the Vasylkiv area outside the capital and that according to initially available information air defences had been activated.- AFP
Ukraine deputy PM: 9 humanitarian corridors agreed for Friday
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed for Friday to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol.
Other evacuation routes include ones from Berdiansk, Tokmak, Enerhodar and Sievierodonetsk.- Reuters
Ukraine’s Luhansk governor urges residents of 6 towns to evacuate
The governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, on Friday urged residents of six towns to evacuate, adding that one person had been killed and five wounded in Russian shelling of the town of Kreminna.
Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app: “Don’t hesitate and leave while that possibility remains. … Choose life, buses are waiting for you at the pickup points. As are trains, of which there are enough.”- Reuters
Russia may be in default, Moody’s says
Russia may be in default after it tried to service its dollar bonds in roubles due to Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine, Moody’s said, Moscow’s first major default on foreign bonds since the years following the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.
Russia made a payment due on April 4 on two sovereign bonds – maturing in 2022 and 2042 – in roubles rather than the dollars it was mandated to pay under the terms of the securities.
Russia “therefore may be considered a default under Moody’s definition if not cured by 4 May, which is the end of the grace period,” Moody’s said in a statement on Thursday.- Reuters
A view shows a torn flag of Ukraine hung on a wire in front an apartment building destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 14, 2022.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS
Ukraine survived 50 days when Russia ‘gave us a maximum of five’: Zelensky
President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians on Thursday they should be proud of having survived 50 days under Russian attack when the Russians “gave us a maximum of five.”
In his late-night video address, Mr. Zelensky called it “an achievement of millions of Ukrainians, of everyone who on Feb. 24 made the most important decision of their life – to fight.” Mr. Zelensky gave an extensive and almost poetic listing of the many ways in which Ukrainians have helped to fend off the Russian troops, including “those who showed that Russian warships can sail away, even if it’s to the bottom” of the sea.
Mr. Zelensky said he remembered the first day of the invasion when many world leaders, unsure whether Ukraine could survive, advised him to leave the country.
“But they didn’t know how brave Ukrainians are, how much we value freedom and the possibility to live the way we want,” Mr. Zelensky said.- AP
Canada sends soldiers to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees
Canada is sending soldiers to Poland to help with the care, co-ordination and resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in Poland, including some who will come to Canada.
Defense Minister Anita Anand announced the deployment of up to 150 troops Thursday.
Anand said the majority of the deployed troops will head to reception centers across Poland to help care for and register Ukrainian refugees.
Another group is being sent to help co-ordinate international aid efforts.- AP
Powerful blasts heard in Kyiv and other Ukraine cities -local media
Powerful explosions were heard in the early hours on Friday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and a number of other cities across the country, local media reported.
Overnight, air raid sirens were going off over all of Ukraine.
Explosions were also heard in the southern city of Kherson, the eastern city of Kharkiv and in Ukraine’s western city of Ivano-Frankivsk.- Reuters
Ukraine says 2,557 people evacuated on Thursday
A total of 2,557 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Of that, 289 people evacuated from the besieged southern port of Mariupol by their own transport, Vereshchuk said in social media post.- Reuters
CIA warns desperate Putin poses nuclear threat
Russia’s setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine could lead President Vladimir Putin to resort to using a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon, CIA director William Burns said Thursday.
“Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said during a speech in Atlanta.
The Kremlin said it placed Russian nuclear forces on high alert shortly after the assault began February 24, but the United States has not seen “a lot of practical evidence” of actual deployments that would cause more worry, Burns added.- AFP
Russian military’s damaged Black Sea flagship sinks
The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, a guided-missile cruiser that became a potent target of Ukrainian defiance in the opening days of the war, sank on April 14 after it was heavily damaged in the latest setback for Moscow’s invasion.
Ukrainian officials said their forces hit the vessel with missiles, while Russia acknowledged a fire aboard the Moskva but no attack.
Russia warns of nuclear deployment if Finland, Sweden join NATO
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons close to the Baltic States and Scandinavia if Finland or Sweden decide to join NATO.
Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council and President from 2008 to 2012, wrote on Telegram that if the countries joined, this would more than double Russia’s land border with NATO members.
Russia, contesting elections to four U.N. committees, loses all
Russia, contesting elections to four U.N. committees, lost all of them, including one to Ukraine, a verdict being seen as Moscow’s isolation on the global stage.
Elections were held in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Wednesday to fill various vacancies in subsidiary and related bodies.