Day 48 of Russia-Ukraine crisis: As it happened

Zelensky says Moscow could resort to chemical weapons

By Team KT

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Reuters file
Reuters file

Published: Tue 12 Apr 2022, 6:42 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Apr 2022, 12:06 AM

Ukraine pleaded for more weapons from the West to help it end the siege of Mariupol and fend off an expected Russian offensive in the east, as more reports emerged of brutality against Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address late on Monday that Russia could resort to chemical weapons as it amassed troops in the eastern Donbas region for a new assault on the port of Mariupol, where thousands are believed to have died under a near-seven week siege.

The departure of Russian forces from the outskirts of Kyiv has brought to light harrowing allegations of war crimes including executions and rape of civilians. Moscow dismisses the allegations as Ukrainian and Western provocations and has also accused Ukrainian forces of sexual violence.

Senior UN official Sima Bahous told the Security Council on Monday that all allegations must by independently investigated.

Russia's deputy UN ambassador denied the allegations.

Here are the latest developments on April 12:

12.00am: World Bank to send Ukraine $1.5 billion as food, energy prices spike

The World Bank is preparing a $1.5 billion support package for war-torn Ukraine and plans to aid developing countries struggling to keep up with surging food and energy prices, World Bank President David Malpass said on Tuesday.

In remarks at the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland, Malpass said the bank was helping Ukraine provide critical services, including paying wages for hospital workers, pensions and social programs. Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

“The World Bank was created in 1944 to help Europe rebuild after World War Two. As we did then, we will be ready to help Ukraine with reconstruction when the time comes,” Malpass said.

11.15pm: Kyiv says captures fugitive Ukrainian Putin ally

Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday announced they had captured a prominent pro-Kremlin tycoon who escaped from house arrest after Russia’s invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a picture online of a dishevelled-looking Viktor Medvedchuk with his hands in cuffs and dressed in a Ukrainian army uniform.

“A special operation was carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine. Well done!” Zelensky wrote on Telegram.

10.35pm: Chemical weapons watchdog 'concerned' by Mariupol reports

The world's chemical weapons watchdog said on Tuesday that it was "concerned" over reports of the use of chemical weapons in the besieged Ukrainian port of Mariupol.

"The Technical Secretariat of the OPCW is monitoring closely the situation in Ukraine. The Secretariat is concerned by the recent unconfirmed report of chemical weapons use in Mariupol, which has been carried in the media over the past 24 hours," the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement.

8.57pm: German president says Kyiv rejected his offer to visit country

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday that he had offered to visit Ukraine with other EU leaders, but Kyiv had told him his trip was not wanted.

The snub comes as Steinmeier, a former foreign minister, is facing criticism at home and abroad for his years-long detente policy towards Moscow, which he has since admitted was a mistake.

More details here

3.44pm: Six people found shot dead in basement outside Kyiv

Ukrainian prosecutors said Tuesday that six people had been found shot dead in the basement of a building outside Kyiv, the latest discovery fuelling allegations of Russian atrocities.

“The bodies of six civilians with gunshot wounds were found in a basement during an inspection of a private residence,” the prosecutor general said in a statement, adding that the killings took place in Brovary outside the capital Kyiv.

The killings were carried out by Russian forces who took control of the area at the beginning of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, the prosecutor general said, publishing an image of what it said was the scene of the discovery with several bodies in a dark, concrete hole lit by a flashlight.

1.38pm: More than 10,000 civilians dead in Mariupol, says Mayor

Corpses are now “carpeted through the streets” of Mariupol after Russian troops killed more than 10,000 civilians over the past six weeks in their unsuccessful fight to capture the strategic southern port, the mayor said, while Western powers warned Tuesday of an ongoing buildup for a suspected Russian assault in Ukraine’s east.

Speaking by phone Monday with The Associated Press, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused Russian forces of having blocked weeks of attempted humanitarian convoys into the city in part to conceal the carnage. Boychenko said the death toll in Mariupol alone could surpass 20,000.

Boychenko also gave new details of allegations by Ukrainian officials that Russian forces have brought mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the corpses of victims of the siege.

Russian forces have taken many bodies to a huge shopping center where there are storage facilities and refrigerators, Boychenko said.

1.15pm: Putin says Russia will achieve ‘noble’ aims of its Ukraine military campaign

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine would undoubtedly achieve what he said were its “noble” objectives.

Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that said Moscow had no other choice but to launch a military operation to protect Russia and that a clash with Ukraine’s anti-Russian forces had been inevitable.

“Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin said of Russia’s military campaign.

“On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself. It’s clear that we didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision.”

12.28pm: Putin to hold talks with Belarusian leader

President Vladimir Putin flew into Russia’s far east Amur region on Tuesday for talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko expected to focus on Ukraine and Russian-Belarusian integration.

The two leaders were due to head to the Vostochny Cosmodrome to mark Russia’s annual Cosmonautics Day, commemorating the first manned space flight made in 1961 by the Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

They were also expected to inspect the spaceport and meet staff, and to give a joint news conference at around 1100 GMT.

More details here

12.20pm: Russian-backed forces deny using chemical weapons in Mariupol - Ifax

Russian-backed separatist forces did not use chemical weapons in their attempts to take full control of the city of Mariupol despite Ukrainian allegations to the contrary, Eduard Basurin, a separatist commander, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said earlier on Tuesday that Kyiv was checking unverified information that Russia may have used chemical weapons while besieging the southern Ukrainian port city.

11.10am: Russia says it destroyed ammo depots in two Ukrainian regions

The Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday that its missiles had destroyed ammunition depots in Ukraine's Khmelnytskyi and Kyiv regions.

The ministry said Russian forces had struck an ammunition depot and hangar at the Starokostiantyniv airbase in the Khmelnytskyi region, as well as an ammunition depot near Havrylivka north of the capital Kyiv.

10.45am: 'All options on table if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine'

All options would be on table in response to any use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia, British armed forces minister James Heappey said on Tuesday.

British foreign minister Liz Truss on Monday said Britain was working with its partners to verify the details of reports Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on Mariupol.

More details here

10.00am: Ukraine deputy PM says 9 humanitarian corridors agreed for Tuesday

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed for Tuesday to evacuate civilians, including from the besieged city of Mariupol by private cars.

Vereshchuk said in a statement that five of the nine evacuation corridors were from Ukraine's Luhansk region in the east of the country, which Ukrainian officials have said is under heavy shelling.

9.35am: UK Says fighting in eastern Ukraine to intensify over the next 2-3 weeks

Fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia continues to refocus its efforts there, the UK's Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin on Tuesday.

Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push towards Kramatorsk, British military intelligence said.

The report also said that Russian forces continue to withdraw from Belarus in order to redeploy in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

7.45am: Putin to discuss Ukraine with Belarus leader Lukashenko on Tuesday

Putin will meet Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Western sanctions, news agencies in Russia and Belarus reported.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 from both Russian and Belarusian territory in what it called a “special military operation” designed to demilitarise its neighbour.

Lukashenko has insisted that Belarus must be involved in negotiations to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, saying also that Belarus had been unfairly labelled “an accomplice of the aggressor”.

Reuters file
Reuters file

Lukashenko arrived early on Tuesday in the Amur region in the Russian Far East where he is to meet Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport, Belarusian Belta news agency reported.

April 12 is celebrated in Russia and some other former Soviet countries as the Cosmonautics Day, commemorating the first manned space flight made in 1961 by the Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

6.30am: IMF sets up administered account to allow donors to fund Ukraine

Ukraine's finance ministry on Monday welcomed the creation of a special new account set up by the International Monetary Fund to give bilateral donors and international organizations a secure way to send financial resources to war-torn Ukraine.

The IMF's executive board approved creation of the new account on Friday after the Canadian government proposed disbursing up to $1 billion Canadian dollars through the vehicle, which is to be administered by the IMF.

The account will allow donors to provide grants and loans to help the Ukrainian government meet its balance of payments and budgetary needs and help stabilize its economy as it continues to defend against Russia's attack.

"Donors will benefit from the IMF's tested infrastructure to quickly deliver authenticated payments," the IMF said.

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