Russia–Ukraine War (April 22): Satellite Imagery Purports to Show 2nd Cemetery Near Mariupol

Russia–Ukraine War (April 22): Satellite Imagery Purports to Show 2nd Cemetery Near Mariupol
Satellite image of more trenches dug into land outside Mariupol on April 15, 2022. (Maxar Technologies via Reuters)

The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, April 22. Click here for updates from April 21.

Satellite Imagery Purports to Show 2nd Cemetery Near Mariupol

Satellite imagery released on April 22 by Maxar Technologies purported to show freshly dug trenches in a cemetery east of Mariupol.

An image taken from space on March 29 appeared to show newly dug trenches along the perimeter of the cemetery.

Another image taken on April 15 showed more parallel trenches said to be around 40 meters (130 feet) long in the same area of the cemetery.

The site lies around 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Mariupol and outside the village of Vynohradne.

Mariupol has been at the center of a ferocious, weeks-long battle between Ukrainian government forces and Russian soldiers and pro-Russian fighters.

Ukraine said thousands of people had died in Mariupol in nearly two months of Russian shelling, and that 120,000 civilians were still unable to leave the city.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says its military operation is aimed at “liberating” the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk and Luhansk from Ukrainian nationalists.


UN Chief to Visit Moscow on Tuesday, Will Meet Putin

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow on Tuesday, and will meet with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin following the country’s February invasion of Ukraine, a spokesperson for the U.N. chief said.

Guterres will also have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Eri Kaneko, Guterres’ associate spokesperson, told a press briefing in New York on Friday.

“He hopes to talk about what can be done to bring peace to Ukraine urgently,” Kaneko said.

The secretary-general’s office is also working with Ukraine’s government on scheduling and preparations for a visit to Russia’s southern neighbor, the spokesperson said.


Ukraine Security Chief: Main Battles Taking Place in Donbas

Ukraine’s security chief said Friday that the main battles in Ukraine are taking place in the Donbas, the industrial heartland in the east, with Russians deploying more and more troops every day.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told The Associated Press that over 100,000 soldiers are fighting for Russia in Ukraine, including mercenaries from Syria and Libya. He said more troops keep coming in.

“We have a difficult situation, but our army is defending our state,” Danilov said.

He called the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv regions the main hot spots of the fighting. Battles were also being fought in the south of Ukraine, but at a lower intensity, he said.

Some 12 to 14 of Russia’s elite military units have left the strategic port city of Mariupol, which was declared “liberated” by the Kremlin on Thursday, and are now moving to the east of the country to participate in the fighting there, Danilov said.


Ukraine’s Postal Service Hit by Cyberattack After Sales of Warship Stamp Go Online

Ukraine’s national postal service Ukrposhta said it had been hit by a cyberattack on Friday after sales of a postage stamp depicting a Ukrainian soldier making a crude gesture to a Russian warship went online.

Queues formed to buy the stamp when it went on sale at the postal headquarters in Kyiv last week following the sinking of the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Kyiv said it had hit the cruiser Moskva with missiles. Russia said the ship sank while being towed in stormy seas after a fire caused by an explosion of ammunition.

Ihor Smilianskyi, Ukrposhta’s director general, issued an apology to customers for what he said was a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack but did not say who might be behind it.

“We are really doing everything, together with internet providers, to restore both the online store and other Ukrposhta systems that are also temporarily not working due to a DDoS attack on our systems,” he wrote on Facebook.


UN Refuses to Back Ukraine ‘Genocide’ Claims

The U.N. has declined to support accusations by Kyiv and Washington that Russia’s actions during its military offensive in Ukraine have amounted to genocide.

Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), was addressed on the issue by journalists on Friday.

“No, we have not documented patterns that could amount to [genocide],” she responded.

Shamdasani pointed out there were “a lot of these legal qualifications—crimes against humanity and genocide—at the end of the day would be for a court of law to determine.”

According to the U.N.’s own definition, ‘genocide’ includes “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.”


Putin Tells EU to Discourage Ukraine From Shelling Donbass

Brussels could encourage Kyiv to refrain from “massive shelling” of Donbass and from committing “other gross violations” of international law, Russian President Vladimir Putin told European Council President Charles Michel on Thursday.

During a lengthy phone call, held amid the ongoing Russian offensive in Ukraine, the two leaders discussed the latest developments on the ground, including Putin’s decision to call off the assault on Azovstal plant in Mariupol and Russia’s efforts to protect civilians, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Among other things, Putin brought Michel’s attention to the “irresponsible statements of the E.U. representatives about the need to resolve the situation in Ukraine by military means,” apparently referring to the recent controversial statement by the top E.U. diplomat Josep Borrel.

“It was noted that Brussels could influence the Kyiv authorities in order to force them to stop the massive shelling of Donbass settlements and other gross violations of international humanitarian law,” the statement reads.

The Russian president also criticized E.U. officials for allegedly “ignoring” the purported “numerous war crimes of the Ukrainian security forces,” as well as for “openly supporting” Russophobia.

In his own readout of the call Michel said that he “strongly urged for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage from Mariupol and other besieged cities,” especially ahead of the Orthodox Easter, which will be celebrated on April 24.

“Firmly reiterated the E.U.’s position: support for Ukraine and her sovereignty, condemnation and sanctions for Russia’s aggression. Our unity, principles, and values are inviolable,” the head of the E.U. Commission wrote.


Russia Ramps Up Oil Shipments: Report

Russian exports of crude oil have soared despite efforts to ban energy purchases from the country by the United States and its allies, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing data from

Shipments of crude from Russian ports have surged to about 1.6 million barrels per day over the course of April compared to 1.3 million barrels per day recorded in March, up by 300,000 barrels per day, the data shows.

Meanwhile, similar data from Kpler, another commodities data provider, revealed that the exports rose to 1.3 million barrels a day in April from a million barrels per day in mid-March.

The tankers leaving Russian ports were reportedly heading to “destinations unknown,” and European oil traders have been buying it up under the radar.

In April so far, more than 11.1 million barrels were reportedly shipped by tankers without a planned route, which is up from almost none before the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.


Russia Makes Another Offer on Besieged Azovstal

Ukrainian troops and members of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion, who remain besieged in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, can still surrender to the Russian military, the Defense Ministry said on Friday.

A day earlier, Russia announced the capture of Mariupol, with President Vladimir Putin calling off the assault on Azovstal, which remains the last holdout of the Ukrainian forces in the strategic port city. Russian troops should “seal the area so that a fly cannot get through,” Putin ordered.

In its fresh statement, the Defense Ministry pointed out that the offer to surrender to those inside the facility remained in place. “At any given moment, Russia is ready to introduce a ceasefire and announce a humanitarian pause in order to stage the evacuation of civilians (if they’re really staying in the underground structures of the steel plant) and troops of the Ukrainian armed forces and nationalist battalions.”

President Vladimir Putin also said Friday that Russia gave Ukrainian forces inside a Mariupol steel plant the option to surrender, with guarantees to keep them alive.

The comments came during a phone call between Putin and European Council President Charles Michel, according to a readout of the call provided by the Kremlin.

“But the Kyiv regime does not allow them to take this opportunity,” Putin charged, according to the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, a city official in besieged Mariupol says Russian forces are continuing to bomb a massive steel mill where Ukrainian fighters are holed up.

Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, told The Associated Press on Friday that “every day they drop several bombs on Azovstal, despite false promises not to touch the defenders.” Andryushchenko added that “fighting, shelling, bombing do not stop.”


Russian Defense Institute Engulfed in Flames Amid Reports of Chemical Plant Fire

Seven people were killed on Thursday after a fire broke out at a defense research institute in the Russian city of Tver, emergency services officials said in state-run media.

Other officials told state-run TASS that about 25 people also sustained injuries, with many jumping out of the windows of the three-story building while the fire was raging.

An Ambulance crew spokesman told state-run TASS that “some of the victims inhaled smoke, others had bruises and injuries, as people fled the fire and jumped from windows.”

The fire occurred at the Aerospace Defense Forces’ Central Research Institute, which operates under the Russian Defense Ministry, officials said. Online, video footage showed a fire raging and thick smoke emitting from the building.

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Russia’s Lavrov Says Ukraine Talks Stalled

Russia’s top diplomat says talks to end the fighting in Ukraine have “ground to a halt,” because Moscow hasn’t received any response from Kyiv to its most recent set of proposals.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a press conference on Friday that “right now, they (talks) have ground to a halt, because another proposal we passed on to Ukrainian negotiators about five days ago, which was drawn up with their comments taken into account, it remains without a response.”

Lavrov also charged that recent statements by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his advisors suggest “they don’t at all need these talks, they have put up with their destiny.”

However, Vladimir Medinsky, President Vladimir Putin’s aide and Russia’s lead negotiator at the talks with Ukraine, confirmed reports that he held several lengthy conversations Friday with the head of the Ukrainian delegation.

He didn’t offer any details as to what was discussed or if any progress was made.


Russia Says It Plans Full Control of Donbass and Southern Ukraine

Russia plans to take full control of Donbass and southern Ukraine during the second phase of what it calls its special military operation, the deputy commander of Russia’s central military district said on Friday, Russian news agencies reported.

The Interfax and TASS news agencies cited him as saying that full control of southern Ukraine would improve Russian access to Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transdniestria, which borders Ukraine and which Kyiv fears could be used as a launchpad for new attacks against it.

Kyiv earlier this month said that an airfield in the region was being prepared to receive aircraft and be used by Moscow to fly in Ukraine-bound troops, allegations Moldova’s defence ministry and authorities in Transdniestria denied.

“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way to Transdniestria, where there is also evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed,” the TASS news agency quoted Minnekayev as saying at a meeting in Russia’s central Sverdlovsk region.

He was quoted as saying that Russia planned to forge a land corridor between Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which it annexed in 2014, and Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

Minnekayev was cited as saying by Russia’s RIA news agency that media reports of Russian military setbacks were wide of the mark.

“The media are now talking a lot about some failures of our armed forces. But this is not the case. In the first days … the tactics of Ukrainian units were designed to ensure that, having pulled ahead, individual groups of Russian troops fell into pre prepared ambushes and suffered losses,” RIA cited him as saying.

“But the Russian armed forces very quickly adapted to this and changed tactics.”


UK Could Backfill Polish Tanks Being Sent to Ukraine; Planing to Reopen Its Embassy in Kyiv

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. is looking at sending tanks to Poland to replace the Soviet-era T-72 tanks the Poles are shipping to Ukraine.

Johnson made the comments Friday during a news conference in New Delhi, where he held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I think perhaps what I haven’t said publicly before is we’re also looking more at what we can do to backfill in countries such as Poland who may want to send heavier weaponry to help defend the Ukrainians,” Johnson said. “So we’re looking at sending tanks to Poland to help them as they sending some of their T-72s to Ukraine.”

Johnson also says the U.K. plans to reopen its embassy in Ukraine’s capital next week.


Britain, India Call for Immediate Ceasefire in Ukraine

India and Britain have urged Russia to declare an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced steps to help move New Delhi away from its dependence on Russia by expanding economic and defense ties.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told reporters their meeting Friday focused on the situation in Ukraine, underscoring the importance of diplomacy and dialogue.

While India has condemned the killings of civilians in Ukraine, it has so far not criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin. India abstained when the U.N. General Assembly voted this month to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.


UK Explains Russia’s Decision in Calling Off Plan to Storm Mariupol Plant

Britain’s defense ministry says Russia’s decision to end its effort to take a staunchly defended steel plant in the city of Mariupol is an effort to free up troops for deployment in other parts of eastern Ukraine.

In an intelligence update posted Friday morning, the ministry says that “a full ground assault by Russia on the plant would likely incur significant Russian casualties, further decreasing their overall combat effectiveness.”

The ministry says that heavy shelling and fighting continues in the Donbas region as Russia seeks to advance on the settlements of Krasny Lyman, Buhayikva, Barvinkove, Lyman, and Popsana.


American ‘Ghost’ Drones for Ukraine Designed for Attack, Pentagon Says

Newly disclosed “Ghost” drones that are part of America’s latest arms package for Ukraine were developed by the U.S. Air Force for attacking targets and are destroyed after a single use, the Pentagon said on Thursday (April 21).

The United States and its allies have ramped up arms shipments to Kyiv ahead of Russia’s announced offensive in eastern Ukraine, as Moscow tries to salvage its nearly two-month old campaign.

Ukrainian forces have used Western weapons including Stinger and Javelin missiles along with drones, like the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 and U.S.–made Switchblade, effectively to target Russian positions.

The White House said earlier on Thursday that over 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems would be provided to Ukraine as part of the new arms package.

The Pentagon said the Ghost drones are well suited for the coming fight in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which officials have described as flat terrain reminiscent of the U.S. state of Kansas.

“In discussions with the Ukrainians again about their requirements, we believed that this particular system would very nicely suite their needs, particularly in eastern Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said, without elaborating.

Little else is known about the drones, including their range and precise capabilities, and Kirby declined to offer more details about them.

Still, he did say they were designed mainly for striking targets.

“This unmanned aero-system is designed for tactical operations, in other words, largely but not exclusively to attack targets,” he added.

A small number of Ukrainians have been trained in the United States on how to operate Switchblade drones, single-use weapons that fly into their targets and detonate on impact.

Kirby said training for the Ghost drones would be similar to the training on the Switchblade. But he declined to detail training plans or say how many Ukrainians would be trained on the new system.

The Ghost drones have not yet been delivered to Ukraine.

Earlier on Thursday, Kirby said the drones had been rapidly developed for Ukraine. But later, at a news conference, he clarified that development had started before the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

Kirby also mentioned U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host Ukraine-focused defense talks with allies at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on April 26, the Pentagon said on Thursday. Kirby did not say how many allies would participate.


Scholz Says Top Priority Is Avoiding NATO Confrontation With Russia

NATO must avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia that could lead to a third world war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with Der Spiegel when asked about Germany’s failure to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Scholz is facing growing criticism at home and abroad for his government’s apparent reluctance to deliver heavy battlefield weapons, such as tanks and howitzers, to Ukraine.

Asked in an extensive interview published on Friday why he thought delivering tanks could lead to nuclear war, he said there was no rule book that stated when Germany could be considered a party to the war in Ukraine.

“That’s why it is all the more important that we consider each step very carefully and coordinate closely with one another,” he was quoted as saying. “To avoid an escalation towards NATO is a top priority for me.”

“That’s why I don’t focus on polls or let myself be irritated by shrill calls. The consequences of an error would be dramatic.”

This was a departure from his previous statements on the topic, focusing on the fact that Germany’s own military’s stocks were too depleted to send any heavy battlefield weapons while those the German industry has said it could supply could not easily be put into use.

Asked why he would not explain his government’s reluctance with the threat of nuclear war, he said such “simplifications” were not helpful.

Separately, Scholz defended his decision not to immediately end German imports of Russian gas in response to what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“I absolutely do not see how a gas embargo would end the war. If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin were open to economic arguments, he would never have begun this crazy war,” he said.

“Secondly, you act as if this was about money. But it’s about avoiding a dramatic economic crisis and the loss of millions of jobs and factories that would never again open their doors.”

Scholz said this would have considerable consequences not just for Germany but also for Europe and the future financing of the reconstruction of Ukraine.


Yellen Says US to Give Ukraine Another $500 Million to Keep Government Running

The United States will give Ukraine another $500 million in to help its government continue critical government operations, doubling the $500 million aid pledge by President Joe Biden in March, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday.

Yellen told a news conference that she shared the aid plans during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday.

“The needs of Ukraine are urgent, and we plan to deploy this direct aid to Ukraine as soon as possible,” Yellen said. “We know this is only the beginning of what Ukraine will need to rebuild, and I’m committed to working with Congress and our international allies and partners to build on this support in the medium and long term.”

The new aid will help Ukraine pay government salaries, pensions, and fund social programs necessary to avoid a worsening of the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of its southwestern neighbor.

Yellen said the $1 billion in direct aid will require the Biden administration to make a supplemental budget request to Congress and she was committed to asking lawmakers for further help for Ukraine.

The Treasury official’s statement came after G7 finance ministers on Wednesday announced that they had provided and pledged additional support to Ukraine exceeding $24 billion for 2022 and beyond, and vowed to do more as needed.


Ukrainian Troops Begin Training in Britain

A small number of Ukrainian troops are being trained in Britain for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion as Prime Minister Boris Johnson steps up his military support to help Ukraine fight off its neighbor. The troops began training with armored patrol vehicles donated by Britain this month, Johnson’s spokesman said.

Britain is providing Ukraine with 120 armored patrol vehicles, including the Mastiff, which can be used as a reconnaissance or patrol vehicle. The spokesman said Britain, in conjunction with its allies, was providing new types of equipment to Ukrainian soldiers that they may not have used before.

Members of the Ukrainian government visited a military camp in April on Britain’s Salisbury Plain where they were shown demonstrations of equipment, followed by discussions on how the government can supply weapons. Britain’s military has been training Ukrainian forces since 2014. They were withdrawn in February to avoid direct conflict with Russian forces and the possibility of NATO being drawn into the conflict.

The United States military is also training Ukrainian troops on using howitzer artillery while Britain is training Ukrainians in Poland to use anti-aircraft weapons.


Satellite Images Allegedly Show Mass Grave Near Mariupol

New satellite images from near the besieged southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol released on Thursday (April 21) were said to show scores of freshly-dug graves.

The images from Maxar Technologies purport to show the gradual creation of a mass grave site next to an existing graveyard on the edge of Manhush, a town located around 20 km (12 miles) west of Mariupol.

The company said the images, taken between March 19 and April 3, 2022, show around 200 new graves covering an area of around 85 square meters (approx. 914 sq ft).


Mariupol Mayor Appeals for ‘Full Evacuation’ as Ukrainian Safe Corridors Falter

The mayor of Mariupol appealed on Friday for the “full evacuation” of the devastated southern Ukrainian city which President Vladimir Putin says is now controlled by Russian forces.

“We need only one thing—the full evacuation of the population. About 100,000 people remain in Mariupol,” Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on national television.

Boichenko, who is no longer in Mariupol, did not provide any update on any fighting in or around the port city on the Sea of Azov.

Putin said on Thursday that Russian troops had “liberated” Mariupol, which would make it the biggest city to fall into Russian hands since the start of what Moscow calls a “special military operation.”

But a contingent of Ukrainian fighters are still holding out in the underground bunkers of the Azovstal steel complex, alongside hundreds of civilians in desperate conditions, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Despite Boichenko’s appeal, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Ukraine was not attempting to establish any humanitarian corridors for civilians on Friday “due to the danger on the routes.”

“To all those waiting to be evacuated: be patient, please hold on!” she wrote on Facebook.

Hopes of evacuating more civilians from the eastern town of Rubizhne, where there has been heavy fighting, were dashed by Russian artillery fire, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai claimed.

Russia did not immediately comment on the remarks by Vereshchuk or Gaidai. Moscow has denied targeting civilians and blames Ukraine for the repeated collapse of efforts to arrange humanitarian corridors for civilians.


World Bank Estimates Ukraine Physical Damage at Roughly $60 Billion So Far

Physical damage to Ukraine’s buildings and infrastructure from Russia’s invasion has reached roughly $60 billion and will rise further as the war continues, World Bank President David Malpass said on Thursday.

Malpass told a World Bank conference on Ukraine’s financial assistance needs that the early estimate of “narrow” damage costs does not include the growing economic costs of the war to Ukraine.

“Of course the war is still ongoing, so those costs are rising,” Malpass said.


Lithuania’s President Calls for More NATO Troops

NATO should increase its deployment of troops in Lithuania and elsewhere on Europe’s eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania’s president told Germany’s foreign minister during a meeting in Vilnius on Friday.

NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battalion should be transformed into “at least” the size of a brigade, while air defences should be improved, President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement.

He also called for a reinforcement of the Baltics’ only overland connection to the rest of the European Union, a narrow strip of land between Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave known as the Suwalki corridor.


Australia Targets Putin’s Daughters, Russian Senators in Fresh Sanctions

The Australian government has imposed sanctions and travel bans on two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s daughter, it said in a statement on Friday.

It follows similar measures undertaken by other Western nations including the United States and Britain, and takes the total number of people and entities in Russia subject to Australian sanctions to nearly 750.

It did not name the two Putin daughters but the Russian president is known to have two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova. The statement added President Putin and Lavrov were added to the sanctions list on Feb. 27.

The fresh round of sanctions also targets 144 Russian senators who provided support to President Putin by approving the “illegitimate” recognition as independent the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine on Feb. 22, Australia’s foreign ministry said in its statement.


One Killed in Transport Plane Crash in Southern Ukraine: Local Authorities

One person was killed and two were injured when a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane crashed during a “technical flight” in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine on Friday, local authorities said.

The Zaporizhzhia regional administration said that, according to preliminary and unconfirmed information, the plane hit an electricity pole and the engine caught fire.


Mariupol Mayor Says Lives of City’s Trapped Residents Are in Putin’s Hands

Russian President Vladimir Putin alone can decide the fate of the 100,000 civilians still trapped in Ukraine’s war-torn Mariupol, Mayor Vadym Boichenko told Reuters on Thursday, saying that satellite images of a mass grave site were proof Russians were burying bodies to try to hide the death toll.

Earlier Putin claimed victory in the battle for Mariupol after nearly two months of siege that has led to the most intense battles of the war and its worst humanitarian catastrophe. Under heavy bombardment, citizens who did not flee have suffered without electricity, heating, or water.

“It’s important to understand that the lives that are still there, they are in the hands of just one person—Vladimir Putin. And all the deaths that will happen after now will be on his hands too,” Boichenko said in an interview.

Putin on Thursday said Russian troops had “liberated” Mariupol, which would make it the biggest city to fall into Russian hands since the start of what Moscow calls a “special military operation.” Russia denies targeting civilians.

“There were no plans to liberate the city. It was a plan of destruction,” Boichenko said. He estimated that 90 percent of the southeastern port city had been damaged or destroyed since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

“Today at all levels, we only talk about one thing—that we need a ceasefire, we need a full evacuation of the 100,000 Mariupol residents who are prisoners of Russian forces and we need to free all the people who are at Azovstal.”


Ukraine’s Zelenskyy Urges World to Send More Heavy Weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday his war-ravaged country needed more heavy weapons to defend itself from Russia’s invasion that threatened Ukraine’s very survival, and he asked Western nations to impose further sanctions.

“In 57 days of war, more than 1,000 Ukrainian towns were occupied by invaders who continue to destroy our cities,” he said. “Millions of people had to flee … it is as if the whole of Portugal was forced to leave.”

He said the Russian army had committed atrocities, including in the port city of Mariupol, which has faced heavy bombardment.

“We are fighting not only for our independence, but for our survival, for our people so that they do not get killed, tortured, and raped,” Zelenskyy said. “The Russians have already kidnapped more than 500,000 people … who were deported to the most distant regions of Russia, in remote camps.”

Moscow, which describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation,” denies targeting civilians and rejects what Ukraine says is evidence of atrocities, saying Kyiv has staged them to undermine peace talks.

The Ukrainian president asked Portugal to support a global embargo on Russian oil and to back Kyiv’s desire to join the European Union.

Shortly after Zelenskyy’s speech, Portuguese parliament president Augusto Santos Silva said: “Your country’s fight for freedom is Europe’s fight for freedom.”

European Council President Charles Michel said on Wednesday the EU would look for more ways to respond to Russia’s invasion.

Jack Phillips, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.