Thick smoke and flames seen in port city as Ukraine says some missiles ‘shot down by air defence’
Pope blasts Vladimir Putin for launching ‘savage’ war
In Bucha, one of 30 towns and villages said to have been retaken, the mayor said some 280 victims were in mass graves, while journalists reported seeing bodies still lying in the streets.
With Russia regrouping for attacks further east, missile strikes were heard in the key southern port city of Odesa on Sunday morning, with a regional official saying “critical infrastructure facilities” were hit.
It comes after the Kremlin earlier vowed to target UK weapons shipped across the Ukrainian border, after a Russian helicopter was reportedly shot down using a British-made missile.
Speaking about Britain’s supply of weapons to the Ukrainian army, Moscow’s ambassador in London, Andrey Kelin, claimed such deliveries make the conflict “even bloodier”.
“Naturally, our armed forces will view them as a legitimate target if those supplies get through the Ukrainian border,” he told the state-run Tass news agency.
Thick plume of smoke seen in Odesa after missile strikes
Here are some images from Odesa this morning, where missile strikes have been reported and a city official said “critical infrastructure facilities” were hit.
Corroborating earlier reports, the images showed a thick plume of smoke visible from across the city.
Andy Gregory3 April 2022 08:29
Peace talks have not progressed enough for leader’s meeting, Russia says
Russia’s negotiator has contradicted his Ukrainian counterpart by saying that peace talks have not progressed enough for a leader’s meeting, with Moscow’s position on the status of Crimea and Donbas said to remain unchanged.
“The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top,” Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Telegram. “I repeat again and again: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbas remains UNCHANGED.”
Ukraine had started to show a more realistic approach to peace talks, Mr Medinsky said, claiming that Ukraine had agreed it would be neutral, not have nuclear weapons, not join a military bloc and refuse to host military bases.
But on the questions of Crimea and the Donbas, Medinsky indicated there had been no progress.
Mr Medinsky said he did not share the optimism of Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia, who told Ukrainian television on Saturday that the draft deal was advanced enough to allow consultations between Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Unfortunately, I don’t share Arakhamia’s optimism,” Mr Medinsky said. “Moreover, Ukrainian diplomatic and military experts lag far behind on confirming even those agreements which were already reached at the political level on the draft text.”
Talks via videoconference would continue on Monday, he said.
Andy Gregory3 April 2022 08:16
Civilian atrocities discovered after Russians retreat near Kyiv
As Ukraine said its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv, the mayor of a liberated town said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army, while victims were seen in a mass grave and still lying on the streets.
Ukraine’s troops have retaken more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion.
At Bucha, a town neighbouring Irpin just 23 miles northwest of the capital, Reuters journalists reported seeing bodies lying in the streets and the hands and feet of multiple corpses poking out of a still-open grave at a church ground.
Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said more than 300 residents had been killed, while many residents were reported to tearfully recall brushes with death and curse the departed Russians.
The UK’s foreign secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by atrocities in the town and voiced support for the International Criminal Court’s inquiry into potential war crimes.
Andy Gregory3 April 2022 07:39
‘Critical infrastructure’ hit by missile strikes in Odesa, reports suggest
There have been further reports of missile strikes in Odesa, inclduding from official channels.
The city council said missiles hit the southern port city in the early hours of Sunday, and regional administration spokesperson Sergey Bratchuk told Ukraine’s public broadcaster that one of the city’s “critical infrastructure facilities” was hit.
“We hope there will be no casualties,” Mr Bratchuk said.
Washington Post reporter Isabelle Kurshudyan suggested that a fuel depot had been hit, while a journalist with Agence-France Press said the explosions were followed by at least three thick columns of smoke and flames visible in an apparently industrial area.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, wrote on Telegram that “Odesa was attacked from the air” by missiles, and claimed some “were shot down by air defence”.
Andy Gregory3 April 2022 07:22
Russia vows to target British weapons in Ukraine as it accuses UK of escalating war
Andrey Kelin, Moscow’s ambassador in London, claimed Britain’s decision to send arms supplies to the Ukrainian army had made the war “even bloodier”.
His comments came after the Starstreak high-velocity missile system, supplied to Ukraine by Britain in March along with anti-tank weapons, was involved in an attack on a Russian aircraft in the Luhansk region.
They also follow British defence secretary Ben Wallace’s promise to send more lethal aid to Kyiv.
My colleague Chiara Giordano reports:
Emily Atkinson3 April 2022 06:00
Lithuanian filmmaker killed in Ukraine’s Mariupol, report says
Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius was killed in Ukraine’s beseiged Mariupol city on Saturday, said reports.
Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT quoted a source as saying a rocket had hit the car the documentary filmmaker was in. He was rushed to hospital, but was later declared dead, the broadcaster said, while adding that the death was not officially confirmed yet.
Russian film director Vitaly Mansky, who is Kvedaravičius’s colleague, and who founded documentary movie festival Artdocfest, condoled the death on Facebook.
“Our friend Artdocfest participant, Lithuanian documentary writer Mantas Kvedaravičius, was murdered today in Mariupol, with a camera in his hands, in this s****y war of evil, against the whole world,” he said.
Kvedaravičius had long documented Mariupol before the invasion, and was known for the conflict-zone documentary Mariupolis, that had premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.
Anuj Pant3 April 2022 05:12
UK and Ukraine to ‘remain in close contact’ in coming days – No 10
Prime minsiter Boris Johnson spoke with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday evening.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “He congratulated Ukraine’s brave armed forces for successfully pushing back Russia’s invading army in a number of areas, but recognised the huge challenges that remain and the immense suffering being inflicted on civilians.”
The spokesperson added: “President Zelensky underscored the urgency of Ukraine’s fight for its survival as a free and democratic nation, and the importance of international assistance.
“President Zelensky also updated on the status on peace negotiations and welcomed further UK involvement in these diplomatic efforts. Both leaders agreed on the importance of continuing to ratchet up sanctions to increase the economic pressure on (Vladimir) Putin’s war machine, so long as Russian troops remain on Ukrainian territory.
“They committed to remain in close contact and speak again in the coming days.”
Emily Atkinson3 April 2022 05:00
Explosions heard and smoke seen in Odesa, Reuters reports
Explosions were heard and smoke was seen in the southern Ukraine port city of Odesa early on Sunday, according to a Reuters witness.
The news agency said there wasn’t an official confirmation of the attack.
Anuj Pant3 April 2022 04:36
New radio station helps Ukrainian refugees adapt in Prague
A new Prague-based internet radio station has started to broadcast news, information and music tailored to the day-to-day concerns of some 300,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia launched its military assault against Ukraine.
In a studio at the heart of the Czech capital, radio veterans work together with absolute beginners to provide the refugees with what they need to know to settle as smoothly as possible in a new country.
The staff of 10 combines people who have fled Ukraine in recent weeks with those who have been living abroad for years.
No matter who they are, their common goal is to help fellow Ukrainians and their homeland facing the brutal Russian invasion.
Natalia Churikova, an experienced journalist with Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said she couldn’t say no to an offer to become the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief.
“It was for my people. For people who really needed help, who really needed support, something that would help them start a new life or restart their lives here after they have lived through very bad things trying to escape from Ukraine,” Churikova said.
Emily Atkinson3 April 2022 04:00
Watch: Convoy of buses arrive in Zaporizhzhia after Mariupol evacuation of civilians
Convoy of buses arrive in Zaporizhzhia after Mariupol evacuation of civilians
Emily Atkinson3 April 2022 03:00
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