Russia-Ukraine latest updates: US officials to meet Zelenskyy – Al Jazeera English

Ukraine news from April 24: President Zelenskyy says he hopes to secure heavy weapons at talks with senior US officials.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 60
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These were the updates on April 24:

Many experts view French President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election as good news for Ukraine.
“This is a mandate for France to support Ukraine fully. No more chats with Putin. No more ‘brotherly love’”, said Paul Massaro, policy advisor at the US Helsinki Commission.
Congrats to Macron. And with a wide margin. This is a mandate for France to support Ukraine fully. No more chats with Putin. No more “brotherly love”
— Paul Massaro (@apmassaro3) April 24, 2022

“Macron’s resounding victory is a mandate for EU energy sanctions and BIG military support for Ukraine. What a legacy moment. With [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz refusing to recognize reality, Macron could be the man to save Europe,” Massaro wrote on Twitter.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have arrived in Kyiv and are holding talks with Zelenskyy, Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Zelenskyy, has said in a social media video.
Reuters was not able to independently verify whether the US officials had arrived in Kyiv.

Zelenskyy’s adviser says US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Kyiv.

Two people have been killed and 14 wounded in Kharkiv Oblast by Russian shelling, The Kyiv Independent has reported.
“According to governor Oleh Synehubov, one civilian was killed in Kharkiv, another one in the town of Chuhuiv,” it said on Twitter. “The official said that an 11-year-old child was among the injured.”
⚡️Two people killed, 14 wounded in Kharkiv Oblast by Russian shelling on April 24.
According to governor Oleh Synehubov, one civilian was killed in Kharkiv, another one in the town of Chuhuiv. The official said that an 11-year-old child was among the injured.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) April 24, 2022

Bulgarian journalist Christo Grozev notes on Twitter that a “Ukrainian heavy-transport Antonov plane just landed” in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, according to a flight-tracking website.
A Ukrainian heavy-transport Antonov plane just landed in Sofia… I wonder why..
— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) April 24, 2022

“Bulgaria has been secretly supplying ammo to Ukraine via a ‘third country’, in an attempt to prevent disintegration of the coalition government due to the Socialists’ adamant pro-Kremlin objection to arms exports,” Grozev wrote in a Twitter thread.
“Bulgaria has the all-important large caliber (152) shells in quantities that can support Ukraine’s defense for months. But secret supplies can only get Ukraine a streak, so Ukraine has been pushing for official sales. Maybe it worked. We’ll find out soon.”

Kyiv, Ukraine – Waiting for a priest to give an Easter blessing at St Michael’s Monastery, a golden-domed cathedral with sky-blue walls in central Kyiv, Olha Liforenko had some thoughts about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“When I look at Putin, I don’t see a human. I see nothing but dead meat,” the 75-year-old said.
Read the story by Al Jazeera’s Mansur Mirovalev here.

Ukraine has invited Russia to talks near the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holding out in a city largely under Moscow’s control, Kyiv has said.
“We invited Russians to hold a special round of talks on the spot right next to the walls of Azovstal,” Zelenskyy aid Oleksiy Arestovych said.

According to the latest update from Ukrainian forces, Russian troops intensified their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast in an attempt to advance, but were forced to retreat to occupied territories, The Kyiv Independent has reported.

Russia has said a village in its Belgorod region bordering Ukraine was shelled from across the frontier, state news agency TASS has quoted a local official as saying.
Vladimir Pertsev, the official, said there were no casualties or damage after one projectile landed in a field, according to TASS.

No humanitarian routes have been established out of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said, blaming Russian forces for not holding their fire.
Vereshchuk said that the Ukrainian side would try again on Monday to establish safe passage out of Mariupol. She called for Guterres to demand a ceasefire and open up humanitarian corridors from Mariupol.
“This is what Guterres should talk about in Moscow, if he is preparing to talk about peace,” Vereshchuk said.

The number of Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia’s invasion two months ago is approaching 5.2 million, the UN refugee agency has said.
The total figure of 5,186,744 is an increase of 23,058 over Saturday’s data, the UNHCR said.
More than 1,151,000 Ukrainians have left during April so far, compared with 3.4 million in the month of March alone.
INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 60 April 24 5GMT

An unspecified multiple number of civilians were killed by Russian shelling in Luhansk region on Sunday, local governor Serhiy Gaidai has said.
In a sombre video address commemorating Orthodox Easter Sunday, Gaidai said “today, once again, civilians have died. Our compatriots. The (Russians) do not hold anything sacred”.

The UK has said “it would be good to see more from France and Germany” to support the Ukraine war effort, warning that a Russian victory has “always been a possibility”.
Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC that the West should “continue to tighten the ratchet on Russia” as Moscow ramps up its offensives in the south and east of Ukraine.
“The West has to respond in turn and we are willing to do so,” he added. “There is a desire for us all to do it but it would be good to see more from France and Germany as well.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will press India over its neutral stance on the Ukraine war after arriving in the country for trade, security and climate talks.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has not openly condemned the Kremlin or backed a United Nations Security Council vote that deplored Moscow’s “aggression”.
Von der Leyen’s itinerary began with visits to local climate change initiatives, where she praised India for its “ambitious” renewable power target and said the Ukraine war had thrown energy security issues into the spotlight.

Pope Francis has appealed again for a truce in Ukraine over the Orthodox Easter weekend, “to ease the suffering of exhausted people”.
“Instead of halting, the war has become worse,” the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said as the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine flew among the faithful gathered on St Peter’s Square.
“It is sad that on these most holy and solemn days for Christians we hear more of the murderous noise of weapons than that of the bells announcing the resurrection” of Christ.
“I renew the appeal for an Easter truce, the smallest tangible sign of a willingness for peace,” he pleaded.

Turkey is ready to give all possible assistance during the negotiation process between Ukraine and Russia, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Zelenskyy during a telephone call, the Turkish presidency has said.
Erdogan said the evacuation of the wounded and civilians in Ukraine’s Mariupol must be ensured, adding that Turkey viewed the guarantor issue positively in principle. Ukraine has sought security guarantees from various countries during talks.

The working of the Russian embassy in Washington, DC is “blockaded”, with its bank accounts closed and staff receiving threats, state news agency RIA cited ambassador Anatoly Antonov as saying.
“The embassy is in essence blockaded by US government entities. Accounts of our two consulates in Houston and New York have been closed by Bank of America,” Antonov was quoted as saying.
“We receive threats both by phone and letters come … At some point even the exit from the embassy was blocked,” he added.

The UN’s Ukraine crisis coordinator, Amin Awad, has called for an “immediate stop” to fighting in Mariupol to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians in the battered city “today”.
“The lives of tens of thousands, including women, children and older people, are at stake in Mariupol,” Awad said in a statement.
“We need a pause in fighting right now to save lives. The longer we wait the more lives will be at risk. They must be allowed to safely evacuate now, today. Tomorrow could be too late.”
The call was echoed by humanitarian organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has facilitated the safe passage of civilians.
We @ICRC are calling for immediate access to #Mariupol.
Our @ICRC_ua teams are ready to support the civilians trapped in the city already for too long.
Time is of the essence as the humanitarian conditions are unbearable.
— Patricia Rey (@PReyICRC) April 24, 2022

Ukraine’s president has spoken of hope and victory for his nation during an Easter Sunday address.
Speaking from the ancient St Sophia cathedral, Zelenskyy said, “The great holiday today gives us great hope and unwavering faith that light will overcome darkness, good will overcome evil, life will overcome death, and therefore Ukraine will surely win!”
“The Lord and the holy heavenly light are on our side,” he said. “We are going through very difficult ordeals. Let us reach a just end on this path — the beginning of a happy life and prosperity of Ukraine.”
Zelenskyy said that “on Easter, we ask God for great grace to make our dream come true – this is another great day – the day when great peace will come to Ukraine.”

Russia’s defence ministry has said its high-precision missiles struck nine Ukrainian military targets overnight, including four arms depots in the Kharkiv region where artillery weapons were stored.
The ministry also said its missile and artillery forces destroyed a further four such arms depots in the same region and hit a facility in Dnipropetrovsk region producing explosives for the Ukrainian army.

Two children have been killed in shelling by Russian forces, the governor of Ukraine’s Donetsk region has said, urging people to evacuate areas near the fighting.
Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Telegram that the children, girls aged five and 14, had died in the Ocheretynsk community after the building where they lived was destroyed.

Senior Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said Russian forces were continuously shelling Mariupol and urged Moscow to agree to a “real Easter truce”.
“Russia is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians and military are located, is shelled with heavy air bombs and artillery,” Podolyak said on Twitter.
He urged Russia to “think about the remnants of its reputation” and called for “a real Easter truce in Mariupol” alongside an immediate humanitarian corridor for civilians and special round of talks to facilitate the exchange of military and civilians.”
(1/2) Orthodox Easter 2022. But right now, RF is continuously attacking the Mariupol Azovstal. The place where our civilians & military are located is shelled with heavy air bombs & artillery. RF accumulates forces & equipment for the assault. Who gave the order “not to storm”?
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) April 24, 2022

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, has called overnight for the opening of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine, where he said “an indescribable human tragedy is unfolding”.
“We call once again for an immediate end to the fratricidal war, which, like any war, undermines human dignity,” Bartholomew said.

Switzerland has held up German arms deliveries to Ukraine by blocking the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used in Marder infantry fighting vehicles that Kyiv would like to get, Swiss paper SonntagsZeitung has reported.
The Marder, made by German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, uses ammunition manufactured in Switzerland, the paper said. Switzerland restricts the re-export of such war material to conflict zones.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed 213 children and injured another 389, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has said.
The toll does not take include causalities in areas where the conflict is active, the office said on Twitter.
— Офіс Генерального прокурора (@GP_Ukraine) April 24, 2022

Despite Russia making some territorial gains, Ukrainian resistance has been strong across all axes and inflicted a significant cost on Russian forces, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.
“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganise forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness,” the update added.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 24 April 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response:
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 24, 2022

Russia has deployed Iskander-M mobile battlefield missile launchers within 60km (40 miles) of the Ukrainian border, according to Ukraine’s military.
“Then enemy has increased the number of troops in the Belgorod region by transferring and concentrating additional units,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its daily morning update.
“According to available information, Iskander-M launchers have been deployed 60km from the border with Ukraine,” it said, without providing more detail on the location of the systems.
The Iskander, a mobile ballistic missile system codenamed SS-26 Stone by NATO, replaced the Soviet Scud missile. Its two guided missiles have a range of up to 500km (300 miles) and can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says his country has supplied Ukraine with more than $1.6bn worth of weapons since the Russian invasion began.
Ukrainians “are fighting for us, for Europe, for freedom, for peace in Europe. And let everyone be aware of that”, he told reporters.
Polish media reports say the package includes 40 tanks and about 60 armoured cars.

Ukrainian forces have shot down two Russian cruise missiles that were flying in the direction of a port near the southern city of Odesa, according to officials.
In a Telegram post, the Odesa city council said the missiles were “launched from the Black Sea area by a Russian ship and were flying towards the port of Pivdennyi”.
Odesa map

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner has said Berlin must do everything in its power to help Ukraine win the war against Russia but without endangering its own security and NATO’s defence capability.
“We must do everything in our power to help Ukraine win, but the limit of the ethical responsibility is endangering our own security and endangering the defence capability of NATO territory,” Lindner said in a party conference speech in Berlin on Saturday.
“But what is possible … must be undertaken pragmatically and quickly, together with our European partners,” he said.
Lindner said he was in favour of supporting Ukraine with heavy weapons, but that Germany must not become a party to the war.

Dozens of people in the Canadian city of Toronto have held a candlelight vigil for Ukraine.
The gathering in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square took place on the Orthodox Holy Saturday.

Ukraine’s military says it destroyed a Russian command post in Kherson, a southern city that fell to Russian forces early in the war.
The Ukrainian military intelligence agency posted a statement saying the command post was hit on Friday and two generals were killed and one was critically wounded.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said in an online interview that 50 senior Russian officers were in the command centre when it came under attack. He said their fate was unknown.
The Russian military did not comment on the claim, which could not be confirmed.

The secretary-general of the UN will visit Turkey, an important mediator seeking an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine, before heading to Moscow and Kyiv, according to his office.
Guterres “will visit Ankara, Turkey, where, on 25 April, he will be received by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan”, the statement said.

Ukraine’s president has said Kyiv will withdraw from negotiations if Russian troops kill Ukrainians holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol or conduct referendums for independence in other occupied territories.
“If our men in Mariupol are killed, and if these pseudo-referendums are organised in the south, then Ukraine will withdraw from all negotiations,” Zelenskyy said during a news briefing.
“I believe that this will not facilitate diplomatic settlement of the situation. This will definitely hinder the end of the war. This will be definitely a wrong step taken by Russia.”

Ukraine’s president has urged countries in Asia to change their treatment of Kyiv, noting that the Russian invasion of his country has affected its ability to export grain to the rest of the world.
“We managed to change, with our unity and strength, the treatment of Ukraine by many European countries. I would very much like countries in Asia to change their treatment of Ukraine, too,” Zelenskyy told reporters.
“Do I sense that they have? No. Have they changed it? I think their people have, for sure. The people of these states know us well. And I feel that the leaders of these countries are getting there.”
Zelenskyy added that the Russian invasion has prevented Ukraine from exporting some 90 million tonnes of grain, noting this could result in rising prices and shortages in some places.
“This can mean starvation,” he said. “This is what Russia has done. We are seeing now that it is not just a war in Europe, it is a war on other continents because of these steps of disrespect towards all life and towards international law.”

Ukraine is under a countrywide curfew for the night of the Orthodox Easter.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said in a video address that in the regions most affected by the invasion – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson – the curfew will run from 7pm on Saturday until 5am on Sunday.
In other regions, including Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and Lviv, the curfew will run from 11pm on Saturday until 5am on Sunday.

Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has rejected criticism of his work as a lobbyist for Russian energy companies since leaving office in 2005, telling The New York Times: “I don’t do mea culpa.”
In an interview with the newspaper, Schroeder called the war in Ukraine “a mistake” and said atrocities need to be investigated. But he said he did not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin himself ordered killings of civilians such as those allegedly committed by Russian troops in Bucha.
Schroeder, who met Putin in Moscow last month on a private mission to broker peace with Ukraine, claimed the Russian president “is interested in ending the war”.
“But that’s not so easy. There are a few points that need to be clarified,” The New York Times quoted him saying, without elaborating.

Poland and Ukraine have signed an agreement increasing cooperation in the railway transport sector, aiming to help Kyiv maintain its trade exchange with foreign countries as the Russian invasion affects its ports.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Poland’s premier Mateusz Morawiecki met on Saturday in Krakow, Poland.
Shymhal said the agreement signed with Poland provides for the creation of a joint logistics company by the two countries, which will “dramatically increase the rail transportation of Ukrainian exports” to the European Union and “world markets through Europe”.
Poland supports 🇺🇦 in a time of war and will do so in a time of reconstruction as well. At a meeting with @Denys_Shmyhal we signed an agreement thanks to which🇵🇱will help facilitate trade between🇺🇦and the rest of the world.Polish companies will help with the reconstruction effort
— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) April 23, 2022

Ukraine has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency for “a comprehensive list of equipment” it needs to operate nuclear power plants during the war with Russia, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said.
This includes radiation measurement devices, protective material, computer-related assistance, power supply systems and diesel generators, he said in a statement.
“We will coordinate the implementation of the assistance that the IAEA and its member states will provide, including by delivering required equipment directly to Ukraine’s nuclear sites,” he said.
Ukraine has 15 operational reactors at four plants of which seven are currently connected to the grid, including two at the Zaporizhzhia facility which is currently controlled by Russia.

Putin has attended an Easter mass conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly backed the Kremlin leader’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Putin, dressed in a dark blue suit, a white shirt and a dark purple tie, stood to one side in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, holding a lit red candle, live images of the midnight service showed.
The Russian leader crossed himself several times during the ceremony. When Patriarch Kirill announced “Christ has risen”, Putin joined the other members of the congregation with the reply “Truly he is risen”. He otherwise did not speak.
At an outdoor service in Moscow on Saturday, Kirill said he hoped the conflict in Ukraine would end quickly but did not condemn it. His statements backing Russia’s intervention, which has been condemned by Kyiv and Western nations as an act of aggression, have splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate and General Staff have accused Russia of planning to conscript Ukrainian civilians from the Russian occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, according to the British Ministry of Defence.
“This would follow similar prior conscription practices in the Russian-occupied Donbas and Crimea,” the ministry said on Twitter.
“Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states “the occupying power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces”, and “no pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted’”, it added.
The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate and General Staff have accused Russia of planning to conscript Ukrainian civilians from the Russian occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 23, 2022

Six civilians died in Russian shelling in the village of Girske in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, its governor has said.
“The village of Girske suffered heavy Russian shelling the entire day,” Sergiy Gayday said on Telegram. “Six inhabitants of the village died.”

Ukraine’s president has said Russian missile attacks killed eight people in the city of Odesa, including a three-month-old child.
He fought back tears at one point during the press conference in a Kyiv metro station, saying that he shared the pain of every Ukrainian who had lost children in Russia’s war.
A Ukraine official had earlier reported that five people were killed after Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at Odesa.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says it is trying to secure the release of a number of Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) staff members detained in eastern Ukraine.
“The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of SMM national mission members have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Luhansk. The OSCE is using all available channels to facilitate the release of its staff,” its media office said, giving no more details.
In an address to the 157-member body on Friday, the UK’s deputy ambassador to the Vienna-based OSCE, Deirdre Brown, criticised Russia for refusing to extend the SMM’s mission in Ukraine beyond March, and said the UK had “received alarming reports that Russia’s proxies in Donbas are threatening mission staff, equipment and premises and that Russian forces have taken SMM staff members captive”.

Ukraine’s president says he hopes to secure heavy weapons at talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in Kyiv on Sunday, supplies that he said were vital for Ukraine to eventually retake Russian-occupied territory.
“As soon as we have [more weapons], as soon as there are enough of them, believe me, we will immediately retake this or that territory, which is temporarily occupied,” he told reporters.

Ukraine’s president has criticised a decision by UN chief Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday before heading to Kyiv on Thursday.
“It is simply wrong to go first to Russia and then to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told reporters in the Ukraine capital. “There is no justice and no logic in this order,” he added.
“The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies in the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go first to Ukraine, to see the people there, the consequences of the occupation,” he said.
Zelenskyy also called for a meeting with Russian leader Putin in an effort to “put an end to the war”.
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