Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Russian strikes in Kyiv injure 10 during UN chief’s visit

Russian strikes in kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, hit residential buildings on Thursday and injured 10 people, Ukrainian emergency services said.

A witness reported large explosions in the Shevchenkivsky district, northwest of kyiv, which blew out windows and blackened parts of buildings. It came as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov visited the city and Ukrainian residents began to return.

“Shocked and appalled by the Russian missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. Russia once again demonstrates its blatant disregard for international law by bombing a city as @UN general secretary @antonioguterres is present, alongside the Bulgarian Prime Minister @KirilPetkov“, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a tweet.

—Natasha Turak

Russia may be preparing to hold ‘fake referendums’ in Ukraine, says US ambassador

Russia may be preparing to hold “fake referendums” in southern and eastern Ukraine – in areas it has illegally seized since February 24 – to legitimize its illegal invasion and assert its control,” said the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. .

Russia is considering forcing the Ukrainian government to surrender, including dissolving all local municipal governments, while setting up new government structures in the “liberated” territories under Russian control, Ambassador Michael Carpenter said in a speech at the OSCE.

He added that Russian officials and so-called separatists are drawing up plans for a new government and a new constitution.

“This planning includes a moratorium barring legitimate Ukrainian leaders and those who support the legitimate government of Ukraine from any leadership position,” Carpenter said.

A Ukrainian soldier in front of a residential building destroyed by a Russian artillery strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russia is likely to step up ongoing deportations of Ukrainians, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has said.

Alex Chan Tsz Yuk/SOPA Images | Light flare | Getty Images

He added that the plans are “straight out of Russia’s playbook” of orchestrating “so-called referendums in the Ukrainian regions of Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk – each time with fake high percentages of public support” and to install puppet regimes there.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and the country has supported a separatist rebellion in Donbass – made up of the Ukrainian cities of Lugansk and Donetsk – since 2014.

Carpenter added that Russia is likely to step up ongoing deportations of Ukrainians.

“We should expect Russia to intensify its ongoing forcible transfers of local populations from southern and eastern regions of Ukraine to Russia or Russian-controlled parts of Donbass via so-called” filtration camps,” Carpenter said.

—Chelsea Ong

Ukraine plans operation to extricate civilians from blocked Mariupol steel plant

A view shows a factory of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 26, 2022.

Alexander Ermoshenko | Reuters

Ukraine says it has a plan to evacuate some 1,000 civilians who are holed up in the huge Azovstal steel complex in the besieged city of Mariupol.

“An operation is planned today to get the civilians out of the factory,” said the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, without further details.

The site became one of the last major strongholds of Ukrainian forces in an otherwise Russian-occupied city.

Mariupol, a strategic port city in southern Ukraine and just 30 miles from the Russian border, has seen some of the most brutal shelling in the entire Russian countryside and been cut off from electricity, food and most of the humanitarian aid since the beginning of March. Satellite imagery has revealed what Western and Ukrainian officials believe are mass graves just outside the city.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in recent days that it was opening a humanitarian corridor for civilians to leave the steelworks. But several previous attempts have failed, with kyiv blaming Russian forces for not holding their fire to allow safe passage. Moscow, meanwhile, blames Ukrainian forces for the failure.

—Natasha Turak

Battle of Donbass is Russia’s main objective, but Ukrainian resistance is limiting its gains, UK MoD says

The Battle of Donbass is Russia’s main objective, as it aims to gain control of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, the British Ministry of Defense wrote in its daily intelligence update on Friday.

So far, significant Ukrainian resistance is hampering Moscow’s progress, he added.

In the oblasts (or administrative districts) of Donetsk and Luhansk, “the fighting was particularly intense around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, with an attempt to advance south from Izium towards Sloviansk,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.

“Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains were limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces.”

—Natasha Turak

Ukrainian prosecutor identifies 10 Russian soldiers accused of Bucha atrocities

A gravedigger arranges flowers on a woman’s grave as her husband and son look on on April 20, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. Ukraine’s Attorney General Iryna Venediktova has identified 10 Russian soldiers she previously charged with atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s attorney general has identified 10 Russian soldiers she says were involved in atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.

Iryna Venediktova called on the public on Facebook to help gather evidence against these soldiers who she said were “involved in torturing peaceful people”. They were from Russia’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, whose work was recently honored by President Vladimir Putin, the AP said.

“During the occupation of Bucha, they took unarmed civilians hostage, killed them from hunger and thirst, held them on their knees with their hands tied and blindfolded, mocked them and beaten,” she reportedly said, adding that soldiers had threatened to fire on civilians and looted homes.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited Bucha, calling for an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

—Chelsea Ong

US Embassy in Kyiv says staff member killed during war in Ukraine

A woman walks past the closed United States Embassy to Ukraine on April 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

John Moore | Getty Images

The US Embassy in Kyiv says one of its employees was killed in the Kremlin war in Ukraine.

“Volodymyr, who took time off from his position as an embassy bodyguard to join the army and defend Ukraine,” the US mission in Kyiv wrote.

“We will never forget his caring spirit, dedication and bravery. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends,” the embassy wrote in a tweet.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers on Wednesday that the Biden administration was working to reopen the US embassy in Kyiv.

Amanda Macias

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