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LIVE – War in Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian troops have “started the battle for Donbass”

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Ukrainian soldiers besieged in Mariupol on Sunday seemed to have ignored Russia’s ultimatum, which asked them to lay down their arms and evacuate this strategic port in southeastern Ukraine. Follow all the latest information live.

10:30 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday announced the start of the Russian offensive against eastern Ukraine, part of which is in the hands of pro-Russian separatists and where deadly fighting has intensified. “We can now say that Russian troops have started the battle for Donbass, for which they have been preparing for a long time.

A very large part of the entire Russian army is now devoted to this offensive,” he said in a speech broadcast on Telegram. “No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves,” he said. Shortly before, the Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region, Serguiï Gaïdaï had also announced the start of the offensive by Russian troops against eastern Ukraine.

“It’s hell. The offensive has begun, the one we’ve been talking about for weeks,” he said on Facebook. “There is fighting in Roubizhne and Popasna, incessant fighting in other peaceful towns.” At least eight civilians were killed Monday by Russian fire and strikes, according to regional authorities. Four people died in Kreminna, a small town in the Lugansk region that fell to the Russians on Monday, Gaidai said on Telegram.

9:50 p.m.

The offensive of Russian troops against eastern Ukraine “has begun”, said Monday the Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region, Sergei Gaïdaï. “It’s hell. The offensive has begun, the one we’ve been talking about for weeks,” he said on Facebook.

“There is fighting in Rubizhne and Popasna, incessant fighting in other peaceful towns,” he said, shortly after announcing on Telegram the death of four civilians in Kreminna, a town taken by the Russians on Monday. .

9:06 p.m.

Russian bombardments on Kharkiv, a large city in northeastern Ukraine, killed at least three people on Monday, local authorities announced, the day after strikes that have already killed six. According to the regional prosecutor’s office, a shell that fell in the late morning on a children’s playground in a residential area caused the death of a man and a woman and damaged buildings. The director of an emergency medical aid center, Viktor Zabachta, for his part told the Interfax-Ukraine agency that a strike on a humanitarian aid distribution center on Monday left one dead and six injured. .

In the evening, regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov confirmed on Telegram the death of three people during these strikes. The number of injured is now 15, including a 14-year-old boy, he said. AFP journalists in Kharkiv heard a series of heavy explosions in the morning. Bombings on Sunday on this city had already killed six people and injured 24, according to the latest report provided by the governor’s office. Three other people died in shelling in the area. Ukraine’s second city with nearly 1.5 million pre-war inhabitants, Kharkiv was the target of heavy fighting for several days at the start of the offensive but always remained under the control of Ukrainian forces.

7:18 p.m.

Russia claims to have destroyed a major foreign arms depot near Lviv.

6:48 p.m.

The European Union on Monday condemned Russia’s indiscriminate and unlawful missile strikes and bombings against civilians in Ukraine and denounced war crimes.

“The EU condemns the continued indiscriminate and unlawful bombardment of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Russian armed forces… There can be no impunity for war crimes”, affirmed the head of the European diplomacy Josep Borrell in a statement published in Brussels after the strikes against the city of Lviv, in the west of the country.

6:00 p.m.

Washington and its allies want to increase economic pressure on Russia, according to the US Treasury.

5:06 p.m.

The Russian president on Monday awarded an honorary title for “heroism” to the 64th motorized rifle brigade, which Ukraine has accused of having participated in the abuses committed in Boutcha, near kyiv.

Vladimir Putin signed, according to the Kremlin, a decree granting the “honorary title of +Guard+” to this brigade because of the “heroism and tenacity, determination and courage” of its men.

3:40 p.m.

The Ukrainian Viktor Medvedchuk, a close friend of Vladimir Putin who asks in a video released Monday by Ukraine to be exchanged for the soldiers and civilians of the besieged city of Mariupol, is the man of the Russian president in this country where he has defended its interests for more than 20 years.

“I want to address Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with the request to exchange me by the Ukrainian side for the defenders of Mariupol and its inhabitants,” said Ukrainian MP and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk in this short video.

Arrested by the country’s special services while on the run since the Russian invasion, the 67-year-old Ukrainian MP and businessman is dressed in black and seated at a table in this undated video. In a photo of him published on the evening of April 12 by President Zelensky, this multi-millionaire, once one of the most influential men in the country, seems only a shadow of himself.

2:09 p.m.

More than 4.9 million Ukrainians fled their country 54 days after the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, according to figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UNHCR identified on Monday exactly 4,934,415 Ukrainian refugees, or 65,396 more than during the previous tally on Sunday.

1:42 p.m.

Gabriel Attal, government spokesperson and supporter of Emmanuel Macron, judged that “the atrocities” committed in Ukraine by the Russian army in Ukraine were “a point of detail” for Marine Le Pen, an allusion to provocative statements by his father about World War II.

12:57

Russian state television broadcast calls on Monday from two prisoners, identified as British nationals, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, captured in fighting in Ukraine, asking Prime Minister Boris Johnson to negotiate their release.

The two men, who appear with drawn features, are asking to be exchanged for Viktor Medvedchuk, a wealthy Ukrainian businessman close to Vladimir Putin arrested in Ukraine. They do not specify who is currently holding them, Russian forces or their separatist allies in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

12:38

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) released a video on Monday of Ukrainian MP and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, close to Vladimir Putin and recently arrested, asking to be exchanged for soldiers and civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol.

“I want to address Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with the request to exchange me by the Ukrainian side for the defenders of Mariupol and its inhabitants,” Medvedchuk said in this undated short video, where he is dressed in black and seated at a table.

12:24 p.m.

There are now at least 7 dead in Lviv, targeted by 5 missile strikes.

11:27

Spain will reopen its embassy in kyiv “in a few days” which it had closed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on Monday.

“In a few days we will reopen the Spanish embassy in kyiv, as further proof of the commitment of the Spanish government, of Spanish society, alongside the Ukrainian people,” Sanchez said in an interview with the Antenna 3 channel.

The Spanish ambassador and the diplomatic staff of the embassy had been evacuated from the Ukrainian capital to Poland the day after the start of the Russian offensive on February 24.

9:29

In Lviv, there are at least 6 dead and 8 injured after the 5 missile strikes that hit Lviv.

8:34

Five “powerful” Russian missile strikes hit Lviv, a large city in western Ukraine usually relatively spared from the fighting, Monday morning, announced its mayor and an adviser to the presidency.

A resident of southwest Lviv told AFP he saw thick plumes of gray smoke rising into the sky behind apartment buildings. The mayor of the city, Andriï Sadovy, indicated on Telegram that the helpers went on the spot.

7:23

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on Sunday of wanting to “destroy” the entire eastern region of Donbass, promising that everything would be done to defend it, starting with the strategic port of Mariupol where the surrounded soldiers are called upon to fight “until at the end”.

“Russian soldiers are preparing for an offensive in the east of our country in the near future. They literally want to complete and destroy the Donbass,” Zelensky said in a video message.

“Just as the Russian military is destroying Mariupol, they want to destroy other cities and other communities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, he continued, before launching: “we are doing everything to ensure the defense “.

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