Leaders of the world’s top industrialised nations will hold video talks with Ukraine’s president on Sunday – Copyright AFP/File JUAN BARRETO
Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
– US announces new weapons package –
US President Joe Biden announces a new $150 million weapons package to Ukraine, including artillery munitions and radar, while urging Congress to pass a $33 billion aid package including $20 billion in military aid.
The new batch brings the total value of US weaponry sent by the Biden administration to Ukraine — including heavy artillery, shoulder-held Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and drones — to $3.8 billion since Russia invaded on February 24, says Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
– Dozens of civilians evacuated from Azovstal plant –
Fifty more civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the city of Mariupol, says Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, even as the factory continues to be hit by ground and air attacks.
The operation, which Vereshchuk says will continue Saturday, was to coincide with a day-time ceasefire announced by Russia starting Thursday, but Ukraine’s army accused Moscow of continuing its assault on the plant.
Before the UN-led evacuation, about 200 civilians, including children, were estimated to still be trapped in the Soviet-era tunnels and bunkers beneath the factory, along with a group of Ukrainian soldiers making a last stand.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Mariupol has been “destroyed completely”.
What is left is “this little turf, this little structure, the Azovstal steel mill, or what remains of it”, he said during a video call to the Chatham House think-tank in London.
– UN Security Council adopts first declaration on war –
Marking its first declaration on Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion of its neighbour, the UN Security Council unanimously adopts a text backing Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to find a “peaceful solution” to the war.
The declaration stops short of supporting a mediation effort by Guterres, as was laid out in an earlier version of the text.
“The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine,” the text adopted Friday said.
The 15-member council includes Russia, which at the end of February vetoed a resolution condemning the invasion and asking Moscow to pull out its forces.
– Italy impounds yacht tied to Putin –
Italian authorities impound a $700 million mega yacht as speculation swirls it could belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Scheherazade”, which has been berthed for several months at a shipyard on Italy’s western coast, has been the subject of an ownership probe by the financial police.
The 140-metre yacht was impounded as it appeared to be preparing to set sail.
Italy’s investigation has helped establish “significant economic and business links” between the official owner and “eminent people in the Russian government”, as well as Russians on the West’s sanctions list, the economy ministry says.
– Eastern city surrounded –
Russian forces have almost encircled Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Ukraine, a local official says.
Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the Severodonetsk military administration, says on Ukrainian television that Kyiv’s army is so far “repelling these attacks” but the Russians were pressing on.
He says around 15,000 people remain in Severodonetsk, which had a population of 100,000 before the war.
– Pentagon denials –
The Pentagon denies media reports it helped Ukrainian forces sink the Russian warship Moskva in the Black Sea on April 13.
“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva,” spokesman John Kirby says in a statement.
The US Defense Department had also denied providing intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield.