A Russian serviceman patrols in the port of Mariupol amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine – Copyright AFP Brendan SMIALOWSKI
Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
– New EU sanctions, oil ban take shape –
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen says the bloc will impose a gradual Russian oil ban, as part of new sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.
“We will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year,” she tells the European Parliament.
In a document seen by AFP, von der Leyen’s proposal asks that Hungary and Slovakia, both hugely dependent on Russian oil, be given more time to meet the ban.
The EU executive also proposes sanctioning the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and excluding Russian bank Sberbank from the SWIFT network.
– Attack on Azovstal –
Russian forces launch a “powerful assault” on the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine’s army says. The Kremlin says its forces, along with pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatists, are using artillery and planes to target the site.
– A deadly day –
In one of a series of assaults in Ukraine’s east, 21 civilians are killed and another 28 wounded in the Donetsk region Tuesday, local authorities say.
Ten of the 21 dead are killed in the shelling of the Avdiivka coke plant, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, who says the daily death toll is the highest since a Russian strike on a train station in Kramatorsk about a month ago.
– Evacuees reach Zaporizhzhia –
Further evacuations from the long-besieged port city of Mariupol are expected Wednesday, a day after 156 people arrived in (the Ukrainian-held city of) Zaporizhzhia.
– Strikes in west –
A rocket strike knocks out power in part of Lviv, the western city near Poland that has turned into a haven for the displaced due to its comparative calm, mayor Andriy Sadovy says on Twitter.
Missiles also strike far to the country’s west in Transcarpathia, a region bordering Hungary that has largely been spared to date, says Victor Mykyta, head of the local military administration.
– Belarus launches surprise manoeuvres –
Belarus, a Moscow ally that shares a border with Ukraine, launches “surprise” military manoeuvres, to test the reactive capacity of its army, its defence ministry says.
Belarus military units were testing their capacity to “go on the alert, move to predetermined zones and undertake combat training,” it says.
– Russia accuses Israeli ‘mercenaries’ –
A spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry claims Israeli mercenaries are fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the far-right Azov Regiment in Ukraine.
Azov rose to prominence in 2014, when its far-right activists took up arms to fight pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, but have since fallen under the command of Ukraine’s military.
The comments by Maria Zakharova further fuel tensions with Israel after Russia suggested Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood”.
– EU to support Moldova –
European Council President Charles Michel pledges to increase EU military aid to Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbour that has seen a series of attacks in a pro-Moscow separatist region.
“This year we plan to significantly increase our support to Moldova by providing its armed forces with additional military equipment,” Michel tells a press conference with Moldova’s President Maia Sandu during a visit to the country.
– Russia to boycott UN meet –
In a rare move, Russia will boycott a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday with the EU’s Political and Security Committee (PSC), diplomats say, a further sign of deteriorating relations between Moscow and its United Nations partners.