Ukraine latest: Russia says flagship of its Black Sea fleet seriously damaged

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its second month, with casualties mounting on both sides.

Ukraine’s forces continue to resist, while its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.

Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

— How Russia spread its fabricated pretexts for invading Ukraine

— Divisions exposed in vote to suspend Russia from U.N. rights council

— Russian export shutdown would cut 28% of GDP: Nikkei estimate

— Russian troops randomly shot civilians: Bucha resident

— Analysis: Xi risks stumbling with Putin if he plays his cards wrong

Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.

Here are the latest developments:

Friday, April 15 (Tokyo time)

3:33 a.m. France will move back its embassy in Ukraine to the capital Kyiv from the western city of Lviv “very soon”, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call. The embassy was moved to Lviv in early March as conditions worsened on the ground.

Thursday, April 14

11:50 p.m. President Vladimir Putin says Russian energy exports should be re-routed to Africa and Latin America amid a push to diversify supplies from the West.

New oil and gas pipelines could be constructed in the hydrocarbon fields in West and East Siberia, he added. 

5:48 p.m. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, says that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia will have to bolster its defenses in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons. “There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he says. Medvedev, one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, was the country’s president from 2008-2012.

3:50 p.m. Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Thursday to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol. Other evacuation routes are from Berdiansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar, and ones in the eastern Luhansk region will operate if occupying Russian forces stop their shelling, Vereshchuk added in a statement.

12:30 p.m. Russia says the flagship of its Black Sea fleet was seriously damaged and its crew evacuated following an explosion that a Ukrainian official said was the result of a missile strike. Russia’s defense ministry said a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser caused ammunition to blow up, Interfax news agency reported. It did not say what caused the fire but Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odesa, said the Moskva had been hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.

10:06 a.m. South Korea’s central bank raises its policy rate to the highest since August 2019 in an unexpected move, choosing not to wait for the formal appointment of a new governor before proceeding with its fight against surging inflation. Inflation in the country is expected to hold at decade-highs as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends commodity prices soaring.

7:44 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden announces an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, expanding the scope of the systems provided to include heavy artillery ahead of a wider Russian assault expected in eastern Ukraine. The package, which brings the total military aid since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5 billion, includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers and unmanned coastal defense boats.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, attends a joint news briefing with the presidents of Poland and the Baltic states on April 13.

5:12 a.m. The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Wednesday, calling for increased military support for Ukraine and for Russia to be held accountable for the actions of its troops on the ground. Before meeting Zelenskyy, the four presidents visited areas in the Kyiv region where hundreds of slain civilians have been discovered after the Russian withdrawal. Moscow has denied responsibility and dismissed allegations its troops committed war crimes there as fake news. “This is not war, this is terrorism,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda.

2:28 a.m. A “global cease-fire” in Ukraine does not seem possible at the moment, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells a news conference. But “lots of things” can be done to guarantee the evacuation of civilians from areas of fighting and to guarantee humanitarian access, Guterres adds.

1:10 a.m. Finland will decide whether to apply to join NATO in the next few weeks, not months, Prime Minister Sanna Marin says, underlining a shift in security perspectives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Wednesday, April 13

9:51 p.m. Experts sent by member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia in Ukraine, an initial report by the mission says, citing failures to take necessary precautions, act proportionately or spare sites like schools and hospitals.

Despite Russian denials, the report says a March 9 attack on Mariupol Maternity House and Children’s Hospital was carried out by Russia and that those responsible committed a war crime. It also says the attack on Mariupol’s Drama Theater on March 16 in which 300 people were killed was a war crime.

Russian troops load ammunition onto an armored vehicle during fighting in Mariupol on April 12.

  © Reuters

7:08 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says 1,026 soldiers of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, have surrendered in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Encircled by Russian troops for weeks, Mariupol has seen the fiercest fighting and the most comprehensive destruction since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. The main port on the Sea of Azov is the biggest target in the eastern Donbas region that Moscow now calls the focus of its campaign. If captured, Mariupol will be the first major city to fall since the war began. Its capture will help secure a land passage between separatist-held eastern areas and Crimea which Russia annexed and seized in 2014.

1:27 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin said peace talks with Ukraine had hit a dead end. Addressing the war in public for the first time since Russian forces retreated from northern Ukraine after they were halted at the gates of Kyiv, Putin promised that Russia would achieve all of its “noble” aims in Ukraine. “We have again returned to a dead-end situation for us,” Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, told a news briefing.

11:24 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden said for the first time that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, a significant escalation of the president’s rhetoric. Biden used the term in a speech at an ethanol plant in Iowa and later stood by the description as he prepared to board Air Force One.

“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian, and the evidence is mounting,” Biden told reporters.

4:55 a.m. The World Bank is preparing a $1.5 billion support package for war-torn Ukraine and plans to aid developing countries struggling to keep up with surging food and energy prices, World Bank President David Malpass said.

“The World Bank was created in 1944 to help Europe rebuild after World War II. As we did then, we will be ready to help Ukraine with reconstruction when the time comes,” Malpass said. He added that the package was enabled by Monday’s approval of $1 billion in International Development Association (IDA) aid by donor and recipient countries, along with a $100 million IDA payment to neighboring Moldova.

4:20 a.m. Ukraine says it has captured Viktor Medvedchuk — a Ukrainian, pro-Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin — in a special forces operation.

12:30 a.m. The mayor of Mariupol says about 21,000 civilian residents of the port city had been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion according to latest estimates.

In televised comments, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said it had been difficult to calculate the exact number of casualties since street fighting had started.

Tuesday, April 12

6:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine will undoubtedly achieve what he said were its “noble” objectives. Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that said Moscow had no other choice but to launch a military operation to protect Russia, and that a clash with Ukraine’s anti-Russian forces had been inevitable. “Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin said of Russia’s military campaign.

4:30 p.m. The Russian defense ministry says that its missiles have destroyed ammunition depots in Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi and Kyiv regions. The ministry said Russian forces had struck an ammunition depot and hangar at the Starokostiantyniv airbase in the Khmelnytskyi region, as well as an ammunition depot near Havrylivka north of the capital Kyiv.

An armored vehicle of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol, April 11. There have been unverified reports of the use of chemical agents in an attack on the city.

  © Reuters

4:00 p.m. All options would be on the table in response to any use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia, British armed forces minister James Heappey said. British Foreign Minister Liz Truss on Monday said the country was working with its partners to verify the details of reports Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on Mariupol. “There are some things that are beyond the pale, and the use of chemical weapons will get a response and all options are on the table for what that response could be,” Heappey told Sky News on Tuesday.

2:20 p.m. Fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia continues to refocus its efforts there, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense tweeted in a regular bulletin. Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk, with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push toward Kramatorsk, British military intelligence said. The report also said Russian forces continue to withdraw from Belarus in order to redeploy in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.

Graves of civilians killed during the Russian invasion lie in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on April 10.

  © Reuters

11:14 a.m. The mayor of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol told the Associated Press that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the Russian siege of his city and that the death toll could surpass 20,000, with weeks of attacks and privation leaving bodies “carpeted through the streets.” Mayor Vadym Boychenko also accused Russian forces of having blocked humanitarian convoys from entering the city for weeks in an attempt to conceal the carnage there from the outside world.

11:00 a.m. Japan’s Cabinet has approved additional sanctions against Russia, freezing assets of 398 Russian individuals, including President Vladimir Putin’s daughters and the wife of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

10:05 a.m. Japan’s wholesale inflation remained near record-high levels in March as the Ukraine crisis and a weak yen pushed up the costs of fuel and raw materials, government data shows. The corporate goods price index, which measures the prices that companies charge each other for goods and services, rose 9.5% in March from a year earlier. That followed a revised 9.7% spike in February, which was the fastest pace on record. The March index, at 112.0, was the highest level since December 1982.

An Idemitsu Kosan oil refinery in Ichihara, east of Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture. The Ukraine crisis and a weak yen have pushed up the costs of fuel and raw materials in Japan. (Kyodo via Reuters)

6:24 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video address late on Monday that Russia forces could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, but he did not say that chemical weapons have already been used. Unconfirmed reports earlier in the day had suggested that chemical weapons were used in the besieged southern port of Mariupol.

5:00 a.m. European Union officials discussing additional sanctions on Russia have failed to agree on a Russian oil embargo despite support from some countries.

Many of the ministers meeting in Luxembourg showed support for sanctions on Russian oil imports, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says. But for others, such a ban would constitute an “asymmetric shock,” he says. The bloc did agree to step up the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.

1:38 a.m. Axel Springer says it has hired the former Russian state TV worker who made international headlines last month by bursting onto her then-employer’s live newscast to protest the war.

Marina Ovsyannikova will report for the German company’s Welt brand as a freelance correspondent, including from Ukraine and Russia. She will write for the newspaper and regularly contribute to Welt news channel coverage, according to Axel Springer.

Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 rubles ($373 at current rates) in mid-March and could still face further prosecution in Russia.

1:30 a.m. “This is not a friendly visit,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer says in a statement issued by his office about talks just outside Moscow with Vladimir Putin.

This marked the first meeting with the Russian president by a European Union leader since the invasion of Ukraine started more than six weeks ago.

Nehammer has expressed solidarity with Ukraine and denounced apparent Russian war crimes. His government last week ordered the expulsion of a total of four Russian Embassy and Russian Consulate personnel over conduct that has “not been in accordance with their diplomatic status” — generally a euphemism for spying.

For earlier updates, click here.