- Mariupol mayor says over 10,000 civilians killed
- The EU's team in Ukraine will help ICC prosecutors investigate and document war crimes
- Austrian chancellor 'rather pesisimistic' after 'tough' talks with Putin
- EU foreign ministers discuss further sanctions in Luxembourg
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Europol to clamp down on 'criminal assets' in wake of Ukraine invasion
EU's joint police agency Europol has launched a new operation "targeting criminal assets owned by individuals and legal entities sanctioned in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine."
The agency said the umbrella operation, dubbed "Oscar", would see Europol agents centralize and analyze information on several different investigations. The statement did not provide specifics beyond saying Oscar would continue for at least a year.
Many Russian oligarch and politicians close to the Kremlin have been targeted by Western sanctions since the Russian invasion started on February 24.
Mariupol mayor says over 10,000 civilians killed in siege
Bodies are "carpeted throughout the streets" in Mariupol, the port city's mayor Vadym Boychenko told the AP news agency.
Speaking to AP via telephone, Boychenko said Russian soldiers have brought in mobile crematoriums to dispose of the bodies.
He also said that at least 10,000 civilians have lost their lives and that the death toll might reach 20,000 in the flashpoint city following a prolonged siege by Russian forces. Earlier on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of "tens of thousands" of deaths in Mariupol.
The numbers could not be independently verified.
Separately, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin said pro-Russian forces are now controlling the city's port.
Russia accuses Warsaw of seizing diplomatic property after 'spy nest' takeover
Polish authorities took over a complex of buildings known as the "spy nest" in Warsaw on Monday, prompting protests from the Russian ambassador.
The complex had been built during the Cold War and was administrated by the Soviet embassy. The buildings have been empty since the 1990s, but Russian officials have been refusing court orders to pay their lease or hand the property over.
Now, Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said the building would be used by Ukrainian refugees.
"It is very symbolic that we are closing this procedure of many years now, at the time of Russia's aggression" on Ukraine, he said on Twitter.
In turn, Russian ambassador Sergey Andreev said the move amounted to a seizure of diplomatic property.
"Polish representatives cut off the locks to the gate and...have essentially occupied the facility," he was quoted as saying by the Russian RIA agency.
Austria's Nehammer 'pessimistic' about the conflict in Ukraine
After meeting Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said the Russian president was operating on the logic of war.
"If you're asking me whether I am optimistic or pessimistic, I'm rather pessimistic," he told reporters. "Peace talks are always very time-intensive while military logic says: 'Don't spend too much time and go directly into battle'," he added.
Nehammer repeated the claims that the Russian army is preparing a large offensive in eastern Ukraine.
"This battle will be fought with vehemence," he said.
France to expel six Russian 'agents'
Authorities in France conducted a "very long investigation" resulting in the decision to declare six Russian nationals personae non-gratae in the EU country.
According to the French Foreign Ministry, the probe uncovered a "clandestine operation carried out by the Russian intelligence services on our territory." The statement did not provide details on the alleged operation.
"Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover and whose activities proved contrary to our national interests have been declared persona non grata," the ministry said.
Russian parliamentary speaker says dissenters should lose their citizenship
Putin ally Vyacheslav Volodin, who serves as the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, berated people who oppose Russia's action in Ukraine.
While most people in Russia support the military operation and understand "its necessity for the country's and the people's security," there are also those who act "nefariously, treasonously," Volodin said in an online post.
He used the example of Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who accepted a job in Germany's Die Welt newspaper after protesting the war live on air.
Volodin said Ovsyannikova and people like her of pretending to act out of conviction but in reality acting on instructions abroad in hopes of getting privileges.
"Think what would happen if something like that would happen in the US?" he asked his followers on Telegram. "Unfortunately, for those 'Russian nationals' there is no procedure to strip them of their citizenship and ban them entry into our country. But I think this would be a right thing to do," he wrote.
Pro-Russian rebels detain Luhansk OSCE employee — report
Authorities in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic have detained an employee of their own monitoring mission within the OSCE, according to the Interfax news agency.
The person is suspected of high treason, according to a statement issued by the pro-Russian rebels.
He allegedly "gave to a foreign organization information to be used in their activity to undermine the security of the Luhansk People's Republic."
India's Modi condemns killings in Bucha
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden spoke over a video call on Monday.
The two leaders expressed concern over the destruction in Ukraine. Modi, who has held back his criticisms of Russia, spoke out against the massacre in Bucha.
"Recently, the news of the killings of innocent civilians in the city of Bucha was very worrying. We immediately condemned it and have asked for an independent probe", he said.
The Indian prime minister also told Biden that he had recommended to Putin that he hold direct talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Washington has been critical of New Delhi's "shaky" response to the Russian invasion and has warned against an increase in imports of Russian oil and gas.
Russian reporter hired in Germany after anti-war stunt
Journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who drew international attention by protesting the war live on air of a Russian TV broadcaster, has now taken a job working for Germany's Die Welt newspaper.
Ovsyannikova had previously worked for Russia's state television. In March, she disrupted the broadcaster's flagship news bulletin by walking into the frame behind the anchor and holding up a poster that read "No war. Stop the war. Do not believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here."
She was briefly detained after her protest and ordered to pay a fine, and could yet face years in prison under Russia's new strict media laws.
Ovsyannikova will be reporting for Die Welt from Russia and Ukraine, according to the German daily. The reporter previously said she had refused an asylum offer from the French President Emmanuel Macron, preferring to stay in her home country.
Ulf Poschardt, Die Welt's editor-in-chief, said that "courageous, incorruptible journalism is a threat to every autocrat and dictator," and that Ovsyannikova's freelance position with the paper would grant her more visibility and help her security in Russia.
Ovsyannikova has already published her first opinion piece for Die Welt, titled "Russians are afraid."
EU's Josep Borrell says the bloc will help document war crimes
Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said that he had met with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court earlier on Monday to discuss how to keep "Russia accountable for gross violations of international law." The EU will be providing financial assistance and also coordinate with the EU Advisory Mission, which was in Ukraine before the war, to help with the investigation and evidence gathering on the ground.
In the comments made after the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Borrell also accused Russian forces of "causing scarcity" by bombing Ukraine, a country known for its massive agricultural sector.
"They are bombing Ukrainian cities and provoking hunger in the world," he said after a meeting on further steps against Russia.
The war in Ukraine has prompted concerns of a wide-reaching food crisis. Many fear that a failed harvest in Ukraine would be especially tough on Africa, where the European country serves a major supplier of wheat and sunflower oil.
According to Borrell, the EU would continue discussions on sanctioning Russia's oil and gas exports, although "no decision has been made today" on those issues.
German company is ready to supply used tanks to Ukraine
German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall is ready to prepare up to 50 used battle tanks Leopard 1 for possible delivery to Ukraine.
"The first Leopard 1 could be delivered in six weeks," Armin Papperger, head of the Rheinmetall, told the Handelsblatt newspaper. However, the company still needs a green light from the German government.
According to Handelsblatt, politicians from Germany's coalition government, made up of Social Democrats, the Greens and Free Democrats, are open to a possible delivery of the Leopard 1 tanks.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany has reversed a long-standing policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones and supplied Kyiv with anti-tank weapons and missiles.
However, in an interview with Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, published on Saturday 9, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has said that she sees hardly any possibilities left to supply Ukraine with weapons and equipment directly from the German military stockpiles.
Leopard 1 tanks are already quite old. The Bundeswehr has long been using the successor model, the Leopard 2, the first version of which was introduced as far back as 1979.
Austrian chancellor says talks with Putin were 'direct, open, and tough'
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said his hour-long talk with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow was "not a friendly meeting."
Nehammer described the conversation as "very direct, open, and tough." in a statement issued by his own aides.
The Austrian chancellor is the first EU leader to visit Moscow since Russia launched the invasion on February 24th. He has visited Kyiv earlier this week.
Although Nehammer's visit to Moscow has raised eyebrows in the West, the conservative chancellor said he felt a duty to leave no stone unturned in his efforts to end the confllct or at least alleviate the suffering of civilians.
During his talk with Putin, Nehammer raised the issues of war crimes reported in Bucha and other parts of Ukraine, saying that all those responsible must be brought to justice.
The Austrian leader also urged an end to the war, saying that "in a war there are only losers on both sides."
Zelenskyy: If Ukraine was willing to give up territory 'there would be no war'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he would "definitely" not recognize Crimea as Russian territory in the peace talks with Moscow.
"Had we been willing to give up our territory, there would have been no war," Zelenskyy told US broadcaster CBS in a "60 Minutes" interview.
At the same time, the Ukrainian leader seemed to hint that events might unfold contrary to this principle.
"So, we need to stand firm for as long as we can," he said, according to the translation provided by CBS. "But this is life. Different things happen."
EU foreign ministers discuss more sanctions against Russia
Top diplomats from all 27 EU countries were meeting in Luxembourg to consider a new wave of sanctions directed against Russia. While the bloc is striving to present a united front, some reports have indicated a growing rift between the member states on further measures against Moscow.
While some countries, like Ireland, were pushing for sanctioning Russia's massive energy imports, others were finding this approach "very difficult," said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.
"In our view, we need to cut off that financing of war, even though it creates huge challenges and problems," Coveney said.
The EU representatives were also discussing a proposal by the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell to earmark another €500 million ($544 million) for the delivery of weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also called for weapons' shipments in Luxembourg, saying that Ukraine needs "above all heavy weaponry" to counter Russia's attack.
Croatia expels 24 Russian diplomats and embassy staff
Croatia has become the latest EU member to expel Russian diplomats. Foreign Ministry of Croatia said that the Russian ambassador was summoned in a protest over the "brutal aggression on Ukraine and numerous crimes committed (there)". Eighteen Russian diplomats and six administrative staff have to leave Croatia.
Several EU countries have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats following the atrocities in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns. The Kremlin has slammed the expulsions as a "short-sighted move" and warned of retaliatory steps.
Prime Minister of Lithuania visited Borodyanka near Kyiv
Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonite started her visit to Ukraine in Borodyanka. This small town near Kyiv was almost completely destroyed during the Russian occupation.
"No words could possibly describe what I saw and felt here," Simonite wrote on Twitter.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who visited the town together with his Lithuanian counterpart, has called Borodyanka "one of the painful wounds on the body of Ukraine."
In his post on Facebook, Shmyhal vowed to bring to justice everyone who is guilty of the atrocities. "Lithuania, our European partners support us on the path to justice," he added.
Kyiv warns of upcoming Russian offensive in the east
Russia "has almost finished preparation for assault on the east, the attack will begin soon," Ukrainian defense ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyank said at a briefing.
"We cannot predict exactly when this will happen, these are sources from Western intelligence," he said. "The Ukrainian army is ready."
Ukrainian President Voldoymyr Zelenskyy has previously pleaded for more weapons and aid from Kyiv's allies abroad to resist the attack. Russian forces are believed to be regrouping for a new offensive in the eastern Donbass region, the home of the two so-called "people's republics" ruled by pro-Russian rebels.
Austria's Nehammer to meet Putin
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is set to travel to Moscow on Monday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nehammer will be the first EU leader to visit Russia's capital since the country launched it launched its invasion of Ukraine.
According to the AFP news agency, Austria's chancellor is expected to raise war crimes allegedly committed in areas around Ukrainian capital Kyiv while they were under Russian occupation.
Ukraine says 166 cultural sites destroyed or damaged
According to Ukraine's Culture Ministry Oleksandr Tkachenko, 166 cultural heritage sites have been destroyed or damaged during the Russian invasion.
"We don't know about some of the objects yet, because they are in the occupied territories. There is evidence, and we are verifying the data. It is obvious that we are talking about reparations and restoration [of the damaged sites] by the aggressor state." he said.
According to Tkachenko, his ministry was negotiating with Western partners to create a joint fund to restore Ukrainian cultural heritage.
Ukrainian marines in Mariupol say they're running out of ammunition
A social media post from Ukrainian marines reports a critical situation in the southern port of Mariupol, besieged by Russian forces since March 1.
"Today will probably be the last battle, as the ammunition is running out," the 36th marine brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces said on Facebook. The post was not an official position of the brigade, but a letter from one of the officers.
"It's death for some of us, and captivity for the rest," he added, saying that brigade had been "surrounded" by the Russian army, and a half of the marines were wounded.
The marine brigade is one of several Ukrainian units defending Mariupol.
NATO membership for Finland and Sweden won't bring stability — Kremlin
The Kremlin has said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO will not bring stability to Europe.
"We have repeatedly said that the alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation and its further expansion will not bring stability to the European continent," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
A senior US State Department official said last week that Finland and Sweden's NATO accession was discussed at a meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers in Brussels.
Both countries stayed neutral during the Cold War, then joining the EU as a political union in 1995 but not the NATO military alliance.
Russia says it destroyed Ukrainian missile defense system
Russia said that it has destroyed S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems which had been given to Ukraine by a European country.
Russia did not say which European country supplied Ukraine with the system.
Russia launched Kalibr cruise missiles on Sunday against four S-300 launchers, the defense ministry in Moscow said. According to the ministry, the system on the outskirts of the Ukrainian city of Dnipro was destroyed and 25 Ukrainian troops were hit in the attack.
Slovakia, which had donated a S-300 missile system to Ukraine, said that the one it supplied had not been destroyed.
French gendarmes arrive to investigate possible war crimes
A group of French technical and scientific gendarmes has arrived in Ukraine to investigate potential war crimes by Russian soldiers in Kyiv suburbs, the French ambassador to Ukraine Etienne de Poncins wrote on Twitter.
According to him, France is the first country to provide such assistance to Ukraine. The gendarmes will start their work on Tuesday.
Bucha and other small towns near Kyiv became the site of atrocities during the Russian occupation. After the retreat of Russian troops, Ukraine said hundreds of corpses were found in the streets and houses, as well as in mass graves.
Zelenskyy tells S. Korea Mariupol 'has been destroyed'
Addressing the parliament of South Korea, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the worst situation was currently in Mariupol. This port city in southern Ukraine has been besieged by Russian troops since March 1.
"Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive," Zelenskyy said in a video address. He said that Russia had destroyed hundreds of pieces of infrastructure all over Ukraine, including at least 300 hospitals.
The Ukrainian president also accused Russian soldiers of looting. "They tried to take home everything of any value. From washing machines to computers. From auto parts to clothes," Zelenskyy said. He cited cases of Russian soldiers removed protective plates from their bulletproof vests to hide stolen laptops and tablets.
According to Zelenskyy, Russia is now concentrating tens of thousands of soldiers for its next offensive, meaning Ukraine needs more help to survive this war.
"We need air defense systems, jets, tanks, artillery and ammunition. You have them," Zelenskyy told politicians in Seoul.
He also called on the world to impose even more sanctions on Russia to force the aggressor to stop the war.
Germany's Baerbock calls for weapons to Ukraine
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Greens has called for Ukrainian forces to be sent additional weapons in light of "horrific images" coming out of Bucha and other towns in the country.
"Now is not the time for excuses, but creativity and pragmatism," Baerbock said during a Monday meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
Baerbock stressed that Ukraine needs "above all heavy weaponry."
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht of the Social Democratic party (SPD) had earlier said it would be difficult to supply Ukraine with further weapons and materiel directly from Bundeswehr stocks without jeopardizing Germany's own defense capabilities.
Ukraine plans 9 humanitarian corridors
The Ukrainian government said it has set up nine humanitarian escape routes with the goal of evacuating civilians from cities in the eastern part of country.
Fighting is expected to intensify in the country's east following Moscow's announcement that Russian forces will focus their efforts on securing the region.
One route will allow private vehicles to travel from the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Vereshchuk added that there will be escape routes from the coastal city of Berdyansk and two other cities in the Zaporizhzhia region. Five corridors lead from contested areas in the eastern Luhansk region to the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Vereshchuk said that around 2,800 people had managed to flee contested areas on Sunday.
Ruble falls after Russia relaxes capital controls
The Russian ruble weakened sharply on Monday after the country's central bank decided to relax temporary capital control measures.
The ruble fell to 82.09 against the dollar at the market opening in Moscow.
The measures were aimed at limiting a drop in the currency. The central bank announced that it would discard the 12% commission imposed on foreign currency purchases through brokerages and lift a temporary ban on selling foreign exchange cash to individuals.
EU foreign ministers discuss additional aid to Ukraine
EU foreign ministers are meeting in Luxembourg to discuss ways to provide additional support to Ukraine.
Under discussion is a proposal by the European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrel to provide a further €500 million ($544 million) for the delivery of weapons and other military equipment.
Borrell, said that additional sanctions on Russia are an option when asked whether the bloc would consider a Russian oil embargo.
"Sanctions are always on the table," Borrell said.
"Ministers will discuss which are the further steps," he said.
Borrell also said that the war in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region is expected to intensify over the coming days.
French bank Societe Generale ceases activities in Russia
French banking group Societe Generael has announced it is ceasing its activities in Russia.
Societe Generale is also selling its stake in Russia's Rosbank and the group's Russian insurance subsidiaries to Interros Capital, the bank said in a statement on its website.
The bank estimates its withdrawal from Russia could cost 3.1 billion euros ($3.4 billion).
New Zealand to deploy Hercules plane to Europe
New Zealand has said that it will deploy a C-130 Hercules plane and 58 personnel to Europe.
The team will travel through Europe transporting equipment and supplies to distribution centers, Defense Minister Peeni Henare said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand's support will help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion.
"Such a blatant attack on a country's sovereignty is a threat to all of us and that's why we too have a role to play," Ardern said.
EU foreign ministers to discuss aid, sanctions in Luxembourg
EU foreign ministers will convene in Luxembourg Monday to discuss the allocation of €500 million ($544 million) to fund arms purchases for Ukraine.
They will also discuss a sixth round of sanctions on Russia and the option of banning the import of Russian oil. Member states previously agreed to banning Russian coal imports.
Local media: Air raid sirens activated across country
Air raid sirens were activated across Ukraine early on Monday, including in Lviv and Kyiv regions, The Kyiv Independent reported.
Think tank: Russia forces gain in Mariupol, fail to advance in Donbas
The Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that Russian forces made territorial gains in Mariupol over the past day.
At the same time, the US think tank said that Russian forces have failed to advance in the eastern Donbas region.
The ISW reported that Russia's Defense Ministry is apparently offering cash bonuses to withdrawn troops to entice them to reenter combat.
The ISW also claimed that Russia is "now conscripting previously ineligible categories of people, including those with childhood disabilities and workers in protected industries."
Zelenskyy says coming week is crucial
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Sunday that the coming week is crucial, as Russia ramps up its offensive in the east.
"Russian troops will move to even larger operations in the east of our state," the Ukrainian leader said.
He said Russia is attempting to evade responsibility for war crimes and added that Moscow can't admit its mistakes towards Ukraine.
"They are afraid to admit for decades, they have taken wrong positions and spent colossal resources to support human zeros they wanted to build up as future heroes of Ukrainian-Russian friendship," Zelenskyy said.
He said Russian attempts to build up its puppet figures in Ukraine failed, as these individuals "were only practiced in stuffing money from Russia into their own pockets."
World Bank: Ukraine economy to plunge by nearly half
Ukraine's economic output will likely contract by a staggering 45.1% this year, the World Bank said in a new report.
It said Russia's invasion has shut down businesses, slashed exports and rendered economic activity impossible in many parts of the country.
In its "War in the Region" update, the bank estimated that over half of the country's firms are closed, while others are operating at well under normal capacity.
The closure of Black Sea shipping from Ukraine has cut off some 90% of the country's grain exports and half of its total exports.
The bank also forecast Russia's 2022 GDP output to fall 11.2% due to punishing financial sanctions imposed by the West.
Economists said GDP in the Eastern Europe region, comprising Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, is forecast to contract by 30.7% this year, due to shocks from the war and disruption of trade.
Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Sunday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
"We emphasized that all perpetrators of war crimes must be identified and punished," Zelenskyy said of the conversation. "We also discussed anti-Russian sanctions, defense and support for Ukraine."
In Germany, several hundred pro-war demonstrators gathered in support of Russia in front of Frankfurt's opera house.
The UN said there are now 4.5 million Ukrainian refugees due to Russia's invasion.
Pope Francis called for an Easter truce in Ukraine during his Palm Sunday address.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that Russia appointed a new commander to lead its war in Ukraine, General Alexander Dvornikov.
Ukrainian officials said Russian rockets destroyed Dnipro airport.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his brother Wladimir warned that Russian forces could target the capital again. The brothers called on the world to isolate Russia economically.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Monday will be the first European leader to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the invasion began.
mm, wd/kb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)