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LIVE — Russia seeks 'full control' of southern Ukraine

April 22, 2022

The Russian military has said it wants "another way" to access Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region. Meanwhile, the UN chief is set to travel to Moscow next week to meet Vladimir Putin. Follow DW for the latest.

n armoured convoy of pro-Russian troops moves along a road during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol
Russia's army says it is planning to take southern Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas regionImage: Chingis Kondarov/REUTERS
  • Russia says it seeks 'full control' of Donbas, southern Ukraine 
  • Ukraine calls Russia's military plan for south 'imperialism' 
  • Ukraine says Russia rejected Orthodox Easter truce this weekend 
  • UN chief to meet Putin in Moscow next week
  • The UN has documented 50 civilians being killed in Bucha
  • Russia says it wants route to Moldova's Trans-Dniester region

This live updates article is now closed. For our latest from April 23, click here.

Ukraine's needs discussed in Shmyhal - Blinken meeting

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington.

According to a statement, Blinken "expressed the United States' steadfast support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and reinforced our determination to help Ukraine successfully defend itself against Russia’s brutal and unjustified war of aggression."

Following talks, Blinken tweeted: "Excellent meeting with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to discuss what Ukraine needs most to defend itself and rebuild. Ukraine's courage in defense of freedom and democracy inspires all of us." 

On Thursday the Ukrainian prime minister met with US President Joe Biden, who conveyed continued US commitment to the people of Ukraine.

Canada announces delivery of heavy artillery and other military aid

Canada's defense ministry on Friday said it had sent heavy artillery to Ukraine's forces.

"Canada has now delivered a number of M777 howitzers and associated ammunition to the Security Forces of Ukraine, in conjunction with our American allies."

The statement went on to say that a "significant number" of anti-armor ammunition had also been provided.

An unspecified amount of armored vehicles would also be sent soon. The statement also made mention of a service contract to maintain and repair specialized drone cameras that Canada has supplied to Ukraine.

'We are looking at sending tanks to Poland'

Moscow says 1 dead, several missing after Moskva sinking

Russia says one crew member died and 27 more are unaccounted for after the Moskva warship sank last week.

The casualty figures from the Defense Ministry are Moscow's first admission of the losses following the sinking.

"As a result of a fire on April 13, the Moskva missile cruiser was seriously damaged due to the detonation of ammunition," the ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

"One serviceman was killed, another 27 crew members went missing," it said, adding that "the remaining 396 members" were rescued.  

The flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet sank after an explosion and fire that Ukraine said was caused by a successful missile strike. Russia said the sinking was the result of exploding munitions.

How significant is the loss of the 'Moskva?'

Pentagon expects over 20 nations to attend Ukraine talks in Germany

The US military expects more than 20 countries to attend Ukraine-focused defense talks with allies at Ramstein Air Base in Germany next week.

The Ukraine Defense Consultative Group is due to meet on April 26 and will include non-NATO countries.

They'll focus on Ukraine's long-term defense needs, although the latest developments in the war will also be discussed.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, however, played down expectations of any big announcements. "We're not going into this with a pre-cooked set of endings here," he said.

Several Western countries have provided Ukraine with military aid and weapons.

Spain reopens diplomatic mission in Kyiv

Spain has reopened its embassy in the Ukrainian capital, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said on Friday.
It is one of the first embassies to reopen since the war began.

Spain's diplomatic staff moved to Poland a day after Russia invaded Ukraine, but they are now back in Kyiv.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.

Sanchez announced a new shipment of 200 tons of military equipment, including 30 trucks, several special heavy transport vehicles, and 10 small vehicles loaded with military materiel to Ukraine.

He also said his country would make experts available to the International Criminal Court to help investigate alleged war crimes.

Russian Politics expert speaks to DW

UN nuclear watchdog chief to visit Chernobyl

The International Atomic Energy Agency says its director general will visit the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant next week.

Rafael Mariano Grossi is expected to arrive at the site on April 26, the anniversary of the disaster there in 1986.

The IAEA said in a statement that he would lead a team that would deliver "vital equipment" and conduct radiological and other assessments at the site. They will also repair remote monitoring systems that stopped sending data back to the agency's headquarters.

Chernobyl was captured by Russian forces soon after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. They withdrew from the plant at the end of March.

Grossi said the Chernobyl visit "will be followed by more IAEA missions to this and other nuclear facilities in Ukraine in the coming weeks.''

Russian forces in Chernobyl

UN chief to meet Putin in Moscow next week

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.

Guterres hopes to speak to Putin about steps to end the war in Ukraine, his associate spokesperson Eri Kaneko said.

Guterres is also expected to have a working meeting and lunch with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The UN chief made the request for a meeting with Putin to discuss the war in Ukraine some time ago.

His office said they are also talking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about a possible visit.

Ukraine's crops no longer on the table

Dutch government plans to stop Russian energy imports by end 2022

The Netherlands plans to stop importing natural gas and oil from Russia by the end of the year, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

"It really is a challenge. We are very dependent on Russian gas in Europe and there are not many alternatives to LNG," Rutte said.

The government will subsidize energy companies to fill its Bergermeer gas storage facility to 70% capacity by the end of the year.

It would also focus on energy-saving measures to reduce its demand for gas.

"We can achieve this by working hard on a mix of energy savings and sustainability, but it will also have to lead to the import of energy from other countries, including liquid natural gas," the Dutch leader said.

Rutte said his government would be negotiating supply agreements with other countries as soon as possible and that it planned to import significantly more liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the future.

Lavrov claims Russia-Ukraine talks have stalled

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said talks between Moscow and Kyiv have stalled, appearing to contradict his own negotiator.

"They (negotiations) have stalled now," he said after talks with his Kazakh counterpart in Moscow.

Vladimir Medinsky, who is Russia's chief negotiator with Ukraine, however, said he had spoken to his Ukrainian counterpart on Friday.

He said "several long conversations" took place without giving more details.

Earlier this week, the Kremlin said Russia had submitted a new written proposal, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had neither seen nor heard about it.

Lavrov said he was under the impression Kyiv may not want to continue the talks.

"It is very strange for me to hear every day statements by various Ukrainian representatives, including the president and his advisers, that make one think that they do not need these negotiations at all, that they have resigned themselves to their fate," Lavrov added.

Ukraine troops holding out in Azovstal plant

Germany 'not wobbling, but struggling to find its new values' amid Ukraine war

Florence Gaub, an analyst with the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS), spoke to DW about shifting security stances in Germany and Europe as well as growing criticism over Berlin's seemingly hesitant approach to arms deliveries.

Gaub said, "It's not so much that Germany doesn't have these weapons … it needs weapons itself," noting Berlin is also concerned about the potential long-term, escalating impact of large-scale arms deliveries

Gaub also spoke of Berlin coming to grips with a wholly changed political landscape in terms of its European leadership role, saying: "It's no secret that German strategic culture since 1945 has been a culture very much along the lines of dialogue, finding … building bridges, cooperation, trade (…) as long as the world was in line with these ideas, it was easy for Germany to be a leader. Now we are in a different world."

Germany "is not wobbling, but it's struggling to find its new values, its new core" in this new situation, she added.

The analyst also referred to the overall European response to Russia's attack on neighboring Ukraine, saying: "It's spectacular, to be honest. I mean, before Ukraine, Europe was very much in line with Germany's strategic culture, a continent, an organization actually, not just a continent, that was very much focusing on peaceful resolution of conflict, very non-military in nature … I think the big surprise here is not just the war itself, or the performance of the Ukrainians, but it's also how Europe managed to change its strategic direction basically overnight."

Is Germany ready to go all in on Ukraine?

France sending heavy weapons to Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron says his country is sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, including a self-propelled howitzer and an anti-tank guided missile weapon system.

"After all, we are supplying considerable equipment, from the Milan to the Caesar to various types of weapons," Macron said, referring to the Milan anti-tank system and the Caesar howitzer.

Macron told a regional newspaper 40 Ukrainian soldiers would be trained in France to operate the howitzers.

Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have repeatedly asked European and NATO powers to provide heavier weapons, especially artillery.

Why is Germany not sending heavy weapons to Ukraine? DW's Simon Young

Johnson says war could drag out until the end of 2023

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there was a "realistic possibility" the war in Ukraine could drag on until the end of next year.

He also, for the first time, admitted there was a possibility Russia could win the war, "The situation is, I'm afraid, unpredictable at this stage, but we've just got to be realistic about that," he said.

But he paid tribute to the Ukrainian resistance and said Russia's Vladimir Putin had made a "catastrophic blunder" in ordering the invasion.

Johnson also said the UK was looking at sending tanks to support Poland so that Warsaw could send its own to Ukrainian forces fighting against Russia.

The UK plans to reopen its embassy in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, next week.

EU urges Putin to engage with Zelenskyy

European Council President Charles Michel spoke with Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Friday, urging the Russian president to engage directly with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

During the call, Michel stressed in "no uncertain terms" the unacceptability of Russia's war and detailed the sanctions the European Union is imposing, an EU official said.

Shortly after speaking with Putin, Michel tweeted: "Firmly reiterated the EU's position: support for Ukraine and her sovereignty, condemnation and sanctions for Russia's aggression. Our unity, principles and values are inviolable."

Scholz rejects 'slanderous' accusations that SPD too lenient on Russia

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday hit back at suggestions his center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have been too lenient towards Russia.

Opponents have confronted the SPD with a "distorted and slanderous depiction" of its Moscow policy ever since World War II, Scholz told Der Spiegel. "That annoys me," he said in an interview with the magazine, adding that his party was "bound into the Western and transatlantic alliance."

Scholz also said that the Bundeswehr's ability to deliver weapons from its own supplies "was largely exhausted."

The opposition in Germany, as well as the leadership in Kyiv and NATO allies such as Poland, have accused Berlin of not doing enough to help Ukraine.

Ralf Stegner on Germany's military aid

Ukraine calls Russian Donbas military plans 'imperialism'

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has denounced Russian plans to take full control of the Donbas region and southern Ukraine as "imperialism."

"They stopped hiding it," the ministry said on Twitter. It said Russia had "acknowledged that the goal of the 'second phase' of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine."

Earlier on Friday, Russia's Central Military District said it planned to seize Ukraine's south as part of the "second phase" of its military operation.

Over 369,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Germany

At least 369,000 people fleeing the war have registered in Germany since Russia invaded on February 24, Germany's Interior Ministry said on Friday.

The precise number to register is 369,381, a spokesperson for the ministry confirmed, adding that the actual number is probably much higher.

UN says humanitarian law 'tossed aside,' documents 50 civilians killed in Bucha

The United Nations said Friday that 50 civilians had been killed in Bucha, some of whom by summary execution.

A UN mission to the Kyiv suburb documented the killings.

"During a mission to Bucha on the ninth of April, UN human rights officers documented the unlawful killing including by summary execution of some 50 civilians there," said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for Michelle Bachelet, UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Bachelet, meanwhile, said on Friday that since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 "international humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside."

The UN says, in total, it has received more than 300 allegations of civilians being killed in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, all under the control of Russian armed forces in late February and early March.

According to the Geneva Convention, the killing of persons "taking no active part in hostilities" constitutes a war crime.

UN official in Ukraine: 'Mariupol is an unfolding tragedy.'

Australia adds Putin daughters to sanctions lists

Australia has imposed sanctions and travel bans on two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also been targeted, the Australian government said in a statement on Friday.

The statement did not name the two relations of Putin but the president is known to have two adult daughters, Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova.

The fresh round of sanctions also targets 144 Russian senators.

Foreign Minister Marisa Payne added that Canberra will continue to increase the pressure on Moscow by targeting those who bear responsibility for the "unjustified and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine."

Ukraine: Survival in the ruins

Russian military aims for 'full control' of southern Ukraine, route to Trans-Dniester

Moscow is planning to seize Ukraine's south and open a route to Moldova's Trans-Dniester region, as part of the "second phase" of its military operation, Russia's Central Military District (CFD) command said.

In a statement carried by TASS and Interfax, Rustam Minnekayev, acting commander of the CFD, said Russia plans to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine, allowing it access to Trans-Dniester.

"Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Trans-Dniester," Minnekayev said. He then claimed there was evidence of "oppression" of the Russian-speaking population there. 

Russia had previously used claims of oppression of Russian minorities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine as grounds for military action. 

A pro-Russian regime has de facto ruled the breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester since the 1990s, with support from Russian troops.

Kyiv has previously warned that Russia may use the region to launch attacks into western Ukraine, potentially surrounding Ukrainian forces in the south of the country, especially around the Odesa region.

Mariupol mayor pleads for evacuations but top official says routes too dangerous

The mayor of Mariupol has pleaded for the "full evacuation" of the southern city, but Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said there "will be no humanitarian corridors" in the country on Friday.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said "about 100,000 people remain" in the city, which President Vladimir Putin says is now controlled by Russian forces, a claim Ukraine denies.

However, Deputy PM Vereshchuk said it would be too dangerous for civilians to leave on Friday.

"Because of the insecurity along the routes, there will be no humanitarian corridors today, April 22," she wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia claims victory in Mariupol

UK: Russia wants to free up troops by not storming Mariupol steel plant

In an intelligence update on the Ukraine conflict, the UK suggested "Putin's decision to blockade the Azovstal steel plant likely indicates a desire to contain Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and free up Russian forces to be deployed elsewhere in eastern Ukraine."

Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said it was unnecessary to storm the industrial zone containing the plant.

"A full ground assault by Russia on the plant would likely incur significant Russian casualties, further decreasing their overall combat effectiveness," the UK Ministry of Defense posted on Twitter.

The statement also said that despite Russia's "renewed focus they are still suffering from losses sustained earlier in the conflict. In order to try and reconstitute their depleted forces, they have resorted to transiting inoperable equipment back to Russia for repair."

Heavy shelling is continuing in the Donbas region as Russia seeks to advance towards settlements, including Krasnyy Lyman, Buhayikva, Barvinkove, Lyman and Popasna, the ministry said in its regular bulletin.

Zelenskyy: Russia planning independence 'referendum' in Ukraine's south

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Moscow of planning to "falsify" a "referendum" in parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions that are under Russian control. The regions are located to the north of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Zelenskyy urged residents in these areas not to provide their passport numbers or other personal information to Russian forces.

"This is not to help you ... This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show," Zelenskyy said.

Moscow has either orchestrated or supported several similar votes in contested areas of Ukraine in recent years, holding a referendum in Crimea after occupying the territory in 2014 and later supporting independence votes held by pro-Russian separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk.

Luhansk and Donetsk later declared themselves independent "people's republics," a status soon supported by Russia. The two regions are officially recognized as Ukrainian territory by almost every country in the world, despite being under control of the separatists since 2014. 

"Any 'Kherson People's Republics' are not going to fly," Zelenskyy said, alluding to the entities established by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk.

"If someone wants a new annexation, it can only lead to new powerful sanctions on Russia."

Will the West ever deal with Putin again?

Ukraine's Zelenskyy: Mariupol 'continues to resist'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Mariupol "continues to resist" despite Moscow's claim to have captured it.

"In the south and east of our country, the occupiers continue to do everything to have a reason to talk about at least some victories," he said in a video address.

"They can only delay the inevitable — the time when the invaders will have to leave our territory, in particular Mariupol, a city that continues to resist Russia, despite everything the occupiers say."

UN refugee agency: Situation around the world worsening amid Ukraine war

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) said on Friday that the situation of refugees has further worsened due to the war in Ukraine.

"The conflict has further worsened the situation of many of the approximately 84 million displaced people on earth, as food has already become scarcer and significantly more expensive worldwide," the acting UNHCR office manager in Germany, Roland Bank, said in remarks published by Germany's Funke Media Group.

Bank added that millions of people had already lost their incomes due to the pandemic. Soaring food and fuel prices pose new challenges for humanitarian groups, Bank said.

An estimated 20,000 have died in Mariupol over the last few weeks: DW's Mathias Bölinger

Germany to provide €37 million to Ukraine

German Development Minister Svenja Shulze on Friday told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that Berlin would allocate funds for reconstruction in Ukraine.

"Ukraine urgently needs housing for millions of internally displaced people and it needs an intact power grid. This is where German development cooperation can help in the short term," Shulze told Augsburger Allgemeine. "My ministry has reallocated funds for this via an emergency program."

Germany will provide €37 million (€40.1 million) for reconstruction in Ukraine, the paper went on to say citing ministry sources.

Around €22.5 million would go to the reconstruction of Ukraine's power grid, while the remainder would go to the rebuilding of apartments as well as for the acquisition of medical equipment.

US public broadly supports military help for Ukraine: DW's Sumi Somaskanda

Zelenskyy: Russia turned down Easter truce offer

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia rejected a proposal for a cease-fire over the Orthodox Christian Easter period.

"This very well demonstrates how the leaders of this state actually treat the Christian faith, one of the most joyful and important holidays," Zelenskyy said. 

"But we keep the hope. Hope for peace, hope that life beats death," he added.

Zelenskyy's remarks came after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had appealed for a cease-fire during Easter.

Ukraine's Orthodox majority celebrate the holiday this weekend, with the Easter service starting late on Saturday into Sunday morning. Eastern Orthodoxy is also Russia's largest religious denomination.

Russia takes 42 villages in Donetsk region — Ukrainian presidential aid

Ukrainian presidential aid Olena Symonenko said that Russian forces had captured 42 villages in the eastern Donetsk region on Thursday, as Moscow continues to gain ground in Ukraine's east.

Symonenko said that Ukrainian forces could retake the villages on Friday.

The statements follows Russia's announcement that it had defeated the Ukrainian forces in Mariupol, also located in the Donetsk region, albeit without clearing out the last holdouts at a steelworks in the city.

Summary of Thursday's events in Russia-Ukraine crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which holds a significant strategic value to Russia, had been "liberated" after nearly two months of siege. 

But Ukrainian officials disputed Moscow's claim that Russia was in control of the city. 

Hundreds of fighters and civilians were believed to still be inside a huge steel plant in Mariupol, which Putin ordered his forces to blockade "so that not even a fly" could escape.

Meanwhile, Washington said it saw "no evidence" that Russia was in control of Mariupol, and announced another $800 million (around €738 million) in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery. 

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated calls for Western governments to send more heavy weapons to Ukraine in a plea to Portuguese lawmakers. 

In a separate address, Zelenskyy told a World Bank forum that Ukraine needs $7 billion a month to function amid the devastating "economic losses" caused by the Russian invasion. 

World Bank chief David Malpass estimated physical damage to Ukraine's buildings and infrastructure had reached roughly $60 billion, saying the figure would rise further as the war continues. 

You can revisit our April 21 live updates here.

US President Biden steps up military support for Ukraine

jsi,sdi,fb/wmr (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)