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Russian troops have started "an attempt" to break through Ukrainian positions around Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, but the defenses are holding, according to Ukraine's top security official. DW has the latest.
These live updates are now closed.
The foreign minister of Moldova, Nicu Popescu, met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Popescu tweeted, "Moldova has US continuous support for democratic development & reforms, and in the security crisis."
Of the 4.9 million Ukrainian refugees that have fled following Russia's invasion, 423,852 have fled into Moldova, a non-EU member state considered among the poorest in Europe.
A visit by US President Joe Biden to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is not on the cards, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
"There's no plans for the president to go. Let me just reiterate that," Psaki told reporters at the White House.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CNN in an interview on Sunday, "I think Biden will visit, but it's his decision, of course, and about the safety situation, it depends."
Regarding a potential visit from a US diplomat, last week, Biden said, "we're making that decision," although he muddied the waters by responding "yeah" when asked by a reporter whether he might go.
A string of European leaders have made the trip to Kyiv.
Russia has begun its new offensive to take eastern Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, backing up what his top security official said earlier on Monday.
"The Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, for which they have been preparing for a long time. A significant part of the entire Russian army is now concentrated on this offensive,'' Zelenskyy said in a video address.
"No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves. We will do it every day,'' he added.
After failing to capture Kyiv, Russia openly said it would focus its war effort on Ukraine's east, the Donbas.
The area includes the two breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russia's defense ministry confirmed a strike on Lviv in western Ukraine, saying they have targeted a military logistic center.
"A logistic center has been destroyed along with large quantities of foreign weapons which have entered Ukraine in the last six days from the US and European nations," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Previously, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said seven civilians were killed in overnight missile strikes. The city has been considered a safe haven as it is relatively less affected by the fighting than other parts of Ukraine.
Reporting from Lviv, DW correspondent Emmanuelle Chaze said there was "infrastructure" in the city that would be of interest to Russian forces.
"For security reasons, the Ukrainian government is not going to list" such facilities, she added.
Several weapon shipments have reached Ukraine since the US unveiled a new $800-million (€742 million) package of military aid last week, a senior Pentagon official has said.
"There have been four flights from the United States arriving into the theater just yesterday" with a fifth flight due shortly, according to the official cited by the AFP news agency.
The package includes 11 Soviet-made Mi-17 helicopters, 200 armored personnel carriers and M113 armored multi-purpose vehicles. It also includes the first-ever shipment of US howitzers.
France's President Emmanuel Macron said he had not spoken to Vladimir Putin after alleged mass killings of Ukrainian civilians were reported in early April.
"Since the massacres we have discovered in Bucha and in other towns, the war has taken a different turn, so I did not speak to him again directly since, but I don't rule out doing so in the future," Macron told France 5 broadcaster.
Russia has denied all accusations of their troops committing atrocities in Bucha as a Ukrainian forgery, and Putin on Monday honored the Russian unit that had been deployed in the Ukrainian town.
Macron also said he would only travel to Kyiv when he can "bring something useful" with him, rather than visiting the city as a mere symbolic gesture.
"If I go to Kyiv, it will be to make a difference," he said.
Russia appears to have started its anticipated push in the east of the country, according to Ukraine's top security official.
"This morning, along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defenses," Ukraine's Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in televised comments.
"Fortunately, our military is holding on," he added.
He said Russian forces did break through the Ukrainian lines at Kreminna and another small town, "but fighting continues. We did not surrender our territories."
Earlier, Ukraine's armed forces command said Russia's main efforts were focused on establishing complete control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with military action also intensifying in Kharkiv.
Separately, the Pentagon said Russia had added artillery, ground combat forces and other capabilities in recent days ahead of a ground offensive in the east.
Ukraine's military said there were 'signs' that the attack was begining
The mayor of the besieged city of Mariupol said Russian troops had been "forcibly deporting" civilians from Mariupol to Russia or Russian-controlled regions in Ukraine.
"We have verified through the municipal register that they have already deported over 40,000 people," Vadym Boichenko told Ukrainian television.
DW could not independently verify the claim.
Fierce fighting was also ongoing in and around Mariupol, with large parts of the city now under the control of Russian forces.
Around 100,000 inhabitants are still in Mariupol, said a senior police officer in the city, Mykhailo Vershinin. Mariupol had about 450,000 inhabitants before the war.
A ban on gas imports would hurt Germany's economy more than Russia, umbrella groups representing German employers and unions said.
"A rapid gas embargo would lead to loss of production, shutdowns, a further de-industrialization and the long-term loss of work positions in Germany,'' Rainer Dulger, chairman of the BDA employer's group, and Reiner Hoffmann, chairman of the DGB trade union confederation, said in a joint statement.
Some Western leaders and Ukraine have called for an EU-wide ban on Russian oil and gas exports.
Germany only pledged it would only phase out Russian oil by the end of the year and most Russian gas imports by mid-2024.
The EU continues to pay around $850 million (€789 million) per day to Russia for oil and gas, despite widespread economic sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. The EU's 27 nations get around 40% of their natural gas from Russia and around 25% of their oil.
Russian forces were increasing the intensity of attacks in Donetsk and other eastern parts of the country, Ukraine's armed forces command said in a Facebook post.
Ukrainian military said there were "signs of the beginning of the offensive operation" by Russia.
It also said Russia's main military force concentrated on taking control of the entirety of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine has been fighting Russian-backed separatists for control of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014.
After Russian troops' apparent failure to take the capital Kyiv, Moscow said it was shifting its focus to eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine's armed forces command also said the battle for Mariupol's was ongoing, with Russian forces attempting to storm the city's seaport.
Russian President Vladimir Putin honored the unit that allegedly committed atrocities in Ukraine's Bucha for the "mass heroism and valor, tenacity and courage."
He gave the 64th motorized rifle brigade the honorary title of "Guards."
The brigade was allegedly deployed in the town when civilians were executed.
Ukrainian and international investigators are trying to establish if Russian forces could be charged with war crimes after pictures of Ukrainian civilians murdered with their hands tied behind their back and mass graves were discovered in the town.
Russia denies killing civilians, instead saying Ukraine staged the scenes.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has spoken with Germany's mass-circulation paper Bild about Berlin's hesitance to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons.
"We need heavy weapons from German immediately. Every delay costs people's lives. This should be clear to everyone!" he told the paper, warning that "Kyiv is still not safe," despite Russia's apparent pullback from the city. "Yesterday we experienced a rocket attack."
Social Democrat (SPD) Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far resisted sending heavy weapons to the Ukrainian military, instead insisting on financial aid. However, coalition partners from the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) have become increasingly vocal about the need to send heavy weapons to help push back Moscow's forces.
Military monetary aid cannot "replace the rapid delivery of heavy weapons," said the Greens' Anton Hofreiter in an interview. FDP defense expert Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has said that Germany must support Ukraine "immediately in all ways with heavy weapons."
Members of the opposition conservative party the CDU have also criticized Scholz's decision not to send more equipment to Ukraine.
Local authorities have said that Russian troops captured the eastern Ukraniain town of Kreminna as Ukraine's military targeted Moscow's forces in the nearby area of Rubizhne.
"There was a major attack in the night" from Sunday to Monday in Kreminna, the Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said in a statement on social media.
Kreminna, with a pre-war population of nearly 20,000 people is around 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Kramatorsk, the region's administrative centre, and is a strategic target for invading Russian forces.
Powerful explosions could be seen in Rubizhne, sometimes followed by fires and plumes of white or black smoke.
After failing to capture Kyiv or topple the Ukranian government, Russian forces have pulled back to the east of Ukraine and are reportedly preparing a new eastern-based offensive with more limited goals.
DW's Russia analyst Konstantin Eggert said that the images of the Russian naval flagship Moskva on fire and sinking "say quite a bit about the combat readiness of elements of the Russian navy, and that means quite probably also some of the Russian army. "
"It’s quite an embarrassment," Eggert said, "especially bearing in mind the fact that Putin spent a lot of time in the past ten years trumpeting the modernization and the prowess of the Russian fleet."
The destruction of the ship, the largest such loss for Moscow since World War II, represents "quite a significant practical loss for Russian navy combat operations," Eggert said.
"Moskva was meant to be the main air defense platform of the whole Black Sea fleet."
Eggert described the battle plans of the Russian air force without the protection of Moskva as "mission impossible."
After Ukraine criticized the ex-Soviet state of Georgia over its Russia stance, Georgian officials defended Tbilisi's decision not to impose sanctions on Russia.
"As for Georgia's direct sanctions against Russia, they cannot have any impact on the Russian economy," Shalva Papuashvili said at a briefing following a visit to Ukraine.
On March 1, Ukraine recalled its ambassador from Tbilisi after Georgia declined to impose direct sanctions. Georgia's stance is especially noteworthy considering they also fought a brief war against Russia in 2008 over breakaway provinces in their own country.
On Monday, however, Papuashvili also pledged that "Georgia will not become a territory where it will be possible for Russia to circumvent international sanctions."
More than 4.9 million citizens of Ukraine have fled the country following Russia's invasion, the UN's refugee agency (UNCHR) said.
UNHCR said nearly 215,000 nationals of other countries residing in Ukraine have also fled.
Women and children account for 90 percent of those who escaped. Nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes.
"Refugees from Ukraine, the vast majority women and children, face increased risks of sexual exploitation, abuse and human trafficking," UNHCR said.
UNCHR estimated that 7.1 people have been internally displaced within Ukraine.
Italy has reopened its embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Italy had moved its diplomats to Lviv shortly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Spain and France have also announced they will move their reopen their embassies in Kyiv, and Turkey has already relocated its embassy back to Ukraine's capital from the southwestern city of Chernivtsi.
More than 1,100 doctors have signed up to volunteer in Ukraine and its neighboring countries, the German Medical Association chief Klaus Reinhardt told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).
The medical professionals put their names down in an online portal to go and help treat sick people as well as those wounded in the war.
"The number shows just how much solidarity there is among doctors with the people in Ukraine," Reinhardt said. "Volunteering there poses a risk to their lives after all," he added.
The German Medical Association is in talks with German foreign and health ministries, as well as the embassies of Ukraine and neighboring countries that are hosting thousands of Ukrainian refugees.
"As soon as the government notifies us of the need to deploy international humanitarian missions, we will be able provide sufficient numbers of doctors," Reinhardt told RND.
Two alleged British fighters captured in Ukraine appeared on Russian state TV and asked to be exchanged for pro-Moscow politician and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk, who is being held by Ukrainian authorities.
The two men spoke after being prompted by an unidentified man.
Tens of thousands of international fighters have volunteered with Ukraine's armed forces since the start of Russia's invasion.
Medvedchuk was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last week. He had been detained on suspicion of treason until February, when Ukrainian authorities said he had escaped.
Also on Monday, Ukraine's security service released a video showing Medvedchuk asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to exchange him for the evacuation of people trapped in Mariupol.
Both Russia and Ukraine have been criticized for publishing images and videos of prisoners of war as it is considered a violation of the Geneva Convention.
Poland's border guard on Monday counted more people leaving for Ukraine from Poland than going in the opposite direction.
The border guard reported that some 19,3000 people had left Poland for Ukraine over the past 24 hours. Some 17,300 people entered Poland from Ukraine in the same period.
According to UN figures, more than 2.81 million people have fled from Ukraine to Poland since February 24.
People returning to Ukraine mostly travel to areas recaptured by the Ukrainian army.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told the AFP news agency that around 200,000 people in the Russian capital were at risk of losing their jobs as foreign companies leave the Russian market.
Sobyanin said that Moscow authorities would support people who have lost their jobs by providing training and temporary and socially important work.
DW correspondent Emmanuelle Chaze said that there were air sirens in Lviv the morning that saw missile strikes kill seven people and injure 12 others.
"Everybody just took shelter, went into bunkers," Chaze said.
There have been five airstrikes confirmed by the mayor of the city of Lviv.
Shaze said that following the blasts "there were 40 cars damaged, there were also windows shattered in a nearby hotel with a lot of civilians currently residing in that hotel."
Asked on whether there were any military targets in Lviv, Chaze said that there is "infrastructure" that would be of interest to Russian forces. "For security reasons, the Ukrainian government is not going to list" such facilities, she added.
Shaze said it was interesting to note how calmly residents reacted to air sirens. "They're being very disciplined about it," Chaze said.
"It also shows that they know what's to come — that they're prepared for it."
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in an interview for the Antena 3 broadcaster that Madrid will reopen its embassy in Kyiv "shortly."
The country's embassy was evacuated from Ukraine to Poland shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
"We will reopen the Spanish embassy in Kyiv in Ukraine shortly, in the coming days, as another show of the commitment of the Spanish government, of Spanish society, with the people of Ukraine," Sanchez said.
Sanchez's announcement follows Turkey's decision to move its embassy back to Kyiv from the southwestern Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi. Likewise, France announced last week it would move its embassy from the western city of Lviv back to Ukraine's capital.
Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina said that Russia's economy cannot survive indefinitely on its financial reserves and will have to transform itself to deal with sanctions.
Nabiullina said it would take until 2024 to bring inflation back to its 4% target.
"The period when the economy can live on reserves is finite. And already in the second and third quarter we will enter a period of structural transformation and the search for new business models," she said.
"Russian manufacturers will need to search for new partners, logistics, or switch to the production of products of previous generations," Nabiullina said, adding that it will "take time" for exporters to find new partners and logistical arrangements.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that Ukraine was halting the evacuation of civilians from front ine towns and cities for a second consecutive day.
Vereshchuk accused Russian forces of blocking evacuation routes.
"Unfortunately, today, April 18, there will be no humanitarian corridors. In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes," Vereshchuk said.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said that five "powerful" missiles struck the city and that emergency services were responding to the blasts. He said more details would follow.
Sadovyi said seven people were killed and 12 wounded in overnight missile strikes.
Regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy said three missiles hit military infrastructure facilities and one struck a car tire replacement facility.
Lviv has been considered a safe haven as it is relatively less affected by the fighting than other parts of Ukraine.
Local authorities have also reported explosions in the Ukrainian southern region of Dnipropetrovsk.
Russian state-owned news agency TASS cited the country's Defense Ministry as saying that it had destroyed four arms and military equipment depots in Ukraine overnight.
Russian forces used Iskander missiles to hit the depots, the ministry said.
The ministry claimed that it hit 315 Ukrainian targets in total. There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian authorities.
Britain's Defense Ministry said in a daily intelligence update that Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol has slowed Russia's advance in the east of the country.
"Russian commanders will be concerned with the time it is taking to subdue Mariupol", the ministry said.
"Concerted Ukrainian resistance has severely tested Russian forces and diverted men and materiel, slowing Russia's advance elsewhere."
The ministry also claimed there that large areas of infrastructure had been destroyed in the city and the population had suffered significant casualties under Russian siege. The ministry compared the destruction to the effects of Russian bombing in Syria and in Chechnya.
The Russian military has almost finished preparing for a new offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, the Ukrainian military said.
"In the eastern operational area, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are completing the formation of an offensive force," the Ukrainian General Staff said in a Monday report.
The general staff reported Russian airstrikes on the eastern city of Kharkiv and predicted additional attacks in the south of the country as Russian forces attempt to break through to the Kherson region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces have carried out acts of torture and kidnappings in the southeast of his country and called on the world to respond.
"Torture chambers are built there," Zelenskyy said in an evening address to the nation. "They abduct representatives of local governments and anyone deemed visible to local communities."
He also said humanitarian aid was stolen, creating famine conditions.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister, said the situation in Mariupol remains heartbreakingly dire and said continued attacks there could present Ukraine with a "red line" ending peace talks.
Kuleba said the remaining Ukrainian military personnel and civilians still trapped in the southeastern port city are effectively encircled by Russian forces.
The deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, Ihor Zhovkva, said Ukraine completed a questionnaire that forms the basis for the start of EU accession talks.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed the questionnaire to Zelenskyy when she visited Kyiv on April 8. She pledged to jumpstart the country's EU membership application following Russia's invasion.
Zhovkva said, "Today, I can say that the document has been completed by the Ukrainian side."
He added that Kyiv hopes to acquire candidate member status during a European Council meeting in June.
With thousands of Ukrainian fighters still held up in a steelworks plant in Mariupol, the Russian military "continues to launch missile and bomb strikes on the city," Ukraine's army headquarters said.
"The city still has not fallen," Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told US broadcaster ABC. "There's still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end."
Russia previously issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces to surrender or be "eliminated." No reports of surrender came from the city despite the ultimatum expiring the morning of Easter Sunday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), regarding Ukraine's financial stability and the post-war reconstruction of the country. Ukraine also asked G7 nations for $50 billion (€46 billion) in financial support.
The EU said it is allocating a further €50 million ($54 million) in funding to give humanitarian support to people affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Additionally, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Sunday edition of Germany's Bild newspaper that the EU is working on the next wave of sanctions against Russia which would affect the country's banking and energy sectors.
Russia's Ministry of Defense claimed its air defense system had shot down two Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter jets in the region of Kharkiv.
In his Easter message, Pope Francis said Ukraine was "sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged."
sdi, ar, es/fb, jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)