Ukraine defies new ultimatum in Mariupol; Russia would have taken the Kreminna

In the strategic port of Mariupol, Ukrainian forces resist inside a huge steelworks where they once again reject the new ultimatum given by Moscow to surrender and lay down their arms on April 19 at noon local time. Meanwhile, the governor of the Lugansk region assured that the city of Kreminna was taken by Russian troops. If verified, it would be the first city captured in the new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The battle for Donbass has begun, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. After weeks of warnings about the movement of Russian troops from the north to the east of the country, this April 19, the Kremlin army demonstrated its military power by air along a front of hundreds of kilometers in which both sides in the conflict describe as a new phase of the war.

After a Russian advance towards kyiv failed to overrun the capital, Moscow declared its main objective to be the capture of the eastern region. If successful, Russia would gain a vital swath of Ukrainian territory and achieve results amid mounting military casualties and economic hardship caused by Western sanctions.

Here are the main news from the 55th day of the war:

  • 8:45 a.m. (BOG) Moscow says it has opened a ‘humanitarian corridor’ in Mariupol for servicemen who ‘lay down their arms’

In a new statement, the Russian Defense Ministry said that from 2 p.m. local time it opened a humanitarian corridor through which soldiers who accepted its offer of surrender could leave, at the Azovstal factory in Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops are resisting.

“From 2:00 p.m. (Moscow time) on April 19, 2022, the Russian Armed Forces opened a humanitarian corridor for the withdrawal of Ukrainian servicemen and militants from nationalist formations who voluntarily laid down their arms,” ​​the statement said. statement.

The Ukrainian government has not confirmed the alleged surrender of its troops at the besieged metallurgical plant, where civilians are also located.

“To this end, a ceasefire was established, hostilities ceased, units of the Russian Armed Forces and formations of the Donetsk People’s Republic retreated to a safe distance along the entire perimeter of Azovstal “, underlined the Russian Ministry of Logistics for the possible delivery, after the last ultimatum issued to local forces to surrender expired at noon kyiv time.

Ukrainian military sources have repeatedly stated that their army is not ready to surrender. Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych asserted that the new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine will fail.

  • 07:14 (BOG) Russia expels Dutch and Belgian diplomats

The Russian Foreign Ministry has announced it will expel 15 diplomats from the Netherlands after the country ordered 18 Russian diplomats to leave Dutch territory last month.

Additionally, the Russian portfolio said in a separate statement that Moscow had ordered the expulsion of some Belgian diplomats, in retaliation for similar actions against its officials.

European countries have expelled more than 300 Russian embassy workers since the Kremlin launched the full-scale attack on its neighboring country on February 24.

Russia stepped up its response last week by expelling diplomats from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and the European Union.

  • 06:48 (BOG) Greece reportedly seizes Russian tanker as part of sanctions

A spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Maritime Transport said his country had seized a vessel containing Russian crude oil as part of European Union sanctions against the government of Vladimir Putin for launching the war against Ukraine.

The Russian-flagged vessel, with 19 crew members on board, was seized near the coastal town of Karystos, off the island of Evia, it said.

“It was seized under EU sanctions,” a Navy Ministry official told Reuters. However, a coast guard official said the vessel was seized but not its cargo of oil.

  • 6:33 (BOG) Governor says Russia has taken control of Kreminna city

Russian troops have taken control of the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine and local troops have withdrawn from the city, said the governor of the Lugansk region, to which the city belongs, Serhiy Gaidai.

“The Kreminna is under the control of the ‘Orcs’ (Russians). They have entered the city (…) Unable to calculate the number of dead among the civilian population. We have official statistics of around 200 dead, but in reality there are many more,” Gaidai said during a briefing.

If this information is verified, Kreminna would be the first city captured during the new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The Kreminna, with a pre-war population of nearly 20,000, lies about 50 km northeast of Kramatorsk, the administrative center of the region, and is a strategic target for the Kremlin.

  • 06:21 (BOG) Ukrainian authorities suspend civilian evacuations for third consecutive day

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reported that the government had been forced to cancel humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations for the third day in a row, due to relentless attacks, especially in the Donbass region.

“Today, April 19, unfortunately there are no humanitarian corridors (…) According to the Mariupol authorities (the) Russians refuse to provide a corridor for the exit of civilians towards Berdyansk”, posted Vereshchuk on his Facebook account.

The official added that they were conducting “tough negotiations” to try to organize humanitarian corridors in the southern Kherson region and in the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine.

  • 6:10 (BOG) The negotiation process is complicated by the situation in Mariúpol

The siege of the city of Mariupol by Russia has further complicated the process between the delegations of the two countries to negotiate a possible solution to the conflict. Now it’s hard to say when direct talks will resume, said Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak.

“Obviously, in the context of the Mariupol tragedy, the negotiation process has become even more complicated,” the official said of the southeastern port city.

©France 24

  • 06:01 (BOG) Chechen leader says Russia will seize resistance factory in Mariupol on Tuesday

Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia’s Chechnya region and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, assured that Muscovite forces would completely take over the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in the coming hours.

This is where Ukrainian defenders repelled Russian attacks on the beleaguered port.

“Today, with the help of the Almighty, we will take Azovstal completely,” Kadyrov said in an audio message broadcast on his Telegram channel.

Earlier, Moscow called on kyiv fighters housed at the plant to lay down their arms by noon Moscow and Kyiv time if they want to save their lives.

  • 05:38 (BOG) Russia says it launched dozens of attacks in eastern Ukraine

The Russian military said it carried out dozens of airstrikes in eastern Ukraine overnight after Ukrainian officials said Moscow resumed a major offensive in the region.

The Kremlin Defense Ministry said “high-precision air missiles” hit 13 Ukrainian positions in parts of the Donbass region, including the key city of Sloviansk, and other bombardments “attacked 60 targets Ukrainian military”, including in towns close to the East. front.

FILE - Servicemen from pro-Russian troops inspect the streets of the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on April 7, 2022.
FILE – Servicemen from pro-Russian troops inspect the streets of the port city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on April 7, 2022. © Reuters/Alexander Ermoshenko

According to the ministry, Russian troops destroyed two warehouses containing Tochka-U tactical missile warheads in Chervona Polyana in Lugansk region and Balakliia in Kharkiv region.

  • 5:27 (BOG) Ukraine again challenges ultimatum to surrender to Mariupol

None of the parties to the conflict reported a possible surrender of Ukrainian troops in Mariupol, after the Russian army issued a new ultimatum to the forces of Volodímir Zelensky, which ended at noon Moscow time and from Kyiv.

The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement in which it specifically refers to Ukrainian troops and volunteer forces resisting the 11 km2 Azovstal steel plant.

“All who lay down their arms are guaranteed to stay alive,” the Kremlin portfolio warned.

Russian-backed separatist forces said they were trying to storm the metallurgical plant, one of the largest in Europe, which has become a center of Ukrainian army resistance in this city with access to the Sea of ​​Azov.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych maintained that the new Russian offensive in the east of the country will fail.

The new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine will fail because Moscow’s forces lack the strength to break through Ukrainian defences, he said.

“The battle for Donbass, which was announced and apparently started yesterday, is ongoing and is proceeding very cautiously. The battle will not go in Russia’s favor,” Arestovych added.

With Reuters, AP and local media

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