The essential :
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Monday the start of the Russian offensive against eastern Ukraine, part of which is in the hands of pro-Russian separatists and where deadly fighting has intensified. Joe Biden announced a meeting of Westerners this Tuesday to respond to the invasion of Donbass.
- The Russian army says its strikes on Monday morning destroyed 16 Ukrainian military sites, including a major depot of foreign weapons recently delivered to Ukraine, near Lviv. The governor of the Lviv region said that three missiles had hit military infrastructure, without specifying their content.
- More than 4.9 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of the conflict, announces the UN. After 54 days of conflict, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees counted 4,934,415 million Ukrainian refugees on Monday, 65,000 more than the day before.
06:41 – Westerners meet today
US President Joe Biden will take part in a virtual meeting on Tuesday devoted to the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the White House said, as kyiv assures that Moscow has launched a new phase of its attack in Donbass. The US president will discuss, “with undisclosed US allies and partners”, “continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia to account”, a White House official told Agence France-Presse.
05:51 – 76 Russian battalions in action in Ukraine
According to a senior US Defense Department official, Russia has increased its military presence in eastern and southern Ukraine by “eleven battalions” in one week, bringing the total of battalions in the country to 76.
05:37 – “The EU condemns the continuation of indiscriminate and unlawful bombardments”
The European Union on Monday condemned the indiscriminate and unlawful missile strikes and bombings against civilians carried out by Russia in Ukraine and denounced war crimes. “The EU condemns the continued indiscriminate and unlawful bombardment of civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Russian armed forces (…). There can be no impunity for war crimes”, affirmed the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell in a statement issued in Brussels after the strikes against the city of Lviv, in the west of the country.
I condemn continued indiscriminate shelling of civilians & civilian infrastructure by Russian armed forces in #Ukraine.
Working to support delivery of military equipment. https://t.co/L2KK9S6R6p
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) April 18, 2022
05:11 – Isolated Ukrainian groups continue to fight for Mariupol
According to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the port of Mariupol was “probably taken” on Saturday by the Russians “despite the denials of the Ukrainian general staff”. The last defenders hold sectors of the city and refused the Russian ultimatum which expired on Sunday. kyiv accuses the Russian army of wanting to “raze it at all costs”. According to the ISW, groups of isolated Ukrainians are likely to remain active but will only last a few days, probably after a deluge of fire.
The city has been under constant bombardment since the start of the Russian offensive on February 24. Its fall would allow the Russians to consolidate their coastal territorial gains along the Sea of Azov by linking the Donbass region, partly controlled by their supporters, to Crimea which Moscow annexed in 2014.
04:45 – “The second phase of the war has begun”
For Andriï Yermak, President Zelensky’s chief of staff, “the second phase of the war has begun”. “Trust the armed forces of Ukraine,” he said on Telegram. Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky proclaimed: “No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves.”
03:41 – Battle of Donbass: Marine Le Pen condemns the offensive
On her Twitter account, the RN candidate for the French presidential election commented on the situation: “I condemn Russia’s offensive against the Ukrainian people in Donbass. We must support all possible diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire. fire and impose peace on Russia so that Ukraine regains its full sovereignty.”
I condemn Russia’s offensive against the Ukrainian people in Donbass.
We must support all possible diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire and impose peace on Russia so that Ukraine regains its full sovereignty.
– Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) April 18, 2022
02:39 – Russian TV airs videos featuring British prisoners
Russian state television has shown videos of two British prisoners, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, claiming they were captured fighting in Ukraine and calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to negotiate their release. The two men, who appear with drawn features, are asking to be exchanged for Viktor Medvedchuk, a deputy and wealthy Ukrainian businessman close to President Putin and recently arrested in Ukraine. They do not specify who is currently holding them, Russian forces or their separatist allies in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. kyiv for its part published a video of this businessman in which he asks to be exchanged “against the defenders of Mariupol and its inhabitants”.
The appeal of Shaun Pinner, a former British army soldier captured in Ukraine by Russian forces, to be exchanged for a close friend of Vladimir Putin ⤵ pic.twitter.com/6xORMwr7vb
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) April 18, 2022
01:59 – Moscow announces the destruction of a major foreign arms depot
The Russian army said on Monday evening that it had destroyed with “high precision missiles” a large depot of foreign weapons recently delivered to Ukraine, during strikes in the morning near Lviv.
01:21 – Kreminna “under the control of the orcs”
“It’s hell. The offensive has begun, the one we’ve been talking about for weeks,” the Ukrainian governor of the Lugansk region, Serguiï Gaïdaï, announced on Facebook. “There is fighting in Rubizhne and Popasna, incessant fighting in other peaceful towns,” he said, acknowledging that Kreminna was “unfortunately under the control of orcs,” the pejorative nickname given to the Russian military.
00:58 – UN: discussions to create in Turkey a “humanitarian contact group” including Ukraine and Russia
The UN and Turkey are discussing the creation of a “humanitarian contact group” which would bring together on Turkish soil – under the aegis of the United Nations – Ukraine and Russia, a senior UN official announced on Monday. If Ukraine has already responded favorably to this approach, Russia, informed of the proposal at the beginning of April, has not yet made its position known.
00:38 – No humanitarian corridor could be opened on Monday
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that no humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians were set up on Monday, for the second day in a row, because “the Russian occupiers keep blocking them and bomb”.
12:27 a.m. – White House says Joe Biden has no plans to travel to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden does not plan to go to Ukraine anytime soon despite his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky’s wish to do so, the White House said on Monday. “The president is not expected to go there, allow me to repeat it,” said US executive spokeswoman Jen Psaki at a press conference. In recent weeks, several European leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have visited the war-torn country.
The US government is considering sending an envoy to kyiv, but the White House has so far ruled out a high-risk trip by the president himself, for security reasons. “If someone were to go there, we would not say it from here,” also said the spokesperson for the American president.