War in Ukraine: Latest developments

·3-min read
Clouds of smoke billow from the Azovstal steel plant (AFP/Handout) (Handout)

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- Russia targets east, south -

The Russian army will aim to take full control over eastern and southern Ukraine, Russian news agencies quote a top general as saying.

"Since the start of the second phase of the special operation... one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine," Major General Rustam Minnekaev says.

He adds that this would create a "land corridor" to annexed Crimea.

- Peace talks stalled: Lavrov -

Talks between Moscow and Kyiv to put an end to Russia's military campaign in Ukraine have "stalled", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says.

He says after talks with his Kazakh counterpart Moscow has still had not received an answer to its latest proposal sent around five days ago.

- UN chief to meet Putin -

Russian President Vladimir Putin will next week hold talks with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Kremlin says.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells state news agency RIA Novosti Guterres will on April 26 meet Lavrov and "he will also be received by Russian President Vladimir Putin."

- 'Kyiv blocking Mariupol surrender' -

Putin accuses Kyiv of refusing to allow Ukrainian troops to surrender in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Russia's defence ministry says it is ready for a humanitarian ceasefire at the Azovstal steel plant if Kyiv's soldiers holed up there surrender.

"All servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces, militants of the national battalions and foreign mercenaries who laid down their arms are guaranteed life, decent treatment in accordance with international law, and the provision of quality medical care," Putin says, adding: "But the Kyiv regime is not allowing for this opportunity to be used."

- Russian success 'hinges' on Mariupol -

The success of Russia's military operation in Ukraine depends on its ability to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol, the regional governor tells AFP.

"The enemy's offensive operation in the south hinges on Mariupol. The enemy is trying to focus all its efforts on it," Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says.

Earlier Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Mariupol "continues to resist" despite Russian claims to have captured it after besieging it for weeks.

Kyrylenko says remaining Ukrainian forces holed up inside the sprawling Azovstal steel plant are "holding on" and have ammunition but are "exhausted after two months of fighting".

- EU chief calls for Mariupol access -

European Council president Charles Michel says he urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call to allow humanitarian access to Mariupol during Orthodox Easter.

- Russian actions may be 'war crimes': UN -

The United Nations accuses Russia of actions in Ukraine "that may amount to war crimes".

"Russian armed forces have indiscriminately shelled and bombed populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, actions that may amount to war crimes," said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

From the start of the war on February 24 to midnight on April 20, the UN mission has documented and verified 2,345 civilians have been killed and 2,919 wounded, it said.

- France sending heavy artillery -

France is sending several heavy artillery pieces to Ukraine, President Emmanuel Macron says.

"We are delivering significant equipment, from Milan (anti-tank missiles) to Caesar (self-propelled howitzers)," Macron tells a regional newspaper.

"I think we have to continue on this route. Always with the red line that we will not become parties to the conflict."

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