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UKRAINE WRAP | UN chief calls for independent probe of civilian deaths in Ukrainian town

03 April 2022 - 06:12 By TIMESLIVE
A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armoured vehicles in Bucha, Kyiv region.
A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armoured vehicles in Bucha, Kyiv region.
Image: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

April 03 2022 — 19:00

UN chief calls for independent probe of civilian deaths in Ukrainian town

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday said he was "deeply shocked" by images of dead civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, and he called for an independent investigation that "leads to effective accountability."

Guterres posted his comments on Twitter a day after witnesses and officials said that Russian troops killed almost 300 civilians as they withdrew from the town near Kyiv.

"I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine," Guterres said, joining Western officials in expressing outrage.

"It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability," he said.

The Russian defense ministry denied that Russian forces killed civilians in Bucha, saying that videos and photographs of bodies were "yet another provocation" by the Ukrainian government. 

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 17:00

Polish minister calls for investigation of Russian army's actions in Kyiv region

Poland's foreign minister called on Sunday for the international community to help Ukraine investigate the actions of the Russian army in the region around Kyiv, as outrage grew over the discovery of dead bodies in the town of Bucha.

"The liberation of the Kyiv region reveals barbaric atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces," Zbigniew Rau, who is also chairman-in-office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for this year, said on Twitter.

"I urge @OSCE participating states and the international community to assist Ukraine in ensuring that these crimes are properly investigated."

Ukraine's foreign minister on Sunday accused Russian forces of carrying out a "massacre" in the town of Bucha, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described images of dead bodies there as "a punch in the gut".

Russia's defence ministry denied that Russian forces had killed civilians in Bucha, and said all photographs and footage showing dead bodies were "yet another provocation". In a statement, it said all Russian military units had left the town on March 30.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 15:20

Ukrainian president's office demands new wave of Russia sanctions

A senior official at the Ukrainian president's office said on Sunday that a fifth package of sanctions should be imposed on Russia, targeting all its banks, closing ports to its ships and imposing an embargo on all trade.

Andriy Sybiha, deputy head of Ukraine's president's office, said in comments broadcast on television that the sanctions should be imposed over what Ukraine says were atrocities carried out by Russia in the town of Bucha near Kyiv.

Russia has so far not commented publicly on the allegations. Moscow has previously denied Ukrainian allegations that it has targeted civilians or carried out possible war crimes.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 14:00

EU foreign policy chief: Atrocities in Ukraine need to be pursued by the International Court of Justice.

The European Union on Sunday accused Russian troops of committing atrocities in the Kyiv region after the mayor of the town of Bucha said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by Russian forces.

"Shocked by news of atrocities committed by Russian forces. EU assists Ukraine in documenting war crimes," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter, adding all cases needed to be pursued by the International Court of Justice.

Ukraine said on Saturday its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion on Feb 24.

The mayor of Bucha, a liberated town 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital, said 300 residents had been killed by the Russian army.

"Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region," the president of the EU Council grouping the bloc's member states, Charles Michel, commented on Twitter.

Russia has previously denied targeting civilians and rejected allegations of war crimes in what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

The Russian defence ministry in Moscow did not immediately reply to a request for comment when asked on Sunday about bodies found in Bucha.

Michel said the EU was assisting Ukraine and non-governmental organisations in gathering the necessary evidence for the prosecution of crimes in international courts.

"Further EU sanctions and support are on their way," he added. 

-Reuters

People who fled the war in Ukraine and members of the Ukrainian diaspora pray during mass in Krakow's Orthodox church on April 03, 2022 in Krakow, Poland.
People who fled the war in Ukraine and members of the Ukrainian diaspora pray during mass in Krakow's Orthodox church on April 03, 2022 in Krakow, Poland.
Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images

April 03 2022 — 13:40

Kremlin says it hopes peace negotiators can find a deal

Russia will achieve all of the aims of its "special military operation" in Ukraine and hopes that Moscow and Kyiv can ultimately sign some sort of peace deal, the Kremlin said, Inferfax news agency reported

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 13:20

Ukraine Mykolaiv Black Sea port hit in rocket attack- Interior Ministry

Several Russian rockets have hit Ukraine's Black Sea port of Mykolaiv, Anton Gerashchenko, an aide to the country's interior ministry, said on Sunday.

Gerashchenko said in a social media post that local authorities had reported the attack.

Russian forces have attacked Ukraine's southern ports including Odesa, Mykolaiv and Mariupol as they try to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea and establish a land corridor from Russia to Crimea, the peninsula Russia seized in 2014.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 12:50

Blasts heard in Russian city of Belgorod near border with Ukraine - witnesses

Two blasts were heard in the Russian city of Belgorod near the border with Ukraine on Sunday, two witnesses told Reuters, days after Russian authorities accused Ukrainian forces of striking a fuel depot there.

The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear.

One witness said the blasts were so powerful that they rattled the windows of her home in Belgorod.

The blasts come days after Russia's defence ministry said two Ukrainian helicopters struck a fuel depot in the city, some 35 km (22 miles) from the border with Ukraine, after entering Russia at extremely low altitude in the early hours of Friday.

The Kremlin said the incident could undermine peace efforts, while a top Ukrainian security official denied responsibility.

A local official from the region around Belgorod said there had been a blast in the village of Tomarovka on Sunday but that no one had been hurt and no property damaged.

"There was a bang, debris fell onto the ground," Oleg Medvedev, head of the Yakovlevsky city district outside Belgorod, wrote on the Telegram messenger application.

He did not elaborate on the nature of the debris nor on the cause of the blast. It was unclear if the blast described by Medvedev was one of the blasts heard by the witnesses

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 12:30

UK says alleged attacks on civilians in Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes

Allegations of attacks against civilians during Russia's invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes, Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said, adding that the UK would fully support any such move by the International Criminal Court.

"As Russian troops are forced into retreat, we are seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha," Truss said in a statement, referring to places near Kyiv.

"Their indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians during Russia's illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated as war crimes."

Russia has previously denied targeting civilians and rejected allegations of war crimes in what it calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

-Reuters

A Ukrainian soldier reacts as he sits on a tank in Bucha, in Kyiv region.
A Ukrainian soldier reacts as he sits on a tank in Bucha, in Kyiv region.
Image: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

April 03 2022 — 12:00

Russia to export food to friendly countries in roubles or their currencies - RIA

Russia will only export food and crops to "friendly countries" in roubles or in their national currencies, RIA news agency cited Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of the country's Security Council, as saying on Sunday. 

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 11:20

Lithuanian documentary maker Kvedaravicius killed in Ukraine's Mariupol

Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius was killed on Saturday in Ukraine's Mariupol, a city whose fate he had documented for many years, according to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry's information agency and a colleague.

"While trying to leave Mariupol, Russian occupiers killed Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius," the agency tweeted on Sunday.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

"We lost a creator well known in Lithuania and in the whole world, who until the very last moment, in spite of danger, worked in Russia-occupied Ukraine," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Sunday.

Kvedaravicius, who was to turn 46 this year, was best known for his conflict-zone documentary Mariupolis, which premiered at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival.

The film paints a portrait of Mariupol, a strategic port is in the breakaway region of Donetsk where pro-Russian fighters have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

Kvedaravicius was born in 1976, studied at Vilnius University and got a degree in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, according to the Lithuanian president's office."(...) Mantas Kvedaravicius, was murdered today in Mariupol, with a camera in his hands, in this shitty war of evil, against the whole world," Russian film director Vitaly Mansky, founder of the festival Artdocfest in which Kvedaravicius was a participant, said on Facebook.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 10:40

Greek foreign minister leads humanitarian aid mission to Odesa

Greece's Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias will land in Odesa on Sunday, leading a humanitarian aid mission into the southern port city of Ukraine, the foreign ministry said.

The humanitarian aid will be handed to the city's municipal authorities.

Dendias, 62, also plans to set up a continuous mechanism of distributing aid from Greece and to reopen Greece's consulate in the city, the foreign ministry said.

Missiles struck Odesa in the early hours of Sunday, the city council said in an online post.

Dendias said last month he planned to lead a humanitarian aid mission to the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukraine, where thousands of ethnic Greeks live, but intense fighting there meant the destination was subsequently changed to Odesa.

At least 10 ethnic Greeks have been killed and several have been wounded since Russia started attacking Mariupol.

More than 150 Greek citizens, vessel crews and ethnic Greeks have been evacuated from the region, according to the Greek government.

Ukraine's troops have retaken more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion.

Russia has depicted its drawdown of forces near Kyiv as a goodwill gesture in peace talks. Ukraine and its allies say Russia was forced to shift its focus to east Ukraine after suffering heavy losses.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 10:20

Russia says it destroyed oil refinery near Odesa

Ukraine's Kremenchug oil refinery has been completely destroyed after a Russian attack, Dmytro Lunin, governor of the Poltava region, said on television on Sunday.

"The fire at the refinery has been extinguished but the facility has been completely destroyed and can no longer function," Lunin said.

Russia's defence ministry said on Saturday that sea and air missiles had destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel storages in the Odesa region, Interfax reported.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 10:00

Russia Accused of War Crimes in Occupied Areas

Russia and Ukraine will resume talks by video on Monday, according to Moscow’s chief negotiator, who said Kyiv was becoming “more realistic” in its positions.

Evidence of Russian military war crimes is coming to light as Moscow’s troops retreat from positions near Kyiv, a top Ukrainian official said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces are strengthening defenses in eastern Ukraine and Donbas, where Russia’s goal is to complete its takeover of the region.

He said Ukraine has a shortage of modern anti-missile systems.

Transnistria, a pro-Russian enclave in neighboring Moldova, on Saturday denied a Ukrainian claim that Moscow’s forces are redeploying in its territory in possible preparation for an attack from the west

-©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

April 03 2022 — 9:45

Russia preventing Ukraine resupply by Black Sea - UK military intelligence

Russian naval forces continue to blockade the Ukrainian coast on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, preventing resupply by sea, British military intelligence said on Sunday.

Russia retains the capability to attempt an amphibious landing, but such an operation is likely to be increasingly high risk due to the time Ukrainian forces have had to prepare, the Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

"Mines within the Black Sea pose a serious risk to maritime activity," it said.

The report said the origin of the mines was unclear and disputed but that they were almost certainly the result of Russian naval activity in the area, demonstrating how its invasion of Ukraine is affecting neutral and civilian interests.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 9:30

Evacuation attempts of people from Mariupol to continue on Sunday - Ukraine Dep PM

Work on evacuating people with the help of Red Cross from Mariupol will continue on Sunday with buses attempting to come close to the besieged city, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

"Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross," Vereshchuk said in an online video posting.

There will be 17 buses prepared to evacuate people from Mariupol and Berdyansk, she said. 

-Reuters

An elderly woman crosses a street near a building damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine. April 1, 2022.
An elderly woman crosses a street near a building damaged in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine. April 1, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

April 03 2022 — 9:00

Missiles hit Ukrainian port of Odesa - council

Missiles struck Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa in the early hours of Sunday, the city council said in an online post.

One of the city's "critical infrastructure facilities" was hit, regional administration spokesperson Sergey Bratchuk told Ukraine's public broadcaster.

"We hope there will be no casualties," Bratchuk said.

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 8:30

Russia says peace talks not ready for leaders' meeting - chief negotiator

Russia said on Sunday that peace talks had not progressed enough for a leaders' meeting and that Moscow's position on the status of Crimea and Donbas remained unchanged.

"The draft agreement is not ready for submission to a meeting at the top," Russian chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Telegram.

"I repeat again and again: Russia's position on Crimea and Donbas remains unchanged."

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 8:00

Sweden Revives Cold-War Military Forces to Help Shield the Baltic From Putin’s Russia

Sweden’s top army officer has been waiting a long time to get back to the windswept Baltic Sea island of Gotland. 

Karl Engelbrektson was a unit commander on Gotland in 2005 when Sweden withdrew its military from the crucial perch in the center of the Baltic, taking advantage of the post-Cold War peace.

Even then, he thought the move was ill-judged. 

“Disbanding large parts of the armed forces, in the peace euphoria of that time, may have made sense to a lot of people,” Engelbrektson, clad in army fatigue next to a German-made Stridsvagn 122 tank, said in an interview at the Gotland base in late March. “History proves that this was a mistake.”

Gotland gives the Swedish military a dominant position in the Baltic from which it can control critical naval routes and airspace, a strategic bastion that seemed irrelevant before Russia invaded Ukraine. 

-Reuters

April 03 2022 — 7:30

Ukrainians curse Russian invaders as dead civilians found in liberated towns

As Ukraine claimed its forces had retaken all areas around Kyiv, the mayor of a liberated town said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army, and victims were seen in a mass grave and still lying on the streets.

Ukraine's troops have retaken more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched its invasion.

At Bucha, a town neighbouring Irpen, just 37 km (23 miles) northwest of the capital, Reuters journalists saw bodies lying in the streets, and the hands and feet of multiple corpses poking out of a still open grave at a church ground.

After five weeks of fighting, Russia has pulled back forces that had threatened Kyiv from the north to regroup for battles in eastern Ukraine.

-Reuters

View of a destroyed tank with a "V" symbol and its turret dislodged, following the Russian army's retreat from the area during its invasion, in Bucha, Kyiv region, Ukraine April 2, 2022 in this image obtained from social media.
View of a destroyed tank with a "V" symbol and its turret dislodged, following the Russian army's retreat from the area during its invasion, in Bucha, Kyiv region, Ukraine April 2, 2022 in this image obtained from social media.
Image: Konstantin Kuzhelniy via REUTERS

April 03 2022 — 7:00

Russia Sanctions Will Only Increase Until Peace: Japan’s Hagiuda

Sanctions against Russia will only increase until a peace agreement with Ukraine becomes clear, Japan’s trade minister Koichi Hagiuda said Sunday on national broadcaster NHK.

Together with other nations, Japan will judge what other measures can be taken to further restrict the Russian economy, which has already been crippled by a wide-ranging series of trade and finance curbs, Hagiuda said.

The government has not restrained Japanese companies from continuing to operate in Russia, however the longer the war continues, the harder it will be to keep conducting business there, he said.

The US, UK, European Union and others have ramped up sanctions against Russia following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

In the latest round, the US went after more than 400 individuals, including lawmakers and an adviser to Vladimir Putin.

The UK targeted Alfa-Bank JSC and the diamond mining company Alrosa.

-©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

April 03 2022 — 6:40

Series of explosions heard in Ukrainian port of Odesa - Reuters witness

A series of explosions was heard and smoke was seen in Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa in the early hours of Sunday, a Reuters witness said.

Odesa was attacked by missiles and there were reports of fires in some areas, the city council said in an online post.

-Reuters

A woman walks in front of the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in downtown Odesa, Ukraine, March 30, 2022.
A woman walks in front of the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in downtown Odesa, Ukraine, March 30, 2022.
Image: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

April 03 2022 — 6:20

Kyiv Warns Russia Is Adding Troops in Moldova

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces are strengthening defences in eastern Ukraine and Donbas, where Russia’s goal is to complete its takeover of the region. He said Ukraine has a shortage of modern anti-missile systems.

-©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

April 03 2022 — 6:00

What you need to know right now

• Ukraine said its forces had seized back all areas around Kyiv, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia invaded more than five weeks ago.

• In the recaptured town of Bucha northwest of Kyiv, the sprawled remains of more than a dozen bodies lined a road. A mass grave at a church was open, with hands and feet poking through the red clay heaped on top. The smell of explosives and the stench of death hung in the cold, dank air. 

• Zelenskyy accused Russian soldiers of deliberately mining areas in northern Ukraine as they withdraw or are pushed out. 

• A Red Cross convoy was again trying to evacuate civilians from the besieged port of Mariupol after abandoning an attempt on Friday over security concerns. 

• Maksim Levin, a photographer and videographer working for a Ukrainian news website and a long-time contributor to Reuters, was killed covering the war.

• Ukraine's economy shrank 16% in the first quarter from a year earlier and could contract 40% for the year as a result of Russia's invasion, the economy ministry said.

• Ukraine's railways are struggling with a backlog of grain wagons on the western border as traders look for alternative export routes after Russia's invasion blocked off the main Black Sea ports, analyst APK-Inform said.

• The EU is working on further sanctions on Russia but they would not affect the energy sector, said Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni.

• Pope Francis implicitly criticised Putin over his invasion, saying a “potentate” was fomenting conflict for nationalist interests.

-Reuters

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