Russia-Ukraine live news: Russia seizes most of Luhansk | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • More than five million people have now fled Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency says.
  • Ukraine calls on the Red Cross to establish contact with 500,000 people it says have been deported to Russia.
  • Russia has said it test-launched its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • US says it has begun training Ukrainian forces on howitzer artillery systems, part of an $800m weapons package to help Kyiv defend against Moscow’s eastern offensive.
  • Luhanks governor says Russia now controls 80% of the region.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

‘Liberated’ cities returning to life, Zelenskyy says

While the war in eastern Ukraine escalates, Zelenskyy has said 934 Ukrainian settlements had been liberated and were returning to normal life.

He said police had resumed work in 435 settlements, local government started working in 431 communities and humanitarian headquarters were launched in 361 settlements.

“We are gradually restoring people’s access to medical and educational services, to social protection bodies. We are restoring road infrastructure, electricity, gas and water supply,” he said.

But he added mines and shells that hadn’t exploded were still a threat and urged citizens to be careful and not enter territory that hadn’t yet been inspected.

Alexandra Kusminova pets her cat, named Mouse, as she sits on a bed in a restaurant that was transformed into a shelter for those fleeing the war from the eastern region of the country in Dnipro, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 20.
Alexandra Kusminova pets her cat, Mouse, as she sits on a bed in a restaurant transformed into a shelter for those fleeing the war from the eastern region of the country, in Dnipro, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 20. [Leo Correa/AP]

‘Extraordinary situation’ as G20 members walk out on Russia

Top officials from Britain, the United States and Canada walked out on Russia’s representatives at a Group of 20 meeting on Wednesday and many members spoke to condemn Moscow’s war in Ukraine, Reuters has reported.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who chaired the daylong meeting of G20 finance officials in Washington, said this was an “extraordinary situation” adding it had not been “business as usual”.

US. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told attendees she strongly disapproved of a senior Russian official’s presence at the meeting before she walked out, two sources told Reuters. She was joined by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.

Russia now controls 80% of Luhansk: governor

The Luhansk governor has said Russian forces now control 80% of the region – one of two regions that make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

One of Russia’s stated goals is to expand the territory in the Donbas under the control of Moscow-backed separatists. Before Russia invaded on 24 February, Kyiv controlled 60% of the Luhansk region.

Governor Serhiy Haidai said the Russians, who renewed their offensive this week in eastern and southern Ukraine, have strengthened their attacks in the Luhansk region.

After seizing the city of Kreminna, Haidai said Russians now are threatening the cities of Rubizhne and Popasna and he has urged all residents to evacuate immediately.

International experts release white paper on further sanctions against Russia

A group of international experts, in collaboration with Ukraine, have today released a white paper outlining advice on how governments and companies can strengthen sanctions against Russia.

A statement from the group – led by the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration Andriy Yermak and former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul – says it is “united in believing” sanctions “should be expanded as quickly as possible until Putin withdraws Russian armed forces from Ukraine”.

The plan advises Russia and Belarus be recognised as state-sponsors of terrorism, and Russia’s armed forces as a terrorist organisation.

Other recommendations include banning import and export flows on Russian crude oil, oil products, gas, and coal, “to and from the democratic world, while minimising the leakage through secondary sanctions.” And for the European Union to immediately commit to ending all trade with Russia and Belarus in petroleum products.

Biden lauds commanders for ‘exceptional’ work arming Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has lauded American army officials for their “exceptional” work arming Ukraine, as he gathered the country’s top military leaders for an in-person meeting at the White House.

Biden also praised Ukrainian forces for their resistance to Russia’s invasion.

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to Ukraine a number of times before the war … and I knew they were tough and proud but I tell you what: They’re tougher and more proud than I thought,” he told the US military commanders. “I’m amazed at what they’re doing with your help.”

Zelenskyy says Russians being ‘maximally cruel’

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia’s full attack on Ukraine’s east and south is as cruel as it could be to produce even a small victory.

“The situation in the country’s east and south remains maximally cruel,” the Ukrainian leader said, adding that the battles for Mariupol, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and other cities “will decide the fate of our people and the fate of our freedom”.

Chechen chief says Russia forces will control Mariupol steel plant on Thursday

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s republic of Chechnya, has said Russian forces would be in complete control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Thursday.

“Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation,” he said in an audio message posted online.

Chechen forces have been fighting in Ukraine as part of Russia’s military operation.

Cyprus to revoke more Russians’ citizenship

Cyprus is moving to strip citizenship from four more Russians who appear on the European Union’s updated list of sanctions.

Deputy Government Spokeswoman Niovi Parisinou said the decision brings to eight the number of Russians whose Cypriot citizenship will be revoked. They are among 1,091 people sanctioned by the EU.

Zelenskyy says Ukraine to receive more weapons soon

Zelenskyy has said the situation in Ukraine’s east and south remains difficult with Russian troops pushing their attacks.

“The occupiers aren’t abandoning their attempts to score at least some victory by launching a new, large-scale offensive,” he said in a video address to the nation.

He added that Ukraine’s Western allies have “come to understand our needs better”, so they’re receiving new shipments of Western weapons “now, when Russia is trying to step up its attacks, not in weeks or in a month”.

Zelenskyy says the situation in eastern and southern Ukraine remains difficult [Efrem Lukatsky/AP]

Negotiating with Putin like dealing with a crocodile: UK PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris has compared negotiating with Putin to dealing with a crocodile as he warned Ukraine it will be hard to negotiate a peace deal with a leader who is so unreliable.

“How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it has your leg in its jaws, that is the difficulty that Ukrainians face,” Johnson told reporters on a plane to India for a two-day visit.

“It is very hard to see how the Ukrainians can negotiate with Putin now given his manifest lack of good faith.”

France’s Macron says Le Pen’s interests tied to Russian leadership

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s interests are tied to Russia’s leadership, President Emmanuel Macron has said in a television debate with his far-right challenger.

“None of us went to seek financing from a Russian bank, and especially not from one that is close to power in Russia,” said Macron, who will face off against Le Pen in the second round of the presidential election on April 24.

He said other French parties had managed to finance their operations with French loans, not through a bank connected to Russia.

US legislators urge Facebook to do more to fight Russian propaganda

A group of 21 US legislators have sent a letter to Facebook’s parent company Meta and its Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, voicing concern about what they called disinformation on the platform aimed at Spanish speakers about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Facebook has continuously failed to show it is adequately addressing this problem for Spanish-speaking communities, and the success of Russian sponsored outlets in crowding out the information ecosystem for Spanish speakers serves as proof to this fact,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The viral spread of these narratives stands in stark contrast to assurances that Meta made to the public and Members of Congress that it is prioritizing the pressing needs of Hispanic communities in the United States.”

US hits Russian bank, oligarch with new sanctions

The US has imposed new sanctions on a Russian commercial bank, an oligarch and dozens of individuals and entities.

The Treasury Department’s targets also include Russia-based units of virtual currency mining firm Biriver.

The US “can and will target those who evade, attempt to evade, or aid the evasion of US sanctions against Russia, as they are helping support Putin’s brutal war of choice”, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson said in a statement.

Ukraine ready to hold ‘special’ talks with Russia in Mariupol: Negotiator

Ukraine is ready to hold a “special round of negotiations” with Russia in the besieged city of Mariupol without any conditions, negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak has tweeted.

He said the talks could be “one on one. Two on two. To save our guys, [the far right] Azov [battalion]military, civilians, children, the living and the wounded”.

Another key Ukrainian negotiator, David Arakhamia, said on Telegram that he and Podolyak “are ready to arrive in Mariupol to hold talks with the Russian side on the evacuation of our military garrison and civilians”.

There was no immediate response from Russia to the proposal.

Russian armed forces will start taking deliveries of new missile: Report

Russia will start taking delivery of the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile this year once testing is complete, the Russian state TASS news agency has quoted the head of the Roscosmos space agency as saying.

Dmitry Rogozin said deliveries would start “in the autumn of this year”, it reported.

Russia said on Wednesday that it had conducted a first test launch of the missile.

US will be sending more weapons to Ukraine: White House

The US military will be delivering additional military equipment to Ukraine in the coming days, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said.

Five US cargo flights arrived in the region in the last few days and more than half a dozen are scheduled shortly, Psaki told reporters during a media briefing.

“We have been working with Ukrainians and the Ukrainian military to determine exactly the kind of security assistance they need for this stage in the war,” Psaki said. “That has included an increase – as you’ve seen – in artillery and ammunition. “

The Biden administration will be announcing more weapons transfers soon, she added, without providing more details.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Wednesday, April 20 here.


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