- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia’s widely anticipated military offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun.
- Officials in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions say eight civilians have been killed in Russian attacks.
- Ukraine says up to 30 percent of Ukraine’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.
- White House says US President Joe Biden will convene a meeting of allies to discuss the Ukraine conflict on Tuesday.
- The governor of Russia’s Belgorod says shelling from the Ukrainian side has injured one person and caused “destruction”.
Here are all the latest updates:
Russia ‘attacked 1,260 targets in Ukraine overnight’
Russia’s defence ministry says Russian missile and artillery forces struck 1,260 targets in Ukraine overnight.
Russian anti-aircraft forces also downed a Ukrainian MiG-29 jet in the Donetsk region, the ministry said.
China-Russia cooperation is resilient: Diplomat
China has told Russia it will continue to increase “strategic coordination” with it regardless of international volatility, according to a foreign ministry statement.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng gave this assurance to Russian ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, on Monday, the statement said.
Le cited the almost 30 percent increase in China-Russia trade in the first three months of this year as evidence of “resilience and endogenous power” of the cooperation between the two countries, according to the statement.
UK unlikely to get involved in prisoner swap
A British minister has said that the United Kingdom is not going to be looking at how to help Russia when asked about the prospect of swapping a pro-Russian politician from Ukraine for two British fighters who were captured in the country by Russian forces.
The Britons appeared on Russian state TV on Monday and asked to be exchanged for Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is being held by the Ukrainian authorities.
Asked on Sky News whether a possible swap was something the government would get involved with, the UK’s Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis said: “We’re actually going through the process of sanctioning people who are close to Putin regime, we’re not going to be looking at how we can help Russia.”
Lewis said he did not want to comment on the specific situation of the two men, Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin.
“We always have responsibility for British citizens, which we take seriously. We’ve got to get the balance right in Ukraine and that’s why I say to anybody: do not travel illegally to Ukraine,” Lewis said.
US seeks to seize Russian billionaire-linked superyacht in Fiji
The US is seeking to seize a superyacht suspected of belonging to a Russian oligarch that is currently docked in Fiji, according to an application for a restraining order filed by the Pacific nation’s public prosecutor.
The luxury vessel, the Amadea, is widely believed to be owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, sanctioned by the US and European Union.
The vessel arrived in Fiji a week ago after leaving Mexico 18 days earlier and crossing the Pacific.
Russian shelling prevents humanitarian corridors: Official
Continued Russian shelling means agreed humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens out of Mariupol will not open, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.
“Intense shelling continues in the Donbas. In Mariupol, the Russians refuse to provide a corridor for the exit of civilians in the direction of Berdyansk,” Vereshchuk said.
Ukrainian mayor describes ‘hard’ interrogation by Russian captors
The mayor of the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol has described hours of “hard” interrogations when held for almost a week by Russian forces last month.
“It was a dangerous six days because I understood that for Russians my life and the lives of civilians were worth zero,” Ivan Fedorov told Reuters in Rome on Sunday, a month after his release.
“They came to me at night with five or seven soldiers and spoke for about four or five hours, hard dialogue,” Fedorov said in an interview. “They wanted to make an example of me about what would happen if we did not agree to what the Russians wanted.”
Fedorov was released as part of a prisoner exchange with Kyiv.
Japan to send gas masks and hazmat suits to Ukraine
Japan will send gas masks, hazmat suits and drones to Ukraine amid growing concern about the use of chemical weapons by the Russian military.
Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said Japan is sending the anti-chemical-warfare equipment at the request of the Ukrainian government.
Japan last month provided bulletproof vests, helmets and other nonlethal arms equipment to Ukraine as an exception to Tokyo’s ban on arms exports to countries in conflict. The shipment has raised controversy in Japan, whose pacifist constitution renounces war.
IMF, World Bank leaders discuss food crisis
Leaders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are meeting in Washington, DC to grapple with how Russia’s war on Ukraine is affecting food insecurity and prices.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will convene a Tuesday morning meeting with leaders from the IMF, World Bank, Group of Seven and Group of 20 global organisations to “call on international financial institutions to accelerate and deepen their response” to countries affected by food issues exacerbated by Russia’s aggression, the Treasury Department said.
Russia focused on breaking defence lines in Donetsk, Luhansk: Military
Russia continues its offensive in the east “to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk” regions, as well as to maintain a land corridor with the temporarily occupied Crimea, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has said.
“The main efforts of the enemy are focused on breaking through the defence of Ukrainian troops in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, as well as establishing full control over the city of Mariupol,” the military said in a Facebook post.
In the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the military said it repulsed seven enemy attacks, destroyed 10 tanks, 18 armoured units and eight vehicles and one artillery system.
Russia’s Belgorod attacked from Ukraine: Governor
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region says one person has been wounded in shelling originating from “the Ukrainian side”.
“There was shelling from the Ukrainian side of the [Russian] village of Golovchino, Graivoronsky district,” Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram. “There is destruction. I will give more detailed information later.”
Earlier in April, Gladkov had accused Ukraine of attacking and setting fire to an oil depot in the region, which injured eight people.
Ukraine has denied responsibility for the attack.
Biden to meet ‘allies’ on Ukraine
The US president will convene a meeting of allies to discuss the Ukraine conflict Tuesday, the White House said, after Kyiv announced Russia had launched a new offensive in the east of the country.
An official told the AFP news agency that the meeting “is part of our regular coordination with allies and partners in support of Ukraine”, without naming who would be included on the video call.
The White House said the meeting would also cover “efforts to hold Russia accountable”.
Explosions heard in Mykolaiv
Air raid sirens have been activated in the Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, with several reports of explosions heard.
“All under cover!” Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych wrote on Facebook about an hour ago.
He had posted similar alerts throughout the night.
On Monday afternoon, Sienkevych wrote that Russian missiles had hit three homes.
“Two of them can’t be restored anymore. It’s only a miracle that none of the residents received serious damage. Most people were evacuated before this hit,” he wrote.
Russia has forcibly removed 40,000 civilians from Mariupol: Mayor
Mariupol’s mayor says about 40,000 civilians had been forcibly moved to Russia or Russian-controlled regions of Ukraine.
“Unfortunately I have to declare that as of today they are forcibly deporting” residents, Vadym Boychenko told Ukrainian television. “We have verified through the municipal register that they have already deported over 40,000 people.”
Al Jazeera has not been able to verify this claim. Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.
Russia unlikely to be more successful in east Ukraine than before: Think tank
Russia’s eastern offensive is unlikely to be “dramatically more successful” than previous campaigns, but “Russian forces may be able to wear down Ukrainian defenders or achieve limited gains”, the Institute for the Study of War has said.
The US-based institute’s latest report noted Russia’s forces did not take the necessary operational pause to reconstitute and properly integrate damaged units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine into its eastern operation.
“Russian forces withdrawn from around Kyiv and going back to fight in Donbas have, at best, been patched up and filled out with soldiers from other damaged units,” the report said. Its military “has few, if any, cohesive units not previously deployed to Ukraine to funnel into new operations”, it added.
‘Whole of Europe less secure’: Moldovan foreign minister
Moldova’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu has told his US counterpart that “everyone in Europe feels less secure than just two months ago”.
Popescu made these comments before his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, DC. The foreign ministers discussed Moldova’s democratic reforms and its response to the refugee crisis stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Blinken said Moldova’s humanitarian response to the refugees was “extraordinary”. The UN estimates Moldova has taken more than 400,000 refugees from Ukraine since the start of the invasion. It also estimates refugees now represent close to 4 per cent of Moldova’s population.
Secretary Blinken emphasised the US would continue to assist Moldova in addressing the economic impacts of the crisis and advancing democratic reforms.
Pleased to relaunch the U.S.-Moldova Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister @nicupopescu @StateDept today. I emphasized the United States’ support for Moldova’s reform agenda and its efforts to address the humanitarian and economic impacts of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) April 18, 2022
Nearly one-third of Ukraine’s infrastructure damaged: Official
Russia’s invasion has damaged or destroyed up to 30 per cent of Ukraine’s infrastructure at a cost of $100bn, a Ukrainian minister has said.
Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told Reuters the war had affected “20 to 30 per cent of all infrastructure with varying degrees of damage, with different levels of destruction”.
Kubrakov said more than 300 bridges on national roads had been destroyed or damaged, more than 8,000km of roads had to be repaired or rebuilt and dozens of railway bridges had been blown up. He added everything could be rebuilt in two years “if everyone works quickly”.
Ukraine takes back areas around Izyum in Kharkiv region
Ukraine says its military has taken back several settlements around the strategically positioned city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region, the state news agency Ukrinform reports.
“A number of settlements have been liberated by the Ukrainian military as a result of intense hostilities,” Ukrainian defence ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzianyk said.
Izyum’s strategic position as a gateway to the Donbas has seen Russian troops concentrating in the area. “They will try to start an offensive on the east, particularly from there,” Motuzianyk said.
President Zelenskyy said Russia’s feared eastern offensive has begun.
EU membership integral part of Ukraine’s future: Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s membership in the European Union is integral to the “strategic vision” for its post-war reconstruction, Zelenskyy said in his nighttime address.
He confirmed reports yesterday that Ukraine had completed the questionnaire that is the starting point for the EU to decide on membership for Kyiv.
“Each country that joined the European Union went through the same procedure with the questionnaire. The only difference is that it took them years, and we completed it in a little more than a week,” Zelenskyy said.
“We will provide the second part of the answers shortly. And we hope that Europe’s decision in response will be quick,” he added.
UN confirms 4,890 civilian casualties in Ukraine
The UN human rights body has confirmed 4,890 civilian casualties in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.
The latest figures from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) show 2,072 people have been killed and 2,818 injured.
“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” the OHCHR statement said, adding the actual casualty figures are “considerably higher”.
Turkey’s Erdogan urges negotiations to end conflict
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged dialogue to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, saying he believes “that a peaceful solution can be found through dialogue based on protecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty”.
“We will keep working to bring the negotiations in Istanbul to a successful outcome that will satisfy the parties and the international community,” Erdogan tweeted.
The UN’s aid chief, Martin Griffiths, said earlier that he would travel to Turkey this week to discuss with Erdogan and other officials the prospects of hosting humanitarian talks between Ukraine and Russia.
I believe that a peaceful solution can be found through dialogue based on protecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
We will keep working to bring the negotiations in Istanbul to a successful outcome that will satisfy the parties and the international community.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) April 18, 2022
New images provide clues to fate of Russia’s flagship Moskva
There are still conflicting accounts about what happened to the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, which sank late last week.
Ukraine says its missiles hit the warship, but Russia maintains it sank while being towed away after a fire on board.
Here, Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull examines images that may provide some answers:
Ukraine hit by ‘most intensive’ Russian attacks in weeks: EU official
The EU’s foreign policy chief has said Ukraine is being hit by “the most intensive [Russian] missile attacks” in weeks, notably in the Luhansk region.
Josep Borrell said major cities such as Kharkiv are being attacked “indiscriminately” while shelling in Lviv and other areas in western Ukraine “show that no part of the country is spared from the Kremlin’s onslaught”.
“The EU actively supports the work of the International Criminal Court and measures to ensure accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. There can be no impunity for war crimes,” Borell said in a statement released before Ukraine said Russia’s large offensive in the east had begun.
‘We will defend ourselves’: Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s president has remained defiant, vowing that Ukrainian troops will fight back against Russia’s offensive in the country’s east.
“No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves,” Zelenskyy said, as he confirmed that Moscow’s push had begun.
Biden has ‘no plans’ to visit Kyiv: White House
US President Joe Biden is not planning to visit Kyiv, despite Ukraine’s Zelenskyy urging him to demonstrate US support by travelling to the capital, the White House has said.
“There [are] no plans for the president to go. Let me just reiterate that,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
A string of European leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, have made the trip to Kyiv and met with the Ukrainian president.
Russian media narrative shifts to highlight struggle with NATO: Analyst
Donnacha O Beachain, professor at Dublin City University, says Russian state media’s narrative on the war in Ukraine is changing.
“There’s a large amount of discussion now on Russian state media about why this war is taking so long,” said O Beachain, who specialises in Russian history.
What Russian authorities have called a “special military operation” in Ukraine has now dragged on for nearly two months and is being framed as “a proxy war between Russia and NATO” in which “Russia itself is in danger”, he told Al Jazeera.
US treasury secretary to meet Ukraine’s prime minister
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal during this week’s big meetings of global economic leaders in Washington, DC.
The war in Ukraine will take centre stage at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings. On Tuesday, Yellen will convene a panel of finance ministers, the international development banks and other institutions to talk about how to use resources to address food insecurity.
Experts have raised concerns about global food shortages, as Kyiv and Moscow are important food suppliers.
Situation getting ‘worse and worse’ in Kharkiv: Resident
Denys Ganzha, a member of a youth advisory council to Ukraine’s president, says the situation in the eastern city of Kharkiv is worsening, as residents brace for Russia’s new offensive.
“For today, it was recommended to stay indoors for the whole day,” Ganzha told Al Jazeera from a shelter in the city where he is staying. Very few people were in the streets and businesses were closed, he said.
“But I’m telling you, the people here they [have found] ways to make sure that they continue their lives, that they help the army, that they help other people,” Ganzha said.
Russia ‘confident’ it is close to gaining full control of Mariupol: Correspondent
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, says there have been reports of scattered civilian deaths and attacks in the country’s east as the Russian forces’ offensive gets under way.
“Now we’ve had this official announcement from the president himself … saying that the battle of Donbas has started,” said Stratford, adding that “we have seen what can only be described as an escalation” in Kharkiv and other areas.
“There have been increasing claims over the last few days or so by the Russians that the Ukrainians have no chance left in Mariupol … There is fighting going on there, but we understand that the Russians are pretty confident that they are close to full control of that city.”
Mariupol’s city council said earlier that at least 1,000 civilians – mostly women, children and the elderly – were hiding in underground shelters beneath the vast Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city.
Top US official travelling to Brussels will discuss Ukraine with EU allies
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to the Belgian capital this week for joint US-EU meetings on China and the Indo-Pacific region, the State Department has said.
Sherman will also meet with Washington’s NATO and EU allies in Brussels “to discuss our continued close coordination on Putin’s war of choice against Ukraine and other global issues”, the department said in a statement.
France’s Macron says talks with Putin stalled after atrocities discovered
French President Emmanuel Macron says dialogue with his Russian counterpart Putin has stalled after mass killings were discovered in Ukraine.
“Since the massacres we have discovered in Bucha and in other towns, the war has taken a different turn, so I did not speak to him again directly since, but I don’t rule out doing so in the future,” Macron told France 5 television.
Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine, but images of bodies lining the streets of Bucha and other towns near the capital Kyiv after Russian troops withdrew from the region drew global condemnation.
Zelenskyy speaks to leaders of Croatia, Bulgaria
Ukraine’s president says he discussed “problems of navigation in the Black Sea” in talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
“Thanked for supporting Ukraine, in particular our accession to the #EU, as well as for a strong position regarding sanctions on Russia,” Zelenskyy tweeted.
He said in a separate tweet that he also spoke to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, thanking him for “important defensive assistance” to Ukraine.
Held talks with 🇧🇬 Prime Minister @KirilPetkov. Discussed problems of navigation in the Black Sea. Thanked for supporting Ukraine, in particular our accession to the #EU, as well as for a strong position regarding sanctions on Russia.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 18, 2022
Fifth shipment of US military aid expected to arrive in Ukraine
The White House says four planes have delivered US military assistance to Ukraine over the course of the weekend, and a fifth was due to arrive.
“Another one is supposed to arrive today, if it hasn’t already, from the $800m package” of additional American aid to Kyiv announced last week, said Psaki, the White House spokeswoman.
Read more about what’s in that US military package here.
US considering additional sanctions on Russia
The Biden administration is continuing “to review and consider additional sanctions” against Russia.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said existing US measures have led to a “squeeze” on the Russian economy that Biden and senior administration officials had intended.
“We are continuing to review and I expect we’ll have more in the coming days,” she told reporters.
Several dead in shelling in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk regions: Officials
Russian shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has killed four people, Governor Pavlo Kirilenko said on his Telegram channel.
Four other people also died as they tried to escape the city of Kreminna in the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai, the governor, said on Telegram. Russian forces had earlier captured Kreminna.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the reports.
‘Battle of the Donbas’ has started, says Ukraine’s Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s president says Russian forces have launched their assault on the eastern Donbas region.
“We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
Earlier, the chief of staff to Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram that the “second phase of the war has started” and assured Ukrainians that the country’s forces could hold off the Russians.
“Believe in our army, it is very strong,” Andriy Yermak wrote.
US to begin training Ukrainians on howitzer cannons
The United States plans to begin training Ukrainians on how to operate howitzer artillery systems in the coming days, according to a senior defence official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the howitzer training would take place outside Ukraine.
The Biden administration recently announced a new $800m weapons package for Ukraine to help the country bolster its defences against an expected Russian offensive in the east. Read more here.
Ukraine says it has seen signs Russian offensive in east has begun
Ukraine’s armed forces command says it believes Russia started a new push for control of the east on Monday, increasing the intensity of attacks.
“This morning [Monday], along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the occupiers attempted to break through our defences,” Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said in televised comments.
That was echoed by the governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Gaidai. “It’s hell. The offensive has begun, the one we’ve been talking about for weeks. There’s constant fighting in Rubizhne and Popasna, fighting in other peaceful cities,” he said on Facebook.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Monday, April 18 here.