The city of Kramatorsk seems empty. Only a few supermarkets, restaurants and hotels are still open. The windows along the main streets are boarded up. Many residents have left their buildings to settle in houses in neighboring villages, where they believe it will be safer.
The few locals walking around behave as if they couldn’t hear the sirens wailing and seem unflinching to the occasional thunder of incoming shells.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is entering a new phase centered on the Donbass region to the east, and most of its citizens are taking no chances. Regional mayors told the Observer they estimate around 70% of the population has left since the Russian offensive began in February.
Ukrainian-controlled Donbass is surrounded by Russian forces from the north, east and south. Ukrainian authorities believe Russian forces are aiming to encircle the territory by cutting off their supply lines from the west.
Russian-backed forces have held about a third of the region since 2014. Russia had hoped and perhaps anticipated that its attempts to gain more territory would be popular with the predominantly Russian-speaking population. But eight years of conflict, and especially the last eight weeks, have taken their toll.
Thank you all for following, I will now hand over the blog to my colleague Tom Ambrose in London.
A missile attack in the early hours of Sunday damaged infrastructure in the town of Brovary, near Ukraine‘s capital of kyiv, Igor Sapozhko, Mayor of Brovary said in an online message.
There were no details on the extent of the destruction and potential casualties.
Ukrainians teach in a war zone: bombed schools, evacuations and board games
Yulia Kuryliuk, a teacher in a village near Lviv, woke up on February 24 to find her country at war and gathered her sixth-grade class on Zoom. Two children tearfully asked when the fighting would end. She didn’t have an answer, but she guided her students through breathing exercises to manage anxiety and encouraged them to hug a parent, pet or stuffed animal for comfort.
With Ukraine’s education system disrupted by war, teachers are helping to provide stability for their students, as well as other forms of emergency support such as evacuation and humanitarian aid. While the Ministry of Education and Science declared a two-week break after the start of the large-scale invasion of Russia, classes have now resumed where possible, although they are frequently interrupted. by the howl of air raid sirens.
‘I really feel lost but not alone’: A Kherson mother’s diary of fleeing a war zone
Olha spent weeks under Russian occupation in his hometown of Kherson in southern Ukraine. Now she tells her story of fleeing violence and traveling through Europe with two children and a cat in tow.
Groups of people who wanted to leave Kherson appeared on Telegram. People shared information and exchanged ideas. The first message in our group of everyone who had escaped came from a girl called Alinka. Her boyfriend took her along a country road. It gave us a glimmer of hope.
Russia’s demand that Ukrainian forces in Mariupol surrender at 3 a.m. GMT passed with no immediate sign of a response, as Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that peace talks would be abandoned if the city‘s remaining defenders were killed.
As air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine, including in the Kyiv region, early Sunday, Russia said its troops had cleared most of the beleaguered city, with only a small contingent of Ukrainian fighters left. remaining in the giant Azovstal steelworks in the southeastern port. , as missiles hit kyiv and other cities.
If it falls, it would be Russia’s first major city seizure.
The Ukrainian president said in a video address: “The situation in Mariupol remains as serious as possible. Just inhuman… Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone there. He added: “The elimination of our troops, of our men [in Mariupol] will end all negotiations,” and called on the West to immediately provide heavy weapons.
As life seemed to be slowly returning to the streets of kyiv, a new series of Russian airstrikes came as a reminder this weekend that the war in the Ukrainian capital is far from over.
After two weeks of relative calm, Russian forces on Friday destroyed a factory believed to have produced one of the missiles used to sink the warship Moskva in the Black Sea. The attack was the Kremlin’s most significant revenge strike after the sinking of the Russian flagship.
Then, on Saturday, Russian rockets reportedly hit a military hardware factory in the capital’s Darnytskyi district. “They’re making us pay for destroying the Moskva,” said 47-year-old Andrei Sizov, owner of a nearby carpentry shop.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who met Vladimir Putin last week in Moscow – the first European leader to do so since the invasion began on February 24 – said the Russian president was “in his own logic of war” on Ukraine.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Nehammer said he thinks Putin believes he’s winning the war and “we have to look him in the eye and we have to confront him with that, this that we see in Ukraine.”
Nehammer said he confronted Putin with what he saw during a visit to the kyiv suburb of Bucha, where more than 350 bodies were found along with evidence of murder and torture under Russian occupation, and “It was not a friendly conversation”.
The latest intelligence update from the UK Government this morning states:
- Russian forces continue to redeploy combat and support equipment from Belarus to eastern Ukraine. This includes locations near Kharkiv and Severdonetsk.
- Russian artillery continues to hit Ukrainian positions throughout the east of the country where Russia plans to renew its offensive activity
- Although Russia’s operational priority has shifted to eastern Ukraine, Russia’s ultimate objective remains the same. He pledged to force Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation and assert its own regional dominance
Russia told Ukrainian forces fighting in Mariupol to lay down their arms on Sunday morning to save their lives, but there were noto immediate activity reports two hours after the ultimatum takes effect at 3 a.m. GMT in the strategic southeastern port.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that it had virtually taken control of Mariupol, except for a few Ukrainian defenders who remained at a steel mill, but this claim could not be independently verified. It would be the first major city to fall to Russian forces since the invasion which began on February 24
For a complete visual guide to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, look no further than this excellent interactive article prepared by my colleagues earlier this week.
Hello from Delhi and Happy Easter to those celebrating. Hannah Ellis-Petersen here on the live blog for the next few hours following developments in Ukraine. Here is a summary of today’s events so far:
- The 3am GMT deadline set by Moscow for Ukrainian soldiers in the besieged city of Mariupol to ‘surrender or die’ has passed, with neither the Ukrainian or Russian sides yet to report whether the city is fully under control Russian. On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had cleared urban areas of Ukrainian forces and the remaining defenders were trapped in a steel mill.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the situation in Mariupol “inhumane” and called on the West to prove more weapons. “The successes of our military on the battlefield are truly significant, historically significant. But they are still not enough to cleanse our land of occupiers,” he said.
- Russian forces have renewed missile strikes on kyiv and stepped up shelling of Kharkiv, in an apparent strategy to hamper Ukraine’s defenses ahead of a planned large-scale Russian assault in the east. Explosions were heard in the early hours of Sunday in Kyiv. Russia had warned that it would intensify its missile bombardments after the sinking of its battleship Moskva.
- Russian air defense units reportedly shot down a military transport plane carrying Western weapons outside Odessa.
- The Ukrainian president has warned that the world “must be prepared” for the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons. On Saturday, the mayor of Trostianets, a town in the Sumy region of northern Ukraine, said authorities had found chemical weapons remnants including Sarin in the village of Bilka, which had been occupied by the Russians. The allegation has not been verified.
- The Russian Foreign Ministry has barred Johnson and other politicians and members of the British government from entering the country in response to “hostile action” by the government, including sanctions. The Kremlin has said it will expand restrictions on British politicians due to what it calls a “surge of anti-Russian hysteria”.