Western weaponry, like the Swedish shoulder-launched weapon system pictured above, seems to play a central role in Ukraine's defense

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated Berlin’s support to Kyiv after Ukraine rejected a visit by President Steinmeier. Meanwhile, the OSCE says Russia “likely” committed crimes against humanity. DW has the latest.

  • US President Joe Biden accuses Russian forces of ‘genocide’ in Ukraine
  • Zelenskyy says not possible to determine if Russia used chemical weapons in Mariupol
  • Ukraine says its too dangerous for humanitarian corridors
  • Polish, Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian leaders in Kyiv to meet Zelenskyy
  • Scholz says Ukraine’s Steinmeier snub ‘irksome,’ insists Berlin will support Kyiv still

This article was last updated at 15:38 UTC/GMT

US appeals to China to help end Russia’s ‘heinous war’ in Ukraine

Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen appealed to China and other countries to help end Russia’s “heinous war” in Ukraine. She also warned that those who seek to undermine Western sanctions would face consequences.

In particular, she “fervently” hoped that China would make something positive out of its “special relationship” with Russia and said Beijing’s standing in the world would suffer if it fails to do so.

According to Yellen, China cannot expect the global community to respect any future appeals on sovereignty and territorial integrity if it fails to respect these principles in Ukraine “now when it counts.”

Yellen said that the Biden administration was resolute in its commitment to hold Russia accountable for its “horrific conduct” and its violations of international law.

“Rest assured, until Putin ends his heinous war of choice, the Biden administration will work with our partners to push Russia further toward economic, financial, and strategic isolation,” she said.

US Treasury Secretary warned those countries that were still “sitting on the fence, perhaps seeing an opportunity to gain by preserving their relationship with Russia and backfilling the void left by others” that their motivations were short-sighted.

“The future of our international order, both for peaceful security and economic prosperity, is at stake,” Yellen said. “And let’s be clear, the unified coalition… will not be indifferent to actions that undermine the sanctions we’ve put in place.”

OSCE: Russia ‘likely’ committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine

Russian troops likely committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, according to a report commissioned by the 45-member Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Three OSCE experts did not pass a final judgment on whether crimes against humanity had been committed. However, they noted that certain patterns of Russian violence “are likely to meet this qualification.” These included targeted killings and abductions of civilians, including journalists and officials.

By standard definition, widespread or systematic attacks against civilians are considered crimes against humanity.

According to the report, Russian units at least clearly violated their duties to protect civilians.

Meanwhile, the EU said its officials are set to help Ukraine investigate and prosecute war crimes committed during the Russian invasion.

EU officials in Ukraine will provide investigators with training and strategic advice to hold those responsible accountable “in accordance with international law,” the bloc said in a statement.

The European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine (EUAM Ukraine) will also assist the International Criminal Court in its investigation, as well as other EU member states taking part in the probe.

Czech Republic reopens embassy in Kyiv

The Czech Foreign Ministry announced that it has reponed its embassy in Kyiv on Wednesday and the staff have returned to the Ukrainian capital.

“It is one of many steps expressing our support for Ukraine. Czechia has and always will stand behind Ukraine,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Czech Republic had moved its embassy staff to safety immediately after the Russian invasion began on February 24.

Scholz: Germany to deliver more arms to Ukraine

“Germany has made a decisive decision here to deliver weapons [to Ukraine]. We deliver, we have delivered and we will deliver,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told German public radio RBB.

His remarks came after Ukraine rejected a proposed visit by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Scholz said the snub was “irksome.”

“It would have been good to receive him,” he told RBB.

Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued another appeal for the West to send Ukraine more weapons.

“Ukraine needs weapon supplies. We need heavy artillery, armored vehicles, air defense systems and combat aircraft — anything to repel Russian forces and stop their war crimes,” he said in a video statement.

Berlin had initially been against sending weapons to Kyiv, but Germany shifted its stance amid pressure and further apparent atrocities reported in Ukraine.

Scholz did not specify what type of weapons, or how much, Germany would send. But Germany’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht recently said Berlin was not providing such details to the public as per Ukraine’s request.

Kremlin is not interested in the exchange of Medvedchuk

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia is not interested in the exchange of pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, after weeks of being on the run.

“Medvedchuk is not a Russian citizen, he is a foreign politician. We do not know at all whether he himself wants some kind of Russian participation in his fate,” Peskov said.

However, the Kremlin speaker admitted that Russia would undoubtedly follow the fate of Medvedchuk.

The politician previously served as a chairman of the pro-Kremlin political party Opposition Platform for Life, and his daughter is Putin’s godchild.

Ukrainian authorities put Medvedchuk under house arrest last May on suspicion of treason. But this February, officials said Medvedchuk had fled.

France’s Le Pen wants closer NATO-Russia ties after war

French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said there should be a “strategic rapprochement” between NATO and Russia once the war launched by Moscow against Ukraine has ended.

“It is in the interest of France and Europe, but also I believe the United States, which has… no interest in seeing the emergence of a close Sino-Russian union,” she said.

Le Pen is facing President Emmanuel Macron in the run-off presidential election on April 24.

Kremlin: Biden’s accusation ‘unacceptable’

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed US President Joe Biden for accusing Russia of committing a “genocide” in Ukraine.

“We categorically disagree and consider unacceptable any attempt to distort the situation in this way, especially since it is hardly acceptable for the president of the United States,” Peskov told reporters.

Peskov went on to say that the US is a “country that has committed well-known deeds in modern and recent history.”

EU to send another €500 million in military help for Ukraine: Borrell

The European Union member states agreed to send another €500 million in military aid for Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced.

Borrell said the EU must increase military support to Ukraine as Russia gears up for a new offensive in the country’s east. He added that “the next weeks will be decisive.”

It is the third package of military aid the EU has agreed to send to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. In total, the EU has sent €1.5 billion ($1.39 billion) in military assistance.

The presidents of Poland and three Baltic states are in Ukraine

The presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have arrived in Ukraine and are visiting one of the cities devastated during the Russian occupation.

“Our goal is to support President Zelenskyy and the defenders of Ukraine at a decisive moment for this country,” the Office of the Polish President Andrzej Duda quoted him as saying on Twitter.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the leaders visited Borodyanka, the small city near Kyiv.

“This is where the dark side of humankind has shown its face. Brutal war crimes committed by the Russian army will not stay unpunished. War criminals must be prosecuted internationally,” he wrote on Twitter.

The presidents of the four countries are set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv later on Wednesday.

Over 1,500 Russian soldiers in Dnipro morgues — official

Deputy Mayor of the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, Mykhailo Lysenko said that the remains of more than 1,500 Russian soldiers were being kept in city morgues. Speaking on Ukrainian television, he expressed hope that “some of the Russian mothers will come and pick up their sons.”

“Now there are more than 1,500 dead Russian soldiers in the morgues of Dnipro that no one wants to retrieve,” Lysenko said, adding that he doesn’t want cremate the corpses or bury them in mass graves.

Earlier in April, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that Russia has suffered significant losses in Ukraine. However, he did not tell the actual numbers. In late March, Russia said it had lost 1,351 soldiers with another 3,825 wounded.

Finland to decide on possible NATO membership ‘within weeks’

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Wednesday that she expected lawmakers in Helsinki to reach a decision on possible NATO membership “within weeks.

“Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Marin said: “I think it will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months.”

NATO membership is also being discussed by Sweden since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. You can read the full story here.

Zelenskyy calls on EU to get Russia to stop deporting Ukrainians

Addressing the parliament of Estonia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of using terror tactics against civilians. He said that the European Union has to find the instruments needed to pressure Russia into stopping forced deportations of Ukrainians.

“Until Russia returns forcibly deported Ukrainians, until it returns thousands of stolen children, it must not receive any money from European states and companies. The European Union has no right to sponsor deportations,” Zelenskyy said.

According to him, more than 500,000 Ukrainians have been forcibly displaced by Russian invaders.

Zelenskyy also called for sanctions on Russia to continue, saying they were the only way to get Russia to agree to peace.

Speaking to Estonian lawmakers, Ukrainian president thanked Estonia for the military support and for assisting Ukrainian refugees and abandoning Russian energy.

The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are set to meet with Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Russian involvement in Good Friday proceedings slammed

The Vatican has been criticized by Ukrainian Catholic leaders over the decision to have Russians take part in the “Way of the Cross” procession on Friday, in light of the ongoing invasion.

“I consider such an idea inopportune, ambiguous, and such that it does not take into account the context of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine,” said the head of Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk.

The Vatican decided to have a Russian woman and a Ukrainian woman carry the cross together during a Good Friday procession, presided over by Pope Francis.

Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest who is also a close to the pontiff, defended the move.

“You have to understand one thing,” Spadaro told Italian radio station RAI on Wednesday. “He’s a pastor, not a politician.”

Spadaro suggested that the image of a Russian and Ukrainian bearing the cross was upsetting because the two women represented something that could not be achieved right now, which was peace.

Macron declines to repeat Biden’s ‘genocide’ accusation

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that US President Joe Biden’s accusation that Russia was engaged in “genocide” in Ukraine would not help end the war.

On Tuesday, Biden accused Russian forces of committing genocide in Ukraine.  He said it has “become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.”

On France 2, ahead of France’s run-off presidential election against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, Macron urged caution with language.

While Macron called Russia’s invasion “the most brutal war,” Macron said, “I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace. I’m not sure that verbal escalations serve this cause.”

He added being “careful” was the best course because “the Ukrainians and Russians are brotherly peoples.”

Macron has maintained contact with the Kremlin throughout the war. Last month, he also distanced himself from Biden’s remarks when the US president called Putin a “butcher.”

Russia reports the surrender of Ukrainian marines in Mariupol

Russia’s Ministry of Defense has reported that 1,026 Ukrainian marines in Mariupol have surrendered. Moscow said 162 officers and 47 female personnel were among them, as well as 151 wounded who received medical treatment.

Ukrainian troops have been hunkered down in the besieged city for weeks, and said earlier this week that they were running low on ammunition and food.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense is yet to comment on the reported surrender.

However, presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych did say, without directly commenting on the supposed surrender, that elements of the 36th Marine Brigade had managed to link up with Ukrainian forces elsewhere in the city in what he called a “risky maneuver.”

It was not immediately possible to verify either side’s claims.

7 reported killed, 22 wounded in shelling in Kharkiv

The regional governor of Kharkiv, Oleh Synegubov, said at least seven had been killed and 22 were wounded in shelling in the northeastern region of Kharkiv during the course of Tuesday.

Synegubov said a two-year-old boy was among those killed by the more than 50 rocket and artillery strikes carried out by Russian forces across Kharkiv region.

Ukraine says too dangerous for humanitarian corridors on Wednesday

No humanitarian corridors to help Ukrainians flee to safety are planned for Wednesday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reported.

According to her, Russian troops were blocking buses in the Zaporizhzhia region and the ceasefire was not being observed in the Luhansk region. Vereshchuk said that a combination Russia’s “disregard” for norms of international law, coupled with difficulties controlling its ground forces, “creates such a level of danger on the routes” that they could not be opened.

However, almost simultaneously, the governor of the part of Luhansk still controlled by Ukraine, Serhiy Gaidai, urged the residents of several cities in his region to evacuate.

“Routes have been changed to take into account the safety factor. Decisions should be made as soon as possible. The situation is extremely aggravated,” he wrote on Facebook.

Yesterday the government in Kyiv said that 2,671 people had used humanitarian corridors to flee Mariupol, the Zaporizhzhia region and the Luhansk region.

Presidents of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania to meet Zelenskyy

Polish president Andrzej Duda, along with Estonian President Alar Karis, Latvian President Egils Levits, and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda are on their way to Kyiv, and will be meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday.

“Our countries are showing support to Ukraine and President Zelenskyy in this way,” Jakub Kumoch, Duda’s adviser said on Twitter.

The four leaders departed from the city of Rzeszow in southeastern Poland, close to the Ukrainian border.

UK says Russia trying to centralize command

British military intelligence said on Wednesday that Russia’s appointment of Army General Alexander Dvornikov as commander of the Ukraine war could mean the country is trying to centralize command and control.

“Dvornikov’s selection further demonstrates how determined Ukrainian resistance and ineffective pre-war planning have forced Russia to reassess its operations,” a statement by the UK’s Ministry of Defence on Twitter said.

Britain also said Russian messaging has recently emphasized progressing offensives in the Donbas as Russian forces refocus eastwards.

The 60-year-old Dvornikov is one of Russia’s most experienced officers, and has led the country’s campaign in Syria. In 2016, Putin awarded him the Hero of Russia medal, and named him the chief of the Southern Military District, commanding units in southwestern Russia near the Ukrainian border.

Russia to sell oil to ‘friendly countries in any price range’

Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov told Russia’s Izvestia newspaper Moscow is ready to sell oil and oil products to “friendly countries in any price range.”

Shulginov said it would be difficult to predict possible price levels “especially given the unconstructive behavior of Western politicians.”

The minister said that oil prices in the range of $80-$150 (€74-€139) per barrel were “possible in principle.” He added that Moscow’s task was not to guess oil prices, but to “ensure the functioning of the oil industry” in Russia.

Benchmark crude Brent oil closed at $104.93 (€96.48) per barrel on Tuesday.

Biden accuses Putin of ‘genocide’

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Americans’ ability to pay for gasoline should not hinge on whether “a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away.”

Biden went on to say that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to “wipe out the idea of even being a Ukrainian.”

After being pressed on his use of the term by reporters, Biden clarified that it will be up to lawyers to determine whether Russia’s actions in Ukraine would qualify as “genocide.” He added that the evidence against Russia was “mounting.”

Under international law, genocide is defined as an intent to destroy — in whole or in part — a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

Since the end of the Cold War, the US State Department has formally used the term “genocide” seven times.

The massacres in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq and Darfur; the Islamic State’s attacks on Yazidis and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, China’s treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, and the Myanmar army’s persecution of the Rohingya minority have also been described as genocide by the US.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy: not possible to determine if Russia used chemical weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that it was not possible to draw firm conclusions about whether Russian forces had used chemical weapons in the besieged southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Ukraine’s president added that it was not possible to conduct a full investigation in Mariupol.

In an address early on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said that the West needed to act now to prevent Russia from deploying chemical weapons.

Zelenskyy also proposed swapping politician and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk for prisoners of war held by Russian forces. Zelenskyy posted a picture of Medvedchuk in handcuffs on Tuesday.

US to announce $750 million in weapons to Ukraine

Two US officials told Reuters that the US government is expected to announce another $750 million (€692 million) in military assistance for Ukraine.

The announcement is expected to be made as soon as Wednesday, the officials said.

The equipment would be funded using Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows US presidents to transfer articles and services from US stocks without approval from Congress.

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Tuesday

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was “concerned” by unconfirmed reports that chemical agents might have been used in Mariupol.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy published a photo of businessman Viktor Medvedchuk in handcuffs.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Berlin Andrij Melnyk urged Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz to visit the Eastern European country.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin restated his claims that the invasion of Ukraine was still on track.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk said 2,671 people have been evacuated to safety on Tuesday.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, set to face off against Emmanuel Macron in the April 24 runoff vote, said she would block EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas.

Ukrainian officials said they were “very lucky” to avert a cyberattack that would leave two million people without electricity.

fb, sdi, tg, kb/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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