Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered its second month, with casualties mounting on both sides.
Ukraine’s forces continue to resist, while its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more to help. Governments around the globe have imposed heavy sanctions against Moscow but have stopped short of direct intervention for fear of sparking a wider conflict.
Meanwhile, rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets are rocking Asia.
For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
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Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.
Here are the latest developments:
Tuesday, April 19 (Tokyo time)
7:00 a.m. Russian forces have begun the “Battle of Donbas,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, after senior officials say Moscow had launched a new offensive push along most of Ukraine’s eastern flank.
“A very large part of the entire Russian army is now focused on this offensive,” Zelenskyy says.
“No matter how many Russian troops they send there, we will fight,” he says. “We will defend ourselves.”
3:12 a.m. At least 1,000 civilians — mostly women, children and the elderly — are hiding in underground shelters beneath the vast Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the city council says, adding that Russia is dropping heavy bombs onto the Ukrainian-held factory in the besieged port city.
Street battles have occurred in Mariupol over the past week as Russian forces seek to take full control of the city from Ukraine.
Monday, April 18
10:29 p.m. Two British fighters captured in Ukraine by Russian forces appear on Russian state TV, asking to be exchanged for a Ukrainian ally of President Vladimir Putin who is being held by Ukrainian authorities.
It was unclear how freely the two men were able to talk. Both spoke separately after being prompted by an unidentified man. The Putin ally, pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, was shown asking to be swapped in a video released around the same time by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service via social media.
5:44 p.m. Russia’s Central Bank should be able to lower its key rate faster and create conditions for more affordable loans, Governor Elvira Nabiullina says. The central bank more than doubled its key interest rate to 20% when Russia was hit by international sanctions after sending its forces into Ukraine in February, but then cut it this month to 17%, flagging a challenging economic environment and a slowdown in inflation.
5:30 p.m. Russia says it has launched mass strikes overnight on the Ukrainian military and associated military targets, using its air force, missile forces, artillery and air defense systems to hit hundreds of targets across its southern neighbor. The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that air-launched missiles had destroyed 16 Ukrainian military facilities overnight, including five command posts, a fuel depot and three ammunition warehouses, as well as Ukrainian armor and forces. It said those strikes took place in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, and that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where it said Ukrainian forces and armor were concentrated.
4:44 p.m. Japan marine transport company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines says it will stop arranging a spot shipment of Russian coal. The company is also planning not to hire any more Russian sailors in the short term. Toshiaki Tanaka, executive officer of the company, told reporters that most Russian coal shipments are contracted on a short-term basis and spot shipment deals are decreasing among Japanese customers.
4:20 p.m. Six people were killed and eight wounded in a missile strike on the western Ukraine city of Lviv on Monday morning, regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy says. Three missiles hit military infrastructure while one struck a car tire replacement facility, he said.
3:20 p.m. The mayor of the western Ukraine city of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, says on Facebook that five missiles struck the city and that emergency services were responding to the attack. He said more details would follow. Witnesses said multiple explosions believed to be caused by missiles struck the city early Monday as the country braces for an all-out Russian assault in the east, the Associated Press reported. Lviv and the rest of western Ukraine have been less affected by the fighting than other parts of the country, and the city was considered to be a relatively safe haven.
8:57 a.m. Ukraine has completed a questionnaire which will mark a starting point for the European Union to decide on membership for Kyiv, says Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed the questionnaire to Zelenskyy during her visit to Kyiv on April 8, pledging a speedier start to Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the EU following Russia’s invasion of the country. “Today, I can say that the document has been completed by the Ukrainian side,” Zhovkva told the Ukrainian public broadcaster on Sunday evening. The EC will need to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s compliance with necessary membership criteria, he added.
4:24 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he discussed the country’s financial stability and postwar reconstruction with Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
“We have clear plans for now, as well as a vision of prospects,” Zelenskyy says in a tweet. “I’m sure cooperation between the IMF & Ukraine will continue to be fruitful.”
Sunday, April 17
11:30 p.m. Remaining Ukrainian forces in the southern port of Mariupol are still fighting and continue to defy a Russian demand that they surrender, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says.
“The city still has not fallen,” Shmyhal tells ABC’s “This Week” program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continue to control some parts of the city. Russia gave Ukrainian soldiers in the city an ultimatum on Sunday to lay down their arms, Reuters reports.
Saturday, April 16
11:29 p.m. Russian air raids and missile strikes hit Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities as Moscow launches more long-range attacks following the sinking of its Black Sea Fleet’s flagship. Moscow says its warplanes had struck a tank repair factory in Kyiv. An explosion was heard and smoke seen in the southeastern Darnytskyi district. The mayor said at least one person had died and medics were fighting to save others.
In the besieged port of Mariupol, scene of the war’s heaviest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe, Russian troops press their advances, hoping to make up for their failure to capture Kyiv by seizing their first big prize of the war.
10:15 p.m. Russia bars entry for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and 10 other British government members and politicians, Reuters reports. The move was taken “in view of the unprecedented hostile action by the British government, in particular the imposition of sanctions against senior Russian officials,” the Russian Foreign Ministry says, adding that it will expand the list.
5:30 p.m. The dramatic sinking of Russia’s guided missile cruiser Moskva — the flagship of its Black Sea fleet — on Thursday was followed by a U.S. defense official telling reporters that Moscow immediately moved its four to five remaining ships in those waters south, farther from Ukraine.
These rapid developments put the spotlight once again on Turkey, which sits across the Black Sea and controls the maritime passage between those waters and the Mediterranean Sea. Read more.
1:03 p.m. Explosions were heard in the early hours on Saturday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the Western city of Lviv, according to local media reports. Air raid sirens sounded across much of Ukraine early on Saturday. The mayor of Kyiv said rescuers and medics were working at the site of a blast on the outskirts of the city.
9:44 a.m. Zelenskyy on Friday told CNN that between 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have died so far in the war with Russia and that another 10,000 have been wounded, but there was no count of civilian casualties. He told the U.S. TV network that 19,000 to 20,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the war. Moscow said last month that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded.
3:00 a.m. Two Ukrainian Neptune missiles hit the Russian flagship Moskva in the Black Sea, U.S. media report, quoting a senior defense official, providing the first American confirmation that the sinking of the Russian cruiser was the result of a Ukrainian strike.
The confirmation comes after Ukrainian forces said Thursday that they had attacked the cruiser Moskva. Russian officials claimed that the ship had experienced a fire. The Pentagon observed some Russian sailors evacuating the ship in lifeboats as the vessel burned.
Friday, April 15
11:00 p.m. Russia appears poised to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and escalate attacks across Ukraine’s southeast after bruising setbacks, including the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet.
The Russians are staging attack helicopters at the border with Ukraine and bringing in soldiers and artillery, the Pentagon says.
7:00 p.m. Russia has warned the U.S. of “unpredictable consequences” if Washington keeps arming Ukraine, The Washington Post reports. “We call on the United States and its allies to stop the irresponsible militarization of Ukraine, which implies unpredictable consequences for regional and international security,” the Post quoted Russia saying in a diplomatic note to the U.S.
5:30 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says it has struck a military target on the edge of Kyiv overnight with cruise missiles and promises more strikes against the Ukrainian capital in response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian targets. Russian forces have also taken full control of the Ilyich Steel Plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol, which has been encircled by Russian troops for weeks, the ministry says.
3:30 p.m. Russia could end up in default after trying to service its dollar bonds in rubles due to Western sanctions, Moody’s says. Russia made a payment due on April 4 on two sovereign bonds — maturing in 2022 and 2042 — in rubles rather than the dollars it was mandated to pay under the securities’ terms. Russia “therefore may be considered a default under Moody’s definition if not cured by 4 May, which is the end of the grace period,” Moody’s said in a statement. “The bond contracts have no provision for repayment in any other currency other than dollars.”
2:30 p.m. After Russia lost its Black Sea fleet flagship Moskva, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly address paid homage to all “those who halted the progress of the endless convoys of Russian military equipment … Those who showed that Russian ships can go … down to the bottom.”
9:30 a.m. Powerful explosions were heard in Kyiv early on Friday, and air raid sirens blared across Ukraine as residents braced for new Russian attacks after Moscow’s lead warship in the Black Sea sank following a fire. The explosions appeared to be among the most significant in Ukraine’s capital region since Russian troops pulled back from the area earlier this month in preparation for battles in the south and east. Ukraine claimed responsibility for sinking the Moskva, saying the Soviet-era flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet was struck by one of its missiles. The vessel sank late on Thursday as it was being towed to port, Russia’s defense ministry said.
8:00 a.m. A total of 2,557 people left Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says. Of them, 289 were able to flee the besieged southern port of Mariupol by providing their own transportation, according to a Vereshchuk social media post.
5:00 a.m. The Russian missile cruiser Moskva has sunk in the Black Sea, Russian media RIA and RT report, citing the Defense Ministry. The warship sank in stormy seas after suffering damage from an ammunition fire onboard, the reports say. The Ukrainian side claims to have struck the flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet off Odesa with Neptune anti-ship missiles.
3:33 a.m. France will move back its embassy in Ukraine to the capital Kyiv from the Western city of Lviv “very soon,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tells Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call. The embassy was moved to Lviv in early March as conditions worsened on the ground.
2:15 a.m. Over 400 Russian diplomats have been expelled from at least 20 countries over the invasion of Ukraine, as nations in Europe and beyond respond to reports of hundreds of civilian bodies left near Kyiv following a retreat by Russian forces.
In total, 443 diplomats had been or were set to be expelled as of April 8, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Forty-five were in neighboring Poland, more than in any other country. Slovakia has decided to kick out 38 Russian diplomats, while Slovenia moved to expel 33. Read more.
Thursday, April 14
11:50 p.m. President Vladimir Putin says Russian energy exports should be rerouted to Africa and Latin America amid a push to diversify supplies from the West.
New oil and gas pipelines could be constructed in the hydrocarbon fields in West and East Siberia, he added.
5:48 p.m. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, says that if Sweden and Finland join NATO, Russia will have to bolster its defenses in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons. “There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” he says. Medvedev, one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies, was the country’s president from 2008-2012.
3:50 p.m. Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Thursday to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol. Other evacuation routes are from Berdiansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar, and ones in the eastern Luhansk region will operate if occupying Russian forces stop their shelling, Vereshchuk added in a statement.
12:30 p.m. Russia says the flagship of its Black Sea fleet was seriously damaged and its crew evacuated following an explosion that a Ukrainian official said was the result of a missile strike. Russia’s defense ministry said a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser caused ammunition to blow up, Interfax news agency reported. It did not say what caused the fire but Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odesa, said the Moskva had been hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.
10:06 a.m. South Korea’s central bank raises its policy rate to the highest since August 2019 in an unexpected move, choosing not to wait for the formal appointment of a new governor before proceeding with its fight against surging inflation. Inflation in the country is expected to hold at decade-highs as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sends commodity prices soaring.
7:44 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden announces an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, expanding the scope of the systems provided to include heavy artillery ahead of a wider Russian assault expected in eastern Ukraine. The package, which brings the total military aid since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5 billion, includes artillery systems, artillery rounds, armored personnel carriers and unmanned coastal defense boats.
5:12 a.m. The presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Wednesday, calling for increased military support for Ukraine and for Russia to be held accountable for the actions of its troops on the ground. Before meeting Zelenskyy, the four presidents visited areas in the Kyiv region where hundreds of slain civilians have been discovered after the Russian withdrawal. Moscow has denied responsibility and dismissed allegations its troops committed war crimes there as fake news. “This is not war, this is terrorism,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda.
2:28 a.m. A “global cease-fire” in Ukraine does not seem possible at the moment, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells a news conference. But “lots of things” can be done to guarantee the evacuation of civilians from areas of fighting and to guarantee humanitarian access, Guterres adds.
1:10 a.m. Finland will decide whether to apply to join NATO in the next few weeks, not months, Prime Minister Sanna Marin says, underlining a shift in security perspectives since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Wednesday, April 13
9:51 p.m. Experts sent by member nations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Russia in Ukraine, an initial report by the mission says, citing failures to take necessary precautions, act proportionately or spare sites like schools and hospitals.
Despite Russian denials, the report says a March 9 attack on Mariupol Maternity House and Children’s Hospital was carried out by Russia and that those responsible committed a war crime. It also says the attack on Mariupol’s Drama Theater on March 16 in which 300 people were killed was a war crime.
7:08 p.m. Russia’s defense ministry says 1,026 soldiers of Ukraine’s 36th Marine Brigade, including 162 officers, have surrendered in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Encircled by Russian troops for weeks, Mariupol has seen the fiercest fighting and the most comprehensive destruction since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. The main port on the Sea of Azov is the biggest target in the eastern Donbas region that Moscow now calls the focus of its campaign. If captured, Mariupol will be the first major city to fall since the war began. Its capture will help secure a land passage between separatist-held eastern areas and Crimea which Russia annexed and seized in 2014.
1:27 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin said peace talks with Ukraine had hit a dead end. Addressing the war in public for the first time since Russian forces retreated from northern Ukraine after they were halted at the gates of Kyiv, Putin promised that Russia would achieve all of its “noble” aims in Ukraine. “We have again returned to a dead-end situation for us,” Putin, Russia’s paramount leader since 1999, told a news briefing.
11:24 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden said for the first time that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, a significant escalation of the president’s rhetoric. Biden used the term in a speech at an ethanol plant in Iowa and later stood by the description as he prepared to board Air Force One.
“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian, and the evidence is mounting,” Biden told reporters.
4:55 a.m. The World Bank is preparing a $1.5 billion support package for war-torn Ukraine and plans to aid developing countries struggling to keep up with surging food and energy prices, World Bank President David Malpass said.
“The World Bank was created in 1944 to help Europe rebuild after World War II. As we did then, we will be ready to help Ukraine with reconstruction when the time comes,” Malpass said. He added that the package was enabled by Monday’s approval of $1 billion in International Development Association (IDA) aid by donor and recipient countries, along with a $100 million IDA payment to neighboring Moldova.
4:20 a.m. Ukraine says it has captured Viktor Medvedchuk — a Ukrainian, pro-Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin — in a special forces operation.
12:30 a.m. The mayor of Mariupol says about 21,000 civilian residents of the port city had been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion according to latest estimates.
In televised comments, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said it had been difficult to calculate the exact number of casualties since street fighting had started.
Tuesday, April 12
6:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine will undoubtedly achieve what he said were its “noble” objectives. Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that said Moscow had no other choice but to launch a military operation to protect Russia, and that a clash with Ukraine’s anti-Russian forces had been inevitable. “Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin said of Russia’s military campaign.
4:30 p.m. The Russian defense ministry says that its missiles have destroyed ammunition depots in Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi and Kyiv regions. The ministry said Russian forces had struck an ammunition depot and hangar at the Starokostiantyniv air base in the Khmelnytskyi region, as well as an ammunition depot near Havrylivka north of the capital Kyiv.
4:00 p.m. All options would be on the table in response to any use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia, British armed forces minister James Heappey said. British Foreign Minister Liz Truss on Monday said the country was working with its partners to verify the details of reports Russian forces may have used chemical agents in an attack on Mariupol. “There are some things that are beyond the pale, and the use of chemical weapons will get a response and all options are on the table for what that response could be,” Heappey told Sky News on Tuesday.
2:20 p.m. Fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia continues to refocus its efforts there, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense tweeted in a regular bulletin. Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk, with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push toward Kramatorsk, British military intelligence said. The report also said Russian forces continue to withdraw from Belarus in order to redeploy in support of operations in eastern Ukraine.
11:14 a.m. The mayor of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol told The Associated Press that more than 10,000 civilians have died in the Russian siege of his city and that the death toll could surpass 20,000, with weeks of attacks and privation leaving bodies “carpeted through the streets.” Mayor Vadym Boychenko also accused Russian forces of having blocked humanitarian convoys from entering the city for weeks in an attempt to conceal the carnage there from the outside world.
11:00 a.m. Japan’s Cabinet has approved additional sanctions against Russia, freezing assets of 398 Russian individuals, including President Vladimir Putin’s daughters and the wife of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
10:05 a.m. Japan’s wholesale inflation remained near record-high levels in March as the Ukraine crisis and a weak yen pushed up the costs of fuel and raw materials, government data shows. The corporate goods price index, which measures the prices that companies charge each other for goods and services, rose 9.5% in March from a year earlier. That followed a revised 9.7% spike in February, which was the fastest pace on record. The March index, at 112.0, was the highest level since December 1982.
6:24 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video address late on Monday that Russia forces could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, but he did not say that chemical weapons have already been used. Unconfirmed reports earlier in the day had suggested that chemical weapons were used in the besieged southern port of Mariupol.
5:00 a.m. European Union officials discussing additional sanctions on Russia have failed to agree on a Russian oil embargo despite support from some countries.
Many of the ministers meeting in Luxembourg showed support for sanctions on Russian oil imports, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says. But for others, such a ban would constitute an “asymmetric shock,” he says. The bloc did agree to step up the delivery of weapons to Ukraine.
1:38 a.m. Axel Springer says it has hired the former Russian state TV worker who made international headlines last month by bursting onto her then-employer’s live newscast to protest the war.
Marina Ovsyannikova will report for the German company’s Welt brand as a freelance correspondent, including from Ukraine and Russia. She will write for the newspaper and regularly contribute to Welt news channel coverage, according to Axel Springer.
Ovsyannikova was fined 30,000 rubles ($373 at current rates) in mid-March and could still face further prosecution in Russia.
1:30 a.m. “This is not a friendly visit,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer says in a statement issued by his office about talks just outside Moscow with Vladimir Putin.
This marked the first meeting with the Russian president by a European Union leader since the invasion of Ukraine started more than six weeks ago.
Nehammer has expressed solidarity with Ukraine and denounced apparent Russian war crimes. His government last week ordered the expulsion of a total of four Russian Embassy and Russian Consulate personnel over conduct that has “not been in accordance with their diplomatic status” — generally a euphemism for spying.
For earlier updates, click here.
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