Thick clouds of smoke after the rocket attacks on Odessa
While Ukraine claimed to have regained control of all areas around Kyiv, the Russian withdrawal is said to have unearthed evidence of atrocities against civilians.
In Bucha, one of 30 towns and villages said to have been recaptured, the mayor said about 280 victims lay in mass graves, while journalists reported bodies still littered the streets.
As Russia regrouped for attacks farther east, rocket attacks could be heard in the key southern port city of Odessa on Sunday morning, with a regional official saying “critical infrastructure facilities” had been hit.
It comes after the Kremlin previously vowed to attack British arms shipped across the Ukrainian border after a Russian helicopter carrying a British-made missile was reportedly shot down.
Speaking about Britain’s supply of arms to the Ukrainian army, Moscow’s ambassador to London Andrei Kelin claimed such supplies would make the conflict “even bloodier”.
“Of course, if these supplies cross the Ukrainian border, our armed forces will consider them a legitimate target,” he told state news agency Tass.
According to the British Ministry of Defence, the Russian blockade is preventing supplies to Ukraine by sea
In its latest intelligence report, the British Ministry of Defense has said that Russian naval forces continue to block Ukraine’s Black Sea and Azov Sea coasts, preventing supplies by sea.
While Russia still retains the capability to attempt an amphibious assault, such an operation would pose an increasingly high risk given the time Ukraine has had to prepare for such an event, the Defense Ministry said.
It added that “reported mines in the Black Sea pose a serious risk to maritime activity,” showing how the Russian invasion is “affecting neutral and civilian interests.”
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 9:24 am
Russia says it hit oil refineries and fuel facilities in Odessa
Russia’s Defense Ministry said missile attacks by its military this morning destroyed an oil refinery and three fuel depots in Odessa.
The ministry said the facilities would be used by Ukraine to resupply its troops near the city of Mykolaiv.
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 9:05 am
‘At least five separate impact points’ in Odessa strikes, reporter says
ITV correspondent Richard Gaisford has released footage of the aftermath of the rocket attacks in Odessa and reports there were at least five different points of impact.
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 9:00 am
A local resident named Vika told Reuters it was not “a good morning for Odessa.”
“We woke up from strong explosions near our house. There was smoke, the kids were panicking, the windows were being blown in… it was terrifying,” she said, declining to give a last name.
She scoffed at the idea of ”Russian peace,” adding, “We are absolutely not happy that he has come and we ask that you leave.”
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 8:55 am
Evacuation attempts will continue today in Mariupol, says Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine
Work to evacuate people from Mariupol will continue today with the help of the Red Cross, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister said, with buses trying to approach the besieged city.
“Seven buses will try to get closer to Mariupol, accompanied by the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video message.
17 buses will be ready to evacuate people from Mariupol and Berdyansk, she said.
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 8:53 am
Thick plumes of smoke from rockets hit Odessa
Here are some images from Odessa this morning, where rocket attacks were reported and a city official said “critical infrastructure facilities” were hit.
The images confirmed previous reports and showed a thick plume of smoke visible from across the city.
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 8:29 am
The peace talks have not progressed far enough for a meeting of the heads of state, says Russia
Russia’s chief negotiator has contradicted his Ukrainian counterpart by saying that peace talks are not advanced enough for a heads of state meeting, leaving Moscow’s position on the status of Crimea and Donbas unchanged.
“The draft agreement is not ready to be presented to a top-level meeting,” Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky told Telegram. “I keep repeating: Russia’s position on Crimea and Donbass remains UNCHANGED.”
Ukraine has started to show a more realistic approach to peace talks, Mr Medinsky said, claiming Ukraine has agreed to be neutral, not to have nuclear weapons, not to join a military bloc and to refuse to host military bases.
But on the Crimea and Donbass issues, Medinsky noted that there had been no progress.
Mr Medinsky said he did not share the optimism of Ukraine’s chief negotiator, David Arakhamia, who told Ukrainian TV on Saturday that the draft treaty had advanced enough to allow for consultations between Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“Unfortunately, I don’t share Arakhamia’s optimism,” said Mr. Medinsky. “Moreover, Ukrainian diplomatic and military experts are lagging far behind in confirming even those agreements already reached at the political level on the draft text.”
Talks via video conference would continue on Monday, he said.
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 8:16 am
Civilian atrocities discovered near Kyiv after Russian retreat
When Ukraine said its forces had recaptured all areas around Kyiv, the mayor of a liberated city said 300 residents had been killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army, while the victims were seen in a mass grave and still on the streets lay.
Ukrainian forces have retaken more than 30 towns and villages around Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since the start of the Russian invasion.
In Bucha, a neighboring town of Irpin, just 23 miles northwest of the capital, Reuters journalists reported seeing bodies lying in the streets and the hands and feet of several bodies sticking out of a still-open grave in a church compound.
Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said more than 300 residents had been killed, while many residents were reportedly tearfully commemorating deaths and cursing the Russians who died.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she was appalled by the atrocities in the city and called for the International Criminal Court to investigate possible war crimes.
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 07:39
Reports indicate that “critical infrastructure” in Odessa has been hit by rocket attacks
There were more reports of rocket attacks in Odessa, including from official channels.
The city council said rockets hit the southern port city in the early hours of Sunday and regional administration spokesman Sergey Bratchuk told the Ukrainian public broadcaster that one of the city’s “critical infrastructure facilities” had been hit.
“We hope there will be no casualties,” Mr Bratchuk said.
Washington Post reporter Isabelle Kurshudyan suspected a fuel depot had been hit, while an Agence-France Press journalist said the blasts were followed by at least three thick columns of smoke and flames that were visible in an apparent industrial area.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, wrote on Telegram that “Odessa was attacked from the air” and claimed some “were shot down by air defenses.”
Andy GregoryApril 3, 2022 07:22
Russia vows to target British arms in Ukraine as it accuses Britain of escalating war
Russia has vowed to attack British arms shipped to Ukraine after one of its helicopters was reportedly shot down by a British-made missile.
Andrey Kelin, Moscow’s ambassador in London, claimed Britain’s decision to send arms supplies to the Ukrainian army made the war “even bloodier”.
They are also following British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace’s pledge to send more lethal aid to Kyiv.
my colleague Chiara Giordano Reports:
Emily AtkinsonApril 3, 2022 6:00 am