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🔴 Live: Over two dozen killed as Russia strikes cities across Ukraine
Russia attacked cities across Ukraine early on Friday, killing at least 25 people, according to local officials. Ukraine said it downed 21 Russian missiles and two attack drones overnight. Meanwhile a deal on Ukrainian food exports transiting across EU countries has been reached. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
8:38pm: Russian strikes leave 25 dead including children
Russian strikes battered cities across Ukraine on Friday, killing 25 people including five children, as Kyiv said preparations for a counter-offensive against Moscow’s forces were nearly complete.
The deadly new attacks included a strike on a residential block in the historic city of Uman in central Ukraine, where AFP journalists saw rescue workers extracting victims’ remains from destroyed buildings.
7:33pm: European Commission says five nations reach deal on Ukraine food exports
Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have agreed a deal to allow the transit of Ukrainian food exports, the European Commission said Friday, after temporary bans were imposed on the foodstuffs amid farmer protests.
“(The) EU Commission has reached an agreement in principle with Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia regarding Ukraine agri-food products,” EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis tweeted. “We have acted to address concerns of both farmers in neighbouring EU countries and Ukraine.”
🤝WE HAVE A DEAL🤝@EU_Commission has reached an agreement in principle with Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania & Slovakia regarding #Ukraine agri-food products.
We have acted to address concerns of both farmers in neighbouring EU countries and Ukraine 🇪🇺🇺🇦 – with @jwojc
— Valdis Dombrovskis (@VDombrovskis) April 28, 2023
7:16pm: Air alerts called off in Ukraine, Kyiv says
Ukraine canceled a series of air alerts that were issued for much of eastern and southern Ukraine and some central regions on Friday in the wake of earlier Russian missile strikes that killed 24 people, authorities said.
5:54pm: Zelensky sought help from China’s Xi to bring Ukraine’s children back home frm Russia children
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday that he asked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to help bring back the Ukrainian children taken by Russia.
“We need to involve everyone… to put pressure on the Russian aggressor and the terrorists who kidnapped so many of our children,” Zelensky said. “The UN, many others want to do something, but so far the results have been poor. So I have appealed to the leader of China.”
5:35pm: Air alerts sound in Ukraine after Russian strikes
Air alerts were issued for much of eastern and southern Ukraine and some central regions on Friday, with officials appealing to residents not to ignore the warnings.
“Do not ignore the alerts,” Andriy Yermak, head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said on the Telegram messaging app hours after deadly Russian missile strikes earlier on Friday.
5:29pm: Russia exempts “friendly” countries from oil sales ban
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree exempting so-called “friendly” countries from his ban on Russian oil exports to nations supporting Ukraine, according to the government’s website.
China and India, for example, now buy more Russian oil than they did before the war.
5:22pm: Death toll in Ukraine missile and drone attacks up to 22
Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 22 people, almost all of them when two missiles slammed into an apartment building in a terrifying nighttime attack, officials said. Three children were among the dead.
The missile attacks included the first one against Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in nearly two months, although there were no reports of any targets hit. The city government said Ukraine’s air force intercepted 11 cruise missiles and two unmanned aerial vehicles over Kyiv.
4:33pm: India and Russia to bolster defence ties, government says
India and Russia agreed to strengthen their defence partnership in talks between their defence ministers on Friday, the Indian government said, amid worries in New Delhi that the war in Ukraine was hurting its own military supplies from Moscow.
“They acknowledged the unique, long-lasting and time-tested relationship between India and Russia,” the statement said.
4:23pm: Russia to repair power line connected to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Russia has informed the UN nuclear watchdog that equipment spotted at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russia controls, will be used to fix a power transmission line that leads to Russian-held territory, the watchdog said on Friday.
The planned restoration of the downed power line may heighten Ukrainian fears that Russia is preparing to connect Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, to Russia’s power grid.
A small number of International Atomic Energy Agency officials are present at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), which is operated by Ukrainian staff working under the orders of Russian forces and the Russian nuclear company Rosatom.
3:52pm: Russia grants citizenship to Ukrainians in controlled territory
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a decree that gives people living in parts of Ukraine under Moscow’s control a path to Russian citizenship but means those who decline or who do not legalise their status face potential deportation.
The decree extends to four Ukrainian regions which Russia has claimed as its own and partially controls: Donetsk,
Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. Kyiv says it will retake all four areas and has accused Moscow of trying to browbeat its citizens into accepting Russian citizenship.
The new decree sets out ways that Ukrainian citizens or those holding passports issued by Russia-backed breakaway republics, and who live in the four regions, can start the process of becoming Russian citizens or legalise their status with the Russian authorities.
3:17pm: Over dozen dead after strikes on Ukraine
Russian strikes battered cities across Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 19 people as Kyiv said preparations for a highly anticipated offensive against Moscow’s forces were nearly complete.
The barrage of almost two dozen missiles overnight ended a weeks-long pause following the repeated Russian strikes that had aimed to paralyse Ukraine’s energy grid during the winter months.
These deadly new attacks included a strike on a residential block in Uman, central Ukraine, where AFP journalists saw rescue workers extracting victims’ remains from destroyed buildings.
3:13pm: Spain summons Russian ambassador over misinformation
Spain said Friday that it summoned the Russian ambassador over a fake video shared on its social media accounts showig Spanish soldiers on the battlefield in Ukraine, according to Spanish media reports.
Spain’s foreign ministry demanded the “immediate” removal of the video and summoned Russia’s ambassador to Spain “to protest the attacks using social media against the government,” a ministry spokesman told AFP.
2:58pm: UN expresses concerns overs Russian human rights violations
A United Nations committee said on Friday it was deeply concerned about human rights violations by Russian forces and private military companies in Ukraine, including enforced disappearances, torture, rape and extrajudicial executions.
In its findings on Russia, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the Russian authorities to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed during the invasion of Ukraine.
“The Committee was deeply concerned about the grave human rights violations committed during the ongoing armed conflict by the Russian Federation’s military forces and private military companies …,” it said in a statement.
1:10pm: Russia-installed Donetsk mayor says seven killed after Ukraine’s artillery hits minibus in Donbas city
The Russian-installed mayor of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk said on Friday in a statement posted on Telegram that seven people were killed when Ukrainian shelling hit a minibus in the city.
Reuters was unable to immediately verify the report.
1:05pm: Ukraine ready for counteroffensive, defence minister says
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Friday that his military was ready as preparations for a highly-anticipated offensive against Russian positions were drawing to a close.
“Preparations are coming to an end. In addition to being provided a weapon, it must be mastered. Equipment has been promised, prepared and partially delivered. In a global sense, we’re ready,” he told reporters in Kyiv.
12:45pm: Russian strikes death toll rise to 16
Russian strikes across Ukraine on early Friday killed at least 16 people. These deadly new attacks included a strike on a residential block in Uman, central Ukraine, where AFP journalists saw rescue workers extracting victims’ remains from destroyed buildings. Rescuers were using cranes to search for survivors among the remains of the multi-storey housing block in the central city of 80,000 inhabitants.
Ukraine’s interior minister said 14 people had been killed in Uman, with two 10-year-old children among the dead. Regional governor Igor Taburets said the city was hit by two cruise missiles, with one hitting a residential building and the other a warehouse.
Russian missiles also hit the central city of Dnipro: “A young woman and a 3-year-old child died,” the city’s mayor, Borys Filatov, said Friday on Telegram.
12:35pm: Russian deputy PM says visited Ukraine’s destroyed Bakhmut, vowed to rebuild
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said Friday he had paid a rare visit to the destroyed city of Bakhmut in east Ukraine and vowed Moscow would rebuild the city.
“I visited Artemovsk,” Khusnullin said on Telegram using the Russian name for Bakhmut, adding: “The city is damaged, but it can be restored. We have the experience needed. As soon as the operational situation allows, we will go in and work, step by step.”
9:35am: Death toll from air strikes rises to 12, officials say
At least 12 people died in the first large-scale Russia air strikes in nearly two months in the early morning hours of Friday, as Kyiv prepares to launch a counteroffensive to try to retake Russian-occupied territory.
In the central city of Uman, firefighters battled a raging blaze at a residential apartment building that had been struck on an upper floor. At least 10 people were killed and 17 wounded there, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.
In the southeastern city of Dnipro, a missile struck a house, killing a 2-year-old child and a 31-year-old woman, regional governor Serhiy Lysak said. Three people were also wounded in the attack.
“Since early February, the general feeling is that Russian attempts to damage infrastructure were winding down, with Ukraine going through the winter with a series of very large scale attacks on power stations,” among others, FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports from Mykolaiv. “We don’t really know the reason why these particular cities and buildings were hit,” he added.
8:50am: Ukraine downed 21 Russian missiles, 2 drones overnight, defence ministry says
Ukraine said Friday it had downed a barrage of 21 Russian missiles and two attack drones overnight in Moscow’s most recent deadly wave of strikes targeting cities across the country.
“Ukrainian air defenders shot down 21 of 23 missiles and 2 drones,” the defence ministry said in a statement, referring to Russia as a “terrorist state” that had launched the munitions from Tu-95 strategic bombers.
06:48pm: Russian attacks across Ukraine death toll rises to five
As Russia attacked cities in a wide arc across Ukraine early on Friday, extending from the capital Kyiv, three people were killed and eight wounded when a missile hit an apartment building in the central town of Uman, setting it ablaze, said Ihor Taburets, head of the military administration in the area, raising the death toll to five.
Kyiv was also rocked by explosions and air raid sirens and explosions were reported across the country, according to the Interfax Ukraine and reports on social media channels. There were no details on what had been struck in Kyiv or of any damage and casualties. The city’s military administration said anti-aircraft units were in operation.
Interfax said explosions were also reported after midnight in Dnipro, Kremenchuk and Poltava in central Ukraine and in Mykolaiv in the south.
05:30am: At least two killed in attack on Dnipro
“A young woman and a three-year-old child have been killed,” Borys Filatov, mayor of the central city of Dnipro, said on Telegram. Filatov gave no further details.
Pictures on social media showed an apartment building ablaze in the central town of Uman.
Kyiv was also rocked by explosions and air raid sirens and explosions were reported across the country, according to the Interfax Ukraine and reports on social media channels.
There were no details on what had been struck in Kyiv or of any damage and casualties. The city’s military administration said anti-aircraft units were in operation.
Interfax said explosions were also reported after midnight in Dnipro, Kremenchuk and Poltava in central Ukraine and in Mykolaiv in the south.
Interfax quoted accounts on the Telegram message service as saying unidentified airborne objects were also headed for the west of the country.
04:10am: Explosions reported in Kyiv
Explosions resounded in Kyiv and the region surrounding the capital early on Friday, Interfax Ukraine and local telegram channels reported.
There were no details on which targets had been struck after midnight or of damage and casualties. The city’s military administration said anti-aircraft units were in operation.
Earlier reports said cities stretching from central Ukraine to southern Mykolaiv Region had been hit by explosions after air raid alerts were declared throughout the country.
9:32pm: Russia’s forced transfer of Ukraine children ‘genocide’, Council of Europe says
Russia’s forced transfer of Ukrainian children amounts to genocide, the Council of Europe said Thursday in a resolution adopted by its parliamentary assembly.
Calling for the safe return of the children to Ukraine, the parliament said “the documented evidence of this practice matches with the international definition of genocide”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the resolution as an “important” decision that will help “hold Russia and its leaders to account”.
The deportation of Ukrainian children is one element of “Russia’s attempt to erase the identity of our people, to destroy the very essence of the Ukrainian people”, he said in his evening address.
7:25pm: Basketball star Griner urges US detainees in Russia to ‘stay strong’
WNBA superstar Brittney Griner urged US detainees in Russia to “stay strong, keep fighting, don’t give up” on Thursday in her first press conference since being released as part of a prisoner swap last year.
Speaking in Arizona as she prepares to resume her career with the Phoenix Mercury, Griner vowed to keep fighting on behalf of people wrongfully detained around the world.
Asked what her message would be for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and US citizen Paul Whelan, both held in Russia, Griner replied: “I would say to everyone that’s wrongfully detained right across the world: ‘Stay strong, keep fighting, don’t give up’.
“Just keep waking up. Find a little routine and stick to the routine as best as you can. That’s what helped me,” she said.
3:14pm: Ukraine ask Pope’s help in getting children back from Russia
Ukraine’s prime minister said he asked Pope Francis during a private Vatican audience Thursday to help facilitate the return of Ukrainian children who were forcibly taken to Russia.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, briefing reporters on his half-hour audience with the pontiff, said he also invited Francis to come to Ukraine.
“I asked His Holiness to help us return home Ukrainians, Ukrainian children who are detained, arrested, and criminally deported to Russia,” Shmyhal said.
The Vatican’s brief statement on the audience did not go into particular points of the talks. It noted that Shmyhal met with the Holy See’s secretary of state and foreign minister after his meeting with Francis
2:54pm: Russia’s Prigozhin denies suspending artillery fire in Bakhmut
The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said on Thursday he had been joking when he said his men would suspend artillery fire in Bakhmut to allow Ukrainian forces on the other side of the frontline to show the city to visiting US journalists.
Wagner has been spearheading Russia’s assault on Bakhmut since last summer in the longest and bloodiest battle of the war, but Ukrainian forces have so far thwarted its attempts to take full control of the city.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s founder, said in an audio message published on Thursday by his press service: “A decision has been taken to suspend artillery fire so that American journalists can safely film Bakhmut and go home.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
© France Médias Monde graphic studio
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