Ukraine vows to 'fight to the end' in Mariupol as Russian ultimatum expires

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·10-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Sunday that the strategic port city of Mariupol “has not fallen” and that the encircled forces defending the city from Russian attack will “fight to the end". Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had invited French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Ukraine to see for himself evidence that Russian forces have committed “genocide”. Read our live updates below to see how all the day's events unfolded.

11:15pm: Zelensky discusses post-war reconstruction with IMF managing director

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday he spoke with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva about Ukraine's financial stability and the country's post-war reconstruction.

"Discussed with IMF Managing Director Georgieva the issue of ensuring Ukraine's financial stability & preparations for post-war reconstruction. We have clear plans for now, as well as a vision of prospects. I’m sure cooperation between the IMF & Ukraine will continue to be fruitful," Zelensky said in a tweet.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said earlier he will attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington this week and will seek more financial assistance for Ukraine.

6:37pm: Zelensky says invited Macron to see evidence of 'genocide'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has invited his French counterpart to visit Ukraine to see for himself evidence that Russian forces have committed "genocide," a term President Emmanuel Macron has avoided.

“I talked to him yesterday,” Zelensky told CNN in an interview. “I just told him I want him to understand that this is not war, but nothing other than genocide. I invited him to come when he will have the opportunity. He'll come and see, and I'm sure he will understand.”

Zelensky said he also thought US President Joe Biden would come at some point, though White House officials have said there are no plans to do so. The Ukrainian leader said he believed Macron was shying away from using the term “genocide” -- a term Biden has now used regarding the war in Ukraine -- because he thinks it would hurt the chances for diplomatic engagement with Russia.

4:05pm: Ukrainian PM says remaining forces in Mariupol still fighting

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 said on Sunday.

“The city still has not fallen,” Shmyhal told ABC's ‘This Week’ program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continue to control some parts of the city.

3:20pm: Shelling kills five in Ukrainian city of Kharkiv: official

A series of strikes Sunday in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv in the north east of the war-scarred country left at least five dead and 13 injured, a regional health official told AFP.

Maksym Khaustov, the head of the Kharkiv region's health department, confirmed the deaths following a series of strikes that AFP journalists on the scene said had ignited fires throughout the city and torn roofs from buildings hit in the attacks.

1:44pm: Residents divided over possible Russian takeover in east Ukraine town

Russian soldiers are only around 10 kilometres away from the east Ukrainian town of Sviatohirsk, in north Donbas, reports FRANCE 24's Sinead McCausland.

Some Ukrainian residents think Sviatohirsk's beautiful monestary, which is under the jurisdiction of the Russian orthodox church, will protect the city from attack even though one Russian missile strike has already damaged the monument.

Others support a Russian invasion. "[Putin] is here to defend the Donbas," one resident told FRANCE 24.

12:55pm: Russia warns NATO activity in Arctic could cause 'unintended incidents'

Russia is worried about increased activity of NATO forces in the Arctic and sees risks of "unintended incidents" occurring in the region, TASS news agency cited Russian ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov as saying on Sunday.

In March, Finland and Sweden, which are both considering joining the U.S.-led military NATO alliance, conducted combined NATO military drills. The exercise was long planned, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 added intensity to the war game. Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a "special military operation".

"The recent increase in NATO's activity in the Arctic is a cause for concern. Another large-scale military exercise of the alliance was recently held in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region," Korchunov said.

According to Korchunov, such activity raises the risk of "unintended incidents", which, in addition to security risks, can also cause serious damage to the Arctic ecosystem.

He did not specify what type of incident he might be referring to.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined NATO then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a European exclave.

12:42pm: Pope says Ukraine has been 'dragged into' senseless war

Pope Francis, marking an "Easter of war," on Sunday urged leaders to hear the people's plea for peace in Ukraine and implicitly criticised Russia for dragging the country into a "cruel and senseless" conflict.

Speaking to some 50,000 people in St. Peter's Square for his twice yearly "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and world) address, Francis said Ukraine was "sorely tried by the violence and destruction of the cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged".

11:46am: Ukraine has asked the G7 for $50 billion in financial support, senior official says

Ukraine has asked G7 nations for $50 billion in financial support and is also considering issuing 0% coupon bonds to help it cover a war-linked budget deficit over the next six months, the president's economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said on Sunday.

Speaking on national television, Ustenko said these options were being actively discussed.

11:31am: Russia extends deadline for Mariupol soldiers to surrender

Russia has extended the deadline for soldiers in Mariupol to surrender from Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon.

"The situation remains extremely tense," FRANCE 24's Rob Parsons, reporting from Kyiv, said. "The Russians are tightening the noose around the defenders of the city almost on a daily basis."

Some 1,000 - 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers are holed up in a steel works to the east of the city.

10:34am: Russia takes credit for 'destroyed' military factory near Kyiv

Russia's defence ministry said Sunday it struck a military plant outside Kyiv, as Moscow intensifies its attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

"During the night, high-precision, air-launched missiles destroyed an ammunitions factory near the settlement of Brovary, Kyiv region," the ministry said in a statement on Telegram.

The mayor of Brovary Igor Sapozhko said that "some infrastructure objects were hit" in the early hours of Sunday morning.

An AFP journalist in Brovary did not witness any signs of destruction, smoke or fire.

In recent days, Russia has carried out several attacks on military plants in and outside Kyiv.

Last month, Russia said it was withdrawing troops from northern Ukraine -- including from around the capital -- to focus on gaining control of the eastern Donbas region.

10:03am: Pope expected to mention Ukraine in Easter blessing

Pope Francis is expected to mention Ukraine in his traditional Easter blessing on Sunday.

"The Pope has been very clear from the start. He has condemned the agression in Ukraine. It's very high on his agenda," said FRANCE 24's Seema Gupta, reporting from Rome.

In services earlier this weekend, the pontiff called for an "Easter ceasefire" in Ukraine.

09:55am: Civilian evacuations paused in east due to lack of agreement with Russia, says Ukraine

Ukraine said on Sunday it was pausing the evacuation of civilians from the war-scarred east of the country for a day because of a failure to agree terms with Russian forces.

"As of this morning, April 17, we have not been able to agree with the occupiers on a ceasefire on the evacuation routes. That is why, unfortunately, we are not opening humanitarian corridors today," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote in a statement on social media, referring to Moscow's forces.

09:41am: EU announces €50 million boost in humanitarian aid for people affected by war in Ukraine

The EU has announced plant to allocate a further €50 million in humanitarian aid to support people affected by Russia's war on Ukraine.

Of this, €45 million will go towards humanitarian projects in Ukraine and €5 million for Moldova, the EU said in a statement. This brings the EU's total humanitarian aid funding in response to the war to €143 million.

09:30am: Ukrainian minister for defence tweets Easter hope for peace

Ukrainian Defence Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has tweeted an Easter message saying he hopes for "light to prevail over darkness" in Ukraine.

08:34am: Missile attack causes damage in city near Kyiv, says mayor

A missile attack in early hours of Sunday damaged infrastructure in the city of Brovary, near Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, Igor Sapozhko, mayor of Brovary said in an online post.

There were no details on the extent of the destruction and potential casualties.

08:22am: UK says Russia committed to turning Ukraine away from the West

Russia is committed to compelling Ukraine to abandon its Euro-Atlantic orientation and asserting its own regional dominance, even as Moscow’s operational focus has shifted to the east of its neighbouring country, British military intelligence said on Sunday.

Russian forces were continuing to redeploy combat and support equipment from Belarus towards eastern Ukraine, including to locations close to Kharkiv and Severodonetsk, the UK Ministry of Defence tweeted in a regular bulletin.

Russian artillery continues to strike Ukrainian positions throughout the east of the country where Russia plans to renew its offensive activity, the bulletin added.

08:15am: No word from Mariupol as window to surrender nears closure

Russia on Saturday night issued Ukrainian troops in Mariupol with an ultimatum: surrender in the next seven hours or die. The seven-hour window to surrender is now nearing closure.

Remaining Ukrainian troops are holed up in the city's industrial steel making district, FRANCE 24's Leo McGuinn reports.

06:00am: Situation in Mariupol 'inhuman', Zelensky says

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in Mariupol is "inhuman" and called on the West to immediately provide heavy weapons, as Russia claimed it was in control of almost all of the strategic port city and urged its last defenders to surrender.

Moscow said Ukrainian forces in the city must lay down their arms by Sunday, after weeks of relative calm in the capital Kyiv were brought to an end by renewed Russian airstrikes.

Austria's chancellor, the first European leader to meet with Vladimir Putin in person since the invasion began, said he thought the Russian president "believes he is winning the war" in Ukraine.

But in the south, the devastated city of Mariupol has become a symbol of Ukraine's unexpectedly fierce resistance since Russian troops invaded the former Soviet state on February 24.

Moscow officials now say they are in full control there, though Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the city's fortress-like steelworks.

"The situation in Mariupol remains as severe as possible. Just inhuman," President Zelensky said in a video address.

"Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there."

05:56am: Blasts heard in Kyiv

Explosions were heard in the early hours on Sunday in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, local media reported.

Overnight, air raid sirens were going off over nearly all of Ukraine.

There was no official explanation for the explosions and Reuters could not immediately verify the reports. Russia has renewed its attack on the capital over the weekend and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has advised residents who fled the city earlier in the war not to return.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting