Russia-Ukraine latest updates: Deadly Russian strikes hit Odesa

Ukraine news from April 23: Russian forces fire at least six cruise missiles at the strategic Black Sea port.

People react as they arrive from Mykolayiv due to daily shelling, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine
Battles raged throughout eastern Ukraine on Saturday as advancing Russian forces met stiff resistance from Ukraine fighters [Igor Tkachenko/Reuters]
  • A series of cruise missile attacks killed at least eight people in Ukraine’s Odesa region, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.
  • Ukraine says Russian troops are trying to storm Mariupol steel plant where fighters and civilians are hunkered down.
  • Luhansk governor says two people killed by Russian shelling in the city of Popasna.
  • Russia admits one sailor killed and 27 missing after the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, sank last week.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says NATO must avoid a direct military confrontation with Russia that could lead to a third world war.
  • Zelenskyy says Ukraine’s allies are delivering the weapons it asked for to respond to Russia’s invasion.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Donbas DAY 59

Here are the latest updates:

This live blog is now closed, thank you for joining us. Follow our continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine here.

These were the updates on April 23:

Zelenskyy says eight people killed in Russian attacks on Odesa

Ukraine’s president says Russian missile attacks killed eight people in the city of Odesa, including a three-month-old child.

He fought back tears at one point during the news conference at a Kyiv metro station, saying he shared the pain of every Ukrainian who had lost children in Russia’s war.

A Ukraine official had earlier reported that five people were killed after Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at Odesa.

Six civilians killed in Russian attack in Ukraine’s Luhansk region: Governor

Six civilians have died in Russian shelling in the village of Girske in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, its governor said.

“The village of Girske suffered heavy Russian shelling the entire day,” Sergiy Gayday said on Telegram. “Six inhabitants of the village died.”

Zelenskyy slams UN chief’s plan to visit Moscow before Kyiv

President Zelenskyy criticised a decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to visit Moscow on Tuesday, before heading to Kyiv.

“It is simply wrong to go first to Russia and then to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy told reporters in the Ukraine capital. “There is no justice and no logic in this order,” he added.

“The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies in the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go first to Ukraine, to see the people there, the consequences of the occupation,” he said.

OSCE says monitors detained in eastern Ukraine

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says it is working to secure the release of a number of Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) members detained in eastern Ukraine.

“The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of SMM national mission members have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Luhansk. The OSCE is using all available channels to facilitate the release of its staff,” it said in response to a query, adding it was unable to give more details at this stage.

Zelenskyy says Russia could use a nuclear weapon

Ukraine’s president has said he thinks Russia could use a nuclear weapon, but that he does not want to believe that it would.

Foreign powers to back different Ukrainian regions under reconstruction plan: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy says foreign countries would sponsor different Ukrainian regions as part of a post-war reconstruction plan.

Future of peace talks in Turkey depends on Putin, Zelenskyy says

President Zelenskyy has said the likelihood of further peace talks with Russia in Turkey depends on Kremlin leader Putin, but that Kyiv wants substantive talks to happen.

Ukraine not ready to try to break Russia’s siege of Mariupol: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said Ukraine’s army is not ready to try to break through Russia’s siege of Mariupol by force, but that Kyiv has every right to do so.

He told a news conference in Kyiv that it was vital that he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks if Ukraine planned to resolve the war through diplomacy.

Top US diplomat, defence secretary to visit Kyiv on Sunday

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin will travel to Kyiv on Sunday and hold talks with Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian leader said.

He told a news conference in Kyiv that he would discuss the kinds of weapons that Ukraine needs to battle Russia’s invasion.

Turkey closes airspace to Russian planes flying to Syria: minister

Turkey has closed its airspace to Russian civilian and military planes flying to Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying on Saturday by local media.

“We closed the airspace to Russia’s military planes – and even civilian ones – flying to Syria.  They had until April, and we asked in March,” Turkish media quoted Cavusoglu as saying.

Russia says it destroyed Odesa terminal storing foreign weapons

Russia has used high precision missiles to destroy a logistics terminal in Odesa where a large number of weapons supplied by the United States and European nations were being stored, the defence ministry said.

In an online post, it also said Russian forces had killed up to 200 Ukrainian soldiers and destroyed more than 30 vehicles, some of them armoured.

UK confirms supply of vehicles, drones to Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Zelenskyy to confirm the United Kingdom will supply fresh weaponry to support Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s invasion.

“The Prime Minister confirmed that the UK is providing more defensive military aid, including protected mobility vehicles, drones and anti-tank weapons,” a readout of the call published by Johnson’s office said.

Ukraine shells crossing point in Russia: Governor

Ukraine forces have shelled a crossing point on Russian territory, causing a fire but no casualties, the governor of the region said.

An office of the Russian agriculture watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, caught fire after shelling, governor of the Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said on his Telegram account.

Trapped Mariupol civilians and fighters release desperate video

A video released by the Azov regiment of Ukraine’s National Guard – part of a group currently holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol – shows women and children sheltering underground with some hiding there in tunnels for up to two months.

“We want to see peaceful skies, we want to breathe in fresh air,” said one woman in the video.

A young girl says they have seen “neither the sky, nor the sun”. “We really want to get out of here safely so that no one gets hurt.”

Russian-speaking Latvians call Putin’s war ‘criminal’

Hundreds of protesters from Latvia’s sizeable Russian-speaking community have taken part in a large-scale demonstration in the Baltic nation’s capital, Riga, condemning Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.

Participants waved Ukrainian flags and posters with inscriptions such as “Stop the genocide in Ukraine” and “Complete Russian gas and oil embargo”. Organisers said the protest aimed to demonstrate that many of Latvia’s Russian speakers are not aligned with President Putin.

They called Moscow’s actions “criminal”. Ethnic Russians make up 25 percent of the 1.9 million population in Latvia, a former Soviet republic.

Ukraine president speaks with UK PM

President Zelenskyy has spoken with British PM Johnson about a “new phase” of military aid, including the provision of heavy weapons.

Speaking on national television, the president’s deputy chief of staff Andriy Sybiga said the pair also talked about further financial support for Ukraine on the call.

Missile attacks kill five in Odesa region

At least five people – including a three-month-old infant – were killed and 18 wounded in a series of missile attacks on Ukraine’s southern Black Sea port of Odesa.

A Ukraine official said Russian forces fired at least six cruise missiles at the city. Ukraine’s southern air command earlier said two missiles struck a military facility and two residential buildings in Odesa.

“Residents of the city heard explosions in different areas. Residential buildings were hit,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said.

Ukraine accuses Russia of thwarting new evacuation push from Mariupol

A new attempt to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from war-torn Mariupol has failed, an aide to the city’s mayor said on his Telegram channel, blaming Russian forces.

The official said 200 residents of Mariupol had gathered to be evacuated, but that the Russian military told them to disperse and warned of possible shelling.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for repeated failures to evacuate people from Mariupol.

Missile hits infrastructure of Odesa: City council

A missile struck infrastructure in the port city of Odesa, the local authorities have said in an online statement without giving further details.

“Odesa was hit by a missile strike. Infrastructure has been hit,” the statement said.

Russia to deploy Sarmat missiles by autumn

Russia says it plans to deploy its newly tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles, capable of mounting nuclear attacks against the US.

Sarmat is capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads and decoys, and of hitting targets thousands of kilometres away in the US or Europe.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Roscosmos space agency, the missiles would be deployed with a unit in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, 3,000km (1,860 miles) east of Moscow.

Read more here

Russia resumes offensive against Ukrainian forces in Azovstal

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych says Russian forces have resumed air raids and are trying to storm the Azovstal steelworks where Ukraine’s remaining forces in Mariupol are holding out.

“The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal area,” Arestovych said on national television.

Putin had ordered the Russian military not to storm the plant and instead to block it off in an apparent attempt to stifle the remaining pocket of resistance there. About 2,000 soldiers are inside the plant along with 1,000 civilians sheltering in the facility’s underground tunnels.

Ukrainian forces repel eight Russian attacks: Ukraine army

Ukraine says its forces repelled eight Russian attacks in the past 24 hours in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, destroying nine tanks, 18 armoured units and 13 vehicles, a tanker and three artillery systems.

Russian forces continue to partially block and shell Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and are active in the area of Izium, Ukraine’s army said in a Facebook post.

Ukrainian fighter jet shot down in Kharkiv region: Russia

Russia’s defence ministry says its forces had shot down a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet and destroyed three MI-8 helicopters at an airfield in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.

There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine regarding the Russian claims.

Ukraine says will try to evacuate Mariupol civilians from noon

Ukraine will make a new attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol at noon, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says.

“Today we will again try to evacuate women, children and the elderly,” Vereshchuk said on Telegram, calling for people to gather on the motorway close to the Port City shopping centre in the city.

“If everything happens as planned, we will start the evacuation around noon.”

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 59 April 23 6GMT

Russian shelling kills two in Popasna: Governor

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai says two people were killed by Russian shelling in the city of Popasna.

“In addition to the fact that street fighting continues in the city for several weeks, the Russian army constantly fires at multistory residential buildings and private houses. Just yesterday, local residents withstood five enemy artillery attacks … Not all survived,” Haidai said on the messaging app Telegram.

He added that some houses were also destroyed in Lysychansk and Novodruzhesk.

What is the US Magnitsky Act, and why does Putin hate it?

US will ‘absolutely’ reopen embassy in Kyiv at some point: Ukrainian PM

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says he expects the US to eventually reopen its embassy in Kyiv, but stopped short of predicting when that will happen.

“It will happen, absolutely, but we will wait,” Shmyhal told reporters at a conclusion of a visit to Washington, DC when asked whether he had received assurances from Washington that it would reopen its embassy.

The UK announced on Friday it would reopen its embassy in Kyiv next week, joining other European countries that have announced such plans after Russian forces withdrew from the country’s north in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance.

UK says Russia has made ‘no major gains’ in last 24 hours

The UK’s defence ministry has released its latest intelligence update on the war in Ukraine.

It says Russian forces have made “no major gains” in the past 24 hours “despite increased activity”.

The assessment also questions Russia’s claims that it has control of Mariupol.

“Heavy fighting continues to take place frustrating Russian attempts to capture the city further slowing their desired progress in the Donbas,” it said.

Zelenskyy says Russia has ambitions beyond Ukraine

Zelenskyy has used his nightly address to warn of Russian ambitions beyond Ukraine.

Referring to comments made by a senior Russian general saying that Moscow wants to control southern Ukraine to give it access to the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova, Zelenskyy said the statement showed Russia would invade other countries, too.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine was intended only as the beginning,” he said. “All nations that, like us, believe in the victory of life over death must fight with us. They have to help us, because we are the first on this path. Who is next?”

Moldova has already summoned the Russian ambassador over the comments, which were made by Major General Rustam Minnekaev who is deputy commander of Russia’s central military district.

Read more on the Russian-backed region of Transnistria here.

UN chief to visit Ukraine next week

UN chief Guterres is to meet Zelenskyy in Kyiv next week.

The UN says Guterres will arrive in Ukraine on Thursday and will also meet foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Guterres will be in Moscow on Tuesday and will hold talks with Putin.

Russians seek to ‘starve out’ Azovstal plant holdouts in Mariupol: ISW

In its latest update on the war in Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War says the Russians are seeking “to starve out” civilians and soldiers in the Azovstal steel plant.

The ISW said they were “unlikely” to allow the trapped civilians to leave.

Indonesia bans all palm oil exports

There is more risk to global food and consumer prices due to the continuing war in Ukraine.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has announced the country will ban all exports of palm oil, the world’s most widely used vegetable oil and an ingredient in products from ice cream to shampoo.

Widodo says the move is to ensure supply of cooking oil at home becomes “abundant and affordable”. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil.

The war in Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest producers of wheat and sunflower oil, has pushed food prices to record highs. You can read more on the implications for food security of Russia’s advance in the east here.

A woman in Jakarta in a shiny, white headscarf, pushes her trolley down a supermarket aisle stocked with cooking oil made from palm oil
A woman shops for cooking oil at a supermarket in Jakarta. Indonesia has banned all palm oil exports to ensure sufficient supply at home [File: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

Ukrainian PM sees war victory soon

Ukraine will be victorious very soon, the country’s prime minister says after UK’s Johnson said it remained a realistic possibility that Russia could still win.

“We are absolutely sure that Ukraine will win in this war and victory will be in [a] very short period,” Denys Shmyhal told CNN when asked about Johnson’s comment.

Zelenskyy warns residents against giving information to Russian forces

Zelenskyy has warned residents in the south of Ukraine to “be very careful” as Russian forces might attempt to register them to hold and falsify a “so-called referendum” on the status of the region.

“I urge residents in the southern regions of Ukraine – the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions – to be very careful about what information you give the invaders. If they ask you to fill out some questionnaires, put your passport details somewhere, then know that this is not to help you,” Zelenskyy said.

“This is actually in order to falsify a so-called ‘referendum’ on your land, if Moscow gives the order to organise such a show. This is possible. Be careful,” he said.

‘We hope for a resurrection’: Zelenskyy

During his daily address, Zelenskyy has reflected on the upcoming Orthodox Easter holiday, along with its symbolism of life and death.

“The 58th day of our defence is coming to an end. It ends on Good Friday, one of the most sorrowful days of the year for Christians. The day when death seems to have won. But … we hope for a resurrection,” he said.

“We believe in the victory, of life over death.”

Canada says it has provided heavy artillery to Ukraine forces

Canada says it has provided heavy artillery to Ukrainian security forces, following up on a pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week to send more artillery to Ukraine in the face of a Russian assault on the country’s east.

Canada has now delivered a number of M777 howitzers and associated ammunition to Ukrainian forces, the defence ministry said.

It added that it is finalising contracts for commercial pattern armoured vehicles that it will send to Ukraine as soon as possible.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau earlier pledged to send more heavy weaponry to Ukraine [Carlos Osorio/Reuters]

Humanitarian corridor out of Mariupol might be opened on Saturday: Official

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said “there is a possibility” a humanitarian corridor out of the besieged port city of Mariupol could be opened up on Saturday.

“Watch the official announcements tomorrow morning. If all goes well, I will confirm,” she said in an online address to people waiting to be evacuated.

Ukrainian children delight in painting Easter eggs

Children in Kyiv, including evacuees from other parts of the country, are decorating traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs – but this year they have taken on a more patriotic tone.

“Many people are diverting from tradition a little, not drawing the usual images like stars, flowers,” said Mariya Poshyvailo, who works at the Ivan Honchar Museum (National Centre of Folk Culture).

“Instead, they want to draw something current, like Ukraine’s trident symbol, or write slogans like ‘Glory to Ukraine’, ‘Glory to the Heroes’. What is close to them.”

Zelenskyy says allies finally delivering weapons Kyiv asked for

Zelenskyy has said Ukraine’s allies were finally delivering the weapons that Kyiv had asked for, adding the arms would help save the lives of thousands of people.

Zelenskyy also said comments by a Russian commander about the need to link up with Moldova showed Moscow wanted to invade other countries.

Zelenskyy has called on Ukraine’s allies to supply the country with more heavy weaponry to defend against Russian attacks [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Blinken, Ukrainian PM discussed additional ways US can help Ukraine

Blinken discussed with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal additional ways that the US can help Ukraine, State Department spokesman Ned Price has said in a statement.

“The Secretary expressed the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and reinforced our determination to help Ukraine successfully defend itself against Russia’s brutal and unjustified war of aggression,” according to the statement.

Pentagon seeking information from US industry on Ukraine-ready systems

The Pentagon is looking for new avenues for US industry to accelerate production and build more capacity for proven, effective weapons that require minimal training and can be rapidly exported to Ukraine, according to a government website posting.

The Department of Defence posted a request for information on that had an initial response deadline of May 6.

It sought information on weapons or commercial capabilities related to air defence, anti-armour, anti-personnel, coastal defence, counter-battery, unmanned aerial systems, and communications like radios or satellite internet.

Russia confirms 1 dead, 27 missing in missile cruiser sinking: RIA

Russia’s defence ministry has confirmed for the first time that the crew of the missile cruiser Moskva suffered casualties when it sank last week, the RIA state news agency reported.

“One serviceman was killed, another 27 crew members went missing,” the ministry said, adding that “the remaining 396 members” had been evacuated.

Moscow had said the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, sank after a fire sparked an ammunition blast, while Ukraine said it hit the vessel with an anti-ship missile.

Russia opens criminal case against activist over ‘fake’ news on Ukraine

Russia has opened a criminal case against a prominent opposition activist on allegations of spreading false information about Moscow’s military campaign, his lawyer has said.

Vladimir Kara-Murza was detained outside his home in Moscow on April 11, hours after CNN aired an interview in which he criticised Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“Vladimir Kara-Murza is now at the main investigation Department of Russia’s Investigative Committee,” Prokhorov wrote on Facebook. “A criminal case has been opened … for ‘public dissemination of deliberately false information about Russia’s armed forces.'” Prokhorov did not say when precisely the case had been opened.

Pentagon says more than 20 nations attending Ukraine talks in Germany

The US has said it expects more than 20 countries to attend Ukraine-focused defence talks it is hosting next week in Germany that will focus on Kyiv’s long-term needs.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby appeared to play down expectations of announcements about long-term assistance at the April 26 talks, saying: “We’re not going into this with a pre-cooked set of endings here.”

He added that about 40 nations were invited to attend the discussions, which were not being organised under the NATO umbrella and would include non-NATO nation states.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Friday, April 22 here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies