Chechen leader says Azovstal plant in Mariupol will fall to Russia — live updates

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that Russian troops will soon take over the Azovstal steel plant as Moscow continues its assault on Mariupol. Follow DW for the latest.

Smoke rises above Azovstal steelworks, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this still image obtained from a recent drone video posted on social media by Mariupol City Council.Ukrainian troops have been hunkered down in the steelworks in the besieged port city for weeks but have complained that they are running low on ammunition and supplies

  • Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says Azovstal will fall under Russian control
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims he has not received Kremlin offer of peace talks
  • Luhansk regional governor says 80% of the region is controlled by Russian forces
  • US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen leads G7 walkout over Moscow’s participation

This article was last updated at 01:53 GMT/UTC.

Red Cross denies Kyiv’s accusations of Kremlin collaboration

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has denied charges leveled at it by Ukraine that the organization has been working “in concert” with Russia.

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Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova denounced the ICRC’s announcement last month that it was planning to open a branch in Russia’s southern Rostov region to help Ukrainian refugees. Kyiv claims that Ukrainians in Rostov have been forcibly deported there by Russian forces.

Denisova said she had asked the ICRC, as well as her Russian counterpart Tatyana Moskalkova, for information on these refugees so Kyiv could help them return home. Denisova claims she received no answer from either Moskalkova or the ICRC.

Denisova said in a TV interview that she “strongly [suspected]” that the Red Cross was “working in concert” with Russia.

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‘People need just absolutely everything’: ICRC

Responding to the accusations, the ICRC told the AFP news agency that it ” does not ever help organize or carry out forced evacuations. We would not support any operation that would go against people’s will and international law.”

“Building and maintaining a dialogue with parties to a conflict is essential to get access to all people affected and obtain necessary security guarantees for our teams to deliver life-saving aid.”

Mariupol plant Azovstal will fall under Russian control — Chechen leader

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said he believed Russian troops would have complete control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Thursday.

“Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation,” Kadyrov said.

Kadyrov is the president of the Chechen Republic, an autonomous unit of the Russian Federation located in the northern Caucasus. Russia has made use of Chechen fighters in its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have been hunkered down in the steelworks in the besieged port city for weeks but have been complaining that they’re running low on ammunition and key supplies. One commander said on Wednesday that his marines were “maybe facing [their] last days, if not hours.”

Russia had issued another call for the city’s defenders to surrender and offered a ceasefire to evacuate civilians on Wednesday, with Ukraine instead calling for a special round of talks with no preconditions in the city.

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Russia tells Mariupol’s defenders to surrender

Russia controls 80% of Luhansk region — regional governor

Regional governor Serhiy Haidai said that 80% of the Luhansk region was now under Russian control.

Luhansk, along with Donetsk, is one of the two regions that make up Donbas, which has been disputed between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists since 2014. Separatist forces have controlled the two regional capitals since the start of the conflict.

Before the Russian Federation launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government controlled 60% of the Luhansk region, while the rest was in the hands of separatist forces. Moscow recognized the independence of the two self-proclaimed “people’s republics” in Donbas in late February, days before it invaded Ukraine.

Haidai said that have seized the town of Kreminna and are threatening Rubizhne and Popasna. He urged all residents to evacuate immediately.

The Donetsk region has also seen heavy fighting, particularly around the port city of Mariupol which has been under siege since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine denies having received Russian offer of peace talks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denied receiving a written offer for a negotiated settlement to the war which the Kremlin claims to have sent to Kyiv on Wednesday.

“I have heard nothing, I have seen nothing. I am convinced that they have handed us nothing,” Zelensky said at a press conference in Kyiv during a visit from European Council chief Charles Michel.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had earlier claimed that a draft document that contained “clear and elaborate formulations” had been handed over to Ukraine.

While speaking in Kyiv, Zelenskyy accused Peskov of “playing football with himself.”

Summary of Wednesday’s events in Russia-Ukraine crisis

Ukrainian presidential advisor and negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said Kyiv would agree to Russia’s proposal to hold a “special round” of negotiations in the besieged city of Mariupol.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen led a multi-nation walkout of a G20 finance meeting in protest of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Russia missile test ‘sign of desperation’: DW’s Konstantin Eggert

Russia said it test-launched its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile. US officials said they had been aware of the Russian launch and viewed as a routine one.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres officially requested to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to press for peace. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a review of Moscow’s position within the World Trade Organization, looking to counter “illegal” sanctions imposed over its military operation in Ukraine.

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Wimbledon bans Russian tennis players

The All England Club venue confirmed that tennis players from Russia and Belarus will be banned from the Wimbledon tournament in June.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that a draft document of peace proposals had been handed over to Ukraine. Ukraine confirmed it had received the proposals and said it was studying them.

You can revisit our April 20 live updates here.

sdi/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)