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Civilians flee eastern Ukraine in advance of a widely forecast attack – as it happened – The Guardian

Civilians flee eastern Ukraine in advance of a widely forecast attack – as it happened – The Guardian 

This live blog is now closed, you can find the latest coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war in our new live blog
The Russian defence ministry has said the entire crew of the warship Moskva, reported to be struck by Ukraine in the Black Sea late on Wednesday night, has been evacuated after an ammunition explosion resulted in a fire on the ship.
The ship was famously defied by Ukrainian troops on Snake Island at the start of the war

“The cruiser ‘Moskva’ of the Black Sea Fleet was seriously damaged as a result of the detonation of ammunition that occurred as a result of a fire, the crew was evacuated,” Russian state media outlet TASS reported, citing the Russian defene ministry.
“As a result of a fire, ammunition detonated on the Moskva missile cruiser. The ship was seriously damaged. The crew was completely evacuated,” the ministry added.
Earlier this evening, Ukraine said it struck and damaged a Russian warship in the Black Sea, according to a Telegram messaged posted by Odessa governor Maksym Marchenko.
“It has been confirmed that the missile cruiser Moskva today went exactly where it was sent by our border guards on Snake Island!” Marchenko said.

On the first day of the invasion, the small garrison refused calls from the ship for it to surrender, telling the ship to “go fuck yourself”.
Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych said the ship could have as many as 510 crew members on board.
Ukrainian military hit Russia cruiser Moskva, which is the same warship that has been told by Snake Island defenders to go fuck itself. It was hit with Neptune anti-ship cruise missile that was developed by Kyiv based Luch Design Bureau in 2014-2020
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Please follow all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine by reading our latest coverage in the link below.
It is approaching 8am in Ukraine as the country wakes to face its 50th day of war.
Here is where the situation currently stands:
Russia is attempting to mobilise up to 70,000 people in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military claims.
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}It has been established that the Russian command has assigned the task of mobilising 60-70,000 people in the territory of the so-called ‘DPR’,” the general staff of the armed forces said in its latest morning operational report, adding that the specified figures were completed “by only 20%”.
Russian forces continue to expand units near the eastern border and restore and replenish ammunition, officials added.
Ukrainian troops thwarted eight Russian attacks over the past 24 hours in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the report read.
The European Space Agency said is has ended cooperation with Russia on three missions to the Moon due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, following a previous decision to do the same for a Mars mission.

The ESA said it would “discontinue cooperative activities” on Luna-25, 26 and 27, a series of Russian lunar missions on which the European agency had aimed to test new equipment and technology.
In late March, collaboration on ExoMars, a plan to land a rover on Mars to drill into the soil and search for signs of life, was suspended as well.
“As with ExoMars, the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the resulting sanctions put in place represent a fundamental change of circumstances and make it impossible for ESA to implement the planned lunar cooperation,” the ESA said in a statement.
The ESA had planned to have a navigation camera called Pilot-D on the Luna-25 probe, whose launch is scheduled for this summer.
ESA Director-General Josef Aschbacher told a press briefing the camera was going to be dismantled and taken off the launch, and that Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, had already been informed.
Fiji police are questioning the captain of a luxury vessel owned by a Russian oligarch that arrived in the Pacific islands nation on Tuesday without customs clearance, Reuters reports.
Fiji newspapers reported on Thursday that police had seized the superyacht Amadea, owned by a Russian billionaire, Suleiman Kerimov, who has been sanctioned by the United States, Britain and the European Union over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and detained its crew.
An official at the National Police Command and Control Centre confirmed to Reuters the captain of the vessel was being questioned on how it came to Fiji without customs clearance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, lawmakers and businessmen have faced wide-reaching sanctions in the wake of the invasion, which Moscow calls a special military operation, while European countries have seized property including villas and boats.
Commissioner of Police, Brigadier General Sitivini Qiliho told the Fiji Sun newspaper the Fiji Attorney General’s office had been contacted by a foreign government requesting assistance in a criminal matter, and Fiji had agreements with other countries to enforce sanctions on Russian oligarchs.
The United States embassy and European Union delegations in Fiji had requested cooperation, the Fiji Times reported.
Fiji had been alerted to the approach of the Amadea before it moored at Lautoka Wharf, the media reports said.
The Marine Traffic website showed Amadea left Mexico 18 days ago.
Australia has imposed targeted financial sanctions on 14 Russian state-owned enterprises on Thursday, including defence-related entities such as truckmaker Kamaz, and shipping companies SEVMASH and United Shipbuilding Corp.

Sanctions will also extend to electronic company Ruselectronics, responsible for the production of around 80% of all Russian electronics components, and Russian Railways over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, foreign minister Marise Payne said in a statement.
.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Our targeting of Russia’s state-owned enterprises in coordination with key partners undermines their capacity to boost the Russian economy. By preventing dealings with these important sources of revenue for the Russian Government, we are increasing the pressure on Russia and undercutting its ability to continue funding Putin’s war,” Payne said.
Australia has now sanctioned about 600 individuals and entities, including most of Russia’s banking sector and all organisations responsible for the country’s sovereign debt.

It has also supplied defence equipment and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, while banning exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia.
A Russian court has ordered an artist to be held behind bars for allegedly replacing supermarket price labels with messages protesting against Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Alexandra Skochilenko faces up to a decade in jail for her stealth protest, after she was charged under a new law banning “fake news” about Russia’s armed forces.
Saint Petersburg’s Vasileostrovsky district court ruled that Skochilenko must remain in pre-trial detention in prison until 31 May, the court’s press service said on Telegram.
Absolutely insane. St. Petersburg artist Alexandra Skochilenko is placed in remand prison pending felony prosecution for spreading “false information” about Russia’s military by swapping in war facts on price tags at a local grocery store. A customer reported her to the police.
Investigators accused her of “putting fragments of paper in place of price tags, containing knowingly false information about the use of the Russian armed forces” in a Perekryostok supermarket on 31 March.
They described her motive as “political hatred for Russia”, which means she faces a harsh sentence if found guilty, ranging from a fine of 3m roubles (£27,000) to between five and 10 years in jail.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy denounced French President Emmanuel Macron’s refusal to call killings in Ukraine “genocide” and his reference to Russians as a “brotherly” people.
“Such things are very painful for us, so I will definitely do my best to discuss this issue with him,” Zelenskiy said at a press conference n Wednesday with the visiting presidents of Poland and the Baltic states.
France and Germany declined Wednesday to repeat US President Joe Biden’s accusation that Russia was carrying out “genocide” against Ukrainians, warning that verbal escalations would not help end the war.
Instead, Macron said leaders should be “careful” with the terminology on genocide in these situations, especially as “the Ukrainians and Russians are brotherly peoples”.

“I would say that Russia unilaterally unleashed the most brutal war, that it is now established that war crimes were committed by the Russian army and that it is now necessary to find those responsible and make them face justice,” Macron said.
“It’s madness what’s happening, it’s incredibly brutal,” he added.
“But at the same time I look at the facts and I want to try as much as possible to continue to be able to stop this war and to rebuild peace. I’m not sure that verbal escalations serve this cause,” he said.
Although the US State Department defended Biden’s remarks that Russia is carrying out a genocide in Ukraine, it stopped short of promising to launch its own inquiry saying it would instead support international efforts to hold Russia accountable.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration would further assess whether to launch its own formal review.
Price said the United States supported international lawyers trying to determine whether a legal threshold was met, but did not say whether the United States would launch its own inquiry.
“What we are doing is the most effective means of achieving that ultimate goal of accountability,” Price said.
Such a state department determination normally follows a meticulous internal process, but the final decision is up to the secretary of state, who weighs whether it advances American interests, officials said.
The US State Department has defended President Joe Biden’s remarks that Russia is carrying out a genocide in Ukraine, saying its forces are trying to destroy the country and its civilian population.
Biden levelled the accusation at President Vladimir Putin’s forces for the first time on Tuesday, while adding however that it would be up to lawyers to decide if Russia’s behaviour actually qualifies as genocide.
“I am going to predict that what President Biden called it is what we will ultimately likely find when we are able to gather all of this evidence,” undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Nuland, said on CNN.
“Because what is happening on the ground is not an accident,” she said. “It is an intentional decision by Russia, by its forces to destroy Ukraine and its civilian population,” she added.
State Department spokesman Ned Price earlier said: “The president was speaking to the impression that he had garnered from watching the horrific footage that we’ve all seen from places like Mariupol, from places like Bucha, from Kharkiv and from other places.
“It is much less important what you call it, rather than how you respond to it, and we’re responding to it, resolutely, by providing our Ukrainian partners with precisely what they need to defend themselves against this Russian aggression.
“Whether this is a war crime, whether this is an atrocity, whether this is genocide, it does not change our strategy.’


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