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Russia Ukraine War Highlights: Putin cancels plans to storm Mariupol steel plant, opts for blockade

Russia Ukraine War Highlights: Putin cancels plans to storm Mariupol steel plant, opts for blockade

By CNBCTV18.com Apr 21, 2022 9:21:49 PM IST (Updated)

Russian forces will seize the last main stronghold of resistance in the besieged city of Mariupol on Thursday after Ukraine proposed talks on evacuating troops and civilians there, according to a top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Ukrainian marine commander, Serhiy Volny, said fighters at the steelworks may not be able to hold out for much longer. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said an estimated 1,000 civilians are sheltering there. Here are the live updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict: 

A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russian forces will seize the last main stronghold of resistance in the besieged city of Mariupol on Thursday after Ukraine proposed talks on evacuating troops and civilians there.

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Mariupol would be the biggest city to be seized by Russia since invading Ukraine eight weeks ago in an attack that has taken longer than some military analysts expected, seen over five million people flee abroad and turned cities to rubble.
"Before lunchtime, or after lunch, Azovstal will be completely under the control of the forces of the Russian Federation," Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's republic of Chechnya, whose forces have been fighting in Ukraine, said of the steel plant.
A few dozen civilians managed to leave the strategically important southeastern port on Wednesday in a small bus convoy, according to Reuters witnesses, escaping the fiercest battle of the war.
A Ukrainian marine commander, Serhiy Volny, said fighters at the steelworks may not be able to hold out for much longer. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said an estimated 1,000 civilians are sheltering there.
Here are today's highlights of the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
German exports to Russia plunge over invasion
Official figures from Germany show that the country's exports to Russia plunged in March as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. The Federal Statistical Office said on Thursday that exports to Russia were down 57.5 per cent compared with a year earlier, at 1.1 billion euros (USD 1.2 billion), as a result of sanctions and other decisions by companies. That left Russia as the No. 12 destination outside the European Union for German exports, compared with No. 5 in February.
Crypto exchange Binance curbs services in Russia
The world's largest cryptocurrency exchange is deactivating the accounts of its major clients in Russia, it said on Thursday, cutting back its services in the country in line with European Union sanctions. Binance told users that Russian nationals and people living in the country, as well as companies based there, that hold crypto worth over 10,000 euros ($10,900), would be banned from making new deposits or trading.
Oil rises as investors focus on lower supply from Russia, Libya
Oil prices rose on Thursday as concerns about supply as the European Union (EU) mulls a potential ban on Russian oil imports, days after diminished supplies from Libya rocked the market. Brent crude futures rose $1.11, or 1 percent, to $107.91 a barrel at 0852 GMT.  Analysts said market volatility is likely to pick up again soon, with the EU still weighing a ban on Russian oil for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation".
Russia says British fighters captured in Ukraine are being looked after
Russia's foreign ministry said on Thursday that British fighters who had been captured in Ukraine were being fed, watered and given necessary help.
"Don't worry, the Russian side is taking care of them. They are fed, watered, and given the necessary assistance. Just like other foreigners who have surrendered or been detained", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Some civilians leave as Russians tighten noose on Mariupol
Only four buses with civilians managed to escape from Mariupol after several unsuccessful attempts, Ukrainian officials said on Thursday, as thousands more remained trapped under relentless Russian attacks against the last pockets of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated southern port city.
Ukraine deputy PM demands Russia let civilians and wounded soldiers leave Azovstal
Ukraine's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk on Thursday demanded Russia urgently allow the evacuation of civilians and wounded soldiers from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol via a humanitarian corridor. "There are about 1,000 civilians and 500 wounded soldiers there. They all need to be pulled out of Azovstal today," Vereshchuk said in an online post.
Putin cancels Russian plans to storm Mariupol steel plant, opts for blockade instead
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered the Russian military to cancel plans to storm the Azovstal plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and said he wanted it to continue to be hermetically blockaded instead. Putin gave the order to Sergei Shoigu, his defence minister, who had previously told Putin that more than 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were still holed up in the vast plant, which has a large underground component to it.
"I consider the proposed storming of the industrial zone unnecessary," Putin told Shoigu in a televised meeting at the Kremlin. "I order you to cancel it."
US lawmakers urge Facebook to do more to fight Russia propaganda in Spanish
A group of 21 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday voicing concern about what they called disinformation on the platform aimed at Spanish speakers about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The disinformation is spread by Moscow-backed outlets like RT en Espanol, among others, said the letter joined by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Lujan and Representative Tony Cardenas and 18 others.
"Facebook has continuously failed to show it is adequately addressing this problem for Spanish-speaking communities, and the success of Russian sponsored outlets in crowding out the information ecosystem for Spanish speakers serves as proof to this fact," the lawmakers wrote.
Ukraine ready to hold special talks with Russia in Mariupol - negotiator
Ukraine is ready to hold a "special round of negotiations" with Russia in the besieged city of Mariupol without any conditions, negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Wednesday. He said the talks could be "one on one. Two on two. To save our guys, (the far right) Azov (battalion), military, civilians, children, the living and the wounded".
Chechen chief Kadyrov: Russia forces will control Mariupol steelworks Thursday 
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's republic of Chechnya, said Russian forces would be in 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," he said in an audio message posted online early on Thursday. Chechen forces have been fighting in Ukraine as part of Russia's military operation.
Cryptocurrency miner in latest Russian sanctions targets
The US rolled out new sanctions on Wednesday against more than 40 individuals and entities accused of evading the ongoing wave of penalties imposed on Russia as punishment for invading Ukraine. The sanctions include the first set of penalties against a cryptocurrency mining firm in relation to the war. The Treasury Department's sanctions arm designated the commercial bank Transkapitalbank, which has operations in China and the Middle East.
Many civilians still trapped in Mariupol as Russian deadline expires; refugees top 5 million
About 1,000 civilians remain trapped at a steel plant where Ukrainian forces are making their last stand in the besieged city of Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, after a Russian ultimatum to surrender or die expired on Wednesday. Zelenskyy said conditions in Mariupol, which has seen the worst fighting of the nearly eight-week long war, continued to worsen, though Reuters witnesses said a few dozen civilians managed to leave the city on Wednesday in a small bus convoy.
US imposes new Russia-related sanctions
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Russian commercial bank, an oligarch and dozens of individuals, according to the Treasury Department website. The targets include Russia-based units of virtual currency mining firm Bitriver, the website said.
Pentagon says Russia notified US ahead of "routine" ICBM test-launch
Russia properly notified the United States ahead of its test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, adding it saw the test as routine and not a threat to the US.  Russia said earlier on Wednesday it had conducted a first test launch of its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.
Russia tests nuclear-capable missile that Putin says has no peer
Russia said on Wednesday it had conducted a first test launch of its Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a new addition to its nuclear arsenal which President Vladimir Putin said would give Moscow's enemies something to think about.  Putin was shown on television being told by the military that the missile had been launched from Plesetsk in the country's northwest and hit targets in the Kamchatka peninsula in the far east.
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