Russia invades Ukraine: Zelensky to address UN Security Council after massacres

Russia invades Ukraine: Zelensky to address UN Security Council after massacres
Ukraine's president will address members of the UN Security Council following massacres in Bucha.
20 min read
05 April, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the UN Security Council on Tuesday, following a spate of alleged killings by Russian forces in the north of the country.

The president will speak to members of the council - which includes Russia - at 2pm GMT by TV link, the first time he has addressed the body since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Zelensky will likely accuse Russia of 'genocide' following a spate of killings by Moscow forces in occupied areas of Ukraine, including the town of Bocha.

He will also demand tougher sanctions on Russia over its bloody invasion.

Ukrainian forces are collecting evidence of massacres allegedly committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The US, France and UK are expected to back Ukraine's calls for tougher action against Russia.

Zelensky has accused Russia of trying to cover up "war crimes" as Ukrainian forces retake more territory.

Zelensky said investigators are attempting to collect evidence of Russian atrocities but Moscow is doing all it can to remove signs of war crimes.

It comes as Ukraine reclaims more land around Kyiv, which was occupied by Russian forces for more than a month.

"We must also be aware that after the revealed mass killings of civilians in the Kyiv region, the occupiers may have a different attitude to their crimes in another part of our country where they came," Zelensky said, according to the BBC.

The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 

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11:59 PM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab's live coverage of the latest from the Russian invasion of Ukraine concludes for today.

Here were the key developments from Tuesday:

'Act immediately'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky challenges the United Nations to "act immediately" or "dissolve yourself altogether" during an address in which he shows harrowing footage of dead bodies - including children - he says were victims of Russian atrocities.

Likening Russia's actions in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities to violence carried out by "terrorists" such as the Islamic State group, Zelensky calls on the Security Council to expel Russia "so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war."

Moscow denies atrocities

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the discovery of bodies in Bucha was a "provocation" aimed at scuppering talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

"A question arises: What purpose does this blatantly untruthful provocation serve? We are led to believe it is to find a pretext to torpedo the ongoing negotiations," Lavrov says in a video message broadcast on Russian television.

600,000 evacuated to Russia

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia says over 600,000 people have been evacuated into Russia during the conflict in Ukraine, denying Kyiv's claim of mass deportations.

"And we're not talking about any kind of coercion or abduction, as our Western partners like to present this, but rather the voluntary decision by these people..." he tells the Security Council.

Donbas onslaught awaited

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says that, after withdrawing most of its troops from northern Ukraine, Moscow aims to capture the "entire" Donbas region in the east, with the aim of creating a land corridor from Russia to annexed Crimea.

Cluster munitions

UN undersecretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, tells the Security Council of "credible" claims Russia has used indiscriminate cluster munitions two dozen times in populated parts of Ukraine.

War chest frozen

Britain has frozen some $350 billion (321 billion euros) in assets from the "war chest" of Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says during a visit to Warsaw.

She says this action meant that "over 60 percent of the regime's $604 billion foreign currency reserves" were now "unavailable" to the Russian government.

Join us tomorrow for the latest updates from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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11:08 PM
The New Arab Staff

US to ban 'all new investment' in Russia on Wednesday: source

The United States, in coordination with the G7 and European Union, will ban "all" new investments in Russia on Wednesday in its latest round of sanctions, a source said.

The joint measures, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and alleged carrying out of atrocities, "will include a ban on all new investment in Russia, increased sanctions on financial institutions and state-owned enterprises in Russia, and sanctions on Russian government officials and their family members," the source familiar with the sanctions told AFP today.

Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the latest punishment of Russia's economy has been triggered by alleged evidence of executions and other atrocities committed against civilians in areas recently abandoned by Russian troops in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

"We had already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, and the information from Bucha appears to show further evidence of war crimes," a source said.

The new sanctions "will impose significant costs on Russia and send it further down the road of economic, financial, and technological isolation," the source said.

"These measures will degrade key instruments of Russian state power, impose acute and immediate economic harm on Russia, and hold accountable the Russian kleptocracy that funds and supports" the war.

The source predicted that Russia's economy would shrink by as much as 15 percent this year.

"This economic collapse of Russia's GDP will wipe out the past 15 years of economic gains in Russia," the source said.

10:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

US imposes sanctions on Russian darknet market and crypto exchange

The US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Tuesday on a prominent Russia-based darknet market site and a cryptocurrency exchange that it said operates primarily out of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The sanctions against Hydra and currency exchange Garantex, published on the Treasury Department's website, "send a message today to criminals that you cannot hide on the darknet or their forums," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

According to blockchain researchers, approximately 86% of illicit bitcoin received directly by Russian crypto exchanges in 2019 came from Hydra, which the Treasury Department described as the world's "largest and most prominent darknet market."

The new sanctions prohibit US persons from making or receiving "any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services" to Hydra or Garantex, the Treasury said.

The department said the sanctions, which prohibit U.S. transactions with Hydra and Garantex and seek to freeze any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction, is part of an international effort to disrupt proliferation of malicious cybercrime services, drugs and other illegal offerings, including ransomware activity, that emanate from Russia.

Treasury joined with the US Department of Justice, the FBI, and the German Federal Criminal Police, which said it shut down Hydra servers in Germany and seized $25 million worth of bitcoin.

10:36 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia says prevented Ukraine officers fleeing Mariupol by air

The Russian army says it had shot down two Ukrainian helicopters trying to evacuate the leaders of a nationalist battalion defending the embattled port of Mariupol.

"This morning, April 5, around Mariupol, a new attempt by the Kyiv regime to evacuate leaders of the nationalist Azov battalion was aborted. Two Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopters, trying to reach the city from the sea, were shot down by portable anti-aircraft systems," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

He said Moscow had on Tuesday morning proposed that Ukrainian fighters lay down their arms and leave the city "via an agreed route" to territory under Kyiv's control.

He said the Ukrainian army had "ignored" the proposal.

"Since Kyiv is not interested in saving the lives of its soldiers, Mariupol will be freed from nationalists," said Konashenkov.

Last week, he said the Russian army had shot down a Ukrainian helicopter over the Sea of Azov that had come to evacuate commanders of the Azov battalion, which has been fiercely defending Mariupol for weeks.

10:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

Foreign ship sinks in Mariupol after missile attacks, says flag registry

A Dominica-flagged cargo ship sank on Tuesday in the besieged southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol after being targeted by Russian missile strikes, the vessel's flag registry said.

The Azburg was believed to have been without cargo and at berth in Mariupol when it was initially hit by two missiles on April 3, the Dominica Maritime Administration said.

"On April 4, around 2240 LT (local time) the vessel was heavily fired upon by Russian armed forces after intentionally shelling the vessel twice a day earlier," the registry said in a statement.

"Specific characteristics of firing on the vessel remain unknown, crew reported shelling, bombing and repeated hits by missiles, causing a fire in the engine room."

One of the 12 crew members required medical treatment while the remaining crew were evacuated onto nearby vessels, the Dominica registry said.

Russian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Moscow has said that it is not targeting civilians in what it calls a "special operation" to demilitarize Ukraine.

Ukraine said this week that it was bracing for about 60,000 Russian reservists to be called in to reinforce Moscow's offensive in the east, where Russia's main targets have included Mariupol and Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city.

9:44 PM
The New Arab Staff

US to send drones with anti-armour warhead to Ukraine- Pentagon chief

The United States will send a variant of the Switchblade drone that has an anti-armour warhead to Ukraine as quickly as possible, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

"The Switchblade 600 and 300 will move as quickly as they possibly can," Austin said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

The 600 variant has the anti-armour warhead and can loiter over a target for more than 40 minutes, according to AeroVironment, which makes the drones.

9:23 PM
The New Arab Staff

Britain says $350 bn 'of Putin's war chest' frozen

Britain has frozen some $350 billion (321 billion euros) in assets from the "war chest" of Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said during a visit to Warsaw today.

"So far, our sanctions have had a crippling impact on those who feed and fund Putin's war machine. This week we will announce that we've frozen over $350 billion of Putin's war chest," Truss said.

She said this action meant that "over 60 percent of the regime's $604 billion foreign currency reserves" were now "unavailable" to the Russian government.

Truss said "coordinated sanctions are pushing the Russian economy back to the Soviet era.

"But we can and we must do more," she said.

She called for a ban on Russian ships docking in Western ports and "agreeing a clear timetable to eliminate imports of Russian oil, coal and gas".

She also urged Britain's NATO and G7 partners to impose curbs on "industries that are filling Putin's war chest, like gold".

Truss said she had been "shocked" by the scenes in Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, where a number of bodies in civilian clothes have been found following the retreat of Russian forces.

"These are appalling acts of the kind we thought we'd left in the 20th century. We will hold those responsible to account for what they've done," she said.

Liz Truss [Getty]
9:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

Blinken slams 'deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape' in Bucha

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the killing of Ukrainians in Bucha was part of a deliberate campaign "to kill, to torture, to rape."

"As this Russian tide is receding from parts of Ukraine, the world is seeing the death and destruction left in its wake," he told reporters as he flew to Brussels.

"What we've seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It's a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities. The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see.

"This reinforces our determination, and the determination in countries around the world, to make sure that one way or another, one day or another, there is accountability for those who committed these acts, for those who ordered them," he added.

Blinken said the United States was working with others to gather evidence to assist the Ukrainian prosecutor general and the UN Human Rights Council in investigations.

"Information that we'd seen going into the aggression suggested that this would be part of the Russian campaign," Blinken said. "Horrifically, tragically what we're seeing in Bucha, and in other places, supports that."

"But in all of these instances, there's a very important effort to put the evidence together."

Blinken [Getty]
8:49 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine says people can still only flee Mariupol by car or on foot

People are still only able to flee the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol on foot or by private car as efforts to organise mass evacuations by bus to safer parts of Ukraine have failed, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Buses cannot reach the first part of the evacuation route from Mariupol, which is "nearly 80 km (50 miles)- people have to either walk or find a way to make this journey in a private car," she said on national television.

Ukrainian refugees [Getty]
8:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia says prevented Ukraine officers fleeing Mariupol by air

The Russian army says it had shot down two Ukrainian helicopters trying to evacuate the leaders of a nationalist battalion defending the embattled port of Mariupol.

"This morning, April 5, around Mariupol, a new attempt by the Kyiv regime to evacuate leaders of the nationalist Azov battalion was aborted. Two Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopters, trying to reach the city from the sea, were shot down by portable anti-aircraft systems," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

8:03 PM
The New Arab Staff

UK's Johnson releases video address to Russian people

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video address today in which he speaks directly to the Russian people, telling them they "deserve the truth" about the invasion of Ukraine.

"The Russian people deserve the truth, you deserve the facts," Johnson said, speaking in Russian, at the outset of the nearly two-minute address before reverting to English.

The British leader said reports emerging from Ukraine of atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Russian forces were "so shocking, so sickening, it's no wonder your government is seeking to hide them from you".

"Your president knows that if you could see what was happening, you would not support his war," Johnson added, referring to Russia's leader Vladimir Putin.

He ended the video -- posted on Twitter and other UK government social media channels - by again speaking in Russian, saying Putin "stands accused of committing war crimes".

"But I cannot believe he's acting in your name," the UK leader added.

Johnson's address comes as Russia is seeing an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices and independent journalism as the Kremlin tightly controls information about its invasion of Ukraine.

It has included dubbing NGOs and media outlets "foreign agents" - a label that carries strong pejorative connotations and implies increased government scrutiny.

Boris Johnson [Getty]
7:39 PM
The New Arab Staff

EU allies expel over 200 Russian diplomats, staff

EU nations expelled dozens more Russian diplomats today, amid increasing outrage over the Ukraine conflict, in coordinated moves that have seen more than 200 envoys and staff sent home in 48 hours.

After Germany and France announced around 75 expulsions between them Monday, countries including Italy, Spain and Slovenia followed suit on Tuesday - while the European Union itself declared "persona non grata" a group of Russian officials working with its institutions.

The expulsions were for alleged spying or "national security reasons", but come after international condemnation of killings in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where dozens of bodies were discovered after Russian troops withdrew.

Moscow has rejected Western accusations that its forces were responsible, suggesting that the released images are fake or the deaths occurred after they pulled out.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the mass expulsions of its diplomats was "a short-sighted move".

"Narrowing down opportunities for diplomatic communication in such an unprecedentedly difficult crisis environment is a short-sighted move that will further complicate our communication, which is necessary to find a solution," he said.

"And this will inevitably lead to retaliatory steps," he added.

The expulsions come as the EU discusses a fifth round of sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

7:27 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukrainian forces brace for Russian assault in Donbas

Ukrainian forces are dug in around the village of Krasnopillia in the Donbas as they brace for an anticipated Russian offensive to take the eastern region.

"We know the Russians are reinforcing and are getting ready to attack," a senior Ukrainian officer on the ground told AFP, echoing other sources who warned of a Russian assault in the Donbas that could begin at any moment.

The village sits on the road between the Ukrainian-held cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, and Izyum, to the northwest, recently captured by the Russian army.

On Tuesday, AFP journalists in Krasnopillia heard artillery explosions but not the sound of shots fired from automatic weapons, a sign of ground combat.

While the front was stable for the moment, Russian helicopters have increased the number of flights they were making over the area, the Ukrainian officer said, often a harbinger of a large-scale operation.

"We are ready... we've planned some surprises for them along the way," the officer said.

In the face of rising pressure, the forces present seemed confident. "We're waiting for them!" said a lieutenant tasked with reinforcing the positions along the road, giving a thumbs up.

7:05 PM

Putin says Russia will 'monitor' food exports to 'hostile' countries

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow would carefully "monitor" food exports to "hostile" nations as the West pummels the country with sanctions over its military action in Ukraine.

"Against the backdrop of global food shortages, this year we will have to be prudent with supplies abroad and carefully monitor such exports to countries that are clearly hostile towards us," Putin said at a meeting on agriculture.

The Russian leader also said that the country's food production "fully" covered domestic needs and urged officials to ramp up import substitution.

"We need to set clear targets for import substitution and persistently pursue them in the very near future," he said, referring to the country's "potential" in agriculture, industry and science.

He also said it was important "to minimise the negative external effects" for Russians who should have access to "high-quality affordable food products, including fish products".

"This is a key task for the current year."

Developing and import-dependent countries have been heavily impacted by Russia's military campaign in Ukraine - the two countries that account for more than a quarter of the world's annual wheat sales.

Russian President Vladimir Putin [Getty]
6:43 PM

Portugal to expel 10 Russian embassy staff

Portugal will expel 10 staff members of the Russian embassy in Lisbon, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, joining other European Union countries in their response to alleged war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine.

The foreign ministry said in a statement the staff members had been declared "personae non-gratae" and given two weeks to leave Portugal. None of the expelled workers are diplomats, it added.

"The Portuguese government reiterates its firm and vehement condemnation of Russian aggression on Ukrainian territory," the statement said.

6:22 PM

Romania says it will expel 10 Russian diplomats

Romania will expel ten Russian diplomats who are not acting in accordance with international rules, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, joining other European countries which have expelled Russian diplomats in recent days.

"Romanian authorities have decided to declare personae non-gratae on Romanian territory ten people working at the Russian embassy in Bucharest, given that their actions ... contravene the Vienna Convention," the ministry said in a statement.

It added the ambassador had been called to the ministry to be notified of the decision.

"The ministry has reiterated it firmly condemns the crimes committed in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns for which Russia is responsible."

Spain, Italy, Sweden and Denmark announced similar expulsions earlier on Tuesday, and several other countries in previous days.

6:12 PM
The New Arab Staff

US, allies to announce Russia sanctions on Wednesday

The United States and its allies will announce a sweeping new round of Russia-related sanctions on Wednesday, a source familiar with the planned announcement told Reuters.

The sanctions will ban all new investments in Russia, increase curbs on financial institutions and state-owned enterprises in Russia, and target Russian government officials and their families, the source said on Tuesday.

3:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

Players of the video game Fortnite have raised an unprecedented sum for Ukraine.

The makers announced that the 'Fortnite community' had helped raise $144 million for those affected by the war in Ukraine.

The amount was gathered by gamers, the Fortnite maker, and tech giants in just two weeks.

3:01 PM
The New Arab Staff

The EU has announced new sanctions on Moscow, which appear to be part of efforts to wean European countries off Russian energy reserves.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced an import ban on Russian coal, worth 4 billion euros, and a transaction ban on four key Russian banks.

There has been anger in some European countries about Germany's continued reliance on Russian gas.

2:53 PM
The New Arab Staff

There has been growing backlash to reports of massacres by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said these were evidence of a deliberate Russian campaign "to kill, to torture, to rape" in Ukraine.

"As this Russian tide is receding from parts of Ukraine, the world is seeing the death and destruction left in its wake," he told reporters as he flew to Brussels.

"What we've seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It's a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities. The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see."

12:48 PM

More than 7.1 million people have been displaced by the war in Ukraine, a report by the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

That represented a 10% increase in the number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine since a first round of the survey on March 16, it added.

11:41 AM
The New Arab Staff

The war in Ukraine has left tens of thousands dead and made millions homeless.

Some Ukraine watchers have also pointed out the toll the war is having on the Ukrainian president.

President Zelensky has been admired for his tireless efforts in leading the country through war and strife, and his willingness to show his emotions during times of heartbreak.

These two images show the effects stress and sleepless nights might have had on the president.

10:46 AM

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday Ukraine had no option but to negotiate with Russia to end fighting but that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin might not personally hold talks.

"All of us, including myself, will perceive even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge," Zelensky said in an interview with Ukrainian journalists broadcast on national television.

"The challenge is internal, first of all, one's own, human challenge. Then, when you pull yourself together, and you have to do it, I think that we have no other choice."

Asked whether he and Putin would hold direct talks, Zelensky said it was possible this would not happen but gave no details.

10:41 AM
The New Arab Staff

Both Italy and Denmark expelled several Russian diplomats on Tuesday, over what they said were security reasons and in line with steps taken by other EU countries.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Tuesday that Rome has expelled 30 Russian diplomats as part of a joint European action after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Denmark also said on Tuesday it would expel 15 Russian diplomats, after reports of mass graves being found and of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told reporters after a meeting in parliament that the 15 diplomats have also conducted spying on Danish soil.

Russia has said it will respond to the moves.

10:39 AM

The mayor of Kyiv urged European politicians to cut all commercial ties with Moscow, saying on Tuesday that all payments to Russia were "bloody money" that would fuel what he called a "genocide of Ukrainians".

"Every Euro, every cent that you receive from Russia or that you send to Russia has blood, it is bloody money and the blood of this money is Ukrainian blood, the blood of Ukrainian people," Vitali Klitschko, dressed in military clothes, told a mayors' conference in Geneva via video link.

"You can't be half-pregnant. Right now the war is black and white. Are you for peace and support Ukraine or do you support the aggressors, Russia?," he added in a message to politicians.

Klitschko repeated a call for more defensive weapons for Ukraine [Getty]
10:16 AM
The New Arab Staff

Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine was hit by Russian strikes early Tuesday, but with no reports of deaths or injuries so far.

The city has been largely spared the violence experienced by other cities in the war, but the attacks come as Moscow said it will focus its military campaign on the east rather than the capital Kyiv.

One of the strikes that took place at around 3am local time destroyed a school in the city centre leaving a ten-metres wide crater at the side of the building and smashing windows.

9:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

Despite Ukraine's recent successes on the battlefield, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his forces are still facing some difficulties in the south.

Zelensky said the military situation in Mariupol was "very difficult", as Ukraine push north to liberate more territories occupied by Russia.

There are signs that Russia could be focusing efforts in the south of Ukraine, particularly on capturing Mariupol.

Another city in the Russian crosshairs is Slovyansk, which could open up the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

9:46 AM

President Zelensky has accused Russia of covering up 'war crimes' in its withdrawal from key northern Ukrainian territories.

"They are already launching a false campaign to conceal their guilt in the mass killings of civilians in Mariupol. They will do dozens of stage interviews, re-edited recordings, and will kill people specifically to make it look like they were killed by someone else."

He said Moscow made other claims when Russian forces shot down a Malaysian airliner in occupied eastern Ukraine.

"They blamed Ukraine. They even came up with various conspiracy theories. They even went so far as to claim that the corpses were 'thrown' on board the plane before it crashed," Zelensky added.