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RUSSIA is feared to have unleashed chemical weapons on Mariupol after unverified reports from the city’s Azov regiment said a ‘poisonous substance of unknown origin’ was released on Monday.

It has been reported that the substance caused breathing issues, ‘respiratory failure’ and ‘vestibulo-atactic syndrome’. 

Andriy Biletsky, the leader of the Azov volunteer regiment, claimed on Monday that three people in the southern port city of Mariupol had experienced “poisoning by warfare chemicals, but without catastrophic consequences”.

The UK’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said work was under way to verify the claims, adding: “Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold [Vladimir] Putin and his regime to account.”

Meanwhile the Armed Forces minister, James Heappey, has said that all options would be on table in response to any use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia, James Heappey, the Armed Forces minister, has said.

“There are some things that are beyond the pale, and the use of chemical weapons will get a response and all options are on the table for what that response could be,” Mr Heappey told Sky News.

Follow our Russia-Ukraine live blog below for up-to-the-minute updates…

  • Mayor: More than 10,000 civilians dead in Ukraine port city

    Speaking by phone Monday with The Associated Press, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko accused Russian forces of having blocked weeks of attempted humanitarian convoys into the city in part to conceal the carnage there from the outside world.

    Boychenko said the death toll there could surpass 20,000.

    Boychenko also gave new details of allegations by Ukrainian officials in recent weeks that Russian forces have brought mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the corpses of victims of the siege.

    “Russian forces have taken many bodies to a huge shopping center where there are storage facilities and refrigerators,” Boychenko said.

    “Mobile crematoriums have arrived in the form of trucks: You open it, and there is a pipe inside and these bodies are burned”.

  • Russia aims to take Mariupol as part of eastern Ukraine onslaught

    Russian troops were aiming to take control of the city of Mariupol on Tuesday, part of an anticipated massive onslaught across eastern Ukraine, as defending forces tried desperately to hold them back.

    Russia is believed to be trying to connect occupied Crimea with Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas, and has laid siege to the strategically located city, once home to more than 400,000 people.

    Ukrainian forces were “surrounded and blocked”, tweeted Myhaylo Podolyak, an official from President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office.

    But on Monday the Ukrainian army insisted that “the defence of Mariupol continues”.

    “The connection with the units of the defence forces that heroically hold the city is stable and maintained,” the Land Forces of Ukraine wrote on Telegram.

    In his nightly address, Zelensky made another plea to his allies for more weapons to boost the defence of the city.

    “We are not getting as much as we need to end this war sooner. To completely destroy the enemy on our land… in particular, to unblock Mariupol,” he said.

  • 600 companies cut back work in Russia

    Over 600 companies have now halted or reduced their work in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, according to US-based academics.

    The Yale University team has tracked the responses of more than 1,000 big businesses.

    In their frequently-updated list, they’ve given ‘grades’ to each company based on how far it’s affected work.

    For example, firms like Heineken and Netflix have been awarded an A for halting Russian engagements. However, companies like the Emirates Airlines and JD.com are given an F for pursuing “business as usual”.

  • Russian troops move

    Some Russian troops who withdrew to Belarus from the Kyiv region are moving east towards Ukraine’s Donbas, according to a senior US defence official.

    According to the BBC the official said the US has seen indications of Russia resupplying and reinforcing troops in the Donbas, and northwest of Donetsk.

    The US does not believe these movements signal the start of a new Russian offensive in the Donbas region, the official adds.

  • More humanitarian corridors for today – including from Mariupol

    A total of nine humanitarian corridors have been agreed for Tuesday.

    This includes from the city of Mariupol by private cars, Ukraine’s deputy minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

    These corridors will run between Kyiv and Moscow and will include five in the Luhansk region, Ms Vereshchuk added.

  • MoD: Fighting in eastern Ukraine to intensify

    The UK’s Ministry of Defence has warned that fighting in eastern Ukraine will intensify over the next two to three weeks.

    The report published today by the ministry also said Russian attacks remain focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk, with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push towards Kramatorsk.

  • Mariupol believed to be surrounded by Russian troops

    Mariupol is believed to be surrounded by Russian troops, with commanders resorting to sickening attacks to break the will of the people living there.

    Up to 90% of the city, home to 400,000 before the war, has been destroyed or damaged after a month of heavy shelling, according to Ukrainian authorities.

    At least 300 people taking shelter at a theatre in the city were killed by a Russian airstrike last month.

    Russian troops also reduced a school to rubble in the city, where around 400 civilians were sheltering when the building was hit by thermobaric TOS-1A rockets, which can melt human organs.

    Surviving residents are said to have resorted to drinking from puddles after their power and water supplies were severed.

    It has been claimed Putin has resorted to chemical warfare in MariupolCredit: Getty
    It has been claimed Putin has resorted to chemical warfare in MariupolCredit: Getty
    The besieged city has been left in ruins by relentless shellingCredit: Getty
    The besieged city has been left in ruins by relentless shellingCredit: Getty
  • Stadium of Andriy Yarmolenko’s boyhood club in Ukraine destroyed by Russian shelling

    THE stadium of West Ham star Andriy Yarmolenko’s boyhood club in Ukraine has been left destroyed by Russian shelling.

    Hammers star Yarmolenko grew up in the city of Chernihiv after his parents moved there from Leningrad.

    The Ukraine international started his professional career at Desna Chernihiv.

    Yarmolenko then went on to play for Dynamo Kyiv, Borussia Dortmund and West Ham.

    But the Ukrainian Premier League side have shared heartbreaking images of the 12,000-seater Yuri Gagarin Stadium, built under the Soviet regime in 1936, decimated by Russian shelling.

    It is highly unlikely the ground will be used for football in the near future, with the stands reduced to rubble and the pitch littered with holes and craters.

  • More on the use of chemical weapons

    Earlier we reported on Ukraine’s president Zelensky warning that Russian forces are preparing the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine. We now have more on this.

    A pro-Russian general in Donbas earlier suggested the idea, telling state media it would “smoke the Ukrainian moles out of the underground”.

    Claims of the chemical attack were also published by Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush on Twitter.

    She wrote: “Russia 1.5hr ago used unknown substance in #Mariupol.

    “Victims experience respiratory failure, vestibulo-atactic syndrome. Most likely chemical weapons!

    “This is a red line beyond which must destroy economy of despotism. We demand full embargo on all fuels from #RU &heavy weapons 2UA now!”

    The Ukrainian Azov regiment also tweeted: “Russian occupation forces used a poisonous substance of unknown origin against Ukrainian military and civilians in the city of Mariupol, which was dropped from an enemy drone.

    “The victims have respiratory failure… the effects of the unknown substance are being clarified.”

    Western leaders have grown increasingly concerned that a desperate Putin will use chemical weapons as his invasion falters.

    Ukrainian troops are said to have been attacked with an unknown substanceCredit: Reuters
    Ukrainian troops are said to have been attacked with an unknown substanceCredit: Reuters
    Mariupol has been ravaged by Russian troops since they invadedCredit: Reuters
    Mariupol has been ravaged by Russian troops since they invadedCredit: Reuters
  • Inside PM’s trip to Ukraine

    Details of Boris Johnson’s trip to Ukraine have emerged. The PM was in Kyiv for around five hours during his visit on Saturday, Downing Street has said.

    He started by meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for an hour, followed by a 30-minute walk to Independence Square, according to a No 10 spokeswoman.

    “On arrival in Kyiv, the PM and President Zelensky met for an hour – this was a meeting just with the two of them. They then went on a 30 minute walk together to Independence Square,” she said.

    Upon return, they held another meeting over dinner, which consisted of a starter of goats cheese salad and chicken soup, followed by a main of roast beef and cherry dumplings for dessert, the spokeswoman added.

    The spokeswoman, who accompanied the PM on the visit, said: “It was a very small delegation. I believe it was one member of his private office and then security.”

  • Zelensky warns of ‘new stage of terror’ over possible chemical weapons attack in Mariupol

    UKRAINIAN President, Volodymyr Zelensky warns Russian forces are preparing “a new stage of terror” that could involve the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine.

    “Today, the occupiers issued a new statement, which testifies to their preparation for a new stage of terror against Ukraine and our defenders,” Zelesnky said early this morning.

    “One of the mouthpieces of the occupiers stated that they could use chemical weapons against the defenders of Mariupol. We take this as seriously as possible.”

    Andriy Biletsky, the leader of the Azov volunteer regiment, claimed on Monday that three people in the southern port city of Mariupol had experienced “poisoning by warfare chemicals, but without catastrophic consequences”.

    The UK’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, said work was under way to verify the claims, adding: “Any use of such weapons would be a callous escalation in this conflict and we will hold [Vladimir] Putin and his regime to account.”

  • Milica Cosic logging on this morning. I’ll be bringing you the latest news and updates on the Russia- Ukraine war.

  • ‘Not a friendly visit’

    Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer says his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was “direct, open and tough”, according to Reuters.

    The meeting reportedly lasted about 90 minutes between the two and in a statement it says it has not been a friendly visit.

    It also mentioned that the aim has been to leave no stone unturned in seeking an end to the conflict, or at least humanitarian progress for civilians in Ukraine.

    He adds his most important message to Putin has been that the war must end because during a war there are only losers.

  • British government prepared to ‘rush through’ Chelsea sale

    The goverment is prepared to usher through Chelsea’s sale to any of the four shortlisted bidders, say reports.

    The remaining contenders to buy Chelsea must submit final offers for the Stamford Bridge club on April 14.

    According to the PA news agency, New York merchant bank the Raine Group will then hope to present a preferred bidder to Downing Street in the week of April 18.

    The Government must approve the eventual buyer, with the issuing of a new Treasury licence for the sale the final hurdle for Chelsea’s would-be new owners.

    And sources close to the Government have revealed Downing Street’s satisfaction in principle with all remaining parties in the battle to buy the club from Russian Roman Abramovich.

  • No ceasefire

    Russian Foreign Minister says Moscow will not pause its military operations before the next round of peace talks.

    In an interview for the Rossiya-24 news channel, Sergei Lavrov says he saw no reason why the talks shouldn’t go ahead.

    “The President has stressed on more than one occasion that we prefer talks,” he says, quoted by Tass.

  • Russian soldiers seen fleeing

    Russian soldiers can be seen fleeing up a country road after a hit in their hideout.

    In the video, at least two multi-purpose vehicles are seen parked next to a tree line in an open field before two missiles explode nearby.

    As the smoke clears, around a dozen men are seen sprinting up the road as further strikes hit the area, sending large plumes of smoke high into the sky.

  • Ukrainian uses Brit missile to blast Russian drone

    THIS is the dramatic moment a Ukrainian fighter uses a British-made missile to blast a Russian drone- and then flips the bird at it.

    The attack comes while Vladimir Putin’s tanks and hideouts are also being hit in Ukraine’s latest ambushes.

    Footage shows a Ukrainian soldier launching the Starstreak missile toward the Russian Orion drone.

    His fellow soldiers can be heard cheering after he shoots down the device.

    He can also be seen celebrating while extending his middle finger toward the sky.

    The clip was shared by soldier Yuriy Kochevenko who thanked Britain for the missile system and said that Ukraine uses the “support of allies effectively”.

  • German-based defence equipment manufacturer preps to help Ukraine

    Rheinmetall, German-based defence equipment manufacturer, is preparing to supply 50 used Leopard 1 battle tanks to Ukraine.

    CEO Armin Papperger tells the Handelsblatt newspaper the first tanks could be delivered in six weeks’ time, with more to follow over the next three months if the move is approved by the German government.

    Papperger says he believes Ukrainian soldiers could be trained to use the tanks in just a few days.

  • China makes semi-secret delivery of missiles to Serbia

    Over the weekend, Russia’s ally, Serbia, took the delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system.

    This comes amid Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans could threaten the fragile peace in the region.

    Media and military experts said on Sunday that six Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport planes landed at Belgrade’s civilian airport early Saturday, reportedly carrying HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems for the Serbian military.

    The Chinese cargo planes with military markings were pictured at Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport.

  • UN: Another 45,000 Ukrainians flee

    Nearly 45,000 more Ukrainian refugees fled in 24 hours, the United Nations said today, although many were trapped in their regions or were staying put hoping the war will end soon.

    The UN refugee agency UNHCR said 4,547,735 Ukrainians had fled the country since the Russian invasion on February 24 — a figure up 44,781 on Sunday’s update.

    The UN’s International Organization for Migration estimates that 7.1 million people have fled their homes but are still in Ukraine.

    “We have people in areas where there is still military Russian aggression that does not allow them to move. But there are others who prefer to stay because they hope, as we all hope, that this war will come to an end as soon as possible,” IOM chief Antonio Vitorino told CNN.

    “We are very concerned not just with the safety of the people, but also to make sure that we assess their needs: cash, health, medicine, food, shelter and even clothes.”

  • Zelensky asks South Korea for military aid

    Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has asked Seoul for any military aid if it is to survive the war.

    Speaking in a video address to South Korean lawmakers, he said his country needed more help, including weapons.

    “You have something that can be indispensable for us … armoured vehicles, anti-aircraft, anti-tank, anti-ship weapons,” he said.

    “Russia can only be forced to do this, can only be forced to seek peace.”

  • Croatia tells Russian embassy staff to leave over Ukraine invasion

    Croatia has today told 24 Russian embassy staff to leave over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “brutal aggression”, the foreign ministry said in a statement – following similar moves by other EU countries.

    The 24 included 18 diplomats, it said.

    The ministry said that the Russian ambassador was summoned in a protest over the “brutal aggression on Ukraine and numerous crimes committed (there)”.

    “The Russian party was informed about the reduction of administrative-technical staff of the Russian Federation’s embassy in Zagreb,” the statement said.

    The European Union on Friday adopted a new package of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine which includes a ban on coal imports, new restrictions on trade and the blacklisting of several oligarchs close to the Kremlin .

  • France expels six Russians accused of spying

    Six Russians suspected of working as spies have been expelled from France.

    Following a long investigation, the French foreign ministry has announced the decision to expel six Russians.

    They were working “contrary to our national interests”, the ministry said in a statement.

    The “clandestine operation” was revealed on Sunday by the intelligence services, the statement said.

  • Incredible moment surgeons pluck bullet from Ukrainian soldier’s BEATING HEART

    Incredible surgeons plucked a bullet out of a Ukrainian soldier’s beating heart during an astonishing life-saving operation.

    Extraordinary medics managed to remove the shrapnel from the wounded troop’s ticker as it continued to pump blood around his body.

    The heroic team of Ukrainian and Belarusian doctors battled to save the squaddie’s life at Feofaniya Hospital in Kyiv.

    After he was rushed into theatre from the front line, they performed open-heart surgery on the Ukrainian serviceman to prize out the bullet.

    Unbelievable footage of the extraction shows his heart still throbbing in his chest as surgeons gently tease the pellet out with tools.

    The doctors are then seen placing the small fragment into a dish after the nail-biting procedure.

  • Zelensky says tens of thousands likely killed in Mariupol

    Tens of thousands of people have likely been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said today.

    “Mariupol has been destroyed, there are tens of thousands of dead, but even despite this, the Russians are not stopping their offensive,” Zelensky said in a video address to South Korean lawmakers.

    This was reported by Reuters, but they have been unable to currently verify the accuracy of Zelensky’s estimate.

Source: thesun

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