Russia-Ukraine live news: Rights groups defiant amid crackdown

  • The deadly attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk draws international condemnation and calls for accountability.
  • Ukrainian officials say at least 52 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the attack, for which Russia has denied responsibility.
  • Ukraine’s southern city of Odesa has imposed a weekend curfew over what it said was a Russian “missile strike threat”.
  • The European Union formally adopts new sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood and chemicals.
  • Russia’s justice ministry revokes the registration of 15 foreign organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 45

Here are all the latest updates:

Russian says ammunition depot at Ukrainian air base destroyed

Russia’s defence ministry says Russian forces have destroyed an ammunition depot at the Myrhorod Air Base in central Ukraine, Interfax news agency reported.

A Ukrainian air force MiG-29 fighter and a Mi-8 helicopter were also destroyed in the attack on the base in the Poltava region, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Sweden Democrats leader wants party to change on NATO membership if Finland applies to join alliance

The leader of Sweden’s second-biggest opposition party says he will suggest that his party change its stance towards favouring a Swedish membership of NATO, should neighbour Finland apply to join the alliance.

A change of stance by the Sweden Democrats party would mean a swing to a parliamentary majority in favour of long-neutral Sweden joining the alliance.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted the two countries to consider joining, although Sweden is more hesitant than Finland which has a 1,300 km border with Russia. The Finnish government has said it would clarify next steps in the coming weeks regarding a possible decision to seek membership.

“Then (if Finland applies) my ambition is to go to the party council with a request that we change our mind,” Jimmie Akesson told Svenska Dagbladetas, a local daily.

“What’s changed now is that Finland is very clearly moving towards a NATO membership and there are many indications this may happen in the near future. That, and the fact Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, is completely alone, has made me turn.”

Poland hosts donor conference for Ukraine refugees

Poland is hosting a donor conference on Saturday to help the more than 11 million people who have been driven out of Ukraine by Russia’s invasion or who have been internally displaced.

The event, which begins at 3pm (1300 GMT) in Warsaw, was organised by the non-governmental organization Global Citizen, the European Commission and the Canadian government. The money is largely to go to United Nations programmes and local relief initiatives.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, fresh off her solidarity visit to Kiev on Friday, is scheduled to appear in person. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join by video.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has also confirmed his participation. Since the Russian invasion began February 24, more than 2.5 million Ukrainians have crossed the border to Poland.

US to place one Patriot missile system in Slovakia: Pentagon

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin says Washington will put one Patriot missile defence system – along with American troops to operate it – in Slovakia, after Bratislava agreed to donate its S-300 air defence system to Ukraine.

Austin, in a statement, said the system would arrive in the coming days.

“Their deployment length has not yet been fixed, as we continue to consult with the Slovakian government about more permanent air defence solutions,” Austin said.

Ukraine: 10 humanitarian corridors agreed

Ukraine says 10 humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from besieged regions have been agreed for Saturday.

The planned corridors include one for people evacuating by private transport from the city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Ukraine war pushes Germany to strengthen its bunker infrastructure

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper, citing the Germany’s interior minister, reports that Berlin has started working on strengthening its basement shelters as well as building up crisis stocks in case of war.

After decades of attrition of Germany’s armed forces, Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to a major policy shift with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledging to increase defence spending and injecting €100bn ($109bn) into the army.

The government is also looking into upgrading its public shelter systems and will increase spending on civil protection, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told the newspaper.

“There are currently 599 public shelters in Germany. We will check whether we could upgrade more of such systems. In any case, the dismantling has stopped,” Faeser said.

More evacuations needed from Ukraine’s Luhansk as shelling increases: Governor

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai says more evacuations are needed from the region as shelling has increased in recent days and more Russian forces have been arriving.

He said that some 30 percent of people still remain in settlements across the region and have been asked to evacuate.

“They (Russia) are amassing forces for an offensive and we see the number of shelling has increased,” Gaidai told the public television broadcaster.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine war Refugees DAY 45 April 9 6GMT

Russia continues to hit Ukrainian non-combatants: UK intelligence

Russia continues to hit Ukrainian non-combatants, such as the civilians killed in Friday’s rocket strike on Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine, according to British military intelligence.

“Russian operations continue to focus on the Donbas region, Mariupol and Mykolaiv, supported by continued cruise missile launches into Ukraine by Russian naval forces,” the Ministry of Defence says, adding that Russia’s ambitions to establish a land corridor between Crimea and the Donbas continue to be thwarted by Ukrainian resistance.

Ukrainian forces maintaining Mariupol positions: Think tank

The Institute for the Study of War says Ukrainian forces are continuing to hold out against Russian attacks in eastern and southwestern Mariupol, which has been besieged for weeks.

They are also threatening Russian positions in Kherson, and appear to have taken more territory west of the city, the institute said in its latest assessment of the military situation.

It says Russia is attempting to regroup its forces for an offensive in the east but could be hindered by “poor morale” with the Ukrainian General Staff reporting that 80 percent of personnel in some units are refusing to fight.

A Ukrainian soldier stands on a destroyed Russian tank in the n Chernihiv region,
A Ukrainian serviceman stands on top of a destroyed Russian tank in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo]

Need for ‘clear, unified’ response on Ukraine: Biden to Ramaphosa

The White House has released more details on the call between Biden and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa.

Biden reportedly initiated the call after South Africa abstained in the vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.

According to the statement, Biden stressed “the need for a clear, unified international response to Russian aggression in Ukraine” and emphasised the “global challenges” created by the invasion.

Ramaphosa said on Friday he had had a “productive” call with Biden. “We shared views on the conflict in Ukraine and agreed on the need for a ceasefire and dialogue between Russia and Ukraine,’ he wrote on Twitter.

South Africa was one of 58 countries that abstained in the vote on Russia.

Medvedev says sanctions ‘act of international aggression’

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and prime minister and now deputy chairman of the security council, has condemned ever-tougher Western sanctions as an “act of international aggression”.

In a lengthy post on his Telegram channel, Medvedev condemned the sanctions as “illegal” and said they amounted to “a declaration of economic war”.

Zelenskyy set to appear on ’60 Minutes’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will appear on US television news programme 60 Minutes on Sunday, the show said.

In a clip shared on Twitter, correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed Zelenskyy inside a government building in Kyiv for a two-part report. “We are defending the ability of a person to live in the modern world,” Zelenskyy said.

“They say we’re defending Western values. I always say, what are Western values? Someone who lives in the United States or Europe, do they also not like children? Do they not want their children to go to university, do they not want their grandfather to live for 100 years? We have the same values.”

“I do believe that he’s one of them.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells 60 Minutes he holds Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for alleged war crimes.

Scott Pelley reports, Sunday.

— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 8, 2022

US celebrities voice support for Ukraine online

Film, TV, sports and music stars in the United States have joined a social media campaign to show support for Ukraine, urging governments, institutions, corporations and individuals to help fund humanitarian efforts in the country and other parts of the world.

The group of celebrities, which includes Bruce Springsteen, Hugh Jackman, Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi, the Jonas Brothers and Billie Eilish, among others, is being asked to use their social media accounts to publicise the effort, using the hashtag #StandUpForUkraine.

“Refugees in Ukraine and around the world need our help now,” Springsteen said in a video. “Everyone deserves safe and humane living conditions.” Actress and singer Barbra Streisand also tweeted a link to the Global Citizen campaign website, writing: “I supported and hope you will too.”

Refugees in Ukraine and around the world need our help now. Join all of us on E Street and @glblctzn as we #StandUpForUkraine, and stand up for those displaced globally because everyone deserves safe and humane living conditions.

— Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) April 8, 2022

Zelenskyy condemns missile strike on railway station

Ukraine’s president has strongly condemned the missile attack on the railway station in Kramatorsk, calling it “another war crime committed by Russia”.

“All leading countries of the world have already condemned the Russian strike on Kramatorsk,” Zelenskyy said during his nightly address. “We are anticipating a solid global reaction to this war crime.”

He added: “Everyone responsible for this will be brought to justice.”

Nicaragua blasts UN decision to remove Russia from Human Rights Council

Nicaragua’s foreign ministry has condemned the United Nations General Assembly’s decision to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, calling it a “violation of international law, incompatible with the Charter of the United Nations”.

“Any action aimed at eliminating or suspending” a country from international bodies “constitutes a violation of human rights and is an aggression against its people”, the ministry said in a statement.

Nicaragua was one of 24 nations that voted against removing Russia from the human rights body.

Some Russian forces depleted: US official

A senior US defence official says the Pentagon has determined that some of the Russian combat units that retreated from the Kyiv area in recent days are so heavily damaged and depleted that their combat utility is in question.

The official described these units as “for all intents and purposes eradicated”, with only a small number of functioning troops and weapons remaining.

The official, who spoke to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity, said that the US believes Russia has lost 15 to 20 percent of the combat power it had assembled along Ukraine’s borders before launching its invasion.

Death toll from Kramatorsk station rises to 52: Official

The death toll from Russia’s missile attack on Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine was raised to 52 people, up from 50, Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a message on Telegram, adding that at least five children were among those killed.

US curbs Russian access to foreign fertilisers and valves

The US has broadened its export curbs against Russia and Belarus, restricting access to imports of items such as fertiliser and pipe valves.

The Biden administration also restricted flights of American-made aircraft owned, controlled or leased by Belarusians from flying into Belarus “as part of the US government’s response to Belarus’s actions in support of Russia’s aggressive conduct in Ukraine”.

The Commerce Department said it will begin requiring Russians and Belarusians to get a special license when seeking to obtain a host of goods from US suppliers and pledged to deny those licenses. The goods include fertilizer, pipe valves, ball bearings and other parts, materials and chemicals.

White House slams ‘horrific’ attack on Ukraine train station

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said the attack on Kramatorsk was “yet another horrific atrocity committed by Russia,” and the administration would support efforts to hold Russia accountable.

“Well, what we’ve seen over the course of the last six weeks or more than that has been what the president himself has characterised as war crimes, which is the intentional targeting of civilians,” Psaki said during a regular news conference.

“This is yet another horrific atrocity committed by Russia, striking civilians who are trying to evacuate and reach safety,” she said.

‘We will continue to work on Russia,’ HRW says

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has promised to continue documenting Russian rights abuses after Moscow revoked the rights group’s registration for allegedly violating the country’s “current legislation”.

The New York-based organisation said in a series of tweets there is “little doubt” that Russia’s move is in response to the group’s reporting on the war in Ukraine. It is among 15 groups to have their registrations in Russia revoked.

“We will continue to work on Russia, and we will continue to press for the protection of civilians in Russia’s war in #Ukraine,” HRW said.

BREAKING: Russia’s Justice Ministry has deregistered @hrw, after 30 years in #Russia.

The ministry’s statement referred vaguely to Russian legislation, but there is little doubt the move was in response to our reporting on the war in #Ukraine.

— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) April 8, 2022

US believes Russia used short-range ballistic missile: Defence official

The US believes Russia used a short-range ballistic missile to strike the Kramatorsk train station, a senior US defence official has said.

“We are not buying the denial by the Russians that they weren’t responsible,” the official said.

The US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon believes Russian forces used an SS-21 Scarab missile in the attack but that the motivation for the attack was not clear.

US supports investigations into Kramatorsk train station attack: White House

The White House has said the Biden administration will support investigations into the attack on the Kramatorsk train station, which authorities say was packed with women, children and elderly people.

Several US agencies had previously pledged to assist in gathering evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian police officer cries at the scene of a bombing in Kramatorsk
Ukrainian police officers react after the rocket attack in Kramatorsk [Fadel Senna/AFP]

EU to resume diplomatic presence in Kyiv

The European Union has said it will resume its diplomatic presence in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, after temporarily moving it to Poland.

Matti Maasikas, head of the EU delegation in Ukraine, joined top EU officials visiting the country on Friday and will remain in Kyiv to reopen the delegation and assess conditions for staff to return, the bloc’s diplomatic service said.

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said the move would enhance the EU’s interactions with the Ukrainian government and help support Ukrainian citizens.

Russians bury dead soldiers as nation admits major losses

Russian families have buried relatives killed in Ukraine at ceremonies with automatic gun salutes and military brass bands.

In the southern garrison town of Vladikavkaz, near the Caucasus mountains, relatives gathered for the funeral of Vitaly Dyadyushko, one of two soldiers buried on Friday in the town’s Vostochnoe cemetery. He left behind four sisters and a mother, said local leader Alexander Kusey.

“He was from a large family, and he was the only one who provided for it. I don’t know how the girls will do without him now, he helped a lot,” Kusey said. “He was not married, he did not have a chance, he was young, very young. It’s a shame when the young pass away before their time.”

Ukrainian official says 67 bodies buried in Bucha mass grave

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said approximately 67 bodies were buried in a mass grave near a church in Bucha.

Venediktova said that 18 bodies – 16 with bullet wounds and two with bullet and shrapnel wounds – had been located so far. Two were women and the rest were men, she said.

“This means that they killed civilians, shot them,” said Venediktova, speaking as workers pulled corpses out under spitting rain. Black body bags were laid in rows in the mud.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Friday, April 8 here.

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