Ukraine-Russia war LIVE – Bloodthirsty Putin unleashes troops for Battle of Donbas as he parades captured Brits on TV

VLADIMIR Putin has unleashed bloodthirsty troops into the battle of Donbass as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia’s large-scale offensive in the eastern Donbas region is underway.

Zelensky’s chief of staff said the assault on the Donbas marked the start of the “second phase” of the war.

Explosions were heard along the entire front as Vladimir Putin launched a major new offensive to seize control of the east.

The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council had earlier said Moscow tried to break through defences in the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions.

Zelensky’s comments follow warnings from other senior officials that Russia has begun its assault on the eastern region on Monday.

In a video address he said: “We can now confirm that Russian troops have begun the battle for the Donbas, which they have been preparing for a long time.

“A large part of the Russian army is now dedicated to this offensive.”

The brave Ukrainian leader refused to be cowed by the latest Russian attack, saying: “No matter how many Russian soldiers are brought here, we will fight. We will defend ourselves.”

The news comes as two British men reportedly captured by Russian forces while fighting in Ukraine have appeared on Russian state TV.

Shaun Pinner, 48, and Aiden Aslin, 28, were shown appealing to Boris Johnson in two separate videos on Monday.

They were asking to be exchanged with a pro-Russian politician held in Ukraine.

It is not clear if their pleas to the prime minister were made under duress.

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

  • ‘Huge boost to Ukraine’

    Boris Johnson will hand Stormer armoured missile launchers to Ukraine to unleash hell on Mad Vlad Putin’s army.

    Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, said: “The Stormer/Starstreak combination will be a huge boost to Ukraine’s fighting capability.

    “It is an extremely ­effective, highly mobile combat vehicle that will do severe damage to any attempts at low-level attack by Putin’s air force.”

  • Street battles taking place in Kreminna

    According to reports street battles are taking place in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kreminna.

    Ukraine says Putin’s forces have seized control of Kreminna, which is in the Luhansk region.

    Serhiy Haidai, the regional administrator, says four civilians in the town have died.

    He tells Ukrainian TV that heavy artillery fire left seven residential buildings in flames and targeted a sports complex where the nation’s Olympic team trains.

  • 1,260 targets hit overnight Russian Defence Ministry claim

    The Russian Defence Ministry says missile and artillery forces struck 1,260 targets in Ukraine overnight.

    It says “high-precision air-based missiles” hit 13 Ukrainian positions in parts of the Donbas, including the key town of Slovyansk.

    It also says other air strikes “hit 60 military assets of Ukraine”.

  • Who is Malcolm Nance?

    Malcom Nance is an American author and media pundit, specialising in topics of terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture.

    The MSNBC foreign policy analyst frequently discusses the history, personalities and organisation of jihadi radicalisation, including al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), Southwest Asian and African terror groups, as well as counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare.

    In 2014, Nance founded and became the executive director of the think tank, Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI).

    His expertise in terrorism and warfare stems from his time he served in the U.S. Navy.

    Between 1981 and 2001, Nance received several military decorations as a U.S. Navy specialist.

  • MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance joins war against Russia in Ukraine

    MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance has left the network to fight in Ukraine’s war against Russia.

    The former naval intelligence officer, 61, appeared on Joy Reid’s program The Reid Out on Monday night wearing full combat gear and carrying a firearm.

    The Ukrainian and American flags could be seen on his body armor.

    Nance spent time in Ukraine before Russia launched the invasion and said he had friends fearing for their survival.

    Speaking from a secure location, Nance told Reid: “The more I saw of the war going on, the more I thought, I’m done talking all right? It’s time to take action here.

    “I am here to help this country fight what essentially is a war of extermination.”

  • ‘Final Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol stormed’

    Special forces are now storming Mariupol’s Azovstal iron and steel works plant a Russian-backed separatist official in the eastern Donbas region says.

    This is where the final Ukrainian troop holdouts are sheltering.

    Eduard Basurin, who represents the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, tells Russia 24 TV channel that specially selected “assault groups” are being helped by Russian aviation and artillery.

    Basurin also denies reports by Ukrainian officials that many civilians, including children, are hiding at Azovstal.

  • Boy, three, wounded in Russian shelling

    A THREE-year-old was among those wounded after a Russian missile strike hit the city of Lviv on Monday – which killed seven and injured 10 others.

    Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi posted a video on Twitter showing Artem — who he said traveled hundreds of miles to Lviv with his mother to flee Russian bombings in Kharkiv — receiving medical attention on his hand. 

    Doctors could be seen in the video operating on the youngster’s left hand and then wrapping it with tape as a few people watched by his side.   

    Iuliia Mendel, a former spokesperson of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on Twitter that Artem lost part of his finger in the attack. 

    On Monday morning, Ukrainian authorities said three Russian missiles struck military infrastructure in Lviv, and a fourth hit a tire fitting shop in the city.

  • ‘People should not be heading to Ukraine’

    UK government minister Brandon Lewis has given more reaction about the two British men reportedly captured by Russian forces.

    Lewis was asked on Sky News if a swap was something the government would consider.

    Lewis replied saying: “We’re actually going through the process of sanctioning people who are close to the Putin regime, we’re not going to be looking at how we can help Russia.”

    Lewis emphasised people from the UK should not be going out to Ukraine.

    He said: “People should not be taking what is in reality an illegal route through into a very dangerous situation.”

  • Commander of Russian Black Sea ship is killed

    Putin has suffered another blow as the commander of a Russian Black Sea vessel has been killed days after the humiliating sinking of the Moskva flagship.

    Captain Alexander Chirva died from wounds sustained in a battle with Ukrainian defenders, said the governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev.

    Chirva was commander of the large landing ship Caesar Kunikov, which is part of the Black Sea Fleet.  

    Razvozhayev failed to give more details about the circumstances of the captain’s death.

    There were reports that the Caesar Kunikov was hit by Ukrainian fire on March 24, but it is unclear if this was the incident which led to the captain’s death. 

  • Russian bases ‘REVEALED’ by Google Maps

    RUSSIA’S military airbases have been unveiled in uncensored Google Maps images, Ukraine has claimed – although the tech giant insists the sites have always been visible.

    The country’s military shared high-quality images alleging to show Russian command posts near Murmansk, Kamchatka and Kursk.

    In the Twitter post, the force claimed the images – which show “Russian launchers, intercontinental ballistic missile mines, command posts and secret landfills” – were newly uncensored by Google.

    But the tech firm has insisted the shots were always available.

    A Google spokesperson said: “We haven’t made any blurring changes to our satellite imagery in Russia.”

    Russian media later claimed images display “the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, a nuclear weapons store near Murmansk, submarines in the Far East peninsula of Kamchatka, and a military airbase in the Western city of Kursk”.

  • Ukraine renews plea for Mariupol humanitarian corridors

    Ukraine has called on Moscow to allow the opening of a humanitarian corridor to let people safely leave the city.

    There are no corridors running today after officials from both countries failed to agree a plan.

    Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk also requested a second corridor from the area of the Azovstal steelworks as the industrial plant is under holdout. This would allow a safe exit route for women, children and other civilians.

    Writing on Telegram, Vereshchuk warned the Russians could be found liable for war crimes if they refused to open exit routes.

  • Ukraine strikes village near border

    Ukrainian forces have struck a village near Russia’s border with Ukraine, the governor of the Russian province of Belgorod is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

    It was not clear what the nature of the strike was.

  • Boris Johnson to hand Stormer armoured missile launchers to Ukraine

    Boris Johnson will hand Stormer armoured missile launchers to Ukraine to unleash hell on Mad Vlad Putin’s army.

    Their 17 Starstreak missiles can blitz low-flying jets and helicopters.

    Experts hailed them “the best kit” yet sent by any Western power.

    Sources say the MoD showed off the Stormers’ punch to Ukrainians at a display on Salisbury Plain two weeks ago.

    The 13-ton, high-tech launchers can be loaded on to C-17 transport planes and flown to the war in days.

    They only need a crew of three — a driver, commander and gunner.

    And they will allow President Volodymyr Zelensky’s army to speed into positions at 50mph, fire, then get away fast.

    The deployment of “a handful of Stormers” alongside 120 personnel carriers already pledged marks a significant increase in heavy weaponry from Britain.

    So far Western powers have only provided ­shoulder-mounted weapons.

  • First pictures reveal Putin’s warship Moskva sinking

    CHILLING first pictures show Putin’s doomed flagship Moskva on fire and sinking into the Black Sea after being shot by Ukraine.

    It comes as video footage has surfaced appearing to show the stricken Moskva with smoke pouring from it and a rescue tug boat nearby.

    They show damage to the stricken Russian warship’s left side along with flames burning below deck and a thick pall of black smoke rising into the sky. 

    Moskva is then shown sitting low in the water, leaning to the port side, and appears to have deployed its lifeboats with no crew visible on board.

    Its rear helicopter door is also open, suggesting the aircraft has taken off.

    A voice in the video can be heard saying in Russian: “Mother******! What the f*** are you doing?!” before the short clip ends.

  • Russia has begun major new offensive 

    Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said last night that the long-feared “battle for the Donbas” is finally underway.

    Explosions were heard along the entire front as Vladimir Putin launched a major new offensive to seize control of the east.

  • EU slams ‘indiscriminate’ Russia bombing of Ukraine civilians

    The European Union has today condemned Russian for the “indiscriminate” bombing of civilians in its invasion of Ukraine, after deadly strikes hit the western city of Lviv.

    “The EU condemns the continued indiscriminate and illegal shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure by Russian armed forces,” said a statement by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

  • New set of US arms for Ukraine starting to arrive

    The first shipments of a new US military aid package have arrived at Ukraine’s borders to be handed over in its fight against the Russian invasion, a senior Pentagon official said today.

    The United States on April 13 unveiled a $800-million tranche of equipment for Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armored personnel carriers.

    “There have been four flights from the United States arriving into the theater just yesterday,” a senior Pentagon official said, with a fifth flight due shortly.

    The package includes 18 155mm howitzers for the first time, as well as 40,000 artillery rounds, 200 M113 armored personnel carriers, 11 Mi-17 helicopters and 100 armored multi-purpose vehicles.

    “There has been an effect on Putin’s ability to restock and resupply, particularly in the realm of components to some of his systems and his precision-guided munitions,” the US official added.

  • Macron says talks with Putin stalled

    Emmanuel Macron has said that his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin have stalled since mass killings were discovered in Ukraine.

    “Since the massacres we have discovered in Bucha and in other towns, the war has taken a different turn, so I did not speak to him again directly since, but I don’t rule out doing so in the future”, the French president told France 5 television.

    “I will go back to Kyiv, but I will go there to bring something useful with me… because it’s obvious that I don’t need to travel there to show this support,” Macron added.

    “If I go to Kyiv, it will be to make a difference.”

  • Police say 269 bodies recovered in Irpin

    Ukrainian investigators have examined 269 dead bodies in Irpin, near Kyiv, since the town was taken back from Russian forces in late March, a police official said today, as workers dug fresh graves on its outskirts.

    The town, which had a pre-war population of about 62,000, was one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops before they pulled back from Ukraine’s northern regions to intensify their offensive in the east.

    “As of now, we have inspected 269 dead bodies,” said Serhiy Panteleyev, first deputy head of the police’s main investigation department, at an online briefing.

    He said forensic work was ongoing to determine the cause of death for many of the victims.

    He said seven sites in Irpin where civilians were allegedly shot have been inspected, without giving further details.

  • Town ‘lost’ to Russian forces

    The town of Kreminna, in the eastern Luhansk region, has allegedly been “lost” to Russian forces.

    Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, wrote on Telegram: “At the moment, control over the city of Kreminna is lost.”

    Earlier it was reported that Russian forces earlier entered the town and street fighting began.

  • Ukrainians queue for hours to buy ‘Russian warship go f*** yourself’ stamps

    It has been reported that people have waited in six-hour queues in Kyiv over the weekend to buy commemorative “Russian warship go f*** yourself” stamps.

    It comes after a Ukrainian soldier guarding Snake Island used it the quote to tell Russia’s Moskva warship that he and his colleagues would not surrender.

    Weeks later, the Moskva sank after what Ukraine said was a successful anti-ship missile attack.

    Kyiv 16.04.22 A six-hour queue outside the central post off to buy Ukraine’s new “Russian warship go f*** yourself” stamp. The most sought after stamp ever and a further indication that #Russia doesn’t understand #Ukraine, and won’t subjugate it

    — Luke Harding (@lukeharding1968) April 18, 2022

  • Moment Putin’s nuclear bomber flies close to Ukraine border

    THIS is the chilling moment one of Vladimir Putin’s nuclear bombers was caught flying close to the Ukrainian border in a major military escalation.

    The TU-160 strategic bomber was seen in the skies over Western Russia amid huge pressure on the Kremlin over the sinking of the Moskva flagship in the Black Sea

    Videos yesterday caught four aircraft – one used to carry nuclear bombs – over Kaluga region, between Moscow and the Ukrainian border. 

    The Defence Ministry in Moscow had not immediately announced the purpose of the mission. 

    Larger Tu-95s have been used a number of times to strike targets in Ukraine with non-nuclear weapons, notably Kh-55 and Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles.

  • Russia broadcasts video of captured ‘Britons’ demanding UK PM negotiate their release

    Russian state TV broadcast a video today of what it described as “Britons” captured fighting for Ukraine demanding that Prime Minister Boris Johnson negotiate their release.

    The two haggard-looking men identified as British nationals Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin asked to be exchanged for Viktor Medvedchuk, a wealthy Ukrainian businessman close to President Vladimir Putin, who was recently arrested in the pro-Western country.

    The broadcast did not specify where or by whom — Russian forces or Moscow’s separatist allies in eastern Ukraine — the two men were being held.

    The recordings were presented as interviews with journalist Andrei Rudenko, of the Russian state broadcaster VGTRK.

    In the clip, Rudenko shows the two men a video published last week by Oksana Marchenko, Medvedchuk’s wife, who demanded her husband’s exchange for the two Britons.

    The detainees then asked in English to be exchanged for the businessman.

    In a statement released through Britain’s foreign ministry, Pinner’s relatives said the pair were “being held by the Russian army”.

    It added both families were working with the ministry “to ensure their rights as prisoners of war are upheld according to the Geneva Convention”.

  • Thank you for reading my coverage this evening. My colleague, Louis Allwood will be back with you from 6am tomorrow.

  • UN seeks humanitarian contact group for Ukraine

    UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths announced Monday that he will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey this week to push for the creation of a “humanitarian contact group” involving Ukraine and Russia.

    Such a group would “meet convened by the UN to discuss on a virtual or actual basis at any time to discuss humanitarian issues,” Griffiths told reporters in New York.

    That could include ceasefire monitoring, safe passage, humanitarian corridors or other issues between the two warring sides, he said.

    Griffiths did not say when he would meet Erdogan, but said he planned to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday and leave Thursday.

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