On Wednesday, Russian troops increased their presence on the Donetsk and Lugansk fronts. They launched a new offensive towards Lyman City.
On April 20, the second phase of the Russian military operation continued to unfold. Previously, Russia opened a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian troops who agreed to lay down their arms to leave the embattled city of Mariupol. Below are the main events of this conflict as they happen.
G7 to increase pressure on Russia due to situation in Ukraine, says statement
G7 countries will sustain and increase their pressure on Russia due to the situation in Ukraine, according to a statement released following a meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Washington on Wednesday.
"We will sustain and increase our coordinated pressure for as long as necessary and continue to urge other countries to support our efforts," the document said.
Heads of G7 finance ministries and central banks also noted that G7 together with partners across the world would continue to take coordinated action responding to the ongoing escalation "to further raise the cost of this war for Russia." "We will also continue to work closely together and with our partners to enforce our sanctions and prevent any attempts to evade, circumvent or backfill sanctions," the statement said.
G7 countries expect the total amount of additional support to Ukraine to exceed $24 bln for 2022 and beyond, according to a statement.
"Building on the G7 Finance Ministers' statement of 14 February 2022, together with the international community we have provided and pledged considerable additional support exceeding 24 billion US dollars for 2022 and beyond, both in financial and material terms," the document said.
The sanctions against Russia over the situation in Ukraine have been designed in a targeted way to minimize harm for third countries and the global economy, G7 nations said.
"We designed our sanctions in a targeted way to minimize harm for third countries and the global economy and we have excluded key agricultural products and humanitarian necessities from sanctions, ensuring the availability of food stuffs, medicines and medical devices as well as enabling telecommunication services to support the flow of information," the statement said.
G7 countries are committed to not conducting government-to-government financial transactions with Russia and they call upon other states and international institutions to join them, according to a statement released following a meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Washington on Wednesday.
"We are strongly committed to not conducting government-to-government financial transactions with Russia, including voluntary trading in Special Drawing Rights, and call upon other countries to join us in further limiting Russia’s ability to finance its unprovoked and unjustifiable war of choice against Ukraine. Russia must not obtain financing from the international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. We welcome the decision by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to suspend the access by Russia and Belarus to its resources," the statement said.
G7 countries together with partners will continue addressing the economic difficulties related to the situation around Ukraine, according to a statement released following a meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Washington on Wednesday.
"We, together with like-minded partners, remain committed to addressing the economic challenges" due to the situation around Ukraine, the document said. Substantial increases in commodity and food prices, as well as broken supply chains, were mentioned as examples. "We are committed to addressing food insecurity, keeping markets open, and enhancing the resilience of the global economy," the statement said.
G7 also called on international financial institutions "to urgently bolster support for food security and agricultural production and provide support to the most vulnerable countries."
G7 countries have agreed to enhance energy security and secure a stable energy supply, according to a statement released following a meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Washington on Wednesday.
"We will continue to coordinate closely to enhance our energy security and to secure a stable and sustainable energy supply," according to the document published on the website of the German Federal Ministry of Finance.
The participants of the meeting also emphasized that all G7 economies "have undertaken concrete steps to reduce imports of Russian energy supplies.".
Blocking Russian oil, gas imports would mean hara-kiri for Europe, says Le Pen
French National Rally presidential candidate Marine Le Pen believes blocking Russia’s oil and gas imports would mean hara-kiri for Europe but would not harm Russia itself.
"We cannot commit hara-kiri with the hope of hurting Russia," she said during a televised debate with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday evening. Le Pen will face the incumbent president in a presidential runoff scheduled for April 24.
Macron’s far-right challenger claimed she opposed imposing an embargo on Russia’s gas and oil supplies as it would do harm to the French people. "The only sanctions I disagree with is the blocking of Russian oil and gas imports. Why do I disagree? Because in reality it will do no harm to Russia and will do enormous harm to our people," she explained.
Chile confirms that writer and filmmaker Gonzalo Lira is missing in Ukraine
Chilean-American writer and filmmaker Gonzalo Lira, who resides in Ukraine, lost contact with his acquaintances and relatives on April 15 and his current whereabouts are unknown, the Foreign Ministry of the South American country informed Sputnik Agency.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Consult Section in Moscow, was informed that those close to Chilean Gonzalo Lira Lopez, who was in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv (Kharkiv), lost contact with him since April 15," the ministry said.
The Foreign Ministry explained that the Government is in contact with the relevant diplomatic entities to keep informed about any news on the writer's whereabouts.
Before his disappearance, the writer made a series of comments on Twitter criticizing Vladimir Zelenski, which generated suspicions on social networks of the possible involvement of third parties in the matter.
Lira's last tweet on March 26 was: "Want to know the truth about the Zelensky regime? Google these names Vlodymyr Struk, Denis Kireev, Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich, Nestor Shufrych, Yan Taksyur, Dmitri Djangirov, Elena Berezhnaya; if you haven't heard from me in 12 hours, put my name on the list."
China guarantees supplies of Russian products to its market, says ambassador in Moscow
Demand for Russian goods in China is growing, China is ready to guarantee uninterrupted supplies of Russian products to its market, Chinese Ambassador in Moscow Zhang Hanhui said at a meeting of the parliamentary group for relations with the Chinese Parliament in the State Duma, lower house of the Russian parliament.
"We are working to ensure reception of Russian goods in a priority mode from our side, and guarantee uninterrupted supplies of Russian products to the Chinese market. I think that the demand for Russian goods [in China] is growing," he said.
The head of the Chinese diplomatic mission in Moscow added that the Chinese embassy was ready to promote the development of business ties between entrepreneurs of the two countries.
"I would like to note that the embassy is ready to provide all kinds of assistance to Russian entrepreneurs, our partners in establishing contacts and cooperation with Chinese entrepreneurs, with regions, with interested organizations," he said, noting that the Chinese market is "quite huge" and requires long and deep exploration.
NATO tries to prolong fighting in Ukraine. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries are doing everything to prolong the armed conflict in Ukraine.
They are increasing the supplies of military equipment, weapons and ammunition to Ukraine and pushing Kiev to continue "aggression" against Donbass, Zakharova stressed, adding that these deeds go against NATO countries' words that hostilities in Ukraine should end as soon as possible.
Since the beginning of Russia's special military operation, Ukraine has attracted about 7,000 foreign mercenaries from 63 countries, with the United States as one of the major sources, Zakharova said.
Russian forces control more areas in the Donbas region. On Wednesday, Russian troops increased their presence on the Donetsk and Lugansk fronts. The Ukrainian General Staff holds that Russian troops launched a new offensive towards Lyman City in Donetsk.
The Russian objective, however, remains to conquer Mariupol and gain full control over the southern region of Kherson. According to the British intelligence, Russian troops are trying to disrupt the movement of reinforcements and weapons into eastern Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Russia gave a new ultimatum to the Ukrainian troops in Mariupol to surrender and thus save their lives.
Russia successfully test-fires Sarmat strategic missile. Russia announced that it successfully test-launched a Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday at a time when Moscow-West tensions have sharply escalated over Ukraine.
The missile was fired from a silo at 15:12 Moscow Time at the Plesetsk state test cosmodrome in northwest Russia's Arkhangelsk region, the country's Defense Ministry said, adding that the training warheads reached a given area at the Kura test ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula and the tasks were completed in full.
Dettaglio delle operazioni russe nell'est ucraino. Il triangolo "Izyum, Lyman, Kramatorsk" passante per Sloviansk sarà fondamentale per la manovra di accerchiamento e ricongiungimento col fronte di Melitopol/Mariupol. #Russia #Ukraine #RussiaUkraineWar pic.twitter.com/K7eLuWLrRD— Paolo Mauri (@PaoloMauri78) April 20, 2022
The tweet reads, "Detail of Russian operations in eastern Ukraine. The 'Izyum, Lyman, Kramatorsk' triangle, as it passes through Sloviansk, will be essential for the encirclement and reunification maneuver with the Melitopol / Mariupol front."
After the test, President Vladimir Putin said the new missile complex has "the highest tactical and technical characteristics and is able to overcome all modern means of anti-missile defense."
Sarmat will strengthen the combat potential of the Russian Armed Forces, protect Russia from external threats, and "make those who, in the heat of frenzied and aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country think," he said in an online meeting with top defense officials.
Agreement to evacuate vulnerable population from Mariupol. On Wednesday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that Ukraine and Russia reached a preliminary agreement on establishing a humanitarian corridor to evacuate women, children and the elderly from Mariupol City.
Residents will be evacuated to Ukraine's southern city of Zaporizhzhia through the Berdyansk town, which is controlled by Russian forces. Meanwhile, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Ukraine hopes to send 90 buses to to evacuate about 6,000 women, children and elderly people.