Russia–Ukraine War (April 18): Russians Fight in Streets of Ukrainian Town

By Epoch Times Staff
Epoch Times Staff
Epoch Times Staff
April 18, 2022 Updated: April 19, 2022

The latest on the RussiaUkraine crisis, April 18. Click here for updates from April 17.

Russians Fight in Streets of Ukrainian Town

A Ukrainian military official said street battles have begun and evacuation is impossible in the town of Kreminna. That’s one of only two spots where the Ukrainians said the Russians managed to break through on Monday along a front stretching for hundreds of miles.

Luhansk regional military administrator Serhiy Haidai said the town came under heavy artillery overnight, setting seven residential buildings on fire, and that the Olympus sports complex where the nation’s Olympic team trains was targeted.

Haidai later said on Ukrainian TV that Russians took control of the city after “leveling everything to the ground,” so his men retreated to regroup and keep on fighting. “It simply makes no sense to stand in one place, to die for everyone, without causing significant damage to the enemy,” he said.

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Biden to Speak With Allies Over Ukraine Invasion

U.S. President Joe Biden will on Tuesday hold a call with allies to discuss the Ukraine crisis, including how to coordinate on holding Russia accountable, the White House said.

“The president will convene a secure video call with allies and partners to discuss our continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia accountable as part of our close coordination,” it said in a statement.

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Ukraine Says First Civilians Killed in Lviv

Ukraine said a Russian missile attack killed seven people in Lviv on Monday, the first civilian victims in the western city.

Maksym Kozytskyy, the governor of Lviv which lies 60 km (40 miles) from the Polish border, said preliminary reports suggested there were four strikes, three on warehouses that were not in use by the military and another on a car service station.

Russia’s defense ministry said it had hit hundreds of military targets in Ukraine overnight. It said air-launched missiles had destroyed 16 military facilities in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, which are locations in the south and east Ukraine.

It added that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where Ukrainian forces were concentrated and Russian artillery struck 315 Ukrainian military targets.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Monday that the situation in Mariupol was “extremely difficult” but the city was not under full control of Russian forces.

Video and audio footage showed explosions rumbling and smoke rising from the Azovstal steelworks, which contain myriad buildings, blast furnaces, and rail tracks.

Taking Mariupol would unite Russian forces on two of the main axes of the invasion, and free them up to join an expected new offensive against the main Ukrainian force in the east.

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Putin: West’s Sanctions ‘Blitz’ Has Failed

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the barrage of Western sanctions against Russia has failed.

Putin said Monday that the West “expected to quickly upset the financial-economic situation, provoke panic in the markets, the collapse of the banking system and shortages in stores.” He added that “the strategy of the economic blitz has failed.”

The Russian leader spoke in televised remarks during a video call with top economic officials.

Putin noted that “Russia has withstood the unprecedented pressure,” arguing that the ruble has strengthened and the country has recorded a historic high trade surplus of $58 billion in the first quarter of the year.

Instead, he contended that the sanctions backfired against the United States and its European allies, speeding up inflation and leading to a drop in living standards.

Putin acknowledged a sharp hike in consumer prices in Russia, saying they rose by 17.5 percent as of April on a year-over-year basis and directing the government to index wages and other payments to alleviate the impact of inflation on people’s incomes.

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Ukraine Plans ‘Monstrous’ Provocation: Moscow

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday that Kyiv, with Western backing, is planning to shell churches, during Orthodox Easter celebrations in southern and eastern Ukraine, and then pin the blame on Moscow.

“Nationalist battalions will form more than 70 mobile groups equipped with mortars with the goal to shell Orthodox churches on Easter Sunday,” Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, the head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, said.

Orthodox Christians will celebrate the holiday on April 24, a week after the feast was held in most of the Western world. According to Mizintsev, the attacks are planned in the Zaporozhye, Nikolaev, Odessa, Sumy, and Kharkov regions. The plan is to later “accuse Russian troops of mass murder of civilians on this holy day,” he stated.

Mizintsev asserted that “several Western countries” were aiding Kyiv in the preparation of “sophisticated monstrous provocations with numerous victims.”

The Defense Ministry said it has evidence of the claims. It called on the U.N., OSCE, and the International Committee of the Red Cross “to influence the Kiev regime” to prevent the alleged planned attacks.

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Russia Hits Hundreds of Targets Across Ukraine, Fighters Cling on in Mariupol

Russia said on Monday it had hit hundreds of military targets in Ukraine overnight, destroying command posts with air-launched missiles, while authorities in the western city of Lviv, which has escaped heavy bombardment, said a missile attack killed six.

The Russian defense ministry said in a statement it had destroyed 16 Ukrainian military facilities in the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Dnipropetrovsk regions and in the port of Mykolayiv, in the south and east of the country.

It added that the Russian air force had launched strikes against 108 areas where Ukrainian forces were concentrated and Russian artillery struck 315 Ukrainian military targets overnight.

The Russian military is now trying to take full control of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which has been besieged for weeks and which would be a huge strategic prize, linking territory held by pro-Russian separatists in the east with the Crimea region Moscow annexed in 2014.

Ukrainian authorities said missiles struck military facilities and a car tire service point in Lviv, which is just 60 km (40 miles) from the Polish border. Lviv mayor Andriy Sadoviy said seven people were killed and 11 were wounded.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said troops in the pulverized port of Mariupol were still fighting on Sunday, despite a Russian demand to surrender.

“The city still has not fallen,” he told ABC’s This Week program, adding that Ukrainian soldiers continued to control some parts of the southeastern city.

Russia said on Saturday it had control of urban areas, though some Ukrainian fighters remained in the Azovstal steelworks, one of Europe’s biggest metallurgical plants, which cover more than 11 sq km (4.25 sq miles) and overlook the Sea of Azov.

On the eve of the war, Mariupol was the biggest city still held by Ukrainian authorities in the Donbass region, which Moscow has demanded that Ukraine cede to pro-Russian separatists.

Taking Mariupol would unite Russian forces on two of the main axes of the invasion, and free them up to join an expected new offensive against the main Ukrainian force in the east.

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said street fighting had begun between Ukrainian and Russian troops and he repeated a plea for people to evacuate.

Russian forces advanced overnight and taken Kreminna, he said in a televised speech, adding that authorities could no longer take people out of the town.

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Blasts Reported in Ukraine’s Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk Regions

Authorities in Ukraine’s Western and Southern regions of Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk reported multiple explosions on Monday, while a Reuters reporter heard a series of blasts in Kyiv, as Russia’s invasion of the country continues.

Six people were killed and eight wounded in Lviv where missiles struck military facilities and a car tire service point, regional governor Maksym Kozystkiy said.

Separately, authorities said some of the missiles hit areas close to a railway station and other railroad facilities, briefly disrupting normal traffic.

According to media outlet Suspilne, two people were wounded in the Dnipropetrovsk attacks.

In Kyiv, a Reuters reporter heard a series of blasts on the left bank of the Dnipro river. Local authorities were yet to provide any official information on their cause.

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Ukrainians Defy Russian Surrender Demand in Mariupol

Ukrainian soldiers resisted a Russian ultimatum to lay down arms on Sunday in the pulverized port of Mariupol, which Moscow said its forces had almost completely seized in what would be its biggest prize of the nearly two-month war.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said troops in Mariupol were still fighting despite a Russian demand to surrender by dawn.

Russia said on Saturday it had control of urban areas, with some Ukrainian fighters remaining in the Azovstal steelworks overlooking the Sea of Azov.

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Zelenskyy, IMF Managing Director Discuss Ukraine’s ‘Post-War Reconstruction’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday he spoke with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva about Ukraine’s financial stability and the country’s post-war reconstruction.

“Discussed with IMF Managing Director Georgieva the issue of ensuring Ukraine’s financial stability & preparations for post-war reconstruction. We have clear plans for now, as well as a vision of prospects. I’m sure cooperation between the IMF & Ukraine will continue to be fruitful,” Zelenskyy said in a tweet.

Georgieva confirmed the call in a tweet later in the day. “Thank you,” she wrote, addressing Zelenskyy’s Twitter handle, “for the very good call today.” She wrote support is “essential to lay the foundations for rebuilding a modern competitive #Ukraine.”

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said earlier he will attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington this week and will seek more financial assistance for Ukraine.

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Russia Responds to EU’s ‘Bankruptcy’ Predictions

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned the “Brussels masochists” that they will have to change their rhetoric if the Russian debt default they predict ends up turning into the bankruptcy—both moral and material—of the European Union.

Medvedev, who is currently deputy chairman of the national Security Council, took to Telegram to respond to remarks by the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Speaking to the Bild newspaper earlier on Sunday, she said that “Russia’s state bankruptcy is only a matter of time,” referring to the hard-hitting Western economic sanctions imposed on Moscow over its offensive in Ukraine.

Noting that “auntie Ursula” has been talking a lot about an imminent Russian default, Medvedev suggested that it was something the EU politicians “secretly dreamed about at night.”

“This is the deep strategy of the European Union, the secret intention of the masochists from Brussels and their partners in games from across the ocean [the US],” Medvedev wrote in a post.

The former president warned the EU leaders that any Russian default could turn into “both a moral and, quite possibly, material” default of the bloc itself.

“The financial system of the EU is not quite stable, people’s confidence is falling. And it didn’t shake so much even in the memorable year of 2008, and back then it was very difficult,” he said, referring to the so-called Great Financial Crash.

He sarcastically advised the EU to expect “powerful gratitude” from their citizens for hyperinflation, “which could no longer be attributed to the wicked Russians,” for the lack of basic supplies in stores and for a new migration crisis, which, in Medvedev’s opinion, “will provoke a wave of violent crime worse than the Albanian one.”

“Then the chaps in Brussels will have to change their rhetoric,” he said, adding that otherwise, “smelly bonfires of tires” will appear on the streets of “well-maintained European cities.”

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Russia Publishes Data on Foreign Mercenaries in Ukraine

An estimated 6,824 foreign mercenaries from 63 countries have come to Ukraine to fight for Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on Sunday. Of these, 1,035 have been “destroyed,” while several thousand remain. Four hundred foreign fighters are holed up in Mariupol, where nationalist forces have refused to surrender.

The most numerous group of foreign fighters (1,717) arrived from Poland, while around 1,500 came from the United States, Canada, and Romania. Up to 300 people each came from the U.K. and Georgia, while 193 arrived from the Turkish-controlled areas of Syria.

These figures were announced on Sunday by Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov. According to the general, 1,035 foreign mercenaries have been killed by Russian forces and 912 fled Ukraine, leaving 4,877 active in the cities of Kyiv, Kharkov, Odessa, Nikolaev, and Mariupol.

Roughly 400 of these foreign fighters remain embedded with Ukrainian nationalist battalions in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Konashenkov stated.

“Let me remind you that foreign mercenaries do not have the status of ‘combatants’ under International Humanitarian Law,” Konashenkov said. “They came to Ukraine to earn money by killing Slavs. Therefore, the best that awaits them is criminal liability and long prison terms,” he added.

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Ukrainian Opposition Leader’s Wife Appeals to Putin

Oksana Marchenko, the spouse of the arrested Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk, has recorded a video address to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which she requests his assistance in securing the release of her husband. It comes after she appealed to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, earlier this week.

In her statement, Marchenko suggested to Putin that there is a chance of persuading the Ukrainian authorities to swap Medvedchuk for two British mercenaries who reportedly surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces in Mariupol earlier this week. She underlined that her husband “gave his consent to be exchanged and transferred to the territory of the Russian Federation if the Russian and Ukrainian sides reach the relevant agreements.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s state security service has posted a video of Medvedchuk held on a treason charge offering himself in exchange for the evacuation of Mariupol’s trapped civilians, while two British men who surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol appeared on Russian media asking to be part of an exchange.

The video of Medvedchuk was posted Monday. In it, he appeals to Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by name to consider the exchange.

Medvedchuk was detained last Tuesday in a special operation carried out by Ukraine’s state security service, or the SBU. He escaped from house arrest several days before the hostilities broke out on Feb. 24 in Ukraine.

The British men identified themselves as Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin. In one video, Pinner asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hoped to be exchanged.

Ukrainian officials have said Kyiv wants to try Medvedchuk and ultimately exchange him for Ukrainian prisoners.

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Ukraine Claims Shelling Halts Civilian Evacuation

Ukraine’s government has halted humanitarian evacuations for the second day,  claiming Russian forces were targeting civilian evacuation corridors.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk claimed Monday that Russia was shelling and blocking the humanitarian evacuation routes.

According to Vereshchuk, the government had been negotiating passage from Mariupol and Berdyansk, among other towns, as well as from the Luhansk region.

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German Minister Claims Arming Ukraine Needed to Prevent Global Famine

Supplying Ukraine with “more effective” weaponry amid the ongoing conflict with Russia is essential to avoid an allegedly looming “global famine,” German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir has said. The official made the remarks in an interview published Sunday by the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine is increasingly turning out to be an attack on the international community,” the minister claimed.

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Serbian President Accuses Ukraine and EU Country Over Air Serbia Bomb Threats

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the secret services of Ukraine and an unidentified European Union country of being behind a series of false bomb threats against Air Serbia flights to Russia.

The Serbian national carrier is the only European airline that has not joined international flight sanctions against Russia over Ukraine’s war. Several of its flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg have been delayed or had to return to Belgrade after the anonymous bomb threats.

In an interview with the pro-government Pink TV late Sunday, Vucic said that “foreign (intelligence) services of two countries are doing that. One is an EU country, and Ukraine is another.”

The Serbian leader did not provide evidence for his claim. Other Serbian officials had alleged that the threatening emails have been sent either from Ukraine or Poland.

Vucic said that although the Air Serbia flights to Russia are not making a profit because of frequent returns to their base in the Serbian capital, the flights will continue “as a matter of our principle.”

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Ukraine Is Ready to Fight Russia for 10 Years: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said his country is prepared to fight the Russian Federation for 10 years in order to “take what’s ours” while acknowledging that doing so may come at a “high price.”

During an interview Friday on CNN’s State of the Union, Zelensky noted that Ukraine is unwilling to make any major concessions to Moscow in order to achieve peace between the two countries.

When asked whether Zelenskyy’s goal was to see Ukraine in a better position to negotiate with Russia and bring about peace or defeat Moscow’s military forces and “get them to leave” his country, the president said: “We want to liberate our country, take back what’s ours.”

Read the full article here

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5 Missiles Strike Lviv, Mayor Says

Multiple explosions believed to be caused by missiles have struck the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to witnesses there.

Lviv and the rest of western Ukraine has been less affected by the fighting than other parts of the country, and is considered to be a relatively safe haven.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Facebook that five missiles struck the city and that emergency services were responding to the blasts. He said more details would follow.

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Ukraine Completes Questionnaire for EU Membership: Official

Ukraine has completed a questionnaire that will form a starting point for the European Union to decide on membership for Kyiv, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed the questionnaire to Zelenskyy during her visit to Kyiv on April 8, pledging a speedier start to Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the EU following Russia’s invasion of the country.

“Today, I can say that the document has been completed by the Ukrainian side,” Zhovkva told the Ukrainian public broadcaster Sunday evening.

The European Commission will need to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s compliance with the necessary membership criteria, he added.

“We expect the recommendation … to be positive, and then the ball will be on the side of the EU member states.”

Zhovkva added that Ukraine expects to acquire the status of a candidate country for EU accession in June during a scheduled meeting of the European Council meeting.

The European Council is to meet June 23–24, according to the Council’s schedule on its website.

“Next, we will need to start accession talks. And once we hold those talks, we can already talk about Ukraine’s full membership in the EU,” Zhovkva said.

Russia Calls Increased NATO Military Activity in the Arctic Worrying: TASS

Russia is worried about increased activity of NATO forces in the Arctic and sees risks of “unintended incidents” occurring in the region, TASS news agency cited Russian ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov as saying on Sunday.

In March, Finland and Sweden, which are both considering joining the U.S.-led military NATO alliance, conducted combined NATO military drills. The exercise was long planned, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 added intensity to the war game. Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation.”

“The recent increase in NATO’s activity in the Arctic is a cause for concern. Another large-scale military exercise of the alliance was recently held in northern Norway. In our view, this does not contribute to the security of the region,” Korchunov said.

According to Korchunov, such activity raises the risk of “unintended incidents,” which, in addition to security risks, can also cause serious damage to the Arctic ecosystem.

He did not specify what type of incident he might be referring to.

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Ukraine Has Asked G7 for $50 Billion to Cover Budget Deficit, Says, Senior Official

Ukraine has asked G7 nations for $50 billion in financial support and is also considering issuing 0 percent coupon bonds to help it cover a war-linked budget deficit over the next six months, the president’s economic adviser Oleh Ustenko said on Sunday.

Speaking on national television, Ustenko said these options were being actively discussed.

Katabella Roberts, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.