Russia-Ukraine live news: West to ‘tighten’ sanctions on Russia | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Russia demands that Ukrainian forces holed up in a steel plant in Mariupol lay down their weapons, offering a ceasefire in area of Azovstal facility.
  • Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says Russia handed over 60 soldiers and 16 civilians to Kyiv in the fifth such exchange of prisoners of war.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for a four-day humanitarian pause to allow civilians to leave and humanitarian aid to reach conflict areas.
  • US, Canada, UK and Germany pledge military assistance to Ukraine amid Russia’s offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 55
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

EU chief says world leaders to tighten Russia sanctions

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, says world leaders have agreed to “tighten [their] sanctions against Russia and step up financial and security assistance for Ukraine”.

She was speaking after a call was convened by US President Joe Biden to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine.

Biden consulted with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, among others.

Russia demands Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol lay down weapons

Russia’s defence ministry has issued a new proposal to Ukrainian troops holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, again demanding that they lay down their weapons.

Russian troops will observe a ceasefire in the area of Azovstal while the proposal is in effect, starting at 2pm Moscow time (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday, the ministry said in a statement.

Earlier, Moscow called on Ukrainian forces to “immediately” lay down arms and issued a new ultimatum for them to give up. “We once again call on the Kyiv authorities to show reason and give the corresponding orders to fighters to cease their senseless resistance,” the ministry said.

Ukraine’s military gets more aircraft and parts to repair others: Pentagon

Ukraine’s partners have provided it with additional military aircraft and parts to repair others in Kyiv’s arsenal that were damaged or inoperable, the Pentagon has said.

“They have received additional aircraft and aircraft parts to help them get more aircraft in the air,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a news briefing, adding that Washington had not provided aircraft to Kyiv.

Russia has lost 25 percent of its combat power: US official

The US estimates that the Russian military has lost about 25 percent of the combat power it sent into Ukraine at the start of the war, a senior United States defence official has said.

“When people say the offensive has begun, that’s what they’re referring to, and we’re not pushing back on that notion,” a senior U.S. defense official said.

The official said the Russians are taking actions to improve their ability to sustain combat operations in the Donbas and to “prepare for what we believe will be larger offensives in the future.”

PEN America to honour imprisoned Ukrainian journalist at gala

Vladyslav Yesypenko, a Ukrainian journalist imprisoned in Crimea, has been named as this year’s recipient of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.

Yesypenko, 53, a freelance correspondent for Krym.Realii Project, a Crimean radio programme and news source run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was arrested last year and sentenced to six years in a Russian labour camp for alleged possession and transport of explosives.

He has denied the allegations and has said he confessed after being tortured and threatened with death.

“Indomitable reporters like Vladyslav Yesypenko have provided a portal to enable the world to see Russian occupation for what it is, an exercise of force aimed to stifle the will of free people,” Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, said in a statement.

Russia eyes construction of oil storage, exporting outlets

Russia is working on a plan to construct oil storage facilities and new exporting outlets, which would help it offset sanctions that have hampered its oil sales, officials have said.

“Some companies have been engaged in such projects and have been implementing it,” Russian Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin told reporters.

Russia has struggled with sales of its crude oil and oil products as sanctions over Ukraine have complicated financing of trade deals and hire vessels, while the United States introduced its ban on oil imports from Russia last month.

Russian shelling increasing in Donbas, British military says

Russian shelling and strikes on the Donbas line of control continued to increase but Ukrainian forces managed to repel numerous attempted advances, a British military update has said.

“Russian shelling and strikes on the Donbas line of control continue to increase, with the Ukrainians repelling numerous attempted advances by Russian forces,” it said.

“Russia’s ability to progress continues to be impacted by the environmental, logistical and technical challenges that have beset them so far, combined with the resilience of the highly-motivated Ukrainian armed forces.”

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

Read all the updates from Tuesday, April 19 here.

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