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Live: No civilian evacuations in Ukraine for third consecutive day, Kyiv says

There will be no humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians in Ukraine for a third consecutive day on Tuesday because there has been no agreement from the Russian side, Kyiv's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Tuesday. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

9:53am: Greece seizes Russian tanker as part of EU sanctions

Greece on Tuesday seized a crude oil Russian tanker off the island of Evia as part of European Union sanctions against Russia, a Greek shipping ministry official said.

The Russian-flagged Pegas, with 19 Russian crew members on board, was seized near the coastal city of Karystos in Evia.

"It has been seized as part of EU sanctions," a shipping ministry official said.

9:52am: China to increase coordination with Russia, senior Chinese diplomat says

China told Russia it will continue to increase "strategic coordination" with it regardless of international volatility, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng gave this assurance to Russian ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, on Monday, the statement said.

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9:01am: US seeks to seize superyacht in Fiji from suspected Russian owner

The United States is seeking to seize a superyacht suspected of belonging to a Russian oligarch that is docked in the Pacific island nation of Fiji, according to an application for a restraining order filed on Tuesday by Fiji's public prosecutor.

The luxury vessel the Amadea is widely believed to be owned by Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, sanctioned by the United States and European Union.

The vessel arrived in Fiji a week ago after leaving Mexico 18 days earlier and crossing the Pacific. Police are investigating.

9:00am: Russia forces attacking along broad east front, Ukraine says

Russian forces attacked along a broad front in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday as part of a full-scale ground offensive to take control of the country’s eastern industrial heartland in what Ukrainian officials called a “new phase of the war".

Ukraine's General Staff said early Tuesday that Russian forces are focusing their efforts on taking full control of the Donbas region.

“The occupiers made an attempt to break through our defenses along nearly the entire frontline,” the General Staff said in a statement.

8:44am: EU planning Russian oil embargo, says France's Le Maire

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday that an embargo on Russian oil at a European Union level was in the works, adding that France's President Emmanuel Macron wants such a move.

"I hope that in the weeks to come we will convince our European partners to stop importing Russian oil," Le Maire told Europe 1 radio.

8:43am: Ukraine says no safe corridors agreed for civilians for third successive day

Ukraine was for the third successive day unable to secure Russia's agreement on establishing any humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians trapped in cities and towns, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Tuesday.

8:29am: New Zealand imposes new sanctions on Russian banks

New Zealand unveiled new sanctions on Tuesday targeting Russia’s largest banks and financial institutions, in its response to the invasion of Ukraine.

"We are deeply concerned at the reports of brutality from Russian forces," Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement after the measures were announced.

"New Zealand continues to condemn Putin’s war and supports the International Criminal Court’s investigations into the atrocities committed against the citizens of Ukraine."

8:27am: UK not looking to help Russia, minister says on swapping Putin ally for captured Britons

Britain is not going to be looking at how to help Russia, a senior minister said on Tuesday when asked about the prospect of swapping pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk for two British fighters who were captured in Ukraine by Russian forces.

The Britons appeared on Russian state TV on Monday and asked to be exchanged for Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is being held by the Ukrainian authorities.

Asked on Sky News whether a possible swap was something the government would get involved with, Britain's Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis said: "We're actually going through the process of sanctioning people who are close to Putin regime, we're not going to be looking at how we can help Russia."

7:00am: Russian official says Ukraine strikes village near border

Ukrainian forces have struck a village near Russia's border with Ukraine, wounding one resident, the governor of the Russian province of Belgorod said on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear whether the strike on the village of Golovchino that figured in posts by governor Vyacheslav Gladkov on messaging app Telegram was carried out by artillery, mortars, missiles or was an aerial attack.

4:45am: US, allies to meet over Ukraine as conflict escalates in east

US President Joe Biden will convene a meeting of allies to discuss the Ukraine conflict Tuesday, the White House said, after Kyiv announced Russia had launched a major new offensive in the east of the country.

The meeting, announced on Biden's schedule, "is part of our regular coordination with allies and partners in support of Ukraine," an official told AFP, without naming who would be included on the video call.

It will also cover "efforts to hold Russia accountable," the White House said.

The meeting comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia, which invaded its pro-Western neighbor on February 24, had launched a large-scale offensive in the eastern Donbas region, a move predicted by Kyiv for weeks.

Fighting has intensified in eastern Ukraine after Russia withdrew troops from the region around the capital Kyiv and refocused its efforts in Donbas, which pro-Moscow separatists have partly controlled since 2014.

The United States and Western allies have heaped pressure on Moscow via sanctions, while supporting Ukraine through military and other aid.

Asked Monday whether new measures would soon be announced, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington would "continue to escalate our financial sanctions and other economic measures against the Russian Federation until and unless Moscow relents in its campaign against Ukraine."

"We have not yet seen that, and we'll continue to raise the costs."

04:30am: Turkish, British, Italian defence ministers to discuss Ukraine in Istanbul

The defence ministers of Turkey, Britain and Italy will meet in Istanbul on Friday to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine and security ties between the three NATO allies, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini will visit Istanbul at the invitation of their Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.

"At the meeting, where an exchange of views will be carried out on defence and security relations between the countries and on regional issues, developments in Ukraine are also expected to be discussed," the statement said.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea, has good ties with both and has taken a mediating role in the conflict. It has so far hosted peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers and negotiators, and has been working to arrange a meeting of their presidents.

Turkey and Italy have also increased engagement since a NATO summit last month, where the leaders of Turkey, Italy and France discussed ways to revive the SAMP-T air defence system project by the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium.

3:20am: France 24's Gulliver Cragg reports on Russia's offensive in the eastern Ukraine.

France 24's Gulliver Cragg reports from Ukraine

1:07am: Biden to hold call with allies on Tuesday over Ukraine invasion

U.S. President Joe Biden will on Tuesday hold a call with allies to discuss the Ukraine crisis, including on 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.

1:00am: 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 initially said he planned to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday and leave Thursday.

However, he tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after his announcement, forcing him to postpone his trip to an unspecified date.

Griffiths and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had spoken with Erdogan by phone Sunday to discuss the initiative.

Griffiths had visited Moscow in early April before a trip to Kyiv, to try to obtain a humanitarian ceasefire and facilitate other aid interventions.

11:40pm: New tranche of US arms for Ukraine starts 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 Monday.

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 Monday, 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.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the first shipment had arrived 48 hours after President Joe Biden authorised the aid delivery, an "unprecedented speed."

Kirby also said that soldiers deployed on the eastern flank of NATO territory since the start of Moscow's invasion will begin "in the next several days" to train Ukrainian soldiers to handle the howitzers, which are the latest generation of that weapon.

The training will be done outside Ukraine, Kirby stressed. "It'll be a small number of Ukrainians that will be trained on the howitzers, and then they'll be reintroduced back into their country to train their colleagues."

11:20pm: Biden has 'no plans' to visit Ukraine, says White House

President Joe Biden is not planning to visit Kyiv, despite Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky urging him to demonstrate US support for the fight against Russia by traveling to the embattled capital, the White House said Monday.

"There's no plans for the president to go. Let me just reiterate that," Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

A string of European leaders have made the trip to Kyiv and met with Zelensky.

However, a Biden visit would present a more complex security challenge. The Biden administration has said it instead wants to send a high-ranking official, most likely Secretary of State Antony Blinken or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Last week, Biden said "we're making that decision," although he muddied the waters by responding "yeah" when asked by a reporter whether he might go.

Psaki made clear Monday that "if anyone were to go… we wouldn't outline from here or anywhere from the government who, if and when for security reasons."

10:18pm: 'Battle for Donbas' has begun, Zelensky says

Zelensky says the 'Battle for Donbas' has begun

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed late Monday that Russia's offensive in the eastern Donbas region has begun.

"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," he said on Telegram.

"No matter how many Russian troops are driven there, we will fight. We will defend ourselves. We will do it every day,” vowed Zelensky.

Earlier Monday, Zelensky's chief of staff said the "second phase of the war” had begun but expressed optimism in the outcome. "Believe in our army, it is very strong," chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukraine's Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said Russia had attempted to break through defences "along almost the entire front line of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv" regions.

"They began their attempt to start the active phase this morning," he said. "Fortunately, our military is holding on," he added

Russian forces had managed to capture the town of Kreminna, said Danilov. "But the fighting continues. We do not surrender our territories."

9:35pm: Russian troops capture Kreminna, Luhansk regional governor says

Russian troops on Monday captured the eastern Ukraine town of Kreminna, local authorities said, as Kyiv's armed forces launched salvoes on Russian forces in the nearby settlement of Rubizhne.

"There was a major attack in the night" from Sunday to Monday in Kreminna, said Luhansk's regional governor, Sergiy Gaiday, in a statement on social media.

"The Russian army has already entered there, with a huge amount of military hardware … Our defenders have retreated to new positions," he added.

Four civilians had died as they tried to flee Kreminna, said Gaiday.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

Artmotion S.Africa

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