Russia will respond swiftly to any interference in Ukraine - Putin

Guterres visits Russia and Ukraine * Russia warns the West of interfering in Ukraine * Military commander in Mariupol calls for extraction * 5,939 civilian casualties since start of war.

 A still image taken from video footage shows a fuel depot on fire in the city of Belgorod, Russia April 1, 2022. (photo credit: Russian Emergencies Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)
A still image taken from video footage shows a fuel depot on fire in the city of Belgorod, Russia April 1, 2022.
(photo credit: Russian Emergencies Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on Wednesday that he had visited Moscow and was in Ukraine in order to expand humanitarian support and secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones.

"The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world," Guterres wrote on Twitter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday warned that any countries attempting to interfere in Ukraine would be faced with a swift response from Russia and said all decisions on how Moscow would react in that situation have already been taken.

Addressing lawmakers in St Petersburg, Putin said the West wanted to cut Russia up into different pieces and accused it of pushing Ukraine into conflict with Russia.

Blasts heard in Russia's Belgorod near Ukraine border

The region's governor said an ammunition depot was on fire near the local village of Staraya Nelidovka.

Authorities are investigating blasts heard early Wednesday morning in the Russian city Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine. The cause of the blasts was not immediately clear.

 A WOMAN cries in front of a house next to hers that was destroyed by a missile amid Russia’s invasion in Lyman, Ukraine, on Saturday. We have a global responsibility to ask: Are we doing enough? (credit: JORGE SILVA / REUTERS) A WOMAN cries in front of a house next to hers that was destroyed by a missile amid Russia’s invasion in Lyman, Ukraine, on Saturday. We have a global responsibility to ask: Are we doing enough? (credit: JORGE SILVA / REUTERS)

Regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov issued a statement Wednesday on Telegram. 

“At about 03:35 I woke up from a loud sound like an explosion. While I was writing this message, three more explosions sounded,” he said, as reported by TASS. 

In a follow-up message, Gladkov clarified that, according to preliminary data, an ammunition depot was on fire near the local village of Staraya Nelidovka. He added that there were no civilian deaths or residential damage. 

Blasts were previously reported in Belgorod earlier this month when Russia claimed two of Ukraine's military helicopters allegedly struck a fuel storage facility, injuring two workers. Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for either of the attacks. 

The Belgorod province borders Ukraine's Luhansk, Sumy and Kharkiv regions, all of which have faced substantial fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine two months ago.

Mariupol defenders request for extraction

Russian forces were on Wednesday pounding a huge steel works in Mariupol where the southern Ukrainian city's last defenders and some civilians are holed up, a local official said.

There are more than 600 wounded soldiers of the Ukrainian military and the Azov Regiment are held up in the vicinity of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Sergey Volyn(Volyn), commander of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade of the Ukrainian Navy, said in a video on his Facebook page.

"Today my main message is: save the Mariupol garrison. Apply the extraction procedure to us. Now it is not 1940, now it is 2022. People here will simply die. The wounded will die and the living will die in battle, civilians will die here with us in bunkers," he added

Civilian casualty

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), 2,787 civilians were killed and 3,152 were injured, since the Russian Federation’s armed attack against Ukraine started on 24 February 2022.

The report details that 912 men, 611 women, 61 girls, and 74 boys, as well as 67 children, were killed.

In addition to total of 3,152 injured, 365 men, 296 women, 66 girls, and 73 boys, as well as 163 children and 2,189 adults whose sex is yet unknown.

The report clarifies that about half of the casualties were killed or injured on Government-controlled territory (2,388 casualties) and the other half in Donetsk and Luhansk regions (2,826 casualties)

The report added that most of the civilian casualties recorded were killed or injured by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes.