Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (April 21)

Ed Jones, AFP via Getty Images

People fleeing the Ukrainian city of Mariupol arrive at a registration center for internally displaced people in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday. They traveled in a small convoy that crossed through territory held by Russian forces, after the opening of a humanitarian corridor.

As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:

Russia claimed victory in its bid to take the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, though some Ukrainian soldiers remain inside the city’s steel mill. Russian President Vladimir Putin told his defense minister in a televised meeting not to storm the Azovstal plant with its sprawling tunnels, directing him instead to seal grounds “so that not even a fly could come through.” The Ukrainian soldiers previously rejected several Russian calls to surrender. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy said around 120,000 civilians remain stranded in the besieged and destroyed city.

The U.S. is providing another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, President Biden said, adding that he plans to ask Congress for more funding next week. The new package includes heavy artillery weapons, ammunition and tactical drones. According to the Pentagon, the new military aid should start reaching Ukraine by the weekend. Leaders from Spain and Denmark, in Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy, also pledged to send more weapons to Ukraine.

China maintained its stance of refusing to criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Chinese leader Xi Jinping said his government supports diplomatic talks to resolve international disputes and opposes “wanton use” of sanctions.

The Biden administration announced a new program for Ukrainian refugees to come directly to the U.S. with support from a U.S.-based sponsor. U.S. officials hope the new procedure will discourage Ukrainians from attempting to enter the country from Mexico. The “Uniting for Ukraine” program will allow Ukrainian refugees, with financial guarantees from a person or a group in the U.S., to stay in the country for up to two years.


Polish women band together to give Ukrainian women car rides to safe refuge.

Ukrainian band DakhaBrakha delivers an urgent message to U.S. audiences.

‘Navalny’ documentary spotlights the Russian who dared to take on Putin.

Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here’s what her life looks like today.

Dozens of comic creators collaborate on an anthology to benefit Ukrainian refugees.


Mariupol evacuations fail as the U.S. agrees to more aid for Ukraine.

Earlier developments

You can read more news from Thursday here and more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find NPR’s full coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.

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