Russian military forces unleashed a new round of strikes in Kyiv and Lviv on Friday, hitting both a residential building and military aircraft repair facility, while continuing to mount aggressive sieges outside major cities in Ukraine during the fourth week of its invasion.
The strike at the repair facility near Lviv wounded one person, said regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy, and was the closest Russian strike to the center of the city just four miles away. The Ukrainian air force’s western command said it shot down two of the six missiles fired at the city from from the Black Sea. Lviv, near the Polish border, has largely been spared from the worst of the fighting, but a strike at a training facility last weekend killed nearly three dozen people. A bus repair facility was also targeted Friday, mayor Andriy Sadovyi said.
At the Kyiv residential building in the Podil neighborhood, one person was killed and 19 injured, according to emergency services and mayor Vitali Klitschko.
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Meanwhile, in an evening address to the nation Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked President Joe Biden for additional military aid but avoided detailing specifics over concerns of tipping Russian forces.
“This is our defense,” Zelenskyy said. “When the enemy doesn’t know what to expect from us. As they didn’t know what awaited them after Feb. 24,” the day Russia invaded. “They didn’t know what we had for defense or how we prepared to meet the blow.”
The fighting has led more than 3 million people to flee Ukraine, the U.N. estimates. The death toll remains unknown, though Ukraine has said thousands of civilians have died.
Among the most condemned attacks of the Russian invasion was last week’s airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol that killed three people and left 17 injured.
The World Health Organization says that’s just one of 43 confirmed attacks on hospitals and health care facilities by Russian forces since the war began. Those aggressions have killed 12 and injured 34.
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►The Ukraine military says it has captured about a thousand Russian servicemen and that an estimated 14,000 more have been killed in battle.
►Europe won’t be attempting to send its first rover to Mars this year because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Space Agency confirmed Thursday. The mission was a collaboration with Roscosmos, Russia’s state space corporation.
►Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for Europe to stop buying oil and gas from Russia: “You pay Putin $50 million every hour. Every hour. And this money is used to kill us, Ukrainians.”
►German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke for about an hour Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a spokesperson for Scholz said. Also Friday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Germany should consider imposing an oil embargo on Russia.
►Dozens of European lawmakers called on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to reopen nominations so Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine could be nominated for the honor.
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Russia won’t ask for humanitarian vote, instead to press on ‘biological laboratories’ at Security Council
At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Friday, Russia will not ask for a vote on its humanitarian resolution concerning Ukraine and instead will discuss its claims of U.S. “biological laboratories” in Ukraine, which the United States has said are baseless.
Russian U.N. ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Thursday he wouldn’t seek a vote on the humanitarian resolution, which U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called “farcical” and “doomed to fail.”
Last week, Russia discussed its claims about the alleged biological laboratories in Ukraine, but the United States responded, calling the allegations disinformation.
“We know if Russia really cared about humanitarian crises, the one that it created, it could simply stop its attacks on the people of Ukraine,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
Blinken: ‘There will be accountability for any war crimes’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that he agrees with President Joe Biden that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine.
“Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime,” he said at a White House news briefing. “I find it difficult to conclude that the Russians are doing otherwise.”
Blinken’s comments came a day after Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal.” Thursday, Biden called Putin “a murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine.”
Describing the recent attack on Ukrainians waiting in bread lines and the bombing of a theater where children were sheltered, Blinken said the U.S. is helping document potential war crimes for prosecution.
Asked what should happen to Putin if he’s found guilty, Blinken said he won’t get ahead of the investigation, but he promised there will be consequences.
“I can say with conviction that there will be accountability for any war crimes that are determined to have occurred,” he said.
— Maureen Groppe
House moves to further suspend Russia, Belarus from trade
The House of Representatives voted Thursday in a bipartisan effort to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, a decision the Senate is also likely to pass.
The House voted overwhelmingly, with a vote of 424-8, to revoke a “most favored nation” status for Russia. If passed, the suspension would be mostly symbolic: earlier sanctions of Russian oil, gas, and coal imports already cut around 60% of American imports.
The Thursday vote would make certain steel, aluminum, and plywood items more expensive to import.
— Celina Tebor
China should wield its influence on Russia for the better, Blinken says
China has a particular responsibility to use its influence on Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters the day before President Joe Biden is scheduled to talk with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But rather than defending the international rules it professes to support, Blinken said, China is instead moving in the opposite direction by refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while portraying itself as a neutral arbiter.
The U.S. is also concerned that China is considering directly assisting Russia with military equipment, something both China and Russia have denied.
During Friday’s call, Blinken said, Biden will make clear to Xi that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression.
“And,” he said, “we will not hesitate to impose costs.”
– Maureen Groppe
Contributing: The Associated Press