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Ukraine's capital was reeling Friday from Russian missile strikes that hit a residential high-rise in the city and killed at least one person, according to local officials.
The attack, which came just after the head of the United Nations met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday, delivered a deadly jolt of war after weeks of peace since Moscow's forces withdrew from the area to refocus on the country's east.
In the eastern Donbas region, Russia's assault made some limited progress in an offensive that has drawn the West deeper into the conflict as it tries to aid Ukraine's defense with more weapons and leave Russian President Vladimir Putin mired in a damaging war.
To help Ukrainians fend off Russian forces, the United States will begin training the country's armed forces to use radar systems and armored vehicles that were included in a recent military assistance package, the Pentagon said. The training will occur at U.S. bases in Germany.
Russia still having coordination problems in attack on Ukraine, U.K. says
Despite attempts to try and learn from past failures, Russia’s military attacking Ukraine continue to suffer from poor coordination and low morale, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said.
“Shortcomings in Russian tactical co-ordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements,” the U.K. said in a daily update Saturday.
Russian forces have been concentrating on an attack in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, after suffering setbacks in the invasion Moscow launched against Ukraine on Feb. 24, officials have said.
A senior U.S. Defense Department official said Friday that “Ukrainians continue to resist effectively in the Donbas,” and that Russian forces are behind schedule in part because of that.
Zelenskyy accuses Russia of trying to destroy Donbas
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to destroy the Donbas and all who live there.
“The constant brutal bombardments, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people. Therefore, the defense of our land, the defense of our people, is literally a fight for life,” he said late Friday in his nightly video address to the nation.
He said the cities and towns of the Donbas will survive only if Ukraine remains standing. “If the Russian invaders are able to realize their plans even partially, then they have enough artillery and aircraft to turn the entire Donbas into stones. As they did with Mariupol.”
Zelenskyy said Mariupol, once one of the most developed cities in the region, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins.”
Russian foreign minister claims West will fight until 'the last Ukrainian'
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed Friday that the West intends to fight until “the last Ukrainian” and that NATO countries are trying to prevent a political deal to end the conflict in Ukraine.
In an interview with the Chinese state media agency Xinhua, Lavrov also said the West is jeopardizing the world’s food and energy security for the sake of its own geopolitical ambitions.
Lavrov said the country’s war on Ukraine — which he called a “special military operation” — “contributes to the process of freeing the world from the neo-colonial oppression of the West.”
In a separate interview with Al Arabiya, a television news station based in Dubai, Lavrov said Russia does not consider itself to be at war with NATO, but NATO considers itself to be at war with Russia. He also said that weapons shipments to Ukraine were “fair game” for Russian forces.
When Lavrov was asked in the Al-Arabiya interview about U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians, Lavrov cut the interviewer off.
“There is no need for anybody to provide help to open humanitarian corridors. There is only one problem … humanitarian corridors are being ignored by Ukrainian ultra-nationals,” he said.
“We appreciate the interest of the secretary-general to be helpful,” he added. “(We have) explained … what is the mechanism for them to monitor how the humanitarian corridors are announced.”
20 percent of Kharkiv's residential buildings damaged beyond restoration, mayor says
Nearly a quarter of the residential buildings in Kharkiv, a major city to the north, have been damaged beyond repair, the city's mayor said.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 20 percent of the city’s residential buildings have been so badly damaged that it will be impossible to restore them.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that the situation in Kharkiv was “brutal” but Ukrainian troops and intelligence agents “have had important tactical successes,” he said without elaborating.
Ukraine cracks down on ‘traitors’ helping Russian troops
KHARKIV, Ukraine — Nearly 400 people in the Kharkiv region alone have been detained under anti-collaboration laws enacted by Ukraine’s parliament and signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
Offenders face up to 15 years in prison for collaborating with Russian forces, making public denials about Russian aggression or supporting Moscow. Anyone whose actions result in deaths could face life in prison.
“Accountability for collaboration is inevitable, and whether it will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow is another question,” Zelenskyy said. “The most important thing is that justice will be served inevitably.”
Although the Zelenskyy government has broad support, even among many Russian speakers, not all Ukrainians oppose the invasion. Support for Moscow is more common among some Russian-speaking residents of the Donbas, an industrial region in the east. An eight-year conflict there between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces had killed over 14,000 people even before this year’s invasion.
U.S. to train Ukrainians in Germany on weapons
WASHINGTON — Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby announced Friday that the U.S. would begin training with Ukrainians in Germany on artillery, radar, and armored vehicles.
Kirby became emotional when he was asked if Putin was a rational actor, saying it was difficult to look at images of the war and imagine a “well-thinking, serious, mature leader would do that.”
“I can’t talk to his psychology, but I think we can all speak to his depravity,” Kirby said.
U.N. works to broker civilian evacuation from Mariupol
KYIV, Ukraine — The United Nations doggedly sought to broker an evacuation of civilians from the increasingly hellish ruins of Mariupol on Friday, while Ukraine accused Russia of showing its contempt for the world organization by bombing Kyiv while the U.N. leader was visiting the capital.
The mayor of Mariupol said the situation inside the steel plant that has become the southern port city’s last stronghold is dire, and citizens are “begging to get saved.” Mayor Vadym Boichenko added: “There, it’s not a matter of days. It’s a matter of hours.”
Ukraine’s forces, meanwhile, fought to hold off Russian attempts to advance in the south and east, where the Kremlin is seeking to capture the country’s industrial Donbas region. Artillery fire, sirens and explosions could be heard in some cities.
In Ukraine, a how-to on throwing Molotov cocktails
ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Builder Ivan Kiriluck, 32, said he couldn’t just carry on building homes as normal when war broke out with Russia.
Instead, he set up a range in his garden where people can learn to throw Molotov cocktails.
“When they are training at our technical place, they get out of here with big smile and big hope that they will win,” he said.
“It’s more a psychological thing. It’s more than weapons … They can do this at home, in the kitchen, you can make this and protect your family.”
Ukrainian forces retake village near Kharkiv
Hundreds of people have been evacuated to Kharkiv from the nearby village of Ruska Lozava that had been under Russian occupation for more than a month.
Almost half the village has escaped on buses, in shrapnel-ridden cars or on foot after fierce battles saw Russian troops pushed back and Ukrainian forces take full control of the village, according to the Kharkiv regional governor.
A video posted by the Azov battalion shows troops raising the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag over the government building in the center of the village although fighting continues on the outskirts.
Upon arrival to Kharkiv less than 12 miles (20 kilometers) away, those who fled have described to Associated Press reporters the dire conditions they faced while living in basements with little water and food and no electricity.
“We were hiding in the basement, it was horror. The basement was shaking from the explosions, we were screaming, we were crying and we were praying to god,” said Ludmila Bocharnikova.
Ukraine aid, Covid relief jammed up in Congress over immigration dispute
Both are jammed up over an unrelated dispute about immigration, with Senate Republicans filibustering the bipartisan Covid relief bill unless the Democratic-controlled chamber votes on an amendment to reimpose the Trump-era Title 42 rule. The rule allow U.S. officials to turn away asylum-seekers at the border due to the pandemic.
One option sought by Democrats is to link the Covid bill to Ukraine aid, which has broad and deep support in both parties as Russia’s war rages on.
Western weapons flow in to Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted NATO members and allies to pledge billions of dollars in military support to Kyiv, supplying weapons systems that range from surface-to-air missiles to heavy artillery and surveillance equipment.
Some of the technology has been around for decades, while some is cutting-edge. Some of the weapons can be carried like a backpack, and others need to be towed by large trucks.
Analysts say the hardware provided so far has already played a pivotal role in repelling Russian advances. Ukraine has repeatedly called for more weapons, saying they could make the difference as Russia redoubles its efforts in the eastern parts of the country.
Read about some of the weapons being fast-tracked to Ukraine.
Afghans under stricter rules than Ukrainian refugees, advocates say
Afghans trying to enter the U.S. to escape Taliban rule are subject to stricter requirements than Ukrainians trying to flee the Russian invasion of their country, and thousands of Afghans — even some threatened by the Taliban — have been rejected, refugee advocates say.
“There are clearly two refugee systems — one for Ukrainians and one for Afghans,” said Matt Zeller, co-founder of No One Left Behind, a nonprofit that helps Afghans and Iraqis who worked as interpreters or other jobs for the U.S. government.
“Afghans are our longest wartime ally ever — you’d think we’d want to do right by them,” Zeller said.
The Biden administration rejects the criticism, arguing that the U.S. has brought in tens of thousands of Afghans since the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan last year and that it continues to work to help Afghans come to America.
Russia behind schedule in Donbas offensive, U.S. official says
A senior U.S. Defense Department official said Friday that Russia is "likely a few days behind" schedule in its attack on the Donbas region of Ukraine.
"The Russians are making slow and uneven progress," the official said.
More than a dozen flights with equipment and weapons are expected in Ukraine from the U.S. in the next 24 hours, including Phoenix ghost drones, artillery rounds and radars, the official said.
In the last 24 hours, nearly 20 flights have gone in to the region, carrying equipment including mines, small-caliber rounds and rockets, 122 mm rockets, helmets and body armor, according to the official.
Scenes from the Kyiv apartment building hit by Russian airstrike
KYIV, Ukraine — The morning after the deadly airstrike in Ukraine's capital, crews were busy cleaning out debris from the heavily damaged residential building.
There was a massive hole on the lower three floors of the high-rise, facing the presumed military factory across the street that Russia said was its target. The front wall was sheared off and floors collapsed, windows blown out, with dust and glass everywhere.
Someone had placed a bouquet of red roses in the shattered window of one of three cars parked in front of the building, an apparent tribute to the resident killed by the Russian attack. Yet as NBC News drove down the quiet residential street, just a block away was an untouched park where children played soccer and people were out walking — a testament to the dual life that this city now leads.
New gas pipeline boosts Europe's bid to ease Russian supply
ATHENS, Greece — Mountainous and remote, the Greek-Bulgaria border once formed the southern corner of the Iron Curtain. Today, it’s where the European Union is redrawing the region’s energy map to ease its heavy reliance on Russian natural gas.
A new pipeline — built during the Covid-19 pandemic, tested and due to start commercial operation in June — would ensure that large volumes of gas flow between the two countries in both directions to generate electricity, fuel industry and heat homes.
The energy link takes on greater importance following Moscow’s decision this week to cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria over a demand for payments in rubles stemming from Western sanctions over the war of Ukraine.
Americans should not go to Ukraine to fight, Pentagon says
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby is warning Americans against going to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion, following the death of a former U.S. Marine, Willy Joseph Cancel.
Speaking on CNN on Friday, Kirby said: “We continue to urge Americans not to go to Ukraine. ... This is an active war zone, this is not the place to be traveling to.”
Kirby expressed condolences for Cancel's family and said he understood his "altruistic motives" for traveling to Ukraine. However, he emphasized that there are ways to support the effort against Russia's invasion in "a safe, effective way."
Russia using Transnistria to smuggle weapons, Ukrainian defense ministry says
Russia has been using ammunition depots in Transnistria to smuggle weapons for 30 years, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said Friday on the Ukrainian TV news channel Nastoyaschee Vremya.
Task forces of Russian troops stationed in the area perform yearly mobilization exercises near the village of Kovbasniy, during which “defensive and counteroffensive operations are carried out with the use of ammunition from warehouses. … Part of the ammunition is used for combat training, according to military intelligence, for smuggling,” he said.
The spokesperson added that Russia’s current action in Transnistria pointed to Russia’s willingness to use the region as a springboard for further violence against both Ukraine and the neighboring republic of Moldova.
Ukraine to receive 495 million euros from the World Bank
Ukraine will receive an additional 495 million ($474 million) euros from the World Bank Trust Fund, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance.
This is in addition to the 88.5 million euros ($93.2 million) that has already been transferred to the Ukrainian state budget. Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and the World Bank Regional Director for Eastern Europe Arup Banerjee signed the addition to the grant agreement on Friday.
The additional funds will come from the United States, Norway and Austria.
In a statement, the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance said that the funds would prioritize social and health care expenditures, and support for "internally displaced persons."
Norway shuts borders to Russian goods, exempting fishing vessels
Norway will close its borders and ports to Russian trucks and ships, joining sanctions imposed by the European Union over the war in Ukraine, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday.
Russian fishing vessels, which often land their catch at ports in northern Norway, will receive exemptions from sanctions.
Norway’s Arctic Svalbard archipelago, which operates under a 1920s treaty allowing expanded foreign access, will also be exempted, the ministry said.
Starlink internet becomes a lifeline for Ukrainians
Parts of war-torn Ukraine that have little or no internet service have found an alternative: emergency Starlink receivers.
The SpaceX-run satellite internet service that CEO Elon Musk touted at the start of the war has emerged as a lifeline for many areas of the country, with over 10,000 dish antennas in service and more on the way.
Ukraine war curbs euro zone growth, inflation hits new high
Euro zone economic growth was slower than expected in the first three months of the year, preliminary data showed on Friday, as the war in Ukraine started on Feb 24 hit economic activity and helped drive inflation to a new high.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter for a 5.0 percent year-on-year gain. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 0.3 percent quarterly growth.
Euro zone inflation rose to 7.5 percent in April from 7.4 percent in March, in line with expectations, driven by a persistent surge in energy and food prices that have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
American killed fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, his family says
An American fighting with Ukrainian forces has been killed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to his family.
Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, died Monday in Ukraine, his family members confirmed to CNN.
Mariupol mayor: Steel plant siege goes on, more than 600 injured trapped inside
Mariupol continued to be bombarded with heavy shelling and aerial attacks, leaving thousands dead and more than 600 wounded, Mariupol's mayor Vadym Boichenko said on Friday.
More than 20,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the invasion, he said, adding: “It’s not only a war crime, but also a genocide of Russian-speaking people in Mariupol.”
Boichenko said the Mariupol forces restrained the Russian onslaught, buying time for other cities. He hoped for an evacuation out of the “fortress” of Azovstal steel plant where hundreds of women, children and elderly remain surrounded by Russian forces.
Two British aid workers captured by Russian forces, NGO says
Two British humanitarian workers have been captured in southern Ukraine, an aid organization has said.
Presidium Network, a U.K.-based non-profit, said the two men were captured on Monday while attempting the rescue of a Ukrainian family from a village south of the city of Zaporizhzhia.
"They managed to get through the Ukraine checkpoint to go south into Russian -controlled area," Dominic Byrne, the organization’s founder, told BBC News on Friday. Their contacts lost contact with them on Monday morning."
He said the civilians waiting to be evacuated raised the alert when they began receiving inconsistent text messages, supposedly from the aid workers. Two hours later, their house was stormed. Russian soldiers confronting them repeatedly asked how they knew "those British spies."
Donetsk region, Kharkiv hit by artillery strikes, killing several, Ukrainian officials say
Kyiv was not the only region attacked by Russian artillery strikes in the last 24 hours.
The Donetsk region, the focus of a renewed Russian offensive, was hit 11 times, the National Police said in a Telegram post, including a strike on Mariupol. These attacks left three civilians dead and others six injured, police said.
In Kharkiv, Russian troops fired 16 artillery shells and fired attacks from two jets and one missile strike, killing five civilians and injuring 11, according to a statement from Oleg Synegubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration on Telegram.
Pelosi attends Ukraine photo exhibit at the Capitol
Slim prospects for peace in near future, former U.N. deputy head says
Russia and Ukraine are not ready to make peace, the former deputy head of the United Nations has said.
"This is not a conflict tragically, which is ready for peacemaking by anybody, let alone the United Nations" Lord Malloch Brown, former U.N. deputy secretary general, said in an interview with Sky News on Friday. Neither side is "ready to make concessions," he added. The U.N.'s primary focus is now on efforts to establish humanitarian corridors for the safe evacuation of refugees, he said.
Malloch Brown also condemned the missile strikes that hit Kyiv on Thursday while current U.N. chief António Guterres was visiting, stating: "Countries everywhere will recognize they cannot have their U.N. secretary general ... treated in this disrespectful, casual and frankly dangerous way, by Putin and the Russian regime."
Radio journalist killed in Kyiv missile strike, employer says
Radio Liberty journalist Vira Girych was killed on Thursday after a missile struck her house in Kyiv, the media organization confirmed in a statement on Friday.
The strikes took place after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday. The Russian defense ministry said their artillery launched 975 “firing missions” overnight, destroying a string of military and space assets.
It is unclear whether Girych was the person the city’s mayor said was found dead Friday morning. He said that the body of one person was found in the rubble of a residential building after Thursday’s attack.
Radio Liberty is part of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, an independent media corporation funded by the U.S. Congress.
Clearing out missiles in Kharkiv
U.K. sends war crimes investigators to Ukraine
The United Kingdom will send war crimes experts to Ukraine to assist in ongoing investigations of Russian actions, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Friday.
The experts, some of whom have expertise in investigating sexual violence, are scheduled to arrive in early May. Russian troops have been accused by Ukrainians of mass murder and sexual assaults. NBC News has not verified any of those claims.
"Russia has brought barbarity to Ukraine and committed vile atrocities, including against women," Truss said in a news release. "British expertise will help uncover the truth and hold Putin’s regime to account for its actions. Justice will be done."
Kyiv calm shattered
Russian military steals more than 60 tons of wheat, Ukrainian authorities say
Russian military forces stole more than 60 tons of wheat from an agricultural site in the town of Kamyanka-Dniprovska, near Zaphorizhzhia, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said Thursday.
“The Russians exported 61 tons of wheat and other property by truck, which was also stolen from the branch,” it said in a statement on Telegram.
1 killed in Kyiv missile strike, mayor says
One person has died in overnight missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv's mayor said Friday.
Vitali Klitschko said in a Telegram post just after 10.30 a.m. local time (3.30 a.m. ET) that rescuers working at a residential building in the Shevchenkivskyi district in Kyiv found a body.
Russian missile strikes hit the city Thursday after United Nations representatives met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Local officials said that an attack hit a residential area and at least 10 people were injured in the attack.
Overnight airstrikes destroyed Ukrainian military sites and space industry plants, Russia says
Russia's armed forces struck a number of space industry and military sites across Ukraine, the Russian defense ministry said in a Telegram post Friday.
Russian artillery launched 975 "firing missions" overnight, their targets including the Artyom missile and space enterprise in Kyiv, a string of unnamed military assets, and three traction power substations near the Fastov, Krasnosyolka and Polonnoe railway hubs.
Russia has been targeting rail infrastructure as part of a strategy to disrupt military supply routes and attack morale, experts have said
The post said that, in total, Russian forces had destroyed 1,175 Ukrainian artillery and mortars, alongside almost 2,500 military vehicles.
Russia continues its eastern offensive, Ukraine's military says
Russian forces continued their operations in eastern Ukraine, maintaining positions near Kharkiv and preventing Ukrainian troops from regrouping in Donetsk, Ukraine’s military said Friday.
“The enemy continues offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and maintain the land corridor with the temporarily occupied Crimea,” the general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine said in an operational update.
Russia has also blockaded Ukraine's troops near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the update said. According to the military, the plant has become a last stand for Ukrainians as Russia advances in Mariupol, holding hundreds of wounded soldiers and civilians.
It also said that Russian forces have restricted the movement of civilians in regions under their control, detaining residents and blocking Ukrainian humanitarian aid.
Zelenskyy thanks Biden, U.S. for supporting Ukraine's fight
Kyiv wakes up to aftermath of new attack
Russia making 'limited' territorial gains in attempted eastern advance, U.K. says
Russian forces have been attempting to advance south from the eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum as they continue a focus on the Donbas region, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry has said.
Fighting has been particularly heavy around Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, which are both in the Luhansk oblast, or province, it said in a daily intelligence update Friday "Due to strong Ukrainian resistance, Russian territorial gains have been limited and achieved at significant cost to Russian forces," the ministry added.
A senior U.S. Defense Department official also said in a briefing Thursday in Washington that Russian forces have been continuing to try to move south out of Izyum. “They are making some slow and incremental progress, but not enough that changes the actual battlefield situation,” the official said.