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Zelenskyy suggests the West's oil addiction enables Russia's aggression

Following a missile attack on the railway station in Kramatorsk, which the Ukrainian president called a war crime, he pleaded for more nations to ban Russian energy imports.

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As Ukraine reeled from a missile attack on a train station that left at least 50 people dead and scores more injured, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested Russia's invasion has been enabled by lucrative gas and oil exports that even some of its harshest critics find irresistible.

Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit to Ukraine Saturday, Zelenskyy said in a video message, "Oil in particular is one of the ... sources of Russian arrogance, their feeling of impunity."

On March 8, the U.K. government said it would phase out imports of Russian oil over the course of 2022. The same day the administration of President Joe Biden said it would ban Russian oil, liquified natural gas, and coal.

The European Union, however, has not been as steadfast, arguing that a total and rapid ban on Russian fossil fuels could send the continent into a recession.

Zelenskyy has long argued there might not be a continent, at least not one that adheres to Western democracy, without an end to Russia's invasion of its closest European neighbor.

"The oil embargo has to be the first step, on the level of all democratic countries, the whole civilized world," he said in an NBC News translation of a Telegram video. "Then Russia will feel it, it will be a reason for them to search for peace, to stop the useless violence."

The president credited the U.K. for its embargo and for its unhesitating help with military aid. "Ukraine will always be thankful for that, thankful to Boris, and to the United Kingdom," Zelenskyy said.

The visit came as Russia was widely condemned for the attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region.

Zelenskyy said 50 people died in the strike which he called “another war crime of Russia” overnight on Telegram. Donetsk’s governor said nearly 100 people had been injured. NBC News has not been able to independently verify these figures.

Russia denied it carried out the attack, a claim dismissed as “unconvincing” by Pentagon press secretary John Kirby in a briefing Friday.

See full coverage here.

534d ago / 12:54 AM UTC
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534d ago / 8:30 PM UTC

Zelenskyy thanks Boris Johnson for Kyiv meeting as U.K. offers more aid

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his Saturday visit to Kyiv where he briefed him on the ongoing war with Russia.

For his part Johnson said the U.K. would provide Ukraine with additional financial and military aid.

“This visit is a manifestation of strong, significant, constant support of the United Kingdom for Ukraine. We appreciate it and will remember it,” said Zelenskyy in a news release.

He added: "I am grateful to the United Kingdom for continuing these powerful sanctions, constantly increasing its packages, and also helping Ukraine by strengthening our defense capabilities."

Zelenskyy said that other Western democracies should follow the example of Great Britain , saying that it is time "to impose a full embargo on Russian energy, to increase the supply of all weapons to us."

534d ago / 7:00 PM UTC

Boris Johnson in Kyiv: ‘Putin must fail’

KYIV, Ukraine — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's surprise visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv included a pledge of 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems, part of another 100 million pounds ($130 million) of high-grade military equipment. Johnson also confirmed an additional $500 million in World Bank lending, taking Britain’s total loan guarantee up to $1 billion.

Johnson said Ukraine defied the odds pushing Russian forces “from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century.″

Johnson also described a vision for a future Ukraine so fortified and protected by the equipment, technology and know-how of Britain and its partners that it can never be threatened in the same way again. In the meantime, Johnson said, “there is a huge amount to do to make sure that Ukraine is successful, that Ukraine wins and that Putin must fail.”

534d ago / 6:02 PM UTC
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IMF creates account to allow donor countries to funnel money to Ukraine

BOSTON -- The International Monetary Fund has created an account to give donor countries a secure way to funnel financial assistance directly to war-ravaged Ukraine.

The multilateral lender said in a statement Friday that it’s launching the account at the request of several member countries.

The goal is to help Ukraine meet its payment obligations and help stabilize its economy using loans or grants from pooled resources.

The IMF says Canada has proposed routing up to 1 billion Canadian dollars ($795 million) to Ukraine through the new account.

Two weeks after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the IMF approved a $1.4 billion emergency loan to Ukraine.

534d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

S&P Global Ratings downgrades assessment of Russia’s ability to repay foreign debt

BOSTON -- S&P Global Ratings has downgraded its assessment of Russia’s ability to repay foreign debt, signaling increased prospects that Moscow will soon default on such loans for the first time in more than a century.

The credit ratings agency issued the downgrade to “selective default” Friday night after Russia arranged to make foreign bond payments in rubles last week when they were due in dollars. It said it didn’t expect Russia to be able to convert the rubles into dollars within a 30-day grace period.

S&P said it believes sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine are likely to increase, impeding its willingness and ability to honor its obligations to foreign debtholders.

The Kremlin has signaled it’s willing to pay its debts but warned it would do so in rubles if its overseas accounts in foreign currencies remain frozen.

534d ago / 4:15 PM UTC

Zelenskyy says 'Ukrainian courage deserves respect'

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave a powerful message Saturday, reminding the country of its strength for not cowering to Russia's attacks.

"Forty-five days of a full-scale war and defense against Russia’s attack. The attack by the largest country in the world, the largest by its territory, the largest by its aggressions. The largest by its impunity," he said in a Telegram video.

"Russia literally failed to account for one fact. The fact that it attacks the other largest country in the world — Ukraine. The largest by its courage. We are not afraid of massive missile strikes. Ukrainian courage has inflicted heavy losses on the Russian army, which has already lost more of its soldiers during the previous decades of regular wars."

Zelenskyy said Ukraine's courage has united the democratic world and will "always be remembered in history."

The president ended his speech by calling on world leaders to continue to stand by Ukraine.

"Ukrainian courage deserves respect," he said. "Convince your politicians. Stay with Ukraine. Stay with freedom. Stay with bravery. "

534d ago / 3:00 PM UTC

Ukrainian moms give new birth in Poland after fleeing war

534d ago / 2:31 PM UTC

U.K. PM Johnson meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv


Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Saturday, spokespeople for both leaders confirmed Saturday.

“Boris Johnson’s visit to Kyiv began with a tete-a-tete meeting with President Zelenskyy,” Andriy Sybiha, the deputy head of Zelenskyy's office said in a statement posted to his Facebook channel.

“Great Britain is a leader in Ukraine’s defense support. Leader in the anti-war coalition. Leader in sanctions against the Russian aggressor,” he added.

A spokesperson for Johnson confirmed the meeting, which was not announced beforehand, had taken place.

Ukraine's embassy in the U.K. posted a picture of the leaders on Saturday next to a winking emoji and a caption which said "Surprise."

534d ago / 2:00 PM UTC

Ukrainians, advocates call for timeline and other details on welcoming refugees to U.S.

Maryana Berezhnytska didn’t think she would ever see atrocities like the ones Russian troops are purported to have committed against civilians amid the war in Ukraine, where she lives with her daughters, 9 and 11.

“I never thought that there would be a war in our country and that my children would live in fear,” she said, speaking from Lviv last week through Facebook Messenger.

Berezhnytska and her children are afraid to go outside during the day, and even more fearful at night, tortured by the sounds of sirens.

“There is no normal life for them. Like all children in our country,” she said. “All the time we are afraid.”

534d ago / 1:14 PM UTC

YouTube blocks Russian parliament channel, drawing ire from officials

YouTube has blocked Duma TV which broadcasts from Russia’s lower house of parliament, drawing an angry response from officials who said the world’s most popular streaming service could face restrictions in response.

On Saturday, a message on YouTube said the Duma channel had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.”

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL.O, has been under pressure from Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor and officials were quick to respond.

“From the look of it, YouTube has signed its own warrant. Save content, transfer (it) to Russian platforms. And hurry up,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on the Telegram messaging service.

The communications watchdog said it had requested Google restore access to the Duma channel immediately.

Google told Reuters in an emailed comment that is was committed to compliance with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws.

534d ago / 12:33 PM UTC

Protesters in New York condemn alleged Russian sexual violence in Ukraine

534d ago / 12:02 PM UTC

Services from Kramatorsk railway station suspended after attack


Services have been suspended from the Kramatorsk railway station where dozens of people were killed by a missile attack, the state-run Ukrainian Railways company said Saturday.

Efforts to evacuate people from the main conflict zones in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions would continue and priority would be given to children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities, the company said in a statement posted to its Telegram channel.

It added new measures will be introduced to reduce the number of crowds outside of railway stations during evacuations due to the growing. number of attacks on civilians.

City Mayor Oleksander Honcharenko estimated 4,000 people were gathered at the station at the time of Friday's attack. He told Reuters on Saturday that the death toll had risen to least 52.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the attack as “another Russian war crime,” late Friday.

Moscow has denied it was responsible for the strike.

535d ago / 11:04 AM UTC

Ukrainian Railways has helped around 3.5 million to evacuate, company says


Around 3.5 million people have used Ukrainian Railways to leave their hometowns and cities, the state owned company said Saturday.

The majority of people were evacuated from the capital Kyiv, the northern city of Kharkiv and the eastern Donbas region, the company said in a statement posted to its Telegram channel. Most had traveled to the western cities of Lviv and Uzhhorod, it added.

The company said over 470,000 had used its services to leave the country and the majority had travled to the Polish cities of of Przemyśl, Warsaw and Chełm, it said, adding that others had gone to Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

535d ago / 10:28 AM UTC

Britain is one of Putin’s fiercest critics. Its politicians still get millions in Russia-linked cash.

It was a strongly worded warning from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Russian President Vladimir Putin: Invade Ukraine and there will be “significant consequences.”

Three days after that phone call last Dec. 13, Johnson’s Conservative Party received a donation of 66,500 pounds (nearly $88,000) from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of one of Putin’s former deputy ministers.

In all, Chernukhin has donated more than 2 million pounds to the Conservative Party since 2012, making her one of the largest female donors in British political history, public records from the British Electoral Commission show.

Chernukhin says that she is a vehement critic of Putin and his war, and that none of her donations have been funded by corruption or improper means. Neither she nor her husband are among those who have been sanctioned by the the British government or others, and there is no suggestion either are guilty of any wrongdoing.

Read the full story here.

535d ago / 9:48 AM UTC

176 children have died since Russian invasion, Ukrainian prosecutor general's office says


A total of 176 children have died and more than 324 have been injured as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian prosecutor general's office said in a statement Saturday.

The figure was not likely to be the total number as investigators were working to verify deaths in regions that had recently been liberated from Russian troops and areas where fighting continued, the statement posted to its Telegram channel said.

It added that the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine had suffered the most child casualities with 102 while 91 children had been killed in the capital Kyiv, the statement said. It added that children have also died in eight other cities, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mykolaiv.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilians and NBC News has not been been able to independently verify the numbers.

535d ago / 8:01 AM UTC

Americans help rescuers deliver critical aid to Ukraine

535d ago / 7:54 AM UTC

10 humanitarian corridors to open Saturday, Ukraine's deputy PM says


Ten humanitarian corridors will open on Saturday in the south and east of the country, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday.

The corridors in the Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk region include evacuation routes leading out of the cities of Melitopol and Mariupol, the Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on her official Telegram channel.

Her comments came as Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, said more people needed to evacuate as shelling had increased in recent days and more Russian forces had arrived in the region.

Gaidai told public television that some 30 percent of residents still remain in cities and villages across the region and have been asked to evacuate.

He added that Russia was “amassing forces for an offensive and we see the number of shelling has increased.”

535d ago / 7:54 AM UTC

Pentagon’s Kirby: Russia conducted railway station strike with ballistic missile

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby called the deadly attack on a Ukrainian railway station “Russian brutality.”

He dismissed Russian claims that it was not behind the attack in Kramatorsk, a city in the Donetsk region. Friday’s strike occurred as thousands of Ukrainians tried to flee the region.

“We find unconvincing Russian claims that they weren’t involved — particularly when the ministry actually announced it, and then when they saw reports of civilian casualties decided to unannounce it,” Kirby said at a briefing Friday.

He said that the U.S. assesses Russian forces used a short-range ballistic missile to carry out the strike.

“It is again, of a piece with the Russian brutality in the prosecution of this war, and their carelessness,” Kirby said.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in Ukraine. But hospitals and other structures have been attacked. The World Health Organization said it has verified over 100 attacks on health care. Images of corpses in civilian clothes in the Kyiv area town of Bucha, and accounts of survivors and witnesses of executions by Russian forces, have added to accusations that Russian forces have committed war crimes.

535d ago / 7:54 AM UTC

U.K. pledges $130M in more military aid to Ukraine

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged another $130 million in high-grade military equipment to Ukraine, saying Britain wants to help Ukraine defend itself.

Speaking Friday at a news conference with Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Johnson said he would give Ukraine’s military more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles, and precision munitions capable of lingering in the sky until directed to their target.

He also promised more helmets, night vision and body armor. The items were in addition to some 200,000 pieces of non-lethal military equipment from the UK that had already been promised.

The pledge of new weaponry came as Johnson condemned the attack on train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk earlier Friday. Women and children gathering on a train platform perished in the blast.

Johnson said both the U.K. and Germany shared the “revulsion at the brutality being unleashed, including the unconscionable bombing of refugees fleeing their homes,” adding that the train station attack “shows the depths to which Putin’s vaunted army has sunk.’’

535d ago / 7:54 AM UTC

E.U. returns ambassador to Kyiv after Russian withdrawal

The European Union has returned its ambassador to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, in a move that the international body’s foreign affairs chief hopes is followed by other countries.

Josep Borrell, the E.U. high representative for foreign affairs, made the announcement duuring a visit to Kyiv in which he also announced plans to allocate 500 million euros for more military aid.

“Our delegation is coming back, the E.U. is coming back to Kyiv, and I am sure that other delegations and embassies from member states will follow,” Borrell said Friday.

The E.U. delegation left Kyiv shortly after Russia attacked and invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, and since then had been in Poland.

Russian forces had moved against and attacked Kyiv and its suburbs, but faced resistance and setbacks before late last month beginning to remove some troops. A U.S. senior defense official said Wednesday that Russian forces near Kyiv had completed their withdrawal — but that they will be likely refit and resupplied. Officials have said they could be used in other parts of Ukraine.

Ukraine has applied to become a member of the E.U.