This live blog is now closed. For the latest updates please check here.
More than 900 people were discovered to have been fatally shot in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia’s withdrawal, Ukraine police said Friday.
Most of those civilians were “simply executed," said Andriy Nebytov, who leads Kyiv's regional police force. The bodies were abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials.
Russia’s defense ministry has vowed to increase missile strikes on Kyiv after weeks in which the Ukrainian capital had begun to recover from Russian attacks.
On Friday, U.S. officials said that the sinking of Russia's Moskva, the flagship of Putin's Black Sea fleet, was caused by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles.
Russia sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States warning that American and NATO shipments of the "most sensitive" weapons systems to Ukraine could bring "unpredictable consequences" and were "adding fuel" to the conflict.
NBC News has not seen the note, but a White House official who has confirmed the contents of the note first reported by The Washington Post.
This revelation comes as President Vladimir Putin suffered a fresh blow with the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of his Black Sea fleet.
While a fierce battle raged for control of the key port city Mariupol in the southeast, Russia's defense ministry vowed to increase missile strikes on Kyiv after weeks in which the Ukrainian capital had begun to recover from Russian attacks.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed his country for its resolve during 50 days of war but said it had become clear that the Donbas region was now the “main target for Russia.”
- More than 900 civilians were discovered fatally shot in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia’s withdrawal — most of them fatally shot, police said Friday.
- Russia’s Defense Ministry promised to step up missile attacks on Kyiv in response to Ukraine’s alleged assaults on Russian territory.
Full coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Devastated roads, infrastructure hampering humanitarian aid in Ukraine, U.K. says
Roads in Ukraine have been devastated by the war launched by Russia, which is causing a “significant challenge” in getting humanitarian aid to parts of the country, the United Kingdom defense ministry said Saturday.
Russian troops have made the damage worse “by destroying bridges, employing land mines and abandoning vehicles along key routes as they withdrew from northern Ukraine,” the defense ministry said in its daily update.
At least 7.1 million people in Ukraine have been internally displaced, on top of the more than 4.5 million who have fled the country as refugees, the United Nations’ humanitarian office said this week. The war has caused a humanitarian crisis, officials have said.
Photographing the war in UkraineApril 16, 202208:26
Biden genocide comment raised concern among some U.S. officials
President Joe Biden’s declaration this week that Russia is committing “genocide” in Ukraine raised concerns among some officials in his own government and has so far not been corroborated by information collected by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to senior administration officials.
At the State Department, which is tasked with making formal determinations of genocide and war crimes through an independent legal process, two officials said that Biden’s seemingly offhand declaration during a domestic policy speech in Iowa on Tuesday made it harder for the agency to credibly do its job.
U.S. intelligence agencies collect information when allegations are made of actions that could amount to genocide, but policymakers are the ones who actually decide whether to declare it. Intelligence reports on Ukraine currently do not support a genocide designation, officials said.
Read the full story here.
Death toll in Kharkiv attack rises to 10, governor says
Ten people have now died in a Russian attack on the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the governor said, an increase from the seven previously reported.
A 7-month-old child is among the dead in Friday’s attack, Oleh Syniehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said on Telegram.
He said Russian forces fired on a residential area of the city. Thirty-five people were hurt, he said.
NBC News could not independently verify the claims. Russia has denied targeting civilians. Others, including the U.S., have accused Russian forces of committing war crimes, citing credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and the deliberate targeting of civilians.
Police: More than 900 civilian bodies found in Kyiv region
KYIV, Ukraine — The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia’s withdrawal — most of them fatally shot, police said Friday, an indication that many people were “simply executed.”
The jarring number emerged shortly after Russia’s Defense Ministry promised to step up missile attacks on Kyiv in response to Ukraine’s alleged assaults on Russian territory. That ominous warning followed the stunning loss of Moscow’s flagship in the Black Sea, which a senior U.S. defense official said Friday was indeed hit by at least one Ukrainian missile.
Amid its threats, Moscow continues preparations for a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine. Fighting also continues in the pummeled southern port city of Mariupol, where locals reported seeing Russian troops digging up bodies. In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, shelling of a residential area killed seven people, including a 7-month-old child, and wounded 34, according to regional governor Oleh Sinehubov.
Britain’s defense ministry says loss of Russia’s naval flagship will force changes to naval force operations
LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says the loss of Russia’s naval flagship will likely force Moscow to change the way its naval forces operate in the Black Sea.
The Moskva sank after being damaged in disputed circumstances. Ukraine says it struck the vessel with missiles, while Moscow acknowledged a fire on board but not any attack.
In an update posted Friday on social media, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said the Soviet-era ship, which returned to operational service last year after a major refit, “served a key role as both a command vessel and air defence node.”
It said the sinking “means Russia has now suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine, the first being Russia’s Alligator-class landing ship Saratov on 24 March. Both events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea.”
Ukraine’s Zelenskyy asked Biden to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism
Ukrainian President Zelenksyy has asked the Biden administration to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, two sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News.
The Washington Post first reported the request.
Asked last month if the U.S. would consider designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, White House press secretary Jen Psaki and Secretary of State Antony Blinken both left open the possibility.
“We are and we will look at everything,” Blinken said on March 17.
The designation triggers some of the most aggressive sanctions the U.S. government could adopt on a country, with restrictions on financial transactions and defense exports and sales, as well as foreign aid.
Currently, only four countries are on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism: Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba.
Zelenskyy asks Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorismApril 15, 202202:45
Website of French state-owned radio broadcaster unavailable in Russia following critical coverage
The website of France’s state-owned radio broadcaster, RFI, appeared to become unavailable in Russia on Friday after the country’s media and internet watchdog added one of its pages with critical coverage of the war in Ukraine to its registry of blocked websites.
The communications agency, Roskomnadzor, has been restricting access to news websites this week in line with a ruling by Russia’s Prosecutor General on Tuesday, which mandates the blocking of outlets publishing “information inciting mass disorder, extremist activity or participation in mass (public) events violating the established order, and unreliable information which is of public significance.”
According to the Roskomnadzor registry, the authorities blocked an RFI article citing a story by French magazine Le Figaro which alleged Russian servicemen rape women in Ukraine, but the broadcaster said its entire website ended up being unavailable in Russia.
Earlier on Friday, Roskomnadzor apparently cut access to the Russian-language site of Russia’s top independent English-language news outlet, The Moscow Times, citing the same ruling.
On Wednesday, Russian state media also reported that the agency ordered a Russian streaming platform to remove all podcasts published by the BBC, whose Russian-language website was blocked in March alongside those of U.S. and German news organizations.
Ukrainian Neptune missiles sunk Russia's Moskva ship
The sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of his Black Sea fleet, was cause by two Ukrainian Neptune missiles, the U.S. believes, according to a senior defense official.
The official said there is no clear picture for why the ship’s air defenses did no kick in, but said they could have been affected by maintenance problems or not turned on. Alternatively, the missiles may have come in at an angle that evaded the air defense systems.
The symbolic setback comes as Russian forces prepare for a major offensive in Ukraine’s east. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed his country for its resolve during 50 days of war but said it had become clear that the Donbas region was now the “main target for Russia.”
Nearly 2,000 civilians confirmed killed in Ukraine since Russian invasion began
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday that nearly 2,000 civilians have been confirmed killed since the start of Russia's invasion on Ukraine.
Between Feb. 24 and April 14, 1,982 civilians have been killed and 2,651 have been injured, according to OHCHR.
"OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration," said a release.
More than 70 of those killed were children. Nearly 150 children have been injured.
"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes," the OHCHR release said.
Baby among 7 killed by Russian shelling, Kharkiv's governor says
A seven-month-old baby was among seven people who died when Russian forces shelled residential areas of Kharkiv, the city’s governor said in a statement posted to his Telegram channel Friday.
Seven people died in total and 34 people, including three children were injured, Oleh Syniehubov said in the statement which was translated by NBC News.
NBC News could not independently verify his claims and Russia has repeatedly denied it is targeting civilians.
Kyiv Oblast civilian death toll reaches 900
Kyiv Oblast's regional police chief said Friday that the number of civilians killed there has reached 900.
Two mass graves found in Bucha, a city in Kyiv Oblast, outside of the capital of Kyiv, added significantly to the toll, Kyiv Region Police Chief Andriy Nebytov said. Forty people were found in the first grave and 57 were found in the second. The vast majority of the victims had been shot.
"Bucha has the highest number of casualties, which means that the occupiers operating in Bucha were the most brutal. We have already taken more than 350 bodies from the city," Nebytov said.
Russia warns U.S., NATO to stop sending weapons to Ukraine
A White House official on Friday confirmed that Russia has sent a formal diplomatic note to the United States saying weapons shipped to Ukraine from the U.S. and NATO were "adding fuel" to the conflict.
The note, reported by The Washington Post, said deliveries of the "most sensitive weapons" could result in "unpredictable consequences" for the U.S.
Biden on Wednesday authorized an additional $800 million in weapons for Ukraine.
NBC News has not seen the note, but a White House official who has confirmed the contents of the note reported by The Washington Post.
A State Department spokesperson said they would not confirm any private diplomatic correspondence.
But, the spokesperson said: "What we can confirm is that, along with Allies and partners, we are providing Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of security assistance, which our Ukrainian partners are using to extraordinary effect to defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked aggression and horrific acts of violence."
7 dead after Russian servicemen fired on civilian buses, Ukraine's attorney general says
Seven people died when Russian servicemen fired on buses as they were evacuating civilians on Thursday, the office of Ukraine’s attorney general said in a statement posted to its Telegram channel.
Another 27 people were injured in the incident which took place in Borova, a small village around 35 miles south of Kyiv, the statement, translated by NBC News, said.
NBC News could not independently verify the claims and Russia has repeatedly denied it is targeting civilians.
Ukraine says Russia used long-range bombers on Mariupol
Ukraine’s defense ministry spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said on Friday that for, the first time since the start of its invasion, Russia used long-range bombers to attack the besieged port city of Mariupol.
Motuzyanyk said Russia was concentrating its efforts on seizing the cities of Rubizhne, Popasna and Mariupol.
Ukraine war will 'devastate global food security,' head of World Food Programme says
Hundreds of millions of people around the world “are going to be devastatingly impacted” by the war in Ukraine, David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Programme, told NBC News by telephone Friday.
“They produce enough food in Ukraine to feed 400 million people, so where is that food going to come from if Ukraine isn’t able to get it out of the fields, into the ports and then out of the ports,” Beasley said. “Right now that’s not happening so we’re going to have a global crisis unlike one we’ve never seen before.”
He added that rising food and fuel prices were already having “a dramatic impact” on the WFP’s operational budget.
“We buy 50 percent of our wheat from Ukraine, so you can imagine if we feed 125 million people throughout the year, it’s going to be devastating for our operations,” he said.
Beasley said 45 million people were knocking on famine’s door in 38 countries, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Chad and Yemen.
So if the Ukraine conflict did not end quickly it “will devastate global food security,” he said.
“If the war doesn’t end in the next 30 days we’re talking about an extra 35 to 40 million people entering into extreme hunger,” he added.
Russian troops are digging up bodies and forbidding burials, Mariupol City Council says
Russian troops are digging up bodies previously buried in residential courtyards and not allowing new burials of “people killed by them,” the Mariupol City Council said Friday, citing reports from local residents.
“In each yard they put their own overseer, who does not allow Mariupol residents to bury their deceased relatives or acquaintances,” the council said in the statement posted to its Telegram channel and translated by NBC News.
“It is possible to assume that the Russian occupation forces are trying in every way to replace the traces of their war crimes in our city,” the statement added.
NBC News could not independently verify these claims.
Earlier this month, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said that Russian forces had brought mobile cremation equipment to the city to dispose of the corpses of victims of the siege.
Ukrainian sends supplies and chocolate to friends on frontlines
LVIV, Ukraine — Across the city here, Ukrainians are working collectively or individually to support the war effort.
Dmytro Zhultenko, who worked in software design and marketing, is operating one such effort from his home in Lviv. He keeps in contact with classmates who are now soldiers on the frontlines and organizes boxes of military supplies to support them.
While he sends a lot of tactical gear, he said the $150 he recently spent on chocolate to include in each package he ships out to his schoolmates would be “a game changer there for the morale.”
Zhultenko said he also bought about 10 cartons of cigarettes as an additional morale booster.
People are ‘starving to death’ in Mariupol, World Food Programme head says
People are “starving to death” in the besieged city of Mariupol, according to David Beasley, the executive director for the United Nations World Food Programme.
“Mariupol is the worst of the worst. We are not getting the access we need to reach the people, and when you go 50 days without food and any coming in, then you know people will be starving to death,” Beasley told NBC News by telephone Friday.
“You can only imagine what is going on inside the city,” he said, adding that he had heard “horror stories” from people who managed to flee.
Beasley said that he had written to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to say that the WFP needed access to Mariupol and several other cities in Ukraine.
“They need to let us in and feed the innocent victims of this war,” he added.
Wesley Clark: Time to double down on arming Ukraine
Wesley Clark, the retired Army general and former supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe, has said that Ukraine urgently needs more military equipment.
Clark warned on Twitter on Friday that the war was entering "a window of extreme danger for Ukraine and for NATO," and that the country is not receiving enough military equipment from its allies.
"The only way through this is to double-down on arming Ukraine," he wrote.
Russia blocks The Moscow Times’ Russian language website
Russia’s communications watchdog has blocked access to the Russian language website of The Moscow Times, a newspaper that has covered Russia for three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Moscow Times said Russian internet providers had already started to block its Russian-language site. It published a notice from Russia’s communications watchdog which said its site was now blocked.
Russia’s communications watchdog did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Moscow Times editor Samantha Berkhead confirmed the block.
Finland 'highly likely' to join NATO, minister says
Finland's minister for Europe has said it is now "highly likely" the country, which shares a border with Russia, will join NATO.
"The people of Finland seem to have already made up their minds," Tytti Tuppurainen said on U.K. broadcaster Sky News on Friday, though she cautioned that the issue still needed to be discussed in the country's parliament.
Russia’s actions and its “brutal” war in Ukraine had been “a wake-up call to us all,” she said.
Moscow warned on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland join the transatlantic military alliance, Russia would deploy nuclear weapons to a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea, in the heart of Europe.
Russia vows increased strikes on Kyiv
Russia's defense ministry has said it will increase the "number and scale of missile strikes" on targets in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.
The ministry said in a statement posted to its website on Friday that the intensifying attacks would be in retaliation for "terrorist attacks or sabotage on Russian territory." NBC News has not verified Moscow's claims of any such attack.
Russia said that it had already carried out missile strikes on a military factory outside Kyiv. Loud explosions were heard from the city overnight.
The promise of further attacks around the capital comes weeks after Russian forces retreated from the area and said they were shifting their focus to an impending offensive in Ukraine's east.
9 humanitarian corridors to open Friday
Nine humanitarian corridors are set to open in Ukraine on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has said.
Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post that residents of the besieged city of Mariupol would be able to evacuate to Zaporizhzhia via their own transportation.
The announcement comes after no corridors were opened Wednesday. Vereshchuk said Russian forces had violated a cease-fire in Luhansk and blocked evacuation buses in Zaporizhzhia.
Routes to Zaporizhzhia were also expected to be open from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar for those who have their own transportation.
Evacuation routes are also expected to be opened to Bakhmut, including from Sieverodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Rubizhne and the village of Hirske.
Vereshchuk said humanitarian corridors in the Luhansk region would "work under the condition of cessation of shelling by the occupying forces."
Russia likely to review Black Sea posture after sinking of Moskva, U.K. says
Russia is likely to “review its maritime posture in the Black Sea” after the flagship of its fleet there sank following an explosion, the British defense ministry said Friday.
Russia’s defense ministry said the Moskva sank as it was being towed following a fire caused by the detonation of ammunition, according to Russian state-owned media. Ukrainian defense officials said their forces struck it with two missiles. The crew had been evacuated, the Russian ministry said.
The U.K. defense ministry said in a daily update Friday that “the Moskva served a key role" as both a command vessel and an air defense node. It was commissioned in 1979 and had been refitted and returned to service last year, it said.
“This incident means Russia has now suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine, the first being Russia’s Alligator-class landing ship Saratov on 24 March. Both events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea,” the U.K. ministry said.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday that the U.S. can’t confirm Ukrainian reports of a missile strike, but couldn’t refute it either, and was unable to confirm what caused the explosion.
“We just don’t have perfect visibility on exactly what happened. We do believe that there was a significant explosion on this cruiser,” which caused a fire, he said.