Kyiv on Thursday said 45 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians captured by Russia had been released in a new prisoner exchange, without saying how many Russians were released.
Joe Biden will ask the U.S. Congress for an additional $33 billion to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion, according to two administration officials.
As many as 10 Russian soldiers are being investigated on suspicion of committing war crimes in Bucha, Ukrainian prosecutors said on Thursday. Dozens of bodies in civilian clothes were found in Bucha after Russian troops retreated.
Russia’s intensified its offensive in eastern Ukraine on Thursday even as the United Nations’ chief Antonio Guterres surveyed the destruction in towns outside Kyiv that experienced some of the worst horrors of the first onslaught of the war. - PTI
Here are the latest updates:
No threat of Russia using nuclear weapons, says U.S.
The U.S. does not believe that the recent escalation observed in Kremlin’s statements will lead to the usage of nuclear weapons.
“We continue to monitor their nuclear capabilities every day the best we can and we do not assess that there is a threat of the use of nuclear weapons and no threat to NATO territory,” an official said. — Reuters
Why is Gazprom cutting off its supplies to the two NATO countries?
Russian energy company Gazprom has stopped gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland citing their failure to pay in roubles. The countries have accused Russia of breach of contract, according to which payments were to be made in euros and dollars only.
Towards the end of March, Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree that from April 1, “unfriendly foreign buyers” would have to pay for gas supplies in roubles. He had also added that defaults would result in suspension of contracts.
UN head condemns Russian attack on civilians during Ukraine visit
Russia struck targets all over Ukraine on Thursday, including the attack on Kyiv that struck a residential high-rise and another building and wounded 10 people, including at least one who lost a leg, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.
The explosions in northwestern Kyiv's Shevchenkivsky district came as residents have been increasingly returning to the city. Cafes and other businesses have reopened, and growing numbers of people have been out and about, enjoying the spring weather.
The bombardment came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned the attacks on civilians.
It was not immediately clear how far away the attack was from Secretary General Guterres.
Former U.S. marine killed fighting in Ukraine, say relatives
Rebecca Cabrera informed a U.S. television news channel that her 22-year-old son Willy Joseph Cancel was killed in Ukraine on Monday. Mr. Cancel worked for a military contracting company that had sent him to Ukraine. According to Ms. Cabrera, her son worked as a corrections officer in Tennessee and had signed up to work with the private military contractor shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Mr. Cancel is the first U.S. citizen known to have been killed while fighting in Ukraine.
“He wanted to go over because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for, and he wanted to be a part of it to contain it there so it didn’t come here, and that maybe our American soldiers wouldn’t have to be involved in it,” Ms. Cancel said. She also informed that her son’s body has not been found so far.
The U.S. State Department is “closely monitoring the situation” but has not confirmed the reports yet. — AP
Russian central bank slashes key interest rate for a second time
Bank of Russia announced on Friday that it will cut the interest rate from 17% to 14% next week as “risks of price rises and financial instability were no longer rising”.
The central bank had cut rates to 17% earlier in April, saying that financial stability was not under risk for now.
In late February, the bank had increased interest rate to 20% in an emergency hike after multiple nations imposed financial sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.
The bank also said imports to Russia are declining more significantly than exports. According to the bank’s baseline forecast for this year, imports can fall by up to 36.5% and exports by up to 21%. — AFP
Ukraine resumes publishing grain export data
The country has exported 45.709 million tonnes of grains so far in the 2021/22 July-June season. The volume included 763,000 tonnes exported in April.
Ukraine’s agriculture ministry, however, did not give any comparative figures. Senior officials had previously said that Ukraine had exported around 300,000 tonnes of grain in March. — Reuters
Russia says struck Kyiv rocket plant with missiles
Russia said on Friday that its forces had destroyed the production facilities of a space-rocket plant in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with high precision long-range missiles.
"The armed forces of the Russian Federation continue the special military operation in Ukraine," the defence ministry said. - Reuters
Ukraine says evacuation from Mariupol plant planned today
Kyiv said Friday plans were in place to evacuate civilians from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol where Ukrainian forces and civilians are encircled by Russian troops.
"An operation to evacuate civilians from the Azovstal factory is planned for today," the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement.
Russia last week said it had gained full control of the strategic port city, except for the huge Azovstal industrial area.
Ukraine hopes to evacuate civilians holed up with fighters in Mariupol steel works
Ukraine hopes on Friday to evacuate civilians who are holed up in a vast steel works with the last fighters defending the southern city of Mariupol.
"An operation is planned today to get civilians out of the plant," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office said without giving details. - Reuters
U.S. House passes military lend-lease bill to speed Ukraine aid
The U.S. House gave final passage Thursday to legislation that would streamline a World War II-era military lend-lease program to more quickly provide Ukraine and other Eastern European countries with American equipment to fight the Russian invasion.
The measure, which passed by an overwhelming 417-10 vote, now goes to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.
Mr. Biden is expected to sign the bill into law, giving the administration greater leeway to send military equipment to Ukraine and neighboring allies in Eastern Europe. - PTI
US to continue engaging with India over Ukraine: White House
The United States is engaging with India over the issue of Ukraine and this will continue in the upcoming Quad summit in Japan next month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters here.
"We have had a number of engagements, as you know, with leaders in India about our approach to supporting the Ukrainians in this war, whether that is sanctions and the enormous sanctions package we've put in place or, of course, the assistance we've provided. We will convey the same sentiments in this meeting," Ms. Psaki said.
She was responding to a question on the Quad summit in Japan in May and how the issue of Ukraine would be raised or discussed. - PTI
India’s position on unilateral sanctions hasn’t changed a bit: Ministry of External Affairs
India’s position on sanctions against Russia hasn’t changed “one bit”, asserted the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), speaking about the likelihood of renewed requests from European countries for India to join the sanctions imposed by Western countries during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s European tour next week. The visit to Germany, and Denmark for the Nordic Summit, and France, from May 2-4, where Mr. Modi will meet with leaders of at least seven European countries, is the Prime Minister’s first visit abroad in 2022, the MEA said on Thursday, and while “topical issues” like Ukraine would be discussed, the government expects to see more substantive bilateral subjects on the agenda for talks.
Explosions in Kyiv after U.N. chief’s meeting with Ukraine President
Russia pounded targets from practically one end of Ukraine to the other Thursday, including Kyiv, bombarding the city while the head of the United Nations was visiting in the boldest attack on the capital since Moscow’s forces retreated weeks ago.
At least one person was killed and several were injured in the attack on Kyiv, including some who were trapped in the rubble when two buildings were hit, rescue officials said. - AP
UN votes on May 11 on replacing Russia on Human Rights Council
The U.N. General Assembly will vote on May 11 on a country to replace Russia on the world organization’s leading human rights body following its suspension over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
Assembly spokeswoman Paulina Kubiak said Thursday that the Czech Republic was the only candidate for the seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council. Seats on the Geneva-based council are divided among regional groups and a replacement for Russia has to come from an East European country.