Ukraine’s prosecutor general says her office was readying 41 war crimes cases against Russian soldiers. Iryna Venediktova said in a live briefing on Ukrainian TV on Friday evening that the cases involved different types of war crimes, including “the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting.” Friday marked the first war crime prosecution of a member of the Russian military in Kyiv, as a 21-year-old Russian soldier went on trial for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian. The prosecutor general says two more of the suspects, who are physically in Ukraine, are likely to face preliminary hearings next week.
Ukrainian officials say their forces took out another Russian ship in the Black Sea. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said late Thursday the Vsevolod Bobrov logistics ship was struck as it was trying to deliver an anti-aircraft system to Snake Island. He says the ship was badly damaged but was not believed to have sunk. A spokesman for the Odesa regional military administration says the vessel caught fire after the strike. There was no confirmation from Russia and no reports of casualties.
Finland’s leaders have come out in favor of applying to join NATO, and Sweden could do the same within days. That would amount to a historic realignment on the continent 2 1/2 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through Moscow’s neighbors. The Kremlin has reacted to the move by Finland by warning it will be forced to take retaliatory “military-technical” steps.
An adviser to the Mariupol mayor says Russian forces have blocked all evacuation routes out of the city. The adviser, Petro Andriushchenko, said Wednesday that there were few apartment buildings fit to live in after the weeks of bombardment and very little food or drinking water. He says some residents who have remained in the city are cooperating with the Russian occupying forces in exchange for food. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says Ukraine has offered to release Russian prisoners of war if Russia will allow the badly injured fighters to be evacuated from the Mariupol steel plant. Russian forces have surrounded the plant, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the southern port city.
Ukraine's top prosecutor says the country plans to hold its first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said Wednesday that her office charged 21-year-old Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin in the Feb. 28 killing of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian in northeastern Ukraine. She didn't say when the trial will start, but her office has said it has been investigating more than 10,700 alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces and has identified over 600 suspects. Meanwhile, Ukraine shut down one of the pipelines that carry Russian gas across the country to Western Europe. And a Kremlin-installed official in the captured Kherson region says he wants Moscow to annex the region.
President Joe Biden is vowing to help American farmers try to ease a global spike in food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He visited a family farm in Illinois on Wednesday and unrolled policies meant to increase harvests in ways that the administration believes could also help to reduce grocery bills at home. The Democrat is making a pitch aimed at U.S. voters who are struggling with high food prices and nations around the globe that face destabilizing shortages. The war in Ukraine has disrupted the supply of that country’s wheat to global markets. The war also has triggered higher costs for oil, natural gas and fertilizer.
The wives of two Ukrainian soldiers defending the Mariupol steel mill have met with Pope Francis. They are asking him to intervene to arrange for a third-party evacuation of the troops before Russian soldiers capture or kill them. One of them wept as she told Francis: “You are our last hope. We hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die." Francis has been hobbled by knee trouble that makes walking and standing painful. But he stood up to greet the women and held their hands as they approached him at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience. It's a gesture he didn’t extend to others who lined up to see him.
Russia pummeled the vital port of Odesa in an apparent effort to disrupt supply lines and Western weapons shipments. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign minister appeared Tuesday to suggest that the country could expand its war aims. With the war now in its 11th week, Kyiv has bogged down Russian forces and even staged a counteroffensive. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba seemed to indicate that the country could go beyond merely pushing Russia back to areas it or its allies held on the day of the Feb. 24 invasion. The idea reflected Ukraine’s ability to stymie a larger, better-armed Russian military, which has surprised many who had anticipated a much quicker end to the conflict.
The U.S. House has emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package that beefs up President Joe Biden’s initial request. The measure signals a magnified U.S. commitment to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody three-month-old invasion. The bill won wide bipartisan support. It contains $7 billion more than Biden’s plan from last month, evenly divided between defense and humanitarian programs. The bill would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages caused by the war’s crippling of Ukraine’s normally robust crop production.
Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his country’s biggest patriotic holiday without a major new battlefield success in Ukraine, and the Kremlin made little to no progress as the war ground through its 11th week on multiple fronts. While Western analysts in recent weeks had widely expected Putin to use the holiday to trumpet some kind of victory in Ukraine or perhaps announce a mass mobilization, he did neither. Instead, he sought to justify the war as a necessary response to what he falsely portrayed as a hostile Ukraine. On the battlefield, intense fighting raged in the east, the vital Black Sea port of Odesa in the south came under bombardment again, and Russian forces sought to finish off the Ukrainian defenders making their last stand at a steel plant in Mariupol.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made energy independence more important than ever during a climate conference in South Florida. Pelosi said Monday during the opening session of the Aspen Ideas: Climate 2022 in Miami Beach that the House has already passed legislation to combat climate change, and they continue to work with the Senate to gain bipartisan support. Pelosi, who visited Ukraine earlier this month, said climate change has always been an issue of health, economics and security. She pointed out that nations that have bought oil from Russia, including the U.S. and some European countries, have effectively funded the attack on Ukraine.
A Reuters photographer who was killed while covering fighting in Afghanistan was part of a team that took home the Pulitzer for feature photography. Danish Siddiqui and his colleagues Adnan Abidi, Sanna Irshad Mattoo and Amit Dave won for images depicting the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Their work, which was moved from the breaking photography category by the judges, “balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place,” the committee wrote. Siddiqui had been embedded with Afghan special forces in July and was killed as the commando unit battled for control of a crossing on the border between southern Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Dozens of Ukrainians are feared dead after a Russian bomb destroyed a school sheltering about 90 people in eastern Ukraine. The governor of Luhansk province said Sunday that 30 people were rescued from the rubble of the school in the village of Bilohorivka but the rest probably didn't survive. Elsewhere, more explosions rocked the Black Sea port of Odesa. Meanwhile, Ukrainian soldiers making a last stand at a steel mill in the besieged city of Mariupol said they wouldn't surrender following the evacuation of civilians from the sprawling site. As the largest European conflict since World War II churned on, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. first lady Jill Biden made surprise visits to Ukraine.
The United Nations chief says he is “appalled” at the reported attack on a school in the town of Bilohorivka where many people were apparently seeking shelter from ongoing fighting. A U.N. spokesman said Sunday that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterates that civilians and civilian infrastructure must be spared under international law. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric adds that “this war must end, and peace must be established in line with the Charter of the United Nations and international law.”
The war in Ukraine has wracked the country’s southern coast as Russian forces fire cruise missiles at the city of Odesa and bombard a steel mill in the port of Mariupol where Ukrainian civilians and fighters had sought safety. Officials announced Saturday that the last women, children and older adults have been evacuated from the plant, but the fighters remain trapped. Russia hopes to complete its conquest of Mariupol in time for Victory Day celebrations on Monday. However, Ukraine’s military has flattened Russian positions on a Black Sea island that has become a symbol of resistance. And Western military analysts say a Ukrainian counteroffensive was advancing around Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city.
President Joe Biden on Friday authorized the shipment of another $150 million in military assistance for Ukraine for artillery rounds and radar systems in its fight against Russia’s invading forces. Biden says the latest spending means his administration has “nearly exhausted” what Congress authorized for Ukraine in March and called on lawmakers to swiftly approve a more than $33 billion spending package that will last through the end of September. A U.S. official says the latest tranche of assistance includes 25,000 artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment, field equipment and spare parts.
President Joe Biden is pledging that 3D printing technology will help return factory jobs to the U.S. and reduce inflationary pressures. He went to Hamilton, Ohio, on Friday to highlight commitments by five major U.S. manufacturers to boost their reliance on small and medium American firms for 3D printing. GE Aviation, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Siemens Energy have agreed to take part in the program. Biden is pressing Congress to approve a stalled competition and innovation bill that the Democratic president says is critical to bolstering domestic manufacturing and helping solve a semiconductor shortage.
The United Nations is racing to rescue more civilians from the tunnels under a besieged steel plant in Mariupol and the city at large. The effort comes even as fighters holed up at the sprawling complex made their last stand to prevent Moscow’s complete takeover of the strategic port. The fight in the last Ukrainian stronghold of a city reduced to ruins by the Russian onslaught appeared increasingly desperate amid growing speculation that President Vladimir Putin wants to finish the battle for Mariupol so he can present a triumph to the Russian people in time for a major holiday Monday. Some 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are believed to be holed up beneath Azovstal steelworks. Ukraine said a few hundred civilians were also trapped there.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has started a five-day tour to four Central American countries and Cuba by lashing out at the U.S. government. López Obrador criticized Washington for being quick to send billions to Ukraine, while dragging its feet on development aid to Central America. On his first stop in neighboring Guatemala, López Obrador demanded U.S. aid to stem the poverty and joblessness that send tens of thousands of Guatemalans north to the U.S. border. The Mexican leader has been angered that the United States has rebuffed his calls to help expand his tree-planting program to Central America.
Ukrainian fighters at Mariupol’s pulverized steel plant are holding out against Russian troops in an increasingly desperate effort to keep Moscow from taking the strategic port city. The wife of one of the fighters said the troops would not surrender and her husband told her “words of goodbye.” Thursday's bloody battle came amid growing suspicions that President Vladimir Putin wants to present the Russian people with a major battlefield success in time for Victory Day on Monday, which marks the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany. Elsewhere, Ukraine’s military claimed it recaptured some areas in the south and repelled other Russian attacks in the east. The Russians say they destroyed dozens of Ukrainian military targets.
U.S. authorities say a superyacht owned by a Russian oligarch previously sanctioned for alleged money laundering has been seized by law enforcement in Fiji. A judge in Fiji earlier in the week permitted U.S. authorities to seize the yacht Amadea but also put his order on hold while defense lawyers mounted a challenge. The U.S. Justice Department says authorities in Fiji acting at the request of the United States have now served a search warrant freezing the yacht, which had earlier been prevented from leaving the South Pacific nation. American officials say the 348-foot vessel belongs to Suleiman Kerimov, an economist and former Russian politician. Kerimov made a fortune investing in a Russian gold producer.
The Pentagon says the majority of Russian forces that had been around the port city of Mariupol have left and headed north, leaving roughly the equivalent of two battalion tactical groups there, or about 2,000 troops. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that Moscow’s forces are still making only “plodding” and incremental progress as the main fight presses on in the eastern Donbas region. He said he has seen no change in Russian behavior or momentum as May 9 draws near. There have been suggestions that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to tout a major victory in Ukraine when he makes his address during the traditional Victory Day military parade on Red Square.
The Biden administration has announced a wide-ranging enforcement strategy aimed at holding industrial polluters accountable for damage done to poor and minority communities. The strategy includes creation of an Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department. It also reinstates a dormant program that allowed fines paid by industry as part of a settlement go to community activities such as river cleanup, health clinics or other programs that benefit the environment or public health. President Joe Biden had promised during the 2020 campaign that he would elevate environmental justice issues in an all-of-government approach.
A GOP House race between incumbents in West Virginia pits a Donald Trump-endorsed congressman against one who voted with the Democrats for infrastructure funding. The May 10 primary contest in West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District between Republican congressmen Alex Mooney and David McKinley is a test of Trump’s clout in the state. McKinley voted to pass the infrastructure bill and was condemned by both Trump and Mooney for doing so. McKinley says it would have been a betrayal not to vote for the bill in a state in dire need of upgrades.
Russia is bombarding railroad stations and other targets in an attempt to cut off weapons supplies to Ukrainian defenders. The Russian defense minister complained that the West is “stuffing Ukraine with weapons.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that his country would respond on the battlefield. Air raid sirens sounded in cities across the country. Attacks were reported near Kyiv, the capital, and in Dnipro, where a rail facility was hit. Heavy fighting continued at a steel mill in Mariupol, the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined port city. The attacks came as the European Union moved to further punish Moscow for the war by proposing a ban on oil imports.