Ukraine-Russia War LIVE Updates: Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, reiterated the need for peace talks in a video address late Friday night, saying his country’s forces had delivered “powerful blows” to Russia. “By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading Russia’s leadership to a simple and logical conclusion: talk is required.” “Meaningful, urgent, and fair,” he said, adding that Ukraine would not relinquish territory.
The development came as Russia signaled Friday it may dial back its war aims to focus on eastern Ukraine after failing to break the nation’s resistance in a month of fighting and attacks on civilians, including up to 300 feared killed in the bombing of a theatre being used as a bunker. The possible shift came as President Joe Biden visited elite US troops serving with NATO just across the border in Poland and France’s Emmanuel Macron proposed an internationally backed evacuation of civilians trapped in the bombarded city of Mariupol.
Back in February, President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion to destroy Ukraine’s military and topple pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelensky, bringing the country under Russia’s sway. However, Sergei Rudskoi, a senior general, suggested a considerably reduced “main goal” of controlling the Donbas, an eastern region already partly held by Russian proxies. His surprise statement came as a Western official reported that a seventh Russian general had died in Ukraine and claimed that a colonel had been “deliberately” killed by his own demoralized men.
Here are the latest updates on the Ukraine-Russia conflict:
• Ukraine president urges Qatar to hike gas output to counter Russia: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called on Qatar to increase production of natural gas to counter Russian threats to use energy as a weapon. “I ask you to increase the output of energy to ensure that everyone in Russia understands that no one can use energy as a weapon to blackmail the world,” Zelensky said a video message to the Doha Forum meeting in Qatar’s capital.
• Biden Visits Rzeszow, Praises Ukraine’s Resistance: Visiting Rzeszow, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Ukraine, Biden praised Ukraine’s “incredible” resistance, comparing the conflict to a bigger version of communist China’s 1989 crushing of protests in Tiananmen Square. Biden told soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division that the struggle in eastern Europe represents a historic “inflection point.” “Are democracies going to prevail…, or are autocracies going to prevail? And that’s really what’s at stake,” Biden said. Biden was briefed on the humanitarian situation, with more than 3.7 million refugees fleeing Ukraine, most of them into Poland.
“Are democracies going to prevail…, or are autocracies going to prevail? And that’s really what’s at stake,” Biden said.
Earlier, he ended a trip to Brussels for meetings with Western allies by announcing new measures to help the European Union shed dependence on imported Russian energy. The plan is part of a sea change in the West, which for years has shrunk from direct confrontation with the Kremlin, but now seeks to make Putin a pariah.
• 10 People Killed in Rocket Strikes in Kharkiv: At least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded on Tuesday in rockets strikes by Russian forces on the centre of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said in a post on social media. “The rubble is being cleared and there will be even more victims and wounded,” he said.
• Pope Francis Prays for Peace: Pope Francis led the world’s Catholic bishops on Friday in praying for peace between Russia and Ukraine, saying the world had forgotten the tragedies of the 20th century and was still menaced by nuclear war. Francis presided at a service in St. Peter’s Basilica in which he entrusted the protection of all humanity, “especially Russia and Ukraine,” to Mary, who Christians believe is the Mother of God and who can intercede with him in heaven. At about the same time, thousands of bishops in cathedrals and chapels around the world were reading the same prayer in local languages, resulting in one of the most precisely coordinated global Church event in living memory. In a separate homily before reciting the prayer, Francis spoke of “scenes of death” in which “bombs are destroying the homes of many of our defenceless Ukrainian brothers and sisters” and of “a cruel and senseless war that threatens our world”.
In a separate homily before reciting the prayer, Francis spoke of “scenes of death” in which “bombs are destroying the homes of many of our defenceless Ukrainian brothers and sisters” and of “a cruel and senseless war that threatens our world”.
• Ukrainian Refugees Urge for Help: Ukrainian refugees in Poland urged Western powers on Thursday to do more to protect the country from Russian bombardment as leaders met in Brussels for unprecedented summits of NATO, G7 and the European Union. Echoing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s repeated calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine – where thousands of people have been killed – many said they were scared for family left behind. “We ask for protection from (Russia) bombing us from the sky,” said Svetlana, from Mykolaiv, standing in Poland’s Przemysl railway station, not far from the Ukrainian border. “And help us not only with equipment but with peace forces and professional soldiers,” said the 55-year-old, who was returning home with her son to rejoin her parents and older son after initially seeking refuge in Poland and Germany.
• UNGA Isolates Russia over Ukraine: Almost three-quarters of the U.N. General Assembly demanded aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine on Thursday, and criticized Russia for creating a “dire” humanitarian situation after Moscow invaded its neighbor one month ago
It is the second time the 193-member General Assembly has overwhelmingly isolated Russia over what Moscow calls a “special military operation” that is says aims to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has blasted Russia’s “absurd war.”
Thousands of people have been killed in Ukraine, millions made refugees, and cities pulverized in the past month. The resolution adopted on Thursday, which was drafted by Ukraine and allies, received 140 votes in favor and five votes against – Russia, Syria, North Korean, Eritrea and Belarus – while 38 countries, including China, abstained. General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, but they carry political weight. There was a round of applause in the hall after the adoption on Thursday.