* Powerful explosions were heard in the early hours of Friday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and several other cities across the country, local media reported.
* Russia has announced that the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, sank as it was being towed to port.
* Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the U.S. “cannot confirm Ukrainian reports that Russia’s Moskva warship was hit by a missile,” but added, “we are also in no position to refute this.”
* The threat of Russia potentially using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot be taken lightly, CIA Director William Burns said on Thursday
* Moldova on Thursday accused Russia’s army of trying to recruit Moldovan citizens
* Russian officials on Thursday said Ukrainian helicopters had hit residential buildings and injured seven people in the Bryansk region, the latest of a series of cross-border attacks that Moscow has said may trigger a retaliatory attack on Kyiv
* Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Thursday it was opening criminal cases into alleged torture of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian servicemen
* The governor of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region said four civilians had been killed and 10 wounded during Russian shelling of the city.
* Russia warned NATO Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defenses and that there could be no more talk of a “nuclear free” Baltic.
* The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that 30,000 people are crossing back into Ukraine every day. More than 870,000 Ukrainians who fled abroad have now returned to their home country.
* The U.N. humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, said Thursday that the United Nations is rushing $100 million of aid to hunger hotspots in Africa and the Middle East as the spill over effects of the Ukrainian conflict threaten to drive millions even closer to famine.
* The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said Thursday it plans to roll out its largest-ever cash assistance program to help more than 2 million Ukrainians
* Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed to evacuate civilians.
* A U.N. committee said on Thursday that the lives of about 2.7 million people with disabilities are at risk in Ukraine, citing reports that many are trapped or abandoned
* France will “very soon” move its embassy in Ukraine back to the capital Kyiv from the western city of Lviv, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call
* The Kremlin said it categorically disagreed with U.S. President Joe Biden’s description of Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide”, and it accused Washington of hypocrisy
* The Ukrainian negotiator in talks with Russia said it’s important for Ukraine to have as many countries as possible acting as security guarantors.
* Ireland, a strong backer of Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union, has sent its foreign minister to Kyiv.
* The United States is preparing new efforts to crack down on sanctions evasion by Russia, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser said on Thursday
* Cyprus has started the process of stripping citizenship from four Russian billionaires and 17 members of their families.
* France’s government says it has frozen 33 properties on the French Riviera, Paris, and elsewhere that belong to Russian oligarchs targeted for sanctions over the war in Ukraine
* The EU has closed a loophole that allowed EU governments to export weapons worth tens of millions of euros to Russia last year alone despite an embargo.
* The Justice Department indicted a Russian lawmaker and two staffers Thursday on charges of waging a propaganda campaign in the United States
* Russian threat to increase military in the Baltic region, including nuclear, is “nothing new,” Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said.
* The International Monetary Fund will cut its global growth estimates for 2022 and 2023 as Russia’s war in Ukraine drives food and energy prices higher, piling pressure on already fragile economies
* Ukraine’s National Bank says yearly inflation may exceed 20 percent
* G-20 host Indonesia said on Thursday Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov had confirmed he plans to attend virtually next week’s meeting
* Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that European attempts to find alternatives to Russian gas shipments will be “quite painful for the initiators of such policies.”
* Russian President told Austrian Chancellor that Austria’s supply of gas from Russia is safe and the country can continue to pay for it in euros.
* Ukraine is in talks with foreign partners for around $8 billion of financial support, its finance minister said.
* Russia has asked Brazil for support in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G20 group of top economies to help it counter crippling sanctions
* The New York-based Committee To Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Ukrainian authorities to investigate the deaths of journalists Roman Nezhyborets and Zoreslav Zamoyskiy to determine if they were targeted for their work, and to bring those responsible to justice
* Police in Russia’s Khakasia region in Siberia have detained the chief editor of the Novy Fokus (New Focus) online newspaper over a recent report it published related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
* A Ukrainian journalist shared what he found last week in Bucha as journalists embrace a dual role in covering news and documenting evidence.
For the latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all times EDT:
10:45 p.m. In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated fellow Ukrainians for surviving 50 days of Russia’s invasion when the Russians “gave us a maximum of five,” the Associated Press reported. He reminded Ukrainians that he was advised to flee the country when Russian troops crossed the border.
“But they didn’t know how brave Ukrainians are, how much we value freedom and the possibility to live the way we want,” Zelenskyy said.
The Washington Post looked back on the first 50 days of the invasion, which Russian launched Feb. 24, and examined how the word has changed.
9:35 p.m.: Germany has officially confiscated the world’s largest superyacht owned by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, police said Thursday, according to Agency France-Presse reports.
The 156-meter “Dilbar” has an estimated value of $600 million, according to Forbes magazine.
The boat has been docked for repairs since last October in a Hamburg shipyard.
German customs had been eyeing the superyacht for several weeks but could not formally seize it because of legal issues over its ownership.
Eventually the German Federal Judicial Police indicated they had succeeded “after lengthy investigations, and in spite of concealment via offshore companies, in identifying the owner of the M/S Dilbar and it is Gulbakhor Ismailova, the sister of Alisher Usmanov.”
9:10 p.m.: A U.N. committee said on Thursday that the lives of about 2.7 million people with disabilities are at risk in Ukraine, citing reports that many are trapped or abandoned in their homes, care centers and orphanages without basic supplies or medicines, Reuters reports.
The Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is made up of independent experts that monitor the implementation of a 2006 convention. Russia is among the governments that have signed and ratified it, a U.N. website showed.
The committee did not say exactly how it had obtained the reports about those who were trapped. However, it noted that few people with disabilities were among those internally displaced or who had reached Ukraine’s borders as refugees, “indicating that many of them have not been able to flee to safety.”
8:17 p.m.: Powerful explosions were heard in the early hours of Friday in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and several other cities across the country, local media reported.
Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.
Explosions were also heard in the southern city of Kherson, the eastern city of Kharkiv and in Ukraine’s western city of Ivano-Frankivsk.
Overnight, air raid sirens were going off across Ukraine. There has been no official confirmation of the explosions.
7:48 p.m.: The Justice Department indicted a Russian lawmaker and two staffers Thursday on charges of waging a propaganda campaign in the United States that was hostile to Ukraine, years before Moscow’s invasion, Agence France-Presse reports.
The lawmaker, Aleksandr Babakov, was already under U.S. sanctions and was charged along with two aides, Aleksandr Vorobev and Mikhail Plisyuk. All three are based in Moscow and remain at large, the Justice Department said.
The specific charges against the three are conspiring to have US citizens act as an unregistered agent for Russia in the United States, conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions, and conspiring to commit visa fraud.
7:17 p.m.: Rainy weather in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region could favor that country’s army in its fight against invading Russian forces, which are preparing a stronger offensive in the zone, a senior Pentagon official said.
“The fact that the ground is softer will make it harder for them to do anything off of paved highways,” said the official, who spoke under condition of anonymity, according to Agence France-Presse.
6:51 p.m.: The U.S. would not be concerned that an expansion of a defense alliance would do anything other than promote stability in Europe, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Thursday, responding to a question about Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
“Without speaking to any countries in particular, we would not be concerned that the expansion of a defensive alliance would do anything other than promote stability on the European continent,” Price told a news briefing.
6:10 p.m.: Russia has asked Brazil for support in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G20 group of top economies to help it counter crippling sanctions imposed by the West since it invaded Ukraine, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov wrote to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes asking for Brazil’s “support to prevent political accusations and discrimination attempts in international financial institutions and multilateral fora.”
5:35 p.m.: Russia has announced that the flagship of its Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, sank as it was being towed to port. The ship was heavily damaged by an onboard explosion, and the crew of about 500 sailors had been evacuated.
The Russian Defense Ministry blamed a fire that detonated ammunition on board the guided-missile cruiser, but Ukraine said it hit the ship in a missile attack.
“I cannot confirm the Ukrainian reports that it was hit by a missile,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby on Thursday. “But we are also not in a position to refute that it could have been a Ukrainian missile which struck the ship. We just don’t have perfect visibility on exactly what happened.”
5:05 p.m.: In the Ukrainian town of Bucha, near Kyiv, French forensic experts have joined Ukrainian authorities in exhuming and identifying bodies from mass graves. Police say 720 bodies have been found near the capital from where Russian forces retreated, and more than 200 people are missing. Some bodies had their hands tied behind their back and some were apparently shot at close range. Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, has this story. (WARNING: viewers may find the content of this video disturbing.)
4:45 p.m.: Ukrainian forces say they repelled Russian forces attempting to break through to the village of Krasnohorivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. A Ukrainian soldier told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty how his unit stopped the advance of seven Russian tanks attempting to establish a corridor west of the city of Donetsk.
4:00 p.m.: The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Ukrainian authorities to investigate the deaths of journalists Roman Nezhyborets and Zoreslav Zamoyskiy to determine if they were targeted for their work, and to bring those responsible to justice. In a statement, CPJ said Nezhyborets’ body was recently found buried in the northern Ukrainian village of Yahidne, while Zamoyskiy’s body was found in Bucha, near the capital, Kyiv. Their bodies were found by local Ukrainians after Russian forces withdrew from those areas, the media watchdog said. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
3:41 p.m.: France will “very soon” move its embassy in Ukraine back to the capital Kyiv from the western city of Lviv, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call. The French embassy was moved to Lviv in early March as conditions worsened on the ground after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the ministry statement said. European politicians have flocked to the Ukrainian capital since Russian forces withdrew from the country’s north in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance earlier this month, Reuters reported.
3:15 p.m.: Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the U.S. “cannot confirm Ukrainian reports that Russia’s Moskva warship was hit by a missile,” but added, “we are also in no position to refute this.” He said the fire on the ship was still raging as of Thursday morning, and it wasn’t clear if the Moskva was still able to operate under its own power. “This is a cruiser – they only have three in that class,” Kirby said. “Whether she can or will be repaired or returned to service, we just don’t know,’” he said, adding that the loss of the Moskva cruiser was not likely to impact Russia’s ability to launch cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine. VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin monitored the press briefing and shared details on Twitter.
2:38 p.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty compiled this photo essay showing some of the American weaponry and hardware being sent to Ukraine as part of an $800 million military aid package announced by the White House this week.
2:02 p.m.: The threat of Russia potentially using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot be taken lightly, CIA Director William Burns said on Thursday. In a speech at Georgia Tech, Burns said U.S. spy agencies began last fall collecting “disturbing and detailed” intelligence on a plan by Putin for a “major new invasion” of Ukraine. Putin has “stewed” in grievance, ambition and insecurity and saw the “window was closing for shaping Ukraine’s orientation” away from the West, said Burns, who called the Russian leader an “apostle of payback.” Burns referred to the “potential desperation” and military setbacks that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government have suffered since invading Ukraine. For those reasons, “none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said. VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin monitored the speech and provided highlights on Twitter.
1:47 p.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron declined to use the term “genocide” to describe Russia’s war in Ukraine, arguing against an “escalation of words,” The Associated Press reported Thursday. Asked about the use of the term by U.S. President Joe Biden, Macron said “the word genocide must be spelled out by jurists, not by politicians.” Macron said that he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Thursday, and that he will do “everything to end this war and stay by the Ukrainians’ side.” Macron previously denounced “war crimes” in Ukraine and France sent magistrates and police officers to help the International Criminal Court, which opened an investigation.
1:31 p.m.: More than 870,000 Ukrainians who fled abroad since the Russian invasion on February 24 have now returned to their home country, the U.N. said in its latest emergency update. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that 30,000 people are crossing back into Ukraine every day. OCHA said that this raises concerns about deteriorating food security inside the country, as well as potential shelter challenges for people if returning to their homes is no longer viable. Of the 12 million people in need in Ukraine, humanitarians have reached 2.1 million of them, and the U.N.’s $1.1 billion flash appeal is now 64 percent funded, OCHA said.
1:18 p.m.: Nicole Robicheau, spokeswoman of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said Thursday the organization plans to roll out its largest-ever cash assistance program to help more than 2 million people in Ukraine or who have fled abroad cope with the fallout from Russia’s invasion, The Associated Press reported. Humanitarian groups have recently touted the effectiveness of cash assistance programs as a way to “allow people to decide what they need” and “put money back into the local economy,” Robicheau said. She said the organization would distribute about $106 million to those affected by Russia’s seven-week-old war in Ukraine.
1:05 p.m.: The U.N. humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, said Thursday that the United Nations is rushing $100 million of aid to hunger hotspots in Africa and the Middle East as the spill over effects of the Ukrainian conflict threaten to drive millions even closer to famine. “The money will enable U.N. agencies and their partners to provide critical food, cash and nutritional help as well as other provisions, including medical services, shelter and clean water,” according to the U.N. statement. “Projects will also be tailored to help women and girls through a crisis that exposes them to additional risks,” it added.
12:39 p.m.: The International Monetary Fund will cut its global growth estimates for 2022 and 2023 as Russia’s war in Ukraine drives food and energy prices higher, piling pressure on already fragile economies, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday, warning the world was in “a very dangerous time.” Georgieva said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “sending shockwaves throughout the globe” and dealing a massive setback to countries struggling to recover from the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.
12:22 p.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs office in Ukraine said Thursday that humanitarian needs are growing as the conflict escalates in the south and east of the country. It said that 50 days of fighting has led to at least 1,932 deaths and the damage or destruction of vital civilian infrastructure.
12:19 p.m.: Russian officials on Thursday said Ukrainian helicopters had hit residential buildings and injured seven people in the Bryansk region, the latest of a series of cross-border attacks that Moscow has said may trigger a retaliatory attack on Kyiv, Reuters reported. The governor of the Belgorod region said a village there was also attacked, but that no one was injured. Ukraine’s defense ministry, which has declined to comment on several border incidents including a strike on a fuel depot in the city of Belgorod earlier this month, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the latest development. The Ukrainian government’s Center for Countering Disinformation issued a statement accusing Russia’s intelligence services of implementing “a plan to carry out terrorist acts to whip up anti-Ukrainian hysteria” in Russia.
12:08 p.m.: Russia is facing economic sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine from dozens of countries. VOA has this look at the efficacy of similar punitive measures applied to various countries in the past.
11:46 a.m.: The United States is preparing new efforts to crack down on sanctions evasion by Russia, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser said on Thursday. “Where our focus will be over the course of the coming days is on evasion,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview with Reuters at the Economic Club of Washington. “I think we’ll have some announcements in the next week or two that identify targets that are trying to facilitate that evasion both inside Russia and beyond,” Sullivan said, without giving details. He also said that any efforts by Russia to disrupt weapons transfers benefiting Ukraine could escalate the standoff with the West.
11:32 a.m.: In a video message shared on Twitter Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for accelerating negotiations toward peace in Ukraine where people “cannot bear the violence being inflicted on them.”
11:28 a.m.: A portion of the estimated 1,000 seafarers trapped in Ukraine have escaped, the International Labour Organization and industry officials told Reuters, voicing concern for those remaining trapped onboard ships or unaccounted for. Several foreign cargo ships have been struck by crossfire in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24. U.N. agencies have called for urgent action to protect some 1,000 seafarers from at least 20 countries, including in the besieged city of Mariupol that has been under bombardment for weeks. An estimated 100 vessels have been prevented from departing because of risks of drifting sea mines, industry sources say.
11:09 a.m.: Ukraine’s National Bank says yearly inflation may exceed 20 percent, the Kyiv Independent reported Thursday. According to the National Bank, prices of goods and services will rise due to disruption of production, problems with logistics, and devaluation of the national currency. However, the Bank kept the interest rate at 10 percent, it said.
10:40 a.m.: G-20 host Indonesia said on Thursday Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov had confirmed he plans to attend virtually next week’s meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 major economies, Reuters reported. Indonesian finance ministry official Wempi Saputra also told a briefing that Jakarta was considering whether to invite Ukraine to the meeting, which will be held on April 20 in Washington “to discuss the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on global economic conditions.” The issue of Russia’s G20 membership has split the group, with strong calls from Western nations for it to be excluded, but support for Moscow staying from members including China.
10:23 a.m.: Cyprus has started the process of stripping citizenship from four Russian billionaires and 17 members of their families. The president of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiadis, has acknowledged that the government decided to deprive four Russian nationals of their citizenship, but did not reveal their names. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.
10:07 a.m.: Frustration is growing among German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s junior coalition partners over what they say are shortcomings in his leadership on Ukraine, an internal rift that risks undermining Western unity against Russia, Reuters reported. After a dramatic policy pivot at the start of the crisis, when Scholz halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia days before its invasion of Ukraine, and then vowed a big jump in defense spending, his partners accuse him of dithering. Seven weeks into the war, the junior Greens and liberal Free Democratic (FDP) parties in Scholz’s coalition are vexed that Berlin is not meeting Ukrainian pleas to send it more heavy weapons, amid warnings from Kyiv that Russia is ramping up for a major offensive in Ukraine’s south and east.
9:47 a.m.: A Ukrainian organization has created a shelter for displaced mothers in the western city of Lviv, where a local businessman offered his office space for that purpose. Women with children stay there for a few days before continuing their journey to Spain. VOA’s Anna Kosstutschenko has the story.
9:39 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that European attempts to find alternatives to Russian gas shipments will be “quite painful for the initiators of such policies.” He argued that “there is simply no reasonable replacement for it in Europe now.” Putin noted that “supplies from other countries that could be sent to Europe, primarily from the United States, would cost consumers many times more.” He added it would “affect people’s standard of living and the competitiveness of the European economy.” The European Union is dependent on Russia for 40 percent of its natural gas and 25 percent of its oil, the Associated Press reported.
9:12 a.m. : Moldova on Thursday accused Russia’s army of trying to recruit Moldovan citizens, days after British military intelligence said that Moscow was trying to replenish its forces in Ukraine by recruiting in the breakaway Transdniestria region. Transdniestria is a narrow strip of land held by pro-Russian separatists that runs along the east of Moldova and comes to within about 25 miles (40 km) of the Ukrainian port of Odesa. “Such actions do not promote peace for all of us, our fellow citizens, for our families. Such things are very dangerous and they must be stopped,” Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said. Moscow’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was not able to immediately verify whether Russia’s army has been trying to recruit Moldovans.
8:51 a.m.: Russian media say Monotype Imaging, the U.S. company that owns several of the most popular fonts used on computers, has blocked access to its catalogue for users in Russia amid ongoing international sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. The newspaper Vedomosti quoted IT sources as saying on April 14 that users in Russia were currently unable to get access to Monotypes’ fonts catalogue, meaning they cannot use popular fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, and Helvetica. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
8:46 a.m.: The Kyiv Independent reported Thursday that 30 Ukrainians have been released in a new prisoner exchange. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that 17 soldiers, five officers, and eight civilians were released from Russian captivity. Vereshchuk didn’t disclose the number of prisoners of war sent back to Russia. Earlier Thursday, the Kyiv Independent reported that two Ukrainian pilots have also been released. According to Ukraine’s military intelligence, the two were taken prisoner in the Chernihiv region March 8. It was not immediately clear whether they were released under the recent prisoner swap or separately.
8:23 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday welcomed Ambassador Jim O’Brien who has been named the head of the new Office of Sanctions Coordination. “I extend my congratulations to Jim O’Brien, who began serving this week after his confirmation by the Senate,” Blinken said in a statement. “Ambassador O’Brien brings decades of foreign policy experience to this role, having held senior positions at the Department and in the private sector.” The new office will oversee work on sanctions, including cooperation with allies and partners, and it will promote accountability for corruption and human rights abuses, and deter and disrupt national security threats, he said. “This is a critical office at a critical time, and I am confident Ambassador O’Brien and his team will serve the Department and the American people extraordinarily well.”
8:17 a.m.: France’s government says it has frozen 33 properties on the French Riviera, Paris, and elsewhere that belong to Russian oligarchs targeted for sanctions over the war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Thursday. Together, the 33 properties are estimated to be worth more than half a billion euros. Unlike property that is seized or confiscated, frozen properties still belong to their owners and they can continue living in them. But they cannot be sold or rented out. Aside from financial assets and properties, French authorities have also frozen or seized three yachts and four transport ships, and frozen six helicopters and three artworks.
7:53 a.m.: Russia’s security service said on Thursday that a border post in the Bryansk region had been fired at with mortars from Ukraine in the latest of a series of reported cross-border attacks that Moscow has said may trigger an escalation of the conflict. No one was injured in the incident but some vehicles were damaged, a spokesman for Russia’s FSB security service told state television. Ukraine’s defense ministry and military did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported. Russia has reported a series of attacks on border areas by Ukrainian forces in recent weeks, including by a strike on a fuel depot in the city of Belgorod earlier this month. On Wednesday Russia’s defense ministry said the continuation of “sabotage and attacks” by Ukrainian forces could trigger strikes on Kyiv.
7:31 a.m.: International relief agencies say they welcome the global outpouring of aid for Ukraine since Russia’s invasion but worry that the crisis is diverting attention and finances from equally urgent humanitarian emergencies in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. VOA’s Carol Guensburg has this report.
7:19 a.m.: Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Thursday it was opening criminal cases into alleged torture of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian servicemen, Reuters reported. The committee, which probes major crimes, said some Russian soldiers had been captured by Ukrainian forces in the Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv regions and held illegally by Ukraine’s security service. Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee, also ordered a probe on Thursday into Ukrainian forces’ alleged shelling of civilians from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic as they evacuated through the neighbouring Kharkiv region. Reuters could not independently verify the committee’s allegations. Ukraine has said it checks all information regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and will investigate any violations and take appropriate legal action.
7:04 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General said Thursday that the death toll from the attack on Ukraine’s Kramatorsk train station April 8 has now risen to 59 people, including 7 children, the Kyiv Independent reported. Two children injured in the missile strike recently died in the hospital, the prosecutor said.
6:47 a.m.: Police in Russia’s Khakasia region in Siberia have detained the chief editor of the Novy Fokus (New Focus) online newspaper over a recent report it published related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Media Rights Defense Center said late Wednesday that police detained Mikhail Afanasyev in Khakasia’s capital, Abakan, after they searched his home and confiscated computers and communications devices. Afanasyev is one of the most well-known journalists in Siberia.
6:34 a.m.: Russia’s defense ministry said on Thursday it had contained a fire on board the Moskva missile cruiser, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and that measures were being taken to tow it back to port. The ministry, which said the blaze broke out after ammunition blew up on board, said the cruiser’s main weaponry had not been damaged and that its crew had been evacuated onto other ships in the Black Sea. The defense ministry had said on Thursday that the ship had been badly damaged by the fire. Maksym Marchenko, the Ukrainian governor of the region around the Black Sea port of Odesa, said the Moskva had been hit by two Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles. Reuters was unable to verify either side’s statements.
6:29 a.m.: On Thursday, the Armed Forces of Ukraine published what it estimates are Russia’s combat losses since the beginning of the war, the Kyiv Independent reported.
6:22 a.m.: When President Joe Biden declared Russia’s Ukraine war “genocide,” it wasn’t just another strong word. Calling a campaign that’s aimed at wiping out a targeted group “genocide” not only can increase pressure on a country to act but can oblige it to act. That’s partly because of a genocide treaty approved by the U.N. General Assembly after World War II, signed by the United States and more than 150 other nations. The Associated Press takes this look at what’s involved in that decision, and what it means when a world leader declares a genocide.
6:13 a.m.: The Kremlin said it categorically disagreed with U.S. President Joe Biden’s description of Russia’s actions in Ukraine as “genocide,” and it accused Washington of hypocrisy, Reuters reported. Biden said on Tuesday that Russia’s behavior in Ukraine amounted to genocide in his view, using that word for the first time. “We consider this kind of effort to distort the situation unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. Biden told reporters on Tuesday “it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting.” Under international law, genocide is an intent to destroy – in whole or in part – a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.
6:10 a.m.: Ireland, a strong backer of Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union, has sent its foreign minister who is in Kyiv Thursday, The Associated Press reported. Simon Coveney, who is also Ireland’s defense minister, has plans to discuss how his country can “assist Ukraine in its application for EU candidate status,” the government said.
Ireland’s visit is the latest in a string of senior European politicians to make the trip to show support for Ukraine’s fight against Russian invasion, the AP report added. The Irish government says Coveney is meeting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Ireland has sent Ukraine $22 million (20 million euros) in humanitarian aid and $36 million (33 million euros) in non-lethal military assistance.
5:30 a.m.: The European Union has closed a loophole that allowed EU governments to export weapons worth tens of millions of euros to Russia last year alone despite an embargo which took effect in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region. Reuters has the story.
5:20 a.m.: The governor of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, Oleh Synyegubov, said four civilians had been killed and 10 wounded during Russian shelling of the city of Kharkiv on Thursday, Reuters reported. However, Reuters could not immediately verify Synyegubov’s remarks.
In a statement, the Kharkiv region governor also urged residents of some towns to evacuate since he said military operations were expected to take place in the area.
4:30 a.m.: Russian threat to increase military in the Baltic region, including nuclear, is “nothing new,” Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said Thursday. “Kaliningrad is a very militarized zone, has been for many years, and it is in the Baltic region,” she told reporters.
Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, on the shore of the Baltic Sea, is sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland, Reuters reported.
4:25 a.m.: Journalists in Ukraine play dual role covering news on the conflict and documenting evidence of war crimes. VOA’s Sirwan Kajjo has this story of a Ukrainian journalist still reeling from what he found last week in Bucha.
4:00 a.m.: Ukraine is in talks with foreign partners for around $8 billion of financial support, its finance minister said Thursday, adding that it had received over $3.5 billion of budget support already, according to Reuters.
Asked whether Ukraine needed to restructure its external debt, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko added in televised remarks that Ukraine did not currently have problems with that debt and that more than 80% of the debts it was servicing and repaying at the moment were domestic.
3:35 a.m.: Russia warned NATO Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defenses and that there could be no more talk of a “nuclear free” Baltic, Reuters reported.
“There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic — the balance must be restored,” said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council. “Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” Medvedev said.
3:20 a.m.: The U.K. defense intelligence said Thursday Ukranian urban centers have been subjected to repeated indiscriminate attacks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and throughout the war. Ukrainian towns of Kramatorsk and Kostiantynivka are likely to be targeted by Russia similar to other urban centers, the statement said.
“Widespread missile and artillery strikes and efforts to concentrate forces for an offensive” indicates “a reversion of showed a reversion to traditional Russian military doctrine,” the statement added.
3:00 a.m.: Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said nine humanitarian corridors had been agreed for Thursday to evacuate civilians, including by private car from the besieged city of Mariupol, Reuters reported.
Other evacuation routes are from Berdiansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar, and ones in the eastern Luhansk region will operate if occupying Russian forces stop their shelling, Vereshchuk added in a statement.
2:30 a.m.: Reuters reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin told Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer when they met this week that Austria’s supply of gas from Russia is safe and the country can continue to pay for it in euros, Nehammer told national news agency APA.
Nehammer met Putin near Moscow Monday and had until now not publicly mentioned their discussion on Austria’s security of gas supply. The country obtains 80% of its natural gas from Russia and opposes an immediate European Union gas embargo on Russia, arguing it is not possible for the time being.
Putin said, “that the gas supply is secured, that Russia will deliver the contractually agreed quantities and that payments can continue to be made in euros,” APA on Thursday quoted Nehammer as saying in an interview carried out on Wednesday, Reuters added.
For VOA, Henry Ridgwell has this story on Nehammer’s meeting with Putin.
2:20 a.m.: Ukrainian negotiator in talks with Russia, Mykhailo Podolyak, says it’s important for Ukraine to have as many countries acting as security guarantors as possible, Reuters reported.
1:30 a.m.: Russia said Thursday the flagship of its Black Sea fleet had been seriously damaged and that all the crew evacuated following what Russia said was an explosion and what Ukrainian officials said was a missile strike.
Russian state media quoted the country’s defense ministry blaming a fire that detonated ammunition on board the guided-missile cruiser Moskva.
The governor of Odessa said two cruise missiles struck the ship.
1:00 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden announced $800 million in new security assistance to help Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion, in addition to the $200 million he allocated last week. This followed an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the U.S. Congress earlier Wednesday. VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara has this report.
12:30 a.m.: The presidents of four countries on Russia’s doorstep toured war-ravaged areas near the Ukrainian capital and demanded accountability for what they called war crimes, as Kyiv and Moscow gave conflicting accounts of what happened to a badly damaged missile cruiser that is the flagship vessel of Russia’s fleet in the Black Sea. The Associated Press has the story.
12:00 a.m.: The Biden administration appears set to include discussions of international economic repercussions of the Russian invasion and potentially Ukraine’s reconstruction as part of the November G-20 summit agenda, an idea that is likely to create further rift in the economic forum. VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara has the story.
Source: Voice of America