Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia’s Vladimir Putin of trying to destroy the Donbas region and all who live there on Friday.
“The constant brutal bombardments, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people. Therefore, the defense of our land, the defense of our people, is literally a fight for life,” he said late Friday in his nightly video address to the nation.
He warned that the cities and towns in the region could end up like the besieged port city of Mariupol if Russian forces succeed.
A Russian missile strike targeting Kyiv killed at least one person following a between U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who called the attack an attempt to “humiliate” the U.N.
Vira Hyrych, a journalist for the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe, died in the attack, which hit her residential building, the broadcaster said Friday. Her body was found early Friday in the wreckage. In a separate incident, an American fighting in Ukraine was also killed, his family told media outlets Friday.
Ukraine’s emergency services said at least 10 others were injured in the strike. Russia claimed it “destroyed production buildings” at a defense factory in Kyiv.
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►The U.N.’s human rights office said Friday 2,899 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the start of the war. An additional 3,235 have been injured, the office said.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will both be in attendance at the G20 summit to be held in Bali in November, said Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is hosting the event and spoke with both leaders this week.
►Tens of thousands of troops from NATO and other north Atlantic nations will take part in a series of military exercises across Europe in the coming weeks as western countries seek to deter Russian aggression.
►President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress to approve $33 billion in security, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the latest move suggesting the U.S. would provide long-term support to the country.
►Ukrainian prosecutors on Thursday identified 10 Russian soldiers they accused of atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, one of the war’s major flashpoints that helped galvanize Western support of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that the cities and towns of the Donbas will survive only if Ukraine remains standing.
“If the Russian invaders are able to realize their plans even partially, then they have enough artillery and aircraft to turn the entire Donbas into stones. As they did with Mariupol,” he said in his nightly address to the nation.
Zelenskyy said Mariupol, once one of the most developed cities in the region, was now a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins.”
In Kharkiv, a major city to the north, the situation was “brutal” but Ukrainian troops and intelligence agents “have had important tactical successes,” he said without elaborating.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 20% of the city’s residential buildings have been so badly damaged that it will be impossible to restore them.
Zelenskyy said rescuers were still going through the rubble in Kyiv after Thursday’s missile strikes. He expressed his condolences to the family of Vira Hyrych, who was killed in the bombardment. He said she was the 23rd journalist killed in the war.
Zelenskyy chronicled the war from his eyes during an in-depth interview with Time Magazine, detailing the moments at the start of the war that nearly led to the capture of him and his family.
Zelenskyy told of multiple attempts to storm presidential offices in Kyiv at the very beginning of Russia’s invasion. He said at one point Russian strike teams had parachuted into the city to capture or kill both him and his family.
“Before that night, we had only ever seen such things in the movies,” Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, told Time about the incident.
Kremlin forces attempted multiple times to storm the presidential compound and guards used whatever they could find to secure the area, including using police barricades and plywood to create a barricade.
The first evening of fighting around Kyiv led guards to shut off the lights in the compound and handout assault rifles and bulletproof vests. Russians made two attempts that evening to storm the area as Zelenskyy’s wife and children were inside, he said.
A former U.S. Marine was killed while fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, according to his relatives, making his the first known death of an American citizen while fighting in the war against Russia.
Willy Joseph Cancel, 22, was killed Monday while working for a military contracting company that sent him to Ukraine, his mother, Rebecca Cabrera, told CNN. Cancel joined the Marines after graduating from Newburgh Free Academy in New York and served from 2017-21. He more recently worked as a corrections officer in Tennessee.
Cabrera said her son signed up to work with the private military contractor shortly before fighting began in Ukraine on Feb. 24 and that he agreed to go to Ukraine. She said he flew to Poland on March 12, entered Ukraine shortly thereafter and had been fighting alongside men from a number of countries.
“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,” she said.
Cabrera said her son’s body hasn’t been recovered.
The European Union was moving closer toward an embargo on Russian oil imports as part of the latest sanctions against Russia from the 27-nation bloc, the New York Times and Washington Post reported Friday.
The Times, citing unnamed E.U. officials and diplomats, reported approval for a phased embargo was likely to come by the end of next week. The Post reported debate would continue through the weekend, as Germany signaled earlier more acceptance of the move. Still, it was unclear whether Hungary would agree given its dependence on Russian oil, the Post reported.
The United States in March banned Russian oil imports as part of a wide package of sanctions aimed to put pressure on the Russian economy. E.U. countries, though also sanctioning Russia in other ways, have been more hesitant to cut ties with Russian energy sources.
The United Nations General Assembly will hold a vote next month on a country to replace Russia on its human rights council after suspending the nation for its actions in Ukraine.
The Czech Republic is the only candidate for the May 10 vote, said Assembly spokeswoman Paulina Kubiak. Forty-seven members divided by regional groups sit on the Human Rights Council, and Russia’s replacement would have to come from eastern Europe.
After being suspended from the council, Russia’s deputy ambassador Gennady Kuzmin said the country would withdraw from the council, which allows it not to be deprived of observer status at the rights body.
Ukrainian officials in the besieged port city of Mariupol again warned on Friday of the dire conditions its civilians are facing.
Mayor Vadym Boychenko called for an immediate evacuation of the remaining citizens as the living conditions “are now medieval.”
With no central water and sewage and decaying bodies under the rubble of the city, diseases like cholera and dysentery could break out, the city council warned.
Speaking with CNN from the Azovstal steel plant, Maj. Serhiy Volyna, commander of Ukraine’s 36th Separate Marine Brigade, said the plant’s field hospital was recently targeted. Water, food and medical supplies were also scarce, he said.
Ukrainian authorities unveiled their first war crimes charges Thursday against members of Russia’s military, as the U.S. and other countries worked behind the scenes to help Kyiv with more than 8,000 criminal investigations connected to potential atrocities in the two-month old war.
The first charges accuse 10 Russian servicemen of holding civilians hostage and mistreating them in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb, in March. Russia’s military occupied Bucha for a month, and authorities and witnesses say mass graves and bodies in the streets were found in the town after the Russian withdrawal. Some Bucha residents were found dead with bullet wounds and their hands tied behind their backs.
— Josh Meyer and Kim Hjelmgaard
‘YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GET AWAY WITH IT’:Ukraine unveils first war crimes charges amid 8,000 investigations
Russia has placed trained dolphins at the entrance to a key Black Sea port to help protect a Kremlin naval base there, suggest satellite photos analyzed by a naval analyst.
Around the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, two pens of dolphins were placed at the entrance to Sevastopol harbor, the most significant naval base in the Black Sea, according to the imagery.
The dolphins could be trained to perform tasks such as preventing divers from infiltrating a military base undetected. Both the U.S. and Russian military have trained marine mammals to complete such tasks.
“This could prevent Ukrainian special operations forces from infiltrating the harbor underwater to sabotage warships,” H I Sutton, a submarine analyst wrote in an article published by the U.S. Naval Institute on Wednesday.
— Maria Jimenez Moya
The horrors of war are rampant in Ukraine, and the U.S. and its allies say Moscow needs to pay. But most of the world isn’t joining the plan to punish Putin.
When global leaders voted in early April to punish Russia for human rights violations in Ukraine, diplomats representing the majority of the world’s population either sided with Moscow or refused to choose a side.
According to a USA TODAY analysis of the vote, about three-quarters of the global population lives in a country that did not support the U.S.-initiated measure that suspended Russia from a top human rights group. Each country received one vote, regardless of its population, land mass or wealth. Read more here.
— Joel Shannon
Contributing: The Associated Press