Here are the latest updates on the war in Ukraine:
- Fed up with deadly propaganda, some Russian journalists have resigned, tens of thousands of Russians have fled the country, and yesterday, one senior government official quit.
- World leaders heard impassioned pleas today from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for more military aid to defend his country at a NATO Summit in Brussels. NATO pledged to send more military equipment to Ukraine, swell ranks along Europe’s eastern flank and support the gathering of evidence of war crimes.
- Russia may be trying to create a pretext for the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by accusing the United States and its allies of preparing such an attack, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
- Ukrainian authorities in besieged Mariupol said on Thursday about 15,000 civilians had been illegally deported to Russia since Russian forces seized parts of the southern port city.
- Canada says it can boost exports of oil and natural gas to the United States this year, as part of an international effort to help the world move away from Russian energy.
9:10 p.m. ET
Canada to boost energy exports to U.S. to aid in supply crisis
Canada says its producers can boost exports of oil and natural gas to the United States this year, as part of an international effort to help the world move away from Russian energy.
By the end of this year, Canadian producers will be positioned to export an extra 200,000 barrels a day of oil to the U.S., as well as natural gas equivalent to 100,000 barrels of oil, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said during a conference call after a meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The increase is intended to free up oil and gas supplies in the U.S. and elsewhere, so that those countries can in turn reroute fuel to the European Union, which relies on Russia for roughly one third of the oil it consumes, and 40 per cent of its natural gas.
The anticipated rise in Canada’s oil and gas exports would be relatively small. He estimated that the extra Canadian oil exports to the U.S. would represent an increase of five per cent over existing shipments.
Canada is limited in its ability to make big gains in oil and gas output owing to scarce new export pipeline capacity.
- Brent Jang, Emma Graney
8:30 p.m. ET
Streamlined immigration program for Ukrainians creates a ‘two-tiered,’ ‘racialized’ system, opposition says
Opposition parties says the Liberal government’s streamlined immigration program for Ukrainians creates a two-tiered, racialized system that prioritizes Ukrainian immigrants over refugees from other conflict zones.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser appeared before the House of Commons immigration committee, where he faced questions about the differences between the government’s new special program and its dedicated refugee resettlement initiatives. During the meeting, Conservative committee member Brad Redekopp accused the government of prioritizing Ukrainian immigrants over Afghan refugees.
Mr. Fraser rejected Mr. Redekopp’s claim, saying the situation in Ukraine demands a different response. He noted that Ukrainians can find their way to other Western countries for Canadian processing and biometrics screening more easily than Afghans.
He added that the government opted to offer streamlined immigration measures to Ukrainians, rather than a dedicated refugee program, because the Ukrainian Canadian community has indicated that most Ukrainians who come to Canada will want to eventually return home. This is not the case with people coming from Afghanistan, he said, hence the need for a refugee program.
- Michelle Carbert
Fed up with deadly propaganda, some Russian journalists quit
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led some Russians who long worked for the government to cut ties with it, a sign of how the Kremlin is struggling to keep society fully unified behind the war. Thousands have been arrested protesting the invasion of Ukraine, tens of thousands have fled the country, and on Wednesday, Putin’s climate envoy, Anatoly Chubais, became the first senior government official reported to have quit since the invasion began Feb. 24.
There have been at least four high-profile resignations at Russia’s state television channels, a crucial pillar of Putin’s dominance over the country’s domestic politics. Marina Ovsyannikova, a Channel 1 staff member who interrupted a live news broadcast last week to unfurl an anti-war poster that said “They’re lying to you here,” offered the most striking act of protest. Others, including Dmitry Likin, the longtime art director for Channel 1, have gone more quietly, providing a glimpse of the ferment inside Putin’s system — and a reminder of the immense power of television in shaping how most Russians see the war.
Some members of Russia’s elite, too, have headed for the exits. News of the most high-profile departure so far came on Wednesday when Bloomberg News reported that Chubais, the Kremlin’s climate envoy, had quit over the war in Ukraine and left the country. The Kremlin confirmed that Chubais had stepped down. He was seen as one of the few liberal-minded officials remaining in Putin’s government, and his leading role in Moscow’s 1990s economic reforms made him unpopular in much of Russian society.
-The New York Times News Service
2:36 p.m. ET
Canada to impose sanctions on 160 more Russians over Ukraine invasion, Trudeau says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is sanctioning 160 more Russian officials in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Trudeau told media Thursday that Canada would keep its sanctions in place “as long as it takes – many more months, more years if that’s what’s necessary.”
“On top of that, we are also committed to steadily increasing sanctions,” he said.
With the ruble crashing and the stock market struggling, he said, “people are seeing real pain across Russia from this economic reality,” Mr. Trudeau said.
“Over the coming months as [sanctions] continue, that pain will only get harder and harder and harder for the Russian economy to bare. And there is one person - and one person only - who is responsible for that. And that is Vladimir Putin.”
Canada will also prohibit the export of specific technologies to Russia in a bid to undermine and erode Moscow’s military capabilities, and allocate the remaining $50 million of the country’s contribution for humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries through various programs including the World Health Organization and the UN Refugee Agency.
-Emma Graney and The Associated Press
1:35 p.m. ET
West pledges more aid for Ukraine, but not all Zelensky seeks
President Joe Biden and Western allies pledged new sanctions and humanitarian aid on Thursday in response to Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine, but their offers fell short of the more robust military assistance that President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for in a pair of live-video appearances.
The leaders spent Thursday crafting their next steps to counter Russia’s month-old invasion — and huddling over how they might respond should Putin deploy chemical, biological or even a nuclear weapon. They met in a trio of emergency summits that had them shuttling across Brussels for back-to-back-to-back meetings of NATO, the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the 27-member European Council.
Zelensky, while thankful for their help, made clear to the Western allies he needed far more than they’re currently willing to give.
U.S President Biden, who was attending all three summits, said more aid was on its way. But Western leaders also suggested they were treading carefully so as not to further escalate the conflict beyond the borders of Ukraine.
The White House announced the U.S. would welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide an additional $1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.
-The Associated Press
12:43 p.m. ET
Zelensky pleads with world leaders at NATO Summit for arms to fight Russia
In his virtual address to NATO, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stopped short of issuing his usual request for no-fly zone. But he hit out at the military alliance for not doing more to help his country defend itself against the Russians and appealed for “unlimited military support.”
“You have at least 20,000 tanks. Ukraine asks for 1 per cent, 1 per cent of all your tanks. Please give them to us or sell them to us. But we, so far, have not heard a clear response. We just want to save our people, to survive, just to survive,” Mr. Zelensky said.
The extraordinary series of summits — hosted by NATO, the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the European Union — reflected alarm that the conflict shows no sign of ending soon and could even spread beyond Ukraine’s borders. As Europe faces its greatest crisis in generations, Western leaders continue the search for ways to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin while avoiding steps that could lead to a wider war on the continent.
-Emma Graney and The Associated Press
12:20 p.m. ET
Ukraine says Moscow is forcibly taking civilians to Russia
Ukraine accused Moscow of forcibly taking thousands of civilians from the shattered port city of Mariupol to Russia so that they can be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to give up.
A month into the invasion, meanwhile, the two sides traded heavy blows in what has become a devastating war of attrition. Ukraine’s navy said it sank a large landing ship near the port city of Berdyansk that had been used to supply Russian forces with armoured vehicles. Russia claimed to have taken the eastern town of Izyum after fierce fighting.
- The Associated Press
11:08 a.m. ET
Ukraine says it has destroyed a large Russian landing ship
The Globe and Mail
Ukraine said on Thursday it had destroyed a large Russian landing support ship, the Orsk, at the Russian-occupied port of Berdiansk on the Sea of Azov.
Russia said on Monday the ship had docked at Berdiansk, 70 km southwest of the besieged port city of Mariupol, and the website of the Russian armed forces news outlet Zvezda (Star) underlined the port’s importance to Russian supply lines.
The ship was capable of carrying 45 armoured personnel carriers and 400 people.
10:36 a.m. ET
Ukraine says Russian forces have been pushed back in areas around Kyiv
Ukraine said on Thursday that its troops had pushed back Russian forces from some areas around Kyiv but that Russia had not given up hope of surrounding and seizing the Ukrainian capital.
“In some sectors the enemy was driven back by more than 70 km (44 miles), in some sectors the enemy is at a distance of 35 km,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Oleksander Motuzyanyk told a televised briefing.
10:16 a.m. ET
NATO says concerned Russia may be preparing pretext for chemical attack
Russia may be trying to create a pretext for the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by accusing the United States and its allies of preparing such an attack, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.
“We are concerned partly because we see the rhetoric and we see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext accusing Ukraine, the United States and NATO allies of preparing to use chemical and biological weapons,” he told reporters after a NATO summit in Brussels, adding any use of chemical weapons would have widespread consequences..
9:20 a.m. ET
U.S. to pledge US$1 billion in Ukraine aid, take 100,000 refugees
The United States will announce US$1-billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and a plan to accept up to 100,000 Ukraine refugees, a senior administration official said.
The United States is also launching the ‘European Democratic Resilience Initiative’ with $320 million in funding to support media freedom, social resistance, and human rights in Ukraine and nearby countries, the official said.
7:55 a.m. ET
Mariupol says 15,000 deported from besieged city to Russia
Ukrainian authorities in besieged Mariupol said on Thursday about 15,000 civilians had been illegally deported to Russia since Russian forces seized parts of the southern port city.
“Residents of the Left Bank district are beginning to be deported en masse to Russia. In total, about 15,000 Mariupol residents have been subjected to illegal deportation,” Mariupol city council said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Ukrainian officials say civilians trapped in Mariupol, which is normally home to about 400,000 people, face a desperate plight without access to food, water, power or heat.
7:41 a.m. ET
Swiss freeze more than $6 billion worth of sanctioned Russian assets
The Swiss government has frozen around US$6.17 billion worth of Russian assets in Switzerland covered by sanctions, and the number is likely to rise, a government official said on Thursday.
Pressure has increased on Switzerland — a popular destination for Moscow’s elite and a holding place for Russian wealth — to more quickly identify and freeze assets of hundreds of sanctioned Russians.
Its banks hold up to US$213 billion of Russian wealth, Switzerland’s bank lobby estimates.
6:28 a.m. ET
Ukraine belongs in the EU: Zelensky
Ukraine is fighting for the security of the whole of Europe and should be a full member of the European Union, President Volodymyr Zelensky told Swedish lawmakers on Thursday via video link.
“We are not fighting just for the people of Ukraine, but for Europe’s security and we have shown that we deserve to be a fully-fledged member of the EU,” he said.
5:43 a.m. ET
‘We will see who is our friend’, Zelensky says as Western leaders meet
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Western nations gathering in Brussels on Thursday to take “serious steps” to help Kyiv fight Russia’s invasion, as an unprecedented one-day trio of NATO, G7 and EU summits got underway.
“At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us,” Zelensky said in a video address released early on Thursday.
He said he expected “serious steps” from Western allies, repeating calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine and complaining that the West had not provided Ukraine with planes, modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.
While they will not send troops or planes, the 30 nations of NATO will agree to send Kyiv equipment to defend against biological, chemical and nuclear attacks.
5:04 a.m. ET
Putin has crossed red line into barbarism: Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday accused Russia of crossing a red line into barbarism in its war with Ukraine and said the West needed to “tighten the vice” in sanctions to bring the conflict to an end.
“Vladimir Putin has already crossed the red line into barbarism,” Mr. Johnson told reporters on arrival in Brussels for an unprecedented one-day trio of NATO, G7 and EU summits. He said more sanctions needed to be imposed.
“It is very important we work together to get this thing done. The harder our sanctions … the more we can do to help Ukraine … the faster this thing can be over.”
Britain froze the assets of Russia’s Gazprombank and Alfa Bank, and the state-run shipping firm Sovcomflot, in its latest round of sanctions announced on Thursday. It added 59 individuals and entities in total. Gazprombank is one of main channels for payments for Russian oil and gas.