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Also: NATO agrees to ramp up weapons supply ahead of next large offensive; UN General Assembly suspends Russia from human rights body; Ukraine tells civilians to leave ahead of looming battle in east

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A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a destroyed Russian fighting vehicle in Bucha, Ukraine, April 7, 2022.Vadim Ghirda/The Associated Press

Here are the latest updates on the war in Ukraine:

  • At least one person was killed and 14 wounded in shelling on Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said in an online video address.
  • NATO agreed to boost weapons supply to Ukraine ahead of an expected battle for control in the east; residents in the Donbas region were urged to evacuate immediately
  • The mayor of Mariupol said tens of thousands of citizens still need to be evacuated from the besieged city
  • The Senate voted unanimously to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban the importation of its oil, ratcheting up the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid reports of atrocities.
  • The head of the United Nations refugee agency is warning that the world is heading toward a displacement of 100 million people as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced people to flee at an alarming rate.

10:35 p.m. ET

How the U.S. plans to starve Russia’s ‘war machine’

The United States is ramping up sanctions against Russia to deprive Moscow’s “war machine” of money and components needed to sustain its invasion of Ukraine, but curbing a main source of funding, Russian energy exports, will take time, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Reuters on Thursday.

The United States and its allies have “a lot more that we can and we will do” to punish Moscow if Russia fails to halt its invasion, Adeyemo told Reuters in an interview.

Ukrainian leaders called on Thursday for the democratic world to stop buying Russian oil and gas, and cut Russian banks entirely from the international financial system.

After an initial drive to freeze Russian assets, Washington and its allies announced incremental steps this week as they approach the limit of sanctions to punish Russia without also causing economic pain at home.

A new investment ban announced on Wednesday by President Joe Biden forbids Americans from investing in Russian firms’ equity and debt and investment funds, cutting off Russia’s defence industry and other sectors from the world’s biggest source of investment capital, Adeyemo said.

“What this means is that Russia will be deprived of the capital it needs to build up its economy, but also to invest in its war machine,” Adeyemo said.

- Reuters

9:30 p.m. ET

UN refugee chief warns Ukrainians may need permanent resettlement if Russia’s war drags on

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Ukrainian refugees walk to the exit after arriving on a train from Odesa at Przemysl Glowny train station, after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Poland, April 7, 2022.LEONHARD FOEGER/Reuters

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says the world may have to consider permanent resettlement of Ukrainian refugees if Russia’s war develops into a protracted crisis.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail Thursday, Filippo Grandi said Canada’s decision to fast-track Ukrainian immigration applications – rather than offering a dedicated refugee program – is an appropriate response to the current situation. He said the government’s special immigration measures for Ukrainians, launched last month, are helping to relieve the pressure on Ukraine’s neighbours, which have taken in the bulk of the more than 4.3 million people who have fled since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. Mr. Grandi was in Ottawa this week for meetings with Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“If the situation is protracted, we will have more complex situations coming up and then most likely we will have to go to a more traditional refugee resettlement situation. But I think now there’s too much uncertainty and too much urgency at the same time and too many numbers, so this approach is valid,” said Mr. Grandi of Canada’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

More than 112,000 people have applied to Canada’s streamlined immigration program for Ukrainians, with the government approving nearly 30,000 of those applications so far.

- Michelle Carbert in Ottawa

9 p.m. ET

Inside Ukrainian prosecutors’ efforts to gather evidence of war crimes in Bucha

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A scene on Franka street in Bucha where Russian ammunition has exploded two days before the city was liberated in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 7, 2022.ANTON SKYBA/The Globe and Mail

Shortly before noon on Thursday, Ruslan Kravchenko strode down a gravel alley lined with dozens of spent 100-millimetre shells. Ahead, a body lay face down. A mine disposal team attached a long strap, slowly dragging the corpse roughly three metres, an exercise to ensure it had not been rigged with explosives.

Then Mr. Kravchenko approached. A former military prosecutor, he now leads the prosecutor’s office in Bucha, the town on the outskirts of Kyiv that has become synonymous with the brutality of the Russian invasion. The work of Mr. Kravchenko’s office will prove critical to Ukraine’s bid to prove that Russia, which denies any wrongdoing, has committed war crimes here.

The mine disposal team turned over the body to reveal a man who appeared to be in his 60s, with a short-cropped white beard. His face was smeared with blood.

He was “shot in the head,” Mr. Kravchenko said. The condition of the body suggested that “most likely he was down on his knees or he was face-down before the shot.”

Could this be a war crime?

“Of course,” said Mr. Kravchenko.

- Nathan VanderKlippe in Bucha, Ukraine

6:55 p.m. ET

Ukraine expects Russia to suspend hostilities during any pope papal trip, envoy says

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Pope Francis meets with Ukraine's ambassador to the Vatican, Andriy Yurash during a private audience at the Vatican, April 7, 2022.VATICAN MEDIA/Reuters

Ukraine would expect Russia to suspend hostilities during an eventual papal visit to Kyiv, the Ukrainian ambassador to the Vatican told Reuters on Thursday.

Ambassador Andriy Yurash spoke hours after he met Pope Francis and top Vatican officials to formally present his credentials.

“We discussed many things on the agenda right now, first of all the possible visit of His Holiness to Ukraine,” Yurash said in an interview on the sidelines of a diplomatic event in Rome.

“I gave more arguments as to why it has to be realised as quickly as possible and exactly in these circumstances,” he said.

Francis told reporters during a visit to Malta at the weekend that he was considering a trip to Kyiv to make a peace appeal there. Francis said a trip was “on the table.”

Francis has been invited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko, and Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Ukraine’s Byzantine-rite Catholic Church.

“If Russia will understand that the pope will go to Ukraine, Russia will stop the bombing at least for sure in this central and northern part, it is for sure,” Yurash said.

He said he came away from his meetings at the Vatican with a sense that “there is a lot of internal spiritual desire (to make the trip)” but with no commitment.


6:40 p.m. ET

Germany will need full transition period to ban Russian coal, Chancellor Scholz says

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz briefs the media after a meeting with the prime ministers of the federal states about the acceptance of refugees from Ukraine in Germany at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, April 7, 2022.Markus Schreiber/The Associated Press

Germany will need to use the full four-month phase-out period to implement a ban on Russian coal under European Union sanctions, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday.

The EU’s ambassadors agreed a fifth sanctions package on Russia, including a coal embargo, with a 120 day wind-down period to give EU member states time to find alternative suppliers.

“We will need to use this period,” Scholz told a news conference following a meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states.

“If it’s faster, that’s good. But we will need some time, and the companies will need it as well, though they have been looking for new suppliers for a while already,” he added.

A German economy ministry report prepared for parliament warned earlier this week that the country would likely have to switch off some of its power plants if it ended Russian coal imports straight away.

An immediate ban on Russian coal imports would lead to “coal shortages after a few weeks,” it said.


6:20 p.m. ET

Zelensky says situation in second Ukraine town ‘more dreadful’ than Bucha

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Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky speaks at a teleconference session during a session of Cyprus' House of Representatives in the capital Nicosia on April 7, 2022.IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on the Thursday that the situation in the town of Borodyanka was “significantly more dreadful” than in nearby Bucha, where Russian forces’ suspected killings of civilians have been broadly condemned.

Local officials have said more than 300 people were killed by Russian forces in Bucha, 35 kilometres northwest of the capital Kyiv, and around 50 of them were executed.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged by the Ukrainian government to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace negotiations.

“The work to clear the rubble in Borodyanka has begun … It’s significantly more dreadful there. Even more victims from the Russian occupiers,” Zelensky said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging service.


5:50 p.m. ET

RCMP collects evidence of alleged war crimes in Ukraine from people fleeing invasion

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An ordinance disposal team goes to check Franka street to allow police work to be performed in Bucha, Ukraine on April 7, 2022.ANTON SKYBA/The Globe and Mail

The RCMP is collecting evidence of alleged war crimes in Ukraine from people fleeing to Canada following Russia’s invasion of their country.

The investigation by the Mounties has been launched through the federal war crimes program to ensure important information and evidence is gathered from Ukrainians who wish to provide it upon arrival.

The RCMP and federal partners are setting up a website to let Ukrainians know how they can share information about possible war crimes they have witnessed during Russia’s attack.

In a statement Thursday, the government said details on the effort will also be available starting this week at Canada’s main international airports, and through non-governmental organizations and community groups providing assistance to Ukrainians.

Officials say information about possible crimes must be collected and protected at the earliest opportunity, to ensure it is not lost with the passage of time and to preserve crucial evidence for future prosecutions.

The Canadian Press

5:20 p.m. ET

Canada to raise military spending and review defence goals, citing Russian war

Canada will boost military spending slightly over the next five years and review its overall defence policy in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Liberal government said on Thursday.

The annual budget promised to spend more than $8 billion extra between 2022-23 and 2026-27 on the armed forces. Officials said this meant the defense budget in 2022-23 would be 2.7 per cent higher than had initially been forecast in 2021-22.

Canada currently spends 1.36 per cent of GDP on defense and a senior government official said the new spending should push that up to 1.5 per cent by 2026-27. But that is well short of NATO members’ goal - set in 2006 - of spending 2 per cent of their annual GDP on defence.

Ottawa said the money would be used to help boost the military, beef up cyber security and strengthen NORAD, the joint U.S.-Canadian North American defense organization set up to deter possible Russian aggression across the polar region.

The defence review would include an assessment of the equipment and technology that “the armed forces need to fulfill their missions in a world that has fundamentally changed in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the budget said.

Canada will also spend C$500 million in 2022-23 to provide further military aid to Ukraine and commit an extra 460 troops to a NATO mission in Latvia, which borders Russia, bringing the total number of Canadians deployed there to 1,260.


5:00 p.m. ET

European Council proposes more than $544M in funds for Ukrainian defence

European Council president Charles Michel says the bloc’s top diplomat has proposed adding an additional 500 million euros ($544 million) to Ukraine under the “European Peace Facility,” the fund which has been used for the first time during the war to deliver defensive lethal weapons to a third country.

The EU has previously agreed to spend 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) on military supplies for Ukrainian forces in an unprecedented step of collectively supplying weapons to a country under attack.

EU countries and NATO have so far excluded the option of a direct military intervention in Ukraine.

“Once swiftly approved this will bring to 1.5 billion the EU support already provided for military equipment for Ukraine,” Michel said in a message posted on Twitter in which he thanked EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell Josep Borrell.

The proposal needs to be approved by the 27 EU countries. The EU said the instrument should help Ukraine armed forces “defend the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty” and protect the civilian population.

The Associated Press

4:30 p.m. ET

WHO verifies more than 100 ‘attacks on health care’ in Ukraine since start of invasion

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Marianna Vishegirskaya stands outside a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022.Mstyslav Chernov/The Associated Press

The World Health Organization has verified more than 100 “attacks on health care” in Ukraine since the country was first invaded more than a month ago, the organization’s top official said Thursday.

At least 103 attacks on hospitals and other health-care facilities in the country, and at least 73 were killed and 51 injured in those incidents, said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

The toll includes medical workers as well as patients, he said.

He praised the United States for supporting international health efforts in Ukraine, including the delivery of more 180 metric tons of medical supplies to hard-hit areas. “We are outraged that attacks on health care (in Ukraine) continue,” he said.

The Associated Press

4:00 p.m. ET

EU nations approve new sanctions against Russia including coal import embargo

European Union nations have approved new sanctions against Russia, including an EU embargo on coal imports in the wake of evidence of torture and killings emerging from war zones outside Kyiv.

The ban on coal imports will be the first EU sanctions targeting Russia’s lucrative energy industry over its war in Ukraine, said an official on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not yet been made.

The EU ban on coal is estimated to be worth 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) per year. In the meantime, the EU has already started working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports.

The Associated Press

3:50 p.m. ET

Ukraine says 4,676 evacuated through humanitarian corridors on Thursday

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A man carries bottles of water as he walks past the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 7, 2022.ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/Reuters

A total of 4,676 people were evacuated on Thursday from Ukrainian towns and cities through 10 “humanitarian corridors,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

Vereshchuk, in a video post on her Telegram channel, said among the evacuees were 1,205 residents of the besieged city of Mariupol, who were taken to Zaporizhzhia.


3:40 p.m. ET

Russia laments ‘significant losses’ as Ukraine braces for major offensive

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A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 6, 2022.Felipe Dana/The Associated Press

Russia on Thursday appeared to give the most damning assessment so far of its invasion, describing the “tragedy” of mounting troop losses and the economic hit as Ukrainians were evacuated from eastern cities before an anticipated major offensive.

Moscow’s six-week long incursion has seen more than 4 million people flee abroad, killed or injured thousands, left a quarter of the population homeless, turned cities into rubble and led to Russia’s near total isolation on the world stage.

In a symbolic move, the United Nations General Assembly suspended it from the U.N. Human Rights Council, expressing “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis.” Russia then quit the council.

Russia has previously acknowledged its attack has not progressed as quickly as it wanted, but on Thursday Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov lamented the rising death toll.

“We have significant losses of troops,” he told Sky News. “It’s a huge tragedy for us.”

The Associated Press

3:30 p.m. ET

‘I’m not optimistic’ about Ukraine ceasefire, UN aid chief

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UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths walks in the streets of Bucha on April 7, 2022.RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

The United Nations’ humanitarian chief said Thursday he’s not optimistic about securing a ceasefire to halt the fighting in Ukraine, following high-level talks in Moscow and Kyiv that underscored how far apart the two sides are.

Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths gave the bleak assessment in an interview with The Associated Press in the Ukrainian capital after wrapping up talks with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and other top officials. That followed discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and officials in Moscow earlier in the week.

“I think it’s not going to be easy because the two sides, as I know now … have very little trust in each other,” he said.

“I’m not optimistic,” he added later.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres dispatched Griffiths to the Russian and Ukrainian capitals to explore the possibility of establishing a cease-fire that would allow desperately needed aid into Ukraine and potentially lay the groundwork for talks aimed at ending the war.

The Associated Press

3:00 p.m. ET

Ruble rebounds to pre-invasion levels

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People walk past a currency exchange office screen displaying the exchange rates of U.S. Dollar and Euro to Russian Rubles in Moscow, on Feb. 28, 2022.Pavel Golovkin/The Associated Press

The Russian ruble firmed sharply in Moscow trade on Thursday to levels last seen before Russia sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Ukraine, while stocks indexes jumped higher, shrugging off a new round of sweeping Western sanctions.

The ruble ended the day 5 per cent higher at 75.75 against the dollar after briefly touching 74.2625, its strongest level since Feb. 11.

Moves in the ruble were jittery and trading volumes on the Moscow Exchange were small compared with levels seen before Russia started what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The ruble has recently been steered by mandatory conversion of dollar and euro revenues by export-focused companies, while demand for forex has been limited by capital controls that the central bank imposed as the ruble crashed to record lows in March.


2:50 p.m. ET

Shelling in Ukraine’s Kharkiv kills one person, wounds 14, governor says

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Ukrainian soldiers look at a column of smoke that rises from the Kulinichi bread factory after it was hit by shelling in Kharkiv as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, April 7 2022.THOMAS PETER/Reuters

At least one person was killed and 14 wounded in shelling on Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said in an online video address.

The Ukrainian military earlier said Russian troops were bombarding the city with shells and rockets.

Russia denies targeting civilians.


1:50 p.m. ET

Zelensky asks Cyprus to shut ports to Russian ships

Ukraine’s president has asked Cypriot lawmakers to ratchet up pressure on Russia by shutting Cypriot ports to all Russian ships, and to stop granting Russian businessmen conveniences including Cypriot citizenship.

Addressing the Cypriot Parliament Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the east Mediterranean island nation for its humanitarian and financial aid and spoke of the destruction and death the Russian invasion has wrought. He warned that the killings of civilians that happened in the town of Bucha may be happening elsewhere.

Zelensky also pleaded for backing from Cyprus in Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. He said EU membership for Ukraine would help strengthen the 27-member bloc.

The Associated Press

12:28 p.m. ET

U.S. Senate unanimously votes to suspend normal trade relations with Russia, enact oil ban

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban the importation of its oil, ratcheting up the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid reports of atrocities.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly support the substance of the two bills, but they had languished for weeks in the Senate as lawmakers worked to hammer out the final details. Both bills are expected to gain the House’s support later Thursday before going to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. Read full story.

The Associated Press

12:19 p.m. ET

Atrocity reports spur NATO states to boost arms supplies

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, April 7, 2022.Olivier Matthys/The Associated Press

Spurred into action by reports of atrocities in Ukraine, NATO countries agreed Thursday to ramp up the supply of weapons to Kyiv, including hi-tech arms, amid concern that Russia is about to launch a large offensive in the eastern Donbas region.

NATO, as an organization, refuses to send troops or weapons to Ukraine or impose a no-fly zone to prevent Russia from completely overwhelming its neighbour. Individual member countries have provided anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, as well as equipment and medical supplies.

“There was a clear message from the meeting today that allies should do more, and are ready to do more, to provide more equipment, and they realize and recognize the urgency,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after chairing a meeting of allied foreign ministers in Brussels.

Stoltenberg declined to say which countries were stepping up supplies or what kinds of equipment they might send, but he said: “Rest assured, allies are providing a wide range of different weapons systems, both Soviet-era systems but also modern equipment.”

One of the drawbacks of sending modern arms is that Ukrainian troops would have to learn how to to use them, but some NATO nations raised the possibility of providing training outside of the war-ravaged country.

The Associated Press

12 p.m. ET

UN General Assembly suspends Russia from human rights body

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by invading Russian troops in Ukraine.

The U.S.-led push garnered 93 votes in favour, while 24 countries voted no and 58 countries abstained. A two-thirds majority of voting members – abstentions do not count – was needed to suspend Russia from the 47-member council.

Suspensions are rare. Libya was suspended in 2011 because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi. Read full story.


11:24 a.m. ET

U.S. moves to choke off exports to 3 Russian airlines

The Biden administration moved Thursday to choke off U.S. exports to three Russian airlines as part of what officials described as an unprecedented enforcement action.

The Commerce Department said the move would prevent the airlines – Russian national flag carrier Aeroflot, Utair and Azur Air – from receiving items from the U.S., including parts to service their aircraft.

“Those restrictions are significant because it’s obviously difficult to keep flying if you can’t service your planes,” Matthew Axelrod, an assistant commerce secretary for export enforcement, told reporters.

The effect, he said, is that the sanctioned airlines “and their fleet of aircraft will, over time, largely be unable to continue flying, either internationally or domestically, as they are now cut off from the international support and the U.S. parts and related services they need to maintain and support their fleets.”

The actions, known as temporary denial orders, do allow the Commerce Department to grant exceptions when the safety of a flight would be at risk. The orders extend for 180 days, though they can be renewed.

The Associated Press

10:08 a.m. ET

Ukraine pleads for total Russian energy ban, braces for assault in the east and south

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Ukrainian refugees walk after crossing the Ukraine-Poland border, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Medyka, Poland, April 7, 2022.LEONHARD FOEGER/Reuters

Ukraine stepped up calls on Thursday for financial sanctions crippling enough to force Moscow to end the war as its officials rushed to evacuate civilians from cities and towns in the east before an anticipated major Russian offensive there.

The democratic world must stop buying Russian oil and cut off Russian banks from the international finance system, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, adding that economic concerns should not come above punishment for civilian deaths that Ukraine and many of its Western allies have condemned as war crimes.

“Once and for all, we can teach Russia and any other potential aggressors that those who choose war always lose,” Zelensky said in an address to the Greek parliament. “Those who blackmail Europe with economic and energy crisis always lose.”

Washington, which banned Russian oil imports last month, took further steps on Wednesday to isolate Moscow, sanctioning two major lenders and President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, banning U.S. investment in Russia. Washington also called for its expulsion from the Group of 20 major economies.


9:11 a.m. ET

G7 warns Russia that sanctions will ramp up until troops withdraw from Ukraine

The Group of Seven major world powers are warning Russia they will keep ramping up sanctions until its troops leave Ukraine and that those responsible for alleged war crimes will be prosecuted.

G7 foreign ministers vowed Thursday to “sustain and increase pressure on Russia by imposing co-ordinated additional restrictive measures to effectively thwart Russian abilities to continue the aggression against Ukraine.”

Western nations have already slapped several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including on President Vladimir Putin, his family and associates, but have been reluctant to hit the country’s energy sector.

The G7 ministers, meeting on the sidelines of NATO talks in Brussels, say they “are taking further steps to expedite plans to reduce our reliance on Russian energy, and will work together to this end.”

Following allegations this week of war crimes in the city of Bucha, the ministers insist that “those responsible for these heinous acts and atrocities, including any attacks targeting civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure, will be held accountable and prosecuted.”

They also repeated warnings about the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, saying that “any use by Russia of such a weapon would be unacceptable and result in severe consequences.”

The Associated Press

8:30 a.m. ET

Ukraine presses EU for full energy embargo on Russia

Ukraine on Thursday reiterated a demand that the EU impose a full oil and gas embargo on Russia and called for weapons deliveries to be speeded up, as the bloc promised a fifth round of sanctions against Moscow by Friday.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed NATO’s 30 members plus the European Union, Finland, Sweden, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, in a session of his counterparts convened to maintain broad backing for sanctions and arms supplies in response to Russia’s invasion.

“We will continue to insist on a full oil and gas embargo,” Kuleba said.

Outrage over killings of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha near Kyiv appears to have galvanized Western support. Russia denies any wrongdoing there and says the evidence was fabricated.

EU lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in a non-binding resolution on Thursday for “an immediate full embargo” on Russian energy imports.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a fifth package of EU sanctions, including a ban on coal, would be agreed on Thursday or Friday.

But the bloc’s high level of dependency on Russian oil and particularly gas makes a broader energy embargo – which would cut off a significant source of revenue for Moscow’s war – unlikely for the time being.


8:02 a.m. ET

Russia says Ukraine presented ‘unacceptable’ draft peace deal

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a news conference after his talks with representatives of Arab League nations, in Moscow, Russia, April 4, 2022.POOL/Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Kyiv had presented Moscow with a draft peace deal that contained “unacceptable” elements, but that Russia would nonetheless continue talks and press to secure its own requirements.

The Kremlin has said that peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv are not progressing as rapidly as it would like and has accused the West of trying to derail negotiations by focusing on war crimes allegations, which Moscow denies.

Lavrov said on Thursday that Ukraine had presented a draft peace agreement to Russia on Wednesday but that it deviated from proposals both sides had previously agreed on.

“Such inability to agree once again highlights Kyiv’s true intentions, its position of drawing out and even undermining the talks by moving away from the understandings reached,” Lavrov said, adding that Kyiv’s proposals were “unacceptable.”

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Kyiv has said that talks are needed but it is not willing to give up its sovereignty and territorial integrity.


7:40 a.m. ET

Russia will ‘definitely respond’ to U.S. sanctions against Putin’s daughters

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Katerina Tikhonova, daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is seen on a screen as she takes part in a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 4, 2021.EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/Reuters

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia intends to respond to U.S. sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s daughters as it sees fit.

“Russia will definitely respond, and will do it as it sees fit,” Peskov said Thursday.

The U.S. on Wednesday announced that it is sanctioning Putin’s two adult daughters as part of a new batch of penalties on the country’s political and economic systems in retaliation for its alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Peskov told a conference call with reporters that the sanctions “add to a completely frantic line of various restrictions” and the fact that the restrictions target family members “speaks for itself.”

“This is something that is difficult to understand and explain. But, unfortunately, we have to deal with such opponents,” Peskov said.

The Associated Press

6:45 a.m. ET

WHO says its making contingency plans for possible ‘chemical assaults’ in Ukraine

The World Health Organization’s European head said on Thursday that the body was preparing for possible “chemical assaults” in Ukraine.

“Given the uncertainties of the current situation, there are no assurances that the war will not get worse,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a statement sent to journalists from Lviv, Ukraine.

“WHO is considering all scenarios and making contingencies for different situations that could afflict the people of Ukraine, from the continued treatment of mass casualties, to chemical assaults,” he said, without providing further details.

Western officials have repeatedly voiced fears that Russia may use chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine, with risks of spillover effects beyond the country.

Russia’s defence ministry has accused Kyiv, without providing evidence, of planning a chemical attack against its own people in order to accuse Moscow of using chemical weapons in the invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24.


6:39 a.m. ET

Germany has satellite image indication of Russian involvement in Bucha killings -

The German government has indications that Russia was involved in the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha based on satellite images, a security source said on Thursday.

German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the intelligence agency had intercepted radio messages from Russian military sources discussing the killing of civilians in Bucha.

“It’s true that the federal government has indications of Russian perpetration in Bucha,” said the source. “However, these findings on Bucha refer to satellite images. The radio transmissions cannot be clearly assigned to Bucha.”

The source did not elaborate. He said there was no indication of an order from the Russian armed forces’ general staff regarding Bucha.

Bucha, 37 km (23 miles) northwest of Kyiv, was occupied by Russian troops for more than a month following their Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Local officials say more than 300 people were killed by Russian forces in Bucha alone, and around 50 of them were executed. Moscow denies the accusations.


6 a.m. ET

Ukraine tries to evacuate civilians as Russian forces pound east and south

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A young girl with her dog arrives at a centre for the internally displaced persons in Zaporizhzhia, some 200 kilometres (124 miles) northwest of Mariupol on April 6, 2022.BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine was trying to evacuate as many trapped civilians as possible on Thursday as Russian forces pounded cities and towns in the east and south of the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Irena Vereshchuk announced agreement with Russia on opening 10 safe corridors, mostly in southern and eastern Ukraine, but said residents trying to leave the besieged city of Mariupol would have to use their own vehicles.

Multiple attempts to agree safe passage for buses to take supplies to Mariupol and bring out civilians have failed since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, with each side blaming the other.

Ukrainian officials say Russia has been regrouping for a new offensive in the east and south, and want civilians to leave those areas while they still can.

“Evacuate! The chances of saving yourself and your family from Russian death are dwindling every day,” said Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, adding that Russian troops had not made any significant breakthroughs.

Local officials reported heavy Russian shelling and rocket fire in the southern region of Kherson in the last few days. Ukrainian Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovycvh said Russian air attacks were now focused mainly on areas of eastern Ukraine, and that Mariupol was holding out.


5:55 a.m. ET

Zelensky says Russia must be brought to justice

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called on the West to “bring Russia to justice,” saying Moscow’s actions were directed not only against Ukraine but also Europe.

“Once and for all, we can teach Russia and any other potential aggressors that those who choose war always lose … those who blackmail Europe with economic and energy crisis always lose,” Zelensky said in an address to Greek lawmakers, speaking through an interpreter.

He reiterated calls that the democratic world reject Russian oil and completely block Russian banks from the international finance system.

“Let us be honest, since the very beginning Russia’s actions were directed not only against Ukraine but also Europe,” he said.


5:50 a.m. ET

Kremlin says it will decide on Putin’s G20 participation based on how events unfold

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Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the country's agricultural and fish industries via a video link at a residence outside Moscow, Russia April 5, 2022.SPUTNIK/Reuters

The Kremlin said on Thursday that it would make a decision on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a G20 summit later this year in Indonesia based on how events evolve.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was responding to a question about calls by some leaders of G20 countries to exclude Putin from the summit over his decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

“We will clarify this, after all Indonesia is the organizer,” said Peskov.

Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia said last month that Putin intended to travel to the Indonesian resort island of Bali for the G20 summit in November despite opposition from Western countries in the group.


5:43 a.m. ET

Ukraine seeks arms from NATO as Russia regroups to attack east

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Residents run near a burning house following a shelling Severodonetsk, Donbass region, on April 6, 2022, as Ukraine tells residents in the country's east to evacuate "now" or "risk death" ahead of a feared Russian onslaught on the Donbas region, which Moscow has declared its top prize.AFP Contributor#AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine was bracing to battle for control of its industrial east and appealing for more help from the West after Russian forces withdrew from the shattered outskirts of Kyiv to regroup.

Authorities were urging people to immediately evacuate from the Donbas region before Russia intensifies its offensive. In Brussels, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged NATO to provide more weapons for his war-torn country to help prevent further atrocities like those reported in the city of Bucha.

“My agenda is very simple: It’s weapons, weapons and weapons,” Kuleba said as he arrived at NATO headquarters Thursday for talks with the military organization’s foreign ministers about Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion.

“We know how to fight. We know how to win. But without sustainable and sufficient supplies requested by Ukraine, these wins will be accompanied by enormous sacrifices,” Kuleba said. “The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved.” Read full story.

The Associated Press

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