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Russia leaves Kyiv with 85% of its combat power, U.S. says
As it continued to move away from Ukraine’s capital, the Russian military has retained 80 to 85 percent of the combat power it had when the invasion began Feb. 24, a senior Defense Department official said Friday.
“The aggregate tells us that they are under 85 percent of their assessed available combat power when they started this invasion,” the official said during a briefing.
The news came as U.S. intelligence indicated invading forces were returning to Russia, including to Belgorod and to Valuyki, a town southeast of Belgorod, the defense official said. The locations may be points of resupply, the official said.
Russia has launched more than 1,500 missiles since the invasion began, the official said, and small arms ammunition continues to flow into Ukraine.
U.S. sending Patriot missiles to Slovakia after Slovakia gives air defense system to Ukraine
The U.S. will send a Patriot missile battery to Slovakia in the coming days as a backfill for the Slovakian government giving an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, a senior defense official said.
The U.S. has already moved the Patriot battery, which is typically used to intercept and destroy missiles, from Germany to Poland so it can be transferred quickly into Slovakia, which is on Ukraine’s western border. The battery will be there temporarily and be manned by a few dozen U.S. troops.
“I salute the generosity of the Slovak government in providing an S-300 air defense system — a critical defensive capability — to Ukraine. It’s a strong testament to how determined Ukraine’s neighbors are to help the Ukrainians defend themselves against Russia’s unprovoked invasion of their homeland,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said.
Death toll in railway station attack rises to 50, including 5 children
The death toll in Friday’s attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk has risen to 50 people, including five children, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration, said.
“We have such a large number of victims at this hour as a result of the attack of the Russian occupation forces,” Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post Friday. NBC News was unable to independently verify the death toll and number of those injured.
Russia has denied carrying out the attack, with its defense ministry calling Ukraine’s accusations a “provocation.” Moscow has consistently denied targeting civilians in its attacks in Ukraine.
Kyrylenko said nearly 40 people had died on the scene. Twelve died in hospitals. Of the 98 wounded, he said 16 were children.
U.S. Embassy: Kramatorsk is ‘one more atrocity’ by Russia
The United States Embassy in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, has tweeted that the rocket attack on Kramatorsk railway station “is one more atrocity committed by Russia” and vowed that “the world will hold Putin to account.”
‘We fear the worst,’ UNICEF says over children killed in railway station attack
As Ukrainian officials reported that children were among the 39 people killed and the dozens injured in an attack on a railway station in Kramatorsk, UNICEF said “we fear the worst” on the death toll.
“We do not know yet how many children were killed and injured in the attack, but we fear the worst,” UNICEF Ukraine Representative Murat Sahin said in a statement Friday. Earlier, Ukrainian national police had confirmed that children were among the dead, but did not say how many children had died.
Condemning the attack, Sahin noted that the Kramatorsk station “has been the main route out for thousands of families evacuating from Donetsk Oblast, which has seen some of the war’s worst destruction, to relatively safer areas in Ukraine.”
Sahin said a UNICEF team had been delivering life-saving supplies just over half a mile away from the railway station when the attack took place.
Russia’s defense ministry calls railway station attack claims a ‘provocation’
Russia’s Ministry of Defense on Friday denied striking a railway station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk — an attack that Ukraine says killed at least 39 people.
The ministry of defense claimed that Kyiv’s statements about the attack are a “provocation and are absolutely untrue.”
Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians in its military offensive in Ukraine. But eyewitnesses, journalists and humanitarian organizations have all extensively documented civilian deaths across the country.
Slovakia gives S-300 air defense system to Ukraine
Slovakia donated the S-300 air defense system to Ukraine to help it withstand Russia’s military assault, Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced Friday.
“I would like to confirm that #Slovakia has provided #Ukraine with an air-defense system S-300,” Heger said in a tweet.
“#Ukrainian nation is #bravely defending its sovereign country and us too,” the prime minister added. “It is our duty to help, not to stay put and be ignorant to the loss of human lives under #Russia’s aggression.”
Slovakia, a NATO member nation, operates one battery of the S-300 air defense system, which it inherited after the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993, according to Reuters.
Borodyanka’s acting mayor describes devastation after Russian airstrikes
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces bombarded the small town of Borodyanka with relentless airstrikes, destroying buildings and making it virtually impossible to seek out survivors amid the ruins, the town’s acting mayor said Friday.
“I’m afraid there is no possibility to extract any people alive because of the bombardment basically destroyed the buildings,” Georgii Yerko said in an interview with CNN that aired Friday morning. “It’s unlikely that anyone would still be alive under the rubble.”
Yerko went on to say that the city, just northwest of the capital of Kyiv, is “completely destroyed in terms of its infrastructure.”
“The power lines are down. Water and gas supply pipelines destroyed. Even sewage lines are [in] prehistoric conditions,” Yerko said. “It is uninhabitable at the moment.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy lamented the destruction in Borodyanka in a video message Thursday, saying the devastation there is “even scarier” than Russian atrocities in Bucha. “The work on dismantling the rubble in Borodyanka has begun,” Zelenskyy said. “It is even scarier there, even more victims of the Russian occupiers.”
Japan bans Russian coal imports in new sanctions
Japan has announced five new sanctions against Moscow, including a phased ban on coal imports from Russia.
Japan would immediately search for alternative energy sources, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in announcing the sanctions Friday at a news conference.
“Russia has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law by killing civilians and attacking nuclear power plants,” Kishida said, according to Reuters. “These are unforgivable war crimes.”
The new sanctions also include a ban on importing certain Russian goods and freeze the assets of a top state-owned lender Sberbank.
Japan earlier announced it was expelling eight diplomats and trade representatives over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
NATO members preparing for the ‘long haul’ in Russia-Ukraine war, U.S. official says
With no clear end in sight of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO members are preparing for the “long haul,” a senior State Department official has said.
“There’s wide agreement that we need to support Ukraine, and we need to do more to support Ukraine,” the official said, following NATO talks in Brussels.
The official said there was “no sign of fatigue or a sense of looking for an off ramp” at the talks. “There was a really sense of determination and a sober reflection that this is going to be a tough haul in the future and that the alliance had done a really good job getting through this opening period.”
“There’s a recognition that we need to position ourselves for the long haul, all of us do,” the official said later.
Asked whether European countries were getting closer to issuing a ban on Russian oil and gas, the official said, “We all have to recognize there’s no on off switch” but added that there is a “recognition they’ve got to wean themselves off over time.”
‘You have to communicate with your enemy,’ says Irpin survivor
IRPIN, Ukraine — Nina Tarasova, 80, a lifelong resident of Irpin, a city on the outskirts of Kyiv, survived the Russian occupation by hiding out in the stairwell of her building with her loyal dog, Topik.
After all the windows were shattered early on, she realized that bullets could not penetrate the interior walls. So she hid with Topik in the dark for days and survived on a diet of canned beans.
She lost friends during the monthlong attack and showed us the graves that neighbors helped dig for them in the courtyard of her building.
Despite it all, she is still hopeful that Ukraine can reach a peace agreement with Russia.
“You have to communicate with your enemy … you have to,” she said through a translator Thursday. “We have to love each other. We live only once on this Earth.”
At least 39 killed in Kramatorsk railway station attack, Donetsk governor says
The death toll of the Russian attack on Kramatorsk has risen to at least 39, according to the governor of the Donetsk region.
Another 87 people were injured in the attack, with a number of people in “serious” condition, Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a statement on his Telegram channel.
Kyrylenko said evacuations out of the city would continue despite the attack. “Anyone who wants to leave the region will be able to do so,” he wrote.
The Kremlin has denied carrying out any “combat missions” in Kramatorsk. Moscow has consistently denied targeting civilians in its attacks in Ukraine.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia on Friday of a “deliberate slaughter” of civilians in the attack.
“Russians knew that the train station in Kramatorsk was full of civilians waiting to be evacuated,” he said in a tweet. He also vowed to bring “each war criminal to justice.”
Kremlin denies any ‘combat missions’ in Kramatorsk
The Kremlin has denied launching any “combat missions” in Kramatorsk after Ukrainian officials reported that least 39 people had been killed and dozens in strikes on a railway station in the city.
In a briefing on Friday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said said “there were no combat missions in Kramatorsk and they were not planned.”
He added that Russian forces did not have the “type of missiles” he said Ukrainian officials said were used.
Moscow has consistently denied targeting civilians in its attacks on Ukraine, despite photos and videos emerging from besieged cities purported to show the bodies of slain civilians.
Around 4,000 people were at railway station when attack unfolded, Kramatorsk mayor says
Around 4,000 people were at the Kramatorsk railway station when Russian rockets hit on Friday morning, the city’s mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko has said.
“The departure of the first trains begins at 10 o’clock, so the Russian occupiers deliberately hit at 10:30 am, when there were 4,000 people,” Honcharenko told Rada, the official TV station of the Ukrainian parliament.
The attack killed more than 30 people, including children, and injured around 100, officials, national police said. One of the two rockets also hit a temporarily waiting room, where hundreds were waiting to be evacuated, they said.
“This is another proof that Russia is brutally, barbarically destroying the civilian population of Ukraine, with the sole purpose of killing,” the national police said in a statement on its Telegram channel.
Police officers, medics staff and emergency personnel are onsite to provide assistance and document the impact, the statement added.
A man carries an injured dog after a rocket attack in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine on Friday.
U.K. sanctions daughters of Putin and Lavrov
The British government has unveiled fresh sanctions against the daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after a similar decision in the United States.
Putin’s daughters, Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, and Lavrov’s daughter, Yekaterina Sergeyevna, will now be subject to asset freezes and travel bans, the U.K. said in a statement on Friday.
Currently over 60% of Russia’s foreign reserve — almost $350 billion — has been frozen as a result of sanctions by the U.K. and its allies, it said.
“Our unprecedented package of sanctions is hitting the elite and their families, while degrading the Russian economy on a scale Russia hasn’t seen since the fall of the Soviet Union,” said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Global food prices surge amid Russia’s invasion, United Nations says
World food commodity prices “reached their highest levels ever in March” as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said on Friday.
“The FAO Food Price Index averaged 159.3 points in March, up 12.6% from Feb 2022 and was 33.6% higher than in March 2021,” the organization said in a tweet.
The price of wheat rose by 19.7 this month, according to the FAO Food Price Index, “driven by large rises in wheat and all coarse grain prices largely as a result of the war in Ukraine,” the organization said in a statement.
The Index for vegetable oil also rose by 23.2 percent this month, driven by demands for sunflower seed oil, of which Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter.
The Index overall rose by 12.6 per cent from February to March 2022. The latest figures marked a 33.6 per cent jump than prices in March 2021, according to the organization’s data.
Ukraine’s wheat and maize has accounted for 20 per cent of the world’s exports for the past three years, while Russian wheat and maize accounted for 30 per cent.
E.U. adopts fifth round of sanctions against Russia
The European Union has formally adopted a fifth round of sanctions against Russia that prohibits coal imports and access of Russian vessels to E.U. ports.
“These latest sanctions were adopted following the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation,” said High Representative Josep Borrell in a statement on Friday.
Russian and Belarusian road transport with the E.U. will be prohibited, restricting movement of any goods except for humanitarian, food, and medical purposes. Export bans targeting jet fuel and technology were also agreed upon, accounting for almost $11 billion of trade.
Four key Russian banks, which account for 23% of market share in Russia and were earlier removed from the SWIFT payment system, have also been completely cut off from the E.U. market.
Japan expelling eight Russian diplomats
Japan is expelling eight Russian diplomats in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, its foreign ministry confirmed on Friday.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hikariko Ono announced the decision, according to Reuters. She said Japan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Takeo Mori had notified Russian Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin of the decision.
It comes as a number of European countries have also moved to expel Russian diplomats in recent days after Russia was accused of killing and torturing hundreds of people in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians in its attacks on Ukraine, including in Bucha.
The remains of a rocket appearing to be adorned with the words “for our children” lies on the ground outside the railway station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukraine on Friday.
Zelenskyy accuse Russian forces of ‘destroying civilian population’ after railway attack
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy has slammed Russian forces for “destroying the civilian population” after rocket strikes hit a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk, where thousands of people were waiting to be evacuated, according to officials.
“Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population. This is an evil that has no limits. And if it is not punished, it will never stop,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on his official Telegram channel.
The attack on Friday morning has killed over 30 people and injured around 100, according to Ukraine’s state railway company. Zelenskyy also said around 30 people had died. NBC News has been unable to independently verify the strikes or the death toll.
Ukrainian servicemen carry a victim to be placed next to other casualties after a bombing at a railway station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk on Friday.
More than 30 dead after rocket strike hits railway station in Kramatorsk, officials say
More than 30 people have been killed after two Russian rockets hit a railway station in Kramatorsk, a city in the Donetsk region, as thousands of Ukrainians tried to flee the region on Friday, Ukraine’s state railway company has said.
Ukrainian Railways said on its Telegram channel that more than 100 people were also wounded in the strikes. NBC News was not able to independently verify the strikes or the reported death toll and injuries.
In a statement posted on his official Telegram channel, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko accused Russian forces of intentionally hitting the station, saying they “knew well where they were aiming and what they wanted: they wanted to take as many peaceful people as possible hostage.”
“This is a deliberate blow to the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk,” the head of Ukrainian Railways, Alexander Kamyshin, wrote in the company’s Telegram channel.
Mood of peace talks has been affected by events in Bucha, negotiator says
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have been ongoing, but the mood of the negotiations has shifted since the atrocities Russian forces are alleged to have committed in Bucha came to light, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak has said.
In televised comments Friday, Podolyak, a presidential adviser, said there was an “ongoing online process” for peace talks between the two countries. But he added that the events in Bucha, where Ukrainian officials have accused Russian forces of killing and torturing more than 300 people, had left “a certain imprint” on the negotiations.
“This is not a question of the actual conduct of negotiations, but the emotional background against which these negotiations are conducted,” he said. “Ukrainian society is now much more negative about any negotiation concept that concerns the Russian Federation.” Still, he said the negotiation process was important to Ukraine.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians in its attacks on Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces have retaken Sumy, governor says
Ukrainian forces have retaken control of Sumy, a city on Ukraine’s border with Russia, after Russian forces left the area, according to its governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi.
NBC News was not able to independently verify the claim.
In a Telegram post on Friday, Zhyvytskyi said an ongoing restoration and de-mining operation was taking place in the area.
“The area is free of [Russian forces], so if you hear explosions (and there have been many in recent days) — it’s rescuers and explosives. They are neutralizing the ammunition left by the Russian military on our land.” he said.
The governor warned Ukrainians to steer clear of the region around the city.
“There are a lot of mined and unexplored areas. Do not drive on the roadsides and do not use forest roads. Do not approach destroyed equipment or [Russian] sites!” he said.
Russia forces in northern Ukraine have ‘fully withdrawn’ to Belarus and Russia, U.K. says
Russian forces have “fully withdrawn” from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, Britain’s defense ministry has said.
In an intelligence update on Friday, the defense ministry said that at least some of those forces would be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas region.
“Many of these forces will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy further east,” it said, adding that any mass redeployment from the north would likely take at least a week.
Meanwhile, it said Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues, with Russian forces having advanced further south from the strategically important city of Izium, which it said remains under Russian control.
Ten evacuation corridors to open in Ukraine
Ten evacuation corridors for evacuation have been planned for Friday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on Telegram.
The planned corridors include evacuation out of the encircled city of Mariupol towards Zaporizhzhia using own private transport as well as from Melitopol and Berdyansk, Vereshchuk said. Five evacuation routes out of Luhansk will also be available.
Ukrainian officials have said that evacuation out of Mariupol has been extremely challenging with safe passages repeatedly attacked and blocked.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday that after days of difficulties trying to reach the besieged port city, it was able to facilitate a convoy of private cars and buses carrying more than 500 people to Zaporizhzhia.
European Commission chief heads to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is headed to Kyiv on Friday to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In a tweet Friday morning, von der Leyen said she was “looking forward to Kyiv.”
The trip comes as Zelenskyy has called for the West to be more “courageous” in pressuring Moscow to end its invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday, the European Union approved a phased-in ban on Russian coal, while the European Parliament called for a full embargo on imports of oil and gas.
Source: This post first appeared on NBC News