Zelenskyy urges U.N. to act against Russia amid outrage over Bucha deaths

Zelenskyy urges U.N. to act against Russia amid outrage over Bucha deaths

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Zelenskyy warns Russia gathering reinforcements for another offensive

LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces still are trying to push deep into Ukraine in the east, but the Ukrainian army is holding them back.

In his daily night-time video address to the nation late Tuesday, Zelenskyy said Ukraine was aware that Russia was gathering up reinforcements for another offensive.

Zelenskyy also said Ukraine is outnumbered both in troops and equipment.

“We don’t have a choice — the fate of our land and of our people is being decided,” he said. “We know what we are fighting for. And we will do everything to win.”

Biden administration to send $100 million in Javelin missiles to Ukraine

The Biden administration Tuesday night pledged $100 million in defense aid for Ukraine to be used for Javelin anti-tank missiles.  

The announcement follows repeated pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for more weapons to fight Russian forces that invaded on Feb. 24 — and after he detailed alleged war crimes in the city of Bucha to the U.N. Security Council.

The U.S. said last week it would provide $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including laser-guided rocket systems, armed drones, ammunition and other equipment. 

Since February, the U.S. has provided the country with more than $2 billion in aid.

NASA astronaut says Russian crew ‘blindsided’ by response to yellow and blue flight suit

HOUSTON — NASA’s record-setting astronaut Mark Vande Hei says he and his Russian crewmates focused on their mission, not the “heartbreaking” news unfolding in Ukraine, while serving aboard the International Space Station.

His 355-day spaceflight ended last Wednesday with a landing in Kazakhstan. He returned to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, the latter of whom also spent a year in orbit.

In his first news conference back on Earth, Vande Hei said Tuesday that he did not shy away from the topic with his Russian crewmates while aboard the space station. “They weren’t very long discussions, but I did ask them how they were feeling and sometimes I asked pointed questions. But our focus really was on our mission together.”

Vande Hei also cleared up any misunderstandings about the yellow-with-blue-trim flight suits worn by their Russian replacements when arriving at the space station last month. Those were the school colors of their university, Vande Hei said from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and not meant as a political statement. “The folks who wore them had no idea that people would perceive that as having anything to do with Ukraine … I think they were kind of blindsided by it.”

Nearly 4,000 people evacuated from Ukraine today

Nearly 4,000 people evacuated from war-torn Ukraine along humanitarian corridors on Tuesday, the country’s deputy prime minister said in a message on Telegram.

Iryna Vereshchuk reported that a total of 3,846 people managed to flee the country Tuesday.

But a convoy of seven buses set to evacuate Ukrainians from Mariupol was forced to return after running into a blockade in the area of Mangush, she added.

British PM to Russians: ‘History will remember’ who looked away

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decried the savagery of Vladimir Putin’s forces and appealed directly to the Russian people to “share” the truth in a video message Tuesday.

“The reports are so shocking, so sickening, it’s no wonder your government is seeking to hide them from you,” Johnson said to Russian citizens, referring to the horrific wave of killings in Bucha, Irpin and elsewhere in Ukraine.

“Your president knows that if you could see what was happening, you would not support his war,” Johnson said.

“He knows that these crimes betray the trust of every Russian mother who proudly waves goodbye to her son as he heads off to join the military, and he knows they are a stain on the honor of Russia itself — a stain that will only grow larger and more indelible every day this war continues.”

He urged Russian civilians to “access independent information” — “and when you find the truth,” he said, “share it.”

“Those responsible will be held to account,” the prime minister added, “and history will remember who looked the other way. “

U.S., allies to impose more sweeping sanctions against Russia

The Biden administration plans to announce an additional sweeping sanctions package targeting Russia on Wednesday, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The package was organized in coordination with the G-7 and the European Union, the source said.

Under the new measures, the U.S. will ban all new investment in Russia, increase sanctions on financial institutions and state-owned enterprises in Russia and sanctions on its government officials and their family members.

Sources said the sanctions seek to inflict significant economic harm on Russia, and comes after U.S. officials and President Biden have recognized new evidence of further war crimes in Ukraine, particularly in the city of Bucha.

Joint Chiefs chairman says Ukraine war could last ‘years’

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S. and its allies should be prepared to counter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe for “quite some time.”

“I do think this a very protracted conflict and I think it’s at least measured in years. I don’t know about a decade, but at least years, for sure,” said Gen. Mark Milley, the nation’s top military commander. “This is a very extended conflict that Russia has initiated. And I think that NATO, the United States, Ukraine and all of the allies and partners that are supporting Ukraine are going to be involved in this for quite some time.”

Milley said it’s still too soon to tell how Ukraine’s fiercer than expected resistance might influence Moscow’s plans in the future, but said the U.S. must be prepared to counter future Russian aggression as Moscow tries to expand its sphere of influence in Ukraine and other Eastern European nations.

“We are witness to the greatest threat to peace and security of Europe, and perhaps the world, in my 42 years of service in uniform,” Milley said in his opening remarks at the hearing on the Defense Department’s budget. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine is threatening to undermine not only European peace and stability, but the global peace and stability that my parents and a generation of Americans fought so hard to defend.”

Bucha mayor says 3,700 residents left in besieged city

The mayor of Bucha, the Kyiv suburb where Russian troops allegedly carried out horrific atrocities, said on Ukrainian television Tuesday that some 3,700 residents remained in the city.

Anatoliy Fedoruk said almost all the main power lines in Bucha were destroyed. He added that medical care and other municipal services will return to the city after Thursday.

Zelenskyy slams U.N. for inaction, details atrocities

Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday laid out atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine in a powerful speech to the U.N. Security Council from Kyiv.

Zelenskyy said he visited the city of Bucha near Kyiv on Monday and said the Russian military there “searched for and purposely killed anyone who served our country.”

“They shot and killed women outside their houses,” Zelenskyy said. “They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies.”

The Ukrainian leader said civilians were fatally shot in the back of the head after being tortured. Some were shot in the streets and thrown into wells and others were killed in their own apartments by grenades, he said.

“The civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road,” he continued. “They cut off limbs, cut their throats, slashed their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children. Their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.”

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Estonia boots 14 Russian officials, including seven diplomats

Estonia has expelled 14 Russian officials working at consulates there, including seven people with diplomatic status, the country’s ministry of foreign affairs announced Tuesday.

Those being ousted from Estonia must leave the country by April 30, the ministry said in a statement.

Märt Volmer, the undersecretary for European affairs at the Estonian foreign ministry, said in part that “in light of the constant news of atrocities committed by the Russian forces, including in Bucha and elsewhere, there can be no talk of business as usual.”

European Commission proposes new sanctions against Russia

The European Commission has proposed new sanctions against Russia, including an import ban on coal worth 4 billion euros per year (about $4.4 billion).

The proposed fifth package of sanctions comes as Russia faces widespread condemnation over atrocities it has been accused of committing in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

“We all saw the gruesome pictures from Bucha and other areas from which Russian troops have recently left,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must not go unpunished.”

The proposed package has six pillars, she said. In addition to the import ban on coal from Russia, it would also include a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, with VTB, the second-largest Russian banks among them.

It would further block Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing E.U. ports, with some exemptions, including for agricultural food products, humanitarian aid and energy, along with other measures aimed at cutting “the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs.”

Von der Leyen said the E.U. would also propose further penalties against individuals and was working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports.

Ukraine’s foreign minister to attend NATO meetings in person this week

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will attend NATO talks in Brussels in person on Thursday, NBC News has confirmed.

Ukraine’s representative to NATO said on Tuesday that Kuleba would be taking part in the meetings of NATO ministers of foreign affairs.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Kuleba is expected to update NATO members on the “latest developments” in Ukraine, including Kyiv’s negotiations with Moscow.

NATO head decries Russia’s ‘unbearable brutality’ in Bucha

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday condemned the devastation in areas Russian troops recently left, describing horrific images from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha as “unbearable brutality Europe has not witnessed in many decades.”

“Targeting and murdering civilians is a war crime,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “All the facts must be established, and all those responsible for these atrocities must be brought to justice.”

Stoltenberg said reporters that NATO leaders expect Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces will soon shift their focus to the east of Ukraine. NATO allies are “determined” to deliver more weapons to support Ukrainian soldiers and freedom fighters, and NATO member countries will discuss sending advanced technologies, including anti-tank weapons.

‘Evil’ acts in Bucha ‘will forever live in infamy,’ U.S. ambassador says

The atrocities Russian forces have been accused of committing in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha “will forever live in infamy,” the United States ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said.

“The world is demanding justice following the shocking images of carnage discovered when Ukraine liberated Bucha on April 2,” Ambassador Michael Carpenter said in remarks delivered to the OSCE Special Permanent Council in Vienna Tuesday.

Pointing to images purported to show the dead bodies of civilians slain by Russian forces in the Kyiv suburb, Carpenter warned that “as more areas are liberated, we are likely to encounter similar scenes of utter depravity and monstrous brutality.” He said the U.S. continued to see “credible reports” of Russian forces killing and torturing civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that as many as 300 residents are believed to have been killed and tortured in Bucha. “The evil that has transpired in Bucha will forever live in infamy. Let us never forget it,” Carpenter said.

France opens 3 new inquiries over possible war crimes in Ukraine

France’s National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s office has said it is opening three new investigations to determine if war crimes have been committed in Ukraine since Russia invaded.

In a statement Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office said it was investigating possible war crimes allegedly committed in Mariupol, Chernihiv and Gostomel since the invasion began on Feb. 24 until March 16.

“The facts referred to by the investigations were allegedly committed to the detriment of French nationals,” it said.

An investigation had already been opened into the death of French Irish Fox news cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who died in March after Russian forces fired at a car he was in with two others near Kyiv. Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova was also killed, and Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured. 

Michael Probst / AP

Russia accused of blocking Egypt-bound ship carrying Ukrainian wheat

The Ukrainian embassy in Cairo has accused Russia of blocking a ship loaded with Ukrainian wheat from moving after the goods were purchased by Egypt.

The ship, EMMAKRIS III, remains docked in the Ukrainian port of Chernomorsk in the Black Sea, according to ship tracking information verified by NBC News on Tuesday.

The Russian embassy in the Egyptian capital denied the claims, instead accusing Ukrainian authorities of preventing ships from leaving the port.

Egypt is one of three countries, along with Indonesia and Bangladesh, that import about a third of the wheat that Ukraine exports, according to the International Grains Council

Sweden to expel 3 Russian diplomats for spying, foreign minister says

Sweden will expel three Russian diplomats for spying, Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Tuesday, joining a number of European countries that have expelled Russian diplomats in recent days.

“It is because they are not following the Vienna Convention and they are undertaking illegal intelligence-gathering operations,” Linde told reporters.

France, Belgium and the Netherlands have recently expelled Russian diplomats over alleged spying activity.

The moves coincide with outrage across the continent over reports of the discovery of mass graves and of civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha following the retreat of Russian soldiers, conducting what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.

“It is obvious that war crimes have been committed,” Linde said.

The Kremlin denies any accusations related to the murder of civilians, including in Bucha.

Japan’s top envoy brings back 20 Ukrainians from Poland

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi returned from Poland on Tuesday with 20 Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s ongoing war on their country as Tokyo seeks to play a greater role in international support for Ukraine.

During three days in Poland, Hayashi visited facilities for Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw and held talks with Polish officials, international humanitarian organizations and civil groups to assess how Japan can provide support. He said the visit “renewed my resolve” that Japan should “cooperate with international society and provide the utmost assistance.”

Japan has an extremely strict refugee policy and has been reluctant to fully accept migrant workers, making its offer to accept Ukrainians unusual. However, the government has carefully called them evacuees and it is still unclear if the Ukrainian situation will change its immigration policy.

Tokyo expects the 20 evacuees will stay in Japan for at least six months, and will provide further support if needed, said Deputy Justice Minister Jun Tsushima, who was traveling with Hayashi. Tokyo has previously accepted about 300 other Ukrainians, all relatives of about 2,000 Ukrainian residents in Japan who arrived on their own since the Russian invasion began.

Russia vows ‘appropriate response’ to Italy’s expulsion of diplomats, TASS reports

Russia has vowed to give an “appropriate response” to Italy’s expulsion of 30 of its diplomats on Tuesday, according Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

“Russia will give an appropriate response to the expulsion of [diplomats] from Italy,” the agency quoted official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova as saying.

Italy moved to expel the Russian diplomats because of security concerns, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

European Commission chief to visit Kyiv, meet with Zelenskyy this week

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is set to visit Kyiv this week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, her spokesperson Eric Mamer tweeted on Tuesday.

Von der Leyen will visit the Ukrainian capital with the commission’s Vice-President Josep Borrell.

The meeting will take place ahead of a “#StandUpforUkraine” campaign in Warsaw, Poland, planned for Saturday. An online rally will also take place concurrent to the event.

The international campaign, organized by Von der Leyen, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and NGO Global Citizen, will go towards humanitarian relief for refugees and those who have been internally displaced in Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict.

Viktoria Mukhina, 33, plants tulips with her daughter Miroslava near an apartment building damaged by Russian shelling in the southern port city of Mariupol on Monday.

Image: A local resident plants tulips near a damaged apartment building in Mariupol
Alexander Ermochenko / Reuters

Zelenskyy says negotiations with Russia still necessary despite events in Bucha

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that the country still needed to negotiate an end to the war, even after the reports of atrocities and attacks on civilians in Bucha and other cities around the capital.

“I think I have no other choice,” he told journalists in a press conference aired on Ukrainian television. “We cannot fight constantly,” he added. “It does not suit us, and we need security guarantees.”

Still, he said, “I think this is a great tragedy in general, because all of us, as I consider myself a part of society, will see even the possibility of negotiations as a challenge.”

He also said “Russia may return,” and the country must prepare for that. Any agreement must include security guarantees from other countries, as well as clear sanctions policies in the event of further aggression after this war ends, he said, echoing comments he’s made in previous weeks.

Zelenskyy on Monday visited Bucha, where he claimed that at least 300 civilians had been killed.

Red Cross says team that was detained trying to reach Mariupol has been released

The International Committee of the Red Cross said a team that was stopped and held by police in Manhush during a bid to reach Mariupol has been released.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ICRC said the team was released on Monday evening after being “held by police” in the nearby town, about 12 miles west of Mariupol. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk had previously said the Red Cross team was being held by “the occupation authorities,” according to Reuters.

The ICRC said the team would return its focus to “continuing the humanitarian evacuation operation.”

The group has been trying to reach Mariupol since Friday to help the trapped residents of the besieged city. However, Vereshchuk said that despite Russia’s agreement to open humanitarian corridors, Russian forces have been blocking those trying to reach Mariupol to help facilitate evacuations and provide aid.

The ICRC said Monday’s incident showed just how “volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been.”

U.N. General Assembly could vote on Russia suspension from Human Rights Council this week

The United Nations General Assembly could vote on whether to suspend Russia from its Human Rights Council as early as Thursday, according to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

The U.S.-led proposal is set to be introduced to the Security Council on Tuesday, and may reach the General Assembly “as soon as possible — this week, and possibly as early as Thursday,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin on Monday.

“It’s more than symbolic, and it does have force because it continues what we have started, and that is to isolate Russia and to call them out for what they’re doing,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

She added that the U.S. will continue to “look at every option we have on the table to call Russia out, to isolate Russia, to unify the world against Russia.”

Russia is one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and wields the right to veto its resolutions.

The push for a vote to see the country suspended from the Human Rights Council comes after Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of killing and torturing hundreds of civilians in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

Six killed in Kharkiv region by latest attacks, official says

At least six people died in the Kharkiv region after Russian forces were accused of firing a range of weapons at the city of Kharkiv and surrounding areas, the head of the regional state administration said.

“Over the past day, the occupiers [launched] 54 strikes from various types of long-range weapons,” Oleh Synegubov said Tuesday in a Telegram post. He said the attacks were deployed over a span of 24 hours.

NBC News was unable to independently verify the claim or the reported death toll.

Synegubov said a number of districts were affected, including Saltivka, Oleksiyivka, Kholodna Hora, Derhachi and Chuguiv.

A car displaying a white flag to suggest civilian occupants, is riddled with shrapnel holes on a street in Bucha on Monday.

Russian attacks on Ukraine
Diego Herrera Carcedo/ / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Chernihiv cut off from heat supply after heavy fighting, official says

Residents in Chernihiv have been left without access to heat due to “damage to critical infrastructure” during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces, the head of the local regional state administration has said.

In a Telegram post Tuesday, Vyacheslav Chaus said electricity, water and gas supply were “partially working.” However, he said there was “no heat supply.” Temperatures in the region hovered just below 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), with warmer but still cool weather expected this week.

It comes as Russian troops have reportedly pulled out of areas around Chernihiv and Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Britain’s defense ministry said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces had retaken key terrain in the north of Ukraine. However, it said low-level fighting was likely to continue in some parts of the newly recaptured region. 

Chaus said dozens of people have died in the Chernihiv region “as a result of fires provoked by Russian shelling.”

Seven humanitarian corridors to open Tuesday, Ukraine says

Seven humanitarian corridors to evacuate residents from cities in the south and east of Ukraine were set to open Tuesday, the country’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said in a message posted on Telegram.

The besieged southern port city of Mariupol was included in the list, with residents scheduled to go to Zaporizhzhia in their own vehicles rather than buses. However, safe routes out of the city have come under fire or been blocked in recent weeks making evacuations difficult or impossible, and Vereshchuk offered little reason for hope Tuesday.

“Despite the promises of its leadership, the occupying forces do not allow anyone to travel to Mariupol,” she wrote on the Telegram post.

Seven buses were planned to help evacuate residents of Manhush, just east of Mariupol. Russian forces blocked Red Cross representatives on Monday, according to Vereshchuk.

“After negotiations, they were released at night and sent to Zaporizhia,” Vereshchuk said.

Tanya Nedashkivs’ka, 57, mourns the death of her husband, killed in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

Ukrainian forces have retaken key terrain in the north, U.K. says

Ukrainian forces have retaken key terrain in the north of Ukraine, according to Britain’s defense ministry.

It comes after soldiers forced Russian forces to retreat from areas around the city of Chernihiv and around the capital, Kyiv, the ministry said Tuesday in its latest intelligence report.

The ministry said that low-level fighting is “likely to continue” in parts of the recaptured regions, but is expected to “diminish significantly over this week” as Russian forces continue to withdraw.

It added that many Russian army units withdrawing from northern Ukraine are “likely to require significant re-equipping and refurbishment before being available to redeploy for operations in eastern Ukraine.” 

Zelenskyy to address U.N. Security Council

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday as Russia faces mounting pressure over alleged atrocities in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv.

Zelenskyy is set to address the council at at around 10 a.m. following a visit to Bucha, where he has said as many as 300 people were killed or tortured by Russian forces before they withdrew from the Kyiv suburb.

In a tweet Monday, the U.K. Mission to the United Nations said the U.K. Presidency of the Council would “ensure the truth is heard about Russia’s war crimes.”

“We will expose Putin’s war for what it really is,” it said.