The conflict in Ukraine has “sounded an alarm for humanity,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Wednesday, as China continues to assume a position of neutrality while backing its ally Russia. China has refused to criticize Russia’s war in Ukraine or even to refer to it as an invasion in deference to Moscow, while also condemning U.S.-led sanctions against Russia and accusing the West of provoking Moscow. “The Ukraine crisis has again sounded the alarm for humanity. Countries will surely end up in security hardships if they place blind faith in their positions of strength, expand military alliances, and seek their own safety at the expense of others,” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying. Xi, who did not propose any solutions, was speaking at the opening of a virtual business forum of the “BRICS” countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. In other comments, Xi said imposing sanctions could act as a “boomerang” and a “double-edged sword,” and that the global community would suffer from “politicizing, mechanizing and weaponizing” global economic trends and financial flows. Also Read: Ukraine and rising global insecurity, test for all: UN rights chief Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro maintained an unusual diplomatic tone in his brief recorded speech to the forum, exalting his administration’s results without naming any other country. “The current international context is a cause for concern because of the risks to trade and investment flows to the stability of energy supply chains and investment,” he said. “Brazil’s response to these challenges is not to close itself off. On the contrary, we have sought to deepen our economic integration.” Xi also said China would seek to reduce the damage to international supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which it has confronted with a hard-line policy of lockdowns and quarantines, despite a diminishing number of cases and the increasing economic cost. China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy and drive to dominate global markets have prompted a backlash in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, including calls to replace Chinese suppliers and reduce reliance on the Chinese economy. Xi called for nations to work together on such issues, saying efforts to “build a small courtyard with high walls” was in no one’s interest. “Economic globalization is an objective requirement for the development of productive forces and an irresistible historical trend,” Xi said. “Going backwards in history and trying to block other people’s road will only block your own road in the end,” he said.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor disclosed plans Wednesday for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier, as fighting raged in the east and south and the Kremlin left open the possibility of annexing a corner of the country it seized early in the invasion. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said her office charged Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, in the killing of an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was gunned down while riding a bicycle in February, four days into the war. Shyshimarin, who served with a tank unit, was accused of firing through a car window on the man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. Venediktova said the soldier could get up to 15 years in prison. She did not say when the trial would start. Venediktova’s office has said it has been investigating more than 10,700 alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces and has identified over 600 suspects. Many of the alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow’s forces aborted their bid to capture Kyiv and withdrew from around the capital, exposing mass graves and streets and yards strewn with bodies in towns such as Bucha. Residents told of killings, burnings, rape, torture and dismemberment. Also Read: Russia pummels vital port of Odesa targeting supply lines Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Center for Civil Liberties said the Ukrainian human rights group will be closely following Shyshimarin’s trial to see if it is fair. “It’s very difficult to observe all the rules, norms and neutrality of the court proceedings in wartime,” he said. On the economic front, Ukraine shut down a pipeline that carries Russian gas across the country to homes and industries in Western Europe, marking the first time since the start of the war that Kyiv disrupted the flow westward of one of Moscow’s most lucrative exports. But the immediate effect is likely to be limited, in part because Russia can divert the gas to another pipeline and because Europe relies on a variety of suppliers. Meanwhile, a Kremlin-installed politician in the southern Kherson region, site of the first major Ukrainian city to fall in the war, said officials there want Russian President Vladimir Putin to make Kherson a “proper region” of Russia — that is, annex it. “The city of Kherson is Russia,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kherson regional administration appointed by Moscow, told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. That raised the possibility that the Kremlin would seek to break off another piece of Ukraine as it tries to salvage an invasion gone awry. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which borders the Kherson region, after a disputed referendum in 2014, a move denounced as illegal and rejected by most of the international community. Kherson, a Black Sea port of roughly 300,000, provides Crimea with access to fresh water and is seen as gateway to wider Russian control over southern Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be “up to the residents of the Kherson region after all to decide whether such an appeal should be made or not.” He said any move to annex territory would have to be closely evaluated by legal experts to make sure it is “absolutely legitimate, as it was with Crimea.” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak mocked the notion of Kherson’s annexation, tweeting: “The invaders may ask to join even Mars or Jupiter. The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson, no matter what games with words they play.” Inside Kherson, people have taken to the streets to decry the Russian occupation. But a teacher who gave only her first name, Olga, for fear of Russian retaliation said such protests are impossible now because Moscow’s troops “kidnapped activists and citizens simply for wearing Ukrainian colors or ribbons.” She said “people are scared of talking openly outside their homes” and “everyone walks on the street quickly.” “All people in Kherson are waiting for our troops to come as soon as possible,” she added. “Nobody wants to live in Russia or join Russia.” On the battlefield, Ukrainian officials said a Russian rocket attack targeted an area around Zaporizhzhia, destroying unspecified infrastructure. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The southeastern city has been a refuge for civilians fleeing the devastated port city of Mariupol. Russian forces continued to pound the steel plant that is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, its defenders said. The Azov Regiment said on social media that Russian forces carried out 38 airstrikes in the previous 24 hours on the grounds of the Azovstal steelworks. The plant has sheltered hundreds of Ukrainian troops and civilians during a monthslong siege. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Ukraine has offered to release Russian prisoners of war if Russia will allow the badly injured fighters to be evacuated. An adviser to the Mariupol mayor said Russian forces have blocked all evacuation routes out of the city. Petro Andriushchenko said there are few apartment buildings fit to live in and little food or drinking water. He said some remaining residents are cooperating with occupying Russian forces in exchange for food. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested Tuesday that Ukraine’s military is gradually pushing Russian troops away from Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city and a key to Russia’s offensive in the Donbas, the eastern industrial region whose capture the Kremlin says is its main objective. Ukraine is also targeting Russian air defenses and resupply vessels on Snake Island in the Black Sea in an effort to disrupt Moscow’s efforts to expand its control over the coastline, according to the British Ministry of Defense. Separately, Ukraine said it shot down a cruise missile targeting the Black Sea port city of Odesa. Elsewhere, the governor of a Russian region near Ukraine said at least one civilian was killed and six wounded by Ukrainian shelling in the village of Solokhi, near the border. Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov’s account couldn’t be independently verified, but he said the village will be evacuated. Ukraine’s natural gas pipeline operator said it moved to stop the flow of Russian gas through a compressor station in part of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists because enemy forces were interfering with the station’s operation and siphoning off gas. The hub handles about one-third of Russian gas passing through Ukraine to Western Europe. But analysts said much of the gas can be redirected through another pipeline from Russia that crosses Ukraine, and there were indications that was happening. In any case, Europe also gets natural gas from other pipelines and other countries. It was not clear whether Russia would take any immediate hit, since it has long-term contracts and other ways of transporting gas. Still, the cutoff underscored the broader risk to gas supplies from the war. “Yesterday’s decision is a small preview of what might happen if gas installations are hit by live fire and face the risk of extended downtimes,” said gas analyst Zongqiang Luo at Rystad Energy. In other developments, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain and trying to sell it on global markets. The ministry estimates Russia may have already stolen up to 500,000 metric tons of grain valued at more than $100 million. And U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said a ban on sales of semiconductors and other technology to Russia by the West is limiting Russia’s ability to manufacture military equipment. Ukrainians who have found Russian equipment reported that it was “filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators,” Raimondo said.
Viktor appeared nervous as masked Ukrainian security officers in full riot gear, camouflage and weapons pushed into his cluttered apartment in the northern city of Kharkiv. His hands trembled and he tried to cover his face. The middle-aged man came to the attention of Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU, after what authorities said were his social media posts praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for “fighting with the Nazis,” calling for regions to secede and labeling the national flag “a symbol of death.” “Yes, I supported (the Russian invasion of Ukraine) a lot. I’m sorry. … I have already changed my mind,” said Viktor, his trembling voice showing clear signs of duress in the presence of the Ukrainian security officers. “Get your things and get dressed,” an officer said before escorting him out of the apartment. The SBU did not reveal Viktor’s last name, citing their investigation. Viktor was one of nearly 400 people in the Kharkiv region alone who have been detained under anti-collaboration laws enacted quickly by Ukraine’s parliament and signed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. Also read: Explosions rock Kyiv again as Russians rain fire on Ukraine Offenders face up to 15 years in prison for collaborating with Russian forces, making public denials about Russian aggression or supporting Moscow. Anyone whose actions result in deaths could face life in prison. “Accountability for collaboration is inevitable, and whether it will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow is another question,” Zelenskyy said. “The most important thing is that justice will be served inevitably.” Although the Zelenskyy government has broad support, even among many Russian speakers, not all Ukrainians oppose the invasion. Support for Moscow is more common among some Russian-speaking residents of the Donbas, an industrial region in the east. An eight-year conflict there between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces had killed over 14,000 people even before this year’s invasion. Also read: Allies must ‘double down’ and send Ukraine tanks, jets: UK Some businessmen, civic and state officials and members of the military are among those who have gone over to the Russian side, and Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations said more than 200 criminal cases on collaboration have been opened. Zelenskyy has even stripped two SBU generals of their rank, accusing them of treason. A “registry of collaborators” is being compiled and will be released to the public, said Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s Security Council. He refused to say how many people were targeted nationwide. Under martial law, authorities have banned 11 pro-Russian political parties, including the largest one that had 25 seats in the 450-member parliament – the Opposition Platform For Life, which was founded by Viktor Medvedchuk, a jailed oligarch with close ties to Putin. Authorities say pro-Russian activists in southeastern Ukraine, the scene of active fighting, are acting as spotters to direct shelling. “One of our key goals is to have no one stab our armed forces in the back,” said Roman Dudin, head of the Kharkiv branch of the SBU, in an interview with The Associated Press. He spoke in a dark basement where the SBU moved its operations after its building in central Kharkiv was shelled. The Kharkiv branch has been detaining people who support the invasion, call for secession and claim that Ukrainian forces are shelling their own cities. Allegations of collaborating with the enemy carry strong historic resonance in Ukraine. During World War II, some in the region welcomed and even cooperated with invading forces from Nazi Germany after years of Stalinist repression that included the “Holodomor” – a man-made famine believed to have killed more than 3 million Ukrainians. For years afterward, Soviet authorities cited the cooperation of some Ukrainian nationalists with the Nazis as a reason to demonize today’s democratically elected leaders of Ukraine. Human rights advocates know of “dozens” of detentions of pro-Russian activists in Kyiv alone since the new laws were passed, but how many have been targeted nationwide is unclear, said Volodymyr Yavorskyy, coordinator at the Center for Civil Liberties, one of Ukraine’s largest human rights groups. “There is no complete data on the (entire) country, since it is all classified by the SBU,” Yavorskyy told AP. “Ukrainian authorities are actively using the practice of Western countries, in particular the U.K., which imposed harsh restrictions on civic liberties in warring Northern Ireland. Some of those restrictions were deemed unjustified by human rights advocates, but others were justified, when people’s lives were in danger,” he said. A person in Ukraine can be detained for up to 30 days without a court order, he said, and antiterrorism legislation under martial law allows authorities not to tell defense attorneys about their clients being remanded. “In effect, these people disappear, and for 30 days there’s no access to them,” Yavorskyy said. “In reality, (law enforcement) has powers to take anyone.” The government knows the implications of detaining people over their opinions, including that it risks playing into Moscow’s line that Kyiv is repressing Russian speakers. But in wartime, officials say, freedom of speech is only part of the equation. “The debate about the balance of national security and ensuring freedom of speech is endless,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told AP. Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights office, said her agency has documented “cases of arrests and detention allegedly made by Ukrainian law enforcement authorities, which may involve elements of human rights violations” and is following up with the Ukrainian government. She said her office is looking into eight cases that “appear to be disappearances of people considered as ‘pro-Russian,’ and we have documented two cases of unlawful killings of ‘pro-Russians,’” along with cases of vigilantism, in which law enforcement and others punish those suspected of being pro-Russian, In the town of Bucha, now a symbol of horrific violence in the war, Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said collaborators gave invading troops the names and addresses of pro-Ukrainian activists and officials in the city outside Kyiv, with hundreds of civilians shot to death with their hands tied behind their backs or their bodies burned by Russian forces. “I saw these execution lists, dictated by the traitors -– the Russians knew in advance who they’re going to, at what address, and who lives there,” said Fedoruk, who saw his own name on one list. “Of course, Ukrainian authorities will search for and punish these people.” In the besieged port city of Mariupol, officials accused collaborators of helping the Russians cut off electricity, running water, gas and communications in much of the city. “Now I understand perfectly why the Russians were carrying out such precise, coordinated strikes on objects of critical infrastructure, knew about all locations and even times when Ukrainian buses evacuating refugees were supposed to depart,” said Mayor Vadym Boychenko. Political analysts say the invasion and the brutality by Russian troops against civilians have turned off many Moscow sympathizers. Still, many such supporters remain. “Russian propaganda took deep roots and many residents of the east who watch Russian TV channels believe absurd claims that it’s Ukrainians who are shelling them and other myths,” Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta Center think tank told AP. “Naturally, Ukrainian authorities in the southeast are afraid of getting stabbed in the back and are forced to tighten security measures.” Unlike Viktor, whose Kharkiv apartment was raided, 86-year-old Volodymir Radnenko didn’t seem surprised when Ukrainian security arrived to search his flat Saturday after detaining his son, Ihor. The military said the son was suspected of helping the Russians in shelling of the city — some of which occurred in Radnenko’s neighborhood about 15 minutes before the officers showed up, with the smell of smoke lingering. At least two people were killed and 19 others wounded in the region. “He is used to thinking that Russia is all there is,” Radnenko told AP after the officers left. “I ask him: ’So who is shelling us? It’s not our (people), it’s your fascists.’ And he only gets angry at that.”
Heavy fighting raged on the outskirts of Kyiv and other zones Thursday amid indications the Kremlin is using talk of de-escalation as cover while regrouping and resupplying its forces and redeploying them for a stepped-up offensive in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an early morning video address that Ukraine is seeing “a buildup of Russian forces for new strikes on the Donbas, and we are preparing for that.” Meanwhile, a convoy of buses headed to Mariupol in another bid to evacuate people from the besieged port city after the Russian military agreed to a limited cease-fire in the area. And a new round of talks aimed at stopping the fighting was scheduled for Friday. The Red Cross said its teams were headed for Mariupol with relief and medical supplies and hoped to help pull civilians out of the beleaguered city. Tens of thousands have managed to get out in the past few weeks by way of humanitarian corridors, reducing the city’s population from a prewar 430,000 to an estimated 100,000, but other efforts have been thwarted by continued Russian attacks. Read: Convoy heads to Ukraine’s Mariupol to attempt evacuation At the same time, Russian forces shelled suburbs of the capital that Ukraine recently retook control of, a regional official said, two days after the Kremlin announced it would significantly scale back operations near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.” Britain’s Defense Ministry also confirmed “significant Russian shelling and missile strikes” around Chernihiv. The area’s governor, Viacheslav Chaus, said Russian troops were on the move but may not be withdrawing. Russia’s Defense Ministry also reported new strikes on Ukrainian fuel stores late Wednesday, and Ukrainian officials said there were artillery barrages in and around the northeastern city of Kharkiv over the past day. Despite the fighting raging in those areas, the Russian military said it committed to a cease-fire along the route from Mariupol to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 45 buses would be sent to collect civilians who have suffered some of the worst privations of the war. Food, water and medical supplies have all run low during a weekslong blockade and bombardment of the city. Civilians who have managed to leave have typically done so using private cars, but the number of drivable vehicles left in the city has dwindled and fuel is low. “It’s desperately important that this operation takes place,” the Red Cross said in a statement. “The lives of tens of thousands of people in Mariupol depend on it.”
A convoy of buses headed to Mariupol on Thursday in another attempt to evacuate people from the besieged port city, while Russia pressed its attacks in several parts of Ukraine ahead of a planned new round of talks aimed at ending the fighting. After the Russian military agreed to a limited cease-fire in the area, the Red Cross said its teams were traveling to Mariupol with relief and medical supplies and hoped to help pull civilians out of the beleaguered city on Friday. Previous attempts at establishing a similar humanitarian corridor have fallen apart. Russian forces, meanwhile, shelled suburbs of the capital that Ukraine recently retook control of, a regional official said. New attacks in the area where Moscow had promised to de-escalate further undermined hopes of a resolution to end the war on the eve of a new round of talks. A day earlier, Ukrainian officials reported that Russian shelling on the outskirts of Kyiv and around another city where it had vowed to ease up. Russia’s Defense Ministry also reported new strikes on Ukrainian fuel stores late Wednesday, and Ukrainian officials said there were artillery barrages in and around the northeastern city of Kharkiv over the past day. Despite the fighting raging in those areas, the Russian military said it committed to a cease-fire along the route from Mariupol to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia from Thursday morning. Read: Ukrainians in US mobilize to help 100,000 expected refugees Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 45 buses would be sent to collect civilians who have suffered some of the worst deprivations of the war. Food, water and medical supplies have all run low during a weekslong blockade and bombardment of the city. Civilians who have managed to leave have typically done so using private cars, but the number of drivable vehicles left in the city has also dwindled and fuel stocks are low. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is helping run the evacuation, said its teams have already left for Mariupol. “It’s desperately important that this operation takes place,” the Red Cross said in a statement. “The lives of tens of thousands of people in Mariupol depend on it.” As the new evacuation attempt was announced, evidence emerged that a Red Cross warehouse in the city had been struck earlier this month amid intense Russian shelling of the area. In satellite pictures from Planet Labs PBC, holes can be seen in the warehouse’s roof, along with a painted red cross on a white background. The aid organization said no staff have been at the site since March 15. Talks between Ukraine and Russia were set to resume Friday by video, according to the head of the Ukrainian delegation, David Arakhamia, six weeks into a bloody war that has seen thousands die and a staggering 4 million Ukrainians flee the country. But there seemed little faith that the two sides would resolve the conflict soon, particularly after the Russian military’s about-face and its most recent attacks. Russia had promised during talks in Istanbul this week that it would de-escalate operations near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the West were skeptical. Soon after, Ukrainian officials reported that Russian shelling was hitting homes, stores, libraries and other civilian sites in or near those areas. Britain’s Defense Ministry also confirmed “significant Russian shelling and missile strikes” around Chernihiv.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Monday told Parliament that the Russia-Ukraine crisis does not right now threaten the country’s macroeconomic stability, even though it generally affects the economy. "The Russia-Ukraine military crisis is going to hit Bangladesh's economy in the short and medium terms. What will be its impact in the long run depends how long the war and the evolving crisis prolong,” he said replying to a question from Awami League MP Shafiul Islam (Dhaka-10). Earlier in the afternoon the 17th session of the House opened with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair. READ: NBR works for win-win tax in upcoming budget: Finance Minister “At this moment, it seems that the crisis will have an impact on the economy of Bangladesh, but it will not put the stability of the country's macro-economy at a great risk,” the finance minister said in his scripted answer. He said Russia's military operation in Ukraine and the economic sanctions imposed by the western countries on Russia and its ally Belarus will have an adverse impact on the global economy. Mustafa Kamal said the crisis has destabilised the furnace oil and natural gas markets. “The Russia-Ukraine crisis has affected Bangladesh as well,” he added. He said the ongoing military crisis and sanctions would inevitably lead to a rise in prices of natural gas, crude oil, fertilisers, wheat, nickel, aluminum and important raw materials for electrical products and related finished goods. He said this price-hike will definitely push up global inflation. The rise in oil and gas prices could lead to higher inflation in the country as food, consumer goods, industrial raw materials and international transport costs increase, he went on. This crisis could also complicate payments for Bangladesh's garment exports to Russia, said the finance minister.
About 300 people died in a Russian airstrike last week on a theater being used as a bomb shelter in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city’s government said Friday, citing eyewitnesses. When the theater was struck March 16, an enormous inscription reading “CHILDREN” was posted outside in Russian, intended to be visible from the skies above. It was not immediately clear whether emergency workers had finished excavating the site or how the eyewitnesses arrived at the horrific death toll. Soon after the airstrike, Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights commissioner, said more than 1,300 people had been sheltering in the building. Mariupol has been the scene of some of the worst devastation of the war, which has seen Russia relentlessly besiege and pummel Ukraine’s cities. The misery inside them is such that nearly anyone who can is trying to leave and those left behind face desperate food shortages in a country once known as the breadbasket for the world. In the shelled city of Kharkiv, mostly elderly women came to collect food and other urgent supplies. In the capital of Kyiv, ashes of the dead are piling up at the main crematorium because so many relatives have left, leaving urns unclaimed. For civilians unable to join the flood of refugees from Ukraine, the days of plenty in the country are becoming just a fading memory, as the war grinds into a second month. With Ukrainian soldiers battling Russia’s invasion force to a near stalemate in many places and the president urging people to remain steadfast, the U.S. and the European Union announced a move to further squeeze Russia: a new partnership to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and slowly squeeze off the billions of dollars the Kremlin gets from sales of fossil fuels. In Ukraine, the war for hungry civilians is increasingly being counted in precious portions of food, and block of cheese now goes a very long way. Read: Ukraine refugees’ hopes of return wane after a month of war Fidgeting with anticipation, a young girl in Kharkiv watched intently this week as a volunteer’s knife cut through a giant slab of cheese, carving out thick slices — one for each hungry person waiting stoically in line. Hanna Spitsyna took charge of divvying up the delivery of food aid from the Ukrainian Red Cross, handing it out to her neighbors. Each got a lump of the cheese that was cut under the child’s watchful gaze, dropped chunk by chunk into plastic bags that people in line held open like hungry mouths. “They brought us aid, brought us aid for the elderly women that stayed here,” Spitsyna said. “All these people need diapers, swaddle blankets and food.” Unable to sweep with lightning-quick speed into Kyiv, their apparent aim on Feb. 24 when the Kremlin launched the war, Russian forces are instead raining down shells and missiles on cities from afar. The outskirts of Kharkiv were shrouded by foggy smoke Friday, with shelling constant since early in the morning. In a city hospital, several wounded soldiers arrived, with bullet and shrapnel wounds, a day after doctors treated a dozen civilians. Even as doctors stabilized the direst case, the sound of shelling could be heard in the surgery ward. Russia’s military claimed Friday that it destroyed a massive Ukrainian fuel base used to supply the Kyiv region’s defenses, with ships firing a salvo of cruise missiles, according to the Interfax news agency. Videos on social media showed an enormous fireball explosion near the capital. For civilians, the misery has become unrelenting. Kyiv, like other cities, has seen its population dramatically reduced in the vast refugee crisis that has seen more than 10 million displaced and at least 3.5 million fleeing the country entirely. In the capital, over 260 civilians have died and more than 80 buildings been destroyed since the start of the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged his country to keep up its military defense and not stop “even for a minute.” Zelenskyy used his nightly video address on Thursday to rally Ukrainians to “move toward peace, move forward.” “With every day of our defense, we are getting closer to the peace that we need so much. … We can’t stop even for a minute, for every minute determines our fate, our future, whether we will live.” He said thousands of people, including 128 children, died in the first month of the war. Across the country, 230 schools and 155 kindergartens have been destroyed. Cities and villages “lie in ashes,” he said. At an emergency NATO summit in Brussels Thursday, Zelenskyy pleaded with the Western allies via video for planes, tanks, rockets, air defense systems and other weapons, saying his country is “defending our common values.” In a video address to EU leaders, meanwhile, Zelenskyy thanked them for working together to support Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia, including Germany’s decision to block Russia from delivering natural gas to Europe through the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline. But he lamented that these steps were not taken earlier, saying there was a chance Russia would have thought twice about invading. While millions of Ukrainians have fled west, Ukraine accused Moscow of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered cities to Russia to pressure Kyiv to give up. Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will into Russia, where some may be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to surrender. Read: UN to vote on blaming Russia for Ukraine humanitarian crisis The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated, but said they were from predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and wanted to go to Russia. Pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting for control for nearly eight years in those regions, where many people have supported close ties to Russia. In other developments: —In Chernihiv, where an airstrike this week destroyed a crucial bridge, a city official, Olexander Lomako, said a “humanitarian catastrophe” is unfolding as Russian forces target food storage places. He said about 130,000 people are left in the besieged city, about half its prewar population. —Russia said it will offer safe passage starting Friday to 67 ships from 15 foreign countries that are stranded in Ukrainian ports because of the danger of shelling and mines. —Russian forces fired two missiles late Thursday at a Ukrainian military unit on the outskirts of Dnipro, the fourth-largest city in the country, the regional emergency services said. The strikes destroyed buildings and set off two fires, it said. The number of dead and wounded was unclear. —With the U.S. and others expanding sanctions on Russia, Moscow sent a signal that the measures have not brought it to its knees, reopening its stock market but only allowing limited trading to prevent mass sell-offs. Foreigners were barred from selling, and traders were prohibited from short selling, or betting prices would fall. — The International Atomic Energy Agency said it has been told by Ukrainian authorities that Russian shelling is preventing worker rotations in and out of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. It said Russian forces have shelled Ukrainian checkpoints in the city of Slavutych, home to many Chernobyl nuclear workers, “putting them at risk and preventing further rotation of personnel to and from the site.” Meanwhile, Kyiv and Moscow gave conflicting accounts about the people being relocated to Russia and whether they were going willingly — as Russia claimed — or were being coerced or lied to. Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said the roughly 400,000 people evacuated to Russia were being provided with accommodations and payments and had voluntarily left eastern Ukraine. But Donetsk Region Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said that “people are being forcibly moved into the territory of the aggressor state.” Among those taken, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry charged, were 6,000 residents of Mariupol, the devastated port city in the country’s east. Kyrylenko said that Mariupol’s residents have been long deprived of information and that the Russians feed them false claims about Ukraine’s defeats to persuade them to move to Russia. “Russian lies may influence those who have been under the siege,” he said.
As Russia launched its war in Ukraine last month, exhausted and frightened refugees streamed into neighboring countries. They carried whatever they could quickly grab. Many cried. They still do. The United Nations says that more than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the war started exactly one month ago Thursday, in the biggest movement of people in Europe since World War II. Most believed they would soon be back home. That hope is waning now. “At the beginning, we thought that this would end pretty soon,” said Olha Homienko, a 50-year-old woman from Kharkiv. “First of all, nobody could believe Russia would attack us, and we thought that it would end quickly.” Now, Homienko said, “as we can see, there is nothing to look forward to.” Read: West cranks up costs for Russia as war enters second month Homienko’s hometown is among several cities and towns that have been encircled and shelled heavily by the Russians. Refugees coming from besieged towns have told of destruction, death and hunger. Natalia Lutsenko, from the bombed-out northern town of Chernihiv, said she still thought the Russian invasion must be some kind of “misunderstanding.” Lutsenko said she couldn’t see why Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to make Ukrainians suffer so much. “Why is he bombing peaceful homes? Why there are so many victims, blood, and killed children, body parts everywhere?” Lutsenko pleaded. “It is horrible. Sleepless nights. Parents are crying, there are no children any more.” After fleeing her home, Lutsenko came to Medyka, a small town on the border between Ukraine and Poland where refugees have been coming since the start of the invasion.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on people worldwide to gather in public Thursday to show support for his embattled country as U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders met for talks focused on pressuring Russia to end the invasion that is entering its second month. “Come to your squares, your streets. Make yourselves visible and heard,” Zelenskyy said in English during an emotional video address late Wednesday that was recorded in the dark near the presidential offices in Kyiv. “Say that people matter. Freedom matters. Peace matters. Ukraine matters.” International efforts to make Russia pay for its aggression and to contain Europe’s biggest security crisis since World War II shifted their focus to Brussels. The Belgian capital became a flurry of diplomatic activity as Biden and other leaders huddled for a day-long series of talks on the war’s repercussions, including the possibility of more sanctions on Russia, how to deal with soaring energy costs and the growing needs of Ukrainian refugees and the stiffening of defenses in eastern European nations alarmed about Russian aggression. Opening an emergency summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is “determined to continue to impose costs on Russia to bring about the end of this brutal war.” Russia unleashed its invasion Feb. 24 but instead of swiftly toppling Ukraine’s government, its forces are bogged down in a grinding military campaign and its economy is laboring under punishing international sanctions. “This is a month now,” Zelenskyy said Thursday in an address to Sweden’s parliament, the latest of many to whom the Ukrainian leader has pleaded for help. “We have not seen a destruction of this scale since World War II.” After a month of fighting, Western analysts say Ukrainian forces need stocking up again with the weapons that have helped them slow and repel Russian advances. Both sides claimed Thursday to have inflicted more blows. Ukraine’s navy said it sank a ship that had been used to resupply the Russian campaign with armored vehicles. Russia claimed to have taken a town, Izyum, in eastern Ukraine after heavy fighting. But in many areas, Ukrainian forces appear to have battled Russian troops to a stalemate, an outcome that seemed unlikely when Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed his invasion force. Determined to make Putin change course, and under intense pressure from Zelenskyy to do more, Western nations said more help is on the way for Ukraine. European Union nations signed off on another 500 million euros ($550 million) in military aid. And Biden was expected to discuss new sanctions on Russia, along with more military aid for Ukraine, with NATO members. He will also talk with leaders of the G7 industrialized nations and the European Council in a series of meetings on Thursday. Sending a signal that sanctions have not brought it to its knees, Russia reopened its stock market Thursday, but allowed only limited trading. The curbs on a reduced number of stocks including energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft were meant to prevent a repeat of a massive selloff that took place Feb. 24. Foreigners were barred from selling and traders were barred from short selling, or betting prices would fall. The benchmark MOEX index gained 8% in the first minutes of trading.
Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy on Thursday said his country and Bangladesh are working out modalities to keep transactions and trade uninterrupted, avoiding SWIFT system following the Ukraine crisis. He said different options are being considered, including swap of national currencies and usage of third country's banks but did not want to go into the details of this work. The Russian ambassador made the remarks at a press conference at the Russian Club highlighting Bangladesh-Russia economic cooperation and its development. Read:Nordic envoys emphasise importance of democracy with fair elections in Bangladesh The press conference titled "One month of the Russia's special military operation in Ukraine: causes and results. The world of post-truth" covered five key areas - the background of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia's diplomatic efforts aimed at avoiding the conflict, the results of the Russia's special military operation, role of the West in the militarization and Nazification of Ukraine, economic consequences of the conflict and Russia-Bangladesh relations in a new reality. Responding to a question on Bangladesh’s voting at the UNGA on March 2, the Russian envoy said they highly appreciate Bangladesh's "responsible and balanced" attitude towards the resolution. "We express our gratitude to the Bangladeshi side for its neutral position taken despite the enormous external pressure during the said voting," he said. The ambassador said Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen very specifically defined the motives behind Bangladesh's abstention. "So, I have nothing more to add." Rooppur NPP to be implemented as scheduled Responding to a question Mantytskiy said construction of the Rooppur NPP is on schedule and the project will be implemented in accordance with previously approved plans. “All operations are being carried out on schedule.” In 2021, he said, the dome of the inner containment was assembled at Unit 1, the reactor vessel and reactor plant equipment were installed, in February of this year while welding of the reactor coolant pipeline was completed. Deaerator has been installed in the machine room and installation of the polar crane was completed at Unit 2 in November 2021, said the Ambassador, adding that the reactor vessel and steam generators are scheduled to be mounted by the end of the year. Construction of a training centre for the operational personnel of the Rooppur NPP is at its final stage, he said. Active work is currently underway on the installation of the key thermal and mechanical, electrical equipment and process pipelines, said the Russian envoy.