UN chief to meet Ukraine’s Zelensky, visit Bucha and Irpin

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday in Kyiv following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Guterres is set to visit Bucha and Irpin, in the Kyiv region, where Russian atrocities are alleged to have occurred. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest. All times are in Paris time [GMT+2].

7:24am: Russia’s Black Sea fleet retains ability to strike Ukraine: UK

Russia’s Black Sea fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets, despite the loss of its landing ship Saratov and the cruiser Moskva, according to Britain’s defence ministry.

About 20 Russian Navy vessels, including submarines, are in the Black Sea operational zone, the ministry said on Twitter..

“The Bosphorus Strait remains closed to all non-Turkish warships, rendering Russia unable to replace its lost cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea,” it added in the regular bulletin.

7:11am: Guterres arrives in Ukraine to try to ‘secure evacuations’

Following his trip to Moscow earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has arrived in Ukraine, where he is expected to push for humanitarian corridors and work on coordinated approach to try to evacuate Ukrainian fighters and civilians sheltering in Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steel plant.

In a tweet shortly after he arrived, Guterres said his team would “continue our work to expand humanitarian support” to Ukraine and “secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones”.


3:30am: The EU responds to Russia cutting off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

The European Union warned Russia on Wednesday it would not bend to “blackmail” over its support for Kyiv, after the Kremlin cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland.

Dave Keating reports from Brussels


1:15am: Canada lawmakers vote unanimously to label Russia’s acts in Ukraine as ‘genocide’

Canadian lawmakers voted unanimously on Wednesday to call Russia’s attacks in Ukraine a “genocide”, with members of parliament saying there was “ample evidence of systemic and massive war crimes against humanity” being committed by Moscow.

The Canadian House of Commons’ motion said war crimes by Russia include mass atrocities, systematic instances of willful killing of Ukrainian civilians, the desecration of corpses, forcible transfer of Ukrainian children, torture, physical harm, mental harm, and rape.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was “absolutely right” for more and more people to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, supporting an accusation made by US President Joe Biden a day earlier.

12:20am: At UN, Amal Clooney pushes for Ukraine war crimes justice

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney urged countries at the United Nations on Wednesday to focus on international justice for war crimes in Ukraine so evidence does not sit in storage – as it has done for victims of Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.

“Ukraine is, today, a slaughterhouse. Right in the heart of Europe,” Clooney told an informal UN Security Council meeting on accountability in Ukraine, organized by France and Albania.

Clooney recalled a 2017 Security Council vote to approve a measure she helped lobby for – the creation of a UN team to collect, preserve and store evidence of possible international crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq. It was the same year her son and daughter with US actor George Clooney were born.

“My children are now almost 5, and so far most of the evidence collected by the UN is in storage – because there is no international court to put ISIS on trial,” she said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), which handles war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression, has no jurisdiction because Iraq and Syria are not members.

Clooney is part of an international legal task force advising Ukraine on securing accountability for Ukrainian victims in national jurisdictions and working with the Hague-based ICC.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation into Ukraine a week after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

11:40pm: ‘Ramp up’ military production to help Ukraine, urges UK foreign minister

Ukraine’s fate is hanging in the balance and its allies must brace for the long haul and “ramp up” military production including tanks and planes to help, Britain’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also warned that China must play by international rules or be punished and that it was vital to send the right message to “aggressors” watching closely the response to Russia’s invasion.

“We cannot be complacent — the fate of Ukraine remains in the balance,” she told diplomats and business leaders in London, deploying the “failure” of global security structures that should have prevented the war.

A victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin would have “terrible consequences across the globe”, and more, heavier, weapons should be sent to Ukraine despite the risk of escalating the conflict.

“We must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine.

“Heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes — digging deep into our inventories, ramping up production. We need to do all of this.

“Inaction would be the greatest provocation.”

10:44pm: Ukraine war ‘screams’ need to reject Russian energy, says US

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says Russia’s war on Ukraine “screams” that the world needs to stop importing oil and gas from Russia and instead move toward other forms of energy.

At an international forum on offshore wind energy in Atlantic City, Granholm said the US as well as its energy industries “are on a war footing”. She called for a rapid acceleration of renewable energy including offshore wind power.

Her comments were echoed by Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for energy, who noted that Europe recently committed itself to a large-scale move away from Russian fossil fuel imports, and considers wind energy an important part of that transition.

9:48pm: EU to suspend tariffs on Ukraine imports for one year

The European Commission has proposed a one-year suspension of import duties on all Ukrainian goods not covered by an existing free trade deal to help the country’s economy.

The measures will apply in particular to fruit and vegetables, subject to minimum price requirements, agricultural products facing quotas, and certain industrial goods, tariffs on which were only due to be phased out by the end of 2022.

8:57pm: Guterres announces arrival in Kyiv

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced his arrival in Kyiv earlier on, following talks in Moscow with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support and secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world,” the UN chief tweeted, ahead of talks with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.

At the Moscow talks on Tuesday, Guterres repeated calls for both Russia and Ukraine to work together to set up “safe and effective” humanitarian corridors in war-torn Ukraine.


6:52pm: Transnistria says shots fired at village housing Russian arms depot

The interior ministry of Transnistria, a Moscow-backed separatist region of Moldova bordering Ukraine, says shots were fired at a village housing a Russian arms depot after drones flew over from Ukraine.

This comes after the unrecognised region reported a series of explosions that it called “terrorist attacks”, raising fears of a spillover from the war in Ukraine.

“Last night, several drones were noticed in the sky over the village of Kolbasna,” the Transnistrian interior ministry said on its website. “The drones were launched onto the territory of Transnistria from Ukraine.”

Kolbasna, known as Cobasna in Romanian, is located around 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) from the Ukrainian border. It houses a stockpile of some 20,000 tonnes of munitions that date back to the Soviet era, guarded by Russian troops.

The region has reported explosions on Monday and Tuesday hitting the security ministry, a military unit and a Russian-owned radio tower.

5:57pm: Ploughing Ukraine’s fields in bulletproof vests and helmets

Agriculture is a vital sector in a country sometimes referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe”. But farming in areas near the frontline has become a high-risk profession.

FRANCE 24’s Sam Ball has this video report on farmers ploughing fields in the Zaporizhzhia region, in bulletproof vests and helmets.

Yuri, a farmer in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region, wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.
Yuri, a farmer in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest. © Reuters

5:25pm: Putin warns of ‘lightening response’ to Ukraine interference

The Russian president has threatened a quick-fire military response if any other country intervenes in Ukraine.

Speaking to lawmakers, Putin said that “if anyone sets out to intervene in the current events from the outside and creates unacceptable threats for us that are strategic in nature, they should know that our response… will be lightning-fast”.

The Russian leader said that the military would not hesitate to use the most modern weaponry.

“We have all the tools for this, that no one else can boast of having. We won’t boast about it: we’ll use them, if needed. And I want everyone to know that,” Putin said.

Putin has frequently touted Russia’s development of modern weaponry, including hypersonic missiles and the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile that was successfully tested earlier this month.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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