Russia has given its most grim assessment of its invasion of Ukraine so far, describing the “tragedy” of the economic blow from mounting military losses and sanctions, as Ukrainians flee from eastern cities ahead of a potentially major attack. was taken out.
The remarks came as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky foreshadowed the emergence of more atrocities, saying the situation in the city of Borodyanka was “much more disastrous” than in Bucha.
More than 4 million people fled abroad, thousands killed or injured in a six-week-long incursion of Moscow, turning cities into rubble and imposing sweeping sanctions on Russian leaders and companies.
In a symbolic move, the UN General Assembly suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, expressing “serious concern over the current human rights and humanitarian crisis”. Russia then left the council.
Moscow has previously acknowledged that its attack did not go as fast as it wanted, but on Thursday Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov condoled the rising death toll. “We have suffered a significant loss of troops,” he told Sky News. “This is a great tragedy for us.”
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that Russia is facing its toughest economic situation in three decades due to unprecedented Western sanctions. In yet another blow, the US Congress removed its “most favored nation” trade status from Russia.
Kyiv called for more heavy weapons from its Western allies and “disastrous” sanctions against Moscow, saying the scale of any impending Russian attack on eastern Ukraine would remind NATO members of World War II.,
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmitro Kuleba, told a meeting of his counterparts in the coalition, “Either you help us now – and I’m talking about days, not weeks – or your help will come too late, and too much.” People will be killed by it.” Brussels on Thursday.
Kuleba said he expected NATO members to send necessary weapons to Kyiv, including air defense systems, artillery, armored vehicles and jets, but insisted they should act swiftly while Moscow continues its attacks on the Donbass region. restarts.
“I think the deal Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons; we sacrifice our lives, and the war lies in Ukraine. That’s it.”
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, said the coalition had agreed to strengthen support for Ukraine, providing a wide range of weapons systems, and also cyber security support and equipment to protect against chemical and biological threats. will provide.,
As peace talks between Russia and Ukraine continued by video, Turkey, which has hosted two meetings between the sides, said images of deliberate civilian killings in Buka and towns in the Kyiv region “overheaded” the talks. And ruined one “emerging”. positive atmosphere”.
Photos and videos of civilians dead, some with their hands tied, on the streets of Buka after they withdrew from Russian invaders have sparked international revolt and renewed calls for more weapons and tougher sanctions from Ukraine Is.
On Thursday, Zelensky said the situation in the city of Borodyanka was “much worse” than in Bucha. “Work has begun to clear the rubble in Borodanka … It’s much more dire there. Suffering even more from the Russian occupiers,” he said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging service. From the city of Buka is approximately 15 miles (24 km) away.
Videos from Borodyanka showed search and rescue teams using heavy equipment to dig out the rubble of a collapsed building. Hundreds of people are feared buried.
Zelensky also warned that Russia was preparing a “propaganda scenario” in which the Russian military would see that Ukrainian soldiers were responsible for civilian deaths in Mariupol.
Pro-Russian officials in Mariupol said on Thursday that 5,000 people had been killed in the besieged southern city. “About 60-70% of the housing stock has been destroyed or partially destroyed,” said Konstantin Ivashenko, who is now the mayor of Mariupol, claimed by separatists in the Donetsk region.
Ukrainian officials put forward a “conservative” estimate of 5,000 dead in the city, which they say has been 90% destroyed, while indicating that there could be “thousands of civilian casualties”.
In other developments:
Boris Johnson is set to host the German chancellor on Friday as he seeks to discuss how to help Europe rid itself of Russian gas. PA Media reported that the prime minister would hold talks with Olaf Scholz in Downing Street to discuss plans for a press conference for the afternoon.
The radio broadcast in which Russian soldiers are seen talking among themselves about carrying out pre-planned civilian killings in Ukraine has been intercepted by Germany’s foreign intelligence service, a source close to the findings said.
The World Health Organization said on Thursday it had confirmed more than 100 attacks on health services in Ukraine, as it called for humanitarian access to the besieged city of Mariupol.
Australia is sending its first convoy of 20 sophisticated Bushmaster armored vehicles from C-17 Globemaster aircraft to Ukraine. They will leave from Brisbane on Friday.
Lithuania’s ambassador to Ukraine returned to Kyiv on Thursday after Russian forces withdrew from the Ukrainian capital, becoming one of the few diplomats to return to the city. Valdemaras Sarapinas said: “Political and moral support for the Ukrainians is very important.”
Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall, who was injured in an attack in Kyiv, posted about his injuries on Twitter, saying he lost a leg and half of a leg. He paid tribute to his colleagues, producer Alexandra Kuvshinova and cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who were killed in the attack.
Russia on 24 February called a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “reject” Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies dismiss this as a false pretext.
EU ambassadors agreed a fifth sanctions package on Russia, with a coal embargo with a wind-down period of 120 days to give member states time to find alternative suppliers, after pressure from Germany to delay the measure.
Ukraine accused Hungary of undermining EU unity when Budapest said it was ready to pay the ruble for Russian gas, a demand from the Kremlin that was opposed by most in the West.
On the battlefield, Ukraine maintains that after withdrawing from the outskirts of Kyiv, Russia is regrouping to try to gain full control over the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been held since 2014 by Russian-backed separatists. partially organized.
The besieged southern port of Mariupol, where more than a million people are believed to be still trapped, was also a target.
The two sides continue to trade allegations, with Moscow launching a criminal investigation into allegations by a Russian soldier that he was beaten up and threatened with death while being held as a prisoner of war in Ukraine.
Separately, a social media video verified by Reuters and located in an area west of Kyiv shows Ukrainian forces shooting and killing a captured and badly wounded Russian soldier.