Biden accuses Putin of genocide
US President Joe Biden said for the first time on Tuesday that there was growing evidence that President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine amounts to genocide, but said it would be up to lawyers to make the final determination. Biden stood by his genocide description offered earlier in a speech at an ethanol plant in Iowa. “Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian and the evidence is mounting,” Biden told reporters before boarding Air Force One in Iowa. Biden has repeatedly called Putin a war criminal, but he has not declared that Russia has committed genocide in Ukraine.
Putin says Ukraine peace talks are at dead end
President Putin said on Tuesday that peace talks with Ukraine had hit a dead end, pledging that Russian troops would win. Addressing the war in public for the first time since Russian forces retreated from northern Ukraine, Putin promised that Russia would achieve all of its “noble” aims. During a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Putin gave the strongest signal to date that the war would grind on, saying Kyiv had derailed peace talks by staging fake claims of Russian war crimes and by demanding security guarantees to cover the whole of Ukraine. The West has condemned the war as a brutal, imperial-style land grab in a sovereign country. But the Russian president said the invasion was necessary because the US was using Ukraine to threaten Russia, including through the Nato military alliance. He dismissed the punitive sanctions imposed by the US and its allies following his invasion.
Zelensky mocks Putin for saying war is going to plan
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday mocked Moscow’s insistence that the war against his nation was going well, asking how President Vladimir Putin could have approved a plan that involved so many Russians dying. Putin, speaking on Tuesday, said Russia would achieve all of its “noble” aims and “rhythmically and calmly” continue what it calls a special operation. “But, to be honest, no one in the world understands how such a plan could even come about,” Zelensky said in a video address. He asked how many dead Russian soldiers would be acceptable to Putin, giving a range of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Moscow had lost more men in 48 days than in the 10-year Afghan war from 1979 to 1989, he said.
Pope condemns ‘abominable actions’ in Ukraine
Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the war in Ukraine was marked by “the forces of evil” because it was leaving in its wake abominations such as the massacre of civilians. Pope Francis made his comments at an inter-religious pilgrimage of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. In a message read on his behalf, he said: “The suffering inflicted on so many frail and defenceless persons; the many civilians massacred and the innocent victims among the young; the desperate plight of women and children… All this troubles our consciences,” he said. The Pope rejected Putin’s terminology that Moscow’s actions were a “special military operation” in Ukraine designed not to occupy territory but to demilitarise and “denazify” the country. “We call it a war!” he said.
‘Russia behind Polish leader’s 2010 plane crash’
A Polish government special commission has reinforced its earlier allegations that the 2010 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others in Russia was the result of Moscow’s assassination plan. The latest of the commission’s reports, just released, alleges that an intentional detonation of planted explosives caused the crash of Soviet-made Tu-154M plane that killed Kaczynski, the first lady and 94 other government and armed forces figures as well as many prominent Poles. Their deaths were the result of an “act of unlawful interference by the Russian side,” the commission’s head Antoni Macierewicz told a news conference. He denied that any mistakes were made by the Polish pilots or crew members, despite bad weather at the time of the crash.
Police identify Brooklyn subway gunman
The police in New York say they have identified Frank R. James, 62, of Philadelphia as a person of interest in the case of a man in a worker’s vest, who put on a gas mask, opened a canister that filled a subway car with smoke and then opened fire. They have recovered a hand-gun, a hatchet and a range of potential incediary devices. The shooter is still at large and authorities announced a $50,000-reward. At least 23 people were injured, 10 of them by gunfire, on the train and on the platform. Five victims were in critical condition.
Calls for Johnson, Sunak to resign
The British prime minister and his finance minister have rejected calls for them to resign after they were fined by police for breaking COVID lockdown rules by attending a party in 2020. Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie have both apologised and paid their £50-fines. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he too had paid his fine, offered an “unreserved apology” but said he would stay in his job.
Macron faces angry voters
French President Emmanuel Macron faced angry healthcare workers in the eastern city of Mulhouse who urged him to add more beds and “improve working conditions”. One care worker told him young people did not want to work seven days a week at a salary that is not decent. Another said that they did not feel that pay had gone up, adding that the president should give care workers the means to treat people. Both second-round presidential candidates, Macron and Marie Le Pen, will want to try to convince those who voted for Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round to support them in the runoff. Mélenchon came third in the presidential election, with around 21% of the vote. While Mélenchon urged voters not to support Marine Le Pen, he did not tell them to vote for Macron.
Football: King Karim’s extra-time header seals semi-final spot
Karim Benzema’s extra-time goal put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals despite a 3-2 defeat to holders Chelsea last night. Goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner overturned Real Madrid’s 3-1 advantage from the first leg last week, but Rodrygo’s sublime volley forced the tie into extra time. Benzema, who scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, had the final say, though, thundering home a header six minutes into extra time to seal a 5-4 aggregate victory. Carlo Ancelotti’s side will now face either Atletico Madrid or Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s side holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
Despite dominating the match, Bayern Munich crash out
In the other quarter-final, Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich crashed out for the second season running, as Samuel Chukwueze’s late strike at the Allianz Arena snatched a 1-1 draw on the night – and a 2-1 aggregate victory for the Europa League holders. Julian Nagelsmann’s side, beaten 1-0 in the first leg, dominated the game. But despite Robert Lewandowski drawing them level early in the second half, Bayern were unable to capitalise on their superiority as they could only find the back of the net once from 23 attempts at goal. And the Bavarian giants were stunned two minutes from time, when Chukwueze rounded off a devastating counter-attack to send Villarreal through to a first semi-final in this competition in 16 years. The other two semi-finals – Atletico Madrid v. Manchester City (0-1) and Liverpool v. Benfica (3-1) – will be played this evening.
Blatter and Platini trial set for June
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and ex-UEFA boss Michel Platini will go on trial facing corruption charges in June. The pair were last year charged with fraud and other offences by Swiss authorities relating to a payment made in 2011. The case centres on a payment made by FIFA to Platini in 2011, authorised by Blatter, which the prosecution alleges “was made without a legal basis”. Blatter was originally banned from footballing activities for eight years, reduced to six, by FIFA in 2015. Platini was also given an eight-year suspension. Both Blatter and Platini have denied any wrongdoing.