Russia eyes second largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has warned Russian forces were 32 kilometers from the second largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine. She was speaking during an emergency meeting of the 15-member UN Security Council over Russian shelling and seizure of Ukraine’sZaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, during which the Russia was heavily criticised for its action. Russia’s UN ambasador, Vassily Nebenzia, dismissed Western uproar over the incident and called Friday’s Security Council meeting another attempt by Ukrainian authorities to create “artificial hysteria”, adding that “at present, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and adjacent territory are being guarded by Russian troops”.
UN Security Council meeting on Monday
The UN Security Council will meet on Monday on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. This was reported by diplomatic sources, according to which the meeting was requested by the United States and Albania.
Third round of talks over the weekend
Russia President Vladimir Putin has told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Ukraine and Russia will reunite for the third round of talks over the weekend, “but only if Zelensky accepts our requests”. The talks were scheduled to continue next week. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia is convinced the talks should be conducted “in silence and not be subject to public disclosure”. On his part, Scholz asked the head of the Kremlin for an “immediate stop” of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid.
Heavy bombing on Borodyanka leaves many civilian victims
About 100 people could be under the rubble of houses in Borodyanka, in the Kiev region, according to US broadcaster Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. After the collapse of the building, a group of rescuers tried to intervene but was greeted by gunshots. The town, a few kilometers from Kiev, was devastated by Russian attacks even though the Ukrainians managed to repel the Russians.
Mariupol in a ‘terrible situation’
Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol has been cut off, left without food, water or electricity. Mayor Vadym Boychenko made a televised appeal for military help and said a humanitarian corridor should be created to evacuate civilians from the southeastern port city. Mariupol’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told the BBC that the situation in the city was “terrible” after 40 hours of continuous shelling. Schools and hospitals were also bombarded.
Explosions rock Kyiv
Several explosions were heard in quick succession in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Reuters reported. Up to a dozen explosions were heard, but their origin could not be immediately verified. There were no reports of casualties. An airstrike on a rural residential area in the Kyiv region killed at least seven people on Friday, including two children, Ukraine state police said in a statement.
Zelensky slams ‘weak’ NATO
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy blasted NATO as “weak” for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. In a video address to the nation, Zelensky accused the alliance of failing to make use of its powerful weapons.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said earlier that the “painful decision” not to comply with Ukraine’s request had been taken because doing so would risk drawing more countries into a wider war.
Zelensky addresses anti-war protests across Europe
The centres of the Czech and Georgian capitals, Prague and Tbilisi, have seen massive night-time demonstrations in support of Ukraine and against the Russian invasion. Zelensky used a video link toaddress rallies in several cities including Paris, Prague, Lyon and Frankfurt. He called on European nations to support his country’s fight against the invading Russian military, declaring all who were watching were Ukrainians today. He asked the big crowds not to be silent about what is going on in his country.
European energy prices rise to record high
European gas prices jumped as much as 33% on Friday on growing fears the war will end up severing supplies. Natural gas prices are now the equivalent of about $350 a barrel of oil, posing a massive risk to inflation and output. Oil rose another 5% in volatile trading, while grains surged as the key Black Sea region is cut off from global trade. In New York, oil gained 3.43% to $111.36 a barrel.
In other news:
China’s military budget rises to 7.1%
China’s military spending is set to increase by 7.1% in 2022, to 1,450 billion yuan (about €210 billion), at a faster rate of 6.8% than last year, according to state budget figures released today ahead of the plenary of the National People’s Congress. Premier Li Keqiang said in his speech that China will improve its military training and combat readiness, “move faster to modernise the army’s logistics and resource management systems and build a modern military management system, weapons and equipment”.
UN offers mediation in Libya
The UN’s top official in Libya has offered to mediate between political rivals in a renewed push for long-delayed elections, warning against “escalation” after a parallel government took office. Stephanie Williams’ call came a day after the country’s eastern-based parliament swore in a prime minister in a challenge to interim premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah. Meanwhile, Hafed Gaddur, Foreign Minister of the newly-formed Libyan National Stability Government, was released by the militia that had kidnapped him on Thursday along with two other members of Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha’s executive.
Argentine bishop sent to prison over sex abuse
An Argentinian Catholic bishop has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing young men studying for the priesthood. Gustavo Zanchetta, the former bishop of Oran in the northern province of Salta, had denied all charges, insisting he had “a good and healthy relationship” with all seminarians.
Death penalty for Boston marathon killer re-established
The American Supreme Court has restored the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the bomber of the Boston marathon who in 2013, together with his brother, caused the death of three people and the wounding of another 260. A federal court overturned the sentence against the young man of Chechen origin in July 2020, upholding the appeal filed by his lawyers. A month later, then President Donald Trump called for the death penalty to be reinstated.