Russia kicked out of UN Human Rights Council
The UN General Assembly voted Thursday to suspend Russia from the world organisation’s leading human rights body over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, which the United States and Ukraine have called “war crimes”. The vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called the vote “a historic moment”, adding that Russia must be held accountable. Russia’s deputy ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, said after the vote that Russia had already withdrawn from the council before the assembly took action. He said Russia consideredadoption of the resolution “an illegitimate and politically-motivated step” by a group of countries with “short-term political and economic interests” that he accused of “blatant and massive violations of human rights”. China voted against the move.
Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the assembly before the vote that the draft resolution was not drafted “in an open and transparent manner”, nor did it follow the tradition of holding consultations within the whole membership to heed the broadest opinions. He said dealing with the membership of the Human Rights Council in such a way “would set a new and dangerous precedent”, further intensify confrontations in the field of human rights, bring a greater impact on the UN governance system, and produce serious consequences.
New EU anti-Russia sanctions, including coal embargo
EU member-states agreed on Thursday on a Russian coal embargo as part of a fifth round of sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine. The decision came as evidence built up that Russian soldiers executed civilians in the villages and towns outside of Kyiv. The French EU Council presidency said, “This very substantial package extends the sanctions against Russia to new areas and provides in particular, sanctions against oligarchs, Russian propaganda actors, members of the security and military apparatus and entities in the industrial and technological sector linked to Russian aggression against Ukraine”. It includes the freezing of assets of several Russian banks as well as a ban on exports to Russia including high-tech goods of up to €10 billion and the closure of EU ports to Russian-flagged ships.
EU Parliament approves energy embargo
The European Parliament gave its green light to the majority resolution calling for more sanctions against Russia, including energy imports – “gas, oil and coal” and “the abandonment of the use of the Nordstream 1 and 2 gas pipelines”. The resolution was approved with 513, 22 against and 19 abstentions. The vote was greeted by applause.
‘Putin has given up on taking over Kyiv’ – Pentagon
Russian President Vladimir Putin has given up on conquering Kyiv, US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin said yesterday, He told a parliamentary hearing, “Putin thought that he could very quickly conquer Ukraine, capture its capital. He was wrong!” The head of the Pentagon said he thought Putin had given up on his efforts to capture the capital and is now concentrated in the south and in the east of the country.
‘War will cost Kyiv over $1 trillion’
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal told the BBC’s News Ukraine, that the war will cost hiscountry more than one trillion dollars. He said, “The direct losses in the first half of March – both according to the Kyiv School of Economics and the Ministry of Economy – amounted to over $560 billion. And if we calculate the long-term losses of GDP from destroyed production plants and infrastructure, the amount of losses is much more than one trillion dollars.
Mariupol destroyed, Odessa now at risk – Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the Greek Parliament, the vast majority of the buildings in Mariupol are completely destroyed. There are practically no buildings intact: the Russian army destroyed everything: hospitals, maternity hospitals, apartment buildings and the city theatre, where civilians hid from the bombs. President Zelensky added Russia could try to destroy Odessa: “We must save Odessa from the destruction suffered by Mariupol.”
Kharkiv bombed 48 times in 24 hours
Kharkiv governor Oleh Synehubov has told Kyiv Independent Russian troops bombed the civilian infrastructure of Kharkiv 48 times in the last 24 hours. Three people were killed in the city of Balakliya.
‘90% of Bucha dead have gunshot wounds’
Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told Deutsche Welle, approximately 90% of civilians killed in the Ukrainian city of Bucha had suffered gunshot wounds. 320 bodies have been found so far, but “this number was increasing every day”. He said he had witnessed several Russian soldiers killing Ukrainian civilians as they opened fire on several vehicles at a checkpoint.
‘Russians with tanks on corpses’ – Irpin Mayor
Irpin Mayor Alexander Markushin has said Russians in the city first shot people and then passed over their bodies with tanks. Pravda Ukraine quotes him as telling an online conference organised by the Ukrainian commission of inquiry, “After the release of Irpin we had to collect the remains with shovels,” adding, “The occupiers started dividing families, taking away men and leaving women and children. The men were taken away in exchange for prisoners.”
Pink Floyd together again for Ukraine
Pink Floyd have released a new song entitled ‘Hey Hey Rise Up’ in support of the Ukrainian people.This is the first new original music recorded by the reunited band since 1994’s ‘The Division Bell’. The track features David Gilmour and Nick Mason’s collaboration with bassist Guy Pratt, Nitin Sawhney on keyboards, with a stunning vocal performance by Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the Ukrainian band Boombox. The track, recorded on March 30, uses Andriy’s voice extrapolated from an Instagram post that immortalises him singing in Sofiyskaya Square in Kiev.
Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson
The US Senate has confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first Afro-American woman and first former federal public defender to be elevated to the nation’s highest court. Three Republican senators voted with all 50 Democrats to confirm Jackson. Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the vote. Biden and Jackson watched on a TV in the White House Roosevelt Room as Harris said “this nomination is confirmed”.
COVID anger rises in Shanghai
The anti-COVID lockdown is producing tension and anger among most of Shanghai’s 26 million residents, stranded in homes, struggling with serious problems in obtaining meat, rice and other essential foodstuffs, amid complaints of empty online supermarkets and delivery difficulties due to huge requests. Residents also complain of the separation of infected minors from their parents as those who test positive cannot isolate themselves at home, but must be taken to quarantine facilities. The storm exploded on social networks. Cases in China rose to 23,107 on Wednesday, of which 1,323 confirmed and the rest made up of asymptomatic carriers. In Shanghai there were almost 20,000, of which 322 infections were verified. Local officials have ensured that the city has enough food. But a deputy mayor acknowledged that handing over to families is a challenge in the “last 100 metres”.
Cargo jet splits in half in runway drama
A DHL cargo jet slid off the runway and broken in half while landing at Costa Rica’s international airport in San Jose, shutting down the airport, but not injuring thre two-man crew. The Boeing 757 had taken off from Juan Santamaría Airport just west of the capital on Thursday, but decided to return after detecting a failure in the hydraulic system. Upon landing, the aircraft skidded, turned and broke in two, exposing its cargo.