Russia continues its barrage on Ukrainian cities, frequently targeting civilians, including an American who was killed while waiting in a bread line, according to the State Department and the person’s family. Two airplane and bus repair facilities near Lviv’s international airport in western Ukraine were hit by missiles Friday morning, the city’s mayor said. The airplane facility was empty and there are no reported casualties so far. The Russians launched six missiles from the Black Sea, two of which were shot down, according to the Ukrainian Air Force’s western command. Last weekend, in nearby Yavoriv, nearly three dozen people were killed in a strike on a military training facility. Both cities are near the Polish border. Lviv had so far been considered relatively safe compared to other areas in the country like the seaside city of Mariupol, which have borne the brunt of the majority of attacks since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion late last month. Meanwhile, Lviv’s population has swelled by some 200,000 as people from elsewhere in Ukraine have sought shelter there.
60 civilians killed in Kyiv since start of invasion: report
To the east of Lviv, Kyiv was also attacked Friday morning, with at least one person killed by shelling in a neighbourhood north of the city’s downtown. Kyiv City Council said that out of the 222 people that have been killed in its city since the beginning of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, 60 are civilians. Four children are reported to be among those dead, while 889 also have been injured, the council added.
‘2,300 died in Mariupol’ – The Guardian
The Guardian quotes local Ukrainian officials saying more than 2,300 people have died in Mariupol. Etimates of those killed in Mariupol vary widely because the city is under constant attack. Officials have said some dead were left lying in the street until they were put into mass graves because the constant danger in the city makes funerals nearly impossible. And last week at least three people, including one child, died following an attack on a maternity hospital in the city. Russia’s defense ministry said Friday that its military and separatists in eastern Ukraine are “tightening the noose” on the city of Mariupol, which has been under frequent attack in recent days. Fighting is currently ongoing in the center of the besieged city.
1,300 people still under Mariupol theatre
There are still 1,300 people in the basement of the Mariupol theatre, Ukranian commissioner for human rights Lyudmyla Denisova told local TV. She assured that relief efforts were underway and recalled that yesterday 130 people were saved from the rubble.
Baltic states expel 20 Russian diplomats
The countries of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Bulgaria have expelled a combined 20 Russian diplomats Friday because of Moscow’s ongoing war with Ukraine, according to reports. In Bulgaria, where 10 of the diplomats have been given 72 hours to leave, the Russian officials were accused of carrying out “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status”, Reuters reported, citing comments that Russia’s ambassador made to state media. “We take this as an extremely unfriendly act and reserve the right to retaliate,” Russian Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova was quoted as saying. Latvia Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted that his country has expelled three Russian workers “in connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status and taking into account ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine.”
Russia made ‘minimal progress’ – UK
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said Friday that Russian forces have made “minimal progress this week” in Ukraine as “Ukrainian forces around Kyiv and Mykolaiv continue to frustrate Russian attempts to encircle the cities”. “The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remain encircled and subject to heavy Russian shelling,” the agency added.
Biden will ask Xi to ‘convince Putin to stop the war’
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has told MSNBC that during today’s phone call, US President Joe Biden will ask his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to use his influence with Russian President Vladimir Putin so that Moscow “puts an end to this horrible war”. Bloomberg quotes her as saying that Washington hoped China would choose “the right side of history”. Meanwhile, The Daily Mail’s political correspondent David Martosko says Xi is not prepared to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The US has warned Beijing that military or economic support for Russia could trigger sanctions. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would question Xi about Beijing’s “rhetorical support” of Putin and an “absence of denunciation” of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. “This is an opportunity to assess where President Xi stands,” Psaki said.
World leaders accuse Russia of war crimes
The U.S. and leaders in other countries are repeating calls to investigate Russia for war crimes in Ukraine in the wake of a number of fatal attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and a theatre. On Wednesday, President Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday agreed, saying that “intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime”. He said American officials were evaluating potential war crimes and that if Russia’s intentional targeting of civilians is confirmed, there will be “massive consequences.”
Russia complains of ‘more and more unrealistic proposals’
President Putin is now accusing Ukraine of attempting to stall negotiations aimed at ending the war. During a phone call between Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, “it was noted that the Kyiv regime is attempting in every possible way to delay the negotiation process, putting forward more and more unrealistic proposals”, the Kremlin said in a statement, according to Reuters. “Nonetheless the Russian side is ready to continue searching for a solution in line with its well-known principled approaches,” the statement added. The messaging from the Kremlin stood in contrast to what Putin said on this topic one week ago – that there were “certain positive shifts” happening in the negotiations.