More weapons to Ukraine – NATO chief

NATO allies have decided to provide more assistance to Ukraine, also from a military point of view. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told and end-of- meeting media conference that these include anti-tank weapons, anti-missile defences and drones, “which have proved to be very effective”. The allies will then assist Ukraine with financial and humanitarian aid, he added. NATO leaders met at an extraordinary summit in Brussels to consider their next steps in thwarting Russian President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The alliance will approve major increases of forces in Eastern Europe at the summit, with four new battlegroups to be sent to Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

Stoltenberg pays homage to Ukrainians, Russians

In a meeting with US President Joe Biden, Stoltenberg paid tribute to “the great courage of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian armed forces who are fighting for their freedom and their rights, but also to those in Russia who are courageously speaking out against the war”. Before the meeting with NATO allies, Biden tweeted that he was meeting NATO, G7 members and the European Council who were “united in defense of democracy and with the people of Ukraine”. The US president told NATO he supported an increase in the troops of the alliance on the eastern flank. Meanwhile, NATO allies have agreed on the one-year extension of the mandate of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, also in light of the situation in Ukraine.

Zelensky asks NATO for “military assistance without restrictions”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Nato representatives Thursday that in order “to save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military assistance without restrictions”, according to France24. “In the same way that Russia is using its full arsenal without restrictions against us,” he reportedly added. “NATO has yet to show what the Alliance can do to save people,” according to the Kyiv Independent news website. “To show that this is truly the most powerful defense association in the world. And the world is waiting. And Ukraine is very much waiting, for real action,” Zelensky reportedly said.

Putin must be defeated” – European Council president

President of the European Council Charles Michel has said says Russian President Vladimir Putin “must be defeated” and in order for that to happen, “we need to support Ukraine as much as possible” – including by implementing sanctions. Michele was speaking in Brussels, where NATO heads have been meeting. NATO, G7 countries and EU members are working together and are “rock solid, united” because “this war must stop” so that international law and diplomatic principles are protected, he adds.

Russian Defence Minister appears on TV

Russian TV has shown pictures apparently showing President Putin holding a Security Council meeting today with top officials, including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. The minister had not been seen in public since  March 11, and there were rumours that he was sick or had even been arrested.

Kyiv Navy destroys Russian naval vessel

Ukraine’s Navy claimed to have “destroyed” a Russian vessel on Thursday morning in the port of Berdyansk on the Black Sea southwest of Mariupol.” A large paratroop ship “Orsk” of the black sea fleet of occupiers was destroyed in the occupied Russian port Berdyansk,” the country’s Navy announced on Facebook. “Glory to Ukraine!” There are other unverified reports of two other ships ablaze. While Russia has superior forces in Ukraine, the defenders have put up a surprisingly strong resistance, and President Zelensky has maintained that his besieged country will prove triumphant in the war. On Thursday morning, the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed that Russia’s total combat losses from February 24 to March 23 amounted to about 15,800 people, 530 tanks, 1,597 armoured combat vehicles, 280 artillery systems, and 47 anti-aircraft weapons.

US to take 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

The US will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others seeking to escape from Russia’s invasion, and will impose new sanctions on Russian individuals and companies, the White House said. According to senior administration officials, the Biden administration is looking into multiple methods for those fleeing Ukraine to enter the US, including the refugee admissions programme, as well as parole and immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The officials said that President Biden’s cap of 125,000 refugees for Fiscal Year 2022 remains in effect, but that those who enter via processes other than the refugee programme will not count toward that total.

War displaces half of Ukraine’s children – UNICEF

UNICEF said Thursday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has now displaced 4.3 million children – more than half of the country’s estimated child population of 7.5 million. “The war has caused one of the fastest largescale displacements of children since World War II,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement. “This is a grim milestone that could have lasting consequences for generations to come. Children’s safety, wellbeing and access to essential services are all under threat from non-stop horrific violence.” UNICEF says the 4.3 million figure includes about 1.8 million children who have fled Ukraine since the war began on February 24, while 2.5 million are believed to be internally displaced in Ukraine. Overall, the UN estimates that around 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine because of the violence.

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