Ukraine says it is in talks with Russia about the evacuation of seriously injured soldiers from the besieged Azov-Stahl steelworks in Mariupol. The talks are “very difficult,” said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Wereschuk on Thursday. It is initially only about 38 soldiers who could be exchanged for captured Russians.
Various media had previously spoken of possibly 500 to 600 Ukrainians who could be brought out of the steel mill as part of these negotiations. Vereshchuk rejected this magnitude. “We work step by step.”
On Tuesday, she spoke to the AFP news agency about “more than a thousand” Ukrainian fighters who are still holed up in the industrial complex in Mariupol. Among them are “hundreds of injuries”. They are the last Ukrainian defenders in the strategically important port city of Mariupol, which is now completely under Russian control except for the industrial area. Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from the Azov steel plants in recent weeks. (AFP)
The United Nations has called for an end to the bombing and military use of schools in Ukraine. “Hundreds of schools across the country have been reportedly hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi told the UN Security Council on Thursday. “These attacks must stop.”
“Other schools are used as information centers, emergency shelters, supply centers or for military purposes – with long-term effects on children’s return to school,” Abdi said. One of six schools in eastern Ukraine supported by Unicef has been “damaged or destroyed” since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, Abdi said as of last week.
The Security Council meeting was convened at the request of Mexico and France. They stressed that attacks on schools are a flagrant violation of humanitarian law. French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere accused Russia of killing “civilians, including children,” in Ukraine. His Russian counterpart Wassili Nebensia dismissed these as “absurd allegations”. (AFP)
According to Ukrainian sources, at least five civilians were killed in heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk region. The regional administration reported on Thursday in the Telegram news service that four people had died in the villages of Novoselivka, Avdiivka and Lyman. According to media reports, another civilian was killed in the fighting in Jasynuwata, which is under the control of the pro-Russian separatists. The information could not be independently verified.
According to the United Nations, more than 3,500 civilians have already been killed. However, the UN assumes that the number of victims will be much higher. (dpa)
The Ukrainian armed forces say they damaged a Russian logistics warship in the Black Sea. The “Vsevolod Bobrov” was hit near Snake Island and set on fire, a spokesman for the armed forces for the Odessa military district said on the Internet. Details are not available. The information cannot be independently confirmed. (Reuters)
Ukraine spent $8.3 billion on war spending after the Russian invasion. Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko also told the Reuters news agency that only 60 percent of the planned tax revenue was achieved in April. In the end, almost 80 percent were achieved through foreign aid. Marchenko says his country will continue to service its national debt despite the war. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Berlin for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Saturday. There, the allies wanted to discuss how to proceed in the face of “Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine,” the State Department said in Washington on Thursday.
Other topics include the preparations for the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June and work on a new strategic concept. In addition, it should be about the possible inclusion of Finland and Sweden in the military alliance.
At the foreign ministers’ meeting of the G7 group of seven important industrial nations, which began on Thursday in Weißenhäuser Strand on the Baltic Sea, Blinken is missing due to a Covid disease. He is represented by top diplomat Victoria Nuland. Blinken, however, took appointments in Washington. The US Secretary of State then wants to travel to France on Sunday together with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. (dpa)
According to a newspaper, high-ranking Finnish politicians have been informed that Russia could cut off natural gas supplies on Friday. The Iltalehti newspaper cites unnamed sources. The government in Helsinki has announced that it will soon join NATO, which is met with suspicion in Russia. It is true that most of the natural gas consumed in Finland comes from the neighboring country. However, gas only contributes five percent to the Finnish energy mix. (Reuters)
In Switzerland, CHF 3.4 billion (EUR 3.2 billion) in Russian assets frozen as a precaution have been released. In connection with the sanctions against Russia, many banks and insurance companies are freezing assets as security, explained Erwin Bollinger from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) on Thursday in Bern.
However, these steps would then have to be checked, since claims for damages could be made in the event of unfounded blocks. According to Seco, a total of 6.3 billion francs are still frozen in connection with the sanctions. At the beginning of April it was CHF 7.5 billion. Since then, 2.2 billion francs have been added, while 3.4 billion have been unlocked. (dpa)
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has expressed reservations about Ukraine’s demand for the delivery of Western fighter jets. At the beginning of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the G7 group of leading democratic industrial nations in Weißenhäuser Strand on the Baltic Sea, the Green politician referred to the previous position on the establishment of no-fly zones. Also for the delivery of “flying materials we have already clearly positioned ourselves”. (dpa)
The G7 group of leading democracies wants to ensure that Ukraine can remain a major grain exporter despite the Russian war of aggression. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) said on Thursday at the beginning of consultations with colleagues from the other G7 countries in Weißenhäuser Strand that they were discussing how to unblock the grain blockade currently being exercised by Russia and how to bring Ukrainian grain into the world the Baltic Sea.
Currently, 25 million tons of grain are blocked in Ukrainian ports, especially in Odessa, because of the war. The grain is urgently needed in African countries and the Middle East, said Baerbock. A food crisis is brewing in the sky, which will be exacerbated by the global climate impact. (dpa)
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) is due to report to the Bundestag’s Defense Committee on Friday about arms deliveries to Ukraine and the federal government’s political course. The Chancellor has promised to appear in person at the meeting, which begins at 8 a.m. (dpa)
According to the UN, at least 100 children died in the war in Ukraine last month. “And we believe the actual number is much higher,” UNICEF deputy director Omar Abdi said at a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday. The meeting focused on the humanitarian situation in the conflict.
Abdi added that many children were also injured in the fighting. Millions have been displaced, schools are being attacked. “The war in Ukraine, like all wars, is a child protection and child rights crisis.” (dpa)
In a special session on Ukraine, the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the atrocities documented by experts in Russian-held territories. In a resolution in Geneva on Thursday, the panel pointed out, among other things, cases of torture, shootings and sexual violence that a UN team documented on site.
The Council called on Russia to allow humanitarian workers immediate access to people reportedly being trafficked to Russia from Ukraine. 33 of the 47 member countries voted for the resolution. Only China and Eritrea voted against, twelve other countries abstained. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said at the start of the day-long session that many of the human rights violations under investigation “can amount to war crimes”. (dpa)
According to the United Nations, more than six million people have fled Ukraine. According to the UN refugee agency, most fled to the European Union via border points with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. More than eight million people are displaced within Ukraine. Before the war, 44 million people lived in the country. (Reuters)
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has assured Finland of Germany’s support for NATO membership. He welcomes Finland’s decision to speak out in favor of the country joining NATO immediately, Scholz wrote on Twitter on Thursday. In a telephone conversation with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, he “assured his country the full support of the federal government”.
The Finnish government from Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin spoke out in favor of immediate accession to NATO on Thursday. The formal decision for the application to join the military alliance is to be made on Sunday.
“Nato membership would strengthen Finland’s security,” said Niinistö and Marin. The country would “strengthen the alliance as a whole”. Sweden, which has also been militarily neutral up to now, also wants to announce a decision on joining NATO on Sunday. (AFP)
Selected speeches by the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi will soon be published in German as a book. Ullstein Verlag in Berlin announced on Thursday that the collection will be published at the end of May under the title “For Ukraine – for Freedom”.
The proceeds are intended to support the Ukrainian population – the money is to be donated to an organization commissioned by the Ukrainian embassy in Paris. The volume is said to contain more than 20 speeches, such as speeches on the beginning of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and speeches before the American Congress and the German Bundestag. (dpa)
The Bundeswehr has brought war-wounded Ukrainians from Poland to Germany with another evacuation flight. The Luftwaffe’s A310 MedEvac special aircraft landed at Frankfurt Airport on Thursday with more than 20 patients on board, the German Press Agency learned.
The Air Force had taken the Ukrainians and several escorts on board from the airport in the Polish city of Rzeszow, about 90 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. In the past few weeks, the aircraft stationed in Cologne has repeatedly brought seriously injured children and adults to Germany for treatment in order to be able to provide them with better medical care. The A310 MedEvac is the Air Force’s flying intensive care unit. The injured are treated further in the air by medical personnel. (dpa)