- Russian military advances remain “largely stalled” as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued for Day 23, according to a U.S. defense official.
- President Joe Biden laid out consequences to China’s Xi Jinping if China supports Russia during its invasion, the White House said. The two spoke Friday, amid China’s refusal to condemn Russia .
- Biden will head to Brussels next week to meet with NATO, EU and G7 leaders.
- The United Nations says at least 816 civilians, including 59 children have been killed , warning the actual death toll is “much higher.” Over 3.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine, with nearly 2 million entering Poland, U.N. says.
- More than 9,000 civilians evacuated Ukraine Friday through nine agreed-upon humanitarian corridors.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for peace talks stalling, according to a Kremlin readout of his call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
- Explosions have rocked Lviv , a city in Western Ukraine which had become a safe haven destination for many Ukrainians fleeing Russian shelling.
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Ukrainian Journalist Believed to be Held Captive by Russia
A journalist for the Ukraine media outlet Hromadske is believed to be held captive by Russia, according to the outlet.
“Our journalist Victoria Roshchyna is held captive by the Russian occupiers,” Hromadske tweeted Friday. “She was reporting from hotspots in Eastern and Southern Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war. On March 12, we couldn’t contact Victoria.”
Roshchyna was last seen in the temporarily occupied Berdiansk. Her current whereabouts are unknown.
“We call on the Ukrainian and international community to help us to find and release Victoria Roshchyna,” Hromadske said.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv called on Russia to release Roshchyna and other government officials, journalist and civilians that have been “illegally detained” over the course of the war in Ukraine.
Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher Raise $34 Million for Ukraine
Actors Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher have raised more than $34 million to support the growing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
“While this is far from a solution for the problem, our collective effort will provide a softer landing for so many people as they forge ahead into their future of uncertainty,” Kunis said, as the couple thanked donors in a video.
Funds will benefit Flexport, an organization shipping relief supplies to refugee sites in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova. Funds will also benefit Airbnb, which has been assisting refugees with temporary housing.
The couple said they reached their $30 million goal, as they pledged to match up to $3 million dollars. Kunis was born in Chernivtsi, Ukraine.
“While we are witnessing the bravery of Ukrainians, we are also bearing witness to the unimaginable burden of those who have chosen safety,” Kunis said. “Countless amounts of people have left everything they know and love behind to seek refuge. With nothing but what they could carry, these Ukrainian refugees are in need of housing and supplies right away.”
“As funding continues to come in we will treat every dollar as if it were being donated from our pocket, with respect and honor for the work that went into earning it, the intent of love through which it was given, and the desire for it so be maximized for positive outcomes,” Kutcher added.
Over 9,000 People Evacuated Through Humanitarian Corridors, Officials Say
More than 9,100 Ukrainian were evacuated through humanitarian corridors Friday, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.
Nine humanitarian corridors were agreed upon Friday to evacuate civilians out of shelled cities in Ukraine, Vereshchuk said.
The Office of the President of Ukraine reported that almost 5,000 people left Mariupol, including 1,124 children. More than 4,000 civilians were evacuated from Sumy Oblast.
However, officials say the corridor from the heavily-shelled city of Mariupol to the city of Zaporizhzhia has been blocked.
In the Kyiv region, there is a corridor from Borodyanka to Zhytomyr and from the village of Shevchenkove to the city of Brovary.
“We also plan to deliver humanitarian aid in the form of food and medicine to the cities of Hostomel and Bucha, the villages of Semypolky, Markivka and Opanasiv,” Vereshchuk said.
In the Kharkiv region, evacuation routes go from the city of Vovchansk to Kharkiv and humanitarian aide is planned to be delivered to the cities of Balakliya and Izyum.
In the Sumy region, humanitarian corridors have been coordinated from the cities of Sumy, Trostyanets, Lebedyn and Konotop, as well as from the villages of Krasnopillya and Velyka Pysarivka to Poltava.
On Saturday, March 19, humanitarian aid routes will go to cities in the Kherson and Luhank regions.
The United Nations Refugee Council (UNHCR) said the situation in cities like Sumy and Mariupol are “dire,” as residents face critical and potentially fatal food, water and medicine shortages.
“UNHCR is closely tracking negotiations for safe passage and already has humanitarian cargo pre-positioned,” spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh said in a statement . “We are ready to send critical supplies into Sumy as soon as conditions allow.”
Polish Schools Add 75K Ukrainian Students
Cities in Poland continue calling for support to accommodate the nearly two million Ukrainian refugees who have entered the country in a span of three weeks.
Poland’s Education Ministry is now addressing the challenge in schools amid the unexpected spike in student attendance. Some 75,000 Ukrainian refugee children are now attending Polish schools, according to Poland’s Education Ministry.
“Seventy five thousand children of Ukrainian refugees are already in Polish schools,” Polish Minister of Education Przemysław Czarnek. said. “Ten percent of them in preparatory departments, 90 percent in Polish classes. We estimate that there will be 700,000 children who can apply to Polish schools.”
Warsaw has been overwhelmed by refugees. Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski also shared the recent stress on local schools during a meeting with Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
“He told me how an extra 9,000 children have arrived in Warsaw’s schools over the last 10 days and there’s a real shortage of teachers,” Ferguson said. “Warsaw needs our help.”
Trzaskowski met with European Union Home Affairs and European Council representatives Friday, regarding an “urgent” need for support.
“I convinced our partners that increased EU activity in the area of the ongoing migration crisis was simply necessary,” Trzaskowski said. “The scale of the challenge is huge. Warsaw and all of Poland needs urgent support here.”
More than 3.2 million people have fled Ukraine since February 24, the United Nations estimates.
Where refugees are going, by country:
- Poland: 1,975,449
- Romania: 508,690
- Moldova: 355,420
- Hungary: 291,230
- Slovakia: 234,730
- Russia: 184,560
- Belarus: 2,130
*Estimates above provided by UNHCR as of 3/18
Biden’s Schedule for European Trip
President Joe Biden is preparing to travel to Europe next week to discuss the crisis and ongoing response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a series of summits.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki provided a glimpse of Biden’s upcoming trip during Friday’s press briefing.
Biden will travel to Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, March 23. Thursday, he will attend a NATO summit, European Council summit and a G7 meeting called by Germany.
European Council summit talks will revolve around shared concerns regarding Ukraine.
“Including transatlantic efforts to impose economic sanctions on Russia, provide humanitarian support for those affected by the violence and address other challenges related to the conflict,” Psaki said. “Each your Wheaties, each your spinach, it’s going to be a long Thursday.”
Further details on Biden’s trip will be forthcoming, Psaki said.
Russia Forces Remain ‘Largely Stalled,’ U.S. Official Says
Russian military advances remain “largely stalled,” a U.S. defense official told reporters Friday.
While Mariupol and Chernihiv are “isolated,” Russian forces have not made significant progress on Kyiv or Kharkiv.
The U.S. estimates Russian forces remain nearly 20 km east of Kyiv.
Ukrainian forces continue to defend Chernihiv, Mariupol, Kyiv and Mykolaiv as Russian troops surround the cities and heavy bombardment continues.
According to the defense official, Russia has fired more than 1080 missiles into Ukraine since the invasion began, as the airspace over Ukraine “remains contested.”
“The Ukrainian Air Force is continuing to fly aircraft and employ air and missile defense,” the official said.
The U.S. also believes the reports of Russian missile strokes on Lviv International Airport are accurate, the official said.
State Department Refutes ‘False’ Reports of U.S. Soldiers Killed
The U.S. State Department refuted recent “false news” reports of three U.S. mercenaries killed in the Donetsk People’s Republic of Ukraine.
State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter called the report “patently false and a deliberate fabrication.”
“The imagery used on this false reporting is from 2018 and those detected in the picture returned safely to their home base the next year, in 2019,” Porter said during a phone press conference Friday. “They are accounted for, safe.”
She reiterated that there are no U.S. soldiers in Ukraine. Russian newspaper Pravda issued a report which included a photograph, identifying the three Americans and said their personal belongings included a Tennessee flag.
The Tennessee National Guard said three soldiers identified in the report are “current or former members” of the Tennessee National Guard.
“They are accounted for, safe and not, as the article headline erroneously states, US mercenaries killed in Donetsk People’s Republic,” the Guard said.
Biden Laid Out Consequences if China Supports Russia
President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Friday.
During the nearly two-hour phone call, Biden “outlined the views of the United States and its allies and partners on this crisis” and detailed U.S. efforts to prevent and then respond to the invasion, including by imposing costs on Russia, according to the White House.
Biden also “described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia as it conducts brutal attacks against Ukrainian cities and civilians.” The White House has expressed its concern over the close relationship between China and Russia.
“The President underscored his support for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis,” the White House readout said.
By the end of the call, both leaders agreed to maintain open lines of communication “to manage the competition between our two countries” and promised to follow up on today’s conversation “in the critical period ahead.”
Secretary Austin Visits Troops in Bulgaria
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Bulgaria Friday.
Austin will meet with government leaders and U.S. troops training with Bulgarian forces.
“It was my honor to spend some time with U.S. and Bulgarian troops at Bezmer Air Base this afternoon,” he said. “The outstanding work being done here is a prime example of the unity between not just our two nations, but all NATO Allies.”
According to reporters in Bulgaria, Austin spoke to troops about creating trust.
“You can’t surge trust at the eleventh hour; trust is something you have to work on every day,” Austin said. “And from what I’ve heard, it’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re building trust with, amongst, with our allies, and you’re learning more about each other, and I think that’s just fantastic.”
Austin visited with U.S. and NATO troops in Slovakia who “just finished a big exercise” and are preparing to contribute to a NATO battle group based in Slovakia to “help add to deterrence and defense capabilities of NATO’s eastern flank,” Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said Friday.
U.S. Ambassador Slams Russia’s ‘Bizarre Conspiracy Theories’
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia claimed new evidence shows the United States is supporting biological weapons in Ukraine.
“Over the last week, new details have come to light which allows to state that the components for biological weapons were being created on the territory of Ukraine,” Nebenzia said during Friday’s U.N. Security Council meeting.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield slammed the claims saying Russia is again using the council to “launder its disinformation.”
“And last week, we heard from the Russian representative a tirade of bizarre conspiracy theories,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “This week we’re hearing a whole lot more where that came from, things that sound like they were forwarded to him on a chain email from some dark corner of the internet. President Biden has a word for this kind of talk: Malarkey.”
“As I said one week ago, Ukraine does not have a biological weapons program. There are no Ukrainian biological weapons laboratories, not near Russia’s border, not anywhere,” she said.
Nebenzia began his comments continuing to call Russia’s invasion a “special military operation” in Ukraine, now 23 days into the war.
“Our partners are in complete denial,” Nebenzia said to reporters following the meeting. “They won’t listen to what we are saying. They won’t accept that we are presenting facts and not just propaganda. They refused to accept and recognize that we presented a new set of evidence of military biological programs that were conducted in Ukraine with participation of the Pentagon.”
Zelensky Says Russia Will Pay ‘High Price’ for War
Ukrainian President Zelensky said Russia’s invasion in Ukraine will destroy the progress the Federation has made over the past two decades.
“I am confident that by attacking us, [Russia] they will destroy everything that Russian society has achieved over the past 25 years,” he said in a video address.
Zelensky said Russia will “will return to where they once began to rise from, as they say, to the ‘the wicked 90’s.'”
“But without freedom, without the creative desire of millions of people to work for the development of their state,” he added.
He promised Russia will may a price for its war against Ukraine.
“It will be a fall for them, a painful fall,” he said. “Unjust and aggressive war always has a high price for the aggressor.”
Greece Offers to Rebuild Maternity Hospital
Greece has offered to rebuild the destroyed maternity hospital in Mariupol.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the offer on Twitter, saying Mariupol is the center of the Greek minority in Ukraine.
He called Mariupol “a city dear to our hearts” and a “symbol of the barbarity of the war.”
Both the Ukrainian Parliament and the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslysya shared their appreciation to Greece.
“Thank you very much, dear Greek friends,” Kyslysya said in Twitter.
Putin Says Goal in Ukraine is to End ‘Genocide’
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at an event at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium to mark the eight anniversary of Russia’s seizure of Crimea.
Putin rallied support for the so-called “military operation” in Ukraine, telling the crowd the goal of the mission is to end “genocide.”
“To liberate people from this suffering, from the genocide, is the main inspiring motive of the military operation we started in Donbas and in Ukraine,” Putin said.
Putin spoke to a packed stadium where more than 200,000 Russian citizens cheered and waved Russian flags, according to officials.
“We know what we need to do, how to do it and at what cost. And we will absolutely accomplish all of our plans,” he said, pushing slogans such as “For a world without Nazism” and “For our president.”
The Kremlin also boasted about the high morale among Russian troops in Ukraine.
“Shoulder to shoulder, they help each other, support each other and when needed they shield each other from bullets with their bodies like brothers,” he said. “Such unity we have not had for a long time.”
Hundreds Remain Trapped Under Mariupol Theater, Zelensky Says
Ukrainian President Zelensky said rescue efforts are ongoing to pull survivors from the rubble of a bombed theater in Mariupol.
Zelensky said 130 people have been rescued so far.
There are still more than 1,300 survivors who remain trapped in the theater basement, officials report.
“Despite the shelling, despite all the difficulties, we will continue rescue work,” Zelensky said in a video address.
Biden Call with Xi Lasted Nearly Two Hours
President Biden has wrapped up his call with Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday morning.
The call lasted nearly two hours, according to the White House. It began at 9:03 a.m. and ended around 10:53 a.m.
According to a read out of the call from Chinese state media, President Xi told Biden the crisis in Ukraine “is not something we want to see.”
“As permanent members of the UN Security Council and the world’s two largest economies, we must not only lead the development of China-US relations down the correct path, but also shoulder our international responsibilities and make efforts for world peace and tranquillity,” the readout said.
Baltic Countries Expel 10 Russian Diplomats
Three Baltic countries have expelled Russia embassy staff in solidarity with Ukraine.
In total, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have ousted 10 Russian diplomats.
Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared four employees of the Russian Embassy as “persona non grata” for “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status” and ordered them to leave the country within five days.
“Lithuania made such a decision in solidarity with Ukraine, which has been facing the unprecedented Russian military aggression,” the Ministry said in a statement, adding that Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine also threatens the security of Lithuania.
Latvia and Estonia both ordered three members of the Russian Embassy staff to leave their respective countries.
The Estonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs said these employees “violated the Vienna Convention” and have “directly undermined Estonia’s security and spread propaganda justifying Russia’s illegal warfare.”
Latvia’s foreign minister said the employees were expelled due to their “connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status” amid Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine.
Bulgaria has also demanded the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats and declared them as “persona non grata.”
A note from the Bulgarian foreign ministry to Russia’s ambassador in Sofia said the diplomats are required to leave Bulgaria within 72 hours over their alleged involvement in “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status,” the Associated Press reported.
Stroller Demonstration Represents Number of Children Killed in Ukraine
A demonstration in Lviv shows the deadly impact of the war in Ukraine.
Outside of the Lviv city council building, 109 empty strollers were placed to represent the number of children killed in the attacks during Russia’s ongoing invasion in Ukraine.
Video: Broadcast of Putin’s Speech Breaks Off Mid Sentence
Russian TV audiences were treated to a rare spectacle on Friday, as President Vladimir Putin was interrupted mid-sentence in a live broadcast of a much-awaited speech.
Putin was speaking at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium to commemorate the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
Several clips of the president’s address to his supporters emerged on Twitter, Telegram and other platforms, showing the Russian leader delivering an impassioned speech about Crimea, and Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
“It just so happens that the starting date of our special military operation [in Ukraine], coincided with the birthday of one of our prominent military…” Putin begins, before the video abruptly cuts to a concert on the same stage, with a military choir singing “Forward, Russia!”
It is unclear what or who was behind the technical problems.
Russian police claim more than 200,000 are attending the pro-government event. Independent media accused Russian authorities of forcing state company workers to attend and online adverts that offered small fees for attendance.
Ukraine Holds ‘Substantive’ EU Membership Talks: Zelensky
President Volodymyr Zelensky says he has held “substantive” talks with European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc.
The Ukrainian leader said von der Leyen’s European Commission, which develops laws for EU member states, will share its opinion on Ukraine’s application “within a few months.”
In a Twitter post on Friday, Zelensky said they were “moving to our strategic goal together.”
Zelensky made an impassioned plea for Ukraine’s swift joining of the EU—something he has long advocated—on February 28, four days into the Russian invasion.
The European Commission welcomed the application, but some European leaders have expressed concern.
Breaking News: Poland Pushes NATO Peacekeeping Mission
Poland will ask NATO if it can send a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine in an attempt to step up the alliance’s involvement in the invasion by Russia.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday that Warsaw would make a formal submission to send a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine at the next NATO summit, Reuters reports.
Poland’s ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski first announced the idea of an armed peacekeeping mission during a trip to Kyiv on Tuesday.
However, NATO allies appear unconvinced of the idea. Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren on Friday said: “I’m afraid we’re still in too early stages to talk about that.”
We’ll bring you more as we get it.
McDonald’s Still Open in Russia, Despite Suspension
Multiple McDonald’s restaurants remain open in Russia, despite the company announcing it would temporarily close all of its diners there.
On March 8, McDonald’s said it would shutter all 847 restaurants there from March 14 in response to “needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine.”
However, the company told state-run Russian news outlet RIA Novosti on Friday that some restaurants remained open.
“A number of McDonald’s restaurants operating in Moscow on a franchising basis continue to provide services to visitors. In particular, restaurants have been opened at airports and at Leningradsky railway station, as well as MakExpress windows near Moscow metro stations,” McDonald’s communications department said.
Moscow24 and Lenta.ru also reported that branches in the capital remain open.
‘Sanctions on China Are Much More Significant’: U.S. Senator
Ahead of Joe Biden’s call with Chinese President Xi Jinping…
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has suggested the U.S. could hit China with fresh economic sanctions if Beijing provides support to Russia’s invasion.
The Democrat from Connecticut told MSBNC’s Morning Joe : “China is much more integrated with the rest of the world’s economy than Russia was, and so the effect of economic sanctions on China are much more significant.”
China has previously denied reports that Russia asked Beijing for military support in its war with Ukraine, accusing the U.S. of “spreading disinformation” with the claims.
Ukraine’s Zelensky to Address Japanese Lawmakers
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky will address Japanese lawmakers via video link next week, a member of the country’s House of Representatives says.
Taro Kono made the announcement on Twitter this morning.
Zelensky has previously addressed lawmakers in the U.S., Britain, Canada and Germany via video link.
Nobel Peace Prize for Volodymyr Zelensky?
That is very much in the thoughts of many European politicians.
Thirty-six from Netherlands, U.K., Germany, Sweden, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia have written to organizers, seeking an extension to the expired deadline for nominations to allow Ukraine’s president to be considered.
“It is our democratic duty to stand up to authoritarianism and to support a people fighting for democracy and their right to self-government,” the appeal read.
It said “brave Ukrainian men and women are fighting to preserve democracy and self-government ” and that people all over the country invaded by Russia on February 24 “are rising up to resist the forces of authoritarianism.
Amid Anti-War Protest Arrests, Some Russians Rally for Putin
After hundreds of Russians across the country were detained during protests against the Ukraine war, several pro-government rallies, approved by the local authorities, are taking place on Friday across the country.
As thousands of people have been shown streaming towards Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium and central areas of some other towns across the country, independent media outlets and watchdogs accused the Kremlin of pressuring large state-linked companies into forcing staff to attend.
Several telegram channels reported finding adverts on social media promising citizens payments between 300 rubles ($3) and 1,400 rubles ($12) to attend the pro-Putin gatherings.
An email, allegedly from the CEO of Gazprom, the state oil giant, calling on all staff to attend the pro-government rallies , was shared widely in recent days. A similar letter also emerged addressing the staff of Gazprom-Media, which owns several pro-Kremlin TV channels and news outlets, citing a similar request.
Newsweek is unable to independently corroborate their authenticity. The move is seen by some as an attempt by the Kremlin to rally support amid unprecedented pushback against its “special military operation” in Ukraine from prominent government officials, businessmen , public figures and ordinary citizens.
White House’s Jen Psaki: Putin’s War Not Going As Planned
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the war in Ukraine is not going how “President Putin planned for it to go.”
Asked at a press conference for her thoughts on Putin’s comments on purging anti-war opponents , Psaki told reporters “there has been an outpouring of courageous protests and and many speaking out against the war, even within Russia” indicating that nothing is going to plan.
Psaki stated that the Russians are facing “challenges” in the war such as “operations of equipment”, the amount of equipment available to them, and “food and other supplies.
South African President Appears To Blame NATO for Ukraine War
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa failed on Thursday to blame Russia for its invasion of Ukraine—instead appearing to blame NATO.
Addressing South African parliament on Friday, Ramaphosa said: “The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less, instability in the region.”
But he said South Africa “cannot condone the use of force and violation of international law”, seemingly referencing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“There are those who are insisting that we should take a very adversarial stance against Russia,” he said. “The approach we are going to take [instead] is…insisting that there should be dialogue.”
South Africa has strong economic ties to Russia. Russia’s state-owned energy agency Rostom said in September it remains interested in building nuclear plants there after the Rampahosa scrapped plans to buy a plant from Russia in 2019.
Video: Russia’s Ambassador to U.N Denies Theater Attack
This was Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, taking questions from reporters last night.
He was asked about a devastating explosions on Wednesday that hit a Mariupol theater, where local officials say hundreds were sheltering from Russian shelling.
“I’ve seen so many fakes we have this disinformation war which is raging,” he said.
The Kremlin has denied its forces were behind the destruction of the theater.
For three weeks, Mariupol has faced constant shelling by Russian forces.
Hear from some of the survivors from the theater…
What to Expect From Joe Biden and Xi Jinping’s Phone Call
U.S. President Joe Biden is due to hold a call with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, later today to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The two men are scheduled to speak at 9 a.m. ET on Friday.
They will “discuss managing the competition between the two countries as well as Russia’s war against Ukraine and other issues of mutual concern,” a White House statement said.
In a news briefing on Thursday ahead of the call, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Biden “will make clear that China will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russia’s aggression, and we will not hesitate to impose costs.” He did not elaborate on what to costs might be.
China “has a responsibility to use its influence with President Putin and to defend the international rules and principles that it professes to support”, Blinken added.
China has claimed to be neutral regarding the conflict but U.S. officials have been concerned that Beijing may directly support Moscow in its war efforts.
Officials in Washington said that Russia asked China for the military equipment and support for the war, which began on February 24.
Xi has forged a strong partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which has undermined U.S. dominance.
Downed Missile Lands on Kyiv Residential Building: Ukraine
A downed Russian missile has fallen on a five-storey residential building in a northern part of Kyiv, emergency services in Ukraine report.
One person was killed and four wounded by falling debris in the Podilskyi district, according to a Facebook post by Ukraine’s State Emergency Services.
It added that 12 people were rescued and 98 removed in an evacuation.
Photos posted online show firefighters battling to control fires at the site.
Russian Forces Are Suffering Shortages: Pentagon
Russian forces in Ukraine appear to be suffering from shortages, according to the Pentagon .
Russian advances largely remain stalled by Ukrainian forces’ determined resistance, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters in an update on Thursday.
Putin’s forces are “basically frozen around the country on multiple lines of axes, struggling to fuel themselves and to feed their troops and to supply them with arms and ammunition,” they said.
The senior official with the U.S. Department of Defense said that Russia appears to now be relying more on so-called “dumb” bombs than on precision-guided munitions in its full-scale offensive against Ukraine—something that could indicate Russia could be suffering shortages and sustainment issues.
Putin Blames Ukraine for Stalled Peace Talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier this morning…
In the phone call, Putin told Scholz that Ukrainian leaders are stalling ongoing peace talks with Russia, according to a readout released by the Kremlin.
“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,” it said.
“Nonetheless the Russian side is ready to continue searching for a solution in line with its well-known principled approaches.”
A German government spokesperson said that Scholz called for a ceasefire, in his nearly hour-long conversation with Putin.
Scholz highlighted that the humanitarian situation needed to be improved and a diplomatic solution should be found as soon as possible, it added.
China Calls on U.S., NATO ‘Not to Supply Ammunition’ to Ukraine
China’s foreign ministry has called for the United States and NATO countries “not to supply ammunition or add fuel to the flame” in Ukraine.
Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Western media should advise the U.S. and NATO to “sit down and build peace by talking with Europe, Russia and Ukraine.”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, he said China was focused on “peace talks and avoidance of a large-scale humanitarian crisis.”
China has begun a subtle damage control campaign after realizing how its refusal to condemn Russia is affecting its international image.
Here’s more from Newsweek ‘s contributing editor, Asia, John Feng…
Video: Russia and Ukraine Release Combat Footage
Two videos, which have not been independently verified, have recently been released by the Russian and Ukrainian ministries of defense.
Video released through by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense showed two Ukrainian fighters destroying a Russian military vehicle coming towards them.
The Ukrainians celebrate after they shoot the vehicle. “Strength tightened,” the ministry said in a Telegram post with the video.
Meanwhile, Russia said its footage showed attack drones striking “high-precision missile weapons on the armored vehicles” of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Ukrainian warehouses with weapons and ammunition.
In a Facebook post with the video, the ministry said the strikes were carried out from medium and low altitudes.
At least 579 Ukrainian civilians have been killed by Russian shelling in urban areas, according to the United Nations.
U.K. Bans Russian State-Backed TV Channel RT
Ofcom, the British media regulator, has revoked Russian-backed television channel RT’s license to broadcast in the U.K.
“We have done so on the basis that we do not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast license,” the media watchdog said in a statement, adding that the decision comes with immediate effect.
It also pointed to the “volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern,” citing RT’s poor compliance history, after it had to pay £200,000 in fines for previous breaches.
RT fired back on Friday, claiming that Ofcom was “nothing more than a tool of the British government, bending to its media-suppressing will.”
Russian media regulators’ are clamping down on Western TV channels, several of which have been blocked in the country over the past few weeks, including BBC World News, Deutsche Welle and U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe.
Four Missiles Strike Near Lviv, Two Shot Down: Ukraine
Ukraine’s western city of Lviv, a haven for many fleeing Russian forces’ shelling of cities, appears to have been targeted by missile strikes on Friday morning.
Ukraine’s military said Russian cruise missiles fired from the direction of the Black Sea, hit an aircraft repair plant near Lviv’s airport.
Six missiles were fired, with two destroyed by anti-aircraft defences, Ukraine’s air force said. There were no casualties after three blasts, city mayor Andriy Sadovy said on Telegram.
The city home to more than 700,000 and located about 50 miles from the border with Poland, a NATO member, has so far largely escaped attacks.
On Sunday, Russian missiles struck the Yavoriv military base , further west of the city and closer to the Polish border, killing 35 people.
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