Ukraine war: Russia accused of ‘executions, torture, reckless shootings’ in Amnesty report

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This photo from April 12 shows Nadiya Trubchaninova, 70, next to a bag containing the body of her son Vadym Trubchaninov, 48, killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha on March 30.

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The United Nations says a third operation is underway to evacuate civilians from Mariupol’s besieged steel plant and the city.

Poland’s prime minister has told Euronews Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal” committing “genocide” in Ukraine, warning the EU against “business as usual” with Russia.

Follow the latest updates in the live blog below and watch our TV coverage in the video player above.

06:55

Friday’s key points:

    Amnesty International has investigated atrocities near Kyiv and accuses Russian forces of “extrajudicial executions”, “torture” and “reckless shootings”. The human rights group’s report calls for all responsible, “including up the chain of command”, to face justice.Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday the EU’s proposed ban on Russian oil imports would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy.The UN confirmed to Euronews that a “safe passage operation” was under way in Mariupol “in coordination with the parties to the conflict”, to allow civilians to leave the steelworks besieged by Russian troops.Ukraine’s military said on Friday the Russian assault on the Azovstal plant was continuing “in some areas”, along with the ongoing blockade.Vladimir Putin said on Thursday night the Russian army was “always ready” to ensure civilian evacuations — adding that Ukrainian fighters should surrender. Moscow had pledged earlier to open a three-day humanitarian corridor from the Mariupol plant. President Zelenskyy has described a “catastrophic” lack of access to medical services and medicine in areas of the country under Russian occupation, in his nightly video address.The European Union must not resume “business as usual” with Russia as long as he remains in power, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Euronews in an exclusive interview.

17:08

How war is hitting Ukraine’s farmers and threatening world food supplies

Ukraine, dubbed Europe’s breadbasket, is one of the largest exporters of corn, wheat and oats to the European Union.

But the war is having a huge impact on the country’s farmers.

Beyond the destruction of agricultural land, Russia’s blocking of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports means grains can only be shipped out of the country by rail or road.

Read the full story here.
 

A combine harvests barley in a field near the village of Zhovtneve, Ukraine – Copyright Credit: Valentyn Ogirenko/REUTERS

16:20

Ukraine’s president invites German leaders on May 9

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has invited German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to visit Ukraine on May 9, the day Russia marks the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the Victory Day holiday to make an announcement about the war — either declaring a victory or escalating the conflict.

Scholz has yet to make a solidarity visit to the country. Scholz has traded barbs with Ukrainian officials in recent weeks because of Kyiv’s refusal to invite Steinmeier, whom Ukraine accuses of cosying up to Russia during his time as foreign minister.

Speaking at London’s Chatham House think-tank on Friday, Zelenskyy said he had spoken to Steinmeier and invited both him and Scholz to come to Kyiv.

He said Scholz “can make this very powerful political step to come here on the 9th of May, to Kyiv.”

(AP)

14:17

Amnesty report calls for Russia to face war crimes justice

Amnesty International says it has documented extensive war crimes by Russian forces in communities around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, including arbitrary executions, bombardments of residences and torture.

“The pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces that we have documented includes both unlawful attacks and willful killings of civilians,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said in a statement on Friday.

“It is vital that all those responsible, including up the chain of command, are brought to justice.”

The organisation said it collected evidence and testimony in eight cities near Kyiv, including Bucha, where bodies were found lying in the streets in the immediate aftermath of the Russian withdrawal. 

Amnesty International’s report details numerous Russian atrocities, including:

    The shooting in Bucha of Yevhen Petrashenko, a 43-year-old sales manager, who was shot in his kitchen while his wife and children were hiding in the basement.His neighbour Leonid Bodnarchuk, a 44-year-old construction worker, shot dead as he climbed the stairs by Russian soldiers, who then threw a grenade into the stairwell.The executions in Bucha were carried out with specialised rifles used by some elite Russian units, the report said. Indiscriminate bombardment in Borodianka that killed at least 40 people and destroyed eight residential buildings.The report says researchers found evidence documenting specific units of the Russian army that were involved.

On Thursday the UN’s human rights chief Michele Bachelet detailed “increasing” human rights abuses since the Russian invasion, including summary executions, arbitrary detentions and “possible enforced disappearances” (see earlier post).

(with AP)

13:47

Nuclear weapons ‘must not be unleashed’, says Moscow

Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated on Friday that Russia does not intend to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“We have repeatedly had to refute insinuations about Russia’s possible use of nuclear weapons during the special military operation in Ukraine – this is a deliberate lie,” foreign ministry spokesman  Aleksey Zaitsev told a weekly news briefing.

“Russia firmly adheres to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it must not be unleashed.”

Days after Russia’s invasion in late February, Vladimir Putin ordered his military commanders to put the country’s strategic nuclear forces on special alert.

Western analysts have questioned whether the failure of his forces on the ground may prompt him to resort to a “tactical” nuclear strike in Ukraine.

Amid increasingly virulent anti-Western rhetoric on Russian state television, commentators have openly evoked potential nuclear strikes against other European countries.

(Euronews, AP)

13:15

G7 to discuss ‘situation in Ukraine’ on Sunday, Zelenskyy invited

The G7 leaders will hold a virtual meeting on Sunday to discuss the war in Ukraine, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a spokeswoman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

“8 May is a historic date marking the end of World War II in Europe, which brought terror, destruction and death to Europe,” spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said at a press conference on Friday, stating that with the current war in Ukraine “the cohesion of the G7 is more important than ever”.

Germany holds the G7 presidency this year.

This meeting, the third since the beginning of the year, will be devoted “to the situation in Ukraine in particular,” Hoffmann said, without further details.

US President Joe Biden had already announced a meeting this week of the G7 group, without giving a precise date, on possible additional sanctions against Russia.

“We are always open to additional sanctions,” he said Wednesday at the White House, adding that he would discuss with G7 members “what we will and will not do”.

The G7 group of wealthy countries includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US.

11:35

Orban ‘will not allow’ EU to sanction Russian Orthodox Church leader

Orban also protested against the inclusion in the EU’s sanctions package of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, a vocal supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We will not allow church leaders to be put on a sanctions list,” he said in Friday’s radio interview in which he strongly criticised the proposed EU embargo on Russian oil (see previous blog post).

Read more here:

Orban criticises EU plans to sanction head of Russian Orthodox Church

Patriarch Kirill’s support of Putin and the war has already drawn condemnation with Pope Francis warning him not to become “Putin’s altar boy”. #EuropeDecoded

10:41

Brussels crossed ‘red line’ with Russian oil embargo — Orban

Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that Brussels had crossed a “red line” in wanting to ban Russian oil imports and “undermined” the European unity displayed since the start of the war in Ukraine.

“Commission President Ursula von der Leyen “has deliberately or not attacked European unity,” he said in a radio interview. “From the beginning we have made it clear that there is a red line, namely the energy embargo. They have crossed that line.”

Orban said the European Commission’s current proposal banning Russian oil imports would amount to an “atomic bomb” dropped on the Hungarian economy, adding that Hungary was ready to negotiate if it sees a new proposal that would meet Hungarian interests.

The EU proposal to be put to member states, as unveiled by von der Leyen on Wednesday, involves imposing an EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports, to be phased out by the end of the year.

Hungary and Slovakia, both countries which are highly dependent on Russian pipeline oil, have pushed to be granted extra time to complete the phase-out. 

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday that Hungary’s energy supply “would be completely destroyed” by the EU’s plan. Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told CNN that the minimum phase-out period for Hungary would be “three to five years”.

(Euronews with AFP, AP, Reuters)

Read the full story from Euronews Brussels Bureau here:

Russian oil ban plans like ‘dropping atomic bomb on Hungary’s economy’

euronewsHungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are among the most sceptical over EU plans to ban Russian oil imports. #EuropeNews

10:10

‘500 civilians evacuated’ from Mariupol this week

Ukrainian authorities said on Friday that nearly 500 civilians have been taken to safety from the besieged and bombarded southeastern city, and that the evacuations were continuing on Friday.

“We have managed to evacuate almost 500 civilians” since the start of this “difficult” operation organised by the UN, the head of the president’s office Andriy Yermak said on Telegram. “Ukraine will continue to do everything possible to save all civilians and military personnel” trapped in Azovstal, he said.

The UN-led evacuations, which began last weekend, were due to continue on Friday from the huge steel plant, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in this strategic port in southern Donbas, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told AFP.

The UN, in association with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), announced on Thursday afternoon that it had sent a new convoy to Azovstal, where hundreds of soldiers, many of them wounded, and some 200 civilians still remain, according to the local authority.  

“Today we are focusing on Azovstal,” Verechtchouk said. “The operation is starting now. We pray for its success,” she added.

On Thursday evening, she said Marioupol residents were being called to gather at 1000 GMT (1200 CET) in front of a Marioupol shopping centre to be evacuated.

(AFP)

09:37

Germany to send seven howitzers to Ukraine

Germany will deliver seven self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, on top of five howitzers the Dutch already pledged, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Friday.

The training of Ukrainian troops on the artillery weapons can start next week in Germany, she told reporters in the Slovak town Sliac where she was supposed to meet her Dutch counterpart later today.

The move follows the approval of a delivery of “Gepard” anti-aircraft tanks in late April, as the German parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons.

(with Reuters)

For a summary of Thursday’s developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine, click here.

Additional sources • Reuters

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