Ukraine war: UN votes in favour of suspending Russia from Human Rights Council

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An elderly woman walks by an apartment building destroyed in the Russian shelling in Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking on a new dimension with growing evidence of human rights atrocities by Vladimir Putin’s troops, accused of killing civilians in cold blood as they retreated from the Kyiv region.

Despite Moscow denying the accusations, there are fears similar massacres could be discovered in the coming days.

Ukraine is calling for more weapons from NATO and stronger Western sanctions against Russia.

Follow our latest updates from the war in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player, above.


Thursday’s key points:

    United Nations countries voted 93-24 in favour of suspending Russia’s membership in the international body’s Human Rights Council due to the allegations of a string of rights violations by its soldiers in Ukraine.”Heated” discussions have been underway among EU national representatives over a fifth package of sanctions against Russia, Euronews understands. The European Commission has proposed a halt to Russian coal imports and a bar on Russian ships in EU ports.The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the imposition of a “total and immediate” embargo on imports of “oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas” from Russia.Failure to agree an embargo on Russian oil is costing Ukrainian lives, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy said in his latest address. He also accused Russia of trying to hide evidence of war crimes to interfere with an international investigation.’Weapons, weapons, weapons’: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on NATO to provide Kyiv with all the weaponry it needs to fight Russia, as alliance ambassadors meet for a second day in Brussels.Ukrainian officials have been urging residents of eastern regions to evacuate in the face of an impending Russian offensive. Authorities say nearly 5,000 people were evacuated from combat areas on Wednesday.Ukraine has accused Hungary of “helping Putin” in the war by undermining EU unity. Meanwhile France’s President Macron has responded angrily to criticism by Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki of his dialogue with Vladimir Putin.A new report by Meta details a troubling increase in social media disinformation this year, with groups linked to the Kremlin spreading a false narrative about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Croatian foreign minister says western countries ‘cannot allow the killings of civilians to go unpunished’

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman said on Thursday that western countries could not allow the killing of civilians to go unpunished.

“We must show our strength. We talk here about rights and the world order which the Russian side has trampled on, about the principles and all the values on which the world order is based. We cannot allow the killings of civilians to go unpunished. We have to stand up and protect our values,” he said.

He spoke during a meeting of G7 foreign ministers to discuss sanctions against Russia.

Radman said that foreign ministers strongly condemned Russian aggression in Bucha and other areas of Ukraine.

(with AP)


EU countries agree on Russian coal embargo

Representatives from the 27 EU member states agreed on Thursday on a Russian coal embargo as part of a fifth round of sanctions against Russia as evidence builds that Russian soldiers executed civilians in the areas outside of Kyiv.

The package of sanctions was approved by the EU’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, the French EU Council presidency said in a tweet.

It includes sanctions against oligarchs and the freezing of assets of several Russian banks.

There will also be a ban on coal imports from Russia, an arms embargo, and a ban on exports to Russia.

Read the full story here.


Mariupol: pro-Russian authorities announce ‘about 5,000’ civilians killed and ‘60% to 70%’ of homes destroyed

The “new mayor” proclaimed by the pro-Russian forces in Mariupol announced on Thursday that “about 5,000 people” had died among the civilian population of this Ukrainian city, besieged for weeks by the Russian army and its separatist allies.

“About 60 to 70% of the housing stock has been destroyed or partially destroyed,” added Konstantin Ivashchenko, appointed head of the city on Wednesday by Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk separatists.

Ukrainian authorities have said that around 90% of the city has been destroyed. The port city is strategically located for Russia as it would create a land corridor to the Crimea peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.



Russian forces executed civilians in ‘apparent war crimes,’ Amnesty report says, citing new testimony from 20 people near Kyiv

Russian military forces “extrajudicial executed civilians in Ukraine in apparent war crimes,” Amnesty International said as it published new testimony from civilians in villages close to the capital Kyiv.

“In recent weeks, we have gathered evidence that Russian forces have committed extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, which must be investigated as likely war crimes,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.

“Testimonies show that unarmed civilians in Ukraine are being killed in their homes and streets in acts of unspeakable cruelty and shocking brutality.”

Several Ukrainians cited by Amnesty International said they had seen civilians, including several unarmed family members and a city mayor delivering food and medication to bomb shelters, being shot and killed by Russian forces.

One 18-year-old woman said her father had six large holes in his back. Amnesty also interviewed a woman in a village east of Kyiv who said Russian soldiers killed her husband and raped her at gunpoint.


‘Inflicting atrocities’ were part of ‘game plan all along’ in Ukraine: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that inflicting “atrocities” in Ukraine was part of Russia’s “game plan all along” during a press briefing after a meeting of foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels.

“For every Bucha there are many more towns Russia has occupied and more towns that it is still occupying, places where we must assume Russian soldiers are committing more atrocities right now,” Blinken told journalists after meeting foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels.

He said the US had warned ahead of Russia’s invasion that part of the Kremlin’s “campaign plan was to inflict atrocities, was to target individuals, was to commit the kinds of crimes that we’re now seeing to terrorise civilian populations.”

“And so this, as we saw it, was part of the game plan all along,” he said.

“We’ve seen as the Ukrainians have pushed back this Russian tide, we see with the tide receding, what’s left behind, and that is horrific death and destruction.”

Blinken met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who was in Brussels pushing NATO members for more heavy weaponry ahead of a feared major Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region.



Belarus wants to be included in negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is calling for his country to be included in negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine.

“There can be no negotiations without the participation of Belarus,” Lukashenko said at a meeting Thursday of his national security council. “There can be no separate agreements behind the back of Belarus.”

Russia has launched missile attacks on Ukraine from Belarus and Russian troops invaded Ukraine from Belarus. There has been no confirmation of claims that Belarusian forces entered Ukraine.



UK to build more nuclear power plans to help reduce its dependence on Russian energy

The UK will build more nuclear power plants, invest in renewable energy and further tap domestic oil and gas reserves to reduce the country’s dependence on Russian energy.

The UK plans to build eight new nuclear reactors by 2030 and increase the production of electricity from offshore wind farms 10-fold.

The government also announced a new round of licensing for oil and gas projects in the North Sea, saying these fuels would be key to UK energy security and as a transition to low-carbon renewable energy. Other elements include promoting solar power and increasing hydrogen production for use in fuel cells.

“This is a massively green strategy,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the government saying that the strategy “could see 95% of electricity by 2030 being low carbon.”

(with AP)


US bans exports to three Russian airlines

The US moved to choke off US exports to three Russian airlines on Thursday as part of what officials described as an unprecedented enforcement action.

The Commerce Department said the move would prevent the Russian national flag carrier Aeroflot, Utair and Azur Air from receiving items from the US, including parts to service their aircraft.

Matthew Axelrod, an assistant commerce secretary for export enforcement, told reporters the sanctioned airlines will largely be unable to continue to fly since they will be cut off from the parts and services needed to maintain their fleets.

The actions, known as temporary denial orders, do allow the Commerce Department to grant exceptions when the safety of a flight would be at risk. The orders extend for 180 days, though they can be renewed.



UN members voted in favour of suspending Russia from Human Rights Council

The UN General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia from its leading human rights body over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, considered to be tantamount to war crimes.

Russia is the second country to have its membership rights stripped at the Human Rights Council, which was established in 2006. In 2011, the assembly suspended Libya when upheaval in the North African country brought down longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The vote on Thursday was 93-24 with 58 abstentions. That is significantly lower than votes on two resolutions the assembly adopted last month demanding an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians. Both resolutions were approved by at least 140 nations.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield launched the campaign to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council in the wake of videos and photos of streets in the Ukrainian town of Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians after Russian soldiers retreated.

The deaths have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions against the Kremlin, which has denied its troops were responsible.


For a summary of Wednesday’s developments, click here.


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