• Wed. May 18th, 2022

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7 people, including child, are killed after Russians fired on an evacuation convoy

Seven people, including a child, were killed after Russian forces fired on an evacuation convoy attempting to flee the Ukrainian village of Peremoha, said the country’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection.

The agency said in a tweet Saturday that the convoy of women and children were traveling to the village of Gostroluchcha along an agreed “green” route when Russian forces began shooting at them. 

“The result of this brutal act – seven dead. One of them is a child. The exact number of wounded is currently unknown,” SSSCIP wrote. “After the shooting, the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to return to the village of Peremoha and did not let them out of the village.” 

SSSCIP said they have not been able to make contact with the survivors to provide aid. 

Russian oligarchs moving superyachts to safe locations to avoid confiscation because of sanctions

Roman Abramovich’s superyacht Solaris has been spotted in the small Adriatic Sea state of Montenegro.

The 55-year-old Abramovich is among several wealthy Russians sanctioned by Britain over their close links to the Kremlin following Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The 533-foot Solaris was seen on Saturday outside the Porto Montenegro marina in the coastal town of Tivat. Montenegrin Vijesti daily reported it has arrived from Barcelona.

There was no immediate comment from the Montenegrin authorities on the arrival of the $600-million vessel. The NATO country has joined Western sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Russian oligarchs in the past days have sought to move their superyachts to safe locations to avoid confiscation because of the sanctions. Authorities in Italy, France and other countries have impounded several luxury vessels.

Russian metals and petroleum magnate Roman Abramovich is believed to have bought or built at least seven of the world’s largest yachts, some of which he has since sold off to other oligarchs.

French officials said Putin gave no indication during call that he intends to stop war

PARIS — The office of French President Emmanuel Macron says his three-way call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin was “very frank and also difficult.”

French officials said the Russian leader gave no indication during the call Saturday lasting more than an hour that he intends to stop the fighting in Ukraine. European leaders are working on what they describe as a punishing new set of “massive” economic sanctions against Moscow in the hope of getting Putin to change his mind.

‘Think first about the children’: Pope Francis renews calls to end the war

Pope Francis on Saturday renewed calls to end the war in Ukraine, writing in a tweet that it is depriving children “of the hope for a dignified life.” 

“Never war! Think first about the children, about those who are deprived of the hope for a dignified life: dead or wounded children, orphans, children who play with the remnants of war,” he wrote in a translated tweet. “In the name of God, stop!”

Ukrainians stock up at gun stores as Russian attacks intensify

“I hope I don’t have to kill the Russian soldiers but if it will be needed, I’ll do it,” said Vasyl Slotylo, pictured examining a gun.
“I hope I don’t have to kill the Russian soldiers but if it will be needed, I’ll do it,” said Vasyl Slotylo, pictured examining a gun. Mark Ringo / NBC News

LVIV, Ukraine — Mounting fears after the Russian invasion are evident in the long lines outside gun stores, even in parts of Ukraine that have not been directly attacked. 

Some citizens who are not enlisted in the military have been looking to get their hands on their own firearms in the western city of Lyiv.

Ukraine relaxed its gun laws after the Russian invasion, giving civilians the right to use weapons to resist Russian aggression. 

“Now it seems like all of Ukraine wants to buy weapons to keep at weapons home in order to defend their families and themselves,” Zakhar Sluzhalyy, who runs a gun shop and firing range in Lviv told NBC News Friday. 

He estimated 70 to 80 percent of the stock at his store has been sold.

One customer, Vasyl Slotylo, 32, said he wanted “to feel safe” and protect his family. “I want to have the ability protect them from other people that are invading our country and our cities,” he said.  

“I hope I don’t have to kill the Russian soldiers but if it will be needed, I’ll do it,” Slotylo, a programmer, added.

Max Turyanskyy, also came to the store for accessories to the firearm he already has.

“Everyone is a soldier right now,” said the 26-year-old. “I am a civil soldier I would say, so I do what I can. I support my family. We are actually hosting people in my apartment from Kyiv and Kharkiv. We are all united, that’s what we should do.”

President Biden authorizes State Department to provide additional $200 million in aid to Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden is authorizing the State Department to provide additional aid to Ukraine of up to $200 million.

The funds would cover weapons as well as military services, education and training as Ukrainians seek to repel a Russian invasion.

The aid is part of broader U.S. support in the form of aid and sanctions. When Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that $1 billion in aid had been provided to Ukraine.

The ongoing warfare has led to additional support with Congress this week approving $13.6 billion in additional aid, a sum that includes $6.5 billion for the costs of sending troops and weapons to Eastern Europe and $6.8 billion for refugees and economic aid.

Biden plans to sign the spending bill with the additional aid when he receives it next week.

Zelenskyy says about 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers killed in fighting since start of invasion

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says about 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in fighting since the start of the Russian invasion.

Speaking at a news conference Saturday, Zelenskyy said it would take Russia to carpet-bomb the Ukrainian capital and kill its residents to take the city.

He added that “if that is their goal, let them come.”

Zelenskyy said that “if they carry out carpet bombings and wipe off the historic memory of the entire region, the history of Kyivan Rus, the history of Europe, they could enter Kyiv.”

Ukrainian President calls for release of Melitopol’s mayor Ivan Fedorov

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling for the release of Melitopol’s mayor, who was abducted by Russian forces. 

“I ask my partners to help in releasing the captive mayor of Melitopol,” Zelenskyy tweeted early Saturday after talks with leaders in Germany and France. “Prospects for peace talks also discussed. We must stop the aggressor together.” 

On Friday, Ukraine officials accused the Russian military of abducting Mayor Ivan Fedorov after “cynically accusing” him of “terrorism.” Video footage from the city of approximately 150,000 showed citizens blocking Russian forces from entering the city while yelling at them to, “Go home!” 

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said kidnapping Fedorov is a “war crime.”

Ukrainian family shot at checkpoint while trying to flee

KYIV, Ukraine — Tetyana Vlasenko was bleeding from 12 bullet wounds to her legs when she begged a Russian military officer nearby for help. His soldiers had opened fire on her family’s car, yet the officer was apologetic as the soldiers gave them first aid.

While she lay there seriously hurt, she recalls him saying, “I’m sorry for doing this but we have an order to shoot everything that is moving, and you cannot imagine how many cars like this we have full of Nazis who are trying to bomb us,” Tetyana, 42, told NBC News on Wednesday from her bed in Kyiv City Hospital 17.

Her husband, Roman, 50, and their daughter, Katherina, 16, were also hit in their legs. 

Read the full story here.

Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to upend Democrats’ election-year agenda

House Democrats gathered in Philadelphia this week to revive their flagging domestic agenda. They held closed-door strategy sessions about how to talk to voters about rising inflation, tackle the climate crisis and move forward on immigration reform and voting rights.   

But Russia’s bloody, televised war in Ukraine — and the humanitarian disaster that has followed — overshadowed Democrats’ annual winter conference. And the burgeoning crisis is threatening to upend the party’s midterm agenda as President Joe Biden and the Democrats seek to defend razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate.

The raging war and Biden’s decision to ban all Russian oil imports have driven U.S. gas prices to record highs, leaving Democrats struggling to craft a response to voters paying more at the pump and to Republicans seizing it as a wedge issue to hammer opponents.

Read the full story here.

March 12, 202201:04

French, German leaders demand cease-fire in call with Putin

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and urged him to agree to an “immediate cease-fire in Ukraine.”

The call lasted 75 minutes and was part of “ongoing international efforts to end the war in Ukraine,” Scholz’s office said in a statement Saturday.

It said the French and German leaders called on Putin to begin the process of finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Scholz spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier Saturday, his office added.

The Kremlin said that Putin briefed the two European leaders on the status of talks between Kyiv and Moscow. 

It also said that Putin responded to concerns raised by Macron and Scholz about the humanitarian situation by informing them “about the real state of affairs,” accusing Ukraine of being to blame for growing civilian suffering.

The French and German leaders have maintained contact with their Russian counterpart in the weeks since the invasion, hoping to keep diplomatic efforts going in spite of the escalating conflict.

Russian forces moving through outskirts of Kyiv, regional governor says

Fighting and shelling have worsened the humanitarian situation in the Kyiv region outside Ukraine’s capital city, its governor said Saturday.

Russian troops and equipment were moving through a number of districts, Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. 

He added that two people were killed by heavy shelling which also destroyed a military airfield and set an ammunition depot on fire overnight. NBC News has not verified the report of people killed.

Kuleba’s comments came as Ukrainian officials continued to try to evacuate civilians from a number of areas around the capital as Russian forces press towards the city.  

Zelenskyy praises protests demanding release of Melitopol mayor

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has backed protesters in the southern city of Melitopol who took the streets to demand the release of the city’s mayor. 

Ivan Fedorov was captured by Russian forces on Friday, Zelenskyy said in a video posted to his Telegram channel. NBC News has not verified this claim. 

Zelenskyy added that he was “grateful to every Melitopol citizen for this rebellion.” More than 2,000 people had joined the protest, he said.    

One of his aides also posted video of the protest outside the Melitopol District State Administration building.

Zelenskyy also called on world leaders for help to free Fedorov. 

First drought, now war: Global wheat supplies in peril

The pandemic already had food prices rising.

Now, Russia’s war in Ukraine — between two top wheat producers and in a region known as Europe’s breadbasket — has sent wheat prices soaring, raising the risk of severe food shortages and hunger in some regions of the globe and threatening to further ratchet up food prices in the United States.

The instability leaves many U.S. farmers, particularly those in the drought-stricken West, scrambling as costs soar for fuel, fertilizer and other key agricultural components.

Read the full story here.

Fire engulfs warehouse on the outkirts of Kyiv

Image: A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after shelling in Kyiv region
STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE / Reuters

Russia warns West’s weapons shipments to Ukraine ‘legitimate targets’

Russia has suggested it could try to destroy foreign shipments of weapons to Ukraine, branding them “legitimate targets.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also warned that the Kremlin had prepared retaliatory sanctions against the United States and its allies that would be made public soon.

“We have warned the United States that pumping Ukraine with weapons from a number of countries orchestrated by them is not just a dangerous move, but an action that turns the respective convoys into legitimate targets,” Ryabkov told Russia’s Channel 1 TV station. 

Proposals on security guarantees Russia demanded from the U.S. and NATO before its forces invaded Ukraine last month were no longer valid since the situation had changed completely, he added. 

But he said that the Kremlin was prepared to resume arms control talks with Washington.

Russian missile attacks destroy Ukrainian airbase near Kyiv

Russian forces have destroyed a Ukrainian military airfield near the capital, Kyiv.

“The airport in Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region has been completely destroyed,” Mayor Natalia Balasynovych said in a Facebook post early Saturday.  

She said that eight “enemy missiles” hit the airbase, as well as a nearby ammunition depot, as explosions and fighting raged around the capital.

Russia’s defense ministry also said it had destroyed the military airfield.

Russia warns sanctions could threaten International Space Station

Russia’s space agency has sent NASA and other international partners a letter demanding an end to sanctions, saying they could threaten the International Space Station.

In a tweet Saturday, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said the letter appealed to the space agencies of the United States, Canada and Europe to keep the space station operational.

He illustrated the appeal with a map showing the flight path of the ISS — and a potential fall zone that straddled much of the world but barely touched upon Russia.

Four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one European astronaut are currently on the space station.

Russia shelled mosque sheltering civilians in besieged Mariupol, Ukraine says

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of shelling a mosque that was sheltering more than 80 civilians in Mariupol, the besieged southern port city.

“The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian invaders,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Twitter Saturday.

“More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey,” it said.

Local officials have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in the city, which has been left without water, food, heat and medical supplies for more than a week while encircled and bombarded by Russian troops.

The city council said Friday that at least 1.582 people had died in 12 days under siege.

Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians and NBC News has not verified the death toll.

March 12, 202201:15

Ukraine launches fresh humanitarian corridor effort for Mariupol, other areas

Ukraine launched a fresh effort to open humanitarian corridors from several areas, including the besieged city of Mariupol where residents are trapped without water or food. 

Previous attempts have been disrupted by Russian shelling.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said in a video posted to Telegram that she hoped civilians could be evacuated from several cities, towns and villages that have faced heavy Russian bombardment.

The routes included one between Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia, with authorities once again hoping to get thousands of people out and aid into the strategic port city.

They also included a number of areas around Kyiv, where heavy fighting has been taking place as Russian forces step up their attempts to encircle the capital.

Russian forces around 15 miles from center of Kyiv, U.K. defense ministry says

Russian forces northwest of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv were around 15 miles from the city center and fighting was continuing, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said Saturday.

The British assessment said that a larger Russian column north of the city had dispersed, which might be part of an attempt to encircle it. It could also be an attempt to reduce vulnerability to counterattacks, the ministry said.

Elsewhere, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol remained encircled and continue to be shelled by Russian forces, the U.K. said. 

March 12, 202209:50

Over 600 Indian students stranded in Ukraine used social media to make it home

Hundreds of Indian students have made it home from Ukraine after being stranded at their schools for days with little food or water. Students from universities in Sumy and Odessa told NBC News that inaction from the Indian Embassy led them to take matters into their own hands. 

“We decided ourselves that we should leave,” Ovais Choudhary, a medical student at Odessa National University, said in an interview translated from Hindi. “The more you wait, the more critical and tense the situation becomes.”

Choudhary traveled with a group of 50 students who left their school housing on foot Feb. 24 as tanks rolled through Odessa. They all moved into a set of three apartments where they spent two sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do. 

Read the full story here

Shelling damages cancer hospital, Ukraine says

Ukrainian officials accused Russia damaging a cancer hospital and several residential buildings in the southern city of Mykolaiv with shelling from heavy artillery.

The hospital’s head doctor, Maksim Beznosenko, said several hundred patients were in the hospital during the attack but that no one was killed. The assault damaged the building and blew out windows.

Russian forces have stepped up their attacks on Mykolaiv, located 292 miles south of Kyiv, in an attempt to encircle the city.

Ukrainian and Western officials earlier accused Russia of shelling a maternity hospital in the southern city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Three people died in that attack.

More U.S. soldiers deploy to Europe to support NATO allies

SAVANNAH, Ga. — U.S. soldiers are continuing to deploy to Europe, joining thousands already sent overseas to support NATO allies amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

About 130 soldiers from the 87th Division Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Division Sustainment Brigade gathered Friday at Hunter Airfield in Savannah, Georgia and departed on a chartered flight.

The soldiers are in addition to the estimated 3,800 soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division who deployed recently from nearby Fort Stewart.

A division commander said that soldiers are being told to prepare for about six months overseas. The Pentagon has ordered roughly 12,000 total service members from various U.S. bases to Europe.

The soldiers’ mission is to train alongside military units of NATO allies in a display of force aimed at deterring further aggression by Russia. The Pentagon has stressed U.S. forces are not being deployed to fight in Ukraine.