Russia-Ukraine war: No one can predict length of war, says Zelenskyy. Top updates
“This will depend, unfortunately, not only on our people, who are already giving their maximum," he said in his nightly video address to the nation. “This will depend on our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world." Additionally, Zelenskyy said he was thankful to all those who are working to strengthen the sanctions on Russia and increase military and financial support to Ukraine.
Here are the top updates on Russia-Ukraine war:
- Ukraine President Zelenskyy said that Ukraine on Friday shot down the 200th Russian aircraft of the war and he noted Russia's heavy losses in tanks, armoured vehicles, helicopters and drones. Zelenskyy said Ukraine was engaged in “very difficult negotiations" to try to evacuate the wounded fighters trapped in the Mariupol steelworks. Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces have retaken towns and villages from Russian troops. He said work was underway to restore electricity, running water, telephone communications and social services.
- The United States is again accusing Russia of using the U.N. Security Council to spout disinformation and conspiracy theories about biological weapons in Ukraine to distract from its brutal war against its smaller neighbor. U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills warned the council Friday that Moscow's actions follow a pattern of accusing others of violations it has perpetrated or intends to perpetrate, adding that they need to be watched closely “for the possibility of a false flag chemical or biological attack by Russia's forces."
- Meanwhile, Italy will hold a ministerial level meeting next month involving fellow Mediterranean countries in an effort to head off a food crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.
- Ukraine is one of the world's largest exporters of grains, including to Eritrea and northern Africa. Ukrainian officials have said there are tons of grain in silos that normally would be exported on vessels in the Black Sea but that Russian attacks on southern Ukraine have made shipments by that route impossible.
- US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu on Friday, marking the highest level American contact since the war began in late February. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Austin “urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication." Kirby provided no other details of the call.
- Notably, a 21-year-old Russian soldier went on trial Friday in Kyiv for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, marking the first war crime prosecution of a member of the Russian military from 11 weeks of bloodshed in Ukraine. The soldier, a captured member of a tank unit, is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka during the first days of the war.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone, the first time the two have spoken since late March. The 75-minute call on Friday “focused on the ongoing war in Ukraine and efforts to end it," according to German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. Scholz urged Putin to reach a ceasefire agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible and to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground, he said
- It is important to note that Russia's aggression in Ukraine prompted Finland and Sweden to reconsider their traditions of military nonalignment. Public opinion in the two countries quickly started to shift toward favoring NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
- Should the two countries proceed on that path, it would represent a blow to Russia since President Vladimir Putin cited NATO's expansion near Russian territory as one of his justifications for invading Ukraine.
- Britain has added Russian President Vladimir Putin's ex-wife and his alleged girlfriend to its sanctions list over the invasion of Ukraine. The British government says its latest asset freezes and travel bans target the “shady network" of friends and allies who “owe Putin their wealth and power, and in turn support Putin and his war machine."
(With inputs from agencies)