- EU members OK embargo on Russian coal
- UN suspends Russia from Human Rights Council
- NATO foreign ministers agree more weapons systems for Ukraine
- US says war in Ukraine will have "enormous" global economic impact
- Zelenskyy says Russia trying to cover up war crimes
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Microsoft says it disrupted Russian hacks
US tech giant Microsoft claims to have disrupted hacking attempts by Russian military spies.
The spies were attempting to break into Ukrainian, EU and US targets, according to the company. Microsoft attributes to the attacks to a group it calls "Strontium."
In a blog post on Microsoft's website, the firm said that a group was using internet domains in an effort to spy on US and EU government bodies and think tanks, as well as a number of Ukrainian institutions including media organizations. Microsoft did not provide further details on who the targets were.
Microsoft said that it was taking legal and technical action to seize control of domains controlled by Strontium, and had obtained a court order that allowed it to take over seven domains on April 6.
Around 2.55 million have fled to Poland from Ukraine
Around 2.55 million people fleeing Ukraine have taken refuge in Poland since the start of the Russian invasion according to Poland's border guard.
Poland's border guard said that 23,400 refugees were registered on Wednesday alone.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the government has provided 500 million zlotys (€108 million, $117 million) to help local municipalities take in refugees.
There is currently no information on how many refugees have stayed in Poland and how many have traveled onward to other EU countries.
According to Poland's border guard, 502,000 people have crossed the border toward Ukraine since the start of the war. Motives for returning included joining Ukrainian forces to fight the invasion and taking care of relatives in need.
Scene at Borodyanka 'much more horrific' than Bucha — Zelenskyy
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation at the town of Borodyanka outside Kyiv is worse than the discoveries made at the town of Bucha.
"They have started sorting through the ruins in Borodyanka," Zelenskyy said in his daily national address. "It's much more horrific there, there are even more victims of Russian occupiers."
Invading Russian forces pulled out of the region around a week ago. Ukraine has accused Russia of committing atrocities in the areas troops occupied. Moscow has denied that its troops are targeting civilians and claims images of dead civilians have been staged.
Germany will need full 120 day period to implement coal ban — Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the country would need to use the full transition period in order to implement a ban on Russian coal.
EU leaders agreed that a fifth package of sanctions should include an embargo on coal and that there would be a 120 day window in which member states would need to find alternative sources.
EU agrees new sanctions package, including on coal
The currently French presidency of the European Council said late on Thursday that the bloc's latest sanctions package has been given the political green light.
The main preparatory body comprised of each member's EU representatives, known as Coreper, approved of what would be the fifth EU package of sanctions, including a stop to coal imports from Russia.
The package will be implemented once it is published in the EU's official journal, which is expected to happen on Friday.
The package includes an EU embargo on Russian coal imports, as well as an import ban on Russian wood and vodka.
Once implemented, it would be the bloc's first sanctions package to majorly target Moscow's energy industry.
The measures all short of a total ban on Russian fossil fuel imports, but EU officials said it could follow if Moscow maintains its assault.
Peskov acknowledges Russia's significant losses in Ukraine
In an interview with the British TV channel Sky News, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that Russia had suffered significant losses in Ukraine.
"We have significant losses of troops and it's a huge tragedy for us," Peskov said, without giving figures.
In late March, Russia said it had lost 1,351 soldiers with another 3,825 wounded.
However, NATO has issued far higher casualty estimates for Russia.
The Kremlin spokesman also rejected allegations of a massacre in the town of Bucha as "a well-staged insinuation."
Peskov also continued to refuse using designations such as war and invasion, referring to the conflict as a "special military operation." However, he did acknowledge "it is a very serious operation with quite heavy consequences, yes," when pressed on the issue.
Zelenskyy thanks Cyprus for blocking Russian warships
Addressing the parliament of Cyprus, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the Cypriot authorities for their decision not to allow Russian warships into ports.
"You have made a strong decision not to allow Russian warships into your ports. It really strengthens security throughout our region," Zelenskyy said.
He also thanked the Cypriots for providing financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, as well as for the resolution adopted by the parliament of the country in support of Ukraine.
Cyprus was the latest parliament to be addressed by the Ukrainian leader, who has made repeated appeals for aid to Western parliaments in recent weeks. He also spoke to the German Bundestag in March.
Blinken: 'More and more credible reports' of rape and torture
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there is growing evidence of "atrocities" by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
Speaking at the end of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, Blinken said there are "more and more credible reports of rape, killings and torture."
He added that Washington is working to secure the evidence and documentation "to ensure people are held accountable for their crimes."
Washington's top diplomat added that the deaths of civilians in Bucha and elsewhere have horrified NATO members.
"The revulsion at what the Russian government is doing is palpable," said Blinken.
UN votes to exclude Russia from Human Rights Council
Following a debate, a majority of the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Moscow from the body's Human Rights Council.
Some 93 members voted in favor of suspending Russia, while 24 voted against. Another 58 members abstained.
Earlier on Thursday, G7 foreign ministers backed the move — while Russia and its allies staunchly opposed it.
DW is covering the debate and vote here.
Bucha mayor: Majority of dead have 'bullet wounds, not shrapnel wounds'
In an interview with DW, Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said the number of civilians found dead in his city is growing every day.
According to the mayor, almost 90% of those killed have "bullet wounds, not shrapnel wounds."
"There were 50,000 residents in Bucha [before the war. - Ed.]. As of today, 3,700 people live in Bucha, but the number of people is slowly growing," the mayor said.
The killings in Bucha, a town near Kyiv, have sparked global outrage. After the retreat of Russian troops, more than 300 corpses were found in the streets and houses, as well as in three mass graves.
You can read the full interview with DW HERE.
NATO's pledges additional support for Ukraine
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said members agreed to boost weapons supplies for Ukraine.
The members of the trans-Atlantic military alliance have agreed to provide Ukraine with a range of weapon systems. The announcement came at the end of a meeting with NATO foreign ministers and Ukraine's foreign minister in Brussels.
For more on the NATO press conference, follow our coverage here.
Facebook looking into 'misinformation and hoaxes' from Russian government
Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, said it uncovered hacking campaigns and scam operations related to the war in Ukraine.
In a new report, the social media giant said there has been a surge in content related to Russia's invasion — with Moscow and its allies playing a major role in spreading disinformation and propaganda.
"We're constantly reviewing our policies based on the evolving situation on the ground and we are actively now reviewing additional steps to address misinformation and hoaxes coming from Russian government pages," said Nick Clegg, Meta's president of global affairs.
In one instance outlined in the report, hackers aligned with Russia broke into social media accounts of numerous Ukrainian military officers. The hackers attempted to upload videos of Ukrainian troops surrendering when the plot was uncovered.
Dnipro mayor recommends evacuating women, children and the elderly
The mayor of Ukrainian city Dnipro, Boris Filatov, called for women, children and the elderly to leave the city — as well as those not involved in industrial enterprises and critical infrastructure. He also asked the residents of Dnipro who had already left the city not to return yet.
According to Filatov, the situation in eastern Ukraine was getting worse. On Thursday, deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called for the evacuation of residents in the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv regions.
Dnipro is a strategically important Ukrainian city with a population of almost 1 million on the river Dnieper. It is a major industrial center and an important transport and communications hub, located west of the Donetsk region.
France summons Russian ambassador over Bucha tweet
The French Foreign Ministry summoned Russia's ambassador on Thursday over a post on Twitter implying that the civilian deaths in Bucha were staged.
The Russian Embassy tweet, which was since been deleted, showed a picture of Bucha with a destroyed tank and several journalists with cameras. The caption read: "Film set, Bucha town."
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned the post, calling it "indecent" and a "provocation."
The images of civilians killed in Bucha and the accounts from survivors have sparked international outrage. Local officials say over 300 people were killed, including around 50 who were executed.
WHO prepares for war in Ukraine to get worse
The World Health Organization said there were "no assurances that the war will not get worse."
Speaking in Lviv in western Ukraine, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said his organization is helping authorities prepare for all eventualities.
"WHO is considering all scenarios and making contingencies for different situations that could affect the people of Ukraine from the continued treatment of mass casualties to chemical assaults," Kluge said.
However, the WHO's incident manager in Ukraine, Heather Papowitz, said the health body was more concerned about people "dying from common causes."
"The worst-case scenario really is what we are seeing now, which is the lack of access to health care and the trauma," she said.
The WHO has confirmed 91 attacks on health care providers, including ambulances and hospitals.
The UN's health agency again called on Russia to immediately declare a ceasefire, "which includes unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need."
Lavrov accuses Ukraine of undermining peace talks
In comments published by Interfax news agency, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine has presented Moscow a draft peace deal that was different from the agreements reached in Istanbul on March 29.
According to Lavrov: "In the Istanbul document, the Ukrainians clearly stated that the future security guarantees of Ukraine do not apply to Crimea and Sevastopol. Yesterday's draft lacks this clear statement."
However, Russia would continue talks and press to secure its own requirements "despite all provocations," the minister said.
Lavrov also accused Kyiv of drawing out and undermining peace talks. According to the Russian foreign minister, the reason is the West's desire to "push the Ukrainian side to continue hostilities."
Zelenskyy calls on Greece to help save the residents of Mariupol
In his address to Greek lawmakers, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Greece to organize a humanitarian mission to rescue the remaining population of "martyred" Mariupol, the besieged city in the South of Ukraine.
"The city needs humanitarian aid, rescue of the survivors and the wounded residents. Russia has been blocking Mariupol since beginning of March. On land and at sea," he said. "Basic humanitarian goods are not allowed there. I am convinced that the strength of Greece can help carry out this mission."
Zelenskyy also called on the West to "bring Russia to justice," saying Moscow's actions were directed not only against Ukraine but also Europe.
"Once and for all, we can teach Russia and any other potential aggressors that those who choose war always lose," Zelenskyy said. "Those who blackmail Europe with economic and energy crisis always lose."
The Ukrainian leader also reiterated calls for stronger bans on Russian banks and tankers.
Earlier Thursday, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Athens would call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe "crimes of war" in the port city.
"Greece has a specific, special interest for Mariupol because of the existence of a 100,000 and more Greek community in Mariupol," he said.
G7 condemn 'atrocities committed by Russian forces'
G7 foreign ministers condemned "in the strongest terms the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and a number of other Ukrainian towns."
They met Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers' meeting on Thursday in Brussels.
In a joint statement, the group said those responsible would be held to account.
"Haunting images of civilian deaths, victims of torture, and apparent executions, as well as reports of sexual violence and destruction of civilian infrastructure show the true face of Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and its people," the ministers said.
They added that they support ongoing investigations into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"We are convinced that now is the time to suspend Russian membership of the [UN] Human Rights Council," the G7 statement added.
Germany's Foreign Ministry said earlier that the G7 was ready to provide further assistance to Ukraine, including military equipment and financial support.
German politicians file war crimes complaint against Russia
Two former German government ministers have submitted a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors seeking the opening of a war crimes probe against Russian officials.
German laws include aspects of universal jurisdiction, that allows serious crimes committed in one country to be tried elsewhere.
"Everyone who participates in these crimes must know that they are liable to prosecution," former Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and former Interior Minister Gerhart Baum said.
They are specifically targeting President Vladimir Putin, members of his security council and members of the Russian military.
The crimes detailed in the complaint range from the attack on a nuclear power plant to the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, said lawyer Nikolaos Gazeas, who compiled the 140-page criminal complaint on behalf of the politicians.
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have also launched an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine.
Kremlin says US weapons won't help secure peace in Ukraine
The Kremlin condemned the US decision to provide military assistance to Ukraine, saying it would damage the chances of successful peace talks.
"Pumping weapons into Ukraine will not contribute to the success of Russian-Ukrainian talks," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
The United States has committed more than $1.7 billion (€1.56 billion) in security assistance to Kyiv since Russia invaded Ukraine, the State Department said on Tuesday.
On Thursday, the Pentagon said a small number of Ukrainians have been trained in the US on how to operate killer "Switchblade" drones.
The single-use weapons fly into their targets and detonate on impact.
Floating mines in the Black Sea cause concern
Defense ministers from Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Romania and Ukraine discussed mines drifting in the Black Sea, Turkey's Defense Ministry said.
"Aside from the mines, the importance of cooperation in the Black Sea for peace, calm and stability was emphasised," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Russia was notably absent from the virtual meeting.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Turkey has detonated three separate floating naval mines while Romania has also defused a stray mine in its waters.
Turkey’s government had said previously that it was in contact with both Moscow and Kyiv about the weapons.
An international treaty prohibits countries from laying unanchored mines.
Report: German spies intercepted Russian transmissions about Bucha killings
Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, has intercepted radio transmissions from Russian military officers in which the killing of civilians in Bucha, was discussed.
Germany's weekly news magazine Der Spiegel revealed the intercepts suggest that these were neither random acts nor the actions of individual soldiers who got out of hand.
According to Der Spiegel, the BND showed the killings were discussed as if it was normal procedure, possibly to fear and terror among the civilian population.
It seems the Russian paramilitary group, Wagner, was also involved in the killings.
Ukrainian forces found bodies of civilians that were apparently executed and mass graves in Bucha after retaking the city over the weekend.
Ukraine tells Hungary: 'Get on the right side of history' over Russia sanctions
Hungary's Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, rejected any sanctions on Russian oil and gas.
After Hungary received the first shipment of nuclear fuel for its Paks nuclear plant from Russia, Szijjarto said sanctions on activities related to nuclear energy was also a "red line."
Hungary has sought to balance its fraught relationship with the EU and NATO with its close ties to Russia.
Ukraine, however, urged the country "to get on the right side of history."
"If Hungary really wants to help end the war, here's how to do it: stop destroying unity in the EU, support new anti-Russian sanctions, provide military assistance to Ukraine, and not create additional sources of funding for Russia's military machine," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said.
Life slowly returning to Kyiv
Life seems to be returning to some form of normality in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
There are noticeably more people and cars on the streets and supermarket shelves are being restocked, hairdressers, cafes, and restaurants are reopening, DW reports.
Russian forces have fully withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv to its north. Moscow is now concentrating its invading forces in the eastern part of Ukraine.
According to a survey carried out by Kyiv's Rasumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies, 79% of Ukrainians who have fled their country want to return.
EU promises fifth round of sanctions soon
A new round of EU sanctions on Russia, including a ban on coal imports, could be agreed by Friday, the bloc's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has said.
"Maybe this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest," he told reporters as he arrived at a NATO foreign ministers meeting.
He said the bloc would discuss an oil embargo on Russia on Monday.
"We have been following a progressive approach. Now we are accelerating," Borrell said.
Ukraine wants 'weapons, weapons and weapons'
Ukrainian Foreign Minister said his country needs "weapons, weapons and weapons."
Dmytro Kuleba was speaking ahead of the second day of meetings of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels.
Speaking alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Kuleba called for the dispatch of more planes, air defense systems, missiles, and military vehicles from NATO allies.
"We know how to fight; we know how to win," Kuleba said.
He singled out Germany in his appeal, saying, "It is clear that Germany can do more."
Stoltenberg said it was highly likely the alliance would provide more weapons for Ukraine, including heavier weapons.
Ukraine demands oil and gas embargo on Russia
Ukraine will keep up pressure on Western nations for an embargo on Russian oil and gas, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday.
"We will continue to insist on full oil and gas embargo," he said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he hoped an embargo of Russian oil would be on the agenda of an EU foreign affairs council on Monday.
How Russia could get away with hospital attacks
Since invading Ukraine, Russian armed forces have hit nearly 100 medical facilities. These attacks have disrupted health care and taken the lives of patients as well as medical staff.
A DW investigation has examined 21 such attacks in detail. Attacks on health care infrastructure are classified as war crimes, but perpetrators have historically evaded justice.
Russian-owned jumbo jet stuck at German airport
A Russian-owned Boeing 747 cargo plane will not be able to take off from Hahn Airport in Germany's southwestern Rhineland-Palatinate state due to sanctions.
The airport collects a daily parking fee of around €1,200 ($1,300) for the plane.
Germany's Transport Ministry said the jet is "100% owned by Cargo Logic Holding Ltd," which is itself owned by Russian citizens Alexey Isaykin and Sergey Skhylanik. Isaykin also holds a Cypriot passport, but the ministry said that "Russian citizenship is the determining factor for the assessment."
US Senate to vote on ending trade relations with Russia, oil import ban
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate will vote Thursday on whether to end normal trade relations with Russia, as well as on a ban on Russian oil imports.
The trade suspension has been stalled in the Senate for three weeks after having passed in the House.
"I wish this could have happened sooner, but after weeks of talks with the other side, it's important that we have found a path forward," Schumer said.
Sanctions 'blow to ordinary citizens,' Russian ambassador to US says
The Kremlin-run TASS news agency cited Russia's US ambassador as saying that sanctions against Sberbank and Alfabank are a "direct blow to the Russian population and ordinary citizens."
Sberbank holds a third of Russia's total banking assets, while Alfabank is the fourth largest bank in the country.
In the latest round of sanctions imposed by Washington on Russia, the two banks were blacklisted in the United States. The move freezes any assets connected to the US financial system and prohibits business with the two banks.
Family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were also frozen out of the US financial system in the latest round of sanctions, as were members of Russia's Security Council such as Prime Minister Mikhail Mishushtin and former president Dmitry Medvedev.
Eleven bodies found in Hostomel in Kyiv region
Eleven bodies have been found in a garage in the town of Hostomel in the Kyiv region, former Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a post on Telegram.
According to Avakov, the dead were civilians killed by Russian soldiers.
Hostomel is located northwest of Kyiv and is home to an airport of the same name that receives international cargo planes. Most of its 16,000 residents have fled the area.
Local authorities had earlier said that 400 residents were missing from the town after 35 days of Russian occupation. Ukrainian forces regained control of the town alongside neighboring Bucha and Irpin a few days ago.
UN to vote on suspending Russia from rights council
The UN General Assembly will vote on Thursday on whether to suspend Russia from the organization's Human Rights Council.
The vote was requested by the United States in response to the discovery of hundreds of bodies in the town of Bucha near Kyiv after Russian forces withdrew from the area.
The 47 Human Rights Council members are elected by the General Assembly for staggered three-year terms. The Russian Federation's term is set to end in 2023, as is Ukraine's.
For the suspension to be approved it requires a two-thirds majority of all votes, not including abstentions.
US Treasury: Ukraine war will have 'enormous economic repercussions'
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that Russia's actions "will have enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond" and warned of global "spillovers" from the crisis.
Yellen added that the rising price energy, metal, wheat and corn "is going to escalate inflationary pressures" as Russian and Ukrainian exports of such commodities are hit by the war. Many countries around the world have already been grappling with rising inflation and sovereign debt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yellen made the comments while speaking for the US Congress.
Yellen also reiterated Washington's position that Russia should be expelled from the G20 forum, adding that the US will boycott "a number of G20 meetings" if Russian officials are present.
Zelenskyy accuses Russia of hiding war crime evidence
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia is trying to hide evidence of war crimes committed in Ukraine.
"We have information that the Russian troops have changed tactics and are trying to remove the dead people, the dead Ukrainians, from the streets and cellars of territory they occupied," Zelenskyy said.
"This is only an attempt to hide the evidence and nothing more," he added.
Zelenskyy said that Russian leadership was "afraid that the global anger over over what was seen in Bucha would be repeated after what was seen in other cities." He added that thousands of people were missing.
Ukraine's president urged Russian citizens to protest against the war.
"If you have even a little shame about what the Russian military is doing in Ukraine, then for such Russian citizens this is a key moment: You have to demand — just demand — an end to the war."
Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Wednesday
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said that over 5,000 civilians have been killed during Russia's siege of the strategic port city over the last month.
Boichenko added that more than 90% of the city's infrastructure was destroyed by Russian shelling. Russian forces have also bombed hospitals, including one where 50 people burned to death, he said.
A convoy of seven buses and at least 40 private cars carrying Ukrainian evacuees led by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arrived in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the war in Ukraine could last "for many months, for even years."
Ukraine's deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, called for residents of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv provinces to evacuate their homes immediately as Russian forces were said to be repositioning for an assault.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed to not let Russia win its war on Ukraine while he answered questions from lawmakers in the Bundestag.
Germany also presented a new renewable energy plan, as the climate crisis is compounded by Russia's attack on Ukraine.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and urged an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine.
China described reports of civilian deaths in Bucha as "deeply disturbing" and called for an investigation.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Moscow wants to maintain diplomatic relations with Western countries despite a series of expulsions of its diplomats.
rs, lo, sdi/wd (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)