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Russia Ukraine live updates: White House slams ‘preposterous’ Russia accusation over chemical weapons


Russia and Ukraine have just stepped out of major peace talks, but there are already signs that the meeting didn’t go well.

The invasion of Ukraine has taken a particularly heartbreaking turn after a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed by Russian forces.

Children were reportedly trapped beneath the rubble, sparking desperate rescue attempts.

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Mariupol has been one of the hardest-hit cities in Ukraine since the invasion began, with the Red Cross describing “apocalyptic” conditions on the ground.

Meanwhile, fears are growing over a potential radiation leak after power to the Chernobyl nuclear plant was cut, and Russia has also reportedly confirmed the use of lethal thermobaric weapons in Ukraine.

Several thousand civilians continue to evacuate through “humanitarian corridors” agreed on by Russia. Some 43,000 residents fled from the heavily-attacked northeastern city of Sumy after an overnight strike killed three locals.

Over 1.43 million refugees have already arrived in Poland, with Europe told to expect in excess of 5 million Ukrainians arriving as the war continues.

Follow our live updates below.

Ukrainians being used as ‘human shields’, says Russia

It doesn’t appear as if the peace talks between Ukraine and Turkey have gone well.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov came out immediately after and accused the Ukrainians of using “human shields” and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said no progress was made in talks.

Mr Lavrov said they “mostly discussed the initiative of our Turkish friends regarding humanitarian issues”.

He repeated Russian claims that “civilians are being used as hostages” by what he described as “so-called territorial defence forces”. They are being used “as human shields”, he said.

Asked about how the war is developing from Russia’s perspective, he said the conflict was a “special operation” and it is “proceeding to plan overall”.

Lavrov accused the West of “acting dangerously” by supplying weapons to Ukraine, saying this amounts to a breach of “all of their so-called principles and values”.

Asked if Russia has any plans to attack other countries, he said they do not and repeats the Russian position that it has not attacked Ukraine.

He said that “no one listened to us” about Russia’s security concerns.

He claims that “new facts” have been uncovered in the “liberated territories” – that is the two Russian-held regions in eastern Ukraine — that attacks had been prepared against these areas for months.

Ukraine ‘will not surrender’: foreign minister

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba repeated his vow that the country “will not surrender” following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Turkey.

“I want to repeat that Ukraine has not surrendered, does not surrender, and will not surrender,” Kuleba told reporters after the meeting.

White House slams Russia over chemical weapons accusation

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has labelled Russian accusations of Washington-backed chemical weapons labs existing in Ukraine as “preposterous”.

The US immediately responded after Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said evidence Ukraine was “concealing traces of a military biological programme implemented with funding from the United States” had been uncovered.

Ms Psaki accused the Russian government of “repeated disinformation” over the Ukraine crisis and said officials have seen Chinese officials echo the “conspiracy theories”.

On Wednesday, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said there had been a notable “intensification of Russian accusations that Ukraine is developing nuclear or biological weapons” since late February.

“These narratives are long standing but are currently likely being amplified as part of a retrospective justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” she said.

Russia reels after ‘absolutely unprecedented’ sanctions

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has admitted Russia is struggling as international sanctions continue to put the nation’s economy in a chokehold.

In a conference call on Thursday, Mr Peskov said the global reaction was “absolutely unprecedented”. Industry giants across multiple sectors have announced brutal measures in protest against Russia’s invasion, with several new companies announcing new restrictions on business in the country of 145 million each day.

“Our economy is experiencing a shock impact now and there are negative consequences, they will be minimised,” Mr Peskov said.

“This is absolutely unprecedented. The economic war that has started against our country has never taken place before. So it is very hard to forecast anything.”

Ukraine military update

Ukraine’s military has claimed to have killed over 12,000 Russian soldiers and downed almost 50 aircraft since the beginning of the invasion.

US intelligence believes the actual number of Russians killed to be about half of Ukraine’s reported figure, while Moscow has admitted to under 1,000 casualties in combat.

Europe’s widespread Russian media boycott

A map released by Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications has revealed the extent of Europe’s sanctions against Russian media, as accusations of repeated disinformation emerging from Russian sources continue.

All but a handful of countries in the bloc have placed heavy sanctions on the distribution of information by Russian outlets, with Greece, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia imposing absolute bans countrywide.

It came as Ned Price for the US Department of State accused Russia of “inventing false pretexts in an attempt to justify its own horrific actions in Ukraine” after Moscow officials claimed to have uncovered evidence of chemical weapons being developed in Ukraine.

‘Everything Putin touches dies’: Russian oligarch

Russian-Israeli oligarch Leonid Nevzlin has announced he is in the process of cancelling his Russian passport in protest of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Everything that Putin touches dies,” Nevzlin wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “I am against the war. I am against the occupation. I am against the genocide of the Ukrainian people.”

Nevzlin previously fled to Israel in 2003 after an investigation into his oil company, which was part-owned by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky. Mr Khodorkovsky was in prison on charges of fraud and money laundering.

Mr Nevzlin has denied wrongdoing and has long fought extradition orders to face charges in Russia.

“I was one of the first to be hit by Putin. He threw my friends in jails, and killed some of them,” he continued. “I have spent almost twenty years outside Russia, but that is exactly what has allowed me to see its process of rotting and decomposing.”

Mass evacuation in northeastern city

Ukraine’s communications agency has confirmed over 43,000 people have been evacuated from the northeastern city of Sumy.

Local government official Dmytro Zhyvytsky said Russians had bombed a residential neighbourhood just after midnight Ukraine time, killing three civilians including a 13-year-old boy.

It comes as the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces announced the nation’s military is holding back Russian forces on multiple fronts despite still surrounding the capital of Kyiv.

“The Republic of Belarus provides support to the occupier in ensuring the supply of fuel-oil materials used by railway infrastructure and airport network,” the daily update read.

“In the Slobozhanskom direction, the opponent is attacking the settlements of Izzyum, Petrivsʹke, Grushuvaha, as well as the cities of Sumy and Okhtyrka.

“The enemy‘s offensive operation is also ongoing in the Donetsk and Tavrij directions.The opponent is increasing the grouping of troops in the Mykolaiv direction.”

US officials estimate between 5,000 to 6,000 Russian troops have died so far in Ukraine. The nation’s military has claimed to have killed over 12,000 in the two weeks since the invasion.

West’s ‘serious concerns’ over chemical weapons

Officials abroad remain on edge over the possibility of an “utterly horrific” attack on the capital of Kyiv as Russian forces face ongoing setbacks two weeks into their Ukraine campaign.

“I think we’ve got good reason to be concerned about possible use of non-conventional weapons, partly because of what we’ve seen has happened in other theatres,” one official told the UK Telegraph.

“As I’ve mentioned before, for example, what we’ve seen in Syria, partly because we’ve seen a bit of setting the scene for that in the false flag claims that are coming out, and other indications as well.”

The development came after Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said evidence Ukraine had been “concealing traces of a military biological programme implemented with funding from the United States” had been uncovered..

On Wednesday, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said there had been a notable “intensification of Russian accusations that Ukraine is developing nuclear or biological weapons” since late February.

“These narratives are long standing but are currently likely being amplified as part of a retrospective justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” she said.

Putin headed for ‘strategic defeat’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told reporters he believed Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was doomed to fail despite Russia’s superior manpower.

During a recent press conference, Mr Blinken said Russia had already “failed in its chief objectives” and that it was “not going to be able to hold Ukraine in the long term”.

“I’m absolutely convinced that Putin will fail, and Russia will suffer a strategic defeat no matter what short-term tactical gains it may make in Ukraine,” Mr Blinken said.

“You can win a battle, but that doesn’t mean you win the war. On the contrary, you can take a city but you can’t take the hearts and minds of its people and Ukrainians are demonstrating that every single day.”

He said even if Russia succeeded replacing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government with a pro-Russian, puppet regime, the Ukrainian people would never accept it.

“I think it’s pretty evident that they will never accept that,” he said.

President confirms 35k evacuated

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed “almost 35,000 people were rescued” through humanitarian corridor.

“Today we were able to organise three humanitarian corridors: from the city of Sumy, from city of Kyiv and Kyiv region, and from Enerhodar,” he said.

He said plans were underway to establish six more corridors to evacuate civilians.

“We are praying to be able to evacuate people from Mariupol, from Izium, from Volnovakha, etc. to evacuate to safe places of free Ukraine. And I’m sure that every Ukrainian that knows these people need help will make sure these people feel cared for,” he said.

Fears of ‘radioactive substances’ leak

UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has confirmed it has lost contact with systems that monitor Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was captured by Russia last week.

It comes just hours after the body also lost contact with systems at Chernobyl, which sparked fears of radiation leaks.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned of the seriousness of that situation after power was cut to the Chernobyl nuclear plant during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops.

Reserve diesel generators are only capable of keeping the plant afloat for 48 hours.

“After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent,” Mr Kuleba said on Twitter.

“I call on the international community to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply.”

Putin ‘angry and frustrated’ by Russia’s failure

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly “angry and frustrated” by Ukraine’s resistance and the failure of his troops to capture Kyiv.

That’s according to CIA director William Burns, who told America’s ABC news that his frustration would likely cause Mr Putin to “double down” attacks against the nation “with no regard for civilian casualties”.

“He has no sustainable political endgame in the face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians,” Mr Burns said.

“Putin has commented privately and publicly over the years that he doesn’t believe Ukraine’s a real country. He’s dead wrong about that – real countries fight back.

“And that’s what the Ukrainians have done quite heroically over the last 12 days.”

Horror way man discovered family’s slaughter

A distraught Ukrainian man whose wife and children were gunned down by Russian forces has revealed he learnt of their heartbreaking deaths on Twitter.

The killing of Tatiana Perebeinis, 43, and her children Mykyta, 18, and Alisa, 9, made headlines across the globe this week after photos of their bodies fallen in the street alongside their scattered luggage went viral.

It later emerged they were fired upon while trying to flee across a shelled bridge in Irpin.

Husband and father Serhiy Perebyinis was in another part of Ukraine helping his elderly mother when he heard of his family’s slaughter on social media.

But he told the New York Times he wanted the world to see images of his family’s destruction.

“The whole world should know what is happening here,” he told the publication.

‘Mind boggling bravery’ as bomb defused with bare hands

The heroic efforts of two Ukrainian men have made global headlines after a video captured them defusing a bomb with nothing but their bare hands and a bottle of water.

According to Charles Lister, senior fellow and the Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute, the bomb was so powerful it could “flatten a building”.

But that didn’t stop the Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal specialists from risking their lives to save others.

Ominous warning of Russia’s ‘chemical weapons’ plot

News.com.au yesterday reported that China was now spreading a Russian conspiracy theory that the US was developing chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Today, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has warned that disinformation campaign could indicate a brutal attack against Ukrainian citizens could be looming.

“Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern,” Ms Psaki said in a tweet.

She added that Russia had a “long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons” and regularly accused the West “of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating.”

Civilians trapped as crucial corridor ‘bombed’

Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of attacking a humanitarian corridor which had been previously agreed on as an escape route for fleeing civilians.

According to the city council of Bucha – a city north of the capital Kyiv – a planned evacuation out of the area had been blocked by Russian forces.

“The occupants are disrupting the evacuation. Currently, 50 buses are blocked by Russian military in the parking lot: do not give passage to the column,” the city council said in a Facebook post.

“Negotiations are ongoing to unlock traffic.

“We remind you that the “green corridor” was an agreement at the highest level.”

It comes as Russia also stands accused of breaking a 12-hour ceasefire to bomb a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol.

Russian troops’ cruel taunt

Russia’s defence ministry has posted a video of troops cruelly taunting Ukraine by waving Soviet Union flags from tanks rolling through the invaded nation.

It is not known exactly where the act took place, with Russian authorities only revealing that tanks were headed to a “designated area”.

“The Russian Armed Forces units continue to take control of the Ukrainian regions occupied by nationalists within special military operation,” the ministry said alongside the video.

Ukraine gained independence in 1991 during the fall of the Soviet Union after being under Moscow’s control for almost seven decades.

The flag is seen as an inflammatory symbol of that oppression and was likely deliberately brandished to cause further distress to the Ukrainian people.

It has been interpreted as a threat of the return of the Soviet Union, and has sparked outrage on social media.

Putin confirms ‘devastating’ weapons

Russia’s defence ministry has reportedly confirmed it has used thermobaric weapons in Ukraine.

According to Britain’s Ministry of Defence, its Russian counterpart has announced the use of the TOS-1A weapon system, which uses deadly thermobaric rockets.

The “devastating” weapons have been described as “vacuum bombs” due to their ability to suck air of victims’ lungs and cause catastrophic injuries, including internal organ damage and suffocation.

While they are not specifically mentioned, there is a widespread belief that thermobaric weapons are banned for use against civilians by the Geneva Convention.

Children’s hospital bombed

Shocking photos are emerging from Ukraine after a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol was bombed overnight, during a 12-hour ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

Children remain trapped in the rubble, and it is not yet known if there have been any fatalities.

At least 17 people were injured.

While Russia denied intentionally targeting civilians, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has condemned the attack, tweeting that many people remain “under the wreckage”.

“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage,” he posted.

“Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now!

“Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”

Officials say the hospital is completely “destroyed”, with the city’s council stating that “the destruction is enormous”.

“The building of the medical facility where the children were treated recently is completely destroyed,” the council said.

President survives ‘more than a dozen’ assassination attempts

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has survived “more than a dozen” assassination attempts in just two weeks of Russia’s invasion, a government official has claimed.

Speaking to local news outlet Ukrainian Pravda, presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak said Mr Zelensky remains Russia’s “main target”.

“We have a very powerful network of intelligence and counterintelligence, they track it all,” he said, adding that the “risks have not disappeared” for Mr Zelensky, who remains in Kyiv.

“Our foreign partners are talking about two or three attempts. I believe that there were more than a dozen such attempts.”

Mr Podolyak said a number of wannabe assassins had been “liquidated” after their attempts failed.

Putin’s ‘weakness’ exposed

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed Vladimir Putin’s threat of nuclear force was a “bluff” that revealed his “weakness”.

The comments were made during an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit.

“You only threaten the use of nuclear weapons when nothing else is working,” Mr Zelensky said.

“Every use of nuclear weapons means the end for all sides, not just for the person using them.”

‘Children are dying’: Boxer’s plea

Former professional boxer Vladimir Klitschko has posted an emotional video in the wake of the Mariupol children’s hospital bombing, urging his followers to “stop Putin’s war”.

“My heart is bleeding. It is often said the first casualty of war is truth. Yes, it is, as you can see in Russia. But you know what? The most unbearable casualties are children. Children are dying by the dozens now,” he said in the clip posted to Instagram.

“Look at these images. They are the concrete and real results of Putin’s ‘special operation’ so to speak. When he does not take the lives of these angels, he kills their parents, grandparents, and destroys their homes and schools.

“To attack children is to attack life. If you don’t want to see these images anymore, you must not look away. You must stop Putin’s war now.”

Putin’s backflip over conscripted soldiers

Russia has admitted that conscripted soldiers had been sent to Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin publicly stated that only professional troops would be deployed.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said an investigation was now underway into “the facts of the presence of a number of conscripts in the units of the armed forces who are participating in a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine,” according to the Tass news agency, and vowed to “punish officials responsible”.

Just this week, Mr Putin said in a televised speech that “I emphasise that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them.”

Originally published as Ukraine Russia conflict live updates: White House slams ‘preposterous’ Russia accusation over chemical weapons



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