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Ukraine: Biden says NATO 'never been more united' — as it happened – DW (English)

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With the war in Ukraine entering its second month, NATO allies have agreed to bolster eastern defenses and G7 leaders have warned Russia against using chemical weapons in Ukraine.

NATO’s leaders pose for their traditional ‘family photo’ before heading into talks on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
We have now closed these live updates.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed concern on Thursday after Ukraine warned of Russian bombardment of a town near the Chernobyl nuclear site.
Slavutych is a town located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Chernobyl and is the place of residence of much of the staff working at the Chernobyl nuclear site.
“Ukraine informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today that Russian forces were shelling Ukrainian checkpoints in the city of Slavutych where many people working at the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant live, putting them at risk,” the agency said in a statement.
Russian forces took control of the Chernobyl plant on February 24. The IAEA had previously voiced concerns about staff at the plant not rotating or being given time to rest.
Australia announced that it will impose new sanctions on 22 Russian “propagandists.”
Those targeted by the sanctions include editors at state-run outlet Russia Today and the Kremlin-aligned Strategic Culture Foundation think tank, Australian Foreign Minister Marisa Payne said. 
Australia has now sanctioned 32 Russian “propagandists” altogether, the statement said.
Australia also announced it would sanction Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and members of his family. Canberra said Belarusian efforts to aid Russia’s invasion were reasons behind the punitive measures.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Facebook that a total of 3,343 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities via humanitarian corridors on Thursday.
She said 2,717 people managed to leave Mariupol, which is under siege by Russia. Vereshchuk claimed that Russian forces had prevented humanitarian aid convoys from entering Mariupol.
The Canadian government said it will increase oil exports by roughly 5% as countries forgo Russian energy due to the attack on Ukraine. 
“Our European friends and allies need Canada and others to step up. They’re telling us they need our help in getting of Russian oil and gas in the short term,” Canadian Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.
“Canada is uniquely positioned to help,” he said, saying Canada “will continue working with our international partners to supports international energy markets.”
He said Canadian industry could increase exports this year by 300,000 barrels per day “with the intention of displacing Russian oil and gas.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will embark on a tour of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on Saturday, with Ukraine and Iran at the top of the agenda.
Blinken will visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria from March 26 to March 30, the State Department said. 
The US top diplomat is expected to meet Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the first part of the trip. Israel has played a mediating role in the conflict, with Bennett having spoken with Russian and Ukrainian leaders during the invasion.
The Algeria trip is also pertinent to the Ukraine crisis, as the North African nation is major natural gas supplier to Europe. 
European countries have been attempting to wean themselves off Russian gas due to the invasion, and are looking for alternatives to meet energy needs. 
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on Belarusian troops to not get involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Our Belarusian soldiers understand that Ukrainians are our brothers and sisters and we don’t want even to fight against them,” Tsikhanouskaya said while meeting other Belarusians in Warsaw. “We don’t want to become enemies.”
Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has closed aligned his country with Russia. He has allowed Russia to stage attacks from Belarusian territory.
Tsikhanouskaya said Belarusian forces “don’t have to share responsibility with Lukashenko’s regime for his actions.”
At the same time, she praised Belarusian pro-democracy volunteers for getting involved in the war, saying they “defend Ukrainian independence but they also defend our future.”
Ukrainian lawmakers voted overwhelming in support of a measure to punish citizens who help Russian forces.
Ukrainian collaborators could face up to 12 years in prison for “intentional activities aimed at aiding the aggressor state,” a statement on Ukraine’s parliament website said.
Collaborators could also be temporarily disbarred from government positions and their assets may be taken away.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said that the battlefront is “practically frozen.” He said Russian forces are “practically at a standstill” and claimed Russian troops lack the resources to advance their offensive.
Arestovych said Russian forces face shortages of fuel, ammunition and rations. He said Russia has switched its tactics from offense to defense, but this statement has not been confirmed by reports on the ground.
During an address in Brussels on Thursday, US President Joe Biden asserted that NATO is more united than ever amid Russia’s ongoing invasion. He said he was determined to not only sustain ongoing efforts on Ukraine but to also build on them.
During the speech, he announced over $2 billion military aid for Ukraine and $1 billion in assistance for Ukrainians impacted by the war.
In regards to ongoing diplomatic negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, he said it was ultimately up to Kyiv to determine whether it would like to give up territory to Russia.
He vowed the US would respond if Russia uses chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Biden said Russia should be removed from the G20. At the same time, he said Ukraine should be able to attend G20 meetings.
He also defended his foreign policy response to the Russian invasion, after a reporter said sanctions did not deter Russia’s attack.
“Sanctions never deter,” Biden said. He said he believes maintaining the sanctions over time would ultimately lead to Russia stopping its invasion.
Biden also addressed China’s possible involvement in the Russian invasion. He said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that Beijing would face consequences if helps Moscow during the ongoing attack.
“I made no threats but I made it clear to him — made sure he understood the consequences of helping Russia,” Biden said of his recent conversation with Xi. “China understands that its economic future is much more closely tied to the West than it is to Russia.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russia may be using its gold reserves to circumvent sanctions 
“There is evidence that the Russian may be trying to get around —the Russians are obviously trying to get around — the sanctions on their gold and we’re taking steps to make sure there is no leakage, no sale of bullion into markets around the world,” Johnson said. 
The UK leader also said he was not “remotely anti-Russian.” At the same time, he called Russia’s invasion “inhumane and barbaric.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly told reporters in Brussels that Russia and Ukraine are in agreement on technical issues during peace talks, but said the two countries are divided on territorial issues such as the Crimean Peninsula.
Turkey has played a mediating role during the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, and hosted talks between the two sides in the city of Antalya.
Erdogan, who was speaking following a NATO summit, said resolutions brought forth by the alliance should be regarded as deterrence. The resolution should not be viewed as a threat by Russia, he claimed.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he believes China does not want the war in Ukraine to escalate further.
“China, as a member of the United Nations Security Council and as a great power, cannot do anything but be a power of mediation and moderation and help us to convince Russia to stop this war,” Macron told journalists following the G7 and NATO meeting in Brussels.
“I want to believe that China will be consistent with its vision of territorial sovereignty and continue to seek to stop this war and I want to believe that China will not participate in any form of escalation,” Macron added.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said further sanctions will be imposed on Russia as they become necessary. Current sanctions appeared to be very effective. He said everyone was already feeling the effects of the war on energy and food prices and that energy sanctions had been deliberately avoided.
He also stated the need for a constant flow of weapons into Ukraine and pledged further humanitarian support as well as readiness to take in more Ukrainian refugees.
Germany will also provide troops for a new NATO battle group to be deployed in Slovakia, the chancellor said. He also warned that the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine by Russia would be a violation of international law.
Scholz and various other EU leaders all rejected Russia’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, saying it would be a breach of contract.
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution putting the blame for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine on Russia and calling for an immediate cease-fire.
The resolution was passed with a majority of 140 votes in favor and just five votes against. Some 38 members abstained from the vote.
The text was written up by Ukraine and its partners, criticizing Russia for the “dire” humanitarian situation in Ukraine. The five countries to vote against: Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea, were the same that voted against a resolution condemning the invasion at the beginning of March. China and India, key partners for Russia, once again abstained.
Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister and close-ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, resurfaced on Thursday after having been out of the public eye for several weeks.
However, the 66-year-old’s appearance was limited to a small section of Putin’s computer screen during a split-screen video call along with other Russian officials.
The video, taken from within Putin’s office by the RIA news agency, zoomed in on the section of the screen where Shoigu was. The video is believed to be the first public sighting of the minister since March 11.
 “The defence minister has a lot on his mind right now. A special military operation is under way. Now is not really the time for media activity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
However, the original disappearance of Shoigu, and the claims that the invasion has not been going as well as Moscow has expected, led to speculation over the fate of the defense chief.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Facebook that Ukraine and Russia carried out their first prisoner exchange on Thursday.
She wrote that 10 Ukrainian servicemen had been returned in exchange for 10 Russian soldiers.
A further 19 Ukrainian captured civilian sailors were returned in exchange for 11 Russian civilian sailors who Vereshchyk said had been rescued from a ship that sank near the coastal city of Odesa.
China’s Ministry of National Defense rejected claims that Beijing knew about Moscow’s plan to invade Ukraine ahead of time, the state-backed newspaper Global Times said on Twitter.
The statement called the claims “totally false information, which intended to shirk responsibility and smear China.”
Beijing has not condemned Russia’s invasion and Washington has warned that it may be providing Moscow with financial and military support. However, China abstained from a UN vote condemning the invasion, rather than voting against it as some had expected.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry released a statement on Thursday claiming that Russian forces have “forcibly deported about 6,000 Mariupol residents to Russian filtration camps.”
It said that Russia is also trying to do the same to the 15,000 residents in the Left Bank region of the city.
“The Russian occupiers are forcing them to move to Russia. The invaders confiscate people’s passports and other identity documents,” the statement said, adding that it was “in order to use them as hostages and put more political pressure on Ukraine.”
The statement also accused Russian forces of firing on columns of civilians fleeing from the city that was the subject of intense bombardment by the Russian military and a siege that left thousands of people without access to food, water and power for days.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance was concerned Russia may be preparing a pretext to use chemical weapons. “We see the rhetoric and we see that Russia is trying to create some kind of pretext accusing Ukraine, the United States and NATO allies of preparing to use chemical and biological weapons,” he told reporters after a NATO summit in Brussels.
“Our top military commander … has activated NATO’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense elements and allies are deploying additional chemical and biological and nuclear defenses,” he said.
He reiterated the significant impact any use of chemical weapons would have on the course of events, not just in Ukraine, but also in neighboring countries. He also stressed the continuity of NATO’s Open Door policy, which has been one of Moscow’s main complaints and justifications for its invasion of Ukraine.
Asked whether NATO would provide Ukraine with the list of weapons and equipment requested by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Stoltenberg said that alliance members are already supplying weapons and equipment, but “at the same time, we have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from becoming a full-fledged war in Europe.”
Stoltenberg said that the alliance will increase its support for Ukraine as well as its deployments in Eastern Europe during a press conference that came after an emergency session of NATO member-state leaders.
Stoltenberg’s comments coincided with the release of a statement from the alliance as well as the announcement that he will stay on for an extra year due to the invasion, delaying his plan to step down from the position.
NATO members are “equipping Ukraine with significant military supplies including anti-tank and air defense systems and drones, which are proving highly effective, as well as substantial financial and humanitarian aid,” Stoltenberg said.
“Today we agreed to do more, including cyber security assistance and equipment to help Ukraine protect against biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear threats,” he added.
The NATO chief warned against escalating the war and pledged more support for other countries facing threats from Russia, namely Georgia and Bosnia.
The US is expected to announce a plan to take in up to 100,000 Ukrainians who have fled the war, news agencies reported on Thursday.
More than 3.5 million people have fled the country so far, mainly into neighboring Poland.
Not all the Ukrainians would go through the US refugee program, Reuters reported, some would be taken in on family-based visas.
The Biden administration has previously set the cap for the number of incoming refugees to 125,000 for 2022.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered the largest flight of people from their homes in Europe since the Second World War.
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, has held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, saying afterward they had discussed the need to protect civilians during Moscow’s operations in Ukraine.
“We certainly also discussed the international humanitarian law and provisions of the Geneva Convention in regard to conduct of hostilities … that civilians must be protected,” Maurer told a news conference.
“We think we are confronted with a very complex front line at the present moment in Ukraine which sees a lot of people trapped and people caught people in between front lines,” Maurer added.
“It’s not possible to think about access or evacuation, either in Mariupol or another place, if we don’t have a solid … and detailed agreement between the militaries on the ground,” he said.
The southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been particularly devastated by street fighting and bombardments, with hundreds of thousands of people believed to be trapped inside buildings, with no access to food, water, power or heat. Numerous attempts to create humanitarian corridors for evacuation have been thwarted by continued fighting.
Prior to the talks, Maurer had said he would raise the issues of prisoners of war, missing people and detained civilians in his talks with Lavrov in Moscow.
Lavrov said, “We hope the efforts of the ICRC will bear fruit” and called the organization an “impartial and independent intermediary”.
“Unfortunately we don’t have any particular basis to rely on conscientious fulfillment by the Kyiv authorities,” he added.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on NATO to provide “unrestricted” military aid while speaking to representatives of the alliance over video-link.
“To save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military assistance without restrictions. In the same way that Russia is using its full arsenal without restrictions against us,” he said.
He thanked the members of the alliance for the support they have already provided, but said it was not enough. “You can give us one percent of all your planes. One percent of your tanks. One percent!”
During the call, Zelenskyy also accused Russia of using phosphorus weapons — which ignite in contact with air and can burn for a long time as well as causing severe burns on people it comes into contact with.
“This morning, by the way, phosphorus bombs were used. Russian phosphorus bombs. Adults were killed again and children were killed again,” Zelensky said.
“The Alliance can once more prevent the death of Ukrainians from Russian strikes, from Russian occupation, by giving us all the weapons we need.”
Around 10,000 metric tons of essential aid has been sent to Ukraine from Germany via the “rail bridge” between the two countries, German Transport Minister Volker Wissing told Funke Media Group.
The trains that have been shuttling back and forth are delivering essential goods such as food, water and hygiene products, many of which had been donated according to Wissing.
“We hope this war is over soon and will do everything to ease the suffering,” the minister said from the Berlin cargo terminal.
The trains do not travel into the contested cities, but rather drop off their goods nearby so that they can be taken to where they are needed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the Swedish parliament via video link on Thursday, calling on the Scandinavian country to help Ukraine rebuild after the war.
He asked for “Swedish companies and state to come rebuild” his country, large parts of which have been destroyed by a month of bombardments and airstrikes.
“This is a month now,” Zelenskyy said. “We have not seen a destruction of this scale since World War II.”
“Just look at what the Russian army has done to our country … A month of bombings similar to what we have seen in Syria,” he added.
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have illegally carried some 15,000 of the besieged city’s residents across the border to Russia.
“Residents of the Left Bank district are beginning to be deported en masse to Russia. In total, about 15,000 Mariupol residents have been subjected to illegal deportation,” Mariupol city council said in a statement.
Local authorities had said on Sunday that thousands had been forced across the border but did not give a precise figure. Russian news agencies said at the time that several hundred “refugees” from the stricken city had been transported to Russia in buses in recent days.
The allegations of illegal deportations come as Ukrainian officials say civilians in Mariupol remain in dire conditions with no food, water, power or heat as Russian forces subject the city to constant bombardment.
Mariupol has suffered devastation at the hands of Russian troops
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address to Italy’s parliament on Tuesday that there was “nothing left” in Mariupol after weeks of Russian bombs and shells falling on the city.
Moscow has denied that its forces have targeted civilians during its invasion, which President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” to bolster Russian security.
The British government has added 59 individuals and entities to the sanctions list it has imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
They include Gazprombank — one of the main channels for payments for Russian oil and gas — and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s top private lenders. The private military contractor Wagner Group is also on the list.
Among the individuals sanctioned were oil tycoon Evgeny Shvidler, the founder of Tinkoff bank, Oleg Tinkov, and German Gref, the CEO of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, the Foreign Office said.
Polina Kovaleva, the 26-year-old daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s alleged longtime lover, is also being targeted. The government said she reportedly owns a 4 million pound (€4.8 million; $5.2 million) property in London.
Six Belarus entities were also added to the sanctions list.
US President Joe Biden and his Western allies have opened the first of three summits being held on Thursday over the war in Ukraine.
Biden met the leaders of NATO’s other member countries at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, where they posed for a group photograph.
The summit is expected to last for several hours and will be followed by a gathering of the Group of Seven industrialized countries and an EU summit.
Biden is expected to hold a press conference in the evening.
The United Nations says more than half of Ukraine’s estimated child population of 7.5 million have been driven from their homes in the past month by Russia’s invasion.
“One month of war in Ukraine has led to the displacement of 4.3 million children,” the world body’s children’s agency UNICEF said in a statement.
It said 1.8 million children had fled the country and 2.5 million more were displaced within Ukraine itself.
More than 3.5 million people altogether have fled from the brutal invasion and some 6 million more internally displaced, the UN has said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for the world to prevent Russia using its gold reserves as another way of penalising the country for its war on Ukraine in addition to the financial and economic sanctions already in place.
 “We need to do more and so we need to do more economically,” Johnson told LBC radio ahead of his attendance at a NATO summit in Brussels.
“Can we do more to stop him using his gold reserves, for instance, in addition to his cash reserves? What can we do more to sanction SWIFT?” he said.
“My message today in NATO will be that there are ways in which the world can continue to intensify the pressure on Putin,” he said.
“The more we do that now, the more pressure we apply now, particularly on things like gold, … I believe the more we can shorten the war, shorten the slaughter in Ukraine,” he said.
The UK Ministry of Defence said in its morning intelligence update on Thursday that it believes the Russian military has “almost certainly suffered thousands of casualties” during the invasion.
Therefore, Russia is probably turning to “its reservist and conscript manpower, as well as private military companies and foreign mercenaries,” according to the ministry.
There have already been reports of Russian mercenaries fighting in Ukraine, including the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group that has been involved in various African conflicts in recent years.
Russia has also been recruiting soldiers from Syria to bring to Ukraine, thanks to Russia’s years of support for the regime of Bashar Assad.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said if EU countries obey Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand that Russian oil and gas be paid in rubles, they will be helping Russia’s deadly invasion.
“If any EU country bows to Putin’s humiliating demands to pay for oil and gas in rubles, it will be like helping Ukraine with one hand and helping Russians kill Ukrainians with the other,” he tweeted.
“I urge relevant countries to make a wise and responsible choice,” he added.
Putin on Wednesday called on his government and gas giant Gazprom to make the necessary changes in a week for payment of oil and gas to be made in the faltering Russian currency instead of dollars and euros as is currently the case.
The Russian government is not interested in negotiating a cease-fire in Ukraine at present, as Moscow has not achieved what it wants with its invasion, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has said.
“Right now, Russia doesn’t want to sit and negotiate anything. What it wants is to occupy the ground,” Borrell said in an interview with Spain’s TVE channel.
“It wants to surround the coast to the border with Moldova and isolate Ukraine from the sea. It wants to negotiate in earnest only when it has secured a position of strength,” he added.
The European Union and its allies will keep on delivering military aid to the Ukrainian army, Borrell said.
“It is important because everything will be decided in the next 15 days,” he said. “What will make history is the capacity of Ukrainians to resist.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed a major error by invading Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
Speaking ahead of an alliance summit in Brussels, Stoltenberg said, “President Putin has made a big mistake and that is to launch a war against an independent sovereign nation. He has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces.”
He said NATO leaders at the summit would “address the need for a reset of our deterrence and defense in the longer term.” That would include agreeing on new deployments to Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria, he said.
In this “most serious security crisis in a generation,” Stoltenberg said, “as long as we stand together we are safe.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose country is not a NATO member, will address the NATO summit and an EU summit that is also to take place on Thursday by video link.
US President Joe Biden is also to be at the summits.
Stoltenberg made his comments as Norwegian broadcaster TV2 and daily Dagens Naeringsliv said Stoltenberg’s term as NATO chief, due to expire October 1, will be extended by a year because of the war in Ukraine. They cited unnamed sources in their reports.
Stoltenberg had been set to take up a post as central bank governor of his native Norway by the end of 2022.
When asked on Wednesday whether he would stay on at NATO, Stoltenberg said any such decision was up to member countries to make.
Ukraine’s navy says it has destroyed the large Russian landing ship Orsk near the port city of Berdyansk.
The Belarusian opposition media outlet NEXTA TV said it had been informed of the report but was waiting for confirmation.
Berdyansk has been under Russian control since February 27. The Orsk had brought armored vehicles there on Monday, the Zvezda TV channel of the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier this week.  
Berdyansk, which is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west along the coast from the besieged city of Mariupol.
The Moscow stock exchange is reopening, albeit for limited trading, for the first time since February 25, the day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
Trading is to be heavily restricted to avoid the huge selloff that occurred on February 24 as investors pulled out in anticipation of the swingeing financial and economic sanctions that have been imposed by the West.
The restrictions mean that foreign shareholders will be unable to sell shares, a bid to counter the sanctions.
The Russian central bank said trading will be allowed in 33 of the 50 companies that are part of the country’s benchmark MOEX index. They include air carrier Aeroflot, state-owned gas producer Gazprom and the oil company Rosneft.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed his objection to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attendance at this year’s G20 summit.
Host country Indonesia has already invited Putin, and Russia’s ambassador has indicated he is expected to attend.
“Russia has invaded Ukraine. This is a violent and aggressive act that shatters the international rule of law,” Morrison said.
“I think we need to have people in the room that aren’t invading other countries.”
Australia’s prime minister added that he had been in direct contact with Indonesian President Joko Widodo about Putin’s planned attendance of the summit, which is expected to take place in October.
US President Joe Biden is set to meet NATO and EU leaders on Thursday in a number of international summits.
Biden will attend a special meeting of NATO leaders, a G7 summit and an EU leaders’ summit for talks on how to support Ukraine and punish Russia.
A proposal to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank with permanent troop deployments is expected to be discussed.
Such a move would constitute a violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act signed in 1997, which said that NATO has no intention to station permanent military forces in Eastern Europe.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged citizens around the world to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a Wednesday video address in English.
“Come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life,” Zelenskyy said. “Come to your squares, to your streets, make yourselves visible and heard.”
“Show your standing, come from your offices, your homes, your schools and your universities, come in the name of peace,” he added.
“The world must stop the war.”
The call to action comes one month after the start of Russia’s invasion, which has sparked condemnation around the world.
The Associated Press has cited a senior US defense official as saying that Russian forces appeared to be setting up defensive positions 15-20 kilometers outside Kyiv.
The official told AP that Russian forces were no longer trying to advance toward Kyiv, adding that Russian troops were now exerting more pressure in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
UK defense official Jim Hockenhull said Russia was now waging a war of “attrition” in Ukraine after Moscow “failed to achieve its original objectives.”
Hockenhull said that Russia was surprised by the scale of resistance by Ukrainian forces.
He warned that the war of attrition will involve “reckless and indiscriminate use of firepower (and) result in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, and intensify the humanitarian crisis.”

Ukrainian officials said 4,500 people managed to get out of areas under siege from Russian forces on Wednesday.
Around 3,000 people left the southeastern port city of Mariupol for Zaporizhzhia by private transport,  deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said.
Tymoshenko said civilians were also evacuated from the town of Hulyaipolye in the Zaporizhzhia region, from the Luhansk region, and from three villages in the Kyiv region.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, seven of nine planned evacuation corridors worked. Vereshschuk said that buses were stopped by Russian units along two of the corridors.
The United Kingdom will send 6,000 more missiles to Ukraine’s government, including anti-tank and high-explosive weaponry.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is traveling to Brussels on Thursday for talks with NATO, where he is expected to provide further details on new British aid to Ukraine.
The UK has already sent more than 4,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
“The United Kingdom will work with our allies to step up military and economic support to Ukraine, strengthening their defenses as they turn the tide in this fight,” Johnson said.
The United States issued a warning to China, telling it not to take advantage of business opportunities created by western sanctions on Russia.
The head of Russian space agency Roscosmos warned that Russia’s nuclear arsenal has the capability to wipe out any enemies.
A Russian journalist died in a residential neighborhood of Kyiv when it was hit by Russian shelling, according to her employer. Oksana Baulina was reporting for news outlet The Insider when she was killed, the outlet said.
Russia moved to expel an unspecified number of US diplomats. This came in retaliation for the United States expelling 12 of Moscow’s delegates to the United Nations in New York in March.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine.
The 27 EU member states have approved an additional €500 million ($550 million) in military aid to Ukraine, on top of a previous package worth €500 million issued in February.
NATO has estimated that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers have died in the invasion of Ukraine, according to figures released to the Associated Press.
Russia will demand nations it considers “unfriendly” pay in rubles for its gas supplies, President Vladimir Putin said.
ab,tj,si/kb (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Correction: An earlier version of this live updates article referred to NEXTA TV as a Ukrainian media outlet instead of a Belarusian opposition media outlet. It has been amended. 
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