Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia was a “terrorist state”in his latest video address.
“The world must know it. The world must acknowledge it,” he said, and also accused Russian forces of attacking a convoy of humanitarian aid for the besieged city of Mariupol.
Mr Zelenskiysaid no one had been evacuated from Mariupol on Thursday but almost 40,000 people had fled on Thursday from five other cities.
The Russian defence ministry said that it would open up humanitarian corridors on Friday for civilians to evacuate from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv and Mariupol. It also accused Ukraine of using security service personnel to drive aid trucks and spy on Russian military positions.
US president Joe Biden will announce another ratcheting up of the economic pressure on Friday when he calls for the end of normal trade relations with Russia. This measure will cast Russia into the economic wilderness along with Cuba and North Korea and deepen the recession the IMF says is already beginning to bite.
European Union leaders”acknowledged the European aspirations” of Ukraine and agreed to support Ukraine in “pursuing its European path”. After a meeting in Versailles, a statement also called for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces, and praised Ukraine’s courageous resistance.
There are conflicting reports about the state of Russian forces around Kyiv. A large Russian military convoy last seen north-west of Kyiv has largely dispersed and redeployed, according to US company Maxar Technologies, based on satellite photographs. But a US defence official said that Russian forces have moved 5km closer to the capital, despite Ukrainians fighting back “very, very well”.
A recently released report from theUK’s Ministry of Defence says Russian forces are “committing an increased number of their deployed forces to encircle key cities” due to strong Ukrainian resistance.
Air sirens were heard in Lviv the early hours of Friday. Explosions were also reported in Lutsk in north-western Ukraine, near the Polish border, as well as in Dnipro, a major stronghold in central-eastern Ukraine. Three air strikes in Dnipro killed at least one person.
The United Nations security councilwillconvene on Fridayat Russia’s request, diplomats said, to discuss Moscow’s claims of US biological activities in Ukraine.
High-level talks between Russia and Ukraine - the first of their kind since Moscow invaded its neighbour two weeks ago - ended without a ceasefire. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said there had been no progress towards achieving a ceasefire with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Hundreds of thousands of people in ?Mariupol face an “increasingly dire and desperate” humanitarian situation, the International Red Cross has said. A delegation leader said people in Mariupol had “started to attack each other for food” and many people report having no food for their children.
Boris Johnson has expressed fears that Vladimir Putin may use chemical weapons in Ukraine. Echoing language used by the White House, the UK prime minister said Russian claims about its enemies getting ready to use chemical weapons were “straight out of their playbook”.
Germany’s former chancellor Gerhard Schroder has reportedly met Putin in Moscow for talks on ending the war, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich is among seven of Russia’s wealthiest and most influential oligarchs to have been hit with sanctions by the UK, in an effort to further punish allies of Putin over the invasion. – Guardian