(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing to have a tough time pushing through Ukraine due to Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and backed by weapons and military equipment from the United States and many European countries, putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.” Heavy shelling and missile attacks, many on civilian buildings, have continued throughout the country, including some in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as well as other major cities like Kharkiv and Mariupol.
In recent days, Russian forces appear to be pulling away from Kyiv after Russian officials said they were reducing military action near Kyiv and in Chernihiv in northern Ukraine in an attempt to increase “mutual trust and create conditions required” for further peace talks with Ukrainian negotiators.
Russia is now being accused of committing war crimes by the United States and countries throughout Europe after graphic images emerged of civilians lying dead in the streets of the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, some with their hands bound and shot at close range.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Apr 05, 12:38 pm
Satellite images of bodies in Bucha contradict Russia’s claims
An ABC News analysis of videos and satellite imagery confirms that some of the bodies seen lying in the streets of Bucha were there as early as March 19, when the Ukrainian city was still occupied by Russian forces, contradicting Russia’s claims that the scene was “staged” after its troops left.
As Ukrainian authorities regained control over Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, gruesome images emerged earlier this week showing numerous bodies of dead civilians — some shot at close range and with their hands bound — strewn across streets and in mass graves. Russia has denied responsibility, calling the footage “fake” and saying that all of its units withdrew completely from Bucha around March 30.
However, satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies show that at least five of those bodies had been on the street in Bucha since March 19, when Russia said it still occupied the town. ABC News’ Visual Verification team compared the satellite imagery to videos of the same scene posted on Twitter by Ukrainian authorities on April 2, as well as footage taken by ABC News journalists in Bucha on April 4.
The satellite imagery of Bucha in March was first reported by The New York Times.
-ABC News’ Alice Chambers
Apr 05, 11:59 am
Zelenskyy details atrocities to UN Security Council
In an address to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy laid out the atrocities he said were committed by Russian forces in Bucha, Ukraine, including women shot in front of their homes and raped in front of their children.
“There is not a single crime they would not commit,” Zelenskyy said via a live video feed.
Zelenskyy proposed a summit to reform the world’s global security apparatus, listing a number of major conflicts since World War II he said the U.N. Security Council had failed to prevent.
He said Russia’s actions in Bucha are no different from other acts of terrorism.
“Here it is done by a member of the United Nations Security Council destroying internal unity borders, countries,” Zelenskyy said.
He accused Russia of “pursuing a policy to kill ethnic and linguistic diversity.”
Zelenskyy went on to criticize the council for failing to provide security to Ukraine, saying, the U.N. “simply cannot work effectively.”
“If this continues, countries will have to rely on their selves, not (the) international community,” Zelenskyy said. “The U.N. will be ready to close. Do they think the time of the U.N. is gone? If no, then the U.N. must act immediately.”
Zelenskyy added, “accountability must be inevitable.”
Telling the council he was speaking on behalf of the deceased, Zelenskyy detailed in graphic detail the horrors found in Bucha, describing them as “the most terrible crimes we have seen since the end of World War II.“
“The Russian military searched for and purposefully killed anyone who served our country. They killed — shot and killed women outside their houses when they just tried to call someone who is alive. They killed entire families, adults and children, and they tried to burn the bodies,” Zelenskyy said. “I am addressing you on behalf of the people who honor the memory of the deceased, every single day in the memory of the civilians who died, who were shot and killed in the back of their head after being tortured, some of them were shot on the streets. Others were thrown into the wells, so they died. They are in suffering.”
Noting Russia’s veto power on the council, Zelensky proposed the council remove Russia’s power so it “cannot block decisions against its own aggression” or else “dissolve yourselves altogether.”
Zelenskyy’s address was met with applause by the members of the council.
Apr 05, 11:43 am
Video shows Russian shell hitting ambulance outside children’s hospital
Video has emerged purportedly showing a Russian shell striking an ambulance parked outside a children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.
Security camera footage released by Mykolaiv Gov. Vitaly Kim shows the moment the empty ambulance is hit and explodes next to the hospital on Monday.
As of March 30, there had been 82 attacks on health care in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded, resulting in at least 72 deaths and 43 injuries, including patients and health workers, according to the World Health Organization.
-ABC News’ Fergal Gallagher
Apr 05, 11:02 am
European Commission proposes new sanctions on Russia
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a proposal Tuesday for new sanctions targeting Russia’s economy.
The proposal will require the approval of the European Union’s member states.
In a statement, von der Leyen accused Moscow of “waging a cruel and ruthless war in Ukraine and said its alleged atrocities “cannot and will not be left unanswered.”
Among the new sanctions being proposed are banning imports of coal from Russia, banning Russian ships and Russian-operated ships from accessing European Union ports and banning imports of other Russian products including seafood, liquor, and wood. The proposal also calls for a full transaction ban on four key Russian banks – among them the country’s second-largest, VTB.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the death and destruction in Bucha, Ukraine, reportedly at the hands of Russian forces shows a “deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities.”
Blinken spoke to reporters at Joint Base Andrews before boarding a plane to Brussels for the Western military alliance’s annual spring meeting of foreign ministers.
He said the reports of atrocities emerging in Bucha, a suburb of the capital of Kyiv were “more than credible” and added it “reinforces our determination and the determination of countries around the world to make sure that one way or another, one day or another, there is accountability for those who committed these acts, for those who ordered them.”
Ukrainian forces in recent days retook Bucha from the Russians and found the bodies of more than 400 civilians lying dead in the streets or in mass graves, some with their hands bound and shot at close range.
Blinken didn’t directly address a question of whether the United States has evidence linking the atrocities on the ground in Busha to Russian officials back in Moscow. Instead, he said the United States is working to support efforts to document evidence by Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry, and others.
Blinken noted that before the war began, U.S. officials warned that atrocities “would be part of the Russian campaign.”
“Horrifically, tragically, what we’re seeing in Bucha and in other places supports that,” Blinken said.
He said the United States will work with its NATO and G-7 allies to support Ukraine and increase pressure on Russia, especially with meetings among both groups later this week in Brussels.
-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan
Apr 05, 9:04 am
Video shows Russian tank firing on cyclist in Bucha
Video has emerged purportedly showing a Russian tank firing on a cyclist in the besieged Ukrainian city of Bucha.
The footage, provided to Ukrainian public broadcasting company Suspilne Media by the Ukrainian military, was reportedly taken on March 3. The video captures the moment a tank fires at a person riding a bike in the streets of Bucha when the town, northwest of Kyiv, was occupied by Russian forces.
Apr 05, 7:54 am
ICRC team released after being detained near Mariupol
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday its team has been released from detention after failing to reach the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
An ICRC team tasked with escorting evacuation buses to and from Mariupol “was stopped” and “held by police” on Monday in the town of Manhush, about 12 miles west of Mariupol. The team was released Monday night, according to an ICRC spokesperson.
“This is of great relief to us and to their families,” the spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Tuesday. “The team is focused now on continuing the humanitarian evacuation operation. This incident yesterday shows how volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been for our team, who have been trying to reach the city since Friday.”
The ICRC didn’t specify which police force had detained its team. However, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement via Telegram on Tuesday that the ICRC team was being held by “the occupation authorities” in Manhush.
Apr 05, 7:20 am
Ukraine says seven humanitarian corridors have opened to evacuate Mariupol residents
Seven humanitarian corridors from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol were opened Tuesday to evacuate some of the 130,000 remaining residents, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.
Vereshchuk said in a statement via Telegram that the seven evacuation routes will allow Mariupol residents — many of whom have been living without electricity, food, water or shelter — to be transported to the city of Zaporizhzhia, about 140 miles northwest of Mariupol.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko confirmed on Monday that a convoy of seven buses escorted by the International Committee of the Red Cross could not make it into his southeastern port city to evacuate trapped residents. However, more than 1,500 residents were still able to flee Mariupol using a single humanitarian corridor meant for private cars, according to the mayor.
Apr 05, 6:40 am
Russian brigade accused of Bucha atrocities will be sent back to war, Ukrainian intelligence says
A brigade of the Russian Ground Forces accused of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Bucha will be sent back to war, according to the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
“The Russian command will not rotate the personnel in this unit and will throw it back to the front,” the directorate said in a statement Tuesday.
As of Monday, Russia’s 64th Motor Rifle Brigade was withdrawn from Ukraine to Belarus, according to Ukrainian intelligence. By Wednesday, the personnel will be transported to the western Russian city of Belgorod, just north of the border with Ukraine, with plans to return to the front line in the direction of the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to Ukrainian intelligence.
“Usually, Russian units leaving the combat zone receive much more time for recovery and rest,” the directorate said. “This indicates that ‘special tasks’ are expected for the 64th Brigade. The first of them: intimidation of inhabitants of settlements of Ukraine. Those who committed the crimes of genocide in Bucha may repeat this again in other cities.”
“Another goal of the rapid return of the 64th Brigade to the territory of Ukraine is the rapid ‘disposal’ of unnecessary witnesses. That is, relocation to a part of the front where they will not have a chance to stay alive to make it impossible to testify in future courts,” the directorate added. “The personnel of the unit, aware of the resonance of the events in Bucha and the responsibility for the crimes committed, massively opposes the return to Ukraine. However, the Russian command ignores these sentiments and threatens the tribunal if they refuse to continue fighting. The militaries do not accept reports of dismissal from Russian soldiers.”
On Monday, the directorate published online what it said was a list with the names of hundreds of personnel of Russia’s 64th Motor Rifle Brigade whom they believe were directly responsible for the atrocities in Bucha. Ukrainian officials have said there is evidence of other Russian units being involved. Russia has denied the claims.
Apr 05, 6:06 am
Ukraine has retaken ‘key terrain’ from Russia, UK says
Ukrainian troops have retaken “key terrain” in the north of the country, “after denying Russia the ability to secure its objectives and forcing Russian forces to retreat” from areas around Chernihiv and north of Kyiv, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Tuesday.
“Low-level fighting is likely to continue in some parts of the newly recaptured regions, but diminish significantly over this week as the remainder of Russian forces withdraw,” the ministry added. “Many Russian units withdrawing from northern Ukraine are likely to require significant re-equipping and refurbishment before being available to redeploy for operations in eastern Ukraine.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 5 April 2022
Find out more about the UK government’s response: https://t.co/C605aP9hlX
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) April 5, 2022
Apr 05, 5:24 am
Peace talks may now be off the table, Zelenskyy says
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated Tuesday that peace talks with Russia may now be off the table, following the gruesome discovery of scores of dead civilians in Bucha and other towns outside Ukraine’s capital that were recently recaptured from Russian forces.
“The most difficult thing is to talk about what they did,” Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv. “We believe that this is genocide. We believe that they should be punished for it.”
“I believe that we need to set such a bar for these negotiations,” he added. “It may happen that there will be no meeting.”
Zelenskyy’s comments came a day after he traveled to Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, where bodies in civilian clothes were found strewn in the streets and in mass graves. Many of the victims appeared to have been shot at close range and some even showed signs of torture. ABC News journalists on the ground saw some of the dead, including a family that locals said were executed with their hands bound.
Apr 05, 5:07 am
Russia threatens to fine Wikipedia if it doesn’t remove info about Ukraine war
Russia’s communications and media regulator, Roskomnadzor, is demanding that Wikipedia remove content that contradicts the Kremlin’s narrative about the war in Ukraine.
“Based on a motion from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Roskomnadzor demanded on April 4 that the Wikipedia management put an end to the dissemination of false socially significant information,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “Materials containing false information about the special military operation in Ukraine and operations of the Russian Armed Forces have been massively published on Wikipedia in the recent period. Wikipedia has become a new line for continuous information attacks on Russians.”
Roskomnadzor accused the free online encyclopedia of “deliberately” misinforming Russian users. The agency noted that it has previously asked Wikipedia “to remove false information about events in Ukraine” and threatened to fine the San Francisco-based company up to 4 million rubles (about $47,000) for failing to delete such content, which is illegal under Russian law.
Apr 04, 10:54 pm
US cuts Russia off from dollars it holds at American financial institutions
The U.S. Treasury said Monday night that it would no longer allow the Russian government to make payments on debt using dollars it holds at U.S. financial institutions, another step that puts pressure on the Russian government’s funds.
This step “was in the works before the weekend and isn’t a response” to the atrocities in Bucha, according to a Treasury spokesperson.
“One of the most potent actions of the 700-plus sanctions we’ve imposed have been our sanctions on Russia’s Central Bank, which were levied with unprecedented multilateral coordination, speed, and impact,” the spokesperson said. “Today is the deadline for Russia to make another debt payment. Beginning today, the U.S. Treasury will not permit any dollar debt payments to be made from Russian government accounts at U.S. financial institutions.”
“Russia must choose between draining remaining valuable dollar reserves or new revenue coming in, or default,” the spokesperson continued. “This will further deplete the resources Putin is using to continue his war against Ukraine and will cause more uncertainty and challenges for their financial system.”
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