Invasion could spell end to Russian culture in Ukraine, Zelenskyy says
One of the casualties of the deadly Russian invasion of Ukraine will be Russian culture itself within the nation’s borders, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address Saturday.
Though Russian is the nation’s second language, spoken by the president and nearly one third of the country, Zelenskyy argued that when the dust settles, Ukrainians will reject all things Russian.
Zelenskyy noted that Russian has been a part of daily life in the cities that are now under siege.
“Russia itself is doing everything to ensure that de-russification takes place on the territory of our state,” the president said, according to his office’s English translation of his remarks. “You are doing it. In one generation. And forever.”
U.K. says Russia is launching air attacks from farther distances
The U.K.’s defense ministry said Saturday it appears Russia is facing major challenges in its offense from the skies.
In an intelligence update the ministry said Russia’s invasion has been hampered by moves to protect its aircraft from being shot down by Ukrainian troops. Russia has been relying on munitions launched from greater distances to avoid Ukrainian air space, it said.
The result is that its air-based weapons are striking intended targets at a lower rate and its stock of its more sophisticated sky-dependent weapons is depleting, the ministry said. Citing U.S. intelligence, it said Russia is seeing 60 percent failure rates for its long-distance attacks by air.
Nonetheless, the U.K. ministry said, Russia continues to rely on aircraft and missile forces in attacks on the country’s largest cities.
In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday continued to ask the United States and NATO for air defense hardware, including planes.
Zelenskyy repeats call for planes for Ukraine’s defense
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that, amid measured success holding off an invasion by one of the world’s best-equipped militaries, Ukraine has too many guns and not enough planes and other tools for air defense.
The remarks, translated into to English by his office, were made in a video address Saturday in which Zelenskyy continued to ask NATO and the United States for better air defenses against Russian forces that have allegedly wrought indiscriminate destruction of military and civilian targets alike. Russia has denied targeting civilians.
“Ukraine cannot shoot down Russian missiles using shotguns, machine guns, which are too much in supplies,” Zelenskyy said. “And it is impossible to unblock Mariupol without a sufficient number of tanks, other armored vehicles and, of course, aircraft.”
The president said 1 percent of NATO planes would help the country beat back Russia, but he suggested the Western alliance was afraid to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“So who runs the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it still Moscow because of intimidation?” Zelenskyy said.
The U.S. rejected Poland’s proposal to make its Soviet-era fighter jets available to a U.S. base in Germany for possible handover to Ukraine because it is believed Putin will see supplying planes — as well as the imposition of a no-fly zone — as an act of direct aggression.
Biden says Putin ‘cannot remain in power,’ the White House says otherwise
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin — an attention-grabbing line a source familiar with the situation said wasn’t included in the prepared remarks.
As some noted the comment sounded like a call for regime change in Russia, the White House quickly issued a statement saying otherwise.
“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” said a White House official in a statement sent widely to reporters.
But the Kremlin was quick to seize on the remark. “That’s not for Biden to decide,” Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Reuters. “The president of Russia is elected by Russians.” Russia has for years accused the U.S. and its allies of attempting to carry out regime change in its country.
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Russian deputy denounces war in Ukraine at packed council meeting
U.S. to give additional $100M to Ukraine in civilian security assistance
The United States plans on providing an additional $100 million to Ukraine in civilian security assistance to help the country beef up its border security, safeguard critical government buildings and maintain civil law enforcement functions, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday.
The money will go toward field and tactical gear, armored vehicles, medical supplies, personal protection equipment, and communication equipment for the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service and the National Police of Ukraine.
“With the U.S. government’s vital assistance, Ukrainian law enforcement officers are playing a key role in rescuing victims of the Russian government’s brutal assault, leading and protecting convoys of those displaced by attacks, and providing security to civilian areas torn apart by ruthless and devastating bombing,” a news release states.
“The United States continues to stand with the community of nations backing the people and government of Ukraine as they defend their democracy and country.”
Blinken goes on to say that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was “unprovoked” and “unjustified.”
“We continue to urge Putin to end the violence, reign in his forces, including those who have committed war crimes, and choose the path of peace and diplomacy. We are committed to pursuing accountability for war crimes and other atrocities using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions,” the news release states.
Biden remark that Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ draws swift rebuke from Kremlin
WARSAW, Poland — President Joe Biden’s comment Saturday in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin remaining in power has drawn a swift rebuke from the Kremlin and comments from the White House seeking to clarify the remark.
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said at the conclusion of his address delivered at the Royal Castle in Warsaw.
According to a source familiar with the President’s remarks and who reviewed those remarks before they were delivered today, the President’s last line was ad-libbed, according to NBC News’ Kristen Welker and Kelly O’Donnell.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov spoke directly to Reuters saying, “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”
A White House official asserted that Biden was “not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change.” The official, who was not authorized to comment by name and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Biden’s point was that “Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region.”
Watch: British journalists come under shell fire near Ukrainian city
Purdue University to welcome up to 20 Ukrainian scholars displaced by invasion
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University plans to welcome to its campus up to 20 Ukrainian scholars who have been displaced by Russia’s invasion of their country.
The university announced Friday that its Ukraine Scholars Initiative would accept Ukrainian scholars “directly impacted by the war” that began Feb. 24 with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Purdue said the effort would offer up to 20 visiting scholars and their spouse or children from Ukraine an “opportunity to resume their academic pursuits at Purdue.”
Purdue President Mitch Daniels said the program, planned to last at least one calendar year, would be “one small contribution to help the Ukrainian people in this moment of peril.”
“Our hope is that we can offer refuge to these scholars and a chance to continue pursuing their work, and then see them return to a safe and free Ukraine,” he said in a news release.
Those eligible are scholars with faculty positions at Ukrainian universities who are engaged in academic research, and scholars enrolled in Ukrainian doctoral programs who are at the dissertation research stage of their degree program.
Each visiting scholar would be assigned a tenure-track faculty sponsor within their academic area who would serve as a mentor and adviser. Visiting scholars will hold J-1 visa status, but they would not be eligible to enroll in any degree-granting program, the school said.
Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees in Poland
Lviv hit with two Russian missile strikes, at least 5 injured
Biden rallies support for Ukraine in speech from Warsaw: ‘We stand with you’
“Democracies of the world are revitalized,” Biden said of worldwide reaction to the Russian invasion.
Speaking from a former castle in Warsaw before a crowd that included Ukrainian refugees, Biden blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin and called on the Russian people to choose a different path for their own country. He also urged Europe to end its dependence on Russian gas and unite behind a pressure campaign against Putin.
“It will not be easy, there will be costs,” the president said, as the crowd waved U.S., Ukrainian and Polish flags. “But it’s a price we have to pay. Because the darkness that drives autocracy is ultimately no match for the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere.”
“We stand with you,” he said of Ukraine.
Lviv hit with another missile strike, mayor confirms
Lviv, already rocked by two missile strikes earlier Saturday, was hit by another, Mayor Andriy Sadovy said in a tweet.
“As a result of new missile strikes on Lviv, significant damage was inflicted on infrastructure facilities,” he said, adding that houses were not damaged. “Firefighting continues. Relevant services are working on the ground.”
At least five people were injured in Saturday’s earlier missile strike. Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the Lviv Regional State Administration, said strikes impacted a residential building or other infrastructure facility.
The Ukrainian city of over 700,000 had been largely spared since the war began and has turned into a safe haven for fleeing Ukrainians. It’s believed that about 200,000 people have fled to Lviv. About two weeks ago, 35 people were killed when missiles were fired at a military training center.
Minnesota man, 28, detained by Russian forces as he fled Ukraine is released
A Minnesota man taken into custody by Russian forces while trying to cross from Ukraine into Turkey has been released, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Saturday.
Tyler Jacob, 28, of Winona, was detained earlier this month at a checkpoint Armiansk after he and some friends boarded a bus headed for the Turkish border.
Klobuchar said she had reached out to the U.S. State Department and connected with John Sullivan, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, who discussed the situation with the Russian government.
Jacob is now safe with his wife, a Ukrainian, and their daughter. The family plans on traveling to Minnesota.
Jacob had been in Ukraine since November where he taught English so he could be with his then girlfriend, according to the Star Tribune. The couple married in January and were living in Kherson when the war began.
Jacob stayed at first but eventually decided to flee. The family declined to comment on the arrest. Klobuchar said they “want to be really careful” and “at some point … the whole story will be told.”
At least 5 injured following 2 missile strikes in Lviv
LVIV, Ukraine – At least five people were injured Saturday as the sounds of multiple explosions filled the skies over Lviv.
Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the Lviv Regional State Administration, confirmed at least two missile strikes within Lviv, possibly including an impact on a residential building or other infrastructure facility which had not been confirmed.
The city of over 700,000 roughly 45 miles east of Ukraine’s border with Poland had been largely spared since the war began although 35 people were killed about two weeks ago when missiles were fired at a military training center. It’s believed that about 200,000 Ukrainians have fled to Lviv.
President Biden on Vladimir Putin: ‘He’s a Butcher’
WARSAW, Poland — Hours ahead of what he intends to be a major address in Warsaw on Saturday about the stakes for the world and the path ahead for Ukraine, President Joe Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “He’s a butcher.”
Earlier in the day Biden told Poland’s President Andrzej Duda that “your freedom is ours,” echoing one of Poland’s unofficial mottos. He assured Duda that the U.S. and other NATO allies would come to Poland’s aid if Russia should attack.
The two gathered Saturday on Biden’s final day in Europe to speak about their shared effort to end the war in neighboring Ukraine.
NATO’s deputy secretary-general says Putin’s “barbaric war” is one he cannot win
BUCHAREST, Romania — NATO’s deputy secretary-general says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s month-old “barbaric war” against Ukraine is one he cannot win.
Mircea Geoana said in an interview with The Associated Press that NATO would be “forced to take appropriate measures” in the event of a chemical or nuclear attack, which follows a string of ominous comments from Moscow officials who refuse to rule out their use. He declined to say what those measures would be.
“NATO is a defensive alliance, but also it’s a nuclear alliance,” he said. “If they will be using chemical weapons or other kinds of higher-end systems against Ukraine, this will be changing fundamentally the nature of the war that Mr. Putin has waged against Ukraine.”
“I can guarantee that NATO is ready to respond proportionately,” he added.
Biden stresses commitment to NATO in meeting with Poland’s president
President Joe Biden reiterated the need for unity among NATO nations and reassured Poland’s president Saturday that the United States views it commitment to the alliance’s defense as a “sacred obligation.”
Speaking alongside President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw, Biden said the “single most important” thing is for NATO to stay “absolutely” united — “that whatever we do we do in unison, and everyone — everyone — comes along.”
“It’s so important that we — Poland and the United States — keep in lockstep with how we’re proceeding,” he added. “And also we do acknowledge that Poland is taking on a significant responsibility.”
Poland’s President thanked Biden for his presence and said his country welcomed the deployment of U.S. soldiers to NATO’s eastern flank.
“We are grateful for this help,” he said, adding: “We are a serious partner. We are a credible ally.”
Poland lies just across the border from Ukraine, and there are concerns that the war could spill over into a NATO nation — thereby triggering Article 5, the principle of collective defense.
“We take as a sacred obligation Article 5,” Biden said Saturday. “Your freedom is ours.”
Biden joins Blinken and Austin in meeting with Ukrainian ministers
President Joe Biden joined his secretaries of state and defense for a meeting with their Ukrainian counterparts on Saturday for an update on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The White House said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III “pledged continued support to meet Ukraine’s humanitarian, security and economic needs” when they met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov.
Biden discussed “further efforts” to help Ukraine defend its territory and ongoing U.S. actions to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin “accountable for Russia’s brutal aggression,” it said in a separate statement.
The White House did not provide further details on what form that continued support or further efforts might take. Kuleba did not go into details either in a video he posted to Facebook but said Biden told him the war in Ukraine will “change the 21st century.”
Their meeting took place in Warsaw before Biden met with Poland’s president. He later will deliver a key address on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Russian tension risk seen in Finnish NATO bid
HELSINKI — Finland’s president says his country would likely be targeted by Russian cyber warfare and could face border violations if it decides to apply for membership in NATO.
Several polls in recent weeks have shown a majority of Finns now supporting NATO membership, up from 25 percent at most before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview Saturday with public broadcaster YLE that the biggest benefit would be “gaining a preventive effect.”
But he pointed to a risk of disruptive behavior by Russia during an accession process, which would take at least months.
He said an application would lead to tensions at Finland’s 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, including the possibility of “robust” border and territorial violations — not just by Russian aircraft, as Finland has experienced in the past.
Moscow has said it would consider European Union members Finland and neighboring Sweden joining NATO a hostile move that would have serious military and political repercussions.
Deaths, injuries and kidnappings: Ukrainian nonprofit outlines “crimes” against journalists
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, five journalists have been killed, seven have been injured, six have been kidnapped and and one remains missing, according to an independent journalism nonprofit.
The Institute of Mass Information said it has documented 148 “crimes” against journalists, the press in Ukraine, between Feb. 24 and March 24.
While the institute did not explicitly detail what constitutes a crime, it said in a statement Thursday that each had been “verified and documented.”
In addition to the five journalists killed in the line of work, it said three others had been killed in the fighting or as a result of Russian shelling. Among the abducted journalists, torture had been recorded, it added.
Reporters Without Borders echoed those findings in a report on Friday, which cited death kidnapping and enforced disappearance of journalists in Ukraine.
According to the institute, at least 70 regional media outlets had been forced to close down due to threats from Russian forces, newsroom seizures and issues such as disruptions to printing and distribution.
‘Generations of hurt’: Children and grandchildren of war survivors fear ripple effect of Russia’s war in Ukraine
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stretches into a second month, descendants of survivors of previous conflicts say they fear the war there could leave lasting scars on Ukrainians living through it — as well as on the generations that follow them.
It’s a psychological phenomenon is known as generational trauma. Most widely studied among children of Holocaust survivors, generational trauma, also called intergenerational or transgenerational trauma, refers to the effects of trauma that get passed down a family’s lineage, changing the lives of not just those who experienced the traumatic event but subsequent generations who never had direct exposure to it.
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Russian forces take Chernobyl workers’ town; fighting in centre of Mariupol
MARIUPOL/LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces have taken control of a town where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live, the governor of Kyiv region said on Saturday, and fighting was reported in the streets of the besieged southern port of Mariupol.
After more than four weeks of conflict, Russia has failed to seize any major Ukrainian city and on Friday Moscow signalled it was scaling back its military ambitions to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the east.
However, intense fighting was reported in a number of places on Saturday, suggesting there would be no swift let-up in the conflict, which has killed thousands of people, sent some 3.7 million abroad and driven more than half of Ukraine’s children from their homes, according to the United Nations.
Drobitsky Yar Holocaust memorial damaged by Russian forces, Ukraine says
Russian forces fired on a Holocaust memorial near the city of Kharkiv, damaging the site, Ukraine’s ministry of defense said Saturday.
On Dec. 15, 1941, an estimated 15,000 Jews were shot or forced into mass graves at Drobitsky Yar, a ravine outside the eastern Ukrainian city.
The ministry of defense posted a photo of the memorial’s damaged menorah on Twitter, saying “The Nazis have returned. Exactly 80 years later.”
Rhetoric about Nazism has featured heavily in this war: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated reason for invading Ukraine was to rid the country of so-called Nazi elements. Experts have slammed the allegations as slanderous and false.
‘My heart was breaking’: U.S. doctors, nurses bring aid, medical skills to Ukraine
Janet Semenova-Hornstein remembers the moment in early March when, watching the images of war in Ukraine, she knew she had to do something.
“My heart was breaking, seeing all those women and children,” she said.
A pediatric nurse practitioner in Scottsdale, Arizona, Semenova-Hornstein was born in the former Soviet Union, in Uzbekistan, and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was 7. Like her friend, Dr. Svetlana Reznikova-Steinway, who was born and raised in Ukraine and is now an emergency room physician in Mesa, she felt a connection to the region because of her family roots.
“Svetlana and I looked at each other and said, ‘What can we do?’” she said. “We both speak Russian. She speaks Ukrainian. We have medical skills. We were two moms living in Arizona, but we knew we had to take our skills and physically do something.”
Enlisting the help of two more friends with medical backgrounds — Dr. Cheryl Macy, an emergency room physician in Phoenix, and Carla Stark, an oncology nurse in the Scottsdale area — they began assembling donations of medical supplies. Within 72 hours, they collected 800 pounds of bandages, antibiotics and urgently needed medicines, including insulin, as well as $50,000 in monetary contributions.
Internally displaced people look out from a bus at a refugee center in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, on Friday.
Zelenskyy urges energy producers in Doha to boost output
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday urged energy-producing nations to boost their output so that Russia cannot use its energy to “blackmail” the world.
In a virtual address to the Doha Forum in Qatar, Zelenskyy stressed that energy exporters can help “restore justice” and stabilize Europe.
“I ask you to increase the output of energy to ensure that everyone in Russia understands that no country can use energy as a weapon and blackmail,” he said.
He noted that Russia’s war is endangering more than 1 million Muslims in Ukraine — and that the conflict’s disruption of exports will be felt throughout the Muslim world.
“We have to have an antiwar coalition do it all together to ensure that the sacred month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by misery,” Zelensky added.
Biden’s busy schedule in Poland gets underway
President Biden added another item to his busy agenda in Poland on Saturday — dropping by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s joint meeting with their Ukrainian counterparts.
His trip to Poland caps three days in Europe, where Biden met with world leaders to solidify their unity around pressure against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Biden is slated to meet with President of Poland Andrzej Duda at the presidential palace in Warsaw on Saturday to discuss how the U.S. and its allies are responding to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
He’ll then meet with Ukrainian refugees and the mayor of Warsaw before delivering a major address about the war in Ukraine.
In that evening speech, Biden is expected to stress the need for unity in the fact of Russian aggression and holding Russia accountable for its actions.
More than 100,000 people left Ukraine on Friday, state border service says
More than 100,000 people left Ukraine on Friday, the country’s state border service said in a statement early Saturday.
The State Border Guard Service said more than 66,000 people crossed the country’s western borders with the European Union and Moldova during the day on Friday, calling the flow of traffic “constant.”
It added that nearly 45,000 people left Ukraine that night — with the majority crossing into Poland.
More than 3.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s February invasion, according to the United Nations.
Russian forces have entered Slavutych, Ukrainian official says
Russian forces have entered the northern city of Slavutych, which is home to workers from the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant, according to a Ukrainian official.
Slavutych was built to house Chernobyl workers following the plant’s deadly 1986 nuclear disaster.
Oleksandr Pavliuk, governor of Kyiv’s regional military administration, said in a Telegram message Saturday that Russian forces had “invaded” Slavutych and seized its hospital. He said citizens had gathered in the city square for a pro-Ukraine rally.
Photos posted on Facebook by Slavutych’s city council showed a large group of people in the main square, unfurling a giant Ukrainian flag.
NBC News was not able to independently verify the claims, though officials have been warning for days that Russian troops were close to the city and that it was impossible to evacuate. On Friday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych they had fended off an initial attack on the city.
Putin designates service members involved in Ukraine invasion as combat veterans
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that designates service members involved in the war in Ukraine as combat veterans.
The law, which is published on a Russian government website, said that employees of law enforcement and security agencies involved in conflict will also be considered combat veterans, according to a translation. It referred to the ongoing invasion as a special military operation, the language consistently used by Putin and Russian forces to describe the war in Ukraine.
In an effort to crackdown on dissent in the country, the Kremlin made it illegal and punishable by 15 years in prison to refer to its invasion in Ukraine as a “war.”
Russia to continue using ‘heavy firepower’ in Ukrainian cities, U.K. says
Russia looks set to continue using “heavy firepower” in urban areas and incur further civilian casualties in Ukraine, Britain’s defense ministry said.
In an intelligence update published Saturday, it noted that Russia continues to besiege several cities — including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol — but that its troops appear “reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations,” preferring instead to rely on “indiscriminate” air and artillery bombardments.
“It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses,” the update added.
A destroyed Russian tank is seen in this image provided by the Ukrainian Ground Forces, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Trostianets, in the Sumy region on Friday.
Biden to rally support for Ukraine efforts in speech from Warsaw
Ahead of the speech, Biden plans to meet with Ukrainian refugees who have flooded into Poland. In Warsaw, where Biden is set to deliver his speech, more than 300,000 refugees have arrived, with many seeking temporary shelter in a sports arena, and a steady flow continuing to come into the city’s train station each day.
“He will speak to the stakes of this moment, the urgency of the challenge that lies ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world, and why it is so important that the free world sustain unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.
Ukraine war has killed 136 children, the country’s prosecutor general says
The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children, the country’s prosecutor general said in a Telegram post on Sunday.
It added that 199 children have been injured and that the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv saw the highest numbers of child casualties.
NBC News has not been able to verify the numbers.
The prosecutor’s message came after the United Nations said Friday that more than 1,080 civilians had been killed in the war, though the true toll is likely “considerably higher.”