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Ukraine war: UN votes in favour of suspending Russia from Human Rights Council

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By Alasdair Sandford  & AP, AFP, Reuters
An elderly woman walks by an apartment building destroyed in the Russian shelling in Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022
An elderly woman walks by an apartment building destroyed in the Russian shelling in Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky   -  

Russia's war in Ukraine is taking on a new dimension with growing evidence of human rights atrocities by Vladimir Putin's troops, accused of killing civilians in cold blood as they retreated from the Kyiv region.

Despite Moscow denying the accusations, there are fears similar massacres could be discovered in the coming days.

Ukraine is calling for more weapons from NATO and stronger Western sanctions against Russia.

Follow our latest updates from the war in our blog below, or watch TV coverage in the video player, above.

04.07.2022
06:49

Thursday's key points:

  • United Nations countries voted 93-24 in favour of suspending Russia's membership in the international body's Human Rights Council due to the allegations of a string of rights violations by its soldiers in Ukraine.
  • EU national representatives agreed on a fifth package of sanctions against Russia that includes an embargo on Russian coal imports and a ban on Russian ships in EU ports.
  • The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the imposition of a "total and immediate" embargo on imports of "oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas" from Russia.
  • 'Weapons, weapons, weapons': Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on NATO to provide Kyiv with all the weaponry it needs to fight Russia, as alliance ambassadors meet for a second day in Brussels.
  • Ukrainian officials have been urging residents of eastern regions to evacuate in the face of an impending Russian offensive. Authorities say nearly 5,000 people were evacuated from combat areas on Wednesday.
  • Ukraine has accused Hungary of "helping Putin" in the war by undermining EU unity. Meanwhile France's President Macron has responded angrily to criticism by Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki of his dialogue with Vladimir Putin.
  • A new report by Meta details a troubling increase in social media disinformation this year, with groups linked to the Kremlin spreading a false narrative about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
04.07.2022
22:58

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to travel to Kyiv on Friday

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Thursday that she would travel to Kyiv the next day to express her "unwavering support" for Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.

"The Ukrainian people deserve our solidarity. That is why I will travel to Kyiv tomorrow. I want to send a very strong message of unwavering support to the Ukrainian people and their brave fight for our common values," the EU leader said at a press conference on Thursday in Stockholm.
 

04.07.2022
22:48

Vladimir Putin's press secretary admits Russia has 'significant losses of troops'

Dmitry Peskov told Sky News that Russia had a "significant losses of troops" and said it was a "huge tragedy to us".

He also said in the interview that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO Russia would "have to rebalance the situation" and make their western flank more sophisticated in terms of assuring Russia's security.

Peskov said that NATO was "tailored for confrontation."

04.07.2022
22:38

Latvian diplomats resume their work in Ukrainian capital Kyiv

Latvian diplomats resumed their work in the Kyiv embassy, with the ambassador expected to join them.

"I am very grateful to our diplomats who work in Ukraine for their dedication and service," said Latvia's foreign affairs minister Edgars Rinkēvičs.

04.07.2022
22:08

Croatian foreign minister says western countries 'cannot allow the killings of civilians to go unpunished'

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman said on Thursday that western countries could not allow the killing of civilians to go unpunished.

"We must show our strength. We talk here about rights and the world order which the Russian side has trampled on, about the principles and all the values on which the world order is based. We cannot allow the killings of civilians to go unpunished. We have to stand up and protect our values," he said.

He spoke during a meeting of G7 foreign ministers to discuss sanctions against Russia.

Radman said that foreign ministers strongly condemned Russian aggression in Bucha and other areas of Ukraine.

(with AP)

04.07.2022
21:27

EU countries agree on Russian coal embargo

Representatives from the 27 EU member states agreed on Thursday on a Russian coal embargo as part of a fifth round of sanctions against Russia as evidence builds that Russian soldiers executed civilians in the areas outside of Kyiv.

The package of sanctions was approved by the EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives, the French EU Council presidency said in a tweet.

It includes sanctions against oligarchs and the freezing of assets of several Russian banks.

There will also be a ban on coal imports from Russia, an arms embargo, and a ban on exports to Russia.

Read the full story here.
 

04.07.2022
21:07

Mariupol: pro-Russian authorities announce 'about 5,000' civilians killed and '60% to 70%' of homes destroyed

The "new mayor" proclaimed by the pro-Russian forces in Mariupol announced on Thursday that "about 5,000 people" had died among the civilian population of this Ukrainian city, besieged for weeks by the Russian army and its separatist allies.

"About 60 to 70% of the housing stock has been destroyed or partially destroyed," added Konstantin Ivashchenko, appointed head of the city on Wednesday by Denis Pushilin, leader of the Donetsk separatists.

Ukrainian authorities have said that around 90% of the city has been destroyed. The port city is strategically located for Russia as it would create a land corridor to the Crimea peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014.

(AFP)

04.07.2022
20:20

Russian forces executed civilians in 'apparent war crimes,' Amnesty report says, citing new testimony from 20 people near Kyiv

Russian military forces "extrajudicial executed civilians in Ukraine in apparent war crimes," Amnesty International said as it published new testimony from civilians in villages close to the capital Kyiv.

"In recent weeks, we have gathered evidence that Russian forces have committed extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, which must be investigated as likely war crimes,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.

“Testimonies show that unarmed civilians in Ukraine are being killed in their homes and streets in acts of unspeakable cruelty and shocking brutality."

Several Ukrainians cited by Amnesty International said they had seen civilians, including several unarmed family members and a city mayor delivering food and medication to bomb shelters, being shot and killed by Russian forces.

One 18-year-old woman said her father had six large holes in his back. Amnesty also interviewed a woman in a village east of Kyiv who said Russian soldiers killed her husband and raped her at gunpoint.

04.07.2022
19:45

'Inflicting atrocities' were part of 'game plan all along' in Ukraine: Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that inflicting "atrocities" in Ukraine was part of Russia's "game plan all along" during a press briefing after a meeting of foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels.

"For every Bucha there are many more towns Russia has occupied and more towns that it is still occupying, places where we must assume Russian soldiers are committing more atrocities right now," Blinken told journalists after meeting foreign ministers from NATO and Ukraine in Brussels.

He said the US had warned ahead of Russia's invasion that part of the Kremlin's "campaign plan was to inflict atrocities, was to target individuals, was to commit the kinds of crimes that we're now seeing to terrorise civilian populations."

"And so this, as we saw it, was part of the game plan all along," he said.

"We've seen as the Ukrainians have pushed back this Russian tide, we see with the tide receding, what's left behind, and that is horrific death and destruction."

Blinken met with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who was in Brussels pushing NATO members for more heavy weaponry ahead of a feared major Russian offensive in the eastern Donbas region.

(AFP)

04.07.2022
19:29

Belarus wants to be included in negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is calling for his country to be included in negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine.

“There can be no negotiations without the participation of Belarus,” Lukashenko said at a meeting Thursday of his national security council. “There can be no separate agreements behind the back of Belarus.”

Russia has launched missile attacks on Ukraine from Belarus and Russian troops invaded Ukraine from Belarus. There has been no confirmation of claims that Belarusian forces entered Ukraine.

(AP)

For a summary of Wednesday's developments, click here.