The UN Secretary-General has been visiting the sites of atrocities near Kyiv on Thursday, before heading to the capital for talks with Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the afternoon, as UN humanitarian teams plan an evacuation of civilians from Mariupol in coordination with the Red Cross.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that any outside interference in the conflict in Ukraine would be met with a "swift and devastating response" -- even as the UK foreign secretary urged Western allies to send more heavy weapons to Ukraine, including planes.
Read more about Thursday's events as they unfolded in our blog below.
Thursday's key points:
- United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, in Ukraine to see President Zelenskyy, called on Moscow to "agree to cooperate" with international war crimes investigations.
- At least two explosions hit Kyiv after the meeting, with Guterres said to be "safe" but "shocked".
- Earlier on Thursday, while visiting towns near Kyiv which have become the symbol of Russian atrocities, he decried war as "hell" and "nonsense in the 21st century".
- Rocket attacks were also reported in Odesa, with at least two series of explosions and three rockets reported intercepted according to the local authorities.
- The Kremlin has said European security is threatened by Western arms supplies. It came after the UK's top diplomat called for more heavy weapons to be sent, and for Russia to be pushed out of the "whole of Ukraine".
- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Finland and Sweden would be embraced with open arms should they decide to join the military alliance. The Nordic nations' intelligence chiefs have warned they must prepare for increased Russian spy operations, cyber-attacks and attempts to influence politicians.
- German lawmakers have voted in favour of sending heavy weapons to Ukraine in a symbolic decision reflecting the government's change of course.
- President Zelenskyy says Russia is using gas as a weapon against Europe, after state-owned Gazprom cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.
- Both countries though could be okay without Russian gas supplies for a few months -- at least until winter.
- The UN says its humanitarian office is mobilising an experienced team to coordinate the complex evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.
- Vladimir Putin warned against any outside intervention in the conflict in Ukraine, promising it would be met with a "swift and devastating" response.
This is the end of our live blog for today. Euronews is signing off.
Former Georgian president predicts Ukraine victory, labels Zelenskyy 'new Churchill'
Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who fought and lost a short war against Russia to reclaim renegade regions, says Ukraine will defeat Moscow and has hailed Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a "new Churchill".
Saakashvili, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, lost control of around one-fifth of Georgian territory during a 2008 war in which Russian forces garrisoned two breakaway regions.
Saakashvili, who has worked with Zelenskyy in the past, was sentenced in Georgia to six years in prison in absentia in 2018 for abusing his office during his presidency.
He is currently on trial for illegally entering Georgia after returning to the country. His defence has dismissed all charges against him as politically motivated.
Explosions rock Kyiv after Guterres meeting
At least two explosions were heard on Thursday evening in the Ukrainian capital shortly after a meeting between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
The explosions, which sent plumes of black smoke into the air, came shortly after the two leaders held a press conference in which Guterres condemned the atrocities committed in towns like Bucha, where evidence of mass killings of civilians was found after Russia retreated.
"This says a lot about Russia's real attitude towards international institutions, about the efforts of Russian leaders to humiliate the UN and everything the organisation stands for," Zelenskyy said in a video posted on his Telegram channel.
The explosions caused fires in at least two high-rise buildings. In footage released by the Ukrainian presidency, Guterres walked across a courtyard and met Zelenskyy outside before their meeting.
Guterres and his team were "safe" but "shocked", UN spokesperson Saviano Abreu told reporters in a message.
Kyiv has largely escaped the heavy shelling Russian forces have inflicted on other areas of Ukraine.
Dozens of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians return home after prisoner exchange with Russia
Russia has handed over 33 Ukrainian soldiers, including 13 officers, in an exchange of prisoners of war with Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Thursday.
"We are also bringing home 12 civilians," Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Five of the troops exchanged on Thursday had been wounded, she said.
Vereshchuk did not say how many Russians were involved in the exchange.
UN Security Council failed to prevent war in Ukraine, secretary-general says
The UN Security Council has "failed to prevent and end" the war in Ukraine, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at a news conference in Kyiv on Thursday.
"The Security Council has failed to do what it can to prevent and end this war," Guterres said alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, calling it "a source of great disappointment, frustration and anger".
Ukraine's prosecutor identifies 10 suspects accused of Bucha atrocities
Ukraine’s prosecutor on Thursday identified 10 Russian soldiers she accused of atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, one of the war’s major flashpoints that helped galvanise Western support of Ukraine.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on Facebook that the 10 soldiers in Russia’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Ground Forces Brigade who occupied Bucha were “involved in the torture of peaceful people.”
She did not specifically say that her office had filed criminal charges and appealed to the public to help develop evidence.
The 10 suspects included officers as high as a general, as well as privates. The Russian government denies it targets civilians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently honoured the brigade’s work, and Venediktova said he bears responsibility for the soldiers’ actions as their commander-in-chief.
“During the occupation of Bucha, they took unarmed civilians hostage, killed them with hunger and thirst, kept them on their knees with hands tied and eyes taped, mocked and beat them,” Venediktova said.
She added that the Russian soldiers threatened to shoot the hostages and looted houses.
Biden: Proxy war claims 'not true'
US President Jow Biden has rejected the idea that NATO is waging a proxy war against Russia, as the country's FM has claimed.
He said at the White House on Thursday that the idea of a larger proxy war was concerning but “not true," while promising an additional $33 billion in military aid to Ukraine.
“Instead of saying that the Ukrainians, equipped with some capability to resist Russian forces, are doing this, they’ve got to tell their people that the United States and all of NATO is engaged,” Biden said.
Russia’s foreign minister has accused Nato of fighting a proxy war by supplying military aid to Ukraine, as defence ministers gathered in Germany on Tuesday for US-hosted talks on arming Ukraine.
“Nato, in essence, is engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and is arming that proxy," said Sergei Lavrov.
"War means war.”
UK nationals killed in Ukraine
The UK government has announced that a British national has been killed in Ukraine, while another is missing.
The Foreign Office said Thursday it was supporting the family of a UK citizen killed in Ukraine, saying it was "urgently seeking further information" on another whose whereabouts are currently unknown.
No further details were provided by the government.
The Britons were believed to have been fighting with Ukrainians against Russian forces, reported Sky News.
British volunteers - alongside those from around the world - have travelled to fight in Ukraine, despite being warned not to do so by their governments.
Spain tries to cushion itself from Ukraine war
Spain's parliament has approved a €16 million relief package to cushion the impact of soaring energy prices amid the war in Ukraine.
The new bill was only narrowly approved by MPs, with 176 votes in favour and 172 against.
Thirteen lawmakers from the Republican Left of Catalonia -- which normally supports the Spanish government -- voted against the motion.