UNITED NATIONS — Members of the United Nations Security Council, including Russia, have agreed on a statement expressing “strong support” for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to find a peaceful solution to the “dispute” in Ukraine.
The council scheduled a meeting later Friday to adopt the brief statement, which would be the first approved by the U.N.’s most powerful body since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
It does not mention a “war,” “conflict” or “invasion” as many council members call Russia’s ongoing military action, or a “special military operation” as Moscow refers to it.
The statement, drafted by Norway and Mexico, “expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine” and “recalls that all member states have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.”
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reached an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the evacuation of civilians, first and foremost from the besieged southeastern port city of Mauripol and its last Ukrainian forces holdout at the Azovstal steel plant where hundreds of civilians are also still living in underground bunkers.
The U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross have carried out two successful evacuations from Mariupol and surrounding areas so far and are currently trying to arrange a third from the steel plant.
Key Developments in Russia-Ukraine War
— New effort races to rescue civilians from Mariupol plant
— Europe’s farmers stir up biogas to offset Russian energy
— With Ukraine’s ports blocked, trains in Europe haul grain
— A song with power: Ukraine’s Eurovision entry unites nation
— Official: US gave intel before Ukraine sank Russian warship
— Jill Biden to meet Ukrainian refugees during border visit
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Ukraine Expects More Shelling Amid Russia’s Victory Day Celebrations
KYIV, Ukraine — Officials from Ukraine’s national security council warned residents Friday against the increased risk of shelling on Sunday and Monday, coinciding with Russia’s Victory Day celebrations.
A Facebook post published on the profile of the Center for Counteracting Disinformation, under the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, urged Ukrainians not to ignore air raid sirens.
“Since Russian troops cannot boast of any significant achievements on the front by Victory Day, the risk of massive shelling of Ukrainian cities these days is increasing,” the post said.
Separately on Friday, Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said authorities will not extend the curfew in Kyiv; one has already been introduced. But street patrols would be reinforced.
Moscow commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9 each year.
Biden Will Meet Virtually With World Leaders
AIR FORCE ONE — White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will meet virtually with other Group of Seven leaders Sunday along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The virtual meeting will occur just before Russia’s Victory Day on Monday. Psaki says the date of the meeting is significant because it shows the unity of the allies ahead of a day when Russian President Vladimir Putin hoped to mark his victory over Ukraine. But Russia has been bogged down by Ukrainian forces and hampered by financial and trade sanctions.
Speaking Friday aboard Air Force One, Psaki says the G7 countries will discuss the war, its global impact, Ukraine’s future, and building on the existing sanctions.
Psaki says she does not have any additional sanction details to share.
Ukraine Says It Recaptured Villages
KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian army said Friday it had made progress in the northeastern Kharkiv region, recapturing five villages and part of a sixth.
“As a result of the offensive by units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, control was restored over the settlements of Aleksandrovka, Fedorovka, Ukrainka, Shestakovo, Pobeda and part of the village of Cherkassky Tishki,” said a Facebook post published Friday afternoon on the official profile of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Russian Troops Accused of Kidnapping, Looting
KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian governor of the eastern Luhansk region accused Russian troops Friday of “terrorizing” residents of a frontline city as they try to advance across the Seversky Donets River.
In a Telegram post, Serhiy Haidai said more than 3,500 residents of the city of Kreminna had found themselves in Russian-controlled territory.
“The captured city is teeming with Russian military equipment. Fighting is going on in the vicinity,” he wrote. “The Russians are terrorizing the population in every possible way: from checking phones to forcibly disappearing Ukrainian patriots. … Almost every house has been looted.”
He added that Kreminna suffered from food and electricity shortages and that mobile communications had been shut down.
The accuracy of his statements could not be immediately verified.
French Farmers Break Free of Russian Energy
SONCHAMP, France — In lush fields southwest of Paris, farmers are joining Europe’s fight to free itself from Russian gas.
They’ll soon turn on the tap of a new facility where crops and agricultural waste are mashed up and fermented to produce “biogas.” It’s among energy solutions being promoted on the continent that wants to choke off funding for Russia’s war in Ukraine by no longer paying billions for Russian fossil fuels.
Small rural gas plants that provide energy for hundreds or thousands of nearby homes aren’t — at least anytime soon — going to supplant the huge flows to Europe of Russian gas that powers economies, factories, businesses, and homes. And critics of using crops to make gas argue that farmers should be concentrating on growing food — especially when prices are soaring amid the fallout of the war in Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets.
Still, biogas is part of the puzzle of how to reduce Europe’s energy dependence.
Ukraine Swaps Prisoners With Russia
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said Friday that 41 more Ukrainians were released that day in a prisoner swap with Russia.
Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram that the 41 people who’ve been returned include 28 military personnel and 13 civilians.
Russia: No Intention to Use Nuclear Weapons
MOSCOW — Russia has no intention of deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday, a day after Moscow’s top diplomat in the U.S. chided Western officials for targeting it with “baseless” accusations.
“Russia firmly abides by the principle that there can be no victors in a nuclear war and it must not be unleashed,” Alexey Zaitsev said. He added that the Russian nuclear doctrine does not envisage any scenarios for potential strikes which would apply to Moscow’s military goals in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Zaitsev added that “any provocations whatsoever can be expected” from Ukraine and the West, and that Russia has to “be ready for any development in the media space and directly on the ground.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russia’s parliament speaker Vyacheslav Volodin both asserted this week that Moscow would not use nuclear weapons first.
Official Says Russia Will Never Leave Southern Ukraine Region
A Russian senator said Friday that Russia will remain “forever” in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, whose capital has been occupied by Moscow’s troops since early March.
Andrey Turchak from the ruling United Russia party visited Kherson on Friday, meeting with its Russian-appointed governor Volodymyr Saldo.
“I want to say once again — Russia is here forever. There should be no doubt about it,” Turchak is heard saying in a video published by Russia’s state RIA Novosti agency.
“We will live together, develop this rich region, rich in historical heritage, rich thanks to the people who live here,” he added.
When asked about the future formal status of the Kherson region, Turchak cautioned against “running too far ahead” and said that “in any case, the status is determined by the residents.”
Berlin Braces for Protest Confrontations
BERLIN — Police in the German capital are bracing for possible confrontations between pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protesters around the anniversary of the end of World War II.
Berlin police said Friday that security around 15 memorial sites across the city will be stepped up on May 8 and 9, and officers will crack down on any attempts to glorify Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The Russian government has tried to portray the leadership in Kyiv as ‘Nazis’ — a claim both Ukraine and Germany have ridiculed.
Berlin’s police chief Barbara Slowik said authorities have banned the use of Russian or Ukrainian flags, the playing of military music or the wearing of uniforms or the orange and black ribbon of St. George showing support for the Russian military anywhere near the memorial sites.
German news agency dpa quoted police saying that some 3,400 officers will be deployed throughout the city on both days.
EU Official Fears Russia Will Expand Invasion to Moldova
ROME — The European Union’s foreign affairs chief has voiced worry that Russia might expand its war in Ukraine to include Moldova, a small nation that borders southern Ukraine.
Josep Borrell, the top EU diplomat, was asked at a forum in Florence, Italy, on Friday if the European Union was concerned about what could happen to Moldova.
“Yes, we’re very much worried about what can happen,’’ Borrell said. “The temptation to expand the war and affect Moldova is a possibility,’’ Borrell said.
He cited recent explosions in the country as well as the presence of Russian troops. Last month, two explosions in a radio facility close to the border with Ukraine knocked out of service a pair of powerful broadcast antennas in Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistria, according to local police.
Transnistria is a narrow strip of land that has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova. Russia bases some 1,500 troops in the breakaway region, describing them as peacekeepers.
Hungary Needs Russian Oil, Prime Minister Says
BUDAPEST, Hungary – A European Union embargo on Russian oil would be equivalent to dropping an “atomic bomb” on Hungary’s economy and could thus not be accepted, the country’s nationalist prime minister said on Friday.
Speaking on state radio, Viktor Orban reiterated earlier statements from Hungarian officials that Hungary would not support a new round of proposed EU sanctions against Russia if they included a ban on Russian oil exports.
Orban said that while his government is willing to negotiate on any EU proposals that are in Hungary’s interests, the country’s geography and existing energy infrastructure make a shutdown of Russian oil unfeasible.
“We cannot accept a proposal that ignores this circumstance because in its current form it is equivalent to an atomic bomb dropped on the Hungarian economy,” Orban said.
On Friday, Orban said that converting Hungary’s oil refineries and pipelines to be able to process oil from different sources would take five years and require massive investment.