Russian troops ‘forcibly deport’ more than 600,000 Ukrainians, says Kyiv; pledge to fast-track EU membership bid; investigators exhume Bucha mass graves
The US believes Russia used a short range ballistic missile in an attack on the Kramatorsk train station that killed at least 52 people, including five children, in eastern Ukraine. Russia has denied it is responsible for the attack.
Some Russian military units have experienced major losses, a senior US defence official said, and the Pentagon estimates Russia’s combat power is between 80% and 85% of pre-invasion levels. The US defence department is expecting Russia to shift its focus to the Donbas region and eastern Ukraine.
International prices for food commodities, including grains and vegetable oils, reached all time highs in March amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. The conflict was causing massive disruptions, the UN said on Friday, threatening millions of people in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere with hunger and malnourishment.
Russian troops have “forcibly deported” more than 600,000 Ukrainians, including about 121,000 children, to Russia, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner, Lyudmila Denysova, has said. She also said residents of the temporarily occupied city of Izyum in the Kharkiv region were being forcibly moved to Russia.
The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, pledged to offer Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a speedier start to his country’s bid to become a member of the EU. At a joint press conference with Zelenskiy, Von der Leyen said: “It will not as usual be a matter of years to form this opinion but I think a matter of weeks.”
Forensic investigators have begun exhuming a mass grave in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, wrapping in black plastic and laying out the bodies of civilians who officials say were killed during the Russian invasion. Since Russian troops pulled back from Bucha last week, Ukrainian officials say hundreds of civilians have been found dead.
Russia’s justice ministry has revoked the registration of 15 foreign organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The ministry said in a statement that the Russian units of the organisations “were excluded due to the discovery of violations of the current legislation of the Russian Federation”. Human Rights Watch said the move was proof the Russian government “has no use for any facts regarding the protections of civilians in Ukraine”.