The essentials in brief:
- Zelenskii provides a video address in Doha
- Biden compares Ukrainian resistance to the Tiananmen protests
- Russia continues to restrict freedom of the press
- France plans a mission to evacuate the port city of Mariupol
- Attack on the Ukrainian Air Force headquarters in Vinnytsia
The Ukrainian president made a video appearance at the “Doha Forum” in Qatar. Volodymyr Zelenskii called on the fossil fuel-rich country and other states to increase their production volumes to compensate for the loss of Russian energy supplies. So Russia could not “use its oil and gas reserves as a weapon to blackmail the world,” Zelenskyy said in his video speech. Countries like Qatar, host of the conference, could make a contribution to stabilizing energy supply in Europe. “The future of Europe depends on their efforts”.
Zelenskii also warned participants in the “Doha Forum” about the effects on themselves of the threatening food shortage caused by the war against his country: no country can be safe from food price shocks, Zelenskii said. Russian troops have occupied Ukrainian fields and “blow up our agricultural equipment”, so the president described the situation in the country himself.
Biden compares Ukrainian resistance to the Tiananmen protests
US President Joe Biden praised the struggle of Ukrainians against Russian troops and compared it to student protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. During his visit to Poland, a NATO country, which borders Ukraine , Biden praised the “courage” and “resilience” of the Ukrainian population. For example, he cited “a 30-year-old woman standing in front of a (Russian) tank with a gun”.
Joe Biden addresses American soldiers in Poland
Beginning his visit to Poland on Friday, Biden traveled to the town of Rzeszow, some 90 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Biden told the American soldiers stationed there: “You are in the midst of a struggle between democracies and autocrats.” Together with the Polish head of state Andrzej Duda, he also inquired about assistance to Ukrainian refugees. Biden once again called the head of the Kremlin Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
On Friday evening, the president of the United States flew to the capital Warsaw, where he has other appointments on Saturday. In a speech, Biden will talk about why it is so important “for the free world to maintain unity and determination in the face of Russian aggression,” announced his national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
“Huge sums of money spent on lies”
According to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, the Russian leadership has spent billions of dollars on propaganda. “You all know very well what a huge state propaganda system Russia has built,” Zelenskii said in a video message Saturday night. “Probably no one in the world has ever spent such huge sums on lies.”
Record daily video messages: Volodymyr Zelenskyy
But “where the road of lies must be paved with money, the result is not guaranteed”, continued Zelenskii. “The path of truth is difficult, but the truth is made in his way.”
Russia further restricts the freedom of the press
In the course of the war against Ukraine, Russia recently tightened its laws. Now the leadership in Moscow has been strengthened again. President Vladimir Putin has passed another law against the dissemination of alleged false news. Fines or imprisonment are now being threatened not only for alleged “fake news” about the Russian armed forces, but also about the work of Russian state bodies abroad. As reported by the media in Moscow, this affects the work of authorities, embassies or commercial agencies, on whose work abroad the Kremlin believes that false information may be disseminated.
Duma Deputy Chinshtein: “Protecting Russia’s Interests Beyond Borders”
The Kremlin published the law signed by Putin late on Friday. Consequently, the “public dissemination of deliberately false information under the pretext of truthful communications” threatens penalties ranging from 700,000 rubles (6,300 euros) to 1.5 million rubles (13,500 euros) or imprisonment of up to three years. The law serves those “who protect Russia’s interests outside its borders,” Congressman Alexander Chinstein previously said.
The penalties for officials who commit such acts are significantly more severe: fines from three to five million rubles or imprisonment from five to ten years. In the event of particularly serious consequences for the dissemination of such false information, there is a risk of up to 15 years of imprisonment.
The Prime Minister makes an appeal to the world
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal has asked all mayors of the world for humanitarian aid for the population of his country. At the same time, he appealed to all international partners to support the subsequent reconstruction of his country.
Schmyhal said he is addressing this request not only to friendly governments, but also to the mayors of European cities and other cities around the world. “We appeal to you: renew the tradition of sister cities. Support Ukrainian cities with humanitarian aid and funds for reconstruction”.
The Commissioner for Integration estimates the number of refugees
According to the federal government, more than 300,000 refugees have already arrived in Germany from Ukraine. This figure was given by the commissioner for government integration, Reem Alabali-Radovan. As before, it was mainly women with their children and the elderly who came, the Social Democrat politician said.
Arrival of Ukrainian refugees from Moldova at Frankfurt airport (Friday)
“I would like to thank all those who hosted war refugees in their homes in the first few weeks and supported them personally,” Alabali-Radovan told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. However, he sees it as a key task of the state to provide shelter for refugees.
Tri-country initiative for the evacuation of Mariupol
Together with Turkey and Greece, France is planning humanitarian action to bring people to safety at short notice from the hotly contested Mariupol port in eastern Ukraine. There are already concrete talks with the mayor of Mariupol and a vote with President Zelenskii, said the French head of state Emmanuel Macron. He will speak again with Kremlin chief Putin in the next 48-72 hours “to work out the details”.
A destroyed tank in northern Mariupol (Wednesday)
Mariupol’s 150,000 remaining residents lived there in “dramatic conditions,” Macron said. According to local authorities, more than 2,000 civilians were killed in the city on the Sea of Azov. The bombing of a theater used as a shelter last week is said to have killed around 300 people.
Kiev is probably still in the sights of the Russian army
The Ukrainian army still believes that a large-scale attack by Russian troops on the capital Kiev is possible. To do this, the enemy continues to gather strong forces, said Army Chief of Staff Olexander Grusewitsch. In addition, according to the results of the reconnaissance in the Caucasian Republic of Dagestan, special units are being prepared for this mission. The statements of Grusewitsch cannot be independently verified. Recently, Ukrainian troops managed to retake several positions and cities in the Kiev area.
On Friday, Russia indicated a change in military strategy in the war in Ukraine. The first targets set for the “special military operation” have been achieved and “Ukrainian combat units have been significantly reduced,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Rudskoy. This would allow the Russian army to focus “most of its efforts on the main objective: the liberation of the Donbass” in eastern Ukraine.
Damaged Ukrainian Air Force Command Center
The Ukrainian aviation headquarters in Vinnytsia, in the west of the country, was hit by an attack. According to the Ukrainian army, Russian forces fired six cruise missiles at the building. Some were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses, while others were hit and “caused significant damage”. A photo posted on Facebook shows severe destruction.
Ukrainian aviation and air defense have so far been able to prevent the Russian army from taking full control of Ukrainian airspace. A Pentagon official recently said the Ukrainian air force is demonstrating “great skill”.
The Pentagon reports fighting around Kherson
According to the US Department of Defense, the Ukrainian army has launched an offensive to retake the city of Cherson in the south of the country. “The Ukrainians are trying to recapture Kherson and we would say that Kherson is currently contested territory again,” a Pentagon official said in Washington.
“We can’t confirm exactly who is in control of Kherson, but the city doesn’t appear to be under Russian control as clearly as before.” Kherson, located near the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula, was the first major city in Ukraine to be captured by the Russian army in early March.