MOSCOW - More than 1 million people, including nearly 200,000 children, have been taken from Ukraine to Russia since the Russian invasion began, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday, according to the state-owned news agency TASS.
Defense Ministry official Mikhail Mizintsev said those included 11,550 people, including 1,847 children, in the previous 24 hours, “without the participation of the Ukrainian authorities.”
He said those civilians “were evacuated to the territory of the Russian Federation from the dangerous regions” of Donetsk, Lugansk and other parts of Ukraine, according to the report. No details were provided on the location or circumstances of the moves.
Throughout the war, Ukraine has accused Moscow’s troops of taking civilians against their will to Russia or Russian-controlled areas, something the Kremlin has denied.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking Monday to Greek state TV ERT, said half a million Ukrainians have been “illegally taken to Russia, or other places, against their will.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
- Evacuation of civilians from Ukrainian steel plant begins
- Israel angered by Lavrov’s remarks on Hitler and Nazism
- Push to arm Ukraine strains US weapons stockpile
- Pelosi, in surprise Kyiv trip, vows unbending US support
- Jill Biden to meet Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Slovakia
Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
OTTAWA - Ukraine’s ambassador-designate to Canada says Russia must be held accountable for its troops committing sex crimes, including against children.
Yulia Kovaliv told a Canadian House of Commons committee Monday that Russia is using sexual violence as a weapon of war and said rape and sexual assault must be investigated as war crimes.
She said Russia also has kidnapped Ukrainian children and taken them to Russian-occupied territories and now Russia itself. Ukraine is working with partners to find the children and bring them back.
“Russians, a few days ago, killed a young mother and taped her living child to her body and attached a mine between them,″ the ambassador said. She said the mine detonated.
All of Russian society, and not just President Vladimir Putin “and his proxies,” should bear responsibility for the war on Ukraine because more than 70% of Russians support the invasion, Kovaliv said.
WASHINGTON - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived Monday at the Capitol after leading a surprise delegation trip to Ukraine, vowing the U.S. Congress has “more to do” to help the country fight the Russian invasion.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to touch down in Kyiv since the start of the war and she called the congressional delegation’s meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “informative and it was inspiring.”
The trip with Democratic lawmakers comes as Congress is preparing a $33 billion package of military and humanitarian aid, but now some lawmakers also are discussing a “Marshall Plan”-type effort to eventually help rebuild Ukraine as the U.S. aided Europe after World War II.
Pelosi returned to the Capitol in Washington to sign and send President Joe Biden legislation passed last week by Congress that would update a World War II-era military lend-lease law and streamline the process for sending aid to Ukraine. Biden is expected to sign it into law.
GENEVA — The Union of European Football Associations has kicked Russian soccer teams out of the Women’s European Championship, the next men’s Champions League and qualifying for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The latest round of sporting sanctions Monday during Russia’s war on Ukraine followed UEFA and FIFA suspending Russian national and club teams in February from playing in international competitions, including the men’s World Cup playoffs.
The latest expulsions are likely to be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, just as the Russian Football Union has challenged the previous decisions.
UEFA said Portugal will take Russia’s place in the Women’s Euro 2022 being hosted by England in July. Russian Premier League winner Zenit St. Petersburg’s place in the next Champions League group stage will go instead to the champion of Scotland, according to UEFA’s updated list of allocated entries.
Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden will ban from their national ice hockey teams any players who appear in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League next season. Both ice hockey federations announced their decisions on Monday, two days after the Russian league’s season ended.
WASHINGTON — The highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the U.S. has condemned as “sickening” Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s antisemitic comments about the Ukraine invasion.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that Russia is fooling no one by trying to justify its brutal invasion of Ukraine with a “deranged conspiracy theory” against the Jewish people. Schumer, a New York Democrat, is the U.S. Senate’s first Jewish majority leader.
“I have only one word for this: Sickening,” Schumer said in the Senate.
Lavrov was asked during an interview over the weekend with an Italian news channel about Russian claims that it invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the country — a seemingly confusing position since Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish.
Lavrov suggested falsely that Jewish people themselves are “the biggest antisemites.” Schumer said he condemned Lavrov’s comments in the strongest possible way.
“You’re fooling no one,” Schumer said. “The crimes of Russia are as plain as day for the world to see.”
LONDON - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to address Ukraine’s parliament, delivering a message that the fight against Russian invasion is Ukraine’s “finest hour.”
Johnson’s office says the U.K. leader will announce a new 300 million pound ($375 million) package of military aid to Ukraine when he speaks to the legislature by video link on Tuesday. Britain has already sent Ukraine equipment including missiles and missile launchers. The new package includes electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices.
In advance extracts of the address released by the prime minister’s office, Johnson evokes a 1940 speech by World War II leader Winston Churchill as the U.K. fought attack from Nazi Germany. Johnson will say that “the British people showed such unity and resolve that we remember our time of greatest peril as our finest hour. This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come.”
Ukrainian President Volydymyr Zelenskyy addressed Britain’s Parliament on March 8, and also likened his country’s struggle to Britain’s fight against the Nazis. Johnson visited Kyiv on April 9.
WASHINGTON - A senior U.S. official says the United States believed Russia is planning this month to annex large portions of eastern Ukraine and recognize the southern city of Kherson as an independent republic.
Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said Monday that the suspected actions are “straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook” and will not be recognized by the United States or its partners and allies.
Carpenter said the U.S. and others have information that Russia is planning “sham referenda” in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” that would attach the entities to Russia. He also said there were signs that Russia would engineer an independence vote in the city of Kherson.
“We believe that the Kremlin may try to hold sham referenda to try to add a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy and this is straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook,” he said, adding that the information suggested the votes could come as early as mid-May. “Such sham referenda, fabricated votes will not be considered legitimate, nor will any attempts to annex additional Ukrainian territory,” he said.
Carpenter did not detail the information that led to the assessment, although there have been public reports that Russia is moving to exert greater control over areas that it already controls and occupies in eastern and southern Ukraine. He pointed to evidence that local mayors and legislators there have been abducted, that internet and cell phone service had been severed and that Russian school curricula is soon to be imposed.
ROME - Italian Premier Mario Draghi said that statements made by Russia’s foreign minister on Italian television regarding Nazism and antisemitism were “aberrant” and “obscene.”
Draghi told a press conference Monday that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statements that Adolf Hitler was Jewish “is truly obscene.”
He also noted that Lavrov comes from a country “where there is no freedom of expression. This country permits the free expression of opinions, even when they are clearly false and aberrant. My judgment is that what Minister Lavrov said is aberrant.”
Draghi also criticized the TV format, noting that Lavrov was permitted to speak freely without being contradicted. “You spoke of an interview,’’ Draghi said. “It was really a rally.”
“The question is if it should be accepted to invite a person to ask to be interviewed without any contradictions for a period of time, not for one minute or two, without any contradiction. That is not great professionally. It brings up strange questions,″ Draghi said.
Lavrov was interviewed Sunday evening for a program on the private Mediaset network, owned by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a long-time friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi criticized Putin for the invasion at a rally some six weeks after the invasion was launched.
WASHINGTON - The CIA says Russians disaffected by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine may be trying to get in touch with U.S. intelligence - and it wants them to go to the darknet.
The agency on Monday began a new push to promote its presence on a part of the internet accessible only through specialized tools that provide more anonymity. The CIA has a darknet site that has the same features as its regular homepage but accessible only through the Tor internet browser, which has encryption features not available on most regular browsers.
Instructions in English and Russian on how to access the darknet site appeared Monday on the CIA’s social media channels. The agency hopes Russians living abroad can share the instructions with contacts inside the country.
While many Russians appear to support what the Kremlin officially calls a “special military operation,” longtime Russia watchers think Putin’s management of the war may push away some powerful people who disagree with him. Even with immense capabilities to capture communications and satellite imagery, it remains critical for Western intelligence agencies to recruit human sources who can offer insight into the Kremlin and conditions inside Russia.
“Our global mission demands that individuals can contact us securely from anywhere,” the agency said in a statement.
LVIV, Ukraine - Authorities say a Russian missile attack struck the Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday evening.
Maksym Marchenko, the governor of the Odesa region in southwestern Ukraine, wrote on the messaging app Telegram that the strike killed and wounded people but didn’t specify how many. He added that an infrastructure site was hit, without identifying what it was.
The secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, Oleksiy Danilov, also said the attack on Odesa took the roof off a church belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox faction loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate.
BOSTON - Twenty-four hours after internet service was disconnected to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Kherson, which Russian troops seized in early March, it has resumed but is now under Kremlin control, network analysts say.
“Someone must have activated a line from Crimea to Kherson,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for Kentik Inc. He called the development “eerily similar” to what occurred after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
The London-based internet monitor Netblocks, like Madory, reported that the Kherson region’s traffic had been rerouted as of Sunday evening through Russia’s state-controlled Rostelecom after a day-long outage.
On Sunday, Ukrainian officials said internet and cellular communications were cut in a large area of the Kherson region and part of the Zaporizhzhia region and blamed Russia. They attributed the outages to breakages in fiber optic backbone cables and a power outage.
The Ukrainian State Service of Special Communication said the Kremlin had falsely claimed Ukraine’s government had ordered a shutdown.
In a statement, it called the outage “another enemy attempt to leave Ukrainians without access to the true information” and suggested Moscow was preparing to try to cement political control by introducing the Russian ruble as currency and staging a “possible fake referendum.”
BRUSSELS - Poland urged its European Union partners on Monday to unite and impose sweeping sanctions on Russia’s oil and natural gas sectors over the war in Ukraine, and not to cave in to pressure to pay for their gas in Russian rubles.
EU ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss their response to Russia’s decision last week to cut gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland. Energy giant Gazprom says the two countries failed to pay their bills in April.
“We will call for immediate sanctions on Russian oil and gas. This is the next, and urgent, and absolute step,” Polish Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said. “We already have coal. Now it’s time for oil, and (the) second step is for gas. The best option is take them all together.”
Russian energy giant Gazprom cut supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last week after President Vladimir Putin said that “unfriendly” countries must start paying for gas in rubles, Russia’s currency. Bulgaria and Poland have refused to do so, like most EU countries. More Gazprom bills are due May 20, and the bloc is wary that Russia might turn off more taps then.
The 27 nation EU imports around 40% of the gas it consumes from Russia. But some member countries, notably Hungary and Slovakia, are more heavily dependent on Russian supplies than others, and support for a gradual phasing in of an oil embargo is emerging.
Teams of workers strove Monday to repair a bridge in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine that was damaged in what a local governor described as an act of sabotage.
The regional administration said it expects the repair work will be completed Wednesday.
Kursk regional Gov. Roman Starovoit said Sunday that the bridge was blown up by unidentified attackers and the Investigative Committee, Russia’s top state investigative agency, has launched a criminal probe into what it described as a “terrorist act.”
Officials didn’t specify the significance of the bridge for the war, but it sits on a key railway link used to ferry supplies to Russian troops fighting in eastern Ukraine.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the bridge, that follows a series of explosions and fires in western Russia amid the war in Ukraine that has entered a third month.
LVIV, Ukraine - U.S. diplomats have made a day trip back into Ukraine amid that country’s grinding war with Russia.
Kristina Kvien, U.S. Embassy charge d’affaires, attended a news conference Monday in Lviv to highlight the diplomatic return.
The U.S. pulled out of its Kyiv embassy to Lviv before the war, then pulled out entirely after Russia began its war on Ukraine in February.
In recent days, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited, promising diplomats would return.
Kvien spoke at the Lviv’s city council building in front of a Chestnut Briotti tree planted in April 2021 by America. She said America was there to support Ukraine and hoped to return to Kyiv soon.
Andriy Sadovyi, Lviv’s mayor, also attended the event. He pledged that Ukraine would “kick out the enemy from our land.”
KYIV, Ukraine - Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod walked the streets of Kyiv suburbs on Monday to view the devastation caused by Russian forces before they withdrew.
He tweeted to say that it was “horrible” to witness the destruction, which he viewed with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
Kofod also said that Denmark firmly supports the work to investigate and prosecute those responsible for killing civilians in those areas, referring to the International Criminal Court’s work in investigating possible war crimes.
Denmark’s Embassy in Kyiv reopened Monday after closing earlier in the war. Kofod said he hoisted the Danish flag on the building.
KYIV, Ukraine - Ukrainian authorities say the Russian military again has struck a strategic bridge in the country’s southwest.
Odesa region Gov. Maksym Marchenko said that the Russians on Monday hit a bridge across the Dniester Estuary west of Odesa where the Dniester River flows into the Black Sea. The bridge already had been heavily damaged in two previous Russian missile strikes.
The bridge provides the only railway connection and the key highway link to areas west of Odesa. Its destruction cuts access to shipments of weapons and other cargo from neighboring Romania.
The attacks on the bridge followed a claim by a senior Russian military officer that Russia aims to take control of the entire south of Ukraine and build a land corridor to the separatist Transnistria region of Moldova, where tensions have recently escalated.
The region broke away after a short civil war in the early 1990s, and is unrecognized by most countries. An estimated 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed there. Ukrainian and Western officials have voiced concern that Russia could use the region to open a new front in the war against Ukraine.
KYIV, Ukraine - Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says his Russian counterpart’s recent remarks about Adolf Hitler and Jews demonstrate “the deeply-rooted antisemitism of the Russian elites.”
In an interview with an Italian news channel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that Ukraine could still have Nazi elements even if some figures, including President Volodymry Zelenskyy, were Jewish. “Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it doesn’t mean anything,” he said, according to an Italian translation.
“Lavrov could not help hiding the deeply rooted antisemitism of the Russian elites,” Kuleba said in a tweet Monday. “His heinous remarks are offensive to President Zelenskyy, Ukraine, Israel, and the Jewish people. More broadly, they demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations.”
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