The Latest: EU official accuses Russia of war crimes
By The Associated Press
BRUSSELS – EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, most notably in the besieged port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians have been killed.
Borrell says that “what’s happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. Destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful.”
He says Russia has lost any moral high ground and he underlined that “war also has law.” Borrell’s remarks Monday came as he arrived to chair a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands is gathering evidence about any possible war crimes in Ukraine, but Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says his country is “certainly open to other mechanisms for accountability in terms of the atrocities that are taking place in Ukraine right now.”
Coveney says social media images of the war are “driving a fury across the European Union” for those responsible to be held to account.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
– Russia demands Mariupol lay down arms but Ukraine says no
– ‘No city anymore’: Mariupol survivors take train to safety
– Biden adds stop in Poland, crucial ally in the Ukraine crisis, to his trip this week to Europe
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:
JERUSALEM – Israel’s prime minister says that while there have been advances in cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine, “very large” gaps remain between the two sides.
Naftali Bennett, who has acted as intermediary between the two warring countries in recent weeks, said at a conference on Monday that Israel “will continue – together with other friends in the world – to try and bridge the gap and bring an end to the war.”
Israel has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia and has acted as a broker between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Bennett has held multiple phone calls with both leaders in recent weeks and flew to Moscow earlier this month to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bennett has offered to host a summit in Jerusalem.
“There’s still a long way to go, because as I stated, there are a number of controversial issues, some of them fundamental,” the prime minister said at the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper’s conference.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – Slovenia says it plans to send the country’s diplomatic representatives back to Ukraine later this week.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa has urged other European Union nations to do the same. He said on Twitter late on Sunday that “Ukraine needs diplomatic support.”
Slovenia’s diplomats left Ukraine with the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 as other countries withdrew their representatives as well.
Jansa visited Kyiv last week along with the prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic. He has said after the visit that Ukraine was feeling abandoned and urged the EU to send a bloc’s representative there.
Jansa said the return of Slovenia’s diplomats will be organized on voluntary basis.
LONDON – Britain’s defense ministry says heavy fighting is continuing north of Kyiv as Russian forces press on with a stalled effort to encircle Ukraine’s capital city.
In an update Monday on social media, the ministry said Russian forces advancing on the city from the northeast have stalled, and troops advancing from the direction of Hostomel to the northwest have been pushed back by fierce Ukrainian resistance. It said the bulk of Russian forces were more than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the city center.
U.K. officials said that “despite the continued lack of progress, Kyiv remains Russia’s primary military objective and they are likely to prioritise attempting to encircle the city over the coming weeks.”
JERUSALEM – Israel’s prime minister says the country is managing its involvement with Ukraine and Russia “in a sensitive, generous and responsible way while balancing various and complex considerations” after Ukraine’s president called on Israel to take sides.
Naftali Bennett spoke on the tarmac at Israel’s main international airport as an aid delegation was set to depart for Ukraine to set up a field hospital for refugees near the Polish border.
A day earlier Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rebuked Israel in a televised address to Israeli parliament members, saying Israel should provide arms and impose sanctions on Russia.
Israel has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia and has acted as an intermediary between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. While Israel has condemned Russia’s invasion, it has also refrained from taking action that would anger Moscow out of concern of jeopardizing its military coordination in neighboring Syria.
Bennett said that “Israel has extended its hand in aid in the Ukraine crisis for several weeks, very much from the first moment, through different channels,” pointing to humanitarian aid shipments and taking in Ukrainian refugees and immigrants.
LVIV, Ukraine – Emergency officials have contained an ammonia leak at a chemical plant that contaminated wide area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, officials said Monday.
Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy didn’t say what caused the leak, which spread about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in all directions from the Sumykhimprom plant.
The plant is on the eastern outskirts of the city, which has a population of about 263,000 and has been regularly shelled by Russian troops in recent weeks.
KYIV, Ukraine – Shelling in a Kyiv neighborhood has devastated a shopping center, leaving a flattened ruin still smoldering Monday morning in the midst of high-rise towers.
Overnight shelling near the city center late Sunday left at least eight dead according to emergency officials. The force of the explosion shattered every window in the high-rise next door and twisted their metal frames.
In the distance, the sound of artillery rang out as firefighters picked their way through the destruction in the densely populated Podil district.
LVIV, Ukraine – An ammonia leak at a chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy has contaminated an area with a radius of more than 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles), officials said early Monday.
Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy didn’t say what caused the leak.
The Sumykhimprom plant is on the eastern outskirts of the city, which has a population of about 263,000 and has been regularly shelled by Russian troops in recent weeks.
“For the center of Sumy, there is no threat now, since the wind does not blow on the city,” said Zhyvytskyy.
He said the nearby village of Novoselytsya, about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) southeast of Sumy, is under threat.
Emergency crews were working to contain the leak.
NEW YORK – The Russian military has offered the Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port of Mariupol to lay down arms and exit the city via humanitarian corridors, but that proposal was quickly rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Sunday that all Ukrainian soldiers could leave the Azov Sea port Monday using safe routes for evacuating civilians that had been previously agreed with Ukraine and head to areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. He said that “all those who lay down arms will be guaranteed a safe exit from Mariupol.”
Mizintsev added that Russia will wait until 5 a.m. Monday for a written Kyiv’s response to the Russian proposal for the Ukrainian troops to leave Mariupol but didn’t say what action Russia will take if its “humanitarian offer” is rejected.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in remarks carried by Ukrainska Pravda news outlet that Kyiv already had told Russia that “there can be no talk about surrender and laying down weapons.” She rejected the Russian statement as “manipulation.”
Mizintsev said that the deliveries of humanitarian supplies to the city will immediately follow if the Ukrainian troops agree to leave the city. He added that civilians will be free to choose whether to leave Mariupol or stay in the city.
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the Russian bombing of a school in Mariupol where civilians took refuge.
Speaking in a video address early Monday, Zelenskyy said about 400 civilians were taking shelter at the art school in the besieged Azov Sea port city when it was struck by a Russian bomb.
“They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” he said. “But we know that we will certainly shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb, like about 100 other such mass murderers whom we already have downed.”
Zelenskyy, who spoke to members of the Israeli parliament via video link on Sunday, thanked Israel for its efforts to broker talks with Russia. He praised Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for trying to help “find a negotiation track with Russia … so that we sooner or later start talking with Russia, possibly in Jerusalem.”
“It would be the right place to find peace if possible,” he added.
The Ukrainian president also said that he had a call Sunday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a “true friend of Ukraine,” to discuss support for Ukraine during this week’s summit of the Group of Seven and NATO.
Zelenskyy said 7,295 Ukrainians were evacuated from zones of combat on Sunday, including nearly 4,000 from Mariupol. He also hailed people in the southern city of Kherson for taking to the streets Sunday to protest the Russian occupation, showing “Ukrainian courage, armless against the occupiers.”
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3/21/2022 4:46:09 AM (GMT -5:00)