Russia-Ukraine : At least 501 children killed during war: NGO

Save the Children says the war has reached another grim milestone, with at least 501 Ukrainian children confirmed killed. The true toll is feared to be much higher.
Finland will join NATO on Tuesday, said Jens Stoltenberg, head of the world’s largest military alliance. Moscow has responded by saying it will boost military capacity.
Putin bestows award on military blogger killed in bombing: Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has posthumously bestowed an award to a high-profile military blogger and supporter of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, who was killed in an explosion at a Saint Petersburg cafe a day earlier.

Vladlen Tatarsky, whose real name was Maxim Fomin, had been given the Order of Courage “for courage and bravery shown during professional duty,” said a Kremlin decree.Finland not asking NATO to deploy troops: Commander
Finland has not asked for NATO members to station troops on its territory, a senior alliance commander has said, as Helsinki readies to join.

“Whether we will station troops in Finland is a question that starts with Finland,” said Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of NATO’s military committee.

“For now, there is no such request. But of course, it might come in the future and then we will have to look at it when that occurs,” Bauer told the AFP news agency in an interview.Ukraine receives first $2.7bn tranche from IMF programme: ministry
Ukraine has received the first $2.7bn tranche under the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Fund Facility programme on Monday, finance minister Sergiy Marchenko has said.

“Grateful to our partners for supporting Ukraine on the way to victory,” Marchenko wrote on Twitter.Ukraine still fighting hard for Bakhmut, more aid coming: White House official
Ukraine is still fighting hard for Bakhmut and the battle is not over, according to a White House official.

Ukrainians have not been repulsed from the city, John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told reporters, adding that an additional assistance package for Ukraine could be expected this week.US government pushing for WSJ reporter’s release
The US government is pushing hard to release a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested in Russia and tracking his detention closely, the White House said.

“We have been pushing hard since the moment we found out the reporter was detained,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

The US is “keenly, strongly, closely” tracking his detention, he added.

Last Thursday, Russia’s FSB security service said it had arrested Evan Gershkovich, accusing him of gathering information about a Russian defence company that was a state secret.

Belarus begins combat readiness inspections
The Belarus Ministry of Defence says it has started combat readiness inspections of the armed forces.

In a statement published on Telegram, the ministry said the inspections would determine the capacity of military units to perform at “the highest levels of combat readiness”.

A previous flurry of military drills in Belarus raised concerns in Ukraine that it might take an active role in the conflict in its neighbour.

Minsk denied any such plans but warned that any incursions into Belarusian territory would invite a response.Zelenskyy visits Yahidne on anniversary of liberation
Zelenskyy has paid tribute to nearly 400 residents of a village in northern Ukraine who were held in a school basement under Russian occupation for 27 days before they were set free a year ago.

“These people somehow lived and waited for Ukraine in the dark,” said the president, who appeared visibly moved on the anniversary.

“They lived standing and sitting.”

He said 11 people died during the ordeal.

Zelenskyy was joined on the visit to Yahidne, a village in the Chernihiv region, by German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric.

The Ukrainian president thanked Habeck and Buric for attending and said it was crucial for Ukraine’s allies to see the basement.

“It’s important to see this and to be in these basements to understand whether to help Ukraine or to keep thinking how to find a way to talk with Russia,” he said.War causes $2.6bn of damage to cultural heritage: UNESCO
A United Nations agency says the Russian invasion of Ukraine has so far caused about $2.6bn in damage to the country’s heritage and cultural sites.

About 250 monuments have either been damaged or destroyed, mainly in the east of the country, UNESCO said.

Ukraine’s culture, tourism, sports and entertainment industries have also lost a combined $15.1bn in revenues since the Russian invasion in February 2022, the agency estimated.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said on a visit to Ukraine that $6.9bn is needed to repair the damage and get these industries back on their feet.

“We will help the Ukrainian authorities draw up a national reconstruction plan for the culture sector,” she said.WSJ journalist appeals against pre-trial detention
Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested and charged with espionage in Russia last week, has appealed against his detention through his lawyers, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the court.

On Thursday, a Moscow court placed Gershkovich in pre-trial detention until May 29, which the appeal seeks to overturn.IAEA chief to visit Moscow on Wednesday
The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, will visit Moscow on Wednesday, Russia’s permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tells state television.

Ulyanov said the head of the international nuclear watchdog would meet with a Russian delegation and discuss the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station.

The facility in the eastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and is under Russian control. Fighting and shelling have taken place near it, and it has lost power half a dozen times. Its safety has been a primary concern for Grossi.At least 501 Ukrainian children killed during conflict: NGO
Save the Children says at least 501 Ukrainian children have been killed in the war but the actual number is feared to be much higher.

A report by the non-governmental organisation found that since February 2022, at least one child has died daily with “explosive weapons” being the main cause.

“In the first year of full-scale war, 404 children were killed by shelling, missiles and drone strikes, and 850 more were injured,” the report said. “Most casualties occurred in Kharkiv and Donetsk regions where active combat has been continuous since last February.”

Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s country director in Ukraine, said, “Half a thousand children killed is yet another tragic milestone reached in this war.”

“This is 500 more than it should be. Innocent girls and boys are still being injured and killed every day in Ukraine, where violence, including the use of explosive weapons in urban areas, looms on the horizon.”German arms firm to open maintenance centre in Romania
German arms firm Rheinmetall says it will soon open a maintenance centre in Romania for military equipment used in the Ukraine war.

The company said the “service hub” near Satu Mare in northern Romania, close to the border with Ukraine, was expected to be operational before the end of April.

The maintenance centre will “play a central role in maintaining the operational readiness of Western combat systems in use in Ukraine and in ensuring their logistical support”, Rheinmetall said in a statement.

At the same time, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has backed Romania’s efforts to join the EU’s passport-free Schengen Zone this year, saying Bucharest had fulfilled the criteria.Russia to strengthen military in light of Finland’s NATO membership
Russia will strengthen its military capacity in response to Finland joining NATO, the state-owned news agency RIA reports.

Finland has a 1,300km (810-mile) border with Russia, which will roughly double the military alliance’s frontier with Moscow.

“We will strengthen our military potential in the western and northwestern direction,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told RIA. “In the event that the forces and resources of other NATO members are deployed in Finland, we will take additional steps to reliably ensure Russia’s military security.”

Last year, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said Russia was taking “adequate countermeasures” and would form 12 units and divisions in its western military district.Russian bombing suspect says she brought figurine that exploded
The woman arrested on suspicion of killing a military war blogger in St Petersburg has admitted that she brought a figurine to the cafe that exploded, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

In a video published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Trepova said, “I carried a figurine in there, which exploded.”

When asked why she was detained, she said, “Detained, I would say, for being at the scene of the murder of Vladlen Tatarsky.”

Trepova refused to say who gave her the figurine and instead answered, “May I tell you about it later?”No changes in Russia’s nuclear position: NATO chief
Stoltenberg says NATO had not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture since Putin’s announcement that he would station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

“So far, we haven’t seen any changes in their nuclear posture that requires any change, changing our nuclear posture,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Last week, Putin announced that he intends to place tactical nuclear weapons on the Belarus border to help fend off attacks on Russia.

Putin said the move did not violate international law and he was doing what the US had done for decades by putting its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.Poland transfers MiG-29 jets to Ukraine
Poland says it has already transferred some of its promised MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine after fellow NATO member Slovakia announced it had shipped an initial batch of its own.

“A few MiG-29s have already been sent. They are indeed helpful to Ukraine in its defence of our collective security,” Polish presidential aide Marcin Przydacz told local radio station RMF FM.

Finland to become 31st NATO member on Tuesday
Finland will officially become a member of the NATO military alliance on Tuesday, the Finnish president’s office says.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, “Tomorrow we will welcome Finland as the 31st member.”

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