Ukraine live news: Zelenskyy says Russia hit by ‘powerful blows’

  • Russia says it is now focused on fully capturing Donbas in apparent shift in strategy.
  • Ukraine says 7,331 people were evacuated from cities on Friday.
  • UN nuclear watchdog claims staff members at Chernobyl’s radioactive waste facilities have not been rotated in four days.
  • President Vladimir Putin accuses West of trying to ‘cancel’ Russian culture.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron to hold talks with Russia’s Putin over Mariupol evacuation initiative.

    ‘Foolish’: Former Russian president dismisses sanctions’ effect

    Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed Western sanctions, telling the RIA state-owned news agency it was “foolish” to expect them to have an effect on government policy.

    Medvedev, who is deputy head of the security council, says sanctions will only consolidate Russian society and will not cause popular discontent.

    Zelenskyy says Ukraine has pounded Russia with ‘powerful blows’

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine’s military has delivered “powerful blows” against Russian forces leading to “significant losses”.

    Speaking in his nightly video address, he said about 16,000 Russian soldiers had been killed.

    “The armed forces continue to repel enemy attacks in the south of the country, in Donbas, in the Kharkiv direction and in the Kyiv region,” he told Ukrainians late on Friday. “By restraining Russia’s actions, our defenders are leading the Russian leadership to a simple and logical idea: Talk is necessary. Meaningful. Urgent. Fair.”

    Russia says about 1,300 of its troops have died in the fighting.

    About 25 truckloads of dried food, tinned goods and water – worth about 2 million pounds ($2.6m) – will be sent by road and rail from Poland and Slovakia to Ukraine’s most at-risk towns and cities.

    “The need on the ground in Ukraine is clear, with so many people in encircled areas trapped in basements without access to food or water,” Alice Hooper, the UK Foreign Office’s humanitarian adviser, said in a statement.

    AP says it documented Russian attacks on 34 medical facilities

    The Associated Press news agency has said it independently documented at least 34 assaults on Ukrainian medical facilities by Russian forces.“AP journalists in Ukraine have seen firsthand the deadly results of Russian strikes on civilian targets, including the final moments of children whose bodies were shredded by shrapnel and dozens of corpses heaped into mass graves,” the news agency said.

    Russian advance on Kyiv appears to have halted: US official

    A senior US defence official has said Russia’s military advance on Kyiv appears to have halted as Moscow turns its focus to fighting elsewhere in the country.

    The official, cited anonymously by the Associated Press news agency, said Russia appears to be concentrating more on fighting for control of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region rather than its ground offensive aimed at capturing Kyiv, at least for now.

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