LVIV, Ukraine – At least 33 people were killed and 34 injured in a Russian rocket attack on the regional government building in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv. Ukrainian officials gave the latest death toll in a statement on Saturday, updating the figures for the deadly strike that hit Mykolaiv on Tuesday.
Rescue workers sent by the state emergency service have been searching the wreckage for survivors since Russian forces raided the building, which housed the office of regional governor Vitaliy Kim. The governor, who was not present at the time of the attack, later posted social media images showing a gaping hole in the nine-story structure.
The confirmed death toll has risen steadily as the search and rescue operation continues.
Mykolaiv, a strategically important city on the way to Ukraine’s largest port of Odesa, withstood weeks of protection by Russian forces.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE WAR IN RUSSIA-UKRAINE:
Zelenskyy says Russia’s mines create ‘full disaster’
– What’s next for Europe’s natural gas in the midst of the war?
– Russia targets Ukraine disinformation on Spanish speakers
– Ukraine volunteer fighters from near and far: a photo gallery
– Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
MOSCOW – Russia’s top space official says the future of the International Space Station hangs in the balance after the United States, the European Union and Canadian space agencies missed a deadline to meet Russian demands for lifting sanctions against Russian companies and hardware to comply.
The head of Russia’s Roscosmos state agency told reporters on Saturday morning that the agency was preparing a report on the prospects of international cooperation at the station, which should be submitted to the federal authorities “after Roscosmos completes his analysis. . “
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has hinted on Russian state television that Western sanctions, some of which precede Russia’s military action in Ukraine, could disrupt the operation of Russian spacecraft operated by the ISS.
He stressed that Western partners need the ISS and “can not do without Russia, because no one but us can deliver fuel to the station.”
Rogozin added that “only the engines of our truck can correct the ISS’s orbit and keep it safe from space debris.”
Later on Saturday, Rogozin wrote on his Telegram channel that he had received responses from his Western counterparts who had promised to promote “further cooperation on the ISS and its operations”.
He reiterated his view that “the restoration of normal relations between partners in the ISS and other joint (space) projects is possible only with the complete and unconditional lifting of sanctions, which he referred to as illegal.
In response to Western sanctions on Telegram last month, Rogozin warned at the time that the ISS could “fall into the sea or on land” without Russia’s help, claiming that the crash site would probably not be in Russia.
Space is one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Moscow and Western nations. US-Russia talks on resuming joint flights to the ISS were underway when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine last month, which sparked unprecedented sanctions against Russian state-linked entities.
ISTANBUL – Turkey has offered to help evacuate civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol by ship. The Turkish Minister of Defense said on Saturday “we can provide ship support for the evacuation of civilians and injured Turkish and other countries’ civilians in Mariupol from the sea.”
The state-run Anadolu agency reported Hulusi Akar said Turkey was coordinating possible evacuations with the authorities of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, experienced some of the worst suffering of the war. The International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to remove some of the 100,000 people who are believed to be living in the city.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that about 30 Turkish citizens were still in the city.
VALLETTA, Malta – Pope Francis says he is studying a possible visit to Kiev and he blown Russian President Vladimir Putin for starting a “cruel” war when he arrived in Malta and his most sharp and personal condemnation yet from Russia s invasion of Ukraine.
Francis did not quote Putin by name, but the reference was clear when he said that “some potentate” unleashed the threat of nuclear war on the world in an “infantile and destructive aggression” under the guise of “anachronistic claims of nationalist interests “. . ”
Speaking to Maltese authorities on Saturday, Francis said: “We thought invasions from other countries, brutal street fighting and nuclear threats were vicious memories of a distant past.” Francis has so far avoided referring to Russia or Putin by name. But Saturday’s personification of the powerful figure in charge marked a new level of outrage for the pope.
THE HAGUE, The Netherlands – The Dutch government has launched a campaign urging people to turn down their central heating and shower to save energy amid rising energy costs and reduce the country’s dependence on Russian imports.
The government took the lead and announced on Saturday that it would lower the temperature in 200 of its office blocks from 21 to 19 degrees Celsius (70-66 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter and use less air conditioning in the summer.
Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten says that saving energy “is good for your wallet, for the climate and it helps us become less dependent on gas from Russia.”
The government is also setting aside 4 billion euros ($ 4.4 billion) to help fund moves by homeowners, social housing corporations and municipalities to improve the insulation of homes in the coming years.
LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian officials say their forces have recaptured the city of Brovary, 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the capital Kiev.
Brovary’s mayor said in a televised speech Friday night that “Russian residents have now left virtually the entire Brovary district.” He added that Ukrainian forces would begin work to clear the region of remaining Russian troops there as well as “military hardware, and possibly mine.”
The mayor said many Brovary residents had already returned to the city, and that shops and businesses were reopening.
Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko said earlier on Friday that satellite towns northwest of Kiev were being targeted after Ukrainian fighters repulsed Russian troops, and that fighting had also taken place in Brovary.
SOFIA, Bulgaria – Bulgaria has suspended a Russian diplomat on charges of espionage that could not be prosecuted for his diplomatic immunity.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Friday that it had declared a Russian diplomat “persona non grata” and gave him 72 hours to leave the country after being informed by the prosecutor’s office that the diplomat was involved. was at “unregulated intelligence activities.”
The eviction comes as relations between Russia and NATO member Bulgaria, once Moscow’s closest ally in the now-dissolved Warsaw Pact, have cooled following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last month alone, Bulgaria suspended 12 Russian diplomats, accused Russia’s ambassador in Sofia of “undiplomatic, sharp and rude” remarks made in public, and recalled its Moscow ambassador for consultations.
BEIJING – A Chinese diplomat has a proposal to resolve the Ukraine conflict: US President Joe Biden should call Russian President Vladimir Putin and promise that there will be no further NATO expansion, no deployment of strategic weapons in Ukraine not and that the country will remain neutral.
“Then maybe the issue will be sorted out,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director-General Wang Lutong told reporters in Beijing on Saturday.
“What is the purpose of the Americans?” Are they going to see a ceasefire in Ukraine or do they want to weaken Russia? “Or some people are talking about a change in government,” Wang said in an apparent reference to Biden’s remark that Putin could not be allowed to remain in office.
“If they want a ceasefire, I think this issue can be resolved very easily,” Wang said. His remarks followed talks between Chinese and EU leaders during which Beijing reiterated its opposition to the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia.
Beijing has refused to criticize the Russian invasion, or even referred to it, is opposed to sanctions and rebroadcasts Russian misinformation about the conflict and unfounded claims such as that the US operates bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to comment on whether he had ordered an attack on a Russian fuel depot.
In an interview with FOX News, Zelenskyy said he does not discuss any orders he issues as commander-in-chief.
Earlier, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council denied allegations by Moscow that two Ukrainian helicopters had hit the facility in the city of Belgorod north of the border by dawn on Friday.
The regional governor of Belgorod said two workers at the depot were injured, but Russian media quoted a statement from state oil company Rosneft as denying anyone was injured.
But if Moscow’s claim is confirmed, it will be the war’s first known attack in which Ukrainian planes penetrated Russian airspace.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Defense says it is providing an additional $ 300 million in military equipment to Ukrainian forces defending the country against Russian troops.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement Friday night that the equipment in the new package includes laser-guided rocket systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, armored vehicles, night-vision devices and ammunition. Also included are medical supplies, field equipment and parts.
Kirby said the new package “represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide new capabilities” to Ukraine, rather than delivering equipment taken from US military supplies.
The United States has provided more than $ 1.6 billion in security assistance since Russia’s invasion, Kirby said.
LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces were leaving “a complete disaster” behind as they withdrew from the north, including towns just outside Kiev, and he warned residents to beware of more Russian protection and landmines.
“They are mining the whole area, they are mining houses, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who have been killed,” he said in his night video speech to the nation late Friday.
He urged residents to wait to resume their normal lives until they are assured that the mines have been cleared and the danger of protection is over.
Zelenskyy warned of tough battles ahead as Russian troops redeployed to eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky said he spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone on Friday and to European Parliament President Roberta Metsola during her visit to Kiev.
“Europe has no right to remain silent about what is happening in our Mariupol,” he said. “The whole world must respond to this humanitarian disaster.”
Zelenskyy said 3,071 people were able to leave Mariupol on Friday.