More than 2 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland since Russia began invading their country, and Biden will meet with Ukrainian refugees and US humanitarian workers on Saturday in Warsaw, Security Adviser National White House Jake Sullivan said.
Biden on Thursday pledges US$1 billion in humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing the invasion. Before leaving Brussels on Friday, Biden held a bilateral meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, after which the United States and the European Union announced a new task force aimed at reducing dependence European dependence on Russian energy.
Biden said the task force would focus on two initiatives: helping Europe reduce its dependence on Russian gas as quickly as possible, and reducing Europe’s need for gas as a whole.
Later in Rzeszów, Poland, Biden will receive a news conference on the humanitarian response to the suffering of civilians inside Ukraine and the response to the influx of refugees fleeing the country. He will then meet with US service members in the 82nd Airborne Division, who have been deployed to Poland in recent weeks to help bolster NATO’s eastern flank.
In Warsaw, Biden also will meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and make comments on united efforts to support the Ukrainian people and hold Russia responsible for the war.
Meanwhile, the outskirts of Kharkiv faced near-constant shelling throughout Friday morning, and in Kyiv, a large fireball explosion was witnessed before the Russian military declared it. that they destroyed a Ukrainian fuel facility. In Chernihiv, city official Olexander Lomako warned of a “humanitarian disaster” after a Russian attack destroyed a bridge and its forces began targeting food supplies.
LATEST EVENTS:Map and track Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
► The United Nations human rights office says it has struggled to confirm deaths in Mariupol based on the organization’s rigorous statistical method for calculating the death toll in the conflict. The office said at least 1,035 civilians were killed in Ukraine and 1,650 were injured, but admitted that was a far too low number.
►Finland’s national railway company said on Friday it would suspend service between Helsinki and the Russian city of St.Petersburg, closing one of the last public transit routes between the EU and Russia.
►The Council of the European Union concludes Russia’s war in Ukraine “seriously violates international law” following a meeting with US President Joe Biden on Thursday.
► The Russian military says it will provide safe passage for foreign ships stranded in Ukrainian ports.
► Ukraine on Thursday accused Moscow of forcibly transferring hundreds of thousands of civilians from Ukraine’s crumbling cities to Russia, where some could be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to give up . Lyudmyla Denisova, the inspector of Ukraine, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, were arrested against their will.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday said the use of nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine would “completely change the nature of the war in Ukraine. It would be completely unacceptable.”
Stoltenberg made the comments during a visit to a Cold Response exercise, which takes place every two years and brings together NATO members and non-NATO members including Finland and Sweden.
Russia refused to participate, but Stoltenberg said NATO “always invites other countries to observe”.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a meeting on Friday that Russia was facing an “all-out war with us” as the West sought to “destroy, disrupt, destroy, strangle the Russian economy and Russia in general.”
Following a Russian air strike on a theater southeast of Mariupol, where civilians were seeking shelter, about 300 people died, the city government said on Friday.
Mariupol’s government made the announcement on its Telegram channel, citing witnesses. It was not immediately clear whether excavation efforts at the theater had been completed.
The website was hacked on March 16, and the word “CHILDREN” was plastered outside in Russian to prevent an attack on a civilian shelter. Mariupol was facing some of the harshest conditions of any Ukrainian city as Russian forces laid siege to the city.
In a speech in Ukraine late on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of hope and determination as the war enters its second month.
“It is already night time. But we are working,” Zelenskyy said in a video address. “The country must move towards peace, forward. With each day of our protection, we are getting closer to the peace we so desperately need. We are getting closer to victory. … We couldn’t stop even for a minute.
Earlier in the week, Zelenskyy urged people around the world to gather in public to show support for his thriving country. “Come to your square, your street. Make yourself seen and heard,” he said.
A local government official said Russian troops were targeting food stores in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.
In an audio message sent to the AP news agency, city council secretary Olexander Lomako said a “catastrophe” was happening in the northern city. Lomako added that a Russian air strike destroyed a bridge over the Desna River this week, a key route for bringing food and other supplies from Ukrainian-controlled territory toward male.
“Humanitarian help, medicine and food have been delivered to the city across this bridge,” he told the Associated Press.
Lomako says less than half of the residents, about 130,000, remain in the city, compared with a pre-war population of 285,000.
– Celina Tebor
ONE majority of Americans support harsh sanctions against Russia but believes Biden needs to get tougher on the Kremlin in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, according to a poll commissioned by the Associated Press and the NORC released on Thursday.
The poll, which surveyed 1,082 American adults Thursday through Monday, found that 56% of Americans believe Biden’s response to Russia has not been tough enough, including a majority of 53% of Democrats. A very small percentage, about 6%, say they think Biden has been “too tough,” the poll found.
Around the world, Americans of both political parties support the harsh economic blow to Russia. The poll found that 68% support economic sanctions overall, with 70% saying they support the recent ban on oil imports from Russia, which has sent gas prices up.
– Christal Hayes
Contribution: Associated Press