A US official has claimed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is doomed, and that Vladimir Putin has already failed to hit his “chief objectives”.
The invasion of Ukraine has taken a particularly heartbreaking turn after a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed by Russian forces.
Children were reportedly trapped beneath the rubble, sparking desperate rescue attempts.
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Mariupol has been one of the hardest-hit cities in Ukraine since the invasion began, with the Red Cross describing “apocalyptic” conditions on the ground.
Meanwhile, fears are growing over a potential radiation leak after power to the Chernobyl nuclear plant was cut, and Russia has also reportedly confirmed the use of lethal thermobaric weapons in Ukraine.
Follow our live updates below.
Putin headed for ‘strategic defeat’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told reporters he believed Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was doomed to fail despite Russia’s superior manpower.
During a recent press conference, Mr Blinken said Russia had already “failed in its chief objectives” and that it was “not going to be able to hold Ukraine in the long term”.
“I’m absolutely convinced that Putin will fail, and Russia will suffer a strategic defeat no matter what short-term tactical gains it may make in Ukraine,” Mr Blinken said.
“You can win a battle, but that doesn’t mean you win the war. On the contrary, you can take a city but you can’t take the hearts and minds of its people and Ukrainians are demonstrating that every single day.”
He said even if Russia succeeded replacing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government with a pro-Russian, puppet regime, the Ukrainian people would never accept it.
“I think it’s pretty evident that they will never accept that,” he said.
President confirms 35k evacuated
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed “almost 35,000 people were rescued” through humanitarian corridor.
“Today we were able to organise three humanitarian corridors: from the city of Sumy, from city of Kyiv and Kyiv region, and from Enerhodar,” he said.
He said plans were underway to establish six more corridors to evacuate civilians.
“We are praying to be able to evacuate people from Mariupol, from Izium, from Volnovakha, etc. to evacuate to safe places of free Ukraine. And I’m sure that every Ukrainian that knows these people need help will make sure these people feel cared for,” he said.
Fears of ‘radioactive substances’ leak
UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has confirmed it has lost contact with systems that monitor Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was captured by Russia last week.
It comes just hours after the body also lost contact with systems at Chernobyl, which sparked fears of radiation leaks.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned of the seriousness of that situation after power was cut to the Chernobyl nuclear plant during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops.
Reserve diesel generators are only capable of keeping the plant afloat for 48 hours.
“After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent,” Mr Kuleba said on Twitter.
“I call on the international community to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply.”
Putin ‘angry and frustrated’ by Russia’s failure
Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly “angry and frustrated” by Ukraine’s resistance and the failure of his troops to capture Kyiv.
That’s according to CIA director William Burns, who told America’s ABC news that his frustration would likely cause Mr Putin to “double down” attacks against the nation “with no regard for civilian casualties”.
“He has no sustainable political endgame in the face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians,” Mr Burns said.
“Putin has commented privately and publicly over the years that he doesn’t believe Ukraine’s a real country. He’s dead wrong about that – real countries fight back.
“And that’s what the Ukrainians have done quite heroically over the last 12 days.”
Horror way man discovered family’s slaughter
A distraught Ukrainian man whose wife and children were gunned down by Russian forces has revealed he learnt of their heartbreaking deaths on Twitter.
The killing of Tatiana Perebeinis, 43, and her children Mykyta, 18, and Alisa, 9, made headlines across the globe this week after photos of their bodies fallen in the street alongside their scattered luggage went viral.
It later emerged they were fired upon while trying to flee across a shelled bridge in Irpin.
Husband and father Serhiy Perebyinis was in another part of Ukraine helping his elderly mother when he heard of his family’s slaughter on social media.
But he told the New York Times he wanted the world to see images of his family’s destruction.
“The whole world should know what is happening here,” he told the publication.
‘Mind boggling bravery’ as bomb defused with bare hands
The heroic efforts of two Ukrainian men have made global headlines after a video captured them defusing a bomb with nothing but their bare hands and a bottle of water.
According to Charles Lister, senior fellow and the Director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism programs at the Middle East Institute, the bomb was so powerful it could “flatten a building”.
But that didn’t stop the Ukrainian explosive ordnance disposal specialists from risking their lives to save others.
Ominous warning of Russia’s ‘chemical weapons’ plot
News.com.au yesterday reported that China was now spreading a Russian conspiracy theory that the US was developing chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Today, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has warned that disinformation campaign could indicate a brutal attack against Ukrainian citizens could be looming.
“Now that Russia has made these false claims, and China has seemingly endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia to possibly use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or to create a false flag operation using them. It’s a clear pattern,” Ms Psaki said in a tweet.
She added that Russia had a “long and well-documented track record of using chemical weapons” and regularly accused the West “of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating.”
Civilians trapped as crucial corridor ‘bombed’
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of attacking a humanitarian corridor which had been previously agreed on as an escape route for fleeing civilians.
According to the city council of Bucha – a city north of the capital Kyiv – a planned evacuation out of the area had been blocked by Russian forces.
“The occupants are disrupting the evacuation. Currently, 50 buses are blocked by Russian military in the parking lot: do not give passage to the column,” the city council said in a Facebook post.
“Negotiations are ongoing to unlock traffic.
“We remind you that the “green corridor” was an agreement at the highest level.”
It comes as Russia also stands accused of breaking a 12-hour ceasefire to bomb a children’s and maternity hospital in Mariupol.
Russian troops’ cruel taunt
Russia’s defence ministry has posted a video of troops cruelly taunting Ukraine by waving Soviet Union flags from tanks rolling through the invaded nation.
It is not known exactly where the act took place, with Russian authorities only revealing that tanks were headed to a “designated area”.
“The Russian Armed Forces units continue to take control of the Ukrainian regions occupied by nationalists within special military operation,” the ministry said alongside the video.
Ukraine gained independence in 1991 during the fall of the Soviet Union after being under Moscow’s control for almost seven decades.
The flag is seen as an inflammatory symbol of that oppression and was likely deliberately brandished to cause further distress to the Ukrainian people.
It has been interpreted as a threat of the return of the Soviet Union, and has sparked outrage on social media.
Putin confirms ‘devastating’ weapons
Russia’s defence ministry has reportedly confirmed it has used thermobaric weapons in Ukraine.
According to Britain’s Ministry of Defence, its Russian counterpart has announced the use of the TOS-1A weapon system, which uses deadly thermobaric rockets.
The “devastating” weapons have been described as “vacuum bombs” due to their ability to suck air of victims’ lungs and cause catastrophic injuries, including internal organ damage and suffocation.
While they are not specifically mentioned, there is a widespread belief that thermobaric weapons are banned for use against civilians by the Geneva Convention.
Children’s hospital bombed
Shocking photos are emerging from Ukraine after a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol was bombed overnight, during a 12-hour ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.
Children remain trapped in the rubble, and it is not yet known if there have been any fatalities.
At least 17 people were injured.
While Russia denied intentionally targeting civilians, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has condemned the attack, tweeting that many people remain “under the wreckage”.
“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage,” he posted.
“Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now!
“Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.”
Officials say the hospital is completely “destroyed”, with the city’s council stating that “the destruction is enormous”.
“The building of the medical facility where the children were treated recently is completely destroyed,” the council said.
President survives ‘more than a dozen’ assassination attempts
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has survived “more than a dozen” assassination attempts in just two weeks of Russia’s invasion, a government official has claimed.
Speaking to local news outlet Ukrainian Pravda, presidential adviser Mikhail Podolyak said Mr Zelensky remains Russia’s “main target”.
“We have a very powerful network of intelligence and counterintelligence, they track it all,” he said, adding that the “risks have not disappeared” for Mr Zelensky, who remains in Kyiv.
“Our foreign partners are talking about two or three attempts. I believe that there were more than a dozen such attempts.”
Mr Podolyak said a number of wannabe assassins had been “liquidated” after their attempts failed.
Putin’s ‘weakness’ exposed
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed Vladimir Putin’s threat of nuclear force was a “bluff” that revealed his “weakness”.
The comments were made during an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit.
“You only threaten the use of nuclear weapons when nothing else is working,” Mr Zelensky said.
“Every use of nuclear weapons means the end for all sides, not just for the person using them.”
‘Children are dying’: Boxer’s plea
Former professional boxer Vladimir Klitschko has posted an emotional video in the wake of the Mariupol children’s hospital bombing, urging his followers to “stop Putin’s war”.
“My heart is bleeding. It is often said the first casualty of war is truth. Yes, it is, as you can see in Russia. But you know what? The most unbearable casualties are children. Children are dying by the dozens now,” he said in the clip posted to Instagram.
“Look at these images. They are the concrete and real results of Putin’s ‘special operation’ so to speak. When he does not take the lives of these angels, he kills their parents, grandparents, and destroys their homes and schools.
“To attack children is to attack life. If you don’t want to see these images anymore, you must not look away. You must stop Putin’s war now.”
Putin’s backflip over conscripted soldiers
Russia has admitted that conscripted soldiers had been sent to Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin publicly stated that only professional troops would be deployed.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said an investigation was now underway into “the facts of the presence of a number of conscripts in the units of the armed forces who are participating in a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine,” according to the Tass news agency, and vowed to “punish officials responsible”.
Just this week, Mr Putin said in a televised speech that “I emphasise that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them.”