Live Updates | Zelenskyy committed to peace, needs guns now
U.S. intelligence officials predict Russian President Vladimir Putin may use U.S. support for Ukraine as justification for a new campaign to interfere in American politics
April 9, 2022, 7: 53 PM
13 min read
WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials predict Russian President Vladimir Putin may use U.S. support for Ukraine as justification for a new campaign to interfere in American politics.
Intelligence officials tell The Associated Press that they have yet to find any evidence that Putin has authorized measures like the ones Russia undertook in the last two elections to support former President Donald Trump. A number of people familiar with the matter spoke under anonymity to discuss sensitive findings. They said that it is still unclear which candidates Russia might be trying to promote next.
Trump repeatedly attacked U.S. intelligence officers and claimed that investigations into Russian influence on Trump’s campaigns were political vendettas. Russia has been accused of spreading disinformation, amplifying pro-Kremlin voices throughout the West, and using cyberattacks in order to disrupt governments. Top U.S. intelligence officers are still working on plans to create a new Foreign Malign Influence Center that will be able to focus on Russia, China, and other adversaries.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Zelenskyy, in AP interview, wonders if he’s done enough
— War Crimes Watch: A devastating walk through Bucha’s horror
— S&P downgrade indicates Russia headed for historic default
— More civilians flee eastern Ukraine after deadly station strike
— Intel: Putin may cite Ukraine war to meddle in US politics
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told The Associated Press on Saturday that he is committed to seeking peace despite Russian attacks on civilians that have stunned the world.
He said no one wants to negotiate with people who tortured their nation — “as a man, as a father, I understand this very well.” But he said “we don’t want to lose opportunities, if we have them, for a diplomatic solution.”
Zelenskyy said he’s confident Ukrainians would accept peace despite the horrors they have witnessed in the war. In the meantime, Russian troops are gathering for an expected surge of fighting in eastern Ukraine. This includes the besieged port of Mariupol, which Ukrainian defenders are fighting to keep.
So Zelenskyy reiterated his appeal for more weapons from other countries. He said that they must fight for life, not “for dust when no one is around”. That’s why it is important to stop this war.”
KYIV, Ukraine — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, promising so much support that his nation might never be bullied again.
Johnson’s surprise visit included a pledge of 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems, part of another 100 million pounds ($130 million) of high-grade military equipment. Johnson also confirmed an additional $500 million in World Bank lending, taking Britain’s total loan guarantee up to $1 billion.
Johnson said Ukraine defied the odds pushing Russian forces “from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century.”
The prime minister credits “Zelenskyy’s resolute leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people” for thwarting what he calls the “monstrous aims” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Johnson says Britain and its partners “are going to ratchet up the economic pressure … not just freezing assets in banks and sanctioning oligarchs but moving away from use of Russian hydrocarbons.”
Johnson also described a vision for a future Ukraine so fortified and protected by the equipment, technology and know-how of Britain and its partners that it can never be threatened in the same way again. In the meantime, Johnson said, “there is a huge amount to do to make sure that Ukraine is successful, that Ukraine wins and that Putin must fail.”
MILAN — An Italian government source said Italian Premier Mario Draghi is traveling to Algeria on Monday to sign a deal for more gas.
Italy is urgently searching for alternatives to natural gas coming from Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. Russia is Italy’s biggest supplier, representing 40% of total imports. Italy’s foreign minister traveled to Algeria, Azerbaijan and Qatar to make more deals. Algeria is Italy’s second-largest supplier of natural gas, which is the main source of the nation’s electricity, providing some 21 billion cubic meters of gas via the Trans-Mediterranean pipeline.
Italian energy company ENI has operated in Algeria for 40 years. ENI announced last month a significant oil-and-gas discovery in Algeria and stated that it would work with Sonatrach to accelerate its development for the third quarter. Colleen Barry,
— Italy’s business reporter.
Julian Lennon has explained why he decided to sing his father’s song “Imagine” for the first time publicly.
He posted on social media that he had always said that he would only sing the song when it was the End of the World. He claims it’s the right song because the War on Ukraine is a terrible tragedy. He felt the need to respond in the best way he could.
John Lennon’s son says that murderous violence in Ukraine has forced millions of families to flee their homes. He says the lyrics reflect our collective desire for peace worldwide, and “within this song, we’re transported to a space, where love and togetherness become our reality, if but for a moment in time.”
Lennon joined celebrities around the world calling on world leaders to do more to support refugees in the Stand Up For Ukraine campaign.
KYIV, Ukraine — Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer says the Austrian embassy staff will return to Kyiv from western Ukraine. The Austria Press Agency reported that Nehammer made the announcement during a Saturday visit to Kyiv where he met Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President.
Nehammer said that “since the situation around Kyiv has now stabilized somewhat, the Austrian embassy’s team will resume its work in the Ukrainian capital.” He said it’s a sign of Austria’s “full support for Ukraine at this very difficult time.”
The team had been moved at the beginning of the war to an outpost in Uzhhorod, near the Slovak border in Ukraine’s far west.
The European Union has also returned its ambassador in Kyiv, and Italy reportedly plans to reopen their embassy there.
BOSTON — The International Monetary Fund has created an account to give donor countries a secure way to funnel financial assistance directly to war-ravaged Ukraine.
The multilateral lender stated in a Friday statement that it launched the account at the request a number of member countries. The goal is to assist Ukraine in meeting its payments and stabilize its economy through loans or grants from pooled funds.
The IMF says Canada has proposed routing up to 1 billion Canadian dollars ($795 million) to Ukraine through the new account.
Two weeks after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the IMF approved a $1.4 billion emergency loan to Ukraine.
BOSTON — S&P Global Ratings has downgraded its assessment of Russia’s ability to repay foreign debt, signaling increased prospects that Moscow will soon default on such loans for the first time in more than a century. The credit rating agency issued the downgrade from “selective default” Friday night after Russia made arrangements to pay foreign bond payments in rubles, despite them being due in dollars. It said it didn’t expect Russia to be able to convert the rubles into dollars within a 30-day grace period.
S&P stated that it believes Russia’s sanctions over its invasion in Ukraine will increase, which could hinder its willingness and ability honor its obligations to foreign debtholders. The Kremlin indicated it is willing to pay its debts, but warned that it would do so in rubles in the event its overseas accounts remain frozen in foreign currencies.
WARSAW, Poland – The head of the European Union’s executive branch says 10.1 billion euros ($11 billion) have been raised globally in a fundraising event for Ukraine and people who have fled the country invaded by Russia.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was joined at the event in Warsaw by Polish President Andrzej Duda and — remotely — by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
At the end of the 90-minute event, a smiling von der Leyen said the donations will go to help refugees, both outside and inside Ukraine.
” We will continue to provide support. Von der Leyen stated that once the bombs stop falling, they will continue to support the people of Ukraine in rebuilding their country.
Saturday’s pledging event was held in Warsaw because more than 2.5 million of the 4.4 million people who have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24 have entered Poland. Many have stayed, but some have moved to other countries. The event was intended to encourage political leaders and celebrities around the world to donate money and other donations to Ukraine.
It ended with Julian Lennon singing his father John Lennon’s peace song “Imagine.”
MOSCOW — YouTube has banned the channel of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, prompting government officials to renew longtime threats against the platform.
The Duma TV channel reported the ban on the messaging app Telegram, noting that it had 145,000 subscribers and over 100,000 million total views. In comments to the Russian news agency Interfax, Google didn’t give an exact reason for the move, but said the company follows “all applicable sanction and trade compliance laws.”
Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor demanded that YouTube unblock the channel. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, stated Saturday that the service had “given itself a sentence” in which she urged users to “download content and transfer it onto Russian platforms.” And fast.”
State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin called the move against the parliament’s YouTube channel “another proof of violations of the rights and freedoms of citizens by Washington.”
MILAN — Italy’s foreign minister has reportedly told staff that Italy will reopen its embassy in the Ukrainian capital after Easter.
News agency ANSA reported that Luigi Di Maio, the foreign minister of Italy, told his ministry’s crisis unit on Saturday that Italy “will among the first to return to Kyiv.”
He called it “another gesture to demonstrate support for the Ukrainian population, a concrete way to affirm that diplomacy must prevail.”
Di Maio said the return would be coordinated with other European Union nations.
The EU announced Friday the return of its ambassador. On Saturday, EU ambassador Matti Maasikas tweeted a picture of an EU flag atop a flagpole with the words “First things first.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Austria’s leader says he expects more European Union sanctions against Russia but is defending his country’s opposition so far to cutting off deliveries of Russian gas.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer spoke Saturday after becoming the latest of several European leaders to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Nehammer said at a news conference that “we will continue to ratchet up sanctions inside the European Union until the war stops” and that a package of sanctions imposed this week “won’t be the last one.” He acknowledged that “as long as people are dying, every sanction is still insufficient.”
Austria, which gets most of its gas from Russia, is one of the countries that have been resisting a halt to deliveries. Questioned about that Saturday, Nehammer said that EU sanctions are becoming increasingly “accurate” but that “sanctions are effective when they hit those they are directed against, and don’t weaken those imposing sanctions against the one who is conducting war.”
Austria is militarily neutral and not a member of NATO.
LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense says Russian naval forces are launching cruise missiles into Ukraine to support military operations in the eastern Donbas region and around the cities of Mariupol and Mykolaiv. The ministry stated that Russia’s air force is expected to intensify activity in the east and south of Ukraine to support these operations.
The ministry said these actions come as attempts to establish a land corridor between Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and Russian-controlled parts of the Donbas region “continue to be thwarted by Ukrainian resistance.”
U.K. officials also say Russia is continuing to attack non-combatants, such as those killed at the Kramatorsk railway station in a rocket strike on Friday.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s railway operator says operations are halted at the train station in Kramatorsk, which was damaged in a missile strike Friday, but evacuations of civilians will continue through other stations in eastern Ukraine. The company stated Saturday that evacuations will continue from stations in Slovyansk, Pokrovsk (Donetsk) and Novozolotarivka (Luhansk).
The statement on the messaging app Telegram said that “the railways do not stop the task of taking everyone to safety.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ten humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations are to open in Ukraine’s east on Saturday, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. Residents will be able to evacuate from several cities in the Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions via these corridors.
Residents in Mariupol and Enerhodar, Tokmak and Berdyansk will be able evacuate to Zaporizhia. Those in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk can evacuate to Bakhmut in Donetsk.
WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country’s security service has intercepted communications of Russian troops that provide evidence of war crimes. There are soldiers talking to their parents about what they took and who they kidnapped. There are recordings of prisoners of war who admitted killing people,” Zelenskyy said in an excerpt of an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Friday.
” There are pilots in prison with maps that had civilian targets to bomb. In a CBS translation, he stated that there are also investigations based on the remains and bodies of the dead.
Zelenskyy said “everyone who made a decision, who issued an order, who fulfilled an order” is guilty of a war crime. Asked whether he held Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible, he said: “I do believe that he’s one of them.”
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the missile strike on an eastern train station as another Russian war crime and said Ukraine expects a tough global response.
“The missile attack on Kramatorsk, like other Russian war crimes and the massacres at Bucha, should be brought before the tribunal.” he stated during Friday’s nightly video address to the nation. The president assured Ukrainians that great efforts will be made to “elucidate every minute of who did it” so that those responsible would be held accountable.
Zelenskyy said he spoke with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Friday and urged the EU to impose a full embargo on Russian oil and gas. It is Russia’s energy exports that provide the largest share of Russia’s income, and allow the Russian leadership believe in their impunity,” Zelenskyy stated.
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