Home » Russia-Ukraine War: UN Calls For End To School Strikes After Nearly 100 Child Deaths In April; EU To Consider Ukraine’s Membership – Live

Russia-Ukraine War: UN Calls For End To School Strikes After Nearly 100 Child Deaths In April; EU To Consider Ukraine’s Membership – Live

Nearly 100 children killed in Ukraine in April alone, says Unicef

Nearly 100 children were killed in Ukraine during the month of April alone, but actual figures could be significantly higher, the United Nations children’s fund said.

Unicef’s deputy executive director, Omar Abdi, was speaking at the UN’s security council:

In just this past month, the UN verified that nearly 100 children were killed, and we believe the actual figures to be considerably higher.

The war in Ukraine was creating a “child protection and child rights crisis”, he warned.

More children have been injured and faced grave violations of their rights, millions more have been displaced.

Abdi also demanded an end to the bombing of Ukrainian schools, adding that one in six Unicef-supported schools in eastern Ukraine had been “damaged or destroyed” as of last week.

He said:

Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas.

A school gymnasium destroyed by bombing in Luch, Ukraine, last week. Photograph: Vincenzo Circosta/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Today so far

It’s 6 pm ET here in New York. I’ll be handing the blog over to my colleagues in Australia.

Here’s what happened so far:

  • Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said “very difficult negotiations” are ongoing to evacuate 38 seriously wounded fighters from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, in exchange for Russian prisoners of war. “We work step by step. We will exchange 38, then we will move on,” Vereshchuk said.
  • The number of people who have fled Ukraine to escape Russia’s invasion has exceeded 6 million, the UN’s refugee agency said. A further 8 million people have been forced to flee their homes and are displaced inside Ukraine, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
  • Nearly 100 children were killed in Ukraine during the month of April alone, but actual figures could be significantly higher, the United Nations children’s fund said. Unicef’s deputy executive director, Omar Abdi, demanded an end to the bombing of Ukrainian schools, adding that one in six Unicef-supported schools in eastern Ukraine had been “damaged or destroyed” as of last week.
  • European Union leaders plan to assess Ukraine’s membership next month, according to the French foreign ministry. Ukraine’s application to become an EU member is being examined by the European Commission and will be “discussed at heads of state and government level at the European Council in the month of June”, a spokesperson for the ministry said.
  • Finland must apply to join Nato “without delay” in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, its president, Sauli Niinistö, and prime minister, Sanna Marin, said. With neighbouring Sweden expected to follow suit, the two leaders said steps would be taken “within the next few days” to make the decision to apply, adding that Nato membership would strengthen Finland’s security. Leaders of Nato member states welcomed the announcement.
  • The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia would “definitely” see Finnish membership as a threat. Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow would be “forced to take reciprocal steps … to address the resulting threats to its national security” if Helsinki applied for Nato accession.
  • Russia could cut its gas supplies to Finland tomorrow, a day after Finnish leaders said they would apply to join Nato, according to reports. Key Finnish politicians have been warned that Russia could halt its gas supplies on Friday, the local newspaper Iltalehti cited unnamed sources as saying.
  • The UN’s human rights council has passed a resolution to investigate alleged abuses by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control, with a view to holding those responsible to account. The resolution passed by a strong majority, with 33 members voting in favour and two – China and Eritrea – against. There were 12 abstentions.
  • The UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said 1,000 bodies had been recovered in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in recent weeks. Many of the violations it is verifying since the Russian invasion may amount to war crimes, she said.
  • Michael Carpenter, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that “at least several thousand Ukrainians” have been sent to so-called “filtration centers” in Russia where they are interrogated and reportedly beaten and tortured, according to a transcript of Carpenter’s remarks.
  • US Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has blocked the passage of a $40 billion aid bill to Ukraine. Paul demanded changes to the legislation that would include implementing a special inspector general to oversee how the aid is spent.

More than 1,100 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Wales under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, according to the BBC. Under the sponsorship scheme, 37,500 visas have been issued across the UK.

For those visas issued for refugees to go to England, 49% have arrived, 28% of those planning to go to Scotland arrived and 16% have arrived in Northern Ireland.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Russia has destroyed 570 health care facilities and 101 hospitals, according to the New York Times. The remarks came during his nightly address to the nation. He also said some schools were struck on Thursday in northern Ukraine.

Earlier today, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution to investigate Russia’s human rights abuses in Ukraine in a 33-2 vote.

US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has blocked the passage of a $40bn aid bill to Ukraine. Paul demanded changes to the legislation that would include implementing a special inspector general to oversee how the aid is spent, according to CNN.

“We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the US economy,” Paul said.

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leader Mitch McConnell offered to allow a vote on the Republican senator’s amendment. But CNN is reporting that Paul insisted that it be added to the actual bill.

“The package is ready to go,” Schumer said. “The vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it. There’s now only one thing holding us back the junior senator from Kentucky is preventing swift passage of Ukraine aid because he wants to add at the last minute his own changes directly into the bill. His change is strongly opposed by many members of both parties.”

Michael Carpenter, the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that “at least several thousand Ukrainians” have been sent to so-called “filtration centers” in Russia, according to a transcript of his remarks to the OSCE Permanent Council.

“During this so-called ‘filtration’ process, Russia’s forces reportedly process and interrogate detained Ukrainian citizens to identify anyone with ties to the Ukrainian government or military, as well as individuals with ‘pro-Ukraine’ convictions,” Carpenter’s remarks reads.

Carpenter went onto say that residents of Mariupol were reportedly evicted from shelters and forced onto buses to these “filtration camps” without telling them where they were going.

“Numerous eyewitness accounts indicate that ‘filtering out’ entails beating and torturing individuals to determine whether they owe even the slightest allegiance to the Ukrainian state,” his remarks continue.

More from his transcript:

According to these reports, those who are judged to have such an allegiance are transferred to the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic,” where they face a dark fate.

According to one survivor, “If a person was suspected of being a ‘Ukrainian Nazi’, they took them to Donetsk for further investigation or murder…. Everybody was afraid to be taken to Donetsk.” Another survivor recounted a conversation she overheard between two Russian soldiers as she and her family were undergoing “filtration” outside of Mariupol. “What did you do with people who didn’t pass the filtration?” one soldier asked. The response: “Shot 10 and stopped counting.”

Authorities in Spain have identified houses, companies and one luxury yacht belonging to Russian oligarchs who are on the sanctions list, Reuters is reporting. In the weeks since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mariano García Fresno, the head of the General Council of Notaries’ money laundering prevention unit said the group noticed increased activity as oligarchs attempted to transfer ownership and stakes of businesses to relatives or associates.

More context from Reuters:

This week, the European Commission, the EU executive, said it would introduce a legislative proposal to prosecute those who attempted to evade sanctions, for instance by transferring their assets to family members.

After reviewing more than 1,000 names among millions of transactions registered with Spain’s public notaries since 2004, García Fresno’s unit established that sanctioned oligarchs had stakes in at least 10 Spanish companies and 13 foreign ones.

The information was handed over to the country’s financial intelligence unit and the Treasury and, in late April, the government confirmed it had frozen 12 funds and bank accounts linked to five people on the sanctions list, along with three luxury yachts and 23 properties.

Some interesting analysis from Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies at the Center for Naval Analyses in Washington DC, on Russia’s mobilization problem in its invasion of Ukraine.

Kofman argues that Russia is currently “operating at peacetime strength”.

However, without declaring a state of war, or conducting partial mobilization the force is still operating at peacetime strength. Below is one estimate of how a hypothetical brigade with 3,500 personnel may have only a fraction actually available for deployment. 5/ pic.twitter.com/NnMmAd3tcZ

— Michael Kofman (@KofmanMichael) May 12, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/KofmanMichael/status/1524821203277447170″,”id”:”1524821203277447170″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”59e31bdd-c7d9-4593-9a3c-34b81201dd86″}}”>

However, without declaring a state of war, or conducting partial mobilization the force is still operating at peacetime strength. Below is one estimate of how a hypothetical brigade with 3,500 personnel may have only a fraction actually available for deployment. 5/ pic.twitter.com/NnMmAd3tcZ

— Michael Kofman (@KofmanMichael) May 12, 2022

He notes that Vladimir Putin seems hesitant to declare a state of war. Currently, Putin has designated the invasion of Ukraine as a “special operation”.

All in all, I don't see general mobilization as technically feasible or likely, hence I suggested this would not be declared on May 9th. A combination of halfway measures won't dramatically change Russian fortunes either, but they could significantly extend the war. 23/

— Michael Kofman (@KofmanMichael) May 12, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/KofmanMichael/status/1524821224794234880″,”id”:”1524821224794234880″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”cf72b2eb-0858-4414-9730-6ad9bdd00831″}}”>

All in all, I don’t see general mobilization as technically feasible or likely, hence I suggested this would not be declared on May 9th. A combination of halfway measures won’t dramatically change Russian fortunes either, but they could significantly extend the war. 23/

— Michael Kofman (@KofmanMichael) May 12, 2022

As it stands, Russian options are shrinking. The more they drag their feet the further their ability to sustain the war deteriorates, and the worse their subsequent options.

— Michael Kofman (@KofmanMichael) May 12, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/KofmanMichael/status/1524821226262302721″,”id”:”1524821226262302721″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”41bd2b25-7d44-4658-a193-374118f13b5f”}}”>

As it stands, Russian options are shrinking. The more they drag their feet the further their ability to sustain the war deteriorates, and the worse their subseque