UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia from the U.N.'s leading human rights body over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, which the United States and Ukraine have called tantamount to war crimes.
Russia is the second country to have its membership rights stripped at the Human Rights Council, which was established in 2006. In 2011, the assembly suspended Libya when upheaval in the North African country brought down longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.
The vote on Thursday was 93-24 with 58 abstentions. That is significantly lower than votes on two resolutions the assembly adopted last month demanding an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine, withdrawal of all Russian troops and protection for civilians. Both resolutions were approved by at least 140 nations.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield launched the campaign to suspend Russia from its seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council in the wake of videos and photos of streets in the Ukrainian town of Bucha strewn with corpses of what appeared to be civilians after Russian soldiers retreated. The deaths have sparked global revulsion and calls for tougher sanctions on Russia, which has denied its troops were responsible.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Ukraine girds for renewed Russian offensive on eastern front
— Ukraine appeals to NATO for more weapons
— Russia is moving troops and focus toward the east, but that strategy carries risks as well
— U.N. General Assembly votes to suspend Russia from UN rights council
— Ukrainian refugees find quickest route into US goes through Mexico
— Seeing Bucha atrocities is turning point for media, viewers
— Russia makes debt payment in rubles, a move that could result in historic default
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
WASHINGTON — The U.S. moved Thursday to choke off U.S. exports to three Russian airlines as part of what officials described as an unprecedented enforcement action.
The Commerce Department said the move would prevent the Russian national flag carrier Aeroflot, Utair and Azur Air from receiving items from the U.S., including parts to service their aircraft.
Matthew Axelrod, an assistant commerce secretary for export enforcement, told reporters the sanctioned airlines will largely be unable to continue to fly since they will be cut off from the parts and services needed to maintain their fleets.
The actions, known as temporary denial orders, do allow the Commerce Department to grant exceptions when the safety of a flight would be at risk. The orders extend for 180 days, though they can be renewed.
The private sector has also taken its own action against Russian airlines in response to the war against Ukraine, with Delta Air Lines in February suspending its codesharing partnership with Russian national airline Aeroflot.
LONDON -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced plans to build more nuclear power plants, boost renewable energy production and further tap domestic oil and gas reserves to help the U.K. reduce its dependence on Russian energy following the invasion of Ukraine.
Johnson announced the strategy three weeks after he said Western countries had made a “terrible mistake” in failing to wean themselves off Russian energy following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
The goal is to build eight new nuclear reactors by 2050, tripling U.K. production of nuclear energy to 24 gigawatts, or a quarter of projected electricity demand.
In addition, the strategy targets a 10-fold increase in production of electricity from offshore wind farms and an unspecified boost from onshore wind farms in a “limited number of supportive communities.”
The government also announced a new round of licensing for oil and gas projects in the North Sea, saying these fuels would be key to U.K. energy security and as a transition to low-carbon renewable energy. Other elements include promoting solar power and increasing hydrogen production for use in fuel cells.
WARSAW, Poland – A surgeon in Poland says a seriously wounded 13-year-old boy from Ukraine will require long, specialized treatment for the injuries he suffered in the early days of Russia’s invasion.
Pediatric surgeon Professor Jan Godzinski, of the T. Marciniak hospital in Wroclaw said Thursday that a detailed diagnostic scan has been performed on the “very serious” injuries that Volodymyr, or Vova, has suffered to his back, spine and facial nerves.
Vova was injured and his father was killed in late February when the car in which the family were trying to flee Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv was shelled by Russian forces. Doctors in Kyiv were able to save his life, and he was later transferred to Lviv, but he is now in a wheelchair due to the spine injuries and one side of his face is paralyzed.
Some shrapnel particles in his body still need to be removed, Godzinski said.
“What moved me most was that he smiled when we told him we will be able to help him,” Godzinski said on Poland’s private TVN24.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is calling for his country to be included in negotiations about ending the war in Ukraine.
“There can be no negotiations without the participation of Belarus,” Lukashenko said at a meeting Thursday of his national security council. “There can be no separate agreements behind the back of Belarus.”
Russia has launched missile attacks on Ukraine from Belarus and Russian troops invaded Ukraine from Belarus. There has been no confirmation of claims that Belarusian forces entered Ukraine.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says scenes that have emerged from the Ukrainian town of Bucha, which was recaptured from Russian forces, have “cast a shadow” over negotiations between Russia and Ukraine but says the sides must continue to talk under all circumstances.
Speaking after a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday, Cavusoglu said he told his Ukrainian counterpart that Turkey was prepared to host possible peace talks.
“The only way is diplomacy,” he told Turkish journalists in Brussels.
Turkey, which has maintained its close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, has hosted a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers as well as talks between the two negotiating teams.
The minister said Turkey was also talking with both Russia and Ukraine about the possible evacuation of civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol by sea. Some 30 Turkish citizens as well as their companions were still trapped in the city, he said.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — European Union police agency Europol says representatives of member states have discussed ways of tackling organized crime linked to the war in Ukraine.
Europol said after a meeting Thursday that initial intelligence analysis has uncovered “crime patterns” including human trafficking, online fraud, cybercrime and firearm trafficking and warned that the war could lead to more activity by organized crime networks.
The agency says it is “necessary to mobilize resources and increase the preparedness” of a multidisciplinary platform that tackles serious and organized crime.
BRUSSELS — Ukraine’s foreign minister says he’s cautiously optimistic that some NATO member countries will increase their weapons supplies to his country, helping it resist Russia’s invasion, but he urged swift decisions and action.
Speaking Thursday after talks in Brussels with NATO foreign ministers, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “I’m cautiously optimistic about the outcome of our discussions.”
He declined to say which countries would be providing equipment or what kind they would be, but he said the weapons must get to Ukraine quickly as Russia gears up for a new offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
Kuleba said: “Either you help us now, and I’m speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late.”
He also criticized Western countries for failing to impose sanctions quickly enough, citing the case of the town of Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv where war crimes have been reported.
“How many Buchas have to take place for you to impose sanctions? How many children, women, men, have to die – innocent lives have to be lost – for you to understand that you cannot allow sanctions fatigue, as we cannot allow fighting fatigue,” Kuleba told reporters.
ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says the EU could consider a price cap on Russian gas as a way to limit Europe’s financing of the war in Ukraine without imposing a boycott altogether. But he acknowledged opposition to the proposal.
Draghi made the comments Thursday after meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has expressed reservations about the proposed price cap mechanism.
Draghi said he had made “a fundamental step” forward in nudging Rutte to not rule out the proposal entirely.
“If we’re not able to do a block as has been discussed, the alternative could be imposing a price cap on gas using the power of the market that Europe has as the biggest purchaser of gas,” Draghi said.
Rutte concurred he was not excluding the proposal outright and was willing to look at all options. But he insisted that the benefits must outweigh the drawbacks.
HELSINKI — Finland and Estonia say they are jointly planning to rent a floating liquefied natural gas, or LNG, terminal to ensure gas supply in the two countries in efforts to break energy dependence on neighboring Russia.
Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintila and his Estonian counterpart Taavi Aas said in a statement Thursday that a movable off-shore LNG terminal would offer a quick solution in guaranteeing gas supply in the two European Union members separated by the Baltic Sea.
“Due to the war in Ukraine, we must prepare for possible interruptions of gas import” through pipelines from Russia, Lintila said, adding that a floating LNG terminal “is an efficient way to secure gas supply, including in industry
PARIS — France has summoned Russia’s ambassador over his tweet suggesting that images of civilians killed in Ukraine’s town of Bucha were staged. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the tweet “indecent.”
Thursday’s tweet, which was later removed but had already been reprinted by numerous French media, showed a street in Bucha with a knocked-out tank and numerous journalists, under the caption “film set.”
Media covering the war in Ukraine, including The Associated Press, have revealed scenes of horror in the Kyiv suburb with bodies of Ukrainian civilians scattered about the town, which was occupied by Russian troops in March. Moscow has been deriding the reports and images as fake, or killings carried out by Ukrainians. AP and other news outlets have provided evidence to the contrary.
Le Drian denounced the “indecency and the provocation” of the Russian Embassy in France, vowing to “continue to fight all Russian manipulation of information on the war in Ukraine.”
Last month, Ambassador Alexei Mechkov was summoned for a tweet showing caricatures that the French called “unacceptable.”
BRUSSELS — The Group of Seven major world powers are warning Russia they will keep ramping up sanctions until its troops leave Ukraine and that those responsible for alleged war crimes will be prosecuted.
G7 foreign ministers vowed Thursday to “sustain and increase pressure on Russia by imposing coordinated additional restrictive measures to effectively thwart Russian abilities to continue the aggression against Ukraine.”
Western nations have already slapped several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including on President Vladimir Putin, his family and associates, but have been reluctant to hit the country’s energy sector.
The G7 ministers, meeting on the sidelines of NATO talks in Brussels, say they “are taking further steps to expedite plans to reduce our reliance on Russian energy, and will work together to this end.”
Following allegations this week of war crimes in the city of Bucha, the ministers insist that “those responsible for these heinous acts and atrocities, including any attacks targeting civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure, will be held accountable and prosecuted.”
They also repeated warnings about the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, saying that “any use by Russia of such a weapon would be unacceptable and result in severe consequences.”
MOSCOW — Russia’s top diplomat has accused Ukraine of derailing talks with Moscow by changing its negotiating stance.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that Ukraine had walked back its proposal that international guarantees of its security don’t apply to Crimea.
Russian annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014 and wants Ukraine to acknowledge Moscow’s sovereignty over it.
Lavrov also accused Ukraine of modifying a provision in a draft deal it had submitted earlier that said that military drills on Ukrainian territory could be organized with the consent of all guarantor countries, including Russia.
Lavrov added that Russia intends to continue the talks despite the Ukrainian “provocations.”
There was no immediate response to his claims from the Ukrainian government.
GENEVA — The World Health Organization says 73 people have died in 91 attacks on public health care in Ukraine during the war with Russia.
The targets have included ambulances, hospitals and clinics, and medical workers.
“The life-saving medicine that Ukraine needs right now is peace,” WHO Europe regional director Hans Kluge told reporters Thursday in the western Ukraine city of Lviv.
About half of Ukraine’s pharmacies are believed to be closed and 1,000 health facilities are near conflict areas, endangering the provision of care to those who need it, WHO said.
More than 250,000 people in Ukraine are living with HIV, routine immunizations for polio and measles are below sufficient levels, and “roughly 80,000 babies will be born over the next three months with insufficient pre- and post-natal care available due to the war in these dark days,” Kluge said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russia intends to respond to U.S. sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters as it sees fit.
“Russia will definitely respond, and will do it as it sees fit,” Peskov said Thursday.
The U.S. on Wednesday announced that it is sanctioning Putin’s two adult daughters as part of a new batch of penalties on the country’s political and economic systems in retaliation for its alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Peskov told a conference call with reporters that the sanctions “add to a completely frantic line of various restrictions” and the fact that the restrictions target family members “speaks for itself.”
“This is something that is difficult to understand and explain. But, unfortunately, we have to deal with such opponents,” Peskov said.
BRUSSELS — European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s meeting in Kyiv with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to take place on Friday.
EU commission chief spokesman Eric Mamer said von der Leyen will convey a message of “complete solidarity” and will reiterate the support provided by the 27-nation bloc to Ukraine.
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell will also be on the trip.
ATHENS, Greece — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country needs anti-aircraft defense systems, artillery systems, munitions and armored vehicles to hold Russia’s invasion at bay.
“The sooner Ukraine receives this help, the more lives we can save in Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in an address to Greek parliament Thursday.
Zelenskyy emphasized the destruction wrought on the southern port city of Mariupol, home to a sizeable Greek-Ukrainian community, and urged Greece to help prevent the same fate befalling Odesa, another Ukrainian port city with deep ties to Greece.
The Ukrainian president called for sanctions on all Russian banks and a ban on Russian ships from entering ports as a way of hindering Russia’s ability to finance the war.
“Russia is absolutely confident in its invincibility and that they could do whatever they want without going unpunished. We have to stop it. We must bring Russia to justice,” Zelenskyy said.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Satellite photos show a Ukrainian naval vessel on fire in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
The images from Planet Labs PBC, analyzed Thursday by The Associated Press, appear to show the Ukrainian command ship Donbas ablaze at the port, as a nearby building also burned around 2:30 p.m. local time Wednesday.
The cause of the fire remained unclear.
Russian forces are strangling the city on the Sea of Azov as they press forward in their war that began Feb. 24. Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine had accused Ukrainian forces of setting fire to the vessel as a “provocation” to “discredit the Russian military.”
LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says Russia is bombarding infrastructure targets to wear down Ukraine’s government and military as it prepares for a renewed assault on the country’s east.
The ministry said in an intelligence update Thursday that “progressing offensive operations in eastern Ukraine is the main focus of Russian military forces.”
It says Russia is targeting the “line of control” between Ukrainian-held areas in the Donbas and those held by Russia-supporting separatists with artillery and airstrikes.
The Russian military is also targeting infrastructure in the Ukrainian interior “to degrade the ability of the Ukrainian military to resupply and increase pressure on the Ukrainian government.”
Even so, the U.K. says that “Russian forces are likely to continue facing morale issues and shortages of supplies and personnel.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine is accusing Hungary of undermining the unity of the European Union by supporting Moscow as Russia presses its invasion.
Hungary is an EU member, and Ukraine wants to join the 27-nation bloc. Ukrainian officials are angry about Hungary’s response to evidence that Russian troops killed people indiscriminately before recently retreating from in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, which the EU has condemned.
Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Thursday that “Hungary’s reluctance to acknowledge Russia’s responsibility for atrocities in Bucha strengthens Russia’s sense of impunity and encourages it to commit new crimes.”
Nikolenko also blasted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s statement about Hungary’s readiness to pay for the Russian gas in rubles, describing it as flying in the face of the EU’s rejection of Moscow’s currency demand.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says Russian forces have agreed on 10 humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians in three eastern regions of Ukraine on Thursday.
Russia is expected to intensify its military campaign for control of Ukraine’s industrial east in coming days and weeks, and Ukraine has appealed to NATO for more weapons to help stop it.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said civilians from the Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions will be able to evacuate to the cities of Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut.
Vereshchuk said on the messaging app Telegram that it would be possible to travel from Mariupol and Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia by car and from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Melitopol by car and on buses.
Evacuations to Bakhmut, a city in the Donetsk region, will take place in Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Girske and Rubizhne of the Luhansk region.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is calling on members of the organization to provide more weapons for Ukraine and not just defensive anti-tank and anti-craft arms.
As NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels on Thursday, Stoltenberg said “I have urged allies to provide further support of many different types of systems, both light weapons but also heavier weapons.”
Stoltenberg says that NATO countries, but not NATO as an organization, are supplying many kinds of arms and other support to Ukraine but that the 30 allies can do more.
He says that “Ukraine is fighting a defensive war, so this distinction between offensive and defensive weapons doesn’t actually have any real meaning.”
Stoltenberg is insisting that it is also important for NATO not to be dragged into a wider war with Russia.
“NATO is not sending troops to be on the ground. We also have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine, and become even more deadly, even more dangerous and destructive,” he said.
BRUSSELS — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is appealing to NATO to provide his war-torn country with weapons to help avoid further atrocities like those reported in the town of Bucha this week.
Arriving at NATO headquarters Thursday for talks with the military organization’s foreign ministers, Kuleba said: “My agenda is very simple… it’s weapons, weapons and weapons.”
Kuleba says that “we know how to fight. We know how to win. But without sustainable and sufficient supplies requested by Ukraine, these wins will be accompanied by enormous sacrifices.”
“The more weapons we get and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved.”
He urged Germany in particular to go further, and speed the dispatch of sorely needed equipment and arms, saying that “while Berlin has time, Kyiv doesn’t.”