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Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russian forces 'facing morale issues and shortages'

GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with troops crossing the border from Belarus and Russia. Moscow’s forces have since been met with “stiff resistance” from Ukrainians, according to U.S. officials.

Russian forces retreated last week from the Kyiv suburbs, leaving behind a trail of destruction. After graphic images emerged of civilians lying dead in the streets of Bucha, U.S. and European officials accused Russian troops of committing war crimes.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 07, 11:23 am
Russia accused of deporting Mariupol residents to Russian territory

Ukrainian officials claimed Thursday that Russian troops are deporting health care workers and other residents in the beiseged port city of Mariupol to Russia-held territory.

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Mariupol City Council said in a statement that “the occupiers have forcibly removed” staff and patients from a hospital and taken them to Russia-controlled separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in another statement that, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, at least 40,000 Mariupol residents have been deported to other cities, mostly in Russia. He noted that his administration is creating a database of deported residents as part of efforts to bring them home.

Mariupol, a strategic southeastern port city in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast, has been largely reduced to rubble after more than a month of heavy Russian bombardment. According to the Ukrainian military, fierce fighting against Russian forces continued Thursday in Mariupol as well as the cities of Popasna, Rubizhne and Severodonetsk in the neighboring Luhansk Oblast of eastern Ukraine.

Apr 07, 11:10 am
Ukrainian official tells Blinken time is of essence with weapons

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday that time is of the essence in providing weapons to Ukraine.

“We have no doubts that in the end, Ukraine will get everything that it needs, and we will overcome all of the reluctance and hesitation coming from some allies when it comes to specifics weapons, but the issue of timeline is crucial,” Kuleba said, eliciting an affirmative hum from Blinken. “I’m looking forward to our conversation today to discuss the timeline of supplies of the weapons which are needed to defend Ukraine.”

Kuleba praised the U.S. as a “real” friend for its “ironclad support” and “leadership” in imposing sanctions on Russia and “reaching out” to countries that haven’t taken a firm stance against Russia’s invasion.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Apr 07, 10:29 am
Video shows trenches, tank tracks in radioactive Red Forest

Video has emerged purportedly showing trenches and tank tracks in Ukraine’s radioactive Red Forest.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense released the footage on Wednesday, claiming it as evidence that Russia ordered its soldiers to dig fortifications in the Red Forest near the shuttered Chernobyl nuclear power plant while occupying the area.

“Complete neglect of human life, even of one’s own subordinates, is what a killer-state looks like,” the ministry said in a post on Twitter alongside the video.

The Red Forest is the most radioactively contaminated part of the exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

Apr 07, 10:28 am
Russia claims attacks on more fuel depots in Ukraine

Russia claimed Thursday that its forces destroyed more fuel depots in Ukraine overnight.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “high-precision air- and sea-based missiles” struck four fuel storage facilities “during the night” near the Ukrainian cities of Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv and Chuhuiv, from which the ministry claimed “Ukrainian forces were supplied with fuel” near Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Donbas.

Apr 07, 10:27 am
Russian forces ‘facing morale issues and shortages,’ UK says

Russia’s military remains focused on progressing its offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said Thursday in an intelligence update.

According to the ministry, Russian forces continue to conduct artillery and air strikes along the line of control in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure targets are likely intended to degrade the ability of Ukraine’s military to resupply as well as to increase pressure on the Ukrainian government, the ministry said.

“Despite refocusing forces and logistics capabilities to support operations in the Donbas,” the ministry added, “Russian forces are likely to continue facing morale issues and shortages of supplies and personnel.”

Apr 07, 9:08 am
US Senate votes to resurrect WWII-era program to help Ukraine fight Russia

The United States Senate unanimously approved major legislation late Wednesday to resurrect a World War II-era policy that gives President Joe Biden the authority to expedite the delivery of weapons and other supplies to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.

The so-called Lend-Lease program was created during the Second World War and allowed the U.S. to swiftly resupply allies without bureaucratic barriers in the fight against Nazi Germany. The bill that passed in the Senate on Wednesday night would enable the U.S. to stay physically out of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine while providing allies with weapons and military equipment.

In a brief, late-night speech on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military forces of carrying out “genocide” in Ukraine, calling the alleged atrocities “pure evil.”

“When we murder wantonly innocent civilians because of who they are, whether it be their religion, their race, or their nationality, that is genocide,” Schumer said, “and Mr. Putin is guilty of it.”

The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, as it’s called, would be specific to Ukraine and Eastern European nations to help remove obstacles to lending arms. The legislation would not create a new program, but would streamline the president’s current authority to lend the defense articles needed by Ukraine and Eastern European countries and expedite the delivery of defense articles to Ukraine. It would remain in effect through fiscal year 2023, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Shaheen introduced the bill with Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in January. It will now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Apr 07, 5:21 am
Ukraine’s NATO agenda: ‘Weapons, weapons and weapons’

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba said his country had a “simple” agenda for Thursday’s NATO meeting.

“It has only three items on it. It’s weapons, weapons and weapons,” Kuleba told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting this week to discuss the situation in Ukraine, including whether to implement new sanctions and supply additional weapons, said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who spoke alongside Kuleba.

“So we are providing support, but, at the same time, working hard to prevent the escalation of the conflict,” Stoltenberg said.

Kuleba called on “all allies to put aside their hesitations” in aiding Ukraine.

“We are confident that the best way to help Ukraine now is to provide it with all necessary to contain [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and to defeat Russian army in Ukraine, in the territory of Ukraine, so that the war does not spill over further,” Kuleba said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Kuleba on Thursday, according to his office.

“The G7 is committed to holding President Putin to account for his unprovoked war of choice and ensuring he endures a strategic defeat in Ukraine,” Blinken said on Twitter on Thursday.

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