TALLINN, Estonia – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russian President Vladimir Putin is “preparing for more war” and that he wants a Europe in which Russia “can dictate what neighbors do.”
Stoltenberg made the remarks Friday in the Estonian capital where he was joined by EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to commemorate the Baltic country’s independence day.
Von der Leyen said Putin has failed to achieve any of his strategic goals and that Russia is becoming increasingly isolated, citing Thursday’s U.N. General Assembly vote approving a nonbinding resolution that calls for Russia to end hostilities in Ukraine and withdraw its forces.
Stoltenberg also said that he has invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to attend a NATO summit in Lithuania in July, expressing hope that the Ukrainian leader can attend in person.
NATO will hold a summit in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, Jul. 11-13.
BERLIN – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked Germany for its support in the first year of Russia’s invasion and said his country can “end Russian aggression this year.”
Zelenskyy spoke in a video message to a memorial event in Berlin Friday led by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attended by Germany’s top politicians and the Ukrainian ambassador.
Zelenskyy, who spoke through an interpreter, said that “now is the time when, with our courage and our weapons, we can restore peace and create a historically important safeguard against every aggression.”
Steinmeier led a minute of silence for the victims of the war. He said that “Germany is not at war, but this war concerns us … Russia’s war of aggression has wrecked the European security order.”
He pledged that Kyiv can rely on Germany.
The German parliament on Friday replaced one of the German flags atop its Reichstag building – which usually has three German flags and one European Union flag – with a Ukrainian flag. A Ukrainian flag also was raised outside the chancellery.
WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak says that “preventive barriers” are being put up along the country’s borders with Russia and Belarus.
Blaszczak posted on Twitter Friday that the barriers were elements of a “strategy of defense and deterrence.”
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s presidential office says that Russian strikes in the last 23 hours have killed at least three civilians and wounded 19 others.
The office said Friday that intense fighting continued to rage around Bakhmut, Vuhledar and Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region, where two civilians were killed and seven others wounded.
Russian forces targeted 18 towns or villages in the Donetsk region with air and artillery strikes over the last 24 hours, including the city of Kramatorsk that hosts Ukrainian military headquarters for the region.
The governor of the neighboring Luhansk region, Serhii Haidai, said that heavy fighting continued to rage around Kreminna, where the Russians briefly broke through Ukrainian defenses before being pushed back by the Ukrainian forces. Haidai said Russian forces were regrouping and bringing more personnel and weapons to the region after suffering heavy losses in unsuccessful attacks.
Russian attacks also targeted the town of Kupiansk and nearby villages in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where seven people were wounded At least one civilian was killed and three others wounded by the Russian attacks in the southern Kherson region. In the city of Kherson, Russian artillery struck the city hospital, but no one was injured.
MOSCOW – A senior Russian official says Moscow should capture as much Ukrainian territory as possible to secure a stable peace.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said Friday that if Russia fails to fully defeat Ukraine, an eventual peace agreement will be unstable and set the stage for hostilities to erupt again in the future.
Medvedev charged that the U.S. would call the shots in future peace talks, aiming to “weaken Russia as much as possible.”
He argued on his messaging app channel that Russia should “push threats … as far away as possible, even if it were the border of Poland.”
Medvedev, who served as Russian president in 2008-2012 when Putin needed to shift into the prime minister’s job because of term limits, has become one of the most hawkish members of Putin’s entourage.
LONDON – Britain has slapped more sanctions on firms that supply Russia’s battlefield equipment on the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.
The U.K. said Friday it will bar export to Russia of all items it has used in the war, including aircraft parts, radio equipment, and electronic components of weapons.
The list includes executives of several Russian banks and defense companies, as well as Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company, Rosatom.
Also sanctioned are five executives from Iran’s Qods Aviation Industry, which makes armed drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukraine’s infrastructure.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will lead a nationwide minute of silence for Ukraine Friday morning, gathering outside 10 Downing St. with Ukraine’s ambassador and a contingent of Ukrainian troops.
Sunak will also urge Western allies to deliver more weapons to give Ukraine a “decisive advantage on the battlefield” during a conference call of Group of Seven leaders.
KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has awarded top state honors to soldiers and other Ukrainians who helped save lives, including health and energy workers.
In Friday’s ceremony outside Kyiv’s St Sophia Cathedral marking the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Zelenskyy offered praise to soldiers and ordinary Ukrainians fighting back against Russian troops saying, “we are proud of you … let this pride course through trenches and squares.”
Some soldiers posthumously were awarded Ukraine’s highest honor, Hero of Ukraine, for “personal heroism and great labor achievements.” Family members of the fallen soldiers were on hand to accept the honor.
Also recognized were men and women running regional energy enterprises and health centers, including in Ukraine’s embattled east and south.
BERLIN – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Russian President Vladimir Putin has failed in his aims a year after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine.
Scholz said in a video message Friday marking the anniversary that Germany will continue to firmly stand by Ukraine. He said it’s not weapons deliveries that are prolonging the war, but Putin’s insistence on achieving his “imperialist aim.”
The German chancellor said the sooner Putin realizes that he won’t achieve this aim, the better the chance of ending the war soon, adding, “It is in Putin’s hand – he can end this war.”
Scholz aid Putin has failed because he counted on division but Ukraine is more united than ever and the European Union also stands united.
BRUSSELS — The NATO military alliance is affirming its commitment to stand by Ukraine and help it defeat Russia on the first anniversary of Moscow’s full-scale invasion.
“We remain determined to maintain coordinated international pressure on Russia,” ambassadors from the 30 alliance countries said in a statement Friday.
“Russia’s efforts to break the resolve of the brave people of Ukraine are failing. One year on, Ukrainians are fighting valiantly for freedom and independence. We stand with them.”
The envoys also reaffirmed their “iron-clad” intent to come to the defense of any member country should Russia consider broadening the war.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s defense chief has congratulated the country’s armed forces for rebuffing an enemy “that terrified the whole world,” referring to Russia’s failed attempt to launch a full-scale invasion that would take control of Ukraine.
“Our soldiers and the entire Ukrainian people took up a fight many in the world considered hopeless,” Oleksiy Reznikov said in an address posted on Facebook on Friday.
“You rebuffed the enemy’s army, which terrified the whole world. But it turned out to be powerless against Ukrainians, who are defending their home and their loved ones, fighting for their land,” he added.
Reznikov said Kyiv will fight until it takes back all territory captured or annexed by Russia, and until the danger from Moscow is “eliminated.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s army chief, Valery Zaluzhny, says his country’s resilience against Russia’s invasion “rests on our people.”
“Ordinary heroes among us. They are people who took up arms to protect their families, their homes and their state from the enemy’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression,” he wrote on Facebook Friday.
“They are people who are now, at this moment, beating back the occupier, holding the line, freezing in our cold but dear, native land, saving the lives of their compatriots, helping the army however they can,” he wrote.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The five Nordic prime ministers say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has caused unimaginable suffering, death, and destruction on a scale not seen on our continent since World War II.”
In a joint statement on the one-year anniversary of the invasion, the government leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden said that “Russia’s brutal aggression” was “the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades.”
The consequences of the war “are felt far and wide. Economic stability, energy and food security are seriously threatened with severe consequences for the least developed countries,” they said.
“Ukraine’s struggle is our struggle,” they said in the statement.
WASHINGTON — White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a CNN town hall on Thursday confirmed that Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volydymyr Zelenskyy discussed Ukraine’s request for fighter jets during the U.S. president’s recent visit to Kyiv.
Zelenskyy has asked the U.S. for F-16s, something that Biden has declined to supply.
Sullivan underscored that the administration has been focused on providing Ukraine with the weaponry they believe is most needed in the current and coming stages of the war.
He suggested, however, that the F-16 request could be revisited.
“They’re about to mount a significant counteroffense,” Sullivan noted, referring to expectations that Ukraine will mount a spring offensive. “From our perspective, F-16s are not the key capability for that offensive. It is the stuff that we are moving rapidly to the front lines now.”