Ukraine live briefing: U.N. report details killing of POWs; European allies promise more artillery

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, center, visits the front line in Kherson on Thursday. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
6 min

U.N. human rights monitors have found evidence of dozens of summary killings of Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war, as well as other potential war crimes, they told reporters on Friday. At a briefing in Kyiv, Matilda Bogner, the head of the U.N. monitoring mission, told reporters that while ill-treatment took place on both sides, the group’s research had found it was far more common against Ukrainians than against Russians.

Bogner also said investigators had documented 133 victims of conflict-related sexual violence, with more than 4 out of 5 cases attributable to Russian perpetrators.

European Union leaders promised to jointly deliver 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine in the next year. They said at a leaders’ summit that they would also provide missiles upon Kyiv’s request, without specifying what type, adding that E.U. member states have made available about $73 billion to Ukraine since the war began. Member state Slovakia, meanwhile, has delivered four of the 13 MiG-29 fighter jets it has pledged to Ukraine, its defense minister said.

Here’s the latest on the war and its impact across the globe.

Key developments

  • President Biden is expected to discuss defense spending and the war in Ukraine with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during meetings Friday in Ottawa, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. Canada, a NATO member, has committed around $730 million in military assistance to Ukraine, its government says.
  • Russia will not partake in “Earth Hour” this year, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. The annual climate event calls on cities to switch off nonessential lights for one hour on Saturday evening and encourages people to take positive climate steps. It’s organized by the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund, which Moscow this month designated a “foreign agent.” The Kremlin did not provide any justification for the move, Reuters reported, but critics say the “foreign agent” designation is an attempt to crush dissent.
  • Ukraine’s victory over Russia could occur “this year,” Zelensky told the European Council by video link Thursday, provided there are “no delays or stagnation” in defense cooperation. He added that delays in the supply of weapons including longer-range missiles were hampering Ukrainian troops on the battlefield.
  • The International Criminal Court signed an agreement to establish a country office in Ukraine, a week after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on charges of sending Ukrainian children to Russia. Zelensky said the move would allow “international justice to be even more active” in investigating Russia on Ukrainian soil. Russia, like the United States, does not accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Global impact

  • Nordic countries announced that they plan a joint air defense that would counter the rising threat from Russia. Air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark signed a letter of intent to form the united air defense, which would operate under NATO, last week at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. “Our combined fleet can be compared to a large European country,” commander of the Danish air force, Major General Jan Dam, told Reuters.
  • The World Athletic Council reinstated the Russian athletic federation after a seven-year suspension due to doping violations, but it said Friday that Russian athletes are still excluded from competition due to the invasion of Ukraine. The decision to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes as well as support personnel and officials from competitive events was made in March 2022.
  • The E.U. wants to help return some 16,200 Ukrainian children who were “abducted” to Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday, adding that about 300 children have been returned so far. The E.U. hopes to “pull together international pressure to take all possible measures to establish the whereabouts of these children,” she added. The United States has also accused Russia of illegally sending hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia and forcibly separating children from their families.
  • Arresting Putin on a visit abroad would amount to declaring a “war against Russia,” Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said Thursday, according to state news agency Tass. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this week that European countries should detain Putin and hand him over to the ICC if he visits. Germany’s federal minister of justice said it would do so, while Hungary would not, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said Thursday.

Battleground updates

  • Spain will deliver six German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine next week, its defense minister, Margarita Robles, said. Madrid has promised the delivery of 10 such tanks in total. Next week, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will also make a state visit to China, where he says he will discuss China’s position “for peace in Ukraine, and transmit the message that the Ukrainians will be the ones who establish the conditions for peace.” Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia earlier this week and has been touting a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine that has been criticized for lack of detail on key issues.
  • Russia is sending tanks from the 1940s to the front lines, signaling a likely shortage of armor for troops fighting in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. According to photographs obtained by the Georgia-based Conflict Intelligence Team, Stalin-era T-54 and T-55 tanks were spotted aboard a train heading west, though the open-source researchers could not confirm they would be sent for use in combat.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists warned Ukrainian officials not to limit press access to front lines. In a statement, the New York-based nonprofit said recent regulations issued by Ukrainian operational commands preventing media from accessing “red zones,” deemed the most dangerous battlefronts, could “stifle journalists’ ability to do their jobs” and hinder crucial wartime reporting.

From our correspondents

Between Avdiivka and Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces fight Russia on tough terrain: For Ukrainian soldiers outside the town of Niu-York, in the eastern Donetsk region, shelling and destruction have been a part of life since 2014 when Russian forces and their separatist proxies began seizing territory in the broader Donbas region. Now, they are caught between two raging battles: one to the northeast in Bakhmut and another to the southwest in Avdiivka, report The Post’s Alex Horton and Anastacia Galouchka.

A breakout in those areas, leaders have said, would strangle supply routes into the area and risk units there becoming encircled. In this grinding war, with advances made in feet, not miles, the joining of Russian troops from north and south into a unified westward-pushing line of attack would be a major triumph and would further Putin’s goal of seizing all of the Donetsk region, as well as three others: Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.