The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who surrendered after holding out against punishing attacks on Mariupol’s steel factory hung in the balance Thursday, amid international fears that the Russians may take reprisals against the prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross gathered personal information from hundreds of the soldiers – name, date of birth, closest relative – and registered them as prisoners of war, as part of its role in ensuring the humane treatment of POWs under the Geneva Conventions.

US accuses Russia of weaponizing food in Ukraine war

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia on Thursday of weaponizing food and holding grain for millions of people around the world hostage to help accomplish what its invasion of Ukraine has not — “to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people.” He told a UN Security Council meeting called by the United States that the war has halted maritime trade in large areas of the Black Sea and made the region unsafe for navigation, trapping Ukrainian agricultural exports and jeopardizing global food supplies. Blinken said the meeting, which he chaired, was taking place “at a moment of unprecedented global hunger” fuelled by climate change and Covid-19 “and made even worse by conflict.”

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says military situation in Donbas region is like hell, cites what he calls senseless Russian bombardment (Reuters)

White House says Biden will sign Ukraine funding bill while traveling in Asia, reports Reuters

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says Donbas region has been completely destroyed (Reuters)

Chinese efforts to replenish reserves with Russian oil would not violate US sanctions, says White House (Reuters)

EU exploring using oligarchs’ frozen assets to rebuild Ukraine, says Von der Leyen, reports Reuters

Congress approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine Thursday, the latest tranche of US assistance under President Joe Biden’s promise of unwavering support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s invasion, reports AFP

The last time the two spoke by telephone was on February 11, when Washington was warning publicly of Russian plans to invade Ukraine and was hoping its warnings would discourage Moscow from moving ahead.

Russia’s Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley held a phone call, RIA news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Russian defence ministry.They discussed issues of “mutual interest”, including Ukraine, RIA said.

Top US, Russian generals speak for first time since Ukraine war began: Pentagon

Turkey’s leader opposes having Sweden and Finland join NATO, but the military alliance’s top official says he expects the issue to be resolved and the two Nordic nations to become members soon.

Twitter Inc will begin placing warning notices in front of some misleading content regarding the conflict in Ukraine and limit the spread of claims debunked by humanitarian groups or other credible sources, the social media company said on Thursday.

Russian shelling of the eastern Ukraine city of Severodonetsk left at least 12 people dead and another 40 injured, the region’s governor Sergei Gaiday said on Thursday, as Moscow’ army continued its slow push into Donbas

French President Emmanuel Macron has reiterated concerns about the risk of the war in Ukraine spreading to surrounding countries, as he hosted the president of Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbour.

Macron said on Thursday that “a spread of the conflict to neighbouring countries cannot be excluded” pointing to “recent incidents” in the Transnistria region of Moldova, where Russian troops are already stationed and where there have been explosions. (AP)

BRICS must live up to commitments to sovereign equality and territorial integrity: Jaishankar

BRICS ministers discussed the situation in Ukraine and supported talks between Russia and Ukraine. They expressed concern at the energy and food security implications of the conflict: India statement on Brics FMs meet

Explainer: What we know about Russia’s new laser weapons that can destroy drones

Biden says Sweden, Finland ‘meet every NATO requirement’

Biden leaves for Asia under Ukraine, North Korea nuclear shadows

President Joe Biden left Thursday for South Korea and Japan to cement US leadership in Asia at a time when the White House’s attention has been pulled back to Russia and Europe — and amid fears of a North Korean nuclear test during his trip.

Ukrainian troops surrendering at Mariupol registered as POWs

The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who surrendered after holding out against punishing attacks on Mariupol’s steel factory hung in the balance Thursday, amid international fears that the Russians may take reprisals against the prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross gathered personal information from hundreds of the soldiers – name, date of birth, closest relative – and registered them as prisoners of war, as part of its role in ensuring the humane treatment of POWs under the Geneva Conventions.

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