Russia Widens War Into Western Ukraine, Presses into Kyiv
Over 2.5 million refugees have fled since the war began.
Putin’s War Expands
Russia’s military operations reached deeper into western Ukraine than ever before Friday, with multiple airstrikes hitting the cities of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk.
Yuriy Pohulyayko, governor of the Volyn region, said in a statement that Russian missile strikes on a military airfield in Lutsk killed four Ukrainians and wounded six others.
Missiles also struck another airfield in Ivano-Frankivsk. In neither case were civilian areas hit.
According to the state emergency response agency, attacks hit a shoe factory, a kindergarten, and an apartment building for the first time in Dnipro, a major industrial hub in the east and Ukraine’s fourth-largest city.
Kharkiv emergency services also said Russian forces destroyed a boarding school for children with psychological and nervous disabilities in the Izyum region. No casualties were reported by the morning.
The Russian military convoy that was stalled just north of Kyiv has broken up and dispersed into towns and forests surrounding the city, satellite images showed Thursday, amid fears that Russian forces are posturing for an assault on the capital.
Howitzers, long-range military weapons, were towed into positions to open fire and armored units were seen in towns near the Antonov Airport, according to Maxar Technologies, the company that produced the images.
War Crimes, Lies, and Refugees
In a statement Friday, the Ukrainian military claimed Russia conducted an airstrike on the Belarusian border town of Kopani from Ukrainian airspace in an attempt to provoke Belarus into retaliating against Ukraine.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Friday. In opening remarks, he expressed support for Russia’s invasion and claimed Ukraine was preparing to attack both the Donbas region and Belarus, but Ukraine denied both accusations.
On Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Office confirmed it received “credible reports” of cluster bombs having been used by Russian forces indiscriminately.
“Due to their wide area effects, the use of cluster munitions in populated areas is incompatible with the international humanitarian law principles governing the conduct of hostilities,” Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva. “We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.”
In a video in Kyiv, Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had reached a “strategic turning point” and that authorities were seeking to open 12 humanitarian corridors and provide food, medicine, and basic goods to people across the country.
He added that as many as 100,000 people had been brought to safety over the past two days.
The U.N. said Friday that over 2.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the war began just over two weeks ago.
See what others are saying: (ABC) (Axios) (Reuters)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.