GENEVA —The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Putin is a war criminal,” Carla Del Ponte told Swiss newspaper Le Temps in an interview published Saturday.
In interviews given to Swiss media to mark the release of her latest book, the Swiss lawyer who oversaw ICC war crimes investigations in Rwanda, Syria and the former Yugoslavia, said there were clear war crimes being committed in Ukraine.
She said she was particularly shocked by the use of mass graves, which recalls the worst of the wars in former Yugoslavia.
“I hoped never to see mass graves again,” she told the newspaper Blick. “These dead people have loved ones who don’t even know what’s become of them. That is unacceptable.”
Other war crimes she identified in Ukraine included attacks on civilians, the destruction of civilian buildings and even that of entire towns.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Zelenskyy says the mines Russia has planted are creating a ‘complete disaster’
— What’s next for Europe’s natural gas amid the war?
— Russia aims Ukraine disinformation at Spanish speakers
— Ukraine volunteer fighters from near and far: a photo gallery
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
BERLIN — The International Committee of the Red Cross says a team of nine staffers is trying to get to the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol again after it had to abandon an earlier attempt when conditions on the ground made it impossible to proceed.
The humanitarian group said the team with three vehicles was on the way to help facilitate the safe passage of civilians on Saturday after a failed attempt Friday.
The group said in a statement late Friday it would try to accompany a convoy of civilians out from Mariupol to another city in Ukraine.
It said that, “our presence will put a humanitarian marker on this planned movement of people, giving the convoy additional protection and reminding all sides of the civilian, humanitarian nature of the operation.”
Mariupol, which was surrounded by Russian forces a month ago, has been the scene of some of the war’s worst attacks, including on a maternity hospital and a theater sheltering civilians. Around 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city, down from a prewar population of 430,000, and facing dire shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine.
City officials said some 2,000 made it out of Mariupol on Friday, some on buses and some in their own vehicles.
LVIV, Ukraine — At least 33 people have been killed and 34 injured in a Russian rocket strike on the regional government building in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv. Ukrainian officials gave the latest death toll in a statement Saturday, updating the numbers of the deadly strike that hit Mykolaiv on Tuesday.
Rescuers sent by the State Emergency Service have been searching the wreckage for survivors since Russian forces struck the building, which housed the office of regional governor Vitaliy Kim. The governor, who was not on the premises at the time of the attack, later posted social media images showing a gaping hole in the nine-story structure.
The confirmed death toll has risen steadily as the search and rescue operation continues.
Mykolaiv, a strategically important city en route to Ukraine’s largest port of Odesa, has withstood weeks of shelling by the Russian forces.
MOSCOW — Russia’s top space official says the future of the International Space Station hangs in the balance after the United States, the European Union, and Canadian space agencies missed a deadline to meet Russian demands for the lifting of sanctions on Russian enterprises and hardware.
The head of Russia’s Roscosmos state agency told reporters on Saturday morning that the agency was preparing a report on the prospects of international cooperation at the station, to be presented to federal authorities “after Roscosmos has completed its analysis.”
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin implied on Russian state TV that the Western sanctions, some of which predate Russia’s military action in Ukraine, could disrupt the operation of Russian spacecraft servicing the ISS.
He stressed that the Western partners need the ISS and “cannot manage without Russia, because no one but us can deliver fuel to the station.”
Rogozin added that “only the engines of our cargo craft are able to correct the ISS’s orbit, keeping it safe from space debris.”
Later on Saturday, Rogozin wrote on his Telegram channel that he received responses from his Western counterparts vowing to promote “further cooperation on the ISS and its operations.”
He reiterated his view that “the restoration of normal relations between partners in the ISS and other joint (space) projects is possible only with the complete and unconditional lifting” of sanctions, which he referred to as illegal.
Responding to Western sanctions on Telegram last month, Rogozin warned at the time that without Russia’s help, the ISS could “fall down into the sea or onto land,” and claimed that the crash site was unlikely to be in Russia.
Space is one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Moscow and Western nations. U.S.-Russian negotiations on the resumption of joint flights to the ISS were underway when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine last month, prompting unprecedented sanctions on Russian state-linked entities.
ISTANBUL – Turkey has offered to help evacuate civilians from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol by ship. The Turkish defense minister said Saturday that “we can provide ship support for the evacuation of civilians and injured Turkish and other countries’ citizens in Mariupol from the sea.”
State-run Anadolu Agency reported that Hulusi Akar said Turkey was coordinating possible evacuations with the authorities of the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, has seen some of the worst suffering of the war. The International Committee for the Red Cross is attempting to remove some of the 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that some 30 Turkish nationals were still in the city.
VALLETTA, Malta — Pope Francis says he is studying a possible visit to Kyiv and he blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching a “savage” war, as he arrived in Malta and delivered his most pointed and personalized denunciation yet of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Francis didn’t cite Putin by name, but the reference was clear when he said that “some potentate” had unleashed the threat of nuclear war on the world in an “infantile and destructive aggression” under the guise of “anachronist claims of nationalistic interests.”
Speaking to Maltese authorities Saturday, Francis said: “We had thought that invasions of other countries, savage street fighting and atomic threats were grim memories of a distant past.” Francis has to date avoided referring to Russia or Putin by name. But Saturday’s personalization of the powerful figure responsible marked a new level of outrage for the pope.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government has launched a campaign urging people to turn down their central warming and take showers to save energy amid spiraling energy costs and reduce the country’s dependence on Russian imports.
The government took the lead, announcing Saturday that it will turn down the temperature in 200 of its office blocks from 21 to 19 degrees Celsius (70-66 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter and use less air conditioning in the summer.
Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten says that saving energy “is good for your wallet, for the climate and it helps us to become less dependent on gas from Russia.”
The government also is setting aside 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) to help fund moves by home owners, social housing corporations and municipalities to improve insulation of houses in coming years.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials say their forces have recaptured the city of Brovary, 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the capital Kyiv.
Brovary’s mayor said during a televised address on Friday evening that “Russian occupants have now left practically all of the Brovary district.” He added that the Ukrainian forces would begin working to clear the region of remaining Russian soldiers there as well as “military hardware, and possibly from mines.”
The mayor said that many Brovary residents had already returned to the city, and that shops and businesses were reopening.
Earlier on Friday, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said that satellite towns northwest of Kyiv were being targeted after Ukrainian fighters pushed back Russian troops, and that fighting had also taken place in Brovary.
SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria has expelled a Russian diplomat over accusations of spying who could not be charged because of his diplomatic immunity.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement late Friday that it declared a Russian diplomat “persona non grata” and gave him 72 hours to leave the country after it was informed by the prosecutor’s office that the diplomat had been involved in “unregulated intelligence activities.”
The expulsion comes as relations between Russia and NATO member Bulgaria, once Moscow’s closest ally in the now defunct Warsaw pact, have cooled down following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last month alone, Bulgaria expelled 12 Russian diplomats, accused Russia’s ambassador to Sofia of “undiplomatic, sharp and rude” comments made in public, and called back its ambassador from Moscow for consultations.
BEIJING — A Chinese diplomat has a suggestion for resolving the Ukraine conflict: U.S. President Joe Biden should call Russian President Vladimir Putin and promise there will be no further NATO expansion, no deployment of strategic weapons in Ukraine and that the country will remain neutral.
“Then maybe the issue will get sorted,” director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Affairs Wang Lutong told reporters in Beijing on Saturday.
“What is the purpose of the Americans? Are they going to see a cease fire in Ukraine or they would like to weaken Russia? Or some people are talking about a change in the government,” Wang said, in an apparent reference to Biden’s remark that Putin cannot be allowed to remain in office.
“If they are intent about a cease fire, I think this issue could be sorted very easily,” Wang said. His remarks followed talks between Chinese and EU leaders at which Beijing reiterated its opposition to punishing economic sanctions against Russia.
Beijing has refused to criticize the Russian invasion, or even refer to it as such, opposes sanctions and rebroadcasts Russian misinformation about the conflict and unfounded claims such as that the U.S. is operating bioweapons laboratories in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declined to comment on whether he ordered an attack on a Russian fuel depot.
In an interview with FOX News, Zelenskyy said he does not discuss any orders he issues as commander in chief.
Earlier, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security council denied allegations from Moscow that two Ukrainian helicopter gunships had struck the facility in the city of Belgorod north of the border at around dawn Friday.
The regional governor in Belgorod said two workers at the depot were injured, but Russian media cited a statement from state oil company Rosneft that denied anyone was hurt.
But if Moscow’s claim is confirmed, it would be the war’s first known attack in which Ukrainian aircraft penetrated Russian airspace.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department says it is providing an additional $300 million in military equipment to Ukrainian forces defending the country from Russian troops.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement Friday evening that the gear in the new package includes laser-guided rocket systems, unmanned aircraft, armored vehicles, night vision devices and ammunition. Also included are medical supplies, field equipment and spare parts.
Kirby said the new package “represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide new capabilities” to Ukraine, rather than delivering equipment drawn from U.S. military stockpiles.
The U.S. has provided more than $1.6 billion in security assistance since Russia’s invasion, Kirby said.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces were leaving behind “a complete disaster” as they retreat from the north, including towns just outside Kyiv, and he warned residents to beware of more Russian shelling and of land mines.
“They are mining the whole territory, they are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,” he said in his nighttime video address to the nation late Friday.
He urged residents to wait to resume their normal lives until they are assured that the mines have been cleared and the danger of shelling has passed.
Zelenskyy warned of difficult battles ahead as the Russians redeploy troops in eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky said he spoke Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone and with the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, during her visit to Kyiv.
“Europe doesn’t have the right to be silent about what is happening in our Mariupol,” he said. “The whole world should respond to this humanitarian catastrophe.”
Zelenskyy said 3,071 people were able to leave Mariupol on Friday.