THE LATEST: Japan expels Russian diplomats and officials

The latest events of the war in Ukraine:

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TOKYO — Japan expelled eight Russian diplomats and trade officials and announced it would gradually reduce Russian coal and oil imports.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that Moscow must be held accountable for ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine, stressing the world was at a ‘critical juncture’ in its attempts to get the Russian government to end its invasion from Ukraine.

He added that Japan would also ban imports of wood, vodka and other Russian products, as well as new Japanese investments in Russia. It will also tighten sanctions against Russian banks and freeze the assets of some 400 other individuals or groups.

Reducing Japan’s imports of Russian fossil fuels is a tough decision for the resource-poor country, and could mean a shift in its energy policy towards more renewable sources and nuclear power. Russia accounts for 11% of Japan’s coal imports.

Hours earlier, Japan’s foreign minister announced he would expel eight Russian diplomats and trade officials, a move similar to those taken by European countries.

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MADRID — Spain’s defense minister predicts a “long and cruel” war in Ukraine.

Margarita Robles said on Friday that the alleged killing and torture of civilians in the town of Bucha was just “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of atrocities committed since Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Evidence of violence against civilians emerged as Russian forces withdrew from the town on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Robles told broadcaster Antena 3 that the planned offensive in the country’s eastern Donbass region – where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government since 2014 – is likely to bring further horrors.

He predicted that Russian forces would inflict more “cruelty” on people in the area.

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia has donated its Soviet-era S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, the prime minister announced on Friday.

Eduard Heger made the announcement during a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv with senior European Union officials ahead of a meeting scheduled for Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy mentioned the S-300s by name when he addressed U.S. lawmakers via video last month, calling for defense systems that would allow Ukraine to “close the skies” to fighter jets and Russian missiles.

Bulgaria, Slovakia and Greece, all NATO members, have S-300s, which can launch missiles hundreds of kilometers (miles) and shoot down cruise missiles and warplanes.

Slovakia had said it was ready to give up its S-300s provided it had a suitable replacement.

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BRUSSELS – The European Union ambassador to Ukraine will return to Kyiv, a move that shows the improving security situation and the commitment of the 27-nation bloc to the beleaguered country.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made the announcement on Friday during a visit to the Ukrainian capital where, together with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Borrell said the diplomat’s return will help ensure that the EU and the Ukrainian government work more directly and closely together.

Russian forces tried to advance on the city in the days after the start of the invasion on February 24, but despite heavy damage and heavy casualties, kyiv resisted the attacks and the government was able to continue working from there.

Borrell described it as “impressive” that the executive functioned fully under these “extremely difficult circumstances”.

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ROME — Prices of foodstuffs such as grains and vegetable oils hit their highest level last month due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the “massive supply disruptions” it is causing, according to the United Nations.

The UN’s food and agriculture agency, FAO, said its food price index, which tracks monthly changes in the international price of a basket of basic commodities, averaged 159 .3 points over the past month, or 12.6% more than in February.

This month’s data was already the highest since the tool’s inception in 1990.

According to the FAO, the war in Ukraine is largely responsible for the 17.1% increase in cereals, including wheat and others such as oats, barley and corn. Russia and Ukraine together are responsible for around 30% of world wheat exports and 20% of corn.

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LONDON — Britain includes two daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin on its list of those sanctioned following similar moves by the United States and the European Union.

The government on Friday announced an asset freeze and visa veto for Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, the daughters of the Russian president, as well as Yekaterina Vinokourova, the daughter of the country’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

Britain said it had sanctioned more than 1,200 Russian citizens and businesses since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, including 76 oligarchs and 16 banks.

In total, Western countries have frozen assets worth 275 billion pounds ($360 billion), equivalent to 60% of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, he added.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said around 30 people were killed and around 100 injured after a rocket attack on Kramatorsk railway station in the east of the country.

In social media posts, Zelenskyy said thousands of people were at the station at the time of the attack. The head of Ukraine’s railway service, Olexander Kamyshin, made similar comments.

Kramatorsk is a city located in part of the Donetsk region controlled by the Ukrainian government. The station was used for the evacuation of the civilian population.

Pro-Russian separatists in the region blamed government forces for the incident.

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kyiv, Ukraine — El gobernador de la región ucraniana de Sumy, en la frontera con Rusia, local population that avoids circular por forest tracks, drive along the road and acercarse a destroyed military equipment tras la retirada de las tropas rusas of the region.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy warned via the Telegram messaging app on Friday that residents remain under threat from mines and other munitions left behind by the Russians.

In a message apparently directed to locals, Zhyvytskyy said any explosions heard in the area in the short term were likely to be the work of rescuers and demining specialists defusing munitions and other explosives.

Earlier in the week, he said Russia no longer controls any towns in the region.

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Kyiv, Ukraine – A projectile attack left more than 30 people dead and 100 injured at a train station used to evacuate civilians in eastern Ukraine, authorities said.

The head of Ukraine’s railway service, Olexander Kamyshin, said on the Telegram messaging app that the incident happened in Kramatorsk, a city in the Donetsk region, on Friday.

According to the governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, at the time of the attack on the station, thousands of people were preparing to leave for safer areas while Russia is concentrating its troops in eastern Ukraine.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union is imposing sanctions on the two eldest daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a new package of measures against Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine, according to two EU officials.

Brussels has included Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova in its updated list of people facing an asset freeze and travel visa denial. The two bloc leaders, from different member countries, spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the list was not yet public.

This decision follows a similar decision adopted by the United States two days earlier.

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BRUSSELS — Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and two senior European Union officials are in Kyiv to try to bolster the bloc’s support for war-torn Ukraine.

Heger explained in a tweet on Friday that he, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will present trade and humanitarian aid proposals to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government. .

According to the Slovak politician, the measures include “an offer to transport grain, including wheat”. Ukraine is one of the world’s leading wheat exporters and the Russian war is causing shortages, especially in the Middle East. os in front of Russian troops

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LONDON — At least some of the Russian forces that have withdrawn from northern Ukraine will move to Donbass, a region to the east, to continue the fighting, the British Ministry of Defense has announced.

In their daily briefing, British officials said many of these units will need significant resupply before they can deploy east, adding that any massive redeployment from the north could take at least a week.

On the other hand, Russian shelling of southern and eastern cities continued, he added, noting that troops from Moscow had advanced further south to the strategically important town of Izum, which remains under his control.

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MOSCOW – Russia suffered “significant troop losses” during its military operation in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Yes, we have suffered major troop losses and this is a great tragedy for us,” Peskov said.

During an exclusive interview with British television Sky on Thursday, the spokesperson hinted that the operation could end “in the near future”. Russian forces are “doing everything possible to put an end to this operation”, he said.

“And we hope that in the next few days, in the near future, this operation will achieve its goals or end with negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations.”

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