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Ukraine live briefing: U.S. attorney general makes surprise Ukraine visit, vows to pursue Russian war criminals


Law enforcement officials from the United States, the European Union, Britain and other jurisdictions met Friday in Lviv, including U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who traveled to the Ukrainian city unannounced.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly address, repeated his determination to hold Russia accountable for its alleged war crimes. Garland, meanwhile, expressed support for prosecuting Russian war criminals, saying that “the perpetrators of those crimes will not get away with them.”

In Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces appeared to be still in control of some parts of the city, despite claims by pro-Kremlin forces that they had encircled the town, The Washington Post reported.

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

Key developments

  • The United States signed an agreement designed to expand information-sharing regarding alleged Russian war crimes, involving Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Romania, Garland said. Meanwhile, American prosecutors are aiding their Ukrainian counterparts to build cases against war criminals. “Together, American and Ukrainian prosecutors have zeroed in on specific crimes committed by Russian forces, including attacks on civilian targets,” he said.
  • The United States announced a new $400 million military assistance package for Ukraine that includes more ammunition for artillery, armored vehicles and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.
  • President Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated support for Ukraine and their determination to “impose costs” on Russia, according to a White House readout of their meeting Friday. “At the one-year mark of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the leaders discussed ongoing efforts to provide security, humanitarian, economic, and political assistance to Ukraine,” it said.

Battleground updates

  • Ukrainian troops defending Bakhmut are running short on key supplies such as ammunition, The Post reported. But Ukrainian forces appeared to be holding their positions. Reinforcements were being deployed to the embattled town, even as some specialized units were pulling back to preplanned positions.
  • Ukrainian forces appear to be preparing for an orderly “fighting withdrawal” from parts of Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said in a report. “If the Ukrainian military command deems it necessary to withdraw from Bakhmut it will likely conduct a limited and controlled withdrawal from particularly difficult sectors of eastern Bakhmut judging from Ukrainian statements and reported Ukrainian actions,” it wrote.

Global impact

  • Ales Bialiatski, a human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was sentenced to 10 years in jail by a Belarusian court on Friday, continuing a crackdown on dissent that began after pro-democracy protests there in 2020, The Post reported. Bialiatski shared the prize in 2022 with Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties and the Russian human rights group Memorial.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov elicited both “cheers and groans” at a conference in New Delhi, where he claimed Russia was the victim, not the aggressor, of the conflict in Ukraine. “The war, which we are trying to stop, and which was launched against us, using the Ukrainian people,” he said, prompting derision from an audience that included academics, government officials and business executives. But Lavrov drew applause when he criticized Washington’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From our correspondents

When Ukraine goes dark: Although far away from the front lines, Ukrainian cities have been plunged into darkness after repeated Russian strikes against Ukraine’s infrastructure, Ruby Mellen, Zoeann Murphy, Kostiantyn Khudov, Yutao Chen and Kasia Strek report. Residents in these urban areas suffer similar challenges: what to eat, when to take the stairs and where to shelter from strikes.

In this 22-story, 114-unit building, power outages mean the parking garage is now a bomb shelter. Living on higher floors used to mean a better view. Now it means a longer climb. Although more than two-thirds of the building’s former dwellers fled earlier during the war, they have mostly returned.