Japan and Australia on Friday imposed new sanctions on Russian entities as punishment for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which the West says has stalled by fervent resistance but continues to take a devastating toll on civilians.

Western sources and Ukrainian officials said the Russian attack has ceased since its troops invaded on Feb. 24, further undermining Moscow’s expectations of a quick victory and the removal of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government.

A US Department of Defense official said no shelling had been reported against Ukraine in the past 24 hours and there was anecdotal evidence that morale in some Russian units was weak.

“Part of that, in our view, is a function of poor leadership, lack of information the troops are getting about their mission and objectives, and I think the disillusionment because they were as fiercely opposed as they have been,” the official said.

Despite setbacks on the battlefield and punitive sanctions by the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little leniency.

His government says it is counting on China to help Russia withstand the blows to its economy.

The United States, which this week announced $800 million in new military aid to Kiev, is concerned that Beijing “is considering helping Russia directly with military equipment for use in Ukraine,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said.

President Joe Biden, who described Putin as a “murderous dictator,” will make clear to Chinese President Xi Jinping in an appeal on Friday that Beijing “will bear responsibility for any actions it takes to support Russian aggression,” Blinken told reporters. †

The pair will speak at 9 a.m. Eastern time (1300 GMT), the White House said.

China has refused to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine or call it an invasion. It says it recognizes Ukraine’s sovereignty but that Russia has legitimate security concerns that need to be addressed.

An official from China’s foreign ministry this week met with the Russian ambassador to China to exchange views on counter-terrorism and security cooperation, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.


Tokyo and Canberra announced separate measures to impose sanctions on Russian individuals and organizations, including two oligarchs linked to Australia’s mining industry, the state arms exporter, the Treasury Department and the central bank.

The United Nations human rights agency in Geneva said it had registered 2,032 civilian casualties in Ukraine so far – 780 dead and 1,252 injured.

Some 3.2 million citizens have now fled to neighboring countries, according to the United Nations.
A fourth consecutive day of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators took place via video link on Thursday, but the Kremlin said no agreement had yet been reached.

Kiev and its western allies say Russia started the war to subjugate a neighbor Putin calls an artificial state. Moscow says it is conducting a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine.


Rescue workers in Mariupol, a southern port city, excavated survivors from the rubble of a theater that officials say was hit by an air raid on Wednesday as civilians there sought shelter from bombing. Russia denies hitting the theater.

Mariupol has endured the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the war, with hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in basements without food, water or power. City officials say they are still unable to estimate the number of victims from the theater.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said the claim that Russia had bombed the theater was a lie.

Kiev’s northeastern and northwestern suburbs have suffered heavy damage, but the capital itself has held out, under curfew and subject to deadly rocket attacks at night.

A building in the Darnytsky district of Kiev was badly damaged on Thursday. While residents were scraping the glass, a man knelt crying by the body of a woman covered in a bloodied sheet.

Viacheslav Chaus, governor of the region around the northern city of Chernihiv, said on Thursday 53 civilians had been killed there in the past 24 hours. The toll could not be independently verified.

One of those killed in Chernihiv was an American citizen, Jimmy Hill, who was shot while waiting in a line, his family said.

“His body was found on the street,” his sister wrote on Facebook.

This post Russian sanctions against Ukraine are increasing; US President Joe Biden speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping

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