EU agrees to ban coal imports from Russia, official says

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  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will meet with  European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell in Kyiv.
  • The UN General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia from its Human Rights Council, citing concerns over human rights abuses in Ukraine.
  • Russia has responded by saying the move is illegal and politically motivated.
  • The United States Congress votes to ban Russian oil imports and suspend Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status.
  • The European Union agrees to ban coal imports from Russia, an official says.
  • The Kremlin acknowledges suffering “significant” troop losses in Ukraine.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

Russia’s suspension from UN rights body sends strong signal: Rights groups

The vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council has strengthened the forum and sent a powerful message that violators cannot be members, rights organisations say.

“This sends a powerful message that the Human Rights Council is no place for states that are perpetrating massive human rights violations, including acts that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said Phil Lynch, executive director of the International Service for Human Rights.

That was echoed by Human Rights Watch, which said in a statement that the UN General Assembly “sent a crystal-clear message to Russia’s leadership that a government whose military is routinely committing horrific rights violations has no business” on the council.

New Zealand to release more barrels of crude, diesel

The government of New Zealand has announced plans to release 184,000 barrels of crude and close to 299,000 barrels of diesel to the International Energy Agency emergency stock release.

“There has been a great deal of volatility in global oil markets since the invasion [of Ukraine],” the country’s minister of energy and resources, Megan Woods, said in a statement.

“This further action, coupled with the United States’ move to release 180 million barrels of oil over the next six months, will help to provide some certainty to the market.”

Situation in second Ukraine town ‘more dreadful’ than Bucha: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that the situation in the town of Borodyanka was “significantly more dreadful” than in nearby Bucha, where Russian forces’ suspected killings of civilians have been broadly condemned.

“The work to clear the rubble in Borodyanka has begun … It’s significantly more dreadful there. Even more victims from the Russian occupiers,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging service.

The town is about 25km (15 miles) from Bucha.

Canada boosts financial aid to Ukraine in new budget

Canada has increased financial support for Ukraine as the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled its new federal budget.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the budget earmarked an additional $800m in loans through the International Monetary Fund, as well as $400m in military aid.

“The brave people of Ukraine are fighting our fight—a fight for democracy—it is in our urgent national interest to ensure that they have the missiles and the money they need to win,” Freeland tweeted.

Ukrainian villagers say Russian forces used them as ‘shields’

In the village of Obukhovychi, residents say Russian forces dug in around their houses, using them as “shields” to discourage counterattacks by Ukrainian armed forces.

“They dug the trenches to put the vehicles in and used us as a shield,” said 35-year-old Yulia Piankova.

“It’s bad that they didn’t go into the field to fight, but they came to where they knew that many people were,” she said.

More than 100 attacks on healthcare in Ukraine: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has confirmed more than 100 attacks on healthcare facilities and other services in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.

“As of now, WHO has verified 103 incidents of attacks on health care, with 73 people killed and 51 injured, including health workers and patients,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news conference.

Of the confirmed attacks, 89 had impacted health facilities and most of the rest hit transport services, including ambulances.

“We are outraged that attacks on health care are continuing,” the WHO chief said, adding they constituted “a violation of international humanitarian law”.

Zelenskyy calls for more sanctions and supplies

Ukraine’s president has called for nations to impose “more courageous sanctions” against Russia in order to end the war.

“If sanctions had really worked at 100 percent, then it wouldn’t have been necessary to explain their importance in such a detailed and meticulous way,” Zelenskyy said during his daily address.

“That’s why I underline once again that we need more sanctions, more courageous sanctions,” he said.

Men riding bicycle past destruction
Men ride bicycles by a destroyed apartment building in Borodyanka, Ukraine [Vadim Ghirda/AP]

Germany to give $2.2bn to federal states to aid Ukraine refugees

The German government will provide $2.2bn to federal states to cover the cost of caring for and integrating Ukrainian refugees in the country, Scholz has said.

“The agreement is a good basis for our country to stand together in the long-term,” Scholz said after a meeting with the premiers of Germany’s 16 states.

Germany has registered approximately 307,000 refugees from Ukraine, the interior ministry said.

Germany will need to use transition period to implement coal ban: Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said Germany will need to use the full transition period to implement a ban on Russian coal under EU sanctions.

The EU’s ambassadors agreed on a fifth sanctions package on Russia, including a coal embargo, with a 120-day wind-down period to give member states time to find alternative suppliers.

Pink Floyd members reunite to record song for Ukraine

British rock band Pink Floyd will release a new song on Friday to raise money for humanitarian relief in Ukraine, featuring the vocals of a Ukrainian singer who quit an international tour to fight for his country and was wounded.

The single “Hey Hey, Rise Up” – Pink Floyd’s first original new music in almost 30 years – was recorded last week and highlights singing by Andriy Khlyvnyuk from Ukrainian band Boombox, which was taken from an Instagram post.

“Then I saw this incredible video on Instagram, where he stands in a square in Kyiv with this beautiful gold-domed church and sings in the silence of a city with no traffic or background noise because of the war,” guitarist David Gilmour said on Pink Floyd’s website.

“It was a powerful moment that made me want to put it to music.”

Number of Ukrainians arriving at Mexico-US border doubles

The number of Ukrainians arriving at the US-Mexico border to seek asylum in the US has more than doubled in less than a week, officials have said.

Lying on plastic mattresses, hundreds of Ukrainians — including families — waited in a crowded shelter run by the local government in the Mexican border city of Tijuana this week.

Enrique Lucero, director of Tijuana’s immigration services, said about 2,829 Ukrainians were waiting, more than double the 1,200 counted last Friday. Nearly two-thirds of them were in shelters, with the rest in hotels and churches, he said.

See more images from the US-Mexico border here.

Ukrainians at US-Mexico border
Hundreds of Ukrainians have fled to Mexico amid the Russian invasion of their homeland in an effort to reach the US [Quetzalli Nicte-ha/Reuters]

UN rights council suspension shows Russia as ‘international pariah’: Biden

US President Joe Biden has welcomed the UN vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council as a “meaningful” step that shows Moscow has become an “international pariah”.

“Russia has no place on the Human Rights Council,” Biden said in a statement.

“After today’s historic vote, Russia will not be able to participate in the Council’s work or spread its disinformation there as the Council’s Commission of Inquiry investigates Russia’s violations and abuses of human rights in Ukraine.”

Russia acknowledges ‘significant’ troops losses in Ukraine

Russia has appeared to give the most damning assessment so far of its invasion, describing the “tragedy” of mounting troop losses and the economic hit it has suffered since the war began in late February.

“We have significant losses of troops,” Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Britain’s Sky News.

“It’s a huge tragedy for us,” he said.

EU approves embargo on Russian coal, official says

The European Union has said it approved an embargo on Russian coal as well as the closing of the bloc’s ports to Russian vessels.

An official from the French presidency of the European Council said the moves spearhead a “very substantial” fifth round of sanctions against Moscow, which will also include a ban on high-tech exports.

The coal ban should cost Russia $4.4bn a year, the EU’s executive commission said.

US Congress votes to suspend Russia trade status, enact oil ban

The US Congress has voted overwhelmingly to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban imports of Russian oil.

“We in Congress must do all we can to end the slaughter of innocent civilians, total destruction of cities, and assault on democracy in Ukraine,” said Representative Richard Neal.

The measures now go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

Read more here.

US plans to starve Russia’s ‘war machine’: Official

The United States is ramping up sanctions against Russia to deprive its “war machine” of money, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo has said, but added that curbing Moscow’s main source of funding – exports – will take time.

“What this means is that Russia will be deprived of the capital it needs to build up its economy, but also to invest in its war machine,” Adeyemo said in an interview with the Reuters news agency.

“Because of our ability to produce energy at home, we were able to ban the Russian import of oil to America rather quickly,” he said. “It’s going to take them more time but what they’re doing is they’re reducing their dependence over time.”

UN aid chief ‘not optimistic’ about Ukraine ceasefire

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, has said he is not optimistic about securing a ceasefire to halt the fighting in Ukraine following high-level talks in Moscow and Kyiv.

“I think it’s not going to be easy because the two sides, as I know now … have very little trust in each other,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press news agency.

“I’m not optimistic,” he added later.

Russian Nobel laureate Muratov attacked with red paint

The Russian co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Dmitry Muratov, has said that he was attacked on a train with red paint, in an apparent protest at his newspaper’s coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“They poured oil paint with acetone all over the compartment. Eyes burning badly,” Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta investigative newspaper quoted him as saying.

Pictures posted by the newspaper on the Telegram messaging app showed Muratov with red paint on his head and clothes and around his sleeping compartment on a Moscow-Samara train.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, April 7 here.

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