According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Russian state and military leadership will one day have to answer for the war of aggression against Ukraine.
The central theme of the international conference "United for Justice" (United for Justice) in Lviv was "the responsibility of Russia and its leadership - personal responsibility - for aggression and terror against our country and our people," stressed Zelenskyj on Friday in his nightly conference video address. "And when they are held accountable, justice will be restored." The meeting was also attended by representatives of the EU and other European institutions.
Zelenskyj: Putin must receive his just punishment
Ukraine has been trying for months to form an international court modeled on the Nuremberg tribunal for Nazi war criminals with its supporters, before which leading Moscow representatives are to answer for the war against the neighboring country. The meeting in Lviv was apparently kept secret for security reasons until it ended on Friday evening.
The meeting included US Attorney General Merrick Garland and Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Wopke Hoekstra. Zelenskyy's address to the participants was only published after the conclusion of the conference. "The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and all his accomplices must receive fair and legal punishment," Zelenskyy demanded. "For all they have done, in the name and in memory of all whose lives they have taken and whose destinies they have destroyed."
However, the plans for this tribunal, which Kiev is aiming for, have so far lacked effective measures with which Moscow's political and military leadership could be brought to the dock.
US pledges new military aid to Ukraine
The US is providing new military aid worth US$400 million (around €377 million) to Ukraine to defend against Russia's war of aggression. The package primarily includes ammunition, for example for the Himars multiple rocket launchers and howitzers supplied by the United States, the US State Department said on Friday. Ammunition for Bradley armored personnel carriers is also included. According to the latest Pentagon figures, US military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the war has totaled more than $32 billion, not including the new package.
Ukraine: Private charity buys armored vehicles for army
In Ukraine, the fund of the well-known comedian and TV presenter Serhiy Prytula claims to have purchased over 100 used armored vehicles to support the army in the fight against Russia. "The first part - 24 vehicles - is already in Ukraine," it said in a statement distributed on Friday. The 41-year-old appeared in a video with the armored but unarmed tracked vehicles of eight different types in the background. These were purchased and processed in Great Britain, it said. According to its own statements, the fund had raised the equivalent of 5.8 million euros in one and a half days after a call for donations in November.
According to the NATO commander-in-chief in Europe, Russia has lost more than 2,000 large battle tanks so far. More than 200,000 Russian soldiers and over 1,800 officers were killed or wounded, General Christopher Cavoli said at an event in Hamburg City Hall on Friday. On average, the Russian army fires more than 23,000 artillery shells per day.
Kiev reports continued heavy fighting for Bakhmut
Meanwhile, Russian troops continued their attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Friday. "The enemy is still trying to encircle the city," the Ukrainian general staff said in its daily situation report in the evening. A series of attacks on various focal points around Bakhmut were repelled by the Ukrainian defenders. The Russian military has been trying to capture the city for weeks. The head of the Russian Wagner mercenary force deployed there, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Friday that his fighters had almost completely encircled the city. The information could not be independently verified.
The city, which once had 74,000 inhabitants, is now largely destroyed. According to estimates by the authorities, around 5,000 civilians still live in Bakhmut.
President of the European Parliament in Kyiv
The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Friday evening for a visit. "It's nice to be back in Ukraine," she tweeted in both English and Ukrainian. "With these brave people who inspired the world; with the heroes who won't capitulate; with those who sacrificed everything for our values; with Europeans whose home is in our European Union." She added a Ukrainian and an EU flag to her message. No information was initially available about Metsola's program in Kiev. The Maltese politician had already visited Ukraine in April last year.
What does Saturday bring?
Russian troops are likely to continue their attacks against the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Saturday.