Ukraine War: G7 Calls on Russia to Stop Military Operations

Live Updates

Today marks one month of Russia's invasion into Ukraine.

  • President Joe Biden met with the G7, NATO leaders and European Council Thursday in Brussels.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged NATO for unlimited military support, including 500 tanks. Zelensky also called on people around the world to mark one month of Russia's invasion by taking to the streets to protest Putin's actions.
  • The U.N. reports at least 1,000 civilians, including 90 children, have been killed in Ukraine, warning the actual number is "considerably higher."
  • Ukraine is increasing pressure on Russian forces, with U.K. intelligence saying there is chance the invading army outside Kyiv will be encircled.
Brussels
From left, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and France's President Emmanuel Macron pose for a G7 leaders' group photo during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium on March 24. Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool

G7 Calls on Russia to Stop Military Operations

G7 leaders met in Brussels Thursday to "further strengthen" cooperation and called on Russia to immediately suspend military operations in Ukraine.

"We remain appalled by and condemn the devastating attacks on the Ukrainian population and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools," a joint statement from G7 leaders reads.

"The Russian leadership is obligated to immediately comply with the order of the International Court of Justice to suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine, without any further delay."

The group continues coordinating efforts to gather evidence of potential war crimes committed in Ukraine and vowed to continue imposing "severe consequences" on Russia. G7 leaders also announced a restriction on the Russian Central Bank's use of gold in transactions.

Concerns were raised regarding the safety and security of Ukraine's nuclear sites. Leaders warn that Russia's military activity poses "extreme risks" for the population and environment "with the potential for catastrophic result." The statement further warns Russia against the use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.

G7 leaders shared gratitude to those helping the more than 3.6 million refugees who have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries over the past month. Leaders pledged to step up humanitarian support and voiced concern of "escalating and reinforced repression" against Russian people.

"We express our support to those Russian and Belarusian citizens standing up against the unjustified war of aggression against their close neighbor Ukraine," the statement says. "The world sees them. The people of Russia must know that we hold no grievances against them."

Discussions also included ways to reduce reliance on Russian energy, address global food insecurity concerns and cyberattacks. Read the full statement here.

G7
From left, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz befor the G7 leaders' group photo during a NATO summit in Brussels on March 24. Henry Nicholls/Pool via AP

Pentagon Says Defensive Materials Are 'Now Flowing' in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Thursday.

Austin and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov discussed continued security assistance, including the $1 billion in lethal defensive assistance President Biden recently announced.

Materials from that announcement "are now flowing into the region," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

"Secretary Austin underscored the continued resolve of the United States to support Ukraine's military as they defend their country against Russia's unprovoked invasion, and he applauded the skill and bravery with which Ukrainian forces are using these weapons and systems," the statement said.

10 Million Displaced in First Month of Russia's Invasion

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has continued for four straight weeks, in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called "a month of heroic resistance, a month of the darkest suffering."

"A month of unpunished destruction of the peaceful state, and with it, the whole architecture of global security," he said. "All this is before the eyes of the whole world."

The United Nations is continuing to gather updated casualty numbers and infrastructure damage reports. As of Thursday, the U.N. reports the following figures from the first month of Russia's invasion.

  • 10 million people displaced.
  • More than 3.6 million refugees have entered neighboring countries, mostly women and children.
  • More than 1,000 civilians killed, including 90 children. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights warns the number is "considerably higher."
  • Hundreds of schools and hospitals destroyed.
Kyiv damage
A man carries shopping bags as heavy smoke from a warehouse destroyed by Russian bombardment casts shadows on the road outside Kyiv, Ukraine on March 24. Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo
Kharkiv street
A pedestrian walks amid debris in a street following a shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 7. SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images
Bomb shelter in Mariupol
People hide in an improvised bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine on March 12. Mstyslav Chernov)/AP Photo
Refugees arrive in Poland
Refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, form a line as they approach the border with Poland in Shehyni, Ukraine on March 6. Daniel Cole/AP Photo
Ukrainian soldiers pay tribute
Ukrainian soldiers pay the last tribute to colonel Valeriy Gudz who was killed in a battle against the Russian invaders, in a cemetery in the town of Boryspil close to capital Kyiv, Ukraine on March 15. Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo

U.N. Resolution Blaming Russia for Humanization Crisis

The United Nations has approved a resolution that blames Russia for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

The resolution was approved by a 140-5 vote Thursday. Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea and Eritrea opposed the measure and 38 countries, including China, abstained.

The resolution condemns Russia's shelling, airstrikes and "besiegement" of Ukrainian cities and calls for an immediate ceasefire and unhindered access for humanitarian aid.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the council voted to "reaffirm the U.N. charter."

"Russia bears sole responsibility for the grave humanitarian crisis and violence in Ukraine," she said. "Together, we called for the protection of all civilians fleeing this conflict and for steps to mitigate the increase in food insecurity caused by this senseless war."

Ukraine Claims Russia Forcibly Took Over 400k Citizens

Ukraine claims Russia has forcibly taken more than 400,000 Ukrainian citizens.

During a news briefing Thursday, Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said the Ukrainian were taken from Mariupol and other besieged cities.

She said the citizens, including 84,000 children, were held in primitive conditions with little food and water, the Associated Press reported.

On Wednesday, Russian officials reported that over 384,000 Ukrainians had voluntarily traveled to Russia and were being offered accommodations and payments.

But Donetsk Region Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko Russians forces are taking passports from Ukrainians and placing people in filtration camps where Russian FSB counterintelligence agency officers conduct security checks before moving them to other places in Russia, according to the AP.

Kyrylenko added that Russian forces are feeding Ukrainians false information, claiming Ukraine was defeated, in order to persuade them to move to Russia.

"Russian lies may influence those who have been under the siege," he said.

U.S. Launching $320M Initiative to Defend Human Rights

The United States will launch a massive new initiative to defend human rights amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The $320 million European Democratic Resilience Initiative will also "strengthen democratic and anti-corruption institutions, support media freedom and increase accountability for human rights abuses and violations of international law," a Biden senior administration official said Thursday.

Efforts will focus on countries that neighbor the European Union who are "vulnerable in this space." Another element of the initiative is supporting documentation of any potential war crimes committed in Ukraine.

The initiative is part of an ongoing effort to support neighboring countries who have been overwhelmed with refugees over the past month. More than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries since Russia's invasion, the U.N. estimates.

More than 2.1 million have entered Poland, who continues calling for international support to accommodate the influx. More than 370,000 other refugees have entered the small country of Moldova, the highest number of refugees per capita so far.

"The E.U. and the United States, they're obviously very concerned about the situation in Moldova, in terms of refugees," the senior administration official said Thursday. " And a strong desire to ensure that we are doing everything possible to bolster the resilience of those countries as well — the ones that are not in NATO or the E.U. but that are, in E.U. parlance, part of their Eastern Partnership Program and on the eastern part of the European flank."

Biden Laid Out Consequences to China for Helping Russia

President Joe Biden said he made "clear" to Chinese President Xi Jinping the consequences of aiding Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.

The two spoke last week, in what Biden called a "straightforward conversation."

"I made no threats, but I made it clear to him... make sure he understood the consequences of him helping Russia," Biden said Thursday during a press conference from NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

Biden explained Xi's previously stated interests in economic growth with Europe and the U.S. During their conversation, Biden told Xi "he'd be putting himself in significant jeopardy in those aims if in fact he were to move forward [supporting Russia]."

"China understands that its economic future is much more closely tied to the West than it is to Russia, and so I'm hopeful that he does not get engaged," Biden said Thursday.

NATO and G7 leaders also discussed a need to develop a system to track who has violated any sanctions imposed on Russia during summits Thursday.

Biden in Brussels
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference after a NATO summit and Group of Seven meeting at NATO headquarters on March 24. Evan Vucci/AP Photo

U.S. Would Respond if Russia Uses Chemical Weapons

President Joe Biden said the United States would respond if Russian President Vladimir Putin used chemical weapons in Ukraine.

"We would respond," Biden said during a press conference in Brussels Thursday, when asked if the U.S. or NATO would respond with military action. "We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use."

Biden would not detail any intelligence that suggests Putin is deploying such weapons. When asked again if a chemical weapons attack would trigger a military response from NATO, Biden answered it would trigger a response but "we'd make that decision at the time."

Biden warned about the "real" threat of Russia using chemical weapons before departing to Europe for Thursday's series of summits.

Ukraine Says Russia Is Destroying Its History Books

Ukrainian defense intelligence reportedly shows Russian forces are removing historical and artistic literature from Ukrainian libraries that do "not match the Kremlin propaganda posts."

The Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense made the claims in a post Thursday, blaming Russian military police units. The agency says the actions are occurring in the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Chernihiv and Sumy regions.

"The greatest interest of the police are caused by books on the history of Ukrainian Maidanív, ATO/OOS, the history of Ukrainian liberation competitions, school textbooks of Ukrainian history, scientific and popular historical literature are related to "extremist" literature," the Directorate said.

"The occupants have a whole list of those forbidden to mention names," the post continues. "Among them: Mazepa, Petlyura, Bandera, Shukhevich, Chornovil. In the cities of Kreminna, Rubízhne (Lugansk region), Grodno (Chernihiv region) there are known cases of removal of the book "The Case of Vasyl Stus" by Vakhtanga Kipiani."

The agency said such books are being removed or destroyed.

At Least 1,000 Civilians Killed, Including 90 Children

At least 1,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion one month ago, the United Nations said Thursday, warning the actual number is "considerably higher."

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said 1,035 civilians have died, including 90 children. The report further details: "214 men, 160 women, 14 girls, and 28 boys, as well as 48 children and 571 adults whose sex is yet unknown" are among those killed.

OHCHR adds at least 1,650 other civilians, including 118 children, have been injured. Those injured include: "181 men, 140 women, 28 girls, and 23 boys, as well as 67 children and 1,211 adults whose sex is yet unknown."

"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes," OHCHR said.

Baikove's cemetery
A cloud of smoke produced during cremations is seen behind some graves inside Baikove's cemetery offices, in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 24. Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo

Newsweek Reporting From Brussels

In the middle of a busy day of diplomacy here in Brussels, President Joe Biden carved out time during meetings on Ukraine to discuss North Korea's launch of a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile Thursday, the first such test in more than four years.

Earlier this afternoon Biden discussed the test with Prime Minister Kishida of Japan on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit. The leaders condemned the missile launch and pledged to "continue working together" to hold North Korea accountable.

North Korea has conducted more than 10 missile tests this year, but the rocket fired Thursday, which reached waters off the western coast of Japan, was the first ICBM launch since 2017.

The test comes amid rising concerns that President Vladimir Putin of Russia may use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine. Russia has also refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons.

The G7 summit this afternoon will be followed by a meeting of the European Council, a group consisting of the heads of state of European Union nations. Biden is scheduled to attend the meeting and then head back to NATO headquarters for a press conference this evening.

Daniel Bush, White House correspondent

Biden's Packed Schedule in Brussels

President Joe Biden has a packed agenda Thursday as he meets with leaders of the G7 and NATO along with the European Council in Brussels to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Following the day's summits, Biden will hold a press conference at NATO Headquarters Thursday evening.

Biden's Agenda in Brussels:

  • 9:45am: Biden meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO Headquarters.
  • 9:55am: The President takes a family photo with other NATO Leaders.
  • 10:00am: The President attends and delivers remarks at NATO's Extraordinary Summit.
  • 2:10pm: The President takes a family photo with other G7 Leaders at NATO Headquarters.
  • 2:15pm: The President attends and delivers remarks at a G7 Leaders' Meeting
  • 4:20pm: The President greets with European Council President Charles Michel at the European Council in Brussels.
  • 4:30pm: The President holds a bilateral meeting with European Council President Charles Michel.
  • 5pm: The President joins and delivers remarks at a European Council Summit.
  • 8pm: The President holds a press conference at NATO Headquarters.
Brussels
From left, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Joe Biden, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and France's President Emmanuel Macron pose for a G7 leaders' group photo during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium on March 24. Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool

NATO Leaders Discuss Future Action Against Russia

NATO leaders met in Brussels for an "extraordinary" summit Thursday. A Biden senior administration official described the meeting's tone as "sober, resolute, and incredibly united."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg opened the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky then addressed the group by video. President Joe Biden followed, laying out the "three-pronged approach" the U.S. has taken amid Russia's invasion: "significant" sanctions, security assistance and strong message of support for NATO.

"In terms of the Alliance, he talked about force posture adjustments," a senior administration official said Thursday. "He welcomed the similar moves that we have seen from a number of countries to strengthen NATO's Eastern flank."

"Together, we are committed to identifying additional equipment, including air defense systems, to help Ukraine," Biden said in a statement.

The senior administration official added that Allies voiced their readiness to continue and increase security assistance to Ukraine and continuing to impose economic sanctions on Russia. NATO leaders also discussed China's role in the crisis.

"There was also a reference by many of the speakers to China and a recognition that China needs to live up to its responsibilities within the international community as a U.N. Security Council member, that we need to continue to call on China not to support Russia in its aggression against Ukraine, and that we need China to call for a peaceful end to the conflict as a responsible member of the international community," the senior administration official said.

The alliance also discussed the deployment of four more battlegroups to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. Biden said the new establishment sends a "strong signal that we will collectively defend and protect every inch of NATO territory."

"Between now and the NATO summit in June, we will develop plans for additional forces and capabilities to strengthen NATO's defenses," Biden said in a statement. "We will adopt an updated Strategic Concept to ensure NATO is ready to meet any challenge in the new and more dangerous security environment."

U.S. Announces Another Round of Sanctions

The United States announced a new round of sanctions on more than 400 Russian elites, lawmakers, bank board members and defense companies Thursday.

"President Putin's war continues to inflict horror and widespread suffering on the people of Ukraine," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a statement.

"At the same time, in Russia, the State Duma continues to use its legislative power to target domestic dissenters and political opponents, disrupt the free flow of information, and restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the citizens of Russia," Blinken said.

"The United States today is designating 328 members of the Russian State Duma, in addition to the 12 members designated on March 11," the statement continued. "The United States is also designating the Russian State Duma in its entirety, as well as Herman Gref, the head of Sberbank and a close ally of Putin. As part of this action, we are also targeting multiple Russian elites to include their properties and family members. Notably, this will include 17 members of the board of PJSC Sovcombank, a designated entity."

The announcement comes as President Joe Biden is in Brussels meeting with the G7, NATO leaders and the European Council.

"They personally gain from the Kremlin's policies, and they should share in the pain," President Joe Biden said regarding the new actions.

The latest round of sanctions also targets Russian defense companies. The U.S. vowed to continue imposing costs until Russian President Vladimir Putin ends the war.

Jens Stoltenberg Tells China Not to Back Russia's 'Brutal War Against Ukraine'

More from the NATO Secretary General

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine has changed the global security environment for the long term and that his alliance is prepared for the "long haul."

During a press conference following the meeting by alliance members, Stoltenberg said that his group has increased its presence by its eastern border and had agreed for four new battlegroups to be sent to Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

"We will also strengthen our cyber defenses and enhance our exercises focusing on collective defense and interoperability," he said on Thursday.

He also called on China not to back the "brutal war against Ukraine" and not to provide economic or military support to Russia.

Following Thursday's summit, NATO issued a statement which called on Putin to "immediately stop this war and withdraw military forces from Ukraine."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/Getty Images

'Missing' Russian Defense Minister Reappears via Videolink, Raising More Questions

Russian state media published a short excerpt of a live news report featuring president Vladimir Putin's video call with cabinet members, but viewers noted some oddities about Sergei Shoigu's appearance.

Shortly after the Kremlin dismissed as "conspiracy theories" reports that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has disappeared, or is unwell, a Russian state media channel published a short clip, purportedly taken from a breaking news segment on a cabinet meeting attended by key ministers earlier on Thursday.

In the video, published without sound on the RIA Kremlin Pool social media channels, the camera appears to demonstratively zoom into the top-left section of the screen, where Shoigu can be seen briefly.

But eagle-eyed social media users spotted a strange shuffling of the camera in the first few seconds of his video link, speculating that the camera is in fact filming another TV or computer screen, on which the video is being broadcast.

There is so far no convincing evidence that Shoigu has been relieved of duties or detained. The Kremlin explained his absence from the media spotlight by saying he has "a lot on his hands."

Earlier on Thursday the Pentagon said Russian military leaders have declined calls from their U.S. counterparts since before the invasion of Ukraine began.

Sergei Shoigu missing
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a press conference following a two-plus-two dialogue between the Defence and foreign ministers of Italy and Russia at Villa Madama, on February 18, 2020 in Rome, Italy. Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

NATO Will Equip Ukraine With 'Significant Military Supplies'—Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the alliance would provide further support to Ukraine.

Following a meeting among members in Brussels on Thursday, Stoltenberg said that the alliance had agreed to equip Ukraine "with significant military supplies" which included anti-tank and air defense systems and drones.

He said that there would also be more pre-positioned equipment and a bigger presence on NATO's eastern border.

He added that the people of Ukraine have shown courage and determination fighting against Russian aggression.

"We stand with them," Stoltenberg said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrives ahead of an extraordinary NATO summit at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/Getty Images

U.S. to Accept 100,000 Ukrainian Refugees—Reports

The United States is reportedly planning to accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

Reuters reported that the logistics of the scheme have not been finalized, and that not all of those who are accepted will come through the U.S. refugee program.

Meanwhile a White House source told NBC News that the U.S. would manage the scheme, such as the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, non-immigrant and immigrant visas, and others.

A focus will be placed on those who already have family in the U.S., it reported.

The United Nations Refugee Agency has said that more than 3.6 million people have fled from Ukraine into other countries.

Ukraine Refugees in Poland March 7
Two children from Ukraine walk through a refugee camp at the Medyka Border Crossing in Poland on March 7, 2022. Francesco Pistilli for International Rescue Committee

British Intelligence Claims Russian Army Could be Encircled by Ukraine Forces Outside Kyiv

Ukraine's army could fully encircle the Russian positions north of Kyiv in coming days, according to the latest information shared by Britain's Ministry of Defense.

"Ukraine is increasing pressure on the Russian forces north-east of Kyiv. Russian forces along this axis are already facing considerable supply and morale issues," the ministry said in a statement Thursday.

"Ukrainian forces are carrying out successful counter-attacks against Russian positions in towns on the outskirts of the capital, and have probably retaken Makariv and Moschun. There is a realistic possibility that Ukrainian forces are now able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin."

While in the initial days of the war Moscow focussed on efforts to surround and cut off the capital, large areas around Kyiv remain under Ukrainian control, especially south of the city.

And over the past few days Kyiv's counter-offensive efforts appeared to bear fruit, with several Russian high-ranking military officials reportedly killed in action during the intense fighting in the area.

Zelensky Tells NATO It Needs Unrestricted Military Aid

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has called on NATO for military support and to "help shield our sky."

In a video address to the alliance meeting in Brussels on Thursday, he said his forces have been "on unequal terms for over a month" and said that so far Ukraine has not received a single plane.

He also says he has not had any clear answers from NATO members about much-needed tanks. "Give them to us, sell them to us" he said, "we simply want to survive, to save our people."

"To save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military assistance without restrictions."

Zelensky commended his country's resilience in the face of Russian aggression and asked the alliance if it was confident that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty would work if Russia attacked NATO.

"The only thing I demand of you after such a month of war is, please, never tell us that our army does not meet NATO standards," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskycall
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (R) adresses Sweden's parliament in Stockholm on March 24, 2022. The same day he addressed NATO by video where he called for air support against Russian aggression. PAUL WENNERHOLM/Getty Images

'They Are Using Oil Sale Proceeds To Kill Our People'—Zelensky's Aide on Russia

Ukraine once again urged its Western partners to tighten the economic screws on Russia at Thursday's extraordinary NATO, European Union, and G7 summits in Brussels, warning Kyiv has no backup plan if its supporters do not choke Moscow's vital energy exports.

And in an exclusive conversation with Newsweek, an aide to president Volodymyr Zelensky said curtailing Russia's proceeds from oil and gas sales to the West is key to Ukraine's success.

"They desperately need money," Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to Zelensky, told Newsweek. "They are using this money to kill our people, to destroy our country, to kill innocent children, civilians."

Those who continue business with Russia are funding the war crimes inflicted on the Ukrainian people, Ustenko warned.

NATO leaders at Brussels summit Ukraine Russia
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Joe Biden and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson are among those posing for a family photo at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022. World leaders are meeting in Belgium to continue talks on how to support Ukraine's defense against Russian invasion. JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

'Shoigu Has Many Concerns'—Kremlin Spokesman on 'Missing' Defense Minister

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, has addressed media speculation about the location and well-being of the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who has not been seen in public in nearly two weeks.

"The Minister has many concerns at the moment, as you can imagine. There is an ongoing special military operation. Of course, this is not the time for media appearances," Peskov said, without further elaboration, according to Russian outlet MK.

On Wednesday several Russian journalists and independent media outlets reported on the notable absence of Shoigu, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, from public view since March 11.

One outlet, citing a source inside the Russian government, speculated that Shoigu may be unwell and suffering from heart problems.

Shortly after Peskov's comments, RIA Novosti, the Russian state news outlet, reported that Shoigu met with Putin on Thursday to discuss the "special operation" and Western sanctions, but provided no visual evidence of the meeting.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 27, 2022. There was speculation on March 23, 2022 over why he has not been seen in public for 11 days. ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/Getty Images

Half of Ukraine's Children Displaced by Russian Invasion: UNICEF

One month on from the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, half of the country's children have been displaced, according to UNICEF.

"As families leave everything they know behind, UNICEF is supporting children with mental health and protection services," it tweeted on Thursday.

The United Nations organization had earlier said that the war in Ukraine "poses an immediate and growing threat to the lives and well-being of the country's 7.5 million children.

"It has called for donations to help its program to provide blankets, medicine and first aid kits as well as mobile psychological protection teams and safe spaces for refugee children.

Ukraine protest
A child holds a sign during a protest against the invasion of Ukraine on March 6, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. Unicef said on March 24, 2022 that in one month since the start of Russia's invasion, half of the country's children have been displaced. Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Zelensky Calls for Global Protests Against Russian Aggression: 'Freedom Matters'

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has made an impassioned call for global protests against the war in his country.

Speaking in English, Zelensky said in a television address from the street in Kyiv that "the world must stop the war," as he called for people to take to the streets "from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities," starting from March 24, a month on from the start of the Russian invasion.

"Freedom matters," he warned, "Russia is trying to defeat the freedom of all people in Europe."

Addressing leaders of the G7, NATO and the European Union who are meeting in Brussels on Thursday, he called for more weapons, including advanced fighter jets, missile defense systems, tanks, armored vehicles and anti-ship missiles.

"Freedom must be armed," he added.

Pro-Ukraine Protest in Brooklyn
Pro-Ukraine rally participants listen to a Russian speaker denounce the war in the Ukraine on March 20, 2022 in the Brighton Beach section of the Brooklyn, New York City. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called for more protest around the world against Russian aggression. Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images

Russian Bankers and Oil Tycoons Hit With a Raft of New U.K. Sanctions

Britain has announced a raft of new sanctions it said would target "key strategic industries and individuals" in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

Among those facing measures are six banks including Alfa Bank, whose co-founders include previously sanctioned oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan. The world's largest diamond producer Alrosa was also added to the list.

Billionaire oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler, founder of Tinkoff bank Oleg Tinkov, Herman Gref, the CEO of Russia's largest bank Sberbank, and Polina Kovaleva, the alleged stepdaughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, are also among those sanctioned.

They will face travel bans, have their British assets frozen and no U.K. citizen or company can do business with them.

The U.K. Foreign Office said that the measures will bring the total global asset value of the banks the U.K. has sanctioned since the invasion to £500bn ($658bn) and the net worth of the oligarchs and family members in excess of £150bn ($197bn).

"These oligarchs, businesses and hired thugs are complicit in the murder of innocent civilians and it is right that they pay the price," said British foreign minister Liz Truss.

Russian Landing Ship 'Destroyed' in Berdyansk—Ukrainian Navy

"Orsk", a Russian navy vessel, was reportedly sunk by the Ukrainian forces in the Azov Sea port of Berdyansk, Ukraine's navy officials claimed on Thursday.

The Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Anna Malyar said that the destroyed warship could carry up to 20 tanks, 45 armored personnel carriers and 400 paratroopers.

Several videos and images purporting to show the burning vessel spread on social media Thursday, but could not be independently verified.

The Russia's Defense Ministry is yet to comment on the report. But pro-Kremlin Russia media outlet Zvezda did report that "Orsk" had completed its first delivery of weapons, ammunition and vehicles to the port of Berdyansk on March 21.

Russian Landing Ship "Orsk"
Russian Large Landing Ship "Orsk" is seen in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on March 8, 2014. The Ukrainian navy claimed on March 24, 2022 that it has destroyed the Russia transport vessel. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images

Russia-Ukraine War Has Gone on For a Month

Good morning. Today marks the one month anniversary since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

Initially predicted to be a short conflict that would see Ukraine's government topped swiftly; instead the invasion has stalled, Kyiv has not fallen, and nations have united across the world to both provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia.

Bon Jovi Shares Video of Ukrainians
Scott Peterson / Contributor/Getty Images Europe