Ukraine War Day 42: Hungary Says It'll Pay for Russian Gas in Rubles

Live Updates

Wednesday marked the 42nd day of Russia's war in Ukraine.

  • NATO foreign ministers began a two-day summit in Brussels Wednesday, discussing how to increase pressure on the Kremlin and end the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said "truly painful" sanctions were needed to stop Russia.
  • The United States announced new sanctions against Russia after officials found growing evidence of Russian war crimes. Wednesday's actions include full-blocking sanctions on Russia's largest financial institution and prohibiting new investments in the Russian Federation.
  • Pentagon and NATO officials say Russian forces are withdrawing from areas around Kyiv to resupply in Belarus before redeploying to elsewhere in eastern and southern Ukraine, including the Donbas region. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Ukraine will prevail, but at a cost.
  • Mariupol's mayor says more than 5,000 civilians have been killed in the besieged city, accusing Russian forces of using "mobile" crematories to hide "evidence." Aerial footage showed the annihilation of a town outside Kyiv.

Live updates for this blog have ended.

Destruction in Borodyanka, Ukraine
A man carries his belongings on a bike as he leaves his house, background, ruined in the Russian shelling in Borodyanka, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo

Hungary Says It'll Pay for Russian Gas in Rubles

Hungary's government says it'll comply with Russia's demand to pay for gas in rubles, signaling the central European country is willing to break with the European Union's efforts to keep economic pressure on Moscow.

Russia earlier demanded that countries pay for its oil and gas in rubles in an effort to prop up its currency after it plunged under harsh sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. Some countries, like Germany, have insisted on paying in Euros as required under existing contracts.

But Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto said Wednesday that his government was working on a technical solution to pay for gas supplies in rubles, reports Russian news agency Tass.

His remarks come days after Szijjarto's party swept parliamentary elections, keeping Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in power.

Szijjarto said that Hungary will work out payments for gas with Russia and will not be swayed by other countries or the European Union, which it is a member of. Hungary signed a two long-term contracts with Russia's Gazprom to deliver gas, according to Tass.

Ukraine Will Prevail, But After 'Tremendous Death and Destruction' :Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was confident Ukraine will preserve its independence from Russia but it "may take time, and in the meantime, tremendous death and destruction."

Speaking to NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Blinken said that while he'd like to see the conflict come to a quick end "there is also a very likely scenario by which this goes on for some time." The top diplomat's remarks come a day after Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he expected the conflict to continue for years.

Blinken said that while Russian troops have pulled back from Ukraine's capital, they are consolidating in the east and "have a lot of force still left."

"The Ukrainians have something else that's ultimately stronger," said Blinken. "And that is a fierce determination and will to defend their country with the support of many countries around the world."

The Ukrainian armed forces will soon have another edge on the Russian military, said Blinken. After President Joe Biden authorized another $100 million to provide Javelin missile systems to Ukraine, its forces will soon have 10 anti-tank systems for every Russian tank, he said.

Blinken also touched on efforts to bring war crimes charges for Russian troops and officials for alleged atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, saying it could take years to document evidence.

Russian Legislation Would Further Tighten Media Controls

Russia's parliament is considering a bill that would ban news outlets from citing foreign press deemed unfriendly.

The bill would place additional clamps on the country's media after lawmakers earlier passed legislation prohibiting news outlets from referring to Russian aggression against Ukraine as "invasion." Foreign news outlets have largely pulled out of Russia in response.

Yuri Litvinenko, a reporter with Russian newspaper Kommersant, said on Twitter that the legislation would "let prosecutors ban media from any given "unfriendly" country en masse, as well as every article of theirs."

A Russian government commission investigating "outside interference" announced the legislation on Telegram. The commission's post pointed to how western governments and their allies have banned or sought to reduce the reach of Russian-backed news outlets.

Aerial Footage Shows Destruction Left in Town Near Kyiv

A video providing a bird's eye view of the town of Borodyanka shows blackened buildings, tattered houses and rubble-strewn city blocks that a Ukrainian official says was left by Russian forces.

Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to Ukraine's president, posted to Twitter on Wednesday a video of aerial footage depicting the extent of the annihilation in the town located just outside of the capital city of Kyiv.

Russian forces appear to be pulling back from Kyiv. Podoliak, in his post, said the video showed the aftermath of "the expulsion of the 'Russian world' & 'Russian butchers on tanks.'"

"Ruins, blood, tears. Hundreds of missing people under the rubble," wrote Podoliak. "And the price of the world's continued patience (to avoid "WW3")."

Podoliak seemed to hint at frustration from his government, which has been lobbying western powers to provide Ukraine with more weapons and to enact even more punishing sanctions against Russia as the invasion drags on.

Zelensky Calls for "Truly Painful" Sanctions Against Russia to End War

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia will continue waging war against his country unless it faces even more punishing sanctions.

Zelensky made the comments in a Facebook post Wednesday as he called on European nations to further restrict trade with Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine. The plea from Zelensky comes as Russia has pulled away from Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv but has shown signs of pivoting to the country's south and east.

Without a more exacting package of sanctions, Zelensky said Russia will consider it "permission to move on." Specifically, he said Russia will start a new attack in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

A statement issued by Zelensky's office Wednesday called for Europe to halt Russian oil and gas exports, expand the list of sanctions against politically significant persons and ban land transport to Russia. Additionally, Zelensky's office called for an embargo on any technology or minerals to Russia to stop its production of weapons.

50 People Burned to Death in Mariupol Hospital Bombing

More than 5,000 civilians, including 210 children, have been killed in Mariupol, the city's mayor said Wednesday.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko released the grim report Wednesday as authorities have been able to collect evidence. 50 people burned to death in a hospital bombed by Russian forces, Boichenko said, according to the Associated Press. Several other hospitals were also bombed.

Boichenko also accused Russian forces of using "mobile" crematories to hide "evidence."

"In order to hide the evidence of their crimes, Russian occupiers used mobile crematoria in Mariupol," Boichenko said, according to Ukraine's Ministry of Defense. "They destroyed the bodies of hundreds of tortured and murdered citizens. The world has not seen a tragedy on the scale of Mariupol since the Nazi camps."

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has repeatedly warned that civilian deaths in Ukraine were "much higher" that what has been recorded so far. Particularly, in areas of intense hostility, including Mariupol.

Boichenko added that nearly all of the city's infrastructure has been destroyed. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has repeatedly tried to enter the besieged city with humanitarian aid and to evacuate residents.

Wednesday, ICRC said it was able to help 500 civilians flee Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia. However, officials say tens of thousands are still trapped in the city.

Civilians leave Mariupol
A boy looks through the window as a convoy of 30 buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol and Melitopol arrive at the registration center in Zaporizhzhia, on April 1, 2022. EMRE CAYLAK/AFP via Getty Images
Mariupol theatre
A look at the Mariupol theater damaged during fighting, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, April 4. Alexei Alexandrov/AP Photo

Mayor Urges Residents 'Wait' to Return to Kyiv

Residents are returning to Kyiv, but the city urges those who have not to wait due to the "probable" threat of air strikes.

Martial law continues in Ukraine's capital and a curfew remains in place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. Russian forces have been repositioning out of Kyiv and towards Belarus over the last few days, according to the Pentagon.

"Kievans who went to other cities continue to return to the capital," Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said Wednesday. "Those who have not yet gone home, I ask: please wait a minute."

"We all hope that the enemy has stopped trying to capture the heart of Ukraine - Kyiv," he said. "But we must be prepared for other scenarios. Therefore, we continue to defend the capital. Work. Help those who need help and support."

The city also released an assessment of civilian casualties that occurred in Kyiv within the first 40 days of Russia's invasion. Data shows 89 civilian deaths, including 4 children, and 398 civilians injured, including 20 children.

The city reported the following infrastructure damages:

167 residential buildings, 44 schools, 26 kindergartens, one orphanage and 11 administrative buildings have been damaged since February 24.

"Also from actions of the Russian aggressor suffered: two sports objects, five objects of social sphere, 17 health care, 10 cultural sphere and 48 objects of transport infrastructure," the City of Kyiv reports.

"Kyiv forestry farms are actively assisting the Armed Forces of Ukraine by providing timber and lumber, in particular for the construction of protective structures," the city said.

City of Kyiv
City of Kyiv
City of Kyiv
City of Kyiv

Psaki Says Russia's Goal Remains 'Weakening Ukraine'

The White House said that Russian President Vladimir Putin's "endgame" has not shifted in Ukraine.

While the U.S. has seen Russia move troops around and lessen airstrikes, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Russia's goal remains "weakening Ukraine as much as possible."

"We should be under no illusion that that objective hasn't changed even as their tactics have changed," she said.

She added that the U.S. expects to see more atrocities in Ukraine similar to those in Bucha as Russian troops withdraw from cities.

While the Pentagon said it is "impossible" to know how long the war in Ukraine will go on, Psaki said the U.S. will continue to supply Ukraine with humanitarian aid and military assistance.

When asked if the U.S. can sustain its current level of support to Ukraine, Psaki said the needs and resources for the conflict may not look the same as the war continues.

"I can't make a comment about sustaining because this war and the needs will change over the course of time," she said.

She added that the Biden administration will continue to mitigate the economic impact to Americans as it increases sanctions on Russia.

These sanctions are still working to cripple the Russian economy, Psaki said, shutting down reports that the Russian ruble is on the rise.

She said it is important to note that the Russian Central Banks is making policy decision to "artificially prop up the ruble."

"It's not actually on the rise, its being artificially propped up by limitation they are putting in place," she said. Such policies include barring banks from selling dollars to costumers, Russian brokerages are not allowing foreign clients to sell securities and exporters are being forced to sell 80 percent of their dollar revenues and buy rubbles.

"So, they are essentially manipulating it on their end," she added.

This comes as Hungary's prime minister said he would comply if Russia followed through on its threat to cut off gas sales unless they are paid for in roubles.

"It causes us no if the Russians request it, we will pay in roubles," Viktor Orban, a close ally of Putin who recently won his fourth consecutive term in office, said during a press briefing.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janey Yellen said earlier Wednesday that the Russian economy is "reeling" from sanctions and the Russian government is distorting the market for rubles

"The restrictions that Russia and the Russian Central Bank have put on Russians leads to a situation in which you shouldn't really infer anything from the value of the currency," she said.

Over 7.1M Displaced in Ukraine, 4.2M Have Fled

More than 7.1 million people have been internally displaced in Ukraine amid Russia's invasion, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday, half of which are women.

Those displaced are most in need of cash, transportation, food and shelter. IOM said secondary pressing needs include medicine and health services.

"People continue to flee their homes because of war, and the humanitarian needs on the ground continue to soar," IOM Director General António Vitorino said. "Humanitarian corridors are urgently needed to allow the safe evacuation of civilians and ensure the safe transportation and delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid in order to rapidly assist those internally displaced."

IOM has been able to provide humanitarian assistance to some, including food, cash, mental health and psychosocial support. Teams have also been handing out information to prevent human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The IOM survey showed displaced households have the following:

  • More than 50% include children
  • 57% include elderly members
  • 30% include people with chronic illness
Displaced Ukrainian center
A hostel in Uzhgorod, Zakarpattia Region, currently serving as a collective center for internally displaced persons. Yana Wyzinska/IOM

Ukrainian Refugees:

On top of the more than 7.1 million displaced inside Ukraine, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR estimates another 4.2 million have fled the country. Poland has been flooded by refugees, as nearly 2.5 million have entered the country since the invasion started. Moldova, one of Europe's poorest nations, has welcomed nearly 400,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Where refugees are going, by country:

  • Poland: Nearly 2.5 million
  • Romania: 654,825
  • Moldova: 399,039
  • Hungary: 398,932
  • Russia: 350,632
  • Slovakia: 302,417
  • Belarus: 17,317

*Estimates above provided by UNHCR as of 4/5

Refugees arrive in Poland
Larisa Pradko, a refugee from Kharkiv, holds her cat Felix after fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland on April 6. Sergei Grits/AP Photo

Blinken Meets with Australian Foreign Minister, NATO Chief

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne discusses ways to hold Russia accountable for its war in Ukraine as well as mutual efforts to provide security assistance to Ukraine.

The pair also talked about ways to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, noting the progress of the AUKUS alliance with the United Kingdom.

Before their meeting, Payne said this is a "critical time" for partners like Australia and the U.S. to be "closely joined in response to the actions of authoritarian states that are untenable, unacceptable, complete illegal violations, wholesale violations of international law and the U.N. Charter."

Blinken also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The two exchanged their thanks and appreciation for each other's leadership in supporting Ukraine and strengthening alliances.

"The U.S. leadership has been outstanding and is indispensable, and that is of great importance when we face a very dangerous situation with the ongoing war in Ukraine," Stoltenberg said.

Blinken said NATO is in a "period of tremendous importance" for the future of the alliance "not just with regard to the Russian aggression against Ukraine," but a more broad strategic concept to address future challenges that the alliance will face.

"So this is an important moment for us to come together to continue to do the work leading up to the summit, the new Strategic Concept, working with new partners, all of which we'll be doing in the next two days," he said.

Stoltenberg and Blinekn will later sit down with foreign ministers of NATO and the Asian Pacific to address "global ramifications of the crisis in Ukraine and how we are going to work together in different areas with our Asia Pacific partners."

Pentagon Says Putin Has Achieved 'Zero' of His Goals

There is a possibility for intensified violence as Russian President Vladimir Putin focuses his efforts on eastern Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday.

"The fact that he's going to concentrate in a smaller geographic area certainly presents the possibility that the violence will continue, it could even intensify in that part of Ukraine," Kirby said during a briefing.

Once the war is over, the international community will want to join to help rebuild Ukraine, Kirby said, which will "take some time." The primary goal for the U.S. is ensuring Ukraine can defend itself as diplomacy efforts continue.

"Of course they [Ukraine] can win this," Kirby said. "If you look at what they've been able to do thus far, Mr. Putin has achieved exactly zero of his strategic objectives inside Ukraine. He didn't take Kyiv, he didn't topple the government, he didn't remove Ukraine as a nation state."

Kirby said Putin has only taken a small number of population centers that weren't really his intended targets.

US sends Switchblade drones to Ukraine, trains Ukrainian soldiers:

The U.S. has sent 100 Switchblade tactical drones to Europe, Kirby said Wednesday, adding they will be "getting into Ukraine quickly, if they aren't already there."

He said a small number of Ukrainian soldiers in the United States, who were in the country well before the invasion started, were trained to use the Switchblade UAV system. He said the system is not "very complex," requiring only about two days of training. Those trained will return to Ukraine "soon" to train fellow Ukrainians on the system.

The Biden Administration authorized an additional $100 million worth of military aid for additional Javelin anti armor systems for Ukraine late Tuesday.

The threat of a chemical or biological weapons attack:

When asked about a recent guide issued by Poland in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack, Kirby said the Pentagon does not believe there is an "imminent threat" of Russia using such warfare inside Ukraine.

"We still don't see any indications that the Russians are shipping in or planning to use chemical and biological weapons," Kirby said.

U.N. to Vote on Russian Suspension from Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly will vote on whether to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council (HRC) tomorrow.

A resolution "to suspend the rights of membership in the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation" will be put to a vote when the emergency special session on Ukraine resumes at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, General Assembly spokeswoman Paulina Kubiak said.

The resolution expresses "grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, particularly at the reports of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights."

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for Russia to be removed from the HRC after reports that Russian forces tortured and killed civilians in Bucha.

During the U.N. Security Council meeting Monday, she said the U.S. has assessed that members of Russia's forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine.

"Given the growing mountain of evidence, Russia should not have a position of authority in a body whose purpose is to promote respect for human rights," she said, adding that Russia's participation on the HRC hurts the council's credibility, undermines the entire UN and is "just plain wrong."

Thomas-Greenfield is confident the general assembly will get the necessary two-thirds vote requires to pass this resolution.

"I have no doubt that we can defeat Russia here on the Human Rights Council. They don't deserve to be on the Human Rights Council," she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Russia said this resolution is designed to punish the Kremlin for its "independent policy," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Russia warned that member countries that vote yes or abstain on the resolution will be viewed as an "unfriendly gesture" with consequences for bilateral ties, Reuters reports.

'All Trade' With Russia Must Be Stopped, Zelensky Says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ireland to convince the European Union to impose stricter sanctions on Russia to "really stop Russia's military machine."

"We need to stop all trade with Russia," Zelensky said in an address to Irish Parliament Wednesday. "Russia's banks' ties with the world's financial system must be blocked. We need to cut off the flow of money that the Russian budget receives for oil and spends it on missiles, bombs, artillery shelling."

Zelensky painted a grim picture of the crisis in Mariupol, saying shelling, air raids and bombing continue around the clock. He said every building in the city is damaged as Russian forces continue blocking access into Mariupol where tens of thousands remain.

"They are blocking humanitarian goods, do not allow to bring anything... food, water, medicine," Zelensky said. "When there was snow, people could melt at least the snow to get water, but now there is none."

The number of Mariupol residents killed remains unknown, Zelensky said, saying bodies were buried or left in streets and basements.

"The fact that the residents of Mariupol drew on the sheets of school notebooks how to find where the bodies of their loved ones are buried in the city yards," he explained. "The fact that the Russian occupiers shot people on the roads as they tried to escape from the blocked cities. Hundreds of cars hit by shelling are still left on Ukrainian highways."

"The fact that the Russian military did not even try to remove the bodies of killed people from the streets. While Bucha, Irpin and other our cities were under occupation, the corpses were laying just on the roads, on the roadsides, in the yards of houses, anywhere."

He thanked Ireland for its support since the beginning of the invasion.

"And although you are a neutral country, you have not remained neutral to the grief and suffering that Russia has brought to Ukrainians," he said. "I am grateful to all of you for that."

Germany, U.K. Take Steps to Cut Out Russian Oil

Germany and the United Kingdom are taking new steps to punish Russia's energy sector.

The U.K. announced new sanctions that include a commitment to end all imports of Russia coal and oil by the end of 2022.

"Today, we are stepping up our campaign to bring Putin's appalling war to an end with some of our toughest sanctions yet," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

Truss said the latest round of measures will "bring an end to the U.K.'s imports of Russian energy" and sanctions more individuals and businesses "decimating [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's war machine" to show that "Russian elite that they cannot wash their hands of the atrocities committed on Putin's orders."

The sanctions will target the heads of Russian energy companies that are essential to supporting its invasion in Ukraine.

The founder and CEO of Russian natural gas producer Novatek, the CEO of Russia's third largest and majority state-owned oil producer GazpromNeft and the son of the co-owner of Russia's largest gas pipeline producer SGM have all been targeted by these latest sanctions.

Germany presented a 600-page package outlining ways to boost the production of renewable power by expanding offshore power to help meet its goal of "net zero" energy emissions by 2045.

"In sum, this package will lead to a significant increase in renewable energy," Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters.

Habeck said the package is also a significant step is achieving energy independence from Russia.

"The war, the dying, the killing, the brutality in Ukraine has once again clearly shown us how energy policy is also geopolitics," he said, adding that this conflict demonstrates how "security interests are directly, as well as indirectly, affected by energy policy dependencies."

Residents in South Ukraine Urged to Evacuate, Warned of More Attacks

Ukraine officials are warning residents in southern and eastern Ukraine to evacuate their cities ahead of more Russian attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk urged residents in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts to evacuate the region when possible. She warned that bombardment from Russian forces could cut off evacuation corridors, as Russia will start a new offence in that area.

"You need to evacuate now, while this possibility still exists," she said.

Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said authorities would evacuate the two towns in the southern part of the region as fighting continues.

"We will centrally evacuate those cities in coordination with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in particular in the Izium direction: Lozova city, Barvinkove city — in order to prevent and possibly reduce casualties among civilians in the event of relocation of active hostilities to the vicinity of these settlements," he said.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since the war began.

U.K. intelligence shows airstrikes continue to hit Mariupol as Russian forces encircle the city.

"The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening," the U.K. Ministry of Defense said.

Russian forces have prevented humanitarian access, blocking communication, medicine, heat and water from the 160,000 residents remaining in the city.

Civilian Casualties Top 3,700, U.N. Reports

At least 167 children have died amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office said Wednesday.

Another 279 children have been injured, according to juvenile prosecutors. The office also reports that Russian forces are continuing to move Ukrainian children to Russia.

"The forced removal of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation continues," the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office said. "The mother-educator of the family-type orphanage together with her eight foster children, three own children and three foster children were forcibly deported from Mariupol, Donetsk region, to the city of Saransk in the Russian Federation."

The United Nations has recorded at least 3,776 civilian casualties since the invasion began. Data from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) includes 1,563 deaths and 2,213 injuries; however, it warns actual figures are "much higher."

OHCHR says those killed include: 379 men, 237 women, 24 girls, 43 boys, as well as 63 children and 817 adults whose sex is unknown. Its data also shows those injured include: 254 men, 196 women, 44 girls, 40 boys, as well as 104 children and 1,575 adults whose sex is 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.

Policemen work on the identification process following the killing of civilians in Bucha, before sending the bodies to the morgue, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine on April 6, 2022. Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo

China Urges Investigation Before Placing Blame in Bucha

China said no blame should be placed for the reported atrocities in Bucha before an investigation is conducted and concluded.

"The truth and the cause of the incident must be verified," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. "All parties should exercise restraint and avoid unfounded accusations before a conclusion of the investigation is drawn."

Zhao said China is "ready to continue to work together with the international community to prevent any harm to civilians," as it supports efforts "conducive to alleviating the humanitarian crisis."

Images of civilian deaths from Bucha have sparked international outrage and prompted countries to impose new sanctions on Russia. China has been under fire for not criticizing Russia's invasion and blamed the U.S. for fueling the situation by sending weapons to Ukraine.

Chinese state-controlled media has continued to share Russian disinformation, including allegations of the U.S. producing biological or chemical weapons in Ukraine. China continues objecting to sanctions on Russia, but accused the U.S. of profiting from "the chaos [to] make a lot of money," AP adds.

At the United Nations Security Council meeting Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Zhang Jun made similar remarks to Zhao's, and called the images from Bucha "deeply disturbing."

"The relevant circumstances and specific causes of the incident should be verified and established," Zhang said during Tuesday's meeting. "Before the full picture is clear, all sides should exercise restraint and avoid unfounded accusations."

Zhao Lijian briefing
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian gestures during a media briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office on April 6, in Beijing. Liu Zheng/AP Photo

Blinken Meets with Belgian Foreign Minister

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Belgian counterpart in Brussels Wednesday ahead of the NATO foreign ministers summit.

Blinken and Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès "condemned the atrocities committed by President Putin's forces in Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine" and reaffirmed the U.S. and Belgian commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty, according to the State Department.

The pair also said that, together with other allies, they will continue to impose "severe sanctions" of Russia "for as long as it carries out its brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine."

Later today, Blinken will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and then join a meeting with the foreign ministers of France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Before the NATO Foreign Ministerial Working Dinner, Blinken will also meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Red Cross Leads 500 Civilians Out of Mariupol

More than 500 civilians were transported out of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday.

The ICRC led a convoy of buses and cars out of the besieged city after several failed attempts in previous days.

"Those who were part of the convoy had managed to flee Mariupol," ICRC Ukraine said. "We hope this helps people find the safe haven they so desperately need right now."

Russian forces have repeatedly blocked humanitarian convoys from entering Mariupol, Ukrainian officials have said. Monday, the ICRC told Newsweek that one of its teams headed to aid the tens of thousands remaining in the city was being held by police in the town of Manhush.

International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukraine/Twitter
International Committee of the Red Cross, Ukraine/Twitter

U.S. Announces New Sanctions Targeting Putin's Family

The U.S., along with G7 and European Union partners, are set to impose a new round of sanctions on Russia "for its atrocities in Ukraine."

"As one part of this effort, the United States is announcing devastating economic measures to ban new investment in Russia, and impose the most severe financial sanctions on Russia's largest bank and several of its most critical state-owned enterprises and on Russian government officials and their family members," the White House said in a statement.

These measures are designed to reinforce previous sanctions to "generate intensifying impact over time."

Full blocking sanctions on Russia's largest financial institution and largest private bank

This measure will freeze any assets from Sberbank and Alfa Bank that reach the U.S. financial system and bar any U.S. person from doing business with them.

Sberbank holds nearly one-third of the overall Russian banking sector's assets and Alfa Bank is the largest privately-owned financial institution and fourth largest financial institution overall in Russia.

Prohibiting new investments in the Russian Federation

President Biden will sign a new Executive Order prohibiting U.S. persons from new investments in Russian to "further isolate Russia from the global economy" and weaken Russia's global competitiveness.

Full blocking sanctions on critical major Russian state-owned enterprises

This will prohibit transactions with these entities and will freeze any assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction, "thereby damaging the Kremlin's ability to use these entities it depends on to enable and fund its war in Ukraine."

The Treasury Department will announce more details on this measure tomorrow, the White House said.

Full blocking sanctions on Russian elites and their families

These sanctions will target Russian President Vladimir Putin's adult children, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's wide and daughter, members of Russia's Security Council including former President and Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

These individuals have "enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people" and some are responsible for "providing the support necessary to underpin Putin's war on Ukraine."

The Treasury Department will also prohibit Russia from making debt payments with funds subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The White House also noted that these new sanctions will not target efforts to provide humanitarian aid and other related activities to the Russian people, including ensuring food availability, safeguarding medical aid and enabling telecommunications services to support the flow and access to the internet.

Justice Dept. Charges Russian Oligarch With Sanctions Violations

The Justice Department announced actions it is taking to disrupt and prosecute criminal activity associated with Russians.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the department has unsealed an indictment of a Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev for sanction violations.

This oligarch was the main source of financing support for separatism in Crimea and the Donetsk region. Garland said he attempted to evade previous U.S. Treasury Department sanctions.

Officials were also able to seize millions of dollars Garland said are traceable to the sanctions violations.

The Justice Department also disrupted a bot net run by the Russian military agency, known as GRU, before it could be used.

The U.S. was able to detect thousands of infected hardware devices and disable the bot net before it could be weaponized, Garland said.

The Justice Department also reiterated the seizure of Russian yachts and a Russian-operated dark web system yesterday.

Garland ensured Russian oligarchs that it does not matter how far they sail their yachts, where they store their assets, or how they hide their online activity, "the Justice Department will use every tool available to find you, disrupt your plots and hold you accountable."

Justice Department to Announce to New Actions Against Russian

The U.S. Justice Department is set to announce new actions to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine Wednesday morning.

Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. ET to "discuss new and recent enforcement actions to disrupt and prosecute criminal Russian activity."