- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that joining NATO was the best security guarantee for Ukraine but acknowledged that “it would be impossible” for his country to join the alliance before the war ended. In a joint briefing in Kyiv with Estonian President Alar Karis, Zelenskyy said Ukrainians “will not pull any NATO country into a war."
- The U.S. State Department said it was revoking the visas of Russian nuclear inspectors, denying pending applications for new monitors and canceling standard clearances for Russian aircraft to enter U.S. airspace because of Russia's “ongoing violations” of the last arms control treaty remaining between the two countries.
- Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin escalated his feud with Moscow’s military brass by alleging that Russian forces were given orders to blow up his men by planting anti-tank mines in areas that could only be targeting Wagner mercenary forces. "It was not necessary to plant these charges in order to deter the enemy,” he said. “Therefore, we can assume that these charges were intended to meet the advancing units of Wagner."
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy rebuked Kyiv authorities for neglecting to provide enough operational air raid shelters in the city.
The president said Friday that he'd ordered an inspection of all Ukrainian air raid shelters throughout the country after a 9-year-old girl, her mother and another woman were killed Thursday by falling debris from a Russian airstrike. During the attack, the three victims were locked out on the street after finding a Kyiv shelter shut Thursday morning.
“Unfortunately, even today — after everything has happened — Kyiv residents repeatedly post information about the lack of access to shelters,” Zelenskyy said. “This level of negligence in the city cannot be covered with any excuses.”
The deaths caused a public outcry and prompted Zelenskyy to promise that all those responsible would be held accountable - a statement widely seen to have been directed at Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko. The mayor is a former world champion boxer who has clashed with the president before. During a confrontation last November, Zelenskyy accused Klitschko of doing a poor job of setting up emergency shelters to help people without power and heat.
Russian airstrikes repelled
Ukraine repelled 36 Russian air attacks in and around the capital overnight.
Russia has launched about 20 waves of attacks on Kyiv since the beginning of May, in a surge that Ukraine says appears to be aimed at derailing its preparations for a major counteroffensive to try to end Russia's invasion.
In his daily speech, the Ukrainian president addressed the need for a stronger air defense system through further development, supply and production of the “necessary missiles” in Ukraine. “The Ukrainian air shield must continuously have all it needs. We are engaged in the coalition of Patriot systems and the coalition of modern fighters — actively every day,” he said.
Regarding the long-awaited F-16 fighter jets, U.S. Army General Mark Milley said they wouldn't be ready for Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive.
Upon his arrival in France late Thursday, the general said “everyone recognizes Ukraine needs a modernized air force,” but regarding the delivery of F-16s, “it's going to take a considerable amount of time.”
At a Friday news conference, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive was “not a movie” and added it was not easy to publicly describe how it would unfold.
"The main thing is for Russia to see it, and not only see it, but feel it. Specifically, we are talking about the forces that have occupied our territory," he added. The Ukrainian president said liberating Ukrainian territories was the main goal of the counteroffensive, and that when that starts to occur, "you will understand what is happening."
Blinken: Russian pullout required
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that a “just and lasting” peace deal in Ukraine must include the withdrawal of Russian troops for all Ukraine-held territories.
"A cease-fire that simply freezes current lines in place and enables Putin to consolidate control over the territory he seized and then rest, rearm and reattack - that is not a just and lasting peace," Blinken said.
Speaking in the capital of Finland, the NATO alliance’s newest member, Blinken said such a violation of the U.N. Charter would send Moscow and “other would-be aggressors around the world” the wrong message.
Blinken added that the United States would encourage peace efforts by other nations as long as they uphold the U.N. Charter and Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
New START treaty
The Biden administration is retaliating after Russia suspended the New START nuclear treaty. The State Department announced Thursday that it was revoking the visas of Russian nuclear inspectors, denying pending applications for new monitors and canceling standard clearances for Russian aircraft to enter U.S. airspace.
The State Department said it was taking those steps and others in response to Russia’s “ongoing violations” of New START, the last arms control treaty remaining between the two countries.
“The United States is committed to full and mutual implementation of the New START treaty,” it said. “Consistent with that commitment, the United States has adopted lawful countermeasures in response to the Russian Federation’s ongoing violations of the New START treaty.”
Russia suspended its participation in the New START treaty in February in a move that the U.S. said was “legally invalid.”
Allowing inspections of weapons sites and providing information on the placement of intercontinental and submarine-based ballistic missiles and their test launches are critical components of New START, which then-Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed in 2010.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.