(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military earlier this month launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, as it attempts to capture the strategic port city of Mariupol and secure a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Apr 29, 6:37 am
American killed while fighting in Ukraine
U.S. citizen Willy Joseph Cancel was killed in Ukraine while fighting alongside Ukrainian troops against invading Russian forces, his family confirmed to ABC News early Friday.
Cancel, a 22-year-old former U.S. Marine, “was eager to volunteer” when he learned about the war in Ukraine, according to his wife, Brittany Cancel.
“He went there wanting to help people, he had always felt that that was his main mission in life,” Brittany Cancel told ABC News in a statement. “My husband was very brave and a hero.”
Before going to Ukraine, Cancel was working as a detention officer in Kentucky. He also had dreams of becoming a police officer or firefighter, according to his wife.
“I did not expect to be a widow at 23 years old or for our son to be without a father,” she said. “All I want is for him to come home, and to give him the proper burial he deserves.”
An official with the U.S. Department of State told ABC News on Friday morning that they “are aware of these reports and are closely monitoring the situation,” but declined to comment further “due to privacy considerations.”
-ABC News’ Caroline Guthrie and Conor Finnegan
Apr 29, 5:53 am
Journalist killed by Russian bombardment in Kyiv
At least one person — a journalist — was killed in a rocket attack on a residential building in Kyiv on Thursday evening, ABC News has learned.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Kilitschko said Friday that rescuers had found the body of a victim amid the rubble.
Radio Liberty, a service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported that one of its employees, Vira Gyrych, was killed when a Russian missile hit her apartment in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday. Her body was found beneath the wreckage Friday morning, according to the report.
Gyrych had worked as a journalist and producer for Radio Liberty’s Kyiv bureau since 2018. Prior to that, she worked for leading Ukrainian television channels, according to Radio Liberty.
“The editorial staff of Radio Liberty expresses its condolences to the family of Vira Gyrych and will remember her as a bright and kind person, a true professional,” Radio Liberty said in its report.
Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky also confirmed Gyrych’s death in a Twitter post, saying she was a former employee of the Israeli embassy in Kyiv.
Thursday’s rocket attack came as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Kyiv. Five Russian missiles flew into the city, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. At least 10 people were injured, including four who were hospitalized, according to the Kyiv City Council.
Apr 29, 5:02 am
UN chief pledges to ‘fight with the use of force’
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres admitted Thursday that “the U.N. Security Council has not been able to do everything in its power” to resolve the war in Ukraine, as he pledged to “fight with the use of force.”
“We will not give up,” Guterres said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
According to Guterres, U.N. staff are already providing on-site assistance in 30 locations across Ukraine. The U.N. chief called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a violation of the U.N. Charter.” One of the organization’s values, he said, “is the need that territorial integrity of the countries must be respected.”
“This is fundamental,” Guterres added.
Guterres visited Kyiv as the Ukrainian capital was hit by two missile strikes on Thursday evening. Five missiles flew into the city, according to Zelenskyy. At least 10 people were injured, including four who were hospitalized, according to the Kyiv City Council.
“This says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions. About the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the U.N. and everything that the organization represents,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly broadcast.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused Western countries of openly calling on Ukraine to attack Russian territory with the weapons they supply to Kyiv.
“We have already commented the other day on statements by British Deputy Defense Minister [James] Heappey about okaying Ukraine’s strikes on Russian military targets,” Zakharova told reporters in Moscow, according to Russian state media. “In other words, the West is openly calling on Kiev to attack Russia, even with weapons received from NATO countries.”
According to Zakharova, Kyiv has taken this as a guide to action, evidenced by the Ukrainian military’s shelling of Russian border territories over the past few weeks that resulted in casualties and destruction. Zakharova said the Ukrainian strikes were “further evidence that Zelenskyy’s regime is not independent in its decisions and is completely dependent on external handlers.”
Zakharova also stressed that such “criminal activity” of the Ukrainian military against Russian territory cannot go unanswered.
“I would like Kyiv and Western capitals to take seriously the statements of our country’s defense ministry that further Ukrainian provocations to strike Russian targets will definitely lead to a harsh response from Russia,” she said.
At a press conference in Vienna on Thursday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi warned that Russian missiles over Ukrainian power plants could cause a nuclear accident. Grossi, who recently visited Ukraine and its Chernobyl nuclear power plant, said the Ukrainian government officially informed his agency, the nuclear watchdog of the U.N., of a video surveillance camera recording the flight of a missile directly over the South Ukraine nuclear power plant near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk on April 16.
“The IAEA is studying the evidence and if it is confirmed, the incident will have extremely serious consequences,” Grossi said. “If such a missile changed its trajectory, it could seriously affect the physical integrity of the nuclear power plant, which could lead to a nuclear accident.”
-ABC News’ Edward Szekeres, Yuriy Zaliznyak, Uliana Lototska and Nataliia Kushnir
Apr 28, 6:41 pm
Russia could be ‘intensifying’ forced displacement of civilians: US official
The U.S. has “credible information” that Russia could be “intensifying” the forced displacement of civilians as it plans to overthrow local governments in southern and eastern Ukraine, a senior U.S. diplomat said Thursday.
Michael Carpenter, the U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters there is “credible reporting” that after failing to topple the central government in Kyiv, Russian forces are forcibly removing Ukrainian civilians from areas in the south and east — and could be “intensifying” those efforts as they seek to set up proxy local governments.
Carpenter said he has also now deemed “credible” the reports that Russian forces are forcibly displacing Ukrainian civilians, often through “filtration camps” where many are “brutally” interrogated, to tamp down on Ukrainian support in these parts of the war-torn country.
Carpenter repeatedly declined to provide more details to back up these claims, saying only, “We have very credible information from a variety of different sources that point to Russia’s plans.”
-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan
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