KIEV, Ukraine — As Russia advances on strategic points in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities Thursday urged the population to launch a guerrilla war against Russian military forces.

In a video message posted online, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich urged citizens to fell trees and destroy the rear of Russian troops.

“We call on the people to start offering absolute popular resistance to the enemy in the occupied territories,” Arestovich said.

“The weak point of the Russian army is the rear – if we reduce them now and block the rear, the war will stop in a matter of days,” he stressed.

Arestovich added that such tactics are applied in advance in Konotop, in northern Ukraine, and in Melitopol near the Sea of ​​Azov, areas that have already been seized by Russian forces.

The presidential adviser urged the civilian population to create barricades in cities, hold marches with Ukrainian flags and create online networking groups.

“Total resistance – that is our best Ukrainian card and that is what we know how to do best,” said Arestovich, evoking the actions of the guerrillas in Ukraine before the Nazi occupation in World War II.

LONDON — British satellite company OneWeb says it says it has canceled all launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, run by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Roscosmos space agency.

The firm said in a statement that “OneWeb’s board has resolved to suspend all launches from Baikonur.”

OneWeb was scheduled to launch several of its Internet satellites on Friday with Russian rockets from the base.

The launch came into question after Russia demanded that the British government sell its shares in OneWeb. He also asked the company for a guarantee that none of his sarelites would be used for military purposes.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shaken international space cooperation and led to the suspension of a Russian-European mission to Mars planned for this year.

MOSCOW — Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow is ready to start talks on ending the war in Ukraine but will press ahead with its effort to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure.

According to Sergei Lavrov, the Russian delegation sent its demands to the Ukrainian negotiators at the beginning of the week and awaits Kiev’s response in the talks scheduled for Thursday.

The West has armed Ukraine, trained its troops and built bases in the country to make it a bastion against Russia, he added. Moscow claims that this made his neighbor a threat to his security, so he was forced to act.

The United States and its allies have insisted that NATO is a defensive alliance that poses no threat to Russia.

Lavrov strongly rejected this assertion, claiming that the West has turned Ukraine into a “spearhead to undermine everything that is Russian.”

GENEVA — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is backing calls to investigate possible human rights violations committed by Russia in Ukraine so that those responsible are held accountable.

In a video message to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Baerbock said serious abuses “must be prosecuted.”

“We urgently need a commission of inquiry on Ukraine to investigate all the human rights violations that Russia has committed since its military aggression,” he said. “We must be firm on accountability.

Baerbock also showed his support for activists in Russia, such as the recently closed human rights group Memorial and imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

LONDON — A British military expert says the longer Ukrainian cities hold out against Russian attacks, the fewer troops Moscow will have available to besiege Kiev, its main target.

Jack Watling, a ground wars expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said Thursday that if cities can hold out, the war can drag on.

“If the conflict continues, the Ukrainians have more influence to be able to negotiate,” he said.

His assessment coincided with Russia’s claim that its troops had taken the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, although the head of the local government said he was working to keep the Ukrainian flag flying in the city.

GENEVA — At least 227 civilians have been killed and 525 others wounded since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a week ago, according to the latest count by the United Nations human rights office.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the data eclipsed the count of civilian victims of the 2014 war between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, which left 136 dead and 577 wounded

The agency admitted that, so far, the figures are far below the real ones. The office uses a strict methodology and counts only confirmed victims. The Ukrainian authorities have presented much higher data.

“The actual figures are believed to be considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some places where there has been intense hostilities has been delayed and many reports remain to be corroborated. ”, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Most of the casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact zone, including heavy artillery shelling, multiple launch rocket systems and air strikes, it added.

BERLIN — Germany approves sending 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, according to the German news agency dpa.

According to unnamed Economy Ministry officials quoted in the report, these are Soviet-made Stela surface-to-air missiles left over from the East German army’s arsenal.

Following the Russian invasion that began last week, Berlin reversed its refusal to send lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Germany has already authorized the shipment of 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 surface-to-air Stinger missiles.

LONDON — The Russian military column headed for Kiev has made “little discernible progress” in the past three days and remains more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the center of the Ukrainian capital, Britain’s Defense Ministry says.

The column has been hampered by Ukrainian dissent, mechanical breakdowns and traffic jams, the ministry explained in its daily intelligence report on Thursday.

Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands, the department added. Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson, but the military situation there remains unclear, he noted.

According to the British ministry, Russia has been forced to admit that 498 of its soldiers have been killed in Ukraine and another 1,597 have been wounded. The real number is almost certainly higher and will continue to rise, he pointed out.

STOCKHOLM — Low-cost fashion firm Hennes & Mauritz AB is the latest to suspend its activity in Russia after announcing the temporary halt of its sales in the country, in addition to the temporary closure of its stores in Ukraine “for the safety of customers and workers”.

The Stockholm-based group said on Wednesday that it is “deeply concerned by the tragic events in Ukraine and sympathizes with all the people who are suffering,” adding that it is “in dialogue with all relevant parties.”

BRUSSELS — With nearly a million refugees fleeing Ukraine to eastern European Union nations, the bloc is bracing for many more to arrive as the Russian invasion continues.

“We have to be prepared for millions of refugees to arrive in the European Union,” EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Thursday ahead of an extraordinary meeting of the group’s justice and interior ministers.

The EU is already taking steps to grant temporary protections to those fleeing war, trying to give them temporary residence permits that allow them access to education and employment in the 27-nation bloc.

The European Commission has committed at least 500 million euros ($560 million) in humanitarian aid for the refugees. According to Johansson, the EU will need financing and equipment.

LONDON — Fitch Ratings downgrades Russia’s credit rating citing a “severe impact” on fundamental conditions due to its invasion of Ukraine.

According to Fitch, the war has increased the risk to its financial stability and could undermine Russia’s ability to service its public debt. Furthermore, he pointed out that this, in turn, will weaken its finances and slow down its economy, further increasing geopolitical risks and uncertainty.

Among other factors, the rating agency pointed to Western sanctions, which limit access to foreign currency needed to pay off debt and imports, and increased uncertainty about Moscow’s willingness to settle those debts.

BEIJING — Athletes from Russia and Belarus are banned from the Winter Paralympics because of their countries’ role in the war in Ukraine, says the International Paralympic Committee in Beijing.

The decision came less than 24 days after the CPI announced that it would allow the presence of athletes from both countries at the Games, which start on Friday, but as neutral athletes and without colors, flags and other national symbols on their clothing.

The original CPI decision was immediately criticized. It was called treason with the wrong message to the Russian leadership. The entity added that it became clear that many athletes would refuse to compete against Russians or Belarusians, creating chaos at the Games and damaging their reputations.

The CPI joins sports such as football, athletics, basketball or hockey in its veto of athletes from both nations.

SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean drugmaker that makes the Russian COVID-19 vaccine says it is bracing for business complications as the West tightens its sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine invasion.

The newly expanded US sanctions include specific measures against the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund run by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin that markets Sputnik V vaccines around the world.

Kim Gi-young, an official with Seoul-based GL Rapha, said the sanctions will not directly prevent production of the vaccine as they do not affect essential medical supplies. But potential financial troubles are a concern as South Korea is collaborating with Washington and its allies in an effort to lock key Russian banks out of the global payments system.

So far, GL Rapha has produced 5 million doses of the single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine, but none have been used in Russia so far because the country continues to delay its application. In addition, it signed an agreement to produce 150 million of the two-dose Sputnik V formula, and is part of a South Korean consortium contracted to manufacture another 500 million.

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