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Russian convoy disperses, but threat remains

(NewsNation) — The convoy of Russian tanks has dispersed around Ukraine’s capital city, but the threat it poses has only moved, not subsided.

Satellite images from Maxar showed some of the tanks moved into forests, others in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city.

At least two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and six people wounded in Russian airstrikes Friday on the Lutsk military airfield, according to the head of the surrounding Volyn region, Yuriy Pohulyayko.

The strikes were far to the west from the main Russian offensive and could indicate a new direction of the war.

The western cities hit Friday are between 80 and 90 miles from Lviv, the city that has become a refuge for Ukrainians from across the rest of the country and a hub for global humanitarian aid and other support.

Ukraine is also accusing Russian soldiers of abducting Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov. The Ukrainians claim it was captured on video in the clip below.

Ret. Lt. Gen. Richard Newton told “NewsNation Prime” it was “typical Soviet tactics.”

A drone crashed on the outskirts of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and is suspected of having flown all the way from the Ukrainian war zone.

Croatian authorities said Friday the overnight crash caused a loud blast but there are no reports of injuries.

The “pilotless military aircraft” entered Croatian airspace from neighboring Hungary at a speed of 430 mph and an altitude of 4,300 feet, according to a statement issued after Croatia’s National Security Council meeting.

That means the large drone flew at least 350 miles apparently undetected by air defenses in Croatia and Hungary. Both countries are members of NATO.

The U.N. human rights office said it has documented 564 civilian deaths and 982 injuries so far, saying the toll and “general human suffering” are rising.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Friday it has verified 29 attacks on health care facilities, workers and ambulances in the hostilities, including a high-profile one on a maternity hospital in southeastern Mariupol on Wednesday. In those, 12 people have been killed and 34 injured, WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said in an email to the Associated Press.

The figures from the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which run from the Feb. 24 start of the fighting to midnight Wednesday, focus on civilians in general. It uses a strict methodology and counts only confirmed casualties. It acknowledges that its tally is likely to underestimate the real toll.

“Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using explosive weapons with wide-area effects in or near populated areas,” spokeswoman Liz Throssell told a U.N. briefing.

“Civilian casualties are rising daily, as is general human suffering,” Throssell said.

As the conflict enters its 16th day, many experts are praising the Ukrainian resistance for stumping the Russians thus far. However, there are growing concerns about the safety of supply lines Ukraine needs to keep its capital city going. Russia has claimed enough southern territory that it could begin to take some of the country’s larger cities.

“They have reinforcements,” Lt. Col. Daniel Davis said on “NewsNation Prime.” “They have replacements.”

There are new concerns Russia may begin using chemical weapons in the fight as it tries to gain control. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed it had proof Ukraine and the U.S. were producing banned biological weapons. Russian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied the accusation and warned it could be a sign of what could happen next.

“If you want to know Russia’s plans, they are what Russia accuses others of,” he said in his nightly address to the nation.

Ukrainian authorities were trying to open evacuation corridors and humanitarian aid delivery routes Friday, with the support of the Red Cross.

Their top priority remains freeing civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol and to get aid to its hungry, thirsty, freezing and terrified population.

The United States is still unwilling to take any action Russian President Vladimir Putin could construe as an act of war. Some Republican senators are pressing President Joe Biden to give Ukraine more planes.

This week, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the Ukrainians likely would not gain much by getting them and it could escalate Putin’s aggression in the country — and potentially outside it.

Biden Friday announced the U.S. will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Biden also announced bans of imports of several goods imported from Russia.

“Putin is the aggressor,” Biden said. “With bipartisan cooperation, I’m looking forward to signing into law a bill revoking Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR). We’re also taking a further step, banning imports of goods from several signature sectors of the Russian economy including seafood, vodka and diamonds.”

Still, some are questioning whether NATO should be kowtowing to Russian threats.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the National Guard, tweeted now may be an opportune time to strike the Russian forces in Ukraine.

“I do believe we have done a lot, and the administration should be commended for that,” Kinzinger tweeted. “But it’s time to remember that our military with NATO cannot be defeated by Russia. It’s time to say that, and it’s time to be clear that Putin can go no further.”

War in Ukraine

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