Our coverage of the war in Ukraine has moved here.
After advancing to the quarterfinals of the Serbia Open in Belgrade on Thursday, Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev told reporters in a post-match press conference that the decision made by Wimbledon organizers to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing because of the war in Ukraine is “illogical” and amounts to “complete discrimination.”
Rublev, after defeating Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic in the round of 16, gave a statement to reporters, saying he and other players had a call with Wimbledon organizers on Wednesday to talk about the situation to see if they could find a solution.
“To be honest, the reasons that they give, there is no meaning, there is no logic for what they propose,” Rublev said.
He later added, “The things that happen now is complete discrimination.”
It was proposed to Wimbledon that players should have “at least a chance to choose if we want to play or we don’t want to play," Rublev said.
"And if there is a statement that we need to sign and on top of that to give all the prize money to humanitarian help, to the families who are suffering, to the kids who suffer, I think that move at least will do something, at least a bit. And it will show that the England government is standing for the peace and they really want to help.”
Rublev wrapped up his statement the way he opened it: reaffirming his apolitical status.
“At the end of the day we want to compete,” Rublev said. “We are not here to talk about politics, because I have no idea, anything about this. At the end of the day I am Russian, and I was born in Russia and I’ve lived all my life in Russia, and I just want to show that we are good people.”
A few days after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Rublev — who at the time was competing at an ATP 500 event in Dubai — wrote, “No war please” on a camera after winning a match. He went on to win that tournament.
Rublev is ranked No. 8 in the world in men’s singles. He is one of several high-profile players who would be prevented from competing in the third major of the calendar year.
If the ban stands, others who would be impacted in men’s singles include No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 26 Karen Khachanov and No. 30 Aslan Karatsev — all of whom are Russian.
On the women’s side, those currently ranked in the top 30 who would be affected are No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, No. 15 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, No. 18 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No. 26 Daria Kasatkina of Russia and No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova of Russia.
Galina Nikolaevna is weeping in the wreckage of her home in the village of Kamyshevakha in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Two days ago, a couple of Russian shells landed on the house and the garage, making it uninhabitable.
But Nikolaevna and her husband are refusing to leave.
Like so many people here, they have nowhere to go and no means to support themselves, Nikolaevna said. She has been told that it costs $300 just to get to Bakhmut, the nearest town under full Ukrainian control.
We don’t even have [a] liter of gasoline. And our property,” Nikolaevna told CNN, breaking down and sobbing before pushing on: “We worked all our lives for this.”
This village, on the outskirts of Popasna in Luhansk, has been hit hard by artillery over the past days. People here are now completely cut off from basic services. Large buckets and troughs are laid out in front of the damaged building to collect the rainwater.
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The Estonian and Latvian parliaments adopted statements on Thursday saying Russia has committed genocide in Ukraine.
In its statement, Estonia said "systematic and massive war crimes have been committed against the Ukrainian nation by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," according to its parliament, the Riigikogu.
It cited the towns of Bucha, Borodianka, Hostomel, Irpin and Mariupol as well as other settlements that were occupied by Russian forces.
"The Russian Federation has committed acts of genocide, inter alia mass atrocities against the civilian population. These have consisted of murders, enforced disappearances, deportations, imprisonment, torture, rape, and desecration of corpses,” the statement said.
Latvia's parliament, the Saeima, unanimously adopted the statement, saying it was based on "extensive testimonies and evidence of brutal mass atrocities — the murders, torture, sexual violence and desecration of Ukrainian civilians, including women and children."
"As a member state of the UN, the Council of Europe, the EU, and NATO and a defender of democratic values, Latvia cannot accept the actions of the Russian Federation, carrying out mass destruction of Ukrainian people," it said in a press release.
What is genocide: The UN defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." Genocide is when crimes against humanity are carried out with the goal of eliminating a population.
US President Joe Biden recently called the atrocities being uncovered in Ukraine “genocide.”
In his nightly address on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia that any attempts at annexation will lead to sanctions that will leave it as poor as it was after its civil war in 1917.
“I want to say straight away: any ‘Kherson People's Republics’ are not going to fly. If someone wants a new annexation, it can only lead to new powerful sanctions strikes on Russia. You will make your country as poor as Russia hasn’t been since the 1917 civil war. So it is better to seek peace now,” Zelensky said.
He urged the residents of the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be very careful about the information they provide to Russian troops.
“If they ask you to fill out some questionnaires, leave your passport data somewhere, you should know - this is not to help you … This is aimed to falsify the so-called referendum on your land, if an order comes from Moscow to stage such a show,” he said.
Zelensky thanked the prime ministers of Spain and Denmark for their support as they arrived in Kyiv and thanked the Danish prime minister for showing readiness to support post-war reconstruction in Ukraine, particularly in Mykolaiv.
The Ukrainian president also thanked the US for additional support, saying, “The United States has announced a new package of support for our state. We are grateful for that. This package contains very powerful defense tools for our military. In particular, it is artillery, shells, drones. This is what we expected.”
Earlier on Thursday, Zelensky addressed the Parliament of Portugal and said as of Thursday, Russian forces have killed at least 1,126 Ukrainians in the Kyiv region alone, of which 40 are children. He also said Russian forces have already “deported” at least 500,000 Ukrainians from the territory they have occupied.
World leaders need to "facilitate a real legal mechanism" to hold Russian President accountable for committing "crimes against humanity," former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in an interview with CNN Thursday.
"Unpunished evil always returns. Putin and his military committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The incumbent legal machinery is not capable of bringing to justice Putin and these criminals. So it is important to realize that we need urgently to facilitate a real legal mechanism," he said, adding that sending a message to Moscow is not enough.
"We need to send a legal team to every single spot where Putin committed these crimes and actually orchestrate a legal case against Putin."
Several ministers walked out during the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) meeting in Washington, DC, Thursday as Russia’s financial minster spoke, the Danish financial minster told CNN.
“It was the Nordic, Baltic countries that started the walkout but many countries followed,” Nicolai Wammen told CNN’s Richard Quest.
“I saw colleagues from all over the world sending a very clear message to President Putin and to Russia that we will under no circumstances accept the war on Ukraine and we stand firmly behind the Ukrainian people,” Wammen said.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister and head of the IMFC Nadia Calvino told Quest that the meeting was “not business as usual” and that “different countries different members expressed their views in a different manner, but overall this has been a very productive meeting.”
Following a meeting of the IMFC, a joint communique is normally issued, however, for the first time in history it was not as Russia refused to approve it.
Despite this, Calvino said that the outcome of the meeting was still positive and “when a consensus based organization sees one country walk away, that makes it impossible to have a unanimously agreed communique but that doesn’t mean there is no agreement on the substantive issues.”
The United States welcomed Russia’s suspension from its permanent observer status at the Organization of American States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Thursday.
“With the passage of this resolution, OAS member states demonstrated that we do not stand on the sidelines in the face of the Russian government’s violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses,” Blinken said. “Our Hemisphere stands with Ukraine.”
There were 25 votes in favor, zero against, eight abstentions and one absence on the resolution titled “Suspension of the Status of the Russian Federation as a Permanent Observer of the Organization of American States.”
Blinken said they “commend the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala for leading the adoption of the resolution, and all the governments that supported it.”
The evacuation of civilians is going “very slowly” in the besieged eastern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Thursday.
“There is nothing to delight about Mariupol. Everything is going very slowly. On the Russian side, everything is very complicated, chaotic, slow and, of course, dishonest,” she said in a post on Telegram messaging app.
Vereshchuk noted that, for the first time, people went from Mariupol to Zaporizhia directly on Wednesday, and that it gives her “hope.”
She apologized to those who did not get evacuated on Thursday. “The shelling started near the collection point, which forced the corridor to be closed," the official said.
“Dear citizens of Mariupol: as long as we have at least some opportunities, we will not give up trying to get you out of there! Hold on!" she concluded.