Live updates: Norway PM calls for increased military budget
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre wants an extra allocation of 3.5 billion kroner ($400 million) for 2022 to strengthen NATO member Norway’s Armed Forces and civil preparedness.
Gahr Støre told Norway’s parliament that the money will be used to “strengthen our ability to prevent, deter and deal with digital attacks.”
“These are necessary measures because we are facing a more unpredictable and aggressive Russian regime,” Gahr Støre said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has raised the alert of his nuclear weapons forces. It contributes to more uncertainty in an already tense situation.”
He said Norway “is NATO’s eyes in the north.”
In a speech to the Scandinavian country’s parliament about Ukraine, Gahr Støre said Norway was gearing up “to handle an extraordinary situation with up to 100,000 refugees.”
“We do not know how long the war will last, or how many will come here. But in any case, it will put us to a historical test,” he said.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Rescuers search for survivors at Mariupol theater hit by Russian airstrike; casualties unclear
— World leaders called anew for an investigation of Russia’s repeat attacks on civilian targets
— Russian media reported that the detention of WNBA star Brittney Griner was extended until May 19
— An American man was among many killed in a Russian attack on the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv
— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:
LVIV, Ukraine — Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said Friday on Telegram that several missiles hit a facility used to repair military aircraft and damaged a bus repair facility, though no casualties were immediately reported.
The plant had suspended work ahead of the attack, the mayor said.
The missiles that hit Lviv were launched from the Black Sea, but two of the six that were launched were shot down, Ukrainian air force’s western command said on Facebook.
NEW DELHI — An Indian official says the state-run Indian Oil Corp. bought 3 million barrels of crude oil from Russia earlier this week to secure its energy needs, resisting Western pressure to avoid such purchases.
The official said India will be looking to purchase more oil from Russia despite calls not to from the U.S. and other countries due to the invasion of Ukraine. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with a reporter, said India has no such sanctions.
Imports make up nearly 85% of India’s oil needs. Its demand is projected to jump 8.2% this year to 5.15 million barrels per day as the economy recovers from the devastation caused by the pandemic.
Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was thankful to U.S. President Joe Biden for the additional military aid but said he would not say specifically what the new package included because he didn’t want to tip off Russia.
“This is our defense,” he said in his nighttime video address to the nation. “When the enemy doesn’t know what to expect from us. As they didn’t know what awaited them after Feb. 24,” the day Russia invaded. “They didn’t know what we had for defense or how we prepared to meet the blow.”
Zelenskyy said Russia expected to find Ukraine much as it did in 2014, when it seized Crimea without a fight and backed separatists as they took control of the eastern Donbas region. But Ukraine is now a different country, with much stronger defenses, he said.
He said it also was not the time to reveal Ukraine’s tactics in the ongoing negotiations with Russia. “Working more in silence than on television, radio or on Facebook,” Zelenskyy said. “I consider it the right way.”
UNITED NATIONS — Russia’s U.N. ambassador says he is not asking for a vote Friday on its resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, which has been sharply criticized by Western countries for making no mention of Russia’s responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbor.
Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council Thursday that Russia decided at this stage not to seek a vote because of pressure from the United States and Albania on U.N. members to oppose it, but he stressed that Moscow is not withdrawing the resolution.
Nebenzia said Russia plans to go ahead with a council meeting Friday to discuss again its allegations of U.S. “biological laboratories” in Ukraine, claiming new documents. His initial charge was made without any evidence and repeatedly denied by U.S. and Ukrainian officials.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield responded to Nebenzia’s announcement by saying “their farcical humanitarian resolution … was doomed to fail.”
“We know if Russia really cared about humanitarian crises, the one that it created, it could simply stop its attacks on the people of Ukraine,” she said. “But instead, they want to call for another Security Council meeting to use this council as a venue for its disinformation and for promoting its propaganda.”
At last Friday’s council meeting on Russia’s initial allegations of U.S. “biological activities,” Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of using the Security Council for “lying and spreading disinformation” as part of a potential false-flag operation by Moscow for the use of chemical or biological agents in Ukraine.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. health chief decried the devastating consequences of war on the Ukrainian people who are facing severe disruption to services and medication and stressed that “the life-saving medicine we need right now is peace.”
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the U.N. Security Council Thursday that WHO has verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities with 12 people killed and 34 injured.
In a virtual briefing, Tedros said “the disruption to services and supplies is posing an extreme risk to people with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and TB, which are among the leading causes of mortality in Ukraine.”
The WHO chief said displacement and overcrowding caused by people fleeing fighting are likely to increase the risks of diseases such as COVID-19, measles, pneumonia and polio.
In addition, more than 35,000 mental health patients in Ukrainian psychiatric hospitals and long-term care facilities face severe shortages of medicine, food, health and blankets, he said.
So far, WHO has sent about 100 metric tons (110 tons) of medical supplies — enough for 4,500 trauma patients and 450,000 primary health care patients for a month — to Ukraine along with other equipment. Tedros said the agency is preparing a further 108 metric tons (119 tons) for delivery.
Tedros urged donors to support the immense and escalating humanitarian needs in Ukraine and fully fund the U.N.’s $1.1 billion humanitarian appeal.