As Friday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
The first war crimes trial of the war in Ukraine began in Kyiv. A Russian soldier stands accused of fatally shooting an unarmed Ukrainian civilian in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. The accused, a captured member of a tank unit, faces up to life in prison.
Another first during the war: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Austin pressed for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, the Pentagon said. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the phone call was “at the initiative of the American side,” Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported, adding, “The sides discussed current issues of international security, including the situation in Ukraine.”
A Moscow court handed U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner another month of pretrial detention in Russia. The 31-year-old WNBA and Olympics star was arrested in February at the Moscow airport, where authorities allegedly found cannabis vape oil in her luggage. The Biden administration says Griner is being wrongfully detained. Her lawyer, Alexander Boikov, tells NPR that Griner has “been treated OK and has no concerns or complaints about her health.”
Ukrainian forces repelled Russia’s attempt to cross a key river into eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to British intelligence. Russia suffered losses trying to cross the Siverskyi Donets river, the British Defense Ministry said on Twitter, including “significant armoured manoeuvre elements” of at least one battalion tactical group.
The European Union’s foreign affairs chief announced the bloc would provide another 500 million euros ($520.13 million) in military support to Ukraine. Speaking to reporters at a G-7 meeting, Josep Borrell said the new tranche would increase the EU’s total Ukraine aid to 2 billion euros ($2.08 billion). Borrell was also confident the bloc would soon reach a deal on a Russian oil embargo.
Ukraine is heavily favored to win Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Turin, Italy, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Kalush Orchestra will perform a song incorporating traditional folk melodies, costumes and instruments alongside vigorous rap breaks. The band will face competition from two dozen other finalists. Russia is banned from this year’s competition.
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You can read more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find NPR’s full coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR’s State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.