(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian troops invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Russian forces have since been met with “stiff resistance” from Ukrainians, according to U.S. officials.

In recent days, Russian forces have retreated from northern Ukraine, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. After graphic images emerged of civilians lying dead in the streets of Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, the United States and European countries accused Russia of committing war crimes.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 12, 9:28 pm
White House could announce up to $750M in new Ukrainian military aid, official says

The Biden administration could announce as early as Wednesday upward of $750 million in additional military assistance to Ukraine, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The new assistance could possibly include a range of military hardware — including howitzers, artillery and Humvees — though the full package still needs to be finalized, the official said.

Apr 12, 6:48 pm
Biden uses ‘genocide’ for first time regarding Ukraine

President Joe Biden used the word “genocide” for the first time to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine during remarks on Tuesday.

“Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank — none of it should on hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” Biden said in Menlo, Iowa, during remarks primarily about the U.S. economy.

Biden was asked by reporters on April 4 if he thought the atrocities in Bucha were a genocide, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had claimed. “No, I think it is a war crime,” Biden responded then.

That same day, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the administration had not yet seen the “systematic deprivation of life” necessary to meet the definition of genocide.

Biden confirmed his word choice to the White House pool Tuesday evening before boarding Air Force One, saying that since last week the “evidence is mounting.”

“Yes, I called it genocide,” Biden said. “Because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.”

He then qualified that the determination of genocide is officially up to legal experts, but that “it sure seems that way to me.”

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Apr 12, 6:42 pm
White House could announce up to $750M in new Ukrainian military aid, official says

The Biden administration could announce as early as Wednesday upward of $750 million in additional military assistance to Ukraine, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The new assistance could possibly include a range of military hardware — including howitzers, artillery, Humvees and Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters originally intended for Afghanistan’s military — though the full package still needs to be finalized, the official said.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Apr 12, 5:56 pm
Biden uses ‘genocide’ for first time regarding Ukraine

President Joe Biden used the word “genocide” for the first time to describe Russia’s actions in Ukraine during remarks on Tuesday.

“Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank — none of it should on hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide half a world away,” Biden said in Menlo, Iowa, during remarks primarily about the U.S. economy.

Biden was asked by reporters on April 4 if he thought the atrocities in Bucha were a genocide, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had claimed. “No, I think it is a war crime,” Biden responded then.

That same day, Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the administration had not yet seen the “systematic deprivation of life” necessary to meet the definition of genocide.

It is unclear if Biden’s latest remarks were an ad-lib or represent an intentional shift in the White House’s position.

-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky

Apr 12, 5:34 pm
US State Department condemns arrest of Russian opposition activist

The U.S. State Department is condemning the arrest in Russia of Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian opposition activist and critic of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Kara-Murza’s arrest on Monday is another example of a Russian government “that is more aggressive beyond its borders and more oppressive within its borders.”

He condemned Kara-Murza’s arrest, noting that the activist has previously been arrested by Russian authorities and that he has survived two poisoning incidents.

“The Russian people — and this is the key point — like people everywhere, have the right to speak freely, to form peaceful associations, to exercise their freedom of expression and to have their voices heard through free and fair elections,” Price said.

Kara-Murza, a Washington Post columnist who has testified before Congress, survived poisoning incidents in 2015 and in 2017. At the time of his second poisoning, Kara-Murza’s wife, Evgenia Kara-Murza, gave an exclusive interview to ABC News in which she pleaded for then-President Donald Trump to support her husband and warned that Putin “cannot be dealt with on friendly terms.”

Following her husband’s arrest this week, Evgenia Kara-Murza posted a message on Twitter calling attention to her husband’s arrest.

“Twice have the Russian authorities tried to kill my husband for advocating for sanctions against thieves and murderers, and now they want to throw him in prison for calling their bloody war a WAR. I demand my husband’s immediate release!” Evgenia Kara-Murza, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, tweeted.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Apr 12, 4:04 pm
Pro-Russian oligarch captured in Ukraine: Zelenskyy

Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian oligarch and personal friend of Vladimir Putin, has been captured in Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy posted a photo on his official Telegram account of the captured Medvedchuk in handcuffs and wearing military fatigues.

The photo was accompanied by a caption praising the Security Service of Ukraine’s “special operation” that led to Medvedchuk’s capture. “Well done! Details later. Glory to Ukraine,” the caption reads.

Medvedchuk is a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician and leader of Ukraine’s Opposition Platform.

In May 2021, Ukraine indicted Medvedchuk on charges of treason and attempting to steal natural resources from Russia-annexed Crimea. He was initially placed under house arrest in Ukraine but escaped just days after the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.

Medvedchuk’s detention was also confirmed by Ukraine’s Security Service on their official Facebook page. The agency said Medvedchuk was wearing a uniform from the Ukrainian armed forces to disguise himself.

Medvedchuk is a business oligarch in Ukraine with very close ties to Putin. The Ukrainian National News Agency reported that Putin is the godfather of one of Medvedchuk’s daughters.

Apr 12, 2:34 pm
Biden, British prime minister discuss more Ukraine assistance

President Joe Biden spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson by phone Tuesday about the need to accelerate military and economic assistance to Ukraine, according to a spokesperson for Johnson.

“The Prime Minister updated President Biden on his recent visit to Kyiv, and said he had been humbled by President Zelenskyy’s strength and resolve,” the spokesperson said.

The leaders discussed the need to accelerate assistance to Ukraine, including bolstering military and economic support as Ukrainian forces prepare for another Russian onslaught in the east of the country.

“The prime minister paid tribute to the U.S.’ colossal military contribution to Ukraine, and updated on the U.K.’s new package of support, including anti-ship missiles and military vehicles, which would arrive in the coming days and weeks,” the spokesperson said. “Both leaders were clear that Putin would never be able to hold down the spirit of the Ukrainian people, despite his monstrous attempts.”

The most recent $800 million U.S. military aid package for Ukraine has mostly been delivered and will be completed in the coming days, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

“Yesterday, two U.S. flights arrived in the region with everything from small-arms ammunition, machine guns, body armor, grenades and other explosives,” the official said.

So far, the United States has sent 19 out of an expected 20 flights needed to deliver the $800 million package.

Johnson, according to his spokesperson, told Biden that a long-term commitment to Ukraine was needed from the international community to ensure the Ukrainian people’s vision for their country’s freedom can be realized.

“The pair also agreed to continue joint efforts to ratchet up the economic pressure on Putin and decisively end Western reliance on Russian oil and gas,” Johnson’s spokesperson said.

-ABC News’ Matt Seyler

Apr 12, 1:44 pm
403 bodies recovered in Bucha: Mayor

In a televised announcement on Tuesday, Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, Ukraine, said that the bodies of 403 people presumably killed by Russian forces have been recovered in his city and that he expects the number to rise.

Fedoruk said 16 residents of Bucha remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead.

He said 163 of the 403 bodies recovered have been identified.

Fedoruk alleged last week that nearly all of those killed in Bucha are civilians.

Surviving residents of the besieged town told an ABC News crew in Bucha last week that Russian troops allegedly tortured people before killing them and executed many men under the age of 50.

When ABC News arrived in Bucha on Tuesday, bodies still lay in the streets.

Russia has denied committing atrocities in Ukraine and said it is not targeting civilians.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Apr 12, 1:10 pm
US concerned Russia could disguise chemical weapons: Official

A senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday that the United States cannot confirm whether Russia used chemical agents in Mariupol or elsewhere in Ukraine but that the Pentagon is concerned Russian forces could disguise such attacks.

The Department of Defense has seen evidence Russia has considered disguising the use of chemical weapons by making them appear to be more benign riot control agents, the official said.

“In the past we’ve had indications that that could be one thing that the Russians look at is the potential mixing of agents with the idea that they could disguise a more serious attack by using the vehicle and the techniques of riot control agents,” the official said.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby released a similar statement Monday night to address social media reports claiming Russia used a chemical weapon in Mariupol.

“These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine,” Kirby said.

-ABC News’ Matt Seyler

Apr 12, 12:42 pm
Blinken meets with UN refugee chief amid Ukraine crisis

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was meeting Tuesday morning with U.N. refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi amid the crisis in Ukraine and other upheavals that have displaced people around the globe.

“We’ve only seen that challenge increase and, of course, Ukraine is now added to the mix with Russian aggression displacing, within Ukraine or outside of Ukraine, two-thirds of the children in that country, as well as, of course, many, many adults,” Blinken said while sitting across the table from Grandi.

There are some 95 million people displaced across the globe, with the number of refugees alone larger than the populations of Spain or South Korea, Blinken said.

Blinken added the United States is “grateful” for the work the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is doing to meet the needs of refugees. He said the United States is working with the agency to both resettle refugees in the United States and care for refugee populations overseas.

Grandi praised the United States for being the largest donor and the largest resettlement country for refugees.

But weeks after the Biden administration said it would admit up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, Grandi said the White House has released no details about how the United States will do that.

“This figure that he (Blinken) mentioned — 95 million — maybe 96 million by today, who knows?” Grandi said, adding that the number of refugees had gone up by 12 million in less than two months with the crisis in Ukraine.

Grandi noted other crises from Afghanistan to Africa and Venezuela that have displaced people and said of Russia’s war in Ukraine, “That crisis should not make us forget everything else.”

-ABC News Conor Finnegan

Apr 12, 8:59 am
Putin calls Russia’s objectives in Ukraine ‘noble’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine would undoubtedly achieve its “noble” objectives.”

“On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself,” Putin said, according to Russian news agencies. “It’s clear that we didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision.”

Putin made the comments while visiting the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport in the Amur Oblast in the Russian Far East, to mark Russia’s annual Cosmonautics Day.

He was joined by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The two leaders held talks on bilateral relations and the situation in Ukraine, without the participation of Russian or Ukrainian delegations.

Apr 12, 8:07 am
Nine humanitarian corridors to open in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday

Nine humanitarian corridors are expected to open in eastern Ukraine again on Tuesday to allow civilians escape heavy fighting, according to Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

She said in a statement via social media Tuesday that evacuation routes were agreed upon for those traveling by private cars from besieged Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast, as well as from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast — all of which lead to the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia.

In the Luhansk Oblast, Vereshchuk said routes were established from the cities of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Popasna, Hirske and Rubizhne, leading to the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast.

The same routes were opened Monday, allowing a total of 4,354 people to evacuate via buses and private cars, according to Vereshchuk. However, Vereshchuk said buses carrying people from Berdyansk, Tokmak and Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia city were being held up by Russian forces at a checkpoint in Vasylivka for a third day in a row.

Apr 12, 7:26 am
Ukraine investigating alleged chemical attack in Mariupol

Ukraine announced Tuesday it is investigating claims that chemical weapons were used in an attack against Ukrainian soldiers in besieged Mariupol.

The Azov Regiment, a far-right group now part of the Ukrainian National Guard, alleged in a statement via Telegram on Monday that a Russian drone had dropped “a poisonous substance of unknown origin” on its fighters defending a giant metals plant in Mariupol, a southeastern port city in Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast that has been subjected to heavy bombardment since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. The Azov, which did not provide evidence of the alleged attack, said its fighters had suffered minor injuries.

The claims could not be independently verified by ABC News.

Eduard Basurin, a spokesperson for Russia-backed separatist forces in Donetsk Oblast, denied the allegations, telling Russian news agency Interfax that separatist forces “haven’t used any chemical weapons in Mariupol.” However, on the eve of the alleged attack, Basurin appeared to urge their use, telling Russian state media that Russia-backed forces should seize the Mariupol metals plant from Ukrainian soldiers by blocking all the exits and using “chemical troops to smoke them out.”

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Tuesday the government is investigating the claims, adding that preliminary information suggested phosphorous munition had been used.

When deployed as a weapon, phosphorus can inflict excruciating burns and lead to infection, shock and organ failure. Although phosphorus is not classified as a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Convention, its use as an incendiary weapon in civilian areas is forbidden under the Geneva Conventions.

The United Kingdom is “working urgently” to investigate the reports, according to U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who noted that any confirmed use of chemical weapons in Mariupol would be a “callous escalation” of the war.

U.K. Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told Sky News on Tuesday that “all options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond.”

Meanwhile, the United States said it was “aware” of the reports.

“We cannot confirm at this time and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement Monday. “These reports, if true, are deeply concerning and reflective of concerns that we have had about Russia’s potential to use a variety of riot control agents, including tear gas mixed with chemical agents, in Ukraine.”

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