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- Russian soldiers are preparing for a parade in the devastated coastal city of Mariupol, removing rubble from a bombed-out theater that had served as the city’s primary shelter before it was destroyed seven weeks ago in one of the war’s worst attacks, the Washington Post noted. According to Ukraine’s defense intelligence service, Russia intends to convert Mariupol into a center of “celebrations” on May 9, or “Victory Day” in Russia which commemorates Russia’s role in defeating Nazi Germany.
- In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko praised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but he said he didn’t expect the 10-week-old conflict to “drag on this way.” Meanwhile, a series of attacks and explosions on Russian territory near the Ukrainian border have broadened the scope of the conflict in recent weeks, underscoring vulnerabilities in regions critical to Moscow’s ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine’s internet infrastructure and are diverting traffic to Russia-controlled operators, exposing Ukrainians’ data to surveillance and censorship by the Kremlin, the Financial Times reported.
- Finland began a two-week military exercise this week as it prepares to apply to NATO, breaking decades of neutrality because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal wrote.
- The Russian Orthodox Church issued a warning to Pope Francis on Wednesday after the pontiff made comments imploring Russian church officials to quit being “Putin’s altar boy,” Newsweek said. In an interview with Italian media, Pope Francis said he had directed his comments toward the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill while attempting to mitigate the conflict in Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church warned that Francis’ comments discouraged conversation between the two churches.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized for his foreign minister’s allegation that Adolf Hitler had Jewish roots during a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, according to the Guardian.