These are the biggest updates so far on Friday as the war in Ukraine gets into its fifth week:
Fighting on the ground: Ukrainian forces have retaken towns and defensive positions on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Friday in its latest intelligence update.
Meanwhile, Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed Friday that Russian forces destroyed “the largest of the remaining fuel depots” near Kyiv, with a strike carried out with sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles.
Mariupol theater survivors: An adviser to Mariupol’s mayor said about 600 people are believed to have survived a Russian airstrike on a theater in the city on March 16.
The Mariupol city council said earlier that based on eyewitness reports, it now believes around 300 people died in the strike. CNN has not independently verified the casualty figures. New footage has emerged on social media showing people making their escape from the theater.
Biden in Poland: US President Joe Biden lauded the bravery of Ukrainian civilians while speaking to US troops in Poland, saying they “have a lot of backbone.” He also addressed the growing refugee crisis, thanking humanitarian organizations in Poland for sending aid to Ukraine and assisting refugees. One in every two Ukrainian children has been displaced since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24, according to a statement from the UN Children’s Fund on Thursday.
Russia gives update on military deaths: The Russian military said in a briefing on Friday that more than 1,300 military personnel had been killed in Ukraine and over 3,800 had been wounded, in the first major casualty update since March 2. US, Ukrainian and NATO estimates put Russian troop losses drastically higher.
Two senior NATO military officials on Wednesday estimated the number of Russian soldiers killed in action in Ukraine to be between 7,000 and 15,000. Other US officials have put Russian losses in a similar range — between 7,000 and 14,000 Russian soldiers killed — but they have expressed “low confidence” in those estimates.
Ukrainian forces also said they had killed a Russian general in the Kherson region.
Putin claims “cancel culture:” Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a complaint about so-called “cancel culture” in a videoconference Friday, saying the West was trying to “cancel” Russia.
He compared his country’s treatment to a public backlash against “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling, who has come under criticism in the past for views that have been called transphobic. Putin, who casts himself as a flag-bearer for conservative cultural values, has railed against transgender and gay rights. Rowling responded, saying that critiques of cancel culture are “not best made” by those “slaughtering civilians” in Ukraine and posting a link to a news article on jailed Kremlin critique Alexey Navalny.
In his remarks, Putin went on to compare the current situation with Russian culture in the West to censorship in Nazi Germany. Putin has cast his invasion of Ukraine — a country with a Jewish president — as a campaign of “denazification,” a description roundly dismissed by historians and political observers.