Russia-Ukraine updates: US sanctions Russian military shipbuilder, diamond miner

Russia's largest military shipbuilding and diamond mining firms were targeted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation” into Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with troops crossing the border from Belarus and Russia. Moscow's forces have since been met with “stiff resistance” from Ukrainians, according to U.S. officials.

Russian forces retreated last week from the Kyiv suburbs, leaving behind a trail of destruction. After graphic images emerged of civilians lying dead in the streets of Bucha, U.S. and European officials accused Russian troops of committing war crimes.

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US sanctions Russian military shipbuilding and diamond mining companies

The Biden administration announced it's levying sanctions against Russia's largest military shipbuilding and diamond mining companies on Thursday night.

The move blocks their access to the U.S. financial system as the United States looks to exact more economic pain on Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine.

Alrosa is the world's largest diamond mining company and accounts for about 90% of Russia's diamond mining capacity, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Alrosa generated over $4.2 billion in revenue in 2021. Diamonds are one of Russia's top 10 non-energy exports by value.

The State Department also said it was blacklisting the United Shipbuilding Corporation, as well as its subsidiaries and board members. The moves against the two state-owned companies come a day after the U.S. announced it was targeting the two adult daughters of Putin, two of Russia's largest banks and banning new American investment in Russia.

-ABC News' Conor Finnegan


Fox News' Benjamin Hall provides 1st update since being severely injured in shelling

A Fox News reporter severely injured in a shelling in Ukraine last month that killed two other journalists tweeted for the first time Thursday to update his condition and pay tribute to his colleagues.

Fox News State Department correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured in an attack in Gorenka, outside Kyiv, on March 14. Ukrainian producer and fixer Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshynova and Fox News cameraperson Pierre Zakrzewski were both killed after incoming fire hit their car.

"Its (sic) been over three weeks since the attack in Ukraine and I wanted to start sharing it all," Hall said. "But first I need to pay tribute to my colleagues Pierre and Sasha who didnt (sic) make it that day. Pierre and I traveled the world together, working was his joy and his joy was infectious."

Hall also shared a Fox News segment in which a Ukrainian parliament member paid tribute to Kuvshynova.

The journalist, who was initially treated at a German hospital before being transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, detailed his injuries in another tweet.

"To sum it up, I've lost half a leg on one side and a foot on the other. One hand is being put together, one eye is no longer working, and my hearing is pretty blown… but all in all I feel pretty damn lucky to be here - and it is the people who got me here who are amazing!" he said.

-ABC News' Conor Finnegan


Situation in Borodyanka 'much worse' than other Ukrainian towns, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the situation in Borodyanka is "much worse" than what Ukrainians have found in other towns where Russian forces have departed.

In his daily address, Zelenskyy said there are "even more victims of the Russian occupiers," in Borodyanka.

Zelenskyy has warned in previous statements that they expected to find many more victims in Borodyanka than the number discovered so far in Bucha.

He also said the United Nations General Assembly's decision to suspend Russia's membership from the Human Rights Council was "quite logical, quite rightly."

"Russia has had nothing to do with the concept of human rights for a long time ... maybe someday that will change," Zelenskyy said.

-ABC News' Fidel Pavlenko



EU approves 5th round of sanctions against Russia

The European Union approved a fifth round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, officials said.

The "substantial" package extends sanctions to "oligarchs, Russian propaganda actors, members of the security and military apparatus and entities in the industrial and technological sector linked to the Russian aggression against Ukraine," according to the French Presidency of the Council of the EU.

It also includes a ban on coal imports from Russia, an embargo on arms to Russia and a freeze on the assets of several Russian banks, among other sanctions.

-ABC News' Christine Theodorou


Blinken shares graphic details of alleged atrocities in Ukraine

At a press conference Thursday Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared graphic details of atrocities in Ukraine allegedly carried out by Russian forces.

He spoke of how Russian troops gathered about 40 people in a town square in Bucha and allegedly executed one young man.

He described how one woman in Kharkiv, sheltering with her neighbors and daughters, reported being taken by a Russian soldier to an empty classroom, where he allegedly cut her face and neck with a knife, raped her at gunpoint and threatened to kill her.

"With each day, more and more credible reports of rape, killings, torture are emerging. And for every Bucha, there are many more towns Russia has occupied and more towns it is still occupying -- places where, we must assume, Russian soldiers are committing more atrocities right now," Blinken said.

"The sickening images and accounts coming out of Bucha and other parts of Ukraine have only strengthened our collective resolve and unity," Blinken said as he detailed several steps the U.S. and its allies are taking, including tightening sanctions, sending more lethal aid to Ukraine and collecting evidence of war crimes.

Blinken was pressed repeatedly on what more allies can do to help Ukrainee. He didn't have any announcements, but defended Western aid, saying they've provided the weapons and systems that Ukraine can use most effectively, that its forces are already trained on, and that can be transferred fast.

Blinken vowed, "We're not going to let anything stand in the way of getting Ukrainians what they need and what we believe can be effective. So we're looking across the board right now not only at what we've provided and continue to provide, but whether there are additional systems that would make a difference and that we can provide them."

-ABC News' Conor Finnegan