Marianne Williamson

Author
Jump to  stances on the issues
Marianne Williamson dropped out of the presidential race on January 10, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Williamson, who is widely known for her books, is calling for “a moral and spiritual awakening in the country.” She has pushed to expand social safety net programs and has said she would immediately pursue reparations to the descendants of slaves, but has cautioned that Democrats won’t beat Trump by just “having all these plans.”
Attended Pomona College, 1970-1972
July 8, 1952
Divorced
Jewish
India
Co-founder, Project Angel Food, 1989

WILLIAMSON IN THE NEWS

Marianne Williamson endorses Bernie Sanders for president
Updated 7:24 PM ET, Sun Feb 23, 2020
Former Democratic hopeful Marianne Williamson made a surprise appearance at Sen. Bernie Sanders' rally Sunday in Austin, Texas, to announce her endorsement of the Democratic front-runner. "Bernie Sanders has taken a stand, and Bernie Sanders has been taking a stand for a very long time. He has been consistent, he has been convicted, he has been committed. And now it's time, I'm here and you're here, because it's time for us to take a stand with Bernie," Williamson told the crowd in Austin. Williamson dropped out of the Democratic race on January 10. She had endorsed Sanders in his first presidential run in May 2015. On Sunday, she argued that Sanders is proving the Democratic establishment wrong. "We're being told oh, it can't happen. He can't beat (President Donald) Trump. Bernie can't beat Trump, it can't happen," Williamson said. "I'll tell you what's already happened to those who say it cannot happen. You just tell them this. It already happened. He won Iowa. It already happened, he won New Hampshire. It already happened, he won Nevada," Williamson added, pointing to Sanders' growing momentum. The recanvass of more than 100 Iowa caucus precincts ended last week, resulting in former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's lead over Sanders tightening to a fraction of a standard delegate equivalent. The tightening did not, however, impact the national delegate count, which awarded Buttigieg 14 national delegates out of Iowa, compared to Sanders' 12 delegates, according to the Iowa State Democratic Party. Ahead of the Iowa caucuses in January, Williamson, who had already dropped out, had said she would campaign for Andrew Yang in Iowa, hoping to keep him in the race, but stopping short of an outright endorsement. "Bernie and Elizabeth will make it past Iowa and beyond; I admire them both, but right now they don't need my help," Williamson wrote last month. "I'm lending my support to Andrew in Iowa, hopefully to help him get past the early primaries & remind us not to take ourselves too seriously." But on Sunday in Austin, Williamson touted her support for the Vermont senator. "Today, we're tired of saying pretty please. We're going to stand up, we're going to show up because we woke up, "Williamson said. "We're here and we're with Bernie."
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STANCES ON THE ISSUES

climate crisis
Close Accordion Pane
Williamson supports the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, though she says on her campaign website that “it doesn’t cover the whole range of measures we must undertake to reverse global warming.” She supports US participation in the Paris climate agreement, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. She’s also set a goal of reaching 100% reduction of emissions by 2030. Williamson would phase out sales of vehicles with combustion engines – “fossil fuel vehicles” – by 2035 and remove cars that require fossil fuels from the road by 2050. She would electrify all rail traffic by 2030 and require all new airplanes to use biofuels by 2035. Williamson would also restart Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which set limits on carbon pollution from US power plants. But she has said she does not support expanding nuclear power, would ban fracking and would create mandatory carbon fees to mitigate the damage from fossil fuels. She pledges to appoint “a world-class environmentalist” to run the Environmental Protection Agency. More on Williamson’s climate crisis policy
economy
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson describes economic inequality as a dire threat to the future of American democracy and unchecked corporate power as “a sociopathic economic system,” according to her campaign website. She proposes offering all working-age Americans a universal basic income of $1,000 a month and backs a “universal savings program” – a trust fund created at birth with a government deposit, with the government matching family contributions on a sliding scale as children grow up. Williamson says she would pay for her programs by rolling back tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy from Trump’s 2017 tax law, including restoring the tax on estates over $5 million, while keeping middle-class tax reductions intact. She also proposes adding a fee to financial transactions. When it comes to trade, Williamson says she likes what Trump has done on China. She opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, an 11-nation deal negotiated under Obama that Trump withdrew from in one of his first acts as President. She has, however, echoed other Democrats by expressing concern over Trump’s newly negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a successor to President Bill Clinton’s 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. More on Williamson’s economic policy
education
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson supports universal preschool, would raise funding for free and reduced-price meals in schools and would expand curriculums to focus on meditation, anti-bullying and other emotional learning programs, according to her campaign website. She is calling for free college or technical training for certain students, potentially paid for through a payroll tax on graduates or a public service requirement. Like other Democratic candidates, she is also calling for student loan forgiveness and for cutting interest rates on student loans. More on Williamson’s education policy
gun violence
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson has called for universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines. She supports “mandatory waiting periods for all gun dealers, including gun shows and sporting retailers,” requiring child safety locks on all stored firearms and banning all so-called assault rifles as well as semi-automatic weapons, according to her website. Williamson supports so-called “red flag” laws, which allow families and police to petition a judge to temporarily block someone’s access to firearms if there is credible concern they might hurt themselves or others. More on Williamson’s gun violence policy
healthcare
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson supports providing a government-run health care program that individuals can voluntarily buy into. “I think a lot of people would gravitate to that,” she said at a CNN town hall in 2019. “If people want private insurance or want to augment it, then they should be able to.” At the town hall, she said she sees health care as a broader conversation about things that stress Americans, toxins in food and the impact of environmental policies. Williamson told The Washington Post that undocumented immigrants should be covered under this government-run program. More on Williamson’s health care policy
immigration
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the US who lack a “serious criminal background issue.” Williamson also supports the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields from deportation some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as minors. That program was formally canceled by Trump but remains in limbo. She argues that Trump’s proposed border wall is “expensive, impractical, and unlikely to address any of the real challenges we face,” according to her website. She believes the solution to undocumented immigration lies heavily in the war on drugs, “which has created rampant crime and violence among our neighbors.” More on Williamson’s immigration policy

LATEST POLITICAL NEWS

May 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
Updated 12:01 AM ET, Sat May 28, 2022
Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in Donbas is "very difficult" as Russia ramps up firepower and manpower, and makes incremental gains in the southeastern region. But he vowed Donbas would be "Ukrainian again." Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine: Fighting in Severodonetsk: Ukrainian officials have denied claims the city in the embattled Luhansk region is surrounded by Russian forces, but acknowledged Russia holds one part of the city and further enemy gains were possible. About 90% of Severodonetsk's housing had been damaged amid a "fierce defense" of the city, a local military official said Friday. Supply lines: Ukraine's military said the Russians are mobilizing railway brigades with special machinery to repair damaged railway lines inside northern Ukraine to sustain supply routes. The railway from Russia into the Kharkiv region and south to Izium is a critical supply line for the Russian offensive. Weapons aid: US defense officials said they were "mindful and aware" of Ukraine's request for advanced, multiple-launch rocket systems, but decisions were yet to be made. CNN reported Thursday that the Biden administration is preparing to send MLRS systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week. Food security: Zelensky said nearly half of Ukraine’s grain export supply, some 22 million tons, is currently held up as Russia continues to block the country’s main export routes through the Black Sea and Azov Sea. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba discussed efforts to resolve the global food security crisis in a call Friday. Prisoner exchange: Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer that an exchange of prisoners will take place between Russia and Ukraine, according to a statement from the Austrian Chancellery following a 45-minute call between the two leaders. Putin also told Nehammer that the International Committee of the Red Cross will "have free access to prisoners of war," and asked for the same to be granted to Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine.  NATO membership: Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto expressed optimism that "sooner or later, Finland and Sweden will be members of NATO" and said discussions with the Turkish government would continue as Ankara threatens to block the two nations from joining the defensive alliance. Both formally applied for NATO membership last week. ##Catch Up## The US Defense Department awarded a top defense contractor a $624 million contract to replenish Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, one of the key systems the US has provided to Ukraine as Russia's war continues. The department announced the contract to Raytheon on Friday afternoon, though it was officially awarded on Wednesday. The contract is "for the procurement of Stinger missiles and associated equipment." There is no timeline listed for completion of the work.  The US has sent more than 1,400 Stinger systems, including missiles and launchers, to Ukraine to help them challenge Russia's attempt to control the skies. Stingers are short-range anti-aircraft missiles with a range of about 3 miles (nearly 5 kilometers).   Though their range is too short to allow them to target high-flying aircraft, they can effectively shoot down drones and low-flying aircraft and helicopters. The US has little use for Stingers, but they have been in high demand in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.   Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has promised that Donbas will be "Ukrainian again," as Russian forces continue to make incremental gains in the southeastern region.  Speaking during his nightly address Friday, Zelensky called the current situation in Donbas "very difficult," referencing Russia's ramping up of firepower and manpower in the region.  "That's why we have to increase our defense, increase our resistance, and Donbas will be Ukrainian again. Even if Russia will bring all suffering and ruination to Donbas, we will rebuild every town, every community. There's no real alternative," Zelensky stressed.  The US Defense Department maintained during a press briefing Friday that Russia is continuing to make "incremental gains" in Donbas.  Ukraine continues to call on international partners, including the UK, to provide it with multiple launch rocket systems to counter the Russian offensive.  While acknowledging Ukraine's request, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby stressed during Friday's briefing that “decisions… haven’t been made yet.”  The US Defense Department said it is “mindful and aware” of Ukraine’s request for multiple-launch rocket systems, but that “decisions … haven’t been made yet.” “Our goal from the very beginning has been to try to help them in the fight that they’re in today,” said outgoing Pentagon press secretary John Kirby at a briefing with reporters. “I won't go so far as to say it's too late to provide the Ukrainians with any system or capability that they might need because they are very active in the fight and they have pushed back the Russians up near Kharkiv,” Kirby said. However, Kirby said the Defense Department is “mindful of the clock” when it comes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We are ever mindful as we have been since the beginning, mindful of the clock here, mindful of this sense of urgency, mindful that time is not our friend,” said Kirby, “which is why we have been continuing to move equipment literally every day for the last 90 plus days of this war.” CNN reported Thursday that the Biden administration is preparing to send MLRS systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week. The MLRS and its lighter-weight version, the HIMARS, can launch as far as 300 kilometers (186 miles), depending on the type of munition. Ukrainian officials are denying that the city of Severodonetsk in Luhansk is surrounded, but have acknowledged that Russian forces hold one part of the city. "The city is not cut off, and it is not surrounded. The fighting continues," said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk region's military administration, in a radio interview. The Russian army has "only entered the outskirts of the city," he claimed. "This is a war, a war against a very powerful enemy, and in theory anything is possible," Hayday said when asked about the possibility of Russian troops gaining further ground in the city. "The higher military command sees this situation. But so far I can't say that in a day, two, three they will completely take over the area. No, most likely they won't." "We have enough strength," he continued, while also cautioning that, "Maybe there will be a command to our troops even to retreat." Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto expressed optimism that “sooner or later, Finland and Sweden will be members of NATO” and said discussions with the Turkish government would continue as Ankara threatens to block the two nations from joining the defensive alliance. In an interview with CNN in Washington, DC, Friday, Haavisto said he expected that the topic of Finland’s NATO membership and overcoming Turkey’s current opposition would come up in his conversations with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his meeting later in the day, adding he was “quite confident” that other NATO countries had spoken with Turkey as well. Delegations from Finland and Sweden – which both formally applied for NATO membership last week – traveled to Turkey earlier this week for talks on NATO accession. All current NATO members must approve new members. Haavisto, who did not attend the talks, called it a “good meeting,” and said it lasted for five hours. Haavisto indicated that there are European and Finnish laws and policies in place that guide Finland’s actions on Turkey’s main demands – the designation the PKK as a terrorist organization, lifting arms export controls, the extradition of Kurdish militants that Turkey sees as terrorists. However, Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said following the delegation’s visit that “if Turkey’s security concerns are not met with concrete steps, the process cannot progress.” Haavisto said “there was an agreement to continue those discussions,” but a next round of talks has not yet been arranged. “From our perspective, the time frame is essential, because we are, of course, looking forward to NATO Summit in Madrid,” which is at the end of June, “and we hope that during the NATO Summit, the new members would be welcomed, at least, and the NATO ‘Open Door Policy’ would be confirmed, but of course, this is up to each and every member state that they can also influence the process,” he said. The decisions by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO was a major shift prompted by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Read more: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Friday with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba "to discuss continued U.S. security assistance to Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war," according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.  "The Secretary and Foreign Minister Kuleba shared updates on efforts to resolve the global food security crisis caused by President Putin’s invasion, noting that the Kremlin continues to weaponize food and spread false claims about US sanctions," according to a statement from Price. This was their second call this week after speaking on Tuesday.  Kuleba said on Twitter that he and Blinken discussed Ukraine's urgent need for supplies of heavy weaponry as well. "I value his personal efforts to ensure a sustained U.S. and global support for Ukraine. Heavy weapons on top of our agenda, and more are coming our way. Ukraine and the U.S. work hand in hand to deliver our food exports despite Russia’s reckless blockade," Kuleba tweeted. Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer that an exchange of prisoners will take place between Russia and Ukraine.  The two leaders discussed the possibilities for prisoner exchanges during a 45-minute phone call on Friday, according to a statement of the call from the Austrian Chancellery.  According to the chancellery, Putin "assured" the Austrian leader "that the efforts towards a prisoner of war exchange will be intensified," adding that he was "optimistic that such an exchange would be possible again soon." Putin also told Nehammer that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will "have free access to prisoners of war," asking for this access to also be granted to Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine.  The Russian leader provided his Austrian counterpart with "an assessment of the situation the context of the ongoing special military operation to protect Donbas," the Kremlin said in a readout of the call, using a standard euphemism to refer to the invasion of Ukraine.  They also discussed efforts to "ensure the safety of navigation in the waters of the Azov and Black Seas," the Kremlin said.  "A thorough exchange of views was held on issues related to global food security. Vladimir Putin emphasized that attempts to make Russia responsible for the difficulties with the supply of agricultural products to world markets are groundless," according to the Kremlin.  The Austrian Chancellery added that Nehammer did receive "positive signals" from Putin that a solution will be found to allow the export of Ukrainian goods through the seaports of the Black Sea.  During the call, Russia's "commitment to comply with contractual obligations on natural gas supplies to Austria was reaffirmed," the Kremlin said.  Ukraine's military said the Russians are trying to repair damaged railway lines inside northern Ukraine to sustain their supply routes. In an update posted Friday, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said that "in order to improve the logistics of its troops, the enemy is trying to restore the damaged railway.  "In particular, in the temporarily occupied territories of Kharkiv region, the occupiers are involving units of 29 separate railway brigades from Smolensk with special machinery and equipment for the repair of railway infrastructure," the update said. The railway from Russia into the Kharkiv region and south to Izium is a critical supply line for the Russian offensive. Elsewhere, the General Staff reported further heavy fire by Russian forces as they try to develop an offensive on Sloviansk, a city in Donetsk region, the update said. Russian assault operations were underway in several settlements around the city of Severodonetsk, where Ukrainian defenses have been under constant bombardment. The updated added that Russian forces were also trying to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines from Bakhmut that support front-line troops in the Severodonetsk area but that their assaults on three settlements had been unsuccessful. The Ukrainian air force says one of its planes shot down a Russian Su-35 fighter over the southern region of Kherson on Friday. It posted on Facebook that "at about 2 pm, a MiG-29 fighter of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine shot down a Russian Su-35 fighter in the sky over Kherson region." While the Ukrainian air force contingent of Mig-29 fighters is aging, the arrival of spare parts from other countries allowed it to field more of the combat jets than it had before the Russian invasion, according to US officials.  The Russian Ministry of Defense regularly claims that Ukrainian combat planes have been shot down, and the Ukrainian air force's current combat capability is difficult to gauge. The Su-35 is a more capable and modern aircraft but the Russian air force has suffered some attrition of its fleet since the invasion began.  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said nearly half of Ukraine’s grain export supply is currently held up as Russia continues to block the country’s main export routes through the Black Sea and Azov Sea, calling the situation a potential “catastrophe” for global food security. Addressing an Indonesian foreign policy think tank in an online forum Friday, Zelensky said, “22 million tons of grain are kept in silos today. We cannot supply them to international markets where they are needed at this very point in time." The Ukrainian president also said the UN estimates that famine might affect additional 50 million people this year were a “conservative” estimate, implying that the number of those affected will be greater.  “Famine doesn’t come alone, it is always accompanied by political chaos that exacerbates the situation, ruins people’s lives, creating unsafe conditions for ordinary people," he said. "In July, when many countries will exhaust their stock of last year’s harvest, it will become obvious the catastrophe is truly coming." The Ukrainian president also accepted an invitation to attend G20 Summit in Indonesia in November. He urged the hosts to include “only friendly nations,” implying Russia should be excluded from the summit in Bali. About 90% of the city's housing stock had been damaged amid a "fierce defense" of the town, a local military official in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk said Friday. The city "held out through the night" under heavy Russian attack, Oleksandr Striuk, the head of the Severodonetsk military administration, said in a radio interview. But he acknowledged that Russian forces were continuing to press the offensive. "Yesterday the fighting took place at the entrance to the city," he said. "Our military managed to stop the vanguard of the Orcs [a pejorative Ukrainian term for Russian troops] who were trying to break into the city. Severodonetsk is in fierce defense. The enemy is located on two-thirds of the city's perimeter, but the city is not surrounded." The city had seen widespread destruction, Striuk said.  "The Azot (Nitrogen) chemical plant is being shelled," he said. "There are dead among the civilian population and among employees of the enterprise. Ninety percent of the housing stock is damaged, 60% will have to be rebuilt." Striuk said a Russian force that entered a hotel on the north of the city was expelled by Ukrainian forces, a claim that could not be immediately verified. Ukrainian officials previously said the hotel was not under their control.  Russian forces are intensifying attacks in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses — which Ukrainian officials admit are outnumbered and outgunned. Meanwhile, in a new report, legal experts accuse Russia of inciting genocide and intending to "destroy" Ukrainian people. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine: Frozen negotiations: Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are currently frozen, the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday, as he accused Kyiv of making “contradictory” statements that Moscow does not understand. Report accuses Russia of genocide: Russia's actions in Ukraine provide enough evidence to conclude that Moscow is inciting genocide and committing atrocities intended to destroy the Ukrainian people, according to an independent legal report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts. UK calls for more military support: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was making "slow" but "palpable" progress in the Donbas and urged more military support for Ukraine, such as the provision of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. No agreement on maritime corridors: A Ukrainian official said that "maritime humanitarian corridors" announced earlier this week by the Russian military had not been agreed by Ukraine and accused Russia of trying to shift blame on Ukraine for a global food crisis in "another lie." Heavy fighting in Luhansk: Ukrainian officials reported continued heavy fighting in the Luhansk region, with a local military chief describing "fierce battles" for the city of Severodonetsk. Officials also described heavy shelling around Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk, saying Russian forces had set the police station in Lysychansk on fire and damaged about 50 buildings in the area. Russian bombardment: Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday acknowledged that Russian troops have made further advances in the eastern Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials say that in recent days, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. Several officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places. Deadly attacks: Nine people were killed and 19 others injured in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" of residential areas, according to a Ukrainian military official. Ukrainian forces were "holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city," the official said. Removed to Russia: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence — an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed. ##Catch Up## Russian President Vladimir Putin says his government is continuing to implement measures to tackle the sanctions imposed on Moscow by “unfriendly countries.” “The government of Russia is taking prompt decisions to ensure stable functioning of the market and financial sector,” he told the Eurasian leaders during a virtual meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on Friday. “We’re working on increasing access to finance, to support working capital and liquidity.”  Russia had begun asking countries to pay for oil and gas shipments in rubles, but Putin says that policy will be reversed for some partners. “We are extending the practice of payments in the national currencies for those countries that have proven themselves as reliable partners for Russia,” he said.  The Russian president went on to address the issue of food insecurity, which has come to the fore because Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the Europe’s largest grain producers.  “Russia and other members of our organization are behaving most responsibly,” he said, adding that Eurasian countries were fully self-sufficient when it came to these products.  Putin went on to say that interest in the Eurasian Economic Union was on the rise “despite the complex international situation, unleashed by the so-called collective West, with its confrontation.” “To Russia, deepening relations with all Eurasian partners is very important,” he said.  The Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting took place on the second day of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) forum held in Kyrgyzstan. A Ukrainian official said Friday that "maritime humanitarian corridors" announced earlier this week by the Russian military had not been agreed by Ukraine and accused Russia of trying to shift blame on Ukraine for a global food crisis. Serhii Bratchuk, spokesman for the Operational Staff of the Odesa regional administration, said an announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defense of safe lanes for ships were "attempts to create an informational alibi for Russia." "So this is just another lie of Russia and an attempt to blame Ukraine in creating a food crisis," he said. Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports has contributed to global grain shortages. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi discussed the global food security issue in a phone call Thursday, according to readouts of the call from both governments. According to the Kremlin, Putin said Russia was ready to take steps to mitigate the crisis by allowing export of grain and fertilizers if the West lifts what Russia calls "politically motivated" sanctions. Earlier this week, the Russian military claimed it would open two "maritime humanitarian corridors" -- one from the direction of the Ukrainian ports of Kherson, Mykolaiv, Chornomorsk, Ochakiv, Odesa and Pivdennyi (Yuzhny) and another from the port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea. In his call with Draghi, Putin claimed the operation of those corridors was "hindered by the Ukrainian side," the Kremlin said. Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the nominee to be the next top US general overseeing the US military presence in Europe, told lawmakers Thursday that grain shortages were “being felt on the African continent." UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Thursday that Putin is "weaponizing hunger and lack of food amongst the poorest people around the world." Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are currently frozen, the Kremlin said Friday, as it accused Kyiv of making “contradictory” statements that Moscow does not understand. “The negotiations are frozen by the decision of the Ukrainian side,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a regular conference call. “In general, the leadership of Ukraine constantly makes statements that contradict each other. This does not allow us to fully understand what the Ukrainian side wants,” Peskov added. On Thursday, Peskov said Moscow expects Kyiv to accept the status quo and meet its territorial demands, following remarks by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that appeared to suggest Ukraine has to agree to give up Crimea and much of the Donbas region to Russia. In an interview last week with Reuters, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak ruled out agreeing to a ceasefire with Russia and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has compared Kissinger's statements to appeasement of Nazi Germany in 1938.  UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was making "slow" but "palpable" progress in the Donbas and urged more military support for Ukraine, such as the provision of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. “I think it’s very, very important that we do not get lulled because of the incredible heroism of the Ukrainians in pushing the Russians back from the gates of Kyiv," Johnson said in an interview with Bloomberg. “I’m afraid that Putin at great cost to himself and to (the) Russian military is continuing to chew through ground in Donbas, he’s continuing to make gradual, slow but I’m afraid palpable progress," he added. Johnson stressed that therefore "it is absolutely vital" to continue to support the Ukrainians militarily. "What they need now is the type of rocketry, a Multiple Launch Rocket System, MLRS, that will enable them to defend themselves against this very brutal Russian artillery, and that's where the world needs to go now," he said. Johnson also warned of the dangers of negotiating with Putin, and compared him to a crocodile. "How can you deal with a crocodile when it's in the middle of eating your left leg?" Johnson told Bloomberg TV. "[Putin] will try to freeze the conflict. He will try and call for a ceasefire while he remains in possession of substantial parts of Ukraine." Russian forces are intensifying attacks in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses — which Ukrainian officials admit are outnumbered and outgunned. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine: Report accuses Russia of genocide: Russia's actions in Ukraine provide enough evidence to conclude that Moscow is inciting genocide and committing atrocities intended to destroy the Ukrainian people, according to an independent legal report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts. Heavy fighting in Luhansk: Ukrainian officials reported continued heavy fighting in the Luhansk region, with a local military chief describing "fierce battles" for the city of Severodonetsk. Officials also described heavy shelling around Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk, saying Russian forces had set the police station in Lysychansk on fire and damaged about 50 buildings in the area. Russian bombardment: Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday acknowledged that Russian troops have made further advances in the eastern Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials say that in recent days, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. Several officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places. Deadly attacks: Nine people were killed and 19 others injured in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" of residential areas, according to a Ukrainian military official. Ukrainian forces were "holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city," the official said. Removed to Russia: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence — an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed. US weapons supplies: The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say. The White House is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance, which could be announced as soon as next week. War crimes trial: Two captured Russian soldiers pleaded guilty in a court in central Ukraine on Thursday to "violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy." Oleksandr Bobykin and Oleksandr Ivanov are accused of firing rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region toward Kharkiv on Feb. 24. Oil price spikes: Brent crude oil climbed on Thursday to more than $117 a barrel — the highest level since late March — signaling more pain for drivers. Investors are watching nervously as European officials attempt to reach an agreement on phasing out Russian oil, a step that would further scramble energy flows. ##Catch Up## Ukrainian officials on Friday reported continued heavy fighting in the Luhansk region, with a local military chief describing "fierce battles" for the city of Severodonetsk. In televised remarks, Oleksandr Striuk, head of the Severodonetsk city military administration, said: "There have been fierce battles for the city. We have a hot spot, the Mir hotel. On May 26 [Thursday], an enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group entered the Mir Hotel. The [Ukrainian] Armed Forces resisted." A pro-Russian Telegram channel said Russian forces had entered the hotel, which is in the north of Severodonetsk, and that street fighting was underway. Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said a Ukrainian operation to retake the hotel was underway on Friday, but added: "We are not yet in control of the hotel. But we are working to drive out the ruscists [Russian fascists]." Hayday also described heavy shelling around Severodonetsk and neighboring Lysychansk as Russian forces pushed from the direction of the towns of Purdivka and Shchedryshchevo, saying it had set the police station in Lysychansk on fire and damaged about 50 buildings in the area. "Residents of Severodonetsk have already forgotten what it is like when the city is silent for at least half an hour," Hayday said. "Russians are harassing residential neighborhoods continuously. On May 26, four residents of Severodonetsk were killed by enemy shells in the old districts of the city. Two of them died at the same time near one high-rise building. There is damage to the housing stock; 11 apartment buildings and one private house damaged." Russia's actions in Ukraine provide enough evidence to conclude that Moscow is inciting genocide and committing atrocities intended to destroy the Ukrainian people, according to the first independent report into allegations of genocide in that country. The legal report, signed by more than 30 leading legal scholars and genocide experts, accuses the Russian state of violating several articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. It warns there is a serious and imminent risk of genocide in Ukraine, backing the accusations with a long list of evidence including examples of mass killings of civilians, forced deportations and dehumanizing anti-Ukrainian rhetoric used by top Russian officials. The report was put together by New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a US-based think tank, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights which is based in Canada, and is set to release on Friday, with the authors sending copies to parliaments, governments and international organizations around the world. An advance copy of the report has been shared exclusively with CNN. "We assembled top legal experts from around the globe who then examined all the evidence and they came to the conclusion that the Russian Federation bears responsibility for breaches of the Genocide Convention in Ukraine," Azeem Ibrahim of the New Lines Institute told CNN. Ibrahim visited Ukraine in March to gather evidence for the report. "This is a very thorough and detailed examination of extensive evidence," he said. "What we have seen so far is that this war is genocidal in its nature, in terms of the language being used and the manner in which it is being executed. That's very, very clear." Read more: Russian forces are intensifying attacks in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses — which Ukrainian officials admit are outnumbered and outgunned. Here's the latest on Russia's war in Ukraine: Russian bombardment: Ukraine's armed forces on Thursday acknowledged that Russian troops have made further advances in the eastern Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. Ukrainian officials say that in recent days, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. Several officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places. Deadly attacks: Nine people were killed and 19 others injured in the northeastern city of Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" of residential areas, according to a Ukrainian military official. Ukrainian forces were "holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city," the official said. Removed to Russia: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence — an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed. Genocide claims: Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine reflect "an obvious policy of genocide," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday. "The current offensive of the occupiers in Donbas can make the region uninhabited," he said. US weapons supplies: The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say. The White House is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance, which could be announced as soon as next week. War crimes trial: Two captured Russian soldiers pleaded guilty in a court in central Ukraine on Thursday to "violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy." Oleksandr Bobykin and Oleksandr Ivanov are accused of firing rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region toward Kharkiv on Feb. 24. Oil price spikes: Brent crude oil climbed on Thursday to more than $117 a barrel — the highest level since late March — signaling more pain for drivers. Investors are watching nervously as European officials attempt to reach an agreement on phasing out Russian oil, a step that would further scramble energy flows. Germany's gas pledge: Germany is working "flat out" to end its reliance on Russian gas imports, the country's Chancellor said Thursday, adding there was "no doubt" that both Berlin and the EU would end their dependence on energy imports from Moscow. ##Catch Up## Russia's intensified offensive in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region reflects "an obvious policy of genocide," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday. "The current offensive of the occupiers in Donbas can make the region uninhabited," Zelensky said. "They want to burn Popasna, Bakhmut, Lyman, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk to ashes. Like Volnovakha, like Mariupol." In cities closer to the Russian border like Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian forces "gather everyone they can to fill the place of those killed and wounded in the occupation contingent," Zelensky said. "All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia." Zelensky said putting pressure on Russia "is literally a matter of saving lives" and that every delay, dispute or proposal to "appease" Russia leads to "new killed Ukrainians" and new threats to everyone on the continent. Nine people, including a 5-month-old baby, were killed in Kharkiv on Thursday amid "dense shelling" on residential areas near the city center, according to Oleh Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration. Among those killed was “a family who was simply walking down the street — a man was holding his five-month-old baby in his hands, whom he died holding. (The) mother of this baby is severely wounded and is now in the hospital,” Synyehubov said. He also described the artillery used, and said the targeting of residential areas in Ukraine's second-largest city could only be for the purpose of “terrorizing” local residents. "The enemy shelled with MLRS SMERCH and URAGAN and with artillery, modification of which is being established now by our military experts. According to the available data. the shelling was conducted from the North of the oblast, where our troops are holding their positions and slowly pushing the enemy away to the borders. This was a solely residential area, so the aim of this shelling could only be terrorizing the local residents," he said.  The official added it was the Shevchenkivskyi and Kyivskyi districts of Kharkiv that were “densely shelled.” He said in addition to those killed, 19 were injured, among them a 9-year-old child. “As of now our armed forces holding their positions firmly and there is no question about possible seizure of Kharkiv city,” he said. The Biden administration is preparing to step up the kind of weaponry it is offering Ukraine by sending advanced, long-range rocket systems that are now the top request from Ukrainian officials, multiple officials say. The administration is leaning toward sending the systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week. Senior Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have pleaded in recent weeks for the US and its allies to provide the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS. The US-made weapon systems can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of kilometers — much farther than any of the systems Ukraine already has — which the Ukrainians argue could be a gamechanger in their war against Russia. Another system Ukraine has asked for is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS, a lighter wheeled system capable of firing many of the same types of ammunition as MLRS. Russia has in recent weeks pummeled Ukraine in the east, where Ukraine is outmanned and outgunned, Ukrainian officials have said. The Biden administration waivered for weeks, however, on whether to send the systems, amid concerns raised within the National Security Council that Ukraine could use the systems to carry out offensive attacks inside Russia, officials said. Read more: Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been processed through a series of Russian "filtration camps" in Eastern Ukraine and sent into Russia as part of a systemized program of forced removal, according to four sources familiar with the latest Western intelligence —  an estimate far higher than US officials have publicly disclosed. After being detained in camps operated by Russian intelligence officials, many Ukrainians are then forcibly relocated to economically depressed areas in Russia, in some cases thousands of miles from their homes, and often left with no means of returning, sources said. Although some Ukrainians have voluntarily entered filtration camps to try to escape the fighting by entering Russia, many have been picked up against their will at check points and in bomb shelters. After spending an average of around three weeks at the camps —  where sources and eyewitnesses say they are held in inhuman conditions, interrogated and sometimes tortured — some are sent across the border into Russia and given state documentation. Read more: Ukraine's armed forces have acknowledged that Russian forces have made further advances in the Donetsk region — capturing one district within 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) of the important town of Bakhmut. In an operational update Thursday, the armed forces' general staff said that while several Russian efforts to advance had been thwarted, "in the directions of Pokrovsky and Klynove, the enemy has partial success, capturing the village of Midna Ruda." Midna Ruda is some 10 miles (about 16 kilometers) southeast of Bakhmut, which has come under heavier artillery fire in the last week. Bakhmut is on a key resupply route for Ukrainian units on the frontlines, which would potentially be cut off by further Russian advances.  "In the Donetsk direction, the enemy is shelling our troops, launching missile strikes, conducting surveillance, and increasing air support," the general staff said. The general staff also said that other Russian efforts to push west towards the Donetsk region border had been repulsed. It said the Russians continued to bombard Ukrainian troops south of the town of Lyman, much of which fell into Russian hands Tuesday. Video Wednesday showed the Russian flag flying above the town's municipal offices.  Meanwhile, in the south: The general staff said that Russian units in the Zaporizhzhia region were being reinforced by Soviet-era T62 tanks, which appear to have been brought out of storage. Separately, the Ukrainian military released video and quotes from soldiers operating the US M777 howitzers. They praise its accuracy and range, with one saying, "The enemy feels the effectiveness of our artillery every day and every hour. We are doing everything possible and impossible to suppress and eliminate the enemy and give our infantry a chance for a counteroffensive to liberate our territories." CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko contributed reporting to this post. Russian forces are applying a wide array of weapons across several fronts in eastern Ukraine as they try to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses, which are outnumbered and outgunned, according to Ukrainian officials. Several of those officials describe the situation as "very difficult" and admit Ukrainian units may have to fall back in some places. In recent days, Ukrainian officials say, the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a remorseless bombardment of towns and cities in Luhansk and Donetsk regions still under Ukrainian control. The National Police of Ukraine said that civilians were killed in attacks on 13 settlements in Donetsk, with several towns not previously targeted suffering damage. Russian forces seem to be broadening the number of towns they are shelling as they try to destroy Ukrainian defenses and supply lines.  Their chief objective appears to be taking Sloviansk, which has seen an increase in shelling in recent days. Mayor Vadym Liakh said half the city is now without water, and there will be "no gas supply until the heating season." A growing number of Ukrainian officials describe the military situation in dire terms, although Russian advances on the ground have been modest. Fedir Venislavskyi, a member of Ukraine's parliament who is on the National Security Committee, described the situation as "difficult." He told Ukrainian television that "the hottest spots are Severodonetsk and Lysychansk. The enemy is trying to encircle our troops."   The twin cities in Luhansk are almost entirely destroyed, but Ukrainian troops are still present. Nearly 15,000 civilians are estimated still to be in Severodonetsk. Two captured Russian soldiers pleaded guilty in Kotelevsky court in Ukraine’s Poltava region on Thursday to “violating laws and customs of war conducted with preliminary group conspiracy.” Oleksandr Bobykin and Oleksandr Ivanov are accused of firing Grad rockets from Russia’s Belgorod region towards Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Feb. 24. According to the case details made public on the court website, the men fired artillery and damaged “objects of civil and critical infrastructure, including private homes” in Kazacha Lopan and Veterynrne in the Kharkiv region. The soldiers were captured by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region, according to the court memos.  The court is due to deliver a verdict on May 31.
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