News Wrap: Russia bombards eastern Ukraine, seeks concessions on land

In our news wrap Thursday, Russia insisted that Ukraine accept its demands on land as Russian fire pounded eastern Ukraine, the Biden administration called for a bloc of nations confronting Russian aggression to join in challenging China, China’s top diplomat tours eight Pacific island nations, ousted Pakistan prime minister demands new election, and actor Ray Liotta of "Goodfellas" fame has died.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Russia insisted that Ukraine understand — quote — "the real situation" and accept Moscow's demands.

    Those includes ceding swathes of land. In Eastern Ukraine, Russian fire pounded dozens of towns, leaving debris and smashed homes. Ukrainian officials conceded their troops face an extremely difficult time.

  • Hanna Mailiar, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister (through translator):

    As of today, the aggressor conducts intensified fire along the whole line of contact and the positions of our forces in the Donetsk operational region.

    The situation is difficult, and there are signs of escalation. The enemy has used all resources to capture our territory and surround our forces.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Separately, Russia's President Putin suggested that his naval blockade of Ukraine's ports could ease if Western sanctions are lifted. The blockade has largely stopped Ukraine's grain exports.

    The Biden administration called today for the bloc of nations confronting Russian aggression to join in challenging China. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Beijing's aggressive moves abroad and increased repression at home. He said China poses an even greater danger to global order than Russia does.

    Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State: While our policy has not changed, what has changed is Beijing's growing coercion, like trying to cut off Taiwan's relations with countries around the world and blocking it from participating in international organizations. And Beijing has engaged in increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    At the same time, Blinken said the U.S. is ready to work with China on climate change and other issues.

    Meanwhile, China's top diplomat began a tour of eight Pacific island nations. It came amid growing concerns over Beijing's spreading military and financial influence in the region. The Chinese foreign minister led a large delegation to their first stop, the Solomon Islands. The two nations have signed a sweeping new security pact.

    The ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan called off a mass sit-in outside Parliament today. Thousands of protesters had clashed with police in Islamabad, calling for the new government to resign. Khan demanded new elections or warned that he'd be back with three million support.

  • Imran Khan, Former Pakistani Prime Minister (through translator):

    I am giving the government six days to announce a new election date. Announce election dates in the month of June. Dissolve assemblies. If you do not, then I will come back to Islamabad with all of my men.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif signaled that he's open to talking with Khan, but he said any decision about elections has to be made by the Parliament.

    Back in this country, a state appeals court in New York ruled that former President Trump must answer question under oath in a civil probe of his financial dealings. His son Donald Jr. and daughter Ivanka are included in the order first issued by a lower court. Mr. Trump could still appeal to the state's highest court. He also still faces a parallel criminal investigation.

    New census estimates show that eight of the 10 largest American cities lost population in the first year of the pandemic. New York dropped by more than 300,000 people. And Los Angeles and Chicago also made the list. San Francisco lost more than 6 percent of its pre-pandemic population, the largest rate of decline.

    On Wall Street, strong earnings reports from retailers gave stocks a boost. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 517 points, more than 1.5 percent, to close 32637. The Nasdaq rose 306 points. That's more than 2.5 percent. The S&P 500 added 79. That's 2 percent.

    And actor Ray Liotta, best known for his roles in "Goodfellas" and "Field of Dreams," has died. His publicist says that he passed away in his sleep overnight in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming a movie. Ray Liotta was 67 years old.

    Still to come on the "NewsHour": why North Korea conducted missile tests shortly after President Biden's trip to Asia; and the first Black winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture explains his innovative work.

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