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West Ham donate to nine animal charities after Kurt Zouma’s fine for kicking cat

West Ham have made donations to nine animal welfare charities following the club fine handed out to Kurt Zouma for kicking his pet cat.

France defender Zouma faced a public outcry and was subsequently charged by the RSPCA after footage emerged last month of him kicking and slapping the cat.

Zouma’s two cats were confiscated by the RSPCA while West Ham fined the 27-year-old the maximum two weeks’ wages, believed to be around £250,000.

Zouma and the club also lost sponsorship deals following the appalling incident, while the player has been jeered by opposition fans ever since.

But the Hammers have now confirmed that “significant payments” have been made to nine animal charities at home and abroad.

Liverpool v West Ham United – Premier League – Anfield
Liverpool fans taunted Zouma with an inflatable cat (Peter Byrne/PA)

The club said: “West Ham United is pleased to confirm that financial donations have been made to a number of animal welfare charities following the club fine handed to Kurt Zouma.

“A total of nine organisations, supporting the care and wellbeing of animals both in the United Kingdom and internationally, have been identified to receive significant payments which will go towards supporting the fantastic work they do.”

The charities include Cats Protection, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which is currently providing support to animal shelters operating in war-torn Ukraine.

The club added: “West Ham United would like to thank everyone who contacted the club to propose animal welfare charities and good causes, along with our supporters who have been involved in the process of identifying those who have received financial support, ensuring that a huge positive has come from something negative.”

NHS Lanarkshire: Patients urged to stay away from A&E as health board faces pressures


A health board is urging people not to attend its accident and emergency departments unless their condition is urgent or life-threatening as its hospitals face “relentless” pressures.

NHS Lanarkshire said its three acute hospital sites are beyond full with capacity regularly at over 100%, and the situation is not easing.

The number of Covid patients in hospitals in the area reached record levels this week and is continuing to rise.

NHS Lanarkshire’s executive medical director Dr Jane Burns said this is putting pressure on services with many patients waiting several hours to be seen in emergency departments, and urged people to consider whether A&E is the best place for them to seek healthcare.

It comes after NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde this week urged people not to attend accident and emergency departments unless their condition is “urgent or life-threatening” amid significant pressures.

READ MORE: Hospital cases continue record-breaking trend

The hospitals affected are University Hospital Hairmyres, University Hospital Monklands and University Hospital Wishaw

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Dr Burns said: “There are a number of reasons for the current relentless pressures on Lanarkshire hospitals but primarily it is the number of patients requiring treatment both with and without Covid.

“Our three acute hospital sites are beyond full with capacity regularly over 100%. This has been the case for a number of weeks and the situation is not easing. In fact, this week hospitals across Scotland including Lanarkshire have seen a record number of Covid patients.

“Unfortunately, this is resulting in many patients in our emergency departments waiting well in excess of our target of four hours for a condition that could have been treated by another healthcare service. It is also putting pressure on how quickly we can admit patients who require emergency care.

“The rising Covid number is also having a severe knock-on effect to our staff. We have high staff absences due to Covid and self-isolation which is resulting in challenges across all our health services and our staff are struggling to cope.”

READ MORE: Dr Gray’s hospital ‘under significant pressure’ amid norovirus outbreak

She urged people to think of alternatives to the emergency department if their condition is not critical or life-threatening.

Other services include minor injuries units, their local GP or pharmacy or a call to NHS 24 on 111, day or night.

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University Hospital Hairmyres

Dr Burns added: “If someone does have to come to one of our emergency departments, they need to be prepared to face long waits to be seen, in some instances several hours.

“This can lead to patients getting frustrated with our staff but we ask that people be patient and be kind and considerate to our staff.

“We are working extremely hard in very difficult circumstances to do the very best we can for each and every one of our patients.”

Latest official figures this week showed that the number of people waiting more than four, eight and 12 hours at Scotland’s emergency departments has hit its highest recorded level.

Commenting on the figures, the Scottish Government said: “Unfortunately, the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has now reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic and this rise in recent weeks has inevitably had an impact on services like A&E.”





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North Sea giant EnQuest cashes in on surging oil prices

ENQUEST has highlighted a huge boost to its cash generation from the soaring price of oil and gas as the energy giant returned to the black in its latest financial year, sending its share price up seven per cent.

The North Sea player said it generated nearly $400 million ($396.8m) of free cash flow in the year ended December 31, up 88.5 per cent on 2020, on the back of oil prices lifted higher by resurgent demand as economies reopened after lockdowns. The price of oil has continued to rise since Russia invaded Ukraine one month ago, and was trading at around $121 per barrel last night. Oil prices dropped below $10 per barrel after economies around the world moved into lockdown in March 2020.

EnQuest said higher prices had helped boost its revenue by 54.4% to $1.32 billion, allowing it to offset a fall in production, which dipped to 44,415 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 59,116 boepd the year before. The company made a profit after tax of $377m for the year, following a loss of $469.9m in 2020.

EnQuest highlighted a strong performance by the giant Kraken field and a contribution from Golden Eagle, in which it completed the acquisition of a 26.69% stake for an initial $325m last year. This was offset by outages at the Magnus field, planned maintenance, a subsea power umbilical failure at the Greater Kittiwake Area, and expected natural declines across the portfolio. GKA comprises five offshore oil fields: Kittiwake, Mallard, Gadwall, Goosander and Grouse.

The company said yesterday that it expects net production for 2022 to be in the region of 44,000 and 51,000 boepd, noting that production in the year to February had averaged 54,408 boepd.

EnQuest made three acquisitions last year, adding stakes in the Bressay and Bentley fields to the portfolio, as well as the interest in Golden Eagle. The company acquired a 40.81% and operatorship in the Bressay oil field, and completed the purchase of a 100% equity interest in the Bentley heavy oil field.

The company said it had cut its net debt to $1.22 billion by year-end, its lowest level since 2014, and has continued to chip away at its borrowings this year.

“We have also started 2022 well, with production to the end of February averaging 50,408 boepd, towards the top end of our full year guidance range,” said Amjad Bseisu, chief executive of EnQuest. “We have also continued to reduce our net debt, down to $1.09bn at the end of February, in line with our strategic priorities. With a supportive oil price environment and an active programme of nine wells and seven workovers in 2022, our largest sanctioned programme since 2014 and our first new wells in over two years, we remain confident on delivering a good performance this year.”

Mr Bseisu added: “The acquisition of Golden Eagle has strengthened our portfolio, building on our track record of value creation through innovative, disciplined M&A (mergers and acquisitions). The acquisitions of Bressay and Bentley have added almost 250 MMboe of 2C resources, adding to those already in place at Magnus, Kraken, PM8/Seligi and PM409, providing EnQuest with longer-term potential development opportunities.

“We remain focused on continuing to reduce our net debt while selectively investing in our low-cost, quick payback well portfolio in order to sustain our production base.

“EnQuest’s business is strongly positioned to play an important role in the energy transition. We will do so by responsibly optimising production, leveraging existing infrastructure, delivering decommissioning and exploring new energy and decarbonisation opportunities.”

EnQuest said chief financial officer Jonathan Swinney would be leaving to join Tullow Oil. He will be replaced by Salaman Malik, currently managing director for corporate development, infrastructure and new energy.

Shares closed up 2.05p at 31.25p.

EU agrees rules to curb power of big tech companies

The European Union has set the stage for a crackdown on big tech companies with an agreement on landmark digital rules to rein in online “gatekeepers” such as Google and Facebook parent Meta.

EU officials agreed late on Thursday on wording for the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), part of a long-awaited overhaul of its digital rulebook.

The act, which still needs other approvals, seeks to prevent tech giants from dominating digital markets, with the threat of whopping fines or even the possibility of a company break-up.

For instance, they face tighter restrictions on using people’s data for targeted online ads – a primary source of revenue for the likes of Google and Facebook. And different messaging services or social media platforms will be required to work together.

The new rules underscore how Europe has become a global pacesetter in efforts to curb the power of tech companies through anti-trust investigations, stringent regulations on data privacy and proposed rules for areas like artificial intelligence.

“What we have been deciding about yesterday will start a new era in tech regulation,” European Union lawmaker Andreas Schwab said at a press conference on Friday.

The European Consumer Organisation, or BEUC, welcomed the agreement, saying it would help consumers by creating fairer and more competitive digital markets.

Tech companies were less enthusiastic.

Apple said it was concerned that parts of the Digital Markets Act “will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for our users while others will prohibit us from charging for intellectual property in which we invest a great deal”.

Google said it will study the text and work with regulators to implement it.

“While we support many of the DMA’s ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, we remain concerned that some of the rules could reduce innovation and the choice available to Europeans,” the company said.

Amazon said it is reviewing what the rules mean for its customers. Facebook did not reply to a request for comment.

The Digital Markets Act includes a number of eye-catching measures that could shake up the way big tech companies operate.

Companies would not be allowed to rank their own products or services higher than those of others in online search results or reuse data collected from different services.

A user’s personal data cannot be combined for targeted ads unless “explicit consent” is given.

Messaging services and social media platforms must work with each other to avoid the domination of a few companies that have already established big networks of users.

That opens up the possibility, for example, of Telegram or Signal users being able to exchange messages with WhatsApp users.

Criteria for defining a gatekeeper have been tweaked to include companies that earn at least 7.5 billion euros in annual revenue in Europe in the past three years, have a market value of 75 billion euros, provide services in at least three EU countries, and have 45 million users and 10,000 business users each year in the bloc.

Violations could be punished with whopping fines – up to 10% of a company’s annual income. For a repeat offence, a fine of up to 20% of its worldwide turnover may be imposed. That could work out to billions of dollars for wealthy Silicon Valley companies.

Negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council, which represents the 27 EU member countries, reached the deal after months of talks. It now needs to be endorsed by the Council and the European Parliament.

Sir David Amess murder suspect likened response to ‘Little Britain episode’

An alleged terrorist laughingly likened his response to killing Sir David Amess to “a Little Britain episode”, a court has heard.

Ali Harbi Ali, 26, stabbed the veteran Conversative MP 21 times after attending an appointment at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15 last year, the Old Bailey has heard.

He allegedly waved the bloody 12-inch long knife before being apprehended by two unarmed police officers.

On Friday, jurors at the Old Bailey watched videos of Ali’s police interviews in which he laughingly likened his comments to a television comedy.

In an initial urgent interview, Ali confirmed it was a “terror attack”, saying: “I mean, I guess yeah, I killed an MP. I done it, so yeah.”

He told police no-one else was involved or knew what he was planning.

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In the next interview on October 16, Ali was reminded by Pc Jody Grogan of what he had said.

Ali responded: “Oh God, I sound stupid there.

“Nah, I just… the way I worded it. (chuckles) It sounds like a Little Britain episode. Um, I just… yeah, it sounded like what a terrorist act is.

“I went into an MP’s surgery and I killed him, so with the idea of vengeance in a way, so I will guess we’ll get into that a little bit later on.”

Ali described his previous ambition was to study medicine but by 2014 he said: “I pretty much already radicalised myself.”

He said he dropped out of university “to focus on whether or not I was going to make Hijrah (travel), which was my preference, or to carry out an act of domestic terrorism”.

By 2019, he had decided against going to Syria but 2020 was a “write-off year” because of coronavirus, he said.

He told police he “just ran out of excuses” after seeing there were a “lot of attacks up and down the country”.

He described targeting an MP because they were “accessible” and “numerous”.

On the attack on Sir David, he said: “I felt like one minute I was sat down at the table talking to him and the next he was, sort of, dead.

“But, yeah, it’s probably one of the strangest days… of my life now, y’know?”

He told police Sir David “knew straight away something was up” when he sat down for his meeting.

He said the MP thought it was “a sting” from the Labour Party and asked if he was being recorded.

Ali added: “Brass Eye, they did a thing on him, like, 14 years ago.”

Ali described stabbing Sir David repeatedly, saying: “The finisher was probably on his neck over here – at his jugular because when I pierced it, dark red blood came out.”

Afterwards, Ali said he had Sir David’s blood on his fingernails and jacket.

“That seems a bit, I don’t know, satanical almost it’s weird… Obviously I’ve killed someone… There’s no doubt about that but it still doesn’t feel like it.

“Maybe it’s because I feel justified in what I’ve done.”

He said most of his worry was for how his family would be affected.

“The only reason I dropped the knife in front of the police officer was ‘cos my sister was on the phone crying her eyes out.

“It was an intense situation.”

Asked if he thought he had done a “good deed”, he said: “If I didn’t believe it was a good deed I wouldn’t do it.”

He said he did not choose Sir David because he was a Conservative, but because of a vote on air strikes on Syria in 2015.

“It wasn’t just him – I went to Mike Freer’s surgery in Finchley.”

He also looked at pictures of Michael Gove’s house in west London, saying he would “probably be the easiest one to get to”.

He said: “The reason why I started going to Parliament in the end was because he (Mr Gove) broke up with his wife so (the) house got sold, he found a new place, and that felt like the closing of a door.”

Ali, from Kentish Town, north London, has denied murder and preparation for terrorist acts.

Owen Coyle confirmed as new Queen’s Park boss as Spiders hope aim to secure promotion

QUEEN’S PARK have announced that Owen Coyle will officially become their new manager from June 1.

The experienced coach has managed in Scotland, England, the USA and most recently in the Indian Super League. For the past two seasons, Coyle has managed Jamshedpur, leading them this season to their first honour, the Indian Super League Shield.

Highlights from his career in football management also include taking Burnley into the English Premier League.

Coyle will take up his new coaching role with the Spiders currently sitting in the play-off positions and challenging to get into the SPFL Championship next season.

Coyle said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at a wonderful club in the Indian Super League, but it was time for me to come home and I am delighted to be joining an ambitious, progressive club in Queen’s Park.

“The Club’s ambitions are really exciting, and the structure being put into place was enormously appealing to me. We have some terrific talent at the Club, and we will be looking to attract and develop more, so the challenge for me is one I look forward to.”

Queen’s Park chief executive Leeann Dempster continued: “First of all, we’d like to thank Jamshedpur for the generous way they have behaved throughout our talks. With their agreement, and although he doesn’t officially start till June 1, Owen will be able to help us prepare our teams for the final few games of the season.

“We are excited to have secured a Head Coach of Owen’s experience and expertise. He has grown up in the Scottish game, as both player and coach, but has also added considerable international experience and brings all that wealth of knowledge to our club as we continue our journey to building a unique club that makes fans proud on and off the pitch.”

Coyle will work closely with director of football operations Marijn Beuker, who joined the club from Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar earlier this season.

Beuker added: “We have taken the time to find a suitable candidate, matching our desired profile. With 19 seasons as head coach in different countries, Owen has a wealth of experience and knows what winning looks like. Owen is a coach who believes in developing talent and creating a close-knit group. He’s a fantastic fit for us and I’m confident he’ll help the first team push on.

“Owen’s arrival also ensures that we can now continue to focus on composing the player group for next season and further growing our Academy and scouting organisation.”

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever case discovered in UK



A woman has been diagnosed in the UK with Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever following travel to Central Asia, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease usually transmitted by ticks and livestock animals in countries where the disease is endemic.

The woman was diagnosed at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is receiving specialist care at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UKHSA, said the virus “does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the public is very low”.

It is the third known case of the fever in the UK, with prior cases reported in 2012 and 2014, both of which did not spread.

According to the World Health Organisation, around 30% of patients die, usually in the second week of infection.

In patients who recover, improvement generally begins on the ninth or 10th day after the onset of illness.

Symptoms of the virus come on suddenly and include fever, muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light.

People can also suffer nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.

Other signs include rash in the mouth and throat, fast heart rate and enlarged lymph nodes.

Dr Hopkins said the agency was working to contact people who have been in close contact with the woman to assess them and provide advice.

She added: “UKHSA and the NHS have well-established and robust infection control procedures for dealing with cases of imported infectious disease and these will be strictly followed.”

Dr Sir Michael Jacobs, consultant in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London, said: “The Royal Free Hospital is a specialist centre for treating patients with viral infections such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

“Our high-level isolation unit is run by an expert team of doctors, nurses, therapists and laboratory staff and is designed to ensure we can safely treat patients with these kind of infections.”

A type of tick known as Hyalomma tick is the main carrier of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

These are not established in the UK and the virus has never been detected in the UK in a tick.

Anyone visiting areas where the ticks are found should take protection, the UKHSA said.

This includes avoiding areas where ticks are abundant at times when they are active, using tick repellents and checking clothing and skin carefully for ticks.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the affected ticks are in North Africa and Asia and are also present in southern and eastern Europe, having been recorded in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain and Ukraine.





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Edinburgh council pilots ‘whole house retrofit’

A COUNCIL is set to spend around £128 million over the next 12 months as part of a move to improve council homes and build new affordable homes. 

Under the City of Edinburgh Council plans, improvements will be carried out to more than 3,000 council homes, making them greener, safer, and more accessible.

The investment plan will also drive forward the council’s house building strategy, supporting the development, build and supply of more sustainable and affordable new homes to address the city’s housing pressures and tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

The council aims to be one of the first local authorities in Scotland to pilot a “whole house retrofit” approach to support the council’s net zero carbon commitment.


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Kate Campbell, housing convener, said: “We’re really scaling up our efforts to improve the condition of people’s homes and driving forward our housebuilding programme, so that residents can have permanent homes that are energy efficient, safe and affordable.

“Our ambition has been to deliver 20,000 affordable new homes by 2027 and we’re well on the way to achieving that despite the pandemic and Brexit, which have been really challenging for construction.

“And now we’re having to navigate a cost-of-living crisis, so we have set a rent freeze for our tenants to support them through this. But, longer term, all the work we’re doing now to make homes much more sustainable will also help us to drive down fuel bills. The steps we’re taking to make better use of shared greenspaces is also important for tenants’ wellbeing.

“Our investment plan for the year ahead will make a big difference to our tenants, both their quality of life in their homes, and to their cost of living.”

Mandy Watt, housing vice convener, said: “There are huge pressures on housing in Edinburgh and those on low incomes continue to be the most affected by high rents and high bills. Housebuilding has a role to play in providing more affordable and energy efficient homes, and to help us meet the city’s growing demand for accommodation.

“While funding and land supply remain two key challenges, we’re doing a lot of work to maximise the number of homes we can deliver. But we’re also investing in existing homes and revolutionising housing to provide safer, warmer, and more enjoyable places to live.”


Chromacity seals new partnership to boost sales in France

Scottish laser manufacturer Chromacity has signed an agreement to boost sales of its “ultrafast” technology to industrial organisations in France.

Under the deal with Tematys, the French-based photonics expert will match the requirements of organisations in that country with the technical capabilities of Chromacity’s lasers.


Oliver Jones: Outlook darkens for economy as Sunak takes cautious approach

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement offered up a handful of welcome announcements. But it didn’t fundamentally alter the fact that the outlook for the UK economy is darkening, with three headwinds likely to weigh on growth this year.

First, the cost-of-living squeeze caused by higher inflation is set to continue. Mr Sunak announced a few measures designed to ease the pain felt by households – most notably the 12-month cut in fuel duty of 5p per litre.


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North Korea says it test-fired biggest intercontinental ballistic missile

North Korea said it has test-fired its biggest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile under the orders of leader Kim Jong-un, who vowed to expand the North’s “nuclear war deterrent” while preparing for a “long-standing confrontation” with the United States.

The report by North Korean state media on Friday came a day after the militaries of South Korea and Japan said they detected the North launching an ICBM in its first long-range test since 2017.

The launch extended a barrage of weapons demonstrations this year that analysts say are aimed at forcing the US to accept the idea of North Korea as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions against its broken economy that has been further damaged by the pandemic.

The Hwasong-17, which was fired at a high angle to avoid the territorial waters of neighbours, reached a maximum altitude of 3,880 miles and travelled 680 miles during a 67-minute flight before landing in waters between North Korea and Japan, Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

KCNA claimed the launch met its technical objectives and proved the ICBM could be operated quickly during wartime conditions.

The South Korean and Japanese militaries had announced similar flight details, which analysts say suggested that the missile could reach targets 9,320 miles away when fired on normal trajectory with a warhead weighing less than a ton.

That would place the entire US mainland within striking distance.

Believed to be about 82ft long, the Hwasong-17 is the North’s longest-range weapon and, by some estimates, the world’s biggest road-mobile ballistic missile system.

North Korea revealed the missile in a military parade in October 2020 and Thursday’s launch was its first full-range test.

KCNA paraphrased Kim as saying that his new weapon would make the “whole world clearly aware” of the North’s bolstered nuclear forces.

He said his military would to acquire “formidable military and technical capabilities unperturbed by any military threat and blackmail and keep themselves fully ready for long-standing confrontation with the US imperialists”.

The agency published photos of the missile leaving a trail of orange flames as it soared from a launcher lorry on an airport runway near the capital, Pyongyang, and Kim smiling and clapping as he celebrated with military officials from an observation deck.

Other images showed Kim writing a memo ordering the Hwasong-17 test flight and approving the launch.

South Korea’s military responded to Thursday’s launch with live-fire drills of its own missiles launched from land, a fighter jet and a ship, underscoring a revival of tensions as diplomacy remains frozen.

It said it confirmed readiness to execute precision strikes against North Korea’s missile launch points as well as command and support facilities.

US secretary of defence Lloyd J. Austin held separate telephone conversations with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan where they discussed response measures to North Korean missile activities and vowed to strengthen defence co-operation, the US defence department said.

North Korea’s resumption of nuclear brinkmanship reflects a determination to cement its status as a nuclear power and wrest economic concessions from Washington and others from a position of strength, analysts say.

‘300 killed’ in Russian air strike on theatre sheltering civilians

About 300 people died in a Russian air strike last week on a theatre being used as a bomb shelter in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city’s government has said.

When the theatre was struck on March 16, an enormous inscription reading “Children” was posted outside in Russian, intended to be visible from the skies above.

It was not clear whether emergency workers have finished excavating the site.

Soon after the air strike, Ludmyla Denisova, the Ukrainian Parliament’s human rights commissioner, said more than 1,300 people had been sheltering in the building.

Mariupol has suffered some of the worst devastation of the war, which has seen Russia relentlessly besiege and attack Ukraine’s cities.

The misery inside them is such that nearly anyone who can is trying to leave and those left behind face desperate food shortages in a country once known as the breadbasket for the world.

Unable to sweep with lightning speed into Kyiv, their apparent aim on February 24 when the Kremlin launched the war, Russian forces are instead raining down shells and missiles on cities from afar.

The outskirts of Kharkiv were shrouded by foggy smoke on Friday, with shelling constant since early in the morning.

In a city hospital, several wounded soldiers arrived, with bullet and shrapnel wounds, a day after doctors treated a dozen civilians. Even as doctors stabilised the direst case, the sound of shelling could be heard in the surgery ward.

Russia’s military claimed on Friday that it destroyed a massive Ukrainian fuel base used to supply the Kyiv region’s defences, with ships firing a salvo of cruise missiles, according to the Interfax news agency. Videos on social media showed an enormous fireball explosion near the capital.

Kyiv, like other cities, has seen its population dramatically reduced in the vast refugee crisis that has seen more than 10 million displaced and at least 3.5 million fleeing the country entirely.

In the capital, over 260 civilians have died and more than 80 buildings been destroyed since the start of the war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged his country to keep up its military defence and not stop “even for a minute”. He used his nightly video address on Thursday to rally Ukrainians to “move toward peace, move forward”.

“With every day of our defence, we are getting closer to the peace that we need so much. We can’t stop even for a minute, for every minute determines our fate, our future, whether we will live.”

He said thousands of people, including 128 children, died in the first month of the war. Across the country, 230 schools and 155 kindergartens have been destroyed. Cities and villages “lie in ashes”, he said.

At an emergency Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday, Mr Zelensky pleaded with the Western allies via video link for planes, tanks, rockets, air defence systems and other weapons, saying his country is “defending our common values”.

In a video address to EU leaders, meanwhile, Mr Zelensky thanked them for working together to support Ukraine and impose sanctions on Russia, including Germany’s decision to block Russia from delivering natural gas to Europe through the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

But he lamented that these steps were not taken earlier, saying there was a chance Russia would have thought twice about invading.

While millions of Ukrainians have fled west, Ukraine accused Moscow of forcibly removing hundreds of thousands of civilians from shattered cities to Russia to pressure Kyiv to give up.

Lyudmyla Denisova, Ukraine’s ombudsperson, said 402,000 people, including 84,000 children, had been taken against their will into Russia, where some may be used as “hostages” to pressure Kyiv to surrender.

The Kremlin gave nearly identical numbers for those who have been relocated, but said they were from predominantly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and wanted to go to Russia.

Pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting for control for nearly eight years in those regions, where many people have supported close ties to Russia.