At the same time in Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Beliatski, the Russian NGO Memorial and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, a highly symbolic prize in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
On the ground, a sign of the confidence won by the Ukrainians after the success of their counter-offensive, Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov promised to "guarantee life, security and justice" to Russian soldiers who choose to surrender .
"You can still save Russia from tragedy and the Russian army from humiliation," he said, as defeats prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to mobilize several hundred thousand people in the 'army.
Moscow, for its part, announced that it had made its first gains - three villages in eastern Ukraine - after losing thousands of square kilometers of territory on several fronts in recent weeks.
According to pro-Russian separatists fighting alongside troops from Moscow, the villages of Otradivka, Vessela Dolyna and Zaitseve are now under Russian control. The Russian Ministry of Defense had already announced the capture of Zaitseve the day before in its daily report.
These three villages are located south of the city of Bakhmout which is under Ukrainian control. The Russian army has been trying to take the area for months, so far without success.
- "Street fights" -
Present in Bakhmout on Friday, AFP journalists heard the sound of heavy artillery fire and multiple rocket launchers in the center of this city, which had 70,000 inhabitants before the war.
Occasional bursts of machine gun fire were also audible. A civilian volunteer from the humanitarian group Vostok SOS, Edouard Skorik, 29, told AFP that "street fighting" took place near his house, on the other side of the Bakhmouta river.
To the south of the city, towards the villages captured by the Russians, columns of black smoke rose from the explosions of shells, startling and sometimes plunging civilians to the ground.
Ukrainian forces also reported gains on Friday: the village of Grekivka, in the Lugansk region (east), according to Governor Serguiï Gaïdaï.
In the occupied region of Kherson (south), at least five civilians were killed and five injured by a Ukrainian strike that hit a bus of civilians on their way to work crossing a bridge, according to pro-Russian official Kirill Stremoussov.
kyiv has targeted bridges in this region on multiple occasions in order to disrupt the logistical supply of Russian forces.
The Ukrainian presidency reported a new Russian strike on the region of Zaporijjia (south), for the second consecutive day, injuring one person. "Infrastructure was destroyed in two districts. The occupier used drones for the first time," she said.
The day before, 11 people had been killed in Russian strikes on Zaporizhia, according to the Ukrainian emergency services.
- Risk of "apocalypse" -
The leader of the pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk region (east), Denis Pushilin, noted the "most difficult" situation near Lyman, a railway junction recently taken over by Ukrainian forces, where Russian troops narrowly escaped the encirclement.
According to him, the latter are fortifying a new line of defense near the Kreminna, further east, which the Ukrainian forces are "testing day and night".
"I think we have every chance to accumulate forces and start liberating territories with new reserves," he added, announcing the dispatch of reinforcements.
Russia claimed last week the annexation of four regions it controls at least in part in Ukraine, following "referendums" denounced by the UN, kyiv and its Western allies.
As for the nuclear threat, it is going crescendo.
After Vladimir Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons to defend territories that the Kremlin considers Russian, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday spoke of "preventive strikes" against Russia.
If the Ukrainian presidency quickly backtracked by saying that Mr. Zelensky was talking about preventive “sanctions” and not strikes, Russian officials castigated his remarks.
The Kremlin denounced a "call to start a new world war" and the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, considered that such declarations justified the Russian invasion.
US President Joe Biden has warned him of the risk of "apocalypse", for the first time since the Cold War.