By Sophie Boulter, World News Editor
Updated: Apr. 13, noon
U.S. President Joe Biden said that Russia is carrying out genocide in Ukraine.
“(He is) trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian,” Biden said.
When asked to clarify his comments, he doubled down on his use of the term.
“Yes, I called it genocide because it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of even being Ukrainian,” Biden said.
“More evidence is coming out of the horrible things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. And we’re going to only learn more and more about the devastation,” he added.
Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described Biden’s comments as “unacceptable.”
“We consider this kind of effort to distort the situation unacceptable,” Peskov said.
“This is hardly acceptable from a president of the United States, a country that has committed well-known crimes in recent times,” he added.
In a major break against the country’s historically neutral status, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that Finland could decide to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “within weeks.”
“Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine,” Marin said.
“I think people’s mindsets in Finland, also in Sweden, changed and [were] shaped very dramatically because of Russia’s actions,” she added.
Marin met with her Swedish counterpart, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, today to discuss NATO membership and security for the two neutral countries.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg signaled his support for their membership, saying that “the door remains open.”
Updated: Apr. 12, noon
As Russia plans a large-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia is sending in troops to the country to “prepare” for its offensive.
“The occupiers have sent dozens of thousands of soldiers and colossal numbers of equipment to prepare new attacks,” Zelensky said.
The news of the planned invasion comes as Russia appointed a new general known for atrocities in Syria, to take over military operations in Ukraine. Alexander Dvornikov is known as the “Butcher of Syria.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the invasion as “inevitable.”
“On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself,” Putin said.
“It’s clear that we didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision. The goals are perfectly clear, they are noble,” he added.
Putin’s comments come after meeting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Russia’s Amur region, in the east of the country.
In his speech, he also argued that western countries have failed in attempts to isolate Russia.
“(It is) impossible to severely isolate anyone in the modern world – especially such a vast country as Russia,” Putin said.
“(During the Cold War) the sanctions were total, the isolation was complete but the Soviet Union was still first in space,” he added.
Updated: Apr. 11, noon
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer met Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first western leader to meet face-to-face with Putin since the Russia-Ukraine war began.
“This is not a friendly visit,” Nehammer said about his discussions with Putin. “The conversation with President Putin was very direct, open and tough… My most important message to Putin was that this war must finally end, because in a war there are only losers on both sides,” he said.
“At the moment I’m not particularly optimistic after my talks with Putin. The offensive (in Ukraine) is being prepared with determination,” he added.
Some have condemned his visit as legitimizing Russia’s invasion.
“I cannot condone a visit to Putin,” the German Green Party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic wrote on Twitter. “This has nothing to do with diplomacy. This is also not an agreed roadmap for negotiations. Putin will use this for his propaganda.”
Meanwhile, Russia continues to move into Ukraine’s east. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country is “ready” for a large-scale Russian offensive in the east of the country.
“The truth will win, and Ukraine will win,” Zelensky said.
Updated: Apr. 8, noon
An attack on a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk left 50 dead and nearly 100 injured. Russia has denied responsibility.
“(This was) a purposeful strike on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of the city of Kramatorsk,” Ukraine’s state-owned railway company said in a Facebook post.
Civilians have largely been using this railway to escape the violence in Ukraine.
The governor of Donetsk Oblast, Kramatorsk’s region in Ukraine, said that Russia’s attack was “deliberately trying to disrupt the evacuation of civilians.”
“The evacuation will continue. Anyone who wants to leave the region will be able to do so,” Donetsk Oblast Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko added.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen visited Bucha, Ukraine today. Bucha has been the site of Russian attacks that the U.S. and EU described as violations of international human rights law.
“The unthinkable has happened here. We have seen the cruel face of Putin’s army. We have seen the recklessness and the coldheartedness with which they have been occupying the city,” von der Leyen said.
“The whole world is mourning with the people of Bucha, and they are the ones who are … defending the border of Europe, defending humanity, defending democracy and therefore we stand with them in this important fight.”
Updated: Apr. 7, noon
The mayor of Dnipro, a city in central-east Ukraine, has cautioned citizens to leave the city. Russia has ramped up attacks on the country’s east in recent days as it transitions to the next phase of its war.
“All those who have the ability, as I have already said, should leave. This involves women, children, the elderly, those who are not… directly integrated into the economy,” Mayor Borys Filatov said.
The foreign ministers of Group of 7 (G7) countries released a statement condemning Russian attacks in Bucha, Ukraine.
“The massacres in the town of Bucha and other Ukrainian towns will be inscribed in the list of atrocities and severe violations of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights, committed by the aggressor on Ukrainian soil,” the statement read.
“We underline our unwavering support for Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and express our readiness to assist further,” the statement maintained.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with G7 and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders in Brussels, Belgium.
“I came here today to discuss three most important things: weapons, weapons, and weapons,” Kuleba tweeted about the meeting.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s parent company Meta says that it is working on its policies to fight Russian misinformation, hacking campaigns and scams.
“We’re constantly reviewing our policies based on the evolving situation on the ground and we are actively now reviewing additional steps to address misinformation and hoaxes coming from Russian government pages,” Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said.
Updated: Apr. 6, noon
The U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two daughters, in addition to sanctioning Russian financial institutions.
The sanctions placed on Russia are in reaction to images of violence against civilians in Bucha, Ukraine.
A senior administration official explained the motivation behind targeting Putin’s family.
“We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members, and that’s why we’re targeting them,” the official said.
The U.S. also sanctioned two large Russian banks, Sherbank and Alfa Bank. According to the administration official, these new sanctions mean that the U.S. has blocked off “more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector.”
Meanwhile, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders are meeting today to discuss the new phase of the Russia-Ukraine war, as Russia shifts its offensive from northern Ukraine to eastern Ukraine.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General, warned that the war could continue for “years.”
“We have seen no indication that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine and also to rewrite the international order, so we need to be prepared for the long haul,” Stoltenberg said.
“We have to be realistic and realize that this may last for a long time, for many months or even years,” he added.
At today’s NATO summit, leaders are discussing ways to increase military assistance to Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have argued that the current level of assistance is too low.
Stoltenberg defended the level of NATO military assistance to Ukraine.
“I will not go into all details of exactly what kind of weapons equipment allies are providing, but I can say the totality of what the allies are doing is significant, and that includes some heavier systems combined with lighter systems,” Stoltenberg said.
Updated: Apr. 5, noon
The United Nations (UN) human rights office spokesperson, Liz Throssell, said that signs “strongly suggest” civilian targeting in Bucha, Ukraine.
“What we’re talking about here appears to be the direct killing and targeting of civilians in Bucha … This is extremely disturbing, and does really strongly suggest that they were directly targeted as individuals,” she said.
“What we must stress is that under international humanitarian law, the deliberate killing of civilians is a war crime… it’s hard to see what was the military context of an individual lying in the street with a bullet to the head or having their bodies burned,” she added.
In an address to the UN Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russian violence and asked for increased humanitarian aid. He also expressed frustration with the UN response to the conflict.
“Where is the security that the (UN) Security Council needs to guarantee? It’s not there… It is obvious that the key institution of the world, which must ensure the coercion of any aggressor to peace, simply cannot work effectively,” Zelensky said.
According to France’s anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office, France opened three new inquiries into Russian war crimes in Ukraine. France, along with Germany, Lithuania, and Latvia, has expelled several Russian diplomats.
The British Ministry of Defense reported that Ukrainian forces took back “key terrain” in northern Ukraine. Units withdrawn from northern Ukraine will require refurbishment and re-equipment before being redeployed to eastern Ukraine.
Updated: Apr. 4, noon
Images depicting mass civilian graves in Bucha, Ukraine have sparked international outrage.
Civilians are depicted with mangled bodies lying across the pavement or in the road. These images come on the heels of Russian promises to scale back forces around Kyiv.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that 280 civilians are buried in the mass graves in Bucha.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied these claims.
In reaction to the images, the European Union established a joint investigation with Ukraine to examine alleged Russian crimes against humanity.
“The EU is ready to reinforce this effort by sending investigation teams on the ground to support the Ukrainian Prosecution Services. Eurojust and Europol are ready to assist,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
U.S. President Joe Biden called for Putin to be put on trial for war crimes.
“I think it is a war crime … He should be held accountable,” Biden said.
“This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone’s seen it,” he added.
Updated: Mar. 31, noon
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cautioned countries in the Western alliance to see Russia’s scaling back of forces around Kyiv as a “regrouping” of forces rather than a “withdrawing” of forces.
“Russia is trying to regroup, resupply and reinforce its offensive in the Donbas region,” Stoltenberg said. “”At the same time, Russia maintains pressure on Kyiv and other cities. So we can expect additional offensive actions, bringing even more suffering.”
“We have no real change in the real Russian objective … they continue to pursue a military outcome,” he added.
According to the Pentagon, Russia plans to redeploy troops from Kyiv to the eastern region of Ukraine.
Stoltenberg’s comments come as Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law ordering 134,500 new conscripts into the Russian army. Russia denies allegations that these conscripts will be used as part of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development predicts that Ukraine’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will fall by 20% this year, whereas Russia’s GDP is predicted to fall by 10%.
Updated: Mar. 30, noon
The northern Ukrainian city of Cherihiv has come under “colossal attack,” leading the city’s mayor to dismiss Russia’s overtures for peace and its promises to reduce its military activity.
“Russia always lies. They’re saying ‘reducing intensity,’ they actually have increased the intensity of strikes. Today we have a colossal attack on the center of Chernihiv,” Vladyslav Atroshenko, the city’s mayor, said.
Russia has confirmed that there was “no breakthrough” in peace talks held in Istanbul. However, Russian officials expressed interest in Ukraine’s written requests during the negotiations.
“It is positive that the Ukrainian side has at least begun to formulate concretely and put down on paper what it proposes,” Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
“As for the rest, we cannot yet state anything promising, no breakthroughs. Lots of work ahead,” he added.
In reaction to the ongoing violence, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has called for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to strengthen its defensive capacity in the Baltic region.
“In order to have peace we have to prepare for war,” Kallas cautioned.
“We would need combat-ready divisions supported by enablers to provide air defense, long-range fire and command elements. We must move from air policing to air defense. We need more NATO ships patrolling the Baltic Sea,” he added.
Updated: Mar. 29, noon
The Russian ministry of defense said it will sharply “reduce military activity” around Kyiv and Chernihiv, the first breakthrough in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.
“Negotiations on the preparation of the treaty on the neutrality and non-nuclear status of Ukraine, as well as on the provision of security guarantees to Ukraine, are moving into practice,” Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Alexander Fomin said.
“In order to increase mutual trust and create the necessary conditions for further negotiations and achievement of the ultimate goal… a decision was made to radically, at times, reduce military activity in the Kyiv and Chernihiv directions,” Fomin added.
During the talks, Ukrainian officials proposed a 15-year negotiation process for discussing the status of the Crimean peninsula. Ukrainian officials also proposed discussions about the status of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which Russia hopes to control.
The talks come on the heels of a Russian missile strike on the northwestern Rivne region last night, and a Russian attack on a Mykolaiv government office this morning.
Updated: Mar. 28, noon
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukraine is “ready” to discuss adopting neutrality towards Russia and the West. His remarks come as peace talks resume today in Turkey.
“Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point,” Zelensky said.
In his remarks, he refused to cede Ukrainian sovereignty to Russia, and noted that a neutral pact would require a referendum and third-party guarantors. Any peace deal, according to Zelensky, would first require a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have suspended humanitarian corridors, fearing that such corridors are currently unsafe for refugees.
“Our intelligence has reported possible ‘provocations’ by the occupiers on the humanitarian corridor routes. So, for reasons of public safety, we are not opening any humanitarian corridors today,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of obstructing humanitarian corridors, while Russian officials have accused Ukraine of failing to reach a consensus with Russia regarding the corridors.
The Kyiv School of Economics has estimated that the total damage Ukraine has endured tops $63 billion.
Updated: Mar. 25, 1:30 P.M.
Ukraine has taken back towns around Kyiv, according to the UK Defense Ministry. Ukrainian officials have vowed to “counterattack” Russian forces around Kyiv.
“We are going on the counterattack. We are moving forward,” Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to the interior minister, said.
Denysenko also described the results of battles in villages around Kyiv.
“Very serious battles took place near Baryshivka [to the east], Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin [all to the northwest]. We managed to recapture quite a lot,” he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with U.S. troops in Poland, along with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Ukrainian refugees in the country.
Invoking his deceased son Beau Biden, a veteran, he indicated his support for the Western alliance and for troops.
“What you’re engaging in is much bigger than whether or not you can alleviate the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine. We’re in a new phase, we’re at an inflection point,” Biden said. “You are the finest fighting force in the history of the world.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of people like my son, like all of you. So, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you,” he added.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke to CNBC this morning and explained her position on sanctioning China, if it becomes more involved in the Russia-Ukraine war.
“We would be very concerned if (China) were to supply weapons to Russia, or to try to evade the sanctions that we’ve put in place on the Russian financial system and the central bank,” Yellen said. “We don’t see that happening at this point.”
Yellen maintained that Russian oligarchs “could face sanctions,” however. She noted that the U.S. could join the UK and EU in sanctioning Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire with strong ties to the West.
“I would hold open the possibility that — (and would) certainly not take off the table the possibility — he or other individuals could face sanctions in the future,” she said of Abramovich.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky personally requested that Biden should hold off on placing sanctions on Abramovich, as he hopes the Oligarch will help broker peace talks, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Updated: Mar. 24, noon
U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders have gathered for a snap North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit. Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian forces in Kyiv, routing them to positions northwest of the capital.
At the NATO summit, allies have discussed enhanced aid and military assistance to Ukraine, along with boosting the alliance’s Eastern flank.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the summit, calling for increased security assistance “without restrictions.” He called for NATO to give Ukraine one percent of the organization’s planes, anti-ship weapons and tanks.
“When all this finally happens, it will give us, as well as you, one hundred percent security,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also alleged that Russia wants to take over other Eastern European states such as Poland, Estonia, Bosnia and Lithuania.
“But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save (these) people,” he said.
Biden spoke after Zelensky, calling for a coordinated NATO response on supporting Ukraine and enacting sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis spoke out against the war and the allies’ proposed solutions to the conflict, including upping military budgets.
“This is the result of the old logic of power that still dominates the so-called geopolitics,” the Pope said. “The real answer … is not other weapons, other sanctions, other political-military alliances, but another approach, a different way of governing the now globalized world — not showing the teeth, as now — one way different than set international relations.”
Updated: Mar. 23, 1:00 P.M.
Russian forces seized or blocked 11 buses carrying refugees from Mariupol, defying humanitarian agreements to allow the passage of evacuation buses carrying humanitarian supplies and refugees.
“Unfortunately, the occupying forces violated the agreement today (Tuesday) and did not allow buses to evacuate Mariupol residents from the village of Nikolske and the village of Melekino,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed his belief that the alliance will increase troop numbers in Eastern Europe, in response to Russia.
“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance on land, in the air and at sea,” Stoltenberg said.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said that this move sends “a pretty clear message to Moscow.”
““Permanent stationing (of troops along the Eastern flank) could be one solution, or persistent rotations as another option, that could be on the table. So at this point, what we need to do is have our military commanders give us the best advice that they can come to us with specific proposals and then as an alliance, look at what the security environment requires,” Smith said.
U.S. President Joe Biden departed for Europe this morning, to meet with European leaders about the conflict.
He plans to meet with NATO, the Group of 7 (G7), and the European Union during emergency summits.
Updated: Mar. 22, noon
Ukraine has retaken Makariv, a key Kyiv suburb. The Ukrainian military has reported that Russian stockpiles of food and ammo will last for “no more than three days.”
Kyiv remains under curfew, and multiple explosions have been heard around the city this morning. One was so loud that it triggered car alarms.
The conflict has now led 3.5 million refugees to flee Ukraine.
In an address to the Italian Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described his country as being on the brink of survival. He also argued that the war could expand to the rest of Europe.
“For Russian troops, Ukraine is a door to Europe, where they want to penetrate, but barbarism cannot be allowed to prevail,” Zelensky said.
Zelensky also told the Italian Parliament that he and Pope Francis talked over the phone about the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Today I spoke with his Holiness Pope Francis, and he said very important words: ‘I understand that you want peace. I understand that you have to defend yourselves, that soldiers defend civilians, they defend their homeland. Everyone is defending it,” Zelensky said.
“I answered: ‘Our people have become the army, when they saw how much evil the enemy brings, how much devastation it brings, and how much bloodshed it (Russia) wants to see,’” he said.
Worldwide protests have continued against the invasion of Ukraine. CCTV footage appeared to show Russian forces firing on anti-war protestors in Kherson.
Updated: Mar. 21, noon
Ukrainian authorities rejected Russia’s offer to exchange humanitarian corridors for the surrender of Mariupol.
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said. “Instead of wasting time on eight pages of letters, just open the corridor.”
Yesterday, Russia bombed an art school in Mariupol which was sheltering 400 civilians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a CNN interview, expressed willingness to negotiate with Russia but also expressed fears that negotiations may lead to an escalation of the conflict.
“I think we have to use any format, any chance in order to have a possibility of negotiating, possibility of talking to Putin. But if these attempts fail, that would mean that this is a third World War,” Zelensky said.
Russian chess grandmaster Sergey Karjakin was banned from competition by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for six months, due to his support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Updated: Mar. 17, noon
This morning, survivors began to emerge from last night’s theater bombing of Mariupol. More than one thousand civilians were sheltering in this theater.
In the northern city of Chernihiv, losses have continued to mount after Russia shelled the city.
“We are suffering heavy losses — 53 citizens were killed yesterday,” the head of regional government Viacheslav Chaus said.
“This is not the first such incoming shell [in the city], nor is it the first shelling of civilians by the enemy. The Russians are shelling and destroying mostly civilian infrastructure in the city of Chernihiv and other cities in the region,” Chaus said.
Russia has denied claims of civilian targeting.
“Today, video footage of civilians who died in Chernihiv, who were allegedly shot by Russian servicemen, was distributed on all propaganda resources of the Kyiv regime. It was indicated that all the dead allegedly stood in line for bread. I would like to emphasize that there were no Russian servicemen in Chernihiv,” Russian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
3.2 million refugees have fled Ukraine. Though most refugees are fleeing for Poland and neighboring countries, many other European countries have begun to take refugees to relieve pressure on Eastern Europe.
According to German police, over 187,000 refugees have entered Germany from Ukraine.
Spain has taken 4,500 refugees so far.
Updated: Mar. 16, 1:30 P.M.
Twelve towns neighboring Kyiv lack water after Russia stepped up its bombing of Ukraine’s capital and its suburbs. More than three million refugees have fled Ukraine.
The Ukrainian energy grid is now synced with the European energy grid, replacing its connection with the Russian and Belarusian energy grids.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U.S. Congress this morning, calling for more aid to Ukraine. His speech drew a standing ovation and tears from the audience.
“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people,” Zelensky said. “Whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to save their democracy.”
Directly speaking to U.S. President Joe Biden, Zelensky asked for more U.S. involvement in the conflict.
“President Biden, you are the leader of your great nation,” he said. “I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. I call on you to do more.”
This afternoon, Biden announced another $800 million in aid for Ukraine, in addition to anti-aircraft systems and drones.
“We’re going to give Ukraine the arms to fight and defend themselves through all the difficult days ahead,” Biden said.
Updated: Mar. 15, noon
Russian forces moved into Kyiv this morning, as European leaders head to Ukraine’s capital to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Nearly three million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Most refugees have gone to Poland. Many also have fled to Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.
Diplomatic overtures have been ongoing, but have led to few results.
The U.S. has spoken out against Chinese military or economic assistance to Russia.
“We have communicated very clearly to Beijing that we won’t stand by,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “We will not allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses.”
Protests against the war have continued worldwide. An anti-war protester interrupted Russian state media last night, holding a sign saying “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe propaganda. They are lying to you here.”
This morning, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to the anti-war protestor. “As far as this woman is concerned, this is hooliganism,” he said. “The channel and those who are supposed to will get to the bottom of this.”
Updated: Mar. 14, 1 P.M.
Russian missiles hit a Lviv military base, situated close to the Polish border. Russia fired 30 missiles at the base, leaving at least 35 people dead.
“The night sky turned red,” Ukrainian student Dukhnych Vitalii said of the attack. “We can’t hear the air raid sirens in this area. We woke up when we heard the sound of the first explosion. We went to the bunker. It was scary.”
A photo of a pregnant woman on a stretcher, killed in the shelling of a Mariupol maternity hospital, has been widely shared. The Russian ambassador to the United Nations called the image “fake news.”
Ukraine and Russia will begin a fourth round of peace talks today, amid nearly 600 civilian deaths in the conflict so far. The United States will begin talks with China, responding to reports that Russia sought Chinese military and economic assistance in the conflict.
Meanwhile, the NATO country of Estonia has called for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“The Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) calls on UN member states to take immediate action to establish a no-fly zone to prevent mass civilian casualties in Ukraine,” the Estonian parliament said.
The statement continued, “the Riigikogu urges all national parliaments to adopt statements calling on their governments to support the imposition of additional sanctions against the Russian Federation as well as the Republic of Belarus which is participating in the aggression.”
The U.S. remains opposed to a no-fly zone.
Updated: Mar. 8, noon
The United States has banned the import of Russian oil, leading US oil prices to rise approximately 4% higher on Tuesday.
“Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” Biden explained.
This comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to “fight to the end” in defense of Ukraine, in a speech to the UK House of Commons which received a standing ovation.
“To be or not to be: thirteen days ago this question could have been asked about Ukraine, but now, absolutely not. It is obvious, we will be. It is obvious, we will be free,” Zelensky said.
“We do not want to lose what we have what is ours, our country, Ukraine,” he added. Just the same way as you once didn’t want to lose your country… And you had to fight for Britain.”
More than two million Ukrainians have fled the country.
The Pentagon estimates that between 2,000 to 4,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine, while the UN has estimated that around 406 Ukrainian civilians have died in the invasion.
Updated: Mar. 4, noon
Russian forces have seized the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia plant located in the southeast of Ukraine. Fires reported at the Zaporizhzhia plant have been put out.
There will be a third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine this weekend.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has released a statement likening the situation to the Chernobyl disaster, if hostilities do not cease.
“Russian tanks are shooting at the atomic blocks equipped with thermal imagers. They know what they are shooting at. They’ve been preparing for this (attack),” he said. “For all Ukrainians, for all Europeans, for all people who know the word ‘Chernobyl,’ how many victims there were.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has rejected proposals for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Allies agree we should not have NATO planes operating in Ukrainian air space or NATO troops on Ukraine’s territory,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
Airbnb has suspended operations in Russia and Belarus. Companies like Disney, Apple and Ford have also scaled back operations in Russia.
Western sanctions have frozen nearly $1 trillion in Russian assets, according to French finance minister Bruno Le Maire.
Ukraine has reached a tentative agreement with Russia to organize safe corridors for humanitarian aid to be delivered.
Updated: Mar. 3, noon
Russian forces have laid siege to Mariupol, constantly shelling the city for hours. The port city of Kherson has fallen to Russia.
After taking Kherson, Russian forces have marched to Odessa, a city situated along the Black Sea. The mayor of Odessa said that Russia’s goal in taking Odessa is to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea — which links the country with the global economy.
“My sense is that they will encircle Odessa and hold that position while they continue their assault on Kyiv,” Igor Kolykhaev, mayor of Odessa, said.
More than one million refugees have fled Ukraine.
“In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighboring countries,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
Half of the refugees have gone to Poland, while others have fled to Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova.
A second round of peace talks is set to take place in Belarus today. Ukraine is proposing a humanitarian corridor for the safe passage of refugees.
The White House has requested $10 billion in humanitarian and lethal aid as part of the $32.5 billion emergency aid package for Ukraine, pending approval from Congress.
The $10 billion has been allocated to “immediate needs” for Ukraine, according to acting Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young.
The war has pushed up energy prices, with Brent crude oil closing in on $120 a barrel. This is a 10-year high.
Updated: Mar. 2, 1:30 P.M.
Russian forces have surrounded two southern Ukrainian cities, Kherson and Mariupol. Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian delegations are meeting for a second round of peace talks.
The United Nations General Assembly has voted to condemn the Russian invasion, with 141 of its 193 member states supporting the resolution. Belarus, Syria, Eritrea and North Korea voted against the resolution, while countries such as China, India, and Cuba abstained.
According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, 2,000 civilians have been killed so far in the conflict. This number has not been independently verified.
Russia’s ministry of defense has said that 498 Russian troops have been killed so far. This number has not been independently verified, either.
Over 870,000 refugees have fled Ukraine, with estimates predicting that this number will soon reach one million.
Updated: Mar. 1, noon
A missile strike in front of Kharkiv’s city administrative building has left seven people dead and 24 injured. In Kyiv, a projectile has struck the city’s most important radio and television tower.
Meanwhile, a forty mile long convoy of Russian forces has approached Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the attacks as a “war crime.”
“This is terror against Kharkiv, terror against Ukraine. There was no military target on the square. The rocket to the central square is outright, undisguised terror. No one will forgive. Nobody will forget. This strike on Kharkiv is a war crime.”
Zelenskyy has also emphasized the importance of holding Kharkiv and Kyiv against Russian forces.
“Kharkiv and Kyiv are currently the most important targets for Russia. Terror is meant to break us. To break our resistance. They are heading to our capital, as well as to Kharkiv.”
Officials working with Russian President Vladimir Putin have imposed capital controls to help keep assets in Russia.
“To enable businesses to make informed decisions, a draft presidential decree has been prepared to introduce temporary restrictions on exiting Russian assets,” Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. “We expect that those who have invested in our country will be able to continue working here.”
The oil giants British Petroleum (BP), Shell and Equinor have left Russia, hitting the Russian economy particularly hard.
Several diplomats led a walk-out while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council via a video message.
Lavrov did not attend this speech in person, in response to sanctions from the European Union (EU) which he deemed “outrageous.”
Further peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are scheduled for tomorrow.
Updated: Feb. 28, noon
Russian and Ukrainian officials are meeting for peace talks hosted by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that he does not expect the talks to end the violence.
Dozens were killed in Russian rocket strikes in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Monday morning.
“Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads [rockets]. Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded,” Ukraine’s home office adviser Anton Herashchenko said.
The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions on the Central Bank of Russia and the Russian foreign investment fund. These sanctions cut Russia’s central bank from the American dollar.
The value of the ruble, Russia’s currency, has fallen by over 25% due to the effects of U.S. and allied countries’ sanctions.
Switzerland, a traditionally neutral country, has joined U.S. allies in sanctioning Russia and freezing Russian assets. According to Swiss national bank statistics, Russian individuals and companies hold more than $11 billion in assets in Swiss banks.
Over 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine for neighboring European countries, especially to Poland, Moldova and Romania. The United Nations (UN) has vowed to help displaced Ukrainians, calling upon European countries to continue to keep their borders open.
“UNHCR is also working with governments in neighboring countries, calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection. We stand ready to support efforts by all to respond to any situation of forced displacement,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.
Updated: Feb. 27, 1 P.M.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has put his nuclear forces on high alert, while also agreeing to peace talks “without preconditions” with Ukraine.
Putin’s directive indicates that he has ordered his forces to be prepared for increased readiness to launch nuclear weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, while expressing hope for the peace talks along the Belarussian border, continues to put pressure on the international community to unite against Russia.
“(To) all citizens of the world, friends of Ukraine, peace and democracy. Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals,” Zelensky said in a statement on Sunday.
“This is not just Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the beginning of a war against Europe, against European structures, against democracy, against basic human rights, against a global order of law, rules and peaceful coexistence.”
The European Union (EU) has banned all “Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft” from its airspace. The bloc has also vowed to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.
“They (Russian forces) won’t be able to land in, take off or overfly the territory of the EU. Including the private jets of oligarchs,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.
“For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack.”
The EU also banned Russian state media.
“The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war,” von der Leyen said. “We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
The EU, United States and Japan have also banned certain Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) platform. SWIFT is the world’s principal international payments system, which is responsible for shifting trillions of dollars a year across borders.
Updated: Feb. 26, noon
Ukrainian forces are holding back Russian troops in what U.S. defense officials have described as a “very determined resistance.”
198 people have been killed so far in the conflict.
As Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities continue to be bombarded by cruise missiles and artillery, refugees are pouring in to neighboring European Union (EU) countries. Trains to Poland are especially packed. Nearly 116,000 people have already crossed the border from Ukraine to Poland.
“Almost 116,000 have crossed international borders as of right now. This may go up, it’s changing every minute,” Shabia Mantoo, the spokeswoman of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said. “It’s very fluid and changing by the hour.”
Mantoo said that up to four million Ukrainians could flee if the situation worsens.
Officials have cautioned citizens of Kyiv to seek underground shelter and obey a curfew to avoid the fighting.
Many citizens have joined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in fighting on the streets, making Molotov cocktails to fight the invasion.
U.S. President Joe Biden has authorized $350 billion to be used to aid Ukraine.
This will provide “anti-armor, small arms and various munitions, body armor, and related equipment in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders facing down Russia’s unprovoked attack,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“This brings the total security assistance we’ve approved for Ukraine to $1 billion over the past year.”
Neighboring European countries also fear of Russian invasion. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis addressed his country to assure citizens that Romania was secure.
““I assure you, no Romanian should fear for the safety of himself and his family,” Iohannis said.
Romanian media outlets have repeatedly shown clips of Biden’s assurances that ““If he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) moves in NATO countries, we will get involved.”
Updated: Feb. 25, 3:30 P.M.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 137 people have been killed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This comes as Russian troops mount a full-scale attack of Kyiv.
Zelenksky has begun to draft individuals between the ages of 18-60 from the Ukrainian military reserves.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said that the Ukrainian capital has entered a “defensive phase” against the Russian troops.
“The enemy wants to put the capital on its knees and destroy us,” Klitschko said.
The United States will follow the European Union (EU) in leveling sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin personally.
Russian troops are also holding Chernobyl nuclear plant staff hostage. The condition of Chernobyl’s nuclear waste after the Russian attack is currently unknown, according to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
“After a completely senseless Russian attack in this direction, it is impossible to say that Chernobyl is safe,” Podolyak added. “This is one of the most serious threats to Europe today.”
The Ukrainian Government has said that 13 soldiers off of one of the country’s small islands were bombarded and killed by Russian forces, after refusing to surrender to Russian forces.
Russia denies this, stating that the soldiers at the Zmiinyi (Snake) island surrendered and that no one was killed.
On the diplomatic front, the Chinese Government has blamed the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the Russia-Ukraine conflict. China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying, avoiding directly pointing to Russia or Ukraine as culpable for the violence, stated that the situation was “not what we would hope to see.”
“China has taken a responsible attitude and persuaded all parties not to escalate tensions or incite war…Those who follow the US’s lead in fanning up flames and then shifting the blame onto others are truly irresponsible,” she said.
Earlier, she argued that the crisis was due to the increasing membership of Eastern European countries within the NATO bloc. “NATO expansion eastward all the way to Russia’s doorstep,” she said. “Did it ever think about the consequences of pushing a big country to the wall?”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to the Chinese public, writing on the Chinese social media platform Weibo that “we are on the edge of a cliff, but President Putin still has time to step back and think.”
The Russian Embassy dismissed Johnson’s statement as “utterly absurd.”
“(The statement) is designed to further inflame the hysteria surrounding the so-called imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the embassy replied in a Weibo post.
Updated: Feb. 24, noon
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared war on Ukraine, pledging to promote the “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine” through a land, sea and air invasion.
Troops have rushed into Ukraine along its borders with Russia and Belarus, and on the coast of the Black Sea and Asov Sea. Putin began building up troops on the country’s border with Ukraine weeks ago.
Skirmishes have broken out in the regions of Odessa, Kharkiv, Sumy and Kherson. Citizens of Kyiv have been greeted with the constant sounds of screeching sirens and clattering gunfire.
Massive amounts of Ukrainians are attempting to flee the country, but Russia has bombed multiple Ukrainian airports.
Foot traffic from Ukraine to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova, Macedonia and Romania increased as air raid alarms implored citizens to flee Ukraine. Lines of cars have been spotted moving west to areas of the country closer to Poland and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops, and farther away from the Russian border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his military actions as a necessary preventative action. He pointed to the growing pro-Russian sentiment in the Donbass region, arguing that the Ukrainian government has deprived these areas of rights.
“I made a decision to conduct a special military operation. Its goal is to protect people who have been abused by the genocide of the Kyiv regime for eight years,” Putin said.
“To this end, we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation,” he continued.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of ignoring Ukraine’s overtures for peace.
“Today I initiated a phone call with the president of the Russian federation. The result was silence. Though the silence should be in Donbas. That’s why I want to address today the people of Russia. I am addressing you not as a president, I am addressing you as a citizen of Ukraine,” he said.
Zelensky also called on all able Ukrainians to join the military effort against Russia.
“Anyone who has military experience, who can join the defense of Ukraine, has to come to the military offices of the ministry of internal affairs… please, keep yourself updated on the information,” he said.
Zelensky has said that he is creating “an anti-Putin coalition” with the European Union (EU) and Turkey.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has also stated that European countries are considering offering EU candidate status to Ukraine.
In a statement, U.S. President Joe Biden characterized Russia’s actions as “unprovoked and unjustified.”
“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way,” Biden said. “The world will hold Russia accountable.”
Biden also noted that he would meet with G7 leaders today to discuss a unified response to Russia’s actions. Earlier this week, Biden announced a new round of sanctions on Ukraine.
“I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia,” he said. “We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”
More on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict:
January 27th: Nato responds to Russia, Ukraine (xaviernewswire.com)