Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7

Russian forces are pressing ahead with their military operation in Ukraine to counter what they call a “threat” to their national security from the pro-West Ukrainian government. Kiev and Russia’s Western adversaries call the operations an “invasion”. The situation is fluid in Ukraine right now with both sides claiming victories on the battlefield. Iran Front Page brings you the latest developments on the ground live as they unfold in Ukraine.

Kherson mayor says Russian troops in streets

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, Igor Kolykhayev, stated Russian troops were in the streets and had forced their way into the city council building, the Reuters news agency reported.

Ukraine’s government had earlier played down reports that Kherson had fallen into Russian hands.

Kolykhayev urged Russian soldiers not to shoot at civilians and publicly called on civilians to walk through the streets only in daylight and in ones and twos.

“We do not have the Armed Forces in the city, only civilians and people who want to LIVE here!” he said in a statement.

Maternity hospital, civil infrastructure targeted in Mariupol

The mayor of Ukraine’s key southeastern coastal city Mariupol has claimed Russian forces pummelled the port for hours and were attempting to block civilians from leaving.

Vadym Boichenko said at a news conference that Russian forces hit the city for 14 hours straight. Public transport in the city stopped, cutting off some districts. Some of the city has had no electricity since Friday afternoon and few shops remained open.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the regional military administration, added areas with “no military infrastructure” were being targeted, including a maternity hospital on the city’s Left Bank.

Blinken says US open to diplomacy on Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted the United States had made clear to Ukraine it will support Kyiv’s efforts at diplomacy with Russia but it was to hard see a diplomatic path without a military de-escalation.

In a comment addressed to the Russian people, Blinken told a news conference the United States knew many of them wanted nothing to do with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

UK “gravely concerned” by “reports of use of cluster munitions” by Russia in Ukraine

Britain on Wednesday said it was “gravely concerned” by “reports of the use of cluster munitions” by Russia during its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The UK, which is also the President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), announced in a statement that it condemns “any use of cluster munitions by any actor, remaining steadfast in our determination to achieve a world entirely free of any use of these weapons.”

The convention “was born out of a collective determination to address the humanitarian consequences of these weapons, which have had a devastating impact on civilians in many conflict areas,” it added.

French president: “European defense must cross next step” following Russian invasion of Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron said Europeans “cannot depend on others to defend ourselves.”

He added, “European defense must cross the next step,” following Russia invasion of Ukraine.

“Europe has entered a new era,” Macron stated during a televised address from the Elysee Palace as he announced a summit of European heads of state and government that will take place in Versailles on March 10 and 11 to discuss these topics.

“We are not at war with Russia,” Macron noted.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Macron said the war against Ukraine had created a “rupture” in Europe.

WH reiterates sanctions on Russian oil and gas “not something we’re prepared to do right now”

US President Joe Biden’s senior adviser Cedric Richmond reiterated that “everything is on the table,” including sanctions targeting Russia’s oil industry, while acknowledging “it’s not something we’re prepared to do right now.”

“When you talk about oil, you talk about increasing pain here at home for Americans and raising the price of gas and everyday expenses,” Richmond told CNN’s Ana Cabrera in an interview.

“It’s something we’re definitely looking at; it is not something we’re prepared to do right now. But I think the President was very clear when he said everything is on the table and he’s not prepared to take anything off the table,” Richmond added.

US delivered hundreds of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine this week

The US has delivered hundreds of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine for the first time over the last few days, including over 200 on Monday, according to a US official and a congressional source briefed on the matter.

EU sanctions 22 Belarusian officials & military for involvement in Russian invasion of Ukraine

The European Union has sanctioned 22 Belarusian officials and military personnel for their involvement in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a document published Wednesday, the EU said the 22 Belarusian high-ranking individuals were being targeted “in view of the gravity of the situation and of the fact that Belarus is participating in a Russian unprovoked invasion against Ukraine by allowing military aggression from its territory.”

The bloc also announced further restrictions on Minsk, banning certain imports from Belarus into the EU, and EU’s exports of machinery to Belarus.

Western intel shows China asked Russia to delay invasion of Ukraine until after Olympics 

A Western intelligence report indicated that Chinese officials, in early February, requested that senior Russian officials wait until after the Beijing Olympics had finished before beginning an invasion into Ukraine, US officials claimed.

Biden adviser: Sanctions goal is “putting pain to Putin & making sure Americans don’t pay”

As the conflict in Ukraine escalates, concerns are growing that the financial impact will be felt in the United States — especially in higher gas prices.

According to Daleep Singh, President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser for international economics, the White House does not “have a strategic interest in reducing global energy supplies,” a maneuver which would “only increase prices at the pump for Americans, and pad [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s profits.”

Canada sanctions 10 people in Russia’s energy sector

Canada announced new sanctions against 10 individuals from two Russian energy companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The measures aim to put more pressure on Russia’s leadership to stop the war, according to a news release from Canada’s Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Pentagon: US postpones ballistic missile test to avoid escalation

The Pentagon announced that the US postponed an intercontinental ballistic missile test previously set for this week to avoid escalation with Russia amid the intensifying crisis.

“In an effort to demonstrate that we have no intention in engaging in any actions that can be misunderstood or misconstrued, the decretary of defense has directed that our Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch scheduled for this week to be postponed,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

“We did not take this decision lightly, but instead to demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power,” he added.

Pentagon claims Russian advance on Kyiv ‘remains stalled’

Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the Russian military’s push towards Kyiv from the north “remains stalled”.

“They haven’t – from our best estimates – have not made any appreciable progress geographically speaking, in the last 24 to 36 hours,” Kirby told reporters.

He added the Pentagon believes the advance has slowed down because Russian forces are deliberately regrouping while also facing unanticipated logistic challenges and experiencing resistance from Ukrainians.

Powerful explosion in Kyiv near rail station

Ukrainian officials have reported a powerful explosion in Kyiv, between the Southern Railway station and the Ibis hotel, an area near Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

The station was being used to evacuate thousands of women and children, Ukraine’s state-run railway company Ukrzaliznytsya announced in a statement.

The station building suffered minor damage and the number of any casualties was not yet known, the statement said, adding trains were still operating.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office told The Associated Press that it was a missile strike.

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has stated that preliminary reports suggest there were no casualties in a blast that shattered windows at the city’s railway station Wednesday evening.

EU’s eastern countries to leave Soviet-era banks

Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania will quit two Soviet-era international banks which count Russia as their largest shareholder following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, their finance ministries have announced.

The move follows the announcement by the Czech Republic on Friday which said it would quit the International Bank for Economic Cooperation (IBEC) and the International Investment Bank (IIB) and called on other EU member states to do likewise.

MFA: Washington’s refusal to negotiate leaves Moscow no option but to expel US diplomat From Russia

The US’ reluctance to negotiate leaves Russia no choice but to expel an American diplomat from Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.

Moscow also urged Washington to be “reasonable” and refrain from further escalation after the expulsion of a Russian employee from the UN Secretariat.

Russia’s response to the expulsion of its diplomat will affect the US quota for its diplomatic presence in Moscow, the ministry noted.

WH: US imposing full blocking sanctions on 22 Russian defence-related entities

The United States is imposing full blocking sanctions on 22 Russian defense-related entities in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the White House announced.

“The Department of State will impose sweeping sanctions that target Russia’s defense sector,” the White House said in a press release.

“This action will impose significant costs on Russian weapon development and production companies. In total, 22 Russian defense-related entities will be designated, including firms that make combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia’s military,” it added.

Russia to discuss ceasefire with Ukraine on Thursday

Russia expects Ukrainian officials to arrive in Belarus for the next round of talks on Thursday morning, when a ceasefire is set to be discussed, Russian news agencies has cited Moscow’s negotiator Vladimir Medinsky as saying.

The first round of talks on the Belarusian border on Monday ended with no agreement except to keep talking.

UN General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to deplore Russian invasion of Ukraine

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution rebuking the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calling Moscow to immediately withdraw all forces from Ukraine.

The resolution, which won support from 141 of the 193-member body, came at the end of a rare emergency session of General Assembly called by the Security Council and as Russian forces pounded Ukraine’s cities with air strikes and bombardments, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7

US: Russia conducted “more than 450 missile launches” on Ukraine

Russia has conducted “more than 450 missile launches,” since the beginning of their invasion of Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters on Wednesday.

The airspace over Ukraine also remains contested, the official added.

There has not been “significant change on the ground” in Ukraine since yesterday, according to a senior defense official, with the US estimating that Russia has committed 82% of its available combat power that had been staged outside Ukraine into the country, just a small increase in the 80% the US estimated had been committed yesterday.

And though there has been “no appreciable movement” of Russian forces advancing on Kyiv since yesterday, Russia has increased its “missiles and artillery targeting the city,” according to the official, including targeting infrastructure in the city.

The official said similarly that while Russian forces are assaulting Cherniv and Kharkiv, there has been “no appreciable movement by the Russians to take either one,” with Russian forces “stalled” outside those cities.

However, Russian forces have made more progress in the south, according to the official, though the US sees the city of Kherson as “contested,” despite Russian claims that they had taken control of the city.

The official stated that though there had been no moves on Mariupol by Russia, there were “preliminary indications” Russian forces would try to move on the city from the Donetsk region, with an assault on the city likely from multiple directions.

‘Colossal destruction’ in Mariupol after ’14 hours of non-stop attacks’

Russian forces have inflicted “colossal destruction” on the Ukrainian port of Mariupol after “14 hours of non-stop attacks”, the city’s mayor has said.

“There are many wounded and unfortunately many civilian dead, women, children, old people,” Vadym Boichenko stated in a live broadcast on Ukrainian television.

Boichenko added that the city of half a million people had suffered many casualties after Kremlin forces stopped residents from escaping.

“Our railway link has been cut – they even went to the railway station and fired on our diesel locomotives so that people can’t be evacuated,” he said, adding, “So their mission is to destroy us, they have no intention of helping civilians.”

MoD: 498 Russian servicemen die during special operation in Ukraine

Russia’s Defence Ministry has published the first official military casualties resulting from the special operation in Ukraine, saying that 498 Russian soldiers died in the line of duty.

A further 1,597 Russian servicemen have sustained injuries of varying degree during the operation, the ministry added.

WHO leaders warn Ukraine’s hospitals face oxygen shortage

Ukraine’s hospitals face an oxygen shortage with at least 2,000 patients needing it to survive, World Health Organisation (WHO) leaders have warned.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a press conference that oxygen supply levels in Ukraine’s hospitals were dangerously low due to the conflict.

Dr Tedros said these low levels will impact the ability of doctors to treat patients with Covid-19.

“Critical shortages of oxygen will have an impact on the ability to treat patients with Covid-19 and many other conditions,” he continued.

He added that three major oxygen plants have closed in the country.

“At least three major oxygen plants in Ukraine have now closed and we are seeking ways of accessing oxygen from neighbouring countries and ways to deliver it safely to where it’s needed,” he stated.

Conditions on the ground in Ukraine will make it easier for Covid-19 to spread, Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said during a news briefing on Wednesday.

“Anytime you disrupt society like this and put literally millions of people on the move, then infectious diseases will exploit that,” Ryan added.

“People are packed together, they’re stressed, and they’re not eating, they’re not sleeping properly. They’re highly susceptible to the impacts, first of all being infected themselves. And it’s much more likely that disease will spread,” he continued.

Dr Tedros noted the organization is “deeply concerned” about reports it has received about attacks on health care facilities and workers.

Sources say Ukrainian military capabilities losses outweigh Russian losses

Russia has lost roughly 3% to 5% of its tanks, aircraft, artillery and other military assets inside Ukraine — compared to Ukrainian losses of roughly 10% of its capabilities, according to two US officials familiar with the latest intelligence.

US and western officials caution that those ratios are difficult to calculate and likely to change — not only because both sides continue to incur losses as the week-old war grinds on, but also because both Russian and Ukrainian forces are being resupplied.

But the stark imbalance underscores grim assessments from US and western officials that despite a stiffer-than-expected resistance by Ukraine that has kept major cities out of Russian hands, it is still likely to be overwhelmed as Russia launches an intensified and less discriminate phase of its assault.

And even despite western assistance, US officials say Ukraine is still vastly outgunned by Russia. Moscow has initially leaned heavily on its more modern precision cruise missiles, according to a source familiar with the intelligence, heavily degrading Ukraine’s military infrastructure. Meanwhile, Ukraine has continued to burn through its supply of shoulder-fired Javelin missiles.

“I’ve spoken to Biden many times, and I’ve told them many times that Ukraine will resist and fight stronger than anyone else but on our own against Russia we won’t manage it,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN’s Matthew Chance in an interview on Tuesday.

Ukraine “need[s] the classic bits of kit now. They need bullets, they need bandages. They’re going to need fuel. They’re going to need ammunition, in addition to the humanitarian support to help with medical assistance, sustaining hospitals, both for combat wounded, and for civilians that are being hurt,” said a senior western intelligence official.

“And they’re going to need a lot in ammunition and weapons resupply, because the Russian force is both numerically and qualitatively superior,” this person added.

Almost 6,000 Russian soldiers have died during the first six days of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, Zelensky claimed Wednesday morning. The senior western intelligence official stated Wednesday morning that the western figure is similar — roughly 5,800 — but cautioned that “my number is from yesterday.”

US officials believe that Russia is now changing tactics, according to one American official. While Moscow started off with a more modern combined arms approach — one that also appeared to eschew targeting civilian infrastructure — it has now shifted to what this official called a strategy of “slow annihilation.” Officials anticipate continued heavy weapons bombardment and the possibility that “tens of thousands” of troops will march on major Ukrainian cities, this person said.

Another western official also noted that there is a sense that the conflict may be shifting to a grinding war of attrition — not the flash campaign that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and US intelligence had suspected would cause the fall of Kyiv in a matter of days.

FM tells US Ukraine needs additional deliveries of weapons “now”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told his American counterpart Ukraine needs additional deliveries of weapons “now.”

In a tweet, Kuleba said he held a “productive call” with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the need to place further sanctions on Russia “until it stops its war against Ukraine and withdraws its forces.”

“I emphasized: Ukraine needs additional deliveries of weapons, especially for our Air Force, now,” Kuleba added.

Ukraine UN envoy accuses Russia of ‘genocide’

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations has accused Russia of seeking to commit genocide in his country during Wednesday’s rare General Assembly debate more than a week after Moscow’s invasion.

“They have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist,” Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Assembly ahead of a vote seeking to demand Russia withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

“It’s already clear that the goal of Russia is not an occupation only. It is genocide,” Kyslytsya added.

US ambassador to UN claims Russia has used banned weapons

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on other United Nations member states to hold Russia accountable for invading Ukraine in remarks at a UN General Assembly emergency special session on Ukraine, which she noted was the first such session in 40 years.

Thomas-Greenfield said Russian forces are destroying infrastructure vital to the Ukrainian people, and Russian President Vladimir Putin seems poised to ramp up the invasion.

“We have seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield. That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs – which are banned under the Geneva Convention. We have seen the 40-mile-long lethal convoy charging toward Kyiv. President Putin continues to escalate – putting Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert, threatening to invade Finland and Sweden. At every step of the way, Russia has betrayed the United Nations. Russia’s actions go against everything this body stands for,” she added.

US launches task force to pursue ‘corrupt Russian oligarchs’

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced the launch of a task force to pursue “corrupt Russian oligarchs” and violators of sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

“The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions,” Garland said in a statement announcing the launch of ‘Task Force KleptoCapture.’

“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” Garland added.

Biden says “it’s clear” Russia targeting civilians, but it’s “too early to say” if it’s committing war crimes

US President Joe Biden said he believes Russia is intentionally targeting civilians in Ukraine but declined to say whether he believed war crimes were being committed.

“It’s clear they are” targeting civilians, Biden stated.

Asked if he believed Russia is committing war crimes, Biden noted, “We are following it very closely. It’s too early to say that.”

As the US looks for ways to punish Russia, Biden also reiterated that sanctioning Russian oil exports remained a possibility, though officials have cautioned that they will work to minimize the impact of such a move on US and global oil prices.

“Nothing is off the table,” Biden said when specifically pressed on banning Russian oil exports.

Iranian analyst raps western media’s ‘racial approach’ over Ukraine

Shahrvand Online news website has published an analysis that takes a look at the western media’s coverage of the human rights situation in Ukraine, amid the Russian war on the country.

Marziyeh Mousavi, in an article in the website takes aim at the western double standards in shining the spotlight on the conflict from the perspective of human rights, drawing comparisons with how western outlets cover similar episodes of war and violation of human rights in the Middle East, where the victims are non-white and non-European and the perpetrators are western governments.

Ukrainian minister draws standing ovation at UN rights body

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister has received a standing ovation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva after calling for support for a draft resolution to set up a UN investigation into alleged crimes committed by Russia.

“We are under inhumane attack,” Emine Dzhaparova stated.

More than 100 diplomats walked out during an address by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday.

Ukrainians flee for safety

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7 Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7

Ukraine calls on UN to reconsider Russia’s permanent membership on Security Council

The Ukrainian government is calling on the United Nations to reconsider Russia’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, questioning the legitimacy of Russia’s position on the council.

Speaking in televised address, Kuleba called for a “thorough and unbiased” legal review of Russia’s permanent membership.

“We are confident that when the analysis is complete, it will be evident that Russia’s presence at the UN Security Council is illegitimate,” Kuleba continued.

“Everything depends on readiness and determination of the legal team of the UN secretariat to investigate this,” he added.

Mariupol mayor reports mass casualties

The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is suffering mass casualties and a water outage as it defends itself from a nonstop onslaught by Russian forces, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV.

“The enemy occupying forces of the Russian Federation have done everything to block the exit of civilians from the city of half a million people,” he added.

He did not provide an exact casualty figure.

A convoy of Russian military vehicles menacing Kyiv

Satellite images have shown a military convoy including hundreds of vehicles moving on a roadway north of Kyiv, with a number of homes and buildings burning nearby.

Experts fear that the convoy, which includes supply and armored attack vehicles, could be used to encircle and cut off Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, or to launch a full-on assault.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7

Ukrainian official says Kherson ‘completely surrounded’

Russian troops have “completely surrounded” the southern port city of Kherson, a Ukrainian official said.

Ukrainian officials stated they were straining to keep control as casualties mounted, residents sheltered in their homes, and food and medicine ran low.

As Russian forces intensify their push to capture key cities, Kherson — a city of 300,000 people near the Black Sea, northwest of the Crimean Peninsula — is seen as an important prize because it would allow the Russians to control more of Ukraine’s southern coastline and push west toward the city of Odessa.

Health minister: Ukraine needs humanitarian corridor

Ukraine is facing problems distributing medicines to pharmacies and hospitals due to the Russian invasion and wants to establish a humanitarian corridor for them, Health Minister Oleh Lyashko stated.

Lyashko also raised the issue of supplying medical oxygen to coronavirus patients, but added that there were still enough stocks for the moment.

FM claims 1,000 mercenaries heading to Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba claims that more than a thousand mercenaries from 16 countries are going to Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky had announced the creation of a combat unit, which is planned to be staffed by foreigners.

“Volunteers come from 16 countries, their total number has exceeded a thousand people, and applications continue to come,” Kuleba said at a briefing.

“Nineteen countries are giving weapons to Ukraine, some of them are doing it for the first time in their history, 10 are providing macro-financial assistance, 22 humanitarian,” he added.

European Commission Stands Ready to Ban More Russian Banks From SWIFT

The European Commission (EC) announced it is ready to propose the exclusion of additional Russian banks from the SWIFT system at short notice if necessary.

“Depending on Russia’s behaviour, the Commission is prepared to add further Russian banks at short notice,” the EC said in a statement.

Johnson, Zelensky agree on need to strengthen sanctions against Russia

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky during a telephone conversation on the necessity of additional sanctions against Russia, Downing Street announced in a statement.

“Both leaders agreed on the need for sanctions to go further to exert maximum pressure on President Putin in the coming days,” the readout of Johnson’s call with Zelensky said.

China to continue trade relations with Russia

Beijing will maintain normal trade relations with Moscow despite international sanctions, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stated.

Moscow: Berlin’s decision on Nord Stream 2 sets precedent of using business project for political gains

The Russian Foreign Ministry has condemned the actions of the German government regarding the Nord Stream 2 project, saying it was “the logical culmination of the doctrine of the primacy of politics over economics”.

Russia says severing relations with UK possible

Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin has not ruled out the possibility of Moscow severing diplomatic ties with London over its decision to impose sanctions on Russia over the operation in Ukraine.

He told the Russian Rossiya 24 broadcaster there have been calls in the UK parliament to deliberate on deporting all Russian nationals, which amount to approximately 66,000, from the UK territory.

“In the parliament there are the most exotic calls, for example, to expel all ethnic Russians or to expel all Russian citizens. I have heard that,” Kelin continued.

VP says “everything is on table” as US continues to assess sanctions on Russia

US Vice President Kamala Harris said “everything is on the table” as the US assesses economic sanctions imposed on Russia for launching an attack on Ukraine and continued to stress Washington will not send troops to fight Russian forces in Ukraine.

“What we are going to continue to do is stand firm with our allies in terms of reassessing what we are doing with sanctions. Everything is on the table for consideration, frankly,” Harris told NBC’s “TODAY Show.”

Harris continued, “What we are not going to do and that must be said also, as the President has continuously said, we are not going to put US troops in Ukraine to fight the Russians on the ground or in the air. But we are firm in our preparedness to defend our NATO alliance and our allies, every inch of the NATO territory, and we will continue to do that.”

Harris added that Russia is already seeing the effects of the economic retaliatory measures the US has levied against the nation.

“The ruble is in a free fall. What we’ve seen is the Russian stock market is closed. What we’ve seen is that Russia has received a credit rating of basically junk. So we know it’s having impact,” she noted.

“What history will show is that Vladimir Putin basically ended up strengthening NATO and weakening Russia,” the vice president continued.

Johsnon says Putin guilty of ‘war crime’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he believes Russia’s actions in Ukraine qualify as a “war crime”.

“What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin’s regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians … in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime,” Johnson told the United Kingdom’s Parliament.

EU bans broadcasts by RT, Sputnik

The European Council announced a decision to ban all broadcasting activities by RT and Sputnik in its jurisdiction. It accused the channels of spreading disinformation to their audiences.

Russia: No guarantees there won’t be incidents with NATO in light of arms supplies to Ukraine

There are no guarantees that there won’t be any incidents with NATO as the alliance continues to supply arms to Ukraine, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.

“We are extremely concerned about those arms delivery programmes”, he stated, adding, “Everything in this situation is very dangerous, there are no guarantees that there will be no incidents [with NATO]”.

Ukraine claims over 2k civilians killed in invasion

More than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have so far been killed during Russia’s ongoing invasion, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service claimed.

“More than 2,000 Ukrainians died, not counting our defenders,” the service said in a statement.

“Children, women and our defense forces are losing their lives every hour,” the statement added.

According to the service, some transport infrastructures, houses, hospitals and kindergartens have been “destroyed” by Russian forces over the last seven days.

The United Nations’ reported civilian death toll is far lower than the “more than 2,000” figure, although the UN has cautioned that the real toll is likely to be “much higher.”

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights announced Tuesday that more than 500 civilian casualties had been reported in Ukraine by the UN – including at least 136 civilians killed and 400 civilians injured.

“Most of these casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and air strikes,” the UN office said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These are only the casualties we were able to cross-check, and the real toll is likely to be much higher,” the statement added.

Russian cruise missile strikes Kharkiv city council building

Russian forces have fired a cruise missile into the city council building in Kharkiv, the deputy governor of the region Roman Semenukha claimed.

A key Russian target, Kharkiv has come under intense shelling over the past two days.

The mayor of Ukraine’s second largest city has delivered a defiant message, saying his city will “not surrender” to Russian forces.

Ihor Terekhov added his city is being hit by regular missile and air strikes, with many of the attacks targeting residential areas.

WH: Further US moves to punish Putin coming & targeting oil exports “not off table”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that more US efforts to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion of Ukraine are coming as the US seeks to squeeze the Russian economy.

During an appearance on CNN, she touted the global unity from NATO and other countries aimed at “holding President Putin accountable,” citing sanctions steps and other announced moves.

“The ruble has plummeted; they kept the stock market closed because it has been so devastating, and we’re seeing the impacts already,” she noted, also pointing to military and security assistance for Ukraine as she said there is “more to come to continue to squeeze Putin.”

Pressed on whether the US will target Russia’s fuel exports, she stated the US “wants to maximize the impact on President Putin” and those around him but made clear that the White House priority is to minimize the impact at home.

“It’s still on the table, it’s not off the table,” Psaki said of efforts to ban Russian oil exports.

But she added, “What he (Joe Biden) does not want to do is topple the global oil markets or the global marketplace, or impact the American people more with higher energy and gas prices. And obviously, the announcement that was made yesterday to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve here and do that in the united way, in a coordinated way with the global community, is an effort to address that and mitigate the impact, but that’s something we heavily weigh.”

She reiterated Biden’s vow to not send US troops to fight in Ukraine but pointed to humanitarian and economic assistance.

EU prepares fourth package of sanctions against Russia

The European Union is developing a fourth package of sanctions against Russia due to its military operation in Ukraine, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg announced.

Kremlin: Russia’s economy faces uphill battle, but has some degree of safety

The Russian economy is current weathering a serious blow due to the new Western sanctions, but there is a margin of safety, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“The Russian economy is now facing serious pressure, and a serious blow, I would say. There is a margin of safety, there is potential, and there are plans. Tireless efforts are underway. We will stand our ground,” he vowed.

He stated Russia’s authorities thoroughly calculated the entire range of potential sanctions on the country, from lightest to toughest.

Peskov said that the Russian government would consider all countries that introduce sanctions on the country to be “de facto unfriendly”.

EU cuts off seven major Russian banks from SWIFT

The European Union has disconnected Russian banks subject to sanctions from SWIFT. Seven major lenders in the country have been targeted, including VTB, Rossiya, Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Sovcombank, and VEB.RF. Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, is not on the list for now.

Kiev announces arrival of more Turkish attack drones

Turkey has delivered additional Bayraktar TB2 strike drones to Kiev, Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov claimed. The Turkish government did not immediately comment on the statement.

Ukraine confirms second round of talks with Russia

A second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place on Wednesday evening in Belarus, the Office of the President of Ukraine has confirmed. Kiev, however, warned that it would not accept any ultimatums from Moscow.

Oil hits $113 as Russia fears mount

The relentless rally in oil prices hit new milestones on Wednesday as Brent soared beyond $113 a barrel for the first time in nearly eight years on deepening concerns about Russia’s oil supply.

Brent, the world benchmark, jumped 5.4% in recent trading to $110.20 a barrel. At one point it hit $113.02 — up nearly 8% on the day and the highest intraday level since June 2014.

US crude jumped another 4% Wednesday morning to $107.42 a barrel. US crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), spiked as much as 7.8% to $111.50 a barrel – the highest level since August 2013.

UN: Nearly 836,000 refugees have fled

Nearly 836,000 refugees have now fled the conflict in Ukraine for safety in neighbouring countries, United Nations figures show.

In all, 835,928 people have fled the country’s borders, the according to the website of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR – a huge jump from the 677,000 announced Tuesday afternoon by agency chief Filippo Grandi. More than half have headed west into Poland.

“Massive” shelling continues to rock Kharkiv

Authorities stated central parts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, continued to be subjected to “massive shelling and bombing”, while firefighting is “underway.”

“As a result of enemy missiles hitting, administrative buildings collapsed with subsequent fires,” regional emergency services announced.

‘Four killed’ as Russia raids pound Kharkiv

Emergency services and the mayor of Kharkiv say four more people have been killed in the city as Russian air and rocket strikes continue.

Nine others have been wounded, they added.

“Kharkiv is a Russian-speaking city. Every fourth person in Kharkiv has relatives in the Russian Federation. But the city’s attitude to Russia today is completely different to what it ever was before,” Mayor Ihor Terekhov stated in a video posted online.

“We never expected this could happen: total destruction, annihilation, genocide against the Ukrainian people – this is unforgivable,” he noted.

Kremlin says Russian economy taking “serious blows” when asked about Biden’s State of the Union speech

The Russian economy is being impacted as a result of sanctions imposed by the West, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged when asked about US President Joe Biden’s remarks in his State of the Union speech.

“Russia’s economy is experiencing serious blows,” Peskov said in call with foreign journalists on Wednesday.

“But there is a certain margin of safety, there is potential, there are some plans, work is underway,” he added.

“[The economy] will stay on its feet,” he concluded.

In his speech on Tuesday, Biden stated the Russian economy had been left “reeling” from all the sanctions.

Natural gas prices in Europe hit record high

The price of natural gas in Europe hit a record on Wednesday amid concerns from traders that its supply could be disrupted due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Benchmark futures jumped as high as 194 euros ($215) per megawatt hour. That’s a 60% leap versus Tuesday and more than double where prices stood on Friday.

IAEA says Ukraine has requested help safeguarding nuclear plants

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it has received a request from Ukraine’s nuclear power authority “to provide immediate assistance in coordinating activities in relation to the safety of the Chornobyl (Chernobyl) NPP and other nuclear facilities.”

The request came as Russia notified the IAEA that its forces have taken control of the territory around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Tuesday. The Russian letter to the IAEA said personnel at the plant continued their “work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in normal mode of operation. The radiation levels remain normal.”

Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, last week.

Russian police allegedly detain children for taking anti-war signs to Ukraine’s embassy in Moscow

Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s leading independent newspaper, has reported that children have been detained by Russian police for laying flowers and anti-war signs at the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow.

“In the Presnenskoye police department, children and their parents are left overnight,” the newspaper tweeted in Russian, alongside a photo of the children and their parents.

“The police detained them when they laid flowers at the Ukrainian embassy,” it added.

Alexei Navalny calls for anti-war protests worldwide

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has called for daily anti-war protests in Russia, his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter.

Nuclear plant workers block access to Russian forces

Hundreds of workers and local people have blocked an access road to a Ukrainian nuclear power plant near the southeastern town of Enerhodar, as Russian forces advance in the area.

Dmytro Orlov, mayor of Enerhodar, said on his Facebook page: “We conveyed the position of our city and its residents that the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant] is under reliable protection, that its workers and residents of Enerhodar are under Ukrainian flags.”

“All municipal services are working in emergency mode. Nobody is going to surrender the city. People are determined,” Orlov added.

Russia informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that its military forces have taken control of the territory around the Zaporizhzhia plant, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated Tuesday.

Kyiv mayor says Russia massing troops closer to capital

Russia is gathering troops closer and closer to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital’s mayor says.

“We are preparing and will defend Kyiv,” Vitali Klitschko announced in a statement on Facebook, adding, “Kyiv stands and will stand.”

He also reminded the city’s residents to continue obeying a city-wide curfew in effect from 8pm to 7am each day.

A Russian delegation will be “in place” for new round of talks with Ukraine

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said a Russian delegation will be “in place” Wednesday for new round of talks with Ukraine, but gave no additional details about the location or format of the discussions.

“This afternoon, in the late afternoon, our delegation will be in place waiting for Ukrainian negotiators,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters, adding, “Our delegation will be ready to continue the conversation tonight.”

Peskov declined to give the location of possible talks. On Monday, talks took place been Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Belarus, not far from the Ukrainian border. The two sides discussed a potential ceasefire, according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser, but did not yield any concrete result.

The Kremlin spokesperson said he could not predict whether a Ukrainian delegation would show, adding, “we hope it happens.”

Zelensky adviser says more Russia talks being considered

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has noted that Kyiv is discussing whether to hold more negotiations with Russia.

A meeting between delegations from the two countries on Monday ended without any agreement except to keep talking.

Podolyak told the Reuters news agency that a “substantial agenda” was needed for any follow-up meeting.

Economy minister: Germany is prepared if Russia stops gas exports

Germany is prepared should Russia stop exporting gas to the country, which is Europe’s largest economy, Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said.

Asked by radio station Deutschlandfunk what the government would do if Russia stops gas exports, Habeck replied: “We are prepared for that. I can give the all-clear for the current winter and summer.”

“For the next winter, we would take further measures,” he added, pointing to planned new legislation to ensure gas storage is full for winter.

“So we are also taking precautions for the worst case, which has not happened yet because the Russians are delivering,” he said, adding that in a worse case scenario Berlin could keep “coal-fired power plants in reserve, maybe even keep them running,” but that it was committed to moving to renewables in the medium-term.

Mayor claims heavy shelling of Mariupol leaves dozens injured

Fierce fighting is continuing around Mariupol, as Russian and Moscow-backed separatist forces have surrounded the southern Ukrainian city of about 400,000 people on three sides.

Residents reported heavy shelling overnight, but Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said Ukrainian authorities were able to restore some mobile communications despite working as the city was being shelled and shot at.

Boychenko stated early Wednesday that the number of wounded civilians “is growing every day.”

“Today there are 128 people in our hospitals. Our doctors don’t even go home anymore. They are fighting for the lives of Mariupol residents,” he added.

Russian FM: Third World War would be nuclear & disastrous

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that if unleashed, a Third World War would be waged with the use of nuclear weapons and it would be disastrous.

He stated that Moscow is preparing for the second round of talks with Kiev, but that the Ukrainian side is dragging its feet at the behest of Washington.

Lavrov said Russia was ready for sanctions that were imposed against it but was surprised that the penalties affected athletes and journalists.

The foreign minister added Moscow’s special operation in Ukraine was launched with the aim of disarming the current regime in Kiev and preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Russian troops destroy 1,502 Ukrainian military facilities

The Russian troops have wiped out 1,502 Ukrainian military facilities and destroyed 47 aircraft since the start of the special operation in Ukraine, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

Diplomatic source: Russian-Ukrainian talks not cancelled, merely postponed

The Russian-Ukrainian talks have not been cancelled, a source close to the talks told TASS Wednesday, adding that they have merely been postponed.

Mayor says Mariupol under heavy shelling

Ukraine’s key southeastern port city of Mariupol is under constant shelling from Russian forces, its mayor says.

“We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland,” Vadym Boichenko stated live on Ukrainian TV.

The intensity of the attacks meant it was proving impossible to evacuate those who had been wounded, he added.

Russian paratroopers land in Kharkiv, clashes erupt

The Ukrainian military says immediate clashes have erupted after Russian paratroopers landed in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv on the seventh day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour.

“Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv … and attacked a local hospital,” the army announced in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

“There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians,” it added.

More explosions reported in Kharkiv

Kharkiv’s regional police department and Kharkiv National University have been targeted in a military strike, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service. Three people were injured, according to a statement from the state’s emergency service.

Ukrainian flag removed at Moscow embassy

The Ukrainian flag has been brought down at the country’s embassy in Moscow, Russian state news agency RIA reported.

According to RIA, a sign indicating the building was home to the Ukrainian embassy was also removed and the doors sealed.

The Ukrainian government severed diplomatic ties with Russia on February 24, after Moscow ordered an invasion of the country.

Ukraine denies Kherson has fallen

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has denied reports that the southern city of Kherson has fallen to the Russians.

“According to the info from our brigade the battles are going on now,” a spokesperson for the ministry said, adding, “The city is not captured totally, some parts are under our control.”

Russian state media had previously reported that Russian troops had taken full control of the city.

Finance minister: Ukraine has enough for current spending despite war

Ukraine has enough funds to cover all current spending, the country’s finance minister has said, noting the scale of international support amid Russia’s assault.

“We have huge international support… We carry out all social payments, pensions, salaries and financial support for the army,” Sergiy Marchenko told Ukrainian TV in an interview, adding the ministry would continue issuing domestic war bonds.

Map: Russian troops advance in these regions inside Ukraine

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7

Zelensky claims almost 6,000 Russian troops killed during invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.

Referring to Russia’s attack on Babyn Yar – the site of a World War Two massacre of Jews by German occupation troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries – Zelensky said, “This strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign.”

“They don’t know a thing about Kyiv, about our history. But they all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all,” he added in the address made on video.

Zelensky has stated Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before meaningful talks on a ceasefire could start, as a first round of negotiations this week had yielded scant progress.

MoD: Russian Army takes full control of Kherson

Russia’s Defence Ministry announced that Russian military units have taken full control of the Ukrainian regional centre of Kherson.

Spokesman Igor Konashenkov stated that Kherson’s infrastructure, support facilities, and urban transport are operating on a daily basis.

OSCE mission in Ukraine announces evacuation of its observers from Kharkov

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) announced it was evacuating its observers from Kharkov to Dnepr, for their further withdrawal from the country, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine said in its daily report.

“On 1 March, the Monitoring Teams from Donetsk and Luhansk Patrol Hubs in non-government controlled areas were evacuated, while the Kharkiv Monitoring Team was withdrawn to Dnipro, pending onward movement out of the country,” the mission stated.

“Due to ongoing kinetic activity, including continued shelling and reports of fighting as well as the dynamic movement of front lines, the Monitoring Team located in Kherson city continues to shelter in place,” according to the report.

“The Team is conducting dynamic security risk assessment to establish a window to allow them to move safely,” it added.

Poland begins seizure of Russian property in Warsaw

Poland began seizing Russian property in Warsaw, including the school building at the Russian embassy, the republic’s foreign ministry announced in a statement.

Donetsk’s hospital and school damaged during shelling by Kiev forces

The buildings of a hospital and school have been damaged during shelling by the Kiev forces in the Kuibyshevskyi District of Donetsk, mayor Alexey Kulemzin claimed.

Apart from houses and commercial buildings, the Dolphin Sports Complex was also hit. Kulemzin reported that some other parts of the city were damaged. As a result of the shelling of Donetsk’s Kirovsky District, a gas pipe was damaged, while in the Kievsky District, the Tochmash plant was hit, according to the mayor.

Ukrainian official claims at least 21 killed, 112 wounded in shelling of Kharkiv

At least 21 people have been killed and 112 wounded in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, regional governor Oleg Synegubov has claimed.

The authorities announced Russian missile attacks hit the centre of Ukraine’s second-largest city, including residential areas and the regional administration building.

South Korea to ban 7 Russian banks as part of international sanctions

South Korea will ban financial transactions with seven major Russian banks and their affiliates as part of its economic sanctions on Russia.

The country’s Finance Ministry released a detailed plan on the sanctions after consulting with the US Department of the Treasury. The seven Russian banks are Sberbank, VEB, PSB, VTB, Otkritie, Sovcom and Novikom.

Adviser to interior minister: 4 dead in Russian strike on Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr 

Four people were killed when homes in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr were hit on Tuesday by a Russian cruise missile apparently aimed at a nearby air base, Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said on his Telegram channel.

He stated the residential buildings near the base of the 95th Airborne Brigade in Zhytomyr, 120 km (75 miles) west of the capital Kyiv, had been set on fire.

“So far, four people have died. Including a child,” he added.

Ukraine Army: Russian airborne troops land in Kharkiv

Russian airborne troops have landed in the eastern city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian Army says, adding that there were immediate clashes.

“Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv… and attacked a local hospital,” the army said on messaging app Telegram, adding, “There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians.”

Oil hits $110 a barrel despite emergency measures

Crude oil prices are up sharply on Wednesday, surging nearly 5% on concerns of a supply crunch even after 31 countries agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world.

International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were up 4.96% at $110.18 a barrel at 11:22 p.m. EST, while US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were up 4.93% at $108.51 a barrel.

Ukrainian authorities say Zelensky assassination plot foiled

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council chief Oleksiy Danilov claimed that Ukrainian forces had foiled an assassination plot against President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a Telegram post from Ukrainian authorities.

Zelensky has said since the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine that he would be a prime target for assassination. He had warned that Russian “sabotage groups” had entered Kyiv and were hunting for him and his family.

According to the Telegram message, Danilov said that a unit of elite Chechen special forces, known as Kadyrovites, had been behind the plot and had subsequently been “eliminated.”

“We are well aware of the special operation that was to take place directly by the Kadyrovites to eliminate our president,” Danilov noted.

Ukrainian authorities had been tipped off about the plot by members of Russia’s Federal Security Service who do not support the war, he added.

Ukraine prepares to ban Russian ships from entering its territorial waters

The authorities of Ukraine are preparing to prohibit Russian ships from entering its ports and territorial waters and vice versa, the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said.

The ministry is also drafting “a request to the International Maritime Organization with the goal of spreading this information and having more states imposing similar sanctions,” the Ukrainian ministry added.

Google blocks RT, Sputnik from Play app store in Europe

Alphabet Inc’s Google has announced it has blocked mobile apps connected to RT and Sputnik from its Play store, in line with an earlier move to remove the Russian state publishers from its news-related features.

A number of tech companies have limited distribution and advertising tools to Russian news outlets in recent days as the European Commission readies a ban on them out of concern that they are spreading misinformation about the war in Ukraine.

Twitter to comply with EU sanctions on Russian state media

Twitter will comply with the EU’s sanctions on Russian state-affiliated media RT and Sputnik when the EU order takes effect, the social network has announced.

“The European Union (EU) sanctions will likely legally require us to withhold certain content in EU member states,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters, adding, “We intend to comply with the order when it goes into effect.”

Ukrainian official: Russian forces enter Kherson

Russian forces have entered the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, but Ukraine still controls the city administration building, Ukrainian interior ministry advisor Vadym Denysenko said on television.

The Russian military appears to have taken central Kherson, screenshots posted to social media and a video obtained by CNN show.

The video shows Russian military vehicles at a roundabout in northern Kherson. The screenshots from the webcam show Russian military vehicles parked on Svobody Square in central Kherson.

UNGA will censure Russia over Ukraine invasion

The United Nations General Assembly is set to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, a move that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.

While GA resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight.

The draft text “demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.

Cenbank: Moscow Exchange won’t resume stock trading on Wednesday

Russia’s central bank kept stock market trading on the Moscow Exchange suspended for a third day in a row on Wednesday, but announced it would allow a limited range of operations for the first time this week.

Rouble weakens to record low, threatening Russian living standards

The rouble weakened past 100 against the dollar in Moscow trade and hit a record low of 117 in other markets, threatening the living standards of ordinary Russians as the country is hit by harsh Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

EU bans Russian media outlets, banks from SWIFT

The European Union has banned Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik from broadcasting in the bloc while banning “certain” Russian banks from the SWIFT bank messaging system, the EU’s rotating presidency announced.

The moves, due to come into force Wednesday after publication in the official journal of the EU, come as Brussels intensifies its sanctions regime on Moscow in response for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden announces US will investigate Russian oligarchs and close off airspace to Russian planes

The US Department of Justice is launching a task force to investigate Russian oligarchs, President Joe Biden announced during his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

“Tonight I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more,” the president said, drawing a standing ovation from both Democrats and Republicans.

Biden added the US would join with European allies to “find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, your private jets.”

Speaking directly to oligarchs, he noted, “We’re coming for your ill-begotten gains.”

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 7

Biden expressed solidarity with Ukrainian people, but reiterated that the US would not deploy troops to Ukraine.

“Let me be clear — our forces are not engaged and will not engage in the conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine,” he told members of Congress gathered for his State of the Union address.

American troops were deployed to Europe not to fight in Ukraine, “but to defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west,” he stressed.

“For that purpose, we have mobilized American ground forces, air squadrons, ship deployments to protect NATO countries including Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia,” he added.

Biden said Russian President Vladimir V. Putin “badly miscalculated” by invading Ukraine and vowed to make Moscow pay a steep economic “price” even as he repeated his pledge to avoid a direct military confrontation.

Pentagon mulling more permanent US troops in Eastern Europe

The Pentagon is deciding if it should add more US troops to NATO-member countries in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis following Russia’s attack on Ukraine last week, a top Defense Department official stated.

ICJ to hold Ukraine war hearings on March 7, 8

The International Court of Justice has said in a statement it will hold hearings on March 7 and 8 over the war in Ukraine as fighting intensifies.

“The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will hold public hearings in the case concerning Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation) on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 March 2022,”, the court added.

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan already announced he was launching an investigation on the “situation in Ukraine” following Russia’s invasion.

Pentagon: US to continue arms supplies to Ukraine

The United States will continue its military support to Ukraine, including by supplying weapons to the country, the US Department of Defense announced.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had a phone conversation with Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov on Tuesday “to offer his support for the Ukrainian people” amid the ongoing Russian military operation.

“Secretary Austin emphasized that the United States is united with our Allies and partners in our resolve to support Ukraine, including through the continued provision of defensive security assistance. The leaders committed to continuing their close coordination during this war that Russia alone has started,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

US moves to expel a 13th Russian “intelligence operative” working at UN

The United States has begun the process of expelling a 13th Russian “intelligence operative” for allegedly abusing “their privileges of residence” in the US, according to a US official.

The individual is a United Nations staff member, the official stated.

Deputy US Ambassador Richard Mills had confirmed that they had asked 12 Russian UN diplomats to leave the country due to their alleged engagement in “activities that were not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats.”

UN Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric also announced the additional expulsion during a news briefing Tuesday.

“I can confirm that the United States Mission informed the Secretariat on 28 February 2022 of its decision to take action under Section 13(b) of the UN-US Headquarters Agreement with respect to a staff member of the Secretariat. We regret that we find ourselves in this situation but are engaging with the host country in line with Section 13(b). In deference to the privacy of the individual concerned and the sensitivity of the matter we will not comment further,” Dujarric added.

European Parliament adopts resolution condemning Russia’s operation in Ukraine

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) almost unanimously approved a resolution condemning Russia’s military operation in Ukraine and calling for tough sanctions against Moscow, including restriction of oil and gas imports from Russia and disconnecting the country from SWIFT.

The deputies also asked EU institutions and EU member states to work on granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for membership in the EU, as well as to prepare a multi-billion dollar plan to help that country.

Turkey does not plan to impose sanctions on Russia

Ankara does not plan to impose sanctions in Russia in order to maintain a channel for dialogue, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told CNN Turk.

“We need to act based on our country’s priorities. There should be a party capable of holding talks with Russia. Who will talk with Russia if all the bridges are burned down? We don’t plan to impose sanctions so that we keep this channel open,” he pointed out.

Kalin added that Ankara “does not intend to take measures that would harm” Turkey.

“We maintain close relations [with Russia] in areas such as tourism, natural gas supplies and agriculture,” he explained.

Health source: Maternity clinic near Kyiv hit by a missile

A missile hit a private maternity clinic near Kyiv, Ukraine, according to the Adonis maternity clinic chief Vitaliy Gyrin’s Facebook post.

“A missile hit the maternity clinic. Much damage was done but the building is standing. Everyone has been evacuated,” Gyrin wrote on his Facebook page.

Gyrin also specifically asked people not to come to the clinic, “Most important is do not come now to get anyone from here. Everyone is in a secure place and in safety. This is for sure.”

Gyrin also posted photos on his Facebook page that show the damaged building of the Adonis clinic.

New military strike in Kharkiv hits apartment complex near hospital

A new military strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, has hit an apartment complex near a hospital, CNN reported.

The explosion near the hospital comes hours after a military strike caused significant damage to Kharkiv’s regional administration building.

In one video, a fire rages at a clearly damaged apartment complex, located just across the street from the hospital. In another video, at least two bodies are seen on the ground in the area surrounding the apartment building.

Many nuclear power reactors in Ukraine are no longer producing electricity

Six of Ukraine’s 15 working nuclear reactors have stopped sending power into the nation’s electrical grid — a high rate of disconnection compared with routine operations before the Russian invasion. The reduction in output might result from the war’s interference with operation of the plants, which require a wealth of industrial supplies and care. The cutbacks, Western experts say, may spiral into rolling blackouts that could further cripple the beleaguered country.

Analysts say Russian convoy likely signals a shift to invasion strategy

It has been a menacing presence in the war in Ukraine: Satellite images have shown a military convoy stretching 40 miles long on a roadway north of Kyiv, with a number of homes and buildings seen burning nearby.

Experts fear the convoy, which includes supply and armored attack vehicles, could be used to encircle and cut off the capital or to launch a full-on assault. The front end of the convoy is just 20 miles from the capital.

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