Russia-Ukraine Live Updates: Biden Announces Ban of Russian Aircraft From U.S. Airspace

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Military facility destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on Tuesday
Military facility destroyed by recent shelling in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on TuesdayCredit: GENYA SAVILOV - AFP
Updates

Zelenskyy says Russia aims to erase Ukrainian history, says 6,000 Russian troops have been killed

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday 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 - Zelenskyy 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.

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Blinken 'appalled' by reports Kyiv Holocaust memorial bombed

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemns Russia's "brutal war against Ukraine" and says Washington is "appalled by reports that Russian bombs have struck near the memorial site of Babyn Yar, killing more people where tens of thousands of Jews were massacred in the Holocaus

Reuters

Around 70 Japanese have volunteered to fight for Ukraine

Several dozen Japanese men have answered a Ukrainian call for foreign volunteers to fight Russia's invasion, according to a media report on Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Sunday for the formation of an "international legion," prompting dozens from the United States and Canada to volunteer.

As of Tuesday, 70 Japanese men - including 50 former members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and two veterans of the French Foreign Legion - had applied to be volunteers, the Mainichi Shimbun daily said, quoting a Tokyo company handling the volunteers.

A Ukrainian Embassy spokesperson acknowledged receiving calls from people "wanting to fight for Ukraine," but said they knew nothing further about volunteers. A Feb 28 social media post from the embassy said it thanked Japanese for their many inquiries about volunteering but added a proviso.

The Associated Press

Biden vows to check Russian aggression in Ukraine

Addressing a concerned nation and anxious world, President Joe Biden vowed in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night to check Russian aggression in Ukraine, tame soaring U.S. inflation and deal with the fading but still dangerous coronavirus.

Biden highlighted the bravery of Ukrainian defenders and the commitment of a newly reinvigorated Western alliance that has worked to rearm the Ukrainian military and cripple Russia’s economy through sanctions.

Biden announced that the U.S. is following Canada and the European Union in banning Russian planes from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. He also said the Justice Department was launching a task force to go after crimes of Russian oligarchs, whom he called “corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime.”

“Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people,” Biden said. “He will never extinguish their love of freedom. He will never weaken the resolve of the free world.”

DPA

U.S. shuts airspace to Russian aircraft over Ukraine invasion

The United States is closing its airspace to Russian aircraft over the Ukraine invasion, U.S. President Joe Biden has said.

"We will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights – further isolating Russia," Biden said in his State of the Union address.

The move follows similar measures imposed by the European Union and Canada. Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsiya in response announced that it was closing Russian airspace to 35 countries.

"When dictators do not pay a price for their aggression they cause more chaos," Biden said.

DPA

Ankara rejects passage of Russian warships through Turkish straits

Turkey has rejected further access to the Turkish straits for Russian warships, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu told Turkish Habertürk radio late Tuesday.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the Bosporus and Daradanelles Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. While trade ships may pass the strait freely in peacetime, battleships face certain restrictions.

Moscow had submitted requests for the passage of ships and withdrawn them after the Turkish side had asked it to do so, Cavusoglu added in the interview with Habertürk.

Reuters

Four 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 said 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 said.

Moscow warned residents of the capital Kyiv on Tuesday to flee their homes and rained rockets on Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, as Russian commanders intensified their bombardment of urban areas in a shift of tactics after their six-day assault stalled.

DPA

Belgium closes Kyiv embassy

Belgium has closed its embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv amid Russia's invasion of the country.

The Belgian Foreign Ministry cited the changed security situation as the reason for the decision in a post on Twitter Tuesday evening.
Staff have already left the country, news agency Belga reported citing the ministry.

Consular support for Belgians will continue from the borders to Ukraine's neighbor countries, according to the report.

The Belgian embassy had recently been moved to the French embassy due to the war. Other countries including the United States have already closed their embassy operations in Ukraine.

DPA

Germany's Baerbock calls on countries to condemn Russia at UN

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made an emotional appeal at the United Nations for countries to vote in favor of a resolution to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Now we all have to choose between peace and aggression, between justice and the will of the strongest, between taking action and turning a blind eye," she said at the urgent meeting of the 193-member UN General Assembly in New York.

She accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of abusing Russia's power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and said Russia's war was "based on lies."

Russia has said it is acting in self-defense while the world has watched it build up troops for months in preparation, and Russia has said it is protecting Russian speakers in Ukraine while troops bomb their homes, Baerbock said.

Reuters

Apple pauses all product sales in Russia

Apple has stopped all product sales in Russia, the company announced Tuesday.

Additionally, Apple said it has limited Apple Pay and other services in Russia and that RT News and Sputnik News will no longer be available for download outside of Russia.

Bar Peleg

50 Ukrainians were denied entry to Israel since Russian invasion

Israel has authorized 303 Ukrainian citizens to enter Israel since war broke out on Thursday, but rejected entry to 50 Ukrainians, according to Population and Immigration Authority figures released on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, only two people were denied entry, and 97 were let into the country. The lower number of refusals stems from Israel’s amendment to the policy of entry of Ukrainians overnight into Tuesday.

Presently, Ukrainians fleeing the war are being required to show that they do not intend to settle in Israel as a condition to their being allowed into the country.

Reuters

U.K. imposes sanctions on Belarusian figures over Ukraine invasion

Britain said on Tuesday it had imposed sanctions against Belarusian individuals and organizations over the country's role in facilitating the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Four defense officials, including the Belarus Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defense Major General Victor Gulevich, and two military enterprises have been included, the British foreign office said.

“The (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko regime actively aids and abets Russia’s illegal invasion and will be made to feel the economic consequences for its support for Putin,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss said in a statement.

Reuters

Lapid condemns Babi Yar bombing without naming Russia

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid took to Twitter to condemn the Russian missile attack that hit the Babi Yar Holocaust monument, without mentioning Russia by name.

“We condemn the attack on the Jewish cemetery near the memorial site commemorating the Holocaust of the Jews of Kyiv and the murder of the Jewish people in Babi Yar," he wrote. "We call for preserving and respecting the sanctity of the site.”

Reuters

Zelenskyy says he spoke with Biden about sanctions and defense aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke to U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday about U.S. leadership on sanctions against Russia and defense assistance to Ukraine as it battles Russian troops.

"We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible. Thank you for your support!," he said on Twitter.

DPA

Putin reiterates conditions to end 'military operation' in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated that the government in Kiev must recognize the "people's republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk as a condition for the end of the “military operation” in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.

Kiev must also acknowledge Russia's sovereignty over the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and commit to further renounce nuclear weapons in the future, the Kremlin announced.

In addition, Western-friendly Ukraine must be demilitarized and adopt a neutral status, he said.

It was the first statement of this kind after representatives of Ukraine and Russia held peace talks in Belarus on Monday. The first meeting ended without a breakthrough.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Russia strikes Kyiv TV tower, site of Babi Yar massacre

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned Russia's strike on Kyiv’s primary television transmitter on Tuesday evening, in which five Ukrainians were killed. The Ukrainian capital’s iconic tower stands directly adjacent to the Babi Yar massacre site, where tens of thousands of Jews were killed by the Nazis and their local collaborators within a 48-hour period in 1941.

"To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating…," Zelenskyy tweeted.

The attack threw several local stations off the air, according to Ukrainian media.

In recent years, the Ukrainian government and private philanthropists have been working to build a memorial complex at the ravine, which had previously been filled in and turned into a park.

Footage of the attack circulating online showed a plume of smoke rising into the air next to the distinctive red and white metal tower as sirens blared across the beleaguered city.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said Russia was barbaric for attacking on Tuesday a TV tower near a memorial site that commemorates the victims of Babyn Yar, one of the biggest single massacres of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.

"Russian troops fired on the TV tower, near the Memorial complex #BabynYar," it said on Twitter. "Russian criminals do not stop at anything in their barbarism. Russia = barbarian."

Read the full story here

Jonathan Lis

Foreign Ministry to bring body of Israeli shot dead by Ukrainian forces for burial in Israel

Israel's Foreign Ministry is working to transfer the body of Roman Brodesky, an Israeli citizen shot dead by Ukrainian soldiers on Monday, for burial in Israel as soon as possible.

Brodesky, 42, who had been living in Ukraine for the past few years, was driving in a convoy of vehicles making its way to the border with Moldova. The information Israel received indicates that Ukrainian soldiers took him out of his vehicle at a roadblock 95 kilometers south of Kyiv and shot him, apparently in a case of mistaken identity.

Jonathan Lis

Fearing Russia, Israel downgrades mission to UN General Assembly

Fearing confrontation with Russia, Israel's Foreign Ministry decided to send a lower ranking delegation to the UN assembly meeting condemning Russia. Israel's representative to the UN, Gilad Erdan, will be replaced by his deputy at the meeting.

A senior political source said that the expected Israeli support for the U.S.' motion condemning Russia was unlikely to harm relations between Moscow and Jerusalem, and would not compromise Israel's ability to carry out further attacks in Syria.

Messages in this vein were reportedly delivered from Russia to Israel, which views Ukraine and Syria as two separate realms.

Since Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war turned the tide in favor of Bashar Assad, Israel has generally coordinated its strikes in the neighboring country with Moscow.

The Associated Press

40-mile Russian convoy threatens Kyiv; shelling intensifies

A 40-mile convoy of Russian tanks and other vehicles threatened Ukraine's capital Tuesday as an intense shelling attack targeted the country's second-largest city, and both sides looked to resume talks in the coming days aimed at stopping the fighting.

'Syria was Putin's laboratory. Now he's taking his methods to Ukraine'. LISTEN

The country's embattled president said he believed the stepped-up shelling was designed to force him into concessions.

“I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday in a video address. He did not offer details of hours long talks that took place Monday, but he said Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting another with rocket artillery.”

The developments came as Russia finds itself increasingly isolated as a result of international condemnation and potentially backbreaking economic sanctions. Five days into the invasion, the Russian military's movements have been stalled by fierce resistance on the ground and a surprising inability to dominate the airspace.

Reuters

Ukraine asks China to help stop Russian invasion, says Ukrainian foreign ministry

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asked his Chinese counterpart in a phone call on Tuesday to use Beijing's ties with Moscow to stop Russia's military invasion of its neighbor, the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement.

According to the statement, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kuleba that Beijing was ready to make every effort to help end the war through diplomacy.

China, which has grown closer with Moscow in recent years while it has also had cordial diplomatic ties and strong trade links with Ukraine, has refused to condemn Russia's attack on the country or to call its actions there an invasion.

The call between the two is the first to have been reported since Russia's attack on its neighbor last Thursday. It was initiated by Kuleba, according to China's foreign ministry.

Reuters

Europe must prepare for 'millions' of Ukrainian refugees, says EU home affairs commissioner

The European Union must prepare for "millions" more refugees fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine after more than 400,000 have passed into the bloc, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Tuesday on a visit to Slovakia.

She said she hoped the European Council would activate the temporary protection directive on Thursday giving protection to those fleeing, and added they were looking at deploying more people to help the EU country's bordering Ukraine.

Reuters

Ukraine speaking to allies over how to boost air defenses

Ukraine is in talks with allies on how to support its air defenses, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday when asked about whether NATO should set up a no-fly zone to help the country after Russia's invasion.

"Everything they can help us with now – it's better to help now than find themselves eye to eye with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin later," Kuleba told an online news conference.

"No need to fear that NATO will find itself at war with Russia because of Ukraine. If Russia wins - you are next."

Reuters

Russia, Ukraine to hold second round of talks on Wednesday

The second round of Russia-Ukraine talks is planned for Wednesday, Russia's TASS news agency reported on Tuesday, quoting a source on the Russian side.

After the first round of negotiations which took place on Monday and produced no tangible results, the sides had said they would meet again in the coming days.

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Ukraine ‘still hopeful’ for Israeli weapons

Despite being disappointed with the Israeli response to its requests thus far, Kyiv still holds out hope that Jerusalem will eventually provide military supplies to aid in Ukraine’s battle against Russian forces which invaded the Eastern European nation last week.

Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon, Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk said that the question of weapons has been raised by Ukrainian officials, most recently during a Friday phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

This issue has come up in calls “with all western leaders supporting Ukraine because we are in huge need of defensive weapons,” he said, adding that despite repeatedly Israeli refusals, “we definitely are” still hopeful.

Beyond weapons, Ukraine has also requested helmets and protective vests as “unfortunately in Europe they are out of stock” and such equipment as needed for not only military personnel but civilians such as firefighters, paramedics and police, he added.

>>> Read the full report here

Reuters

Russia says it will strike security service sites in Kyiv

Russia will strike sites in Kyiv belonging to Ukraine's security service and a special operations unit, Russia's TASS and RIA news agencies quoted the Russian defense ministry as saying on Tuesday.

The strikes aim to prevent “information attacks” on Russia, the ministry said, urging those near the sites to leave the areas.

Reuters

U.K. willing to take in over 200,000 Ukrainian refugees

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Tuesday about the growing humanitarian crisis from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying refugee numbers could run into the millions as he offered to take 200,000 of them into Britain.

"We will make it easier for Ukrainians already living in the U.K. to bring their relatives to our country. Though the numbers are hard to calculate, there could be more than 200,000," Johnson said in Warsaw.

The reunion criteria for Ukrainians is being widened to allow people living in Britain to bring parents, siblings, adult sons and daughters and grandparents, Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.

Poland has estimated that about 350,000 people have crossed its border from Ukraine since last Thursday, while the European Union has emphasized the need to prepare for millions of refugees entering the bloc.

"When I spoke to (U.S.) President (Joe) Biden last night, we focussed on the humanitarian emergency that is now beginning. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's invasion has already cost hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and we must prepare for an even larger outflow, perhaps in the millions,” Johnson added.

Yarden Michaeli

Molotov cocktails for freedom: Ukrainians behind the front lines join the war against Russia

A great deal of attention has been directed over the past few days to Ukrainian efforts on the battlefield. Its soldiers are trying to repulse the invading forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin on several fronts. In some places they are doing better, and in others worse, such as in Kharkiv in the northeast – which on Monday suffered from heavy bombing and many reports of loss of life there. But the war effort isn't just made up of those soldiers rushing to the front lines – behind them on the home front are civilians, who may not have military training but who possess a great deal of determination to fight for their country.

The authorities are encouraging this. Ukrainian television is broadcasting instructions on how to make firebombs, while the country's leaders call for residents to oppose the Russian invasion. On television, they are even showing graphic illustrations describing exactly how to close the Molotov cocktail bottles with the fabric, and the Ukrainian defense ministry is calling for civilians “to prepare firebombs and bring down the occupiers.” On TikTok there are only social media influencers, and Twitter is mostly arguments – but on Instagram, at least the accounts belonging to the Ukrainian police – there are recipes for preparing Molotov cocktails.

Read the full report here.

DPA

Ukraine's Zelenskyy to EU: 'Prove that you are with us'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr ZelenskYy addresses the European Parliament special session, from a screen, to debate its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday.Credit: YVES HERMAN/ REUTERS

As Russia continued its offensive in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged a special sitting of the European Parliament to support his country's membership of the European Union and declared that "nobody will break us."

Ukraine is fighting "to be equal members of Europe," Zelensky said.
"I believe that today we are showing everybody that's exactly what we are. The European Union is going to be much stronger with us, that's for sure," he said, while condemning Russia's attacks on civilians in Ukraine, which he said were targeting Ukrainian children in particular.

"Prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans," Zelensky said via video link.

Yarden Michaeli

With glass bottles, fuel and cloth, Ukrainian citizens join the fight against Russia

Preparation of Molotov cocktails in Lvov, Monday.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Encouraged by government officials, citizens from all over Ukraine are mobilizing to prepare ammunition and to transport it amid Russia's ongoing invasion of their country.

While much attention has been paid to Ukrainian soldiers rushing to the front, the Ukrainian war effort is also being driven by Ukrainian citizens behind those troops. They lack military training, but what they do have is a lot of determination to fight for their country.

Governmental authorities have been encouraging their participation: On Ukrainian TV, they broadcast instructions on how to prepare Molotov cocktails. Detailed illustrations are on offer on exactly how to close the bottle with a cloth, and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry is itself calling on citizens "to prepare Molotov cocktails and to bring down the occupiers."

Analysis | Former Mossad chief: Putin’s nuclear threats show his desperation

Area near the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday.Credit: VYACHESLAV MADIYEVSKYY/ REUTER

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision Sunday to play the nuclear threat card for the first time since the end of the Cold War – and to do so less than a week after invading Ukraine with a massive ground force – is a significant development that invites serious analysis.

In his view, it reflects an element of growing desperation on Putin’s part.

Read the full analysis here

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.

Jewish students in Kharkiv take arms after Russian bombardment, local Hillel head says

The area near the regional administration building, which was hit by a missile according to city officials, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, released Tuesday.Credit: STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE/ REUTE

Only hours after a Russian missile attack struck the Kharkiv city center – including residential areas and the regional administration building – the head of the local Hillel chapter told Haaretz that multiple Jewish students from Ukraine’s second-largest city have joined the army as part of a national wave of civilians rallying to protect their homeland.

“We have volunteers from Hillel, students who went to the army, and we hope that Ukraine will be saved because Ukraine is a very wonderful place,” said Yulia Pototskaya.

She said that while it has been dangerous to go out on the streets of the northeastern Ukrainian city since the Russians attacked, she and other Hillel employees were doing what they could to help “our guys.”

Read the full article here

PM: Israel assisting Ukraine 'quietly'

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday.Credit: POOL/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the world order is undergoing a "huge upheaval" in the wake of Moscow's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

He said Israel's "measured, responsible" response to the conflict means Israel remains "one of the few" players who can still "communicate directly with the two sides, and assist where requested. And we are assisting, quietly."

Bennett also cited today's Israeli transport of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which among other things included medical supplies and water-purifying equipment.

He added that Israel is currently preparing to provide on-the-ground humanitarian assistance, and that it will be helping Jews migrate more easily to Israel from war-torn Ukraine.

Bennett made his comments Tuesday at an event for advanced technology development.

Reuters

Hungary supports EU membership for Ukraine, says foreign minister

Protest against Russia's military operation in Ukraine in front of the Russian Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday.Credit: Szilard Koszticsak /AP

Hungary is supporting an initiative by eight European Union leaders to start membership talks with Ukraine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told an online news briefing on Tuesday.

"Hungary backs this initiative and we urge Brussels to put the issue on the agenda," Szijjarto said, referring to a proposal by the presidents of three Baltic states, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Slovenia.

The presidents of the eight central and eastern European nations called on EU member states to immediately grant Ukraine a EU candidate country status and open membership talks, according to an open letter published on Monday.

"The Hungarian people did not want this war, Hungarians want peace and we are doing all we can to ensure that peace is restored as soon as possible," Szijjarto said, urging talks between Russia and Ukraine to resolve the standoff.

Szijjarto expressed solidarity with Ukraine, its eastern neighbor and home to a large ethnic Hungarian community, saying Hungary backed Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Reuters

U.S., Britain, other diplomats walk out on Russian official's speech in Geneva

Ambassadors and diplomats leave while Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (on screen) addresses with a pre-recorded video message the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday.Credit: FABRICE COFFRINI /AP

Dozens of diplomats from the European Union (EU), United States and Britain walked out of a speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the top U.N. human rights forum on Tuesday, according to a Reuters witness, in protest against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Lavrov was addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council remotely, having cancelled his attendance earlier due to what the Russian mission in Geneva said on Monday were EU states blocking his flight path.

Reuters

UN confirms 536 Ukrainian civilian casualties, says over 660,000 have fled

Refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, February.Credit: Visar Kryeziu /AP

The UN Refugee Agency has confirmed 536 Ukrainian civilian casualties since the Russian invasion of the country began, and says the real death toll is likely to be much higher than that. The UN also reports that over 660,000 Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, have fled to neighboring countries over the past six days.

At the border with Poland, refugees are waiting up to 60 hours to enter the country on miles-long queues. Queues at the Romanian border were up to 20 kilometers long, per Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Reuters

Ukrainian official: Russian forces trying to lay siege to Kyiv and Kharkiv

A destroyed bridge near the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, Ukraine, earlier this week.Credit: Maksim Levin / Reuters

Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said Russian forces were trying to lay siege to capital Kyiv and the northeastern city Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.

Russian troops fired artillery at Kyiv, Kharkiv and the southern port city of Mariupol overnight while the Ukrainian side shot down Russian military planes around the capital, Arestovych said in a televised briefing.

He described the current situation as under control.

Reuters

Russia-backed separatist leader intends to surround Mariupol, Ukraine

A residential building damaged by recent shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, in February.Credit: Nikolay Ryabchanko / Reuters

Denis Pushilin, leader of the Russia-backed breakaway region Donetsk, says he aims to encircle the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol Tuesday.

The city has been under "constant" shelling by Russian forces, per Mariupol's mayor.

"We have had residential quarters shelled for five days. They are pounding us with artillery, they are shelling us with GRADS, they are hitting us with air forces," Vadym Boichenko said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV.

"We have civilian infrastructure damaged – schools, houses. There are many injured. There are women, children killed."

Reuters

Belarus president: Belarus won't join Russia's Ukraine invasion

Alexander Lukashenko attends military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus in Belarus, February.Credit: BELTA/ REUTERS

Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that the country does not intend on sending troops into Ukraine to support the Russian invasion there, according to the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency.

Media outlets had previously reported that Belarus had intended on joining the attack on Ukraine this week.

Lukashenko also denied that Russian troops were attacking the country from Belarus territory, as Ukraine has alleged.

Reuters

YouTube to block RT, Sputnik channels

YouTube said Tuesday that, effective immediately, it is blocking channels connected with Russia state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik.

The European Commission also proposed a sanction restricting the entities on Tuesday.

Reuters

Ukraine presidential adviser: Russia aiming for civilian casualties

Ukraine-Russia talks on Monday. Podolyak is second from right.Credit: SERGEI KHOLODILIN - AFP

Ukraine's presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, says Russia aims to cause panic and civilian casualties with its shelling of city centers in Ukraine.

"The veil has come down. Russia is actively shelling city centres, launching direct missile and artillery strikes on residential areas and administration sites," Podolyak said. "Russia's goal is clear – mass panic, civilian casualties and damaged infrastructure."

Reuters

Mariupol mayor: city under 'constant' shelling, with civilian casualties

The mayor of Mariupol, a port city in southern Ukraine, says the city is under "constant" shelling by Russian forces.

"We have had residential quarters shelled for five days. They are pounding us with artillery, they are shelling us with GRADS, they are hitting us with air forces," Vadym Boichenko said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV.

"We have civilian infrastructure damaged – schools, houses. There are many injured. There are women, children killed."

Reuters

Explosion detonates in front of Kharkiv Oblast government headquarters in Ukraine

A video posted online shows a powerful explosion in front of the headquarters of Kharkiv's Oblast government Kharkiv's city administration building.

Kharkiv explosion, March 1Credit: Kyiv Independent

The mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, earlier announced the city's administration building had been hit by Russian missiles.

Kharkiv has experienced heavy fighting since Russian ground forces entered the city a few days ago.

Reuters

U.K. intelligence: Scant Russian progress in Kyiv in past 24 hours

U.K. intelligence says the Russian advance on Kyiv has achieved little progress in the past 24 hours, and that Russia has failed to gain control over Ukrainian airspace, the latter of which has prompted Russia to shift to night operations in order to reduce their losses.

Russia has also increased their use of artillery north of Kyiv, according to the intelligence service.

Jonathan Lis

Israel to deliver 100 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine

Israel's national aid agency will deliver 100 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine this week.

A flight is expected to depart Tuesday with 17 tons of medical equipment and medicine, Israeli water-purification systems and an emergency water-supply kit, as well as thousands of tents, blankets, sleeping bags and coats, said the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The aid is headed first for Warsaw and from there will be transferred to Ukraine.

Reuters

Chechnya leader: Two Chechens killed in Ukraine

Two Chechen servicemen were killed and six wounded in Ukraine, said Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Russia's Chechnya province and a Putin ally. The servicemen are the first Chechen casualties of the conflict, he says.

Reuters

Poland: 100,000 Ukrainians cross the border in 24 hours

Around 350,000 people have entered Poland from Ukraine since Russia invaded the country, a Polish deputy interior minister said on Tuesday.

"Over the last 24 hours 100,000 people crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border," Maciej Wasik told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1. "In total, since Thursday, there have already been 350,000 refugees."

Anshel Pfeffer

Analysis | Israel has some leverage over Russia, if it is only willing to use it

The talks that began Monday between Ukrainian and Russian representatives on Ukraine’s border with Belarus don’t seem to be going anywhere. Russia refused even a symbolic cease-fire as its army continued to bombard Ukrainian cities and its military units continued trying – largely unsuccessfully – to advance deeper into the neighboring country.

But there is already talk of finding new venues for talks, and once again Israel is in the mix. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett even raised the subject in his telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, apparently after being asked to do so in a call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, last Friday.

Are such talks realistic? From Zelenskyy’s perspective, sending representatives to Jerusalem would certainly be preferable to having them meet their counterparts in Belarus, which has become little more than a Russian protectorate and is now being used as another base from which to launch attacks on his country.

Read the full analysis here

Reuters

Ukraine envoy to U.S. says Russia used a vacuum bomb in its invasion

Human rights groups and Ukraine's ambassador to the United States on Monday accused Russia of attacking Ukrainians with cluster bombs and vacuum bombs, weapons that have been condemned by a variety of international organizations.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both said that Russian forces appeared to have used widely banned cluster munitions, with Amnesty accusing them of attacking a preschool in northeastern Ukraine while civilians took shelter inside.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, told reporters after meeting with members of the U.S. Congress that Russia had used a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb, in its invasion of her country.

"They used the vacuum bomb today," Markarova said after a meeting with lawmakers. "...The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large." There has been no official confirmation that thermobaric weapons have been used in the conflict in Ukraine.

A vacuum bomb, or thermobaric weapon, sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air to generate a high-temperature explosion, typically producing a blast wave of a significantly longer duration than that of a conventional explosive and is capable of vaporizing human bodies.

Reuters

Zelenskyy urges West to consider no-fly zone for Russian aircraft

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy said on Monday it was time for the West to consider imposing a no-fly zone for Russian missiles, planes and helicopters in response to Russian shelling of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

In a video address, Zelenskyy did not specify how and by whom a no-fly zone would be enforced.

He said Russia had launched 56 rocket strikes and fired 113 cruise missiles in the past five days since beginning its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing war crimes and said it should be brought before an international tribunal.

He said Russia had continued to bombard Ukrainian cities during a first round of talks with Ukrainian officials in Belarus on Monday.

"I believe that Russia is trying to apply pressure in this unsubtle way. Do not waste time. We do not accept such tactics. Fair negotiations can occur when one side does not hit the other side with rocket artillery at the very moment of negotiations," he said.

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Israeli Foreign Ministry updates Ukraine border crossing points

Following a situation assessment, the Foreign Ministry has updated the list of border check points in Ukraine where Israeli representatives are stationed:

Medyka/Sheiny border crossing to Poland

Krakovetz border crossing to Poland

Uzhhorod/Vysne Nemescke border crossing to Slovakia

Zahony/Chop border crossing to Hungary

Siret border crossing to Romania

Palanca border crossing to south Moldova

Mogilev-Podolskiy border crossing to north Moldova

The ministry recommends those who can use the Chop border crossing, as it is the least crowded one at the moment.

The following numbers can be used by citizens arriving at border crossing points:

Poland: +380677703536 or +380677704216

Slovakia: +421908623342

Hungary: +36304542779 or +36301607943

Romania: +40755462041

Moldova: +37379176560

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