Biden Accuses Russia of Indiscriminate Fire in Ukraine; Humanitarian Corridor Agreed

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A civilian trains to throw Molotov cocktails as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, on Tuesday.
A civilian trains to throw Molotov cocktails as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, on Tuesday.Credit: REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
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DPA

Airbnb stops activities in Russia, Belarus

Airbnb has stopped its activities in Russia and Belarus, company chief executive Brian Chesky wrote on Twitter.

The move comes after several companies began placing bans on Russia. Tech giant Google, for example, recently announced it has stopped selling online advertisements in Russia.

Google also switched off real-time traffic information services for Ukraine in its Google Maps navigation software, which it said was a move to protect the Ukrainian public.

The decision was made in consultation with the country's authorities, the tech company said.

Reuters

IAEA puts its incident end emergency center into full response mode

The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced Friday it is putting its incident and emergency center into full response mode due to the situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Ukraine said in the early hours of Friday Russian forces had attacked the plant and a five-story training facility building next to it was on fire.

Reuters

Russia restricts access to BBC Russian service and Radio Liberty

Russia's communications watchdog has restricted access to BBC Russian service as well as Radio Liberty and the Meduza media outlet, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Thursday that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was being used to undermine the internal political situation and security in Russia.

Reuters

Fire put out near Ukrainian nuclear power plant

Ukraine's state emergency service said on Friday that a fire has been put out near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukraine said in the early hours of Friday Russian forces had attacked the plant and a five-story training facility building next to it was on fire.

Liza Rozovsky

Foreign minister of Ukraine warns of nuclear disaster '10 times larger' than Chernobyl

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has confirmed that the Russian military is firing on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, that a fire has broken out at the scene, and that the catastrophe could be "10 times larger" than the Chernobyl disaster.

He called on Russian forces to stop firing immediately to allow firefighters to reach the scene and take control of the blaze.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba's Twitter. Credit: Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba's Twitter.

Liza Rozovsky

Fire at Ukranian nuclear power station

A fire has broken out at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southern Ukraine, the largest of its kind in Europe, Ukrainian and Russian media reported.

Fire at Ukrainian nuclear power station.

The mayor of the nearby town of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, also reported the incident in an online post, according to Reuters.

There has been fierce fighting between local forces and Russian troops, Orlov said in the post, adding that there had been casualties without giving details.

Earlier, Ukrainian authorities reported Russian troops were stepping up efforts to seize the plant and had entered the town with tanks.

"As a result of continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire," Orlov said on his Telegram channel, citing what he called a threat to world security. He did not give details.

Reuters could not immediately verify the information, including the potential seriousness of any fire.

Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

DPA

Lithuania to rename Russian embassy street after Ukraine heroes

The Russian embassy in Vilnius is to receive a new address, as the government renames the road it is located on in protest at Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"We have agreed to give the currently nameless street leading from Latviu Street to the embassy the name 'The Street of Ukrainian Heroes'," Mayor Remigijus Simasius said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

He said the legal formalities would soon be completed.
Simasius said the only address in the street will be that of the Russian embassy.

"From now on, the business card of every employee of the Russian Embassy must honor Ukrainian heroes. And everyone who writes a letter to the embassy must remember the victims of Russian aggression and the heroes of Ukraine," he said.

Russia's attack on its neighbor has led to repeated protests, with rallies held in front of the embassy.

The city of Vilnius already named a square in a public park near the embassy after the murdered Russian opposition lawmaker Boris Nemtsov in 2018.

Reuters

Biden granting deportation relief to Ukrainians in the U.S.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will grant temporary deportation relief and work permits to tens of thousands of Ukrainians who are already in the United States but unable to return to Ukraine due to the military conflict with Russia, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The move will allow Ukrainians in the United States as of March 1 to remain and work legally for a period of 18 months, DHS said, after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Reuters

Saudi crown prince says supports all de-escalation measures in call with Zelenskyy

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke on the phone on Thursday, with the crown prince saying he supports everything that helps reduce the escalation of the conflict, Saudi's state news agency said.

Earlier on Thursday, the crown prince said the kingdom is ready to exert all efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, according to the news agency.

Judy Maltz

Mothers with babies, babushkas with canes: A day with the people escaping Ukraine

PALANCA, Moldova – The line of cars waiting to exit Ukraine at the border crossing here was so long Wednesday morning that Katrina simply gave up.

Like many others anxious to escape the war zone, she parked her car on the side of the road and began walking west toward the border with her two daughters, one a teenager and the other a toddler. They proceeded on foot for four hours in the freezing cold carrying their heavy bags.

There were plenty of dogs and smaller pets in tow.Credit: Judy Maltz

When they finally reached the other side, Katrina put down her bag, wrapped her arms around her daughters and burst into tears. “I was just so relieved to finally be in a safe place,” said the English teacher from Odessa.

But where she will be heading from here and for how long isn’t yet clear. “Our plan is to go to our relatives in Poland, but we haven’t yet figured out how we will get there,” she said. “The problem is nobody knows how long this nightmare is going to last.”

Read the full story here.

JTA

Zelenskyy: 'I don’t feel the Israeli prime minister has wrapped himself in the Ukrainian flag'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a press conference in Kyiv, on Thursday.Credit: Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Jewish Ukrainian president under siege, said he was moved by pictures of Israelis standing in solidarity with his country during the Russian invasion — but not so much the Israeli leadership.

“I saw a beautiful picture today,” he said in remarks translated into Hebrew by YNet, the Israeli news outlet that managed to attend Zelenskyy’s press conference in Kyiv on Thursday. “Jews wrapped in Ukrainian flags by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. They prayed and I thank them for it.”

But, he said, “I spoke with the Israeli leadership, we have not had bad relations — but these things are tested in times of crisis. I don’t feel the Israeli prime minister has wrapped himself in the Ukrainian flag.”

The Israeli government, wary of Russia’s overweening influence and presence in the Middle East, has been slow to robustly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although it joined the United States in a UN General Assembly condemnation on Wednesday. (Tom Nides, the American ambassador to Israel, tweeted that Israel had been “helping rally more members” to join the vote.) Israel also reportedly has declined to share antimissile systems with Ukraine.

Zelenskyy spoke on Wednesday to multiple world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. He noted each conversation on Twitter, including the one with Bennett — but the tweet about the Israeli prime minister stood out because Zelensky did not thank him, as he did the others.

new-hdc-logo

4 buses of Israeli citizens from Lviv arrived at the Polish border

4 buses carrying about 150 Israelis and Jews and organized by the Ukrainian Embassy in Ukraine from the city of Lviv crossed the border into Poland.

More buses are scheduled to depart from Lviv tomorrow, depending on the number of registrants.

For those interested in registering for the bus from Lviv to the Krakowiec border crossing, please call and register in advance by phone: 380679111764 between the hours of 08: 30-19:00.

In addition to these, there are buses departing from Kyiv and Dnipro with the assistance of the Jewish community.

The Foreign Ministry called on Israelis still in Ukraine to consider advancing towards the border crossing closest to them, while maintaining personal safety.

Reuters

New U.S.-Russia military hotline as Ukraine war rages

The Pentagon has established a new hotline with Russia's ministry of defense to prevent "miscalculation, military incidents and escalation" in the region as Russia's invasion of Ukraine advances, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

The United States says it has no troops in Ukraine but it and NATO allies in Europe are worried about potential spillover, including accidents, as Russia's stages the largest assault on a European state since World War Two.

The U.S. and its allies are also channeling millions of dollars worth of weaponry to Ukraine's armed forces, which are using the arms against Russian troops, despite Moscow's warnings against foreign interference."

The Department of the Defense recently established a de-confliction line with the Russian ministry of defense on March 1 for the purposes of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation," a senior U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming a move first reported by NBC.

Reuters

Russian rights activist Kasparov calls on world powers to throw Russia 'back into the Stone Age'

Russian human rights activist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov on Thursday urged world powers to adopt a harsher military and economic strategy against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.

In an interview with Reuters, Kasparov called on Western countries to recall their ambassadors from Moscow, eject Russia from the global police agency Interpol, and impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"Russia should be thrown back into the Stone Age to make sure that the oil and gas industry and any other sensitive industries that are vital for survival of the regime cannot function without Western technological support," Kasparov said.

Reuters

German chancellor Scholz calls for ceasefire in Ukraine

A ceasefire is urgently needed to help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday.

He also warned it was of major importance to prevent a direct conflict between NATO and Russia.

At an early stage, the agreed sanctions against Russia showed an effect, Scholz said.

Reuters

Biden says Russia firing indiscriminately in Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden at a White House cabinet meeting, on Thursday.Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP

U.S. President Joe Biden said Russia is firing indiscriminately in Ukraine on Thursday. The president also announced new sanctions and travel bans on individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reuters

IAEA chief calls on troops to stop fighting near Ukrainian nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi at a news conference during an IAEA emergency meeting on Ukraine in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday.Credit: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on Thursday called on Russian and Ukrainian troops not to fight in the area of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine's biggest, after Ukraine reported a battle in the nearby town of Enerhodar.

Director General Grossi appealed for an immediate halt to the use of force at Enerhodar and called on the military forces operating there to refrain from violence near the nuclear power plant," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

Reuters

U.S. imposes sanctions, visa restrictions on Russian oligarchs

The White House on Thursday announced new sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs and their companies, as well as President Vladimir Putin's spokesman.

The United States is also imposing visa restrictions on 19 Russian oligarchs and their families and associates, it said.

Reuters

Death toll from Russian air strikes on Chernihiv city rises to 33, Ukraine says

At least 33 bodies have been recovered from rubble in the wake of air strikes by Russian forces on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on Thursday, the Ukrainian emergency services said in an online post, updating a previous estimate of 22 killed.

Rescue work has been temporarily suspended due to heavy shelling in the area, it said. Earlier the regional governor said two schools as well as private houses were hit.

Reuters

Ukraine says talks with Russia agreed on humanitarian corridors

A Ukrainian negotiator said on Thursday that a second round of ceasefire talks with Russia had not yielded the results Kyiv hoped for, but the sides had reached an understanding on creating humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the two sides envisaged a possible temporary ceasefire to allow for the evacuation of civilians.

"That is, not everywhere, but only in those places where the humanitarian corridors themselves will be located, it will be possible to cease fire for the duration of the evacuation," he said.

They had also reached an understanding on the delivery of medicines and food to the places where the fiercest fighting was taking place.

It was the first time the two sides had agreed any form of progress on any issue since Russia invaded Ukraine a week ago.Podolyak said the outcome had fallen short of Kyiv's hopes, however.

"To our great regret, we did not get the results we were counting on," he said, without elaborating.

"The only thing I can say is that we discussed the humanitarian aspect in sufficient detail, because quite a lot of cities are now surrounded. There is a dramatic situation with medicines, food, and evacuation," Podolyak said.

Russia has agreed to support the idea of humanitarian corridors for civilians and a possible ceasefire around them, chief Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said following talks with Ukraine on Thursday, describing it as "substantial progress."

Earlier a Ukrainian negotiator said the topic had been discussed but the talks had not yielded the results Kyiv hoped for.

Reuters

Saudi crown prince speaks with Putin, discusses oil

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday and reiterated the Kingdom's keenness to maintain the stability of oil markets, and stressed the role of OPEC+ in keeping their balance, Saudi Arabia's state news agency reported.

Reuters

Putin says Russian operation in Ukraine is going to plan

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia's military operations in Ukraine were going according to plan and praised its soldiers as heroes.

In televised comments, Putin made a series of allegations against Ukrainian forces for which he did not provide evidence, including that they were holding foreign citizens hostage and using human shields.

Jonathan Lis

Body of Israeli killed in Ukraine to be transported to Romania

After efforts by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the ZAKA volunteer organization and Chabad-associated individuals, the body of Roman Brodesky, the Israeli man killed in Ukraine in an apparent case of mistaken identity, will be transported Thursday evening from Ukraine to Moldova.

Tomorrow morning, the coffin of the late Brodesky will depart on a special flight to Romania.

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.

Kyiv Chief Rabbi lands in Israel, pledges to lobby government for aid to Ukraine

Kyiv chief Rabbi Yonatan Markovitch landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and immediately pledged to lobby Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government to provide increased aid to Ukraine.

“I think that from here we can do a lot more. Now, not from Europe, not from Hungary or Romania,” he said, pledging to “go and speak with whoever is needed that they will open the gates to bring more Jews to the land of Israel.”

“I think that they need to send help to Ukraine,” he added, when asked about Jerusalem’s persistent refusal of Ukrainian requests for defensive weapons and other military supplies.

Read the full story here.

Reuters

Moldovan president says Moldova applies for EU membership

Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Brussels, last year.Credit: POOL/Reuters

Moldovan President Maia Sandu signed a formal application for Moldova to join the European Union on Thursday and said it would be delivered to Brussels in the coming days.

"We want to live in peace, democracy, freedom," she said at a briefing in the capital Chisinau.

Reuters

Ukraine nuclear firm says it still controls key plants but Russians nearing

Ukraine still controls two key nuclear power plants in the south of the country, including Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest, but Russian forces are closing in, the acting head of Ukraine's state-run nuclear company Energoatom said on Thursday.

Petro Kotin, speaking in an interview with Reuters, called Russia's capture last week of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant “nuclear terrorism”.

Kotin said Russian troops have advanced to within 35 km (21 miles) of the Zaporizhzhia plant and the South Ukraine power plant and that Ukrainian and Russian troops had clashed on Wednesday in Voznesensk about 30 km away.

He said Energoatom had transferred requests to the U.N. atomic watchdog (IAEA) earlier on Thursday through a position paper.

Kyiv asked the IAEA to downgrade its relationship with Russia, and for the agency to help create a 30-kilometer (18-mile) perimeter ban from power plants for Russian forces as well as to push for NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country, according to the paper seen by Reuters.

Reuters

At least 22 killed by Russian air strikes in Ukraine's Chernihiv region

At least 22 bodies have been recovered from rubble in the wake of Russian air strikes in Ukraine's Chernihiv region, the Ukrainian emergency services said in an online post.

Smoke rises from a bombed area near Chernihiv, on Thursday.Credit: SOCIAL MEDIA/Reuters

It said rescue work was ongoing, without specifying where exactly the attack took place. Earlier the regional governor said at least nine people had been killed by an air strike on two schools and private houses.

Reuters

OSCE states setting up mission looking into possible war crimes in Ukraine

Forty-five of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's 57 participating states are supporting the creation of a mission of experts looking into possible war crimes by Russia in Ukraine, Britain said in a statement on Thursday.

“They are invoking the so called 'OSCE Moscow Mechanism' to set up a mission of independent experts to … establish the facts and circumstances of possible cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including due to deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure,” Britain's mission to the OSCE said.

DPA

Kyiv and Moscow start second round of talks in Minsk

Moscow and Kyiv have begun a second round of negotiations in western Belarus, according to Belarusian state television.

The Russian delegation is led by presidential adviser Vladimir Medinsky, with the Ukrainian delegation being led by David Arachamija, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's ruling party.

While the Russian representatives wore suits, the Ukrainians were clad in olive-green military jumpers.

Bar Peleg

Several ministers urge Israel to open gates to Ukrainian refugees, not just Jews

Several Israeli ministers urged the government on Thursday to allow more Ukrainian refugees to enter Israel, in the wake of public outcry over Israel's new policy that requires Ukrainian refugees to pay a deposit of up to 10,000 shekels ($3000) alongside a written promise to leave the country within one month.

“We can take in more refugees,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said this morning on Army Radio. “I think there’s been some improvement in recent days regarding absorption of refugees and people from Ukraine.”

“The government has made it clear that it won’t tighten its requirements and that there’s certainly space, in this difficult time, to open the door and extend a hand to people who would do the same for us, if we were in a that difficult place.”

Social Equality Minister Merav Cohen said, “at the moment, temporarily, we need to help as much as we can, and not just us.”

According to Cohen, “There could be some bureaucratic difficulties that I’m not aware of. I know that there are efforts to take in everyone right now, in order to save lives. At this time, the question of who’s Jewish and who’s not is irrelevant. We need to help save lives, and it could be that these people won’t be able to stay here forever.”

Reuters

Biden to meet with Quad leaders on Thursday over Ukraine invasion

U.S. President Joe Biden will speak with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan on Thursday to discuss the war in Ukraine and its implications for the Indo-Pacific region, the White House said.

The meeting comes at a time of increased concern about Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by China, which has stepped up its alert level, wary of China taking advantage of a distracted West to move against it.

The leaders of the so-called Quad – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Biden – will “discuss the war against Ukraine and its implications for the Indo-Pacific,” the White House said in a statement.

The United States sees the Quad and its growing relations with India as essential to its efforts to push back against China in the Pacific, but it is in a delicate balancing act with New Delhi, given the latter’s long-standing ties with Russia.

Of the four Quad countries, only India has not condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia is the main supplier of arms to the Indian military and India faces the possibility of U.S. sanctions for its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.

Analysts say any moves by Russia hawks in the Biden administration to impose sanctions on India for working with Moscow could backfire and set back cooperation in the Quad.

Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific, said on Monday that Washington remained “bullish” about its relationship with India.

“We have a deep dialogue with them on issues underway now,” he told a Washington think tank. “We understand … India's historic, long-standing relationship with Russia, but at the same time, ultimately, we believe that India will be moving in our direction.

Reuters

White House asks lawmakers to set aside $10 billion for Ukraine

The Biden administration is asking members of Congress to set aside 10 billion dollars in humanitarian, security and economic assistance to help protect Ukraine against the Russian invasion, a serious hike in American financial support for the country.

The acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, laid out the need for the supplemental funding in a Thursday blog post. The requests would be additions to a planned budget agreement that Congress is trying to finish before a March 11 deadline.

Young said in the blog post that the money was urgently needed. The $10 billion to Ukraine would be a significant escalation of the $1.4 billion provided by the United States since 2021

Reuters

Turkey, balancing Russia ties, says drones to Ukraine are sales not aid

Turkey's drone shipments to Ukraine are not military aid but rather private sales, a deputy Turkish foreign minister stressed on Thursday, underscoring Ankara's effort to avoid offending Moscow amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

NATO member Turkey, which shares a maritime border with Russia and Ukraine and has good ties with both, has criticized the invasion as unacceptable but avoided the harsher rhetoric of other alliance members and opposes their use of sanctions. Turkey cooperates closely with Russia in energy, trade and defense.

On Wednesday, Ukraine's defense minister said it received a fresh shipment of the armed drones, which have proven effective in recent years against Russian forces and their allies in conflicts in Syria and Libya.

In an interview with pro-government newspaper Sabah, Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran said Kyiv had purchased the drones from Baykar, a private Turkish defense company, stressing this did not represent an agreement between the nations.

“Ukraine wanted to buy this product from our firm, and they made a strong deal among themselves,” Kiran said. “This is not help from Turkey. These are products Ukraine bought from a Turkish company."

Reuters

U.S. warns Putin against deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus

The United States warned Russia and Belarus at a UN arms control meeting on Thursday not to deploy nuclear arms in Moscow's neighboring ally following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Any movement of Russian nuclear weapons into Belarus would be dangerously provocative and further destabilize the region. We call on Belarus to reject Russia's policies of nuclear threat and intimidation," U.S. envoy Aud-Frances McKernan told the Conference on Disarmament in remarks provided by the U.S. mission.

Her comments come as the Geneva-based conference debated Russia's invasion after Kyiv accused Moscow at the forum of “violating all key disarmament treaties.”

A referendum in Belarus on Sunday approved a new constitution ditching the country's non-nuclear status at a time when the former Soviet republic has become a launch pad for Russia's military operation, Russian news agencies said.

The new constitution could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

>>> Read the full report

Reuters

Cargo ship sinks off Odessa after explosion, crew members missing

The Estonian-owned cargo ship Helt sunk on Thursday off the Ukrainian port of Odessa after an explosion, the vessel’s manager said.

Two crew members were in a life raft at sea while four others were unaccounted for, Igor Ilves, managing director of Tallinn-based manager Vista Shipping Agency, told Reuters.

“The vessel has finally sunk,” he said. “Two of the crew are in a raft on the water and four others are missing. I don’t know where they are at the moment.” Ilves said the vessel might have struck a mine.

Reuters

Putin tells Macron Russia will achieve its objectives in Ukraine, regardless of negotiations

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the goals of Russia's operation in Ukraine – its demilitarization and neutral status on the world stage – will be achieved in any case, the Kremlin said.

Putin also said that any attempts by Kyiv to delay negotiations would result in Moscow adding more items to its list of demands.

Israelis queue at airport to post $3,000 collateral for Ukrainian relatives' entry

At Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israelis could be seen lining up at the Population and Immigration Authority to post their 10,000 shekel guarantees in order to secure a temporary stay in Israel for their loved ones, as Russia's assault on Ukraine continues.

New guideline's from Israel's Population and Immigration Authority are forcing Israelis to pay up to 10,000 shekels (around 3,000 dollars) as collateral in order to bring close relatives fleeing Ukraine to the country, alongside a promise to leave the country within a month.

Israelis line up at the Population and Immigration Authority office at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday.

During the first five days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, 303 Ukrainian citizens arrived in Israel and 50 were denied entry, according to Population and Immigration Authority numbers released Tuesday. Since the new policy's Tuesday implementation, 584 Ukrainian nationals landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport, with 22 denied entry.

More Ukrainians have been denied entry into Israel in recent years than nationals of any other country, mainly to prevent undocumented immigration. Between 2018-21, a total of 15,430 Ukrainians were denied entry. In the past two years the numbers dropped sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There are about 7,200 Ukrainians currently in Israel on expired tourist visas. They represent about 24 percent of all foreign nationals in the country illegally.

According to UN estimates, one million Ukrainians have already fled the country.

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.

Russian strikes destroy centers of Jewish life in Kharkiv as community members flee

Artillery and missile strikes destroyed or damaged multiple Jewish sites across Kharkiv as Russian forces attempted to wrest control of the eastern Ukrainian city from government forces on Wednesday.

According to community leaders, Russian bombardments struck both the local Hillel House and the Or Avner day school, while a near miss came close to destroying the city’s Chabad synagogue.

According to Miriam Moskovitz, the wife of longtime Kharkiv Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz, the city’s Choral Synagogue, located on Pushkinska Street in downtown Kharkiv, is only 1.5 kilometers from the regional administration building and narrowly survived destruction, with all of its windows “blown open” but not shattered.

Kharkiv’s Hillel House was also severely damaged by shelling.

Read the full report here.

Reuters

Russian border guards preventing people from leaving country, EU official says

The European Union says it has anecdotal evidence showing that Russian border guards are questioning people planning to leave the country, even denying some the right to do so, an EU official said Thursday.

“We've already got some anecdotal evidence that Russian border guards are … questioning people's motives for leaving the country at the moment, and that some people are being denied,” an EU official told Reuters.

Reuters

'We are being destroyed,' Mariupol city council says

A woman giving birth in a hospital basement in Mariupol on Tuesday.Credit: Evgeniy Maloletka /AP

Mariupol city council said Russia was constantly and deliberately shelling critical civilian infrastructure in the Ukrainian southern port, leaving it without water, heating or power and preventing bringing supplies or evacuating people.

“They are breaking food supplies, setting us up in a blockade, as in the old Leningrad,” the council said in a statement.

“Deliberately, for seven days, they have been destroying the city's critical life-support infrastructure. We have no light, water or heat again.”

The council said it was seeking to create a humanitarian corridor for the city, as well as trying to restore infrastructure. “We are being destroyed as a nation. This is genocide of Ukrainian people,” it said.

Reuters

Lavrov: Foreign leaders preparing to enter war

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian state television on Thursday that he believed some foreign leaders were preparing for war against Russia.

He also accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of presiding over “a society where Nazism is flourishing.”

Lavrov also said that the Russian operation is aimed, among other things, at ensuring that Kyiv does not join NATO. He said Russian forces were attacking military targets in Ukraine but added that the term "collateral damage" has been in use since the Western campaigns in Iraq and Libya.

Russia's FM Sergei Lavrov (on screen) addresses UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.Credit: SALVATORE DI NOLFI - AFP

Moscow is ready for talks to end the fighting in Ukraine but will continue to press its effort to destroy Ukraine’s military infrastructure, Lavrov said. He said that the Russian delegation submitted its demands to Ukrainian negotiators earlier this week and is now waiting for Kyiv’s response in talks set for Thursday.

Lavrov said that the West has continuously armed Ukraine, trained its troops and built up bases there to turn Ukraine into a bulwark against Russia. Russia says that made Ukraine a threat to its security.

Reuters

Germany demands UN probe into Russia's invasion of Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on Thursday for an urgent inquiry to investigate what she called human rights violations committed by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.

“We must stand up to this attack. Human rights are universal,” Baerbock said in a video message to the UN Human Rights Council.

Baerbock added that “we urgently need a Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine to investigate all violations of human rights that have been committed by Russia since its military aggression. We must stand strong on accountability.

“Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbor's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.

Reuters

Zelenskyy says defense lines holding against Russian attacks

Ukraine's defense lines were holding against the Russian attack, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his latest video on Thursday, adding there had been no respite in Moscow's shelling of Ukraine since midnight.

"We have nothing to lose but our own freedom," Zelenskyy said, adding Ukraine was receiving daily arms supplies from its international allies.

A destroyed armored vehicle near the village of Motyzhyn in the Kyiv region, Wednesday.Credit: REUTERS/Maksim Levin

Zelenskyy said Russia's changing tactics and shelling of civilians in cities proved Ukraine was successful in resisting Moscow's initial plan of claiming a quick victory through a land assault. He told Russia to study the word "reparations" as Kyiv would demand Moscow makes up for all it has destroyed in its invasion.

In an emotional speech, Zelenskiy said Ukrainians had lived through two world wars, the Holodomor famine, Holocaust, Soviet terror, the Chernobyl nuclear explosion as well as Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in the east: "We don't have the biggest territory ... we don't have nuclear arms, we don't provide oil and gas to international markets. But we do have our people. We do have our land. This is what we are fighting for."

Jonathan Lis

Bennett calls on world powers to push Russia-Ukraine talks

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on Thursday for world powers to “act rapidly” to reboot negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to avoid an “untold loss of life.”

Addressing the CyberTech 2022 Conference in Tel Aviv, the prime minister lamented the “terrible war” and warned that “if world leaders don't act quickly, it can get much worse…untold loss of life, total destruction of Ukraine, millions of refugees.”

“It's the responsibility of the major players in the world to act rapidly and to get the two sides out of the battlefield and to the negotiating table,” Bennett added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had reached out to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate talks in Jerusalem in an attempt to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, but Bennett's office declined to comment further.

Read the full article here.

U.K. intelligence says Russian advance on Kyiv has made little progress

Russia's advance on the Ukrainian capital has made little progress over the past three days and the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands, according to British military intelligence.

"The main body of the large Russian column advancing on Kyiv remains over 30 kilometers from the center of the city having been delayed by staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion," Britain's defense ministry said in an intelligence update.

"The column has made little discernible progress in over three days," it said. "Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands. Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson but the military situation remains unclear."

"The Russian defense ministry has been forced to admit that 498 Russian soldiers have already been killed and 1,597 wounded in Putin's war. The actual number of those killed and wounded will almost certainly be considerably higher and will continue to rise."

A satellite image released on Monday shows part of a military convoy and burning homes, northwest of Ivankiv.Credit: Satellite image 2022 Maxar Technologies / AFP)

The Associated Press

Russians besiege strategic seaports

With fighting continuing on multiple fronts across Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry says Mariupol, a large city on the Azov Sea, was encircled by Russian forces, while the status of another vital port, Kherson, a Black Sea shipbuilding city of 280,000, remains unclear.

Ukraine's military said Russian forces “did not achieve the main goal of capturing Mariupol” in its statement, which did not mention Kherson.

Putin's forces claimed to have taken complete control of Kherson, which would be the biggest city to fall in the invasion. A senior U.S. defense official disputed that.

“Our view is that Kherson is very much a contested city," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office told AP that it could not comment on the situation in Kherson while the fighting was still going on.

The mayor of Kherson, Igor Kolykhaev, said Russian soldiers were in the city and came to the city administration building. He said he asked them not to shoot civilians and to allow crews to gather up the bodies from the streets.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said the attacks there had been relentless.

“We cannot even take the wounded from the streets, from houses and apartments today, since the shelling does not stop,” he was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Paramedics evacuate a man wounded by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday.Credit: AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Reuters

Ukraine says 34 civilians killed in Kharkiv region, no water or power in Mariupol city

Russian shelling and attacks on civilian populations killed 34 civilians in Ukraine's eastern Kharkiv region in the past 24 hours between March 2-3, the emergency services said on Thursday.

Another 285 people, including 10 children, were injured, the regional civil defense said.

Separately, the governor of the Ukraine-controlled eastern Donetsk region said the port city of Mariupol, one of the first targets of the Russian invasion, was without electricity or water supplies.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the Kharkiv National University building, Wednesday.Credit: REUTERS/Oleksandr Lapshyn

Reuters

Liberal Russian radio station dissolved, editor says

Ekho Moskvy radio station, one of Russia's last remaining liberal media outlets, has been dissolved by its board after coming under pressure over its coverage of the war in Ukraine, its editor said on Thursday.

The station, one of the leading news and current affairs channels in Russia, had been taken off the air two days earlier.

"The Ekho Moskvy board of directors has decided by a majority of votes to liquidate the radio channel and the website of Ekho Moskvy," Ekho Moskvy Editor-in-Chief Alexei Venediktov said on the messaging app Telegram.

The move came after the prosecutor general's office demanded this week that access be restricted to Ekho Moskvy and the TV Rain online news channel over their coverage of the conflict. The prosecutor said its move was prompted by their websites' "targeted and systematic posting ... of information calling for extremist activities, violence and deliberately false information about the actions of Russian forces as part of a special operation" in Ukraine.

What to know on the eighth day of Russia's invasion

Russian troops are in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson and forced their way into the council building, the mayor said after a day of conflicting claims over whether Moscow had made the first major gain of a city in its eight-day-long invasion. The invasion was denounced by the United Nations in a historic vote, as global brands exited Russia and the rouble hit record lows.

A Ukrainian delegation has departed for a second round of talks with Russia, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters.

The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine, following a request to do so by 39 of the court's member states.

Senior Chinese officials told senior Russian officials in early February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the New York Times reported.

The European Union and United States have imposed new sanctions on Belarus for its supporting role in the invasion.

Read Haaretz's live blog for the previous day here.

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