Russia-Ukraine Updates: Besieged Mariupol Running Out of Food, Water, as Russian Negotiators Report Progress

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A Ukrainian serviceman exits a damaged building after shelling in Kyiv, on Saturday.
A Ukrainian serviceman exits a damaged building after shelling in Kyiv, on Saturday.Credit: ARIS MESSINIS - AFP

Blinken, Ukraine's Kuleba discuss diplomatic efforts to stop war

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, discussed during a call on Sunday the diplomatic efforts to stop Russia's invasion of its neighbor, the State Department said in a statement.

"Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Kuleba discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts to stop Putin's war of choice," said spokesperson Ned Price.

"The Secretary reiterated the United States' steadfast solidarity with Ukraine in defense against the Kremlin's continued brutal aggression."

Putin is said to show no interest in peace as Zelenskyy vows to fight to death

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Russian forces they face a fight to the death if they try to occupy Kyiv, while France said Russian President Vladimir Putin had shown no willingness to make peace.

Daily evacuations from a number of Ukrainian cities nearly doubled to some 13,000 people, the deputy prime minister said. Russian attacks continued in areas where Ukraine was trying to evacuate people and bring aid through humanitarian corridors, said the governors of the Kyiv and Donetsk regions.

Zelenskyy said around 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed during the invasion and Russia was sending more forces after suffering its biggest losses in decades.

Inside Putin's Mind: LISTEN to Julia Ioffe

Ukraine's foreign minister said his government was willing to negotiate to end the war but would not surrender or accept ultimatums. The Kremlin said Putin told the leaders of France and Germany about the state of negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv and responded to their concerns about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.


China's U.S. embassy 'never heard' of Russian request for military aid

The spokesperson for China's embassy in Washington responded to media reports on Sunday that Moscow had asked Beijing for military equipment since launching its invasion of Ukraine by saying, "I've never heard of that."

The spokesperson, Liu Pengyu, said China's priority was to prevent the tense situation in Ukraine from getting out of control.

"The current situation in Ukraine is indeed disconcerting," he said in an emailed response to a query from Reuters.

"The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control."

Earlier the Financial Times and Washington Post cited U.S. officials as saying that Russia has asked China for military equipment since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Netael Bandel

No Ukrainian asylum seekers have been granted refugee status in Israel, state data shows

Since the war began, nearly 4,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in Israel, and none of them have attained refugee status, Israeli state data shows.

The data was presented as part of the state's response to the Supreme Court, and says that 3,956 Ukrainians have applied for asylum in Israel since February 24. Of those, 2,720 were rejected and 657 of them had their cases closed without receiving refugee status. Another 83 people received a different status (as citizens, for instance) or began the process of seeking a different status; and 496 people have not yet received a response to their requests.

There are an additional 20,172 Ukrainians on tourist visas in Israel; for 12,287 of them, the visas are expired. There are also 4,549 Ukrainian foreign workers in the country, only 357 of whom have expired papers. Another 2,284 Ukrainian citizens are in Israel with other documentation.

According to the state's response, Israel has reached half of its quota of 5,000 Ukrainian refugees who are neither eligible for aliyah nor have family members who are Israeli citizens. The state can take in another 2,500 or so asylum seekers alone.


Kremlin says next Russia-Ukraine talks to take place Monday

Talks between Russia and Ukraine are not taking place right now but will continue on Monday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying on Sunday by the RIA news agency.

Peskov made the comments after Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Ukraine and Russia were actively conducting talks on Sunday, with the situation around the besieged city of Mariupol a particular focus.

Bar Peleg

Israel lifts cap on Ukrainian refugees with family in Israel

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Sunday that Ukrainian refugees with family in Israel will be allowed to seek asylum in Israel, effectively lifting the 5,000-person cap of non-Jewish refugees Israel had said it was willing to take in.

In a press briefing, Shaked said the government was "relaxing" its policy on Ukrainian refugees "so as not to violate the visa-free (travel) agreement with Ukraine."

Ukrainians with relatives who are Israeli citizens would need to have one of their family members sign a guarantee, which would let them stay with them "for a month or two." Most arrivals from Ukraine who are not eligible for aliyah will be granted a three-month tourist visa.

>> Click here to read the full report

Jonathan Lis

Ukrainian official says Ukrainian FM has refused call from Lapid due to Israel's stance on conflict

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba refused to hold a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid due to Israel's position on Ukraine's conflict with Russia, a Ukrainian government official said.

According to the official, Lapid's bureau tried to plan a call, but that Kuleba has not yet agreed to do so. "He didn't say 'no,' he said that he was busy," the source said. He added that the last phone call between the two foreign ministers took place three months ago, long before the Russian invasion.

The official said that Lapid has not yet accepted an invitation to visit Kyiv, which was extended by Ukraine's deputy foreign minister about two weeks before the war.

An Israeli political source believes that the two will indeed speak in the coming days.

Lapid is the highest-ranking Israeli official to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has done so at least four times in public declarations.

On Sunday, he took a more severe tone during a visit to Ukraine, saying that "Israel, like Romania, condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is unjustifiable and we call on Russia to cease its fire and aggression and to solve its problems at the negotiating table."

>> Click here to read the full report.


Ukraine says power restored to Chernobyl nuclear plant

Ukraine's atomic energy ministry on Sunday said power had been restored to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which meant cooling systems would operate normally and not have to use backup power.

The ministry made the announcement in an online post. Ukraine had earlier warned of an increased risk of a radiation leak if a high-voltage power line to the plant were not repaired. It had been damaged in fighting.


Russia says it attacked Ukraine training facility, killed up to 180

Russia said on Sunday it had attacked the Yavoriv training facility in western Ukraine, adding the strike had killed "up to 180 foreign mercenaries" and destroyed a large amount of weapons supplied by outside nations.

Defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov told a briefing that Russia would continue its attacks against what he called foreign mercenaries.

Reuters could not independently verify the statements.

Ukrainian regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said 35 people were killed and 134 wounded in the attack.

>> Click here to read the full report

Ofer Aderet

Yad Vashem won't allow Zelenskyy to speak at 'political' event

Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial will not allow for a political event to be held in its property, according to officials at the center.

This comes amid talks between the Jerusalem memorial and Ukraine, following a request by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's to deliver a speech to it.

Sources at Yad Vashem said that the memorial feared that the event would be political, and that comparisons would be made between the war in Ukraine and the Holocaust.


Russia shows signs of interest in Ukraine talks, says U.S. official

Russia is showing signs it might be willing to have substantive negotiations over Ukraine, even as Moscow currently is intent on "destroying" its neighbor, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Sunday.

Sherman, in an interview with "Fox News Sunday," said the United States is putting "enormous pressure" on Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a cease-fire in its weeks-old invasion of Ukraine and to allow the creation of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to escape."

That pressure is beginning to have some effect. We are seeing some signs to have real, serious negotiations. But I have to say ... so far it appears Vladimir Putin is intent on destroying Ukraine," Sherman said.

Sherman did not elaborate on hints Moscow may have provided about talks.

"What Ukrainians needed was anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-armor weapons, which is what we are supplying them in great measure and coordinating with other countries to do the same," Sherman said.

Anshel Pfeffer

Putin Is Testing the West in Ukraine. Will Biden Draw a Red Line? | Analysis

Military experts around the world are already busy gathering insight on the two and a half weeks of conventional warfare in Ukraine, but the Russians themselves have little time. President Vladimir Putin is showing no signs of giving up on his ambition to liquidate Ukraine as an independent identity. His army is faltering in the face of determined opposition from the Ukrainian army and finding it difficult to encircle Kyiv or make much progress along the Black Sea toward the strategic port city of Odessa.

So the Russians are shifting to a different type of warfare in which they’ve gained much experience in recent years: war against a civilian population.

>> Click here to read the full article


Lapid says at Ukraine's border that Israel must be part of international refugee effort

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel has a moral duty to help Ukrainian refugees on Sunday, while visiting Ukraine's border.

At the Siret border crossing between Romania and Ukraine, Lapid said that "We have a moral duty to be part of the international effort to help Ukrainian refugees find a warm shelter and a bed to sleep in. It is our duty not only to be good Jews, but also good people."

He added that Israel's Jewish identity will not be marred by taking in several thousand more refugees, but that "clearly we can't take in tens of thousands of non-Jewish refugees… The government will find the right balance. This is our job."


Mariupol says city's last reserves of food and water are running out

Ukraine's besieged port city of Mariupol is running out of its last reserves of food and water, the city council said on Sunday, adding that Russian forces blockading the city continued to shell non-military targets.

The city said 2,187 of its residents were killed so far since the invasion began.

"People have been in a difficult situation for 12 days. There is no electricity, water or heating in the city. There is almost no mobile communication. The last reserves of food and water are running out," it said in an online statement.


Russian delegate says talks with Ukraine may soon produce draft agreements

A Russian delegate to talks with Ukraine was quoted on Sunday as saying they had made significant progress, and it was possible the delegations could soon reach draft agreements, although he did not say what these would cover.

RIA news agency quoted Leonid Slutsky as comparing the state of the talks now with the situation when they first started, and saying there was "substantial progress."

His comments came on day 18 of the war which began when Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin terms a special military operation.

"According to my personal expectations, this progress may grow in the coming days into a joint position of both delegations, into documents for signing," Slutsky said. It was not clear what the scope of any such documents might be. Ukraine has said it is willing to negotiate, but not to surrender or accept any ultimatums.

Three rounds of talks between the two sides in Belarus, most recently last Monday, had focused mainly on humanitarian issues and led to the limited opening of some corridors for civilians to escape fighting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday there had been some "positive shifts" in the talks, but did not elaborate. On Saturday the Kremlin said the discussions between Russian and Ukrainian officials had been continuing "in video format."


Ukraine human rights official accuses Russia of using phosphorus munitions

Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman accused Russia on Sunday of using banned phosphorus munitions in an overnight attack on the town of Popasna in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region. Reuters was not immediately able to verify her statement.

The ombudswoman, Liudmila Denisova, shared a photograph purporting to show the alleged attack, but did not say if Ukraine had concrete evidence.

"The bombing of a civilian city by the Russian attackers with these weapons is a war crime and a crime against humanity according to the Rome convention,” she said in an online statement.

The Associated Press

Anti-war protests across Europe, small rallies in Russia

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather Sunday in cities across Europe to protest against the ongoing war in Ukraine, with small rallies taking place in Russia as well despite a crackdown by authorities against such demonstrations.

Trade unions called a protest in Berlin where sunny weather was expected to boost the turnout. Organizers planned to march from the city's Alexanderplatz – a large square named after Russian Tsar Alexander I – to a site near the Brandenburg Gate.

Many participants carried flags in the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine, while others carried banners reading “Stop the War” and “Peace and Solidarity for the people in Ukraine.”
Protests were also planned in Warsaw, London, Madrid, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart.

In Russia, where protests against the war in Ukraine have typically met with a heavy police response, rights group OVD-Info said more than 200 people had been detained in 23 cities as of early afternoon Moscow time.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian nationals in Taiwan and supporters staged a march Sunday in Taipei to protest the Russian invasion.


Nearly 125,000 people evacuated via humanitarian corridors in Ukraine, says president

Nearly 125,000 people have been evacuated via humanitarian corridors from conflict zones in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address on Sunday.

"Today the key task is Mariupol," he said, adding that a humanitarian supply convoy was now only 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from the besieged port city where more than 400,000 people are trapped.


Turkey hopes its citizens can be evacuated from Ukraine mosque

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday he hoped progress could be made on evacuating Turks stuck in a mosque in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, adding he had sought help from his Russian counterpart on the issue.

Ukraine has accused Russia of failing to observe ceasefires to allow people to leave Mariupol, a southern city where a blockade has left hundreds of thousands trapped. Russia blames Ukraine for the failure to evacuate people.

Ukraine's foreign ministry said on Saturday that Russian forces had shelled the Sultan Suleiman mosque, where more than 80 adults and children, including Turks, have taken refuge. Moscow has denied targeting civilian areas in what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine.

Cavusoglu said there was no damage to the mosque and that buses were waiting to evacuate the Turks, although contact could not currently be established due to clashes in the area." In my phone call with Mr (Sergei) Lavrov, I … asked him for support in evacuating these citizens of ours in Mariupol," Cavusoglu said, referring to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He added Turkey had shared information with Russia about its citizens stuck in areas Russian forces had entered.


Ukraine: Russia has kidnapped mayor of southern city of Dniprorudne

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Dniprorudne, Yevheniy Matvieyev, has been kidnapped by Russian troops, Ukrainian authorities said.

"War crimes are becoming more and more systematic," the head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, Oleksandr Starukh, wrote on Facebook.

Dniprorudne is a small town with nearly 20,000 inhabitants on the Dnipro River.

Earlier, Kyiv had said that the mayor of the city of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, had been abducted by Russian forces.


At least 35 people killed in attack on Ukrainian military base, says governor

At least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded in a Russian air strike on a large Ukrainian military training ground near the Polish border on Sunday, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyy said in a statement.

An injured serviceman is transported by medical workers following an attack on the Yavoriv military base, at a hospital in Novoyavorivsk, on Sunday. Credit: ROMAN BALUK/Reuters

Bar Peleg

Israel condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine, FM Lapid says in Romania

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned Russia's “unjustified” invasion of Ukraine on a visit to neighboring countries on Sunday, in one of Israel's most clear-cut criticisms of Moscow since war broke out over two weeks ago.

Lapid said Israel “calls on Russia to stop the shooting and attacks and to solve the problems around the negotiating table,” following a meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Bogdan Aurescu, in Bucharest, as part of a diplomatic lap in Romania and Slovakia.

Amid additional calls for Jerusalem to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, Lapid said that “Israel will help as much as possible to reach a peaceful solution. We are working in full coordination with our allies, the U.S., and our European partners to try to end this violent tragedy as quickly as possible."

Read the full story.


Nine killed, 57 wounded in attack on Ukraine military center on Polish border, Ukraine says

Nine people were killed and 57 were wounded in a Russian attack on a military center in Ukraine, near the Polish border, Kyiv region's governor said on Sunday.

Foreign military instructors worked at the Yavoriv military facility, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

"Russia has attacked the International Center for Peacekeeping & Security near Lviv. Foreign instructors work here. Information about the victims is being clarified," Reznikov said in an online post.


Russian forces attempt to surround Ukrainian forces in east - U.K. intelligence

Russian forces are attempting to surround Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south, Britain's defense ministry said on Sunday.

"Russian forces advancing from Crimea are attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa," the ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter.


Zelenskyy says 'Russia doesn't have strength to conquer us'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that Russia does not hold the military strength to conquer Ukraine.

"The Russian invaders cannot conquer us. They do not have such strength," Zelenksyy wrote on his telegram channel.

"They do not have such spirit. They are holding only on violence. Only on terror. Only on weapons, which they have a lot," He added.


Air strike launched on Ukraine military base near Polish border

An air strike was launched on a Ukrainian military base Yavoriv in the west of the country near the Polish border, the Lviv regional military administration said on Sunday.

"The occupiers launched an air strike on the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security. According to preliminary data, they fired eight missiles," the administration said in a statement.

The center, less than 25 km (15 miles) from the Polish border, did not say whether it had been hit. It said it would release details later.


Explosions rock Ukraine's Lviv

Multiple explosions rocked the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine on Sunday.

"Multiple explosions heard in Lviv and Kherson and reports that Lviv is under Russian missile attacks," the online news portal Kyiv Independent said.

The explosions could be heard in Poland, a dpa reporter in Przemysl said.


Some 13,000 Ukrainians evacuated from cities on Saturday, deputy PM says

Around 13,000 people were evacuated from a number of Ukrainian cities on Saturday, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, almost twice the number who managed to get out the previous day.

Vereshchuk said in an online message that no one had managed to leave the besieged city of Mariupol and blamed obstruction by Russian forces. Moscow had earlier accused Ukrainian forces of intentionally trapping people there.

Jonathan Lis

Bennett, Zelenskyy speak again about solutions to Ukraine war

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday night for the second time this week, following the Ukrainian leader's suggestion that negotiations with Russia could take place in Jerusalem.

In a conversation that lasted over an hour, the two discussed how to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Israel's mediation efforts.

Zelenskyy took to Twitter to say that he asked Bennett to "assist in the release of captive mayor of Melitopol and local public figures," referring to the southeastern Ukrainian city where Russian forces have abducted the mayor.

Earlier on Saturday, Zelenskyy said that "I don’t think it would be right at this point to meet in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus. These aren’t places in which we could reach any understandings on stopping the war. I’m not talking about technical meetings, but about meetings between leaders. I believe Israel could serve as such a meeting place, especially in Jerusalem.”


Ukraine's Defense Minister: Israel's refusal to support us will hurt ties

Israel's refusal to take a clear position against Russia will damage the trust between Kyiv and Jerusalem, the Ukrainian Defense Minister warned Saturday.

"Israel shows unexplained indifference and unwillingness to take a side in the war," Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said. "This will lead to a lack of trust that will grow between Israel and Ukraine for many years to come, because we will persevere, have no doubt."

Reznikov, who serves as the senior Ukrainian envoy in talks between Russia and Ukraine, also addressed Israelis in a video he posted: "You have great influence in your countries. You can take a more active stance, and shape decisions."

The Associated Press

Mariupol under brutal siege as russia strikes near capital

Russian forces pounded the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday, shelling its downtown as residents hid in its iconic mosque and elsewhere to avoid the explosions. Fighting also raged in the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, as Russia kept up its bombardment of several resisting cities.

Mariupol, a city of 446,000 people, has endured some of Ukraine’s worst misery since Russia invaded. Unceasing barrages have thwarted repeated attempts to bring food, water and medicine into the city and evacuate its trapped civilians. It has even interrupted the city's efforts to hurriedly bury its dead in mass graves.

The Ukrainian government said Saturday that the Sultan Suleiman Mosque was hit, but an unverified Instagram post by a man claiming to be the mosque association’s president said the building was spared when a bomb fell about 700 meters away. About 80 residents, including children, were reportedly hiding inside.

“They are bombing it 24 hours a day, launching missiles. It is hatred. They kill children,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a video address.

An Associated Press journalist in Mariupol witnessed tanks fire on a nine-story apartment building and was with a group of hospital workers who came under sniper fire on Friday. A worker shot in the hip survived, but conditions in the hospital were deteriorating: electricity was reserved for operating tables, and people with nowhere else to go lined the hallways.

Bar Peleg

Petition sent to top Israeli court over Ukrainian refugee policy

Ukraine's ambassador to Israel on Friday requested an Israeli attorney to petition the High Court against Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's stringent guidelines for the entry of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees to Israel, a policy which has been publicly condemned by Ukraine on numerous occasions.

In a letter sent to attorney Tomer Warsha, Ambassador Yevgen Kornichuk argued the policy violated a bilateral agreement between Ukraine and Israel cancelling visa requirements for travel back in 2010, leaving the embassy no choice but to petition the High Court.

The embassy, however, later said "it did not submit an appeal," but that is does support "the core of the appeal, that is addressed to protect the rights of the Ukrainian refugees, mainly women and children." In the end, Warsha will petition the court, and is requesting to be recognized as a public petitioner.

The Ukrainian ambassador's letter to the attorney requesting he petition the High Court.

Attorney Warsha requested a temporary injunction to halt Shaked's updated guidelines and an urgent hearing over the need for visas. At a press conference on Friday, the ambassador said that he met with Shaked and offered her a number of suggestions for solving the problem while emphasizing that Ukrainians who come here want to ultimately return home.


Biden approves another $200 million in military funding for Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden has signed off on another tranche of military funding for Ukraine, amounting to $200 million, the White House said.

This follows the $350 million in aid for the Ukrainian armed forces approved by Biden just two weeks ago, following Russia's decision to invade Ukraine.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the weapons provided with that money, including modern Javelin anti-tank guided missiles, have already been delivered to Ukraine.

Since the beginning of last year, the United States has provided $1.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine, according to a State Department tally. Earlier in the week, Congress also passed a package of humanitarian and military aid for Kyiv as part of the U.S. budget that amounts to $13.6 billion.


Ukraine: Russia killed seven evacuating civilians near Kyiv

Ukraine's intelligence service accused Russia on Saturday of firing at a convoy of civilian evacuees from the village of Peremoha near Kyiv region, killing seven people, including one child.

"After the attack, the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to turn back to Peremoha and are not letting them out of the village," the intelligence service said in a statement.

"Russians shot a column of women and children while trying to evacuate from the village of Peremoha in the Kyiv region along an agreed "green" corridor. Seven people died, including one child," it said.

Reuters was unable immediately to verify the report and Russia offered no immediate comment.

Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Ben Samuels

Senior U.S. official warns Israel: Don't be last haven for dirty money fueling Putin's wars

WASHINGTON – A senior Biden administration official publicly urged Israel on Friday to join the rest of the Western world in sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, in perhaps the most direct official remark from the U.S. relating to Israel's stance on the war ravaging Eastern Europe.

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told Israel's Channel 12 News that "We're asking, among other things, for every democracy around the world to join us in the financial and export control sanctions that we have put on Putin. We have to squeeze the regime. We have to deny it the income that it needs, squeeze the oligarchs around him, we squeeze its economy."

"So in that context, we're asking as many countries as we can to join us. We're asking that of Israel as well. Among other things, you don't want to become the last haven for dirty money that's fueling Putin's wars," she added.

Read the full story here


U.S. accuses Russia of 'lying' to UN council, fear use of chemical agents in Ukraine

The United States accused Russia of using a UN Security Council meeting Friday for "lying and spreading disinformation” as part of a potential false-flag operation by Moscow for the use of chemical or biological agents in Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia was playing out a scenario put forth in the council last month by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken — that President Vladimir Putin would “fabricate allegations about chemical or biological weapons to justify its own violent attacks against the Ukrainian people.”

“The intent behind these lies seems clear, and is deeply troubling,” she said. “We believe Russia could use chemical or biological agents for assassinations, as part of a staged or false-flag incident, or to support tactical military operations.”

The United States has warned about such Russian operations in conjunction with an invasion, which began Feb. 24.

Russia had requested the meeting to address its allegations of U.S. “biological activities” in Ukraine — a charge made without any evidence and denied by both Washington and Kyiv.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said its Defense Ministry had documents charging that Ukraine has at least 30 biological laboratories carrying out “very dangerous biological experiments” involving pathogens, and its work “is being done and funded and supervised by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the United States."

Ukraine does have a network of biological labs that have gotten funding and research support from the U.S. — but they are owned and operated by Ukraine and are part of an initiative called the Biological Threat Reduction Program that aims to reduce the likelihood of deadly outbreaks, whether natural or man made. The U.S. efforts date back to work in the 1990s to dismantle the former Soviet Union’s program for weapons of mass destruction.

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