Russia-Ukraine Updates: Some 5,000 Killed in Mariupol Since Siege Began, Mayor Says

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Local resident Valentina Demura, 70, reacts to her destroyed apartment building in the besieged port city of Mariupol on Sunday.
Local resident Valentina Demura, 70, reacts to her destroyed apartment building in the besieged port city of Mariupol on Sunday.Credit: ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/ REUTERS
Updates
DPA

U.K.:Abramovich suspected poisoning claims 'very concerning'

Claims that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich suffered suspected poisoning during attempts to aid peace talks between Kiev and Moscow in Ukraine are "very concerning," the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has said.

It said the UK will "continue to assist" by implementing tough sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime as well as by providing defensive and humanitarian support to put Ukraine "in the strongest possible negotiating position."

It was reported on Monday that Abramovich was among a group who suffered symptoms consistent with poisoning after attending peace talks in Ukraine.

The Russian oligarch, who is involved in talks between Kiev and Moscow, along with at least two Ukrainian negotiators, developed red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands since the meeting at the start of the month, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Sources told the PA news agency Abramovich had now recovered and was continuing to try to help with the negotiations.

Reuters

Amnesty's head accuses Russia of war crimes in Mariupol

Amnesty International is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

The human rights organization will soon release an in-depth report on the devastation caused by Russia's assault on the city on the Sea of Azov, Amnesty's Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a press conference in Johannesburg.

“The siege of Mariupol, the denial of humanitarian evacuation and humanitarian escape for the population, and the targeting of civilians, according to Amnesty International's investigation, amounts to war crimes," said Callamard. “That is the reality of Ukraine right now.”

Callamard said "the crisis in Ukraine right now, the invasion ... is not just any kind of violation of international law. It is an aggression. It is a violation of the U.N. charter of the kind that we saw when the U.S. invaded Iraq.”

On other topics, Amnesty released its annual report Tuesday, with Callamard noting that, amid the pandemic, large corporations and wealthy countries had increased global inequality in 2021.
“Noxious corporate greed and brutal national selfishness, as well as neglect of health and public infrastructure,” deepened existing global inequalities, Callamard said.

Reuters

Kremlin spokesperson: Russia will not use nuclear weapons in Ukraine conflict

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told PBS in an interview on Monday that Russia would resort to nuclear weapons only in the case of a "threat to the existence" of his country — and not as a result of the current conflict with Ukraine.

"But any outcome of the operation (in Ukraine), of course is not a reason for usage of a nuclear weapon," Peskov said.

"We have a security concept that very clearly states that only when there is a threat for existence of the state, in our country, we can use and we will actually use nuclear weapons to eliminate the threat for the existence of our country."

Reuters

British intel: Private Russian military company deployed in Ukraine

British military intelligence said on Monday the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, has been deployed to eastern Ukraine.

“They are expected to deploy more than 1,000 mercenaries, including senior leaders of the organization, to undertake combat operations,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said.

Reuters

Biden says his remarks on Putin reflect his 'moral outrage,' not U.S. policy

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday his remark in Warsaw that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be removed from power reflected his own moral outrage, not an administration policy shift.

"I wasn't then nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I felt, and I make no apologies," he told reporters at the White House, noting that prior to the remark, made in a speech on Saturday, he had visited with families displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At the end of the speech in the Polish capital, Biden added an unscripted line, saying that Putin "cannot remain in power." Administration officials rushed to clarify afterward that the White House was not advocating for regime change in Russia.

Biden added on Monday that he was "not walking anything back" by clarifying the remark. Asked whether the remark would spur a negative response from Putin, Biden said, "I don’t care what he thinks. ... He’s going to do what he’s going to do."

But Biden once again suggested Putin should not be leading Russia. If Putin "continues on the course that he’s on, he’s going to become a pariah worldwide and who knows what he becomes at home in terms of support," Biden said.

Bar Peleg

Israel will restrict entry of non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees with no relatives in Israel

The state informed Israel's High Court on Monday that it will continue to restrict the entry of Ukrainian refugees who are not eligible for immigration to Israel under the Law of Return and have no relatives in the country.

Israel's quota for Ukrainian refugees who are ineligible for Israeli citizenship and have no relatives in Israel is 5,000 – though the state said it would allow 20 additional refugees in this category to enter per day, even if the quota is exceeded.

In response to a petition filed against the refugee intake outline, the state said that since the war in Ukraine began, a total of 11,000 Ukrainian citizens who aren't eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return have entered Israel. About 4,975 of them also have no Israeli relatives, and thus, they entered the country within the quota of 5,000.

According to the state's response, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said she will continue to allow Ukrainians who have relatives in Israel – but are ineligible for immigration under the Law of Return – to enter the country without restriction.

Anshel Pfeffer

Russia forcing occupied Ukrainians to use its mobile network

Civilians in the Russian-occupied areas of southeast Ukraine are being forced to use Russian SIM cards in their phones so Russia can block the flow of information from the areas it has captured.

Ukrainian civilians who have remained in the towns of Berdyansk and Melitopol on the coast of the Sea of Azov, which have been occupied by the Russian army, have been given Russian SIM cards by the occupying forces with which to communicate, according to a Western intelligence source.

Read the full report here.

Reuters

UN exploring possibility of humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he has directed the world body's aid chief "to explore with the parties involved" the possibility of a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.

Guterres also appealed for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire "to allow for progress in serious political negotiations, aimed at reaching a peace agreement based on the principles of the United Nations Charter."

Reuters

About 5,000 killed in Mariupol since siege began, mayor says

Almost 5,000 people, including about 210 children, have been killed in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol since Russian forces laid siege to it, a spokesperson for the mayor said on Monday.

It was not immediately clear how Mayor Vadym Boichenko had calculated the toll from a month of Russian bombardment that has devastated the city and trapped tens of thousands of residents without power and with few supplies.

Data released by Boichenko's office showed 90% of buildings had been damaged and 40% destroyed, including hospitals, schools, kindergartens and factories.

About 140,000 people had fled the city on the Sea of Azov before the Russian siege began and 150,000 have exited since then, leaving 170,000 still there, according to the data, which Reuters could not immediately verify.

Boichenko, who is no longer in Mariupol, had said on national television earlier on Monday that about 160,000 civilians were still trapped in the city.

"The situation in the city remains difficult. People are beyond the line of humanitarian catastrophe," Boichenko said. "We need to completely evacuate Mariupol."

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Russian-Israeli tycoon Roman Abramovich might have been poisoned in Kyiv, report says

Russian-Israeli tycoon Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators experienced symptoms suggesting they had been poisoned after a Kyiv meeting early this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Sources told the newspaper that Abramovich and at least two senior members of the Ukraine negotiating team had symptoms including red eyes, painful tearing and peeling skin on their faces and hands. The sources said they suspected hard-liners in the Kremlin had poisoned Abramovich and the negotiators to torpedo peace talks.

Ukrainian officials poured cold water on the report. Asked about the suspected poisoning, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said "there is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories". Rustem Umerov, another member of the negotiating team, urged people not to trust "unverified information".

Citing intelligence, a U.S. official blamed an "environmental" reason for the sickening of Abramovich and the negotiators, "E.g., not poisoning." The official spoke on condition of anonymity and did not elaborate further.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Read Haaretz's full report 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.

Hasidic Jews battle missionaries on Ukrainian border

Moldovan Jews have launched an anti-missionary effort to counter foreign evangelicals working to convert refugees fleeing Ukraine as they cross over the border, a local community leader told Haaretz on Monday.

In a phone call from Chisinau, Rabbi Mendy Axelrod, an emissary of the Chabad Hasidic movement, said that he has been sending volunteers, including some refugees “who are ready to enlist in this struggle,” to the border to prevent displaced Jews from accepting food or shelter from missionary groups instead of the local organized community.

The volunteers have been distributing Russian language pamphlets produced in collaboration with controversial Israeli anti-missionary group Yad L’achim warning refugees: “Do not believe their false promises, their goal is to lure you and use your difficult position to [bring you into] their Christian sect.”

According to the New York Jewish Week, one of the groups recently active on the Ukrainian border was an American “messianic” organization titled Chosen People Ministries.

“What they are trying to do is get Jews to give up their religion,” Axelrod, whose movement is known for proselytizing among Jews, told Haaretz. “We are doing the opposite.”

While evangelical groups have been providing aid to Ukrainians escaping the Russian invasion of their country, some have criticized them for attempting to convert people at their most vulnerable.

“Imagine you travel for days to safety, are stuck in a queue and have to listen for hours to an American yelling about “Jesus, Prince of peace” with loudspeaker translation,” Guardian correspondent Shaun Walker tweeted last week alongside a video of American missionaries on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Reuters

Ukrainian forces retake control of town of Irpin, says local mayor

The mayor of Irpin, near Kyiv, said on Monday Ukrainian forces had seized back full control of the town which has been one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops near the capital.

"We have good news today -- Irpin has been liberated," Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn said in a video post on Telegram.

"We understand that there will be more attacks on our town and we will defend it courageously. "The information could not immediately be verified by Reuters.

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.

Ten thousandth Ukrainian refugee lands in Israel

The 10,000th refugee from the Former Soviet Union to arrive in Israel since the outbreak of hostilities between Ukraine and Russia landed in Israel on Monday, the Immigration Ministry announced in a statement predicting similar numbers in the coming months.

“It was an exhausting journey that ended with your good welcome. Thank you,” Sasha Zlovin, the ministry said was the 10,000th refugee.

Zlovin had fled the eastern Ukrainian city with her grandparents while her parents chose to remain behind.

More than 3.7 million people have fled the country since Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border just over a month ago, with most of them having fled to Poland.

While a small percentage of the immigrants arriving in Israel were Russians, the overwhelming majority were from Ukraine, a spokesman for the ministry told Haaretz.

The number of new immigrants is in line with previous Jewish Agency projections and marks a return to the mass immigration experienced by Israel following the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea and Donbas regions in 2014, which led to 30,000 Ukrainians moving to Israel between 2014 and 2018.

Reuters

Putin not ready to compromise, says U.S. official

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear ready to make compromises to end the war in Ukraine, a senior U.S. official said on Monday as Ukraine and Russia were preparing for their first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks.

"Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point," the senior U.S. State Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity after Ukraine's president sketched out a potential way to end the crisis over the weekend.

Reuters

Former Ukrainian rebel leader says invasion is a mistake

One of the architects of the Moscow-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine eight years ago said Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a mistake, in comments that show the Kremlin cannot count on support from all pro-Russian opponents of Kyiv.

Alexei Alexandrov was one of the leaders of a movement in 2014 to reject Kyiv's rule and create an autonomous pro-Moscow territory in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, triggering a war against Ukrainian government forces.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia attacked Ukraine last month in part to protect the separatist territory from Kyiv, though Western states say that is a pretext for an unprovoked land grab. In an interview with Reuters last Friday, Alexandrov said: "All this could have been resolved earlier, mainly through diplomatic means and perhaps an insignificant use of force. But that was not done, and that is a mistake on all sides.

Alexandrov said Moscow had, over many years, failed to grasp how to deal with Ukraine, whose rulers he said were set on crushing the identity of the Russian-speaking community in eastern Ukraine, an allegation that Kyiv and its allies deny.

Reuters

New wave of Ukrainian refugees tests Europe's capacities

Central European nations are bracing for a renewed influx of refugees from Ukraine that could test their capacity to house, school and find work for the rising numbers of mainly women and children escaping the war.

While the flow of people across the EU's eastern borders has ebbed, aid workers say recent Russian missile strikes on military targets in Lviv may spur more people to leave the city just 60 km (40 miles) from the border with NATO-member Poland.

"We are getting news from Lviv...that there is likely a very large number of buses that has gathered that could come our way either tomorrow or the day after," said Regina Slonicka, a former journalist now volunteering at Warsaw train station.

"So again we will have a great need for help. "Since Russia invaded its neighbour on Feb. 24 the fighting has displaced more than 10 million people and forced nearly 4 million to flee Ukraine in Europe's biggest refugee crisis since the end of World War Two, according to the UN refugee agency.

More than half of the refugees arriving in the European Union have come via Poland, home to the region's largest Ukrainian community of around 1.5 million people before the war. Others have come through Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.

Reuters

No signs of Russian forces pulling back from Kyiv, say Ukraine

Ukraine sees no signs on the ground that Russia has given up a plan to surround the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Ukrainian defense ministry spokesperson Oleksander Motuzyanyk said on Monday.

"According to our information, the Russian Federation has not abandoned its attempts, if not to capture, then to surround Kyiv. For now, we don't see the movement of enemy forces away from Kyiv," he told a televised briefing.

Reuters

Local Russian councillor says Kremlin invasion of Ukraine a war crime

A local councilor in southern Russia who criticized Moscow's invasion of Ukraine as amounting to a war crime has said she felt an obligation to speak up and was prepared for the consequences.

Russian officials have denied committing war crimes and say their forces in Ukraine have not targeted civilians. The Semiluksky district council in Voronezh, about 500 kms (310 miles) south of Moscow, has asked law enforcement to investigate Nina Belyayeva for extremism after she made the comments at a meeting on March 22.

"I'm not afraid," Belyayeva, a lawyer and devout Christian told Reuters in an interview. "The very least that I wanted to do was to say that I am against what’s going on."

Belyayeva's decision to speak out was unusual. Many Russians appear to back the war while others keep their opinions to themselves. Public criticism of the war carries risks.

Thousands of Russians who took part in protests have been detained over the past month, and a state TV producer who interrupted a live news bulletin holding up an anti-war sign has been fined. Reuters sent requests for comment about Belyayeva's case to the Kremlin and to the investigative committee for Voronezh region, which investigates serious crimes. Neither replied.

Bar Peleg

Court orders Israel to give Ukrainian refugees facing deportation 48 hours to appeal

A Tel Aviv District Court judge issued a ruling Monday directing Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority to give Ukrainian refugees who are ruled ineligible to stay in Israel 48 hours to appeal the decision.

District Court Judge Michal Agmon-Gonen, whose ruling is effective immediately, also took the Population Authority to task in the harshest terms for what she claimed was an attempt by the agency to avoid judicial oversight.

This was the first decision of its kind since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Read the full article here

Reuters

Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper halts publications after official warning

Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, said on Monday it was suspending its online and print activities until the end of Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine.

The newspaper, which has already removed material from its website on Russia's military action in Ukraine to comply with a new media law, said it had received another warning from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Monday about its reporting, prompting it to pause operations.

DPA

Russia looks to export oil to Asia as it turns away from Europe

As European countries look to wean themselves off of Russian energy, Moscow is looking to fill at least part of the gap by increasing oil exports to Asia.

There is a market "in South East-Asia, in the East," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, according to the Interfax agency. The world market is more diverse than just the European market, he said.

"Although, of course, the European market is premium," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said. Peskov was reacting to the announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that his government will move "pretty fast" to eliminate Germany's dependence on Russian energy imports.

Scholz told German public broadcaster ARD on Sunday that Germany could do this quickly in the case of coal and oil, although natural gas would take longer. Economics Minister Robert Habeck has said that Germany can probably halve Russian oil imports by the summer. So far, Russia has continued its gas deliveries to Europe unabated despite its war against Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by the West.

Reuters

North Macedonia expels five Russian diplomats

North Macedonia has declared five Russian diplomats personas non grata for violating diplomatic norms and ordered them to leave the country in five days, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The Russian ambassador in the country was informed the five people have carried out activities that are contrary to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and had to leave, the ministry said. North Macedonia has joined international sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Reuters

Zelenskyy to address Greek parliament on April 7

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address Greece's parliament on April 7, parliament officials said on Monday. Zelenskyy accepted an invitation to address the assembly virtually from its speaker,

Constantinos Tasoulas, following a telephone call with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday. "It's important that Greek parliament listens to the message of a president, who along with his country, is defending himself against a barbaric and illegal invasion," Mitsotakis said after an EU Summit in Brussels.

Zelenskyy's address is scheduled to start at noon (0900 GMT). Greece is coordinating with France and other countries to organize a humanitarian aid mission to Mariupol, a southern Ukrainian port city of 400,000 before the war where thousands of ethnic Greeks live, which has been one of the worst hit in the Russian invasion.

Russia says it is carrying out "a special military operation" in Ukraine.

Reuters

Kremlin says Biden's comments on Putin a cause for concern

The Kremlin said on Monday that U.S. President Joe Biden's comments that Vladimir Putin could not remain in power were a cause for concern.

Biden made the comments to a crowd in Warsaw on Saturday. He later said that the United States does not have a policy of regime change in Russia.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would continue to closely follow Biden's statements.

The Associated Press

Russia concentrates on reducing Ukraine's eastern forces

With its aspirations for a quick victory dashed by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine’s military in the east in the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering part of the country’s territory to possibly end the war.

The bulk of the Ukrainian army is concentrated in eastern Ukraine, where it has been locked up in fighting with Moscow-backed separatists in a nearly eight-year conflict. If Russia succeeds in encircling and destroying the Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland called Donbas, it could try to dictate its terms to Kyiv and, possibly, attempt to split the country in two.

The Russian military declared Friday that the “first stage of the operation” had been largely accomplished, allowing Russian troops to concentrate on their “top goal — the liberation of Donbas.”

Reuters

Russian forces regroup but unable to advance, says Ukraine

Russian forces are regrouping but are unable to advance anywhere in Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Monday.

She said Russian forces were trying to reinforce positions they already hold and were trying to break through the defenses of Kyiv but had no hope of capturing the capital."

As of today, the enemy is regrouping its forces, but they cannot advance anywhere in Ukraine," she told a briefing, without providing evidence of the Russian troop movements.

Reuters

Mariupol mayor fears humanitarian catastrophe, says city must be completely evacuated

The southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe and must be completely evacuated, its mayor said on Monday.

Mayor Vadym Boichenko said about 160,000 civilians were trapped in the city without power. Twenty-six buses were waiting to evacuate civilians but Russian forces had not agreed to give them safe passage, he said.

"The Russian Federation is playing with us," he said. Russia denies targeting civilians and blames Ukraine for the repeated failure to agree on safe corridors for trapped civilians.

Reuters

Turkey could be among countries to offer Ukraine security guarantees

Turkey is among countries that could offer Kyiv security guarantees as part of any deal with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, a senior Ukrainian official said on Monday.

"Turkey is among those countries that could become guarantors of our security in the future," Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office, said ahead of peace talks scheduled between Kyiv and Moscow in Turkey.

Kyiv has said it wants legally binding security guarantees that would offer Ukraine protection from a group of allies in the event of a future attack.

Reuters

Turkey's Erdogan stresses need for cease-fire

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a telephone call on Sunday that a cease-fire and better humanitarian conditions were needed following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, his office said in a statement.

"Erdogan noted the importance of a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, the implementation of peace and the improvement of humanitarian conditions in the region," his office said in a readout of the call.

It added they agreed the next round of peace committee talks between Ukraine and Russia would be held in Istanbul.

Reuters

Ukraine prepared to discuss neutrality status, Zelenskyy tells Russian journalists

Ukraine is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but it would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in remarks aired on Sunday.

Zelenskiy was speaking to Russian journalists in a 90 minute video call, an interview that the Russian authorities had pre-emptively warned Russian media to refrain from reporting. Zelenskiy spoke in Russian throughout.

Zelenskiy said Russia's invasion had caused the destruction of Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine, and said the damage was worse than the Russian wars in Chechnya.

"Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point," Zelenskiy said.

Ukraine was discussing the use of the Russian language in Ukraine in talks with Russia, but refused to discuss other Russian demands, such as the demilitarisation of Ukraine, Zelenskiy said.

Reuters

Humanitarian aid for Ukraine is dwindling, says health official

The amount of humanitarian aid arriving in Ukraine is beginning to wane even as the Russian bombardment persists, Ukrainian Deputy Health Minister Oleksii Iaremenko said on Sunday.

Speaking in a cargo warehouse near Warsaw's Chopin airport during a delivery of medical equipment facilitated by charity Direct Relief, Iaremenko said he was grateful to the international community for the relief provided so far.

The shipment bound for Ukraine included everything from metal beds to gauze to asthma inhalers and oxygen concentrators. But more support was desperately needed, Iaremenko added, calling on other organizations to send aid.

"What we are asking if you can support, please support right now," he said. "Don't wait for weeks and months, because we need the support right now."

Reuters

After calling Putin 'Butcher,' Macron calls for restraint in words, actions regarding Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron called for restraint in both words and actions in dealing with the Ukraine conflict, after U.S. President Joe Biden described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "butcher" and said he should not remain in power.

"I wouldn't use this type of wording because I continue to hold discussions with President Putin," Macron said on France 3 TV channel.

Biden, speaking in Warsaw, had said that Putin "cannot remain in power". A White House official later said Biden's remarks did not represent a shift in Washington's policy and were meant to prepare the world's democracies for an extended conflict, not back regime change in Russia.

"We want to stop the war that Russia has launched in Ukraine without escalation -- that's the objective," Macron said on France 3 TV, noting the objective was to obtain a cease fire and the withdrawal of troops through diplomatic means.

"If this is what we want to do, we should not escalate things -- neither with words nor actions," he said.

Reuters

Separatist Luhansk Republic may hold referendum on joining Russia

Leonid Ivanovich Pasechnik, head of the self-described Luhansk People's Republic but internationally-recognized as part of eastern Ukraine, said the breakaway state may soon hold a referendum on unification with Russia, the Russian state-owned RIA news agency reported on Sunday.

Reuters

U.S. has no strategy of regime change in Russia, Blinken says

The United States has no strategy of regime change for Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Sunday after President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power."

"I think the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else," Blinken said during a visit to Jerusalem.

Reuters

Russia struck Ukraine's Lviv with cruise missiles, says Russian Defense Ministry

Russia struck military targets in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv with high-precision cruise missiles, the Russian defense ministry said on Sunday.

The defense ministry statement said that the strikes specifically targeted radio repair workshops and a fuel depot in the city.

It also claimed to have destroyed a missile storage center near the capital city of Kyiv.

DPA

Ukraine official says 12 journalists killed in the conflict

Twelve journalists have died in Ukraine since the war broke out a month ago, Attorney General Iryna Venediktova said late Saturday on her Facebook page.

Another ten reporters were injured in the course of the fighting, she added. "Telling the world the truth about Putin's aggression is deadly - 12 journalists have already died in the war," she wrote.

According to Venediktova the reporters were killed by the Russian military. This information could not be verified independently. According to investigations so far, at least 56 media representatives have been attacked, including 15 foreigners.

Venediktova said the foreign journalists who were attacked included reporters from Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. An American, an Irishman and a Russian journalist were killed.

DPA

Zelenskyy reiterates call for fighter jets and tanks from Poland

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has again called for Poland to send fighter jets and tanks to help in the fight against Russia's attack on his country.

In a video conference with his Polish colleague Andrzej Duda, Zelenskyy warned that if the Ukrainian armed forces were not supplied with fighter jets and tanks, the Russian military could later pose a threat to neighboring NATO countries.

If Ukraine's partners did not help Kiev this way, "then there is a high risk that the Russian army will pose a missile threat not only to the territories of our neighbors - Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and the Baltic States - but also a direct general military threat," Zelenskyy said on Saturday, according to the Ukrainian President's official website.

Then the borders and cities of the neighbors would be threatened by the Russians, Zelenskyy asserted. A Polish plan to send fighter jets to Ukraine via a US base in Germany appears to have been dropped after US objections, despite Ukrainian pleas. There was concern from Washington that such a measure could lead to a direct confrontation between NATO forces and the Russian military, which could lead to an escalation of the war.

The Associated Press

Battered and starved northern city fears becoming 'next Mariupol'

Nights are spent huddling underground from Russian strikes pounding their encircled city into rubble. Daylight hours are devoted to hunting down drinkable water and braving the risk of standing in line for the little food available as shells and bombs rain down. In the second month of Russia’s invasion, this is what now passes for life in Chernihiv, a besieged city in northern Ukraine where death is everywhere.

It isn’t — yet — quite as synonymous with atrocious human suffering as the pulverized southern city of Mariupol. But similarly blockaded and pounded from afar by Russian troops, Chernihiv’s remaining residents are terrified that each blast, bomb and body that lies uncollected on the streets ensnares them in the same macabre trap of unescapable killings and destruction.

Nestled between the Desna and Dnieper rivers, Chernihiv straddles one of the main roads that Russian troops invading from Belarus used Feb. 24 for what the Kremlin hoped would be a lightning strike onward to the capital, Kyiv, which is just 147 kilometers (91 miles) away.

Refugees from Chernihiv who fled the encirclement and reached Poland this week spoke of broad and terrible destruction, with bombs flattening at least two schools in the city center and strikes also hitting the stadium, museums and many homes.

The Associated Press

Back-to-back airstrikes hit Ukraine's Lviv

Russian rockets struck the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Saturday while President Joe Biden visited neighboring Poland, a reminder that Moscow is willing to strike anywhere in Ukraine despite its claim to be focusing its offensive on the country’s east.

The back-to-back airstrikes shook the city that has become a haven for an estimated 200,000 people who have had to flee their hometowns. Lviv had been largely spared since the invasion began, although missiles struck an aircraft repair facility near the main airport a week ago.

The city was home to about 700,000 people before the invasion. Some who no longer feel safe here will head for nearby Poland. Biden met there Saturday with refugees in a show of solidarity, though he was in the capital, Warsaw, and far from the Ukrainian border, which is only about 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Lviv.

Reuters

Russian sanctions could be lifted if forces withdraw, says U.K.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and companies could be lifted if Russia withdraws from Ukraine and commits to end aggression, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday.

Britain and other Western nations are using economic sanctions to cripple the Russian economy and punish President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, seeking to press him to abandon what he calls a special military operation to demilitarize and "denazify" Ukraine. In an interview with the Telegraph, Truss held out the possibility the measures could end if Moscow changed course. "What we know is that Russia signed up to multiple agreements they simply don’t comply with. So there needs to be hard levers.

Of course, sanctions are a hard lever," she said. "Those sanctions should only come off with a full ceasefire and withdrawal, but also commitments that there will be no further aggression. And also, there’s the opportunity to have snapback sanctions if there is further aggression in the future. That is a real lever that I think can be used.

"The British government says it has so far imposed sanctions on banks with total assets of 500 billion pounds ($658.65 billion) and oligarchs and family members with a net worth of more than 150 billion pounds. Truss also suggested that the crisis had brought Britain and the European Union closer after the relationship became badly strained in the wake of Brexit.

"One of the points I would make about this crisis is we have worked very, very closely with the European Union," she said. "Of course, there are some areas with which we have differences with the EU. But fundamentally, we are all democratic nations, we all believe in freedom and the right of people to select their own governments and we are very much united in the fight."

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WATCH: Biden speaks in Poland after NATO visit

0U.S. President Joe Biden is set to deliver a major speech in Warsaw, Poland, capping a three-day visit to Europe, which included meetings with senior NATO officials and Ukrainian leaders.

The remarks will focus on "the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles," according to the White House.

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ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism