Follow real-time updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
March 5, 2022 8:10 PM EST
U.S. Eyes Deal In Which Poland Would Provide Warplanes To Ukraine In Exchange For F-16s
The United States is in discussions to potentially supply Poland with F-16s in return for the former Soviet Bloc country sending its aging MiG-29s to Ukraine, U.S. officials told Politico and the Wall Street Journal late Saturday, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an impassioned plea to U.S. lawmakers for Russian-made fighter jets to help his country fight off a Russian invasion.
March 5, 2022 6:28 PM EST
Mastercard And Visa Suspend Operations In Russia Over Invasion Of Ukraine
Mastercard and Visa are suspending operations in Russia with its invasion of Ukraine stretching into a 10th day, the two companies said Saturday, deepening the country’s economic isolation following a wave of sanctions.
Mastercard said in a statement that cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the Mastercard network and that any Mastercards issued outside of Russia will not work in Russia or ATMs there.
Visa said in a statement it will work with clients and partners in Russia to stop all Visa transactions in the coming days. It added that all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside of the country and any Visa cards issued outside of Russia will no longer work in Russia.
Mastercard and Visa cards accounted for nearly 74% of card payment transactions in Russia in 2020, according to the Nilson Report.
March 5, 2022 2:05 PM EST
Russia Resumes Offensive In Southern Ukraine As U.K. Accuses It Of Using Ceasefire To Reset Forces
Russia has restarted offensive operations in Mariupol and Volnovakha, the two southern cities where Ukrainian and Russian officials arranged to allow civilians to evacuate through humanitarian corridors as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement that collapsed hours after it began, with the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense accusing Russia of abusing the agreement to reset its forces.
“Due to the unwillingness of the Ukrainian side to influence the nationalists or to extend the ceasefire, offensive operations have been resumed from 18:00 Moscow time,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for Russia’s Defense Ministry, said in a statement to Russian news agency Tass. Konashenkov claimed “not a single civilian” was able to leave the two cities through the corridors because “nationalists” prevented them from leaving.
However, in an intelligence update, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense alleged Russia likely agreed to the ceasefire in Mariupol only to provide cover to reset some of its forces for a continued offensive attack without receiving “international condemnation.”
“By accusing Ukraine of breaking the agreement, Russia is likely seeking to shift responsibility for current and future civilian casualties in the city,” it said.
The evacuation process for children, women and the elderly to escape the fighting in the two cities in southern Ukraine was postponed hours after it began, after Ukrainian officials said Russia broke the agreement by shelling the cities and nearby areas along the evacuation routes.
— Anna Kaplan
March 5, 2022 1:16 PM EST
U.N. Counts 351 Civilian Deaths In Ukraine As Russian Attack Continues
The United Nations’ human rights office said Saturday 351 civilians had died and 707 had been injured as of Friday since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started last week, noting that the actual figures were likely “considerably higher.”
The figures include 329 adult deaths and 22 child deaths, and 671 adult injuries and 36 child injuries.
The U.N. has said the actual numbers were undoubtedly much higher given difficulties in reporting and corroborating casualties amid the ongoing fighting. The U.N. alleged “hundreds of civilian casualties” in Volnovakha, the Ukrainian government-controlled area of Donetsk.
Most civilian casualties continued to be caused by “explosive weapons with a wide impact area,” including shelling from heavy artillery, multi-launch rocket systems and missiles and airstrikes, the U.N. said.
— Lisa Kim
March 5, 2022 12:53 PM EST
Zelensky Pleads For Planes, Russian Oil Embargo In Call With U.S. Lawmakers
Zelensky spoke to more than 300 members of Congress and aides on a Zoom call and made a “desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. Schumer said the warplanes are much needed, and that he “will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer.”
An EU promise last week to provide used Russian fighter jets to Ukraine fell through after member countries possessing the planes balked.
Zelensky called for the U.S. to ban the import of Russian oil—a move the Biden administration is reportedly weighing, amid concerns that it could drive up domestic prices. He also reiterated his desire for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which Western leaders have rejected multiple times this week due to the likelihood that it would drag them into a wider war with Russia.
Schumer reportedly pledged to Zelensky that lawmakers were working to pass a $10 billion aid package for Ukraine, which the Biden administration requested earlier this week. The package aims to deliver additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance to Ukraine and its neighboring countries, according to the White House.
— Anna Kaplan
March 5, 2022 11:59 AM EST
State Department Urges U.S. Citizens To Leave Russia ‘Immediately’ As American Basketball Player Detained
The State Department warned U.S. citizens in Russia to depart immediately Saturday – ramping up the level of alarm from a February 27 advisory in which it told Americans to “consider” leaving immediately – and continued to direct Americans not to travel to the country in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The State Department warned that Russian security officials could harass U.S. citizens while the U.S. Embassy has “limited ability to assist” Americans, and the sharply diminished number of flights into and out of the country.
A WNBA player was detained at Russia’s Sheremetyevo airport, near Moscow, after officials found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage, the New York Times and USA Today reported on Saturday, citing the Russian Federal Customs Service. Russian news agency Tass identified the player as Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, citing an anonymous law enforcement source.
The Times reports Griner could face up to 10 years in prison, and the WNBA said in a statement to USA Today her “her swift and safe return” is the organization’s main priority. Read more about her detainment here.
— Anna Kaplan
March 5, 2022 11:20 AM EST
Aeroflot Suspends International Flights, Except To Belarus
Aeroflot, Russia’s flagship carrier, is suspending all international flights from Monday, except to the country’s ally Belarus, it said in a statement Saturday, following a warning from Russia’s aviation authority that Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes should stop flying overseas due to the likelihood they could be seized.
The airline said the suspension is due to “additional circumstances impeding the operation of flights.”
The move follows the recommendation from Russia’s aviation authority that Russian airlines with foreign-leased planes halt international flights as they risk being seized after the European Union forbade leasing of jets to Russian airlines in its package of sanctions. The EU has given leasing companies until March 28 to end their Russian contracts.
A growing number of countries have closed their airspaces to Russian aircraft, including the United States, Canada and most European countries.
Boeing and Airbus have also halted supplying aircraft parts and services to Russian airlines following the invasion of Ukraine.
— Lisa Kim
March 5, 2022 11:08 AM EST
Weaponless Kherson Residents Turn To Protests To Resist Russians After Army Retreats, Mayor Says
Armed resistance to Russian forces has ended in the strategically important southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, where the city’s mayor told CNN the local population was unarmed, and a large protest was staged Saturday morning, according to the New York Times.
“We don’t have more weapons to resist, to put up an armed resistance,” said Mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev, who told CNN the army had retreated toward Nikolaev.
A senior U.S. defense official told reporters as recently as Friday the Pentagon could not independently verify reports Russian forces had control of Kherson, as there were still clashes in and around the city.
Saturday morning, a crowd that Kolykhaiev estimated at 2,000 gathered in the city center to protest the Russian occupation of the city.
Kolykhaiev called for humanitarian assistance as “all city services are down,” including water and power. He noted logistical issues with receiving the aid, as the only route to receive supplies is through Crimea, which has been Russian-controlled since its annexation in 2014. The citizens of Kherson also only want to take aid from Ukrainians, according to Kolykhaiev.
“Russians want to send their humanitarian aid, but the people of Kherson are refusing it, because they are patriots and they don’t want aid from Russians,” he said. “So we are not receiving humanitarian aid at the moment.”
— Anna Kaplan
March 5, 2022 10:10 AM EST
Resistance Of Russian Invasion Of Ukraine Calls ‘Into Question’ Its Statehood, Putin Says
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that Ukraine is at risk of losing its statehood if officials continued to resist his invasion of the country, and denied that Russian conscripts are involved in the fighting.
Claiming there was a possibility of nuclear weapons being placed in Ukraine, Putin said, “Those from today’s leadership should understand that if they continue doing what they are doing, they call into question the future of Ukrainian statehood. And if it happens it will be wholly and fully on their conscience,” Interfax quoted Putin as saying during a meeting Saturday with female crew members of Russian airlines.
In his first extended remarks since the war began, Putin claimed Russia would not need to conscript soldiers to help fight in the invasion, nor would the country need to impose martial law. There have been multiple reports from Russian soldiers and family members of servicemen that conscripts are being put into action in Ukraine, though the military is not legally allowed to employ them in combat.
“Only professional military servicemen take part in this operation, officers and contract soldiers,” Putin claimed, according to the New York Times. “Not a single conscript takes part in it, and we don’t plan to send them there.”
Putin said he did not plan to impose martial law in Russia, unless other countries became aggressive toward the country, including implementing a no-fly zone, which Ukrainian officials have repeatedly called for. “The realization of that demand would bring catastrophic results not only to Europe, but to the whole world,” he said.
Western nations have rebuffed the calls for a no-fly zone due to the likelihood that it would lead to a wider war with Russia.
— Anna Kaplan
March 5, 2022 9:06 AM EST
Temporary Ceasefire Collapses As Ukrainian Officials Say Russian Shelling Continues
Ukrainian officials said Russia had violated the terms of a temporary ceasefire agreement Saturday between the two countries to allow civilians to escape the fighting in two southern cities, Volnovakha and Mariupol. Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister, said in a video posted on Facebook that Russian forces began shelling Volnovakha around 11:45 a.m., CNBC and CNN report.
“I hereby state that Russia has violated [the ceasefire] agreement, failed to fulfill its duty and shells the town of Volnovakha,” Vereshchuk said, according to a translation from NBC News. “Moreover, there has been fighting in the direction between Mariupol and Zaporizhia.”
Authorities also postponed evacuations from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhya around 12:45 p.m. due to attacks along the route, Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the eastern Donetsk region, said in a tweet.
Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a tweet the “ongoing Russian bombardment makes it impossible to open humanitarian corridors for safe evacuation of civilians.” “We call on Moscow to order Russian troops to cease fire immediately,” Nikolenko said.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia and Ukraine agreed to a temporary ceasefire so that civilians could evacuate through humanitarian corridors from the two cities. Mariupol has faced heavy bombardment this week, leading to supply shortages and utility outages. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko wrote in a Facebook post earlier this week Russian troops “deliberately destroyed” the city’s infrastructure, and that the city is working to restore heat, water and light for residents.
— Anna Kaplan
March 5, 2022 2:03 AM EST
Russia Declares ‘Ceasefire’ In 2 Southern Ukrainian Cities—And Will Open ‘Humanitarian Corridors’
Russia declared a temporary “ceasefire” early Saturday so civilians in the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha can evacuate through “humanitarian corridors,” the New York Times and Russian news agency Interfax reported, citing a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted Saturday morning “humanitarian evacuation corridors are being prepared for opening” in Mariupol and Volnovakha, two southeastern Ukrainian cities that have seen intense fighting in recent days. He said “the parties temporarily ceased fire in the area of the corridors.”
Russia’s statement claimed the ceasefire will begin at 10 a.m. Moscow time, but didn’t specify how extensive or long-lasting it will be.
On Thursday, delegations from Russia and Ukraine tentatively agreed to open “humanitarian corridors” in certain cities. Podolyak told CNN on Friday these corridors—which could be used to evacuate residents of besieged cities and replenish food and medical supplies—will likely be temporary.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 11:13 PM EST
Singapore Unveils Rare Slate Of Sanctions Against Russian Banks And Tech Imports
Singapore will restrict military and high-tech exports to Russia and sanction four Russian banks, including VTB, the Singaporean government announced Saturday morning, an unusual move for a country that normally doesn’t impose sanctions on its own. Singapore is also prohibiting financial institutions from helping Russia’s Central Bank or the Russian government raise funds, and barring the use of cryptocurrency to evade sanctions.
Officials in Singapore first indicated they will roll out sanctions against Russia on Monday. Singapore usually does not enforce sanctions against foreign countries unless they are approved by the United Nations Security Council, Reuters and Bloomberg noted earlier this week. But the government has argued Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is uniquely worrisome because, as a tiny island nation, Singapore views respecting borders as sacrosanct.
“While we continue to value good relations with Russia and the Russian people, we cannot accept the Russian government’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another sovereign state. For a small state like Singapore, this is not a theoretical principle, but a dangerous precedent,” the government said in a statement Saturday.
Dozens of other countries have enacted financial penalties similar to Singapore’s. The United States and United Kingdom sanctioned VTB—Russia’s second-largest bank—last week, and U.S., U.K. and European Union leaders plan to halt some technology exports to Russia.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 11:12 PM EST
Russia Reportedly Planning To Send 1,000 Additional Mercenaries Into Ukraine
Russia plans to send as many as 1,000 additional private mercenaries to Ukraine over the next few weeks, CNN reported Friday, citing an unnamed U.S. official—joining a corps of Russian mercenaries who are widely suspected to have already entered Ukraine.
CNN reports the 1,000 extra mercenaries could work alongside the Russian military’s ground troops, who have faced morale problems amid resistance from Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters earlier this week.
Before Russia invaded Ukraine last week, the New York Times reported mercenaries from Russia’s secretive Wagner military contracting firm—known for its purported work in Syria and Africa—had quietly entered separatist-run parts of eastern Ukraine. A senior U.S. defense official said Monday the Pentagon has seen “some indications” the Wagner group is present in Ukraine, but it’s unclear how many operatives are in the country.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 10:03 PM EST
Zelensky Advisor: Ukraine Working To Create ‘Humanitarian Corridors’—But Trusting Russia Could Be Difficult
One day after Ukraine and Russia tentatively agreed to create “humanitarian corridors” to access besieged Ukrainian cities, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN Friday evening “the work on the logistics is now in progress” to set up temporary routes to evacuate civilians and resupply certain cities with food and medicine.
Zelensky’s advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told CNN Russia hasn’t agreed to create permanent humanitarian corridors, but Ukraine hopes to establish temporary routes that could be free of fighting for several hours at a time.
Podolyak also acknowledged it will be difficult to trust Russia’s military to respect ceasefires near agreed-upon corridors because “its current tactics [are] aimed at spreading panic among people.” Russia has ramped up bombardments of cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv in recent days, destroying apartment complexes and endangering civilians. He suggested international organizations could act as mediators to monitor the status of any humanitarian corridors.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 8:06 PM EST
Samsung Is Latest Tech Company To Cut Off Exports To Russia
Samsung Electronics is halting shipments to Russia, the tech company told Reuters and Bloomberg Friday, joining a litany of companies that have stopped selling their products in the country since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine.
Forbes has reached out to Samsung for comment.
Several other companies have distanced themselves from Russia in recent days. Apple paused product sales in Russia on Tuesday, Microsoft took similar action on Friday, and platforms like YouTube and Facebook have imposed restrictions on Russian state-controlled media outlets.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 7:01 PM EST
CNN Stops Broadcasting In Russia Amid Kremlin Media Crackdown
CNN will halt broadcasting in Russia, the cable network said Friday, making it the latest Western news outlet to scale back its presence in the country amid tightening government restrictions while it prosecutes an invasion of Ukraine.
A CNN spokesperson told Forbes the network “will stop broadcasting in Russia while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward.” A source at CNN said the outlet doesn’t plan on pulling its staff out of Russia.
The Russian government has sought to tightly control how media outlets report on the war with Ukraine, passing a law that threatens journalists with prison sentences of up to 15 years if they report what the Kremlin deems to be fake information about the invasion. Two of the country’s only remaining independent broadcasters left the airwaves earlier this week amid pressure from Russian authorities. Earlier Friday, access to Facebook and the BBC’s website was blocked, and the BBC said it would suspend local reporting in Russia.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 6:52 PM EST
Zelensky Excoriates NATO For Rejecting No-Fly Zone Over Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said NATO “gave the green light for further bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages” by refusing to implement a no-fly zone over his country, in a speech late Friday night translated by Reuters. Zelensky also called a summit of NATO countries earlier Friday “weak” and “confused,” pushing the alliance to take further action.
As Russia escalates its bombardment of Ukrainian cities, Zelensky has repeatedly urged Western leaders to force Russian warplanes to stay out of Ukraine’s airspace. The United States and its allies have categorically rejected the idea and warned enforcing a no-fly zone would require Western militaries to confront and shoot down Russian aircraft, leading to the risk of a broader war between nuclear-armed powers. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday “we have a responsibility to ensure [the war] does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine. That would be even more devastating and dangerous.”
Beyond the risks, some military experts argue a no-fly zone’s impact on the war in Ukraine could be fairly muted, since most Ukrainian civilian deaths so far appear to have been caused by artillery fire and missile strikes rather than attacks from aircraft.
“Contrary to what so many in the commentariat seem to believe, a no-fly zone is not a military half-measure. It is a combat operation designed to deprive the enemy of its airpower, and it involves direct and sustained fighting,” the national security website War on the Rocks wrote.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 5:49 PM EST
White House ‘Looking At Options’ To Limit Russian Oil—But Blinken Finds ‘No Strategic Interest’ In Supply Cuts
The federal government is considering ways to reduce U.S. imports of Russian oil, Council of Economic Advisors Chair Cecilia Rouse said Friday, though the Biden Administration still appears hesitant to pursue a strategy that could cause prices to spike even higher.
Rouse said during a White House press briefing “we are looking at options that we can take right now if we were to cut the U.S. consumption of Russian energy, but what’s really most important is that we maintain a steady supply of global energy.”
However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pushed back on the idea of restricting Russian oil Friday, telling reporters “there’s no strategic interest in reducing the global supply of energy.” He didn’t rule out the idea, but warned sanctions against Russian energy exports—a key part of Russia’s economy—could add fuel to the fire of the recent sharp rise in oil prices, an argument the Biden Administration has often articulated this week.
Earlier Friday, Bloomberg reported the Biden Administration has discussed the possibility of a ban on Russian oil with both federal staffers and the petroleum industry, citing unnamed sources. But oil is fungible, and Bloomberg reports the administration is concerned any Russian crude oil that the United States stops importing may just go to other countries, causing U.S. prices to increase without any tangible impact on Russia’s bottom line.
Last year, the United States imported around 72.6 million barrels of Russian crude oil, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s statistics, a small fraction of the roughly 2.2 billion barrels of crude oil imported into the U.S. from all countries in the same year, with Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia ranking as the top foreign sources of oil. (Russia accounted for about 20% of the 861 million barrels of refined petroleum products the U.S. imported last year, but imports are small compared to domestic production.)
Even though sanctions from Western countries haven’t directly targeted oil imports, some of the other severe economic penalties imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine could disrupt the country’s energy sector. Russia has reportedly struggled to find buyers for its oil, as traders steer clear of the country to avoid violating financial industry sanctions.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 3:51 PM EST
About 100 People Believed Trapped In Rubble Of Destroyed Apartment Building Near Kyiv, CNN Reports
The Ukrainian State Emergency Service believes around 100 people are still trapped in the rubble of a heavily bombarded apartment building in an area north of Kyiv, but an official told CNN rescue crews have been unable to reach them due to constant shelling from Russian forces.
Drone footage published Thursday showed large chunks of a multi-story apartment complex essentially leveled by shelling in Borodyanka just north of Kyiv, as Russian forces attempt to advance toward Ukraine’s capital.
“We are ready to evacuate people as soon as there is an agreement on a ‘green corridor,'” State Emergency Service spokesperson Viktoriya Ruban told CNN, appearing to refer to “humanitarian corridors” Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to in principle during talks on Thursday.
The agreement appears to involve temporary ceasefires to evacuate survivors of besieged cities, though exact logistics have not been confirmed and no corridors have been set up yet.
March 4, 2022 3:13 PM EST
Russia Blocks Access To Facebook, Twitter
Russia blocked access to Facebook across the country Friday in what Russian regulators said was retaliation for the social media giant restricting access to Russian media, and soon after blocked Twitter as well, according to Interfax. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, restricted access to posts from state-sponsored media outlets like RT and Sputnik earlier this week, while Twitter took steps to limit the reach of tweets linking to Russian state-affiliated news sources.
Read more about the bans here.
— Anna Kaplan
March 4, 2022 1:36 PM EST
U.S. Officials Say Russian Attack On Power Plant A ‘War Crime’ That Almost Caused ‘Nuclear Catastrophe’
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday that Russia nearly caused a “nuclear catastrophe” during an overnight attack that sparked a fire in the administration building at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Thomas-Greenfield called Russia’s decision to attack the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “madness” that threatened the security of both Ukrainians and Russians if there had been a meltdown and release of radiation.
The State Department also condemned the attack in a statement to Forbes. “The intentional targeting of civilians or civilian objects, including nuclear power plants, is a war crime, and we are assessing the circumstances of this operation,” a State Department spokesperson said. “But — regardless of the legality — this action was the height of irresponsibility, and the Kremlin must cease operations around nuclear infrastructure.”
Russian forces now control the facility after intense fighting overnight. The fire has been put out and the International Atomic Energy Agency hasn’t found any evidence radioactive material was released into the environment.
Ukrainian workers running the plant have reportedly been forced to remain on the job at gunpoint.
— Nicholas Reimann and Anna Kaplan
March 4, 2022 12:55 PM EST
State Department Tells U.S. Embassies In Europe Not To Retweet Kyiv Embassy’s ‘War Crime’ Tweet, Reports Say
The State Department sent a message Friday to U.S. embassies in Europe, asking for staffers not to retweet a tweet from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv calling Russia’s attack on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in Ukraine a “war crime,” NBC News and CNN report, citing an internal email.
“All – do not/not retweet Embassy Kyiv’s tweet on shelling of the facility being a possible war crime,” the message reportedly said. “If you have retweeted it – un-retweet it ASAP.”
The State Department did not comment on the email, but a spokesperson said in a statement to Forbes “the intentional targeting of civilians or civilian objects, including nuclear power plants, is a war crime,” and that the department is “assessing the circumstances” of the Russian operation.
NBC News reports the State Department also sent a memo to its public affairs offices in Europe asking them not to endorse the message of the tweet. The U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s tweet said the shelling takes Putin’s “reign of terror one step further,” and had not been taken down as of 2:15 p.m.
— Anna Kaplan
March 4, 2022 12:28 PM EST
UN Confirms 331 Civilian Deaths In Ukraine—But Real Number Likely To Be Much Higher
The United Nations said it had counted 331 civilian deaths and 675 civilian injuries in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion as of Thursday, adding the real number was likely to be higher.
The UN’s toll includes 312 adult deaths and 19 child deaths, and 644 injured adults and 31 injured children. It said the figures “could rise considerably further” as Russian attacks were delaying the verification of Ukrainian casualties, including the alleged “hundreds of civilian casualties” in the Ukrainian government-controlled area of Donetsk. Volnovakha was heavily damaged Thursday by Russian forces that used airstrikes and artillery shelling to attack the city, according to Forbes Ukraine.
Most civilian casualties were caused by “explosive weapons with a wide impact area,” including shelling from heavy artillery, multi-launch rocket systems and missiles and airstrikes, the UN said.
The Ukrainian government puts the death toll far higher than the UN. Ukraine’s emergency service said Wednesday more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians had been killed since Russia’s invasion of the country last week.
March 4, 2022 12:09 PM EST
Russian Forces Repelled From Mykolaiv In Southern Ukraine, Official Says
The Russian advance in southern Ukraine made its way to the city of Mykolaiv on Friday, but forces were pushed back from the city’s center to its outskirts, according to regional governor Vitaliy Kim.
Kim said in a video message that most of the Russian machinery was “destroyed and kicked out of the city,” according to a translation tweeted by former Ukrainian diplomat Olexander Scherba.
A U.S. official told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing Friday American intelligence had observed fighting near Mykolaiv.
Russian forces appear to be having the most success taking the southern portion of Ukraine, which is the site of Kherson, the largest Ukrainian city to fall so far in the war. Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine is reportedly without access to power or water amid a Russian siege. Capturing Mariupol would create a landbridge connecting Russian forces in Crimea to the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
Odessa, a major Black Sea port in southwestern Ukraine and the country’s third-largest city, remains under Ukrainian control.
— Nicholas Reimann
March 4, 2022 12:09 PM EST
Russian Forces Remain Stalled Outside Kyiv As ‘Vast Majority’ Of $350 Million U.S. Aid Package Reaches Ukraine
Russian troops remain about 15 miles north of Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, as Ukrainian attacks combined with a destroyed bridge have slowed their advance, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday. “We certainly believe that the Ukrainians blowing up that bridge absolutely had an effect on stopping and curtailing the movement of that convoy,” the official said. “But we also believe that they have hit the convoy at other places as well in direct attacks.”
Another senior U.S. defense official said about $240 million worth of aid from a $350 million U.S. security assistance package approved last week has been delivered to Ukraine, and the rest should arrive within the next few weeks. It’s the largest presidential drawdown package in history, according to the State Department, and it contains equipment Ukrainian forces have already been trained on. A total of 14 countries have provided security assistance to Ukraine since the invasion began, according to the official, who declined to specify the countries by name.
Among other updates:
- The Pentagon has “no reason to doubt” claims that Russia has taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to the official, after Russian shelling sparked a fire near the plant overnight, which the first official described as “recklessness.”
- There is no evidence of radioactive leakage from the facility, all of the fires are out and the U.S. Department of Energy is monitoring the situation.
- Russian forces remain about 6 miles outside of the cities of Chernihiv and Kharkiv, though due to the urban sprawl of Kharkiv, the distance “equates to really being on the outskirts of the city.”
- The U.S. sees Russian forces having more success in the south, and is not disputing reports that Russia has taken Kherson, though there have been clashes and conflicts near the city.
- Mairupol remains under Ukrainian control, though the city is under heavy bombardment and Russian troops are continuing to advance, leading to utility outages and supply issues.
- There is also fighting near the city of Mykolaiv, northwest of Kherson.
- About 92% of Russian forces assembled for the invasion have entered Ukraine, up from 90% on Thursday.
- More than 500 Russian missiles have been launched since the invasion began, up from about 480 on Thursday.
- The airspace over Ukraine remains contested – “a significant majority” of Ukraine’s aircraft remain available, the official said, and Ukrainian air and missile defenses remain effective.
— Anna Kaplan
March 4, 2022 10:58 AM EST
Historically Neutral Switzerland Announces New Sanctions Against Russia
The Swiss government on Friday announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russia, including banning all transactions involving the Russian Central Bank.
The sanctions mainly impact Russia’s ability to secure financing and conduct international trade, such as suspending the use of public financing for investments in Russia and prohibiting the export of goods for use in Russia’s oil and aerospace industries.
Switzerland took up the sanctions in line with penalties already approved by the European Union, including freezing the assets of dozens of Russian oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin.
The country on Tuesday closed its airspace to Russian flights as part of an earlier round of sanctions.
The Swiss government said in a statement it believes the sanctions are “compatible with Switzerland’s neutrality” while “due consideration is being given to humanitarian activities.”
— Nicholas Reimann
March 4, 2022 10:28 AM EST
UN Security Council Calls Emergency Meeting After Attack On Nuclear Plant
The United Nations Security Council plans to hold an emergency meeting at 11:30 a.m. Friday in New York to discuss the Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power facility in Europe, according to multiple reports.
Russian forces have seized the plant after a battle with Ukrainians early Friday morning that included shelling, which caused a fire at one of the facility’s buildings and prompted concerns the attack would lead to a catastrophic nuclear meltdown.
Fighting at the plant has since subsided and the International Atomic Energy Agency reported there was “no release” of radioactive material from the facility.
The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine tweeted Friday that Russia’s attack on the plant constituted a “war crime.”
— Nicholas Reimann
March 4, 2022 9:40 AM EST
Russia Says ‘No Talk’ Of Formalizing Agreement For Temporary Ceasefires
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday Russia has no plans at this point to sign any documents formalizing a tentative agreement that appeared to allow for temporary, localized ceasefires in Ukraine.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted Thursday that a second round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials yielded a “solution” to create “humanitarian corridors” allowing survivors the chance to safely evacuate from besieged cities through temporary ceasefires.
The agreement marked the first progress made so far in two rounds of negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian officials since the start of the war, but there wasn’t any headway made on Ukraine’s top two goals: a nationwide ceasefire and armistice.
Formal documents could provide more certainty to the tentative agreement made Thursday, though Russia has put little value in existing international agreements since invading its neighbor last week, and the nation is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court for potential war crimes over shelling civilian targets.
Russian officials did acknowledge Thursday’s agreement was very important, according to pool reports, and plans have been made for a third round of talks.
— Nicholas Reimann
March 4, 2022 9:30 AM EST
NATO Rejects Creating A No-Fly Zone Over Ukraine To Avoid Direct Conflict With Russia
NATO foreign ministers rejected the idea of establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine on the grounds it would cause the war to spread beyond that country, the alliance’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference Friday,
“We are not part of this conflict,” Stoltenberg said, “and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine.”
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said Friday any demands for the alliance to implement a no-fly zone are “irresponsible” as it would require the alliance getting involved in military conflict.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly urged the alliance to create a no-fly zone over the country as Russia escalates bombardment of major cities in Ukraine.
The U.S. has previously ruled out enacting a no-fly zone. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday at a press briefing that it “would require, essentially, the U.S. military shooting down Russian planes and causing a — prompting a potential direct war with Russia, something — the exact step that we want to avoid.”
— Lisa Kim
March 4, 2022 8:34 AM EST
‘Worse Days’ Likely To Come For Ukraine, NATO Chief Warns
Speaking at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels Friday, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said things are likely to get worse for Ukraine in the near future, with Russian forces expected to bring in “heavier weaponry” as they continue attacks across the country. “The days to come are likely to be worse, with more death, more sufferings, and more destruction,” he said.
“We have seen the use of cluster bombs and we have seen reports of use of other types of weapons which would be in violation of international law,” Stoltenberg said. Cluster bombs are widely condemned in the international community due to the risk of civilian casualties in densely populated areas. Stoltenberg called on the International Criminal Court to make a decision to open an investigation into the use of these types of weapons in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg described the conflict as the “worst military aggression in Europe for decades” and called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop this war immediately.” The chief reiterated that NATO is “not part” of the conflict but is committed to defending itself and ensuring hostilities do not spread beyond Ukraine. Stoltenberg said the alliance’s relationship with Russia has been “fundamentally changed” in the long-term as a result of the invasion.
– Robert Hart
March 4, 2022 8:13 AM EST
U.S. Accuses Russia Of War Crime After Attack On Nuclear Power Plant
Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine is a “war crime,” the U.S. embassy in Kyiv said on Friday. “It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant,” the embassy tweeted, after Russian forces reportedly seized control of the Zaporizhzhia power plant.
The embassy added: “Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of nuclear terrorism. In addition to Zaporizhzhia, Russia has also seized the Chernobyl site.
The accusation by a U.S. entity goes a step further than previous criticisms of Russian aggression in Ukraine, which have alluded to, but stopped short of, explicit accusations of war crimes. Russia has been accused of using prohibited weapons like vacuum bombs and cluster munitions in Ukraine and of intentionally targeting civilians.
A fire broke out at the plant overnight Friday when a Russian projectile hit the complex, sparking fears of a nuclear incident and international condemnation. Three Ukrainian troops were killed and two security staff at the plant injured, according to Ukraine’s state nuclear company and the UN’s nuclear watchdog, which said the projectile did not hit a reactor and no radioactive material had been released. However, the situation “remains very challenging,” said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi.
– Robert Hart
March 4, 2022 7:02 AM EST
UN Human Rights Council Backs Probe Into Russian Invasion Of Ukraine
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday voted overwhelmingly to create a high-level investigation into alleged human rights violations committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Thirty-two out of the council’s 47 members backed the probe, which aims to hold responsible parties accountable if violations have occurred. Russia—which denies committing any human rights violations like targeting civilians in Ukraine—was one of two countries to vote against the investigation. Eritrea also voted against establishing the probe, and remaining countries including India, Kazakhstan, Sudan and Cuba, abstained. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the decision and said “Russian war criminals will be held accountable.”
States are elected to serve three year terms on the UNHRC by members of the UN’s General Assembly. The council’s inclusion of countries accused of human rights violations is controversial and widely criticized by Western governments. Russia is no exception and rights groups pointed to alleged war crimes before it was reelected in 2020. Russia’s membership on the council has become another flashpoint following its invasion of Ukraine, where it has been accused of targeting civilians, nuclear facilities and using prohibited weapons including cluster munitions and vacuum bombs.
– Robert Hart
March 4, 2022 6:34 AM EST
More Russian Banks To Be Removed From SWIFT In New Round Of EU Sanctions, Irish Minister Says
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said the next salvo of EU sanctions will take “more Russian banks” out of SWIFT, a crucial part of the global financial system, according to RTE. Several Russian banks have already been cut off from SWIFT in earlier waves of sanctions and Coveney did not specify which banks are set to be barred.
Coveney said the bloc will be “significantly adding” to its sanctions on Russia today, which are about “isolating” the country on the international stage, and he expects it will ban imports like steel, timber, aluminum and potentially even coal, noting the latter could have an impact on already volatile fuel prices in Europe. Russian flagged ships will also likely be banned from entering EU ports, Coveney added.
“These are big decisions by the European Union that are going to have an impact on Ireland and EU countries,” Coveney said. “But they’re decisions that need to be taken to send very, very strong messages to Russia that this madness must stop.”
– Robert Hart
March 4, 2022 5:58 AM EST
Attack On Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant Demonstrates ‘Recklessness’ Of Putin’s War, NATO Chief Says
NATO Secretary General Jens Stontenberg on Friday condemned Russia’s “brutal” invasion of Ukraine and its attacks on civilians. He said Russian attacks on the Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine “demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it.” However, Stoltenberg stressed that NATO “is not part of the conflict,” despite support to Ukraine and “unprecedented” sanctions against Russia. “We don’t seek war, conflict with Russia…. NATO is a defensive alliance,” he said.
Speaking at the same press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed that while NATO does not seek conflict, it is “ready for it… if conflict comes to us.” U.S. and European allies are set for a day of talks on Saturday.
– Robert Hart
March 4, 2022 5:17 AM EST
IAEA Says ‘No Release’ Of Radioactive Material After Attack On Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plant
Attacks on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have not damaged any of the site’s six nuclear reactors and there has been no release of radioactive material, said International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi at a press conference Friday. Five of the plant’s reactors are offline, Grossi added, with the remaining reactor operating at 60% capacity. Safety systems were “not affected at all” in the attack, which hit an “adjacent” building. Two security personnel died in the attack, Grossi said.
Grossi added the situation is “fragile” and “unstable,” and offered to personally travel to Chernobyl, which is under the control of Russian forces, in order to speak with Russia and Ukraine. The agency head stressed the initiative is about ensuring the safety of nuclear operations and has “nothing to do” with the political situation between Russia and Ukraine as this is beyond the IAEA’s remit. “I am not a self-appointed mediator.”
– Robert Hart
March 4, 2022 3:56 AM EST
BBC, Radio Liberty Restricted In Russia
Russia’s censorship of the war intensified Friday after the country’s communications regulator blocked access to the BBC’s local website and Radio Liberty.
According to GlobalCheck, which tracks site outages and availability, Twitter and Facebook were also restricted in Russia as of Friday morning, while Radio Liberty reports that Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store were also blocked.
The move comes a week after Russia partially blocked access to Facebook, citing a violation of “the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens” and accusing the platform of “censorship.”
Russian state-backed channel RT came off air in the U.K. and EU Thursday and CNN reported the channel’s U.S. arm was shutting down the same day.
– Isabel Togoh
March 4, 2022 3:09 AM EST
Stocks In Asia, Europe Drop
Stocks in Asia slid Friday and in pre-market trading in Europe as investors react to the ongoing impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and Tokyo’s Nikkei were down more than 2%, while stocks in Shanghai fell almost 1%.
The drop comes after a blaze broke out at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia, southeastern Ukraine, following shelling by Russian forces, but was later extinguished and no deaths were reported.
Benchmarks in London and across Europe were down around 2% in pre-market trading.
Moscow’s stock exchange will remain closed for a fifth day Friday. On Thursday, the Kremlin admitted that Russia’s economy was “experiencing serious blows” amid the impact of Western sanctions and as dozens of multinational firms pull out or halt operations in the country. Regulators in the U.S. along with the London Stock Exchange also halted trading with dozens of firms linked to Russia this week.
– Isabel Togoh
March 4, 2022 12:09 AM EST
Fire Extinguished at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant, Ukraine Says
Emergency personnel have extinguished a fire that broke out at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant early Friday morning, with no casualties reported, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine announced on Facebook.
The fire was in a training building at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is Ukraine’s largest nuclear power station. Ukrainian regulators told the International Atomic Energy Agency earlier Friday that radiation levels haven’t increased and the fire did not endanger any “essential” equipment.
The fire broke out after Russian forces began approaching the plant, with heavy fighting reported in a town just miles away from the facility. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia’s military was “firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia.” The nuclear plant is located along the Dnieper River in the country’s south, which has faced an onslaught of invading Russian forces in recent days.
— Joe Walsh
March 4, 2022 12:06 AM EST
Airbnb Halts Operations In Russia
Short-term apartment rental service Airbnb is “suspending all operations” in Russia and allied nation Belarus, CEO Brian Chesky tweeted Thursday, the latest company to pull out of the Russian market.
Airbnb has halted all new bookings in both countries, and will prevent users in Russia and Belarus from making reservations, the company told Forbes in a statement.
Chesky has been outspoken about the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, offering earlier this week to house as many as 100,000 Ukrainian refugees free of charge. More than 1 million people fled Ukraine in the first week of Russia’s invasion, according to the United Nations.
Several other Western companies have distanced themselves from Russia over the last week, including petroleum giants BP and Shell. For more details on corporate responses to Russia’s invasion, click here.
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 11:42 PM EST
U.K. Calls For UN Security Council Meeting Over Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Fire
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will ask for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting “in the coming hours,” after a fire broke out at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant amid heavy Russian fighting early Friday morning, Johnson’s office said.
Johnson says he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the “gravely concerning situation” at the power plant, and called on Russia to cease all attacks near the facility, echoing a similar message from U.S. President Joe Biden. The International Atomic Energy Agency says radiation levels haven’t increased since the fire began, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator, but warned fighting near the plant is extremely dangerous.
The UN Security Council has met to discuss Ukraine several times in recent weeks, but Russia is one of five Security Council members with the ability to veto resolutions, which limits the body’s ability to respond definitively to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Last week, a resolution calling for an end to the war failed after Russia wielded its veto power.
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 9:33 PM EST
Biden Urges Russia To Stop Fighting Near Ukrainian Nuclear Plant After Fire Breaks Out
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy late Thursday night, as a fire broke out at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. In a readout, the White House said Biden “joined President Zelenskyy in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.”
The fire began after Russian troops started fighting in a town just miles away from the Zaporizhzhia plant. The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Twitter that Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has reported “no change” in radiation levels, and the fire hasn’t impacted critical plant equipment, but an attack on one of the plant’s reactors could lead to “severe danger.”
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm tweeted that American officials also haven’t observed elevated radiation levels, noting the Zaporizhzhia plant’s reactors are surrounded by “robust containment structures.”
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 9:09 PM EST
‘No Change’ In Radiation Levels After Fire Breaks Out At Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant, Ukraine Says
Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has observed “no change” in radiation levels after a fire broke out early Friday at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency tweeted. The fire also hasn’t impacted “essential” equipment, Ukrainian officials told the IAEA.
The fire at Zaporizhzhia—the largest nuclear plant in Ukraine—was reported after Russian troops began fighting in the nearby town of Energodar. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Russia is “firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia.”
The IAEA warned of “severe danger” if one of Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear reactors is hit, and called for an end to the use of force near the plant.
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 8:03 PM EST
Fire Reported At Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant As Russian Troops Approach
A fire has broken out at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant—Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant—amid intense fighting with nearby Russian forces, local and national officials said early Friday morning.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Russia is “firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia,” causing a fire to start, and Dmytro Orlov—the mayor of nearby Energodar—confirmed the fire on social media, according to Reuters. Orlov and Kuleba didn’t offer further details on the extent of the fire.
Russian ground troops are fighting within several kilometers of the nuclear plant and are “moving directly towards” the site, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told the International Atomic Energy Agency, a situation Ukrainian officials called “critical.” The IAEA said in a press release the Russian military “broke through the block-post” outside the town of Energodar, and fighting is now ongoing in the town and on the road to the nuclear plant. On Wednesday, a crowd of civilians had blocked Russian troops from entering Energodar.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is the second-largest nuclear plant in Europe, and one of the 10 largest in the world, with six pressurized water reactors. Last week, Russian forces also captured Chernobyl, the site of a massive nuclear disaster in 1986.
March 3, 2022 6:08 PM EST
U.S. Offers Temporary Immigration Protections To Ukrainians Amid Russian War
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will offer Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians who entered the United States by March 1, allowing them to temporarily remain in the country without fear of deportation, DHS said Thursday. The move comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced more than 1 million Ukrainians to flee their home country.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also paused deportation flights to Ukraine, a spokesperson for the agency told Forbes earlier Thursday.
Temporary Protected Status allows people from countries devastated by wars or natural disasters to temporarily live and work in the United States, even after their current U.S. visa expires. TPS for Ukraine will last 18 months, DHS said, though the Biden Administration has the power to extend it. The Migration Policy Institute, a think tank, has reportedly estimated there are about 30,000 Ukrainians in the United States who are neither U.S. citizens or permanent residents, making them potentially eligible for Temporary Protected Status.
Deportations of Ukrainians are fairly unusual: ICE removed just 106 Ukrainian citizens from the United States in fiscal year 2020, a tiny share of the agency’s 185,884 total deportations that year. Some 125 Ukrainians were deported in 2019 and 105 were deported in 2018.
A dozen other countries racked by conflict or natural disaster are currently designated for Temporary Protected Status, including Haiti and Syria.
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 5:46 PM EST
Kherson Days Away From Running Out Of Food, City Official Says
Kherson, the southern Ukraine city surrounded by Russian troops, is “maybe three, four days” away from running out of food and medicine, the secretary of the city council, Galina Luhova, told the Washington Post Thursday.
“We’re running out of medicines, we’re out of baby food, we are running out of diapers, and we are running out of first aid in hospitals,” Luhova told the Post by telephone.
The city requires a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to safely evacuate the war-torn region, she said. Earlier in the day Ukrainian and Russian negotiators reached a tentative agreement to set up such corridors.
Another Kherson resident told CNN earlier Thursday the city is low on insulin as pharmacies are being looted by Russian troops and others.
On Wednesday, the city’s mayor, Ihor Kolykhaiev, said the city had already fallen to the Russians, and that Russian soldiers aimed to establish a military government despite President Vladimir Putin’s claims that he had no intention of occupying Ukraine. Neither the Pentagon nor the Ukrainian Defense Ministry could could definitively confirm that the city was under Russian control as of Thursday morning.
March 3, 2022 4:57 PM EST
Kremlin-Controlled News Channel RT America Shuts Down
The American affiliate of Russian-government funded cable news network RT is suspending its operations and laying off most staff, CNN and CNBC reported Thursday, citing an internal memo from RT America’s production company T&R Productions.
RT Deputy Editor-in-Chief Anna Belkina said in a statement to Forbes the network is “sad and disappointed” that RT America is leaving the airwaves, citing “challenging external circumstances.”
RT has sought to build a U.S. audience for years, partnering with familiar American personalities like Larry King, William Shatner and Ed Schultz. The network has faced criticism for pushing inaccurate pro-Kremlin narratives, particularly since Russia invaded Ukraine. In the last week, DirecTV promised to remove RT America from its channel lineup, YouTube prohibited RT from monetizing its content and the European Union banned RT outright.
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 4:56 PM EST
U.S. Pauses Deportations To Ukraine
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has “paused” deportation flights to Ukraine, an agency spokesperson told Forbes on Thursday, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine imperils civilians and forces over 1 million Ukrainians to flee.
“ICE will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and make operational changes as necessary,” the spokesperson said.
ICE removed just 106 Ukrainian citizens from the United States in fiscal year 2020, compared to 125 in 2019 and 105 in 2018.
— Joe Walsh
March 3, 2022 3:49 PM EST
Macron Says ‘Vital To Maintain Dialogue’ Even As Putin Refuses To Stop War In Ukraine
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Thursday afternoon he remains “fully determined” to continue to talk with Vladimir Putin after the Russian president told him Thursday morning he has no intention of halting his military offensive in Ukraine.
“I will continue my efforts and contacts. We must avoid the worst,” Macron tweeted, while saying Putin “refused to stop attacks in Ukraine.”
According to the Washington Post, citing a French official, Macron was convinced after the 90-minute phone call that Putin intends for Russia to take over all of Ukraine, believing “the worst is yet to come.”
The Kremlin said in a statement Thursday that Putin informed the French president that Russia would keep up the war until Ukraine is completely demilitarized and it is certain “a threat to the Russian Federation will never emanate from its territory.”
— Nicholas Reimann
March 3, 2022 1:25 PM EST
Russia Agrees To Allow ‘Humanitarian Corridors’—But No National Ceasefire In Ukraine
Russian and Ukrainian officials have reached a tentative agreement allowing residents of cities besieged by Russian forces to evacuate via “humanitarian corridors,” according to a Ukrainian official, which could involve temporary, local ceasefires.
Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted the tentative deal was made during a round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials on Thursday, though he added no agreement was made on Ukraine’s top priorities—a nationwide ceasefire and armistice.
“The results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved,” Podolyak tweeted.
Russian officials called the agreements very important, according to CNN, citing pool reports from Moscow.
The two sides reportedly agreed there will be a third round of talks.
— Nicholas Reimann
March 3, 2022 12:40 PM EST
U.S. Says 90% Of Russian Forces Are Now In Ukraine As Troops Remain ‘Largely Stalled’ In The North
Russia has directed about 90% of the combat power it assembled for its invasion across the border and into Ukraine, a senior U.S. defense official said during a press briefing Thursday. Ukrainian cities to the north and east remain under heavy bombardment a week into the invasion, though Russian forces are “largely stalled” in northern Ukraine.
Here are additional updates from the senior defense official:
- More than 480 Russian missile launches have been fired since the war began, with the majority coming from inside Ukraine, followed by Russia (more than 160), Belarus (more than 70) and the Black Sea (less than 10).
- The Pentagon cannot independently verify reports that the city of Kherson is under Russian control, as both sides are “still fighting.”
- Russian forces are on the outskirts of Kyiv to the north and northwest, and the 40-mile military convoy remains stalled.
- The senior defense official said Russian troops appear to be trying to get to Kyiv “every single day” and are facing strong Ukrainian resistance, along with supply issues, as they intend to encircle the city.
- None of the Russian forces outside of Kyiv are closer than 25 kilometers, or about 15 miles, from the city.
- There is increasing bombardment in Chernihiv and Kharkiv, and there are indications Russian troops are “just outside the city” in Kharkiv.
- Russian forces are advancing on Mariupol from the north and from the coastline “with the apparent intention to isolate the city.”
- The airspace over Ukraine remains “contested,” and Ukrainian air defenses remain intact and effective.
— Anna Kaplan
March 3, 2022 12:32 PM EST
Russia Reportedly Considering Public Executions To Break Ukrainian Morale
Russia has drafted plans to crush the morale of the Ukrainian people in captured cities that include imprisoning political opponents and potentially public executions, according to Bloomberg, which cites a European intelligence official.
Russian soldiers have faced stiff resistance from Ukrainian troops as well as civilians who have taken up arms. Civilians have also attempted to stop Russian advances through tactics like laying on the ground to block military vehicles.
— Nicholas Reimann
March 3, 2022 12:02 PM EST
Lukoil, Russia’s Second-Biggest Company, Calls For Peace Talks
Lukoil, which is led by Russian billionaire Vagit Alekperov, joined the calls for peace Thursday after boycott threats against its gas stations in the U.S., though most are owned by Americans as franchises.
The company’s London-listed stock has plummeted more than 99% since Russia invaded Ukraine last week.
Alekperov’s net worth has declined to around $18.6 billion after peaking at nearly $25 billion last year, according to Forbes.
— Nicholas Reimann
March 3, 2022 10:30 AM EST
Ukraine And Russia Begin Second Round Of Ceasefire Talks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said the second round of ceasefire talks with Russia began Thursday evening. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said in a tweet the key issues include an “immediate ceasefire, armistice and humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages/cities.”
— Anna Kaplan
March 3, 2022 9:32 AM EST
Mariupol Mayor Says Russian Forces Created ‘Humanitarian Disaster’ In City
The mayor of Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine that is surrounded by Russian forces, said Russian soldiers had destroyed bridges and created a “blockade,” trapping women, children and the elderly in the city. “We are being destroyed as a nation,” Mayor Vadym Boychenko wrote in a Facebook post. “This is the genocide of the Ukrainian people.”
Boychenko said Russian troops “deliberately destroyed” the city’s infrastructure for the past seven days, and that the city is working to restore infrastructure capabilities. Boychenko also called on international groups to create a humanitarian corridor to help get supplies to the city to aid the “humanitarian disaster.”
A spokesperson for the Ukrainian National Guard told CNN the situation in Mariupol “remains difficult,” but stressed that “the Ukrainian military is not going to surrender the city.”
— Anna Kaplan
March 3, 2022 9:22 AM EST
Biden Wants $10 Billion More In Aid For Ukraine, Report Says
The Biden administration will ask Congress to approve an additional $10 billion in aid for Ukraine, the Washington Post reports, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the plans. The $10 billion request aims to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the country, supporting Ukraine’s defenses, protecting the country’s electrical grid and assisting other European allies, the Post reports.
Lawmakers have been working in recent weeks to create a long-term deal to fund the government, as the spending bill is set to expire on March 11. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there had been a “snag” over Ukraine assistance, claiming Democrats were trying to take the money from funds they had planned to allocate to the Pentagon.
The Post reports the Biden administration’s new request may alleviate these concerns, as the funding would come from new emergency aid for Ukraine, not repurposed dollars for the Department of Defense.
— Anna Kaplan
March 3, 2022 8:33 AM EST
UN Nuclear Watchdog Urges Russia To Cease Action At Ukrainian Nuclear Sites
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday and called on Russia to “immediately cease actions” at Ukrainian nuclear sites, according to AFP and Reuters. Twenty six countries on the board of the UN’s nuclear watchdog supported the resolution, five abstained (India, Pakistan, Senegal, Vietnam and South Africa) and two (Mexico and Burundi) were absent. Just two voted against the resolution: Russia and China.
The resolution comes amid reports Russian forces have surrounded Ukraine’s biggest nuclear plant—the largest in Europe—and a day after IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned about the dangers of war around nuclear facilities. Russian forces have already taken control over the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
– Robert Hart
March 3, 2022 7:07 AM EST
Formula 1 Cuts Ties With Russia Grand Prix
Formula 1 on Thursday cut ties with the Russian Grand Prix a week after cancelling the race this year.
In a statement reported by the BBC, F1 said it cancelled its “contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future.”
Read more about how the sports world has reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
– Isabel Togoh
March 3, 2022 6:29 AM EST
IKEA Halts Russia Operations
Furniture giant IKEA temporarily halted its Russia operations Thursday, including closing its shops and stopping its sourcing from the country, as well as Belarus.
A statement from the companies in charge of IKEA’s stores and supply, reported by Reuters, read: “The war has both a huge human impact and is resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions, which is why the company groups have decided to temporarily pause IKEA operations in Russia.”
Read more about the growing list of firms cutting ties with Russia.
— Isabel Togoh
March 3, 2022 6:05 AM EST
London Stock Exchange Suspends Trading With Dozens Of Russia-Based Firms
The London Stock Exchange halted trading Tuesday with more Russian-based firms, including Gazprom and Sberbank.
A statement by the LSE read: “Further to recent sanctions in connection with events in Ukraine, in light of market conditions, and in order to maintain orderly markets, the London Stock Exchange has suspended the admission to trading of the instruments…with immediate effect.”
The move follows Sberbank’s exit from Europe on Tuesday and a barrage of Western sanctions against Russia that has cracked down on financial institutions, Putin allies and oligarchs.
— Isabel Togoh
March 3, 2022 5:51 AM EST
French Government Seizes Yacht Linked To Rosneft Chief Igor Sechin
French authorities on Thursday seized a yacht they believe is linked to Russian oil baron Igor Sechin, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, in the port of La Ciotat. This seizure by France follows a similar move by German authorities, who seized a mega yacht owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov on Wednesday.
According to the French finance ministry the yacht was owned by an entity of which Sechin had been identified as the main shareholder.
Read more here.
— Siladitya Ray
March 3, 2022 4:55 AM EST
Russian And Belarusian Athletes Banned From Winter Paralympic Games
Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, the International Paralympic Committee announced Thursday. The move comes a day after the sporting body faced widespread criticism and threats of boycotts following it’s initial decision to allow athletes from those countries to compete under a neutral flag.
The number of athletes, teams and national Paralympic committees threatening to boycott the Games over Russian and Belarusian involvement was jeopardizing the “viability” of the Games, IPC president Andrew Parsons said in a statement explaining the u-turn.
The “situation in the athlete villages is escalating” and has become “untenable,” putting the IPC in a “unique and impossible position” close to the Games’ launch on Friday, Parsons added.
Read more here.
— Robert Hart
March 3, 2022 4:45 AM EST
Biden Set To Meet Other Leaders Of The Quad Alliance Later Today
Leaders of the Indo-Pacific security alliance known as the Quad—including U.S. President Joe Biden—will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday, the group’s first meeting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A statement put out by the Indian Foreign Ministry noted that the leaders in the meeting will “exchange views and assessments about important developments in the Indo-Pacific,” with no mention of the Russia-Ukraine situation.
The Quad—which Beijing has referred to as Indo-Pacific NATO—is made up of the U.S., India, Australia and Japan and is seen as counterbalance against China.
On the issue of Russia, however, the groups appears to be divided with Japan and Australia backing the U.S. and NATO’s condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine, while India has chosen to remain on the sideline and has abstained from key votes on the issue in the U.N.
— Siladitya Ray
March 3, 2022 3:51 AM EST
Oil Depot In Chernihiv Catches Fire After Being Struck By Shelling
Diesel tanks in an oil depot in the city of Chernihiv were hit by an airstrike on Thursday morning, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said in a post on Facebook.
The agency said it was still working to find out details of any casualties but noted that diesel tanks with a total capacity of 5,000 cubic meters have caught fire.
Photos shared by the agency showed massive clouds of thick black smoke billowing from a large tanker with firefighters at the scene.
— Siladitya Ray
March 3, 2022 2:49 AM EST
Russia Column Outside Kyiv Has Made Very Little Progress, U.K. Defense Ministry Says
The Russian military’s massive convoy of soldiers, vehicles and weapons remain over 30 kilometers (18 miles) away from the center Kyiv and have made “little discernable progress” in the past three days, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine on Thursday.
The update claims that the Russian convoy continued to face “staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion.”
The update also notes that despite heavy Russian shelling the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands.
— Siladitya Ray
March 3, 2022 1:51 AM EST
Spotify Closes Russian Office, Blames ‘unprovoked attack on Ukraine’
Streaming giant Spotify shut down its Russian office indefinitely on Wednesday citing Moscow’s “unprovoked attack on Ukraine,” according to Reuters.
“Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever,” Spotify said in a statement. The company also noted that it has reviewed thousands of pieces of content since the start of the war and has limited the discoverability of shows run by Russian state-affiliated media.
Spotify joins a growing list of tech companies that have taken action against Russia and its state-sponsored media following its invasion of Ukraine.
— Siladitya Ray
March 3, 2022 1:37 AM EST
U.S. State Department Criticizes Russia’s Media Clampdown
The US State Department accused Moscow of launching a “full assault on media freedom and the truth” as various independent news outlets in Russia faced a government crackdown.
Earlier this week, the Russian Prosecutor General blocked access to two independent media outlets, Radio Ekho Moskvy and Dozhd TV, accusing them of reporting “false” information about the invasion. This followed moves by the communications regulator Roskomnadzor last week to restrict access to major social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
“The people of Russia did not choose this war. Putin did. They have a right to know about the death, suffering and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine. The people of Russia also have a right to know about the human costs of this senseless war to their own soldiers.”
– U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price
The State Department called on Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to immediately “cease this bloodshed” and withdraw troops from Ukraine.
— Siladitya Ray
March 3, 2022 1:09 AM EST
New Delhi Denies Russian Claims That Indian Students Are Being Held Hostage In Ukraine
The Indian government on Thursday denied a Russian allegation that Indian students stranded in Ukraine were being held hostages and used as “human shields” by the Ukrainian military.
On Wednesday, following a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Kremlin has issued a statement noting that Putin had warned Modi about Indians students being taken hostage.
On Thursday, however, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi stated that India had not “received any reports of any hostage situation regarding any student.” Bagchi added that many Indian students were able to leave Kharkiv on Wednesday “with the cooperation of Ukrainian authorities.”
Earlier this week, shelling in Kharkiv claimed the life of one Indian student who had been standing in a queue to buy food. The student’s death led to widespread criticism of the Indian government by opposition politicians who accused it of failing to safely evacuate Indians from the war zone. According to New Delhi, more than 17,000 Indians have been evacuated from Ukraine as of Wednesday with a few thousand more remaining.
Despite its growing security partnership with the West, India has abstained from criticizing Russia’s invasion and has called for a diplomatic resolution to the situation. Amid growing tensions with its neighbor China both along its Himalayan mountain border and in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi has developed close security ties with the U.S. and its allies but still remains heavily reliant on Russian-made weaponry.
— Siladitya Ray
March 2, 2022 11:34 PM EST
OSCE Monitoring Mission Member Killed In Kharkiv Shelling
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Wednesday announced that a member of its monitoring mission in Ukraine was killed during the shelling of Kharkiv a day earlier.
The victim, Maryna Fenina, was killed while she was out to get supplies for her family.
“In Kharkiv and other cities and towns in Ukraine, missiles, shells and rockets are hitting residential buildings and town centers, killing and injuring innocent civilians – women, men and children alike,” the agency said in its statement.
The OSCE “strongly condemned” the increased shelling of urban centers and once against urged Russia to immediately cease hostilities and “engage in a meaningful dialogue.”
The OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, made up of civilians, was established in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
— Siladitya Ray
March 2, 2022 10:24 PM EST
Moody’s And Fitch Downgrade Russia’s Debt To Junk
Credit rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings both downgraded the Russian government’s debt to junk status Wednesday, following a similar move by Standard & Poors last week, as strict Western sanctions threaten to upend Russia’s economy.
The agencies cited tight international sanctions on Russian firms, particularly the United States and its allies’ joint decision last weekend to cut some Russian banks out of the SWIFT financial messaging system and ban transactions with the Central Bank of Russia. The restrictions on the Central Bank “will have a much larger impact on Russia’s credit fundamentals than any previous sanctions” by effectively freezing a large share of Russia’s international reserves, Fitch said.
The sanctions have imperiled Russia’s economy. The value of the ruble plunged earlier this week, and an executive at financial firm MSCI told Reuters on Monday the Russian market is “uninvestable.” The Moscow Stock Exchange has remained closed this week.
— Joe Walsh
March 2, 2022 9:15 PM EST
1 Million Refugees Have Fled Ukraine, UN Says
About 1 million people have fled Ukraine for neighboring countries since Russia began its invasion last week, the United Nations’ refugee agency estimated Wednesday, a massive exodus for a nation of about 44 million.
The UN estimates 4 million people could ultimately leave Ukraine, though that figure may turn out to be even higher, according to the Associated Press.
“For millions more, inside Ukraine, it’s time for guns to fall silent, so that life-saving humanitarian assistance can be provided,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Most refugees are crossing into neighboring countries to Ukraine’s west like Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova. Poland says it is taking in 50,000 refugees every day, according to the BBC. Ukrainian officials have barred men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country, part of a “general mobilization” as the country’s military and residents fight Russian troops.
Some African and Indian students say they’ve been subjected to racism while attempting to leave Ukraine, CNN reported. And racial discrimination has also been reported on the Polish side of the border, with right-wing nationalist groups harassing some refugees of color, ABC News reported.
— Mason Bissada
March 2, 2022 8:12 PM EST
UN Verifies 227 Civilian Deaths In Ukraine—But Real Number Is Probably Far Higher
The United Nations has confirmed 227 civilian deaths and 525 civilian injuries in Ukraine from the start of Russia’s invasion until Tuesday, though it said the real number is likely “considerably higher,” as international monitors struggle to verify casualties in an active warzone.
The United Nations’ count includes 212 adult deaths and 15 child deaths, as well as 497 injured adults and 28 injured children. Most of these casualties were caused by artillery shelling, rocket launches and airstrikes, the United Nations said, as Russia ramps up its aerial attacks on cities like Kyiv.
The government’s casualty counts have been far higher. Ukraine’s emergency service said Wednesday approximately 2,000 civilians have died, according to several media outlets, though that figure hasn’t been independently verified.
— Joe Walsh
March 2, 2022 7:18 PM EST
ICC Will Investigate Alleged War Crimes In Ukraine
The International Criminal Court will “immediately proceed” with an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine, prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan announced Wednesday, after 39 countries referred the case to the Hague-based court.
The investigation will not only examine possible war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but will also look into crimes that may have been perpetrated during the conflict between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine starting in 2014.
Khan said Monday there is a “reasonable basis” to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine, but he needed a referral from a party to the Rome Statute—the treaty that established the ICC—in order to begin his probe (Russia, Ukraine and the United States are not parties to the statute).
If the ICC decides to indict anybody for alleged war crimes, its ability to take legal action is somewhat limited, as the organization relies on individual countries to make arrests and transfer arrestees to its custody. Khan says the support of the international community will be “essential” to the investigation.
— Mason Bissada
March 2, 2022 6:00 PM EST
Oracle, H&M, EA Sports Are Latest Companies To Cut Ties With Russia
Technology company Oracle said Wednesday it has “suspended all operations” in Russia, and clothing retailer H&M has paused sales in Russia, the latest companies to distance themselves from the Russian market following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, EA Sports is removing the Russian national soccer team and Russian club teams from its FIFA-branded video games, it announced Wednesday. Two days earlier, the real-life Russian national team and Russian club soccer teams were banned from competitions run by FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations “until further notice.”
For more details on corporate responses to Russia’s invasion, click here.
— Joe Walsh
March 2, 2022 5:55 PM EST
U.S. Delivers Anti-Aircraft Stinger Missiles To Ukraine
The U.S. has delivered hundreds of anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to Ukraine over the past few days as part of the $350 million military aid package President Joe Biden promised last week, according to CNN.
The U.S. is sending weapons paid for through the Foreign Assistance Act, according to Reuters. Ukraine has also requested Javelin anti-tank weapons. The Pentagon told Reuters it would also be sending small arms, body armor, anti-armor and munitions to aid Ukrainian front-line personnel. The State Department said the U.S. has committed more than $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine over the past year.
“It is another clear signal that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereign, courageous, and proud nation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote in a statement Saturday announcing the aid.
— Mason Bissada
March 2, 2022 5:18 PM EST
Key Developments: Ukraine And Russia Plan To Meet Amid Intense Fighting, U.S. Cancels Missile Test
- Ukrainian negotiators are set to meet with a Russian delegation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office told the Eastern European news outlet NEXTA Wednesday.
- Russian troops have taken control of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the New York Times reported Wednesday, citing Kherson’s mayor and a senior Ukrainian official, marking the first major city to fall to Russia since the invasion started last week.
- Russia has continued its aerial attacks on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, reportedly hitting a railway station Wednesday, but Russian ground forces are largely stalled north of Kyiv amid logistical problems and intense Ukrainian resistance, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters.
- Russia’s defense ministry announced via state-run media outlets Wednesday 498 troops have died and 1,597 have been injured in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its first casualty update of the war—though Zelensky says nearly 6,000 Russian personnel have died.
- The United States has canceled an intercontinental ballistic missile test launch scheduled for this week to avoid escalating “heightened tensions” with Russia, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby announced Wednesday, three days after Russia put its nuclear weapons on high alert.
- Senior Chinese officials asked Russia not to invade Ukraine until after the 2022 Olympics in Beijing ended on February 20, the New York Times reports, citing anonymous U.S. officials and an anonymous European official, who told the Times an intelligence report indicated the request came in early February.
- The United States has hit Belarus with the same export controls that Russia is now facing, after U.S. officials said Belarus—a key Russian ally—is “enabling” the invasion.
— Mason Bissada