Moody’s downgrades Russia’s credit rating on rising default risk
The Russian flag hangs from Russian Federation and Russian investment Bank VTB Capital, above the war memorial to WW1 British war dead.
Richard Baker | In Pictures | Getty Images
Moody’s cut its credit rating on Russia and kept a negative outlook, Reuters reported Sunday. The ratings agency cited sanctions that are restricting cross-border payments, including debt payments.
The ratings downgrade as “driven by severe concerns around Russia’s willingness and ability to pay its debt obligations,” the rating agency said, according to Reuters, which said default risks have increased.
Moody’s said the “likely recovery for investors will be in line with the historical average, commensurate with a Ca rating. At the Ca rating level, the recovery expectations are at 35 to 65%,” Reuters reported.
— Terri Cullen
Ukraine says Russia has violated the latest cease-fire in Mariupol
Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko said Sunday that Russia had once again violated a cease-fire agreement in the city of Mariupol.
In a post on Telegram, Gerashchenko said the situation was a repeat of Saturday, when Russia was accused of continuing to attack the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha despite a cease-fire agreement.
“Second attempt to create a “green corridor” for civilians in Mariupol again resulted in shellings from the Russian side,” according to the post. “Everyone needs to understand that because occupational army kills civilians — there’s no security guarantees for ‘green corridors.’ “
The official did not say whether the planned evacuation of civilians from the city had been canceled.
The city had planned to transport residents from Mariupol to Zaporozhye, a city to the west, during a cease-fire agreed between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time.
On Saturday, planned evacuations from the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha were canceled after Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister of Ukraine, said Russia had violated the cease-fire agreement, with fighting continuing in or around both cities.
— Katrina Bishop
Blinken: U.S. considering sending planes to Poland if needed
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the State Department in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2022.
Susan Walsh / Pool | AFP | Getty Images
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that if Poland sends jets to Ukraine, to join the fight against Russia, the U.S. would consider sending replacement planes to Poland.
Speaking at a press conference in Moldova, he added that it was being considered “very, very actively.”
“We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes,” Blinken said.
“I can’t speak to a timeline but I can just say we’re looking at it very, very actively.”
Ukraine president: U.S. is preparing new sanctions; Russia plans to bombard Odessa
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the U.S. is preparing new support for Ukraine and new sanctions for Russia.
“I talk to the leaders of many countries every day and every night. There is no hour when Ukraine does not hear what help it will receive. For example, the United States is preparing new support for Ukrainians and new sanctions for Russia,” he said Sunday, according to a translation of a televised address.
Zelenskyy also said that Russia was planning to bombard Odessa, the third-largest Ukrainian city and a key port on Ukraine’s coast.
“Russians have always come to Odessa, always felt in Odessa only warmth, only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa, artillery against Odessa, missiles against Odessa,” he added.
“It will be a war crime, it will be a historical crime.”
UK’s Boris Johnson outlines a six-point plan for Ukraine
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on during a news conference at British Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, March 1, 2022.
Kacper Pempel | Reuters
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out a six-point plan for resolving the Ukraine crisis in a New York Times article, saying the time to act is now.
In the guest essay, entitled “Putin’s Act of Aggression Must Fail,” Johnson said it was no longer enough to share “warm platitudes” about the rules-based international order.
“We are going to have to actively defend it against a sustained attempt to rewrite the rules by force and other tools, such as economic coercion. We must restore effective deterrence in Europe, where, for too long, the very success of NATO and of America’s security guarantee has bred complacency. What happens in Europe will have profound implications worldwide,” he wrote.
In the article, Johnson calls for allies to do the following:
- Mobilize an international humanitarian coalition
- Do more to help Ukraine defend itself
- Maximize the economic pressure on Putin’s regime
- Prevent any normalization of Putin’s actions in Ukraine
- Be open to de-escalation and diplomacy
- Strengthen “Euro-Atlantic security”
“Ukrainians have bravely defended their country. It is their valor that has united the international community. We can’t let them down,” Johnson added.
Over 1.5 million refugees have left Ukraine in last 10 days: UN
Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, says that over 1.5 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of the country began.
He described it as the “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”
WHO: Attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine have caused deaths, injuries
The World Health Organization confirms that there have been multiple attacks on health care facilities in Ukraine.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said on Twitter that the attacks had caused “multiple deaths and injuries.”
Ukraine war to last ‘months, if not years,’ UK deputy prime minister warns
Dominic Raab, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs walks in Downing Street on September 3, 2019 in London, England.
Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images
U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Sunday that the war in Ukraine could last months, if not years.
Speaking to Sky News, Raab said: “Our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine, and it’s going to take some time — we’re talking about months, if not years — and therefore we have to show some strategic stamina, because this is not going to be over in days.”
Mariupol officials say cease-fire to allow civilians to leave is planned for today
Mariupol City Council says that another temporary cease-fire is planned for Sunday to allow civilians to leave the Ukrainian city.
Fighting is due to stop between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear if the cease-fire was underway during this time.
The evacuation of civilians is scheduled to begin at midday, the city said in a post on Telegram.
“Following the route of the humanitarian corridor, you can leave the city by private transport, moving in a column of municipal transport (exclusively by bus),” the city said, according to a translation.
“At the head of the column will be accompanied by the Red Cross. We ask all drivers leaving the city to facilitate the evacuation of civilians as much as possible – take people with you, fill the transport as much as possible.”
The safe route — described as a “humanitarian ‘green’ corridor” — will go from Mariupol to Zaporozhye, a city to the west, with a number of stops along the way.
It comes after planned evacuations from Mariupol and Volnovakha were canceled Saturday due to fears of violence in the cities and on the routes out. Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister of Ukraine, said Saturday that Russia had violated the cease-fire agreement, with fighting continuing in or around both cities.
The cities have born the brunt of some of the most intense fighting in Ukraine over recent days.
Their location — in Ukraine’s extreme southeast corner, near the Russian border, the Sea of Azov and Crimea — makes them strategic targets for Moscow. If they fell to Russia, its troops could join forces with those in Crimea, a peninsula Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Putin ‘forced to deny’ reports that martial law is coming to Russia
Security forces arrest a Russian anti-war protester in Moscow on March 3, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
President Vladimir Putin was “forced to deny reports” that his government will impose martial law in order to stamp out Russian dissent against the war in Ukraine, according to the U.K. Defence Ministry.
Putin made the denial at an event in Moscow on Saturday local time. Rumors of impending martial law have swirled in Russia for days as the Kremlin tries to control opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Putin on Friday approved changes to Russian law that impose prison sentences of up to 15 years for “fake” news about the war in Ukraine.
“These steps likely reveal the extent of Russia’s concern over how the conflict in Ukraine has unfolded and its desire to hide this from the Russian population,” the U.K. ministry said in a Saturday intelligence update.
Demonstrators have protested the war in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia despite the threat of arrest or worse.
British newspaper the Guardian reported late last week that a bill was introduced in Russia’s legislature, the State Duma, that would forcibly conscript opposition protesters to fight in eastern Ukraine.
Zelenskyy and Biden discuss security, financial support
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine spoke by phone with U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday evening Washington time, the White House said.
On Twitter, Zelenskyy referred to the conversation as part of a “constant dialogue.”
“The agenda included the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia,” the Ukrainian president said.
Biden initiated the call, the White House said.
Also on Saturday local time, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, briefly met at the Ukraine-Poland border to discuss Western efforts to support Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country.
The pair of top diplomats discussed supplying additional weapons to Ukraine and efforts to impose sanctions on Russia to further isolate the country and damage its economy.
—Ted Kemp and Annie Palmer
Visa and Mastercard suspend operations in Russia, citing the invasion of Ukraine
Visa and Mastercard logos are seen in front of Russian flag in this illustration taken March 1, 2022.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters
Visa and Mastercard on Saturday said they will suspend all operations in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The move came after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an impassioned plea during a Zoom call with American lawmakers to restrict the companies’ credit card access in Russia.
Visa said effective immediately it will work to cease all Visa transactions within Russia in the coming days. Afterward, the company said, all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and any Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia won’t work within the Russian Federation.
“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa, said in a statement. “This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”
Mastercard said it would suspend its network services in Russia. Cards issued by Russian banks won’t be supported by the Mastercard network, and Mastercard cards issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs, the company said in a statement.
“As we take this step, we join with so many others in hoping for and committing to a more positive, productive and peaceful future for us all,” the company said.
Russia’s largest lender, Sberbank Rossii PAO, said the moves announced by Visa and Mastercard would not affect users of the cards it issues in Russia, Reuters reported, citing the Tass news agency.
“These decisions will not affect Sberbank’s Visa and Mastercards inside the country,” the Russian news agency quoted the bank as saying, Reuters said.
— Terri Cullen
Zelenskyy calls on Ukrainian citizens to ‘go on the offensive’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy talks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022.
Umit Bektas | Reuters
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged citizens of his country to “go on the offensive” against invading Russian troops.
“Every meter of our Ukrainian land won by protest and humiliation of the invaders is a step forward, a step towards victory for our entire state,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted on Telegram. “This is a chance to live.”
“Ukrainians! In all our cities where the enemy entered. Feel it. Go on the offensive,” he added.
Zelenskyy praised the heroism of residents in Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine that was taken by Russian forces this week. On Saturday, residents gathered to protest the Russian occupation as gunfire rang out, according to one video posted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
Zelenskyy also addressed people in the rebel-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, located in southeastern Ukraine. He urged them to fight for Ukraine and reject Russian propaganda.
“Look what Russia has done,” Zelenskyy said. “It did it right in front of your eyes. Protect yourself! Otherwise, it will take your life, too.”
— Annie Palmer