Ukraine says “small positive shifts” made in direct talks on Day 12 of Russia invasion

Conflict in Ukraine having “unconscionable impact” on children, U.N. agency tells diplomats

The head of the U.N. children’s agency issued an urgent plea to world leaders Monday, saying the fighting in Ukraine is having an “unconscionable impact” on the nation’s children.

“Children in Ukraine need help and protection. They need supplies. They need access to basic social services like health and education,” Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF, said at the U.N. Security Council’s meeting on the crisis in Ukraine. “But above all, children need peace.”

UNICEF’s Geneva-based spokesman James Elder said Friday half a million children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict. Russell also said schools, homes and orphanages have come under attack.

President Biden’s U.N. envoy, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the international community “is haunted by these images of homes, hospitals, schools, orphanages being destroyed, demolished in front of our eyes, child cancer patients unable to receive chemotherapy, babies delivered in basements instead of maternity wards, and hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to electricity for heat or drinking water to stay alive.”

The meeting came as France and Mexico are crafting a Security Council resolution that would call for a safe passage of civilians hoping to flee Ukraine. Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Russia violated the cease-fires that have already been called.

France’s Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, who is drafting the measure for the council, said, “What is happening before our eyes is a true humanitarian tragedy. The Russian aggression is killing civilians, including children, every day.”

U.N. agencies have set up teams of workers in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and have built on their ongoing presence in Romania, Moldova and Belarus to support the urgent needs of children, UNICEF said on Monday.

By Pamela Falk

“The depravity of it all is mind-blowing”

An American diplomat said Monday that Russia committed an act of “pure evil” after Ukrainian officials said Russian forces attacked civilians trying to flee two cities over the weekend.

“The depravity of it all is mind-blowing,” Ambassador Michael Carpenter, the U.S. envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said, according to a copy of his remarks to the group’s Permanent Council in Vienna. “On Saturday and Sunday, Russia agreed to open a humanitarian corridor out of Volnovakha and Mariupol but then bombed the egress road just as civilians were in the process of fleeing. It is pure evil.”

Carpenter said there was “a moral responsibility to act now.”

“Among the many early warning signs of mass atrocities is the use of rhetoric denying a nation’s right to exist,” he said. “Humanity has witnessed this sort of rhetoric before, and shockingly we are seeing it again today.”

By Alex Sundby

Russian restaurants in U.S. face harassment over Ukraine war

Some owners of Russian restaurants in the U.S. report being harassed and losing customers because of the war in Ukraine.

Ike Gazaryan, who owns Pushkin Restaurant & Bar in San Diego, said he received angry voicemail messages about the Russian invasion. “Someone said they would come by and blow up the restaurant and this was gonna be payback for what Russians are doing in Ukraine,” he told CBS News’ Michael George, adding that much of his staff is Ukrainian.

By Khristopher J. Brooks

People are donating to Ukrainians by booking their Airbnbs

People have found a direct way to help individual Ukrainians: booking their Airbnbs. A whopping 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine on March 2 and 3, because people know the money will go directly to the hosts, whose lives have been upended as their country is being invaded by Russia.

The home rental company is temporarily waiving guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine at this time, a spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News. That means Airbnb will not profit from these bookings. On March 2 and 3 the total gross booking value to Ukraine was nearly $2 million.

By Caitlin O’Kane

McDonald’s and Pepsi still open for business in Russia

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t stopping McDonald’s from selling Big Macs in Moscow. While a slew of companies have shut down operations in Russia, the world’s largest fast-food chain has so far continued with business as usual in the country despite the escalating conflict.

McDonald’s is being urged to pull the plug on its 847 restaurants in Russia by a major investor: New York state’s pension fund, with an estimated $280 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2021.

More than 200 U.S. and foreign companies have curtailed operations in Russia so far, according to a running tally by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a management professor at Yale University. He lists McDonald’s and Pepsi as among 32 companies that remain in Russia with significant exposure.

By Kate Gibson

U.S. official says nearly 100% of Russia’s pre-staged combat power in Ukraine

Nearly 100% of the combat power Russia built up around Ukraine’s borders over the past several months is now committed inside Ukraine, according to a U.S. senior defense official.

The Pentagon assesses the Russians had pre-staged about 127 battalion tactical groups, and as of Monday, most of those groups are now inside Ukraine, the official said. The Biden administration had said before the invasion that over 150,000 Russian troops were built up near Ukraine’s borders.

According to the official, there are no indications that forces within Russia are being moved closer to Ukraine’s borders to supplement what’s already been committed to the war. However, the official confirmed the Pentagon is seeing Russia actively try to recruit foreign fighters, particularly from Syria, to supplement the Russian troops in Ukraine.

By Eleanor Watson

Ukraine’s ambassador to U.S. requests “urgent action” from Congress on emergency aid

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, sent a letter to Congress on Monday urging lawmakers to take “urgent action” on a supplemental funding package that will provide assistance to Ukraine as its citizens continue to defend the country from Russian forces.

In the letter obtained by CBS News, Markarova asks for the legislation to: 

  • take steps to provide Ukraine with aircraft and air defense systems; 
  • increase the amount of presidential drawdown authority for fiscal year 2022, allowing President Biden to send more aid to Ukraine without congressional approval; 
  • boost funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative;
  • make funds “maximally flexible” to ensure Ukraine can meet “newly emerging challenges”

“Ukrainians are fighting for the values that we all share — peace, freedom and democracy,” the Ukrainian ambassador told lawmakers. “If we are united, we will win. To be united, to overcome this evil, to win, your continued leadership is essential.”

Markarova included a handwritten note at the end of the letter that read: “God bless America! Glory to Ukraine!”

The White House last week asked Congress to include $10 billion in humanitarian and security assistance for Ukraine in the government funding package it is expected to take up in the coming days.

By Sara Cook

Ukrainians fleeing to Poland face long journey, frigid weather

Around one million people have arrived in Poland since Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, Polish officials said. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to arrive soon, after making their way out of cities and the war zone. 

“CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil visited the Polish village of Medyka, one of the busiest border crossings for Ukrainian refugees, and met dozens of families — many with young children — who have already made the journey. Some were so overcome they couldn’t even talk about the situation.

Dokoupil on Monday said nothing prepared him for the sight of so many people walking out of their homeland: the mothers, grandmothers, and the children — so many in their mothers’ arms, in strollers or holding hands. Some were no taller than their family’s luggage.

Ukraine official says “small positive shifts” made in direct talks

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said a little progress was made on the matter of safe corridors in a third round of talks Monday with Russia’s delegation.

Mykhailo Podolyay said without elaboration that “there were some small positive shifts regarding logistics of humanitarian corridors.”

The countries’ foreign ministers are also scheduled to meet in Turkey on Thursday, according to that country’s top diplomat.

By Associated Press

Stocks fall as war keeps pushing up oil prices

U.S. stock markets fell Monday as surging oil prices amid Russia’s war in Ukraine rattle investors worried about worsening inflation from soaring energy prices.

Both the S&P 500 stock index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite were down 2.2% as of 12:30 p.m. ET Monday, while the Dow was off almost 2%, or 660 points, at 32,954.


U.N. says over 1.7 million people have fled war

The United Nations’ refugee agency said the number of people who have fled the war has increased to more than 1.7 million.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday put the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion started on Feb. 24 at some 1.735 million. That’s up from more than 1.53 million on Sunday.

Nearly three-fifths of the total — nearly 1.03 million — arrived in Poland, according to the agency. Over 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.

By Associated Press

Holocaust survivors in Ukraine traumatized by Russia’s invasion

For many Ukrainians, the invasion is a painful echo of their past, when they survived the Holocaust.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” 88-year-old Natalia Berezhnaya told the humanitarian group American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in a video. Berezhnaya, who has a home care worker through the group, was born in the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk, now called Dnipro, in 1934. She has lived in Odessa since 1938. 

During the Holocaust, Berezhnaya said she was evacuated to Siberia with her mother and family. Now, her home care worker is helping her survive the Russian invasion.

“It’s hard to believe that you might be going through the same thing again that you went through in ’41,” she said. “This is war. Any ways, any paths that exist to stop it — it must be stopped. And end this bloodshed.”

By Li Cohen

Russian banks consider issuing credit cards on Chinese system

Leading Russian banks are looking into issuing cards that operate on a Chinese payment system after Visa and Mastercard said they would cut their services in Russia.

Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank said Sunday that they are considering the possibility of payment cards powered by China’s UnionPay system. They told users that Visa and Mastercard will work within Russia but will stop working for payments outside of the country after Wednesday.

Russian banks are scrambling to find new ways to facilitate cross-border payments after a host of foreign companies suspended financial services, part of a larger move by the West to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global financial system.

By Associated Press

Former U.S. Army commander in Europe predicts Russia will fail to take Kyiv, and Putin’s “attrition strategy” won’t last

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Europe, says Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s “initial strategy” when he invaded Ukraine — to quickly storm major cities, oust pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelensky and replace him with a Russian-friendly alternative — “has failed.”

Hodges said Russia’s military had resorted to “an attrition strategy to bring about the same aim,” and acknowledged that the steady barrage of rocket fire on Ukraine’s cities had “helped make up for their poor planning, terrible logistics, inability to conduct effective joint operations at the operational level, and their poor estimation of Ukrainian fighting power.”

“But I don’t think they can sustain this ‘overwhelming’ firepower as their logistical challenge worsens and the logistics for Ukraine get better,” said Hodges. “I don’t think they have the manpower, logistics, or time to conduct this approach effectively.”

Hodges added that Putin’s adopted tactics could start to increase pressure on the Russian leader not only from other countries, but from within his own.

“The great unknown for me is if the Russian population will continue to support this once they understand what’s really going on,” Hodges said. “And I’m sure they’ll begin to understand it soon, despite Putin’s blackout on news/social media.” 

The retired U.S. Army commander foresaw “lots more destruction and fighting” in and around Kyiv, but he predicted that Ukraine’s capital “will not fall … Russians will not be able to take it,” due to its sheer size and the resistance being mounted not only by Ukraine’s military, but by its citizens.   

By Tucker Reals

Who are the Russian oligarchs the U.S. is targeting with sanctions?

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of State sanctioned more than two dozen individual Russians last week, piling on the financial pressure on the elites who have influence with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The aid of these individuals, their family members, and other key elites allows President Vladimir Putin to continue to wage the ongoing, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” according to a release from the Treasury Department on March 3.

The U.S. and Western partners and allies have been pointedly sanctioning Russian oligarchs, saying these elites have pillaged the Russian state and used family members to move and conceal assets. 

Click here to read more about the wealthy individuals the U.S. has singled out for sanctions.

By Allison Elyse Gualtieri

Russia is focused on “eradicating Ukraine from the face of the Earth,” says Ukrainian lawmaker

A Ukrainian Parliament member called on other governments to assist her democratic nation in repelling the invasion by Russia, and said failure to implement a no-fly zone increases the risk of World War III. 

Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian MP and mother of three, has been documenting her fight for freedom and her family’s quest for safety online. She tweeted on Saturday: “The violence is killing me. The inhumanity tears my heart apart.”

On Monday “CBS Mornings” co-host Nate Burleson asked, “What’s your message to the global community about what Ukraine and its people need right now?”

“We need the world to stand with us, not just, like, Twitter hashtags – really come here and stand with us,” Vasylenko replied. “We are a partner, a global partner of NATO, of the U.S., of Canada, of all the other countries. And as a partner, we responsibly assess our capabilities. And we do not have the capability to shoot down every single Russian missile, rocket or bomb that is fired onto the territory of Ukraine.”

Watch the full interview on “CBS Mornings” below:

In Kyiv’s battered suburbs, CBS News meets Ukrainians hiding from Russia’s indiscriminate shelling

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata visited suburbs on the northern outskirts of Ukraine’s capital that have been hammered by intense Russian shelling for days. He saw destroyed civilian homes in residential neighborhoods, with no military targets anywhere nearby. 

Russian artillery raining down indiscriminately just outside Kyiv has sent thousands of people fleeing from the capital, gripped by both fear and anger. Many families who had the means to escape have already gone, but many more either couldn’t leave, or haven’t wanted to risk going outside.

Many have sought shelter at a children’s holiday camp just outside Kyiv. D’Agata found Tatyana, the deputy manager of the camp, in a state of shock.

Asked if she was going to be okay, she broke down, apologizing and saying it was the first time she had cried in 11 days. 

Downstairs, D’Agata and his team found the elderly and young children all hiding out as thunderous explosions rang out above.

Ukrainians take shelter from Russian artillery strikes in the basement of a children’s holiday camp on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, March 7, 2022. 
CBS News

People in the makeshift shelter said the onslaught had been so ferocious, they check on each other after each explosion just to make sure they’re still alive.

Ukraine’s people have been blindsided by the mercilessness of Russia’s attack. Many have yet to fully process the tragedy, and they are all powerless to do anything about it.

Cryptocurrency companies resist pressure to close Russian accounts

U.S. banks, oil companies and internet service providers are cutting off Russia’s access to their services following its invasion of Ukraine, and the list of other companies doing the same grows daily. But one rapidly growing industry so far has declined to pull back in Russia: cryptocurrency traders.

Crypto exchange platforms are resisting calls by U.S. Treasury officials and others to suspend service to their customers in Russia. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said in a series of tweets last week that “ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline” after the ruble’s value plummeted as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russia. Shutting down Coinbase’s trading platform in Russia would hurt ordinary Russians, many of whom don’t support the war, he said.

“We are not preemptively banning all Russians from using Coinbase,” Armstrong tweeted. “We believe everyone deserves access to basic financial services unless the law says otherwise.”

By Khristopher J. Brooks

Some civilians evacuated as shelling pauses in a hard-hit Kyiv suburb

Ukrainian authorities managed to evacuate some civilians from the heavily shelled town of Irpin, just 10 miles from downtown Kyiv, without coming under fire on Monday.

Video showed Ukrainian police and soldiers helping elderly civilians board vans for evacuation a day after thousands of people, hoping to escape the town during a cease-fire agreed by Russian and Ukrainian officials, instead ran for shelter as shells continued falling. 

An image taken from video shows Ukrainian security forces helping an elderly woman toward a van for evacuation from the town of Irpin, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, March 7, 2022.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for breaking the Sunday truce, but despite national Ukrainian leaders rejecting a new cease-fire declared unilaterally by Russia on Monday — because most of the escape routes proposed by Moscow led into Russia or its ally Belarus — in Irpin, at least, there was quiet. 

Local officials were quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that about 2,000 civilians were evacuated on Monday. Russian forces were in control of about 30% of Irpin, but the rest of the town remained under Ukrainian control, they said.

By Tucker Reals

Pelosi says House “exploring” legislation to ban Russian oil and energy imports

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues in a letter on Sunday that the House is “currently exploring” a bill that would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the U.S. as part of efforts in Congress to cut Russia off from the global economy.

Pelosi last week said she supports a Russian oil ban, and Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that there is “strong bipartisan support” for such action.

“Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization,” the House speaker wrote. “We would also empower the Executive branch to raise tariffs on Russian imports.”

Pelosi said Congress also “intends to enact” this week on President Biden’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine as part of sweeping government funding legislation. The White House formally requested Congress approve the aid for Ukraine, as well as $22.5 billion for COVID-19 pandemic response, last week.

“Tragically, Russia continues its premeditated, unprovoked war against Ukraine: violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity, committing war crimes against civilians and engaging in disinformation about the purpose of their invasion,” she wrote. “The United States remains ironclad in our commitment to the Ukrainian people and in unity with our allies.”

By Melissa Quinn

Ukraine official describes civilian infrastructure hit by Russian shells, says Putin’s army only “good at killing civilians”

Just before he sat down with Russian officials for a third round of negotiations on Monday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called Vladimir Putin’s regime the “Barbarians” of our times for unleashing a barrage of artillery fire on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.

He said in a tweet that Russian shells had damaged or destroyed 202 schools, 34 hospitals and more than 1,500 residential buildings. 

Russian officials have insisted since Vladimir Putin ordered the “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24 that their forces are only hitting military targets, and they accuse Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” and “nationalists” of hiding behind civilian targets. But CBS News has witnessed first hand the shelling of civilian areas, and hundreds of videos have emerged showing apartment buildings hammered by shelling. 

Podolyak said more than 900 Ukrainian towns and villages had been “completely deprived of heating, water and electricity.

“The Russian army doesn’t know how to fight against other armies,” he said, “but it’s good at killing civilians.”

By Tucker Reals

Germany warns Russian energy imports “essential” to Europe amid talk of import ban on Russian oil

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz cautioned Monday against banning Russian oil and gas as part of Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, saying doing so could put Europe’s energy security at risk.

“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions,” Scholz said in a statement. “Supplying Europe with energy for heat generation, mobility, electricity supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way at the moment. It is therefore of essential importance for the provision of public services and the daily lives of our citizens.”

His warning came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a global boycott of all Russian products, including oil.

“If the invasion continues and Russia does not abandon its plans against Ukraine, then we need a new sanctions package,” Zelensky said in a video address, including “a boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products from Russia.”

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and its allies were engaged in a “very active discussion” about a potential blanket ban on the import of Russian oil and gas.


IAEA warns of “unprecedented danger of a nuclear accident” at Ukraine’s nuclear plants

The head of the U.N.’s global nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned Monday that “military operations at nuclear power facilities of Ukraine have caused unprecedented danger of a nuclear accident, risking the lives of people living in Ukraine and in neighboring countries, including Russia.”

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the IAEA’s Board of Governors the agency was still monitoring the huge nuclear plant seized by Russian forces late last week after a rocket or missile struck an administrative building on the compound, “causing a fire but no release of radiation.”

“It was a close call,” said Grossi, adding that “such a situation must not, under any circumstances, be repeated.”

A damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Enerhodar, Ukraine, seen in a handout photo released March 4, 2022, by the press service of National Nuclear Energy Generating Company.

He noted that Russian forces were in control of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant — the largest in all of Europe — and approving “technical decisions made by the Ukrainian operators” who have been largely deprived of communication with the outside world. 

Grossi said it was “not a safe way to run a nuclear power plant.”

“I am deeply concerned about this turn of events,” he stressed, reiterating the IAEA’s willingness to send a team into Ukraine to help secure that and other facilities. Russia seized the decommissioned Chernobyl plant last month, and its forces have reportedly encircled another facility in the south of Ukraine.

“We’re ready to deploy. We can, and are ready, to assist,” the IAEA chief said, adding that he was personally “willing to travel to Chernobyl, but it can be anywhere, as long as it facilitates this necessary and urgent action.”

By Tucker Reals

So-far fruitless Ukraine-Russia talks to resume for 3rd round, but Moscow vows to complete “demilitarization”

A top aide to Ukraine’s president confirmed Monday that he and a few other senior officials from Kyiv were set to meet a Russian delegation for a third round of direct peace talks. But with the Kremlin insisting that Russian forces will achieve their stated goal of the “demilitarization of Ukraine,” regardless of any peace process, there was little cause for optimism that the third round of talks would be any more successful than the previous two.

“They were told that all this can be stopped in a moment” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, referring to purported offers from Moscow to end the attack on Ukraine if Russia’s demands were met. He insisted that Russia wasn’t trying to claim any further Ukrainian territory, as it did with its 2014 invasion when Moscow seized Crimea. 

“We really are finishing the demilitarization of Ukraine. We will finish it,” Peskov said, reiterating the Putin regime’s demands that Ukraine commit to never joining the NATO alliance and that it “recognize that Crimea is Russian territory and that they need to recognize that [the eastern Ukrainian regions of] Donetsk and Lugansk are independent states.”

“And that’s it. It will stop in a moment,” Peskov said after listing demands that Ukraine has already ruled out on many occasions.

By Tucker Reals

Russian gymnast’s Ukraine invasion symbol called “shocking”

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who sported an insignia linked to his country’s military invasion of Ukraine on a medals podium, is facing disciplinary action for his “shocking” behavior on Sunday, the International Gymnastics Federation said.

Kuliak’s shirt had the letter “Z” prominently placed as he stood next to Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia, the gold medalist at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha.

The “Z” has been seen on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolize support for the invasion.

Kuliak had won the bronze medal on Saturday.

“The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar,” a statement from the ruling body said.


Russia claims Ukrainians preparing “provocation with possible radioactive contamination” in Kharkiv

Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Monday that Ukrainian forces were “preparing a provocation with possible radioactive contamination of the area near the city of Kharkiv.”

The Russian military suggested that Ukrainian “nationalists” had laid explosives around a reactor at an experimental nuclear facility at the Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology, with plans to blow it up and then blame Russian shelling for the explosion. The defense ministry’s claim came hours after Ukrainian security services said Russian shells had struck the research institute, but without any reports of damage to the reactor.  

“Foreign journalists arrived in Kharkiv on March 6 to record the consequences of the provocation, followed by accusations of the Russian Federation of creating an ecological catastrophe,” the Russian ministry was quoted as saying by the country’s state-controlled media.

Russia’s invading forces have caused increasing alarm by seizing control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s Zaporozhye facility, and the sealed-up Chernobyl plant that was hit by a devastating explosion and meltdown in 1986. The head of the U.N.’s global nuclear watchdog agency told CBS News on Sunday that Russia had since cut most communications between the staff still running the Zaporozhye facility and the outside world.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday insisted the plant had been taken over “to rule out the possible organizing of provocations by Ukrainian neo-Nazis or terrorists.”

U.S. and Ukrainian officials have warned for weeks, even before Russia invaded, of the Kremlin’s well-established proclivity for creating “false-flag” incidents to use as a pretext for military action.  

By Tucker Reals

China reaffirms commitment to “most important strategic partner” Russia “in the new era”

China’s Foreign Minister on Monday called Russia Beijing’s “most important strategic partner” amid its continued refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. Wang Yi said ties with Moscow constituted “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world.”

China has broken with the U.S., Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has said sanctions create new issues and threaten a political settlement of the conflict.

“No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era,” Wang told reporters at a news conference. “The friendship between the two peoples is iron clad.”

Much attention has been paid to a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on February 4, after which a joint statement was issued affirming “strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests.”

Russia endorsed China’s view of self-governing Taiwan as an “inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan,” while China backed Russia in opposing the further enlargement of NATO. Beijing says Washington is to blame for the conflict for failing to take Russia’s security concerns into consideration.

By Associated Press

Blinken visits nervous Baltic nations as Lithuania warns more action needed “to avoid the Third World War”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday assured Lithuania of NATO protection and American support as he began a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine. The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all NATO members and Blinken is aiming to reassure them of their security in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations.

“We are bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared,” Blinken said, stressing that the U.S. commitment to NATO’s mutual defense pact was “sacrosanct.”

“We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack,” he said. “No one should doubt our readiness, no one should doubt our resolve.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda stand as they meet at the “Presidentura” presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 7, 2022.
Olivier Douliery/Pool/REUTERS

“Unfortunately, the worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern for all of us and around the world,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told Blinken. “Russia’s reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to European security, the security of our alliance.”

Nauseda said that a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that “forward defense” was now needed. He predicted that “Putin will not stop in Ukraine if he will not be stopped.”

“It is our collective duty as a nation to help all Ukrainians with all means available,” said Nauseda. “By saying all, I mean, indeed all means all, if we want to avoid the Third World War. The choice is in our hands.”

By Associated Press

Ukrainian town says mayor killed by Russian forces while handing out aid

Russian forces have killed the mayor of Gostomel, a town just outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that is home to a strategic airport, city authorities said on Monday.

“The head of Gostomel, Yuri Illich Prylypko, died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick,” the city said on its Facebook page. Prylypko was shot dead along with two others, it said, without specifying when.

“No-one forced him to go under the occupiers’ bullets,” it said. “He died for his people, for Gostomel. He died a hero.”

Gostomel, northwest of Kyiv, is home to the strategic Antonov military airport, which was the site of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the first days of the war. 


Ukraine says Moscow’s proposal for civilians to flee into Russia or Belarus “not an acceptable option”

Russia announced a cease-fire starting Monday morning and the opening of humanitarian corridors in several areas, but the notion was swiftly rejected by Ukraine as it emerged that most of the evacuation routes Moscow was proposing would have led civilians not into government-held parts of Ukraine or across borders into European Union nations, but into Russia or its ally Belarus.

“This is not an acceptable option,” Deputy Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, making it clear that Ukrainian civilians “aren’t going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia.” 

U.K. government minister James Cleverly called Russia’s proposal “cynical beyond belief,” telling the BBC that “providing evacuation into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.”

By Tucker Reals

Russia limiting communications at nuclear facility, watchdog says

Ukrainian staff continue to operate the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, however, it is now under Russian control and they have shut down some external communication to the plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Sunday. The plant, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, was taken over Friday by Russian forces after shelling led to a fire at a training building on the site. 

According to the IAEA, Russian forces at the site “have switched off some mobile networks and the internet so that reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through the normal channels of communication.” Ukraine also reports that all Ukrainian activity at the plant, “including measures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units,” must now be approved by the Russian commander at the plant.

Russian forces have also taken control of a second nuclear power plant and are closing in on a third, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the U.S. Congress on Saturday. 

Ukraine ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the international community should step in and help Ukraine regain control of the nuclear sites from Russia. Markarova noted that the first nuclear plant the Russians seized was the infamous Chernobyl plant, which is “not operational,” but still poses a risk because “there is a lot of waste there and everything else.”

1.5 million Ukrainians have fled Russian invasion, U.N. refugee commissioner says

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, estimated Sunday that 1.5 million Ukrainians have left the country in the wake of Russia’s invasion, which he said is the fastest exodus of people in Europe since World War II.

“As of today, we’ve passed the terrible mark of 1.5 million refugees and this in 10 days, essentially from Ukraine into five neighboring countries,” he said. “If I think of past decades, I cannot think in Europe of a faster exodus of people, not since the end of the Second World War.”

Grandi said there are mostly women and children arriving from Ukraine, since men between the ages of 18 and 60 must remain to defend the country against Russia, as well as the elderly and disabled.

By Melissa Quinn

Russia snubs UN court hearings in case brought by Ukraine

Russia has snubbed a hearing at the United Nations’ top court into a legal bid by Kyiv to halt Moscow’s devastating invasion of Ukraine. A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the International Court of Justice was empty Monday morning as the hearing opened.

The International Court of Justice has scheduled two days of hearings into Ukraine’s request for its judges to order Russia to halt its invasion. Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations” launched Feb. 24. 

A decision is expected on the request within days, though it remains to be seen if Russia would abide by any order the court might issue.

By Associated Press

Judo federation strips titles from Putin and Russian oligarch

The International Judo Federation has removed the titles and jobs Vladimir Putin and a long-time Kremlin-supporting oligarch held at the organization. The announcement comes as Russia’s attack on Ukraine has killed hundreds of civilians and driven more than 1.5 million to flee into neighboring nations.

“The International Judo Federation announces that Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all positions held in the International Judo Federation,” the Budapest-based governing body said in a statement late Sunday.

Putin’s honorary presidency of the IJF was suspended last week with the organization citing “the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine.”

In this pool photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, attends a training session with the Russian national judo team at the Yug-Sport Training Center in Sochi, Russia.
Mikhail Klimentyev / AP

The Russian president is an avid judoka and attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics. The 69-year-old is a judo black belt and co-authored a book titled “Judo: History, Theory, Practice.”


Blinken says NATO countries have “green light” to send fighter jets to Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that NATO members have the go-ahead to send fighter jets to Ukraine as the U.S. and allies continue their efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

“That gets a green-light,” Blinken said in an interview with “Face the Nation” when asked whether the Polish government, a member of NATO, could send fighter planes to Ukraine. “In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they are handing over to the Ukrainians?” 

A White House spokesperson told CBS News the Biden administration is evaluating the capabilities it could provide to backfill jets to Poland if it decided to transfer planes to Ukraine but noted there are several questions that arise from a decision to do so, including how the jets could be transferred from Poland to Ukraine.

By Melissa Quinn

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