Russia-Ukraine conflict updates: Biden unveils more sanctions after Russia takes Chernobyl

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday by land, air and sea after weeks of tense buildup and efforts from global leaders to find a diplomatic solution.


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1 years ago / 7:23 PM EST

Zelenskyy orders full military mobilization to counter Russia

Zelenskyy said he was ordering a full mobilization of the Ukraine armed forces to counter Russia's attacks.

The mobilization will be carried out within 90 days from the date of entry into force, he said in a statement.

Zelenskyy also confirmed that 137 people have been killed and that 316 have been injured thus far since the attacks began Thursday.

1 years ago / 7:27 PM EST

Why would Russia want to take Chernobyl?

Few places conjure more foreboding than Chernobyl, the site of the deadly 1986 nuclear disaster. So alarm bells rang in the West when Russian forces seized the decommissioned power plant in the early hours of their invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

Why would Russia make a radioactive wasteland one of its very first targets in Ukraine?

While the full answer may be known only to top officials in Moscow, the site happens to lie along one of the most direct paths to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

“The location is important because of where it sits,” retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said in an interview. "If Russian forces were attacking Kyiv from the north, Chernobyl is right there on the way, almost in the way."

Chernobyl is less than 10 miles from Ukraine's border with Belarus, a Russian ally where Moscow has been massing troops in preparation for its attack on Ukraine. From there, it's a relatively straight shot of about 80 miles south to Kyiv.

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1 years ago / 6:22 PM EST
1 years ago / 7:30 PM EST

Russia sanctions are a ‘big deal,’ experts say. But effects could take years.

The flurry of sanctions the U.S. announced this week against Russia are some of the hardest-hitting that Moscow has ever faced, but the slow pain they inflict may not be enough to deter Putin from escalating his invasion of Ukraine, experts said.

Biden and several U.S. allies, including the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan, have vowed to review further restrictions on Moscow as punishment for the invasion.

The sanctions that have already been announced are significant in size and scope, said former Treasury and State Department officials who handled U.S. sanctions in the past, but the longtime U.S. reliance on the national security tool has left the U.S. with few other options if Putin and Russia do not respond.

Nevertheless, the Russian economy is already feeling the effects of war, and the sanctions could over time further cause the Russian stock market to falter, deflate the value of the ruble — which hit an all-time low Thursday — and make doing business in Russia increasingly difficult.

“We’re counting a lot on sanctions, and the ones the Biden administration have put together are really pretty tough,” said Daniel Fried, a longtime diplomat and former ambassador to Poland who helped lead the West’s 2014 response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine as the State Department coordinator for sanctions policy. He called the recent sanctions "a big deal." 

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1 years ago / 7:32 PM EST

Russia says it will support banks under sanctions

Russia said its central bank will support banks affected by the sanctions the U.S. and other countries imposed this week.

Leaders in Europe, Canada and the U.S. announced Thursday that they are committed to issuing severe economic sanctions following Putin's decision to attack Ukraine. Biden took aim at Putin by mounting pressure through Russia's economy, including the two largest majority state-owned institutions, Sberbank and VTB.

Russia issued a statement through its central bank assuring that the state has a plan to remain functioning regardless of the sanctions. 

"All operations of banks in rubles will be carried out, and the corresponding services will be provided to all customers as usual," the statement said. "All customer funds in foreign currencies are also held and can be withdrawn in the account currency. The Bank of Russia is ready to support banks with funds in rubles and foreign currency." 

A majority of the bank's balance at each bank is measured in rubles, the statement insists, and "maintain a high margin of stability."