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Putin's advisors 'too afraid to tell him the truth'

U.S. and Ukrainian officials have expressed skepticism over claims from Russia that it would "drastically" reduce military operations near Kyiv.

Coverage on this live blog has ended, please click here for the latest developments.

The White House has pledged an additional $500 million in direct aid for Ukraine as the Russian invasion grinds on.

President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a 55-minute call Wednesday that the additional aid was on its way.

Meanwhile, Zelenskyy said that while there were "positive" signals from ongoing negotiations, they did not "drown out the ruptures of Russian shells."

On Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency said the number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine has reached more than 4 million, with over 2.3 million seeking refuge in neighboring Poland.

The Pentagon says that it has seen some recent Russian forces near Kyiv move north or into Belarus, but that it sees as an attempt by Russia to resupply, refit and then reposition the troops.

Declassified U.S. intelligence claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin's senior advisors are "too afraid to tell him the truth" about Russia's battlefield failures.

See full coverage here.

609d ago / 4:35 AM UTC

British intelligence director: Putin's 'Plan B' is more attacks on civilians

The head of British intelligence agency GCHQ says it appears Russian President Vladimir Putin "has massively misjudged the situation" in Ukraine, but that his backup plan is more attacks on civilian areas.

"We’re now seeing Putin trying to follow through on his plan. But it is failing. And his Plan B has been more barbarity against civilians and cities," GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said Thursday.

Fleming also said in a speech in Australia that "it increasingly looks like Putin has massively misjudged the situation" — both the impact of punishing sanctions and the ability of his military.

"We’ve seen Russian soldiers — short of weapons and morale — refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft," Fleming said, according to a copy of the speech posted online by GCHQ.

The U.S. has assessed that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, citing indiscriminate attacks and attacks on civilian areas.

609d ago / 3:56 AM UTC
609d ago / 2:53 AM UTC

Biden meets with parents of Trevor Reed, ex-Marine 'wrongfully detained' in Russia

President Joe Biden met Wednesday with the parents of Trevor Reed, a former Marine who the White House said is being wrongfully detained in Russia on assault charges.

In a statement, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden “reiterated his commitment” to continue pushing for the release of Reed and other Americans who she said are being wrongfully held in the country. 

“We are grateful for their partnership and feedback. We will continue to work to ensure we are communicating and sharing information in a way useful to these families,” Psaki said.

Joey and Paula Reed, of Granbury, Texas, who said their son is innocent of the 2019 charges, publicly pushed the administration to help bring their son home.

They met with the president Wednesday after they traveled to Washington this week and initially lobbied him from afar, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported. They stood on the route of Biden’s motorcade hoping it would stop — it didn’t — and they stood near the White House holding a sign bearing their son’s name.

The couple eventually met with Biden and other officials in the Oval Office for more than a half-hour, the station reported. 

“He was very gracious,” Paula Reed told the station. “He gave us more time than we thought he would give us, but we said we would keep the conversation private.”

Another former Marine, Paul Whalen, was also sentenced to 16 years in a Russian prison in 2020 after he was convicted of spying. His family has said he is innocent and that he was in the country for a wedding.

610d ago / 2:02 AM UTC

Biden said to be weighing plan to release 1 million barrels of oil for 6 months


The Biden administration is weighing a plan to release about 1 million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for about six months, totaling as many as 180 million barrels, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

An announcement could come as soon as Thursday. President Joe Biden is expected to deliver remarks about the administration's "actions to reduce the impact of Putin's price hike on energy prices and lower gas prices at the pump for American families."

Oil prices surged by 3 percent Wednesday, to $113 per barrel, as investors worried about new Western sanctions against Moscow and as Russian forces continued to bomb the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

Russia promised Tuesday to scale down operations around Kyiv in what the West dismissed as a ploy to regroup by invaders suffering heavy losses.

"After being fooled once, many traders that sold contracts in response to the peace talks are unlikely to make the same mistake the next time a Russia-Ukraine meeting is followed by optimistic comments," said Jim Ritterbusch, the president of Ritterbusch and Associates, an oil trading and advisory firm in Galena, Illinois.

610d ago / 1:38 AM UTC

Zelenskyy recalls ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has recalled Ukraine’s ambassadors to Georgia and Morocco, suggesting they hadn’t done enough to persuade those countries to support Ukraine and punish Russia for the invasion.

“With all due respect, if there won’t be weapons, won’t be sanctions, won’t be restrictions for Russian business, then please look for other work,” Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation Wednesday. “I am waiting for concrete results in the coming days from the work of our representatives in Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.”

Zelenskyy also said he was expecting results from Ukraine’s military attaches in embassies abroad.

He said “the diplomatic front is one of the key fronts” in Ukraine’s battle to win the war against Russia.

610d ago / 12:52 AM UTC
610d ago / 12:36 AM UTC

Mariupol deputy mayor: 150,000 in city 'living underground' amid attacks

The deputy mayor of the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol said Wednesday that about 150,000 residents remain there and are "living underground" in shelters amid continued Russian attacks.

"The only way to survive is to live underground," Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov said in an interview with MSNBC.

Orlov said people are staying in bomb shelters and suffering from lack of food and water.

He said that the city "is in full, total, absolute blockade" by Russian forces and that humanitarian help is not being allowed to enter. 

Among the places attacked in Mariupol is a maternity hospital and a theater where people were taking shelter. The attacks have prompted accusations that Russian forces are committing war crimes. Satellite images published Tuesday appeared to show widespread devastation of residential areas.

610d ago / 12:09 AM UTC
610d ago / 11:49 PM UTC

Ukrainian negotiator says talks to resume Friday


Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia said Ukraine and Russia will resume talks Friday, as fighting continued Wednesday more than a month after Russia invaded.

Arakhamia said in an interview on national television that Russia's first offer amounted to what he called a "capitulation agreement."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday that a negotiation process is underway but that "but these are still words, so far no specifics."

Zelenskyy said Russian troops are accumulating for new attacks on the Donbas area, which is in eastern Ukraine. He pledged that "we will fight for every inch of our land, for every one of our people."

610d ago / 9:18 PM UTC

Britain announces new legal powers prohibiting U.K. maintenance on planes, ships belonging to Russian oligarchs

LONDON — Britain’s government has announced new legal powers prohibiting U.K. maintenance on planes and ships belonging to Russian oligarchs. The Foreign Office said Wednesday the new sanctions have been used immediately against billionaire oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler and Oleg Tinkov, founder of Tinkoff bank.

Shvidler, who’s already sanctioned over his business links to Roman Abramovich, has had two private jets seized.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new law adds to Britain’s powers to “deprive oligarchs’ access to their luxury toys.”

British authorities on Tuesday seized a Russian-owned superyacht valued at $38 million. They did not identify the owner of the vessel, only saying the billionaire was connected to President Vladimir Putin.

The government also said that finance, trade and shipping sanctions imposed on Crimea have been expanded to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

610d ago / 8:30 PM UTC

Kyiv offers psychological assistance to families sheltering in metro stations

The local government in Kyiv, Ukraine, announced Wednesday that it is offering "psychological assistance" to families sheltering in the metro stations.

"Therapists are holding private and group sessions to help fight the emotional consequences of the crisis and regain control of their lives," an update posted to the city's website read, adding, "Kyivans who require psychological support are asked to use all the resources the capital is providing for these purposes."

Kyiv advertised its free 24/7 telephone hotline and said psychologists can put residents in contact with necessary social support and medical assistance services.

The city's curfew remains in place every night from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., the update stated.

The Kyiv City Council also held its second meeting since the beginning of the Russian invasion, according to the update. During the meeting, the council did not conduct planned votes on measures to promote local businesses because "under martial law and the challenging conditions facing the city, the economy must work."

610d ago / 7:58 PM UTC

Former Ukrainian president condemns Putin's activity in Ukraine, calls for further sanctions

Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's activity in Ukraine on MSNBC on Wednesday and called for the U.S. to impose further sanctions, likening the Russian invasions in Crimea and Donbas to having the same credibility as invading Alaska.

"Russia has absolutely the same zero reason to demand Crimea or Donbas as Alaska. If we allow Putin to speak ultimatum language, the war never ended and Putin never stop," Poroshenko said.

Poroshenko said he can hear artillery fire from his location on the northern border of Kyiv, even as peace talks between Russia and Ukraine continue and Putin claims de-escalation.

"I'm the president who had a negotiation with Putin for five years. He never keep his words," Poroshenko said, adding, "The territorial integrity of Ukraine cannot be the part of any compromise."

Poroshenko called for the U.S. to restart a lend-lease program for Ukraine and to begin a "second wave" of sanctions and embargoes to encourage Russia to stop the attacks.

"With this situation, I'm absolutely confident that Putin cannot keep going, and Russian troops will be withdrawn from Ukrainian territory," he added.

610d ago / 7:29 PM UTC

Russia is using land mines, Human Rights Watch says

Russian forces fighting in Ukraine have used banned antipersonnel mines that "can indiscriminately kill and maim people,” a report from Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. 

The recently developed POM-3 land mines, banned under international treaties, are “equipped with a seismic sensor to detect an approaching person and eject an explosive charge into the air,” the report said. 

It added that they were discovered in Kharkiv by Ukrainian ordnance disposal technicians on Monday. 

Russia is “known to possess these newly deployed land mines, which can indiscriminately kill and maim people” within a range of about 53 feet, the report said. “Ukraine does not possess this type of land mine or its delivery system,” it added. 

“Countries around the world should forcefully condemn Russia’s use of banned antipersonnel land mines in Ukraine,” Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch's arms division, said in a statement. “These weapons do not differentiate between combatants and civilians and leave a deadly legacy for years to come.”

610d ago / 7:28 PM UTC
610d ago / 7:00 PM UTC

Russian military forces are redeploying throughout Ukraine

The Ukrainian government said Wednesday that Russian military forces are redeploying throughout the country.

Some troops are spreading through eastern Ukraine, while others are being redeployed to Kyiv and Chernihiv, said Oleksii Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

“Some of them are appearing in the Kharkiv direction and in the Donetsk direction. There, the enemy is now strengthening its groups in order to try to increase the pressure on our boys and girls who are defending our country in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” Danilov said.

He said Russia is gathering mercenaries from around the world to help in its fight against Ukraine.

610d ago / 6:27 PM UTC

Kirby: 'Way too soon' to see Russian withdrawal from Kyiv as sign of de-escalation

Russia's removal of troops from Kyiv has been characterized by its government as a withdrawal, but Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the move may instead be a reallocation of troops to focus on other areas. 

In an interview Wednesday with MSNBC, Kirby said it is "way too soon" to see the removal as a sign of de-escalation, even amid negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. He described those talks as productive even though no official steps have been taken. 

Kirby also said Pentagon leaders have been attempting to contact Russia with little success. 

"We have made numerous attempts to reach out to our counterparts in the Russian military, because we believe right now is the most important time for there to be that kind of communication," Kirby said. "But the Russians have not answered."

610d ago / 6:01 PM UTC

Germany says companies can buy gas with euros

The German government says it has received assurances from Russia that European companies won’t have to pay for Russian gas supplies in rubles.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s office said he spoke by phone Wednesday afternoon with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had requested the call, about the issue.

During the call Putin said he planned to issue a law requiring gas supplies to be paid in rubles from April 1, Scholz’s office said.

“At the same time Putin emphasized during the conversation that there would be no change for European contractual partners,” who would continue to pay only in euros to Gazprom Bank, it said.

The bank, which is not currently subject to sanctions, would convert the payments to rubles, Scholz’s office added.

It noted that the German chancellor did not agree to the procedure but instead requested written information to understand it better.

610d ago / 5:29 PM UTC

Pentagon sees strategy, not withdrawal, in Russia's troop moves

The Pentagon said Wednesday that over the last 24 hours it has seen some Russian troops in the areas around Kyiv moving north toward or into Belarus.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the U.S. does not view this as a withdrawal, but as an attempt by Russia to resupply, refit and then reposition the troops.

“We don’t know exactly where these troops are going to go,” he said.

But he noted that Russia has talked about prioritizing the Donbas region. Kirby was speaking on CNN and Fox Business.

Kirby also said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have continued to try to speak with their Russian counterparts but they have “not answered and they have not replied with a willingness to do so.”

610d ago / 5:01 PM UTC

South Ossetia plans to join Russian Federation

The Republic of South Ossetia on Wednesday announced its intention to join Russia.

“I believe that unity with Russia is our strategic goal. Our way. The aspiration of the people. And we will move along this path. We will take the appropriate legal steps in the near future,” said Anatoly Bibilov, the president of the breakaway state. 

“The Ossetian people are divided, and their historical and strategic goal is unification within one state. This state is the Russian Federation.”

Bibilov said South Ossetia missed out on its chance to become a part of Russia in 2014 and that he won’t allow it to happen again.

610d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Biden tells Zelenskyy U.S. plans to provide $500 million in direct aid to Ukraine

President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in their phone call Wednesday that the U.S. plans to provide $500 million in direct budgetary aid to the Ukrainian government. 

"The leaders discussed how the United States is working around the clock to fulfill the main security assistance requests by Ukraine, the critical effects those weapons have had on the conflict, and continued efforts by the United States with allies and partners to identify additional capabilities to help the Ukrainian military defend its country," the White House said in a readout of their conversation. 

Biden also reviewed additional sanctions and humanitarian assistance the U.S. announced last week, the White House said. Zelenskyy updated Biden about the status of negotiations with Russia, it added. 

Zelenskyy tweeted separately that they spoke for an hour. He said: "Shared assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. Talked about specific defensive support, a new package of enhanced sanctions, macro-financial and humanitarian aid."

610d ago / 4:29 PM UTC

Boris Johnson says West shouldn’t lift Russian sanctions until all Moscow troops out of Ukraine

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Western nations shouldn’t lift sanctions on Russia until all Moscow’s troops have left Ukraine.

Johnson said a cease fire would not be enough, and the G-7 should “intensify sanctions with a rolling program until every single one of (President Vladimir Putin’s) troops is out of Ukraine.”

Speaking to a committee of British lawmakers on Wednesday, Johnson also said Britain was discussing “going up a gear” in support to help Ukraine defend itself. He said sending armored personnel carriers was something the U.K. was “looking at.”

The U.K. has sent anti-tank weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine but wants to avoid anything that could be seen as escalating the conflict.

610d ago / 4:09 PM UTC
610d ago / 3:59 PM UTC

U.S. Air Force official: 'There can be no question about our commitment to the Ukrainian people'

U.S. Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones reiterated the U.S.'s commitment to Ukraine and praised the alliance that formed around the country Wednesday on "Morning Joe." 

"There can be no question about our commitment to the Ukrainian people. But we are looking to make sure that we're making measured steps in concert with our allies in the interests of long-term stability in the region," Ortiz Jones said.

Asked by MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski about the potential for implementing a no-fly zone, Ortiz Jones said President Joe Biden has been "very clear" about the policy against implementing one.

Ortiz Jones said the administration has provided $2 billion in security assistance since the beginning of the conflict, $1 billion of it over "the last couple of weeks."

"We are encouraged by the way in which the alliance has really rallied. The alliance has never been stronger, and we continue to look for ways to make sure that we're supporting Ukraine's efforts to defend itself ... and its territorial integrity," Ortiz Jones said.

610d ago / 3:30 PM UTC

Ukrainian foreign minister says negotiations continue amid Russian attacks

Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine continue, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday, but Russian attacks have not ceased. 

Kuleba said Ukrainian resistance and international support have become pivotal points of leverage in the discussions and called for continued measures against Russia. 

"It is crucial that partners continue to provide Ukraine with more arms and apply more sanctions on Russia," Kuleba tweeted. "The stronger Ukraine is, the better agreement we can achieve for the sake of Ukraine’s and Europe’s security."

610d ago / 3:07 PM UTC

610d ago / 3:01 PM UTC

U.S. official: Putin and Russian Defense Ministry have 'persistent tension'


A U.S. official provided NBC News with declassified intelligence claiming that there is "persistent tension" between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian of Defense, or MOD, allegedly because Putin's senior advisers are "too afraid to tell him the truth" about Russia's battlefield failures. 

“We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth," the official said.

The official did not provide evidence for the claims, citing a need to protect sources and methods.

The official said Putin was unaware that the Russian military had used and lost conscripted soldiers in Ukraine, saying the lack of information showed "a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president."

“We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military. There is now persistent tension between Putin and the MOD, stemming from Putin’s mistrust in MOD leadership," the official added.

The Biden administration shared the declassified information after weeks of accusations from U.S. officials that Putin had been isolated, although no evidence had been provided.

Putin had a tense exchange on camera last month in which he told his chief of foreign intelligence service to "speak plainly!" and emphasized this month in televised remarks that Russia would not use conscripted soldiers in Ukraine.

 "I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists," Putin said.

610d ago / 2:40 PM UTC

Biden to speak to Zelenskyy Wednesday morning

President Biden is expected to speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Wednesday around 10:45 a.m., according to the White House press office. 

The two leaders are planning to "discuss our continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression," the White House said.

610d ago / 2:34 PM UTC

Irpin mayor says 3,000 remain in city amid constant shelling

Around 3,000 people remain in Irpin, which is being shelled by Russian forces and is under the control of the Ukrainian armed forces, the city's mayor said Wednesday. 

Nearly half of the city has been destroyed. Local authorities estimate that up to 300 civilians and up to 50 servicemen have been killed by the Russian army.

Ukrainian forces are implementing evacuation efforts; around 150 people were removed from the city Wednesday. 

610d ago / 2:10 PM UTC

Ukraine negotiator says peace talks focused on security guarantees


Russian and Ukrainian negotiators at peace talks in Istanbul discussed security guarantees for Kyiv that would be legally secured by third-party countries, Ukrainian negotiator and presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Wednesday.

“It seems important to me that if we sign an agreement on security guarantees, Ukraine will have not only its own powerful army, but also an additional security circuit at the expense of allied countries that will stand side by side with us,” he said in comments to reporters.

He did not specify which countries would give the guarantee. Russian forces would need to withdraw to their positions held Feb. 23, before the invasion, and only then would Ukraine put it up in a referendum, he said.  

Russia is no longer giving Ukraine ultimatums in the talks, he said, pointing to its stalled military campaign.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov however, suggested Wednesday that there were no significant advances at the talks.

“We cannot yet state anything promising and any breakthroughs,” he said during his daily media briefing. “There is still a very extensive work to be done.”

610d ago / 2:05 PM UTC

Kremlin says it 'cannot yet state' any breakthroughs in peace talks

The Kremlin has said it "cannot yet state" whether "anything promising and any breakthroughs" have come from peace talks with Ukrainian counterparts in Istanbul this week. 

In a daily briefing Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was "positive" that the Ukrainian side had "begun to formulate and put on paper what they propose." 

"As for the rest," he said, "we cannot yet state anything promising and any breakthroughs." He said there was still "very extensive work to be done." 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Wednesday that Kyiv had improved its negotiating position with Moscow from where it stood even before the start of the war. 

“Serious success has been achieved,” he said in a post on Facebook early Wednesday. “We improved our position in all respects,” he added, pointing to Russia's military difficulties in Ukraine as the reason for the success. 

610d ago / 1:33 PM UTC

Russia accused of firing at Red Cross building in Mariupol

Ukrainian ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova accused Russian forces of taking aim at a building "of the International Committee of the Red Cross" in the besieged port city of Mariupol Wednesday. 

"Enemy aircraft and artillery fired on a building marked with a red cross on a white background," Denisova said in a Telegram post. She said there was no information on any potential victims. 

NBC News was unable to verify the claim.

In a statement, ICRC spokesperson Caitlin Kelly said the ICRC could confirm that an image purported to portray the damage of the strike did depict the ICRC warehouse in Mariupol.

However, Kelly said that because the ICRC did not have a team on the ground, it could not provide any other information, including information on potential casualties or damage. 

The ICRC spokesperson said "all aid supplies" in the warehouse had already been distributed. 

610d ago / 1:26 PM UTC

At least 2 million children have been forced to flee Ukraine, UNICEF says

At least 2 million children have now been forced to flee Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February, UNICEF has said.

“The situation inside Ukraine is spiraling,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement Wednesday. “As the number of children fleeing their homes continues to climb, we must remember that every single one of them needs protection, education, safety and support.”  

According to UNICEF and the United Nations refugee agency, children make up half of all refugees from the war in Ukraine, with the UNHCR saying Wednesday more than 4 million people have now fled the country since the war began.

More than 1.1 million children have so far arrived in Poland, with hundreds of thousands of others making their way to Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, among other nations, according to UNICEF. 

The agency reiterated its warning "of the heightened risk of trafficking and exploitation" in the midst of the crisis. It said it was working with governments, as well as with other agencies and other groups to introduce additional measures to keep children safe, including strengthened child protection screenings at border crossings. 

610d ago / 1:06 PM UTC

Putin 'being misinformed' by advisers who are afraid to tell him the truth, U.S. official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "being misinformed" by advisers about "how badly the Russian military is performing," a U.S. official has told NBC News.

“Putin didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president,” the official said. “We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth.”

The move by the administration to share this information comes after weeks of accusations by U.S. officials that Putin was increasingly isolated — even from his own top advisers, though no evidence has been provided.

Last month, Putin had a tense exchange, on camera, with the head of Russia’s spy service during a security meeting about the disputed areas in eastern Ukraine. Putin repeatedly interrupted Sergei Naryshkin, chief of the foreign intelligence service, and told him to “Speak plainly!”

Earlier this month, in a televised message to mark International Women’s Day, Putin claimed Russia will not use any conscript soldiers in Ukraine: "I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists.”

610d ago / 12:59 PM UTC

Ukraine to discuss 'military-technical' cooperation with Turkey, negotiator says


The Ukrainian delegation that held peace talks with Russia in Istanbul this week is staying behind for discussions on "military-technical" cooperation with Turkey, a member of the negotiating team said. 

"The Russian delegation left Turkey. Members of the Ukrainian delegation continue their work," negotiator David Arakhamia said on Telegram. 

He said meetings with high-ranking Turkish officials were scheduled for Wednesday to discuss military-technical cooperation. After that, he said members of the delegation would return to Ukraine.

Turkey, a NATO member that shares a maritime border with both Russia and Ukraine, has played an intermediary role between the two countries since Russia launched its invasion. 

610d ago / 12:42 PM UTC

Women walk Wednesday in front of a theater in central Moscow adorned with the letter "Z" made of a huge black and orange St. George's ribbon, a symbol of support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Women walk in front of a theatre adorned with the letter Z formed by a huge Russia's patriotic black and orange Saint George's ribbon in central Moscow on Wednesday.
Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP - Getty Images
610d ago / 12:23 PM UTC

China and Russia 'more determined' to develop bilateral ties, Chinese foreign minister says


China and Russia are "more determined" to develop bilateral ties and boost cooperation, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday following a meeting in Tunxi in east China's Anhui Province, with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. 

Wang said bilateral ties had withstood new tests, but had maintained the "correct" course for development. He also reaffirmed China's support for continued peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. 

In opening remarks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said Russia was "interested in ensuring the sustainable and consistent development of our relations with the People’s Republic of China."

 "We are living through a serious stage in the history of international relations," Lavrov said, according to the Russian foreign ministry. "We will move towards a multipolar, equitable and democratic world order with you and other like-minded nations," he added. 

Lavrov was expected to take part in two multinational meetings on Afghanistan along with representatives from Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

610d ago / 11:48 AM UTC

Russian forces target homes, infrastructure on outskirts of Kyiv, officials say


Russian forces have struck more than 30 residential buildings and pieces of infrastructure in the Kyiv region over the past 24 hours, the Kyiv Regional State Administration said on Telegram.

The strikes came despite statements by Moscow that it would scale down military operations around Kyiv and in the northern city of Chernihiv.

The shelling took place mainly in towns northwest and west of the capital, including in Hostomel, Bucha and Makariv, according to the region’s post.

"The night passed relatively calmly, to the sounds of sirens and the sound of gunfire from battles around the city, but there was no shelling in the city itself," Kyiv Deputy Mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said on Ukrainian TV, according to Reuters.

Earlier, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on TV that Russia is transferring its forces from Kyiv and the north of Ukraine to the east and near the besieged southern port city of Mariupol. 

610d ago / 11:40 AM UTC

Nearly half of Ukraine’s population worried about finding enough to eat, U.N. agency says

According to the World Food Program, 45 percent of Ukraine’s population is worried about finding enough food to eat, with 1 in 5 reducing the size and number of their own meals to ensure their children can eat.

“We’re talking about a catastrophe on top of a catastrophe,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley told the U.N. on Tuesday. “It’s not just decimating Ukraine and the region. It will have a global impact beyond anything we’ve seen since World War II,” he said.

The WFP is providing cash assistance, freshly baked bread, ready-to-eat food across the country, it said in a statement Wednesday. The conflict in Ukraine is driving food prices high across the globe which “further limit access to food for millions of people,” it said.

“In a country which used to grow food for 400 million people around the world, one person in five now reports having to reduce the size and number of their meals while adults skip meals so their children can eat,” it said. The WFP said it required $590 million to assist millions of people affected by the crisis. 

610d ago / 11:16 AM UTC

12 dead in strike on Mykolaiv regional government building


The death toll in a strike Tuesday morning that hit a regional government building in Mykolaiv has risen to 12, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine has said. 

In a Telegram post Wednesday, the emergency service said rescue efforts were still underway.

It said the bodies of a dozen victims had so far been pulled out of the rubble. At least 33 people were also injured, with 18 rescued, the emergency service said.

On Tuesday, the regional governor, ​​Vitaliy Kim, said on Telegram that his personal office was destroyed in the attack. He said most people appeared to have survived the assault, however. 

610d ago / 10:54 AM UTC

U.S., U.K., Germany, Mexico, Russia send top officials to India

India is gearing up for a week of high-level individual visits by top officials from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Russia.

U.S. deputy national security adviser Daleep Singh, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, German foreign and security policy adviser Jens Plötner will all meet Indian officials this week in New Delhi.

Singh, who’s traveling Wednesday and Thursday, will “consult closely with counterparts on the consequences of Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine and mitigating its impact on the global economy,” National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement Tuesday.

While no joint meetings between the delegations have been announced, Ukraine is expected to remain the top agenda as New Delhi faces monumental pressure from the West over its continued relationship with Moscow.

610d ago / 10:38 AM UTC

U.N. names 3 experts to probe possible war crimes in Ukraine

The United Nations named three human rights experts Wednesday to investigate possible war crimes in Ukraine, where Russia has been accused of indiscriminate bombardment of civilians.

The independent panel, led by Erik Mose of Norway, will probe all accusations of rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law "in the context of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation," a statement said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has created the commission of inquiry for one year at the request of Ukraine and allies including the European Union, Britain and the United States. 

The panel will interview witnesses and collect forensic material for any future legal proceedings. It is to report initial findings in September.

Mose is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and a former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda who also served as a judge on Norway's Supreme Court. Other panel members are Jasminka Dzumhur, the human rights ombudsperson of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Pablo de Greiff, of Colombia, who was the first U.N. justice investigator.

610d ago / 10:22 AM UTC

Russia redeploying troops from Kyiv to east and south, presidential adviser says


Russia is transferring its forces from Kyiv and the north of Ukraine to the east and near the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said.

Moscow made the move so its forces could have a “qualitative and quantitative” advantage and encircle Ukrainian troops, he said.

Russia's deputy defense minister said Tuesday that Moscow would scale back its military presence near Kyiv and Chernihiv.

“There is very heavy fighting there now,” Arestovych said on Ukrainian TV of the eastern regions, adding that there was also fighting in Mariupol, “where the city is half captured and there are heavy street fights happening.”

For weeks, Russian forces have surrounded Mariupol, causing widespread destruction in residential areas and leaving residents in a grave humanitarian situation.

610d ago / 9:57 AM UTC

Germany triggers 'early warning' of possible gas supply emergency


Germany declared an "early warning" Wednesday that it could be heading toward a gas supply emergency amid demands from Russia that it be paid for energy supplies in rubles. 

Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck triggered the "early warning," saying the measure was designed to prepare for a possible disruption or stoppage of natural gas flows from Russia. Under Germany's current gas emergency plan, the early warning level is the first of three stages. 

Habeck said supplies were safeguarded for the time being and that Germany was closely monitoring supply flows with market operators. 

"Nevertheless, we must increase precautionary measures to be prepared for an escalation on the part of Russia," he said. The economy minister said that "with the declaration of the early warning level, a crisis team has convened." 

It comes after Russia demanded that Germany and other nations pay for energy supplies in rubles as Moscow contends with the economic impacts of Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. 

610d ago / 9:44 AM UTC

610d ago / 9:37 AM UTC

'Nothing that happens here will be unnoticed,' IAEA chief says on visit to Ukrainian nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi promised technical assistance to help prevent the possibility of a "nuclear accident" as he met with government officials and staff at a power plant in Ukraine Wednesday.

“We are ready to support you in whatever way and form we can that nothing that happens here will be unnoticed,” he told staff at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant based near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province. "Because the IAEA will be here to support and to say whenever there is a problem." 

In a separate Twitter post, Grossi, who reached Ukraine on Tuesday, wrote that the IAEA’s on-site presence would help prevent “the danger of a nuclear accident” that could have severe public health and environmental consequences in and beyond Ukraine.

610d ago / 9:24 AM UTC

Families flee Ukraine with beloved pets in tow

NBC News saw dozens of families at border crossings and in train stations in southeastern Poland, carrying crates with dogs, cats and other pets with them from Ukraine.

Many said they could not bear leaving them behind because they are not just pets, but family members, and would be in danger in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the United Nations refugee agency said the number of people fleeing Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion had reached more than 4 million, with more than 2.3 million fleeing to neighboring Poland. 

Over 3.9 million people have fled Ukraine since the war started on February 24
Jacobia Dahm for NBC News
610d ago / 9:14 AM UTC

Ukraine has achieved 'serious success' in negotiations, presidential adviser says


Kyiv has improved its negotiating position with Moscow from where it stood even before the start of the war in February, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

“Serious success has been achieved,” he said in a post on Facebook early Wednesday. “We improved our position in all respects,” he added.

He pointed to Russia’s military struggles in Ukraine as the reason for the success in the negotiations. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators met Tuesday in Istanbul for a round of peace talks, and Moscow said that it would scale back its military presence near Kyiv.

Arestovych warned however, that despite Ukraine’s success at the negotiating table, the war was not over.

“Negotiations will in no way slow down the war and will not cancel it,” he said. “This is a separate line that prepares a future peace agreement because any war, even a hundred-year war, ends with a peace agreement.”

610d ago / 9:01 AM UTC

Number of refugees who have fled Ukraine surpasses 4 million, UNHCR says

The number of refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine has reached more than 4 million, the United Nations refugee agency has said. 

In an update Wednesday morning, the UNHCR said at least 4,019,287 have fled the country since Russia launched its invasion into Ukraine. 

More than half of those who have fled, over 2.3 million, have sought refuge in neighboring Poland. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others have fled to Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Slovakia.

More than 300,000 people have also ended up in Russia, while more than 10,000 have arrived in Belarus. 

A number of other nations have also taken in refugees fleeing the crisis, with Germany, Ireland and the U.K. among them. 

610d ago / 8:31 AM UTC

Russia strikes Chernihiv after saying it would scale down activity, governor says


Russian forces shelled the northern city of Chernihiv “the whole night,” the governor of the region said on Telegram Wednesday.

The shelling came less than a day after Russia said that it would scale down its military activity near the capital Kyiv and Chernihiv.

“The enemy demonstrated a ‘decrease in activity’ in the Chernihiv region by striking Nizhyn, including by air, and spent the whole night hitting Chernihiv,” regional governor Viasheslav Chaus said in a post on Telegram. “In fact, the enemy roamed Chernihiv all night.”

Since the early stages of the war, Chernihiv has came under heavy assault from Russian forces, who have also encircled the city. Their military progress however, had largely stalled.

610d ago / 8:19 AM UTC

One dead after Russia accused of firing on residential neighborhoods in Luhansk, officials say


At least one person is dead after Russian forces were accused of firing on residential neighborhoods in the Luhansk region on Wednesday morning, Ukrainian authorities have said. 

In a Telegram post, Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk region, said Russian forces had "fired on residential neighborhoods in one of the Lysychansk districts of the Luhansk region.”

“There are a lot of blockages. Rescuers are trying to save the living,” he said.

According to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, at least one person died in the attack. Five people have been rescued with eight already evacuated to safety, it said in a post on Telegram.

The state emergency service said Information about the dead and injured was still being "clarified."

610d ago / 8:03 AM UTC

Ukrainian residents wait for food outside a church in the northeastern city of Trostianets, on Tuesday.

Ukrainian residents wait for food outside a church in the northeastern city of Trostianets, on March 29, 2022.
Fadel Sena / AFP - Getty Images
610d ago / 7:55 AM UTC

Russian units forced to return to Belarus, Russia to reorganize, U.K. says

Russian units suffering heavy losses have been "forced to return to Belarus and Russia to reorganize and resupply," Britain's defense ministry has said. 

In an intelligence update early Wednesday morning, the defense ministry said such activity was putting further pressure on Russia's "already strained logistics and demonstrates the difficulties Russia is having reorganizing its units in forward areas within Ukraine." 

It warned that Russia would likely continue to "compensate" for the reduced capability on the ground through mass artillery and missile strikes. 

The statement added that Russia's proclaimed focus on an offensive in Donetsk and Luhansk was likely a "tacit admission that it is struggling to sustain more than one significant axis of advance."

610d ago / 7:23 AM UTC

Three humanitarian corridors agreed for evacuation and aid


Three humanitarian corridors have been agreed to for the evacuation of Mariupol and Melitopol residents and delivery of humanitarian aid, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced on Wednesday.

In a Telegram post she said that the corridors will deliver aid to the city of Berdyansk and will clear the way for people traveling using their own transport from Enerhodar to Zaporizhzhia.

“On the way back to the city of Zaporizhzhia, people from Berdyansk and Melitopol will be able to join the humanitarian columns in their own vehicles,” she said.