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E.U. leaders visit Kyiv as Ukraine officials see room for compromise with Russia

The latest round of talks comes as 29,000 people fled from Ukrainian cities, making use of nine humanitarian corridors.

This live blog has now finished — you can find the most recent updates here.

Despite Russia's relentless assault, top Ukrainian advisers to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy indicated Tuesday that there might be room for comprise even as Russian forces stepped up their bombardment of Kyiv.

One aide said the negotiations had become “more constructive” while another described the talks as “very difficult and viscous” with “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides. Still, “there is certainly room for compromise," presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

The latest round of talks comes as 29,000 people fled from Ukrainian cities, making use of nine humanitarian corridors that had been previously established. The majority of the people evacuated from the embattled city of Mariupol and made their way by private car to Zaporizhzhia and surrounding regions.

In Kyiv, a new 35-hour curfew went into effect as its mayor warned that the city faced a "difficult and dangerous moment." Even as the fighting raged, the leaders of three European countries traveled to Ukraine's capital to meet with Zelenskyy in a bold show of support.

See full coverage here.

155d ago / 3:39 AM UTC
155d ago / 3:15 AM UTC

Senate unanimously passes resolution condemning Putin, Russia's actions

The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a symbolic move that comes with no orders for sanctions, prohibitions or military operations.

The resolution by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also expresses support for war crime investigations of the Russian government and military and encourages efforts to hold President Vladimir Putin and his political supporters and military leaders accountable.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the resolution "sends an unmistakable message that the U.S. Senate stands with Ukraine, stands against Putin." 

Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized President Joe Biden's response to Russia's invasion, saying "American hesitancy and weakness" have invited Putin's continued incursion.

155d ago / 2:26 AM UTC

U.S. farmers feel the squeeze as Ukraine invasion sends livestock feed costs higher

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could force some livestock farmers in the Midwest to pay double for animal feed, a tight enough squeeze to push farms out of business, farmers and agriculture experts say.

Commodity prices for corn — part of the essential diet for steers, pigs, chickens and turkeys — had been on the rise before the war began about three weeks ago, and they have skyrocketed since then, demonstrating how the conflict is affecting industries globally.

The farmers are also being affected by rising fuel costs, as many of them use diesel to power their tractors and other heavy machinery.

Read the full story here. 

155d ago / 1:21 AM UTC

Best friends say goodbye as Russian invasion forces separation

155d ago / 1:00 AM UTC

Official says Russian troops took 500 hostage in Mariupol

LVIV, Ukraine — Russian troops seized a hospital in Mariupol and took about 500 people hostage during another assault on the southern port city late Tuesday, regional leader Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Russians troops drove 400 people from neighboring houses into Regional Intensive Care Hospital, Kyrylenko said on the messaging app Telegram. About 100 doctors and patients also are believed to be inside, he said.

The troops are using those inside the hospital as human shields and are not allowing anyone to leave, he said.

“It’s impossible to leave the hospital, they are shooting hard,” Kyrylenko said.

Kyrylenko said the main building of the hospital has been heavily damaged by shelling, but medical staff are continuing to treat patients in makeshift wards set up in the basement.

He called on the world to respond to these “gross violations of the norms and customs of war, these egregious crimes against humanity.”

The Ukrainian army’s General Staff says Russian troops are trying to block off the city from the western and eastern outskirts of the city. “There are significant losses,” it said in a Facebook post.

155d ago / 12:26 AM UTC

Ukraine seeks armed drones, jamming gear, surface-to-air missiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles from U.S.

To bolster its defenses against invading Russian forces, Ukraine is asking the Biden administration for armed drones, anti-ship missiles, “off-the-shelf” electronic jamming equipment and surface-to-air missiles that can strike aircraft at a higher altitude, according to four sources with knowledge of the request.

The wish list recently submitted to Washington by Ukraine also includes a request for more portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and Javelin anti-tank weapons, which have proved crucial in the government’s fight against a larger, better-armed Russian force, said the sources, including two European diplomats familiar with Kyiv’s requirements.

Ukraine wanted help to bolster its electronic warfare efforts against Russia with “off-the-shelf” gear, including satellite navigation and communications-jamming equipment and ground-based communications to oversee drones, the sources said.

Read the full story here. 

155d ago / 11:29 PM UTC

Russia using long range attacks to demolish Ukrainian cities

155d ago / 11:07 PM UTC

Ukraine sees room for compromise with Russia

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Ukraine said Tuesday it saw possible room for compromise in talks with Russia as Russian forces stepped up their bombardment of Kyiv.

A top Ukrainian negotiator, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, described the latest round of talks with the Russians, held via videoconference, as “very difficult and viscous” and said there were “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides, but he added that “there is certainly room for compromise.” He said the talks will continue Wednesday.

Zelenskyy also struck a more hopeful tone in a video message, saying that "positions in negotiations are starting to sound more realistic."

"But we still need time so that decisions could be made in the interests of Ukraine," he added.

Earlier in the day, another aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ihor Zhovkva, struck a more optimistic note, saying that the negotiations had become “more constructive” and that Russia had softened its stand by no longer airing its demands that Ukraine surrender.

155d ago / 10:56 PM UTC

Biden to speak following Zelenskyy's address to Congress

President Joe Biden is expected to speak about providing aid to Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's virtual address to Congress on Wednesday, a source confirmed.

Several senators said Tuesday they expected Zelenskyy's address to focus on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in his country and what he contends is the need for a no-fly zone. 

The virtual address will take place in an auditorium in the Capitol Visitor Center. Only lawmakers can attend in person, but a livestream will be available for public viewing.

155d ago / 10:41 PM UTC

'These guys were the best of us': Four Ukrainian officers killed in air raid mourned

Image; Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin during a service for four killed in Sunday's air raid, outside the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in Lviv, Ukraine.
Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin during a service for four killed in Sunday's air raid outside the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Lviv, Ukraine.Shanshan Dong / NBC News

LVIV, Ukraine — Mourners bowed their heads to honor four of the 35 people killed in Sunday’s air raid on Yavirov. Inside the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, it was standing room only — and faces young and old streamed with tears as the four servicemen were given a stately send-off. 

Col. Oleg Yashishin, 55, Maj. Kyrylo Vyshyvanyi, 35, Maj. Serhii Melnyk, 39, and Maj. Rostyslav Romanchuk, 30, were officers of Ukraine’s military educational institutions who trained future officers for the armed forces, according to the National Academy of Land Forces. 

“Our enemies that invaded our country are trying, first of all, to kill the best sons and daughters of the Ukrainian nation,” said Col. Anton Myranovych, a spokesman for the National Academy of Land Forces. “I’m trying to keep my emotions right now. … For everyone who’s losing his friends, his family, his relatives, people who we know, it’s a tough time. But at the same time, it’s another motivation for us to keep defending our country. 

“These guys were the best of us. … We will never forget them. We will never forget how they were brave, how they were professional, how they were ready to do everything possible not just for themselves, but for entire Ukrainian people and for entire world, as well," Myranovych said. 

155d ago / 10:21 PM UTC
155d ago / 10:02 PM UTC

Chernobyl is reconnected to national electricity grid, agency says

After a cat-and-mouse game between Ukrainian crews attempting to repair the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and Russian forces who kept attacking it, the site has been reconnected to the national electrical grid, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

The plant, which went offline Wednesday, had been relying on diesel fuel for backup power. Over the weekend, Ukrainian teams reconnected one of two downed lines but were thwarted when Russian forces damaged it again.

More than 200 staff members have been living at the nuclear plant since Feb. 24, when Russian forces first attacked the site. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the employees had been working “under enormous stress without the necessary rest" for three weeks. 

Ukraine's energy regulator also confirmed reports that Russian soldiers detonated unexploded munitions at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which was attacked this month. Staff members continue to work on detecting and disposing of unexploded munitions at the site, the atomic energy agency said. Eight of the country’s 15 reactors remained operational Tuesday.

155d ago / 9:34 PM UTC

Zelenskyy meets with prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met Tuesday with the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia, thanking them for their "powerful sign of support" by traveling to the country's war-ravaged capital. 

"Your visit to Kyiv at this difficult time for Ukraine is a powerful sign of support. We really appreciate it," Zelenskiy said a video statement.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, who arrived by train, are the first heads of state to have visited Kyiv since Russian forces invaded, Reuters reported. Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński also attended.

"It is here, in war-torn Kyiv, that history is being made," Morawiecki tweeted. "It is here, that freedom fights against the world of tyranny. It is here that the future of us all hangs in the balance. EU supports UA, which can count on the help of its friends — we brought this message to Kyiv today."

155d ago / 9:01 PM UTC

29,000 Ukrainians flee besieged cities using humanitarian corridors

About 29,000 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian cities using humanitarian corridors established in recent weeks, senior Ukrainian presidential official Kyrylo Tymoshenko said in a statement on Telegram.

Most of them, around 20,000 people, fled the besieged city of Mariupol on Tuesday and made their way to Zaporizhzhia, which is about 3½ hours away. Nearly 600 vehicles out of 4,000 that left the city have already arrived in Zaporizhzhia, and others will stay in surrounding settlements in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, he added.

"Everyone is being helped," Tymoshenko said.

155d ago / 8:15 PM UTC

24-year-old Fox News journalist killed in Ukraine

A 24-year-old journalist working as a consultant for Fox News died Monday alongside cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire, the network announced Tuesday.

Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshynova has been helping Fox News crews navigate Kyiv and surrounding areas while reporting and speaking with sources, the network said. Reporter Benjamin Hall was also injured during the attack. 

"She was incredibly talented and spent weeks working directly with our entire team there, operating around the clock to make sure the world knew what was happening in her country," Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement. 

Kuvshynova was described as having a passion for music, art and photography. Fox News withheld announcing her death Monday "out of respect for her family," Scott said. 

"Several of our correspondents and producers spent long days with her reporting the news and got to know her personally, describing her as hard-working, funny, kind and brave," she added. "Her dream was to connect people around the world and tell their stories and she fulfilled that through her journalism."

155d ago / 7:46 PM UTC

European Union punishes Russia, oligarchs with more sanctions

The European Union targeted Russia with new sanctions Tuesday as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine, banning investments in the Russian energy sector and transactions with the Kremlin's "military-industrial complex."

The E.U. is also instituting an export ban on luxury goods, such as cars and jewelry, and it broadened its list of sanctioned people and entities to include "more oligarchs and business elites linked to the Kremlin." Among those whose assets will be frozen are billionaire Roman Abramovich, a Putin ally and the owner of England's Chelsea soccer team, and Konstantin Ernst, the head of Russian state TV Channel One.

In addition to this fourth wave of sanctions, the E.U. said it joined other World Trade Organization members in agreeing to deny Russia's privileges in the market as a "most favored nation," which allows countries to move goods at lower tariff rates.

155d ago / 7:14 PM UTC
155d ago / 5:44 PM UTC
155d ago / 5:43 PM UTC

Hillary Clinton mocks Russian sanctions announcement

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday ridiculed Russia's announcement that it was slapping her with sanctions

"I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award," Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, said in a tweet linking to the sanctions announcement.

Clinton's name was included on a list of sanctions targets, including President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Clinton, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential election, was one of only two people named in the sanctions who is not a member of the current administration. The other was Biden's son Hunter. 

155d ago / 5:33 PM UTC

McConnell bashes Biden for 'weakness' on response to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday criticized President Joe Biden's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine despite praising him and the administration in early March.  

"It is American hesitancy and weakness which our adversaries see as an invitation,” McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor.

“President Biden hesitated and waited to reinforce our NATO allies with more American troops out of fears that it might provoke Putin," he continued. "President Biden hesitated and waited to send Stingers to the Ukrainians out of fears that it might provoke Putin. President Biden declined to send support and training to Ukraine in December because he feared it might provoke Putin.”

Image: U.S. Senate Minority Leader McConnell walks to the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill, in Washington
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill on March 15, 2022.Tom Brenner / Reuters

 

McConnell then bashed Biden for the administration's decision to reject Poland's proposal that involved the U.S. transferring Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine. 

“Last week, President Biden publicly split from our ally Poland and scrapped a plan to get airplanes to Ukraine — because our administration feared it might provoke Putin," McConnell said. "American strength is not the provocation. American weakness is."

The U.S. authorized a $200 million defense aid package in December that resulted in the delivery of equipment and weapons on Jan. 22. The State Department said the aid brought the total security assistance provided to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration to $1.2 billion. Congress approved $13.6 billion in Ukraine-related aid last week as part of a government spending bill — $3.6 billion more than Biden had requested.

155d ago / 5:19 PM UTC

Biden to travel to Brussels to attend NATO summit as fighting in Ukraine intensifies

President Joe Biden will travel to Brussels on March 24 to attend a NATO summit on Russia’s war in Ukraine, the White House confirmed Tuesday.

The news comes after a weekend in which fighting intensified across Ukraine and Russia's attacks moved closer to Poland, a member of NATO.

156d ago / 4:59 PM UTC

Russia says it will propose 'humanitarian' resolution at U.N.

Russia plans to put forward a humanitarian resolution about Ukraine at the U.N. Security Council, the Russian ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, said Tuesday.

Nebenzya, who did not go into the details of the Russian proposal, said the resolution would be made public later Tuesday.

Image: United Nations Security Council meeting, in New York City
The Russian ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, addresses the U.N. Security Council at U.N. Headquarters in New York on Monday.Andrew Kelly / Reuters

 “We said from the very beginning that we would be prepared to adopt a humanitarian resolution on the situation in Ukraine provided that this is not a disguise to blame and shame Russia," Nebenzya said at the U.N. Security Council ahead of a meeting about South Sudan.

Before it invaded Ukraine, Russia had made several demands that it said would have prevented the invasion, which were refused because agreement would have largely required Ukraine to relinquish its sovereignty. 

156d ago / 4:57 PM UTC

Senators say they expect Zelenskyy to ask Congress for more assistance for Ukraine

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Several senators said Tuesday that they expect Zelenskyy to ask the U.S. for more assistance when he addresses members of Congress in a virtual address Wednesday. 

"I think that President Zelenskyy will make clear the humanitarian crisis that's unfolding in Ukraine. He'll put that in very personal terms. He also will make the case for more aid from the United States and from our allies," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told reporters. 

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who was part of a four-member congressional delegation to visit Poland over the weekend, said Zelenskyy has repeatedly told lawmakers that Ukraine needs help, particularly with regard to the skies over the country. 

"We’ve talked about airplanes," Portman said about a Polish proposal, rejected by the Biden administration, that would have involved the U.S.'s transferring Soviet-era planes to Ukraine. "This one has been most controversial, but it’s part of a package that I believe is necessary. The airplanes are something that President Zelenskyy has told us directly he would like. He needs more air power, clearly."

Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the other Republican on the trip to Poland, suggested Tuesday that he's in favor of some sort of no-fly zone over Ukraine despite the potential for escalation. 

"I come down on the side of people like General Wes Clark, who knows what he's talking about, former Sen. Joe Lieberman and others who say we have a moral obligation, a humanitarian obligation, to stop the slaughter and to figure out some way, some nuance, where we can protect the airspace in Ukraine and prevent the carnage," he said. 

156d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

Paramount to suspend operations in Russia

Paramount on Tuesday became the latest media giant to boycott the Russian economy after CEO Bob Bakish announced plans to suspend operations in the country. 

The company has paused the distribution of Paramount Global content and will halt all new licensing deals in Russia, Bakish said in an internal memo obtained by NBC News. Previously, Paramount Pictures had also delayed the release of "The Lost City" and "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." Further suspensions will be implemented over time because of contractual and procedural obstacles, Bakish said. 

Paramount will also donate $1 million in support of humanitarian relief efforts, said Bakish, who encouraged employees to find additional ways to directly help people affected by the conflict.

156d ago / 4:40 PM UTC

Zelenskyy makes emotional plea to Canadian leaders

Zelenskyy delivered an emotional address Tuesday asking the Canadian Parliament and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to put themselves in his country's position.

"Justin, can you imagine hearing the bombing of Ottawa, the bombing of your city, and your children asking you what happened?" Zelenskyy asked Trudeau by video.

"Can you imagine the famous CN Tower in Toronto if it was hit by Russian bombs?" he continued. "I don't wish this for anyone."

Canada has been a key ally of Ukraine since 1991, when it was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine's independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. Zelenskyy again asked Canadian leaders Tuesday to support his calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, a move rebuffed by Trudeau, who has said it would only lead to an escalation in the conflict.

156d ago / 4:31 PM UTC

Russia withdraws from Council of Europe

Russia on Tuesday formally exited the Council of Europe, an organization that strives to uphold human rights on the continent.

Pyotr Tolstoy, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian delegation at the council’s Parliamentary Assembly, handed a letter from Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the council’s secretary general announcing Moscow’s decision.

"Due to the unprecedented political and sanctions pressure on our country, Russia does not plan to pay an annual contribution to this organization," Tolstoy said in part.

"I would like to emphasize that Russia is withdrawing from the Council of Europe of its own free will. This is a balanced and considered decision," he added.

The Council of Europe previously moved to suspend Russia from the 47-nation organization.

156d ago / 4:10 PM UTC
156d ago / 4:03 PM UTC

Ukrainian ambassador: Russian invasion a "clear case of genocide"

The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "a "clear case of genocide" at a news conference Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington.

Markarova also called for more international support for her home country in the form of weapons, increased sanctions and diplomatic pressure for humanitarian aid corridors. She thanked supporting countries for their assistance and emphasized Ukraine's intent to keep resisting. 

"We are defending Ukraine, but we are also defending Europe, and we are defending democracy, and we are defending freedom," she said.

156d ago / 3:57 PM UTC

Russia imposes sanctions on Biden, other top U.S. officials

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that President Joe Biden and top administration officials have been added to the Russian sanctions list.

The move is a response to harsh U.S. economic sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin's government as well as Russian oligarchs and banks.

The other U.S. officials on the Russian sanctions list include Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Hillary Clinton and Biden's son Hunter were also included, although neither of them currently serves in the U.S. government.

156d ago / 3:44 PM UTC

U.S. sanctions Belarusian President Lukashenko, top Russian defense officials

The State Department announced Tuesday that the U.S. is sanctioning the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, and his family members to hold them accountable for their government's human rights abuses and violations. 

The move will ban Lukashenko, his wife, his two adult sons and a younger son from entering the U.S. The State Department also announced sanctions against 11 senior Russian defense officials, including Viktor Zolotov, the head of Russia's National Guard. 

"In doing so, we reiterate our condemnation of President Putin’s premeditated, unjustified, and unprovoked war against Ukraine, as well as the Lukashenka regime’s support and facilitation of the Russian Federation’s invasion," the State Department said, using a variant spelling of the president's name. 

The Biden administration also announced visa restrictions for current and former Russian government officials "believed to be involved in suppressing dissent in Russia and abroad," as well as for their family members, the State Department said. The restrictions will also be imposed on 25 people "responsible for undermining democracy in Belarus," as well as on six people "acting on behalf of the Russian Federation [who] were involved in attacks on Chechen dissidents living in Europe," it said.

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pose for a photo during their meeting in Moscow on March 11, 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pose for a photo during their meeting Friday in Moscow.Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
156d ago / 3:30 PM UTC
156d ago / 3:24 PM UTC

Zelenskyy says he recognizes Ukraine has no open door into NATO

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that he realizes his country "is not a member of NATO" and there is no open door to the Western military alliance — building on a previous comment last week that he has "cooled" to the idea of membership.

"If we cannot enter through open doors, then we must cooperate with the associations with which we can, which will help us, protect us ... and have separate guarantees," Zelenskyy said in a video message with military officials, Reuters reported.

Russia has used its concern over Ukraine's goal of membership into NATO as a justification for the invasion.

Zelenskyy also said Tuesday in a video posted on Telegram that if the door to join NATO were open, it wouldn't take this long to persuade the alliance to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which he believes would limit attacks from Russian warplanes. "But we are not heard for now or they don't want to hear us," he said.

156d ago / 3:22 PM UTC

Fox News cameraman killed in Ukraine

Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski died after being struck by incoming fire outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the network confirmed Tuesday.

"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we share the news this morning regarding our beloved cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski. Pierre was killed in Horenka, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine," Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement.

The network said Zakrzewski was killed in the incident that injured Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall on Monday.

"Pierre was a war zone photographer who covered nearly every international story for FOX News from Iraq to Afghanistan to Syria during his long tenure with us," Scott said. "His passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched."

Scott said "we extend our deepest condolences to Pierre’s wife Michelle and family — please keep them all in your prayers." She asked that people "continue to pray for Benjamin Hall, who remains hospitalized in Ukraine."

Zakrzewski was mourned on social media by other Fox News employees.

"I worked with Pierre many times around the world. He was an absolute treasure. Sending our most heartfelt prayers to Pierre's wife and family," Fox News anchor John Roberts tweeted.

 

156d ago / 3:09 PM UTC

Biden could attend NATO summit next week

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President Joe Biden is considering attending a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels next week, on March 24 or 25, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. Biden's attendance at the in-person summit is still under discussion.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed at an on-camera news conference Tuesday that NATO will convene a leaders meeting “on short notice,” but he declined to provide additional details.

156d ago / 3:07 PM UTC

Pope Francis: 'The armed aggression must stop'

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Pope Francis is repeating his call for Russia's invasion of Ukraine to end and prays that Ukrainian civilians are shielded from violence, the Vatican said Tuesday.

"The Holy Father received the letter from the mayor of Ukraine’s capital, and he is close to the suffering of the city, its people, those who were forced to flee and to the city’s administration," Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican press office, said in a statement translated from Italian by NBC News.

"He prays to God that they are protected from violence," Bruni added.

Bruni went on to say Pope Francis repeated the appeal he made to Russia over the weekend, specifically that “there can be no strategic reasons for the barbarity of murdering children and innocent victims. The armed aggression must stop, before it reduces cities into cemeteries."

Image: Pope Francis waves from the window of the apostolic palace during the weekly Angelus prayer on March 13, 2022 in The Vatican.
Pope Francis waves from the window of the apostolic palace Sunday during the weekly Angelus prayer at the Vatican.Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images
156d ago / 2:40 PM UTC

Putin critic Alexei Navalny faces 13 more years in prison

Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and one of the Kremlin's fiercest critics, could receive an additional 13 years in prison and be moved to a maximum security facility, his spokeswoman said Tuesday after Russian prosecutors asked for a harsher sentence in court.

Navalny, 45, was jailed in February 2021 for 2½ years stemming from parole violations related to an embezzlement case. He has said the case is politically motivated because of his opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter that "the upcoming sentence has nothing to do with the law." She also tweeted a response that she attributed to Navalny: "Even if you ask for 113 years and give. You won't scare me."

Navalny's case has spurred demonstrations from supporters even within Russia. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he has repeatedly called for anti-war protests in statements provided through his allies.

156d ago / 2:14 PM UTC

Twitter account posing as Russian TV anti-war protester goes viral before shutting down

A Twitter account posing as a journalist who staged a bold anti-war protest on Russia's main evening news program went viral on Tuesday, amassing more than 10,000 followers before becoming inaccessible.

NBC News' Social Newsgathering team was able to analyze the account, which posed as Channel One journalist Marina Oysyannikova, while it was still available on Twitter and confirm that it did not belong to her.

The account was created in March 2022, and from the beginning was tweeting criticism of Russia and Putin’s actions in Ukraine. Given Oysyannikova's position as a journalist for Channel One, this open criticism would be unlikely. The account had also tweeted an image of what appeared to be a bunker on March 13, with the caption "safe shelter" —  somewhere that it would be unusual for a journalist based in Moscow to be tweeting from. 

We also saw a tweet on March 10 from the account which had asked for retweets on a story. In response to this, a different Twitter user responded, and included the handle @AnonUkrainell, which was different to the account’s current @MarinaOvsy handle, suggesting it had previously had a different identity.

NBC News also found evidence that the account had posed for a time as journalist Juan Arredondo, who was shot in Ukraine on March 13 along with journalist Brent Renaud. Renaud died of his injuries. Arredondo came to media attention over the weekend when he was interviewed about what happened.

Although NBC News has not been able to confirm who ran the account, a clear pattern can be seen in its behavior, changing identity to ride news stories. While the account was gathering followers and posing as Ovsyannikova, her whereabouts and condition were not clear.

NBC News has contacted Twitter for comment.

156d ago / 2:01 PM UTC
156d ago / 1:57 PM UTC

Diplomatic talks ongoing between Russia, Ukraine

The fourth round of diplomatic talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators continued Tuesday after both sides agreed to a "technical pause" the previous day, according to an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"Negotiations are ongoing," Zelenskyy adviser Mihailo Podolyak said on Twitter.

Podolyak said topics on the agenda included a possible cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

The three previous rounds of talks between the two countries ended without any significant breakthroughs, but Russian President Vladimir Putin's evident military struggles in Ukraine have fueled hopes he might be open to a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

156d ago / 1:25 PM UTC

Zelenskyy appeals for more weapons: 'Help yourself by helping us'

Ukraine’s president has told northern European leaders that they could “help yourself by helping us,” as he appealed for more weapons to counter Russia’s invasion of his country.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking to leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force via video link Tuesday, said the Ukrainian military is rapidly using up weapons and other hardware that Western nations have shipped to his country.

He also appealed for a full trade embargo on Russia, saying sanctions have not been enough to counter the Russian advance.

“We have to acknowledge Russia as a rogue state and there has to be a trade embargo with Russia,” Zelenskyy said. “This is something that we need and you need as well, just like the rest of the world, to make sure there is peace in Europe and Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy also repeated his frustration with NATO over its refusal to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine as he addressed JEF leaders meeting Tuesday in London.

The United Kingdom-led JEF is a grouping of 10 North Atlantic countries designed to react quickly to international crises. It includes NATO members such as Britain and the Baltic states, as well as non-NATO countries such as Sweden and Finland.

156d ago / 1:17 PM UTC
156d ago / 12:58 PM UTC

U.K. imposes new sanctions on Russia, catching up with U.S. and E.U.

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The United Kingdom has announced a new round of sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, using a new law to catch up with the European Union and the United States in targeting people accused of propping up Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the latest round of sanctions, brought quickly after the government's economic crime bill became law, Britain moved against those close to Putin, such as Dmitry Medvedev, a former president and prime minister, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Russian oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven were also put under sanctions, as were Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Britain said earlier Tuesday it would ban the export of luxury goods to the country and impose a new 35 percent tariff on key goods including vodka, metals, fertilizers and other commodities.

"Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect," Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said. 

The new sanctions are on top of the U.K.'s move last week to impose travel bans and asset freezes on seven Russian oligarchs and 386 members of the Russian legislature. 

156d ago / 12:42 PM UTC

Nearly 3 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Russia invaded

Nearly 3 million people have now fled Ukraine since Russia invaded.

The number of refugees who have left the country since the war began on Feb. 24 reached 2.969 million Tuesday, according to the latest figures from the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

The majority of the refugees have fled to neighboring Poland, while Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia have also taken in people fleeing across the border. 

156d ago / 12:17 PM UTC

Izyum deputy mayor warns city facing desperate situation

The eastern Ukrainian city of Izyum is rapidly running out of supplies and urgently needs humanitarian corridors to help civilians trapped in dire conditions, its deputy mayor warned.

The city has been under siege for two weeks and is “without water, without light, heat, food, medicine, communication,” Deputy Mayor Volodymyr Matsokin said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

He said that in addition to Russian shelling, people were dying of disease and due to a lack of medicine. "There is no one to bury the dead," he added.

Matsokin said the situation in his city was no better than in Mariupol, the besieged southeastern port city that has faced perhaps the worst of the Russian assault.

“Izyum residents URGENTLY need humanitarian corridors on both sides (Kharkiv and Slovyansk) to deliver humanitarian goods,” he added.

156d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

Kremlin dismisses anti-war TV protest as 'hooliganism'

The Kremlin has dismissed an anti-war protest on Russian TV as "hooliganism."

A woman interrupted Russia’s main evening news broadcast Monday, holding a sign saying “No War” and telling viewers not to believe the station’s “propaganda.”

The independent OVD-Info human rights group said the woman, an employee of the state-owned, widely watched Channel One, was named Marina Ovsyannikova and that she had been detained and taken into custody.

Her whereabouts and condition were unclear as of Tuesday morning.

Amid concerns over her fate, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the protest "is hooliganism" and would be dealt with by the channel and relevant organizations. 

Read the full story here.

156d ago / 11:36 AM UTC

Ukraine says 9 humanitarian corridors open Tuesday

Ukraine is hoping to evacuate civilians through nine humanitarian corridors across the country Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that around 150,000 people had been able to escape hard-hit areas along the safe routes established with Russia so far.

Those efforts have been hampered by Russian attacks, though there was a glimmer of hope for residents of the besieged southern city of Mariupol on Monday with the first convoy of private cars making it out of the city.

The Mariupol city council said on Tuesday that around 300 people had arrived in Zaporizhzhia since Monday, though a convoy of aid heading into the city has yet to be allowed through. 

The situation in Mariupol is “extreme” and people are facing impossible choices around how to feed their families and themselves, a spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday. 

As well as Mariupol, today's evacuation efforts will see corridors established from areas around the capital, Kyiv, and from the cities of Sumy, Trostyanets, Shostka, Lebedyn, and Konotop in the hard-hit Sumy region.

156d ago / 10:57 AM UTC

Zelenskyy urges Russian soldiers to surrender, says Kyiv is listening in

156d ago / 10:50 AM UTC

Russia trying to 'subvert Ukrainian democracy' in occupied areas, U.K. warns

Russia will likely continue its efforts to "subvert Ukrainian democracy" in order to consolidate its control over the country, Britain's ministry of defense has warned.

In its latest intelligence update, the ministry cited reports that Russia has already attempted to install its own mayor in Melitopol after Ukraine said the southern city's original mayor was abducted last Friday. Russian forces have also been accused of abducting the mayor of Dniprorudne. 

The U.K. defense ministry also cited reports Russia may seek to stage a “referendum” in Kherson in an attempt to legitimize the area as a “breakaway republic," similar to strategies used in Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea since 2014.

Demonstrations against Russian occupation have taken place in multiple areas under Russian control, including Kherson, Melitopol and Berdyansk, according to the ministry. 

156d ago / 10:15 AM UTC

Kyiv to impose new curfew amid Russian assault

A new 35-hour curfew is set to be imposed in Kyiv as the Ukrainian capital comes under intensifying Russian attacks.

The curfew will be in force from 8 p.m. local time Tuesday (2 p.m. ET) until 7 a.m. on Thursday (1 a.m. ET), Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced on his Telegram channel. 

The mayor told residents to prepare to remain at home or at a bomb shelter for the next two days. 

All residents will be banned from moving through the city's streets unless they are traveling to shelters or carrying a special pass.  

"Today is a difficult and dangerous moment," Klitschko said. 

156d ago / 9:36 AM UTC

British train driver spends vacation handing out food to newly arrived refugees

MEDYKA, Poland ⁠— Fara Shojaian, a train driver from the beach town of Brighton in southern England, is using his vacation days to hand out chicken noodle soup to hungry Ukrainian refugees. 

Shojaian, 51, is volunteering with World Central Kitchen at the Medyka border crossing in the east of Poland. He arrived on Sunday and will be staffing the soup station for a week.

“Hot food is very important,” Shojaian said. “As soon as the refugees come across the border, we meet and greet them and try to give them fresh, hearty food so they can get at least some of their energy back.”

Soup is the kind of food that will do that, he added.

“I have friends in Ukraine, I have been there a few times, in Kyiv and Dnipro,” Shojaian said. “I needed to be here.” 

Image: Fara Shojaian, left, serves soup to Ukrainians crossing the border.
Fara Shojaian, left, serves soup to Ukrainians crossing the border. Jacobia Dahm for NBC News
156d ago / 9:18 AM UTC

Russian strikes hit residential buildings in Kyiv

Several residential buildings and a metro station in Kyiv have been hit by Russian shelling, according to the city's mayor and emergency services. 

Two high-rise buildings in the Sviatoshyno area and one in the Podil neighborhood of Ukraine's capital were directly hit by shelling while a nearby metro station was damaged by shock waves, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on his official Telegram channel Tuesday morning. 

The shelling ignited a fire at one 16-story residential building, killing four people according to the city's mayor and forcing 46 people to be evacuated from their homes, according to the SES.  

NBC News has verified video showing damage to the building, but has not confirmed the number of deaths. 

Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians.

Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on Tuesday.
Rescuers work next to a residential building damaged by shelling in Kyiv on Tuesday.Ukrainian State Emergency Service / Reuters
156d ago / 9:16 AM UTC

Japan sanctions 17 influential, wealthy Russians

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Japan on Tuesday said it would freeze the assets of 17 Russians, bringing the total of those targeted by the country in response to the invasion of Ukraine to 61.

According to a statement on the Finance Ministry's website, among those on the updated list are billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, 11 members of Russia's Parliament the Duma, and five family members of banker Yuri Kovalchuk, widely reported to be close to President Vladimir Putin.

The move comes after the United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Vekselberg and 12 Duma members.

156d ago / 9:04 AM UTC

European leaders to visit Kyiv, meet Zelenskyy in show of support

The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia are traveling to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital which is currently under fire, on a European Union mission to show support for the country as Russia’s invasion intensifies.

“The aim of the visit is to express the European Union’s unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a tweet.

He said they would meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the visit on Tuesday.

He will be joined by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is the Polish deputy prime minister for security but also the conservative ruling party leader.

Russia’s offensive in Ukraine edged closer to central Kyiv on Tuesday, with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood in the capital as the two countries planned a second day of talks.

156d ago / 6:29 AM UTC

World Bank announces additional $200 million in funding for Ukraine

The World Bank said Monday it had approved almost $200 million in additional and reprogrammed financing to support Ukraine's essential social services.

The money comes on top of $723 million in emergency funding the bank has mobilized, of which $350 million has been disbursed to Ukraine, the bank said in a statement. It is part of a $3 billion package the bank says it is preparing over the coming months.

“The ongoing war continues to have severe human costs and has created financing gaps that jeopardize the ability of vulnerable people in Ukraine to meet basic needs,” World Bank President David Malpass said.

The total funding mobilized by the World Bank also includes a multi-donor trust fund that has grown to $145 million after an $11 million contribution from Austria, the bank said.

156d ago / 3:26 AM UTC

Satellite images appear to show devastation of invasion on town

Image: Multispectral imagery view of burning homes and buildings near Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 14, 2022
A multispectral imagery view of burning homes and buildings near Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday.Satellite image (C)2022 Maxar Technologies

Satellite images from a town northwest of Kyiv appear to show the devastation of the Russian invasion, with numerous buildings and homes that have been damaged or destroyed and multiple structures in flames.

The images, released late Monday by the U.S. government-linked technology firm Maxar, show the town of Moschun, roughly 45 minutes from central Kyiv.

Wide swaths of the town appear blackened, and smoke can be seen rising from different structures.

The images were released as Russian forces continued to advance on the Ukrainian capital. An attack on a high-rise early Monday left one person dead and seven injured.

As of Monday, the United Nations had recorded more than 1,700 casualties since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, including 636 people who have died. The true death toll is likely to be far higher, especially in areas where fighting has intensified in recent days, the organization said.

156d ago / 2:19 AM UTC

156d ago / 1:19 AM UTC

Ukrainian president claims Russia has lost more military equipment than in both Chechen wars

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed Monday that Russian forces had lost more military equipment in nearly three weeks than during both of their invasions of Chechnya, the small republic in Russia’s southwest that endured years of bloody conflict and destruction beginning in the 1990s. 

Saying Ukrainian soldiers were inflicting “devastating” losses on invading troops, Zelenskyy seemed to taunt his neighbors, saying: “Today, the Russian military is practically one of the providers of the military equipment for our army.”

NBC News has not independently confirmed the remark, and it isn’t clear whether figures provided by Ukraine’s armed forces are accurate.

According to numbers published Monday by the Kyiv Independent, a local news site, Russia has lost nearly 400 tanks, 90 helicopters, 1,249 armored personnel carriers, 77 planes and other equipment. 

The former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, Mark Hertling, has said that if the accounts of Russian losses are “even close” to being accurate, “they are disastrous.”

A study included in the Marine Corps' amphibious warfare school found that In the first Chechen war, which lasted for two years in the mid-1990s — and which military scholars describe as devastating for Russian forces — the invading military lost nearly 90 percent of its 120 tanks in a single battle.

Another account, published in an Indian defense journal, reported that the military lost every 10th helicopter. Every fourth aircraft was damaged.

Reports of the death toll from the conflicts vary widely. Human rights groups and official accounts say tens of thousands of people were killed, many of them civilians.