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Ukraine rejected a Russian plan Monday to let civilians escape the Russian assault and flee to Russia or Belarus during a cease-fire.
Russia announced the cease-fire in major cities across Ukraine on Monday morning to let people evacuate, but only offered designated routes out of Kyiv and Kharkiv that Ukraine branded "unacceptable" and an effort to manipulate world leaders.
Both Russia and Ukraine say they’ve made a little progress during a third round of talks, and Russia’s top negotiator says the corridors are expected to start functioning Tuesday.
More than 1.5 million people have left Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the United Nations refugee agency, which called it the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
In an impassioned address to the nation on Sunday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainians would not forgive or forget the Russian aggression.
WNBA star Brittney Griner still detained in Russia as war escalates
Ukraine says Russian general killed in fighting near Kharkiv
LVIV, Ukraine — A Russian general was killed in the fighting around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which Russian forces have been trying to seize since the invasion began, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency said.
It identified him as Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, 45, and said he had fought with Russian forces in Syria and Chechnya and had taken part in the seizure of Crimea in 2014.
It was not possible to confirm the death independently. Russia has not commented.
Another Russian general was killed earlier in the fighting. A local officers’ organization in Russia confirmed the death in Ukraine of Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, the commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division.
Sukhovetsky also took part in Russia’s military campaign in Syria.
'Parched and freezing cold nightmare' in besieged city of Mariupol, human rights group says
A human rights group described an unfolding catastrophe in the city of Mariupol, where a temporary cease-fire collapsed over the weekend and the Russian invasion has left hundreds of thousands of people without water, electricity and heat for days.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement Monday that civilians have been trapped in a “parched and freezing cold nightmare” for six days and urged Ukraine and Russia to agree to the terms of a humanitarian corridor between the large seaside city in Ukraine’s southeast and Zaporizhzhia, about 140 miles away.
The evacuations had been set to begin Saturday, but Ukrainian authorities postponed the effort and accused Russian forces of continuing to shell the route.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said Monday that “radicals in Mariupol” were responsible for violating the agreement.
Hundreds of civilians in the city are believed to have been killed since the invasion began Feb. 24, Human Rights Watch said, and acute water shortages pose a grave risk to 200,000 residents unable to flee.
The group said a Russian shell is believed to have struck the city’s last remaining cellphone tower Sunday, preventing emergency coordination. Continued attacks have halted repairs to damaged infrastructure, including groundwater pumps and water treatment facilities, and left people drinking rainwater and collecting snow.
How the Russian invasion has upended life for Ukrainians
Proposed plan for sending fighter jets to Ukraine hits logistical snag
A proposal to provide Ukraine with Soviet-era fighter jets via Poland is struggling to gain traction in the Biden administration, and the U.S. is reviewing whether the plan is feasible, according to three U.S. officials.
Allied efforts to help Kyiv obtain fighter jets from its Eastern European neighbors have resulted in a proposal in which Poland would send Ukraine its old Russian-made MiG fighters and the U.S. would replace them by sending F-16 jets to Warsaw.
U.S. officials caution that such a plan is not expected to be enacted any time soon.
“It’s a lot easier to give hand-held weapons than it is to transfer a plane,” a source familiar with the discussions said Monday.
Read the full story here.
Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters for Ukraine invasion, Pentagon says
The Defense Department confirmed a report Monday that U.S. officials believe Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters to assist in its invasion of Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters there was “truth” to a Wall Street Journal report Sunday that cited a U.S. assessment of the effort and said Moscow was seeking Syrian fighters with urban combat skills.
The Journal reported the fighters were being offered $200 to $300 for six-month stints operating as “guards.” Some were already in Ukraine to help Russian forces take Kyiv, according to The Journal.
Kirby declined to speculate about a motive behind the effort or say who the fighters are, how many are being sought or what they will be paid, saying there isn’t “perfect visibility” into the issue.
“I can’t get into Mr. Putin’s head,” Kirby said. But he added that Russian forces “are having morale problems.”
“They are having supply problems. They are having fuel problems. They're having food problems,” he said. “They are meeting a very stiff and determined Ukrainian resistance.”
A senior U.S. defense official said separately Monday that Russia had deployed “nearly all” of the troops who were amassed around Ukraine before the invasion. President Joe Biden has previously said as many as 190,000 Russian troops had assembled near Ukraine’s borders.
Russia deployed its military to Syria in 2015 to help President Bashar al-Assad put down a rebel-led effort to topple him. The United Nations in 2020 accused Russia of committing war crimes in the country. Russia has denied the claim.
What is a no-fly zone, and why has NATO so far rejected calls for one?
WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to limit attacks from Russian warplanes — a request the West has firmly rejected even as the death and destruction mounts.
Top leaders of NATO — the alliance of 30 nations, including the U.S. — have repeatedly ruled it out, saying that imposing a no-fly zone over key parts of Ukraine could drag the alliance directly into Moscow’s war against its neighbor. They're unlikely to budge on the issue for that reason, experts said, since a no-fly zone would essentially require NATO to take over the air war that Ukraine is currently waging against Russian attacks.
As recently as Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated NATO's position, saying on NBC News' "Meet the Press" that President Joe Biden has been "very clear about one thing all along, as well, which is we're not going to put the United States in direct conflict with Russia."
What is a no-fly zone, and what would enforcing one take?
'There will be nothing left,' Zelenskyy says after Russia reportedly fires on bakery, killing 13
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that his country will have to “rebuild everything” after reports that Russian forces fired on a bread factory, killing 13 people, and destroyed a 160-year-old church.
“There will be nothing left from the enemy,” Zelenskyy said in a video on Telegram, according to an NBC News translation. “We will rebuild everything. We will make cities that the occupier destroyed that are better than any city in Russia.”
Reuters reported that an air strike targeted the bakery in Makariv, west of Kyiv. Emergency workers recovered 13 bodies from the rubble, according to Reuters.
“An old bread factory,” Zelenskyy said. “Just think about it — shooting at a bread factory. Who do you have to be to do such a thing?”
Zelenskyy also said a 160-year-old church southwest of Kyiv was destroyed by the Russian military. NBC News could not immediately confirm the claim.
U.N. says it can't meet needs of millions caught in conflict
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is unable to meet the needs of millions of civilians caught in conflict in Ukraine today and is urging safe passage for people to go “in the direction they choose” and for humanitarian supplies to get to areas of hostilities, according to the U.N. humanitarian chief.
Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths told a U.N. Security Council meeting Monday that his office has sent a team to Moscow to coordinate with the Russian military to try to scale-up the delivery of humanitarian aid to the level needed. He said this followed a phone call Friday between U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The first U.N.-Russia meeting has been held, he said, welcoming cooperation by both sides and expressing hope of “further progress in the hours ahead.”
Griffiths said the U.N. and its partners have already provided food to hundreds of thousands of people and the World Food Program “is setting up supply chain operations to deliver immediate food and cash assistance to 3 million to 5 million people inside Ukraine,” and the Ukrainian Red Cross has distributed hygiene and food kits, warm clothing and medicine to thousands of people.
The U.N. humanitarian chief also expressed deep worry at the consequences of “this unnecessary conflict” on “vulnerable people living half a world away” affected by spiking food prices and uncertain supplies and record-level prices. “People in the Sahel, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Madagascar, and beyond already face profound food inseucirty,” Griffiths said, and high gas prices means “life becomes harder still in places like Lebanon.”
U.S. reaches out to Venezuela amid possible Russia oil embargo
MIAMI — Senior U.S. officials secretly traveled to Venezuela over the weekend in a bid to unfreeze hostile relations with Vladimir Putin’s top ally in Latin America, a top oil exporter whose re-entry into U.S. energy markets could mitigate the fallout at the pump from a possible oil embargo on Russia.
The outcome of the talks with President Nicolas Maduro’s government wasn’t immediately clear.
The surprise visit came together after months of quiet backchannelling by intermediaries — American lobbyists, Norwegian diplomats and international oil executives — who have been pushing for Biden to revisit the failed “maximum pressure” campaign to unseat Maduro he inherited from the Trump administration.
But the impetus for a risky outreach to Maduro — who has been sanctioned and is indicted in New York on drug trafficking charges — took on added urgency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ensuing U.S. sanctions, which promises to reshuffle global alliances and add to rising gas prices driving inflation already at a four decade high.
McDonald's, other U.S. brands urged to stop doing business in Russia
Neither are many other Americans as calls get louder for boycotting other brands still operating in Russia, and hashtags like #BoycottPepsi, #BoycottCocaCola and #BoycottYumBrands are trending on Twitter.
New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is urging companies to reconsider doing business in Russia because they face “significant and growing legal, compliance, operational, human rights and personnel, and reputational risks.”
U.S. collecting evidence of possible Russian war crimes, White House says
The U.S. is “collecting evidence of possible war crimes, human rights abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law” committed by Russia, a National Security Council spokesperson said Monday.
“We will support accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions where appropriate.”
Evacuating civilians were hit by Russian shelling over the weekend in besieged Ukrainian cities, and more than 1.7 million people have now fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, the United Nations refugee agency said.
Biden, European leaders discussed 'raising the costs on Russia,' White House says
President Joe Biden held a secure video call Monday with the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom where they "affirmed their determination to continue raising the costs on Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine," the White House said.
The call between Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson lasted about an hour and 20 minutes, and it comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and its allies are considering banning Russian oil and natural gas imports in response to the attack on Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told members of the U.S. Congress on Saturday that such a ban was one of the ways in which the United States could help his country.
The White House readout of the call did not specifically mention that the ban was discussed. It said the four "underscored their commitment to continue providing security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine" and "discussed their respective recent engagements with the Ukrainian and Russian presidents."
Dow falls 600 points as fears grow among investors that the Russia-Ukraine war will slow the economy
Stocks fell again Monday, following four straight weeks of declines, as investors grew increasingly concerned that higher energy prices stemming from the Russia-Ukraine conflict would slow the economy while raising inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 600 points, or 1.9 percent. The S&P 500 declined 2.2 percent, falling deeper into correction territory. The Nasdaq Composite lost 2.3 percent, also in a technical correction.
As the Russia-Ukraine war continues, investors are monitoring the potential economic ramifications of disruptions in the global supply of energy.
Nearly 100 percent of Russian troops amassed around Ukraine now inside Ukraine, senior official says
A senior defense official said Monday nearly 100 percent of the troops that Russia amassed around Ukraine were now inside Ukraine. Russia has fired more than 625 missiles, the official said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered an additional roughly 500 military personnel from the U.S. over the weekend to deploy to Europe to augment existing forces there to respond to the security situation, a senior defense official said. The deployment is temporary with the personnel serving as enablers — refueling, maintenance and logistics support, the official said.
The military assets will prove helpful to protecting NATO airspace, the official said. The deployment includes sending KC-135 refueling aircraft to Souda Bay, Greece; air support operations centers to Poland and Romania; and ordnance and maintenance companies to Germany to support the 1st Armored Division.
This announcement means the total number of U.S. troops in Europe on rotational or permanent orders is roughly 100,000 U.S. military personnel.
Nothing has changed about President Joe Biden’s order, and there are still no plans to send U.S. troops into Ukraine, the official said.
Russian gymnast faces discipline for 'shocking behavior'
Disciplinary proceedings will be opened against a Russian gymnast for his "shocking behavior" during a competition over the weekend in Doha, Qatar, the governing body of competitive gymnastics said.
The Swiss-based International Gymnastics Federation did not specify in a statement what prompted a review of Ivan Kuliak at the Apparatus World Cup. But media outlets covering the event said Kuliak, 20, apparently displayed a taped "Z" symbol on his uniform's chest as he received the bronze medal beside Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, who won gold in the parallel bars event.
A white "Z" emblem has been used as a show of support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has reportedly been painted on Russian tanks and military vehicles.
It was unclear if Kuliak immediately responded to the International Gymnastics Federation's announcement or his reasoning for the display. Prior to the controversy, the organization announced Friday that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials, including judges, will be barred from taking part in its sanctioned competitions starting this week.
More than 400 killed in Ukraine, 800 wounded, United Nations says
The United Nations on Monday said it recorded 406 deaths, including 27 children, and 801 people injured during the Russian invasion of Ukraine from Feb. 24 through March 6.
The U.N. said 93 people were killed and 435 were wounded in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions. Another 313 were killed and 366 were wounded in other Ukrainian regions, including the Kyiv, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Sumy, Zaporizhia and Zhytomyr regions.
Most people died as a result of “heavy artillery shelling and multiple rocket launchers, missiles and air strikes,” the U.N. said.
NBC News has not verified the numbers of people killed.
U.K.'s Johnson announces Ukraine 'support group,' more aid
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that he is forming an "international Ukraine support group" to provide "long-term and unwavering assistance now and in the future" to the beleaguered nation.
The move comes after criticism at home by opposition politicians and anti-corruption campaigners over the United Kingdom's relatively milder sanctions of Russian oligarchs compared with the United States and other European nations.
Johnson, at a news conference in London joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch leader Mark Rutte, said they will be "encouraging more countries to join us."
Johnson also announced an additional $230 million in aid for Ukraine to ultimately ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin "fails in this catastrophic invasion."
Stolichnaya vodka rebrands to Stoli
Stolichnaya vodka will exclusively be sold under the name Stoli "in direct response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," the Stoli Group announced Friday.
Several U.S. states have banned sales of Russian-made vodkas in their liquor stores following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and some bars made a show of getting rid of their Stoli. But the company said on its website last month that “the Stoli vodka brands and its owner Yuri Shefler were exiled from Russia nearly two decades ago,” and the brand is registered in Latvia.
The company announced last week that it would work exclusively with Slovakian sources, ensuring a "100 percent non-Russian alpha grade spirit."
"The three driving factors behind the decision are the founder’s vehement position on the Putin regime; the Stoli employees' determination to take action; and the desire to accurately represent Stoli’s roots in Latvia," the company's statement said Friday.
"More than anything, I wish for ‘Stoli’ to represent peace in Europe and solidarity with Ukraine," Shefler said.
Deloitte exits Russia, joining rest of Big Four accounting firms
Deloitte said Monday it was pulling out of Russia, joining the three other Big Four global accounting firms.
Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen said in a statement Monday that the company “will separate our practice in Russia and Belarus from the global network of member firms. Deloitte will no longer operate in Russia and Belarus.”
Deloitte said that while it was making “the right decision,” the move will affect the roughly 3,000 employees it has in Russia and Belarus.
“Like others, we know our colleagues in Russia and Belarus have no voice in the actions of their government,” Renjen said. “We will support all impacted colleagues during this transition and do all we can to assist them during this extremely difficult time.”
He said Deloitte would prioritize the needs of its people and clients “while we bring the full strength of Deloitte’s global resources to bear in addressing the mounting humanitarian needs in Ukraine and across Europe.”
“We will honor our commitments and obligations to global financial markets and multiple regulatory bodies," Renjen said.
3rd round of talks resumes between Ukraine, Russia
A third round of negotiations between the Russian and the Ukrainian delegations began at 9 a.m. ET Monday.
In a tweeted video, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said his delegation will "start talking to representatives of a country that seriously believes that massive violence against civilians is an argument."
The location for the talks was not disclosed, but the two previous meetings on Feb. 28 and March 3 took place at the Belarusian border. This latest round comes as Moscow kept up its shelling overnight, although it announced the establishment of safe corridors Monday for civilians to evacuate from encircled cities in Ukraine.
Attempt to evacuate 200,000 people from city of Mariupol fails
A large-scale effort to evacuate about 200,000 people from the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol came to a halt Sunday as local leaders said Russian forces continued their barrage of shelling.
"The situation in Mariupol is devastating," said Martin Schuepp, the regional director for Europe and Central Asia for the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is acting as an intermediary for the safe passage of civilians.
Sunday marked the second day people have attempted to leave the besieged city, which has a population of roughly 440,000, but according to Ukrainian officials, a cease-fire agreement broken by the Russians threw the process into chaos.
The Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People's Republic told Russia's RIA state news agency that the Ukrainian side had refused to guarantee the cease-fire.
"The parties need to come into an agreement," Schuepp said.
People cross over a destroyed bridge in the town of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, as Russian forces advance Monday.
A man takes a pause as he evacuates from the town of Irpin, near Kyiv, on the only escape route used by locals after days of heavy shelling as Russian troops advance on Monday.
U.N. confirms more than 400 civilian deaths in Ukraine
The United Nations human rights office said Monday it had confirmed the deaths of 406 civilians, including 27 children, in Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion Feb. 24, but it said the real figure was likely to be much higher.
The latest figures from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has a monitoring mission in Ukraine, cover the period from Feb. 24 to March 6. The figure compared with 364 confirmed deaths in its report Sunday.
Women and children wait for transportation after fleeing from Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on Monday.
Russia snubs U.N. court hearings in case brought by Ukraine
Ukraine pleaded with the United Nations' top court Monday to order Russia to halt its devastating invasion, saying Moscow is already committing widespread war crimes and “resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare” in its 12-day-old military onslaught.
Russia snubbed the International Court of Justice hearings and its seats in the Great Hall of Justice remained empty.
On a lawn outside the court's headquarters, the Peace Palace in The Hague, a protester placed colored candles spelling out the words: “Putin Come out.”
Ukrainian representative Anton Korynevych told judges at the International Court of Justice: “Russia must be stopped and the court has a role to play in stopping it.”
Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations” launched Feb. 24 “that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide” in the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
A decision on Ukraine’s request is expected within days.
U.S. troops near Ukraine train with NATO allies
'There is no safe place': Mariupol resident on escaping besieged city
Cities that have come under Russian assault, including besieged Mariupol on Ukraine's Sea of Azov, have sounded the alarm about an impending humanitarian catastrophe after Russian shelling destroyed critical infrastructure and left residents without water, heat or electricity, and with dwindling food supplies.
"There is no safe place in the city. There are no neighborhoods where rockets don’t hit," Oleksandr Sosnovskyi, 39, who fled Mariupol last week, told NBC News. "People go to basements and sit there, hungry and cold.”
Since his departure, he said he hasn't been able to reach his mother and other relatives who remained in the city because phone and Internet service has been spotty. "I have no idea if they are alive or not,” he added.
He said he was headed toward the city of Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine with his wife, with no clue where to go next. “We make decisions by the hour," he said.
Watch: Ukrainians defending their country get married on the front line
More than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine, UNHCR says
More than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine in the days since Russia launched its invasion, the United Nations refugee agency has said.
In its latest operational data report, which was updated Sunday, the UNHCR said at least 1,735,068 people had fled Ukraine since Feb. 24 in the wake of Russia's invasion.
It said that Poland had taken in more than 1 million refugees, while Hungary had taken in more than 180,000. Tens of thousands of refugees have also fled to Moldova, Slovakia and Romania, while more than 50,000 have arrived in Russia and more than 400 in Belarus.
More than 183,000 people have moved on from these countries to others in Europe, according to the U.N.
"The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance," the UNHCR said in its ongoing report.
"In the first week, more than a million refugees from Ukraine crossed borders into neighboring countries, and many more are on the move both inside and outside the country," it said, adding: "They are in need of protection and support."
The UNHCR said estimates suggested that as many as 4 million people could flee Ukraine because of the war.
Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers set to meet in Turkey
Ukraine's foreign minister will meet his Russian counterpart in Turkey later this week, a senior Turkish official has said.
Dmytro Kuleba will meet with Sergey Lavrov on the fringes of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, a two-day event that starts Friday, according to a tweet from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Monday.
Çavuşoğlu added that the meeting came after "intensive diplomatic efforts" and the intervention of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Erdoğan spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone Sunday and urged him to sign a peace agreement, his office said.
Turkey is a NATO member that shares a maritime border with both Ukraine and Russia.
3rd round of talks to start at 9 a.m. ET, Zelenskyy adviser says
A third round of talks between Ukraine and Russia is expected to take place 9 a.m. ET Monday, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.
Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak announced the development in a tweet. He said the delegation remained unchanged, but did not disclose the location of the talks.
Both the first and the second rounds of negotiations, held Feb. 28 and March 3 respectively, took place at the Belarusian border.
The Russian state news agency TASS had also reported Sunday that Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky had confirmed talks were set to take place Monday.
Oil prices jump, shares sink as Ukraine conflict deepens
Oil prices jumped and shares were sharply lower Monday as the conflict in Ukraine deepened amid mounting calls for harsher sanctions against Russia.
Brent crude oil briefly surged above $130 a barrel but was trading around $125 a barrel later Monday. Benchmark U.S. crude also bounced, gaining $10 and then giving up some of that advance.
European markets opened lower and U.S. futures were down 1.7 percent. The price of gold surged above $2,000 an ounce as investors bought the precious metal viewed as a safe haven in times of crisis.
Russian forces were pummeling some Ukrainian cities with rockets even after Moscow announced another cease-fire and proposed a handful of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee Ukraine starting Monday.
A similar temporary cease-fire in two Ukrainian cities failed over the weekend — and both sides blamed each other.
A Ukrainian service member helps evacuate a child from the town of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on the only escape route used by locals after days of heavy shelling Monday.
E.U. to consider how to 'get rid of dependency on Russian fossil fuels'
The European Union's executive branch will weigh proposals Tuesday on how to move away from Europe's reliance on Russian fossil fuels, its president has said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet Monday that the commission would table proposals on "how to quickly get rid of our dependency on Russian fossil fuels" on Tuesday.
Von der Leyen said part of that effort would mean looking into the diversification of suppliers and switching to liquefied natural gas and pipeline gas.
She said it could also include "repowering" the E.U. by investing in renewables and improving energy efficiency.
The European Union imported 155 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia in 2021 — about 45 percent of E.U. gas imports and close to 40 percent of its total gas consumption, according to the International Energy Agency.
Zelenskyy adviser dismisses Russia's proposed humanitarian corridors as 'propaganda'
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has dismissed Russia's proposal for opening humanitarian corridors as "propaganda."
"Let's call a spade a spade," Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told NBC News.
Accusing Russian forces of killing civilians on Ukrainian streets "as they tried to leave the besieged or captured cities," Podolyak said he believed Russia should not be using the term "humanitarian" to describe its actions in Ukraine.
"Russia is organizing propaganda corridors, not humanitarian ones," he said.
His comments came after Russia had said it would open humanitarian corridors out of key cities at around 10 a.m. Moscow time (2 a.m. ET).
Noting that those humanitarian corridors were expected to create routes leading to Russia and Belarus, Podolyak said the move would be "forcing a certain number of Ukrainians not to go to the rescue, but to the Russian cameras of Russian propagandists."
People search the debris of residential buildings damaged by shelling in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, in this handout picture released Monday.
China to provide Ukraine humanitarian aid, says Russian relations are ‘rock solid’
China’s Red Cross will provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine “as soon as possible,” China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the country's legislative session.
Wang said the friendship between China and Russia was “rock solid” and prospects for cooperation bright.
Wang said the causes of the “Ukraine situation” were “complex” and had not happened overnight, noting, using a traditional Chinese expression, that “three feet of ice does not form in a single day.”
China has refused to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine or call it an invasion while asking Western countries to respect Russia’s “legitimate security concerns.” But Wang has indicated that Beijing is willing to “mediate” between Russia and Ukraine.
“China is willing to continue to play a constructive role in promoting peace talks, and is willing to work with the international community to carry out necessary mediation when needed,” Wang said.
China has already done “some work” to promote peace talks and has all along been in contact with all sides, he added.
Global accountancy giants to cut ties with Russia
KPMG, PwC and EY, three of the Big Four global accountancy firms, have said they will be exiting Russia over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
"We believe we have a responsibility, along with other global businesses, to respond to the Russian government’s ongoing military attack on Ukraine," a spokesperson for KPMG International said in a statement. "As a result, our Russia and Belarus firms will leave the KPMG network."
The company said it had more than 4,500 workers in Russia and Belarus "and ending our working relationship with them, many of whom have been a part of KPMG for many decades, is incredibly difficult."
In a separate statement, PwC said the company had also come to a decision that it "should not have a member firm in Russia and consequently PwC Russia will leave the network."
It said it would also work with colleagues at PwC Russia to "undertake an orderly transition for the business, and with a focus on the wellbeing of our 3,700 colleagues in PwC Russia."
EY appeared to follow the example of the two companies, announcing Monday that it would also be severing business ties with Russia.
In a statement shared on Twitter, EY said it would be overseeing a restructuring of its Russian member firm to separate it from the company's global network.
A spokesperson for Deloitte, the fourth major global accountancy firm, said they could not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News on their stance. They said a statement would be forthcoming.
South Korea to cut transactions with Russia's central bank, foreign ministry says
South Korea will sever transactions with Russia's central bank, the country's foreign ministry has reportedly said.
The foreign ministry announced the decision on Monday, according to Reuters. It came as countries continued to ramp up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
On Sunday, South Korea's foreign ministry also announced the country had decided to implement export control measures against Belarus for "substantially enabling Russia's invasion of Ukraine."
It said sanctions imposed on Belarus would be similar to those imposed on Russia.
World judo governing body cuts all ties with Putin
The International Judo Federation (IJF) has removed Russian President Vladimir Putin from all his remaining roles within the organization
The IJF suspended Putin as its honorary president on Feb. 27, but the body made clear in an online statement Monday it was severing all ties with him. Putin is a keen judo enthusiast — he holds a black belt and has written a book about it titled "Judo: History, Theory, Practice."
Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg was also removed from all positions held in the IJF. In addition the IJF has cancel an international tournament scheduled to be held in Kazan.
Thousands detained in Russia over anti-war protests in nearly 70 cities, watchdog says
Thousands of people were detained at protests held across Russia on Sunday in opposition to Moscow's war in Ukraine, officials and an independent protest monitoring group have said.
OVD-Info, a protest monitoring body, said that as of Monday morning, at least 5,017 Russians were detained in at least 69 cities across the country over demonstrations held Sunday.
Russia's interior ministry had said earlier that police had detained around 3,500 people, according to Reuters. It said at least 1,700 people had been detained in Moscow alone, with 750 detained in St. Petersburg.
The dead bodies of civilians killed by Russian shelling lie covered in the street in the town of Irpin, Ukraine on Sunday.
Russia's proposed humanitarian corridors 'unacceptable,' says Ukraine's deputy PM
Ukraine's deputy prime minister has condemned Russia's proposal for opening humanitarian corridors in the country as "unacceptable."
Russia had said it would be opening humanitarian corridors out of key cities at around 10 a.m. Moscow time (2 a.m. ET).
In a briefing in Kyiv Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Ukrainian officials had received a letter from the Russian side offering to organize a ceasefire and open humanitarian corridors.
However, she noted that the humanitarian corridors offered appeared to only open pathways to Russia and Belarus.
"Our people won't go to Belarus and to Russia," she said.
"As You saw in the morning Russian Federation spread the news about their humanism," she said. "This is an unacceptable variant of the humanitarian corridors opening."
Vereshchuk said Ukraine had sent its "own vision of humanitarian corridors to Russia" in response.
This dramatic video captured the moment Russian mortar shells were fired near the bridge used by people fleeing the fighting in Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday.
Macron keeps an open line to Putin as war in Ukraine rages
NICE, France — While most of the world is shunning President Vladimir Putin over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, one of the few leaders keeping an open line of communication is French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron’s diplomatic efforts to prevent the war failed, but he’s not giving up: the two men have spoken four times since Russian forces attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24, and 11 times over the past month.
The French leader, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency, is now one of the few outsiders with a view into Putin’s mindset at the time of the largest military invasion in Europe since World War II. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is also becoming a mediator, meeting Putin on a surprise visit to Moscow on Saturday and speaking with him again by phone on Sunday.
Macron’s relentless push for dialogue reflects France’s post-World War II tradition of carving out its own geopolitical path and its refusal to blindly follow the United States.
After Russian troops pushed deep into Ukraine, Macron’s resolve to maintain communication channels with Putin is providing Western allies with insight into the Russian leader’s state of mind, his intentions on the battlefield and at home in Russia as the Kremlin cracks down on opponents.
Russia likely targeting Ukrainian communications facilities to block access to news, British defense ministry says
Russia is likely targeting Ukrainian communications facilities in a bid to block the country's citizens from accessing news and information, Britain's defense ministry has said.
In an intelligence update on Monday, the defense ministry said it appeared that Russia was "probably targeting" Ukraine's communications infrastructure to "reduce Ukrainian citizens' access to reliable news and information."
The defense ministry noted reports of Russia striking a TV tower in Kharkiv on Sunday, "suspending broadcasting output." It noted that the apparent incident followed a similar strike on a TV tower in Kyiv on March 1.
"Ukrainian internet access is also highly likely being disrupted as a result of collateral damage from Russian strikes on infrastructure," Britain's defense ministry said. It also noted that over the past week, internet outages have been reported across Ukraine, including in Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv and Kharkiv.