AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Russian forces shell Ukraine’s No. 2 city and menace Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s second-largest city on Monday, rocking a residential neighborhood, and closed in on the capital, Kyiv, in a 40-mile convoy of hundreds of tanks and other vehicles, as talks aimed at stopping the fighting yielded only an agreement to keep talking.

The country’s embattled president said the stepped-up shelling was aimed at forcing him into concessions.

“I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday in a video address. He did not offer details of the hourslong talks that took place earlier, but said that Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery.”

Amid ever-growing international condemnation, Russia found itself increasingly isolated five days into its invasion, while also facing unexpectedly fierce resistance on the ground in Ukraine and economic havoc at home.

For the second day in a row, the Kremlin raised the specter of nuclear war, announcing that its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and long-range bombers had all been put on high alert, following President Vladimir Putin’s orders over the weekend.

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Russia slow to win Ukraine’s airspace, limiting war gains

WASHINGTON (AP) — In war, winning quick control of airspace is crucial. Russia’s failure to do so in Ukraine, despite its vast military strength, has been a surprise and may help explain how Ukraine has so far prevented a rout.

The standoff in the sky is among the Russian battle shortcomings, including logistical breakdowns, that have thrown Moscow off stride in its invasion.

Typically, an invading force would seek at the outset to destroy or at least paralyze the target country’s air and missile defenses because dominance of the skies allows ground forces to operate more effectively and with fewer losses. U.S. military officials had assumed that Russia would use its electronic warfare and cyber capabilities to blind and paralyze Ukraine’s air defenses and military communications.

A possible explanation for Russia’s failure to do so is that President Vladimir Putin built his war strategy on an assumption that Ukrainian defenses would easily fold, allowing Russian forces to quickly capture Kyiv, the capital, and crush Ukrainian forces in the east and south without having to achieve air superiority.

If that was the plan, it failed, although at this stage the conflict’s overall trajectory still seems to favor the larger, better equipped invading force. The invasion is less than a week old, and Russia still hasn’t committed to the battle the full force it had assembled on the border. A senior U.S. official said Monday that about one-quarter of the force hasn’t crossed into Ukraine.

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A free-for-all but no crippling cyberattacks in Ukraine war

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Russia has some of the best hackers in the world, but in the early days of the war in Ukraine, its ability to create mayhem through malware hasn’t had much of a noticeable impact.

Instead, it’s Ukraine that’s marshalled sympathetic volunteer hackers in an unprecedented collective global effort to make the Kremlin pay for making war on its neighbor. It’s a kind of cyber free-for-all that experts say risks escalating a moment already fraught with extraordinary danger after Russian President Vladimir Putin put his nuclear forces on alert.

So far, Ukraine’s internet mostly works, its president still able to rally global support via a smartphone, and its power plants and other critical infrastructure still able to function. The kind of devastating cyberattacks thought likely to accompany a large-scale Russian military invasion haven’t happened.

“It has not played as large a component as some people thought it might and it definitely has not been seen outside of Ukraine to the extent that people feared,” said Michael Daniel, a former White House cybersecurity coordinator. “Of course, that could still change.”

It’s not clear why Russia hasn’t landed a more powerful cyber punch. Russia might have determined that the impact wouldn’t be serious enough — Ukraine’s industrial base is far less digitized than in Western nations, for one. Or Russia might have determined that it couldn’t do serious harm to Ukraine without risking collateral impact outside its borders.

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UN climate report: ‘Atlas of human suffering’ worse, bigger

Deadly with extreme weather now, climate change is about to get so much worse. It is likely going to make the world sicker, hungrier, poorer, gloomier and way more dangerous in the next 18 years with an “unavoidable” increase in risks, a new United Nations science report says.

And after that watch out.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said Monday that if human-caused global warming isn’t limited to just another couple tenths of a degree, an Earth now struck regularly by deadly heat, fires, floods and drought in future decades will degrade in 127 ways, with some being “potentially irreversible.”

“The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” says the major report designed to guide world leaders in their efforts to curb climate change. Delaying cuts in heat-trapping carbon emissions and waiting on adapting to warming’s impacts, it warns, “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

Today’s children who may still be alive in the year 2100 are going to experience four times more climate extremes than they do now even with only a few more tenths of a degree of warming over today’s heat. But if temperatures increase nearly 2 more degrees Celsius from now (3.4 degrees Fahrenheit) they would feel five times the floods, storms, drought and heat waves, according to the collection of scientists at the IPCC.

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State of the Union: Amid disputes, common cause for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — They have argued viciously in Congress over just about everything: Whether the Capitol insurrection should be investigated or brushed aside. If the president’s choice for the Supreme Court should be the first Black woman. Even over whether or not to wear masks under the dome.

But as lawmakers gather for President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address amid the gravity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they have mustered a rare and remarkable bipartisan resolve, determined to hold the U.S. and its allies together in the defense of a Western-oriented democracy.

When Biden stands in the House chamber Tuesday evening, trying to make good on what until now has been a faltering attempt to resolve the nation’s bitter divisions, he may find that the threat from Russian President Vladimir Putin abroad has become the unexpected force pulling the U.S. political parties toward common purpose.

“I think you will see in the State of the Union, a strong bipartisan support for our president,” predicts Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a Biden ally.

The turn of events is both stunning and fragile. Foreign policy has not been the kind of bipartisan draw it was during the past century, when Congress and the White House worked together as the U.S. dominated the global stage. Factions on the right and left have broken off, most definitively over the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, creating oddball political alliances in the U.S. and chiseling away at a shared mission.

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AP PHOTOS: Exit out of Ukraine: escape by foot, train, car

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — By car, train, foot and — in at least one case — office chair, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian war refugees have sought safety in the bordering nations of Poland, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia and beyond.

The chaotic run for freedom was captured by Associated Press photographers as more than 520,000 people have been forced to flee the country during the Russian invasion.

The U.N. has estimated the conflict could produce as many as 4 million refugees with “devastating humanitarian consequences.”

As a seemingly endless column of cars lined up to cross into Moldova at the Mayaky-Udobne border point, some opted to walk alongside cars pulling luggage. Others walked toward borders bundled in heavy winter coats, gloves, warm hats — some with dogs in tow, others pulling baby strollers piled with bags of belongings.

There were emotional goodbyes as people parted at train stations and tearful reunions as family members embraced upon reaching one of the neighboring countries that has opened their borders to refugees.

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Man kills 3 children, 1 other, himself at California church

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A man shot and killed his three children, their chaperone and himself during a supervised visit with the kids Monday at a church in Sacramento, California, authorities said.

Deputies responding to reports of gunfire around 5 p.m. found five people dead, including the shooter, at the church in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood, said Sgt. Rod Grassmann with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.

The victims included three juveniles under 15 years old, Grassman said. He didn’t know their genders.

The shooter was estranged from the children’s mother, who had a restraining order against him, Sheriff Scott Jones said.

Investigators believe the shooting happened during a supervised visit with the children and the fourth victim was their chaperone, Jones said.

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US says it is expelling 12 Russian diplomats for espionage

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States announced Monday it is expelling 12 members of the Russian Mission at the United Nations, accusing them of being “intelligence operatives” engaged in espionage.

The Biden administration’s action came on the fifth day of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which has sparked condemnation from the United States and dozens of other countries.

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said in a statement that the Russian diplomats “have abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.”

The mission said the expulsions have been “in development for several months” and are in accordance with the United States’ agreement with the United Nations as host of the 193-member world body.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told The Associated Press, when asked his reaction to the U.S. saying the Russians were engaged in espionage: “They always do. That’s the pretext all the time when they announce somebody persona non grata. That is the only explanation they give.”

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Trump appeals ruling forcing him to testify in NY probe

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has appealed a judge’s decision requiring he answer questions under oath in New York state’s civil investigation into his business practices — a widely expected move that’s likely to prolong the fight over his testimony by months.

Lawyers for Trump and his two eldest children filed papers on Monday with the appellate division of the state’s trial court, seeking to overturn Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling. They argue ordering the Trumps to testify violates their constitutional rights because their answers could be used in a parallel criminal investigation.

In an eight-page ruling, Engoron set a March 10 deadline for Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., to sit for depositions. Lawyers for the Trumps asked the appellate court for a stay to spare them from questioning while it considers the matter.

The court did not set a date for arguments. It typically issues decisions several months after that, but could be inclined to rule on an expedited basis given the urgency of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation and the Trumps’ desire to swiftly overturn Engoron’s ruling.

A message seeking comment was left with James’ office. In a statement on Friday, as lawyers for the Trumps were preparing their appeal, the attorney general signaled she was ready for a long fight to get them to testify.

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Black female WWII unit recognized with congressional honor

BOSTON (AP) — The House voted Monday to award the only all-female, Black unit to serve in Europe during World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The 422-0 vote follows a long-running campaign to recognize the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. The Senate passed the legislation last year. The unit, known in short as the Six Triple Eight, was tasked with sorting and routing mail for millions of American service members and civilians. Only a half-dozen of the more than 850 members are still alive.

“It’s overwhelming,” Maj. Fannie Griffin McClendon, who is 101 and lives in Arizona, said when told of the vote. “It’s something I never even thought about it. I don’t know if I can stand this.”

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was credited with solving a growing mail crisis during its stint in England and, upon their return, serving as a role model to generations of Black women who joined the military.

But for decades, the exploits of the 855 members never got wider recognition. But that has changed, starting several years ago.


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