Live updates: Biden to meet with NATO leaders next week
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says he’s convened a summit for next week of the military organization’s 30 leaders to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Stoltenberg says the March 24 summit will be led by U.S. President Joe Biden and “will address the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defense in response to a new reality for our security.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden will travel to Brussels for the face-to-face talks with European leaders.
The trip follows on Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to eastern flank NATO countries of Poland and Romania last week to discuss with leaders the growing refugee crisis in eastern Europe sparked by the Russian invasion and to underscore the Biden administration’s support for NATO allies.
Stoltenberg said in a statement Tuesday that “at this critical time, North America and Europe must continue to stand together in NATO.” NATO has been bolstering its eastern flank with troops and equipment to deter Russia from invading any of its members. NATO refuses to deploy troops to Ukraine as it is concerned about sparking a wider war in Europe.
HERE ARE TODAY’S KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Russia has stepped up its bombardment of Kyiv, as a series of strikes hit a residential neighborhood in the capital city
— The leaders of three European Union countries have planned a bold visit to Kyiv
— Fox News says one of its video journalists was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by incoming fire
— Mariupol officials say 2,000 civilian cars have managed to leave the besieged Ukrainian port city via a humanitarian corridor leading west
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
An employee of Russian state television who interrupted a live news program by protesting the war in Ukraine was ordered to pay a fine by a Russian court Tuesday.
Marina Ovsyannikova, an employee of the Russian Channel 1, walked into the studio during Monday’s evening news show with a poster saying “no war” and “Russians against the war.”
In a video recorded before her action, Ovsyannikova said that her father is Ukrainian and her mother Russian. She urged Russians to join anti-war protests and said that “Russia is the aggressor country and one person, Vlaidmir Putin, solely bears responsibility for that aggression.”
Ovsyannikova spent the night in police custody, and Moscow’s Ostankino District Court on Tuesday ordered Ovsyannikova to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles (about $270) on charges of organizing unsanctioned actions for her call to take part in demonstrations against the war.
BRUSSELS — The European Union has slapped sanctions on Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich as part of a new package of measures targeting Russia.
The EU included the Russian oligarch in its updated list of individuals facing assets freeze and travel bans over their role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The 55-year-old Abramovich had already been punished in Britain by Boris Johnson’s administration last week. The aluminum magnate was among seven wealthy Russians who had their assets frozen under British sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich has also been suspended as director of the Premier League club.
The EU said Abramovich “has had privileged access to the president, and has maintained very good relations with him. This connection with the Russian leader helped him to maintain his considerable wealth.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry says Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, Defense Minister Anita Anand and other Canadian officials have been put on a sanctions list.
The ministry said in Tuesday’s statement that they have been barred from entering Russia in retaliation to Canadian sanctions against the Russian leadership. The Russian sanctions also targeted Canadian lawmakers.
The ministry said the decision was a forced move taken in response to “hostile actions by the current Canadian regime that has long tested our patience.” The decision followed the announcement of Russian sanctions against U.S. President Joe Biden and senior members of his administration.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is withdrawing from the Council of Europe.
The ministry said it handed a formal notice about Russia’s decision to leave the continent’s leading human rights organization to the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić on Tuesday.
It said the move followed the Council of Europe’s decision to suspend Russia’s membership that was taken on Feb. 25.
The ministry charged that the Council of Europe has become an instrument of exerting pressure on Russia and alleged that it has been heavily influenced by NATO and the European Union. It said in a statement that its withdrawal from the Council of Europe wouldn’t impact human rights and freedoms in the country, which officials said are safeguarded by the Russian constitution.
Russia’s invasion has sparked widespread allegations of war crimes, as hundreds of Ukrainian civilians have been killed and numerous residential areas have been targeted by Russian troops.
The Kremlin says that President Vladimir Putin has discussed the situation in Ukraine with European Council President Charles Michel.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin informed Michel about the Russian view of the talks with Ukraine in Tuesday’s call, adding that Ukrainian officials haven’t yet “demonstrated a serious intention to search for mutually acceptable solutions.”
Michel said on Twitter that he told Putin about the “urgent need to stop Russia’s fratricidal war against Ukraine” and emphasized that “indiscriminate shelling by Russian forces of Ukraine civilians must stop.” He added that “Russia must urgently enable humanitarian access and safe passage.
WARSAW — During a news conference with foreign journalists on Monday in Warsaw, Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said that while solidarity for Ukrainian refugees remains strong, steps must be taken to avoid a backlash.
More than 1.8 million refugees have fled to Poland. Around 390,000 people have traveled to Warsaw, where 300,000 displaced Ukrainians remain. Warsaw has become a major transfer point for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion. Its central train station has become a hub for people awaiting transport further West.
“I need to take care of the normal functioning of the city, because the more problems we have, the more our attention is diverted to other issues for longer, then we will start having problems in schools and hospitals and elsewhere,” he told reporters.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Another flight from Belgrade to Moscow has received a bomb threat that turned out to be false, Serbia’s police said Tuesday.
Unlike two other threats since Friday, this time it came before the plane took off. On Friday and Monday, the aircraft had to turn back shortly after takeoff for inspection.
The police said Tuesday they are investigating the third false claim in five days.
Serbian state media say the threatening emails came from Ukraine.
Besides Turkish carriers, Serbia’s national airline AirSerbia is the only airline in Europe still flying to and from Russia.
Serbia, which formally seeks European Union membership but has maintained close relations with ally Russia, has refused to join an international flight ban against Moscow in response to the war in Ukraine.
UNITED NATIONS — Russia has circulated a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution demanding protection for civilians “in vulnerable situations” in Ukraine and safe passage for humanitarian aid and people seeking to leave the country — but it makes no mention of Russia’s responsibility for the war against its smaller neighbor.
The draft resolution released Tuesday expresses “grave concern” at the deteriorating humanitarian situation and reports of civilian casualties in and around Ukraine. It endorses U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for dialogue and negotiations and calls for a negotiated cease-fire to rapidly evacuate “all civilians,” and underscores “the need for the parties concerned to agree on humanitarian pauses to this end.”
The draft, which never identifies “the parties concerned,” could be put to a vote as early as Wednesday, according to a Russian diplomat who was not authorized to speak publicly because discussions have been private.
The Russian measure was circulated a day after France and Mexico announced that a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine they co-sponsored, which had been discussed for two weeks in the Security Council, was being moved to the 193-member General Assembly for discussion and a vote.
That draft resolution called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and deplored the dire humanitarian consequences of the hostilities in Ukraine, provisions which are not in the proposed Russian resolution. The France-Mexico resolution would almost certainly have led to a Russian veto in the Security Council, but there are no vetoes in the General Assembly.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters that his country is prepared to support a humanitarian resolution and after Monday’s announcement by the French and Mexican ambassadors Russia thinks “the chances are still there,” so he was putting forward its “roadmap” and will see whether the council adopts it.
Associated Press Writer Edith Lederer contributed to this report.
TORONTO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Canadians to imagine bombs landing in their communities as he told the Canadian Parliament that his people want to live.
Zelenskyy urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian lawmakers to help enact a no-fly zone over the Ukraine and called for greater economic pressure on Russia.
“Justin, can you imagine you and your children hearing all these severe explosions, the bombing of the airport, the bombing of the Ottawa airport,” Zelenskyy said. “Cruise missiles are falling down and your children are asking you, ‘What happened?’”
Speaking by video from Ukraine to a packed Canadian House of Commons chamber, Zelenskyy said the Russian war is designed to annihilate Ukraine and subjugate its people.
Zelenskyy evoked British wartime leader Winston Churchill as he told the U.K. Parliament last week that his country would fight Russia’s invasion to the end. Zelenskyy will also speak Wednesday to members of the U.S. House and Senate, an event that will be livestreamed for the public.
MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — In Mykolaiv, a southern Ukraine city bordering the Black Sea, walls of sandbags with mannequins for decoys are placed at checkpoints. A high sandbag wall protects the front of a building serving as a support center for the military.
Rodyin Lavrushin is a volunteer at the center. He lifted a tarp covering plastic crates filled with Molotov cocktails.
“Here we collect everything from food to clothes and military specifics and help our military because the Russian occupiers came here to our home and we will protect it to the end.” Lavrushin said Monday.
Mykolaiv resident Svetlana Gryshchenko said her son was killed Feb. 26 in the Donetsk region.
“He went there to the military command,” Gryshchenko said. “He was a soldier and he’d just turned 24. He went there to work (with the military), not to fight.”
“What is happening now in Mykolaiv cannot be described through words,” Gryshchenko said. “We are bombed during the day and during the night. We are peaceful citizens, and I cannot put it into words. It is impossible to put into words. It’s a nightmare what Russia is doing on the territory of Ukraine.”
Outside the Mykolaiv city morgue, bodies placed in plastic bags lie on the ground because the building had no room for more of the dead.
NEW YORK — Fox News says one of its video journalists was killed in Ukraine when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by incoming fire.
The network said Tuesday that videographer Pierre Zakrzewski was killed in an incident that also injured reporter Benjamin Hall, who remains hospitalized. Their injuries occurred Monday in Horenka, outside of Kyiv.
Zakrzewski was a veteran journalists who had covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria for Fox. Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media, said in a memo to staff members on Tuesday that “his passion and talent as a journalist were unmatched.”
He won an internal award at Fox for helping to get freelancers and their families out of Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal last year.
He was the second journalist killed in Ukraine in two days, following the death of documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the 30-nation military alliance is set to radically change its security posture in Europe in the future in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its military integration with Belarus, create a new security reality on the European continent,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday, on the eve of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
“We need to reset our military posture for this new reality,” he told reporters. Stoltenberg said the ministers, led by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, would discuss possible changes on Wednesday.
“On land, this could include substantially more forces in the eastern part of the alliance, at higher readiness, and with more prepositioned equipment,” Stoltenberg said.
In recent years, NATO has deployed a relatively small force of around 5,000 troops to the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – and Poland on a rotating basis to deter Russia from invading.
Stoltenberg says he expects the ministers will task NATO military commanders to come up with options for boosting security in eastern Europe for the alliance’s leaders to choose among at their June summit.
NEW YORK — Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says the country aims to spend around 1 trillion rubles ($9 billion) on measures to support an economy hit by international sanctions.
Mishustin said the government would work with other ex-Soviet countries to reshape their trade relationships with a focus on helping Russia to get the imports it needs.
Mishustin said the measures aim to “ensure the maximum flexibility for the economy, remove internal restrictions on business and give more freedom to entrepreneurs.”
Russia’s economy has been disrupted after foreign companies in a wide range of industries suspended their operations in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
The government’s responses so far have included programs to support lending to businesses, suspending some regulatory processes and restricting exports of grain and sugar.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is praying for the people of Kyiv as Russia steps up its bombardment of the Ukrainian capital.
The Vatican said Tuesday that Francis had received a letter from the Kyiv mayor, inviting him to visit the city as a messenger of peace. The Vatican didn’t say if Francis had responded or was considering a visit.
Such a trip would be highly unlikely given security concerns, Francis’ efforts to maintain relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican’s tradition of quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy.
In a statement responding to the Kyiv city invitation, Holy See spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Francis was spiritually close “to the suffering of the city, its people, to those who were forced to flee and those who are called to run it. He prays to the Lord that they are protected from violence.”
The March 8 letter invited Francis to visit Kyiv or to participate in a virtual conference of religious leaders. “We appeal to you, as a spiritual leader, to show your compassion, to stand with the Ukrainian people by jointly spreading the call for peace,” the letter read.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is concerned that Russia might be trying to create a pretext to use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Russia’s “absurd claims” about biological labs and chemical weapons in Ukraine are “an absolute lie.”
“This is just another lie. And we are concerned that Moscow could stage a false flag operation, possibly including chemical weapons,” he told reporters in Brussels.
Stoltenberg says that any use of chemical weapons by Russia would be a violation of international law but he refused to say whether it would be a red line that might draw a military response from NATO.
MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry says that U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other top Biden administration officials have been put on the Russian sanctions list.
The ministry said in Tuesday’s statement that the measure is a response to the U.S. sanctions against the Russian leadership.
At the same time, it noted that Russia may not renounce official contacts with the U.S. officials targeted by the sanctions if such contacts are in the country’s national interests.
ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s foreign minister says an operation to evacuate the country’s consul general from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is underway.
The consul general, Manolis Androulakis, was being evacuated along with staff from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and their families, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said. Androulakis had been sheltering in the OSCE building in the city.
Greece had been trying for days to evacuate its consul general from the city, where the siege has left residents desperately short of food, water, medicine and heat. Earlier this month, Greek diplomats arranged an evacuation convoy from the city of more than 20 vehicles and more than 80 people, mostly members of the local Greek community in Mariupol. That convoy reached Moldova after three days.
PRZEMSYL, Poland — Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, collected food and snacks on Tuesday from volunteers after arriving at the train station in Przemsyl, Poland.
Marina Solonenko, 35, arrived with her children from the eastern city of Kharkiv. She said they are headed to Germany but want to eventually return home “only when it gets quiet.”
“It is very scary in Kharkiv,” she said, struggling to maintain her composure. “Everything is bombed. The city is destroyed. There are no buildings or houses. The center of the city has been destroyed. They hit the residential districts. Everything has disappeared. Many people are leaving. In Kharkiv, only quarter of the population remains.”
Natalia Zhelazna, a refugee from Ternopil in western Ukraine, said, “We live near the airport and it is a little bit scary. Nobody knows when something will happen. That’s why we decided to leave, some people will find shelter for us. Children need good sleep and normal education.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the country realizes that it can’t join NATO.
Speaking Tuesday to representatives of the U.K.-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), Zelenskyy said that “we heard for years about the allegedly open doors” of NATO, but “we have already heard that we won’t be able to join.” He added that “it’s the truth we must recognize, and I’m glad that our people are starting to realize that and count on themselves and our partners who are helping us.”
The JEF may consist of Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.
Zelenskyy again urged Western allies to provide Ukraine with warplanes.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s parliament has voted to extend martial law for another month.
Acting on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request, Ukrainian lawmakers voted Tuesday to extend the martial law for another 30 days starting March 26.
Under the measure, men between 18 and 60 are barred from leaving the country so they can be called up to fight in the war against Russia. Lawmakers approved a draft bill Zelenskyy sent to parliament prolonging the measure, which was set to expire March 26.
KYIV, Ukraine — An adviser to the Ukrainian president says that the Ukrainian and Russian negotiators are discussing a cease-fire and Russian troops’ withdrawal during their talks.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is taking part in Tuesday’s talks via video link, said on Twitter that “the talks are continuing,” adding that “general issues related to a settlement, a cease-fire and troops withdrawal from the country’s territory” are on the table.
Earlier Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow was pressing its demands for Ukraine to drop its bid to join NATO, take a neutral status and “demilitarize.”
BERLIN — Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace have blocked access to a Russian-owned oil refinery in Germany in protest at the war in Ukraine.
Dozens of activists attached themselves to railroad tracks at the PCK refinery Schwedt, northeast of Berlin, early Tuesday to stop the transport of oil they said originates from western Siberia.
The activists carried banners reading “Peace Not Oil” — a reference to Germany’s continued import of fossil fuels from Russia despite the Russian attack on Ukraine.
The refinery is estimated to account for 90% of the gasoline consumed in Berlin and the surrounding region of Brandenburg.
PCK is majority-owned by Russian oil giant Rosneft.
The German government has pledged to wean itself off Russian coal and oil by the end of the year.
STOCKHOLM — The Swedish government wants to reintroduce identity checks at borders because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to Europe’s “biggest and fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II.”
“The situation may become so serious that immediate measures need to be taken to maintain law and order and protect national security,” Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth said Tuesday.
Officials have therefore supported a proposal for a new temporary law that would enable authorities to check identities when traveling by bus, train and passenger ship to Sweden.
Sweden is haunted by a 2015 migration crisis and wants to avoid another large-scale influx of migrants. The Scandinavian nation then took in a record 163,000 people — the highest per capita of any European country.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — The city council of Mariupol says 2,000 civilian cars have managed to leave the besieged Ukrainian port city via a humanitarian corridor leading west.
The council said another 2,000 cars are in the city but waiting to leave along the route, which runs for more than 260 kilometers (160 miles) to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media the corridor would be open from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.
The council advised drivers to spend the night somewhere along the route rather than drive straight through, unless they are already close to Zaporizhzhia by evening.
It was not immediately clear if the total number of cars which had left was for Tuesday only, or if it included 160 cars which left the day before. The city council said nearly 300 people had arrived in Zaporizhzhia as of Tuesday morning, fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
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