Latest Headlines

Live updates: US Embassy calls power plant attack war crime


By The Associated Press

The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

KYIV, Ukraine — The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is calling Russia’s attack on a nuclear plant a war crime.

“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant,” the embassy statement said. “Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further.”

Russian troops seized the plant Friday in an attack that set it on fire and briefly raised fears of a nuclear disaster. The blaze was extinguished and no radiation was released.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Russia’s action “nuclear terrorism” and appealed to the U.N. Security Council for action to safeguard Ukraine’s endangered nuclear facilities.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal appealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the EU to send representatives to all five of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. “This is a question of the security of the whole world,” he said in a nighttime video address.

___

HONOLULU — The Hawaii House of Representatives voted 47-1 to pass a resolution condemning Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and supporting U.S. economic sanctions on Russia.

“Ukraine is fighting to enjoy the same basic rights that Americans are promised at birth: free speech, security in a democratic society and equal protection under the law,” said Rep. Patrick Pihana Branco, a Democrat.

Many lawmakers wore blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, on Friday to show their support for the embattled country.

Rep. Dale Kobayashi, a Democrat, cast the lone vote against the measure.

“I just have not seen similar resolutions condemning us for our military aggression as the United States,” Kobayashi said.

Separately, the owner of Hawaii’s oil refinery decided to suspend purchases of Russian oil, which in recent years has accounted for up to a third of the crude consumed in the islands. Par Hawaii plans to meet the state’s fuel needs with other sources primarily from North and South America, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

___

KYIV, Ukraine — The head of Ukraine’s security council called on Russia to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the elderly to escape the fighting.

Oleksiy Danilov said Friday more than 840 children have been wounded in the war. A day earlier, the Ukrainian government put the death toll among children at 28.

He spoke ahead of the latest talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations, planned for this weekend.

“The question of humanitarian corridors is question No. 1.,” Danilov said on Ukrainian television. “Children, women, elderly people – what are they doing here?”

Russian troops have encircled and blockaded several large cities in the south of the country, including Mariupol, trying to cut Ukraine off from the Black and Azov seas.

Ukrainian officials have asked for help from the Red Cross in organizing corridors, describing the situation in the blockaded cities as “close to a catastrophe.”

___

WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will talk to U.S. senators on a video conference call Saturday morning, according to a person familiar with the invitation from the Ukrainian embassy.

All senators are invited to the call, according to the person, who requested anonymity to discuss the private invitation. The meeting will be the first time lawmakers have talked to the Ukrainian president since Russia invaded his country.

The call will come as Congress is considering a request for $10 billion in emergency funding, with money going toward humanitarian aid and security needs in the war-torn country. Approval could come as soon as next week.

___

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.

___

BERN, Switzerland — Switzerland’s financial regulator is taking steps to protect creditors of a commercial bank that’s tied to one of Russia’s biggest lenders.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, said Friday that Zurich-based Sberbank AG is “at risk of liquidity problems,” as a result of sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other nations on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

To protect creditors, FINMA has deferred the bank’s obligations from deposits by 60 days and banned the lender from making payments or transactions that are “not necessary for its operations as a bank.”

Sberbank, which specializes in commodity trade finance and has about 70 business clients, is reducing its business activities and has decided not to engage in any new business, FINMA said.

The regulator also said it will monitor the bank’s financial stability to ensure creditors are treated equally.

Sberbank AG is an indirect subsidiary of Sberbank Russia, which is one of the country’s two largest state-run banks.

The Russian bank was among those targeted last week by tough U.S. sanctions aimed at limiting their businesses internationally and over the weekend barred from the international SWIFT payment system.

__

KYIV, Ukraine — In a bitter and emotional speech, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it will fully untie Russia’s hands as it escalates its attack from the air.

“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” he said in a nighttime address. “The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”

On Friday, NATO refused to impose a no-fly zone, warning that to do so could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.

“All that the alliance was able to do today was to pass through its procurement system 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine. Perhaps so we could burn the Budapest Memorandum,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the 1994 security guarantees given to Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.

“You will not be able to pay us off with liters of fuel for the liters of our blood, shed for our common Europe.”

He said Ukrainians will continue to resist and have already destroyed Russia’s plans for a lightning invasion “having endured nine days of darkness and evil.”

“We are warriors of light,” he said. “The history of Europe will remember this forever.”

___

Ukraine is among the world’s largest suppliers of neon, a gas used in lasers that are the light source in the process of placing integrated circuits on computer chips. That worries auto industry executives, who fear that tight neon supplies could worsen a global chip shortage that already has forced production cuts and made vehicles scarce worldwide.

Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin says the company is monitoring the situation. “No one sees an imminent issue at the moment,” he said.

IHS Markit analyst Phil Amsrud, who follows automotive chips, said that when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, neon prices rose to the point where it was profitable for other countries to set up manufacturing. Those sources, including some in Africa, may be able to make up for production lost in Ukraine, he said.

But so far, shortages haven’t surfaced. “Consumers of neon have led us to believe it’s a threat, but at this point it’s not. We haven’t seen the direct impact of it,” Amsrud said.

___

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Friday that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Poland and Romania next week to meet with officials to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine and impact the war is having on the region.

Harris’ agenda for the March 9 to 11 visit to Warsaw and Bucharest is expected to center on economic, security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.

“The Vice President’s meetings will also focus on how the United States can further support Ukraine’s neighbors as they welcome and care for refugees fleeing violence,” said the vice president’s deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh.

President Joe Biden spoke on Friday with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.

Poland is assisting about 700,000 Ukrainians and others who have fled the war so far. The United States has also more than doubled its military presence in Poland, which is a member of NATO, to 9,000 troops in recent weeks.

___

WASHINGTON — Cogent, a major internet backbone company, is terminating its relationships with Russian customers, the company confirmed Friday.

“We’re concerned the Russians could use our network for either offensive cyberattacks or to spread disinformation,” said Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer said in an interview Friday, and added that the move was not because of sanctions the U.S. government placed on tech exports late last month. He said cutting off Russia was likely to hurt ordinary people’s ability to stream video.

Disconnecting the Russian customers won’t kick the country off the internet, but it could worsen their service, Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for the U.S. network management firm Kentik Inc., wrote in a blog post Friday. He said other internet traffic companies would have to fill in for Cogent. “A backbone carrier disconnecting its customers in a country the size of Russia is without precedent in the history of the internet and reflects the intense global reaction that the world has had over the invasion of Ukraine,” Madory said.

Madory said Cogent’s Russian customers included state telecom Rostelecom as well as two of Russia’s three major cellphone carriers.

Ukraine’s government on Monday had asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to effectively cut off Russia’s internet, because of Russian propaganda about the war and cyberattacks on Ukraine, but its request was rejected. Kicking Russia off the internet would not stop Russian hackers, who could find alternatives, but it would isolate the Russian public.

Andrew Sullivan, the head of the Internet Society, a non-profit dedicated to promoting an open internet, has pushed against calls to cut Russia off from the internet. “Cutting a whole population off the Internet will stop disinformation coming from that population — but it also stops the flow of truth, he wrote Wednesday.

___

Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Renault, Hyundai and Stellantis all halted production in Russia, with many saying they had run short of parts.

The war also forced automakers such as BMW and Volkswagen to cut production or shut down European factories due to a global shortage of computer chips, and because some of their parts came from Ukraine.

Many wouldn’t specify which parts are missing, but Volkswagen said it gets electrical wiring harnesses and numerous interior switches from Ukraine. In the auto business, one missing part can halt production.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said Friday that the company closed a plant near Moscow that it jointly operates with Mitsubishi due to sanctions and lack of parts. “The supply chain is completely disrupted,” he told reporters.

The rest of the company, he said, has not been affected yet because it generally doesn’t get parts from Eastern Europe.

If the war continues, though, more auto plants could close if companies find that some of their European parts suppliers get smaller components from Ukraine or Russia.

“I’m not excluding that because I know that with a longer pipe you can discover things a few days, if not a few weeks later,” said Tavares, who leads the world’s fourth-largest automaker. “I will need a couple of more weeks to see if something pops up, but so far it’s OK.”

___

After blocking Facebook, Russia’s state communications watchdog has quickly followed up by declaring a block on Twitter amid the tensions over the war in Ukraine.

The agency, Roskomnadzor, said Friday it cut access to Twitter in line with the Russian Prosecutor General’s office decision. The watchdog has previously accused Twitter of failing to delete the content banned by the Russian authorities and slowed down access to it.

READ MORE:  Omar Kelly: Todd Bowles requires to realize success with Buccaneers to generate favorable alter

The government is seeking to stifle independent voices about the invasion of Ukraine. The moves against Facebook and Twitter came shortly after officials prevented Russians from accessing reporting from the BBC, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Latvia-based website Meduza and the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

___

TORONTO — The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says it is temporarily suspending the work of all its journalists in Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation criminalizing reporting of the war in Ukraine that differs from the government line.

The CBC says the legislation “appears to criminalize independent reporting on the current situation in Ukraine and Russia.” The BBC earlier made a similar announcement.

“In light of this situation and out of concern for the risk to our journalists and staff in Russia, we have temporarily suspended our reporting from the ground in Russia while we get clarity on this legislation,” CBC said in a statement.

CBC says it joins other media in standing up for a free press and unimpeded access to accurate, independent journalism in Ukraine and Russia.

The Russian parliament voted unanimously Friday to approve a draft law criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports. It was then quickly signed by President Vladimir Putin.

___

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto met Friday in the Oval Office to discuss the situation in Ukraine but did not directly address the issue of NATO membership. Finland is a “NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner” like its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden.

Biden thanked the Finnish president for the country’s help for Ukraine. “Finland is a critical partner to the United states, a strong defense partner, a partner to NATO.”

Niinisto thanked the U.S. for “leading in very difficult times.”

___

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday reiterated that the Biden administration remains resistant for now on banning Russian oil imports, raising concerns that such a ban could have a negative impact for U.S. and European economies. She added, however, that the administration was “looking at options we could take right now to cut U.S. consumption of Russian energy,”

Psaki also called on Russian forces to withdraw Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. Russian troops seized the plant earlier Friday.

“The best step for nuclear safety would be for Russia to immediately withdraw,” Psaki said.

___

UNITED NATIONS — Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador is accusing Russia of committing “an act of nuclear terrorism” by attacking the country’s largest nuclear power plant and is dismissing as “lies” his Russian counterpart’s claim that a “Ukrainian sabotage group” was responsible for setting fire to a training facility at the plant.

Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that as a result of Russian shelling on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, a fire broke out killing and injuring several people.

The plant is currently under control of the Russian armed forces, he said, and “it is alarming that several employees responsible for maintaining nuclear security at the site have reportedly been killed by Russian soldiers,” and “there has been no rotation of personnel since yesterday morning.”

While there have been no changes in radiation levels, Kyslytsya said several buildings are damaged and the telephone connection to the plant “is disrupted and not available at the moment.”

Describing the state of the plant’s nuclear power facilities, he said, Unit One “is in outage, its main building is damaged” and “the overpass of the special building is damaged.” Units Two and Three “have been disconnected from the grid” and are being cooled down, Unit Four is in operation at 690 megawatts power, and Units Five and Six are being cooled down, he said.

Kyslytsya accused Russia of deliberately attacking the nuclear power site in violation of numerous international agreements and said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who blamed a “Ukrainian sabotage group,” may not be properly informed by his government.

___

LONDON — Britain is toughening up sanctions on Russian companies and wealthy individuals after criticism that it was too slow to act.

The Foreign Office said it would make it easier to slap sanctions on people and firms who have already been sanctioned by allies including the U.S., Canada and the European Union.

It also said it was tightening a new rule that requires overseas firms with assets in Britain to reveal their true owners — an attempt to crack down on money-laundering — by shortening the deadline for compliance from 18 months to 6 months,

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the changes, expected to be approved by Parliament next week, would give the U.K. “new powers in our arsenal to go further and faster” in sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s allies.

The British government is under pressure to hit the assets of more Russians in the U.K., which has long been a favored haven for ill-gotten wealth. The U.K. has imposed sanctions on fewer wealthy Russians than the European Union or the U.S.

___

BELGRADE, Serbia — Several hundred followers of right-wing groups in Serbia rallied in central Belgrade in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chanting “Russia, Russia,” the protesters on Friday held up Russian flags as organizers pledged wider demonstrations if Belgrade joins Western sanctions against Russia.

Mladen Obradovic, from Obraz, or Honor, organization, described Russian President Vladimir Putin as the “strongest and bravest statesman in the world.”

Obradovic added that “Russia seeks to liberate the world from the NATO threat.”

Serbia has criticized the attack on Ukraine but has refused to impose sanctions against its traditional Slavic and Orthodox Christian ally Russia. Many Serbs view Russia as a friendly nation and believe it has been wrongly vilified by the West.

Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic has complained of alleged Western pressure on his government over ties with Russia. The Balkan nation formally is seeking European Union membership but has maintained close relations with Moscow and with China.

___

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill introducing a prison sentence of up to 15 years for spreading information that goes against the Russian government’s position on the war in Ukraine.

The bill criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports about the war was quickly rubber-stamped by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled parliament earlier Friday.

Russian authorities have repeatedly decried reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as “fake” reports. State media outlets refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” rather than a “war” or “invasion.”

The law envisages sentences of up to three years or fines for spreading what authorities deem to be false news about the military, but the maximum punishment rises to 15 years for cases deemed to have led to “severe consequences.”

Also Friday, the state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, blocked Facebook and five foreign media organizations based abroad which publish news in Russian in a sweeping action to establish tight control over information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

___

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the European nations to support his country’s fight against the invading Russian military.

Zelenskyy appeared on video as he addressed thousands of people protesting the war in several European cities, naming among them Paris, Prague, Lyon, Frankfurt and others. He asked the big crowds not to be silent about what’s going on in his country.

“Don’t turn a blind eye on this,” he said. “Come out and support Ukraine as much as you can,” he said though a translator.

“If we fall, you will fall,” he said.

“And if we win, and I’m sure we’ll win, this will be the victory of the whole democratic world, this will be the victory of our freedom, this will be the victory of light over darkness, of freedom over slavery. And if we win we will become as blossoming as Europe. And Europe will be flourishing more than ever,” he said.

“All of you are Ukrainians today, thank you for this.”

___

MOSCOW — Russia’s defense minister has spoken to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about humanitarian corridors in Ukraine.

Sergei Shoigu told Guterres in Friday’s call that the Russian military has created safe corridors for civilians to exit areas blocked by the Russian troops but charged that Ukrainian “nationalists” have prevented them from leaving, according to the Defense Ministry readout. Shoigu alleged that “nationalist and neo-Nazi forces, which also include foreign mercenaries, have used civilians as shields,” a claim that couldn’t be independently verified.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators on Thursday held the second of two rounds of talks, reaching a tentative agreement on setting up safe corridors to allow civilians to leave besieged Ukrainian cities and the delivery of humanitarian supplies. They are yet to iron out detailed provisions for those corridors.

___

MOSCOW — Russia’s state communications watchdog has ordered to completely block access to Facebook in Russia amid the tensions over the war in Ukraine.

The agency, Roskomnadzor, said Friday it decided to cut access to Facebook over its alleged “discrimination” of the Russian media and state information resources. It said the restrictions introduced by Facebook owner Meta on the RT and other state-controlled media violate the Russian law.

A week ago, the watchdog announced “partial restrictions” on access to Facebook that sharply slowed it down, citing the platform’s moves to limit the accounts of several state-controlled Russian media. Facebook and Twitter have played a major role in amplifying dissent in Russia in recent years.

“Soon millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out,” said Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs. “We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services to they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action.”

The move against Facebook follows the blocks imposed Friday on the BBC, the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza as the government seeks to uproot independent sources of information about the invasion of Ukraine.

___

TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is heading to several European capitals next week where he will he discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and disinformation coming from the Kremlin.

Trudeau says he will have meetings in London, Berlin, Riga, Latvia and Warsaw, Poland. He says he is joining partners to stand against Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. Trudeau says Russia is reeling from strong and aligned sanctions that democracies around the world have employed.

___

BRUSSELS — Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major world powers say that those responsible for Russian military attacks on civilians in Ukraine must be held accountable for their crimes, amid reports of the use of cluster bombs and other banned munitions.

In a statement after talks in Brussels on Friday, the G7 ministers said they are “deeply concerned with the catastrophic humanitarian toll taken by Russia’s continuing strikes against the civilian population of Ukraine’s cities.”

READ MORE:  How Ford’s electric pickup can electricity your dwelling for 10 days

They underlined that “indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law,” and that they “will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians.”

The ministers also welcomed the investigations and evidence-gathering being done to establish what war crimes might have been committed in Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor has launched an investigation that could target senior officials believed responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide amid a rising civilian death toll and widespread destruction of property.

___

ROME — The head of the World Food Program says the U.N. organization is putting in motion systems to feed from 3 million to 5 million people inside Ukraine.

David Beasley told the Associated Press from Warsaw, Poland that they were putting together teams around Ukraine’s borders to reach “those who can’t get out, and those who are going to be needing food support immediately.” He said they were leasing warehouses, trying to figure out how much food they can potentially buy in Ukraine, how much can be brought from outside.

“No one would ever expect anything like this in Europe in this century,” Beasley said, adding that millions of Ukraine’s 43 million-strong population were either refugees or internally displaced.

He praised the response of Poles, who have been meeting fleeing Ukrainians at the border, ’making certain they’re getting hot meals, taking them to wherever they need to go,” calling it “really, really quite remarkable.”

___

UNITED NATIONS — The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says a “projectile” hit a building adjacent to a block of six reactors at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, sparking a fire that didn’t affect its operation, although he stressed there is nothing normal when military forces are in charge of the site.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council that the IAEA was informed by Russia a few days ago that its military forces were moving to take control of the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, similar to troops’ seizure last week of Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Grossi said the advance of Russian troops toward the perimeter of the nuclear power plant “was met with opposition and some group of civilians attacking the access to the plant.” Early Friday, he said, the IAEA “got information that a projectile had impact (sic) a building adjacent to the block of reactors, six of them.” He did not say who fired the projectile.

Grossi said Ukraine’s nuclear installations and facilities are important — four big sites and 15 reactors and associated facilities, plus the site at Chernobyl, which has a giant metal dome covering the destroyed reactor.

The IAEA chief reiterated his readiness to travel to Chernobyl “as soon as practicable” to consult with Ukrainian nuclear authorities and, when necessary, the Russian authorities in charge to ensure that basic principles of safety and security are maintained.

___

UNITED NATIONS — Russia’s U.N. ambassador is rejecting claims that its military forces attacked Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant as “simply untrue” and part of “an unprecedented campaign of lies and disinformation against Russia.” He claimed a “Ukrainian sabotage group” set fire to a training facility just outside the plant.

Vassily Nebenzia told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that the Russian military took control of the southeastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant located there on Monday.

After negotiations with the plant’s management, he said, an agreement was reached for the Russian military to guard the facility to ensure its security “to prevent the Ukrainian nationalist or other terrorist forces from taking advantage of the current situation to organize a nuclear provocation.”

Nebenzia said according to the Russian Ministry of Defense, on Thursday night a Russian mobile patrol in the area adjacent to the plant “was attacked by a Ukrainian sabotage group in order to provoke return fire.”

He said the patrol was attacked with heavy small arms fire from the windows of several floors of a training complex located just outside the nuclear plant and the Russians returned fire “and suppressed their fire.”

___

GENEVA — A top Russian diplomat insisted Friday that his country will not occupy Ukraine.

“The goal is very clear: Denazification and demilitarization,” Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador in Geneva, said of the invasion — which he called a “special military operation.”

“We are not going to stay in Ukraine militarily. We are not going to occupy this country,” he told the U.N. Geneva press association ACANU. “I don’t now all the details of the military plan, but the political goal is as I described it.”

He said the definition of “demilitarization” was being discussed in diplomatic talks between Ukrainian and Russian envoys.

“We want to secure — or to have guarantees — that the threat is not coming from Ukraine against the Russian Federation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to legitimize Russia’s moves in Ukraine by claiming a desire to “denazify” Ukraine, a country with a Jewish president who lost relatives in the Holocaust and who heads a Western-backed, democratically elected government. Historians see Putin’s invocation of World War II as disinformation and a cynical ploy to further the Russian leader’s aims.

___

MOTYZHYN, Ukraine — Footage shot near Kyiv shows the body of a woman alongside a vehicle, its windows shattered and its windshield wipers still swishing.

Petro Lytvyn, who lives near the site in Motyzhyn, said three people died amid shooting.

“Who was shooting we don’t know,” he said. A medic in town tried to reach the wounded but couldn’t. “We lost three. No one wants to pick them up from the car, maybe there is an explosive inside, so no one wants to approach it,” he said. Another vehicle with broken windows and a shorn-off front bumper holds a victim slumped over.

“I was scared the first three days,” said Olena Dovzhenko, who lives in the town. “Now we hear a little bit where there is shooting, who is fighting back and where. At the beginning, my heart was beating, I had panic attacks.”

___

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held separate calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Erdogan told Johnson that Turkey would continue to strive for an immediate cease-fire as well an an immediate end to Russia’s actions on Ukraine, according to a brief statement released from his office.

Erdogan and Zelenskyy discussed “Russia’s attacks and the latest developments” in Ukraine, his office said in a separate statement, but did not elaborate.

Turkey, which has close relations with both Ukraine and Russia, has been calling for a cease-fire to end the fighting.

___

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s government said on Friday it will issue temporary humanitarian visas and residency permits for Ukrainian nationals and other individuals who have been affected or displaced by the conflict with Russia.

The visas will be valid for 180 days and arriving Ukrainians can apply for residency permits lasting two years, according to the text published in the nation’s official gazette. Brazil will require, among other documents, a certificate attesting to the person’s clean criminal record.

Brazilian media have reported that the country has Latin America’s biggest population of Ukrainians and their descendants, ranging between 500,000 and 600,000, according to an estimate from Ukraine’s embassy.

___

LONDON — London’s Metropolitan Police force says its War Crimes Team is helping gather evidence for an International Criminal Court investigation into the Ukraine invasion.

Britain’s biggest police force appealed for people in Britain to come forward if they had “direct evidence of war crimes in Ukraine” between Nov. 21, 2013 and the present.

The 2013 date marks the start of protests against Ukraine’s Russia-leaning government and for closer ties with Europe. The following year, Russia annexed Crimea and intervened to support separatists in eastern Ukraine. Last week, Russian troops invaded the country en masse.

Commander Richard Smith, head of Metropolitan Police Counterterrorism Command, which includes the War Crimes Team, said evidence might include “direct messages, images or videos that friends or relatives here in the U.K. have been sent by those in Ukraine. Or it could be somebody who was previously in Ukraine and who may have witnessed or even been a victim of a war crime and has since travelled to the U.K.”

The force said evidence could be shared with the Hague-based court, which is investigating possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

___

GENEVA —The U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration said Friday that 1.25 million people had left Ukraine between the start of the invasion

Those figures were slightly higher than a count from UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, which has so far estimated that 1.2 million people have left the country since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24. A spokesman from IOM said its figures were slightly more up-to-date.

IOM, which focuses on all types of migrants — not just refugees — also provided new details about where the people fleeing were from: It reported that 78,800 “third-country nationals” — not Ukrainians — from 138 countries had left the country.

IOM said: “We have credible and verified information from partners and humanitarians present on borders with neighboring countries have documented discrimination against several third-country nationals arriving in neighboring countries. They have also documented act of xenophobia based on people’s race, ethnicity and nationality.”

___

LONDON — The BBC says it is temporarily suspending the work of all its journalists in Russia after the country’s lawmakers approved legislation criminalizing reporting of the war in Ukraine that differs from the government line.

Tim Davie, director-general of the British broadcaster, said the legislation “appears to criminalize the process of independent journalism.” He said the corporation was halting newsgathering work by its journalists and support staff in Russia “while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development.”

“The safety of our staff is paramount and we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs,” he said.

Davie said the BBC’s Russian-language news service would continue to operate from outside Russia.

The Russian parliament voted unanimously Friday to approve a draft law criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports. It could be signed by President Vladimir Putin and take effect as soon as Saturday.

___

MOSCOW — A Russian lawmaker has spoken out about what she says are heavy losses being suffered by some military units fighting in Ukraine.

Lyudmila Narusova, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, said during Friday’s livestreamed proceedings that she knew of one company which was meant to be 100 strong but “only four were left alive” when the unit was withdrawn.

Narusova, the widow of President Vladimir Putin’s former political mentor Anatoly Sobchak, did not present evidence for her claims and said the Defense Ministry had refused her request to confirm the reported casualties.

Russia said Wednesday 498 of its troops had been killed in Ukraine and has not updated that number since. Ukraine claims that the true number of Russian casualties is far higher.

___

Follow VFAB’s coverage of the tensions between Russia and Ukraine at

Related Articles

Back to top button