The Times of Israel liveblogged Friday’s events as they unfolded
A second Russian Ilyushin Il-76 military transport plane was shot down near Bila Tserkva, 50 miles (85 kilometers) south of Kyiv, according to two American officials with direct knowledge of conditions on the ground in Ukraine.
On Friday, Ukraine’s military said it had shot down a Russian military transport plane with paratroopers on board.
According to a statement from the military’s General Staff, the first Il-76 heavy transport plane was shot down near Vasylkiv, a city 25 miles south of Kyiv. The Russian military has not commented on either incident so far, and the reports could not be immediately verified.
A US official confirms Ukraine President Volodymyr rejected an offer from the American government to evacuate Kyiv.
A senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation quoted the president as saying that “the fight is here” and that he needed anti-tank ammunition but “not a ride.”
Zelensky’s whereabouts were being kept secret after told European leaders in a call Thursday that he was Russia’s No. 1 target — and that they might not see him again alive. His office later released a video of him standing with senior aides outside the presidential office and saying that he and other government officials would stay in the capital.
The US is ready to help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky leave Kyiv to avoid being captured or killed by advancing Russian forces, the Washington Post reports, citing American and Ukrainian officials.
However, Zelensky is refusing to leave the city or the country.
The report says the US is concerned about maintaining continuity of government in Ukraine and worried that if captured, he could be forced into concessions.
Zelensky put out a video early Saturday to say he was still in Kyiv and warned that Russia wanted to kill him.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s army said Saturday it had repelled a Russian attack on one of capital city Kyiv’s main avenues.
Russia “attacked one of the military units on Victory Avenue in Kyiv. The attack was repulsed,” Ukraine’s army said on its verified Facebook page, without specifying where exactly the incident took place.
"Ukraine At this moment there is heavy fighting in the Shulyavka neighborhood of the capital Kiev"
"The area is located 6.5 km from the Mariyinsky Palace
— Alexander Hansen (@AlexanderXV) February 26, 2022
Despite a request from the Biden administration to back a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel refrained from doing so, two diplomats familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel.
Eighty-one countries signed on to the resolution as co-sponsors, though the effort was ultimately vetoed by Russia.
Israel is one of the few countries that maintains relatively warm relations with both Ukraine, a fellow Western democracy, as well as Russia, which controls the airspace over Syria.
Jerusalem has relied on Moscow’s tacit approval for use of that airspace to carry out airstrikes against Iranian proxies just beyond its northern border.
While Israel has expressed concern regarding the invasion and offered humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided condemning Russia or even mentioning the country by name in his statements since the launching of the widespread military operation across Russia’s border.
But Israel’s effort to avoid aligning too closely with either side since the start of the invasion has led to Kyiv expressing disappointment, while Russia summoned Jerusalem’s envoy in Moscow to demand a clarification of the country’s stance.
The Israeli mission to the UN declined a request to comment.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military says it has shot down a Russian military transport plane with paratroopers on board.
According to a statement from the military’s General Staff, the Il-76 heavy transport plane was shot down near Vasylkiv, a city 40 kilometers south of Kyiv. The Russian military has not commented on the incident so far, and the report could not be immediately verified.
UNITED NATIONS—Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops.
Friday’s vote was 11-1, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. It showed significant but not total opposition to Russia’s invasion of its smaller, militarily weaker neighbor.
The United States and other supporters knew the resolution wouldn’t pass but argued it would highlight Russia’s international isolation. The resolution’s failure paves the way for backers to call for a swift vote on a similar measure in the UN General Assembly. There are no vetoes in the 193-member assembly. There’s no timetable as yet for a potential Assembly vote.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says on Saturday before dawn that Russian troops would attempt to take the capital city Kyiv during the night.
“Special attention on Kyiv –- we cannot lose the capital,” Zelensky said in a video address released by the presidency. “Tonight they will attempt a storm” of the capital, he added in an apparent reference to Kyiv.
Moscow says its relations with the West were close to a “point of no return” after several countries imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“We have reached the line after which the point of no return begins,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says on Russian television.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) February 25, 2022
For the second straight night, hundreds of Russian protesters have taken to the streets of St. Petersburg to protest President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
Last night, some 1,800 people were arrested, according to the Guardian, and additional arrests are already being reported at tonight’s demonstration as well.
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) February 25, 2022
Wall Street powered higher this afternoon as US traders snapped up equity bargains despite unease that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would drive commodity prices higher.
The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 2.5 percent higher at 34,058.75. The broad-based S&P 500 rose 2.2% at 4,384.65.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 1.6% higher at 13,694.62.
Western sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and top diplomat Sergey Lavrov are a sign of the West’s “impotency,” a Russian foreign ministry official says.
“Sanctions against the president and the foreign minister of a country are an example and a demonstration of the complete impotence of the foreign policy” of the West, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says on Russian television.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirms that the US will sanction the personal assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, following the European Union in taking the rare step.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says that “going after the head of state would be a significant, horrific act by Russian leadership,” as Moscow closes in on Kyiv where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is holed up.
Psaki says US President Joe Biden remains in contact with Zelesky, that the two had spoken earlier today and that the Ukrainian president plans on remaining in the country.
The UN plans to seek over $1 billion in donations for humanitarian relief in Ukraine over the next three months, the world body’s humanitarian chief says.
Martin Griffiths says at a news briefing that the exact amount of the appeal is still being decided but will be “well north of $1 billion.”
The UN announced Thursday that it was immediately allocating $20 million to expand its humanitarian operations in Ukraine. Even before Russia’s attack this week, the world body estimated about 3 million people were in need of aid after years of fighting between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian government in the country’s east.
Now, “the scale of need in these very, very extraordinary circumstances is going to be of the highest,” Griffiths says.
The UN issues multiple appeals each year for international donors, mainly governments, to finance humanitarian efforts in trouble spots around the world. Last month, it requested more than $5 billion for Afghanistan, the largest-ever appeal tied to a single country.
The United States has dismissed Russia’s offer of talks with Ukraine as not serious, and called on Moscow to show its commitment to diplomacy by withdrawing troops from the country.
After invading Ukraine, “now we see Moscow suggesting diplomacy take place at the barrel of a gun. This is not real diplomacy,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Serbia is defying calls from the European Union and the US to join sanctions against Russia, although its autocratic president said that Moscow’s assault against Ukraine is against international law.
With the move, Serbia remains a rare European state together with Belarus not to join Western sanctions introduced against Moscow for its invasion of a sovereign European state.
“Serbia respects the norms of the international law,” President Aleksandar Vucic said. “But Serbia also understands its own interests.”
Vucic said that Serbia regards the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity as “very wrong,” but added it won’t join international sanctions against Russia.
Despite formally seeking EU membership, Serbia has been strengthening ties with its traditional Slavic ally Russia. Moscow has been supplying Serbia’s armed forces with weapons, leading to more tensions in the Balkans which went through a bloody civil war in the 1990s.
Russian troops are bearing down on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
Mayor Vitaly Klitschko says five explosions hit an area near a major power plant on the city’s eastern outskirts. There was no information on the cause of the blasts, which Klitschko said occurred at intervals of several minutes. No electricity outages were immediately reported.
The invasion of a democratic country has fueled fears of a wider war in Europe and triggered worldwide efforts to make Russia stop.
Iran can resume production of highly enriched uranium “at any moment” if the US again pulls out of a nuclear deal with major powers, its atomic energy chief says.
Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was speaking as talks in Vienna on bringing Washington back into the 2015 agreement abandoned by president Donald Trump reach a critical stage.
The 2015 deal set a 3.67 percent limit for Iran’s uranium enrichment, sufficient for its power generation needs although not for some other civilian uses, such as the production of medical isotopes.
Since Trump abandoned the agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions, Iran has responded by producing uranium enriched to 60 percent, a level that has sparked Western concern although it still falls short of weapons grade.
Iran credits its response with bringing President Joe Biden’s administration back to the negotiating table for on-off talks that have now lasted 10 months.
“Enrichment can be done at any moment when (officials) decide or there is the will for it,” Eslami says on his organization’s website.
“If they [the US] do not fulfill their obligations, we will return to the previous situation.
“Enrichment is in place in the country with a maximum ceiling of 60 percent and this brought the West to negotiations.”
During the negotiations in Vienna, Iran has repeatedly called for guarantees from the Biden administration that there will be no repeat of Trump’s 2018 walkout, something that partisan divisions on Iran policy have effectively precluded.
US President Joe Biden lauds “uniquely accomplished” Supreme Court candidate Ketanji Brown Jackson Friday as he nominated her to be the first Black woman to serve on the court.
“She steps up to fill Justice (Stephen) Breyer’s place on the court with a uniquely accomplished and wide-ranging background,” Biden says in a White House address.
“She served both in public service, as a federal public defender, and in private law practice as an accomplished lawyer.”
Facebook’s parent company Meta says that Russia will hit its services with restrictions after the social media giant refused authorities’ order to stop fact-checkers and content warning labels on its platforms.
“Ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organize for action,” Meta’s Nick Clegg says in a statement. “We want to continue to make their voices heard.”
Witnesses report heavy artillery fire felt throughout Kyiv as Russian forces are surrounding Ukraine’s capital.
— C Schmitz (@chrisschmitz) February 25, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he had spoken with US President Joe Biden about military aid and sanctions, as his country faces down a Russian invasion.
“Strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed” with Biden, Zelensky writes on Twitter, adding that Ukraine was “grateful” for “strong” American support.
Russian airline S7 announces it was suspending all of its flights to Europe, citing sanctions imposed on Moscow over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Due to the closure of airspace by European countries, S7 Airlines has decided to cancel all flights to Europe from February 26 to March 13,” the company says in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.
The UN’s emergency relief coordinator called for “safe, unimpeded access” for aid workers to carry out humanitarian operations in Ukraine, after the Russian invasion.
“We need the safe, unimpeded access and protection of our humanitarian workers and the deliveries that they will be doing… as soon as the security allows it to all areas of Ukraine affected by conflict,” Martin Griffiths tells reporters.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells his NATO partners that he is planning “imminent” sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Downing Street says Johnson told his counterparts that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “catastrophe” and the Kremlin chief was “engaging in a revanchist mission to overturn post-Cold War order.”
Warning that Putin “may not stop there” and calling the situation a “Euro-Atlantic crisis with global consequences,” he urged leaders to cut Russia off from the SWIFT international bank transfer system “to inflict maximum pain.”
“The UK would introduce sanctions against President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov imminently, on top of the sanctions package the UK announced yesterday,” Downing Street says in a read-out of the meeting.
Pope Francis in a Russian language tweet denounces the ills of conflict on the second day of a large-scale Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
“Every war leaves our world worse than it was before. War is a failure of politics and of humanity, a shameful capitulation, a stinging defeat before the forces of evil,” he writes in separate English and Russian tweets.
Russia has summoned Israel’s Ambassador to Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi to clarify Israel’s position regarding the Ukraine invasion, Hebrew media reports.
The Foreign Ministry clarified that the conversation was not a reprimand or dress-down while acknowledging that there are disagreements between the sides.
Russia’s foreign ministry has issued a statement saying its Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held a meeting with Ben Zvi and that the sides discussed bilateral ties and the situation in Ukraine. Bogdanov stressed the “importance of preserving the historical truth about the Second World War.”
Russia has branded as “neo-Nazis” Ukraine’s political leadership, including its Jewish president Volodymyr Zelensky. Historians have seen the use of the Holocaust in Moscow’s PR campaign as disinformation and a cynical ploy to further the Russian leader’s aims.
“At the same time, the hope was expressed that Israel would treat with the necessary understanding the reasons that prompted the Russian leadership to decide to conduct a special military operation to protect civilians in Donbass and to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine,” the Russian foreign ministry says.
Israel has avoided taking a stance aligned too closely with either side. This is believed to be at least partly due to its need to work with the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.
Israel has expressed concern regarding the invasion and offered humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided condemning Russia or even mentioning the country by name in his statements since the launching of the widespread military operation across Russia’s border early Thursday morning.
However, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a far more clear condemnation, calling the invasion “a grave violation of the international order.”
Israeli officials told The Times of Israel that Bennett and Lapid’s responses were coordinated.
Russia’s Ambassador to Israel has struck a different tone, telling The Times of Israel earlier today that Moscow “hope[s] that Israel will continue [taking] a wise diplomatic approach.”
Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance and inflicting damage on Russia’s invading military as it seeks to push deeper into the country, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says.
“It is still a fluid situation. What we have seen is that the Ukrainian forces are fighting bravely and are actually able to inflict damage on the invading Russian forces,” Stoltenberg says after a video summit of NATO leaders.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is bolstering its defenses with troops and air power on its eastern flank in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He said allies had activated defense plans and “as a result … are deploying elements of the NATO Response Force on land, at sea and in the air,” including thousands more troops and over 100 jets put on high alert in 30 locations, he said.
Latvia’s foreign minister says the European Union has agreed to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov along with other sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
The move indicates that Western powers are moving toward unprecedented measures to force Putin to stop the brutal invasion of Russia’s neighbor and from unleashing a major war in Europe.
Foreign Minister Edgard Rinkevics announces the EU decision Friday in a tweet.
He said another package of sanctions is to be prepared by the EU.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for Israel to serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine during their phone call last night, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
This is not the first time Zelensky has made such a request, but it is the first time he has done so since Russia began invading Ukraine early Thursday morning.
Israel is one of the few countries that holds relatively warm ties with both Russia and Ukraine.
“We want the negotiations to take place in Jerusalem,” Kan quotes Zelensky as having told Bennett, expressing home that he could help negotiate a ceasefire. “We think that Israel is the country that could hold such negotiations in the middle of the war.”
The Kan report, relying on sources familiar with the call, did not say what Bennett’s response was, and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky posts a new video of himself and his team outside the presidential headquarters in Kyiv, responding to rumors being spread by Russian media that he had fled the country.
“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine,” he says.
⚡️Ukraine’s Zelensky posts a new video of himself and his team outside the presidential administration in Kyiv’s government quarter after rumors in Russian media that he’d fled. “We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/bgHyrsbVFs
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) February 25, 2022
European stocks closed sharply higher today, wiping away much if not all of the losses suffered the previous day when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
Paris closed 3.6 percent higher, Frankfurt 3.7 percent and London 4.0 percent as Western sanctions on Russia were not as severe and disruptive as markets had anticipated.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant reported higher-than-usual radiation levels after being taken over by Russian forces invading Ukraine.
But it said Friday that current radiation levels do not pose a threat to the public.
Ukraine’s regulatory authority previously said that increased radiation levels may be due to military vehicles stirring up soil that remains contaminated from the accident in 1986, still known as the worst nuclear disaster in history.
But the measures are “within the operational range measured in the Exclusion Zone since it was established,” according to the IAEA.
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is a 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) area of forest lying between the Belarus-Ukraine border and the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Russian forces took control over the site Thursday after a fierce battle with Ukrainian national guards protecting the plant.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense says the bulk of Russian forces advancing on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv are more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the center of the city.
The ministry says it continues to monitor “sporadic clashes’’ between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the northern suburbs of the capital.
The intelligence update, delivered via Twitter, also said that armored units were forced to open a new route toward Kyiv after failing to capture Chernihiv, a city northeast of the capital near the Belarusian border.
More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled the country in the last 48 hours, according to the United Nations.
A 25-year-old man has been shot in the northern Arab town of Taibe.
Magen David Adom medics who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting were forced to pronounce Muhammad Hossam Haj Yahya dead shortly thereafter.
מוחמד חוסאם חאג' יחיא, בן 26, נורה למוות pic.twitter.com/gAJvX01O4L
— udi mizrahi (@udimiz) February 25, 2022
The European Broadcasting Union announces that Russia has been banned from participating in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
The EBU says its board made the decision “based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU.”
“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” the EBU says in a statement.
The EBU has issued the statement below regarding Russia's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022
— EBU (@EBU_HQ) February 25, 2022
The Kremlin says prospects for possible peace talks between Russia and Ukraine look uncertain due to apparent differences over a venue.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to send a delegation for talks with Ukrainian officials in Minsk, Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko runs a pro-Russian government.
That agreement came in response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s offer earlier in the day to discuss non-aligned status for Ukraine.
Peskov told reporters that after the parties discussed Minsk as a possible venue, Ukrainian officials changed course and said they were unwilling to travel to Minsk and would prefer to meet in NATO member Poland. They then halted further communication, Peskov says.
Putin has claimed that the western refusal to heed Russia’s demand to keep Ukraine out of NATO prompted him to order an invasion of the neighboring country.
US President Joe Biden joins an emergency NATO summit to strengthen the frantic Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fears for the security of Europe.
The US president, who has spent weeks trying to lead a united trans-Atlantic response to Russia’s aggression against its neighbor, was meeting “with fellow NATO heads of state and government in an extraordinary virtual summit to discuss the security situation in and around Ukraine,” the White House says.
The meeting, with Biden joining from the White House Situation Room, is not open to the media.
It comes as Russian troops entered parts of the capital Kyiv after assaulting Ukraine from multiple directions and Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the ouster of the country’s government.
The Council of Europe says that it is suspending all representatives of Russia from participation in the pan-European rights body over Moscow’s attack against Ukraine.
Permanent representatives of its 47 member states “agreed to suspend the Russian Federation from its rights of representation in the Council of Europe,” invoking Article 8 of its statute, the body says in a statement.
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov tells The Times of Israel that Moscow hopes “Israel will continue [taking] a wise diplomatic approach.”
Viktorov offers the remarks in response to a query regarding Russia’s position on Israel’s response to the Ukraine invasion.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett avoided condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine — or even mentioning Russia by name — in his statement yesterday on the incursion. Instead, he expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and extended an offer to send humanitarian aid to Kyiv. The Thursday remarks were a stark contrast from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s condemnation of Russia only hours before.
Lapid called the invasion “a grave violation of the international order,” in Jerusalem’s harshest and most direct condemnation of Moscow since the crisis in Eastern Europe began.
A diplomatic official said Bennett’s decision to avoid mentioning Russia in his remarks was deliberate and coordinated with Lapid.
The more reserved stance by Bennett is believed to be at least partly due to its need to work with the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria.
“We took note of Israel’s position,” Viktorov tells The Times of Israel. “Our Israeli colleagues have repeatedly spoken about their concern for the safety of their citizens and the Jewish community in Ukraine.”
“At the same time, once again, we hope that they will stay wise and diplomatic and continue our joint work for the benefits of our countries and peoples,” he adds, cautioning Israel against joining “a new kind of sport” of Russia bashing.
Viktorov says Russia handed over “a number of materials” to Israel that explain Moscow’s reasoning behind the invasion.
“They include the evidence of the guilt of the Ukrainian military-political leadership of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity aimed at their own people; facts of human rights violations, discrimination, war crimes and ethnocide conducted by Ukrainian government in Donbass; list of facts confirming Kiev’s withdrawal from the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements of 12 February 2015 and others,” Viktorov says.
The Israeli Communist Party Maki issues a statement calling for Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, but more notably, condemns what it claims to be the “NATO aggression” as playing a role in causing the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
Maki, which is a faction within the joint Jewish-Arab Hadash party, itself a part of the Joint List, is the first slate in the Knesset to condemn the US since the start of the Ukraine invasion.
“Maki condemns the NATO aggression that is serving the warmongering United States,” the party says.
“Anyone who ignores the US provocation through NATO is wrong and misleading. They have placed missiles aimed at Moscow in Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and more.”
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar claims the Russian army has lost 2,800 servicemen and 80 tanks during their assault on Ukraine.
Reuters reports that Malyar wrote on Facebook that the Russian army has also lost some 516 armored combat vehicles, 10 aircraft and seven helicopters as of 3 p.m. local time.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says Warsaw will ban all Russian airlines from using its airspace starting at midnight.
“I have ordered the preparation of a resolution of the council of ministers which will lead to the closure of the airspace over Poland to Russian airlines,” Morawiecki writes on Facebook, according to Reuters.
Ukrainian cybersecurity officials say another hacking campaign targeting the private email addresses of Ukrainian military officials has begun, according to Reuters.
Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) says the hackers were breaking into Ukrainian soldiers’ email accounts and using compromised address books to send further malicious messages, Reuters says.
France is in favor of excluding Russia from the global SWIFT interbank system but other European states have “reservations” about using such a “financial nuclear weapon,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire says.
“Some (European Union) member states have shown reservations, France is not one of these states,” Le Maire tells reporters after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Paris, adding that SWIFT exclusion would be weighed “not in the coming days or weeks, but in the coming hours.”
The International Olympic Committee, angry at the Russian invasion of Ukraine breaching the “Olympic Truce,” is urging all international sports federations to cancel their forthcoming events in Russia.
“The IOC EB (executive board) today urges all international sports federations to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus,” reads the IOC statement.
“They should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin calls on the Ukrainian army to overthrow the country’s leadership whom he described as “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”
Addressing the Ukrainian military in a televised address, he urges them to “take power in your own hands.”
“It seems like it will be easier for us to agree with you than this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis,” he said, referring to leadership in Kyiv led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says new sanctions against Russia would personally punish President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for their responsibility in the invasion of Ukraine.
“They are responsible for the death of innocent people in Ukraine. They are responsible that the international system is trampled and we as Europeans do not accept that,” Baerbock said as she arrived for talks in Brussels.
At least 10,624 Ukrainians fled to Romania through the six border crossings between the two countries amid Russia’s invasion yesterday, Romanian Interior Minister Lucian Bode says, according to Reuters.
Bode says 3,660 of them passed through Romania on their way to Bulgaria and Hungary. Of the roughly 7,000 who stayed, only 11 requested political asylum, Reuters reports. The remainder are allowed to stay for 90 days without making such a request.
Some 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes since the start of the current conflict, according to the UN.
Moldova’s national naval agency says a ship in “neutral waters” of the Black Sea has been hit by a missile, leaving two crew members seriously injured.
The Naval Agency said in a statement that the source of the missile that hit the Moldova-flagged Millennial Spirit on Friday is unknown.
“A fire broke out onboard the ship; the equipment and lifeboats were destroyed,” the agency said in a statement. “The ship’s crew left the ship equipped only with life jackets.”
The agency said that the company that operates the tanker is a Ukrainian legal entity and the crew members are Russian citizens.
Rescue operations were carried out by Ukrainian authorities, the Moldovan agency said.
A bloc of 10 northern European defense allies, which includes the Baltic states, agreed on a call today that further sanctions were needed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, the UK says.
“The leaders agreed that more sanctions were needed, including focusing on (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin’s inner circle, building on the measures that had already been agreed,” a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office says following the call.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told EU leaders on a conference call late last night that “this might be the last time you see me alive,” a European diplomat briefed on the conversation tells the Walla news site.
The diplomat says Zelensky urged EU leaders to take further steps against Russia and that the meeting ended with a decision to impose additional sanctions against Moscow.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi who was on the call tells his parliament this morning that Zelensky is currently in hiding in Kyiv. “We were supposed to talk on the phone this morning, but he was no longer available,” Draghi says.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, who was also on last night’s call, confirms Walla’s report, telling the Swedish News Agency that “this may have been the last time we saw Zelensky.”
The EU has agreed to freeze European assets linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, three EU officials and a European diplomat tell AFP.
The measures have been added after being raised in overnight discussions by EU leaders on a new sanctions package that EU foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc were to validate.
US President Joe Biden will nominate federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, according to a person familiar with the matter, making her the first Black woman selected to serve on a court that once declared her race unworthy of citizenship and endorsed segregation.
In Jackson, Biden delivers on a campaign promise to make the historic appointment and to further diversify a court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries. He has chosen an attorney who would be the high court’s first former public defender, though she also possesses the elite legal background of other justices.
Jackson would be the current court’s second Black justice — Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative, is the other — and just the third in history.
The news was confirmed by a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it before the president’s official announcement later today.
She would also be only the sixth woman to serve on the court, and her confirmation would mean that for the first time four women would sit together on the nine-member court.
The current court includes three women, one of whom is the court’s first Latina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Jackson would join the liberal minority of a conservative-dominated court that is weighing cutbacks to abortion rights and will be considering ending affirmative action in college admissions and restricting voting rights efforts to increase minority representation.
Biden is filling the seat that will be vacated by Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, who is retiring at the end of the term this summer.
Jackson, 51, once worked as one of Breyer’s law clerks early in her legal career. She attended Harvard as an undergraduate and for law school, and served on the US Sentencing Commission, the agency that develops federal sentencing policy, before becoming a federal judge in 2013.
Her nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority by a razor-thin 50-50 margin with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaker. Party leaders have promised swift but deliberate consideration of the president’s nominee.
The next justice will replace one of the more liberal justices, so she would not tip the balance of the court, which now leans 6-3 in favor of conservatives.
The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin is ready to send a delegation to Belarus’s capital Minsk for talks with Ukraine, as Russian forces reach Kyiv on the second day of Moscow’s invasion.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the Russian leader is “ready” to send a high-level delegation “for talks with a Ukrainian delegation” to Minsk, the host city for previous peace talks and agreements.
Germany’s Defense Ministry confirms media reports that it is deploying additional military assets to NATO’s eastern flank.
German weekly Der Spiegel reports that the deployments include 150 soldiers and about a dozen Boxer armored fighting vehicles, two ships and anti-missile systems.
Ministry spokesman Christian Thiels declines to say exactly how many soldiers are being deployed. But he confirms that a navy corvette will leave tomorrow for patrols in the Baltic while a frigate will be deployed in the Mediterranean, both under NATO command.
Germany is also assessing whether to deploy Patriot anti-missile systems to an eastern European NATO country, Thiels says. Decisions on deploying further troops could be expected soon, he adds.
The Russian military says it has taken control of a strategic airport just outside the Ukrainian capital and cut Kyiv off from the west.
The airport in Hostomel has a long runway capable of accommodating heavy transport planes. Its seizure allows Russia to airlift troops directly to Kyiv’s outskirts. Hostomel is just 7 kilometers (4 miles) northwest of Kyiv.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says that the Russian airborne forces used 200 helicopters to land in Hostomel.
The UN human rights office says it is receiving increasing reports of civilian casualties in Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s military invasion.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says its staffers have so far verified at least 127 civilian casualties. They include 25 people killed and 102 injured, mostly from shelling and airstrikes.
She cautions that the numbers are “very likely to be an underestimate.”
Spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says its latest update is that more than 100,000 people are believed to have left their homes in Ukraine. She says the agency’s planning figures anticipate that “up to 4 million people may flee to other countries if the situation escalates.”
Chinese state TV says Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that Moscow is willing to negotiate with Ukraine, even as Moscow’s forces invade its neighbor.
The report follows a Kremlin announcement that Putin’s government is considering an offer by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to negotiate non-aligned NATO status for his country.
Putin says Moscow “is willing to conduct high-level negotiations with the Ukrainian side,” China Central Television reports on its website.
Xi says China “supports Russia and Ukraine resolving the problem through negotiations,” CCTV said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls on Europeans with “combat experience” to take up arms and defend Ukraine against invading Russian forces.
“If you have combat experience in Europe and do not want to look at the indecision of politicians, you can come to our country and join us in defending Europe, where it is very necessary now,” Zelensky, who appears tired, says in a video.
Speaking on the second day of the attack launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelensky also asks Europeans to “demand from your governments that Ukraine receive more financial, more military aid.”
The 44-year-old leader also says the West is in no hurry to help Ukraine against the Russian invasion.
“How are you going to defend yourself when you are so slowly helping us in Ukraine?” he says. “State institutions in Europe are not in a hurry with really strong decisions.”
Zelensky demands that Europe go further and “act without delay.”
“Europe has enough strength to stop this aggression,” he says. “Cancellation of visas for Russians? Disconnect from SWIFT? Complete isolation of Russia? Recall of ambassadors? Oil embargo? Closing the sky? Today, all this must be on the table.”
The EU says Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to destroy Ukraine and that his actions are comparable to those of the Nazis in World War II.
“He is talking about de-nazifying Ukraine, but he behaves like Nazis. So this is all in his head,” EU spokesman Peter Stano tells reporters in Brussels when asked about claims by Putin that a “genocide” was taking place against Russian speakers in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk tells The Time of Israel that he is not aware of any contingency plan by his government should the capital Kyiv fall.
Similarly, he says he is not aware of a plan for Ukraine’s foreign embassies, should Russia succeed in its deposing the government.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis visits the Russian embassy in Rome to personally express his concern about the war in Ukraine, in an extraordinary papal gesture that has no recent precedent.
Popes usually receive ambassadors and heads of state in the Vatican. For Francis to travel a short distance to the Russian embassy outside the Vatican walls is a sign of his strength of feeling about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Vatican officials say they know of no such previous papal initiative.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirms the pontiff wanted “clearly to express his concern about the war.” Pope Francis was there for just over a half-hour, Bruni says.
Francis has called for dialogue to end the conflict and has urged the faithful to set next Wednesday as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Ukraine. But he has refrained from publicly calling out Russia, presumably for fear of antagonizing the Russian Orthodox Church, with which he is trying to build stronger ties.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
They discuss the fighting in Ukraine, especially around the capital, Kyiv, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Bennett offers humanitarian aid and lays out to Zelensky what Israel has provided thus far.
He tells Zelensky that he hopes the war will end soon, and sends a message of support to the Ukrainian people, according to his office. There is no mention in the statement from Bennett’s office of any condemnation of Russian actions.
China’s President Xi Jinping says he supports solving the Ukraine crisis through talks in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, state media says, after Moscow launched an invasion of its neighbor.
In a readout of the call on state broadcaster CCTV, Xi points out that the “situation in eastern Ukraine has undergone rapid changes… [and] China supports Russia and Ukraine to resolve the issue through negotiation.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a telephone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, praises the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying it is a “correction of history.”
“President Assad stressed that what is happening today is a correction of history and a restoration of balance in the global order after the fall of the Soviet Union,” according to a statement from the Syrian presidency.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses NATO and the European Union of failing to take a “determined stance” on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“NATO should have taken a more decisive step,” Erdogan, whose country is a member of the military alliance, tells reporters.
“The EU and other pro-Western [bodies] have failed to take a serious and determined stance at the moment. They are all providing Ukraine with plenty of advice.”
MOSCOW — The Kremlin says it will analyze the Ukrainian president’s offer to discuss a non-aligned status for his country, as a Russian military invasion pushes closer to Kyiv.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ready to hold talks on the issue.
Asked about Zelensky’s offer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov describes it as “a move in a positive direction.”
He says in a conference call with reporters that “we paid attention to that, and now we need to analyze it.”
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Zelensky “is simply lying” when he offers to discuss non-aligned status for Ukraine. Lavrov said Zelensky “missed the opportunity” to discuss a neutral status for Ukraine in NATO when Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed it.
Israel will send NIS 10 million ($3.07 million) in aid to Ukraine’s Jewish community immediately as Russia’s military offensive against the country intensifies, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry says.
“This decision comes from the unique mandate of the State of Israel, and in particular, its Diaspora Ministry, as the nation-state of the Jewish people, to support Jewish individuals and communities in harm’s way,” the ministry says. “It’s become quite clear at this stage that both immediate and ongoing support are needed.”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai announced plans to send aid to the Ukrainian Jewish community yesterday, but it was initially believed that it would take several days before the matter could be brought before the government for a vote. It is not immediately clear why the proposal went through faster than expected.
The ministry says the aid will come in four main forms: food and medicine; funding for security guards around Jewish centers to protect them from rioting and looting; helping refugees in widescale evacuations; and transporting people to safer areas.
“We are following developments in the area with great concern. Our hearts are with the Jewish people of Ukraine,” Shai says. “We will continue to closely monitor the needs and developments in the field, and respond accordingly.”
The Kremlin says Russia will retaliate against new sanctions, as the West hit Moscow with a wave of economic punishments over its invasion of Ukraine.
“It goes without saying that retaliatory measures will follow,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.
“Just how symmetrical or asymmetrical they will be depends on the analysis, the restrictions have yet to be analyzed,” he adds.
Poland’s Border Guard says that some 29,000 people were cleared to enter through the country’s land border with neighboring Ukraine on Thursday, the day Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began.
Before that, there were some 12,000 average daily entries from Ukraine into European Union and NATO member Poland, through land, sea and airport checkpoints, according to Border Guard statistics.
Poland has lifted the requirement of COVID-19 quarantine or vaccination certificates for refugees from Ukraine. A number of reception centers with camp beds, soup kitchens and medical care have been organized in locations close to the border with Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is ready for talks with Kyiv if the Ukrainian army surrenders, as Russian invading forces advance on the capital.
“We are ready for negotiations at any moment, as soon as the armed forces of Ukraine respond to our call and lay down their arms,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.
But he says Russia must first complete its objectives in the country.
He claims Russia has no plans to occupy Ukraine, but merely to “demilitarize” and “denazify” it.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk expresses disappointment with the level of backing Jerusalem is giving his country, but says talks are underway for a humanitarian aid package.
Korniychuk tells reporters he would like Israeli diplomats to use their weight in Moscow to sue for a peaceful resolution to the Russia-initiated conflict, which is now in its second day.
“We are fighting on our own,” he says.
While the ambassador confirms that he did not ask Israel for military assistance, he says his government is in the final stages of negotiating a humanitarian assistance package from Israel.
“We’re not talking about Israeli soldiers, you have your own security concerns [with Russia in Syria],” Korniychuk says
. “We’re smart enough not to ask you something you won’t do.”
The package is expected to include medical supplies and equipment.
Korniychuk, who was visibly distraught before and during the press conference, shares with The Times of Israel that his daughter is currently living in Ukraine.
The Kyiv city council is telling residents to prepare for heavy fighting in the Obolonsk area north of the city.
“Be vigilant and stay indoors – at home or in shelters. Going outside is very dangerous now due to the approaching enemy,” it says in an alert on Facebook.
Separately, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry has sent out information on how to make firebombs for citizens willing to resist invading Russian forces.
In Kharkiv, residents are being told to go to shelters as air raid sirens are reportedly followed by loud explosions.
The Russian military claims it has destroyed 118 Ukrainian military assets since the beginning of its assault on its neighbor and as it pushes into the outskirts of Kyiv.
The claim could not be independently verified and was not confirmed by Ukraine amid a flurry of claims and counterclaims by each side.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says that among the targets were 11 Ukrainian air bases, 13 command facilities, 36 air defense radars, 14 air defense missile systems, 5 warplanes, 18 tanks and warships.
— MrRevinsky (@Kyruer) February 25, 2022
However, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace rejected Russian claims of success on the first day of its invasion of Ukraine, saying it had “failed to deliver” on its day one objectives.
Wallace tells Sky News that the Western assessment is that Russia had failed to take its major objectives and is behind on its timetable for advance.
“They’ve lost over 450 personnel,’’ he says.
The Ukrainian defense ministry is calling on any citizen willing to fight to do so, regardless of age.
In a Facebook post, it says the city of Konotop, east of Kyiv, has fallen but reports success in pushing back or bogging down Russian forces in other areas.
It claims the Gostomel airfield has been too badly damaged to be used by Russian troops, forcing them to approach Kiev from Belarus.
CNN reports that Ukrainian forces also saw success in a battle for control of a river crossing near Kherson.
It was “next to impossible” to buy food in Ukraine’s capital on Thursday, says Julia Goldenberg, founder of the All-Ukrainian Charitable Fund “To You” (ACF 2U), speaking to the Times of Israel by phone on Friday morning.
“There were queues in the supermarkets, no delivery from different suppliers,” she says.
She did not hear explosions overnight, but her friends in other parts of the capital did, Goldenberg says.
“People actually were woken up yesterday because of this,” she says.
Traffic jams out of Kyiv were so bad that residents who left at 4 p.m. were only reaching Zhitomyr, 135 kilometers away, in the morning.
Two nights ago, residents were expecting a Russian attack at 4 a.m., she says. “So at quarter to five, I decided to go to sleep.”
“We hear the alarm from time to time,” says Goldenberg, whose grandfather fought to Berlin with the Red Army in World War II. Other members of her family were murdered at Babi Yar in Kyiv in late 1941.
ACF-2U provided food and supplies to its most needy clients yesterday.
“They are extremely worried,” she says. “Some even asked how to leave the country.”
“People are exhausted, people are stressed,” she says sadly. “People should know the Russians are aggressors. They kill civilians. They are bastards.”
She hasn’t been in touch with the Israeli embassy so far. “I haven’t wanted to live in Israel because there are bombings, because it’s always under the threat of war.”
During a situational assessment Friday morning, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid decides that Israeli diplomats working in Lviv should remain in the western Ukrainian city and should not be evacuated, a spokesperson for Lapid says.
Irit Yakhnes, a spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in Poland, posts pictures with Israeli citizens who crossed from Ukraine into Poland to flee the fighting. The photos from Thursday night and Friday morning show smiling people, including on an almost full bus.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging the EU to impose tougher sanctions on Russia over its invasion, after the bloc held off hitting Moscow with a full arsenal of punitive measures.
“Not all possibilities for sanctions have been exhausted yet. The pressure on Russia must increase,” Zelensky writes on Twitter after talking to EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Not all possibilities for sanctions have been exhausted yet. The pressure on Russia must increase. Said this to @Vonderleyen. I am grateful to the President for her decision on additional financial assistance.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 25, 2022
Some European leaders, including in the United Kingdom, favor taking the additional step of blocking Russia from SWIFT, the Belgium-headquartered consortium used by banks and other financial institutions that serves as a key communications line for commerce worldwide. The SWIFT system averaged 42 million messages daily last year to enable payments. The name is an acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, and about half of all high-value payments that cross national borders go through its platform.
Ukraine has sought for Russia to be excluded from SWIFT, but several European leaders would prefer to stay patient because a ban could make international trade more difficult and hurt their economies.
French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire calls using SWIFT “a last resort,” ahead of a meeting with other European treasury chiefs.
His German counterpart Christian Lindner also opposes including SWIFT and notes that Europe may keep buying gas from Russia.
“In one-off cases, payments [to Russia] remain possible, for example, to pay for gas deliveries,” he says.
“We already have a complete blockade of Russian banks,” Lindner says. “Business dealings with Russia are as good as stopped.”
He adds that “further steps are possible but their consequences must be weighed, the idea is to inflict consequences on the Russian economy” rather than cause harm to Europe.
Gunfire is being heard near the government quarter of Ukrainian capital Kyiv, AP reports.
Air raid sirens also ring out in the city.
An artillery vehicle is seen on the streets of the city, but reports indicate that armored vehicles spotted may have been hijacked by Russian “saboteurs.”
A video shows a man who was in a car run over by one of the armored vehicles being pulled out alive.
— Aleph א #IStandWithUkraine ???????? (@no_itsmyturn) February 25, 2022
Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulatory agency says that higher than usual gamma radiation levels have been detected in the area near the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, after it was seized by the Russian military.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said Friday that higher gamma radiation levels have been detected in the Chernobyl zone, but didn’t provide details of the increase.
It attributed the rise to a “disturbance of the topsoil due to the movement of a large amount of heavy military equipment through the exclusion zone and the release of contaminated radioactive dust into the air.”
Data from the automated radiation monitoring system of the exclusion zone, which is available online, indicate that the control levels of gamma radiation dose rate (red dots) have been exceeded at a significant number of observation points. pic.twitter.com/G4WEGgkMcT
— Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (@ua_parliament) February 25, 2022
Ukrainian authorities said that Russia took the plant and its surrounding exclusion zone after a fierce battle Thursday.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says Russian airborne troops were protecting the plant to prevent any possible “provocations.” He insists that radiation levels in the area have remained normal.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it was told by Ukraine of the takeover, adding that there had been “no casualties or destruction at the industrial site.”
The 1986 disaster occurred when a nuclear reactor at the plant 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Kyiv exploded, sending a radioactive cloud across Europe. The damaged reactor was later covered by a protective shell to prevent leaks.
Russia’s civil aviation authority says it has banned UK flights to and over Russia in retaliation for British ban on Aeroflot.
The move comes moments after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges “further UK support to Ukraine” in a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, his office says.
“President Zelensky updated the prime minister on the most recent Russian military advances… including the terrible developments in Kyiv,” Downing Street says in a statement.
“The prime minister committed to provide further UK support to Ukraine in the coming days.”
However, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace rules out sending troops.
He tells BBC television Britain would “hold the line in NATO,” adding: “I’m not putting British troops directly to fight Russian troops.”
“That would trigger a European war because we are a NATO country, and Russia would therefore be attacking NATO.”
French President Emmanuel Macron says France and its European allies have decided to “inflict very severe blows on Moscow,” further sanctioning individuals and targeting finance, energy and other sectors.
The legal texts for the sanctions will be finalized and submitted for approval to EU foreign ministers later Friday.
France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire says the European Union wants to cut all links between Russia and the global financial system, after the bloc agreed new sanctions against Moscow over its attack on Ukraine.
The EU “wants to cut all the links between Russia and the global financial system,” he says at the start of a meeting of European finance ministers. “We want to isolate Russia financially… We want to dry up the financing.”
Macron says the EU has decided on economic aid for Ukraine in the amount of 1.5 billion euros ($1.68 billion).
He also calls the Belorussian government “an accomplice” in Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, and said it will also be targeted.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenky says on Twitter he secured a promise of $50 million in aid from Finland.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry is urging civilians to fight Russian forces invading Kyiv with any means they have.
“We urge citizens to inform us of troop movements, to make Molotov cocktails, and neutralize the enemy,” the ministry says on its Facebook page.
A video on social media shows an armored vehicle on a main road in the area appearing to run over and crush a civilian car. It is unclear whether the military vehicle is Russian or Ukrainian.
— Alexander Khrebet/Олександр Хребет (@AlexKhrebet) February 25, 2022
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says he is “closely following recent developments in and around Ukraine with increasing concern.”
Karim Khan issues a statement Friday on Twitter while on a visit to Bangladesh, where he is investigating crimes against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority.
Khan says he alerted “all sides conducting hostilities on the territory of Ukraine” that Ukraine has accepted the court’s jurisdiction.
That means “my office may exercise its jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine since 20 February 2014 onwards,” Khan adds.
He says that “any person who commits such crimes, including by ordering, inciting or contributing in another manner to the commission of these crimes may be liable to prosecution before the Court.”
Khan adds that because neither Russia nor Ukraine are member states of the court, his office does not have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in the conflict.
The International Criminal Court is the world’s permanent war crimes court. It was set up in 2002 to prosecute atrocities in countries where local authorities are unable or unwilling to conduct trials.
In Israeli news, four Border Police officers were lightly hurt during riots in the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, north of Jerusalem during overnight arrests, law enforcement officials say.
As troops entered the town to arrest a “terror suspect,” dozens of Palestinians hurled stones and an improvised explosive device (IED) at a police vehicle, causing it damage, police say.
Police say the officers responded with riot dispersal means and warning shots, and the suspect was taken for further investigation. The wounded officers did not require hospitalization.
Also overnight, troops shot and seriously injured a Palestinian who hurled an IED at soldiers manning the Jalamah checkpoint in the northern West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces says. The soldiers are unharmed, the military says.
The suspect was taken for medical treatment by the Red Crescent, Palestinian media reports say.
Explosions and gunfire have erupted in a northern district of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, an AFP reporter on the ground says, as invading Russian forces close in.
Pedestrians ran for safety and small arms fire was heard in the Obolonsky area, and larger blasts could be heard as far away as the city center.
BREAKING: Russian forces are attacking Obolon in northern Kyiv, defense ministry says pic.twitter.com/NnJFvBcXyr
— BNO News (@BNONews) February 25, 2022
The area is home to one of several Chabad synagogues in the city.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has spoken to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock about the situation in Ukraine and its global consequences, his office says.
Tellingly, Lapid’s office makes no mention of talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which has been the focus of talks between Israel and European parties to the JCPOA for the past year.
Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, says diplomatic staff are being overwhelmed with requests for help, but are limited in how much they can help.
“We’re trying to keep up with the barrage of requests, it’s not easy,” he says. “Unfortunately, we can’t help everyone, because we don’t have the capability of rescuing people from their homes.”
He calls on people to leave the country if they can and says even if Israel evacuates diplomatic staff to Poland, as is being discussed, representatives will remain at the border to help Israelis trying to leave.
As Russian troops continued pressing their offensive Friday, intense fighting also rages in the country’s east.
Russian troops have entered the city of Sumy near the border with Russia that sits on a highway leading to Kyiv from the east. The regional governor, Dmytro Zhivitsky, says Ukrainian forces fought Russian troops in the city overnight, but other Russian convoys kept rolling west toward the Ukrainian capital.
“Military vehicles from Sumy are moving toward Kyiv,” Zhivitsky says. “Much equipment has passed through and is heading directly to the west.”
Zhivitsky adds that another northeastern city, Konotop, was also sieged. He urged residents of the region to fight the Russian forces.
Around 500 Israelis evacuated Ukraine by land Thursday, the Foreign Ministry says in a statement. Some of those leaving did so on three buses from Lviv to Poland, organized by the embassy staff currently stationed in Lviv.
According to the ministry, its staff in Lviv is in touch with thousands of Israelis in Ukraine and is giving them instructions by phone on how to reach the western land border crossings, where Israeli diplomats from neighboring countries are stationed.
In the last two weeks, more than 8,880 people in Ukraine registered with the embassy there. The number includes 5,840 Israeli citizens and more than 3,000 close family members who do not have citizenship.
Israel urged its citizens in the country to leave for several weeks before Thursday’s Russian onslaught began.
Israelis leaving Ukraine for Israel, even if traveling through a third country, do not have to undergo a PCR test for COVID-19 before flying.
Israel’s Army Radio reports that defense officials believe that the fighting in Ukraine will not negatively impact Israeli sorties against Iran-backed forces in Syria.
Russia, a major backer of Syria, has mostly turned a blind eye to Israeli attacks, though it has also condemned them at times and has also cut off coordination in response to specific events.
According to the report, some in Israel think the fighting in Ukraine will give Israel a greater degree of freedom over Syria’s skies.
“We’re telegraphing ‘business as usual’ to the Russians,” a defense official tells the station. “It’s important not to broadcast a misleading message.”
Israel reportedly bombed positions in Syria twice this week, including strikes near Damascus early Thursday that came hours before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and senior ministry officials will hold a situational assessment at 9:30 a.m., where they will consider the possibility of evacuating diplomatic staff to Poland, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson confirms.
The Ukrainian military is reporting significant fighting northwest of the nation’s capital as Russian forces apparently try to advance on Kyiv from the north.
“The hardest day will be today. The enemy’s plan is to break through with tank columns from the side of Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv. Russian tanks burn perfectly when hit by our ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles),” Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.
The military confirms that a bridge across a river had been destroyed in the area of Ivankiv, about 60 kilometers (37 miles), northwest of Kyiv.
Kyiv has asked Turkey to block Russian warships from traversing the Dardanelles or Bosphorus straits, which link the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, according to reports.
Turkey tells Kyiv that even if it did block warships, Russian forces can still return to their bases, the reports indicate.
The Kremlin has a key naval base in Syria, and recently held large naval drills in the Mediterranean and Gulf of Oman.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is asking the Bucharest 9, a coalition of former Warsaw Pact or SSRs now in the EU that oppose Russian influence over the continent, for help in repelling Moscow’s forces.
Zelensky tweets in Ukrainian and English that he spoke with Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda for “defense aid, sanctions, pressure on the aggressor,” in order to push Russia to the negotiating table.
Duda confirms talks with Zelensky on his own Twitter, but does not confirm any offer of aid. He says Russian drones are bombing residential areas.
“This is an obvious act of terror to break morale, but there is tremendous determination to defend the capital,” he tweets.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry will discuss possibly evacuating all diplomats from Ukraine, the Kan news outlet reports.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will huddle with ministry officials on the matter, after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett suggested the possibility of decamping for Poland during a meeting overnight, the network says.
Israel already moved its embassy from Kyiv to Lviv earlier this week ahead of the invasion.
The news comes after air raid sirens went off in Lviv earlier Friday amid expectations that Russian forces would push into western parts of the country.
Ministry director Alon Ushpiz earlier seemed to indicate on Twitter that Israel still had a role to play in the country helping citizens leave.
On Twitter, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says there is a possible Russian incursion in Vorzel, a suburb some 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Kyiv.
The tweet calls on citizens to “destroy the enemy.”
The town is adjacent to the strategic Gostomel airfield, which Russian paratroopers seized Thursday.
The Chabad emissary in Kharkiv tells Israel’s Kan radio that they are staying in the city for the 20,000 Jews that live there, despite the city being one of Russia’s main targets.
“People on the ground have no idea what is happening, they could not believe there would be war,” Mendel Moskovitz says.
Israeli Foreign Ministry director Alon Ushpiz tweets a Walla news article about Israelis who had been in Lviv for business struggling to make it out of the country into Poland, and says “that’s exactly why we are there.”
He thanks Israeli diplomats and civil servants for their work.
Lviv’s mayor is telling the city’s residents to take shelter as air raid sirens ring out in the city.
The city, in western Ukraine, has so far been mostly sheltered from the fighting. A large number of Western diplomats, including Israel’s, moved to Lviv from Kyiv ahead of the Russian invasion.
The reason for the air raid sirens is not immediately clear, but Sky News reports that missiles struck an airport in Rivne, between Kyiv and Lviv.
In Kyiv, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the government had information that “subversive groups” were encroaching on the city, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it “could well be under siege” in what US officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and replace it with his own regime.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanized forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the call.
Lithuania’s Defense Minister tweets that Russia suffered losses overnight during fighting in Ukraine.
Russia has lost over 30 tanks, about 130 armoured vehicles, 7 aircraft and 6 helicopters overnight in Ukraine.
Unfortunately, Ukraine's struggle resulted in 137 casualties, including 10 officers. 316 people were wounded.
Our new aid to Ukraine is being transported.
— Arvydas Anušauskas (@a_anusauskas) February 25, 2022
The Russian losses cannot be confirmed and the level of Ukraine’s resistance has been difficult to gauge thus far, according to experts.
Pictures on social media purport to show Russian captives and a blown up bridge north of Kyiv.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 25, 2022
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) February 25, 2022
Hebrew language media outlets report that the US is pressuring Israel to back a draft resolution to be presented to the Security Council condemning Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The resolution that would condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest terms.” It also would demand an immediate halt to Russia’s invasion and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.
A senior US official says the Biden administration knows the measure will be vetoed by Russia, but believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia’s international isolation.
Israel generally follows the lead of the US at the UN, though it may chafe at being asked to risk a diplomatic dustup over a purely symbolic gesture.
However, the council vote will be followed by a resolution voted on quickly in the 193-member UN General Assembly where there are no vetoes, and no binding action able to be taken.
The final draft resolution, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, would reaffirm the council’s commitment “to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”
The council is scheduled to vote at 3 p.m. EST Friday.
AP contributed to this report.
CNN reports that explosions seen over Kyiv two hours ago was a plane being shot down.
Videos show large explosions from the incident from several angles.
Video filmed by someone on the Ground of what appears to be a Russian Aircraft getting shot down by Air Defense Systems over Kyiv about 30 minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/lQBRGGbI5X
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) February 25, 2022
Whatever was shot down over Kyiv was pretty big pic.twitter.com/aV6a3VwPgX
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) February 25, 2022
Unconfirmed reports indicate the plane — possibly a jet fighter — hit a home. Pictures, also unconfirmed, show what appears to be a nosecone and canopy among the wreckage.
After putting out the fire. pic.twitter.com/Hyzwb3UeBi
— OSINT UKRAINE (@OSINT_Ukraine) February 25, 2022
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymitro Kuleba slams what he calls “horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv.”
He calls the violence the worst the city has seen since a Nazi onslaught in 1941.
Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv. Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties. Kick Russia out of everywhete.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 25, 2022
Ukraine’s army says that Russia fired on civilian areas of Kyiv but that Ukraine’s air defense systems repelled “two deadly gifts”, according to a post on its verified Facebook page.
Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko says three people were injured with one in critical condition after “missile debris” hit a residential building.
He tweets a photo showing a building with part of its wall torn down and firefighters present at the scene.
⚡️ За попередніми даними, троє поранених, один з них у важкому стані, внаслідок потрапляння уламків ракети у житловий будинок на вулиці Кошиця, 7-А.
Швидкі везуть людей у лікарні.
На місці працюють всі аварійно-рятувальні служби.
Будинок палає, є загроза руйнування. pic.twitter.com/Cu0Wn4Tp6J
— Віталій Кличко (@Vitaliy_Klychko) February 25, 2022
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tells lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanized forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the call.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv “could well be under siege” in what US officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and replace it with his own regime.
Blinken says in television interviews that he was convinced that Russia was intent on overthrowing the Ukrainian government, telling CBS that Putin wants to “reconstitute the Soviet empire.”
At least two loud blasts were heard in the center of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Attacks on Kyiv with cruise and ballistic missiles have just resumed. I heard two powerful explosions,” Ukrainian interior ministry advisor Anton Herashchenko said on Telegram.
Most people in underground shelters now.pic.twitter.com/Z77OB1Vx2P
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 25, 2022
Other reports said it was possible the explosions were caused when an aircraft was shot down, but it was not immediately clear if it was a Russian or Ukrainian plane.
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