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Air raid sirens wail in Kyiv as 40-mile-long Russian convoy approaches

Zelensky says Russians focused on taking over capital and intensified attacks during negotiations; at least 9 civilians killed in shelling against city of Kharkiv

  • Demonstrators carry placards and flags during a protest  against the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, outside the city hall in Jerusalem, on February 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    Demonstrators carry placards and flags during a protest against the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, outside the city hall in Jerusalem, on February 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (2L) arrives to attend the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Gomel region on February 28, 2022. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)
    Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov (2L) arrives to attend the talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Gomel region on February 28, 2022. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)
  • A father hugs his daughter as the family reunite after fleeing conflict in Ukraine, at the Medyka border crossing, in Poland, Feb. 27, 2022  (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
    A father hugs his daughter as the family reunite after fleeing conflict in Ukraine, at the Medyka border crossing, in Poland, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
  • People stand in line in front of a supermarket while smoke billows over the town of Vasylkiv just outside Kyiv on February 27, 2022, after overnight Russian strikes hit an oil depot. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)
    People stand in line in front of a supermarket while smoke billows over the town of Vasylkiv just outside Kyiv on February 27, 2022, after overnight Russian strikes hit an oil depot. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)
  • People wait in a queue outside a supermarket in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
    People wait in a queue outside a supermarket in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022 (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
  • A view of a private house damaged by recent shelling in the settlement of Trudovskiye outside Donetsk on February 26, 2022 (Viktor ANTONYUK / AFP)
    A view of a private house damaged by recent shelling in the settlement of Trudovskiye outside Donetsk on February 26, 2022 (Viktor ANTONYUK / AFP)
  • A Russian armored personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)
    A Russian armored personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)
  • Refugees from Ukraine arrive to the railway station in Przemysl, Poland, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
    Refugees from Ukraine arrive to the railway station in Przemysl, Poland, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
  • This photograph shows a view of a school destroyed as a result of fight not far from the center of Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, located some 50 km from Ukrainian-Russian border, on February 28, 2022. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
    This photograph shows a view of a school destroyed as a result of fight not far from the center of Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, located some 50 km from Ukrainian-Russian border, on February 28, 2022. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
  • A satellite image taken February 27, 2022, by a private satellite company shows a large convoy of Russian forces some 40 miles northwest of Kyiv. (Maxar Technologies)
    A satellite image taken February 27, 2022, by a private satellite company shows a large convoy of Russian forces some 40 miles northwest of Kyiv. (Maxar Technologies)
  • Refugees from many different countries - from Africa, Middle East and India - mostly students of Ukrainian universities are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, in eastern Poland on February 27, 2022 (Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)
    Refugees from many different countries - from Africa, Middle East and India - mostly students of Ukrainian universities are seen at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, in eastern Poland on February 27, 2022 (Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)

The Times of Israel live live blogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.

Disney pauses movie releases in Russia

The Walt Disney Company freezes movie releases in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russias, including” from Pixar, Disney says in a statement.

“We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees,” the statement says.

The Pixar film “Turning Red” was supposed to be released in Russia on March 10.

Russia has quickly become a pariah since invading its neighbor several days ago.

Many countries, including most of Europe, the US and Canada, have barred Russian flights.

Its international sports teams have largely been blocked from competing on the world stage.

Severe sanctions have cut chunks of its financial system off from the rest of the world, and other sanctions have targeted its leaders and oligarchs.

Lindsey Graham criticizes Israel for refusing to sell weapons to Ukraine

Senator Lindsey Graham waits to speak to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 10, 2022. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)
Senator Lindsey Graham waits to speak to reporters at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, February 10, 2022. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham criticizes Israel for declining to sell Ukraine weapons to fend off the ongoing Russian invasion.

“They asked Israel — no bigger fan of Israel than Lindsey Graham — for stinger [missiles], and apparently Israel said no. So I’ll get on the phone to Israel. You know, we stand up for Israel with the Iron Dome,” Graham tells Fox News, suggesting that the US expects better from its longstanding ally.

“Putin is a thug. He’s a war criminal. He’s destroying a sovereign nation called Ukraine. And if we don’t get Ukraine and Russia right, the Chinese are going to move on Taiwan and the Iranians gonna break out toward a bomb. So it’s in everybody’s interest” for Ukraine to be able to defend itself, Graham argues.

Kyiv’s ambassador to US tells senators Ukraine needs weapons help

Ukraine’s ambassador to the US tells senators her country needs more military weapons as it fights the Russian invasion.

Senators emerge from an evening meeting with Ambassador Oksana Markarova at the Capitol as Congress is preparing supplemental funding to help Ukraine during the crisis. The White House is seeking at least $6.4 billion in military and humanitarian aid.

“They need more arms,” said Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

“It’s David versus Goliath,” said Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee. “I think that any human being reading the reports coming out of there realize that this is dire.”

Senators in the US are working to provide ammunition such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine — what Risch called an “all of the above” effort.

Armed Palestinian man killed in firefight with IDF troops in West Bank

An armed Palestinian man is killed by Israeli forces during an exchange of gunfire in the West Bank.

Palestinian sources identify the fatality as Abdullah Hosari.

Four Palestinians are injured, one critically, in the firefight in the city of Jenin.

The troops were there to carry out an arrest, Ynet reports.

The IDF arrested a former prisoner who is the son of a senior Hamas figure.

Russian convoy approaching Kyiv is 40 miles long, satellite images show

A Russian military convoy approaching the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is 40 miles long, according to the American satellite imagery company Maxar.

The convoy includes tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and other vehicles.

Maxar said earlier today that the convoy was 17 miles long.

The Kyiv Independent reports air raid sirens in Kyiv and the nearby city of Bila Tserkva.

Elon Musk’s Starlink internet gear lands in Ukraine

A shipment of terminals for Elon Musk’s satellite internet service, Starlink, arrives in Ukraine after one of its ministers personally appealed to the billionaire.

The gear could help provide internet in areas where access has been hit due to the invasion.

“Starlink — here. Thanks Elon Musk,” Ukraine’s digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweets with a picture of a truck loaded with Starlink terminals.

“You are most welcome,” the SpaceX founder tweets in response.

Fedorov urged Musk to provide Starlink services to Ukraine days after the invasion began last week, tweeting “While you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people.”

Web monitoring group NetBlocks has reported a series of significant disruptions to internet service in Ukraine after the Russian invasion began.

Starlink operates a constellation of more than 2,000 satellites that aim to provide internet access across the planet.

The company on Friday launched a further 50 Starlink satellites and many more are slated to be put into Earth’s orbit.

Kharkiv mayor says 9 killed in Russian shelling

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, says at least nine civilians were killed and 37 injured by Russian attacks today.

The dead include three children, he says. A family was burned to death in their car, and other people died when they ventured out of shelter for water, he says.

“The missiles hit residential buildings, killing and injuring peaceful civilians. Kharkiv has not seen such damage for a very long time. And this is horrible,” he says.

The UN confirms at least 102 civilian deaths since the start of the invasion, and notes that the actual number is likely far higher.

Zelensky says Russians have stepped up artillery attacks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian troops have intensified shelling of Ukraine, calling it an effort to force his government into making concessions during talks held Monday.

In a video address late Monday, Zelenskyy says that “the talks were taking place against the backdrop of bombing and shelling of our territory, our cities. Synchronizing of the shelling with the negotiating process was obvious. I believe Russia is trying to put pressure [on Ukraine] with this simple method.”

The president gave no details about the hours-long talks themselves. But he says Ukraine is not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery.”

Zelenskyy says that Kyiv, the capital, remains “a key goal” for the Russians and that Russian forces have also shelled the city of Kharkiv with rocket artillery.

Verified videos show heavy shelling and damage to Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, accuses Russia of using a thermobaric weapon, which is prohibited by international law.

Ukraine lifts visa requirement for foreign army volunteers

Ukraine’s president signs a decree temporarily lifting the requirement for entry visas for any foreigner willing to join Ukraine’s International Defense Legion and fight on Ukraine’s side against invading Russian troops.

The decree by President Volodymyr Zelensky takes effect Tuesday and will remain in effect as long as martial law is in place.

Facebook, Instagram to restrict access to Russia’s RT and Sputnik

In this file photo from March 13, 2019, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are displayed on an iPhone, in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
In this file photo from March 13, 2019, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are displayed on an iPhone, in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

The parent company of Facebook and Instagram says it is restricting access to Russia’s RT and Sputnik in Europe over concerns the two state-controlled media outlets are being used to spread disinformation and propaganda.

The action by Menlo Park, CA-based Meta comes after its announcement over the weekend that it was banning ads from Russian state media and had removed a network of 40 fake accounts, pages, and groups that published pro-Russian talking points. The network used fictitious persons posing as journalists and experts, but had yet to create much of an audience. Facebook began labeling Russian state-run media in 2020.

RT and Sputnik are part of Russia’s sprawling propaganda machine, spreading information that supports Russia’s invasion while seeking to undermine and criticize the response by other nations.

Ukrainian Orthodox bishops issue appeal to Moscow patriarch to push for end to war

Theophilus lll, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (second from left), pictured with (from left) the Archbishop of Cyprus, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, President Vladimir Putin, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Patriarch of Antioch, on December 5, 2017. (Courtesy)
Theophilus lll, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem (second from left), pictured with (from left) the Archbishop of Cyprus, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, President Vladimir Putin, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Patriarch of Antioch, on December 5, 2017. (Courtesy)

Ukrainian Orthodox bishops are calling on their superior in Moscow to urge Russia’s leadership to stop the war in Ukraine.

The Holy Synod — the governing body of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church — asks Moscow Patriarch Kirill to call on Russian leaders to stop hostilities. The appeal shows a growing chasm between Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, and his own bishops in Ukraine over the war.

Patriarch Kirill has long had friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In statements to date, he has called for an end to “fratricidal” war in Ukraine, but he has not assigned blame for the conflict and has emphasized a call for Orthodox unity.

While the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is under the ultimate authority of Kirill, it also enjoys considerable autonomy. Its synod also called for divine intervention on behalf of Ukraine’s army.

Trudeau announces Canada ban on Russian oil imports

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces a ban on Russian oil imports, saying oil revenues have helped to prop up Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs.

“Today, we are announcing a ban on all imports of crude oil from Russia, an industry that has benefited President Putin and his oligarchs greatly,” Trudeau tells a news conference.

“And while Canada has imported very little amounts in recent years, this measure sends a powerful message,” he adds.

Israeli medics on Moldova border says thousands need treatment and support after fleeing Ukraine

An Israeli medical team on Ukraine’s border with Moldova says tens of thousands are crossing over in need of medical and psychological support after harrowing journeys to safety. Many traveled to the border for several days as they took cover from missile strikes and struggled with cold and lack of food.

The team from the United Hatzalah emergency response organization is the first foreign medical team operating in Moldova. They have set up a command post in a synagogue in the capital, Chisinau.

Linor Attias, a medic with the team, says of the refugees, “They feel that they lost everything, and they did, that’s the reality.”

The team is administering medical care, mainly related to exhaustion, cold and hunger, and some injuries. Hypothermia is expected to become a major problem as the temperature drops.

Several pregnant women have come in with complications.

Most of the refugees are women, children, and the elderly, as men stay back to fight.

Most Ukrainians fleeing the fighting are moving to other areas of Ukraine, or to Poland, but Moldova is taking in around 70,000 people per day. The Hatzalah team has met many Israelis, who are struggling to find transportation from Moldova to Israel, and treated a Gazan and a Jordanian man, Attias says.

Dr. Zev Neuwirth, a physician with the Hatzalah team, says they are administering to acute medical needs first, then taking care of chronic conditions, since many people fled without their medicines.

Then they will provide psychological care and attend to “civil affairs,” such as food and hygiene.

Sometimes the care is “nothing more than a hug, a blanket, a little doll, candy,” he says.

IDF says troops fire on Palestinians hurling Molotov cocktails, wounding one

The Israeli military says troops opened fire on three Palestinians who were allegedly hurling firebombs at Israeli drivers on Route 60 near the West Bank town of Halhul.

One suspect was hit by troops’ fire, and was arrested, the IDF says. It adds that he has been taken to hospital, and will later be interrogated by authorities.

The other two suspects apparently fled.

Father, partner of Israeli killed in Ukraine dispute burial place amid danger

Efforts to retrieve the body of an Israeli man killed in Ukraine and bring him back to Israel for burial have run into difficulties, Channel 12 news reports, with the father of Roman Brodsky and his partner unable to come to terms on the matter.

Roman Brodsky, a father of two and DJ who had been living in Ukraine with his family, was killed by Ukrainian soldiers who shot at a convoy trying to escape the country.

In a phone call between Roman’s father Yafim and his partner Mila facilitated by the Magen David Adom rescue service, Yafim asks Mila to bring his body to Zhytomyr and MDA offers to help transport the remains.

But Mila tells him that there’s too much shooting and she doesn’t know if moving the body is possible. “I don’t know if I can get out of here alive or manage to bring him there. They are shooting like crazy,” she says.

She also chafes at his suggestion that Roman’s body be brought to Israel for burial, even after his parents offer to take her into their Ashdod home.

“I’m not going anywhere. I want to suggest he [be buried] here,” she says, to which he responds that her country is being destroyed.

She agrees to call him again to discuss “if I get out of here alive.”

The details of the call cannot be immediately confirmed.

The Foreign Ministry, which usually aids in repatriating remains, said earlier it had informed the family of Brodsky’s death.

US says Russian UN diplomats expelled for non-diplomatic activities

The United States confirms it has ordered 12 members of Russia’s mission to the United Nations to leave America for engaging in non-diplomatic activities.

“Those diplomats that have been asked to leave the United States were engaged in activities that were not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats,” Deputy US Ambassador Richard Mills tells the UN Security Council, without elaborating further.

ICC prosecutor to probe possible war crimes in Ukraine

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan says he will open a probe into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Khan says after a preliminary probe “there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine in relation to the events already assessed during the preliminary examination by the Office.”

He says investigators are gathering evidence and he will seek authorization from a pre-trial chamber to go ahead with the probe, though the process will be sped up if an ICC member state requests an inquest.

New images show long Russian convoy closing in on Kyiv

Satellite images show Russian troops are attacking Ukraine on multiple fronts and are advancing on the capital city of Kyiv.

On Monday, a convoy consisting of hundreds of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, and support vehicles stretched 17 miles long and was less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the center of Kyiv. The city is home to nearly 3 million residents.

The images from Maxar Technologies also captured signs of fighting outside Kyiv, including destroyed vehicles and a damaged bridge.

 

US expels diplomats; EU sanctions Jewish oligarch who decried ‘bloodshed,’ 25 others

Russia says 12 members of its UN mission have been expelled from the US.

Separately, the EU has added 26 names to its list of sanctions, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and a number of Russian oligarchs.

Among those being sanctioned is Mikhail Fridman, a Jewish Ukraine-born Russian billionaire who spoke out recently and called for an end to “bloodshed.”

Fridman is a co-founder of the Genesis Prize and the Russian Jewish Congress.

His partner, Pyotr Aven, recently met with Putin, along with other Russian businessmen.

In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry promises a “tough response” to the sanctions.

Turkey says it will block warships from Black Sea straits

Turkey says it is blocking warships from the key Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits in line with a convention that gives it control over the passage of military vessels in the strategic area.

“We have alerted both countries of the region and elsewhere not to pass warships through the Black Sea,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says. “We are applying the Montreux Convention.”

The straits connect the Mediterranean, where Russia has a large naval base, to the Black Sea, where a battle is raging for the control of Ukraine’s ports.

The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey some control over the movement of warships in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits that connect the Aegean, Marmara, and Black Sea.

Times of Israel staff contributed.

Israel tries to send 14 Ukrainians back to Europe, relents after pressure

Israel tried to send 14 out of 70 Ukrainians who arrived in the country back to Europe, saying they were not eligible to enter the country under the law of return.

The 14, including a mother and her young daughter, were put on a flight to Romania, but were ultimately allowed to stay after family members pressured the government, Channel 12 reports.

According to Israeli law, Jews, their children, grandchildren, and spouses are eligible for citizenship.

Even though they were allowed to stay for now, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked ordered that they give the government a deposit of thousands of shekels to ensure that they leave within three months, the report says.

A government source tells Channel 12 that they are not considered refugees because they are entitled to stay in any country in Europe.

Bennett sends condolences to family of Israeli killed in Ukraine

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sends condolences to the family of Roman Brodsky, an Israeli citizen who was killed in Ukraine today.

“In the name of all Israeli citizens, I want to send my condolences to Roman’s wife, children, and family in Israel and in Ukraine,” he says.

“We are doing everything to help Israelis return home,” Bennett says.

Israeli man killed in Ukraine identified as Roman Brodsky; was leaving for Israel

Roman Brodsky, an Israeli-Ukrainian who was killed in Ukraine on February 28, 2022. (Courtesy)
Roman Brodsky, an Israeli-Ukrainian who was killed in Ukraine on February 28, 2022. (Courtesy)

The family of the Israeli man killed in Ukraine identifies him as Roman Brodsky.

Brodsky’s father says his son was trying to drive to Moldova with his partner in order to make it back to Israel, when he was stopped at a checkpoint by Ukrainian forces who opened fire.

“They thought he was Chechen or something and killed him,” his father tells the Kan broadcaster.  He was hit, badly hurt, and died at the scene.

Nonetheless, his family tells the Channel 12 news site that they blame the “dictator” Vladimir Putin for his death.

His father tells Channel 12 that they want help bringing him to burial in Israel, and asks that Israel do more to ensure that people who are still alive can make it safely to Israel.

Brodsky came to Israel from Ukraine aged 13 with his family. He lived here for 27 years and had two small children. He returned to Ukraine about 2 years ago and started a business in Kyiv.

Brodsky’s father and stepmother live in the southern city of Arad, while his mother lives in Ashkelon. They were informed of their son’s death by the Magen David Adom.

The Zaka rescue service said Brodsky was 37-years-old. However, Hebrew media said he was 42.

Police seen beating young Palestinian girl, wound another with stun grenade

An 11-year-old girl is hospitalized after being hit by a stun grenade near the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City, amid clashes.

A video from the incident shows the young girl falling over as the grenade explodes next to her. It is not immediately clear if the injury is from the grenade or her fall.

Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus says the girl is undergoing medical tests after a “significant” injury to her face. She will be later transferred to Hadassah Ein Kerem for further treatment.

In another video from the clashes as Muslims gathered for an Islamic holiday, officers are seen dragging a young girl, pushing her to the ground, before one hits her in the face.

Palestinian sources said she was 12 years old.

Police say 4 officers are wounded amid the clashes, but did not immediately comment on the two incidents involving children.

Mike Pence to visit Israel next week — Foreign Ministry

Then-US vice president Mike Pence visits Jerusalem's Western Wall, on January 23, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
Then-US vice president Mike Pence visits Jerusalem's Western Wall, on January 23, 2018. (AFP/Thomas Coex)

Former US vice president Mike Pence will be visiting Israel next month from March 7-10, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Also stopping by will be Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, followed by the head of Serbia’s parliament Ivica Dačić, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.

Large explosion rocks Kyiv, fireball lights up sky

A large explosion is seen in Kyiv on February 28, 2022. (Screencapture/Twitter)
A large explosion is seen in Kyiv on February 28, 2022. (Screencapture/Twitter)

A large explosion rocks the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in an apparent Russian strike.

Video filmed in the embattled city shows a large fireball in the sky in the northwestern part of the city after the explosion.

Reports said the site of the explosion was a military radar communication center.

Senior Democrat to step away from Congress to become CEO of Jewish advocacy group

Representative Ted Deutch speaks during a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at Broward College, on Thursday, on October 29, 2020, in Coconut Creek, Florida. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Representative Ted Deutch speaks during a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden at Broward College, on Thursday, on October 29, 2020, in Coconut Creek, Florida. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senior Democratic lawmaker Rep. Ted Deutch announces that he will not seek reelection later this year and instead will become the CEO of the American Jewish Committee advocacy group.

Deutch, who has served in Congress for 12 years and chairs the House Ethics Committee, will replace David Harris who has led the AJC since 1990.

“I have worked closely with AJC throughout my tenure in Congress and I am deeply honored to have been chosen to serve as the organization’s next CEO. For 116 years, AJC has worked to protect global Jewry, strengthen Israel’s place in the community of nations, and advance democratic values around the world,” Deutch says in a statement.

AJC’s statement highlights that Deutch was one of only 25 House Democrats who voted against the Iran nuclear deal.

Expansion of E. Jerusalem park onto church-owned lands back on municipal body’s agenda

Priests pause on Palm Sunday on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Priests pause on Palm Sunday on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

A project to expand an East Jerusalem national park onto church-owned lands has been put back on the agenda of the municipality, despite assurances that the plan had been withdrawn amid backlash from local Christian leaders.

Plan 101-674788, which will extend the borders of the Jerusalem Walls National Park to include a large section of the Mount of Olives, along with additional parts of the Kidron and Ben Hinnom valleys, has returned to the Jerusalem municipality’s Local Planning and Construction Committee website with the session scheduled for August 31.

Last week, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced that it was withdrawing the project and would hold talks with local church leaders in order to come up with an appropriate way to preserve the territory in question.

Church leaders have opposed the expansion plan, pointing to the park authority’s close ties with the City of David Foundation, which works to expand the Jewish presence in contested East Jerusalem areas, including the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

An INPA spokeswoman says the parks authority will advance the project at this time and that she does not know why it was put back on the docket.

“First, they promote an abusive program that expresses contempt for Palestinians and Christians, and then they turn Israel into a liar that promises to take the plan off the agenda, but in fact puts it right back on. This not only hurts Israel, it is also silly because it is clear that this trick would be discovered,” says Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran.

Oil giant Shell pulls out of energy investments in Russia over war

The Shell logo is at a gas station in London, on January 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file)
The Shell logo is at a gas station in London, on January 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file)

LONDON (AP) — Shell says it is pulling out of Russia as President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine costs the country’s all-important energy industry foreign investment and expertise.

Shell announces its intention to exit its joint ventures with Gazprom and related entities, including its 27.5% stake in the Sakhalin-II liquefied natural gas facility, its 50% stake in the Salym Petroleum Development, and the Gydan energy venture.

Shell also intends to end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.

“We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security,” says Shell’s chief executive officer, Ben van Beurden.

The move comes as a day after rival BP announced plans to shed its almost 20% stake in Rosneft, which is controlled by the Russian state. Also Monday, Norway’s Equinor says it would halt new investment in Russia and begin selling its holdings in the country.

Shell’s most important investment in Russia is its stake in the Sakhalin-II project in the waters near Sakhalin Island off Russia’s east coast. Japan-based Mitsui owns 12.5% of the project and Mitsubishi holds 10%.

Russian teams suspended from international soccer ‘until further notice’

Russian President Vladimir Putin touches the World Cup trophy as FIFA President Gianni Infantino stands beside him, at the end of the final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, on July 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin touches the World Cup trophy as FIFA President Gianni Infantino stands beside him, at the end of the final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, on July 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

GENEVA — Russian teams have been suspended from international soccer after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision comes from FIFA and UEFA, saying Russia’s national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice.”

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The move comes as the International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including soccer’s World Cup.

The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.

Israeli man killed as convoy near Kyiv comes under fire

Cars are stopped at a roadblock set by civil defensemen at a road leading to central Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Cars are stopped at a roadblock set by civil defensemen at a road leading to central Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

An Israeli citizen has been killed when a convoy he was traveling in near Kyiv came under fire, the Foreign Ministry says.

Israel’s Zaka rescue service identifies the victim as a 37-year-old man who was trying to leave the country.

Channel 12 says it appears the convoy came under fire from Ukrainian forces who feared they were Russians.

The Foreign Ministry says he was trying to get to Moldova to leave the country.

It says it has informed the man’s wife and child who are in Ukraine and his parents in Israel.

His name was not yet released.

 

In video appeal, Zelensky tells Russian soldiers: Put down your weapons and leave

In a direct appeal to Russian troops, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells them to “put down your weapons and leave.”

Speaking in Russian, Zelensky says 4,500 Russian soldiers have been killed so far.

“Don’t trust your commanders, don’t trust the propaganda,” he says. “Just save your lives. Leave.”

Zelensky also says that he will release prisoners with combat experience to help fight the Russians.

https://twitter.com/AP/status/1498347907241680902

Top Ukrainian rabbi: I don’t know if it’s safer to stay put or take to the roads

Rabbi Moshe Azman speaks to Israel's Channel 12 outside a Kyiv area Jewish community center, on February 28, 2022. (Screenshot)
Rabbi Moshe Azman speaks to Israel's Channel 12 outside a Kyiv area Jewish community center, on February 28, 2022. (Screenshot)

Rabbi Moshe Azman, a leading Ukrainian rabbi, tells a Channel 12 news reporter in the Kyiv area that he doesn’t know how to advise the many Jews who are asking him whether they should try to leave the area, and who tell him they will do whatever he tells them to do.

“I feel like their lives are in my hands,” he says, speaking outside a Jewish community center. “I tell people, you decide… I don’t want to decide for you because I don’t know.”

“Lives are in danger if they stay, and lives are in danger if they leave,” he says. “I don’t what is more dangerous — to take to the roads or to stay put.”

UN General Assembly opens an extraordinary emergency session on Ukraine

Olof Skoog, European Union ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly, on Monday, February 28, 2022, at United Nations Headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Olof Skoog, European Union ambassador to the United Nations, speaks during an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly, on Monday, February 28, 2022, at United Nations Headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations General Assembly opens an extraordinary emergency session Monday with pleas for peace in Ukraine, starting a day of frenzied diplomacy at the UN.

Assembly President Abdulla Shahid asked envoys from the UN’s 193 member nations to stand for a moment of silence at the start of the session, the assembly’s first emergency meeting in decades. Shahid repeated calls for an immediate cease-fire, maximum restraint by all parties, and “a full return to diplomacy and dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is due to meet later today to discuss the spiraling humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

With Russian and Ukrainian officials holding talks on the Belarus border, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells the assembly he hopes those discussions could lead to a halt in the fighting.

“The guns are talking now, but the path of dialogue must always remain open,” he says. “We need peace now.”

Convoy with Israelis in it said to come under fire near Kyiv

A convoy trying to flee from a town near Kyiv, believed to have been carrying at least one Israeli, was hit by Russian fire, Channel 12 reports.

The foreign ministry says it is investigating the report.

Channel 12 said it had confirmed the convoy was hit, but reports on fatalities could not be confirmed.

Zelensky signs application for Ukraine to join EU

Ukraine’s president signs an application for his country to join the European Union, in a bid to solidify his country’s bond with the West.

Volodymyr Zelensky posts photos of himself signing the application, and his office says the paperwork is on its way to Brussels, where the 27-nation EU is headquartered.

The move comes as the top adviser to Ukraine’s president says the first round of talks with Russia about ending the fighting in Ukraine has concluded, and more talks could happen soon.

 

Moscow, Kyiv agree to second round of talks

Ukrainian and Russian national flags are placed on the table ahead of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in a guest house in the Gomel region, Belarus, on Monday, February 28, 2022. (Sergei Kholodilin/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
Ukrainian and Russian national flags are placed on the table ahead of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in a guest house in the Gomel region, Belarus, on Monday, February 28, 2022. (Sergei Kholodilin/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW — Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia will return to their capital cities for consultations and have plans for fresh talks, both sides announce after meeting for their first talks since the outbreak of war last week.

“The delegations are returning to their capitals for consultations and have discussed the possibility of meeting for a second round of negotiations soon,” Ukrainian negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak says.

“We agreed to keep the negotiations going,” the Russian delegation head, Vladimir Medinsky said.

Ukraine: Guards who told Russian warship ‘go f*ck yourself’ are alive

The Ukrainian Navy says that 13 border guards believed killed last week while defending a strategic Black Sea island after giving a defiant final message to the invading Russian military, are actually alive.

“Our brothers-in-arms are alive and well,” the navy says in a Facebook post, according to the BBC.

The border guards and marines on the island “twice bravely repulsed the attacks of the Russian occupiers,” but were unable to continue fighting because they ran out of ammunition, it says.

Ukraine initially said the 13 guards stationed at the remote Zmiinyi, or Snake Island — some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border of Romania — were killed and would posthumously be awarded Hero of Ukraine medals.

Zmiinyi Island, or Snake Island in the Black Sea, on August 26, 2014 (Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons/Мазурок И. Е.)

The men became national heroes after they were recorded being informed by a Russian warship that they should surrender or “be hit with a bomb strike.”

“Russian warship, go fuck yourself,” a Ukrainian border guard replied.

Richard Blum, husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, dies

In this November 6, 2018 file photo, US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (right) smiles next to husband Richard Blum at an election night event in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
In this November 6, 2018 file photo, US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (right) smiles next to husband Richard Blum at an election night event in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Richard Blum, husband of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, died Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 86.

Feinstein announces her husband’s death in a statement that says her “heart is broken today.”

She says her husband, a wealthy San Francisco investor, “left things better than he found them” and was devoted to his family. She describes his work for the people of the Himalayas and notes he was a longtime friend of the Dalai Lama.

“My husband was my partner and best friend for more than 40 years,” Feinstein says in the statement. “He was by my side for the good times and for the challenges. I am going to miss him terribly.”

Feinstein, 88, has missed votes in recent weeks as her husband’s health declined, contributing to Democrats’ fragile 50-50 majority.

Erdan releases video of him embracing Ukrainian ambassador at UN

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan embraces his Ukrainian counterpart Sergiy Kyslytsya at the UN General Assembly plenum, on February 28, 2022. (Courtesy)
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan embraces his Ukrainian counterpart Sergiy Kyslytsya at the UN General Assembly plenum, on February 28, 2022. (Courtesy)

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan’s office sends a video clip to reporters of him embracing his Ukrainian counterpart Sergiy Kyslytsya in the General Assembly plenum ahead of an emergency session of the 193-member body on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Erdan’s office declined a US request to co-sponsor a Security Council resolution last week condemning Russia but is slated to support a General Assembly resolution to the same effect later this week.

Kyslytsya visited Israel a year and a half ago as part of a delegation of ambassadors led by Erdan. Kyslytsya’s mission co-sponsored the Israeli-submitted resolution aimed at combating Holocaust denial that was adopted by the General Assembly earlier this year.

European diplomat to ToI: Some 4,500 Russian soldiers killed and injured

A Russian armored personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)
A Russian armored personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned light utility vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Marienko Andrew)

A European diplomatic source tells The Times of Israel that Western countries believe that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s figures are accurate, based on real-time intelligence assessments on the ground.

Russian casualties are approximately 4,500 killed and injured as of this morning, the diplomat says.

France: Putin tells Macron Russian forces won’t target civilians in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) listens to French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 7, 2022. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) listens to French President Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on February 7, 2022. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron called on Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to spare civilians in Ukraine, the French leader’s office says in a statement.

Macron’s office says that in a 90-minute phone call he had asked the Russian leader to stop attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and secure major roadways, in particular the road from the south of Kyiv.

“President Putin confirmed his willingness to make commitments on these three points,” the statement says.

Shots fired at Israeli reporting Kyiv during curfew

Ukrainian police fired shots in the air to deter an Israeli reporter who was outside yesterday during a curfew in Kyiv.

In video from the scene Dov Gilhar, a reporter for the Kan public broadcaster, can be seen with his hands in the air trying to identify himself as a journalist and pleading with the officer not to shoot him.

“They see everybody outside during curfew as a Russian agent or undercover soldier,” Gilhar tells Radio 103. “It ended with me very slowly taking out my journalist card, he apologized and went on his way.”

Olympic body calls for Russia, Belarus to be excluded from all sports

A view of the St. Petersburg Stadium prior to the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Russia and New Zealand, Saturday, June 17, 2017. Russia has been stripped of hosting the Champions League final by UEFA with St. Petersburg replaced by Paris after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The men's final will still be held on May 28 but now at the 80,000-seat Stade de France after the decision by UEFA's executive committee. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
A view of the St. Petersburg Stadium prior to the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match between Russia and New Zealand, Saturday, June 17, 2017. Russia has been stripped of hosting the Champions League final by UEFA with St. Petersburg replaced by Paris after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The men's final will still be held on May 28 but now at the 80,000-seat Stade de France after the decision by UEFA's executive committee. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

GENEVA (AP) — In a sweeping move to isolate and condemn Russia after invading Ukraine, the International Olympic Committee is urging sports bodies to exclude the country’s athletes and officials from international events.

The IOC says it was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

The decision opened the way for FIFA, the governing body of soccer, to exclude Russia from a World Cup qualifying playoff match on March 24. Poland has refused to play the scheduled game against Russia.

The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.

The IOC said it acted “with a heavy heart” but the impact of war on Ukrainian sports outweighed the potential damage done to athletes from Russia and Belarus.

Tycoon Leviev to sue ‘Tinder Swindler’ for using family name

Israeli Russian diamond tycoon Lev Leviev is suing an Israeli fraudster known as the Tinder Swindler for posing as his son, his lawyer says.

Lawyer Guy Ophir tells Channel 12 that Shimon Hayut, the conman who presented himself as Simon Leviev, has damaged the family name. He says any money recovered from Hayut will be donated to his victims.

Hayut is the subject of the popular Netflix true-crime documentary “The Tinder Swindler.”

The nearly two-hour documentary directed by Felicity Morris tells the story of several women whose hearts and wallets were captured by Hayut.

‘Tinder Swindler,’ a true-crime documentary about Israeli conman Shimon Hayut, drops on Netflix. (Courtesy: Netflix)

Hayut served two and a half years in a Finnish prison after being found guilty of defrauding three women. He also served 15 months in an Israeli prison after being convicted of four fraud charges, but was released after five months.

Russian news sites hacked, others taken down for criticizing war

MOSCOW — Websites of several Russian media outlets are hacked with a message condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine appearing on their main pages, while others were blocked by the Russian authorities over their coverage of the war.

The interference on media hints at a growing antiwar sentiment among ordinary Russians, even though it’s unknown who was responsible for the hack. It also offers evidence of the government’s relentless effort to suppress dissent.

Russia’s state communications and media watchdog Roskomnadzor is blocking several Russian and Ukrainian media outlets over their coverage of the invasion.

Russia’s magazine The New Times, which has been openly critical of the Kremlin, is blocked for reporting details about Russian military casualties in Ukraine which the Russian Defense Ministry has not disclosed.

Protests against the invasion have cropped up across Russia for four days now while nearly 1 million people signed an online petition demanding an end to the war. Demonstrators have faced mass detentions while authorities have restricted access to social media and threatened to shut down independent news sites.

The state news agency Tass, the pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia, St. Petersburg news site Fontanka, and a number of others were targeted in the hacking attack on Monday. The independent news site Meduza posted screenshots of a message, signed by the hacker group Anonymous and “indifferent journalists in Russia,” that appeared on the main pages of some of the hacked websites.

“Dear citizens. We urge you to stop this madness, don’t send your sons and husbands to die,” the message read. “In several years we will be living like in North Korea. What’s in it for us? So that (President Vladimir) Putin gets into history textbooks? It’s not our war, lets stop him!”

Access to most websites was restored within an hour after the hack. Tass said in a statement that the message contained “information that has nothing to do with reality.”

Officials say at least 11 civilians killed, dozens hurt in shelling of Kharkiv

Smoke rises as shells land in Kharkiv during a Russian attack on February 28 (Screencapture/Twitter
Smoke rises as shells land in Kharkiv during a Russian attack on February 28 (Screencapture/Twitter

At least 11 civilians have been killed in Russian shelling on Ukraine’s second-most populated city Kharkiv on Monday, the regional governor says, adding dozens more had been injured.

“The Russian enemy is bombing residential areas,” Oleg Sinegubov writes on the Telegram messaging app, saying that: “As a result of the bombardments that are ongoing, we cannot call on the emergency services… currently there are 11 dead and dozens wounded.”

Pictures emerging from Kharkiv show massive destruction after Russian shelling

Pictures and videos are emerging from the city of Kharkiv following intense shelling in the city.

According to local officials, several residential buildings were hit and severely damaged during the Russian onslaught on Ukraine’s second-largest city, killing at least one civilian and injuring dozens more civilians and soldiers.

Local media report slightly higher initial casualty figures.

According to the Kharkiv Times, a local prosecutor has opened a war crimes investigation, and Ukraine’s interior ministry has also accused Russia of indiscriminate shelling.

Pictures from the city show an apartment and a car hit by Grad missiles and unverified videos show heavy damage, bodies lying in streets, and a woman whose leg was reportedly blown off. Some of the pictures and videos are graphic. Viewer discretion advised.

The city was thought to be home to some 20,000 Jewish residents before hostilities began.

 

US said to warn Israel to ensure Russian oligarch money can’t hide in Israeli banks

The US has sent Israel messages warning Jerusalem to make sure that Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the international community can’t hide their money in Israeli banks, Ynet reports.

A senior official tells Ynet that the Bank of Israel is doing everything it can to make sure this does not happen.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said earlier that Israel was setting up an inter-ministerial committee to examine the implication of the sanctions on Russia for Israel.

Several prominent oligarchs are Jewish and some, like billionaire Roman Abramovich, hold Israeli citizenship.

Jewish group slams Australian billionaire for buying Hitler’s ‘Super Mercedes’

German Chancellor Adolf Hitler is shown sitting in his new Mercedes, a gift he received on his 50th birthday, in Berlin in this April 20, 1939 photo.   (AP Photo)
German Chancellor Adolf Hitler is shown sitting in his new Mercedes, a gift he received on his 50th birthday, in Berlin in this April 20, 1939 photo. (AP Photo)

Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission is slamming local billionaire Clive Palmer as “perverse” after he reportedly bought a bulletproof Mercedes that used to belong to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Australian media reported that mining magnate Palmer, who is also a Senate candidate, bought the vehicle from an unnamed Russian at a London auction for his vintage car collection.

The car, a Mercedes-Benz 770 Grosser Offener Tourenwagen — known as the Super Mercedes — is one of five used by Hitler that still exists, three of which are in private hands.

“I can’t get my head around this perversity,” says Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission.

“I call on Clive Palmer to look into his heart and to think about the 1.5 million children slaughtered by Hitler’s Nazi regime and the six million Jews exterminated in the gas chambers. The Holocaust is over, but the dangerous ideology and culture that fuelled the extermination of millions endure in today’s Australia. The vehicle of this monster, the world’s biggest murderer of Jews, should not form part of any vintage car collection or a car museum.”

Abramovich called for the vehicle to be donated to an institution that educates about the Holocaust.

Israeli woman injured as car stoned in West Bank

An Israeli woman is moderately hurt after stones are hurled toward her vehicle near the Palestinian town of Luban e-Sharkiya in the West Bank, medics say.

According to Rescuers Without Borders, a Jewish emergency service operating in the West Bank, the 29-year-old woman continued driving to the settlement of Eli, before being taken to Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says she is in moderate condition with blunt trauma wounds to her limbs and shrapnel injuries to her face from the shattered glass.

Jewish Agency: More than 5,000 Ukrainians inquire about moving to Israel

Ukrainian immigrants arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport on February 20, 2022. (Courtesy)
Ukrainian immigrants arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport on February 20, 2022. (Courtesy)

The Jewish Agency says that more than 5,000 Ukrainians have inquired about moving to Israel after Russia launched an invasion of their country.

A spokeswoman tells AFP that the agency has set up a hotline following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week to assist Jews wanting to immigrate.

So far there have been more than 5,000 requests, she says.

The agency has also set up six processing stations at Ukrainian border crossings with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary.

The stations “are meant to immediately assist the expected waves of immigration due to the war in Ukraine,” a statement says, and more will be staffed as needed.

Israeli government officials are responsible for evaluating the eligibility of immigration claims.

According to Israeli law, Jews and their children, grandchildren, and spouses are eligible for citizenship.

The Israeli foreign ministry said at least 2,000 Israelis have left Ukraine since Thursday, and estimate that at least another 6,000 Israelis remain in the country.

Netanyahu tells government to be quiet on Russia and focus on Iran

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls on the government to take a more guarded approach to the ongoing war in Ukraine and instead focus its attention on the Iran nuclear deal, in his first public statement on the European conflict since Russia invaded its neighbor.

“In days like these, it’s advisable to take positions with the utmost caution,” Netanyahu says at the opening of Monday’s Likud faction meeting. “Unfortunately, in the last few days we’ve heard too many unnecessary expressions and too many false predictions.”

Lapid said to warn ministers not to help sanctioned Jewish-Russian oligarchs

President Isaac Herzog speaks with Chelsea FC club owner Roman Abramovich, at the team's stadium, November 21, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog speaks with Chelsea FC club owner Roman Abramovich, at the team's stadium, November 21, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has warned government ministers not to provide assistance to Jewish-Russian billionaires who have been hit by international sanctions, Axios reports.

“You have to be very careful because those guys have connections and they can call you on the phone and ask you for things,” Axios quotes Lapid as saying, citing three people present at a cabinet meeting.

“Don’t commit to anything because it could cause diplomatic damage. Say you can’t help them and give them the number of the foreign ministry,” he says.

His comments come after several Israeli institutions wrote to US Ambassador Tom Nides urging Washington not to impose sanctions on Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich. The signatories, including Yad Vashem’s Dani Dayan, Chief Rabbi David Lau, and Sheba Medical Center director-general Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, said such a measure would both be unfair and negatively impact Israel and the Jewish world.

Child killed in traffic accident in southern Israel

A child has been killed in a traffic accident in southern Israel, police and medics say.

According to police, a 10-year-old boy riding a bicycle is hit by a bus in the Bedouin village of Abu Talul near Beersheba.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service however says medics found him lying unconscious on the Route 25 highway, several meters from the bus that apparently hit him. MDA puts the child’s age as 12.

Police say officers are at the scene and have opened an investigation.

Initial reports indicated two children had been killed in separate accidents. However, it emerged shortly after to be the same incident.

France: ‘Critical’ to conclude Iran nuclear talks this week

PARIS — France says it is”critical” that negotiators trying to restore a 2015 deal over Iran’s nuclear program reach an agreement this week.

All sides have signaled progress in the talks being held in Vienna, but Iran has said that the West still needs to decide on some key issues.

“There is a critical urgency to conclude the negotiations this week,” a French foreign ministry spokeswoman says.

Amid Ukraine crisis, German Chancellor Scholz to visit Israel on Tuesday

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on February 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on February 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will make a short visit to Israel on Tuesday, Hebrew media reports.

Scholz will hold talks with Israeli leaders and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, accompanied by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The visit comes amid international efforts to find an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel has been suggested as a mediator in the conflict due to its close ties with both nations.

 

Russia closes its airspace to 36 nations, including EU countries and Canada

Russia has closed its airspace to carriers from 36 nations, including European countries and Canada, responding in kind to their move to close their respective airspaces to all Russian aircraft.

The move, announced Monday by the state aviation agency, follows a decision by the EU and Canada over the weekend to close their skies to the Russian planes in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

It added that planes from those countries could only enter Russia’s airspace with special permission.

Nationwide rocket attack drill to be held in Israeli schools tomorrow

Students take their highschool exams inside a bomb shelter in the central Israeli village of Tzafria, May 20, 2021, amid rocket barrages from Hamas in Gaza and IDF counterstrikes. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
Students take their highschool exams inside a bomb shelter in the central Israeli village of Tzafria, May 20, 2021, amid rocket barrages from Hamas in Gaza and IDF counterstrikes. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

Educational institutions throughout the country are set to take part in a drill practicing responding to a rocket attack tomorrow.

Students and teaching staff will practice entering protected spaces and bomb shelters, simulating a rocket attack during class, the IDF’s Home Front Command says.

No actual sirens will sound during the exercise.

Police, Palestinians clash at Jerusalem’s Damascus gate on Islamic holy day

Palestinians and Israeli police clash near Damascus Gate as Muslims gather in Jerusalem for an Islamic holiday, leading to 10 arrests, police say.

The holy night, al-Miraj, celebrates the miraculous journey of Islam’s prophet, Mohammad, from Mecca to Jerusalem.

In videos from the scene, police can be seen dispersing groups of Palestinians with stun grenades and blasts from high-pressure water cannons.

In another video, a Palestinian runs after a cop and pushes him onto the ground while the officer grapples with a third Palestinian.

According to police, Palestinians “chanted incitement and threw stones and bottles at police on the scene.”

Damascus Gate has become one of Jerusalem’s flashpoint sites. Clashes between Palestinians and police at the gate were part of the buildup to last year’s war between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

UN report: Without urgent climate action, ‘livable future’ at risk

People stand in front of Kemerkoy Thermal Power Plant with a blaze from a wildfire approaching in the background, in Milas, Mugla, Turkey, Aug. 3, 2021. A panel of scientists convened by the UN has published a report on the impacts of climate change on the planet, including on the natural world and human civilization. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul, File)
People stand in front of Kemerkoy Thermal Power Plant with a blaze from a wildfire approaching in the background, in Milas, Mugla, Turkey, Aug. 3, 2021. A panel of scientists convened by the UN has published a report on the impacts of climate change on the planet, including on the natural world and human civilization. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul, File)

Humanity is perilously close to missing its chance to secure a “livable” future, UN experts conclude in a landmark report on the impacts of climate change published today.

“The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and planetary health,” says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its crucial Summary for Policymakers, distilling thousands of pages of scientific research.

Any further delay in global action to cut carbon pollution and prepare for impacts already in the pipeline “will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

Between 3.3 and 3.6 billion people “are highly vulnerable to climate change,” the report says, adding that the risk of impacts — deadly heatwaves, droughts, megastorms — is amplified by inequalities, as well as unsustainable use of land and sea.

Iran says it’s waiting for West’s ‘political decisions’ in nuclear talks

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press conference in Tehran, on February 22, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press conference in Tehran, on February 22, 2021. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

TEHRAN — Western parties have yet to make “political decisions” to conclude talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran says after its chief negotiator returned to Vienna.

All sides to the negotiations have signaled progress in the talks being held in the Austrian capital, but add that they are at a critical stage.

Iran has repeatedly emphasized the need for the West to make certain “decisions.”

“Unfortunately, Western sides and the US haven’t still made their political decisions on several remaining issues,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says at his weekly press conference.

These issues are “in the fields of removal of sanctions, guarantees and some political claims about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program,” he says.

Russian military says nuclear deterrent forces now on high alert

This photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, on February 19, 2022, shows a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an airfield during military drills. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
This photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, on February 19, 2022, shows a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an airfield during military drills. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW — The Russian military says its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert in line with President Vladimir Putin’s order.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has reported to Putin that command posts of all of Russia’s nuclear forces have been boosted with additional personnel. The Defense Ministry says that the high alert status applies to all components of Russian nuclear forces — the Strategic Missile Forces that oversee land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Northern and Pacific Fleets that have submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles, and the long-range aviation that has a fleet of nuclear-capable strategic bombers.

Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert Sunday, citing Western sanctions and “aggressive statements” by NATO powers. It’s not immediately clear what specific steps the measure implies, but it has raised fears that the war in Ukraine could lead to a bigger and even more dangerous confrontation.

UN: Over 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded

Refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on Monday, February 28, 2022. The head of the United Nations refugee agency says more than half a million people had fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Thursday. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on Monday, February 28, 2022. The head of the United Nations refugee agency says more than half a million people had fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Thursday. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

GENEVA — The UN refugee agency says that more than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country last week.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi gives the estimate in a tweet.

The latest and still growing count has 281,000 people entering Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, about 36,400 in Moldova, over 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia, UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo says.

The rest were scattered in unidentified other countries, she says.

Dozens said killed in Russian rocket strike on Ukrainian city of Kharkiv

Dozens of people were killed in rocket strikes by Russian forces on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, Reuters reports, quoting Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.

The reported strikes come as talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials began at the Belarus border.

 

Lithuania asks ICC to probe Russia, Belarus for war crimes

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuania says it wants the United Nations’ highest court to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia and Belarus.

The Baltic country’s Justice Minister Evelina Dobrovolska said the proposal was sent to The Hague, Netherlands-based International Criminal Court. The prosecutor has been asked to verify it and possibly launch an investigation, she said.

“In the face of such brutal aggression of the Putin regime against Ukraine, immediate action is needed,” Dobrovolska said in a statement.

The proposal said the case was directed at “the responsibility of specific individuals,” namely Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

On Saturday, Ukraine launched a case against Russia with the International Court of Justice accusing Moscow of planning genocide and asking the court to intervene to halt the invasion and order Russia to pay reparations.

Lapid: Israel to support General Assembly resolution condemning Russia

Israel will join the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, says Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

In a briefing at the Foreign Ministry, Lapid says Israel has a moral responsibility to both condemn Russia and give humanitarian assistance.

Three planes will leave for Ukraine with humanitarian assistance today and tomorrow.

“Israel was and is on the right side of History,” Lapid says.

Last week Israel rejected an American request to co-sponsor the UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia.

Lapid said the US “understood” Israel’s delicate relations with Moscow, noting Russia’s military presence on Israel’s northern border in Syria and a large number of Israelis and Jews currently in Ukraine.

He also notes that Israel is studying the effects of the Russia sanctions on the Israeli economy.

Roman Abramovich trying to broker peace between Ukraine and Russia, spokesperson claims

Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match in Gothenburg, Sweden on May 16, 2021. (Martin Meissner/AP)
Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich attends the UEFA Women's Champions League final soccer match in Gothenburg, Sweden on May 16, 2021. (Martin Meissner/AP)

A spokesperson for the Russian owner of the Chelsea soccer team, Roman Abramovich, says the billionaire oligarch is attempting to broker a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine.

“I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since,” Abramovich’s spokesperson tells the UK’s Press Association news agency, cited by Ireland’s RTE.

“Considering what is at stake, we would ask for your understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement. Thank you,” the spokesperson says.

Earlier this week Russian-Israeli billionaire Abramovich handed over control of the Chelsea soccer team to the club’s foundation trustees.

The move was thought to be amid concerns that the oligarch could be sanctioned due to his ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

400 Russian mercenaries sent to Kyiv to assassinate Zelensky – report

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the nation via his phone in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the nation via his phone in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 26, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Over 400 Russian mercenaries have been sent to Kyiv and ordered to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, London’s The Times reports.

The newspaper says mercenaries from the Wagner Group, the security company under the control of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, were flown in from Africa, where they were undertaking other operations.

The outlet says that when Ukrainian intelligence learned of the presence of the guns-for-hire in the capital, a curfew was imposed on Kyiv on Saturday morning so that security forces could hunt down the “saboteurs.”

The newspaper says thousands of other Russian mercenaries have been operating in Ukraine since the start of the year.

The Wagner Group plays a key role in promoting the Kremlin’s interests abroad. It has faced multiple accusations of carrying out crimes and atrocities.

Talks begin between Ukrainian and Russian delegations at Belarus border

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak says talks with the Russian delegation have begun at the Belarus border, the Reuters news agency reports.

Ukraine’s delegation includes Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Kyiv was initially reluctant to send a delegation to Belarus, given the country’s role as facilitator in Russia’s attack on Ukraine and amid reports it may be planning to join the invasion.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is skeptical about the possibility of a breakthrough.

Zelensky demands ‘immediate’ EU membership for Ukraine

In this photo taken from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this photo taken from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 27, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges the European Union to grant his country “immediate” membership, as Russia’s assault against the pro-Western country enters its fifth day.

“We appeal to the European Union for the immediate accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure,” the leader says in a new video address.

“Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing. I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible,” he says.

He says 16 children have died during the first four days of Moscow’s assault and another 45 were wounded as he hailed “Ukrainian heroes.”

Economy Ministry says no trade disruption with Ukraine, Russia but price hikes possible

A man prepares pita bread at a bakery at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on April 16, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man prepares pita bread at a bakery at the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem on April 16, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry says there have been no disruptions so far to trade of goods and services with Ukraine and Russia, respectively, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of its western neighbor, but warns of possible price increases on raw agricultural imports to Israel such as wheat.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat and other grains and the crisis threatens to disrupt the global supply chain. Russia is the world’s largest supplier of wheat and Ukraine accounts for around 12 percent of global supply, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

According S&P Global Platts, Ukraine wheat exports between July 2021 and June 2022 were projected to reach 22.5 million metric tons. The US Department of Agriculture forecast the country’s wheat exports at 24.2 million for that period.

According to an assessment by Ron Malka, director-general of the Economy Ministry, a shortage of essential goods was not expected, but “there may be price increases due to supply difficulties resulting from the fighting in Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.

The government body says it is coordinating situational assessments on economic matters with the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Israeli companies operating in Ukraine, and other government ministries.

Bilateral trade between Israel and Ukraine stood at nearly $800 million 2020, according to the Economy Ministry — some $650 million in imports from Ukraine and about $135 million in exports from Israel.

A majority of Ukrainian imports to Israel (67%) are raw agricultural products like grains and food products, while most exports from Israel to Ukraine (62%) are chemical and industrial products, according to data provided by the ministry citing the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Agricultural and food imports from Russia to Israel were about 15% in 2021, according to the data.

Ukraine demands immediate ceasefire as delegation arrives at Belarus border for talks

A view of the venue that will host talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Gomel region on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)
A view of the venue that will host talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Gomel region on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)

Ukraine demands an immediate Russian ceasefire and troop withdrawal as a Kyiv delegation arrives for talks with Russian negotiators on the fifth day of the Kremlin’s offensive against the country.

“The Ukrainian delegation arrived at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border to take part in talks with representatives of the Russian Federation,” the Ukrainian presidency says in a statement.

“The key issue of the talks is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine,” the presidency says.

Russia says talks with Ukraine set to begin in coming hours on Belarus border

A view of the venue that will host talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Gomel region on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)
A view of the venue that will host talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia in Belarus' Gomel region on February 28, 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei KHOLODILIN / BELTA / AFP)

Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky says talks with Ukraine are set to begin in the coming hours near the border with Belarus.

Medinsky tells Russian state news TASS that his team was “ready for negotiations immediately after their arrival,” referring to the Ukrainian delegation.

Ukrainian officials initially rejected holding the talks at this location, saying they should take place elsewhere than Belarus, where Russia has placed a large contingent of troops.

Russian army says Ukrainian civilians can use safe corridor to leave Kyiv

A man walks in front of a destroyed building after a Russian missile attack in the town of  Vasylkiv, near Kyiv, on February 27, 2022 (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)
A man walks in front of a destroyed building after a Russian missile attack in the town of Vasylkiv, near Kyiv, on February 27, 2022 (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)

MOSCOW — The Russian military says that residents of the Ukrainian capital can use a safe corridor to leave the city if they want.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says that Kyiv residents can safely use a highway leading to Vasylkiv just southwest of the Ukrainian capital.

The statement comes as fighting raged in various parts of the Ukrainian capital, with Ukrainian authorities saying that they were fighting small groups of Russian forces in various sectors of the capital.

Konashenkov charges that Ukrainian “nationalists” are deploying military equipment using the city residents as shields, allegations that can’t be independently verified.

Despite the Russian military’s claims that it wasn’t targeting populated areas, residential buildings, hospitals and schools have been hit all across Ukraine since the invasion began.

Defense Ministry seizes cryptocurrency, digital wallets allegedly intended to fund Hamas

A visual representation of Bitcoin, at the 'Bitcoin Change' shop in Tel Aviv, February 6, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)
A visual representation of Bitcoin, at the 'Bitcoin Change' shop in Tel Aviv, February 6, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The Defense Ministry says it has seized digital wallets containing currency worth tens of thousands of shekels destined for use by the Hamas terror group.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz approves the seizure of some 30 cryptocurrency wallets belonging to 12 accounts, owned by an exchange company based in the Gaza Strip which has been designated as a terror organization.

The military says Almatahdon, which is owned by the Shamlah family, “assists the Hamas terror group, and especially its military wing, by transferring funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars a year.”

Gantz says in the statement: “We continue to expand the tools to cope with terror and the companies that support it. I commend the organizations involved for their intelligence, operational, and legal cooperation. We will continue to take all the measures necessary to fight terror.”

UK intelligence: Russian advance slowed by ‘logistical failures, staunch Ukrainian resistance’

Members of civil defense prepare Molotov cocktails in a yard in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)
Members of civil defense prepare Molotov cocktails in a yard in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

The UK’s Defense Ministry says intelligence suggests the advance of Russian forces has been slowed by “logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance.”

The ministry says in a tweet that the bulk of Russia’s ground forces remain more than 30 kilometers to the north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

The ministry says Moscow’s troops have “been slowed by Ukrainian forces defending Hostomel airfield, a key Russian objective for day one of the conflict.”

Cyber attacks on Ukrainian government, military up 196% — Israeli study

An illustrative image of a computer virus, a malware, ransomware attack by a hacker. (solarseven; iStock by Getty Images)
An illustrative image of a computer virus, a malware, ransomware attack by a hacker. (solarseven; iStock by Getty Images)

In the first three days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, cyber attacks on Ukrainian government sites and the military sector surged by 196% while attacks on Russian organizations increased by just 4%, according to a new report by Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Software.

Check Point’s research department also notes a sharp increase in malicious phishing emails written in the East Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian) since last Thursday when the Russian assault began, compared to data from earlier this month.

A majority of the phishing emails are being directed at Russian recipients from real or spoofed Ukrainian emails addresses, the researchers say.

There is also a notable increase in fraudulent emails seeking donations for Ukraine, in a bid to dupe people into sending money to falsified funds, the researchers warn.

“Cyber activity is surging around the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict,” says Lotem Finkelstein, head of Threat Intelligence at Check Point Software in a statement. “We’re seeing cyber-attack increases on both sides, with the Ukrainian government and military sector seeing the heaviest increase. It’s important to understand that the current war also has a cyber dimension to it, where people online are choosing sides, from the dark web to social media.”

Russia’s Central Bank sharply raises key rate from 9.5% to 20% as ruble plummets

People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM in Sberbank in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 25, 2022 (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM in Sberbank in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 25, 2022 (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW — Russia’s Central Bank sharply raises its key rate from 9.5% to 20% in a desperate attempt to shore up the plummeting ruble and prevent the run of banks amid crippling Western sanctions over the Russian war in Ukraine.

The bank’s action follows the Western decision Sunday to freeze its hard currency reserves in an unprecedented move that could have devastating consequences for the country’s financial stability.

It is unclear exactly what share of Russia’s estimated $640 billion hard currency coffers will be paralyzed by the move, but European officials said that at least half of it will be affected.

The move will dramatically raise pressure on the ruble by undermining the financial authorities’ ability to conduct hard currency interventions to prevent the ruble from sinking further and triggering high inflation. The ruble has sharply dived in early Monday trading.

The Central Bank also orders a slew of measures to help the banks cope with the crisis by infusing more cash into the system and easing restrictions for banking operations. At the same time, it temporarily barred non-residents from selling the government obligations to help ease the pressure on ruble from panicky foreign investors eager to cash out.

Russia investigating alleged torture of POWs by Ukrainian troops

Russia’s investigative agency says it has opened a probe into the allegations of torture of Russian prisoners of war by members of Ukrainian forces.

The Investigative Committee, the main state criminal investigation agency, says that the probe will track down people responsible for torturing Russian prisoners.

The move follows the claim by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, who pointed at alleged incidents in which Ukrainian forces tortured Russian prisoners and vowed to track all the culprits down and bring them to justice. He didn’t provide details or evidence to back the claim.

As conflict enters 5th day, Ukraine claims Russia has slowed its offensive

An armored vehicle rolls outside Mykolaivka, Donetsk region, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, in eastern Ukraine, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo)
An armored vehicle rolls outside Mykolaivka, Donetsk region, the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants, in eastern Ukraine, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo)

The Ukrainian military says that Russian troops have slowed down “the pace of the offensive,” as Moscow’s assault against Ukraine enters its fifth day.

“The Russian occupiers have reduced the pace of the offensive, but are still trying to develop success in some areas,” the general staff of the armed forces says.

Kyiv, Washington believe Belarus preparing to join Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Tanks move during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus, February 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)
Tanks move during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in Belarus, February 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr)

Ukrainian intelligence services believe Belarus has “readiness to maybe participate directly” in Russia’s invasion, CNN reports.

An unnamed Ukrainian government official tells the outlet that this would be “in addition” to the current situation whereby Russian troops are using Belarus as a staging post and crossing the territory to enter Ukraine.

A second source, said by CNN to be close to Ukraine’s government, says the US has also told Kyiv that Belarus is making preparations to invade.

CNN’s report confirms The Washington Post’s reporting on the matter.

The report comes as Ukrainian officials are set to meet their Russian counterparts on the Belarus border for talks.

Ruble sinks 26% after SWIFT sanctions against Russia; intensifying bank runs expected

People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM of Alfa Bank in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Victor Berzkin)
People stand in line to withdraw money from an ATM of Alfa Bank in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Victor Berzkin)

The ruble plunges to a record low of less than 1 US cent in value as Russia is cut off from the global bank payments system in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian currency drops nearly 26% to 105.27 per dollar, down from about 84 per dollar late Friday.

The US, Japan and other Western nations moved over the weekend to impose additional sanctions against Russia, including restrictions on access for some Russian banks to the SWIFT global bank payments system.

Restrictions on the Russian central bank target its access to more than $600 billion in reserves the Kremlin has at its disposal, hindering its ability to support the ruble after it fell last week to its lowest level ever.

The decline of the ruble will likely send inflation soaring, hurting all Russians and not just the Russian elites who were the targets of earlier sanctions. The resulting economic disruption, if Saturday’s measures are as harsh as described, could leave Putin facing political unrest at home.

Analysts predict intensifying runs on banks by Russians, and falling government reserves as Russians scrambled to sell their targeted currency for safer assets.

UN to hold 2 meetings on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The United Nations Security Council meets at the UN Headquarters in New York City on February 27, 2022 (Andrea Renault/AFP / AFP)
The United Nations Security Council meets at the UN Headquarters in New York City on February 27, 2022 (Andrea Renault/AFP / AFP)

UNITED NATIONS — The two major bodies in the United Nations will hold separate meetings today on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The meetings of the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council reflect widespread demands for a cease-fire and escalating concern for the millions of Ukrainians caught up in the war.

The Security Council gave a green light Sunday for the first emergency session of the General Assembly in decades. It will give all UN members an opportunity to speak about the war and vote on a resolution that US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says will “hold Russia to account for its indefensible actions and for its violations of the UN Charter.”

French Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere announced the Security Council meeting on the humanitarian impact of Russia’s invasion, a session sought by French President Emmanuel Macron to ensure the delivery of aid to people in need in Ukraine.

Both meetings follow Russia’s veto of a Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops. The vote Friday was 11-1, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining.

Kyiv still under Ukrainian control after overnight combat, military says

Ukraine’s military says the capital Kyiv is still under Ukrainian control, despite Russian attacks overnight.

The Ukrainian military claims to have inflicted heavy losses against Russian troops.

Air raid sirens go off in Kyiv early in the morning.

Residents hear at least one large explosion overnight.

It’s still unclear whether Russian forces took over any other Ukrainian cities overnight.

Сьогоднішній день ворог продовжив спроби прорвати оборону Києва. Неодноразово колони російських військ намагались…

Posted by Сухопутні війська ЗС України on Sunday, February 27, 2022

Stock prices drop as markets open for the first time since sanctions announced

Asian stock prices fall after Western nations moved to tighten sanctions against Russia.

US futures fell, with the contract for the S&P 500 down 2.5%, after the market dropped last week due to the Ukraine conflict.

The stock markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai declined while Sydney was higher.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused markets to swing wildly, given the potential impact on inflation, energy supplies and other areas. The Russian ruble has weakened sharply, falling by nearly 30% in offshore trading.

Japan joins moves by the US and Western nations to impose sanctions on Russia, including blocking some Russian banks from the SWIFT global payment system.

Internet monitor says Russia is blocking Facebook

Russia has apparently rendered Facebook largely unusable across leading Russian telecommunications providers amid rising friction between Moscow and the social media platform, an internet monitor says.

The London-based NetBlocks reports that Facebook’s network of content-distribution servers in Russia was so badly restricted Sunday that “content no longer loads, or loads extremely slowly making the platforms unusable.”

Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor on Friday announced plans to “partially restrict” access to Facebook. That same day, Facebook’s head of security policy had said the company was barring Russian state media from running ads or otherwise profiting on its platform anywhere in the world.

Facebook says it has also refused a request by the Kremlin not to run fact checks related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the platform for users inside Russia.

NetBlocks reported earlier that access to Twitter was similarly restricted Saturday. That was a day after Twitter said it was temporarily halting ads in both Ukraine and Russia.

The Twitter and Facebook restrictions can be circumvented inside Russia using VPN software, just as users do in mainland China.

Israeli medics arrive in Moldova to assist Ukraine relief efforts

A team of Israeli medics arrives in Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova to assist in relief efforts.

Fifteen medics from the United Hatzalah emergency response organization connect with the Jewish community in the city of Chișinău, also known as Kishinev.

The team has 12 Israelis and three Americans. Another Hatzalah team is set to arrive from Miami, Florida.

The team will provide humanitarian and medical assistance to refugees from Ukraine.

The team attends two local Jewish community weddings after they arrive, Hatzalah says.

Canada says Russian flight violated its airspace

Canada says a civilian Russian flight violated a ban on Russian flights in Canadian airspace.

“We are aware that Aeroflot flight 111 violated the prohibition put in place earlier today on Russian flights using Canadian airspace,” Transport Canada says.

“We are launching a review,” the official government Twitter account says. “We will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action and other measures to prevent future violations.”

Aeroflot flight 111 goes from Miami, Florida, to Moscow, passing over Canada’s eastern coast on the way.

Aeroflot is Russia’s flag-carrier airline and the country’s largest.

Europe and Canada closed their airspace to Aeroflot on Sunday. The airline said it was halting flights to Europe.

Biden and allies to talk Monday to coordinate Ukraine response

US President Joe Biden will hold a secure call with allies and partners on Monday to discuss “developments” in Russia’s attack on Ukraine and “coordinate our united response,” the White House says.

The administration did not elaborate on who would participate in the call, which will take place at 11:15 a.m.

Russia has become an international pariah as its forces do battle on the streets of Ukraine’s cities, and is facing a barrage of sanctions including a ban from Western airspace and key financial networks.

Earlier, the G7 threatened fresh sanctions as top US diplomat Antony Blinken said the group of wealthy nations was “fully aligned” against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Also on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered that Russia’s nuclear “deterrence forces” be put on high alert, prompting an immediate international outcry, with the United States slamming the order as “totally unacceptable.”

Biden’s call with allies will come as the UN General Assembly debates a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

UN says missiles hit radioactive waste site in Kyiv, but caused no damage

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.

The International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi says Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike. He says his agency expects to soon receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring.

The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged.

Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Grossi says the two incidents highlight a “very real risk.”

He says if the sites are damaged there could be “potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment.”

Missile strike injures woman in city of Chernihiv

Ukraine’s state communications service reports loud blasts in the capital Kyiv and the second city Kharkiv as fighting for major cities continues overnight.

Kyiv had been relatively quiet for several hours before the explosion.

A missile hits a residential building in the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, setting ablaze two of the building’s lower floors, the Kyiv Independent reports.

One woman is injured in the missile strike.

Air raid alerts were heard earlier in the night in Chernihiv, sending residents to shelters.

There is no word yet on whether Russian forces have taken any cities during the night’s fighting.

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