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US to close airspace to Russian flights, joining Europeans

President vows support for Kyiv, touts sanctions to cheering Congress at first State of the Union address; airborne forces said to attack second largest Ukrainian city

  • Ukraine Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, acknowledges President Joe Biden as first lady Jill Biden applauds during his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)
    Ukraine Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, acknowledges President Joe Biden as first lady Jill Biden applauds during his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)
  • President Joe Biden arrives to deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
    President Joe Biden arrives to deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
  • An armed man stands near a barricade during an air raid alarm in Maidan Square, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
    An armed man stands near a barricade during an air raid alarm in Maidan Square, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
  • A demonstrator carries a placard reading in Hebrew 'Israel cannot stand to the side' during a protest against the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, outside the city hall in Jerusalem, on February 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    A demonstrator carries a placard reading in Hebrew 'Israel cannot stand to the side' during a protest against the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, outside the city hall in Jerusalem, on February 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen applauds after an address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky via video link, during an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen applauds after an address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky via video link, during an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
  • People walk by a damaged vehicle and an armored car at a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
    People walk by a damaged vehicle and an armored car at a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
  • Smoke billows over Kyiv after a missile attack targeting the Ukrainian capital's television tower in Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)
    Smoke billows over Kyiv after a missile attack targeting the Ukrainian capital's television tower in Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)
  • A satellite image taken by the US company Maxar, which it says shows part of a 40-mile-long Russian military convoy assembled northwest of Kyiv, Ukraine. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech/Agencies)
    A satellite image taken by the US company Maxar, which it says shows part of a 40-mile-long Russian military convoy assembled northwest of Kyiv, Ukraine. (Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Tech/Agencies)
  • Ukrainian firefighters stand beneath a television broadcast tower in the Jewish cemetery located in Kyiv's Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site on March 1, 2022. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)
    Ukrainian firefighters stand beneath a television broadcast tower in the Jewish cemetery located in Kyiv's Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site on March 1, 2022. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)
  • Workers load packages of Israeli humanitarian aid to assist people caught up in the fighting in Ukraine, in Ben Gurion airport, on March 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
    Workers load packages of Israeli humanitarian aid to assist people caught up in the fighting in Ukraine, in Ben Gurion airport, on March 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
  • Israeli passengers arriving from Ukraine via the border with Romania on a rescue flight are welcomed by their family upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport on March 1, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli passengers arriving from Ukraine via the border with Romania on a rescue flight are welcomed by their family upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport on March 1, 2022. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Deputy Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations Noa Furman speaks during an emergency meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
    Deputy Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations Noa Furman speaks during an emergency meeting of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Refugees from Ukraine line up to get in to Poland on border crossing in Medyka, in eastern Poland on February 28, 2022 (Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)
    Refugees from Ukraine line up to get in to Poland on border crossing in Medyka, in eastern Poland on February 28, 2022 (Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)
  • An armed man walks past a burned armored personnel carrier (APC) BTR-4 on a check-point in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (Genya Savilov/AFP)
    An armed man walks past a burned armored personnel carrier (APC) BTR-4 on a check-point in the city of Brovary outside Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (Genya Savilov/AFP)
  • Emergency personnel work in the city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
    Emergency personnel work in the city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
  • Ukrainian servicemen ride on top of an armored personnel carrier speeding down a deserted boulevard during an air raid alarm, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. The U.N.'s refugees chief is warning that many more vulnerable people will begin fleeing their homes in Ukraine if Russia's military offensive continues and further urban areas are hit. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
    Ukrainian servicemen ride on top of an armored personnel carrier speeding down a deserted boulevard during an air raid alarm, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. The U.N.'s refugees chief is warning that many more vulnerable people will begin fleeing their homes in Ukraine if Russia's military offensive continues and further urban areas are hit. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Tuesday’s events as they unfold.

80,000 Ukrainians returning from abroad to fight, ministry says

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says 80,000 of its citizens have returned from abroad to help defend the country since February 24.

“Ukrainian citizens who work or temporarily live abroad are returning to their homeland to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it says in a statement. “They join the ranks of the Armed Forces, other military formations and territorial defense forces.”

Almost all of the 80,000 are men, it notes.

Non-Ukrainians are also traveling to the country to join the war, according to reports, answering a call for a foreign legion by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Japan says 70 of its citizens, including veterans of its defense forces and the French Foreign Legion, have applied to travel there to fight, Reuters reports.

Biden to focus on Ukraine as State of the Union kicks off

US President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union is about to begin.

Biden’s staff has revised the speech multiple times in recent days to include references to Ukraine, and he is expected to focus on the war at the top of the address, CNN reports.

Many members of Congress are wearing lapels or emblems showing support with the embattled country. The White House has positioned Ukraine’s ambassador to the US next to First Lady Jill Biden for the speech, in a sign of support.

“We stand with Ukraine,” Vice President Kamala Harris tells reporters as she arrives at the Capitol.

After criticism, Israel to co-sponsor UN resolution condemning Russia

Israel’s ambassador to the US announces that Jerusalem will co-sponsor a UN resolution condemning Russia, following criticism from the West over its attempts to balance support for Kyiv and maintaining ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a series of tweets, Michael Herzog says Israel “undeniably supports Ukraine, its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.”

But he indicates that Israel does not want to jeopardize its ability to strike Iran-backed forces in Syria, which depends on Russia’s tacit support.

“While our moral position is clear, we are striving to pursue it in a way that will maintain our freedom of operations against Iran in the region, which is in everybody’s interest,” he tweets.

The announcement comes after Israel was criticized for refusing to sell missile defense systems to Ukraine and balking at support for a UN resolution condemning Moscow last week, which reportedly drew a rebuke from the US.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said earlier that Israel was seeking to “help quietly” while maintaining its own strategic interests.

“The State of Israel has taken a measured and responsible approach, which allows us not only to protect our interests, but also to be useful,” Bennett said.

It’s unclear why Herzog makes the announcement and not Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, but earlier in the day the government signaled unhappiness with Erdan, tasking his deputy with delivering a speech backing Ukraine at the UN.

US expected to ban Russian overflights — reports

The US is planning to ban Russian flights from using its airspace, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters report.

The move would follow several European countries taking the same measure, leading to reciprocal bans from Moscow.

Reuters reports the ban is expected to go into effect Wednesday, and comes after the White House has held talks with airlines over the last several days.

European diplomat slams Israeli attempts to keep Putin ties intact

A European diplomat criticizes Israel’s cautious policy on the Ukraine conflict in a phone call with The Times of Israel.

“Israel can’t decide not to be on the side of the European countries and the United States,” the diplomat says, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said today that Israel was seeking to “help quietly” while maintaining its own strategic interests.

“The State of Israel has taken a measured and responsible approach, which allows us not only to protect our interests, but also to be useful,” Bennett said.

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)

The diplomat says that European countries “are aware of Israel’s security interests.” But the official also adds that Israel is putting too much weight on maintaining good ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“How is Israel ready to trust a president that is violating all his relations with all the world, that this outweighs anything else for Israel?” the diplomat says.

Belarus sending more troops to Ukraine border, Lukashenko says

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says he ordered more troops to the south of the country, by the border with Ukraine, the Belta news agency reports.

But he says forces of Belarus, a close ally of Russia, would not be taking part in the attack on Ukraine.

“That’s not our job,” he says.

Lukashenko tells his security council that he will be sending five tactical battle groups to protect the south.

These battle groups will comprise hundreds of soldiers equipped with armored vehicles and artillery.

Helicopters and warplanes were already protecting the southern border, he says

A massive 40-mile long Russian convoy is currently sitting on a road between Belarus and Kyiv, and US intelligence officials believe the troops may have run out of food or fuel, following poor logistical planning.

Ukraine says Chechen assassins targeting Zelensky taken out

The head of Ukraine’s National Security Council says a group of Chechen assassins sent to kill President Volodymyr Zelensky have been killed after their plot was foiled.

Oleksiy Danilov says Russian intel officers who oppose the war provided information that allowed Ukrainian forces to find the unit of Chechen special forces under the direction of warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Kadyrov forces unit, which came to kill our President, was eliminated,” he tells Ukraine 24 TV. “”We will not give our President or our country to anyone. This is our land, get out of here.”

Zelensky has said that he is the Kremlin’s number one target and his family the second highest on Russia’s kill list. He told CNN today that he had not seen his family in three days.

Biden to talk up NATO, slam Putin in State of the Union address

US President Joe Biden says that dictators who do not “pay a price for their aggression” cause more chaos.

According to excerpts released Tuesday ahead of his first State of the Union address, Biden says that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was “premeditated and unprovoked.”

He will also highlight the importance of European allies in the speech before Congress at the US Capitol on Tuesday evening. Biden says that the alliance established after World War II to secure “peace and stability” in Europe is just as relevant now.

He says that Putin believed the NATO alliance would not respond and Americans would be divided, but “Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

Reports suggest Russian forces have taken Kherson central square

Pictures published online appear to show that the Russian army has taken over the city center of Kherson, a key southern Ukrainian city on the mouth of the Dnieper where battles have raged for days.

A picture, which cannot be independently verified, shows Russian military vehicles surrounding the city’s Freedom Square.

Earlier reports out of Kherson, one of a number of Black Sea port cities to be targeted by in the early stages of the Kremlin’s offensive, indicated that Russian forces were in the city, setting off street battles there.

The city is home to a sizeable Jewish community.

Alexander Vainer, director of the Jewish care group Hesed’s branch in Kherson, spoke to ToI on Sunday, saying the situation there was “critical.”

“Everybody has been told to stay at home, close to the shelters,” he said. “The town seems to be dead, there’s nobody outside. The sirens go off all the time. There is no food in the shops and people have to survive on what was bought before.”

With reporting from Sue Surkes.

 

Zelensky says he expects Russian assault to ramp up

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he expects Russia to “double up” its onslaught against his country, after it suffered initial losses in its initial sallies into Ukraine.

Zelensky, looking tired, makes the comments to CNN from a darkened government building, with sandbags all around.

He says that while he expects Russian President Vladimir Putin to ratchet up the offensive, he remains confident in his forces, noting that they are fighting for their homeland, and that the Russians “don’t know anything,” about where they are.

But he repeats his pleas for Western aid, saying that Ukraine cannot stand up to the full might of the Russian military alone.

Switching between Ukrainian and broken English, Zelenksy indicates he remains skeptical that talks with Russia will achieve much, saying they could be a “waste of time.”

“We’ll see,” if the Russians are ready for peace, he says.

Apple says it has ‘paused’ all product sales in Russia

Tech giant Apple announces a halt in all product sales in Russia, the latest fallout over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country,” says an Apple statement carried by US media.

The Apple logo is displayed in an Apple store in lower Manhattan, on August 2, 2018, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

Ukraine seeks to boot Russia from the internet

Pro-Ukrainian people wave Ukrainian flags as they shout slogans during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Pro-Ukrainian people wave Ukrainian flags as they shout slogans during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

KYIV — Ukraine has effectively asked that Russia be kicked off the internet.

In a letter sent to the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Ukraine’s deputy minister for digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, cited the “atrocious crimes” of Russia’s invasion, including its alleged breach of the Geneva Conventions in attacking civilian targets.

Federov says the crimes “have been made possible mainly due to the Russian propaganda machinery,” and cites cyberattacks “from the Russian side” that have impeded the ability of Ukrainians and their government to communicate.

Federov asks that ICANN revoke, permanently or temporarily, the domains .ru and .su and shut down the root servers in Moscow and St. Petersburg that match domain names and numbers.

“Russian citizens must feel the cost of war,” government spokesperson Oleksandr Ryzhenko says today.

ICANN has no immediate comment, but the regional internet naming authority for Europe and the former Soviet Union, RIPE NCC, rejects the request.

In an email to members, RIPE’s executive board says it believes “the means to communicate should not be affected by domestic political disputes, international conflicts or war.”

Kicking Russia off the internet would be an annoyance to Russian hackers, but it wouldn’t stop them since they could still use different top-level internet domains. But it would badly isolate the Russian public from international discourse.

US said to have given Ukraine’s Zelensky secure satellite phone to keep in touch

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, on February 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, on February 26, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The United States has been keeping in touch with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with a secure satellite phone it provided him before Russia invaded Ukraine, CNN reports.

Citing a US official, the network says the phone allows Zelensky to keep in contact with US officials while he’s on the move.

Top US general in Mideast said due in Israel for talks on military cooperation

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command at Resolute Support headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahmad Seir)
Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command at Resolute Support headquarters, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahmad Seir)

Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, is due to arrive in Israel tomorrow for talks with top Israeli military officials, according to Hebrew media reports.

McKenzie is expected to meet with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and will also reportedly sit down with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The Ynet news site says that McKenzie, who oversees American military operations in the Middle East, moved up his trip by several weeks to speak with Bennett and Kohavi about military cooperation and “operational coordination” regarding IDF operations in his military theater, which the report notes includes Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.

IDF says Palestinian shot after hurling Molotov cocktail at troops

Israeli security forces fire rubber bullets during clashes with Palestinians in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on March 1, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Israeli security forces fire rubber bullets during clashes with Palestinians in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on March 1, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Amid clashes in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian who hurled a Molotov cocktail at troops was shot at, a military spokesperson says.

According to the IDF, some 20 Palestinians hurled stones at soldiers and set tires on fire near the village of Burqa.

“One of the suspects approached the troops and threw a Molotov cocktail at them. The troops responded with gunfire,” the spokesperson says.

The official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA says the man was seriously hurt and taken to a hospital in Nablus. The military is aware of this claim.

Three Palestinians have been killed today in separate incidents. Ammar Shafiq Abu Afifa, 21, was shot dead near the settlement of Migdal Oz under unclear circumstances, and 19-year-old Shadi al-Najm and 22-year-old Abdullah al-Housri were killed during a gunbattle near Jenin early this morning.

White House: Biden, Zelensky discussed deadly Russian strike near Babi Yar memorial

US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House, on September 1, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House, on September 1, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden discussed Russia’s escalation of attacks on civilian sites in Ukraine, including a deadly strike in Kyiv near the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial, in a phone call today with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a White House readout.

Biden offered the “United States’ continued backing for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression,” the readout says.

“President Biden underscored the United States’ sustained help for Ukraine, including ongoing deliveries of security assistance, economic support, and humanitarian aid.”

“The leaders discussed how the United States, along with Allies and partners, is working to hold Russia accountable, including by imposing sanctions that are already having an impact on the Russian economy,” the statement adds.

UK bans all ships with Russian links from British ports

In this photo released February 16, 2021, by the Iranian army, a Russian warship enters Iranian waters for a joint naval exercise with the Iranian navy and Iran's Revolutionary Guard navy. (Iranian Army via AP)
In this photo released February 16, 2021, by the Iranian army, a Russian warship enters Iranian waters for a joint naval exercise with the Iranian navy and Iran's Revolutionary Guard navy. (Iranian Army via AP)

Britain bans any ship with Russian connections from entering its ports as the country steps up efforts to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government because of its war in Ukraine.

Announcing the blanket ban in a tweet, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps encourages other countries to prohibit ships tied to Russia from using their ports.

“We’ve just become the first nation to pass a law involving a total ban of all ships with any Russian connection whatsoever from entering British ports,” Shapps says.

Damage to Babi Yar memorial appears to be limited to buildings near cemetery

Ukrainian firefighters work to put out a blaze in a building in the Jewish cemetery located in Kyiv's Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site, on March 1, 2022. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)
Ukrainian firefighters work to put out a blaze in a building in the Jewish cemetery located in Kyiv's Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site, on March 1, 2022. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)

Photographs from the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site, which was hit in a Russian strike on a nearby television broadcast tower, show that the majority of the damage to the site was in a series of buildings located in a Jewish cemetery that is part of the complex.

Ukrainian firefighters worked to extinguish a fire that broke out after the buildings were hit by a Russian missile.

There does not appear to be any direct damage to the Babi Yar monument itself, a spokesperson for the site says.

International Court of Justice to hold hearings on Ukraine next week

The United Nations flag flutters in the wind next to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, on August 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)
The United Nations flag flutters in the wind next to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands, on August 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)

The International Court of Justice says it will hold hearings on March 7 and 8 over the war in Ukraine as fighting intensifies.

“The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will hold public hearings in the case concerning Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation) on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 March 2022,” the court says in a statement.

President Herzog heading to Cyprus tomorrow for a few hours

President Isaac Herzog speaks during a ceremony announcing the winners of the Wolf Foundation award, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on February 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog speaks during a ceremony announcing the winners of the Wolf Foundation award, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on February 8, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog is heading to Cyprus tomorrow, less than a week after he visited Greece, with both visits seen as sending a message of support for Israel’s regional allies ahead of his planned trip to Turkey.

Herzog is slated to be on the ground in Cyprus — less than an hour flight from Tel Aviv — for just a few hours, and meet with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, as well as hold a larger bilateral meeting to discuss ties.

The president is expected to return to Israel tomorrow afternoon.

US Orthodox leader says community offering homes, funding for Ukraine refugees

A child collects toys near a clothes donation point as refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on February 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A child collects toys near a clothes donation point as refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on February 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Orthodox Jews in the US are raising funds, holding prayer sessions, and offering their homes to refugees in response to the war in Ukraine, says Rabbi Labish Becker, executive director of the Agudath Israel of America umbrella group.

The organization and its partners held a meeting with over 200 rabbis from across the US to coordinate a response on the first day of the war. It is running a campaign in synagogues and online to raise funds.

It is working with affiliates on the ground in Ukraine to help get people out of the country by distributing funds and working with Washington connections to advise on border crossings.

“We’ve got people calling offering their homes in the United States if they want to come, saying ‘Please, you can come stay as long as you want,'” he says.

Many community leaders partnered with Agudath are raising money, so it’s hard to know the exact amount, but it’s likely over $2 million so far, he says.

“It’s something that I think every Jew feels the responsibility of and wants to help,” he says. “We were shocked by how many people big and small donated.”

“All the [synagogues] I’ve been to, everyone is saying [psalms], everyone is [praying],” he says.

Bennett to Ukrainian Jewish Masa participants: You have a home in Israel

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with a group of Ukrainian Masa participants, on March 1, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with a group of Ukrainian Masa participants, on March 1, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with a group of Ukrainian Jews taking part in a Masa program in Israel.

“First and foremost, I want to tell you that you have a home here. Israel is your home, the home of your families and of every Jew in the world — now and forever,” Bennett tells the group, many of whom have been in Israel for several months. “This is the reason that the State of Israel was established.”

Bennett thanks the group for meeting with him, saying that the purpose of the sit-down is “for me to hear from you, to know what is happening with you and your families in Ukraine.”

Lapid says Israel will help fix damage to Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site

An art installation commemorating victims of the Babi Yar massacre during commemorative events marking the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre of Kyiv Jews perpetrated by German occupying forces in 1941 in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
An art installation commemorating victims of the Babi Yar massacre during commemorative events marking the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre of Kyiv Jews perpetrated by German occupying forces in 1941 in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says Israel will help fix whatever damage has been caused to the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv in a recent Russian strike on a nearby television broadcast tower.

In his statement, Lapid says Israel “denounced the damage” to the Babi Yar memorial and to a nearby Jewish cemetery, but pointedly refrains from identifying Russia as having caused it.

“We call for the sacred site to be protected and honored,” Lapid says.

“At the instruction of Foreign Minister Lapid, the ambassador to Kyiv is in contact with the managers of the site and, when it is possible, we will help fix the damage,” the ministry says.

Israel’s deputy envoy tells UN: Jerusalem has been trying to broker Ukraine talks

Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman speaks to the UN General Assembly meeting on the Ukraine crisis, on March 1, 2022. (Screenshot)
Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman speaks to the UN General Assembly meeting on the Ukraine crisis, on March 1, 2022. (Screenshot)

In a brief speech before the UN General Assembly, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman calls Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a serious violation of the international order” and calls on Moscow “to heed the calls of the international community to stop the attack and respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

“Given our deep ties with both sides, we are willing to contribute to the diplomatic efforts if so requested, and have been trying to do so in the last couple of weeks,” she says.

The deputy envoy expresses Jerusalem’s concern over the developing humanitarian crisis, including for Ukraine’s Jewish community, and highlights the 100 tons of humanitarian assistance that Israel has sent to the conflict zone, including medical supplies, water purification systems, emergency water supply kits, and winter gear.

Furman concludes by calling on the sides to choose the “path of dialogue” in order to resolve the conflict.

US ambassador to Israel: Putin is a ‘madman’ and thousands could be killed

US Ambassador Tom Nides is interviewed by The Times of Israel at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on January 7, 2022. (David Azagury/US Embassy)
US Ambassador Tom Nides is interviewed by The Times of Israel at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on January 7, 2022. (David Azagury/US Embassy)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides says Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “madman” and suggests that thousands of people could be killed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Putin is a madman, and sadly, sadly, thousands of people could be killed, hundreds of thousands of people already have fled, creating one of the largest refugee crises Europe has seen probably in 40 years, if not longer,” says Nides, speaking at a Jewish People Policy Institute event alongside former US envoy Dennis Ross.

Nides says that despite great intelligence work and predictions over the past few weeks, “many of us believed it would never happen, that no one would be that crazy… that it was a big bluff.”

The US envoy says he has met face-to-face with the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel multiple times in the past week, and has held “hundreds of conversations with Israeli officials” recently about the crisis.

Russian advance on Kyiv stalled, claims senior US defense official

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)

The Russian military advance on Kyiv has momentarily stalled, hampered by Ukrainian resistance as well as fuel and food shortages, a senior US defense official says.

“We generally sense that the Russian military movement… the overarching movement on Kyiv, is stalled at this point,” the official tells reporters.

“We do think that some of it has to do with their own sustainment and logistics,” the official says.

“And we also think that just in general… the Russians themselves are regrouping and rethinking and trying to adjust to the challenges that they’ve had.”

Labor MK calls to allow families of Ukrainian foreign workers in Israel to join them

Labor party member Ibtisam Mara'ana seen during a first meeting of the Labor party with new elected members in Tel Aviv, on February 2, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Labor party member Ibtisam Mara'ana seen during a first meeting of the Labor party with new elected members in Tel Aviv, on February 2, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Labor MK Ibtisam Mara’ana calls for Israel to provide aid and assistance to the thousands of Ukrainian foreign workers currently in Israel.

According to a representative of the Population and Border Authority, there are 4,700 foreign workers from Ukraine currently in Israel.

During a hearing of the Knesset Committee for Foreign Workers, which Mara’ana chairs, the Labor MK says the families of Ukrainian foreign workers currently in Israel should be allowed to join them.

The Population and Border Authority says that many of the Ukrainian foreign workers have already inquired about bringing over their family members, but have so far been told no.

Mara’ana also says that any Ukrainian citizens in Israel who want to leave and return to their home country should be allowed to receive their deposit funds and severance money without any complications or delays.

Zelensky tells Biden that Russia must be stopped ‘as soon as possible’

US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House, on September 1, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office of the White House, on September 1, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says in a phone call with US President Joe Biden that it is important to stop the “aggressor,” Russia, as soon as possible.

“Just had a conversation with the US President… We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible,” Zelensky writes on Twitter following the call.

Russian Jewish billionaires vow to contest EU sanctions

From left to right: Ekaterina Kosina, Petr Aven, Jessica Kraft, Robert Kraft, Sara Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mikhail Fridman, and Natan Sharansky on the red carpet at the Genesis Prize ceremony, on June 20, 2019. (Haim Zach/GPO)
From left to right: Ekaterina Kosina, Petr Aven, Jessica Kraft, Robert Kraft, Sara Netanyahu, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mikhail Fridman, and Natan Sharansky on the red carpet at the Genesis Prize ceremony, on June 20, 2019. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, whose LetterOne investment firm owns Spain’s Dia supermarket chain, says he will contest the “unfounded” EU sanctions targeting him over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a joint statement, Fridman and Russian banker Petr Aven, a LetterOne co-founder, insist they have “no financial or political relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin.

The two say they “will contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions — vigorously and through all means available to them — to reverse unwarranted and unnecessary damage to the livelihoods and prosperity” of their employees and business partners.

Fridman and Aven, who both hail from Jewish families, are two of the co-founders of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, which hands out the annual Genesis Prize.

Israeli ministers have reportedly been warned by both Israel and the US against providing aid to sanctioned Russian oligarchs in attempting to circumvent international sanctions.

Russia carries out nuclear submarine drills in Barents Sea

In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on April 13, 2021, Russian nuclear submarines Prince Vladimir (above) and Yekaterinburg are harbored at a Russian naval base in Gazhiyevo, Kola Peninsula, Russia. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on April 13, 2021, Russian nuclear submarines Prince Vladimir (above) and Yekaterinburg are harbored at a Russian naval base in Gazhiyevo, Kola Peninsula, Russia. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Russian nuclear submarines sail off for drills in the Barents Sea and mobile missile launchers roam the taiga following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to put the nation’s nuclear forces on high alert amid soaring tensions with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Northern Fleet says several of its nuclear submarines are involved in exercises to “train maneuvering in stormy conditions.” It says several warships tasked with the protection of the area near the Russian naval bases on the Arctic Kola Peninsula will also join the maneuvers.

And in the Irkutsk region in eastern Siberia, units of the Strategic Missile Forces move the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launches to disperse in forests to practice secret deployment, the Russian Defense Ministry says in a statement.

The military didn’t say whether the drills were linked to Putin’s order on Sunday to put the country’s nuclear deterrent on high alert amid the war in Ukraine, and it was unclear whether they represent any change in the country’s normal nuclear posture.

Gantz says Israel will boost number of Palestinian workers from Gaza

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tours the Erez Crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip, on March 1, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz tours the Erez Crossing on the border with the Gaza Strip, on March 1, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is planning on increasing the number of Palestinian workers who can enter Israel from the Gaza Strip.

“We intend to expand [our] civilian humanitarian policy, including an immediate increase in the quota of [Palestinian] workers [who can enter Israel],” Gantz says during a tour of the southern frontier with military officials.

“If, along with maintaining relative quiet, we also make advances in the path to returning the Israeli prisoners and missing persons, we will be able to expand this policy and develop the Gaza Strip,” he adds, referring to two Israeli civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers being held by the Hamas terror group in the coastal enclave.

“Unfortunately, the residents of Gaza are captives of Hamas leaders who deprive them of a better livelihood and future for their children. The leaders of Hamas and the residents of Gaza will also be the ones to bear responsibility, if the peace in Gaza or elsewhere is disturbed,” Gantz warns.

In October, as part of the ongoing ceasefire efforts with Hamas, Israel expanded the work permit program to allow up to 10,000 workers into the country. It is not immediately clear how much further Israel intends to expand the program.

Zelensky: World ‘silent’ on bombing of Holocaust memorial, what about ‘never again’?

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 laments the world’s silence as Russian airstrikes on Kyiv damage the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial on the sixth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a tweet, Zelensky asks “what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?”

Zelensky says that “at least 5 [people were] killed” in the Russian bombing of Kyiv, which targeted a TV tower in the capital and also damaged the Holocaust memorial. He adds: “History repeating…”

The Babi Yar memorial rests on a mass grave containing 34,000 Jews who were slaughtered there in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The massacre was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

The extent of the damage to the site was not immediately clear.

Mass explosion reported at Mariupol housing complex

A bombed out car in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022. (Courtesy)
A bombed out car in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022. (Courtesy)

Reports are coming in of a massive explosion at a housing complex in Mariupol, described by a member of the Jewish community there as a cluster bomb.

An eyewitness reports that a Jewish woman out walking her dog is believed to have lost a leg in the explosion and has been taken to hospital. Two nine-story buildings are damaged as well as numerous cars.

Communications with civilians in the city are hampered by the fact that there has been no electricity in Mariupol since last night and phone lines have been spotty, reports a member of the Jewish community.

31 nations agree to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves in message to Russia

A view of a pump jack operating in an oil field in Midland, Texas, on July 29, 2020. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
A view of a pump jack operating in an oil field in Midland, Texas, on July 29, 2020. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

All 31 countries that are members of the International Energy Agency agree to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves “to send a strong message to oil markets” that there will be “no shortfall in supplies” as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the group says.

The IEA board makes the decision at an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers chaired by US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Besides the United States, other members of the organization include Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada.

IEA members hold emergency stockpiles of 1.5 billion barrels of oil. The release amounts to 4% of stockpiles, or roughly 2 million barrels per day for 30 days.

“The situation in energy markets is very serious and demands our full attention,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol says. “Global energy security is under threat, putting the world economy at risk during a fragile stage of the recovery.”

More than 5,000 Russian soldiers captured or killed, claims Western official

This photograph, taken on February 27, 2022, shows a Russian Armoured personnel carrier (APC) burning next to an unidentified soldier's body during a fight with the Ukrainian armed forces in Kharkiv. (Sergey Bobok/AFP)
This photograph, taken on February 27, 2022, shows a Russian Armoured personnel carrier (APC) burning next to an unidentified soldier's body during a fight with the Ukrainian armed forces in Kharkiv. (Sergey Bobok/AFP)

A senior Western intelligence official briefed by multiple intelligence agencies estimates that more than 5,000 Russian soldiers have been captured or killed so far, and that Ukrainian forces have eliminated significant numbers of Russian aircraft and tanks and some air defense systems.

The official says Russian forces have increased use of artillery north of Kyiv and around the eastern city of Kharkiv and northern city of Chernihiv, and have been using heavier weapons over the last 48 hours.

The official also says that Russian forces are bogging down in the Donbas region in the east, where most Ukrainian forces are concentrated after eight years fighting Russian-backed separatists there. The official speaks on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence assessment.

Russian bombing of Kyiv damages Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site

People light candles at Minora memorial in Kyiv, on September 29, 2021, on the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the largest mass slaughters of Jews during World War II. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
People light candles at Minora memorial in Kyiv, on September 29, 2021, on the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the largest mass slaughters of Jews during World War II. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

A major Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv was struck during Russia’s latest bombardment of the city, which targeted a television broadcast tower in the Ukrainian capital, the board of the site says.

The Babi Yar memorial rests on a mass grave containing 34,000 Jews who were slaughtered there in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The massacre was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin seeking to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent. It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babi Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres,” Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and former head of the Jewish Agency, says in a statement.

Sharansky is referring to remarks by Putin ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that he was doing so, in part, to “denazify” the country.

“We, at the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, built on Europe’s largest mass grave of the Holocaust, work to preserve historical memory following decades of Soviet suppression of historical truth, so that the evils of the past can never be repeated. We must not allow the truth to — once again — become the victim of war,” says Sharansky, who was born in Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center issued a statement heavily criticizing Putin and his invasion and calling for him to be investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

The Babi Yar site was damaged as Russian forces bombed a nearby television tower, knocking out local broadcasts.

Babi Yar Holocaust memorial council calls on ICC to condemn Putin’s genocide claims

A rabbi prays during commemorative events marking the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre of Kyiv Jews perpetrated by German occupying forces in 1941 in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
A rabbi prays during commemorative events marking the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre of Kyiv Jews perpetrated by German occupying forces in 1941 in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The leadership of Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial asks the International Criminal Court to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s false claims of a genocide in separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

In a letter to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial’s academic council says Putin’s claims that Ukraine committed genocide “is a lie.” Putin has sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by claiming he is protecting residents in the Donbas region, where separatists have fought Ukrainian forces.

The letter asks Khan to make a “legal statement about this so-called genocide.”

“If President Putin wants to denounce genocide, he should reach out to those in the system of international justice, not begin a war against the people of Ukraine under false pretenses,” it says.

Babi Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

The memorial was inaugurated at a ceremony last October attended by the leaders of Ukraine, Israel and Germany. One of the leading donors to the project is Mikhail Fridman, a Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch. Fridman, the subject of recent EU sanctions against Russian oligarchs, has spoken out against the invasion of Ukraine.

Hours after warning, Russia bombs TV tower in central Kyiv

Smoke billows over Kyiv after a missile attack targeting the Ukrainian capital's television tower in Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)
Smoke billows over Kyiv after a missile attack targeting the Ukrainian capital's television tower in Kyiv on March 1, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS / AFP)

Less than a few hours after issuing a warning, Russia is striking a television tower in Kyiv, knocking out broadcasts, according to a Ukrainian ministry.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs says that “channels will not work for a while,” as footage circulates on social media of strikes on the television tower in the capital.

“The backup broadcasting of some channels will be enabled in the near future,” it says.

Palestinian shot dead by IDF in West Bank, says PA Health Ministry

Illustrative: IDF troops conduct search operations around the Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, in the West Bank, on August 8, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: IDF troops conduct search operations around the Palestinian village of Beit Fajjar, near Bethlehem, in the West Bank, on August 8, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

A Palestinian man died after being shot by Israeli forces near Beit Fajjar in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says.

Palestinian health officials identify the man as Ammar Shafiq Abu Afifa.

The Israeli military says it is looking into the matter. Initial reports allege that Abu Afifa had thrown stones before the shooting, but there was no immediate confirmation from the army.

Fearing Moscow, Israel’s deputy envoy, not Erdan, to speak at UN on Ukraine

Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman addresses the UN General Assembly, October 16, 2018. (UN webtv)
Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman addresses the UN General Assembly, October 16, 2018. (UN webtv)

An Israeli official confirms to The Times of Israel that Ambassador Gilad Erdan will not address the General Assembly debate on the Ukraine invasion, following orders from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who wants Israel to keep a lower profile ahead of its vote in favor of a resolution condemning Russia.

Instead of Erdan, Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman will address the General Assembly later today.

In a not so subtle dig at Erdan, a Jerusalem-based source familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel that Lapid wants to be sure that whoever addresses the plenum will stick to the Israeli government’s messaging, as the foreign minister wants to avoid a diplomatic spat.

Ukraine says 8 dead in Russian strike on Kharkiv apartment building

This general view shows the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
This general view shows the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

Ukraine says eight people were killed in a Russian airstrike on a residential building in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where an administrative building was earlier destroyed by Russian missiles.

“As a result of an airstrike… eight people were killed and six injured in Kharkiv,” Ukraine’s emergency service says, adding that two people have been recovered alive from debris by rescue workers.

G7 weighing more Russia sanctions, says measures have had ‘massive impact’

Western sanctions against Russia are having a significant impact on its economy, Germany’s finance minister says, as the G7 mulls further punitive measures in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sanctions have “already had a massive impact on capital markets and the currency,” says Christian Lindner, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the G7 club of wealthy nations.

G7 finance ministers at the meeting “exchanged suggestions for further measures that could be taken,” Lindner tells a press conference, adding that a decision on the proposals will be made in the coming days.

Blinken suggests kicking Russia off UN Human Rights Council

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses the United Nations Security Council, February 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses the United Nations Security Council, February 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggests Russia should be stripped of its membership in the UN Human Rights Council.

“One can reasonably ask whether a UN member state that tries to take over another UN member state, while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering, should be allowed to remain on this Council,” Blinken tells the UN Human Rights Council in a video address.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin achieves his goal of ousting the government in Kyiv, the humanitarian and rights crises in Ukraine “will only get worse,” the top US diplomat warns.

“If President Putin succeeds in his stated goal of toppling Ukraine’s democratically-elected government, the human rights and humanitarian crises will only get worse,” he says.

UN seeks $1.7 billion in urgent humanitarian aid to Ukraine

The United Nations launches an emergency appeal for $1.7 billion to provide urgent humanitarian aid to people caught up in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and refugees fleeing the fighting.

The UN estimates that 12 million people inside Ukraine will need relief and protection, while it projects that more than four million Ukrainian refugees may need help in neighboring countries in the coming months.

“This is the darkest hour for the people of Ukraine,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths says in a statement. “The crisis has turned very ugly, very fast. We must turn that initial shock and disbelief and uncertainty about the days to come into compassion and solidarity with the millions of ordinary Ukrainians who now need emergency relief and protection.”

Visiting Golan, Herzog laments Ukraine ‘tragedy,’ hopes for quick end to war

President Isaac Herzog during a visit to the Golan Heights on March 1, 2022. (Haim Zach / GPO)
President Isaac Herzog during a visit to the Golan Heights on March 1, 2022. (Haim Zach / GPO)

President Isaac Herzog laments the loss of an Israeli citizen in Ukraine during a visit to the Golan Heights.

“On behalf of myself and all of you, I want to send our condolences to the family in Ukraine and Israel of the late Roman Brodsky, the Israeli citizen who was killed last night in the area of hostilities near Kyiv,” Herzog says.

“This is a terrible tragedy: the personal tragedy of Roman and his family and the tragedy of the Jewish community and the Ukrainian people,” he adds. “We are profoundly concerned for them. Together with the whole family of nations, I hope this war ends quickly.”

Ukrainians joke about tax implications of captured Russian tanks

Residents of Bakhmach, Ukraine, attempt to stop Russian tanks from advancing toward the capital Kyiv, February, 26, 2022. (Screengrab/Twitter)
Residents of Bakhmach, Ukraine, attempt to stop Russian tanks from advancing toward the capital Kyiv, February, 26, 2022. (Screengrab/Twitter)

Even under fire, Ukrainians are keeping their sense of humor. On the Facebook page for the National Agency for Corruption Prevention, authorities announce that captured Russian tanks do not need to be declared to tax authorities because “this shit isn’t worth enough” to report. (The minimum is 100 cost of living units, a unit being 248 Hrevniya (about $8), it notes.)

🛩 Захопили російський танк або БТР та переживаєте про те, як його декларувати? Зберігайте спокій та продовжуйте захищати…

Posted by Національне агентство з питань запобігання корупції – НАЗК on Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The tongue-in-cheek post, which authorities say does actually reflect current national tax policy (which may change after the war), notes that the equipment is tax-exempt because it was acquired to due to being a result of the “Russian aggression.”

“Thanks to the bravery of the defenders of Ukraine, the enemy’s equipment usually gets to you already damaged and so there’s no way to assess the value.”

“So the Russian tanks can fuck off submit a declaration,” the salty-tongued authority says.

Putin ally China says it ‘deeply regrets’ Ukraine conflict and calls for diplomacy

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to their talks in Beijing, China, on February 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin prior to their talks in Beijing, China, on February 4, 2022. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

China’s foreign minister speaks with his Ukrainian counterpart and calls for a resolution to the crisis through negotiation, Chinese state media says, as Beijing treads a difficult diplomatic line on the invasion by its close ally Moscow.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi tells Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing “deeply regrets that conflict has broken out between Ukraine and Russia, and is paying extreme attention to the harm suffered by civilians,” state broadcaster CCTV reports, adding that Wang calls for the two countries to “find a way to resolve the issue through negotiations.”

Russia warns residents of Kyiv it is about to attack intel sites

People walk by a damaged vehicle and an armored car at a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
People walk by a damaged vehicle and an armored car at a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Russian troops will carry out an attack on the infrastructure of Ukraine’s security services in Kyiv and urged residents living nearby to leave, the defense ministry says.

“We call on… Kyiv residents living near relay nodes to leave their homes,” defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says.

Russian troops said to join forces with pro-Moscow rebels in key Ukraine region

Men hold weapons during a basic combat training for civilians, organized by the Special Forces Unit Azov, of Ukraine's National Guard, in Mariupol, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, February 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Men hold weapons during a basic combat training for civilians, organized by the Special Forces Unit Azov, of Ukraine's National Guard, in Mariupol, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, February 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Russian troops and pro-Moscow rebels have linked up in a key region along the Azov Sea coast in eastern Ukraine, a Russian defense ministry spokesman says, on the sixth day of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says in a statement that rebels have “joined the military units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, which took control of the regions of Ukraine along the coast of the Sea of Azov.”

Jewish refugee fleeing Odesa for Israel: We’ll be back home by Purim

A man identified as Moshe speaks to a news reporter aboard a bus of Jewish refugees in Odesa, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)
A man identified as Moshe speaks to a news reporter aboard a bus of Jewish refugees in Odesa, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

A Jewish refugee fleeing Odesa in Ukraine for Israel says he plans to return home very soon.

The man, identified as Moshe, speaks to Channel 12 news from aboard a bus of Israeli citizens in Odesa heading toward one of the border crossings exiting Ukraine.

“We’re ok, we’re doing fine, we’re at a sort of ‘exodus from Egypt’ moment,” Moshe tells the reporter in Hebrew, referencing the biblical story of the Jews fleeing Egypt.

He vows that “by Passover [the holiday marking the exodus from Egypt] — actually by Purim we’ll already be home, stronger than ever and protected as ever.”

Purim falls this year on March 17.

NATO chief says no ‘need now’ to change nuclear alert level

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) and Polish President Andrzej Duda speak with military personnel on March 1, 2022 at the military air base in Lask, Poland. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) and Polish President Andrzej Duda speak with military personnel on March 1, 2022 at the military air base in Lask, Poland. (JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)

NATO’s chief says the alliance sees no need to change its nuclear weapons alert level, despite Russia’s threats.

NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, speaks to The Associated Press following talks on European security with Polish President Andrzej Duda at an air base in Poland where NATO’s Polish and US fighter jets are based.

“We will always do what is needed to protect and defend our allies, but we don’t think there is any need now to change the alert levels of NATO’s nuclear forces,” Stoltenberg says.

The Kremlin has raised the specter of nuclear war, reporting yesterday that its land, air and sea nuclear forces are on high alert following President Vladimir Putin’s weekend order. NATO itself has no nuclear weapons, but three of its members — the United States, Britain and France — do.

EU chief says Ukraine war is a ‘moment of truth’ for Europe

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement at EU headquarters in Brussels, on February 27, 2022. (Stephanie Lecocq/Pool Photo via AP)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a press statement at EU headquarters in Brussels, on February 27, 2022. (Stephanie Lecocq/Pool Photo via AP)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “a moment of truth for Europe” and the future of the continent is at stake, says EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.

“The destiny of Ukraine is at stake, but our own fate also lies in the balance,” the European Commission president tells the European Parliament.

As part of the EU’s response, she says, Brussels will provide 500 million euros ($560 million) in extra funding to help deal with the “humanitarian consequences” of the war, including the flow of refugees into the bloc.

Ukraine’s envoy to Israel says he’s disappointed Jerusalem won’t send military aid

Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, gives a statement to the media on the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, in Tel Aviv, February 25, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)
Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, gives a statement to the media on the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, in Tel Aviv, February 25, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk says the ongoing talks on the Belarussian border between Ukraine and Russia are not expected to yield fruit, and that Ukraine is disappointed Israel continues to refuse to provide much-needed helmets and military vests for military and civil protection.

“We understood that the talks in Belarus are another trick by Putin in order to use the time to restructure his military forces,” says Korniychuk. “It has no specific serious meeting.”

“But our delegation decided to take part of it in order to not be accused of not taking it seriously,” he adds.

Of the 100 tons of humanitarian aid that Israel sent over the past day to Ukraine, Korniychuk says he is happy to receive the specific antibiotics and medical equipment that his country’s health ministry requested, but that while it’s a nice gesture, much of the equipment sent — including water treatment systems — is not priority.

In addition, Korniychuk mentions that numerous Ukrainians without status are currently being detained in Ben Gurion Airport. According to Korniychuk and a lawyer representing the refugees, they came to Israel to stay with family, but the state is requesting a several thousand shekel deposit in order to let them cross the border.

“Tens of cases are known to us,” the legal representative says.

High Court says Palestinians can remain in Sheikh Jarrah homes pending ruling

Israeli riot police officers scuffle with protesters during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, February 18, 2022. Pictured on the ground in a blue sweater is Joint List MK Ofir Cassif. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israeli riot police officers scuffle with protesters during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, February 18, 2022. Pictured on the ground in a blue sweater is Joint List MK Ofir Cassif. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Israeli High Court of Justice rules that four Palestinian families in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah will not be evicted until a separate legal process runs its course.

The Palestinian families will be allowed to remain in their homes while the Justice Ministry reopens the long-dormant question of who owns the land on which the houses were built. In the meantime, the Palestinian families will pay a reduced, symbolic amount of rent to the court.

The evictions in Sheikh Jarrah have become a symbolic struggle, capturing headlines in Israel and around the world. Israeli officials have warned that the tense situation in the flashpoint neighborhood could lead to a renewed escalation between Israel and the Palestinians.

The framework imposed by the court is similar to a compromise floated by the justices last year. Both the Palestinians and the Jewish group seeking to evict them rejected the deal. This time, the court didn’t ask.

“At this point, I will repeat the principle of the compromise issued by the assembled justices. But this time, not as a compromise, but as a court ruling binding the two sides, like a mountain hanging over their heads,” writes Justice Yitzhak Amit for the majority.

Amit is joined by his fellow justice Dafna Barak-Erez, who articulated different legal rationales but came to similar “practical conclusions,” Barak-Erez writes.

Justice Noam Sohlberg dissents, noting that the Palestinians have failed to pay rent for several decades. “They have violated their commitments as protected tenants, and it was only just that the [lower] courts ordered their eviction,” Sohlberg writes.

Ronit Levine-Schnur, an adviser to the Palestinian legal team, describes the ruling as “a great victory for justice.”

The four Sheikh Jarrah homes were built on land owned by Jews before the 1948 war. After Israel conquered East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967, the government passed laws allowing Israelis to reclaim properties that had been taken over by the Jordanian government.

The Palestinian defendants have presented evidence that the Jordanian government was in the process of registering the land to its Palestinian owners before the 1948 war. The court has now said the Palestinians cannot be evicted until that land registration question is resolved.

UK’s Johnson accuses Putin of ‘barbaric’ attacks on ‘innocent civilians’

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki take part in a press conference at the Chancellery, in Warsaw, Poland, March 1, 2022. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki take part in a press conference at the Chancellery, in Warsaw, Poland, March 1, 2022. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin is using “barbaric and indiscriminate tactics against innocent civilians” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on a visit to Poland, Johnson says Putin is prepared to “bomb tower blocks, to send missiles into tower blocks, to kill children, as we are seeing in increasing numbers.”

Johnson thanks Poland for taking in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the violence. He says the UK will send more humanitarian aid and will take in refugees “in considerable numbers.”

The British government has been criticized for not matching the European Union, which says it will let Ukrainians stay for up to three years without applying for asylum. Britain says it will allow Ukrainians in the country to bring their immediate family members to the UK. That applies to partners and children, but not parents or siblings.

A spokesman for Johnson says that the UK government is open to ejecting Russia as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

“The prime minister hasn’t set out any position on that,” he tells reporters. “What is right to say is that we want to see Russia isolated diplomatically, and we will consider all options to achieve that.”

Zelensky calls on EU to ‘prove you are with’ Ukraine, gets standing ovation

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen applauds after an address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky via video link, during an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen applauds after an address by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky via video link, during an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls in a live video address to the European Parliament for the EU to “prove” it is with Ukraine as the country resists Russia’s invasion.

“Without you, Ukraine is going to be alone. We have proven our strength. We have proven that, at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you are. So do prove you are with us, do prove that you will not let us go,” Zelensky says.

He adds that his country is fighting “to be equal members of Europe.”

‘I can no longer say hello or good evening because every day is the last day,’ Zelensky says. “Lives are being sacrificed for values, for rights, for freedom, to have the same equality that you enjoy. We will win, I’m sure. I would like to hear you say that Ukraine’s choice to be part of Europe is also your choice. We want to be members of the EU. Without you, Ukraine will be alone.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledges applause after an address via video link to an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels, March 1, 2022. (Screenshot)

He ends his speech with a fist-clench victory gesture, and garners a lengthy standing ovation.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledges applause after an address via video link to an extraordinary session on Ukraine at the European Parliament in Brussels, March 1, 2022. (Screenshot)

Kremlin denies striking civilian targets in Ukraine, despite evidence

This general view shows the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
This general view shows the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

The Kremlin denies that the Russian military has used cluster munitions in Ukraine and insists that Russian forces only have struck military targets.

Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov insists that “the Russian troops don’t conduct any strikes against civilian infrastructure and residential areas.”

Peskov’s claim contradicts abundant evidence documented by the AP of indiscriminate shelling of homes, schools, and hospitals across Ukraine.

Peskov also rejects the accusations that the Russian military has used cluster munitions and devastating vacuum weapons, dismissing them as fabrications.

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, he won’t respond to questions about whether the Kremlin is happy with the pace of the offensive and won’t comment on Russian military casualties.

The Russian Defense Ministry said for the first time yesterday that it has suffered losses, but didn’t cite any numbers.

NATO chief meets with Polish president amid Ukraine crisis

NATO Secretary- General Jens Stoltenberg is meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda at the Lask Air Base in central Poland for talks on the eastern flank’s security, as Russia wages war on Ukraine, just across Poland’s eastern border.

Stoltenberg and Duda shake hands at the 32rd Tactical Air Base in Lask, where Polish and NATO fighter jets are based, including F-16s.

The United States recently reinforced the eastern flank of NATO’s territory with some 5,000 additional troops.

Foreign Ministry updates list of Israeli-staffed border crossings from Ukraine

Ukrainian refugees wait at an absorption office at Krakow’s central train station. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)
Ukrainian refugees wait at an absorption office at Krakow’s central train station. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

The Foreign Ministry updates the locations where its staff are posted at Ukraine border crossings to help enable the safe passage of Israeli citizens.

The ministry notes once again that the crossings into Poland are particularly crowded, and recommends seeking alternate routes.

The crossings at which Israeli Foreign Ministry staff are posted include Sheiny and Krakovetz to Poland, Uzhhorod to Slovakia, Chop to Hungary, Siret to Romania, and Palanca and Mogilev-Podolskiy to Moldova.

The phone numbers for citizens looking to reach Israeli staff are +380677703536 (Poland), +421908623342 (Slovakia), +36304542779 (Hungary), +40755462041 Romania and +37379176560 (Moldova).

UN estimates one million people displaced inside Ukraine

A child collects toys near a clothes donation point as refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on February 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
A child collects toys near a clothes donation point as refugees fleeing conflict in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on February 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

The UN’s refugee agency says an estimated one million people have been displaced inside Ukraine by the Russian invasion, in addition to hundreds of thousands who have fled abroad.

“We still don’t have reliable figures regarding the number of people displaced inside Ukraine, but we estimate that it has to be about one million people who have fled internally or who are currently on a train, a bus or in a car trying to get to a safety,” Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR representative to Ukraine, tells a press conference in Stockholm.

Zelensky says Kharkiv missile strikes are ‘undisguised terror’

Ukrainian service members are seen outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
Ukrainian service members are seen outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv on March 1, 2022, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says a Russian missile strike hit a central square in the city of Kharkiv, calling it an act of “undisguised terror.”

“Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget,” Zelensky says.

According to reports, at least 10 civilians have been killed in today’s attacks on the eastern city, which has seen some of the heaviest fighting since the invasion began.

PM: Israel safeguarding its interests while communicating with both Russia and Ukraine

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 1, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel has worked from the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to help where it can while protecting its interests.

“The State of Israel has taken a measured and responsible line from the start, which allows us to not only safeguard our interests, but also to help. To be one of the few that can communicate directly with both parties, and assist where requested. And we do help, quietly,” he says in a speech at the Mossad headquarters.

The presence of Russian forces in Syria requires Israel to coordinate with Moscow when the IDF carries out strikes on Iranian-backed targets in that country. Israel also has close ties with Ukraine.

Bennett also touches on the talks between Iran and world powers on a nuclear deal, which he says are “approaching the moment of truth — it’s money time.”

Bennett refers to the sunset clause in the potential agreement, which the premier says in two and a half years will allow Iran to install and operate advanced centrifuges.

“We are not obligated by the agreement and we are certainly not obligated by the date that allows Iran in two and a half years to assemble countless centrifuges.”

Diplomats stage walk-out when Russia’s Lavrov addresses Conference on Disarmament

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov addresses with a pre-recorded video message the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on March 1, 2022 (Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP)
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov addresses with a pre-recorded video message the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on March 1, 2022 (Fabrice COFFRINI / POOL / AFP)

Ukraine’s ambassador and diplomats from a wide number of countries stage a walkout as Russia’s foreign minister addresses the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

The diplomats stand up and leave the room when Sergei Lavrov’s pre-recorded video message begins to play, in protest at Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ambassadors and diplomats leave while Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (on screen) speaks via a pre-recorded video message at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 1, 2022. (SALVATORE DI NOLFI / POOL / AFP)

Ukrainian Ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko is among the numerous diplomats who file out as the video began playing, leaving the room almost empty.

Outside they gather in front of a Ukrainian flag and break into applause that could be heard in the chamber where Lavrov’s speech continues, with only a handful of ambassadors from countries including Yemen, Syria, Venezuela and Tunisia remaining to hear him.

Israeli, Turkish think tanks to hold joint session in Tel Aviv ahead of Herzog’s trip

President Isaac Herzog (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right). (AP)
President Isaac Herzog (left) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right). (AP)

As President Isaac Herzog prepares for his historic trip to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, experts from two think tanks — one Israeli and one Turkish — will gather for a daylong seminar in Tel Aviv on Thursday to discuss ties between the two nations.

The Turkish SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research), known to be aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and financed by the Turkish government, will be hosted in Tel Aviv by the Dayan Center.

The event will be closed to both the press and the public.

The Times of Israel has learned that diplomats and governmental officials will participate in the session, the purpose of which is to restore ties and connections among mid-level officials from the two countries.

Ties between the two countries have appeared to thaw in recent months, as Erdogan made a number of statements about possible cooperation with Israel. Herzog is set to visit Ankara later this month.

Google blocks YouTube channels of Russian broadcasters RT, Sputnik in Europe

In this June 11, 2013 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, visits the new headquarters of the 'Russia Today' television channel in Moscow, Russia (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP, File)
In this June 11, 2013 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, visits the new headquarters of the 'Russia Today' television channel in Moscow, Russia (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP, File)

BERLIN — Google is blocking the YouTube channels of Russian broadcasters RT and Sputnik in Europe due to the war in Ukraine.

Google says in a statement on Twitter that the decision will be “effective immediately.”

But the company adds that “it’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up.”

“Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action,” Google says.

Man lightly wounded in shooting at café in Kfar Saba

A man is injured in a shooting at a coffee shop in the central town of Kfar Saba.

The Ynet news site says the man, in his 60s, is lightly injured after the incident on Weizmann Street.

There is no immediate statement from police on the matter.

Russia says it will continue Ukraine offensive until all ‘goals achieved’

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President in Moscow on February 27, 2022 (Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP)
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President in Moscow on February 27, 2022 (Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Russia will continue the offensive in Ukraine until its “goals are achieved,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says, almost a week into Moscow’s invasion.

“Russian armed forces will continue to conduct the special military operation until set goals are achieved,” Shoigu says at a press conference aired on state television.

He says Moscow aims to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine, as well as protect Russia from a “military threat created by Western countries.”

Russian officials have frequently repeated the claims of Nazism, despite the fact that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish.

Russian media has repeatedly sought to portray Ukraine as aligned with Nazism, without evidence to support such accusations.

El Al flight from Los Angeles forced to land in Madrid after passenger turns violent

Illustrative: An El Al plane lands at Ben Gurion Airport on October 13, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Illustrative: An El Al plane lands at Ben Gurion Airport on October 13, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

An EL AL flight from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv is forced to land in Madrid after a passenger ran through the aisles and refused to obey instructions from the crew, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

The airline says the passenger attacked one of the crew members when he was asked to remain in his seat for safety reasons.

“He did not obey the safety instructions like the other passengers and behaved violently. He attacked the crew member and from this point it was clear that this was endangering all the passengers on the plane,” a security official from the airline says.

After the plane landed in Spain, the passenger left the aircraft. It remains unclear if he was arrested.

Shipping giant Maersk says it will no longer take non-essential orders to and from Russia

Illustrative -- The container ship Gjertrud Maersk, anchored off the coast of Virginia Beach on June 29, 2020 (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Illustrative -- The container ship Gjertrud Maersk, anchored off the coast of Virginia Beach on June 29, 2020 (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Danish shipping giant Maersk says that it will stop taking new non-essential orders to and from Russia, due to sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Citing the impact of sanctions, “bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of Foodstuffs, Medical and Humanitarian supplies,” Maersk says in a statement, adding it will attempt to honor bookings placed prior to the sanctions.

UK rejects call for Ukraine no-fly zone, says it would put NATO in direct conflict with Russia

Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street, in London, September 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street, in London, September 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

LONDON — Britain’s deputy prime minister again rejects calls for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it would risk widening the war by putting the alliance in direct conflict with Russian forces.

Dominic Raab tells Sky News that Britain instead is pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course by working with other countries to ratchet up sanctions and investigate war crimes during the conflict.

“We’re not going to (impose a no-fly zone) because it would put us in a position where we would have to enforce it by, in effect, shooting down Russian planes,” Raab says in an interview with Sky.

The comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked NATO to impose a complete no-fly zone for Russian airplanes, helicopters and missiles.

The UK Ministry of Defense says Russia has failed to gain control of the skies over Ukraine, forcing it to shift to night operations to reduce its losses.

Russian forces have “made little progress” in their advance on the capital, Kyiv, over the past 24 hours probably because of logistical difficulties, the ministry says.

Israel loading up another plane with aid for Ukraine

An El Al plane is loaded up with humanitarian aid for Ukraine on March 1, 2022. (GPO screenshot)
An El Al plane is loaded up with humanitarian aid for Ukraine on March 1, 2022. (GPO screenshot)

At Ben Gurion Airport, a plane is being loaded with humanitarian aid that will take off today to Poland, for expected delivery in Ukraine this week.

The flight is the third and final for a 100-ton aid package Israel is sending to the beleaguered country. Two additional planes preceded the El Al flight in the past few hours.

The aid includes 17 tons of medical equipment and medicine, water purification systems, emergency water supply kits, and thousands each of tents, blankets, sleeping bags, and coats.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid decided on the contents of the package, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Israel has routinely turned down requests to send military or dual-use equipment to Ukraine, part of the tightrope it has tried to walk to balance its interests between Ukraine and invader Russia.

The mission is handled by the Mashav division of the Foreign Ministry, which coordinates Israel’s national aid.

The Humanitarian aid is arriving in Warsaw in Poland and from there will be transferred to Ukraine.

Footage appears to show strike on Kharkiv local government building

Screen grab of footage said to show an explosion after Russia targets a local government building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022 (Screen grab/Twitter)
Screen grab of footage said to show an explosion after Russia targets a local government building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022 (Screen grab/Twitter)

Footage circulating on social media apparently shows a massive explosion in a strike at the Kharkiv government regional headquarters.

The authenticity of the clip has not been independently verified. Reports on social media say that it was a Russian strike.

It was unclear if the attack had hit the building or the street in front of it.

There are no immediate reports of injuries.

Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast, has seen some of the heaviest fighting since the Russian invasion began last week.

Kyiv billboards display messages to Russian troops: ‘Go home with a clean conscience’

Messages aimed at the advancing Russian soldiers are displayed on billboards, bus stops and electronic traffic signs across Kyiv.

Some use profanity to encourage Russians to leave. Others appeal to their humanity.

“Russian soldier — Stop! Remember your family. Go home with a clean conscience,” one reads.

Zelensky adviser: Kyiv understands Israel walking a tightrope with Russia over Syria

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Kyiv understands that Israel is in a difficult position diplomatically due to security considerations regarding ties with Russia over Syria.

“Everyone in Ukraine understands that Israel is in a special position and it is difficult for it to take an unequivocal position because of the situation in Syria and the Middle East,” Oleksiy Arestovych tells the Kan public broadcaster.

Arestovych says that Ukraine understands Israel “needs to defend itself and its interests, and we support and welcome that.”

The presence of Russian forces in Syria means that Israel coordinates with Moscow when carrying out strikes on Iranian-backed targets.

Yuval Noah Harari: Putin heading toward defeat by underestimating bravery of Ukrainians

Historian, professor, and author Yuval Noah Harari. (Courtesy)
Historian, professor, and author Yuval Noah Harari. (Courtesy)

Yuval Noah Harari writes in an opinion piece that it appears Russian President Vladimir Putin is “heading towards a historic defeat” after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Israeli historian and professor says Putin’s military campaign is based on the lie that Ukraine is not a real country, and he mistakenly belived that if Moscow’s troops were able to capture Ukraine, they would be able to hold it.

In fact, Harari writes in The Guardian: “Ukrainian people are resisting with all their heart, winning the admiration of the entire world — and winning the war.”

However, the author of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” and “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow,” notes that still “many dark days lie ahead.”

“The Russians may still conquer the whole of Ukraine. But to win the war, the Russians would have to hold Ukraine, and they can do that only if the Ukrainian people let them. This seems increasingly unlikely to happen,” Harari writes.

“To reestablish the Russian empire, Putin needs a relatively bloodless victory that will lead to a relatively hateless occupation. By spilling more and more Ukrainian blood, Putin is making sure his dream will never be realized,” Harari writes.

Harari says that with every act of bravery by the Ukrainian people, the resolve of the international community to help them increases, making a Russian victory even less likely.

Some 70 Ukrainian soldiers killed in Russian shelling of base in Okhtyrka on Sunday

At least 70 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in Okhtyrka in northeast Ukraine.

According to the BBC, the troops were killed in Russian shelling of their military base on Sunday.

Ukraine’s parliament confirms the deaths, tweeting: “Eternal memory and glory to the heroes of Ukraine.”

Okhtyrka has seen heavy fighting — Amnesty International says cluster bombs hit a preschool on Friday in the city. Three people were killed, including a child.

Israel drops most virus restrictions as infections wane

Israelis wear protective face masks in Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv, on September 13, 2021 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Israelis wear protective face masks in Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv, on September 13, 2021 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The majority of Israel’s coronavirus restrictions end as the country exits the Omicron wave.

Remaining rules include mask-wearing indoors, testing upon arrival in Israel from abroad, and tests for those entering elder care facilities.

The validity of the Green Pass has been extended.

Infections in Israel have waned in recent weeks, alongside the number of patients in serious condition.

The most recent data released by the Health Ministry shows 534 people are seriously ill. When the hospitalization wave peaked at the start of February, there were 1,241 people in serious condition.

China begins evacuating citizens from Ukraine

A resident watches a TV screen showing news about conflict between Russia and Ukraine at a shopping mall in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on February 25, 2022. (Photo by AFP)
A resident watches a TV screen showing news about conflict between Russia and Ukraine at a shopping mall in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on February 25, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

BEIJING — China starts evacuating its citizens from Ukraine, state media reports, amid fears for their safety due to the invasion by Beijing’s ally Russia but also reports of resulting hostility from angry Ukrainians.

Some 600 Chinese students were evacuated Monday from Kyiv and the southern port city of Odessa, the state-run Global Times newspaper reports, citing the Chinese embassy in the Ukrainian capital.

They travelled by bus to neighboring Moldova under an embassy escort and local police protection, according to the report, which cited an evacuee as saying the six-hour journey was “safe and smooth.”

A further 1,000 Chinese nationals will leave Ukraine on Tuesday bound for Poland and Slovakia, both European Union member states, the report adds.

China has trod a cautious diplomatic tightrope on the conflict, balancing its oft-repeated insistence on the sanctity of state sovereignty with an unwillingness to call out its close ally Russia.

While countries including the US, UK and Japan evacuated diplomats and urged citizens to leave in the weeks before the invasion, China waited until Thursday before announcing it would organize charter flights to evacuate its nationals.

Airlift of Israeli humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees arrives in Poland

A shipment of humanitarian aid from Israel for refugees escaping Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, lands in Poland.

Army Radio reports that two further airlifts are set to leave Ben Gurion airport later today.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Israeli aid includes coats, blankets, sleeping bags, medical equipment, tents and water purification equipment.

2 Palestinians killed in firefight with IDF troops in West Bank

Two Palestinians are killed in a gun battle near the West Bank city of Jenin overnight.

Israel Police say undercover Border Police officers came under fire while arresting a “terror suspect” in the Jenin refugee camp.

Troops returned fire, police say. After arresting the suspect and reaching their vehicles, the officers came under fire again and shot back.

As the officers left the refugee camp, dozens of Palestinians hurled stones, Molotov cocktails, and a makeshift grenade at the officers, who responded with “riot dispersal means and live fire,” police say.

Palestinian media identifies the two fatalities as 19-year-old Shadi Najm, and 22-year-old Abdullah al-Housri.

Images show Al-Housri’s body wrapped in the flag of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. The group did not immediately claim him as a member.

Putin is frustrated, lashing out at his inner circle, report says

US officials tell NBC that Putin is getting frustrated by his military’s slow progress in Ukraine and may double down on his attack.

US intelligence says Putin is lashing out at subordinates and his inner circle in bursts of anger.

The outbursts are unusual for Putin, who usually controls his emotions, the report says.

One diplomat tells NBC that Putin is increasingly isolated and getting bad information.

“We don’t believe he has a realistic understanding of what’s going on,” the diplomat says.

3 Hollywood studios stop new releases in Russia

Three major Hollywood studios move to pause their upcoming theatrical releases in Russia, including rolling out “The Batman” in theaters there this week.

Warner Bros., the Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures say they will “pause” the release of their films in Russia.

Each studio has significant upcoming releases that had been set to debut internationally in the coming weeks.

“The Batman,” one of the year’s more anticipated films, launches Friday in North America and many overseas territories.

Warner Bros.′ move closely follows a similar decision by the Walt Disney Co. The studio had planned to open the Pixar film “Turning Red” in Russia on March 10. That film is going straight to Disney+ in the US.

Sony follows suit, saying it will delay its release of the comic book film “Morbius” in Russia.

Russia is not a leading market for Hollywood, but the country typically ranks in the top dozen countries globally in box office.

Over 70 Ukrainian soldiers said killed in Russian artillery attack

More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers are killed when Russian artillery hits a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the head of the region writes on Telegram.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy posts photographs of the charred shell of a four-story building and rescuers searching rubble.

In a later Facebook post, he says many Russian soldiers and some local residents were also killed during the fighting on Sunday. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

US senator after security briefing: ‘The fight for Kyiv will be long and bloody’

US Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, reveals a few details from a classified security briefing for US lawmakers.

Russian forces are behind their planned timeline for the invasion, amid fierce Ukrainian defense and Russian equipment and logistics failures, he says.

Supply lines to Ukraine are still viable, but the Russians will attempt to cut off and besiege Kyiv in the coming weeks.

“The fight for Kyiv will be long and bloody and Ukrainians are rapidly preparing for street to street combat,’ he says.

The US and allies are coordinating on freezing the assets of Putin and Kremlin-linked oligarchs, and are also preparing to seize those assets, which the Russian leadership probably did not anticipate, he says.

The US Department of Defense and Department of Homeland security are pushing for Congress to pass a budget, partly to free up funds for supporting Ukraine, he says.

Australia commits $50 million in military support for Ukraine

Australia will provide Ukraine with $50 million in missiles, ammunition and other military hardware to fight Russian invaders.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison elaborates on his country’s plans after revealing a day earlier that his government would provide Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky with lethal military equipment. Morrison had promised only non-lethal military equipment last week.

“President Zelensky said: ‘Don’t give me a ride, give me ammunition,’ and that’s exactly what the Australian government has agreed to do,” Morrison says.

Australia had committed $50 million to provide both lethal and non-lethal defensive support for Ukraine through NATO, he says.

“The overwhelming majority of that… will be in the lethal category,” Morrison says.

“We’re talking missiles, we’re talking ammunition, we’re talking supporting them in their defense of their own homeland in Ukraine and we’ll be doing that in partnership with NATO,” Morrison says.

“I’m not going to go into the specifics of that because I don’t plan to give the Russian government a heads up about what’s coming their way, but I can assure them it is coming your way,” he says.

US lawmakers told Russian forces will likely overrun Ukraine’s defenses

US officials warn Congress members that a second wave of Russian invasion forces will likely overrun Ukrainian defenses, CNN reports.

The officials warn the lawmakers in classified briefings, the network says, citing two people familiar with the briefings.

They say Russia will probably besiege Kyiv and engage in brutal urban combat, one source said.

Massive military column threatens Ukraine’s capital

A huge Russian military convoy stretching some 40 miles is just north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which has already repulsed several assaults.

The column has been massing since Sunday.

The Maxar satellite imagery company says the column covers the entire stretch of road from near Antonov airport, some 18 miles from the capital, to the town of Prybirsk, a distance of approximately 40 miles.

Maxar says that “along parts of the route, some vehicles are spaced fairly far apart while in other sections military equipment and units are traveling two or three vehicles abreast on the road.”

“A number of homes and buildings are seen burning north and northwest of Ivankiv, near the roads where the convoy is traveling,” Maxar says.

A satellite image taken Sunday by a private satellite company shows a large convoy of Russian forces some 40 miles northwest of Kyiv. (Maxar Technologies)

Maxar says its satellites have also captured images of “additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units” in southern Belarus, less than 20 miles north of the border with Ukraine.

Since the start of the Russian offensive on Thursday, Ukrainian forces have defended the roads leading into central Kyiv against assaults by Russian forces that are massing around the capital.

According to two sources interviewed by AFP on Monday, one diplomatic and the other a security official, Moscow is preparing to launch a new military push imminently.

The Ukrainian Army General Staff official page on Facebook says that Russian forces were massing over the past 24 hours and accumulating armored vehicles and artillery weapons “primarily to encircle and take control of Kyiv and other major cities of Ukraine.”

Washington says the main Russian effort remains an advance on Kyiv but that had “slowed down” on the fifth day of the invasion.

On Monday, the main Russian column advancing toward the Ukrainian capital had advanced about three miles and was some 18 miles from the city, a senior US defense official said.

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