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IAEA raises fresh alarms over Chernobyl after contact lost

Deadly bombings reported near Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, but offensive appears to slow down, Ukraine’s military says

  • This picture shows an apartment building damaged after shelling the day before in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2022. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
    This picture shows an apartment building damaged after shelling the day before in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2022. (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
  • Cars line up for gas under a cloudy sky, Monday, March 7, 2022, at a Costco store in Lacey, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
    Cars line up for gas under a cloudy sky, Monday, March 7, 2022, at a Costco store in Lacey, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
  • A mother sleeps with her children among many others in a temporary shelter hosting the Ukrainian refugees located in a former shopping center near the city of Przemysl, on March 8, 2022. (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)
    A mother sleeps with her children among many others in a temporary shelter hosting the Ukrainian refugees located in a former shopping center near the city of Przemysl, on March 8, 2022. (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)
  • A man stands atop a destroyed bridge in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine,  March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
    A man stands atop a destroyed bridge in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
  • Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
    Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
  • Masha Fesenko, from Kyiv, arrives at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
    Masha Fesenko, from Kyiv, arrives at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
  • Ukrainians disembark from a special flight to Israel from Romania upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, March 8, 2022  (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
    Ukrainians disembark from a special flight to Israel from Romania upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
  • A Ukrainian toddler sleeps in her mother's arms on a shuttle bus after a special flight to Israel from Romania upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
    A Ukrainian toddler sleeps in her mother's arms on a shuttle bus after a special flight to Israel from Romania upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
  • A refugee child fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine holds flowers, given out to celebrate International Women's Day, as he sits on a bus, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)
    A refugee child fleeing the conflict from neighboring Ukraine holds flowers, given out to celebrate International Women's Day, as he sits on a bus, at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Large explosions reported in Ukrainian capital

Air raids are being reported in Kyiv.

On social media, residents and others in the city describe sirens and loud blasts occurring in quick succession.

Elsewhere, a video purports to show air strikes near Kharkiv overnight.

Israel knows missiles, should fight alongside us, ex-Ukraine president says

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko tells an Israeli TV channel that the Jewish state knows what Ukraine is going through and should be fighting alongside his people against Russia’s invasion.

“Russia is a criminal regime terrorist country who attack Ukraine, innocent Ukraine,” he tells Channel 12 in English, speaking from a makeshift army post in Kyiv. “What is a terrorist country, Israel knows very well. What does it mean when peaceful Israeli towns and houses, we have missiles here too. Israel knows exactly what it means.”

Asked how Israel should react, Poroshenko says “very simple, fight shoulder to shoulder with us [against] world terrorism.”

Venezuela releases detained American oil exec as US looks to shore up fuel supply

An American citizen and former executive of Citgo, the US-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company, has been released from prison, one of his lawyers said Tuesday, just days after a high-level US delegation met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The release comes hours after Maduro signaled an interest in improving relations with the US amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concerns in the United States over rising gas prices.

Gustavo Cardenas was one of the so-called “Citgo 6” — five Venezuela-born American citizens and one with US permanent residency — who have been held in Venezuela since 2017, accused of corruption. All were handed lengthy jail sentences.

While attorney Jesus Loreto confirmed the release of Cardenas, he added that “the other five are still detained.” He suggested another detainee could be released, but could not identify the individual.

The New York Times, citing a US official and Venezuelan human rights defenders, earlier reported the release of Cardenas and Jorge Alberto Fernandez, a Cuban American accused of terrorism for bringing a drone into Venezuela last year.

 

Zelensky thanks US, Britain for Russian oil bans

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is thanking the leaders of the US and Britain for banning Russian oil imports.

“This is a powerful signal to the whole world,” he says in his daily address to the nation at the close of another day of war. “Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a video address released on March 8, 2022. (screen capture: Telegram)

Zelensky says when he went to address the British Parliament, “the scariest figure was the 50 Ukrainian children killed in 13 days of war. But then in an hour it became 52 children. I will never forgive this. And I know that you will never forgive the occupiers.”

Zelensky calls for negotiations with Russia on ending the war. “The war must be stopped. We need to sit down at the negotiating table, but for honest, substantive talks.”

IAEA no longer able to monitor Chernobyl radiation, says staff still hostage

The UN’s nuclear watchdog says it is no longer receiving transmissions from systems monitoring safeguards at the Russian-controlled Chernobyl nuclear plant, site of the worst-ever nuclear accident.

The IAEA warns that 210 employees at the plant have been held there by Russian soldiers for 13 days straight, saying that a shift change is needed.

“The same shift has been on duty at the Chornobyl NPP since the day before the Russian military entered the site of the 1986 accident on 24 February, in effect living there for the past 13 days,” the IAEA says.

Reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant stands encased in lead and concrete following the accident in April 1986, that released a cloud of radiation that circled the world in Pripyat, Ukraine in July 1988. (AP Photo/Mark J. Porubcansky)

Russian troops captured the site and the surrounding exclusion zone on the first day of fighting last month, with little resistance.

The agency says 8 of 15 reactors in Ukraine are in operation, including two in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which was also captured by Russian soldiers.

“I’m deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at Chornobyl NPP and potential risks this entails for nuclear safety. I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there,” IAEA head Rafael Grossi says.

Ukraine says nuke plant employees being tortured by Russian captors

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko says employees of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are being tortured by Russian soldiers who took over the facility.

He says the employees have been held for four days and claims they were forced to film a video for Russian propaganda. It’s unclear if he is in touch with the employees.

He says 500 Russian soldiers and dozens of armored pieces are at the facility.

“A breakdown at a nuclear power plant due to the use of weapons by Russian troops will lead to a disaster for the whole of Europe,” Halushchenko warns.

Fitch says Russia debt default ‘imminent’

Ratings agency Fitch on Tuesday again downgraded Russia’s sovereign debt rating farther into junk territory from “B” to “C,” saying the decision reflects the view that a default is “imminent.”

Like other major ratings agencies, Fitch had already slashed Russia’s rating earlier this month to “junk” status, or the category of countries at risk of not being able to repay their debt.

It justified the further downgrade by saying recent developments had “further undermined Russia’s willingness to service government debt.”

Russian airstrikes kill civilians near Kharkiv, Zhytomyr — Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities say that Russian warplanes have carried new strikes on residential areas in eastern and central parts of the country.

Ukrainian officials said that that two people, including a 7-year-old child, were killed in the town of Chuhuiv just east of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine late Tuesday. And in the city of Malyn in the Zhytomyr region west of the capital Kyiv at least five people, including two children, were killed in a Russian air strike.

The Russian artillery has pounded the outskirts of Kyiv, forcing civilians to hide in shelters while water, food and power supplies have been cut, said Yaroslav Moskalenko, an official who coordinates humanitarian efforts in the Kyiv region.

He said that the shelling made it impossible to evacuate the bodies of five people who died when their vehicle was fired upon in Borodianka near Kyiv and the bodies of 12 patients of a psychiatric hospital there. He said that another 200 patients were stuck there without food and medicines.

Russia suspends forex sales until September 9

Russia has suspended the sale of foreign currencies until September 9, the central bank says, amid unprecedented economic sanctions on the country following its offensive in Ukraine.

Between March 9 and September 9 “the banks will not be able to sell foreign currencies to citizens,” says the statement, which adds that Russians would however be able to change foreign currencies into the local ruble unit during that window.

Wall Street continues losing streak as US imposes Russia oil ban

Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York's Financial District, on March 23, 2021. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange in New York's Financial District, on March 23, 2021. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

US stocks continued to lose more ground today after US President Joe Biden imposed a ban on imports of Russian petroleum, and more major firms announced they were shutting operations in Russia.

The latest steps sent oil prices up another 4.6 percent, with Brent futures rising to $128.77 a barrel.

US gasoline prices at the pump hit a record not seen since the 2008 global financial crisis, and other commodities also continue to rise, fanning inflation in major economies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6 percent to finish the session at 32,632.64, the lowest in nearly a year.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.7 percent to end at 4,170.7, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3 percent to 12,795.55.

It was a choppy day of trading, and Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services noted that shares jumped after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is no longer pressing for NATO membership.

But “the market is so nervous that at the slightest positive or negative headline, it reacts to avoid being too exposed,” he told AFP. “Everyone tries to limit the risks.”

McDonald’s and Starbucks fell, but Coca-Cola gained 2.8 percent.

Oil companies continue to see share prices rise amid the prospects for higher prices, including solid gains for Chevron, Shell, and BP, and a more modest increase for Exxon Mobil.

Ukraine’s first lady condemns Kremlin’s ‘mass murder’

In this file photo taken on Saturday, November 23, 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena pay tribute at a monument to victims of the Great Famine in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
In this file photo taken on Saturday, November 23, 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena pay tribute at a monument to victims of the Great Famine in Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian first lady thanks the country’s allies for their support and urged them to do more to deter Russia.

Olena Zelenska says in an open letter to global media released Tuesday that the Russian invasion amounted to “the mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.”

She says that “the most terrifying and devastating [result] of this invasion are the child casualties,” mentioning eight-year-old Alice who died on the streets of Okhtyrka while her grandfather tried to protect her and Polina from Kyiv, who died in the shelling with her parents. She also cites 14-year-old Arseniy was hit in the head by wreckage, and could not be saved because an ambulance could not get to him on time because of intense fires.

Zelenska adds that “this war is being waged against the civilian population, and not just through shelling,” citing the lack of basic medicines in the besieged Ukrainian cities.

She seconds Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call on Western allies to help counter the Russian air superiority, saying “close the sky, and we will manage the war on the ground ourselves.”

Thousands manage to evacuate Sumy amid Russian bombardment — deputy PM

Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Authorities evacuated thousands of people from the eastern city of Sumy, a senior Ukrainian official says.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says that 5,000 people, including 1,700 foreign students, were evacuated from Sumy.

Vereshchuk reaffirms that Ukraine will not accept Moscow’s offer to establish safe corridors for civilians to head toward Russia, saying it will only agree to safe exits leading westward.

Vereshchuk says that the evacuation from the southern port of Mariupol failed Tuesday because the Russian troops fired on a Ukrainian convoy carrying humanitarian cargo to Mariupol that was to carry civilians from the city on its way back. She says the city was in a “catastrophic situation” cut from water, power, and communications, adding that a child in Mariupol has died of dehydration.

The Russian military has denied firing on convoys and charged that the Ukrainian side was blocking the evacuation effort.

US calls Poland offer of jets for Ukraine a ‘surprise’

The United States was caught off guard Tuesday when Poland announced it was prepared to provide Mig-29 fighter jets under a reported scheme that would send the planes to Ukraine, a US official says.

“I was in a meeting where I ought to have heard about that just before I came [to a Senate hearing], so I think that actually was a surprise move by the Poles,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland tells US lawmakers.

Asked by a senator whether US officials coordinated ahead of time with Poland before Warsaw made its announcement, Nuland says: “Not to my knowledge.”

Coca-Cola says it will suspend Russia operations

A Coca-Cola sign is shown in San Francisco, on October 27, 2020. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
A Coca-Cola sign is shown in San Francisco, on October 27, 2020. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Coca-Cola is suspending its business in Russia, the soft drinks giant announces, as corporations and Western governments penalize Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

“Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine,” the company says in a statement.

Leader of Proud Boys far right militia charged over Capitol riot

In this January 6, 2021, photo, violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump scale the west wall of the the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
In this January 6, 2021, photo, violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump scale the west wall of the the US Capitol in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

The leader of the Proud Boys, one of the main rightwing militia groups in the US, was arrested Tuesday over his role in the assault against the US Capitol last year, officials say.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 38, has been indicted on conspiracy and other charges along with five other members of the organization, said Matthew Graves, US attorney for the District of Columbia, who is leading the sprawling probe into the insurrection targeting the seat of US democracy on January 6, 2021.

Tarrio, a fervent supporter of Donald Trump, is not accused of physically breaching the US Capitol along with a hundreds-strong mob of the then-US president’s supporters, who overran the building that houses Congress on January 6, 2021, as lawmakers gathered to certify Joe Biden’s election win over Trump.

Rather, the indictment states that Tarrio “led the advance planning and remained in contact with other members of the Proud Boys during their breach of the Capitol.”

Russia offers humanitarian corridors again amid accusations its targeting civilians

People walk next to an apartment building hit by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
People walk next to an apartment building hit by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

The Russian military has offered again to provide humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave five Ukrainian cities after several previous attempts to establish safe exits have failed.

Ukrainian officials say that Russian shelling again made it impossible for civilians to use the corridors on Tuesday despite a deal reached a day earlier. The Russian military has countered the claim, alleging that Ukraine only has allowed civilians to use one corridor from the city of Sumy and blocked other routes from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev says that the Russian military has announced it will stop firing at 10 a.m. Wednesday to let civilians leave safely via the corridors. He suggested setting up a hotline between Russia and Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation.

Florida lawmakers pass controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ schools bill

Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol, on Monday, March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, FL. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol, on Monday, March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, FL. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Florida’s state senate has passed a controversial bill banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools, a step that critics complain will hurt the LGBTQ community.

The legislation goes to Governor Ron DeSantis, who says he supports it, now that it has passed both chambers of the state legislature.

Opposition Democrats and LGBTQ rights activists have lobbied against what they call the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which will affect kids in kindergarten through third grade.

The bill also bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Critics say this wording means the bill could be applied to older children as well.

Mariupol family risks all just to tell teen daughter in Israel: ‘We are alive’

Vika and Ksiusha Korotkova in Mariupol, Ukraine in September 2021, on the day Ksiusha left for Israel. (Courtesy: Alina Gryadchenko)
Vika and Ksiusha Korotkova in Mariupol, Ukraine in September 2021, on the day Ksiusha left for Israel. (Courtesy: Alina Gryadchenko)

A Ukrainian family in Mariupol, a city that has suffered massive bombing and has had little contact with the outside world for days, risked everything to drive to a location where there is still phone reception to get a message to their 14-year-old daughter in Israel: “We are alive.”

On Tuesday, Vika Korotkova, who has been sheltering with her husband and younger daughter Sofia, phoned Christians for Israel, a Netherlands-based organization devoted to bringing Jews to Israel that also operates in Ukraine.

It was Christians for Israel that sponsored a flight to Israel in September for Vika’s daughter Ksiusha, within the framework of the Jewish Agency’s Na’ale program for high school students from the former Soviet Union and elsewhere.

Click here for the full story.

Cruz blocks Senate panel from holding vote to confirm Biden nominee for senior Mideast post

US Ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf. (Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr./US Air Force)
US Ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf. (Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr./US Air Force)

Republican Senator Ted Cruz has blocked the Foreign Relations Committee from convening today to vote on confirming US President Joe Biden’s nominee for State Department Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, the panel’s chairman Bob Menendez says.

The committee was supposed to vote to confirm both Leaf and Biden’s nominee for special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt, but Republicans acted to block both matters.

Both are still expected to be confirmed though and a vote will be held at the next meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, though a date has not yet been set.

Starbucks says it will temporarily close its cafes in Russia

A view of a Starbucks shop in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a Starbucks shop in Washington, DC, on April 17, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Starbucks says it will temporarily close its cafes in Russia in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement follows a similar one made by McDonald’s earlier today.

Starbucks operates roughly 130 cafes in Russia and Ukraine.

Poland ‘ready’ to hand its Mig-29 jets to US

Poland is willing to hand its Mig-29 fighter jets to the United States, the foreign ministry says in a statement, under a reported scheme that would see the planes given to Ukraine.

“Poland… is ready to deliver its Mig-29 planes to Ramstein airbase (in Germany) and make them available to the US for free and without delay,” says Warsaw, which under a reported deal would receive F-16 fighters as replacements for the Soviet-era planes which Ukrainian pilots are trained on.

First civilians evacuated from Ukraine’s Sumy arrive at destination

The first convoy carrying civilians from Sumy in northern Ukraine arrived via a humanitarian corridor in the central city of Poltava, Ukraine’s presidency says.

“The first column of 22 buses has already arrived in Poltava,” the president’s deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko says on Telegram, adding that 1,100 foreign students would travel onwards by train to Lviv in Western Ukraine.

Report: Putin not demanding regime change as ceasefire talks reach critical juncture

Russian President Vladimir Putin has relayed to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Moscow’s proposal for a ceasefire with Ukraine, which would not require a regime change in Kyiv, Israeli officials familiar with the talks tell the Axios news site.

Bennett has held a pair of conversations with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky since the Israeli premier jetted to Moscow for a meeting with the Russian president on Saturday.

Bennett has not presented either leader with an Israeli ceasefire proposal, and is sufficing with passing along messages from leader to the other, the officials tell Axios, crediting Bennett for helping clarify Putin’s position to Zelensky and the West.

Israeli officials say both sides have softened their stances, with Russia talking only about a demilitarized Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine and Zelensky telling ABC that he has “cooled down” regarding plans to join NATO.

The talks have now reached a critical juncture they say, with Zelensky needing to decide whether to accept Putin’s proposal — whose details are not completely clear — or risk a significant escalation in the war.

British envoy lauds Bennett for mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine

Incoming UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan. (Courtesy: UK Embassy, Tel Aviv)
Incoming UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan. (Courtesy: UK Embassy, Tel Aviv)

British ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan speaks with Israeli reporters and compliments Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on his efforts vis-a-vis Russia.

“We appreciate the Prime Minister’s efforts to explore what scope there is for ending this conflict with Russia. Israel has probably the best relationship with both countries of any democracy.”

“As for the chance Bennett’s efforts will succeed? It depends on Putin, and whether he really wants to stop the war and find a diplomatic solution,” he says.

“Bennett is the first leader to have sat down with Putin for three hours since the war began, which is a major achievement. It was the beginning of a process. I don’t think anyone was under the impression it would stop the war the next day. The question is whether Putin is open to a diplomatic solution. It is important to try to stop [Russia’s] attacks via diplomacy, and that is exactly what Bennett tried to do, while keeping the Ukrainians in the picture.”

Wigan also says that the UK is looking to enhance UK-Israel security relationship and that, for the first time in 26 years, his country’s defense minister will pay a visit to Israel.

“It is part of a British move to strengthen security ties with Israel” he says. “The defense secretary will arrive in Israel in the near future. After Foreign Minister [Yair] Lapid signed a strategic agreement between Israel and the UK, we are interested in taking concrete steps forward. Post-Brexit Britain is interested in developing deeper bilateral relations.”

“This is because of Israel’s impressive military capabilities in the advanced battlefield and the integration between the forces. We were interested in this and wanted to improve relations even before the Russo-Ukrainian war.”

Jerusalem’s embassy in Bucharest evacuates 10 Ukrainian pediatric cancer patients to Israel

Israeli Ambassador to Romania David Saranga helps evacuate a Ukrainian pediatric cancer patient, on March 8, 2022. (Israeli Embassy in Romania)
Israeli Ambassador to Romania David Saranga helps evacuate a Ukrainian pediatric cancer patient, on March 8, 2022. (Israeli Embassy in Romania)

Israeli Ambassador to Romania David Saranga and his embassy staff evacuated 10 Ukrainian pediatric cancer patients from Kyiv to Israel, says the Foreign Ministry.

Schneider Children’s Medical Center provided a medical team and plane to transport the children and their parents to Petah Tikva for life-saving treatment.

UN envoy expresses concern over deteriorating situation in Jerusalem, West Bank

Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan SindelFlash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City, on March 7, 2022. (Yonatan SindelFlash90)

Following an uptick in Palestinian attacks in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as IDF killings of Palestinians beyond the Green Line, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland issues a statement saying he is “deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation.”

“This past week, daily violence has claimed the lives of six Palestinians, including one child, and 26 Palestinians and seven Israelis have been injured,” he says, not stipulating the conditions of their deaths.

“There can be no justification for violence or terror, which must be condemned by all. Israeli security forces must use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life,” Wennesland says.

“This uptick in violence is taking place at a particularly sensitive time,” he adds, referring to the upcoming Purim and Ramadan holidays. “I call on political, religious, and community leaders to reject violence and speak up against those who try to inflame the situation.”

BBC to resume English-language reporting from Russia

Police officers detain a person during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Moscow, on March 3, 2022. (AFP)
Police officers detain a person during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Moscow, on March 3, 2022. (AFP)

The BBC announces that it is resuming English-language broadcasting from Russia, after suspending reporting as it examined tough new media laws.

The broadcaster last Friday halted its journalists’ work in Russia after lawmakers moved to impose lengthy jail terms for publishing “fake news” about the army, as part of efforts to muffle dissent over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said the law could “criminalize the process of independent journalism” and warned staff faced prosecution “simply for doing their jobs.”

But in a new statement, the corporation said it had “considered the new legislation alongside the urgent need to report from inside Russia.”

“After careful deliberation, we have decided to resume English-language reporting from Russia this evening (Tuesday 8 March), after it was temporarily suspended at the end of last week,” it adds.

“We will tell this crucial part of the story independently and impartially, adhering to the BBC’s strict editorial standards.

“The safety of our staff in Russia remains our number one priority.”

A number of foreign media have suspended reporting from inside Russia, including The New York Times, Canada’s CBC/Radio-Canada, Germany’s ARD and ZDF, and Bloomberg News, plus US channels CNN and CBS.

US announces Israeli-Palestinian peace-building grants, but holds identities of recipients

USAID deputy administrator Isobel Coleman speaks to reporters at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on March 8, 2022. (Tal Schneider/The Times of Israel)
USAID deputy administrator Isobel Coleman speaks to reporters at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on March 8, 2022. (Tal Schneider/The Times of Israel)

The United States Agency for International Development has announced the first round of grants from a new Israeli-Palestinian peace-building fund.

The fund is a result of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which was passed by Congress in 2020, allocating $250 million in US financial assistance to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programs and Palestinian business development projects over a five-year period.

USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman announces the first two grants during a press conference at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, but avoids disclosing the exact identities of the recipients, saying the US wanted to give them time to prepare to go public.

The vagueness appeared to have to do with the growing hesitancy among Palestinians to take part publicly in peace-building efforts with Israelis, which have become increasingly unpopular as Israel’s control over Palestinians in the West Bank becomes more and more permanent.

“We’re not actually disclosing the names right now,” Coleman says. “There are many businesses that are reluctant to engage in this, so we’re allowing the trade associations some space and some time for them to get comfortable with that, which is again part of the process.”

“The first grant provides $3.3 million over four years to provide businesswomen with training, seed funding, and connections with successful entrepreneur mentors,” reads a USAID statement released on International Women’s Day. “Training and mentorship sessions will provide opportunities for Palestinian and Israeli women to expand their business networks and build the personal connections that help foster greater security, prosperity, and freedom.”

“The second grant provides $2.2 million over three years to support Palestinian and Israeli business leaders and small and medium enterprises. The grant will bring together and coach Palestinian and Israeli businesses to build partnerships and advance participants’ business goals,” the statement adds. “The activity will support both Palestinian and Israeli trade associations to leverage their business networks and extended connections across Israel and the West Bank.”

Jordan prince apologizes to king for 2021 palace crisis

Jordan's Prince Hamzah bin Hussein. (Abd Alrahman Wreikat/Wikipedia)
Jordan's Prince Hamzah bin Hussein. (Abd Alrahman Wreikat/Wikipedia)

Jordan’s royal court says that former crown prince Hamzah has met his half-brother King Abdullah II, and apologized over events that sparked an unprecedented palace crisis last year.

In a letter sent “earlier this week,” Prince Hamzah “took responsibility for his actions and offenses towards Jordan and His Majesty over the past years, including the incidents that followed in the sedition case,” a statement says.

The king and Hamzah met on Sunday evening “at the prince’s request,” it adds.

In April last year, Jordanian authorities announced they had foiled a bid to destabilize the pro-Western kingdom and had arrested 18 suspects, though most were later released.

Hamzah, whom the king sidelined as heir to the throne in 2004, accused Jordan’s rulers of corruption and ineptitude in a video message posted by the BBC on April 3.

He said the same day that he had been put under house arrest.

A Jordanian court in July sentenced two former officials to 15 years in jail after finding them guilty of a coup plot.

Hamzah was not charged in the trial, but the charge sheet said he was “determined to fulfill his personal ambition to rule, in violation of the Hashemite constitution and customs.”

The prince’s “acknowledgment of his mistake and apology represent a step in the right direction on the path to regaining his role as other Royal family members,” the statement says.

Hamzah expressed the hope that “we can turn the page on this chapter in our country’s and our family’s history,” according to a translation of his letter provided with the statement.

Report: 2 Iran revolutionary guard members killed in Israeli strike in Syria

A Syrian anti-aircraft missile is fired near Damascus during an alleged Israeli airstrike, on March 7, 2022. (SANA)
A Syrian anti-aircraft missile is fired near Damascus during an alleged Israeli airstrike, on March 7, 2022. (SANA)

Two members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed last night in Israeli airstrikes in Syria, according to Iranian media reports.

While casualties in strikes attributed to Israel are somewhat regular, it is far more rare that those killed are Iranian operatives.

Report: Israel warned Ukraine it wouldn’t put up with continued criticism from Kyiv mid-mediation

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett poses for a picture at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 26, 2022; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90; Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett poses for a picture at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on January 26, 2022; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the nation in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 24, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90; Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Israel sent strong messages to Ukraine over the past day that it will not continue its efforts to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow if Ukrainian officials continue to publicly attack Jerusalem, Channel 12 reports.

The official speaking to the network on condition of anonymity says the message appears to have resonated, as Ukraine’s foreign minister has since apologized for claiming El Al was accepting money “soaked in Ukrainian blood” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted his thanks to Bennett for the mediation efforts.

State asks for extra month to respond to High Court petition demanding demolition of Bedouin hamlet

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett at a conference of the Srugim news site above the West Bank Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, on March 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett at a conference of the Srugim news site above the West Bank Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, on March 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The state has asked the High Court of Justice for another 30 days to respond to a petition demanding to know why the government hasn’t demolished the illegal Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar located in the central West Bank.

Right-wing groups have been calling for the village’s demolition for years, but successive governments have avoided doing so amid massive international pressure.

The hamlet was built without the necessary permits, but the Palestinian residents note that Israel does not grant them construction approvals in the West Bank, as opposed to Jewish settlers who enjoy permits in the thousands each year.

Asking for another delay in handing over its response which was due last September, the state says that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been busy dealing with matters in Europe and hasn’t had time to hold a meeting on Khan al-Ahmar.

Evoking Churchill in speech to UK Parliament, Zelensky says Ukraine ‘won’t give up’

Screen capture from video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking from his office at the presidential palace in embattled Kyiv, on March 8, 2022. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking from his office at the presidential palace in embattled Kyiv, on March 8, 2022. (Twitter)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky evokes British wartime leader Winston Churchill as he told the UK Parliament that his country would fight Russia’s invasion to the end in Ukraine’s cities, fields and riverbanks.

Zelensky tells British lawmakers “we will not give up and we will not lose,” in a speech that evoked Churchill’s stirring “never surrender” speech during the darkest days of World War II.

Speaking by video from Ukraine to a packed House of Commons chamber, Zelensky urges Britain to increase sanctions on Russia and to recognize Russia as “a terrorist country.”

Today’s address was the first time a foreign leader was allowed to speak in the House of Commons. Screens and simultaneous translation headsets were set up in the House of Commons so lawmakers could hear him.

New York Times pulls editorial staff from Russia over new law

In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, a sign for The New York Times hangs above the entrance to its building, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
In this Thursday, May 6, 2021 file photo, a sign for The New York Times hangs above the entrance to its building, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The New York Times announces its editorial staff was pulling out of Russia over Moscow’s punitive new media law, following other outlets that have withdrawn over safety concerns.

Russian authorities have blocked several independent media outlets, and last week moved to impose harsh jail terms for “false news” about the army as part of its efforts to muffle dissent.

“Russia’s new legislation seeks to criminalize independent, accurate news reporting about the war against Ukraine,” The New York Times organization says in a statement.

“For the safety and security of our editorial staff working in the region, we are moving them out of the country for now,” it adds.

The new law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, creates prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading information aimed at “discrediting” military forces and also punishes any call to sanction Moscow.

Other Western media outlets have already suspended the activities of their correspondents in Russia for fear of reprisals, including Canada’s CBC/Radio Canada, the German ARD and ZDF, and the Spanish RTVE, as well as the American agency Bloomberg News and the Spanish EFE.

The BBC said it would resume English-language broadcasting from Russia Tuesday, after suspending its reporting as it examined the tough new media laws.

The New York Times said it was focused on “returning as soon as possible while we monitor the application of the new law.”

McDonald’s to temporarily close 850 stores in Russia, will continue paying employees

A sign is displayed outside a McDonald's restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
A sign is displayed outside a McDonald's restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa, April 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

McDonald’s says it is temporarily closing all of its 850 restaurants in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The burger giant says it will continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia “who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand.” But in an open letter to employees, McDonald’s President and CEO Kempczinski says closing those stores for now is the right thing to do.

“Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” Kempczinski says.

Kempczinski says it’s impossible to know when the company will be able to reopen its stores.

McDonald’s has also temporarily closed 100 restaurants in Ukraine and continues to pay those employees.

McDonald’s could take a big financial hit because of the closures. In a recent regulatory filing, the Chicago-based company said its restaurants in Russia and Ukraine contributed 9% of its annual revenue, or around $2 billion.

Blinken, Macron meet to discuss war response

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, in  Riga, Latvia, on March 7, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, in Riga, Latvia, on March 7, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to discuss the response to Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Macron is briefing Blinken on his most recent round of conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is pressing ahead with the Ukraine invasion despite global condemnation and severe sanctions being imposed on his country.

The two men are also to discuss the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, which are nearing an end with conflicting signals about whether the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s atomic program can be salvaged.

Blinken arrived in Paris for a two-hour stop from a tour of the Baltic states, Moldova, and Poland where he heard firsthand dire concerns about Russia’s actions from leaders.

CIA boss: China ‘unsettled’ by Russia’s war in Ukraine

CIA Director William Burns is interviewed at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, on December 7, 2021. (Screenshot/YouTube)
CIA Director William Burns is interviewed at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council, on December 7, 2021. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The CIA’s director says he believes China leader Xi Jinping has been “unsettled” by Russia’s difficulties in invading Ukraine, and by how the war has brought the United States and Europe closer.

“I think President Xi and the Chinese leadership are a little bit unsettled by what they’re seeing in Ukraine,” Central Intelligence Agency boss William Burns tells US lawmakers during a hearing on global threat assessments.

“They did not anticipate the significant difficulties the Russians were going to run into.”

Nearly two weeks into the invasion, Russian forces are bogged down in Ukraine, suffering as many as 4,000 fatalities, according to the Pentagon’s estimate, and encountering unexpectedly strong resistance from Ukrainian forces.

Beijing has refused to condemn the invasion by its close partner Russia and said Monday their friendship remains “rock solid” despite international condemnation of Moscow. It has expressed an openness to help mediate an end to the war.

Xi has urged “maximum restraint” over Ukraine, calling the crisis “deeply worrying” in a video summit with his French and German counterparts Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz.

Xi says he wanted Russia and Ukraine “to maintain the momentum of negotiations, overcome difficulties and continue the talks to achieve results,” according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Burns, a respected American diplomat for three decades and a former ambassador to Moscow, tells the US House panel that China’s leadership is concerned “by the reputational damage that can come by their close association with President Putin.”

He says Beijing was worried about the economic consequences of being a Moscow ally at a moment when China is facing lower annual growth rates than it has for much of the past three decades.

Burns adds that China was also concerned about the broader geopolitical fallout of Russia’s invasion, including “by the way in which Vladimir Putin has driven Europeans and Americans much closer together.”

GOP senator blocks panel from holding vote to confirm Biden antisemitism envoy nominee

Deborah Lipstadt, US President Joe Biden's nominee to be antisemitism monitor, testifies in the Dirksen Office building near the US Capitol, on February 8, 2022. (Ron Kampeas/JTA)
Deborah Lipstadt, US President Joe Biden's nominee to be antisemitism monitor, testifies in the Dirksen Office building near the US Capitol, on February 8, 2022. (Ron Kampeas/JTA)

Republican Senator Ron Johnson has blocked the Foreign Relations Committee from convening today to vote on confirming US President Joe Biden’s nominee for special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt, according to a Democratic aide.

Last March, Lipstadt tweeted an article about a statement Johnson made in which he said he would have been more concerned by the January 6 insurrection had the rioters been “Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters” as opposed to Trump supporters. Lipstadt wrote, “This is white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple.”

Foreign Relations Committee members are able to delay confirmation votes by asking that they be moved until the next meeting, as Johnson has done. The next meeting has not yet been scheduled.

However, with several Republicans indicating that they will back Lipstadt, her nomination is expected to make it out of committee and onto the Senate Floor, where it is expected to pass overwhelmingly.

Night-vision goggles, water and Golda biography: What 1 Ukrainian soldier takes into battle

A Ukrainian soldier nicknamed Zion holds up a copy of a Golda Meir biography he carries with him into battle, on March 8, 2022. (Screenshot/Twitter)
A Ukrainian soldier nicknamed Zion holds up a copy of a Golda Meir biography he carries with him into battle, on March 8, 2022. (Screenshot/Twitter)

Alex, a Ukrainian soldier who goes by the nickname of Zion, shows the Ynet news site in Kyiv that he carries a biography of former prime minister Golda Meir in his military bag.

“This is my favorite book, and I’ll take it with me even if it my last battle,” he says.

He’s not Jewish and refers to himself as a Ukrainian nationalist and a Zionist.

Bennett speaks to Putin for second time since Sabbath visit

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on October 22, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, on October 22, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The Kremlin says that Russian President Vladimir Putin had another phone call with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that he also spoke to Bennett on Tuesday and thanked him for his mediation.

The PMO has yet to release a statement on either call.

Bennett visited Moscow for a meeting with Putin on Saturday, trying to help broker an end to the war with Ukraine. After meeting with Putin, Bennett spoke to Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron, and also visited Berlin on Saturday for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Bennett also spoke to Putin by phone on Sunday.

Britain joins US in banning imports of Russian oil

Britain is joining the United States in announcing a ban on imports of Russian oil.

British Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says oil and oil products from Russia will be phased out by the end of the year. He says the transition period “will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports,” which account for 8% of UK demand.

Kwarteng says the UK would work with its other oil suppliers, including the US, the Netherlands, and the Gulf states, to secure extra supplies.

US President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. It follows pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to US and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a glaring omission in the massive sanctions put in place on Russia over the invasion.

Pentagon estimates 2,000 to 4,000 Russian soldiers killed in invasion — far lower than Ukraine figure

Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in Lugansk region, on February 26, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP)
Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in Lugansk region, on February 26, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP)

The US Defense Department tells lawmakers it estimates between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Moscow’s nearly two-week-old invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have given numbers far higher, saying 11,000 have been killed.

The latest assessment comes as US defense and intelligence leaders painted a stark picture of an aggressive and aggrieved Russian President Vladimir Putin and a likelihood that he will continue to propagate a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine in the face of massive global opposition.

Asked at a House Intelligence Committee hearing how many Russian troops have died to date in the military operation, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, said “somewhere between two [thousand] and 4,000.”

Berrier does add however that the estimate is considered “low confidence” because it was put together using a combination of intelligence sources and open-source data.

Russia, in a rare release of military death figures, said on March 2 that 498 of its soldiers have died. Ukraine at the time said it believed the figure was higher.

Central Intelligence Director William Burns tells the House panel that he believes Ukraine and the Moscow-driven war is a matter of “deep personal conviction” for Putin.

“He’s been stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition,” Burns says, adding he expects “an ugly next few weeks in which [Putin] doubles down” in Ukraine “with scant regard for civilian casualties.”

But he also expresses confidence that the Ukrainians will continue “to resist fiercely and effectively.”

The Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, told the lawmakers that Putin did not anticipate the full scope of the global economic, trade and diplomatic pushback against Russia.

But she also said it was DNI’s assessment that Putin is “unlikely to be deterred from such setbacks,” and sees the conflict as “a war he cannot afford to lose.”

France says ‘worried’ about ‘delays’ to Iran nuclear deal

Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency Kazem Gharib Abadi, Political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora stand in front of the 'Grand Hotel Vienna' where where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
Iran's Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency Kazem Gharib Abadi, Political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Secretary General and Political Director of the European External Action Service Enrique Mora stand in front of the 'Grand Hotel Vienna' where where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, on June 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

France warns that further delays to a revived nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran could stymie the deal, while saying that the talks were “very close” to success.

“We are very close to a deal,” but Paris is “very worried about risks that further delays could weigh on the chances,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman tells reporters in an apparent reference to Russia’s demands for extra guarantees — adding that France “calls on all other parties to adopt a responsible approach.”

Russia lodges appeal against FIFA, UEFA bans over Ukraine invasion

The Football Union of Russia has lodged appeals against the suspension of Russian national teams and clubs from all FIFA and UEFA competitions over the invasion of Ukraine, the sport’s top court says.

The FUR is asking the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for a stay of execution for the suspensions, to allow Russia to play in a 2022 World Cup playoff against Poland at the end of this month.

Biden: Ukraine will ‘never be a victory for Putin’

US President Joe Biden says that Russia would be unable to ever control all of Ukraine, vowing the war would “never be a victory” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price but this much is already clear — Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin,” Biden says in a speech from the White House. “Putin may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country.”

Fatah delays party conference until May

This photo taken Tuesday, November 29, 2016, shows Fatah members talk ahead of the opening session of the Fatah party seventh conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Arabic in the background reads 'Palestine, Ramallah.' (AP/Nasser Nasser)
This photo taken Tuesday, November 29, 2016, shows Fatah members talk ahead of the opening session of the Fatah party seventh conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Arabic in the background reads 'Palestine, Ramallah.' (AP/Nasser Nasser)

The Palestinian Fatah movement officially delays its party conference, originally set for March 21, until late May, a Fatah spokesperson says, without providing a reason.

Fatah holds conferences once every few years so as to elect the party’s top leadership. Recent gatherings have seen party chief Mahmoud Abbas, who serves as Palestinian Authority president, appoint loyalists and demote those deemed close to his rivals.

Biden announces ban on US imports of Russia oil, escalating response to Ukraine invasion

US President Joe Biden makes an address on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Washington, DC, on February 24, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images/JTA)
US President Joe Biden makes an address on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Washington, DC, on February 24, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images/JTA)

US President Joe Biden announces a ban on US imports of Russian oil, in the administration’s most far-reaching action yet to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine.

“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to [President Vladimir] Putin,” Biden says in an address from the White House, adding that the decision was taken “in close consultation” with allies.

The ban comes with Democrats threatening legislation to force Biden’s hand, despite the likely impact on already soaring gas prices.

Shaked announces end to deposit requirement for Ukrainian refugees, pledges to take in 5K

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks from Jerusalem, on March 8, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks from Jerusalem, on March 8, 2022. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announces that Israel will no longer require Ukrainian refugees arriving at Ben Gurion Airport to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,028) in order to enter the country.

In a press statement from Jerusalem, Shaked says Israel will agree to take in 5,000 Ukrainian refugees. It has already taken in roughly 3,000. Ukrainians will receive a temporary visa, allowing them to remain in Israel for three months. If at the end of that period the fighting in Ukraine is still persisting, they will be allowed to work in Israel as well.

Instead of paying a deposit, those who enter will have to sign a form pledging to leave Israel as soon as the state of emergency in Ukraine is over.

Israel will also allow the 20,000 Ukrainians who Shaked says were already illegally residing in the country before the violence started to remain, Shaked announces.

Any Ukrainian citizen who wishes to come to Israel will have to submit an online application on the Foreign Ministry’s website. They’ll have to present the approved form before boarding a plane to Israel. Israeli citizens will be able to apply to host Ukrainian citizens, with each applicant allowed to host a single nuclear family.

As for Ukrainian Jews, Israel will continue providing citizenship to each of them who seeks to immigrate to Israel.

Israeli traveled to Ukraine to visit mother, is now trapped in city under Russian siege

Masha Ovcherko speaks with Channel 12 from Mariupol, Ukraine. (Screenshot/Channel 12)
Masha Ovcherko speaks with Channel 12 from Mariupol, Ukraine. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

Israeli Masha Ovcherko traveled to Ukraine to visit her mother in Mariupol, and now finds herself trapped in the port city currently under Russian siege.

Ovcherko shivers in fear as she speaks with Channel 12 from her mother’s home in Mariupol where she is hiding out with her seven-year-old son.

Ovcherko says that Russian troops cut internet cables in the city for two days to prevent residents from knowing what was happening around them.

She says she reached out to Israeli authorities who told her to head to the border in order to receive help, but Ovcherko says she has no way of making the long trek and is scared of how dangerous it is.

Directing her plea to Israeli authorities, she says, “We’re helpless, and we’re asking for help.”

“We just want to come home. We’re imprisoned here and want our government to help us,” she adds.

‘Russian troops will be sent home in body bags,’ says IDF soldier-turned-Ukrainian special forces operative

Nikolai Mikolivitch, a former Givati combat soldier now in the Ukrainian special forces defending Kyiv, speaks with Channel 12 on March 8, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)
Nikolai Mikolivitch, a former Givati combat soldier now in the Ukrainian special forces defending Kyiv, speaks with Channel 12 on March 8, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

Nikolai Mikolivitch, a former Givati combat soldier now in a Ukrainian special forces unit defending Kyiv, tells Channel 12 that it’ll take several days before Russian forces manage to breach the capital.

Mikolivitch says the Russians are roughly 10 kilometers from the edge of Kyiv but that they will try and surround the city upon entry.

They will be met by a Ukrainian army determined to send Russian troops back home “in body bags,” Mikolivitch says.

Speaking in Hebrew, the former IDF soldier says the operation has not gone as planned for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “You’ve seen in Israel how many tanks have been burned and the helicopters that have been shot down.”

“Inside Kyiv, thousands of people are waiting for them, armed,” Mikolivitch says.

Biden said readying to ban US imports of Russia oil, with EU heading in same direction

A worker pumps gas at a Lukoil station in Newark, New Jersey, on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.  (AP/Ted Shaffrey)
A worker pumps gas at a Lukoil station in Newark, New Jersey, on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP/Ted Shaffrey)

US media outlets say President Joe Biden is preparing to ban US imports of Russian oil and a leaked EU plan shows Brussels dramatically reducing its dependency on Russian gas to try to sever Moscow’s main economic lifeline. Russia has warned that Moscow could retaliate by cutting off European gas supplies altogether.

Crude prices surge by more than 5% as US expected to ban Russian oil

The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, soared by more than five percent today, as US President Joe Biden is expected to announce a US ban on Russian oil imports.

The price of a barrel has reached $129.92 at 1430 GMT, an increase of 5.45 percent.

Hundreds from extremist Haredi sect block major highway entrance to Bnei Brak

Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators block a Route 4 on  March 8, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)
Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators block a Route 4 on March 8, 2022. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men are again blocking a major highway near the central town of Bnei Brak in protest of the arrest of an IDF draft-dodger.

Police are trying to remove the protesters from Route 4, but are having a hard time doing so, given the large numbers.

Many in the ultra-Orthodox community shun the mandatory military service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from the army in favor of yeshiva studies.

NATO chief says Russia targeting fleeing civilians in Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media prior to the start of a foreign ministers' meeting following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, on March 4, 2022. (Oliver Doulirey/Pool/AFP)
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media prior to the start of a foreign ministers' meeting following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, on March 4, 2022. (Oliver Doulirey/Pool/AFP)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia’s armed forces may be deliberately targeting civilians as they try to flee the military assault on Ukraine.

Stoltenberg says “there are very creditable reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate. Targeting civilians is a war crime, and it’s totally unacceptable.”

He tells reporters in Latvia that the humanitarian impact of the almost two-week long war “is devastating.”

“We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected,” he says.

Asked what NATO can do to help, Stoltenberg says: “We have a responsibility to ensure the conflict does not spread beyond Ukraine.” NATO is boosting its defenses to ensure that members near Russia and Ukraine are not next on Moscow’s target list.

8.1% of Israel’s energy came from renewable sources in 2021, missing 10% target — minister

In this Dec. 22, 2016 photo, 50,000 mirrors, known as heliostats,encircle the solar tower in the Negev desert, near in Ashelim, southern Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
In this Dec. 22, 2016 photo, 50,000 mirrors, known as heliostats,encircle the solar tower in the Negev desert, near in Ashelim, southern Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Just 8.1 percent of Israel’s energy came from renewable sources in 2021, with the government failing again to hit its own target of 10% by the end of 2020.

“There won’t be a day on which we cut a ribbon or announce that we’ve won victory over the challenge of renewables,” Energy Ministry Karine Elharrar says, after the presentation of new data by the Electricity Authority.

She adds that the ministry’s current focus is on reaching 20% renewables by 2025.

Government policy is to reach 30% by 2030.

UN: 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since start of invasion; 861 hurt

Polina Shulga, 27, an administrator in a rehabilitation center in Kyiv, with her three-year-old daughter Aria after fleeing from Ukraine, run for a train to Budapest, on a train platform in the Hungarian border town of Zahony, Hungary, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Polina Shulga, 27, an administrator in a rehabilitation center in Kyiv, with her three-year-old daughter Aria after fleeing from Ukraine, run for a train to Budapest, on a train platform in the Hungarian border town of Zahony, Hungary, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The UN human rights office says it has confirmed 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.

The office says that the number of confirmed civilian injuries now stands at 861.

The UN office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has been able to verify.

It acknowledges that the real figures are much higher, in part because intense fighting has delayed its receipt of information and many reports still have to be corroborated.

Jerusalem mayor revises housing plan, limiting construction on White Ridge forested hillside

Reches Lavan, or White Ridge, east of Jerusalem. (Dov Greenblat, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)
Reches Lavan, or White Ridge, east of Jerusalem. (Dov Greenblat, Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel)

In a victory for environmental groups, Jerusalem’s Mayor Moshe Lion presents a new and revised plan for building on White Ridge, a popular forested hillside of natural springs just to the west of the city.

An original plan called for the construction of 5,250 residential units along with 300 hotel rooms and commercial space covering around 800 dunams (just under 200 acres).

The revised plan, dubbed Good Tidings in White, provides for 6,000 residential units built on a 300 dunam (74 acre) site.

Plans for a light rail line have been dropped, some 10,000 trees will be saved and the city will work to have the remaining 500 dunams (124 acres) declared a national park to stop further building in the future, the mayor says.

The not-for-profit organization Saving the Jerusalem Hills vows to continue to campaign until several threatened areas of the hills, including White Ridge, receive statutory protection.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel praises the mayor and welcomes the new plan, pledging to continue to work with the “caring and determined” public to ensure that as much open space as possible is preserved in the Jerusalem Hills.

Herzog to depart for Turkey tomorrow, becoming 1st Israeli leader to visit country since 2008

President Isaac Herzog speaks during the B'Sheva conference in Jerusalem on February 7, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog speaks during the B'Sheva conference in Jerusalem on February 7, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog will be the first Israeli leader to visit Turkey since 2008, departing tomorrow for a two-day state visit at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, says his spokesman.

Accompanied by the first lady, the President will visit Ankara and Istanbul, and is expected to meet the Turkish president, as well as members of the Turkish Jewish community.

Israel and Turkey have been patching up their relationship, following a multi-year disconnect between the former close collaborators. Erdoğan called Herzog with congratulations when Herzog entered the presidential office.

“During the visit, which is coordinated with the prime minister, the foreign minister, and their offices, the two presidents will discuss various bilateral issues, including Israel-Turkey relations and the potential for expanding collaboration between their respective states and peoples in various fields,” says Herzog’s spokesman.

Ukrainian girl dies of thirst under rubble of home — Mariupol mayor

Smoke rises after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Smoke rises after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

A 6-year-old girl has died from dehydration under the rubble of her destroyed home in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the city council says.

Mariupol is surrounded by Russian forces, who have bombarded the port city despite promises of a ceasefire to allow civilians to be evacuated.

It is not known how long the girl, named only as Tanya, had been under the ruins of her home before she died, but her mother was found dead at the scene.

“In the last minutes of her life she was alone, exhausted, frightened and terribly thirsty. This is just one of the many stories of Mariupol, which has been surviving a blockade for eight days,” Mayor Vadym Boychenko says on the city’s Telegram channel.

Residents of Mariupol have been cut off from electricity, water and gas. Communications are disrupted and attempts to deliver food and medicine have failed.

President Volodymyr Zelensky noted the death of the girl in a video message released to urge Ukraine’s Western partners to do more to help Kyiv counter Moscow’s invasion.

“Mariupol was surrounded, blocked, is being exhausted, tortured,” he declares.

“For the first time in dozens of years, perhaps for the first time since the Nazi invasion, a child died of dehydration. Hear me, today, dear partners! A child died of dehydration in 2022!”

Zelensky says he spoke with Bennett, thanks him for mediation efforts with Russia

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 6, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)
In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 6, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says he talked to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and thanked him for his efforts to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv.

In an English-language tweet, Zelensky says that the two “discussed ways to end the war and violence.”

He does not say when the call took place. There is no immediate comment from the Prime Minister’s Office.

This would be at least the fifth call between the two leaders since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

Israel has had an up-and-down relationship with Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24.

Zelensky reached out to Bennett early on, urging him to make use of Israel’s working relations with Kyiv and Moscow to mediate between the sides.

Bennett picked up the gauntlet, traveling to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin on the Jewish Sabbath, and holding several calls with Zelensky as well, but the efforts have yet to bear fruit.

Ukrainian officials have thanked Israel for its mediation attempts as well as for sending humanitarian aid to civilians fleeing the country, but Zelensky also criticized Bennett last week, saying he felt the premier was not “wrapped in our flag,” a reference to a photo showing an Israeli man wrapped in a Ukrainian flag at the Western Wall.

Kyiv’s ambassador to Tel Aviv has repeatedly lamented Israel’s refusal to send military protective gear for Ukrainian troops, let alone weaponry.

Chief of Cypriot military kicks off 1st visit to Israel

Chief of the Cypriot National Guard General Staff, Lieutenant General Demokritos Zervakis (L), and IDF Chief of the Staff, LTG Aviv Kohavi (R) are seen at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 8, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Chief of the Cypriot National Guard General Staff, Lieutenant General Demokritos Zervakis (L), and IDF Chief of the Staff, LTG Aviv Kohavi (R) are seen at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 8, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The chief of the Cypriot military, Demokritos Zervakis, begins his first visit to Israel after landing in the country yesterday.

After a ceremonial welcome by Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi, the two, and other senior military officials, sat down to discuss “shared security challenges in the Middle East,” the IDF says.

The “strategic-operational meeting” focused on “opportunities to expand cooperation between the two militaries,” according to the IDF.

Zervakis is expected to tour the northern border as well as an Iron Dome air defense system battery during his visit.

Ukraine envoy repeats plea for aid: Kyiv ‘believed’ Israel is a close friend and partner

Ukraine's ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, gives a statement to the media on the Russian invasion to the Ukraine, in Tel Aviv, March 7, 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, March 7, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

An emotional Ukrainian ambassador addresses the conference of the Institute for National Security Studies and says Kyiv “believed” Israel is a close friend and partner.

Yevgen Korniychuk is visibly upset as he speaks about the situation in the city of Kharkiv.

“Kharkiv is the second biggest city in Ukraine. Lots of the foreign students, including Israelis, who did not evacuate on time. People have been sleeping underground for the past two weeks,” he says.

“There is a shortage of food and pharmaceutical products,” he says.

“We are seeking international assistance in all possible spheres, including from Israel —  this country that we all believed is our close friend and partner,” he says.

 

Ukraine says 38 children killed, over 70 wounded since start of Russian invasion

Serhii, father of teenager Iliya, cries on his son's lifeless body lying on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 2, 2022. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Serhii, father of teenager Iliya, cries on his son's lifeless body lying on a stretcher at a maternity hospital converted into a medical ward in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 2, 2022. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)

KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov releases new estimates of casualties and damage from the Russian war, saying Russian military actions have killed 38 children and wounded more than 70.

Overall at least 400 civilian deaths have been recorded and 800 wounded, though “these data are definitely incomplete,” he says in a video address.

It was not immediately possible to verify the figures.

He says Russian strikes have destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospitals and 1,500 residential buildings.

He estimates some 10,000 foreign students, notably from India, China and the Persian Gulf are trapped by the fighting, and describes attacks on British and Swiss journalists.

He claims that Ukrainian forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops.

“Russian invaders fire on humanitarian corridors through which civilians are trying to escape,” he says, without saying where.

Russian officials did not comment and have only acknowledged several hundred deaths among Russian forces.

Bennett talks Iran deal, Ukraine with former US VP Pence

Former US vice president Mike Pence (L) and Prime Minister Naftali Bennet in Jerusalem, March 8, 2022 (Koby Gideon/GPO)
Former US vice president Mike Pence (L) and Prime Minister Naftali Bennet in Jerusalem, March 8, 2022 (Koby Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with former US vice president Mike Pence, the Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement.

“The two discussed the nuclear deal and its implications, as well as the situation in Ukraine,” according to the statement.

The majors powers involved in the talks surrounding a revived nuclear deal with Iran have said that an agreement is close. Pence has been a vocal critic in the past of any deal with Tehran.

Pence is on a three-day visit to Israel where he is meeting with officials.

The former VP is widely thought to be laying the groundwork ahead of seeking the Republican Party nomination for the 2024 election.

‘Is this where you can find out if a person is alive?’: Russians search for missing soldiers

CNN broadcasts what it says are audio of recordings of Russians who have phoned a Ukrainian hotline looking for relatives serving in the Russian army.

“Hello hotline, is this the place that you can find out if a person is alive?” one woman says.

In another exchange, the Russian relative apologizes for Moscow’s actions.

“Are you from Ukraine?” she asks the operator.

“Yes, I’m from Ukraine,” the operator says.

“I’m sorry! This is not our fault… I’m scared. They didn’t choose this,” she says.

There have been multiple reports that many of the Russian soldiers were not told they were heading for war in Ukraine or were told they would be welcomed by the civilian population there.

Ukraine has sought to undermine Russian public support for the invasion by opening a telephone hotline for Russian parents to find out if their sons are among the dead or captured.

The defense ministry has published telephone numbers and an email address to provide information about captured Russians, and said mothers will be invited to Kyiv to collect their missing sons.

The CNN report broadcasts recordings of some of the calls as desperate relatives search for their loved ones.

Satellite images show activity at North Korea nuclear site, 4 years after declared closure

A photo taken on May 24, 2018 shows a general view of a dust cloud surrounding the area near the entrance to a tunnel at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, during a demolition 'ceremony'. (AFP/ Dong-A Iibo / News1)
A photo taken on May 24, 2018 shows a general view of a dust cloud surrounding the area near the entrance to a tunnel at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, during a demolition 'ceremony'. (AFP/ Dong-A Iibo / News1)

SEOUL, South Korea — Commercial satellite images suggest a resumption of construction activity at North Korea’s nuclear testing ground nearly four years after leader Kim Jong Un declared the site’s closure and invited foreign journalists to observe the destruction of tunnels ahead of his first summit with then-US President Donald Trump.

Analysts say it’s unclear how long it would take North Korea to restore the site for nuclear detonations if it intends to do so. The site in Punggye-ri in the country’s northeast was used for its sixth and last nuclear test in 2017.

The sighting of construction activity at the site comes amid a deepening diplomatic freeze since the collapse of the second Kim-Trump meeting in February 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

North Korea has used the pause in talks to further expand its military capabilities, including nine rounds of missile launches in 2022 alone. The unusually fast pace indicates an intent to pressure the Biden administration, which has offered open-ended talks but shown no willingness to concede on sanctions.

Former US vice president Mike Pence arrives at Western Wall

Former US vice president Mike Pence arrives at Jerusalem’s Western Wall during his three-day visit to Israel.

Pence is thought to be laying the groundwork for a possible 2024 run for president.

The former VP is meeting with a number of Israeli officials. Earlier in the day he met with President Isaac Herzog, who thanked Pence for his “friendship and support and for always standing with Israel.”

While Pence allies believe that he can forge a coalition that brings together movement conservatives, white Evangelical Christians, and more establishment-minded Republicans, former US president Donald Trump’s attacks have made him deeply unpopular with large swaths of Trump’s loyal base, potentially complicating his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Ukraine accuses Russia of attacking civilians in Mariupol evacuation corridor

Ukraine accuses Russia of violating an evacuation corridor aimed at enabling civilians to leave the beleaguered southern port city of Mariupol.

“The enemy has launched an attack heading exactly at the humanitarian corridor,” the defense ministry says on Facebook, adding the Russian army “did not let children, women and elderly people leave the city.”

Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tells the BBC that Russian forces are attacking the corridor between Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia.

Nikolenko says eight trucks and 30 buses were taking humanitarian aid into Mariupol and the vehicles were then to be used to evacuate civilians from Mariupol back to Zaporizhzhia.

The evacuation corridor from Mariupol was announced hours after Ukraine said civilians would begin evacuating from the northeastern city of Sumy.

Ukraine has accused Russia of reneging on previous escape route agreements by bombarding them, or by only guaranteeing routes into Russia or Belarus.

Energy giant Shell to stop buying Russian oil, gas and shut down Russia operations

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo, a man pumps gasoline at a Shell gas station, in Westwood, Massachusetts (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo, a man pumps gasoline at a Shell gas station, in Westwood, Massachusetts (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

LONDON — Energy giant Shell says that it will stop buying Russian oil and natural gas and shut down its service stations, aviation fuels and other operations in the country amid international pressure for companies to sever ties over the invasion of Ukraine.

The company says in a statement that it will withdraw from all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas and liquefied natural gas, “in a phased manner.”

The decision comes just days after Ukraine’s foreign minister criticized Shell for continuing to buy Russian oil, lashing out at the company for continuing to do business with President Vladimir Putin’s government.

“We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel — despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking — was not the right one and we are sorry,” CEO Ben van Beurden says. “As we have already said, we will commit profits from the limited, remaining amounts of Russian oil we will process to a dedicated fund.”

Zelensky denounces West’s unkept ‘promises’ to protect Ukraine

Screen capture from video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking from his office at the presidential palace in embattled Kyiv, on March 8, 2022. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking from his office at the presidential palace in embattled Kyiv, on March 8, 2022. (Twitter)

President Volodymyr Zelensky denounces what he calls unkept “promises” by the West to protect Ukraine from Russian attacks.

“It’s been 13 days we’ve been hearing promises, 13 days we’ve been told we’ll be helped in the air, that there will be planes, that they will be delivered to us,” Zelensky says on a video broadcast on Telegram.

“But the responsibility for that rests also on those who were not capable to take a decision in the West for 13 days,” Zelensky adds.

“On those who have not secured the Ukrainian skies from the Russian assassins,” he says.

2 million refugees have fled Ukraine, UN says

A woman holds the hand of a child as she walks with others, who fled Ukraine, at the border crossing in Kroscienko, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A woman holds the hand of a child as she walks with others, who fled Ukraine, at the border crossing in Kroscienko, Poland, March 8, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

GENEVA — The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine reaches 2 million, according to the United Nations, the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II.

“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, writes on Twitter.

At a press conference earlier, Grandi said for comparison, the Balkan wars in Bosnia and Kosovo saw “maybe two to three million people, but over a period of eight years.”

While other parts of the “world have seen this,” Grandi added, “in Europe it’s the first time since the Second World War.”

In addition, an unknown number of people have been displaced within Ukraine’s borders.

The update comes as a new effort to evacuate civilians along safe corridors finally gets underway.

WHO: 16 attacks have affected health care in Ukraine since start of Russia invasion

People lie on the floor of a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
People lie on the floor of a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office says it has confirmed 16 attacks that have affected the provision of health care in Ukraine in the fighting since Russia’s invasion in the country began nearly two weeks ago.

Dr. Hans Kluge also tells reporters that Ukrainian health authorities have “remarkably” maintained COVID-19 surveillance and response since the invasion began on Feb. 24, though they reported 731 deaths related to the pandemic over the last week.

Kluge warns that “sadly, this number will increase as oxygen shortages continue” — with older people disproportionately affected. Treatment with oxygen is an important part of the response for people whose respiratory systems have been harmed by coronavirus infection.

The WHO Europe chief also says broken supply lines are harming the ability to treat conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and diabetes.

Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer for WHO Europe, says the attacks on health care in Ukraine have led to at least nine deaths and 16 injuries.

Israel is setting up a field hospital in Ukraine in the coming days. It has also sent generators for the hospital in Lviv.

Buses packed with people leave Sumy as evacuation gets underway

Evacuations begin from the northeastern city of Sumy along a so-called “green corridor.”

Buses packed with people fleeing the Russian invasion begin a procession along a snowy road out of the city, as a new effort to evacuate civilians along safe corridors finally gets underway.

The route out of the eastern city of Sumy is one of five promised by the Russians to offer civilians a way to escape the Russian onslaught.

Video posted by the Ukrainian state communications agency shows people with bags boarding buses, but it is not clear how long the effort will last.

Previous attempts to lead civilians to safety amid the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II have crumbled with renewed attacks.

“The Ukrainian city of Sumy was given a green corridor, the first stage of evacuation began,” the agency tweets.

Sumy is just 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russian border.

Just 9.4% of Israeli startups founded by women, report says

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women work on computers in the Comax software company office in the central city of Holon near Tel Aviv on April 17, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA )
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women work on computers in the Comax software company office in the central city of Holon near Tel Aviv on April 17, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA )

The Israel Innovation Authority releases a report to mark International Women’s Day that shows a low level of participation by women in Israel’s tech scene at all levels.

The authority says that women hold only 23 percent of jobs in development and cyber roles in the Israel Defense Forces and make up only 30.7% of students studying tech at universities.

In addition, only 9.4% of Israeli startups were founded by women, and only 16.5% of the heads of investment funds are women.

“In order to create change, there needs to be a concerted, joint effort by the high-tech industry and all relevant government stakeholders,” says Dror Bin, Israel Innovation Authority CEO. “This is the shared responsibility of all parties in the ecosystem.”

Bonei Zion Prize awarded to 7 immigrants from English-speaking countries

Josie Katz, Jan 30 2011 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Josie Katz, Jan 30 2011 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Seven immigrants to Israel from English-speaking countries are awarded the 2021 Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize for their contributions to the country.

Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, president of Ben Gurion University, is the honoree in the field of education; Dr. Jonathan Rieck, director of Emergency Medicine at Barzilai Medical Center gets the award in the field of science and medicine; the community and nonprofit prize goes to David Marcu, CEO of Israel Elwyn; Micha Odenheimer, founding director of Tevel B’Tzedek is awarded in the field of Global Impact; and singer and actress Josie Katz is awarded for her contribution to the world of culture and art.

In addition, a Lifetime Achievement Award is given to Rabbi Dr. Daniel Tropper for what is described as “his exemplary work over multiple decades in Jewish education.” The organization cites his work to establish the coexistence organization Gesher.

The Young Leadership Prize goes to to Michal Berman, founder of Tel Aviv Art Studio.

UN says Ukraine refugee tally to top 2 million by tomorrow

A woman tries to warm herself by a fire due to freezing cold temperatures, after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022 (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)
A woman tries to warm herself by a fire due to freezing cold temperatures, after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022 (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)

The head of the UN’s refugee agency says he expects the number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine to top two million in the next two days.

“I do think that we will pass the 2 million mark today or maybe at the latest tomorrow. So it doesn’t stop,” Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tells reporters in Oslo.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claims to launch 2nd satellite into space

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard launched a second satellite into space, the country’s state-run news agency reports, just as world powers await Tehran’s decision in negotiations over the country’s tattered nuclear deal.

The IRNA report does not identify where or when the launch took place.

However, it comes as Iran’s top diplomat at the monthslong talks suddenly flew home late Monday for consultations, a sign of the growing pressure on Tehran as the negotiations appear to be nearing their end.

The Guard says the Noor-2 satellite reached a low orbit on the Ghased satellite carrier, IRNA reports.

It describes the Ghased as a three-phase, mixed fuel satellite carrier.

Noor means “light” in Farsi. The Guard launched its first Noor satellite in 2020, revealing to the world it ran its own space program.

Ukraine FM apologizes for falsely accusing El Al of accepting ‘blood-soaked’ Russian money

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, pictured at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Korczowa, Poland on March 5, 2022. (OLIVIER DOULIERY / Pool / AFP)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, pictured at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Korczowa, Poland on March 5, 2022. (OLIVIER DOULIERY / Pool / AFP)

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba apologizes for falsely accusing Israel’s national airline of accepting payments on its website from Russia’s Mir network for international electronic funds, bypassing international sanctions on the country’s banking systems.

“Indeed, the ‘Mir’ payment button remained on the website, but the use of it was blocked. I am grateful to El Al for its important humanitarian operations and convey my apologies,” Kuleba tweets.

Kuleba had said Monday that El Al was making “money soaked in Ukrainian blood” by utilizing the Mir payment system.

The airline said in response that it had stopped accepting Mir payments on February 28 — four days after Russia’s widespread invasion of Ukraine commenced.

While not accepting payments via Mir, El Al is one of the few Western airlines still operating flights to Russia, drawing criticism.

The airline says it is operating flights at the request of the Israeli government and “will continue to get Israelis and Jews out of Russia so long as it is possible.”

Evacuation corridor to open from Sumy, Ukraine deputy PM says

An evacuation corridor will open from the northeastern Ukraine city of Suny, the deputy prime minister says in a televised address.

Iryna Vereshchuk says the first convoy will leave at 10 a.m. local time, and will be followed by residents in their own vehicles.

“No other routes were agreed,” she says, according to CNN. “We call on Russia to agree on these routes immediately and ensure a stable ceasefire on these routes.”

It is not clear where the convoy will head to.

Previous attempts at evacuation corridors have failed amid continued Russian shelling and rejection by Ukrainian authorities of routes that lead from Ukraine’s cities only to Russia or its key ally Belarus.

Sumy came under heavy bombardment overnight, with at least nine people killed including two children in what Ukrainian authorities described as an airstrike.

Ukraine says civilian death toll rises after overnight Russian bombardments

Illustrative -- A photograph taken on March 7, 2022 shows destruction following a shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
Illustrative -- A photograph taken on March 7, 2022 shows destruction following a shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

At least nine people, including two children, have died in an airstrike on the Ukrainian city of Sumy, some 350 kilometers east of Kiev, Ukrainian rescue services say.

“Enemy planes insidiously attacked apartment buildings” on Monday night, the rescue services say on Telegram after arriving on the scene at 11 pm.

Sumy, near the Russian border, has been the scene of heavy fighting for days.

According to the BBC, at least four civilians were additionally killed in Mykolaiv in the south of Ukraine, with a number of others injured.

Ukrainian authorities say there are also at least four dead in Kharkiv after Russian shelling started a fire in an apartment building, according to the British broadcaster.

In potential thaw amid Ukraine war, US holds talks with Venezuela over energy supplies

An activist member of opposition party Primero Justicia holds a placard showing the face of  Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a protest against the Russian invasion in Ukraine, in Caracas on March 4, 2022. ( Federico PARRA / AFP)
An activist member of opposition party Primero Justicia holds a placard showing the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a protest against the Russian invasion in Ukraine, in Caracas on March 4, 2022. ( Federico PARRA / AFP)

WASHINGTON — The White House says a US delegation held weekend talks in Venezuela with the government of President Nicolas Maduro that included a discussion of energy supplies — as Washington looks for ways to reduce its imports of Russian oil.

Venezuela’s opposition also says it met with the high-level US delegation, whose trip to Caracas — reported by multiple US media — came as Washington seeks to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Maduro, with whose regime the United States broke off relations in 2019, has been among the few international figures to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin of his “strong support” in the wake of the invasion.

“As it relates to Venezuela, the purpose of the trip that was taken by administration officials was to discuss a range of issues including certainly energy, energy security,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tells reporters.

Maduro confirmed the meeting in a televised appearance, describing it as “respectful, cordial and diplomatic” without going into detail about the issues addressed.

“We did it in the presidential office,” he says. “We had almost two hours talking.”

“It seemed very important to me to be able, face to face, to discuss topics of maximum interest to Venezuela,” he says.

IDF demolishes homes of 2 suspects in deadly West Bank shooting

Israeli security forces demolished overnight the West Bank homes of two suspects allegedly involved in a deadly shooting near the settlement of Homesh last December, the military says.

The Israel Defense Forces says in a statement that the home of suspect Muhammad Youssef Jaradat was demolished and the floor in an apartment building in which Ghaith Ahmed Yassin Jaradat lived was also destroyed.

The military says that rioting broke out during the demolitions, with suspects opening fire toward troops and throwing grenades. The IDF says soldiers returned fire.

There are no immediate reports of injuries.

According to the Shin Bet security agency, a cell belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group was behind the deadly shooting attack in which one man, Yehuda Dimentman, was killed and two others were lightly wounded.

As a punitive policy, Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks. Over the years, however, a number of Israeli defense officials have questioned the efficacy of the practice, and human rights activists have denounced it as unfair collective punishment.

Ukraine says Russian advance has ‘slowed significantly’

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces says that while the Russian offensive is continuing, it has “slowed significantly.”

“The occupiers are demoralized and increasingly turning to looting and violations of international humanitarian law on military conflicts,” the armed forces write in a post on Facebook.

The military lists a number of transgressions, including alleging that Russian troops have been committed acts of violence toward Ukrainian civilians, appropriated property and set up military positions in populated areas.

Ukraine also says Russia is using psychological warfare to spread propaganda among the population.

None of the claims can be immediately independently verified.

‘We can’t gather bodies due to heavy shelling, dogs are tearing them apart in street’

File -- People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Serhii Nuzhnenko)
File -- People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Serhii Nuzhnenko)

As a steady rain of shells and rockets falls on population centers surrounding Kyiv, the mayor of the suburb of Bucha reports artillery fire so heavy that residents are unable to gather the dead bodies from the streets.

“We can’t even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn’t stop day or night,” Mayor Anatol Fedoruk says.

“Dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets. It’s a nightmare,” he says.

The suburb has been under sustained attack for a number of days.

“On Friday morning, there was a Ukrainian flag over Bucha, and then the Russian teams started coming in,” says local resident Vitaliy Shichko.

The 47-year-old has one bandage over two bullet wounds to his left wrist and another over purple bruises on the left side of his face.

“At first, they seemed to be sending in people they weren’t afraid of losing,” Shichko says.

“But when I was hiding in the basement, the Russians who found us were serious, well-equipped, with torches and full communications –- basically, special forces.”

Police minister after Jerusalem attacks: Concerns of an escalation in coming weeks

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev attends a ceremony at the Israel Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem, September 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev attends a ceremony at the Israel Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem, September 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev says that while authorities do not believe there is an official link between the recent spate of attacks, there are concerns of an escalation in the coming weeks.

“We have not identified an organizational connection between the events, but the attacks may be inspired by one another. There are fears of an escalation following the month of Ramadan,” Barlev tells the Kan public broadcaster. “The police commissioner will increase forces in Jerusalem’s Old City.”

Two police officers were moderately hurt in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City last night, and a day earlier two policemen were wounded in a stabbing attack in the same area. The alleged Palestinian assailants in both the attacks were shot dead by troops on the scene.

Japanese automaker Nissan to halt production in Russia over ‘logistical challenges’

Illustrative -- Technicians make adjustments on Frontier trucks at Nissan's Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, Feb. 17, 2022, in Canton, Mississippi (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Illustrative -- Technicians make adjustments on Frontier trucks at Nissan's Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, Feb. 17, 2022, in Canton, Mississippi (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

TOKYO — Japanese automaker Nissan is planning to halt production at its plant in Russia because of “logistical challenges.”

Nissan Motor Co. did not provide a specific date but said Tuesday production will stop “soon.” Its plant in St. Petersburg produced 45,000 vehicles last year, including the X-Trail sport utility vehicle.

The Yokohama-based manufacturer said the safety of its employees is its top priority.

Nissan earlier stopped exports to Russia.

Russian bombs hit towns near Kyiv, oil depots as strikes intensify

Russian aircraft bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine overnight, Ukrainian officials say.

Shelling pounded suburbs of the capital, Kyiv. Bombs also hit oil depots in Zhytomyr and the neighboring town of Cherniakhiv, located west of Kyiv. The state emergency service shared video and pictures of massive fireballs as the depots burned.

Earlier, regional leader Dmytro Zhivitsky said bombs fell on residential buildings and destroyed a power plant in Sumy and Okhtyrka, east of Kyiv. He said there were dead and wounded but gave no figures.

The Ukrainian government is demanding the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow people to safely leave Sumy, Zhytomyr, Kharkiv, Mariupol and suburbs of Kyiv, including Bucha.

With Ukrainians trying to hold the assault at bay, Russia has engaged in more long-range attacks — a mix of bombardments, rocket launches, artillery strikes and more than 625 missiles — to make up for their lack of movement on the ground, the Pentagon said Monday.

Bombardments have increased around the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv in the north, and Mykolaiv and Mariupol in the south, and they “are having an increased effect on civilian casualties” and destroying homes, churches, hospitals and schools, spokesman John Kirby said.

“The bottom line is, more civilians are being killed and wounded,” he added.

Russian invasion caused over $10 billion in damage to roads, rails — Ukraine

Ukraine says Russia’s invasion has caused over $10 billion to transportation infrastructure alone, the semi-official Ukrinform reports.

Russian bombs have destroyed roads, bridges, runways, railways and more. Ukraine has also destroyed at least one bridge to slow Russia’s advance toward Kyiv.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov says he expects the world to chip in on rebuilding costs.

“Of course, this tragedy is not ours, this war is not ours – Ukraine protects the interests of the entire civilized world, we will also restore the country not alone,” he says, according to the report.

Top Iran nuclear negotiator flies home as talks finish line remains elusive

Iran’s top diplomat at monthslong talks aimed at restoring its tattered nuclear deal with world powers has flown home for a sudden trip, a sign of the growing pressure on Tehran as the negotiations appear to be nearing their end.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency describes Ali Bagheri Kani’s trip late Monday as being “within the framework of the usual consultations during the talks.”

Chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani arrives at the Coburg Palace, venue of the talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna, on February 8, 2022. (Alex Halada/AFP)

However, the top negotiator for the European Union seems to suggest whether the talks succeeded or failed now rested with the Islamic Republic.

“There are no longer ‘expert level talks.’ Nor ‘formal meetings,’” Enrique Mora wrote on Twitter, responding to comments by an Iranian analyst. “It is time, in the next few days, for political decisions to end the #ViennaTalks. The rest is noise.”

As Lviv swells with 200,000 refugees, mayor says city needs help

The mayor of Lviv says the city in far western Ukraine is struggling to feed and house the tens of thousands of people who have fled here from war-torn regions of the country.

“We really need support,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi says.

More than 200,000 Ukrainians displaced from their homes are now in Lviv, filling up sport halls, schools, hospitals and church buildings. The historical city once popular with tourists had a population of 700,000 before the war.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi in his office on March 2, 2022. (Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

Last week, Sadovyi told The Times of Israel that the city had prepared well to deal with the tens of thousands of refugees flowing through the city at that time, but would be stretched if the number of fleeing civilians that needed support reached 200,000.

The mayor says the city needs big tents equipped with kitchens so food can be prepared.

Hundreds of thousands more people could arrive if humanitarian corridors are opened up from cities now under siege from Russian troops.

People crowd as they try to get on a train to Lviv at the Kyiv station, Ukraine, March 4. 2022 (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

The embassies of the US, Israel and EU countries also moved to Lviv from Kyiv before the invasion.

Lviv is the main transit point for those fleeing just across the border to Poland. Many of the 1.7 million Ukrainians now abroad passed through the city. The United Nations has called the situation the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

ToI staff contributed.

Overnight bombing raids pummel Sumy region, Ukraine official says

A top local official in Sumy, Ukraine, says Russian planes have bombed residential areas of the northeastern city.

Sumy region leader Dmytro Zhyvytskyy says there are dead and wounded from the bombing, including children. He says several homes have been completely destroyed. He also announces that four soldiers were killed in the area from Russian shelling on Monday.

Zhyvytskyy shares two videos showing tangles of wreckage from the bombings, some of it still on fire.

Сумщина.Після 23 вечора7 березня 2022ворожі російські літаки почали бомбитижитлові квартали у Сумах та Охтирці.Знищили хати у селі Битиця. Інформація по вбитим та пораненим постійно оновлюється. ДСНС розбирають завали та гасять пожежі. Медики працюють. Рятуємо життя.Отак насправді виглядає "рускій мір"…Ми не пробачимо цього ніколи!На відео – кадри із житлового приватного сектору міста Суми, район вулиці Роменська.

Posted by Дмитро Живицький on Monday, March 7, 2022

Sumy, a city of some 200,000 near the Russian border, has been subjected to days of heavy bombardment, but Zhyvytskyy says the city remains in Ukrainian hands.

IAEA says second Ukraine nuclear site damaged in fighting, no radiation leak

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it has received reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv, but there was no “radiological consequence.”

The Vienna-based UN body says Ukrainian authorities reported an attack took place on Sunday, adding that no increase in radiation levels had been reported at the site.

Because the site’s “inventory of radioactive material is very low” and kept at a “subcritical” state, the IAEA says “the damage reported to it would not have had any radiological consequence.”

The facility is part of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, a research institute that produces radioactive material for medical and industrial applications.

Kharkiv has come under intense Russian shelling and missile attacks in recent days, as Moscow tries to step up pressure on Ukraine to surrender.

Ukraine to propose direct Zelensky-Putin talks

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says when he meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Turkey on Thursday, he will propose direct talks between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents.

“We want talks between the president of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin since he is the one who makes the final decisions,” Kuleba says early Tuesday on Ukrainian television.

President Volodymyr Zelensky often proposed direct talks with Putin in the runup to the war and said he called the Kremlin on the eve of the Russian invasion but got no reply. Putin has agreed to speak only with Western leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrive for a working session at the Elysee Palace, on December 9, 2019, in Paris. (Ian Langsdon/Pool via AP)

Kuleba spoke after a conversation late Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Grateful to the US for standing by Ukraine,” Kuleba said on Twitter. “We are coordinating intensively on crucial further steps to increase pressure on Russia.”

Ukraine envoy tells UN Russia blocking evacuations

Ukraine’s UN ambassador says 12 days of an all-out invasion by Russia has brought Ukraine to “the brink of humanitarian catastrophe of potentially global nature.”

Sergiy Kyslytsya, speaking Monday at a UN Security Council meeting on the crisis, accused Russia of blocking numerous attempts by Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians through humanitarian corridors.

He said Russians shelled depots with evacuation buses near Mariupol and blew up the railway near Irpin in the Kyiv region to prevent evacuation by train. He said Russia bombed and launched missiles at those cities and others like Kharkiv on Monday.

Kyslytsya said Russia must stop violating cease-fire arrangements and allow safe passage through humanitarian corridors, end disinformation, and implement the UN General Assembly’s resolution calling for an immediate stop to fighting.

Ukraine as a major wheat producer has been “one of the guarantors of global food security” but this has been challenged by the war and “the implications at the global level will be catastrophic,” he said.

Kyslytsya said Russian shelling had destroyed schools and hospitals and killed and wounded doctors. He said and the country was running low on critical medical supplies. He urged UN humanitarian agencies to respond quickly.

Moscow says evacuation routes will not only lead to Russia or Belarus

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia says Russia will carry out a cease-fire on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Moscow time and open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens from Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy and Mariupol.

He took the floor at the end of a UN Security Council meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine on Monday to make the announcement.

“This proposal doesn’t have any demands about the citizens being sent necessarily to Russia, into Russian territory,” he says.

Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia, permanent United Nations representative of the Russian Federation, speaks during a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine at UN headquarters on March 7, 2022 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

“There’s also evacuation offered toward Ukrainian cities to the west of Kyiv, and ultimately it will be the choice of the people themselves where they want to be evacuated to,” Nebenzia said.

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