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Ukraine says Russia making escape impossible after new evacuation corridors offered

In defiant message from office, Zelensky accuses Moscow of cynically offering safe passage into Russia while continuing to attack civilians, mine aid supply routes

  • A Ukrainian police officer runs while holding a child as the artillery echoes nearby, while fleeing Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)
    A Ukrainian police officer runs while holding a child as the artillery echoes nearby, while fleeing Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP/Emilio Morenatti)
  • A resident looks out of the destroyed front of a room in a multi-story building that was badly damaged as a result of Russian missile explosion after it was shot down over the city by Ukrainian air defense on March 6, in Kramatorsk on March 7, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov / AFP)
    A resident looks out of the destroyed front of a room in a multi-story building that was badly damaged as a result of Russian missile explosion after it was shot down over the city by Ukrainian air defense on March 6, in Kramatorsk on March 7, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov / AFP)
  • Ukraine's negotiation team (left) meets with the Russian delegation for talks in Belarus, close to the Polish-Belarusian border, March 7, 2022. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
    Ukraine's negotiation team (left) meets with the Russian delegation for talks in Belarus, close to the Polish-Belarusian border, March 7, 2022. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
  • A Ukrainian serviceman guards a checkpoint on a main road in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)
    A Ukrainian serviceman guards a checkpoint on a main road in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)
  • People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
    People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
  • A woman cries as she flees the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
    A woman cries as she flees the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Riga, Latvia, on March 7, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP)
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Riga, Latvia, on March 7, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP)
  • Hundreds of refugees stand in line as they wait to be transferred after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022 (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)
    Hundreds of refugees stand in line as they wait to be transferred after crossing the Ukrainian border into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022 (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)
  • Ukrainian soldiers help an elderly woman to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
    Ukrainian soldiers help an elderly woman to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
  • A Ukrainian serviceman has "Mommy" written on his weapon strap as he stands guard at a checkpoint on a main road in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)
    A Ukrainian serviceman has "Mommy" written on his weapon strap as he stands guard at a checkpoint on a main road in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking at a virtual meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on March 7, 2022. (Screen capture via JTA)
    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking at a virtual meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on March 7, 2022. (Screen capture via JTA)
  • A woman covers herself with a blanket to keep warm after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    A woman covers herself with a blanket to keep warm after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • A woman takes a rest after crossing a destroyed bridge as she evacuates from the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
    A woman takes a rest after crossing a destroyed bridge as she evacuates from the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

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

Zelensky accuses Russians of mining aid supply routes

More from Zelensky’s late-night address:

Zelensky says that instead of an agreement on humanitarian corridors, what Ukraine got on Monday was “Russian tanks, Russian Grad rockets, Russian mines.”

“They even mined the roads that were the agreed routes for taking food and medicine to the people, to the children, of Mariupol,” Zelensky says in what has become a daily video address close to midnight.

During talks on Monday, the Russians proposed evacuation routes leading to Russia and its ally Belarus, rather than to areas of western Ukraine that remain peaceful.

“It’s just cynicism,” Zelensky says. By opening a small corridor to Russia, he says, Moscow is looking only for a propaganda victory.

He says that on the 12th day of the war, the Ukrainian army is counter attacking and inflicting extremely painful losses on the enemy.

“Battles are underway in the center, in the north and in the south of country – Mariupol and Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Sumy, Odesa and Kyiv, Mykolaiv and Zhytomyr.”

Ukraine claims senior Russian general killed in Kharkiv

Ukraine is claiming to have killed a top Russian general during fighting in Kharkiv Monday.

According to Kyiv’s Defense Intelligence Directorate, Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov was killed, along with a number of other officers.

Gerasimov was a first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st Army, and previously fought in Chechnya and Crimea, Ukraine said.

The intel directorate also claimed to have intercepted FSB conversations, and claimed Russians in the area were having issues with communications infrastructure.

Reports swirled last week that Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, another top officer in the 41st Army, had been killed in the fighting.

US envoy presses Russia to honor humanitarian passageways

The US ambassador to the United Nations is calling on Russia to honor Ukraine’s proposals “for time-bound humanitarian safe passage in specific, agreed upon locations” and unequivocally commit to immediate humanitarian access in the country.

At a UN Security Council meeting on the escalating humanitarian crisis in the country, Linda Thomas-Greenfield also called for the establishment of a system on the ground to facilitate the safe movement of aid convoys and flights so food, medicine and other supplies can get into Ukraine to reach those most in need.

The US envoy urged countries that have pledged over $1.5 billion in humanitarian support for Ukraine to quickly turn the pledges into funds, saying “as long as Russia pursues its relentless and brutal campaign, the need for assistance will only increase.”

Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin “has a plan to brutalize Ukraine” and the last two weeks have shown that “the Ukrainian people are not going to give up.”

Thomas-Greenfield said the United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, “but president Putin is clearly willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of Russian soldiers to achieve his personal ambition.”

Congress agrees on Russian oil ban — Senate aide

Top officials in the US Congress reached agreement Monday on legislation that would ban Russian oil imports to the US and end Russia’s permanent normal trade relation status in response to the intensifying war in Ukraine.

That’s according to a Senate aide granted anonymity to discuss the private deliberations in Congress.

Voting could come swiftly but no schedule has been set.

The White House has been reluctant to ban Russian oil imports as gas prices at the pump spike for Americans, but has not ruled out the option.

Ending the normal trade relation status could result in steep tariffs on other Russian imports.

Zelensky defiantly reveals he is at his Kyiv office, ‘not hiding’

Ukrainian President Vlaodomyr Zelensky has released a new middle-of-the-night video, rallying his people and decrying Russian shelling of civilian areas.

Zelensky starts the video by aiming his phone out of the window, defiantly proving he is at his office in Kyiv, and not hiding.

“I’m not afraid of anyone. For as long as it takes to win this war,” he says, according to a Sky News translation.

He says negotiations with Russia are ongoing, but vows they will be pushed out and the damage rebuilt.

“You are not retreating. We are not retreating,” he says, describing the “nightmare” that the Ukrainian resistance has brought upon Moscow.

“”We will rebuild everything. We will make our cities that the occupier destroyed better than any city in Russia.”

But he also lashes out at the Russians for what he describes as inhuman bombing campaigns, include on strike that destroyed a bread factory, killing several people, according to Ukraine, and bomb damage to a church.

“They shot up a bread factory. Why? An old bread factory,” he says. “Who do you have to be to do such a thing?”

“And to destroy another church in Zhytomyr oblast, the Church of the Blessed Virgin built in 1862. These are not people,” he adds.

Russia announces plans for humanitarian corridors in Ukraine on Tuesday

Russia says it will open humanitarian corridors tomorrow to allow civilians to evacuate from several Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv and the port city of Mariupol, Russian news agencies report.

“From 10:00 MSK (0700 GMT) on March 8, 2022 the Russian Federation is declaring a ‘regime of silence’ and is ready to provide humanitarian corridors,” says a department of the Russian defense ministry charged with humanitarian operations in Ukraine.

It lists evacuation routes from Kyiv as well as Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy — all of which have been under heavy Russian attacks in recent days.

The defense ministry department says the Ukrainian authorities have so far been “unable to ensure the functioning of humanitarian corridors,” noting that the situation in many Ukrainian cities “has deteriorated rapidly and has acquired the character of a humanitarian disaster.”

According to Moscow, the new evacuation routes will be communicated to the Ukraine authorities.

UN calls for safe aid delivery to Ukraine combat zones

The United Nations needs safe passage to deliver humanitarian aid to conflict zones in Ukraine, a senior official with the organization tells the Security Council.

“Civilians in places like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Melitopol, and elsewhere desperately need aid, especially life-saving medical supplies,” undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths tells an emergency meeting on the disaster sparked by Russia’s invasion.

“Many modalities are possible, but it must take place in line with the parties’ obligations under the laws of war,” he adds.

The meeting comes as Ukraine and Russia seek an agreement on creating “humanitarian corridors” out of pummeled cities, as the civilian toll from the Russian assault mounts.

Ukrainian police officers patrol a street following a shelling in Ukraine’s second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 7, 2022. (Sergey Bobok/AFP)

US says it’s ‘getting closer’ to a revived nuclear deal with Iran

The United States is “getting closer” to reaching a new nuclear deal with Iran, White House press secretary Jen Psaki says.

Speaking to reporters during a daily press briefing, Psaki notes that there are “important components” that both sides have yet to agree on.

She dismisses questions regarding the possibility of US sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine hindering talks in Vienna, saying both Moscow and Washington share a common goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Two Border Police officers lightly hurt in suspected West Bank ramming

Police say two Border Police officers have been lightly hurt in a suspected ramming in the West Bank town of Silat al-Harithiya.

According to police, a vehicle accelerated toward troops in an armored vehicle at high speed and collided with it, injuring the two.

The two officers were taken for further medical treatment at their base, police say.

The driver of the vehicle has been arrested, and he has been taken for further questioning.

The incident comes amid clashes in the area, as troops enter the town to demolish the home of a suspect charged in a deadly shooting attack near Homesh last December, according to Palestinian media reports.

The remains of a car that rammed a Border Police vehicle in the West Bank town of Silat al-Harithiya, March 7, 2022 (Israel Police)

Hamas says Jerusalem stabber was group member

The Hamas terror group claims as its member the Palestinian attacker who stabbed two Israeli officers in Jerusalem’s Old City earlier tonight.

“Hamas mourns its son, the martyr Abd al-Rahman Jamal Qasim from al-Jalazone camp north of Ramallah,” Hamas says in a statement circulated in the group’s official media.

Qasim, 22, attacked two officers near a gateway leading to the Temple Mount holy site, wounding two policemen. He was shot dead at the scene.

“Struggle leads either to victory or to martyrdom,” the statement concludes, repeating a slogan often used by the terror group.

In appeal to US Jewish leaders, Zelensky calls Russian invasion ‘pure Nazism’

In an emotional call with American Jewish leaders, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky characterizes the Russian invasion of his country as “pure Nazism.”

Zelensky also invokes his Jewishness in an appeal for assistance while speaking via Zoom with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

On the call, Zelensky angrily rejects claims by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia launched the war to “denazify” Ukraine, saying that it is the Russians who are acting like Nazis.

“This is just pure Nazism,” Zelensky says of the indiscriminate Russian attacks that have killed civilians. “He’s just destroying the citizens of Ukraine of different nationalities. This is just pure Nazi behavior. I can’t even qualify this in any different manner.”

He also decries Putin’s demand that Ukraine concede totally, and likens what is happening to the start of the Nazi Holocaust.

“For some reason, we have to kneel down and give our weapons away. We have to hoist the Russian flag. We are supposed to say that we don’t want anything, (that) we want to put our hands up,” Zelensky says. “Listen, all of this already happened. In Europe. All of this happened during Nazi times when the German army rolled through Europe and everyone gave the Jewish people away.”

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

‘No decision’ yet from Biden on Russian oil ban, White House says

US President Joe Biden has made no decision at this stage on a possible ban on imports of Russian oil and gas in response to the invasion of Ukraine, the White House says.

“No decision has been made at this point,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tells reporters.

She says the question was raised during Biden’s talks with the leaders of Germany, France, and Britain, while adding: “We have different capacities and capabilities.”

US President Joe Biden speaks about Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, February 18, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Reports: Israel to scrap NIS 10,000 deposit demand for Ukrainian refugees

Israel’s controversial demand that Ukrainian refugees deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,000) upon arrival in the country — to ensure they eventually leave — is set to be scrapped, according to Hebrew media reports.

The new policy has been reported by Channel 12 and Haaretz.

Haaretz says a quota will be introduced for the number of Ukrainian refugees who do not have the right to immigrate.

Russian official warns ban on oil imports would be ‘catastrophic’ for world markets

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warns about the consequences of a ban on Russian oil imports, as Western allies consider further sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine.

“A ban on Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market. The surge in prices will be unpredictable — more than $300 per barrel, if not more,” Novak says in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

Motorists queue at a petrol station to fill up with fuel before midnight in Zagreb, on March 7, 2022. Due to the war in Ukraine, fuel prices have started to soar. (DENIS LOVROVIC / AFP)

US, France, Germany, Britain vow to further raise ‘costs’ on Russia

The leaders of the United States, France, Germany, and Britain vow to further punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the White House says after video teleconference talks.

Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz, and Boris Johnson “affirmed their determination to continue raising the costs on Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” a US statement says.

Police arrest 6 Palestinians for hurling stones, Molotov cocktails at West Bank base

Police say officers arrested six Palestinians for hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at a Border Police base in the West Bank town of Abu Dis, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Around 100 Palestinians rioted in the area, and Border Police officers responded with crowd dispersal means, police say.

The six suspects are residents of the area, and have been taken for further questioning.

Last night, a 16-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops after allegedly hurling firebombs at a military post near the town.

Kyiv says some ‘positive results’ at talks; Russia: Expectations ‘not fulfilled’

Russia and Ukraine’s delegations have ended a third round of conflict talks.

A Ukrainian negotiator says the talks brought some progress on opening up humanitarian corridors.

“We have achieved some positive results concerning the logistics of humanitarian corridors,” Kyiv’s presidential advisor Mikhailo Podolyak tweets.

But Russia’s lead negotiator says the talks did not meet expectations.

“Our expectations from negotiations were not fulfilled. We hope that next time we will be able to take a more significant step forward,” Russian delegation head Vladimir Medinsky says in televised remarks.

Ukraine’s negotiation team (left) meets with the Russian delegation for talks in Belarus, close to the Polish-Belarusian border, March 7, 2022. (Maxim Guchek/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

Report: Government told of 14,000 Russian aliyah requests — number actually 1,400

A government body erroneously told the prime minister that there had been a huge jump in Russian Jews’ requests to make aliyah, Walla news reports.

A representative for Nativ, the liaison organization to Jews in the former Soviet Union, told ministers there had been 14,000 such requests since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 — but the number was actually 1,400.

The report says Naftali Bennett was amazed by the supposed number and told Nativ to immediately call up as many employees as possible to handle the influx (all of 2021 saw some 7,000 immigrants from Russia).

But Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked was doubtful of the figure and asked to double-check. Nativ later apologized, saying the number was in fact 1,400 — still a relatively high number for such a short period, but far below the initial figure.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, October 31, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Lapid: Ukraine war shows Israel cannot count on anyone else to defend it

More from Lapid after his meeting with Blinken: The foreign minister says the latest events in Ukraine are a reminder that Israel can count on no one else to defend it.

Ukraine has called for military assistance during Russia’s invasion. Though the world is supplying it with humanitarian and military aid, nations have repeatedly refused to intervene militarily, including enforcing a no-fly zone over Ukraine to limit Russia’s ability to operate in the skies.

Noting that Israel reserves the right to act militarily against Iran’s nuclear program, Lapid says: “This war is a reminder to Israel. We have friends, we have allies, but our security must always be in our hands only.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) meets with US Secretary of State in Riga, Latvia on March 7, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/ Pool/AFP)

Report: Russia tells Israel it’s ‘very disappointed’ by UN vote condemning invasion

Russia’s embassy to Israel has expressed Moscow’s disappointment with Israel’s condemnation of Russia at the United Nations to the Foreign Ministry, Channel 13 reports.

In a missive sent in recent days, the embassy said Russia was “very disappointed by your position at the UN,” the report says.

Israel last week voted in support of a UN resolution condemning the Russian invasion and demanding an end to its attack on Ukraine.

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

Lapid: No justification for violation of Ukrainian sovereignty

At the end of his meeting with Antony Blinken, Yair Lapid says, “There is no justification for the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and the killing of innocent civilians.”

He calls for humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave cities under attack, and “for an immediate ceasefire that will allow negotiations to bring back peace.”

El Al says Ukraine FM’s claim it is bypassing sanctions is false, ‘unfortunate’

El Al denies the Ukrainian foreign minister’s claim that it is allowing payments with Russia’s Mir system, thus bypassing international sanctions. It calls FM Dmytro Kuleba’s tweet “misleading” and says it halted payments through Mir on February 28.

“It is unfortunate that a simple check was not done with us before the misleading tweet, as the facts are entirely different,” the airline says.

It also notes that it has carried out flights of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as well as helping get refugees to Israel.

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

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

At least 13 said killed in shelling on Ukrainian industrial bakery

At least 13 people were killed when shelling hit an industrial bakery in Makariv, around 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Ukrainian rescue services say.

Rescuers posted a message on Telegram saying around 30 people were within the area of the bakery at the moment of the shelling. The message was deleted shortly afterward, with no further details provided.

Jerusalem to place packaging recycling bins throughout capital

A Jerusalem municipality spokesman says that the city will soon start placing orange recycling bins across the capital, in a move that will bring it into line with 93 other local authorities serving some 4.5 million Israelis.

The orange bins are for packaging waste, which includes such items as shampoo bottles, cartons, tin cans, and plastic bags.

The city has long resisted the orange containers because, unlike other municipalities, it set up a waste sorting facility some years ago. The business deal signed with that facility, Greenet, in Atarot in northern Jerusalem, has allowed Greenet to sort potentially recyclable items out from the general trash and sell them.

Meeting Lapid, Blinken says US ‘very much appreciates’ mediation effort to end war

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

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Latvia. Blinken says the Americans “very much appreciate all of your engagements in the effort to stop this Russian aggression in Ukraine,” in the wake of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Moscow and meeting with Vladimir Putin.

“We very much appreciate the efforts that any of our close partners and present allies can make to see if there’s any opening to end the war,” Blinken adds.

“I look forward to hearing your ideas, hearing about some of the engagements that Israel has had.”

Lapid, in his statement, says Israel “is totally committed to doing everything possible to stop the war in Ukraine. We have condemned the Russian invasion and we still do, and Israel is a partner in the global effort to make sure and clarify that this war must be stopped.

“The way to stop a war is to negotiate. Israel is speaking with both sides, both with Russia and Ukraine and we are working in full coordination with our greatest ally the United States and our European partners.”

EU agrees to start examining Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova requests

EU nations agree to start the lengthy process of examining membership bids submitted by Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova in the wake of Russia’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbor, diplomats say.

The ex-Soviet states last week rushed in highly symbolic applications to join the bloc after the Kremlin launched its attack on Ukraine.

The move by the 27 member states is the first step in the bloc’s notoriously complex process for deciding whether to allow new members to join, which can drag on for years.

EU ambassadors agree to ask the bloc’s executive to present an “opinion” on the applications from the three countries, say French officials, who hold the EU’s rotating presidency.

The executive can take years to render its opinion and after that the member states have to agree unanimously to let the applicant formally become a “candidate.”

Ukraine’s FM: El Al immorally taking Russian money ‘soaked in Ukrainian blood’

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 blasts Israeli national airline El Al for accepting payments on its website from Russia’s Mir electronic fund transfer system, calling it “money soaked in Ukrainian blood.”

“While the world sanctions Russia for its barbaric atrocities in Ukraine, some prefer to make money soaked in Ukrainian blood,” Kuleba tweets.

“Here is @EL_AL_ISRAEL accepting payments in Russian banking system ‘Mir’ designed to evade sanctions.”

Kuleba adds that the move is “immoral and a blow to Ukrainian-Israeli relations.”

 

China calls Russia its chief ‘strategic partner’ despite war

China’s foreign minister calls Russia his country’s “most important strategic partner” as Beijing continues to refuse to condemn the invasion of Ukraine despite growing pressure from the US and European Union to use its influence to rein Moscow in.

Wang Yi says Chinese ties with Moscow constitute “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world.”

China has broken with the US, Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has said sanctions create new issues and threaten a political settlement of the conflict.

“No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era,” Wang says at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial parliament.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a remote video press conference held on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Monday, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

Two people stabbed near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; attacker neutralized

Two policemen have been stabbed near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City, medics and police say.

According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, the two, in their 20s, are moderately hurt.

The Zaka rescue service says the alleged Palestinian assailant was subdued.

Medics at the scene of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, March 7, 2022 (MDA)

Iran seeks ‘details’ of Russian demands on nuclear deal

Iran says it is awaiting “details” of Russia’s demands for US guarantees on restoring Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but blames Washington for talks dragging on.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that, before backing the Iran nuclear deal, Moscow wants written assurances from Washington that Western sanctions imposed on it over the Ukraine war will not affect its economic and military cooperation with Tehran.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dismissed these demands as “irrelevant.” Sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine “have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal,” he said on CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says “we have also seen and heard Mr Lavrov’s remarks in the media.

“We are waiting to hear the details of that through diplomatic channels,” he adds during his weekly news conference.

“Iran’s peaceful nuclear cooperation should not be affected or restricted by any sanctions, including Iran’s peaceful nuclear cooperation with Russia” and other countries, he says.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during an interview, November 2020 (video screenshot)

Five million Ukrainian refugees could flee to Europe: Borrell

Europe could see the entry of five million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their country if the assault continues, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says.

“If the indiscriminate bombardments of cities continues, we can expect five million exiles,” Borrell says after an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Mediterranean city of Montpellier.

Ukraine, with a population of nearly 44 million, has seen over 1.7 million people flee since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, according to the latest data from the United Nations.

More than half have gone to Poland, while others have crossed into Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks during a media conference in Brussels, June 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

Delegations from Russia, Ukraine start third round of conflict talks

Pedestrians walk past a destroyed car following a shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 7, 2022 (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)
Pedestrians walk past a destroyed car following a shelling in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 7, 2022 (Sergey BOBOK / AFP)

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials on the conflict in Ukraine have started on the Belarus-Poland border, Belarusian news agency Belta says.

Belta posted a photo of the Russian and Ukrainian representatives on Telegram, saying “humanitarian corridors to evacuate” the civilian population in Ukraine were on the agenda for the talks.

Blinken says he’ll ‘compare notes’ with Lapid on Putin efforts

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he will meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tonight and “compare notes” in wake of the Israeli efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. They will meet in Riga, Latvia.

Over the weekend Israel’s prime minister shuttled between Moscow and Berlin in a surprise trip as part of efforts to find a way out of the conflict.

“With regard to meetings, I’m not going to get ahead of them. I’ll let them more or less speak for themselves, once I’ve had a chance to actually compare notes with my friend Yair Lapid later this evening here… There’s certainly no change in our message to Moscow, our message to Russia, to President Putin: End the war. End it now.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gestures as he speaks during a press conference with Moldova’s president at he Presidential Palace in Chisinau, on March 6, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP)

IDF believes Iran seeks to arm its proxies in region with hundreds of UAVs

The Israeli military publishes fresh details on Tehran’s drone program, including new footage of it downing several Iranian aircraft.

Yesterday the Israel Defense Forces announced that its F-35 jets downed two Iranian drones ferrying firearms on March 15, 2021. The military believes the drones were heading to terror operatives in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, based on their flight path.

The IDF also publishes an image showing one of the aircraft was carrying several pistols, destined for terror groups.

In this handout image published by the Israel Defense Forces on March 7, 2022, the remains of an Iranian drone with a payload of firearms is seen on March 15, 2021. (IDF)

The military identifies those UAVs as Iranian “Shahed-197” models.

Military officials say Iran’s “UAV terror” is a new and global issue, charging Tehran with directly attacking both military and civilian targets in the Middle East.

The IDF believes Iran is attempting to arm its proxies in the region — in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen — with hundreds or even thousands of UAVs, in addition to military training.

While Israel has acknowledged it targets the bases of Iranian forces and allied terror groups in Syria, as well as arms shipments believed to be bound for Iran-backed groups in the region, The Times of Israel has learned several of those strikes specifically targeted sites related to Iran’s drone program.

Children from Russian cancer hospice form letter Z in support of war

Young children from a cancer hospice in Russia have been lined up to form the letter Z, in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The photo was the idea of the hospice manager, Vladimir Vavilov, who told Russia’s Kommersant: “People lined up in the shape of the letter Z. In our left hand we held leaflets with the flags of the [Ukrainian separatist republics] LNR, DNR, Russia and Tatarstan, and we clenched our right into a fist. Everything went well. A quadrocopter was involved in the filming, and journalists from the federal channel also arrived.”

The letter “Z,” often seen painted on Russian vehicles during the assault, has come to be seen as a pro-war symbol. Some have speculated it comes from the Russian expression “Za pobedy” — for victory.

Phones of former ministry heads were hacked by foreign state, not police – report

An Israeli cybersecurity company has examined the phones of three former ministry directors-general suspected of being the targets of a spyware attack and found they were hacked by a foreign state, according to a Sunday report.

ZecOps, which specializes in phone hacking, examined the devices of Shai Babad, the former director-general of the Finance Ministry; Keren Terner Eyal, also a former director-general of that ministry as well as of the Transportation Ministry; and Emi Palmor, a former director-general of the Justice Ministry, Channel 13 news reports.

The examination was launched after the three ministerial directors were named in a series of bombshell reports by the Calcalist newspaper in January as alleged targets of Israel Police spyware attacks.

According to the Channel 13 report, ZecOps confirmed that Babad, Terner Eyal and Palmor were never targeted by the police and were not hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The private firm could not specify which foreign entity targeted them.

Shai Babad, then-director general of the Finance Minister, attends a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, on December 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kremlin: Russia would halt attack ‘in a moment’ if Ukraine agrees to 3 conditions

Russia would halt its invasion of Ukraine “in a moment” if Kyiv agrees to three conditions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, according to Reuters.

Peskov says Ukraine must cease all military action; ensure it remains a neutral country, including through changes to its constitution; and recognize Crimea as Russia and the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent.

Israel critics see double standard in treatment of Moscow vs. Jerusalem

Sarah Leah Whitson, the former chief of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, accuses Washington of a double standard in okaying severe punishment against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, while opposing sanctions against Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

“We see that not just the US government but US companies are falling over themselves to sanction and boycott anything that has an association with the Russian government,” she is quoted by The Guardian as saying.

“Contrast that with the exact opposite when it comes to sanctioning Israel for its violations of international law to the point where American states are passing laws to punish Americans unless they promise never to boycott Israel. It’s very clear that the grounds for resisting sanctions on Israel, or even compliance with international law, is purely political.”

British Labour MP Julie Elliott makes similar comments to parliament: “The Palestinians are looking to us to speak and act in the same terms. We sanctioned Russia over Crimea, and we are now likely to impose more sanctions, with which I wholeheartedly agree, yet Palestinians ask why we do nothing to end Israel’s occupation.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, pushes back. He says the Mideast conflict is “a dispute over territory by two peoples who both have historic claims and connections.

“To compare this complexity to Russia’s brute use of force against the sovereign & peaceful nation of Ukraine is to intentionally misrepresent the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is deeply insensitive to the security and humanitarian crisis confronting Ukrainians today.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 2, 2017. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Biden to hold call today with leaders of France, Germany, Britain

US President Joe Biden is to hold a video teleconference later with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain to discuss “the latest developments regarding Russia and Ukraine,” the White House says.

The call with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take place at 5:30 p.m. Israel time (1530 GMT).

It comes as frantic diplomatic efforts to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continue, and after another night of shelling raised more fears of civilian casualties.

Kyiv and Western leaders have been demanding Russian leader Vladimir Putin end his invasion and allow safe passage for civilians out of the country. The United Nations says more than 1.7 million people have already fled.

President Joe Biden listens during an event in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

EU says will review Ukraine’s membership request in coming days

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, says the European Union will discuss Ukraine’s request to join in the coming days.

On Twitter, Michel writes: “The EU’s solidarity, friendship and unprecedented assistance for #Ukraine are unwavering.

“We will discuss Ukraine’s membership application in coming days.”

Macron condemns Putin’s ‘moral cynicism’ over ‘hypocritical’ Ukraine corridors to Russia

Evacuees flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)
Evacuees flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022 (Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron accuses his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy and cynicism after Moscow said it would open humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several Ukrainian cities, but only to Russia or Belarus.

“All this is not serious, it is moral and political cynicism, which I find intolerable,” Macron tells LCI television in an interview.

He adds that promises to protect civilians only so that they could flee toward Russia were “hypocritical.”

“I do not know many Ukrainians who want to go to Russia,” he adds, saying that full ceasefires to protect civilians were needed rather than corridors.

Moscow announced the proposed escape routes from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy after Putin and Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday, saying the move was taken after a “personal request” by Macron.

But the Elysee Palace said no such request was made and Macron accused Moscow of a “PR stunt” with its announcement.

Disgraced former finance minister Avraham Hirschson dies at 81

Avraham Hirchson at the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 24 2008 (Michal Fattal/Flash90)
Avraham Hirchson at the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 24 2008 (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

Former finance minister Avraham Hirschson dies at 81, Hebrew-language media reports.

Hirschson served as a member of the Knesset for both the Likud and Kadima parties.

In 2009 he was convicted of a string of crimes including aggravated fraud, theft, breach of trust, money laundering, and forgery of corporate documents after embezzling millions from a union he used to run.

He sentenced to five and a half years behind bars along with a NIS 450,000 fine. A parole board granted him early release for good behavior in 2012 and he left jail in 2013.

Mixed signals from Poland over whether it will supply warplanes to Ukraine

WARSAW, Poland — Polish government officials say that Poland has not sent, and will not send, its fighter jets to Ukraine to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia.

A deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, says in an interview on Radio Zet: “We will not open our airports and Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine … Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine.”

But separately the government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, indicates a final decision had not been made. He says that a decision on whether to send fighter jets presents risks and is a “very delicate matter.”

The comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky begged the United States to help Kyiv get more warplanes to fight Russia’s invasion and retain control of its airspace.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss.

Poland has been less than enthusiastic about the idea, at least publicly, largely because Russia has warned that supporting Ukraine’s air force would be seen in Moscow as participating in the conflict and could create a risk of retaliation.

UN says Ukraine refugee tally passes 1.7 million, half of them children

People carry evacuated dogs after crossing the Ukrainian borders into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022 (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)
People carry evacuated dogs after crossing the Ukrainian borders into Poland, at the Medyka border crossing in Poland, on March 7, 2022 (Louisa GOULIAMAKI / AFP)

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, records 1,735,068 refugees on its dedicated website, just over 200,000 more than the previous count on Sunday.

UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, believes around half of them are youngsters.

Authorities and the UN expect the flow to intensify as the Russian army advances deeper into Ukraine, particularly as it approaches the capital, Kyiv.

More than 37 million people lived in Ukraine before last week’s invasion.

“The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” UNHCR says.

The agency projects that as the conflict unfolds, “an estimated four million people may flee Ukraine,” noting that many people were also displaced from their homes within the country.

Netanyahu charges government showing ‘weakness’ in face of upcoming Iran deal

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at his party's faction meeting in the Knesset, February 28, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at his party's faction meeting in the Knesset, February 28, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu slams the government for its purported “silence” in the face of the Iran nuclear talks that are said to be nearing their conclusion in Vienna.

“In the Bennett-Gantz-Lapid government there is only weakness, weakness and more weakness,” claims Netanyahu in a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.

In an implied criticism of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s involvement in potentially brokering Ukraine-Russia talks, Netanyahu says that the burgeoning Iran deal is “what the government must be dealing with now.”

Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz “are simply not ready to confront even our allies,” he says.

“The silence of Israel during these days — except for some pro forma statements — leads our friends in the US” to also silence their own opposition to the deal.

“If they don’t see, if they don’t hear Israel opposing it, why should they oppose it themselves,” Netanyahu adds, claiming that Israel’s “strong opposition to the last deal” in 2015 “helped the US exit the deal” in 2018.

Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers to meet in Turkey on Thursday

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia and Turkey will meet in southern Turkey on Thursday, Ankara announces.

“Following the initiative by our president and our intense diplomatic efforts, the foreign ministers of Russia (Sergei Lavrov) and Ukraine (Dmytro Kuleba) have decided to meet, with my participation on the sidelines,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says in a tweet.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells Russia’s TASS news agency that an agreement for the three-way meeting was reached during a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “on the initiative of the Turkish leader.”

Ukraine envoy to Israel: We see Jerusalem as possible location for talks with Russia

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

Ukraine’s envoy to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk thanks Israel for its attempts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and says his government sees Jerusalem as a potential location for talks.

“We thank you for your government for its effort and hope it’ll help us [come to a resolution],” Korniychuk says, referring to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s trip to Moscow on Saturday and subsequent phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Our government sees Jerusalem as a possible location for negotiations with Russia,” he says.

Korniychuk says his nation is facing a “coming genocide” and compares Russia’s invasion to the surprise attack on Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Korniychuk publicly asks the Israeli government to end its refusal to send military aid, and to provide helmets and flak jackets to Ukrainian fighters.

“We have long talks about munition and equipment and self-defense with the Israeli government, including helmets and safety vests, and we did not reach an agreement,” Korniychuk says.

“I hope you can explain to me as a human being how this is a weapon,” the ambassador says, putting on a helmet.

US says Iran-backed Houthis fired missile toward Red Sea over weekend

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched at least one missile into the busy waters of Red Sea over the weekend, the US Navy says, raising the risks of their fire striking one of the many commercial vessels using a waterway crucial to global shipping.

The Red Sea connects into the Suez Canal, which sends cargo and energy shipments from the wider Mideast onto Europe. Since seizing Yemen’s capital in September 2014, the Houthis have launched missiles, deployed bomb-laden drone boats and released mines into the Red Sea.

The missile fire took place Saturday in the Red Sea, the Navy says.

“Although maritime traffic was not impacted in this instance, these actions are destabilizing and present a danger to all vessels transiting a critical international waterway,” says Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Mideast-based 5th Fleet.

Spokesmen for the Iranian-backed Houthis did not immediately respond to requests for comment. \

Saudi Arabia, which has led a coalition battling the Houthis since March 2015 and has a coastline stretching some 1,760 kilometers (1,100 miles) along the Red Sea, also did not respond to requests for comment.

PM: We must cut bureaucracy faced by those fleeing Ukraine, focus will stay on Jewish refugees

Prime Minister Naftali Bennet (C) and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (R)  at Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Integration, Jerusalem, March 7, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennet (C) and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (R) at Ministerial Committee on Aliyah and Integration, Jerusalem, March 7, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Ukrainian refugees should not be impeded by Israeli bureaucracy, emphasizing that the country will focus on absorbing new Jewish immigrants.

“The implications of the war are reaching everywhere, to us as well. We in the State of Israel have absorbed, as of now, hundreds of refugees, some of them Jews, most of them not,” he tells the Ministerial Aliyah and Integration Committee. “Naturally, the State of Israel will focus on Jewish refugees.”

“Our internal bureaucracy cannot create obstacles. We must know how to overturn worlds and cut through bureaucracy in order to carry out this historic mission,” Bennett says.

The premier’s comments come amid reports of refugees being made to wait for hours at Ben Gurion airport while paperwork is sorted.

In addition, non-Jewish refugees are being made to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,050) as a condition of entry to Israel. The deposit is held as a guarantee that the Ukrainians will eventually leave Israel, as the country rarely grants refugee status to non-Jews, and instead allows them temporary entry as tourists. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said she believes Israel will need to limit the number of non-Jewish refugees it accepts.

Kyiv mayor says heavy fighting around Ukrainian capital

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor and former heavyweight champion in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv Mayor and former heavyweight champion in his office in the City Hall in Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 27, 2022 (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

There are reports of heavy fighting to the north and west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

“With extreme rage, the enemy destroys Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel, Irpin. They deliberately kill civilians,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko tells CNN.

It is unclear if the fighting is impacting the Russian-declared evacuation corridor from the city, which has in any case been rejected by Ukrainian authorities because it leads to Belarus.

“We are doing everything in the capital to support the city, to create a reserve of food, medicines, essential goods. We distribute and provide aid to those who need it the most today. Humanitarian aid was also sent to Chernihiv,” Klitschko says.

“We are trying to deliver it to Bucha and Hostomel. We are forming humanitarian cargoes for some other cities. The capital is preparing for defense. I ask all Kyiv residents to keep calm, to stay at home, or — in case of alarm — in shelters,” he says.

Ukraine deputy PM rejects evacuation corridors to Russia, Belarus: ‘Not an acceptable option’

A family flees in a car as Russian troops take positions in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A family flees in a car as Russian troops take positions in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Ukraine rejects Moscow’s offer of evacuation corridors to Russia and Belarus, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says.

“This is not an acceptable option,” she says, after Russia proposed safe passage for civilians from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy.

The civilians “aren’t going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia.”

The Russian army said earlier it was opening humanitarian corridors from the four Ukrainian cities.

Fighting was still ongoing Monday in the four — the capital Kyiv, the second-largest city Kharkhiv in the east, the southeastern port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, and Sumy, near the eastern border with Russia.

But the fact the corridors led into Russia or its ally Belarus raised questions over the safety of those who might use them.

Two recent attempts to allow thousands of civilians to leave the besieged city of Mariupol have ended in disaster, with civilians under fire and both sides accusing each other of violations.

Russian forces kill mayor of town near Kyiv, officials say

Illustrative -- A local resident walks in a street as smoke rises near the town of Hostomel and the Antonov Airport, in northwest Kyiv on February 24, 2022 (Daniel LEAL / AFP)
Illustrative -- A local resident walks in a street as smoke rises near the town of Hostomel and the Antonov Airport, in northwest Kyiv on February 24, 2022 (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

KYIV — Russian forces have killed the mayor of Gostomel, a town near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that is home to a strategic airport, city authorities say.

“The head of Gostomel, Yuri Illich Prylypko, died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick,” the city says on its Facebook page.

Prylypko was shot dead along with two others, it says, without specifying when.

“No one forced him to go under the occupiers’ bullets,” it says. “He died for his people, for Gostomel. He died a hero.”

Gostomel, northwest of Kyiv, is home to the strategic Antonov military airport, which was the site of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the first days of the war.

Blinken says US will ‘defend every inch of NATO territory’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint media conference with Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a joint media conference with Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that US commitment to the NATO defense pact is “sacrosanct” and American resolve on the matter should not be doubted.

Blinken assures Lithuania of NATO protection and American support as he begins a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all NATO members and Blinken is aiming to reassure them of their security in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations.

“We are bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared,” Blinken says, stressing that the US commitment to NATO’s mutual defense pact is “sacrosanct.”

“We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack,” he says. “No one should doubt our readiness, no one should doubt our resolve.”

Blinken will also meet with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid while in Latvia.

PA: Israel’s mediation between Russia, Ukraine is ‘a mockery of international politics’

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh holds a briefing with foreign press at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 10, 2021. (Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh holds a briefing with foreign press at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 10, 2021. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh calls Israel’s attempt to mediate between Russia and Ukraine “a mockery of international politics.”

“It’s a mockery of international politics that Israel, an occupying state, is attempting to be a mediator to end the crisis in Ukraine,” Shtayyeh tells cabinet ministers during their weekly meeting.

Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the two main Palestinian factions, have avoided taking any stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many Palestinians identify with the Ukrainians and have sought to draw parallels between the invasion and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

“We hope that the war will come to end in a way that ensures international security and safety, and protects civilians, who are the victims of wars,” Shtayyeh says, avoiding accusing Russia of invading Ukraine.

Zelensky calls for further sanctions: World must ‘refuse to give money to terrorists’

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in a video address posted to Facebook, on March 4, 2022. (Screenshot)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in a video address posted to Facebook, on March 4, 2022. (Screenshot)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for further sanctions against Russia in one of his regular televised addresses, saying the global community must not fund terror.

“If the situation gets worse then new actions need to be introduced to bring peace,” he says, according to a translation by Sky News.

Zelensky says the world must “refuse to give money to terrorists.”

“They have targeted Mykolaiv and Kharkiv and burned residential areas. It’s terror,” he says. “We must fight against inhumane evil.”

“We have a yellow and blue flag that has flown in space and in Antarctica. We have never killed peaceful people while flying this flag,” he says.

“Ukraine and terror are completely different notions. We will never have swastikas in Ukraine,” Zelensky says in an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claim that Ukraine needs “denazifying.”

Global COVID-19 death toll passes 6 million, according to tally

A worker in the COVID ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on February 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
A worker in the COVID ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on February 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

BANGKOK — The death toll from COVID-19 eclipses 6 million — underscoring that the pandemic, now in its third year, is far from finished.

The milestone is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe.

The last million deaths were recorded over the last four months, according to the tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

That’s slightly slower than the previous million, but highlights that many countries are still struggling with the coronavirus.

Gas prices rocket to record highs as US, EU mull further Russia sanctions

Petrol station attendants fill up vehicles at a petrol station in Hong Kong on March 7, 2022 with fuel prices rising as traders fretted over the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Peter PARKS / AFP)
Petrol station attendants fill up vehicles at a petrol station in Hong Kong on March 7, 2022 with fuel prices rising as traders fretted over the fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Peter PARKS / AFP)

LONDON — Europe and UK natural gas prices soar to record highs on supply fears, as the European Union and United States mull sanctions on Russian energy.

Europe gas reference Dutch TTF rockets more than 60 percent to 345 euros per megawatt hour and UK gas hits 800 pence per therm.

Brent North Sea crude oil surges close to $140 per barrel and a near 14-year high.

Russia is a leading supplier of natural gas and is also one of the world’s biggest crude producers.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the White House and allies are in talks about banning energy imports from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia snubs UN court hearings in case brought by Ukraine over invasion

A woman with a child arrives at the border crossing after fleeing from the Ukraine in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A woman with a child arrives at the border crossing after fleeing from the Ukraine in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Russia snubs a hearing at the United Nations’ top court into a legal bid by Kyiv to halt Moscow’s devastating invasion of Ukraine.

A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the International Court of Justice are empty as the hearing opens.

The court’s president, American judge Joan E. Donoghue, says Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands informed judges that “his government did not intend to participate in the oral proceedings.” The hearing goes ahead without the Russian delegation.

The International Court of Justice is opening two days of hearings at its headquarters, the Peace Palace, into Ukraine’s request for its judges to order Russia to halt its invasion. Ukraine is scheduled to present its arguments Monday morning and Russia has the opportunity to respond on Tuesday.

Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations” launched Feb. 24 “that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide” in the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

A decision is expected on the request within days, though that does not mean Russia would abide by any order the court might issue.

Lithuania president to Blinken: Deterrence is no longer enough against Russia

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken (2ndL) meets with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda (2ndR) at the Presidentura in Vilnius, Lithuania on March 7, 2022. (OLIVIER DOULIERY / Pool / AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken (2ndL) meets with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda (2ndR) at the Presidentura in Vilnius, Lithuania on March 7, 2022. (OLIVIER DOULIERY / Pool / AFP)

VILNIUS, Lithuania — Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tells US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Russia poses a long-term threat to Europe and that deterrence is no longer enough.

“Unfortunately, the worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern for all of us and around the world,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda tells Blinken.

“Russia’s reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to European security, the security of our alliance,” he says.

Nauseda says that a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that “forward defense” was now needed.

He predicts that “Putin will not stop in Ukraine…. It is our collective duty as a nation to help all Ukrainians with all means available. By saying all, I mean, indeed all means, if we want to avoid the Third World War. The choice is in our hands.”

Blinken is on a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as they watch Russia press ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

Later in the day he will travel to Riga, Latvia, where he will meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, before visiting Tallinn, Estonia, on Tuesday.

Chemical leak at cleaning materials factory in Kibbutz Dalia produces orange cloud

There are initial reports of a leak of hazardous materials from a factory producing cleaning materials in Kibbutz Dalia in the north of the country.

Residents of Dalia as well as the nearby communities of Ein Hashofet and Ramat Hashofet are instructed to stay indoors and close the windows and doors.

Pictures from the scene show a yellow-orange cloud of fumes above the factory. Emergency services are on their way to the scene.

 

Bennett: We must do everything we can to end the human tragedy in Ukraine

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 27, 2022.  (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Pool)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 27, 2022. (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Pool)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says everything must be done to stop the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, in a reference to his efforts to mediate.

“As long as the candle is burning, we need to make every effort,” says Bennett in brief comments at the end of his speech at a conference, referring to an old tale in which a cobbler said he could keep fixing shoes as long as his candle kept burning.

In line with his policy of not mentioning Russia by name when speaking about the war, Bennett refers instead to the human cost of the conflict in his remarks at Channel 12’s Influencers Conference.

“There’s a terrible human tragedy, more terrible that we expected to see [in this period]. We need to do everything to stop it,” Bennett says.

Bennett, along with Housing and Construction Minister Ze’ev Elkin who serves as his Russian translator, flew to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Bennett said that during the meeting he discussed the Ukraine war and Iran nuclear talks. He has spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky three times since then.

Ukraine says ‘completely immoral’ that evacuation corridors lead to Russia, Belarus

Ukraine slams as “completely immoral” that evacuation corridors under a Russian ceasefire lead to Belarus and Russia.

“This is a completely immoral story. People’s suffering is used to create the desired television picture,” a spokesman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says in a statement, according to the Reuters news agency.

“These are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine,” the statement reads.

A Russian task force announced a ceasefire for civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy. It wasn’t immediately clear how long it would last.

Uniqlo defends decision to continue operations in Russia

People shop at a Uniqlo retail clothing store in the Hudson Yards shopping mall in New York City on December 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
People shop at a Uniqlo retail clothing store in the Hudson Yards shopping mall in New York City on December 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

TOKYO — The parent company of Japanese casualwear giant Uniqlo defends a decision to keep Russian stores open even as rivals Zara and H&M suspend operations in the country following its invasion of Ukraine.

Tadashi Yanai, president of Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing, says the conflict should not deprive people in Russia of clothing, a basic human need.

“There should never be war. Every country should oppose it. This time all of Europe clearly opposes the war and has shown its support for Ukraine. Any attempt to divide the world will, on the contrary, strengthen unity,” he says in a statement.

“Clothing is a necessity of life. The people of Russia have the same right to live as we do,” Yanai addd.

There are 49 Uniqlo stores in Russia.

A Fast Retailing spokesman says the company will “continue to monitor the situation” but there were “no plans as of now to suspend our operations.”

France denies Macron asked for Ukraine evacuation corridors to Russia, Belarus

This file photo taken on December 4, 2021 shows French President Emmanuel Macron briefing reporters at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah. (Thomas Samson/AFP)
This file photo taken on December 4, 2021 shows French President Emmanuel Macron briefing reporters at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah. (Thomas Samson/AFP)

France denies that French President Emmanuel Macron requested Russia open the civilian evacuation corridors from the Ukrainian cities of Khiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy into Russia and Belarus.

“The president of the Republic has neither requested nor obtained corridors to Russia after his conversation with Vladimir Putin,” the Elysee presidential palace tells BFMTV, according to the BBC.

“The president of the Republic insistently asks to let the civilian populations leave and to allow the transport of aid,” the palace says. “It’s another way for Putin to push his narrative and say that it is the Ukrainians who are the aggressors and they are the ones who offer asylum to everyone.”

Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Defense Ministry, show that civilians will be able to leave the Ukrainian cities and head to Russia and Belarus.

Shaked: Israel can’t open its doors to unlimited numbers of Ukrainian refugees

Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked repeats her assertion that Israel may move to limit the number of Ukrainian refugees allowed into the country.

“There is no country that can open its gates to anyone who wants without any restrictions, certainly not a country as small as Israel,” Shaked tells the Kan public broadcaster.

Shaked says that so far some 2,800 Ukrainian refugees have entered Israel, with 10 percent of them eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.

“The State of Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Certainly as a Western state, we will receive refugees. But in the coming days we will have to formulate an orderly policy,” she says.

Prosecutors won’t appeal early release for actor Moshe Ivgy, jailed for indecent assault

Israeli actor Moshe Ivgy arrives at the Haifa Magistrate's Court for the verdict in his trial, January 9, 2020 (Flash90)
Israeli actor Moshe Ivgy arrives at the Haifa Magistrate's Court for the verdict in his trial, January 9, 2020 (Flash90)

Prosecutors say they won’t appeal the early release granted to prominent actor Moshe Ivgy, jailed over the indecent assault and sexual harassment of four women.

Ivgy is expected to be released next week.

The actor is serving an 11-month prison sentence at the Hermon Prison in northern Israel.

The parole board said last week that although Ivgy’s crimes were “ugly,” the chances that he would pose a danger to the public or reoffend had diminished since he was jailed. Prosecutors have said in the past that Ivgy’s multiple assaults demonstrate a pattern of behavior.

Ukraine says it retook Chuguiv in east, with Russia suffering ‘heavy losses’

People stand outside a destroyed building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on February 24, 2022 (Aris Messinis / AFP)
People stand outside a destroyed building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on February 24, 2022 (Aris Messinis / AFP)

Ukrainian military officials claims to have retaken the city of Chuguiv in eastern Ukraine.

The claim has not been independently verified.

“The occupiers suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment,” says the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in a Facebook post.

Chuguiv was among the first places to report damage after Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

Brent crude up $12, shares sink and price of gold jumps amid Ukraine conflict

A currency trader walks near the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between US dollar and South Korean won at a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea,  March 7, 2022  (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A currency trader walks near the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between US dollar and South Korean won at a foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, March 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

TOKYO — The price of oil jumps more than $12 a barrel and shares are sharply lower as the conflict in Ukraine deepens amid mounting calls for harsher sanctions against Russia.

Brent crude oil surges more than 10%, while benchmark US crude is up $10 at more than $125 a barrel.

Stock futures in the US and Europe also drop.

The price of gold, which is viewed as an investor safe haven in times of crisis, jumps $26 an ounce to $1,992.90.

Footage apparently shows burning residential building in Mykolaiv after bombardment

The Twitter account of the Ukrainian parliament posts a video of what it says is a burning residential building in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

The clip could not be independently verified.

The footage is released after reports of a heavy overnight bombardment of the city.

The Guardian reports that Mykolaiv’s mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych, says the buildings were targeted by Russian troops.

“There are many shells in the city that did not explode…do not approach, do not lift, and do not try to move them yourself,” Senkevych warns.

Iran seeks ‘creative ways’ to nuke deal after Lavrov’s demand over Russia sanctions

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani during a meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

A top Iranian official says his country is seeking “creative ways” to restore its nuclear deal with world powers after Russia’s foreign minister linked sanctions on Moscow over its war on Ukraine to the ongoing negotiations.

The tweet by Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council, offers the first high-level acknowledgment of the demands of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Vienna participants act & react based on interests and it’s understandable,” Shamkhani writes. “Our interactions … are also solely driven by our people’s interests. Thus, we’re assessing new elements that bear on the negotiations and will accordingly seek creative ways to expedite a solution.”

Russia announces evacuation corridors from 4 cities, including Kyiv

A woman holds a toddler before stepping up in an evacuation train at the central train station in Kyiv on March 6, 2022. (SERGEI CHUZAVKOV / AFP)
A woman holds a toddler before stepping up in an evacuation train at the central train station in Kyiv on March 6, 2022. (SERGEI CHUZAVKOV / AFP)

Russia announces that it will allow the evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy.

According to the Interfax news agency, the evacuation corridors will be opened at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The corridors will open at 10 a.m. local time. The report does not say how long they will remain open for.

Previous attempts to evacuate cities have failed amid accusations by Ukraine of ongoing shelling by Russian troops despite the agreements.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is now in its 12th day, and has caused 1.5 million people to flee the country with millions more thought to be displaced within the country’s borders.

New Zealand set to rush legislation allowing it to impose sanctions on Russia

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the post-Cabinet press conference in Wellington, New Zealand,  March 7, 2022 (Mark Mitchell/Pool Photo via AP)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the post-Cabinet press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, March 7, 2022 (Mark Mitchell/Pool Photo via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government plans to rush through legislation that will allow it to impose economic sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

New Zealand’s existing laws don’t allow it to impose meaningful sanctions except as part of a broader United Nations effort. That has left New Zealand hamstrung since Russia has UN Security Council veto power.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the new legislation will allow New Zealand to target people, companies and assets associated with the invasion, including Russian oligarchs. New Zealand also could freeze assets and stop superyachts or planes from arriving.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the bill “will send a very clear signal that New Zealand will not be a safe haven for those wishing to move their investments here.”

The Russia Sanctions Bill is scheduled to be heard by lawmakers on Wednesday and could pass as quickly as the same day. Ardern says she’s hoping it will be supported by lawmakers across all parties although a unanimous vote wasn’t guaranteed.

Pelosi: Examining ban on import of Russian oil and energy products into US

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, of California, speaks to the media, March 3, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, of California, speaks to the media, March 3, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the US.

Amid rising gasoline prices in the US, the Biden administration has yet to call for an oil import ban on Russia.

In a letter to Democrats, Pelosi says the legislation under consideration would also repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and begin the process of denying Russia access to the World Trade Organization.

Pelosi says the House would also empower the Biden administration to raise tariffs on Russian imports.

Congress intends to approve the Biden administration’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, Pelosi said, as part of omnibus government funding legislation this week.

Syria claims two civilians killed in Israeli attack near Damascus

The Syrian army claims two civilians were killed by an Israeli attack near Damascus early this morning.

Syria says the strike at around 5 a.m. hit several targets south of the capital and also caused property damage.

The Syrian military says its air defenses shot down most of the incoming missiles. Syria regularly makes such claims, which are widely dismissed as empty boasts.

Russian artillery pounds city of Mykolaiv

Russian artillery launches a heavy bombardment of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.

The shelling hits the city’s outskirts, lighting up the night sky, The New York Times reports.

Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out of the city yesterday and recaptured its airport.

The strategic city has an important port on the Black Sea.

Syrian state media says Israel bombed targets near Damascus

Syria accuses Israel of carrying out airstrikes near the capital Damascus.

Syrian state media outlet SANA says the attack happened south of Damascus and originated in northern Israel.

The report says Syrian air defenses responded to “Israeli aggression” and that explosions were heard in the city.

There are no reports of casualties or damage.

Israel does not comment on strikes in Syria, but has said it has carried out hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country.

Late last month, Syrian state media said three Syrian soldiers were killed in an Israeli airstrike near Damascus.

Last month Israel also allegedly fired surface-to-surface missiles at an observation post and “finance building” near the border town of Quneitra on the Syrian Golan Heights.

Russia is allied with Syria’s regime and allows Israel to carry out operations against targets in the country. The coordination has been a major factor in Israel’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Israel has refrained from antagonizing Russia by condemning Moscow for the invasion.

Russia recruiting Syrians to fight in Ukrainian cities, Wall Street Journal reports

Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters experienced in urban combat as it ramps up its assault on Ukraine, according to US officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Moscow, which launched an invasion into its Eastern European neighbor on February 24, has in recent days recruited fighters from Syria hoping they can help take Kyiv, four US officials tell the US daily.

Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The country has been mired in a conflict marked by urban combat for more than a decade.

One official tells the Journal that some fighters are already in Russia readying to join the fight in Ukraine, though it was not immediately clear how many combatants have been recruited, and the sources would not provide further detail.

Foreign fighters have already entered the Ukrainian conflict on both sides.

Chechnya strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov — a former rebel-turned-Kremlin-ally — has shared videos of Chechen fighters joining the attack on Ukraine and said some had been killed in the fighting.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has claimed around 20,000 foreign volunteers have volunteered to join Ukraine’s forces.

Russian missiles target infrastructure near Odessa

Russian forces carry out a missile strike targeting infrastructure in the village of Tuzla, near Odessa, the Kyiv Independent reports.

There are no immediate reports of casualties.

Air raid sirens sound in Kyiv.

UK Defense Ministry says Russia made ‘minimal ground advances’ over the weekend

The UK Ministry of Defense says Russian forces made “minimal ground advances over the weekend” in an intelligence update.

“It is highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved its planned objectives to date,” it says.

“Over the past 24 hours, a high level of Russian air and artillery strikes have continued to hit military and civilian sites in Ukrainian cities. Recent strikes have targeted Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv, and been particularly heavy in Mariupol,” it says.

Russian gymnast sparks outrage by wearing pro-war ‘Z’ symbol on chest

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak sparks outrage by placing a “Z,” a pro-war symbol for Russia’s invasion, on his shirt at a competition in Doha, Qatar.

Kuliak stands on the podium with the symbol on his chest next to Ukrainian gymnast Illia Kovtun, who won the competition. Kuliak places third and Kazakhstan’s Milad Karimi takes the silver medal.

The International Gymnastics Federations says “it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behavior.”

Starting on Monday, Russia and Belarus will be banned from international gymnastics competitions. Russian athletes are banned from most international forums.

The “Z” symbol represents the Russian phrase for victory and has been painted on Russian vehicles and equipment in Ukraine and featured in Russian pro-war propaganda.

Russian gymnast wears a pro-war “Z” symbol on his chest at a competition in Doha, March 6, 2022. (Twitter screenshot)

Ukraine suspends exports of meat, grains, other staples

Ukraine halts exports of some food products amid growing shortages of staples.

The Ukrainian governments says it suspended exports of “meat, rye, oats, buckwheat, sugar, millet and salt,” according to CNN.

Some exports, including wheat, corn, poultry, eggs and oil will only be allowed with permission from the Economy Ministry.

Grocery stores are increasingly running out of supplies as transportation becomes more difficult. Russia has increasingly attacked residential areas and civilian infrastructure in recent days.

Ukraine is a major world exporter of grains and other products, which some countries depend on.

Western countries call on Interpol to suspend Russia

UK Home Secretary Priti Patels says the UK and Western allies have called to suspend Russia from the Interpol international law enforcement organization.

Patel says she made the request to Interpol with counterparts from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The diplomats call for the “immediate suspension of Russia’s access to its systems.”

“Russia’s actions are a direct threat to the safety of individuals and to international law enforcement cooperation,” she says.

Interpol says it connects 195 member countries.

Russian diplomats expelled by US take off from New York for Moscow

Russian diplomats expelled by the US leave New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for Moscow in a Russian government plane.

“This plane will return to their homeland Russian diplomats, whom the US Government has declared persona non grata,” says Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, according to CNN.

The US Mission to the UN late last month called the 12 diplomats “intelligence operatives” that were exploiting their positions for espionage.

US lawmakers seek to restrict trade with Russia; oil price surges; markets plummet

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the US.

Amid rising gasoline prices in the US, the Biden administration has yet to call for an oil import ban on Russia.

In a letter to Democrats released Sunday night, Pelosi says the legislation under consideration would also repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and begin the process of denying Russia access to the World Trade Organization.

Pelosi says the House would also empower the Biden administration to raise tariffs on Russian imports.

Congress intends to approve the Biden administration’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, Pelosi said, as part of omnibus government funding legislation this week.

The price Brent North Sea crude oil, the European benchmark, soars to a near 14-year high of $140 due to the Ukraine war, heading toward the all-time high of $147.50.

The price per barrel of Brent oil has increased 33% since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that Washington is in “active discussions” with European nations about banning Russian oil imports, although he stopped short of announcing an outright boycott.

Even if oil is technically still exempt from sanctions, Russian oil exporters are struggling to find buyers. Shell is one of the only companies still buying Russian oil, although it says it will donate the profits to Ukrainian causes.

The price of gold rises to more than $2,000 in Asian trade as investors flee to the safe-haven commodity. The price is of gold is at its highest level since September 2020.

As stock markets open after the weekend in Asia, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index in Japan tumbles over three percent.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dives over four percent.

Futures for the US benchmark S&P are down over 1.5%.

Two of the world’s “Big Four” international accounting firms pull out of Russia.

KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers both say they will end their relationships with their Russia-based member firms. KPMG said it is also pulling out of Belarus.

KPMG International says in a statement it will be “incredibly difficult” to have its Russia and Belarus firms leave the network. KPMG has more than 4,500 employees in the two countries.

PricewaterhouseCoopers says it has 3,700 employees at its PwC Russia firm and is working on an “orderly transition” for the business.

The two other Big Four companies – Deloitte and Ernst & Young – didn’t immediately return Associated Press requests for comment.

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