Live updates: Russians destroy Chornobyl laboratory

LVIV, Ukraine — Russian military forces have destroyed a new laboratory at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant that among other things works to improve management of radioactive waste, the Ukrainian state agency responsible for the Chornobyl exclusion zone said Tuesday.

The Russian military seized the decommissioned plant at the beginning of the war. The exclusion zone is the contaminated area around the plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear meltdown in 1986.

The state agency said the laboratory, built at a cost of 6 million euros with support from the European Commission, opened in 2015.

The laboratory contained “highly active samples and samples of radionuclides that are now in the hands of the enemy, which we hope will harm itself and not the civilized world,” the agency said in its statement.

Radionuclides are unstable atoms of chemical elements that release radiation..

In another worrying development, Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency said Monday that radiation monitors around the plant had stopped working.


WASHINGTON — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied that Russia’s invasion has stalled.

Asked on CNN what Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved in Ukraine, he said: “Well, first of all not yet. He hasn’t achieved yet.” But he insisted the military operation was going “strictly in accordance with the plans and purposes that were established beforehand.”

Peskov reiterated that Putin’s main goals were to “get rid of the military potential of Ukraine” and “ensure that Ukraine changes from an anti-Russian centre to a neutral country.”


LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces not only blocked a humanitarian convoy trying to reach besieged Mariupol with desperately needed supplies on Tuesday but took captive some of the rescue workers and bus drivers.

He said the Russians had agreed to the route ahead of time.

“We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling, or deliberate terror,” Zelensky said in his nighttime video address to the nation.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the Russians seized 11 bus drivers and four rescue workers along with their vehicles. She said their fate was unknown. The figures couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

More than 7,000 people were evacuated from Mariupol on Tuesday, but about 100,000 remain in the city “in inhuman conditions, under a full blockade, without food, without water, without medicine and under constant shelling, under constant bombardment,” Zelensyy said.

Before the war, 430,000 people lived in the port city on the Sea of Azov.


LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said negotiations with Russia are going “step by step, but they are going forward.” The talks are being held by video between delegations from both sides.

“Its very difficult. Sometimes it’s scandalous,” he said, without giving details.

Zelensky has been having a series of conversations with Western leaders in the days before the leaders of NATO countries gather in Brussels to discuss the response to the war in Ukraine.

He said he spoke on Tuesday to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “who supports us.”

Zelensky said he expects the Western leaders to approve more sanctions to punish Russia and more help for Ukraine.

“We will work, we will fight, as hard as we can, to the last, bravely and openly,” he said.


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations on Wednesday will now face three resolutions on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine after Russia decided to call for a vote on its Security Council resolution which makes no mention of Russian aggression against its smaller neighbour.

The General Assembly is also scheduled to consider two rival resolutions — one that makes clear Russia is responsible for the humanitarian crisis, one that doesn’t.

France and Mexico decided to seek a humanitarian resolution in the 193-member General Assembly after Russia signalled it would veto the measure in the Security Council. The measure makes clear the aid crisis is a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A letter sent to the assembly president Monday from the two countries and 20 others, including Ukraine and the U.S., asked for a resumption of its special session on Wednesday to put the resolution to a vote.

A rival South African draft resolution which makes no mention of Russia’s aggression circulated Monday. It was sent to the assembly Tuesday, and could also be put to a vote on Wednesday.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said supporters of the France-Mexico resolution are working with South Africa and assembly members to address any concerns in their resolution in order to try to have only one resolution put to a vote in the assembly.

Thomas-Greenfield said the supporters are hoping to get the same vote for the France-Mexico resolution as for the March 2 General Assembly resolution that demanded an immediate halt to Russia’s military action and withdrawal of all its forces. That vote was 141-5, with 35 abstentions, and was hailed by its supporters as a demonstration of Russia’s global isolation.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s defence ministry said late Tuesday that the country’s air force intercepted and escorted a civilian Turkish Airline flight that was travelling from Moscow to Istanbul after a bomb scare had been received by aviation traffic authorities.

“Romanian aircraft took off at 17:58 local time and, after interception, they escorted the civilian aircraft until 18:24, when it left the national airspace,” the defence ministry wrote online.

The mission was ordered by the NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centres in Torrejon and coordinated with the Romanian Air Force and civil air traffic authorities, the ministry said. No further details were given.


PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday talked with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky about the terms of a potential ceasefire, according to the French presidency.

They reached “no agreement,” the statement said, but Macron “remains convinced of the need to continue his efforts” and he “stands alongside Ukraine.”

The Kremlin confirmed that Putin and Macron had a call in which they exchanged views about the situation in Ukraine, including the talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators. It didn’t give further details.


UNITED NATIONS — For the third time, Russia has accused Ukraine of preparing chemical attacks with Western help and of pursuing biological and even nuclear weapons — accusations vehemently denied by the United States and the United Kingdom.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed concern Tuesday that Russia’s “ludicrous accusations” that Ukraine plans to use chemical weapons are “a precursor for Russia’s plans to use chemical weapons — and we have to make sure that the world hears this and understands what is taking place.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told reporters that Russia raised “the threat of chemical provocations in Ukraine” in closed consultations at the end of a UN Security Council meeting on the Mideast Tuesday, claiming Ukrainian nationalists were responsible for a recent ammonia leak at a chemical plant in the northern city of Sumy. Sumy’s regional governor said the leak at the plant, which produces fertilizers, was caused by Russian shelling.

Polyansky claimed this was one of several scenarios of “false flag chemical provocations by the Ukrainian radicals that they are preparing to stage with the assistance of Western intelligence and private military companies in order to accuse Russia of allegedly using chemical weapons.” He also again accused “the Kyiv regime” of developing “a military biological program with the help of the USA, as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

U.S. President Joe Biden has said Russia’s suggestion that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons is a clear sign that President Vladimir Putin is considering using them, and he has warned of severe consequences if they are used.


WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to announce new sanctions against Russia on Thursday while in Brussels for meetings with NATO and European allies, according to a top national security aide.

Biden, who will take part in a special meeting of NATO and address the European Council summit, is also expected to underscore efforts to enforce the avalanche of existing list of sanctions already announced by the U.S. and allies.

“He will join our partners in imposing further sanctions on Russia and tightening the existing sanctions to crack down on evasion and to ensure robust enforcement,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who declined to further preview the new sanctions the president will announce.

Biden is travelling to Brussels and Poland – which has received more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled since the Feb. 24 invasion – looking to press for continued unity among western allies as Russia presses on with its brutal invasion of Ukraine.


BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia’s state TV says another flight from Belgrade to Moscow had to turn back after receiving a bomb threat.

The RTS said Tuesday police are investigating the 8th anonymous bomb alert at the Belgrade airport in 10 days. All previous alarms turned out to be false.

Serbian state media say all the threatening emails came either from Ukraine or Poland.

Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic has blamed the previous threats on unidentified foreign secret services that want to harm Serbia.

Besides Turkish carriers, Serbia’s national airline AirSerbia is the only airline in Europe still flying to and from Russia.

Serbia, which formally seeks European Union membership but has maintained close relations with ally Russia, has refused to join an international flight ban against Moscow in response to the war in Ukraine.


The logo of French energy conglomerate TotalEnergies is seen in Lille, northern France, Tuesday, March. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

PARIS — French energy giant TotalEnergies said it has decided to halt all its purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products by the end of 2022 at the latest.

The French company said in a statement it will “gradually suspend its activities in Russia” amid the “worsening situation” in Ukraine.

Russia represented 17% of the company’s oil and gas production in 2020.

TotalEnergies holds a 19.4% stake in Russia’s natural gas producer Novatek.

It also has a 20% stake in the Yamal LNG project in northern Russia. The group said it continues to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG plant “as long as Europe’s governments consider that Russian gas is necessary.”

“Contrary to oil, it is apparent that Europe’s gas logistics capacities make it difficult to refrain from importing Russian gas in the next two to three years without impacting the continent’s energy supply,” the statement said.

TotalEnergies has also decided to put on hold its business developments for batteries and lubricants in Russia. It will provide no further capital for the development of projects in Russia, the statement said.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian President Klaus Iohannis held a meeting with his Polish counterpart in Bucharest on Tuesday in which the two leaders discussed security issues amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda met with Iohannis at the presidential Cotroceni Palace in Romania’s capital. The leaders agreed to organize a Bucharest Nine meeting ahead of a NATO summit scheduled for June in Madrid, Iohannis told the media.

“We urgently need a consistent and balanced consolidation of the Eastern Flank, a united and strengthened Forward Presence,” Iohannis said. “An increased allied military presence is needed in our country and in the Black Sea region, in response to a strictly defensive response to Russia’s aggression.”

The so-called Bucharest Nine is a group of the easternmost NATO members, which Romania and Poland launched in 2015 to give Eastern alliance members a platform to discuss regional issues and forge a united voice within the 30-country alliance.

Iohannis also said that he discussed with Duda the “deep humanitarian crisis” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has so far forced more than 3.5 million refugees to flee the conflict into neighbouring European countries. More than 2.1 million have already sought safety in Poland, and more than half a million in Romania.

Duda’s visit to Romania comes just two days ahead of an extraordinary NATO summit set to be held in Brussels on Thursday, which U.S. President Joe Biden will attend. Biden is scheduled to visit Warsaw for a bilateral meeting with Duda on Saturday.


WASHINGTON — Russian ships in the Sea of Azov have been shelling Mariupol from offshore over the last 24 hours, a senior U.S. defence official said Tuesday.

The official said that there are about seven Russian ships in that area, including several warships, a minesweeper and a couple landing ships.

By contrast, the official said the U.S. did not see indications that ships in the Black Sea were firing on Odessa, as they had done days ago. The officials said the U.S. assesses that the Russians have about 21 ships in the Black Sea, including about a dozen surface combatant warships and some landing ships that carry troops.

According to the official, Russian ground forces are still largely stalled outside Kyiv — with troops still about 30 kilometres northeast of the city, and 15 kilometres northwest of the city. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide the U.S. military assessment.

More broadly, the defensce official said the U.S. continues to see Russia struggling to get food and fuel to its force, and has been seeing indications that some troops don’t have proper cold weather gear and are suffering frostbite. The food and fuel shortages have been persistent logistical and supply problems since the early days of the war.

The official said there also are indications that Russia is exploring ways to resupply troops and is considering bringing in reinforcements, but so far there has been no active moves seen to do either. There also are indications that Russian has used a significant number of its precision guided munitions, particularly its air-launched cruise missiles, and is exploring ways to resupply those weapons, the official said.


LVIV, Ukraine — Thousands of Ukrainians arrived by train in the western Ukraine city of Lviv on Tuesday as others departed.

Families exchanged tearful farewells as women and children boarded trains to Poland while men of fighting age stayed behind, barred from leaving the country.

Julia Krytska, her husband and and her son left Mariupol on Saturday, arriving in Lviv on an overcrowded train.

She said they were lucky to get out after volunteers found them in the besieged city that has lost nearly all connection with the outside world.

“The people in Mariupol, they don’t have a chance to be heard,” she told journalists at the train station. “There is no one you can ask for help.”

An air raid siren could be heard blaring over the city.


CHISINAU, Moldova — The war in Ukraine is severely impacting the physical and mental health of millions of people, World Health Organization regional director Hans Kluge said Tuesday at a refugee centre in Moldova.

Since the beginning of the war, more than 367,000 refugees from Ukraine have passed through Moldova, and more than 100,000 people, including 50,000 children, remain in the country.

“Our priority is to help ensure Moldova and all countries involved in the humanitarian response have the infrastructure and expertise in place to face this challenge which is placing a huge strain on resources, both human and financially,” Kluge said at a joint news conference with Moldovan Health Minister Ala Nemerenco.

Around 1,300 refugees in Moldova have requested medical assistance with 400 having been hospitalized since the beginning of the war. Around 100 are cancer and dialysis patients, Nemerenco said.

Nemerenco spoke of Moldova’s challenges in dealing with the influx of refugees, especially those with health problems.

“We must face it, our resources are limited, and we wouldn’t like to see that the burden of this crisis is affecting our citizens, Nemerenco said.


LONDON – A Western official says Ukrainian resistance has slowed Russia’s advance almost to a halt, and Ukraine has repulsed Russia’s attempts to take the strategic southern port of Mariupol despite weeks of bombardment.

But the official said Russian troops have not been pushed back from established positions, and had the capability to keep up a grinding war of attrition for some time – making a rapid breakthrough in negotiations aimed at ending the violence unlikely.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said Odessa, another strategic port on the Black Sea, was a key objective for Russia but there are no indications of an imminent siege.

Odessa has been spared major attack, though Russia has ships operating off the Black Sea coast. The U.S. also says Russia has increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea, but there are no indications at this point of an imminent amphibious assault on Odessa.


ANKARA, Turkey – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says his government would like to see Turkey join sanctions against Russia but said the country, which is talking to both Ukraine and Russia, is playing an invaluable role in trying to end the conflict.

Rutte made the comments during a visit to Ankara Tuesday ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels that is scheduled to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

“We would very much favour Turkey to implement all (of) the sanctions,” Rutte said during a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “But I think we also have to be happy with the fact that Turkey is playing now its diplomatic role and its leadership role in trying to end the conflict.”

Turkey has criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as unacceptable but has also pledged to maintain its close relations with both Moscow and Kyiv, while trying to mediate between the two sides. It has closed the Turkish Straits at the entrance of the Black Sea to some Russian warships but is not imposing sanctions on Russia.


BERLIN – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has again dismissed calls to boycott Russian energy supplies in the wake of the attack on Ukraine.

Scholz said Tuesday that the sanctions already imposed on Russia were already hitting its economy “and this will only get more dramatic every day.”

At the same time, the sanctions were designed to be “tolerable” for those imposing them, including in the long term, he said.

“That is why Germany’s position on this question (of an energy boycott) remains unchanged,” said Scholz.

He added that other countries in Europe are even more dependent on Russian oil, coal and gas than Germany “and nobody must be left standing out in the rain in this regard.”

Scholz said Germany is working to diversify its energy supply and that, while this will take time, it will eventually have the same effect as a boycott.

European countries pay Russia hundreds of millions of dollars each day for fossil fuels. Ukrainian officials say this trade effectively finances Russia’s war against their country.


BERLIN – Germany has condemned the latest verdict against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

In a statement, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the new prison sentence “is part of the systematic instrumentalization of the Russian judicial system against dissidents and the political opposition.”

The ministry noted that the latest trial took place largely behind closed doors and accused Russian authorities of breaching fundamental principles of rule of law while failing to present any credible evidence against Navalny.

“The German government renews its demand for Navalny’s immediate release,” it said.


KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian photojournalist has gone missing in a combat zone near the capital, raising fears he could have been injured, killed or taken captive by Russian forces.

The UNIAN news agency reported Tuesday that Maksym Levin has been unaccounted since March 13 when he contacted his friend from Vyshhorod near Kyiv. His friend, Markiyan Lyseiko, said Levin went to the area in his car to report on fighting there.

Lyseiko said Levin left his car near the village of Huta Mezhyhirska and was going to head to the village of Moshchun. Levin hasn’t contacted him ever since and hasn’t been seen online, Lyseiko said.

Levin has worked as a photojournalist and videographer for many Ukrainian and international publications.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Tuesday that Ukrainian refugees should not be integrated into the Danish society but must instead return to Ukraine and help rebuild their homeland as soon as possible.

“Being a refugee is temporary, so you have to return and help build up your homeland when you get the opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to help other refugees,” Frederiksen said in Parliament during a debate.

Under a newly adopted law in Denmark, Ukrainian refugees can stay in the Scandinavian country for two years and can work, get an education and have access to health services.


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief says his discussions with officials indicate “there is enough on the table to cease hostilities now” and seriously negotiate peace between Russia and Ukraine.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Tuesday that the war is “unwinnable,” and the only question is how many more lives will be lost and how many more cities like Mariupol will be destroyed before the war moves from the battlefield to the peace table.

“From my outreach with various actors, elements of diplomatic progress are coming into view on several key issues,” he said, enough to end hostilities now.

Guterres did not state what those elements are or answer any questions.

He said the war is intensifying and “getting more destructive and more unpredictable by the hour.” Ten million Ukrainians have already been forced to flee their homes.

“Even if Mariupol falls, Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house,” the secretary-general said.

Guterres said “the Ukrainian people are enduring a living hell,” and the war’s reverberations “are being felt worldwide with skyrocketing food, energy and fertilizer prices threatening to spiral into a global hunger crisis.”


PRZEMYSL, Poland  — The flow of refugees from Ukraine into a primary entry point in Poland has slowed to fewer than 8,000 people a day, the city’s mayor said.

That number is six to seven times lower than during the height of the Ukrainian exodus into Poland, Przemysl Mayor Wojciech Bakun said Tuesday outside the city’s train station. He compared the Polish effort to provide safe harbour for refugees to a marathon.

“After one month, a lot of people are very tired, so we have to think about next month, or maybe, hopefully not, but maybe about years,” Bakun said. “So that’s the main thing at this moment. Not only for Poland, but also for EU countries.”

Poland has established a system to help new arrivals, providing them with immediate assistance and helping arrange travel to other parts of Poland and other European countries.


BRUSSELS — Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Nicu Popescu is warning that the plight of Ukrainian refugees in his country could get much worse if the war launched by Russia approaches its borders.

Popescu says that about 360,000 refugees have crossed into Moldova in recent weeks. Around 100,000 of them — equivalent to 4% of Moldova’s population — have remained, and many are minors. The rest have moved further into Europe.

“This is a very, very dramatic speed and scale of a humanitarian situation and, in our assessment, it could get much worse if the frontline approaches our borders,” he told European Union lawmakers on Tuesday.

Russia has troops in Moldova, a country of 2.6 million located between Ukraine and Romania, stationed in the disputed territory of Transnistria. Concern is rife in Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin might push his forces west though Ukraine to join up with them.

Popescu says that “for now, the situation is calm” in Transnistria, but that things could change rapidly if the fighting spreads.

He says the war in Ukraine has hurt Moldova’s economy, notably its trade, just as the country struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and an energy crisis.


MEDYKA, Poland — Ukrainians, mostly women and children, continued to cross into the Polish border town of Medyka on Tuesday.

Viktoria Totsen, 39, arrived there from Mariupol.

“Mariupol is almost 99% destroyed,” Totsen said. “They bombed us for the past 20 days. During the last five days the planes were flying over us every five seconds and dropped bombs everywhere, on residential buildings, kindergartens, art schools, everywhere. We live near the theater in the city centre, and, as you know, they damaged the theater. It was horrible and we took a risk and we left. They city is under blockade, and when we left we got (mobile phone) connection, and we managed to find the route to Zaporizhzhia.”

Olena Almazova, 54, fled Kharkiv, a northeast Ukrainian city near the Russian border.

“It is a very difficult situation in Kharkiv,” Almazova said. “Every day they bomb, 40, 50, 60 times a day. They bombed suburbs and city centre. They damaged the culture centre, they damaged ancient architecture. So far, 700 buildings have been destroyed.”


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says this week’s meeting between NATO leaders should be focused on ways of securing a ceasefire in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and not just on sanctions and deterrence.

“Everyone’s first aim should be a ceasefire,” Cavusoglu told Turkish journalists on the sideline of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Pakistan on Tuesday. “It should be to stop the war that is going on right now. Everyone should act responsibly and constructively.”

Cavusoglu continued: “Of course, we need to show unity and solidarity within NATO, we need to show deterrence. But who is paying the price of the ongoing war?”

U.S. President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders are scheduled to meet Thursday in Brussels. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the meeting is intended not just to show NATO’s “support to Ukraine, but also our readiness to protect and defend all NATO allies,”

Cavusoglu said Turkey was pressing with its efforts as a “mediator and facilitator” to end the fighting and was in touch with negotiators on both sides. Turkey was also trying to bring the warring sides to meet face to face again, Cavusoglu said.

Earlier this month, the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey on the sidelines of a diplomacy forum.


LVIV, Ukraine — Exhausted Mariupol survivors continued to arrive by train in the western city of Lviv on Tuesday.

“In one compartment there were 10 or eleven people, with others in the corridor, but when you’re going to safety it doesn’t matter,” said one woman, Julia Krytska, who made it out with her husband and son. Her hands were shaking.

They were lucky to get out after volunteers found them in the besieged city, she said. “There’s no connection with the world,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for help.”

The people of Mariupol don’t have a chance to be heard, she said. “They are in need of help. People don’t even have water there,” Krytska said.


KYIV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian actor is now serving in the Territorial Defence Forces on the outskirts of Kyiv in a unit packed with people from showbusiness.

Sergiy Volosovets said on Monday that the fight against Russian forces has drawn in people from all walks of life.

“There is a lot of very different people here, I met a lot of my friends here, as well as artists,” he said.

“I think maybe their artistic spirit just broke the fear and that allowed them to come and be here. For example in my units there were actors, singers, cameramen, photographers, people related to the showbusiness in various ways. Those people are artists, they believe they could change their country for better as well as defeat the enemy.”

Volosovets has acted in theatre, movies and TV and has won awards for his work.

He now commands a unit of 11 men, and oversees the military training of volunteers in a base northeast of Kyiv, a few kilometres away from the frontlines where Ukraine’s army is trying to block the Russian advance towards the capital.


BRUSSELS — International news channel Euronews says it has been blocked from broadcasting in Russia due to its Ukraine war coverage.

“We firmly condemn this intolerable restriction imposed on millions … in Russia who relied on us to get impartial news,” Euronews said, adding that Russian authorities pulled the channel off air and blocked its websites in Russia.

Euronews said it might launch legal action to continue to freely broadcast in the country. Euronews is broadcast in 160 countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has intensified a crackdown on media and individuals who fail to toe his line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter and signing into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of “fake” reports.

Euronews said it strongly rejected Russian claims it spread “fake news” and that it allegedly called on Russians to protest the war. It said it faced an “unacceptable threat of criminal liability” due to the new Russian law.


ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s foreign minister says he intends to personally escort humanitarian aid into the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Tuesday he had sent an official request to the Ukrainian side to facilitate the sending of humanitarian aid into the city, and an official request to the Russian side to let the delivery in. A sizeable Greek community lives in the Mariupol area.

Dendias did not provide any details on a possible date for the delivery or what the humanitarian aid would consist of.

He made the announcement after meeting with the Greek consul general in Mariupol, Manolis Androulakis, who arrived in Athens last Sunday after being evacuated from the city on March 15.

Androulakis was the last European Union diplomat to leave the city, which has been pummeled by Russian forces for weeks. Living conditions in the city are dire.

On arriving in Athens, Androulakis said civilians in the city were being hit “blindly and indiscriminately” and likened Mariupol to other cities decimated by war in the past, such as Guernica, Aleppo and Grozny.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president has compared the conduct of Russian forces in Ukraine to that of Adolf Hitler’s infamous SS troops during the Second World War.

“Today, the Russian army is behaving in exactly the same way … as the German SS,” President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to Bulgaria on Tuesday.

Duda, whose country suffered a brutal Nazi occupation during the Second World War, noted that Russia had already violated international law when it attacked Georgia in 2008 and first invaded Ukraine in 2014.

He said he hoped that those responsible for attacks on civilians in Ukraine would be brought before international courts.


PARIS — The former Paris-based Europe correspondent for Russian state-controlled broadcaster Channel One says she quit her job earlier this month over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zhanna Agalakova, who used to be a newsreader at the channel, said she believes Russian networks have been commandeered by the Kremlin to broadcasts lies and propaganda.

The 56-year-old journalist said there is little independent media in Russia, meaning that Russians are being “zombified” by the stream of media-sponsored untruths.

Agalakova quit March 3, leaving the channel officially on March 17.


BELGRADE, Serbia — A senior Serbian official says Belgrade will never impose sanctions or join the Western “hysteria” against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Tuesday: “Serbia will never be part of the anti-Russian hysteria in which the property of Russian citizens and the property of the Russian Federation is stolen, just as we will not ban Russian media.”

The Balkan country is a staunch ally of Russia, though it has condemned its invasion of Ukraine.

Serbia is seeking membership of the European Union, but it is the only European country that has refused to join international sanctions against the Kremlin.


MOSCOW — The Kremlin has refused to comment on a top tabloid newspaper’s reporting of Russian military casualties in Ukraine.

The daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Monday that 9,861 soldiers have been killed in action in Ukraine and another 16,153 have been wounded. It cited the Russian defence ministry.

The newspaper quickly removed the article from its website, describing it as the work of hackers.

Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on it at Tuesday’s conference call with reporters, referring questions about the military casualties to the defence ministry.

On March 2, the defence ministry reported 498 soldiers had been killed and hasn’t released any casualty numbers since then.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government has frozen nearly 400 million euros (US$440 million) in funds linked to Russians targeted by sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag revealed the latest figures on frozen accounts in a letter to Parliament on Tuesday.

She said that more than 242 million euros ($267 million) in funds linked to Russians have been frozen at Dutch trust companies and nearly 145 million euros ($160 million) in bank accounts.

The remainder of the frozen assets are held at investment companies and pension funds.


LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s natural resources minister says wildfires have been extinguished in the area of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, which is under the control of Russian forces.

The fires have raised concern about the possible release of radiation from the plant, where a 1986 explosion and fire sent radioactive emissions across large parts of Europe.

But Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strelets said Tuesday that radiation levels in the area are within the norms.

Ukrainian officials had earlier accused Russian forces of deliberately setting the fires or causing them with artillery shelling.


PARIS — A group of 20 Ukrainian children with cancer and leukemia has arrived in Paris as part of a rescue plan coordinated by French First Lady Brigitte Macron and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska.

The children are accompanied by their parents as they flee the war with Russia. They arrived at Orly airport near the French capital on Monday evening.

Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper in an interview, Zelenska said “when it became clear that it was impossible to treat children with cancer in the bomb shelters, we immediately sought a solution.”

She said some of the evacuated children will remain in Poland, while others are heading to France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Canada.


ROME — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging Italy to beef up sanctions against Russia and seize more assets from President Vladimir Putin and his allies as a way of pressuring Moscow into negotiating an end to the war.

Zelensky spoke to the Italian parliament Tuesday via video from Kyiv, as he has done with other foreign parliaments. Wearing a collared shirt and speaking through an Italian translator, Zelensky told Italian lawmakers that he had just spoken by phone to Pope Francis and that the pontiff had endorsed Ukraine’s right to defend itself.

He said that 117 children have been killed in the war with Russia and that the city of Mariupol has been flattened by the Russian onslaught.

He warned that Europe’s security is at risk if Russia advances and that grain deliveries to the developing world are being jeopardized because Ukraine’s farmers can’t plant crops.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi praised the “heroic” resistance of the Ukrainian people.


MOSCOW — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has rejected U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning that Russia may be planning a cyberattack against the United States.

Asked about Biden’s comments, Peskov said Tuesday that “the Russian Federation, unlike many Western countries including the United States, does not engage in banditry on the state level.”

Biden told a meeting of corporate CEOs on Monday that “evolving intelligence” indicated a cyberattack may be planned. He urged private companies to invest in their own security to counter cyberattacks.

Biden has suggested a cyberattack could be Russia’s response to economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.


GENEVA — The UN refugee agency says more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, passing another milestone in an exodus that has led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

UNHCR reported Tuesday that 3.56 million people have left Ukraine, with Poland taking in the lion’s share — more than 2.1 million — followed by Romania with more than 540,000 and Moldova with more than 367,000.

Shortly after the invasion on Feb. 24, UNHCR predicted that some 4 million refugees might leave Ukraine, though it has been re-assessing that prediction. The outflows have been slowing in recent days after peaking at more than 200,000 each on two straight days in early March.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that nearly 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, suggesting that some if not most of them might to flee abroad if the war continues.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, says it has confirmed 62 attacks on health care assets in Ukraine since the conflict began and through last Friday. The attacks caused 15 deaths and 37 injuries. The assets include hospitals and medical facilities, transport of medical supplies, warehouses, and health care workers.


MOSCOW — Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov says he wants to auction off his 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.

Muratov called Tuesday in the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which he edits, for people to “share with refugees, the wounded and children who need urgent treatment what is dear to you and has a value for others.”

Muratov is asking auction houses about the possibility of organizing a sale.

Muratov said last year he was giving away his share of the Nobel prize money to causes including independent media, a Moscow hospice, and care for children with spinal problems. He said he wouldn’t keep any himself.


LONDON — Two Russian pranksters are claiming credit for tricking Britain’s defence secretary into a hoax call with a man purporting to be Ukraine’s prime minister.

A video of the prank circulated on YouTube on Tuesday. It appeared after the U.K. accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government of backing efforts to secure sensitive or embarrassing information through hoax calls.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last week had a video call with someone he thought was Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. Instead, he was speaking to “Vovan and Lexus,” a pair of hoaxers who had previously targeted Britain’s Prince Harry.

The video shows Wallace speaking from Poland to a caller who says Ukraine wants to advance its “nuclear program” to protect itself from Moscow, something Russian state media has baselessly claimed in the past.

The Ministry of Defence said the video had been “doctored.” Wallace said last week that he ended the call after it strayed into sensitive subjects over a non-secure line.


MADRID — Authorities in Gibraltar have detained a superyacht linked to a Russian tycoon who is the target of British sanctions over Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Gibraltar is a tiny British overseas territory on the southernmost tip of the European mainland, bordering Spain.

According to Gibraltar’s public broadcaster, GBC, the yacht is called Axioma and is believed to be owned by Dmitrievich Pumpyansky. He is chairman of the board of directors of PJSC, a main steel pipe supplier for Russia’s oil and gas industry.

Pumpyansky was also included earlier this month in a European Union list of Russian sanctioned individuals.

The Gibraltar government said late Monday it would not have normally granted the vessel permission to enter its waters given its “ultimate beneficial ownership,” but that port authorities allowed it in after “it was confirmed to be the subject of an arrest action by a leading international bank in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar.” The statement didn’t specify the legal claims from creditors.

Yachts owned or linked to super-rich Russian oligarchs have been among the first assets seized or frozen by Western governments as part of their response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Authorities in Italy, France and Spain have impounded several luxury vessels in the crackdown.


ANKARA, Turkey — A second superyacht belonging to Chelsea soccer club owner and sanctioned oligarch Roman Abramovich reportedly has docked in a resort in southwestern Turkey.

Turkey has not imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine last month, nor has it frozen assets belonging to top Russian businessmen linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The private DHA news agency said Tuesday the Bermuda-registered Eclipse docked in the resort of Marmaris.

A day earlier, Abramovich’s Bermuda-flagged luxury yacht My Solaris arrived in the nearby resort of Bodrum, triggering a protest by a group of Ukrainians who boarded a small motorboat and tried to prevent the yacht from docking.

NATO member Turkey has close ties to both Russia and Ukraine. It has criticized Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but has also positioned itself as a neutral party trying to mediate between the two.


LONDON — Britain’s defence ministry says Russian forces have not managed to take over the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol despite weeks of bombardment and days of street fighting.

In an update posted on social media, U.K. officials say that “despite heavy fighting, Ukrainian forces continue to repulse Russian attempts to occupy” the city.

It says Russian forces have made “limited progress” elsewhere in Ukraine in the last day, and remain “largely stalled in place.”

The Ukrainian military said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were still defending Mariupol and destroyed a Russian patrol boat and electronic warfare complex. But the defence ministry said Russia for now controls the land corridor from Crimea, the peninsula it annexed in 2014, and is blocking Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov.


PARIS — France’s foreign ministry has announced that the country sent 55 metric tons (60 tons) of humanitarian aid to Ukraine via Poland, including computers, medical equipment, baby formula and generators.

The 2.4 million euros (US$2.6 million) in emergency aid was sent on an A330 cargo plane from Paris to Warsaw, the Polish capital, France said in a statement late Monday. It said that “in liaison with the Polish authorities, the material will be handed over to the Ukrainian authorities without delay.”

The medical equipment — which weighs some 10 metric tons (11 tons) — is said to include 10 oxygen generators designated for intensive care units in addition to 9 metric tons (10 tons) of medicines.

The aid includes 31 generators, six of which are high-capacity generators “aimed at strengthening the electrical safety of Ukrainian health facilities.”

Eight metric tons (9 tons) of computer and internet access material — such as smartphones, computers, routers and 60 kilometres (37 miles) of optical fibre — was also included in the package.


TOKYO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to virtually deliver his address to the Japanese parliament on Wednesday to rally international support for his country’s fight against Russian invasion.

Japan, unlike in the past, has been acting tough against Russia, in line with other Group of Seven countries, though Tokyo’s steps have triggered Moscow’s retaliation. A compromise could set a bad precedence in East Asia, where China is increasingly making assertive military actions.

Zelensky’s speech, expected to be about 10 minutes, will be shown in a meeting room at the lower house — the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber parliament which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida belongs to. Zelensky has made virtual addresses to the U.S. Congress, as well as parliaments in Europe, Canada, and Israel.

Foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, have delivered their addresses in person during visits to Japan as state guests, but an online speech by a foreign leader is unprecedented.

On Monday, Russia announced a decision to discontinue peace treaty talks with Japan over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects there, citing Tokyo’s sanctions against Russian invasion of Ukraine.


TOKYO — Japan denounced Russia on Tuesday over its decision to discontinue peace treaty talks over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects in retaliation for Tokyo’s sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two countries never signed a peace treaty formally ending Second World War hostilities because of their dispute over the Russian-held islands north of Hokkaido, which Moscow took at the end of the war.

“The latest situation has been all caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Tuesday. He called Russia’s response “extremely unjustifiable and absolutely unacceptable.”

Japan has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia in recent weeks, including freezing some individual assets, banning exports of luxury goods and high-technology equipment to the country and revoking Russia’s most favoured nation trade status.


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