Ukraine: Russia may resume talks; 660K refugees flee


How the Russia-Ukraine conflict really started

The dissolution of the USSR was just the beginning of the conflict. Here’s why Russia has been vying for control over Ukraine ever since.


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its seventh day Wednesday as Russian military forces escalated attacks on civilian areas of Ukraine’s largest, leading to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the country,

President Joe Biden, in his State of the Union speech to Americans on Tuesday night, warned that if Russian leader Vladimir Putin didn’t “pay a price” for the invasion, the aggression wouldn’t stop with one country.

On Tuesday, there were attacks on the central square in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called “undisguised terror.”

A deadly bombing of a TV tower in Kyiv, the capital, on Tuesday, killed five people, Ukrainian authorities said. A TV control room and power substation were hit, and at least some Ukrainian briefly stopped broadcasting channels, officials said.

The humanitarian situation is worsening in the region. A UN refugee agency said about 660,000 people have fled Ukraine for countries since the invasion began. Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the situation “looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century.”

The vast majority of those leaving Ukraine are women and children — an order from Ukraine’s government prohibits men aged 18- to 60-years-old from leaving the country.

Observers say Russian troops have killed hundreds of civilians, including more than a dozen children, and shelled apartment and neighborhoods in their assault on Ukraine, realities that qualify buildings as a war criminal.

Latest updates:

► The UN General Assembly will vote Wednesday on a resolution demanding that Russia immediately stop using force against Ukraine and withdraw its military from the country, and condemning Moscow’s decision “to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces.”

► The Moscow Stock Exchange will remain closed to trading Wednesday, the Central Bank of Russia said, as the West’s economic sanctions crackered the Russian ruble.

► Oil prices soared above $100, to their highest level since 2014, and investors shifted more money out of stocks and into ultra-safe US government bonds as Russia stepped up its war on Ukraine.

► A firm that tracks cryptocurrency transactions says $33.8 million in digital currency has been donated to Ukraine’s government and non-governmental organizations there since the start of Russia’s invasion, nearly a third of it on Tuesday.

► Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, said in a statement it has stopped running all advertising in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and is halting ad sales to all Russian and Belarusian entities.

TRACKING THE INVASION: Satellite images, surveillance footage, social media posts show the latest on the war in Ukraine

Russian negotiators are ready to resume talks with Ukrainian officials but cannot “predict whether Ukrainian negotiators will show up or not,” Kremlin, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.

“Let’s hope this happens,” Peskov said. “Ours will be there and ready.”

Peskov said Putin’s culture adviser Vladimir Medinsky remains the main negotiator for Russia. Talks held Sunday near the Belarus-Ukraine border produced no breakthrough, though the two sides agreed to meet again. It was clear when, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused the Kremlin of trying to force him into concessions by intensifying the invasion.

“Fair negotiations can occur when one side does not hit the other side with artillery at the very moment of negotiations,” he said.

President Joe Biden hailed the united response of the US and western allies against Russian President Vladimir Putin during his State of the Union address Tuesday night as Russia continues its war in Ukraine.

Biden called the attack “premeditated and totally unprovoked,” adding that Putin thought he could divide the world. But Putin was wrong. We are ready. We are united,” Biden said. “Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.”

Biden said the US and western allies are enforcing “powerful economic sanctions,” including cutting off Russia’s largest banks from international financial systems, preventing Russia’s central bank from shoring up the Russian ruble and “making Putin’s $260 billion war fund worthless.”

He announced the US is closing off airspace to all Russian flights, joining a growing number of countries around the world that have made similar moves in recent days. Biden also said he is working with 30 countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world to ease the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy markets.

— Joey Garrison

NEWS COMES TO YOU: The latest updates on the situation in Ukraine. Sign up here.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described Russian President Vladimir Putin’s overnight attack on in civilian areas of Kharkiv as a “war crime.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague said he plans to open an investigation “as rapidly as possible” into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

“Is Vladimir Putin committing a war crime? Yes. It’s very clear,” said David Schwendiman, a former senior justice department lawyer and international war crimes prosecutor.

But war crime experts say the post-World War II to create an international framework to thwart brutal dictators like Adolf Hitler is too toothless, caught up in power politics and focused on war crimes already committed to make a difference when it comes to Russia’s invasion , they say. Read more here.

— Josh Meyer

WHAT ARE WAR CRIMES?Ukraines Russia of them, but what exactly constitutes a war crime?

President Joe Biden announced the state of the Union address Tuesday night that the US is closing its airspace to Russian planes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The US joins a growing list of countries that have announced plans to close their airspace to Russian aircraft in response to the invasion. The European Union took that step Sunday after several European countries, including France, Italy and Denmark, announced the move.

Canada also joined the international move to cut off Russian aircraft.

— Michael Collins and Courtney Subramanian

The war has thrown a global spotlight on Ukraine’s two largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Kyiv’s (KEE-ev) population of 2.7 million people would make it the third largest in the US slightly ahead of Chicago. The city covers 330 square miles – bigger than Chicago or New York, about the size of San Diego.

Kyiv is in north-central Ukraine, not far from the borders with Russia and Belarus. Ukrainian and Russian are commonly spoken in the city, among the oldest in Eastern Europe.

Kharkiv (kar-KEEV), 300 miles east of Kyiv and near the Russian border, has a population of about 1.4 million spread over about 135 square miles – about the size of Philadelphia, which has a population of about 1.5 million.

The country of Ukraine has a population of about 45 million people, a few million more than California, and is about 233,000 square miles – a bit smaller than Texas.

— John Bacon

The 40-mile Russian Army convoy approaching Kyiv has made little progress because of resistance and a lack of gas and food, according to a senior US Defense Department official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence findings.

The official said the Russians also are likely protecting the convoy, explaining why it does not appear to have been attacked. The airspace over Ukraine continues to be contested by Ukrainian and Russian forces, the official said.

There are also signs that there are morale problems among Russian troops, many of whom have been drafted into service, the official said, declining to say how the Pentagon has made that assessment. Many of the soldiers are young men who have not been thoroughly trained or even aware why they were sent to Ukraine.

The Russians, however, have a potent force in and around Ukraine, the official said.

The Russians have systems capable of launching thermobaric weapons in Ukraine, the official said. Those fuel-air weapons are used primarily to kill people on the ground or in bunkers.

— Tom Vanden Brook

USA TODAY FACT CHECK ROUNDUP: What’s true and what’s false about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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