Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials. The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”
Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, have advanced closer to the city center in recent days despite the resistance, coming within about 9 miles as of Friday. Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Former US ambassador to Ukraine: ‘There’s no path to victory for Russia’
Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, doubted Russia’s ability to win the war it started, “because the Ukrainian people will continue to resist.” “Ukrainians are never going to turn back to Russia at this point — never,” she told ABC News. “Not after he has invaded them and destroyed their families and destroyed their livelihoods and destroyed their homes. It is appalling what he has done, all in the name of allegedly protecting people in Ukraine. “
While Yovanovitch said she does not believe a ceasefire is currently on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda, “It’s important to keep the lines of communication open.” “It’s important to keep on talking, at least hopefully to get humanitarian corridors set up so that people can, you know, can leave cities that are no longer habitable because of the barbaric aggressiveness of Russia,” said Yovanovitch, who served as ambassador to Ukraine under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, between 2016 and 2019.
Yovanovitch also said she believes that Trump was dismissive of Ukraine during his presidency, adding that his praise of Putin “emboldened” the Russian leader. “There’s no question that President Trump’s actions and his statements presumably emboldened Putin, and I think that Putin was getting what he needed from President Trump in terms of while our official policy was very strong with regard to supporting Ukraine,” she said.
UN to allocate $40 million for Ukraine relief
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has allocated $40 million “to ramp up aid agencies’ efforts to reach the most vulnerable people,” it announced in a press release Monday. “These funds are critical to get operations off the ground immediately,” U.N. OCHA chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement. “In the early days of our response, fast and flexible funding can make all the difference.”
The U.N. is also deploying staff to get food and medicines closer to those in need, according to the release. Griffiths described Mariupol, the eastern city being heavily bombed by Russia with hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped inside, as the “center of hell” in an interview with CNN on Monday.
“The most important priority … is to get civilians out,” Griffiths said.
International Court of Justice ruling on Russia expected Wednesday
The International Court of Justice will soon issue a ruling on allegations brought against Russia by Ukraine. Ukraine had launched a case against Russia at the United Nations’ highest court, located in Hague, The Netherlands, accusing Moscow of planning genocide.
Ukraine also asked the court to intervene to halt the invasion and to order Russia to pay reparations. The court will deliver the ruling at 11 a.m. EST on Wednesday, the U.N. announced in a press release.
‘‘Patients first,’ Pfizer CEO says of continuing *to send* supplies to Russia
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Monday defended the company’s decision to continue supplying medicine to Russia, saying “patients first.” The pharmaceutical company announced Monday that it would donate all profits from sales in Russia to Ukraine. Despite the hefty sanctions placed on Russia by countries around the world, Bourla said at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin that a humanitarian exemption to continue operations in Russia applies.
“Always with sanctions, medicines are excluded,” he said, citing other previous instances, including Iran. “We debated a lot what needs to be done, and we felt it’s so foundational in our principles that patients should come first that we cannot stop the flow of our medicines to Russia.” Bourla emphasized that medicine is not comparable to goods such as the latest smartphone, saying that treatments for conditions such as lung and metastatic breast cancer “can’t stop.”
However, Pfizer is not “continuing business as usual” in Russia, Bourla said.
“Though we will maintain the flow of the medicines, we will not make money out of it — all the profits of the Russian subsidiary going forward effective immediately will be donated to causes to alleviate the pain that the invasion is causing to Ukrainians.”
Fox News correspondent injured while reporting in Ukraine
Fox News State Department correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured while newsgathering near Kyiv on Monday, according to Suzanne Scott, CEO of Fox News Media. The circumstances were not immediately clear but Scott said Hall was hospitalized.
“Please keep Ben and his family in your prayers,” Scott said in a statement. Shaun Tandon, president of the State Department Correspondents’ Association, said in a statement, “We know Ben for his warmth, good humor and utmost professionalism. We wish Ben a quick recovery and call for utmost efforts to protect journalists who are providing an invaluable service through their coverage in Ukraine.”
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US warns China: No country will ‘get away with’ aiding Russia
While the State Department has declined to confirm reports that Russia has reached out to China for aid, State Department spokesman Ned Price is warning China that the U.S. is watching for any country that may come to Russia’s defense.
The U.S. delegation “raised directly and very clearly our concerns about the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China’s] support for Russia in the wake of the invasion and the implications that any such support would have for the PRC’s relationship not only with us, but for its relationships around the world,” Price said.
The U.S. is “watching very closely the extent to which the PRC or any other country for that matter provides any form of support — whether that’s material support, whether that’s economic support, whether that’s financial support for Russia,” he added.
He declined to say whether the U.S. and its allies are drawing up sanctions in case China provides strong support to Russia in violation of Western sanctions. But he said, “Any country that would seek to, attempt to bail Russia out of this economic, financial morass will be met with consequences. We will ensure that no country is able to get away with such a thing.”
During a United Nations Security Council briefing Monday, China appeared to align itself more closely with the Kremlin. “The final solution to the crisis in Ukraine is to take seriously and respect the reasonable security concerns of all states,” said Zhang Jun, China’s U.N. representative, repeating China’s assertion that Russia is reacting to legitimate threats to national security posed by Ukraine.
He continued, “The Cold War was over long ago. Cold War mentality based on bloc confrontation should be completely rejected. Sticking to hegemony mentality and provoking bloc confrontation will only bring the world disasters and exacerbate turmoil and division.” He also slammed the use of sanctions by the U.S. and it allies, arguing that these economic punishments would not solve the conflict, but create more international strife.
Mariupol residents evacuate during lull in violence
There was a lull in attacks by Russian forces on the coastal Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Monday, allowing the first mass civilian evacuation from the city, according to Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to the mayor.About 160 cars fled the city Monday, carrying what’s estimated to be hundreds of civilians, he said.
Heavy shelling and air bombardments impeded previous efforts to get civilians out and to allow for humanitarian supplies to be brought in. The Mariupol City Council reported Sunday that 2,187 residents had been killed since the start of the invasion. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said last week that the city was “beyond a humanitarian disaster,” with most roads destroyed, little communication with the outside and no power, gas or heat.
Russian violence getting ‘increasingly indiscriminate’: US official
The Russian military is trying to subdue population centers “using more and more long-range fires, which are increasingly indiscriminate in terms of what they’re hitting,” a senior U.S. defense official warned Monday. Russia has now launched more than 900 missiles against Ukraine, according to the official.
But the official said “almost all of Russia’s advances remain stalled.” The Russians closest to Kyiv are still near Hostomel Airport, about 9 miles from the city center. Some troops are moving in behind those advance forces, “but not at a great pace,” the official said.
The coastal city of Mariupol remains isolated and under heavy bombardment, with Russian forces to the north and east, though Ukrainians are continuing to fight back, the official said. Significant fighting continues over Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine, with Russians relying more and more on long-range missile attacks, the official said.
The official said the U.S. is seeing a new line of advance, with 50 to 60 vehicles moving from the southwest of Kharkiv down toward the town of Izyum. “The assessment is that they are trying to block off the Donbass area and to prevent the flow westward of any Ukrainian armed forces that would be in the eastern part of the country, prevent[ing] them from coming to the assistance of other Ukrainian defenders near Kyiv,” the official said.
Pfizer still delivering medicine to Russia but donating profits to Ukraine
Pfizer said it won’t stop delivering medicine to Russia, but will donate all profits from Russia to humanitarian support for Ukraine. Pfizer also said it won’t hold new trials in Russia and will stop recruiting new patients for its ongoing trials in the country.
Additionally, Pfizer said it “will cease all planned investments with local suppliers intended to build manufacturing capacity in the country.”
At least 636 civilians killed in Ukraine
At least 636 civilians have been killed and another 1,125 injured in Ukraine since the attack began last month, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said. These numbers are the verified deaths and injuries; actual death and injury figures are expected to be much higher, the OHCHR said.
Most of the casualties were due to explosive weapons impacting a wide area, including shelling, missiles and air strikes, the OHCHR said. Fourth round of Ukraine-Russia talks paused until Tuesday.Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has tweeted that Ukraine and Russia are taking a “technical pause” in negotiations until Tuesday.
While the first three rounds of talks were held in Belarus, this fourth round is being held remotely. “Negotiations continue,” Podolyak tweeted.
Zelenskyy to address Congress virtually on Wednesday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address U.S. lawmakers virtually at 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Only members of Congress will be allowed in the auditorium where Zelenskyy’s remarks will be broadcast, but the event will be livestreamed.
“The Congress remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face Putin’s cruel and diabolical aggression, and to passing legislation to cripple and isolate the Russian economy as well as deliver humanitarian, security and economic assistance to Ukraine,” the letter said. “We look forward to the privilege of welcoming President Zelenskyy’s address to the House and Senate and to convey our support to the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend democracy.”
More than 2.8 million have fled Ukraine: UN
More than 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded, the U.N. Refugee Agency said on Monday Monday’s update said more than 1.72 million people have crossed the border into Poland, but didn’t include updated figures for crossings into all the other countries that border Ukraine.
Rafal Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw, Poland, told The Telegraph on Saturday that his city’s ability to absorb refugees fleeing the Ukraine war was “at an end” and that the city would be overwhelmed unless an international relocation system was created.
“We are doing all we can but we cannot rely on improvisation anymore,” Trzaskowski told the newspaper. “We coordinate our work with other mayors in Poland and in Europe, and through this we send buses of refugees to other cities. But we are doing this on our own. We need a European relocation system which will organise it because it is a huge logistical enterprise. We can’t improvise anymore.”
Russian attacks will increase, may strike Lviv: US official
Russian attacks on Ukraine will increase, with the western city of Lviv among potential targets, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. Russian officials are convinced the city is being used to stage military operations and that some high ranking people are present. Russia may target the city, since “they want to create more terror,” an official said.
Russians have warned that anyone who supplies weapons to Ukraine, or offers safe haven, could be targeted.After Sunday’s attack near the Polish border, concern is growing over a possible strike in Poland, an official said. There are several areas in Poland where weapons are currently being staged or stored.
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Ukraine, Russia to begin 4th round of talks
A fourth round of talks between Russia and Ukraine are due to begin on Monday, following optimistic comments from both sides over the weekend that they are moving towards a compromise. Both sides have confirmed the latest round of the talks will take place today — the previous three rounds were held in Belarus, but these will take place remotely.
On Sunday, one of Russia’s negotiators, an MP Leonid Slutsky told Russian media that he believed “substantial progress” had been made and that he believed that progress could even “grow into a unified position” in documents for signing in the next few days.
Ukraine’s chief negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, in interviews and videos posted on Twitter on Sunday also said that Russia “looks at the situation far more properly” and has stopped throwing out “ultimatums.” Podolyak told the Russian newspaper Kommersant the sides were discussing concrete proposals and that the key issue was “security guarantees” for both Russia and Ukraine. He said the sides were discussing a cease-fire, as well as compensation to Ukraine’s infrastructure destroyed during the war. But he did say that “some time is still needed” for Russia to understand the reality of its situation.
The comments have raised hopes Russia may be lowering its war aims as a result of the fierce Ukrainian resistance and tough response from Western countries. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told Fox News on Sunday that the U.S. also sees Russia is showing signs of a “willingness to have real, serious negotiations.”
But is unclear where the compromise might be found.
Last week, Russia was insisting that Ukraine change is constitution to guarantee it will not join NATO or the European Union. Ukraine had signalled that was not possible but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hinted there might be some negotiating space around NATO, which he has acknowledged Ukraine is not close to joining.
In a video posted to Twitter Monday morning before the start of the talks, Podolyak said Ukraine’s positions were “unchanged”: it was demanding an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops. He said only after that could any political settlements be discussed.
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Russia asks China for military support, US official says
Russia has asked China for military support and other aid in the time since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. China and Russia recently strengthened their partnership, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has stood by Russian President Vladimir Putin as he’s bombarded Ukraine.
On Sunday, President Joe Biden’s top national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said during an interview with CNN that the U.S. was “watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia.”
“It is a concern of ours,” Sullivan said, adding that the U.S. has communicated to Beijing that it will “not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions.” Sullivan is planning to meet a top Chinese official in Rome on Monday.
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