Live updates: China says citizen shot and injured in Ukraine

The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

BEIJING — China says one of its citizens was shot and injured while evacuating from Ukraine.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the incident occurred on Tuesday while the person was leaving on their own. The Chinese Embassy in Kyiv immediately contacted the person to provide assistance.

Wang told reporters at a daily briefing that the injured person is out of danger. He said the embassy is following the person’s progress and will continue to provide aid.

Details surrounding the shooting are unclear, pointing to the chaotic situation as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and thousands of foreigners seek to escape the fighting.

Beijing has refused to criticize the Russian assault or even describe it as an invasion or war, arguing that NATO and the West had failed to properly address Russia’s “legitimate security concerns.”

As fighting erupted last week, the Foreign Ministry advised its citizens to display a Chinese flag on their vehicles when venturing out. Just two days later, it advised them instead to show no signs of Chinese nationality, apparently reflecting concerns over a hardening of anti-China rhetoric online.

In a phone call Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged Ukraine to fulfill its “international responsibility” in ensuring the safety of Chinese nationals.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Videos circulated online of an apparent attack on the regional police and intelligence headquarters in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. It shows a building with its roof blown off and its top floor on fire.

Pieces of the five-story building are strewn across adjacent streets.

The Ukrainian government’s center for strategic communications released images Wednesday of strikes hitting Kharkiv, with balls of fire lighting up the city skyline over populated areas.

Kharkiv resident Marina Boreiko described strikes hitting a neighboring building Tuesday, and her shock at seeing bodies lying in the rubble.

“Today I survived a bombing,” she told The Associated Press, repeatedly choking back tears.

“A Russian plane dropped a bomb on the house next door. My boyfriend and I were at home. We felt a strong whistle, and I realized it was flying toward us. We were in the corridor then, and we felt the explosion from there.”

As dust rose up, she said, “the first thing I heard was children crying. Our neighbors have three children and the only thing I was thinking about in that moment was, ‘God not them, please, only not them.’”

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BRUSSELS — The European Union is stepping up aid for Ukraine and is moving toward granting temporary protection to those fleeing Russia’s invasion.

The EU Commission announced Wednesday it will give temporary residence permits to the refugees and allow them rights to education and work in the 27-nation bloc.

The move still has to be approved by the member states, but they already expressed broad support over the weekend.

EU Commission President Urusla von der Leyen says “all those fleeing Putin’s bombs are welcome in Europe. We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home.”

On Tuesday, she already committed at least half a billion euros of the bloc’s budget to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed concern that Russian attacks could threaten holy religious sites and said Russian troops are trying to “erase our history.”

In a speech posted on Facebook, Zelenskyy on Wednesday denounced a Russian strike that hit Holocaust memorial site Babi Yar in Kyiv.

He said: “This is beyond humanity. Such missile strike means that for many Russians our Kyiv is absolute foreign. They know nothing about our capital, about our history. They have orders to erase our history, our country and all of us.”

“What will be next if even Babi Yar (is hit), what other ‘military’ objects, ‘NATO bases’ are threatening Russia? St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Lavra, Andrew’s Church?” he asked, referring to sites in Kyiv held sacred by Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox believers around the world.

Zelenskyy also claimed almost 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began last Thursday. Russia has not released overall casualty numbers and the figure could not be confirmed.

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LONDON — Britain’s defense secretary has pushed back against calls for NATO to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine, saying aircraft from both sides would be grounded and that could help Russia’s land forces.

Ben Wallace’s comments came a day after a Ukrainian journalist confronted Prime Minister Boris Johnson with questions about why NATO had failing to enforce a no-fly zone while civilians were being attacked from the air.

Wallace told Sky News: “You can still have fighting with a no-fly zone, it just won’t be in the air.”

He said that would allow Russian armored columns to drive around with impunity and not be struck from the air, where currently Ukrainian aircraft and unmanned air vehicles are causing damage on key parts of their logistical chain.

As Wallace was speaking Wednesday, the U.K. Defense Department released it latest intelligence assessment, saying that Russia continued heavy artillery and airstrikes on the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv in the last 24 hours.

It said Russian forces have reportedly moved into the center of the southern city of Kherson, but overall gains throughout the country have been limited. It said this is probably due to a combination of ongoing logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.

Wallace also reiterated British opposition to imposing a no-fly zone, saying that it would force NATO pilots to shoot down Russian aircraft, which could spark a wider European war.

He said, “How far does the British public want us to go against a nuclear armed power who may view escalation of all means? So I think we have to realistic here.”

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MOSCOW — Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed Wednesday that Russian aviation disabled the main TV tower in Ukraine’s capital in an airstrike, but said the attack did not hit any residential buildings.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov did not address deaths from Tuesday’s strike or damage to the adjacent Babi Yar memorial to Kyiv’s Holocaust victims. He said the attack was aimed at disabling Ukraine’s ability to stage “information attacks.”

Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations said the strikes on the TV tower killed five people and left five more wounded. Ukrainian television stations briefly went down after the strike but were later restored.

Konashenkov also said Russian forces had seized the southern city of Kherson. The claim could not immediately be confirmed.

Russian forces have faced tougher than expected resistance since invading Ukraine from three sides last week.

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MOSCOW — Leading Russian bank Sberbank announced Wednesday it is pulling out of European markets amid tightening Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The bank said its subsidiaries in Europe were facing an “abnormal outflow of funds and a threat to the safety of employees and branches,” according to Russian news agencies. They did not provide details of the threats.

Authorities in Austria and Czech Republic had taken actions in recent days against Sberbank’s activities in Europe.

The move was the latest consequence of Russia’s invasion last week, which has led to warfare across Ukraine and unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia’s economy.

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BOSTON — A firm that tracks cryptocurrency transactions says $33.8 million in the 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.

Chief Scientist Tom Robinson of Elliptic said most donations to date have been in bitcoin and ether. Some people are sending non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to the Ukrainian government’s ethereum account.

Ukraine issued a plea for contributions on Twitter last week. To date, it has received 30,000 donations, including $5.8 million from Gavin Wood, the British programmer who co-founded ethereum. There have been several other donations of more than $1 million.

Elliptic also warned of scammers tricking unsuspecting cryptocurrency holders wanting to donate to Ukrainian causes.

Elliptic is among firms that help law enforcement track cryptocurrency to combat money laundering.

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is working on a “focused tactical strategy” to make certain that cryptocurrency doesn’t become a mechanism that Moscow is able to utilize to avert sanctions, according to a senior administration official.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet to be announced move, did not detail an exact timeline for when the new steps on cryptocurrency would be unveiled, but said the area is one of several spaces that the Biden administration officials are looking to shore up as it looks to make certain that sanctions on Russia have maximum impact.

The official said past experiences in Iran and Venezuela with sanctions evasion are informing the administration’s efforts. Additional export controls and new sanction targets are also expected to be unveiled in the days and weeks ahead to counter Russian sanction evasion efforts, the official said.

Officials have already been on the lookout for the use and creation of front companies and alternative financial institutions that Moscow might try to employ to get around sanctions.

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TOKYO — Sony is donating $2 million as humanitarian aid to Ukraine though the United Nations Refugee Agency and aid group Save the Children.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment company has already said it will halt theatrical releases in Russia. Upcoming films include Morbius, starring the Marvel comics hero.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly,” Sony Pictures said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Mickey Mikitani, chief executive of Japanese online retailer Rakuten, donated 1 billion yen ($8.7 million) to the Ukrainian government through the embassy in Japan.

Separately, the Foreign Ministry said the Japanese embassy in Kyiv is closing temporarily, with operations transferred to an office in Lviv, western Ukraine.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden said in his first State of the Union address that the United States is closing its airspace to all Russian flights in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said the U.S. is working to seize yachts and apartments of Russian oligarchs.

Biden devoted the first 12 minutes of his address to Ukraine. Lawmakers of both parties repeatedly rose to their feet and applauded as he praised the bravery of Ukraine’s people and condemned Russia’s assault.

He warned of costs to the American economy, as well, but said that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine.

Biden declared that he and all members of Congress, whatever political differences there may be, were joined “with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”

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CHICAGO — Airplane manufacturer Boeing says it has suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed its office in Kyiv.

The company said in a statement it is also suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines.

“As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region,” the statement said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says it has evidence that Belarus, a Russian ally, is preparing to send troops into Ukraine.

The ministry statement, posted on Facebook at midnight, said the Belarussian troops have been brought into combat readiness and are concentrated close to Ukraine’s northern border.

“During the past 24 hours, according to intelligence findings, there has been significant aircraft activity. In addition, there has been movement of a column of vehicles with food and ammunition” approaching the border,” the statement said.

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IRVING, Texas — ExxonMobil says it will not invest in new developments in Russia because of Russian military attacks on Ukraine.

The company said in a statement it supports the people of Ukraine as they seek to “defend their freedom and determine their own future as a nation.”

ExxonMobil operates the Sakhalin-1 project on behalf of an international consortium of Japanese, Indian and Russian companies. The company says that in response to recent events, they are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture.

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KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian airstrike hit a residential area near a hospital late Tuesday in Zhytomyr, a city about 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Ukraine’s capital, Mayor Serih Sukhomlin said in a Facebook video.

Ukraine’s emergency services said the strike killed at least two people, set three homes on fire and broke the windows in the hospital.

Zhytomyr is the home of the elite 95th Air Assault Brigade, which may have been the intended target.

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CHICAGO — United Airlines said Wednesday it has stopped using Russian airspace for flights between the U.S. and Mumbai and Delhi in India.

An airline spokesperson called the move “temporary,” but gave no further details.

American Airlines has avoided Russian airspace for flights between Delhi and New York by flying south of Russia.

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