Live updates: US official: UN to vote on Russia resolution
The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis:
UNITED NATIONS — A senior U.S. official says the U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a resolution condemning Russia in the strongest terms possible for attacking Ukraine and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all its forces — knowing that Russia will veto the legally binding measure.
The United States believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia’s international isolation, and emphasizes that the veto will be followed quickly by a resolution in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly where there are no vetoes, the official said Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
“This is a first step in how the U.N. responds to this premeditated war of choice that Russia has chosen to take, and we will see action in the General Assembly in the coming days,” he said, adding that it is part of a much broader, coordinated response that includes steps the Biden administration and its allies are taking.
The resolution is drafted under Article 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can be enforced militarily, according to the official.
By Edith M. Lederer
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he was “forced” to order a military action in Ukraine because of the Western refusal to heed Russian security demands.
Speaking at a Kremlin meeting with businesspeople Thursday, Putin said the military action was a “forced measure” that stemmed from rising security risks for Russia.
He said that he was surprised by the West’s “intransigence” regarding Moscow’s security demands. “I was surprised that didn’t move a millimeter on any issue,” he said. “They have left us no chance to act differently.”
Turning to Western sanctions, he said “Russia remains part of the global economy and isn’t going to hurt the system that it is part of as long as it remains there.”
“Our partners should realize that and not set a goal to push us out of the system,” he said in an apparent warning to the West.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensnkyy has urged Moscow to end hostilities, adding that Russian airborne troops have been checked outside Kyiv.
“It wasn’t Ukraine that chose the path of war, but Ukraine is offering to go back to the path of peace,” he said Thursday.
He said a Russian airborne force in Hostomel airport outside Kyiv, which has a big runway, has been stopped and is being destroyed.
The Ukrainian leader said many Russian warplanes and armored vehicles were destroyed but didn’t give numbers. He also said an unspecified number of Russian troops was captured.
He said a difficult situation is developing in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city just over 20 kilometers from the Russian border. In the north the Russians are slowly advancing toward Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said.
He appealed to global leaders, saying that “if you don’t help us now, if you fail to offer strong assistance to Ukraine, tomorrow the war will knock on your door.”
BERLIN — Group of Seven leaders have strongly condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The German government, which currently heads the G7, put out a joint statement after a virtual leaders’ meeting Thursday, vowing to bring “forward severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions.”
It called “on all partners and members of the international community to condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, and raise their voice against this blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international peace and security.”
HELSINKI — Baltic NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have received the first batches of U.S. military troops and equipment promised this week by U.S. President Joe Biden in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
An undisclosed number of U.S. F-35 fighters landed Thursday afternoon at NATO’s air base in Amari, near Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Estonian media reported. F-35 fighters were reported to have arrived also at NATO’s air base in Lithuania.
On Wednesday evening, the first 40 American soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in Latvia, Latvian media reported.
A senior U.S. defense official says Thursday’s attack by Russia appears to be the first phase in what will likely be a multiple phased, large-scale invasion.
The official said it began around 9:30 p.m. U.S. eastern time, with land- and sea-based missile launches. The official said that roughly more than 100 missiles, primarily short-range ballistic missiles, but also medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and sea-launched missiles, were launched in the first few hours of the attack.
The official said the Russians are moving on three axes: From Crimea to Kherson, from Belarus toward Kyiv, and from the northeast to Kharkiv.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it’s not clear how many Russian troops are in Ukraine now, and the main targets of the air assault have been barracks, ammunition warehouses, and 10 airfields. The official said Russian ground forces began to move in to Ukraine from Belarus around 5 a.m. Eastern time.
By Lolita C. Baldor in Washington D.C.
LONDON — Hundreds of protesters have gathered in London to urge Britain and other democracies to step up action against Russia.
Ukrainians living in the U.K. and activists gathered outside Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office Thursday, singing the Ukrainian national anthem.
Natalia Ravlyuk, who helped organize the protest, said they wanted the “toughest sanctions and total isolation of Russia now.”
“We … feel betrayed by democratic states because we have been talking about this war for eight years,” she said. “They just need to wake up and stop Putin now.”
Earlier dozens of protesters also gathered outside the Russian embassy in London.
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations migration agency says it’s ready to respond to emerging humanitarian needs in Ukraine.
Antonio Vitorino, director general of the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, said: “IOM … is committed to staying and delivering vital assistance to the people of Ukraine.”
“Eight years of conflict in Ukraine have displaced over 1.4 million people who now rely on assistance to meet their daily needs,” he said in a statement. “This escalation will only deepen the humanitarian needs and compound the suffering of millions of families.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.
The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been decommissioned.
Zelenskyy said on Twitter that “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.” He added that “this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
BUCHAREST, Romania — The interior ministry in Moldova, which shares a long border with Ukraine, says the country has set up two temporary centers to manage an influx of refugees.
The ministry said the centers, in Palanca and Ocnita in northern Moldova, are meant to “provide basic humanitarian, legal and food assistance to immigrants” for a period of 72 hours.
It said that the border has “been crossed by 6,937 people, of which 3,000 are Ukrainian citizens,” but didn’t specify over what period.
BOSTON — Ukraine’s cybersecurity service has reported continuing cyberattacks and said cellular networks were saturated with voice calls, suggesting people used text-messaging.
A distributed-denial-of-service attack that knocked some government websites offline Wednesday continued and there were sporadic internet outages across the country, said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for the U.S. network management firm Kentik Inc.
Measures to blunt the attacks were having some success, however, as major government websites including the defense and interior ministries were reachable Thursday.
Madory said Ukraine’s internet was “under severe stress presently.” Some cybersecurity experts said prior to the invasion that it might be in the Kremlin’s intelligence — and information war — interests not to try to take down Ukraine’s internet during a military attack.
Ukraine’s cybersecurity service published a list on its Telegram channel of known “active disinformation” channels to avoid.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and for the first time laid responsibility directly on Moscow for the tensions and violence in Hungary’s eastern neighbor.
A member of the European Union and NATO that borders Ukraine, Hungary under Orban has pursued close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a point of concern for many of Hungary’s western partners.
Orban said Thursday that the number of Ukrainian refugees approaching Hungary’s borders was likely to grow. He said Hungary is “prepared to care for them and will be able to meet this challenge quickly and effectively.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military chief says Ukrainian troops are fighting the Russian army in the north and the south.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi said a battle was raging Thursday near the Hostomel air base 7 kilometers (less than 5 miles) northwest of the capital, Kyiv.
He said that in the south, fighting was going on near Henichesk, Skadovsk and Chaplynka.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister has offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but stopped short of issuing a public condemnation of Russia’s attack.
Naftali Bennett said “our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine, who got into this situation without any wrongdoing on their part” during a speech Thursday.
Earlier in the day Israel’s foreign minister issued a formal condemnation of Russia’s attack.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is still holding out hope for negotiations after Russia attacked Ukraine.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in a statement that “there is still time for good will, there is still room for negotiation, there is still room for the exercise of a wisdom that prevents the prevalence of partisan interests, protects the legitimate aspirations of each and saves the world from the madness and horrors of war.”
The Vatican has been loth to call out Russia by name, for fear of antagonizing the Russian Orthodox Church, a key focus of Francis’ ecumenical efforts.
The Vatican issued Parolin’s statement as the head of the largest eastern rite church in communion with Rome, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was in a bomb shelter under the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kiev along with many other people, his office in Rome said.
MOSCOW — Russia’s Defense Ministry says the Russian military has destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 air bases.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered that Ukrainian servicemen be treated “with respect” and those who lay down their weapons offered safe corridors.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the loss of a Su-25 attack jet due to “pilot error.”
BERLIN — The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has expanded its recommendations following the Russian attack on Ukraine to warn operators against flying over Moldova and Belarus and “exercise caution” over large parts of Russia.
EASA already had warned of high risks to civilian aircraft over Ukraine early Thursday morning. In an update, it cited a notice issued by Moldova closing its airspace for all flights due to the Ukrainian crisis.
It pointed to “a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft.”
It said operators also should “exercise caution” when operated in airspace controlled by Moscow and Rostov-on-Don in Russia “due to heightened military activity which may include launches of mid-range missiles penetrating into controlled airspace.”
BERLIN — Germany’s economy minister says the country is putting in place additional measures to safeguard its energy supply amid the escalating tensions with Russia.
Germany gets about half of its natural gas and coal and about a third of its oil from Russia.
Robert Habeck told reporters in Berlin Thursday that measures already taken to fill gas reserves would ensure that “we will get safely through the winter.”
“Further measures have been put in place for the next winter”, he said, including legally requiring the owners of gas storage facilities in Germany to fill them during the summer.
Habeck said Germany’s national oil reserve would be sufficient for 90 days, should that need to be tapped.
BRUSSELS — A top European Union official is pledging to make Russia suffer with “massive and targeted sanctions” that will particularly hit the country’s elite.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the package of EU measures will include financial sanctions that will severely limit Russia’s access to the capital markets and have a severe impact on all sectors of its economy.
She said ahead of an EU summit Thursday that “these sanctions will suppress Russia’s economic growth, increase the borrowing costs, raise inflations, intensify capital outflow and gradually erode its industrial basis.”
Von der Leyen said the package also will aim to limit Russia’s access to crucial technologies.
She said that “our measures will weaken Russia technological positions in key areas, actually from which the elite makes most of their money.” She cited high-tech components and “cutting-edge software.”
WARSAW, Poland — Parliament in Poland, a nation on NATO’s eastern flank which borders Ukraine and Belarus, strongly denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Lawmakers approved by acclamation a statement condemning Russia. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday will go down in history as “the day Russia chose war,” attacking another nation for no reason.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski sought to assure Poland that, as a NATO member, the country is safe.
Brzezinski noted in an interview on TVN24 television that there are now 10,000 U.S. soldiers in Poland. More than half were deployed in recent weeks amid the Russian threats.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway’s prime minister says a planned NATO drill in Norway next month “was not a response to the events in Ukraine.”
From March 13, Norway is scheduled to host the Cold Response exercise with thousands of NATO troops taking part. The exercise has been planned for months and Russia was invited to observe it.
The Scandinavian country shares a nearly 200-kilometer (124-mile) land border with Russia.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said that Norway has long managed to maintain a pragmatic neighborly relationship. He said that “we will continue to have contacts” with Russia.
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron says France and its European allies did everything to try to head off the attack on Ukraine. He said that they will show “no weakness” in their response.
Macron said in a televised address to the nation Thursday that Russia’s attack is a “turning point in European history” and as a result “there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives.”
He said that “to this act of war, we will reply without weakness, we will reply calmly and in a determined and united manner.”
“We have tried everything to avoid this war but it is here and we are ready,” Macron said.
He said that sanctions will be “proportionate” to Russia’s military operations, targeting its economy and its energy sector.
“We will show no weakness,” Macron said. “We will take all measures necessary to defend the sovereignty and stability of our European allies.”
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Slovak government has authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 soldiers to the border with Ukraine following Russia’s attack.
The defense ministry said Thursday they will be used if there is a massive wave of refugees.
The government said Slovakia is also ready to open more border crossings with Ukraine if needed.
Slovania last week lifted all coronavirus restrictions for potential refugees coming from Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion.
ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made dialogue with Moscow “impossible.” He is demanding that Putin “immediately stop the bloodshed and withdraw military forces.”
Speaking after an urgent Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Draghi said Russia’s operation “concerns all of us, our way of living freely, our democracy.”
He said Italy, which has kept its embassy in Kyiv open, fully supported “very strong” sanctions against Russia and was coordinating with NATO and EU allies to beef up security on NATO’s eastern flank. He said that “we are reinforcing our already significant contribution to the military deployments in all the most directly exposed Allied countries.”
HELSINKI — Latvian authorities say three Russian television channels will have their right to broadcast in Latvia suspended for several years with immediate effect.
They cited the channels’ incitement to hatred against Ukraine, justification of war and spreading of disinformation on Ukraine, Latvia and other countries.
Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council said Thursday that there will be a ban on broadcasts of the Rossija RTR channel for five years, Rossija 24 channel for four years and TV Centr International for three years.
European Union and NATO member Latvia is urging other European nations to make a similar decision.
GENEVA — The head of the U.N. refugee agency is warning of “devastating consequences” of Russia’s military action in Ukraine and calling on neighboring countries to keep their borders open for people fleeing the fighting.
Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, pointed to “reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety” without elaborating.
He said in a statement that UNHCR had stepped up its operations and capacity in Ukraine and its neighboring countries, without providing details.
KYIV, Ukraine — Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says that “Russia’s key goal is clear: to oust the Ukrainian leadership and stir up as much panic as possible.”
Podolyak said Thursday the Russians “want to cut off part of the country and they moving in in big convoys.”
He said that “we are seeing attempts to estabilize the situation in big cities, including Kyiv and Kharkiv.”
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Russia’s military actions in Ukraine violate international laws and amount to a “heavy blow” to regional peace and stability.
In an address to an international gathering in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey — which has enjoyed close ties to both Russia and Ukraine — “sincerely regrets” that the two countries are confronting each other.
“We reiterate our call for a resolution of the problems between Russia and Ukraine, with which we have deep historical ties and friendly relations, through dialogue, within the framework of Minsk agreements,” Erdogan said. He was referring to deals that aimed to restore peace in eastern Ukraine.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin has “unleashed war in our European continent” and Britain “cannot and will not just look away.”
In a televised address Thursday, Johnson said the U.K. and its allies will agree a “massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.”
“Our mission is clear: diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure,” Johnson said.
He is expected to give more details about new sanctions later Thursday.
GENEVA — The head of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-nuclear group says a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin to anyone who might meddle in Russia’s attack on Ukraine amounted to a threat to “launch a nuclear war.”
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was referring to the Russian leader’s comments as the attack began that “whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”
Fihn, whose group won the Nobel prize in 2017, said Russia had manufactured a “false justification” for its military action in Ukraine and said Putin’s warning was “basically to launch a nuclear war.”
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president has condemned Russia’s “reprehensible” attack on Ukraine and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “threatens the peace of the entire planet.”
Romania borders Ukraine and is a member of NATO and the European Union. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that Russia “chose the reprehensible and completely illegal path of massive armed violence against an independent and sovereign state.”
Iohannis said that Romania, a country of about 19.5 million people, is ready to deal with economic and humanitarian consequences that the conflict could generate.
PRAGUE — Czech President Milos Zeman, who has been a leading pro-Russian voice among European Union leaders, has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an unprovoked act of aggression.”
Zeman said in an address to the nation that “Russia has committed a crime against peace.”
A week ago, Zeman said that warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine were a failure by CIA. He said repeatedly he didn’t believe Russian wanted to attack Ukraine.
“I admit I was wrong,” Zeman said Thursday. “An irrational decision by the leadership of the Russian Federation will cause significant damages to the Russian state.”
BRUSSELS — NATO’s secretary-general says Russia has launched war on Ukraine and shattered peace on the European continent.
Jens Stoltenberg called for a summit of NATO alliance leaders for Friday.
Stoltenberg said that “this is a deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion.” And he charged that “Russia is using force to try to rewrite history.”
Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine earlier Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling. Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border.
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