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EU barring seven Russian banks from SWIFT and increasing aid for Ukraine, plans to give refugees ability to work, go to school in the 27-nation bloc

This digest has now been archived. Find the latest Russia-Ukraine updates here.

Ukrainian refugees queue to file for residency permits at Prague's foreigner police headquarters on March 2, 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic.AFP Contributor#AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has invaded Ukraine. Here are the latest updates:

This is Wednesday’s live update file. Follow today’s news

  • Members of a Territorial Defence unit prepare to deploy to various parts of the city in Kyiv, Ukraine.Chris McGrath/Getty Images

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Editor’s note: Live coverage on this story has ended. Please follow our latest coverage here.

1:58 a.m. ET

Kyiv suffers another night of airstrikes

Overnight, Associated Press reporters in Kyiv heard at least one explosion before videos started circulating of apparent strikes on the capital. The targets were not immediately clear.

A statement from the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces didn’t address the strikes, saying only that Russian forces were “regrouping” and “trying to reach the northern outskirts” of the city.

“The advance on Kyiv has been rather not very organized and now they’re more or less stuck,” said military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told the AP in Moscow.

In a videotaped address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Ukrainians to keep up the resistance. He vowed that the invaders would have “not one quiet moment” and described Russian soldiers as “confused children who have been used.”

-The Associated Press

1:17 a.m. ET

Russian gas flows via Yamal pipeline to Germany decline sharply

Russian westbound gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Germany from Poland have declined sharply on Thursday, data from the Gascade pipeline operator showed.

Russian energy supplies have been in spotlight amid Kremlin’s tensions with the West and invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Russian gas accounts for some 40% in European gas market, while Yamal - Europe pipeline usually accounts for about 15% of Russia’s westbound supply of gas to Europe and Turkey.

According to the data, gas supplies fell to mere 598,712 kilowatt-hours per hour (kWh/h) on Thursday morning from around 17.5 million kWh/h previously at Mallnow metering point.


12:31 a.m. ET

Fitch, Moody’s slash Russia’s sovereign rating to junk

Ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s downgraded Russia by six notches to “junk” status, saying Western sanctions threw into doubt its ability to service debt and would weaken the economy.

Russia’s financial markets have been thrown into turmoil by sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine, the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

The invasion has triggered a flurry of credit rating moves and dire warnings about the impact on Russia’s economy. S&P lowered Russia’s rating to junk status last week.

It also prompted index providers FTSE Russell and MSCI to announce on Wednesday that they will remove Russian equities from all their indexes, after a top MSCI executive earlier this week called Russia’s stock market “uninvestable.”


12:27 a.m. ET

Sanctions complicate Russian COVID-19 vaccine orders

A South Korean pharmaceutical company manufacturing Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine says it’s bracing for business complications as the U.S.-led West escalates sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

Recently expanded U.S. sanctions include targeted measures against the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund run by a close ally of President Vladmir Putin that globally markets the Sputnik vaccines.

Kim Gi-young, an official from Seoul-based GL Rapha, said the sanctions won’t directly impede its production of the shots as the measures aren’t aimed at essential medical supplies.

However, the company is concerned about potential problems rising from the financial side as South Korea joins the United States and many European countries in a move to cut off key Russian banks from global payment systems.

-The Associated Press

12:13 a.m. ET

Hospital in Belarus reports receiving wounded Russian soldiers

A string of seven bus-size Russian military ambulances — their windows blocked with gray shades — pulled up to the back entrance of the main hospital about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the border with Ukraine on Tuesday evening, ferrying casualties from the front.

The convoy was part of what residents and doctors said has in recent days become a steady flow of Russian soldiers wounded in fierce fighting around Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where a Russian advance has stalled in the face of strong resistance.

A doctor at the hospital, which is in southern Belarus’s Gomel region, a main staging ground for Russia’s offensive — said injured Russian troops began arriving on Monday. “I hope they don’t jail me for sharing this,” she said.

-The Associated Press

11:50 p.m. ET

Opinion: The crisis in Ukraine is pulling monetary policy in multiple directions

In finally launching a cycle of interest rate increases, the Bank of Canada all but admitted that the move was overdue. But with the war in Ukraine pulling monetary policy in opposite directions, there’s still a hint of hesitation in the central bank’s words.

The quarter-percentage-point rate hike was both well-telegraphed and widely anticipated, but it was, nevertheless, a pretty momentous occasion.

The Canadian economy has fully recovered from the COVID-19 recession much faster than the bank had anticipated. The combination has made rate hikes both inevitable and essential – not just the single increase announced Wednesday, but, in all likelihood, a series of increases over the next year or more.

But some hesitance remains in Wednesday’s decision. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown a whole set of new and fast-changing variables into the mix.

The conflict already looks like the driver of still more inflation: Uncertainty over the security of oil and natural gas supplies from Russia have sent crude prices skyrocketing more than 20 per cent since last Friday. On the other hand, if supply interruptions and shortages were to occur in Europe, the implication is certainly negative for output, business confidence, consumption and investment – it would be a major drag on global growth.

-David Parkinson

10:34 p.m. ET

Plane carrying Russian nationals grounded in N.W.T., says infrastructure minister

The Northwest Territories’ infrastructure minister says a plane carrying Russian nationals on its way to the High Arctic was grounded Tuesday in Yellowknife.

Diane Archie told the legislature Wednesday that the plane appeared to be on its way to Resolute, Nunavut, with people who were planning to take an overland expedition in a large all-terrain utility vehicle.

Canada closed its airspace to Russian-owned or operated aircraft on Sunday following President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

Archie says federal authorities were informed of the landing and it was being investigated by Transport Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Transport Canada said in a statement late Wednesday that the charter aircraft that landed in Yellowknife was carrying two Russian foreign nationals.

Transport Canada says it will review whether there has been any violation of the recently announced notice prohibiting Russian aircraft that are owned, charted, or certified from operating in Canadian airspace.

-The Canadian Press

10:34 p.m. ET

Big tech’s response to Russia likely to set precedent, experts say

The world’s largest technology companies are taking extraordinary measures amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – far beyond any steps they have made in previous geopolitical conflicts.

Apple has halted the sale of all products in Russia, taking down Apple Pay services and restricting access to Kremlin-controlled news outlets such as RT and Sputnik. The U.S.-based tech giant has also stopped displaying live-traffic features for Apple Maps, after a move by Google parent Alphabet Inc. this week to temporarily disable similar functions on Google Maps.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) has activated satellite service in Ukraine through its Starlink system to safeguard the country’s broadband internet during the conflict. Microsoft Corp. said it is helping protect Ukraine from cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns and providing the country with humanitarian assistance.

Spotify said on Wednesday it has closed its office in Russia indefinitely and Inc is using its logistics capability to get supplies to those in need and cybersecurity expertise to help governments and companies as part of its support for Ukraine, Chief Executive Andy Jassy said on Twitter on Wednesday.

-Temur Duranni, Reuters

10:04 p.m. ET

As Ukraine’s health care system faces mounting pressure, Canadian medical and humanitarian organizations respond

When Nataliia Haidash’s friend, a nurse, told her she would be returning to help their native Ukraine, Ms. Haidash knew there was little use in arguing.

“She told us she wanted to be a nurse in a Ukrainian hospital because that’s where she’s needed most now,” an emotional Ms. Haidash said in an interview on Wednesday. “We tried to reason with her, we tried to tell her let’s do something here, let’s not rush. But when she decided, she did everything in her power to get the tickets as fast as possible.”

Ms. Haidash and others began soliciting donations and, within 24 hours, they had amassed nearly 50 pounds of medical supplies including gauze, tourniquets and emergency blankets, filling the nurse’s suitcases.

On Monday, the nurse boarded a flight bound for Poland. By Wednesday, she had reached southern Ukraine by bus and connected with local volunteers, Ms. Haidash said.

Other Canadians wanting to get involved are doing so indirectly. After considering going to Ukraine himself, Vish Vadlamani of Delta, B.C., decided that it would be more worthwhile to fund any Canadian with combat or medical experience looking to go, with airline credits from a trip that he had cancelled because of COVID-19.

The offers of help come as Ukraine’s health care system faces mounting pressure a week into Russia’s invasion. Humanitarian access is being impeded, medical supplies are running low and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health has issued an urgent plea for foreign health care workers to help.

-Andrea Woo in Vancouver

9:50 p.m. ET

Canadian fund managers likely facing uphill battle to sell their shares in Russian companies

More than a dozen Canadian fund managers hold shares of Russian companies that have been on Canada’s trading sanctions list since 2015, but money managers may struggle to find buyers as they now seek to eliminate their exposure to the rogue nation.

The asset management divisions of several banks and two of Canada’s largest insurers are among the fund managers that have the Russian stocks in their mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Independent fund giants AGF Investments, IGM Financial Inc., Fidelity Investments Canada ULC and Vanguard Investments Canada Inc. also hold Russian stocks in their funds.

No ETFs or mutual funds in Canada are made up entirely of Russian stocks, but fund managers still have exposure to the country in their emerging markets funds, particularly those that concentrate on Eastern Europe.

The holdings include stocks in several companies listed in Canada’s Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations, developed in 2015 after Russia invaded Crimea in Ukraine. Managers also hold stock in Russian companies that are not included under the Canadian regulations.

The 2015 regulations prohibited participation in new debt or equity financings of more than a dozen Russian companies, including large banks and energy companies that trade on international stock exchanges: Gazprom; Sberbank of Russia; Novatek; Rosneft Oil Co.; Transneft;, Surgutneftegas; and VTB Bank.

The financing regulations didn’t apply to shares owned before the companies were added to the list, meaning the Canadian investors could keep their stakes after the restrictions were announced.

However, the widespread international condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made holding those stocks reputationally toxic, even if it is legal.

-Clare O’Hara, David Milstead

8:50 p.m. ET

U.S. preparing further sanctions against Russian oligarchs

The United States is preparing a sanctions package targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as their companies and assets, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Some sanctions could be announced as early as this week, one of the sources told Reuters, adding that details are still being worked out. Washington is also readying sanctions against more officials in Putin’s inner circle, the source said.

Washington has repeatedly warned that it was prepared to impose further costs on wealthy Russians. The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday launched a task force known as “KleptoCapture” aimed at straining the finances of Russia’s oligarchs.

- Reuters

8:39 p.m. ET

China asked Russia to delay war until after Olympics, U.S. officials say

A Western intelligence report said senior Chinese officials told senior Russian officials in early February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, according to senior Biden administration officials and a European official.

The report indicates that senior Chinese officials had some level of knowledge about Russia’s war plans or intentions before the invasion started last week. President Vladimir Putin of Russia met with President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing on Feb. 4 before the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Moscow and Beijing issued a 5,000-word statement at the time declaring that their partnership had “no limits,” denouncing NATO enlargement and asserting that they would establish a new global order with true “democracy.”

The intelligence on the exchange between the Chinese and Russian officials was classified. It was collected by a Western intelligence service and considered credible by officials reviewing it. Senior officials in the United States and Allied governments passed it around as they discussed when Putin might attack Ukraine.

-The New York Times

8:31 p.m. ET

Canada announces new round of sanctions on Russian oil executives

On Wednesday night the Canadian government announced it was slapping sanctions on 10 petroleum industry executives with two Russian companies: Gazprom and Rosneft.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly’s statement did not identify the names of the targeted executives. “These measures are intended to put further pressure on Russia’s leadership to cease its violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement from Ms. Joly’s department said.

-Steven Chase

8:25 p.m. ET

Germany prepares for influx of Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian invasion

A woman is comforted by a friend after arriving on a train from Ukraine's border at Berlin's main train station on March 2, 2022.AFP Contributor#AFP/AFP/Getty Images

In the northwest Berlin suburb of Reinickendorf, the sprawling, tree-studded grounds of a former hospital have been transformed into an arrival centre for hundreds of Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing escalating attacks by Russia.

By Tuesday, about 800 people had made their way through the gates of the arrival centre. Activity is only expected to increase as more Ukrainians flee their homes, or those who have already arrived in Poland – which is starting to show the strain of welcoming nearly 400,000 refugees – make their way west into Germany.

The European Union is expected to grant those refugees the right to stay and work in member states for up to three years, after a proposal Wednesday to grant automatic temporary protection.

Irina Bondas, a member of the Ukrainian diaspora who lives in Berlin, was pleased with news the EU is considering the emergency proposal, though it worries her to think about a protracted conflict.

“I feel that most of the people fleeing are not thinking about staying here for long right now,” she told The Globe and Mail.

The proposal in front of the EU comes on the heels of various European governments pledging help to resettle displaced Ukrainians. Italy, for example, has allocated €10-million for refugee centres and pledged to increase their capacity by up to 16,000 places.

-Emma Graney in Berlin

8:16 p.m. ET

One million have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion

The UN refugee agency says one million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion less than a week ago, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.

The tally from UNHCR amounts to more than two per cent of Ukraine’s population on the move in under a week. The World Bank counted the population at 44 million at the end of 2020.

The UN agency has predicted that up to four million people could eventually leave Ukraine but cautioned that even that projection could be revised upward.

On Twitter, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, wrote: “In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries.”

-The Associated Press

7:53 p.m. ET

Pentagon sends troops to Europe, delays missile test

The Pentagon has ordered about 12,000 service members from various U.S. bases to Europe, with a couple of thousand more already stationed abroad shifting to other European countries.

About 3,800 troops from the 1st Armored Brigade of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, ordered to deploy quickly and bolster U.S. forces in Europe, boarded a plane bound for Germany Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, Putin’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was quoted warning that a Third World War would be a nuclear conflict. The Pentagon strongly condemned that rhetoric and said it hoped its decision to delay its ICBM test would serve as an example to Moscow.

-Reuters, The Associated Press

7:15 p.m. ET

Oil and natural gas prices climb to new multiyear highs on energy-supply fears

Worries of global shortages as Russia intensifies its invasion of Ukraine prompted traders to drive up the price of oil to new multiyear highs while European prices for natural gas skyrocketed to record levels.

The gains for oil came despite an agreement by members of OPEC+ to boost shipments by another 400,000 barrels a day, in line with previous monthly increases.

West Texas Intermediate crude jumped 7 per cent on Wednesday to settle at US$110.60 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent oil rose nearly 8 per cent to US$112.93, its highest in nine years.

European futures contracts for natural gas soared to record highs on Wednesday amid escalating uncertainty over the availability of supplies from Russia. Prices for the benchmark Dutch contract for delivery in April jumped 43 per cent.

-Jeffrey Jones and Brent Jang

6:53 p.m. ET

Kinross Gold suspending Russian mining operations amid worsening conflict in Ukraine

Kinross Gold Corp. is suspending its mining operations and all development work in Russia’s far east, amid the country’s worsening military incursion into Ukraine.

Last year, Russia accounted for 23 per cent of Kinross’s production, and the Kupol mine complex was its most profitable operation, generating US$443-million in income.

The company said in a statement that it made the decision to suspend operations after considering “the safety and well-being of its more than 2,000 employees, and in recognition of its legal obligations to manage and mitigate the mine’s environmental impact on an ongoing basis.”

Kinross added that it will adhere to all sanctions and legal restrictions “that have, or will be, announced by relevant governments.”

-Niall McGee

6:39 p.m. ET

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich says he has decided to sell Chelsea Football Club

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich said he would sell Chelsea Football Club, 19 years after buying it and setting the team on a path to sporting glory, and promised to donate money from the sale to help victims of the war in Ukraine.

Amid growing calls for Abramovich to be hit by sanctions, the metals magnate said in a statement that a sale was in the best interests of the reigning European and world soccer champions.

Abramovich said he would not ask for loans he has made to the Premier League club – reported to total £1.5-billion ($2.0-billion) – to be repaid to him and the sale would not be fast-tracked.

He has told his aides to set up a charitable foundation which would receive all net proceeds from the sale.


6:32 p.m. ET

Canadian air strike targeting gear appears to be playing supporting role in Ukraine’s fight against Russia

Canadian-made air strike targeting gear appears to be playing an important supporting role in the fight Ukraine is mounting against invading Russian forces.

Kyiv is using Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 military drones to strike back at Moscow’s invasion, with some success. Ukraine’s military says the drones have successfully attacked Russian convoys and blown up tanks and surface-to-air missile systems.

For years, the targeting system inside Bayraktar TB2 drones has been supplied by a Canadian manufacturer: Ontario-based L3Harris Wescam.

-Steven Chase in Ottawa

6:25 p.m. ET

Magna, Couche-Tard among Canadian companies with Russian operations staying put as more multinationals exit

A handful of Canadian companies, such as McCain Foods Ltd. and Canada Goose, are distancing themselves from operations in Russia, but other corporate pillars are continuing, including auto-parts maker Magna International Inc. and convenience-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

Multinational companies are increasingly shunning Russia, forcing Canadian companies into a quick rethink of their commitment to the country. If they stay, they risk being on the wrong side of the moral line their own government has drawn in this conflict. They might also have trouble supporting their Russian operations given the bank controls. But pulling out also comes with cost.

The Aurora, Ont.-based car-parts maker Magna has six manufacturing facilities and roughly 2,500 employees in Russia. The company’s 2020 annual report said it had $120-million in fixed assets in Russia and $345-million in sales from the country, about 1 per cent of the company’s global total.

At one time, Russia was seen as a breakthrough market for Magna. Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska bought US$1.54-billion in shares of the company in 2007 and planned to run it with founder Frank Stronach. Mr. Stronach told shareholders at the time that before the investment, he sought and received a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get his endorsement of the deal. Mr. Deripaska later sold his shares during the financial crisis in 2008.

CCL Industries Inc. is another Canadian company with operations in Russia. The Toronto-based label maker has five factories in Russia that employ 428 people and manufacture labels for consumer packaging, pharmaceutical and food and beverage companies, some for products within Russia. The company said it brings in $70-million in sales in the country, a small share of its $5.7-billion in annual global revenue.

At Couche-Tard, a similar concern for its Russian-based employees is playing out as it weighs its next move. The Laval, Que.-based company, which controls the Circle K chain, has 38 stores and more than 320 employees in Russia, part of its global footprint of 14,200 outlets.

Toronto-based miner Kinross Gold Corp., which has operated in Russia for more than 25 years, owns the Kupol mine complex in a remote area of Russia’s far east. It is the gold miner’s most profitable operation, bringing in US$442-million in operating earnings in 2021.

-Nicolas Van Praet, Chris Hannay

6:12 p.m. ET

Russia bans payments to foreign investors holding ruble bonds, shares

Foreign investors are effectively stuck with their holdings of Russian stocks and ruble-denominated bonds after the central bank put a temporary halt on payments and major overseas’ settlement systems stopped accepting Russian assets.

Moscow is blocking foreign investors, who hold tens of billions of dollars worth of Russian stocks and bonds, from exiting.

The Bank of Russia said it had banned coupon payments for foreign investors holding ruble-denominated sovereign debt, known as OFZs, and Russian companies were also barred from paying dividends to overseas shareholders. It did not specify how long the curbs, which don’t apply to local investors, would last.

Foreigners held around 3 trillion rubles ($28-billion) worth of OFZs out of a total market of 15.5 trillion rubles, according to central bank data as of February 1.


5:58 p.m. ET

Number of Russian soldiers killed is as high as Ukraine’s president claims, senior Western military source says

A picture shows damages in a building entrance after the shelling by Russian forces of Constitution Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city, on March 2, 2022.AFP Contributor#AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the start of the invasion last week is not exaggerated and is sure to rise sharply as the Russian military lays siege to big cities.

That was the assessment of a senior Western intelligence official. “I think the numbers that he is quoting there are probably highly accurate,” the official said, suggesting the figure is no doubt far higher than Russian President Vladimir Putin had expected after only six days of military operations inside Ukraine.

The Globe and Mail is not naming the official because he was not authorized to identify himself publicly, given his sensitive position in the intelligence community.

He put the number of Russian dead, backed up by NATO analysis, at 5,800 as of Tuesday evening. There was no estimate for the number wounded.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry said 487 of its servicemen had been killed and just under 1,600 wounded.

Mr. Zelensky cited the 6,000 figure in a televised address on Wednesday, in which he sought to boost Ukrainians’ morale and fighting spirit. “Today, you, Ukrainians, are a symbol of invincibility,” he said. “A symbol that people in any country can become the best people on earth at any moment. Glory to Ukraine!”

-The Globe’s Eric Reguly in Brussels

5:45 p.m. ET

International Criminal Court prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes in Ukraine

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed he would immediately open an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine, following a request to do so by 39 of the court’s member states.

“These referrals enable my office to proceed with opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards, encompassing any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person,” prosecutor Karim Khan said.


5:31 p.m. ET

EU bars seven Russian banks from SWIFT, but spares those in energy

The European Union said it was excluding seven Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, but stopped short of including those handling energy payments, in the latest sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s second-largest bank VTB, Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Bank Rossiya, Sovcombank and VEB will each be given 10 days to wind-down their SWIFT operations, the EU said in its official journal.

SWIFT is the dominant messaging system underpinning global financial transactions and the EU, the United States, Britain and Canada moved on Saturday to block certain Russian banks from it, but had not said which would be hit.

Removing Russian banks from SWIFT, a measure seen as drastic and unlikely only a week ago, is one of the most powerful tools Western authorities have used to punish Russia for what Moscow describes as a “special operation” in Ukraine.


5:31 p.m. ET

Analysis: War in Ukraine tests delicate balance of Turkey’s relationships with Europe and Russia, NATO and Putin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s balancing act of backing Ukraine while signalling that Russia remains important to his country is becoming increasingly difficult as he criticizes Vladimir Putin and yet continues to accommodate him.

The two leaders have a tense working relationship long described as a marriage of convenience, but it could be jeopardized by Mr. Erdogan’s support for Kyiv.

Experts in Turkey have described Mr. Erdogan’s approach to Mr. Putin as walking a tightrope: showing full support for Ukraine while trying not to anger a powerful neighbour that could retaliate. The two countries have strong economic ties, with Turkey relying heavily on Russian fuel exports, tourism and trade. At the same time, Russia has long posed a threat, with historic fighting between the countries often resulting in Turkey losing territory.

Many experts have said that if Russia becomes irritated by Turkey’s support for Ukraine, it could retaliate by bombing Idlib in Syria, which would send more Syrian refugees toward Turkey’s southern border.

- Janice Dickson in Istanbul, Turkey

5:14 p.m. ET

World Bank halts all programs in Russia, Belarus with immediate effect

The World Bank said it had stopped all programs in Russia and Belarus with immediate effect, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and “hostilities against the people of Ukraine.”

In a statement, the multilateral development bank said it had not approved any new loans to or investments in Russia since 2014, the year Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The bank said it had not approved any new lending to Belarus since mid-2020, when the United States imposed sanctions on the country over a disputed presidential election.


4:40 p.m. ET

Museums in Ukraine scrambling to protect historical artifacts amid Russian invasion

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine, staff at Taras Shevchenko National Museum in the country’s capital rushed to move prized collections into hiding. Mykhailo Zubar is among the country’s cultural employees who are fighting to protect the country’s priceless historical artifacts – in his case, in an undisclosed location. But the situation is as challenging as it is risky.

On social media, museum directors have described setting up barbed wire around museum facilities, while other cultural buildings are being used as temporary shelters for displaced residents. Staff are reportedly hiding the artifacts in pre-arranged locations or bringing them across borders when possible.

Timing is crucial. On Monday, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that just 80 kilometres north of the city, the Ivankiv Museum, which held precious archeological and folk items, had been destroyed. Lost in the blaze were about 25 works, widely considered priceless national treasures, by folk artist Maria Pryimachenko.

The destruction has drawn the attention of international cultural bodies, and has prompted local leaders to warn of what could come next. In a Facebook post, Vlada Litovchenko, director of the Vyshhorod Historical and Cultural Reserve near Kyiv, decried the attack, warning that numerous historical and architectural monuments and archeological sites were “under threat of artillery shelling and uncontrolled movement of heavy military trucks.”

-The Globe’s Irene Galea

4:20 p.m. ET

Russia captures parts of Kherson as troops make strategic gains in southern Ukraine

Russian forces have occupied the centre of Kherson, a strategically important city of 300,000 in southern Ukraine, in a key advance that positions them to move along the economically critical Black Sea coast.

It is the first large city in Ukraine to fall under Russian control, as troops continued to fire rockets, missiles and artillery into other important urban centres on the seventh day of war.

Heavy shelling destroyed buildings and raised death tolls in the Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol and in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where Russian paratroopers landed Wednesday and explosions shattered parts of the city’s police headquarters and a nearby university building. Local officials reported a missile strike on the city hall as well. Russia’s targeting of densely populated areas is reminiscent of the ruthless campaigns it has waged in Syria and Chechnya.

In a video message, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov expressed disbelief at the destruction of a Russian-speaking city, where a quarter of the 1.4 million residents have relatives in Russia. “We never expected this could happen: total destruction, annihilation, genocide against the Ukrainian people – this is unforgivable,” Mr. Terekhov said.

The Globe’s Nathan Vanderklippe and Mark Mackinnon

3:26 p.m. ET

Powerful explosion reported in central Kyiv near rail station

Ukrainian officials have reported a powerful explosion in central Kyiv, between the Southern Railway station and the Ibis hotel, an area near Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that it was a missile strike.

Officials said it wasn’t immediately clear how damaging the strike was, whether there were any casualties or where exactly the missile hit.

The Southern Railway station is one of two stations that make up the main passenger rail complex that thousands have used to flee the war over the past week. The two stations are connected by an overhead corridor that crosses over about a dozen tracks.

The stations are about 3 kilometres from Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the square that was the site of huge protests in 2014 and 2004.

The Associated Press

3:20 p.m. ET

Kharkiv resident describes Russian attacks on the city

Kharkiv is Maria Avdeeva's home town and she spoke to The Globe about the damage to the city by Russian attacks, including a devastating strike on the regional administration building. Ms. Avdeeva is from the European Expert Association, a nonpartisan think-tank dealing with Ukraine’s security and foreign policy.

The Globe and Mail

3:15 p.m. ET

Netflix pauses all projects, acquisitions in Russia

Netflix Inc has temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia as it assesses the impact of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The streaming giant had four Russian-language series in production and post-production, including “Zato,” a detective drama.

Russia has been facing boycott in the film and TV industry. The Cannes Film Festival issued a statement on Tuesday saying it would ban official Russian delegations from its 2022 festival unless the Ukraine conflict ends.

Earlier this week, Netflix said that in the current circumstances it has no plans to add state-run channels to its Russian service, despite a regulation that would require it to distribute state-backed channels.

Russia is one of the 190 countries where Netflix is available.


2:52 p.m. ET

Zelensky: Russia aims to erase Ukraine

2:35 p.m. ET

U.S. hits Russia and Belarus with new sanctions over Ukraine invasion

The White House has announced additional sanctions against Russia and its ally Belarus, including extending export controls that target Russian oil refining and entities supporting the Russian and Belarusian military.

Among Wednesday’s new measures are sanctions targeting 22 Russia defense entities that make combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia’s military.

The U.S. Commerce Department also announced additional export controls on oil and gas extraction equipment that would hurt Russia’s refining capacity over the long term.

The Biden administration, and Western allies, have largely stayed away from hitting the Russian energy sector to avoid causing tremors to the global supply of energy. The White House, however, said in a statement that U.S. and allies “share a strong interest in degrading Russia’s status as a leading energy supplier over time.”

The latest sanctions imposed on Wednesday include the U.S. closing off its air space to all Russian flights. President Joe Biden previewed that he would making the move in his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

The Associated Press

2:25 p.m. ET

Ukraine and Russia send mixed messages over plan for peace talks

Russian negotiators expect Ukrainian officials to arrive in Belarus to kick off the next round of peace talks on Thursday morning, Russian news agencies reported, but a Ukrainian presidential aide appeared to cast doubt on this plan.

As Russian forces laid siege to major Ukrainian cities, Moscow’s negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said on Wednesday the Ukrainian delegation to negotiations would be given a security corridor, according to Russian agency TASS.

Meanwhile Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak suggested the exact timing of talks had not yet been determined.

“It is doubtful that without the presence of the other (Ukrainian) side at the negotiating table, negotiations can really take place. So just wait for the real start of the dialogue,” he said on Twitter.


1:26 p.m. ET

Russia suffers overwhelming diplomatic defeat at UN General Assembly over its Ukraine invasion

Russia has suffered a major diplomatic defeat at the United Nations, losing a vote at the General Assembly by an overwhelming margin of 141 to five after an emergency debate mobilized a surge of support for a resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Diplomats jumped to their feet and applauded loudly when the vote results were displayed on a screen. Only four countries – North Korea, Syria, Belarus and Eritrea – voted with Russia to oppose the resolution, while 35 abstained.

The resolution demands that Russia immediately halt its invasion and completely withdraw all its forces unconditionally from Ukraine. The resolution “deplores in the strongest terms” the Russian aggression. It also condemns Russia’s decision to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces.

“The message of the General Assembly is loud and clear,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told journalists after the vote on Wednesday. “End hostilities in Ukraine – now. Silence the guns – now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy – now.”

The Globe’s Geoffrey York

1:10 p.m. ET

Trudeau says solidarity of Western sanctions a surprise to Putin after Ukraine attack

Prime Minster Justin Trudeau says he thinks Russia’s Vladimir Putin is surprised by the strength and unity of Western sanctions in retaliation for his invasion of Ukraine.

Trudeau says Putin likely never imagined that Germany would freeze its lucrative Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia or decide to send anti-tank weapons and surface to air missiles to Ukraine.

The decision to provide weapons marked a historic shift in German military policy that has its roots in consigning its Second World War aggression against Europe to the dustbin of history.

Trudeau echoed what Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday – that future sanctions against Russian business interests in Canada could cause some economic “collateral damage” domestically.

He says he may look at compensating some businesses but added that allies in Europe will feel the economic effects of sanctions much more than Canada.

The Canadian Press

12:58 p.m. ET

Biden says ‘nothing is off the table’ when asked if U.S. would ban Russian oil and gas

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that “nothing is off the table” when asked if the United States would ban Russian oil and gas after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States is “very open” to imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry at a time when global oil prices touched eight-year highs and supply disruptions mounted. The administration is, however, considering how it could rattle the markets, she said.

Although the United States has not yet targeted Russian oil sales as part of its sweeping economic sanctions following the invasion, U.S. traders have already acted to put such imports on hold, disrupting energy markets.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday, the United States is preparing a sanctions package targeting more Russian oligarchs as well as their companies and assets.


12:06 p.m. ET

‘I’m scared, but I have hope’: Ukrainian-Canadian returns home to join fight against Russia

18-year-old Yaroslav Hrytsiuk is one of a reported 80,000 Ukrianians returning from abroad to fight the invading forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Grade 12 student from Toronto says his plans in Canada are on hold, like acceptance to Ryerson University to study business next year. He hopes to join his father, who is preparing to fight Russians invading their home city of Lviv.

12:03 p.m. ET

21 killed and at least 112 injured by Russians over last 24 hours, Ukraine says

A Ukrainian official says the advance of Russian troops in Kharkiv has been stopped, but that Russians have responded by shelling the city with heavy rocket launchers and air attacks.

“Kharkiv today is the Stalingrad of the 21st century,” said Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Oleg Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said that over the past 24 hours 21 people were killed and at least 112 were injured by Russians.

Associated Press

11:28 a.m. ET

Swiss tycoon Wyss says he’s considering Abramovich’s offer to buy Chelsea football club

Swiss business tycoon Hansjoerg Wyss is considering buying football club Chelsea from Russian Roman Abramovich, Wyss told Swiss newspaper Blick as British lawmakers continued to push for sanctions against the billionaire.

“Abramovich is currently trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly now. I, along with three other people, received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich,” Blick quoted Wyss as saying in an interview published on Wednesday.

Abramovich’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the parliament on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday declined to comment on whether sanctions would be imposed on Abramovich, but said the “vice” was tightening on those around Russian President Vladimir Putin.


11:07 a.m. ET

WHO’s first shipment of medical supplies for Ukraine set to reach Poland on Thursday

The World Health Organization says its first shipment of medical supplies for invasion-hit Ukraine will arrive in neighbouring Poland on Thursday, calling for a humanitarian corridor to ease delivery in the face of a crisis with “ordinary civilians being broken” in the fighting.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the shipment includes 36 metric tons (40 U.S. tons) of supplies for trauma care and emergency surgery to help 1,000 patients as well as other supplies to meet the needs of 150,000 people.

He said WHO’s prepositioned supplies in the capital, Kyiv are currently unavailable. He did not elaborate, but the agency alluded to logistical problems amid the fighting after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

“There is an urgent need to establish a corridor to ensure humanitarian workers and supplies have safe and continuous access to reach people in need,” Tedros said.

The Associated Press

10:36 a.m. ET

Ukraine’s Zelensky waiting for positive signals on EU bid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday after talking on the phone with European Council President Charles Michel he was waiting for news on Kyiv’s bid to join the European Union.

“We discussed the current situation on the battlefield and diplomatic efforts. Waiting for the positive signals about Ukraine’s membership in the EU,” Zelensky said calling Michel, who chairs the EU national leaders, Ukraine’s “trusted friend.”

9:49 a.m. ET

Oil spikes as Russian supply disruptions increase amid sanctions

Oil prices surged as supply disruptions mounted following sanctions on Russian banks amid the intensifying Ukraine conflict, while traders scrambled to seek alternative oil sources in an already tight market.

Brent crude futures rose by nearly US$9, touching a peak of US$113.94 a barrel, the highest since June 2014, before easing to US$113.07, up by US$8.10 or 7.7% early Wednesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped more than US$9 to US$112.51 a barrel, hitting the highest since August 2013 before losing some steam to trade up US$7.74 or 7.5% to US$111.15 a barrel.

“Investors, traders, and politicians alike are scrambling to address the worsening Russia-Ukraine standoff. The initial upward price reaction after the conflict in Ukraine started six days ago is only intensifying,” said Rystad Energy analyst Louise Dickson.


9:34 a.m. ET

U.S. says sanctions on Russian energy ‘on the table’

The United States is “very open” to imposing sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas industry as it also weighs the potential market impact, the White House said on Wednesday as global oil prices touched eight-year highs and supply disruptions mounted.

In television interviews, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said while Washington was still considering hitting Moscow’s vast energy sector over Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, the impact on global oil markets and U.S. energy prices were a key factor.

Asked if Washington and its Western allies would slap energy sanctions on Russia, Psaki told MSNBC: “We’re very open.”

“We’re considering it. It’s very much on the table, but we need to weigh what all of the impacts will be,” she added.


9:19 a.m. ET

U.S. says airspace ban for Russian airlines to begin at 9 p.m. ET

The U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration said orders blocking Russian aircraft and airlines from entering and using all U.S. airspace take effect at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday.

This includes passenger and cargo flights, and scheduled as well as charter flights. The Transportation Department said it was taking the action after it “was directed by President Biden in response to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine.”

The Transportation Department said Russian carriers and operators “with aircraft on the ground in the United States may request authority” to conduct flights “necessary for their aircraft to depart the United States.”

8:48 a.m. ET

EU bans RT, Sputnik over Ukraine disinformation

Russian state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik will be banned in the European Union with immediate effect for systematic disinformation over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the 27-country bloc said on Wednesday in an unprecedented move.

The sanction means EU operators will be prohibited from broadcasting, facilitating or otherwise contributing to the dissemination of any RT and Sputnik content.

Broadcasting licences or authorization, transmission and distribution arrangements between the two companies and their EU counterparts will also be suspended.

The ban applies to RT’s English unit and operations in Britain, Germany, France and Spain.


8:32 a.m. ET

Canadian companies with Russian operations stay put as more multinationals exit

As the list of international companies pulling out of Russia grows longer by the day, Canadian corporations doing business there are grappling with difficult decisions on whether to cut ties with the country outright or stick it out and bear the reputational and operational risk that could follow.

Canadian companies with operations in Russia include some of the country’s corporate pillars, including auto parts maker Magna International Inc. and convenience store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. Several smaller companies also sell into the country, including Ski-Doo maker BRP Inc. and label manufacturer CCL Industries Inc.

For all of them, the world has changed with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Canada and its G7 allies have all condemned what they call an unprovoked attack and slapped Russia with sanctions, including prohibiting transactions with Russia’s central bank. Western leaders have also moved to cut several of Russia’s largest banks off from the international financial system by excluding them from SWIFT, the messaging network that facilitates most global money transfers.

While Canadian firms contemplate their positions in Russia, multinational companies are increasingly shunning the country. Energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. said it would exit Russia, while aircraft maker Boeing Co. suspended maintenance and technical support for Russian airlines and rival Airbus SE stopped sending spare parts.

-The Globe’s Nicolas Van Praet and Chris Hannay

8:26 a.m. ET

Mariupol mayor reports mass casualties from non-stop Russian attack

The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is suffering mass casualties and a water outage as it defends itself from a non-stop onslaught by Russian forces, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV on Wednesday.

“The enemy occupying forces of the Russian Federation have done everything to block the exit of civilians from the city of half a million people,” he said.

He did not provide an exact casualty figure.


8:22 a.m. ET

Japan ready to take in Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion, PM Kishida says

Japan is ready to take in Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday, adding that he had made the pledge during a phone conversation with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki.

The United Nations has estimated that close to 700,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since the invasion began nearly a week ago, in what the UN Refugee Agency says looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century. Around half of the refugees are currently in Poland.

“To demonstrate solidarity with the Ukrainian people, we will proceed to accept those who are seeking refuge in a third country,” Kishida said after the call, adding that the initial focus would be on people with relatives or friends in Japan.


7:54 a.m. ET

More than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians killed during Russian invasion: Ukrainian emergency service

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians and destroyed hundreds of structures including transport facilities, hospitals, kindergartens and homes, Ukraine’s emergency service said on Wednesday.

“Children, women and defence forces are losing their lives every hour,” it said in a statement.

7:50 a.m. ET

Video: Firefighters tackle aftermath of Kharkiv strike

A regional police department in Kharkiv was engulfed in flames on Wednesday, following a Russian strike on Ukraine’s second-largest city. Officials say at least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling in Ukraine’s second-largest city in the last 24 hours.

The Globe and Mail

7:27 a.m. ET

Russian delegation ready to resume talks

A Kremlin spokesman says a Russian delegation will be ready later today to resume talks with Ukrainian officials about the war in Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that “in the second half of the day, closer to evening, our delegation will be in place to await Ukrainian negotiators.”

He did not indicate where the talks could take place.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also said his country was ready – but noted that Russia’s demands have not changed and that he wouldn’t accept any ultimatums.

-The Canadian Press/The Associated Press

6:41 a.m. ET

B.C. couple in Ukraine help orphans, other displaced people find safe accommodation

The night before Russian forces began missile and artillery attacks in eastern Ukraine, staff at an orphanage in the region filled their 14 vehicles with gas and other necessities. The next morning, 52 orphans and dozens of staff members and their families rushed to the cars and headed west.

About 450 kilometres away, Chad and Mary Martz, who have been living in the Carpathian Mountain region in the southwest, dashed into grocery stores, scrambling for rice, sugar, flour, water, canned meats – anything they could get their hands on – in preparation to find them safe accommodation.

The Martzes have been working with Hungry For Life, a non-profit based out of Chilliwack, B.C., for 18 years. Ms. Martz was born in Ukraine and, in the past, the couple made frequent trips from their home in British Columbia to Ukraine to assist groups and churches in providing compassionate care.

Their latest trip to western Ukraine last summer was for personal reasons: They wanted to finish building a home they invested in there 14 years ago, and planned to return to Chilliwack in August, 2022, so that their daughter could finish high school.

-The Globe’s Xiao Xu

6:34 a.m. ET

Ukrainian-Canadians head to Ukraine to join fight against Russia

Yaroslav Hrytsiuk went to his high school on Tuesday morning to say goodbye. Then, the 18-year-old went home to pack for an afternoon flight to Europe in hopes of joining volunteers travelling to his native Ukraine to take up arms against Russia.

“Today, I’m going to Ukraine to stand with my family and fight for my country,” the teenager said at the doorstep of his Toronto home. A Ukrainian-Canadian who arrived in Toronto only last year, he said he considers himself lucky for having had a birthday in January that officially makes him of age to fight. He said he hopes to join his father, who is preparing to fight Russians invading their home city of Lviv.

Mr. Hrytsiuk proudly displayed a fluorescent, bristol board card his Grade 12 classmates had just given him scrawled with magic-marker messages such as “everything is going to be fine.”

“It was signed by every single person in the class. That was really cool,” said Mr. Hrytsiuk, wearing a traditional vyshyvanka embroidered shirt.

-The Globe’s Colin Freeze

6:31 a.m.

EU excludes seven Russian banks from SWIFT: official journal

The European Union is excluding seven Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system that underpins global transactions as part of its sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU official journal said on Wednesday.

The banks, which will be given 10 days to wind-down their SWIFT operations, are Russia’s second-largest bank VTB, along with Bank Otrkitie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Bank Rossiya, Sovcombank and VEB.

A senior EU official explained that the banks on its list were chosen based on their connections to the Russian state, with public banks already subject to sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.


6:23 a.m. ET

Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at Winter Paralympics

Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at the upcoming Winter Paralympics in Beijing, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said on Wednesday following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table,” the IPC said in a statement.

Britain condemned the decision.

“I am extremely disappointed in the IPC – this is the wrong decision and I call on them to urgently reconsider,” Nadine Dorries, Britain’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said in a statement.

“They must join the rest of the world in condemning this barbaric invasion by banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing,” she added.

The Games begin from Friday and end on March 13.


6 a.m. ET

Russian troops makes strategic gains in southern Ukraine

The blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag still hangs over the streets of Kherson, a city of 300,000 that occupies a strategic position between the Crimean peninsula and the Black Sea shores of southern Ukraine.

But on some sidewalks and roads Wednesday, Russian soldiers patrolled the city, some of which has now fallen into Moscow’s hands in a key strategic advance for Russian forces. Russia has “taken full control” of Kherson, state media reported.

People living in the city rejected that claim, saying Russian troops have captured the city’s railroad station, port and the Antonovskiy Bridge, a critical point of connection between Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and the roadways that lead to Odesa, the country’s most important port city.

“Kherson is a key for southern Ukraine,” said Sergiy Dmitruk, a lawyer from Kherson.

Russian naval groups are preparing for landing operations along the Black Sea coast, the General Directorate of Military Cooperation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in an update. Ukrainian forces continue to hold other key cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, despite Russian attacks on government buildings, communication infrastructure and hospitals in those areas.

-The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe and Mark MacKinnon in Romania and Ukraine

5:55 a.m. ET

Four killed as air strikes pound Ukraine’s Kharkiv: local authorities

Four more people were killed and nine wounded as a barrage of Russian air and rocket strikes pounded the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday morning, the local emergency services and Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

“Kharkiv is a Russian-speaking city. Every fourth person in Kharkiv has relatives in the Russian Federation. But the city’s attitude to Russia today is completely different to what it ever was before,” he said in an online video statement.

“We never expected this could happen: total destruction, annihilation, genocide against the Ukrainian people – this is unforgivable.”


5:43 a.m. ET

Over 450,000 people came to Poland since Ukraine invasion started, minister says

Over 450,000 people entered Poland from Ukraine since a Russian invasion of the country started last Thursday, Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker told private Radio Zet on Wednesday.

He added that the number of people entering Poland fell slightly on Tuesday to 98,000 from a record number of over 100,000 on Monday.


5:35 a.m. ET

Russian ruble plunges to new low in Moscow

The ruble plunged to a record low in Moscow of 110 to the U.S. dollar on Wednesday and the stock market remained closed as Russia’s financial system staggered under the weight of Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ruble was 7.3% weaker on the day at 108.60 against the U.S. dollar as of 0941 GMT in Moscow trade, earlier hitting 110.0, an all-time low. It has lost about a third of its value against the dollar since the start of the year.

It had shed 7.1% on Wednesday to trade at 120.50 to the euro.


5:17 a.m. ET

Boeing, Exxon, Apple join Western firms spurning Russia over Ukraine

Boeing suspended maintenance and technical support for Russian airlines and U.S. energy firm Exxon Mobil said it would exit Russia, joining a growing list of Western companies spurning Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Airbus also stopped sending spare parts to Russia and supporting Russian airlines, but said it was analyzing whether its Moscow engineering centre could keep providing services to local customers under Western sanctions.

U.S. tech giant Apple said it had stopped sales of iPhones and other products in Russia, while Ford Motor joined other automakers by suspending operations in the country.


5:11 a.m. ET

Russia says its delegation is ready for new talks with Ukraine

Russian officials are ready to hold a second round of talks with Ukraine on Wednesday but it is unclear whether Ukrainian officials will turn up, the Kremlin said.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there was contradictory information about the talks, which would follow a meeting at the Belarusian border on Monday that failed to produce a breakthrough.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before more talks could take place on Russia’s invasion of his country.

“First we can try to predict whether Ukrainian negotiators will show up or not. Let’s hope this happens. Our (negotiators) will be there and ready,” Peskov told reporters.


5:06 a.m. ET

Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest nations, opens its doors and offers jobs to thousands of fleeing Ukrainians

For three decades, one of Europe’s poorest countries has been emptying out: More than a million people have departed Moldova since 1991. They’re still leaving, at a pace of 35,000 a year. Across the country, 100,000 homes stand empty.

Now, Ukrainian refugees are pouring into Moldova – more than 88,000 so far – and its government and companies are scrambling to give them chances to work through acts of charity that coincide with a national need for labour.

The government is sweeping away legal barriers to their employment and opening its classrooms to Ukrainian teachers. Meanwhile, companies are offering jobs as graphic designers, office managers, construction workers, restaurant staff and IT workers.

-The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe in Moldova

5:03 a.m. ET

Europeans scrambling to find iodide pills amid fears of nuclear blast in Ukraine

Potassium iodide pills are suddenly in high demand across Europe as fears of radiation poisoning from a nuclear attack or accident intensify.

Some Europeans contacted by The Globe and Mail said they ran out to buy the pills when Russian President Vladimir Putin put his nuclear arsenal on high alert. His order came four days after he sent his troops into Ukraine, triggering battles in several cities and encouraging many countries, including Germany and Italy, to send military equipment to the Ukrainian army.

A pharmacy in central Brussels was offering free packs of iodide tablets and had already handed out about 20 to customers by early afternoon Tuesday, up from one or two before the war in Ukraine.

“Lots of people are asking for them because of the war and because they don’t trust the Russians,” said Christina Stantoz, one of the shop’s pharmacists.

-The Globe’s Eric Reguly and Emma Graney in Brussels and Berlin

4:55 a.m. ET

Kyiv mayor says Russia is massing troops closer to the capital

Russia is gathering troops closer and closer to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital’s mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote in an online post on Wednesday.

“We are preparing and will defend Kyiv!,” he added. “Kyiv stands and will stand.”


4:45 a.m. ET

EU approves new sanctions against Belarus over Ukraine invasion

European Union diplomats have approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the French Presidency of the EU said on Wednesday.

EU diplomats approved new sanctions against Belarusian people who are playing a role in the attacks to Ukraine, the French Presidency said on Twitter.

Sanctions will also hit “some economic sectors, and in particular timber, steel and potassium,” the statement said.

An EU official said this week that one of the aims of the new sanctions against Minsk was to stop exports of any further Belarusian goods to the EU, on top of those already subject to sanctions previously imposed by the EU after the President Alexander Lukashenko crushed protests following elections in August 2020.


3:53 a.m. ET

EU steps up aid, residence permit for refugees

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.


3:18 a.m. ET

Russia aims to erase us, Zelensky says on day seven of war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.

Referring to Russia’s attack on Babyn Yar – the site of a Second World War massacre of Jews by German occupation troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries – Zelensky said: “This strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign.”

“They don’t know a thing about Kyiv, about our history. But they all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all,” he added in the address made on video.

Russia has not released overall casualty numbers and the figure could not be confirmed.

-Reuters, AP

3:06 a.m. ET

Ukraine’s Mariupol under heavy shelling, Kherson surrounded: officials

Ukraine’s southeastern port of Mariupol was under constant shelling from Russia and unable to evacuate the injured while Kherson, on the Black Sea to the west, was completely surrounded by invading forces, Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.

“We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland,” Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said live on Ukrainian TV.


2:35 a.m. ET

Taiwan president to donate a month’s salary for Ukraine relief efforts

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday that she, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang will each donate one month’s salary to aid humanitarian relief efforts for Ukraine as it seeks to repel an invasion by Russia.

The war has generated widespread sympathy in Taiwan for Ukraine’s people, due to the threat the island says it faces on a daily basis from giant neighbour China. Beijing views Taiwan as its own territory and has stepped up its military pressure to assert those claims.

Tsai, whose government this week sent its first batch of aid in the form of 27 tonnes of medical supplies, told a meeting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party that the determination of Ukraine’s people has moved the world and Taiwan’s people too.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”

The Foreign Ministry will provide details of a bank account set up by Taiwan’s Relieve Disaster Association for Ukraine relief donations into which Tsai said she, Lai and Su will each donate a month’s salary.

A person familiar with the situation told Reuters that Tsai as president receives around T$400,000 ($14,250) a month in pay.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said separately it has asked its de facto embassy in Warsaw, the Polish government and its “designated” non-government organizations to help distribute the funds to aid Ukrainian refugees.

Taiwan is largely excluded from global organizations like the United Nations due to Chinese pressure, but aspires to show it is a responsible member of the international community despite its diplomatic isolation.


12:42 a.m. ET

Svitolina of Ukraine beats Potapova of Russia in WTA event

Elina Svitolina put on the yellow and blue colours of Ukraine and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Monterrey Open, deciding she could do more for her country by playing than boycotting the match.

Top-seeded Svitolina earlier said she wouldn’t play against Potapova in Mexico or against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours barred competitors from those countries using any national symbols, flags or anthems.

The tennis governing bodies issued a statement Tuesday confirming that Russian and Belarusian players will still be allowed to compete at the top level, but without national flags.

“Today it was a very special match for me,” the 27-year-old Svitolina said. “I was focused. I was on a mission for my country.” she said.

Svitolina is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist with 16 career tour-level singles titles who has been ranked as high as No. 3 and is currently No. 15.

“All the prize money that I’m going to earn is going to be for the Ukrainian army,” said Svitolina, who won this tournament in 2020. The Monterrey Open has $31,000 in prize money for the champion.


12:30 a.m. ET

Twitter to comply with EU sanctions on Russian state media

Twitter will comply with the European Union’s sanctions on Russian state-affiliated media RT and Sputnik when the EU order takes effect, the social network said on Tuesday.

“The European Union (EU) sanctions will likely legally require us to withhold certain content in EU member states,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters.

“We intend to comply with the order when it goes into effect.”

Outside the EU, Twitter said it would continue to focus on reducing the visibility of content from these outlets as well as labelling it.

Facebook owner Meta, Alphabet Inc’s Google, YouTube and TikTok have said they are blocking access to RT and Sputnik in the EU. On Tuesday, Meta said it was globally demoting posts from Russian state media.


12:10 a.m. ET

UN Assembly to vote Wednesday on resolution demanding Russia stop war

Country after country, from Europe’s economic powerhouse to a tiny Pacific island nation, have lined up to lash out at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and urge support for a U.N. resolution demanding an immediate halt to Moscow’s offensive and withdrawal of all Russian troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin did have a few supporters Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly’s emergency session, including Cuba and North Korea. And there were countries that took no position on the draft resolution, such as Surinam and South Africa, which urged compromise and diplomacy to find a lasting resolution to the crisis.

The 193-member General Assembly scheduled a vote on the resolution for Wednesday afternoon after hearing 120 speeches. Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do have clout in reflecting international opinion.

The final 10 speakers Wednesday morning include a late addition, Russian ally Belarus. Its representative will address the world body just before the United States and is virtually certain to support Moscow’s invasion. The draft resolution “deplores the involvement of Belarus in this unlawful use of force against Ukraine” and calls for it to comply with its international obligations.

As of late Tuesday, the resolution had 94 cosponsors, including several surprises to U.N. diplomats – Afghanistan, where the Taliban ousted the elected government last August, and Myanmar, where the military overthrew the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021.


10:51 p.m. ET

Analysis: In first State of the Union address, Biden captures the moment telling Putin ‘freedom will always triumph over tyranny’

The annual State of the Union Address is an American set-piece, a sturdy tradition required by the Constitution, and beginning with the 20th century, 87 of these messages have been delivered in person and most of them have concentrated on domestic affairs.

Not this one.

Not in a Capitol sealed off by a fence. Not in a capital warily watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine and shuddering as Vladimir Putin has his nuclear forces on alert.

“The world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security,” Joe Biden said, telling Ukrainians, represented in the hall by Oksana Markarova, Kyiv’s ambassador to Washington, “We stand with you.”

The principal elements of the speech were addressed as much to Mr. Putin as to the audience in the chamber and at home across the country.

“The free world is holding him accountable,” Mr. Biden said, adding that the Russian president was “more isolated from the world than he has ever been.”

-David Shribman

10:01 p.m. ET

Asian shares slip, oil surges again as Russia sanctions bite

Asian stocks came under renewed pressure and oil prices jumped after rising worries about the impact of aggressive sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine sank shares in Europe and on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes closed about 1.6% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped nearly 1.8%.

Global sanctions against Russia have prompted a string of major companies to announce suspensions to or exits from their businesses in the country.

Exxon Mobil said on Tuesday that it will exit Russia operations, including oil production fields, following similar decisions by British oil giants BP PLC and Shell, and Norway’s Equinor ASA.

Exxon’s announcement comes as the price of oil continues to surge above $100 per barrel. On Wednesday morning, global benchmark Brent crude jumped 2.6% to $107.69 per barrel, and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 3% o $106.50.


9:56 p.m. ET

Putin will pay ‘over the long run’ for Ukraine invasion, Biden says in State of the Union address

U.S. President Joe Biden led a standing ovation for the embattled Ukrainian people in a State of the Union speech that he rewrote to assail Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine.

He launched heavy criticism of Putin in his remarks, saying the Russian leader had badly miscalculated Ukraine.

“He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people,” he said. “From President Zelenskiy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, inspires the world.”

Biden said Putin ignored efforts to prevent war, and announced the United States will ban Russian flights from American airspace.

The annual speech to Congress gave Biden a platform to highlight his agenda, reassure fretful Americans and seek to boost his sluggish poll numbers amid dire warnings his fellow Democrats could face losses in November congressional elections.


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