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Some flee Moscow fearing martial law or conscription; Canada steps up efforts to help Ukraine as more than a million people have now fled Ukraine for other parts of Europe

This digest has now been archived.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

An image grab from a live stream at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on March 3, 2022. It appears to show a flare landing in front of a complex of administration buildings to the right prior to an attack by soldiers.Handout

Russia has invaded Ukraine. Here are the latest updates:

  • Fire has broken out at the Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after it came under attack by Russian forces in an apparent effort to take control of a facility that produces about a fifth of Ukraine’s power.
  • The Kremlin dismissed speculation that Russian authorities plan to introduce martial law, but some citizens are trying to flee the country fearing conscription.
  • Canada has slapped a massive tariff on Russian imports, announced a shipment of rocket launchers to Ukraine and unveiled a streamlined immigration process for Ukrainians fleeing Moscow’s military assault.
  • More than a million people have now fled Ukraine for other parts of Europe, as Russian bombardment pound government buildings, apartments and schools across the country.

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


  • Members of the Territorial Defence Forces guard a checkpoint, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine.VALENTYN OGIRENKO/Reuters

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1:38 a.m. ET

Russian invasion looms over China’s annual National People’s Congress

China’s 3,000-member ceremonial parliament will open its annual session Saturday with the government facing a slowing economy and international pressure over its refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While domestic issues typically dominate the National People’s Congress, the war in Ukraine is highlighting the ideological confrontation between the American-led West and the competing world view of Beijing and Moscow.

Any discussion of the conflict is expected to muted, however, with the focus on boosting growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

-The Associated Press


12:30 a.m. ET

Ukrainians put out fire at nuclear complex

A fire that broke out in a training building near the largest nuclear power plant in Europe during intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has been extinguished, Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Friday.

Earlier, a video feed from the plant verified by Reuters showed shelling and smoke rising near a five-storey building at the plant compound.

The footage shot at night showed one building aflame, and a volley of incoming shells, before a large candescent ball lit up the sky, exploding beside a car park and sending smoke billowing across the compound. It was not immediately clear who was in control of the plant.

-Reuters


Thursday, March 3


11:54 p.m. ET

Resettlement agencies in Canada gear up for influx of Ukrainian arrivals

People who fled Ukraine arrive on the train from Kyiv at the train station in Przemysl, Poland, near the border with Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2, 2022.MACIEK NABRDALIK/The Globe and Mail

As more than a million Ukrainians flee the Russian invasion of their home country, resettlement agencies and associations in Canada are organizing donations, assisting with visa applications and compiling lists of available housing while they gear up for an influx of arrivals.

There are about 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent living in Canada, one of the largest such populations outside of Ukraine. The community has decades of experience with resettling newcomers, and it has well-established networks for doing so. Agencies say they are being inundated with calls from people wanting to help.

“People are worried about their family and friends, and they are willing to bring, sponsor and help them somehow get out of the war zone” said Iryna Matsiuk, the Saskatoon-based co-chair of the Ukraine Crisis Response Committee, part of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Saskatchewan Provincial Council.

Already, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – locally and nationally – has received offers of temporary and permanent housing for those expected to arrive. People have volunteered to buy groceries, donate clothing and furniture, become sponsors for refugees and provide immigration, interpretation and legal services for free, Ms. Matsiuk said. In Saskatoon, businesses in the farming and meat-packing sectors have reached out with offers of employment.

-Tavia Grant


11:46 p.m. ET

Russian cargo jet grounded at Toronto’s Pearson airport

An Antonov cargo plane that carried COVID-19 test kits to Canada has been grounded at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

The plane, which is owned by a Russian company, has been grounded for most of this week after flight bans imposed by the West disrupted travel for some of the world’s most massive freighter jets.

Since Sunday, Europe, Canada and the United States have issued executive orders saying they are closing their airspace to planes controlled by Russia. The orders affect several Antonov An-124s, a cargo plane known for its unique carrying capabilities since it went into production in the 1980s-era Soviet Union.

Fewer than 60 Antonovs were ever made, and less than half are still in use. Distinctive for their expansive, nose-loading cargo bays, they can carry more than 150,000 kilograms.

Several Antonovs are controlled by the Volga-Dnepr Group, which is based in Ulyanovsk, Russia.

The Volga-Dnepr Antonov that landed in Toronto early on Sunday was ferrying supplies ordered by the Canadian government. “Public Services and Procurement Canada can confirm there were federally purchased rapid antigen tests on board,” departmental spokesperson Michele LaRose said.

It landed at 7 a.m. Later that morning, Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra announced Canadian skies were off-limits to Russia.

-Colin Freeze


11:18 p.m. ET

Trudeau calls for stop to attacks on nuclear plant in Ukraine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning attacks on a major nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Trudeau said late Thursday that he had spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about “the horrific attacks at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”

U.S. President Joe Biden also spoke with Zelenskyy late Thursday about the shelling of the plant in the eastern Ukraine city of Enerhodar.

The White House said Biden joined Zelenskyy in urging Russia to “cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.”

-The Canadian Press


10:42 p.m. ET

Fire breaks out at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after Russian shelling

A fire has broken out at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after it was attacked by Russian forces, in an apparent effort to take control of a facility that produces about a fifth of Ukraine’s power.

Oleksandr Shubin, an engineer working inside the plant’s sixth unit, told The Globe and Mail that video feeds showed flames at a training centre at the power plant. Efforts were made to extinguish that fire, but there also appeared to be damage to the walls of power units, he said. The seriousness of that damage cannot be determined until inspections are done. Inside the power plant, he said, colleagues were praying that there would be no direct hit on the station.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Ukraine’s nuclear regulator reported no increase in radiation levels and the fire “has not affected ‘essential’ equipment.”

Inside the nuclear plant, workers were ordered not to leave, even as the attack left them incredulous at what was happening.

“The worst has happened. They are firing at the nuclear power plant and do not respond to demands to stop,” Mr. Shubin said.

-Nathan VanderKlippe in Bucharest


10:11 p.m. ET

Ukraine nuclear reactors being safely shut down - U.S. energy official

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Thursday the reactors at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station “are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are being safely shut down.”

Granholm said on Twitter she had just spoken with Ukraine’s energy minister about the situation at the plant, where a fire broke out during fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

-Reuters, The Associated Press


9:30 p.m. ET

Camera at burning Ukrainian nuclear power plant appears to show Russian attack

A camera at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine captured footage on Thursday, March 3 that appears to show a coordinated attack by Russian forces, with flares and apparent weapons fire in front of a complex of administration buildings. There are now at least two buildings in the complex on fire.

The Globe and Mail


9:00 p.m. ET

Fire at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine after Russian attack, Enerhodar mayor says

Russian forces pressed their attack on a crucial energy-producing city by shelling Europe’s largest nuclear plant, sparking a fire and raising fears that radiation could leak from the damaged power station.

Plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant in the city of Enerhodar and had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.

Tuz said firefighters cannot get near the flames because they are being shot at. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted a plea to the Russians to stop the assault and allow fire teams inside.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Tuz said in a video statement. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”

-The Associated Press


6:57 p.m. ET

U.S. offers Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians, asks congress for US$10-billion for security, economic and humanitarian help in the region

The Biden administration offered humanitarian relief to Ukrainians in the United States allowing them to remain for up to 18 months under the federal program known as Temporary Protected Status. In order to be eligible for the protection, individuals would have to have been in the U.S. since at least Tuesday.

The program is for people fleeing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. As many as 30,000 Ukrainians may benefit, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank.

The Biden administration also asked congress for US$10-billion to help protect Ukraine against the Russian invasion, a major addition to budget talks already under way.

The $10 billion to Ukraine would be a rapid escalation of the $1.4 billion provided by the United States since 2021. The acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, said the money would cover “additional humanitarian, security and economic assistance in Ukraine and the neighboring region in the coming days and weeks.”

-The Associated Press


6:31 p.m. ET

Newfoundland’s largest cod processing plant halts Russian imports, putting workers out of a job

When the cod fishery collapsed in Newfoundland three decades ago, ending a way of life for the island’s fishermen, Bruce Wareham started looking across the ocean – to the cold waters of the Barents Sea, where Russian trawlers were hauling in increasingly large catches every year.

His decision to begin importing frozen Russian cod at a time when no one else was doing it helped save a fish plant and keep hundreds of jobs in Arnold’s Cove, N.L., a community of about 1,000 people on a finger of land jutting out into Placentia Bay.

This week, his son Alberto Wareham cancelled his last order of Russian cod as he watched TV reports about the invasion of Ukraine. It’s no small decision for a fish plant that employs 225 people. About 55 per cent of Icewater Seafoods’ codfish, shipped to buyers around Europe and the U.S., comes from Russia.

While there are no sanctions yet on Russian seafood products, Mr. Wareham was concerned about getting stuck with an order of fish that he would be barred from selling.

“It was the right decision from a humanitarian perspective, but we were also facing increasing business risk,” Mr. Wareham said. “I can’t say this is ending forever, but it’s ending for now. … I was worried if I couldn’t get that fish into Canada, and couldn’t get it back to Europe, what would I do with it?”

-Greg Mercer


6:11 p.m. ET

Magna to idle Russian operations in response to Ukraine invasion

Magna International Inc., the Canadian auto parts giant, says it is idling its Russian operations in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Aurora, Ont.,-based company, with six plants in Russia and about 2,500 employees, said it was deeply concerned by the “very unfortunate situation in Ukraine.”

“Given current conditions, Magna is idling its Russian operations,” Tracy Fuerst, Magna’s vice-president of corporate communications, said in a statement.

-Chris Hannay, Nicolas Van Praet



5:48 p.m. ET

Airlines continue to suspend flights as suppliers sever links with Russia

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The fallout from the invasion of Ukraine continued to roil the global transport industry as airlines rerouted or suspended flights and suppliers severed links with Russia.

Canada, the United States, Europe and others have imposed economic sanctions on Russia and closed airspace to the country’s airlines as the war on Ukraine enters its second week.

Airplane parts makers and lessors and ticket software companies have cut off Russia in compliance with government sanctions, moves that could quickly cripple the commercial aviation sector there.

Air Canada, which does not fly to Russia or Ukraine, is rerouting planes to the Middle East and India to avoid airspace over the two countries. Flights on its India routes, for example, can require a stop in Dublin for fuel and a crew change.

CAE Inc., a Montreal-based maker of aircraft simulators, has halted service on its pilot training equipment for Russian airlines. Pascale Alpha, a spokeswoman for CAE, said in an interview that CAE has no operations in Russia but has sold simulators there. Ms. Alpha was unable to say how many of the company’s simulators are in Russia, but she said the country’s business is not material to the overall business of CAE. The ban also includes training Russian airline pilots outside the country, Ms. Alpha said.

-Eric Atkins


5:25 p.m. ET

Gazprom resumes westbound gas flows via Yamal pipeline to Germany

Russian energy company Gazprom resumed westbound gas supplies via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Germany from Poland, data from Gascade pipeline operator showed.

Flows have been at 5.9 million kilowatt-hour per hour (kWh/h), while renominations, or preliminary bids, stand at 19.3 million kWh/h until Friday morning.

-Reuters


5:18 p.m. ET

Arctic Council in upheaval over Russia as climate change transforms region

Countries of the Arctic Council said they would boycott future talks in Russia over its Ukraine invasion, throwing international cooperation in the region into upheaval at a time when climate change is opening it up to resource exploitation.

The Arctic Council collaborates on matters that affect the region’s residents. It does not deal with security issues.

Russia, which currently holds the council’s rotating chairmanship, has posed “grave impediments to international cooperation, including in the Arctic,” the council’s other seven member countries said in a statement.

The countries – Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the United States, Canada and Denmark – said they were suspending their work indefinitely, and would skip planned talks in May in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk due to Moscow’s “flagrant violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The boycott raises uncertainty over development plans in the Arctic, which is warming three times as fast as the rest of the world due to climate change.

-Reuters



4:06 p.m. ET

U.S. establishes direct ‘de-confliction line’ with Russia

The Pentagon has established a channel of direct communication with the Russian ministry of defence to avoid unintended conflict related to the war in Ukraine.

A U.S. defence official said the “de-confliction line” was established March 1 “for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the communication line has not been announced.

The Associated Press


3:50 p.m. ET

More than 4 million refugees may end up fleeing Ukraine, UN says

More than 4 million refugees may end up fleeing Ukraine due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, the United Nations said.

On Wednesday, the United Nations said that 1 million people have already fled since Russia began invading last week, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.

The Associated Press


3:20 p.m. ET

Kyiv braces for onslaught as Russian troops close in


3:01 p.m. ET

U.S. unveils new wave of sanctions against Russian oligarchs

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday announced new sanctions against Russian oligarchs and others in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle as Russian forces continue to pummel Ukraine.

Those targeted by the new sanctions include Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, and Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, one of Russia’s wealthiest individuals and a close ally of Putin. The U.S. State Department also announced it was imposing visa bans on 19 Russian oligarchs and dozens of their family members and close associates.

“These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the U.S. financial system; their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use,” the White House said in a statement announcing the new penalties.

The Associated Press


2:48 p.m. ET

ICC investigators set off for Ukraine over possible war crimes

Investigators from the International Criminal Court set off for “the Ukraine region” on Thursday to start looking into possible war crimes, the tribunal’s top prosecutor said in an interview.

Karim Khan told Reuters his office would see if there was evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide - the offences under the court’s jurisdiction - by all parties in the conflict.

Asked about reports of artillery strikes in Ukraine’s towns and cities, Khan said: “Any side that targets, directly targets, civilians or civilian objects is committing a crime under the Rome Statute and under international humanitarian law,” referring to the statue that created the court.

Hundreds of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed since President Vladimir Putin sent his troops over the border on Feb. 24.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says its aim is to “disarm” Ukraine and arrest leaders it falsely calls neo-Nazis.

Reuters


2:30 p.m. ET

Russia has fired at least 480 missiles at Ukraine so far, U.S. officials say

U.S. officials say Russia has fired 480 missiles at Ukraine as Russian troops make more progress in the south, but are largely stalled in the north.

The official says about 90 per cent of the Russian combat power that had been arrayed around Ukraine is now in the country.

Specifically, the official said that the majority of the Russian missile launches since the war began – or more than 230 of them – are coming from mobile systems within Ukraine. More than 150 missiles have been fired from within Russia, more than 70 from Belarus and only a very small number from ships in the Black Sea. Ukrainian air defenses are still intact and have been effective against the missiles, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said Russian progress in the south has been aided by the country’s eight-year presence in Crimea, where Russia has built infrastructure and systems to sustain troops. As a result, the supply lines to troops in the south are much shorter and more effective.

The official said the U.S. has not seen any Russian naval activity or other appreciable moves by Russia to move on Odesa. He said he is not challenging Ukrainian reports of activity there, but that the U.S. can’t independently confirm them. He added, however, that the U.S. believes that Russia’s goal may be to move past Kherson to Mykolayiv in order to set up a base of operations there that they can then use in a move to encircle and take Odesa.

The Associated Press


2:00 p.m. ET

The party’s over for Russia’s oligarchs. The sanctioned ones are losing billions – and their megayachts

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and the West hit back with sanctions, Russia’s wealthiest men are paying the price – but distancing themselves from the Kremlin carries costs too.

Their wealth is disappearing at what, to them, must be an alarming rate. An analysis by Forbes magazine suggested that 116 Russian billionaires have lost US$126-billion of wealth since Feb. 16, a week before the invasion, partly owing to the stunning collapse of the ruble. It fell 30 per cent against the U.S. dollar on Monday alone, when the Russian central bank doubled interests rates to 20 per cent in an attempt to stabilize the shell-shocked currency.

The wealth destruction is no doubt intensifying by the minute, though hold your pity. Absolutely none of them will turn into paupers, thanks to the miracle of numbered offshore accounts – and no doubt warnings from their intelligence sources that sanctions were inevitable.

The Globe’s Eric Reguly reports


1:35 p.m. ET

Ukraine and Russia agree to create safe corridors for civilians to evacuate

A member of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia says the parties have reached a tentative agreement to organize safe corridors for civilians to evacuate and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky who took part in Thursday’s talks in Belarus near the Polish border, said that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary understanding that ceasefires will be observed in areas where the safe corridors are established.

The Associated Press


1:30 p.m. ET

Ukrainian priest to fallen soldiers: ‘They gave their lives for our country and for our people’

Father Serhii Chudinovich recites the prayer he spoke on Wednesday while overseeing the burial of more than 20 civilians who were killed while fighting with the Territorial Defence Forces as Russian forces seized control of Kherson.

The Globe and Mail


1:20 p.m. ET

Russians besiege crucial Ukrainian energy hub and seacoast

Russian forces battled for control of a crucial energy-producing city in Ukraine’s south on Thursday and gained ground in their bid to cut off the country from the sea, as Ukrainian leaders called on citizens to rise up and wage guerrilla war against the invaders.

The fighting at Enerhodar, a city on the Dnieper River that accounts for about one-quarter of the country’s power generation, came as the another round of talks between the two sides yielded what Ukraine said was a tentative agreement with Russia to set up safe corridors inside the country for evacuating citizens and delivering humanitarian aid.

The mayor of Enerhodar, the site of the biggest nuclear plant in Europe, said Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city’s outskirts. Video showed flames and clouds of black smoke rising above the city of over 50,000, with people streaming away from the inferno, past wrecked cars, as sirens wailed.

The Russians have brought their superior firepower to bear in the past few days, launching missile and artillery attacks on civilian areas and making significant gains on the ground in the south as part of an effort to sever the country’s connection to the Black and Azov seas.

Cutting Ukraine’s access to the coastline would deal a crippling blow to the country’s economy and allow Russia to build a land corridor stretching from its border, across Crimea, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, and all the way west to Romania.

The Associated Press


12:45 p.m. ET

Fearing martial law or conscription, some Russians try to flee abroad

As Russian troops slowly advanced on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Thursday, some people back in Moscow were attempting to flee to destinations abroad that have not banned flights from Russia, stomaching soaring prices in the rush to escape.

The Kremlin dismissed speculation that Russian authorities plan to introduce martial law following the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation,” or that they will stop men of fighting age leaving Russia, but some did not want to risk staying.

One Russian man, who moved back to Moscow from western Europe around a year ago, said he had bought a flight to Istanbul for the weekend, adding that living in Moscow may no longer be possible.

“I’m afraid that mobilization will be introduced tomorrow and I won’t be able to fly out,” said the 29-year-old, requesting anonymity like others cited in this article.

“In my worst nightmares I couldn’t have dreamt of such hell when I was coming back a year ago.”

- Reuters


12:35 p.m. ET

Ukrainian churches in Canada raising funds for those affected by war

Ukrainian churches and aid groups in Canada are raising funds and collecting donated items to support those fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Darcia Moskaluk-Rutkay, a director at St. Demetrius Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Toronto, says the secretaries at her church are collecting funds before directing them to Ukrainians through an aid organization called the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and the Canadian Red Cross.

She says people of Ukrainian descent in Canada feel a duty to help those who’ve had to leave their homes because of the war.

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation says it had raised $4 million by Monday and delivered $500,000 of that to provide food packages, medicine and shelter.

- The Canadian Press


11:45 a.m. ET

Zelensky asks Putin to meet, says ‘I don’t bite’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him, salting the proposal with sarcasm.

“Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 meters,” he said Thursday, apparently referring to recent photos of Putin sitting at one end of an extremely long table when he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I don’t bite. What are you afraid of?” Zelensky said at a Thursday news conference.

Zelensky said it was sensible to have talks: “Any words are more important than shots.”

The Associated Press


11:40 a.m. ET

With war on its doorstep, Moldova applies for EU membership

Moldovan President Maia Sandu signed a formal application for her country to join the European Union on Thursday, charting a pro-Western course hastened by Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Sandu’s move comes days after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a request for immediate EU membership as it battles invading Russian forces.

Moscow is fiercely opposed to the eastern expansion of both the EU and especially of NATO, which it sees as a direct threat to its own national security.

Sandu, the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker all signed the document during a briefing in the capital Chisinau, where pro-Russian and pro-EU politicians have vied for control since Moldova won independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Reuters


11:30 a.m. ET

EU grants temporary protection, residency permits to Ukrainian refugees

With close to a million of refugees fleeing Ukraine already in the eastern nations of the European Union, the EU member states decided Thursday to grant them temporary protection and residency permits.

EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Thursday that millions more were expected to move into the 27-nation bloc to seek shelter, employment and education for the young.

Johansson called the quick adoption of the protection rules a “historic result” and said “the EU stands united to save lives.”

The EU Commission has already promised at least 500 million euros ($560 million) in humanitarian aid for the refugees. Johansson pointed to nations like Poland, where the population has gone out of its way to be welcoming to the refugees, as an example for others to follow.

“They need financial support now because they’re going to have to find accommodation for people to have to find schools for the children,” she said.

The Associated Press


11:15 a.m. ET

Federal government warns Canadians against fighting for Russia in Ukraine

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is warning Canadians against fighting for Russia in Ukraine, saying anyone who does so could face severe consequences.

Freeland issued the warning during a news conference in Ottawa today, where she announced further sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

The deputy prime minister said Canada believes Russia’s attack is illegal, implying anyone fighting for the Russian side could be breaking international law.

Defence Minister Anita Anand, however, acknowledged there are uncertainties around whether it is legal for Canadians to fight for the Ukrainian side.

Many Canadians have been answering the Ukrainian government’s call for volunteers to join an “international brigade” to help defend the country. Anand instead encouraged people to enlist with the Canadian Armed Forces, which is in the midst of a recruitment drive as it deals with a shortfall of thousands of service members.

The Canadian Press


10:57 a.m. ET

Ukrainians have setup a roadblock with heavy vehicles and other obstacles in an attempt to stop a Russian advance on Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant near Enerhodar. Weapons fire can be heard in the footage, along with hundreds of civilians behind the blockade.

The Globe and Mail

Russian forces launch attack on Ukrainian city that has guarded Europe’s largest nuclear plant

Russian forces have launched an attack on a city that has guarded Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

In video streamed live on Facebook, Victor Buchnyev, adviser to the mayor of Enerhodar, says “hundreds of pieces of equipment, three tanks and a lot of infantry have come to us and now we hear the explosions.”

“Get out of there! Get out of there!” he yells, amid the sound of explosions.

The video shows clouds of black smoke billowing from above a barricade that had been created by people in Enerhodar, the city near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, which provides roughly 15 per cent of the electricity used in Ukraine.

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


10:50 a.m. ET

China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank pausing deals involving Russia and Belarus

The China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) is pausing deals involving Russia and Belarus due to the war in Ukraine, it said Thursday.

An announcement from the bank suggested the move was motivated by the new sanctions passed against Moscow and Minsk in the wake of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.

“AIIB is a multilateral organization created by an international treaty, and adherence to international law lies at the very core of our institution,” the bank said. Citing “the evolving economic and financial situation,” it had “decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review.”

-The Globe’s James Griffiths in Hong Kong


10:36 a.m. ET

At least 22 killed in air strikes in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region: emergency services

At least 22 bodies have been recovered from rubble in the wake of Russian air strikes in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, the Ukrainian emergency services said in an online post.

It said rescue work was ongoing, without specifying where exactly the attack took place. Earlier the regional governor said at least nine people had been killed by an air strike on two schools and private houses.

-Reuters


10:25 a.m. ET

Civilian casualties rise in Ukraine, 249 dead, 553 injured: UN

The U.N. human rights office said on Thursday that it had confirmed 249 civilians have been killed and 553 injured in Ukraine during the first week of the conflict following Russia’s invasion.

The toll, through midnight on Wednesday, rose from the 227 deaths and 525 injured in its previous report a day ago.

“Most of civilian casualties recorded from 4 a.m. on 24 February 2022 until 12 midnight on 2 March 2022 were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes,” it said in a statement.

Reuters


10:06 a.m.

Canada to send rocket launchers to Ukraine, streamline immigration for refugees

Canada has slapped a massive tariff on Russian imports, announced a shipment of rocket launchers to Ukraine and unveiled a streamlined immigration process for Ukrainians fleeing Moscow’s military assault.

It will still require Ukrainians seeking to flee here undergo a visa application process because the program’s security check could weed out pro-Kremlin Ukrainian citizens who fought a guerrilla war against Kyiv for the past eight years.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said a new 35 duty will apply to all imports from Russia and Belarus, the country’s close ally, in a further economic sanction of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

This comes about by removing the preferential trade treatment Canada normally extends to fellow member countries of the World Trade Organization.

Defence Minister Minister Anita Anand announced Canada will send more weapons to Ukraine: 4,500 M-72 rocket launchers and 7,500 hand grenades. She said this gear would be drawn from existing Canadian Armed Force stockpiles.

She said Canada will also provide Ukraine $1-million to purchase high-resolution satellite imagery to give Kyiv a strengthened ability to monitor movement of Russian forces.

Finally, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser unveiled two immigration programs to receive Ukrainians: those seeking a short term refuge from the violence in their home country and those seeking to permanently immigrate to Canada.

-The Globe’s Steven Chase and Robert Fife in Ottawa


9:46 a.m. ET

Ukrainian parliament backs bill to seize Russia-owned assets in Ukraine

Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday approved a bill to allow the seizure of assets or property in Ukraine owned by Russia or Russian citizens due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Under the law, the government can suggest which assets to confiscate to the Security Council, which must then give its approval for their transfer to state ownership.

-Reuters



9:08 a.m. ET

Ukrainian delegation arrived for talks with Russia in Belarus: TASS

The Ukrainian delegation of negotiators has arrived by helicopter for talks with the Russian side in Belarus, Russian state news agency TASS said on Thursday, citing its reporter on the ground.

-Reuters


8:55 a.m. ET

IKEA joins list of retailers closing stores in Russia

IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture brand, is closing its stores in Russia and pausing all sourcing in the country and ally Belarus, joining the wave of Western firms curbing business with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

The news, announced on Thursday, came as IKEA store owner Ingka Group’s retail manager told Reuters the budget furniture maker now expected to raise prices by an average of 12% this fiscal year, up from 9% flagged previously amid soaring raw material costs and supply chain disruptions.

“The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted,” brand owner Inter IKEA and Ingka Group said in a joint statement.

“The war has both a huge human impact and is resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions, which is why the company groups have decided to temporarily pause IKEA operations in Russia,” they said.

Retailers ranging from Apple to H&M have announced plans to halt sales of products in Russia in the wake of the invasion of the Ukraine.

-Reuters


8:31 a.m. ET

Ukraine regional governor says nine killed after Russian air strike hits two schools

At least nine people have been killed and four wounded after a Russian air strike hit two schools and private houses in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region on Thursday, governor Viacheslav Chaus said in an online post.

“Rescue work is ongoing. According to the state emergency services, there are for now nine people killed and four wounded,” he said.

-Reuters


8:17 a.m. ET

International Energy Agency releases plan to reduce European reliance on Russian gas

With Europe’s reliance on imported gas from Russia thrown into sharp relief by the country’s invasion of Ukraine, an analysis released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris Thursday outlined a series of steps the European Union can take to reduce its imports of Russian natural gas by more than one-third within a year.

The 10-point plan from the IEA includes a range of complementary actions over the coming months, such as turning more to non-Russian suppliers, drawing on other energy sources, and accelerating efforts to provide consumers, businesses and industry with clean and efficient alternatives to natural gas.

The IEA, a Paris-based organization that advises industrialized countries on energy issues, said the proposed measures also support the shift to clean energy in a secure and affordable way, and would pave the way for further emissions reductions.

“Europe needs to rapidly reduce the dominant role of Russia in its energy markets and ramp up the alternatives as quickly as possible,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

The key actions in the report include signing no new gas contracts with Russia, maximizing gas supplies from other sources, accelerating the deployment of solar and wind and the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps, ramping up energy efficiency measures in homes and businesses, and encouraging consumers to temporarily reduce their thermostats by 1°C.

- The Globe’s Emma Graney in Berlin


8:12 a.m. ET

Putin tells Macron Russia will achieve its goals in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the goals of Russia’s operation in Ukraine - its demilitarization and neutral status - will be achieved in any case, the Kremlin said.

Putin said that any attempts by Kyiv to delay negotiations would result in Moscow adding more items to its list of demands.

-Reuters


8 a.m. ET

Ukraine calls for accountability for Russian ‘war crimes’

Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Russian troops were carrying out acts tantamount to war crimes in her country and called for perpetrators to be held accountable, while Russia’s envoy denounced Ukraine and the West.

“Recent events clearly point to the fact that the Russian troops fighting in Ukraine carry out the most blatant violations and abuses of human rights, systematically engage in acts that clearly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Emine Dzhaparova told an urgent debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“We must stand together to ensure accountability for the war criminals spilling the blood of Ukrainian children.”

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, denounced the “criminal regime in Kyiv” and accused the United States and European Union of supplying lethal weapons, adding: “We do not see any added value in today’s debate.”

-Reuters


7:31 a.m. ET

Video: Born in war: Kyiv’s maternity ward under siege


7:22 a.m. ET

Tens of millions in ‘potentially mortal danger’ in Ukraine: UN

Tens of millions of people in Ukraine are in “potentially mortal danger” as military operations escalate with bombings of major cities and reports of cluster weapons striking civilian targets, the top U.N. human rights official said on Thursday.

Michelle Bachelet, opening an urgent debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council to consider setting up a commission of inquiry into alleged human rights violations by Russia, called for an immediate halt to hostilities which have heavily damaged basic essential services.

“My staff in Ukraine have been contacted by several groups who fear persecution if Russian troops advance, including members of the Crimean Tatar community in mainland Ukraine, as well as prominent human rights defenders and journalists,” she told the Geneva forum.

-Reuters


7:18 a.m. ET

Ukraine central bank keeps key interest rate unchanged due to war

Ukraine’s central bank decided to postpone a review of its main interest rate and keep it unchanged at 10.0% on Thursday in an effort to maintain financial stability and the smooth operation of the banking system amid the Russian invasion.

It said the bank remained committed to its inflation targeting regime but in the current conditions, with forced administrative restrictions in place, market-based monetary instruments such as the key policy rate no longer play a significant role.

“With this in mind, the central bank has postponed its key policy rate decision. The key policy rate will therefore stay unchanged at 10%,” it said in a statement.

-Reuters


7:03 a.m. ET

Ukraine’s anti-corruption activists building supply chain they hope will stretch from Polish border to front lines

Until a week ago, Iryna Shyba and Paulina Li thought the battle of their lives would be the one to rid Ukraine of endemic corruption. Today, as a real war consumes their country, they find themselves making strange alliances as they shift their efforts to a massive humanitarian operation that aims to bring food to Kyiv and other besieged cities.

Ms. Shyba and Ms. Li are just two of a group of Ukraine’s young reformers – many of them judicial specialists who were working on rule-of-law projects funded by the European Union – who are now building a supply chain they hope will stretch from the Polish border to the cities on the front line. It will deliver everything from bulletproof vests and walkie-talkies to McDonald’s hamburgers.

They do so mostly out of a sense of civic responsibility, wanting to play a role in an impressive countrywide effort to resist the week-old Russian invasion. But they also do so knowing that people like them – young, Western-minded reformers who want to see their country join the European Union – could be targets should Russian President Vladimir Putin succeed in his campaign to subjugate Ukraine.

-The Globe’s Mark MacKinnon in Ukraine


6:45 a.m. ET

Russian forces have control of Kherson regional administration, says governor

Russian forces have occupied the regional administration building in Ukraine’s port city of Kherson, regional governor Hennadiy Laguta said in an online post on Thursday.

Russia’s defence ministry said it had captured Kherson on Wednesday but Ukraine has said its forces continue to defend the Black Sea port of about 250,000 people.

-Reuters


6:36 a.m. ET

France seizes Rosneft boss’s yacht as it tried to flee

French customs have seized a yacht belonging to Rosneft boss Igor Sechin as it tried to leave the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat in a breach of EU sanctions on Russian oligarchs, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

The move came as western states are implementing massive sanctions, including asset freezes, against Russia for invading its neighbour Ukraine. A separate nearly $600-million luxury yacht owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has also been seized, by German authorities, Forbes reported.

The 88-metre “Amore Vero” arrived in La Ciotat on Jan 3 and was due to stay there until April 1 for repairs, the finance ministry said in a statement, adding that the vessel was subject to the new sanctions.

But on Wednesday, customs officers noted the yacht was “taking steps to sail off urgently, without the repair works being over,” the statement said, adding that the officers therefore decided to seize it.

The finance ministry said the yacht belongs to a company whose main shareholder is Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

-Reuters


6:31 a.m. ET

ICC prosecutor launches Ukraine war crimes investigation

The International Criminal Court prosecutor has launched an investigation that could target senior officials believed responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide amid a rising civilian death toll and widespread destruction of property during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan announced the probe late Wednesday night after dozens of the court’s member states asked him to take action.

“An investigation by the International Criminal Court into Russia’s barbaric acts is urgently needed and it is right that those responsible are held to account,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. “The U.K. will work closely with allies to ensure justice is done.”

-The Associated Press


6:23 a.m. ET

Second round of Russia-Ukraine talks expected Thursday

Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow is ready for talks as another meeting by Ukrainian and Russian officials is expected to take place in Belarus Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting, Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that Russia will press its military action in Ukraine until achieving its goals, chiefly the “demilitarization of Ukraine” but added that it will be up to Ukrainians to choose what government they should have.

Talks are expected to be held in the Brest region of Belarus, which borders Poland.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said earlier Wednesday that his country was ready for talks to resume, but he noted that Russia’s demands hadn’t changed and that he wouldn’t accept any ultimatums.

-The Associated Press


5:51 a.m. ET

More than a million Ukrainians flee country as Russia accused of war crimes

More than a million people have now fled Ukraine for other parts of Europe, as Russian bombardment pound government buildings, apartments and schools across the country.

By Thursday morning, the eighth day of the war, 1.04 million Ukrainians had left the country, according to a tally by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It appears to be the most rapid European exodus of people since the Second World War, said Andrew Geddes, director of the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute.

Great waves of Ukrainians have jammed trains and highways in an attempt to seek safety, some waiting for days at border crossings out of the country.

With Russian forces accused of war crimes for their attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, “there’s been an acceleration in the last couple of days,” said Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the UNHCR. The refugee agency is planning for four million Ukrainian refugees.

“Whether we get there or how fast we get there, would depend very much on the conflict and how that evolves,” he said. “And also the ability of people to get to borders.” Not only has the Russian invasion created logistical difficulties, but the intensity of armed conflict has made fleeing increasingly risky.

“For some people, it’s very hard because they might have sick relatives, or they might be in a dangerous situation where it’s too dangerous to actually go out right now,” Mr. Saltmarsh said.

-The Globe’s Nathan VanderKlippe, Paul Waldie and Mark MacKinnon in Romania, Poland and Ukraine


5:45 a.m. ET

Russian ruble falls to new lows after ratings downgrades

The Russian ruble slid to new record lows against the dollar and euro on Thursday, after ratings agencies Fitch and Moody’s downgraded Russia’s sovereign debt to “junk” status.

Early Thursday, the ruble was more than 9% weaker against the U.S. dollar at 116.8 and down almost 8% against the euro at 125.1 on the Moscow Exchange, marking the first time the ruble has traded weaker than 110 to the dollar in Moscow and the first time it has breached 123 to the euro.

The Russian central bank imposed a 30% commission on foreign currency purchases by individuals on currency exchanges - a move brokers said appeared designed to curb demand for dollars - but that did little to halt the ruble’s slide.

-Reuters


5:33 a.m. ET

Southern port of Mariupol surrounded by Russia, Ukrainian official says

Ukraine’s southern port of Mariupol is surrounded by Russian troops, interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said on Thursday.

“The occupiers want to turn it into besieged Leningrad,” he said, referring to Nazi Germany’s siege of the then-Soviet city where about 1.5 million people died during two years of blockade.

-Reuters


5:23 a.m. ET

Kyiv city mayor says situation ‘difficult but under control’

The situation in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv is “difficult but under control,” mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Thursday.

Klitschko said there were no casualties overnight and that nighttime explosions were Ukrainian air defences striking down incoming Russian missiles. He said a heating system site damaged by Russian shelling on Wednesday would be fixed during the day.

-Reuters


5:16 a.m. ET

Estonia’s PM Kaja Kallas warns that Ukraine must win, or Putin will bring worse chaos to Europe

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, whose small European country sits on Russia’s doorstep, says the West has missed repeated chances to draw a hard line with Vladimir Putin, and argues it must stand up to him or he will set his sights beyond Ukraine.

“I think definitely Putin has to lose this war. Otherwise, it’s, again, a signal that he can get away with this and he has then, you know, other ideas,” Ms. Kallas said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Wednesday.

“We have a saying that your appetite grows while eating.”

Memories of Soviet rule are still raw in Estonia. Smaller than Nova Scotia, the northernmost Baltic state regained its independence in 1991. Since then, its wrapped itself in the protection of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – achievements that distinguish it from Ukraine. But that added security doesn’t give it ironclad certainty that it won’t be next if Mr. Putin’s invasion succeeds.

“Of course everybody is afraid because we know our neighbour,” Ms. Kallas said. The assurances from NATO that it is united and will defend the territory of all 30 member states gives Estonia confidence, she said, but “I couldn’t say for sure that Putin wouldn’t test this unity.”

-The Globe’s Marieke Walsh in Estonia


5:15 a.m. ET

UK says Russia has deployed thermobaric weapons in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed thermobaric weapons systems in Ukraine and London is worried about how broadly they could be used, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday.

“How far (Putin) will go, what weapons he will authorize to achieve his ultimate aim, is unknown but we’ve seen the use of massive amounts of artillery. We’ve seen the deployment of thermobaric artillery weapon systems and we worry how broad those could go,” Wallace said during a visit to Estonia.

Russia has denied using such weapons.

-Reuters


5:12 a.m. ET

Russian firms rush to open Chinese bank accounts as sanctions bite: report

The Moscow branch of a Chinese state bank has seen a surge in inquiries from Russian firms wanting to open new accounts, a person familiar with the matter said, as the country’s businesses struggle with international sanctions after its invasion of Ukraine.

“Over the past few days, 200-300 companies have approached us, wanting to open new accounts,” the person, who works at the Moscow branch of a Chinese state bank and has direct knowledge of its operations, told Reuters.

He declined to be named or have his bank identified as he is not authorized to speak with media.

It was not clear how widespread Russian demand for new accounts at Chinese banks was, but the banker source told Reuters many of the companies seeking new accounts do business with China and that he expected yuan transactions by such firms to increase.

-Reuters


5:10 a.m. ET

Poland starting to feel strain of Ukrainian refugee crisis

Poland is starting to show the strain of welcoming nearly 400,000 Ukrainians, with some shelters near the border now restricting how long refugees can stay.

The Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that more than 377,000 Ukrainians had entered Poland since Russia’s invasion began last Thursday, including 100,000 on Monday alone. The ministry added that the government has set up 49 reception points across the country to provide information, food, medical help and temporary shelter to refugees.

However, there are growing signs that the official response to the crisis has been haphazard, and that most of the critical support for the influx of people is coming from a stretched network of non-profit groups and ordinary Poles.

-The Globe’s Paul Waldie in Poland


5 a.m. ET

Ukraine’s Zelensky says defence lines holding against Russian attacks

Ukraine’s defence lines were holding against the Russian attack, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his latest video on Thursday, adding there had been no respite in Moscow’s shelling of Ukraine since midnight.

“We have nothing to lose but our own freedom,” Zelensky said, adding Ukraine was receiving daily arms supplies from its international allies.

He said it had been two years since Ukraine recorded its first COVID-19 case: “It’s been a week now that another virus attacked,” he said of Russia’s invasion.

Zelensky said Russia’s changing tactics and shelling of civilians in cities proved Ukraine was successful in resisting Moscow’s initial plan of claiming a quick victory through a land assault.

-Reuters


4:57 a.m. ET

EU prepares for millions of refugees from Ukraine

The EU must prepare for the arrival of millions of refugees as they flee war in Ukraine, the bloc’s top home affairs official said on Thursday, adding that she expected governments to agree a temporary protection scheme in the coming days.

“Already, almost 1 million are here,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said, with women and children entering the European Union via Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, which all have land borders with Ukraine.

The bloc’s interior ministers were set to agree in principle at a meeting on Thursday to automatically grant those fleeing Ukraine a residence permit and access to employment, social welfare and housing for up to three years, they said.

-Reuters


4:47 a.m.

China says reports it knew about Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine are ‘fake news’

China has denied reports it was warned about Russia’s impending invasion of Ukraine and requested Moscow delay its plans until after the end of the Beijing Olympics.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said such reports were “fake news” and a “despicable” attempt to divert attention and shift blame for the crisis in Eastern Europe.

While there have been efforts to recast Beijing as a potential peacemaker this week, Chinese officials have consistently blamed NATO and Washington for the situation in Ukraine, refusing to call Moscow’s actions an invasion and abstaining from two votes criticizing Russia at the United Nations.

-The Globe’s James Griffiths in Hong Kong


4:34 a.m. ET

EU considering SWIFT exclusion for Belarus banks: official

The European Union is considering excluding banks in Belarus from the SWIFT messaging system that underpins the global financial transactions, as it has already done for seven Russian banks, an EU official said on Thursday.

“On the SWIFT side, we’re also looking now at the preparation of the equivalents for the Belarus financial sector, but knowing that SWIFT is not as strategically important in the Belarus economy as it is in the Russian side,” the official said.

-Reuters


3:54 a.m. ET

UNHCR releases death toll but says figures are a vast undercount

The UN human rights office says 227 civilians have been killed and another 525 injured in its latest count of the toll in Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s military invasion that began a week ago.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says the tally eclipses the entire civilian casualty count from the war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces in 2014 – which left 136 dead and 577 injured.

The rights office admits that the figures so far are a vast undercount. It uses a strict methodology and counts only confirmed casualties. Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.

The rights office said in a statement late Wednesday that “real figures are considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration.”

Most of the casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and airstrikes, the rights office said.

-The Associated Press


3:28 a.m. ET

Huge Russian column still stalled on outskirts of Kyiv

Britain’s Ministry of Defense says that a Russian military column heading for Kyiv has made “little discernible progress” over the past three days and remains over 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the centre of the city.

The column has been delayed by Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdowns and congestion, the ministry said in its daily intelligence briefing Thursday.

Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands, the department said. Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson, but the military situation remains unclear, it added.

The ministry also noted that Russia has been forced to admit that 498 of its soldiers have been killed in Ukraine and another 1,597 have been wounded. The actual number of those killed and wounded will almost certainly be considerably higher and will continue to rise, it said.

-The Associated Press


3:12 a.m. ET

EU ministers to discuss preparations for Ukrainian refugees

With close to a million refugees already fleeing Ukraine for the eastern nations of the European Union, the bloc is bracing for the arrival of many more as the Russian invasion continues.

EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said Thursday ahead of a special meeting of justice and home affairs ministers that “we have to be prepared for millions of refugees to come to the European Union.”

The bloc is already moving toward granting temporary protection to those fleeing war, seeking to give temporary residence permits to refugees and allow them rights to education and work in the 27-nation bloc.

The EU Commission has already promised at least 500 million euros ($560 million) in humanitarian aid for the refugees. Johansson said the bloc will need funding and equipment.

-The Associated Press


3:06 a.m. ET

Hungary’s Orban calls EU unity paramount

Hungary will not veto European Union sanctions against Russia and the unity of the 27-member bloc is paramount given the war in Ukraine, which Hungary condemns unequivocally, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

Orban, who has been strongly criticized by the Hungarian opposition for his friendly ties with Russia, flagged what he called an adjustment in relations because of the war, though adding that should not have an impact on energy deals.

This week, Hungary joined an initiative by eight EU leaders to start membership talks with neighbouring Ukraine, but NATO-member Hungary has rejected the transport of lethal weapons through its territory to its eastern neighbour.

“With regard to sanctions, we will not veto them. We will not block the EU from imposing sanctions on Russia. Now the unity of the EU is paramount,” the nationalist Orban told the news website mandiner.hu in an interview published on Thursday.

-Reuters


2:54 a.m. ET

Support grows in neutral Finland, Sweden for closer ties to NATO

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has profoundly changed Europe’s security outlook, including for Nordic neutrals Finland and Sweden, where support for joining NATO has surged to record levels.

A poll commissioned by Finnish broadcaster YLE this week showed that, for the first time, more than 50% of Finns support joining the Western military alliance. In neighboring Sweden, a similar poll showed those in favour of NATO membership outnumber those against.

The attack on Ukraine prompted both Finland and Sweden to break with their policy of not providing arms to countries at war by sending assault rifles and anti-tank weapons to Kyiv. For Sweden, it’s the first time offering military aid since 1939, when it assisted Finland against the Soviet Union.

Apparently sensing a shift among its Nordic neighbours, the Russian Foreign Ministry last week voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to “drag” Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they joined the alliance.

-The Associated Press


2:20 a.m. ET

In about-face, IPC bans Russian, Belarusian athletes

In a stunning reversal, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games for their countries’ roles in the war in Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee said Thursday in Beijing.

The about-face comes less than 24 hours after the IPC on Wednesday announced it would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete when the Games open on Friday, but only as neutral athletes with colours, flags and other national symbols removed.

The IPC received immediate criticism for its initial decision. It was termed a betrayal that sent the wrong message to Russia’s leadership. The IPC also said it was evident that many athletes would refuse to compete against Russians or Belarusians, creating chaos for the Paralympics and damaging the reputation.

-The Associated Press


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.

-Reuters


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.”

-Reuters


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 Vladimir 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 grey shades – pulled up to the back entrance of the main hospital about 30 miles (48 kilometres) 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

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