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Live updates: Ukraine seeks more air defense capabilities

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The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

WASHINGTON — Additional air defense capabilities are the number one priority for Ukraine’s military right now, the country’s U.S. defense attache, Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetskyi, said Tuesday after returning from a meeting at the Pentagon.

“It can be ground based air defense systems. It can be fighter jets, whatever possible,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He said there are countries around the world that have Soviet-produced air defense systems that the Ukrainians already know how to operate. “The U.S. government can also motivate those countries to provide us this equipment,” he said.

They also need additional anti-tank, anti-armor weapons and coastal defense capabilities to defend against Russian ships at the south.

He said Ukraine is grateful for the support it has gotten from the U.S. and its allies, which has allowed Ukraine to slow the Russian advance. “As combat is ongoing, we need more right now,” Kremenetskyi said. “So we try to work with our partners to have it as soon as possible.”

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UNITED NATIONS — Natalia Mudrenko, the highest-ranking woman at Ukraine’s U.N. Mission, is accusing Russia of effectively holding civilians “hostage,” and says “the critical situation” in Mariupol and other cities demands immediate action by world leaders and humanitarian and medical organizations.

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She told a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday afternoon on women in conflict that civilians, mostly women and children, “are not allowed to leave and the humanitarian aid is not let in.”

“If they try to leave, Russians open fire and kill them,” Mudrenko said, her voice shaking with emotion. “They are running out of food and water, and they die.”

The Russian military has denied firing on convoys and charged that the Ukrainian side was blocking the evacuation effort.

Mudrenko said a 6-year-old girl died Monday in the besieged city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea, “alone in the last moments of her life as her mother was killed by Russian shelling.”

On Tuesday in the Mykolaiv region, she said “Russian occupiers fired at a van with a group of female teachers of the local orphanage (and) three of them were killed.” She said there are also “cases of child sexual violence committed by occupiers.”

Mudrenko said the war has highlighted the role of Ukrainian women in defending their country, saying there were 57,000 women in the army at the start of 2021, comprising 22.8% of the force.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the leaders of the U.S. and Britain for banning Russian oil imports.

“This is a powerful signal to the whole world,” he said in his daily address to the nation at the close of another day of war. “Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money.”

Zelenskyy said when he went to address the British Parliament, “the scariest figure was the 50 Ukrainian children killed in 13 days of war. But then in an hour it became 52 children. I will never forgive this. And I know that you will never forgive the occupiers.”

Zelenskyy called for negotiations with Russia on ending the war. “The war must be stopped. We need to sit down at the negotiating table, but for honest, substantive talks.”

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday that Poland’s offer to give its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S. so they can be passed to Ukraine raises serious concerns for the NATO alliance and the plan is not “a tenable one.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the prospect of jets departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace contested with Russia in the Ukraine war is concerning. He said it’s not clear to the U.S. that there is a substantive rationale for it.

The U.S., he said, will continue to talk to Poland about the matter.

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DETROIT — McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Electric all announced Tuesday they were suspending their business in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

McDonald’s is temporarily closing all of its 850 restaurants in Russia, but will continue paying its 62,000 employees there.

The Chicago-based burger giant said it will temporarily close 850 stores but continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia “who have poured their heart and soul into our McDonald’s brand.”

Starbucks is temporarily closing 130 franchised stores but its franchisee will continue paying 2,000 Russian workers.

Coca-Cola said it is suspending its business; its bottling partner has 10 plants in Russia. PepsiCo is suspending soda sales but will keep making milk and baby formula.

GE said it was suspending its business except for essential medical equipment and electrical service.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities say that Russian warplanes have carried new strikes on residential areas in eastern and central parts of the country.

Ukrainian officials said that that two people, including a 7-year-old child, were killed in the town of Chuhuiv just east of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine late Tuesday. And in the city of Malyn in the Zhytomyr region west of the capital Kyiv at least five people, including two children, were killed in a Russian air strike.

The Russian artillery has pounded the outskirts of Kyiv, forcing civilians to hide in shelters while water, food and power supplies have been cut, said Yaroslav Moskalenko, an official who coordinates humanitarian efforts in the Kyiv region.

He said that the shelling made it impossible to evacuate the bodies of five people who died when their vehicle was fired upon in Borodianka near Kyiv and the bodies of 12 patients of a psychiatric hospital there. He said that another 200 patients were stuck there without food and medicines.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Belarusians living in Ukraine have formed a military unit and are preparing to join the fight against Russia.

Jan Derbeiko, 26, said he has been living in Kyiv since November 2020 after being forced to leave Belarus for participating in protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.

“I had a job and I had plans for future, but the war happened here,” Derbeiko said. “At that moment, I decided to stay here. I’ve already lost my homeland and now my new home is being destroyed.”

Derbeiko urged all Belarusians “who have a conscience and honor left” to provide “maximum support to the Ukrainians.”

He said the squadron of Belarusians, which grows each day, he is preparing to take their positions when the Russian soldiers attack Kyiv.

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Russia’s Central Bank has sharply tightened currency restrictions amid crippling Western sanctions over the Russian war in Ukraine.

The bank ordered the country’s commercial banks to cap the amount clients can withdraw from their hard currency deposits at $10,000. Any withdrawals above that amount would be converted to rubles at the current exchange rates.

It also told commercial banks to stop selling hard currency to clients, a measure that will likely foment a black market for foreign currency. The draconian restrictions are unprecedented since the Soviet times when the authorities maintained strict hard currency controls. The Central Bank noted that the currency controls were tightened because of the Western sanctions that froze a large share of the Central Bank’s hard currency reserves. The crippling blow to the country’s financial system also prevented Russia from getting foreign cash.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Authorities evacuated thousands of people from the eastern city of Sumy on Tuesday, a senior Ukrainian official said.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that 5,000 people, including 1,700 foreign students, were evacuated from Sumy.

Vereshchuk reaffirmed that Ukraine will not accept Moscow’s offer to establish safe corridors for civilians to head toward Russia, saying it will only agree to safe exits leading westward.

Vereshchuk said that the evacuation from the southern port of Mariupol failed Tuesday because the Russian troops fired on a Ukrainian convoy carrying humanitarian cargo to Mariupol that was to carry civilians from the city on its way back. She said the city was in a “catastrophic situation” cut from water, power and communications, adding that a child in Mariupol has died of dehydration.

The Russian military has denied firing on convoys and charged that the Ukrainian side was blocking the evacuation effort.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian president’s wife thanked the country’s allies Tuesday for their support and urged them to do more to deter Russia.

Olena Zelenska said in an open letter to global media released Tuesday that the Russian invasion amounted to “the mass murder of Ukrainian civilians.”

She said that “the most terrifying and devastating of this invasion are the child casualties,” mentioning eight-year-old Alice who died on the streets of Okhtyrka while her grandfather tried to protect her. She also cited 14-year-old Arseniy was hit in the head by wreckage, and could not be saved because an ambulance could not get to him on time because of intense fires.

Zelenska added that “this war is being waged against the civilian population, and not just through shelling,” citing the lack of basic medicines in the besieged Ukrainian cities.

She seconded President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call on Western allies to help counter the Russian air superiority, saying “close the sky, and we will manage the war on the ground ourselves.”

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The Russian military offered again on Tuesday to provide humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave five Ukrainian cities after several previous attempts to establish safe exits have failed.

Ukrainian officials said that Russian shelling again made it impossible for civilians to use the corridors on Tuesday despite a deal reached a day earlier. The Russian military has countered the claim, alleging that Ukraine only has allowed civilians to use one corridor from the city of Sumy and blocked other routes from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.

Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Tuesday that the Russian military has announced it will stop firing at 10 a.m. Wednesday to let civilians leave safely via the corridors. He suggested setting up a hotline between Russia and Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland said it would give all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S., apparently agreeing to an arrangement that would allow them to be used by Ukraine’s military. Ukraine has pleaded for more warplanes.

The decision came Tuesday as Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Ukraine with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighter jets.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Poland is ready to deliver the jets to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

“At the same time, Poland requests the United States to provide us with used aircraft with corresponding operational capabilities,” it said.

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UNITED NATIONS — Ireland’s foreign minister saluted the resilience and courage of Ukraine’s women. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations hailed their bravery in defending their homes and country. And the head of the International Monetary Fund told “sisters” in Ukraine: “We admire your courage, we share your pain, we stand with you.”

It was International Women’s Day on Tuesday and at a U.N. Security Council meeting focusing on empowering women economically in conflict areas many speakers decried Russia’s war on neighboring Ukraine, and its impact on women.

But Russia’s deputy ambassador Gennady Kuzmin lashed out at sanctions on his country and accused “a cold Western world” of looking on with indifference for eight years at what he called “the murders perpetrated by the Kyiv junta against women and children in Donetsk and Luhansk,” the Russian-backed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine.

Sima Bahous, the head of UN Women, told the council that in Ukraine “humanitarian needs are multiplying and spreading by the hour,” and the majority of those fleeing the conflict are women and children. She warned of the risk of “a backsliding of women’s rights and women’s access to employment and livelihoods” in the war-torn country.

Bahous told a separate U.N. Women’s Day event that “the horrifying situation” in Ukraine and its impacts on women also “remind us that all conflicts, from Ukraine to Myanmar to Afghanistan, from the Sahel to Yemen, exact their highest price from women and girls.”

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JERUSALEM — Israel said Tuesday it will provide temporary refuge to some 25,000 Ukrainians outside of its Law of Return, under which all Jews are eligible for citizenship.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement that 20,000 Ukrainians who were in Israel without legal status before the outbreak of fighting will be shielded from repatriation “until the danger subsides.” Another 5,000 Ukrainians will initially be granted three-month visas and will be allowed to work if the fighting continues beyond then. Ukrainians can apply for the program online through the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website.

Israel expects to absorb around 100,000 Ukrainians through its Law of Return, under which Jews from anywhere in the world can come to Israel and get citizenship, Shaked said.

Established in the wake of the Holocaust, Israel views itself as a refuge for Jews fleeing war and persecution worldwide. But it has been reluctant to absorb non-Jewish immigrants, including Africans fleeing conflict and poverty.

It has also refused to allow the return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Israel says allowing the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants — who now number more than 5 million — would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state.

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DETROIT — Skyrocketing nickel prices are likely to ripple through the auto industry and raise costs in the nascent global market for electric vehicles.

Nickel is a key component in automotive battery cathodes, and Russia is the third-largest producer of the metal. Trading of the commodity was suspended Tuesday on the London Metal Exchange after nickel prices doubled to an unprecedented $100,000 per metric ton.

The LME said trading did not resume Tuesday, and the suspension could last longer given the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nickel prices have quadrupled in a week over supply issues, and the spike Tuesday forced the LME to shut down electronic and floor trading.

Large automakers General Motors and Toyota said nickel supplies haven’t been affected yet. But a Toyota spokesman in the U.S. said the company is watching the prices. Toyota has seen costs of nearly all precious metals rise, so it’s only a matter of time until it feels the increases, the spokesman said. Tesla, the world’s largest electric vehicle maker, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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LONDON — Consumer goods conglomerate Unilever said Tuesday that it has suspended all imports and exports of its products into and out of Russia, and that it will not invest any further capital into the country.

The company condemned the war in Ukraine as “a brutal and senseless act by the Russian state” Tuesday. It said it will continue to supply everyday essential food and hygiene products that are made in Russia to people there, but will keep that under review.

Unilever, which owns hundreds of food and personal care brands including Hellmann’s and Dove, also said it has stopped business operations in Ukraine and will instead focus on helping its employees.

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LONDON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy evoked British wartime leader Winston Churchill as he told the U.K. Parliament that his country would fight Russia’s invasion to the end in Ukraine’s cities, fields and riverbanks.

Zelenskyy told British lawmakers “we will not give up and we will not lose,” in a speech that evoked Churchill’s stirring “never surrender” speech during the darkest days of World War II.

Speaking by video from Ukraine to a packed House of Commons chamber, Zelenskyy urged Britain to increase sanctions on Russia and to recognize Russia as “a terrorist country.”

Tuesday’s address was the first time a foreign leader was allowed to speak in the House of Commons. Screens and simultaneous translation headsets were set up in the House of Commons so lawmakers could hear him.

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PARIS — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to discuss the response to Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Macron was briefing Blinken on his most recent round of conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is pressing ahead with the Ukraine invasion despite global condemnation and severe sanctions being imposed on his country.

The two men were also to discuss the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, which are nearing an end with conflicting signals about whether the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s atomic program can be salvaged.

Blinken arrived in Paris for a two-hour stop from a tour of the Baltic states, Moldova and Poland where he heard firsthand dire concerns about Russia’s actions from leaders.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch defense ministry says it is working with Germany to station Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Slovakia at the request of NATO.

Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said Tuesday that the Dutch ruling coalition agrees “in principle” to the deployment on the alliance’s eastern flank as a defensive measure.

Ollongren says that some 150-200 Dutch troops will head east with the missile system as soon as the Cabinet gives formal approval. The defense ministry said the missiles can take down airplanes, helicopters and cruise missiles up to an altitude of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).

The Dutch military’s Patriot systems have previously seen service in both Gulf wars and were stationed in southern Turkey from 2013-2015 to intercept missiles from Syria.

Germany announced late last month that it planned to send Patriots to Slovakia.

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BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that Canada will prolong its military mission in Latvia in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine and plans to send more troops there soon.

Canada’s Operation Reassurance is conducting training and exercises alongside its NATO partners in Latvia to help deter Russia from launching an attack on any of the Baltic states or Poland.

“This mission was set to expire next year and in light of the situation in Europe, we decided to renew it ahead of schedule,” Trudeau said. He says 130 more Canadian personnel would join it in coming weeks.

Trudeau also defended Canada’s decision to supply lethal aid to Ukraine, including rocket launchers and hand grenades, despite some weapons shortfalls at home.

“All those weapons are much more useful right now and in the coming weeks, in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their lives than they would be in Canadian hands,” he said.

Speaking alongside Trudeau at the Adazi military base in Latvia, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Spain is also set to send around 150 more troops to the Baltic state to bolster its presence there.

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WASHINGTON — President Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. is “targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy” by banning imports of Russian oil, the latest sanction intended to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

“We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,” he said in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

Biden’s announcement came amid rising pressure from Democrats and Republicans, and it reflects a willingness to accept the political risk of rising gas prices to economically retaliate against Russia.

“Defending freedom is going to cost,” Biden said. “It’s going to cost us as well in the United States.”

Although Biden has tried to work in concert with European allies, he acknowledged that many are not announcing a similar ban because they’re more reliant on Moscow for oil and gas.

“So we can take this step when others can not,” he said. “But we’re working closely with Europe and our partners to develop a long term strategy to reduce their dependence on Russian energy as well.”

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LONDON — Britain is joining the United States in announcing a ban on imports of Russian oil.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says oil and oil products from Russia will be phased out by the end of the year. He said the transition period “will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports,” which account for 8% of U.K. demand.

Kwarteng said the U.K. would work with its other oil suppliers, including the U.S., the Netherlands and the Gulf states, to secure extra supplies.

President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. It follows pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a glaring omission in the massive sanctions put in place on Russia over the invasion.

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The Kremlin says that Russian President Vladimir Putin had another phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he also spoke to Bennett on Tuesday and thanked him for his mediation.

Bennett visited Moscow for a meeting with Putin on Saturday, trying to help broker an end to the war with Ukraine. After meeting with Putin, Bennett spoke to Zelenskyy and French President Emmanuel Macron and also visited Berlin on Saturday for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Bennett also spoke to Putin by phone on Sunday.

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LONDON — Sports apparel and shoe company Adidas is the latest Western brand to halt its operations in Russia because of the Ukraine invasion.

The company said Tuesday that it has suspended the operations of its retail stores and e-commerce website in Russia until further notice, though it continues to pay its employees there.

Adidas, based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, said it will make future business decisions and take action as needed, “prioritizing our employee’s safety and support.”

“As a company, we strongly condemn any form of violence and stand in solidarity with those calling for peace,” the company said in a statement.

It’s also donating 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to refugee and children’s charities and clothing to the Global Aid Network for people in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Last week, Adidas suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union. Nike has also shut its stores in Russia.

Sales in Russia account for only about 3% of Adidas’s total global revenue, according to company data.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s top intelligence official said Tuesday the U.S. believes Russia underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance before launching an invasion that has likely caused thousands of Russian casualties.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a congressional panel that U.S. officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin feels “aggrieved” by Russia’s failure to subdue Ukraine and that he perceives that he cannot afford to lose the war. But what Putin might consider a victory could change given the escalating costs of the conflict to Russia, Haines said.

Despite Putin’s announcement that he would raise Russia’s alert level for nuclear weapons, Haines said the U.S. has not observed unusual changes in Russia’s nuclear force posture.

Haines said it is “unclear at this stage” whether Russia will try to conquer all of Ukraine, something that would require more resources than Putin has committed.

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HELSINKI — Flights from the eastern Finnish town of Savonlinna near the Russian border to the capital, Helsinki, have been temporarily suspended due to disruptions in GPS signal in eastern parts of the Nordic country, preventing pilots from landing safely.

Finnish communications authority Traficom confirmed Tuesday that GPS disruptions have been recorded in eastern Finland, but declined to comment on how long or how wide the disruptions were.

Transaviabaltika, a Lithuanian airline that operates on the Finnish domestic route with a small turboprop plane, said its pilots have tried landing several times at the Savonlinna airport since Sunday, but have been forced to turn back to Helsinki each time as the GPS signal was disrupted.

Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (833-mile) land border with Russia. The lakeside town of Savonlinna is a mere 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the border.

In late 2018, the Finnish government said the country’s GPS location signals were intentionally disrupted in the northern Lapland region and the country’s prime minister acknowledged that it was possible that Russia was the disrupting party.

At the same time, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said Russian forces in the Arctic disturbed GPS location signals during a large NATO drill in the country.



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