Follow real-time updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington, told Reuters Sunday he’d “never heard of” Russia requesting military and economic aid from China following reports of such requests from the New York Times and Financial Times, who spoke with unnamed U.S. officials.
Pengyu told Reuters China finds the current situation in Ukraine “disconcerting,” and supports a “peaceful settlement of the crisis.”
Liu added, “utmost efforts should be made to support Russia and Ukraine in carrying forward negotiations despite the difficult situation to produce a peaceful outcome.”
The reports from the New York Times and Financial Times did not outline China’s response to the alleged requests, nor include specifics as to the type of military aid Russia might have requested.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is set to meet with Chinese foreign policy official Yang Jiechi in Rome Monday to discuss China’s relationship with Russia. Sullivan told CNN Sunday China would face consequences if it aided Russia financially, as heavy sanctions by the U.S. and NATO allies have decimated Russia’s economy. Sullivan would not confirm whether the U.S. would go as far as to sanction China as punishment for aiding Russia.
The World Health Organization, the U.N. Population Fund and UNICEF called for the halt of all attacks on health care systems in Ukraine, the three organizations said in a joint statement Sunday.
“To attack the most vulnerable – babies, children, pregnant women, and those already suffering from illness and disease, and health workers risking their own lives to save lives – is an act of unconscionable cruelty,” the organizations wrote.
The organizations also called for an immediate ceasefire to allow for humanitarian assistance and a peaceful end to the war.
The release pointed to the WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care, which found at least 12 people have died and at least 34 have been injured as a result of attacks in which health care facilities in Ukraine were damaged or destroyed.
On Thursday, Russian airstrikes and shelling leveled multiple civilian buildings in the south eastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, including a maternity hospital, killing at least three people including one child, according to Mariupol’s city council via the Associated Press.
Russian prosecutors have threatened to arrest corporate leaders of Western companies in Russia if they criticize the government, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday based on unnamed sources. Prosecutors also threatened to seize the assets of companies that pull out of Russia, as dozens have in recent weeks following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last week advocated for a law that would nationalize assets of foreign companies across several sectors that have pulled out Russia, the report said.
The report comes the same day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on American companies Microsoft, Oracle and SAP to “stop supporting your products in Russia, stop the war!” Zelensky deemed the companies’ efforts “‘half’ decisions.” Read more about Zelensky’s comments here.
Find a running list of companies that have distanced themselves from Russia since it began its invasion of Ukraine here.
Russia has requested military equipment from China to use in its invasion of Ukraine, unnamed U.S. officials told the New York Times Sunday, which reported that Russia also requested financial support from China as heavy sanctions continue to tank Russia’s economy.
The report comes a day before White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is set to meet with Chinese foreign policy official Yang Jiechi in Rome to discuss China’s relationship with Russia. “We have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Sullivan said to CNN Sunday, adding there would be consequences if China backed Russia financially, though he would not outright say if the U.S. would sanction China.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said at a press conference Monday the country’s relationship with Russia “is valued for its independence,” and that the Chinese government aims to keep the relationship “free from interference or discord sown by third parties,” according to CNBC.
Sullivan also confirmed that the U.S. believes China knew that Russia “was planning something” before the invasion, though it’s unclear what exactly China knew. “The Times report suggests many U.S. officials believe it unlikely China will attempt to convince Putin to shift his stance on Ukraine, despite the Biden administration’s hopes for such an attempt.
Former presidential candidate and congress member Tulsi Gabbard shared unsubstantiated claims Sunday about the U.S. backing biological laboratories in Ukraine, propping up potentially dangerous, false Russian propaganda about the U.S. developing bioweapons in Ukraine.
Read more on Gabbard’s comments and the popular but unfounded conspiracy here.
Members of Russia and Ukraine’s negotiating delegations independently said Sunday they see progress on negotiations and an agreement could come as soon as this week.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a video posted to his Twitter and translated to Reuters, “I think that we will achieve some results literally in a matter of days,” clarifying Ukraine doesn’t plan to “concede” on any major issues. Russian and Ukrainian delegations plan to conduct their fourth round of negotiations early this week, the Kyiv Independent reported, citing Podolyak.
Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Russian Duma’s committee on international affairs, said he sees “considerable progress” in negotiations according to Russian news agency TASS and “this progress may develop into a common stance within days and some documents to be signed.”
U.S. Deputy Sec. of State Wendy R. Sherman said on Fox News Sunday she sees progress in discussions, but warned she believes Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to continue the Russian invasion. Sherman said, “We are seeing some signs of a willingness to have real, serious negotiations, but…so far, it appears that Vladimir Putin is intent on destroying Ukraine.”
American journalist Brent Renaud was killed Sunday in Irpin, a small city outside of Kyiv, according to a social media post reportedly from the Kyiv regional police chief and later acknowledged by the New York Times, where Renaud’ had contributed through the years.
Cliff Levy, a Times deputy managing editor, said in a Sunday morning tweet the Times is “deeply saddened” to hear about Renaud’s death, calling him a “ talented photographer and filmmaker.”
Renaud was a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, producing humanitarian documentaries across several continents alongside his brother, Craig Renaud. The Times said he last worked for the publication in 2015, though used a Times press badge in his Ukraine coverage.
Jane Ferguson, a contributor to PBS and the New Yorker, said a Ukrainian police officer told her at the site where Renaud was killed: “Tell America, tell the world, what they did to a journalist,” indicating Russian forces killed Renaud.
U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on CBS’ Face The Nation the news was “shocking and horrifying,” and the U.S. “will be responding accordingly.”
Russian forces kidnapped the mayor of Dniprorudne, a small city in southern Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, said in a Sunday tweet. Ukrainian authorities alleged Russian forces kidnapped Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, earlier this week.
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, said the EU “strongly condemns” alleged abduction in Dniprorudne in a Sunday tweet, writing, “It is yet another attack on democratic institutions in #Ukraine and an attempt to establish illegitimate alternative government structures in a sovereign country.”
Here are additional updates from Sunday morning:
The death toll from Russia’s air strikes on a military training center on the outskirts of Lviv—near the Polish border—rose to 35, the Lviv regional administration announced on Sunday.
An additional 134 people were injured in the strike and are now hospitalized, the authorities added, noting that the early morning strikes were carried out warplanes flying over the Azov and Black Sea.
In a statement on Facebook, the regional governor of Lviv Maksym Kozytskyy said “Once again I stress and appeal to all governments of NATO countries: NATO, close the sky over Ukraine! Close the sky over Ukraine or provide us military planes! Now that the shelling is approaching the borders of NATO countries, is that crucial moment!”
— Siladitya Ray
The U.K.’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, issued a warning to companies on Sunday “to think very carefully” about any investments that would aid Vladimir Putin’s regime, as London looked step up economic sanctions against Moscow.
Sunak said he was clear that there is no case for new investment in Russia and welcomed commitments made by companies to divest away from Russian assets.
“I welcome the consensus on the need to inflict maximum economic pain on Putin and his regime.” Sunak added.
— Siladitya Ray
Nine people were killed by a barrage of Russian missiles which struck the Yavoriv military training ground near the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Sunday, regional authorities said.
An additional 57 people were injured in the strike and are now hospitalized, the authorities added, noting that not all casualties were military personnel.
The strike took place a few dozen kilometers near the Polish border with more than 30 missiles being fired, according to the authorities. They added that the region’s air defense systems managed to intercept some of the projectiles but were overwhelmed by the sheer number Russian missiles.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov tweeted:
— Siladitya Ray
Russian forces are attempting to “envelop” Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern part of the country as they advance both from Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update on Sunday.
The report notes that Russia’s southern advance from Crimea is now looking to drive west towards Odessa, circumventing Mykolaiv where they have faced stiff resistance.
The update claims that Russia is “paying a high price” for each of its advance.
— Siladitya Ray
Russian forces fired as many as eight missiles at a military base in western Ukraine on Sunday, regional governor of Lviv said on Facebook.
The missiles reportedly struck the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC), a large military base that trains soldiers—primarily for peacekeeping missions.
The strikes come after several news outlets reported air raid sirens and explosion on the outskirts of the city of Lviv earlier. The city which is close to the Polish border has emerged a refuge for people fleeing fighting in the eastern half of the country and an important transit point for supplies entering the country.
The western city had largely been left untouched by the invading Russian forces so far. However, Sunday’s attack indicates that Russia may be expanding its offensive.
— Siladitya Ray
The Russian military has installed a new mayor in the occupied Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Saturday after the alleged abduction of the city’s mayor Ivan Fedorov earlier in the week.
The newly installed mayor, Galina Danilchenko, issued a video statement stating that her main task is to lead the city to adjust to “a new reality.” However, she has immediately been denounced as a “traitor” by regional officials.
Danilchenko, reportedly a former member of the city council, claimed in her televised announcement that there were people still in Melitopol who would try to destabilise “the situation and provoke a reaction of bad behaviour.”
— Siladitya Ray
Ukraine believes Russia is taking steps to seize “full and permanent” control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where around 400 Russian soldiers are present, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement Saturday, adding that Russian authorities denied the accusation.
Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company, told the IAEA that Russia plans to hand over the management of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which its troops seized last week, to Russia’s state-run company Rosatom, the statement said.
Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev denied to the IAEA that it had any plans to take over management of the power plant but admitted Russian experts were at the plant to provide “consultative assistance,” the statement said.
Energoatom said Saturday morning that one of the 11 Rosatom officials who arrived at the plant Friday claimed the plant belonged to Russia, CNN reported.
Russian military forces captured the plant March 4, which has six reactors, and Energoatom has said its employees have since been working at “gunpoint,” CNN reported.
Two of the four high voltage offsite power lines have been damaged but a functioning power line can provide the power the plant needs, the IAEA said.
– Lisa Kim
Around 13,000 people evacuated embattled Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, according to Reuters.
Russian troops prevented anyone from leaving the besieged city of Mariupol, she said, refuting accusations by Moscow that Ukrainian forces were keeping people in the city. Mariupol is in a dire humanitarian situation, with Doctors Without Borders warning that residents have not had drinking water for weeks, food is running out and patients are dying from a lack of medicine, CNN reported. Russian attacks had killed more than 1,500 civilians in Mariupol as of Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet.
— Lisa Kim
The Russian Central Bank said the Moscow Stock Exchange will remain closed next week through March 18, marking the third week in a row that trading will be halted on the country’s main stock market. The central bank said foreign exchange transactions will be allowed to resume Monday morning.
The Moscow Exchange hasn’t opened since February 25, one day after the Russian invasion into Ukraine began, and days before several Western countries imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia’s economy. Shares of Russian companies listed on overseas exchanges have plummeted since the invasion began.
— Anna Kaplan
Russia’s invasion into Ukraine has caused 1,581 casualties since the war began, the United Nations said Saturday, though the organization believes the actual figures are “considerably higher.” The U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said 579 civilians had been killed, including 42 children, and 1,002 had been injured.
The U.N. office said most of the casualties had been caused by “explosive weapons with a wide impact area,” including shelling and missile strikes. The organization cited delayed information from areas with intense fighting and reports pending corroboration as reasons why its figures may be an underestimate. It noted reports from the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, which alleged 79 children had been killed, and allegations of hundreds of casualties in the cities of Izium, Mariupol and Volnovakha. The figures released Saturday do not include casualty statistics from those areas.
— Anna Kaplan
President Joe Biden authorized a $200 million aid package for Ukraine on Saturday that will provide defense articles and services, and military education and training. In a memo released by the White House, Biden delegated Secretary of State Antony Blinken to direct the funds to Ukraine as part of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which allows a president to authorize a drawdown, or the “disposition of United States property or services,” to a foreign nation during an emergency.
White House officials told reporters the new aid includes more man-portable Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems and Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Earlier in the day, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Russia could attack shipments of military aid for Ukraine, describing them as “legitimate targets.”
This is the fourth drawdown package from the U.S. to Ukraine in the past year, and a senior U.S. defense official told reporters last week Biden’s last drawdown of $350 million constituted “the largest presidential drawdown package in history.” Another senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Wednesday the U.S. is very close to delivering the $350 million aid package, and expected for it to be completely closed out “in the coming days.”
Congress also passed a $1.5 trillion spending bill earlier this week, which appropriated $13.6 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine to help displaced refugees, provide military assistance and for any macroeconomic needs, according to the House Committee on Appropriations.
— Anna Kaplan
The Ukrainian postal service announced the winning design of its “Russian Warship, Go F–k Yourself” stamp contest Saturday to commemorate the soldiers who reportedly cursed at invading Russian troops on Snake Island when they were asked to surrender. Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar shared the design in a tweet, and said the postal service will soon publish the stamp.
Ukrposhta, the country’s postal service, offered up 20 designs for a public vote. The winner was made by Boris Groh, a Ukrainian who was forced to move from his home in Crimea after Russia’s annexation of it in 2014, according to Ukrposhta.
The stamp commemorates one of the most inspiring acts of defiance in the war so far by outgunned Ukrainians. In the early days of the invasion, a Russian warship hailed a small force of 13 Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island, which is about 186 miles west of Crimea, and told them to surrender. They reportedly responded, “Russian warship, go f–k yourself.”
All 13 were initially thought to have been killed, leading Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce he would posthumously award them with the Hero of Ukraine award. However, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine later wrote in a Facebook post it has a “strong belief” they may still be alive.
— Anna Kaplan
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed Saturday in a speech that Ukrainian forces had battered 31 Russian battalion tactical groups out of action in what he called the “biggest blow” to the Russian Army in decades. Zelensky said Russia had lost more than 360 tanks, 1,205 armored vehicles, about 60 planes and more than 80 helicopters. Forbes could not independently verify these claims.
Zelensky added during a separate news conference that between 500 and 600 Russian soldiers had surrendered to Ukrainian forces Friday, and that about 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the invasion began, according to multiple news outlets. Zelensky said during his speech Russia is recruiting reservists, conscripts and mercenaries to replenish its forces. He also called on Russia to “ensure silence” on more than 15 humanitarian corridors Ukraine has tried to establish for civilians to receive water, food and medicine.
Zelensky lauded a group of about 2,000 protesters who demonstrated against the Russian occupation of the city of Melitopol, and to demand the release of the city’s mayor, Ivan Fedorov. Multiple media outlets reported Russia took Fedorov into custody on Friday, and CNN reports he could face terrorism charges from the government of the self-styled Luhansk People’s Republic, a Russian-backed separatist state in east Ukraine. The New York Times reports the size of the protests were in the hundreds, and that Russian forces moved quickly to shut them down.
— Anna Kaplan
Roman Abramovich has been disqualified to serve as a director of British soccer team Chelsea FC due to government sanctions imposed on the billionaire earlier this week, the Premier League said in a statement on Saturday. The Premier League’s board said the decision does not impact the club’s “ability to train and play its fixtures.”
His disqualification comes days after the U.K. government sanctioned Abramovich and several other Russian oligarchs over their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Abramovich has previously denied reports he has links to the Kremlin. The U.K. established a special license to allow Chelsea to continue to play games and engage in other soccer-related activities amid the sanctions.
A disqualified director cannot own a club, and must put it up for sale, according to Premier League rules, however, Abramovich already announced last week he intended to sell the club. The billionaire, who’s net worth is about $7.8 billion, bought the club for about $190 million in 2003. Chelsea is now valued at more than $3 billion, according to Forbes estimates.
— Anna Kaplan
Italy’s financial police have seized a 469-foot superyacht that belongs to Russian industrial magnate Andrey Melnichenko, CNN reported late Friday. The sailing yacht is known as “SY A,” and it’s worth about $578 million, according to CNN, which cited a police statement.
The yacht was reportedly seized in Trieste, a port city on the Adriatic Sea.