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Live updates: 9:30 p.m. MDT: Explosions heard in Ukraine’s capital

Feb 24, 2022, 8:50 AM | Updated: 9:36 pm
Smoke and flame rise near a military building after an apparent Russian strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, Th...
Smoke and flame rise near a military building after an apparent Russian strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops have launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine's democratically elected government. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis:.

Related: Utah leaders react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine — Explosions are being heard before dawn in Kyiv as Western leaders scheduled an emergency meeting and Ukraine’s president pleads for international help.

The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear, but the blasts came amid signs that the capital and largest Ukrainian city was increasingly threatened following a day of fighting that left more than 100 Ukrainians dead.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government had information that “subversive groups” were encroaching on the city, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv “could well be under siege” in what U.S. officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and replace it with his own regime.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanized forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the call

China seeks to fly its citizens out of Ukraine.

BEIJING — China’s Embassy in Ukraine says it is arranging evacuation flights for Chinese citizens. An embassy statement Friday says conditions in Ukraine have “deteriorated sharply” but makes no mention of the Russian invasion.

The embassy gave no details on where the evacuation flights would be leaving from. Nor did it say when the charter flights might happen, saying that scheduling will depend on the “flight safety situation.” It says travelers should be packed and ready to react quickly once flight schedules are announced.

Passengers must have a passport from China, Hong Kong or Macau or a “Taiwan compatriot card.” The embassy earlier advised Chinese in Ukraine to stay home and to put a Chinese flag on their vehicles if they planned to travel long distances.

Australia PM raps China for Russia trade deal

ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s prime minister is accusing China of throwing Russia a lifeline by easing trade restrictions at a time the much of the world is trying to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was reacting Friday to a report in The South China Morning Post that China had announced it was fully open to Russian wheat imports.

Morrison noted that Australia, the United States, Britain, the European Union and Japan are imposing sanctions on Russia, and said China ‘s easing of trade restrictions “is simply unacceptable.”

In his words: “You don’t go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they’re invading another country.”

U.N. Security Council to vote on Friday

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council will vote Friday on a resolution that would condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest terms.” It also would demand an immediate halt to Russia’s invasion and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.

A senior U.S. official says the Biden administration knows the measure will be vetoed by Russia, but believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia’s international isolation.

The official says the council vote will be followed by a resolution voted on quickly in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly where there are no vetoes.

Ukraine president orders full military mobilization 

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president is ordering a full military mobilization to challenge the Russian invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a decree Thursday evening saying the mobilization would last 90 days.

He ordered the military’s General Staff to determine the number of those liable for service and reservists as well as the order of the call-up.

Zelensky gave his Cabinet the job of allocating funds to pay for the mobilization.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the leaders of the European Union, who held an emergency summit on Thursday, to “stand side by side with Ukraine and stop the aggressor.”

In a statement published on his page in the messaging app Telegram, Ukraine’s leader called for “powerful economic and financial sanctions” on Russia, including cutting off SWIFT and imposing an embargo on oil and gas trade.

“Europe’s fate is being decided in Ukraine: if (Russian President Vladimir) Putin doesn’t get a decent rebuff now, he will move on further,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the EU could also help Ukraine with weapons and ammunition and support a UN peacekeeping operation.

“Our people are dying for the freedom of Ukraine and Europe,” the statement said. “We have waited for a long time at an open door. We asked about NATO membership and didn’t get a response.”

Now Ukraine needs international security guarantees, “a clear European perspective, and swift and concrete action,” Zelenskyy concluded.

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BRUSSELS — European Union leaders pledged Thursday to impose tough economic and financial sanctions on Russia, but there is a lack of consensus within the West over cutting the country off the SWIFT financial payment system.

The Belgium-based cooperative is used by more than 11,000 institutions globally. It shuffles money from bank to bank, and removing Russia from it would likely also have an impact on European economies.

Ukraine has requested the move. While the head of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, said EU sanctions need to include the exclusion of Russia from the scheme, many EU leaders remain unconvinced.

Dutch Prime minister Mark Rutte, for instance, said such a decision would also hurt European economies. Rutte said it should be a last-resort measure that could be decided at a later stage.

“A number of countries are hesitant since it has serious consequences for themselves,” he said.

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BUDAPEST, Hungary – Several thousand demonstrators gathered in front of the Russian embassy in Hungary’s capital on Thursday to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demand that Hungary’s government cut its close ties with Moscow.

Waving the flags of Ukraine and the European Union, protesters chanted for peace and an end to the Russian attacks, and demanded that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban pull his country out of its business dealings with Russia.

The demonstration in Budapest was organized by a coalition of six opposition parties that have united to unseat Orban and his ruling Fidesz party in parliamentary elections April 3.

That coalition’s candidate for prime minister, independent conservative Peter Marki-Zay, criticized Orban for his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and urged the prime minister to “take a clear stand on Hungary’s commitment to the European Union and NATO, our allies.”

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BRUSSELS — Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, said he spent his day “reaching out all over the world” to organize a united front against Russia.

Borrell carried his two phones upon arrival at the urgent meeting of EU leaders held on Thursday evening in Brussels.

He said he called more than 20 countries.

“The African Union, (countries in) Latin America, in Southeast Asia, India, Japan, …. a lot,” he said.

Borrell added that the sanctions he prepared with the EU’s executive arm that were agreed by leaders in retaliation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will start having effect once adopted by the EU Council during a meeting of foreign affairs ministers scheduled Friday.

The EU said sanctions will cover “the financial sector, the energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods as well as export control and export financing, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria.”

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PARIS — French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that sanctions that the European allies are discussing to impose on Russia are “massive and aimed at asphyxiating Russia’s economy”.

Measures that will be taken against Russia are “very massive, very strong and I believe they will be very effective,” Le Drian said in an interview with the French broadcaster TF1.

France is working with allies in NATO and at the United Nations on getting an international consensus to isolate Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has at least temporarily withdrawn its remaining diplomatic presence from Ukraine.

The department says a core group of essential personnel who had relocated from the capital of Kyiv to the western city of Lviv near the Polish border earlier this month will now work from offices in Poland rather than on Ukrainian territory.

Earlier this week, the department had instructed those diplomats to work in Lviv during daylight hours but to spend their nights in Poland.

The department says they were ordered late Wednesday not to make the commute back to Lviv to work beginning Thursday until further notice.

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VIENNA — The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency says it has been informed by Ukraine that “unidentified armed forces” have taken control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, adding that there had been “no casualties or destruction at the industrial site.”

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi called for “maximum restraint” to avoid actions that could put Ukraine’s nuclear facilities at risk.

“In line with its mandate, the IAEA is closely monitoring developments in Ukraine with a special focus on the safety and security of its nuclear power plants and other nuclear-related facilities,” he said in a statement.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. aviation regulators widened the area of eastern Europe and Russia where U.S. airlines and pilots are barred because of the conflict.

In a new directive Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. airlines from flying over any part of Ukraine or Belarus and the western part of Russia.

Earlier restrictions had barred U.S. airlines from flying over the eastern part of Ukraine. The restrictions cover both passenger and cargo flights, but not military ones.

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MOSCOW — A Russian military plane crashed in the country’s Voronezh region that borders with Ukraine, the Russian military said Thursday night.

The An-26 plane was carrying out a planned flight transporting military equipment and crashed because of technical failure, military officials said, adding that the plane’s entire crew died in the crash.

They didn’t specify how many crew members were on board of the plane.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden says the sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine will not disrupt the global oil and natural gas markets.

Biden says, “Our sanctions package is specifically designed to allow energy payments to continue.”

The president announced a series of sanctions at a White House speech Thursday. The sanctions include restrictions on exports to Russia and sanctions on Russian banks and state-controlled companies.

Biden also says that U.S. oil and gas companies should not exploit the geopolitical risks to hike their prices and raise their profits.

A key concern has been preserving Russian oil and natural gas exports, which are vital sources for Europe and other countries. Financial markets already view the Russian invasion in Ukraine as straining energy supplies with the soon to expire futures contract for Brent crude increasing more than 5% to top $100 a barrel.

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UNITED NATIONS — Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations has asked the president of the 193-member General Assembly to prepare for an emergency session in the coming days in light of Russia’s military aggression.

Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya tweeted Thursday that the meeting should be held under the so-called “Uniting for Peace” resolution. The resolution gives the General Assembly the power to call emergency meetings to consider matters of international peace and security when the Security Council is unable to act because of the lack of unanimity among its five veto-wielding permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a resolution condemning Russia in the strongest terms possible for attacking Ukraine and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all its forces — knowing that Russia will veto the legally binding measure, according to a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

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ROME — Addressing fellow G-7 leaders, Italian Premier Mario Draghi warned that the crisis over Ukraine “could last for a long time, we must be prepared.”

He thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for sharing intelligence in recent weeks. He also had praise Thursday evening for the European Commission for putting what he called “a good proposal of sanctions on the table.”

Italy is “completely aligned with France, Germany and the European Union” on sanctions, he said.

“We must be united, firm, decisive and we must re-affirm in every possible moment our full support to Ukraine,’’ Draghi said in his G-7 remarks, according to the premier’s office.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis:

UNITED NATIONS — A senior U.S. official says the U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on a resolution condemning Russia in the strongest terms possible for attacking Ukraine and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all its forces — knowing that Russia will veto the legally binding measure.

The United States believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia’s international isolation, and emphasizes that the veto will be followed quickly by a resolution in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly where there are no vetoes, the official said Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“This is a first step in how the U.N. responds to this premeditated war of choice that Russia has chosen to take, and we will see action in the General Assembly in the coming days,” he said, adding that it is part of a much broader, coordinated response that includes steps the Biden administration and its allies are taking.

The resolution is drafted under Article 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can be enforced militarily, according to the official.

By Edith M. Lederer

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he was “forced” to order a military action in Ukraine because of the Western refusal to heed Russian security demands.

Speaking at a Kremlin meeting with businesspeople Thursday, Putin said the military action was a “forced measure” that stemmed from rising security risks for Russia.

He said that he was surprised by the West’s “intransigence” regarding Moscow’s security demands. “I was surprised that didn’t move a millimeter on any issue,” he said. “They have left us no chance to act differently.”

Turning to Western sanctions, he said “Russia remains part of the global economy and isn’t going to hurt the system that it is part of as long as it remains there.”

“Our partners should realize that and not set a goal to push us out of the system,” he said in an apparent warning to the West.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensnkyy has urged Moscow to end hostilities, adding that Russian airborne troops have been checked outside Kyiv.

“It wasn’t Ukraine that chose the path of war, but Ukraine is offering to go back to the path of peace,” he said Thursday.

He said a Russian airborne force in Hostomel airport outside Kyiv, which has a big runway, has been stopped and is being destroyed.

The Ukrainian leader said many Russian warplanes and armored vehicles were destroyed but didn’t give numbers. He also said an unspecified number of Russian troops was captured.

He said a difficult situation is developing in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city just over 20 kilometers from the Russian border. In the north the Russians are slowly advancing toward Chernihiv, Zelenskyy said.

He appealed to global leaders, saying that “if you don’t help us now, if you fail to offer strong assistance to Ukraine, tomorrow the war will knock on your door.”

——KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.

The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been decommissioned.

Zelenskyy said on Twitter that “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.” He added that “this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”

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BERLIN — Group of Seven leaders has strongly condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The German government, which currently heads the G7, put out a joint statement after a virtual leaders’ meeting Thursday, vowing to bring “forward severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions.”

It called “on all partners and members of the international community to condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, and raise their voice against this blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international peace and security.”
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HELSINKI — Baltic NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have received the first batches of U.S. military troops and equipment promised this week by U.S. President Joe Biden in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

An undisclosed number of U.S. F-35 fighters landed Thursday afternoon at NATO’s air base in Amari, near Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Estonian media reported. F-35 fighters were reported to have arrived also at NATO’s air base in Lithuania.

On Wednesday evening, the first 40 American soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in Latvia, Latvian media reported.
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A senior U.S. defense official says Thursday’s attack by Russia appears to be the first phase in what will likely be a multiple phased, large-scale invasion.

The official said it began around 9:30 p.m. U.S. eastern time, with land- and sea-based missile launches. The official said that roughly more than 100 missiles, primarily short-range ballistic missiles, but also medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and sea-launched missiles, were launched in the first few hours of the attack.

The official said the Russians are moving on three axes: From Crimea to Kherson, from Belarus toward Kyiv, and from the northeast to Kharkiv.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it’s not clear how many Russian troops are in Ukraine now, and the main targets of the air assault have been barracks, ammunition warehouses, and 10 airfields. The official said Russian ground forces began to move in to Ukraine from Belarus around 5 a.m. Eastern time.

By Lolita C. Baldor in Washington D.C.
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LONDON — Hundreds of protesters have gathered in London to urge Britain and other democracies to step up action against Russia.
Ukrainians living in the U.K. and activists gathered outside Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office Thursday, singing the Ukrainian national anthem.

Natalia Ravlyuk, who helped organize the protest, said they wanted the “toughest sanctions and total isolation of Russia now.”

“We … feel betrayed by democratic states because we have been talking about this war for eight years,” she said. “They just need to wake up and stop Putin now.”

Earlier dozens of protesters also gathered outside the Russian embassy in London.
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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations migration agency says it’s ready to respond to emerging humanitarian needs in Ukraine.

Antonio Vitorino, director general of the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, said: “IOM … is committed to staying and delivering vital assistance to the people of Ukraine.”

“Eight years of conflict in Ukraine have displaced over 1.4 million people who now rely on assistance to meet their daily needs,” he said in a statement. “This escalation will only deepen the humanitarian needs and compound the suffering of millions of families.”
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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.

The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been decommissioned.

Zelenskyy said on Twitter that “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.” He added that “this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
——

BUCHAREST, Romania — The interior ministry in Moldova, which shares a long border with Ukraine, says the country has set up two temporary centers to manage an influx of refugees.

The ministry said the centers, in Palanca and Ocnita in northern Moldova, are meant to “provide basic humanitarian, legal and food assistance to immigrants” for a period of 72 hours.

It said that the border has “been crossed by 6,937 people, of which 3,000 are Ukrainian citizens,” but didn’t specify over what period.
——

BOSTON — Ukraine’s cybersecurity service has reported continuing cyberattacks and said cellular networks were saturated with voice calls, suggesting people used text-messaging.

A distributed-denial-of-service attack that knocked some government websites offline Wednesday continued and there were sporadic internet outages across the country, said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for the U.S. network management firm Kentik Inc.

Measures to blunt the attacks were having some success, however, as major government websites including the defense and interior ministries were reachable Thursday.

Madory said Ukraine’s internet was “under severe stress presently.” Some cybersecurity experts said prior to the invasion that it might be in the Kremlin’s intelligence — and information war — interests not to try to take down Ukraine’s internet during a military attack.

Ukraine’s cybersecurity service published a list on its Telegram channel of known “active disinformation” channels to avoid.
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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and for the first time laid responsibility directly on Moscow for the tensions and violence in Hungary’s eastern neighbor.

A member of the European Union and NATO that borders Ukraine, Hungary under Orban has pursued close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a point of concern for many of Hungary’s western partners.

Orban said Thursday that the number of Ukrainian refugees approaching Hungary’s borders was likely to grow. He said Hungary is “prepared to care for them and will be able to meet this challenge quickly and effectively.”
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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military chief says Ukrainian troops are fighting the Russian army in the north and the south.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi said a battle was raging Thursday near the Hostomel air base 7 kilometers (less than 5 miles) northwest of the capital, Kyiv.

He said that in the south, fighting was going on near Henichesk, Skadovsk and Chaplynka.
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JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister has offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but stopped short of issuing a public condemnation of Russia’s attack.

Naftali Bennett said “our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine, who got into this situation without any wrongdoing on their part” during a speech Thursday.
Earlier in the day Israel’s foreign minister issued a formal condemnation of Russia’s attack.
——

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is still holding out hope for negotiations after Russia attacked Ukraine.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in a statement that “there is still time for good will, there is still room for negotiation, there is still room for the exercise of a wisdom that prevents the prevalence of partisan interests, protects the legitimate aspirations of each and saves the world from the madness and horrors of war.”

The Vatican has been loath to call out Russia by name, for fear of antagonizing the Russian Orthodox Church, a key focus of Francis’ ecumenical efforts.

The Vatican issued Parolin’s statement as the head of the largest eastern rite church in communion with Rome, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was in a bomb shelter under the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kiev along with many other people, his office in Rome said.
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MOSCOW — Russia’s Defense Ministry says the Russian military has destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 air bases.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered that Ukrainian servicemen be treated “with respect” and those who lay down their weapons offered safe corridors.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the loss of a Su-25 attack jet due to “pilot error.”
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BERLIN — The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has expanded its recommendations following the Russian attack on Ukraine to warn operators against flying over Moldova and Belarus and “exercise caution” over large parts of Russia.

EASA already had warned of high risks to civilian aircraft over Ukraine early Thursday morning. In an update, it cited a notice issued by Moldova closing its airspace for all flights due to the Ukrainian crisis.

It pointed to “a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft.”

It said operators also should “exercise caution” when operated in airspace controlled by Moscow and Rostov-on-Don in Russia “due to heightened military activity which may include launches of mid-range missiles penetrating into controlled airspace.”
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BERLIN — Germany’s economy minister says the country is putting in place additional measures to safeguard its energy supply amid the escalating tensions with Russia.

Germany gets about half of its natural gas and coal and about a third of its oil from Russia.

Robert Habeck told reporters in Berlin Thursday that measures already taken to fill gas reserves would ensure that “we will get safely through the winter.”

“Further measures have been put in place for the next winter”, he said, including legally requiring the owners of gas storage facilities in Germany to fill them during the summer.

Habeck said Germany’s national oil reserve would be sufficient for 90 days, should that need to be tapped.
——
BRUSSELS — A top European Union official is pledging to make Russia suffer with “massive and targeted sanctions” that will particularly hit the country’s elite.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the package of EU measures will include financial sanctions that will severely limit Russia’s access to the capital markets and have a severe impact on all sectors of its economy.

She said ahead of an EU summit Thursday that “these sanctions will suppress Russia’s economic growth, increase the borrowing costs, raise inflations, intensify capital outflow and gradually erode its industrial basis.”

Von der Leyen said the package also will aim to limit Russia’s access to crucial technologies.

She said that “our measures will weaken Russia technological positions in key areas, actually from which the elite makes most of their money.” She cited high-tech components and “cutting-edge software.”
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WARSAW, Poland — Parliament in Poland, a nation on NATO’s eastern flank which borders Ukraine and Belarus, strongly denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Lawmakers approved by acclamation a statement condemning Russia. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday will go down in history as “the day Russia chose war,” attacking another nation for no reason.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski sought to assure Poland that, as a NATO member, the country is safe.

Brzezinski noted in an interview on TVN24 television that there are now 10,000 U.S. soldiers in Poland. More than half were deployed in recent weeks amid the Russian threats.
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway’s prime minister says a planned NATO drill in Norway next month “was not a response to the events in Ukraine.”

From March 13, Norway is scheduled to host the Cold Response exercise with thousands of NATO troops taking part. The exercise has been planned for months and Russia was invited to observe it.

The Scandinavian country shares a nearly 200-kilometer (124-mile) land border with Russia.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said that Norway has long managed to maintain a pragmatic neighborly relationship. He said that “we will continue to have contacts” with Russia.
—-
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron says France and its European allies did everything to try to head off the attack on Ukraine. He said that they will show “no weakness” in their response.

Macron said in a televised address to the nation Thursday that Russia’s attack is a “turning point in European history” and as a result “there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives.”

He said that “to this act of war, we will reply without weakness, we will reply calmly and in a determined and united manner.”

“We have tried everything to avoid this war but it is here and we are ready,” Macron said.

He said that sanctions will be “proportionate” to Russia’s military operations, targeting its economy and its energy sector.

“We will show no weakness,” Macron said. “We will take all measures necessary to defend the sovereignty and stability of our European allies.”

——
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Slovak government has authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 soldiers to the border with Ukraine following Russia’s attack.
The defense ministry said Thursday they will be used if there is a massive wave of refugees.
The government said Slovakia is also ready to open more border crossings with Ukraine if needed.
Slovania last week lifted all coronavirus restrictions for potential refugees coming from Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion.
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ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made dialogue with Moscow “impossible.” He is demanding that Putin “immediately stop the bloodshed and withdraw military forces.”

Speaking after an urgent Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Draghi said Russia’s operation “concerns all of us, our way of living freely, our democracy.”

He said Italy, which has kept its embassy in Kyiv open, fully supported “very strong” sanctions against Russia and was coordinating with NATO and EU allies to beef up security on NATO’s eastern flank. He said that “we are reinforcing our already significant contribution to the military deployments in all the most directly exposed Allied countries.”
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HELSINKI — Latvian authorities say three Russian television channels will have their right to broadcast in Latvia suspended for several years with immediate effect.

They cited the channels’ incitement to hatred against Ukraine, justification of war and spreading of disinformation on Ukraine, Latvia and other countries.

Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council said Thursday that there will be a ban on broadcasts of the Rossija RTR channel for five years, Rossija 24 channel for four years and TV Centr International for three years.

European Union and NATO member Latvia is urging other European nations to make a similar decision.
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GENEVA — The head of the U.N. refugee agency is warning of “devastating consequences” of Russia’s military action in Ukraine and calling on neighboring countries to keep their borders open for people fleeing the fighting.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, pointed to “reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety” without elaborating.

He said in a statement that UNHCR had stepped up its operations and capacity in Ukraine and its neighboring countries, without providing details.
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KYIV, Ukraine — Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says that “Russia’s key goal is clear: to oust the Ukrainian leadership and stir up as much panic as possible.”

Podolyak said Thursday the Russians “want to cut off part of the country and they moving in in big convoys.”

He said that “we are seeing attempts to estabilize the situation in big cities, including Kyiv and Kharkiv.”
——
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Russia’s military actions in Ukraine violate international laws and amount to a “heavy blow” to regional peace and stability.

In an address to an international gathering in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey — which has enjoyed close ties to both Russia and Ukraine — “sincerely regrets” that the two countries are confronting each other.

“We reiterate our call for a resolution of the problems between Russia and Ukraine, with which we have deep historical ties and friendly relations, through dialogue, within the framework of Minsk agreements,” Erdogan said. He was referring to deals that aimed to restore peace in eastern Ukraine.
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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin has “unleashed war in our European continent” and Britain “cannot and will not just look away.”

In a televised address Thursday, Johnson said the U.K. and its allies will agree a “massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.”

“Our mission is clear: diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure,” Johnson said.

He is expected to give more details about new sanctions later Thursday.
——
GENEVA — The head of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-nuclear group says a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin to anyone who might meddle in Russia’s attack on Ukraine amounted to a threat to “launch a nuclear war.”

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was referring to the Russian leader’s comments as the attack began that “whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”

Fihn, whose group won the Nobel prize in 2017, said Russia had manufactured a “false justification” for its military action in Ukraine and said Putin’s warning was “basically to launch a nuclear war.”
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BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president has condemned Russia’s “reprehensible” attack on Ukraine and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “threatens the peace of the entire planet.”

Romania borders Ukraine and is a member of NATO and the European Union. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that Russia “chose the reprehensible and completely illegal path of massive armed violence against an independent and sovereign state.”

Iohannis said that Romania, a country of about 19.5 million people, is ready to deal with economic and humanitarian consequences that the conflict could generate.
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PRAGUE — Czech President Milos Zeman, who has been a leading pro-Russian voice among European Union leaders, has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an unprovoked act of aggression.”

Zeman said in an address to the nation that “Russia has committed a crime against peace.”

A week ago, Zeman said that warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine were a failure by CIA. He said repeatedly he didn’t believe Russian wanted to attack Ukraine.

“I admit I was wrong,” Zeman said Thursday. “An irrational decision by the leadership of the Russian Federation will cause significant damages to the Russian state.”
——
BRUSSELS — NATO’s secretary-general says Russia has launched war on Ukraine and shattered peace on the European continent.
Jens Stoltenberg called for a summit of NATO alliance leaders for Friday.
Stoltenberg said that “this is a deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion.” And he charged that “Russia is using force to try to rewrite history.”
Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine earlier Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling. Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border.
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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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BUCHAREST, Romania — The interior ministry in Moldova, which shares a long border with Ukraine, says the country has set up two temporary centers to manage an influx of refugees.
The ministry said the centers, in Palanca and Ocnita in northern Moldova, are meant to “provide basic humanitarian, legal and food assistance to immigrants” for a period of 72 hours.
It said that the border has “been crossed by 6,937 people, of which 3,000 are Ukrainian citizens,” but didn’t specify over what period.
The ministry said that medical staff and social workers will be available to assist refugees, and that the country’s immigration office is ready to handle any asylum applications.
——
BOSTON — Ukraine’s cybersecurity service has reported continuing cyberattacks and said cellular networks were saturated with voice calls, suggesting people used text-messaging.
A distributed-denial-of-service attack that knocked some government websites offline Wednesday continued and there were sporadic internet outages across the country, said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for the U.S. network management firm Kentik Inc.
Measures to blunt the attacks were having some success, however, as major government websites including the defense and interior ministries were reachable Thursday.
Madory said Ukraine’s internet was “under severe stress presently.” Some cybersecurity experts said prior to the invasion that it might be in the Kremlin’s intelligence — and information war — interests not to try to take down Ukraine’s internet during a military attack.
Ukraine’s cybersecurity service published a list on its Telegram channel of known “active disinformation” channels to avoid.
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BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine and for the first time laid responsibility directly on Moscow for the tensions and violence in Hungary’s eastern neighbor.
“Together with our European Union and NATO allies, we condemn Russia’s military action,” Orban said in a video on Facebook.
A member of the European Union and NATO that borders Ukraine, Hungary under Orban has pursued close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a point of concern for many of Hungary’s western partners.
While Hungary’s government has urged a peaceful resolution to the conflict through diplomacy, high-ranking officials until now avoided condemning Russia’s actions directly.
Orban said Thursday that the number of Ukrainian refugees approaching Hungary’s borders was likely to grow. He said Hungary is “prepared to care for them and will be able to meet this challenge quickly and effectively.”
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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s military chief says Ukrainian troops are fighting the Russian army in in the north and the south.
Valerii Zaluzhnyi said a battle was raging Thursday near the Hostomel air base 7 kilometers (less than 5 miles) northwest of the capital, Kyiv.
He said that in the south, fighting was going on near Henichesk, Skadovsk and Chaplynka.
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JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister has offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but stopped short of issuing a public condemnation of Russia’s attack.
Naftali Bennett said “our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine, who got into this situation without any wrongdoing on their part” during a speech Thursday.
Earlier in the day Israel’s foreign minister issued a formal condemnation of Russia’s attack.
Bennett made no direct reference to Russia in his speech at a military officers’ graduation ceremony, but offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine and urged Israeli citizens to leave the country.
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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is still holding out hope for negotiations after Russia attacked Ukraine.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in a statement that “there is still time for good will, there is still room for negotiation, there is still room for the exercise of a wisdom that prevents the prevalence of partisan interests, protects the legitimate aspirations of each and saves the world from the madness and horrors of war.”
The Vatican has been loathe to call out Russia by name, for fear of antagonizing the Russian Orthodox Church, a key focus of Francis’ ecumenical efforts.
The Vatican issued Parolin’s statement as the head of the largest eastern rite church in communion with Rome, His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was in a bomb shelter under the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kiev along with many other people, his office in Rome said.
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MOSCOW — Russia’s Defense Ministry says the Russian military has destroyed 74 Ukrainian military facilities, including 11 air bases.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered that Ukrainian servicemen be treated “with respect” and those who lay down their weapons offered safe corridors.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the loss of a Su-25 attack jet due to “pilor error.”
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BERLIN — The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has expanded its recommendations following the Russian attack on Ukraine to warn operators against flying over Moldova and Belarus and “exercise caution” over large parts of Russia.
EASA already had warned of high risks to civilian aircraft over Ukraine early Thursday morning. In an update, it cited a notice issued by Moldova closing its airspace for all flights due to the Ukrainian crisis.
It pointed to “a risk of both intentional targeting and misidentification of civil aircraft.”
It said that operators also should “exercise caution” when operated in airspace controlled by Moscow and Rostov-on-Don in Russia “due to heightened military activity which may include launches of mid-range missiles penetrating into controlled airspace.”
——
BERLIN — Germany’s economy minister says the country is putting in place additional measures to safeguard its energy supply amid the escalating tensions with Russia.
Germany gets about half of its natural gas and coal and about a third of its oil from Russia.
Robert Habeck told reporters in Berlin Thursday that measures already taken to fill gas reserves would ensure that “we will get safely through the winter.”
“Further measures have been put in place for the next winter”, he said, including legally requiring the owners of gas storage facilities in Germany to fill them during the summer.
Habeck said Germany’s national oil reserve would be sufficient for 90 days, should that need to be tapped, though so far there has been no cut in supplies.
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BRUSSELS — A top European Union official is pledging to make Russia suffer with “massive and targeted sanctions” that will particularly hit the country’s elite.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the package of EU measures will include financial sanctions that will severely limit Russia’s access to the capital markets and have a severe impact on all sectors of its economy.
She said ahead of an EU summit Thursday that “these sanctions will suppress Russia’s economic growth, increase the borrowing costs, raise inflations, intensify capital outflow and gradually erode its industrial basis.”
Von der Leyen said the package also will aim to limit Russia’s access to crucial technologies.
She said that “our measures will weaken Russia technological positions in key areas, actually from which the elite makes most of their money.” She cited high-tech components and “cutting-edge software.”
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WARSAW, Poland — The parliament in Poland, a nation on NATO’s eastern flank which borders Ukraine and Belarus, strongly denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine and vowed its support to Ukraine.
Members of the Sejm, or lower house of parliament, approved by acclamation a statement condemning Russia. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Thursday will go down in history as “the day Russia chose war,” attacking another nation for no reason.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Mark Brzezinski sought to assure Poland that, as a NATO member, the country is safe.
Brzezinski noted in an interview on TVN24 television that there are now 10,000 U.S. soldiers in Poland. More than half were deployed in recent weeks amid the Russian threats.
——
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norway’s prime minister says that a planned NATO drill in Norway next month “was not a response to the events in Ukraine.”
From March 13, Norway is scheduled to host the Cold Response exercise with thousands of NATO troops taking part. The exercise has been planned for months and Russia was invited to observe it.
The Scandinavian country shares a nearly 200-kilometer (124-mile) land border with Russia.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said that Norway has long managed to maintain a pragmatic neighborly relationship. He said that “we will continue to have contacts” with Russia.
—-
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron says France and its European allies did everything to try to head off the attack on Ukraine. He said that they will show “no weakness” in their response.
Macron said in a televised address to the nation Thursday that Russia’s attack is a “turning point in European history” and as a result “there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives.”
He said that “to this act of war, we will reply without weakness, we will reply calmly and in a determined and united manner.”
“We have tried everything to avoid this war but it is here and we are ready,” Macron said.
He said that sanctions will be “proportionate” to Russia’s military operations, targeting its economy and its energy sector.
“We will show no weakness,” Macron said. “We will take all measures necessary to defend the sovereignty and stability of our European allies.”
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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Slovak government has authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 soldiers to help guard the border with Ukraine following Russia’s attack on Slovakia’s eastern neighbor.
The defense ministry said Thursday they will be used if there is a massive wave of refugees.
The government said Slovakia is also ready to open more border crossings with Ukraine if needed.
Slovania last week lifted all coronavirus restrictions for potential refugees coming from Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion.
——
ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says Russia’s attack on Ukraine has made dialogue with Moscow “impossible.” He is demanding that Putin “immediately stop the bloodshed and withdraw military forces.”
Speaking after an urgent Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Draghi said Russia’s operation “concerns all of us, our way of living freely, our democracy.”
He said Italy, which has kept its embassy in Kyiv open, fully supported “very strong” sanctions against Russia and was coordinating with NATO and EU allies to beef up security on NATO’s eastern flank. He said that “we are reinforcing our already significant contribution to the military deployments in all the most directly exposed Allied countries.”
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HELSINKI — Latvian authorities say three Russian television channels will have their right to broadcast in Latvia suspended for several years with immediate effect. They cited the channels’ incitement to hatred against Ukraine, justification of war and spreading of disinformation on Ukraine, Latvia and other countries.
Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council said Thursday that there will be a ban on broadcasts of the Rossija RTR channel for five years, Rossija 24 channel for four years and TV Centr International for three years.
European Union and NATO member Latvia is urging other European nations to make a similar decision.
“We are calling on all European Union member countries to use the evidence we have collected, follow our example and ban these three (Russian) channels in the entire territory of the EU,” said the council’s chairman, Ivars Abolins.
He said that “in the last several years, we have closed 41 programs associated with Russia. Unfortunately, other European countries have not done the same.”
——
GENEVA — The head of the U.N. refugee agency is warning of “devastating consequences” of Russia’s military action in Ukraine and calling on neighboring countries to keep their borders open for people fleeing the fighting.
Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, pointed to “reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety” without elaborating.
He said in a statement that UNHCR had stepped up its operations and capacity in Ukraine and its neighboring countries, without providing details.
——
KYIV, Ukraine — Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says that “Russia’s key goal is clear: to oust the Ukrainian leadership and stir up as much panic as possible.”
Podolyak said Thursday the Russians “want to cut off part of the country and they moving in in big convoys.”
He said that “we are seeing attempts to estabilize the situation in big cities, including Kyiv and Kharkiv.”
——
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Russia’s military actions in Ukraine violate international laws and amount to a “heavy blow” to regional peace and stability.
In an address to an international gathering in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey — which has enjoyed close ties to both Russia and Ukraine — “sincerely regrets” that the two countries are confronting each other.
“We reiterate our call for a resolution of the problems between Russia and Ukraine, with which we have deep historical ties and friendly relations, through dialogue, within the framework of Minsk agreements,” Erdogan said. He was referring to deals that aimed to restore peace in eastern Ukraine.
The Turkish leader said Turkey would “do its part to ensure the safety of everyone living in Ukraine,” including Turkish citizens and Crimean Tatars, with whom Turkey shares ethnic and cultural bonds.
——
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russian President Vladimir Putin has “unleashed war in our European continent” and Britain “cannot and will not just look away.”
In a televised address Thursday, Johnson said the U.K. and its allies will agree a “massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.”
“Our mission is clear: diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure,” Johnson said.
He is expected to give more details about new sanctions later Thursday.
“A vast invasion is underway by land by sea and by air,” Johnson said. “(Putin) has attacked a friendly country without any provocation and without any credible excuse.”
The prime minister also said that the West must collectively end its dependence on Russian oil and gas, which “for too long has given Putin his grip on western politics.”
——
GENEVA — The head of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-nuclear group says a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin to anyone who might meddle in Russia’s attack on Ukraine amounted to a threat to “launch a nuclear war.”
Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was referring to the Russian leader’s comments as the attack began that “whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”
Fihn, whose group won the Nobel prize in 2017, said Russia had manufactured a “false justification” for its military action in Ukraine and said Putin’s warning was “basically to launch a nuclear war.”
She alluded to recent tests by Russia of intercontinental ballistic missiles and hypersonic missiles, saying that they smacked of “basically the Russian military practicing mass-murdering civilians.”
——
BUCHAREST, Romania — The president of Romania has condemned Russia’s “reprehensible” attack on Ukraine and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “threatens the peace of the entire planet.”
Romania borders Ukraine and is a member of NATO and the European Union. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that Russia “chose the reprehensible and completely illegal path of massive armed violence against an independent and sovereign state.”
Iohannis said that Romania, a country of about 19.5 million people, is ready to deal with economic and humanitarian consequences that the conflict could generate.
He stressed that Romania will not be drawn into the military conflict in Ukraine and said Romanian authorities will take “absolutely all the necessary measures” to ensure the safety of the country’s citizens.
——
PRAGUE — Czech President Milos Zeman, who has been a leading pro-Russian voice among European Union leaders, has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an unprovoked act of aggression.”
Zeman said in an address to the nation that “Russia has committed a crime against peace.”
A week ago, Zeman said that warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine were a failure by CIA. He said repeatedly he didn’t believe Russian wanted to attack Ukraine.
“I admit I was wrong,” Zeman said Thursday. “An irrational decision by the leadership of the Russian Federation will cause significant damages to the Russian state.”
He called for harder sanctions against Russia, declaring that “it’s necessary to isolate a lunatic and not just to defend ourselves by words but also by deeds.”
——
BRUSSELS — NATO’s secretary-general says Russia has launched war on Ukraine and shattered peace on the European continent.
Jens Stoltenberg called for a summit of NATO alliance leaders for Friday.
Stoltenberg said that “this is a deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned invasion.” And he charged that “Russia is using force to try to rewrite history.”
Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine earlier Thursday, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling. Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border.
——
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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