UN: 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine; 861 hurt
By The Associated Press
The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office says it has confirmed 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
The office said Tuesday that the number of confirmed civilian injuries now stands at 861.
The U.N. office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has been able to verify.
It acknowledges that the real figures are much higher, in part because intense fighting has delayed its receipt of information and many reports still have to be corroborated.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The U.K. delegation to the global chemical weapons watchdog says in a tweet that it and a group of supporters walked out of a meeting Tuesday in response to what the delegation called “unacceptable Russian falsehoods on Ukraine.”
It was not immediately clear what the Russian representative said at the behind-closed-doors meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ executive council to prompt the walkout.
The British delegation tweeted a photo of more than 50 people standing with two Ukrainian flags on the steps outside the OPCW’s headquarters in The Hague.
France’s ambassador, Luis Vassy, says in a tweet that the walkout by European Union nations and their supporters came as Russia’s representative “was denying basic facts about Ukraine” and other issues tackled by the OPCW.
In a written statement posted on the OPCW’s website, U.K. ambassador Joanna Roper urged the organization to be vigilant. “The UK remains concerned that Russia may use the pretext of chemical weapons to try to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine and we know only too well that Russia is also prepared to use chemical weapons against others,” she said.
KYIV, UKRAINE – Tuesday is International Women’s Day, an important official holiday in Russia and Ukraine dating from the Soviet era. Women are normally feted with flowers and chocolates and speeches, but this year the holiday was overshadowed in Ukraine by war, and in Russia by economic chaos.
Sugary messages of love and support were shared on social networks as in previous years, but many were tinged with sorrow or pleas for peace.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened his morning video address Tuesday saying: “Ukrainians, we usually celebrate this holiday, the holiday of spring. We congratulate our women, our daughters, wives, mothers. Usually. But not today.”
“Today I cannot say the traditional words. I just can’t congratulate you. I can’t, when there are so many deaths. When there is so much grief, when there is so much suffering. When the war continues,” he said.
BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia’s armed forces may be deliberately targeting civilians as they try to flee the military assault on Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said Tuesday “there are very creditable reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate. Targeting civilians is a war crime, and it’s totally unacceptable.”
He told reporters in Latvia that the humanitarian impact of the almost two-week long war “is devastating.”
“We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected,” he said.
Asked what NATO can do to help, Stoltenberg said: “We have a responsibility to ensure the conflict does not spread beyond Ukraine.” NATO is boosting its defenses to ensure that members near Russia and Ukraine are not next on Moscow’s target list.
KYIV, UKRAINE – Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has released new estimates of casualties and damage from the Russian war, saying Russian military actions have killed 38 children and wounded more than 70.
Overall at least 400 civilian deaths have been recorded and 800 wounded, though “these data are definitely incomplete,” he said in a video address. It was not immediately possible to verify the figures.
He said Russian strikes have destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospitals and 1,500 residential buildings.
He estimated some 10,000 foreign students, notably from India, China and the Persian Gulf are trapped by the fighting, and described attacks on British and Swiss journalists.
He claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops.
“Russian invaders fire on humanitarian corridors through which civilians are trying to escape,” he said, without saying where.
Russian officials did not comment Tuesday and have only acknowledged several hundred deaths among Russian forces.
BERLIN — The German federal prosecutor’s office is looking into possible war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
The prosecutor’s office said Tuesday it has launched a so-called “structural investigation” – a preliminary investigation against persons unknown which entails looking for evidence leading to possible suspects who could be prosecuted.
It’s unclear whether or when a prosecution of any suspect would actually be launched and what the chances are of any defendant eventually being brought to court in Germany.
Germany applies the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes. In a groundbreaking verdict in January, a German court convicted a former Syrian secret police officer of crimes against humanity for overseeing the abuse of detainees at a jail.
BEIJING – China says President Xi Jinping has criticized sanctions imposed on Russia over its war against Ukraine as “harmful to all sides,” in a video summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
China has largely backed Russia in blaming the U.S. and its allies for provoking the conflict and has abstained in votes at the United Nations over whether to condemn Moscow for its actions.
In its readout of Tuesday’s conversation, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said Xi expressed “anxiety and deep pain” over the fighting, and urged the sides to pursue peace talks in which he said China was willing to play a role.
Xi gave no indication on what sort of resolution China was looking for and the only details he gave concerned the impact of sanctions.
“We want to strive together to reduce the negative effects of the crisis,” Xi was quoted as saying. “Regarding the impact of sanctions on global finance, energy resources, transport and supply chain stability, in terms of a world economy already burdened by the pandemic, it is harmful to all sides.”
LONDON – Britain’s defense minister says his staff will help process applications from Ukrainians fleeing war, after criticism of the sluggish U.K. effort to take in refugees.
Britain says it expects to take in as many as 200,000 displaced Ukrainians, and has set no upper limit on the number it will accept. But as of Monday night, the government said only 300 visas had been issued.
French officials have accused Britain of turning Ukrainians away at the English Channel port of Calais, telling them to apply for visas at British embassies in Paris or Brussels.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Tuesday that “we can do more, we will do more” to speed up people’s journeys to the U.K.
NEW YORK – Russia says it has summoned the Irish ambassador to Moscow a day after a truck was driven through the gates of the Russian embassy in Ireland during a demonstration against the war in Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it told Irish ambassador Brian McElduff that Russia demanded an apology from the Irish authorities and for Ireland to pay compensation.
Russia likened the incident to “a tactic widely used by terrorists” and said Irish law enforcement had not acted to stop it. The Irish Times newspaper reported Monday that the driver of the truck was arrested.
KYIV, UKRAINE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the expansion of humanitarian corridors for Ukrainian civilians fleeing war, and more support from the Red Cross.
In a video address Tuesday from an undisclosed location, he said a child died of dehydration in the blockaded southern seaport of Mariupol, in a sign of how desperate the city’s population has become.
He pleaded again with Western countries to provide air support.
He said evacuation buses have been sent to Mariupol, but said there was no firm agreement on the route, so “Russian troops can simply shoot on this transport on the way.”
Zelenskiy accused the International Red Cross of “forbidding the use of its emblem on our cars,” but did not give details. Videos of buses heading out of Sumy and toward Mariupol have had signs with a red cross on the side but it’s not clear who pasted them there.
LONDON – Estee Lauder is the latest foreign company to halt its operations in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
The New York-based cosmetics giant said in a statement late Monday that it has decided to suspend all its commercial activity in Russia, “including every store we own and operate.” It’s not clear how many retail outlets it has in Russia.
Estee Lauder also said it’s suspending shipments to its Russian retailers and will provide “compensation and support” to its Russian employees. The company owns more than two dozen brands including Clinique, Bobbi Brown and MAC Cosmetics.
LONDON – Energy giant Shell says it will stop buying Russian oil and natural gas as well as shut down its service stations and other operations in the country amid international pressure for companies to sever ties over the invasion of Ukraine.
Shell says in a statement Tuesday that it would withdraw from all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas and liquefied natural gas, “in a phased manner.”
The decision comes just days after Ukraine’s foreign minister criticized Shell for continuing to buy Russian oil.
GENEVA — The U.N.’s top human rights official is warning that a new Russian law allowing harsh punishment for spreading what is deemed to be fake information about the armed forces adds to concern about repressive legislation in Russia.
High Commission for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the U.N. Human Rights Council that “space for discussion or criticism of public policies – including (Russia’s) military action against Ukraine – is increasingly and profoundly restricted.”
Bachelet said some 12,700 people have been “arbitrarily arrested” for holding peaceful anti-war protests and noted that media are required to use only official information and terms.
She said she’s concerned about repressive and vaguely defined legislation, and added that “further legislation criminalising circumstances of ‘discrediting’ the armed forces continues down this concerning path.”
The new measure, signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, allows for prison sentences of up to 15 years. It has prompted some foreign media to suspend operations within Russia.
LONDON – Britain’s defense secretary says the invasion of Ukraine will be Vladimir Putin’s downfall as the Russian leader struggles to defeat and occupy a country that has put up unexpectedly staunch resistance to his armies.
Ben Wallace said Russian forces are already “exhausted” after facing logistical problems and suffering thousands of losses in the first 13 days of fighting. He added it’s “an impossible task” to occupy a country of 44 million people that is bigger than France and Germany combined.
“This will be Putin’s end … and so it should be,” Wallace told the BBC.
Putin is already “a spent force” in the wider world because the international community has decided the invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian catastrophe it has unleashed are unacceptable, Wallace said. The international sanctions imposed on Russia “are reducing his economy to zero,” and Putin is responsible for that, Wallace said.
GENEVA – The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine reached 2 million on Tuesday, according to the United Nations, the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II.
“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote on Twitter.
The update came as a new effort to evacuate civilians along safe corridors finally got underway Tuesday. The route out of the eastern city of Sumy was one of five promised by the Russians to offer civilians a way to escape the Russian onslaught.
Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, is pressing for all civilians trapped by fighting in Ukraine to be allowed to leave safely. She said Tuesday she is “deeply concerned about civilians trapped in active hostilities in numerous areas.”
Bachelet also told the U.N. Human Rights Council that her office has received reports of pro-Ukrainian activists being arbitrarily detained in areas of eastern Ukraine that have recently come “under the control of armed groups.” She said there have been reports of beatings of people considered pro-Russian in government-controlled areas.
TOKYO – Japan says it has suspended the assets of 32 more Russian and Belarusian individuals.
The additional sanctions announced Tuesday target 20 Russians including head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, deputy chiefs of staff and a press secretary for President Vladamir Putin’s govenment, and deputy chairmen of the state parliament. The list also includes business executives with close ties to Putin and his administration such as Volga Group, Transneft, the Private Military Company Wagner and USM Holdings.
The sanction targets also included 12 Belarusian officials and business executives, including Belarus’ National Olympic Committee President Viktor Lukashenko, as well as 12 organizations in Russia and Belarus.
Officials said Japan is also banning exports of oil refinery equipment to Russia and general purpose goods to Belarus that could be used to strengthen the country’s military capability.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minister is calling for even tougher sanctions against Russia in order to dismantle President Vladimir Putin’s war machine.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki made his comments as he departed Warsaw for visits to NATO countries Britain and Norway.
He told reporters that strengthening NATO’s eastern flank and pushing for more sanctions would be the main topics of discussion. In particular, Morawiecki wants to urge other European countries to replace Russian crude oil and gas with deliveries from other countries.
“In order to hit Russia effectively, our blow must be consistent and long-term if military action continues,” Morawiecki said.
Poland has been building a gas pipeline, Baltic Pipe, meant to import gas from Norway.
He called Baltic Pipe “a symbol of Poland’s sovereignty, of Poland’s independence from Russia, from gas blackmail … everything which has made it possible for Putin to build a war machine.”
TALLINN, ESTONIA – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is wrapping up a short tour of the three Baltic states aimed at reassuring the former Soviet republics that NATO will guarantee their security as Russia’s war with Ukraine rolls on unabated.
Blinken was meeting with senior Estonian officials in Tallinn on Tuesday, a day after hearing appeals from both Lithuania and Latvia for more support and greater U.S. and NATO troop presence to deter a feared Russian intervention.
“We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack,” Blinken said Monday in Riga. “No one should doubt our readiness. No one should doubt our resolve.”
Leaders in all three Baltic states have expressed grave concerns about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions for former Soviet bloc countries that are now allied or otherwise linked to the West.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said the Russian invasion of Ukraine had shown the Baltic countries in particular the need to bolster air and coastal defenses. He added Latvia would like its security cooperation with NATO to be “more efficient.”
Lithuanian President Gitanes Nauseda told Blinken in Vilnius that a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that “forward defense” was now needed. He predicted that “Putin will not stop in Ukraine if he will not be stopped.”
KYIV, Ukraine – Safe corridors intended to let civilians escape the Russian onslaught in Ukraine could open Tuesday, officials from both sides said, though previous efforts to establish evacuation routes crumbled amid renewed attacks and it was not clear how large the operation would be if it happened.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Tuesday that both sides agreed to a cease-fire from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Ukraine time (0700-1900 GMT) for the evacuation of civilians from the eastern city of Sumy.
The first convoy with evacuated civilians in buses or private cars is to leave at 10 a.m. (0800 GMT), on a single route toward the Ukrainian city of Poltava. She said Russia’s Defense Ministry agreed to this in a letter to the International Red Cross.
Those being evacuated from Sumy include foreign students from India and China, she said. The corridor will also be used to bring humanitarian aid into Sumy, she said.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office says it has confirmed 16 attacks that have affected the provision of health care in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
Dr. Hans Kluge also told reporters Tuesday that Ukrainian health authorities have “remarkably” maintained COVID-19 surveillance and response since the invasion began on Feb. 24, though they reported 731 deaths related to the pandemic over the last week.
Kluge warned that “sadly, this number will increase as oxygen shortages continue” – with older people disproportionately affected.
He also said broken supply lines are harming the ability to treat conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer for WHO Europe, said the attacks on health care in Ukraine have led to at least 9 deaths and 16 injuries.
LONDON – Britain’s defense secretary said Tuesday that there are reports Ukrainian special forces destroyed over 20 Russian helicopters on the ground overnight as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to face logistical problems and fierce resistance.
Russia’s advance toward the capital, Kyiv, continues to face pressure from Ukrainian forces around the nearby towns of Hostomel, Bucha, Vorzel and Irpin, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update released late Monday. In addition, a lengthy Russian column remains stuck on the road north of Kyiv.
WASHINGTON – The World Bank says it has approved more than $700 million in emergency support for Ukraine.
Dubbed FREE Ukraine, it includes nearly $500 million in loans and guarantees and $134 million in grants, with Japan promising another $100 million in financing. The aid is meant to help the Ukrainian government pay wages of hospital workers, pensions and other social programs.
The World Bank also said it is preparing a $3 billion package of support for Ukraine and the region to help it cope with the flood of displaced people fleeing the fighting.
TOKYO – Japanese automaker Nissan is planning to halt production at its plant in Russia because of “logistical challenges.”
Nissan Motor Co. did not provide a specific date but said Tuesday production will stop “soon.” Its plant in St. Petersburg produced 45,000 vehicles last year, including the X-Trail sport utility vehicle.
The Yokohama-based manufacturer said the safety of its employees is its top priority.
Nissan earlier stopped exports to Russia.
LVIV, Ukraine – Russian aircraft bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine overnight, Ukrainian officials said. Shelling pounded suburbs of the capital, Kyiv.
In Sumy and Okhtyrka, to the east of Kyiv near the Russian border, bombs fell on residential buildings and destroyed a power plant, regional leader Dmytro Zhivitsky said. He said there were dead and wounded but gave no figures.
Bombs also hit oil depots in Zhytomyr and the neighboring town of Cherniakhiv, located west of Kyiv.
In Bucha, a Kyiv suburb, the mayor reported heavy artillery fire.
“We can’t even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn’t stop day or night,” Mayor Anatol Fedoruk said. “Dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets. It’s a nightmare.”
LVIV, Ukraine – The mayor of Lviv said the city in far western Ukraine is struggling to feed and house the tens of thousands of people who have fled here from war-torn regions of the country.
“We really need support,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said.
More than 200,000 Ukrainians displaced from their homes are now in Lviv, filling up sport halls, schools, hospitals and church buildings. The historical city once popular with tourists had a population of 700,000 before the war.
The mayor said the city needs big tents equipped with kitchens so food can be prepared.
Hundreds of thousands more people could arrive if humanitarian corridors are opened up from cities now under siege from Russian troops.
The embassies of the U.S. and EU countries also moved to Lviv from Kyiv before the invasion.
Lviv is the main transit point for those fleeing just across the border to Poland. Many of the 1.7 million Ukrainians now abroad passed through the city.
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3/8/2022 7:46:54 AM (GMT -6:00)