Kremlin says Biden’s Putin comments ‘alarming’

 Kremlin says Biden’s Putin comments ‘alarming’


Zelenskyy posts interview with Russian journalists

U.S. deploys six aircraft, 240 Navy personnel to Germany

Six U.S. aircraft and about 240 Navy personnel are scheduled to arrive at Spangdahlem Air Base on Monday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said.

The EA-18 Growlers are designed for electronic warfare to “jam the enemy,” he said

This transfer is not in response to any acute threat, Kirby said, but is part of efforts to bolster readiness and heighten NATO deterrence. They will not be used against Russian forces in Ukraine, he said.

Kirby called the aircraft shipment a “prudent decision” as the U.S. continues to re-evaluate force posture on the Eastern flank.

Biden’s suggestion that Putin must go causes anxiety in Europe

LONDON — Until the final line of President Joe Biden’s speech, Western allies had been in near lockstep against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nine words have caused perhaps the most significant cracks to date.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Russian President Vladimir Putin in an ad-libbed line at the end of an otherwise carefully measured speech in Poland on Saturday, capping three days of diplomacy in Europe.

U.S. officials have hurriedly attempted to walk back and clarify Biden’s comments. And the president himself gave an unequivocal “no” when asked by a reporter Sunday if he backed regime change in Moscow.

Read the full article.

1 in 2 Ukrainian children have fled their homes, UNICEF says

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is displacing half of the country’s 7.5 million children, with 1 in 2 having to flee their homes, a spokesman for the U.N.’s child protection agency said Monday.

Fleeing may mean the children have had to go to bunkers or have left Ukraine entirely, UNICEF spokesman James Elder said on MSNBC.

“It’s a deadly situation. It’s a war,” he added. “It has not got better.”

He added that UNICEF has counselors who are working with children and pregnant women to help them through the trauma they’re facing, and that the aid organization is continuing to supply equipment, including surgical and oxygen kits and water purification tablets.

Ukrainian forces retake control of Irpin, near Kyiv, mayor says

Ukrainian forces have retaken control of the Kyiv suburb of Irpin from Russian troops, the city’s mayor has said.

“We have good news today. Today, Irpin is released,” Mayor Alexandar Markushin said in a video posted to Facebook on Monday. He thanked Ukrainians who had been engaged in intense fighting with Russian forces near the capital, adding that “now, mopping up is carried out.” 

NBC News could not immediately verify the claim.

The mayor said it was still “impossible” for residents to return to Irpin, which has seen thousands of civilians evacuated in perilous circumstances over the past few weeks. “It is still dangerous,” he said. 

Markushin said Ukrainian forces would “continue to go and liberate” nearby Bucha, Hostomel and Vorzel as it seeks to push Moscow’s troops back from around Kyiv.

“We understand that there will be more attacks on our city and we will courageously defend it,” he said, adding: “Irpin is Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes.”

Russian stocks slide as trading resumes for all companies

Russian shares slumped as its stock market resumed trading of all companies Monday after a monthlong halt following the invasion of Ukraine.

The benchmark MOEX index slid 2.2% after the Moscow Exchange reopened for all of its several hundred listed companies, but with restrictions still in place to limit volatility. State-owned energy giant Gazprom fell 3.7%, while airline Aeroflot was up 3%.

The last full trading session in Moscow was on Feb. 25, a day after the index tumbled by a third after President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

Prices whipsawed last week when the exchange tentatively reopened for two days of limited trading, with investors allowed to trade only 33 of the MOEX index’s 50 companies.

Some restrictions remained in place Monday to prevent another big selloff, including the daily session shortened to four hours and a ban on short-selling, which essentially involves betting on stock prices to go down. Foreigners also are unable to sell shares until Friday — a restriction Russia put in place to counter Western sanctions against its financial system and the ruble, which has been sharply devalued.

Ukraine publishes personal information of purported Russian spies

The SBU, Ukraine’s main intelligence service, on Monday published what it says are the names, home addresses and other personal details of 620 Russian spies.

The alleged officers all work for Russia’s FSB agency and are involved with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the SBU said.

Governments occasionally name alleged spies of rival governments, but it’s very rare to do so at such a scale, said Thomas Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins who studies intelligence and cybersecurity.

Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta to suspend publication until war ends

Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta said Monday it is suspending publication online and in print until the end of the war in Ukraine. 

The newspaper is known for its investigative reporting and its editor, Dmitry Muratov, was a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The newspaper announced it would be halting publication in a tweet, saying it had made the decision after receiving a fresh warning from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

In its post, it referred to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special operation,” using the Kremlin’s language for the attack as it has throughout in an apparent effort to avoid punishment. 

Ukraine has suffered $564.9 billion in losses since beginning of war, economy minister says

Ukraine has already suffered $564.9 billion in losses due to the ongoing Russian invasion, the country’s economy minister has said.

Yulia Svyrydenko, Ukraine’s economy minister, said in a Facebook post Monday that the losses stemmed from damage to infrastructure and lost economic growth, among other factors.

“Every day the numbers change and, unfortunately, they are growing,” she said. 

The economy minister said Ukraine would “seek compensation from the aggressor” through “court decisions and by transferring to our state frozen assets of Russia.”

“Evil will inevitably be punished and Russia will feel the full weight of its own criminal actions on the territory of Ukraine,” she said.

All Mariupol residents face ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ if they are not evacuated out of city, mayor says

The mayor of Mariupol has said that all residents must be evacuated out of the besieged city or there will be a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Speaking on national television Monday, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the situation in Mariupol “remains extremely difficult” with 160,000 civilians still trapped in the southern port city on the Sea of Azov. He said it was “impossible to live” in the besieged city with no heat, power, or communication after weeks of Russian bombardment.

Boichenko said the city has been under blockade since March 1 and said Russian forces had “systematically and methodically” destroyed public transport, making it more difficult for residents to flee. 

He said 26 buses were waiting to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, which normally has a population of about 400,000 people, but Russian forces had not agreed to give them safe passage. 

Kremlin says Russia-Ukraine talks could start in Turkey on Tuesday

The Kremlin has said that a new round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine may get underway in Turkey on Tuesday and it was important that they would take place face-to-face.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks, which follow recent negotiations held via video link.

Turkey said the talks could begin as early as Monday, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that was unlikely as the negotiators would only be arriving in Turkey on Monday.

“We cannot and will not talk about progress yet. But the very fact that it was decided to continue the talks in person is certainly important,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“So far, unfortunately, we cannot state any significant achievements or breakthroughs” in talks, he added.

Biden comment that Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ was ‘alarming,’ Kremlin says

The Kremlin has expressed alarm over President Joe Biden’s comments about the leadership of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Putin on Saturday during a speech in Warsaw.  The White House sought to clarify Biden’s remark and the president said Sunday he had not been calling for regime change.

Asked Monday about Biden’s comment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is a statement that is certainly alarming.”

“We will continue to closely monitor the statements of the U.S. president,” Peskov said. “We are carefully recording them — and we will continue to do so.”

“As for the essence of these statements, I already commented on Saturday,” he said, referring to his immediate response in the wake of the speech that the future of Russia’s leadership was “not for Biden to decide.”

Russian forces near Kyiv ‘trying to break through’ Ukrainian defense, Ukraine says

Russian military forces near Kyiv are “still trying to break through” the Ukrainian defense in order to take control of key roads and settlements, Ukraine’s ministry of defense said Monday in a statement on operational updates.

“The grouping of Ukrainian forces and means of defense of the city of Kyiv is deterring the Russian enemy,” the ministry said.

The Ukrainian defense forces continued operations in eastern, southeastern and northeastern directions across the country, it said.

In the south, defense forces were mainly focused on the cities of Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolayiv in an effort to maintain parts of the coast and to protect critical infrastructure, it added.

Heineken exits Russia in response to Ukraine war

Dutch beer company Heineken has announced it will be exiting Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision comes following an exodus of Western brands from Russia in response to the Ukraine war. 

Heineken had previously said it would only stop new investments and exports to Russia. 

In a statement, Heineken said the company had “concluded that Heineken’s ownership of the business in Russia is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment.”

It said the company would not benefit from any transfer of ownership and expected an impairment charge and other non-cash exceptional charges of around 400 million euros ($438 million). 

Heineken said it would guarantee the salary of Russian employees until the end of the year.

A Russian tank destroyed following a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy region, in an image released by the armed forces of Ukraine on Sunday.

A Russian tank destroyed following a battle in the town of Trostyanets, Sumy region in an image released by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Sunday.
Armed Forces of Ukraine / via AFP – Getty Images

Russian gas flows to Europe remain stable

Russian gas deliveries to Europe on three main pipeline routes were stable on Monday morning, despite threats from Moscow that they would retaliate for Western sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine. 

Russia’s Gazprom said on Sunday it had continued to supply gas to Europe via Ukraine in line with requests from European customers. Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas company, supplies 40 percent of Europe’s gas.

Facing its gravest economic crisis since the years following the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia on Friday warned that billing in roubles for billions of dollars of natural gas exports to Europe could be just days away, its toughest response yet to crippling sanctions imposed by the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the West had declared economic war by freezing Russian assets, and so Russia saw no point in receiving dollars or euros for Russian exports anymore.

Russian forces have made no progress in past 24 hours, U.K. says

Britain’s defense ministry said Monday morning that Russian forces had made no significant progress over the last 24 hours amid continuing supply issues and aggressive resistance from Ukrainian fighters. 

A continued “lack of momentum and morale” among Russian military members has compounded the ongoing logistical shortages, the ministry said in an intelligence briefing on the situation in Ukraine posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, it said heavy fighting continues around Mariupol as Russian forces try to capture the port on the Sea of Azov, which connects to the Black Sea.

In a previous post, the ministry had said Russia was maintaining a blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, “effectively isolating Ukraine from international maritime trade.” It said Russian naval forces were also “continuing to conduct sporadic missile strikes against targets throughout Ukraine.” 

American pastor allegedly kidnapped by Russian forces has been freed, family says

Dmitry Bodyu, an American pastor allegedly abducted in Ukraine earlier this month, has been freed, his family said on Monday.

The family was “relieved” after Bodyu’s release, his daughter Esther Bodyu-Ogana told NBC News.

Bodyu, 50, a well-known pastor in Ukraine who had invited people to seek shelter in his church, was taken by about eight to 10 Russian soldiers in the Russian-controlled city of Melitopol on March 19, his wife Helen had told NBC News last week. 

“They just came in in the morning,” wife Helen Bodyu said. “They took our phones, gadgets, computers, documents — and took him somewhere. I don’t know where,” she said at the time.

Ukrainian forces capture Russian equipment near Kyiv

A Ukranian serviceman stands on top of a Russian tank captured after fighting in the village of Lukyanivka outside Kyiv on Sunday.

A Ukranian serviceman stands on top of a Russian tank captured after fighting with Russian troops in the village of Lukyanivka outside Kyiv on Sunday.
Marko Djurica / Reuters

Ukraine opens no new humanitarian corridors, cites fears of Russian attack

Ukraine announced that it would not seek to open so-called humanitarian corridors on Monday, citing the possibility of Russian attacks on civilians trying to flee frontline areas. 

“Our intelligence reported possible provocations by the occupiers on the routes of humanitarian corridors. Therefore, for reasons of public safety, we do not open humanitarian corridors today,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said via Telegram. 

Humanitarian corridors intended to help civilians escape the fighting have come under fire since the war began. Following several attacks on humanitarian corridors, Secretary General at Amnesty International Agnès Callamard has condemned the “deliberate targeting of civilians” during the conflict and called for all “unlawful attacks to cease.”

Oscars holds a moment of silence for Ukraine

The Oscars held a moment of silence acknowledging the war in Ukraine.

Up until the moment, which featured slides with a message of support, the only other official acknowledgment of the conflict came from actor Mila Kunis, who was born in Ukraine.

Here’s the text of the statement, which ran during the brief moment of silence:

“We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders. While film is an important avenue for us to express our humanity in times of conflict, the reality is millions of families in Ukraine need food, medical care, clean water, and emergency services. Resources are scarce, and we — collectively as a global community — can do more. We ask you to support Ukraine in any way you are able. #StandwithUkraine”

A message in support of Ukraine is displayed on a screen at the 94th Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday
Robyn Beck / AFP – Getty Images

Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine’s army in east

KYIV, Ukraine — With its aspirations for a quick victory dashed by a stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine’s military in the east in the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering part of the country’s territory to possibly end the war.

The bulk of the Ukrainian army is concentrated in eastern Ukraine, where it has been locked up in fighting with Moscow-backed separatists in a nearly eight-year conflict. If Russia succeeds in encircling and destroying the Ukrainian forces in the country’s industrial heartland called Donbas, it could try to dictate its terms to Kyiv and, possibly, attempt to split the country in two.

The Russian military declared Friday that the “first stage of the operation” had been largely accomplished, allowing Russian troops to concentrate on their “top goal — the liberation of Donbas.”

Many observers say the shift in strategy could reflect President Vladimir Putin’s acknowledgment that his plan for a blitz in Ukraine has failed, forcing him to narrow his goals and change tactics amid a disastrous war that has turned Russia into a pariah and decimated its economy.





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