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ICC to investigate suspected war crimes

March 2, 2022

The International Criminal Court said work to collect evidence of possible war crimes committed in Ukraine has begun. The UN has increased its estimate of the number of civilians killed during the war. DW has the latest.

Ukrainian soldiers cross a destroyed bridge, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2. 2022.
Ukrainian soldiers cross a heavily damaged footbridge on the outskirts of KyivImage: Emilio Morenatti/AP/picture alliance
  • UN General Assembly passes resolution criticizing Russia with a large majority
  • Russia issues first casualty figures since the invasion began, far lower than those reported by Kyiv
  • German weapons have arrived in Ukraine
  • Russia's attack on Ukraine was described by Joe Biden as 'premeditated and unprovoked'
  • Roman Abramovich has said he will sell Chelsea Football Club

This article was last updated at 23:32 UTC/GMT.

Germany seizes Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov's yacht

German officials in the northern port city of Hamburg seized the yacht of Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin, Forbes reports.

As part of sanctions against Russia and Russian oligarchs over the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union blacklisted Usmanov, imposing an EU-wide travel ban and freezing all his assets.

His 512-foot yacht, named the Dilbar, is valued at nearly $600 million. Since late October, the yacht was in the shipyards of firm Blohm+Voss for a refitting job.

At 15,917 tons, the Dilbar is the world's largest motor yacht by gross tonnage and features the world's largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht, two helipads, a sauna and a gym. German shipbuilding firm Lürssen custom-built the yacht for Usmanov over 52 months.

Usmanov also has an extensive real estate portfolio in the West that could be targeted for seizure as a result of sanctions. Usmanov's holdings include two UK estates valued at a combined $280 million, as well as homes in Munich, Lausanne, Monaco and Sardinia.

SAP, Mercedes Benz and Boeing halt business with Russia

SAP, Mercedes Benz and Boeing both announced they are halting business with Russia.

SAP said the move was in accordance with sanctions imposed on Russia.

"An act as inhumane and unjustified as this is an attack on democracy and humanity. Its consequences affect us al," SAP said in a statement on its website.

The company added that it offered to convert warehouse space to emergency accommodation for refugees.

In a statement, Boeing said, "As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region."

Additionally, Daimler Truck, the world's largest truck manufacturer, said it was suspending operations in Russia, including the company's cooperation with Kamaz, a manufacturer of armored vehicles.

OSCE says monitoring mission team member killed in Kharkiv

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said a member of its special monitoring mission, Maryna Fenina, was killed during the Russian shelling of Kharkiv.

In a statement, the OSCE said, "Maryna was killed while getting supplies for her family in a city that has become a war zone."

The OSCE added, "In Kharkiv and other cities and towns in Ukraine, missiles, shells and rockets are hitting residential buildings and town centers, killing and injuring innocent civilians – women, men and children alike."

Fitch downgrades Russia

Fitch, an international credit rating agency, has downgraded Russia to "B" and placed Russia on rating watch negative. Fitch also said it downgraded Russia's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to "B" from "BBB."

Additionally, sanctions could alter Russia's calculus regarding its willingness to pay back debt, Fitch said. The full implementation of sanctions could also render much of Russia's foreign currency reserves unusable and will make refinancing its debt difficult.

The credit rating agency said the severity of international sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine has heightened Russia's macro-financial stability risks. Recent developments will weaken Russia's external and public finances and severely constrain the country's financial flexibility, Fitch added.

Kyiv under attack: Ukrainian MP Yelyzaveta Yasko talks to DW

ICC proceeds with war crimes inquiry in Ukraine

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC announced he is opening an active investigation into war crimes occurring against the civilian population of Ukraine.

In a statement, Khan wrote, "I have notified the ICC Presidency a few moments ago of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations in the Situation. Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced."

Thirty-nine signatories to the court's jurisdiction, including Germany, referred the situation in Ukraine to the ICC, speeding up the course by which it could act.

Russia is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the ICC.

UN records 752 civilian deaths in Ukraine

The UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) monitoring mission in Ukraine said it had recorded 752 deaths among Ukrainian civilians since the conflict began at 4 a.m. (0300 GMT) on February 24. An additional 525 have reportedly been injured during the war.

In a statement, the monitoring mission noted, "This is more than the total number of civilian casualties recorded by OHCHR in the conflict zone of eastern Ukraine from 2018-2021," when 136 people were killed.

"Most of these casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and airstrikes," the UN body said.

The statement added that the UN "believes that real figures are considerably higher, especially in Government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration."

A man says goodbye to his daughter before she boards an evacuation train at Kyiv central train station on February 28, 2022
Many people in Ukraine are trying to flee the countryImage: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP

Russian military says Kherson under its control

The Russian military said it had captured the city of Kherson in the south of Ukraine following a days-long siege, making it the first city the Russians claim has fallen under their control.

The Ukrainian military disputes Russia's claims and said control of Kherson was still contested, a claim backed by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

The mayor of Kherson, Igor Kolykhayev, said Russian troops were in the streets of Kherson and had forced their way into the city council building. He urged the occupying Russian military not to take aim at civilians and asked civilians to walk in the streets in daylight alone or with one other person.

In a statement, Kolykhayev said, "We do not have the Armed Forces in the city, only civilians and people who want to LIVE here!"

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russia had the city under "complete control." He said infrastructure and essential services, as well as public transportation, continued to function in Kherson.

Victory in the city would be of major strategic value to Russia as it would sever Ukraine's ability to shift people and materiel between the eastern and western parts of the country.

Cape Town challenges South African government with Ukrainian colors

South Africa's legislative capital lit up City Hall in the colors of the Ukrainian flag only hours after the country abstained from a UN vote condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The opposition Democratic Alliance party controls the City of Cape Town. After a fire gutted the country's parliament in January, the City Hall played host to parliament, which the ruling African National Congress dominates.

South Africa was one of 35 countries that abstained from a UN General Assembly that voted 141 to 5 to condemn the Russian invasion.

Afterward, the country's international relations and cooperation department explained the abstained because the resolution "does not create an environment conducive for diplomacy, dialogue, and mediation."

However, Cape Town's Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, said the city chose to stand for peace, "calling for an immediate end to Russia's aggression in Kyiv and Ukraine."

Berlin wants help to deal with the influx of refugees

Berlin's mayor is urging other regions in Germany to help host refugees arriving from Ukraine.

"There is a very strong focus on Berlin. We will also try to manage that from our side as far as we can," Franziska Giffey said. "But we also need support from the other states in this."

Giffey estimated that the German capital could soon see at least 20,000 people from the war-torn country.

The city-state of Berlin was already in talks with nearby German states such as Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, she said.

Berlin also wants to talk to the rail operator Deutsche Bahn "about the extent to which tickets that have so far ended in Berlin can continue on to other places," Giffey said.

The UN refugee agency says more than 874,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion last week. The figure is "rising exponentially," putting it on track to cross the 1 million mark on Wednesday.

Blinken says US 'will support diplomatic efforts' for a ceasefire

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the human toll of war in Ukraine is already "staggering."

America's top diplomat said he was keeping the door open to a diplomatic situation but added it would be hard without a military de-escalation.

"If Russia stands back and pursues diplomacy, we are ready to do the same thing," he said.

The State Department said Blinken would travel to Belgium, Poland, the Baltic states, and Moldova in the coming days to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Blinken said he spoke to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba assuring him of continued US support.

"If there are diplomatic steps that we can take that the Ukrainian government believes would be helpful, we're prepared to take them, even as we continue to support Ukraine's ability to defend itself," he told reporters in Washington.

Macron says invasion in Ukraine shows Europe needs new defense strategy

Emmanuel Macron says Europe is in a "new era" after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The war in Ukraine is a profound break for our continent, for our generation. It will mean we will have to take decisions," the French president said in a televised speech on Wednesday evening.

He repeated a call for Europe to take charge of its own security; "We can no longer depend on others to defend ourselves."

Macron praised the Ukrainian military but warned the "days ahead are likely to be increasingly difficult."

Speaking in front of the Ukrainian flag next to the European and French flags Macron said, "Putin alone has chosen this war." However, he also vowed to keep speaking to his Russian counterpart to urge him to stop his military offensive.

The fallout from Russia's invasion would hurt France's economy but Macron said his government would work to protect households from pressures, including rising prices.

Abramovich puts Chelsea Football Club up for sale

Russian businessman Roman Abramovich has decided to sell Chelsea Football Club and promised to donate "all net proceeds from the sale" to help victims of the war in Ukraine.

"I have always taken decisions with the club's best interest at heart," Abramovich said in a statement.

The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process.

"I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club's sponsors and partners."

Abramovich said a charitable foundation would be established "for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine."

"This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery," he added. 

Abramovich also said he would not be seeking repayment on loans he made to Chelsea: "This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and the Club." 

Abramovich took over the club in 2003, when Chelsea had not won England's top flight football league title since 1955. The club has won five more league titles, secured the European Champions League twice, and mopped up an array of other trophies during his ownership.

Russia reports casualties for the first time

The Russian military reported its military casualties for the first time since it invaded neighboring Ukraine.

Russia's Defense Ministry says 498 Russian troops had been killed and 1,597 more wounded.

The military comments followed a claim earlier in the day from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that almost 6,000 Russian troops had been killed. Russia's Major General Igor Konashenkov rejected reports about "incalculable losses'' of the Russians as "disinformation.'' Soon after the Russian announcement, Ukraine reported 7,000 Russian military casualties.

Konashenkov also said that neither conscripts nor cadets had been involved in the operation in Ukraine.

DW cannot independently verify either of the countries' claims.

UN General Assembly 'demands' Russia withdraw from Ukraine

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a nonbinding resolution that condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and called for its immediate withdrawal.

After a rare emergency session that started on Monday, 141 countries voted for the resolution, 35 abstained, and five voted against it.

Only Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted with Russia against the resolution.

The resolution deplored Russia's "aggression'' against Ukraine "in the strongest terms" and "demands" Russia "immediately" withdraw from Ukraine.

It also condemned President Vladimir Putin's decision to put his nuclear forces on alert.

The resolution is not legally binding but the vote tally could serve to put additional pressure on the Kremlin. A similar motion was vetoed last week in the UN Security Council, with Russia's vote the only one against. 

Ukraine won't accept a 'puppet government'

Ukrainians will keep fighting even if Russian force manages to overrun the country, the country's former ambassador to Austria told DW News.

Olexander Scherba is in Kyiv, the target of several nights of heavy Russian bombardment.

"The only times when they are winning is when they just press the button and shower residential areas in the big cities. This is barbaric. This is cowardly," he said

Scherba warned it would be difficult for Russia to occupy Ukraine in the long run.

"These people won't obey any kind of puppet government. Should he install, any government, that would be it would be worthless," he said.

The former diplomat added, "right now, every second home has the Kalashnikov."
"I think we will win in the end, just, the question is at what price, because as I said, we are on our land, on our ground," he said.

EU sanctions Belarusian military officials

The European Union imposed sanctions on 22 senior Belarusian military officers over their role in helping Russia invade Ukraine.

Six Belarusian generals and 16 colonels were added to the EU blacklist, which bans travel into the bloc and imposes asset freezes.

The sanctions have come into force after their publication in the EU Official Journal on Wednesday.

"Belarus is participating in a Russian unprovoked invasion against Ukraine by allowing military aggression from its territory," the official sanction document said.

The French EU presidency said certain sectors of the Belarusian economy, especially the wood, steel and potash sectors, would also be affected by the measures.

Belarus, one of the closest Moscow allies, has so far denied involvement in the Russian war on Ukraine.

Kyiv tells Russian mothers to collect captured sons

Ukraine's government has invited the worried mothers of Russian troops captured in the invasion to come to the capital and collect their sons.

In an apparent attempt to embarrass the Russian government, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said it would hand them over.

A week into the onslaught, Kyiv on Wednesday claimed to have killed some 6,000 Russian troops and to have taken hundreds more as prisoners. Moscow has not given details of potential losses.

"A decision has been taken to hand over captured Russian troops to their mothers if they come to collect them in Ukraine, in Kyiv," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

"You will be received and taken to Kyiv where your son will be returned to you," the ministry statement said.

"Unlike Putin's fascists, we Ukrainians are not waging war against mothers and their captured children."

German weapons arrive in Ukraine

The delivery of weapons sent from Germany has landed in the hands of the Ukrainian military, German news agency dpa reported.

Berlin made a surprising U-turn on Saturday and announced that it would send weapons to an active conflict zone after weeks of refusing to do so.

The German arms include 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 ground-to-air Stinger missiles.

German football team cuts ties with ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder

Borussia Dortmund, one of the top teams in the German Bundesliga, has ended former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's honorary membership due to his connections with Russia.

The 77-year-old, who ran the government between 1998 and 2005, has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and is a chairman Russia's largest oil company Rosneft.

He is also set to join the board of the state-run gas giant Gazprom.

Several businesses cut ties with Schröder on Tuesday, while the German football federation, the DFB, called on him to condemn Russia's invasion by March 11 or face removal from his honorary position on the board of directors.

Borussia Dortmund's club president Reinhard Rauball said that he had informed Schröder in person over the cancellation of his membership.

Schröder is still a member of the Social Democrats (SPD), along with current chancellor, Olaf Scholz, but the party has come under increasing pressure to distance itself from him.

Germany to release part of national oil reserve

The German government has said it is releasing part of its national oil reserves in response to the turbulence on the oil markets.

Germany's Minister of Economy Robert Habeck told the dpa news agency that Germany was "making a contribution" to the international response, adding that the step aimed to stabilize prices, which have risen sharply since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"In times like these, it is important to act in unison," he was quoted as saying.

According to Germany's Economy Ministry, the country's oil reserves were released on only three occasions in history: during the Gulf War of 1990-1991, the hurricanes "Katrina" and "Rita" in 2005, and the loss of Libyan oil exports in 2011.

Wednesday's reports came as oil prices surged to above $110 (€99) a barrel this week, their highest in almost eight years. Energy prices had been rising sharply even before the Russian invasion, but have gained renewed momentum in the past week. 

German defense minister visits Romania

German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht landed in Romania on Wednesday. According to the Defense Ministry, Lambrecht "discussed the current situation on NATO's southeastern flank" with her Romanian counterpart Vasile Dincu. 

The German army, the Bundeswehr, has stationed six Eurofighters in Romania to participate in armed air patrols with NATO partners.

By 2024, Germany intends to contribute around 13,600 of the roughly 40,000 troops in the NATO Response Force, a rapid response force designed to handle emerging crises.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Germany has announced plans to pump an extra €100 billion (roughly $110 billion) into its 2022 defense budget as a one-off measure to meet NATO's annual defense spending target of 2% of GDP.

Ukrainians 'defend' nuclear power plant: parliament

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has tweeted footage that it says shows "residents and employees of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant" preventing Russian forces from entering the city.

"People of Ukraine are defending nuclear safety of Europe with their bare hands," the tweet said.

Citing information from Moscow, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Wednesday that Russian forces had seized control of the Zaporizhzhia plant. It is the largest of Ukraine's nuclear power plants

The IAEA added that the Russian Embassy in Vienna said staff at the plant continue to ensure safe operation. Radiation levels are said to be normal. 

Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, has warned that Russian forces are also seeking to capture the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, about 350 kilometers (around 217 miles) west of Zaporizhzhia. 

Ukraine says 2,000 citizens died since war started 

The Ukrainian government reported that at least 2,000 citizens were killed in the last seven days, "not including our defenders."

On Wednesday, 150 people were rescued from 400 fires that broke out due to Russian shelling, but 10 rescuers died in the mission, according to Ukraine's State Emergency Service.

Number of Ukraine refugees will soon reach 1 million: UN

The UN refugee agency says more than 874,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion last week.

That figure is "rising exponentially" and could cross the 1 million mark within hours, according to the UNHCR.

Spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said Wednesday that more than 200,000 people had crossed into neighboring countries over the past 24 hours. 

She said the UN would be re-evaluating its initial prediction that as many as 4 million people might flee Ukraine. Most of the people who have left the country have traveled to Poland, Hungary and Moldova.

Russia already guilty of 'war crime' in Ukraine, says UK PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of committing a war crime against Ukraine.

"What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin's regime, in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime," Johnson told parliament.

"We call on every nation to join us in condemning Russia and demanding that Putin turns his tanks around," he said. "With the heroism of Ukraine's people ... and the unity of the West, I've no doubt that he will fail and we will succeed in protecting Ukraine."  

Russia's military has stepped up its shelling of Ukrainian cities, including carrying out strikes on residential buildings in Kharkiv.

The office of the International Criminal Court prosecutor said on Monday that it would seek court approval to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

Germany allocates €1.5 billion to buy gas

Germany has designated €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to purchase liquefied natural gas, an Economy Ministry spokesman said, as Germany seeks to become less dependent on energy supplies from Russia.

The funding was "made available" to the German gas market manager Trading Hub Europe, which would decide where the gas was purchased. 

Germany imports around 55% of its gas supplies from Russia.

EU excludes 7 Russian banks from SWIFT

The European Union has put into effect sanctions to exclude seven Russian banks from the SWIFT banking communications system, according to the EU official journal.

Explainer: What is SWIFT?

Russia's second-largest bank VTB, Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank and Vnesheconombank (VEB) will be given 10 days to wind-down their SWIFT operations. 

"All these banks that we have listed under SWIFT... they are all based on their connection to the state and the implicit connection to the war effort. We have not gone for a blanket ban across the whole banking system," a senior EU official said told Reuters news agency.

The list, however, did not name two major Russian banks, Sberbank and Gazprombank, which were left connected to SWIFT to allow EU countries to pay for Russian gas and oil deliveries. 

SWIFT ban to have 'material impact' on Russia

Russian, Belarussian athletes to compete at Paralympics

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said Russian and Belarusian athletes can compete as neutrals at the Winter Paralympics in Beijing.

The announcement came amid calls to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Games in response to Moscow's war on Ukraine. 

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had recommended that sports federations suspend teams and athletes from the two countries but, added that they could compete as neutrals if time or legal constraints prevented their removal.

"They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table," the IPC said in a statement 

"In deciding what action to take, the Board was guided by the IPC's core principles, which include a commitment to political neutrality and impartiality, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of sport."

The Winter Paralympic Games run from March 4-13. 

DHL suspends deliveries to Russia, Belarus 

German logistics company DHL said it was suspending deliveries to Russia and Belarus after Moscow's invasion. 

The "inbound services to Russia and Belarus have been suspended," DHL said in a statement.

DHL added that it was "not accepting shipments to those countries until further notice" after also closing its offices and operations in Ukraine.

Germany registers 5,309 refugees from Ukraine

A German Interior Ministry spokesperson said a total of 5,309 people have been registered entering Germany from Ukraine. 

"But as you know, there are no border controls, at least no regular border controls, only random checks. That's why it is very possible that significantly more people have already reached Germany," the spokesperson told a regular news conference.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said 835,928 people have fled Ukraine so far. The figure was at 677,000 just a day before, according to the UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi. 

More than half have headed west into Poland.

Russia claims control of Ukraine's largest nuclear plan

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, citing information from Moscow, that Russian forces have seized control of the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine

The IAEA said in a statement that the Russian embassy in Vienna said  staff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continue to ensure safe operation. 

Radiation levels are said to be normal. 

A map showing nuclear power plants in Ukraine
Zaporizhzhia houses Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant

The IAEA board of governors is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, has warned that Russian forces are also seeking to capture the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, about 350 kilometers (around 217 miles) west of Zaporizhzhia. 

Last week, Russian forces captured the closed nuclear power plant in Chernobyl. There was a slight increase in radiation readings at the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster after military vehicles stirred up radioactive soil there.

Ukrainian emergency services report 4 deaths in Kharkiv

Emergency services in Ukraine's eastern city of Kharkiv said four people were killed and nine were injured in Wednesday's shelling. 

A day earlier, Russian shelling hit residential areas in Kharkiv, with the city's governor saying it killed at least 21 people.

Nigeria to airlift hundreds stranded by war in Ukraine

Nigeria's Foreign Ministry said three jets were set to be sent on Wednesday to carry nearly 1,300 stranded in Ukraine's neighboring countries after fleeing the war

"The first batch of evacuees are expected to arrive in Nigeria on Thursday, March 3," Gabriel Aduda, permanent secretary for the ministry, said in the statement.

"We assure Nigerians that we are working round the clock to see that our citizens are bought back home safely."

African countries have been scrambling to help their citizens living in Ukraine, amid reports of racism and being blocked from crossing the borders into Poland, Romania and Hungary. 

On Tuesday, Ghana flew in its first group of 17 out of more than 500 students from Ukraine's neighboring countries.

Nigeria has 5,600 students in Ukraine, according to its Foreign Ministry.

British ex-commander: Military aid to Ukraine proving effective

Chris Deverell, former commander of the UK's Joint Forces Command, told DW that military assistance to Ukraine has so far proven to be effective. 

"The challenge, of course, is to get that military equipment into the hands of the Ukrainian soldiers. Even if you can get it to the border, it's not a simple thing to get it into the right place," he said. "But my assumption is the Ukrainians are working very hard at that." 

"And for sure, it is evident that the military supplies that have already been delivered, in particular the anti-aircraft weapons and anti-tank weapons are damaging those Russian forces."

Asked how he sees the war in Ukraine playing out, Deverell said a "World War III" seemed like an unlikely "worst-case scenario." 

"I think that what happens is a long fight for control of the cities from Russian forces and a gradual wearing down of the Russian economy, hopefully to a point in which the Putin regime collapses," he said. 

Russia 'ready' to continue talks with Ukraine

The Kremlin says a Russian delegation is "ready to continue talks" with Ukrainian negotiators on Wednesday evening.

However, it was not clear whether Ukrainian officials would attend.

A first round of talks since Moscow's invasion was held on Monday. Those negotiations made little progress and ended only in an agreement to talk again.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russia to stop bombing before a second round could take place.

"It's necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table," Zelenskyy said in an interview with Reuters.

Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny calls for daily anti-war protests

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny called for protests in Russia and Belarus to decry the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

"We cannot wait any longer. Wherever you are, in Russia, Belarus or on the other side of the planet, go to the main square of your city every weekday and at 2 pm on weekends and holidays," Navalny's aide Kira Yarmysh wrote on his Twitter account. 

He also urged people in other countries to march to Russian embassies to demand an end to the war.

Navalny, who is in prison, said he knew the risk of protesting in Russia and Belarus. "If in order to stop the war we have to fill prisons and paddy wagons with ourselves, we will fill prisons and paddy wagons with ourselves."

Spain to deliver 'military hardware' to Ukraine

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that Spain "will deliver offensive military hardware to the Ukrainian resistance." 

 The Spanish government had initially planned to send defensive equipment to Ukraine only through an EU collective action, in which the bloc agreed to dedicate €450 million ($500 million) for member states to buy arms for Ukraine.

EU Commission proposes protection plan for Ukraine refugees

The European Commission has proposed a plan to offer temporary residence permits and access to employment and social welfare for people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The temporary protection proposal is set to be discussed by EU interior ministers on Thursday.

The Commission's "Temporary Protection Directive" was designed to deal with large numbers of displaced persons arriving in the EU. 

The new legislation will provide the same level of protection in all member states.

Ukrainian refugees arrive in Poland

"Europe stands by those in need of protection. All those fleeing Putin's bombs are welcome in Europe," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

"We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home." 

German coal-fired plants an option if Russia cuts gas exports

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the government was prepared in case Russia stopped exporting gas to Germany. 

"We are prepared for that. I can give the all-clear for the current winter and summer," Habeck told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. 

"For the next winter, we would take further measures," he added, pointing to planned new legislation to ensure gas storage is full for winter.

"So we are also taking precautions for the worst case, which has not happened yet because the Russians are delivering," he said. 

Habeck, a Green politician, added that in a worst-case scenario, Germany could keep "coal-fired power plants in reserve, maybe even keep them running," but that it was committed to moving to renewables in the medium-term.

Zelenskyy says Russia wants to 'erase' Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says nearly 6,000 Russian troops have been killed since Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

In a video address, Zelenskyy said Russia would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.

"They don't know a thing about Kyiv, about our history. But they all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all," he said.

Zelenskyy also called on Jewish people around the world to speak out after a Russian missile strike on a Kyiv TV tower damaged the nearby site of a World War II massacre of Jews by German troops.

"Don't you see what is happening? That is why it is very important that millions of Jews around the world not remain silent right now," he said. 

"Nazism is born in silence. So shout about killings of civilians. Shout about the murders of Ukrainians."

Ukrainian ex-minister: Make Russia a 'Middle-ages-kingdom'

Sergiy Petukhov, Ukraine's former deputy minister for European integration, told DW that Ukrainians deserve "the signal" from the EU. 

"We clearly see people continue to fight for the future, for independence, and for the right of choice — to choose to become a European nation," he said, a day after President Zelenskyy pushed EU lawmakers for Ukraine to join the bloc.  

Zelenskyy asks EU 'to admit Ukraine immediately'

"I think it's fair for the people to get the signal from the EU that they are heard, that they are part of the European family," Petukhov added. 

Petukhov also called for a "complete lockdown" on Russian economic and financial activities. 

"Putin doesn't care about the life of his soldiers… what he cares about is his influence. And the only way to stop him is to physically make it impossible for Russians to go on," he said. 

"Make [Russia] a Middle-ages-kingdom, where [there is] no communication, no technology, no ability to wage war. I think that's the only way. And that would make Russian people think… whether they need a crazy leader like that." 

Speaking from Kyiv, Petukhov said he feared a Russian attack was imminent. "While the city remains under the control of Ukrainian administration and armed forces, we are awaiting pretty much for an attack on the civilians," he said. "It's just a matter of time."

Russia claims it has control of Kherson

Russia's Defense Ministry says Russian troops have captured the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

"The Russian divisions of the armed forces have taken the regional center of Kherson under full control," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks.

The coastal city, which is home to nearly a quarter million people, has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent days. It lies just north of Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014. 

Germany sends extra Eurofighters to NATO flank

Germany has "increased and extended" its role in NATO's enhanced Air Policing in Romania in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said.

In a post on Twitter, the ministry said six German Eurofighter jets would protect the military alliance's southeastern flank until at least the end of March.

Three German Eurofighters already in Romania were joined by three additional German aircraft last week, a NATO statement said.

Enhanced Air Policing is a collective defense mission to protect and secure NATO's airspace.

Google blocks RT, Sputnik from Play store in Europe: report

Google says it has blocked mobile apps linked to Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik from its Play store, according to Reuters.

The step is in line with an earlier move by the company to remove the Russian state publishers from its news-related features.

The European Commission is preparing to ban Kremlin-backed media over concern they are spreading misinformation about the war in Ukraine. That has prompted several tech companies to limit distribution and advertising tools for those outlets.

RT Deputy Editor-in-Chief Anna Belkina said in a statement on Tuesday that technology companies that have cut her outlet's distribution have not pointed to any evidence that it has reported falsehoods.

Apple Inc said that RT News and Sputnik News were no longer available for download from its App Store outside Russia.

More than 450,000 refugees arrive in Poland

Poland says more than 450,000 people have entered the country from Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on Thursday.

Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker told private Radio Zet that the number of people crossing the border dropped slightly on Tuesday to 98,000 from a record 100,000 on Monday. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries, mainly Poland, Hungary and Romania. The UN estimates that around a million people are internally displaced, while more than four million Ukrainian refugees may need help in neighboring countries in the coming months.

Map showing refugee movements from Ukraine to neighboring countries

Russian paratroopers land in Kharkiv

Ukraine's military says Russian airborne troops have landed in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

"There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians," the military said in a statement on messaging app Telegram.

The battle over Kharkiv intensified on Tuesday, with Russian shelling hitting residential areas and the city's central square.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said a fire broke out in the barracks of a flight school in Kharkiv following an airstrike on Wednesday.

"Practically there are no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit," he was quoted as saying in a statement on Telegram. 

The country's second-largest city is home to around 1.4 million people and lies near the Russian border. It has been a target for Russian troops since last week's invasion of Ukraine began.

The city's governor said at least 21 people had been killed in shelling and 112 wounded.

DW correspondent Mathias Bölinger, who is in western Ukraine, said there had been continuous attacks on Kharkiv, the capital Kyiv, and the southern city of Kherson.

"Russian troops are inside the town of Kherson," he said. "This would be the first big city in Ukraine where they seem to have taken control, although fighting is still going on, nothing is decided yet."

Bölinger also said it was not clear what the massive Russian military convoy advancing towards Kyiv would do next. "We have seen these columns standing there for some time. There are also questions about how long they can stand there because all the fuel and food that they have with them will be eaten away in the time they are standing there."

Moscow stock exchange closed for a third day

Trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange remained suspended on Wednesday, but Russia's Central Bank said it would allow a limited range of operations for the first time this week.

Western sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine have sent Russia's ruble plunging to a record low. In response, the Central Bank more than doubled interest rates to 20%.

The government has also taken measures to restrict foreign investors from divesting Russian assets in a bid to stem an investor retreat.

Biden: 'Freedom will always triumph over tyranny'

In his first State of the Union address, Joe Biden said that in standing with Ukraine there was an "unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny."

Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine was "premeditated and unprovoked."

He also warned Russia's oligarchs and announced that US airspace would be closed to all Russian aircraft.

Russian Americans decry war in Ukraine

Twitter to comply with EU sanctions

Twitter said it will comply with the European Union's sanctions on Russian state-affiliated media RT and Sputnik, after the order comes into effect. The social media giant also said it would reduce the visibility of these accounts outside of the EU. 

"The EU sanctions will likely legally require us to withhold certain content in EU member states. We intend to comply with the order when it goes into effect," the company told Reuters agency. 

Facebook, Google, YouTube and TikTok have said they are blocking access to RT and Sputnik in the EU.

Russians cannot leave with more than $10,000

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to prevent Russians from leaving the country with more than $10,000 (€9,000) in foreign currency, according to state media.

The move is an attempt to "ensure Russia’s financial stability," according to a statement from the Kremlin's press office. 

Since last week's Kremlin-instructed invasion of Ukraine got underway, Western sanctions have threatened to send the Russian economy into a tailspin.

Dozens of Japanese sign up to fight for Ukraine

The Mainichi Shimbun daily newspaper reported Wednesday that 70 Japanese men, including 50 former members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and two veterans of the French Foreign Legion, had applied to be volunteers in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Sunday for the creation of an "international legion," prompting dozens from the United States and Canada to volunteer.

South Asian students fleeing Ukraine 'maltreated' at border

Moscow threatens to block Wikipedia over invasion article

Russian authorities have threatened to block Wikipedia's Russian language offering over an article detailing the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Wikipedia said state communications regulator Roskomnadzor sent a notification from the state prosecutors office. The notice complained about "reports about numerous casualties among service personnel of the Russian Federation and also the civilian population of Ukraine, including children."

Baerbock: 'Russia has brutally attacked peaceful order'

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock highlighted the example of Mia, the baby girl born "in a metro station just a few days ago," as she spoke of the plight of millions of Ukrainians seeking shelter, "because of Russia launching a war of aggression."

Baerbock made the comments as she addressed the UN General Assembly in New York. For more on this, click here

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Tuesday

A Russian airstrike hit the main television tower in the heart of Kyiv, killing five people and injuring five more. Ukraine's Interior Ministry said equipment had been damaged and "channels won't work for a while" after a blast sounded in the Babi Yar district.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the European Union to prove that it supports Ukraine during the invasion by Russia. His comments came in a video link address to the European Parliament one day after he submitted an official request to join the bloc.

More than 70 Ukrainian troops were killed when Russian troops shelled a military base in the town of Okhtyrka, regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said in a social media post. The town is located between Kyiv and Kharkiv, in the northeastern Sumy region.

Britain's Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update that Russia's advance on Kyiv had made "little progress," citing "logistical difficulties" as the reason for the lack of headway. On Monday, satellite pictures showed a massive Russian military convoy spanning a distance of about 40 miles (65 kilometers) inching towards Kyiv.

Advancing Russian forces shelled the central square of Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, hitting the local administration building. The regional governor said that Russia had launched GRAD and cruise missiles.

The UK government said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin could face prosecution for war crimes.

Ukrainian men abroad return home to fight

fb, nm, kb/rt (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)