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Ukraine's Zelenskyy asks Putin for direct talks

March 3, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a message to Putin: "I don't bite. What are you afraid of?" Meanwhile, the US and UK have unveiled new sanctions on Russian oligarchs. DW has the latest.

Ukrainian civilians throw Molotov cocktails to the defend the city of Zhytomyr
Diplomatic talks have not resulted in a lasting cease-fire in Ukraine, with fighting having entered a second weekImage: Viacheslav Ratynskyi/REUTERS
  • Russian forces trying to blockade Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol, mayor says
  • Macron warns 'worst is yet to come' after a 90-minute phone call with Putin
  • Russian, Ukrainian negotiators reach agreement on humanitarian corridors
  • Two Russian media outlets closed over Ukraine coverage
  • EU agrees on temporary protection for Ukraine refugees
  • US, UK announce new sanctions on Russian oligarchs

This article was last updated at 22:58 UTC.

US grants 'temporary protected status' to Ukrainians

The United States said it is granting "temporary protected status" to Ukrainians currently in the country. The status will apply for the next 18 months and means Ukrainians in the US will not face deportation.

"Russia's premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

Mayorkas added, "In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States."

UN nuclear chief calls for fighting to end in Enerhodar

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for fighting to end in the northwestern town of Enerhodar, which is located near the major Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. 

"Director General Grossi appealed for an immediate halt to the use of force at Enerhodar and called on the military forces operating there to refrain from violence near the nuclear power plant," an IAEA statement said.

Enrhodar's mayor said fighting was taken place on the outskirts of the town.

The Zaporizhzhia plant is responsible for around one-quarter of Ukraine's power generation.

Elon Musk says Starlink could be targeted by attacks

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk warned that his company's Starlink internet service could be targeted by a Russian attack. Musk recently sent Starlink antennas to Ukraine to help civilians stay online amid the invasion. 

"Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high," Musk tweeted. "Please use with caution."

He requested users "turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna as far away from people as possible." He also said users should "place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection."

Germany's Scholz urges cease-fire

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for a cease-fire in Ukraine during the "Maybrit Illner" TV program and said sanctions on Moscow were having an impact.

He described the invasion as a "war against the Ukrainian people."

At the same time, he stated that "regime change" to take out Russian President Vladimir Putin is not an option on the table. He said a direct conflict between NATO and Russia must be prevented.

Scholz also urged former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to leave his positions at Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom. Schröder is a member of Scholz's center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Kyiv human rights lawyer tells DW about the situation in Ukraine

Oleksandra Matviichuk has told DW that she has lost any sense of time since the Russian invasion. "War is a horrible thing, but we are resisting the Russian aggression."

Alongside concerns for family members, Matviichuk said everyone was worried about how to save "peaceful cities and Ukrainian lives."

The only focus, she said, was to drive Russia from Ukraine's borders. Watch the full report below.

Kyiv resident speaks to DW

US imposes new sanctions on Russian oligarchs

The US announced new sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs and Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov.

Nineteen oligarchs were targeted in total, along with their family members and associates. 

Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov, an Uzbek-born oligarch who made most of his wealth in mining and metal operations following the fall of the Soviet Union, is one of the sanctioned individuals. Former Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov was also hit with sanctions.

The US claims these pro-Putin oligarchs have "enriched themselves at the expense of Russian people."

"Other sit atop Russia's largest companies and are responsible for providing the resources necessary to support Putin's invasion of Ukraine," the White House said.

"These individuals and their family members will be cut off from the US financial system; their assets in the United States will be frozen and their property will be blocked from use," the statement added.

The UK also imposed new sanctions on Usmanov and Shuvalov on Thursday.

'We're coming for your ill-begotten gains'

German president expects 'long' Russia-Ukraine war

During a visit to Lithuania on Thursday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he believes the war in Ukraine could last an extended amount of time.

Steinmeier said that he sees "no signs that the war will be over soon," as Russia's assault on Ukraine has lasted eight days so far.

"It will probably be long and we will be patient," the German president told reporters. 

He described the war as a "violation of international law" and said, "No one in the course of history will be able to justify what is happening in Ukraine now."

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits German troops in Lithuania
Germany leads a NATO multidirectional battle group in LithuaniaImage: picture alliance/dpa

Steinmeier visited German troops in Lithuania, a NATO member state. Germany recently bolstered its troop presence in the Baltic nation.

The German president vowed solidarity with Lithuania, which is concerned about a Russian invasion if Ukraine falls.

Agreement on humanitarian corridors

The Ukrainian and Russian negotiators at talks in Belarus say the two sides have agreed on provisions for a number of humanitarian issues.

The understanding involves a temporary cease-fire to allow the evacuation of citizens and the delivery of aid to areas where fierce fighting has been taking place.

The Ukrainian negotiator said that the second round of cease-fire talks had not yielded the results Kyiv hoped for, but the sides had agreed to speak again. 

"To our great regret, we did not get the results we were counting on," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said. According to Belarusian news agency Belta, Podolyak said a third round of talks will take place at the beginning of next week.

Podolyak said cease-fires will only take place in designated humanitarian corridor areas. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said his military has agreed to the corridors.

Although Ukraine expressed disappointment about the second round of talks, Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky claimed the negotiations yielded "substantial progress."

"The main issue we decided on today was the issue of saving people, civilians, who are in the zone of military clashes," Medinsky said. "Russia calls on civilians who find themselves in this situation, if mlitary actions continue, to use these humanitarian corridors."

Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky said the agreements in the second round of talks will be "implemented in the near future."

DW's Richard Walker on Ukraine-Russia talks

Quad leaders agree Ukraine experience should not be allowed elsewhere

Leaders Indo-Pacific alliance known as the Quad were committed to "sovereignty and territorial integrity worldwide, including in the Indo-Pacific," US President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter.

He held a virtual meeting with the prime ministers of India, Australia, and Japan on Thursday.

Without mentioning Taiwan, the leaders agreed that what was happening in Ukraine should not happen in the Indo-Pacific, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

"We've agreed that unilateral changes to the status quo with force like this should not be allowed in the Indo-Pacific region," Kishida said

"They agreed to stand up a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism which will enable the Quad to meet future humanitarian challenges," the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

Moldova applies for EU membership

Moldova has formally applied for membership in the EU, Moldovan President Maia Sandu announced. 

Sandu has previously expressed concerns that Russia may invade Moldova. Thousands of Russian soldiers are currently stationed in the breakaway republic of Transnistria.

Joining the EU would come with both defense and economic advantages for Moldova.

The development comes after Georgia applied for EU membership amid Russia's ongoing invasion.

Zelenskyy willing to sit down with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to participate in face-to-face talks. 

"Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 meters," Zelenskyy said during a press conference, a reference to a long table Putin used for recent meetings with foreign leaders. "I don't bite. What are you afraid of?"

Zelenskyy also spoke about the West's reluctance to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine. 

"If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes!" Zelensky said. "If we are no more then, God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next. Believe me."

'They'll march to the Berlin Wall, believe me'

Putin praises 'heroism' of Russian soldiers

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised his soldiers in Ukraine during an address, and claimed that Russian military operations in the country are "going to plan."

He said Russia and Ukraine are "one people" and reiterated his claims that the Russian military is fighting "neo-Nazis" in Ukraine. 

He made numerous assertions about Ukrainian soldiers without evidence, suggesting they are taking civilians hostage and using human shields.

Death toll rises further in Chernihiv

The death toll in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv continues to rise, following a Russian attack on residential areas. 

City authorities now say 22 people have died from the attack, up from an earlier figure of nine. Rescue work is still taking place in the area.

Governor of the Chernihiv region, Vyacheslav Chaus, said earlier on Telegram that two schools were attacked in the area, along with private homes. 

Ukrainian writer documents war from Kyiv

DW investigative journalist lays out research on possible Russian war crimes

DW investigative journalist Lewis Sanders discussed his research into possible Russian war crimes in its invasion of Ukraine. 

"For the past couple of days, we've been looking into an attack on a regional administrative building in the heart of Kharkiv, to be precise at Freedom Square. Now that attack left six people dead and dozens more wounded," Sanders said in an interview on DW's English channel. "And if we look at the CCTV television TV footage, you can see that if you go in frame by frame, you can see the projectile right before impact."

War crimes in Ukraine? DW's Lewis Sanders

"With the help of military experts, we were able to identify the projectile as a Russian-made caliber cruise missile," Sanders continued. "Now, why is that important? Well, cruise missiles, generally speaking, have multiple guidance systems as part of the system, which suggests that this could have been a targeted attack."

He said that his team did not find any legitimate military targets in the area around Freedom Square. 

"And so what is quite interesting is that we spoke to residents in the area and witnesses who told us that they had heard two explosions that morning, one at eight o'clock and one 10 minutes later," Sanders said.

He claimed that based on research into Russia's military actions in Syria, Russian forces typically target an area by attacking it twice. He said this suggests the attack at Freedom Square could have been deliberate by Russia. 

In addition, he said the alleged use of cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons also suggest possible war crimes by Moscow, as they indiscriminately harm civilians.

Fridays for Future demand end to Russian energy imports

Tens of thousands of demonstrators supporting Fridays for Future protested in several German cities to demand an end to the war in Ukraine.

Activists who usually campaign for environmental causes said they took to the streets to "stand with Ukraine" and wanted to "Stop War."

Fridays for Future activists demonstrate against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Berli
Fridays for Future activists demonstrate against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in BerliImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

"The Ukrainian war, causing a huge humanitarian crisis, is fueled by the power of fossil fuels," Friday's of Future said on social media.

"The struggle over resources, especially oil and natural gas, has been intensifying and creating conflicts and wars all over the world," they added.

The group wants an end to imports of oil, natural gas, and coal from Russia.

Earlier, Germany's Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the country was still dependent on Russian fossil fuels.

He spoke out against a ban on energy imports from Russia. I would not advocate an embargo on Russian imports of fossil fuels. I would even oppose it," he said after meeting German business leaders.

Habeck: 'We must free ourselves from Russian energy'

Russian oil giant Lukoil calls for 'immediate cessation' of conflict

Russia's second-largest oil producer Lukoil has become one of the first major domestic firms to have spoken out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The Russian oil giant said in a statement its board supports "the immediate cessation of the armed conflict and fully supports its resolution through the negotiation process and through diplomatic means."

Sanctions against Moscow for its attack against Ukraine have pushed Russia to the brink of its worst economic crisis in decades. 

While some prominent Russian businessmen have expressed concern — from abroad — over the economic implications, Lukoil is among the first major companies to issue such a statement at home. 

The company said it would continue in its efforts to "provide reliable energy supplies to consumers around the world" and that it was "committed to strengthening peace, international relations and humanitarian ties."

EU agrees on protection plan for refugees

Interior ministers of the EU states have agreed on a scheme of temporary protection for people fleeing the war in Ukraine, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson announced. 

The plan, initially put forward by the European Commission, grants people fleeing Ukraine residence permits in EU countries, as well as access to the labor market and social welfare, effectively waiving long bureaucratic procedures.  

In announcing the approval of the proposal, Johansson called it a "historic decision." 

OSCE members set up mission to probe possible war crimes

Some 45 members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are triggering a system to set up a mission of experts looking into possible war crimes by Russia in Ukraine. 

"They are invoking the so called 'OSCE Moscow Mechanism' to set up a mission of independent experts to... establish the facts and circumstances of possible cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including due to deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure," Britain's mission to the OSCE said. 

The move by the 57-member body follows other institutions looking into possible war crimes in Ukraine, including the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

Ukraine's envoy to the UN Human Rights Council earlier demanded a similar probe.

Second round of Ukraine-Russia talks begins

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators have started a new round of talks, Ukraine's presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said.

Podolyak said the talks would focus on pushing for a "humanitarian corridor" and an immediate cease-fire.  

The meeting was held in Belarus, according to Belarusian state media.

On Monday, the first round of talks yielded no breakthrough. Ukraine has said it would not accept any "ultimatums" by Russia, while Putin said Moscow could add further demands if Kyiv stalls the talks. 

"Attempts to buy time by dragging out the negotiations only lead to additional demands on Kiyv in our negotiating position," Putin told French President Macron in a phone call on Thursday, according to a readout by the Kremlin. 

Macron fears 'worst is yet to come' after call with Putin

French officials said the phone call between President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, left the French leader believing that "the worst is yet to come." 

The Elysee palace said earlier that Putin and Macron spoke for 90 minutes about the situation in Ukraine as Paris continues to seek de-escalation. 

According to French officials, the telephone call was initiated by Putin, who said his army's "operation" was going "according to the plan" that Moscow had. 

"There was nothing in what President Putin said that could reassure us," a French presidential adviser told reporters, adding that Putin had reiterated his "narrative" that he was seeking the "denazification of Ukraine."

"'You are lying to yourself'," Macron told Putin, according to the official. "'It will cost your country dearly, your country will end up isolated, weakened and under sanctions for a very long time'." 

Macron had slammed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but said he would remain in contact with Putin "to convince him to renounce armed force." 

Macron on Ukraine: 'This war will last'

Russian TV channel Dozhd halts work

Russian television channel Dozhd (Rain) is temporarily suspending its work after its website was blocked earlier this week, its general director Natalya Sindeeva said in a statement. 

Russian prosecutors had accused Dozhd of spreading false news about the war in Ukraine and inciting extremism.

Sindeeva's announcement came after another liberal Russian broadcaster, Ekho Moskvy radio station, shut down following pressure over its coverage of the war in Ukraine.

"We need strength to... understand how we can work from here. We really hope that we will return to broadcasting and continue our work," Sindeeva said in the statement published on the channel's website.

Hungary objects to EU refugee protection proposal 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said Budapest did not agree to a proposed scheme by the European Commission to provide temporary protection to people fleeing Ukraine.

Gulyas said the EU already had clear asylum rules in place, and that Hungary would grant refugee status to everyone fleeing Ukraine.

According to Gulyas, the Visegrad Four group, also including the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, jointly did not support the proposal by the European Commission.

The remarks came as EU interior ministers were meeting to discuss the proposed plan, which was widely expected to be approved. 

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said she hoped her counterparts would agree on the scheme soon. "Today, it is about all EU members agreeing on a policy to be able to provide help in a non-bureaucratic way," she said.

The proposed measures would apply to Ukrainians and those with long-term residency or refugee status in Ukraine, sparing them from lengthy asylum procedures.

They would be granted temporary residence permits and access to the labor market and social welfare. 

Heartbreak at the Ukrainian border

Ukraine demands accountability for Russian 'war crimes' 

Ukraine's first deputy foreign minister told the UN Human Rights Council that Russian troops were carrying out acts that amount to war crimes in Ukraine. 

"Recent events clearly point to the fact that the Russian troops fighting in Ukraine carry out the most blatant violations and abuses of human rights, systematically engage in acts that clearly amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," Emine Dzhaparova told an urgent debate.

"We must stand together to ensure accountability for the war criminals spilling the blood of Ukrainian children."

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov, denounced the "criminal regime in Kyiv" and accused the US and the EU of supplying lethal weapons, adding, "We do not see any added value in today's debate."

Russia's space agency to prioritize military satellites

Russian space agency Roscosmos said it would prioritize making satellites for military purposes.

"Our space program, of course, will be adjusted. Firstly, priorities will be set," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with Russian state TV. 

"The priority here is the creation of spacecraft in the interests of both Roscosmos and Russia's Defense Ministry," Rogozin said, adding that all future spacecraft will be of "dual-purpose."

Roscosmos will also stop supplying the US with rocket engines, especially the RD-180 engines used on US Atlas launch vehicles and RD-181 used in the first stage of the Antares launch system, Rogozin said. 

"Let them fly to space on their broomsticks," he said. 

Separately, Roscosmos declared an end to its cooperation with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in response to the termination of cooperation by the German side. 

Ukrainian governor: 9 killed in Russian strike on schools

At least nine people were killed and four injured when a Russian airstrike hit two schools and private houses in the Ukrainian northern city of Chernihiv,  governor Viacheslav Chaus said. 

"Rescue work is ongoing. According to the state emergency services, there are for now nine people killed and four wounded," he said.

Ukraine plans to auction NFTs to support military

Ukraine's vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, said that Kyiv will unveil plans for Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to raise funds for its military. 

NFTs, a kind of crypt asset that represents a digital file, have surged in popularity last year, with some selling for billions of dollars

"We will announce NFTs to support Ukrainian Armed Forces soon," Fedorov said in a tweet, without giving any further details of the project.

"Every day there are more and more people willing to help Ukraine to fight back the aggression."

Last week, Fedorov asked major crypto exchanges to block the digital wallet addresses of Russian users. But several platforms have declined to impose such a ban.

What is cryptocurrency?

UN watchdog slams Russian takeover of Ukrainian nuclear plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has passed a resolution condemning the taking over of Ukrainian nuclear plants by the Russian military.

Only Russia and China voted against the resolution of the UN watchdog's board of governors, with 26 voting in favor and five abstentions, according to diplomats. 

The resolution called on Russia to "cease all actions" at Ukraine's nuclear facilities. It also highlighted that the risk of a nuclear accident with international repercussions had increased substantially in the wake of the Russian invasion.

The IAEA also "deplores the Russian Federation's actions in Ukraine, including forcefully seizing control of nuclear facilities and other violent actions," according to the resolution. 

Russian forces have said they seized control of at least two nuclear facilities in Ukraine, including the site of the Chernobyl disaster. 

A map showing Ukraine's nuclear facilities
The IAEA earlier reported, citing Moscow officials, that Russia had seized control of the nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia

Mariupol's mayor: Russian forces trying to blockade port city

Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, said Russian troops were trying to create a blockade around the city. 

"The invaders are systematically and methodically trying to blockade the city of Mariupol," he said.

In a video broadcast, Boichenko said attacks over the past 24 hours have cut off water and power supplies, adding that local authorities need a cease-fire to restore power. 

Ukraine-Russia talks expected to begin shortly

Talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations are expected to get underway at around 1400 GMT in Belarus, a Ukrainian official said.

"On our way to negotiations with the Russian Federation. Already in helicopters," presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter, posting a photo of himself with lawmaker and negotiator Davyd Arakhamia in what appears to be a helicopter cabin. 

Arakhamia said Kyiv planned to discuss setting up "humanitarian corridors" at the meeting.

Earlier, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Moscow was ready for talks to end fighting, but added that Russia would continue its military offensive until its goals, including the "demilitarization of Ukraine, were achieved. 

UN rights chief warns of 'risk to all humanity'

The UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine and warned of a "massive impact" on the rights of millions. 

Bachelet, opening an urgent debate at the UN Human Rights Council, also warned that heightened nuclear threat levels showed all of humanity was at risk. 

"Elevated threat levels for nuclear weapons underline the gravity of the risks to all of humanity," Bachelet said. 

On Sunday, Putin ordered that Russia's nuclear "deterrence" forces be put on alert.

Bachelet further raised concern over tens of millions of people in Ukraine facing "potentially mortal danger." 

"My staff in Ukraine have been contacted by several groups who fear persecution if Russian troops advance, including members of the Crimean Tatar community in mainland Ukraine, as well as prominent human rights defenders and journalists," she told the Geneva forum.

Will Putin's war go nuclear?

Macron speaks with Putin, Zelenskyy 

French President Emmanuel Macron held a new 90-minute phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to the French Elysee palace. 

It marked the third conversation since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

An aide to Macron told reporters that the French president had spoken with Putin "then called President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy" in Kyiv. 

The Kremlin said Putin told Macron that Russia's goals in Ukraine — "demilitarization" and "denazification" — will be achieved in any case. 

"Russia intends to continue the uncompromising fight against militants of nationalist armed groups," Putin said, according to a readout of the call. Putin also told Macron he disagreed with a speech the French president gave the day before.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Macron slammed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but said he would remain in contact with Putin "and will tirelessly continue to do whatever is necessary to convince him to renounce armed force."

F1 terminates contract with Russia 

Formula One has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

F1 had already announced canceling this year's race in Sochi, which was scheduled to be held on September 25. But F1 said it decided to go a step further and end the contract following further discussions. 

"Russia will not have a race in the future," F1 said in a statement. 

Several drivers, including four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, had said they would not have raced in Russia even if F1 had decided to go there. 

How sanctions are hurting the Russian economy

German journalists slam closure of Russian radio station

The German Journalists' Association (DJV) decried the closure of the Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy. 

Ekho Moskvy's board of directors dissolved it after coming under state pressure over its reporting on the war in Ukraine.

Frank Überall, the DJV's chairman, said Russia's measure represented an "arbitrary act of a desperate regime, which no longer tolerates even the even rudimentary criticism." 

Ekho Moskvy was the last critical radio station in radio station in Russia, Überall said. 

ICC probe team leaves for Ukraine 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced that an advance team has left The Hague for Ukraine to start investigating possible war crimes

Khan had announced that the ICC would start collecting evidence just hours earlier. 

"Yesterday I formulated a team and today they are moving to the region," Khan told Reuters news agency.

Khan's office is looking into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by all parties in the conflict, he said.

Scholz: 'Putin is committing crimes'

Lavrov says Russia is ready to talk, but 'operation' will continue

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says any peace accord Russia signs must include the "demilitarization" of Ukraine. He also said Moscow would continue its "operation" despite diplomatic talks.

Russian officials have been careful to avoid the word "war" when discussing the invasion of Ukraine in public.

"We are ready to talk but we will continue our operation because we cannot afford to allow infrastructure in Ukraine, which would threaten the security of the Russian Federation, Lavrov said, adding that "demilitarization" would involve "destroying the infrastructure and weapons systems threatening us." 

Previously, Russia's top negotiator for Ukraine, Vladimir Medinsky, said his delegation was waiting on Ukrainian representatives to start talks in southwestern Belarus.

Invasion of Ukraine enters second week

Czech authorities probe people justifying Russia's invasion

Authorities in the Czech Republic are investigating around 200 instances of people suspected of "justifying genocide" by publicly defending Russia's actions in Ukraine online.

One person has been detained over their social media posts and could face a prison term of between six months and three years if convicted. The police also launched criminal proceedings in nine other cases.

"Even the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech has its limits, and speech that provokes or justifies violence or hate goes beyond those limits and can be legally punished,"  the police said in a statement.

The clampdown on social media posts comes as Russian lawmakers prepare a law that could impose a 15-year sentence for posting "fake news" about Russian military forces online.

Ikea halts activities in Russia, Belarus

Swedish furniture giant Ikea said it would suspend its operations in Russia and Belarus. 

The decision affects nearly 15,000 employees, 17 stores and three production sites, according to the AFP news agency. 

"The war has had a huge human impact already. It is also resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions. For all of these reasons, Ikea has decided to temporarily pause operations in Russia," Ikea said in a statement to AFP.

Volkswagen suspends production in Russia 

German car giant Volkswagen said it would stop its vehicle production in Russia due to the war in Ukraine. 

Operations in VW plants in Kaluga, southwest of Moscow, and in Nizhny Novgorod, in western Russia, will be halted "until further notice," the company said. 

Volkswagen, which is Europe's largest auto group, said exports to Russia would also be "stopped with immediate effect."

"The war in Ukraine is upsetting us all," VW officials wrote in a letter to the workforce. "After the Russian attack, Volkswagen hopes for a quick cessation of the hostilities and a return to diplomacy." 

VW halts Russian business

Zelenskyy says Russia would pay 'reparations'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to restore "every house, every street, every city" destroyed in the Russian invasion, and called on Russia to learn about "reparations and contributions."

"You will reimburse us for everything you did against our state, against every Ukrainian in full," Zelensky said in a video statement," he said.

France seizes yacht linked to Rosneft CEO Sechin

French authorities said they have seized a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat due to EU sanctions against Russia.

The vessel was allegedly owned by a company linked with the chief executive of Russia's Rosneft. The company's CEO, Igor Sechin, is considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nuclear war conversations are happening in the West, not Russia — Lavrov

Russia's top diplomat Sergey Lavrov said there was a "conversation" about nuclear war happening right now, but that it was not happening in Russia.

"Everyone understands that WWIII could only be a nuclear war," he said. "But I want to point out that nuclear war keeps bouncing around in the heads of Western politicians, not Russians. I assure you that we will allow no provocations to take us out of balance, but if they start waging a real war against us, people who are hatching those plans should think about that. And, from my perspective, those plans are being hatched."

He also said that the West's "hysterics" would pass and that he had no doubt a solution for Ukraine would be found, describing the Western sanctions against Russia as a kind of an "independence tax."

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country's nuclear deterrence was ordered into a "special mode" of readiness, although the exact effects of that order remain unclear.

Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert, escalating tensions

Moscow cautions against further escalation

Russia's second-most senior diplomat Sergey Ryabkov said Moscow was cautioning its "opponents" against escalating the crisis. Talking to the Russia's RBC broadcaster, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov described the West's reaction to the fighting in Ukraine as an "unprecedented political, economic, information attack on Russia."

He also said that Russia's "special operation" — a term used by Russian officials — would be completed and "Ukraine's demilitarization and its denazification" needed to be achieved. Ryabkov also said there is a "perspective of some dialogue" between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus.  

Previously, Russian President Vladimir Putin also listed those goals for the attack, pointing to the alleged threat posed by anti-Russian far-right elements in Ukraine. The comments were condemned by Holocaust remembrance bodies, with observers pointing out that the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is both a native Russian speaker and Jewish.

'Nazis are the perfect enemy'

Speaking to RBC, Ryabkov said Moscow was still insisting on "security guarantees" from the West, and that he believed that "one day" the West and Moscow would start improving ties again.

"But there will be no going back to the way it was before, the West itself destroyed the architecture of mutual safety that existed until recently," he told the TV channel.

Russia's RT cut from African satellite service

South Africa satellite broadcaster Multichoice has cut Russia-owned RT from its African service.

They said that the channel would not be carried on their DStv platform "until further notice."

The move was prompted by EU sanctions imposed on Russia, according to Multichoice.

UK intelligence says Russian convoy delayed by resistance and 'breakdown'

In their latest intelligence update, UK officials said that the Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv were still controlled by Ukrainians "depsite heavy Russian shelling."

"Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson but the military situation remains unclear," they said.

Commenting on the Russian military convoy advancing on Kyiv, the officials said Russian forces were slowed down by "staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion. "

"The column has made little discernible progress in over three days," UK intelligence officials said.

Reports: Germany to send Soviet-era missiles to Ukraine

Berlin is preparing a shipment of 2,700 Soviet-era "Strela" missiles to Ukraine, according to government sources cited by news agencies. A source told the Reuters news agency that the missiles were "ready to be transported" but that the Federal Security Council has yet to approve the move.

The weapons would come out of the depots once overseen by Soviet-controlled East Germany, which reunited with West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Berlin has long refused to provide Ukraine with deadly weapons, but the policy was changed last week due to the Russian attack. Over the weekend, the German government decided to supply Ukraine with 500 US-made surface-to-air Stinger missiles and 1,000 anti-tank weapons.

Russian aviation, space industry firms to be blocked from London insurance market

The UK is preparing a ban for UK-based insurance providers from financial transactions with "a Russian entity or for use in Russia,"  the British Treasury said in a statement.

The London insurance market is the world's largest commercial and specialty insurance center.

France urges its citizens to leave Russia

The French government has strongly urged its citizens to leave Russian territory if their presence is "not essential" to themselves or their families. The call comes three days after the US issued a similar appeal to American nationals.

Separately, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 2 TV that Paris would float a cease-fire resolution in the UN Security Council on Thursday.

"I think it is possible that the worst is ahead of us," he told the broadcaster, commenting on the Russian attack.

"The Russians entered Ukraine looking for a blitzkrieg, a fast advance that would allow Russia to control Ukraine," according to Le Drian. With that strategy failing, Moscow could focus on besieging large cities.

"As forces build up around those cities we can fear a siege mentality," he said.

5 fakes of the war in Ukraine

Russia's liberal Ekho Moskvy radio closes

One of the few remaining liberal radio stations in Russia, Ekho Moskvy, was dissolved by its board of directors after coming under intense state pressure over its reporting on the war in Ukraine.

The staton's editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov criticized the board's move.

"The decision to dissolve was made in 15 minutes, they didn't even invite me to the session," he told the Interfax news agency.

While the station is seen as independent in its reporting, it is also majority owned by Russian state energy giant Gazprom. Google has previously blocked the station on YouTube due to their Gazprom links.

The station was taken off the air in Russia on Tuesday, with Russian prosecutors claiming they were broadcasting fake news about the conflict. On Thursday, Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor requested Google to ban the Ekho Moskvy app from its store, citing breaches of Russian information law.

Russian, Belarusian athletes banned from Beijing Paralympics

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has decided to ban competitors from Russia and Belarus from the competition in Beijing which is due to start tomorrow.

Initially, the sports body said the athletes from those countries would be allowed to compete as "neutrals" with no anthem or flag, but it has since came under strong pressure to reverse the decision. According to the committee, many athletes signaled they would not compete against Russians and Belarusians, jeopardizing the event.

"In the last 12 hours, an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us," IPC president Andrew Parsons said in a statement. "They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences."

Parsons added: "What is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now put us in a unique and impossible position so close to the start of the Games."

Russia intensifies attacks on Ukraine

Toyota halts production at St. Petersburg plant

Carmaking giant Toyota said it was stopping operations at its only Russian plant, located in St. Petersburg. The plant produced around 80,000 vehicles last year, most of which have been sold on the Russian market.

The Japanese-based company also said it has "stopped imports of vehicles, until further notice, due to supply chain disruptions" as Russia faces tough international sanctions.

Toyota has no factories in Ukraine but it had aready stopped all sales operations in that country when Russia launched the invasion last Thursday.

"As a company with operations in Ukraine and Russia, our priority in dealing with this crisis is to ensure the safety of all our team members, retailer staff, and supply chain partners," they said in a statement.

UAE offers visa on arrival for Ukrainians

The United Arab Emirates announced on Thursday it will be offering visas on arrival for Ukrainian citizens, as thousands flee the country. 

The UAE reversed its previous decision to suspend visa waivers to Ukrainians, a move which had drawn criticism from its Western allies. The country also abstained from a UN Security Council resolution last week deploring the invasion. However, at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, all six Gulf Arab states supported a vote to reprimand Russia

'People just blocking roads with their bodies, unarmed'

New talks scheduled, location unclear

Ukraine and Russia are expected to start another round of talks on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Russia's top negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said the Russian delegation was waiting in southwestern Belarus, and that Ukrainian representatives were on their way. Medinsky also told Rossyia 24 broadcaster that Russian soldiers created a "safety corridor" for the Ukrainian delegations.

Belarus said the two sides would meet for talks in the ancient Bialowieza Forest on the border of Poland and Belarus, but a Ukrainian representative disputed this information, saying that "negotiations will indeed happen," but in a different location.

The talks are expected on the cease-fire. The two sides met for their first round of talks on Monday, but the meeting produced no tangible results.

US: Russia in 'full assault on media freedom and the truth'

The US State Department said Russia launched a "full assault on media freedom and the truth" by blocking independent news media and preventing Russians from hearing news of the invasion of Ukraine.

"Russia's government is also throttling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms that tens of millions of Russia's citizens rely on to access independent information and opinions," the State Department said in a statement, adding that Russians relied on social media to contact each other and the outside world.

"The people of Russia did not choose this war. Putin did," the State Department statement said. "They have a right to know about the death, suffering and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine. The people of Russia also have a right to know about the human costs of this senseless war to their own soldiers."

Russian troops in Black Sea port city of Kherson

The Russian Defense Ministry said its troops were in the center of the city of Kherson after conflicting claims over whether Russian soldiers had captured a major urban center for the first time in its eight-day invasion.

Kherson Mayor Igor Kolykhayev said late on Wednesday that Russian troops were in the streets and had entered the council building.

"The occupiers are in all parts of the city and are very dangerous," Gennady Lakhuta, head of the regional administration, wrote on messaging service Telegram late Wednesday

US Congress passes resolution in support of Ukraine

The US House of Representatives approved a resolution "steadfastly, staunchly, proudly and fervently" in support of Ukraine. Many in Congress urged that more be done to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine.

Only three members of the House voted against the resolution: Republicans Paul Gosar of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Matt Rosendale of Montana.

US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is introducing a similar resolution in the Senate, the upper chamber.

On Tuesday night, members of both political parties in the US wore pins and waved the sky blue and sunflower yellow of the Ukrainian flag during US President Joe Biden's State of the Union address to both chambers.

Air raid sirens in Kyiv

Residents of the Ukrainian capital were told to go to the nearest shelter early Thursday morning. Videos shared on social media showed explosions hitting the city.

Kyiv under attack: Ukrainian MP Yelyzaveta Yasko talks to DW

More than 1 million refugees flee Ukraine

The UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, said more than 1 million people have fled Ukraine.

Grandi tweeted, "In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighboring countries."

The 1 million figure amounts to the displacement of more than 2% of Ukraine's population. As of 2020, World Bank figures showed Ukraine had a population of 44 million.

The UNHCR predicts up to 4 million people could make an exodus out of Ukraine, though with the caveat that this figure too could increase.

At this rate, UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said that "at this rate" Ukraine could experience "the biggest refugee crisis this century."

Infographic showing where Ukrainian refugees are headed

German TV to broadcast benefit 'Concert for Peace'

German television will broadcast a soldout "Concert for Peace" to raise funds for humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine. The concert is being organized by the Berlin State Opera with Staatskapelle Berlin star conductor Daniel Barenboim.

The concert and television event will be in the form of a matinee scheduled for Sunday. Proceeds will go to the UN Ukraine Humanitarian Fund (UNHF).

The presidents of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, and the Bundesbank, Joachim Nagel, will attend. Both central banks will make donations to the UNHF.

The Ukrainian national anthem, based on Pavlo Chubynsky's poem "Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished," set to music by Michailo Werbizki, will be included along with symphonies by Schubert and Beethoven.

The Berlin State Opera said its management and staff were "horrified, shocked and deeply concerned about the war that the Russian government has launched against Ukraine."

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."

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Wednesday

The Russian military said it took control of the southern city of Kherson, yet both the Ukrainian military and Pentagon disputed the claim.

The UN registered 752 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 28.

A member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation's (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission was killed during an attack on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Russia claims 498 of its troops have been killed so far, a number far lower than Ukrainian estimates.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the war has ushered in a "new era" for Europe and urged the continent to take charge of its own security.

Meanwhile, US top diplomat Antony Blinken described the death toll in Ukraine as "staggering" and voiced support for a cease-fire. President Joe Biden vowed to "inflict pain" on Russian Vladimir Putin in his State of the Union address.

A vast majority of member states in the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution calling for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. Russia, along with four other countries, voted against the measure. 

Guterres: 'The message of the General Assembly is loud and clear'

The International Criminal Court confirmed that it will open an investigation into the conflict in Ukraine. 

In Germany, the mayor of Berlin is calling on other German states to assist in helping Ukrainian refugees.

In addition, Germany has pledged help for Ukrainian forces on the ground, with German weapons having arrived in the country.

Russia's economy has taken a hit due to Western sanctions, with international credit rating agency Fitch downgrading Russia to "B" and several multinational firms shuttering operations in Russia. 

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called for daily anti-war protests in Russia and Belarus to decry the invasion.

fb, wd, ar/nm (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)