A defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued an impassioned plea for help to the world Tuesday, thanking the West for its support and saying his country would not yield to the overwhelming might of the Russian military.
“We will not give up and we will not lose,” Zelenskyy said to a rousing ovation from the British parliament via video from Ukraine. “We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land whatever the costs.”
Zelenskyy acknowledged the costs have been high, citing Russian missile strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians, including children, and devastated residential neighborhoods in Ukraine’s largest cities.
Zelenskyy spoke minutes after President Joe Biden announced a ban on the U.S. import of Russian energy, saying the U.S. is “targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy.” Britain, more dependent than the U.S. on Russian energy, announced that it would phase out the import of Russian oil over the next year.
Earlier Tuesday, the first corridor intended to allow civilians to escape safely from Ukraine’s battered cities opened, a significant move met with skepticism after similar efforts failed. Ukrainian officials said the corridors still were impossible for civilian use due to continued Russian shelling.
The Russian military has countered the claim, alleging that Ukraine only has allowed civilians to use one corridor from the city of Sumy and blocked other routes from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol.
Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Tuesday that the Russian military has announced it will stop firing at 10 a.m. Wednesday to let civilians leave safely via the corridors. He suggested setting up a hotline between Russia and Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation.
The new ceasefire would come after Russian warplanes carried new strikes on residential areas in eastern and central parts of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday.
Ukrainian officials said that that two people, including a 7-year-old child, were killed in the town of Chuhuiv just east of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine late Tuesday. And in the city of Malyn in the Zhytomyr region west of the capital Kyiv at least five people, including two children, were killed in a Russian air strike.
►McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Electric all announced Tuesday they were suspending their business in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
► Booking Holdings, which brands include popular travel sites Booking.com, Priceline and Kayak, announced it suspended bookings in Russia and its ally Belarus. ►The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said Russian Maj. Gen. Vitaly Gerasimov, 45, was killed in battle near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
►Energy giant Shell said it will stop buying Russian oil and natural gas and shut down its service stations and other operations in the country.
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Pentagon: Plan to transfer MiG-29 jets to Ukraine not ‘tenable’
The Pentagon said Tuesday that Poland’s offer to give its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S. so they can be passed to Ukraine raises serious concerns for the NATO alliance and the plan is not “a tenable one.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement that the prospect of jets departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace contested with Russia in the Ukraine war is concerning. He said it’s not clear to the U.S. that there is a substantive rationale for it.
Poland earlier said it would give all of its MiG-29 fighter jets to the U.S., apparently agreeing to an arrangement that would allow them to be used by Ukraine’s military. Ukraine has pleaded for more warplanes.
The decision came Tuesday as Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Ukraine with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Soviet-era fighter jets.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez said giving those planes to the Ukrainian military would give them the ability to keep control over their airspace against Russia’s bigger air force. During a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., urged Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s under secretary for political affairs, to ensure the fighter jets are transferred as quickly as possible.
“Time is of the essence,” Cardin said. “We would like to see those planes there yesterday.”
The Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Poland is ready to deliver the jets to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
The Pentagon said the U.S. will continue to talk to Poland about the matter.
– Deirdre Shesgreen and Christal Hayes
US officials put Americans on alert for Russian cyberattacks
U.S. officials are worried the war in Ukraine could impact American cyber networks as the war enters its third week and Russian President Vladimir Putin grows more isolated.
The nation’s main federal cybersecurity agency told USA TODAY Tuesday it has been encouraging U.S. organizations to up their security.
“While there are not any specific, credible, cyber threats to the U.S., we encourage all organizations – regardless of size – to take steps now to improve their cybersecurity and safeguard their critical assets,” the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement.
U.S. officials said the most likely short-term cyber impact would be spillover of any cyberattack by Russia against Ukraine. That’s because cyber networks are invariably connected and attacks can easily spread to other nations.
The Biden administration sought $10 billion last week in emergency funding from Congress in defense aid, including to support Ukraine’s cyber defenses, as well as $28 million to bolster the FBI’s “investigative and operational response to cyber threats stemming from the Russia threat and war on Ukraine,” according to the supplemental funding request.
Brittney Griner’s wife expresses pain as Russian booking photo released
The wife of WNBA player Brittney Griner expressed her pain on social media as the Phoenix Mercury basketball player remains in Russian custody, possibly facing up to 10 years in prison.
Cherelle T. Griner, the wife of the seven-time all-star, wrote Monday in an Instagram caption “there are no words to express this pain. I’m hurting, we’re hurting. We await the day to love on you as a family.”
Griner has been in custody since February because of alleged drug charges, although the Russian Federal Customs Service didn’t release footage of Griner, identified by Russia state-operated news agency Tass, at an airport screening until Saturday.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist allegedly was stopped for carrying hashish oil in her luggage. The punishment, according to Russian officials, could carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
“My heart, our hearts, are all skipping beats everyday that goes by,” Cherelle Griner wrote. “I miss your voice. I miss your presence. You’re our person!”
CNN reported Tuesday that Russian state television aired on Saturday a photo of Griner holding a piece of paper at a police station. The photo was taken after Griner’s arrest, the network said. The CNN report also included footage of a Russian Federal Customs service official confirming that a “criminal case has been opened against an American for smuggling a significant amount of drugs.”
– Chris Bumbaca
Putin has ‘hands full’ in Ukraine, won’t start conflict with U.S., Rep. Schiff says
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s saber-rattling over nuclear weapons “destabilizing and dangerous” but said he is too busy in Ukraine to get into direct conflict with the United States.
“I think it’s certainly the case that Putin understands how much he was taken on with Ukraine,” Schiff told reporters Tuesday after a hearing on worldwide threats where lawmakers heard analysis from U.S. intelligence agencies.
“I think it has been a brutal realization, not just how well the Ukrainians are fighting, but how poorly his own troops are doing. I think he feels or should feel that he has his hands full more than his hands full.”
– Bart Jansen
Russia provides little of US oil imports
The United States imported roughly 6.1 million barrels a day last year, which accounted for 40% of the crude processed at American refineries. The biggest share of imports came from Canada (61%) followed by Mexico (10%), Saudi Arabia (6%) and Russia (3%), according to the trade association. Colombia, Iraq and Ecuador follow Russia. In 2021, the U.S. imported an average of 209,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Russia, according to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.
Derrick Morgan, a senior vice president for the fuel group, said oil and gasoline are globally traded commodities and banning imports from Russia to the U.S. would affect countries around the world.
“Taking any oil off globally will have an impact,” he said.
– Craig Harris
Civilian death toll rises; true totals unknown
The U.N. office of human rights has recorded 1,335 civilian casualties across Ukraine since the war began, including 474 killed and 861 injured. More than two dozen children are among the fatalities. The U.N. said the true toll likely is “considerably higher, especially in government- controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed” and many reports are pending corroboration.
The U.N.’s refugee agency said Tuesday that 2,011,000 Ukrainians had fled the country, most of them to Poland. The European Union could see as many as 5 million Ukrainian refugees if Russia continues to attack cities, E.U. foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.
US top spy: Putin ‘aggrieved’ at West but looking for off-ramp in Ukraine
The USA’s top intelligence officer offered a blunt assessment Tuesday of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s missteps and the potential for escalated conflict amid in the invasion of Ukraine. U.S. intelligence agencies found that Putin incorrectly calculated going into the conflict that the U.S. and Europe were too internally divided to mount a clear response, that Ukraine was a weak state ripe for an intervention and that Russian forces had modernized itself enough to swiftly win a fight, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told the House Intelligence Committee.
“Putin feels aggrieved the West does not give him proper deference and perceives this as a war he cannot lose,” Haines said.
Putin’s “nuclear sabre-rattling” was part of a strategy to show strength in an attempt to create a face-saving climb down, she said. CIA Director Bill Burns said during testimony to Congress that Putin has “no sustainable political endgame in face of what is going to continue to be fierce resistance from Ukrainians.”
– Matthew Brown
Biden says oil ban hits ‘main artery of Russian economy’
President Joe Biden announced a ban on the U.S. import of all Russian energy in an attempt to target “the main artery of Russia’s economy.”
“Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports,” the president said at the White House. “We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war.”
Biden acknowledged that gas prices, which have already risen since Russia invaded Ukraine, will go up further. The president said he made the decision in consultation with European allies but added they are not in a position to join the U.S. in banning Russian energy imports.
While the U.S. imports little oil and no gas from Russia, the nation supplies Europe with 30% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas. European leaders have been hesitant to cut off the Russian energy supply line. Biden said the U.S. is working closely with European allies to develop a “long-term strategy” to reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Biden on Twitter after the announcement, writing he was thankful for Biden’s leadership “in striking in the heart of Putin’s war machine” with the ban.
– Maureen Groppe, Courtney Subramanian and Christal Hayes
In Mariupol, a struggle to survive
In Mariupol, the Russian army has broken the agreements on the humanitarian corridor for a fourth day in a row, making evacuation “impossible,” the Ukraine government said. Shelling has continued nonstop for a week, and most utilities are out. Civilians in the besieged southeastern port city are struggling to survive, and the Associated Press reports that bodies have been left uncollected on the streets.
Efforts to set up evacuation routes have repeatedly collapsed. With water supplies cut, people have been relying on streams or melting snow. Power outages have residents relying on their car radios for information, some broadcast from areas controlled by Russia or Russian-backed separatist forces.
Looting for food, clothes and even furniture is widespread, and locals refer to the practice as getting a “discount,” AP reports.
Boy, 11, escapes to Slovakia on his own
An 11-year-old boy has made a heroic journey to Slovakia alone to flee the Russian attacks. According to a Facebook post from the Slovak Embassy in the U.K., the boy crossed the Slovakian border with just a plastic bag, a passport and a phone number written on his hand. Volunteers took him to get food, heat and drinks as they prepared him for his next journey. Officials were able to contact his mother from the phone number written on his hand. In a video posted on Facebook, she thanked everyone for her son’s safety.
“He conquered everyone with his smile, fearlessness and determination of a real hero,” a Slovak Interior Ministry representative said.
– Asha C. Gilbert
2 million have fled Ukraine
The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine reached 2 million on Tuesday, according to the United Nations, the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II.
“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches 2 million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, wrote on Twitter. Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said she is “deeply concerned about civilians trapped in active hostilities in numerous areas.”
Poland has been the escape point for more than 1.2 million of the refugees. Several hundred thousand have fled to other European nations, including about 100,000 to Russia. More than 15% of the country of 45 million people are ethnic Russians.
Russia warns oil prices could reach $300 per barrel
Russia warned the price of oil could leapfrog to $300 a barrel and threatened the possible closure of gas supplies to Europe amid rising tensions against Western countries considering a ban on Russia oil.
“It is absolutely clear that a rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on state television, according to Reuters. “The surge in prices would be unpredictable. It would be $300 per barrel if not more.”
Noting Germany’s decision last month to freeze the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, Novak said Russia could ax the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline – considered one of Europe’s main sources of natural gas.
“We have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline,” said Novak, The Guardian reported.
Gas prices are now the most expensive in US history
After days of dramatically rising gas prices in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the national average for a gallon of gas is now the highest in U.S. history, breaking the record that stood for nearly 14 years. As of Tuesday morning, the cost of regular gas in the U.S. is $4.17, according to AAA, up from $4.06 on Monday. Last week, the average cost was $3.60.
The previous national average high was $4.11, set on July 17, 2008, according to AAA.
“Americans have never seen gasoline prices this high, nor have we seen the pace of increases so fast and furious,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy, said in a statement on Monday.
– Jordan Mendoza
PRICE GOUGING?Are oil and gas companies price gouging consumers at the pump?
Lviv struggling with influx of Ukrainians hoping to flee to Poland
Many refugees are crossing over to Poland through the far western city of Lviv. But the city is buckling under the pressure of the tens of thousands of people who have fled their hometowns in hopes of seeking refuge in another country. “We really need support,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said. The city needs big tents with kitchens in order to prepare food, he said.
The historical city, once a popular tourist destination, had a population of 700,000 before the war. Now, over 200,000 displaced Ukrainians are filling up Lviv’s sports halls, schools, church buildings and hospitals.
– Celina Tebor