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U.S. bans Russian oil and gas imports as Ukraine war creates 2 million refugees

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Ukrainians face dire conditions amid Russian siege 04:21

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President Biden took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin's main revenue source on Tuesday by announcing a U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports over the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement came as the worst refugee crisis Europe has seen since World War II deepened, with more than 2 million people fleeing Ukraine in recent days into neighboring countries, according to the United Nations. 

Russian forces are now surrounding key cities and inching — apparently more slowly than they'd hoped — toward the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Ukraine's defense forces are mounting a fierce resistance, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports.

Reports from battered Ukrainian cities suggested that Moscow is at least partially upholding its latest promise to allow civilians to flee from its seemingly indiscriminate artillery barrage. But while a truce in the northeast Ukrainian city of Sumy appeared to be holding, some people never got the chance to flee. At least 20 people were killed in one strike on the city alone Monday evening, local officials said.

Evacuations from at least one other surrounded city were quickly marred by alleged cease-fire violations. 

At least three previous cease-fires collapsed, with Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of breaking the truces. Ukrainian officials said Tuesday that Russia had attacked a "humanitarian corridor" out of the southern port city of Mariupol.  


Venezuela frees two Americans as Ukraine war hastens both nations' rethinking of their hostile relationship

The Venezuelan government has freed two jailed Americans, including an oil executive imprisoned alongside colleagues for more than four years, as it seeks to improve relations with the Biden administration amid Russia's war with Ukraine, the White House announced Tuesday night.

Gustavo Cardenas was released following a secret weekend visit to Venezuela by senior Biden administration officials, the first White House trip to the county in more than two decades. Also freed was Jorge Fernandez, who was arrested last year on what the White House described as "spurious charges."

"These men are fathers who lost precious time with their children and everyone they love, and their families have suffered every day of their absence," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The release came hours after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signaled an interest in improving relations at a time when Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sparked concerns in the United States over rising gas prices. In a televised address, he appeared to indicate he was willing to accede to U.S. demands that he resume negotiations with his opponents as a first building block for any relief from U.S. sanctions that have been punishing the OPEC nation for years.

U.S. officials have not detailed any other specific outcomes of the talks, but said the release reflected months of relationship-building, particularly involving Roger Carstens, the administration's special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.

By The Associated Press

Lawmakers agree major spending bill that includes $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and European allies

Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan deal early Wednesday providing $13.6 billion to help Ukraine and European allies plus billions more to battle the pandemic as part of an overdue $1.5 trillion measure financing federal agencies for the rest of this year.

Though a tiny portion of the massive bill, the money responding to the Russian blitzkrieg that's devastated parts of Ukraine and prompted Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II ensured robust bipartisan support for the legislation. President Joe Biden had requested $10 billion for military, humanitarian and economic aid last week, and Democratic and Republican backing was so staunch that the figure grew to $12 billion Monday and $13.6 billion just a day later.

"We're going to support them against tyranny, oppression, violent acts of subjugation," Mr. Biden said at the White House.

Party leaders hoped to whip the 2,741-page measure through the House on Wednesday and the Senate by week's end, though that chamber's exact timing was unclear. Lawmakers were spurred by the urgency of helping Ukraine before Russia's military might makes it too late.

They also faced a Friday deadline to approve the government-wide spending measure or face a weekend election-year federal shutdown. As a backstop against delays, the House planned to pass a bill Wednesday keeping agencies afloat through March 15, said a House Democratic aide who wasn't authorized to publicly describe the plans and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"War in Europe has focused the energies of Congress to getting something done and getting it done fast," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The bipartisan rallying behind the Ukraine aid package was just one manifestation of Congress' eagerness to help the beleaguered country, though not all of it has been harmonious.  

By The Associated Press

Biden bans Russian energy imports

Biden bans Russian energy imports 02:34

11-year-old Ukrainian boy flees to safety in Slovakia by himself with phone number scrawled on hand

An 11-year-old Ukrainian boy has been hailed as a hero after fleeing his war-torn country by himself — with only a plastic bag, a passport and a telephone number written on his hand. The boy, Hassan, traveled roughly 620 miles by train from Zaporizhzhia, the site of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, to Slovakia to meet relatives, according to Slovak officials.

In a video posted to Facebook, the boy's mother said she is a widow and explained that she was unable to leave Zaporizhzhia because she had to stay with her sick mother, who cannot move on her own. 

"I am very grateful that they saved the life of my child," Yulia Pisetskaya said Sunday. "In your small country, there are people with big hearts ... Please save our Ukrainian children and give them a safe haven," she added. 

Read more here.  

By Natacha Larnaud

Americans travel to join Ukraine war effort

Americans travel to join Ukraine war effort 02:41

Pentagon shoots down Poland's proposal to transfer fighter jets

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby in a statement Tuesday evening said the Department of Defense does not view Poland's proposal to offer jets for Ukraine at the disposal of the U.S. "a tenable one."  

Earlier on Tuesday, Poland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would be willing to transfer its MiG-29 fighter jets, which Ukrainian pilots are trained on, to the U.S. who would decide on how to dispose of them. The jets would fly out of a U.S. air force base in Ramstein, Germany. 

"The prospect of fighter jets 'at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America' departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance," Kirby said in the statement.  "It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it."

The State Department's third highest-ranking diplomat, Ambassador Victoria Nuland told Congress earlier Tuesday that to her knowledge, the U.S. was not consulted prior to the Poles' announcement. 

Kirby in his statement said that the U.S. "is now in contact" with the Poles about their statement today and will continue consulting with allies and partners about the ongoing security assistance to Ukraine. 

By Eleanor Watson

Fitch downgrades Russia's rating to C

Fitch downgraded Russia's rating from a B to a C on Tuesday, according to the company's website.

"The 'C' rating reflects Fitch's view that a sovereign default is imminent," it said.

The announcement comes just days after Fitch and Moody's — two major credit agencies — leveled Russia's credit to junk status.

By Sophie Reardon

U.S. citizens travel to Ukraine to help in war efforts: "Ukrainians have inspired the world"

More than 16,000 foreigners have traveled to Ukraine in the weeks since Russia's invasion in order to help the country fend off the attack. Andriy Penchak, an American licensed truck driver who was born in Ukraine, is one of them.

He told "CBS Mornings" co-anchor Tony Dokoupil that he arrived with three other Americans and wanted to save the lives of the Ukrainians still inside the country.

He launched this mission from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He's never been to battle and used personal savings to pay for his plane tickets.

Penchak said the hardest part was leaving his three young children. "I didn't say goodbye. I said, see you later," he said.

While the White House says the American military is not going into Ukraine to fight Russia, everyday Americans like Penchak are not restricted from going in — although it's not recommended.

Americans travel to Ukraine to help Ukrainians defend against Russia 03:36

Read the full story here

By Tony Dokoupil

Starbucks, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola suspend all business operations in Russia

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, announced on Tuesday the company is suspending all of its business in Russia. In the letter, which he wrote to Starbucks partners, Johnson condemned the "horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia."

"We continue to watch the tragic events unfold and, today, we have decided to suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products," he wrote. "Our licensed partner has agreed to immediately pause store operations and will provide support to the nearly 2,000 partners in Russia who depend on Starbucks for their livelihood."

Coca-Cola also said it would suspend its business in Russia.

"Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine," the company wrote in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

PepsiCo cited "the horrific events occurring in Ukraine" in suspending sales of Pepsi-Cola, 7 Up and other brands in Russia, along with capital investments and advertising in that country, where it's operated for more than 60 years. The company will continue to sell dairy products including milk, as well as baby food and formula, it said.

The announcements come just hours after McDonald's announced it would temporarily close all of its restaurants in Russia.

Read the full story here

By Kate Gibson

IAEA director general says he's "deeply concerned" about staffing at Ukrainian power plant where 210 workers have been stationed for 13 days

In a warning to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ukraine said it's becoming increasingly critical to give staff at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant a relief from their duties, the agency said. According to a release from the IAEA published Tuesday, 210 technical personnel and guards have been working and effectively living at the plant since the Russian invasion began nearly two weeks ago.

The staff has access to food and water and limited access to medicine. But their situation is deteriorating, and Ukraine is seeking the IAEA's help to implement an "effective rotation system," according to the report.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said assisting the staff is crucial for nuclear safety.

"I'm deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety. I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there," he said in Tuesday's report.

The handling of nuclear material at the Chernobyl plant has been put on hold for the time being, and officials can only communicate with the plant via email, the IAEA reported.

The director general also said that "remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl had been lost," according to the report. The agency is looking into the status of safeguards monitoring systems at plants throughout Ukraine.

The IAEA said eight of Ukraine's 15 reactors are operating, including two at the Zaporizhzhia plant that is now under Russian control. It added that staff at the other plants are working in shifts and radiation levels appear to be normal.


Schumer says Ukraine funding is between $12 and $14 billion

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday that Congress' proposed Ukraine aid package is a little under $14 billion, but more than $12 billion. His comments come after his colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, claimed the package had increased to $14 billion, more than double what it was originally.  

"There's a holocaust going on," Schumer said. "When you see that people are lined up on buses to just leave a conflict zone and Putin's artillery shells those buses — that is just below humanity, below dignity." 

For comparison, the U.S. has sent $5.4 billion to Ukraine in both security-related and non-security-related assistance since 2014, according to the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. That was the year Russia annexed Crimea. 

By Kathryn Watson

Poland to turn all its MIG-29 fighter jets over to Ukraine

Poland is ready to transfer all of its MIG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine free of charge, its foreign ministry announced in a statement Tuesday, and it asked the U.S. for used aircraft to backfill the Russian-made jets. 

The ministry's statement said that all of the planes are "ready to deploy" immediately to Ramstein Air Base, which is located in Germany. 

Poland also called on other NATO countries that own MIG-29 jets to do the same.

By Olivia Gazis

Zelensky thanks Biden for U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applauded Mr. Biden for the ban on Russian energy imports into the U.S. and called on other world leaders to do the same.

"Thankful for US and @POTUS personal leadership in striking in the heart of Putin's war machine and banning oil, gas and coal from US market. Encourage other countries and leaders to follow," he tweeted.

Zelensky has been calling on Ukraine's partners to adopt a ban on Russian oil and gas imports to punish Russia for its invasion by targeting a key sector of its economy.

By Melissa Quinn

McDonald's closes in Russia, citing "needless human suffering" in Ukraine

Facing boycott calls and a plea from a large investor, McDonald's on Tuesday said it would temporarily shut its 850 restaurants in Russia due to the country's invasion of Ukraine.

"[O]ur values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine," McDonald's CEO Chris Kempczinski stated in an open letter to employees of the company that was shared with CBS MoneyWatch. The letter stopped short of condemning Russia for the attack.

The world's largest fast-food chain said it will continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia. Ronald McDonald House Charities, the company's philanthropic arm, is now operating in Poland on the border with Ukraine to offer medical care and humanitarian aid for refugees who have fled the fighting. The group's Ukraine chapter is distributing medical supplies and offering aid throughout Ukraine, McDonald's said.

Read more here 

By Kate Gibson

Ukraine refugees "could be me or you," says International Rescue Committee president

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion of the country, according to the United Nations. Within the crowds of people are everyday citizens whose lives have been disrupted, David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, told "CBS Mornings." 

"I think the biggest impression is they could be me or you. These people are teachers, they're journalists, they're charity workers, they're businesspeople, they're housewives. Refugees who are fleeing inside Ukraine and then crossing the border are just people," he said. 

Miliband said more organization is needed as more refugees come into European countries so the "systems don't overwhelm." In Ukraine, Miliband said the people still trapped in badly damaged cities are running low on essentials like water, food, blankets and, in some cases, health care needs. 

"We have got real fear for people's lives inside the country, and we got real [a] job to make sure people are safe across the border," said Miliband. 

IRC President David Miliband talks global refugee crisis amid Russia-Ukraine war 04:37

Read more here


Ukraine says no longer insisting on NATO membership

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine, a delicate issue that was one of Russia's stated reasons for invading its pro-Western neighbor.

In another apparent nod aimed at placating Moscow, Zelensky said he is open to "compromise" on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognized as independent just before unleashing the invasion on February 24.

"I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that ... NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine," Zelensky said in an interview aired Monday night on ABC News.

"The alliance is afraid of controversial things, and confrontation with Russia," the president added.

Referring to NATO membership, Zelensky said through an interpreter that he does not want to be president of a "country which is begging something on its knees."

Russia has said it does not want neighboring Ukraine to join NATO, the transatlantic alliance created at the start of the Cold War to protect Europe from the Soviet Union.

In more recent years the alliance has expanded further and further east to take in former Soviet bloc countries, infuriating the Kremlin.

Russia sees NATO enlargement as a threat, as it does the military posture of these new Western allies on its doorstep.


House to vote on bill banning Russian oil and energy products today, Pelosi says

The House is set to vote Tuesday on legislation banning the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told congressional Democrats in a letter.

The vote by the lower chamber follows the announcement from President Biden that the U.S. is barring Russian oil and gas imports, a move the president said takes aim at the "main artery of Russia's economy."

Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues that approval of the measure by the House supports the president's action.

In addition to cutting off Russian energy products into the U.S., the legislation to be taken up by the House includes two other main provisions designed to weaken Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and isolate it from the global economy: The bill takes steps to review Russia's access to the World Trade Organization and reauthorizes and bolsters the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, allowing the U.S. to impose more sanctions on Russia.

"Because this legislation is an urgent imperative - both morally and for our security interests - the House will consider this legislation on the floor today," the speaker wrote. "It is our hope that we have a strong, bipartisan vote."

Pelosi said Congress will continue working with the Biden administration to limit the negative impacts of Putin's war in Ukraine on Americans. 

By Melissa Quinn

U.K. weighs law to help find, seize Russian oligarchs' hidden "dirty money"

European Union officials were expected to discuss new financial sanctions targeting Russia's billionaire oligarchs on Tuesday, according to the Reuters news agency. Russian-owned luxury yachts, jets and other property have already been targeted by several Western nations, including the U.S.

The U.K. has sanctioned a dozen Russian billionaires, and as CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab reports, the British Parliament is now considering new laws that would make it harder for those oligarchs to spend their money in the country.

 The British government says the Economic Crime Bill is aimed at stopping wealthy Russians from hiding and laundering their money in London, but critics say it's too little, too late.

Tyab says London has long been a playground for the wildly rich, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the days of "dirty money" are over, and that "oligarchs in London will have nowhere to hide."

Watch Tyab's full report on how Britain hopes to make good on that vow below: 

U.K. law closes loopholes used by Russian oligarchs to buy property with shell companies 04:08

Biden announces U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports

President Biden has announced a U.S. ban on Russian oil and gas imports.

"Today, I am announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia's economy," the president said Tuesday. "We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be accepted in U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin's war machine."

The ban also applies to Russian natural gas and coal, sources told CBS News ahead of the announcement. 

The move comes as gas prices have spiked to all-time highs in the wake of the Russian invasion, despite U.S. efforts to release oil reserves and ramp up supply. Mr. Biden said the decision was made in close consultation with allies and partners in Europe. 

Biden announces ban on Russian oil 01:59

Read more here


New York Times pulls reporters from Russia in response to press crackdown

The New York Times is moving its editorial staff out of Russia, becoming the latest U.S. news outlet to limit its coverage there after Russia's parliament adopted a law last week that threatens criminal penalties on anyone who publishes information about the country's military that the Kremlin deems untrue.

An internal message from Michael Slackman, the Times' assistant managing editor, that was shared on Twitter by Cliff Levy, the paper's deputy managing editor, said the company made the decision "in order to protect the safety and security" of editorial staff.

"We will continue our live, robust coverage of the war, and have every intention of maintaining our rigorous reporting on Russia's offensive in Ukraine and these attempts to stifle independent journalism," Slackman wrote.

In response to the new law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, under which violators are subject to 15 years in prison, a number of international news organizations have curbed their reporting activities in the country.

Russia also blocked access to Facebook and Twitter as part of its crackdown.  

By Melissa Quinn

Orphans with disabilities welcomed by Poles and Hungarians

Some of Ukraine's most vulnerable citizens have reached safety in Poland through an effort of solidarity and compassion that transcended borders and raised a powerful counterpoint to war.

Last week, a train pulled into the station in Zahony, Hungary carrying about 200 people with severe physical and mental disabilities — residents of two orphanages for the disabled in Ukraine's capital of Kyiv that were evacuated as Russian forces battered the city.

"Territorially, the orphanages are where the rockets flew, where there were bursts of rifle fire. A metro station near the orphanage was blown up," said Larissa Leonidovna, the director of the Svyatoshinksy orphanage for boys in Kyiv. "We spent more than an hour underground during a bombing."

The refugees with disabilities, most of them children, disembarked the train into the cold wind of the platform and into the arms of dozens of Poles and Hungarians waiting to receive them. From there, they were escorted to four waiting buses, sent from Poland by the Catholic relief organization Caritas.

Read more here

By The Associated Press

Vatican urges peace in call with Russia's Lavrov

Pope Francis is ready to "do everything" he can for peace in Ukraine, his number two told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in a phone call Tuesday, the Vatican said. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin conveyed the pontiff's "deep concern" about the conflict and repeated his call for humanitarian corridors to allow civilians and rescuers to escape the violence, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

Parolin called for negotiations and reaffirmed the willingness of the Holy See "to do everything, to put itself at the service of peace", he said.

The Russian foreign ministry said in its own statement that during the call Lavrov explained the "causes and objectives of the special military operation in Ukraine".

Pope Francis, who last weekend deplored the "rivers of blood and tears" in Ukraine, has sent two senior cardinals to meet refugees in Hungary and Poland, where Catholic charities are also helping the relief effort.


Zelensky says child dies of dehydration as Mariupol residents "deliberately tortured" by Russian blockade

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian forces of torturing the roughly 400,000 inhabitants of the key southern port city of Mariupol on Tuesday, saying Putin's army had besieged the "peaceful and hard-working city," cutting off food, water and electricity supplies.

He cited the blockade of Mariupol as a failure of the West to help his country end Russia's invasion.

"In Mariupol, for the first time in dozens of years, perhaps for the first time since the Nazi invasion, a child died of dehydration," he said in a morning video address. "Hear me, today, dear partners! A child died of dehydration. In 2022!"

Russia Ukraine War
People settle in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 6, 2022. Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

"It has been 13 days of promises. 13 days when we are told that there will soon be help in the sky. There will be planes," he said, referring to discussions among the U.S. and NATO partners to provide Ukraine with fighter jets. 

"The blame for every death of every person in Ukraine from airstrikes and in blocked cities of course lies with the Russian state," said Zelensky, "but the responsibility for this lies also with those who have not been able to make an obviously necessary decision somewhere in the West… those who have not yet secured the Ukrainian sky from Russian murderers. Those who did not save our cities from airstrikes, from these bombs, missiles. Although they can."

In addition to more weapons for his country's forces, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have called for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine — something Western powers have refused to offer as it would likely require American or European aircraft to fire on Russian planes, risking a much wider war.

"I have no more time to wait," said Zelensky. "Mariupol doesn't have time to wait."

By Tucker Reals

Joy in the moment but fear for the future as a Ukrainian couple has their 1st baby in a hospital-turned-bomb-shelter

A maternity hospital in Kyiv is currently doubling as a makeshift bomb shelter for expectant mothers. On this International Women's Day, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata met a young couple there as they had their first child. Their son Hehivniak was born into a world of air raid sirens and explosions.

Pregnant women in Ukraine's capital have sought shelter in the hospital's hallways and basement because it's simply too dangerous to stay home amid Russian artillery strikes and with Putin's forces closing in on the city. What should be one of the most magical moments for any new parents is also proving to be one of the most terrifying.

Sulamia holds her newborn son in a maternity hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine that is doubling as a bomb shelter amid Russia's invasion, March 8, 2022. CBS

"I don't know," said new mom Sulamia, breaking down in tears. "My emotions, so mixed."

But even the war outside couldn't deprive her of the joy of holding her new son.

"It is the most happy moment of my life," she said.

She and her husband Max live on the top floor of a nine-floor apartment building in Kyiv.  They told D'Agata they didn't know when, or even if they would ever be able to take their baby back home.

Russian forces agree to ceasefire in some Ukrainian cities to allow for humanitarian evacuations 03:12

Ukraine's military says Russia has "violated" cease-fire for Mariupol humanitarian evacuation route

Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of violating a humanitarian corridor aimed at enabling civilians to leave the beleaguered southern port city of Mariupol.

Evacuees from Mariupol are seen at a camp in Bezymennoye
Rimma, a three-year-old girl evacuated from the Mariupol area, holds a cat in a bus before leaving a refugee camp, heading for the territory of Russia, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, March 8, 2022. ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/REUTERS

"The enemy has launched an attack heading exactly at the humanitarian corridor," the defense ministry said on Facebook, adding that the Russian army "did not let children, women and elderly people leave the city."

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry also claimed Russia had violated the cease-fire evacuation route from Mariupol, with a spokesman saying in a tweet that Putin's forces were "shelling the humanitarian corridor."

Late Monday, Russia named Mariupol as one of four cities where evacuation corridors would be opened.  At least three previously-agreed cease-fires have collapsed in recent days, with Ukrainian and Russian forces accusing the other side of firing first.



Cease-fire seems to hold in northern city of Sumy, allowing foreign students to evacuate

A cease-fire in the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy, close to the border with Russia, appeared to be holding to Tuesday, allowing for the evacuation of about 1,000 foreign students through a humanitarian corridor, the regional governor said, according to the Reuters news agency.

Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky apparently said in televised remarks that convoys between of 20 and 30 vehicles were leaving the heavily-shelled city in waves.

Evacuations from Sumy
Buses wait during evacuations amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, out of Sumy, March 8, 2022 in this still image obtained from handout video. Ukrainian government handout/REUTERS
By Tucker Reals

Jill Biden lauds Ukrainian women for fighting, Russian women for protesting on International Women's Day

First lady Jill Biden offered solidarity from Washington on Tuesday — International Women's Day — to women in both Ukraine and Russia who are standing up against Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

"To our sisters from Ukraine who are fighting to keep their country free and their families alive: We stand with you in solidarity," she said in a tweet. "To our sisters in Russia who are protesting and speaking out against the invasion at great personal risk: We see your courage."

OVD-Info, an organization that records incidents of political persecution in Russia, says that more than 13,580 people have been arrested across the country for protesting against the war in Ukraine since it began on February 24.

Demonstrators around the world fill streets protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine 02:55

There are many women among Ukraine's defense forces, and many more who have joined in civilian defense brigades and other community efforts to help defend the capital Kyiv and other major cities from advancing Russian forces.

By Tucker Reals

Ukraine claims 12,000 Russian soldiers killed since invasion began

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry claimed on Tuesday that 12,000 Russian forces had been killed since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of his neighbor to the west. Ukraine's government has provided no information on how many of its own troops have been killed in the 13-day war, and CBS News cannot independently verify the figures presented by either side.

Russia has acknowledged the death of about 500 of its troops. On Tuesday, Putin thanked his forces again for their service, offering "special respect to those women who are holding their duty" on International Women's Day.  

The United Nations human rights agency says at least 406 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia's invasion began, but it acknowledges the real figure is likely much higher. Ukrainian officials put it well over 2,000.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kyiv also claimed in its latest assessment on Tuesday that Russia had lost more than 300 tanks and in excess of 1,000 armored vehicles.

By Tucker Reals

Global energy giant Shell says it will pull out of all gas and oil business with Russia

Global energy giant Shell said in a statement on Tuesday that it would "withdraw from its involvement in all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil, petroleum products, gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) in a phased manner, aligned with new government guidance."

The announcement came after Shell agreed to purchase more Russian crude oil last week — a decision the company's boss apologized for in Tuesday's statement.

"We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel – despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking – was not the right one and we are sorry," CEO Ben van Beurden said in the statement, adding that all profits from the "limited, remaining amounts of Russian oil" the company had would go to "a dedicated fund... to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of Ukraine."

The company said it's first step in pulling out of the Russian market would see it immediately halt all spot purchases of Russian crude, close service stations across Russia and suspend all aviation fuel and lubricant operations in the country.

The Biden administration is taking aim at the heart of the Russian economy: its energy sector. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the White House was in "very active discussions" about barring Russian oil imports in the U.S., and a bipartisan group of senators has also called for a ban, which Ukraine has pushed for internationally. 

Gas prices soar as Biden weighs Russian oil ban 02:39

Analysts with Goldman Sachs said Monday that a vote in Congress on banning imports of Russian crude would likely pass with "fairly broad support."

Click here for more about the potential impact of a ban on Russian oil for U.S. consumers.

- Tucker Reals, Irina Ivanova


China's Xi urges "maximum restraint" over Ukraine in call with European leaders

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday urged "maximum restraint" over Ukraine, calling the crisis "deeply worrying" in a video summit with his French and German counterparts Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz.

Beijing has refused to condemn the invasion by its close partner Russia, and Xi said he wanted "the two sides to maintain the momentum of negotiations, overcome difficulties and continue the talks to achieve results," according to state broadcaster CCTV.

"We would like to call for maximum restraint to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis," he said.

Xi added that "the current situation in Ukraine is deeply worrying" and China is "grieved that there is renewed war on the European continent."

China has yet to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine as it tries to maintain relations with key Western allies 04:55

China has said it will send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and on Monday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters that Beijing was open to helping mediate peace - but he stressed that the friendship between Beijing and Moscow was still "rock solid" despite international condemnation of Russia's ongoing invasion.


Number of Ukrainian refugees hits 2 million: U.N.

The U.N.'s refugee agency said Tuesday that the number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine had topped two million — the largest refugee flow in Europe since World War II.

"It doesn't stop," Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Oslo.

Poland Russia Ukraine War
Polish police officer assists a woman fleeing Ukraine by holding her baby as she waits to board a bus at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on March 8, 2022. Visar Kryeziu / AP



"Call Russia" campaign launched in Lithuania to counter Russia's narrative on Russian soil

A group of Lithuanians on Tuesday launched a campaign to encourage Russians abroad to call 40 million compatriots back home and talk to them about what is happening in Ukraine. The campaigners say they are hoping that direct contact will bypass the narrative in pro-Kremlin media and change the minds of ordinary Russians so as to eventually put an end to the conflict.

The initiative, dubbed "Call Russia", has a database of 40 million randomly chosen Russian telephone numbers. A new number pops up every time a user clicks on the campaign website.

One of the campaign's founders, Paulius Seniuta, said he had spoken to three people he knew in Moscow and the conversations were "very difficult".

"These people are in completely different information space and have radically opposing views," said Seniuta, a marketing specialist. "Sometimes it seemed that we are actually from different planets".

Russia introduces jail time for spreading "fake" information as Kremlin cracks down on media 01:53

The website offers tips for callers. It says there should be no "scolding" or "offending" and asks them to be prepared to listen to a differing point of view coming from the person they are calling.

"We ask people to refrain from being confrontational and trying to explain who is right and who is wrong," Seniuta said.

"We urge people to speak about the tragedy of human suffering, people dying, women who are forced to give birth in metro stations," he added.

The human tragedy "is the thing everyone, hopefully, agrees on, whatever the country they live in".


More than 20 Russian helicopters reportedly destroyed on the ground

Britain's defense secretary said Tuesday that there are reports that Ukrainian special forces destroyed over 20 Russian helicopters on the ground overnight as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues to face logistical problems and fierce resistance.

Russia's advance toward the capital, Kyiv, continues to face pressure from Ukrainian troops around the nearby towns of Hostomel, Bucha, Vorzel and Irpin, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update released late Monday. In addition, a lengthy Russian column remains stuck on the road north of Kyiv.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Russian forces are becoming more and more desperate in the face of such military and supply holdups, leading to "indiscriminate shelling" of civilians.

"We've also recognized that probably the biggest single casualties, so far in the war, are Russian military soldiers who have been let down by appalling leaders, appalling leadership and appalling plans. And now you see them, literally, at large scales dying."

By The Associated Press

Russian shelling's been so heavy "we can't even gather up the bodies" one mayor says

Russian aircraft bombed cities in eastern and central Ukraine overnight, Ukrainian officials said. Shelling pounded suburbs of the capital, Kyiv.

In Sumy and Okhtyrka, east of Kyiv near the Russian border, bombs fell on residential buildings and destroyed a power plant, regional leader Dmytro Zhivitsky said. He said there were dead and wounded but gave no figures.

Bombs also hit oil depots in Zhytomyr and the neighboring town of Cherniakhiv, west of Kyiv.

In Bucha, a Kyiv suburb, the mayor reported heavy artillery fire.

"We can't even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn't stop day or night," Mayor Anatol Fedoruk said. "Dogs are pulling apart the bodies on the city streets. It's a nightmare."

By The Associated Press

Biden to issue executive order on cryptocurrency as concern rises over Russia using it to evade sanctions: AP

President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order on cryptocurrency this week that will mark the first step toward regulating how digital currency is traded.

The move comes as administration officials have raised concerns in recent weeks about Russia's use of cryptocurrency to evade the impact of crushing sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions have sent the ruble to historic lows and have closed the country's stock market.

Two people familiar with the process said the executive order on cryptocurrency was expected to be issued this week and it had been in the works long before the war. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the order.

The order is expected to describe what government agencies, including the Treasury Department, need to do to develop policies and regulations on digital currencies. It is expected to include a request for the State Department to ensure that American cryptocurrency laws are aligned with those of U.S. allies and will ask the Financial Stability Oversight Council — which monitors the stability of the U.S. financial system — to study illicit finance concerns.

Additionally, the order will explore the possibility of a new central bank digital currency. The Federal Reserve issued a paper on the topic in January that explores the risks and benefits of U.S.-backed digital currency.

Implicit in the order will be that cryptocurrency will remain a part of the U.S. economy for years to come. The White House's plans to move forward with the executive order were first reported by Bloomberg News.

While U.S. officials have played down the significance of cryptocurrency to Russia's ability to evade sanctions, it remains a concern.

"We will continue to look at how the sanctions work and evaluate whether or not there are liquid leakages and we have the possibility to address them. I often hear cryptocurrency mentioned and that is a channel to be watched," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last week.

A senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the president's national security team has already been on the lookout for the use and creation of front companies and alternative financial institutions that Moscow might try to employ to get around sanctions.

By The Associated Press

Photographing Russia's war atrocities in Ukraine

Photographing Russia's war atrocities in Ukraine 02:59

Estée Lauder suspends "all commercial activity in Russia"

Estée Lauder on Monday announced that it has "decided to suspend all commercial activity in Russia, including closing every store we own and operate, as well as our brand sites and shipments to any of our retailers in Russia."

The company also said that, through its charitable organization, it has committed $1 million "in support of relief efforts in Ukraine," and that it would also be donating various Estée Lauder products to those in need.

By Jordan Freiman

U.S. working with Poland on deal to send fighter jets to Ukraine

The U.S. is urging Poland and other Eastern European countries to give their Russian-made fighter jets to Ukraine and is working on a plan to backfill the planes they give up with U.S.-made F-16s. 

One advantage of the Russian planes is that Ukrainian pilots are already trained to fly them. Another is that the MiGs can be deployed more quickly.

One U.S. official said the administration has told Poland it should make Russian-made MiGs in its arsenal available because these planes would not require U.S. permission to be transferred. Conversely, any effort to send newly manufactured planes to Ukraine could be hampered by several years' worth of paperwork with defense contractors. Further, the transfer of American-made F-16 fighter jets from NATO allies would require congressional notification. 

Because Ukrainian pilots are not trained on American planes, the fighter jets would not be immediately helpful to them, even if they were able to obtain them sooner.  

Read more here.

-Eleanor Watson and Sara Cook


Russia and Ukraine at odds over humanitarian corridors

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that Russian authorities have proposed a cease-fire for Tuesday, CBS News' Pamela Falk reported. The proposed cease-fire, which will begin at 10 a.m. Moscow time, will allow for the opening of humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens from Kyiv, Chernigov, Sumy and Mariupol, Russia said, according to The Associated Press.  

Nebenzia took the floor at the end of a U.N. Security Council meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine on Monday to make the announcement.

"This proposal doesn't have any demands about the citizens being sent necessarily to Russia, into Russian territory," he said.

"There's also evacuation offered towards Ukrainian cities to the west of Kyiv, and ultimately it will be the choice of the people themselves where they want to be evacuated to," Nebenzia said.

But in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of violating previous humanitarian corridor agreements, saying fleeing Ukrainians faced "Russian tanks, Russian Grad rockets, Russian mines."

"They even mined the roads that were the agreed routes for taking food and medicine to the people, to the children, of Mariupol," Zelensky said in what has become a daily video address close to midnight.

During talks on Monday before Nebenzia's address, the Russians proposed evacuation routes leading to Russia and its ally Belarus, rather than to areas of western Ukraine that remain peaceful.

"It's just cynicism," Zelenskyy said. By opening a small corridor to Russia, he said, Moscow is looking only for a propaganda victory.

-CBS/The Associated Press


Flowers in Ukrainian flag's colors seen during queen's meeting with Trudeau

Britain's Queen Elizabeth receives Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle in Britain, March 7, 2022.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth receives Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Windsor Castle in Britain, March 7, 2022. Steve Parsons/Pool via Reuters

Queen Elizabeth II met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, smiling and greeting him in front of a large bouquet of blue and yellow flowers, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

The audience was the queen's first in-person engagement since she tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 20. Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the flower arrangement, but royal watchers say the queen and her family leave little to chance when making public appearances.

Trudeau was in the U.K. for talks on the Ukraine war with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and their Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte.

By The Associated Press

Conflict in Ukraine having "unconscionable impact" on children, U.N. agency tells diplomats

The head of the U.N. children's agency issued an urgent plea to world leaders Monday, saying the fighting in Ukraine is having an "unconscionable impact" on the nation's children.

"Children in Ukraine need help and protection. They need supplies. They need access to basic social services like health and education," Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF, said at the U.N. Security Council's meeting on the crisis in Ukraine. "But above all, children need peace."

UNICEF's Geneva-based spokesman James Elder said Friday half a million children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict. Russell also said schools, homes and orphanages have come under attack.

President Biden's U.N. envoy, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the international community "is haunted by these images of homes, hospitals, schools, orphanages being destroyed, demolished in front of our eyes, child cancer patients unable to receive chemotherapy, babies delivered in basements instead of maternity wards, and hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to electricity for heat or drinking water to stay alive."

The meeting came as France and Mexico are crafting a Security Council resolution that would call for a safe passage of civilians hoping to flee Ukraine. Russia's Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Russia violated the cease-fires that have already been called.

France's Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, who is drafting the measure for the council, said, "What is happening before our eyes is a true humanitarian tragedy. The Russian aggression is killing civilians, including children, every day."

U.N. agencies have set up teams of workers in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and have built on their ongoing presence in Romania, Moldova and Belarus to support the urgent needs of children, UNICEF said on Monday.

By Pamela Falk

"The depravity of it all is mind-blowing"

An American diplomat said Monday that Russia committed an act of "pure evil" after Ukrainian officials said Russian forces attacked civilians trying to flee two cities over the weekend.

"The depravity of it all is mind-blowing," Ambassador Michael Carpenter, the U.S. envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said, according to a copy of his remarks to the group's Permanent Council in Vienna. "On Saturday and Sunday, Russia agreed to open a humanitarian corridor out of Volnovakha and Mariupol but then bombed the egress road just as civilians were in the process of fleeing. It is pure evil."

Carpenter said there was "a moral responsibility to act now."

"Among the many early warning signs of mass atrocities is the use of rhetoric denying a nation's right to exist," he said. "Humanity has witnessed this sort of rhetoric before, and shockingly we are seeing it again today."

By Alex Sundby

Russian restaurants in U.S. face harassment over Ukraine war

Backlash against Russia is hitting some American businesses hard 01:35

Some owners of Russian restaurants in the U.S. report being harassed and losing customers because of the war in Ukraine.

Ike Gazaryan, who owns Pushkin Restaurant & Bar in San Diego, said he received angry voicemail messages about the Russian invasion. "Someone said they would come by and blow up the restaurant and this was gonna be payback for what Russians are doing in Ukraine," he told CBS News' Michael George, adding that much of his staff is Ukrainian.

Read more here

By Khristopher J. Brooks

People are donating to Ukrainians by booking their Airbnbs

People have found a direct way to help individual Ukrainians: booking their Airbnbs. A whopping 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine on March 2 and 3, because people know the money will go directly to the hosts, whose lives have been upended as their country is being invaded by Russia.

The home rental company is temporarily waiving guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine at this time, a spokesperson said in a statement to CBS News. That means Airbnb will not profit from these bookings. On March 2 and 3 the total gross booking value to Ukraine was nearly $2 million.

Read more here

By Caitlin O'Kane

McDonald's and Pepsi still open for business in Russia

Russia's invasion of Ukraine isn't stopping McDonald's from selling Big Macs in Moscow. While a slew of companies have shut down operations in Russia, the world's largest fast-food chain has so far continued with business as usual in the country despite the escalating conflict.

McDonald's is being urged to pull the plug on its 847 restaurants in Russia by a major investor: New York state's pension fund, with an estimated $280 billion in assets under management as of the end of 2021.

More than 200 U.S. and foreign companies have curtailed operations in Russia so far, according to a running tally by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a management professor at Yale University. He lists McDonald's and Pepsi as among 32 companies that remain in Russia with significant exposure.

Read more here

By Kate Gibson

U.S. official says nearly 100% of Russia's pre-staged combat power in Ukraine

Nearly 100% of the combat power Russia built up around Ukraine's borders over the past several months is now committed inside Ukraine, according to a U.S. senior defense official.

The Pentagon assesses the Russians had pre-staged about 127 battalion tactical groups, and as of Monday, most of those groups are now inside Ukraine, the official said. The Biden administration had said before the invasion that over 150,000 Russian troops were built up near Ukraine's borders.

According to the official, there are no indications that forces within Russia are being moved closer to Ukraine's borders to supplement what's already been committed to the war. However, the official confirmed the Pentagon is seeing Russia actively try to recruit foreign fighters, particularly from Syria, to supplement the Russian troops in Ukraine.

By Eleanor Watson

Ukraine's ambassador to U.S. requests "urgent action" from Congress on emergency aid

Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, sent a letter to Congress on Monday urging lawmakers to take "urgent action" on a supplemental funding package that will provide assistance to Ukraine as its citizens continue to defend the country from Russian forces.

In the letter obtained by CBS News, Markarova asks for the legislation to: 

  • take steps to provide Ukraine with aircraft and air defense systems; 
  • increase the amount of presidential drawdown authority for fiscal year 2022, allowing President Biden to send more aid to Ukraine without congressional approval; 
  • boost funding for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative;
  • make funds "maximally flexible" to ensure Ukraine can meet "newly emerging challenges"

"Ukrainians are fighting for the values that we all share — peace, freedom and democracy," the Ukrainian ambassador told lawmakers. "If we are united, we will win. To be united, to overcome this evil, to win, your continued leadership is essential."

Markarova included a handwritten note at the end of the letter that read: "God bless America! Glory to Ukraine!"

The White House last week asked Congress to include $10 billion in humanitarian and security assistance for Ukraine in the government funding package it is expected to take up in the coming days.

By Sara Cook

Ukrainians fleeing to Poland face long journey, frigid weather

Around 1 million Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Poland amid Russian invasion 08:58

Around one million people have arrived in Poland since Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, Polish officials said. Hundreds of thousands more are expected to arrive soon, after making their way out of cities and the war zone. 

"CBS Mornings" co-host Tony Dokoupil visited the Polish village of Medyka, one of the busiest border crossings for Ukrainian refugees, and met dozens of families — many with young children — who have already made the journey. Some were so overcome they couldn't even talk about the situation.

Dokoupil on Monday said nothing prepared him for the sight of so many people walking out of their homeland: the mothers, grandmothers, and the children — so many in their mothers' arms, in strollers or holding hands. Some were no taller than their family's luggage.

Read more here


Ukraine official says "small positive shifts" made in direct talks

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a little progress was made on the matter of safe corridors in a third round of talks Monday with Russia's delegation.

Mykhailo Podolyay said without elaboration that "there were some small positive shifts regarding logistics of humanitarian corridors."

The countries' foreign ministers are also scheduled to meet in Turkey on Thursday, according to that country's top diplomat.

By The Associated Press

Stocks fall as war keeps pushing up oil prices

U.S. stock markets fell Monday as surging oil prices amid Russia's war in Ukraine rattle investors worried about worsening inflation from soaring energy prices.

Both the S&P 500 stock index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite were down 2.2% as of 12:30 p.m. ET Monday, while the Dow was off almost 2%, or 660 points, at 32,954.

Read more here



U.N. says over 1.7 million people have fled war

The United Nations' refugee agency said the number of people who have fled the war has increased to more than 1.7 million.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday put the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion started on Feb. 24 at some 1.735 million. That's up from more than 1.53 million on Sunday.

Nearly three-fifths of the total — nearly 1.03 million — arrived in Poland, according to the agency. Over 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.

Thousands of women, children flee from Ukraine to Poland as Russian invasion continues 03:47
By The Associated Press

Holocaust survivors in Ukraine traumatized by Russia's invasion

For many Ukrainians, the invasion is a painful echo of their past, when they survived the Holocaust.

"I feel like I'm dreaming," 88-year-old Natalia Berezhnaya told the humanitarian group American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in a video. Berezhnaya, who has a home care worker through the group, was born in the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk, now called Dnipro, in 1934. She has lived in Odessa since 1938. 

During the Holocaust, Berezhnaya said she was evacuated to Siberia with her mother and family. Now, her home care worker is helping her survive the Russian invasion.

"It's hard to believe that you might be going through the same thing again that you went through in '41," she said. "This is war. Any ways, any paths that exist to stop it — it must be stopped. And end this bloodshed."

Read more here

By Li Cohen

Russian banks consider issuing credit cards on Chinese system

Leading Russian banks are looking into issuing cards that operate on a Chinese payment system after Visa and Mastercard said they would cut their services in Russia.

Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank said Sunday that they are considering the possibility of payment cards powered by China's UnionPay system. They told users that Visa and Mastercard will work within Russia but will stop working for payments outside of the country after Wednesday.

Russian banks are scrambling to find new ways to facilitate cross-border payments after a host of foreign companies suspended financial services, part of a larger move by the West to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global financial system.

By The Associated Press

Former U.S. Army commander in Europe predicts Russia will fail to take Kyiv, and Putin's "attrition strategy" won't last

Retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of U.S. Army forces in Europe, says Russian leader Vladimir Putin's "initial strategy" when he invaded Ukraine — to quickly storm major cities, oust pro-Western President Volodymyr Zelensky and replace him with a Russian-friendly alternative — "has failed."

Hodges said Russia's military had resorted to "an attrition strategy to bring about the same aim," and acknowledged that the steady barrage of rocket fire on Ukraine's cities had "helped make up for their poor planning, terrible logistics, inability to conduct effective joint operations at the operational level, and their poor estimation of Ukrainian fighting power."

"But I don't think they can sustain this 'overwhelming' firepower as their logistical challenge worsens and the logistics for Ukraine get better," said Hodges. "I don't think they have the manpower, logistics, or time to conduct this approach effectively."

Ukraine citizens cling to safety after failed Russian cease-fire 06:43

Hodges added that Putin's adopted tactics could start to increase pressure on the Russian leader not only from other countries, but from within his own.

"The great unknown for me is if the Russian population will continue to support this once they understand what's really going on," Hodges said. "And I'm sure they'll begin to understand it soon, despite Putin's blackout on news/social media." 

The retired U.S. Army commander foresaw "lots more destruction and fighting" in and around Kyiv, but he predicted that Ukraine's capital "will not fall ... Russians will not be able to take it," due to its sheer size and the resistance being mounted not only by Ukraine's military, but by its citizens.   

Why Russia appears to be losing the information war to Ukraine 10:45
By Tucker Reals

Who are the Russian oligarchs the U.S. is targeting with sanctions?

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of State sanctioned more than two dozen individual Russians last week, piling on the financial pressure on the elites who have influence with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The aid of these individuals, their family members, and other key elites allows President Vladimir Putin to continue to wage the ongoing, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine," according to a release from the Treasury Department on March 3.

The U.S. and Western partners and allies have been pointedly sanctioning Russian oligarchs, saying these elites have pillaged the Russian state and used family members to move and conceal assets. 

Click here to read more about the wealthy individuals the U.S. has singled out for sanctions.

President Biden imposes new sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs 07:22
By Allison Elyse Gualtieri

Russia is focused on "eradicating Ukraine from the face of the Earth," says Ukrainian lawmaker

A Ukrainian Parliament member called on other governments to assist her democratic nation in repelling the invasion by Russia, and said failure to implement a no-fly zone increases the risk of World War III. 

Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian MP and mother of three, has been documenting her fight for freedom and her family's quest for safety online. She tweeted on Saturday: "The violence is killing me. The inhumanity tears my heart apart."

On Monday "CBS Mornings" co-host Nate Burleson asked, "What's your message to the global community about what Ukraine and its people need right now?"

"We need the world to stand with us, not just, like, Twitter hashtags – really come here and stand with us," Vasylenko replied. "We are a partner, a global partner of NATO, of the U.S., of Canada, of all the other countries. And as a partner, we responsibly assess our capabilities. And we do not have the capability to shoot down every single Russian missile, rocket or bomb that is fired onto the territory of Ukraine."

Watch the full interview on "CBS Mornings" below:


In Kyiv's battered suburbs, CBS News meets Ukrainians hiding from Russia's indiscriminate shelling

CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata visited suburbs on the northern outskirts of Ukraine's capital that have been hammered by intense Russian shelling for days. He saw destroyed civilian homes in residential neighborhoods, with no military targets anywhere nearby. 

Russian artillery raining down indiscriminately just outside Kyiv has sent thousands of people fleeing from the capital, gripped by both fear and anger. Many families who had the means to escape have already gone, but many more either couldn't leave, or haven't wanted to risk going outside.

CBS News’ Charlie D'Agata visits Kyiv suburb under heavy bombardment 02:19

Many have sought shelter at a children's holiday camp just outside Kyiv. D'Agata found Tatyana, the deputy manager of the camp, in a state of shock.

Asked if she was going to be okay, she broke down, apologizing and saying it was the first time she had cried in 11 days. 

Downstairs, D'Agata and his team found the elderly and young children all hiding out as thunderous explosions rang out above.

Ukrainians take shelter from Russian artillery strikes in the basement of a children's holiday camp on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, March 7, 2022.  CBS News

People in the makeshift shelter said the onslaught had been so ferocious, they check on each other after each explosion just to make sure they're still alive.

Ukraine's people have been blindsided by the mercilessness of Russia's attack. Many have yet to fully process the tragedy, and they are all powerless to do anything about it.


Cryptocurrency companies resist pressure to close Russian accounts

U.S. banks, oil companies and internet service providers are cutting off Russia's access to their services following its invasion of Ukraine, and the list of other companies doing the same grows daily. But one rapidly growing industry so far has declined to pull back in Russia: cryptocurrency traders.

Crypto exchange platforms are resisting calls by U.S. Treasury officials and others to suspend service to their customers in Russia. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said in a series of tweets last week that "ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline" after the ruble's value plummeted as a result of economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russia. Shutting down Coinbase's trading platform in Russia would hurt ordinary Russians, many of whom don't support the war, he said.

"We are not preemptively banning all Russians from using Coinbase," Armstrong tweeted. "We believe everyone deserves access to basic financial services unless the law says otherwise."

By Khristopher J. Brooks

Some civilians evacuated as shelling pauses in a hard-hit Kyiv suburb

Ukrainian authorities managed to evacuate some civilians from the heavily shelled town of Irpin, just 10 miles from downtown Kyiv, without coming under fire on Monday.

Video showed Ukrainian police and soldiers helping elderly civilians board vans for evacuation a day after thousands of people, hoping to escape the town during a cease-fire agreed by Russian and Ukrainian officials, instead ran for shelter as shells continued falling. 

An image taken from video shows Ukrainian security forces helping an elderly woman toward a van for evacuation from the town of Irpin, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, March 7, 2022. Reuters

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for breaking the Sunday truce, but despite national Ukrainian leaders rejecting a new cease-fire declared unilaterally by Russia on Monday — because most of the escape routes proposed by Moscow led into Russia or its ally Belarus — in Irpin, at least, there was quiet. 

Local officials were quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that about 2,000 civilians were evacuated on Monday. Russian forces were in control of about 30% of Irpin, but the rest of the town remained under Ukrainian control, they said.

By Tucker Reals

Pelosi says House "exploring" legislation to ban Russian oil and energy imports

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues in a letter on Sunday that the House is "currently exploring" a bill that would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the U.S. as part of efforts in Congress to cut Russia off from the global economy.

Pelosi last week said she supports a Russian oil ban, and Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, told "Face the Nation" on Sunday that there is "strong bipartisan support" for such action.

Russian invasion of Ukraine increasing costs of gas, groceries in U.S. 02:36

"Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization," the House speaker wrote. "We would also empower the Executive branch to raise tariffs on Russian imports."

Pelosi said Congress also "intends to enact" this week on President Biden's request for $10 billion in humanitarian and military assistance for Ukraine as part of sweeping government funding legislation. The White House formally requested Congress approve the aid for Ukraine, as well as $22.5 billion for COVID-19 pandemic response, last week.

U.S. proceeds to weigh its involvement as Russian forces continue to attack multiple cities in Ukraine 05:28

"Tragically, Russia continues its premeditated, unprovoked war against Ukraine: violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity, committing war crimes against civilians and engaging in disinformation about the purpose of their invasion," she wrote. "The United States remains ironclad in our commitment to the Ukrainian people and in unity with our allies."

By Melissa Quinn

Ukraine official describes civilian infrastructure hit by Russian shells, says Putin's army only "good at killing civilians"

Just before he sat down with Russian officials for a third round of negotiations on Monday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called Vladimir Putin's regime the "Barbarians" of our times for unleashing a barrage of artillery fire on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure.

He said in a tweet that Russian shells had damaged or destroyed 202 schools, 34 hospitals and more than 1,500 residential buildings. 

Russian officials have insisted since Vladimir Putin ordered the "special military operation" in Ukraine on February 24 that their forces are only hitting military targets, and they accuse Ukrainian "neo-Nazis" and "nationalists" of hiding behind civilian targets. But CBS News has witnessed first hand the shelling of civilian areas, and hundreds of videos have emerged showing apartment buildings hammered by shelling. 

Podolyak said more than 900 Ukrainian towns and villages had been "completely deprived of heating, water and electricity.

"The Russian army doesn't know how to fight against other armies," he said, "but it's good at killing civilians."

By Tucker Reals

Germany warns Russian energy imports "essential" to Europe amid talk of import ban on Russian oil

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz cautioned Monday against banning Russian oil and gas as part of Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, saying doing so could put Europe's energy security at risk.

"Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions," Scholz said in a statement. "Supplying Europe with energy for heat generation, mobility, electricity supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way at the moment. It is therefore of essential importance for the provision of public services and the daily lives of our citizens."

His warning came hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a global boycott of all Russian products, including oil.

Schiff signals "strong bipartisan support" for banning Russian oil and gas 06:51

"If the invasion continues and Russia does not abandon its plans against Ukraine, then we need a new sanctions package," Zelensky said in a video address, including "a boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products from Russia."

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. and its allies were engaged in a "very active discussion" about a potential blanket ban on the import of Russian oil and gas.



IAEA warns of "unprecedented danger of a nuclear accident" at Ukraine's nuclear plants

The head of the U.N.'s global nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned Monday that "military operations at nuclear power facilities of Ukraine have caused unprecedented danger of a nuclear accident, risking the lives of people living in Ukraine and in neighboring countries, including Russia."

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the IAEA's Board of Governors the agency was still monitoring the huge nuclear plant seized by Russian forces late last week after a rocket or missile struck an administrative building on the compound, "causing a fire but no release of radiation."

"It was a close call," said Grossi, adding that "such a situation must not, under any circumstances, be repeated."

Damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine
A damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Enerhodar, Ukraine, seen in a handout photo released March 4, 2022, by the press service of National Nuclear Energy Generating Company. Energoatom/Handout/REUTERS

He noted that Russian forces were in control of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant — the largest in all of Europe — and approving "technical decisions made by the Ukrainian operators" who have been largely deprived of communication with the outside world. 

Grossi said it was "not a safe way to run a nuclear power plant."

"I am deeply concerned about this turn of events," he stressed, reiterating the IAEA's willingness to send a team into Ukraine to help secure that and other facilities. Russia seized the decommissioned Chernobyl plant last month, and its forces have reportedly encircled another facility in the south of Ukraine.

"We're ready to deploy. We can, and are ready, to assist," the IAEA chief said, adding that he was personally "willing to travel to Chernobyl, but it can be anywhere, as long as it facilitates this necessary and urgent action."

By Tucker Reals

So-far fruitless Ukraine-Russia talks to resume for 3rd round, but Moscow vows to complete "demilitarization"

A top aide to Ukraine's president confirmed Monday that he and a few other senior officials from Kyiv were set to meet a Russian delegation for a third round of direct peace talks. But with the Kremlin insisting that Russian forces will achieve their stated goal of the "demilitarization of Ukraine," regardless of any peace process, there was little cause for optimism that the third round of talks would be any more successful than the previous two.

"They were told that all this can be stopped in a moment" Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, referring to purported offers from Moscow to end the attack on Ukraine if Russia's demands were met. He insisted that Russia wasn't trying to claim any further Ukrainian territory, as it did with its 2014 invasion when Moscow seized Crimea. 

"We really are finishing the demilitarization of Ukraine. We will finish it," Peskov said, reiterating the Putin regime's demands that Ukraine commit to never joining the NATO alliance and that it "recognize that Crimea is Russian territory and that they need to recognize that [the eastern Ukrainian regions of] Donetsk and Lugansk are independent states."

"And that's it. It will stop in a moment," Peskov said after listing demands that Ukraine has already ruled out on many occasions.

By Tucker Reals

Russian gymnast's Ukraine invasion symbol called "shocking"

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who sported an insignia linked to his country's military invasion of Ukraine on a medals podium, is facing disciplinary action for his "shocking" behavior on Sunday, the International Gymnastics Federation said.

Kuliak's shirt had the letter "Z" prominently placed as he stood next to Ukraine's Kovtun Illia, the gold medalist at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha.

The "Z" has been seen on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolize support for the invasion.

Kuliak had won the bronze medal on Saturday.

"The International Gymnastics Federation confirms that it will ask the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation to open disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Kuliak following his shocking behaviour at the Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar," a statement from the ruling body said.



Russia claims Ukrainians preparing "provocation with possible radioactive contamination" in Kharkiv

Russia's Ministry of Defense claimed on Monday that Ukrainian forces were "preparing a provocation with possible radioactive contamination of the area near the city of Kharkiv."

The Russian military suggested that Ukrainian "nationalists" had laid explosives around a reactor at an experimental nuclear facility at the Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology, with plans to blow it up and then blame Russian shelling for the explosion. The defense ministry's claim came hours after Ukrainian security services said Russian shells had struck the research institute, but without any reports of damage to the reactor.  

Video shows destructive aftermath in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city 00:47

"Foreign journalists arrived in Kharkiv on March 6 to record the consequences of the provocation, followed by accusations of the Russian Federation of creating an ecological catastrophe," the Russian ministry was quoted as saying by the country's state-controlled media.

Russia's invading forces have caused increasing alarm by seizing control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Ukraine's Zaporozhye facility, and the sealed-up Chernobyl plant that was hit by a devastating explosion and meltdown in 1986. The head of the U.N.'s global nuclear watchdog agency told CBS News on Sunday that Russia had since cut most communications between the staff still running the Zaporozhye facility and the outside world.

Russia's Defense Ministry on Monday insisted the plant had been taken over "to rule out the possible organizing of provocations by Ukrainian neo-Nazis or terrorists."

U.S. and Ukrainian officials have warned for weeks, even before Russia invaded, of the Kremlin's well-established proclivity for creating "false-flag" incidents to use as a pretext for military action.  

By Tucker Reals

China reaffirms commitment to "most important strategic partner" Russia "in the new era"

China's Foreign Minister on Monday called Russia Beijing's "most important strategic partner" amid its continued refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. Wang Yi said ties with Moscow constituted "one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world."

China has broken with the U.S., Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has said sanctions create new issues and threaten a political settlement of the conflict.

"No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era," Wang told reporters at a news conference. "The friendship between the two peoples is iron clad."

China has yet to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine as it tries to maintain relations with key Western allies 04:55

Much attention has been paid to a meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on February 4, after which a joint statement was issued affirming "strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests."

Russia endorsed China's view of self-governing Taiwan as an "inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan," while China backed Russia in opposing the further enlargement of NATO. Beijing says Washington is to blame for the conflict for failing to take Russia's security concerns into consideration.

By The Associated Press

Blinken visits nervous Baltic nations as Lithuania warns more action needed "to avoid the Third World War"

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday assured Lithuania of NATO protection and American support as he began a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine. The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all NATO members and Blinken is aiming to reassure them of their security in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations.

"We are bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared," Blinken said, stressing that the U.S. commitment to NATO's mutual defense pact was "sacrosanct."

"We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack," he said. "No one should doubt our readiness, no one should doubt our resolve."

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken visits Vilnius
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda stand as they meet at the "Presidentura" presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, March 7, 2022. Olivier Douliery/Pool/REUTERS

"Unfortunately, the worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern for all of us and around the world," Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told Blinken. "Russia's reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to European security, the security of our alliance."

Nauseda said that a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that "forward defense" was now needed. He predicted that "Putin will not stop in Ukraine if he will not be stopped."

"It is our collective duty as a nation to help all Ukrainians with all means available," said Nauseda. "By saying all, I mean, indeed all means all, if we want to avoid the Third World War. The choice is in our hands."

By The Associated Press

Ukrainian town says mayor killed by Russian forces while handing out aid

Russian forces have killed the mayor of Gostomel, a town just outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that is home to a strategic airport, city authorities said on Monday.

"The head of Gostomel, Yuri Illich Prylypko, died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick," the city said on its Facebook page. Prylypko was shot dead along with two others, it said, without specifying when.

"No-one forced him to go under the occupiers' bullets," it said. "He died for his people, for Gostomel. He died a hero."

Gostomel, northwest of Kyiv, is home to the strategic Antonov military airport, which was the site of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the first days of the war. 


Ukraine says Moscow's proposal for civilians to flee into Russia or Belarus "not an acceptable option"

Russia announced a cease-fire starting Monday morning and the opening of humanitarian corridors in several areas, but the notion was swiftly rejected by Ukraine as it emerged that most of the evacuation routes Moscow was proposing would have led civilians not into government-held parts of Ukraine or across borders into European Union nations, but into Russia or its ally Belarus.

"This is not an acceptable option," Deputy Ukrainian Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, making it clear that Ukrainian civilians "aren't going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia." 

U.K. government minister James Cleverly called Russia's proposal "cynical beyond belief," telling the BBC that "providing evacuation into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense." 

By Tucker Reals

Russia limiting communications at nuclear facility, watchdog says

Ukrainian staff continue to operate the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, however, it is now under Russian control and they have shut down some external communication to the plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Sunday. The plant, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, was taken over Friday by Russian forces after shelling led to a fire at a training building on the site. 

According to the IAEA, Russian forces at the site "have switched off some mobile networks and the internet so that reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through the normal channels of communication." Ukraine also reports that all Ukrainian activity at the plant, "including measures related to the technical operation of the six reactor units," must now be approved by the Russian commander at the plant.

Ukraine needs more fighter jets "as soon as possible," ambassador says 06:49

Russian forces have also taken control of a second nuclear power plant and are closing in on a third, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the U.S. Congress on Saturday. 

Ukraine ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova told "Face the Nation" on Sunday that the international community should step in and help Ukraine regain control of the nuclear sites from Russia. Markarova noted that the first nuclear plant the Russians seized was the infamous Chernobyl plant, which is "not operational," but still poses a risk because "there is a lot of waste there and everything else."


1.5 million Ukrainians have fled Russian invasion, U.N. refugee commissioner says

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, estimated Sunday that 1.5 million Ukrainians have left the country in the wake of Russia's invasion, which he said is the fastest exodus of people in Europe since World War II.

"As of today, we've passed the terrible mark of 1.5 million refugees and this in 10 days, essentially from Ukraine into five neighboring countries," he said. "If I think of past decades, I cannot think in Europe of a faster exodus of people, not since the end of the Second World War."

Grandi said there are mostly women and children arriving from Ukraine, since men between the ages of 18 and 60 must remain to defend the country against Russia, as well as the elderly and disabled.

By Melissa Quinn

Russia snubs UN court hearings in case brought by Ukraine

Russia has snubbed a hearing at the United Nations' top court into a legal bid by Kyiv to halt Moscow's devastating invasion of Ukraine. A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the International Court of Justice was empty Monday morning as the hearing opened.

The International Court of Justice has scheduled two days of hearings into Ukraine's request for its judges to order Russia to halt its invasion. Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to "immediately suspend the military operations" launched Feb. 24. 

A decision is expected on the request within days, though it remains to be seen if Russia would abide by any order the court might issue.

By The Associated Press

Judo federation strips titles from Putin and Russian oligarch

The International Judo Federation has removed the titles and jobs Vladimir Putin and a long-time Kremlin-supporting oligarch held at the organization. The announcement comes as Russia's attack on Ukraine has killed hundreds of civilians and driven more than 1.5 million to flee into neighboring nations.

"The International Judo Federation announces that Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Arkady Rotenberg have been removed from all positions held in the International Judo Federation," the Budapest-based governing body said in a statement late Sunday.

Putin's honorary presidency of the IJF was suspended last week with the organization citing "the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine."

Russia Putin
In this pool photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, attends a training session with the Russian national judo team at the Yug-Sport Training Center in Sochi, Russia. Mikhail Klimentyev / AP

The Russian president is an avid judoka and attended the sport at the 2012 London Olympics. The 69-year-old is a judo black belt and co-authored a book titled "Judo: History, Theory, Practice."



Blinken says NATO countries have "green light" to send fighter jets to Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that NATO members have the go-ahead to send fighter jets to Ukraine as the U.S. and allies continue their efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia's invasion.

"That gets a green-light," Blinken said in an interview with "Face the Nation" when asked whether the Polish government, a member of NATO, could send fighter planes to Ukraine. "In fact, we're talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians. What can we do? How can we help to make sure that they get something to backfill the planes that they are handing over to the Ukrainians?" 

A White House spokesperson told CBS News the Biden administration is evaluating the capabilities it could provide to backfill jets to Poland if it decided to transfer planes to Ukraine but noted there are several questions that arise from a decision to do so, including how the jets could be transferred from Poland to Ukraine.

By Melissa Quinn
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