Russians seize nuclear power plant in Ukraine after fire put out - 3/2/2022get the free app
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he war in Ukraine entered a new phase Friday when Russian troops seized Europe's largest nuclear power plant after a fire in a nearby training building was extinguished. Both sides agreed Russian forces control the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, but both blamed the other for the fire.
Ukrainian authorities said Russian shelling sparked the blaze. At first they said Russian forces were keeping firefighters from reaching the flames but later said the Russians had relented.
According to the Reuters news service, the Kremlin blamed Ukrainian saboteurs and called the fire a "monstrous provocation."
No increases in radiation levels were detected and plant personnel were monitoring its operations, Ukrainian officials said. Russia's defense ministry said the plant was operating normally.
In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of using "nuclear terror."
"No country has ever shot at nuclear blocks except for Russia," Zelensky said. "First time ever. For the first time ever in our history, in the history of human kind, the terrorist country has reverted to nuclear terror."
During earlier televised comments, Russian President Vladimir Putin said operations in Ukraine were going according to plan despite international criticism over the targeting of highly populated residential areas. A senior U.S. defense official said more than 90% of the combat power Russia built up along Ukraine's borders ahead of its invasion is now committed inside Ukraine.
Also on Thursday, Russia claimed it had taken its first major city, Kherson, and that the country's forces also surrounded the vital port city of Mariupol, as heavy strikes continued to target Ukraine's second largest city of Kharkiv as well as an area just outside the capital, Kyiv. In the northern city of Chernihiv, missiles slammed into residential neighborhoods, killing at least 33 people, according to emergency services.
"The use of weapons with wide-area effects in populated urban areas risks being inherently indiscriminate," U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said.
The United Nations Human Rights Council said more than a million people have fled Ukraine in the week since the invasion began and a million more are displaced internally.
After fire at nuclear power plant put out, Russians seize it
The fire in a training building at Europe's largest nuclear power plant has been extinguished, Ukrainian emergency services said early Friday. Then Russian forces seized the plant, according to the Kremlin and officials in Ukraine.
Both sides later said the plant was operating normally.
Ukrainian officials blamed the blaze on Russian shelling. But, the Reuters news service said Moscow blamed Ukrainian saboteurs and called the fire a "monstrous provocation."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of resorting to "nuclear terror" and wanting to "repeat" the Chernobyl disaster after, he said, invading Russian forces deliberately attacked the plant.
Ukrainian emergency services initially raised alarm that Russian troops were preventing them from reaching the flames but later said the Russian military eventually allowed rescuers to access the site.
"The fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims," the emergency services said in a statement on Facebook at 6:20 a.m. local time (11:20 p.m. Thursday EST).
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing Ukraine's regulatory authorities, said essential equipment at the plant wasn't affected and there was no change in radiation levels.
U.S. offers temporary legal status to 75,000 Ukrainians
The Biden administration on Thursday offered tens of thousands of Ukrainians living in the U.S. a temporary humanitarian protection from deportation due to the ongoing Russian military offensive in Ukraine.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas created an 18-month Temporary Protected Status program for Ukrainians who have lived in the U.S. since March 1, allowing eligible people to apply for work permits and deportation protections.
The TPS designation is expected to benefit 75,100 Ukrainians in the U.S., according to a DHS estimate, including those on temporary student, tourist or business visas, which could lapse while fighting continues between the Russian military and forces defending Ukraine. Ukrainians who are in the U.S. without legal permission could also qualify.
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Ukrainian president says Russia has "reverted to nuclear terror"
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian tanks, which have thermal imagers "so they know what they're shooting at," are aiming for the plant.
"We are issuing a warning, no country has ever shot at nuclear blocks except for Russia," he said in a video address overnight Thursday. "First time ever. For the first time ever in our history, in the history of human kind, the terrorist country has reverted to nuclear terror. Russian propaganda had warned in the past to cover the world in nuclear ash. Now this isn't just a warning, this is real."
"Only immediate action can stop the Russian troops," Zelensky said. "Do not let Europe die in the nuclear catastrophe."
International Atomic Energy Agency moves emergency center to 24/7 response mode over power plant fire
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it moved its Incident and Emergency Center to a 24/7 response mode after the fire at the plant.
In a statement, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Ukraine told the agency earlier Thursday that Russian tanks and infantry "broke through the block-post" to the town of Enerhodar, which is a few kilometers away from the plant, CBS News' Pamela Falk reported.
"The battle is going on in the town of Enerhodar and on the road to the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant) site," Ukraine said at the time, according to the statement.
Grossi called for an end to the fighting near the plant, and said the IAEA is working with Ukraine to help keep the plant safe.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to request U.N. Security Council meeting "in the coming hours"
U.K. officials confirmed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the nuclear power plant incident overnight Thursday, and that the prime minister would seek an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting "in the coming hours."
The statement added that "both leaders agreed a ceasefire was crucial."
Fire breaks out at Europe's largest nuclear power plant after shelling, officials say
Russian forces pressed their attack on a crucial energy-producing city by shelling Europe's largest nuclear plant early Friday, officials said, sparking a fire and raising fears that radiation could leak from the damaged power station.
Plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant in the city of Enerhodar and had set fire to one of the facility's six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency tweeted that there has been "no change reported in radiation levels" at the site, which provides about 25% of Ukraine's power generation. It also called for a "halt of use of force" and warned of "severe danger if reactors hit."
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Russia's credit rating slashed to junk
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has the nation on risky financial footing, with the major credit agencies now leveling its credit to junk status. The downgrades come amid crippling sanctions — arguably the toughest and swiftest on any country in modern times — intended to curtail Russia's ability to support its currency, the ruble, and import and export goods.
Moody's on Thursday cut Russia's rating to junk, echoing a step taken by Fitch a day earlier. Both say Western sanctions imposed over Moscow's military intrusion into Ukraine would harm the economy and heighten the potential of Russia defaulting on billions in debt.
The range and harshness of the sanctions surpass "initial expectations and will have material credit implications," Moody's wrote in its downgrade, cutting Russia's rating by half a dozen notches, to B3 from Baa3.
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Russia severs ties with U.S. and European space projects
While the International Space Station continues to operate in near-normal fashion for now, the Russians have terminated commercial Soyuz launch operations at the European Space Agency's launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, and cut-off sales and support for Russian rocket engines used in U.S. rockets.
Former shuttle flight director and program manager Wayne Hale told the NASA Advisory Council on Tuesday the U.S. agency should consider "assembling a tiger team to prepare contingency plans" for ISS operations given the escalating tensions.
Read the full story here.
Where are Russian oligarchs hiding their mega-yachts?
More than a dozen Russian billionaires are under sanction by the U.S., European Union and the United Kingdom, and some are trying to dodge restrictions by moving assets that are mobile — including mega-yachts — into territories where sanctions don't apply and where their property cannot be seized or their assets frozen.
Read the full story here.
Pregnant women in Kyiv take shelter as they await giving birth
As Ukraine's capital awaits another round of explosions, pregnant mothers spend another night taking shelter in the basement of the city's maternity hospital.
"We are living in real hell. I could never imagine that something like that can happen in 21st century," said Alena Shinkar, a pregnant mother in Kyiv.
A city that was at peace a little more than a week ago is now welcoming new life into a dangerous and uncertain future.
1 million people still in Ukraine have been displaced, U.N. says
Of the million refugees who have already fled into neighboring countries, 500,000 of them are children, according to the U.N. Roughly 1 million more people remain internally displaced.
At a shelter in the western city of Lviv, the question on everyone's mind is whether to stay in Ukraine or leave. A grandmother and mother wish they knew what was best for 1-year-old Alina.
"We have no future, if our country is destroyed," the grandmother, Svetlana, told CBS News.A 16-year-old named Dennis told CBS News that he begins everyday texting his relatives, "Are you alive?"
U.S. halts deportations to Ukraine, Russia and 7 other European countries
The Biden administration has suspended deportation flights to Ukraine, Russia and seven other European countries in the region due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, two people familiar with the pause told CBS News on Thursday.
In a statement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed a suspension of deportation flights to Ukraine.
Meet the American teen tracking Russian oligarchs' jets
Jack Sweeney first attracted public attention after starting a Twitter account devoted to tracking Tesla founder Elon Musk's private plane. Now the teenage college student has a new pet project involving another set of billionaires: publicizing the movements of private jets owned by Russian oligarchs.
Graham warns Russia will "wind up in the dark" over invasion
Senator Lindsey Graham told "CBS Mornings" Vladimir Putin needs to be held accountable for the destruction and loss of life happening in Ukraine.
Graham suggests a "multiple front approach" when it comes to Putin and his fighters—including hitting them with economic sanctions and helping the Ukrainians
"I want every military commander and every pilot to know in Russia that if you carry out these atrocities against the Ukrainian people, you do so at your own peril. You're going to wind up in the dark," said Graham.
U.S. sets up deconfliction channel with Russia to avoid incidents
A U.S. official confirmed to CBS News the U.S. and Russia have set up a deconfliction communications channel between U.S. European Command and the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The channel was set up in an effort to avoid incidents and miscalculations between U.S. and Russian forces.
U.S. sanctions more Russian elites, including Putin's spokesman
The White House announced Thursday it will be expanding the list of Russian elites close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who are being sanctioned, cutting the oligarchs off from the U.S. financial system and freezing their assets in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The individuals targeted in the latest round of sanctions are: Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary; Nikolai Tokarev, president of the state-owned pipeline company Transneft; Boris Rotenberg; Arkady Rotenberg; Sergei Chemezov; Igor Shuvalov; Yevgeniy Prigozhin, financier of the Internet Research Agency; and Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia's wealthiest billionaires whose super yacht was seized by German authorities, according to the White House.
The sanctions also apply to their family members.
The U.S. is also imposing visa restrictions on 19 oligarchs and 47 of their family members and close associates, the White House announced.
Twenty-six people based in Russia and Ukraine and seven Russian entities will also be sanctioned in connection with Russia's efforts to spread disinformation about its aggression in Ukraine.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that in choosing which Russian oligarchs to sanction, the Biden administration looks at their proximity to Putin.
"We want him to feel the squeeze. We want the people around him to feel the squeeze," she said, adding more oligarchs will likely be sanctioned.
U.S. official says over 90% of Russia's pre-staged combat power now inside Ukraine
More than 90% of the combat power Russia built up along Ukraine's borders ahead of its invasion is now committed inside Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. defense official.
The Russian forces remain largely stalled in their advance in the north, according to the official. The main forces are still about 25 kilometers (15 miles) outside of Kyiv, the same place they were two to three days ago. It is still the U.S. assessment that Russia intends to surround Kyiv on all sides, according to the official.
The stall comes from a number of factors, including logistics and sustainment problems like running out of fuel and food as well as stiff resistance from the Ukrainians.
There are indications that morale among the Russian troops is flagging, and the U.S. has seen reports of Russians intentionally punching holes in their vehicles' fuel tanks. Many of the troops, according to the official, might not have been told they were going into combat.
The Russians have launched more than 480 missiles, according to the official. More than 230 of the Russians' missiles have been launched from within Ukraine using mobile launchers.
Macron predicts "worst is yet to come" in Ukraine, after call with Putin
As Ukrainian and Russian delegations met for direct talks in Belarus, telephone diplomacy aimed at ending Vladimir Putin's invasion of his neighboring country also continued at the highest level on Thursday. Putin called French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the situation — their third call since the invasion started on February 24.
The conversation followed Macron's address to the French public Wednesday night, in which he called Putin's claims that he was combating "Nazism" in Ukraine a lie. The Kremlin said Putin told Macron during their "frank exchange" that he could not agree with him on that point.
A close advisor to Macron said the French president was "not optimistic" after his hour-and-a-half-long phone call with Putin.
"There is nothing reassuring in what he [Putin] said today," the advisor told reporters in Paris, adding that it was clear to Macron from the conversation that "the worst is yet to come" in Ukraine.
Sources at Macron's office said Putin had made it clear that he wants all of Ukraine to be under Russia's control. One source said Macron told Putin to stop lying to himself, saying: "Either, you are telling yourself stories, or you are looking for a pretext. Either way, what you are telling me is not in line with reality and cannot justify either the current violence, nor the fact that your country will pay dearly because it will end up isolated, weakened, and under sanctions for a very long time."
But the sources insisted there was no tension between the two leaders as they spoke, noting that Macron had used the familiar "tu" for "you" when addressing Putin, rather than the formal "vous." Putin also used the informal pronoun, they said.
The sources added that Macron was keen to keep the dialog going "in order to save lives, and to obtain humanitarian concessions" from Russia.
That, despite Putin's insistence on Thursday that he will continue his offensive against Ukraine until he rids it of a government he claims is run by "neo-Nazis" and criminals.
Ex-Ukraine defense minster calls for no-fly zone: "It's badly needed now"
A former Ukrainian defense minister called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine or small zones over its capital of Kyiv and the country's nuclear facilities.
"The destruction of nuclear power stations would be disastrous for the whole Europe," Anatoliy Grytsenko told CBS News on Thursday. "It's really needed. It's badly needed now."
Grytsenko acknowledged the risks the U.S. and NATO have raised in potentially having to enforce a no-fly zone, but he said it's needed to avoid a humanitarian disaster and civilian deaths.
"On the ground, we will cover by our forces," he said. "They are suffering. They are dying, but it's our duty to protect our country, and the only way to protect now, to help us is closing the skies."
In addition to Ukraine's active-duty military and reserves, including Grytsenko's son, a first lieutenant, the former defense minister said 100,000 civilians with military experience are fighting in the war.
"They will kill whatever is coming to their homes, their streets, their working places," he said, "because it's our land, it's our people and we have to fight for that, and they will fight."
Ukraine, Russia agree to create safe corridors
A member of Ukraine's delegation in talks with Russia says the parties have reached a tentative agreement to organize safe corridors for civilians to evacuate and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky who took part in Thursday's talks in Belarus near the Polish border, said that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary understanding that cease-fires will be observed in areas where the safe corridors are established.
U.N. says confirmed death toll in Ukraine up to 249 but accepts true figure likely "considerably higher"
The U.N. Human Rights office in Geneva (OHCHR) reported an increase in civilian casualties in Ukraine on Thursday, saying 249 civilians had been killed and 553 injured between February 24, when Russia's invasion began, and the evening of March 3.
Most of the casualties were caused "by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes," OHCHR said in a statement.
"There has also been substantial damage to a significant number of civilian objects, including a hospital, schools and kindergartens," High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Thursday. "Essential infrastructure has been heavily damaged – cutting off critical supplies and services, including electricity, water and access to healthcare."
The U.N. human rights office said it believed the "real figures are considerably higher, especially in Government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration."
Ukraine's State Emergency Service said Wednesday that at least 2,000 civilians had been killed by Russia's assault, including 21 children.
Putin's dwindling options and isolation fuel fears about his next moves
Observers of the Kremlin have noted that Vladimir Putin, a former intelligence officer previously known for his restraint, has appeared uncharacteristically agitated, delivering meandering screeds and publicly lashing out at his aides.
"He was always cold, calculating and ruthless. You know, a KGB man through and through," said Mike Vickers, a former undersecretary of defense for intelligence, special operations officer and CIA officer who played an instrumental part in arming the Afghan insurgency during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s. "But he's now more emotional, more erratic, more rambling, I think more reckless, perhaps from increasing self-isolation and confidence in himself."
"This looks like a major strategic blunder that the potential losses way outweigh the gains," Vickers added during a recent episode of CBS News' "Intelligence Matters" podcast. "And so I think in that sense, he really is a different man now, and therefore potentially more dangerous."
Lawmakers gather for a "quick and tense session" in Ukraine's "most targeted building"
Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine's Parliament, said in a tweet on Thursday that she and other lawmakers had gathered for a "quick and tense" session in Kyiv to vote on "defense and security laws" despite regular Russian shelling of the capital city in recent days.
"Parliament sits in person today to vote essential defence and security laws. A quick and tense session. We sing the national anthem in unity as we begin our session in the most targeted building in all of Ukraine," Vasylenko said in the tweet.
On Monday, Vasylenko joined CBS News for a live interview from a location just outside the capital as it was hit by Russian artillery.
"I'm actually preparing now for bedtime, and my children are sleeping under the stairs," she said, explaining that she would not flee Kyiv because she had sworn an oath to serve the people of her country, "because I am Ukrainian, and my biggest value in life is freedom."
"We support Russia" billboards appear briefly in Iraq's capital
Billboards expressing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin as he wages a brutal war against Ukraine briefly popped up in the heart of the Iraqi capital late on Wednesday, only to be removed a few hours later. The billboards were placed in Baghdad's upscale Jadiriyah district, a short distance from the U.S. Embassy and the heavily fortified "Green Zone."
They bore an image of Putin with a slogan reading: "We Support Russia," signed by the "Friends of the President."
The Russian Embassy in Baghdad published a picture of the huge backlit banner on its twitter feed, with the words: "In the streets of Baghdad."
It's not clear who was behind the billboards, but some reports said they were likely ordered by pro-Iranian groups. Iran enjoys wide influence in Iraq, and retains the allegiance of many Iraqi political parties and armed militias.
Moscow and Tehran have forged an increasingly close alliance in recent years. On Tuesday, the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the United States for instigating the war waged by Russia in Ukraine, saying "the U.S. dragged Ukraine to where it is now."
It was also unclear whether the billboards were removed by ordinary citizens acting out of a rejection of Russia's war in Ukraine, or civic works acting on orders from Baghdad authorities.
Satellite image shows super yacht linked to Putin out of reach of sanctions
As Europe and the U.S. bear down with a raft of aggressive sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, the super yacht he is believed to own has found safe harbor in a highly militarized port in Russian territorial waters.
Satellite imagery obtained by CBS News shows the yacht docked at a port in Kaliningrad, near Russia's nuclear weapons operations.
Experts say Putin's luxury vessel has become a symbol not only of his vast hidden wealth, but also of how challenging that money has been to find.
"He's a KGB agent, so he's crafty. He knows how to hide when he needs to," said John Smith, former director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces all foreign sanctions.
Data from MarineTraffic, a global intelligence group, shows Putin's alleged yacht, the Graceful, left Germany two weeks before the invasion of Ukraine.
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- Catherine Herridge, Michael Kaplan, Andrew Bast, Jessica Kegu
Direct talks resume between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Belarus
An advisor to Ukraine's president confirmed on Thursday that he and several other aides were back in Belarus, "talking to Russian representatives" in a second round of direct talks.
"The key issues on the agenda," Ukraine presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said in a Twitter post, were an "immediate ceasefire," a longer-term armistice, and the opening of "humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from destroyed or constantly shelled villages/cities."
He posted the message on Twitter with a photo showing himself along with Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and Ukrainian lawmaker David Arakhamia making up the Ukrainian delegation sat opposite Russian officials.
A first round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials earlier this week brought no results, but they agreed to meet again. Russia has not specified its demands in the negotiations, but Putin's regime has thus far indicated no willingness to back down from its stated goal of "the demilitarization and denazification" of its neighbor.
Many take that to mean that Putin's assault on Ukraine will not stop until he's toppled President Volodymyr Zelensky's Western-backed government.
U.K. says 5 cities in eastern Ukraine now surrounded by Russian forces
The British Ministry of Defense released a map on Thursday showing its latest "Defence intelligence update" on the positions and directions of advance of Russia's invading forces in Ukraine.
The map showed five cities in the east of the country, from Chernihiv, Konotop and Sumy in the north, down to the country's battered second city of Kharkiv and then on to the southern port of Mariupol, labeled as "assessed encirclement" by Russian forces.
The British intelligence did not reflect the reported seizure by Russian forces of Kherson, in the south of Ukraine, despite reports from both Russian defence officials and regional Ukrainian leaders suggesting it had been taken.
The map also indicated little change in the position of Russia's large column of troops that has been stalled about 20-30 miles north of capital Kyiv for several days.
Biden administration asks Congress for $10 billion in new assistance for Ukraine
The Biden administration is asking Congress to add at least $10 billion in new spending for humanitarian assistance and military operations related to Ukraine — a sharp uptick in requested spending from just a few days ago. Two people familiar with the request confirmed the figures to CBS News. The new spending is part of a broader ask that includes a $22.5 billion request for spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic and work to prepare for future pandemics.
Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, made the formal request for supplemental funding for "critical assistance" to Ukraine and the response to COVID-19 in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent late Wednesday.
Of the $10 billion the Biden administration is seeking in assistance for Ukraine, $4.8 billion would go to the Defense Department to support U.S. troop deployments to neighboring countries in support of NATO efforts and provide more military equipment to Ukraine.
The request also includes $5 billion for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to boost security and economic assistance to Ukraine and regional allies, of which $2.75 billion would provide humanitarian assistance.
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- Ed O'Keefe, Melissa Quinn
Mother who fled Donbas in 2014 travels over 600 miles to shelter kids from another Russian invasion
More than 1 million Ukrainians have fled their homes to seek shelter in other countries from Russia's punishing airstrikes and ground invasion. Tens of thousands more have been displaced but remain inside Ukraine, including one mother and her three children who finally reached safety in the city of Lviv — more than 600 miles west of their home.
Kateryna Stoyanova traveled to Lviv from Zaporizhzhia, where she said the Russian army was fast approaching. When they got "really close," she said, they got on a train and left.
"The air raid sirens were permanently on and people were told to go to shelters," she told Reuters. "For a few days me and my kids kept on going down to the shelters — I do not know how many times."
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Crew dead and missing after 2 international cargo ships hit by blasts off Ukraine's southern coast
An Estonian-owned cargo ship sank Thursday off the southern Ukrainian port of Odesa after an explosion, the vessel's manager told the Reuters news agency. It happened as Bangladeshi officials said one of that country's cargo ships was hit by a missile in the same region, killing a crew member.
Two crew members from the Estonian vessel "Helt" managed to escape the sinking ship and get into a life raft, but four others were unaccounted for, Igor Ilves, managing director of the Vista Shipping Agency, told Reuters.
"The vessel has finally sunk," he said, adding that it might have struck a sea mine. It was not clear if Russian or Ukrainian forces were responsible for the explosions that hit the two ships.
Bangladeshi officials told Reuters earlier on Thursday that a missile had hit the Banglar Samriddhi, a cargo ship sailing under the nation's flag, while docked at the Ukrainian port of Olvia. Olvia is an inland industrial port between the coastal city of Kherson, which Russia says it has seized from Ukraine, and Odesa to the west, which is coming under heavy attack by Russian artillery.
Bangladesh's junior minister for shipping, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, told Reuters that 29 crew were aboard the vessel, which has been stuck at Olvia since Russia launched its invasion a week ago. He told Reuters the ship was carrying cement products bound for Italy.
An engineer onboard was hit in the attack late on Wednesday and died, Chowdhury said, but the other 28 members were safe.
Ikea suspends Russia, Belarus operations, affecting 15,000 staff
Swedish furniture giant Ikea said Thursday it would suspend its activities in Russia and Belarus, affecting nearly 15,000 employees, 17 stores and three production sites, in response to the war in Ukraine.
"The war has had a huge human impact already. It is also resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions. For all of these reasons, Ikea has decided to temporarily pause operations in Russia," the company said in a statement to AFP.
Russian forces continue tightening noose around major Ukrainian cities in south
Despite mounting unconfirmed reports of desertions and troops being taken captive by Ukrainians across the country, Russia's invading forces continue closing in on Ukrainian cities, with reported successes in strategic southern towns in particular.
CBS News foreign correspondent Chris Livesay reported on Thursday that at least one Ukrainian official said the major Black Sea port city of Mariupol was surrounded. Britain also said the key port was encircled by Russian forces.
Russia claims to have captured the city of Kherson, meanwhile, and after U.S. and Ukrainian officials denied the city had fallen completely into Russian hands on Wednesday, its governor said Thursday that Putin's troops had taken control of the regional administrative building. If Kherson is confirmed to be under Russian control, it will be the first major city to fall since Russia launched its invasion and intense aerial bombardment a week ago.
Video appears to show Holocaust survivors cursing Putin from a bomb shelter in Kyiv
A video shared widely on social media Thursday shows elderly Ukrainian Jews who identify themselves as Holocaust survivors making impassioned pleas for peace from a bomb shelter in Kyiv. Recalling their experiences in Ukraine's capital during the Second World War, they demand that Russian President Vladimir Putin remove his forces from Ukraine and stop his artillery barrage on the country, repeating in unison "we want peace!"
CBS News cannot independently verify the video, which had been seen almost 1 million times after being tweeted by retired U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, former director for European affairs for the U.S. National Security Council.
"Holocaust survivors in a bomb-shelter in Ukraine, cursing Putin and asking for peace," Vindman labelled the clip.
One of the elderly women in the video identifies herself as Lukash Tamara Oleksiivna. She says she was born in 1939 and lived in Kyiv before World War II started. She describes the current bombardment of the city as "a horror."
"Putin, I wish for you to die. Leave us you b*****d," she says to the person recording the video, before everyone in the shelter chants, "we want peace!"
- Madeleine Richards
Kyiv mayor says situation "difficult but under control," huge blasts were Ukraine downing Russian missiles
The Mayor of Kyiv, former pro boxer Vitali Klitschko, said Thursday that the situation in the Ukrainian capital was "difficult but under control," adding that there were no new casualties reported overnight and that huge explosions seen overnight were Ukrainian air defenses striking down Russian missiles.
CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata had just finished doing a live shot in Kyiv late Wednesday night when the sky behind him lit up. Less than a minute later there was a large blast and another flash of light.
CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay said the overnight shelling did damage part of Kyiv's main train station, and a residential apartment building on the outskirts of the city was also destroyed. Many of Kyiv's residents, along with those in many other large Ukrainian cities, have spent recent nights huddled into in bomb shelters, basements and underground metro stations to escape the artillery barrage.
China denies telling Russia to delay Ukraine invasion until after Olympics
China on Thursday denounced a report that it asked Russia to delay invading Ukraine until after the Beijing Winter Olympics as "fake news" and a "very despicable" attempt to divert attention and shift blame over the conflict. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also repeated China's accusations that Washington provoked the war by not ruling out NATO membership for Ukraine.
"We hope the culprit of the crisis would reflect on their role in the Ukraine crisis, take up their responsibilities, and take practical actions to ease the situation and solve the problem instead of blaming others," Wang told reporters at a daily briefing. "The New York Times report is purely fake news, and such behaviors of diverting attentions and shifting blames are very despicable."
The Times article cited a "Western intelligence report" considered credible by officials.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Feb. 4, hours before the Games' opening ceremony. Following that, the sides issued a joint statement in which they declared "friendship between the two states has no limits, there are no 'forbidden' areas of cooperation."
China is the only major government that hasn't criticized Moscow's attack on Ukraine and has also ruled out joining the United States and European governments in imposing financial sanctions on Russia, instead endorsing the Russian argument that Moscow's security was threatened by NATO's eastern expansion.
China abstained in Wednesday's U.N. General Assembly emergency session vote to demand an immediate halt to Moscow's attack on Ukraine and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.
Top Russian diplomat says it's the West fixated on "nuclear war," not Moscow
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday accused Western politicians of fixating on nuclear war, one week after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine and days after President Vladimir Putin — in a televised meeting with his top defense officials — said he was putting his own nuclear forces on high alert.
"It is clear that World War Three can only be nuclear," Lavrov said in an online interview with Russian and foreign media. "I would like to point out that it's in the heads of Western politicians that the idea of a nuclear war is spinning constantly, and not in the heads of Russians."
"I assure you that we will not allow any provocations to throw us off balance," Lavrov added.
Putin ordered Russia's nuclear forces onto high alert Sunday, accusing the West of taking "unfriendly" steps against his country.
Moscow has the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles which form the backbone of the country's deterrence forces.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the U.S. military had decided to postpone a test launch of the nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile that was scheduled for this week, in an effort to de-escalate tensions with Russia.
Japan, long criticized for unwelcoming stance, says it will take in some of those fleeing Ukraine
Long criticized for being unfriendly to refugees, Japan has said it's moving to rapidly accept some of the 1 million people who have fled Ukraine. At least initially, priority will be given to friends or relatives of the nearly 2,000 Ukrainians already on resident visas here.
While Japan allowed in fewer than 50 of the nearly 4,000 people who sought asylum in 2020, there is precedent for large-scale humanitarian resettling: After the Vietnam War, Japan took in thousands of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
"This is an emergency. Japan will accept people who need protection," Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa said during a parliamentary session this week, according to the Japan Times. "We will accept the relatives of Japanese nationals as much as possible."
France seizes superyacht linked to Russian oligarch
The French government on Thursday said it had seized a luxury superyacht belonging to a company linked to Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian energy giant Rosneft and a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin.
The vessel, Amore Vero, was seized in the French harbor of La Ciotat on the Cote d'Azur as part of European Union sanctions against Russia and is owned by a company in which Sechin is the main shareholder, the French finance ministry said.
Huge Russian convoy still bogged down on way to Kyiv, British officials say
Britain's Ministry of Defense says that a Russian military column heading for Kyiv has made "little discernible progress" over the past three days and remains over 19 miles from the center of the city.
The column has been delayed by Ukrainian resistance and mechanical breakdowns and congestion, the ministry said in its daily intelligence briefing Thursday.
Despite heavy Russian shelling, the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol remain in Ukrainian hands, the department said. Some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson, but the military situation there remains unclear, it added.
Russian liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy shuts down
The Ekho Moskvy radio station -- a symbol of new-found media freedom in post-Soviet Russia -- said Thursday it would shut down after being taken off the air over its coverage of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
"By a majority vote of the Ekho Moskvy board of directors, it was decided to liquidate the Ekho Moskvy radio station and website," its editor-in-chief, Alexei Venediktov, said on Telegram.
Russia on Monday blocked the Ekho website and took the station off the air for what it said was the spreading of "deliberately false information" about the war in Ukraine.
Venediktov said Russia's media regulator requested that Google delete Ekho Moskvy's app from its store.
The past year has seen an unprecedented crackdown on independent and critical voices in Russia that only intensified after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian media have been instructed to only publish information provided by official sources, which describe the invasion as a military operation.
At the same time, the government is preparing to tighten its repressive legal arsenal.
On Friday, lawmakers will consider a bill providing for up to 15 years in prison for any publication of "fake news" concerning the Russian armed forces.
Ekho Mosvky -- which is majority-owned by Russia's energy giant Gazprom -- was founded in 1990 during the final days of the Soviet Union.
It had established itself as one of the country's leading liberal media outlets.
Russian athletes out of Paralympics in stunning, rapid reversal
In a stunning about-face, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games for their countries' roles in the war in Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee said Thursday in Beijing.
The about-face comes less than 24 hours after the IPC on Wednesday announced it would allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete when the Games open on Friday, but only as neutral athletes with colors, flags and other national symbols removed.
The IPC received immediate criticism for its initial decision. It was termed a betrayal that sent the wrong message to Russia's leadership. The IPC also said it was evident that many athletes would refuse to compete against Russians or Belarusians, creating chaos for the Paralympics and damaging their reputation.
IPC President Andrew Parsons, in announcing the initial measures Wednesday in a Beijing news conference, sympathized openly with the Ukrainian people but said his actions were constrained by his organization's rules and the fear of legal action.
Parsons said almost the opposite in announcing his reversal, noting his constituents had pushed back.
"In the last 12 hours, an overwhelming number of members have been in touch with us," Parsons said in a statement. "They have told us that if we do not reconsider our decision, it is now likely to have grave consequences."
Parsons added: "What is clear is that the rapidly escalating situation has now put us in a unique and impossible position so close to the start of the Games."
The IPC now joins sports like soccer, track, basketball, hockey, and others that have imposed blanket bans on Russians and Belarussians.
Grim numbers keep growing as war hits one week mark
More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia's invasion, making it the swiftest refugee exodus this century, the United Nations said Thursday. That amounts to more than 2% of Ukraine's population being forced out of the country in the war's first week.
Russia reported its military casualties for the first time in the war Wednesday, saying nearly 500 of its troops had been killed and almost 1,600 wounded.
That stood in stark contrast to Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky claiming Wednesday night that roughly 9,000 Russian troops had lost their lives.
Ukraine didn't disclose its own military losses but said more than 2,000 civilians have died, a claim that couldn't be independently verified. A government official said there were at least 21 children among the dead.
But the U.N. human rights office said late Wednesday that 227 civilians have been killed and another 525 injured.
The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says the tally eclipses the entire civilian casualty count from the war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces in 2014, which left 136 dead and 577 injured.
The rights office admits that the figures so far are a vast undercount. It uses a strict methodology and counts only confirmed casualties.
The rights office said in a statement late Wednesday that "real figures are considerably higher, especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days, as the receipt of information from some locations where intensive hostilities have been going on was delayed and many reports were still pending corroboration."
Most of the casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and airstrikes, the rights office said.
U.S. State Department says Russia "engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth"
The U.S. State Department on Wednesday said Russia's "efforts to mislead and suppress the truth of the brutal invasion are intensifying."
"At home, the Kremlin is engaged in a full assault on media freedom and the truth," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. Price accused the Kremlin of throttling multiple social media platforms within Russia and said the country's communications authority is blocking the websites and broadcasts of certain independent outlets, such as Radio Ekho Moskvy and Dozhd TV.
Price added that Russian parliament on Friday will consider a bill that would make the publication of "unofficial" reporting on the invasion punishable with 15 years in prison.
"The people of Russia did not choose this war. Putin did," Price said. "They have a right to know about the death, suffering and destruction being inflicted by their government on the people of Ukraine."
Ukrainian women describe giving birth in the middle of Russian invasion
For many women in Ukraine, the deadly Russian invasion came as they were preparing to bring new life into the world. Now, they're giving birth in a war zone.
"We are living in real hell," Alena Shinkar, a pregnant woman in Kyiv, told Reuters on Wednesday. She is staying in the cellar of a maternity hospital, along with many other expecting and new parents.
"I heard the explosion and women scream. The war started. And I could not believe. I thought it was some nightmare," she said. "But it is what it is. This is how we are living."
Number of refugees fleeing Ukraine has reached 1 million, U.N. says
One million refugees have fled Ukraine and entered neighboring countries since Russia's invasion began just one week ago, according to the U.N.'s refugee agency.
The World Bank estimated Ukraine's population to be 44 million in 2020, according to The Associated Press.
Large explosion seen in Kyiv
A massive explosion was seen in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv Wednesday night. A CBS News crew caught footage of the blast moments after correspondent Charlie D'Agata had finished a live report.
Ukrainians stand firm against Russian invasion
U.S. delivers 200 Stinger missiles to Ukraine
The U.S. has delivered 200 Stinger missiles to Ukraine, with hundreds more still to be sent, an official confirmed to CBS News' David Martin.
ICC prosecutor to investigate possible war crimes
The International Criminal Court's prosecutor opened an investigation Wednesday into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Ukraine dating back to 2013, but also covering the conflict sparked by Russia's invasion.
Prosecutor Karim Khan said he launched the probe after 39 of the court's member states requested an investigation, a process known as a referral.
"These referrals enable my Office to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards, thereby encompassing within its scope any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person," Khan said in a statement.
"Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced," he added.
Department of Defense postpones ICBM test-launch in effort to de-escalate
In an effort to de-escalate tensions with Russia, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has decided to postpone a test launch of the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile that was scheduled for this week.
The decision comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Sunday he was putting nuclear forces on higher alert, a move the Pentagon has called unnecessary and escalatory.
The Pentagon has not made any similar moves and remains confident with its current deterrent posture.
"It is a wise and prudent decision by the secretary to send a strong clear unambiguous message to Mr. Putin how seriously we take our nuclear responsibilities at a particularly tense time," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said at a Wednesday press briefing.
Powerful explosion in Kyiv near rail station
Ukrainian officials reported a powerful explosion in Kyiv between a central railway station and the Ibis hotel, an area near Ukraine's Defense Ministry.
The Ukrainian Railway Service said that thousands of women and children were being evacuated from the station at the time of the strike. The station building suffered minor damage, and train traffic continued. Officials said it was not immediately clear whether there were any casualties.
"Russian terrorists launched an air strike on the South Railway Station in Kyiv, where thousands of Ukrainian women and children are being evacuated," the national railway company said.
The station is one of two that make up the main passenger rail complex. The two stations are connected by an overhead corridor that crosses over about a dozen tracks.
The stations are about 2 miles from Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the square that was the site of huge protests in 2014 and 2004.
WHO chief concerned by reports of attacks on medical facilities
The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday the agency is concerned by reports of attacks on medical facilities and health care workers.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said during a briefing the agency was able to confirm one incident in which a hospital "came under heavy weapons attack" last week, killing four people and injuring 10 others, including six health care workers.
"We're currently in the process of verifying several other incidents," Tedros said.
Before the war, Ukraine reported a surge of COVID-19 cases, and the recent low rates of testing since Russia's invasion means "significant undetected transmission" is likely, he said. On Sunday, WHO warned of a dangerously low medical oxygen supply in Ukraine, which Tedros said will have a critical impact on treating patients with severe COVID symptoms and other conditions.
"At least three major oxygen plants in Ukraine have now closed and we're seeking ways of accessing oxygen from neighboring countries and ways to deliver it safely to where it's needed," he said.
The organization said it still needs $45 million to help those impacted in Ukraine and another $12.5 million to support neighboring countries providing care for refugees. WHO is asking for donations to help provide emergency and trauma care, COVID-19 care and support for health facilities.
WHO sending medical aid to Poland to help thousands
The World Health Organization said it sent a medical aid shipment to Poland. The 36 metric ton delivery, which includes trauma care tools and other "essential medical supplies," is set to arrive Thursday and will meet the needs of around 1,000 patients and 150,000 people, the organization said.
"The sanctity and neutrality of health care including of health workers, patients, supplies, transport and facilities and the right to safe access of care must be respected and protected," WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at a COVID-19 media briefing.
He said WHO distributed emergency supplies to 23 hospitals before the war but that they are now inaccessible in Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv. He called for the urgent establishment of a humanitarian corridor to ensure workers and supplies "have safe and continuous access to reach people in need."
Exxon exits $4 billion Russia deal over Ukraine attack
ExxonMobil is closing its operations in Russia, joining fellow energy giants BP, Equinor and Shell in pulling back from the world's third-largest oil producer after its invasion of Ukraine.
Exxon late Wednesday announced it was exiting the Sakhalin-1 project, an oil and gas operation on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East that the company operates on behalf of an international consortium. Exxon is also dropping new investments in Russia, the company said.
Americans should brace for $5 a gallon gas, analyst warns
Americans can expect increasing pain at the pump as rising oil costs continue to push up prices at gas stations across the U.S. That spike is unlikely to ease anytime soon as Russia's war with Ukraine intensifies, experts say.
The current national average price of gas is $3.61 a gallon, up 26 cents from February and roughly a dollar from a year ago, according to data from AAA. In U.S. states with the priciest fuel, motorists already are paying nearly $4.50 a gallon, according price tracker GasBuddy.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, tweeted on Monday that the average gas price in some U.S. cities will reach $5 a gallon "in the next couple of weeks."
Want to help people in Ukraine? Here are ways to donate
Americans eager to help the people of Ukraine as Russia's military pounds the Eastern European country can donate to a range of organizations already offering support.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Ukraine for neighboring countries, while European Union officials predict that as many as 7 million could eventually be displaced. Here is a list of some of the charities and other groups that are soliciting donations to help Ukrainians.
Kamala Harris on Ukraine-Russia conflict
Vice President Kamala Harris said there is "so much at stake" when it comes to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, telling "CBS Mornings" Wednesday that images coming out of Ukraine are "heart-wrenching." While the Biden administration has ruled out sending U.S. troops to Ukraine, Harris said they will continue to stand in unity, offering financial support and military assistance.
"I will tell you, the president is clear, we are clear, we are not going to put U.S. troops in Ukraine to fight the Russians, not on the ground and not in the air. But we are going to continue working with our allies, to one, defend every inch of territory as it relates to NATO territory, but also what we will continue to do with the billions of dollars of humanitarian security and military assistance that we have been providing Ukraine."
John Kelly "not really" surprised by slow pace of Russian advance
John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff and retired four-star Marine Corps general, said he is "not really" surprised at the slow pace of the Russian advance on Kyiv, saying the Russians "have never been known for their logistics."
"The Russian military has a lot of strengths, but they also have a great many weaknesses. It doesn't surprise me they're going so slow," Kelly told CBS News. "What surprises me is that they're seemingly unfocused on what they're attempting to do."
Kelly, who oversaw U.S. Southern Command from 2012 to 2016 before serving in the Trump administration, said the Russians' struggles to maintain supply lines have hampered their efforts to quickly take the Ukrainian capital.
"One of the things that most people have no appreciation for is the amount of logistics that it takes to move, or to execute these operations. Tens of thousands, millions of gallons of fuel a day to move tanks and armored personnel carriers and all the rest of it," he said.
"One of the sayings in the U.S. military is, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics," he continued. "At the end of the day, the people who win the fight, give them all the credit in the world, tend to be the logisticians."
Kelly said he believes the Russians "have bitten off a little bit more than they expected to, and they're paying the price."
U.N. General Assembly vote sends clear message to Russia: The world is against the war in Ukraine
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly during an extraordinary Emergency Session on Wednesday to pass a Resolution condemning Russia's military action against Ukraine. The resolution, which passed with 141 votes in favor, 35 abstentions and just five votes against, demands that Russia "immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine."
"The truth is that this war was one man's choice and one man alone: President Putin. It was his choice to force hundreds of thousands of people to stuff their lives into backpacks and flee the country. To send newborn babies into makeshift bomb shelters. To make children with cancer huddle in hospital basements, interrupting their treatment, essentially sentencing them to death. Those were President Putin's choices. Now it's time for us to make ours," U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said before the vote.
After the votes were tallied, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told diplomats the General Assembly's message "is loud and clear: End hostilities in Ukraine — now. Silence the guns — now. Open the door to dialogue and diplomacy — now… The territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine must be respected in line with the UN Charter."
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the vote, saying those who backed the Resolution had "chosen the right side of history."
- Pamela Falk, Tucker Reals
Former top Pentagon official weighs in on Putin's choices in Ukraine
On "Intelligence Matters," host Michael Morell spoke with Mike Vickers, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence and a former Special Forces officer and CIA operations officer. Vickers and Morell discussed whether and how Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine may have been a gross strategic miscalculation, how and when the West might have deterred his moves, and what future scenarios for the conflict exist.
Vladimir Putin has been banished… from a wax museum in Paris
A museum in France has done what many Ukrainians would love to do — it has removed Russian President Vladimir Putin from public life. The Grévin Museum of waxworks in Paris decided to put its wax figure of Putin in storage because of current events — and after it was damaged by visitors over the weekend.
"It is the first time at the Grévin Museum that we have removed a personality so rapidly like this, because of current, historic events," explained the museum's General Director Yves Delhommeau, as he separated Putin's head from his body and locked it away in its own case.
"The staff don't want to walk past him every day," added Delhommeau.
Several world leaders are represented at the museum, but Delhommeau said it never shows figures of "dictators like Hitler," adding: "We don't want to represent Putin today."
The Putin figure had stood between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Asked who might replace him in the exhibit, Delhommeau said it could be Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"He has become a hero for having resisted and for not fleeing his country," the museum director said. "He could perfectly well take his place among the great men of history."
Ukraine official says 21 children killed and 55 wounded since Russian invasion began
Ukrainian government ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said on Wednesday that Russia's invasion and bombardment of her country had killed 21 children and left 55 more wounded a week after it began.
Among those casualties were three boys — all born in 2006 — who were injured by shelling from Russian missiles as they played outdoors in the southeastern city of Mariupol on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. One of the boys, who lost both legs, died soon after arriving at a hospital. The other two were rushed into intensive care. Their family members told the AP that the boys had been near their school playing soccer when the shelling hit.
Russia's national emergency response service said earlier on Wednesday that more than 2,000 civilians had been killed in all since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
U.S. notes videos of banned "vacuum bombs," says Russia "preparing to increase" brutality of Ukraine attack
"It appears Russia is preparing to increase the brutality of its campaign against Ukraine," U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Wednesday, addressing an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly.
"We have seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield. That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs – which are banned under the Geneva Convention," she said.
Ukraine's ambassador to the United States accused Russia this week of using cluster and vacuum bombs in its attack on her country. Both types of weapons are widely condemned by international organizations, and a number of countries — though not Russia or the U.S. — have signed a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. Thermobaric or vacuum munitions are prohibited by the Geneva Convention, of which Russia is a signatory.
Cluster bombs explode and release smaller bombs or bomblets that can wreak havoc when used in civilian areas. Vacuum bombs suck in oxygen to create a high-temperature explosion with a larger shockwave than traditional bombs and are capable of vaporizing human bodies.
"They used a vacuum bomb today," Ambassador Oksana Markarova said Monday. Videos posted online show a purported detonation of one of the weapons, but U.S. officials have not confirmed their use in Ukraine yet and CBS News cannot independently verify the claims.
- Pamela Falk, Tucker Reals, Haley Ott
Blinken visits Ukrainian church, says Putin made "horrific, terrible mistake"
Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited a Ukrainian church in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning, where he met with church leaders and reiterated the U.S. commitment to Ukraine.
Joined by Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Blinken said Putin "made a horrific, terrible mistake in committing this aggression."
"What we're seeing is the Ukrainian people insisting on their freedom, insisting on their independence, insisting on their right to go forward as a sovereign, independent country," he said at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family. "And that's inspiring the world."
Blinken also spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday and reiterated "the United States' commitment to providing security, financial, and humanitarian support as Ukraine faces increasingly brutal bombardment by Russian forces," according to the State Department.
Kuleba said on Twitter that the two had a "productive call" and discussed "further sanctions on Russia until it stops its war against Ukraine and withdraws its forces." He said he had emphasized that Ukraine "needs additional deliveries of weapons, especially for our Air Force, now."
Biden on banning Russian oil: "Nothing is off the table"
President Biden didn't rule out eventually banning the import of Russian oil and gas on Wednesday, a step the West has been hesitant to take.
"Nothing is off the table," Mr. Biden said at the White House.
The U.S. and European allies have so far declined to target the Russian energy sector in sanctions targeting Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Banning Russian oil and gas would cut off a key revenue source for Putin, but would also roil worldwide energy markets and drive the price of oil even higher. The U.S. and 30 other countries have released 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves to help alleviate supply shortages, as oil prices have climbed to their highest level since 2014.
Appearing on MSNBC earlier, White House press secretary Jen Psaki the U.S. is "very open" to sanctioning Russian energy.
"We're considering it. It's very much on the table, but we need to weigh what all of the impacts will be," she said. "We're not trying to hurt ourselves. We're trying to hurt President Putin and the Russian economy."
Ukrainian leaders have urged the West to cut off Russian energy, despite the economic impacts. Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's presidential office, called for a "full embargo on Russian oil and all Russian exports" to the U.S. and Europe in an essay in the New York Times on Wednesday.
"These measures would not be without cost to the world economy, but the alternative is far worse," Yermak wrote.
Ukraine leader points to Russian shelling of Holocaust memorial, calls on Jews to speak out
A Russian missile strike on Tuesday hit the Babyn Yar memorial to tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews massacred during the Holocaust in Kyiv, drawing a special plea for support from Ukraine's Jewish president.
"I am now addressing all the Jews of the world – don't you see what is happening? That is why it is very important that millions of Jews around the world do not remain silent right now," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message. "Nazism is born in silence. So shout about the killings of civilians. Shout about the killings of Ukrainians."
Zelensky said Russia's invasion of his country had brought Ukrainians together.
"During this time, we have truly become one. We forgave each other a lot. We started loving each other. We help each other. We are worried for each other. Yesterday morning on Freedom Square, we were all Kharkiv residents. Then the enemy destroyed us all by striking at residential buildings in Borodyanka. We were all bombed in Kyiv last night. And we all died again in Babyn Yar — from a missile strike. Although the whole world promises constantly – 'never again.'"
Russian oligarchs moving their super yachts as the U.S. comes after their assets
Yachts owned by Russian billionaires are on the move as the U.S. and its allies seek to hunt down the assets of Russia's wealthiest people in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Data from MarineTraffic, a global intelligence group, shows yachts owned by Russian oligarchs are on the move, including aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska's $65 million Clio and oil executive Vagit Alekperov's $80 million Galactica Super Nova.
"No self-respecting oligarchy exists without a super yacht. And so what we're seeing now is a hightailing it on the high seas," financier and anti-corruption activist Bill Browder told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge.
In response to Putin's war against Ukraine, the Biden administration created a task force to go after Russian oligarchs' wealth. Browder said the goal is to get the oligarchs to pressure Putin to stop the war.
"We're not ready to engage in military warfare. And so there's an expression: We should fight them in the banks if we can't fight them with tanks,'" he said.
Watch Herridge's report below:
Value of Russia's ruble falls further to less than 0.9 cents
Russia's central bank said stock trading on the Moscow exchange would remain closed Wednesday for a third day, though trading of currencies and precious metals would resume for the first time this week.
The value of Russia's ruble fell further to less than 0.9 U.S. cents despite its central bank's decision Monday to raise interest rates to defend the currency.
An unprecedented litany of sanctions from the U.S., Europe and other nations around the world has severely limited Russian exports and access to international transfer systems, while global businesses continue to disavow themselves of any ties to Moscow.
On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department banned transactions with Russia's Central Bank, its National Wealth Fund and the Russia Ministry of Finance, sparking the fall of the ruble's value.
U.N. says almost 700,000 people have fled across Ukraine's borders
People from across Ukraine continue trying to flee across the country's borders to escape Russia's violent invasion, creating a massive humanitarian crisis throughout the region that is growing by the day. The United Nations says almost 700,000 people have fled to neighboring countries. People are waiting up to five days at some chaotic border crossings.
CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini has been meeting some of the newest refugees as they make their way into Poland — some of them arriving after journeys of up to 60 hours, much of it done on foot.
"In Ukraine, it is like hell, so we are running," said one woman.
Ruffini met a pair of siblings who had walked alone overnight to get to the town of Medyka in Poland after their father dropped them off as close as he could get — 11 miles from the border.
Click on the player below to see Ruffini's full report from Poland.
U.S. closing airspace to Russian planes
The U.S. is banning Russian aircraft from entering U.S. airspace in retaliation for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, joining European nations in cutting off Russian access to the skies. President Biden vowed to close U.S. skies to all Russian planes in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
"Tonight I am announcing that we will join our allies in closing off American airspace to all Russian flights, further isolating Russia and adding an additional squeeze on their economy," Mr. Biden said. He took aim at Russian oligarchs, warning that the U.S. is "joining with European allies to find and seize their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets."
The Transportation Department said the ban applies to "all Russian commercial air carriers and other Russian civil aircraft." The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an official notice saying the closure will go into effect at 9 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. Exceptions will be made for humanitarian and diplomatic flights given explicit FAA authorization, as well as aircraft "experiencing in-flight emergencies," according to the FAA's notice.
The European Union announced on Sunday that Russian planes would not be allowed over its 27 member nations. One flight en route to New York was forced to return to Moscow after Iceland denied it access to its airspace over the North Atlantic.
The U.S. and its Western allies have imposed punishing sanctions taking aim at the Russian economy and President Vladimir Putin since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine last week. On Monday, the Treasury Department banned transactions with Russia's Central Bank, its National Wealth Fund and the Russia Ministry of Finance. The Russian ruble plummeted in value as a result.
Ukrainian ambassador gets a standing ovation in Britain's parliament
Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, received a rare standing ovation from British lawmakers in the House of Commons on Wednesday as he sat in the chamber for the weekly "Prime Minister's Questions."
Parliamentarians applauded him as he watched from the public gallery of the House of Commons.
"We generally do not allow applause in this chamber," noted Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle, "but on this occasion the House quite rightly wants to demonstrate our respect and support for your country and its people in the most difficult of times."
Russian shelling of Ukraine's 2nd largest city continues, reportedly killing 4 more
Russia continued its brutal assault on Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, on Wednesday, striking the police and intelligence headquarters, according to the Ukrainian state emergency services. Ukrainian officials also reported Russian paratroopers landing in Kharkiv, but there was no immediate confirmation of that.
The city's mayor said strikes were also hitting residential areas.
Photos and video shared by the emergency services showed fragments of the intelligence building strewn across the ground as firefighters worked to put out flames still shooting from its windows.
At least four people were killed and nine others injured during Wednesday's shelling, the emergency services said.
"There are practically no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not hit," Ukrainian Interior Minister official Anton Gerashchenko said.
India tells citizens to flee Russian onslaught in Kharkiv "immediately," citing "inputs" from Russia
The Indian Embassy in Ukraine issued an urgent advisory Wednesday telling all Indian nationals in the eastern city of Kharkiv to "leave immediately repeat immediately" and get to the outlying towns of Pesochin, Babaye, or Bezlyudovka. They were told to reach one of those locations "under all circumstances" by 6 p.m. local time, on foot if necessary. The nearest of the locations is seven miles from Kharkiv, and as it was already after 1 p.m. in Ukraine when the alert was posted online.
"Urgent advisory to all Indian nationals in Kharkiv. For their safety and security they must leave Kharkiv immediately repeat immediately in light of the deteriorating situation. Proceed to Pesochin, Babaye and Bezlyudovka as soon as possible. Under all circumstances they must reach these settlements by 1800 HRS (Ukrainian time) today," read a tweet from the embassy.
The evacuation order "is based on inputs from the Russian side," Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of India's External Affairs Ministry, said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
The dramatic warning came as Russian shells continued to hit Ukraine's second largest city for a third day, and a day after an Indian medical student was killed there. Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, 21, from South Indian state of Karnataka, had been studying medicine at Kharkiv National Medical University.
India has already evacuated 12,000 of its students from Ukraine since Russia's invasion began last Thursday. Hundreds have walked miles to cross the borders into Romania and Hungary, from where they were brought home on special evacuation flights arranged by the Indian government.
But thousands of Indians, mostly students, still remain in the country and have been desperately seeking help.
Kyiv bolsters defenses and braces for an expected Russian assault
Air raid sirens rang out in Kyiv again on Wednesday as the city braced for more Russian strikes. Large commercial avenues that had been bustling only days earlier were deserted.
Defenses have been put up around the city, including sand bags in building windows and metal road blocks. The city is peppered with checkpoints manned by defense forces, including many recently-armed civilian volunteers. Barbed wire has been laid across some streets.
In Kyiv's main Maidan Square, security forces were positioned alongside anti-tank defenses.
A 40-mile-long Russian convoy heading towards Kyiv from the north appeared to be paused, but another convoy was spotted approaching the city from the east. A U.S. official told CBS News on Tuesday that a full-scale siege on the capital may just be a matter of time, with American intelligence predicting Russian forces could surround Kyiv in a week and take it over within 30 days after that.
- Haley Ott, Charlie D'Agata, Justine Redman
Kremlin says Russia "ready to continue talks" with Ukraine
The Kremlin said Wednesday that a Russian delegation was ready to continue peace talks with Ukraine as Moscow's invasion of the pro-Western country entered its seventh day.
"Our delegation will be ready to continue talks," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow's delegation expected the talks to resume Wednesday evening. He said that President Vladimir Putin's aide Vladimir Medinsky remained Russia's top negotiator on Ukraine but did not say where the next round of talks would take place.
Russia's TASS news agency later quoted an official from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's office as saying the talks would resume Wednesday in Belovezhskaya Puscha, in Belarus.
A first round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations took place on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, but brought no results.
Putin said last Thursday that he had ordered troops to invade pro-Western Ukraine to "de-militarize" and "denazify" the country, after months insisting that there were no plans to invade despite a huge military buildup around Ukraine's borders.
Dozens of Japanese men reportedly volunteer to join Ukraine's battle against Russian invasion
The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, a major Japanese daily, has reported that "about 70" Japanese men have volunteered to fight in Ukraine, most with experience in the Japan Self-Defense Forces — a highly unusual move for this self-declared pacifist country.
Japanese officials have repeatedly tried to dissuade people from the country from traveling to the war zone for any reason, and it was unclear if some of the volunteers might end up working remotely from Japan, for instance, in the IT field. The Ukrainian Embassy in Japan announced that it had raised $17 million from 60,000 supporters in the country to help with efforts to defend Ukraine from Russia's attack.
The embassy has been working with Japanese officials to decide what jobs to assign to volunteers from the country. In a post on Twitter, the Ukrainian Embassy said on Wednesday that it was seeking volunteers with medical, IT, communication and firefighting experience, but it wasn't clear if Ukrainian officials wanted any Japanese nationals to travel to Ukraine, or just help from afar.
U.N.'s International Court of Justice to hold hearings over "allegations of genocide" against Russia
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, said Wednesday that it would hold public hearings early next week "concerning Allegations of Genocide" by Ukraine against Russia.
The hearings, set for March 7 and 8, would be "devoted to the request for provisional measures submitted by Ukraine," the United Nations' court said.
The court's president, Judge Joan Donoghue, in a statement posted to the ICJ's Twitter page, called on Russia to "act in such a way as will enable any order the court may make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects."
U.K. says Russian advance still stalled by "logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance"
A new "Intelligence Update" posted online by Britain's defense ministry early on Wednesday said that while some Russian forces had "reportedly moved into the center" of Kherson, Russia's "overall gains across axes have been limited in the past 24 hours." It said the halting advance was probably due to "ongoing logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance."
Reports on Tuesday suggested that at least one Russian convoy, inching toward Kyiv from the east, had run out of fuel. BBC News reported Tuesday night that the Russian forces there had managed to gas back up, but they were still not advancing quickly on the capital.
Zelensky says Russia wants to "erase" Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia Wednesday of seeking to "erase" Ukrainians, their country and their history.
In a video address, the Ukrainian leader said a missile strike on a target at the site of a Holocaust massacre shows that "for many people in Russia, our Kyiv is completely foreign.
"They know nothing about our capital. About our history. But they have an order to erase our history. Erase our country. Erase us all," he said.
Biden devotes beginning of his State of the Union to war in Ukraine
President Biden used his first State of the Union address to highlight the resolve of a reinvigorated Western alliance that has worked to rearm the Ukrainian military and adopt tough sanctions, which he said have left Russian President Vladimir Putin "isolated in the world more than he has ever been."
"Throughout our history we've learned this lesson — when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos," Mr. Biden said. "They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising."
Biden devoted the first 12 minutes of his Tuesday evening address to Ukraine, with lawmakers of both parties repeatedly rising to their feet and applauding as he praised the bravery of Ukraine's people and condemned Putin's assault.
Concern rising over possible Russian strategy shift
Many military experts worry that Russia may be changing tactics. Moscow's strategy in Chechnya and Syria was to use artillery and air bombardments to pulverize cities and crush fighters' resolve.
Britain's Defense Ministry said it had seen an increase in Russian air and artillery strikes on populated urban areas over the past two days. It also said three cities - Kharkiv, Kherson and Mariupol - were encircled by Russian forces.
In Kharkiv, which has a population of about 1.5 million and is Ukraine's second largest city, at least six people were killed Tuesday when the region's administrative building on Freedom Square was hit with what was believed to be a missile. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said its consulate in Kharkiv, located in another large building on the square, was destroyed.
The attack on Freedom Square - the nucleus of public life in the city - was seen by many Ukrainians as brazen evidence that the Russian invasion wasn't just about hitting military targets but also about breaking their spirit.