The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s top intelligence official said Tuesday the U.S. believes Russia underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance before launching an invasion that has likely caused thousands of Russian casualties.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a congressional panel that U.S. officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin feels “aggrieved” by Russia’s failure to subdue Ukraine and that he perceives that he cannot afford to lose the war. But what Putin might consider a victory could change given the escalating costs of the conflict to Russia, Haines said.
Despite Putin’s announcement that he would raise Russia’s alert level for nuclear weapons, Haines said the U.S. has not observed unusual changes in Russia’s nuclear force posture.
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Haines said it is “unclear at this stage” whether Russia will try to conquer all of Ukraine, something that would require more resources than Putin has committed.
HELSINKI — Flights from the eastern Finnish town of Savonlinna near the Russian border to the capital, Helsinki, have been temporarily suspended due to disruptions in GPS signal in eastern parts of the Nordic country, preventing pilots from landing safely.
Finnish communications authority Traficom confirmed Tuesday that GPS disruptions have been recorded in eastern Finland, but declined to comment on how long or how wide the disruptions were.
Transaviabaltika, a Lithuanian airline that operates on the Finnish domestic route with a small turboprop plane, said its pilots have tried landing several times at the Savonlinna airport since Sunday, but have been forced to turn back to Helsinki each time as the GPS signal was disrupted.
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (833-mile) land border with Russia. The lakeside town of Savonlinna is a mere 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the border.
In late 2018, the Finnish government said the country’s GPS location signals were intentionally disrupted in the northern Lapland region and the country’s prime minister acknowledged that it was possible that Russia was the disrupting party.
At the same time, the Norwegian Defense Ministry said Russian forces in the Arctic disturbed GPS location signals during a large NATO drill in the country.
GENEVA — The international scientific laboratory that is home to the world’s largest atom smasher says it is suspending Russia’s observer status and halting any new collaboration with Russia or its institutions “until further notice.”
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, said its 23 member states — all European, plus Israel — condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is one of seven associate member states, and Russia, like the United States, Japan and the European Union, has had observer status.
The CERN council made the decisions about Russia at a special meeting on Tuesday and expressed its support “to the many members of CERN’s Russian scientific community who reject this invasion.”
CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator.
HELSINKI — Finland will donate 15 decommissioned ambulances and two fire trucks to Ukraine, and they are expected to be delivered in the country within a week, Finnish media outlets say.
Ten of the ambulances come from hospital districts across Finland and five from rescue services, Finnish public broadcaster YLE said Tuesday.
The ambulances have just recently been taken out of service, YLE said, quoting health and rescue officials. Decommissioned ambulances are usually sold, but now it was decided to donate them to Ukraine, YLE said.
Finland will also give humanitarian help to Moldova including a field kitchen, five large multi-purpose tents for emergency accomodation and two shower tents to be used by refugees from Ukraine.
A Danish ambulance services and patient transportation company Falck said last week that it donated 30 ambulances to Ukraine and neighboring countries. ___
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A Latvian lawmaker has traveled to Ukraine to fight alongside Ukrainians, the Baltic country’s Justice Minister Janis Bordans said Tuesday.
Juris Jurass, who is the chairman of the Saeima assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee and a member of the same party as Bordans, “has volunteered to defend the territory of Ukraine and to fight against the invaders,” the justice minister said.
“He made the decision based on his private and moral principles,” Bordans told the Baltic News Service. He was not immediately available for comments.
On Twitter, Ukraine 4 Freedom, a volunteer project by students of international relations at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, wrote that he had joined a foreign legion unit for international volunteers.
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Civilians in the besieged port of Mariupol in southeast Ukraine are anxiously waiting for news of evacuation efforts as they struggle to survive in a city where bodies have been left uncollected on the streets.
Since Saturday, Russian and Ukrainian authorities have committed to setting up evacuation routes but efforts have repeatedly collapsed amid more fighting along the route. Another effort was made Tuesday.
With water supplies cut, people have been collecting water from streams or melting snow. Power cuts mean that many residents have lost internet access and now rely on their car radios for information, picking up news from stations broadcast from areas controlled by Russian or Russian-backed separatist forces.
GENEVA — The International Committee for the Red Cross says it’s not involved in any evacuation of civilians from two Ukrainian cities and is emphasizing the strict rules under international law about the use of the red cross emblem in an armed conflict.
Videos have shown buses leaving northern Sumy and heading toward Mariupol in the southeast bearing a red cross on the side. It’s not clear who put them there.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the International Red Cross was “forbidding the use of its emblem on our cars,” without elaborating.
ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said “we don’t forbid per se” but cited rules about use of protective emblems like the red cross. “In armed conflict, it may be used by medical staff and facilities, including army medics and vehicles. It may also be used by Red Cross and Red Crescent workers, vehicles, facilities, and the humanitarian relief they bring,” he said.
ICRC said it has no staffers in Sumy but has been working with Ukrainian and Russian authorities toward an agreement to help people leave Mariupol.
LONDON — Trading in nickel, much of it produced in Russia, was suspended Tuesday on the London Metal Exchange after prices doubled to an unprecedented $100,000 per metric ton.
Nickel is used mostly to produce stainless steel and some alloys, but increasingly it is used in batteries, particularly electric vehicle batteries.
Russia, facing severe economic sanctions after invading Ukraine, is the world’s third biggest nickel producer. The Russian mining company Nornickel is a major supplier of the high-grade nickel that is used in electric vehicles.
Nickel prices had quadrupled in a week over supply issues and the spike Tuesday forced the LME to shut down electronic and floor trading.
Trading in nickel will not resume Tuesday and the halt could last longer than that “given the geopolitical situation which underlies recent price moves,” the LME said Tuesday.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican says it is willing to “do everything to put itself at the service” for peace in Ukraine.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is Pope Francis’ secretary of state, spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday. In the call, Parolin “relayed the deep worry of Pope Francis for the war underway in Ukraine and reaffirmed what the pope said last Sunday,” Bruni said.
Francis had announced he was sending two cardinals to Ukraine this week to express Christian concern for the suffering and stress the pope’s oft-cited words that “war is madness.” Parolin also told Lavrov that the Holy See is willing to do everything to help bring about peace.
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office says it has confirmed 474 civilian deaths in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
The office said Tuesday that the number of confirmed civilian injuries now stands at 861.
The U.N. office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has been able to verify.
It acknowledges that the real figures are much higher, in part because intense fighting has delayed its receipt of information and many reports still have to be corroborated.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The U.K. delegation to the global chemical weapons watchdog says in a tweet that it and a group of supporters walked out of a meeting Tuesday in response to what the delegation called “unacceptable Russian falsehoods on Ukraine.”
It was not immediately clear what the Russian representative said at the behind-closed-doors meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ executive council to prompt the walkout.
The British delegation tweeted a photo of more than 50 people standing with two Ukrainian flags on the steps outside the OPCW’s headquarters in The Hague.
France’s ambassador, Luis Vassy, says in a tweet that the walkout by European Union nations and their supporters came as Russia’s representative “was denying basic facts about Ukraine” and other issues tackled by the OPCW.
In a written statement posted on the OPCW’s website, U.K. ambassador Joanna Roper urged the organization to be vigilant. “The UK remains concerned that Russia may use the pretext of chemical weapons to try to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine and we know only too well that Russia is also prepared to use chemical weapons against others,” she said.
KYIV, UKRAINE — Tuesday is International Women’s Day, an important official holiday in Russia and Ukraine dating from the Soviet era. Women are normally feted with flowers and chocolates and speeches, but this year the holiday was overshadowed in Ukraine by war, and in Russia by economic chaos.
Sugary messages of love and support were shared on social networks as in previous years, but many were tinged with sorrow or pleas for peace.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened his morning video address Tuesday saying: “Ukrainians, we usually celebrate this holiday, the holiday of spring. We congratulate our women, our daughters, wives, mothers. Usually. But not today.”
“Today I cannot say the traditional words. I just can’t congratulate you. I can’t, when there are so many deaths. When there is so much grief, when there is so much suffering. When the war continues,” he said.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Russia’s armed forces may be deliberately targeting civilians as they try to flee the military assault on Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said Tuesday “there are very creditable reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate. Targeting civilians is a war crime, and it’s totally unacceptable.”
He told reporters in Latvia that the humanitarian impact of the almost two-week long war “is devastating.”
“We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected,” he said.
Asked what NATO can do to help, Stoltenberg said: “We have a responsibility to ensure the conflict does not spread beyond Ukraine.” NATO is boosting its defenses to ensure that members near Russia and Ukraine are not next on Moscow’s target list.
KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has released new estimates of casualties and damage from the Russian war, saying Russian military actions have killed 38 children and wounded more than 70.
Overall at least 400 civilian deaths have been recorded and 800 wounded, though “these data are definitely incomplete,” he said in a video address. It was not immediately possible to verify the figures.
He said Russian strikes have destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospitals and 1,500 residential buildings.
He estimated some 10,000 foreign students, notably from India, China and the Persian Gulf are trapped by the fighting, and described attacks on British and Swiss journalists.
He claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops.
“Russian invaders fire on humanitarian corridors through which civilians are trying to escape,” he said, without saying where.
Russian officials did not comment Tuesday and have only acknowledged several hundred deaths among Russian forces.
BERLIN — The German federal prosecutor’s office is looking into possible war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
The prosecutor’s office said Tuesday it has launched a so-called “structural investigation” — a preliminary investigation against persons unknown which entails looking for evidence leading to possible suspects who could be prosecuted.
It’s unclear whether or when a prosecution of any suspect would actually be launched and what the chances are of any defendant eventually being brought to court in Germany.
Germany applies the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes. In a groundbreaking verdict in January, a German court convicted a former Syrian secret police officer of crimes against humanity for overseeing the abuse of detainees at a jail.
BEIJING — China says President Xi Jinping has criticized sanctions imposed on Russia over its war against Ukraine as “harmful to all sides,” in a video summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
China has largely backed Russia in blaming the U.S. and its allies for provoking the conflict and has abstained in votes at the United Nations over whether to condemn Moscow for its actions.
In its readout of Tuesday’s conversation, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said Xi expressed “anxiety and deep pain” over the fighting, and urged the sides to pursue peace talks in which he said China was willing to play a role.
Xi gave no indication on what sort of resolution China was looking for and the only details he gave concerned the impact of sanctions.
“We want to strive together to reduce the negative effects of the crisis,” Xi was quoted as saying. “Regarding the impact of sanctions on global finance, energy resources, transport and supply chain stability, in terms of a world economy already burdened by the pandemic, it is harmful to all sides.”
LONDON — Britain’s defense minister says his staff will help process applications from Ukrainians fleeing war, after criticism of the sluggish U.K. effort to take in refugees.
Britain says it expects to take in as many as 200,000 displaced Ukrainians, and has set no upper limit on the number it will accept. But as of Monday night, the government said only 300 visas had been issued.
French officials have accused Britain of turning Ukrainians away at the English Channel port of Calais, telling them to apply for visas at British embassies in Paris or Brussels.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Tuesday that “we can do more, we will do more” to speed up people’s journeys to the U.K.
NEW YORK — Russia says it has summoned the Irish ambassador to Moscow a day after a truck was driven through the gates of the Russian embassy in Ireland during a demonstration against the war in Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it told Irish ambassador Brian McElduff that Russia demanded an apology from the Irish authorities and for Ireland to pay compensation.
Russia likened the incident to “a tactic widely used by terrorists” and said Irish law enforcement had not acted to stop it. The Irish Times newspaper reported Monday that the driver of the truck was arrested.
KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the expansion of humanitarian corridors for Ukrainian civilians fleeing war, and more support from the Red Cross.
In a video address Tuesday from an undisclosed location, he said a child died of dehydration in the blockaded southern seaport of Mariupol, in a sign of how desperate the city’s population has become.
He pleaded again with Western countries to provide air support.
He said evacuation buses have been sent to Mariupol, but said there was no firm agreement on the route, so “Russian troops can simply shoot on this transport on the way.”
Zelenskyy accused the International Red Cross of “forbidding the use of its emblem on our cars,” but did not give details. Videos of buses heading out of Sumy and toward Mariupol have had signs with a red cross on the side but it’s not clear who pasted them there.
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