MOSCOW — A Moscow court banned Facebook and Instagram on Monday for what it deemed extremist activity in a case against their parent company, Meta.
The Tverskoy District Court fulfilled a request from prosecutors to outlaw Meta Platforms Inc. and banned Facebook and Instagram for what they called “extremist activities.” The prosecutors have accused the social media platforms of ignoring government requests to remove what they described as fake news about the Russian military action in Ukraine and calls for protests in Russia.
The court’s ruling bans Meta from opening offices and doing business in Russia. Meta declined to comment when contacted by the AP.
Prosecutors haven’t requested to ban the Meta-owned messaging service WhatsApp, which is widely popular in Russia. The authorities also emphasized that they do not intend to punish individual Russians who use Facebook or Instagram.
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Instagram and Facebook were already blocked in Russia after the communications and media regulator Roskomnadzor said they were being used to call for violence against Russian soldiers. In addition to blocking Facebook and Instagram, Russian authorities also have shut access to foreign media websites.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— AP video journalist gives riveting first-hand account of the siege of Mariupol
— Russia demands Mariupol lay down arms but Ukraine says no
— ‘No city anymore’: Mariupol survivors take train to safety
— Biden adds stop in Poland, crucial ally in the Ukraine crisis, to his trip this week to Europe
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS TODAY:
MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Witnesses fleeing the besieged port of Mariupol say they are leaving behind a city that has been almost entirely destroyed by Russian bombardment and heavy fighting.
Maria Fiodorova crossed the border from Ukraine into Medyka, Poland, on Monday after an arduous, five-day journey. The 77-year-old woman told The Associated Press that the city is almost 90 percent destroyed, with every building razed to the ground.
Video captured by The Associated Press shows residents pushing carts and carrying bags of food and supplies along debris-ridden streets and passages. The siege has caused shortages of food, water and energy supplies, according to city officials who say at least 2,300 civilians have been killed thus far in Mariupol.
Residents have fled Mariupol not knowing what, if anything, will be left — if and when they return.
Another Ukrainian woman who made it to the Polish border said she left behind a sister in Mariupol who reported that Russian soldiers there are not allowing anyone to leave.
“She told me that they have already switched to a Russian time zone, that there are lots of Russian soldiers walking around the city. Civilians cannot leave,” Yulia Bondarieva, who fled Kharkiv for Medyka, told the AP. She feared that her sister and family would soon run out of food and water.
MOSCOW — The Russian military says it will continue using its state-of-the-art hypersonic missile to hit particularly important targets in Ukraine.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Monday that the Kinzhal hypersonic missile “has proven its efficiency in destroying heavily fortified special facilities.”
He said that a Kinzhal missile was used Friday to hit a Soviet-era arsenal for storing missiles near the western town of Deliatyn in the Carpathian Mountains, the first time the new weapon was used in combat. It also was used in a strike on the fuel depot in Kostiantynivka near the Black Sea port of Mykolaiv over the weekend. Konashenkov noted that Kinzhal was used for these strikes due to its high kinetic energy and its ability to penetrate defenses.
Konashenkov said that Kinzhal missiles were fired at a distance of more than 1,000 kilometers (over 620 miles).
Kinzhal, one of an array of hypersonic weapons developed by Russian in recent years, has a range of 2,000 kilometers(1,250 miles) and flies at a speed 10 times the speed of sound. It’s carried by specially redesigned MiG-31 fighter jets.
NEW YORK — Russia has warned that relations with the U.S. are “on the verge of a breach” and summoned the U.S. ambassador for an official protest against President Joe Biden’s criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A Russian Foreign Ministry statement Monday referred to “recent unacceptable statements” by Biden about Putin. Biden referred to Putin last week as a “war criminal” in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Foreign Ministry says that at the meeting with U.S. ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan “it was emphasized that remarks such as these by the American President, which are unworthy of a state figure of such a high rank, put Russian-American relations on the verge of a breach.”
WARSAW, Poland – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says he is encouraging Switzerland to take bolder steps in cutting off Russian oligarchs who support Russian leaders from the billions of U.S. dollars they have in Swiss banks or in business there.
Morawiecki spoke Monday at a joint news conference with visiting Swiss President Ignazio Cassis. They held talks about the situation in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russian troops Feb. 24. Morawiecki noted that Russia’s richest businessmen have deposited billions of U.S. dollars in Swiss banks, were doing business there and had other assets.
He said the assets could be used to help Ukraine rebuild from the war’s destruction.
Cassis noted that Switzerland has joined the European Union’s sanctions on Russia and has also has frozen the bank accounts and business of Russian oligarchs who are on the EU sanctions lists and also of some others.
Poland’s government is working on amendments to the constitution that would allow for the seizure of Russia’s assets in Poland.
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Monday that a NATO drill in Norway that was planned before the invasion of Ukraine sends “an important signal that there is cooperation, cooperation and a readiness to defend our territory.”
The visit to the exercise Cold Response “shouldn’t be interpreted as a step toward a Swedish NATO membership,” Andersson told reporters.
Sweden has a close partnership with NATO and that “has deepened during the crisis.”
Support for joining NATO has surged to record levels in non-Alliance members Finland and Sweden.
LONDON — Britain is accusing the Russian state of being behind hoax calls to two government ministers by an imposter posing as the prime minister of Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the hoaxer was able to speak to him on a video call Thursday. Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had received a similar call, and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said an unsuccessful attempt was made to speak to her.
Wallace said he became suspicious and hung up after the caller “posed several misleading questions.” He accused Russia of “dirty tricks.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, said Monday that “the Russian state was responsible for the hoax calls made to government ministers last week.”
BERLIN — Germany’s Buchenwald concentration camp memorial says Boris Romanchenko, who survived camps at Buchenwald, Peenemuende, Dora and Bergen-Belsen during World War II, was killed Friday when his home in Kharkiv was attacked.
The memorial cited relatives in a series of tweets on Monday. It said his granddaughter said that he lived in a multistory building that was hit by a projectile. Romanchenko was vice president of the International Buchenwald-Dora Committee.
Romanchenko was 96, German news agency dpa reported.
NEW YORK — Russia’s central bank has cautiously reopened bond trading on the Moscow exchange for the first time since the country invaded Ukraine.
The price of Russia’s ruble-denominated government debt fell Monday, sending borrowing costs higher. Stock trading has remained closed, with no word on when it might reopen.
The central bank bought bonds to support prices. It has imposed wide-ranging restrictions on financial transactions to try to stabilize markets and combat the severe fallout from Western sanctions that have sent the ruble sharply lower against the U.S. dollar and the euro.
Ratings agencies have downgraded Russia’s bonds to “junk” status. Russia’s finance ministry last week flirted with default by threatening to pay foreign holders of dollar bonds in massively devalued rubles before sending the money in dollars.
Stocks last traded on Feb. 25, the day after the invasion started and sent the main stock index sharply lower.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — The Dutch prime minister says that the European Union should be careful when imposing new sanctions on Russian gas and oil companies because some nations are still heavily dependent on these resources,
“We must be sure that energy independence has sufficient gas and oil in the system. It is very important for the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the countries of eastern Europe,” Mark Rutte told reporters after meeting Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. “We need to do this as soon as possible, but we cannot do that tomorrow.”
Nauseda replied saying that Lithuania invested heavily into energy security for decades and now is ready for a full boycott of Russian oil and gas.
“Now that the masks have fallen, it is time to move forward implementing decisions that are absolutely necessary for Europe to feel safer, more independent and resistant to external shocks,” Nauseda said.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency says the radiation monitors around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst meltdown in 1986, have stopped working.
In a statement Monday, the agency also said there are no longer firefighters available in the region to protect forests tainted by decades of radioactivity as the weather warms. The plant was seized by Russian forces on Feb. 24.
According to Monday’s statement, the combination of risks could mean a “significant deterioration” of the ability to control the spread of radiation not just in Ukraine but beyond the country’s borders in weeks and months to come.
Management of the Chernobyl plant said Sunday that 50 staff members who had been working nonstop since the Russian takeover have been rotated out and replaced.
KYIV, Ukraine — A cluster of villages on Kyiv’s northwest edge is on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe, regional officials said Monday.
Bucha and other nearby villages have been all but cut off by Russian forces. Associated Press journalists who were in the area a week ago saw bodies in a public park in the town of Irpin, including a woman with a mortal wound to her head. Basement shelters beneath apartment buildings were filled, and not a day goes by without smoke rising from the area.
At a crematorium on Sunday in Kyiv, the bodies of three civilians from the area were delivered in the back of a van.
LVIV, Ukraine — Authorities in Odesa have accused Russian forces of damaging civilian houses in a strike on the Black Sea port city on Monday.
The city council said no one was killed in the strike and that emergency services quickly extinguished a fire. Mayor Hennady Trukhanov visited the site and said “we will not leave Odessa and we will fight for our city.”
Odesa is in southwestern Ukraine and has largely avoided the fighting so far, though Russia has ships operating off the Black Sea coast.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s prosecutor general said a Russian shell struck a chemical plant outside the city of Sumy a little after 3 a.m. Monday, causing a leak in a 50-ton tank of ammonia that took hours to contain.
Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed the leak was a “planned provocation” by Ukrainian forces to falsely accuse Russia of a chemical attack.
Konashenkov also said an overnight cruise missile strike hit a Ukrainian military training center in the Rivne region. He said 80 foreign and Ukrainian troops were killed.
Vitaliy Koval, the head of the Rivne regional military administration, confirmed a twin Russian missile strike on a training center there early Monday but offered no details about injuries or deaths.
NEW YORK — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says more progress must be made in talks with Ukraine before Russian President Vladimir Putin can meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Peskov says that “in order to talk about a meeting of the two presidents, first it’s necessary to do the homework, it’s necessary to hold talks and agree the results.”
He adds that “so far significant movement has not been achieved” in the talks and that “there are not any agreements which they could commit to” at a joint meeting.
Ukraine and Russia’s delegations have held several rounds of talks both in person and more recently via video link. Zelenskyy has said he would be prepared to meet Putin directly to seek agreements on key issues.
BRUSSELS — EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine, most notably in the besieged port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians have been killed.
Borrell says that “what’s happening in Mariupol is a massive war crime. Destroying everything, bombarding and killing everybody in an indiscriminate manner. This is something awful.”
He says Russia has lost any moral high ground and he underlined that “war also has law.” Borrell’s remarks Monday came as he arrived to chair a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
The International Criminal Court in the Netherlands is gathering evidence about any possible war crimes in Ukraine, but Russia, like the United States, does not recognize the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says his country is “certainly open to other mechanisms for accountability in terms of the atrocities that are taking place in Ukraine right now.”
Coveney says social media images of the war are “driving a fury across the European Union” for those responsible to be held to account.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister says that while there have been advances in cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine, “very large” gaps remain between the two sides.
Naftali Bennett, who has acted as intermediary between the two warring countries in recent weeks, said at a conference on Monday that Israel “will continue — together with other friends in the world — to try and bridge the gap and bring an end to the war.”
Israel has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia and has acted as a broker between the two sides since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Bennett has held multiple phone calls with both leaders in recent weeks and flew to Moscow earlier this month to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bennett has offered to host a summit in Jerusalem.
“There’s still a long way to go, because as I stated, there are a number of controversial issues, some of them fundamental,” the prime minister said at the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper’s conference.
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia says it plans to send the country’s diplomatic representatives back to Ukraine later this week.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa has urged other European Union nations to do the same. He said on Twitter late on Sunday that “Ukraine needs diplomatic support.”
Slovenia’s diplomats left Ukraine with the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 as other countries withdrew their representatives as well.
Jansa visited Kyiv last week along with the prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic. He has said after the visit that Ukraine was feeling abandoned and urged the EU to send a bloc’s representative there.
LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says heavy fighting is continuing north of Kyiv as Russian forces press on with a stalled effort to encircle Ukraine’s capital city.
In an update Monday on social media, the ministry said Russian forces advancing on the city from the northeast have stalled, and troops advancing from the direction of Hostomel to the northwest have been pushed back by fierce Ukrainian resistance. It said the bulk of Russian forces were more than 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the city center.
U.K. officials said that “despite the continued lack of progress, Kyiv remains Russia’s primary military objective and they are likely to prioritise attempting to encircle the city over the coming weeks.”
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister says the country is managing its involvement with Ukraine and Russia “in a sensitive, generous and responsible way while balancing various and complex considerations” after Ukraine’s president called on Israel to take sides.
Naftali Bennett spoke on the tarmac at Israel’s main international airport as an aid delegation was set to depart for Ukraine to set up a field hospital for refugees near the Polish border.
A day earlier Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rebuked Israel in a televised address to Israeli parliament members, saying Israel should provide arms and impose sanctions on Russia.
While Israel has condemned Russia’s invasion, it has also refrained from taking action that would anger Moscow out of concern of jeopardizing its military coordination in neighboring Syria.
LVIV, Ukraine — Emergency officials have contained an ammonia leak at a chemical plant that contaminated wide area in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, officials said Monday.
Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy didn’t say what caused the leak, which spread about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in all directions from the Sumykhimprom plant.
The plant is on the eastern outskirts of the city, which has a population of about 263,000 and has been regularly shelled by Russian troops in recent weeks.
KYIV, Ukraine — Shelling in a Kyiv neighborhood has devastated a shopping center, leaving a flattened ruin still smoldering Monday morning in the midst of high-rise towers.
Overnight shelling near the city center late Sunday left at least eight dead according to emergency officials. The force of the explosion shattered every window in the high-rise next door and twisted their metal frames.
In the distance, the sound of artillery rang out as firefighters picked their way through the destruction in the densely populated Podil district.
LVIV, Ukraine — An ammonia leak at a chemical plant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sumy has contaminated an area with a radius of more than 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles), officials said early Monday.
Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyy didn’t say what caused the leak.
The Sumykhimprom plant is on the eastern outskirts of the city, which has a population of about 263,000 and has been regularly shelled by Russian troops in recent weeks.
“For the center of Sumy, there is no threat now, since the wind does not blow on the city,” said Zhyvytskyy.
He said the nearby village of Novoselytsya, about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) southeast of Sumy, is under threat.
Emergency crews were working to contain the leak.
NEW YORK — The Russian military has offered the Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port of Mariupol to lay down arms and exit the city via humanitarian corridors, but that proposal was quickly rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Sunday that all Ukrainian soldiers could leave the Azov Sea port Monday using safe routes for evacuating civilians that had been previously agreed with Ukraine and head to areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. He said that “all those who lay down arms will be guaranteed a safe exit from Mariupol.”
Mizintsev added that Russia will wait until 5 a.m. Monday for a written Kyiv’s response to the Russian proposal for the Ukrainian troops to leave Mariupol but didn’t say what action Russia will take if its “humanitarian offer” is rejected.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in remarks carried by Ukrainska Pravda news outlet that Kyiv already had told Russia that “there can be no talk about surrender and laying down weapons.” She rejected the Russian statement as “manipulation.”
Mizintsev said that the deliveries of humanitarian supplies to the city will immediately follow if the Ukrainian troops agree to leave the city. He added that civilians will be free to choose whether to leave Mariupol or stay in the city.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the Russian bombing of a school in Mariupol where civilians took refuge.
Speaking in a video address early Monday, Zelenskyy said about 400 civilians were taking shelter at the art school in the besieged Azov Sea port city when it was struck by a Russian bomb.
“They are under the rubble, and we don’t know how many of them have survived,” he said. “But we know that we will certainly shoot down the pilot who dropped that bomb, like about 100 other such mass murderers whom we already have downed.”
Zelenskyy, who spoke to members of the Israeli parliament via video link on Sunday, thanked Israel for its efforts to broker talks with Russia.
The Ukrainian president also said that he had a call Sunday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss support for Ukraine during this week’s summit of the Group of Seven and NATO.
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