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Live coverage: Russian assault on Ukraine intensifies

Russian forces pressed closer to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday as heavy shelling struck the nation’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a war crimes investigation over the Russian attack.

Follow The Hill’s coverage of the latest developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine below:

Former Russian foreign minister calls on nation’s diplomats to resign in protest

4:58 p.m.

Former Russian Foreign Minister Andrei V Kozyrev urged the country’s diplomats to resign in protest over its invasion of Ukraine.

“Dear Russian diplomats, you are professionals and not cheap propagandists. When I worked at the Foreign Ministry, I was proud of my colleagues. Now it is simply impossible to support the bloody fratricidal war in Ukraine,” he added on Twitter.

Kozyrev served as the foreign minister between 1990 and 1996 and he is among a growing number of Russians, both inside and outside of the country, speaking out against the invasion. 

Others include Russian billionaires, Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridmanpop star Regina Spektor and Russian athletes like Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin and tennis star Andrey Rublev.

Roughly 6,400 people have been detained in Russia for protesting the country’s invasion into neighboring Ukraine, according to the United Nations.

— CAROLINE VAKIL

Pentagon mulling more permanent US troops in Eastern Europe

4:55 p.m.

The Pentagon is deciding if it should add more U.S. troops to NATO-member countries in Eastern Europe on a permanent basis following Russia’s attack on Ukraine last week, a top Defense Department official said Tuesday. 

“We recognize this dynamic situation now requires us to give it another fine-tooth look to see what’s necessary to ensure that we’ve got deterrence of Russia and that we can absolutely 150 percent say that NATO is safe and secure,” Mara Karlin, the assistant Defense secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities, told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee. 

“So we’re looking at what sort of troop presence, whether it’s rotational or permanent, is necessary given this current security environment, both in the near term and frankly, in the long term,” she added.  

Karlin said the Pentagon will take another look at the 2021 Global Posture review, released late last year. The document, which looked closely at troop numbers in Europe and elsewhere, at the time found forces to be “about right,” in their locations and offered no recommendations for major shifts.  

— ELLEN MITCHELL

UK announces sanctions against Belarusian officials, state enterprises

3:10 p.m.

The United Kingdom announced sanctions against four Belarusian defense officials and two Belarusian state enterprises Tuesday, citing the country’s role in the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

The four individuals sanctioned include Belarus chief of the general staff and first deputy minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. Victor Gulevich; deputy minister of Defense for logistics and chief of logistics of the Belarusian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Andrei Burdyko; deputy minister of Defense for armament and chief of armament of the Belarusian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Sergei Simonenko and deputy minister of Defense, Maj. Gen.l Andrey Zhuk.

The U.K. is also sanctioning Belarusian military semi-conductor manufacturer JSC Integral and the JSC 558 Aircraft Repair Plant. 

The entities and individuals are the first among Belarus to be sanctioned by the United Kingdom.  

“The Lukashenko regime actively aids and abets Russia’s illegal invasion and will be made to feel the economic consequences for its support for Putin,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement. “There will be nowhere to hide. Nothing – and no one – is off the table.”

— CAROLINE VAKIL

Harris speaks with European leaders

2:23 p.m.

Vice President Harris on Tuesday spoke with five leaders from European NATO nations about the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the White House seeks to highlight her involvement in the U.S. response to the conflict.

Harris spoke individually with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca.

All five nations are located on the eastern flank of the alliance, where there have been concerns about potential Russian aggression should the conflict spill over outside of Ukraine.

“Throughout each of the calls, the Vice President underscored the strength and unity of our Alliance and welcomed each of her counterparts’ leadership and coordination on robust response measures, including sanctions and other economic measures through the European Union,” the White House said in a readout of the calls.

Harris also reiterated the Biden administration’s commitment to Article 5 of the NATO charter, which states that an attack on one member is an attack on all members.

“Lastly, the Vice President reaffirmed U.S. support for the international rules and norms that have brought peace and security in Europe since World War II and that have served as the foundation of the NATO Alliance. She noted that we will be steadfast and united with our Allies in defense of these principles,” the White House said.

The administration has in recent weeks repositioned U.S. troops already stationed in Europe to further bolster protection for NATO allies on the eastern flank.

— BRETT SAMUELS

Thousands of Russian soldiers captured, killed since start of invasion: AP

2:13 p.m.

More than 5,000 Russian soldiers are estimated to have been captured or killed a little less than a week into the Kremlin’s invasion into Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

A senior Western intelligence official briefed by multiple intelligence agencies told the outlet that Ukrainian forces have shot down large numbers of Russian aircraft and taken out tanks and some air defense systems.  

The official also told the AP that Russian forces have started to use heavier weapons over the last 48 hours, with increased use of artillery north of Kyiv, around the second largest city of Kharkiv in the east and in the northern city of Chernihiv. 

Earlier Tuesday, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters that Russia’s advance on Kyiv has been “bogged down” by “fuel and logistics challenges,” including a lack of food.  

The U.S. also has “indications that morale is flagging in some of these units” due to the unexpected resistance, the official added.  

There is no official overall death toll from the fighting, though it has caused about 677,000 people to flee Ukraine in less than a week, including 150,000 in the last 24 hours, UN Refugee Agency Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements tweeted Tuesday

— Ellen Mitchell

Zelensky says Russian bombing must stop before ceasefire talks begin

2:02 p.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that Russian bombing in the country must stop before Ukraine engages in ceasefire talks.

“It’s necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table,” Zelensky told Reuters and CNN in an interview.

Russia and Ukraine engaged in talks for five hours this week but did not make significant progress toward de-escalation. Russian state media reported that a second round of talks was set for Wednesday.

— Chloe Folmar

Holocaust memorial site bombed in Ukraine, Zelensky says

1:25 p.m.

A Holocaust memorial site was bombed in Kyiv amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday.

The Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv honors the estimated 70,000 to 100,000 people who died between 1941 and 1943 during the Holocaust by the Nazis at Babyn Yar, according to the memorial center. The center said that most of its Jewish population in Kyiv died during that period. 

“To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating…” Zelensky tweeted.

It is a sobering development that comes less than a week since Russia invaded its neighbor. Russian President Vladimir Putin has referred to the Ukrainian government as “neo-Nazis” despite the fact that Zelensky is Jewish and has family members who died during the Holocaust. 

— Caroline Vakil

Biden, Zelensky discuss sanctions, defense assistance 
 
12:44 p.m.
 
President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday as Russia’s military assault on Ukraine escalated. 
 
“The American leadership on anti-Russian sanctions and defense assistance to Ukraine was discussed. We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible. Thank you for your support!” Zelensky tweeted. 
 
A White House official said the two leaders spoke for just over 30 minutes.
 
The White House said in a subsequent readout that the two leaders discussed U.S. assistance to Ukraine and sanctions imposed by the U.S. and European countries on Russia. 

“The leaders discussed Russia’s escalation of attacks on sites used by civilians in Ukraine, including today’s bombing near Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial,” the readout continued.  

 
Biden has little on his public schedule Tuesday, aside from his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The speech is expected to reflect on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

— Morgan Chalfant

US, allies to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves

12:40 p.m.

The U.S. and its allies will release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves as the Russian invasion of Ukraine sends shockwaves through the energy market.

That will include 30 million barrels from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki and the Department of Energy. The rest will come from the remaining 30 countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA).Y“Today’s announcement is another example of partners around the world condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and working together to address the impact of President Putin’s war of choice,” Psaki said. “President Biden was clear from the beginning that all tools are on the table to protect American businesses and consumers, including from rising prices at the pump.”

In a separate announcement, the IEA backed international sanctions against Russia and said it made the decision to release oil from its reserves amid volatile oil prices and an eight-year low for commercial inventories, as well as constraints on producers that prevent making up the supply shortfall in the near term.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol presented the release as an extension of international cooperation in opposition to the invasion.

“I am pleased that the IEA has also come together today to take action. The situation in energy markets is very serious and demands our full attention,” Birol said. “Global energy security is under threat, putting the world economy at risk during a fragile stage of the recovery.”

— Zack Budryk

New Jersey rep invites Ukrainian-American leader as virtual guest to State of the Union address

12:15 p.m.

New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D) announced Tuesday that she has invited a Ukrainian-American leader as her virtual guest to President Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

“As we stand with the Ukrainian people against the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Vladimir Putin, I could think of no better guest tonight than a member of the Ukrainian American community here in NJ-11,” Sherrill said, referring to former Randolph Township Mayor Roman Hirniak.

Hirniak said in a statement released by Sherrill’s office he is focused on highlighting the loss of innocent lives during the Russian invasion “who simply dreamed of shedding the Soviet yoke and joining the West” during the conflict.

— Lexi Lonas

Blinken condemns Russian strikes killing Ukrainian civilians

11:35 a.m. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia for killing Ukrainian civilians in its strikes around the country, questioning whether the nation should be allowed to remain on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In Blinken’s Tuesday speech before the council, he pointed to attacks on “civilian buses, cars, even ambulances” in attacks the UN says have killed at least 100 people.

“Reports of Russia’s human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law are mounting by the hour,” Blinken said.

— Rebecca Beitsch

No need to increase nuclear weapons alert level, NATO chief says

11:29 a.m.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press Tuesday there is no need for the alliance to increase its nuclear weapons alert after Russian President Vladimir Putin put his nuclear arms on high alert Sunday.

“We will always do what is needed to protect and defend our allies, but we don’t think there is any need now to change the alert levels of NATO’s nuclear forces,” Stoltenberg said.

Putin previously threatened consequences to countries who tried to interfere in the invasion of Ukraine before putting his nuclear arms on high alert.

“We strongly believe it’s reckless and irresponsible the way Russia is speaking about nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg told the AP.

— Lexi Lonas

Russia warns residents to leave Kyiv, warns of strikes

11:25 a.m.

Russian military forces warn residents to leave the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv due to possible airstrikes amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported

In a statement, Russia’s military said it plans to target the Security Service of Ukraine and the 72nd Main Center for Information and Psychological Operations (PSO) in Kyiv. 

“We call on Ukrainian citizens attracted by Ukrainian nationalists to carry out provocations against Russia, as well as residents of Kyiv living near relay nodes leave their homes,” the statement said.

— Olafimihan Oshin

Kyiv broadcasting tower targeted in Russian strike, Ukraine says

11:20 a.m. 

The Ukraine Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said Russia had attacked Kyiv’s main broadcasting tower, with videos on social media showing the communications spire consumed in a cloud of smoke.

The Defense Ministry said in a tweet that the attack was carried out so “the enemy can spread [disinformation]” to “destabilize the situation,” and that some television channels were taken offline. 

The attack on the broadcasting tower followed a warning from Ukraine’s Defense Minister posted on Twitter that Moscow is preparing to launch information and psychological operations pushing false claims that the Ukrainian leadership has “agreed to give up.”

— Laura Kelly

Visa, Mastercard blocking Russian banks from networks

11:23 a.m.

Multiple Russian financial institutions are being blocked from the networks of Mastercard and Visa after governments around the world announced sanctions following Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

“As a result of sanction orders, we have blocked multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network. We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve,” Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach said in a statement on Monday.

The Mastercard chief executive also noted that $2 million would be channeled to Save the Children, the Red Cross and their employee assistance fund to further aid those affected by the Russian invasion into Ukraine.  

Visa also announced on Monday that it is taking actions to work in compliance with the announced sanctions.

“Visa is taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, and is prepared to comply with additional sanctions that may be implemented,” Visa said in a statement.

The credit card company added that it would also be providing a $2 million donation to the U.S Fund for UNICEF.

— Caroline Vakil

Ukrainian hospital building destroyed in shelling: Parliament 

11:17 a.m.

A Ukrainian hospital building was destroyed by shelling on Tuesday, according to a Telegram posted by the Ukrainian Parliament. 

The post accuses Russian forces of targeting a hospital in the second-largest Ukrainian city, Kharkiv. 

U.S. officials have said that Russia is targeting schools, residential buildings and hospitals, but Russia has thus far denied targeting civilians during the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a war crimes investigation against Russia for their actions.

— Lexi Lonas

70 Ukrainian soldiers killed by Russian artillery, official says

10:38 a.m.

A Ukrainian official said 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a Russian artillery attack on a military base Monday. 

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy, governor of the Sumy region, posted the death toll on Facebook after a shelling attack by Russian forces, Reuters reported.

The attack took place in the town of Okhtyrka, according to Zhyvytskyy.

Fighting on Sunday in the region also led to multiple civilians and Russian soldiers dying, he added in the post, The Associated Press reported.

— Lexi Lonas

China evacuating its citizens from Ukraine

10:24 a.m.

China is coordinating to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine, including by conducting organized evacuations from the country and working with embassies in other countries on customs clearances, as the Russian invasion in Ukraine continues.

In a notice posted on the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine’s website on Monday, the embassy said a handful of countries “are temporarily exempt from visas for those who leave Ukraine with valid passports.” Those countries include Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.

Organized evacuations have also been facilitated by the embassy, including 400 Chinese citizens taken by bus from Odessa on Monday and 200 from Kyiv, The Washington Post reported.

Eighteen buses have been hired by the embassy for the evacuations, according to the Post. More Chinese citizens were expected to be taken out of the country on Tuesday, including about 900 from Kyiv and between 700 and 800 from Odessa.

— Caroline Vakil

Maersk halting container shipping to and from Russia

10:22 a.m.

Shipping company Maersk announced Tuesday it was suspending shipping to and from Russia due to the war in Ukraine. 

The suspension will not include shipments of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies, with the company saying the decision “is focusing on social responsibility and making the efforts to support society despite all the complications and uncertainties within the current supply chain to/from Russia.”

“The suspension will begin today and cover all Russian gateway ports. We will announce further details during today and the coming days as we progress with the planning,” the company added. 

Maersk said significant delays are expected as the conflict continues, and countries continue to sanction Russia for the invasion.

— Lexi Lonas

Bulgarian official who refused to call invasion a war dismissed

10:17 a.m.

A top Bulgarian official was dismissed by the country’s parliament Monday after he refused to call the Russian invasion of Ukraine a war, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In a statement, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said his defense minister Stefan Yanev “cannot use the word ‘operation’ instead of the word ‘war’… It can’t be called ‘an operation’ when thousands of servicemen on both sides have already been killed. Soldiers who are younger than my eldest daughter.”

Yanev, a Bulgarian brigade general, said last week that people should be cautioned in calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a war due to Russian President Vladimir Putin not using that word, according to the Journal.

Yanev has dismissed the criticism of his remarks, saying he is a subject of a targeted political attack.

— Olafimihan Oshin

Second round of Russia-Ukraine talks set for Tuesday: report

10:06 a.m. 

Another round of Russia-Ukraine talks is scheduled for Wednesday, Russian news agency TASS reported, citing a source on the Russian side.

The talks follow the first round on Monday, which lasted 5 hours but resulted in no agreements to end fighting. 

—Rachel Scully

UN says 6,400 Russians detained for protesting invasion of Ukraine

9:59 a.m.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that approximately 6,400 Russians have been detained for protesting the invasion of Ukraine.

Those arrested are normally released within hours after paying a fee, but some are sentenced to jail for up to 25 days, Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the U.N. human rights office, said.

The office also accused Russian authorities of unnecessary brutality toward protesters.

“We stress that arresting people solely for exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of liberty. We call for the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained and for the authorities to abide by their international obligations to respect and ensure the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly,” Throssell said.

— Lexi Lonas

Russia says Meta, Google should be held responsible for ‘inciting war’

9:51 a.m.

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Meta and Google should be held responsible for “inciting war” amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Google and Meta are reportedly among the few tech companies that are facing possible restrictive measures from Russia after failing to open offices and apply other measures required by the country’s communication law.

Russia’s communications agency, Roskomnadzor, also demanded that Western tech companies stop what it described as discrimination against Russian media outlets.

—Olafimihan Oshin

Russia slows down Twitter traffic

9:18 a.m.

Russia’s state media agency, Roskomnadzor, said Tuesday it will slow down Twitter traffic on desktop computers in the country because the social network “has become a platform for the dissemination of fakes about the situation in Ukraine.”

Roskomnadzor told the Russian news agency Interfax that Twitter was spreading “unreliable socially significant information” about the invasion.

The agency also sent 1,700 notifications to Twitter asking the network to remove information Roskomnadzor called “illegal.”

—Chloe Folmar

UN says 660,000 people have fled Ukraine

8:25 a.m.

The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday that 660,000 Ukrainians have fled the country, The Associated Press reported.

Surrounding countries such as Poland, Romania and Hungary have been quick to offer assistance to refugees and encourage Ukrainians to seek safety at their borders.

“At this rate, the situation looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century,” Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said, according to the AP.

—Lexi Lonas

EU lawmakers to label Russia ‘rogue state’

8:21 a.m.

European Union lawmakers on Tuesday are expected to label Russia a “rogue state” in a condemnation of Moscow’s attack against Ukraine.

A draft resolution expected to be approved says the invasion of Ukraine “effectively makes Russia a rogue state,” Reuters reported.

The resolution would also allow for tougher sanctions against Russia on top of measures already taken, such as sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin and removing some Russian banks from the SWIFT international financial system.

Putin “recalls the most dreadful statements of 20th century dictators,” the resolution reads, according to Reuters.

—Lexi Lonas

Interpreter breaks down during Zelensky’s remarks about children’s deaths

8:01 a.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misidentified the interpreter’s employer. This version has been updated.

An interpreter on Tuesday broke down as he relayed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech detailing the deaths of children and the toll that the Russian invasion has had on his nation.

The interpreter, who was not named, can be heard in the broadcast crying and sniffling as he attempts to interpret the speech.

“This is the price of freedom,” the interpreter says, shakily relaying Zelensky’s words. “We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom,” he adds while pausing between breaths.

—Cameron Jenkins

Ukraine’s Zelensky calls for war crimes investigation over Russian attack

7:53 a.m.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Russia to be investigated for war crimes on Tuesday.

His call comes after an attack on Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, that killed at least 10 people and wounded 35 others.

“This is the price of freedom,” Zelensky said, the BBC reported. “This is terror against Ukraine. There were no military targets in the square — nor are they in those residential districts of Kharkiv which come under rocket artillery fire.”

—Lexi Lonas

Russia: Response was needed to threat of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons

7:46 a.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that the “real danger” of Ukraine acquiring nuclear weapons required a response from Moscow, Reuters reports.

“Today, the dangers that [Ukrainian President] Zelensky’s regime pose for neighboring countries and international security in general have increased substantially after the authorities set up in Kyiv have embarked upon dangerous games related to plans to acquire their own nuclear weapons,” Lavrov said while speaking at a disarmament meeting in Geneva, according to the news service.

“Ukraine still has Soviet nuclear technologies and the means of delivery of such weapons. We cannot fail to respond to this real danger,” Lavrov added.

—Maureen Breslin

Russian column presses toward Kyiv

7:38 a.m.

Russian forces are pressing toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv amid increased fighting.

A column of Russian tanks and other vehicles forced its way closer to Kyiv on Tuesday after unleashing shelling in civilian areas, Reuters reported.

While Ukraine has managed to hold off Russia’s advance, intelligence officials have determined that Moscow still has plans to overwhelm Kyiv, according to CNN.

—Cameron Jenkins

Russian shelling pounds center of Ukraine’s second-largest city

7:32 a.m.

Russian shelling pounded the center of Ukraine’s second-largest city on Tuesday as Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor entered its sixth day.

Rocket strikes killed at least 10 people and wounded 35 others in Kharkiv, with authorities expecting to find more victims once debris is cleared away, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said, Reuters reported.

“The rubble is being cleared and there will be even more victims and wounded,” Herashchenko said.

—Lexi Lonas

Tags Antony Blinken Jen Psaki Joe Biden Mikie Sherrill Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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