LIVE COVERAGE: Ukraine says Russia struck children’s hospital
Ukrainian officials said a maternity hospital in Mariupol was severely damaged in a Russian attack on Wednesday.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the strike an “atrocity.”
Read The Hill’s complete coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine below:
The Russian Ministry of Defense claims it has used a thermobaric rocket launching weapon in its deadly attack on Ukraine, the United Kingdom announced Wednesday.
Moscow “confirmed the use of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine,” the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense tweeted.
The U.K. accompanied the statement with a video of the Soviet-era weapon, which launches rockets from atop a tank body that suck in surrounding oxygen, creating higher temperature and more damaging explosions that last longer than conventional blasts.
Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on the military alliance to do more for Ukraine in a video message on Wednesday.
In a video posted on Twitter, Rasmussen recalled the “democratic and European” future that the many young Ukrainians expressed hope for during his visits to the country.
“It is that future which Vladimir Putin seeks to destroy,” he said.
Noting the waves of sanctions that Western governments have imposed against Russia, the Danish politician said actions must be taken “further still.”
He called on the European Union to cut off all oil and gas imports from Russia in order to cut off the funds that are “financing Putin’s brutal war.”
“This will have an economic cost, but this is small compared to the suffering of the Ukrainian people and tiny compared to the loss of freedom all of us will face if we don’t act now,” he said.
Rasmussen also called for Ukraine to be given a “clear and realistic path to EU membership” as well as for NATO to provide further military weapons support.
— JOSEPH CHOI
Satellite imagery released on Wednesday shows homes, grocery stores and other buildings damaged in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, according to a space technology company.
The footage, which Maxar Technologies notes was taken before a strike hit a children’s hospital there, shows photos of the area before and after the Russian invasion.
“Extensive damage is noted to the civilian infrastructure in and around the city, including residential homes, high-rise apartment buildings, grocery stores and shopping centers,” Maxar said in a statement.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said reports of the Russian military striking a children’s hospital are “horrifying.”
“We have certainly seen those reports and as a mother, I know a number of you are mothers yourself, it is horrifying to see the type of—the barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country,” she told reporters.
She added the White House doesn’t have more details to share about the situation.
Ukraine has accused Russia of launching the strike, which targeted a children’s hospital and maternity ward in the port city of Mariupol.
— ALEX GANGITANO
Serhiy Orlov, deputy mayor of Mariupol, announced Wednesday that 1,200 people have been killed in the city of Mariupol since the start of the invasion.
The deaths come from shelling and ariel attacks that have hit hospitals and other structures, ABC News reported.
Orlov emphasized that half of the deaths were among those who are ethnically Russian, according to the outlet.
“We understand that Mariupol was a showroom of free Ukraine — a dynamic bustling city compared to ghost towns of the so-called DNR,” Orlov said. “We must not fall. We must win and then rebuild. We can only live and develop in a free and independent Ukraine.”
Sketchers is temporarily halting shipments to Russia in response to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.
The company is also giving $250,000 in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and will match employee donations up to another $250,000 for the country.
“We have deep concern for Ukraine and its citizens, who are doing all they can to defend their country and survive while under siege. And while our team in Ukraine is currently safe, this has been a heartbreaking time for them, their families and neighbors,” said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers.
Russia has launched more than 710 missiles against Ukraine since its attack on the country began two weeks ago and the Pentagon has seen indications Kremlin forces are also dropping so-called dumb bombs, a senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday.
“Dumb bombs” are munitions that are not precision-guided and therefore have limited ability to hit targets accurately.
The official said it’s unclear whether Moscow’s use of the dumb bombs is by design or by default due to potential damage to its precision guided capabilities. Nevertheless, the U.S. government is seeing “increasing damage to civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties” with the combined use of bombs and missiles.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the U.S. sees “no real ground progress to speak to except in a couple of places,” the official said.
Russian forces have inched closer to Kharkiv, gaining about 12 miles in the past day and are just outside the city. And Russian forces are about 9 miles north of Mykolaiv, the official said.
— ELLEN MITCHELL
The State Department partnered with GoFundMe to launch a crowdfunding campaign initiative for Ukrainians.
The department said Wednesday individuals should promote the fundraiser online using #UnitedWithUkraine.
It has already raised $1.5 million out of the goal of $2 million for the Ukrainians.
The money will be going to verified organizations that are aiding Ukraine such as Doctors Without Borders, the International Committee of the Red Cross, IsraAID and Remar Occidente A.C.
A European Union spokesman said Russia’s claims that a biological weapons program had been discovered in Ukraine were “very doubtful” and noted the Kremlin’s history with spreading misinformation, Reuters reported.
The Kremlin alleged a military biological program had been discovered in Ukraine and said that officials wanted an explanation from the United States, according to the news service. A presidential spokesperson in Ukraine denied such allegations.
EU foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano said on Wednesday the Kremlin’s credibility of their information “is in general very doubtful and low,” Reuters noted.
“Russian disinformation has a track record of promoting manipulative narratives about biological weapons and alleged ‘secret labs,’” Stano added.
Ukraine is accusing Russia of striking a children’s hospital on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that a children’s hospital and maternity ward was hit in the city of Mariupol.
“Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror?” Zelensky said.
Russia’s defense ministry acknowledged that some conscript soldiers were deployed to Ukraine and captured despite previous statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow would use professional troops during its invasion, The Associated Press reported.
A spokesperson for the ministry said that Russia is trying to help free conscript soldiers from a logistics unit that were captured by the Ukrainian military, according to the news service.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the ministry spokesman, said that “several instances of the presence of conscript-service military personnel” had been detected in Ukraine, though most of them had been sent back to Russia, the AP noted.
The acknowledgement comes despite the fact that Putin said professional troops would be deployed to Ukraine during the invasion and that Russia would not be using compulsory enlisted soldiers.
Papa John’s has suspended all corporate operations in Russia as Moscow continues its invasion of Ukraine.
The pizza chain announced in a statement on Wednesday that it “ceased all operational, marketing and business support to, and engagement with, the Russian market, where all restaurants are owned by independent franchisees, and a master franchisee who controls operations and provides all supplies and ingredients for the restaurants through a supply chain that it owns and operates.”
The company said it is not receiving any royalties from franchised stores in Russia and does not own or operate any restaurants in the country.
The pizza chain also announced that it is supporting humanitarian efforts through financial donations and by contributing dry goods and ingredients to feed refugees fleeing to Eastern Europe — an effort that is in partnership with World Central Kitchen, a not-for-profit organization that works to supply meals during various crises.
“Papa John’s stands with much of the globe in condemning aggression and violence. We hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine, which today is hurting millions of innocent people, who are losing their homes, communities and people they love,” the company added in a statement.
— MYCHAEL SCHNELL
Russia’s central bank announced Wednesday it was prohibiting citizens from buying foreign cash with rubles for the next six months as the Russian currency’s value plummets amid international sanctions.
From March 9 to Sept. 9, Russians banks will not be permitted to sell foreign cash to customers, though foreign currency may continue to be exchanged for rubles.
“Customers of all banks, without exception, may withdraw money from their foreign currency deposits or accounts. Banks may need several days to bring the necessary amount of cash in foreign currency to a particular branch,” the Central Bank of Russia said in a statement.
Any foreign funds that are withdrawn in this period will be issued in U.S. dollars regardless of what form of foreign currency they are being kept in.
According to the bank’s announcement, any funds that are kept in foreign currencies by Russian citizens will remain in foreign currency. However, citizens will be limited to withdrawing up to $10,000 USD from foreign currency accounts with any other remaining funds being distributed in rubles at the market rate of that day.
Ukraine is pulling its troops and equipment from United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa and Europe to reinforce its defenses at home as Russia continues its invasion of the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed an order on Tuesday directing all forces involved in peacekeeping missions to return to Ukraine and bolster the country’s efforts at home, according to Reuters.
Roughly 300 Ukrainian troops, police officers and staff work on six U.N. peacekeeping missions, according to Reuters. Additionally, the country has deployed helicopters to peacekeeping missions.
It is improbable that the repatriation of troops and equipment will significantly affect global peacekeeping efforts, according to the news wire.
Heineken on Wednesday announced that it will halt the advertising, production and sale of its brand in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“We are shocked and saddened to watch the tragedy in Ukraine unfold,” the company said in a statement. “We stand with the Ukrainian people and our hearts go out to all those affected. The Russian Government’s war against Ukraine is an unprovoked and completely unjustified attack.”
Heineken, the world’s second-largest brewer, said it will no longer accept any net financial benefit derived from the company’s Russian operations. The company will also follow through with its previously announced halt on all exports and investments to Russia.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace on Wednesday said the U.K. is planning to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to defend itself against Russia.
“It is vital… that Ukraine maintains its ability to fly and suppress Russian air attack,” Wallace said, according to Reuters.
Wallace said the technology fell within the definition of defensive weapons.
“In response to Ukrainian requests, the government has taken the decision to explore the donation of STARStreak high-velocity man-portable anti-air missiles,” he said. “We believe that this system will remain within the definition of defensive weapons, but will allow the Ukrainian force to better defend their skies.”
The defense minister said that the government was still working out how to get them into Ukraine and train their military to use them.
The operator of the Chernobyl nuclear plant announced on Wednesday that Russian forces disconnected the facility’s power grid.
Ukrenergo, the Ukrainian state-owned grid Chernobyl plant, wrote in a Telegram post that there is “no possibility” of restoring the lines because of Russia’s military action in the country.
“Because of military actions of Russian occupiers the nuclear power plant in Chornobyl was fully disconnected from the power grid. The nuclear station has no power supply,” Ukrenergo wrote.
“The military actions are in progress, so there is no possibility to restore the lines,” the company added.
While it is now closed, the Chernobyl plant requires electricity for cooling, ventilation and fire extinguishing systems, according to The Washington Post.
Ukrenergo wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday that emergency diesel generators on-site to supply power to critical systems have been turned on, though the fuel is only enough for 48 hours.
Authorities of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol have begun burying the city’s dead in a mass grave, according to The Associated Press.
Individual burials have been halted due to continued bombardment in the city, creating overflowing morgues and unidentified bodies, according to the news outlet. Officials in Mariupol decided to place remains in a mass grave.
Ukraine is banning the export of grains and other products that are vital to the global food supply amid Russia’s assault on the country.
The government has put a ban on exporting wheat, oats, millet, buckwheat, sugar, live cattle, meat and other products, The Associated Press reported.
KFC parent company, Yum! Brands, announced Tuesday that it is suspending its operation of KFCs in Russia that are company-owned, as well as all Pizza Hut restaurants.
Russia on Wednesday said it did not attend a hearing for a lawsuit brought on by Ukraine because it was “absurd.”
Ukraine has sued Russia in the World Court due to the attack on its country that began almost two weeks ago, Reuters reported.
Lawmakers are including $13.6 billion in Ukraine-related aid in a massive government funding bill that is expected to get a vote in the House on Wednesday.
The agreement, details of which were released early Wednesday morning, would provide new humanitarian assistance and military aid in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The brave, freedom-loving people of Ukraine and our allies in the region will receive urgently needed investments to fight Vladimir Putin and the Russians’ illegal and immoral invasion,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
The Kremlin on Wednesday said that the U.S. has declared an “economic war” on Moscow with its actions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The comments by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov came after President Biden announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would no longer import Russian oil, Reuters reported.
“The situation demands a rather deep analysis — those decisions announced by President Biden,” Peskov said. “If you are asking me what Russia is going to do — Russia is going to do what is necessary to defend its interests.”
Airbnb on Wednesday announced that it will be partnering with the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide Ukraine refugees with shelter amid Russia’s invasion into the country.
Under the program, short-term housing will be provided in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Moldova to those seeking shelter.
Poland said on Wednesday that it wants to work with NATO countries to send fighter jets to Ukraine one day after the U.S. rejected Poland’s proposal.
“Such a serious decision as supplying planes must be unanimous and unequivocally made by the whole North Atlantic alliance,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference, Reuters reported.
Russia on Wednesday announced a new cease-fire in Ukraine, allowing citizens to flee the war-torn country.
The cease-fire follows a similar announcement on Tuesday, when Russia said it would allow Ukrainian civilians to pass safely through Chernihiv, Sumy, Mariupol, Kyiv and Kharkiv. However, the only safe corridor allowing people to leave was opened in Sumy on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk reportedly agreed to the Wednesday cease-fire, halting fire from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. to allow safe passage through six corridors.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that evacuation efforts are underway in the capital city of Kyiv almost two weeks into Russia’s invasion.
The popular president highlighted the difficulties of the evacuation as Russian forces keep firing on agreed upon humanitarian corridors that would allow people to leave Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
Zelensky, speaking in Russian, used his address to tell Russian soldiers to leave Ukraine and go back to Russia, according to the AP.
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