Russia-Ukraine (March 14): EU Imposes 4th Set of Sanctions Against Russia for War

The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, March 14. Click here for updates from March 13.

EU Imposes 4th Set of Sanctions Against Russia for War

The European Union announced late Monday that the 27-nation bloc has approved a new set of sanctions to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

France, which holds the E.U. presidency, said the bloc “in consultation with our international partners, has approved a fourth package of sanctions targeting individuals and entities involved in the aggression against Ukraine, as well as several sectors of the Russian economy.”

The French presidency said in a statement that the bloc also approved a declaration to the World Trade Organization “on suspending the application of the most-favored-nation clause for Russia and suspending the examination of Belarus’ application for accession to the WTO.”

If Russia is suspended, its companies would no longer receive special treatment throughout the bloc.
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NATO Chief Says Russia May Use Chemical or Biological Weapons in Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on March 13 that Russia might use chemical or biological weapons in the fight with Ukraine, which the head of the alliance said would amount to a war crime.

“In recent days, we have heard absurd claims about chemical and biological weapons laboratories,” Stoltenberg said during an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, adding that he believes the Kremlin is trying to create a false pretext to justify the unjustifiable.

Stoltenberg’s warning came as Russian officials claimed on March 7 that the U.S. military has been involved with the development of chemical or biological weapons in laboratories across Ukraine, a project backed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

“Now that these false claims have been made, we must remain vigilant because it is possible that Russia itself could plan chemical weapons operations under this fabrication of lies. That would be a war crime,” the NATO head said.

Read the full article here.
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Ukrainian President to Virtually Address US Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will deliver a virtual address to members of both chambers of the U.S. Congress on March 16 to provide an update on the Russian invasion.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the meeting in a March 14 joint letter to their congressional colleagues.

“The Congress, our country, and the world are in awe of the people of Ukraine, who have shown extraordinary courage, resilience and determination in the face of Russia’s unprovoked, vicious, and illegal war,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote.

“As war rages on in Ukraine, it is with great respect and admiration for the Ukrainian people that we invite all Members of the House and Senate to attend a Virtual Address to the United States Congress delivered by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Wednesday, March 16th at 9:00 a.m.

Read the full article here.
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UN Chief Warns Nuclear War in ‘Realm of Possibility’ Over Ukraine

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday that the prospect of a nuclear war is now “within the realm of possibility” as Russia continues its weekslong invasion of Ukraine.

Two weeks ago, the U.N. chief said at the time that the concept of a nuclear conflict is “inconceivable,” but he noted that the Kremlin’s decision to place its nuclear forces on high alert was a “chilling development.”

Days after Russian forces entered Ukraine on Feb. 24, President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s nuclear deterrent forces to be placed on a heightened state of alert. Putin said it was due to economic sanctions imposed by Western countries on his country.

Read the full article here.
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The First Humanitarian Convoy Flees Besieged Mariupol

The humanitarian crisis remains bleak in Ukraine, and more than 2.8 million people have fled.

Moscow on Monday allowed the first convoy to escape besieged Mariupol, home to the worst humanitarian crisis of the conflict.

“In the first two hours, 160 cars left,” Andrei Rempel, a representative of the Mariupol city council told Reuters.

“The city continues to be bombed but this road is not being shelled.”

But local authorities say as many as 2,500 civilians have died so far, a toll that cannot be independently confirmed.

Russia says it does not target civilians.

But Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, later said Russia had yet again blocked a humanitarian aid convoy trying to reach the city with supplies.

Obtaining safe passage for aid to reach Mariupol and civilians to get out has been Kyiv’s main demand at several rounds of talks. All previous attempts at a local ceasefire in the area have failed.

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World Court to Rule in Ukraine Case Against Russia on March 16

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday said it would rule in the case that Ukraine has brought against Russia on March 16.

In a hearing which was boycotted by Russia on March 7, Ukraine asked the court to order Russia to cease military activities because it said the invasion was based on a faulty interpretation of the U.N. genocide treaty.

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Parliament of NATO Country Estonia Calls for ‘Immediate’ Establishment of No-Fly Zone

The parliament of Estonia on Monday called for U.N. member states to “take immediate steps to establish a no-fly zone” over Ukraine to prevent further civilian casualties as Russia’s multi-front war against the country rages on.

Estonia is the first NATO member nation to formally call for the implementation of a no-fly zone amid Russia’s ongoing invasion.

“The Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) expresses its support to the defenders and the people of the state of Ukraine in their fight against the Russian Federation that has launched a criminal war, and calls on showing absolute support to Ukraine in its war for maintaining its freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Estonia’s parliament said in a statement Monday.

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Spain Asks China to Use Influence to End War

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said Monday that he has asked his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to use Beijing’s influence over Moscow to end the war in Ukraine.

“We are at a historical moment that requires responsibility and vision of all world leaders,” Albares told Wang during a telephone conversation on Monday, according to a statement from the ministry.

It said that Albares condemned “the Russian aggression on Ukraine” by telling Wang that “Russia has undermined the foundations of peace and stability in Europe and threatens the international community.”

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Mariupol Evacuation Underway After Multiple Prior Ceasefire Failures: Mayor’s Adviser

Evacuation of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol is underway after multiple prior failures to secure a ceasefire that would allow for the safe operation of a humanitarian corridor, according to an adviser to the city’s mayor.

Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, said in a Monday post on Facebook that, as of 1 p.m. local time, a ceasefire was being observed along a corridor leading out of the city toward Zaporizhia.

“Let’s help everyone out! Call, write to everyone whom you reach!” he wrote, while cautioning that local Ukrainian authorities are unable to officially guarantee safety down the corridor.

Still, he said that the evacuation route was operational and that residents are able to leave using their own modes of transport. He said around 160 vehicles had already managed to depart Mariupol via the corridor.

Read the full article here.
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Putin Spokesman: Russia’s Invasion Going According to Plan

The top Kremlin spokesman said Monday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is still going according to plan and “within the timeframe” that was “approved in advance.”

“The Russian armed forces are using modern high-precision weapons, hitting only military information infrastructure facilities. All plans of the Russian leadership will be implemented in full within the timeframe approved in advance,” asserted Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, to state-run media.

Peskov declined to comment on how long the war, described by Russia’s government as a “special military operation,” will last. Peskov also appeared to dispute a significant number of reports and claims from Ukrainian officials who said Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure, including hospitals.

Read the full article here.
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Ukraine, Russia Negotiations Concluded but Will Resume on Tuesday

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said talks with Russia had concluded for the day Monday but will resume on Tuesday.

The two countries held negotiations by video link for the first time on March 10 in what is considered the fourth round of talks after three largely fruitless meetings held in person on the Belarusian border.

“A technical pause has been taken in the negotiations until tomorrow,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Negotiations continue.”

He said earlier that “communication is being held, yet it’s hard.”

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Kremlin Denies Media Reports Alleging That Russia Asked China for Military Assistance

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday denied media reports alleging that Russia asked China for military assistance to help advance its offensive in Ukraine.

“No, Russia has its own potential to continue the operation, which, as we have said, is unfolding in accordance with the plan and will be completed on time and in full,” Peskov told his daily conference call with reporters.

Peskov also stressed that the operation in Ukraine was going as planned and that the Russian military were ensuring “the maximum security of the civilian population.”

He added that “at the same time, the Defense Ministry, while ensuring the maximum security of the civilian population, does not rule out the possibility of taking full control of large settlements that are now practically surrounded, except for areas used for humanitarian evacuation.”

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Germany Won’t Provide Any Further Details About Weapons Supplies to Ukraine

The German government says it won’t provide any further details about weapons supplies to Ukraine.

Government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters Monday that “to avoid security risks” Germany would not divulge any more information on what arms are supplied to Ukraine or how.

Defense Ministry spokesman Arne Collatz added that “it is the goal of the Russian aggressors to cut Ukraine’s supply routes and make (their) defense harder, and we don’t want to facilitate this.”

Germany’s Transport Ministry said separately that it has switched off the online streams of cameras on the country’s highways for security reasons, but declined to elaborate.

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Ten Humanitarian Corridors Agreed for Monday: Ukrainian Deputy PM

Ukraine will try to evacuate trapped civilians through 10 “humanitarian corridors” on Monday, including from towns near the capital Kyiv and in the eastern region of Luhansk, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said.

“We will, once again, try to unblock the movement of the humanitarian convoy carrying food and medicine to {the port city of Mariupol) from Berdiansk (in southeastern Ukraine),” she said in a video address.

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Ukraine Peace Talks Begin

Ukraine said it had begun “hard” talks on a ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops, and security guarantees with Russia on Monday, despite the fatal shelling of a residential building in Kyiv.

Both sides reported rare progress at the weekend after earlier rounds have primarily focused on ceasefires to get aid to towns and cities under siege by Russian forces and evacuate civilians.

Posting online ahead of the talks, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak wrote: “Negotiations. 4th round. On peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees.” He later said discussions had started but were hard, because the political systems of Russia and Ukraine were too different.

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Chernobyl Powerline Damaged by Russian Forces Again After It Was Repaired

The Ukrainian state power company says the power line supplying the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster has been damaged by Russian forces again after it was repaired.

The Ukrenergo company said in a statement Monday that its technicians had started to supply power Sunday evening but “before the power supply was fully restored, the occupying forces damaged it again.” Ukrenergo said it will attempt another repair.

The power is used to feed pumps and other equipment which keep spent nuclear fuel at the former power plant cool to prevent radiation leaks.

The Chernobyl site is also equipped with diesel generators, and Belarusian authorities said last week that they had set up an emergency power supply from the nearby border.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has played down concerns over the safety of nuclear waste at Chernobyl, saying that cooling ponds there are large enough to keep the spent fuel in a safe condition even if the power supply is interrupted.

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Talks to Resume as Russia Pressures Ukrainian Capital Kyiv

Russia’s military forces kept up their punishing campaign to capture Ukraine’s capital with fighting and artillery fire in Kyiv’s suburbs Monday after an airstrike on a military base near the Polish border brought the war dangerously close to NATO’s doorstep.

A new round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials raised hopes that progress would be made in evacuating civilians from besieged Ukrainian cities and getting emergency supplies to areas without enough food, water, and medicine.

Air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns all around the country overnight, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west, as fighting continued on the outskirts of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled several suburbs of the capital, a major political and strategic target for an invasion in its 19th day.

Ukrainian authorities said two people died and seven were injured after Russian forces struck an airplane factory in Kyiv, sparking a large fire. The Antonov factory is Ukraine’s largest aircraft manufacturing plant and is best known for producing many of the world’s biggest cargo planes.

Russian artillery fire also hit a nine-story apartment building in a northern district of the city, killing two more people, authorities said. Firefighters worked to rescue survivors, painstakingly carrying an injured woman on a stretcher away from the blackened and still-smoking building.

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Ten Humanitarian Corridors Agreed for Monday: Ukrainian Deputy PM

Ukraine will try to evacuate trapped civilians through 10 “humanitarian corridors” on Monday, including from towns near the capital Kyiv and in the eastern region of Luhansk, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereschuk said.

“We will, once again, try to unblock the movement of the humanitarian convoy carrying food and medicine to {the port city of Mariupol) from Berdiansk (in southeastern Ukraine),” she said in a video address.

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US Official: Russia Seeking Military Aid From China

A U.S. official said Russia asked China for military equipment to use in its invasion of Ukraine, a request that heightened tensions about the ongoing war ahead of a Monday meeting in Rome between top aides representing the United States and China.

In advance of the talks, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan bluntly warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy. “We will not allow that to go forward,” he said. China in turn accused on Monday the United States of spreading “disinformation.”

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said the talks with the United States were underway around 11:50 a.m. Rome time (1050 GMT), but gave no other details.

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Russian Attacks in Western Ukraine Prompt More People to Flee

People fleeing what until recently had been the relative safety of western Ukraine joined thousands crossing into eastern Europe on Monday after Russia stepped up attacks, prompting fears of an even larger exodus.

Moscow widened its assault on Sunday with an attack on a base near the border with NATO member Poland. Ukraine said 35 people were killed at the base while Moscow said up to 180 “foreign mercenaries” died and a large number of foreign weapons were destroyed. Ukraine also reported renewed airstrikes on an airport in the west of the country.

With the war well into its third week, the number of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion has already reached 2.7 million, the U.N. data showed, in what has become Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War Two.

However, millions of people have also been displaced inside Ukraine, with many evacuated only as far as the western regions, including to cities like Lviv.

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Taiwan Says ASUS Will ‘Evacuate’ Russia After Ukraine Urges Exit

Taiwanese personal computer maker ASUS will consider its reputation and put in place a plan to “evacuate” its staff and business in Russia, Taiwan’s economy minister said on Monday, after a Ukraine minister asked it to leave the country.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and minister of digital transformation, tweeted a letter on Thursday to ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih calling on the company to end its business in Russia. Moscow has invaded Ukraine in what the Russian government calls a “special operation.”

“@ASUS, Russians have no moral right to use your brilliant technology! It’s for peace, not for war!” Fedorov added in a separate tweet.

Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua, asked about the letter, said Taiwan stands with other democracies and has taken action against Russia, but could not comment on what individual companies were doing.

The company, formally called ASUSTeK Computer Inc, did not respond to a request for comment.

Instagram Users in Russia Told Service Will Cease From Midnight

Instagram users in Russia have been notified that the service will cease from midnight on Sunday after its owner Meta Platforms said last week it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders.”

An email message from the state communications regulator told people to move their photos and videos from Instagram before it was shut down, and encouraged them to switch to Russia’s own “competitive internet platforms.”

Meta, which also owns Facebook, said on Friday that the temporary change in its hate speech policy applied only to Ukraine, in the wake of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces.”

The decision was greeted with outrage in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Meta and prosecutors on Friday asked a court to designate the U.S. tech giant as an “extremist organization.”

The head of Instagram has said the block will affect 80 million users. Russia has already banned Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform.

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Ukraine’s Largest Steel Firm Says Shells Hit Avdiivka Coke Plant

Ukraine’s largest steel company Metinvest said shells hit the territory of its Avdiivka coke plant on Sunday, damaging some of its facilities.

Earlier, the general prosecutor’s office said five rockets had hit the plant, which had already suspended operations in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Metinvest, majority-owned by Ukraine’s richest man and business magnate Rinat Akhmetov, said nobody was hurt in the shelling, which hit two coking shops and other areas.

The site’s thermal power plant, which supplies heat to the neighboring town of Avdiivka, has stopped working, it said.

Avdiivka is one of the largest coke plants in Europe and the major manufacturer of coke for steel-making in Ukraine.

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Ukraine Has Started Using Clearview AI’s Facial Recognition During War

Ukraine’s defense ministry on Saturday began using Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology, the company’s chief executive told Reuters, after the U.S. startup offered to uncover Russian assailants, combat misinformation, and identify the dead.

Ukraine is receiving free access to Clearview AI’s powerful search engine for faces, letting authorities potentially vet people of interest at checkpoints, among other uses, added Lee Wolosky, an adviser to Clearview and former diplomat under U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The plans started forming after Russia invaded Ukraine and Clearview Chief Executive Hoan Ton-That sent a letter to Kyiv offering assistance, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

Clearview said it had not offered the technology to Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense did not reply to requests for comment. Previously, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said it was considering offers from U.S.-based artificial intelligence companies like Clearview. Many Western businesses have pledged to help Ukraine, providing internet hardware, cybersecurity tools, and other support.

Tom Ozimek, Jack Phillips, Lorenz Duchamps, Joseph Lord, The Associated Press, Fox News, and Reuters contributed to this report.