What to know about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has become the face of his country’s spirited defense against Russian aggression. Throughout the conflict, he has sought to reassure his people by providing selfie-style video updates in Ukraine and even offering words of encouragement during dire moments.
In spite of his calming presence, CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams reported Monday there are “grave fears” for Zelensky’s safety. Zelensky himself said he and his family are Russia’s top targets. Yet, even in the face of danger, he reportedly told U.S. officials, “I need ammunition, not a ride” after they offered to transport him to safety – and it has become a signature tagline associated with the president.
As anti-war protests worldwide popped up in many major cities, he has become a resistance symbol against Russian President Vladimir Putin at those rallies. But before he got into politics, Zelensky was used to the spotlight in the homes of Ukrainians.
U.N. General Assembly emergency session hears overwhelming global support for Ukraine
The United Nations General Assembly began meeting on Monday for a rare Emergency Special Session to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. and Albania requested a Sunday Security Council meeting to vote to convene the emergency General Assembly session, the first of its kind in 40 years and only the 11th such session in U.N. history.
At the special session, leaders condemned Russia’s military attacks on Ukraine. Switzerland, which traditionally stays neutral and has been known as a safe haven for global finance, announced that it will impose the same sanctions as the European Union and blocked the travel of five oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine, U.N. estimates
The United Nations estimates more than half a million people have already fled Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.
Some Ukrainians have been waiting in the freezing cold for days in a line that now stretches more than 20 miles long, longing to reach safety across the border in Poland. At Lviv’s main train station in Western Ukraine, thousands are trying desperately to get out.
But these scenes aren’t just limited to the border with Poland — virtually all of Ukraine’s European neighbors are taking in refugees.
The European Union fears there could eventually be more than seven million displaced people.
States ban Russian liquor, divest pension funds over Ukraine invasion
Seeking to tighten the financial squeeze on Russia over its war against Ukraine, governors and lawmakers in numerous U.S. states were taking actions Monday to pull state investments from Russian companies while encouraging private entities to do the same.
The effect of sanctions by U.S. states often pales in comparison to national ones, but state officials said they wanted to show solidarity with Ukraine and do what they could to build upon the penalties imposed on Russia by the U.S. government and other Western nations.
On Monday, the Indiana House passed legislation that would block Russian-controlled businesses and nonprofits from acquiring property in Indiana for one year. It now goes to the Senate.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order Sunday forbidding her state from doing business with Russia.
Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. alleges Russia used a thermobaric weapon
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States alleged that Russia used a thermobaric weapon on Monday. Thermobaric weapons, also known as “vacuum bombs,” are one of the most devastating weapons short of nuclear weapons, CBS News’ Charlie D’Agata reported.
Ambassador Oksana Markarova said the alleged use of the weapon demonstrated that “the devastation Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large.”
For Ukrainians, home is no longer safe. But some are staying.
As scores of people flee Ukraine, seeking safety from Russian gunfire, tanks and rockets, some have stayed behind. Mariya Kaprinska and her husband Myrolav Karpinskyy own a hotel in Stryi, and she said within the first two days of Russia’s invasion, they were fully booked.
She said many of the guests are merely making a stop on their way out of the country. “The first thing [guests] ask is where to hide,” Kaprinksa told CBS News. “They are checking in the room, they ask, ‘Is there a place to hide?’ We show them the basement.”
Russian people may not withstand “economic siege,” experts say
The crippling sanctions imposed on Russia are already wreaking havoc on the lives of ordinary Russians, who can only expect things to worsen in the days and weeks ahead, experts say.
The measures announced by the U.S. and its allies over the weekend include targeting the ability of Russia’s central bank to support the country’s currency, the ruble, which fell about 30% against the U.S. dollar on Monday to less than 1 cent. It regained some ground after Russia’s central bank more than doubled its key interest rate to 20% to shore up the currency.
The developments had Russians facing the prospect of higher prices and curtailed foreign travel as the ruble’s plunge had nervous depositors flocking to banks and ATMs. Posts on social media relayed reports of long lines and machines running out of cash.
U.S. expels 12 Russian diplomats at U.N. for “espionage activities”
The United States has ordered the expulsion of 12 diplomats from Russia’s Mission to the United Nations for engaging in “espionage activities” that are harmful to U.S. national security, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations announced Monday.
“The United States has informed the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations that we are beginning the process of expelling 12 intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security,” the spokeswoman, Olivia Dalton, said in a statement. “We are taking this action in accordance with the UN Headquarters Agreement. This action has been in development for several months.”
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia received word of the expulsions through a phone call he received while participating in a press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York and said the Russian U.N. diplomats — whose identities he did not know — were instructed to leave the U.S. by March 7.
-Melissa Quinn, Pamela Falk
Biden says Americans should not be worried about nuclear war
President Biden said Monday that Americans should not be concerned about a nuclear war after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday put his nuclear deterrent forces on alert.
Mr. Biden answered “no” when asked by CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes whether Americans should be worried about nuclear war as he was leaving a White House event marking Black History Month.
Putin escalated tensions with the West with the order to his military leaders to put the country’s nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty” in response to what he claimed are “aggressive statements” from NATO members and financial sanctions from the U.S. and its European allies.
A senior defense official told reporters Monday that the Pentagon has not yet seen specific movements as a result of Putin’s order. The official said the U.S. remains “confident in our own posture.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Monday’s press briefing the U.S. is “assessing President Putin’s directive and at this time see no reason to change our own alert levels.” She noted that the U.S. and Russia have in the past agreed the use of nuclear weapons would have “devastating consequences” and “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
“Provocative rhetoric like this regarding nuclear weapons is dangerous, adds to the risk of miscalculation, should be avoided,” Psaki said.
International Criminal Court prosecutor plans to open war crimes probe
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he plans to open an investigation “as rapidly as possible” into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement Monday night that the investigation will look at alleged crimes committed before the Russian invasion, but added that “given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, it is my intention that this investigation will also encompass any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of my office that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine.”
The court already has conducted a preliminary probe into crimes linked to the violent suppression of pro-European protests in Kyiv in 2013-2014 and allegations of crimes in Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and eastern Ukraine.
IOC calls for excluding Russian and Belarusian athletes from events
The International Olympic Committee recommended Monday that all international sports federations and event organizers not invite or allow Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.
The IOC’s executive board said in a statement that organizing sports bodies worldwide should “do everything in their power to ensure that no athlete or sports official from Russia or Belarus be allowed to take part under the name of Russia or Belarus.”
The Olympic body also withdrew golden Olympic Order awards from Russian President Vladimir Putin and other members of his government.
Monday’s recommendation comes after the IOC urged organizers Friday to not hold any sports event in Russia or Belarus.
The executive board “reaffirms its full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Community,” the IOC said. “They are in our hearts and thoughts.”
The Met Opera to stop working with artists who have ties to Putin
The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is vowing to stop engaging with artists or institutions supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Metropolitan Opera opens its heart to the victims of the unprovoked war in Ukraine and salutes the heroism of the Ukrainian people,” the Met’s General Manager Peter Gelb said in a video shared on Facebook.
Gelb said Putin “seems intent on the destruction of Ukraine, its people and all personal freedom in Ukraine and Russia.”
World’s largest cargo plane destroyed by Russian strikes
The largest cargo plane in the world — Ukraine’s Antonov-225 — was destroyed by Russian strikes outside Kyiv on the fourth day of Moscow’s invasion, Ukraine’s state-owned Ukroboronprom group said.
“Russian invaders destroyed the flagship of the Ukrainian aviation, the AN-225” at the Antonov airport in Gostomel near Kyiv, the group said in a statement Sunday. The group said at the time of invasion, the aircraft was under repair, so it did not have time to be moved out of Ukraine.
The aircraft was unique to the world. At 276 feet long, it could transport up to 551,000 pounds of cargo at a speed of up to 528 mph.
It had been named “Mriya,” which means “dream” in Ukrainian.
Musk activates free Starlink internet service in Ukraine
SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk is providing free satellite-based internet service in Ukraine through his company Starlink.
Starlink is a growing network of small satellites that SpaceX has been building out since 2018 to supply broadband internet access around the globe. The Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, appealed to Musk in a tweet Saturday, asking him to extend Starlink’s high-speed broadband internet services to the besieged country.
Lt. Col. Vindman: West must not bend to Putin’s “nuclear saber-rattling”
Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who served as the European affairs director for the National Security Council, told “CBS Mornings” Monday that Russia placing its nuclear forces on high alert is familiar to Kremlin watchers.
“Vladimir Putin is hoping through his nuclear saber-rattling that he’ll put us back on our heels, get us to be deeply concerned about the potential for nuclear escalation. But of course, for those in government, they understand that … we’ve had to deal with this threat throughout the Cold War, throughout the Soviet period, for generations,” Vindman said, “and that we had to respond to Russia’s belligerence and stay firm in supporting our national security interests. That’s part of it, is just not to bend because of the nuclear saber-rattling, because we’ve seen it before.”
Russians suspended from international soccer
Russian teams have been suspended from international soccer.
The decision came Monday from FIFA and UEFA, saying Russia’s national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice.”
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”
UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.
The move comes as the International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including soccer’s World Cup. The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.
Russia says talks with Ukraine will continue
An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was an agreement to hold another round of talks with Ukrainian officials.
Vladimir Medinsky headed the Russian delegation in Belarus. He said the first round of talks Monday lasted nearly five hours and the two sides “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, gave few details except to say that the talks, held near the Ukraine-Belarus border, were focused on a possible ceasefire and that a second round could take place “in the near future.”
“The next meeting will take place in the coming days on the Polish-Belarusian border, there is an agreement to that effect,” Medinsky said.
“I’m afraid for her life”: Ukrainian mom marks daughter’s 3rd birthday as Russian shells explode outside
On Saturday, the third day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a mother in Ukraine’s second largest city struggled to make her little girl feel special on her birthday. As the sounds of explosions and gunfire reverberated through their window in Kharkiv, mom Lyudmyla stuck a big silver “3” into the top of a little cake on a heart-shaped plate.
“She fell asleep to the sound of [artillery] volleys and is frightened that this is becoming something of a routine,” Lyudmyla wrote on Instagram. “The worst thing is not that I didn’t buy her a present and couldn’t celebrate her birthday, but the fact that I’m afraid for her life.”
Lyudmyla told CBS News on Monday that Russia’s attack on her country had left her “exhausted.”
“I want the world to know that Russia really attacked our cities and our people,” she told CBS News. “A lot of our children are dying, and it’s really terrible.”
Ukraine’s government says at least 16 children are among the more than 300 civilians killed since Russia began its attack late last week. A regional official said 11 people were killed overnight in the shelling of Kharkiv alone.
No signs Belarusian soldiers are in Ukraine to back Russians, U.S. defense official says
A U.S. defense official said Monday morning that there are no indications that Belarusian soldiers have entered or are preparing to enter Ukraine in support of Russia’s invasion.
The Pentagon’s best information is that the forces inside Ukraine as part of the Russian invasion are all Russians, the official said.
Nearly 75% of the combat power the Russians had assembled on the borders of Ukraine have now been committed inside Ukraine, according to the official.
The Russians advancing on Kyiv have moved about 5 kilometers (just over 3 miles) in the past day and are 25 kilometers (over 15.5 miles) from the city center. The Pentagon believes these forces will try to encircle Kyiv from multiple directions in the next couple of days, the official said.
The advance “remains slowed,” according to the official, because of two main factors: the stiff resistance from the Ukrainians and the Russians’ own logistic and sustainment problems, like running out of fuel.
Thousands of protesters arrested in Russia as sanctions take toll
More than 5,000 demonstrators have been arrested in Russia since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade Ukraine last week, according to the Russian human rights media project OVD-Info.
The protests come as Russians begin to face long lines at banks, one of many signs the country’s economy is plummeting under the pressure of widening sanctions from the West.
Many Russians are feeling unnerved as they worry that their usual way of life is ending, perhaps very soon, CBS News’ Mary Ilyushina reported Monday from Moscow. They’re also worried that they might not be able to get out of the country or even buy some foreign products.
Those concerns come despite censorship and disinformation about what’s really going on in Ukraine. Russian state media have not been showing Russian forces attacking Kyiv or Kharkiv, the two largest cities in Ukraine, and still describe the invasion as a special military operation in the eastern region of Donbas, Ilyushina reports.
Kyiv residents gather to make molotov cocktails, “to be ready for everything”
Around 20 volunteers gathered in Kyiv on Monday to make molotov cocktails, preparing to defend their city against Russian troops any way they can. They brought gas, oil, bottles and old bed sheets, which they tore into strips together.
“In the ordinary civilian days, we would organize a sporting event,” one volunteer named Andriy told CBS News. “Today, we had to change our plans. One of my friends called us to come here. He invited everybody who is not indifferent to the future of our country. Today we work helping our guys to make molotov cocktails and believe in our victory.”
They made hundreds of the makeshift incendiary bombs and then loaded them onto a truck to distribute to territorial defense forces around the city.
“I’m helping the territorial defense, helping Ukraine get a victory against our occupiers,” a volunteer named Tetyana told CBS News. She was deeply skeptical of Monday’s first diplomatic contact between her country and Russia, as delegations met just across the Ukrainian border in Belarus.
“These negotiations seem like they’re more for media, for Russia to present itself as good – that they’re ready for dialogue. But it seems to me like it’s more for show. That’s why we are getting ready,” she said. “It’s better to be ready for everything.”
Russia says it expects talks with Ukraine “will lead to the desired results”
France’s President Emmanuel Macron spoke Monday with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and “reiterated the request of the international community to end the Russian offensive against Ukraine.”
According to a statement about the conversation provided by France’s Elysee presidential palace, Macron asked Putin to respect three primary concerns from the international community: “A halt to all strikes and attacks against civilians and places of residence; preservation of all civil infrastructure and; securing the main roads, in particular the road south of” Ukraine’s capital city.
The French presidential office said Putin had “confirmed his willingness to commit to these three points.”
Putin’s regime has insisted for days, since it started firing missiles at Ukraine’s biggest cities, that it is only hitting military targets. He and his top aides have accused “neo-Nazi” and “nationalist” leaders in Ukraine of using human shields, but CBS News has witnessed damage to residential buildings from Russian rockets in Kyiv.
According to a Kremlin readout of Monday’s phone call between Moscow and Paris, Putin told Macron that a ceasefire would be “possible only if Russia’s legitimate security interests are unconditionally taken into account, including the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the solution of the tasks of demilitarizing and denazification of the Ukrainian state and ensuring its neutral status.”
“At the same time,” the Kremlin said, “it was noted that the Russian side is open to negotiations with representatives of Ukraine and expects that they will lead to the desired results.”
Russian and Ukrainian representatives were meeting Monday just over the Ukrainian border in Belarus for the first direct talks between the countries since Russia’s invasion.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians pour into Poland seeking safety from Russia’s bombardment
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have already escaped Russia’s bombardment of their country into neighboring nations, and many thousands more are still trying to get out. Many have walked for miles to get to the nearest border, where they find extremely long lines.
The United Nations refugee agency says as many as 4 million people could be displaced by the fighting.
As CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay reported, Poland, which sits on Ukraine’s western border, has already allowed more than 200,000 Ukrainians to enter. Livesay said a logjam at a border checkpoint in the Ukrainian city of Krakovets clearly showed the heart-breaking reality for Ukrainians trying to flee bloodshed at home.
He saw dozens of people lined up waiting for food — after waiting for days just to get out of Ukraine.
“We knew that it would be something like war,” said one refugee, “but we didn’t know that it would be actually, on our whole Ukraine, war.”
Governor says 11 civilians killed by Russian shelling of Ukraine’s 2nd largest city
A regional leader in Ukraine’s second biggest city, Kharkiv, said Monday that at least 11 civilians were killed and dozens injured by Russian shelling of the city.
“The Russian enemy is bombing residential areas,” regional governor Oleg Sinegubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app, saying: “As a result of the bombardments that are ongoing, we cannot call on the emergency services… currently there are 11 dead and dozens wounded.”
As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata reported from the capital Kyiv, Russian forces are battling to take over Ukraine’s biggest cities. But so far, they’ve failed — held off by the much smaller Ukrainian military.
Ukraine’s army said it fought off attempts overnight by Russian forces to storm the outskirts of the capital, but overall, D’Agata said the last couple nights had been quieter in Kyiv despite Ukrainian troops fighting running street battles with Russian forces.
There was fear that dark days were still ahead, however, with Russia’s aerial bombardment continuing, and a three-mile long convoy of Russian reinforcements massed outside the capital.
British-Russian media mogul urges Putin to stop the war
The Russian owner of one of Britain’s leading newspapers on Monday urged President Vladimir Putin to withdraw from Ukraine, to prevent further bloodshed and war with Europe.
Evgeny Lebedev, who is also a British citizen, said Europe was “on the brink of another world war” while the world faced “a possible nuclear disaster”.
In an open letter to Putin in his London Evening Standard, Lebedev said: “I plead with you to use today’s negotiations to bring this terrible conflict in Ukraine to an end.
“As a Russian citizen I plead with you to stop Russians killing their Ukrainian brothers and sisters,” he added in the freesheet. “As a British citizen I ask you to save Europe from war. As a Russian patriot I plead that you prevent any more young Russian soldiers from dying needlessly. As a citizen of the world I ask you to save the world from annihilation.”
Lebedev is the son of a former KGB officer turned oligarch, Alexander Lebedev, and is a member of Britain’s House of Lords.
Neutral Switzerland joins U.S. and its EU neighbors in sanctioning Russia
Traditionally neutral Switzerland will adopt all the sanctions that the European Union (EU) has already imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said Monday.
“This is a big step for Switzerland,” Cassis told a press conference after the neutral Alpine nation hesitated for days over whether to join the international move to sanction Moscow over the attack on its neighbor.
Switzerland’s justice minister later said five oligarchs deemed to be close to Vladimir Putin would also be barred from entering the country.
The 27 members of the EU, along with the U.S., Japan and other countries, have hit Putin’s regime with the most severe economic sanctions wielded in living memory over the Russian leader’s deadly attack on Ukraine. Switzerland is not a member of the EU or NATO, and has remained a neutral nation in global conflicts for centuries.
Russia’s ruble crashes as West tightens sanctions
Russia’s currency was sent tumbling on Monday morning as Western nations agreed to put crippling sanctions on the country’s financial sector in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.
The ruble fell about 30% against the dollar on Monday — making it worth less than 1 U.S. cent — after the U.S., European Union and United Kingdom announced moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system and to restrict Russia’s use of its massive foreign currency reserves. The system is used to move billions of dollars around more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions around the world.
The ruble recovered ground after Russia’s central bank sharply raised its key interest rate Monday to shore up the currency and prevent a run on banks. But it was trading at a record low 105.27 per dollar, down from about 84 per dollar late Friday.
U.S. expands sanctions with new action against Russia’s Central Bank
The Biden administration targeted Russia’s Central Bank and other entities with additional economic penalties Monday, prohibiting U.S. citizens from participating in any transactions with the Central Bank, Russia’s National Wealth Fund and the Russian Ministry of Finance.
The move, the latest from the U.S. to impose severe costs on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, “effectively immobilizes” any Central Bank assets held in the U.S., the Treasury Department said.
“The unprecedented action we are taking today will significantly limit Russia’s ability to use assets to finance its destabilizing activities, and target the funds Putin and his inner circle depend on to enable his invasion of Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
The U.S. also sanctioned the Russian Direct Investment Fund, its CEO Kirill Dmitriev, and two other entities that the Treasury Department said were “critical” to managing one of Russia’s key sovereign wealth funds.
A senior administration official told reporters Monday that the measures against Russia’s Central Bank effectively freeze $630 billion in foreign currency reserves.
U.S. stops operations at embassy in Belarus, clears most staff at Moscow embassy to leave Russia
The U.S. State Department said Monday that it had suspended all operations at the U.S. Embassy in Belarus’ capital of Minsk amid reports the Russian ally was poised to send its own troops to back up Russia’s huge force invading neighboring Ukraine.
The announcement said the U.S. had also authorized non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and their families to leave Russia.
“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The State Department’s decision to close its embassy in Minsk came amid reports that Belarus was preparing to send forces into Ukraine in support of Russia’s invasion as soon as Monday. A U.S. official said it was “very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin,” according to the Washington Post.
A senior administration official told reporters Monday morning that if Belarus continued to “aid and abet Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, they will also face consequences.”
The U.S. and United Kingdom have already imposed limited sanctions on Belarus.
– Melissa Quinn, Tucker Reals
Nervous Kyiv residents venture out to stock up after weekend sheltering from Russian missiles
Kyiv residents were allowed out of their houses Monday morning for the first time since Saturday night, when the local government — bracing for an escalation of Russia’s siege on the city — said anyone out on the streets would be treated as an enemy.
CBS News visited a grocery store and saw lines down the street, with people waiting hours to get inside. There were already bare shelves early in the morning, but the atmosphere was generally calm and people did not appear to be buying more than they needed.
“Maybe it’s going to feel a little better if you have some food in your fridge,” Alex Budin, a Ukrainian who lives in Los Angeles but was visiting home when the Russian invasion began, told CBS News. “It’s all about that right now. Simple things.”
Natalia, 22, was also waiting to get whatever she could in the store. She told CBS News the situation inflicted on her country by Russia’s attack was “the worst thing ever, which would ever, ever, ever happen to anyone,” and she hoped the world would offer as much help as possible, and “stop Russia from attacking us.”
UN refugee agency says more than 368,000 people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries
The United Nations refugee agency said Sunday that the number of people who have fled over Ukraine’s borders into neighboring countries to escape Russia’s attack had reached 368,000, “and continues to rise.”
The number who have entered Poland alone, fleeing across Ukraine’s western frontier, stood at about 156,000 people, the Polish border guard said on Sunday.
The guard noted, however, that some 22,000 people had gone in the opposite direction as of Sunday – many of them Ukrainians who had been abroad but decided to return to help defend their country.
Airbnb boss says company working to house up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees
Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, said Monday that the company would provide free housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
“All stays are free for refugees, funded by Airbnb, Airbnb.org donors and through the generosity of Hosts,” he said in a series of tweets announcing his company’s latest humanitarian gesture.
He urged people who were not members of the property rental company or could not help refugees directly to donate to Airbnb’s charitable foundation, Airbnb.org.
In August last year, as Afghanistan fell back into the hands of Taliban rulers and thousands fled that country, Chesky said Airbnb.org would provide free lodging for 20,000 Afghan refugees.
“Show this to Putin,” says doctor unable to save Ukrainian girl wounded in Russian shelling
In the port city of Mariupol, where Ukrainians are trying to fend off a Russian advance, an ambulance raced into a city hospital Sunday carrying a 6-year-old girl mortally injured in Russian shelling. She was pale. Her brown hair was pulled back with a rubber band. Her bloody pyjama pants were decorated with cartoon unicorns. She was brought in with her wounded father, his head bloodied and bandaged.
A medical team pumped her chest, fighting desperately to revive her. Her mother stood outside the ambulance, weeping. A doctor in blue medical scrubs, pumping oxygen into her, looked straight at the camera of an Associated Press video journalist who had been allowed inside.
“Show this to Putin,” he said angrily. “The eyes of this child, and crying doctors.”
The girl, whose name was not immediately known, could not be saved.
Zelensky asks European Union to grant Ukraine “immediate” membership
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was not personally taking part in the talks with the Russian delegation, called early Monday on the European Union to urgently consider admitting his country as a member of the bloc.
“We appeal to the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession under a new special procedure,” Zelensky said in a video statement posted to his Facebook page. “We are grateful to our partners for being with us. But our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal. I’m sure that’s fair. I am sure we deserve it. I am sure that all this is possible.
The Ukrainian leader said his country had the “full right” to make the request because Europe understood that Ukraine’s troops were fighting “for our country and, consequently, for the whole of Europe. For peace for all European countries, for the lives of children, for equality, for democracy.”
Charles Michel, head of the EU’s governing European Council, said Monday there were “different opinions and sensitivities within” the 27-nation bloc on admitting new members. He said Ukraine would have to submit a formal request to join, which members would then consider before declaring a unanimous position.
– Haley Ott, Tucker Reals
U.N. Security Council to hold rare emergency special session of full General Assembly
The United Nations General Assembly will meet Monday for a rare Emergency Special Session to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The U.S. and Albania requested a Sunday Security Council meeting to vote to convene the emergency General Assembly session, the first of its kind in 40 years and only the 11th such session in U.N. history.
The 15-member Security Council approved the General Assembly emergency session with 11 votes in favor and 3 abstentions, with only Russia voting against it. Russia’s no vote did not prevent the measure from being adopted since it was a procedural vote.
The vote was the latest U.N. effort to isolate Russia diplomatically — there is not much the Security Council can do that would be enforceable during the conflict in Ukraine because Russia holds veto power as one of five permanent Council members.
U.S. ambassador to U.N. says Putin’s order to put nuclear forces on alert “totally unacceptable”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his country’s nuclear forces on alert represented an escalation of its aggression against Ukraine that is “totally unacceptable.”
“President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable, and we have to continue to condemn his actions in the strongest possible way,” Thomas-Greenfield said in an interview with “Face the Nation” Sunday when asked about Putin’s directive. “Our voices have been unified with the Europeans and with the world that he needs to cease his aggressive actions toward Ukraine. And we will continue here at the United Nations and around the world to use every possible lever we have at our disposal to expose his actions.”
In televised comments during a meeting with top officials, Putin directed his military leaders to put the Russian nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty,” citing what he claimed were “aggressive statements” from NATO members and sweeping financial sanctions from the U.S. and Western leaders imposed on him and Russian financial institutions.
Russian advance slowed by Ukrainian resistance and logistical setbacks, U.S. defense official says
The Russian forces invading Ukraine have faced more resistance than the U.S. believes Russia anticipated, a senior defense official said Sunday morning. The Russian forces have advanced toward three cities, including Kyiv, but have not yet captured a city since invading, the official said.
“The Ukrainians are putting up a very stiff and brave and heroic resistance, but we are only in Day Four, and I would be reluctant to provide an estimate of how many more days there are and what those days are going to look like,” the official told CBS News.
The U.S. Defense Department estimated on Sunday that about two-thirds of the combat power Russia had arrayed around Ukraine’s borders was committed inside Ukraine. That left about one-third that had yet to enter the country — a significant amount of power still at the ready.
The Russian advances on both Kharkiv and Kyiv have been slowed by fuel and logistical shortages and by the stiff and “creative” resistance by the Ukrainians, according to the official.
Most of Russia’s advance forces were still about 19 miles north of central Kyiv on Sunday, Western intelligence indicated, which is about where they were on Saturday.