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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Feb. 28


People walk near cars that were destroyed by recent shelling on the outskirts of Kyiv, Feb. 28, 2022.
People walk near cars that were destroyed by recent shelling on the outskirts of Kyiv, Feb. 28, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

For the latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all times EST:

11:30 p.m.: A top U.S. military general attended NATO’s Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence virtual meeting Monday to discuss “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which is undermining global security,” a readout from Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said. “The United States stands united with our Allies and partners to support Ukraine and to deter aggression against NATO. The United States’ commitment to defending NATO territory is ironclad and the United States will continue to bolster our posture to better defend our NATO Allies.”

10:30 p.m.: Australia announced plans to send missiles to Ukraine in an effort to help it resist the Russian invasion. The missiles are part of a $50 million support package. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the response comes after a call from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy asking for military support and “that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Morrison said. He said the aid included lethal and non-lethal support for the Ukrainian effort.

9:30 p.m.: Disney announced it will pause the release of new films in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming 'Turning Red' from Pixar,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement on Monday. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation.”

Warner Brothers also announced it would not release “The Batman” in Russia as had been planned.

Disney’s move affects films including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” which was slated for release on May 5 and Pixar's “Lightyear” set to be released on June 16, CNN reported.

7:03 p.m.: Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, told The Associated Press on Monday that equipment to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service has arrived in his country. Starlink is a satellite-based internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. It markets itself as “ideally suited” for areas where internet service is unreliable or unavailable, according to AP.

5:34 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy said on Monday it was time for the West to consider imposing a no-fly zone for Russian missiles, planes and helicopters in response to Russian shelling of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to a Reuters report.

5:22 p.m.: The United States said Monday that it was expelling 12 Russian diplomats based at Moscow's U.N. mission in New York for engaging in espionage activities.

US to Expel 12 Russian Diplomats at UN Mission for Spying
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5:19 p.m.: Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said Monday that Russia used a thermobaric weapon (vacuum bomb) on Monday in its invasion of Ukraine. "They used the vacuum bomb today, which is actually prohibited by the Geneva convention."

4:45 p.m.: VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports that the ICC prosecutor opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

3:55 p.m.: Supporters of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny called for a campaign of civil disobedience to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to Reuters.

3:50 p.m.: A nurse in Belarus says more Belarusian civilian hospitals, further away from the border, are being repurposed to receive Russian wounded — suggesting those nearer the border might be overwhelmed. She spoke with VOA's Jamie Dettmer in Ukraine.

3:42 p.m.: U.S. Mission to the United Nations Spokesperson Olivia Dalton released more information about the expulsion of 12 Russian diplomats from the U.S. "The United States has informed the United Nations and the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations that we are beginning the process of expelling twelve 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. We are taking this action in accordance with the U.N. Headquarters Agreement. This action has been in development for several months," she stated Monday.

3:30 p.m.: VOA's Margaret Besheer reports on a decision by the U.S. to initiate the expulsion of 12 Russian diplomats based in New York.

3:28 p.m.: This disturbing video is a segment from a live broadcast by Current Time in which Ukrainian doctors try frantically to save the life of a small girl after a Russian attack in Mariupol. Presenter Ksenia Sokolyanskaya warns viewers: "If you, like me, are not sure that you can control yourself, you had better not watch this video." Current Time is a Russian-language TV and digital network led by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in partnership with VOA.

3:00 p.m.: VOA's Heather Murdock in Kyiv says after a relatively quiet two days in the capital city, residents are locking down again Monday night in shelters as bombing resumes.

Residents Try to Flee Before Bombing Resumes in Kyiv
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2:50 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed Monday for the European Union to immediately admit Ukraine to the bloc, as the country battled a Russian invasion, VOA News reported. Zelenskyy posted photographs of himself on social media signing an application to join the 27-member nation EU. In a video, he said, "We appeal to the European Union for the urgent accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure." VOA's Myroslava Gongadze shared this tweet from Business Ukraine magazine.

2:47 p.m.: UNHCR reports that more than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine for neighboring countries.

Map: Ukrainians flee to other European countries after Russian invasion.
Map: Ukrainians flee to other European countries after Russian invasion.

2:39 p.m.: VOA's U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer shared Monday’s U.N. Humanitarian Update report on Ukraine with the latest facts and figures from the crisis.

2:36 p.m.: The Spectator Index reports that Moscow’s Stock Exchange will remain closed March 1.

2:28 p.m.: VOA’s Nike Ching reports that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak virtually at the U.N. Human Rights Council on March 1. He is expected to spell out clearly "the threat posed by Russia" and the council's attention is "needed on an urgent basis" after Russia's invasion in Ukraine.

2:20 p.m.: The Maxar Satellite company is reporting a massive armored column stretching 24 kilometers approaching Kyiv. At this time it is approximately 48 kilometers from the city limits, according to VOA correspondent Jamie Dettmer in Ukraine.

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the northern end of a convoy at the southeast of Ivankiv, north west of Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022.
This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows the northern end of a convoy at the southeast of Ivankiv, north west of Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2022.

2:04 p.m.: U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner spoke with the Washington Post Live Monday about the crisis in Ukraine. VOA’s Jeff Seldin monitored the conversation and has these excerpts.

1:52 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a phone call with Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, discussed further coordination and NATO unity in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

1:41 p.m.: VOA’s Jamie Dettmer, based in Ukraine, reports large explosions in Kyiv just hours after an initial round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian representatives ended. Ukrainian officials say they fear the tempo and intensity of bombardments on the capital will likely increase

1:23 p.m.: In photos: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, February 28, 2022.

1:06 p.m.: Die or get paid -- VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports that Ukraine is giving Russian soldiers a choice.

12:55 p.m.: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) posted a short video of the aftermath of a battle in Kyiv Monday. A bus riddled with bullet holes, burning vehicles, and corpses on the street -- these were the scenes filmed by RFE/RL Current Time reporters in Kyiv on February 28. Local people said the fighting occurred the night before, when a Russian military convoy tried to take up positions near the Syrets metro station, 7.7 kilometers from the Ukrainian president’s office.

12:49 p.m.: Football’s governing bodies FIFA and UEFA made the decision Monday to suspend Russian clubs and national teams from all competitions.

12:40 p.m.: VOA’s Steve Herman reports that Twitter will now label all tweets that contain content from Russian state-affiliated websites.

11:54 a.m.: Russia and Ukraine have agreed to plans for a “second round” of conflict talks, according to a report by Agence France Presse (AFP). Negotiators from Ukraine and Russia will return to their capital cities for consultations and have plans for fresh talks, both sides announced Monday after meeting for their first talks since the outbreak of war last week." The delegations are returning to their capitals for consultations and have discussed the possibility of meeting for a second round of negotiations soon," Ukrainian negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak said. "We agreed to keep the negotiations going," the Russian delegation head, Vladimir Medinsky said.

11:25 a.m.: Ordinary Russians faced the prospect of higher prices and crimped foreign travel as Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine sent the ruble plummeting, leading uneasy people to line up at banks and ATMs on Monday in a country that has seen more than one currency disaster in the post-Soviet era.

11:15 a.m.: VOA Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb quotes a senior U.S. defense official as saying there are indications that the private Russian military contracting agency Wagner Group could be involved in some places in Ukraine.

11:15 a.m.: According to VOA’s Jeff Seldin, a Senior U.S. defense official confirmed that Russia is clearly hitting civilian targets but that it’s not clear yet whether such strikes are intentional.

10:52 a.m.: Map showing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine:

This map shows the locations of known Russian military strikes and ground attacks inside Ukraine after Russia announced a military invasion of Ukraine. The information is current as of Feb. 27, 2022 at 5 p.m. eastern time.
This map shows the locations of known Russian military strikes and ground attacks inside Ukraine after Russia announced a military invasion of Ukraine. The information is current as of Feb. 27, 2022 at 5 p.m. eastern time.

10:48 a.m.: Many Russian media outlets have been hacked, with anti-war messages being placed on their websites, according to a report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Twitter accounts historically associated with Anonymous, the amorphous online activist community that first grabbed global attention about a decade ago, claimed it was behind the hacker attack.

10:46 a.m.: Today VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports from Lviv, in western Ukraine, that U.S. intelligence officials expect Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to throw in his 48,000-strong army into the war raging in Ukraine in the next few hours or days to reinforce Russia in its faltering invasion of Ukraine.

10:42 a.m.: VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports that Russia still has not established air superiority over Ukraine, according to U.S. officials.

10:30 a.m. : “The fighting must stop. Now.” VOA’s Margaret Besheer reported UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ latest comments Monday, regarding the situation in Ukraine.

10:03 a.m.: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement Monday, saying “Today the United States joins the UN Human Rights Council at the Council’s 49th regular session. The U.S. return to that body fulfills a pledge made by President Biden and reflects the centrality of human rights to our nation’s foreign policy. The timing of this session could not be more appropriate. Since the opening moments of Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine, reports of human rights abuses have been widespread.”

10:00 a.m.: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, opened the 49th session of the Human Rights Council Monday by appealing for strong leadership at a point of “profound gravity.”

9:57 a.m. : VOA’s Munaza Shaheed, reporting for the Deewa Service, spoke with some Afghans who are currently stuck in Ukraine. She reports that a week after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while the fighting continues in different parts of the country, hundreds of Afghans are stranded in Ukraine and trying to get out of the country. In August 2021, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, hundreds of Afghans were evacuated to Ukraine. Most of these Afghans had escaped war and are now reliving the trauma by being stuck in yet another war.

Afghans trying to flee Ukraine sleep inside Lviv railway station, Feb. 28, 2022, in Lviv, west Ukraine.
Afghans trying to flee Ukraine sleep inside Lviv railway station, Feb. 28, 2022, in Lviv, west Ukraine.

9:50 a.m.: Gallup released a report Monday stating that the influx of Ukrainians into neighboring states may test their neighbors’ hospitality, while surveying attitudes towards migrants in the region.

9:45 a.m. : Ukraine demanded an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian forces during talks with Russia. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the European Union to grant his country immediate membership in the bloc.

Ukrainian and Russian national flags are placed on the table ahead of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in a guest house in the Gomel region, Feb. 28, 2022.
Ukrainian and Russian national flags are placed on the table ahead of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in a guest house in the Gomel region, Feb. 28, 2022.

9:30 a.m. : The United Nations General Assembly will hold an emergency special session on the situation in Ukraine starting at 10 a.m. Monday. VOA’s Margaret Besheer is following events and filed this preview.

9:15 a.m.: On Monday the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board (IOC EB) reaffirmed its “full solidarity with the Ukrainian Olympic Committee” and moved to restrict Russia and Belarus from participation in sporting events. The statement said, in part, “In order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommends that International Sports Federations and sports events organizers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.”

9:07 a.m.: The State Department updated its official Travel Advisories for Russia and Belarus on Monday to “Level 4: Do Not Travel” status for U.S. citizens. The Travel Advisory for Ukraine was updated to the same status on February 24.

8:44 a.m.: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Monday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called on all parties to ensure the safety of its member states' citizens living in Ukraine.

8:38 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken provided details on Monday about additional measures taken against the Russian financial system.

8:10 a.m.: VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from the train station in Kyiv Monday that crowds of people are trying to leave the city during a break from attacks, as delegations from Russia and Ukraine meet for talks today in Belarus.

VOA Report from Kyiv: Some Residents Use Pause in Attacks to Escape City
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8:08 a.m.: Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova told VOA News that Ukrainian diplomats are working "day and night" to mobilize the support of the transatlantic diaspora community and to make sure that the U.S. and its allies provide more military support to Ukraine and impose even stricter sanctions against Russia. "There are many more things that we're asking our partners to do. We believe that all state-owned companies in Russia should be sanctioned and that all those directly or indirectly involved in Russia's war against Ukraine must be held accountable," said Markarova.

7:50 a.m.: In its official statement, the U.S. Treasury said Monday that it will now prohibit transactions with the Central Bank of Russia and impose sanctions on key sources of Russia’s wealth.

7:44 a.m.: The U.S. Treasury announced new sanctions against Russia, according to VOA White House Correspondent Anita Powell.

7:26 a.m.: The State Department said Monday it is suspending operations at the U.S. embassy in Minsk, and changing its status for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: “The U.S. Department of State has suspended operations at our Embassy in Minsk, Belarus and authorized the voluntary departure (“authorized departure”) of non-emergency employees and family members at our Embassy in Moscow, Russia. We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine. The Department of State continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation. We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world.”

7:01 a.m: VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports from Ukraine that even while talks in Belarus got underway Monday to explore ways to end the crisis, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv a massive Russian rocket strike hit a residential and shopping area of the city and many civilian casualties were reported. Ukraine’s interior ministry said dozens are dead and hundreds injured, prompting Ukrainians to say the talks underway are being conducted in “bad faith” by Russia. The Kharkiv attack followed other strikes on residential areas in other towns. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said, “In violation of international humanitarian law, the occupiers insidiously launched a missile strike on residential buildings in the cities of Zhytomyr and Chernihiv.” The strike seemed to confirm fears that Russia would start targeting civilian buildings as the Kremlin's frustration builds over its faltering invasion of Ukraine.

6:50 a.m.: Witnesses say a rocket blast set a building ablaze early Monday morning in the norther Ukrainian city of Chernihiv near the border with Belarus, according to a report on the website of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which also shared amateur video from the scene. Locals blame the Russian military for the attack. According to Ukraine’s emergency services, one woman sustained minor injuries.

6:34 a.m.: According to VOA’s Sabina Castelfranco in Rome, Pope Francis has launched efforts to mediate an end to the war in Ukraine. He has repeatedly voiced his concern about the developments in Ukraine. The pope called for Ash Wednesday this week to serve as a day of prayer and fasting for peace in that country. Last Friday, he visited the Russian ambassador to the Holy See, Alexander Avdeev, to express his concern about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His concern was voiced again on Sunday when he said his “heart is broken” and called for arms to fall silent. He made an impassioned appeal for authorities to open humanitarian corridors to help refugees leave Ukraine. The Holy See says it is prepared to assist in any negotiation aimed at ending the war in Ukraine. The Vatican’s second-ranking official, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in interviews published Monday in Italian newspapers that the Vatican is offering to facilitate dialogue with Russia. He said there is always space for negotiation.

6:06 a.m.: Filippo Grandi, the U.N.’s refugee chief, said Monday more than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine.

5:50 a.m.: “The young tearfully saying goodbye to parents and grandparents who are too infirm or otherwise unconvinced to leave their homes. Some say they want to remain rooted in these uproarious times.”

A snapshot of war as VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports on what Ukraine’s war looks like from Lviv, Ukraine:

5:03 a.m.: Members of the Ukrainian delegation disembark from a helicopter as they arrive for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus February 28, 2022. (Photo via Reuters)

Ukrainian delegation arriving for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus February 28, 2022.
Ukrainian delegation arriving for talks with Russian representatives in the Gomel region, Belarus February 28, 2022.

3:44 a.m.: The president’s office confirmed Monday that the Ukrainian delegation have arrived at the Belarusian border to take part in peace negotiations with their Russian counterparts.

3:14 a.m.: India abstained from the U.N. Security Council resolution that deplored Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. That raises questions of how the country’s stance will impact its growing ties with the U.S. and Western countries to whom it has come closer in their mutual bid to counter China. Political analysts say India, which has a longstanding defense relationship with Russia, is walking a diplomatic tightrope as the current crisis unfolds.

Read VOA’s Anjana Pasricha report from Delhi here:

2:21 a.m.: Britain’s government said Monday that it is taking further measures against Russia to cut off Moscow’s major financial institutions from Western financial markets. “The UK Government will immediately take all necessary steps to bring into effect restrictions to prohibit any UK natural or legal persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the CBR, the Russian National Wealth Fund, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation,” the government said.

1:15 a.m.: Belarus’ ministry of foreign affairs shared this tweet saying it is ready to host peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine scheduled for Monday, although it did not provide details on the location of the meeting.

12:56 a.m.: VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports from the ground in Ukraine.

U.S. intelligence expects Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to order his army in the next few hours or days to participate fully with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Up to now, Belarus has been used as a staging ground for Russian forces and only a few Belarusian special forces are believed to have been involved in the fighting.

The full participation of Belarus risks another front opening in the war with fears that Belarusian forces won’t just reinforce the Russian siege of Kyiv but also strike more widely across Ukraine’s northwest, endangering Lviv.

According to messages sent to NGOs and projects funded by the United States, “Cities in the West are no longer regarded as safe.” Those still inside Ukraine have been advised to seek shelter in border villages that may be safer from missiles, which will target cities and big towns.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.