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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 18


A demonstrator holding a Ukrainian flag participates in a demonstration called by 70 associations in support of Ukraine in Paris on March 17, 2022.

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

The latest developments of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all times EDT:

11:15 p.m.: "It's time to meet, time to talk," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Russia in a Saturday video message, CNN reports.

10:35 p.m.: The New York Times reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address Japanese lawmakers via video link at 6 p.m. Wednesday, local time.

10:02 p.m.: Al Jazeera reports that the thousands of people fleeing Russia since it invaded Ukraine include young men trying to avoid being forced into military service.

"They’re afraid they’ll all be grabbed and thrown into the meat-grinder," Elena Popova, coordinator of the Russia-based Movement of Conscientious Objectors, told Al Jazeera. "They feel their freedom is under immense pressure."

9:37 p.m.: CNN reports that Ukrainians with diabetes have a new worry -- how to get their insulin in a war zone. An insulin shortage has led to an increase in conditions related to uncontrolled diabetes.

9:07 p.m.: The U.S. State Department is demanding access to WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia for allegedly smuggling drugs, The Associated Press reports.

“We are closely engaged on this case and in frequent contact with Brittney Griner’s legal team," the State Department said in a statement Friday. "We insist the Russian government provide consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees in Russia, including those in pre-trial detention, as Brittney Griner is.

“We have repeatedly asked for consular access to these detainees and have consistently been denied access," it added.

Griner, 31, faces up to 10 years in prison.

8:32 p.m.: Ukrainian officials say they have yet to find any casualties in the ruins of a theater hit by a Russian airstrike this week in the southern city of Mariupol as Russian forces continue to fire on Ukrainian cities and negotiators from both countries seek to find common ground.

As of Friday, 130 people have been rescued from the theater's basement, Ukrainian officials said, as the search continues for the hundreds more who could be trapped in the makeshift bomb shelter that was hit Wednesday.

Mariupol's city council said on Telegram that "according to initial information, there are no dead. But there is information about one person gravely wounded."

8:13 p.m.: A Russian priest has been fined the equivalent of $330 for calling Russia's invasion of Ukraine a war, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty reports.

8:10 p.m.: Yevhenia Nazarova of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service spoke to people in the city of Zaporizhzhya about how their lives have changed since the Russians invaded on Feb. 24.

8:03 p.m.: Lviv city hall placed 109 strollers, or prams, in the city's central square to mark the children killed in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. RFE/RL has video.

6:47 p.m.: Haliburton says it has suspended future business in Russia in line with U.S. sanctions. The oilfield service company said it had no active joint ventures and halted shipments of sanctioned parts weeks ago. It joins BP, Shell and Norway’s Equinor in suspending or abandoning their Russian operations, according to Reuters.

6:14 p.m.: Nearly 6.5 million people are displaced inside Ukraine, according to the International Organization for Migration, and that is in addition to the more than 3 million people who have left the country.

5:51 p.m.: Three Russian cosmonauts have arrived at the International Space Station.

Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov lifted off from Kazakhstan in their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft and docked at the station about three hours later, joining two Russians, four Americans and a German.

5:25 p.m.: A family-owned gun company in Florida says it is sending 400 semi-automatic rifles to Ukraine. The guns, from KelTech, were originally from a $200,000 order by a longtime Ukrainian customer, but Adrian Kellgren told The Associated Press the customer has gone silent.

“The American people want to do something,” Kellgren, a former U.S. Navy pilot, said to the AP. “We enjoy our freedoms, we cherish those things. And when we see a group of people out there getting hammered like this, it’s heartbreaking.”

4:51 p.m.: U.S. Commerce Department watching flights to and from Russia.

“We are publishing this list to put the world on notice—we will not allow Russian and Belarusian companies and oligarchs to travel with impunity in violation of our laws," says @SecRaimondo in a statement.

4:30 p.m.: The U.S. secretary of state and the foreign minister of Ukraine discuss ways to end the war.

3:49 p.m. : Ivan Fyodorov, the mayor of Melitopol in southern Ukraine, was taken prisoner by invading Russian forces on March 11 and held in captivity in a facility “fully controlled by the Russian military,” he said. Several days later, the Ukrainian government managed to secure his release in exchange for six Russian prisoners of war. Fyodorov spoke about his ordeal in an interview with Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA.

3:32 p.m.: A former Silicon Valley tech start-up executive has left San Francisco and returned to his hometown in Ukraine to help manage the effort resisting Russia’s invasion. Andrey Liscovich spoke with The Harvard Gazette about his efforts.

3:18 p.m.: The International Energy Agency says the world could quickly reduce global oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day by cutting down on car and plane travel, helping ease the supply crunch caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The executive director of the Paris-based agency said on Twitter Friday that practical actions by government and citizens could have a significant impact.

3:00 p.m. : The White House on Friday released a readout of U.S. President Joe Biden’s conversation with China’s President Xi Jinping, focusing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “He described the implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia,” the statement said, in part. VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widaksuwara has more.

2:57 p.m. : VOA’s fact-checking website Polygraph.info examines Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s claims that Russia didn’t attack Ukraine, and finds them to be false. Nik Yarst has this report.

2:41 p.m.: Since invading Ukraine in February, Moscow has blocked access to news websites inside Russia, forced independent media to close and passed a new law threatening up to 15 years in prison for “false” reporting on the conflict. Nevertheless, the truth will seep through, Russian journalists say. VOA’s Danila Galperovich filed this report.

2:27 p.m.: As Ukraine’s western city of Lviv comes under attack from Russian missiles, locals are attempting to safeguard the city’s public art treasures.

1:50 p.m.: Italy has drawn up plans to take in up to 175,000 Ukrainian refugees, a draft decree seen by Reuters said. The plan is expected to be approved by the cabinet later on Friday. Some 53,600 Ukrainians, including 27,000 women and 21,600 children, have come to Italy so far following Russia's invasion of their country on February 24, interior ministry data shows.

1:47 p.m.: The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is working with a variety of groups in Ukraine, saying “animals are often the forgotten victims of conflict and war.” On its website, IFAW said, “many animal shelters, sanctuaries, and individual guardians refuse to evacuate because they do not want to leave their animals.” IFAW reported that one shelter partner in Berdyansk, Ukraine, was damaged in an attack this week, and shared photos on Twitter of the aftermath.

1:24 p.m.: The U.N. migration agency said Friday that nearly 6.5 million people have been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million who have already fled the country. The report from the International Organization for Migration also found that “over 12 million people are estimated to be stranded in affected areas or unable to leave due to heightened security risks,” according to The Associated Press.

12:56 p.m.: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Friday played down recent comments by the head of Russia’s space agency that the United States would have to use broomsticks to fly to space, after Russia said it would stop supplying rocket engines to U.S. companies. “That’s just Dmitry Rogozin. He spouts off now and then. But at the end of the day, he’s worked with us,” Nelson told The Associated Press. Nelson spoke hours before three Russian cosmonauts launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station, the first crew launch since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

12:34 p.m.: The Norwegian Refugee Council said Friday it is scaling up its efforts inside Ukraine and in neighboring countries. Over the past three weeks, NRC has deployed additional emergency teams to Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, and Romania. “The situation for millions of people inside Ukraine is growing more desperate by the day. We are therefore organizing food, water, sanitation, shelters, and legal support” said Jan Egeland, NRC’s Secretary General.

12:13 p.m.: On February 28, the Swiss Federal Council announced Switzerland was joining a growing list of countries that included the European Union and the United States in imposing unprecedented economic sanctions on Russia. The Swiss decision caught the world's attention. VOA’s Natalie Liu has this report.

12:00 p.m.: The U.N. Security Council met Friday at Russia’s request for a second time in one week to discuss its latest allegations that the United States was operating a secret biological weapons program in Ukraine – something the U.S. characterized as disinformation. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia claimed Russian forces had uncovered new documents during their military offensive, and that Ukraine was playing only a secondary role in the alleged project. U.S. envoy to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters, “It’s disinformation of the desperate, that’s how I would describe it.” She expressed Washington’s continued concern that Moscow may be planting the seeds for an attack it would then blame on Ukraine, VOA’s UN Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported.

11:45 a.m.: The UN High Representative for Disarmament, Izumi Nakamitsu, said in the UN Security Council meeting Friday that Ukrainian operating staff and guards at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant have not been able to rotate out since the Russian invasion began three weeks ago. She said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is still not receiving remote data transmissions from Chernobyl, though such data is being transferred from other nuclear power plants in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian authorities, eight of the country’s 15 reactors remain operating. Meanwhile, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said Friday he is ready to deploy nuclear experts to Ukraine to ensure safety and security at the plants.

11:24 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on a video call on Friday about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. Chinese media said Xi underlined that such conflicts are in no-one's interests. Biden had been expected to tell the Chinese leader that Beijing would pay a steep price if it supports the invasion, a warning that comes at a time of deepening acrimony between the two nations. The call lasted just under two hours, the White House said. VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara is following the story.

11:02 a.m.: Nigerian authorities said about 8,000 nationals were living in Ukraine when the Russian invasion began. About 5,600 of them were students. As VOA’s Timothy Obiezu reports, many Nigerian medical students who fled Ukraine are now continuing their education online.

10:39 a.m.: Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Mustapha Nayyem said Friday that more than 1000 villages and cities in Ukraine were without power, and that more than 50 hospitals have been destroyed. He added that a countless number of roads and bridges, as well as all of Ukraine’s harbors, had also been destroyed. Mr. Nayyem said damages totaled approximately $600 million to date. He spoke with Alhurra Friday in an interview conducted over Skype from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

10:13 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a Moscow stadium and praised his country’s troops Friday. “We have not had unity like this for a long time,” Putin said in the rare public appearance, speaking to cheers from the crowd. Moscow police said more than 200,000 people were in and around Luzhniki stadium for the celebration marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, seized from Ukraine. Oleg Gazmanov sang “Made in the U.S.S.R.,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”

10:07 a.m.: Russian businessman Roman Abramovich transferred a company he controlled with tens of millions of dollars of investments to a director of English soccer club Chelsea on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, UK corporate filings showed. It was the second time Chelsea owner Abramovich moved assets to a close associate before Britain and the European Union imposed sanctions on him this month, Reuters reported. British lawmakers complained that the government had been slow to impose sanctions, giving oligarchs time to move their assets.

10:05 a.m.: The UN refugee agency warned Friday that humanitarian needs are “rising exponentially” inside Ukraine and neighboring countries. In addition to those who have had to flee, around 13 million people have been affected in the areas hardest hit inside Ukraine, it said. UNHCR is now launching a large-scale multi-purpose cash program to help internally displaced people in Lviv, with plans for later expansion. ”This will help cover their basic needs like rent, food and hygiene items,” UNHCR said in a statement.

10:03 a.m.: With more than 3 million people fleeing their homes because of the fighting in Ukraine, many of whom are women and children, there have been increasing concerns that some of the refugees may fall victim to human trafficking. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Siobhán Mullally, said it is critical to ensure that effective prevention and protection systems are in place in transit and destination countries and at all border crossings, VOA’s Steve Miller reported Friday.

10:00 a.m.: A virtual UN briefing about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and neighboring countries was scheduled Friday morning for member states. The briefing moderator was listed as Mr. Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and other speakers included UN officials involved in the Ukraine response effort.

9:43 a.m.: Ukraine’s human rights ombudswoman said on Friday 130 people had been rescued so far from a bombed theatre in Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol but that there was still no information on more than 1,000 other people believed to be sheltering there when the attack occurred. Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said rescue work was ongoing at the site, Reuters reported. Ukraine says the theater was hit by a powerful Russian air strike Wednesday, but Russia has denied bombing the theatre or targeting civilians.


9:20 a.m.: Ukrainian and Russian officials say they have made progress in negotiations toward a cease-fire in the 3-week-old war. Experts detect a shift in Russia’s demands as the war has gone on much longer than it planned. But U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he sees no evidence Russia is serious about diplomacy. VOA’s senior diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

Blinken: No Evidence Russia Is Serious About Cease-Fire in Ukraine
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9:18 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to deliver an online speech to Japan's parliament on March 23, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday.

9:15 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Friday and Ukraine expects progress to be made on its application to join the European Union in the coming months. "Had substantial conversation with EC President," Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

9:05 a.m.: The number of people crossing borders to flee the war in Ukraine has slowed in recent days but could rise again if the fighting spreads further west, a U.N. refugee agency official said on Friday. "We have seen a slowdown, a general slowdown," said Matthew Saltmarsh via videolink from Poland, Reuters reports. Daily crossings into Poland, the country that has received most arrivals, have fallen by around half from a peak of about 100,000 daily, he said. Overall, U.N. agencies say 3.27 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 and an additional 2 million people have been displaced internally.

8:55 a.m.: The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, is in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and he shared a video on Twitter Friday where he discussed some of his impressions of the war-damaged city and the plight of its civilian population.

8:42 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Moscow's conflict with Ukraine and its international repercussions with his security council on Friday, the Kremlin said on its website. Unlike some of the previous meetings with the council, Putin's video conference was not televised on Friday, Reuters reported. "The current international situation was discussed at the meeting and the exchange of views on the ongoing special operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine continued," the Kremlin said in a statement.

8:35 a.m.: The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and others warned Friday that the conflict in Ukraine will have an adverse economic impact on the global economy, according to Agence France-Presse.

8:14 a.m.: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is saying that transporters of weapons to Ukraine may be declared military targets. "Any cargo moving into Ukrainian territory, which we would believe is carrying weapons would be a fair game. And this is clear because we are implementing the operation, the goal of which is to remove any threat to the Russian Federation coming from the Ukrainian soil," The Associated Press reports Lavrov as saying.

8:08 a.m.: A former Russian deputy prime minister who spoke out against the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine has quit as chair of a prestigious foundation after a lawmaker accused him of a "national betrayal" and demanded his dismissal, Reuters reported Friday. Arkady Dvorkovich, deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2018, became one of Russia's most senior establishment figures to question the war when he told U.S. media this week that his thoughts were with Ukrainian civilians. His comments prompted a senior ruling party lawmaker to demand that he be fired.

7:50 a.m.: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, The Associated Press reported. Scholz urged the Russian president to agree to an immediate cease-fire and called for an improvement to the humanitarian situation, a spokesman for Scholz said. In a statement about the call, the Kremlin said Putin told the German chancellor that Ukraine had “unrealistic proposals” and was dragging out negotiations.

7:45 a.m.: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said on Twitter Friday that it’s not just Russia’s president that is responsible for the war in Ukraine, but that some of Russia’s people are too.

7:41 a.m.: Russia has lost any illusions about ever relying on the West and Moscow will never accept a world order dominated by the United States, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. "If there was any illusion that we could one day rely on our Western partners, this illusion is no longer there," Lavrov told Russian state-funded RT in English. Russia would look eastwards, he said. He added that many countries such as China, India and Brazil did not want to be ordered around by "Uncle Sam" acting like a sheriff, Reuters reported. "We will now have to rely only on ourselves and on our allies who stay with us," Lavrov said. "We are not closing the door on the West - they are doing so."

7:39 a.m.: Baltic countries on Friday expelled 10 Russian diplomats, according to Agence France-Presse.

7:29 a.m.: Pope Francis on Friday called the war in Ukraine a "perverse abuse of power" waged for partisan interests which has condemned defenseless people to violence, Reuters reported. "The tragedy of the war taking place in the heart of Europe has left us stunned," he said in a message to a Catholic Church conference in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, one of the countries bordering Ukraine that has opened its doors to refugees. "The blood and tears of children, the suffering of women and men who are defending their land or fleeing from bombardments shakes our conscience," he said.

7:01 a.m.: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has indicated that her country should consider imposing an oil embargo on Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. In a security policy speech Friday, she said it was important to take a stance and not remain silent due to economic or energy dependency, The Associated Press reported. Germany receives about a third of its oil from Russia, and half of its coal and natural gas.

6:58 a.m.: VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin reports the U.S. is seeing no letup in Russia’s attempts at influence operations. According to U.S. and Ukrainian officials, Moscow’s efforts to win over the world with its accounts of events in Ukraine are doing no better than Russia's military forces inside Ukraine. “Outside of Russia, we have not seen their information operations really find purchase,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters in response to a question from VOA.

6:45 a.m.: The Associated Press reported Friday on Russia’s failed attempt to block FIFA’s ban on its soccer team before World Cup qualifying playoffs.

6:42 a.m.: Russian forces struck Ukrainian cities from a distance again on Friday as their ground offensive inched forward under fierce Ukrainian resistance, The Associated Press reported. New missile strikes and shelling on the capital Kyiv killed one person and wounded 19 others when a residential building in the Podil neighborhood was hit, according to local authorities, who evacuated 98 people from the damaged building. An early morning barrage of missiles hit near the airport on the outskirts of the western city of Lviv. A facility for repairing military aircraft and a bus repair center were damaged, and one person was wounded in the assault, the regional governor said.

6:33 a.m.: Shares have opened lower in Europe after gains for most Asian benchmarks as oil prices hovered above $100 per barrel, The Associated Press reported Friday. Stocks rose in Tokyo and Shanghai but fell in Paris, Frankfurt, and London. U.S. futures were lower. The war in Ukraine and plans for U.S. President Joe Biden to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping later Friday were among the uncertainties overhanging markets.

6:14 a.m.: A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) official said on Friday that food supply chains in Ukraine were collapsing, with a portion of infrastructure destroyed and many grocery stores and warehouses now empty, Reuters reports. Jakob Kern, WFP Emergency Coordinator for the Ukraine crisis, also expressed concern about the situation in "encircled cities" such as Mariupol, saying that supplies were running out and that its convoys had not yet been able to enter the city.

5:46 a.m.: Britain’s communications regulator on Friday revoked the license of the state-funded Russian broadcaster RT amid concern that its coverage of the war in Ukraine was biased, The Associated Press reports. RT had been fined for previous violations of impartiality standards. The move is largely symbolic, as the broadcaster is already off the air due to European Union sanctions. The Kremlin criticized the move, according to Reuters.

5:40 a.m.: The BBC reports that nearly 2 million people have fled from Ukraine to Poland since the war began. More than half a million have already left.

5:16 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that famous Russian journalist Alexander Nevzorov has deemed Russia's attack on Mariupol "terrorism." He made the comments on his Telegram channel and noted that his words meant he would have to leave the country.

Officials in Mariupol say 50 to 100 bombs are being dropped on the city every day, The New York Times reports. The attacks, local authorities said, have damaged up to 80% of the city's houses.

5:06 a.m.: German Economy Minister Robert Habeck on Friday said Russian President Vladimir Putin's power must be reduced and ultimately destroyed, Reuters reported.

4:32 a.m.: The BBC reports that Russian shelling has hit a warehouse in Voznesensk, Ukraine, that was holding weapons.

3:54 a.m.: Ukrainian and Russian officials say they have made progress in negotiations toward a cease-fire in the 3-week war. Experts detect a shift in Russia's demands as the war has gone on much longer than it planned. But U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he sees no evidence Russia is serious about diplomacy, VOA's senior diplomatic correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

3:32 a.m.: The BBC reports that the city of Sumy, Ukraine, could see humanitarian corridors open Friday. The city's about 40 kilometers from the Russian border and has a population of 260,000.

3:01 a.m.: Japan has been on the front lines of a Western-led effort to pressure Russia using diplomatic and economic means, reports VOA's William Gallo.

Japan has imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs, frozen assets of Russian banks, and this week revoked Russia’s most favored nation trade status.

It has also sent $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine and smoothed the path to accept Ukrainians fleeing the fighting – a notable move in a country long reluctant to accept overseas refugees.

The moves not only underscore Japan’s broader shift toward a more assertive foreign policy, they also show Tokyo has become bolder in aligning with the West and standing up for principles that underpin the existing U.S.-led international order.

2:38 a.m.: Italy will help rebuild the Mariupol theater destroyed in a Russian strike Wednesday, The Washington Post reported. Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini tweeted Thursday that his government had approved his proposal to rebuild the theater, which was sheltering hundreds of people when it was hit.

2:16 a.m.: The BBC, citing Lviv's mayor, reports that a building next to the city's airport, not the airport itself, was hit.

2:07 a.m.: Agence France-Presse reports that smoke is rising from the airport in Lviv, Ukraine.

2:01 a.m.: The Associated Press reports: As Russian forces pressed their assault on Ukraine, world leaders called anew for an investigation of the Kremlin’s repeat attacks on civilian targets, including airstrikes on schools, hospitals and residential areas that led one official to lament that his city had never seen such “nightmarish, colossal losses.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that American officials were evaluating potential war crimes and that if the intentional targeting of civilians by Russia is confirmed, there will be “massive consequences."

1:06 a.m.: CNN reports multiple explosions in Lviv, Ukraine.

12:45 a.m.: The BBC reports that air raid sirens are sounding in the Rivne, Volyn, Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk regions of Ukraine.

12:36 a.m.: Reuters reports that Ukrainians in Poland will be allowed to convert their hryvnia bank notes into Polish zlotys. The program is designed to aid refugees who have had trouble exchanging money.

12:04 a.m.: Desperate Ukrainians in Kharkiv are braving Russian rockets to wait in line for nine or 10 hours, hoping to get free food, The Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, thousands are seeking safety underground and setting up camp in the city's subway stations.

12:01 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping will speak at 9 a.m. Friday. Ukraine is among the issues they'll discuss, The New York Times reports.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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