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Latest Developments in Ukraine: March 24

Refugees with children wait for a transport after fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine at a railway station in Przemysl, Poland, March 24, 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:

7:43 p.m.: New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said Thursday the city’s retirement system would be divesting from Russian securities, following votes to do so from all five of the pension funds that make up the system – fire, police, city workers, teachers and the Board of Education.

“The New York City Retirement Systems have taken bold, unified action to express solidarity with those under attack in Ukraine and to protect the long-term value of their portfolio as additional sanctions are placed on Russia," Lander said in the announcement, reported by The Associated Press.

The funds had $185.9 million in Russian securities on Feb. 25, the last day the Russian stock market was fully open.

7:22 p.m.: Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk posted on Telegram Thursday: "Today, by order of President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy, the first full-fledged exchange of prisoners of war took place. Ten of our servicemen were released in exchange for 10 captured occupiers.”

In a second exchange, 11 Russian civilian sailors captured near Odesa were returned in exchange for 19 Ukrainian civilian sailors, Vereshchuk said on Telegram. The Ukrainians had been aboard the Sapphire rescue ship, which was captured as it tried to search for Ukrainian military troops after Russia’s attack on Snake Island.

FILE - A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island and Russian Ropucha ship, March 13, 2022.
FILE - A satellite image shows an overview of Snake Island and Russian Ropucha ship, March 13, 2022.

6:40 p.m.: The Associated Press reports that a month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, unclaimed urns with the ashes of the dead are piling up at Kyiv's main crematorium. The crematorium's workers say relatives are unable to collect the urns as so many of them having left Ukraine's capital to seek safety, according to AP.

Staff declined to speak on camera to AP but said the remains are victims of Russian attacks as well as elderly people who died of natural causes in their houses after loved ones fled the fighting.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified a total of 977 civilian deaths during Russia's military attack on Ukraine as of March 22, 2022. Of them, 81 were children. Furthermore, 1,594 people were reported to have been injured.

4 p.m.: Seattle-based teenager Avi Schiffmann is doing what he can to help Ukrainian refugees. He has launched a website that helps refugees find safe places to stay, matching refugees with people willing to share their homes. VOA’s Anush Avetisyan has the story.

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3:57 p.m.: Russia's space director said on Thursday that Europe had wrecked cooperation by imposing sanctions against his agency, and rockets that were meant to launch European satellites would now be used for Russian companies or countries friendly to Moscow, according to Reuters.

3:51 p.m.: Russians have rushed to stock up on anti-depressants, sleeping pills and contraceptives among other products since the conflict in Ukraine began, data released on Thursday showed, with people buying a month's worth of medicine in just two weeks. Although official opinion polls suggest most Russians support President Vladimir Putin's decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, social media, interviews and anecdotal data suggest many Russians have been distressed by the severity of the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West to try to force it to withdraw its forces, Reuters reported.

3:43 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke today with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov to discuss continued lethal defensive assistance, including $1 billion in security assistance recently announced by President Joe Biden, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “He made clear to the minister that materiel from this latest announcement are now flowing into the region,” he said. “Secretary Austin underscored the continued resolve of the United States to support Ukraine’s military … and he applauded the skill and bravery with which Ukrainian forces are using these weapons and systems.”

3:41 p.m.: U.N. economists warn prospects for global growth this year are rapidly fading as the adverse impact of the war in Ukraine kicks in. The U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, has downgraded a previous more optimistic projection of the world economy to reflect the new reality. VOA’s Lisa Schlein has the story.

3:22 p.m.: Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said that Russia’s military actions are disrupting international maritime trade, and it urged all shipping firms to avoid Russian ports.

3:17 p.m.: Several leaders from European Union member states have scoffed at Russia's demand that some "unfriendly" countries will be forced to pay for its natural gas and oil in rubles, saying the move is a breach of contract. While Putin did not name any countries, it is understood the policy would target Britain, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United States, and members of the European Union. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

3:03 p.m.: The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to deploy staff members to Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to ensure safety there, if an agreement with leaders in Ukraine and Russia can be reached, a U.S. congressman said on Thursday after a meeting with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. “He wants a safety guarantee that he can put people on the ground there, maybe 15-20 people,” Representative Stephen Lynch told Reuters in an interview at Vienna airport with fellow representatives Lori Trahan and Mark Green. Lynch was leading a U.S. Congressional delegation on a fact-finding mission on Ukraine.

2:17 p.m.: Ukrainians in Brussels, Belgium, took to the streets to demand action as western leaders gathered there Thursday for a series of meetings aimed at strengthening cooperation in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. VOA’s Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze shared photos on Twitter.

2:10 p.m.: The New York Times’s Visual Investigations team analyzed dozens of battlefield radio transmissions between Russian forces during an initial invasion of the town of Makariv, outside Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. They reveal an army struggling with logistical problems and communications failures.

2:06 p.m.: President Joe Biden held a press conference following his meetings with NATO and G7 leaders in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday. Biden voiced support for expelling Russia from the Group of 20, announced that the United States will take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, and will commit more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance for those affected by Russia’s increasingly brutal invasion in Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. “The single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world to continue to focus on what a brute this guy is and all the innocent people’s lives being lost and ruined,” Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The United States, along with the Group of Seven nations and the European Union, also announced a new round of sanctions Thursday, and warned Putin against the use of chemical or nuclear weapons.

1:51 p.m.: The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, said he met with Russia’s foreign minister Thursday, and discussed critical humanitarian issues in Ukraine and elsewhere. In a message on Twitter, Maurer emphasized his organization’s neutrality and called for protection of civilians.

1:42 p.m.: In a videotaped address to Ukraine’s people one month after Russia invaded the country, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised citizens for standing up to fight for their country.

1:35 p.m.: Almost three-quarters of the U.N. General Assembly demanded aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine on Thursday and criticized Russia for creating a "dire" humanitarian situation after Moscow invaded its neighbor one month ago, Reuters reported.

It is the second time the 193-member General Assembly has overwhelmingly isolated Russia over its actions in Ukraine. General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, but they carry political weight. There was a round of applause in the hall after the adoption on Thursday.

The resolution, which was drafted by Ukraine and allies, received 140 votes in favor and five votes against - Russia, Syria, North Korean, Eritrea and Belarus - while 38 countries, including China, abstained. It demands the protection of civilians, medical personnel, aid workers, journalists, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure. It also demands an end to the siege of cities, in particular Mariupol.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described the resolution adopted on Thursday as a "pseudo humanitarian draft" that took a "one-sided view of the situation." U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield described the vote on Thursday as an "astounding success."

VOA U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer broke down how votes in the General Assembly shifted since the first vote condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was held March 2.

1:15 p.m.: “As near-record levels of funding fill the coffers of the Ukrainian aid response, humanitarian insiders worry that resources may be diverted from other crises that are receiving scant attention and remain badly underfunded – from Afghanistan to Yemen to the Horn of Africa,” reports The New Humanitarian, which was founded by the United Nations and is now an independent non-profit news organization.

1 p.m.: Russia's powerful defense minister resurfaced in a short snippet of video footage aired by state media on Thursday after dropping out of public view for days during Russia's war in Ukraine, Reuters reported. Sergei Shoigu, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, was spotted on a split screen of top officials as Putin met his Security Council remotely in footage aired by Russia's RIA news agency. The 66-year-old minister had not been seen for 12 days, prompting speculation about his whereabouts.

12:56 p.m.: Ukrainian ballerinas forced to flee war in their home country have found a temporary home at the German capital's main ballet company, which helps them with practice space, accommodation, clothing and career advice. Prima ballerina Iana Salenko, who tries to get the dancers auditions at ballet companies abroad or in other fields such as the opera, has danced in Berlin since 2005 but was born in Kyiv and can relate to her colleagues' struggles. "I understand what they feel now, to lose their job, and lose everything," she told Reuters in an interview.

12:44 p.m.: The office of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau published the text of the G7 Leaders’ statement, issued after the group met in Brussels Thursday in an effort to further strengthen cooperation in opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We are united in our resolve to restore peace and stability and uphold international law,” the statement said, in part.

12:20 p.m.: Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Thursday warned Russia not to use biological, chemical or nuclear weapons in its war with Ukraine. "We warn against any threat of the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons or related material," said the leaders in a joint statement released by Germany. All countries were ready to welcome refugees from Ukraine, they said. On energy, the leaders called on oil- and gas-producing countries to act responsibly and boost supplies to international markets, adding that OPEC had a role to play in this. They also said they would avoid food export bans, Reuters reported.

12:16 p.m.: Russian forces continued to shell the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, destroying several residential buildings. One woman whose home was damaged by shelling made an appeal to her godmother in Moscow, saying she must “see” that Russian forces have been hitting civilian targets despite denials by the Kremlin. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

12:04 p.m.: Development organizations around the world are warning that Russia’s war on Ukraine will significantly damage the global economy, with the world’s poorest people suffering the brunt of the harm. Russia and Ukraine are both major producers of commodities, including wheat and other cereal grains, fertilizer and energy. With little or no cargo moving through the two countries’ ports on the Black Sea, export restrictions on food in Ukraine and massive economic sanctions levied on Russia, the disruptions to global supply chains are already large and growing. VOA’s Rob Garver reports.

12:00 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement Thursday providing a “comprehensive look at the actions the United States has taken to date to promote accountability for Russia and Belarus.”

11:49 a.m.: Utility workers in Ukraine's capital Kyiv keep the city running despite Russian shelling, The Kyiv Independent reported Thursday.

11:38 a.m.: The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Thursday asked a coalition of countries to back his war crimes investigation in Ukraine, saying "things can get worse" unless the international community acts now, Reuters reported. ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan was speaking to a meeting of a British-led coalition in The Hague, including prosecutors and justice ministers from 38 countries that have offered the court financial, military and legal assistance. Khan opened a formal inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine on February 28, four days after Russia invaded its smaller neighbor.

11:21 a.m.: The Associated Press shared an excerpt from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's videotaped address to NATO leaders who gathered in Brussels on Thursday to discuss additional coordinated responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

11:17 a.m.: Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who protested Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine by bursting onto the set of a flagship television news show, says her colleagues at Kremlin-controlled TV Channel One are scared and she doesn't regret for one moment her action. VOA’s Jamie Dettmer has this report.

11:08 a.m.: Russia’s independent regional press are fighting to survive under wartime conditions, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

10:51 a.m. In an act of defiance, Ukrainians in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson managed to hang a Ukrainian flag on the wall of the city council building, The Kyiv Independent reported Thursday.

10:42 a.m.: French automaker Renault moved to pause production at its Moscow plant in an apparent move to fend off mounting criticism, The Associated Press reported Thursday. In his recent address to France’s parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy name-checked some French companies as he pleaded for them to stop indirectly supporting the war against Ukraine with their presence in Russia. “Renault, Auchan (and) Leroy Merlin must stop sponsoring the Russian war machine,” Zelenskyy said. “All companies must remember that values are worth more than profit.”

10:37 a.m.: Pope Francis on Thursday criticized increased defense spending by Western nations following Russia's invasion of Ukraine as "madness" and said a new way must be found to balance world power, Reuters reported. Speaking to a coalition of women's groups, the pope said the conflict in Ukraine was a product of "the old logic of power that still dominates so-called geopolitics." Francis said that what was needed was "a different way of governing the globalized world, not by showing your teeth, as is done now, but a different way to frame international relations." He did not make any suggestions as to how that might be done.

10:24 a.m.: Chinese enterprises are caught between the high reputational risk of remaining in Russia during its war on Ukraine, and the pro-Moscow sentiment that dominates China's state-controlled media. So far, most have chosen to remain silent. VOA’s Adam Xu reports on the dilemma Chinese companies face over doing business with Russia.

10:12 a.m.: Oligarchs' wealth remains largely untouched in the European Union, weeks after Brussels approved measures to freeze the assets of dozens of billionaires and top officials linked to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported. Every week since war broke out, the EU has introduced new sanctions on Russia, adding nearly 700 top politicians, businessmen and military staff to its blacklist - including 42 super rich "oligarchs." Listed individuals are meant to have their bank accounts and assets frozen, but so far only a small fraction of their funds have been affected amid legal constraints and enforcement challenges.

10:04 a.m. The Russian stock market opened Thursday for limited trading under heavy restrictions for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. This came almost a month after prices plunged and the market was shut down as a way to insulate the economy. A U.S. official called the severely restricted market a “charade.” Daleep Singh, a deputy national security and economic advisor to President Joe Biden, said in a statement, “This is not a real market and not a sustainable model, which only underscores Russia’s isolation from the global financial system."

9:52 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted about new sanctions imposed Thursday, as a result of Russia’s continuing military offensive in Ukraine.

9:50 a.m.: The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that more than half of Ukraine’s children have been displaced since Russia invaded one month ago, VOA’s UN Correspondent Margaret Besheer reported Thursday.

9:30 a.m.: The U.N. General Assembly votes Thursday on a resolution backed by over 90 countries that blames Russia for the escalating humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and demands an immediate halt to hostilities, especially attacks on civilians and their homes, schools and hospitals, The Associated Press reported. Russia has denounced the resolution as “anti-Russian.” The vote follows the Security Council’s overwhelming defeat on Wednesday of a Russian resolution that would have acknowledged Ukraine’s growing humanitarian needs – but without mentioning Russia’s invasion that has left millions of Ukrainians in desperate need of food, water, and shelter.

9:27 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden released a statement following NATO’s Extraordinary Summit held Thursday. “I welcome the steps by many other Allies to provide defensive support to Ukraine and together, we are committed to identifying additional equipment, including air defense systems, to help Ukraine,” he said. “We also discussed our work to bolster NATO’s collective defense, particularly on the Eastern flank,” he added. “Our joint statement today makes clear that NATO is as strong and united as it has ever been.”

9:22 a.m.: Russia’s gold-related transactions may now be sanctionable, the U.S. Treasury said in new guidance issued Thursday.

9:21 a.m.: NATO leaders are extending the mandate of Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for an extra year to help steer the 30-nation military organization through the security crisis sparked by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Stoltenberg tweeted Thursday that he is “honored” by the decision of NATO leaders “to extend my term as Secretary General until 30 September 2023.” The former Norwegian prime minister was named to NATO’s top civilian post in October 2014. It’s the second time his term of office has been extended, The Associated Press reported.

9:16 a.m.: NATO leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday agreed to beef up their eastern flank in the face of the war waged by Russia in Ukraine, and warned Moscow against the use of chemical arms, amongst other decisions. "We remain united and resolute in our determination to oppose Russia's aggression, aid the government and the people of Ukraine, and defend the security of all allies," a joint statement said after national leaders of NATO's 30 member countries met in Brussels. They agreed to set up four more battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, as well as warning China not to support Russia's war.

9:12 a.m.: NATO has released a statement following Thursday’s Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government, who were meeting to address Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

9:02 a.m.: A U.S. official says the United States will welcome up to 100,000 refugees from Ukraine, according to The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement later Thursday. The White House has been saying for weeks that the U.S. would accept refugees from Ukraine, but officials had expected most would want to remain in Europe. Refugee agencies had urged the Biden administration to do more. Over 3.5 million refugees have fled their country since Russia invaded one month ago.

8:46 a.m.: Switzerland has frozen around $6.17 billion worth of Russian assets covered by sanctions, and that amount is likely to rise, Erwin Bollinger, a senior official at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs agency overseeing sanctions said on Thursday, according to Reuters. That included a number of properties in cantons which served as tourism resorts, he told a news conference in Bern. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has heaped pressure on Switzerland -- a popular destination for Moscow's elite and a holding place for Russian wealth -- to more quickly identify and freeze assets of hundreds of sanctioned Russians. Its banks hold up to $213 billion of Russian wealth, Switzerland's bank lobby estimates.

8:32 a.m.: Poland has blocked the Russian embassy's bank accounts on the basis that they might be used to finance terrorist activity or launder money, Russia's ambassador to Warsaw said on Thursday, according to Reuters. "Our accounts have been blocked by a decision of the finance ministry, and then by a decision of the Polish prosecutor," the TASS news agency quoted Ambassador Sergey Andreev as saying on Russia's Channel 1 state television. He said the reason given for the move was that "funds from our accounts could allegedly be used for laundering of illegally obtained money or for financing terrorism." Poland's foreign ministry on Wednesday said it was expelling 45 Russian diplomats suspected of working for Russian intelligence. Russia called the accusation baseless.

8:11 a.m.: Authorities in Mariupol said Thursday that about 15,000 civilians have been illegally deported to Russia since Russian forces besieged the southern Ukrainian port town. VOA’s Jamie Dettmer reports that the governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kirilenko, has said deported civilians are being processed at Russian “filtration camps” where their mobile phones were checked and then their identity documents confiscated. Then they are being sent on to remote towns in Russia, he says. The initial accusation earlier this week about involuntary deportations triggered international protests and drew scathing criticism from authoritative historians, who say the deportations are a distressing echo of the Soviet era when Communist autocrat Josef Stalin ordered deportations of entire nationalities, forced labor transfers and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill ethnically cleansed territories.

8:02 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden and world leaders opened a trio of emergency summits on Thursday with a sober warning from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that the alliance must boost its defenses to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “respond to a new security reality in Europe,” The Associated Press reported.

7:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Dmytro Kuleba sent out a message on Twitter Thursday, highlighting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to NATO leaders gathered at a summit in Brussels.

7:48 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to NATO leaders on Thursday to increase military support for his country against Russian forces that he warned would next target alliance members in eastern Europe including Poland, Reuters reported. Russia "wants to go further. Against eastern members of NATO. The Baltic states. Poland for sure," Zelenskyy said in a pre-recorded video address to a NATO summit which was released in advance by the Ukrainian presidency. "But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people," he said.

7:47 a.m.: The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian armies was needed before civilians could be evacuated properly from Ukraine, Reuters reported. "We think we are confronted with a very complex frontline at the present moment in Ukraine which sees a lot of people trapped and people caught people in between frontlines," Red Cross chief Peter Maurer told a news conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. "It's not possible to think about access or evacuation, either in Mariupol or another place, if we don't have a solid ... and detailed agreement between the militaries on the ground."

7:25 a.m.: The spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oleg Nikolenko, on Thursday condemned Russia for allegedly forcibly deporting residents of Mariupol.

7:20 a.m.: Reuters Ukrainian authorities in besieged Mariupol said on Thursday about 15,000 civilians had been illegally deported to Russia since Russian forces seized parts of the southern port city, Reuters reported. Local authorities said on Sunday that thousands of residents had been taken by force across the border but did not provide a more precise figure. Russian news agencies said at the time that buses had carried several hundred people Moscow calls refugees from Mariupol to Russia in recent days. "Residents of the Left Bank district are beginning to be deported en masse to Russia. In total, about 15,000 Mariupol residents have been subjected to illegal deportation," Mariupol city council said in a statement issued on Thursday.

7:03 a.m.: Ukrainian circus students have found safety in Hungary, where they are now continuing their training in the safety of the capital Budapest, The Associated Press reported.

6:54 a.m.: The U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) marked World Tuberculosis Day by sharing the story of a Ukrainian refugee, forced to flee her home country and try to continue her TB treatments in Moldova.

6:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has echoed the call for people to protest in town squares around the world on Thursday, one month after Russia invaded Ukraine.

6:45 a.m.: Germany needs an early warning system amid signs its gas import situation may worsen, utilities association BDEW said on Thursday, according to Reuters. "There are concrete and serious indications that the gas supply situation is about to deteriorate," BDEW said, citing Russia's demand for some clients to pay for gas in rubles. BDEW said the national energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, needs to set criteria under which industries and sectors would continue to receive supply while household customers are protected under existing regulations. The setting of an early emergency trigger would require cooperation among municipalities, grid operators and the regulator, BDEW said.

6:41 a.m.: NATO leaders are meeting Thursday in Brussels to discuss their short- and long-term response to Russia's month-old invasion of Ukraine, and they are due to hear a direct appeal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for more help, VOA’s Carla Babb reports.

Ahead of the meeting, Zelenskyy used a video message, delivered in English, to ask NATO members for "effective and unrestricted" support, including weapons for Ukrainian forces. Zelenskyy also appealed to people around the world to hold public protests against the Russian invasion.

In addition to the NATO talks, U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting Thursday with G-7 leaders and the European Council. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the overall goal is to hear "the resolve and unity that we've seen for the past month will endure for as long as it takes." Biden is due to announce a new round of sanctions targeting Russian political figures, oligarchs and other entities.

6:19 a.m.: Russian strikes on cities across Ukraine have left a trail of devastation, with besieged cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv in the country’s east ravaged by artillery and rocket attacks. But with Russia’s advance slowed by Ukrainian resistance and its forces facing supply and logistical issues, the war could begin to see more urban warfare as military planners on both sides dig in for what many analysts say could be a long-term fight. To better understand what this next phase of the war might look like, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty spoke with retired U.S. Special Forces Colonel Liam Collins, the executive director of the Madison Policy Forum who also advised the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on its military reforms.

6:11 a.m.: The Netherlands delegation to the NATO summit shared a photo of all the leaders attending, just before the meeting began Thursday in Brussels.

5:45 a.m.: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is attempting to recruit Russian speakers who may be unhappy with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, by targeting cellphones in or near the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. with ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google, according to the Washington Post. “Peter Lapp, a former longtime FBI spy-hunter who now works as a private consultant, praised the ads as a clever and sophisticated use of new technology to conduct old-fashioned recruitment,” the Washington Post reported. “The ads are designed to capitalize on any dissatisfaction or anger within Russian diplomatic or spy services — or among Russian emigres to the United States — over the invasion of Ukraine,” it added.

5:30 a.m.: NATO released a video ahead of the extraordinary summit in Brussels to discuss short- and long-term responses to Russia's month-old invasion of Ukraine.

5:17 a.m.: The International Rescue Committee says that Ukraine represents "the fastest displacement crisis we’ve seen since the second World War." Elsewhere, CNN reported that UNICEF says that one in every two Ukrainian children has been displaced since the invasion began.

4:34 a.m.: Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, responding to Russia's demand to be paid for oil and gas in rubles, tweeted, "If any EU country bows to Putin’s humiliating demands to pay for oil and gas in rubles, it will be like helping Ukraine with one hand and helping Russians kill Ukrainians with the other. I urge relevant countries to make a wise and responsible choice."

4 a.m.: The U.S. Embassy Kyiv says that Ukraine has created a war crimes evidence database "to record the crimes of Russian forces against Ukraine."

3:40 a.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking before Thursday's meetings in Brussels, said, "President Putin has made a big mistake, and that is to launch a war -- to wage war -- against an independent, sovereign nation. He has underestimated the strength of the Ukrainian people, the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their armed forces, and therefore they're also meeting much more resistance than they expected."

3:08 a.m.: The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol says Russian forces are committing atrocities, The Washington Post reported. He said troops are using civilians as "“hostages and a living shield."

2:38 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Ukraine' 2022 sunflower seed harvest is likely to plunge 42% due to the Russian invasion.

1:34 a.m.: Kyiv's mayor says at least 264 civilians have died in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported.

12:45 a.m.: CNN, citing the mayor of Chernihiv, says the Ukrainian city is overwhelmed with dead and the local cemetery can no longer accommodate all the war victims. "The city cemetery cannot handle all the dead, so we are keeping people in morgues and refrigerators longer than normal," Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said. "We are burying people in the old cemeteries that haven't been used in a while."

12:04 a.m.: Al Jazeera, citing a senior U.S. defense official, reported that Russian forces appear to be digging in and setting up defensive positions outside Kyiv.

12:01 a.m.: The New York Times reported that some people in Russia are now having trouble accessing the Google News app and website.

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