Mitt Romney: “I don’t think that anybody can really assess what’s going on in the mind of Vladimir Putin right now”
Republican Senator Mitt Romney said it’s hard to evaluate President Vladimir Putin’s state of mind.
“I don’t think that anybody can really assess what’s going on in the mind of Vladimir Putin right now,” Romney told “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell on Tuesday. “The huge table with him sitting at one end is like Dr. Strangelove.”
When asked if he believed Putin would try to upstage President Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night by launching an attack on Ukraine’s capital, Romney said there’s “no way of predicting what kind of illogical things” Putin may do.
Biden expected to announce that he’s closing U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft at the State of the Union address
President Biden will announce at the State of the Union Address that he is closing U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft, CBS News’ Nancy Cordes reports.
Several European countries and Canada have already closed their airspace to Russian aircraft.
Ukraine claims Russia is “preparing deliberate provocation to justify the introduction of Belarusian troops”
Ukraine’s military intelligence service claimed on Twitter that Russia is “preparing deliberate provocation to justify the introduction of Belarusian troops.”
The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine also said there are “about 300 Belarussian tanks” amassed along the two countries’ borders.
Ukrainian and Russian officials held the first round of talks since the invasion began along the Belarusian border on Monday. Ukrainian President Zelensky had initially rejected the idea of meeting there because Belarus has been allowing Russian troops to gather and launch attacks on Ukraine from within its borders.
Belarusian President Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Putin.
Ukrainians face cold weather and long lines as they try to flee the country
More than 400,000 Ukrainians have already made the long, cold journey to Poland — and more are on the way.
“I do not want to leave but it’s completely dangerous to stay here,” Kyiv resident Tatyana Dichenko told CBS News.
The European Union says 4 million people could be forced to flee.
At a receiving center a few miles from a border crossing, volunteers from all over Europe have come to offer free rides, work and places to stay.
Freidrisch Huttenr drove all night from Germany, and he says Europeans have been much more divided about taking in refugees from other non-European conflicts.
“Racial is always a hard and bad word, but for a fact it is easier to take in people from the same continent,” Huttenr said. There are reports that African and Middle-Eastern refugees are having trouble leaving Ukraine.
In addition to private citizens, some hotels in Rzeszow are offering rooms at no cost. Train tickets are free for Ukrainians, and Airbnb says it will offer free short-term housing for 100,000 refugees.
Transgender woman says transphobia and discriminatory laws keeping her hostage in Kyiv
Zi Faámelu was born and raised in Crimea, an area of Ukraine that was invaded and taken over by Russia in 2014. Now the 31-year-old lives in Kyiv, the capital city that has been under Russian siege for nearly a week. She is running out of food and hasn’t left her house for days as gunfire erupts outside.
And she says she can’t leave.
Faámelu, who is transgender, said that transphobia is pervasive in the city and neighboring countries, and fears that if she leaves, the tension of the ongoing conflict will make her more susceptible to violence. Faámelu was previously a popular contestant on the Ukrainian singing competition show “Star Factory.”
“Sometimes we think it’s just all a dream, that we’re stuck inside some kind of a video game. Because you just live in a quiet society, and then you hear bombings and you wake up to the sound of bombings,” she said. “…A few hours ago I heard bombings and my windows were shaking. … I’m literally scared for my life.”
U.S. nuclear posture has not changed in response to Putin’s announcement
The head of U.S. Strategic Command, which is in charge of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, said Tuesday he’s satisfied with the current U.S. posture and has recommended no changes.
Navy Admiral Charles Richard, commander of Strategic Command, was asked during a House subcommittee hearing what steps he was taking in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement Sunday that he was putting nuclear forces on heightened alert. Richard said he stayed in Omaha, Nebraska, the home of Strategic Command, in order to assess the announcement.
“Part of why I’m in Omaha is a part of our ability to assess and be satisfied in terms of our defensive posture,” Richard said. “I am satisfied with the posture of my forces. I have made no recommendations to make any changes.”
Biden says he’s determined to see all allies on the same page on sanctions
President Biden on Tuesday, in an otherwise off-the-record session with journalists, said his goal is for all of the United States’ allies to be on board with sanctions against Russia.
“My determination is to see that the EU, NATO, all of our allies are on the same exact page on sanctions against the Russian invasion,” the president said. “The one thing that gives us power is to impose consequences.”
More on how long Ukraine may withstand Russian assault
A U.S. official tells CBS News that a tactical seizure of Ukraine is possible within the next 4-6 weeks, based on the assessments of what is currently taking place on the ground with the Russian military.
As David Martin has reported, it is expected to take one week before Kyiv is surrounded, and another 30 days could elapse before Ukraine’s capital is seized. This U.S. official says it is not clear whether Russia would gradually strangle the city or engage in street-to-street fighting. These scenarios were laid out for members of Congress Monday as the initial battle to destroy the Ukrainian military and government. It is also not clear whether Russia would then decide to go west toward Lviv or as far west as the Polish border.
The situation is dynamic, so this remains an estimate on what is militarily possible. This U.S. official also could not say when the sanctions that have been rolled out so far will have a practical impact on the Russian military. The low morale and shortages of food and fuel are not a result of the sanctions now in place. At some point, however, the Russian military will be impacted by the sanctions.
Given the durability of the Ukrainian resistance and its long history of pushing Russia back, the U.S. and Western powers do not believe that this will be a short war. The U.K. foreign secretary estimated it would be a 10-year war. Lawmakers at the Capitol were told Monday it is likely to last 10, 15 or 20 years — and that ultimately, Russia will lose.
Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. attending State of the Union address
The Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, will attend the State of the Union address Tuesday night as a guest of first lady Jill Biden, according to the White House. The ambassador will sit in the first lady’s box.
Russian troops have been running out of food and fuel, U.S. senior defense official says
The Russian advance on Kyiv has slowed in the past few days because of logistical and sustainment problems, including running out of food for troops, according to a senior defense official.
“We are also picking up signs that they’re having problems feeding their troops, that they’re- not only are they running out of gas, but they are running out of food,” the official said Tuesday.
The Russian advance on Ukraine’s capital has made no appreciable movement since Monday, according to the official, and the main advance forces are still about 25 kilometers (15 miles) out from the city center.
Russian troops have faced stiff resistance from the Ukrainians. The Russians’ slow progress could also be deliberate to give them time to reassess how to gain momentum, the official said.
“One reason why things appear to be stalled north of Kyiv is that the Russians themselves are regrouping and rethinking and trying to adjust to the challenges that they’ve had to date,” the official said.
There are indications that morale among the Russian troops is flagging, and several units have surrendered, some without even putting up a fight. According to the official, some of the soldiers are conscripts who have never been in combat before and who might not even have been told they were going to participate in combat.
Towering home to Russian diplomats in N.Y. has long been an enigma
Mystery and intrigue have always surrounded the Russian Diplomatic Compound in New York. Tall steel fencing and cameras, too.
The 20-story white building is unmissable. It towers over the tree-lined Henry Hudson Parkway and is far taller than any nearby structure in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood. It is home to the families of diplomats serving in the Russian Mission to the United Nations – and maybe also a few spies.
Pelosi says Congress may add Ukraine aid to spending bill
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday it’s possible Congress will include additional aid for Ukraine in the omnibus spending bill Congress is currently negotiating.
Pelosi said there are a “couple of different opportunities” for approving more aid, including through the spending bill. The current short-term spending bill expires after March 11.
It’s unclear exactly how much aid would be included.
-Ellis Kim, Kathryn Watson
U.S. official says Russia could isolate Kyiv in a week, take it within 30 days after that
The current U.S. assessment is that Russian forces could isolate Kyiv in a week and take the city within 30 days after that, according to a U.S. official.
The assessment is that the Russians are worried about the Ukrainian resistance to the north in Chernihiv and that if Russian forces continue to move west toward Kyiv, it will be exposed to attacks in the rear from the Ukrainian forces fighting at Chernihiv.
The Russian advance in the south is not proceeding as rapidly as planned but is making steady progress, the official said. The aim appears to be to link up forces coming from the south with forces coming down from Kharkiv, consolidate their positions in the east and then move west, but not all the way to the Polish border, leaving Lviv as the capital.
Biden and Zelensky speak by phone
President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke by phone for just over 30 minutes Tuesday, a White House official said.
Zelensky said on Twitter he and Mr. Biden discussed sanctions imposed on Russia and military assistance to Ukraine.
“We must stop the aggressor as soon as possible,” Zelensky tweeted. “Thank you for your support!”
Ukraine’s president spoke earlier Tuesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about Russian troops’ shelling of residential neighborhoods in Ukraine. Zelensky said he “emphasized the need to close the sky” over Ukraine, an apparent reference to a request for a no-fly zone over the country.
“The work on Ukraine’s accession to the #EU needs to be accelerated,” he said in a tweet about the call.
Asked Monday about Zelensky’s calls for NATO and the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said doing so would essentially be a “step toward” sending U.S. troops to fight against Russia, which Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he will not do.
“A no-fly zone would require implementation. It would require deploying U.S. military to enforce, which would be a direct conflict- potentially a direct conflict and potentially war with Russia, which is something we are not planning to be a part of,” she told reporters.
Russia banned from international ice skating events
The International Skating Union (ISU) announced it is barring all Russian ice skaters from participating in international skating competitions.
The ISU said in a statement that no skaters from Russia and Belarus “shall be invited or allowed to participate in International ice skating Competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events.” Belarus is a close ally of Russia.
Ukraine says 5 killed in Russian attack on Kyiv TV tower
Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations said Russian strikes on the Kyiv TV tower killed five people and left five more wounded.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko shared a video of the tower being hit. Klitschko said an electrical substation powering the tower and a control room on the tower were damaged as a result.
The tower is located near Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, Andriy Yermak, said on Facebook that a “powerful missile attack on the territory where the (Babi) Yar memorial complex is located” is underway.
Babi Yar, a ravine in Kyiv, is where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.
U.N. seeks billions in humanitarian aid to help Ukrainians in their “darkest hour”
The United Nations and humanitarian agencies have launched an emergency appeal to raise $1.7 billion, citing a “steep rise in humanitarian needs as essential supplies and services are disrupted and civilians flee the fighting.” The U.N. estimates that 12 million Ukranians need protection and relief.
“Families with small children are hunkered down in basements and subway stations or running for their lives to the terrifying sound of explosions and wailing sirens,” U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said Tuesday as the U.N. agencies launched the appeal for nations to contribute funds. “Casualty numbers are rising fast.”
“This is the darkest hour for the people of Ukraine,” he said. “We need to ramp up our response now to protect the lives and dignity of ordinary Ukrainians. We must respond with compassion and solidarity.”
At least 677,000 people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, and many more are expected to leave.
The World Food Program launched an emergency operation in the country “to provide urgent food assistance for 3.1 million people fleeing the conflict,” said David Beasley, the program’s executive director.
Ukraine’s parliament says Russia fired at Kyiv TV tower
Ukraine’s parliament said Russian forces fired at the TV tower in Kyiv on Tuesday.
The parliament posted a photo of clouds of smoke around the tower.
Local media reported that there were several explosions and that Ukrainian TV channels stopped broadcasting shortly afterward.
At least 677,000 Ukrainians have fled their country
At least 677,000 Ukrainians have fled their country as of Tuesday, the sixth day of Russia’s invasion, according to UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency.
It’s an exodus that shows no signs of slowing, and appears set to become the largest refugee crisis in Europe this century, UNHCR says.
At Ukraine’s border with Poland, refugees line up for more than 20 miles in freezing temperatures, yearning for safety, Chris Livesay reports for “CBS Mornings.”
Visa, Mastercard block services to sanctioned Russian banks
Visa and Mastercard said they are blocking services to Russian banks, complying with U.S. sanctions levied on the nation amid its war against Ukraine.
The crippling sanctions are designed to block Russia from tapping the global financial system, ranging from freezing assets at major Russian banks — including the state-owned VTB, and prohibiting U.S. citizens from participating in any transactions with Russia’s Central Bank, its National Wealth Fund or the Russia Ministry of Finance.
Putin stripped of taekwondo black belt over Ukraine invasion
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn strong condemnation around the world, from officials to corporations and the small communities in between. On Monday, World Taekwondo voiced its own opposition — and stripped Putin of his black belt.
World Taekwondo, the international governing body of the sport, said that Russia’s attack on Ukraine goes against the group’s vision of “Peace is more precious than triumph,” as well as the values of respect and tolerance.
Wide support for Russia sanctions – CBS News poll
U.S. actions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — including sanctions and protecting NATO allies nearby — find wide, bipartisan support from Americans.
But Americans also voice concern about the conflict widening further. And so those who plan to watch President Biden’s State of the Union address say the war — even more so than the economy, inflation, and the pandemic — is the top thing they want to hear about Tuesday night.
-Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Kabir Khanna and Fred Backus
China’s top diplomat calls Ukraine counterpart and says Beijing “deeply regrets” Russia conflict
China‘s foreign minister spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday and called for a resolution to the crisis through negotiation, Chinese state media said, as Beijing treads a difficult diplomatic line on the invasion by its close ally Moscow.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing “deeply regrets that conflict has broken out between Ukraine and Russia, and is paying extreme attention to the harm suffered by civilians”, state broadcaster CCTV reported, adding that Wang called for the two countries to “find a way to resolve the issue through negotiations.”
China has come under mounting pressure from Western nations as it is the only United Nations Security Council member other than Russia that declined to vote in favor of a resolution condemning Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Russia used its power as one of five permanent members of the Council to veto the resolution last week, while China abstained.
China and Russia have deepened their ties in recent years as both nations have become more estranged from the West, and more at odds with the U.S.
President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing in early February to attend the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, but he met with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, during the stop, as he massed his forces around Ukraine’s borders and insisted he had no intention of invading.
Europeans drive hours to offer Ukrainian refugees a ride and some help in Poland
At a receiving station for refugees in a grocery store parking lot in Przemysl, a Polish town very close to Ukraine’s western border, people from all over Poland and Europe have lined up along the bus route to offer rides and housing to those fleeing Russia’s attack.
Many of the volunteers hold signs saying “Germany,” and CBS News spoke with several Germans who had driven all night to come to help strangers fleeing the war.
One German man said he felt he had to come help, as those in need were his “neighbors.”
We met another couple from the south of Germany, near the border with France, who were loading up a van to drive refugees to Strasbourg.
Sitting in one of the van’s seats was a woman who looked to be in her 80s, who started sobbing when we spoke to her.
She was traveling with the family of her son-in-law, who told CBS News they had managed to get on a train out of Kyiv. The man, an Egyptian national, said Ukrainian authorities tried to separate him from his family, as they were evacuating women and children first, but he refused and they managed to stay together.
They had no plan and nowhere to sleep, but he said from the moment they reached Poland, everything was taken care of. Now they’re going to Germany to see what happens next.
Through sobs, the woman in the van mentioned a grandchild she’d had to leave behind, but she was desperate to thank everyone in Poland for their help.
Kyiv residents build makeshift barricades and wait for Russian troops, “not with flowers, but with Molotov cocktails”
A number of makeshift barricades have been installed around Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv by groups of neighborhood volunteers in preparation for a possible siege by Russian forces. Satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies show what is said to be a 40-mile-long convoy of Russian military troops and machinery moving toward Kyiv, but still 15-20 miles from the center of the capital.
Made of wood, tires and machine parts, the hope is that the barricades will make it harder for Russian troops to move around the city. In one instance, an abandoned city bus was parked across a road to block incoming Russian vehicles.
“This little, crazy guy [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is shooting at residential districts in Kyiv, in Kharkiv… You can see how many casualties there are. We cannot let him go anymore,” Zhanna, a volunteer working on one of the barricades, told CBS News.
“What you see here is an attempt by local people to organize themselves and not allow this scum to be on our land… There is no place for defeat. We have no place to run away, and we don’t plan to live out of Kyiv or our country. We try to be scary, so we are waiting for them. And we wait for them not with flowers, but with Molotov cocktails,” she said.
Ukraine’s Zelensky asks EU to “prove you are with us”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an impassioned video address to the European Parliament on Tuesday, asking for Ukraine to be treated as an equal member of Europe.
“We are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms, for life. And now we are fighting for survival. This is the highest of our motivation, but we are fighting also to be equal members of Europe,” Zelensky said. “We have proven our strength. We have proven that, at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you are, so do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans. And then, life will win over death, and light will win over darkness.”
Zelensky said Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, had suffered two large missile attacks on Tuesday, including one that hit its central Freedom Square.
“This morning was a very tragic one for us… two cruise missiles hit Kharkiv,” he said, referring to a Russian attack on the country’s second most populous city. Kharkiv, only about 25 miles from the Russian border, has been hammered by Russian artillery for at least a day. Emergency services said at least 10 people were killed in the city on Tuesday and many more injured.
“This is the largest square in Europe, called Freedom Square,” Zelensky said. “Can you imagine? This morning, two missiles hit this Freedom square. Dozens killed. This is the price of freedom.”
Charles Michel, president of the EU’s governing political council, said European Union institutions and governments would have to look seriously at Ukraine’s “symbolic, political, and legitimate” request for membership in the bloc, though he said there was no unity on the issue.
“It is going to be difficult,” Michel said. “We know there are different views in Europe.”
Ukrainian mom recounts “horror” of frantic escape from Kyiv after reaching safety in Florida
“It’s like horror. I never imagine I have five minutes – I must take all my cases and run, run from Kyiv,” Victoria Hurtova, who left Kyiv with her 9-month old baby, told CBS Miami this week about her harrowing escape from Ukraine.
Now safe in Florida, Hurtova said she and her husband Dennis decided to make a run for it with his 9-year-old twins, Matthew and Mark, and baby Anna after their home in Ukraine’s capital was hit by shelling.
“It’s really biggest joy that can happen,” Tania Adolf, Victoria’s mother, told CBS Miami.
The young family’s last days in Ukraine were tense, and she documented their escape on her iPhone.
Watch CBS Miami’s full report in the player below.
U.K. says it’s first nation to ban “ALL ships with ANY Russian connection whatsoever” from ports
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Tuesday that he United Kingdom had “just become the first nation to pass a law involving a total BAN of ALL ships with ANY Russian connection whatsoever from entering British ports.”
The U.K. government has been proactive for weeks in sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, joining the U.S. and European Union nations in blocking access by a number of Russian banks to the international SWIFT transfer system, and cracking down on the U.K. assets of Russian oligarchs.
In his tweet on Tuesday, Shapps urged “all countries to do the same in support of the people of Ukraine.”
Speaking later on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British ports ban on all vessels linked to Russia would take effect within hours.
U.N. says “about 1 million” displaced from homes inside Ukraine by Russian invasion
The United Nation’s refugee agency said on Tuesday an estimated one million people had been displaced inside Ukraine by the Russian invasion, in addition to hundreds of thousands who have fled abroad.
“We still don’t have reliable figures regarding the number of people displaced inside Ukraine but we estimate that it has to be about one million people who have fled internally or who are currently on a train, a bus or in a car trying to get to a safety,” Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR representative to Ukraine, told a press conference in Stockholm.
Ukrainian envoy says Russia has used cluster and vacuum bombs
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, along with rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have accused Russia of using cluster bombs and vacuum bombs in its attack on Ukraine.
Both types of weapons are widely condemned by international organizations, and a number of countries — though not Russia or the U.S. — have signed a treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. Thermobaric or vacuum bombs are prohibited by the Geneva Convention, of which Russia is a signatory.
Cluster bombs explode and release smaller bombs or bomblets that can wreak havoc if used in areas with civilians present. Vacuum bombs suck in oxygen to create a high-temperature explosion with a larger shockwave than traditional bombs and are capable of vaporizing human bodies.
“They used a vacuum bomb today,” Ambassador Oksana Markarova said Monday. Videos posted online show a purported detonation of one of the weapons, but U.S. officials have not confirmed their use in Ukraine yet and CBS News cannot independently verify the claims.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said if the reports “were true, it would potentially be a war crime.”
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted on Tuesday that “the Russian troops don’t conduct any strikes against civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” and he rejected the accusations of cluster or vacuum munitions as fabrications.
CBS News has witnessed first hand significant damage to civilian housing and other non-military infrastructure from Russia’s artillery barrage in major Ukrainian cities.
Port city of Mariupol loses power after Russian assaults
The key southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea lost power due to attacks from advancing Russian forces, the head of the region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said Tuesday.
“Mariupol and Volnovakha are ours!” Kyrylenko wrote on Facebook. “The two cities are under pressure from the enemy but they are holding on. In Mariupol, electricity lines have been cut and the city is without power.”
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said Tuesday his city was constantly being shelled, leaving civilians dead and damaging infrastructure, according to the Reuters news agency.
“We have had residential quarters shelled for five days. They are pounding us with artillery, they are shelling us with GRADS, they are hitting us with air forces,” Boichenko said. “We have civilian infrastructure damaged – schools, houses. There are many injured. There are women, children killed.
Central square of Ukraine’s second-largest city shelled, governor says
The central square of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was shelled by advancing Russian forces Tuesday, hitting the building of the local administration, regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said.
“This morning the central square of our city and the headquarters of the Kharkiv administration was criminally attacked,” Sinegubov said in a video on Telegram. “Russian occupiers continue to use heavy weaponry against the civilian population,” he said, adding that the number of victims wasn’t yet known.
He posted footage of the massive blast and debris inside the building.
Kharkiv, a largely Russian-speaking city near the Russian border, has a population of around 1.4 million.
It’s been a target for Russian forces since President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.
Russian army on outskirts of southern Ukrainian city Kherson, mayor says
The Russian army on Tuesday reached the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, near Moscow-controlled Crimea, and is setting up checkpoints on its outskirts, the city’s mayor said.
“The Russian army is setting up checkpoints at the entrances of Kherson,” mayor Igor Kolykhayev said on Facebook. “Kherson has been and will stay Ukrainian,” he said.
Zelensky: Increased Russian shelling was meant to pressure Ukraine delegation at talks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian troops have intensified their shelling of Ukraine, in an effort to force his government into making concessions during talks held Monday.
In a video address late Monday, Zelenskyy said “the talks were taking place against the backdrop of bombing and shelling of our territory, our cities. Synchronizing of the shelling with the negotiating process was obvious. I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method.”
The president gave no details about the hours-long talks themselves. But he said Ukraine isn’t prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery.”
Zelenskyy says Kyiv, the capital, remains “a key goal” for the Russians and that Russian forces have also shelled the city of Kharkiv with rocket artillery.
Huge Russian convoy approaching Kyiv
A huge Russian military convoy was massing on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital Tuesday as fears grew the invading forces were set to launch devastating assaults aimed at taking control of Kyiv and other major cities.
Satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed a long build-up of armored vehicles and artillery starting 18 miles north of the city.
The Russian army has been regrouping and massing its forces over the past 24 hours “primarily to encircle and take control of Kyiv and other major cities,” the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces wrote on Facebook.
The column is more than 40 miles long and covers the entire road from near Antonov airport outside Kyiv to the town of Prybirsk, U.S. satellite imaging company Maxar said.
“Some vehicles are spaced fairly far apart while in other sections, military equipment and units are traveling two or three vehicles abreast on the road,” Maxar said.
The images also showed “additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units” in southern Belarus near the Ukraine border.
Eastern city Kharkiv’s mayor Igor Terekhov, quoted by Ukrainian media, warned that Moscow’s armored vehicles and tanks are “everywhere around the city.”
U.S. expands Russia sanctions, targets Central Bank
“Today was very sobering”: House members react to classified Ukraine briefing
The House held a classified briefing on Ukraine with the White House national security team on Monday. One member who was in the room told CBS News that the timetable laid out in the briefing showed that Kyiv would likely be “encircled within days.” How long it takes for Kyiv to fall depends on Ukrainians’ will to fight, the member said, adding that giving specifics is like shooting in the dark. The member stressed there are still a lot of unknowns, including what exactly Russia’s strategy will be in Kyiv.
Representative Andy Kim, a former member of the National Security Council, told CBS News that “today was very sobering in terms of telling us how this is probably going to go on for a very protracted amount of time.
“I think we’re seeing a lot of that will to fight on the Ukrainian side and hopefulness about things,” Kim added. “I think, you know, they’re going to come up against some real challenges here, just as this battle continues. I think there was a sense from this briefing that Russia, while they’ve had some setbacks, they have amassed so much force that they, over time, they continue to be able to just wear down the Ukrainians, especially if the Ukrainians are going to have difficulty in terms of getting resupply and other efforts there.”
House Armed Services Committee chair Adam Smith said what stood out was bipartisan commitment to helping Ukraine “in any way we can,” particularly with respect to weapons and humanitarian assistance. As with other members, he confirmed the briefers did give estimates about when Kyiv might fall, but refused to give specifics.
Smith said there was no discussion of a no-fly zone in the House classified briefing.
Congressman Colin Allred, a Texas Democrat, said Putin’s nuclear threat did come up, but would not go into detail. “The only thing I could say is we’re taking it very seriously,” Allred said.
-Caroline Linton, Ellis Kim, Nikole Killion
Bipartisan group of senators ask Biden to shield Ukrainians from deportation
A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers asked President Biden on Monday to temporarily shield Ukrainians living in the U.S. from deportation, citing the dangerous conditions in Ukraine, which is under a large-scale Russian military attack.
Forty-two senators — 40 Democrats and two Republicans — said the Biden administration should offer Ukrainians in the U.S. access to Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian deportation relief program for immigrants whose native countries have been beset by war, natural disasters or other crises.
The ongoing Russian military offensive in Ukraine has made it “too dangerous” for deportees to return there, the lawmakers told Mr. Biden in a letter.
“Forcing Ukrainian nationals to return to Ukraine in the midst of a war would be inconsistent with America’s values and our national security interests,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
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” on 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.