Live updates: US official: Belarus may join Ukraine invasion –

Posted By on February 28, 2022

Politics A woman holds a sign at a rally in Times Square to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman) The Associated Press

By The Associated Press, Associated Press

The latest on the Russias invasion of Ukraine:

WASHINGTON A senior U.S. intelligence official says Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine as soon as Monday to fight alongside Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week.

Belarus has been providing support for Russias war effort, but so far has not taken a direct part in the conflict.

The American official has direct knowledge of current U.S. intelligence assessments and says the decision by Belarus leader on whether to bring Belarus further into the war depends on talks between Russia and Ukraine happening in the coming days. The official spoke anonymously to discuss the sensitive information.

Russian forces have encountered strong resistance from Ukraine defenders, and U.S. officials say they believe the invasion has been more difficult, and slower, than the Kremlin envisioned, though that could change as Moscow adapts.

James LaPorta


CLEVELAND Russia has apparently rendered Facebook largely unusable across leading Russian telecommunications providers amid rising friction between Moscow and the social media platform.

The London-based internet monitor NetBlocks reports that Facebooks network of content-distribution servers in Russia was so badly restricted Sunday that content no longer loads, or loads extremely slowly making the platforms unusable.

Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor on Friday announced plans to partially restrict access to Facebook. That same day, Facebooks head of security policy had said the company was barring Russian state media from running ads or otherwise profiting on its platform anywhere in the world.

Facebook says it has also refused a request by the Kremlin not to run fact checks related to Russias invasion of Ukraine on the platform for users inside Russia.

NetBlocks reported earlier that access to Twitter was similarly restricted Saturday. That was a day after Twitter said it was temporarily halting ads in both Ukraine and Russia.

The Twitter and Facebook restrictions can be circumvented inside Russia using VPN software, just as users do in mainland China.


TOKYO Asian stock prices have fallen after Western nations moved to tighten sanctions against Russia and as President Vladimir Putin escalated tensions by ordering Russian nuclear forces on high alert.

U.S. futures fell, with the contract for the S&P 500 down 2.5% early Monday. The stock markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai declined while Sydney was higher.

Russias invasion of Ukraine has caused markets to swing wildly, given the potential impact on inflation, energy supplies and other areas. The Russian ruble has weakened sharply but was steady early Monday at 83.86 to the dollar.

Japan joined moves by the U.S. and Western nations to impose sanctions on Russia, including blocking some Russian banks from the SWIFT global payment system.


BERLIN The United Nations nuclear watchdog says missiles have hit a radioactive waste disposal site in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, but there are no reports of damage to the buildings or indications of a release of radioactive material.

In a statement late Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi says Ukrainian authorities informed his office about the overnight strike. He says his agency expects to soon receive the results of on-site radioactive monitoring.

The report came a day after an electrical transformer at a similar disposal facility in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was damaged.

Such facilities typically hold low-level radioactive materials such as waste from hospitals and industry, but Grossi says the two incidents highlight a very real risk. He says if the sites are damaged there could be potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment.


CANBERRA, Australia Australia will provide lethal military equipment to Ukraine to help the Ukrainians resist the Russian invasion.

The Australian governments announcement Monday gave no details on what material it may be sending. The move follows an offer on Friday of non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies and a $3 million contribution to a NATO trust fund for support of the besieged country.

Australia has imposed sanctions on more than 350 Russian individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin since Thursday.

Australia has also targeted with sanctions 13 individuals and entities in Belarus, including that countrys defense minister, Viktor Khrenin. Belarus is supporting Russia in its war with Ukraine.


TORONTO The two largest media companies in Canada are dropping Russian state TV channel RT from their cable offerings.

Rogers spokesman Andrew Garas says Russia Today will no longer be available on its channel lineup as of Monday.

The Bell media company also is removing RT.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is commending the action, saying Russia has been conducting warfare in Ukraine since 2014 and information warfare across the world. He says RT is the propaganda arm of Russian President Vladimir Putins regime that spreads disinformation.


FRANKFURT, Germany An Austria-based subsidiary of Russias state-owned Sberbank has been ruled likely to fail after depositors fled due to the impact of Russias invasion of Ukraine.

The European Central Bank said early Monday that the bank had 13.6 billion euros in assets at the end of last year, but has experienced significant deposit outflows due to geopolitical tensions.

The ECB says Vienna-headquartered Sberbank Europe AG is likely to be unable to pay its debts or other liabilities as they fall due. The bank is a fully owned subsidiary of Russias Sberbank, whose majority shareholder is the Russian government.

Europes bank resolution board separately says it has imposed a payments ban on money owed by the bank and a limit on how much depositors can withdraw. The board will decide on further steps, which could include restructuring, selling or liquidating the bank.

Sberbank Europe operates 185 branches and has more than 3,933 employees.


KYIV, Ukraine Ukraines Interior Ministry says 352 Ukrainian civilians have been killed during Russias invasion, including 14 children. It says an additional 1,684 people, including 116 children, have been wounded.

he ministrys statement Sunday does not give any information on casualties among Ukraines armed forces.

Russia has claimed that its troops are targeting only Ukrainian military facilities and says that Ukraines civilian population is not in danger.

Russia has not released any information on casualties among its troops. The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged on Sunday only that Russian soldiers have been killed and wounded, without giving any numbers.


RIO DE JANEIRO Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says his government will remain neutral regarding Russias invasion of Ukraine.

Bolsonaro said he had a two-hour long conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday to talk about the war and assured Russias leader that Brazil will keep a neutral position. However, Brazils foreign ministry later said Bolsonaro did not speak to Putin on Sunday, but rather was referring to his two-hour meeting with the Russian during a visit to Moscow earlier this month.

Brazils ultra conservative president said Sunday that he does not want to bring the consequences of the conflict to Brazil.

Bolsonaro says that Russia has no intention of carrying out any massacres and that in some regions of Ukraine 90% of the people want to get closer to Russia.

The Brazilian president also criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying people entrusted the fate of the nation to a comedian.


WASHINGTON The U.S. for the first time has approved the direct delivery of Stinger missiles to Ukraine as part of a package approved by the White House on Friday.

The exact timing of delivery is not known, but officials say the U.S. is currently working on the logistics of the shipment. The officials agreed to discuss the development only if not quoted by name.

The decision comes on the heels of Germanys announcement that it will send 500 Stinger missiles and other weapons and supplies to Ukraine.

The high-speed Stingers are very accurate and are used to shoot down helicopters and other aircraft. Ukrainian officials have been asking for more of the powerful weapons.

The Baltic states have also been providing Ukraine with Stingers since January, and in order to do that had to get U.S. permission.


TORONTO Canada will send an additional $25 million worth of defensive military equipment to Ukraine in an effort to help the country defend against Russias invasion.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly says the equipment includes helmets, body armor, gas masks and night-vision gear.

She says it will be routed through Poland to get there as quickly as possible.

Anand says Canada will offer up cybersecurity experts who can help Ukraine defend its networks against cyber attacks that are increasingly forming part of modern-day warfare.


UNITED NATIONS The U.N. Security Council has voted for the 193-member General Assembly to hold an emergency session on Russias invasion of Ukraine on Monday.

The vote on Sunday to authorize an emergency meeting was 11 in favor, Russia opposed, and China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. That was the exact same vote on a resolution Friday demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops. But in that case, Russia used its veto and the resolution was defeated.

Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya asked for the General Assembly meeting to be held under the so-called Uniting for Peace resolution, initiated by the United States and adopted in November 1950 to circumvent vetoes by the Soviet Union during the Korean War.

That resolution gives the General Assembly the power to call emergency meetings when the Security Council is unable to act because of the lack of unanimity among its five veto-wielding permanent members the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

MOSCOW The U.S. Embassy in Moscow urged American citizens in Russia to think about leaving the country immediately on Sunday, as some airlines halt flights there and some countries close their skies to Russian aircraft.

U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available, the Embassy said in a statement on its website.

U.S. officials in recent weeks have urged Americans not to travel to Russia, and warned that the U.S. government could not help in any evacuation of Americans from there.

An earlier alert recommended Americans develop contingency plans about how to leave the country if necessary.

The European Union was among those announcing Sunday they were closing their airspace to Russian flights


NEW YORK CITY New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order on Sunday forbidding her state from doing business with Russia. The order includes canceling its investments in Russia.

During a press conference in Albany, the governor said her state would also welcome refugees from the besieged country. Hochul said New York is home to the largest Ukrainian population in the United States.

If you need a place to stay, you want to come over here, we will help you become integrated into our community, she said.

The economic sanctions follow those issued by President Joe Biden to help siphon resources from the Russian government, which launched its long-expected invasion of Ukraine last Thursday.

It remains to be seen how Hochuls move will aid the effort to severely squeeze the Russian economy in the global effort to get Russian President Vladimir Putin to retreat.


KYIV, Ukraine As Russian troops draw closer to the Ukrainian capital, Kyivs mayor is both filled with pride over his citizens spirit and anxious about how long they can hold out.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, after a grueling night of Russian attacks on the outskirts of the city, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there were no plans to evacuate civilians if Russian troops managed to take Kyiv.

We cant do that, because all ways are blocked, he said. Right now we are encircled.

When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the city of 2.8 million people initially reacted with concern but also a measure of self-possession. However, nerves started fraying when grocery stores began closing and the citys famously deep subway system turned its stations into bomb shelters.

The mayor confirmed to the AP that nine civilians in Kyiv had been killed so far, including one child.


NEW YORK Some early signs are emerging of significant economic consequences to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine three days ago. While official quotes for the Russian ruble were unchanged at roughly 84 rubles to the dollar, one online Russian bank, Tinkoff, was giving an unofficial exchange rate of 152 rubles over the weekend.

Videos from Russia showed long lines of Russians trying to withdraw cash from ATMs, while the Russian Central Bank issued a statement calling for calm, in an effort to avoid bank runs. Reports also showed that Visa and Mastercard were no longer being accepted for those with international bank accounts.

Banks and credit card companies dealing with Russia are going into lock down mode given the fast pace and increasing bite of the sanctions, said Amanda DeBusk, a partner with Dechert LLP.

Russia may have to temporarily close bank branches or declare a national bank holiday to protect its financial system, analysts said.

If theres a full-scale banking panic, thats a driver of crisis in its own right, said Adam Tooze, a professor of history at Columbia University and Director of the European Institute. A rush into dollars by the Russian general population moves things into an entirely new domain of financial warfare.


MOSCOW The Russian military said Sunday that some of its troops were killed and some were wounded in Ukraine admitting for the first time that it had suffered casualties since the Russian invasion.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Sunday there are dead and wounded among our comrades, without offering any numbers, but adding that Russias losses were many times fewer than those of Ukraines forces.

It was the first time Russian military officials mentioned casualties on their side. Ukraine has claimed that its forces killed 3,500 Russian troops. Konashenkov also said that since the start of the attack Thursday, the Russian military have hit 1,067 Ukrainian military facilities, including 27 command posts and communication centers, 38 air defense missile system and 56 radar stations.

Konashenkovs claims and Ukraines allegations that its forces killed thousands of Russian troops cant be independently verified.


KYIV, Ukraine Hundreds of people protested Russias invasion of Ukraine in Belarus on Sunday. The protests came despite the fact that the authoritarian Belarusian government has sided with Moscow.

The anti-war rallies spanned at least 12 Belarusian cities, and human rights advocates reported that more than 170 people have been arrested. In the capital of Minsk, demonstrators marched in different parts of the city carrying Ukrainian flags. A large pile of flowers kept growing at the building of Ukraines Embassy.

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Live updates: US official: Belarus may join Ukraine invasion -

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