Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that 137 Ukrainians have been killed and 316 wounded after the first day of fighting, and he said Russians were targeting civilian areas, not just military sites. He addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin directly Friday, saying: “There are fights all over the country. Let’s sit down.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, for talks with Ukraine. But Peskov said Putin would send his hawkish defense and foreign ministers and made it clear that Russia still insists on Ukraine’s “denazification and demilitarization,” meaning Kyiv’s capitulation.
President Biden is set to attend an emergency summit with NATO members Friday to discuss the invasion, which has interrupted decades of European peace and threatens to upend the post-Cold War security order.
Here’s what to know
- Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said saboteurs have reached an area several miles north of Kyiv, and it encouraged citizens to fight with molotov cocktails.
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered about 7,000 U.S. service members to deploy to Germany in the coming days to help buttress NATO, according to a senior defense official.
- The U.S. will seek a condemnation of Russia at the United Nations Security Council on Friday, setting the stage for a Russian veto. The European Union approved a second round of sanctions against Russia on Friday.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT
E.U. considers third round of sanctions against Russia even as second round set to launch
BRUSSELS — The European Union is now considering a third round of sanctions against Russia, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said Friday.
With E.U. officials still putting the finishing touches on a second round, Michel said that there is “urgent preparation” for more.
“The senseless suffering and loss of civilian life must stop,” he tweeted Friday.
“Second wave of sanctions with massive and severe consequences politically agreed last night,” he continued. “Further package under urgent preparation.”
Early Friday morning, E.U. officials agreed to their second package of sanctions, which targeted finance, transport and energy, imposed export controls and included new visa measures. It also added more Russians to a sanctions list.
“The package of massive and targeted sanctions European leaders approved tonight clearly demonstrates that it will have maximum impact on the Russian economy and the political elite,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference early Friday.
But the E.U. is facing criticism for not doing enough. Former European Council president Donald Tusk said Friday that some member countries had “disgraced themselves” by not hitting Russia harder.
Poland to ban Russian airlines from its airspace, prime minister says
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced Friday that he is proposing to ban all Russian airlines from flying in Polish airspace.
In a brief statement posted to social media, Morawiecki said Polish airspace would soon be closed to Russian airlines due to the invasion of Ukraine. Poland, which borders Russia and Ukraine, has denounced Russia’s assault on its western neighbor early Thursday from three directions.
“I have ordered the preparation of a resolution of the council of ministers which will lead to the closure of the airspace over Poland to Russian airlines,” Morawiecki tweeted.
The prime minister’s announcement comes after LOT Polish Airlines canceled all flights to Ukraine until further notice. Other airlines, such as Germany’s Lufthansa and Ireland’s Ryanair, have also suspended services into Ukraine.
Russia-Ukraine: In the world’s first crypto war, uncertainty about who will benefit
As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces mount an invasion against Ukraine, two economies that have led the way in embracing cryptocurrency are each turning to it to gain an edge in the geopolitical showdown.
Among them are a Kyiv IT professional who has raised $400,000 in cryptocurrency donations to support the Ukrainian army and Western cryptocurrency activists who are mobilizing on behalf of the Ukrainian people. Then there are fears that Russia could use cryptocurrency to avoid the effects of Western sanctions.
The first major conflict of the crypto era also means that, for the first time, a tool that can move billions of dollars easily across borders is available to be marshaled by both sides.
But how much it could truly influence the war remains to be seen.
Ex-Ukrainian president says Putin is ‘simply mad’ and has ‘come here to kill Ukrainians’
Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on Friday said he’s patrolling the streets of Kyiv with civilian defense forces in response to the Russian invasion from President Vladimir Putin, who Poroshenko called “simply mad.”
In an interview with CNN, Poroshenko, who served as president of Ukraine between 2014 and 2019, was shown wielding a Kalashnikov rifle. The former president, who was defeated in a 2019 election by President Volodymyr Zelensky, was defiant in explaining the goal of the civilian forces.
“We shall deal with Putin like a man who has lost reason. He’s just simply mad. He’s just simply crazy,” Poroshenko said. “He’s just simply evil to come here to kill Ukrainians.”
“We shall deal with Putin like a man with the lost reason. He’s just simply mad. He’s just simply crazy. He’s just simply evil to come here to kill Ukrainians…
And I just want to declare Putin will not stop Ukraine”
Former Ukrainian President Petro @poroshenko to @JohnBerman pic.twitter.com/TzcQF6gNDz
— Nora Neus (@noraneus) February 25, 2022
Poroshenko acknowledged that the country does not have as many arms or weapons as Russia, but he’s been encouraged by the civilians who’ve come out to defend Ukraine.
When CNN anchor John Berman asked him how long he thinks the country can hold out, Poroshenko paused before giving a one-word answer: “Forever.”
“I think that Putin will never catch Ukraine … no matter how many soldiers he has, no matter how many missiles he has, no matter how many nuclear weapons he has,” he said. “We, Ukraine, are free people with a great European future.”
Poroshenko is awaiting trial on charges of “high treason” for allegedly facilitating coal purchases from mines controlled by Russia-backed rebels. He denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated.
Merkel calls Russia attack a ‘profound turning point in the history of Europe’
Germany’s former chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and warned of an impending deep crisis in Europe.
“This war of aggression by Russia marks a profound turning point in the history of Europe after the end of the Cold War,” Merkel told Germany’s DPA news agency on Friday.
“There is no justification whatsoever for this blatant breach of international law, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” she said from Berlin.
Merkel, who has historically been seen as close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people “in these frightful hours and days,” and backed efforts from the European Union, NATO, the United Nations and other global bodies to bring about a swift end to the conflict.
Current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called Thursday “a dark day for Europe,” and said “President #Putin is bringing suffering and destruction upon his immediate neighbours” and endangering countless lives in Ukraine, which he termed “Russia’s sister nation.”
In recent years Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has expanded trade and energy ties with Moscow, including the construction of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline, built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany. Earlier this month, Scholz said Berlin would stop the regulatory approval process following Moscow’s actions toward Ukraine.
Pope Francis makes personal visit to Russian embassy to express concern over Ukraine
Despite leg pain that has forced him to cancel several upcoming events, Pope Francis on Friday morning left the Vatican’s walls for an unannounced visit to Russia’s embassy to the Holy See. A Vatican spokesman said the pope went there to express his “concern for the war.”
The spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said the pope’s meeting lasted for “something more than a half hour.”
The notion of a pope presenting himself at a foreign embassy is highly unusual and marks Francis’s most significant diplomatic move amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Francis, previously, had prayed several times for peace in Ukraine and had made an appeal for Catholics to pray for the nation on Ash Wednesday, March 2.
Francis, during his pontificate, has tried to improve ties with the Russian Orthodox Church and in 2016 became the first pope to meet a Russian Orthodox patriarch. Francis had said last December that a second meeting with Patriarch Kirill was being planned.
Kirill, in a statement Thursday, had called on prayer for the “swift restoration of peace.”
Francis has not publicly made reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in the attack. One of the pope’s top lieutenants, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, had said Thursday that the tragic scenario that “everyone feared” had become a reality. But Parolin also said there was still room for negotiation and for goodwill to prevail.
India avoids condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine, stays away from Biden’s coalition
NEW DELHI — Since Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed a large-scale attack against Ukraine on Thursday, the Biden administration has sought to rally allies and partners to condemn Russian aggression and join in trade and financial sanctions.
One country that has conspicuously rebuffed Biden’s appeals is India, a rising Asian power that relies on Moscow for almost all its advanced weapons.
For years, India has juggled its close relations with Russia — an enduring legacy of the Cold War — with its fast-growing ties with the United States, which has envisioned India as a crucial partner in its long-term strategy to counter China’s rise.
But India’s balancing act is proving increasingly difficult this week as Russian tanks and fighters bear down on Kyiv in a conflict that has drawn a thick line between the West and Russia, with only China as its major economic and diplomatic backer.
Zelensky asks for negotiations — but Russia wants capitulation
As Russian fighters approaching his capital in a war where he says Ukraine has been left on its own, President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday addressed the Russian government by video and said he wanted to “stop the loss of life.”
Directly addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelensky said: “There are fights all over the country. Let’s sit down.”
It was unclear whether that offer will make any difference in the early stages of what the United States has called Moscow’s premeditated war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, for talks with Ukraine. But Peskov said Putin would send his hawkish defense and foreign ministers and made it clear that Russia was still expecting Ukraine’s “denazification and demilitarization,” meaning Kyiv’s capitulation.
Zelensky, in addition to raising the possibility of talks with Russia, offered a cutting assessment of Europe, saying that the continent had the power to “stop this aggression” and suggested that it should be doing more to fight back against Moscow’s moves.
“To Europeans: You have already been blackmailed by gas, you have already been humiliated, and they want to divide you in the same way they are trying to divide Ukraine today,” Zelensky said. “Defend yourselves the way we defend ourselves.”
Before launching the invasion, Putin had demanded Ukraine abandon its aspirations for joining NATO, give up all weapons and recognize Crimea, which he annexed in 2014, as Russian.
China’s Xi urges talks to settle Ukraine conflict in call with Russia’s Putin
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday declared that China supported a negotiated solution to the Kremlin’s conflict with Ukraine, continuing Beijing’s cautious approach in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“China supports Russia and Ukraine to resolve the issue through talks. China’s fundamental position of respecting every country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and complying with the United Nations charter’s mission and principles is consistent,” Xi said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
In the readout, Xi did not criticize Russia’s military assault or refer to it as either an invasion or attack, merely referring to “sudden changes” in eastern Ukraine and adding that “China will determine its position on the Ukraine issue based on the merits of the matter itself.”
He also stopped short of repeating statements from the Chinese Foreign Ministry that have blamed the United States and NATO for provoking Putin, making only a glancing reference to Beijing’s earlier critiques. “[We] must discard Cold War thinking and take seriously and respect every country’s legitimate security concerns,” Xi said.
Putin told Xi that Russia was willing to begin high-level talks with Ukraine, according to CCTV. He also blamed the United States and NATO for repeatedly breaking promises and expanding military installations eastward. The Kremlin has not confirmed CCTV’s characterization of Putin’s comments.
Publicly released details of the conversations continue the careful balancing act China has so far taken in response to the invasion, which comes at a delicate time for Xi, the country’s most powerful leader in decades, who is preparing to take a precedent-breaking third term in the fall.
The 68-year-old Chinese leader has, according to state propaganda, developed a strong personal bond with Putin, as part of a growing alignment with Russia built around common grievances with the United States and the Western-led world order.
‘I’m going to fight to my last drop of blood’: Ukrainians return from abroad to join battle
SHEHYNI, Ukraine — Some Ukrainian men living overseas lined up Friday at border crossings to return to Ukraine and do their part to fight Russia’s onslaught. Others, attempting to leave Ukraine, expressed frustration at being blocked amid a national call to arms.
Ukraine’s border guards stopped all male citizens between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country on Friday, as the Defense Ministry called on residents of one district of Kyiv to make molotov cocktails.
Alexander Gorbenko, 54, complained that there was little he could do to protect his homeland from Russian troops as he parted from his wife and 11-year-old daughter at the Medyka-Shehyni border crossing to Poland, unable to cross with them.
“I just have an air rifle, the cash machines don’t work, and there is no organization,” he said. “I cannot prepare. You cannot just go and buy a weapon. It’s not like the United States.”
He said he would try to protect his home and neighborhood, but not more. “A lot of young guys haven’t been in the military at all. They will just die, like they have been in Donbas,” he said, referring to the area of eastern Ukraine where war has raged for the past eight years.
“If I could go too, I would,” said Vitali, 31, who declined to give his last name, after his wife and child crossed into Poland. “It’s brutal,” he said, with tears in his eyes.
But others raced toward minibuses after passing through the metal border gates. “I’m going to fight,” said a young man weighed down with bags. He said he did not have time to stop and talk.
Viktor, a 22-year-old reservist who was waiting for a ride into Ukraine with four jerrycans full of fuel, said that he left London as soon as he heard the call, flying to the Czech Republic and crossing by land.
“We will fight them back,” he said, adding that he was disappointed with the level of international support. “Even if the United States turned their back on us, we will remember their behavior.”
But Ukraine is his land, he said: “I’m going to fight to my last drop of blood.”
Biden, other leaders to join emergency NATO summit as Russia hits Kyiv
BRUSSELS — President Biden will join an emergency NATO summit Friday morning from the White House Situation Room, conferring with allies to coordinate a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden pledged Thursday to “defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power,” saying the alliance was “more united and determined than ever.”
But the 30-member organization, formed to provide collective security against the Soviet Union, is also being tested more than ever as it charts a path forward while being pulled into a face-off with Russia.
Video: ‘Nowhere to run’ — Ukrainians crowd into subway stations and shelters to take cover
When the sounds of explosions rocked the Ukrainian capital and other cities, many sought shelter the only place they could find: underground.
Hundreds of people flocked to subway stations and basements to take cover from the Russian onslaught that swept across the borders Thursday. Some spent the night there.
In the eastern city of Kharkiv, loud blasts sent families down into a station, with their backpacks and pets, scrambling to understand what could happen next.
“We had to do something, so we came here,” Stas Dikii, a Kharkiv resident, told The Washington Post from the station, where he went for shelter Thursday with his mother and grandmother.
Around him, people sat on the stairs or leaned on trains, scrolling through their phones for news. Others made calls to check on loved ones.
“I’d like to hear in a few hours, or no matter when, some news saying: ‘We have survived. Kharkiv has been saved, everything’s great,’ ” he said. “But if there’s no such news, we will have to stay here.”
Oksana Nipogodneyeva, who joined the crowds with her mother and two daughters, also wondered how long they would be there. “It’s like living in a different reality, something surreal,” she said.
Her youngest daughter could just understand that “the situation is unusual” and was “still all smiles,” Nipogodneyeva said.
“For now, there’s absolutely nowhere to run,” she told The Post. “We have to wait and see what happens. And hope for the best, for this conflict to be resolved peacefully.”
At another station in the capital, people had hunkered down for the night as Ukrainian troops prepared to fend off Russian forces believed to be advancing toward Kyiv.
Photos later showed residents gathering in the basement of a school after their building was damaged. Some rested on the floor, while children played cards and one boy caressed a dog in the shelter.
Taliban comments on Ukraine crisis urge dialogue and peaceful resolution
Some eyebrows were raised on Friday as the Taliban issued a statement calling for the calm and peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine.
The group, which took back full control of Afghanistan in August, said Friday it was “closely monitoring” the situation and expressed particular concern for the “real possibility of civilian casualties.”
“The Islamic Emirate calls for restraint by both parties. All sides need to desist from taking positions that could intensify violence,” said the statement posted online by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi.
Fighting in Ukraine entered a second day on Friday with Russian airstrikes on the capital, Kyiv, and more than 100 people killed so far, according to Ukrainian officials.
Like other nations, the Taliban said it was also concerned for its Afghan nationals in Ukraine, including students and migrants.
In line with its foreign policy of “neutrality,” the Taliban “calls on both sides of the conflict to resolve the crisis through dialogue and peaceful means,” the statement added.
KHARKIV, Ukraine — There were loud booms just now in the center of Kharkiv, much closer than they had been in recent days. Four guys who had been walking on the street started running. One group of people in a long line for the pharmacy looked around confused before dispersing. It’s very snowy today. Smell of sulfur in the air. One upscale hotel told people to take shelter in its underground garage and handed out chairs. There are kids and pets and media crews in here.
Foreign correspondent based in Moscow