UN chief warns Russia that Russian actions could cause havoc

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Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, says Russia’s attack against Ukraine — when he appealed to President Vladimir Putin for his troops to be stopped — was the “most saddest moment” in his five-year tenure.

The U.N. chief opened Wednesday’s emergency Security Council meeting by appealing to Putin urgently: “In the name and humanity, bring back your troops to Russia.”

However, Putin declared that he would launch a “special military operations” in eastern Ukraine during the meeting.

Guterres later called on the Russian president for his withdrawal and said: “In the Name of Humanity, do not allow to begin in Europe what could have been the most devastating war since the start of the century with consequences not just devastating for Ukraine but also tragic for Russia Federation. We cannot even imagine the impact on the global economy.”

Guterres stated that a war would result in deaths and displacement, and people will lose faith in the future. He also said that Russia’s actions could harm the global economy.

Guterres stated, “What is clear to me is that the war doesn’t make sense.” He stressed that the U.N. Charter is in violation and that the war will cause suffering that Europe has not experienced since the Balkans crisis of the 1990s.

BEIJING — The Asian stock market plunged, and oil prices surged following President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of Russian military action against Ukraine.

Tokyo and Seoul lost 2%, while Hong Kong and Sydney fell more than 3% on Thursday. Unease over possible Russian supply disruptions caused oil prices to jump nearly $3 per barrel.

The benchmark S&P 500 index on Wall Street fell 1.8% earlier to an eight-month low following the Kremlin’s announcement that rebels in eastern Ukraine had asked for military aid.

Investors were already concerned about the potential impact of Federal Reserve plans to lower inflation by pulling ultra-low interest rates and other stimuli that boosted share price, according to reports.

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UNITED NATIONS — The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “declared war” on Ukraine. He also demanded that his Russian counterpart declare that Russia would not bomb or shell Ukrainian cities.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian Ambassador, stated Wednesday night that Vasily Nebenzia, the Russian Ambassador, should not be able to answer the question. Russia currently holds the presidency of Security Council.

The Ukrainian demanded a second emergency meeting of Security Council and urged the U.N. to “stop the war because it’s not too late for de-escalation.”

Kyslytsya asked Kyslytsya if he would play the video of Putin announcing military actions in Ukraine.

Nebenzia responded: “This isn’t called a conflict. This is what we call a special military operation in Donbas.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has condemned Russia’s “unprovoked” and unjustified attack on Ukraine. Biden promises that the U.S., its allies and Russia will “hold Russia accountable.”

Biden said that he will speak to Americans Thursday following a meeting of leaders from the Group of Seven. On Thursday, more sanctions against Russia will be announced.

Biden added that President Putin had chosen a premeditated conflict that would cause a great deal of human suffering and death. Russia is the only one responsible for the destruction and death this attack will cause. The United States, its Allies and Partners will respond in unison and decisive ways. Russia will be held accountable by the rest of the world.”

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation against eastern Ukraine. He claimed it was intended to protect civilians.

Putin stated that the actions were taken in response to threats from Ukraine in a broadcast address on Thursday morning.

He also said that Russia does not have the goal of occupying Ukraine. Putin claims that the Ukrainian “regime” is responsible for the bloodshed.

Putin is also warning other countries about the “consequences” of any interference with Russian actions.

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UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has told Vladimir Putin that Russia will not send troops to Ukraine and should instead “give peace a chance.”

Guterres called an emergency meeting of U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, stating that there were many rumors and indications of an imminent offensive against Ukraine.

Guterres claims that he was not a believer in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that he believed that nothing serious would occur.

He adds, “I was wrong, but I prefer not to be wrong again.” If an operation is indeed being planned, I only have one request: Stop your troops attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already been killed.”

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WASHINGTON — All civilian air traffic over Ukraine has been halted, according to an early Thursday notice sent to crews.

A commercial flight tracking website showed that an Israeli El Al Boeing 787 flying from Tel Aviv to Toronto was abruptly taken out of Ukrainian airspace, before heading over Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

Only one other aircraft is being tracked over Ukraine: A U.S. RQ-4B Global Hawk Unmanned Surveillance Plane. It began flying westward from Ukraine after Russia placed flight restrictions over Ukrainian territory.

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WASHINGTON — Due to the Russian confrontation, the Ukrainian government has closed all airports in Eastern Ukraine between midnight and 7 a.m.

Because of Russian attempts to take control of the airspace, Ukrainian aviation authorities have also declared certain airspaces in the east “danger zones”.

After Russia had banned civilian air traffic over eastern Ukraine, Ukraine responded.

To avoid potentially dangerous conflict with Russian air traffic, buffer zones were established by Ukrainian authorities Wednesday night.

Officials from Ukraine warned pilots last week to watch out for Russian attempts to control the airspace. They also advised them to recognize Ukrainian controllers.

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UNITED NATIONS — At the request of Ukraine who claims there is an imminent threat of a Russian invasion, the U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

This meeting follows a meeting of the 15-member council that was also requested by Ukraine. The session did not support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration for independence for two areas in Ukraine’s eastern region and his announcement that Russian troops will be going there to maintain peace.

Wednesday’s meeting comes as diplomats from the council are finalizing a draft resolution. This resolution would state that Russia is violating international law, the U.N. Charter and a 2015 resolution of the council that endorsed the Minsk agreements that were aimed at restoring peace to eastern Ukraine.

They claim that the resolution would encourage Russia to immediately return to compliance.

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CANBERRA (Australia) — The prime minister of Australia says that Ukrainians living in Australia and whose Australian visas are due to expire at the end June will be permitted to remain an additional six-months.

Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia, also stated Thursday that Ukrainians who apply for visas to Australia will have priority over all other nationalities.

Morrison made the announcement one day after Australia placed sanctions on eight members Russia’s Security Council members in response to Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

A number of financial institutions and banks have been subject to sanctions. Since 2014, sanctions have been in place on the transport, energy and minerals sectors. These sanctions have now been extended to rebel-held parts of Ukraine, which Russia recognizes as independent.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The president of Ukraine rejects Moscow’s claim about his country as a threat to Russia. He warns that a Russian invasion is imminent and could result in tens of thousands more deaths.

The comments were made by President Volodymyr Zeleskyy in a video address on Thursday morning.

He spoke emotionally in Russia and said that the people and government of Ukraine wanted peace. We will not back down if we are attacked and threaten the freedom and lives our people.

Zelenskyy claims that he attempted to contact Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday night, but the Kremlin refused to answer.

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WASHINGTON — The White House said that the request of Ukrainian separatists to Russia for military assistance in the face alleged “aggressions” by the Ukrainian government was an example of “false flag operations” the West has repeatedly warned against.

For weeks, the U.S. and its allies have claimed that Russia would attempt to use such operations as a pretext to invade Ukraine.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, says Wednesday’s Kremlin announcement that separatists seek help “is an illustration” of such an operation.

Psaki says that they will continue to expose false flag operations and attempts to spread misinformation about the current status on the ground.

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MOSCOW — Russia has requested military assistance from Ukraine to stop the “aggression” by the Ukrainian rebel leaders, according to the Kremlin.

This appeal raises concerns about Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine. It is also a response to Western fears that Moscow could launch an invasion of Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said Wednesday that rebel chiefs wrote to Vladimir Putin to inform him that Ukrainian troops had shelled civilians and caused many to flee.

This is after Putin acknowledged the independence of Russia’s rebel regions in eastern Ukraine, and signed friendship agreements with them. Russian lawmakers granted Putin permission Tuesday to use military force outside of the country.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s lawmakers have declared a national emergency in response to Russian aggression.

The decree of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, was approved by parliament. It will be in effect for 30 days beginning Thursday. Authorities can impose restrictions on movement and block rallies, and ban political parties and organisations “in the interest of national security” and “public order.”

This move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Monday move to recognize independence in two rebel areas of eastern Ukraine. The region has been in conflict for nearly eight years with pro-Russian rebels, resulting in over 14,000 deaths. Putin approved the deployment of Russian troops to the region to “maintain peaceful coexistence” and was granted parliamentary approval for the use of military force in the country.

Ukrainian authorities expressed concerns repeatedly that Russia might try to destabilize Ukraine through its support from Moscow, which includes a pro-Russian political party in Parliament.

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WASHINGTON — House speaker Nancy Pelosi stated Wednesday that Russian aggression against Ukraine is “an attack upon democracy.” She pledged that the United States would stand united with its international allies in quickly imposing sanctions against Russia and providing financial and political support to an independent Ukraine.

Pelosi returned from a diplomatic trip abroad to report on the aggression and compared it to Russia’s interference in the United States’ democratic process during the 2016 elections.

She said that Vladimir Putin will have to pay a price. She was flanked at her table by legislators who were there with her delegation at the Munich security conference.

Pelosi stated that Russia’s president is one the most wealthy men in the world, and warned that sanctions imposed by the U.S. along with its allies will only be the beginning of financial damage to his regime. She said, “We’re doing it together.”

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has authorized sanctions to be taken against the company who built the Russia-to Germany Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, as well as against the CEO of the company for its actions in Ukraine.

Biden stated Wednesday that he had directed his administration to impose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, and its corporate officers. These are the next steps in our initial round of sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. We will not hesitate to take additional steps, as I have stated, if Russia continues its escalated actions in Ukraine.”

Germany announced Tuesday that it would suspend the project indefinitely after Biden claimed that Russia President Vladimir Putin had started “the beginning of an invasion of Ukraine”. He sent troops into two regions of eastern Ukraine to accuse Biden.

Although the pipeline was completed, it has not yet been operational. Critics, including those from the U.S., claim that the pipeline is a geopolitical decision that will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.

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WASHINGTON — Americans are not supportive of a significant U.S. role during the Russia-Ukraine conflict. This is despite President Joe Biden’s threat to increase sanctions and a stronger response that could lead to retaliation by Moscow.

Biden acknowledged that there is a greater likelihood of war in Eastern Europe affecting Americans. However, he has ruled the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine. In the short-term, gas prices in the U.S. may rise. Russian President Vladimir Putin also has a variety of tools that he can use against the U.S. including cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and industrial sectors.

Biden stated that “Defending freedom will come at a cost for us here at home.” “We must be open about this.”

According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 26% believe the U.S. should play a major role during the conflict. Fivety-two percent believe the U.S. should play a minor part in the conflict, while 20% support it.

These findings serve as a reminder to Biden and his fellow Democrats that, while Washington may be consumed by the Ukraine crisis in the months ahead, the priority of voters heading into the midterm election is likely to be their pocketbook issues.

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WASHINGTON — Washington’s top defense official says that the Russian forces positioned along Ukraine’s border are ready for an invasion if they are ordered.

According to U.S. authorities, Russia is estimated to have more than 150,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders with Russia or Belarus.

The official stated that about 80% of these forces are currently in “what we would consider forward postures, ready to go”, adding that they are within 5-50 kilometers (3 to 31 mile) of the border. Due to the sensitive nature of the information, the official spoke under anonymity.

According to the official, the U.S. has evidence based on intelligence and visual evidence that they have “they (Russian forces), are ready to go now, if given the order.”

Robert Burns, an AP military writer.

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UNITED NATIONS — China’s ambassador to the United Nations is urging a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. He stressed Beijing’s “consistent” position on “securing the sovereignty and territory integrity of all States” and the U.N. Charter.

On Wednesday, Ambassador Zhang Jun, whose nation is often allied with Russia at United Nations, didn’t mention Russia or endorse President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of independence in Ukraine’s separatist regions or Putin’s decision that he send Russian forces as “peacekeepers” to the United Nations General Assembly.

The Chinese ambassador to Ukraine noted that the current situation was rooted in a complex web historical and contemporary factors. He advised that all parties should be restrained and refrain from taking actions that could aggravate tensions.

China calls upon all parties to acknowledge the importance of implementing indivisible security and to continue dialogue and consultation to find reasonable solutions to each other’s problems. Zhang stated that peaceful means must be used on the basis mutual respect and equality.

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BUDAPEST — The prime minister of Hungary said Wednesday that the country will seek to “stay out” of the worsening conflict between Russia, Ukraine.

Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, stated in a Facebook video that “we must do all we can to avoid war.”

He said that Hungary must remain out of the conflict… Hungary’s security being the most important concern.

Orban repeated an earlier announcement by Hungary’s defense ministry that Hungarian soldiers would deploy to the border with Ukraine in preparation for possible arrivals of Ukrainian refugees. Orban is a staunch opponent to migration.

Orban visited Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the month, where he lobbied for more Russia gas shipments.

Peter Szijjarto, the Foreign Minister of Hungary, stated Wednesday that Hungary supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also said that the European Union would support sanctions against Russia.

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GENEVA — The Swiss government has condemned Russia’s recognition that two regions in eastern Ukraine are independent states. It is vowing to ensure that Switzerland doesn’t use its position to evade the European Union and other international sanctions.

The seven-member executive Federal Council said Wednesday that it had decided not to adopt EU sanctions, as it does often, but criticised the “violation” of international law and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Switzerland is not a member of the 27-country EU but is all but surrounded in this regard by four: France, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The independence of Donetsk or Luhansk is not recognized by the Swiss government.

Switzerland is an important international banking centre. Its generally stable hard currency, the Swiss Franc, and its high-tech financial institutions have attracted many international elites and investors, even those from Russia.

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UNITED NATIONS — Russia’s U.N. Ambassador is urging nations around the globe to stop what he calls Ukraine’s violence and “blatant genocide” in the eastern regions of the country, which Moscow declared independent.

As the United States warns Moscow that it is looking for a pretext to invade its neighbor, the Ukraine’s eastern Donbas is a key flashpoint in tensions between Russia & Ukraine. Ukraine denies any aggression against proRussian forces in eastern Ukraine, including Luhansk or Donetsk which border Russia.

Russian President Vladmir Putin declared these republics independent, and plans to send Russia troops as “peacekeepers.”

Vassily Nebenzia (Russia’s U.N. Ambassador) warned the 193-member U.N. General Assembly that “noone intends to go softly or softly with any violaters” of peace in the eastern regions of Ukraine.

He stated that the exodus of tens and thousands of people from Luhansk, Donetsk, and Russia, including 96,000 on Wednesday, shows Ukraine’s disgraceful treatment of those there, calling them “terrorists”.

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UNITED NATIONS — U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield has been telling countries all over the globe that it is time to speak out against Russia’s actions towards Ukraine.

“There is no middle ground. Russia is given a pass for calling for de-escalation by both sides. At a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, Thomas-Greenfield stated that Russia is the aggressor.

She urged Russia to “come back to the negotiating tables and work towards peace.”

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BERLIN — A head of the German parliament’s foreign policy committee said that the government was considering giving additional protective equipment to Ukraine.

After a Wednesday meeting with Annalena Baerbock, Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Michael Roth stated that talks are ongoing with the Ukrainian government to deliver night-vision devices. This was reported by the German news agency dpa.

He suggested that it is possible to provide protective equipment that was no longer required after the withdrawal of the German military from Afghanistan last year.

Germany has refused to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine. This has upset some allies. However, it has stated that it will deliver 5,000 helmets.

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BOSTON — Ukrainian government and banking websites have been knocked offline with another wave of distributed-denial-of-service attacks.

Wednesday’s targets included the defense, foreign, and interior ministries as well as Privatbank which is the largest commercial bank in the country.

Many of these sites were also attacked in the February 13-14 attacks, which the U.S. government and U.K governments immediately blamed on Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. These attacks flood websites with junk traffic, making them impossible to reach.

The DDoS attacks on Wednesday appeared less severe than the previous one, and targeted sites were soon re-accessible as emergency responders thwarted them.

Since 2014, cyberattacks have been a key weapon of Russian aggression against Ukraine. This was after the Kremlin annexed Crimea. Hackers tried to disrupt elections.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union has imposed sanctions on Russia.

These are the first steps of a planned series retaliatory actions that will be ramped up if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders an assault or pushes his forces deeper into Ukraine.

Wednesday’s sanctions targeted Russian officials and several companies, as well as hundreds of lawmakers who voted for recognition of the independence of the southeast Ukraine separatists.

These sanctions include a freeze of assets and travel bans for those named.

These measures are on top of the slew economic and other sanctions Russia has imposed on Russia since its 2014 annexe of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

These sanctions were already applied to Russia’s energy, financial and defense sectors as well as goods that could be used for civilian and military purposes.

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UNITED NATIONS — The foreign minister of Ukraine wants the world to unite against Russia. He claims that Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine will have greater repercussions on the international order.

Dmytro Kuleba stated to the U.N. General Assembly, that Russia’s deployment in rebel-held areas of eastern Ukraine and Moscow’s recognition of rebel regions as independent amounts “to an attack on the United Nations.”

He stated that Russia must respond immediately and decisively to the crisis. This will result in total collapse of international security systems and institutions.

Kuleba advised countries to use strong economic sanctions, strong messaging and “active diplomacy”, to force Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

He said that “We are at an important juncture in world history, and the actions we take today will determine it for many years to come”, drawing comparisons with the events leading up to the two world wars of the last century.

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BRUSSELS — European leaders are planning an emergency summit in Brussels on Thursday night to address tensions between Russia, Ukraine.

Charles Michel, President of the European Union Council, stated in an invitation letter to 27 leaders that “force and coercion to alter borders has no place” in the 21st Century.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz planned to host a virtual meeting of Group of Seven leaders for 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon. The meeting was announced last Wednesday.

Michel praised heads of state and government for their unity in recent days to adopt sanctions against Russia and prevent its plans to invade Ukraine.

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MOSCOW — Russia is evacuating its Kyiv embassy as there are fears that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, might order an invasion.

Russian state news agency Tass reported Wednesday that Russia started removing personnel from its diplomatic posts within Ukraine.

This move was made a day after Russian Foreign Ministry had announced plans to evacuate due to threats against Russians living in Ukraine.

Ukraine also urged its citizens not to go to Russia, as Russia was preparing for a military confrontation. Around 150,000 Russian troops were stationed around Ukraine’s borders.

Putin was granted permission to use military force in his country on Tuesday. The West responded with sanctions

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BRUSSELS — A deputy chairman of Russia’s State Duma claimed that the European Union has placed sanctions on Russia.

Pyotr Tolstoy is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and said Wednesday that Moscow was planning to respond to the sanctions. He didn’t give any details.

Tolstoy stated to RTBF, a Belgian broadcaster, that EU sanctions were “worthless.”

Tuesday’s EU sanctions were announced against 351 Duma legislators, who among other things voted for formal recognition of pro-Russian separatist areas in Ukraine.

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MOSCOW — Ukraine’s top diplomat is calling for tougher sanctions against Russia because of its aggressive attitude toward his country.

Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, stated Wednesday via Twitter that “To stop Putin’s further aggression, we ask our partners to impose additional sanctions on Russia immediately.”

He thanked the international sanctions that were imposed against Moscow yesterday. He asked for countries to increase pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kuleba said: “Hit your economy and his cronies. Hit harder. Hit hard. Get going.