Russia hasn’t used full might yet, US cautions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. on Tuesday injected a strong note of caution into the persistent reports that Russian military progress — including by the massive convoy outside Kyiv — has slowed, plagued by food and fuel shortages and logistical problems.

One senior Defense official said that the U.S. has seen Russian military columns literally run out of gas, and in some places running out of food, and that morale is suffering as a result.

But the official added that it is important to be pragmatic. The Russians still have a significant amount of combat power that has not yet been tapped, and “they will regroup, they will adjust, they will change their tactics.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments. Overall, the U.S. assesses that Russia has launched more than 400 missiles into Ukraine, of various types and sizes. As of Tuesday, the Ukrainian air and missile defense systems remain viable and are being used. Also, weapons from the U.S. and others continues to flow into Ukraine. The official said that the aid is getting to the Ukrainian military and troops are “actively using these systems.”

The official said Russians have made progress in the south, moving along two routes out of Crimea – one to the northeast and one to the northwest. It’s not clear that Russians have taken control of Kherson, but heavy fighting continues. And, the official said Russian forces have not yet advanced into Mariupol, but are close enough to strike into the city with long-range weapons.


Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Russia should stop its bombardment of Ukraine before more talks on ending the war are held.

Ukrainian and Russian officials have held one round of talks since the six-day-long war began and reportedly are planning more.

“As for dialogue, I think yes, but stop bombarding people first and start negotiating afterwards,“ Zelenskyy said in a joint interview Tuesday with CNN and the Reuters news agency.


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine has effectively asked that Russia be kicked off the internet.

In a letter sent Monday to the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Ukraine’s deputy minister for digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, cited the “atrocious crimes” of Russia’s invasion, including it’s alleged breach of the Geneva Conventions in attacking civilian targets.

Federov said the crimes “have been made possible mainly due to the Russian propaganda machinery” and cited cyberattacks “from the Russian side” that have impeded the ability of Ukrainians and their government to communicate.

Federov asked that ICANN revoke, permanently or temporarily, the domains .ru and .su and shut down the root servers in Moscow and St. Petersburg that match domain names and numbers.

“Russian citizens must feel the cost of war,” government spokesperson Oleksandr Ryzhenko said Tuesday.

ICANN had no immediate comment but the regional internet naming authority for Europe and the former Soviet Union, RIPE NCC, rejected the request.

In an email to members, RIPE’s executive board said it believes “the means to communicate should not be affected by domestic political disputes, international conflicts or war.”

Kicking Russia off the internet would be an annoyance to Russian hackers but it wouldn’t stop them since they could still use different top-level internet domains. But it would badly isolate the Russian public from international discourse.


MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a decree that prohibits taking more than $10,000 worth of foreign currency in cash and “monetary instruments” out of Russia.

The move comes in response to the crippling sanctions Western nations have imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which this week tanked the ruble and sent Russians flocking to banks and ATM in fear for the fate of their savings.

Other measures Putin ordered this week included obligating Russian exporters to sell 80% of their revenues in foreign currency, prohibiting Russian residents from providing non-residents with foreign currency under loan agreements and from depositing foreign currency into foreign bank accounts.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The United Nations’ top court has scheduled hearings next week into a request by Ukraine for the court to order Moscow to halt its invasion.

Kyiv filed a case with the International Court of Justice on Saturday accusing Russia of planning genocide in Ukraine and asking for urgent “provisional measures” instructing Moscow to halt hostilities.

Lawyers for Ukraine will present arguments March 7 supporting its request. Russia’s lawyers will be given time to respond on March 8.

Ahead of the hearings, the court’s president, U.S. Judge Joan E. Donoghue, sent an urgent message Tuesday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underscoring the necessity for Russia to “act in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on the request for provisional measures to have its appropriate effects.”

The International Court of Justice rules in disputes between states. It often takes years to reach decisions, but orders on provisional measures are often delivered quickly.


UNITED NATIONS — The United States says it is expelling a Russian “intelligence operative” working for the United Nations, in addition to the 12 members of the Russian Mission to the United Nations whose expulsions were ordered Monday for engaging in espionage.

The U.N. was informed Monday that the U.S. was taking action to expel a staff member working for the U.N. Secretariat, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric confirmed.

“We regret that we find ourselves in this situation but are engaging with the host country,” he said Tuesday.

Dujarric refused to comment further on grounds of privacy and the sensitivity of the issue but did say “what makes this decision a little difficult to understand is that the staff member was scheduled to end his assignment on March 14.”

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations said in a statement Monday that the 12 Russian diplomats had “abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Mission said Tuesday: “On Feb. 28, the United States also initiated the process to require the departure of one Russian intelligence operative working at the United Nations who has abused their privileges of residence in the United States.” The spokesperson was not authorized to speak publicly and commented on condition of anonymity.


Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.


GENEVA — Canada’s top diplomat said Tuesday her country will refer Russia to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes over its invasion of Ukraine, a move that will speed up an investigation by the court’s top prosecutor.

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly made the comments after helping lead a walkout of scores of diplomats from the Human Rights Council just as her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, addressed the U.N. human rights body in recorded video remarks.

“Minister Lavrov was being broadcasted and giving his version, which is false about what is happening in Ukraine. And so that’s why we wanted to show a very strong stance together today,” said Joly, flanked by Ukraine’s ambassador and standing behind that country’s blue-and-yellow flag.

On Monday, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, announced that he plans to open an investigation “as rapidly as possible” into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Khan told his team to explore how to preserve evidence of crimes and said the next step is to seek authorization from the court’s judges to open an investigation. However, he added that the process would be speeded up if a member nation of the court were to ask for an investigation in what is known as a referral.

Canada’s announcement will set that acceleration in motion.


JERUSALEM — Holocaust remembrance organizations in Israel are condemning a Russian attack that inflicted damage to the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a statement denouncing the incident, and said Israel would help repair any damage. “We are calling for the preservation and respect for this sacred site,” he said in a tweet that did not mention Russia by name.

The memorial is the site of a massacre of more than 33,000 Jews by Nazi Germany in 1941. It is located on the outskirts of Kyiv and adjacent to the city’s TV tower, where Ukrainian authorities said a Russian attack killed five people.

A spokesman for the memorial said that damage was caused to the Jewish cemetery at the site, but that assessing the full extent of the damage would have to wait until daylight.

The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial’s chairman, Natan Sharansky, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “seeks to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent. It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres.”

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, expressed “vehement condemnation” and called on the international community to take action “to safeguard civilian lives as well as these historical sites.”

“Rather than being subjected to blatant violence, sacred sites like Babi Yar must be protected,” it said.


MOSCOW — A top radio station critical of the Kremlin was taken off the airwaves on Tuesday, its chief editor said and the Associated Press confirmed, after the authorities threatened to shut it down over the coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The move against Echo Moskvy, one of Russia’s oldest radio stations that is critical of the authorities, comes amid growing pressure on Russia’s independent media to cover the attack on Ukraine in accordance to the official line.

Officials on Tuesday have also threatened to block Dozhd, Russia’s top independent TV channel. The Prosecutor General’s office claimed the two outlets spread content inciting extremist activities, as well as “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukraine.

Shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine, Russian officials threatened independent media with closure if their coverage of the attack deviates from the official narrative, including describing the assualt as an “invasion” or “a war”.

The website of the Current Time, a Russian TV channel launched by the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that has been critical of the Kremlin, became unavailable Sunday after the channel reported receiving a notification from the authorities.


OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, urging Biden’s administration to stop importing Russian oil and embrace domestic production.

In his letter, the Republican also urged Biden’s administration to support the construction of more domestic oil and gas infrastructure, including pipelines to transport natural gas to the East Coast.

“The recent events in Ukraine are yet another example of why we should be selling energy to our friends and not buying it from our enemies,” Stitt wrote.

The oil and natural gas industry is a huge driver of Oklahoma’s economy, supporting nearly 390,000 jobs and providing more than $32.7 billion in annual wages in 2019, according to a report from the American Petroleum Institute.

“It is unfathomable and inexcusable that some Americans are forced to depend on Vladimir Putin for their energy needs as he wages war against Ukraine instead of their own country,” Stitt wrote.


ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for an immediate cease-fire between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

“Our call to both Russia and Ukraine is: let the firing stop as soon as possible, let Russia and Ukraine make a beautiful contribution to peace,” Erdogan said Tuesday during a joint news conference with Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, on Tuesday.

The Turkish leader said Turkey welcomes overtures by European Union officials toward Ukraine after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed an application to join the bloc. He urged the EU to “show the same sensitivity” toward Turkey. The country is a candidate to join the EU but its accession talks have been stalled over a number of issues, including the country’s democratic backtracking.

“Are you going to bring Turkey’s (application) on the agenda when someone declares war on it and attacks?” Erdogan said.

Erdogan reiterated that Turkey, which has the second largest army within the alliance, supports NATO’s expansion.


BERLIN — Local authorities in Switzerland are indicating that the company that ran Nord Stream 2 AG, the pipeline that was built to bring Russian gas to Germany and was halted last week, is close to bankruptcy.

Switzerland’s economy minister said on Monday that Nord Stream 2 had dismissed all the employees at its Zug, Switzerland, headquarters.

On Monday, the head of the Zug regional government’s economy department, Silvia Thalmann-Gut, told Swiss outlet Blick TV that “this isn’t a mass dismissal — it’s a mass dismissal if a company would continue to exist. But in this case, it’s a bankruptcy.”

She said she was informed that 100-110 employees were affected, rather than the 140 that the economy minister cited.

The Zug economy department later told German news agency dpa that Nord Stream 2 has “massive payment difficulties” because of sanctions but that no bankruptcy has yet been registered.

In an email, Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek denied that the company was close to bankruptcy but confirmed it had dismissed all its employees in Zug.

The pipeline is owned by Russian-controlled gas giant Gazprom with investment from several European companies.

The German government moved to halt the pipeline’s certification on Feb. 22, after Russia recognized the independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden President then directed his administration to impose sanctions on the operating company.


MOSCOW — Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Tuesday the government has readied measures to temporarily restrict foreign investors from divesting Russian assets, saying the step would help them make “a considered decision” rather than succumb to political pressure of sanctions.

Mishustin said a presidential decree had been prepared imposing “temporary restrictions on exiting from Russian assets.” He did not provide details or say if the restrictions would apply to some forms of investment or to all.

Major Western corporations have come under pressure to divest stakes in Russian companies. Oil company BP said Sunday it would seek to dispose of its stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft and Shell said Monday it would exit all its Russian businesses. Other companies with major stakes include France’s TotalEnergies, which holds 19.4% of natural gas company Novatek.

Russian officials have taken steps to cushion the impact of massive economic sanctions, with the central bank raising interest rates to defend the ruble’s exchange rate, requiring companies to sell foreign exchange earnings, and making unlimited short term credit available to banks.


WASHINGTON — A Ukraine-born U.S. congresswoman delivered an emotional plea for President Joe Biden to step up to save her country from Russia’s invasion.

Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana spoke Tuesday alongside other GOP lawmakers ahead of Biden’s first State of the Union address.

“This is not a war, this is a genocide of the Ukrainian people by a crazy man,” Spartz said, without naming Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The congresswoman wore the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine and said she still has family in the region, including her 95-year-old grandmother. She said Ukrainians “want to be with the United States of America. They want to be free people.”

Biden “must act decisively, fast, or this blood of many millions of Ukrainians will be on his hands, too,” she said.


FRANKFURT, Germany — The International Energy Agency’s 31 member countries have agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves — half of that from the United States.

Tuesday’s decision by the board of the Paris-based IEA is meant “to send a strong message to oil markets” that there will be “no shortfall in supplies” after Russia invaded Ukraine.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement that President Joe Biden approved a commitment of 30 million barrels and that the U.S. is ready to “take additional measures” if needed.

Russia plays an outsized role in global energy markets as the third-largest oil producer.

While Western sanctions have not targeted Russia’s energy industry so far, the invasion has still shaken markets worldwide. Oil prices soared Tuesday. with U.S. benchmark crude surpassing $100 per barrel — the highest price since 2014.


KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces fired at the Kyiv TV tower and Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial, among other civilian sites targeted Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations said the strikes on the TV tower killed five people and left five more wounded.

Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, posted a photo of clouds of smoke around the TV tower, which is a couple miles from central Kyiv and a short walk from numerous apartment buildings. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said an electrical substation powering the tower and a control room on the tower were damaged from the hit.

The head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’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 more than 33,000 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.


GENEVA — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the U.N.’s top human rights body to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine.

The top U.S. diplomat also singled out Russia in recorded remarks delivered to the Human Rights Council for repression within the country, citing reports that thousands of protesters in Russia who were opposed to the invasion had been detained.

Blinken urged the council Tuesday to send a message that Russian President Vladimir Putin should unconditionally stop the “unprovoked attack” and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

“We must condemn firmly and unequivocally Russia’s attempt to topple a democratically elected government and its gross human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and we must take steps to hold the perpetrators accountable,” he said.

The comments came as the United States returned to its seat at the council, which had been abandoned under President Donald Trump, who alleged that the 47-member-state body was too accepting of autocratic governments and too biased against Israel.


MOSCOW — Russian nuclear submarines sailed off for drills in the Barents Sea and mobile missile launchers roamed the taiga on Tuesday following President Vladimir Putin’s order to put the nation’s nuclear forces on high alert amid soaring tensions with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s Northern Fleet said in a statement that several of its nuclear submarines were involved in exercises to “train maneuvering in stormy conditions.” It said several warships tasked with protection of the area near the Russian naval bases on the Arctic Kola Peninsula will also join the maneuvers.

And in the Irkutsk region in eastern Siberia, units of the Strategic Missile Forces moved the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launches to disperse in forests to practice secret deployment, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The military didn’t say whether the drills were linked to Putin’s order on Sunday to put the country’s nuclear deterrent on high alert amid the war in Ukraine and it was unclear whether they represented any change in the country’s normal nuclear posture.


BRUSSELS — A senior Western intelligence official briefed by multiple intelligence agencies estimated Tuesday that more than 5,000 Russian soldiers have been captured or killed so far, and that Ukrainian forces have eliminated significant numbers of Russian aircraft and tanks and some air defense systems.

The official said that Russian forces have increased use of artillery north of Kyiv and around the eastern city of Kharkiv and northern city of Chernihiv, and have been using heavier weapons over the last 48 hours.

The official also said that Russian forces are bogging down in the Donbas region in the east, where most Ukrainian forces are concentrated after eight years fighting Russian-backed separatists there. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence assessment.

Overall death tolls from the fighting remain unclear.


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