Thousands are desperately trying to flee Ukraine's eastern Donbas region as Russia intensifies its strikes on the south and east of the country. The Luhansk regional governor has urged civilians to "evacuate while it is safe," predicting a larger Russian assault to come.
The EU and U.S. are preparing to levy new sanctions on Russia after evidence emerged of potential war crimes committed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, where some 300 civilian bodies were found on streets and in mass graves.
The sanctions from the EU will include a ban on Russian coal imports, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, which are worth $4 billion annually. The move is significant for the EU, which imported nearly 20% of its coal from Russia in 2020. Some still say this isn't enough, as the EU continues to buy oil and gas from Russia, providing it with billions of dollars weekly.
Meanwhile, fighting and Russia airstrikes continue in the besieged eastern city of Mariupol, where aid agencies say the humanitarian crisis is worsening as some 160,000 residents have no access to water, power, heating or communication.
UN says 63 children are among the 1,563 civilians killed in Ukraine
The United Nations has confirmed 1,563 civilian deaths and 2,213 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24.
Of those killed, the UN has identified at least 63 children.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights adds that the death tolls in Ukraine are likely t higher, citing delayed reporting due to the armed conflict.
The international body says that most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missile and airstrikes.
The UN says the war has created more than 4.2 million Ukrainian refugees, mostly the elderly, women and children.
— Amanda Macias
U.S. charges Russian oligarch with Ukraine-related sanction violations
The Department of Justice charged Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev for conspiracy to violate and for violating U.S. sanctions that were imposed in 2014 following Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Malofeyev, 47, eight years ago for playing "a leading role in supporting Russia's 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine." He remains at large but is believed to be in Russia, according to U.S. authorities.
The FBI said Malofeyev "recently described Russia's 2022 military invasion of Ukraine as a holy war."
The Russian embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the charges.
— Amanda Macias
The town of Bucha prepares to bury its dead
Editor's note: Graphic content. The following post contains photos of people removing dead bodies from the war-torn town of Bucha.
World leaders upped the pressure on Vladimir Putin with a fresh round of sanctions from the U.S. and Europe this week after shocking new evidence emerged over the weekend of likely war crimes committed by Russian troops in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
Civilians there were found shot to death with their hands tied behind their backs following Russia's weekslong occupation of the village, which is just outside of the nation's capital Kyiv.
"The world has been shocked and appalled by the atrocities committed by Russia's forces in Bucha and across Ukraine," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Tuesday after authorizing an additional $100 million in military aid for Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a Nuremberg-style tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes.
"The Russian military and those who gave them orders must be brought to justice immediately for war crimes in Ukraine," Zelenskyy said in a nearly 20-minute speech before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday.
Workers lined up bodies for identification by forensic personnel and police officers in a cemetery in Bucha, after hundreds of civilians were found dead in areas from which Russian troops withdrew.
Located 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of Kyiv's city center, the town of Bucha was occupied by Russian forces on Feb. 27 in the opening days of the war and remained under their control for a month.
After the bombardments stopped, Ukrainian forces were able to retake the town. Large numbers of bodies of men in civilian clothing have since been found in the streets.
— Dawn Kopecki and Adam Jeffery
U.S. sanctions Putin’s adult children, bans all new investment in Russia
The U.S. announced a slate of new sanctions on Russia as it tries to squeeze Moscow's economy and elites in response to mounting Russian atrocities in Ukraine.
The Biden administration will ban all new investment in Russia and put full blocking sanctions on Sberbank and Alfa Bank, two of the country's largest financial institutions.
The U.S. will also sanction two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and family members of other top Russian officials.
The Biden administration believes "many of Putin's assets are hidden with family members, and that's why we're targeting them," said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
— Christina Wilkie
NATO preparing for 'long haul' in Ukraine
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is preparing to support Ukraine for "the long haul," saying there's no indication Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed his position.
"We were well prepared when they invaded Ukraine but now we need to take a new step for a more long-term strengthening of our collective defense, and I expect that this will be discussed among the foreign ministers today and tomorrow," Stoltenberg said ahead of the foreign minister's two-day meeting in Brussels.
Stoltenberg said the war, even once it ends, will have long-term impact on the security of the alliance, "because we have seen the brutality. We have seen the willingness by president Putin to use military force to reach his objectives and that has changed the security reality in Europe for many, many years."
Stoltenberg said that the foreign ministers would also "step up support for other partners which are under Russian pressure" but not part of the 30-member alliance. He declined to elaborate in any specific way when pressed by reporters and said that decisions would have to be taken following consultations with all allies.
— Amanda Macias
Germany in 'confidential talks' with Ukraine over security guarantees, Scholz says
Germany is having confidential talks with Ukraine's leadership about security guarantees it can offer Kyiv to ensure its stability after the Russian invasion, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told parliament.
"We are in talks on guarantees with Ukraine," Scholz said, according to a Reuters translation. "These talks are confidential."
Scholz also said that Germany can only send arms to Ukraine that it will actually know how to use, pointing out that Ukraine's forces have long used much older equipment, meaning weapons once used by the army of former Communist East Germany are an appropriate fit.
Germany's decision to send offensive weaponry to a conflict zone following Russia's invasion of Ukraine represented a historic reversal in policy and the first such move since World War II.
— Natasha Turak
Pope Francis holds Ukrainian flag from Bucha, condemns 'massacre'
Pope Francis unveiled a war-torn Ukrainian flag from the besieged city of Bucha during his weekly general audience at the Vatican.
"This flag comes from the war," Pope Francis said, adding that Ukrainian children had brought him the blue and yellow bicolor flag.
"These children had to escape and come to a foreign land: this is one of the fruits of war. Let us not forget them and let us not forget the Ukrainian people," he said, introducing the children to the audience.
Pope Francis described the reports from Bucha as a "massacre" and "horrendous cruelty" and called for an end to the war.
"Recent news from the war in Ukraine, instead of bringing relief and hope, brought new atrocities, such as the massacre of Bucha," he said.
Last month, he issued a strong condemnation of the war in Ukraine, saying the "unacceptable armed aggression" must stop before it reduces cities to cemeteries.
— Amanda Macias
Authorities urge civilians to evacuate Donbas region as Russia focuses attacks on Ukraine's east and south
Thousands of people are trying to flee Ukraine's Donbas region as Russia intensifies its shelling in the country's east and south.
"I appeal to every resident of the Luhansk region — evacuate while it is safe ... While there are buses and trains — take this opportunity," Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app, according to a Reuters translation.
Artillery attacks continue in parts of the contested eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where analysts expect fighting to worsen in the coming weeks.
Russia targeted Ukrainian army positions and civilian infrastructure in Borivske, Novoluhanske, Solodke, Marinka and Zolota Nyva — all in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
— Natasha Turak
10 high-rise buildings on fire in Luhansk after Russian shelling, governor says
Ten high-rise buildings are on fire in the town of Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk region after Russian shelling, Luhansk Governor Sergiy Gaiday said. There is so far no information on casualties.
Eastern Ukraine has been the epicenter of heavy Russian bombing and fighting, with many cities completely under Russian control.
— Natasha Turak
Oil and gas measures against Russia needed 'sooner or later,' EU's Michel says
European Council chief Charles Michel told the European Parliament that "measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later" against Russia, in addition to the coal import ban being discussed by the EU.
The new sanctions package proposed by the EU will require approval by all 27 member states. While it's the fifth sanctions round levied against Russia by the bloc since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, critics say it needs to go further and ban Russian oil and gas imports, which bring Russia billions of dollars in revenues weekly.
The EU relies heavily on Russia for its energy needs, importing roughly 40% of its gas and 37% of its oil from the country in 2020.
— Natasha Turak
Hungary's government summons Ukraine ambassador over 'insults'
Hungary's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Ukraine's ambassador for what it said was insults from Kyiv over Hungary's position on the Russian invasion.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto demanded that Ukrainian leaders "stop their insults directed at Hungary and acknowledge the will of the Hungarian people," referencing President Viktor Orban's recent landslide reelection after he refrained from criticizing Vladimir Putin directly and expressed opposition to energy sanctions on Russia. Hungary relies heavily on Russian gas for its energy needs.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticized Hungary's leadership, calling the country a "Russian branch in Europe" while telling EU leaders to "stop listening to the excuses of Budapest."
Szijjarto pushed back on the comments, pointing out that Hungary has taken in hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, acknowledged Ukraine's sovereignty and condemned the Russian invasion. Orban has not vetoed EU sanctions on Russia thus far.
— Natasha Turak
U.S. to impose fresh sanctions, ban all new investment in Russia
Washington is scheduled to announce on Wednesday new U.S. sanctions that would ban all new investment in Russia, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The measures will also sanction Russian state-owned enterprises and financial bodies, as well as Russian government officials and their family members, the sources said.
The sanctions package is taking place in lockstep with European Union allies and the G-7 nations in response to evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
— Natasha Turak
EU readies new sanctions on Russia, targets coal imports
Russia faces a fresh raft of sanctions from the EU after evidence emerged of atrocities committed against civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.
The EU is set to reveal the new sanctions this week, which will include a ban on coal imports.
"We will impose an import ban on coal from Russia, worth 4 billion euros ($4.39 billion) per year. This will cut another important revenue source for Russia," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Tuesday.
The EU imported 19.3% of its coal from Russia in 2020, According to data from the European statistics office.
— Natasha Turak
Russian airstrikes continue, humanitarian crisis worsens in Mariupol
Russian airstrikes are continuing in the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the U.K.'s defense ministry said Wednesday.
"The humanitarian situation in the city is worsening," a statement from the ministry posted on Twitter said, adding that the roughly 160,000 residents still trapped in the city have no electricity, heat, water, or ability to communicate with the outside world.
Russian forces have prevented humanitarian access, the ministry said, in what it described as an effort to pressure the city to surrender.
— Natasha Turak
Boris Johnson tells Russians: I cannot believe Putin is acting in your name
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Russians to "find the truth" and "share it."
"Your president stands accused of committing war crimes. But I cannot believe he's acting in your name," Johnson said in a video directly addressing the Russian people.
Speaking in both Russian and English, he said: "The atrocities committed by Russian troops in Bucha, Irpin and elsewhere in Ukraine have horrified the world."
He went on to outline the alleged atrocities of Russian troops: civilians massacred, women raped, bodies burned and "dumped in mass graves, or just left lying in the street."
Ukrainian officials say that more than 300 civilians were tortured and killed by Russian troops in the town of Bucha outside Kyiv, discoveries made only after Moscow pulled out of those areas.
Graphic media images also revealed corpses of civilians in the streets — some with their hands and legs tied up — while satellite images captured mass graves.
Russia has been waging information warfare alongside its military operations.
The Russian people have been "fed a steady diet of propaganda" by Russian-state media, according to NBC News' Ken Dilanian. The Kremlin has labeled the unprovoked and unwarranted war in Ukraine a "special military operation."
"The reports are so shocking, so sickening, it's no wonder your government is seeking to hide them from you," Johnson said.
"But don't just take my word for it," he added, calling on them to access independent information via VPN connection. "And when you find the truth, share it."
— Charmaine Jacob, Joanna Tan
Intel suspends all business operations in Russia
Intel has suspended all business operations in Russia, the U.S. chipmaker announced.
"Intel continues to join the global community in condemning Russia's war against Ukraine and calling for a swift return to peace. Effective immediately, we have suspended all business operations in Russia," the company said in a statement.
This follows the company's move a month ago to suspend all shipments to Russia and Belarus.
"We are working to support all of our employees through this difficult situation, including our 1,200 employees in Russia," it said.
— Chelsea Ong