Ukraine-Russia war live updates: Zelenskyy addresses Congress with Kyiv under fire

 Ukraine-Russia war live updates: Zelenskyy addresses Congress with Kyiv under fire

Ukraine's leader thanked the United States and its allies for their support but also urged more Western military aid for his country's defensive efforts.



March 16, 2022, 3:07 PM +07 / Updated March 16, 2022, 11:26 PM +07

By NBC News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked 9/11 and Pearl Harbor during an impassioned address to Congress on Wednesday, pleading with American leaders to do more to help stop his country's war with Russia.


Zelenskyy thanked the United States and its allies for their support but also urged more Western military aid for his country's defensive efforts, with Kyiv and other key cities facing intense bombardment.


Ukraine's leader repeated his request for a no-fly zone as Russian forces stepped up their aerial attacks on civilian areas. The Kremlin has warned against such a move and threatened Western shipments of military aid, but its struggles on the ground have raised hopes Moscow might be open to a diplomatic solution.


President Joe Biden will announce Wednesday that $800 million of a $13.6 billion spending package for Ukraine will go toward security assistance, bringing the total the U.S. has pledged to $1 billion in the past week.


Russia and Ukraine remain in talks and both sides have signaled that there may be reasons for optimism — but key differences remain and the fighting continues.


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Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion mourn what was left behind


Yuliya Talmazan


24m ago / 11:26 PM +07

MEDYKA, Poland  —  Parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, sweethearts, friends, careers and homes: That’s just a short list of all that was left behind by so many fleeing war in their homeland.


The immensity of what remains in Ukraine contrasts starkly with the meager possessions these sudden refugees were able to bring with them. All that they own now is crammed into shopping bags and wheeled suitcases that squeak and rattle as they cross into this small red-brick village surrounded by fields.


With shock, grief and relief hanging in the bright, cold air, Alexander Federov greets the new arrivals in Poland with a broad smile and some hearty Ukrainian warmth: “Vse bude dobre” or “everything will be fine.”


Some 3 million Ukrainians have fled since Russia invaded their country — the majority to neighboring Poland — in the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Thousands of them have crossed through Medyka.

Ukraine news website hacked, used to post Zelenskyy deepfake

Kevin Collier


38m ago / 11:15 PM +07

The website of a Ukrainian news outlet was hacked Wednesday and used to push a fake video in which someone who appears to be Zelenskyy tells citizens to surrender to Russia, one of the most high-profile uses of "deepfake" technology to date.


The live TV broadcast from the media outlet, Ukraine 24, also showed a chyron that repeated what the fake Zelenskyy video said.


Disinformation experts have long warned that deepfakes, computer-generated videos of a real person saying or doing things they didn't actually say or do, could be used for malicious political purposes, and Ukrainian government officials have warned for weeks that Russia may try to convince people of false news of surrender.


The simulation was of low quality, with the fake Zelenskyy's mouth moving unnaturally, his head appearing somewhat detached from his body.


Last week, Ukraine provincial government websites were hacked to make similar claims, leading national government officials to rush to debunk it. Channel 24's website was down as of midday Wednesday, but its Telegram channel warned about the hack and said that the message of surrender was fake.


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Putin claims, without evidence, Ukraine has nuclear weapons and biological weapons programs


Rebecca Shabad


44m ago / 11:08 PM +07

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed without evidence Wednesday that Ukraine has its own nuclear weapons and biological weapons programs. 


"Kyiv government announced their own nuclear weapons and the means to transport it. It was a real threat. In the near future, with foreign technical help, the Nazi regime in Kyiv could get hold of weapons of mass destruction," Putin said in remarks on Russia-24, a state-owned Russian news channel. "And Russia would, of course, be the target."


Putin also claimed that Ukraine has laboratories where they conduct experiments with "coronavirus, anthrax, cholera, African swine fever and other lethal diseases. They are trying to cover the traces of these programs. In essence, they were creating biological weapons in close proximity to Russian borders." He also accused Ukraine of planning to attack Donbas and Crimea in an "ethnic cleansing."


Putin suggested he was forced to authorize the invasion into Ukraine because Russia was "left with no choice for peaceful resolution of problems that we are not to blame for."


U.S. officials have been warning that Russia could implement a false flag operation in which its military would launch a chemical weapons or biological weapons attack in Ukraine. 


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Zelenskyy full speech: Ukrainian president implores Congress for aid, asks Biden ‘to be the leader of peace’

NBC News


57m ago / 10:56 PM +07

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional virtual address to members of Congress on Wednesday in which he pleaded for more U.S. aid in his country’s fight against Russia and told President Joe Biden, “Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.” Read his full remarks.


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Here's what else the U.S. has given Ukraine in military equipment

Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube


1h ago / 10:50 PM +07

A senior administration official provided a list of the military items that the U.S. has given Ukraine over the past year:


Joe Murphy


1h ago / 10:46 PM +07


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Biden to commit new military aid to Ukraine following Zelenskyy speech

Shannon Pettypiece and Mike Memoli


1h ago / 10:30 PM +07

Biden is expected to detail an additional $800 million in military support for Ukraine on Wednesday after that country’s president pleaded with Congress to do more to help Ukraine defend itself against the military onslaught from Russia.


Biden is expected to outline in more detail the types of security assistance the U.S. is providing, including anti-armor and air defense systems, a White House official said ahead of the remarks. The added assistance brings the total authorized by Biden to $2 billion since the start of his presidency.


But Biden wasn't expected to announce any of the actions that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for in his remarks to Congress earlier Wednesday, including a no-fly zone over Ukraine to deter Russian bombers that have hit hospitals, schools and residential buildings, as well as fighter jets — two measures the U.S. has repeatedly rejected.


Read more here.


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Lawmakers to receive classified briefing on Russia-Ukraine

Sahil Kapur and Haley Talbot


2h ago / 9:59 PM +07

A classified briefing on Russia and Ukraine will be held Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. ET for Senate leadership as well as chairs and ranking members of relevant committees, a Senate aide said.


The House is set to hold a similar briefing at 2 p.m. ET.


It will take place hours after Zelenskyy's virtual address to Congress.


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2h ago / 9:37 PM +07


Lawmakers react to Zelenskyy’s emotional plea to Congress

MARCH 16, 202201:16

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Ukraine says it has joined its energy networks to the European Union


Patrick Smith


2h ago / 9:26 PM +07

Ukraine has unified its energy network with that of the European Union, Zelenskyy said in a tweet Wednesday, in a move designed to show its independence and autonomy from Russia. Moldova, which neighbors Ukraine and has raised fears about Putin's aggression, also made the switch, he said.


"Now [Ukrainian] electricity flows [towards the European Union] and vice versa," the president said, shortly after his historic address to Congress.


Zelenskyy formally announced his country's bid to join the 27-nation European Union four days after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 and he has consistently described the conflict as one between Russia and the wider democratic West.


Ursula Von Der Leyen, president of the executive body of the E.U., said in a tweet: "Ukraine, Moldova and Europe: shared values, shared power and solidarity."



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Spam campaigns look to capitalize on Ukraine donations

Kevin Collier


3h ago / 9:20 PM +07

Online scammers are trying to capitalize on the Ukraine crisis by sending a massive amount of email spam, researchers say.


Many appear to try to take advantage of the fact that the Ukrainian government has taken the novel and successful step of soliciting cryptocurrency donations from the public. That's led to scammers flooding email addresses with their own crypto addresses, falsely claiming to be the Ukrainian government or working for Ukrainian refugees, according to Andrew Brandt, principal researcher at the cybersecurity company Sophos.


Despite the dramatic spike in such emails, they may not be working. None of the scammers' cryptocurrency addresses that Sophos has monitored have received any funds, Brandt said.


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3h ago / 9:12 PM +07


Biden to announce additional aid to Ukraine after Zelenskyy address

MARCH 16, 202202:18

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Speaking in English, Zelenskyy pleads with U.S. to 'be the leader of peace'


Rebecca Shabad


3h ago / 8:56 PM +07

Zelenskyy concluded his speech by addressing lawmakers in English, making an emotional plea for help.


"Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace," he said. 


"Strong doesn't mean weak," he continued. "Strong is brave and ready to fight for the life of his citizens and citizens of the world, of human rights, for freedom, for the right to live peacefully and to die when your time comes and not when it's wanted by someone else, by your neighbor."


Zelenskyy said Ukrainians are not only defending Ukraine, but they're "fighting for the values of Europe and the world, sacrificing our lives in the name of the future."


"That's why today the American people are helping not just Ukraine, but Europe and the world to keep the planet alive, to keep justice in history," he said, adding that he's 45 years old, but his age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stopped beating. "I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths."


Concluding his speech to Congress, Zelenskyy said in English he had a message for President Joe Biden. 


"You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation, I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace," Zelenskyy said. 


The auditorium on Capitol Hill full of members from the House and Senate then gave the Ukrainian president a standing ovation. 


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NBC News


3h ago / 8:48 PM +07


Zelenskyy: Ukrainians are ‘sacrificing our lives in the name of the future’

MARCH 16, 202202:28

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Zelenskyy shows graphic video of missiles destroying Ukrainian cities, dead bodies in streets


Rebecca Shabad


3h ago / 8:47 PM +07

After Zelenskyy called for a no-fly zone and more U.S. assistance, he played a brief video that displayed a montage of video clips and images showing Russia's attacks on Ukraine. 


The video first appeared to show video of Ukrainians in their country before the invasion and then it continued by showing numerous shots of Russian missiles hitting Ukrainian buildings. 


It showed Ukrainian people crying, including children, as well as wounded civilians and bodies lying all over the streets. The video also showed dead bodies being tossed into a trench-like ditch to bury them. 


"Close the sky over Ukraine," the video said at the end. 



Ukraine’s Zelenskyy shares graphic video during address to Congress

MARCH 16, 202202:45

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Zelenskyy pleads with U.S. to do more to protect Ukraine


Rebecca Shabad


3h ago / 8:45 PM +07

Throughout his address to Congress, Zelenskyy made a plea for the U.S. to take more action against Russia, including imposing a no-fly zone over his country, saying "Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death for the Ukrainian people."


"This is a terror that Europe has not seen for 80 years. We are asking for a reply, for an answer to this terror from the whole world. Is that a lot to ask for, to ask for a no-fly zone?" he said. 


Zelenskyy also called for:


anti-aircraft defense systems

additional sanctions 

a new international alliance 

He also invoked Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech as he said he needed military aircraft from the West. "I have a dream — these words are known to each of you. Today I can say, I have a need. I need to protect our sky.”


"We need to create new tools to respond quickly and stop the war, the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine," he said. 


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Council of Europe expels Russia from human rights body

NBC News


3h ago / 8:42 PM +07

BRUSSELS — The Council of Europe on Wednesday expelled Russia from the continent’s foremost human rights body in an unprecedented move over its invasion and war in Ukraine.


The 47-nation organization’s committee of ministers said in statement that “the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the Council of Europe as from today, after 26 years of membership.”


The decision comes on the heels of weeks of condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Early in the week, the group’s parliamentary assembly already initiated the process of expulsion and unanimously backed that Russia would be kicked out.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov insisted Wednesday that it would have left the body regardless. In an interview with Russian broadcaster RBK, he accused NATO and EU countries of “abusing their majority in the council, eventually transforming it into a tool for anti-Russian policy.


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Zelenskyy invokes 9/11, Pearl Harbor in address to Congress


Rebecca Shabad


4h ago / 8:20 PM +07

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened his virtual address to members of Congress from the capital city of Kyiv stating that Russia has not just attacked his country but "basic human values." 


Russia is using tanks and planes against Ukrainians' freedom and "our right to live freely," he said. He said he remembers Mount Rushmore and seeing the faces of prominent U.S. presidents, who laid the foundation of America as it exists today.


"Democracy, independence, freedom and care for everyone for every person, for everyone who works diligently, who is honest, who respects the law. We in Ukraine want the same for our people. All that is normal part of your own life," he said. 


Zelenskyy told lawmakers to remember Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and the 9/11 terror attacks.


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Netflix makes Zelenskyy's TV series available to stream in U.S.


Erik Ortiz


4h ago / 8:20 PM +07

"Servant of the People," a Ukrainian television series starring Volodymyr Zelenskyy before he became president, is available on Netflix in the United States, the streaming service tweeted Wednesday.


The show, which was also produced by Zelenskyy, is a political satire that ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2019. Zelenskyy plays a high school history teacher who goes viral after a student records him going on an anti-government corruption tirade, catapulting him into politics and eventually helping him win an election as president of Ukraine.


As it turned out, life imitated art: Zelenskyy, who had no prior experience or solid policies, was elected Ukrainian president in 2019 with a pledge to bring integrity to his country's leadership.



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NBC News


4h ago / 7:51 PM +07


Russia intensifies attacks on civilian targets in major Ukrainian cities

MARCH 16, 202203:30

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War could contribute to biggest oil supply crisis in decades, International Energy Agency warns

Mithil Aggarwal


4h ago / 7:42 PM +07

The International Energy Agency has cut its 2022 forecast for global oil demand amid the disruption to Russian oil production which threatens a “global oil supply shock.”


“The implications of a potential loss of Russian oil exports to global markets cannot be understated,” it said in a monthly report released Wednesday. “Faced with what could turn into the biggest supply crisis in decades, global energy markets are at a crossroads,” it said.


As the world’s largest oil exporter, Russia continues to send oil due to deals made before the invasion, but new business has “all but dried up,” it said. According to the report, after the exports are shunned, only the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia hold the spare capacity to offset the Russian shortfall.


“Indeed, today’s alignment of energy security and economic factors could well accelerate the transition away from oil,” the agency said.


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More than 100 children have died since Russian invasion began, Ukraine's president says

Henry Austin and Oksana Parafeniuk


4h ago / 7:36 PM +07

More than 100 children have died since Russia's invasion began three weeks ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday, as he vowed to hold Moscow responsible for "war crimes."


“We are stepping up work to bring the occupiers to justice," Zelenskyy said in a video message posted to his Telegram page, adding that he had spoken with Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.


Zelenskyy said that 103 children had died since the start of the conflict. NBC News has not been able to verify this number. 


He added that in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, Russian soldiers had captured the regional hospital and patients and doctors had been taken hostage.


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NBC News


5h ago / 7:04 PM +07


Kharkiv's raccoon cafe provides shelter from Russian bombardment

MARCH 16, 202201:08

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Ukrainian presidential adviser rejects Russia's 'compromise' of NATO neutrality

Rhoda Kwan


5h ago / 6:58 PM +07

An adviser to Ukraine's president has rejected the idea of taking a neutral stance similar to Sweden or Austria — after Russia said this was a possible compromise that could lead to an end to hostilities.


"The Russian Federation believes that the Swedish version of a neutral state in Ukraine can be seen as a compromise," Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said during a regular press briefing Wednesday. Both Austria and Sweden are outside the NATO alliance but act as partner nations.


The adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Telegram on Wednesday he understood why the neutrality point was being raised, but added: "Ukraine is now in a state of direct war with the Russian Federation. Therefore, the model can only be Ukrainian and only about legally verified security guarantees. And no other models or options."


He said Ukraine needed a security deal that would ensure foreign support in the event of an attack, without the need for any "bureaucratic procedures" to enforce a no-fly zone.


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NBC News


5h ago / 6:25 PM +07


Ukraine’s Zelenskyy meets with 3 NATO leaders in Kyiv while under attack

MARCH 16, 202202:56

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9 in 10 Ukrainians could face poverty as a result of war, U.N. agency says

Mithil Aggarwal


6h ago / 5:50 PM +07

Almost 90 percent of Ukraine’s population could face poverty and extreme economic vulnerability if the war drags on for a year, wiping out two decades of development, according to a projection from the United Nations Development Program.


“An alarming economic decline, and the suffering and hardship it will bring to an already traumatized population must now come into sharper focus,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said Wednesday. Half of Ukraine's businesses are shut completely while the remaining operate below capacity, he said.


The UNDP estimates that emergency cash of approximately $250 million per month would cover “partial income losses” for the 2.6 million people expected to fall below poverty.


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Three European leaders are first in Kyiv since Russian invasion

NBC News


6h ago / 5:40 PM +07


Three European leaders become first to travel to Kyiv since Russian invasion

MARCH 16, 202200:47

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NATO allies will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine, Dutch defense minister says

Reuters


6h ago / 5:37 PM +07

The Netherlands and other NATO allies will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine even as these deliveries could become the target of Russian attacks, Dutch defense minister Kajsa Ollongren said Wednesday.


"The Netherlands and other countries will continue to deliver weapons to Ukraine," Ollongren said at her arrival for a meeting with NATO defence ministers in Brussels. "Ukraine has the right to defend itself, we will continue to support it."


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NBC News


7h ago / 5:12 PM +07


Zelenskyy says peace talks between Ukraine and Russia ‘sound more realistic’

MARCH 16, 202201:20

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Neutrality for Ukraine being seriously discussed, Russia's Lavrov says

Henry Austin and Reuters


7h ago / 4:57 PM +07

Russia's foreign minster said Wednesday there was some hope of a breakthrough in talks with Ukraine and that neutrality for Ukrainian neutrality was being seriously discussed.


Sergey Lavrov told RBC news, a Russian business news channel, that discussions were not easy "for obvious reasons" but said there was "some hope of reaching a compromise."


He added that "neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees."


Ukraine has also made cautiously positive statements on peace talks. It says it is willing to negotiate to end the war, but will not surrender or accept Russian ultimatums.


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Ukraine's military launching counteroffensives, Zelenskyy adviser says


Max Burman


7h ago / 4:35 PM +07

Ukraine's military has launched counteroffensives against Russian forces in a number of areas, a move that "radically changes the parties’ dispositions," according to a senior official in Kyiv.


Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak hailed the fight back in a post on Twitter early Wednesday, though he offered no further details to support the claim.


Western officials have said that Moscow's offensive has been bogged down by fierce Ukrainian resistance, as well as the conditions on the ground. Russia's military struggles have raised hopes of progress in peace talks, where Podolyak is a top Ukrainian negotiator.



 


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Russia has taken six hostages in Bucha, north-west of Kyiv, officials say

Mithil Aggarwal and Anastasiia Parafeniuk


8h ago / 4:20 PM +07

Russian forces have ransacked an administrative building and taken six civilian hostages just outside of Kyiv, Bucha City council said on Wednesday.


In a statement on Telegram, it said that staff and volunteers at the council were captured Tuesday evening. “The occupiers threw away their passports and other documents as they were leaving,” it said.


The council has asked the presidential office and Kyiv administration to assist in their release.


 


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Fresh Russian strikes hit residential areas in Kyiv, Kharkiv

Max Burman and Anastasiia Parafeniuk


8h ago / 4:07 PM +07

Smoke rises from a building after an explosion at dawn in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Smoke rises from a building after an explosion at dawn in Kyiv on Wednesday.Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

A new set of Russian attacks have hit apartment buildings in Ukraine's capital and its second-largest city.


In Kyiv, which is facing increasing bombardment and is under a new curfew, a 12-story residential building collapsed after being hit by Russian shelling, the city's emergency services said early Tuesday.


The building partially collapsed but rescuers were able to evacuate 37 people, 2 of whom were injured, they said.


In Kharkiv, Russian artillery strikes on high-rise buildings destroyed several apartments and killed two people, Ukraine's state emergency services said.


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Swiss step up economic sanctions against Belarus

Reuters


8h ago / 3:55 PM +07

Switzerland has tightened its economic sanctions against Belarus, the government said on Wednesday, citing the eastern European country's support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


Neutral Switzerland has adopted in full the economic sanctions against Belarus already imposed by the European Union on March 2 and 9.


The sanctions, which come into force on Wednesday, mainly concern trade and financial sanctions, Switzerland said, and include an export ban of dual-use items which can be used for both military or civilian purposes.


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Russia 'systematically destroying' Ukrainian infrastructure, foreign ministry says

Rhoda Kwan


8h ago / 3:39 PM +07

Russian forces are "systematically destroying" Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday, citing the country's special emergency services. 


Around 3,500 facilities have been destroyed by Russian shelling, including transport, healthcare, educational, and social institutions, the ministry said in a twee, in addition to more than 2,700 houses.



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Russian advance stalled by Ukraine’s terrain, British Defense Ministry says

Mithil Aggarwal


9h ago / 3:10 PM +07

Russian ground forces are struggling to advance on Ukraine’s terrain, according to the British Defense Ministry.


“Russian forces have remained largely tied to Ukraine’s road network and have demonstrated a reluctance to conduct off-road manoeuvre,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on Wednesday, noting Ukraine's armed forces have taken advantage of that situation. 


Russia's advance has also been stalled by the destruction of bridges and further limited by “Russia’s continued failure to gain control of the air," the defense ministry said.


Last week, the ministry said Ukraine’s air defense system has held up against Russia’s aerial forces and prevented them from achieving “any degree of control of the air.”


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Russian TV employee who staged on-air protest says she was interrogated for more than 14 hours

Tim Stelloh


10h ago / 2:21 PM +07

The Russian TV employee who interrupted a widely viewed evening news broadcast holding a “No war” sign told reporters Tuesday that authorities interrogated her for more than 14 hours. 


The Channel One employee, identified by Russian rights-monitoring group OVD-Info as Marina Ovsyannikova, said that after being taken into custody she was denied access to a lawyer and barred from contacting her family.


“I was in a rather tough situation,” she said outside a Moscow courthouse, according to an NBC News translation. “All the comments will be made tomorrow. I just need to rest today.” 


A judge fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 rubles, or $280, for flouting protest laws, according to Reuters.


Her lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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