Russia-Ukraine live updates: Ukraine claims Russian general was killed in fighting

(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”

Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, don’t appear to have advanced closer to the city since coming within about 20 miles, although smaller advanced groups have been fighting gun battles with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.

Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Mar 08, 3:35 pm
Officials ‘deeply concerned’ about staff and potential nuclear risks at Chernobyl

The safety of the hundreds of staff who are still on duty at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is becoming more precarious, according to multiple agencies.

About 210 personnel have on duty since Feb. 24, the day before Russian military forces entered the disaster site, and have not rotated out, according to the agency.

Nuclear material and facilities demand continuous coverage, which requires employees to operate on a rotation, fixed, or modified shifts, according to a publication from the U.S. Department of Energy. There are many psychological and physiological impacts that can affect work performance, safety, and security without an organization, the material states.

Today, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine told the IAEA that it is becoming increasingly urgent and important for the safe management of the site to replace the current personnel.

While the staff has access to food, water and medicine to a limited extent, the situation is worsening, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told the IAEA.

“I’m deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety. I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, said in a statement Tuesday.

Ukraine’s nuclear regulator also asked the IAEA to lead the international support needed to prepare a plan for replacing the current team, which will include pausing the handling of nuclear material at the site, which includes decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Mar 08, 3:29 pm
Starbucks suspends operations in Russia ‘immediately’

Starbucks announced Tuesday it will immediately suspend all its operations in Russia, condemning the “horrific attacks on Ukraine by Russia.”

“We continue to watch the tragic events unfold and, today, we have decided to suspend all business activity in Russia, including shipment of all Starbucks products,” the company’s chief executive officer, Kevin Johnson, said in a statement.

The company said its licensed partner agreed to immediately pause store operations and provide support for its nearly 2,000 workers.

“Through this dynamic situation, we will continue to make decisions that are true to our mission and values and communicate with transparency,” Johnson said.

-ABC News’ William Gretsky

Mar 08, 3:10 pm
McDonald’s to temporarily close restaurants, pause operations in Russia

McDonald’s announced Tuesday it is temporarily closing its restaurants and pausing operations in Russia, as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.

“The conflict in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Europe has caused unspeakable suffering to innocent people. As a System, we join the world in condemning aggression and violence and praying for peace,” the company’s chief executive officer, Chris Kempczinski, said in a statement.

McDonald’s employs 62,000 people in Russia, operating in 850 communities, the company said. It will continue paying salaries for all its employees in Russia.

“Our values mean we cannot ignore the needless human suffering unfolding in Ukraine,” said Kempczinski.

Kempczinski said it is impossible to predict when the company will be reopening its restaurants.

“We are experiencing disruptions to our supply chain along with other operational impacts. We will also closely monitor the humanitarian situation,” Kempczinski said.

-ABC News’ William Gretsky

Mar 08, 2:51 pm
Poland announces it is ‘ready’ to handover all its MIG-19 fighter jets

The Polish government announced Tuesday it is ready to immediately handover all its MIG-29 fighter jets to the U.S. and deploy them at the Rammstein Air Base in Germany.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the West and NATO to supply Ukraine with fighter jets.

Poland, in a statement, said it is ready to provide the MIGs free of charge and asked the U.S. to backfill them with used aircrafts with “corresponding capabilities.”

“The Polish Government also requests other NATO Allies – owners of MIG-29 jets – to act in the same vein,” Poland said in a statement.

A senior U.S. defense official said “we have seen the Polish government’s announcement and have nothing to offer at this time.”

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou and Luis Martinez

Mar 08, 2:06 pm
Ukrainian intelligence claims Russian general has been killed in fighting near Kharkiv

Ukrainian intelligence claimed Tuesday that a Russian general was killed in fighting near the eastern city of Kharkiv. If confirmed, this would be the second general Russia has lost in Ukraine in a week, according to reports from Russian media last week.

Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency identified the general as Vitaly Gerasimov, chief of staff of the 41st Army.

Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency also published audio of an alleged intercepted phone call between two officers from Russia’s FSB intelligence agency discussing Gerasimov’s death.

Russia has not confirmed or denied the death.

The executive director of the open source group Bellingcat, Christo Grozev, said he had confirmed Gerasimov’s death with a Russian source. Grosev said Bellingcat had also identified the FSB officer in the alleged recording.

Last week, the 41st Army’s deputy commander, Major General Andrei Sukhovetsky, was confirmed by Russian media to have been killed.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Mar 08, 1:37 pm
Zelenskyy asks UK parliament to increase pressure of sanctions, make Ukrainian skies safe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the U.K.’s parliament Tuesday, asking it to increase the pressure of sanctions and “make our Ukrainian skies safe.”

Zelenskyy has been asking NATO and the West to enforce a “no-fly” zone over Ukraine, but the U.S. and its allies have declined the request.

The Ukrainian president was greeted with rousing applause from members of the House, who stood before he spoke.

In his speech, Zelenskyy quoted Shakespeare, saying, “We have to be or not to be. This is a Shakespearean question. Not that I have the answer, but…Yes it is to be.”

He also paraphrased the words of Winston Churchill.

“We will not give up. We will continue fighting for our land whatever the costs. We will fight in the fields, in the seas, in the streets. We will fight on the banks of different rivers,” Zelenskyy said.

“We do not want to lose what we have,” Zelenskyy said.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti and Matt Gutman

Mar 08, 12:29 pm
European Commission releases proposal to make EU independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030

The European Commission on Tuesday released its proposed plan to make the European Union independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030, starting with gas.

The plan “will seek to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases and replace gas in heating and power generation,” according to the European Commission.

This plan could reduce the EU’s demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year, according to the European Commission.

“We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

Von der Leyen said she would be discussing the Commission’s proposal with European leaders in Versailles later this week.

“Putin’s war demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our clean energy transition,” the European Commission wrote on Twitter.

Just before the invasion of Ukraine, the EU reported wholesale gas prices were around 200% higher than a year ago. The invasion aggravated the energy crisis even further.

The EU said it is reliant on imports of fossil fuels— gas, oil and coal— to meet its needs.

Last year, Russia provided around 45% of the EU’s total gas imports, 27% of the EU’s total crude oil imports and 46% of the EU’s hard coal imports, according to the European Commission.

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Mar 08, 11:57 am
US announces ban on Russian oil imports, other energy products

The United States will ban imports of Russian oil and other energy products but will not be joined in doing so by European allies, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday.

“Today, I’m announcing the United States is targeting the main artery of Russia’s economy,” Biden told reporters during a press conference from the White House. “We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy.”

Biden said the ban means the U.S. “will deal another powerful blow” to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid his invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The move is also expected to trigger sharply higher gasoline and other energy prices in the U.S. and worldwide.

“There will be cost as well here in the United States,” he added. “Republicans and Democrats understand, alike, understand that.”

The decision was made in “close consultation” with U.S. allies and partners around the world, particularly in Europe, according to Biden.

“Because a united response to Putin’s aggression has been my overriding focus, to keep all NATO and all the EU and our allies totally united,” he said. “We’re moving forward, understanding that many of our European allies and partner may not be in a position to join us.”

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Molly Nagle

Mar 08, 11:52 am
UK to phase out Russian oil by end of 2022

The United Kingdom will phase out the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of the year, as part of its sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine, U.K. Buiness Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced Tuesday.

“Beyond Russia, the vast majority of our imports come from reliable partners such as the US, Netherlands and the Gulf. We’ll work with them this year to secure further supplies,” Kwarteng said on his official Twitter account.

Kwarteng noted that while the U.K. “is not dependent” on Russian natural gas, as it only makes up 4% of the U.K’s supply, he is exploring options to “end this altogether.”

“The market has already begun to ostracise Russian oil, with nearly 70% of it currently unable to find a buyer,” he added.

-ABC News’ Joe Simonetti

Mar 08, 11:31 am
Ukrainian morning show host speaks to ABC News from bomb shelter

Yegor Gordeev, host of the Ukrainian television morning show Breaking with 1+1, said he and his coworkers have had to evacuate the studio during broadcast several times as air raid sirens ring out across Kyiv.

“I’m not in studio, I’m in bomb shelter,” Gordeev told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview Tuesday on Good Morning America.

“In Ukraine, we have no shows now, we have no TV channels now, we have only one big broadcast for controlled information to audience, for communication with audience for everything,” he added.

It was a bloody day in the Ukrainian capital, according to Gordeev. He said the Ukrainian Air Force shot down a Russian aircraft in the center of Kyiv early Tuesday morning, while a Russian rocket destroyed the city’s largest bakery, killing 30 people.

Gordeev said he hopes for peace in his home country but he’s “not sure.”

“In 21st century, it’s barbarian war,” he said in disbelief. “Putin is unstoppable.”

Mar 08, 10:21 am
Russian Defense Ministry claims Kyiv is ‘against’ evacuation of Ukrainians to Russia

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed Tuesday that Ukrainian authorities are “categorically against” evacuating residents of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol to Russia.

“The authorities in Kyiv are continuing to categorically reject all main routes of evacuation from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol to the territory of the Russian Federation,” Mikhail Mizintsev, head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, said at a briefing.

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the Ukrainians only confirmed one of the 10 evacuation routes Russia proposed. The confirmed route is from the city of Sumy, through Poltava and to the border with Poland, Mizintsev said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed more than 2.5 million Ukrainians asked to be evacuated to Russia.

“Following the past day, 2,541,367 appeals from individual Ukrainian citizens, as well as foreigners made via various communication channels requesting to save and evacuate them from 1,917 settlements in Ukraine have already been processed in our database,” Mizintsev said.

The Russian Defense Ministry also claimed checkpoints in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova and Romania “were virtually ill prepared” to receive Ukrainian refugees.

“People are forced to leave their cars and walk on foot carrying their heavy bags. Lines are up to 40 kilometers long, and the crossing time is over two days,” Mizintsev said.

-ABC News’ Anastasia Bagaeva

Mar 08, 10:06 am
Vatican secretary of state speaks with Russia foreign minister

Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke on the phone with the Russian foreign minister to convey Pope Francis’ “deep concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine.”

Parolin reiterated the pope’s “call for an end to armed attacks, for the securing of humanitarian corridors for civilians and rescuers, and for the replacement of gun violence with negotiation.”

The pope announced Sunday that he has dispatched two cardinals to Poland and Hungry. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski traveled to the Polish-Ukraine border to visit refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes, while Cardinal Michael Czerny will arrive in Hungry on Tuesday to visit reception centers for migrants arriving from Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Phoebe Natanson

Mar 08, 10:06 am
Vatican secretary of state speaks with Russia foreign minister

Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, spoke on the phone with the Russian foreign minister to convey Pope Francis’ “deep concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine.”

Parolin reiterated the pope’s “call for an end to armed attacks, for the securing of humanitarian corridors for civilians and rescuers, and for the replacement of gun violence with negotiation.”

The pope announced Sunday that he has dispatched two cardinals to Poland and Hungry. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski traveled to the Polish-Ukraine border to visit refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes, while Cardinal Michael Czerny will arrive in Hungry on Tuesday to visit reception centers for migrants arriving from Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Phoebe Natanson

Mar 08, 9:02 am
US says Russia seems to be observing cease-fire but unclear for how long

While the United States welcomes Russia’s declaration of a temporary cease-fire in several besieged areas of Ukraine, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday it remains unclear exactly how long Russian forces will hold fire.

“We think this is obviously a welcome step that the cease-fire seems to be being observed by the Russians. They don’t exactly have a good track record in that regard. So it’s welcome to see people are able to get out,” Kirby told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview on Good Morning America.

“But,” Kirby added, “that cease-fire’s going to expire in a number of hours and so it’s yet to be seen how much more violent the shelling and the bombardments are going to get.”

While Ukraine has continued to call on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the country — something Washington has already ruled out — along with more help from the U.S., Kirby said there are other steps being taken.

“We are accelerating and expediting the shipment of arms and materiel to Ukraine. In fact, another shipments arrived in eastern Europe just overnight and they will be sent in to Ukraine in the coming hours and days, and there’s more coming,” Kirby said. “And it’s not just the United States. Fourteen other nations are also providing security assistance to Ukraine to help them fight.”

But on the potential of the U.S. replacing Polish fighter jets, should Poland send theirs to Ukraine, Kirby said it was a “possibility” but was non-committal.

“We’re not going to stand in the way of another sovereign nation if they want to provide aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force. Now that’s certainly their decision and we respect that,” he said. “This issue of whether we backfill it with American jets — we’re looking at that as a possibility here, but there’s an awful lot of logistical and financial issues that have to be dealt with on how that would happen. No decision has been made yet.”

When asked about the risk of a wider war if that happens, Kirby said: “That’s a possibility that we’re always looking at.”

“That’s certainly in the back of everybody’s mind, not just the United States but in NATO nations as well. You don’t want to escalate this conflict any bigger and any worse than it already is. You’re talking about Russia, a nuclear armed power. The consequences for escalating this conflict could be devastating, not just for the people of Ukraine but for the European continent,” he said.

Mar 08, 8:40 am
US to ban Russian oil imports, source says

The White House is expected to announce a ban on U.S. imports of Russian oil as soon as Tuesday, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Mar 08, 8:26 am
Child died from dehydration in besieged Mariupol, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that a child has died from dehydration in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

“Russia is for sure to blame for the deaths of people from airstrikes and in the blocked cities,” Zelenskyy said in a televised address. “But the responsibility is also on those who during these 13 days can’t make a decision in their offices in the West, an obviously necessary decision. Those who don’t secure Ukrainian sky from Russian murderers, who didn’t save our cities from airstrikes, these bombs and missiles, although they can.”

“We have been hearing promises about support for 13 days that the jets are about to arrive,” he added. “We have heard promises about securing humanitarian corridors. They didn’t work. We don’t have time to wait. People in Mariupol don’t have time to wait.”

Zelenskyy said trucks carrying humanitarian aid have been sent to Mariupol. He accused the International Committee of the Red Cross of “forbidding the use of its emblem on our cars,” but did not give further details. Videos posted to social media on Tuesday purportedly show vehicles heading to Mariupol from other Ukrainian cities bearing signs with a red cross, but it’s not clear who pasted them there.

“The drivers are heroes who understand they can be killed by Russian troops,” Zelenskyy said. “If you kill those people, the whole world will be the witness.”

Mar 08, 7:33 am
One million children among those who have fled Ukraine: UNICEF

Out of the more than two million people who have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, half of them are children, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

UNICEF spokesperson James Elder called it a “dark historical first.”

Mar 08, 7:15 am
Shell pledges to stop buying Russian oil and gas

Energy giant Shell announced Tuesday plans to withdraw from its involvement in all Russian hydrocarbons, including crude oil and natural gas, amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

“As an immediate first step, the company will stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil. It will also shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia,” Shell said in a statement.

Shell will immediately stop buying Russian crude oil on the spot market and not renew term contracts. The company will also change its crude oil supply chain to remove Russian volumes, but said “this could take weeks to complete and will lead to reduced throughput at some of our refineries.”

In addition, Shell will shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia, and will start a phased withdrawal from Russian petroleum products, pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas.

The company apologized for buying Russian oil last week.

“We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel — despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking — was not the right one and we are sorry,” Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement. “As we have already said, we will commit profits from the limited, remaining amounts of Russian oil we will process to a dedicated fund. We will work with aid partners and humanitarian agencies over the coming days and weeks to determine where the monies from this fund are best placed to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of Ukraine.”

Mar 08, 6:49 am
Two children among at least 21 killed by Russian airstrike in Sumy: Ukrainian officials

At least 21 civilians, including two children, were killed by a Russian airstrike in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Sumy on Monday night, according to the regional prosecutor’s office.

The strike hit a residential area of Sumy, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, which the regional prosecutor’s office said was still on the scene searching for victims Tuesday.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called on Russian forces to maintain the agreed upon temporary cease-fire in Sumy and four other Ukrainian cities to allow civilians to evacuate Tuesday. She said Russian authorities have confirmed to the International Committee of the Red Cross that one evacuation route out of Sumy will be open, but Ukrainian officials are awaiting confirmation on the other routes they submitted.

Mar 08, 6:19 am
Over two million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR

More than two million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Over 1.2 million of the refugees from Ukraine are in neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.

“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Tuesday in a post on his official Twitter account.

Mar 08, 5:36 am
Russia declares temporary cease-fire for humanitarian corridors in five Ukrainian cities

Russia declared Tuesday a temporary cease-fire in five besieged cities of Ukraine, including the capital, to let civilians leave.

“For safe evacuation of civilians from populated areas, a cease-fire is declared and humanitarian corridors are opening from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol from 10:00 a.m. today,” Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said at a press briefing.

All five cities except Kyiv had sustained brutal, indiscriminate bombardment in recent days.

It’s the fourth attempt to hold fire and allow civilians to escape the onslaught since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have been holding talks in recent days, and the Russian delegation has previously agreed to a temporary cease-fire and opening of humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine. But Russia has violated its own cease-fire and shelled evacuation points, while falsely accusing Ukraine of using people as human shields.

The hard-hit cities of Kharkiv and Mariupol were reported to be quiet Tuesday morning, with a local official telling ABC News that the center of Mariupol, a strategic port in the southeast, is not being shelled for the first time in days.

Ukraine said Russia has agreed this time to allow civilians to evacuate not only to Russia but also to other parts of Ukraine. Columns of buses and trucks with humanitarian aid are currently headed to Sumy, Mariupol and possibly other cities.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russia has confirmed to the International Committee of the Red Cross that one route out of Sumy will be open. Vereshchuk said she hopes Russia will confirm routes for the other cities and also for the eastern city of Volnovakha. She warned Ukraine has information that Russia may have plans to disrupt the evacuations by leading civilians out of the agreed safe routes, in order to claim that Ukraine is not observing the agreement.

Petro Andrushenko, advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, said the city plans to evacuate people as long as Russian forces do not fire. A column of 60 buses and nine trucks of medical aid and food are headed to Mariupol now, and the hope is that at least 4,000 people can be evacuated via the buses plus an unknown number of private cars that will join the convoy, according to Andrushenko.

“If Russia doesn’t break it, we plan to evacuate people,” Andrushenko told ABC News via telephone Tuesday morning.

Mar 08, 2:05 am
World Bank approves $723 million in emergency support for Ukraine

The World Bank said its board approved a package of loans and guarantees for Ukraine totaling $723 million.

The funding will help the Ukrainian government pay for government services, “including wages for hospital workers, pensions for the elderly, and social programs for the vulnerable,” the bank said in a statement on Monday.

The bank said it’s preparing an additional $3 billion in support for Ukraine and neighboring countries, which have taken in more than 1.7 million refugees since the Russian invasion began.

“The World Bank Group is taking quick action to support Ukraine and its people in the face of the violence and extreme disruption caused by the Russian invasion,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement. “The World Bank Group stands with the people of Ukraine and the region. This is the first of many steps we are taking to help.”

The funding announced on Monday includes $350 million in supplemental loans, along with guarantees totaling $139 million from the Netherlands and Sweden, the bank said. Grant financing totaling $134 million will come from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. Japan is providing $100 million in additional financing, the bank said.

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