WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to announce new sanctions against Russia on Thursday while in Brussels for meetings with NATO and European allies, according to a top national security aide.
Biden, who will take part in a special meeting of NATO and address the European Council summit, is also expected to underscore efforts to enforce the avalanche of existing list of sanctions already announced by the U.S. and allies.
“He will join our partners in imposing further sanctions on Russia and tightening the existing sanctions to crack down on evasion and to ensure robust enforcement,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who declined to further preview the new sanctions the president will announce.
Biden is travelling to Brussels and Poland — which has received more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled since the Feb. 24 invasion — looking to press for continued unity among western allies as Russia presses on with its brutal invasion of Ukraine.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— A pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper briefly reported that almost 10,000 Russian soldiers had been killed.
— Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to nine year in prison
— Ukrainian orphans who are headed to refuge in the UK are stuck in Poland due to missing paperwork
— An Associated Press journalist recounts his team’s harrowing escape from Mariupol
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s state TV says another flight from Belgrade to Moscow had to turn back after receiving a bomb threat.
The RTS said Tuesday police are investigating the 8th anonymous bomb alert at the Belgrade airport in 10 days. All previous alarms turned out to be false.
Serbian state media say all the threatening emails came either from Ukraine or Poland.
Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic has blamed the previous threats on unidentified foreign secret services that want to harm Serbia.
Besides Turkish carriers, Serbia’s national airline AirSerbia is the only airline in Europe still flying to and from Russia.
Serbia, which formally seeks European Union membership but has maintained close relations with ally Russia, has refused to join an international flight ban against Moscow in response to the war in Ukraine.
PARIS — French energy giant TotalEnergies said it has decided to halt all its purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products by the end of 2022 at the latest.
The French company said in a statement it will “gradually suspend its activities in Russia” amid the “worsening situation” in Ukraine.
Russia represented 17% of the company’s oil and gas production in 2020.
TotalEnergies holds a 19.4% stake in Russia’s natural gas producer Novatek.
It also has a 20% stake in the Yamal LNG project in northern Russia. The group said it continues to supply Europe with liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG plant “as long as Europe’s governments consider that Russian gas is necessary.”
“Contrary to oil, it is apparent that Europe’s gas logistics capacities make it difficult to refrain from importing Russian gas in the next two to three years without impacting the continent’s energy supply,” the statement said.
TotalEnergies has also decided to put on hold its business developments for batteries and lubricants in Russia. It will provide no further capital for the development of projects in Russia, the statement said.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Romanian President Klaus Iohannis held a meeting with his Polish counterpart in Bucharest on Tuesday in which the two leaders discussed security issues amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda met with Iohannis at the presidential Cotroceni Palace in Romania’s capital. The leaders agreed to organize a Bucharest Nine meeting ahead of a NATO summit scheduled for June in Madrid, Iohannis told the media.
“We urgently need a consistent and balanced consolidation of the Eastern Flank, a united and strengthened Forward Presence,” Iohannis said. “An increased allied military presence is needed in our country and in the Black Sea region, in response to a strictly defensive response to Russia’s aggression.”
The so-called Bucharest Nine is a group of the easternmost NATO members, which Romania and Poland launched in 2015 to give Eastern alliance members a platform to discuss regional issues and forge a united voice within the 30-country alliance.
Iohannis also said that he discussed with Duda the “deep humanitarian crisis” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has so far forced more than 3.5 million refugees to flee the conflict into neighboring European countries. More than 2.1 million have already sought safety in Poland, and more than half a million in Romania.
Duda’s visit to Romania comes just two days ahead of an extraordinary NATO summit set to be held in Brussels on Thursday, which U.S. President Joe Biden will attend. Biden is scheduled to visit Warsaw for a bilateral meeting with Duda on Saturday.
WASHINGTON — Russian ships in the Sea of Azov have been shelling Mariupol from offshore over the last 24 hours, a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday.
The official said that there are about seven Russian ships in that area, including several warships, a minesweeper and a couple landing ships.
By contrast, the official said the U.S. did not see indications that ships in the Black Sea were firing on Odesa, as they had done days ago. The officials said the U.S. assesses that the Russians have about 21 ships in the Black Sea, including about a dozen surface combatant warships and some landing ships that carry troops.
According to the official, Russian ground forces are still largely stalled outside Kyiv – with troops still about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of the city, and 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of the city. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to provide the U.S. military assessment.
More broadly, the defense official said the U.S. continues to see Russia struggling to get food and fuel to its force, and has been seeing indications that some troops don’t have proper cold weather gear and are suffering frostbite. The food and fuel shortages have been persistent logistical and supply problems since the early days of the war.
The official said there also are indications that Russia is exploring ways to resupply troops and is considering bringing in reinforcements, but so far there has been no active moves seen to do either. There also are indications that Russian has used a significant number of its precision guided munitions, particularly its air-launched cruise missiles, and is exploring ways to resupply those weapons, the official said.
Associated Press Writer Lolita Bandor in Washington contributed to this report.
LVIV, Ukraine — Thousands of Ukrainians arrived by train in the western Ukraine city of Lviv on Tuesday as others departed.
Families exchanged tearful farewells as women and children boarded trains to Poland while men of fighting age stayed behind, barred from leaving the country.
Julia Krytska, her husband and and her son left Mariupol on Saturday, arriving in Lviv on an overcrowded train.
She said they were lucky to get out after volunteers found them in the besieged city that has lost nearly all connection with the outside world.
“The people in Mariupol, they don’t have a chance to be heard,” she told journalists at the train station. “There is no one you can ask for help.”
An air raid siren could be heard blaring over the city.
CHISINAU, Moldova — The war in Ukraine is severely impacting the physical and mental health of millions of people, World Health Organization regional director Hans Kluge said Tuesday at a refugee center in Moldova.
Since the beginning of the war, more than 367,000 refugees from Ukraine have passed through Moldova, and more than 100,000 people, including 50,000 children, remain in the country.
“Our priority is to help ensure Moldova and all countries involved in the humanitarian response have the infrastructure and expertise in place to face this challenge which is placing a huge strain on resources, both human and financially,” Kluge said at a joint news conference with Moldovan Health Minister Ala Nemerenco.
Around 1,300 refugees in Moldova have requested medical assistance with 400 having been hospitalized since the beginning of the war. Around 100 are cancer and dialysis patients, Nemerenco said.
Nemerenco spoke of Moldova’s challenges in dealing with the influx of refugees, especially those with health problems.
“We must face it, our resources are limited, and we wouldn’t like to see that the burden of this crisis is affecting our citizens,″ Nemerenco said.
LONDON — A Western official says Ukrainian resistance has slowed Russia’s advance almost to a halt, and Ukraine has repulsed Russia’s attempts to take the strategic southern port of Mariupol despite weeks of bombardment.
But the official said Russian troops have not been pushed back from established positions, and had the capability to keep up a grinding war of attrition for some time — making a rapid breakthrough in negotiations aimed at ending the violence unlikely.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said Odesa, another strategic port on the Black Sea, was a key objective for Russia but there are no indications of an imminent siege.
Odesa has been spared major attack, though Russia has ships operating off the Black Sea coast. The U.S. also says Russia has increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea, but there are no indications at this point of an imminent amphibious assault on Odesa.
Associated Press Writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
Live updates: Biden to announce new sanctions against Russia