The New York Stock Exchange is seen in New York, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
NEW YORK — All four of the so-called Big Four accounting firms are now cutting ties with Russia over its war in Ukraine.
Deloitte on Monday was the last of the four to say it will no longer operate in Russia, joining Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG in making similar announcements.
Deloitte said it is also cutting its ties to Russia-allied Belarus. The company said it is separating its global network of member firms from the firms based in Russia and Belarus.
Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen said in a statement “we know this is the right decision” but it will have an impact on Deloitte’s 3,000 employees in Russia and Belarus who “have no voice in the actions of their government.”
Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG announced they were pulling out of Russia on Sunday, and Ernst & Young earlier on Monday.
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s treatment of Ukrainians fleeing war, after France accused U.K. authorities of “inhumane” behavior towards the refugees.
Johnson said Britain was being “very, very generous,” but would not have “a system where people can come into the U.K. without any checks or any controls at all.”
Britain says it expects to take in as many as 200,000 displaced Ukrainians. Very few have managed to reach Britain so far. The Home Office said “around 50” visas had been granted by Sunday.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Sunday that hundreds of Ukrainian refugees in the English Channel port of Calais had been turned away and told by British authorities that they must obtain visas at U.K. embassies in Paris or Brussels.
Calling that “a bit inhumane,” Darmanin urged Britain to “stop the technocratic nit-picking.”
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel denied Britain was turning anyone away. The British government confirmed Monday that it did not have a visa center in Calais.
BUDAPEST – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban signed a decree on Monday allowing for NATO troops to station on Hungarian territory in response to the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The government decree reaffirmed Orban’s earlier insistence that Hungary would not allow troops or lethal weapons to be delivered across its borders into Ukraine, but allowed for the transit of NATO forces across its territory into other NATO member countries.
Non-lethal aid, such as personal protective equipment, first aid and medical supplies and humanitarian materials, are permitted to cross into Ukraine from Hungary, according to the decree.
ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi said Russia appears determined to carry on with its war in Ukraine until it can install a government “friendly” to Moscow.
Draghi was asked by reporters in Brussels on Monday if he thought there was still room for diplomacy. “Look, up till now, (diplomacy) hasn’t yielded any fruits. Up till now, the determination of Russia is very clear,’’ Draghi replied.
Russia will proceed until “the country has surrendered, (and it) probably installs a friendly government and defeats the resistance,’’ the Italian leader said. “That’s what the facts demonstrate.”
BRUSSELS — European Commission spokesman for foreign affairs Peter Stano said the EU would like to see China play a mediation role and convince Russia to stop its war in Ukraine.
“China has the potential to reach out to Moscow because of their relationship obviously and we would like China to use its influence to press for a cease-fire and to make Russia to stop the brutal unprecedented shelling and killing of civilians in Ukraine.”
LONDON — Leading Russian banks are looking into issuing cards that operate on a Chinese payment system after Visa and Mastercard said they would cut their services in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
Sberbank and Tinkoff Bank said Sunday that they are considering the possibility of payment cards powered by China’s UnionPay system. They told users that Visa and Mastercard will work within Russia but will stop working for payments outside of the country after Wednesday.
Russian banks are scrambling to find new ways to facilitate cross-border payments after a host of foreign companies suspended financial services, part of a larger move by the West to isolate Russia and cut it off from the global financial system.
PRAGUE — Two Czech army convoys are on the way to neighboring Slovakia to help the NATO and European Union ally cope with the wave of refugees from Ukraine
“We didn’t have to think twice and immediately met the Slovak request,” Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova said on Monday.
Over 128,000 refugees from Ukraine have arrived in neighboring Slovakia since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have remained close allies following the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia in 1993.
NEW YORK — Ernst & Young has joined global accounting firms KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers by cutting ties with its operations in Russia over what it calls the “shocking and abhorrent war in Ukraine.”
That leaves Deloitte as the only one of the so-called Big Four accounting firms with a presence in Russia.
Ernst & Young said in a statement Monday that “in light of the escalating war, the EY global organization will no longer serve any Russian government clients, state-owned enterprises or sanctioned entities and individuals anywhere in the world.”
The three global accounting firms have each said they will end their relationships with member firms in Russia.
GENEVA — The U.N. human rights office says it has been able to confirm the deaths of 406 civilians in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
It said that another 801 injured civilians had been confirmed as of midnight Sunday. The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed.
It says it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days.” Fighting has delayed its receipt of information and many reports still need to be corroborated.
Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.
NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested that he hold direct talks with Ukrainian’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as it “may greatly assist the ongoing peace efforts,” his office said in a statement.
This is the second time Modi has spoken to Putin after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.
Modi also called Zelenskyy, expressing “deep concern about the ongoing conflict and resultant humanitarian crisis.” He thanked Ukrainian authorities for their help in evacuating more than 20,000 Indian citizens after Russia’s invasion and asked for the quick evacuation of Indians who remain stuck there.
Hundreds of Indian students remain stranded in Sumy in northeast Ukraine. They have shared several videos asking for help.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is making clear that he stands by exempting Russian energy deliveries from an increasing raft of sanctions against Russia.
Scholz said in a statement on Monday emphasizing Germany’s support for tough measures against Russia that Europe has deliberately exempted energy deliveries.
He added: “Europe’s supply with energy for heating, for mobility, power supply and for industry cannot at the moment be secured otherwise.” That, he said, is of “essential significance” for people’s daily lives.
The chancellor added that Germany has been working with its partners in the European Union and beyond for months to “develop alternatives to Russian energy.” But he said that that can’t be done overnight, “so it is a conscious decision on our part” to allow companies to continue their involvement with Russian energy supplies.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. and its allies are having a “very active discussion” about banning the import of Russian oil and natural gas.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland, the country receiving the largest numbers of refugees from Russia’s war against Ukraine, on Monday approved legislation offering financial help to refugees and allowing them to stay legally in the country for 18 months.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described helping the Ukrainians as the most important challenge Poland has faced in decades, and he argued that the efforts “cannot be only spontaneous.”
Poland has accepted more than 1 million refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than half of the 1.7 million to flee.
Poles have sought to help fleeing Ukrainians in multiple ways, with volunteers showing up at the borders to feed and help people, and often to take them into own homes. Many have taken time off work to help, a form of assistance that will not be sustainable.
Under the new regulation Ukrainian citizens will have the right to stay legally in Poland for 18 months and will be allowed to work legally. They will receive medical help and get a one-time allowance of 300 zlotys ($66) per person.
Polish citizens will receive 40 zlotys a day to house Ukrainians for up to two months.
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron criticized “hypocritical” rhetoric and “cynicism” from Moscow about offering to open humanitarian corridors to Russia for Ukrainian civilians.
“Humanitarian actors need to be able to intervene, so we must get full cease-fires when they intervene to place under protection women, children, men who need to be protected. And (we must) be able to get them out of the conflict area,” Macron said Monday in an interview on French news broadcaster LCI.
The issue won’t be solved via “corridors which are being threatened right away (by Russia),” he said. Saying that “we are going to protect people by bringing them to Russia” is “hypocritical,” he added. “This is cynicism” that is “unbearable,” he said.
Macron addressed the issue publicly after the Russian task force said the new pledge for humanitarian corridors was announced at his request, following a call with Putin on Sunday. Macron’s office said he asked for a broader end to military operations in Ukraine and protections for civilians.
VIENNA — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog is pressing forward with efforts to secure an agreement with Ukraine and Russia on the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, amid deepening concerns about the situation.
Russian forces took control of the Zaporizhzhia plant, Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest, on Friday following an attack that set off a fire at a building on the site. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Ukraine has since informed it they tightened their control, with Ukrainian staff required to seek their approval for any operation and normal communications impeded.
The IAEA director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said Monday that the conditions are “absolutely extraordinary,” adding that “there is safe operation, but there are many, many questions on the ability to sustain this for much longer if we don’t support this in some way.”
He called for commitments “not to go anywhere near a nuclear facility when it comes to military operations.”
Grossi initially proposed talks at the decommissioned Chernobyl plant, the site of the 1986 disaster, which is also controlled by Russian forces. The Kremlin said Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin believes talks could be useful in principle but suggested they could be held by videoconference or in a third country.
VIENNA — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog says that a neutron generator at a physics institute in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has apparently been destroyed but there has been no release of radiation.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said on Monday that the relatively new facility was considered “subcritical” and had “a very small inventory of material.” He said it produced neutrons for scientific experiments.
The site was part of a cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine, according to Grossi. He said that “it’s a scientific institution, so it’s really very regrettable what happened.”
Kharkiv has been under sustained attack by Russian forces in recent days.
WARSAW, Poland — Polish government officials on Monday said that Poland has not, and will not, send its fighter jets to Ukraine to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
A deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, said in an interview on Radio Zet that: “We will not open our airports and Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine … Polish planes will not fight over Ukraine.”
But separately the government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, indicated a final decision had not been made. He said that a decision on whether to send fighter jets presents risks and is a “very delicate matter.”
The comments come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy begged the United States to help Kyiv get more warplanes to fight Russia’s invasion and retain control of its airspace.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era fighters and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss.
Poland has been less than enthusiastic about the idea, at least publicly, largely because Russia has warned that supporting Ukraine’s air force would be seen in Moscow as participating in the conflict and could create a risk of retaliation.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine will meet near the Turkish Mediterranean coastal city of Antalya this week.
Cavusoglu said Monday he would also take part in the meeting between Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba of Ukraine, which would be in a “trilateral format.”
The meeting will take place on the sidelines of an international diplomacy forum in Antalya this week.
Turkey, which has close ties to both Russia and Ukraine has sought to place itself as a mediator between the warring sides.
VATICAN CITY — The Vatican says two cardinals dispatched by Pope Francis to promote peace will visit refugee centers in Poland and Hungary before going to war-ravaged Ukraine.
In the first details of the mission announced by Pope Francis on Sunday, the Vatican said Monday that both prelates will press the pontiff’s oft-repeated cry that war is folly.
Cardinal Michael Czerny will arrive in Hungary on Tuesday. There, he will “raise concern that African and Asian residents in Ukraine, also suffering fear and displacement, be allowed to seek refuge without discrimination.”
Czerny also will highlight “the sad similarity between the Ukrainians’ sufferings and the protracted conflicts that no longer attract the world’s attention,” the Vatican said, citing the pope’s frequent denunciation of suffering in wars in Yemen, Syria and Ethiopia.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, a Pole, traveled to the Polish-Ukrainian border on Monday, where he will initially meet with refugees and volunteers in shelters and homes.
GENEVA — A top official with the International Committee of the Red Cross says one of its teams attempting to lead a group of civilians out of the embattled port city of Mariupol discovered that the road they were to take out was mined — a “hugely dangerous situation.”
Dominik Stillhart, ICRC’s director of operations, said the incident underpinned calls from the humanitarian group for the fighting sides to “agree on the details for safe civilian passage, including what time, exactly what road, who can leave, and if medical supplies can come in.”
“Without this kind of agreement the situation is extremely perilous for civilians,” Stillhart said.
ICRC has been working to help facilitate the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol, after a second attempt failed Sunday to start evacuating an estimated 200,000 people out of the city.
GENEVA — The United Nations’ refugee agency says the number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine has increased to more than 1.7 million.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday put the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion started on Feb. 24 at some 1.735 million. That’s up from more than 1.53 million on Sunday.
Nearly three-fifths of the total – nearly 1.03 million — arrived in Poland, according to the agency. Over 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.
In Montpellier, France, EU foreign affairs policy chief Josep Borrell called on mobilizing “all the resources” of the bloc of 27 nations to help countries welcoming refugees from Ukraine, including neighboring Poland and Romania. Borrell spoke ahead of a meeting of development ministers of the EU.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Monday for a global boycott of all Russian products – including oil.
“If the invasion continues and Russia does not abandon its plans against Ukraine, then we need a new sanctions package,” Zelensky said in a video address Monday, including “a boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products from Russia.”
“The international community must act even more decisively.”
He also said that Russia should also not receive goods and services from abroad “if (Russia) doesn’t want to abide by civilized rules.” “It can be called an embargo, or it can be just morality,” Zelensky said.
“Let the war feed them,” Zelensky said. “When someone loses his mind, you need to lose fear and forget about commerce.”
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea says it will end transactions with Russia’s central bank and two sovereign wealth funds as it lends further support to a U.S.-led economic pressure campaign against Moscow over an escalating invasion of Ukraine.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Monday the Seoul government will prohibit financial transactions with the Russian central bank, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation and the Russian Direct Investment Fund starting Tuesday.
South Korea will also stop transactions with Rossiya Bank, which is one of seven Russian banks the European Union is aiming to exclude from the SWIFT global payment system, the ministry said in a press release.
The ministry said exemptions could be given to certain transactions related to agricultural products, energy and pandemic supplies and that Seoul will apply the same licensing standards the United States is using in permitting such exchanges.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-Chan said during a briefing that South Korea was also reviewing the possibility of humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, but that such assistance would not include weapons.
LVIV, Ukraine — A senior Ukrainian official on Monday rejected a Russian proposal to evacuate civilians from besieged Ukraine to Russia and Belarus.
“This is an unacceptable option for opening humanitarian corridors,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said at a briefing.
According to the Russian proposal, the only options for civilians fleeing Kyiv and its suburbs would be to go to Gomel in neighboring Belarus. Civilians in Kharkiv and Sumy in eastern Ukraine would have to flee to the Russian city of Belgorod.
Belarus is a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and served as a launching ground for the invasion.
The Ukrainian government is proposing eight humanitarian corridors, including from the southern port of Mariupol, that would allow civilians to travel to the western regions of Ukraine, where there is no Russian shelling.
“We demand that the Russian Federation stop manipulating and abusing the trust of the leaders of France, China, Turkey and India,” Vereshchuk said
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A representative for Kyiv urged the United Nations’ top court on Monday to order Russia to halt its devastating invasion of Ukraine, at a hearing snubbed by Russia.
Ukrainian representative Anton Korynevych told judges at the International Court of Justice: “Russia must be stopped and the court has a role to play in stopping it.”
Russia’s seats at the Great Hall of Justice in the court’s Peace Palace headquarters were empty for the hearing into Ukraine’s request for the court to order Moscow to end its attack.
BEIJING — China’s Foreign Minister on Monday called Russia Beijing’s “most important strategic partner,” amid its continued refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.
Wang Yi told reporters ties with Moscow constituted “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world,” adding “no matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era.”
China has broken with the U.S., Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. It says Washington is to blame for the conflict in Ukraine.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has begun a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as they watch Russia press ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.
The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all members of NATO and Blinken aims to reassure them of the alliance’s protection in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations to other neighboring countries.
Memories of Soviet occupation are still fresh in the Baltics and since the invasion of Ukraine last month, NATO has moved quickly to boost its troop presence in its eastern flank allies while the U.S. has pledged additional support.
Blinken’s Baltic tour opened Monday in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where support for Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion government is palpable with signs of solidarity with Ukrainians in many businesses and on public buildings and buses.
“Unfortunately, the worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern for all of us and around the world,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told Blinken. “Russia’s reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to European security, the security of our alliance.”
Nauseda said that a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that “forward defense” was now needed. He predicted that “Putin will not stop in Ukraine if he will not be stopped Putin. It is our collective duty as a nation to help all Ukrainians with all means available. By saying all, I mean, indeed all means, if we want to avoid the Third World War. The choice is in our hands.”
Later Monday, Blinken will travel to Riga, Latvia before visiting Tallinn, Estonia on Tuesday.
LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says Russian forces made little progress on the ground in recent days but appear to be targeting Ukraine’s communications infrastructure “in order to reduce Ukrainian citizens’ access to reliable news and information.”
The ministry said on social media that Russian forces “probably made minimal ground advances over the weekend.
It said a TV tower in Kharkiv was reportedly struck Sunday, suspending broadcasting output. A TV tower in Kyiv was hit March 1.
Britain said Ukrainian internet access is also highly likely being disrupted as a result of collateral damage from Russian strikes on infrastructure.
LVIV, Ukraine — Russia has announced a cease-fire and the opening of humanitarian corridors in several areas of Ukraine after two failed attempts to evacuate civilians from the city of Mariupol.
A Russian task force said a cease-fire would start Monday morning, the 12th day of the war, for civilians from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, the southern port city of Mariupol, Kharkiv, the second-largest city, and Sumy. It wasn’t immediately clear if fighting would stop stop beyond the areas mentioned in the task force’s statement, or when the ceasefire would end.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians attempting to flee to safety Sunday were forced to shelter from Russian shelling that pummeled cities in Ukraine’s center, north and south. Ukraine officials described a “catastrophic” situation during failed evacuation efforts in Kyiv’s suburbs.
Officials from both sides also planned a third round of talks Monday.
Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the earlier failed evacuation attempts.
Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Defense Ministry, show that civilians will be able to leave to Russia and Belarus. Russian forces will be observing the ceasefire with drones, the task force said.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s government plans to rush through legislation that will allow it to impose economic sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.
New Zealand’s existing laws don’t allow it to impose meaningful sanctions except as part of a broader United Nations effort. That has left New Zealand hamstrung since Russia has U.N. Security Council veto power.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday the new legislation would allow New Zealand to target people, companies and assets associated with the invasion, including Russian oligarchs. New Zealand also could freeze assets and stop superyachts or planes from arriving.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the bill “will send a very clear signal that New Zealand will not be a safe haven for those wishing to move their investments here.”
The Russia Sanctions Bill is scheduled to be heard by lawmakers on Wednesday and could pass as quickly as the same day. Ardern said she’s hoping it will be supported by lawmakers across all parties although a unanimous vote wasn’t guaranteed.
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House is exploring legislation to further isolate Russia from the global economy, including banning the import of its oil and energy products into the U.S.
Amid rising gasoline prices in the U.S., the Biden administration has yet to call for an oil import ban on Russia.
In a letter to Democrats released Sunday night, Pelosi says the legislation under consideration would also repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and begin the process of denying Russia access to the World Trade Organization.
Pelosi says the House would also empower the Biden administration to raise tariffs on Russian imports.
Congress intends to approve the Biden administration’s request for $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine, Pelosi said, as part of omnibus government funding legislation this week.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said more than 20,000 people from 52 countries have already volunteered to fight in Ukraine, where they will serve in a newly created international legion. He did not say how many of the foreign volunteers have arrived in Ukraine.
“The whole world today is on Ukraine’s side not only in words but in deeds,” Kuleba said on Ukrainian television Sunday night.
He did not name the home countries of the volunteers, saying that some of them forbid their citizens from fighting for other countries.
Kuleba also urged Ukrainians living in other countries to begin a campaign to push for Ukraine’s membership in the European Union.
WASHINGTON — Lamenting a uniquely American tragedy, an anguished and angry President Joe Biden delivered an urgent call for new restrictions on firearms after a gunman shot and killed at least 19 children at a Texas elementary school.
PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.
WASHINGTON — Nearly 50 defense leaders from around the world met Monday and agreed to send more advanced weapons to Ukraine, including a Harpoon launcher and missiles to protect its coast, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters.
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