Russia-Ukraine updates: US, other nations to disconnect some Russian banks from SWIFT – TrendyNewsReporters
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Russia-Ukraine updates: US, other nations to disconnect some Russian banks from SWIFT

Russia’s military launched a long-feared invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, attacking its ex-Soviet neighbor from multiple directions despite warnings of dire consequences from the United States and the international community.

Thursday’s attacks followed weeks of escalating tensions in the region. In a fiery, hourlong speech on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was recognizing the independence of two Russia-backed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region: the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia has blamed Ukraine for stoking the crisis and reiterated its demands to NATO that Ukraine pledges to never join the transatlantic defense alliance.

Latest Developments

At least 64 civilians killed in Ukraine, UN says

At least 64 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on Thursday, the United Nations said, warning the “figures could rise in the coming days.”

Another 176 civilians were injured in ground and aerial attacks, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report published Saturday.

More than 150,000 people have fled Ukraine, with about half crossing into Poland, Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said on Twitter on Saturday.

“While the scale and scope of displacement will only likely become apparent in the coming days and weeks, Ukrainian authorities estimate that as many as 5 million people could flee the country, triggering a refugee crisis that will test response capacities in neighbouring countries,” OCHA said in its report.

Displacement within Ukraine is also growing, Grandi said, “but the military situation makes it difficult to estimate numbers and provide aid.”

Protesters gather across the US to support Ukraine

Protests were held across the United States on Saturday as demonstrators called for Russian to cease its invasion of Ukraine.

Times Square in New York City was clogged with light blue and yellow, while Ukrainian supporters also rallied in Washington, Los Angeles and several other major cities Saturday.

New York City

Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles



Elon Musk says he’s activated Starlink in Ukraine

In response to a plea on Twitter from a Ukrainian official, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said Saturday that his high-speed internet service Starlink is now active in Ukraine.

“More terminals en route,” he tweeted in a reply to Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation.

Earlier Saturday, Fedorov appealed directly to Musk and asked him to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations.

The terminals are small, portable satellite dishes on Earth that connect directly to Starlink satellites in space — providing high-speed internet to rural and hard-to-reach locations. This is especially important for areas that have already lost access and could potentially help them avoid cyberattacks.

The White House announced further sanctions on Russia Saturday evening.

The U.S., along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, are disconnecting some Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) banking network and are “imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions,” the White House said.

“This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the White House said in a statement.

The White House added, “We commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship — so called golden passports — that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.”

The U.S. will also launch a trans-Atlantic task force “that will ensure the effective implementation of our financial sanctions by identifying and freezing the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies that exist within our jurisdictions.”

On a call with reporters Saturday night, a senior administration official said the move to sanction the central bank will show that Russia’s defense of claiming that sanctions don’t hurt their economy “is a myth.”

“The 600 billion-plus war chest of Russia’s foreign reserves is only powerful if Putin can use it,” the official said. “And without being able to buy the ruble from Western financial institutions, for example, Putin and the central bank will lose the ability to offset the impact of our sanctions. The ruble will fall even further, inflation will spike and the central bank will be left defenseless.”

The Biden administration said it’s also upping the fight against disinformation and “other forms of hybrid warfare.”

Kyiv under curfew as it braces for Russian forces

Kyiv, which was a bustling, relaxed city three days ago, has now transformed to a war-time city as it braces for Russian forces.

Kyiv’s mayor has imposed a 39-hour curfew beginning Saturday night, banning everyone except critical infrastructure workers from the streets. Ukrainian authorities say the curfew is to allow the city to hunt down Russian sabotage groups, get defenses organized and prevent friendly-fire incidents.

Checkpoints manned by tense, heavily armed Ukrainian soldiers are set up throughout Kyiv and authorities are setting up barricades.

The city’s lights have been dimmed, leaving an eerie silence, only punctured by the howls of air raid sirens or blasts of gunfire.

Since Friday morning there has been fighting in Kyiv’s northern neighborhoods. For two nights, missiles have struck targets around Kyiv. Hundreds of people have begun sheltering in the deep subway system, sleeping on the platforms

Russian forces: ‘We don’t know who to shoot, they all look like us’

A senior U.S. official told ABC News they’ve heard a Russian soldier on a radio call saying, “We don’t know who to shoot — they all look like us.”

The official also said some Russian forces are disoriented, realizing the battles against Ukrainians are harder than they thought.

Germany drops opposition to sending lethal aid

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced that Germany is dropping its historic position of not providing lethal military aid to conflict zones, saying Russia’s “invasion marks a turning point.”

Germany will provide 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles, he said.

The Netherlands is also announcing new lethal aid, according to its Defense Ministry.

The $350 million military aid package from the U.S. will include “anti-armor, small arms and various munitions, body armor, and related equipment in support of Ukraine’s front-line defenders facing down Russia’s unprovoked attack,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. The U.S. package also includes portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) in the Pentagon’s inventory, a U.S. official told ABC News.

Ukrainians waiting 40 hours to cross border: UN

At a border crossing near Zosin, Poland — due west of Kyiv — Ukrainians are waiting for 40 hours to cross into Poland in a nearly 10-mile backlog, said Chris Meltzer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Meltzer said one woman with her two children told him it took her 12 hours to get out of Kyiv and then they spent another 38 hours waiting in their car without heat or a bathroom.

He said the biggest needs are blankets, clothes and accommodations.

Meltzer said, once they cross, most Ukrainians are staying in the border region because they want to return home as soon as possible.

Zelenskyy says Russia will be disconnected from SWIFT

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday Western countries have agreed to disconnect Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) banking network.

“For Russia it will mean being cut off [from] normal financial civilization. This is a big diplomatic victory,” he said. “Russia will suffer billions upon billions of financial losses — their price for invasion.”

Ukraine’s foreign minister said earlier that technical preparations have begun for disconnecting Russia from SWIFT and that the last holdouts, Germany and Hungary, have signaled they’re no longer opposed.

Zelenskyy also said Turkey’s president has agreed to close the straits into the Black Sea to Russia.

Zelenskyy continued, “You know, it was a beautiful sunny day in Kyiv today that occupiers tried to ruin. But today is also the first day in the life of the baby girl born in the shelter in Kyiv metro station.”

“We fight back strongly … and we will do our best to liberate our country,” he said. “When babies come into this world even under shelling and fire, then the enemy has no chance in this war.”

Biden responds to Trump calling Putin ‘genius’

President Joe Biden responded to former President Donald Trump’s comments this week that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine are “genius.”

“I put as much stock in Trump saying that Putin’s a genius as I do when he called himself a stable genius,” Biden said in a pre-recorded interview with Brian Tyler Cohen.

In a radio interview this week, Trump said it was “genius” that Putin declared a portion of Ukraine independent.

“Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s strongest peace force … We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen,” Trump said on the conservative talk radio program “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show.”

“Here’s a guy who’s very savvy,” Trump said. “I know him very well. Very, very well.”

Biden in the interview defended his sanctions on Russia as “nothing like” what the U.S. has done before and weighed what the other option could have been.

“You have two options: start a third World War, go to war with Russia physically. Or two, make sure that a country that acts so contrary to international law ends up paying the price,” he said.

“There’s no sanction that is immediate. It’s not like you can sanction someone and say, ‘You no longer are going to be able to be president of Russia,'” he continued. “But I think the sanctions — I know — I know the sanctions are the broadest sanctions in history.”

“Russia will pay a serious price for this short term and long term, particularly long term,” Biden said.

Biden held a secure call with his national security team Saturday morning on the latest developments, according to a White House official.


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