NEW YORK — Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall, who was seriously injured in the wartime incident that killed two colleagues on Monday, is out of Ukraine, the network said on Wednesday.
“Ben is alert and in good spirits,” said Suzanne Scott, Fox News Media CEO, in a memo to staff. “He is being treated with the best possible care in the world and we are in close contact with his wife and family.”
Fox video journalist Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, a Ukrainian journalist working with the Fox crew, were both killed when their vehicle was struck by incoming fire in Horenka, outside of Kyiv. Hall survived the blast.
The network offered no other details of Hall’s whereabouts or his condition.
HERE ARE TODAY’S KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— THe port city of Mariupol descends into despair
— Russia could default – what then?
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for updates throughout the day.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY:
NEW YORK — The Russian Orthodox Church says Pope Francis discussed the war in Ukraine with its leader, Patriarch Kirill, in a call on Wednesday.
The Russian Orthodox Church said the call, which included other senior figures from both churches, included expressions from both sides “that a just peace is achieved soon” and the importance of negotiations, as well as “humanitarian aspects of the current crisis.”
The Vatican didn’t immediately respond when asked to confirm the call or comment on its contents.
Earlier Wednesday, during his weekly general audience, Francis made reference to a “final catastrophe” of an atomic war that would extinguish humanity. While he didn’t reference Ukraine explicitly in that part of his speech, he did elsewhere call for prayers for Ukraine and for God to protect its children and to forgive those who make war.
BUCHAREST, Romania — Three Romanian citizens are being investigated by prosecutors after a car was discovered by security officials carrying six Ukrainian men in a city near the Ukraine border, Romanian border police said.
“Upon entering the city … the driver abandoned the car and fled to the nearby houses, and inside the car was discovered six men of Ukrainian citizenship,” border police said in a statement Wednesday. “They had not completed the entry formalities in Romania through the border point.”
More than 3 million refugees from war-torn Ukraine, mostly women and children, have fled into neighboring countries since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24. Men in Ukraine aged between 18 and 60 years old are not allowed to legally leave, unless they have three or more children.
The car carrying the Ukrainian nationals failed to stop when signaled Monday by police, resulting in a car chase that ended in the town of Radauti, border police said.
The town of Radauti in Suceava County is situated about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Romania’s northern Siret border crossing with Ukraine, where tens of thousands of refugees have entered since Russia began its attacks.
The men have asked for protection from the Romanian state and have applied for asylum, authorities said.
WASHINGTON — White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan and Gen. Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, spoke by phone on Wednesday, the highest level engagement between the U.S. and Russia since the invasion nearly three weeks ago.
Sullivan warned Patrushev “about the consequences and implications of any possible Russian decision to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine,” according national security council spokesperson Emily Horne. The White House last week accused China of spreading Russian disinformation that could be a pretext for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.
Patrushev spoke of “the need to stop Washington’s support for neo-Nazis and terrorists in Ukraine and to facilitate the transfer of foreign mercenaries to the conflict zone, as well as to refuse to continue supplying weapons to the Kyiv regime,” council spokesman Yevgeny Anoshin said.
The call marked the highest-level conversation between the two sides since the invasion began.
Lower-level interactions between two sides have been ongoing, with the embassies in Moscow and Washington passing messages, much as they do with their missions at the United Nations. Those exchanges have been largely confined to informing the other side of diplomatic expulsions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin charged Wednesday that the West is trying to divide Russia through “the fifth column” and “national traitors,” apparently referring to Kremlin critics.
”(The West) now, once again, wants to repeat the attempt to squeeze us, to put pressure on us, to turn us into a weak dependent country, to violate (our) territorial integrity, to dismember, in the best way for them, Russia. It didn’t work out then, and it won’t work out now,” Putin said in a long emotional speech, opening a video conference meeting with government officials. “Of course, they will bet on the so-called ‘fifth column,’ national traitors, those who earn money here, but live there.”
The Russian leader juxtaposed “our people” to Russians who “have a villa in Miami or on the French Riviera, those who can’t go by without foiе gras, oysters or so-called gender freedoms.” “That’s not the problem, the problem is that many of those people, by their very nature, are mentally there. They are not here. Not with our people. Not with Russia,” Putin said.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan traveled to Ukraine on Wednesday and had a surprise virtual linkup with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the court’s ongoing war crimes investigation.
“I was pleased to hold important exchanges with the President while in the country; we agreed all efforts are needed to ensure international humanitarian law is respected and to protect the civilian population,” Khan said in a statement following the virtual meeting.
The court opened an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity two weeks ago, following a record-breaking number of referrals from other signatories to the Rome Statute, which created the court in 2002. Investigators traveled to Ukraine last week to begin collecting evidence.
Ukraine is not a member of the court but gave the court jurisdiction over crimes on its territory in 2014 after the Russian-backed government was removed following a popular uprising. As the Russian Federation is also not a party to the court, it has no jurisdiction over the invasion itself but could indict people from either country for committing war crimes.
Kyiv has alleged widespread human rights abuses by Russia, including the use of cluster bombs against civilians and attacking hospitals and schools.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the operation in Ukraine is unfolding “successfully, in strict accordance with pre-approved plans” and decried Western sanctions against Russia, describing them as “aggression and war with economic, political, information means.”
At the same time Putin said that the West has failed to wage “an economic blitzkrieg” against Russia.
“In effect these steps are aimed at worsening the lives of millions of people,” Putin said of the sanctions that have delivered a crippling blow to Russia’s economy.
“One should clearly understand that the new set of sanctions and restrictions against us would have followed in any case, I want to emphasize this. Our military operation in Ukraine is just a pretext for the next sanctions,” Putin told a government meeting Wednesday.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for an end to the “bloodshed and tears” from the conflict in Ukraine during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart.
Speaking after a meeting with Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday, Cavusoglu also called for an immediate cease-fire for the besieged city of Mariupol to allow the evacuation of stranded civilians, including Turkish citizens.
“This state of events must come to an end, the bloodshed and tears must be stopped now,” Cavusoglu said. “There can be no winners in war and no losers in peace.”
Cavusoglu is visiting Moscow as Turkey — a NATO member — has maintained close ties to both Ukraine and Russia, positioning itself as a mediator between the two sides. He is scheduled to travel to Ukraine on Thursday.
Dozens of Turkish nationals and others have been sheltering inside a mosque in Mariupol, seeking refuge from the Russian attack on the encircled port.
Cavusoglu said Turkey has so far evacuated more than 15,000 of its citizens from Ukraine.
TOKYO — Japan’s Defense Ministry says it has spotted Russian warships crossing a strait in northern Japan this week as Russia’s maritime activity in the area has escalated.
The ministry said Wednesday that it has also spotted an unmanned Chinese aircraft BZK-007 violating Japanese Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, causing the Air Self-Defense Force to scramble fighter jets and conduct surveillance activity.
China and Russia have stepped up their military collaboration recently, causing concerns in Japan about escalating tension in East Asia.
A pair of Russian tank-landing ships crossed the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori on the northern end of Japan’s main island and Hokkaido on Tuesday night, and another pair of tank carriers were spotted in similar waters Wednesday. The ships moved west to the Sea of Japan.
Larger fleets of Russian warships have been repeatedly seen in northern Japanese waters in recent months.
WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cited Pearl Harbor and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in appealing to the U.S. Congress in his country’s fight against Russia.
Zelenskyy said by livestream at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday: “We need you right now.”
Zelenskyy has been rallying support against Russia’s crushing invasion. Wednesday’s speech was among Zelenskyy’s most important as he pushes the U.S. to do more than it has pledged so far.
Zelenskyy again asked for Western air forces to set up a no-fly zone to block Russian airplanes that are attacking cities and other civilian targets.
Notably, however, Zelenskyy also gave Western leaders an out from his demand for a no-fly zone, which the U.S. and NATO say would risk dragging the West into war against Russia.
“If this is too much to ask, we offer you an alternative,” Zelenskyy said. He asked by name for the Soviet-era S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, or similar systems to use against Russian aircraft, on top of Stingers and other anti-aircraft weapons already delivered by the West.
Biden is expected to deliver an address later Wednesday announcing $800 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine.
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic’s Prime Minister, Petr Fiala, who visited the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv together with his Polish and Slovenian counterparts, said the Ukrainians urgently need weapons to have a chance to face the invading Russian troops.
“Ukraine these days and weeks needs above all arms supply,“ Fiala said on Wednesday at a Prague airport after returning from Tuesday’s visit.
He said such supplies have to be delivered quickly by as many countries as possible and have to be massive.
It must be done in days,“ Fiala said.
“We have to realize that (the Ukrainians) do also fight for our independence, for our freedom and we have to support them. That’s the reason why we traveled there, to show them they’re not alone.“
WARSAW, Poland — Ukrainian refugees in Poland stood in long queues on Wednesday, the first day they were allowed to apply for a national identification number which will give them access to public services such as medical care and education.
Huge lines formed in Warsaw and other cities. The government deployed 1,000 clerks nationwide to process their requests.
Almost 1.9 million Ukrainian refugees have crossed Poland’s border since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. While some head on to other countries, many are choosing to stay in Poland, where they often have family ties and share cultural similarities with the neighboring Slavic nation.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has signed into law a set of measures to help the refugees.
It allows them to legalize their stay for 18 months and gives them many other rights usually reserved for citizens and permanent residents of the country. It makes it easier for Ukrainians to receive the ID number, to work and access benefits, healthcare and education, and even to receive monthly cash bonuses for children under age 18.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainian children have been registered at Polish schools.
JERUSALEM — The speaker of Israel’s parliament says the Ukrainian president will make a speech to legislators next week.
Mickey Levy said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address will be held via video conference on Sunday at 6 p.m.
In a statement from his office Wednesday, Levy said it would be “an honor” to hear Zelenskyy speak “at this difficult time facing the Ukrainian people.”
Israel is one of the few countries to have good working relations with both Ukraine and Russia.
STRASBOURG, France — The Council of Europe has expelled Russia from the continent’s foremost human rights body in an unprecedented move over its invasion and war in Ukraine.
The ministerial committee of the 47-nation organization said in statement Wednesday 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. Earlier this week, the group’s parliamentary assembly already initiated the process of expulsion and unanimously supported Russia’s expulsion.
BRUSSELS — Estonia’s defense minister is backing Ukraine’s appeal for NATO to set up a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Speaking Wednesday before a meeting of fellow NATO defense ministers in Brussels, Kalle Laanet said alliance countries can help defend civilians against Russian air strikes.
Laanet says Estonia, a Baltic state, has “the kind of capabilities” needed to police a no-fly zone.
Many NATO allies are opposed to the idea, hwever. It could oblige them to attack air defense systems in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and force them to shoot down Russian aircraft, sparking a wider war in Europe.
ROME — Italy has frozen 4 million euros ($4.4 million) in Sardinian real estate belonging to Petr Aven, classified by the European Union as “one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs.”
A statement from Premier Mario Draghi’s office Wednesday said the Sassari building complex was frozen March 15.
It was the latest in a series of confiscations of Russian oligarch-owned yachts, villas and other holdings in Italy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the imposition of EU sanctions on Putin and members of his inner circle.
According to the European Union Council decision sanctioning Russian oligarchs, Aven regularly meets with Putin and “does not operate independently of the president’s demands.” It identified him as an important shareholder of the Alfa Group, which includes the Russian Alfa Bank.
TOKYO — Japan’s prime minister says his country will revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status over its invasion of Ukraine, as Tokyo steps up sanctions against Moscow in line with other Group of Seven countries.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters Wednesday that Japan is also barring the export of luxury products to Russia and is to stop importing selected Russian goods.
He said Japan will also step up efforts to prevent Russia from obtaining loans from global financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund.
The measures are the latest Japan has taken against Moscow in recent weeks. Japan has also frozen the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and top officials and billionaires close to him and banned exports of high technology goods that could be used for military purposes.
Japan will also step up humanitarian support for the Ukrainians, including shipping medical supplies and other relief goods, while taking in those who flee the country, Kishida said.
BERLIN — German authorities are investigating attacks on Russian premises in the country following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
Berlin police said Wednesday they are probing whether a bottle thrown at a Russian-Orthodox church in the city, damaging three windows, was politically motivated.
Police said nobody was injured in the incident, which happened Tuesday morning. The church is currently housing Ukrainian refugees.
In a separate incident last week, a bottle containing flammable liquid was thrown at the gym of a Russian private school in the German capital. Nobody was injured but the building sustained fire damage.
German weekly Der Spiegel reported last Friday that authorities had registered 318 incidents across the country — including property damage, threats and assaults — that might be linked to the conflict in Ukraine.
GENEVA — The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross is in Kyiv to try to obtain greater access for humanitarian groups in Ukraine and better protection for civilians.
The ICRC said Wednesday that the planned five-day visit by its president, Peter Maurer, aims to view first-hand the challenges facing civilians, meet with members of Ukraine’s government and explore ways the ICRC can expand its work in the country.
The trip came a day after the Geneva-based organization helped shepherd out hundreds of people in an evacuation from the northern city of Sumy in some 80 buses.
The ICRC also announced the delivery of 200 tons of aid to Ukraine, including kits for the war-wounded, blankets, kitchen sets, water and more than 5,200 body bags.
The ICRC has been working in Ukraine since 2014 and has a team of more than 600 staffers there, it says.
ROME — Italy is bolstering its refugee reception system to accommodate the around 47,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived since the start of the Russian invasion.
Top government officials from Italy’s interior, economy and labor ministries, as well as the Civil Protection agency, met Wednesday to coordinate Italy’s response. To date, 47,153 Ukrainians have arrived, including 19,069 minors, the government said in a statement.
Italy initially processes refugees in welcome centers. They are then placed with families or in apartments run by NGOs, church groups or other agencies.
MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says a “business-like spirit” is emerging at talks with Ukraine that are now focused on a neutral status for the war-torn country.
“A neutral status is being seriously discussed in connection with security guarantees,” Lavrov said Wednesday on Russian channel RBK TV. “There are concrete formulations that in my view are close to being agreed.”
He didn’t elaborate, but said “the business-like spirit” starting to surface in the talks “gives hope that we can agree on this issue.”
Russia’s chief negotiator in the latest round of talks with Ukraine, which started Monday and are set to continue Wednesday, said earlier the sides are discussing a possible compromise idea for a future Ukraine with a smaller, non-aligned military.
“A whole range of issues tied with the size of Ukraine’s army is being discussed,” Russian negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said, according to Russian news agencies.
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian officials. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that the country realizes it can’t join NATO. Ukraine’s bid to join the Western military alliance has been a sore point for Moscow.
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