More than 1 million people have fled Ukraine in one of the “swiftest refugee exodus this century,” the United Nations said Thursday as Russian military forces escalated attacks on civilian areas of Ukraine’s largest cities.
In one week, more than 2% of Ukraine’s population has been forced out of the country, according to a tally from the United Nations released to The Associated Press. The number topped 1 million on Wednesday.
The mass evacuation could be seen in Kharkiv, where residents desperate to escape falling shells and bombs crowded the city’s train station and pressed onto trains, not always knowing where they were headed. New York Timesciting Ukrainian officials, reported that Russian troops seized the southern port city of Kherson.
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“We are a people who in a week have destroyed the plans of the enemy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address early Thursday local time. “They will have no peace here. They will have no food. They will have here not one quiet moment.”
Moscow’s isolation deepened when most of the world lined up against it at the United Nations to demand it withdraw from Ukraine. Urged by a coalition of 38 countries led by the UK, the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor opened an investigation Wednesday into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Ukraine dating back to 2013, but also covering the current conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion.
— Celina Tebor and Josh Meyer, USA TODAY; Associated Press
►In a stunning reversal, Russian and Belarusian athletes have been banned from the Winter Paralympic Games for their countries’ roles in the war in Ukraine, the International Paralympic Committee said Thursday in Beijing.
►A South Korean pharmaceutical company manufacturing Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine says it’s bracing for business complications as the US-led West escalates sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine,
►About 3,800 troops based at Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia have been ordered to deploy quickly and bolster US forces in Europe.
►Two of the world’s big three credit agencies downgraded Russia’s rating to “junk” status Wednesday, arguing that sanctions imposed by other countries in response to the Ukrainian invasion have jeopardized Russian financial stability.
►The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor opened an investigation Wednesday into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Ukraine dating back to 2013, but also covering the conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion.
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday the ongoing invasion of Russian forces in Ukraine will allow COVID-19 to spread easily across the countryconcerning health officials that the situation will result in many cases going undetected as attacks are made on healthcare facilities.
“You disrupt society like this and literally millions of people on the move, then infectious diseases will exploit that,” Mike Ryan, director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said during a news briefing. “(People are) highly susceptible to the impacts of, first of all, of being infected themselves, and it’s much more likely that disease will spread.”
Ukraine is coming off one of its worst waves of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to WHO data.
On Feb. 4, there were a record 43,778 positive cases reported, and although cases have continuously declined since then, the crisis could result in the virus easily spreading without tests available. Only 34% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, according to WHO data.
— Jordan Mendoza
President Joe Biden announced the US is closing off airspace to all Russian flights during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, a decision with a sprawling geographic impact due to the numerous territories in the Pacific Ocean.
The move is part of a global effort aimed at isolating Russia from the rest of the world. Cutting off Russian flights to the US will impact airspace over the lower 48 states, Hawaii, Alaska, and the American-controlled territories that expand across much of the Pacific Ocean.
Those territories include Palau and the Marshall Islands. And under the Compacts of Free Association, a series of treaties between the United States and those territories, the US has access to and controls much of the airspace surrounding the islands.
— Celina Tebor
Senior Chinese officials told Russian officials back in February not to invade Ukraine before the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Times, citing a Western intelligence report and quoting senior Biden administration officials and a European official, said that the Chinese officials had “some level of direct knowledge about Russia’s war plans or intentions“Before the invasion started last month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Feb. 4 before the Winter Games kicked off in Beijing. According to the Times, it’s not clear if conversations about the invasion took place in the meeting between Xi and Putin.
After their meeting last month, both leaders issued a joint statement highlighting what they called “interference in the internal affairs” of other states, as Xi and Putin faced criticism from the United States over their foreign and domestic policies.
the relationship between China and Russia has grown over the past few decades, and the two nations opposed a further expansion of NATO. When Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, China called for peace between the two countries and said the US and its allies were worsening the conflict.
— Charles Ventura, Asha C. Gilbert
Contributing: The Associated Press
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism