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Russia-Ukraine live updates: 'Small number' of UK soldiers join fight against orders

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(NEW YORK) — Russian forces are continuing their attempted push through Ukraine from multiple directions, while Ukrainians, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, are putting up “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The attack began Feb. 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation.”

Russian forces moving from neighboring Belarus toward Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, don’t appear to have advanced closer to the city since coming within about 20 miles, although smaller advanced groups have been fighting gun battles with Ukrainian forces inside the capital since at least Friday.

Russia has been met by sanctions from the United States, Canada and countries throughout Europe, targeting the Russian economy as well as Putin himself.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

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Mar 10, 1:32 pm
Blinken speaks to Polish foreign minister

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Polish counterpart, Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, to discuss joint security and humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, specifically Russia’s attacks on civilian population centers, according to the U.S. State Department.

The two met on the Polish-Ukrainian border Saturday. The phone call comes amid disagreements over sending fighter jets to Ukraine after Poland said it is willing to send the jets to a U.S. base in Germany, the Pentagon said the move could be seen by Russia as “escalatory.”

“Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Rau discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts, including sanctions, to stop Putin’s war of aggression. The Secretary reiterated the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the U.S. State Department said in a release.

The State Department added, “The Secretary and Foreign Minister also discussed the continued importance of providing security assistance to Ukraine.”

The call comes as Vice President Harris visits Poland, and after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called his Polish counterpart on Wednesday.

Blinken also spoke to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Wednesday, ahead of his talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

-ABC News’ Conor Finnegan

Mar 10, 1:12 pm
Biden Administration ‘trapped in cycle of passivity,’ McConnell says of MiG-29 debacle

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decried the Biden administration on the Senate floor Thursday over the “bizarre argument” that played out in public after the U.S. refused to accept Poland’s offer to donate MiG-29 aircrafts to Ukraine’s military resistance.

McConnell accused the Biden Administration of “contradicting themselves” and of proving incapable to coordinate assistance efforts with NATO allies.

“The world needs President Biden and his team to be leading, taking the initiative and shaping circumstances, calmly soberly, but with confidence and decisiveness,” McConnell said. “They seem to be trapped in a cycle of passivity indecision self-determines.”

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Mar 10, 12:54 pm
Russia claims mercenaries from US and UK attacking Russian medics

Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov held another press briefing in which he accused NATO countries of committing war crimes.

Konashenkov claimed Thursday that mercenaries from the U.K. and U.S. are increasingly attacking Russian military medics who are accomplishing humanitarian missions in Ukrainian territory.

“Attacks on Russian medics and special medical vehicles by the Ukrainian nationalists and mercenaries that came earlier from the U.S., Britain and Europe to Ukraine have become more frequent over the past few days,” Konashenkov said.

Konashenkov also denied reports that the Russian military had carried out a strike on a children’s hospital in Mariupol on Wednesday, dismissing reports on the matter as an “an information provocation staged by the Kyiv regime.”

“The alleged airstrike that took place is a completely staged provocation in order to maintain the anti-Russian public outcry in the Western audience,” he alleged.

Russian forces have destroyed nearly 3,000 military installations in Ukraine since the invasion began, Konashenkov claimed. In the last 24 hours, 68 installations, including two sites of the Ukrainian troop control system, 12 material and technical support centers and three Osa air defense missile systems, were obliterated, he said.

Mar 10, 12:48 pm
Harris meets with Ukrainian refugees, US embassy staff in Poland

As part of her trip to Poland, Vice President Kamala Harris met with 7 people who fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine and some members of the U.S. embassy staff Thursday to discuss their experiences.

“I have invited in these very important people to join me for a conversation about their experiences, and also their thoughts about what we can do the United States and our allies in this region and around the world to support the many people that have been displaced through the necessity to flee Ukraine and the harm that it represents at this moment,” Harris said to the group.

Harris thanked the group for meeting with her to share their experiences.

“The conversation we will have this afternoon will help inform me, the President of the United States, and the American people about what you have experienced, so that we can best support you and your family,” Harris said to the group.

Before the press was ushered out, Harris sought to reassure the participants.

“We are here to support you and you are not alone. And I know there’s so much about the experience that you’ve had that has made you feel alone. You are not alone,” she pledged.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle

Mar 10, 12:39 pm
Lukashenko to meet with Putin in Moscow on Friday

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will travel to Russia on Friday for a meeting with his close ally and Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders will meet in Moscow where they “will discuss key issues concerning bilateral relations, the development of union cooperation and economic cooperation in conditions of sanctions pressure,” according to the Pool of the First Man channel on Telegram, which is reportedly linked to Belarusian state media.

“The situation in the region and in Ukraine is on the agenda as well,” the channel said.

Mar 10, 12:18 pm
Western Union suspends operations in Russia, Belarus

Western Union announced Thursday that it is suspending its operations in Russia and close ally Belarus amid the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

The Denver-based money-transfer and payments company said in a statement that it “stands with the world in condemning the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”

“All of us share the shock, disbelief, and sadness around this tragedy and humanitarian disaster,” the company added. “Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine and to our colleagues, customers, agents, and partners who have been impacted.”

Company leadership have engaged in extensive dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders “in an earnest effort to arrive at the right decision regarding our services in Russia and Belarus,” according to Western Union.

“We have thoroughly evaluated internal and external considerations, including the consequences for our valued teammates, partners, and customers,” the company said. “Ultimately, in light of the ongoing tragic impact of Russia’s prolonged assault on Ukraine, we have arrived at the decision to suspend our operations in Russia and Belarus.”

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Mar 10, 12:13 pm
Harris announces $50 million in aid to UN World Food Program after meeting with Polish president

Vice President Kamala Harris announced Thursday that the U.S. will be giving $50 million in humanitarian assistance to the United Nations World Food Program.

Harris made the announcement during a joint press conference after she met with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.

USAID will deliver the funds to the WFP, which go toward providing emergency food aid, such as high-energy biscuits, to refugees and supporting the WFP’s operations to get aid into Ukraine, according to a release from USAID.

Including the aid money announced Thursday, the U.S. has provided $107 million in humanitarian aid since Russia’s war against Ukraine started, according to USAID.

In the press conference, Harris and Duda spoke about the unified partnership between the U.S. and Poland on the war in Ukraine.

“We will do everything together in partnership, in solidarity, to support what is necessary this very moment in terms of the humanitarian and security needs of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people,” Harris said.

Harris and Duda also condemned the Russian attack on a maternity hospital which killed 3 people and wounded 17, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“We have been witnessing for weeks, and certainly just in the last 24 hours, atrocities of unimaginable proportions,” Harris said.

Duda went as far as saying if hospitals and residential buildings are bombed where there are no military installations, “this is an act of barbarity baring the features of a genocide.”

“We cannot accept such military activities that bare the characteristics of genocide,” Duda said.

Harris also announced that the U.S. has delivered Patriot missile systems to Poland, which it had promised earlier this week, and noted the recent deployment of 4,700 U.S. troops to Poland.

-ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Conor Finnegan

Mar 10, 11:40 am
At least 549 civilians, including 41 children, killed in Ukraine: OHCHR

At least 549 civilians, including 41 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Meanwhile, at least 957 civilians, including 52 children, have been injured, OHCHR figures show.

The tallies are civilian casualties that occurred in Ukraine from Feb. 24 to March 9 and have been verified by OHCHR, which cautioned that “actual figures are much higher.”

-ABC News’ Christine Theodorou

Mar 10, 11:31 am
Goldman Sachs shutting down its operations in Russia

Goldman Sachs announced Thursday that it will be shutting down its operations in Russia.

“Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements,” Goldman Sachs said in a statement.

The company added, “We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the wellbeing of our people.”

-ABC News’ Victor Ordoñez

Mar 10, 11:19 am
Samaritan’s Purse opens outpatient clinic in Lviv

Samaritan’s Purse opened an outpatient clinic just outside the train station in Lviv on Thursday and has already treated its first patients.

Some people have evacuated so quickly they left their homes without their medicine — and by the time they made it to Lviv they were in desperate need, Mark Agness, an emergency room doctor from California, told ABC News. Pregnant women and newborns are also common.

“That’s why we do this … it’s really the parable of the Good Samaritan. Help thy neighbor — well they’re my neighbor,” said Agness.

Chelsea Musick, a nurse from Iowa, has been with the organization for years and said working in Ukraine is different. Unlike other humanitarian disasters, this was entirely man made, she said. She described the patients she’s seeing as having a “haunted” look in their eyes.

Samaritan’s Purse is also building a large field hospital, which they expect to be operational by the weekend, in the parking garage of a local mall, a few minutes away from the train station. The hospital will have enough room for 15 surgeries a day and will be able to increase beds as needed.

The operation is primarily funded by individual donors from the U.S., the organization said. Two airlifts of supplies have already been coordinated from the U.S.

-ABC News’ Irene Hnatiuk, Maggie Rulli and John Templeton

Mar 10, 11:07 am
For one Ukrainian poet, the sword is mightier than the pen

In a college gym-turned-shelter, Kyrill Nodikov, a Ukrainian poet who has been published in Ukraine and Russia, told ABC News he and his 20-year-old son are ready to enlist in the war.

Nodikov was seeking refuge in a shelter with his wife, their three kids, a dog and a tabby cat.

There are thousands of families struggling with the same dilemma: whether to take their animals, which makes their exodus far more complicated, or leave them behind. Most have stayed loyal to their animals.

When asked what it would be like to take care of her twins and pets by herself, Oksana, Nodikov’s wife, started crying.

Sitting on mats on the floor of the gymnasium, the family gathered in a huddle, hugging, holding and comforting Oksana. And then they did the Ukrainian version of a pinky promise: hooking their pinkies and saying, “Peace, friendship, bubble gum.”

-ABC News’ Matt Gutman, Brandon Baur and Scott Munro

Mar 10, 10:27 am
Small number of UK soldiers allegedly join fight in Ukraine against orders

A “small number” of soldiers from the United Kingdom may have “disobeyed orders” by joining Ukraine’s fight against invading Russian forces, according to a spokesperson for the British Army.

“We are aware of a small number of individual soldiers who have disobeyed orders and gone absent without leave, and may have travelled to Ukraine in a personal capacity,” the British Army spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Wednesday night. “We are actively and strongly encouraging them to return to the U.K.”

Personal information on the individuals is not being released for privacy reasons, according to the spokesperson.

The U.K. is advising against all travel to Ukraine and warned that going to fight or assist others engaged in the conflict may be against the law or could lead to prosecution. The U.K., along with its allies, is providing a range of support to Ukraine, including enhancing the country’s defense capability. But that support is fundamentally defensive in nature and neither NATO nor Ukraine pose any aggressive threat to Russia, according to a spokesperson for the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

“All Service Personnel are prohibited from travelling to Ukraine until further notice,” the U.K. defense ministry spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. “This applies whether the Service Person is on leave or not. Personnel travelling to Ukraine will face disciplinary and administrative consequences.”

The spokesperson noted that the U.K. has incredibly limited consular support in Ukraine and is unlikely to be able to offer assistance to any citizens there. There are many ways people can support Ukraine, including through charitable donations, according to the spokesperson, who acknowledged the strong desire to want to help defend freedom and democracy in Europe.

-ABC News’ Guy Davies

Mar 10, 9:22 am
Harris meets with Polish leaders in Warsaw

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and President President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on Thursday morning, reaffirming the United States’ commitment to Poland and other NATO allies.

During a joint press conference with Morawiecki following their bilateral meeting, Harris thanked the Polish people for inviting “with such courage and generosity the refugees who have fled Ukraine.”

“As we have said from the beginning, if Russia were to take aggressive action, there would be consequences,” Harris added. “And those consequences I believe have been evident but a result of our work together that we have been doing together as a unified force.”

Later Thursday, during another joint press conference, reporters asked Harris and Duda about the U.S. rejecting Poland’s offer to hand over all its MiG-29 fighter jets to an American air base in Germany to boost Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Harris largely dodged the questions on whether the U.S. has an alternative plan for delivering the better air power that Ukraine has requested. She pointed to the $13 billion in funding Congress is in the process of passing to give to Ukraine for humanitarian and security needs, in addition to the ongoing support the U.S. has been delivering.

“I can tell you that the issue facing the Ukrainian people and our allies in Eastern flank is something that occupies one of our highest priorities in terms of paying attention to the needs, understanding it is a dynamic situation, and requires us to be nimble and to be swift,” she said.

While Duda acknowledged that the situation was an “extremely complicated” one, he argued his country was trying to be a “responsible” and “reliable member of NATO” by addressing the requests made to Poland while working with their partner nations.

“We decided to put those jets at the disposal of NATO, not expecting anything in return,” Duda said, “because we stressed very clearly that as a gap filler for the donated equipment, we were able to buy something that we would need as a replacement and we ourselves were ready to provide our equipment free of charge.”

Mar 10, 8:24 am
Over 2.31 million refugees have fled Ukraine: UNHCR

More than 2.31 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine since Russian forces invaded on Feb. 24, according to the latest figures from the United Nations refugee agency.

The tally from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) amounts to just over 5% of Ukraine’s population — which the World Bank counted at 44 million at the end of 2020 — on the move across borders in 15 days.

More than half of the refugees are in neighboring Poland, UNHCR figures show.

Mar 10, 8:19 am
UK sanctions Chelsea FC owner, other Russian oligarchs

The United Kingdom has added Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea Football Club, to its list of sanctioned individuals as part of its response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich was one of seven prominent Russians to be hit with fresh sanctions on Thursday, including travel bans and asset freezes. Igor Sechin, head of Russian state-owned oil firm Rosneft, Alexei Miller, head of Russian state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom, and Oleg Deripaska, who owns part of Russian mining company En+ Group, were also targeted. The measures are worth an estimated 15 billion pounds ($20 billion), according to a press release from the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “there can be no safe havens” for those who support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in neighboring Ukraine.

“Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the U.K.’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people,” Johnson said in a statement Thursday. “We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.”

The move effectively derails Abramovich’s plan to sell his London-based professional soccer team, which he had announced earlier this month. Under the sanctions, Chelsea won’t be able to sell new tickets for matches, including games in the upcoming UEFA Champions League, and the club’s merchandise stores will be closed. Player transfers and new contracts are also banned.

According to the updated list of sanctions targets published by the U.K. Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, Abramovich is allegedly “associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilizing Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” namely Putin, with whom Abramovich allegedly “has had a close relationship for decades.” Abramovich has denied having strong ties to the Russian leader.

“This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia,” the document alleges. “This includes tax breaks received by companies linked to Abramovich, buying and selling shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and the contracts received in the run up to the FIFA 2018 World Cup.”

Mar 10, 7:47 am
Russia, Ukraine fail to reach cease-fire during talks in Turkey

The top diplomats from Russia and Ukraine failed to reach a deal for a cease-fire during talks in Turkey on Thursday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba held separate press conferences after their meeting in the southern Turkish city of Antalya. Kuleba told reporters they were unable to agree on a cease-fire and that Russia was still demanding Ukraine change its constitution to formally give up its ambitions to join the European Union or NATO. He described the meeting with his Russian counterpart as “difficult.”

“We can’t end the war if the country that carried out the aggression is not willing to do so,” Kuleba said. “Today, I heard that the issue of a cease-fire is linked to Putin’s demands. Ukraine has not surrendered and will not surrender.”

“We are ready for diplomacy,” he added. “But while there isn’t one, we will firmly defend ourselves, protecting our people from Russia aggression. I hope that today’s format will continue if Russia is ready for a constructive dialogue.”

Lavrov, however, told reporters that “nobody actually planned to negotiate a cease-fire” during the meeting.

“If the goal of the meeting was to ask these questions, let’s stop firing and let’s arrange humanitarian corridors — not the way Russia has proposed, but the way the Ukrainian side wants this,” Lavrov said. “And if all of this is being done just to tell journalists later that all their good intentions failed, then perhaps this fits the logic of Ukrainian policy and diplomacy of which I’ve spoken: outward effects are designed for the public’s momentary perception and substitute real work.”

Meanwhile, Lavrov continued to blame Ukraine and the West for the crisis. He claimed that Russian forces “did not attack Ukraine” and “do not plan to attack other countries.”

“But we just explained to Ukraine repeatedly that a situation had arisen that posed direct security threats to Russia,” he told reporters. “Despite our years-long reminding, persuasion, calls, no one listened to us.”

He said the agreement on the daily opening of humanitarian corridors in Ukraine “still stands,” but that the evacuation routes and timings are determined by the Russian commanders on the ground. He also made clear that Russia considers the peace talks with Ukraine taking place in neighboring Belarus are the main format for any negotiations. While Moscow hasn’t ruled out direct talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Lavrov said there must first be substantial progress at the meetings between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Belarus. A fourth round of those talks in Belarus is planned, but an exact date and time was unclear.

“We stand for any contacts in regard to the problems, which constitute the core of the current Ukrainian crisis, and the search for a way out of it,” Lavrov told reporters. “These contacts must have an added value, we believe they will never be used … to replace or depreciate the real, principal negotiating track, which is developing in the Belarusian territory at the level of two delegations.”

“Today’s conversation confirms there is no alternative to this track,” he added.

Mar 10, 7:12 am
Ukraine again attempts to evacuate civilians through humanitarian corridors

Ukrainian officials said Thursday they are — once again — trying to evacuate thousands of civilians through humanitarian corridors under temporary cease-fires, if they will hold.

So far, evacuations in some cities are managing to go ahead while others are already failing, as Ukrainian officials accuse Russian forces of blocking or deliberately firing on the routes.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said seven humanitarian corridors — from several besieged cities as well as areas north of Ukraine’s capital — have been agreed upon with Russia for Thursday. The question is whether Russian forces will uphold their end of the deal.

An attempt to evacuate the areas north of Kyiv was underway, with buses trying to reach the towns of Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel and Borodyanka. The Kyiv region’s administration told ABC News that they were able to evacuate 15,000 people — primarily from Irpin and the town of Vorzel — but Russian troops refused to allow access to Bucha, Hostomel or Borodyanka.

Ukrainian officials were also hoping an evacuation would take place Thursday from Mariupol, the hard-hit southeastern port city where the humanitarian situation is arguably the worst, after Russian airstrikes destroyed a children’s hospital and maternity ward there on Wednesday. But Petro Andrushenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, told ABC News that no evacuation can happen Thursday because Russian warplanes have launched multiple airstrikes in the city center since the early morning. At least four aircraft had been spotted and around a dozen bombs had fallen, according to Andrushenko.

He said it was “physically impossible” right now to evacuate people “under bombs and bullets.” Nevertheless, there were reports that buses have set off in an attempt to reach Mariupol.

Russia has made clear that, despite the alleged humanitarian corridors, it is continuing its operation to “liberate” Mariupol.

Meanwhile, thousands of people are independently leaving Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, without a humanitarian corridor because the trains are still running and there are ways out of the besieged city.

Mar 10, 5:49 am
At least four killed by airstrikes in Kharkiv overnight, authorities say

Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was hit with several powerful airstrikes overnight that killed at least four people, local authorities said Thursday.

Russian bombardment have destroyed 280 civilian buildings in Kharkiv, including schools and kindergartens, since Russia began invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the regional interior ministry department in Kharkiv.

Kharkiv has come under heavy attacks as Russian forces try to seize the city.

Mar 10, 4:56 am
Russia says operation to ‘liberate’ Mariupol ongoing

The Russian military alleged Thursday that its forces have managed to capture more of the outer neighborhoods of Mariupol, in southeastern Ukraine, saying the operation to “liberate” the strategic port city is ongoing.

The claim came a day after a Russian airstrike destroyed a children’s hospital and maternity ward in Mariupol, where heavy fighting has been taking place in recent days.

Local authorities in the besieged city have accused Russian forces of waging a “medieval siege” against them.

Mar 10, 4:14 am
Foreign ministers from Russia and Ukraine meet in Turkey

The top diplomats from Russia and Ukraine are meeting now in Antalya, Turkey.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba arrived in the southern Turkish resort on Thursday morning ahead of the meeting — the highest level talks between their two countries since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Both officials first met separately with their Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, upon arrival. Cavusoglu is expected to attend their talks.

Lavrov and Kuleba are expected to talk for about 90 minutes. They will hold separate press conferences afterwards.

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