Daily: 23/02/2022

Херсон вийшов на віче проти «русской весни» – фото

Люди в Херсоні співали гімн України, закликали об’єднуватися

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As West Ratchets Up Economic Pain on Moscow, Will Unity Hold?

Europe is facing calls to impose immediate tougher sanctions on Russia following President Vladimir Putin’s recognition of the separatist-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and his pledge to send in what the Kremlin called “peacekeeping” troops.

“We are anticipating further steps on strengthening sanction pressure,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters Wednesday. “It’s important that Germany decided to halt the certification of the Nord Stream 2. It should be irreversible.”

Nord Stream 2

Berlin announced Tuesday it had officially halted the certification process for Nord Stream 2, the newly built gas pipeline that was designed to take Russian gas directly to Germany. The German move was part of a raft of sanctions announced by Western allies in response to Russia’s actions.

All 27 European Union member states agreed on a range of measures targeting Russian individuals and institutions.

EU sanctions

“We have agreed that the 351 members of the Russia State Duma who voted [for] this violation of international law and territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine will be listed in our sanctions list. We agreed to target 27 individuals and entities who are playing a role in undermining or threatening Ukrainian territorial integrity, sovereignty and independency,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Tuesday.

“And last, but not least, because this is very important, we target the ability of the Russian state and government to access our capital and financial market on services. … This packet of sanctions that has been approved by unanimity by the member states will hurt Russia and it will hurt a lot. And we are doing that in a strong coordination with our partners U.S., UK and Canada,” Borrell told reporters in Paris.

The European sanctions are similar to those imposed by Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States.

“Putin’s actions have really reinforced transatlantic unity. European allies and the United States have been in close coordination, and they seem to be ready to match every move of Putin,” said Sudha David-Wilp, of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in an interview with VOA.

Russian banks

Britain announced sanctions on five Russian banks, which it said included those favored by oligarchs close to the Kremlin: Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank. Britain also imposed asset freezes and travel bans on three Russian billionaires whom it said had supported the invasion of Ukraine: Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg.

“We have more individuals that we will target in the event of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and we’ll be targeting them in conjunction with our international allies like the Europeans and like the United States to make sure that these people can’t travel, that their assets are frozen and that they will have nowhere to hide,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News Wednesday.

Many British lawmakers say the sanctions don’t go far enough. Speaking during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions in parliament Wednesday, opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starmer urged the government to go further. “We all want to deter aggression in Europe. We are not dealing with breakaway republics. Putin is not a peacekeeper. A sovereign nation has been invaded. The prime minister promised that in the event of an invasion he would unleash a full package of sanctions. If not now, then when?” Starmer said.

Long game

It’s important that the West holds some sanctions in reserve, says analyst Sudha David-Wilp of the German Marshall Fund.

“It’s important that the West not put everything out on the table; an element of surprise is also important. This is probably going to be a long conflict and it’s important for the West to be measured and proportionate.”

Russia has long been preparing for this moment, says analyst Amanda Paul of the European Policy Center in Brussels.

“In the last eight years, Russia has done a lot of things to move itself away from its dependency on Western finance and investments. … They have a huge wealth fund of over $600 billion in gold and foreign currency. They do have the ability to keep going for some time despite the pain. So, it means that the West will need to be very committed and very determined to keep pushing and pushing, even though for sure it’s going to cost them painful, painful moments too,” Paul told The Associated Press.

Russian gas threat

Germany’s decision to effectively cancel the gas pipeline elicited a testy response from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. “German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has issued an order to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Well. Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay €2,000 for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas!,” Medevdev wrote on Twitter.

Germany has other options, according to energy analyst Claudia Kemfert of the German Institute for Economic Research, in a recent interview with VOA.

“Germany does not need Nord Stream 2. We have enough infrastructure; we have enough pipelines where we can transport and import natural gas to Germany and we can also rely on natural gas, LNG imports from other countries,” Kemfert said.

Western unity

So far, the Western response has been remarkably united – but that may become more strained, according to Nora Müller of the Körber Foundation, a foreign policy research institution in Berlin.

“The more you ratchet up the sanctions regime, the more painful it also is not only for the one who is sanctioned, but also for the one who imposes the sanctions; that’s the logic of sanctions. So, when we talk about targeting the sanctions at the Russian energy market, obviously that will be very painful for EU member states,” Müller told VOA.

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US Lawmakers: Russia Incursion Into Ukraine Is Assault on Democracy 

Top U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s incursion into the occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine an assault on democracy.

“It’s stunning to see – in this day and age – a tyrant rolling into a country. This is the same tyrant who attacked our democracy in 2016,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a press conference, recalling Putin’s interference in U.S. elections.

Pelosi and other top Democrats returning from participation in the Munich Security Conference this week praised President Joe Biden for working with European allies to maintain a united front in deterring Russia.

“The decision to essentially cancel the process of moving forward with the [Nord Stream 2] pipeline, I think, is a very strong indication of the solidarity of NATO and our other allies to punish Putin for this naked aggression and the prospect of further devastating sanctions,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters of the decision to cancel certification of the key pipeline delivering Russian gas to Europe.

Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. also would sanction Russian officials and banks in response to Putin’s speech claiming Donetsk and Luhansk were independent of Ukraine. The White House is expected to announce additional sanctions this week.

Sequence of sanctions

Despite significant bipartisan unity for deterring Russian aggression in Ukraine, Democrats and Republicans have struggled to agree on how to sequence sanctions to discourage and penalize Putin for incursions into the independent eastern European nation.

An estimated 150,000 Russian troops have massed at the border with Ukraine in recent weeks. Putin’s claim that Donetsk and Luhansk were no longer a part of Ukraine opened the door for so-called Russian “peacekeeping” troops to go into those areas. The U.S. and its allies called this mission a false-flag operation to allow further incursion into Ukraine.

Congressional Republicans have criticized the White House’s approach to the crisis, calling the Russian leader’s move an invasion and accusing the Biden administration of waiting until it is too late to deter Putin.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the first round of sanctions was “too little, too late. First, these sanctions should have happened before Putin further invaded Ukraine — not after. Second, economic sanctions now need to more aggressively target Putin’s oligarchs to make sure they feel real pain. Third, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that today’s incremental sanctions will deter Putin from trying to install a puppet government in Kyiv.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Capitol Hill ally of former President Donald Trump, had a direct message for Biden late Tuesday: “You said a couple years ago that Putin did not want you to win because you’re the only person that could go toe-to-toe with him. Well, right now, Mr. President, you’re playing footsie with Putin. He’s walking all over you and our allies.”

Working with allies

Democrats praised Biden, though, for working in concert with European allies and avoiding escalating the crisis.

“I think the administration handled this, given the Russian intentions, as well as it could be handled,” Schiff told reporters Wednesday. “They telegraphed in advance the punitive sanctions that would be applied if Russia invaded. I think it makes sense not to enforce those sanctions before Russia invaded. If you do that, then Russia loses its disincentive and figures, ‘Well, we’ve already been sanctioned. We might as well move forward with it.’ ”

Small minorities within both the Republican and Democratic parties have cautioned against escalating tensions with Putin.

“While we work in coordination with our European allies to respond and impose targeted sanctions, we must continue to do all we can to de-escalate and utilize the full power of diplomacy to find a negotiated solution to this crisis,” Democratic Representative Barbara Lee – the only member of Congress to vote against authorizing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – said in a statement Wednesday.

“I am confident in President Biden’s repeated commitment to keep U.S. military personnel out of any conflict in Ukraine itself,” Lee continued.

Several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have expressed concern the U.S. could become mired in a ground war in Ukraine, despite Biden’s repeated statements that the U.S. would not commit troops to the conflict.

Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Bob Risch, the top-ranking Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have separately introduced sanctions bills that would end Russian access to international banking transactions, provide hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, and cut off funding for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Congress is in recess this week and will be back in session at the end of the month.

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ЄС оголосив санкції проти Росії: у списку 351 депутат Держдуми, ще 27 посадовців і організацій

Відповідні нормативно-правові акти, включаючи імена осіб, проти яких запроваджені санкції, будуть опубліковані найближчим часом в Офіційному журналі

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У Мінцифри повідомили про чергову масову DDoS-атаку на урядові сайти

«Маємо відповідні дані з низки банків, також спостерігаються проблеми із доступом до вебсайтів ВР (вже працює), КМУ і МЗС»

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Посли ЄС продовжили санкції проти Януковича і шести його соратників

Як повідомив кореспондент Радіо Свобода, для чотирьох із них, зокрема для Януковича і його сина Олександра, санкції продовжили на шість місяців, для трьох – як і раніше, на 12 місяців

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Британія надасть Україні додатковий пакет військової допомоги – Джонсон

Раніше МЗС Британії заявило, що країна готова допомогти Україні «пережити шторм російської агресії» за допомогою кредитних гарантій на суму до 500 мільйонів доларів

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Zelenskyy Under Pressure to Mobilize Ukrainians, Start Serious Defense Planning  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called up army reservists and ordered military exercises for volunteers in newly created territorial defense brigades, but senior opposition lawmakers and former ministers fear the country is ill-prepared for war with Russia — despite their pleas to the government to get organized.

With credible reports mounting of more Russian forces crossing into Moscow’s breakaway republics in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, a clamor is building from opposition parties in the Verkhovna Rada, the country’s parliament, for much more intensive war-planning. They are demanding the government start in earnest to draft civil defense orders and to mobilize Ukrainians.

Zelenskyy, in a televised address February 22, said Russia’s threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty has compelled him to recall reservists to active duty, but he has urged civilians to go about their normal lives and he has turned his back on mobilizing civilians and to allocate civil defense and emergency roles.

In his short speech overnight Monday, he said: “Regarding security and defense. Today there is no need for general mobilization. We need to promptly replenish the Ukrainian army and other military formations.”

Zelenskyy has been saying for weeks that Ukrainians should remain calm, and he publicly upbraided earlier this month US politicians for warning of an imminent invasion — saying it was damaging Ukraine’s economy and risked panicking Ukrainians unduly. He is being restrained in defense planning for the same reason, political allies told VOA.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, a former deputy prime minister in the government of Zelenskyy’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko and now a lawmaker, complains Zelenskyy has been much too slow to prepare Ukraine for an existential war. She harbors no doubts that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is methodically uncoiling his forces on her country’s borders — and that serious defense planning should have been under way long before now.

For months she and some other opposition lawmakers have been trying to get additional funding for Ukraine’s armed forces, but the legislation has languished in the Verkhovna Rada. The extra funding has only just been included for consideration.

State of emergency

“I really hope that finally today [Wednesday] we will take the decision in the Parliament on allocating additional money to the armed forces of Ukraine in order to both raise salaries for the officers and soldiers but also to be able to buy more weaponry,” she told VOA. She says Zelenskyy should be asking the United States for a Lend-Lease program, modeled on the one Franklin D. Roosevelt set up in World War II, which enabled the US to supply Britain, Russia, and Free France with food, oil and military equipment.

On Wednesday the country’s defense and security council asked Zelenskyy to declare a state of emergency and Zelenskyy has agreed to do so. But he is also being urged by lawmakers to announce martial law in Donbas, something his aides say would be spun by Moscow as provocative.

Klympush-Tsintsadze and other lawmakers are alarmed at the absence of serious civil defense and emergency planning. “We are pushing the government to ensure we have strategic resources available — energy, food, water and medical supplies. We also need to know how many medical professionals we have capable of treating war injuries,” she says.

Asked why she thinks there has been little detailed planning for a bigger war going far beyond eastern Ukraine, she fumes: “I think it’s because for three years, Zelenskyy has been hoping that his special charm will soothe Putin. He seems to think that in order to stop the war all we have to do is stop shooting. And obviously that has proven wrong. There has been a lack of professionalism.”

She says she is being inundated by friends, acquaintances and constituents asking what they can do in a national effort to defend Ukraine, but there is no guidance from the government. Only on Monday did Zelenskyy meet leaders of all the parliamentary factions and parties — the first time he has done so in the three years he has been in office, she complains.

Other prominent lawmakers are anxious about Ukraine’s preparedness for war, although they all believe that Moscow is seriously underestimating the fighting spirit of Ukrainians. They say the international media is too focused on stories about individual Ukrainians displaying fortitude and expressing defiance, but the nuts-and-bolts of fighting a war will be crucial and the media should be asking questions of the government about defense planning.

Opposition discontent

Lesia Vasylenko, one of 20 parliamentarians from Holos (Voice), a liberal and pro-European political party judges that Putin’s speech on Monday amounts to a “declaration of war,” or rather an intention to wage a bigger war, a continuation of aggression against Ukraine that goes back to 2014 when Russia annexed forcibly Crimea and shaped the creation of what she sees as “make-believe” republics in eastern Ukraine.

But she isn’t happy with Zelenskyy’s performance. She says he should have given his response to Putin’s speech not in the early hours of the morning and on television “but in parliament, on the podium, addressing lawmakers, the representatives of the Ukrainian people.”

She told VOA: “It would have had immense impact and meaning to the people of Ukraine and could have raised morale and sent a much more powerful message to Putin.” But she is also frustrated by the lack of preparedness and thinks Zelenskyy thinks only one step ahead, unlike Putin who is thinking four or five moves ahead.

Zelenskyy, a 44-year-old former television star and political novice, has been determined to keep his nerve and to try to cool tensions, say allies.

An informal adviser to Ukraine’s leader said he “also wants to avoid doing anything Moscow could claim is provocative and war-like.” He added: “We need to pace ourselves.” He spoke on condition he not be identified in this article.

Vasylenko adds: “Ukraine is trapped with a national leader who does not think strategically because he doesn’t have the people around him who think strategically. I think that’s the thing that he will be blamed for later. It’s not about knowing everything. It’s about refusing to have in your entourage experts who know what questions to ask and having advisers who can contradict and challenge you. He picked close friends and trusted allies with little technical or government experience over real experts, and we may pay a price for that.”

She and other opposition lawmakers say they have for weeks pleaded with ministers to draw up strategic civil defense plans. Vasylenko has been at the forefront clamoring for details on what energy and food reserves the country has readied but she hasn’t been able to secure answers.

On Friday, some key committees have an oversight hearing with the cabinet of ministers and will be pressing again for details. “But to be honest, I’m very skeptical we will get any answers, because every time we make specific requests for information from ministries or regional departments, we get nothing — they just don’t have any information,” she says.

Some lawmakers who attended last week’s Munich Security Conference say they were disappointed when some European politicians told them Ukraine should be readying to form a government in exile. The suggestions dovetail with unconfirmed reports that U.S. officials have raised with Zelenskyy the idea of relocating from Kyiv to Lviv in western Ukraine near the Polish border — to where the U.S. and some other Western powers have moved their ambassadors.

Klympush-Tsintsadze says when the idea was raised with her at Munich that plans should be drawn up for a government-in-exile, she responded with disgust. “We are not going anywhere,” she says. “People were very disappointed when Western military instructors were withdrawn from Ukraine and when the embassies were relocated. It did not play well with Ukrainians.”

She adds: “I was mad yesterday when a TV journalist from a foreign broadcaster asked me why we would fight back and try to withstand an attack from Russia, which has one of the biggest armies in the World. I reacted emotionally. If my services as a lawmaker are not needed, at that point I will either get a weapon or do something useful and bandage the wounded, I know how to do that.”

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US Announces Steps to Bolster Critical Mineral Supply Chain US China Materials

The Biden administration announced on Tuesday actions taken by the federal government and private industry that it says will bolster the supply chain of rare earths and other critical minerals used in technologies from household appliances and electronics to defense systems. They say these steps will reduce the nation’s dependence on China, a major producer of these elements. White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara has this report.

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Russia Extends Drills in Belarus – What Does It Mean?

With Russia announcing it will continue its military drills with Belarus, many observers believe it is just another step by Moscow to prepare for a wider invasion of Ukraine. Russia had originally said the drills would end on February 20 – as Maxim Moskalkov reports.

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Британія заявила про готовність надати Україні кредитні гарантії на суму до 500 млн дол

Трасс: «Ці гарантії можуть допомогти влити життєво важливий капітал в Україну і допомогти її економіці витримати шторм російської агресії»

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МЗС Китаю: Тайвань – «не Україна»

Речниця МЗС Китаю Хуа Чуньїн відкинула будь-який зв’язок між питаннями України та Тайваню

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Львівська міськрада на позачерговій сесії засудила дії Кремля

Обранці закликали міжнародних партнерів України невідкладно застосувати ефективні й жорсткі санкції щодо країни-агресора та її представників

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Росія оголосила евакуацію своїх дипломатів з України

Президент Володимир Зеленський напередодні повідомив, що отримав запит від МЗС про розірвання дипломатичних відносин із Росією

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Greek Authorities Suspend Search for 10 Missing in Ferry Fire

Greek authorities have suspended the search for 10 people missing in a ferry fire near Greece. The vessel is being towed to a mainland port five days after the blaze started.  

The Euroferry Olympia caught fire last Friday three hours after leaving Igoumenitsa, Greece, for Brindisi, Italy. The ferry was carrying 292 people. Only 278 were evacuated safely to shore. 

Ten people remain unaccounted for. Greek officials said they were thought to be truck drivers from Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, BBC News reported. 

Greek authorities requested Tuesday that the ferry be towed from a spot off the Island of Corfu, where it was originally towed after the blaze, to a safe harbor on mainland Greece. Rescuers will continue operations once the ferry arrives at the mainland.  

Greece’s fire service said Tuesday that “its operational capability for search and rescue (on the ship), in its present position, has been exhausted,” according to a coast guard statement, The Associated Press reported. 

The ferry is expected to arrive midday in the harbor of Astakos, a small port town in western Greece. Relatives of the missing will be provided with housing in Astakos as the search resumes.  

The ferry had been towed Sunday to Corfu, in the Ionian Sea off Greece’s northwest coast. Dozens of fire survivors were taken to a hotel on the island. Extreme temperatures, darkness and smoke made it difficult to search the vessel, said Greek coast guard spokesperson Nikolaos Alexiou, according to The New York Times. 

Earlier Sunday, a 21-year-old truck driver from Belarus was found alive at the stern of the ferry.  

“Tell me I’m alive,” he shouted as rescuers helped him off the ferry, BBC News reported.  

Hours later, a fire crew found the body of a 58-year-old Greek truck driver, the first confirmed death.  

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The company that operates the ferry said the fire had begun in a hold where vehicles were parked, AP reported. Truckers interviewed by Greek state TV said Saturday that some truck drivers might have chosen to sleep in their vehicles rather than in the ferry’s crowded cabins.  

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press. 

 

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Помер американський рок-музикант Марк Ланеган

Причина смерті невідома музиканта невідома

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Reporter’s Notebook: The 56 Minutes That Shook Ukraine 

Monday nights in any city — even the liveliest — can be quiet, but on this Monday evening, Kyiv was noticeably more subdued than usual. The roads were emptier, there were fewer pedestrians about, and the bars and restaurants were pretty much abandoned. 

It was as if the season finale of a popular reality TV show was being broadcast. In a sense, an episode of reality TV was playing, but it wasn’t clear if this was a finale or the opening of an especially dark new season. 

Reports from Russia had been circulating from late afternoon that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, would be making a big announcement. 

And when it came — all 56 minutes of it — people were left open-mouthed and afraid about what it might presage. They had half-expected he would recognize the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine that Moscow had fashioned eight years ago in the wake of the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine’s president in a popular uprising that infuriated Putin. 

But the bellicosity of the speech; the depth of hostility to the West, as Ukrainians saw it; and what they say was a fanciful narrative about the history of Ukraine left them reeling. 

“I was surprised, but maybe it was to be expected,” 27-year-old makeup artist Aleksandra told me as I interrupted her conversation with her friend Katya, 36, a singer, near Kyiv’s Independence Square, or Maidan. 

“We all started phoning each other, all my friends and family, and some people said his speech means a much bigger war, not just in eastern Ukraine,” she said. “Some people talked about packing their bags and leaving, but we calmed them down.” 

Aleksandra and her husband have talked about what they should do if war creeps nearer. 

“We have discussed two options,” she told me. “Leaving Kyiv for my parents’ village in northwestern Ukraine near Poland. Or maybe we will stay here and be useful — people will need free hands to help.”  

But, she added, “I did think as I listened to Putin, how does one get a gun?” 

That thought has occurred to others. And Ukrainians, who have guns for sport, hunting or self-protection, have been stocking up on ammunition, said Andriy, who works at a gun store in the affluent historic neighborhood of Podil, which overlooks the Dnieper River. 

His store, Armelit, advertises itself as a hunting boutique and stocks some expensive high-end weapons, including vintage British double-barreled shotguns of the type wielded by aristocrats on the historical TV drama “Downton Abbey.” His store was low on ammunition, he said, and he had heard others had none and were scrambling to buy more. 

The buying spree started several weeks ago, when U.S. leaders started to issue ever more dire warnings about the imminence of war. 

“People are buying guns and ammunition for self-protection, national defense and because they worry about looting,” he said. He reels off a list of the most popular calibers of ammunition: .233, 5.56, 7.62. He proudly hands me an English double-barreled shotgun made in 1909 and valued at $20,000. He nods approvingly when I check that the barrels are clear of cartridges. 

Outside in Kontraktova Square, two young boys clamber over a statue of a Cossack. The square is full of people sitting on benches and talking or reading alone. I fall in with two widows, both dressed in red quilt coats, both silver haired.  

“We don’t want war,” 75-year-old Halyna said. She was born in Moscow and married a Russian army officer. Her face livens when she tells me how they traveled before settling in Kyiv. 

“What happens to us doesn’t matter; we have lived our lives,” she said. “But the young — our sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters — are who I worry about. We will give them to Ukraine to help the country, but I worry about them.” 

Then she looks me directly in the eye and says: “What’s happening is a big state is bullying a small state; Russia is an elephant, and we are a rabbit. I have friends all over the world — in Russia, America, Israel and Europe. I like everyone. There’s no need for this.” 

Nearby 20-year-old Myroslava is reading a book. She’s a business student and has just got an internship in a company. Her reaction to Putin’s speech was firm. 

“Yes, unfortunately I saw it,” she said. “I didn’t appreciate his thoughts, and he was telling Russians what they should think.”  

She says that Ukraine has been at war for eight years and she is not afraid.  

“Ukraine has a strong army, and we can protect ourselves, and other countries are supporting us. I just have to believe that,” she said. Her parents have asked her what she intends to do. Will she come home? They would prefer that. But for now, she will remain in Kyiv. 

Later I have drinks with Lesia Vasylenko, 34, a mother and lawmaker. She’s one of 20 parliamentarians from Holos (Voice), a liberal and pro-European political party. She says everyone feels as though they are in limbo. 

“It is a crazy time,” she said. “We are certainly living in a period which will be in the history books, and we are the people who are witnessing and making history, each one of us separately.” 

She judges Putin’s speech as a “declaration of war” or an intention to wage a bigger war, a continuation of aggression against Ukraine that goes back to 2014, when Russia forcibly annexed Crimea and shaped the creation of what she sees as “make-believe” republics in eastern Ukraine. 

She isn’t happy with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who she says should have given his response to Putin not in the early hours of the morning and on television “but in parliament, on the podium, addressing lawmakers, the representatives of the Ukrainian people, and not a short speech saying I have had so many calls with international leaders.” 

“It would have had immense impact and meaning to the people of Ukraine and could have raised morale and sent a much more powerful message to Putin,” she added. 

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Standoff Ends at Amsterdam Apple Store; Hostage Safe

An hourslong hostage standoff at the Apple Store in Amsterdam ended late Tuesday with police in a car driving into the hostage taker as he ran from the store. His hostage was safe, police said. 

“We can confirm that the hostage taker is out of the Apple Store,” police said in a tweet. “He is lying on the street and a robot is checking him for explosives. Armed police officers have him under control from a distance. The hostage is safe.” 

Police then said that the man did not have explosives and that medical staff were attending to him. There was no word on his condition. 

The motive for the incident was not immediately clear. Local broadcaster AT5 suggested the standoff was the result of an attempted armed robbery. AT5 said witnesses reported hearing shots fired. 

Dozens of police, including heavily armed specialist arrest teams, massed around the store, cleared and sealed off the nearby Leidseplein square and urged people living there or in shops or cafes nearby to remain indoors. The square ringed by bars and restaurants is close to one of the Dutch capital’s main shopping streets.  

Police said dozens of people managed to leave the building during the standoff but declined to give more details about the situation in the popular store. 

As police lines were set up to keep people away from the store, a helicopter could be heard hovering overhead. The police asked people not to publish images or livestream the hostage situation “for the safety of the people involved and our deployment.”  

Earlier, video posted on social media appeared to show an armed person in the store, apparently holding somebody else. It was not clear how many people were in the store. 

A spokesman for Apple in the Netherlands did not respond to requests seeking comment. 

 

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Зеленський заявив про мобілізацію резервістів та «програму економічного патріотизму»

«Йдеться винятково про громадян, зарахованих до оперативного резерву», підкреслив президент

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