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Live updates: Euronews channel says it's blocked in Russia; Zelenskyy wants more Russia sanctions

Associated Press Tuesday, 22 March 2022, 07:02 Last update: about 7 months ago

BRUSSELS — International news channel Euronews says it has been blocked from broadcasting in Russia due to its Ukraine war coverage.

“We firmly condemn this intolerable restriction imposed on millions ... in Russia who relied on us to get impartial news,” Euronews said, adding that Russian authorities pulled the channel off air and blocked its websites in Russia.

Euronews said it might launch legal action to continue to freely broadcast in the country. Euronews is broadcast in 160 countries.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has intensified a crackdown on media and individuals who fail to toe his line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter and signing into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of “fake” reports.

Euronews said it strongly rejected Russian claims it spread “fake news” and that it allegedly called on Russians to protest the war. It said it faced an “unacceptable threat of criminal liability” due to the new Russian law.

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ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s foreign minister says he intends to personally escort humanitarian aid into the besieged southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Tuesday he had sent an official request to the Ukrainian side to facilitate the sending of humanitarian aid into the city, and an official request to the Russian side to let the delivery in. A sizeable Greek community lives in the Mariupol area.

Dendias did not provide any details on a possible date for the delivery or what the humanitarian aid would consist of.

He made the announcement after meeting with the Greek consul general in Mariupol, Manolis Androulakis, who arrived in Athens last Sunday after being evacuated from the city on March 15.

Androulakis was the last European Union diplomat to leave the city, which has been pummeled by Russian forces for weeks. Living conditions in the city are dire.

On arriving in Athens, Androulakis said civilians in the city were being hit “blindly and indiscriminately” and likened Mariupol to other cities decimated by war in the past, such as Guernica, Aleppo and Grozny.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s president has compared the conduct of Russian forces in Ukraine to that of Adolf Hitler’s infamous SS troops during World War II.

“Today, the Russian army is behaving in exactly the same way ... as the German SS,” President Andrzej Duda said during a visit to Bulgaria on Tuesday.

Duda, whose country suffered a brutal Nazi occupation during World War II, noted that Russia had already violated international law when it attacked Georgia in 2008 and first invaded Ukraine in 2014.

He said he hoped that those responsible for attacks on civilians in Ukraine would be brought before international courts.

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PARIS — The former Paris-based Europe correspondent for Russian state-controlled broadcaster Channel One says she quit her job earlier this month over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Zhanna Agalakova, who used to be a newsreader at the channel, said she believes Russian networks have been commandeered by the Kremlin to broadcasts lies and propaganda.

The 56-year-old journalist said there is little independent media in Russia, meaning that Russians are being “zombified” by the stream of media-sponsored untruths.

Agalakova quit March 3, leaving the channel officially on March 17.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — A senior Serbian official says Belgrade will never impose sanctions or join the Western “hysteria” against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Tuesday: “Serbia will never be part of the anti-Russian hysteria in which the property of Russian citizens and the property of the Russian Federation is stolen, just as we will not ban Russian media.”

The Balkan country is a staunch ally of Russia, though it has condemned its invasion of Ukraine.

Serbia is seeking membership of the European Union, but it is the only European country that has refused to join international sanctions against the Kremlin.

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin has refused to comment on a top tabloid newspaper’s reporting of Russian military casualties in Ukraine.

The daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Monday that 9,861 soldiers have been killed in action in Ukraine and another 16,153 have been wounded. It cited the Russian defense ministry.

The newspaper quickly removed the article from its website, describing it as the work of hackers.

Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on it at Tuesday’s conference call with reporters, referring questions about the military casualties to the defense ministry.

On March 2, the defense ministry reported 498 soldiers had been killed and hasn’t released any casualty numbers since then.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government has frozen nearly 400 million euros ($440 million) in funds linked to Russians targeted by sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag revealed the latest figures on frozen accounts in a letter to Parliament on Tuesday.

She said that more than 242 million euros ($267 million) in funds linked to Russians have been frozen at Dutch trust companies and nearly 145 million euros ($160 million) in bank accounts.

The remainder of the frozen assets are held at investment companies and pension funds.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s natural resources minister says wildfires have been extinguished in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is under the control of Russian forces.

The fires have raised concern about the possible release of radiation from the plant, where a 1986 explosion and fire sent radioactive emissions across large parts of Europe.

But Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strelets said Tuesday that radiation levels in the area are within the norms.

Ukrainian officials had earlier accused Russian forces of deliberately setting the fires or causing them with artillery shelling.

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PARIS — A group of 20 Ukrainian children with cancer and leukemia has arrived in Paris as part of a rescue plan coordinated by French First Lady Brigitte Macron and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska.

The children are accompanied by their parents as they flee the war with Russia. They arrived at Orly airport near the French capital on Monday evening.

Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper in an interview, Zelenska said “when it became clear that it was impossible to treat children with cancer in the bomb shelters, we immediately sought a solution.”

She said some of the evacuated children will remain in Poland, while others are heading to France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Canada.

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ROME — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging Italy to beef up sanctions against Russia and seize more assets from President Vladimir Putin and his allies as a way of pressuring Moscow into negotiating an end to the war.

Zelenskyy spoke to the Italian parliament Tuesday via video from Kyiv, as he has done with other foreign parliaments. Wearing a collared shirt and speaking through an Italian translator, Zelenskyy told Italian lawmakers that he had just spoken by phone to Pope Francis and that the pontiff had endorsed Ukraine’s right to defend itself.

He said that 117 children have been killed in the war with Russia and that the city of Mariupol has been flattened by the Russian onslaught.

He warned that Europe’s security is at risk if Russia advances and that grain deliveries to the developing world are being jeopardized because Ukraine’s farmers can’t plant crops.

Italian Premier Mario Draghi praised the “heroic” resistance of the Ukrainian people.

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MOSCOW — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has rejected U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning that Russia may be planning a cyberattack against the United States.

Asked about Biden’s comments, Peskov said Tuesday that “the Russian Federation, unlike many Western countries including the United States, does not engage in banditry on the state level.”

Biden told a meeting of corporate CEOs on Monday that “evolving intelligence” indicated a cyberattack may be planned. He urged private companies to invest in their own security to counter cyberattacks.

Biden has suggested a cyberattack could be Russia’s response to economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.

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GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency says more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, passing another milestone in an exodus that has led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.

UNHCR reported Tuesday that 3.53 million people have left Ukraine, with Poland taking in the lion’s share — more than 2.1 million — followed by Romania with more than 540,000 and Moldova with more than 367,000.

Shortly after the invasion on Feb. 24, UNHCR predicted that some 4 million refugees might leave Ukraine, though it has been re-assessing that prediction. The outflows have been slowing in recent days after peaking at more than 200,000 each on two straight days in early March.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that nearly 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, suggesting that some if not most of them might to flee abroad if the war continues.

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ANKARA, Turkey — A second superyacht belonging to Chelsea soccer club owner and sanctioned oligarch Roman Abramovich reportedly has docked in a resort in southwestern Turkey.

Turkey has not imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine last month, nor has it frozen assets belonging to top Russian businessmen linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The private DHA news agency said Tuesday the Bermuda-registered Eclipse docked in the resort of Marmaris.

A day earlier, Abramovich’s Bermuda-flagged luxury yacht My Solaris arrived in the nearby resort of Bodrum, triggering a protest by a group of Ukrainians who boarded a small motorboat and tried to prevent the yacht from docking.

NATO member Turkey has close ties to both Russia and Ukraine. It has criticized Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but has also positioned itself as a neutral party trying to mediate between the two.

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LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says Russian forces have not managed to take over the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol despite weeks of bombardment and days of street fighting.

In an update posted on social media, U.K. officials say that “despite heavy fighting, Ukrainian forces continue to repulse Russian attempts to occupy” the city.

It says Russian forces have made “limited progress” elsewhere in Ukraine in the last day, and remain “largely stalled in place.”

The Ukrainian military said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were still defending Mariupol and destroyed a Russian patrol boat and electronic warfare complex. But the defense ministry said Russia for now controls the land corridor from Crimea, the peninsula it annexed in 2014, and is blocking Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov.

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PARIS — France’s foreign ministry has announced that the country sent 55 metric tons (60 tons) of humanitarian aid to Ukraine via Poland, including computers, medical equipment, baby formula and generators.

The 2.4 million euros ($2.6 million) in emergency aid was sent on an A330 cargo plane from Paris to Warsaw, the Polish capital, France said in a statement late Monday. It said that “in liaison with the Polish authorities, the material will be handed over to the Ukrainian authorities without delay.”

The medical equipment — which weighs some 10 metric tons (11 tons) — is said to include 10 oxygen generators designated for intensive care units in addition to 9 metric tons (10 tons) of medicines.

The aid includes 31 generators, six of which are high-capacity generators “aimed at strengthening the electrical safety of Ukrainian health facilities.”

Eight metric tons (9 tons) of computer and internet access material — such as smartphones, computers, routers and 60 kilometers (37 miles) of optical fiber — was also included in the package.

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TOKYO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to virtually deliver his address to the Japanese parliament on Wednesday to rally international support for his country’s fight against Russian invasion.

Japan, unlike in the past, has been acting tough against Russia, in line with other Group of Seven countries, though Tokyo’s steps have triggered Moscow’s retaliation. A compromise could set a bad precedence in East Asia, where China is increasingly making assertive military actions.

Zelenskyy’s speech, expected to be about 10 minutes, will be shown in a meeting room at the lower house — the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber parliament which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida belongs to. Zelenskyy has made virtual addresses to the U.S. Congress, as well as parliaments in Europe, Canada, and Israel.

Foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, have delivered their addresses in person during visits to Japan as state guests, but an online speech by a foreign leader is unprecedented.

On Monday, Russia announced a decision to discontinue peace treaty talks with Japan over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects there, citing Tokyo’s sanctions against Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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TOKYO — Japan denounced Russia on Tuesday over its decision to discontinue peace treaty talks over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects in retaliation for Tokyo’s sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two countries never signed a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities because of their dispute over the Russian-held islands north of Hokkaido, which Moscow took at the end of the war.

“The latest situation has been all caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Tuesday. He called Russia’s response “extremely unjustifiable and absolutely unacceptable.”

Japan has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia in recent weeks, including freezing some individual assets, banning exports of luxury goods and high-technology equipment to the country and revoking Russia’s most favored nation trade status.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian army said it forced Russian troops out of Makariv, a strategically important Kyiv suburb, after a fierce battle. That prevents Russian forces from encircling the capital from the northwest, the Defense Ministry said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday he was prepared to discuss a commitment from Ukraine not to seek NATO membership in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.

“It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” Zelenskyy said late Monday in an interview with Ukrainian television channels.

He also repeated his call for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unless he meets with Putin, it is impossible to understand whether Russia even wants to stop the war, Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy said that Kyiv will be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces shelled along a humanitarian corridor on Monday, wounding four children who were among the civilians being evacuated, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation. He said the shelling took place in the Zaporizhzhia region, the initial destination of those fleeing Mariupol.

The Ukrainian government said that about 3,000 people from Mariupol were evacuated on Monday.

Zelenskyy said he spoke with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate their positions before Western leaders meet on Thursday.

“Our position will be expressed and will be expressed strongly, believe me,” Zelenskyy said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday he was prepared to discuss a commitment from Ukraine not to seek NATO membership in exchange for a cease-fire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and a guarantee of Ukraine’s security.

“It’s a compromise for everyone: for the West, which doesn’t know what to do with us with regard to NATO, for Ukraine, which wants security guarantees, and for Russia, which doesn’t want further NATO expansion,” Zelenskyy said late Monday in an interview with Ukrainian television channels.

He also repeated his call for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unless he meets with Putin, it is impossible to understand whether Russia even wants to stop the war, Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy said that Kyiv will be ready to discuss the status of Crimea and the eastern Donbas region held by Russian-backed separatists after a cease-fire and steps toward providing security guarantees.

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LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces shelled along a humanitarian corridor on Monday, wounding four children who were among the civilians being evacuated, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nighttime video address to the nation. He said the shelling took place in the Zaporizhzhia region, the initial destination of those fleeing Mariupol.

The Ukrainian government said that about 3,000 people from Mariupol were evacuated on Monday.

Zelenskyy said he spoke with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French President Emmanual Macron to coordinate their positions before Western leaders meet on Thursday.

“Our position will be expressed and will be expressed strongly, believe me,” Zelenskyy said.

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UNITED NATIONS — France and Mexico are pressing U.N. members to mention Russia’s invasion in a resolution on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

But South Africa is arguing against that approach, saying that inserting political issues may block consensus on helping civilians. A French-Mexican draft resolution expected to be voted on this week in the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly makes clear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is responsible for its humanitarian crisis.

A rival South African draft resolution circulated late Monday makes no mention of Russia, referring instead to “all parties.”

Unlike the Security Council, there are no vetoes in the General Assembly. But assembly resolutions are not legally binding, as Security Council resolutions are, though they do have clout in reflecting world opinion.

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TOKYO — Japan on Tuesday denounced Russia over its decision to discontinue peace treaty talks over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects in retaliation for Tokyo’s sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The two countries never signed a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities because of their dispute over the Russian-held islands north of Hokkaido, which Moscow took at the end of the war.

“The latest situation has been all caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Tuesday. He called Russia's response “extremely unjustifiable and absolutely unacceptable.”

Japan has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia in recent weeks, including freezing some individual assets, banning exports of luxury goods and high technology equipment to the country and revoking Russia's most-favored nation trade status.

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday warned U.S. companies that Russia could be preparing to launch cyberattacks against critical infrastructure amid the war in Ukraine.

Biden told the business leaders they have a “patriotic obligation” to harden their systems against such attacks. He said federal assistance is available, should they want it, but that the decision is theirs alone.

Biden said the administration has issued “new warnings that, based on evolving intelligence, Russia may be planning a cyberattack against us. ... The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential, and it’s coming.”

The federal government has warned U.S. companies about Russian state hackers since long before the country invaded Ukraine.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed protesters in an occupied city for their courage in confronting the Russian troops who fired shots to disperse the demonstration.

Russian troops on Monday used stun grenades and fired in the air to break up demonstrators in the southern city of Kherson.

Speaking in a video address, Zelenskyy said that “we saw slaves shooting at free people, slaves of propaganda that replaced their conscience.”

He added that the war has turned ordinary Ukrainians into heroes and “the enemy doesn’t believe it’s all real.”

“There is no need to organize resistance,” Zelenskyy added. “Resistance for Ukrainians is part of their soul.”

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WASHINGTON — The White House said President Joe Biden and the European leaders he spoke with on Monday discussed their concerns about Russia’s tactics in Ukraine, including attacks on civilians, and underscored continued humanitarian and security support for Ukraine.

They also reviewed diplomatic developments in support of Ukraine’s efforts to reach a cease-fire. Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the UK. These leaders will meet again later this week in Brussels.

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WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. defense official says the Russians have increased the number of military aircraft sorties over Ukraine over the past two days, doing as many as 300 in the last 24 hours. The official said Monday that Ukraine has also increased the pace of its military flights, but declined to provide numbers.

Officials have made it clear that Russia has vastly more aircraft, and flies a great deal more than Ukraine does, but that Russia still does not have air superiority over the country yet.

The official said that most of the military flights involve air-to-ground strikes, mainly on stationary targets, and that the Russian aircraft are not spending a lot of time in Ukrainian airspace. The Ukraine military has continued to use its short and long-range air defense systems and drones to target Russian aircraft.

The Russians have also increased naval activity in the northern Black Sea, but there are no indications at this point of an amphibious assault on Odesa. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the military’s assessment.

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BEZIMENNE, Ukraine — A long line of vehicles lined a road in Bezimenne, Ukraine, as residents from the besieged city of Mariupol sought shelter at a temporary camp set up by the rebel Donetsk government.

Many of the cars had pieces of white cloth tied to door handles and carried homemade signs saying “children” in Russian.

Donetsk government officials said about 5,000 Mariupol residents have taken refuge at the camp since the start of the war.

Mariupol authorities have said several thousand people were taken to Russia against their will and that only about 10% of the city’s former population of 430,000 has managed to flee.

A woman named Yulia told The Associated Press that she and her family sought shelter in Bezimenne in eastern Ukraine after a bombing destroyed six houses behind her home.

“That’s why we got in the car, at our own risk, and left in 15 minutes because everything is destroyed there, dead bodies are lying around,” she said.

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WARSAW, Poland – Leaders from Poland and The Netherlands discussed further sanctions on Russia for its war against Ukraine, including banning imports of Russia’s oil and gas and closing European ports to Russian ships.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hosted the Dutch leader Mark Rutte for talks Monday about ways of stopping Russia’s aggression on Ukraine and of helping Ukraine’s fighters and civilians.

“We talked today about a blockade of all European ports to Russian ships and also on all sorts of sanctions, including on oil and gas,” Morawiecki said.

Rutte said Putin has made a “very big mistake” by bringing war again to Europe.

“We will not accept this kind of aggression against a sovereign and democratic nation,” Rutte said.

“And these are not empty words. We are showing we are willing to put out money where our mouth is,” he said.

Morawiecki said they also discussed the gathering of evidence from the refugees of the ”really terrible, cruel crimes” committed during the war in an effort to make sure that the crimes are punished.

More than 2.1 million refugees fleeing the war have come to Poland.

Unlike Poland and The Netherlands, Ukraine is not a member of the European Union. Poland backs giving it candidate status in a fast-track procedure.

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MOSCOW — A Moscow court banned Facebook and Instagram on Monday for what it deemed extremist activity in a case against their parent company, Meta.

The Tverskoy District Court fulfilled a request from prosecutors to outlaw Meta Platforms Inc. and banned Facebook and Instagram for what they called “extremist activities.” The prosecutors have accused the social media platforms of ignoring government requests to remove what they described as fake news about the Russian military action in Ukraine and calls for protests in Russia.

The court’s ruling bans Meta from opening offices and doing business in Russia. Meta declined to comment when contacted by the AP.

Prosecutors haven’t requested to ban the Meta-owned messaging service WhatsApp, which is widely popular in Russia. The authorities also emphasized that they do not intend to punish individual Russians who use Facebook or Instagram.

Instagram and Facebook were already blocked in Russia after the communications and media regulator Roskomnadzor said they were being used to call for violence against Russian soldiers. In addition to blocking Facebook and Instagram, Russian authorities also have shut access to foreign media websites.

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MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Witnesses fleeing the besieged port of Mariupol say they are leaving behind a city that has been almost entirely destroyed by Russian bombardment and heavy fighting.

Maria Fiodorova crossed the border from Ukraine into Medyka, Poland, on Monday after an arduous, five-day journey. The 77-year-old woman told The Associated Press that the city is almost 90 percent destroyed, with every building razed to the ground.

Video captured by The Associated Press shows residents pushing carts and carrying bags of food and supplies along debris-ridden streets and passages. The siege has caused shortages of food, water and energy supplies, according to city officials who say at least 2,300 civilians have been killed thus far in Mariupol.

Residents have fled Mariupol not knowing what, if anything, will be left — if and when they return.

Another Ukrainian woman who made it to the Polish border said she left behind a sister in Mariupol who reported that Russian soldiers there are not allowing anyone to leave.

“She told me that they have already switched to a Russian time zone, that there are lots of Russian soldiers walking around the city. Civilians cannot leave,” Yulia Bondarieva, who fled Kharkiv for Medyka, told the AP. She feared that her sister and family would soon run out of food and water.

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WARSAW, Poland – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says he is encouraging Switzerland to take bolder steps in cutting off Russian oligarchs who support Russian leaders from the billions of U.S. dollars they have in Swiss banks or in business there.

Morawiecki spoke Monday at a joint news conference with visiting Swiss President Ignazio Cassis. They held talks about the situation in Ukraine, which was invaded by Russian troops Feb. 24. Morawiecki noted that Russia’s richest businessmen have deposited billions of U.S. dollars in Swiss banks, were doing business there and had other assets.

He said the assets could be used to help Ukraine rebuild from the war’s destruction.

Cassis noted that Switzerland has joined the European Union’s sanctions on Russia and has also has frozen the bank accounts and business of Russian oligarchs who are on the EU sanctions lists and also of some others.

Poland’s government is working on amendments to the constitution that would allow for the seizure of Russia’s assets in Poland.

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BERLIN — Germany’s Buchenwald concentration camp memorial says Boris Romanchenko, who survived camps at Buchenwald, Peenemuende, Dora and Bergen-Belsen during World War II, was killed Friday when his home in Kharkiv was attacked.

The memorial cited relatives in a series of tweets on Monday. It said his granddaughter said that he lived in a multistory building that was hit by a projectile. Romanchenko was vice president of the International Buchenwald-Dora Committee.

Romanchenko was 96, German news agency dpa reported.

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