US urges Americans to leave Russia; Putin warns against no-fly zone

Airbnb guests are booking rooms in Ukraine to help hosts in need

Airbnb has accepted nearly $2 million in bookings in Ukraine from customers who have no plans to stay at the locations but who want to raise funds for hosts in need.

CEO Brian Chesky announced Friday afternoon on Twitter that 61,406 nights have been booked in Ukraine from March 2 to March 3. The company said in a blog post that more than 34,000 of those bookings were made by U.S. guests. The company removed listings in the Donbas region.

The company also said it’s waiving service fees on bookings in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian bookings are a grassroots movement. It comes after Airbnb announced a handful of measures it’s taking to support Ukrainians after Russian troops began an invasion of the country.

The company earlier this week said it would suspend operations in Russia and Belarus. It’s also providing free short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

IMF expects to approve Ukraine’s $1.4 billion aid request as early as next week

A dog stands between destroyed Russian armored vehicles in the city of Bucha, west of Kyiv, on March 4, 2022.

Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund said it expects to bring Ukraine’s $1.4 billion emergency financing request to the board for approval as early as next week.

The global agency said in a press release that the war in Ukraine has already driven up wheat and grain prices, pushed more than 1 million refugees to flee and triggered sanctions on Russia that “will also have a substantial impact on the global economy and financial markets.”

In addition to the human toll in Ukraine, the IMF called the economic damage “substantial.” Seaports and airports are closed and damaged, while roads and bridges have been damaged or destroyed.

“While it is very difficult to assess financing needs precisely at this stage, it is already clear that Ukraine will face significant recovery and reconstruction costs,” the agency said.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia

Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages that arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid Russian attacks on March 5, 2022.

Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid Russian attacks on March 5, 2022.

Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Volunteers and team members carry humanitarian aid packages arrived from Lviv, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine amid Russian attacks on March 5, 2022.

Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

UN nuclear agency says radiation levels at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remain normal

A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a fire following clashes around the site in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 4, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it has spoken with Ukrainian leadership, and has been told that the country’s regulators are in contact with staff at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Two out of six reactors at the plant are now operating, the United Nations’ IAEA said. Technical safety systems are intact and radiation levels remain normal at the Zaporizhzhia plant, the agency added.

Russian military forces on Friday took control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, after a night of intense shelling that set a building on fire at the complex. The attack prompted widespread criticism, including from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, which called the assault a war crime.

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency previously confirmed there had been no release of radioactive material at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after the attack.

— Annie Palmer

Zelenskyy asks U.S. lawmakers to impose no-fly zone in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gestures during his press conference in Kyiv on March 3, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy asked U.S. lawmakers in a Zoom call to impose a no-fly zone in his nation, ban Russian oil imports, and impose sanctions that would cut Russia off from using Visa and Mastercard, according to NBC News.

Zelenskyy’s plea for action, described by multiple sources on the call to NBC News, came during a bipartisan Zoom meeting with more than 300 lawmakers and staff.

If establishing a no-fly zone wasn’t possible, Zelenskyy asked for at least a ban on Russian-made aircraft.

Ukrainian officials and citizens have been calling on global leaders to take tougher steps against Russia following its invasion of the country.

Zelenskyy has been pressuring NATO to implement a no-fly zone, which would likely mark a major escalation in the war. The organization denied the request.

Earlier Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would consider any third-party declaration of Ukraine as a no-fly zone as the “participation of that country in the military action.”

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Remains of Russian fighter aircraft in Chernihiv

Remains of the Russian fighter aircraft are seen in a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 

Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters

Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 

Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters

Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Chernihiv, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 5, 2022. 

Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine via Reuters

WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner reportedly detained in Russia

Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury is defended by Azurá Stevens #30 of the Chicago Sky during the first half of Game Four of the WNBA Finals at Wintrust Arena on October 17, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois.

Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Russian officials have detained WNBA All-Star and Olympic champion Brittney Griner at an airport after they allegedly found hashish oil among her possessions, according to the New York Times.

The Russian Federal Customs Service took Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury, into custody at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow, the Times reported, citing a statement from the Customs Service.

“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing legal matter, we are not able to comment further on the specifics of her case but can confirm that as we work to get her home, her mental and physical health remain our primary concern.”

USA Basketball said in a tweet that it is monitoring the situation.

“Brittney has always handled herself with the utmost professionalism during her long tenure with USA Basketball and her safety and wellbeing are our primary concerns,” USA Basketball said.

The Women’s National Basketball Players Association said in a tweet that it was aware of the situation.

— Annie Palmer

State Department urges Americans to depart Russia immediately

Police officers seen in Red Square during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Alexander Shcherbak | TASS | Getty Images

The State Department urged all U.S. citizens in Russia to leave immediately citing potential harassment of Americans by Russian security officials as tensions soar over the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

The State Department said in a level four travel advisory, the highest security alert in the U.S. travel system, that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has limited ability to assist American citizens in Russia.

“U.S. citizens residing or traveling in Russia should depart immediately.  Limited commercial flight options are still available. Overland routes by car and bus are also still open. If you wish to depart Russia, you should make arrangements on your own as soon as possible,” the travel advisory read.

The State Department also warned that Americans in Russia should be aware that some credit and debit cards may be declined as a result of sanctions imposed on Russian banks. 

“Also, there are some reports of cash shortages within Russia. U.S. citizens should make an alternative plan for access to money and finances if remaining in Russia,” the advisory added.

 — Amanda Macias

Russian airstrike kills 6 in Markhalivka

Regional police said six people died, including a child, and four were wounded in a Russian airstrike on this village southwest of Kyiv. Russia is continuing its assault on Ukraine’s major cities a week after launching a large-scale invasion of the country.

Neighbors and relatives help remove the rubble of a house destroyed with shelling on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.

Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images

Kateryna Ralchuk, the niece of Ihor Mazhayev who’s house was shelled, helps to remove the rubble after the shelling on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.

Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images

A view to a burned car as a result of a shelling on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.

Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images

Local resident looks at a shelled area on March 5, 2022 in Markhalivka, Ukraine.

Anastasia Vlasova | Getty Images

Putin considers any third party to declare Ukrainian no-fly zone as a participant in the conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates women on the upcoming International Women’s Day as he meets with flight personnel, students and employees of the Aeroflot Aviation School in the suburbs of Moscow. March 5, 2022.

Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Reuters

Moscow will consider any third-party declaration of Ukraine as a no-fly zone as the “participation of that country in the military action,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an Aeroflot training center.

“It doesn’t matter what, what members of what alliances they are,” Putin said. The statements were recorded by The Associated Press under new government restrictions imposed on the media in Russia.

Putin’s comments come as Ukrainian officials repeatedly call on NATO to establish a no-fly zone over the Eastern European nation. Implementation of such a zone would likely mean the alliance would be required to shoot down Russian aircraft over Ukraine, marking a major escalation.

NATO on Friday denied the request, a move that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said gave Russia the “green light” for continuing its bombing campaign.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Aeroflot halts international flights, barring Belarus

Russian Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft as seen on final approach flying and landing on the runway at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with the terminal and the control tower visible, after arriving from Moscow.

Nicolas Economou | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russian state-owned airline Aeroflot will stop all international flights except to Belarus starting March 8, The Associated Press reported.

Aeroflot, in a statement given to AP, cited “circumstances that hinder operating flights” as a reason for the cancellations.

The company will cancel return tickets for passengers who are scheduled to depart Russia after March 6 and return after March 8, the outlet said. Customers with one-way tickets can fly up until the March 8 deadline.

The cancellation will also apply to its subsidiaries Aurora and Rossiya, The New York Times reported.

— Jessica Bursztynsky

Blinken speaks with Chinese foreign minister Wang as U.S. sanctions against Russia sink in

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a joint press conference with French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Beijing, China on September 13, 2018.

Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, a call that follows multiple rounds of coordinated sanctions against Russia for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.

During the call, Blinken “noted the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty,” according to a readout of the call.

A senior Biden administration official told reporters last week that China, the world’s second-largest economy, has given no indication it would financially assist Russia amid punishing sanctions.

“China’s not coming to the rescue,” the official said. “China is actually restricting some of its banks to provide credit to facilitate energy purchases from Russia, which suggests that much like has been the pattern for years and years, China has tended to respect the force of U.S. sanctions,” the person added.

 — Amanda Macias

Refugees take shelter in Poland

Ukrainian refugees inside a facility by the Hrubieszow border in Poland. Over one million refugees have already fled Ukraine in the past eight days as Russia continues to bombard Ukraine.

Ukrainian refugees taking shelter at a facility near the Hrubieszow border in Poland on March 4th, 2022.

Photo: Anna Han

Ukrainian refugees taking shelter at a facility near the Hrubieszow border in Poland on March 4th, 2022.

Photo: Anna Han

Ukrainian refugees taking shelter at a facility near the Hrubieszow border in Poland on March 4th, 2022.

Photo: Anna Han

Blinken says U.S. is supporting Poland as it receives Ukrainian refugees

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau give a press statement on March 5, 2022 in Rzeszow, Poland.

Omar Marques | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said more than 700,000 people had crossed the border from Ukraine to Poland since Russia launched its invasion.

“To help support the needs of Ukrainians in Poland and other countries, the Biden administration just requested to Congress $2.75 billion in humanitarian assistance,” he said in a joint press conference with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau.

“That’s both to meet the needs of vulnerable people and communities inside Ukraine, as well as to support refugee services, including here in Poland.”

Blinken said the U.S. had also sent a disaster response team to Poland, which was working closely with humanitarian agencies to provide critical services and supplies to refugees.

“We provided funding for emergency supplies to sustain health care for up to 100,000 people for three months, and up to 500 emergency surgical procedures,” he added.

— Chloe Taylor

UK tells British nationals to leave Russia, advises against travel to country

Passengers at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on March 5, 2022, the day Russia’s S7 Airlines cancelled all its international flights due to sanctions imposed on Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

– | Afp | Getty Images

Britain’s Foreign Office has updated its advice on visiting Russia, telling its nationals to leave the country if possible.

“If your presence in Russia is not essential, we strongly advise that you consider leaving by remaining commercial routes,” the U.K. Foreign Office said in its latest travel advice, updated Saturday.

“The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against all travel to the whole of Russia due to the lack of available flight options to return to the U.K. and the increased volatility in the Russian economy.”

S7 Airlines, Russia’s biggest commercial air carrier, ceased all international flights on Saturday after Western sanctions targeted Russia’s aviation sector.

The British government added: “If you are in Russia, you should be aware that it may not be possible to fly directly to the U.K., or via EU countries, and should amend any travel plans accordingly.”

It said connecting flights via the Middle East and Turkey remained operational.

— Chloe Taylor

A Russian plane of high-ranking officials is traveling to Washington, Ukrainian official says

A Russian plane reserved for high-ranking officials of Russia is traveling to Washington, Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Geraschenko said on Telegram Saturday.

“Right now it’s passing near Iceland,” Geraschenko said, suggesting that negotiations between Moscow and the U.S. may be about to start.

“If I learn anything, will let you know later,” he added.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine says Russia has violated ceasefire

The building of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine.

Konoplytska | Istock Editorial | Getty Images

Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister of Ukraine, says that Russia has violated the ceasefire agreement in the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.

Earlier Saturday, Russia and Ukraine had announced a temporary ceasefire in the cities to allow the evacuation of civilians. The fighting was due to stop at 10 a.m. Moscow time (9 a.m. Ukraine, 2 a.m. ET).

But in a video posted to Telegram on Saturday, Vereshchuk said Russian forces started shelling Volnovakha with heavy weapons at 11.45 a.m. local time.

“I hereby state that Russia has violated [the ceasefire] agreement, failed to fulfill its duty and shells the town of Volnovaksha,” she said, according to an NBC News translation. “Moreover, there has been fighting in the direction between Mariupol and Zaporizhia.”

Civilians in Mariupol were supposed to be evacuated to Zaporizhia, a city to the west, but authorities postponed the evacuation as attacks continued in the city and along the route to Zaporizhia.

“We address the Russian side to stop shelling and provide a ceasefire and let us form columns of humanitarian corridors to evacuate women, children and elderly. We also ask Russia to let us send humanitarian aid from Zaporizhia and Dnipro,” Vereshchuk said.

The statement came as Ukraine’s Parliament said that Russia was “thwarting” the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol.

“The Russian military does not adhere to the [ceasefire] and continues the shelling of Mariupol and its environs. The evacuation of civilians is suspended for security reasons,” it said.

“Currently, negotiations with the Russian Federation are underway to establish a regime of silence and ensure a safe humanitarian corridor.”

 — Chloe Taylor

Mariupol postpones evacuation as Russian shelling continues, despite ceasefire

Mariupol City Council has said its evacuation of civilians is being postponed as Russian shelling continues in the city despite a ceasefire agreement.

“Due to the fact that the Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and continued shelling both Mariupol and its environs, for security reasons, the evacuation of the population is postponed,” the council said in a post on Telegram.

Mariupol is one of two cities subject to a temporary ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and Russia. The ceasefires, announced Saturday morning, were supposed to be implemented to allow the evacuation of civilians.

“We ask all Mariupol residents to disperse and follow to the places of shelter,” Mariupol City Council said on Saturday afternoon local time.

“More information about the evacuation will be posted soon. Negotiations are currently underway with the Russian Federation to establish a [ceasefire] and ensure a secure humanitarian corridor.”

Police will inform Mariupol residents via loudspeakers that the evacuation had been cancelled, the council added.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukrainian official says Russia not honoring ceasefire agreement

A view shows a residential building, which locals said was damaged by recent shelling, in Mariupol, Ukraine February 26, 2022.

Nikolay Ryabchenko | Reuters

Orlov Sergei, deputy mayor of Mariupol, told the BBC on Saturday that although Russia had confirmed a ceasefire would begin in the city today, shelling and bombing continued.

“At first our people told [us] that the shelling stopped for a little time, but then it continued and they continue to use hard artillery and rockets to bomb Mariupol,” he said. 

City officials had made plans to evacuate civilians from three locations on municipal buses, with a route to Zaporizhzhia, a city to the west, also subject to the ceasefire.

Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022.

Evgeniy Maloletka | AP

“[The Russians] told us that road from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia is safe, but we received information that there are hard fights on this road and it’s not safe to go on this road because of these fights,” Sergei told the BBC. “So we have two objections, first of all of the continuous shelling of Mariupol and next the fights [along the route out of the city], so we understand that it was not approved from Russian side and they continue to destroy Mariupol.”

He added: “We decided to move our citizens back because it’s not safe to be on the streets.”

— Chloe Taylor

PayPal suspends its services in Russia

The PayPal application can be seen on a mobile phone.

Felix Kästle | picture alliance | Getty Images

PayPal says it is suspending its services in Russia, adding to the number of firms retreating from the country over its invasion of Ukraine.

“Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia,” Dan Schulman, PayPal’s CEO, said in a letter addressed to the Ukrainian government.

The payment processor had already discontinued domestic services in Russia in 2020. This latest action relates to its remaining business in the country, including send and receive functions and the ability to make international transfers via PayPal’s Xoom remittances platform.

PayPal is the latest payment organization to sever ties with Russia, which faces a slew of sanctions from the West over President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

The sanctions saw SWIFT, the global interbank messaging network, bar several Russian banks, while Visa and Mastercard have said they will block Russian financial institutions from their networks.

Ryan Browne

Zelenskyy says humanitarian crisis at Polish border has been resolved

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends an interview with foreign media in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

In an address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had spoken to the presidents of France and Poland and had been “able to solve a humanitarian crisis on the border.”

“We managed the situation so that Ukrainian women and children were able to get a safe place,” he said, according to an NBC News translation. “No one is asking what’s their nationality, what’s their faith, how much money they have. De facto we don’t have any borders with Poland anymore.”

Poland’s Border Guard said Saturday that since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, more than 787,000 people had fled Ukraine into Poland.

Zelenskyy added in his speech that he was “certain” authorities would soon be able to tell people it was safe to return to Ukraine.

“We are already thinking about the future for all of Ukrainians after the war, about how we will rebuild our cities, our economy,” Zelenskyy said. “I talked to the head of the World Bank, to the CEO of the IMF — the [world’s] biggest financial institutions support Ukraine.”

— Chloe Taylor

Footage shows protests in Russian-occupied Kherson

Videos have emerged of protesters gathering in Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine that was taken by Russian forces this week.

In one video, posted by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, residents of the city are seen in Kherson’s Svobody Square — many waving Ukrainian flags — when gunfire is heard.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia to continue ‘broad-front offensive’ in Ukraine: Russian media

Russian forces are continuing their “broad-front offensive” in Ukraine, according to Moscow-based news agency Interfax.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was speaking at a press briefing Saturday, according to the report.

His comments came after Russia announced a temporary ceasefire in the cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha to allow civilians to evacuate.

— Chloe Taylor

Mariupol begins evacuation of civilians

Mariupol, one of the two Ukrainian cities where a temporary ceasefire has been implemented, has released its plans for the evacuation of civilians.

The City Council said Saturday that the ceasefire would be in place between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time (2 a.m. and 9 p.m. ET), with the evacuation beginning at 11 a.m. local time.

Civilians will be evacuated from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, a city to the west, via municipal bus.

Authorities will run evacuations from three locations in the city, the council said, and noted that private transportation would also be permitted along the designated route and asked drivers to make full use of the space in their vehicles.

Veering away from the agreed route was strictly forbidden, officials said.

— Chloe Taylor

Elon Musk rejects calls for Starlink to block Russian news outlets

Elon Musk speaks during a press conference at SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on February 10, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Elon Musk said Saturday that SpaceX’s Starlink would not block Russian news outlets “unless at gunpoint,” claiming that some governments — excluding Ukraine’s — had told the company to do so.

Starlink is a division of SpaceX planning to build an interconnected network with thousands of satellites to deliver high-speed internet anywhere on the planet.

“Sorry to be a free speech absolutist,” Musk said on Twitter.

— Chloe Taylor

UK says 4 Ukrainian cities encircled by Russian forces

The U.K. Ministry of Defense has said it appears that four cities in Ukraine are surrounded by Russian troops.

“Ukraine continues to hold the key cities of Kharkiv, Cherniv and Mariupol,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update on Saturday.

“There have been reports of street fighting in Sumy. It is highly likely that all four cities are encircled by Russian forces.”

According to the U.K., “the overall rate of Russian air and artillery strikes observed over the past 24 hours has been lower than in previous days.”

The ministry added that Russian forces were also “probably” advancing on the southern port city of Mykolaiv, but noted that it was possible some forces would attempt to circumvent the city to prioritize progression toward the port city of Odesa.

— Chloe Taylor

Temporary ceasefire declared in two Ukrainian cities

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential Office who took part in negotiations with Russian officials this week, confirmed on Saturday that a temporary ceasefire had been declared in two Ukrainian cities.

The ceasefire, which was expected to begin at 10 a.m. Moscow time (2 a.m. ET), would allow civilians to leave the cities, which have been ravaged by fighting in recent days.

Russia’s state-controlled media claimed that the country’s Defense Ministry had agreed the exit routes with Ukrainian authorities.

— Chloe Taylor

Samsung Electronics stops shipments to Russia

Samsung Electronics joined the slew of tech and consumer electronics companies that have ceased sending products into Russia.

The South Korean smartphone giant said it will suspend shipments into Russia and donate $6 million to humanitarian efforts “around the region.”

Companies in Silicon Valley, including Apple, Google and Meta, have made it harder for people in Russia to access some of the most widely used technologies in the world as President Vladimir Putin continues his invasion of Ukraine.

Samsung Electronics is the top handsets maker in Russia, with 30% market share as of the fourth quarter, according to Reuters. China’s Xiaomi and Apple are second and third, respectively.

—Ted Kemp

Amazon says it is informing Ukrainian organizations of cybersecurity threats

Amazon Web Services logo.

Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Amazon said Friday various teams across its cloud-computing unit have been informing Ukrainian organizations and world governments of cybersecurity threats from state actors and other malicious actors.

“Our teams have seen new malware signatures and activity from a number of state actors we monitor,” Amazon said. “As this activity has ramped up, our teams and technologies detected the threats, learned the patterns, and placed remediation tools directly into the hands of customers.”

AWS has also detected an increase in activity from non-state actors where malware has been targeted at charities, NGOs and other aid organizations “in order to spread confusion and cause disruption,” Amazon said. In these cases, malicious actors sought to disrupt medical supplies, food and clothing relief.

Amazon said it’s also working with Ukrainian customers and partners to keep their applications secure, including helping them to move their on-premises infrastructure to AWS in order to safeguard it from any potential physical or virtual attacks.

Western companies have responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a number of ways. Microsoft said it was helping to keep Ukraine informed of cyberattacks, and it also suspended the sale of new products and services in Russia. Apple said Tuesday it would stop selling products on its Apple store in the country.

AWS has no data centers, infrastructure or offices in Russia, and it has a “long-standing policy of not doing business” in the country, Amazon said. Amazon’s biggest customers using AWS in Russia are companies who are headquartered outside of the country and have some development teams there, the company added.

— Annie Palmer

Ukraine invites U.S. Senate to a Zoom meeting with Zelenskyy

U.S. first lady Jill Biden applauds her guest Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova in the first lady’s box as President Joe Biden welcomes Markarova during his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 1, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The full U.S. Senate has been invited to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via Zoom on Saturday morning, NBC News reported, citing anonymous sources.

The meeting was set up by the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, and it will come a day after Zelenskyy vowed to leaders of European capitals that Ukraine will repel the invasion Russian forces launched last week.

Since the start of Russia’s unprovoked offensive, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been overwhelming supportive of the Biden administration’s efforts to bolster Ukraine’s resistance as well as of U.S. sanctions meant to cripple Russia’s economy.

During President Joe Biden‘s State of the Union speech Tuesday, many lawmakers wore the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag, or wore the flag itself on their lapels.

At one point, Biden asked the audience to stand and “send an unmistakable signal to the world and Ukraine” of American support.

They did, and saluted Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova, who was seated with first lady Jill Biden.

– Dan Mangan


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