Lukashenka pushes changes to Belarusian constitution, expands power and allows Russian nuclear weapons


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged his compatriots to maintain their resistance against Russian forces despite bombardments and encirclement efforts against major cities.

Live briefing: Russia invades Ukraine

Consult the RFE/RL live briefing on Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and how Kiev is fighting back and the West is reacting. The briefing presents the latest developments and analysis, updates throughout the day.

The call came after Russia’s all-out invasion entered its second week and UN members condemned Moscow’s actions as “deplorable” and demanded a withdrawal.

In his final video speech after a night of Russian shelling of Kyiv and the strategic cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, Zelenskiy praised Ukraine’s resistance on March 3 and said, “We have nothing to lose our own freedom.

“They won’t have peace here,” Zelenskiy said of the Russian invaders. He described Russian troops as “confused children who have been used” and called on them to “go home”.

He said Ukraine receives daily arms shipments from allies abroad.

The Ukrainian general staff and an adviser to Zelenskiy later reportedly said that Ukraine was increasingly able to launch counterattacks as it tried to repel Russian troops.

“The aid given to us is increasing every minute and the strength of the enemy is decreasing every minute,” Reuters quoted the unnamed presidential adviser as saying. “We are not only defending but also counter-attacking.”

WATCH: RFE/RL’s Maryan Kushnir witnessed the immediate aftermath of an attack on the town of Borodyanka, northwest of the capital in the Kyiv region.

The Ukrainian border authority announced that nearly 14,000 Ukrainians, mostly men, had returned to the country on March 2, an increase of around 2,000 from the previous day.

Ukrainian negotiators have arrived at the border with Belarus for a second round of peace talks with Russia.

Earlier, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak posted a photo of himself and the head of the Ukrainian delegation Davyd Arakhamia in a helicopter en route to the talks, where they are expected to push for humanitarian corridors to allow safe passage for women, children and the elderly. Russian troops advance a week in their attacks on Ukraine.

The first round of talks on February 28 ended after more than five hours without a breakthrough.

Ukraine’s National Emergency Service said more than 2,000 civilians had died, but that figure was impossible to confirm.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova, addressing the UN Human Rights Council on March 3, said Russian bombings of Ukrainian cities “clearly constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Dzhaparova called for “accounts for war criminals who shed the blood of Ukrainian children”.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on March 3 that an advance team had left The Hague for Ukraine to begin gathering evidence of possible war crimes.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said a day earlier that he had “a reasonable basis to believe that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine” and that 39 countries have requested an investigation into the events that took place there.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell sent a message on March 3 demanding that “this war must stop now”.

“I call for an immediate ceasefire,” Borrell wrote on Twitter after visiting a refugee center in the capital of Moldova, which shares a long border with Ukraine. “I call for the immediate establishment of humanitarian corridors.”

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on France-2: “I think it is possible that the worst is ahead of us” in Ukraine. He said France would propose a resolution to the UN Security Council later on March 3 to demand a ceasefire in Ukraine.

But Russia’s veto has made progress on such a proposal unlikely.

Meanwhile, Russian troops reportedly reached the center of their first major Ukrainian city since the start of the all-out conflict, but it was unclear who controlled the Black Sea coastal city of Kherson.

Kherson Mayor Ihor Kolykhayev said late March 2 that Russian troops were on the streets of the city of nearly 300,000 people and entered the local council building.

He said he spoke to the “armed visitors”. “I just asked them not to shoot people,” he said.

Regional official Hennady Lakhuta reportedly said the “occupiers” were in “all parts” of Kherson.

A British intelligence update on Ukraine early March 3 said that while some Russian forces had entered Kherson, the military situation was unclear.

British intelligence concluded that Kharkiv and the cities of Chernihiv and Mariupol remained in Ukrainian hands. But he said Mariupol, a major port city on the Sea of ​​Azov, appeared to be surrounded by Russian forces, echoing a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said on March 3 that Russian forces were attacking rail links to prevent evacuations and blockading the city “systematically and methodically”.

Mariupol needs a ceasefire to restore power to the beleaguered city, the mayor said.

A powerful rocket attack was reported in Sumy, causing several casualties, according to the head of the regional state administration in the region, Dmytro Zhivitskiy.

Major explosions were reported overnight in Kyiv. But the UK intelligence report echoed other sources in saying a huge military column stretching tens of miles north of the capital had made little apparent progress over the past three days.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on March 3 that some of the explosions that sounded over the city overnight were the work of Ukrainian air defense systems targeting Russian missiles.

He also promised that the heating pipes near the main station damaged the day before would be repaired and restored on March 3.

“City authorities continue to ensure the functioning of critical infrastructure in Kyiv,” Klitschko said.

He urged Kyiv residents to avoid unnecessary travel in and around the capital and reminded them of the night curfew.

Klitschko warned of “obvious plans” by Russian troops to encircle the capital and that they planned to strangle Kiev with a blockade.

Ukrainian officials have lowered their expectations as they head into planned ceasefire talks with Russian officials on March 3 in the Brest region of southern Belarus.

Zelenskiy said Russian forces must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before meaningful ceasefire talks can begin on halting the biggest military operation against a European state since World War II.

The head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, said the parties would also discuss a possible humanitarian corridor in Ukraine.

WATCH: Russian soldiers were seen looting grocery stores and banks in several Ukrainian towns. Security camera footage posted on social media showed Russian soldiers seizing food and trying to steal a safe.

The UN refugee agency said on March 3 that one million people had fled Ukraine in the past seven days to find safety in neighboring countries. Train stations and border checkpoints with Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary were crowded with women and children.

The UN plenum approved a non-binding resolution on March 2 that “deplores” Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine. He was supported by 141 of the 193 members of the assembly.

Thirty-five members, including China and Russian allies Iran and Cuba, abstained and five countries, including Russia, Syria and Belarus, voted against the resolution.

The US State Department also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to ‘immediately stop this bloodshed’ and withdraw Russian troops and condemned the blockades and threats to block independent news outlets and the ‘limitation’ social media by the authorities.

Protests in Russia against the invasion of Ukraine have led to mass arrests and Russian authorities have imposed broad bans on the use of words like “war” or “invasion” to describe events in Ukraine.

International measures aimed at punishing Russia’s invasion of its neighbor have also continued, including financial bans, sports bans and businesses ceasing operations in Russia.

The United States announced new sanctions against Russia and the introduction of strict controls on the export of high-tech products to Belarus.

The Washington Post has reported that US President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress for $10 billion to help Ukraine as US spending talks continue.

Ukrainian Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko said international financial support to Ukraine so far amounted to more than $15 billion.

Biden was due to hold an online meeting early March 3 with the leaders of India, Australia and Japan – the so-called Quad group of countries – during which they were to discuss responses to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

In the European Union, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reportedly said his country would not veto a new round of EU sanctions against Russia. He said “unity is paramount” at this stage, according to local media outlet

Former Ukrainian world heavyweight boxing champion Volodymyr Klitschko, brother of the mayor of Kyiv, has praised the international sports community for its response by “standing together” to pressure Moscow into banning Russian organizations and participation in big events.

“Ban Russian teams from participating. I have nothing against the athletes, but they present the regime and in a way the connection with this war,” Klitschko said.

Later, the International Paralympic Committee announced that athletes from Russia and Belarus, which allowed the Russian military to stand near the border, will not be able to participate in the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing which are due to start on 4 March.

The Russian Ministry of Defense on March 2 given its first casualty estimates since the launch of the unprovoked invasion. He said 498 of his soldiers had died since the war began last week, while a spokesperson added on Twitter that another 1,597 Russian soldiers had been injured.

The figures could not be independently verified. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine, which said the number of Russian casualties was close to 6,000.

The Ukrainian army general staff said on March 3 that the number of Russian casualties was about 9,000another number impossible to verify.

With reports from Current Time, RFE/RL Russian Service, RFE/RL Ukrainian Service, Reuters, BBC, CNN and AFP


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