Zelensky says UN has failed as Biden heads to Europe for Ukraine meetings – The Times of Israel

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Wednesday’s events as they happen.
The Swiss attorney general’s office says it is collecting evidence from Ukraine refugees on possible international crimes or embargo violations stemming from Russia’s war with Ukraine.
The attorney general’s office says in a statement sent to The Associated Press that it’s in contact with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, which monitors possible sanctions violations, to see if any violations of embargo law have been committed and merit investigation.
The Swiss government has joined the European Union in imposing sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Switzerland is not part of the EU.
The Swiss Bankers’ Association has estimated the assets of Russian clients deposited in Swiss banks total 150-200 billion Swiss francs (about $160-$215 billion).
No criminal proceedings in Switzerland have yet been launched in connection with the war.
A day after the deadly terror attack in Beersheba, Jewish and Arab community leaders in southern Israel meet with security officials in order to prepare for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover and the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
The meeting with Southern District police officials at the Ramat Negev Regional Council outside the town of Shizaf is attended by the head of the local authority, Eran Doron; Dimona Mayor Benny Biton; Lakiya’s Ahmad al-Assad; Kuseife’s Abd al-Aziz Nassara; and Ar’ara Banegev’s Naif Abu Arar.
Police southern region commander Peretz Amar says the meeting comes ahead of the Jewish and Muslim holidays, which are “ a sensitive period that has broad implications.”
“During the meeting, all the heads of authorities expressed their willingness to work together to act against extremist elements, and to allow the security forces to act against criminal and security elements,” Amar says according to a statement.
“It is in the interest of all of us to work together for the development and prosperity of the entire region and to maintain the peace and security of our residents,” Doron, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, says.
Yesterday’s attack was committed by a former terror convict from the predominantly Bedouin town of Hura.
In his testimony at the corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu, Shlomo Filber criticizes the police and the judiciary for how they handled the case.
“I tried to explain the complexity [of the situation] to the police investigators, but they did not want to hear,” Filber says in court in his first day of testimony. “They did not want to get the full picture from me – just ‘yes or no.’”
Filber says that “I wanted to do good for the State of Israel, I ruined six years of my life on this investigation.” He calls the police detectives who investigated him “two Rottweilers.”
“They brought this case to me, they’re ruining people’s lives.”
Filber, the former director general of the Communications Ministry and once a close Netanyahu confidant, is testifying in Case 4000, which alleges that Netanyahu used his office to improperly aid Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch in regulatory matters in exchange for favorable coverage in Elovitch’s Walla news site.
Russia’s foreign ministry says that two prisoner exchanges have taken place since its military action in Ukraine began last month.
“Russia’s defense ministry organizes daily humanitarian corridors and the evacuation of civilians from residential areas,” the foreign ministry says on its website.
“In addition, two prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine have taken place,” it adds, without providing details on the dates or number of prisoners exchanged.
On Monday, Russia’s human rights ombudsman Tatiana Moskalkova said nine Russian prisoners were exchanged for the mayor of Melitopol, a city in southeastern Ukraine captured by the Russian army.
President Isaac Herzog speaks to one of the men who shot at the terrorist who killed four people in an attack in Beersheba yesterday, praising him for his efforts.
“You acted with heroism and composure,” Herzog tells Arthur Chaimov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan and a bus driver. “I want to salute you and say thank you. I watched you on TV yesterday and I was very proud… A great disaster happened to us yesterday, but your actions prevented the loss of more lives.”
Kyiv says that talks with Russia to end nearly one month of fighting are were encountering “significant difficulties” after Moscow accused the United States of hindering peace efforts.
“The negotiations are continuing online. They are proceeding with significant difficulties because the Ukrainian side has clear and principled positions,” Ukraine’s lead negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak tells reporters in written comments.
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has arrived in Moscow for talks at the Russian foreign and defense ministries on humanitarian issues caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Peter Maurer, the ICRC president, is expected to take up issues such as prisoners of war, the conduct of hostilities and the delivery of aid.
“The devastation caused by the conflict in recent weeks, as well as eight years of conflict in Donbas, has been vast,” Maurer says in a statement, referring to the region of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists.
“There are practical steps guided by international humanitarian law that the parties must take to limit the suffering,” Maurer says.
Maurer traveled to Ukraine last week. While in Moscow, he is also expected to meet with the head of the Russian Red Cross, which has been helping people who have fled eastern Ukraine into Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells Japan’s parliament that the United Nations has failed over the conflict in his country and reforms are needed, calling for more pressure on Russia.
The international body has been hamstrung because Russia, as a permanent member of its Security Council, has effectively blocked condemnation or action over its invasion of Ukraine.
“Neither the United Nations nor the UN Security Council have functioned. Reforms are needed,” the Ukrainian leader tells lawmakers via videolink.
“We need a tool to preemptively ensure global security. Existing international organizations are not functioning for this purpose, so we need to develop a new, preemptive tool that can actually stop invasions,” Zelensky adds.
Britain’s defense ministry says the war in northern Ukraine is largely “static,” with Russian forces trying to reorganize before resuming a large-scale assault.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, UK defense officials say, “Russian forces are attempting to envelop Ukrainian forces in the east of the country as they advance from the direction of Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.”
In an update posted on social media, Britain’s defense ministry says Russian troops in the south are trying to circumvent the city of Mykolaiv as they push west towards Odesa, a key Black Sea port that has so far been spared major attack.
A Dutch publishing house pulls a recently published book alleging that a Jewish notary tipped off the Nazis to Anne Frank’s hiding place, following criticism about the investigation on which it was based.
Publisher Ambo Anthos says it is pulling the Dutch edition of “The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case investigation” by Canadian author Rosemary Sullivan with immediate effect.
According to the book — based on an investigation led by retired FBI detective Vince Pankoke — notary Arnold van den Bergh may have revealed the Franks’ hiding place in Amsterdam to the Nazis in a bid to save his own family.
Experts have complained that the investigation was based solely on hypotheses and an erroneous interpretation of the sources.
“A number of prominent experts presented a very critical report on the investigation that is described in the book,” Ambo Anthos says in a statement. “Based on the conclusions of this report, we have decided that effective immediately, the book will no longer be available.”
“We will call upon bookstores to return their stock,” the publisher adds. “We would once again like to offer our sincere apologies to everyone who has been offended by the contents of this book.”
Poland’s counter-espionage service ABW has identified 45 Russian diplomats as suspected spies and calls on the foreign ministry to expel them, its spokesman says.
“The internal security agency has drawn up a list of 45 people working in Poland under the cover of diplomatic activities,” ABW spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn tells reporters, accusing the suspects of targeting Poland.
He says the list of suspects has been transferred to the foreign ministry, tweeting that “ABW is requesting that they be expelled from Polish territory.”
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked says that a High Court petition against Israel’s policy on accepting Ukrainian refugees is “pointless.”
“The petition is pointless and rude,” she tells a Knesset committee hearing. “The authority to enter Israel is in the hands of the interior minister… Israel has in total absorbed an even larger number than Britain.”
Israel has said that any Ukrainian refugees with family in Israel will be granted entry, as well as all those who qualify for citizenship under the Law of Return. Outside of that, Shaked has said that 5,000 additional Ukrainian refugees would be allowed into the country in addition to the 20,000 in Israel before the war started.
A petition to the Supreme Court argued that Shaked does not have the authority to limit entry to Ukrainians as per the countries’ visa agreements, and that Israel is party to international treaties that require it to allow in refugees.
As of yesterday, more than 15,000 Ukrainians had arrived in Israel, including close to 4,500 eligible for citizenship.
Shaked is slated to meet today with Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, who has backed the petition against Israel’s current policy.
The foreign ministers of Iran and Syria, two allies of Russia, will discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine and other developments during a meeting in Damascus today, Syria’s foreign minister says.
Faisal Mekdad speaks to reporters at Damascus airport shortly after his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, arrives for talks with top Syrian officials.
“We will discuss the huge developments today after Russia’s military operation in Ukraine,” Mekdad says. “We will discuss what is behind that and we will discuss our mutual stances toward these developments.”
During his visit, Amir-Abdollahian is also likely to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s negotiations to restore Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates last week, which marked his first to an Arab country since the Syria war broke out, and meetings of the constitutional committee in Geneva between the Syrian government and opposition.
Beijing describes Russia as an “important member” of the G20 after Washington raised the prospect of excluding Moscow from the group following its invasion of Ukraine.
“The G20 is the main forum for international economic cooperation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin tells reporters. “Russia is an important member, and no member has the right to expel another country.”
A black box has been recovered from the crashed Chinese passenger jet carrying 132 people, an aviation official says.
A flight recorder “from China Eastern MU5735 was found on March 23,” Liu Lusong, a spokesman for China’s aviation authority, tells reporters.
Nobody on board the flight is believed to have survived the crash, and recovery efforts have been hampered by heavy rains at the crash site.
Shlomo Filber, a former Communications Ministry director general, testifies in the corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu that the former prime minister gestured that he should look into concerns by the owner of media giant Bezeq over prices in the industry.
Filber tells the court that he met with Netanyahu shortly after he become head of the ministry, amid a potential merger between media companies Bezeq and Yes.
“He said that [Bezeq owner Shaul] Elovitch came to him since Bezeq is having problems that need looking into,” Filber recalls. “[Netanyahu] told me, ‘don’t prevent competition, but see if you can moderate the prices,’ and gestured with his hand,” Filber testifies.
Filber is a key state’s witness in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is accused of using his position to help Bezeq and Elovitch in exchange for favorable coverage in Elovitch’s Walla news site.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accuses the United States of wanting to hinder Moscow’s talks with Ukraine aimed at ending the almost month-long conflict.
“The talks are tough, the Ukrainian side constantly changes its position. It’s hard to avoid the impression that our American colleagues are holding their hand,” Lavrov tells students in Moscow, claiming the US “apparently wants to keep us in a state of military action as long as possible.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled despite the daily assaults inflicted by his troops, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says, insisting that Kyiv can “count on our help.”
“Putin’s offensive is stuck despite all the destruction that it is bringing day after day,” Scholz says, adding that the Russian leader “must hear the truth” that the war is destroying not only Ukraine, “but also Russia’s future.”
Scholz insists that Germany stands by Kyiv, but says he will not endorse calls for NATO to help erect a no-fly zone over Ukraine or to send in “peacekeeping troops.”
“As difficult as it is, we will not give in on that,” he says, adding that Germany will not risk a direct military conflict between nuclear-armed Russia and NATO.
The R transmission rate of COVID rises to 1.39, according to the latest Health Ministry figures, while serious cases continue to drop.
Just a week ago, the R number — which indicates how many people a COVID patient will infect on average — was below 1.
Yesterday, 13,384 people tested positive for COVID, reports the Health Ministry, a slight drop from the figure one day earlier. There are currently 64,271 active cases in the country, with 849 of them hospitalized and 300 of those in serious condition.
The number of serious cases has continued its drop, from 320 yesterday and 338 a week ago. Health officials have warned, however, that serious cases could reverse course and rise as new infections appear to be climbing upward.
The Kyiv city administration says Russian forces shelled the Ukrainian capital overnight and early this morning, damaging buildings in two districts.
Kyiv authorities say on Telegram that a shopping mall, some private sector buildings and high-rises are coming under fire in the districts of Sviatoshynskyi and Shevchenkivskyi.
Four people sustain injuries.
Russian forces bombed and destroyed a bridge in the encircled city of Chernihiv, says the region’s governor, Viacheslav Chaus.
The destroyed bridge had been used for evacuating civilians and delivering humanitarian aid. It crossed the Desna River and connected the city to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Chernihiv authorities said yesterday that the encircled city has no water or electricity and called the situation there a humanitarian disaster.
Explosions and bursts of gunfire shake Kyiv this morning, and heavy artillery fire can be heard from the northwest, where Russian forces have sought to encircle and take the capital’s suburbs.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk condemns the terrorist attack in Beersheba yesterday that killed four civilians.
“The murder in Beersheba is a vicious and despicable act of pure terrorism,” he writes on Facebook. “I extend my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish a full recovery to those who were injured.”
“Any human being striving for freedom and peace in the world should condemn any brutal murder of innocent civilians,” he adds.
Korniychuk has been critical of Israel for refusing to send military aid — including helmets and flak jackets — to Ukrainians fighting against the Russian invasion.
Ex-Communications Ministry director general Shlomo Filber, a former close confidant of Benjamin Netanyahu, begins his long-awaited testimony in the former prime minister’s corruption trial in Jerusalem.
“He was an object of my admiration from a very young age, one of the greatest leaders we had; I think so even today,” Filber says of the ex-premier at the start of his testimony. Filber is a key witness in Case 4000, in which Netanyahu is accused of advancing regulatory decisions that immensely benefited Walla owner Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, in exchange for what amounted to editorial control over Elovitch’s Walla news site.
Filber says he has known Netanyahu “for almost 25 years, we have good professional chemistry, but we never developed social ties beyond that.”
Filber says there “was a high level of trust between us; in general Netanyahu delegates authority” to people he trusts and relies on. Filber says that when he was director general of the Communications Ministry, “I could get 3-4 calls a day” from Netanyahu.
The witness also tells prosecutors that he never lied once during any of his police interrogations in the case.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at the Jerusalem District Court ahead of the testimony in his ongoing corruption trial of key state’s witness Shlomo Filber, the former director of the Communications Ministry.
Filber, once one of the closest officials to Netanyahu, is believed to be an essential part of the prosecution’s case against him in Case 4000, in which the former prime minister is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. His testimony has repeatedly been delayed, most recently amid claims that police improperly hacked into Filber’s phone to spy on him.
Prosecutors and investigators later asserted that police utilized spyware to access Filber’s phone, but that it was done with judicial oversight.
עדות פילבר | עד המדינה כבר באולם, ראש האופוזיציה נתניהו יחד עם בנו אבנר הגיעו לדיוןhttps://t.co/WLWVghhY5s pic.twitter.com/B38qqyfW16
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) March 23, 2022
Two family members of the terrorist who killed four people at a shopping mall yesterday before being shot dead have been arrested, police say.
According to a police statement, the two men — related to terrorist Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an — were detained in a joint operation between police and the Shin Bet.
The two men, suspected of not preventing the attack, are slated to appear in the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court this afternoon.
Abu al-Qi’an’s extended family decried the attack yesterday. “We harshly condemn this terrorist act in Beersheba today that took the lives of innocent civilians,” the Abu al-Qi’an clan said. “This criminal action is a lone act, that represents only he who performed it. We are a family that believes in coexistence and obeying the law.”
In a message on Telegram, the Ukraine prosecutor’s office says that 121 children have been killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine a month ago.
According to the statement, 167 children have been wounded.
The UN estimates that more than 10 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes since the start of fighting, and around 3.5 million have left the country.
Ukrainian leaders accuse Russia of seizing 15 rescue workers and drivers from a humanitarian convoy trying to get desperately needed food and other supplies into the bloodied port city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky estimates that 100,000 civilians remain in Mariupol, scene of some of the war’s worst devastation, as Russia presses a nearly month-old offensive by bombarding cities and towns.
Zelensky accuses Russian forces of blocking the aid convoy despite agreeing to the route ahead of time.
“We are trying to organize stable humanitarian corridors for Mariupol residents, but almost all of our attempts, unfortunately, are foiled by the Russian occupiers, by shelling or deliberate terror,” Zelensky says.
The Red Cross confirms a humanitarian aid convoy trying to reach the city had not been able to enter.
The convoy’s attempt to deliver assistance came as Russian navy vessels joined in what have been weeks of Russian air and land strikes into Mariupol, US officials say.
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to give the Pentagon’s assessment, says Russian ships in the Sea of Azov added to the shelling of Mariupol. The official says there are about seven Russian ships in that area, including a minesweeper and a couple of landing vessels.
The Taliban orders secondary girls schools in Afghanistan to shut just hours after they reopened, an official confirms, sparking confusion over the policy reversal by the hardline Islamist group.
“Yes, it’s true,” Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani tells AFP when asked to confirm reports that girls had been ordered home.
An AFP team was filming at Zarghona High School in the capital Kabul when a teacher entered and ordered everyone to go home.
Crestfallen students, back in class for the first time since the Taliban seized power in August last year, tearfully packed up their belongings and filed out.
The two women who were wounded in a Beersheba terrorist attack yesterday that killed four civilians are hospitalized in stable condition.
Dr. Tzachi Slutsky of the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where the two women are hospitalized, tells Army Radio that they are improving.
“We managed to stabilize the conditions of the wounded, they is currently not danger to their lives, they are conscious and communicating with their surroundings,” Slutsky tells Army Radio. “They are facing a long process of recovery and rehabilitation.”
The two men who shot at a terrorist who murdered four people in Beersheba yesterday will have their guns returned to them this morning, police say.
Police say that ballistic tests on the weapons were completed overnight in Jerusalem and the guns will be given back to their owners, following an outcry from some right-wing elements over the weapons’ confiscation. Such checks are standard in an investigation and usually take a few days.
In a statement last night, a police spokesperson said that ballistic tests on the guns are an “inseparable” part of the investigation into the attack.
The search for clues into why a Chinese commercial jetliner dove suddenly and crashed into a mountain in southern China is suspended as rain slickens the debris field and fills the red-dirt gash formed by the plane’s fiery impact.
Earlier, searchers had used hand tools, drones and sniffer dogs under rainy conditions to comb the heavily forested slopes for the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, as well as any human remains. Crews also worked to pump water from the pit created when the plane hit the ground, but their efforts are suspended because small landslides are possible on the steep, slick slopes.
Video clips posted by China’s state media showed small pieces of the Boeing 737-800 plane scattered over the area. Mud-stained wallets, bank and identity cards have also been recovered. Each piece of debris has a number next to it, the larger ones marked off by police tape.
China Eastern Flight 5735 was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew from Kunming in Yunnan province to Guangzhou, an industrial center on China’s southeastern coast, when it crashed Monday afternoon outside the city of Wuzhou in the Guangxi region. All 132 people on board are presumed killed.
The United Nations will face three resolutions today on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine after Russia decided to call for a vote on its Security Council resolution that makes no mention of its attack on its smaller neighbor.
The General Assembly is scheduled to start considering two rival resolutions this morning — one supported by Ukraine and Western nations that makes clear Russia is responsible for the escalating humanitarian crisis and the other sponsored by South Africa that doesn’t mention Russia.
The Security Council will vote on the third resolution, which is sponsored by Russia and widely criticized for not referring to its invasion of Ukraine. Russia had canceled a council vote on the measure last Friday as diplomats predicted it would be overwhelmingly defeated, with many abstentions and very few “yes” votes when at least nine are needed for approval along with no vetoes.
A large tornado destroys homes and claims at least one life near the US city of New Orleans, according to media reports.
“Large tornado on the ground in New Orleans! Take shelter now!” tweets the National Weather Service’s local office.
“Severe damage to homes” is reported in Arabi, an eastern suburb of New Orleans, according to a Facebook post by the sheriff’s office in St. Bernard Parish. “Rescue efforts are under way for residents trapped in their homes,” it adds.
At least one person is killed in Arabi, the president of the parish — equivalent to a county in Louisiana — tells local TV station WDSU. 
Images circulating on local TV channels and online show homes torn apart, with light poles, power lines and debris strewn across the streets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells Russian pilots they will face repercussions for attacking civilian centers.
“I want to repeat once again to all Russian pilots who do not think about the orders they carry out: Killing civilians is a crime, and you will pay,” Zelensky says. “Today or tomorrow is less important. The main thing is that it’s inevitable.”
“Especially, we are talking about a bomber plane over Mariupol, and that will happen to everyone who is killing our civilians, in our peaceful land,” he says.
The two women who were wounded in yesterday’s terror attack in Beersheba are hospitalized and in moderate condition, Army Radio reports.
At least three of the four fatalities are set to be buried today.
The two civilians who killed the terrorist are supposed to get their firearms back this morning. Police temporarily confiscated the pistols as part of routine investigation protocol.
An officer threatened to arrest one of the men when he refused to leave the police station without his gun, prompting national media coverage and intervention by national officials to expedite the process overnight and return the guns in the morning.
Russian military forces have destroyed a new laboratory at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that among other things works to improve management of radioactive waste, the Ukrainian state agency responsible for the Chernobyl exclusion zone says.
The Russian military seized the decommissioned plant at the beginning of the war. The exclusion zone is the contaminated area around the plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear meltdown in 1986.
The state agency says the laboratory, built at a cost of 6 million euros with support from the European Commission, opened in 2015.
The laboratory contained “highly active samples and samples of radionuclides that are now in the hands of the enemy, which we hope will harm itself and not the civilized world,” the agency says in its statement.
Radionuclides are unstable atoms of chemical elements that release radiation.
In another worrying development, Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory agency said Monday that radiation monitors around the plant had stopped working.
The US National Security council condemns the terror attack yesterday in Beersheba that killed four Israelis.
“We strongly condemn the heinous terrorist attack in Israel today that killed four Israelis and injured several others,” the council says in a statement.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the victims. May their memories be a blessing. We stand together with Israel in the fight against terror,” the statement says.
The terrorist who killed four Israelis in Beersheba yesterday was called by prosecutors a “ticking time bomb” in a previous security case, Channel 12 news reports.
Palestinian media identified the stabber after the attack as 34-year-old Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, a terror convict from the Bedouin town of Hura in the Negev. He served four years in prison for plotting to join the Islamic State and was released in 2019.
The judge in the previous case, Yoel Eden considered his crimes to be severe, but gave him a relatively light sentence because he believed he was no longer a threat, the report says.
During his sentencing in the previous case, the prosecution said, “The State of Israel is a country plagued by terror, and the security damage is made much more severe when it’s caused by Israeli citizens. Criminals like the defendant are a ticking time bomb, and it’s impossible to know when the countdown will begin.”
The prosecution asked that Abu al-Qi’an be sentenced to five years imprisonment, but the judge sentenced him to four years, a sentence considered at the low end for the crimes he committed.
Explaining the decision, the judge said, “The defendant expressed remorse and said he knows he was wrong and he will not repeat what he did. In light of what he said, and in particular due to his lack of a criminal record, the acceptance of responsibility and his sincere remorse, the punishment will be at the lower end of the threshold.”
The United States announces that four Ukrainian children have been flown to an American hospital after their cancer treatment was disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Children are among the most vulnerable in a crisis,” says US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a tweet announcing the evacuation.
He adds that the four patients, from nine months to nine years in age, were “in need of urgent, highly specialized treatment,” and includes some photos of the patients.
Children are among the most vulnerable in a crisis. We are humbled to help airlift 4 Ukrainian pediatric oncology patients in need of urgent, highly specialized treatment to @StJudeResearch. These kids will safely resume critical cancer therapy disrupted by Russia’s aggression. pic.twitter.com/2d3OTAg7IZ
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 22, 2022
After initially evacuating to Poland, the children, accompanied by relatives, were transported on Monday to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, the State Department says.
“There, the patients will be able to safely resume critical cancer therapy disrupted by the Kremlin’s aggression,” says State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement.
“We are proud to stand with European partners who are also treating children whose life-saving care in Ukraine has been made impossible by Putin’s war,” he adds.
The State Department notes that European pediatric oncology departments are beginning to reach their limits.
“We are constantly in discussion with our European partners [and] with our Ukrainian partners. If we have an additional ability to bring in special cases like this, we’ll continue to do that,” says Price.
US President Joe Biden leaves today for Europe on a mission to bolster Western unity, ramp up unprecedented sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and attempt to upset the post-Cold War balance of power.
The conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin is redefining Biden’s 14-month old presidency as he pivots from domestic woes to leading the transatlantic alliance in the most serious crisis in Europe for decades.
After four years of Donald Trump, who treated European nations as economic competitors and scorned the traditional US role as senior partner in NATO, Biden is putting the accent on unity. At back-to-back summits in Brussels on Thursday, he’ll be pushing for more.
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan tells reporters that Biden will seek to “reinforce the incredible unity we built with allies and partners.”
Sullivan also says that economic sanctions, imposed by a global network of Western allies to cripple Russia’s finances, will be deepened.
A further package will be “rolled out in conjunction with our allies on Thursday,” Sullivan says. He gives no details, other than to say the package “will focus not just on adding new sanctions but on ensuring that there is joint effort to crack down on evasion on sanctions.”
On Thursday, Biden will attend summits with NATO, the G7 group and the European Council. He flies Friday to Poland, which neighbors Ukraine and is now the frontline in what some call a new Cold War, and on Saturday he meets Polish President Andrzej Duda.
The intense diplomacy marks a crucial moment in the dangerous standoff with Putin, who seeks to force Ukraine from its pro-Western path. After a month of fighting, Russian forces have laid waste to swaths of the country but have made few significant military gains, while Ukraine continues to resist.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says negotiations with Russia are going “step by step, but they are going forward.”
The talks are being held by video between delegations from both sides.
“Its very difficult. Sometimes it’s scandalous,” he says, without giving details.
Zelensky has been having a series of conversations with Western leaders in the days before the leaders of NATO countries gather in Brussels to discuss the response to the war in Ukraine.
He says he spoke yesterday to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “who supports us.”
Zelensky says he expects the Western leaders to approve more sanctions to punish Russia and more help for Ukraine.
“We will work, we will fight, as hard as we can, to the last, bravely and openly,” he said.
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Today’s Daily Briefing
Deadly terror attack in Beersheba; rising COVID & depression
Coronavirus latest