The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now in its fifth day. Ukraine is demanding an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops as the Health Ministry reports the civilian death toll has mounted to 352 people, including 14 children. Ukrainian and Russian delegations are meeting at the Belarus border as fighting rages on. This is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking Sunday.
President Volodymyr Zelensky: “They choose a tactic on purpose that is aimed against the people’s affection and anything else that makes life simply normal — power plants, hospitals, kindergartens, housing. Everything is under fire every day.”
Ukraine is handing out weapons to citizens willing to fight and has appealed for international volunteers. Meanwhile, forces from Belarus are reportedly preparing to join Russian troops. On Sunday, Belarus changed its constitution to allow for the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on its soil. This came as President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert, a move that was slammed by the White House as further escalation and a response to a “manufactured threat.”
The war has already led at least a half-million Ukrainians to flee the country, according to the U.N., and that number is expected to continue rising. Many families are being separated as fathers, sons and some women stay behind to fight. This is a mother and son who spoke as they made their way toward Poland.
Olga Goncharuk: “We’re coming from Kyiv, the capital, which has been bombed, where people are shot, where peaceful places are targeted, where they shoot our men. … We are taking our kids away in order to save their lives.”
Mark Goncharuk: “We left Dad in Kyiv, and Dad will be selling things and helping our heroes, our army. He might even fight.”
Ukraine has filed a complaint at the International Court of Justice over Russia’s invasion. NATO has activated its Response Force for the first time. Germany announced it will send weapons directly to Ukraine in a major shift. The European Union said it is funding arms purchases for the first time and is banning Russian planes from its airspace. In the U.S., President Biden approved the release of an additional $350 million in weapons to Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said another $6.4 billion in economic and military aid would be added to an upcoming spending bill. The military reinforcement comes as the U.S., European nations and others expand financial sanctions on Russia, targeting its central bank reserves and cutting key Russian banks off from the SWIFT global financial system. This is Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
Ursula von der Leyen: “The European Union and its partners are working to cripple Putin’s ability to finance his war machine. … Putin embarked on a path aiming to destroy Ukraine, but what he’s also doing, in fact, is destroying the future of his own country.”
U.K. oil giant BP announced it is offloading its 20% stake, worth $14 billion, in Russian oil giant Rosneft. Google and YouTube have cut ad revenue from Russian state media. The European Union said it will ban the Russian state-backed channels RT and Sputnik. Meanwhile, Russian authorities have restricted or blocked access to Twitter and other social media sites.
Protesters have taken to the streets of cities across the globe in solidarity with Ukraine. In Berlin, officials say at least 100,000 people rallied at an antiwar protest Sunday; Greenpeace Germany says half a million people turned out.
Meanwhile, Russian demonstrators risked a violent crackdown by police as they took to the streets of at least four dozen cities on Sunday. One Russian rights group puts the number of demonstrators arrested since the start of the invasion at 6,000. This is a protester in Moscow.
Protester: “I don’t want this war. Almost no one here wants it. I want the whole world to see that we don’t want it. We don’t want it to weigh on our conscience for decades.”
Human rights groups say another 725 people were arrested at antiwar protests in Minsk and and other cities across Belarus.
President Biden has nominated federal judge and former public defender Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. She previously served as a clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his retirement in January. Ketanji Brown Jackson would be the first Black woman to sit on the Supreme Court bench. She spoke from the White House Friday after accepting Biden’s nomination.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson: “If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career, my love of this country and the Constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law and the sacred principles upon which this great nation was founded will inspire future generations of Americans.”
A panel of U.N. scientists is warning humanity has a rapidly closing window of opportunity to adapt to a world with more frequent droughts, floods, wildfires and heat waves. In a highly anticipated new report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — or IPCC — finds the impacts of the climate crisis are already worse than predicted, driving poverty, hunger, disease and species extinction.
In El Salvador, prosecutors have charged former President Alfredo Cristiani and former military officers in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests carried out by a U.S.-trained death squad. The priests’ housekeeper and her daughter were also killed. An amnesty that previously shielded those involved in the massacre was lifted in 2016, but so far only one man, Salvadoran Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano, has been held responsible. He was convicted by a Spanish court in 2020 and sentenced to 133 years for the killings of five of the priests, who were from Spain.
Japanese and South Korean officials say North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea Sunday, its eighth such test so far this year. Pyongyang said the test was tied to the development of a satellite system.
As Texans prepare to head to the polls Tuesday in the first primary of the 2022 election cycle, thousands of mail-in ballots have been rejected due to new Republican-enacted voter restrictions. This is Isabel Longoria, elections administrator in Harris County, where 40% of mail-in ballot applications were flagged for rejection.
Isabel Longoria: “The new requirement for mail ballots under the new election laws — again, first election it’s in place — says you must include either your Social Security number or driver’s license number on the application and mail ballot itself for it to be counted. Not only that, but whatever number you put on the ballot has to match up with what we have in your system. … What we are finding is people don’t put their number. They say, ’I’m either worried because of identity theft, or I don’t like including my personal information,’ or 'I didn't see the very small box in fine print under the envelope as I was filling out all other portions.’ So the vast majority are people who just don’t fill out that information for some reason.”
Two progressive candidates — former labor organizer Greg Casar and immigrant human rights lawyer Jessica Cisneros — are hoping to win congressional seats. They have both been endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In Tennessee, a judge ordered a new trial for Pamela Moses, a Black activist who was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register to vote, not knowing she was ineligible due to a felony conviction. New evidence shows a probation officer erroneously signed a document stating Moses’s probation had expired and that she was allowed to vote. Moses is the founder of Black Lives Matter Memphis and a former mayoral candidate.
Here in New York, labor leaders and activists gathered in Brooklyn Saturday to denounce Amazon’s union-busting tactics and to show support for union drives by Amazon and Starbucks workers around the country. Activists also called out the targeting of Black organizers. Last week, the NYPD arrested African American Amazon union leader Chris Smalls and two warehouse workers for allegedly trespassing. Smalls was fired by Amazon in 2020 after organizing against unsafe conditions during the pandemic but has continued leading unionization efforts. This is Brett Daniels, another of the Amazon workers arrested last week.
Brett Daniels: “The very next day for my shift, I was retaliated against and given my first written warning by HR. Yeah, so we clearly saw that as retaliation, and we’re traumatized. We’re honestly traumatized from this. And it’s like it’s so normalized. It’s normalized for the cops to be at our workplace.”