Live updates: Russian forces step up attacks on Ukraine’s civilian areas

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The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces stepped up their attacks on populated urban areas Tuesday, bombarding the central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower.

Ukraine’s president accused Moscow of a blatant campaign of terror and vowed: “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget.” With the Kremlin increasingly isolated by tough economic sanctions that have tanked the ruble currency, Russian troops advanced on Ukraine’s two biggest cities.

In strategic Kharkiv, explosions tore through the region’s Soviet-era administrative building and residential areas on Day 6 of an invasion that has shaken the 21st century world order.

Ukrainian authorities said five people were killed and five wounded in the attack on the Kyiv TV tower

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian troops have intensified shelling of Ukraine, calling it an effort to force his government into making concessions during talks held Monday.

In a video address late Monday, Zelenskyy says that “the talks were taking place against the backdrop of bombing and shelling of our territory, our cities. Synchronizing of the shelling with the negotiating process was obvious. I believe Russia is trying to put pressure (on Ukraine) with this simple method.”

The president gave no details about the hours-long talks themselves. But he says Ukraine is not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting each other with rocket artillery.”

Zelenskyy says that Kyiv, the capital, remains “a key goal” for the Russians and that Russian forces have also shelled the city of Kharkiv with rocket artillery.

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LOS ANGELES — Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation says equipment to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service has arrived in his country.

Mykhailo Fedorov thanked SpaceX founder Elon Musk for the equipment in a Twitter post Monday that was accompanied by a photo of boxes on the back of a truck.

Musk replied with his own tweet saying: “You are most welcome.”

The tech billionaire said over the weekend that Starlink was now “active” in Ukraine and more equipment to use it was on the way. That followed a public request from Fedorov for the service.

Starlink is a satellite-based internet system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. It markets itself as “ideally suited” for areas where internet service is unreliable or unavailable.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president has signed a decree temporarily lifting the requirement for entry visas for any foreigner willing to join Ukraine’s International Defense Legion and fight on Ukraine’s side against invading Russian troops.

The decree by President Volorymyr Zelenskyy takes effect Tuesday and will remain in effect as long as martial law is in place.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Orthodox bishops are calling on their superior in Moscow to urge Russia’s leadership to stop the war in Ukraine.

The Holy Synod – the governing body of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church — asked Moscow Patriarch Kirill to call on Russian leaders to stop hostilities. The appeal shows a growing chasm between Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, and his own bishops in Ukraine over the war.

Patriarch Kirill has long had friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In statements to date, he has called for an end to “fratricidal” war in Ukraine, but he has not assigned blame for the conflict and has emphasized a call for Orthodox unity.

While the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is under the ultimate authority of Kirill, it also enjoys considerable autonomy. Its synod also called for divine intervention on behalf of Ukraine’s army.

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TORONTO — Canada will be supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons systems, upgraded ammunition and is banning all imports of crude oil from Russia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the shipments are addition to the three previous shipments of lethal and non-lethal equipment. Canada announced this week it would be sending new shipments of military supplies, including body armor, helmets, gas masks, and night-vision goggles.

Canada does not import much oil from Russia.

Trudeau called for the end to the war, saying its costs would only grow grow steeper and that those responsible will be held accountable.

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UNITED NATIONS — The United States says it is expelling 12 Russian diplomats at the United Nations for engaging in activities not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats.

U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Mills confirmed the expulsions after Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the U.N. Security Council on Monday afternoon that he had just been informed of “yet another hostile step undertaken by the host country” against the Russian Mission.

Nebenzia called the U.S. expulsions a “gross violation” of the U.N. agreement with the United States as the host of the United Nations and of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union has slapped sanctions on 26 more Russians, including oligarchs, senior officials and an energy insurance company, in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, bringing the total of people targeted to 680.

EU headquarters said those listed include “oligarchs and businessmen active in the oil, banking and finance sectors,” government officials, top military brass and “propagandists who contributed to spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda and promote a positive attitude towards the invasion of Ukraine.”

The bloc had already imposed an asset freeze on President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. No travel ban was imposed to allow the two men to take part in any diplomatic efforts, should Russia consider bringing an end to the war on its former Soviet neighbor.

EU sanctions now apply to a total of 680 people and 53 entities, which are usually organizations, agencies, banks or companies. Gas Industry Insurance Company SOGAZ was listed Monday.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Satellite images show Russian troops are attacking Ukraine on multiple fronts and are advancing on the capital city of Kyiv.

On Monday, a convoy consisting of hundreds of armored vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was just 17 miles (25 kilometers) from the center of Kyiv. The city is home to nearly 3 million residents.

The images from Maxar Technologies also captured signs of fighting outside Kyiv, including destroyed vehicles and a damaged bridge.

BEREGSURANY, Hungary (AP) — The mass exodus of refugees from Ukraine to the eastern edge of the European Union has showed no signs of stopping as they flee Russia’s burgeoning war.

The U.N. estimated Monday that more than 500,000 people have already escaped.

Long lines of cars and buses were backed up at checkpoints at the borders of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and non-EU member Moldova.

Others crossed the borders on foot and dragged their possessions away from the war and into the security of the EU.

Several hundred refugees were gathered at a temporary reception center in the Hungarian border village of Beregsurany. They awaited transportation to transit hubs that could take them further into Hungary and beyond.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists his country “won’t give up” on its relations with either Russia or Ukraine, but says it will implement an international convention that allows Turkey to shut down the straits at the entrance of the Black Sea to the warships of “belligerent countries.”

The 1936 Montreux Convention gives Turkey the right to bar warships from using the Dardanelles and the Bosporus during wartime. Ukraine has asked Turkey to implement the treaty and bar access to Russian warships.

Several Russian ships have already sailed through the straits to the Black Sea in the past weeks and it was not clear how much of an impact Turkey’s decision to close down the straits would have on the conflict. The convention, also provides an exception for Black Sea vessels returning to port.

Turkey has criticized Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, but has also been trying to balance its close ties to Ukraine with its interests in not upsetting its fragile economic relationship with Russia.

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GENEVA — Russian teams have been suspended from international soccer after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decision came Monday from FIFA and UEFA, saying Russia’s national teams and clubs were suspended “until further notice.”

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” FIFA and UEFA said. “Both presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”

UEFA also ended its sponsorship with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The move comes as the International Olympic Committee urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including soccer’s World Cup. The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.

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GENEVA — International sports bodies are moving to further isolate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and push Moscow closer to becoming a pariah on the playing field.

The International Olympic Committee on Monday urged sports bodies to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international events, including soccer’s World Cup. The Olympic body’s call also applied to athletes and officials from Belarus, which has abetted Russia’s invasion by allowing its territory to be used to station troops and launch military attacks.

The IOC said it was needed to “protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants.”

The decision opened the way for FIFA, the governing body of soccer, to exclude Russia from the World Cup ahead of a qualifying playoff on March 24. Poland already has refused to play the scheduled game against Russia.

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MOSCOW — The first round of Ukraine-Russia talks aimed at ending the fighting between Moscow and its smaller neighbor concluded with no immediate agreements.

An aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin says talks with Ukrainian officials lasted nearly five hours.

Vladimir Medinsky headed the Russian delegation in Belarus. He said the two sides “found certain points on which common positions could be foreseen.”

Another round of talks was agreed to, Medinsky said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, gave few details except to say that the talks, held near the Ukraine-Belarus border, were focused on a possible cease-fire and that a second round could take place “in the near future.”

“The next meeting will take place in the coming days on the Polish-Belarusian border, there is an agreement to that effect,” Medinsky said.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has signed an application for Ukraine to join the European Union.

The action comes five days after Russia invaded its smaller neighbor, touching off widespread international condemnation and offers of military assistance from the 27-member nation EU and elsewhere.

Andrii Sybiha, head of Zelenskyy’s office, said on his official Facebook page that the documents “are on the way to Brussels.”

Photos of Zelenskyy were posted in Facebook. He was flanked by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and chairman of the parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk.

“The history is being created now,” the post said.

The application was largely symbolic, however. The process could take years. EU membership must be unanimously approved by all members. Ukraine has been weakened by endemic corruption for many years, making the benchmarks of approval extremely hard to reach.

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