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Live Updates: Pentagon Rejects Poland's Fighter Jet Offer for Ukraine
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By Associated Press
Published 2 years ago on
March 8, 2022

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The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

WARSAW, Poland — The Pentagon on Tuesday rejected Poland’s offer to give the United States its MiG-29 fighter jets for use by Ukraine, in a rare public display of disharmony by NATO allies seeking to boost Ukrainian fighters while avoiding getting caught up in a wider war with Russia.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Poland’s proposal earlier Tuesday to deliver the jets to the U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany raised the concerning prospect of jets departing from a U.S. and NATO base to fly into airspace contested with Russia in the Ukraine war.

“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Kirby said in a statement.

“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” he said.

Any such decision would be a morale booster for Ukraine as Russian attacks on its cities deepen the humanitarian catastrophe. But it also raises the risks of a wider war.

Ukraine has been pleading for more warplanes and Washington has been looking at a proposal under which Poland would supply Ukraine with the Mig29s and in turn receive American F-16s to make up for their loss. Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly the Soviet-era fighter jets.

US Intelligence: Russia Underestimated Ukraine

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s top intelligence official said Tuesday the U.S. believes Russia underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance before launching an invasion that has likely caused thousands of Russian casualties.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told a congressional panel that U.S. officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin feels “aggrieved” by Russia’s failure to subdue Ukraine and that he perceives that he cannot afford to lose the war. But what Putin might consider a victory could change given the escalating costs of the conflict to Russia, Haines said.

Despite Putin’s announcement that he would raise Russia’s alert level for nuclear weapons, Haines said the U.S. has not observed unusual changes in Russia’s nuclear force posture.

Haines said it is “unclear at this stage” whether Russia will try to conquer all of Ukraine, something that would require more resources than Putin has committed.

A woman holds a baby in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Dispute Over Safe Exit Corridors Continues

The Russian military offered again on Tuesday to provide humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave five Ukrainian cities after several previous attempts to establish safe exits have failed.

Ukrainian officials said that Russian shelling again made it impossible for civilians to use the corridors on Tuesday despite a deal reached a day earlier. The Russian military has countered the claim, alleging that Ukraine only has allowed civilians to use one corridor from the city of Sumy and blocked other routes from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol.

Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Tuesday that the Russian military has announced it will stop firing at 10 a.m. Wednesday to let civilians leave safely via the corridors. He suggested setting up a hotline between Russia and Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation.

Israel Will Host 25,000 Refugees

JERUSALEM — Israel said Tuesday it will provide temporary refuge to some 25,000 Ukrainians outside of its Law of Return, under which all Jews are eligible for citizenship.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement that 20,000 Ukrainians who were in Israel without legal status before the outbreak of fighting will be shielded from repatriation “until the danger subsides.” Another 5,000 Ukrainians will initially be granted three-month visas and will be allowed to work if the fighting continues beyond then. Ukrainians can apply for the program online through the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website.

Israel expects to absorb around 100,000 Ukrainians through its Law of Return, under which Jews from anywhere in the world can come to Israel and get citizenship, Shaked said.

Established in the wake of the Holocaust, Israel views itself as a refuge for Jews fleeing war and persecution worldwide. But it has been reluctant to absorb non-Jewish immigrants, including Africans fleeing conflict and poverty.

It has also refused to allow the return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation. Israel says allowing the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants — who now number more than 5 million — would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state.

High Nickel Prices Affect EVs

DETROIT — Skyrocketing nickel prices are likely to ripple through the auto industry and raise costs in the nascent global market for electric vehicles.

Nickel is a key component in automotive battery cathodes, and Russia is the third-largest producer of the metal. Trading of the commodity was suspended Tuesday on the London Metal Exchange after nickel prices doubled to an unprecedented $100,000 per metric ton.

The LME said trading did not resume Tuesday, and the suspension could last longer given the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nickel prices have quadrupled in a week over supply issues, and the spike Tuesday forced the LME to shut down electronic and floor trading.

Large automakers General Motors and Toyota said nickel supplies haven’t been affected yet. But a Toyota spokesman in the U.S. said the company is watching the prices. Toyota has seen costs of nearly all precious metals rise, so it’s only a matter of time until it feels the increases, the spokesman said. Tesla, the world’s largest electric vehicle maker, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

A Belarusian volunteer receives military training at the Belarusian Company base in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Hundreds of Belarus’ emigrants and citizens have arrived in Ukraine to help the Ukrainian army fight against Russian invaders. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

McDonald’s Closing Russian Restaurants

DETROIT — McDonald’s said Tuesday it is temporarily closing all of its 850 restaurants in Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The burger giant said it will continue paying its 62,000 employees in Russia. But in an open letter to employees, McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempckinski said closing those stores is the right thing to do because McDonald’s can’t ignore the “needless human suffering in Ukraine.”

McDonald’s owns 84% of its Russian restaurants. In a recent financial filing, the company said Russia and Ukraine contributed 9% of the company’s revenue last year.

Unilever Pulls the Plug on Russia

LONDON — Consumer goods conglomerate Unilever said Tuesday that it has suspended all imports and exports of its products into and out of Russia, and that it will not invest any further capital into the country.

The company condemned the war in Ukraine as “a brutal and senseless act by the Russian state” Tuesday. It said it will continue to supply everyday essential food and hygiene products that are made in Russia to people there, but will keep that under review.

Unilever, which owns hundreds of food and personal care brands including Hellmann’s and Dove, also said it has stopped business operations in Ukraine and will instead focus on helping its employees.

Zelenskyy Echoes Churchill

LONDON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy evoked British wartime leader Winston Churchill as he told the U.K. Parliament that his country would fight Russia’s invasion to the end in Ukraine’s cities, fields and riverbanks.

Zelenskyy told British lawmakers “we will not give up and we will not lose,” in a speech that evoked Churchill’s stirring “never surrender” speech during the darkest days of World War II.

Speaking by video from Ukraine to a packed House of Commons chamber, Zelenskyy urged Britain to increase sanctions on Russia and to recognize Russia as “a terrorist country.”

Tuesday’s address was the first time a foreign leader was allowed to speak in the House of Commons. Screens and simultaneous translation headsets were set up in the House of Commons so lawmakers could hear him.

 

Blinken Meets With French President

PARIS — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to discuss the response to Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Macron was briefing Blinken on his most recent round of conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is pressing ahead with the Ukraine invasion despite global condemnation and severe sanctions being imposed on his country.

The two men were also to discuss the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, which are nearing an end with conflicting signals about whether the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s atomic program can be salvaged.

Blinken arrived in Paris for a two-hour stop from a tour of the Baltic states, Moldova and Poland where he heard firsthand dire concerns about Russia’s actions from leaders.

An elderly woman is coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Efforts to put in place cease-fires along humanitarian corridors have repeatedly failed amid Russian shelling. (AP/Vadim Ghirda)

Dutch Want to Put Surface-to-Air Missiles in Slovakia

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch defense ministry says it is working with Germany to station Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Slovakia at the request of NATO.

Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said Tuesday that the Dutch ruling coalition agrees “in principle” to the deployment on the alliance’s eastern flank as a defensive measure.

Ollongren says that some 150-200 Dutch troops will head east with the missile system as soon as the Cabinet gives formal approval. The defense ministry said the missiles can take down airplanes, helicopters, and cruise missiles up to an altitude of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).

The Dutch military’s Patriot systems have previously seen service in both Gulf wars and were stationed in southern Turkey from 2013-2015 to intercept missiles from Syria.

Germany announced late last month that it planned to send Patriots to Slovakia.

Canada Will Keep Troops Stationed in Latvia

BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that Canada will prolong its military mission in Latvia in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine and plans to send more troops there soon.

Canada’s Operation Reassurance is conducting training and exercises alongside its NATO partners in Latvia to help deter Russia from launching an attack on any of the Baltic states or Poland.

“This mission was set to expire next year and in light of the situation in Europe, we decided to renew it ahead of schedule,” Trudeau said. He says 130 more Canadian personnel would join it in the coming weeks.

Trudeau also defended Canada’s decision to supply lethal aid to Ukraine, including rocket launchers and hand grenades, despite some weapons shortfalls at home.

“All those weapons are much more useful right now and in the coming weeks, in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their lives than they would be in Canadian hands,” he said.

Speaking alongside Trudeau at the Adazi military base in Latvia, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Spain is also set to send around 150 more troops to the Baltic state to bolster its presence there.

Britain Joins Russian Oil Ban

LONDON — Britain is joining the United States in announcing a ban on imports of Russian oil.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng says oil and oil products from Russia will be phased out by the end of the year. He said the transition period “will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports,” which account for 8% of U.K. demand.

Kwarteng said the U.K. would work with its other oil suppliers, including the U.S., the Netherlands, and the Gulf states, to secure extra supplies.

President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine. It follows pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to U.S. and Western officials to cut off the imports, which had been a glaring omission in the massive sanctions put in place on Russia over the invasion.

Adidas Halts Russian Sales

LONDON — Sports apparel and shoe company Adidas is the latest Western brand to halt its operations in Russia because of the Ukraine invasion.

The company said Tuesday that it has suspended the operations of its retail stores and e-commerce website in Russia until further notice, though it continues to pay its employees there.

Adidas, based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, said it will make future business decisions and take action as needed, “prioritizing our employee’s safety and support.”

“As a company, we strongly condemn any form of violence and stand in solidarity with those calling for peace,” the company said in a statement.

It’s also donating 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to refugee and children’s charities and clothing to the Global Aid Network for people in Ukraine and neighboring countries.

Last week, Adidas suspended its partnership with the Russian Football Union. Nike has also shut its stores in Russia.

Sales in Russia account for only about 3% of Adidas’s total global revenue, according to company data.

Russians Kicked Out of Atom Smasher Project

GENEVA — The international scientific laboratory that is home to the world’s largest atom smasher says it is suspending Russia’s observer status and halting any new collaboration with Russia or its institutions “until further notice.”

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, said its 23 member states — all European, plus Israel — condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is one of seven associate member states, and Russia, like the United States, Japan and the European Union, has had observer status.

The CERN council made the decisions about Russia at a special meeting on Tuesday and expressed its support “to the many members of CERN’s Russian scientific community who reject this invasion.”

CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator.

Finland Sends Ambulances, Fire Trucks

HELSINKI — Finland will donate 15 decommissioned ambulances and two fire trucks to Ukraine, and they are expected to be delivered in the country within a week, Finnish media outlets say.

Ten of the ambulances come from hospital districts across Finland and five from rescue services, Finnish public broadcaster YLE said Tuesday.

The ambulances have just recently been taken out of service, YLE said, quoting health and rescue officials. Decommissioned ambulances are usually sold, but now it was decided to donate them to Ukraine, YLE said.

Finland will also give humanitarian help to Moldova including a field kitchen, five large multi-purpose tents for emergency accommodation and two shower tents to be used by refugees from Ukraine.

A Danish ambulance services and patient transportation company Falck said last week that it donated 30 ambulances to Ukraine and neighboring countries.

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