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Updates: France offers asylum to Russian war protester


France is offering protection from the French embassy and asylum to the anti-war activist who interrupted a news program on Russia’s state television, to walk in front of the camera holding a sign that was showing support to stop the Russian aggression in Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron condemned any detention of journalists and hoped that this situation will be clarified “as soon as possible.” As reported by the AP:

Macron spoke after visiting on Tuesday a facility housing Ukrainians fleeing war in western France

The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron said France is offering protection from the French embassy and asylum to the anti-war activist who interrupted a news program on Russia’s state television, holding a poster protesting the war in Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron, second right, listens to a woman refugee as he visits a center for Ukrainian refugees in La Pommeraye, near Mauges-sur-Loire, western France, Tuesday, March 15 2022. The center, run by the group France Horizon, houses around fifty refugees who arrived on March 12 after fleeing the war in Ukraine. (Yoan Valat, Pool via AP)

An independent human rights group that monitors political arrests identified the woman as Marina Ovsyannikova. The group, OVD-Info, posted on its website that Ovsyannikova, who identified herself as an employee of the station, was taken into police custody.

Macron said he will “propose this solution in a direct and very concrete manner” to Russian President Vladimir Putin in their next phone call.

He condemned any detention of journalists and hoped that Ovsyannikova’s situation will be clarified “as soon as possible.”

Macron spoke after visiting on Tuesday a facility housing Ukrainians fleeing war in western France. The country is getting ready to welcome “at least” 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war, he said.

Government officials said about 15,000 Ukrainians have arrived in France so far.

In this photo released by Ukrainian State Emergency Service press service, firefighters evacuate an elderly woman from an apartment building hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. (Ukrainian State Emergency Service via AP)

Ukraine — The city council of Mariupol says 2,000 civilian cars have managed to leave the besieged Ukrainian port city via a humanitarian corridor leading west.

The council said another 2,000 cars are in the city but waiting to leave along the route, which runs for more than 260 kilometers (160 miles) to the Ukraine-held city of Zaporizhzhia.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media the corridor would be open from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.

The council advised drivers to spend the night somewhere along the route rather than drive straight through unless they are already close to Zaporizhzhia by evening.

It was not immediately clear if the total number of cars which had left was for Tuesday only, or if it included 160 cars which left the day before. The city council said nearly 300 people had arrived in Zaporizhzhia as of Tuesday morning, fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A young refugee that fled the war in Ukraine gets aa medical check at the congress center in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. It’s estimated that more than 200,00 refugees that fled Ukraine arrived in the Czech Republic since the start of the war. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

BERLIN — Germany’s IT security agency is warning people not to use antivirus software made by the Russian company Kaspersky.

The agency said Tuesday that the current activities by Russian military and intelligence agencies due to the war in Ukraine pose a “considerable threat” to cybersecurity in the European Union and NATO member states.

The Federal Office for Information Security said that IT companies could carry out attacks, be forced to do so by state authorities or become victims of hacking operations themselves.

The agency urged individuals, companies, and organizations to switch to alternative software.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott is urging the public to bring candles or lights to a Tuesday ceremony where he is scheduled to sign into law a bill that will donate nearly $645,000 in humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.

Scott and other top state officials are scheduled to hold the event at the Statehouse.

Firefighters extinguish fires in an apartment building after being hit by shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

When he asked the Legislature to appropriate the money, Scott said there is nothing a small state like Vermont can do to change the outcome of the Russian war on Ukraine, but he wanted to show support for the country and its people.

LONDON — Britain has announced new sanctions against 350 Russian individuals and entities, hours after Parliament approved legislation allowing the government to take action against people already sanctioned by the U.S., European Union, and Canada.

Those sanctioned include a number of Russian oligarchs, including Alfa Group co-founders Mikhail Fridman and German Khan, as well as former Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, and some of the top governmental spokespeople who have been instrumental in spreading President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.

Parliament met into the early hours of Tuesday morning to pass a new economic crime bill that made it easier for the government to impose sanctions on those linked to the invasion of Ukraine.

ROME — The Italian premier and U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser have agreed on the need to continue “a decisive and unified response” to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Young refugees that fled the war in Ukraine play at a makeshift playground as they wait to get registered at the congress center in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022. It’s estimated that more than 200,00 refugees that fled Ukraine arrived in the Czech Republic since the start of the war. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Premier Mario Draghi’s office said he met with U.S. adviser Jake Sullivan on Tuesday, a day after Sullivan met with a top Chinese official in Rome and warned him about China’s support for Russia in the war.

Draghi’s office said the premier and Sullivan both condemned the “unjustified aggression by Russia and the need to continue pursuing a decisive and unified response to Moscow.” Both men also agreed to intensify bilateral contacts, the statement said.

NATO member Italy has backed sanctions against Moscow after initially seeking to avoid targeting the energy sector. Italy imports some 43% of its natural gas needs from Russia, up from 27% a decade ago.

LONDON — Ukraine’s president has told northern European leaders that they could “help yourself by helping us,” as he appealed for more weapons to counter Russia’s invasion of his country.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking to leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force via videolink Tuesday, said the Ukrainian military is rapidly using up weapons and other hardware that western nations have shipped to his country.

Internally displaced rest inside a school in Lviv, western Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. Overnight, air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns around the country, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west, and fighting continued on the outskirts of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said Russian forces shelled several suburbs of the capital. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

He also appealed for a full trade embargo on Russia, saying sanctions have not been enough to counter the Russian military advance.

“We have to acknowledge Russia as a rogue state and there has to be a trade embargo with Russia,” Zelenskyy said. “This is something that we need, and you need as well, just like the rest of the world, to make sure there is peace in Europe and Ukraine.”

Zelenskyy also repeated his frustration with NATO over its refusal to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine as he addressed JEF leaders meeting Tuesday in London.

The United Kingdom-led JEF is a grouping of 10 north Atlantic countries designed to react quickly to international crises. It includes NATO members such as Britain and the Baltic states, as well as non-NATO countries such as Sweden and Finland.

CHISINAU, Moldova — Italy has signed an agreement worth 10 million euros (US $11 million) to help Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, cope with an influx of Ukrainian refugees.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio signed the cooperation agreement with his Moldovan counterpart, Nicu Popescu, during a visit to the capital Chisinau on Tuesday.

Later in the day, Di Maio is to formally deliver a preliminary eight metric tons of humanitarian aid, including generators, water, thermal blankets, stoves and sanitary kits, to support Moldovan centers housing people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Firefighters pull a rope to direct the fall of a tree while working to extinguish a blaze in a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Russia’s offensive in Ukraine has edged closer to central Kyiv with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood as the leaders of three European Union member countries planned a visit to Ukraine’s embattled capital. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Popescu said Moldova, with a population of 2.5 million, has received around 300,000 refugees so far, a third of whom have remained in the country.

LONDON — The British government says it will raise import duties on vodka and other Russian products and ban the export of luxury goods to Russia.

The measures announced Tuesday are the latest round of economic sanctions designed to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The U.K. Department for International Trade said the measures are designed to hamper Putin’s war machine by depriving Russia of the preferential tariff treatment it receives from membership in the World Trade Organization.

People attend a funeral ceremony for four of the Ukrainian military servicemen, who were killed during an airstrike in a military base in Yarokiv, in a church in Lviv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. At least 35 people were killed and many wounded in Sunday’s Russian missile strike on a military training base near Ukraine’s western border with NATO member Poland. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Russian and Belarusian products ranging from vodka and white fish to iron, oil seeds and grain will face additional import tariffs of 35%.

In addition, the U.K. said it would join with other Group of Seven industrialized countries to ban the export of luxury goods, including luxury vehicles, high-end fashion and works of art, to Russia.

LONDON — Britain’s government says almost 89,000 households have signed up to a program to provide a home for Ukrainian refugees, with so much interest that the registration website crashed within the first few minutes of its launch.

Britain launched its “Homes for Ukraine” program Tuesday. It allows Britons to host a named person from Ukraine for a minimum of six months in their own homes or in rent-free separate housing. In exchange, the government will pay each sponsor 350 pounds ($456) a month.

Officials said there will be no limit on how many Ukrainians can enter the U.K. under the program.

GENEVA — The International Organization for Migration says more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded last month.

The new milestone also indicated that 157,000 third-country nationals — people who aren’t Ukrainian — were part of the outflow in what U.N. officials have called the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Firefighters drink water while working to extinguish a blaze in a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Russia’s offensive in Ukraine has edged closer to central Kyiv with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood as the leaders of three European Union member countries planned a visit to Ukraine’s embattled capital. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

IOM spokesman Paul Dillon said at a U.N. news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that the totals were compiled from figures provided by national authorities.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, which provides a more detailed count than the IOM though based on similar data, has reported that more than 1.8 million of the refugees were in Poland.

UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh said some 300,000 had moved on from there to Western Europe and noted that the vast majority of those fleeing have been women and children.

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey is talking with both Moscow and Kyiv to secure the evacuation of around 100 Turkish citizens trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol.

Dozens of Turkish nationals and others have been sheltering inside a mosque in Mariupol, seeking refuge from the Russian attack on the encircled port on the Sea of Azov.

Turkish defense ministry officials also said Tuesday they hoped the evacuations from Mariupol would begin soon, following a “security evaluation” by Russian authorities.

The officials said roads in the area had been cleared of mines and that work was underway to open humanitarian corridors and for buses to enter Mariupol.

Cavusoglu said Turkey has so far evacuated 14,800 of its citizens from Ukraine.

BEIJING — China insists that its stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “impartial and constructive.”

Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze in a destroyed apartment building after a bombing in a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 15, 2022. Russia’s offensive in Ukraine has edged closer to central Kyiv with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood as the leaders of three European Union member countries planned a visit to Ukraine’s embattled capital. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The Chinese government is also repeating its accusations that the U.S. is spreading misinformation over reports Beijing has responded positively to a Russian request for military supplies.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the U.S. of “immoral and irresponsible” conduct by spreading misinformation.

“What the U.S. should do is to deeply reflect on the role it has played in the development and evolving of the Ukraine crisis and do something practical to ease the tension in Ukraine,” he said, in a nod to China’s contention that Russia was provoked by NATO’s expansion and threats to its security.

The Biden administration is increasingly concerned that China is using the Ukraine war to advance Beijing’s long-term interests in its global competition for influence with the United States.

China has refused to criticize Russia over its invasion and the ensuing war, or even to refer to the conflict as such.

NEW YORK — Russian soccer player Artem Dzyuba has declined a call-up to the national team because he has family in Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russian forces.

The 33-year-old forward is the joint top scorer of the Russian men’s national team and is its former captain.

Russian coach Valery Karpin said on the Russian Football Union website Tuesday that “in connection with the difficult situation in Ukraine, where many of his relatives live,” Dzyuba had asked to be excused from the national team for family reasons.

FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government via teleconference in Moscow, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

Russia called up 27 players Tuesday for a national team training camp as it challenges a ruling by FIFA, the sport’s world governing body, barring it from playing international games.

Russia was set to host Poland on March 24 for a World Cup qualifying playoff semifinal. Poland cited the war in refusing to play against Russia, with FIFA and European soccer authority UEFA later banning Russian national and club teams from their international competitions.

LVIV, Ukraine — Local authorities say the number of people killed in a Russian rocket attack on a TV tower in western Ukraine has risen to 19.

The Rivne regional government posted on its Facebook page Tuesday that 19 people were killed and nine were injured in the strike on the TV tower in Antopol, a village outside the city of Rivne.

The village is only 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the border of NATO member Poland and comes as Russia presses its invasion of Ukraine.

KYIV, Ukraine — Outside a Kyiv apartment block hit by overnight Russian shelling, a young firefighter took a moment to rest Tuesday. He sat on the ground, tears falling.

He described rescuing a woman and her daughter and fighting through a flaming corridor before facing a problem with his equipment that forced him to leave.

“It’s very difficult. Yesterday we extinguished one fire, today another, it is very difficult,” said the firefighter, who would give only his first name, Andriy.

FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron, left, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the fort of Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France, Monday Aug. 19, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

“People are dying, and the worst thing is that children are dying,” he told The Associated Press at the scene. “They haven’t lived their lives and they have already seen this. This is the worst.”

After a brief pause, he went back into the fiery building.

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday underscored his drive for energy independence, saying the West’s failure to wean itself from Russian oil and natural gas after the annexation of Crimea paved the way for the invasion of Ukraine.

Western countries made a “terrible mistake” in returning to normal economic relations with Russia after the Crimean incursion and becoming even more dependent on Russian energy exports, Johnson wrote in a front-page article in The Telegraph newspaper.

“And so, when (Vladimir Putin) finally came to launch his vicious war in Ukraine, he knew the world would find it very hard to punish him. He knew that he had created an addiction,” he said. “That is why he feels able to bomb maternity hospitals. That is why he is emboldened enough to launch indiscriminate assaults on fleeing families.”

Ending the world’s dependence on Russian energy will starve Putin of cash, Johnson said as he made the case for the U.K. government’s plan to phase out imports of oil and gas from Russia by the end of this year.

To replace Russian energy and cut carbon emissions, the U.K. must expand production of wind power, and invest in other forms of renewable energy including solar, tidal, geothermal and hydroelectric power plants, Johnson said. The U.K. must also reverse the “historic mistake” of moving away from nuclear energy, he said.

A woman carries her cat near a destroyed bridge as she flees from her hometown on the road towards Kyiv, in the town of Irpin, some 25 km (16 miles) northwest of Kyiv, Saturday, March 12, 2022. Kyiv northwest suburbs such as Irpin and Bucha have been enduring Russian shellfire and bombardments for over a week prompting residents to leave their home. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says Russia may be planning to install a pro-Moscow government in Kherson, a Ukrainian city it has occupied, as it attempts to assert “political control” over areas of Ukraine.

The Ministry of Defense says Russia “may seek to stage a ‘referendum’ in Kherson in an attempt to legitimize the area as a ‘breakaway republic’ similar to Donetsk and Luhansk and Crimea.”

U.K. Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly said any attempt at local referendums would “be another attempt to put a veneer of credibility on what is an unacceptable, unjustified illegal invasion.”

In an intelligence update, the defense ministry says protests have been held against occupying Russian forces in the cities of Melitopol, Berdyansk and Kherson, where troops fired warning shots at demonstrators on Monday.

It says Russia has reportedly installed its own mayor in the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol following the alleged abduction of his predecessor on Friday, and the mayor of another city, Dniprorudne, has also reportedly been abducted by Russian forces.

WARSAW, Poland — The leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia are traveling on Tuesday to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital which is currently under fire, on a European Union mission to show support for Ukraine as Russia’s invasion intensifies.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a tweet: “The aim of the visit is to express the European Union’s unequivocal support for Ukraine and its freedom and independence.”

He will be joined by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Polish the deputy prime minister for security but also the conservative ruling party leader.

FILE – Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Monday, March 7, 2022. Russia’s unsubstantiated theory that the U.S. has been operating biological weapons labs in Ukraine has been gaining traction in China, where the government has amplified the claim with its own allegations in an escalation of what American officials have dubbed an “information war.” (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Russia’s offensive in Ukraine edged closer to central Kyiv on Tuesday, with a series of strikes hitting a residential neighborhood in the capital as the two countries planned a second day of talks.

KYIV, Ukraine – A series of Russian strikes hit a residential neighborhood of Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday, igniting a huge fire and frantic rescue effort in a 15-story Kyiv apartment building. At least one person was killed, and others remain trapped inside.

The Ukrainian military said artillery strikes hit the Svyatoshynskyi district of western Kyiv, adjacent to the suburb of Irpin that has seen some of the worst battles of the war.

Flames shot out of the apartment building as firefighters rescued people from ladders. Smoke choked the air.

A firefighter at the scene confirmed one person died and that several have been rescued alive, but others are still inside as rescuers try to reach them.

Russian forces also stepped-up strikes overnight on the northwest suburbs of Irpin, Hostomel and Bucha, the head of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

Russian forces also renewed efforts Tuesday to capture the important port city of Mariupol in the south, and unleashed new artillery strikes on downtown Kharkiv in the east, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook.

A man looks at a burned apartment building that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

TOKYO — Japan’s government is freezing the assets of 17 more Russian politicians tycoons and their relatives to step up sanctions and pressure Moscow to end its invasion of Ukraine.

The list of sanction targets include 11 members of the Russian parliamentary chamber of Duma, banker Yuri Kovalchuk and his relatives, as well as billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of Renova Group, according to a statement jointly issued by the foreign, finance and trade ministries.

The move brings the number of Russians targeted by Japan’s asset freezes to 61.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Tuesday the additional steps were taken “in order to stop Russia’s invasion (of Ukraine) as soon as possible.”

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations will continue Tuesday.

Speaking in a video address, Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian delegation did good work during Monday’s talks. He didn’t provide further details.

He said he spoke Monday to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as part of efforts to “quickly end the war” and achieve “honest peace.” Bennett, who has sought to mediate a peaceful settlement, also spoke Monday to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

FILE – A car burns at the side of a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka, File)

Zelenskyy hailed a Russian state TV employee who interrupted the main evening news program on Russian Channel 1 by running into a studio with a poster against the war in Ukraine. The employee was later arrested by police.

The Ukrainian president again addressed the Russian soldiers, urging them to stop fighting and saying: “I’m offering you a chance to survive.”

In a bid to shore up the economy badly battered by the war; Zelenskyy announced a plan to sharply reduce taxes for business.

By The Associated Press undefined

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