Russian tension risk seen in Finnish NATO bid

HELSINKI — Finland’s president says his country would likely be targeted by Russian cyber warfare and could face border violations if it decides to apply for membership in NATO.

Several polls in recent weeks have shown a majority of Finns now supporting NATO membership, up from 25 percent at most before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview Saturday with public broadcaster YLE that the biggest benefit would be “gaining a preventive effect.”

But he pointed to a risk of disruptive behavior by Russia during an accession process, which would take at least months.

He said an application would lead to tensions at Finland’s 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, including the possibility of “robust” border and territorial violations — not just by Russian aircraft, as Finland has experienced in the past.

Moscow has said it would consider European Union members Finland and neighboring Sweden joining NATO a hostile move that would have serious military and political repercussions.

Deaths, injuries and kidnappings: Ukrainian nonprofit outlines “crimes” against journalists

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, five journalists have been killed, seven have been injured, six have been kidnapped and and one remains missing, according to an independent journalism nonprofit. 

The Institute of Mass Information said it has documented 148 “crimes” against journalists the press in Ukraine between Feb. 24 and March 24.

While the institute did not explicitly detail what constitutes a crime, it said in a statement Thursday that each had been “verified and documented.” 

In addition to the five journalists killed in the line of work, it said three others were killed in the fighting or as a result of Russian shelling. Among the abducted journalists, torture had been recorded, it added. 

Reporters Without Borders echoed those findings in a report on Friday which cited death kidnapping and enforced disappearance of journalists in Ukraine.

According to the institute, at least 70 regional media outlets had been forced to close down due to threats from Russian forces, newsroom seizures and issues such as disruptions to printing and distribution.

‘Generations of hurt’: Children and grandchildren of war survivors fear ripple effect of Russia’s war in Ukraine

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stretches into a second month, descendants of survivors of previous conflicts say they fear the war there could leave lasting scars on Ukrainians living through it — as well as the generations that follow them.

It’s a psychological phenomenon is known as generational trauma. Most widely studied among children of Holocaust survivors, generational trauma, also called intergenerational or transgenerational trauma, refers to the effects of trauma that get passed down a family’s lineage, changing the lives of not just those who experienced a traumatic event but subsequent generations who never had direct exposure to it. 

Read the full article here.

March 25, 202202:09

Russian forces take Chernobyl workers’ town; fighting in centre of Mariupol

MARIUPOL/LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces have taken control of a town where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live, the governor of Kyiv region said on Saturday, and fighting was reported in the streets of the besieged southern port of Mariupol.

After more than four weeks of conflict, Russia has failed to seize any major Ukrainian city and on Friday Moscow signalled it was scaling back its military ambitions to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists in the east.

However, intense fighting was reported in a number of places on Saturday, suggesting there would be no swift let-up in the conflict, which has killed thousands of people, sent some 3.7 million abroad and driven more than half of Ukraine’s children from their homes, according to the United Nations.

March 26, 202202:16

Drobitsky Yar Holocaust memorial damaged by Russian forces, Ukraine says

Russian forces fired on a Holocaust memorial near the city of Kharkiv, damaging the site, Ukraine’s ministry of defense said Saturday.

An estimated 15,000 Jews were shot or forced into mass graves at Drobitsky Yar, a ravine outside of the eastern Ukrainian city.

The ministry of defense posted a photo of the memorial’s damaged menorah on Twitter, saying “The Nazis have returned. Exactly 80 years later.”

Rhetoric about Nazism has featured heavily in this war: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated reason for invading Ukraine was to rid the country of so-called Nazi elements. Experts have slammed the allegations as slanderous and false

‘My heart was breaking’: U.S. doctors, nurses bring aid, medical skills to Ukraine

Janet Semenova-Hornstein remembers the moment in early March when, watching the images of war in Ukraine, she knew she had to do something. 

“My heart was breaking, seeing all those women and children,” she said.

A pediatric nurse practitioner in Scottsdale, Arizona, Semenova-Hornstein was born in the former Soviet Union, in Uzbekistan, and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was 7. Like her friend, Dr. Svetlana Reznikova-Steinway, who was born and raised in Ukraine and is now an emergency room physician in Mesa, she felt a connection to the region because of her family roots. 

“Svetlana and I looked at each other and said, ‘What can we do?’” she said. “We both speak Russian. She speaks Ukrainian. We have medical skills. We were two moms living in Arizona, but we knew we had to take our skills and physically do something.”

Enlisting the help of two more friends with medical backgrounds — Dr. Cheryl Macy, an emergency room physician in Phoenix, and Carla Stark, an oncology nurse in the Scottsdale area — they began assembling donations of medical supplies. Within 72 hours, they collected 800 pounds of bandages, antibiotics and urgently needed medicines, including insulin, as well as $50,000 in monetary contributions.

Read the full story here.

Internally displaced people look out from a bus at a refugee center in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, on Friday.

Evgeniy Maloletka / AP
March 25, 202202:39

Zelenskyy urges energy producers in Doha to boost output

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday urged energy-producing nations to boost their output so that Russia cannot use its energy to “blackmail” the world. 

In a virtual address to the Doha Forum in Qatar, Zelenskyy stressed that energy exporters can help “restore justice” and stabilize Europe.

“I ask you to increase the output of energy to ensure that everyone in Russia understands that no country can use energy as a weapon and blackmail,” he said. 

He noted that Russia’s war is endangering more than 1 million Muslims in Ukraine — and that the conflict’s disruption of exports will be felt throughout the Muslim world.

“We have to have an antiwar coalition do it all together to ensure that the sacred month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by misery,” Zelensky added. 

Biden’s busy schedule in Poland gets underway

President Biden added another item to his busy agenda in Poland on Saturday — dropping by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III’s joint meeting with their Ukrainian counterparts.

His trip to Poland caps three days in Europe, where Biden met with world leaders to solidify their unity around pressure against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Biden is slated to meet with President of Poland Andrzej Duda at the presidential palace in Warsaw on Saturday to discuss how the U.S. and its allies are responding to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

He’ll then meet with Ukrainian refugees and the mayor of Warsaw before delivering a major address about the war in Ukraine.

In that evening speech, Biden is expected to stress the need for unity in the fact of Russian aggression and holding Russia accountable for its actions. 

More than 100,000 people left Ukraine on Friday, state border service says

More than 100,000 people left Ukraine on Friday, the country’s state border service said in a statement early Saturday.

The State Border Guard Service said more than 66,000 people crossed the country’s western borders with the European Union and Moldova during the day on Friday, calling the flow of traffic “constant.”

It added that nearly 45,000 people left Ukraine that night — with the majority crossing into Poland.

More than 3.7 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s February invasion, according to the United Nations.

Russian forces have entered Slavutych, Ukrainian official says

Russian forces have entered the northern city of Slavutych, which is home to workers from the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant, according to a Ukrainian official.

Slavutych was built to house Chernobyl workers following the plant’s deadly 1986 nuclear disaster

Oleksandr Pavliuk, governor of Kyiv’s regional military administration, said in a Telegram message Saturday that Russian forces had “invaded” Slavutych and seized its hospital. He said citizens had gathered in the city square for a pro-Ukraine rally. 

Photos posted on Facebook by Slavutych’s city council showed a large group of people in the main square, unfurling a giant Ukrainian flag.

NBC News was not able to independently verify the claims, though officials have been warning for days that Russian troops were close to the city and that it was impossible to evacuate. On Friday, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych they had fended off an initial attack on the city. 

Putin designates service members involved in Ukraine invasion as combat veterans

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that designates service members involved in the war in Ukraine as combat veterans. 

The law, which is published on a Russian government website, said that employees of law enforcement and security agencies involved in conflict will also be considered combat veterans, according to a translation. It referred to the ongoing invasion as a special military operation, the language consistently used by Putin and Russian forces to describe the war in Ukraine. 

In an effort to crackdown on dissent in the country, the Kremlin made it illegal and punishable by 15 years in prison to refer to its invasion in Ukraine as a “war.”

Russia to continue using ‘heavy firepower’ in Ukrainian cities, U.K. says

Russia looks set to continue using “heavy firepower” in urban areas and incur further civilian casualties in Ukraine, Britain’s defense ministry said.

In an intelligence update published Saturday, it noted that Russia continues to besiege several cities — including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol — but that its troops appear “reluctant to engage in large scale urban infantry operations,” preferring instead to rely on “indiscriminate” air and artillery bombardments.

“It is likely Russia will continue to use its heavy firepower on urban areas as it looks to limit its own already considerable losses,” the update added. 

A destroyed Russian tank is seen in this image provided by the Ukrainian Ground Forces, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Trostianets, in the Sumy region on Friday.

Image: Destroyed Russian tank is seen near the town of Trostianets
March 25, 202202:14

Biden to rally support for Ukraine efforts in speech from Warsaw

WARSAW — President Joe Biden will give what he intends to be a major address here Saturday about the stakes for the world and the path ahead for a war in Ukraine that is only likely to intensify.

Ahead of the speech, Biden plans to meet with Ukrainian refugees who have flooded into Poland. In Warsaw, where Biden is set to deliver his speech, more than 300,000 refugees have arrived, with many seeking temporary shelter in a sports arena, and a steady flow continuing to come into the city’s train station each day.

March 25, 202202:14

“He will speak to the stakes of this moment, the urgency of the challenge that lies ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world, and why it is so important that the free world sustain unity and resolve in the face of Russian aggression,” said Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.

Read the full story here.

Ukraine war has killed 136 children, the country’s prosecutor general says

The war in Ukraine has killed 136 children, the country’s prosecutor general said in a Telegram post on Sunday.

It added that 199 children have been injured and that the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv saw the highest numbers of child casualties.

NBC News has not been able to verify the numbers.

The prosecutor’s message came after the United Nations said Friday that more than 1,080 civilians had been killed in the war, though the true toll is likely “considerably higher.”


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