WASHINGTON — Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers say the United States is delaying providing some intelligence to Ukraine in its fight against Russia as the U.S. also seeks to limit any direct confrontation with Moscow.

The White House insists it is consistently sharing intelligence with Ukraine quickly. But a classified directive issued as the invasion began last week set effective limits on how quickly some tactical intelligence — the kind that shapes minute-to-minute battle decisions — could be shared, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The directive from the Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence also limited sharing details about the specific locations of potential targets, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss intelligence matters. More details about the directive were not immediately available.

The issuance of the directive reflects the fine line the U.S. is walking as it seeks to aid Ukraine while avoiding a direct conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. It is sending anti-aircraft weaponry and other arms to Ukraine and leads a global effort to impose severe sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy. But it also has ruled out sending American troops to Ukraine or declaring a no-fly zone that could result at U.S. forces engaging with Russian warplanes.

The sharing of intelligence can be especially delicate because of the risk of revealing U.S. sources and methods and the uncertainty of whether Russia may have infiltrated the Ukrainian government.

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Ukrainian drone enthusiasts sign up to repel Russian forces

In better times, Ukrainian drone enthusiasts flew their gadgets into the sky to photograph weddings, fertilize soybean fields or race other drones for fun. Now some are risking their lives by forming a volunteer drone force to help their country repel the Russian invasion.

“Kyiv needs you and your drone at this moment of fury!” read a Facebook post late last week from the Ukrainian military, calling for citizens to donate hobby drones and to volunteer as experienced pilots to operate them.

One entrepreneur who runs a retail store selling consumer drones in the capital said its entire stock of some 300 drones made by Chinese company DJI has been dispersed for the cause. Others are working to get more drones across the border from friends and colleagues in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

“Why are we doing this? We have no other choice. This is our land, our home,” said Denys Sushko, head of operations at Kyiv-based industrial drone technology company DroneUA, which before the war was helping to provide drone services to farmers and energy companies.

Unlike the much larger Turkish-built combat drones that Ukraine has in its arsenal, off-the-shelf consumer drones aren’t much use as weapons – but they can be powerful reconnaissance tools. Civilians have been using the aerial cameras to track Russian convoys and then relay the images and GPS coordinates to Ukrainian troops. Some of the machines have night vision and heat sensors.


But there’s a downside: DJI, the leading provider of consumer drones in Ukraine and around the world, can easily pinpoint the location of an inexperienced drone operator, and no one really knows what the Chinese firm might do with that data. That makes some volunteers uneasy. DJI declined to discuss specifics about how it has responded to the war.

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Vice President Harris to visit Poland, Romania as war roils region

WASHINGTON — The White House announced Friday that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Poland and Romania next week to meet with officials to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine and impact the war is having on the region.

Harris’ agenda for the March 9 to 11 visit to Warsaw and Bucharest is expected to center on economic, security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.

“The Vice President’s meetings will also focus on how the United States can further support Ukraine’s neighbors as they welcome and care for refugees fleeing violence,” said the vice president’s deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh.


President Biden spoke on Friday with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.

Poland is assisting about 700,000 Ukrainians and others who have fled the war so far. The United States has also more than doubled its military presence in Poland, which is a member of NATO, to 9,000 troops in recent weeks.

U.S. remains resistant to banning Russian oil imports

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday reiterated that the Biden administration remains resistant for now on banning Russian oil imports, raising concerns that such a ban could have a negative impact for U.S. and European economies. She added, however, that the administration was “looking at options we could take right now to cut U.S. consumption of Russian energy,”

Psaki also called on Russian forces to withdraw Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. Russian troops seized the plant earlier Friday.

“The best step for nuclear safety would be for Russia to immediately withdraw,” Psaki said.


Huge Russian convoy seems to be mired in traffic jam

LONDON — A Western official says a huge Russian military convoy advancing on Kyiv has made little progress for several days.

The official said the convoy, which has been estimated at up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) long, had become a huge traffic jam that included damaged or destroyed vehicles.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, said the convoy had been attacked from the air by the Ukrainians, but that Ukraine’s ability to do so was limited.

The official assessed that Ukrainian forces remain in control of much of the country’s territory but that Russia holds the cities of Kherson, Melitopol and Berdiansk in the south.

Multiple Western officials have said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has advanced more slowly than planned, with Russian forces meeting stiff Ukrainian resistance and encountering myriad logistical problems.


Russian President Vladmir Putin said Thursday that what he calls a “special military operation” was on course to meet its goals.

Russian lawmakers approve prison for ‘fake’ war reports

DUSSELDORF, Germany  — Russians could face prison sentences of up to 15 years for spreading information that goes against the Russian government’s position on the war in Ukraine, a move that comes as authorities block access to foreign media outlets.

The Russian parliament voted unanimously Friday to approve a draft law criminalizing the intentional spreading of what Russia deems to be “fake” reports.

Russian authorities have repeatedly decried reports of Russian military setbacks or civilian deaths in Ukraine as “fake” reports. State media outlets refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” rather than a “war” or “invasion.”

The draft law was approved by the lower and upper houses of parliament in quick succession and is now set to be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin to take effect as soon as Saturday, the speaker of the lower house, Vyacheslav Volodin, said.


“It is possible that by tomorrow, its rules will force those lied and made statements discrediting our armed forces to bear very grave punishment,” Volodin said. “I want everyone to understand, and for society to understand, that we are doing this to protect our soldiers and officers, and to protect the truth.”

Sentences of up to three years or fines are envisaged for spreading what authorities deem to be false news about the military, but the maximum punishment rises to 15 years for cases deemed to have led to “severe consequences,” the lower house of parliament said.

UN says 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine

GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency reported Friday that more than 1.2 million people have left Ukraine since the fighting began.

More than 165,000 people left the country on Thursday — down slightly from Wednesday’s count and well under the nearly 200,000 on Tuesday, which amounted to the peak one-day outflow of people from Ukraine since the conflict began, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

People fleeing from Ukraine queue to board on a bus at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland on Friday, March 4. Associated Press/Markus Schreiber

Its data portal on Ukraine showed that the majority — about 650,000 — had gone to neighboring Poland, and roughly 145,000 had fled to Hungary. Another 103,000 were in Moldova and more than 90,000 in Slovakia.


UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo said “we know that the majority are women, children and the elderly,” but she was unable to provide a more specific breakdown by age or gender.

Dockworkers refuse to unload gas tankers from Russia

LONDON — A union says dockers at a British port have refused to unload gas tankers from Russia, and called for tighter sanctions to prevent Russian cargoes arriving in the U.K.

The Unison union says two tankers, Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke, were diverted from Europe’s largest liquefied natural gas terminal on the Isle of Grain in southeast England.

The union said the British government must close a loophole that meant the cargo could return if it was loaded onto non-Russian vessels.

Britain has banned Russia-linked ships from its ports, but the union’s head of energy, Matt Lay, said the rules “only cover the ownership and operators of vessels, not the cargo.” He said “companies are free to get around the rules by hiring ships from other countries to import Russian goods.”


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for Western countries to stop buying Russian oil and gas, but it is still being bought by many countries, including the U.K.

Russia’s isolation over Ukraine war grows at UN Human Rights Council

GENEVA — The U.N.’s top human rights body overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday that aims to set up a three-member panel of experts to monitor human rights in Ukraine.

The decision demonstrates growing international unity against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s increasing international isolation.

Some 32 of the 47 member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council voted in favor of the resolution while 13 abstained. Only Russia and Eritrea voted against the resolution that was proposed by Western states and others who have spoken out against the invasion.

Several countries that had either openly or tacitly supported Moscow appeared to have backed off from offering that support.


China, Cuba and Venezuela abstained Friday, despite having joined Russia and Eritrea in voting down on Monday a proposal by Ukraine’s government to hold an “urgent debate” on the rights situation in Ukraine. The debate took place Thursday and culminated in Friday’s vote.

Mauritania, Senegal, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates which abstained Monday supported the resolution on Friday.

During the debate, country after country spoke out against Russia’s invasion. Many Western envoys sported blue or yellow ties, scarves, jackets or ribbons on their lapels – honoring the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Even observer countries including Gambia and Malaysia also decried Russia’s actions.

Ukraine’s ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko was visibly moved by the result, telling delegates after the vote: “I thank all those who voted for the right course.”

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EU may consider more sanctions


BRUSSELS — Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney says the European Union may agree “early” next week on another set of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Coveney said Friday that “we in the European Union and other partners are really disgusted and outraged by what we continue to see day after day in Ukraine and Russia’s actions, which clearly are a breach of international law.”

Speaking to reporters before a meeting with his EU counterparts and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Coveney said: “I don’t think there’s any credible argument now that war crimes aren’t being committed on a daily basis.”

He says the West must brace for no letup in the fighting in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately it looks like we are going to see more of this in the coming days and weeks,” Coveney said. “The picture looks very bleak, very dark, in terms of Russia’s intentions. And there doesn’t seem to be any willingness to discuss a cease-fire, to discuss a pulling back out of residential areas.”

Russian embassies in Latvia, Lithuania now on streets named ‘Ukranian Independence”


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Latvia joined Lithuania in changing the name of the street where the Russian Embassy is located in Riga to “Ukrainian Independence Street.”

The decision has been made Friday by the Riga City Council to voice support to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion, the Baltic News Service reported Friday.

On Thursday, the mayor of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius said that the city will change the name of a street where the Russian diplomatic mission sits. Mayor Remigijus Simasius said a quiet alley in downtown Vilnius where the Russian embassy is located will change its name to “Heroes of Ukraine street.”

NATO rejects no-fly zone over Ukraine

BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the military organization will not police a no-fly zone over Ukraine and is warning that such a move could end in a wide-spread war in Europe.

Speaking Friday after chairing a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, Stoltenberg said “we are not going to move into Ukraine, neither on the ground, nor in the Ukrainian airspace.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have ramped up their attacks in Ukraine, launching hundreds of missiles and artillery strikes on cities and making significant gains in the south.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, most recently after a fire overnight at one of Ukraine’s nuclear plants, the largest in Europe.

“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, and then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” Stoltenberg said. “We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.”

“We have a responsibility as NATO allies to prevent this war from escalating beyond Ukraine,” he said.

Ukraine wants special tribunal to judge Putin

LONDON — The Ukrainian government and a former British prime minister are pushing for a special criminal tribunal to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies over the invasion of Ukraine.


Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the call for a body to investigate the “crime of aggression” was based on the tribunals that prosecuted senior Nazis after World War II.

The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court is already investigating allegations that Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine. But while it can investigate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Russia has not signed up to a separate ICC statute under which nations pledge not to commit “crimes of aggression.”

Brown said that “this act of aggression by Russia … cannot go uninvestigated, unprosecuted and unpunished.”

“Putin must not be able to escape justice,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the call for a tribunal, which is backed by legal experts and academics from around the world.

“We are fighting against an enemy who is much stronger than us. But international law is on our side,” Kuleba told a meeting in London by video link from Ukraine.


In a rare move, Japan sends defense supplies to Ukraine

TOKYO — Japan is sending bulletproof vests, helmets and other defense supplies to Ukraine to help the country fight Russia’s invasion.

It is a rare move by Japan, which has a principle of not shipping defense supplies to countries in conflict.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Friday that shipping and other logistical details are being finalized after a decision by the National Security Council.

Bulletproof vests, helmets, tents, as well as generators, food, winter clothes and medical supplies will be delivered by Self-Defense Force aircraft, Matsuno said.

The planned shipment comes after a request from Ukraine. Japan, because of its pacifist principles, is supplying only non-lethal goods, Matsuno said.


“(Russia’s) unilateral change of status quo by force, which is absolutely unallowable, is an act that shakes the foundation of international order,” he said. “International society is sticking together and taking unprecedented steps to support Ukraine.”

Poland arrests suspected spy for Russia

WARSAW, Poland — Polish security services say they have arrested a Spanish citizen on suspicion of spying for Russia.

Security services spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn said the man, who was born in Russia but holds a Spanish passport, was arrested on the night of Feb. 27 at a hotel in Przemysl, in southeastern Poland, and had journalist status.

Przemysl, near Poland’s border with Ukraine, is one of the main points where hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees arrive as they flee Russia’s invasion.

Also, thousands of additional U.S. troops recently deployed to Poland to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank are stationed in the area.


The man allegedly was collecting information that was sensitive to Poland’s security and defense, Zaryn told The Associated Press.

The man is accused of spying for Russia. If convicted, he could get up to 10 years in prison.

Norway orders towns to review radiation leak preparedness

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — With Europeans unnerved by a Russian attack on a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Norwegian health authorities want municipalities to review iodine preparedness for children under 18, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

“Although no emissions from nuclear power plants in Ukraine have been reported, the risk of accidents and incidents is higher than normal due to the war in the country,” deputy health director Espen Rostrup Nakstad said Friday.

Since 2017, iodine tablets have been recommended as a contingency measure by the Directorate for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (DSA) and the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the latter said in a statement.


It added that approximately 2.2 million tablets are stored in the municipalities for this purpose. In addition, people between the ages of 18 and 40 are recommended to buy iodine tablets at pharmacies as self-preparedness.

“In the current situation, it is not relevant to use iodine tablets, but we still want the municipalities to be sure that they are available at short notice if there is a need for it,” Rostrup Nakstad said.

Recent reports say sales of iodine tablets in Denmark, Sweden and Finland have increased sharply

No radiation released after Ukraine nuclear plant hit

VIENNA — The head of the UN atomic agency says a Ukrainian nuclear plant was hit by a Russian “projectile” but that the building it struck was a training center and there has been no release of radiation.

Initial reports were unclear about what part of the plant was affected by a fire that broke out after the shelling late Thursday, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Friday that the building was “not part of the reactor.”

He said Ukrainians are still in control of the reactor and the fire has been extinguished.

The Ukrainian state nuclear company said three Ukrainian troops were killed and two wounded in the Russian attack.

The UN says only one reactor at the plant is operating, at about 60% of capacity.

Russia blocks some international media

MOSCOW — Russia’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor is blocking access to the websites of five international media organizations.


State news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday that the blocked websites include those of the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The sites were blocked for hosting what Roskomnadzor told RIA was “false information” about Russian military actions in Ukraine, including reports of attacks on civilians and the Russian military’s losses.

The five named organizations, also including Latvia-based Russian-language website Meduza and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, are among the largest foreign news outlets with Russian-language news operations.

On the early afternoon in Moscow, the BBC Russian service and Radio Free Europe Russian-language content were not reachable, but Voice of America content remained accessible.

UNICEF reports  an ‘unprecedented’ half a million children have had to flee

BERLIN — UNICEF says that about 500,000 children have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine over the past week due to Russia’s invasion, calling the exodus “unprecedented in scale and speed.”


“If the violence (doesn’t) stop, many, many more children will be forced to flee their country in a very short space of time,” James Elder, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund, said Friday. “And we fear many more will be killed.”

He said UNICEF is sending large amounts of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine to help those in need and also providing emergency training to pediatricians who are being sent to the region.

“They’re preparing for a mass casualty of children,” he said, adding that the training included a triage system for treating children.

The International Organization for Migration said Friday that so far 1.25 million people have fled Ukraine, including almost 80,000 third-country nationals.

Zelensky wants no-fly zone over reactor bombing

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants a no-fly zone to be imposed over his country in the wake of Russian shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant.


The attack on the Zaporizhzhia plant did not produce elevated radiation levels, but Zelensky on Friday evoked the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion and fire to raise alarm about further attacks.

The plant “could be like six Chernobyls. The Russian tanks knew what they were shelling … This is terror on an unprecedented level,” he said.

Any attempt by European air forces to impose a no-fly zone would likely severely escalate the conflict.

Zelensky also called on Russian civilians to express outrage about the plant attack.

“Radiation does not know where the Russian border is,” he said.

European leaders express outrage


BERLIN — The shelling of a large Ukrainian nuclear power plant by invading Russian forces has brought a chorus of outrage from top European officials.

European leaders on Friday expressed dismay and anger at the incident, with Italian Premier Mario Draghi condemning the strike on the nuclear plant as “an attack against everyone.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that “attacking nuclear facilities is a criminal act to terrorize the public.”

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics on Twitter called the shelling “insane.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused the Kremlin of attacking its neighbor Ukraine with “undiminished force and brutality, carrying out wanton destruction, besieging entire cities and trying to grind down the civilian population.”

Speaking ahead of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Baerbock said efforts would continue to put political and economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin and to isolate Russia for as long as the war continues.


“With his war against Ukraine (Putin) is also driving his own country into ruin,” Baerbock said.

International Red Cross sees ‘a devastating humanitarian crisis’ unfold

BERLIN — The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross says the humanitarian group is “seeing a devastating humanitarian crisis unfold in Ukraine.”

Peter Maurer called Friday for all parties in the conflict to adhere to the rules of war, sparing civilians from military operations and allowing them safe passage.

Maurer said Red Cross teams are “receiving a flood of calls from people desperate for safety.”

“Casualty figures keep rising while health facilities struggle to cope,” he said. “Civilians staying in underground shelters tell us that they fled shells falling directly overhead. They have no extra clothes, supplies or their needed medication. They need assistance now.”


Australia freezes Russian assets

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s foreign minister says 45 million Australian dollars ($33 million) have been frozen in an Australian financial institution under new sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Friday declined to identify the institution or who owned the money.

Australia has imposed sanctions against more than 350 Russian individuals including President Vladimir Putin. Australia has also targeted with sanctions 13 Belarus entities and individuals including Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin.

South Korea granted exemption from sanctions

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea says it won an exemption from recently expanded U.S. sanctions against Russia in exchange for strengthening its own export restrictions against the country over an escalating invasion of Ukraine.


South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy confirmed the agreement on Friday after Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo traveled to Washington this week for meetings with senior U.S. officials.

The Biden administration last week announced a series of sanctions aimed at cutting off Russia’s access to foreign technology products like semiconductors, lasers, aircraft and communications equipment in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

To enforce the measures, Washington has imposed a regulation called the foreign direct product rule, which allows American officials to restrict the sales of foreign-made products to Russia from any country if the items are produced with U.S. technology.

The South Koreans had sought an exemption from the regulation to minimize the impact of U.S. sanctions on major South Korean companies, whose technology exports drive the country’s trade-dependent economy.

South Korea had already banned the export of strategic materials to Russia and joined international efforts to cut off key Russian banks from global payment systems. U.S. officials also told their South Korean counterparts that consumer goods such as smartphones, passenger cars and washing machines aren’t subject to American sanctions as long as they are used by private Russian citizens or companies and not military users.

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