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Russian invasion of Ukraine: Live updates on impacts to science

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Race to deliver food to Ukraine; ExoMars mission cuts ties with Russia

The ExoMars rover, called Rosalind Franklin, is designed to collect samples beneath the Martian surface. (Image credit: ESA)

—The World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently trying to deliver emergency food supplies to hardhit Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro, The Guardian reported. These cities, the WFP said, are at risk of “medieval tactics of besiegement.” 

“We are concentrating right now on stocking up the cities that are in danger of being encircled. That’s the rush against time for us,” said Jakob Kern, emergency coordinator for WFP, as reported by The Guardian. The agency will try to get food into the porty city of Mariupol, where bombings have destroyed a hospital complex and more, as well as the encircled city of Sumy; aid workers plan to take advantage of any ceasefires for humanitarian aid, The Guardian said.

—The European Space Agency unanimously voted to suspend a joint Mars mission with Russia. The Council of the ESA said on Thursday (March 17) that due to the the tragedy that is unfolding in the Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the agency could no longer carry out “ongoing cooperation with Roscosmos on the ExoMars rover mission with a launch in 2022,” referring to the Russian Space Agency and its role in the second part of the ExoMars program that involves sending a rover and a Russian surface platform to the Red Planet. Read more about the ExoMars delay at Live Science.

ESA suspends Russian partnership on Mars mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) will suspend its partnership with Russian space agency Roscosmos on a number of projects, including the ExoMars rover mission, which is scheduled to launch later this year, the ESA said in a statement.

ESA officials will implement a fast-track study to “define the available options for a way forward to implement the ExoMars rover mission,” the agency said.

The ExoMars mission will hunt for evidence of potential past life on Mars. The mission was previously pushed back in 2020, due to pandemic-related issues.

US astronaut will ride Russian capsule home to Earth

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is carried to a medical tent shortly after he, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin landed in their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on  Feb. 28, 2018 (Image credit: NASA)

U.S. astronaut Mark Vande Hei will return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian space capsule alongside two Russian cosmonauts, despite earlier fears that he might get left behind amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, BBC reported.

“I can tell you for sure Mark is coming home… We are in communication with our Russian colleagues. There’s no fuzz on that,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International ISS program manager said.

Vande Hei, 55, has been in space for 355 days, setting a new U.S. record for most time spent in space. He and the two cosmonauts are expected to land in Kazakhstan on March 30.

Earlier this month, ​​Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, announced on state TV that Russia would halt rocket sales to the U.S. in response to sanctions against Russia. 

Biden’s national security adviser warns Russia against use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine

biden's national security advisor jake sullivan addressing the press

(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla / Staff via Getty Images)

Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, spoke with General Nikolay Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council, on Wednesday (March 16), according to a White House statement. During the call, Sullivan “warned General Patrushev about the consequences and implications of any possible Russian decision to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine,” the statement reads. 

U.S. officials have not said exactly why they think Russia might deploy chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, The New York Times reported. But that said, Russia recently accused the U.S. of operating a biowarfare lab out of Ukraine, and “Russia has a track record of accusing the West of the very crimes that Russia itself is perpetrating,” U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a recent statement. “These tactics are an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify further premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attacks on Ukraine.” 

Satellite images show extensive destruction in Mariupol

Apartment blocks burn in a bombed residential district.

(Image credit: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies)

New images captured by the U.S. private satellite company Maxar reveal horrific scenes of destruction in Mariupol, the southern port city in Ukraine where Russian forces have dropped about 100 bombs in the last 10 days. In a statement released March 13, the Mariupol local council said that 2,187 civilians have been killed in the bombings, although Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that the number now exceeds 2,500. 

Read the full story on Live Science. 

Power lost at Chernobyl (again)

The Chernobyl plant has been captured for nearly 3 weeks.

The Chernobyl plant has been captured for nearly 3 weeks. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant has lost power again, less than 24 hours after the plant’s electricity was restored on March 13. Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s electrical grid operator, has demanded safe entry to the site for a repair crew to inspect and fix the high-voltage power lines that supply the plant’s electricity. 

Approximately 20,000 spent nuclear fuel units sit in the plant’s cooling tanks, and without reliable power, the likelihood of the evaporation and discharge of nuclear material at the site may increase, Ukrainian officials have warned. But nuclear experts, including the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have downplayed these concerns, saying that cutting off power to the Chernobyl power plant will not have a drastic impact on the facility’s safety. 

Read the full story on Live Science.

Pregnant woman from Mariupol hospital attack dies

A pregnant woman who was pulled out of the rubble of the bombed Ukrainian maternity hospital in Mariupol on March 9 has reportedly died; her baby also died, The Associated Press reported. AP photos of the woman on a stretcher stroking her bloodied belly and her face in shock was one of the “most brutal moments” in the now 19-day invasion of Ukraine, the AP reported. 

When the woman was rushed to a nearby hospital, she reportedly realized her baby was dying and yelled out to the medics “Kill me now!” the AP said. The surgeon who treated her told the AP that her pelvis had been crushed and hip was detached from the attack. The baby was delivered via C-section, though it showed no signs of life.

Read more at The Associated Press.

Pharma company Bayer suspends ads, business in Russia

Bayer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, is halting business in Russia.

“As a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bayer stopped all spending in Russia and Belarus that is not related to supplying essential products in health and agriculture,” Bayer said in a statement today (March 14). The ban includes halting both advertising and promotional activities in Russia as well as any capital investment projects. 

However, Bayer did not suspend delivery of their products to Russia, as some people had reportedly wanted: “Our position is that this senseless war has already taken many lives. As a Life Science company, we have an ethical obligation — in every country we operate in. Withholding essential health and agriculture products from the civilian populations — like cancer or cardiovascular treatments, health products for pregnant women and children as well as seeds to grow food — would only multiply the war’s ongoing toll on human life,” Bayer said.

Energy prices soar in EU after Russian sanctions

Energy prices skyrocket in the European Union, on the heels of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, according to news reports. 

Nikolai Kobrinets, a Russian foreign ministry officer, said that the EU would pay at least three times more for their oil, gas and electricity, Reuters reported. “I believe the European Union would not benefit from this — we have more durable supplies and stronger nerves,” Kobrinets told Interfax, a Russian news agency, as reported by Reuters. 

In fact, Russia is currently urging India to invest even more into the country’s oil and gas sector. “Russia’s economy faces its deepest crisis since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, as the West imposes severe sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine,” Reuters reported.

Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers. This month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) put together a 10-point plan to help reduce the European Union’s reliance on Russia’s natural gas. 

U.N. discusses baseless claims of U.S. bioweapons program in Ukraine, Russia adds ‘bird army’ to list of conspiracy theories

A woman feeds pigeons in Ternopil, Ukraine. Russia claims the U.S. is training migratory birds to attack Russian targets with Ukrainian bioweapons. (Image credit: Getty)

The U.N. Security Council convened on Friday (March 11) to discuss Russia’s unsupported claims that the United States has been running a biological weapons program out of Ukraine.

The U.S. again denied the claims, instead accusing Russia of using the council meeting for “lying and spreading disinformation,” the Associated Press reported

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield suggested that Russia had fabricated these claims to “justify its own violent attacks against the Ukrainian people,” and that Russia was likely to “use chemical or biological agents for assassinations, as part of a staged or false-flag incident, or to support tactical military operations.”

U.N. disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu agreed that there was no evidence of “any biological weapons programs” in Ukraine.

With its claims still being boosted by Chinese media as well as right-wing pundits in the U.S, Russia continued to push the story on Friday, adding the bizarre detail that the U.S. had trained an army of migratory birds to carry Ukrainian bioweapons across the border to drop on Russian targets, Vice reported.

WHO advises Ukraine labs to destroy high-threat pathogens

A picture taken on May 8, 2021 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the entrance of their headquarters in Geneva

A picture taken on May 8, 2021 shows a sign of the World Health Organization (WHO) at the entrance of their headquarters in Geneva (Image credit: FABRICE COFFRINI / Contributor via Getty Images)

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that Ukrainian public health labs that handle infectious agents destroy any “high-threat pathogens” to prevent potential spills during the ongoing Russian invasion, the agency told Reuters on Thursday (March 10). 

The WHO previously worked with Ukrainian public health labs to establish security protocols aimed at preventing the “accidental or deliberate” release of such pathogens, the agency told Reuters in an email. “As part of this work, the WHO has strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health in Ukraine and other responsible bodies to destroy high-threat pathogens to prevent any potential spills,” the email read.

The agency also advised all affected parties “to reach out for technical assistance as needed,” regarding the safe and secure disposal of any pathogens.

Read the full story on Live Science. 

China boosts unsupported Russian claim of Ukraine bioweapons labs

China has joined Russia in spreading unsupported claims that the United States has been funding biological weapons’ labs in Ukraine. 

The U.S. denies the claims, and the UN says it has not received any information to back them up. Even so, both China and Russia insist that the rumors are true, and that the U.S. may be gearing up to use them on Ukrainian citizens, the Associated Press reports.

“This Russian military operation has uncovered the secret of the U.S. labs in Ukraine, and this is not something that can be dealt with in a perfunctory manner,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign ministry, said Thursday (March 10). “It is not something they can muddle through by saying that China’s statement and Russia’s finding are disinformation, and are absurd and ridiculous.”

The claims have since been picked up by far-right groups and media in the U.S., but U.S. state department officials say the allegations are a disinformation operation.

“The Russian accusations are absurd. They’re laughable. And you know, in the words of my Irish Catholic grandfather, a bunch of malarkey. There’s nothing to it. It’s classic Russian propaganda,” John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a news briefing on Wednesday (March 9).

“Unlike Russia, which does have chemical weapons and has used them, and does do biological weapons research and has for years, Ukraine has neither,” Burns, the director of the CIA and a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, said in a senate hearing on Thursday. “And when you couple that with their demonstrated willingness to create false flag operations and try to create the impression that somehow Ukrainians are responsible for this, that should give us all pretty serious reason for concern about their propaganda.”

The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss Moscow’s claim at a meeting today (March 11). 

Death toll rises from Mariupol hospital bombing

The destroyed hospital complex contained a maternity ward, children’s ward and internal medicine department, according to Ukrainian officials. (Image credit: Volodymyr Zelenskyy via Twitter)

At least three people, including a 6-year-old child, were killed in a Russian airstrike on a hospital complex in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol yesterday, city officials said on Thursday (March 10). At least 17 other civilians were wounded in the attack, which destroyed the hospital’s maternity and children’s wards, deputy mayor Sergiy Orlov told reporters. 

Russian forces continue to bomb the city for the eighth day in a row, the New York Times reported. The city is home to some 430,000 people. 

Read the full story on Live Science.

Chernobyl safe after power loss

The damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor, site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in history, in April, 1986 (Image credit: Karen Kasmauski/Getty Images)

The UN’s atomic watchdog has said that the cutting off of power to the Chernobyl power plant will not have a drastic impact on the facility’s safety.

The Chernobyl nuclear facility was taken on the first day of the invasion (Feb. 24). After heavy fighting, Russian forces captured the defunct plant and took its roughly 210 staff hostage. An announcement made yesterday (March 9) by Ukraine’s state energy company said that the plant has been disconnected from the electrical grid, leaving its roughly 20,000 spent nuclear fuel units held in cooling tanks without active cooling, Live Science previously reported

This led to concerns that the defunct Chernobyl reactor’s spent fuel would overheat and leak from containment. But the IAEA said in a tweet that while the development “violates (a) key safety pillar,” in this case it saw “no critical impact on safety.”

The UN agency said that “the heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant” were “sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply.”

The seven pillars of nuclear safety are seven important regulatory conditions set out by the IAEA for nuclear facilities. Among them are the requirements to maintain the physical integrity of nuclear facilities; ensure that staff are not under coercion or duress; and guarantee a constant supply of electricity to facilities. 

Ukraine’s state energy company has announced that “there is no possibility to restore the lines” at Chernobyl and that the site’s security systems had also lost power.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a key Russian ally, has instructed Belarusian specialists to restore the Chernobyl plant’s power supply, according to the state-owned Belarusian news agency BelTA.

IAEA loses contact with Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

A screenshot from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's livestream during a fire following fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

A screenshot from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s livestream during a fire following fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces (Image credit: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was overtaken by Russian forces last week, and now, the plant’s communication lines have been cut, the United Nations’ (UN) atomic watchdog has announced. 

That means that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is no longer receiving data transmissions from the Zaporizhzhia plant or the defunct Chernobyl power plant, whose communication lines had already been severed. Without a way to monitor how nuclear material is being handled at these sites, the IAEA cannot check that key safety regulations are being upheld or that material isn’t being moved from its current location.

“The remote transmission of data from IAEA safeguards equipment located at nuclear sites around the world is an important component of our safeguards implementation, in Ukraine and globally,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement. “Such systems… enable us to monitor nuclear material and activities at these sites when our inspectors are not present.”

Read the full story on Live Science. 

‘Genocide,’ ‘Apocalyptic’ and ‘Atrocity’ used to describe situation in Mariupol

Images being released from Ukraine continue to look bleak. Much of Mariupol’s population of 400,000 is without power, heat and water, as well as no phone signal, for over a week, a situation that the country’s foreign minister Dmitryo Kuleba said is akin to Russia “holding 400,000 people hostage,” The Guardian reported

The city is being bombarded by continuous shelling, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,170 Mariupol’s residents (47 of these individual were buried March 9 in a mass grave), the city’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov said, as reported by The Guardian. Orlov called the acts “medieval” and “pure genocide.” He reportedly added, “The attack isn’t simply treacherous. It’s a war crime. They are attacking us with aviation, shells, multiple rocket launchers.”

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has described conditions in Mariupol “apocalyptic.” And “catastrophic” is the term the deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk used to describe what is happening in the port city, according to The Guardian. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also denounced the brutal attack in Mariupol, saying it is an “atrocity” and comparing it to the devastation unleashed by the Nazis, The Guardian said.

Russia claims it used thermobaric weapons: What that means.

A TOS-1A rocket system, shown in this stock image. (Image credit: SergeyVButorin/Getty Images)

The Russian forces have used thermobaric weapons — which pull in oxygen to generate a super-hot explosion — in Ukraine, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence. 

“The Russian MoD has confirmed the use of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine. The TOS-1A uses thermobaric rockets, creating incendiary and blast effects,” the U.K. Ministry of Defence tweeted. The MoD also included a video showing the Russian TOS-1 rocket launchers, which can spit out up to 30 thermobaric warheads atop rockets in quick succession, according to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Along with fuel air explosives, thermobaric warheads are a type of volumetric weapon that consists of a fuel container and two explosive charges, the Arms Control center explained. Once the weapon gets launched, the first explosive charge detonates and broadcasts fuel particles. Then, the second charge ignites those particles and oxygen in the surrounding air. The result? A high-pressure, high-temperature blast that can reverberate and can even generate a partial vacuum when released inside buildings and other enclosed spaces, the Arms Control center said.

Though international law allows for the use of thermobaric weapons against military targets, they are banned if they could harm civilians, The Hill reported. U.S. officials have said that Russia is escalating its tactics, killing hundreds of civilians (including kids), The Hill reported

See more

Children’s hospital bombed in Ukrainian city

Footage of the bombed-out hospital shows the interior and exterior in tatters. (Image credit: Volodymyr Zelenskyy via Twitter)

A hospital complex that includes a children’s ward and maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has been destroyed by Russian forces dropping bombs on the facility, CNN reports. Video of the building after being bombed shared by the city council of Mariupol shows a hospital in tatters, with scraps from walls and beds and equipment strewn or in piles across the floors. 

“A maternity hospital in the city center, a children’s ward and department of internal medicine … all these were destroyed during the Russian air strike on Mariupol. Just now,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration.

In terms of casualties, the police said that information “is being clarified,” CNN reported. Even so, preliminary information indicates that at least 17 people were injured in the Russian attack, according to CNN. Among those injured are staff and patients in the maternity ward, The New York Times said.

Though Russia and Ukraine had agreed on a cease-fire on Saturday (March 5), hours later fighting had resumed. Videos of the current strike also show sprays of shrapnel bursting through hospital windows. One of the resulting craters, this one in a courtyard between buildings, looked to be about 10 feet (3 meters) deep, according to the Times.

Read the full story on Live Science.

WHO provides health care aid to Ukraine and condemns Russian attacks on hospitals

People receive medical attention in a hospital after an attack by Russian forces on March 8, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

People receive medical attention in a hospital after an attack by Russian forces on March 8, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Image credit: dia images / Contributor via Getty Images)

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe, issued a statement on March 8 addressing health care provisions for civilians within and refugees beyond Ukraine. 

Kluge notes that he’s been working with Amin Awad, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, to establish a system to safely convey humanitarian health supplies into Ukraine. 

“So far, 2 shipments totalling 76 tonnes (36 + 40 tonnes) of trauma and emergency health supplies, as well as freezers, refrigerators, ice packs and cool boxes are in transit in Ukraine,” the statement reads. “We have further shipments of 500 oxygen concentrators and more supplies are on their way.” WHO teams have also been deployed to Hungary, Poland, the Republic of Moldova and Romania to assess the needs of incoming refugees and to help build up the capacity of local health care systems.

As the Russian invasion continues in Ukraine, so too does the COVID-19 pandemic. “Remarkably, Ukraine has maintained its COVID-19 surveillance and response system,” the WHO statement reads. The country reported 731 COVID-19 deaths to the WHO last week, “and sadly this number will increase as oxygen shortages continue.”  

In addition to addressing the health status of Ukrainians, the WHO condemned Russian attacks on health care facilities and workers in the country.

“It should not need saying that health workers, hospitals and other medical facilities must never be a target at any time, including during crises and conflicts. To date, we have 16 confirmed reports of attacks on health in Ukraine, and more are being verified. WHO strongly condemns these attacks on health-care services.”

Read the full WHO statement. 

Ukraine’s top climate scientist calls this a “fossil fuel war”

Tobolsk, Russia. Petrochemical Industrial Complex. Oil refinery building industry

An oil refinery in Russia (Image credit: Anton Petrus via Getty Images)

As Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Svitlana Krakovska, a senior scientist at the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute, and a delegation of other Ukrainian scientists continued to attend UN-run virtual meetings to finalize the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Krakovska, who headed the Ukrainian delegation, told the IPCC chair that the group would “continue to work if we have an internet connection and no missiles over our heads,” Bloomberg Green reported on Feb. 28.

Soon, however, members of the delegation had to abandon the enterprise to seek safety in air raid shelters, or to flee Ukraine altogether, The Guardian reported  on Wednesday (March 9). Krakovska sheltered in her home in Kyiv with her family as missiles struck nearby buildings.

At this time, “I started to think about the parallels between climate change and this war and it’s clear that the roots of both these threats to humanity are found in fossil fuels,” Krakovska told The Guardian. 

“Burning oil, gas and coal is causing warming and impacts we need to adapt to. And Russia sells these resources and uses the money to buy weapons,” she said. “Other countries are dependent upon these fossil fuels, they don’t make themselves free of them. This is a fossil fuel war. It’s clear we cannot continue to live this way, it will destroy our civilization.”

This statement follows an executive order from President Joe Biden banning the importation of Russian oil, gas and coal into the U.S., as well as an announcement from the European Union that its member states will be drastically reducing their dependence on Russian fossil fuels.

Read more about the role of fossil fuels in the war in The Guardian and Bloomberg Green. 

Chernobyl nuclear plant just went dark

The damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor, site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in history, in April, 1986

(Image credit: Karen Kasmauski/Getty Images)

The site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant has gone dark, as Russian forces occupy the defunct plant in Ukraine. The plant along with the facilities in the Chernobyl exclusion zone have no electricity, Ukraine’s state energy company announced

With now power, the planet’s estimated 20,000 spent nuclear fuel units, which are stored in cooling tanks, will no longer receive cooling. The fear is that the spent nuclear fuel could discharge a dangerous dose of radioactivity to the plant’s personnel, Ukrainian officials warned. Even so, nuclear energy experts caution that because the fuel rods are 22 years old, they are not as hot as they were initially and so this discharge is unlikely. 

Facility staff are responsible for decommissioning the site and ensuring the safe disposal of the radioactive material inside the plant’s defunct reactors. However, since Russian forces seized Chernobyl, that work has been on hold. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in the statement. “I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there.”

Read the full story on Live Science.

Pentagon turns down Poland offer of Soviet-era fighter jets

MiG-29 aircraft are twin-engine fighter jets designed in the Soviet Union. (Image credit: guvendemir/Getty Images)

NATO member Poland said Tuesday (March 8) that the country was ready to deliver Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets designed in the Soviet Union to Ramstein Air Base for use by the U.S. The Defense Department, however, turned down the offer.

The move is thought to be a way for Poland to avoid any retaliation for directly helping Ukraine fight against Russian invaders. However, the Pentagon responded that the delivering the Soviet-era warplanes from the Air Base in southwestern Germany into risky airspace is just not a “tenable” proposal. According to The Guardian, Poland is thought to have around 28 of these fighter aircraft.

“The prospect of fighter jets ‘at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America’ departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance,” John F. Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement today. “It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. 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.”

The proposal from Poland comes after news that although Russian forces are seeing great losses — and not the easy win the Kremlin had anticipated — the country under Vladimir Putin will push on, The New York Times reported. According to the Times, top intelligence officials said that Putin was “surprised and unsettled by the problems that have hampered his military in Ukraine.” 

Even so, the Ukraine forces can’t hold onto Kyiv forever. “With supplies being cut off, it will become somewhat desperate in, I would say, 10 days to two weeks,” Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Times.

Biden to sign order regulating cryptocurrency

A novelty Bitcoin token arranged at a CoinUnited cryptocurrency exchange in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, March 4, 2022.  (Image credit: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

U.S. sanctions on Russia, including severe limits on the country’s central bank, could deliver a crushing blow to the Kremlin and its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to news reports. And now, in order to prevent Russia from skirting these restrictions with cryptocurrency, U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order this week to regulate the digital currency.

According to Reuters, Biden could sign the order on Wednesday (March 9) for “a wide-ranging oversight of the cryptocurrency market.” The executive order is also a response to moves by China and others to create their own cryptocurrencies, Reuters reported

“Although we have not seen widespread evasion of our sanctions using methods such as cryptocurrency, prompt reporting of suspicious activity contributes to our national security and our efforts to support Ukraine and its people,” acting Director Him Das said, as reported by The Hill.

Though Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency, thousands of these digital currencies exist and as of June 2021, about 220 million Americans used this completely virtual “cash,” according to Crypto.com.

Those familiar with Biden’s intentions say the executive order will task the State Department with ensuring that U.S. crypto laws align with those of allies, while mandating the the Financial Stability Oversight Council to investigate any related financial concerns and the Justice Department to look into the need for a new law to create a new currency, The Hill reported.

U.S. bans Russian oil; EU will reduce reliance on Russian fuel

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House March 8, 2022 in Washington, DC. During his remarks, Biden announced a full ban on imports of Russian oil and energy products as an additional step in holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine. (Image credit: Win McNamee / Staff via Getty Images)

On Tuesday (March 8), President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. is banning the importation of Russian oil, gas and coal and prohibiting any new U.S. investment in Russia’s energy sector or in foreign companies that invest in the country’s energy production. The U.S. receives less than 10% of its energy resources from Russia, but the ban is still expected to impact the price of gas and other petroleum products in the States, The New York Times reported.

Also on Tuesday, the European Commission shared two plans to reduce the European Union’s (EU) dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and to render EU-affiliated countries “independent” of Russian fossil fuels before 2030. Some of the EU’s gas and liquefied natural gas will now be sourced from the U.S. and Qatar, rather than Russia, and the EU will also increase its use of biomethane and hydrogen in the coming years. In addition, the EU plans to rapidly increase its investment in renewable energy sources, including wind and solar power, Reuters reported



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