Russia demands Mariupol lay down arms but Ukraine says no
LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — As it continued its barrage of the besieged city of Mariupol, Russia demanded that Ukrainians put down their arms and raise white flags on Monday in exchange for safe passage out of town.
Ukraine angrily rejected the offer, which came hours after officials said Russian forces had bombed an art school that was sheltering some 400 people.
While the fight for control of the strategically important city remained intense, Western governments and analysts see the broader conflict shifting to a war of attrition.
Russian Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said it would allow two corridors out of Mariupol, heading either east toward Russia or west to other parts of Ukraine.
Mariupol residents were given until 5 a.m. Monday to respond to the offer. Russia didn’t say what action it would take if it was rejected.
‘No city anymore’: Mariupol survivors take train to safety
LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — The heat on the train was as thick as the anxiety. Ukrainian survivors of one of the most brutal sieges in modern history were in the final minutes of their ride to relative safety.
Some carried only what they had at hand when they seized the chance to escape the port of Mariupol amid relentless Russian bombardment. Some fled so quickly that relatives who were still in the starving, freezing Ukrainian city on the Sea of Azov aren’t aware that they have gone.
“There is no city anymore,” Marina Galla said. She wept in the doorway of a crowded train compartment that was pulling into the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
The relief of being free from weeks of threats and deprivation, of seeing bodies in the streets and drinking melted snow because there was no water, was crushed by sadness as she thought of family members left behind.
“I don’t know anything about them,” she said. “My mother, grandmother, grandfather and father. They don’t even know that we have left.”
White House: Biden to visit Poland on Europe trip this week
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has added a stop in Poland to his trip this week to Europe for urgent talks with NATO and European allies, as Russian forces concentrate their fire upon cities and trapped civilians in a nearly month-old invasion of Ukraine.
Biden will first travel to Brussels and then to Poland to meet with leaders there, press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Sunday night.
Poland is a crucial ally in the Ukraine crisis. It is hosting thousands of American troops and is taking in more people fleeing the war in Ukraine — more than 2 million — than any other nation in the midst of the largest European refugee crisis in decades.
Biden will head to Warsaw for a bilateral meeting with President Andrzej Duda scheduled for Saturday. Biden will discuss how the U.S., along with its allies and partners, is responding to “the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created,” Psaki said.
On Monday ahead of his trip, Biden will discuss the war with European leaders. President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom are expected to take part, the White House said Sunday.
Justice Thomas hospitalized with infection, high court says
WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Clarence Thomas has been hospitalized because of an infection, the Supreme Court said Sunday.
Thomas, 73, has been at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., since Friday after experiencing “flu-like symptoms,” the court said in a statement.
The court offered no explanation for why it waited two days to disclose that the justice was in the hospital.
It also provided no additional details about the infection, but said Thomas is being treated with antibiotics and his symptoms are abating.
He could be released in the next couple of days, the court said.
‘Do the right thing’: How US, allies united to punish Putin
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just days before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, President Joe Biden quietly dispatched a team to European Union headquarters in Belgium.
These were not spy chiefs or generals, but experts in reading fine print and tracking the flow of money, computer chips and other goods around the world. Their mandate: inflict maximum pain on Russian President Vladimir Putin, making it harder, if not impossible, for him to fund a prolonged war in Ukraine and denying him access to technologies at the core of modern warfare.
There were intense meetings in February in Brussels, Paris, London and Berlin, often running six hours at a time as the allies tried to craft the details of a historic economic blockade, according to Biden administration officials. Some of the exports the U.S. wanted to ban were met with reluctance by the Europeans, who would essentially be telling their own companies to forgo several billion dollars in annual revenues from Russia.
When there was a deadlock, U.S. negotiators would put Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on the phone.
“You can say ‘no’ now, but when the body bags are coming out of Ukraine, you’re not going to want to be a holdout,” Raimondo said she told allied counterparts. “Do the right thing.”
Live updates: Ukraine refuses to surrender besieged Mariupol
The Russian military has offered the Ukrainian troops defending the strategic port of Mariupol to lay down arms and exit the city via humanitarian corridors, but that proposal was quickly rejected by the Ukrainian authorities.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said Sunday that all Ukrainian soldiers could leave the Azov Sea port Monday using safe routes for evacuating civilians that had been previously agreed with Ukraine and head to areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. He said that “all those who lay down arms will be guaranteed a safe exit from Mariupol.”
Mizintsev added that Russia will wait until 5 a.m. Monday for a written Kyiv’s response to the Russian proposal for the Ukrainian troops to leave Mariupol but didn’t say what action Russia will take if its “humanitarian offer” is rejected.
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in remarks carried by Ukrainska Pravda news outlet that Kyiv already had told Russia that “there can be no talk about surrender and laying down weapons.” She rejected the Russian statement as “manipulation.”
Mizintsev said that the deliveries of humanitarian supplies to the city will immediately follow if the Ukrainian troops agree to leave the city. He added that civilians will be free to choose whether to leave Mariupol or stay in the city.
US to declare Rohingya repression in Myanmar a ‘genocide’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration intends to declare that Myanmar’s years-long repression of the Rohingya Muslim population is a “genocide,” U.S. officials said Sunday.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to make the long-anticipated designation on Monday at an event at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not yet been publicly announced.
The designation does not in and of itself portend drastic new measures against Myanmar’s military-led government, which has already been hit with multiple layers of U.S. sanctions since the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic minority began in the country’s western Rakhine state in 2017.
But it could lead to additional international pressure on the government, which is already facing accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Human rights groups and lawmakers have been pressing both the Trump and Biden administrations to make the designation.
At least one member of Congress, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, welcomed the anticipated step, as did Refugees International.
AP Exclusive: US admiral says China fully militarized isles
OVER THE SOUTH CHINA SEA (AP) — China has fully militarized at least three of several islands it built in the disputed South China Sea, arming them with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems, laser and jamming equipment and fighter jets in an increasingly aggressive move that threatens all nations operating nearby, a top U.S. military commander said Sunday.
U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. John C. Aquilino said the hostile actions were in stark contrast to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s past assurances that Beijing would not transform the artificial islands in contested waters into military bases. The efforts were part of China’s flexing its military muscle, he said.
“I think over the past 20 years we’ve witnessed the largest military buildup since World War II by the PRC,” Aquilino told The Associated Press in an interview, using the initials of China’s formal name. “They have advanced all their capabilities and that buildup of weaponization is destabilizing to the region.”
There were no immediate comments from Chinese officials. Beijing maintains its military profile is purely defensive, arranged to protect what it says are its sovereign rights. But after years of increased military spending, China now boasts the world’s second largest defense budget after the U.S. and is rapidly modernizing its force with weapons systems including the J-20 stealth fighter, hypersonic missiles and two aircraft carriers, with a third under construction.
Aquilino spoke with the AP onboard a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft that flew near Chinese-held outposts in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, one of the most hotly contested regions in the world. During the patrol, the P-8A Poseidon plane was repeatedly warned by Chinese callers that it illegally entered what they said was China’s territory and ordered the plane to move away.
Ukraine war is backdrop in US push for hypersonic weapons
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Lagging behind Russia in developing hypersonic weapons, the U.S. Navy is rushing to field its first, with installation on a warship starting as soon as late next year.
The United States is in a race with Russia and China to develop these weapons, which travel at speeds akin to ballistic missiles but are difficult to shoot down because of their maneuverability.
The Russian military says it already deployed hypersonic missiles, claiming on both Saturday and Sunday to have deployed them against targets in Ukraine marking the weapon’s first use in combat. The Pentagon couldn’t confirm a hypersonic weapon was used in the attacks.
The American military is accelerating development to catch up.
The U.S. weapon would launch like a ballistic missile and would release a hypersonic glide vehicle that would reach speeds seven to eight times faster than the speed of sound before hitting the target.
Sweet 16 primer: All eyes on Peacocks after wild 1st weekend
Top seeds Gonzaga and Kansas are in. So is little Saint Peter’s, the giant killer and only the third No. 15 seed to make it this far in the NCAA Tournament.
And Coach K’s farewell tour continues as he and his Duke Blue Devils made it to the Sweet 16, too.
All eight of the regional semifinal matchups will be set by late Sunday night, capping a wild opening weekend that saw seven double-digit seeds win in the first round and four of them move on.
This is the second year in a row a No. 15 seed has captured the imagination of basketball fans.
Last year, it was Oral Roberts, which came within a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer from beating Arkansas and going to the Elite Eight. This time, it’s those lovable Saint Peter’s Peacocks, who knocked off Kentucky and Murray State and don’t have a single player that made the All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference first team.
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