BELGRADE, Serbia — A senior Serbian official says Belgrade will never impose sanctions or join the Western “hysteria” against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia’s Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Tuesday: “Serbia will never be part of the anti-Russian hysteria in which the property of Russian citizens and the property of the Russian Federation is stolen, just as we will not ban Russian media.”
The Balkan country is a staunch ally of Russia, though it has condemned its invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia is seeking membership of the European Union, but it is the only European country that has refused to join international sanctions against the Kremlin.
MOSCOW — The Kremlin has refused to comment on a top tabloid newspaper’s reporting of Russian military casualties in Ukraine.
The daily Komsomolskaya Pravda reported Monday that 9,861 soldiers have been killed in action in Ukraine and another 16,153 have been wounded. It cited the Russian defense ministry.
The newspaper quickly removed the article from its website, describing it as the work of hackers.
Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on it at Tuesday’s conference call with reporters, referring questions about the military casualties to the defense ministry.
On March 2, the defense ministry reported 498 soldiers had been killed and hasn’t released any casualty numbers since then.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government has frozen nearly 400 million euros ($440 million) in funds linked to Russians targeted by sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag revealed the latest figures on frozen accounts in a letter to Parliament on Tuesday.
She said that more than 242 million euros ($267 million) in funds linked to Russians have been frozen at Dutch trust companies and nearly 145 million euros ($160 million) in bank accounts.
The remainder of the frozen assets are held at investment companies and pension funds.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s natural resources minister says wildfires have been extinguished in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is under the control of Russian forces.
The fires have raised concern about the possible release of radiation from the plant, where a 1986 explosion and fire sent radioactive emissions across large parts of Europe.
But Natural Resources Minister Ruslan Strelets said Tuesday that radiation levels in the area are within the norms.
Ukrainian officials had earlier accused Russian forces of deliberately setting the fires or causing them with artillery shelling.
PARIS — A group of 20 Ukrainian children with cancer and leukemia has arrived in Paris as part of a rescue plan coordinated by French First Lady Brigitte Macron and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska.
The children are accompanied by their parents as they flee the war with Russia. They arrived at Orly airport near the French capital on Monday evening.
Speaking to Le Parisien newspaper in an interview, Zelenska said “when it became clear that it was impossible to treat children with cancer in the bomb shelters, we immediately sought a solution.”
She said some of the evacuated children will remain in Poland, while others are heading to France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Canada.
ROME — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging Italy to beef up sanctions against Russia and seize more assets from President Vladimir Putin and his allies as a way of pressuring Moscow into negotiating an end to the war.
Zelenskyy spoke to the Italian parliament Tuesday via video from Kyiv, as he has done with other foreign parliaments. Wearing a collared shirt and speaking through an Italian translator, Zelenskyy told Italian lawmakers that he had just spoken by phone to Pope Francis and that the pontiff had endorsed Ukraine’s right to defend itself.
He said that 117 children have been killed in the war with Russia and that the city of Mariupol has been flattened by the Russian onslaught.
He warned that Europe’s security is at risk if Russia advances and that grain deliveries to the developing world are being jeopardized because Ukraine’s farmers can’t plant crops.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi praised the “heroic” resistance of the Ukrainian people.
MOSCOW — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has rejected U.S. President Joe Biden’s warning that Russia may be planning a cyberattack against the United States.
Asked about Biden’s comments, Peskov said Tuesday that “the Russian Federation, unlike many Western countries including the United States, does not engage in banditry on the state level.”
Biden told a meeting of corporate CEOs on Monday that “evolving intelligence” indicated a cyberattack may be planned. He urged private companies to invest in their own security to counter cyberattacks.
Biden has suggested a cyberattack could be Russia’s response to economic sanctions imposed by the U.S.
GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency says more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, passing another milestone in an exodus that has led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
UNHCR reported Tuesday that 3.56 million people have left Ukraine, with Poland taking in the lion’s share — more than 2.1 million — followed by Romania with more than 540,000 and Moldova with more than 367,000.
Shortly after the invasion on Feb. 24, UNHCR predicted that some 4 million refugees might leave Ukraine, though it has been re-assessing that prediction. The outflows have been slowing in recent days after peaking at more than 200,000 each on two straight days in early March.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that nearly 6.5 million people are internally displaced within Ukraine, suggesting that some if not most of them might to flee abroad if the war continues.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, says it has confirmed 62 attacks on health care assets in Ukraine since the conflict began and through last Friday. The attacks caused 15 deaths and 37 injuries. The assets include hospitals and medical facilities, transport of medical supplies, warehouses, and health care workers.
MOSCOW — Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov says he wants to auction off his 2021 Nobel Peace Prize medal to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees.
Muratov called Tuesday in the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which he edits, for people to “share with refugees, the wounded and children who need urgent treatment what is dear to you and has a value for others.”
Muratov is asking auction houses about the possibility of organizing a sale.
Muratov said last year he was giving away his share of the Nobel prize money to causes including independent media, a Moscow hospice, and care for children with spinal problems. He said he wouldn’t keep any himself.
LONDON — Two Russian pranksters are claiming credit for tricking Britain’s defense secretary into a hoax call with a man purporting to be Ukraine’s prime minister.
A video of the prank circulated on YouTube on Tuesday. It appeared after the U.K. accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government of backing efforts to secure sensitive or embarrassing information through hoax calls.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace last week had a video call with someone he thought was Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. Instead, he was speaking to “Vovan and Lexus,” a pair of hoaxers who had previously targeted Britain’s Prince Harry.
The video shows Wallace speaking from Poland to a caller who says Ukraine wants to advance its “nuclear program” to protect itself from Moscow, something Russian state media has baselessly claimed in the past.
The Ministry of Defense said the video had been “doctored.” Wallace said last week that he ended the call after it strayed into sensitive subjects over a non-secure line.
MADRID — Authorities in Gibraltar have detained a superyacht linked to a Russian tycoon who is the target of British sanctions over Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Gibraltar is a tiny British overseas territory on the southernmost tip of the European mainland, bordering Spain.
According to Gibraltar’s public broadcaster, GBC, the yacht is called Axioma and is believed to be owned by Dmitrievich Pumpyansky. He is chairman of the board of directors of PJSC, a main steel pipe supplier for Russia’s oil and gas industry.
Pumpyansky was also included earlier this month in a European Union list of Russian sanctioned individuals.
The Gibraltar government said late Monday it would not have normally granted the vessel permission to enter its waters given its “ultimate beneficial ownership,” but that port authorities allowed it in after “it was confirmed to be the subject of an arrest action by a leading international bank in the Supreme Court of Gibraltar.” The statement didn’t specify the legal claims from creditors.
Yachts owned or linked to super-rich Russian oligarchs have been among the first assets seized or frozen by Western governments as part of their response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Authorities in Italy, France and Spain have impounded several luxury vessels in the crackdown.
ANKARA, Turkey — A second superyacht belonging to Chelsea soccer club owner and sanctioned oligarch Roman Abramovich reportedly has docked in a resort in southwestern Turkey.
Turkey has not imposed economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine last month, nor has it frozen assets belonging to top Russian businessmen linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The private DHA news agency said Tuesday the Bermuda-registered Eclipse docked in the resort of Marmaris.
A day earlier, Abramovich’s Bermuda-flagged luxury yacht My Solaris arrived in the nearby resort of Bodrum, triggering a protest by a group of Ukrainians who boarded a small motorboat and tried to prevent the yacht from docking.
NATO member Turkey has close ties to both Russia and Ukraine. It has criticized Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but has also positioned itself as a neutral party trying to mediate between the two.
LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry says Russian forces have not managed to take over the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol despite weeks of bombardment and days of street fighting.
In an update posted on social media, U.K. officials say that “despite heavy fighting, Ukrainian forces continue to repulse Russian attempts to occupy” the city.
It says Russian forces have made “limited progress” elsewhere in Ukraine in the last day, and remain “largely stalled in place.”
The Ukrainian military said Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were still defending Mariupol and destroyed a Russian patrol boat and electronic warfare complex. But the defense ministry said Russia for now controls the land corridor from Crimea, the peninsula it annexed in 2014, and is blocking Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Mariupol residents described fleeing through street-to-street gun battles
— U.S. President Joe Biden will thank Poland’s president for the country’s efforts to shelter Ukrainian refugees
— The U.N. is divided over mention Russia’s invasion in a resolution on the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine
— The extent of the horror is not yet known as Mariupol holds out against Russian demands for surrender
Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage
PARIS — France’s foreign ministry has announced that the country sent 55 metric tons (60 tons) of humanitarian aid to Ukraine via Poland, including computers, medical equipment, baby formula and generators.
The 2.4 million euros ($2.6 million) in emergency aid was sent on an A330 cargo plane from Paris to Warsaw, the Polish capital, France said in a statement late Monday. It said that “in liaison with the Polish authorities, the material will be handed over to the Ukrainian authorities without delay.”
The medical equipment — which weighs some 10 metric tons (11 tons) — is said to include 10 oxygen generators designated for intensive care units in addition to 9 metric tons (10 tons) of medicines.
The aid includes 31 generators, six of which are high-capacity generators “aimed at strengthening the electrical safety of Ukrainian health facilities.”
Eight metric tons (9 tons) of computer and internet access material — such as smartphones, computers, routers and 60 kilometers (37 miles) of optical fiber — was also included in the package.
TOKYO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to virtually deliver his address to the Japanese parliament on Wednesday to rally international support for his country’s fight against Russian invasion.
Japan, unlike in the past, has been acting tough against Russia, in line with other Group of Seven countries, though Tokyo’s steps have triggered Moscow’s retaliation. A compromise could set a bad precedence in East Asia, where China is increasingly making assertive military actions.
Zelenskyy’s speech, expected to be about 10 minutes, will be shown in a meeting room at the lower house — the more powerful of Japan’s two-chamber parliament which Prime Minister Fumio Kishida belongs to. Zelenskyy has made virtual addresses to the U.S. Congress, as well as parliaments in Europe, Canada, and Israel.
Foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, have delivered their addresses in person during visits to Japan as state guests, but an online speech by a foreign leader is unprecedented.
On Monday, Russia announced a decision to discontinue peace treaty talks with Japan over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects there, citing Tokyo’s sanctions against Russian invasion of Ukraine.
TOKYO — Japan denounced Russia on Tuesday over its decision to discontinue peace treaty talks over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects in retaliation for Tokyo’s sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The two countries never signed a peace treaty formally ending World War II hostilities because of their dispute over the Russian-held islands north of Hokkaido, which Moscow took at the end of the war.
“The latest situation has been all caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Tuesday. He called Russia’s response “extremely unjustifiable and absolutely unacceptable.”
Japan has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia in recent weeks, including freezing some individual assets, banning exports of luxury goods and high-technology equipment to the country and revoking Russia’s most favored nation trade status.