Instant coverage of Russia-Ukraine conflict: Biden and Zelensky discuss raising Russia’s cost of war. U.S. President Joe Biden held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky late Saturday. They talked about what the United States, its allies, partners, and private companies are doing to raise the cost of war for Russia. Biden said his administration is stepping up security, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and is working with Congress to get more funding.
The number of Ukrainian refugees will reach nearly 1.5 million on Sunday as Russia continues its offensive 11 days after it invaded Ukraine. Kyiv has urged Western countries to do more in response, including increased sanctions on Russia and more weapons to Ukraine.
Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of being responsible for the aborted ceasefire. If the two sides can reach an agreement on a ceasefire, people in the two southern cities of Mariupol and Vornovaha, which are covered by Russian forces, can flee the war zone. A new round of negotiations is tentatively scheduled for Monday. Meanwhile, Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homes are pouring into neighboring Poland, Romania, Slovakia and other countries.
The Ukrainian military claimed in a video released Saturday that a Russian combat helicopter was shot down.
Video footage showed the helicopter being hit by a missile apparently fired from the ground. The helicopter immediately burst into flames and fell to the ground.
However, for the Ukrainian military’s claim, the Associated Press has no independent channel to verify the authenticity of the Ukrainian military’s statement, nor the time and location of the video.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday (March 5) that he had a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss security and financial support for Ukraine and continued sanctions against Russia.
Zelensky tweeted, “As part of an ongoing conversation, I have another conversation with the president.”
In a call with Zelensky, President Biden highlighted actions the United States, its allies and partners, and private industry are taking to make Russian aggression in Ukraine more costly, the White House said in a statement . Biden welcomed the decision by Visa and Mastercard to suspend operations in Russia.
Biden noted that the U.S. government is increasing security, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding, the statement said.
The White House said the two leaders also discussed issues such as the Russian attack on Ukraine’s nuclear power plant and recent Russian-Ukrainian negotiations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday (March 5) urged other leaders to join a six-point response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including humanitarian support and the harshest possible economic pressure on Russia.
Johnson will meet the leaders of Canada, the Netherlands and Central Europe in London next Monday. He said Saturday that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion must fail.
“It is not enough to express our support for a rules-based international order. We must defend it from continued attempts to rewrite the rules with military force,” Johnson said in a statement.
Visa and Mastercard announced Saturday (March 5) that they are suspending operations in Russia.
Mastercard said that credit cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the company’s network, and credit cards issued outside Russia will not be accepted in stores or ATMs in Russia. The company said the decision was made after consultation with customers, partners and the government.
Visa said it is working with customers and partners in Russia and will stop all Visa transactions in the coming days.
The two credit card companies have previously blocked several Russian financial institutions from accessing their payment networks. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States and other Western countries imposed severe economic and financial sanctions on Russia, and the Russian people have already felt the impact of the sanctions.
US Secretary of State Blinken visited Poland on March 5 and met with the Polish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in Rzeszow, a city near the Polish-Ukrainian border. “We will defend every inch of NATO territory,” Blinken reiterated at a news conference. Poland is a member of NATO and has about 10,000 US troops in its territory, more than half of which have arrived in recent weeks.
The Associated Press reported that the mayor of Mariupol said Saturday night (March 5) local time (March 5) that the Russian army has intensified its shelling of the port city, including the use of warplanes.
Vadym Boychenko told Ukrainian TV that the city is in a very difficult state of siege. “Continued shelling of residential areas is underway, and warplanes have dropped bombs on residential areas.”
He said thousands of women, children and elderly people who arrived in the morning to evacuate through the security corridor were being attacked by artillery fire. Russia had previously pledged to temporarily halt the shelling of Mariupol and the eastern city of Volnovaka, but violated the ceasefire.
Russia has made significant progress in southern Ukraine in an apparent attempt to cut off Ukraine’s access to the sea. Taking down Mariupol, which has been resisting for six days, would allow Russia to create a land corridor to Crimea.