European ambassadors met today in Brussels to discuss the European Commission’s proposal for new sanctions against Russia as Russian forces intensify attacks in Ukraine.
According to an EU source, there is an agreement to adopt this package very quickly, but there are many technical issues, which “is normal because it is a very dense package”, according to the source.
Meanwhile, the US has also announced a new round of sanctions, which includes the adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin and major Russian financial institutions.
On the ground in Ukraine, the number of civilian casualties continues to rise.
If you’re just reading now, here’s what you need to know today:
civilian casualties: At least 1,563 civilians have been killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The UN agency has so far recorded 3,776 civilian casualties in Ukraine: 1,563 dead and 2,213 wounded, it said in its latest update released on Wednesday.
In Kyiv, at least 89 people have been killed, including four children, and 167 houses have been damaged since the start of the Russian invasion, the Kyiv City State Administration wrote in a statement on a verified Telegram page on Wednesday. Another 398 people, including 20 children, were injured in the war.
Since February 24, Russian troops have damaged 44 kyiv schools, 11 administrative buildings, 26 kindergartens and an orphanage.
The administration urged its neighbors not to lose vigilance and protect themselves from the first signs of aerial alarms.
On the floor: The city of Severodonetsk has been heavily shelled, the head of the military administration of the Luhansk region said on Wednesday, adding that 10 high-rise buildings in the city were on fire.
“Russians fired on Severodonetsk: 10 high-rise buildings are on fire,” regional governor Serhii Haidai said on Telegram. “The casualty information is becoming clear.”
While the shelling did not hit any strategic or military installations, it did hit a workshop in Lysychansk and a house in Rubizhne, Haidai said.
Russian forces attacked towns and villages in the Lugansk region a total of 81 times last night, Haidai added.
The United States assesses that Russian forces have fully withdrawn from the areas near kyiv and Chernihiv to “reconsolidate and refit in Belarus and Russia,” according to a senior US defense official.
The official also said that Russia has not yet “secured” Mariupol despite isolating the city.
Russia has already launched more than 1,450 missiles at Ukraine since the invasion, the official said.
NATO chief predicts conflict in Ukraine could continue ‘for a long time’: Although Russia is now concentrating its assault on eastern Ukraine, NATO has seen “no indication” that Putin’s goal of controlling the entire country has changed, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a Brussels meeting of NATO allies’ foreign ministers, Stoltenberg also warned that the war in Ukraine could last for years.
“We have not seen signs that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine and also to rewrite the international order, so we must be prepared for the long term,” he said. “We have to be realistic and realize that this could go on for a long time, many months or even years.”
Foreign ministers of NATO countries will meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss increasing support for Ukraine.
sanctions: The US is taking additional steps to ramp up economic pressure on Russia and Putin following horrific footage from the Ukrainian city of Bucha, announcing new sanctions Wednesday on Russian financial institutions as well as some people, including adult daughters of Putin and the wife and daughter of his foreign minister.
“Today we are dramatically escalating the financial impact by imposing full lockdown sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank,” a senior administration official told reporters.
Sberbank owns almost a third of the total assets of Russia’s banking sector, the official noted, adding that the US has now completely blocked “more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector.”
Second, the senior official announced: “In line with the G7 and the EU, we announce a ban on new investment in Russia.” That will be implemented with an executive order signed by the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
The United States will not participate in G20 meetings in which Russia participates, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen said she had made that position clear to other finance ministers in the group.