Video shows Russian forces digging trenches in highly radioactive no-go zone near Chernobyl

European ambassadors gathered in Brussels today to discuss the European Commission’s proposal for new sanctions against Russia as Russian forces step up their attacks in Ukraine.

According to a European source, there is an agreement to adopt this package very quickly, but there are many technical questions, which “is normal because it is a very dense package”, according to the source.

Meanwhile, the United States also announced a new round of sanctions, including targeting 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:

Civil losses: At least 1,563 civilians have been killed since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 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 killed and 2,213 injured, it said in its latest update released on Wednesday.

In Kyiv, at least 89 people have been killed, including four children, and 167 houses damaged since the start of the Russian invasion, Kyiv City State Administration wrote in a statement on a Telegram page on Wednesday. verified. Another 398 people, including 20 children, were injured during the war.

Since February 24, Russian troops have damaged 44 kyiv schools, 11 administrative buildings, 26 kindergartens and an orphanage.

The administration has urged its residents not to lose their vigilance and to seek shelter at the first signs of an aerial alert.

On the ground: The city of Severodonetsk was 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.

“The Russians fired on Severodonetsk – 10 high-rise buildings are on fire,” regional governor Serhii Haidai said on Telegram. “The information about the victims is being clarified.”

Although the shelling did not hit any strategic or military installations, it did hit a factory workshop in Lysychansk and a house in Rubizhne, Haidai said.

Russian forces struck towns and villages in the Lugansk region a total of 81 times during the previous night, Haidai added.

The United States believes that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from areas near Kyiv and Chernihiv to “reconsolidate and redevelop in Belarus and Russia”, according to a senior US defense official.

The official also said that Russia has still not “secured” Mariupol despite the city’s isolation.

Russia has now launched more than 1,450 missiles against Ukraine since the invasion, the official said.

NATO chief predicts conflict in Ukraine could continue ‘for a long time’: Although Russia is now focusing its assault on eastern Ukraine, NATO has seen ‘no indication’ that Putin’s goal of controlling the whole country has changed, the secretary said on Wednesday General Jens Stoltenberg.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting in Brussels of NATO allies’ foreign ministers, Stoltenberg also warned that the war in Ukraine could drag on for years.

“We haven’t seen any indication that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine and also to rewrite the international order, so we have to be ready for the long term,” he said. declared. “We have to be realistic and realize that it can be a long time, months or even years.”

NATO foreign ministers are meeting on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss stepping up support for Ukraine.

Punishments: The United States is taking further steps to increase economic pressure on Russia and Putin following horrific images of the Ukrainian town of Bucha, announcing new sanctions on Wednesday against Russian financial institutions, as well as certain people, including Putin’s adult daughters and his foreign minister’s wife and daughter.

“Today we are significantly compounding the financial shock by imposing full blocking sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank,” a senior administration official said. to journalists.

Sberbank owns almost a third of the total assets of the Russian banking sector, the official noted, adding that the United States has now fully blocked “more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector”.

Second, the senior official announced, “In agreement with the G7 and the EU, we are announcing a ban on all new investment in Russia.” This will be implemented with an executive order signed by US President Joe Biden.

The United States will not attend G20 meetings in which Russia attends, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Wednesday.

Speaking before the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen said she made that position clear to the other finance ministers in the group.

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