The latest developments on the Russian-Ukrainian war:
MOSCOW — Russia’s main bank Sberbank announced on Wednesday that it was pulling out of European markets amid tougher Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The bank said its subsidiaries in Europe faced “abnormal outflow of funds and a threat to the safety of employees and branches”, according to Russian news agencies. They did not provide details about the threats.
Austrian and Czech authorities have taken action in recent days against Sberbank’s activities in Europe.
The move was the latest fallout from the Russian invasion last week, which led to a war across Ukraine and unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at isolating the Russian economy.
BOSTON — A firm that tracks cryptocurrency transactions says $33.8 million in digital currency has been donated to the Ukrainian government and non-governmental organizations since the start of the Russian invasion, nearly a third of which Tuesday.
Chief scientist Tom Robinson of Elliptic said most donations to date have been in bitcoin and ether. Some people are sending non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to the Ukrainian government’s Ethereum account.
Ukraine launched a call for contributions on Twitter last week. To date, it has received 30,000 donations, including $5.8 million from Gavin Wood, the British programmer who co-founded Ethereum. There were several other donations over $1 million.
Elliptic also warned against scammers tricking unsuspecting cryptocurrency holders into donating to Ukrainian causes.
Elliptic is among the companies helping law enforcement track cryptocurrency to combat money laundering.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is working on a “targeted tactical strategy” to ensure that cryptocurrency does not become a mechanism Moscow is able to use to avoid sanctions, according to a senior administration official.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the yet-to-be-announced decision, did not detail an exact timeline for when the new cryptocurrency milestones would be unveiled, but did said the area is one of many spaces Biden administration officials are looking to bolster as they seek to ensure sanctions against Russia have maximum impact.
The official said past experiences in Iran and Venezuela with circumventing sanctions inform the administration’s efforts. Additional export controls and new sanctions targets are also expected to be unveiled in the coming days and weeks to counter Russian sanctions evasion efforts, the official said.
Officials have previously been on the lookout for the use and creation of shell companies and alternative financial institutions that Moscow might try to employ to circumvent sanctions.
TOKYO — Sony is donating $2 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine through the UN Refugee Agency and aid group Save the Children.
The Japanese electronics and entertainment company has already announced that it will stop theatrical releases in Russia. Upcoming films include Morbius, featuring the Marvel comic book hero.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected and hope this crisis is resolved quickly,” Sony Pictures said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Mickey Mikitani, chief executive of Japanese online retailer Rakuten, donated 1 billion yen ($8.7 million) to the Ukrainian government through the embassy in Japan.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry said the Japanese embassy in Kyiv was temporarily closing, with operations moving to an office in Lviv, western Ukraine.
WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden said in his first State of the Union address that the United States was closing its airspace to all Russian flights in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said the United States was working to seize the yachts and apartments of Russian oligarchs.
Biden devoted the first 12 minutes of his speech to Ukraine. Lawmakers from both parties repeatedly stood and cheered as he praised the bravery of the Ukrainian people and condemned Russia’s assault.
He also warned of costs to the US economy, but said without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression would not be limited to Ukraine.
Biden said he and all members of Congress, regardless of political differences, were united “with an unwavering determination that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”
CHICAGO — Aircraft manufacturer Boeing said it has suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed its office in Kyiv.
The company said in a statement that it was also suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines.
“As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on the safety of our teammates in the region,” the statement said.
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it has evidence that Belarus, an ally of Russia, is preparing to send troops to Ukraine.
The ministry statement, posted on Facebook at midnight, said Belarusian troops have been brought into combat readiness and are concentrated near Ukraine’s northern border.
“In the past 24 hours, according to intelligence findings, there has been significant aviation activity. In addition, there was a movement of a column of vehicles with food and ammunition “approaching the border”, the statement said.
IRVING, Texas — ExxonMobil said it will not invest in new developments in Russia due to Russian military attacks on Ukraine.
The company said in a statement that it stands with the people of Ukraine as they seek to “defend their freedom and determine their own future as a nation.”
ExxonMobil operates the Sakhalin-1 project on behalf of an international consortium of Japanese, Indian and Russian companies. The company says that in response to recent events, it is beginning the process of shutting down operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 enterprise.
KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian airstrike hit a residential area near a hospital in Zhytomyr, a city about 140 kilometers west of the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday evening, Mayor Serih Sukhomlin said in a Facebook video. .
Ukrainian emergency services said the strike killed at least two people, burned down three houses and shattered windows in the hospital.
Zhytomyr is the headquarters of the elite 95th Air Assault Brigade, which may have been the intended target.
CHICAGO — United Airlines said Wednesday it has stopped using Russian airspace for flights between the United States and Mumbai and Delhi in India.
An airline spokesperson called the move “temporary” but gave no further details.
American Airlines avoided Russian airspace for flights between Delhi and New York by flying south of Russia.