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Latest on Russia-Ukraine: Russian delegation ready today to resume talks with Ukraine; China says its citizen was shot, injured while evacuating Ukraine

The latest on Russia and Ukraine from Canada and around the world Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

7:27 a.m. As Russian tanks rolling through Ukrainian cities meet fierce local resistance, some of Canada’s top business leaders are fighting the invasion another way — by pulling their money out of Russia.

More than 100 of Canada’s top business leaders and investment managers have signed a letter vowing to sell off all of their Russian investments, and are calling on others investors to do the same.

The open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Jolie, was written as the deadly toll of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to mount.

Read the full story from the Star’s Josh Rubin

6:14 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is appealing to Jews around the world to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which significant Jewish sites have been hit.

Zelenskyy made the appeal on Wednesday, a day after a Russian missile strike damaged the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial on the outskirts of Kyiv, where Nazi occupiers killed more than 33,000 Jews over two days in 1941.

Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, said: “I appeal now to all the Jews of the world — don’t you see what is happening? Therefore, it is very important that millions of Jews around the world do not remain silent now.”

Earlier, shelling hit the town of Uman, a significant pilgrimage site for Hasidic Jews.

6:07 a.m.: A Kremlin spokesman says a Russian delegation will be ready on Wednesday evening to resume talks with Ukrainian officials about the war in Ukraine.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that “in the second half of the day, closer to evening, our delegation will be in place to await Ukrainian negotiators.”

There was no immediate word from Ukrainian authorities about their plans.

Asked about the location of the talks Peskov said only: “I won’t announce the place ahead of time.”

Peskov said Putin’s culture adviser Vladimir Medinsky remains the main negotiator for Russia.

The first round of talks on resolving the Russia-Ukraine war were held near the Belarus-Ukraine border last Sunday.

They produced no breakthrough, though the two sides agreed to meet again.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin of trying to force him into concessions by continuing to press its invasion.

6:06 a.m.: The Ukrainian embassy in the United Arab Emirates says the Gulf country is reimposing visa requirements on Ukrainians, in an effort to stop anyone fleeing the war against Russia heading there.

The embassy posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that the suspension went into effect March 1. Any Ukrainian passport holders wanting to visit the United Arab Emirates will now need a visa first.

The energy-rich UAE, which relies on Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports, is home to some 15,000 Ukrainian residents among its roughly 8 million foreign residents and 1 million Emirati citizens. Before the coronavirus pandemic, around a quarter-million Ukrainian tourists visited the UAE.

The UAE, like other Gulf Arab states, does not recognize individuals fleeing war and has not permitted refugees from Syria, Iraq and other wars to seek asylum or seek resettlement.

The UAE, which is home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, abstained in a U.N. Security Council vote late last week condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

6:06 a.m.: Pope Francis is thanking Poland for opening its borders and homes to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion.

Francis gave a special shout-out to Poland during his Wednesday general audience. The weekly appointment coincided with Ash Wednesday, which Francis has designated as a day for fasting and prayers for peace in Ukraine.

Speaking to Polish pilgrims, Francis said he was “profoundly grateful” for Poland’s gestures of solidarity.

“You are the first ones who have supported Ukraine opening your borders, your hearts, the doors of your homes to the Ukrainians who are escaping the war,” Francis said. “You are generously offering everything necessary so that they can live in a dignified way despite the dramatic moment.”

6:05 a.m.: Russia claims its military has taken control of the area around Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant.

That’s according to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

It said Wednesday it had received a letter from Russia saying personnel at the Zaporizhzhia plant continued their “work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in normal mode of operation.”

The letter added: “The radiation levels remain normal.”

Zaporizhzhia is the largest of Ukraine’s nuclear sites, with six out of the country’s 15 reactors.

Already, Russia has seized control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

The IAEA says that it has received a request from Ukraine to “provide immediate assistance in co-ordinating activities in relation to the safety” of Chernobyl and other sites.

6:04 a.m.: Turkey’s foreign minister says Russia has withdrawn a request to send four warships to the Black Sea through the Turkish straits.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that Moscow had agreed to a “friendly request” by Turkey, a NATO member.

Turkey — which has been trying to balance its close relations with both Ukraine and Russia — announced this week that it will implement an international convention that allows it to shut down the straits to warships belong to warring countries.

The convention provides an exception for warships returning to Black Sea ports they are registered with.

Cavusoglu said three of the Russian ships were not registered with Black Sea naval bases.

6:03 a.m.: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is reversing course, saying his government will also provide offensive military equipment directly to Ukraine.

Those supplies will be in addition to what Spain is already sending through the European Union.

Sánchez told parliament Wednesday he is changing Spanish policy because other parties were demanding it and because he wanted political unity around the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last week, it sent 20 tons of protective military gear and aid to Kyiv.

Spain contributes to NATO contingents in the Baltics and other allies in eastern Europe.

6:03 a.m.: China says one of its citizens was shot and injured while evacuating from Ukraine.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the incident occurred on Tuesday while the person was leaving on their own. The Chinese Embassy in Kyiv immediately contacted the person to provide assistance.

Wang told reporters at a daily briefing that the injured person is out of danger. He said the embassy is following the person’s progress and will continue to provide aid.

Details surrounding the shooting are unclear, pointing to the chaotic situation as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and thousands of foreigners seek to escape the fighting.

Beijing has refused to criticize the Russian assault or even describe it as an invasion or war, arguing that NATO and the West had failed to properly address Russia’s “legitimate security concerns.”

As fighting erupted last week, the Foreign Ministry advised its citizens to display a Chinese flag on their vehicles when venturing out. Just two days later, it advised them instead to show no signs of Chinese nationality, apparently reflecting concerns over a hardening of anti-China rhetoric online.

In a phone call Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged Ukraine to fulfil its “international responsibility” in ensuring the safety of Chinese nationals.

6:02 a.m.: Videos circulated online of an apparent attack on the regional police and intelligence headquarters in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. It shows a building with its roof blown off and its top floor on fire.

Pieces of the five-story building are strewn across adjacent streets.

The Ukrainian government’s centre for strategic communications released images Wednesday of strikes hitting Kharkiv, with balls of fire lighting up the city skyline over populated areas.

Kharkiv resident Marina Boreiko described strikes hitting a neighbouring building Tuesday, and her shock at seeing bodies lying in the rubble.

“Today I survived a bombing,” she told The Associated Press, repeatedly choking back tears.

“A Russian plane dropped a bomb on the house next door. My boyfriend and I were at home. We felt a strong whistle, and I realized it was flying toward us. We were in the corridor then, and we felt the explosion from there.”

As dust rose up, she said, “the first thing I heard was children crying. Our neighbours have three children and the only thing I was thinking about in that moment was, ‘God not them, please, only not them.’”

6:01 a.m.: The European Union is stepping up aid for Ukraine and is moving toward granting temporary protection to those fleeing Russia’s invasion.

The EU Commission announced Wednesday it will give temporary residence permits to the refugees and allow them rights to education and work in the 27-nation bloc.

The move still has to be approved by the member states, but they already expressed broad support over the weekend.

EU Commission President Urusla von der Leyen says “all those fleeing Putin’s bombs are welcome in Europe. We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home.”

On Tuesday, she already committed at least half a billion euros of the bloc’s budget to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine.

6:01 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed concern that Russian attacks could threaten holy religious sites and said Russian troops are trying to “erase our history.”

In a speech posted on Facebook, Zelenskyy on Wednesday denounced a Russian strike that hit Holocaust memorial site Babi Yar in Kyiv.

He said: “This is beyond humanity. Such missile strike means that for many Russians our Kyiv is absolute foreign. They know nothing about our capital, about our history. They have orders to erase our history, our country and all of us.”

“What will be next if even Babi Yar (is hit), what other ‘military’ objects, ‘NATO bases’ are threatening Russia? St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Lavra, Andrew’s Church?” he asked, referring to sites in Kyiv held sacred by Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox believers around the world.

Zelenskyy also claimed almost 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the invasion began last Thursday. Russia has not released overall casualty numbers and the figure could not be confirmed.

6 a.m.: Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed Wednesday that Russian aviation disabled the main TV tower in Ukraine’s capital in an airstrike, but said the attack did not hit any residential buildings.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov did not address deaths from Tuesday’s strike or damage to the adjacent Babi Yar memorial to Kyiv’s Holocaust victims. He said the attack was aimed at disabling Ukraine’s ability to stage “information attacks.”

Ukraine’s State Service for Emergency Situations said the strikes on the TV tower killed five people and left five more wounded. Ukrainian television stations briefly went down after the strike but were later restored.

Konashenkov also said Russian forces had seized the southern city of Kherson. The claim could not immediately be confirmed.

Russian forces have faced tougher than expected resistance since invading Ukraine from three sides last week.

5:59 a.m.: A firm that tracks cryptocurrency transactions says $33.8 million in the digital currency has been donated to Ukraine’s government and non-governmental organizations there since the start of Russia’s invasion, nearly a third of it on Tuesday.

Chief Scientist Tom Robinson of Elliptic said most donations to date have been in bitcoin and ether. Some people are sending nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, to the Ukrainian government’s ethereum account.

Ukraine issued a plea 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 have been several other donations of more than $1 million.

Elliptic also warned of scammers tricking unsuspecting cryptocurrency holders wanting to donate to Ukrainian causes.

Elliptic is among firms that help law enforcement track cryptocurrency to combat money laundering.

5:59 a.m.: The Biden administration is working on a “focused tactical strategy” to make certain that cryptocurrency doesn’t become a mechanism that Moscow is able to utilize to avert sanctions, according to a senior administration official.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet to be announced move, did not detail an exact timeline for when the new steps on cryptocurrency would be unveiled, but said the area is one of several spaces that the Biden administration officials are looking to shore up as it looks to make certain that sanctions on Russia have maximum impact.

The official said past experiences in Iran and Venezuela with sanctions evasion are informing the administration’s efforts. Additional export controls and new sanction targets are also expected to be unveiled in the days and weeks ahead to counter Russian sanction evasion efforts, the official said.

Officials have already been on the lookout for the use and creation of front companies and alternative financial institutions that Moscow might try to employ to get around sanctions.

5:58 a.m.: Sony is donating $2 million as humanitarian aid to Ukraine though the United Nations Refugee Agency and aid group Save the Children.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment company has already said it will halt theatrical releases in Russia. Upcoming films include Morbius, starring the Marvel Comics hero.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be 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 is closing temporarily, with operations transferred to an office in Lviv, western Ukraine.

5:57 a.m.: Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says it has evidence that Belarus, a Russian ally, is preparing to send troops into Ukraine.

The ministry statement, posted on Facebook at midnight, said the Belarusian troops have been brought into combat readiness and are concentrated close to Ukraine’s northern border.

“During the past 24 hours, according to intelligence findings, there has been significant aircraft activity. In addition, there has been movement of a column of vehicles with food and ammunition” approaching the border,” the statement said.

5:57 a.m.: ExxonMobil says it will not invest in new developments in Russia because of Russian military attacks on Ukraine.

The company said in a statement it supports 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, they are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture.

5:56 a.m.: A Russian airstrike hit a residential area near a hospital late Tuesday in Zhytomyr, a city about 85 miles (140 kilometres) west of Ukraine’s capital, Mayor Serih Sukhomlin said in a Facebook video.

Ukraine’s emergency services said the strike killed at least two people, set three homes on fire and broke the windows in the hospital.

Zhytomyr is the home of the elite 95th Air Assault Brigade, which may have been the intended target.

Wednesday 5:55 a.m.: United Airlines said Wednesday it has stopped using Russian airspace for flights between the U.S. and Mumbai and Delhi in India.

An airline spokesperson called the move “temporary,” but gave no further details.

American Airlines has avoided Russian airspace for flights between Delhi and New York by flying south of Russia.

Read Tuesday’s Russia-Ukraine news.

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