Ukraine invasion: What to know as Russian forces target Kyiv:
A man walks past a TV screen with image of Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
Russia has made unsubstantiated claims that the US funded biological labs in Ukraine. The US has been quick to refute this claim which is yet to be supported by any available evidence. Earlier this week, China’s Foreign Ministry stoked the matter by repeating the Russian claim and by calling for an investigation into the matter. American officials have called this an “information war” and say this could lay the groundwork for a false-flag operation. Russia has been found guilty of using chemical weapons in the past despite it, China, and the US all being signatories to international conventions against their use. China has used this conflict to repeat its claim that COVID-19 was created in a US lab.
Russia strikes near Ukrainian capital; port city under siege:
A view of a destroyed tram damaged by shelling, at a tram depot, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 12, 2022. Andrew Marienko/Associated Press
Russian forces shelled the downtown of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday. Mariupol has endured some of Ukraine’s worst punishment since Russia invaded. Russia’s unceasing barrages have killed more than 1,500 people in the city and thwarted repeated attempts to bring supplies to and help evacuate the remaining 430,000 trapped civilians. The situation in Mariupol has led many within the city to take refuge in the iconic Sultan Suleiman Mosque including 86 Turkish nationals, 34 of which being children. The Ukrainian government said on Saturday that the Mosque was hit, but an unverified Instagram post by a man claiming to be the mosque association’s president said it was spared when a bomb fell just 750 yards away. This situation could turn into a humanitarian catastrophe as electricity, gas, and water supplies in the city have been knocked out. Russia may be taking Mariupol and other ports on the Azov Sea in order to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia built an economy like a fortress but the pain is real:
Small number of visitors walk inside the GUM department store in Moscow, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo, File)
Russia’s economy has been dealt a severe blow by Western sanctions. Immediate effects of this include the value of the ruble plunging, prices of goods rising, and foreign businesses fleeing the country. Beyond these short term pains, Russia’s economy will likely see a deepening of its long-fought stagnation. Despite this, the Russian government’s extensive involvement in the economy and the money it is still making from oil and gas exports — even with bans from the US and Britain — will help soften the blow for many workers, pensioners, and government employees. Russia is no stranger to economic turmoil, having endured three serious financial crises in the past three decades. The central bank has taken steps to bolster the ruble and restrict withdrawals in foreign currency as the government announces broader measures to keep foreign investors from leaving. While these restrictions protect against economic collapse, they also close off the economy to potential growth.