UKRAINE | Today is day 15 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine [more]. Here are your updates:
- Officials in the southern Ukraine city of Mariupol accused Russian air forces of dropping several bombs on a maternity hospital in the city center yesterday. Reports say at least three people were killed and seventeen injured in the bombing.
- The European Union agreed Wednesday to expand sanctions against Russia and its ally Belarus, including SWIFT restrictions for Belarusian banks, sanctions against more than 150 individuals, and punitive measures against Russia's maritime industry.
- Talks between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine are underway this morning in the Turkish city of Antalya. Reports say one aim of the meeting is to pave the way for a summit between the leaders of Russia and Ukraine and that the talks appear to have failed to yield progress on a potential cease-fire.
- The U.S. House of Representatives voted 414-17 yesterday to approve legislation that would ban the import of Russian oil to the United States. The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, also encourages a review of Russia’s status in the World Trade Organization and signals U.S. support for sanctions on Russian officials over human rights violations. In a separate measure, the House approved $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as part of a wider spending bill.
- Ukrainian officials say damage to a high-voltage power line to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station caused by Russian shelling could result in a failure of systems that regulate radiation at the plant and lead to atmospheric leaks of radiation. The Chernobyl plant is currently under Russian control.
- U.S. officials warned Wednesday that Russia might seek to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine as the White House rejected Russian claims of illegal chemical weapons development by western countries within Ukraine.
- E-commerce giant Amazon has announced that it is suspending the shipment of orders to Russia. In a similar move, YouTube and Google Play store have announced the suspension of all payment-based services in Russia.
- Fitch Ratings has downgraded Russia’s government debt and warned that the country is in imminent danger of defaulting on its debt payments, according to a Reuters report.
SOUTH KOREA | Conservative Yoon Suk-yeol was declared the winner of South Korea's presidential election yesterday, defeating liberal Lee Jae-myung in the race to replace outgoing President Moon Jae-in. [more]
NORTH KOREA | North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said yesterday that his country will launch multiple reconnaissance satellites in the coming years to monitor what he says is aggressive military activities by the U.S. and its regional allies. [more]
COVID-19 | Health officials in Austria have announced that the country will not move forward with its mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults, which was set to go into effect later this month. [more]
ECONOMY | Economic data from the U.S. government to be released later today is expected to show that consumer inflation rose 7.9% in February, compared to year-ago levels. At that level, the increase would be the largest since January 1992. [more]
CRYPTO | U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order yesterday aimed at establishing the first comprehensive federal digital assets strategy for the United States. The executive order also urges the Federal Reserve to explore whether the central bank should create its own digital currency. [more]
BUSINESS | E-commerce giant Amazon has announced plans for its first stock split in more than 20 years. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Amazon indicates that it expects to split shares 20-to-1. The company also says it will buy back $10 billion of its shares. The stock split is expected to take effect in June. [more]
TEXAS ELECTIONS | The Associated Press reports that 17% of mail-in ballots in Texas' recent primary elections were flagged for rejection -- a rate much higher than that seen in the 2020 general election, when federal data showed that less than 1% of mail-in ballots statewide were rejected. [more]
BASEBALL | Major League Baseball cancelled an additional 93 games and pushed back this season's opening day to April 14 after the latest round of labor negotiations between the league and players failed to result in an agreement yesterday. [more]
TENNIS | Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Indian Wells and Miami Open tennis tournaments - the first two Masters Series events of the year. Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, says U.S. health regulations prevent him from traveling to the United States. [more]
TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1969, James Earl Ray pled guilty to murdering American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. [more history]