UPDATED 7:23 AM PT – Monday, February 28, 2022
The U.S. State Department is advising American citizens who are in Russia to leave the country “immediately.” According to a security alert released by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow Sunday, commercial airlines are canceling flights to and from Russia. The U.S. Embassy added, Americans should consider leaving Russia while some commercial options are still available.
This comes amid elevated global tensions as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine. Several NATO member states have since closed their air space to Russian planes, which has put international travel at risk of major disruptions.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed more than 100 civilians, including seven children, and injured over 300 others. United Nations Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet gave the update Monday while also expressing she fears the death toll could be much higher. Bachelet met with Ukrainian and Russian ambassadors for a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva and they all agreed to hold an urgent debate this week on Russia’s invasion.
More than 500,000 people have been forced to flee Ukraine and Bachelet said the attack on the country is putting countless lives at risk. Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN said Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an attack on every UN member state.
“Most of these civilians were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems and air strikes,” Bachelet explained.
Meanwhile, Russia’s ambassador claims they launched special operations to stop tragedy in Donbass and its forces were not firing at civilians. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned Russia’s assault and said the global body must show Ukraine that they stand with them during their time of need.
A Ukrainian delegation arrived in Belarus to hold talks with Russian officials. Ukraine said its goals for Monday discussions include an immediate ceasefire and Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine.
However, Belarusian President Alexander Lukeshenko has allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to use Belarus as a staging ground for his invasion to Ukraine. Nonetheless, Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said both delegations should “feel safe.”
“Dear friends, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko asked me to welcome you and offer all necessary facilities for your work as it was discussed with Presidents Zelenskiy and Putin,” Makei stated. “You may feel absolutely safe. It’s our sacred duty. President Lukashenko hopes that during these talks today (Monday) you will manage to find the solutions to all crucial issues. All Belarusians are praying for you. All your requests and proposals at today’s meeting will be taken into account and action.”
Before Monday’s meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wasn’t expecting there t0 be any major breakthrough.