Biden slams Putin as he wraps up Europe trip
President Joe Biden returns to the United States after three days of diplomacy in Europe capped off with a fiery speech in which he described Russia’s war in Ukraine as a generation’s battle in the fight for democracy
As the president sought to rally the support of the world behind the beleaguered nation, he stepped up his condemnation of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “For the love of God, this man can’t stay in power,” Biden said of Putin at the end of Saturday’s speech in Poland, after earlier calling him a “butcher.”
The White House quickly sought to explain that Biden was not discussing regime change, and instead meant that Putin “cannot be allowed to wield power over his neighbors or the region.” The Kremlin reacted quickly, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling Reuters it was “not up to Biden to decide” who leads Russia.
Hours earlier, multiple rockets hit the western Ukrainian city of Lviv in what officials said were two separate attacks 45 miles from the border with Poland, an NATO ally. NATO. The powerful blasts rocked a city that has been a haven for millions fleeing the Russian onslaught.
After struggling to make progress in the first month of the war, Moscow has signaled that its troops may now scale back their ambitions and focus on securing control of eastern Ukraine. They appear to be “focusing their efforts” on an attempt to surround kyiv forces in this region, the British Ministry of Defense said on Sunday.
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Invasion could mean end of Russian culture in Ukraine, says Zelenskyy
One of the casualties of Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine will be Russian culture itself within the country’s borders, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Saturday.
Although Russian is the country’s second language, spoken by the president and nearly a third of the country, Zelenskyy argued that when the dust settles, Ukrainians will reject anything Russian.
Zelenskyy noted that Russian was part of daily life in cities that are now under siege.
“Russia itself is doing everything so that derussification takes place on the territory of our state,” the president said, according to his office’s English translation of his remarks. “You do. In a generation. And forever.”
Russian forces are trying to surround Ukrainian troops in the east of the country, according to the UK
Russian forces appear to be trying to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east of the country near separatist regions backed by Moscow, the British Ministry of Defense said.
In its latest intelligence update, the ministry said Russia was concentrating its efforts to encircle forces directly opposing the two regions by advancing from Kharkiv in the north and Mariupol in the south.
In northern Ukraine, the situation remained “largely static”, with Russian attempts to reorganize their forces being thwarted by Ukrainian counterattacks, the ministry said.
In an earlier briefing released overnight, the ministry said Russia continued to strike targets across Ukraine from the air, including many densely populated areas, but also faced major challenges in the sky.
Russia relied on munitions launched at greater ranges to avoid Ukrainian airspace, it said, due to Ukrainian anti-aircraft fire.
Finland to suspend rail link between Russia and EU
Finland’s national rail operator said it would suspend services between Helsinki and St. Petersburg in Russia on Monday, shutting down the rail link between Russia and the European Union.
VR, the operator, said the Finnish state told it it was no longer appropriate to operate the service, known as Allegro, in light of sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion from Ukraine.
Russian Railways said in a brief statement that they were aware of the Finnish decision due to the sanctions.
Trains from Russia to Helsinki, the Finnish capital, have been packed with Russians in recent weeks as some have used it to leave the country urgently and mutual airspace closures have disrupted flight connections between the Russia and the EU.
The border between Finland and Russia remains open to crossings by private car.
Sean Penn says he’ll ‘melt down’ statuettes if Zelenskyy isn’t asked to speak at Oscars
Sean Penn has vowed to “melt down” her Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences statuettes if she doesn’t ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak during the live broadcast of Sunday night’s ceremony.
In an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Penn said the Academy had an obligation to give Zelenskyy a platform to talk about the invasion of Russia.
Penn alleged that it was his “understanding that a decision was made not to.”
“If it comes back, I’m going to smell mine in public,” Penn said.
The Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
On Monday, Amy Schumer, who co-hosts the Oscars alongside Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, said she asked event organizers to find “a way to have a Zelenskyy satellite or make a band” for the ceremony.
NBC News contributed to this report.