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Ukraine latest: Rio Tinto to end business with Russian companies

Russia has unleashed an invasion of Ukraine after months of massing troops near its borders. The military action, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24, amounts to a full-scale invasion, says Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Casualties are mounting on both sides. The repercussions are being felt beyond Europe as rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets rock Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine crisis page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

China’s online pro-Putin fest drowns out anti-war sentiment

Indonesia’s Jokowi calls for cease-fire in Russia-Ukraine war

China signals shift on Ukraine as Russia accused of atrocities

Russia offers Middle East fighters ‘$400 a week’ to join Ukraine war

U.S. lawmaker urges India to speak out against Ukraine invasion

Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Note: Nikkei Asia on March 5 decided to temporarily suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code.

Here are the latest developments:

Thursday, March 10 (Tokyo time)

5:15 p.m. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian says that “in handling relations with Russia, the U.S. side must not impose so-called sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction on Chinese enterprises and individuals, and must not harm China’s legitimate rights and interests.”

“Otherwise,” he warns, “China will firmly strike back.”

3:22 p.m. Rio Tinto says it will end its business with Russian companies. Though the Anglo-Australian resources giant doesn’t disclose reasons, the decision is seen as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company operates aluminum refineries in the country’s east together with Russian aluminum producer Rusal International.

3:01 p.m. Sony Group’s game division and Nintendo say they have suspended software and hardware shipments to Russia, following the invasion of Ukraine.

3:01 p.m. Russia says the Ukrainian claim that it bombed a children’s hospital in Mariupol is “fake news” because the building is a former maternity hospital that had long been taken over by troops. “That’s how fake news is born,” tweeted Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.

1:54 p.m. Japan’s Hitachi announces its decision to suspend operations in Russia following a request from the Ukrainian government. The company says in a statement it will stop exports and cease most operations in Russia except for those involving vital electrical power facilities.

1:29 p.m. China’s government is walking a fine line on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stopping short of condemning Moscow but repeatedly calling for peace talks. A quick scroll through Chinese social media platforms like Weibo suggests that in recent days the public has been much more pro-Russia than the official narrative. But experts say the true picture of Chinese sentiment is more complex. Read more.

8:03 a.m. The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approves $1.4 billion in emergency financing for Ukraine to help meet urgent spending needs and mitigate the economic impact of Russia’s military invasion. The global lender said Ukrainian authorities had canceled an existing stand-by lending arrangement with the IMF but would work with the fund to design an appropriate economic program focused on rehabilitation and growth when conditions permit.

6:15 a.m. Ukraine informs the International Atomic Energy Agency that the Chernobyl nuclear plant has been disconnected from the electricity grid and lost its supply of external power.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA’s director general, says the disconnection will not have a critical impact on essential safety functions at the site, where radioactive waste management facilities are located. But it likely will further weaken operational radiation safety at the site, he says, noting that around 210 technical experts and guards essentially have lived there around the clock since Russian forces took control of the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

3:00 a.m. Russia’s foreign-currency revenues have plunged as more overseas buyers steer clear of its crude oil over the invasion of Ukraine, eroding its purchasing power for key imports.

The country already faces an acute shortage of foreign currencies after the majority of its reserves were frozen by international sanctions. A continued decline in oil-related income would squeeze its ability to pay for cars, semiconductors and other largely imported products. Read more.

2:50 a.m. U.S. stocks are rallying on an easing of crude oil prices. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up nearly 800 points, or 2.4%, in early afternoon trading. The broader S&P 500 index is up 2.8%.

U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures are down 14% from the previous day.

The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington, Yousef AL Otaiba, says in a statement to the Financial Times: “We favor production increases and will be encouraging OPEC to consider higher production levels.”

An image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of an alleged Russian attack on a hospital on March 9. Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the air strike an “atrocity.”

  © AP

1:50 a.m. Ukraine has denounced what it said was an Russian air strike on a children’s hospital in Mariupol.

Ukrainian authorities say the attack came during an agreed ceasefire period. Reuters quotes regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko as saying 17 people were wounded.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment, but a spokesperson blamed the Ukrainian side for problems with the civilian evacuations, saying they “did not yield the expected results.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the WHO has verified 18 attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances, including 10 deaths and 16 injuries.

1:00 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have discussed the situation in Ukraine over the phone, Interfax reports, citing the Kremlin press service.

Putin and Scholz “discussed options of political and diplomatic efforts, including the results of the third round of the talks between the Russian delegation and representatives of the Kyiv authorities,” Interfax quoted the Kremlin as saying.

Putin also briefed Scholz on efforts to create humanitarian corridors.

Wednesday, March 9 (Tokyo time)

10:39 p.m. Britain plans to supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles to help it defend its skies from Russian invasion, Defense Minister Ben Wallace tells Parliament, noting that the technology falls within the definition of defensive weapons.

9:32 p.m. Russia must prioritize grain supplies to domestic bakeries over export markets, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. According to Reuters, he also unveiled fresh measures to support the domestic economy in the face of international sanctions over Ukraine.

9:20 p.m. The European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on 160 more Russian individuals, including 14 oligarchs and prominent businesspeople, and freeze transactions with the Belarus central bank related to the management of reserves or assets, the EU Commission says.

The new sanctions include restricted provision of SWIFT services to Belagroprombank, Bank Dabrabyt and the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus, as well as their Belarusian subsidiaries.

The new safe confinement arch over reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in December 2019. A power outage to the plant opens up the risk of radiation leaks in the next 48 hours. 

  © Getty Images

9:13 p.m. Radioactive substances could be released from Ukraine’s infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant because it cannot cool spent nuclear fuel after its power connection was severed, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom says.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also tweeted that the “reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity” to power the Chornobyl NPP.” Once that capacity is exhausted, “cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent.”


7:05 p.m. The International Monetary Fund has approved $1.4 billion in emergency support for Ukraine to finance government expenditures and shore up the country’s balance of payments, central bank Gov. Kyrylo Shevchenko said in a statement.

6:55 p.m. Toyota Motor says it will donate up to 2.5 million euros ($2.7 million) for Ukraine through organizations such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross. The Japanese carmaker will donate 500,000 euros unconditionally, while its European wings will contribute up to 2 million euros, or four times the amount employees across Europe donate.

In addition, Toyota will allow up to 40 paid hours a year per employee if they offer Ukrainian refugees temporary housing in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and other countries, or if they provide language assistance for refugees.

Toyota Motor says it will donate up to 2.5 million euros ($2.7 million) for Ukraine through organizations such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the Red Cross.

  © Reuters

6:00 p.m. The number of people fleeing Ukraine since the Russian invasion began has probably now reached 2.1 million to 2.2 million people, according to the head of the UNHCR, the United Nation’s refugee agency. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi says in a news conference during a visit to Stockholm that “the time is now to try to help at the border” rather than discuss how to distribute refugees between countries. Grandi added that Moldova, which is not a member of the European Union, in particular is facing a tide of refugees.

4:24 p.m. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the bloc has bought enough liquefied natural gas that it should be independent of Russian imports up until the end of the winter. Von der Leyen also told Germany’s ARD television that sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine were designed to cause maximum impact on Moscow while causing the least damage possible to Western economies.

3:12 p.m. Britain says Ukraine’s air defenses are having success against Russian jets, likely preventing Russia from controlling the airspace. “Ukrainian air defences appear to have enjoyed considerable success against Russia’s modern combat aircraft, probably preventing them achieving any degree of control of the air,” the defense ministry says in an intelligence update posted on Twitter.

People walk past a damaged building in the town of Irpin outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as they flee from advancing Russian troops on March 8.

  © Reuters

2:24 p.m. An air alert was declared Wednesday morning in and around Kyiv, with residents urged to get to bomb shelters as quickly as possible. “Kyiv region — air alert. Threat of a missile attack. Everyone immediately to shelters,” regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram. For days, as Russian forces have laid siege to Ukrainian cities, attempts to create corridors to safely evacuate civilians have stumbled amid continuing fighting.

12:00 p.m. Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called for a cease-fire in the war between Russia and Ukraine and said continued dialogue rather than economic sanctions on Russia is the way to resolve the crisis. Speaking in an exclusive face-to-face interview on Tuesday with Nikkei Editor-in-Chief Tetsuya Iguchi, Widodo said sovereignty and territorial integrity “must be respected by all parties.”

11:59 a.m. Yum Brands, parent company of fried chicken chain KFC, says it is pausing investment in Russia, a key market that helped the brand achieve record development last year. Yum also says it is suspending operations of its 70 KFC company-owned restaurants in the country and finalizing an agreement to suspend all Pizza Hut restaurant operations in Russia, in partnership with its master franchisee. Yum has at least 1,000 KFC and 50 Pizza Hut locations in Russia, nearly all of them independent franchisees.

To catch up on earlier developments, see here.

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