MOSCOW — Leading Russian bank Sberbank announced Wednesday it is pulling out of European markets amid tightening Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The bank said its subsidiaries in Europe were facing an “abnormal outflow of funds and a threat to the safety of employees and branches,” according to Russian news agencies. They did not provide details of the threats.
Authorities in Austria and Czech Republic had taken actions in recent days against Sberbank’s activities in Europe.
The move was the latest consequence of Russia’s invasion last week, which has led to warfare across Ukraine and unprecedented Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia’s economy.
BOSTON — A firm that tracks cryptocurrency transactions says $33.8 million in the digital currency has been donated to Ukraine’s government and non-governmental organizations there since the start of Russia’s invasion, nearly a third of it on Tuesday.
Chief Scientist Tom Robinson of Elliptic said most donations to date have been in bitcoin and ether. Some people are sending non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to the Ukrainian government’s ethereum account.
Ukraine issued a plea for contributions on Twitter last week. To date, it has received 30,000 donations, including $5.8 million from Gavin Wood, the British programmer who co-founded ethereum. There have been several other donations of more than $1 million.
Elliptic also warned of scammers tricking unsuspecting cryptocurrency holders wanting to donate to Ukrainian causes.
Elliptic is among firms that help law enforcement track cryptocurrency to combat money laundering.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is working on a “focused tactical strategy” to make certain that cryptocurrency doesn’t become a mechanism that Moscow is able to utilize to avert sanctions, according to a senior administration official.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet to be announced move, did not detail an exact timeline for when the new steps on cryptocurrency would be unveiled, but said the area is one of several spaces that the Biden administration officials are looking to shore up as it looks to make certain that sanctions on Russia have maximum impact.
The official said past experiences in Iran and Venezuela with sanctions evasion are informing the administration’s efforts. Additional export controls and new sanction targets are also expected to be unveiled in the days and weeks ahead to counter Russian sanction evasion efforts, the official said.
Officials have already been on the lookout for the use and creation of front companies and alternative financial institutions that Moscow might try to employ to get around sanctions.
TOKYO — Sony is donating $2 million as humanitarian aid to Ukraine though the United Nations Refugee Agency and aid group Save the Children.
The Japanese electronics and entertainment company has already said it will halt theatrical releases in Russia. Upcoming films include Morbius, starring the Marvel comics hero.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly,” Sony Pictures said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Mickey Mikitani, chief executive of Japanese online retailer Rakuten, donated 1 billion yen ($8.7 million) to the Ukrainian government through the embassy in Japan.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry said the Japanese embassy in Kyiv is closing temporarily, with operations transferred to an office in Lviv, western Ukraine.
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden said in his first State of the Union address that the United States is closing its airspace to all Russian flights in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said the U.S. is working to seize yachts and apartments of Russian oligarchs.
Biden devoted the first 12 minutes of his address to Ukraine. Lawmakers of both parties repeatedly rose to their feet and applauded as he praised the bravery of Ukraine’s people and condemned Russia’s assault.
He warned of costs to the American economy, as well, but said that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine.
Biden declared that he and all members of Congress, whatever political differences there may be, were joined “with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”
CHICAGO — Airplane manufacturer Boeing says it has suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed its office in Kyiv.
The company said in a statement it is also suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines.
“As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region,” the statement said.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says it has evidence that Belarus, a Russian ally, is preparing to send troops into Ukraine.
The ministry statement, posted on Facebook at midnight, said the Belarussian troops have been brought into combat readiness and are concentrated close to Ukraine’s northern border.
“During the past 24 hours, according to intelligence findings, there has been significant aircraft activity. In addition, there has been movement of a column of vehicles with food and ammunition” approaching the border,” the statement said.
IRVING, Texas — ExxonMobil says it will not invest in new developments in Russia because of Russian military attacks on Ukraine.
The company said in a statement it supports the people of Ukraine as they seek to “defend their freedom and determine their own future as a nation.”
ExxonMobil operates the Sakhalin-1 project on behalf of an international consortium of Japanese, Indian and Russian companies. The company says that in response to recent events, they are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture.
KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian airstrike hit a residential area near a hospital late Tuesday in Zhytomyr, a city about 85 miles (140 kilometers) west of Ukraine’s capital, Mayor Serih Sukhomlin said in a Facebook video.
Ukraine’s emergency services said the strike killed at least two people, set three homes on fire and broke the windows in the hospital.
Zhytomyr is the home of the elite 95th Air Assault Brigade, which may have been the intended target.
CHICAGO — United Airlines said Wednesday it has stopped using Russian airspace for flights between the U.S. and Mumbai and Delhi in India.
An airline spokesperson called the move “temporary,” but gave no further details.
American Airlines has avoided Russian airspace for flights between Delhi and New York by flying south of Russia.
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