By Miriam Raftery
Photo, left: First night of bombing in Kyiv,via Kristine Alessio from a friend in Ukraine
February 27, 2022 (San Diego) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent missile system to be on high alert, in response to what he calls “dangerous rhetoric” from the West and growing resistance to Russian forces that have invaded the Ukraine, Reuters reports.
Also today, for the first time in history, the 27-nation member European Union today announced it will send weapons to a nation at war, the Ukraine. Europe and Canada have banned all Russian aircraft from their airspaces, including planes belonging to Russian Oligarchs. In addition, the EU also banned airing of broadcasts by RT (Russian Times), Russia’s state media outlet.
NATO has activated forces to defend NATO nations in the event Russia’s military aggression advances to other nations that are NATO members, which the Ukraine is not. Under the North American Treaty Organization alliance, an attack on one nation is considered an attack on all.
The Pentagon has responded to its NATO commitment by sending B-52 bombers to patrol the skies over Eastern European allied territory, Newsweek reports today.
The U.S. has frozen assets in numerous Russian banks and last night announced a joint action with the European Commission, France, Germany and Italy to expel major Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, pledging to "collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” CNN reports.
The joint statement released by the White House indicates the action will disconnect the banks from the international financial system and impede their ability to operate globally. The coalition also pledged "restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions," and restricting the sale of "golden passports" that allow Russian oligarchs to avoid the brunt of sanctions already levied.
Sanctions have also been imposed directly on Putin, members of his inside circle and Russian oligarchs. Today, two Russian billionaires called for peace and urged that Putin end the military conflict in Ukraine, according to Reuters, perhaps an indication that sanctions are beginning to yield results.
Russian troops have met with fierce resistance from Ukrainian military forces as well as legions of armed civilians.
Newsweek aired video that appears to support Ukrainian claims of blowing up a convoy of Russian tanks. Ukraine has also said it downed two Russian transport planes with paratroopers aboard. Ukraine’s ambassador has said that a Russian platoon surrendered rather than fire on Ukrainians.
Stories of Ukrainian heroism are emerging, including a soldier hailed as a hero for sacrificing his life to blow up a bridge in an effort to block tanks. Another video shows Ukrainian citizens standing up to tanks and one man carrying a bomb away from a roadway. A Ukrainian beer factory has repotedly converted to making Molotov cocktails, or bottle bombs.
But Russia has also made gains and spread terror, seizing the Chernobyl nuclear plant, destroying a dam, bombing oil and gas facilities, as well as a nuclear waste site near Kyiv. It is not yet confirmed whether any radiation is leaking, as the monitoring system was destroyed.
Thus far, despite four nights of bombardments the city of Kyiv remains free, albeit with substantial damage including an apartment building that was struck by a bomb. But hundreds of tanks are converging. Other cities are also under attack.
The Ukrainians have obtained weapons including anti-tank weapons some provided by German, with Sweden also pledging to send arms.
Ukraine has banned men from age 18 to 64 from leaving the country, though thousands of refugees, mainly women and children, have poured into neighboring Poland and Rumania.
Russian President Voldymyr Zelensky has refused a U.S. offer of safe haven, defiantly remaining in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. A former Ukrainian president posted video of himself taking up arms, as have a diverse group of Ukrainian citizens ranging from a former Miss Ukraine to grandmothers.
The resistance movement has spread beyond Ukraine.
Sailors in Georgia have posted video on Twitter of their response when a Russian warship asked to refuel. In salty language, the sailors told the Russians to “f**k off” and advised them to use oars.
Turkey today called Russia’s actions “war” on Ukraine and announced intent to invoke a treaty and potentially block Russian warships from access to Ukraine through the Black Sea.
The hacker Anonymous has claimed credit for taking down Russian government websites and now, hacking Russian media to play Ukrainian folk songs and later, air videos showing Russia’s destructive military actions in Ukraine to debunk Russian propaganda. (Russia has banned its internal media from calling the action a war or invasion.)
Russia and Ukraine have agreed to hold peace talks Monday, the New York Times reports.
Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" that the government is ready for any peace talks that would stop the fighting and result in Russian forces withdrawing from Ukraine.
"Our president from the beginning, even before the war started, always was focused on the diplomatic solution. And even after they started the war, he actually called for peace talks all the time," Markarova told ABC. "But he always said, 'we are ready for peace talks, we are not ready to surrender.'"