LVIV, Ukraine — As his troops continued to run into stiff resistance in Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia delivered an ominous message to Ukrainians on Saturday, telling government leaders they might lose their statehood and likening the withering sanctions imposed on his country to a “declaration of war.”
“The current leadership needs to understand that if they continue doing what they are doing, they risk the future of Ukrainian statehood,” Mr. Putin said. He also said any third-party countries that tried to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be considered enemy combatants. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has beseeched Western countries to declare such a no-fly zone.
Mr. Putin issued his threats as Ukrainians across the country continued to engage in defiant displays of patriotism, even in places that have been overtaken by the Russians. In Kherson, the first major city to fall to Russian troops, hundreds of protesters gathered in the central square at 10 a.m. on Saturday, many waving Ukrainian flags, according to video streamed live from the scene and verified by The New York Times.
The besieged coastal city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine halted a planned evacuation on Saturday, accusing Russian forces of shelling the city and violating a temporary cease-fire that city administrators wanted to use to get citizens out.
Here are the latest developments:
Russia’s military is trying to add to its gains in the south, moving closer to the vital port city of Odessa, as it tries to cut off the Ukrainian government from the sea.
Outside Kyiv, there have been fierce attacks and counterattacks as Ukrainian forces battle to keep the Russians from encircling it. The vast armed convoy approaching Kyiv from the north still seems to be largely stalled, according to Western analysts, and the Ukrainian military says its forces have been attacking it where they can.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel traveled to Moscow to meet with Mr. Putin, according to Israeli and Russian officials. Mr. Bennett’s office said in a statement that the meeting lasted about three hours and took place “in coordination and with the blessing of the U.S. administration.” There was no immediate information about any outcome from the meeting.
Since Russian forces surrounded Mariupol this week, the city has been facing a growing humanitarian crisis. It is largely impossible to bring in medical supplies and other relief. Despite daily bombardments, the local government has refused to surrender.
NATO members are rushing to resupply the Ukrainians with Javelin and Stinger missiles and other weapons. American shipments represent the largest single authorized transfer of arms from U.S. military warehouses to another country, according to a Pentagon official.
The lower level of the Berlin Central Train Station has been repurposed into a welcome area for arriving Ukrainians surging into the city.
Volunteers have arrived, offering supplies, lodging and clothing, that has been neatly stacked by gender and age.
“Couch for 1 girl — 1 week,” read the sign being held up by one young woman.
An elderly German woman walked up to a Ukrainian teenager standing on a platform and pressed a 100 euro bill (about $109) into his hand, tears streaming down her cheek.
“Welcome,” she said.
Over the past few days, Berlin has become a major hub for refugees from Ukraine. Last Monday, the city administration reported finding beds for some 350 refugees. By Friday, more than 10,000 arrived in the German capital by train and bus, and city authorities are bracing for more.
The outpouring of help from ordinary Germans echoes the early days of the 2015-2016 migrant crisis, when hundreds of thousands of refugees from wars in Syria and Afghanistan found safe haven in Germany.
There was some backlash within Germany, but it subsided, the country gave asylum to far more people than its neighbors — more than one million — and the resettlement is now widely regarded as a success. It was a moment of redemption for the country that had committed the Holocaust.
But if the images are familiar, they are enhanced not just by the geographic proximity of the present war but by the memory of Germany’s Nazi past, when it brutalized both Russia and Ukraine.
“It’s an irony of history,” said Dima Chornii, a 15-year-old Ukrainian who arrived to Berlin with his family from their home in Kherson, and was departing Friday for Erfurt, a city in central Germany, where they have friends. His great-grandfather had been a Soviet Red Army soldier who died, fighting to take Berlin from the Nazis less than a week before the end of World War II. “But,” he added, “the Germans are a changed people.”
Hector, who lives in Tampa Bay, Fla., is a former United States Marine who served two violent tours in Iraq. On Friday, he boarded a plane for one more deployment, this time as a volunteer in Ukraine.
He checked in several bags filled with rifle scopes, helmets and body armor donated by other veterans. “I can help right now,” said Hector, who asked to be identified only his first name for security reasons.
Hector is part of a surge of American veterans who say they are now preparing to join the fight in Ukraine, emboldened by the invitation of the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who earlier this week announced he was creating an “international legion” and asked volunteers from around the world to help defend his nation against Russia.
David Ribardo, a former Army officer who owns a property management business in Allentown, Pa., is acting as a sort of middle man for a group called Volunteers for Ukraine, identifying veterans and other volunteers with useful skills and connecting them with donors who buy gear and airline tickets.
Fund-raising sites such as GoFundMe have rules against collecting money for armed conflict, so Mr. Ribardo said his group connects those he has vetted with people who want to donate, describing his role as being “a Tinder for veterans and donors.”
Veterans said they are driven by past experiences. Some want to try to recapture the intense clarity and purpose they felt in war, which is often missing in suburban life. Others want a chance to make amends for failed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and see the fight to defend a democracy against a totalitarian invader as the reason they joined the military.
On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov, told the Russian News Agency that foreign fighters would not be considered soldiers, but mercenaries, and would not be protected under humanitarian rules regarding the treatment of prisoners of war.
“At best, they can expect to be prosecuted as criminals,” Mr. Konashenkov said.
U.S. officials have been trying to steer Americans toward other methods of support. During a news conference this week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said people who want to help Ukraine can do so by supporting nongovernmental organizations that are providing humanitarian assistance and “by being advocates for Ukraine and for peaceful resolution to this crisis that was created by Russia.”
March 5, 2022, 7:14 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 7:14 p.m. ET
David E. Sanger
Reporting from Washington
President Biden called President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Saturday night. The White House said that Mr. Biden, who had just emerged from services at his church in Wilmington, Del., talked with the Ukrainian leader for a little more than 30 minutes. It was not immediately clear if they discussed Mr. Zelensky’s call for fighter aircraft to hold off the Russian invasion.
Mastercard and Visa said they would suspend operations in Russia, essentially severing cardholders there from transactions outside the country in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The suspensions announced on Saturday evening will prevent Mastercards and Visa cards issued by Russian banks from working in other countries and block people with cards issued elsewhere from purchasing goods and services from companies in Russia.
But other transactions may still go through. Cards branded with the Mastercard or Visa logo that were issued by Russian banks may still work inside the country, because the transactions are handled by a local processor, officials at both companies said.
In a statement, Mastercard — which has operated in Russia for more than 25 years — said it had not made the decision lightly. “As we take this step, we join with so many others in hoping for and committing to a more positive, productive and peaceful future for us all,” the company said.
Visa said it planned to “cease” all Visa transactions within Russia “in the coming days.” A spokesman for the company said those transactions should be cut off within a week.
Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa Inc., said in a statement: “This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”
Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, said Saturday that it would probably continue to buy Russian crude oil to feed into its refineries and supply customers with gasoline and diesel but would donate any profits to a fund dedicated to “the people of Ukraine.”
Shell had said on Monday that it was pulling out of operations in Russia. It issued a statement on its oil purchases on Saturday, a day after an article in the Financial Times revealed that the company had bought a cargo of Russian crude oil.
Shell said in the statement that it understood that governments wanted energy flows to continue from Russia for the time being. The company described the purchase of the oil as “a difficult decision” taken to “avoid disruptions to market supply.”
It went on, “Without an uninterrupted supply of crude oil to refineries, the energy industry cannot assure continued provision of essential products to people across Europe in the weeks ahead.”
Russia is one of the world’s largest oil exporters, and many refineries, especially in Europe, are probably configured for processing some Russian crude. “Cargoes from alternative sources would not have arrived in time” to avoid interruptions in supply, the company added.
The imbroglio shows the difficulty that oil companies and governments are having in calibrating their response to the invasion of Ukraine. Governments have been trying to impose sanctions on the Russian economy without disrupting flows of oil and natural gas. The idea is to punish Russia without inflicting pain on consumers in Europe, which is highly dependent on both Russian natural gas and oil, and the United States. Achieving these goals will probably prove difficult. Already, most buyers are shunning Russian oil, which is selling at a substantial discount.
Shell announced on Monday that it would pull out of joint ventures with Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, including a liquefied natural gas facility on Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. Shell also said that it would end its involvement with the Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, a project that has been completed but was blocked.
Those moves, which will take time to be fully carried out, may not be sufficient to satisfy public opinion. Shell said that it would buy alternatives to Russian crude when possible, but completely dropping Russian oil could not happen overnight.
It ended its statement on Saturday by saying it would work with aid groups and humanitarian organizations to determine where best to put the money from its Russian oil fund “to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of Ukraine.”
WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund warned on Saturday that the war in Ukraine could inflict significant damage on the global economy, disrupting markets and trade and adding to inflationary pressures.
The warning came as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to escalate. The United States and European allies have imposed sanctions on major Russian financial institutions, its central bank and oligarchs, severing much of its economy from the rest of the world.
“The ongoing war and associated sanctions will also have a severe impact on the global economy,” the monetary fund said in a statement on Saturday.
The fund’s executive board convened for a meeting on Friday that was led by Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the fund, to assess the economic impact of the war. The board is expected to meet again next week to consider a request from Ukraine for $1.4 billion of emergency financing.
The war presents a new round of economic challenges for a global economy that is emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and grappling with disrupted supply chains and high levels of inflation.
“In many countries, the crisis is creating an adverse shock to both inflation and activity, amid already elevated price pressures,” the monetary fund said.
The fund noted that Ukraine had already faced enormous damage to its physical infrastructure and that asset prices in Russia, including the value of the ruble, were down sharply as a result of sanctions. Countries with close economic ties to Russia and Ukraine could feel the effects of the tumult, the fund said.
The World Bank is also working to deploy economic assistance to Ukraine, and David Malpass, the bank’s president, spoke to the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Friday. Mr. Malpass said he was submitting a request to the bank’s board for a $500 million supplemental loan to help support Ukraine’s economy.
March 5, 2022, 5:23 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 5:23 p.m. ET
Videos verified by The New York Times appear to show Russian-backed separatists in a small town in eastern Ukraine firing on protesters, striking one in the leg.
The shooting occurred around 1 p.m. Saturday outside a law enforcement building in Novopskov, north of Luhansk and near the Russian border, according to a witness and a Times analysis of the videos.
In one video, as the protesters chant “Ukraine, Ukraine,” a shot can be heard, and a man at the front of the crowd falls down clutching his leg. He is helped away by other protesters.
The regional governor wrote on Facebook that three people had been wounded in the shooting and were in the hospital.
The soldiers in the video appear to be Russian-backed separatists from the self-declared enclave known as Luhansk People’s Republic, which claims the region. They are wearing helmets that look similar to those worn by other separatist forces, and are not wearing the uniforms or insignia of Russian troops.
“Do you have any miners among you from the L.P.R.,” one protester asks the soldiers, referring to the region’s coal miners.
The video of the shooting was first geolocated by an open source researcher on Twitter.
The shooting occurred at the same location where a crowd gathered to protest on Friday. “War and death are coming for you,” those protesters yelled at the soldiers. “Get dressed and leave.”
Olga Dzyurak contributed translation.
March 5, 2022, 5:04 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 5:04 p.m. ET
Catherine Porter, Maciek Nabrdalik and Ivor Prickett For The New York Times
The crush of Ukrainian women and children fleeing their country has already set a new European record since the end of World War II. And, as Russian attacks intensified on Saturday, it grew even bigger.
On Saturday, the Polish city of Przemysl, a 20-minute drive from the Ukrainian border, was transformed into a hub for exhausted refugees pouring out of their country, with their children and pets in their arms. Many were planning trips further into Europe.
Meanwhile, the train station in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv was choked with worried travelers, both arriving from besieged areas and desperately trying to flee the country.
Click on each photo for more information.
March 5, 2022, 4:36 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 4:36 p.m. ET
While technology giants like Apple and luxury retailers like Hermès have quickly moved to pause sales or shutter stores in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, most U.S. food companies and fast-food chains have remained open — and largely silent.
Many large food manufacturers, including PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, and fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Yum Brands are facing growing pressure on social media platforms and from large investors to halt operations in Russia.
Companies “need to consider whether doing business in Russia is worth the risk during this extraordinarily volatile time,” the chief of one big investor, New York state’s pension fund, said on Thursday.
McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Mondelez International, the maker of Oreos and Ritz Crackers, did not respond to messages seeking comment about their operations in Russia. Starbucks and Yum Brands, whose chains include KFC and Pizza Hut, have said in response to the invasion that they were supporting humanitarian relief efforts.
But unlike the retailers who have announced that they’re pausing operations in Russia, some fast-food companies do not actually own the restaurants that operate there under their names. In Russia, Starbucks, Papa John’s and Yum Brands chains including KFC and Pizza Hut are mostly run by franchisees, who often have close ties to Russian banks or investors.
Franchise experts say that, depending on the agreements, it is probably up to the franchise owner to decide whether to close a restaurant because of political turmoil, rather than the brands themselves.
Fast-food restaurants and food and beverage companies were some of the earliest entrants into the Russian market, and many have nimbly operated there for decades. Even during other times of political turmoil and tensions, the companies still found consumers eager to buy American soda and gobble up burgers, chicken and pizza.
When McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Russia — in Moscow’s Pushkin Square in 1990 — an estimated 30,000 Russians lined up to sample its hamburgers for the first time. A few years later, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, appeared in a commercial for Pizza Hut.
Unlike other chains, McDonald’s owns the vast majority of its 847 restaurants in Russia. According to a page for investors, Russia accounts for 9 percent of the company’s total revenues and 3 percent of its operating income.
McDonald’s has made no statement about the invasion. A company spokesman did not respond to questions about whether its restaurants in Russia were open, and how they are receiving supplies or handling payments. Global logistics and freight firms have halted shipments to Russia and access to critical international financial and payment systems is shut down in the country.
PepsiCo has also not made a statement about its operations in Russia, and spokesmen did not respond to multiple emails seeking comment. The company says on its website that it is the largest food and beverage manufacturer in Russia, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in three manufacturing plants in the country. Last year, Russia accounted for $3.4 billion, or more than 4 percent, of PepsiCo’s $79.4 billion in revenues.
PepsiCo struck an agreement in the early 1970s that allowed Russia to bottle Pepsi, becoming the first American consumer product manufactured and sold in the Soviet Union. In exchange, a company subsidiary, which already marketed Soviet vodka, got the exclusive rights to also sell Soviet champagne, wine and brandy in the United States. In the late 1980s, the Soviets, in renewing their agreement with PepsiCo, gave it a fleet of ships.
In a statement to global employees on Friday, the chief executive of Starbucks, Kevin Johnson, condemned the “unprovoked, unjust and horrific attacks” on Ukraine by Russia.
Mr. Johnson added that the company would donate any royalties it receives from its operations in Russia to humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine along with other financial contributions. On Saturday, a cheery website for Starbucks in Russia, which is operated by the Kuwaiti conglomerate Alshaya Group, showed the roughly 130 stores in the country open and operating with normal business hours.
Yum Brands, which has more than 1,000 KFCs and 50 Pizza Huts in Russia — all owned and operated by franchisees — said it was making financial donations to various humanitarian relief organizations.
As for the operations in Russia, the company said in a statement that it is “monitoring the evolving situation very closely” and that it was too early to discuss the impact.
March 5, 2022, 3:56 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 3:56 p.m. ET
The White House effort to design a strategy to confront Russia over its invasion of Ukraine is linked to an urgent re-examination by intelligence agencies of President Vladimir V. Putin’s mental state. The debate is over whether his ambitions and appetite for risk have been altered by two years of Covid isolation, or by a sense that this may be his best moment to rebuild Russia’s sphere of influence and secure his legacy. Or both.
Throughout the pandemic, Mr. Putin has retreated into an intricate cocoon of social distancing — though he allowed life in Russia to essentially return to normal. The Federal Protective Service, Russia’s answer to the Secret Service, built a virus-free bubble around Mr. Putin that far outstrips the protective measures taken by many of his foreign counterparts.
Mr. Putin has been holding most of his meetings with government officials by video conference, often appearing in a spartan room in his Moscow estate, Novo-Ogaryovo. Even when foreign dignitaries arrived, they sometimes didn’t get to see Mr. Putin in person; the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, had to make do with a video meeting when he visited Moscow last year.
Now Mr. Putin has in-person visitors — including the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, who met with Mr. Putin for about three hours on Saturday. (Mr. Putin’s residence and the Kremlin are outfitted with disinfectant tunnels that all visitors must pass through.)
Some of the world leaders who have met with Mr. Putin in recent diplomatic overtures were seated 20 feet from him at a behemoth of a table, having refused to submit to Russian P.C.R. tests that would make their DNA available to the Russians. Otherwise, people who meet him face-to-face generally have spent as long as two weeks in quarantine first.
Mr. Putin’s extreme caution reflects not only his age — he is 69, putting him at relatively high risk of severe illness from the coronavirus — but also what critics describe as paranoia honed during his former career as a K.G.B. spy.
And the Russian leader’s tendency, American intelligence officials have told the White House and Congress, is to double down when he feels trapped by his own overreach. So they have described a series of possible reactions, ranging from indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities to compensate for the early mistakes made by his invading force, to cyberattacks directed at the American financial system, to more nuclear threats and perhaps moves to take the war beyond Ukraine’s borders.
March 5, 2022, 3:39 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 3:39 p.m. ET
Much as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 set off a tumultuous cascade of changes across Europe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought the West to a comparable, if far more ominous, historical reckoning.
The shock of the invasion led Germany to discard six decades of military-averse policy rooted in its own wartime experience.
It led the once-divided European Union to unite behind sanctions that will ban Russia’s central bank, which holds President Vladimir V. Putin’s war chest, from selling any assets to European banks. Brussels, long derided as an economic giant but a foreign-policy dwarf, pledged to spend $500 million on defensive weapons for Ukraine.
It led President Biden to recast a presidency that had been focused on rebuilding America after the pandemic and confronting China to one that is waging a twilight struggle against a Cold War rival on the plains of Eastern Europe.
And the shift has reverberated in corporate suites, cultural institutions and sports leagues — to say nothing of city streets from Mexico City to Madrid, where tens of thousands of demonstrators have waved the yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flag and chanted against Russia’s aggression.
Overnight, oil giants like BP, Shell and Exxon walked away from gargantuan investments in Russia. Technology companies like Apple halted sales in Russia, while Google pulled Russian media outlets off their networks. Sports bodies like FIFA and the International Olympic Committee barred Russians from competing.
For each of these institutions, such actions would have been inconceivable only a week earlier.
March 5, 2022, 3:07 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 3:07 p.m. ET
The New York Times
Ukrainians cross a bridge that was destroyed by heavy shelling and bombing as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on Saturday.
March 5, 2022, 2:22 p.m. ET
March 5, 2022, 2:22 p.m. ET
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel traveled to Moscow to meet at the Kremlin with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, according to Israeli and Russian officials, a rare moment of diplomacy in a war that has stretched into its second week.
“The situation around Ukraine is being discussed,” a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters, according RIA Novosti, a state-controlled news site.
The meeting comes at a critical time in the war, as Russian forces are encircling major cities and Ukraine is teetering into a humanitarian crisis. Russian and Ukrainian diplomats are continuing bilateral talks, but several overtures at diplomacy by third parties, including efforts by President Emmanuel Macron of France, have stalled.
Israel is in a unique position to potentially barter a deal, or at least pass messages between Western allies, Russia and Ukraine, given its alliance with the United States, its quiet cooperation with Russia in Syria and is shared cultural ties to Ukraine. Mr. Bennett and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine are the world’s only two Jews at the head of national governments.
Mr. Bennett’s office said in a statement on Saturday evening that the meeting with Mr. Putin lasted about three hours and took place “in coordination and with the blessing of the U.S. administration.” In addition, the statement added, Mr. Bennett was working in coordination with Germany and France and was “in ongoing dialogue with Ukraine.”
There was no immediate information about any outcome from the meeting. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bennett said that he had spoken with Mr. Zelensky after his meeting with Mr. Putin.
The Israeli government has tried to maintain good relations with both the Russian and Ukrainian leaders during the current crisis, and Mr. Bennett was previously asked by Mr. Zelensky to mediate between the sides.
Mr. Bennett left Moscow on Saturday evening on his way to Berlin to meet with the Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany. Mr. Scholz was in Israel for a short visit this week and, in a meeting with Mr. Bennett, discussed Israel’s possible role in mediation between Russia and Ukraine.
Mr. Bennett had spoken by phone with Mr. Putin on Wednesday, hours after speaking with Mr. Zelensky, the last of few rounds of phone conversations between them.
In a sign of the urgency of the mission, Mr. Bennett, an observant Jew, left Israel on Saturday morning, during the Sabbath, breaking the religious injunction against travel. According to Jewish religious law, the sanctity of the Sabbath is overridden by the principle of preserving human life.
Mr. Bennett was accompanied by Zeev Elkin, the Israeli housing minister, who assisted with translation, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office. Mr. Elkin frequently acted in a similar capacity over the past decade in meetings between Mr. Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mr. Putin.
Mr. Elkin, who is also an observant Jew, was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 1971, when it was part of the Soviet Union, and emigrated to Israel in 1990. Mr. Elkin has a brother still living with his family in Kharkiv, where Russian and Ukrainian forces have been fighting for control.
The Israeli delegation also included the prime minister’s national security adviser, Eyal Hulata, his diplomatic adviser, Shimrit Meir, and his spokesman, Matan Sidi.
Mr. Bennett had come in for criticism in recent days, including from Mr. Zelensky, for not siding more stridently with Ukraine and for refraining from supplying it with any military equipment.
Israeli officials said that Israel had to maintain good relations with Russia in order to be able to continue Israel’s military campaign against Iranian and Hezbollah entrenchment in Syria, where Russia maintains a significant presence.
They said Israel was also concerned about the large Jewish communities in both Russia and Ukraine. After Saturday’s meeting at the Kremlin, Mr. Bennett’s office said he had also spoken with Mr. Putin about the situation of Israelis and Jewish communities as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
Saturday’s meeting comes after several requests from Mr. Zelensky, both to Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Bennett, to mediate between him and Mr. Putin. The last request was made in a telephone conversation held on Feb. 25, during which Mr. Zelensky also requested military equipment. While declining to send defensive gear, Mr. Bennett agreed to try to mediate between the countries.
Several rounds of telephone conversations followed between Mr. Bennett and Mr. Putin, between Mr. Bennett and Mr. Zelensky, and between officials from their teams. Israeli officials believe the Israeli mediation had some effect in bringing Ukraine to agree to entering into talks with Russia in Belarus.
Mr. Hulata, Israel’s national security adviser, has been updating the White House National Security Council on developments since the telephone conversation with Mr. Zelensky.
Israeli officials said that the meeting at the Kremlin also touched on the progress of the talks in Vienna for a return to a nuclear agreement with Iran, and that Mr. Bennett expressed Israel’s opposition to a return to the agreement.
KORCZOWA, Poland — A line of refugees streaming into Poland behind them, the top American and Ukrainian diplomats met at Ukraine’s border on Saturday in a brief but extraordinary encounter to assess what additional support and protection the United States might deliver to address Russia’s invasion, which appeared certain to continue.
The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, thanked Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken for “coming here to Ukraine, literally.” The two men stood at the border where hundreds of refugees had crossed into Poland by foot over the course of one hour in bone-chilling temperatures.
For Mr. Blinken, the brief meeting was a chance to take stock of the humanitarian disaster — Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II — caused by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
For Mr. Kuleba, it was a moment to remind the world anew, in stark terms, of the possibility of an enduring conflict with high numbers of human casualties if foreign assistance stops short of what Ukraine is demanding.
“Ukraine will win this war,” Mr. Kuleba said after the meeting, which was kept secret for several hours after it had concluded to ensure he could safely travel into Ukraine. “The question is the price of our victory. And if our partners continue to take bold, systemic decisions to step up economic and political pressure on Russia, if they continue to provide us with necessary weapons, the price will be lower.”
“This will save many lives in Ukraine, many houses; many children will be born, many sufferings will be avoided,” he said. “This is the only question that is on the agenda.”
Mr. Blinken said, “we’re in it with Ukraine — one way or another, short run, the medium run, the long run.” He added that the Biden administration was seeking to send at least $2.75 billion in additional humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and the countries that have taken in its more than one million refugees so far.
But Mr. Kuleba called again for NATO forces to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to protect it from Russian bombings — a move that the Biden administration and its allies worry would pull them into a larger war.
The global pressure on Russia to stand down — backed by devastating economic sanctions against Mr. Putin’s government and allies and shipments of weapons and military equipment to Kyiv — “will not only continue, it will grow until this war of choice is brought to an end,” Mr. Blinken said.
“The world is here; the world is with you,” Mr. Blinken told Mr. Kuleba.
Civilians who tried to leave a besieged city in southern Ukraine on Saturday tied white flags, blankets and sheets to their vehicles to show they posed no threat, but were forced to abandon their evacuation plan because of fighting outside the city, local officials and a witness said.
At least 200 vehicles converged at a central place in the port city, Mariupol, at around 11 a.m. local time, hoping to drive around 140 miles (225 km) northwest to the city of Zaporizhzhia, a freelance photographer, Evgeniy Maloletka, said in an interview.
The civilians were able to assemble after Russia and Ukraine agreed to open safe routes for people seeking to flee to Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol and Volnovakha, a smaller town 40 miles north.
It was the first agreement of its kind since fighting began on Feb. 24 and each government later blamed the other for its breakdown. The gathering itself was a sign of residents’ desperation, as the streets had been empty for days and even the city’s ambulance service was not working, Mr. Maloletka said.
“We came to the place where the people gathered,” Mr. Maloletka said, adding that the “fighting was super heavy and so we could not leave.”
“The police said: ‘there will be no corridor,’” he said.
The deputy mayor of Mariupol, Serhiy Orlov, said that fighting on the road between the city and Zaporizhzhia was another reason the evacuation was canceled.
“It is not safe to go on this road because of this fight,” Mr. Orlov told BBC News on Saturday.
Mariupol is a key target for Russian forces that invaded Ukraine last week. It is a linchpin in their broader strategy to gain control of Ukraine’s Black Sea and Sea of Azov coastlines and win enough territory so that Russian-backed separatists in Crimea and Donbas can join forces.
The city of Kherson, to the west of Mariupol and near Crimea, fell this week. Russian forces are also surrounding the city of Mykolaiv, northwest of Kherson.
There is no power or water in Mariupol and civilians face appalling conditions, according to aid agencies including Doctors Without Borders, the international medical charity widely known by its French name Médecins Sans Frontières or M.S.F.
The group said that its staff members in the city were sheltering with their families.
“This night the shelling was harder and closer,” a staff member said in a statement from the group on Saturday. “We collected snow and rain water yesterday to have some utility water. We tried to get free water today but the queue was huge,” the staff member said.
KYIV, Ukraine — With hands still dirty from the battlefield, a dozen Russian prisoners of war were presented to journalists at a hastily called news conference in Kyiv on Saturday, intended to support Ukraine’s claim of capturing significant numbers of Russian soldiers.
The prisoners sat, stony-faced, at a table in a conference room of a Ukrainian news agency while heavily armed and masked Ukrainian security service officials looked on.
Under rules for the treatment of prisoners of war in the Geneva Conventions — which also proscribe a host of other activities that have arisen in this conflict, including targeting civilians — militaries are not to “parade” prisoners, a concept that is sometimes interpreted as not presenting them in any public setting.
Each read out a statement from a handwritten text on a piece of paper and later answered questions. They blended details of chaotic early firefights in the conflict that led to their capture, which sounded genuine, with woodenly phrased condemnations of their own country’s leadership for starting the war.
All said they had not been mistreated.
Their comments, and the fact of their captures, supported accounts by Western military analysts and governments that the Russian offensive had suffered setbacks early in the war, though the Russian army’s superior numbers and equipment could well reverse that trend.
“The whole column burned,” said one soldier, who identified himself as Lt. Dmitry Kovalensky, with a Russian tank unit. He said they were attacked with what he believed was a mix of projectiles from a drone and shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles near Sumy, in northeastern Ukraine. He said he ran into a forest and later surrendered to Ukrainian forces.
The men looked exhausted but showed no outward signs of mistreatment.
All the prisoners of war described being captured after their armored columns were ambushed on roads, accounts that supported Ukraine’s assertions that its military has made good use of Western-supplied antitank weaponry, such as the American-made Javelin missile. But independent analysts have also described less dramatic problems for the Russian army, including logistical snarls that forced soldiers to abandon vehicles that ran out of fuel.
The prisoners said they did not know what would happen to them after the news conference. While they said they were treated well, it was unclear whether they had showered or been offered clean clothes.
One had dirt smeared into the outline of goggles on his face. One, Pvt. Igor Volkov, said that he might ask to stay in Ukraine. “I get the sense it would be better for us to stay here,” he said.
There was one hint the captives feared negative repercussions from their presentation to the reporters. Sgt. Mikhail Kulikov said that “now, after this news conference, I am afraid not only for myself but also for my family” back in Russia.
ADAZI, Latvia — The United States and the other 29 countries that make up NATO remain unwilling to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, President Biden’s senior military adviser said on Saturday, even as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine continues to push the alliance to more forcefully protect his country from the carnage wrought by repeated Russian airstrikes in recent days.
“If a no-fly zone was declared, that means someone would have to enforce it,” said the adviser, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “That means someone would have to go in and actively fight against Russian forces.”
General Milley was in Latvia visiting American troops deployed to the heart of NATO’s so-called eastern flank when he laid out in stark terms to reporters why the alliance had rejected Mr. Zelensky’s calls for NATO to set up and enforce a no-fly zone.
Actively fighting Russian forces was “not something” that “any member state’s political leadership has indicated they want to do,” General Milley said.
Mr. Zelensky, under bombardment from a Russian military that has repeatedly shelled civilian targets and that far outguns his own forces, has pleaded for the West to declare the skies above Ukraine off limits to Russian warplanes. If enforced, such a declaration would at least protect hospitals, schools, homes and other civilian targets from the barrage of air-launched missiles that Russian planes have directed at Ukraine, advocates say.
More than a week after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Biden — along with other NATO countries — continues to refuse to send troops into Ukraine to help, lest they be drawn into a hot war with Russia. That applies to the skies as well, NATO officials say.
The United States and NATO have rushed military weapons and ammunition to Ukraine as its military battles Russian forces.
Leaders of the alliance met Friday in Brussels, after which NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said its members had rejected any possibility of physically intervening against Russian forces.
General Milley also spoke to recent comments by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia threatening a nuclear option, saying that “any time any national leader talks about nuclear weapons, obviously that’s something that all of the countries of the world take very, very seriously.”
He said that the United States had not yet seen a change in the posture of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. But, he added, “that doesn’t necessarily mean that something in the future couldn’t happen.”
Latvia’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, was quick to praise the arrival of U.S. troops to his tiny country — just part of Mr. Biden’s recent deployments to reassure Eastern European allies that the United States will use its military might to support the NATO countries that border Russia, should Mr. Putin seek to venture beyond Ukraine.
“I was woken shortly before four o’clock on 24th of February when the invasion started,” Mr. Pabriks said. “And about four hours later, your battalion was landing in Latvia.”
He was referring to the arrival of American paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, who landed in Latvia from Vicenza, Italy, on hours’ notice. Their arrival, he said, was “seized by the public” in Latvia because “Americans are standing with us.”
Latvia, which has fewer than two million residents, has an armed forces of only around 17,000 troops. But officials were talking tough on Saturday, their anger over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine palpable. “He can’t cross our border,” Mr. Pabriks said, and then referenced Russian airborne forces who have in the past, he said, threatened Latvia.
“We will shoot them,” Mr. Pabriks said. “They don’t have the forces here to go in, because that airborne brigade — we have been major targeted by that brigade. That brigade is now dying at Kyiv.”