Ukraine cease-fire, Russians in danger, Coach K’s last home game: 5 things to know this weekend – USA TODAY

Russia reports cease-fire in two Ukraine areas for civilian evacuations

The Russian military is observing a temporary cease-fire in two areas of Ukraine to allow civilians to evacuate, Russian state media reported Saturday, the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol and the eastern town of Volnovakha “from 10 a.m. Moscow time” (8 a.m. GMT/3 a.m. ET). The vaguely worded statement did not make clear how long the routes would remain open. Also on Saturday, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was set to brief U.S. senators by video conference as Congress considers a request for $10 billion in emergency funding for humanitarian aid and security needs. This comes after Zelenskyy late Friday, in a bitter and emotional speech, criticized NATO over the lack of a no-fly zone, saying it will fully untie Russia’s hands as it escalates its air attack.

871c845f 999b 4e19 a562 0b0074dcd43b UKRAINE OTT THUMBNAIL


Crisis in Ukraine: The global implications of Russia’s invasion

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rages on and the humanitarian toll mounts, USA TODAY reporters in the region and in Washington chart the ripple effects of this unprecedented conflict. Zulekha Nathoo hosts ‘Crisis in Ukraine.’

Staff video, USA TODAY

Prefer to listen? Check out the 5 Things podcast

Russians are ‘facing real danger’ as they protest the war in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered an earthquake of global condemnation, including in his own backyard, where protests have swelled across the country in a remarkable outpouring of dissent against the Kremlin. More than 8,000 Russians have been detained for antiwar activities by police since the invasion began, according to the independent monitoring group OVD-Info. And in the days since the invasion, security forces have widened their patrols of Moscow’s streets, looking for dissent in all corners of the city. Despite the crackdown, Russian opposition groups have organized more antiwar rallies, including one for Sunday. The last few years have been marked by increasingly draconian restrictions on freedoms in Russia, experts say, and that’s likely to escalate as the war drags on in Ukraine. 

f16711bb 3876 4c69 91ca 1c4af9fb5424 russiaprotesters deskthumb


Anti-war protesters in Russia face jail time for ‘petty hooliganism’

Thousands of anti-war protesters are being arrested in cities across Russia. They face charges which can carry a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

USA TODAY, Associated Press

As talks near end, UN nuclear watchdog chief meets leaders in Tehran

The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog met Saturday with Iranian officials as talks in Vienna over Tehran’s tattered 2015 atomic deal with world powers appear to be reaching their end. Rafael Mariano Grossi described his visit to Tehran as a means “to address outstanding questions.” The deal saw Iran agree to drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crushing economic sanctions. But a 2018 decision by then-President Donald Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement sparked years of Mideast tensions and attacks. Today, Tehran enriches uranium up to 60% purity – its highest level ever and a short technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90% and far greater than the nuclear deal’s 3.67% cap. In Vienna, negotiators – including Russia’s ambassador in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, and French negotiator Philippe Errera – appear to be signaling a deal is near, even as Russia’s war on Ukraine rages on.

2b2e7050 ccd4 4dd7 8158 efc002c9da8d poster


White House voices optimism on Iran nuclear talks

The White House is expressing optimism on talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and abandoned by President Donald Trump four years ago. (Feb. 18)


Boston the last big city to drop COVID-19 measures in push for normalcy

On Saturday, Boston will become the latest major city to lift its indoor masking mandate in public spaces, such as gyms, bars and restaurants, museums, and entertainment venues. Public transportation and health care settings are still subject to state and federal mask orders. “The decision was made based on key COVID-19 metrics, which show continued improvement in the prevalence and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Boston,” a statement from the office of Mayor Michelle Wu this week read. The move comes as Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the U.S., dropped its indoor mask mandate for restaurants, bars, gyms, shops and other businesses Friday. Late last month, the CDC announced guideline changes allowing most Americans to unmask indoors, which health experts said may be the first step in shifting the USA to an “endemic phase” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

58a7769c 2d94 42aa 9974 f1333a4911c9 900K COVID DEATHS getty


COVID-19 claims 900,000 US lives: Omicron may live longer

The U.S. has surpassed 900,000 COVID-19 deaths, as health officials urge for more people to get vaccinations and boosters.


Duke’s Coach K bids farewell to Cameron Indoor Stadium

After 42 seasons at the helm of the Duke men’s basketball team, Mike Krzyzewski coaches in his final home game Saturday against against rival North Carolina in the arena where he earned 572 of his 1,997 career wins and has hung five national championship banners. Krzyzewski’s farewell tour has included recent emotional stops at Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt, where his former player and assistant coach Jeff Capel presented him with a symbolic gift. Duke fans from across the country have made their way to Cameron to watch Coach K hold court in his final games. After Saturday, the No. 2 Blue Devils (26-4, 16-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) head to next week’s ACC Tournament with an outside shot at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Contributing: The Associated Press