APD | Weekly top 10 hot news (Feb.19- Feb.25)



Every weekend, Asia Pacific Daily will provide you with a run-down of the latest hot news.

This week, the following hot news you should know:

**Top 1 |**Putin announces special military operation in Donbas region


Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorized troops to carry out a special military operation in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agencies said on Thursday.

In a televised speech, Putin said the operation aims to protect people in the region and that Russia does not plan to occupy Ukrainian territory.

Further expansion of NATO and its use of Ukraine's territory is unacceptable, he said, adding that Russia cannot tolerate threats coming from Ukraine.

He warned that Russia would react immediately in case of foreign interference.

The announcement came after Putin signed decrees recognizing the "Luhansk People's Republic" and the "Donetsk People's Republic" in eastern Ukraine as independent and sovereign states on Monday.

**Top 2 |**Beijing 2022 concludes, passes Winter Olympics to Milano-Cortina 2026


The 2022 Winter Olympic Games came to a close at National Stadium in Beijing on Sunday night after over two weeks of competitions in 109 events of 15 disciplines over seven sports in the three competition zones of Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the ceremony with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

China, as the host, won a record 15 medals in total including nine golds. They ranked third on the medal table, behind Norway which set a new all-time record by securing 16 golds, and Germany that dominated the sliding competitions to pocket 12 golds.

**Top 3 |**Xi Jinping wishes Britain's Queen Elizabeth II a speedy recovery from COVID-19


Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a message of sympathy to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II over her COVID-19 infection and wished her a speedy recovery.

Buckingham Palace confirmed on Sunday that the 95-year-old British monarch has tested positive for the virus.

In his message, President Xi also said he attaches great importance to the development of China-Britain relations, and stands ready to work with the British side to take the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level between the two countries this year as an opportunity to promote new progress in bilateral relations.

**Top 4 |**Biden begins to sanction Moscow for 'beginning of a Russian invasion' of Ukraine


President Joe Biden declared Tuesday that Russia's latest moves amounted to "the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," announced new sanctions and said he would send additional U.S. troops to the region.

The president said the sanctions would target large Russian banks, Russia's sovereign debt, and, starting Wednesday, the Russian elite and their relatives, and he threatened to add more if Russian President Vladimir Putin takes even more aggressive action.

"This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as he indicated and asked permission to be able to do from his Duma," referring to the Russian parliament, Biden said in remarks from the White House.

He said, "if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further as with sanctions."

**Top 5 |**UK announces new set of sanctions against Russia


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would aim to cut Russia off from the U.K.'s financial markets as he announced a new set of sanctions in response to President Vladimir Putin's operation in Ukraine.

The sanctions include freezing the assets of all major Russian banks, including VTB Bank, the nation's second-biggest bank, Johnson said Thursday. Britain also plans to bar Russian companies and the Russian government from raising money on U.K. markets.

Britain will also ban the export of a wide range of high-tech products, including semiconductors, to Russia and bar the nation's flagship airline, Aeroflot, from landing at U.K. airports.

**Top 6 |**Zelenskyy says Ukraine waiting on support from partners


The process of convening an emergency summit of the Normandy Four has been initiated and Ukraine is waiting for clear and effective steps of support from partners, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday in an address to the nation.

Zelenskyy also accused Russia of wrecking peace talks and ruled out making any territorial concessions.

Ukraine was committed to peace and diplomacy after Russia formally recognized the "Luhansk People's Republic (LPR)" and the "Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)" as independent and sovereign states on Monday evening, said Zelenskyy.

After chairing a security council meeting, Zelenskyy accused Russia of violating Ukraine's sovereign territory and said it could mean Moscow pulling the plug on the Minsk peace talks aimed at ending the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The president said Ukraine wanted to solve the crisis through diplomacy but his country was ready to dig in for the long haul.

**Top 7 |**Wang Yang calls on Taiwan compatriots to realize reunification is historical trend


A senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Monday called on Taiwan compatriots to realize that China's reunification is a historical trend.

Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks in Beijing at a virtual meeting with Wu Cheng-tien, chairman of Taiwan's New Party. Wu attended the closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Sunday.

Wang hailed the New Party's long-held stance of supporting reunification and opposing "Taiwan independence."

He urged Taiwan compatriots to resolutely oppose separatist attempts in seeking "Taiwan independence" and interference by external forces, calling for efforts to shore up a strong front for opposing "independence" and promoting reunification.

Top 8 | Kyiv residents race to leave


Many residents of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv are racing to leave as Russian troops enter the nation.

Residents woke up to the sound of air sirens and explosions on Thursday, prompting long lines of cars on the roads and packed train stations, as people made their way out of the city, reports Reuters.

The mayor of Kyiv has also imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m.

During the curfew, all personnel will not be allowed to enter the city, but those currently in Kyiv can leave.

**Top 9 |**Police reclaim Canada capital after trucker siege ends


The last big rigs were on Sunday towed out of Canada's capital, where the streets were quiet for the first time in almost a month after a massive police operation ended a drawn-out siege by protesters opposing COVID-19 health rules.

A major clean-up was underway in Ottawa's snowy downtown, where police in riot gear had faced off with trucker-led demonstrators for two full days, finally driving them out of their protest hub outside parliament.

"I'm very happy to have my city back," said Jeff Lindley, who lives and works downtown. Ottawa interim police Chief Steve Bell told media at a news conference, "many of the unlawful protesters are gone."

But he added, "We're not done this operation yet," explaining that authorities were on watch to "make sure that nobody returns to occupy our streets again."

Early Sunday, police were manning checkpoints restricting access to a 200-hectare downtown area while a sizable force remained on standby to defend the ground reclaimed from the truckers.

**Top 10 |**Biden responds with limited sanctions after Putin recognizes breakaway Ukraine regions


President Joe Biden on Monday reacted swiftly to Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring he would recognize the independence of two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, possibly using the move as a pretext for an invasion the U.S. has warned was likely coming at any hour.

The White House said Biden would soon issue an executive order "that will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by U.S. persons to, from, or in" the two Ukrainian regions under the control of Russian-backed separatists, Donetsk and Luhansk.

The order "will also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. She added that the U.S. "will also soon announce additional measures related to today’s blatant violation of Russia’s international commitments."