Reporter’s Notebook: Once-lively Ukraine city turns nearly silent

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I saw a sign outside a small travel agency in Lviv on Tuesday that read, “Enjoy the World.”

For many here in Ukraine, the world they once knew is gone.

Millions have been forced from their homes, fleeing relentless Russian artillery that has left cities like Kharkiv Mariupol in flames, apartment buildings destroyed.  

Russia’s war on Ukraine has sparked the biggest European mass migration since World War II.
(Fox News/Bryan Allman)


Carrying what they can, Ukrainians are heading for the border, enduring days-long waits to cross into Poland, Hungary, Romania Slovakia in what’s become the biggest European mass migration since World War II.   

At the train station in Lviv, families huddle outside against the cold, hoping to find a way to safety. Inside, the corridor to the platform is shoulder to shoulder as people inch forward. There are simply not enough trains not enough seats to accommodate all the passengers.

Lviv's once-busy streets have emptied out.

Lviv’s once-busy streets have emptied out.
(Fox News/Dallas Hill)


Lviv is a city the size of Boston, its cobblestone streets lined with stately buildings evoking Paris or Rome. Usually bustling with tourists, it’s since become very quiet. Most of the stores are closed with no indication they’ll reopen in the foreseeable future. Even some of the city’s ubiquitous coffee kiosks are shuttered. Restaurants bars remain open but are serving only soft drinks.

There is a nationwide ban on alcohol sales at a supermarket, watchful employees large strips of tape ward would-be shoppers away.   

A supermarket in Ukraine blocking off alcohol to shoppers.

A supermarket in Ukraine blocking off alcohol to shoppers.
(Fox News/Andrew Fone)


The once-full shelves of food are noticeably barer than they were a week ago. Staples such as canned fish pickles are gone.

Not seen so far is the kind of panic buying that usually accompanies catastrophic events. There’s a sense of collectivism here, that we’re all in this together; take what you need no more.  

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What would happen if the US imposed a no-fly zone in Ukraine?

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded with U.S. leaders NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country as it continues warring with Russia, setting off a debate about the consequences such a move would have. 

“If there were a no-fly zone, we had to enforce it, that would mean U.S. planes flying concurrently with Russian ones. And you’d run the risk of U.S. planes downing Russians or vice versa,” Dan Hoffman, a Fox News contributor former CIA station chief in Moscow, told Fox News Digital. 

A no-fly zone bans aircraft from a specific area is sometimes used over government buildings for security reasons. The zones have also been imposed during times of conflict to prevent military aircraft from attacking the area. 


Hoffman told Fox News Digital that going back to the Cold War, U.S. strategy has dictated “no direct, kinetic engagement with the Soviet Union or with Russia.”

“That means our soldiers aren’t raising their firearms to go shoot them in the face vice versa,” he said.

Instead, the U.S. has fought proxy wars with Russia since the end of World War II, including currently in Ukraine. A no-fly zone, however, could change that put U.S. soldiers in direct conflict with Russians. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference on Russia’s military operation in Ukraine on Feb. 25, 2022, in Kyiv. 
(Presidency of Ukraine/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Zelenskyy held a Zoom call with more than 280 U.S. lawmakers Saturday pleaded for “urgent” military support humanitarian aid, including “control of the skies” to combat Russia. He also called on NATO President Biden last week to impose a no-fly zone over “significant parts” of the country. 

“We repeat every day: ‘Close the sky over Ukraine!'” Zelenskyy said in a video posted to Twitter Sunday, accompanied by English subtitles. 

But his appeals have hit a brick wall. 

NATO the White House have denied imposing the no-fly zone, while some U.S. leaders have described such a move as coming with disastrous consequences. 

“The only way to implement a no-fly zone is to send NATO fighter planes into Ukrainian airspace, then impose that no-fly zone by shooting down Russian planes,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “We understthe desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe.” 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference after a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

A no-fly zone risks a direct military conflict with Russia. It has the potential of escalating to a third world war, pitting nuclear power countries such as the U.S., France the U.K. against fellow nuclear power Russia. 

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 74% of Americans across the political spectrum support a no-fly zone. But some U.S. leaders say the issue is far more complicated than just prohibiting aircraft over Ukraine. 

“If people understwhat it means, it means World War III. It means starting World War III,” Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s not some rule you pass that everybody has to oblige by. It’s the willingness to shoot down the aircrafts of the Russian Federation, which is basically the beginning of World War III.”

Democrats have also sounded the alarm on imposing a no-fly zone, including Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy. 

“I think we need to be clear that we are not going to go to war with Russia, that would be the beginning of WWIII, it would drag all of Europe into a much broader war,” Murphy said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Zelenskyy addressed such concerns Monday said that Russian aircraft bombing his country, including schools, “need to be shot down” to “preserve lives.”

“I’m sure that the brave American soldiers who would be shooting it down knowing that it is flying towards the students — I’m sure that they had no doubt in doing so,” he told ABC News. 


Some U.S. lawmakers, such as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, however, have signaled that the no-fly zone option should remain on the table, while retired NATO supreme commander U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said that a humanitarian no-fly zone could allow for relief trains to get into the country for the wounded to be cared for. 

Hoffman told Fox News Digital that he understands why Zelenskyy is asking for the no-fly zone as it rings the alarm bells that the Ukraine leader is saying “help me or else I’m dead.” 

Hoffman said that instead, the U.S. could offer assistance in the form of halting Russian oil gas from being imported getting Ukraine air-defense systems anti-tank missiles. 


Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the battles have continued raging in various ports major cities. Zelenskyy addressed European leaders Friday said that if Ukraine is victorious, “this will be the victory for the whole democratic world.” 

“If we will fall, you will fall, so please don’t be silent, do not turn the blind on eye on this,” he added. 

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Russian failures in Ukraine leave ‘no option for a possible victory,’ alleged FSB whistleblower says

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in unforeseen obstacles challenges that make victory a near impossibility as casualties continue to mount amid crippling sanctions, according to a letter purportedly authored by a Russian intelligence analyst in one of Moscow’s security agencies. 

The more than 2,000-word report by a whistleblower in the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB, said the number of Russians killed in the conflict could number 10,000, a figure in line with Ukrainian estimates in stark contrast to the 498 reported by the Kremlin last week. 

The report said Russia doesn’t have an accurate number of its death count after losing contact with military units inside the country. 


People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine on March 1. Russian forces have struggled to make progress in Ukraine amid heavy fighting fierce resistance. 
(AP Photo/Serhii Nuzhnenko)

The author said the FSB was being blamed for Moscow’s failures in fending off Ukrainian defense forces, while the agency was not given advanced warning about the invasion. Russia was also unprepared to deal with the effects of the global sanctions it now faces as the ruble continues to plunge, the letter said. 

“No one knew that there would be such a war, so no one prepared for such sanctions,” the report said. “It’s just that there is no option for a possible victory.”

Meanwhile, officers were pressured to tailor reports to the narrative desired by Russian leaders. 

“We have been increasingly pressed to customize reports to the requirements of management – I once touched on this topic,” the author claims. “All these political consultants, politicians their retinue, influence teams – all this created chaos.”


“Now, even if Zelensky is killed, taken prisoner, nothing will change,” the report said. “And now even those who were loyal to us are against it. Because it was planned from above, because we were told that there would be no such option, unless we were attacked.

“Even with minimum resistance from the Ukrainians we’d need over 500,000 people, not including supply logistics workers,’ the author claims.

The letter also compared Russia’s failure to conquer Ukraine with the mistake made by Nazi Germany in World War II. The author said it remains to be seen whether leaders will start a conflict with Europe in an effort to reduce the sanctions. 

“Now I do not rule out that then we will be drawn into a real international conflict, like (former Nazi German leader Adolf) Hitler in 1939. And then our (pro-Russian) Z (symbol) will be compared to us with a swastika.”

Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the group, published the report on his Facebook page last week. Christo Grozev, who works for the Netherlands-based investigative journalism group Bellingcat, tweeted that he showed the letter to two FSB contacts, one current one former employee. They had no doubt that the author was a colleague, he said. 

Grozev was skeptical about its authenticity but said the letter “letter appeared different” in that it came from a reputable source was “way longer than a forger would choose to make it.”

Still, the letter could be part of a disinformation attempt from Ukraine, said Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America.” She cited several details in the letter that appeared to be suspicious. 

“Both sides right now are waging information warfare on each other,” she told Fox News. “It’s very long incorporates all kinds of things. If he’s really an FSB officer in the middle of this conflict right now, who has the time to write such a long post that would incorporate all these various things?”

She cited the author’s reference to Adolf Hitler as one example. 

“The Hitler thing. This is a western narrative,” she added. “The Russians hate Hitler, but it’s unlikely for them to compare Putin with Hitler.”

The author addressed whether Putin would initiate a nuclear strike against the West. 

“Is there a possibility of a local nuclear strike? Yes. Not for military purposes (it will not give anything – this is a defense breakthrough weapon), but with the aim of intimidating others,” the report said. 

He added that the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service, was “digging the earth” for evidence that Ukraine has secretly created nuclear weapons to justify such a strike. 


“From the cynical, I will only add that I do not believe that VV Putin will press the red button to destroy the whole world,” the author states.

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Russian mothers accuse Putin of using sons as ‘cannon fodder’ in Ukraine invasion: report

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Infuriated Russian mothers accused President Vladimir Putin of using their sons as “cannon fodder” for his invasion of Ukraine, according to recent video during which they shouted down a regional governor.

The video surfaced Monday, the same day when Russian police detained approximately 4,500 anti-war protesters, according to The Telegraph.

“We were all deceived, all deceived. They were sent there as cannon fodder,” one woman screamed at Sergey Tsivilev, governor of the Kuzbass region in Siberia. “They are young. They were unprepared.”


Tsivilev reportedly faced the mothers in a school gym while the incensed women berated him accused Putin’s government of lies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attempted to silence non-state media.    (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)
(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

As The Telegraph notes, it remains unclear whether the shouting women’s sons had been killed in Ukraine.

Tsivilev attempted to present Putin’s invasion as a “special operation” not a war, but was met with execration.

A cultural community centre, which locals said was destroyed by recent shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Byshiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 4, 2022. 

A cultural community centre, which locals said was destroyed by recent shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Byshiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 4, 2022. 
(REUTERS/Maksim Levin)


“This is a special operation and, at the moment, nobody can give comments about the special operation,” he said. “These guys were used…”

“Used!” interrupted one woman. “So our children were used?”

Destroyed buildings are seen on March 3, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine.

Destroyed buildings are seen on March 3, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine.
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Russian soldiers who were interrogated after being captured were reportedly under the impression they were undergoing a military exercise before they learned they were participating in a full-scale invasion.


Alexey, a 36-year-old PR manager who protested in Novosibirsk, Siberia, told The Telegraph: “Yes, it is scary, but you have to try not to be afraid,” according to The Telegraph. “But what is happening now in Ukraine is just a catastrophe, a horror.”

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Russian pro-war ‘Z’ symbol: what to know

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As the Russian invasion of Ukraine dragged into its second week, photos have emerged of Russian tanks uniforms emblazoned with various symbols, including “Z” “V,” leading to speculation about their precise meaning origins. 

The matter made headlines Sunday after Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak was seen sporting a “Z” on his chest while competing at Apparatus World Cup in Doha, Qatar alongside Ukrainians.  

The sign Z worlds reading “we don’t leave ours” is seen over Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, March 5, 2022.
(AP Photo)

Commentators agree that “Z” broadly signifies support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But its exact meanings, along with its counterpart “V,” could run much deeper. 


“Z” could have dual meanings, “Zapad” (the west) or “Z” for Ukrainian President Volodomyr “Zelensky,” while “V” could possibly stfor “Vostok” (the east). 

“The Russians love symbolism,” former intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler told Fox News. “It’s usually not just one thing.”

Another possible use of these symbols could be to distinguish Russian military equipment from Ukrainian military equipment. 

Russian soldiers sporting "V" "Z" symbols. 

Russian soldiers sporting “V” “Z” symbols. 
( Instagram/@mil_ru)

Despite either letter not appearing in the Cyrillic alphabet, both the “V” “Z” symbols are displayed on the Russian military’s official Instagram page. 


In one post, a Russian soldier is featured with a “Z” superimposed over the photo. 

“They protect you the world. Let’s support our guys,” the caption reads. 

Koffler told Fox News the Russians may be using Latin symbols as a signal that the war in Ukraine is part of a grander conflict between the Atlanticism of the west the Eurasianism of the east. 


“Russia perceives itself as neither European nor Asian, but Eurasian,” Koffler said. “This is how they view it. It’s not about Ukraine, it’s east against west. They want to control Eurasia they don’t want the U.S. or China to be in that position of dominant power.” 

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