Marianne Williamson

Author
Jump to  stances on the issues
Marianne Williamson dropped out of the presidential race on January 10, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Williamson, who is widely known for her books, is calling for “a moral and spiritual awakening in the country.” She has pushed to expand social safety net programs and has said she would immediately pursue reparations to the descendants of slaves, but has cautioned that Democrats won’t beat Trump by just “having all these plans.”
Attended Pomona College, 1970-1972
July 8, 1952
Divorced
Jewish
India
Co-founder, Project Angel Food, 1989

WILLIAMSON IN THE NEWS

Marianne Williamson formally launches likely long-shot Democratic primary challenge to Biden
Updated 10:06 AM ET, Sat Mar 4, 2023
Author Marianne Williamson formally announced Saturday that she's running for president in 2024, her second bid for the White House following an unsuccessful campaign in 2020. Her announcement likely sets up the first -- albeit long-shot -- Democratic primary challenge to President Joe Biden, who has long said he intends to run for reelection but has yet to make a formal announcement. "I have run for president before," she told supporters at her campaign launch at Union Station in Washington. "I'm not naive about the forces which have no intention of allowing anyone into this conversation who does not align with their predetermined agenda." Williamson spoke for roughly 20 minutes, mostly about economic and social injustice, along with corruption in Washington. "The status quo will not disrupt itself; that's our job," she said. "Let the people get in there. We'll handle it from here." In a statement last month teasing her announcement, Williamson said she was motivated by "a realization of the Democratic Party's shift away from the party of President Franklin Roosevelt" and "the economic injustices endured by millions of Americans due to the influence of corporate money on our political system." "The opponent is not a specific situation or circumstance," Williamson said Saturday. "The opponent is an economic mindset that has had its grip on this country for the last 50 years." In her bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Williamson failed to gain traction in a crowded primary field. Her appearances on the debate stage, though, did garner attention. She said then-President Donald Trump had harnessed a "dark psychic force of collectivized hatred" and vowed that her first act as president would be to call then-New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and say, "Girlfriend, you are so on," in response to Ardern saying that she wanted to make her country the best place in the world to be a child. However, the author then went on to repeatedly miss the Democratic Party's fundraising and polling thresholds to qualify for most of the primary debates. She laid off her campaign staff nationally a week before dropping out of the race in early 2020. After suspending her campaign, Williamson threw her support behind businessman Andrew Yang in the Iowa caucuses before officially endorsing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' bid for president. During her previous campaign, the former Democratic hopeful pushed for expansion of social safety net programs and reparations to the descendants of slaves. Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Republicans are lining up for the opportunity to take on Biden, with Trump as the leading contender. Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and US ambassador to the United Nations, and Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech and health care entrepreneur, have announced their own presidential bids to challenge the former president in the Republican primary. This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.
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STANCES ON THE ISSUES

climate crisis
Close Accordion Pane
Williamson supports the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, though she says on her campaign website that “it doesn’t cover the whole range of measures we must undertake to reverse global warming.” She supports US participation in the Paris climate agreement, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. She’s also set a goal of reaching 100% reduction of emissions by 2030. Williamson would phase out sales of vehicles with combustion engines – “fossil fuel vehicles” – by 2035 and remove cars that require fossil fuels from the road by 2050. She would electrify all rail traffic by 2030 and require all new airplanes to use biofuels by 2035. Williamson would also restart Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which set limits on carbon pollution from US power plants. But she has said she does not support expanding nuclear power, would ban fracking and would create mandatory carbon fees to mitigate the damage from fossil fuels. She pledges to appoint “a world-class environmentalist” to run the Environmental Protection Agency. More on Williamson’s climate crisis policy
economy
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson describes economic inequality as a dire threat to the future of American democracy and unchecked corporate power as “a sociopathic economic system,” according to her campaign website. She proposes offering all working-age Americans a universal basic income of $1,000 a month and backs a “universal savings program” – a trust fund created at birth with a government deposit, with the government matching family contributions on a sliding scale as children grow up. Williamson says she would pay for her programs by rolling back tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy from Trump’s 2017 tax law, including restoring the tax on estates over $5 million, while keeping middle-class tax reductions intact. She also proposes adding a fee to financial transactions. When it comes to trade, Williamson says she likes what Trump has done on China. She opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, an 11-nation deal negotiated under Obama that Trump withdrew from in one of his first acts as President. She has, however, echoed other Democrats by expressing concern over Trump’s newly negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a successor to President Bill Clinton’s 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. More on Williamson’s economic policy
education
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson supports universal preschool, would raise funding for free and reduced-price meals in schools and would expand curriculums to focus on meditation, anti-bullying and other emotional learning programs, according to her campaign website. She is calling for free college or technical training for certain students, potentially paid for through a payroll tax on graduates or a public service requirement. Like other Democratic candidates, she is also calling for student loan forgiveness and for cutting interest rates on student loans. More on Williamson’s education policy
gun violence
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson has called for universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines. She supports “mandatory waiting periods for all gun dealers, including gun shows and sporting retailers,” requiring child safety locks on all stored firearms and banning all so-called assault rifles as well as semi-automatic weapons, according to her website. Williamson supports so-called “red flag” laws, which allow families and police to petition a judge to temporarily block someone’s access to firearms if there is credible concern they might hurt themselves or others. More on Williamson’s gun violence policy
healthcare
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson supports providing a government-run health care program that individuals can voluntarily buy into. “I think a lot of people would gravitate to that,” she said at a CNN town hall in 2019. “If people want private insurance or want to augment it, then they should be able to.” At the town hall, she said she sees health care as a broader conversation about things that stress Americans, toxins in food and the impact of environmental policies. Williamson told The Washington Post that undocumented immigrants should be covered under this government-run program. More on Williamson’s health care policy
immigration
Open Accordion Pane
Williamson supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the US who lack a “serious criminal background issue.” Williamson also supports the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields from deportation some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as minors. That program was formally canceled by Trump but remains in limbo. She argues that Trump’s proposed border wall is “expensive, impractical, and unlikely to address any of the real challenges we face,” according to her website. She believes the solution to undocumented immigration lies heavily in the war on drugs, “which has created rampant crime and violence among our neighbors.” More on Williamson’s immigration policy

LATEST POLITICAL NEWS

February 21, 2024 - Russia-Ukraine news
Updated 12:02 AM ET, Thu Feb 22, 2024
Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here. Canada said it “condemns in the strongest terms the death of opposition leader Alexey Navalny” and holds "the Kremlin entirely accountable,” Global Affairs Canada wrote on X Wednesday. At the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ request, Ambassador Oleg Stepanov was summoned in protest over the death of Navalny in Russian custody. "A senior official from Global Affairs Canada met with him to convey Canada’s strong condemnation and called on the Kremlin to conduct a full and transparent inquiry into the death; and release Navalny’s body without delay to his family," a statement from Global Affairs Canada said. The Russian Embassy responded by urging “Canada to stop interfering” with Moscow’s internal affairs in a statement on Telegram Wednesday. “Every death is a tragedy. But the death of a Russian citizen is strictly Russia’s matter. Thus, we urge Canada to stop interfering into our internal affairs,” the statement read. Some background: Several nations — including France, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Germany — have also summoned the Russian ambassador to their countries over Navalny's death in the past few days. Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, accused Western countries of politicizing Navalny's death and said the investigation into the cause of death has "not concluded yet." ##Navalny## Discontent toward Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russian society is on the rise, according to Abbas Gallyamov, Putin's former speechwriter. Gallyamov noted that Russian success in Avdiivka will be a key factor to “suppress this discontent” and “strengthen Putin’s domestic standing” ahead of Russian elections. If there were no victory in Avdiivka, Putin would fail to “solidify his control” over Russia, Gallyamov told CNN's Brianna Keilar Wednesday. This military gain gave him “an additional injection of legitimacy” and is very beneficial for his presidential campaign. Talking about people reportedly detained across Russia over vigils for opposition figure Alexey Navalny, Gallyamov said “sooner or later this will definitely backfire” because the discontent in society is growing and “at some moment it can become very strong.”  Gallyamov said Putin is trying to get rid of all the opposition leaders to at least make discontent in Russian society be "unstructured," "disorganized" and "leaderless" ahead of future elections. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is trying to keep tabs on everyone with an American passport who comes to Russia, according to Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov. “The main goal of the whole operation is to build up a bank of hostages with American passports,” Soldatov told CNN's Brianna Keilar Wednesday, commenting on Ksenia Karelina, a Russian-American arrested in Russia for allegedly donating about $51 to Ukraine. He said Moscow will use it “as leverage” in any future negotiations with Russia. A US-Russian dual citizen was excited to go back to her hometown in Russia to see her grandparents, but she had no idea that she would be arrested and face charges of treason for allegedly donating just $51 to a Ukrainian charity, her boyfriend said. Chris Van Heerden, the boyfriend of Ksenia Karelina, said she never thought this would happen. The couple, who live in Los Angeles, flew to Istanbul together before Karelina continued to Russia to see her family while Van Heerden flew back to California. Van Heerden said Karelina was detained, but released, when she entered the country. Later, on the day she was due to fly back to the United States, she told him she was relieved they were going to let her go home — but that was the last time he heard from her. "I believe in America. I do believe that America will bring her back to me and that's the hope I'm holding onto,” Van Heerden said, adding that she never talked about any donations and that she is “so proud to be Russian” and never “intervene with anything about the war” in Ukraine. The boyfriend said she wrote him a letter after being arrested. In the letter, which he calls a “love story,” Karelina describes conditions and expresses her worry about her boyfriend. He said her attitude about what is going to happen varies day by day. Some days she is strong and feels like she will get home soon, but other days, she wrote him: “It’s like I’ll just sit on my bed and stare at a wall for hours, like, knowing that I'm going to be here forever because that's what she's thinking.” Van Heerden told CNN that she was a "semi-pro ballerina" for years but was a full-time esthetician before being arrested in Russia. Ukraine shot down seven Russian fighter jets within the past seven days, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Seven combat aircraft – Russian 'Su' jets – were shot down in a week,” Zelensky said in his nightly address Wednesday. Russia has not publicly commented on the incidents. Russia has lost 338 aircraft since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, the general staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces reported Wednesday. CNN cannot independently verify these numbers. Some of the men detained at vigils for Alexey Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia, were handed military draft summonses, OVD-Info, an independent Russian human rights group that monitors repression in the country, said in a Telegram post on Wednesday. “In St. Petersburg, those detained during the laying of flowers in memory of Alexey Navalny are given summonses to register for military service and clarification of their credentials at police departments and temporary detention centers," OVD-Info said, without providing any additional details. ##Navalny## Russia claimed to capture Krynky, a small, but key, riverside village situated on the left bank of the Dnipro River in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, according to Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Ukraine's Operational Command denied Shoigu's claim, describing it as “a manipulation and falsification of facts.”  Here are other headlines you should know: Avdiivka developments: A pro-Kremlin Russian military blogger, Andrey Morozov, has reportedly died just days after he reported that Russia had suffered massive losses during its assault on the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka. Several well-informed pro-Russian military bloggers as well as Russian state news agencies and newspapers reported he had died by suicide. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded medals to Russian soldiers Wednesday as the military continues to celebrate its victory in capturing the eastern Ukrainian town. Developments on the ground: In eastern Ukraine, footage geolocated by CNN Wednesday, showed Russian forces hoisting their flag over the Donetsk village of Pobieda, near Mariinka. Russian military bloggers said Ukrainian forces had “retreated” and were regrouping in positions to the south. And in southern Ukraine along the Zaporizhzhia front, Moscow has for weeks been pushing east and north toward Robotyne, as well as west, toward Mala Tokmachka. Detained US-Russian citizen: Dual US-Russian citizen Ksenia Karelina, a 33-year-old Los Angeles resident, is being detained in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg because she allegedly donated $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity while she was in the US, according to her employer. Grain dispute: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invited Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Andrzej Duda to meet with him at the Polish-Ukrainian border to settle the grain dispute that has led to several blockades by farmers. He also called on the European Commission to send a representative to attend the meeting. Sanctions: The UK is sanctioning six individuals who were in charge of the “Polar Wolf” penal colony, where Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny died last week. They will be banned from the UK and have their assets frozen, the UK Foreign Office said in a statement Wednesday. US aid and diplomacy: White House spokesperson Andrew Bates attacked Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson over not putting the $95 billion foreign aid package on the floor for a vote, accusing him of putting "his own internal politics above the safety of the American people" in a new memo Wednesday morning. Also, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were a matter of yards from each other at the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday, but they did not speak or even appear to look at each other during a roughly 15-minute photo session of the ministerial meeting. ##Catch Up## US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were a matter of yards from each other at the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday, but they did not speak or even appear to look at each other during a roughly 15-minute photo session of the ministerial meeting. It comes just days after the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, which the US and its partners have blamed on Russia, and amid news that Russia has detained a dual US-Russian citizen. Blinken last year met briefly with Lavrov on the margins of the G20 to confront him about the war in Ukraine, Russia’s suspension of cooperation in a nuclear arms reduction treaty and its detention of Americans. It is unclear if the two will meet at this year’s G20 meeting. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates attacked Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson over not putting the $95 billion foreign aid package on the floor for a vote, accusing him of putting "his own internal politics above the safety of the American people" in a new memo Wednesday morning.  “The damage House Republicans are actively causing to American national security mounts every day that they insist on continuing their two-week vacation,” Bates wrote.  The memo also slams Johnson for not having the House in session and includes a “Vacation Reading Packet for the House Republican Conference.” Some context: It’s the latest example of US President Joe Biden’s administration criticizing House Republicans for not taking up the national security supplemental that would provide critical aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. So far, Johnson has resisted calls to bring the Senate-passed aid package up for a quick vote – a move that would require Democratic support and almost certainly spark a revolt from his right flank. The speaker has said the legislation, which includes over $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine, would not pass in its current form, and privately told Republicans during a closed-door meeting last week there is “no rush” to address the issue. As he comes under increasing pressure, Johnson released a statement over the weekend in response to Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s death. In it, he called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “vicious dictator” who must be “met with opposition,” though he did not outline any plans for doing so. A pro-Kremlin Russian military blogger, Andrey Morozov, has reportedly died just days after he reported that Russia had suffered massive losses during its assault on the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka. Several well-informed pro-Russian military bloggers as well as Russian state news agencies and newspapers reported he had died by suicide. What was he writing about: Morozov, known as "Murz" on Telegram, claimed Moscow had lost around 16,000 soldiers and 300 armored vehicles since it started its assault in October. CNN cannot verify Morozov's estimates. That post drew severe criticism from several Russian propagandists and has since been deleted from his Telegram account.  Here's what he said in his last few posts: He announced his apparent intention to take his life, calling on his readers not to mourn him and asking that he be buried in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) — the Russian name for the Ukrainian region of Luhansk, whose annexation by Moscow is considered illegal by most of the international community. Morozov complained he was being bullied because of his report about Avdiivka and said he was ordered to delete the post by someone he described as “Comrade Colonel.” He also shared his will and complained about the shortage of weapons for Russian troops at the front. Why this matters: Pro-Russian military bloggers have enjoyed some freedom to criticize the Russian military and the way the Ministry of Defense was prosecuting the war in Ukraine. After the failed uprising by former Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, Moscow began to crack down on dissent among ultra-nationalist writers, most notably arresting former soldier and also military blogger Igor Girkin.  In the wake of Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny's death, his wife Yulia Navalnaya has been hurtled into the limelight as a Russian opposition figure. While she may prove unifying among Russia's disparate opposition voices, there are now fewer forces to unite.  Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, both Ilya Yashin — a close ally of Navalny and once-rising star in opposition circles — and Vladimir Kara-Murza — a dual Russian-British citizen and opposition politician — have been given long prison terms. Additionally, Russia’s central election commission recently barred the only remaining anti-war candidate, Boris Nadezhdin, from running in upcoming presidential elections in March. Watch more about what Navalny's death may mean for the Russian opposition: ##Navalny## Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and President Andrzej Duda to meet with him at the Polish-Ukrainian border to settle the grain dispute that has led to several blockades by farmers. “I would like to address Polish society and express Ukraine's gratitude to everyone who distinguishes between political manipulation and critical national security issues,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. He also called on the European Commission to send a representative to attend the meeting. “We have had enough of Moscow's presence in our lands. We have had enough of misunderstandings. We should not humiliate each other, we should not humiliate either Ukrainian or Polish farmers. We need unity,” he said.  What's happening: Farmers in Poland have been blocking access routes to border crossings with Ukraine. They have vowed to continue their demonstrations, which started on February 9, for 30 days. Similar action has been taking place in a host of countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Romania, Greece, Germany and the Netherlands. Why farmers are protesting: According to farmers, cheap Ukrainian grain imports have undercut domestic prices and hit the sales of local producers. European farmers cannot compete with the price of Ukrainian grain, they say, and have demanded compensation from the European Commission. Ukraine is often called the “breadbasket of Europe” due to the vast quantities of grain it produces. When Russia blocked Ukrainian Black Sea ports, it sparked fears about global food supplies and prompted the European Commission to set up what it called “solidarity lanes” in May 2022 to facilitate exports. The commission also temporarily eliminated all duties and quotas on Ukraine’s exports, allowing a glut of cheap grain to flow into Europe. Anger grew after the European Commission announced a draft decision to extend duty-free and quota-free imports of Ukrainian grain until June 2024. CNN’s Christian Edwards, Alex Hardie and Antonia Mortensen contributed reporting. Dual US-Russian citizen Ksenia Karelina, a 33-year-old Los Angeles resident, is being detained in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg because she donated money to a Ukrainian charity while she was in the United States, according to her employer. Russia accused Karelina of "providing financial assistance to a foreign state in activities directed against the security of our country." Karelina entered Russia on January 2, and the United States learned on February 8 that she had been arrested, a US official told CNN. Consular access still has not been granted, according to the official. Before her arrest, she worked as an esthetician at Ciel Spa at SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, according to the spa. She was visiting family members, including her 90-year-old grandmother, at the time of her arrest, the spa said. Karelina is being wrongly "accused of treason for allegedly donating $51.80 to a Ukrainian charity in the US," according to her employer's statement.  "To know Ksenia is to love her and this heartbreaking news is so difficult to share but it must be done to spread her story and seek justice. Please help us spread the word to bring Ksenia home," Ciel Spa said.  What social media tells us about her: Karelina posted often about her life on the Russian social media platform VK. In November 2021, she posted photos standing between American flags holding a piece of paper and an American flag. In the post, she said she received her US citizenship. The US official confirmed that she became a US citizen in 2021 and said the United States government is tracking her detention. In another post on July 2017, Karelina posted many pictures appearing to be of her wearing a ballerina costume, including pointe shoes, a leotard, and a tutu in New York City.   Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded medals to Russian soldiers on Wednesday as the military continues to celebrate its victory in capturing the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka after Ukrainian forces withdrew.  Putin traveled to the Chkalovskiy airfield outside Moscow to award state honors to the soldiers from the Air and Space Forces, according to a Kremlin statement on Wednesday.  Addressing the soldiers, Putin thanked them for their "courage and bravery" in displaying "the highest skill in accomplishing their tasks."  The Russian leader was met by his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, who presented a brief report, according to the statement. Earlier on Wednesday, Russia's army chief, Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov, visited troops near the front line in eastern Ukraine and presented awards to soldiers who participated in the assault of Avdiivka, the Russian Ministry of Defense said.  Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday claimed that Krynky, a small riverside village situated on the left bank of the Dnipro River in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, is “completely” under Russian control at the moment. Shoigu called Krynky “a stronghold” for his troops “for further advancement and deployment of forces.” Ukraine's Operational Command denied Shoigu's claim, describing it as “a manipulation and falsification of facts.”  “The defense forces of southern Ukraine continue to hold their positions, inflicting significant losses on the enemy,” the command said. Video shared by pro-Ukrainian bloggers shows Russian soldiers hoisting a flag in the area, but then fleeing, which seemingly contradicts Shoigu's claim. CNN was not able to geolocate the footage and independently verify the battlefield status. In the fall, Russian officials expressed concern about Ukraine establishing a foothold in Krynky. Elsewhere on the battlefield: In eastern Ukraine, footage geolocated by CNN Wednesday, showed Russian forces hoisting their flag over the Donetsk village of Pobieda, near Mariinka. Russian military bloggers said Ukrainian forces had “retreated” and were regrouping in positions to the south. In southern Ukraine along the Zaporizhzhia front, Moscow has for weeks been pushing east and north toward Robotyne, as well as west, toward Mala Tokmachka. Russia claimed Wednesday it inflicted heavy losses on Ukrainian forces in the area, but refrained from saying it had made visible gains. Ukraine also claimed it inflicted heavy losses on Russian units.  CNN could not independently verify either Ukrainian or Russian claims. This post was updated with more details from the battlefields in Ukraine. The UK is sanctioning six individuals who were in charge of the “Polar Wolf” penal colony, where Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny died last week.  They will be banned from the UK and have their assets frozen, the UK Foreign Office said in a statement Wednesday. The men were named as: Col. Vadim Konstantinovich Kalinin – head of IK-3 Arctic Penal Colony "Polar Wolf" Lt. Col. Sergey Nikolaevich Korzhov, deputy head Lt. Col. Vasily Alexandrovich Vydrin, deputy head Lt. Col.Vladimir Ivanovich Pilipchik, deputy head Lt. Col. Aleksandr Vladimirovich Golyakov, deputy head  Col. Aleksandr Valerievich Obraztsov – deputy head The foreign office said Kalinin oversaw the "brutal prison camp" where Navalny was kept "in solitary confinement for up to two weeks at a time." "Mr Navalny’s condition had deteriorated in his three years in prison. Mr Navalny suffered from being denied medical treatment, as well as having to walk in –32C weather while being held in the prison,” the foreign office said.   On Tuesday, the US said it would unveil a new sanctions package against Russia on Friday in response to Navalny's death. ##Navalny## At least three people have been killed, and another 18 wounded after Russian shelling struck several Ukrainian regions over the past 24 hours, authorities said Wednesday. Here's how different regions were affected: Kharkiv: Two people were killed and at least one wounded after around 20 areas came under Russian artillery and mortar fire, according to Oleh Sniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration. Donetsk: One person was killed in the town of Kostyantynivka, according to Vadym Filashkin, the head of the region's military administration. Kramatorsk: Six people were wounded in the city and 12 high-rise buildings were damaged, Filashkin said. Kherson: Four people were wounded, said regional military head Oleksandr Prokudin. Dnipropetrovsk: Three people were wounded in the city of Nikopol, said regional military chief Serhiy Lysak. Making other headlines this morning: Ukraine downs drones: The Ukrainian Air Force said it downed 13 out of 19 attack drones, as well as a guided missile launched overnight by Russia. The Iranian-made Shahed drones were intercepted in the Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, it said. Navalny's mother files lawsuit: Lyudmila Navalnaya, the mother of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, has filed a lawsuit over the "inaction of the investigative committee to release Alexey’s body," according to Ivan Zhdanov, the director of the late activist's Anti-Corruption Foundation.  Russian drones: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told state media that Russia produces thousands of drones a day. He said that over the past eight to nine months, Russia had made a "giant step" in manufacturing the uncrewed aircraft. EU sanctions: The European Union has revealed a slew of new sanctions aimed at impacting Russia's drone production capabilities. An EU diplomat told CNN that almost 200 individuals and companies will be listed under this new package, making it one of the largest finalized by the bloc. US dual citizen arrested in Russia: The Russian security service arrested a dual US-Russian citizen on charges of treason for collecting funds for Ukrainian organizations and openly supporting Kyiv. The FSB named her as 33-year-old Los Angeles resident Ksenia Pavlovna Karelina. ##Catch Up## Russia's army chief has visited troops near the frontline in Eastern Ukraine and presented awards to soldiers who participated in the assault on the town of Avdiivka, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.  Most of the footage was recorded indoors and CNN could not independently verify where it was taken.  According to the ministry, Army General Valery Gerasimov visited the command post for the troops that participated in the attack on the town. “Medals, state awards for the liberation of Avdiivka... I congratulate you on these awards,” Gerasimov says. “I wish you further success in the battles.” Russia’s military chief added the “major task” of conquering Avdiivka had been accomplished in what he said was a “fairly short period of time.”  Some context: Russia raised its flag in several parts of Avdiivka in Donetsk on Sunday, hours after Ukrainian forces beat a hasty retreat from a town they've been defending for a decade. The European Union has reached an agreement on its 13th package of sanctions on Russia, targeting the production of drones used by Moscow on the battlefield in Ukraine.  News of this latest package comes at a pivotal time for war-torn Ukraine as the second anniversary of Russia's invasion grows closer and concerns mount over recent battlefield failures, including the loss of the eastern town of Avdiivka.  An EU diplomat told CNN that almost 200 individuals and companies will be listed under this new package, making it one of the largest finalized by the bloc. The sanctions will target the procurement networks for drone components "which end up within the Russian military complex, and then on the battlefield in Ukraine," the diplomat added. Entities based in third countries, as well as Russia, will be sanctioned. The package was hailed by the bloc's top diplomat Josep Borrell, who said it will see the EU "taking more action against entities involved in circumvention, the defence and military sectors." EU's lawyers will now get to work on the package's text, in a bid to have it published by the anniversary of the Russian invasion on February 24, the diplomat said.  Kyiv, Ukraine – The small group of women thought about canceling their protest when the sirens went off. But even though Kyiv was under missile attack again, it went ahead anyway. Antonina brought along her 3-year-old son Sasha. “My dad doesn’t come home. We are waiting for him. I’m waiting for my dad to come back,” the little boy said. Holding a sign saying, “Fair Deadlines for Demobilization,” Antonina said her husband was serving in a mortar unit near Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine. She has not seen him for five months and tries to rationalize his absence to Sasha. “I tell my son that his dad is at work, he is in the military, he is earning money.” Mobilization periods are currently open-ended, with no statutory cut-off. Antonina’s husband volunteered two years ago, just after Russia’s full-scale invasion. Now aged 43, he has served long enough, she told CNN. “It is hard for my husband to endure this length of time on the ground, avoiding all the shells and doing everything he needs to do at the front line,” she said. A short distance away from where the women were standing, lawmakers debated reforms to Ukraine’s mobilization rules, inside Kyiv’s heavily protected parliament building. A new law could be passed within a few weeks that would pave the way for a significant increase in conscription numbers. Read more about Ukraine's plan to expand the draft Three people were killed and at least 18 wounded by Russian shelling in several Ukrainian regions over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday. Oleh Sniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration, said two people had been killed and at least one wounded after about 20 areas in the region came under Russian artillery and mortar fire. "An enemy kamikaze drone hit a civilian car in Petropavlivka village" in the Kupiansk district at around 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sniehubov said, killing two men who were farm workers. In the Donetsk region, one person was killed in the town of Kostyantynivka, according to the head of the region's military administration Vadym Filashkin. Six people were wounded in the city of Kramatorsk as a result of Russian missiles, and 12 high-rise buildings were damaged, Filashkin said. "In total, the Russians fired 19 times at the settlements of Donetsk region over the last day. 122 people were evacuated from the frontline, including 23 children," he said. In the Kherson region, four people were wounded, said regional military head Oleksandr Prokudin. "Over the past day, the enemy carried out 47 attacks, firing 159 shells, using artillery, mortars, tanks and UAVs," he said. Russian forces fired 27 shells at the city of Kherson, he said.  In the Dnipropetrovsk region, three people were wounded in the city of Nikopol, said regional military chief Serhiy Lysak. Alexey Nalvalny's mother has filed a lawsuit over the "inaction of the investigative committee to release Alexey’s body," according to Ivan Zhdanov, the director of the late activist's Anti-Corruption Foundation.  Russian state media reported on Wednesday that the city court of Salekhard in the Arctic Circle received "a complaint" from Lyudmila Navalnaya about "illegal actions and decisions," but didn't specify who or what entity she accused or details about the alleged actions.  The hearing will be closed and is scheduled for March 4, the court told Russian state news agency TASS. Investigators had told Navalny's mother that they moved her son's body to a morgue in Salekhard. But when she and Navalny's lawyer arrived at the morgue last weekend, they were told the body was not there.  They have been denied access to the morgue at least twice, according to Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh. On Tuesday, Navalny's mother released a video appealing directly to Putin. "Let me see my son," she said. Remember: Kremlin critic Navalny died on Friday in a remote penal colony in Siberia, according to the Russian prison service, after being imprisoned upon returning to the country in February 2021. The cause of his death remains unclear.  ##Navalny## The Ukrainian Air Force said they downed 13 out of 19 attack drones, as well as a guided missile, launched by Russia overnight.  “Anti-aircraft missile units, mobile firing groups and electronic warfare assets of the Ukrainian Defence Forces were engaged to repel the air attack,” the air force said Wednesday in a statement on Telegram.  The Iranian-made Shahed drones were intercepted in the Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, the force said. It said "some of the six" Russian drones that were not intercepted "did not reach their targets." The air force said that the X-59 guided missile was downed in the Poltava region of central Ukraine. Russia produces “thousands of drones a day,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with state media TASS on Tuesday. Shoigu said Russia had made a "giant step" in making uncrewed aircraft "over the past eight to nine months." "Today, our use of FPV drones amounts to hundreds per day, and production amounts to thousands per day,” Shoigu told TASS, adding that drone production “requires constant and continuous improvement.” According to Shoigu, the significant increase in production was possible in part due to “the new generation of entrepreneurs” who got involved in drone and military equipment production. Ukraine also plans to ramp up its drone production this year. During a press conference in December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv plans to produce one million drones in 2024. A Ukrainian commander stationed on the outskirts of Avdiivka said Russia will continue its advance into the eastern town of Donetsk region. Maksym Zhorin, deputy commander of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, said Ukrainian troops were "clearly aware that the Russians have enough forces in the town itself to continue their offensive." In Kyiv, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Avdiivka would not have been lost if Ukraine “had received all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it.” The White House has placed blame for the loss of Avdiivka squarely on Republicans in Congress, as the US faces growing pressure to act on more funding as Kyiv's supplies run low. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Ukraine's withdrawal from Avdiivka “an unconditional success.” Here are the latest developments in the region: US to impose sanctions on Russia: The US will on Friday announce a major sanctions package against Russia that is intended to hold President Vladimir Putin accountable for his war in Ukraine — and the death of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The US had been working on the new sanctions package before Navalny's death, a senior US official said. Navalny's widow asks EU to not recognize Russia's election: Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya, who has vowed to continue her husband's fight for democracy, has urged the European Union to not recognize next month's Russian elections. Children returned: Eleven Ukrainian children were reunited with their families after being repatriated from Russia. Ukraine has long said that thousands of Ukrainian children have been forcibly sent to Russian-controlled areas since Moscow's invasion. Ukrainian pilot training: The first four Ukrainian pilots are scheduled to complete training on F-16 fighter jets in a few months. Last year, a coalition of nations led by Denmark began training Ukrainian pilots on the US jets. US dual citizen arrested in Russia: The FSB security service arrested a dual US-Russian citizen on charges of treason for collecting funds for Ukrainian organizations and openly supporting Kyiv. FSB named the 33-year-old Los Angeles resident as Ksenia Pavlovna Karelina. Russian defector reportedly dead: A Russian helicopter pilot Maxim Kuzminov who defected to Ukraine in a dramatic operation is dead, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Directorate told CNN. ##Catch Up## Two men were killed and one woman was wounded after a Russian drone hit a car carrying civilians in Ukraine's northeastern region of Kharkiv, a military official said on Telegram Wednesday. A man with his wife and a driver were on their way home from work at a local farm when the strike hit the village of Petropavlivka, said Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration. The woman was taken to the hospital after the strike, Syniehubov said. Eleven Ukrainian children reunited with their families after being repatriated from Russia on Tuesday, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said. "There are 6 girls, including two twin two-year-old sisters, and 5 boys. The youngest returned child is 2 years old, the oldest is 16 years old," Lubinets wrote on X. Oleksandr, 16, told AFP news agency: "Everything will get better. After all, with loved ones, life will be easier from now on." The children were repatriated from Russia through Qatari mediation and with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund.  Some context: Ukraine has long said that thousands of Ukrainian children have been forcibly sent to Russian-controlled areas since Moscow's invasion.  In March last year, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia. The Russian government doesn’t deny taking Ukrainian children and has made their adoption by Russian families a centerpiece of propaganda. The first four Ukrainian pilots are scheduled to complete training on F-16 fighter jets by summer, according to the Arizona National Guard.  The pilots began training in mid-October with the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Arizona. The Pentagon said the training process would take several months to complete. A second group of another four pilots began training in January, according to Capt. Erin Hannigan, a spokeswoman for the Arizona National Guard, while a third group of four is currently going through English-language training, which is required to fly the fourth-generation US fighter jet. All of the pilots are expected to complete their training between May and August, said Hannigan, though the exact timeline depends on the progress of the program. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky requested F-16 fighters for months, believing the advanced US jets would be able to challenge Russia's aerial power over the battlefield.  Remember: Last summer, a coalition of nations led by Denmark began training Ukrainian pilots on the US jets. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have pledged to provide Ukraine with the F-16s jets after the training program. The US also committed to approving the transfer of the jets as soon as training was completed. Estonia has detained 10 suspects for “acting on behalf of a Russian special service” in connection to influence operation on its territory, its government announced Tuesday. The people arrested by the Estonian Internal Security Service include both Russian and Estonian nationals, officials said. The goal was for the Russian group to "spread fear and create tension in Estonian society,” the Estonian Internal Security Service said in a statement. Investigators suspect these people were recruited by the Russian special service to gather information and perform various actions — like vandalizing the cars of the interior minister and several monuments. Some of those arrested were recruited via social media, according to Margo Palloson, director general of the Estonian Internal Security Service. Russia has not yet responded to these claims. More context: With Russia's war in Ukraine raging in the region, the arrests in Estonia come as the tension between Tallinn and Moscow has continued to rise in recent days. Estonia joined NATO in 2004 and has been a particular target because of its substantial Russian-speaking minority — nearly 25% of the population. The Kremlin is also directly involved in shaping Russian influence operations in neighboring countries, according to Presidential Administration documents leaked last year. CNN's Jim Sciutto contributed reporting to this post. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka “an unconditional success” during his meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Kremlin on Tuesday. However, Putin said the success in Avdiivka “needs to be developed” and Russian troops have to push further, well prepared “with personnel, weapons, equipment, and ammunition.” Putin noted that he would talk to Shoigu separately about meeting the needs of the military in this area. Shoigu echoed Putin, agreeing that the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Avdiivka is “a great success for the mixed group of troops, units, formations, everyone without exception.” “For nine years, day after day, underground passages, concrete structures were made, special lines were made so that one could move without going to the surface,” Shoigu said, adding that Russian air force, army and attack aviation played a major role in capturing Avdiivka as Russia carried out “about 460 aerial strikes” daily before the withdrawal from the city. US officials had been working on a new sanctions package for Russia ahead of last week's death of Alexey Navalny, and are now supplementing them in the wake of the opposition leader's death, according to a senior US official. The package will be timed around the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and officials are coordinating with European partners on the new package, the official said. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday the new measures would be a "substantial package" that covers a wide range of elements linked to the Russian defense industrial base and sources of revenue for the Russian economy that power the country's "war machine." Sullivan described the package as "another turn of the crank" after withering Western sanctions on Moscow since the start of the Ukraine war. While those sanctions have hampered Russia's economy, they haven't deterred President Vladimir Putin from proceeding with the invasion. Existing sanctions have "isolated" Russia on the world stage, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said aboard Air Force One Tuesday. American assistance has degraded the country's military, she said. Jean-Pierre said the White House was being careful in detailing the exact parameters of the sanctions to avoid capital flight before the punishments are in place. President Joe Biden plans to confer with fellow G7 leaders on a conference call Friday timed around the anniversary of the start of the Ukraine war. ##Navalny## The White House will announce a major sanctions package against Russia on Friday, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday. The sanctions will hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for Russia's war in Ukraine — which hits the 2-year mark on Saturday — and for the death of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, he said.  Kirby also repeated calls for Congress to pass the administration’s national security supplemental, directly tying the aid for Ukraine to the legislation, which remains stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. “One of the most powerful things that we can do right now to stand up in Vladimir Putin, of course, is to again, pass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill and support Ukraine as they continue to fight bravely and defense their country,” he said. President Joe Biden previewed the upcoming announcement at the White House on Tuesday, telling reporters they’d hear more from him on the subject Friday.  "I told you we’d be announcing sanctions on Russia — we’ll have a major package announced on Friday,” Biden told reporters. Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on a call Tuesday that the new sanctions against Russia will impact a "significant range of targets that we have worked persistently and diligently to identify, to continue to impose costs for what Russia has done — for what it's done to Navalny, for what it's done to Ukraine, and for the threat that it represents to international peace and security." ##Navalny##
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