Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Russian forces are pressing ahead with their military operation in Ukraine to counter what they call a “threat” to their national security from the pro-West Ukrainian government. Kiev and Russia’s Western adversaries call the operations an “invasion”. The situation is fluid in Ukraine right now with both sides claiming victories on the battlefield. Iran Front Page brings you the latest developments on the ground live as they unfold in Ukraine.

Putin’s aide: Ukraine’s delegation heading to Gomel region in Belarus for talks With Russia

Mayor says Kyiv’s defence holding firm

Kyiv’s mayor stated there are no Russian troops in the Ukrainian capital and claims the city’s defence is holding firm against attacks from Moscow’s forces.

“Our military, law enforcement and territorial defence continue to detect and neutralise saboteurs,” Vitaly Klitschko wrote on his Telegram messaging channel

Japan to join SWIFT freeze-out of Russia

Japan will join the international effort to block some Russian banks from the global SWIFT payment system, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announces.

He tells reporters that Japan also plans to freeze assets held by Russian President Vladimir Putin and other government officials

UN estimates there are now 368,000 Ukraine refugees

Nearly 400,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled their homes since Russia’s invasion on Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on Sunday.

Ukraine lodges case against Russia in The Hague

Ukraine has lodged a complaint against Russia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to get it to halt its invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday.

“Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression,” Zelensky declared in a tweet.

“We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week,” he added.

Governor: Ukraine has restored full control of Kharkiv

More European states bar Russian plans from their airspace

A string of European countries including Germany and Finland have said they are preparing to close their airspace to Russian planes, mirroring measures already taken by other states on the continent.

Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Iceland were alongside Berlin and Helsinki as the latest to take action.

The United Kingdom, Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania, as well as Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, have also moved to shutter their airspace to Russian planes.

Russia gives Ukraine deadline for decision on talks in Belarus

Russia has given Ukrainian officials a deadline of 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) on Sunday to decide whether to meet for talks in the Belarusian city of Gomel.

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation and aide to President Vladimir Putin, told state news agency RIA Novosti they would stay until the allocated time and wait for a response.

“As soon as we receive this confirmation, we shall immediately set off to meet our counterparts in the negotiations,” Medinsky said, adding, “We stand for peace.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted he would be willing to hold talks with Russia but rejected their proposal for a meeting to be held in Belarus.

Portugal to supply military equipment to Ukraine

Portugal will send military equipment to Ukraine, including ammunition and grenades, according to the country’s defence ministry.

Lisbon is to dispatch “vests, helmets, night-vision goggles, grenades and ammunition”, the ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

“Portugal supports Ukraine, which is defending itself against an unjustified, illegal and unacceptable invasion,” Defence Minister Joao Cravinho said in a separate tweet.

Scholz says world in ‘new era’ after Russian invasion of Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated the world has entered a “new era” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We need to support Ukraine in its hour of desperate need,” Scholz told a special session of the Bundestag.

“There was no other response possible to Putin’s aggression,” he added, referring to the release of German weapons to Ukraine.

“It was [Vladimir] Putin who chose this war, not the Russian people, so we must see clearly that this is Putin’s war,” the chancellor continued.

Scholz vowed that “very soon the Russian leadership will feel what a high price they will have to pay” for the invasion of Ukraine.

UN refugee agency says over 200,000 Ukrainians have fled the country

More than 200,000 people have now fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighbouring countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

The number has risen rapidly since Moscow launched its onslaught and is expected to continue to climb quickly.

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Ukrainian official claims 4,300 Russian troops killed

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has claimed that approximately 4,300 Russian troops have been killed in fighting so far.

Hanna Malyar said in a statement the exact number was being clarified, but alleged that Ukrainian forces had also destroyed about 146 tanks, 27 aircraft and 26 helicopters.

Zelensky adviser claims military situation largely unchanged

An adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky Zelenskyy noted the military situation has not changed significantly in Ukraine, claiming the country’s armed forces are still in control of the territory west of Kyiv and Russian troops not making any advance in the south.

“The fact that a Russian delegation arrived in Gomel with a proposal to conduct peace talks from a military point of view means only one thing: they have lost the initiative and are now unable to continue active hostilities,” Oleksiy Arestovych stated, citing Russia’s push for negotiations in Belarus.

PM: Greece to send Ukraine ‘defence equipment’, aid

Greece is to send Ukraine “defence equipment” and humanitarian aid, the prime minister’s office said Sunday, after Athens accused Russia of killing 10 ethnic Greeks during its invasion of Ukraine.

UK says Russia ‘cannot negotiate with a gun to the head of the Ukrainians’

The United Kingdom’s foreign secretary has stated there can be no talks with Russia over Ukraine while Moscow has troops in its neighbour.

“Now if the Russians are serious about negotiations they need to remove their troops from Ukraine. They cannot negotiate with a gun to the head of the Ukrainians … So frankly, I don’t trust these so-called efforts of negotiation,” Liz Truss told Sky News.

Putin suspended as honorary president of International Judo Federation

Russian president Vladimir Putin has been suspended as honorary president of the International Judo Federation (IJF), the sport’s governing body announced on Sunday.

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Putin thanks Russian special forces for fulfilling their ‘heroic’ duty in Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin has thanked Russia’s special forces for their actions in Ukraine, singling out those who are “heroically fulfilling their military duty” for praise.

“Special gratitude to those who these days are heroically fulfilling their military duty in the course of a special operation to provide assistance to the people’s republics of Donbas,” Putin said in a televised address, citing the two breakaway regions – the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) – in eastern Ukraine.

MoD: Russian forces hit 975 Ukrainian military infrastructure objects

The Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 975 Ukrainian military infrastructure objects, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Sunday.

A total of 471 Ukrainian servicemen have been detained and will be sent to their families after paperwork, he added.

Lukashenko says ‘harassment of Belarusians’ in Ukraine could push Minsk toward a special op

President Alexander Lukashenko has said that “harassment of Belarusians” in Ukraine could prompt Minsk towards undertaking a “special operation”.

Lukashenko, who emphasized that there were no Belarusian soldiers or armaments in Ukraine, as Russia did not require such assistance for its “special operation” there, aimed at “protecting the people” of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics from the “genocide” waged by the Ukrainian authorities, stated that Belarusians were being caught on the territory of that country and subjected to beatings.

Such incidents trigger outrage and may prompt Minsk to launch a “special operation” to release its citizens, added Lukashenko.

Ukraine’s President calls on “citizens of world” to join in fight against Russia 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is calling for people around the world to join the fight against Russia.

In a statement on Sunday, he accused the Russian army of killing civilians and praised Ukrainians for having the courage to defend themselves.

The Ukraine’s president stated his country is ready for peace talks with Russia, but not in Belarus.

Russian delegation arrives in Belarus for potential talks

A Russian delegation has arrived in Belarus for notional talks with Ukrainian representatives, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

Peskov said the delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and other departments, including the presidential administration.

“We will be ready to start these negotiations in Gomel [Homiel],” Peskov added.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected the Kremlin’s offer to hold talks in Belarus because the country had taken Russia’s side in the fighting in Ukraine.

Zelensky noted that he wanted talks with Russia, but that the only way they could be “honest” and end the hostilities would be if they were held in a neutral country.

Footage shows Russian troops marching on Kharkiv

Street fighting broke out in the center of Kharkiv as Russian troops entered Ukraine’s second largest city, Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration said Sunday.

Synehubov urged residents of the eastern city to stay in shelters and not to travel anywhere. Russian vehicles entered the city of Kharkiv on Sunday, he added.

“The Russian enemy’s vehicles advanced into the city of Kharkiv. Including the central part of the city. Warning! Do not leave your shelters!” Governor Synyehubov said in a Facebook post Sunday, adding, “The Armed Forces of Ukraine are eliminating the enemy. Civilians are asked not to go out in the streets.”

EU countries to close their airspace for Russian planes

The European Union member states will close their airspace for Russian planes, the ARD television reported on Saturday citing own sources.

The channel did not specify when the ban will be imposed.

The following countries have already closed their airspace for Russian aircraft: the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, Lilthuania and Estonia.

UN to launch appeal to fund humanitarian operations in Ukraine

Secretary-General António Guterres has announced that the United Nations will launch an appeal to fund its humanitarian operations in Ukraine.

A UN spokesperson said Guterres spoke with Zelenskyy over the phone.

“The Secretary-General conveyed to the President the determination of the United Nations to enhance humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine,” the spokesperson added.

Russia claims to have besieged two big cities in Ukraine south and southeast

Moscow claimed its troops had “entirely” besieged the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson and the city of Berdyansk in the southeast, as the Russian army pressed ahead with the invasion of the pro-Western country.

“Over the past 24 hours, the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk have been completely blocked by the Russian armed forces,” defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Town near Ukraine’s Kyiv hit by missiles, oil terminal on fire

Russian missiles have hit the Ukrainian town of Vasylkiv southwest of the capital, Kyiv, setting an oil terminal ablaze, the town’s mayor said in a video posted online.

“The enemy wants to destroy everything around,” added the mayor, Natalia Balasinovich.

The Ukrainian government remained in control of Kyiv, the capital, as the Russian invasion entered its fourth day on Sunday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement.

“The Russian occupiers are actively using sabotage and reconnaissance groups, which are destroying civilian infrastructure and killing civilians in large cities,” the statement added.

Civilian volunteers brace for fighting in Ukraine

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Ukrainian official says Russian troops enter Kharkiv

Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the streets of Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday, regional governor Oleh Sinegubov said.

“The Russian enemy’s light vehicles have broken into Kharkiv, including the city centre,” Sinegubov stated, adding, “Ukraine’s armed forces are destroying the enemy. We ask civilians not to go out.”

UN: At least 64 civilians killed in Ukraine

The United Nations says it has confirmed at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 people killed, in the fighting in Ukraine, although it believes the “real figures are considerably higher” because many reports of casualties remain to be confirmed.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) relayed the count from the UN human rights office, which has strict verification procedures about the toll from conflict.

OCHA also added damage to civilian infrastructure has deprived hundreds of thousands of people of access to electricity or water, and produced a map of “humanitarian situations” in Ukraine – mostly in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine.

SWIFT preparing to comply with curbs on Russian banks

The SWIFT international payments system has said it was preparing to implement Western nations’ new measures targeting certain Russian banks in coming days.

“We are engaging with European authorities to understand the details of the entities that will be subject to the new measures and we are preparing to comply upon legal instruction,” it added.

Tehran says remaining Iranians in Ukraine safe

The small number of Iranian citizens remaining in Kiev are settled down in safe places, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated Saturday night.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has announced that Australia will provide funds for “lethal aid” to Ukraine’s war effort, stating “nothing is off the table” in response to the Russian invasion.

Elon Musk: SpaceX Starlink satellite internet service activated in Ukraine

Ukraine’s vice prime minister asked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to provide internet service to the country amid Russian attacks — and Musk delivered, according to a Twitter exchange between the two on Saturday.

Zelensky asks UN to strip Russia of its security council vote

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated he asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to strip Russia of its vote at the UN Security Council as punishment for invading Ukraine.

Google blocks RT, other Russian channels from earning ad dollars

Google barred Russia’s state-owned media outlet RT and other channels from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps and YouTube videos, similar to a move by Facebook.

Citing “extraordinary circumstances”, Google’s YouTube unit said it was “pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube”. These included several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions, such as those by the European Union.

Western leaders agree new Russia sanctions, including SWIFT curbs

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has said that around 3,500 Russian soldiers were killed or injured so far in Russia’s attack on Ukraine, adding that Russian troops were not advancing in their assault on the capital Kyiv.

“We are striking the enemy around Kyiv. The enemy is not moving for now,” Arestovych stated.

EU says to facilitate delivery of military aid to Ukraine

The European Union will facilitate the delivery of military aid to Ukraine, EU Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.

France to deliver more military equipment to Ukraine

Paris will send more military equipment, as well as fuel, to Ukraine to help fight off the Russian invasion and slap more economic sanctions on Moscow, the presidency said in a statement.

The new sanctions would encompass “national measures to freeze the financial assets of Russian figures”, as well as “new measures” to be taken “with European partners concerning the SWIFT” interbank system, the Elysee statement added.

EU foreign ministers to discuss Ukraine aid, measures against Moscow on Sunday

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has announced that European Union foreign ministers will come together for a virtual meeting on Sunday to adopt further measures in support of Ukraine and against “aggression by Russia”.

“I will propose a package of emergency assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, to support them in their heroic fight,” he said on Twitter, adding that the meeting would start on Sunday.

Belgium says to deploy 300 troops in Romania, send machine guns to Ukraine

Belgium will deploy 300 troops in Romania as part of NATO efforts to strengthen its eastern flank, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

Belgium will also support the Ukrainian forces with 2,000 machine guns and 3,800 tons of fuel, according to De Croo, who added that the government in Brussels was looking into further requests for help from the government in Kyiv.

Adviser to Zelensky says Russian assault on Kyiv has stalled

An adviser to Ukraine’s president has claimed that Russia’s assault on Kyiv is not advancing and that about 3,500 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured since Moscow launched its invasion.

“We are striking the enemy around Kyiv. The enemy is not moving for now,” Oleksiy Arestovych said.

YouTube blocks RT, other Russian channels from generating revenue

YouTube on Saturday suspended multiple Russian channels, including state-funded media outlet RT, from generating revenue on the video service, following a similar move by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc.

Biden says alternative to massive sanctions against Russia over Ukraine is ‘Third World War’

The alternative to sanctioning Russia to punish it for its “invasion” of Ukraine would be the start of a “Third World War,” US President Joe Biden has stated.

“You have two options. Start a Third World War, go to war with Russia, physically. Or two, make sure that the country that acts so contrary to international law ends up paying a price for having done it,” Biden said in an interview with podcaster Brian Tyler Cohen.

“There’s no sanction that is immediate. It’s not like you can sanction someone and say you no longer are gonna be able to be uh, the president of [laughs] Russia. But I think these sanctions, I know these sanctions are the broadest sanctions in history, and economic sanctions and political sanctions,” Biden added.

Czech Republic, Netherlands and Portugal will send reinforcements to assist Ukraine

Three NATO members have announced they would send reinforcements to assist Ukraine in its battle against Russia.

Germany to supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, missiles

Germany’s government has approved the delivery of a batch of weapons to Ukraine in a major policy U-turn, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz calling Russia’s invasion of the country a “turning point”.

Berlin will supply Kyiv with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles from its military’s stocks.

“The Russian invasion marks a turning point. It is our duty to support Ukraine to the best of our ability in defending against Putin’s invading army,” Scholz said on Twitter.

Monitoring site says nearly 2,700 people detained in anti-war protests in Russia since Thursday

A total of 2,692 people have been detained in anti-war protests in Russia in the last three days, according to the protest monitoring site OVD-Info.

At least 1,370 of them were detained in protests in Moscow, CNN reported.

More than 1,800 people were arrested at rallies across the country on Thursday night, after Russians protested on the streets of Moscow, St Petersburg and more than 50 other Russian cities.

Ukraine officials: Two dead, six injured in missile strike that hit apartment building

Two Kyiv residents were killed and six injured after a missile hit a high-rise apartment building early Saturday morning, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said.

Damage included a large hole ripped through the side of the building.

Chechen leader says his forces deployed to Ukraine

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has said Chechen fighters had been deployed in Ukraine, and he urged Ukrainians to overthrow their government.

In a video posted online on Saturday, Kadyrov boasted that Chechen units had so far suffered no losses and added Russian forces could easily take large Ukrainian cities including the capital, Kyiv, but their task was to avoid loss of life.

Russian MoD: Ukrainian nationalists deploy heavy weapons in residential districts

Ukrainian nationalists are effectively using civilians as human shields by deploying military hardware in residential areas, Russia’s Ministry of Defence has announced.

Moscow says NATO claims about Russia Ukraine aggression ‘groundless’

NATO has no grounds to call the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine “aggression,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stated.

“In the context of NATO countries’ inability to negotiate and their lack of desire to truly strengthen security in Europe on the basis of the principle of equal and indivisible security, we consider their attempts to accuse us of aggression to be groundless,” Zakharova said in a commentary on Friday’s extraordinary virtual summit of NATO heads of state to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

“Before calling Russia to account for its operation to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, the nations of the North Atlantic bloc should answer for their military adventurism, as well as their inaction on the matter of encouraging the regime in Kiev to peacefully resolve the Donbass problem,” the spokeswoman added.

Pentagon: Most of Russia’s forces entered Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has more than 50% “of his total assembled power now committed inside Ukraine”, a senior US defense official told reporters Saturday.

The official added the 50% consists of “largely combat power.”

There have been “more than 250” missile launches by Russians at Ukraine as of this morning, the official said.

As of this morning, the US has “no indication” that the Russian military has “taken control over any cities,” the official added.

There have been “intermittent” power outages in Ukraine, but the internet is still “generally available,” the official continued.

The speed of the Russian advance on Ukraine has temporarily slowed “likely due to acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance,” according to the British Ministry of Defence.

Russian army ordered to broaden ‘Ukraine advance’

The Russian army has been given orders to broaden its offensive in Ukraine “from all directions” after Kyiv refused to hold talks in Belarus, the country’s defence ministry announced.

“After the Ukrainian side rejected the negotiation process, today all units were given orders to develop the advance from all directions in accordance with the operation’s plans,” Russian army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Twitter confirms being restricted in Russia

Twitter has said it is aware its service is being restricted for some people in Russia, adding it is working to keep the site safe and accessible.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks reported that the social media platform had been restricted on leading networks.

The throttling came after Moscow said on Friday that it was partially limiting access to Facebook, accusing it of “censoring” Russian media. It was not immediately clear what Russia’s restrictions on Facebook would involve.

4 more countries ban Russian airlines

Estonia, Romania, Lithuania and Latvia will ban Russian airlines from their airspace, the countries announced Saturday.

The UK, Poland, Moldova and the Czech Republic all previously closed their airspace to Russian airlines following its attack on Ukraine.

Several countries say they would back Swift Russia ban

More EU countries – including France, Italy and Greece – have said they would back a ban on Russia using the Swift global payments network in a bid to pile further pressure on the country after its invasion of Ukraine.

Cyprus and Hungary also said they would support such a measure.

US President Joe Biden is seriously weighing whether to remove Russia from SWIFT, but has yet to make a final decision, according to multiple people familiar with his thinking.

German business body: Nord Stream 2 likely done for in long run

As a number of world powers moved to impose sanctions on Russia amid the ongoing military operation in Ukraine conducted by Russian armed forces, Michael Harms, executive director of the German Eastern Business Association, made a grim prediction about the fate of Nord Sream 2. The recently completed pipeline had been slated to be used to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany.

During an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, Harms suggested that the issue with the pipeline is essentially closed.

UK PM calls for end to Russian involvement in SWIFT

British prime minister Boris Johnson has called for an end to Russia’s involvement in SWIFT, the secure messaging service that facilitates payments among 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries, in an act of support towards Ukraine.

Anonymous claims responsibility for “ongoing” hacking of Russia govt. sites

Some Russian government websites continued to be down on Saturday. The websites that are dark notably include the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defence.

The exact reasons for the outages are not immediately clear, but the international hacking group Anonymous has claimed that it is attacking the sites.

Czech Republic and Sweden refuse to play World Cup play-offs with Russia

Sweden has become the latest country to refuse to play Russia in men’s football World Cup playoff games later this year.

The Swedish FA announced it should cancel the playoff games, which are scheduled for March.

The Czech Republic are the other team due to be involved in the “path B” fixtures to decide which nation will be able to play in the Qatar World Cup later this year.

Chinese banks limit financing for Russian purchases

China’s largest public financial institutions are reportedly limiting financing to purchase raw materials from Russia under the threat of sanctions from the US and allies over the military operation in Ukraine.

The step, which might only be temporary, was taken by at least two of China’s largest state-controlled banks, ICBC and Bank of China, which are at major risk of secondary sanctions from Washington, Bloomberg news agency reported on Saturday, citing unidentified sources.

Ukraine denies it refused negotiations with Russia

Head of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, Mikhail Podolyak, said it was untrue and that Russia had set out “unacceptable conditions [and] ultimatum demands”.

On Saturday, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov claimed that the Russian president ordered a halt to the Russian advance for negotiations, but Ukraine refused them.

“Ukraine, of course, did not refuse negotiations. But precisely from negotiations, which, by the way, have not happened yet. Ukraine and president Zelensky categorically renounces any unacceptable conditions or ultimatum demands from the Russian side,” Podolyak stated.

Ukraine: Turkey to ban Russian warships from Black Sea

Turkey will stop Russian warships from passing through the Black Sea, according to the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a tweet, Zelensky stated the country had pledged military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.

Turkey will stop warships passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, Zelensky suggested.

There’s some confusion about the Ukrainian president’s claim that Ankara had pledged to close the straits to access the Black Sea.

Russia, via the Interfax news agency, has announced it has had no official notification of the closure. There is speculation that Zelenskiy’s tweet may have been a request for Turkey to take action, rather than a confirmation that it would be in place.

Later, Turkey announced it is yet to make a decision on closing its straits between the Mediterannean and the Black Sea to the Russian navy.

According to Reuters, a Turkish official noted it “has not made a decision to close the straits to Russian ships”.

If it did happen, a closure would break a convention for Black Sea states that warships are allowed to return to port during wartime.

Ukrainian forces fight back as Russia pushes on three cities

Ukraine’s defense forces, outmanned and outgunned, waged a ferocious resistance to the Russian invasion on Saturday, battling to keep control of the capital, Kyiv, and other cities.

There was intense street fighting, and bursts of gunfire and explosions could be heard across Kyiv.

Most of the more than 150,000 Russian forces massed against Ukraine are now fighting in the country, but those troops are “increasingly frustrated by their lack of momentum” as they face stiff Ukrainian resistance, especially in the country’s north, a senior Pentagon official claimed on Saturday.

The United States announced on Friday that one-third of Russia’s combat power was fighting in Ukraine.

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Ukraine’s army tells civilians to build barricades, use petrol bombs to stop Russian forces

Ukraine’s army has called on the country’s civilians to stop the advance of Russian troops by any means necessary.

“Cut down trees, build barricades, burn tyres … Use everything available” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The statement also encouraged Ukrainians to assemble and use petrol bombs against Moscow’s forces.

“The occupiers must understand that they are not wanted here and that they will be resisted in every street,” it added.

Washington announces $350mn in new US military aid to Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday that the United States would send up to an additional $350 million in military aid to Ukraine’s defense, bringing the total to more than $1 billion in security funding over the last year.

Blinken added Washington would provide “lethal defensive assistance to help Ukraine address the armored, airborne and other threats it is now facing.”

British forces arrive in eastern Europe to bolster NATO’s eastern flank

Royal Navy ships, British Army troops and Royal Air Force fighters have been deployed.

HMS Trent is in the eastern Mediterranean, according to the Ministry of Defense (MoD), with helicopters and patrol aircraft. HMS Diamond, a destroyer, will join from Portsmouth.

Tanks and armoured units from the Royal Welsh have arrived in Estonia from Germany, with 1,000 troops arriving in the next few days. This means the British presence will double.

Arrangements made to fly Iranian nationals in Ukraine back home

Iran’s ambassador to Kiev Manouchehr Moradi stated arrangements have been made through the good offices of Tehran to facilitate the return home of Iranian nationals residing in Ukraine.

Kremlin: Russia paused military op for talks, but Ukraine rejected negotiations

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a temporary halt to the Russian military operation in Ukraine on Friday afternoon in connection with the expectation of negotiations with Kiev, but the operation was resumed Saturday afternoon after the Ukrainian leadership refused to talk, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.

UN: +120,000 Ukrainian refugees fled

The United Nations’ Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly Clements, told CNN that up to 4 million people could try to cross borders as the crisis in Ukraine continues.

Speaking to CNN’s Michael Holmes on Saturday morning from the Swiss capital Geneva, Clements said people were having to make “life or death decisions”, with 850,000 people internally displaced while over 120,000 people had fled Ukraine.

“We’ve had a humanitarian crisis in the country for the last eight years and it’s just become a whole lot worse. In addition to those 850,000 internally displaced primarily in the east, we know that over 100,000 people are already on the move,” Clements added.

UNHCR’s representative in Ukraine has also warned the displacement of more than 150,000 people in the country marks “just the beginning” of a looming humanitarian crisis.

“People are fleeing from eastern, southern and northern Ukraine towards the centre and west of the country … they are on the road and on trains,” Karolina Lindholm Billing told Al Jazeera from Kyiv.

“It’s very difficult to get evidence of how many people have been internally displaced, but we estimate that it is at least 160,000,” she added, saying, “The human suffering is going to be enormous.”

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Russia claims Ukraine president fled Kiev for Lvov

Russian State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Saturday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had left Kiev for Lvov.

Kyiv Mayor imposes stricter curfew

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has imposed a stricter curfew in the Ukrainian capital as Russian troops press in on the city.

The measure will now extend from 5pm until 8am local time, Klitschko announced on the Telegram messaging service.

“All civilians on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance groups,” he noted.

The curfew imposed two days ago previously lasted from 10pm until 7am local time.

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

Zelensky: Ukraine has withstood and repelled attacks

In his latest video message on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians, “We have withstood and successfully repelled enemy attacks. Fighting continues in different cities and regions of our country.”

Zelensky said the capital Kyiv and key towns around it were still under the control of the army.

“We have ruined their plans. they have no advantage over us,” he added.

Zelensky stated Ukraine now had “almost full support of the members of the EU to exclude Russia from SWIFT” — the international payments system that has been at the heart of a debate about sanctions against Russia.

“I hope that Germany and Hungary will have enough courage to support this decision,” he continued.

France seizes Russian-flagged cargo ship

French sea police seized a ship on Saturday that authorities suspect belongs to a Russian company targeted by European Union sanctions over the war in Ukraine, a government official told Reuters.

The cargo vessel transporting cars, which was headed for St. Petersburg, is “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by the sanctions”, stated Captain Veronique Magnin of the French Maritime Prefecture.

A spokesperson for the French Channel Prefecture told CNN French authorities seized the commercial ship in the English Channel.

Japanese-owned cargo ship hit by missile off Ukraine

A missile hit a Japanese cargo ship called the Namura Queen, as it was docked off the coast of Ukraine, injuring a crew member and damaging the vessel, the ship’s owner said.

The shipping company, Nissen Kaiun, added the ship was docked in the port at Odessa to load grain when it was hit, but it is now headed to Turkey so that officials can check its condition.

Ex-President: Russia could cut diplomatic ties with West

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated Moscow could cut diplomatic ties with the West.

In posts on social media, he said it was time to “padlock the embassies” and that Moscow would continue its campaign in Ukraine.

He added that the suspension of Russia’s council of Europe membership could mean Russia may bring back the death penalty.

Moscow warns local media over Ukraine war coverage

Russia’s communications regulator accused 10 local media outlets of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special military operation in Ukraine and distributing false information about events there.

Internet in Ukraine disrupted

Internet coverage in Ukraine has been affected by the Russian invasion, with connectivity problems reported in the south and east of the country.

Lithuania says West moves closer to cutting Russia’s SWIFT access

Western partners are moving closer to halting Russia’s access to the SWIFT global interbank payments system, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte noted on Saturday.

Canada, the United States, Britain and the European Union on Friday announced they could act to exclude Russia from SWIFT in a further round of sanctions.

Poland will not play World Cup match with Russia

Poland will not play a men’s World Cup qualifier football match against Russia next month because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the president of Poland’s Football Association, Cezary Kulesza.

Zelensky: Crucial moment has come to decide on Ukraine’s membership in EU

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for his country to be admitted to the European Union.
“It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine’s membership in the EU,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.
Zelenskyy stated he had discussed “further effective assistance” as well as “the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future” with European Council President Charles Michel.

Ukraine says almost 200 civilians killed in Russian attacks

The Ukrainian Health Ministry claimed on Saturday that 198 people had been killed, including three children, and 1,115 wounded, including 33 children.

Service suspended on Kyiv’s subway system

Service has been suspended on Kyiv’s subway system, and the stations will now serve only as bomb shelters, Mayor Vitali Klitschko stated.

Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine

  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused a US offer to help him leave Kyiv ahead of a Russian takeover.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a full isolation of Russia, including an embargo on the purchase of Russian crude.
    “I demand the world: fully isolate Russia, expel ambassadors, oil embargo, ruin its economy,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
  • Russia has crippled the operations of more than 800 Ukrainian military infrastructure sites so far, the defense ministry in Moscow said.
    Defense Ministry Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov stated 14 military airfields, 19 command posts, 24 S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems and 48 radar stations were destroyed. In addition, eight Ukrainian naval boats were hit, he added.
  • The Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday it launched cruise missile strikes overnight against targets in Ukraine — but claimed it exclusively targeted military infrastructure.
    “During the night, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation launched a strike with long-range precision weapons using air- and sea-launched cruise missiles against Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities,” Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stated.
    “I emphasize once again that the fire is directed only on the objects of the military infrastructure of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, excluding damage to residential and social infrastructure,” he added.
  • The mayor of the Ukrainian capital said a missile hit an apartment building but no casualties were immediately reported.
    Vitali Klitschko stated the missile slammed into a high-rise building on the southwestern outskirts of Kyiv near Zhuliany airport. He added rescue workers were heading there.
  • Myhailo Podoliak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said early Saturday that Russian forces had tried to “bring the maximum amount of equipment into the city of Kyiv.”
    But, he stated, “Currently, the situation in the suburbs and the surrounding area is under control.”
    Speaking on Ukrainian television, he noted there were “separate sabotage and reconnaissance groups” in the city, but that police and territorial self-defense units “are actively working against them.”

  • The Ukrainian president recorded a video address outside his presidential office in Kyiv urging residents not to believe in “fakes” about the surrender of the Ukrainian Army.
    “I am here. We will not put down any weapons. We will defend our state, because our weapons are our truth,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated, denouncing as disinformation claims that he had surrendered or fled.
  • The Russian armed forces have established full control over the Ukrainian city of Melitopol in the south of the country, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov claimed.
  • The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has warned civilians in the capital Kyiv that fighting is taking place on the streets.
  • Ukraine’s military command reported areas near the cities of Sumy, Poltava and Mariupol were hit by air raids, with Russian Kalibr cruise missiles launched at the country from the Black Sea.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces have clashed on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, as authorities urged citizens to help defend the city from advancing Russian forces.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on soldiers in Russia’s war on Ukraine to “return to their barracks”.
    “We must never give up. We must give peace another chance,” he told reporters after Moscow vetoed a UN resolution condemning its “aggression” in Ukraine.
  • Russian troops attacked an army base in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv but the assault was repelled, the Ukrainian military has announced.
    Separately, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported Russian soldiers were trying to capture one of the city’s electricity generating stations.
  • Australia seeks to join others in imposing direct sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and has extended its punitive financial measures to members of Russia’s parliament and more oligarchs, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said.
    “It is an exceptional step to sanction leaders, but this is an exceptional situation,” Payne stated at a press conference, adding that the government is seeking advice on how to follow other nations in the move.
    “Vladimir Putin has unparalleled personal power over his country and he has chosen to go to war against a neighbour that posed no threat to Russia, because he wants to reverse history and take away the freedom and the democracy that the Ukrainian people chose for themselves,” Payne added.
    In its new sanctions, Payne noted Australia will target 339 members of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament and eight more oligarchs. The new measures follow a series of Australian sanctions announced earlier in the week.
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Ukraine has requested emergency funding.
  • A political analyst warns that Russia’s “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty” will promote separatism and extremist nationalism in the region, urging Iran to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity despite close relations with Moscow.
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that Russian troops would attempt to take the capital city, Kyiv, during the night.
    “I have to say absolutely openly. This night will be more difficult than the day. Many cities of our state are under attack,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the nation.
    “Special attention on Kyiv – we cannot lose the capital,” he added in the clip released by the presidency.
  • After a number of blasts Friday night and early Saturday in and around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the city has had a lull for the last 45 minutes.
  • The mayor of the town of Vasilkiv, about 35 kilometers (21.75 miles) south of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, said fierce fighting is now taking place in the middle of the town.
    “It is completely occupied with fighting,” said Mayor Natalia Balasynovich, speaking on the Ukrainian parliament channel early Saturday.
    She added that there were losses on the Ukrainian side — “many wounded, unfortunately, they are in the 200s.”

  • United States President Joe Biden has instructed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to release up to $350 million in immediate support to Ukraine’s security and defense, according to a new memo released by the White House late Friday.
  • Ukraine and Russia are discussing a place and time for talks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s spokesman said on social media on Friday.
    “Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace,” spokesman Sergii Nykyforov added, refuting claims that Kyiv refused to negotiate with Moscow.
  • The imposition of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reflect the West’s “absolute impotence” when it comes to foreign policy, RIA news agency has cited Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
  • Frequent artillery blasts could be heard in Kyiv, coming from an unspecified location some distance from the city centre, the Reuters news agency reported.
  • Russia has used its veto power to block a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine.
    The vote was 11 in favor, one against, and three abstentions. China, which has declined to criticize Russia’s attack, was among the abstentions at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City on Friday.

  • The US is “going to provide additional security assistance” to Ukraine, but “how it will be done is still being worked out,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby stated Friday.
    “We’re very actively engaged in those efforts, to help them better defend themselves through both lethal and non-lethal assistance,” Kirby said during a press briefing at the Pentagon.
    He added that he hasn’t detailed every shipment of aid to Ukraine that the US has made because of the security situation.
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Russian forces are closing in on Kyiv, advancing on the capital from the north and the east.

    “This night will be very difficult, and the enemy will use all available forces to break the resistance of Ukrainians,” he warned.
    Zelensky advised that “we have to stand ground,” adding, “the fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.”

  • Washington has announced Kyiv falling is a real possibility.
  • Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a set of sanctions on Russia, which include imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, his chief of staff, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
    “Additionally, I am confirming Canada’s support to remove Russia from the SWIFT payment system, a critical part of the global banking system,” he stated.
    Excluding Russian banks from SWIFT, a high security network that connect thousands of financial institutions around the world, “would make it even more difficult for President Putin to finance his brutalities,” according to Trudeau.
  • White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki has said the US government plans to impose sanctions on President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
  • US President Joe Biden has said after speaking with leaders of NATO nations, that the military alliance would maintain its “Open Door” policy to European states who share its values and may someday seek to join.
  • The EU could exclude Russia from the SWIFT global interbank payments system in a fresh round of sanctions, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has said.
  • As many Russian soldiers will die in Ukraine as during the two Chechen wars, Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has warned.
    “Thousands. Thousands,” Reznikov said, calling on Russians to take to the streets and demand an end to the war.
    “Hide your loved ones if they are dear to you. Don’t send them to certain death! They will be killed from every window in every Ukrainian city,” he pleaded.
  • Ukrainian employees of the US Embassy in Kyiv say they feel abandoned by the American government and left with neither support nor a means of escape as the Russian military continues its invasion of Ukraine.
    The locally employed staff sent a letter to US State Department officials pleading for help, including evacuation from fighting zones, relocation, visas to the United States, and clear lines of communication with the State Department in Washington, as fighting intensifies across Ukraine.
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held talks with Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok about the situation of Iranians living in Ukraine.
    The Slovakian FM stated Iranians residing in Ukraine, can enter Slovakian territory visa free and then travel home.
  • The Russian assault on Ukraine was more brutal on Friday but Moscow’s forces did not advance as planned and Ukrainian officials are gathering evidence for possible war crimes prosecution, Ukrainian Ambassador to Washington Oksana Markarova said.
  • The United States is planning to impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin as soon as Friday, according to two sources familiar with the decision.
    Additional Russian officials are likely to be included, one of the sources noted.

  • A resolution calling to kick Russia off the UN Security Council for its invasion of Ukraine is circulating among US Congress members from both parties, Axios reported.
  • Iran’s ambassador to Ukraine has paid a visit to the shelter where a group of Iranian students are taking refuge in the capital, Kiev, which is bracing for clashes with Russian military forces.
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • The mayor of Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv Vitali Klitchko has said five blasts were heard in a close interval of three to five minutes near a power station in the north of the city. He added Russian troops were “very close to the capital” and predicted “a difficult night” for the city.
  • People continue to gather in the main train station in Kyiv in an effort to get out of town as Russian troops enter the outskirts of the capital.
  • The European Union has agreed to place Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on its list of sanctioned individuals, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief.
    “Let me flag that the only leaders in the world that are sanctioned by the European Union are [Bashar] Assad from Syria, [Alexander] Lukashenko from Belarus and now Putin from Russia,” Josep Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
  • Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with US President Joe Biden, saying on Twitter that the leaders discussed “strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance, and an anti-war coalition.”
  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted he will introduce sanctions against President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. At a NATO meeting he also urged other leaders to exclude Russia from the SWIFT payment system.
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated Moscow’s goal is “to change the government of Ukraine”.
    “It is still a fluid situation. What we have seen is that the Ukrainian forces are fighting bravely and are actually able to inflict damage on the invading Russian forces,” Stoltenberg told reporters at the military alliance’s headquarters in Brussels after a video summit with its leaders.
  • NATO said that it is making “significant additional defensive deployments of forces” to the eastern part of the alliance, noting that while “deterrence and defense” measures are being deployed, NATO’s actions remain “preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory.”
    “We have deployed defensive land and air forces in the eastern part of the Alliance, and maritime assets across the NATO area,” according to a statement released Friday.
    “We have activated NATO’s defence plans to prepare ourselves to respond to a range of contingencies and secure Alliance territory, including by drawing on our response forces,” the statement added.
    “We will continue to take all measures and decisions required to ensure the security and defense of all Allies,” the statement read, adding “we stand united to protect and defend all Allies. Freedom will always win over oppression.”
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • The Russian military claimed it had seized a large cache of Western-supplied weapons inside of Ukraine.
  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy has appeared in a video being shared on social media which shows the Ukrainian president donning a military uniform.
    “We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine,” he says in the clip.
  • The human rights organization Amnesty International blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offensive in Ukraine, calling on Russian forces to cease “indiscriminate attacks” on a democratic country.
    “The Russian troops should immediately stop carrying out indiscriminate attacks in violation of the laws of war. The continuation of the use of ballistic missiles and other inaccurate explosive weapons causing civilian deaths and injuries is inexcusable,” the organization said.
    Amnesty added that Russia’s attacks might constitute war crimes.

  • The Iranian foreign minister, in a phone conversation with his Russia counterpart Sergei Lavrov, has called of a political solution to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
    The Iranian foreign minister also emphasized that ensuring the security and health of Iranian citizens living in Ukraine is Iran’s serious priority and “we expect the conditions for their safe exit to be provided”.
  • The European Union is planning a third package of sanctions against Moscow, EU officials announced on Friday.
    Envoys of the EU’s 27 member states agreed to freeze any European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, adding to a slew of sanctions backed by the leaders at an emergency summit on Thursday night.
  • More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country in less than 48 hours, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who said the majority have gone to Poland and Moldova.
    “More than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled their country in less than 48 hours – a majority to Poland and Moldova – and many more are moving towards its borders,” Grandi wrote on Twitter.
    “Heartfelt thanks to the governments and people of countries keeping their borders open and welcoming refugees,” Grandi added.
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • Russia has “about a third of their combat power” in Ukraine out of the total amassed for invasion on Ukraine’s borders right now, a senior US defense official stated.
    Russian forces moving toward Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv are “meeting more resistance than they expected”, the official noted.
  • The US has observed at least 200 total missile launches since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters.
    The missiles being launched are a mix of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, the official said. The missiles are primarily being launched from ground and air, the official added.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has called on his US counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken to urge “hesitant European” leaders to ban Russia from SWIFT, a high-security messaging network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world.
    The United States and European Union have so far held back from cutting Russia off from SWIFT after failing to agree on a step that some have called the “nuclear option.”
  • Ukraine’s capital has entered a “defense phase,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, adding that “shots and explosions” had been heard in parts of the capital.
    “Ukrainian military is neutralizing the sabotage groups of Russians,” he continued.
    “The Ukrainian Army holds defense around Kyiv. The situation is complicated. But we believe in our armed forces. We support them and help everybody,” he stated.
  • Russia has been suspended from the Council of Europe, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has claimed.
    “The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which Italy holds the presidency, has taken the decision to exclude the Russian Federation from its membership,” Di Maio said in a statement.
    “Italy considers this to be a necessary measure in light of Russia’s unacceptable military aggression against Ukraine, which constitutes a serious violation of international law,” he added.Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • President Vladimir Putin said during a Russian Security Council meeting Ukraine’s Armed Forces should “take power” in the country and negotiate peace with Moscow.
    He also accused the Kiev government and “neo-Nazis” of using civilians as “human shields” amid Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.
    Putin added the Ukrainian military must not allow their government to use their “children, wives and loved ones as human shields” – tactics he insisted Kiev was using during Moscow’s military operation.
  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has told lawmakers that the Pentagon was considering ways to train Ukrainian forces remotely if Russia seized control of Ukraine.
    Austin told House members that officials were looking to provide more equipment to Ukrainian troops. However, doing so is harder with Russian troops fighting in the country, officials on the call told Axios.
  • The United Nations refugee agency is warning that the war between Russia and Ukraine could lead 5 million Ukrainians to flee the country.
  • Ukrainian forces have targeted a Russian airfield near the border, local reports and geolocated social media video and images show, The Hill reported.
  • The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council has reacted to the conflict in Ukraine saying “Nothing is more disgusting than war.”
    Ali Shamkhani added in a tweet, “When the West seeks to deal a blow to the national security of countries, it is directly responsible for conflicts and crises that break out in order to confront the West’s strategy.”
  • Ukrainian military vehicles are entering the country’s capital Kyiv to defend it against approaching Russian troops, according to the Ukraine’s interior ministry.
  • Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has claimed that approximately 2,800 Russian troops have been killed in fighting so far.
    Ukrainian forces had also destroyed about 80 Russian tanks, 516 armoured combat vehicles, 10 aircraft and seven helicopters, Hanna Malyar has claimed.
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decided to relocate the venue of the 2022 Champions League final match in May from Russia’s St. Petersburg to the French capital of Paris, the press office of the European governing football body announced in a statement.
  • Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to send a delegation of high-ranking officials to Minsk to hold talks with Kiev.
    “In response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request we’re ready to send representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry and presidential administration for negotiations”, he added.
    In a new video message, Zelensky had called for direct talks with Putin.
  • The EU is preparing to freeze the assets of Russian President and Foreign Minister Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov under a new sanctions package, according to four people familiar with the matter.
    Foreign ministers hope to approve the sanctions package on Friday, along with a number of measures against Russian banks and industry, the people said.
    Putin and Lavrov will not be subject to a ban on travelling under the measures, underlining the EU’s willingness to keep symbolic diplomatic possibilities open.
    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also urged Kyiv’s European allies to act more quickly and forcefully in imposing sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine, accusing the continent’s leaders of politicking as Russia’s forces advance on Kyiv.Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • The Russia’s Defence Ministry has claimed its forces have captured the strategic Hostomel airfield, situated just 7 kilometers (4 miles) northwest of Kyiv, and landed paratroopers in the area.
    It added troops had blocked access to Kyiv from the west, and Moscow-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine had attacked Ukrainian army positions with Russian support.
  • The Ukrainian Defence Ministry announced Russian forces had entered the Obolon district of Kyiv, about six miles from the centre of the city.
    It advised residents to report the movements of Russian troops and to “prepare molotov cocktails in order to neutralise the enemy”.
    The Ukrainian military added that Russian spies and saboteurs had been spotted within the city, some 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the city center.
  • Some 18,000 guns with ammunition have been distributed to reservists in the Kyiv region alone and all men from 18-60 are banned from leaving Ukraine.
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held a phone conversation with his Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szijjártó, about the crisis in Ukraine and the situation of Iranian nationals in Ukraine seeking to return home.
    Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s concerns over the measures taken by the US-led NATO military alliance, which fueled the crisis in Eastern Europe, and called for a political solution to the conflict. Szijjártó also expressed deep worries over the Russian military campaign and stressed the need for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict.
  • The UN is “gravely concerned” about the situation in Ukraine, and is receiving increasing reports of civilian casualties, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani stated.
    “Civilians are terrified of further escalation, with many attempting to flee their homes and others taking shelter where possible,” Shamdasani said, adding that “the military action by the Russian Federation clearly violates international law. It puts at risk countless lives and it must be immediately halted.”Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • The international criminal court (ICC) has announced it might investigate possible war crimes, though did not provide any further details.
  • Moscow has confirmed the Russian forces have seized full control of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant after fierce battles with the Ukrainian troops.
  • In his video message to the Ukrainian people early Friday morning, President Volodymyr Zelensky said “sooner or later, Russia will have to talk to us about ending this military operation, about ending this invasion, and the sooner this conversation begins, the less Russia’s losses will be.”
    Striking a defiant note even as Russian forces advance on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, Zelensky stated, “We are on our land, we have the truth, they cannot destroy our character. Russian ‘Kalibr’ missiles are helpless against our freedom.”
  • The Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has claimed Russia attacked 33 civilian sites over the last 24 hours, according to Interfax news agency.
    President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that 137 Ukrainians had been killed so far and 316 injured, as Russian troops embarked on the biggest attack by one country on another in Europe since the Second World War.
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed continued Russian aggression against his country showed that sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West were not enough.
    The Ukrainian president added the world was continuing to observe what was going on in Ukraine from afar.
    Zelensky has said Ukraine has been “left alone” to defend against the Russian invasion.
    Live coverage: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine
  • Several thousand Ukrainians have crossed into neighbouring countries, mainly Moldova and Romania, while an estimated 100,000 have fled their homes and are uprooted in the country after Russia’s invasion, the U.N. refugee agency has confirmed.
  • The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could unleash death and destruction on a scale that is “frightening to contemplate”.
    “I fear increased suffering, with the potential of massive casualty numbers and extensive destruction of civilian objects like water and electricity plants, as well as mass displacement, trauma, family separation, and missing persons,” Peter Maurer said in a statement.
    “The ICRC has seen many conflicts start and escalate in recent years, but too few of them end, and in each one, it is the civilian populations that bear the consequences,” he added.
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