Monday, June 17, 2024

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 11

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.

Iran’s Raisi: Ukrainian people falling victim to US policies

President Ebrahim Raisi reaffirms Iran’s firm opposition to war and says the people in Ukraine, which has been the scene of a Russian military campaign, have in fact fallen victim to the “evil” policies of the United States.

Iranian actor returns Russian award in protest at Ukraine war

Iranian actor Hamid Farrokhnezhad has returned an award he was granted at a 2005 film event in Moscow for his role in an anti-war movie to protest Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine.

US & Europe weigh plans for Ukrainian government in exile

US and European officials have been discussing how the West would support a government-in-exile helmed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky should he have to flee Kyiv, western officials tell CNN.

The discussions have ranged from supporting Zelensky and top Ukrainian officials in a potential move to Lviv in western Ukraine, to the possibility that Zelensky and his aides are forced to flee Ukraine altogether and establish a new government in Poland, the officials said.

The discussions are only preliminary and no decisions have been made, the sources added.

Russia detains at least 4,357 people on Sunday during protests

At least 4,357 people have been detained during protests in Russia on Sunday, OVD-Info, an independent monitoring group that tracks detentions in Russia reports.

People have been detained in 56 cities according to OVD-Info.

Ukraine’s top diplomat says “all western companies must withdraw from Russia”

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has told CNN that “all western companies must withdraw from Russia” on humanitarian grounds.

Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, the foreign minister said that it is “simply against basic principles of morale to continue working in Russia and making money there. This money is soaked with Ukrainian blood”.

After receiving criticism from Kuleba for continuing to buy crude oil from Russia, energy company Shell had announced that they “will commit profits from the limited amount of Russian oil we have to purchase to a dedicated fund… to alleviate the terrible consequences that this war is having on the people of Ukraine”.

When asked about this by Zakaria, Kuleba stated that all energy companies need to “stop buying Russian oil. This goes not only to Shell but also to other companies. Some tough measures were imposed on Russia, but we all know that the biggest revenues come from trade in oil and gas”.

“Today, Russian oil and gas smells with Ukrainian blood,” Kuleba added.

Kuleba also reserved criticism for Coca-Cola and McDonalds as two multinational companies that continue to do business in Russia.

“We were upset to hear companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s remain in Russia and continue providing their products,” he noted.

Battles ongoing on Kyiv’s outskirts

Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in a long-range shelling war along the outskirts of the capital Kyiv, putting towns including Hostomel and Irpin in the line of fire.

Several buildings in Hostomel were on fire after being hit by air strikes. Both Russian and Ukrainian forces claim to control the area.

In the nearby town of Irpin, residents fled their homes after buildings were severely damaged. Civilians tried to get to the remains of a bridge leading to Kyiv over the Irpin River, which Ukrainian forces blew up last week to stall the Russian advance.

IAEA alarmed over Russia’s takeover of nuclear plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been informed by Ukrainian authorities that the country’s largest nuclear plant is under the command of Russian forces, which took control of the site on Friday.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that while regular staff continued to operate the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the developments violated the safety “pillars” governing the management of nuclear sites.

Grossi stated operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure.

He added that Ukraine reported Russian forces had switched off some mobile networks and the internet so that reliable information from the site could not be obtained through the normal channels of communication.

UN calls for pause in fighting in Ukraine for civilians to leave cities

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Sunday urged for a ceasefire in Ukraine so that civilians could safely evacuate from cities and humanitarian aid could reach those remaining there.

“It is absolutely essential to establish a pause in the fighting in Ukraine to allow for the safe passage of civilians from Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy, as well as all other places caught in conflict, and to ensure life-saving humanitarian supplies can move in for those who remain,” Guterres tweeted.

Blinken: Europe mulling bans on Russian oil imports  

The US announced it was in “active discussions” with European nations about banning Russian oil imports as a further economic penalty against Moscow for invading Ukraine, but stopped short of announcing an outright boycott.

“We are now in very active discussions with our European partners about banning the import of Russian oil to our countries, while of course at the same time maintaining a steady global supply of oil,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC.

“The actions we’ve taken to date have already had a devastating impact on the Russian economy,” he added, referring to sanctions that have economically isolated Russia.

With Western nations mulling the prospect of a boycott, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba waded into the debate to strongly call for a ban on such imports, saying Russian oil “smells of Ukrainian blood”.

Zelensky ready for direct talks with Putin

Andrey Sibiga, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, announced that Volodymyr Zelensky is ready for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His statement came soon after Zelensky told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan that he was ready to meet with the Russian president in the Turkish cities of Istanbul or Ankara.

US: Ukrainians have “continuity of government” plan if Zelensky is killed

Ukrainians have a plan for “continuity of government one way or another,” if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is killed, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“The Ukrainians have plans in place that I’m not going to talk about or get into any detail about to make sure that there is continuity of government one way or another, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Blinken added.

Blinken also complimented Zelensky for his “leadership” through this crisis.

“The leadership that President Zelensky has shown, the entire government has shown is remarkable, they’ve been the embodiment of these incredibly brave Ukrainian people,” Blinken stated.

Johnson spoke with Zelensky on need to provide further defensive equipment to Ukrainian forces

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Sunday on the need to provide further defensive equipment to Ukrainian forces.

“The leaders discussed the urgent needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Prime Minister undertook to work with partners to provide further defensive equipment,” according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Zelensky and Johnson also discussed the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in the country.

Johnson “outlined what the UK is doing, both to provide humanitarian support and impose economic costs on Russia which strike at the heart of Putin’s war machine. This includes calling on other countries to take further action to remove Russia from SWIFT”, the spokesperson added.

“The leaders discussed the increasing threat Russia’s barbaric attacks pose to Ukrainian civilians and the Prime Minister underlined the UK’s determination to ensure Putin fails,” the spokesperson continued.

The two leaders agreed to continue speaking, the spokesperson said.

Macron raised “grave concern” about nuclear safety with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron has voiced his “grave concern” about nuclear safety during a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

A readout from the French Presidential Palace says Macron told Putin it was imperative concrete steps should be taken to address nuclear safety, security and safeguards.

“He (Macron) stressed the absolute necessity to avoid any damage to the integrity of Ukrainian civilian nuclear facilities, whose safety and security must be guaranteed in accordance with the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the proposals of its Director General. The Russian President has agreed that the IAEA should begin work in this area without delay,” it added.

The readout continued, “The (French) President also called for respect for international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and the delivery of aid. He reiterated the importance of a negotiated solution, fully acceptable to the Ukrainians.”

“Finally, the President of the Republic took advantage of this exchange to relay his concern about an imminent attack on the city of Odessa,” according to the Elysee.

Kyiv Regional Military Administration appeals for international help in coping with humanitarian crisis

The Kyiv Regional Military Administration has appealed to international organizations for help in resolving a growing humanitarian crisis in the region.

“Thousands of people found themselves in isolation, because of direct hostilities, and in some places for 5-6 days they survive without electricity, water, food, medical help and means of subsistence. They are in direct danger,” the administration said.

“We ask for a humanitarian corridor to help people affected by the warfare. For the sake of people’s lives and health, to ensure the immediate delivery of medical and food aid to those residents of Kyiv region who need it. And to ensure the evacuation of civilians,” the administration added.

It continued, “The most difficult situation is on the territory from Borodyanka to Hostomel, it is worse than in Mariupol.”

Borodyanka and Hostomel, to the north of Kyiv, have seen intense shelling by Russian forces for several days.

Russia warns against offering airfields to Ukraine

Any country offering its air fields to Ukraine for attacks on Russia may be considered as having entered the conflict, a Russia defence ministry spokesman has stated.

“The use of the airfield networks of these countries to base Ukrainian military aircraft and their subsequent use against the Russian armed forces may be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict,” Interfax news agency quoted spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.

Over 3,500 detained at anti-war protests in Russia

More than 3,500 people have been detained at protests across Russia against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to data provided by Russian authorities.

Russia’s interior ministry announced 1,700 people had been detained in Moscow, 750 in St Petersburg and 1,061 in other cities.

The OVD-Info protest monitoring group said it had documented the detention of at least 2,578 people in 49 different cities.

Russia claims almost all Ukrainian aviation fit for combat destroyed

The Russian Defence Ministry said it has reliable information that some Ukrainian fighter aircraft flew to Romania and other neighbouring countries.

The Ukrainian air force has lost 11 combat aircraft and 2 helicopters as of Sunday, according to Defence Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov.

Practically all operational Ukrainian aviation is destroyed, the defence ministry added.

US envoy to UN identified 3 areas where Washington may take action soon on Ukraine

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday identified three areas where the US could take additional steps to ramp up pressure on Russia as its war in Ukraine rages on: a ban on Russian oil imports, a declaration of war crimes, and help facilitating delivery of Polish fighter jets to Ukraine.

In separate answers in an interview on ABC News, Thomas-Greenfield mentioned those areas where the US was reviewing options and coordinating with allies.

She said President Joe Biden was “in discussion with NATO allies” about a potential ban on Russian oil imports.

“The President is working with his advisers, security advisers, as well as his energy advisers, on how to address these issues,” she said, adding the White House is mindful of how such a ban might affect gas prices.

She stated the US has been “in close consultations with the Polish government, as well as with our other NATO allies”, on the notion of facilitating a transfer of Soviet-era fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine.

“We have not in any way opposed the Polish government providing these jets to Ukraine and we’re working, as you noted, to see how we can backfill for them,” she noted, a reference to a plan being formulated to send F-16s to Poland.

She said the US was “working with our partners to collect and provide information” on potential war crimes.

“Any attack on civilians is a war crime,” she added.

Earlier this week, Biden stopped short of calling Russia’s actions in Ukraine a war crime.

Official: Iran storing fuel for future export as energy crisis looms over Europe

Iran is storing fuel for future export ahead of expected hikes in energy prices as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, an Iranian official says.

Blinken says US seeing ‘very credible reports’ of deliberate attacks on civilians in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that America has seen ‘very credible reports’ of deliberate attacks on civilians by Russians forces in Ukraine, and that Washington was documenting these reports to make sure relevant organisations can investigate whether war crimes have been committed.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, called Russia a “terrorist state” in an interview with Fox News.

“This is a terrorist state and we should treat Russia as a terrorist state,” Markarova noted.

She also renewed calls for the US to provide Ukraine with anti-aircraft weapons.

Russian police detain over 2,500 people at anti-war protests

Russian police forces have detained around 2,500 people at anti-war protests in cities across Russia today, Russian news agencies reported.

A police spokesman said 1,700 people were detained in Moscow after around 2,500 took part in an “unsanctioned protest”, while 750 were detained at a smaller rally of around 1,500 people in the second largest city of Saint Petersburg.

OVD-Info, which monitors detentions at opposition protests, put the figure of detainees in 49 towns and cities across Russia at 2,575 people.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 11

EU calls for probe into whether Russia committing war crimes

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that an investigation is needed into whether Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine.

“I think there needs to be a strong and clear investigation on this question,” von der Leyen said in an interview with CNN.

Ukraine urges US to ban Russian oil imports

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, on Sunday urged the US to ban Russian oil imports and to impose a no-fly zone over her country, mirroring an appeal for additional support that President Volodymyr Zelensky made to Congress a day earlier.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday”, Markarova also implored the US to step up arms shipments to Ukraine, particularly air defense weapons and aircraft.

US working with European allies to look at “prospect” of banning Russian oil imports

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Washington is working with its allies in Europe to look into the possibility of banning Russian oil imports in an effort to further punish the country for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“When it comes to oil, Russian oil, I was on the phone yesterday with the President and other members of the Cabinet on exactly the subject, and we are now talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil while making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil in world markets,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

“That’s a very active discussion as we speak,” Blinken added.

ICRC says 2nd attempt to evacuate 200,000 people from Mariupol failed

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Sunday that a second attempt to evacuate about 200,000 people from Mariupol was unsuccessful.

“Amid devastating scenes of human suffering in Mariupol, a second attempt today to start evacuating an estimated 200,000 people out of the city came to a halt. The failed attempts yesterday and today underscore the absence of a detailed and functioning agreement between the parties to the conflict,” the ICRC said in a statement.

“The ICRC needs satisfactory security guarantees in order to operate. Today, our teams began opening up the evacuation route from Mariupol before hostilities resumed. Our teams remain in Mariupol and are ready to help facilitate further attempts if the parties reach a detailed agreement, which is for the parties alone to implement and respect,” the statement read.

A convoy of evacuees was not able to leave Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol on Sunday because Russian forces continued shelling despite a temporary ceasefire agreement, local authorities announced.

“It is extremely dangerous to take people out under such conditions,” the city council said in an online statement.

Putin tells Macron Ukrainian radicals sought to frame Russia for provocation at Nuclear power plant

Russian President Vladimir Putin has provided his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron details about the attempted provocation by Ukrainian radical formations around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.

“In connection with concerns expressed by Emmanuel Macron about ensuring the safety of nuclear power plants on the territory of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin informed him in detail about the provocation organized by Ukrainian radicals in the area of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant involving a sabotage group,” a Kremlin readout released Sunday after a phone call between the Russian and French leaders said.

The Kremlin assured that the physical safety of the nuclear power plant has been secured, and that Russian forces and Ukrainian security personnel are coordinating its protection.

“Attempts to shift responsibility for this incident to the Russian military are an element of a cynical propaganda campaign. Russian troops, in cooperation with Ukrainian security forces and plant personnel, are continuing to assure the operation of the nuclear power plant in normal mode; background radiation remains at normal levels. All of these facts have been officially confirmed by the IAEA. The physical and nuclear safety of the station is under reliable protection,” the readout added.

The Kremlin also reiterated that the mothballed Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kiev was also under Russia’s control.

“All this has been done to exclude the possibility of provocations by Ukrainian neo-Nazis or terrorists fraught with catastrophic consequences,” the Kremlin added.

UN says 364 civilian deaths confirmed so far

The United Nation’s human rights office announced it has confirmed the deaths of 364 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

The Geneva-based office added that another 759 civilians had been injured as of midnight Saturday.

The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. It says it believes the real figures are considerably higher.

Mariupol evacuation ‘halted for a second day’

An evacuation from the southern city of Mariupol has been halted for a second day, with Ukrainian officials claiming that Russia again violated a temporary cease-fire deal brokered to allow the safe passage of civilians.

Pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s National Guard accused each other of failing to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Sunday, the second time the sides attempted to arrange it.

Ukraine appears to confirm death of negotiator dubbed ‘traitor’ by media

Kiev has said that Denis Kireev, a secret agent on a mission from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, has died. Earlier reports claimed that a man with the same name was killed by Ukrainian secret services as a suspected traitor.

Ukraine’s Chief Directorate of Intelligence stated that Kireev was among three agents killed in the line of duty.

“They have died, protecting Ukraine,” the military intelligence agency wrote on social media, without elaborating.

Putin tells Erdogan halt in Russia’s Ukraine op possible if Kiev stops fighting, implements demands

Russia’s military operation in Ukraine to defend the Donbass will be suspended only if Ukrainian forces cease hostilities and agree to implement Moscow’s demands on demilitarisation, President Vladimir Putin has told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“The readiness of the Russian side for dialogue with Ukrainian authorities and with foreign partners to resolve the conflict was confirmed,” the Kremlin said in a readout Sunday.

“Hope was expressed that during the plannned next round of talks, representatives of Ukraine will show a more constructive approach that fully takes into account emerging realities,” the statement added.

Putin was said to have drawn Erdogan’s attention to the “futility” of efforts by Kiev to stall the negotiations process, and to have “emphasized that the suspension of the special operation is possible only if Kiev ceases hostilities and fulfills Russia’s well-known requirements”, i.e. the so-called “demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine”, and justice against those responsible for “bloody crimes against civilians” in the Donbass over the past 8 years, as Putin has previously characterized them.

Putin also told his Turkish counterpart that Russian forces were “doing everything possible to ensure the safety of civilians”, with Russia’s “pinpoint strikes” said to be “inflicted exclusively on military infrastructure”.

In its own statement Sunday, the Turkish presidency said that Erdogan informed Putin of Turkey’s continued readiness to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis.

Erdogan urged for an “urgent general ceasefire” to be implemented, saying this would ease the humanitarian situation.

Blinken believes keeping diplomatic relations with Russia important

US State Secretary Antony Blinken spoke on Sunday in favor of preserving diplomatic ties with Russia to be able to assist US citizens on the Russian territory.

“But from my perspective, in times like these it is important that we maintain our diplomatic contacts, that we maintain the diplomatic support, particularly, support that we can provide to Americans who may need it,” Blinken told a briefing in Chisinau.

According to the diplomat, Washington called on Americans to promptly leave Russia and refrain from trips there as the US government’s opportunities to help them if necessary are limited.

The United States is considering sending planes to Poland if Warsaw decided to send fighter jets to Ukraine, Blinken said on a visit to Moldova.

“We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes,” he stated, adding, “I can’t speak to a timeline but I can just say we’re looking at it very, very actively.”

The visit came after Blinken visited NATO-member Poland on Saturday as the alliance bolsters its eastern flank in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow: US & NATO security services summon Russians who interacted with diplomats abroad

US and NATO security services had summoned for “conversations” some Russians who interacted with diplomats abroad, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

In some NATO countries, such as the United States, Poland, the Baltic countries, representatives of special services would also approach at airports people who had been regularly interacting with our diplomats in line with absolutely normal, open principles, attempting to determine their list of contacts, said Zakharova.
Furthermore, over the past few months, Russian embassies abroad have been living as though in a blockade, constantly targeted by hacker attacks, added Zakharova.

“The fact is, this ‘blockade’ is not provisional or virtual, it is a most real and tangible one,” she noted, appearing live on Russian television.

Russia: Over 1,100 detained at Ukraine war protests

More than 1,100 people in cities across Russia have been detained at protests Sunday against Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, a protest monitor said.

The OVD-Info group said that by around 2:20 p.m. Moscow time (11:20 GMT) on Sunday, 1,103 people had been detained across 35 cities, bringing the total number of demonstrators detained to 9,472 since February 24, when President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine to carry out a “special operation”.

Pope Francis says Ukraine conflict “not military operation but a war”

Pope Francis has rejected Russia’s assertion that it is carrying out a “a special military operation” in Ukraine, saying the country was being battered by a war.

“In Ukraine rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This is not only a military operation but a war which is leading to death, destruction and misery,” the pope stated in his weekly address to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square

Zelensky: Russian rockets have completely destroyed Vinnytsia regional airport

Volodymr Zelensky, the Ukranian President, has said that Russian rockets have completely destroyed Vinnytsia regional airport.

A barrage of Russian missiles destroyed the airport in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine on Sunday, he continued, adding, “I have just been informed about a missile strike on Vinnytsia. Eight rockets… The airport was completely destroyed.”

Russia continues to deliver gas to Europe via Ukraine

Russia continues to deliver gas to Europe via Ukraine at normal levels, according to state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

“Gazprom carries out the supply of Russian gas for transit through the territory of Ukraine in the regular scale and according to the requirements of European consumers,” Gazprom spokesperson Sergei Kupriyanov was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax.

Some 109.5 million cubic metres of gas were to flow on Sunday, Interfax reported.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western countries have imposed tough sanctions on Russia, with many fearing that Moscow might cut off gas deliveries in retaliation

Kyiv district appeals for help “to survive” amid heavy fighting

A district to the northwest of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has issued an urgent appeal for help amid intense shelling by Russian forces.

The district of Bucha has been at the center of fighting for more than a week.

“The enemy continues to shell all quarters in Bucha mercilessly: every day is the struggle for survival,” the city council said on Facebook Sunday.

“There is no electricity, heat, communication, internet,” it added.

“Every day we receive thousands of messages from the residents of Bucha and settlements of the community about the need for food, water, restoration of communications,” it continued.

“It is impossible to deliver humanitarian aid: the community is under siege. We need support to survive! Help us to save the community!” the district urged,” it stressed.

Some 181,500 refugees from Donbass arrive in Russia

Over 181,000 refugees have arrived in Russia from Donbass and Ukraine, including 162,500 residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) whose evacuation began on February 18, a representative of the power structures told TASS.

Evacuation checkpoint near Kyiv shelled

An evacuation crossing point for civilians trying to escape the Irpin district west of Kyiv was shelled Sunday morning.

At the time a stream of civilians was coming through the checkpoint.

Media organizations at the scene of the explosion near Irpin say at least three civilians have been killed, including two children.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 11

UK: Russia has ‘got itself into a mess’ with Ukranian invasion

Russia has “got itself into a mess” with the whole Ukrainian invasion, the Chief of the Defence Staff has said.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme that morale in the Russian forces was low and that the Kremlin had lost more troops in a week than the UK did in 20 years in Afghanistan.

“We do know that some of the lead elements of Russian forces have been decimated by the Ukrainian response,” he added.

However, Sir Tony warned Russian aggression could be ramped up.

“I think there is a real risk because Russia is struggling with its objectives on the ground in Ukraine – and we’ve seen from Russia’s previous actions in Syria and in Chechnya – where it will turn up the violence, it will lead to more indiscriminate killing and more indiscriminate destruction,” he stated.

Ukraine president: Russia preparing to bombard Odessa

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated Russian forces were preparing to bombard the city of Odessa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

“Rockets against Odessa? This will be a war crime,” he said in a televised address.

Israel’s PM, returns from Moscow, speaks to Zelenskiy again

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, their third conversation in two days, a Bennett spokesperson stated, without giving further details.

On Saturday, Bennett’s office said he made a surprise visit to Moscow to discuss the Ukraine crisis with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s gas transmission system operator closes 16 gas distribution stations

Hundreds of thousands of homes across eastern and southern Ukraine had their gas turned off on Sunday because of heavy fighting, according to Ukraine’s Transmission System Operator for Gas.

The operator said it shut down 16 gas distribution stations in Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

“It is currently impossible to restore gas supply to some distribution stations,” the company announced.

Natural gas is the primary way many homes are heated and is also used for cooking.

The Ukrainian gas operator was working with suppliers in Poland and other nations to increase gas imports so the supply available to the public would be almost equal to the average daily consumption in Ukraine.

UN: Number of refugees from Ukraine exceeds 1.5 mln

The number of refugees who left Ukraine after Russia launched a full-scale war on February 24 has exceeded 1.5 million people, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said.

“More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days – the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II,” he added.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Korczowa at the Ukrainian-Polish border, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi welcomed the announcement about the opening of humanitarian corridors but said that was not enough.

“We need more than that,” he said, adding, “We need a ceasefire, we need a cessation of hostilities so that people can stop moving and even go back to their homes perhaps, but under the circumstances, they are all telling me they are afraid too much.”

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 11

Mariupol residents describe a city becoming ‘unfit for human life’

Staggered by blasts pummeling the city, cut off from heat through freezing nights, and running low on food and water, the people of Mariupol, Ukraine, have been trapped by Russia’s siege.

In interviews, residents and local officials in Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov, described nightmarish conditions after five days of shelling by Russian forces around the city. On Sunday, city officials announced they would attempt to resume an evacuation effort that was called off a day earlier because of Russian attacks.

Ukrainians would ‘never trust’ what Russians say despite agreements over ceasefires

The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister has said Ukrainians would “never trust” what the Russians say despite agreements over ceasefires.

Olha Stefanishyna told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme every Ukrainian citizen and politician “knows the Russian playbook by heart”.

Stefanishyna hit out at Western leaders who refused to impose a no-fly zone over her country.

“My President was as precise as it is possible and we absolutely support from the bottom of his, of our, hearts (in) everything he says because this is what we feel,” she added.

She has said the situation in her country was getting “more and more severe”, adding that Russian forces were shelling hospitals, nurseries and schools, and civilian homes.

She stated that “this is how the reality looks but it seems like … it does not look like (it is on) the agenda for the new wave of sanctions to be introduced by the democratic world”.

UK PM says situation in Ukraine not a NATO conflict

The situation in Ukraine is not and will not be a NATO conflict, as the alliance is not seeking confrontation with Russia, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated.

“This is not a NATO conflict, and it will not become one. No ally has sent combat troops to Ukraine. We have no hostility toward the Russian people, and we have no desire to impugn a great nation and a world power,” Johnson said in an opinion article published by The New York Times.

Humanitarian corridors set to open again after being shut yesterday

Humanitarian corridors in the southeastern Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha will be opened again today, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Some skepticism over the routes has grown after Ukrainian authorities paused evacuations of civilians Saturday, citing Russian violations of a ceasefire.

Civilians in the battered Ukrainian port city of Mariupol are trapped without power and water and unable to recover their dead, its mayor stated Saturday, as he accused Russia of trying to “choke” the city by shutting off agreed evacuation routes.

Russia agreed to a ceasefire on Saturday to allow civilians to safely leave Mariupol and Volnovakha, where residents have endured days of heavy, indiscriminate shelling.

But evacuations were paused, with Ukrainian authorities accusing Russia of violating the agreement by resuming its attacks, leaving thousands of civilians trapped in what people on the ground describe as increasingly dire conditions.

UK: Ukraine conflict to last months, if not years

The conflict in Ukraine will last months, if not years, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab stated, and international allies need to show “strategic stamina” to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin fails.

“Our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine, and it’s going to take some time – we’re talking about months, if not years – and therefore we have to show some strategic stamina, because this is not going to be over in days,” Raab told Sky News.

Raab has warned Russian commanders and those around Vladimir Putin that they also risked being prosecuted for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He noted the “reckless and frankly applying tactics by the Putin regime must be held to account”.

Ukrainian refugees near 1.5 million

The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine was expected to reach 1.5 million on Sunday as Kyiv pressed the West to toughen sanctions and deliver more weapons to repel Russia’s attack.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 11

Mariupol to attempt civilian evacuation

The Ukraine port city of Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian troops, announced it will begin efforts to evacuate its civilian population, after earlier efforts were scuppered by ceasefire violations.

“From 1200 (1000 GMT) the evacuation of the civilian population begins,” city officials stated in a statement, which said a ceasefire was agreed with Russian-led forces surrounding the city.

Ukrainian military: ‘Fierce’ fighting in Mykolaiv

Airstrikes and fighting continued in Ukraine on Sunday amid Russia’s invasion, with the Ukrainian military reporting “fierce battles” with Russian troops around the southern city of Mykolaiv.

The city is important strategically, as it controls the road to the key Black Sea city of Odesa.

This comes as Russia reported that it had destroyed Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military air-base with long-range weapons. The report has not been verified.

Fighting is also continuing for the northern city of Chernihiv, while an expected Russian advance on Kyiv has reportedly been preceded by airstrikes on the towns of Bucha and Irpin that have forced civilians to flee.

The situation in the Black Sea city of Mariupol, which is now without water or power amid Russian shelling, has meanwhile been called “catastrophic” by the organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Officials in the city stated they had to delay the evacuation of civilians on Saturday after an agreed cease-fire broke down, but Moscow has contradicted their version of events, saying that it was Ukrainian “nationalists” preventing the civilians leaving.

Russia: Ukrainian military air base hit with long-range weapons

Moscow struck and disabled Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military air base with long-range high-precision weapons, Russia’s defence ministry claimed.

“The Russia armed forces continue to strike the military infrastructure of Ukraine,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, adding, “On the morning of March 6, strikes were carried out by high-precision long-range weapons. The Ukrainian air force base near Starokostiantyniv was disabled.”

He stated a Ukrainian-controlled S-300 missile system had also been destroyed by Russian rocket forces.

“Russia Ukraine attack strategic mistake”

Iran’s former ambassador to the Soviet Union says Russia’s President Vladimir Putin made a “strategic mistake” by invasion of Ukraine, and destroyed the idea of “convergence of Europe and Russia”.

Humanitarian situation in Mariupol ‘dire’

The humanitarian situation in southeastern city of Mariupol is extremely “dire” with huge displacement of people, the International Committe of the Red Crocc (ICRC) warned, adding that many people are stranded in shelters without food, water or electricity.

“I could describe the situation as catastrophic,” Mirella Hodeib, ICRC Ukraine, told Al Jazeera.

“The safe passage for civilians is a guarantee under international humanitarian law. The ICRC welcomes any initiative to offer respite to civilians fleeing the conflict,” Hodeib said.

“The parties in the conflict are in negotiation now. The ICRC is willing to facilitate the movement of civilians who wish to do so. We are ready ones agreement based strictly on humanitarian terms is reached,” Hodeib continued.

WHO confirms “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine which resulted in multiple deaths and injuries, the agency’s chief has said.

Additional reports are being investigated, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated in a post to Twitter on Sunday.

“Attacks on healthcare facilities or workers breach medical neutrality and are violations of international humanitarian law,” he added.

Ukraine: Over 11,000 Russian troops killed in war

More than 11,000 Russian troops have been killed since Moscow launched an invasion into Ukraine on February 24, the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff claimed.

A day earlier, the Ukrainian army put Russian casualties at over 10,000. Kyiv did not report Ukrainian casualties.

UK intelligence: Russia targeting populated areas

British military intelligence claimed Russian forces were targeting populated areas in Ukraine but that the strength of resistance was slowing their advance.

“The scale and strength of Ukrainian resistance continue to surprise Russia,” British military intelligence said in an update.

Moscow “has responded by targeting populated areas in multiple locations, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol”.

“Russia has previously used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions,” British military intelligence added.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilian areas.

Crowds of Ukrainian men line up to join army

Crowds of men have been lining up in Kyiv to join the Ukrainian army.

An order from Ukraine’s government prohibited men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country to keep them available for military conscription.

Some 3,000 Americans volunteered to fight in Ukraine

Around 3,000 Americans have pledged their commitment to the cause in Ukraine and fight against the Russian invasion, Voice of America reports.

It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for the formation of an “international legion” of foreign volunteers to help fight the war as Western nations continue to abstain from getting involved in the war militarily.

Russia destroys 2,203 targets of Ukrainian military infrastructure

The Russian armed forces have destroyed 2,203 targets of the Ukrainian military infrastructure since the beginning of the special military operation, the Defence Ministry announced on Sunday.

According to the Defence Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, Russian fighter jets and air defence systems have shot down 10 Ukrainian combat aircraft and helicopters over the past 24 hours.

“The missile forces have destroyed the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system,” Konashenkov added, stressing that three Buk M1 anti-aircraft missile systems and three radar stations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were hit by bomber and ground attack aircraft.

According to Konashenkov, “69 aircraft on the ground and 24 aircraft in the air, 778 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, 77 multiple launch rocket systems, 279 field artillery and mortars, 553 units of special military vehicles, as well as 62 unmanned aerial vehicles were also destroyed.”

Russian Armed Forces, during the course of offensive operations, took control of the settlements of Priyutnoye, Zavitne-Bazhanne, Staromlynovka, Oktyabrskoye and Novomayskoye. The forward movement was 11 kilometres, he said.

Report: US drafts plan for government-in-exile, guerrilla war in Ukraine

The US and its allies are quietly working on “contingency plans” in case Russian forces succeed in their operation in Ukraine and force the current government into exile, The Washington Post reported.

The prospects of Russian troops seizing the Ukrainian capital, Kiev have sparked “a flurry of planning” at the US State Department, the media outlet reported. Washington allegedly expects the weapons America and its allies are currently pumping into Ukraine to be used during the protracted insurgency they expect to follow. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will take the role of “the pivotal force” rallying Ukrainians to continue fighting Russia, according to reports.

“We’re doing contingency planning now for every possibility,” a US administration official told The Washington Post, adding that one such possibility involves Zelensky establishing a government-in-exile in Poland.

Ukraine’s military says operations to defend Mariupol & Chernihiv are ongoing

A defense operation is ongoing in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, the general staff of the country’s armed forces said.

“The main efforts are focused on defending the city of Mariupol and inflicting fire damage on the overwhelming forces of the enemy,” the Ukrainian military announced. 

Ukrainian Armed Forces also “stopped enemy columns trying to advance towards Dnipropetrovsk region from Balakliya”, according to the statement.

An operation to defend the northern city of Chernihiv is underway in the Siverskyi region, the Ukrainian military added.

And in the southern Mykolayiv area, “capture of a considerable quantity of armored and automobile equipment of the enemy was planned and realized”.

Russian envoy says US rhetoric becoming irresponsible, calls for dialogue

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov says that Washington’s anti-Moscow rhetoric is starting to pose a risk to international security and that he is ready to discuss the issue of strengthening strategic stability with any US politician.

More Iranians return home from Ukraine

A spokesman for Iran’s Aviation Organization says 240 more Iranians return to the country from Poland where they had been staying temporarily after leaving Ukraine.

Ukraine FM: 10,000 Russian troops killed, hundreds of vehicles destroyed

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has claimed more than 10,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine.

The same assertion had previously been made by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“Russians keep bearing devastating losses on the ground, and I cannot understand how mothers, wives and daughters of these Russian soldiers bear this pain, seeing how President Putin sends more and more of their beloved ones to Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

The Russian military claimed a substantially lower death toll of 498 on Wednesday.

Kuleba added Russia had lost dozens of aircraft and hundreds of armored vehicles.

Ukraine is bleeding but has not fallen, and stands with both feet on the ground, Kuleba stressed.

Applauding the country’s armed forces in pushing back Russian forces on a number of fronts, Kuleba said “the myth of the unbeatable and almighty army is already ruined”.

He added the defence forces have achieved some major successes and that the Russians keep bearing devastating losses on the ground.

“Ukraine is bleeding but Ukraine as not fallen and stands with both feet on the ground,” he continued.

Ukraine official hopeful of humanitarian corridor out of Kharkiv

The head of the Ukrainian delegation for talks with Russia is hopeful a humanitarian corridor out of the eastern city of Kharkiv may be opened on Sunday.

Ukrainian and Russian representatives last met in western Belarus on Thursday and agreed to have humanitarian corridors in place during their second round of talks.

Ukraine says Russia wants to seize power station dam

The Ukrainian army warns that Russian forces want to seize the dam of a key hydroelectric power station south of the capital, Kyiv.

The Ukrainian armed forces claimed Russia planned to seize the dam of the Kaniv hydroelectric power station, located some 150km (93 miles) south of Kyiv on the Dnieper River.

So far, Russian forces have destroyed, attacked or captured several energy infrastructure facilities, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia.

Allied governments have been discussing how to secure the line of succession in Ukraine in the event President Volodymyr Zelensky is captured or killed by Russian forces, according to officials from multiple governments, according to The New York Times.

The concerns are primarily about making sure there is still an independent Ukrainian government in some form, even if Russia finds a way to install a puppet leadership in Kyiv, the capital. Having an independent leader to recognize, Western officials stated, will help prevent any Russian-backed leaders from gaining legitimacy.

Zelensky’s presence and motivational speeches have been key factors in keeping up the morale of the Ukrainian military and people, and the officials stressed it was important that continued.

US officials travel to Venezuela, seeking to isolate Russia from its allies

Senior US officials are traveling to Venezuela to meet with the government of President Nicolás Maduro, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Joe Biden administration steps up efforts to separate Russia from its remaining international allies over the invasion of Ukraine.

Town near Kyiv “almost completely destroyed”

Oleksiy Kuleba, head of Kyiv’s Regional State Administration, said a town northwest of Kyiv is “almost completely destroyed”.

“There’s no water and electricity there … There is no Borodyanka. It is almost completely destroyed. The city center is just awful. Borodyanka is under the influence of Russian troops; they control this settlement,” Kuleba added.

Kuleba had claimed Russian troops appeared to take over a psychiatric hospital there with hundreds of patients, but they have now left. Russian forces are still in the immediate area, he continued.

Zelensky urges Ukrainians to keep up resistance

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Ukrainians to keep up their resistance, saying, “Ukrainians! In all of our cities, where the enemy invaded, go on the offensive. Go out on the streets. We need to fight every time we have an opportunity.”

In a video address, Zelensky stated Ukrainians would not give their country “away to an enemy” and commended the Ukrainian people’s faith.

“When you don’t have a firearm but they respond with gunshots and you don’t run … This is the reason why occupation is temporary. Our people — Ukrainians — don’t back down,” Zelensky added.

Zelensky applauded the Ukrainian people’s resistance and protests.

“They scream at occupants to go home, like the Russian battleship, pushing the occupants out of our territory,” he continued, noting, “Every meter of our Ukrainian land reclaimed by protest is a step forward, a step toward victory.”

Mayor of Mariupol speaks of dire situation, no power or water, no way to collect dead

Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, has painted a grim picture of life in the city.

“The situation is very complicated,” Boichenko said in an interview on a YouTube channel, adding, “The Russian army has already put up a blockade on the humanitarian corridor. We have a lot of social problems, which all the Russians have created.”

Boichenko said the city, which has a population of nearly 400,000, has been without power for five days.

“All our thermal substations rely on this power supply, so accordingly, we are without heat,” he added.

Boichenko stated there are no mobile networks, and “since the attack on Mariupol, we lost our reserve water supply, and so we are totally without water now”.

“[The Russian army] is working to besiege the city and set up a blockade,” he continued, adding, “They want to cut us off from the humanitarian corridor, shutting down the delivery of essential goods, medical supplies, even baby food. Their goal is to choke the city and place it under an unbearable stress.”

Boichenko said the “wounded and dead over these past five days number in the dozens. By the eighth day, there were hundreds. Now, we are already talking about thousands.

“These figures are only going to get worse,” Boichenko noted, stating, “But this is the sixth straight day of airstrikes and we are not able to get out to recover the dead.

“They say they want to save Ukrainians from being killed by the Ukrainian [state] but they are the ones doing the killing,” Boichenko said, adding, “Listen, our brave doctors have been saving lives here now for 10 straight days. They live and sleep at our hospitals with their families.”

Boichenko talked about the humanitarian corridor, which had been cancelled Saturday.

“We had 50 buses full of fuel, and we were just waiting for a ceasefire and for the roads to open so we can get people out of here,” he said, adding, “But now we are down to just 30 buses. We hid those buses in another location, away from the shelling, and lost another 10 there. So we are down to 20.

“So, when this humanitarian corridor finally opens to us tomorrow or whenever, we may not have any buses left to evacuate the people,” he continued.

Boichenko said saving the city was out of the question, adding, “The only task now is to open up the humanitarian corridor to Mariupol at any cost.”

“All these talks are lies,” he said, adding, “All this is being done, I will repeat for the thousandth time, to destroy us as a nation.”

Boichenko insisted morale in Mariupol was strong but they are “just hanging on”.

“We are holding out hope that maybe tomorrow at the crack of dawn, perhaps a tiny dewdrop of love will splash down on the people of this city,” he stated.

“The city of Mariupol has ceased to exist,” Boichenko told the YouTube interviewer, “at least the city that you once saw.”

Mastercard & Visa suspends all transactions and operations in Russia

Credit card companies Visa and Mastercard have suspended their operations in Russia.

US working with Poland on possibility of providing fighter jets to Ukraine

The US is working with Poland on the possibility of Poland providing fighter jets to Ukraine along with consulting with other allies, a White House spokesperson confirms, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pushing for eastern European countries to send fighter aircraft into his country.

As part of the conversations with Poland, the US is determining what “capabilities we could provide to backfill Poland if it decided to transfer planes to Ukraine”, said the spokesperson, who would not detail what backfill options are under consideration.

The spokesperson added sending fighter jets into Ukraine is a “sovereign decision for any country to make” and noted there are a host of logistics to work through, including how the aircraft would be transferred from Poland to Ukraine.

Johnson to lay out Ukraine action plan ensuring “Putin must fail”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out a six-point plan of action on the Russia-Ukraine war during meetings with Canadian, Dutch, and Central European leaders next week.

Johnson is set to tell his counterparts they must come together under his plan to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin “fails in his ambition”, according to a Downing Street news release.

The plan, according to the news release, calls on countries to mobilize “an international humanitarian coalition for Ukraine, support Ukraine in its efforts to provide its own self-defense and maximize the economic pressure on Putin’s Russia”.

According to the news release, the plan also calls on the UK’s partners to “prevent the creeping normalization of what Russia is doing in Ukraine, pursue diplomatic paths to de-escalation but only on the basis of full participation by the legitimate government of Ukraine and begin a rapid campaign to strengthen security and resilience across the Euro-Atlantic area”.

“Putin must fail and must be seen to fail in this act of aggression,” the release said, adding, “It is not enough to express our support for the rules-based international order – we must defend it against a sustained attempt to rewrite the rules by military force.”

Biden speaks with Zelensky about ongoing efforts to “raise costs on Russia for invading Ukraine”

US President Joe Biden “highlighted the ongoing actions undertaken by the United States, its Allies and partners, and private industry to raise the costs on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine”, in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, the White House said.

“In particular, he welcomed the decision this evening by Visa and Mastercard to suspend service in Russia,” the White House added.

“President Biden noted his administration is surging security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding,” according to the WH.

Zelensky tells people of Donbas to fight for their rights

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the people of the breakaway regions in Donbas.

He called on the people of Donbas to fight for their rights and freedom and urged them to protect themselves from Russia.

Beijing: “Evolution” of Ukraine situation is “something China does not want to see”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the “evolution” of the situation in Ukraine is “something China does not want to see”, in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Wang stated the Ukraine crisis should be solved through “dialogue and negotiation” and called on the United States, NATO, and the European Union to engage in “equal dialogue” with Russia. He added they should “pay attention to the negative impact of NATO’s continuous eastward expansion on Russia’s security”.

“China supports all efforts conducive to de-escalation and political settlement of the situation, while opposing any moves which are adverse to promoting a diplomatic solution and add fuel to the flames,” Wang continued.

Blinken underscored on the call that Moscow will “pay a high price” for its “premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war” in Ukraine, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. He underlined “the world is watching to see which nations stand up for the basic principles of freedom, self-determination and sovereignty”.

Germany & Israel share “common goal to end war in Ukraine as soon as possible”

The German government issued a statement following German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Berlin.

The focus of their 90-minute meeting were the results of talks between Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, according to German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Hebestreit said the leaders of Germany and Israel agreed to stay in close contact and that “a common goal remains to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible”.

“We will work on that with all our might,” Hebestreit added.

EU comments on warplanes for Ukraine

European Council President Charles Michel has said that the bloc’s military aid to Ukraine will not include jet fighters, which Kiev has insisted it badly needs to fend off the ongoing Russian invasion.

“The European Union is definitely not at war with Russia. A war is what Russia has launched against Ukraine, a country very friendly and very close to the EU. That is why we support Ukraine on all levels,” Michel stated in an interview with several European newspapers.

The chief of the EU’s top political body confirmed that the EU pledged €500 million ($547 million) in military aid to Kiev, €450 million ($492 million) of which will go to buying weapons.

“But these European funds will not be used to finance the delivery of combat aircraft to Ukraine,” Michel noted.

He added, however, that the funds may be used by individual EU member states to supply the Ukrainian Air Force with spare parts and other equipment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking NATO countries to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, or at least provide Kiev with jet fighters. A no-fly zone could see NATO shoot down Russian planes in Ukraine, likely leading to a direct confrontation with Moscow, and has been rejected by the military bloc.

Ukraine demands new round of sanctions against Russia

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said during a televised address his country wanted stronger sanctions against Russia.

“They include, among others, banning the Russians bank Sberbank from SWIFT, closing European ports for Russian ships, closing access of Russia to cryptocurrency and stopping purchases of Russian oil,” Kuleba added.

Russian oil “smells with Ukrainian blood today”, the foreign minister said, adding that “buying it is financing Russian war crimes”.

He reiterated Ukraine’s call on international allies to protect Ukrainian airspace from the “indiscriminate and barbaric bombardment by the Russians” and to provide the country with “combat aircraft and serious air defense, missiles and weapons”.

“My message to the world is clear. When all European and other leaders at all ceremonies throughout the year, repeat those separate words, ‘never again’, they now need to prove with actions that they stand by those words,” Kuleba remarked, harking back to the Nazi bombings of European capitals during World War II.

“Prove now that you have learned to the lessons of the past, that a new brutal force in Europe can be stopped before it drags the whole continent into devastating conflict,” the foreign minister said, concluding his speech.

During the message, Kuleba commended the “admirable” courage of “peaceful protestors” in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson who “demonstrated in front of armed Russian invaders”, telling them that “they are Ukrainians, and their city belongs to Ukraine.”

“The message of the heroic Ukrainian people is simple,” he stated, adding, “Russians, go home. You are on foreign land where no one needs you. And no one welcomes you with flowers. Vladimir Putin, leave Ukraine alone. You will not win this war,” Kuleba emphasized during the brief message.

Kuleba had a “productive discussion” with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on future steps to support Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion.

Hundreds of students trapped in Ukraine’s Sumy amid shelling

At least 1,500 foreign students are trapped in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, as shelling from the Russian army continues for a tenth day after humanitarian corridors failed to materialise.

Shivangi Shibu, a 25-year-old medical student from India, was woken up in her university hostel at dawn on Saturday by the sound of shelling.

Blinken meets Ukraine FM

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the Poland-Ukraine border.

The two spoke for 45 minutes under high security at a border crossing full of refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, discussing more arms for Kyiv’s military and how to keep up global pressure on Moscow.

“I hope the people of Ukraine will be able to see this as a clear manifestation that we have friends who literally stand by us,” Kuleba stated after they met at Korczowa-Krakovets.

Blinken said Ukraine is “going to prevail”.

Ukraine’s foreign minister has told his US counterpart his country needs fighter jets and air-defence systems and called NATO’s refusal to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine a “sign of weakness”.

“It’s no secret that the highest demand that we have is in fighter jets, attack aircraft, and air-defence systems,” Dmytro Kuleba noted.

Putin: Ukraine’s resistance threatens its statehood

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ukraine that its statehood is in jeopardy.

“If they continue to do what they are doing… they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood,” he said.

“And if this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience,” Putin added.

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