Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 12

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.

Biden holds call with Johnson, Scholz and Macron

Report: Congress to vote as soon as tomorrow on Russian energy import ban

The US House of Representatives is set to vote as soon as tomorrow on legislation seeking to ban the import of Russian energy products and suspend normal trade relations with Russia, a congressional aide told Reuters.

The text of the proposal is expected later today, the aide stated.

A group of key tax and trade-writing lawmakers said in a joint statement that they had “agreed on a legislative path forward to ban the import of energy products from Russia”.

It also would give President Joe Biden the authority to increase tariffs on goods from Russia and Belarus and would require US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to seek suspension of Russia’s participation in the World Trade Organisation.

Russian lead negotiator: Expectations from talks with Ukraine ‘not fulfilled’

Russia’s lead negotiator in talks between Moscow and Kyiv stated that the third round of conflict talks with Ukraine – focused on opening humanitarian corridors – had not met expectations.

“Our expectations from negotiations were not fulfilled. We hope that next time we will be able to take a more significant step forward,” Russian delegation head Vladimir Medinsky said in televised remarks.

Russia expects another round of talks with Ukraine to take place in the very near future, a negotiator for Moscow said after a round of inconclusive talks in Belarus.

“The next, fourth, round will take place in Belarus in the very, very near future,” negotiator Leonid Slutsky told Russian state television, adding, “I will not name the exact date yet. It will be determined, perhaps tomorrow.”

UN: Over 1.7 million have fled Ukraine

More than 1.7 million people have so far fled the war in Ukraine, according to he United Nation’s refugee agency, as thousands more stream across the borders.

A total of 1,735,068 civilians, mostly women and children, have crossed the border into Central Europe, the UNHCR announced.

The European Union could see as many as 5 million Ukrainian refugees if Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine continues, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, stated.

US House and Senate lawmakers have a deal on outline of bill to punish Russia

In a significant statement, four top lawmakers — the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee — said they would craft a bill that would suspend normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus and provide the White House with authority to increase tariffs on the two countries.

US and allies call on Interpol to suspend Russia’s access to global police agency’s systems

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has joined justice ministers from several allied countries to demand that Interpol immediately suspend Russia from accessing its systems, according to Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley.

Coley tweeted that Garland, alongside other justice ministers from what’s known as the Five Country Ministerial — the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, called on Interpol and its executive committee “to decide this week on the immediate suspension of Russia’s access to its systems”.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel also tweeted Sunday night, saying, “Russia’s actions are a direct threat to the safety of individuals and to international law enforcement cooperation.”

US: Russian forces are “increasing bombardments” on major Ukrainian cities

Russian forces are “increasing bombardments” of major Ukrainian cities including Kharkiv, Kyiv and Chernihiv, as well as Mykolaiv and Mariupol in the south, a senior US defense official told reporters on Monday.

“We’ve certainly have noticed increases in what we call long-range fires, bombardments, rocket attacks, artillery, as well as missile strikes, and we do assess that these strikes are hitting civilian targets, infrastructure, residential areas,” the official said.

It’s “not clear” if the Russians are hitting civilian targets deliberately or if they are the “result of imprecision,” but “clearly it’s happening”, the official stated.

“It’s happening on a greater rate and a greater scale, and all the more evidence of the reckless nature with which the Russians are propagating this invasion,” the official added.

Russia’s ruble plunges to new record low against US dollar

The Russian Ruble has plunged even further against the US dollar, hitting record lows, as talk grows over possible sanctions against Russian energy.

The US dollar/Russian Ruble is currently trading at around 155, meaning $1 is worth 155 rubles.

Mayor of Mykolaiv claims Russian forces are being pushed back from city following attack on airport

The mayor of the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv claimed Monday that Russian forces are retreating following what he says was an attempted attack on the city’s airport.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Russian military attempted “to attack the airport, and our troops fought with them and they fell back to the border… for 20-25 km”.

The regional administrator for the Mykolaiv area, Vitali Kim, had claimed the Russians were retreating after they lost two tanks in a “tank battle” at the airport.

Senkevych added that the city had faced a “rocket attack… about 60 rockets fell on our city, and 61 buildings were… destroyed, and about 40 rockets fell down unexploded. So starting from the morning, we also got an attack by heavy weapons like tanks and heavy weapon machines around the city.”

The mayor went on to claim that the Russian forces were relying heavily on cluster bombs, which are banned under the Geneva convention.

“90% of the rockets sent to our city, that launched to our city, were cluster bombs,” he claimed.

Despite the assaults, Senkevych said that Ukrainian forces are “motivated, they want to defend our motherland, our city, and they are really motivated and want to fight to the death”. He added that the city had “a good amount of people and heavy machines”.

Amir Abdollahian to Russia FM: Iran against war

The Iranian foreign minister, in a phone conversation with his Russia counterpart, voiced Tehran opposition to war as well as imposition of sanctions.

During the telephone conversation, Hossein Amir Abdollahian and Sergey Lavrov, iscussed bilateral relations, the Vienna talks, developments in Ukraine and some international developments.

Pentagon orders 500 additional US troops deploy to Europe

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered additional troops and US military assets to be deployed to different parts of Europe amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine to further support the US’s NATO allies, a senior US defense official told reporters on Monday.

The Defense Department will send a total of 500 troops in this new deployment, the official said. The deployment will include sending KC-135 refueling aircraft to Greece, but the official could not say how many aircrafts would be sent or where in the US they will be coming from.

An air support operation center will be deployed to Poland and Romania, and an ordinance company and a maintenance company will be sent to Germany, the official added.

The ordinance and maintenance companies will provide “additional logistic support to the first armored brigade combat team, third infantry division” in Germany which is already deployed there, the official stated.

“It’s only 500, small units, enablers, we said at the get-go of deploying forces that we would not rule out additional forces to include enablers, and these units are very much in support of forces that were already sent forward,” the official continued.

With these additional deployments, the US now has about 100,000 US military personnel either on rotational or permanent orders stationed in Europe right now, the official said.

The decision to send these troops and military assets were “based on conversations that the secretary had with the chairman and with Gen. (Tod) Wolters,” the commander of US European command, “that these additional enablers would be useful for the forces that are already” in Europe, the official stated.

The additional deployment “were already kind of queued up to go, and again fully in support of our efforts to help defend NATO airspace if needed”, the official added.

US: “Nearly 100%” of Russia’s pre-staged combat power is now in Ukraine

Russia has committed “nearly 100%” of the combat power that had been staged on the border of Ukraine and in Belarus, according to a senior US defense official.

Russia has also launched more than 625 missiles against Ukraine, according the official.

The official stated that while the airspace over Ukraine is still contested, the US assesses that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has “the vast majority of his fixed-wing aircraft” available, as well as surface-to-air weapons to defend Ukrainian airspace.

European leaders oppose banning Russian energy imports

The leaders of Germany, Britain and the Netherlands have cautioned against abruptly banning Russian energy imports, saying there were no immediate alternative supplies.

The pushback came after the United States on Sunday announced it was in “active discussions” with European nations about shutting down Russian oil imports as part of sanctions against Moscow.

“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated.

“Supplying Europe with energy for heat generation, mobility, electricity supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way at the moment,” he added.

US considering supplying air defense systems to NATO allies amid growing worry over Russia’s threats

The US is considering supplying critical air defense systems to NATO allies in eastern Europe as anxiety mounts that the Russians could consider launching missiles or aircraft against the alliance’s eastern flank, according to a US official familiar with current administration thinking.

“The US is considering a range of capabilities,” the official said.

Biden weighs easing sanctions on Venezuela to isolate Russia and increase oil production

The Joe Biden administration is weighing the possibility of easing sanctions on Venezuela so that the country can begin producing more oil and selling it on the international market, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The move would be aimed at reducing global dependence on Russian oil amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and at isolating Russia from one of its key allies in South America, the person said.

Biden administration officials, including National Security Council Director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez and US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Roger Carstens, were dispatched to Caracas over the weekend for talks on the issue, the person added, as well as to discuss the American citizens currently detained in the country.

Blinken: Ukraine using defense support funding “effectively against Russian aggression”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted Monday that 70% of the additional $350 million in defense support to Ukraine that President Joe Biden authorized in recent weeks “is already in the hands of Ukrainians, being used very effectively against Russian aggression”.

Speaking at a news conference in Latvia, Blinken stated he expected $10 billion in emergency aid to be provided by the US Congress “very quickly”, and said such aid will go to “additional security assistance,” “humanitarian assistance for Ukraine both inside Ukraine and outside,” and “to further efforts to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank”.

IAEA: An agreement on nuclear plants in Ukraine is urgently needed

Concerns are rising over the operations of nuclear power plants in Ukraine without concrete agreements between Russia and Ukraine on safety and security, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday, adding that his agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, was working urgently to facilitate a meeting with the two parties.

There has been no release of radiation, he stated, and the agency is remotely monitoring nuclear material there. Still, problems, including staffing and supply issues, have arisen at nuclear plants in Kharkiv, Mariupol and other places. If the plants can’t get access to equipment, normal operations could be difficult to sustain.

UK will set out energy supply strategy in coming days

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will set out an energy supply strategy in the coming days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed oil and gas prices to multi-year highs.

“I am going to be setting out an energy supply strategy for the country in the days ahead,” he told a news conference.

Canada announces further sanctions on Russia targeting 10 individuals

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced new sanctions on 10 individuals “complicit” in Russia’s “unjustified invasion” of Ukraine.

The individuals include former and current senior Russian government officials, oligarchs and supporters of the Russian leadership, Trudeau stated, speaking alongside his British and Dutch counterparts in London.

Several civilians killed in Makariv air raid

At least 13 civilians have been killed in an air raid on a bread factory in the town of Makariv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, according to local emergency services.

The services announced five people had been rescued from the building’s rubble, adding that about 30 people were believed to have been at the factory before the attack.

Lviv mayor appeals for international help amid mounting humanitarian crisis

The mayor of Lviv says his city, situated in western Ukraine, has reached the limits of its capacity to help people displaced by Russia’s assault and appealed to international organisations for help.

“We understand there will be another wave [of refugees] … and call on international humanitarian organisations to come here and help,” Andriy Sadoviy stated.

He added that several hundred thousand people had already passed through Lviv as they headed west seeking safety. Some 200,000 internally displaced persons were now staying in Lviv, and 50,000 were going through Lviv railway station daily, Sadoviy noted.

US senators fear setting up no-fly zone over Ukraine could spark ‘World War III’

US lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have shied away from Kiev’s request to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, citing the danger of a direct military confrontation with Russia.

“I think we need to be clear that we are not going to war with Russia. That would be the beginning of World War III, would drag all of Europe into a much broader war,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said in an interview with Fox News Sunday.

“One thing is certainly true: shooting down Russian planes would require a declaration of war from Congress – which isn’t happening,” Murphy later tweeted.

The senior Democrat’s remarks were echoed by Republicans including Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, who told Fox that the US does “not want to engage directly with Russians”.

“And I don’t think that’s in the best interest of NATO, our partners and allies and friends. But what we can do is provide all the defensive mechanisms for President Volodymyr Zelensky and his armed services to provide their own protected airspace. And that starts, of course, with providing air platforms to President Zelensky, making sure that those pilots are able to protect their own airspace,” she said.

The White House has repeatedly eschewed the idea of a US or NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Ukraine: Russian shelling preventing evacuation of civilians

Russian shelling is preventing the evacuation of civilians from Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv, Volnovakha and Mykolayiv, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has said.

“This prevents the safe passage of humanitarian columns with Ukrainian and foreign citizens, as well as the delivery of medicines and food,” it added.

The ministry called on foreign leaders to force Russia to observe a ceasefire to prevent what it said could be a humanitarian catastrophe.

Talks begin at Belarusian border

The third round of talks between delegations from Russia and Ukraine have begun at the Belarusian border, Ifax report.

Russia claims 30 Biolabs whose activities commissioned by Pentagon formed in Ukraine

A network comprised of some 30 biological laboratories was formed in Ukraine, with the activities conducted in these labs being commissioned by the US Ministry of Defense, Russia’s Defense Ministry has announced.

Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, head of Russian Armed Forces’ Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection Troops, stated that the biolabs’ activities, as well as the “so called reform program of Ukraine’s healthcare system executed by the US” have led to an increase in cases of “highly dangerous and economically significant infections”.

According to Kirillov, biological laboratiries in Lvov were conducting work with infectious agents of plague, anthrax and brucellosis; while the labs in Kharkov and Poltava were working with infectious agents of diphtheria, salmonellosis and dysentery.

Kirillov also declared that the government in Kiev had sent to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the United States thousands of patient’s serum samples, primarily from patients of “Slavic ethniticy”, under the pretext of testing COVID-19 treatment methods.

Moscow claims Kiev not informing civilians of evacuation corridors opened towards Russia

In its consent to opening humanitarian corridors, Kiev intentionally does not indicate those opened towards Russia from Kiev, Kharkov, Mariupol and Sumy, Head of the Inter-Agency Humanitarian Response Coordination Headquarters, Chief of Russia’s National Defense Control Center Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev claimed.

UK: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows NATO needs to spend more on defence

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shows that NATO needs to spend more on defence and improve the way the alliance works, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said.

She told MPs, “There’s no doubt that the West didn’t act early enough or decisively enough. The reality is President Putin did not take the threats of deterrence seriously enough.”

She told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, “What we have to do now is we have to strengthen NATO, we particularly have to strengthen the eastern flank. We have already deployed more troops into Estonia but there is more to do. We have to be serious about defence spending, right across NATO.”

Germany: Russian energy imports ‘essential’ to Europe

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has cautioned against banning Russian oil and gas as part of Western sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, saying doing so could put Europe’s energy security at risk.

“Europe has deliberately exempted energy supplies from Russia from sanctions,” Scholz announced in a statement.

“Supplying Europe with energy for heat generation, mobility, electricity supply and industry cannot be secured in any other way at the moment. It is therefore of essential importance for the provision of public services and the daily lives of our citizens,” he added.

UN says over 400 civilians killed amid Russia’s offensive

The UN’s human rights office (OHCHR) says it has confirmed the deaths of 406 civilians, including 27 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

OHCHR, which has monitors in Ukraine, warned the true death toll was likely much higher.

WHO confirms additional attacks on healthcare infrastructure

There have been at least seven attacks on Ukraine’s healthcare infrastructure since the beginning of Russia’s offensive, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“As of 7 March, nine verified incidents of attacks on health care in Ukraine have been published on the Surveillance System of Attacks on Healthcare (SSA), seven with “Confirmed” certainty level, and two with “Possible” certainty level,” a WHO official told the Reuters news agency in an email, referring to the organisation’s database.

The number of verified attacks was up from four the previous day.

The official gave no information on the perpetrators of the incidents since the WHO surveillance system has no mandate to collect information on them.

ICRC says evacuation route in Ukraine’s Mariupol mined

A road designated as a humanitarian corridor out of Ukraine’s Mariupol turned out to be mined, the director of operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

Dominik Stillhart told a BBC morning show that the ICRC was leading a convoy of displaced Ukrainian civilians out of the southern port city on Sunday. He did not say which side of the conflict was suspected of mining the route.

“Our people were leading that convoy. They arrived at the first checkpoint only to realize that the road they were supposed to take was actually mined,” Stillhart noted.

The health aid charity is holding conversations with Russia and Ukraine to organize military-to-military talks and agree on roads and times for evacuations, “otherwise it will be difficult… to facilitate the agreement”, Stillhart added.

Russian negotiator accuses Ukraine of a ‘war crime’

Russia’s chief negotiator in talks between Moscow and Kyiv accused Ukraine of blocking humanitarian corridors for civilians escaping advancing Russian forces, calling it a “war crime”.

“The nationalists who have seized positions in cities continue to hold civilians there,” Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky told state television.

He accused Kyiv of using the civilians as “a human shield” and said that “this is undoubtedly a war crime”.

He added the latest round of talks between the warring countries, taking place on the Poland-Belarus border, are focused around the corridors.

Kremlin: Sending weapons to Ukraine will lead to ‘global collapse’

Sending foreign weapons to Ukraine will lead to a “global collapse”m Interfax news agency cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying on Monday.

Another Russian agency, TASS, quoted foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying that the West sending mercenaries and military equipment to Ukraine would cause a catastrophic development of the situation there.

EU to discuss Ukraine’s membership bid this week

European Union leaders will discuss Ukraine’s application to join the 27-nation bloc in the coming days, EU Council President Charles Michel has stated.

“The EU’s solidarity, friendship and unprecedented assistance for Ukraine are unwavering. We will discuss Ukraine’s membership application in coming days,” Michel tweeted.

EU leaders are scheduled to discuss the war in Ukraine and the country’s bid to join the bloc at an informal summit in Paris on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a conversation with Michel that the Russian military is taking all possible measures to save the lives of civilians in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service stated.

Putin added that the main threats in Ukraine come from nationalist formations who use the civilian population as human shields.

Russian armed forces have announced ceasefires several times in order to ensure the evacuation of civilians, but Ukrainian nationalist battalions sabotaged the process by resorting to violence, Putin told Michel.

“The Russian president called on the European Union to make a real contribution to saving people’s lives, to put pressure on the Kiev authorities and force them to respect humanitarian law,” the statement read.

In addition, Putin briefed Michel on the course of negotiations with representatives of Kiev, confirming Russian demands, which include “demilitarisation and denazification” of Ukraine, recognition of Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, recognition of independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), Kiev’s commitment to a non-nuclear and neutral status, etc.

Hundreds of Ukrainian communities without electricity or water supply

Attacks by Russian forces have left more than 900 communities in Ukraine without any supplies of electricity, water and heating, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said.

“Barbarians of the XXI century. Russia damaged/destroyed 202 schools, 34 hospitals, 1500+ residential buildings,” Podolyak added.

His remarks came as Ukraine’s energy ministry reported 646,000 people across the country had no access to electricity, and that 130,000 were currently without gas.

Macron condemns Putin’s ‘moral cynicism’

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of hypocrisy and cynicism after Moscow said it would open humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several Ukrainian cities, but only to Russia or Belarus.

“All this is not serious, it is moral and political cynicism, which I find intolerable,” he told LCI television in an interview, adding that promises to protect civilians so that they could merely flee towards Russia were “hypocritical”.

Russia urges EU to convince Ukraine to respect humanitarian law

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a conversation with the President of the European Council Charles Michel that the Russian military is taking all possible measures to save the lives of civilians in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service stated.

“Vladimir Putin, in particular, stressed that the Russian military is taking all possible measures to save the lives of civilians,” the statement read.

Putin stated that the main threats in Ukraine come from nationalist formations who use the civilian population as human shields.

Russian armed forces have announced ceasefires several times in order to ensure the evacuation of civilians, but Ukrainian nationalist battalions sabotaged the process by resorting to violence, Putin told Michel.

“The Russian president called on the European Union to make a real contribution to saving people’s lives, to put pressure on the Kiev authorities and force them to respect humanitarian law,” the statement added.

Almost all of Moscow’s proposed evacuation routes out of Ukraine go to Russia or Belarus

The Ukrainian government has slammed Russia’s unilateral announcement of evacuation routes for civilians trying to escape the conflict.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Iryna Vereshchuk described the Russian proposal as unacceptable, particularly as all but one of the corridors leads to Russia or close ally Belarus.

EU working on further sanctions due to Kremlin’s “recklessness”

The European Union is preparing further sanctions on Russia due to “the Kremlin’s recklessness towards citizens (including) women, children (and) men”, the European Commission President said.

Speaking in Brussels ahead of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Ursula von der Leyen stated, “We are going to discuss, of course, the situation in Ukraine, the atrocious war led by Vladimir Putin.”

The two leaders will also discuss the a “new enforcement package,” she added.

“We had three packages of hard-hitting sanctions already, but now we have to make sure that there are no loopholes and that the effect of the sanctions is maximized,” von der Leyen said, adding, “The sanctions in place are really biting. We see the downward turbulences in the Russian economy.”

Von der Leyen, also noted the EU has to “get rid of the dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal”, and will present proposals tomorrow on ways the bloc can diversify its energy supply away from Russia.

Ukrainian security official: Russia planning to “encircle” city of Dnipro

Russia is mounting resources to “encircle” the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council said in a Facebook post.

“The Russian occupation forces command is shifting its focus to the South, trying to deprive Ukraine of access to the Black and Azov Seas, which, in their opinion, will create conditions for economic suppression of the Ukrainian Resistance,” the post from Danilov read.

“The enemy does not give up hopes to seize Kyiv and mounts resources to encircle Dnipro,” it continued, adding that Russia’s plan was to “encircle the major cities, exsanguinate the Ukrainian Armed Forces and create a situation of humanitarian catastrophe for civilians”.

Ukrainian FM again calls for NATO no-fly zone

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has called for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying Russian planes were targeting civilians.

“The Russian Air Force dominates in the skies and continues bombing our cities and killing many civilians,” Kuleba told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America”.

Johnson: Putin ‘doubling down’ on aggression

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine prove he is “doubling down” on his aggression and said allies must “do more” on sanctions in response.

“We want to go as fast as we can” on sanctions, Johnson added.

However, he reiterated the need to not get involved in an anti-Russian witch hunt warning that the world must not “play Putin’s game”

Russian military action will stop ‘in a moment’ if Ukraine meets conditions

Russia is demanding that Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent territories, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Peskov told Reuters that Russia had told Ukraine it was ready to halt its military action “in a moment” if Kyiv met its conditions.

It was the most explicit Russian statement so far of the terms it wants to impose on Ukraine to halt what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, now in its 12th day.

“We really are finishing the demilitarisation of Ukraine. We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action. They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot,” he added.

“They should make amendments to their constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc. We have also spoken about how they should recognise that Crimea is Russian territory and that they need to recognise that Donetsk and Luhansk are independent states. And that’s it. It will stop in a moment,” Peskov told Reuters.

Russia accuses Ukraine of thwarting humanitarian corridors

Russia’s defence ministry has accused Ukraine of not complying with agreements to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians, Interfax news agency reported.

Russia announced new “humanitarian corridors” earlier on Monday to transport Ukrainians trapped under its bombardment – to Russia itself and its ally Belarus, a move immediately denounced by Kyiv as an immoral stunt.

Local official says Ukrainian forces have retaken Mykolayiv regional airport

Ukrainian forces have recaptured the regional airport in Mykolayiv, southern Ukraine, from Russian troops, according to the region’s governor.

“The roads are open, we control the bridges, you can safely leave Mykolayiv [city] and other towns,” Vitaliy Kim announced in a televised statement.

Ukrainian police say thousands of civilians evacuated from Irpin

About 2,000 civilians have been evacuated from the town of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, according to a statement by local police.

The statement did not make clear over what period the evacuations had taken place.

Third round of Ukraine-Russia talks to be held soon

A third round of talks between delegations from Ukraine and Russia will start at 4pm Kyiv time (14:00 GMT), one of Kyiv’s negotiators, Mykhailo Podolyak, has stated.

The two sides agreed a tentative plan to create humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians during the second round of talks, held last Thursday.

Top Russian, Ukrainian diplomats to meet Thursday in Turkey

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba have agreed to meet at a forum in southern Turkey on Thursday, the first potential talks between the top diplomats since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the announcement in brief remarks to media on Monday, adding he would attend the meeting in the resort city of Antalya. Russian news agencies confirmed the plan.

Kiev promises ‘surprise’ for Moscow

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleskii Reznikov claimed that Kiev is receiving more military aid amid the ongoing Russian attack.

“I’m not going to comment on the deliveries of weapons and ammunition – it’s a delicate moment. Let there be a surprise for the enemy. Know this: there’s been a significant progress,” Reznikov wrote on social media on Monday.

The minister added Kiev has purchased more than 50,000 helmets and flak jackets, including the uniforms made for NATO member states.

Kremlin: Russia will finish demilitarization of Ukraine

Russia will finish the demilitarisation of Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“We really are finishing the demilitarization of Ukraine. We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military activity. They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot,” he added.

Russia was not seeking to make any further territorial claims on Ukraine, Peskov stressed.

US: NATO looking at more permanent deployment in Baltics

NATO is looking at further expanding its presence in Eastern Europe with more permanent positions being considered in the Baltic countries, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Monday.

“We’re continuing to do that now including with the deployment of additional forces, including American forces here to Lithuania, F-35 fighters, various pieces of important equipment, all of which is being deployed here (and) deployed to the other states in the Baltics,” Blinken stated at a news conference in the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius.

Speaking alongside Lithuanian Foreign Minister Garbrielius Landsbergis, Blinken continued, “At the same time, we’re continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments.

“All of that is under regular review and we’re engaged with NATO allies in doing just that,” he added.

He reiterated the US and allies’ commitment to NATO’s Article 5, which deems an attack on one country is an attack on all.

“If there is any aggression anywhere, on NATO territory on NATO countries, we the United States, all of our allies and partners will take action to defend every inch of NATO territory. It’s as clear and direct as that,” he continued.

ICRC: “Desperate” conditions in Mariupol as civilians seek safe passage out of city

In the besieged city of Mariupol, living conditions have badly deteriorated and civilians are unable to leave safely.

On Saturday, Ukrainian authorities said thousands of civilians remain trapped in the southeastern city and accused Russian forces of breaching an agreement to pause fire to allow safe passage out.

“The situation in Mariupol is desperate,” Mirella Hodeib, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told CNN.

“People are now in their 10th day without water, without electricity, living in shelters, shelters are packed. The essentials are missing, a lot of healthcare needs as well,” Hodeib stated, adding, “People need to have a safe passage to leave Mariupol and any other location where hostilities are active.”

According to Hodeib, the ICRC is “willing to facilitate” such a passage and is speaking to both Ukraine and Russia in a bid to safely evacuate civilians.

“Safe passage is mandatory under international humanitarian law and both parties would need to agree on providing safe passage to civilians leaving those areas,” she continued.

Dire conditions in Volnovakha as civilians hide underground for days on end

Fears are mounting for civilians trapped in the besieged southern Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha, as the onslaught from Russian forces continues.

One man, who escaped from Volnovakha two days ago, told CNN about the conditions in parts of the city, where he spent days hiding in a basement.

“People are there for 11 days now. Some got out, but around 450 are still there,” he said, adding that he has had no communication with the people since he left, and they are still there as far as he knows.

“People are sick. There is no toilet. Girls and women use a bucket for toilet and they take it out when there is no shelling,” he stated.

Food and water are very limited, he warned, and the basement only gets fresh air when there is no shelling — which is rare.

“It stinks a lot all the time. Children are vomiting. There is no place to lie down so people sleep sitting,” he told CNN.

Russian government approves list of unfriendly countries & territories

The Government of the Russian Federation has approved a list of foreign states and territories that commit unfriendly actions against Russia, its companies, and citizens.

The list includes the United States and Canada, the EU states, the UK (including Jersey, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar), Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, Albania, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, North Macedonia, and also Japan, South Korea, Australia, Micronesia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan (considered a territory of China, but ruled by its own administration since 1949).

The countries and territories mentioned in the list imposed or joined the sanctions against Russia after the start of a special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.

The government noted that according to this decree, Russian citizens and companies, the state itself, its regions and municipalities that have foreign exchange obligations to foreign creditors from the list of unfriendly countries will be able to pay them in rubles. The new temporary procedure applies to payments exceeding 10 mln rubles per month (or a similar amount in foreign currency).

Taiwan’s FM says China watching Western response to Ukraine crisis

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Beijing is closely watching the events in Ukraine to evaluate its strategy towards Taiwan.

“When we watch the events in Ukraine evolving … we are also watching very carefully what China may do to Taiwan,” Wu stated during a news conference on Monday.

“The danger will be that the Chinese leaders think that the Western reaction to the Russian aggression is weak and not coherent, and not having any impact. The Chinese might take that as a positive lesson,” he added.

“I’m sure the Chinese leaders [are] also watching and try[ing] to come up with their own conclusions,” he continued.

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stressed that the Taiwan question differs in nature from the Ukraine issue and the two are not comparable at all.

Euro tumbles 1 percent against dollar

The euro sank to its lowest level for nearly two years against the dollar this morning, pummelled by fears of sanctions on Russian energy that would hit the eurozone’s economic recovery, traders announced.

The euro slid 1.1 per cent to $1.0806. Elsewhere, the rouble hit a record-low 142.18 against the dollar.

Ukraine given nearly 20k anti-tank & anti-aircraft missiles so far

The United States and other NATO members have so far sent Ukraine 17,000 antitank missiles and 2,000 stinger anti-aircraft missiles, a senior US official told CNN.

Even before Russia’s invasion began February 24, the skies above Europe have been filled with military cargo aircraft of the US and others, particularly C-17s, the backbone of the US airlift fleet. The flights have been repositioning troops along NATO’s eastern flank, but also moving weapons to the transfer points where they can be delivered to Ukraine. The pace of the flights has only increased.

Once Russia’s invasion began, 14 countries have sent security assistance to Ukraine, some of whom had rarely sent such substantial equipment before, a senior Defense Department official previously told CNN

The “vast majority” of a $350 million US security assistance package has already been delivered to Ukraine, according to the official, only one week after it was officially approved by the White House.

Modi urges Putin to hold direct talks with Zelensky

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold direct talks with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone conversation, according to an Indian government source.

Modi, who spoke to Zelensky before a 50 minute-long call with Putin, was briefed by the Russian leader on the status of the negotiations between the two warring countries, the source said.

“Prime Minister Modi urged President Putin to hold direct talks with President Zelensky of Ukraine, in addition to the ongoing negotiations between their teams,” a source added.

Mayor of town near Kyiv killed by Russian fire

Russian forces have killed the mayor of Hostomel, a town near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that is home to a strategic airport, city authorities announced.

“The head of Hostomel, Yuri Illich Prylypko, died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick,” the city said on its Facebook page.

Prylypko was shot dead along with two others, it added, without specifying when.

“No-one forced him to go under the occupiers’ bullets,” it said, adding, “He died for his people, for Hostomel. He died a hero.”

Hostomel, northwest of Kyiv, is home to the strategic Antonov military airport, which was the site of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the first days of the war.

Blinken says additional 400 military will arrive in Lithuania from US in coming days

An additional 400 troops will arrive in Lithuania from the United States in the coming days, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted.

“An additional 400 personnel from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team will be arriving in Lithuania in the days to come,” Blinken told reporters during his visit to Lithuania, as broadcast by LRT.

He reiterated the US commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Charter, noting that in the event of aggression against NATO countries, the US, with partners and allies, will defend “every inch of NATO territory”.

Heavy fighting around Ukraine capital

There has been heavy fighting early on Monday in a broad area from the north to the west of Kyiv, according to Ukrainian officials and social media content.

Russian forces appear to have gone on the offensive in several areas to push towards the Ukrainian capital.

“With extreme rage, the enemy destroys Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel, Irpin. They deliberately kill civilians,” said Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko.

Multiple reports speak of heavy fire in all four districts on Monday as civilians continue to flee the fighting.

“We are doing everything in the capital to support the city, to create a reserve of food, medicines, essential goods. We distribute and provide aid to those who need it the most today. Humanitarian aid was also sent to Chernihiv [a city north of Kyiv],” Klitschko added.

“We are trying to deliver it to Bucha and Hostomel. We are forming humanitarian cargoes for some other cities. The capital is preparing for defense. I ask all Kyiv residents to keep calm, to stay at home, or — in case of alarm — in shelters,” Klitschko continued.

Russian forces continue offensive towards Mykolaiv

Russian troops continued an assault towards the strategic port city of Mykolaiv Monday morning, with officials warning residents to stay in their shelters.

Regional governor Vitali Kim, said in a Telegram message, “We are going on the offensive. The enemy entered our airport.”

The warning of an assault came hours after Mykolaiv Mayor Oleg Senkevich stated the city had been hit by Russian missiles at dawn.

Today all Mykolaiv woke up from sounds of the Russian attacks,” he wrote on Telegram, adding, “As throughout Ukraine, the enemy vilely aimed at the city’s apartment buildings.”

The mayor warned civilians not to touch unexploded ordnance.

One person had been killed and three injured in the shelling, an official at one Mykolaiv hospital told CNN.

Ukraine: Humanitarian corridors are still not open

Humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians out of Ukrainian cities are still not up and running, the country’s deputy prime minister has said.

Iryna Vereshchuk added there were nearly 300,000 civilians requiring evacuation from the key southeastern port city of Mariupol, which is under assault from Russian forces.

Zelensky calls for new sanctions against Moscow, boycott of Russian exports, rejection of oil & oil products

President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for imposing new sanctions on Russia, a boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products, as well as a boycott of imports.

“If the invasion continues and Russia has not abandoned its plans against Ukraine, then a new sanctions package is needed. New sanctions, new sanctions steps against war, for the sake of peace. Boycott of Russian exports, in particular, the rejection of oil and oil products from Russia, this can be called an embargo … Boycott of imports to Russia,” Zelensky stated.

He has also asked Kyiv’s allies to provide Ukraine with military aircraft.

Russian police detained 5,000 people at anti-war protests

Protest monitoring group OVD-Info says Russian police detained 5,020 people on Sunday for taking part in anti-war demonstrations held in dozens of cities throughout the country.

The rallies marked the latest in a string of anti-war demonstrations in Russia since Moscow launched its offensive.

More than 13,300 people have been arrested for taking part in the protests, according to protest monitoring group OVD-Info.

Russia shuns Ukraine war hearing at UN court

Russia has declined to attend a hearing at the UN’s top court today at which Ukraine is asking for an immediate order to halt the conflict, the head judge said.

“The court regrets the non-appearance of the Russian federation in these oral proceedings,” International Court of Justice President Joan Donoghue said.

Russia says six humanitarian corridors to be opened in Ukraine

Russia has announced that six humanitarian corridors will be opened around Ukrainian cities to allow civilians to escape.

“Detailed information about the humanitarian corridors was given to the Ukrainian side in advance,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov noted.

Macron denies requesting humanitarian corridors to Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron has denied requesting humanitarian corridors to lead into Russia, French news outlet BFMTV reports.

Reports have emerged that the corridors Russia has agreed to this morning will lead into Russian and Belarusian territory, rather than into EU and NATO member states. The corridor from Kyiv will lead to Belarus, and civilians from Kharkiv will only have a corridor leading to Russia. Corridors from the cities of Mariupol and Sumy will lead both to other Ukrainian cities and to Russia, AFP reports.

“The president of the Republic has neither requested nor obtained corridors to Russia after his conversation with Vladimir Putin,” the Elysee presidential palace told BFMTV, adding, “The president of the Republic insistently asks to let the civilian populations leave and to allow the transport of aid.”

“It’s another way for Putin to push his narrative and say that it is the Ukrainians who are the aggressors and they are the ones who offer asylum to everyone,” the Elysee presidential palace said.

Kyiv accuses Moscow of manipulation over humanitarian corridors

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has accused Moscow of trying to manipulate French President Emmanuel Macron and other Western leaders by demanding that any humanitarian corridors in Ukraine exit through Russia or Belarus.

Iryna Vereshchuk said Kyiv was calling on Russia to agree to a ceasefire to allow Ukrainians to evacuate towards the western Ukrainian city of Lviv instead.

Ukraine received Russia’s proposal concerning humanitarian corridors early on Monday morning after Macron held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vereshchuk told a televised briefing.

Airstrike at Ukraine’s Vinnytsia airport kills nine

Nine people were killed when Russia forces bombed the airport in Vinnytsia on Sunday, 124 miles southwest of the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian rescue services claimed.

“At 5.00am GMT on Monday, 15 people were pulled from the rubble. Nine of them were dead – five civilians and four soldiers,” Ukrainian rescue services said on Telegram, adding that they were continuing to look for survivors.

Report: US, NATO supplied Kiev with over 17,000 anti-tank weapons in less than 1 week

The United States and NATO have provided Ukraine with more than 17,000 anti-tank weapons in less than a week, The New York Times newspaper reported.

The supplies included Javelin missiles, which were transported over the borders of Poland and Romania. They were unloaded from giant military cargo planes so they can make the trip by land to Kiev and other major cities, the daily added.

MoD: Russia destroys 2,396 military facilities in Ukraine

Since the beginning of the military’s special operation, the Russian Armed Forces have destroyed 2,396 military facilities in Ukraine, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov claimed.

“In total, 2,396 military infrastructure facilities of Ukraine were destroyed during the operation. Among them: 82 control points and communication centres of the Ukrainian armed forces, 119 S-300, Buk M-1 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as 76 radar stations,” he said.

He specified that 827 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles, 84 multiple launch rocket systems, 304 field artillery and mortar guns, 603 units of special military vehicles, as well as 78 unmanned aerial vehicles were also destroyed.

The armed forces have taken control of six more settlements in Ukraine, Konashenkov added.

EU: 5 million people could flee Ukraine

As many as five million Ukrainians are expected to flee the country if Russia’s bombing of Ukraine continues, the EU’s top diplomat has said.

“We must prepare to receive around five million people … We must mobilise all the resources of the EU to help those countries receiving people,” Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU development ministers in Montpellier, France.

“We will need more schools, more reception centres, more of everything,” he added.

Borrell also pledged more scrutiny of EU aid spending in countries that have supported Russia diplomatically or abstained from criticising Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 12 Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 12

Ukrainian authorities claim Russia killed at least 8 people in Kharkiv

At least eight people have died as a result of Russian bombardments of residential areas in the northeastern city of Kharkiv over the last 24 hours, Ukraine’s Emergency Service said in a statement Monday.

The Emergency Service added a bombing that took place around 7:15 p.m. local time Sunday (12:15 p.m. ET) “completely or partially demolished” multi-story residential buildings, administrative buildings, medical institutions, educational institutions and dorms.

There were also large-scale fires in 21 buildings in the central part of the city, the Emergency Service reported.

About 200 people were rescued and evacuated by rescuers during the fires. Authorities are still gathering information about additional possible victims.

Ukraine says Russia’s stance on humanitarian corridors ‘completely immoral’

Ukraine has slammed as “completely immoral” Russia’s stance on humanitarian corridors after Moscow suggested it would allow people to flee Ukrainian cities provided they exited to Belarus or Russia.

A spokesman for President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Ukrainian citizens should be allowed to leave their homes through Ukrainian territory and accused Russia of deliberately hampering previous evacuation attempts.

“This is a completely immoral story. People’s suffering is used to create the desired television picture,” the spokesman said in a written message, adding, “These are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine.”

UK to lead on efforts to get Russia suspended from Interpol

Britain will lead international efforts to see Russia suspended from the global police agency Interpol, Interior Minister Priti Patel stated, after the invasion of Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian government has today requested that the Russian government be suspended from its membership of Interpol and we will be leading all international efforts to that effect,” Patel told parliament.

US gasoline prices soar to highest since 2008

US gasoline prices at the pump jumped 11% over the past week to the highest since late July 2008 as global sanctions cripple Russia’s ability to export crude oil after its invasion of Ukraine, automobile club AAA said.

AAA added average US regular grade gasoline prices hit $4.009 per gallon on Sunday, up 11% from $3.604 a week ago and up 45% from $2.760 a year ago.

The automobile club, which has data going back to 2000, said US retail gasoline prices hit a record $4.114 a gallon on July 17, 2008, which was around the same time US crude futures soared to a record $147.27 a barrel.

US gasoline futures , meanwhile, soared to a record $3.890 per gallon on Sunday.

European gas futures hit historic maximum at $3,600 per 1,000 cubic metres

Soaring European gas futures have hit a historic maximum, surging beyond $3,600 per 1,000 cubic meters, according to London-based ICE exchange.

China says friendship with Russia is ‘rock solid’

Beijing’s friendship with Moscow is “rock solid” and the prospects for cooperation are very broad, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

Cooperation between the two countries brings benefits and well-being to the two peoples, he told his annual news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual meeting of parliament.

Wang called for a focus on a long-term stability for the region and that outside actors must stop interfering in Sino-Russian relations.

He also announced China’s Red Cross will provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine as he reiterated a call for talks to continue.

China is “willing to work with the international community to carry out necessary mediation”, he added.

Ukraine armed forces: Russian troops to storm Kyiv

The General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said in a Monday bulletin that Russian troops were preparing to storm Kyiv.

The statement added that Russian troops were aiming to take full control of Irpin and Bucha, two cities on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Russian troops were “trying to provide a tactical advantage to reach the eastern outskirts of Kyiv through the Brovarsky and Boryspil districts”, according to the bulletin.

Interior Ministry advisor Vadym Denysenko said on Ukrainian television that a “fairly large amount of Russian military equipment and Russian troops are concentrated at the approaches to Kyiv”, as cited by Ukrayinska Pravda.

“We understand that the battle for Kyiv is a key battle which will be fought in the coming days,” Denysenko added.

UK intelligence: Russian likely seeking to reduce Ukraine’s access to news

Russia is probably targeting Ukraine’s communication infrastructure to reduce access to reliable news sources, Britain’s Ministry of Defense has announced.

“Russia is probably targeting Ukraine’s communications infrastructure in order to reduce Ukrainian citizens’ access to reliable news and information,” a defense intelligence update posted on Twitter said.

“Ukrainian internet access is also highly likely being disrupted as a result of collateral damage from Russian strikes on infrastructure,” it added.

France: Still room for further sanctions against Russia

France and Europe still have margin for manoeuvre to implement further sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

“Yes there are margins for manoeuvre. All options are on the table,” Le Maire told BFM television and RMC Radio.

The 27-nation European Union bloc has imposed three packages of sanctions on Moscow over its aggression on Ukraine, including freezing Russian central bank assets and disconnecting seven Russian banks from the SWIFT financial-messaging system.

It is necessary to have an open channel of communication with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the events in Ukraine, Le Drian said on the France 2 television channel.

“it is absolutely necessary to keep a channel of communication with Vladimir Putin,” Le Drian added, pointing out that “we are not at war against Russia, we are in solidarity with the Ukrainians”.

Russia warns German weapons meant for Ukraine may fall into hands of terrorists

Moscow is disappointed with Berlin’s decision to supply weapons to Ukraine and concerned that these weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists, Oleg Tyapkin, the head of the Russian foreign ministry’s Third European Department, said in an interview with Sputnik.

“We are deeply disappointed that the German government, in violation of its own national legislation and legal restrictions at the EU level, has deviated from its previously balanced course on this issue, which was due, among other things, to considerations of historical responsibility on the part of Germany towards the peoples of the former USSR,” Tyapkin added.

Russia is also “seriously concerned about the fact that the weapons supplied to Ukraine in the current situation can become easy prey for terrorists and looters”, the diplomat added.

Berlin has fully agreed with the anti-Russian position of the West, blocking the channels of dialogue with Moscow, he pointed out.

Human Rights Watch slams Russia’s “ruthless effort to suppress all dissent”

The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned Russia’s crackdown on media following the invasion of Ukraine, saying the violation of freedom of expression and access of information “cannot be justified under international law even in times of war”.

“These new laws are part of Russia’s ruthless effort to suppress all dissent and make sure the population does not have access to any information that contradicts the Kremlin’s narrative about the invasion of Ukraine,” said Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia director, in the statement.

“The Kremlin is wiping out all options for dissent to ensure that brave anti-war protesters do not return to the streets,” he added.

“When President Vladimir Putin goes after such a fundamental right – the cornerstone of democracy – with such totalitarian tactics, he is dispensing with any pretense that his government has any respect for rule of law, human rights, or democracy,” he continued.

Japan in talks with US, Europe over banning Russian oil imports

Japan, which counts Russia as its fifth-biggest supplier of crude oil, is in discussion with the United States and European countries about possibly banning Russian oil imports, Kyodo News Agency reported.

The report comes after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Sunday the United States and European allies were exploring the possibility.

Asked about a potential embargo on Russian oil imports, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined to comment on the country’s communication with the United States. Russia accounted for 3.63 percent of Japan’s imports of crude oil last year.

While sanctions imposed on Russia are not expected to directly affect Japan’s ability to ensure a stable supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG), they could indirectly affect energy-related projects, Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda noted.

Stocks sink while oil soars after US & allies consider banning Russian oil

Stocks are tumbling Monday as oil prices are soaring to the highest level in 13 years, raising fears about a further spike in inflation that could damage the global economy.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index sank as much as 5% in morning trading. It was last down 3.4%, on track to log its worst daily drop in seven months. Japan’s Nikkei 225 tumbled 3.6%. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 2.5%. China’s Shanghai Composite lost 1%.

On the US market, Dow futures fell 450 points, or 1.3%. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 1.6% and 2% respectively.

Russia accuses Ukraine of preparing a nuclear false flag

Ukraine’s domestic security service, the SBU, allegedly conspired with Azov Battalion fighters to stage a false flag attack in Kharkov, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow claimed. According to the defense ministry, the ultranationalist militants allegedly rigged a small experimental nuclear reactor at the Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT) with explosives.

Ukraine says foreigners from 52 countries joined fight against Russia

Volunteers from 52 countries around the world have arrived in Ukraine to join its fight against Russia, the country’s foreign minister said.

The world stands with Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba stated during an online news conference.

He recalled President Volodymyr Zelensky’s plea for volunteers to support Ukraine in its war against Russia. Kuleba added they are evaluating requests as many veterans and volunteers are arriving in the country.

Russia to open humanitarian corridors

The Russian military will hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv at 10:00 Moscow time (07:00 GMT) on Monday, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s Defence Ministry as saying.

The corridors, which will also be opened from the cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, are being set up at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron and in view of the current situation in those cities, it added.

Ukraine, Russia prepare for third round of peace talks

After nearly two weeks of war, Ukraine and Russia are expected to meet for the third round of negotiations, which both sides announced could take place on Monday.

The location and exact time for the talks were unclear.

The two delegations last met in the Brest region in western Belarus for two rounds of peace talks and agreed to have humanitarian corridors in place in the embattled cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.

Gold rises above $2,000 on soaring Ukraine fears

Gold has risen to more than $2,000 in Asian trade as investors flee to the safe-haven commodity over fears about the effect of the Ukraine war on the global economy.

The precious metal hit a peak of $2,000.86 an ounce, its highest level since September 2020.

Traders have been sent running to safety as Russia continues with its invasion of Ukraine, which has battered equity markets and sent oil prices to a 14-year high, adding further upward pressure to already high inflation.

New Zealand ramps up sanctions on Russia

Russians will be prevented from moving their assets to New Zealand and from sailing their super yachts into its waters once the country passes a new raft of sanctions this week.

“A Bill of this nature has never been brought before our Parliament, but with Russia vetoing UN sanctions we must act ourselves to support Ukraine and our partners in opposition to this invasion,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

“When we first responded to Russia’s invasion by issuing targeted travel bans, prohibiting exports to the military and suspending bilateral foreign ministry consultations we said no options were off the table,” she continued, adding, “Today we take the next step in our response to increase sanctions, in line with the actions of our partners.”

“This Bill is specific to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will allow new sanctions to be applied as approved by the Foreign Minister,” she noted.

Australian missiles ‘on ground’ in Ukraine

After Australia last week promised Ukraine $50m in missiles, ammunition and other military hardware to fight Russian invaders, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday stated, “Our missiles are on the ground now.”

He also described Russia and China’s closer relationship as opportunistic rather than strategic, labelling the alliance as an “arc of autocracy”. He added Russia and China would prefer a new world order to the one that has been in place since World War II.

Morrison criticised Beijing’s failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s expansion of trade in Russian wheat while other countries are imposing sanctions.

US Congress to ‘explore’ Russian oil ban

United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated the chamber is “exploring” legislation to ban the import of Russian oil and that Congress intends to enact this week $10bn in aid for Ukraine in response to Russia’s military invasion of its neighbour.

“The House is currently exploring strong legislation that will further isolate Russia from the global economy,” Pelosi said in a letter.

“Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organisation,” she added.

The US government is consulting with its European allies on a potential import ban of oil from Russia.

“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,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN.

The debate also revolved around “making sure that there is still an appropriate supply of oil on world markets”, Blinken said, adding, “That’s a very active discussion as we speak.”

US President Joe Biden has not explicitly ruled out such a move.

Ukraine official: Russia steps up nighttime shelling of cities

Russian forces have stepped up their shelling of Ukrainian cities in the centre, north and south of the country, Ukraine Presidential Adviser Oleksiy Arestovich claimed.

“The latest wave of missile strikes came as darkness fell,” he said on Ukrainian television.

He added the areas that came under heavy shelling include the outskirts of Kyiv, Chernihiv in the north, Mykolaiv in the south, and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.

Ukraine says Russia sanctions not sufficient

President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the West to strengthen sanctions on Russia.

In a video statement, he criticised Western leaders for not responding to the Russian defence ministry’s earlier announcement that it would attack Ukraine’s military-industrial complex.

“I didn’t hear even a single world leader react to this,” Zelensky said, adding, “The audacity of the aggressor is a clear signal to the West that the sanctions imposed on Russia are not sufficient.”

Zelensky also called for organising a “tribunal” to bring to justice those who order and carry out such crimes.

“Think about the sense of impunity of the occupiers that they can announce such planned atrocities,” he stated.

As one attempt after another to evacuate people from towns and cities failed, Zelensky expressed outrage over what he said was the failure of Russia to honor limited cease-fire agreements.

“Instead of humanitarian corridors, they can only make bloody ones,” he stated.

Report: Russia looks to recruit Syrians into Ukraine war

Russian officials are looking to recruit Syrian soldiers to fight in Ukraine as battles are set to intensity in and around major cities, The Wall Street Journal has claimed.

US officials told the Journal that Moscow is specifically recruiting Syrian fighters for their expertise in urban combat fighting.

Oil price surges to highest since 2008

Oil prices soared to their highest since 2008 due to delays in the potential return of Iranian crude to global markets and as the United States and European allies consider banning imports of Russian oil.

Brent rose $11.67, or 9.9%, to $129.78 a barrel by 6:50 p.m. EST (2350 GMT), while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose $10.83, or 9.4%, to $126.51, putting both contracts on track for their highest daily percentage gains since May 2020.

In the first few minutes of trade on Sunday, both benchmarks rose to their highest since July 2008 with Brent at $139.13 a barrel and WTI at $130.50.

Both contracts hit their highest in July 2008 with Brent at $147.50 a barrel and WTI at $147.27.

US gasoline and distillate futures followed the surge in crude prices in the first few minutes after the market opened on Sunday, rising to record highs.

Anonymous has reportedly hacked into Russian TV channels 

The hacking group Anonymous has reportedly hacked into the Russian streaming services and TV channels to broadcast footage of the war in Ukraine.

Social media users and local media said streaming services Wink and Ivi and live TV channels Russia 24, Channel One, Moscow 24 were hijacked with scenes from the conflict.

‘Russian occupiers will try to seize Kyiv very soon’

An advisor to interior minister of Ukraine said Russian occupiers will try to seize Kyiv very soon, local media reported.

Vadym Denysenko stated Russia has concentrated a “sufficient number of troops and equipment” near the capital, and the “key battle in the war” will take place in the next few days, the Kyiv Independent reported.

Zelensky: ‘We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war’

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky said, “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war.”

“Today, a family of four, parents and two children, were killed in Irpin as they were trying to leave the city. We will not forgive. We will not forget,” he stated.

“The audacity of the aggressor is a clear signal for the West that the imposed sanctions aren’t enough,” Zelensky continued, adding, “You can’t hide from this reality. You can’t hide from the new killings in Ukraine.”

Ukraine and Russia to face off at World Court over genocide claim 

Ukraine will ask the United Nations’ top court on Monday to issue an emergency ruling requiring Russia to stop its invasion, arguing that Moscow’s justification for the attack is based on a faulty interpretation of genocide law, Reuters reports.

Although the court’s rulings are binding and countries generally follow them, it has no direct means of enforcing them.

Ukraine suspends exports of some products as risk of food shortages grows

Ukraine has suspended exports of some food products, its government announced.

Exports of “meat, rye, oats, buckwheat, sugar, millet and salt” will be halted, a Ukrainian government statement said.

Exports of wheat, corn, poultry, eggs and oil will be allowed only with the permission of the Ministry of Economy, added the statement.

Supermarkets across the country are running short of produce as supply routes become more difficult.

Eight civilians dead after shelling hits district

Eight civilians were killed in the midst of an evacuation in Irpin — a district west of Kyiv that saw intense shelling on Sunday — the mayor of Irpin Oleksandr Markushyn said in a statement on Telegram.

Markushyn added Russians opened fire during an evacuation across a bridge.

“A family died,” he stated, “in front of my eyes two small children and two adults died.”

Photos and Video from the scene showed civilians moving through the checkpoint before an explosion occurred at a crossroads that appeared to be caused by a shell or mortar.

“Irpin is at war, Irpin has not surrendered,” Markushyn continued, noting, “Part of Irpin was indeed captured by Russian invaders, but part of Irpin is fighting and not surrendering.”

US: Russia fired 600 missiles; 95% of amassed combat power now in Ukraine

Russia has fired a total of 600 missiles since its invasion of Ukraine began, a senior US defense official said, and it has committed approximately 95% of its amassed combat power inside Ukraine.

The US observed ongoing fighting in Kherson and Mykolaiv on Sunday and Russian forces are still trying to encircle Kyiv, Khakhiv, Chernihiv, and Mariupol, according to the official.

But the advances have been met with strong Ukrainian resistance, slowing the Russian assault.

The massive Russian convoy north of Kyiv that spans some 40 miles of road remains stalled, but there is no update on how far it is from Kyiv. Late last week, it was approximately 16 miles (25 kilometers) from Kyiv’s city center.

The skies above Kyiv remain contested, and both Ukrainians and Russians retain a significant majority of their air combat power.

“We believe the Ukrainian people in most parts of the country still have means of communication, access to internet and the media,” the official added.

The official also stated the US has not observed an amphibious assault near Odessa and they do not assess one is imminent.

50 Russian diplomats including their family members leave NYC for Moscow

Nearly 50 Russian diplomats including their family members left New York for Moscow Sunday, according to Russian state news agency RIA.

It follows a request last week by the Deputy Representative of the United States to the United Nations that 12 Russian UN diplomats leave the US by March 7.

The US asked for the removal of the diplomats due to their alleged engagement in “activities that were not in accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as diplomats”, Ambassador Richard Mills said during a UN Security Council meeting last Monday.

Kharkiv radio & TV broadcasts knocked out by Russian military strikes

Television and radio broadcasts have been knocked out in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, after Russian military strikes, according to the regional administration.

The regional administration announced, “repeated shelling” of the TV tower in Kharkiv had knocked out tv and radio broadcasting.

“Areas of the building housing technical equipment were destroyed, and it the extent of damage to the towers themselves is still being assessed,” the department added,

On March 1, Russian military strikes targeted Kyiv’s TV Tower, also resulting in an interruption in its broadcast capabilities.

Police brutally beat anti-war protesters in St. Petersburg

Anti-war demonstrators in St. Petersburg were violently beaten by police Sunday, photos and videos posted to social media show.

Macron speaks to Zelensky about call with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and updated him on his earlier call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a read out from the Élysée Palace.

“The President of the Republic talked to President Zelensky about his call today with President PUTIN, during which the latter gave his agreement for joint effort to be undertaken on the basis of the recommendations of the International Agency for Atomic Energy in order to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine,” the statement said.

Macron had voiced his “grave concern” about nuclear safety during a call with Putin earlier on Sunday.

In his call with Zelensky, Macron had “reiterated the absolute necessity to avoid any attack on the integrity of Ukrainian civil nuclear facilities”.

According to the Élysée, the humanitarian situation was also discussed and Macron had told Zelensky that he will pay “close attention to the needs of Ukraine and France will continue to increase its support in this area”.

Ukrainian military knocks out Russian artillery position near Mykoliav

The Ukrainian military has reportedly knocked out a Russian military artillery position near Mykoliav in southern Ukraine, according to Vitali Kim, the area’s regional governor.

IAEA: Russian forces switched off some mobile networks and internet at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Russian forces have switched off some mobile networks and the internet at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, according to Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a statement, the IAEA said that this meant that “reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through the normal channels of communication.”

Ukraine’s nuclear regulator confirmed that it had started having major problems communicating with staff operating the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, according to the statement.

The IAEA added that there were also problems with food availability and supply at the plant.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is now under orders from the commander of Russian forces that took control of the site last week, according to the IAEA.

American Express becomes latest credit card company to suspend operations in Russia

American Express is the latest credit card company to announce it is ending its operations in Russia as its invasion into Ukraine escalates.

Mastercard announced Saturday it was suspending its network services in Russia, and Visa also announced Saturday it was suspending all operations there.

Netflix suspends service in Russia

Netflix announced it will stop selling and providing its streaming video service in Russia for the time being.

TikTok suspends posting of new videos from Russia

Social media giant TikTok has announced it is suspending the posting of all video content from Russia in order to keep its employees safe and comply with the country’s new regulations.

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