Sunday, March 3, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 229

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

UN set to meet after Russia strikes in Ukraine

The United Nations General Assembly has met hours after Russia launched a deadly barrage of missile strikes at cities across Ukraine, as Western powers condemned Moscow’s latest attacks and sought to underscore its isolation.

The United Nations called the urgent meeting to discuss Russia’s declared annexation of four partly occupied Ukrainian regions, but the debate was set to be overshadowed by the attacks on Kyiv and other cities in one of the most punishing assaults on Ukraine in months.

Ahead of the General Assembly session, and with tensions at a boiling point, UN chief Antonio Guterres described Russia’s attacks as an “unacceptable escalation of the war,” his spokesman stated.

Ukrainian energy ministry halting electricity exports due to Russian missile strikes

The Ukrainian energy ministry has announced it will halt exports of electricity following Russian missile strikes on energy infrastructure.

“Today’s missile strikes, which hit the thermal generation and electrical substations, forced Ukraine to suspend electricity exports from October 11, 2022 to stabilise its own energy system,” the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Ukraine’s energy minister Herman Halushchenko stated Russian attacks on the energy system were “the biggest during the entire war.”

In a TV broadcast, he added that missile strikes “on the entire chain of supply (were made) in order to make switching supply as difficult as possible.”

Russia: US ‘encouragement’ of Ukraine complicates diplomatic solution

Russia is open for diplomacy, but Washington’s encouragement of  Ukraine’s “bellicose mood” complicates diplomatic efforts to solve the conflict, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

“We repeat once again specially for the American side: the tasks that we set in Ukraine will be solved,” Zakharova wrote on the ministry website.

“Russia is open for diplomacy and the conditions are well known. The longer Washington encourages Kyiv’s bellicose mood and encourages rather than hinders the terrorist undertakings of Ukrainian saboteurs, the more difficult will be the search for diplomatic solutions,” she added.

Biden condemns Putin’s strikes in Ukraine and says US and allies will continue to “impose costs” on Russia

US President Joe Biden said Russian missile strikes hitting Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine on Monday “once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. [Vladimir] Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.”

“These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Biden wrote in a statement Monday.

“Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom,” he added.

“We again call on Russia to end this unprovoked aggression immediately and remove its troops from Ukraine,” Biden continued.

The US president is expected to join a call with G7 leaders on Tuesday, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address the group.

Secretary of State Blinken reiterated US support for Ukraine in call with foreign minister

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Monday to reiterate the United States’ support following the deadly Russian strikes on Ukraine.

“I just spoke with Dmytro Kuleba to reiterate U.S. support for Ukraine following the Kremlin’s horrific strikes this morning. We will continue to provide unwavering economic, humanitarian, and security assistance so Ukraine can defend itself and take care of its people,” Blinken tweeted.

Additionally, US ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink met with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky says government is working to restore power supplies across Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting with officials to discuss restoring communications and energy supply after the latest wave of Russian strikes.

He said in a post on Telegram that the “enemy has damaged our energy infrastructure, but now we are doing everything necessary to quickly restore electricity supply.”

“The infrastructure that provides mobile communication was not damaged. In some places, there were interruptions due to lack of power supply,” Zelensky stated, adding, “It is important to reduce electricity consumption from 5 to 10 pm. This will ease the load on our power grid and reduce the need for emergency outages.”

“We are holding on. We are working. We are united,” he continued.

At the same time, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said that dozens of missiles had hit energy infrastructure in 11 regions and the capital city of Kyiv. “Power supply has been disrupted in almost the whole of Ukraine. Eight regions suffer water supply problems,” he said.

“Preliminary data shows most of the energy facilities will be reconnected today. The rest will start working tomorrow,” he noted.

“Power is back in Sumy already. We are on the way in Zhytomyr and Kharkiv. Emergency schedule of turning the power off is in place in Kyiv and Kyiv region, Chernigiv, Cherkassy and Zhytomyr regions,” Shmygal added.

UN secretary general “deeply shocked” by Russian missile attacks: Spokesperson

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is “deeply shocked” following Russia’s missile strikes on Ukraine on Monday, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric stated in a statement.

“The Secretary-General is deeply shocked by today’s large-scale missile attacks by the armed forces of the Russian Federation on cities across Ukraine that reportedly resulted in widespread damage to civilian areas and led to dozens of people being killed and injured,” the spokesperson said.

“This constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price,” the statement added.

Guterres spoke Monday morning with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Dujarric noted, specifying that the phone call covered the ongoing situation in Ukraine, besides the missile strikes.

At least 11 killed in missile attacks: State Emergency Service of Ukraine

At least 11 people were killed and 64 others wounded by Russia’s missile strikes across Ukraine on Monday morning, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported.

The agency said in a Telegram post that four regions had also been left with no electricity following the attacks – Lviv, Poltava, Sumy and Ternopil. It added that the electricity supply had been partially disrupted in other parts of the country.

National police had previously put the death toll from Monday morning’s strikes at 10.

NATO chief condemns “Russia’s horrific and indiscriminate attacks” in Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg criticized “Russia’s horrific and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”

Stoltenberg tweeted that he had spoken with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

He added that NATO “will continue supporting the brave Ukrainian people to fight back against the Kremlin’s aggression for as long as it takes.”

European allies roundly condemned Russian airstrikes that hit Kyiv and other major Ukrainian cities on Monday morning.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, has unequivocally labelled today’s actions by Russia as war crimes.

“Russia’s horrendous attacks against Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine show the desperation of the Kremlin. These indiscriminate attacks on civilians are war crimes. [We are] committed to supporting Ukraine and holding [the] Russian regime accountable. We’ll address this with our G7 partners,” He tweeted.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said, “Deeply shocked by Russia’s attacks on civilians in Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine. Such acts have no place in (the) 21st century. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

“We stand with Ukraine. Additional military support from the EU is on its way,” Borrell tweeted Monday.

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also tweeted on Monday that she is “shocked and appalled by the vicious attacks on Ukrainian cities.”

“Putin’s Russia has again shown the world what it stands for: brutality and terror. I know that Ukrainians will stay strong. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, with all the means we have,” the tweet reads.

The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola tweeted on Monday that “what is happening now in Kyiv is sickening. It shows the world, again, the regime we are faced with: One that targets indiscriminately. One that rains terror & death down on children. This is criminal. They will be held to account. Ukraine will win. Europe will not look away.”

Russian ex-President says Ukraine strikes only ‘first episode’

Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president who is closely allied with Vladimir Putin, has described Moscow’s latest attacks on Ukraine as only the “first episode”.

Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said in a Telegram post that Russia, along with protecting its people and borders, should “aim for the complete dismantling of Ukraine’s political regime”.

He alleged that “the Ukrainian state in its current configuration with the Nazi political regime will continue to pose a permanent, direct and clear threat to Russia”.

Russia has repeatedly sought to cast the government of the Ukrainian president of Nazi inclinations – claims which have been mocked by Ukraine and its allies as absurd.

Red Cross pauses Ukraine operations for security reasons

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has temporarily halted its work in Ukraine for security reasons following Russia’s missile attacks, a spokesperson for the aid organisation has told the Reuters news agency.

The ICRC has some 700 staff working at 10 locations across the country and delivers aid and medicine, including to the millions of people displaced by the ongoing conflict.

The spokesperson’s remarks came after the Norwegian Refugee Council also announced that it had halted its aid operations in Ukraine until it was safe to resume work.

Putin threatens ‘harsh’ response to ‘terrorist attacks’ against Russia

President Vladimir Putin has threatened a “harsh response” if attacks continue against Russia, hours after his troops launched a massive wave of strikes targeting cities across Ukraine in response to an attack on the Kerch bridge linking Russia and Crimea.

In televised remarks, Putin once again blamed Ukraine for the Kerch Bridge attack, describing it as an “act of terrorism”.

Russia had launched long-range missile attacks against Ukraine’s energy, military and communications infrastructure today in retaliation for the bridge attack, he noted.

Speaking at a security council meeting in St Petersburg this morning, Putin stated, “If attacks continue against Russia, the response will be harsh.”

“The responses will be of the same scale as the threats to Russia,” the president continued, adding, “In the event of further attempts to carry out terrorist acts on our territory, Russia’s response will be harsh.”

Ukraine appeals for more air defense weapons after explosions rock multiple cities

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has appealed for more air defense systems in the wake of a devastating wave of nationwide attacks launched by Russia.

Kuleba tweeted he had spoken to his Canadian counterpart and stressed that “partners should join forces to immediately provide Ukraine with air and missile defense systems.”

Kuleba will cut his Africa trip short to return to Ukraine and work with Kyiv’s allies to coordinate “a resolute response.”

The deadly explosions across Ukraine on Monday morning prompted stinging rebukes from Kyiv.

President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Russians are “trying to annihilate us,” while Kuleba called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a terrorist who talks with missiles.”

Ukraine PM: 11 infrastructure facilities in eight regions and Kyiv damaged by Russian strikes

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated 11 infrastructure facilities in eight regions and in the capital of Kyiv were damaged in Russian strikes so far on Monday morning.

“11 important infrastructure facilities in eight regions and the city of Kyiv were damaged,” Reuters reports Shmyhal said on the Telegram messaging app.

“Now some areas are cut off. It is necessary to be prepared for temporary interruptions of light, water supply and communication,” he added.

Ukraine’s defence ministry vows revenge for missile strikes

Ukraine’s defence ministry announced it will seek revenge for Russian missile strikes that have hit cities across the country.

“There is sacrifice amongst people and destruction,” the ministry said on its Facebook page.

“The enemy will be punished for the pain and death brought upon our land! We will get our revenge!” it added.

Ukraine says Russia launched 75 missiles in flurry of strikes

Russian forces launched at least 75 missiles at Ukraine during a flurry of strikes on several cities on Monday morning, the head of the Ukrainian military has claimed.

“The terrorist country, Russia, has carried out massive missile and air strikes on the territory of Ukraine, also using attack drones. In the morning, the aggressor launched 75 missiles. 41 of them were shot down by our air defence,” General Valeriy Zaluzhny stated.

There was no immediate response from Russia.

‘Russian question must be solved by force’: Ukrainian presidential aide

A senior aide to the Ukrainian president has said Russian rocket strikes across Ukraine were a signal to the “civilised world” that “the Russia question” must be solved with force.

“Cowards fighting playgrounds, children and people,” Andriy Yermak, the head of the president’s office, said shortly before further blasts rocked the capital following missile strikes earlier on Monday.

“This is another signal to the civilised world that the Russian question must be solved by force,” he added.

Russia timed strikes to inflict maximum damage: Zelensky

Ukraine’s president has accused Russia of deliberately timing missile strikes in several cities throughout the country to inflict the greatest possible number of casualties.

Volodymyr Zeelsnky stated Russia had also targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during the attacks.

“They want panic and chaos, they want to destroy our energy system,” he said in a video post that showed him outside his presidential office.

“The second target is people. Such a time and such targets were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible,” he added.

Ukraine’s foreign minister says “Putin is a terrorist who talks with missiles”

After reports of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine on Monday morning, Kyiv’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will not break Ukraine down.”

“Putin’s only tactic is terror on peaceful Ukrainian cities, but he will not break Ukraine down. This is also his response to all appeasers who want to talk with him about peace: Putin is a terrorist who talks with missiles,” Kuleba tweeted.

Amid multiple explosions in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities early Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Russia was trying to annihilate Ukraine.

At least five people were killed in the attacks on Kyiv. Regional authorities also reported missile and rocket attacks in Kharkiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk Monday morning.

Widespread power outages across Ukraine’s Sumy region following Russian strikes

Authorities in Sumy, in the northeast of Ukraine, say there are power outages across the region following missile attacks Monday.

“There are power outages in all districts of the region. In some places, because of it, there are problems with water supply,” stated Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, head of the Sumy military administration.

“In Konotop, two missiles hit an infrastructure facility. There are wounded.
“The alert continues, stay in shelters,” he added.

“Critical infrastructure” hit in Lviv: Mayor

Power cuts were reported in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Monday following an explosion “at a critical infrastructure facility,” Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi posted on Telegram.

“Part of the city is without electricity. A third of the traffic lights do not work,” Sadovyi wrote.

“Due to the lack of electricity, the operation of the city’s thermal power stations has been temporarily suspended. Therefore, hot water is not provided at the moment,” he said.

Standby power generators at several pumping stations were started to restore the water supply, he added.

Sadovyi urged residents to stay in shelters.

The wave of missile and rocket attacks Monday across Ukraine appears to have been in part directed at power plants, bridges and other civilian infrastructure. In addition to Lviv, attacks were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

Regional authorities across Ukraine report missile and rocket attacks

Authorities in several Ukrainian cities are reporting rocket and missile attacks Monday morning.

In central Dnipropetrovsk, Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the regional military administration, said there had been a “massive rocket attack on the region. There are dead and wounded.”

“Do not come out of the shelters. There is still a threat of rocket attacks,” Reznichenko posted on Telegram.

Authorities in northeastern Kharkiv also reported attacks. Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv military administration, said there were explosions in the city.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said “initial reports indicate three strikes on Kharkiv.”

“The impact was at an energy infrastructure facility. Some areas of the city lost power, there is no water supply,” he added.

In the south, Vitalii Kim, head of the Mykolaiv region civil military administration, stated Tu-95 bombers had launched waves of missile attacks, with 47 “projectiles” fired.

Air defenses had shot down three rockets, he said. The Russians were also using Iranian-made attack drones, he added.

“Cowards are hitting the critical infrastructure (throughout all Ukraine),” Kim continued.

Explosions were also reported early Monday in the western city of Lviv and the capital, Kyiv, where at least five people were killed. Casualties were also reported in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia after a Russian missile strike destroyed an apartment block.

Zelensky: Russians are “trying to annihilate us” after attacks Monday morning

Amid multiple explosions in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities early Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated Russia was trying to annihilate Ukraine.

“This is the 229th day of the full-scale war. This is the 229th day they are trying to annihilate us and wipe us off the face of the earth. That’s it, in a nutshell,” Zelensky said on Telegram.

“They are trying to slaughter our people who are sleeping in their homes in Zaporizhzhia. They are trying to kill people who are on their way to work in Dnipro and Kyiv,” he added.

“All over Ukraine, the air raid sirens will not abate. Rockets continue to strike. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded. I ask you: do not leave your shelters. Stay safe and take care of your families. Let’s hang in there and be strong,” the president noted.

“Around 5” people killed in Kyiv strikes: Ukrainian official

“Around five” people are dead after four apparent Russian strikes hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv Monday morning, according to a Ukrainian official.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, also noted that 12 people were injured in the attacks.

“All of them are civilians who were driving or walking in the center of Kyiv,” Gerashchenko wrote on Twitter.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has confirmed that strikes hit the Shevchenkivskyi and Solomianskyi districts of the city and advised residents to take shelter.

Kyiv subway suspends trains following missile attacks

Train traffic on all subway lines is suspended in Kyiv, the city’s official Telegram account said on Monday morning.

Underground stations are working as shelters, the post added.

Earlier, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister said the red line of Kyiv’s metro system is being used as a bomb shelter.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has advised residents to take shelter after explosions were reported in the capital. At least five people are dead and 12 injured, officials confirmed.

Children’s playground hit in Kyiv attack: Ukrainian official

A children’s playground was among the sites hit by a rocket or missile attack on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Monday morning.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, posted photos on Twitter Monday of what appears to be a playground with the caption: “Children’s playground in the center of Kyiv after the attack.”

Mayor warns Kyiv residents to remain in shelters after attacks

The mayor of Kyiv on Monday urged the city’s residents to remain in shelters following a suspected rocket or missile attack on the Ukrainian capital.

“The air raid alert, and therefore the threat, continues,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on Telegram.

“I appeal to all residents of the capital: stay in shelters during the alarm. If there is no urgent need, it is better not to go to the city today,” he added.

Klitschko confirmed strikes hit the Shevchenkivskyi and Solomianskyi districts of Kyiv.

Earlier, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister said the red line of Kyiv’s metro system is being used as a bomb shelter.

At least four explosions have been heard on Monday.

Kyiv targeted by at least four missiles

The Ukrainian capital was targeted by at least four missiles on Monday morning, the first strikes in several months, as other Ukrainian cities also came under Russian attack in the wake of Saturday’s huge explosion that hit a key Russian built bridge in the Crimea.

Ukrainians had been bracing for a harsh Russian reprisal after the blast that brought down part of the Kerch bridge linking the occupied Crimean peninsula to the Russian mainland early on Saturday.

Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of Kyiv, has issued the following update on the situation on Telegram, writing: “The air attack continues, I ask everyone to remain calm and stay in shelters. Air defence works in the region. There is information about downed objects. I emphasise that the air alert is still ongoing. Don’t ignore it and stay in cover. Do not photograph or film landing sites or damaged infrastructure. People’s lives depend on it. Let’s hold on.”

Ex-president vows “direct destruction of terrorists” after hit on bridge

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia will destroy the “terrorists” responsible for the attack on the Kerch bridge in Crimea on Saturday.

In an interview with Russian journalist Nadana Friedrichson, Medvedev stated the hit on the crucial artery was a “terror attack” carried out by “the failed state of Ukraine.”

“Russia’s response to this crime can only be the direct destruction of terrorists, just as other countries would react. This is exactly what the citizens of Russia are waiting for,” Medvedev noted.

“This is a terrorist act and sabotage committed by the criminal Kyiv regime. There was never any doubt about this. All reports and conclusions have been made,” he continued.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold an operational meeting of his Security Council on Monday, following the blast on the bridge. Putin has also called the explosions a “terrorist attack” and said the organizers and executors were “Ukrainian special services.” While stopping short of claiming responsibility, high-ranking Ukrainian officials have publicly celebrated the explosion.

Kremlin spokesman rules out nuclear response to Crimea bridge blast

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons in retaliation for a massive explosion on a key strategic bridge linking Crimea and Russia, Russian state media RIA Novosti reported.

Peskov was asked by RIA whether the attack on the bridge could trigger an activation of Russia’s nuclear doctrine because it was “aimed at destroying critical civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation.”

“No. It’s a completely wrong formulation of the question,” Peskov replied to RIA.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called the emergency on the Crimean bridge “a terrorist attack aimed at the destruction of the critical infrastructure of Russian Federation.”

In 2020, Putin signed a decree updating Russia’s nuclear doctrine that allowed for the use of nuclear weapons if an attack was made on “critical state or military facilities,” and it led to “the disruption of Russian nuclear forces,” according to a copy of doctrine on the Kremlin’s website.

Putin will hold an operational meeting of his Security Council on Monday, following the humiliating setback on the bridge.

Over 40 people killed in Russian missile strikes on Zaporizhzhia in past week: Zelensky

Russian missile strikes on Ukraine’s southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia have killed at least 43 civilians in the past week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address on Sunday.

Zelensky added that the death toll from a Russian strike on apartment blocks in the city on Sunday had risen to 14.

“Unfortunately, this number may increase. Debris is still being cleared. More than 70 people were injured, including 11 children,” Zelensky said, adding, “It was a deliberate strike. The one who gave the order and those who carried it out knew what they were targeting.”

He also cast doubt on Moscow’s willingness to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the war, saying he sees “a constant terror against the civilian population.”

The president also repeated calls for an “official designation of Russia as a terrorist state at all levels.”

“When someone wants to negotiate, they don’t act this way,” he added.

Russian forces have intensified missile attacks on residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia over the past week. The city is not far from the front line, and the site of a nuclear power plant that the international community is watching warily.

Part of the wider region is occupied by Russian forces and last week Russian President Vladimir Putin signed measures to annex four areas of Ukraine, including Zaporizhzhia, in violation of international law.

Moscow denies that it has deliberately attacked civilians.

Putin calls blast on Crimea-Russia bridge an ‘act of terror’

President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine directly for the blast at a vital bridge linking Russia and Crimea, describing the weekend attack as “act of terror” carried out by “Ukrainian secret services” amid growing expectation that the Kremlin plans an imminent and harsh escalation of its war.

The Russian president released a video on Sunday night on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel, saying: “There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure …”

“This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” he added.

Putin spoke after meeting Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s investigative committee, who was presenting findings into the explosion and fire on the bridge.

Bastrykin stated he had opened a criminal case into an “act of terrorism”.

He noted, “We have already established the route of the truck,” which he said included transit through Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia, Krasnodar (a region in southern Russia) and other places.

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