Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | February 26, 2022

Ukrainian national Maryna Shevchuk, 32, who lives and works in Spain, holds her daughter Talia, 4, on her shoulders as they take part in an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Barcelona, Spain on February 26, 2022. The banner reads “Russia out of SWIFT”.

Ukrainian national Maryna Shevchuk, 32, who lives and works in Spain, holds her daughter Talia, 4, on her shoulders as they take part in an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Barcelona, Spain on February 26, 2022. The banner reads “Russia out of SWIFT”. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Russian and Ukrainian forces clashed in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday as authorities urged citizens to help defend the city from advancing Russian forces in the worst European security crisis in decades.

Heavy, frequent artillery fire and intense gunfire, apparently some distance from the city centre, could be heard, a Reuters witness in Kyiv said. The Ukrainian military said Russian troops attacked an Army base on a main avenue but the assault was repelled. Gunfire was heard near government buildings in the city centre, the witness said.

“The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday in a video posted on his Telegram channel.

The Air Force command reported heavy fighting near an air base at Vasylkiv southwest of the capital, which it said was under attack from Russian paratroopers. It also said one of its fighters had shot down a Russian transport plane.

Kyiv residents were told by the Defence Ministry to make petrol bombs to repel the invaders. Some families cowered in shelters afraid of more Russian missiles. Hundreds of thousands who have left their homes to find safety, according to the United Nations’ aid chief.

India and China abstained from voting on aUnited Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Ukraine. Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council and its president for this month, is vetoed the resolution.

Read | Putin’s moves are hardly ‘chess thumping’

India has carried out a round of evacuation of its nationals stranded in Ukraine. The first batch of Indian students left Chernivtsi in a bus for the Ukraine-Romania border. The Embassy of India in Kyiv announced that the evacuation was being organised with the joint effort of the Indian embassies in Romania, Hungary, and Poland.

Read | Inflection point for the West-led global order

Editorial | The perfect storm: On Russia’s Ukraine gambit

World leaders have imposed sanctions against Russia, after Mr. Putin declared war on Ukraine. The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.

Watch | Indian student stuck in Ukraine

Here are the latest updates:

Washington

U.S., EU, U.K. agree to remove selected Russian banks from SWIFT

The U.S., European Union, and United Kingdom agreed to block “selected” Russian banks from the SWIFT global financial messaging system and to impose “restrictive measures” on its central bank in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.

The measures were announced jointly as part of a new round of financial sanctions meant to impose a severe cost on Russia for the invasion.

In Brussels, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said cutting several commercial banks from SWIFT “will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally”.

She said more banks could be hit “as appropriate.” Ms. Von der Leyen said the EU would “commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship — so-called golden passports — that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian Government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems”. — AP

New Delhi

Air India’s second evacuation flight from Bucharest lands in Delhi with 250 Indians from Ukraine

Air India’s second evacuation flight from Romanian capital Bucharest carrying 250 Indian nationals who were stranded in Ukraine landed at the Delhi airport in the early hours of February 28, Government officials said.

India on Feb. 27 began the evacuation of its stranded citizens amid the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, with the first evacuation flight, AI1944, bringing back 219 people from Bucharest to Mumbai in the evening.

The second evacuation flight, AI1942, carrying 250 Indian citizens landed at the Delhi airport around 2.45 a.m. on Sunday, the officials said.

Air India’s third evacuation flight, AI1940, which will depart from Hungarian capital Budapest, is also scheduled to return with evacuees to Delhi on Sunday, they said. — PTI

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Moscow

Russia shuts airspace to planes from 4 nations

Russia is closing its airspace to planes from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia, a move that comes as Moscow’s ties with the West plunge to new lows over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s state aviation agency, Rosaviatsiya, announced early on Sunday that the measure was taken in retaliation for the four nations closing their airspace for Russian planes.

On Feb. 26, the agency also reported closing the Russian airspace for planes from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic in response to them doing the same. — A P

Berlin

Germany to send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine

In a significant shift, the German government said on February 26 it will send weapons and other supplies directly to Ukraine and supports some restrictions of the SWIFT global banking system for Russia.

Germany’s chancellery announced it will send 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 “Stinger” surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine “as quickly as possible”.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks a turning point. It threatens our entire post-war order,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement. “In this situation, it is our duty to help Ukraine, to the best of our ability, to defend itself against Vladimir Putin’s invading Army.” — AP

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Ukraine

Zelenskyy welcomes offers by Turkey, Azerbaijan to moderate talks with Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is welcoming efforts to open talks with Russia.

In a video message on February 26, Mr. Zelenskyy said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev offered to help organize talks and that “we can only welcome that”.

Diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed have so far faltered.

Mr. Zelenskyy offered on February 25 to negotiate a key Russian demand: that Ukraine declare itself neutral and abandon its ambition of joining NATO. But movement to actually advance any diplomacy has appeared to sputter. — AP

Moscow

Russians speaking out against Ukraine invasion

More and more Russians spoke out on Feb. 26 against the invasion of Ukraine, even as their Government’s official rhetoric grew increasingly harsher.

Street protests, albeit small, resumed in the Russian capital of Moscow, the second-largest city of St. Petersburg and other Russian cities for the third straight day, with people taking to the streets despite mass detentions on Thursday and Friday. According to OVD-Info, rights group that tracks political arrests, at least 460 people in 34 cities were detained over anti-war protests on Saturday, including over 200 in Moscow.

Open letters condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine kept pouring, too. More than 6,000 medical workers put their names under one on Saturday; over 3,400 architects and engineers endorsed another while 500 teachers signed a third one. Similar letters by journalists, municipal council members, cultural figures and other professional groups have been making the rounds since Thursday.

A prominent contemporary art museum in Moscow called Garage announced on Saturday it was halting its work on exhibitions and postponing them “until the human and political tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine has ceased”. — AP

COPENHAGEN

Danish paper says freelancers hurt in Ukraine

Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet says two freelancers working for the paper were injured when the car they were travelling in was hit by gunfire near the village of Ohtyrka in eastern Ukraine.

The reporter and photographer were taken to a local hospital, Ekstra Bladet said, adding their injuries were not life-threatening. The paper was working with a security firm to have the two journalists evacuated. — AP

Germany

Germany to close airspace to Russian planes

Germany officials said on Feb. 26 that the country is preparing to close its airspace to Russian planes.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing backs such a measure and has ordered all preparations for this to be undertaken, his Ministry said on Twitter.

Hours earlier, a German-registered DHL cargo plane made a sharp turn back out of Russian airspace, according to air traffic monitoring website FlightAware.com. — AP

Ukraine

Russians push toward Ukraine’s capital; residents take cover

People look at the damage on a residential apartment building that was hit by a missile on February 26, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

People look at the damage on a residential apartment building that was hit by a missile on February 26, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Kyiv residents braced Saturday for another night sheltering underground, as Russian troops closed in on Ukraine’s capital and skirmishes were reported on the outskirts. Ukraine’s leader, meanwhile, vowed to continue fighting the Russian assault as he appealed for more outside help.

“The real fighting for Kyiv is ongoing,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message in which he accused Russia of hitting infrastructure and civilian targets. “We will win,” he said.

Central Kyiv appeared quiet on Saturday, though sporadic gunfire could be heard. And fighting on the city’s outskirts suggested that small Russian units were trying to clear a path for the main forces. Britain and the U.S. said the bulk of Russian forces were 19 miles (30 kilometers) from the center of the city. - AP

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Mumbai, India

First AI flight carrying 219 Indian evacuees from Ukraine lands in Mumbai

Union Minister Piyush Goyal was at the airport to receive the Indian nationals returning from war-hit Ukraine on their arrival.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal was at the airport to receive the Indian nationals returning from war-hit Ukraine on their arrival. | Photo Credit: Twitter/@PiyushGoyal

The first Air India flight carrying 219 Indian evacuees from Ukraine landed at the Mumbai airport from Bucharest, Romania, on Saturday evening, ATC sources said.

Operated with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane, Air India flight AI-1944 touched down the runway at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) here at 7.50 pm, they said.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal was at the airport to receive the Indian nationals returning from war-hit Ukraine on their arrival. The Air India flight had left from Mumbai for Bucharest at 3.38 a.m. on Saturday and landed there at around 10.45 a.m. (Indian Standard Time). It departed for Mumbai at 1.55 p.m. (IST).

Around 16,000 Indians, mainly students, were stranded in Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said on February 24. - PTI

Ukraine

Ukraine not refusing to negotiate but not ready for Russian ultimatums: official

Ukraine on Saturday denied suggestions that it was refusing to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia but said it was also not ready to accept ultimatums or unacceptable conditions.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told Reuters Ukraine has prepared a negotiating position but was faced with impractical negotiating conditions from Russia.

“It was yesterday that the aggressive actions of the armed forces of the Russian Federation escalated, up to evening and night mass air and missile strikes on Ukrainian cities,” he said in a message. “We consider such actions only an attempt to break Ukraine and force it to accept categorically unacceptable conditions.” - Reuters

Russia

Russia tells Turkey it is ready to work with “constructive forces” on Ukraine: news agency

Russia is ready to work closely with all constructive forces for the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis in the interests of peace and stability, the Interfax news agency quoted Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Saturday.

Mr. Lavrov made the comments in a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Russia

‘Wonderful’ sanctions on Russia won’t change a thing, military operation in Ukraine to go on: Dmitry Medvedev

The “wonderful” sanctions slapped on Russia by the U.S. and allies would not change a thing and military operation to “protect” Ukraine’s Donbass region will be fully carried out until President Vladimir Putin’s goals are achieved, Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, as Russian forces intensified its attack in Ukrainian capital Kyiv and other areas.

“These wonderful restrictions definitely won’t change a thing. It’s clear even to the ignorant people at the US Department of State. This refers to the decision to carry out a military operation to protect Donbass,” Mr Medvedev, a former Russian prime minister, was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency, citing Russian online social media networking service VKontakte.

“The operation will be fully carried out until the goals set by the Russian President are achieved,” he said, hoping that the situation will unfold “the way it did in 2008.

Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and the war lasted for five days. Following the brief war, Russia recognised Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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Ukriane-India

Ukraine President speaks with PM Modi

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday he spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought India’s political support at the United Nations Security Council.

Mr. Zelenskyy, in a tweet, said, “Informed (Mr. Modi) of the course of Ukraine repulsing Russian aggression. More than 100,000 invaders are on our land. They insidiously fire on residential buildings.”

President Zelensky had sent a letter to PM Modi three days ago requesting a telephone conversation at his “convenient earliest”. Ukraine’s Ambassador to India Igor Polikha sent it to PM Modi through an emissary.

India’s Prime Minister’s Office also released a statement after the conversation saying that PM Modi expressed anguish over the loss of life in the conflict and called for immediate ceasefire.

“President Zelenskyy briefed the Prime Minister in detail about the ongoing conflict situation in Ukraine. Prime Minister expressed his deep anguish about the loss of life and property due to the ongoing conflict. He reiterated his call for an immediate cessation of violence and a return to dialogue, and expressed India’s willingness to contribute in any way towards peace efforts,” the PMO said.

“Prime Minister also conveyed India’s deep concern for the safety and security of Indian citizens, including students, present in Ukraine. He sought facilitation by Ukrainian authorities to expeditiously and safely evacuate Indian citizens,” the statement read.

United Kingdom

Multi-nation air exercise cancelled by U.K.

The multi-nation air exercise Cobra Warrior with NATO countries Belgium, the U.K. and the U.S. along with Sweden and Saudi Arabia scheduled to be held in March, which the IAF was to join for the first time has been cancelled in the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis.

Citing “recent events”, the IAF on Saturday said on social media it has decided not to participate in the multi-nation exercise Cobra Warrior scheduled to be hosted by the U.K., but the post was subsequently deleted. Diplomatic sources stated that the U.K. has decided to cancel the exercise in view of the Russian invasion and offensive in Ukraine.

“In light of the recent events, IAF has decided not to deploy its aircraft for Exercise Cobra Warrior 2022 in U.K.,” the IAF said in a post on Twitter on Saturday morning. The post was deleted in a few hours, though no explanation was given as to why.

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Russia

Russia closes airspace to flights from Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic

Russia said on Saturday it was closing its airspace to flights from Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic in response to punishment over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Air carriers of these states and/or registered in them are subject to restrictions on flights to destinations on the territory of the Russian Federation, including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation,” the federal air transport agency Rosaviation said. -AFP

India-Ukraine

First batch of Indian students enter Hungary from Ukraine

The first batch of Indian students entered Hungary from Ukraine through the Zahony crossing point on Saturday. The students are being taken to Budapest for return to India by an Air India flight, the Indian embassy in Hungary said.

“First batch of Indian students enter Hungary from Ukrainian side at Zahony crossing, travelling onward to Budapest for return to India by AI flight today,” it tweeted.

India on Friday managed to set up camp offices in Lviv and Chernivtsi towns in western Ukraine to facilitate the transit of Indians to Hungary, Romania and Poland.

India is trying to evacuate its nationals through Ukraine’s land borders with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Ukrainian government closed the country’s airspace following the Russian military offensive. - PTI

Kyiv, Ukraine

Curfew extended in Kyiv as Russian troops press on capital

The mayor of Ukraine’s capital is imposing an intensified curfew as Russian troops press in on the city.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app that he is extending the curfew hours to run from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m.

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

The curfew imposed two days ago previously lasted from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. - AP

Ukraine

Zelenskyy says Ukraine has ‘derailed’ Russian attack plan

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday said Ukraine’s force had halted the Kremlin’s push to capture Kyiv and oust him and urged Russians to pressure leader Vladimir Putin to stop the invasion.

“We’ve derailed their plan,” the 44-year-old leader said in a new video address, stressing that the Ukrainian army was in control of the capital Kyiv and main cities around it.

He also thanked Russians who spoke out against the war and asked them to keep up the pressure on the Kremlin, saying: “Simply stop those who are lying to you, lying to us, lying to the entire world.” - AFP

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Poland

Some 1,00,000 Ukrainians have entered Poland since war began

Around 100,000 people have crossed into Poland from Ukraine since Russia launched an invasion on Thursday, including 9,000 who have entered since 7 a.m. on Saturday, Poland's Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker told a news conference.

"Since 7 a.m. the Ukrainian side has closed part of the lanes for cars and allowed pedestrian traffic," Szefernaker told reporters. "The queue on the Ukrainian side should decrease."

European Union member Poland, which has the region's largest Ukrainian community of about 1 million people, has seen a throng of refugees at its borders since the Russian invasion began.

Poland

Poland refuses to play Russia in WC qualifier, cites Ukraine

Poland is refusing to play its World Cup qualifier against Russia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Polish soccer federation president said Saturday.

Cezary Kulesza made the announcement on Twitter, citing Russia’s assault, and indicated Poland was in talks with other federations to present a unified position to FIFA.

Previously, Poland had only said it didn’t want to play the qualifying playoff semifinal in Moscow on March 24.

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India

219 Indians returning to India from Romania

The first flight to Mumbai with 219 Indians has taken off from Romania, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Saturday, referring to India's evacuation of its nationals from Ukraine. He also said India is making progress in the evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine.

"Regarding evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine, we are making progress. Our teams are working on the ground round the clock. I am personally monitoring," he said on Twitter. "The first flight to Mumbai with 219 Indian nationals has taken off from Romania," he added.

The Indians had exited Ukraine and reached Romania through land border crossings between the two countries.

Poland

UN says over 120,000 people have fled Ukraine

The UN refugee agency says that over 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country since Russia began its attack on its neighboring country this week.

Speaking as Russian troops were engaging in battle with Ukrainian forces in the capital Kyiv on Saturday, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelly Clements, said in an interview on CNN the situation was expected to get worse.

“We now see over 120,000 people that have gone to all of the neighboring countries,” she said. “The reception that they are receiving from local communities, from local authorities, is tremendous. But it’s a dynamic situation. We are really quite devastated, obviously, with what’s to come.”

Russia

Russia halts space launches from French Guiana over sanctions

Russia is suspending space launches from French Guiana and withdrawing its technical personnel in response to EU sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the space agency said Saturday.

"In response to EU sanctions against our enterprises, Roskosmos is suspending cooperation with European partners over organising space launches from the Kourou cosmodrome and withdrawing its technical personnel... from French Guiana," Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian space agency, said on messaging app Telegram.

There are currently 87 Russian nationals in French Guiana, the agency said.

The next Soyuz launch from Kourou was scheduled for 6 April. - AFP

Latvia

Ukraine embassy staff evacuating from Moscow, Latvia says

The staff of Ukraine's embassy in Moscow is evacuating to Latvia, the Latvian foreign ministry told Reuters on Saturday.

"It was their plea, we readily agreed. We are assisting them in the process and help with settling down," Latvian foreign ministry spokesperson Janis Bekeris said.

He declined to say whether the embassy staff had already arrived in Latvia, citing security concerns. - Reuters

Russia

Russia strikes Ukraine with cruise missiles

The Russian military says it has launched a barrage of cruise missiles at Ukrainian military facilities.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said Saturday that the military struck a range of Ukrainian military installations with long-range Kalibr cruise missiles.

He said that since the start of Russia’s attack Thursday, the military has hit 821 Ukrainian military facilities, including 14 air bases and 19 command facilities, and destroyed 24 air defence missile systems, 48 radars, seven warplanes, seven helicopters, nine drones, 87 tanks and eight military vessels.

Konashenkov didn’t say how many Ukrainian troops were killed and didn’t mention any casualties on the Russian side. His claims and Ukraine’s allegations that its forces have killed thousands of Russian troops couldn’t be independently verified.- AP

Mumbai

Air India evacuation flight expected to land in Mumbai at 8.00 p.m.

 An Air India Boeing aircraft, which departed from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport here for Romanian capital Bucharest early morning on Saturday to bring back Indian citizens stranded in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive, is expected to arrive here at 8 pm, the airport operator said.

CSMIA, in a statement, also said it has blocked a special corridor for the arriving passengers.

The private airport operator said it has fenced in a special area at the facility for the arriving passengers to sit and will also provide them with free Wi-Fi codes, distribute food and water bottles.

They will also be provided with any guidance or medical assistance if required at the time of arrival, it said.

The airport has blocked a special corridor for the arriving passengers, CSMIA said, adding as per the guidelines laid down by the government, the Airport Health Organization (APHO) team at the facility will be conducting mandatory temperature checks.

Passengers would be required to produce either a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR test report at the time of arrival. In case any passenger is not able to show any of the documents at the time of arrival, they will have to undergo RT-PCR testing at the airport, where the cost would be borne by the airport, it said.- PTI

Kyiv, Ukraine

Missile hits apartment in Kyiv, mayor says

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital says a missile hit an apartment building but no casualties were immediately reported.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the missile slammed into a high-rise building on the southwestern outskirts of Kyiv near Zhuliany airport on Saturday. He said rescue workers were heading there.

He posted an image on a messaging app, showing a gaping hole on one side of the building that ravaged apartment units and several stores.- AP

A view shows an apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 26, 2022.

A view shows an apartment building damaged by recent shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Ukraine

Ukrainian leader says it is ‘crucial moment’ to decide on EU membership

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday it was “a crucial moment” to decide on Ukraine’s membership of the European Union, as Russia continued to invade its neighbour.

Mr. Zelensky said in a tweet he had discussed with European Council President Charles Michel “further effective assistance and the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future.- Reuters

Russia

ISS may fall on India, China: Russian space agency chief warns on US sanctions after Ukraine military offensive

Russia’s space agency chief has warned the US that the slew of sanctions imposed on Moscow can “destroy our cooperation” on the International Space Station (ISS) and asked Washington if it wants to threaten India and China with the “possibility of a 500-tonne structure falling” on them.

Following US President Joe Biden’s announcement of new sanctions on Thursday that “will degrade” Russia’s “aerospace industry, including their space programme”, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin on Friday tweeted that ISS orbit and location in space are controlled by Russian engines, the CNN reported.

“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station (ISS) from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or...Europe?” Rogozin tweeted in Russian.

He said there is also the “possibility of a 500-tonne structure falling on India and China”.

“Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?,” the Russian space agency chief asked.- PTI

Kyiv, Ukraine

Shelling reported in Kyiv

Smoke rises after recent shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine February 26, 2022.

Smoke rises after recent shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine February 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Melitopol, Ukraine

Russia captures Ukraine’s Melitopol

Russian troops have captured the city of Melitopol in Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhya region, Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday, the first significant population centre to be taken over since Moscow launched an invasion.

The ministry also said Russia had used air- and ship-based cruise missiles to carry out overnight strikes on military targets in Ukraine.

It said Russian troops had hit hundreds of military infrastructure targets and destroyed several aircraft and dozens of tanks and armoured and artillery vehicles.

Ukrainian officials could not be immediately reached for comment on the matter.- Reuters

Kyiv, Ukraine

Street fighting begins in Kyiv; people urged to seek shelter

Russian troops stormed towards Ukraine’s capital early Saturday and street-fighting broke out as city officials urged residents to take shelter. The country's President refused an American offer to evacuate, insisting that he would stay. “The fight is here,” he said.

The clashes followed two days of fighting that resulted in hundreds of casualties and pummelled bridges, schools and apartment buildings. U.S. officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to overthrow Ukraine's government and replace it with a regime of his own.

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French Guiana

Russia suspends space launches from French Guiana over sanctions

Russia is suspending space launches from French Guiana and withdrawing its technical personnel in response to EU sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the space agency said Saturday.

“In response to EU sanctions against our enterprises, Roskosmos is suspending cooperation with European partners over organizing space launches from the Kourou cosmodrome and withdrawing its technical personnel... from French Guiana,” Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian space agency, said on messaging app Telegram.- AFP

International

People around the world take out demonstrations supporting Ukraine, monuments lit up in Ukranian flag colours

People gather for a candlelight procession in Bologna, Italy, following the Russian attack of Ukraine.

People gather for a candlelight procession in Bologna, Italy, following the Russian attack of Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AP

The London Eye is lit up in the colours of the Ukraine flag, in London on February 25, 2022.

The London Eye is lit up in the colours of the Ukraine flag, in London on February 25, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, Scotland, is lit up with the colours of the Ukraine flag on February 25, 2022.

St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, Scotland, is lit up with the colours of the Ukraine flag on February 25, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

The Palazzo Marino in Milan, Italy, is lit up in the colors of the flag of Ukraine following the Russian attack of Ukraine.

The Palazzo Marino in Milan, Italy, is lit up in the colors of the flag of Ukraine following the Russian attack of Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AP

The Ludwigsburg Palace in Ludwigsburg, Germany, is lit up in the colors of the flag of Ukraine following the Russian attack of Ukraine.

The Ludwigsburg Palace in Ludwigsburg, Germany, is lit up in the colors of the flag of Ukraine following the Russian attack of Ukraine. | Photo Credit: AP

People gather to demonstrate in Duomo Square, Milan, Italy on February. 25, 2022.

People gather to demonstrate in Duomo Square, Milan, Italy on February. 25, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Ukraine

Ukraine reports fresh air, cruise missile strikes

Ukraine’s military command said areas near the cities of Sumy, Poltava and Mariupol were hit by air strikes on Friday, with Russian Kalibr cruise missiles launched at the country from the Black Sea.

Bucharest

Air India plane lands in Bucharest to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine

An Air India plane from Mumbai landed in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Saturday morning to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive.

The aircraft, AI1943, took off from the Mumbai airport around 3.40 AM (Indian Standard Time) and landed at the Bucharest airport around 10.45 AM (Indian Standard Time), senior government officials said.

Indian nationals, who reached the Ukraine-Romania border by road, have been taken to Bucharest by the Indian government officials so that they can be evacuated in the Air India flight, they noted.

AI1943, which is being operated on Boeing 787 aircraft, can carry 256 passengers at a time, they said.

Air India will operate more flights on Saturday to Bucharest and Hungarian capital Budapest to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine.- PTI

Russia

Facebook bans Russia state media from running ads, monetizing

Facebook on Friday restricted Russian state media's ability to earn money on the social media platform as Moscow's invasion of neighboring Ukraine reached the streets of Kyiv.

"We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world," Nathaniel Gleicher, the social media giant's security policy head, said on Twitter.

He added that Facebook would "continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media."

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Ukraine

President refuses to flee, urges Ukraine to ‘stand firm’

Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine’s capital early Saturday as explosions reverberated through the city and the president urged the country to “stand firm” against the siege that could determine its future. He refused American help to evacuate, saying: “The fight is here.”

Hundreds of casualties were reported in the fighting, which included shelling that sliced through a Kyiv apartment building and pummeled bridges and schools. There also were growing signs that Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government, which U.S. officials have described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultimate objective. -AP

India

Don’t move to border posts without coordination with us: Indian embassy in Ukraine

India on Saturday advised its stranded nationals in Ukraine to exercise caution at all times and not move to any border posts to exit the country without prior coordination with its officials.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine issued a fresh advisory in view of increasing Russian attacks on several Ukrainian cities and reports of heavy fighting around the capital Kyiv.

The embassy particularly advised those staying in the eastern part of Ukraine to continue to remain in their current places of residence and stay indoors or in shelters as much as possible. -PTI

Ukraine

Zelenskyy declines U.S. offer to evacuate Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was asked to evacuate Kyiv at the behest of the U.S. government but turned down the offer.

Mr. Zelenskyy said in response: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation, who described Zelenskyy as upbeat. -AP

Ukraine

Ukraine’s capital under threat as Russia presses invasion

Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine’s capital early Saturday as explosions reverberated through the city and the president urged the country to “stand firm” against the siege that could determine its future.

Hundreds of casualties were reported in the fighting, which included shelling that sliced through a Kyiv apartment building and pummeled bridges and schools. There also were growing signs that Russia may be seeking to overthrow Ukraine’s government, which US officials have described as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ultimate objective. -Reuters

Russia

The #Anonymous collective has leaked the database of the Russian Ministry of Defense website

India

Air India plane departs from Mumbai for Bucharest to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine

An Air India plane departed from the Mumbai airport on Saturday morning for Romanian capital Bucharest to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive.

The flight, AI1943, took off from the Mumbai airport around 3.40 am and is expected to land at the Bucharest airport around 10 am (Indian Standard Time), senior government officials said.

Indian nationals who have reached the Ukraine-Romania border by road are being taken to Bucharest by Indian government officials so that they can be evacuated in the Air India flight, they noted. -PTI

Australia

Australia seeks to join global move to hit Putin with sanctions

Australia seeks to join others in imposing direct sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and has extended its punitive financial measures to members of Russia’s parliament and more oligarchs, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Saturday.

The United States, Canada, European Union and Britain said they would impose sanctions on Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as Washington looks to ramp up pressure on Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“It is an exceptional step to sanction leaders, but this is an exceptional situation,” Mr. Payne said at a press conference, adding that the government is seeking advice on how to follow other nations in the move. -AP

Ukraine

Ukraine Vice PM urges Apple to cut products, services supply in Russia

Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister on Friday urged Apple Inc top boss Tim Cook to cut supply of its products and block access to App Store in Russia.

Mykhailo Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, tweeted a copy of the letter sent to Mr. Cook asking the iPhone maker to “stop supplying Apple services and products to the Russian Federation, including blocking access to App Store.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. -AP

USA

India-Russia relations distinct from Washington’s equation with Moscow, that’s okay: U.S.

India’s relationship with Russia is distinct from that the US shares with the latter and that is okay, the Biden administration said, underlining that Washington has asked every country that has leverage with Moscow to use it to protect rules-based international order.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price noted that the US shares important interests and values with India. “We share important interests with India. We share important values with India. And we know India has a relationship with Russia that is distinct from the relationship that we have with Russia. Of course, that is okay,” Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Friday.

“India has a relationship with Russia that we certainly don’t have. India and Russia have a relationship, including in the defence and security sector, that we don’t have. ... we have asked every country that has a relationship and certainly those countries that have the leverage to use that leverage in a constructive way,” he said in response to a question. -PTI

Ukraine

Ukraine says it has shot down military plane

Ukraine’s military said it has shot down a Russian military transport plane with paratroopers on board.

According to a statement from the military’s General Staff, the Il-76 heavy transport plane was shot down near Vasylkiv, a city 40 kilometres south of Kyiv. The Russian military has not commented on the incident so far, and the report could not be immediately verified. -AP


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Printable version | Jun 16, 2022 8:56:33 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-ukraine-crisis-live-updates-air-india-plane-departs-from-mumbai-to-bucharest-to-evacuate-indians-stranded-in-ukraine/article65086509.ece