Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | March 6, 2022

Putin says military operation in Ukraine will only halt if Russia’s demands are met

March 06, 2022 08:53 am | Updated March 07, 2022 11:18 am IST

People cross on an improvised path under a bridge that was destroyed by a Russian airstrike, while fleeing the town of Irpin, Ukraine on March 5, 2022. File

People cross on an improvised path under a bridge that was destroyed by a Russian airstrike, while fleeing the town of Irpin, Ukraine on March 5, 2022. File | Photo Credit: AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called another high-level meeting on Saturday evening to discuss the situation in war-hit Ukraine and India’s evacuation efforts to bring back its citizens, official sources said. India on Saturday “strongly pressed” the Russian and Ukrainian governments through multiple channels for an immediate ceasefire in Sumy to ensure a safe passage for around 700 Indian students stuck there as it keeps focus on their evacuation from the war-hit city in eastern Ukraine.

Read | In Sumy, students run out of food, water and hope

The next round of talks between Ukraine and Russia will be held on Monday, Ukrainian official Davyd Arakhamia said Saturday. Meanwhile on Sunday, Russia agreed to revive the cease-fire, temporarily, in two cities of Volnovakha and Mariupol to allow people to evacuate safely.

President Vladimir Putin warned Saturday that Russia would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as participation in the war there, while Ukrainian officials blamed Russian shelling for breaching a cease-fire arranged in two cities to evacuate civilians. Mr. Putin has warned that Ukrainian statehood is in jeopardy and likened the West’s sanctions on Russia to “declaring war,” while a promised cease-fire in the besieged port city of Mariupol collapsed amid scenes of terror. Russia’s foreign ministry called on European Union and NATO countries on Saturday to “stop pumping weapons” to Ukraine, the Russian RIA news agency said.

Meanwhile, the European Union said it had joined members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in suspending Russia and Belarus from the Council’s activities.

Russia’s attack on Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia, on March 5, 2022, triggered worldwide panic with the United Nations Security Council raising alarm at the prospect of a nuclear incident in Ukraine. U.S. Embassy in Ukraine called the incident a ‘war crime’.

The UN Human Rights Council voted to set up an international commission of enquiry into Russia’s actions in Ukraine. India was among 13 countries of the 47-member council elected from UN members that abstained from the resolution.

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.

Explained | Why did NATO accept former Warsaw Pact states into the alliance? 

Explained | Will sanctions against Russia impact long-term supply of wheat, oil, metals and other goods?

Here are the latest updates:


Indian Army’s preparedness along LAC unlikely to be impacted due to sanctions on Russia

As the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is set to hold its annual summer exercises in Tibet, the armed forces are keeping a close tab to ensure China does not resort to any misadventure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), especially as the global attention is on Ukraine.

Defence officials also say the Army’s preparedness is unlikely to be impacted due to sanctions on Russia.

While the Air Force may have some impact, given its large Russian inventory, which is being assessed, the Army, mainly the infantry along with its support elements, have least exposure to Russia, one official noted.

The armed forces have also made significant emergency procurements in the last two years since the standoff in eastern Ladakh and have stocked up on spares and ammunition. So, there shouldn’t be any immediate urgency for spares and other requirements, several officials noted.


‘Operation Ganga’ proof of India’s increasing influence around the globe: PM Modi

The fact that India is able to evacuate its citizens out of war–torn Ukraine through “Operation Ganga” is proof of the country’s increasing influence around the globe, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.

Speaking during the inauguration of the golden jubilee celebrations of Pune-based Symbiosis University, the Prime Minister said big countries are facing problems in getting out their citizens safely during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Big countries are finding it difficult to evacuate their citizens …But it is due to the growing influence of India in the globe that we have brought thousands of students back to our homeland,” Mr. Modi said, underscoring the confidence of the “new India” while remarking that India today was “innovating, improving, and influencing the whole world”.

The Prime Minister said India had today emerged as the global leader in the sectors which were previously considered out of its reach. 

United States

Blinken says new Russia demands on Iran nuclear deal ‘irrelevant’

United States (U.S.) Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dismissed Russian demands for guarantees that new sanctions linked to Ukraine will not affect Moscow’s rights under a reworked Iran nuclear deal.

With the parties to the Iran agreement, which the U.S. abandoned in 2018, now seemingly close to a new accord, Mr. Blinken rejected fresh demands voiced Saturday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Blinken said on CBS talk show “Face the Nation,” “have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal.” They “just are not in any way linked together, so I think that’s irrelevant.” - AFP


Five wounded after Russian forces fire at anti-occupation protest in Ukraine, says agency

Russian forces opened fire at a protest against their occupation of the southern Ukrainian city of Nova Kakhovka on Sunday, wounding five people, Ukrainian news agency Interfax Ukraine said, citing eyewitnesses.

Around 2,000 people had taken to the streets of Nova Kakhovka to show their opposition to the invasion by waving Ukrainian flags and calling on Russian forces to leave, the agency reported. Similar protests were staged in other occupied areas, it said. - Reuters


Putin blames Kyiv for failed civilian evacuations from Mariupol

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone call with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron blamed Kyiv for failed civilian evacuations from the key Ukrainian port city of Mariupol which is surrounded by Russian troops, the Kremlin said Sunday.

Mr. Putin “drew attention to the fact that Kyiv still does not fulfil agreements reached on this acute humanitarian issue,” according to a statement from the Kremlin, after two agreements to evacuate Mariupol fell though following allegations of ceasefire breaches. - AFP


Putin says Ukraine responsible for March 3 power plant incident: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday accused Ukrainian radicals for an incident on March 3 at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

French President Emmanuel Macron asked Mr. Putin by telephone about a fire at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant. “Vladimir Putin informed about the provocation by Ukrainian radicals in the area of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” the Kremlin said.

“The radiation levels are normal.”

Mr. Putin also accused Ukraine of preventing civilians from leaving Mariupol. - Reuters


BBC World News taken off air in Russia

The BBC said on Sunday that its World News television channel has been taken off the air in Russia as Moscow clamps down further on foreign media during its war in Ukraine.

BBC World News presenter Victoria Derbyshire first announced the suspension to viewers outside Russia on Sunday.

“BBC World News, the channel you are watching if you are outside the UK right now, and which is the BBC’s global television news channel, has just been taken off air in Russia,” she said.

A BBC spokesperson said that BBC World News had not been available in Russia since Saturday. - AFP


United Nations says 364 civilian deaths confirmed so far

The U.N. human rights office says it has confirmed the deaths of 364 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

The Geneva-based office said that another 759 civilians had been injured as of midnight Saturday. The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed.

It says it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days.” That’s because the flow of information has been delayed amid the fighting and many reports still need to be corroborated.

Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers.


Macron, Putin hold new telephone talks lasting 1 hour 45 minutes: Elysee

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday held new telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Elysee said.

The call, which a presidential official said lasted 1 hour 45 minutes and was at Mr. Macron’s request, was the fourth time they had spoken since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

It came after a tense call on March 3 which the Elysee said had left Mr. Macron feeling “the worst is to come” in Ukraine with Mr. Putin intent on seizing “the whole” of the country.


Djokovic offers Stakhovsky support over war in Ukraine

Novak Djokovic has pledged financial support to Ukrainian tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky, who has joined the fight to protect his country from the Russian invasion.

Stakhovsky, who famously beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013, last week said he had signed up for Ukraine’s military reserves. The former world number 31 on Sunday posted a screenshot on Instagram of a WhatsApp conversation with Djokovic.

“Thinking of you... hope all calms down soon,” read a message from the Serbian 20-time Grand Slam champion to Stakhovsky.

“Please let me know what would be the best address to send help. Financial help, any other help as well...” wrote Djokovic.

The 36-year-old Stakhovsky retired after the Australian Open in January and has returned to Kyiv to take part in the struggle to repel the Russians. - AFP


Ukraine official says assault halts evacuations for 2nd time

A Ukrainian official says a second attempt to evacuate civilians from a southern city under siege for a week has failed due to continued Russian shelling.

Evacuations from the port city of Mariupol were scheduled to begin at noon local time (10 a.m. GMT) during a 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. local ceasefire, Ukrainian military authorities said earlier on Sunday.

Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations along designated humanitarian corridors were halted because of an ongoing assault.

“There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom,“ he said on Telegram. - AP


Naftali Bennett vows to continue diplomatic effort

Israel’s Prime Minister says his country will continue to assist in finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis, even if the chances for success are few.

Naftali Bennett spoke on Sunday to a meeting of his Cabinet, hours after he returned from a surprise meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where the two discussed the war with Ukraine.

He then travelled to Germany where he met Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Mr. Bennett revealed no details from his talks with Mr. Putin, but called the country’s mediation efforts “our moral duty.” Earlier, his office said he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke by phone on Sunday morning, the third such call between the two leaders over the past day.


Putin, Macron holding talks: Russian state TV

Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Russian state television reported on Sunday.

Mr. Putin had a conversation with Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Sunday in which the Turkish leader urged him to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine.


Ukraine President says Russian rockets have destroyed Vinnytsia airport

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian rockets had completely destroyed the civilian airport of the central-western region capital of Vinnytsia on Sunday.

Earlier the authorities said emergency services were working to put out fires at the airport caused by the rocket strikes.


Putin says military operation in Ukraine will only be halted if Russia’s demands are met: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call on Sunday that Russia would only halt its military operation if Ukraine stopped fighting and Moscow’s demands were met, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Mr. Putin said the operation was going according to plan and to schedule, and that he hoped Ukrainian negotiators would take a more constructive approach at talks and take into account the reality on the ground, the Kremlin said in statement.

Vatican City

Pope deplores Ukraine “rivers of blood and tears”

Pope Francis on Sunday deplored what he termed the “rivers of blood and tears” flowing in Ukraine following the Russian invasion and demanded the creation of humanitarian corridors for refugees.

“Rivers of blood and tears are flowing in Ukraine. This is not just a military operation but a war which is sowing death, destruction and misery,” said the pontiff. - AFP


Russia detains over 1,100 at Ukraine conflict protests

More than 1,100 people in cities across Russia have been detained at protests on Sunday against Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, a protest monitor said, more than one week after the assault began.

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


Russia banks turn to China after Visa, Mastercard suspension

Russian banks said on Sunday they planned to issue cards using China’s UnionPay system after Visa and Mastercard moved to suspend operations in Russia over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Russian Visa and Mastercard bank cards will no longer be valid abroad, and cards issued abroad will no longer work in Russia, the global payments companies announced Saturday.

Major Russian lenders Sberbank and Alfa Bank said they are working on a rollout of UnionPay cards.

Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank, and the Credit Bank of Moscow (MKB) are also working on releasing UnionPay cards, Russian news agencies reported. - AFP


Zelenskyy pushes call for Ukraine no-fly zone

Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy is pushing his call for foreign countries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Establishing a no-fly zone would risk escalating the conflict by involving foreign militaries directly. Although the United States and many Western countries have backed Ukraine with weapons shipments, they have sent no troops.

Mr. Zelenskyy said in a video address on Sunday that “the world is strong enough to close our skies.”

NATO countries have ruled out policing a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorised aircraft from flying over Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as “participation in the armed conflict.” - AP


Ukraine is Europe’s ‘fastest growing refugee’ crisis since WWII: United Nations

The number of people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has topped 1.5 million, making it Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since World War II, the United Nations said on Sunday.

“More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days,” the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees tweeted.

The U.N. described the outflow as “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II”, having reported on Saturday that nearly 1.37 million refugees had fled.

U.N. officials said they expected the wave to intensify further as the Russian army pressed its offensive, particularly toward the capital Kyiv. - AFP


Ukraine warns Russia preparing to shell port city Odessa

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Sunday that Russian forces are preparing to shell Odessa, a historic port city on the Black Sea coast.

“This is going to be a military crime. This is going to be a historical crime,” he declared.

Russian forces have made progress in southern Ukraine since their February 24 invasion, overrunning the city of Kherson and besieging the port of Mariupol, but Odessa has so far been largely spared. - AFP


Aviation Ministry says 8 flights to bring back over 1,500 Indians on Monday

Eight flights with over 1,500 Indians will operate from war-torn Ukraine’s neighbouring countries to India on Monday, the Civil Aviation Ministry stated on Sunday.

“Under ‘Operation Ganga’ to rescue Indian citizens, 2,135 Indians have been brought back today (Sunday) by 11 special civilian flights from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries,” the Ministry noted in a statement.

“Tomorrow, eight special flights are expected to operate from Budapest (five), Suceava (two) and Bucharest (one), bringing more than 1,500 Indians back home,” it mentioned. - PTI


Indian embassy asks Indians still stranded in Ukraine to fill up online form

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Sunday asked all Indians who are still stuck in the conflict-stricken country to fill up an online form on an urgent basis.

"All Indian nationals who still remain in Ukraine are requested to fill up the details contained in the attached Google Form on an URGENT BASIS. Be Safe Be Strong," it said in a tweet.

The details sought in the Google form are name, e-mail, phone number, address of current stay, passport details, gender and age. - PTI


Limited Russian cease-fire revived in 2 cities

Russian forces will observe a temporary cease-fire Sunday in two Ukrainian cities, an official in one of the country’s two pro-Russia separatist regions said after an agreement to allow civilians to evacuate collapsed a day earlier amid continued shelling.

Eduard Basurin, the head of the military in separatist-held Donetsk territory, said safe passage corridors for residents of the besieged port city of Mariupol and the city of Volnovakha would reopen Sunday. He did not say for how long nor whether a cease-fire would accompany the evacuation.

Ukrainian officials confirmed that evacuations from Mariupol would take place starting from 12 p.m. local time. Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional military administration, said a ceasefire would be in effect between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

A promised cease-fire in Mariupol failed amid scenes of terror Saturday. Ukrainian officials said the evacuation was aborted because the city remained under attack. -AP


Russia to let banks cut back reporting results amid sanctions

Russia’s central bank announced Sunday it was allowing lenders in the country to reduce the frequency of their financial disclosures, a measure it said was necessary to mitigate sanctions fallout.

Moscow has been hit with a damaging package of financial and cultural penalties by Western countries in the wake of Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine.

The central bank in recent days has taken unprecedented measures, including capital controls, to shore up the struggling economy and the ruble. -AFP


Blinken pledges American support in Moldova

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Moldova pledging America’s support to the small Western-leaning former Soviet republic that is coping with an influx of refugees from Ukraine and warily watching Russia’s intensifying war with its neighbor.

Mr. Blinken was meeting on Sunday with senior Moldovan officials who are appealing for international assistance in dealing with more than 120,000 refugees from Ukraine that it is now hosting while also seeking security reassurances against potential Russian aggression. More than 230,000 people have fled into Moldova from Ukraine since the war began 11 days ago. -AP


Russia strikes Ukrainian military air base with long-range weapons

Russia struck and disabled Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military airbase with long-range high-precision weapons, Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday.

“The Russia armed forces continue to strike the military infrastructure of Ukraine,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“On the morning of March 6, strikes were carried out by high-precision long-range weapons. The Ukrainian air force base near Starokostiantyniv was disabled.” -Rueters


Ukraine says over 11,000 Russian troops killed in war

More than 11,000 Russian troops have been killed since Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff said on Sunday.

A day earlier, it put Russian casualties at over 10,000. It did not report Ukrainian casualties. -Reuters


Ukraine health centres have been attacked, WHO chief says

The World Health Organization has confirmed “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine and is investigating others, the agency’s chief said on Sunday.

The attacks caused multiple deaths and injuries; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added in a Twitter message.

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


Biden speaks with Ukraine’s Zelenskiy- White House

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday, the White House said.

The call lasted for about 30 minutes, the White House added. -Reuters


Mastercard, Visa suspend operations in Russia after invasion

Mastercard and Visa are suspending their operations in Russia, the companies have said, in the latest blow to the country’s financial system after its invasion of Ukraine.

Mastercard Saturday said cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by its network and any card issued outside the country will not work at Russian stores or ATMs.

“We don’t take this decision lightly,” Mastercard said in a statement, adding that it made the move after discussions with customers, partners, and governments. -AP


Ukrainian President thanks Musk for giving Ukraine access to his company’s satellite-internet system

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk for giving Ukraine access to his company’s satellite-internet system, called Starlink.

“I’m grateful to him for supporting Ukraine with words and deeds,” Zelenskyy said in a tweet. “Next week we will receive another batch of Starlink systems for destroyed cities.” He joked that they discussed possible space projects, which he would talk about “after the war.” -AP


Israel PM meets Putin on Ukraine in ‘risky’ diplomatic gamble

Israel’s premier stepped into the role of mediator Saturday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified, holding a three-hour meeting at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin before calling Ukraine’s president and flying to Berlin.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s sit-down with Mr. Putin was the first by a foreign leader since the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week and came after Kyiv had asked Israel to launch a dialogue with Moscow. -AFP


Zelenskyy’s ‘desperate’ plea to Congress: Send more planes

Fighting for his country’s survival, Ukraine’s leader has made a “desperate” plea to American lawmakers for the United States to help get more warplanes to his military and cut off Russian oil imports as Kyiv tries to stave off the Russian invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday opened the private video call with US lawmakers by telling them this may be the last time they see him alive. He has remained in Kyiv, the capital, which has a vast Russian armoured column threatening from the north. -AP


Pak FM Qureshi calls for de-escalation of Ukraine crisis in talks with Russian counterpart Lavrov

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Saturday and called for de-escalation and finding a diplomatic solution to the raging Ukraine crisis.

Qureshi spoke on the telephone with Lavrov and besides bilateral ties, the two foreign ministers discussed the regional situation, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office here.

“Underlining Pakistan’s concern at the latest situation in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted that Pakistan had emphasised fundamental principles of UN Charter, called for de-escalation, and underscored the need for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the relevant multilateral agreements, international law, and provisions of the UN Charter,” according to the statement. -PTI

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