Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | March 3, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Moscow, Russia, on February 7, 2022. File

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Moscow, Russia, on February 7, 2022. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

A Ukrainian delegation has left to hold the second round of negotiations talks with Russia on the Belarus-Poland border. The talks will be held on a day when Ukraine lost its first major city to Russian forces.

The number of people fleeing Ukraine reached 1 million, according to the UNHCR, and is expected to grow in the coming days as Russian forces continue to advance into Ukranian territory.

Moscow’s global isolation intensifed as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted 141-5 (35 abstentions) to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling on Moscow to unconditionally withdraw its troops. The International Criminal Court launched a probe into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Ukraine, while the European Union cut seven Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and banned Kremlin-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik from broadcasting into the bloc.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a telephonic coversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the safe evacuation of Indians from Ukraine. Indian Air Force’s first evacuation flight landed in Delhi early on Thursday, while three more are expected to land later in the day.

Watch | PM Modi interacts with students returned from Ukraine in U.P. ‘s Varanasi

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.

Listen | How will the sanctions on Russia impact global trade and economy?

Here are the latest updates:

Ukraine

Ukraine, Russia agree to create safe corridors

A member of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia says the parties have reached a tentative agreement to organize safe corridors for civilians to evacuate and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who took part in Thursday’s talks in Belarus near the Polish border, said that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary understanding that cease-fires will be observed in areas where the safe corridors are established. — AP

USA

U.S. establishes direct line with Russia

The Pentagon has established a channel of direct communication with the Russian Ministry of Defence to avoid unintended conflict related to the war in Ukraine.

A U.S. defence official said the “de-confliction line” was established March 1 “for the purpose of preventing miscalculation, military incidents, and escalation”. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the communication line has not been announced. — AP

Ukraine

 Russian forces approach huge nuclear plant

Ukrainian officials say a column of Russian forces is headed toward Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which accounts for about one quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.

Both the Ukrainian state atomic energy company and the mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, said Russian troops were approaching the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Officials said loud shots were heard in the city late on Thursday.

“Many young men in athletic clothes and armed with Kalashnikov have come into the city. They are breaking down door and trying to get into the apartments of local residents,” the statement from Energoatom said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has joined Ukraine’s president in calling on the West to close the skies over Ukraine’s nuclear plants as fighting intensified around the major energy hub on the left bank of the Dnieper River and the Khakhovka Reservoir.

Shmyhal said he already had appealed to NATO and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog.

“Close the skies over Ukraine! It is a question of the security of the whole world!” Mr. Shmyhal said in a statement Thursday evening.

The U.S. and NATO allies have ruled out creating a no-fly zone since the move would directly pit Russian and Western militaries. — AP

USA

Ukrainians in U.S. given temporary legal status

The Department of Homeland Security will grant temporary legal status to Ukrainians living in the U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Thursday that Temporary Protected Status would be extended for 18 months.

“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” Mr. Mayorkas said in a statement.

Temporary Protected Status is given to citizens of countries devastated by war or natural disasters.

It comes as pressure was mounting on the Biden administration from members of Congress, including the Senate’s top Democrat, to grant the status to Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion of their country.

In order to be eligible for the protection, individuals would have to have been in the U.S. since at least Tuesday. — AP

Berlin

Watchdog says Chernobyl staff are exhausted

The United Nations’ atomic watchdog says Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that staff who have been kept at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant since Russian troops took control of the site a week ago are facing “psychological pressure and moral exhaustion”.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Thursday that the staff must be allowed to rest and rotate so their crucial work can be carried out safely and securely.

Mr. Grossi received “a joint appeal from the Ukraine Government, regulatory authority and the national operator which added that personnel at the Chornobyl site ‘have limited opportunities to communicate, move and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work,’” the IAEA said in a statement.

Reactor No. 4 at the power plant exploded and caught fire in 1986, shattering the building and spewing radioactive material high into the sky. Even 36 years later, radioactivity is still leaking from history’s worst nuclear disaster.

Ukraine has lost regulatory control over all the facilities in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to the Russians and asked the IAEA to undertake measures “in order to reestablish legal regulation of safety of nuclear facilities and installations” within the site, the statement added.

Mr. Grossi has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided.

“I remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, especially about the country’s nuclear power plants, which must be able to continue operating without any safety or security threats,” he said. “Any accident caused as a result of the military conflict could have extremely serious consequences for people and the environment, in Ukraine and beyond.” — AP

France

Macron says Putin ‘refuses’ to halt attacks

French President Emmanuel Macron said on March 3 that he has again asked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to halt attacks on Ukraine, but that Putin won’t do it.

“At this point, he refuses,” Mr. Macron wrote in Twitter post.

He confirmed that he had spoken to Mr. Putin on the phone earlier on Thursday and said he will continue the dialogue to prevent “more human tragedy.”

“We must prevent the worst from happening,” Mr. Macron also said in his post. Dialogue has to continue to “protect the [civilian] population, to obtain good will gestures ... to put an end to this war,” Mr. Macron said. — AP

USA

U.S. says Russia has fired 480 missiles so far

U.S. officials say Russia has fired 480 missiles at Ukraine as Russian troops make more progress in the south, but are largely stalled in the north.

The official says about 90% of the Russian combat power that had been arrayed around Ukraine is now in the country.

Specifically, the official said that the majority of the Russian missile launches since the war began — or more than 230 of them — are coming from mobile systems within Ukraine. More than 150 missiles have been fired from within Russia, more than 70 from Belarus and only a very small number from ships in the Black Sea. Ukrainian air defences are still intact and have been effective against the missiles, the official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said Russian progress in the south has been aided by the country’s eight-year presence in Crimea, where Russia has built infrastructure and systems to sustain troops. As a result, the supply lines to troops in the south are much shorter and more effective.

The official said the U.S. has not seen any Russian naval activity or other appreciable moves by Russia to move on Odesa. He said he is not challenging Ukrainian reports of activity there, but that the U.S. can’t independently confirm them. He added, however, that the U.S. believes that Russia’s goal may be to move past Kherson to Mykolayiv in order to set up a base of operations there that they can then use in a move to encircle and take Odesa.

The U.S. also assesses that Russian forces are just outside the city of Kharkiv, close to the ring road, the official said. — AP

Russia

Russia says new round of talks expected soon

Vladimir Medinsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisor who led the Russian delegation in the talks on March 3 in Belarus near the Polish border, said the parties’ “positions are absolutely clear, they are written down point by point”, including issues related to a political settlement of the conflict.

He added without elaboration that “mutual understanding was found on part of them”.

He confirmed that Russia and Ukraine reached a tentative agreement to create safe corridors for civilians to exit besieged cities and observe local cease-fires in areas where they will be created.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior Russian lawmaker who was part of the Russian delegation in talks, said that the details of safe corridors will need to be worked out quickly. He said that the next round of talks could lead to agreements, some of which would need to be ratified by Russian and Ukrainian parliaments. — AP

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Russia

Putin says Ukrainian forces have taken foreign citizens hostage

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Ukrainian soldiers had taken thousands of foreign citizens, including students hostage.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia’s military operations in Ukraine were going according to plan and praised its soldiers as heroes.

In televised comments, Putin made a series of allegations against Ukrainian forces for which he did not provide evidence, including that they were holding foreign citizens hostage and using human shields. - Reuters

Russia

Putin says Russian operation in Ukraine is going to plan

Putin says Russian operation in Ukraine is going to plan President Vladimir Putin said on March 3 that Russia’s military operations in Ukraine were going according to plan and he praised its soldiers as heroes.

“I want to say that the special military operation is proceeding strictly in line with the timetable. According to plan. All the tasks that have been set are being successfully resolved,” he said, a week after Russia sent tanks and troops into Ukraine from the north, east and south.

Mr. Putin’s televised comments seemed designed to rebut statements by Western Governments and intelligence agencies that Russia’s campaign has stumbled in the face of logistical problems, tactical mistakes and fiercer-than-expected resistance from Ukraine.

He made a series of allegations against Ukrainian forces for which he did not provide evidence, including that they had tortured and killed Russian prisoners of war, and were holding foreign citizens hostage and using human shields.

He reaffirmed his stated rationale for the war, which Ukraine and the West have rejected as baseless propaganda.

“Now on Ukrainian territory, our soldiers and officers are fighting for Russia, for a peaceful life for the citizens of Donbass, for the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, so that we can’t be threatened by an anti-Russia right on our borders that the West has been creating for years,” he said. — AP

Ukraine

Zelenskyy asks Putin to meet, says ‘I don’t bite’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him, salting the proposal with sarcasm.

“Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 meters,” he said Thursday, apparently referring to recent photos of Mr. Putin sitting at one end of an extremely long table when he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I don’t bite. What are you afraid of?” Mr. Zelenskyy said at a Thursday news conference.

Mr. Zelenskyy said it was sensible to have talks: “Any words are more important than shots.” - AP

India

At UNHRC, India calls for immediate cessation of violence and end to hostilities in Ukraine

India on Thursday sought an immediate cessation of violence and end to hostilities in Ukraine as it called for the respect and protection of human rights of people in the war-torn European country and safe humanitarian access to conflict zones.

“We are greatly concerned over the steadily worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine,” India said at the Urgent Debate Thursday regarding the human rights situation in Ukraine at the 49th Human Rights Council Session in Geneva.

India called for an immediate cessation of violence and an end to hostilities. “No solution can ever be arrived at the cost of human lives. Dialogue and diplomacy are the only solution for settling differences and disputes,” India said. - PTI

Russia-India

Russia says 130 buses ready to evacuate Indian students, foreigners from Ukraine

Russia is ready to send 130 buses to evacuate stranded Indian students and other foreigners from war-torn Ukraine’s Kharkiv and Sumy cities to its Belgorod Region, a top Russian military general said on Thursday.

The remarks by Russian National Defence Control Center head Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed the safe evacuation of Indians from the conflict areas in Ukraine.

“A total of 130 comfortable buses are ready to depart to Kharkov (Kharkiv) and Sumy from the Nekhoteyevka and Sudzha checkpoints in the Belgorod Region since 6 a.m. today in order to Rescue Indian students and citizens of other foreign states,”

Colonel-General Mizintsev was quoted as saying by the state-owned TASS news agency. - PTI

India

Several students still stranded in Kharkiv, a day after govt’s ‘leave immediately’ advisory

A day after the Indian Government asked citizens to “immediately” leave the war-hit Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, several students are still stranded there, desperately waiting to get to a safe zone as the Russian onslaught on the eastern Ukrainian city continued.

As fighting intensified in Kharkiv, India had on Wednesday asked its nationals to leave the second-largest Ukrainian city urgently to three nearby places “even on foot”, while Russia promised to create “humanitarian corridors” for evacuation of Indians from the conflict zones.

However, the students claimed they are still struggling to get out to safety.

“Just because the night passed and we survived does not mean the struggle is over for us. We are far from being in a safe zone. We did start walking but the railway stations were flooded with people and still haven’t been able to board a train,” said Firdaus Tarannum, an Indian medical student in Kharkiv.

“We are in a shelter at Pisochyn near Kharkiv. We have no blankets and are left with almost no food. We started walking immediately after the advisory by government. I hope they arrange buses for us soon and we can be out of here,” said Rehyam Khan, a first-year medical student.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Thursday advised all Indian nationals in Kharkiv to fill up an online form on an urgent basis. - PTI

India

Evacuation is a duty not a favour: Rahul as Cong attacks govt over Indians stuck in Ukraine

The Congress on Thursday continued its attack on the government over bringing back safely Indian students from war-hit Ukraine with Rahul Gandhi saying evacuation is a duty and not a favour.

On Twitter, Gandhi shared a video of an Indian female student who says the government’s duty is to provide them safety in Ukraine and help them safely escape from the war zone and not just bring them back when they crossed over into a safe neighbouring country.

“Evacuation is a Duty, not a Favour,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also shared the video and attacked the government. “This brave daughter of India has exposed “Fake PR” of Modi Government! As PM, Home Minister and Defence Minister were busy in election rallies, this was the harrowing experience of our children in Ukraine,” he said.

Russia

Russian news channel RT to broadcast on Rumble after Big Tech curbs

Russian state-controlled news network RT said on Thursday it will begin broadcasting on Rumble, a YouTube-like video site, after tech companies including Meta Platforms and Twitter have restricted access to RT following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Tech companies in recent days have moved to restrict Russian state-controlled media including RT and Sputnik in response to requests from governments and calls to prevent the spread of Russia propaganda.

Rumble is a video site popular among U.S. political conservatives. - Reuters

Ukraine

Second round of negotiation talks begin

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office says the second round of talks with the Russians has begun over the war in Ukraine. - AP

France

Macron believes ‘the worst is to come’ in Ukraine after Putin call, says aide

French President Emmanuel Macron believes “the worst is to come” in Ukraine after a 90-minute phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who appears intent on seizing “the whole” of the country, an aide to the French leader said. “The expectation of the President is that the worst is to come, given what President Putin told him,” a senior aide to the French leader told reporters on condition of anonymity. “There was nothing in what President Putin told us that should reassure us. He showed great determination to continue the operation,” the aide continued. He added that Putin “wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine. He will, in his own words, carry out his operation to ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine to the end.” “You can understand the extent to which these words are shocking and unacceptable and the President told him that it was lies,” the aide said. Mr. Macron also urged Mr. Putin to avoid civilian casualties and allow for humanitarian access. - AFP

Canada

Canada slaps 35% tariffs on Russia, Belarus imports

Canada on Thursday revoked special trading status for Russia and Belarus over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, resulting in 35% tariffs being slapped on their imports, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced.

“Canada will be the first country to revoke Russia’s and Belarus’s most favoured nation status as a trading partner under Canadian law,” Ms. Freeland told a news conference.

As a result, Russia and Moscow-ally Belarus “will be subjected to a tariff of 35% on their exports to Canada,” joining North Korea as the only other country that does not benefit from this trading status, she said.

India

MEA says 18,000 Indians out of Ukraine, no reports of hostages

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday that 18,000 Indians had now come out of Ukraine and were being facilitated to return to India.

The MEA also said there were no reports of any Indian hostages being taken in Ukraine.

The Ministry said this in response to statements by both Russia and Ukraine, accusing the other side of taking Indian hostages. - Suhasini Haidar

Ukraine

Mariupol Mayor says Russian forces trying to ‘blockade’ port city

Russian troops are seeking to lay siege to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and cut it off from electricity, food, water, heating and transportation, its Mayor said Thursday.

“They are trying to create a blockade here, just like in Leningrad,” Vadym Boichenko said in a statement referring to the horrific seige of Russia’s second largest city by the Nazis during World War II, which left hundreds of thousands dead.

“These bastards couldn’t find a way to break us. So now they are trying to prevent us from repairing electricity, water and heating supply,” Mr. Boichenko said, adding that Russian troops also damaged the rail link. - AFP

India

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju visits Slovakia’s border with Ukraine

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who is currently in Slovakia overseeing the evacuation of Indian students from Ukraine, on Thursday visited a border transit area along the war-hit nation. “Today morning, I visited Bidovce in Slovakia to check basic facilities for our citizens coming from Ukraine. Initially they had faced difficulties which will be taken care of now,” he told PTI. Rijiju also interacted with the students who reached Bidovce from Ukraine and enquired about their well being. - AFP

France

France seizes Russian oil supremo’s yacht as EU sanctions bite

France said Thursday it had seized a superyacht owned by Russia’s oil czar Igor Sechin, following through on threats to target sanctioned oligarchs close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The vessel, “Amore Vero”, was seized at a shipyard at La Ciotat on the French Riviera, a popular summer playground for the super-rich where many tycoons moor their vessels for pleasure or maintenance. “French customs carried out the seizure of the yacht Amore Vero in La Ciotat as part of the implementation of sanctions by the European Union against Russia,” a statement for the French Finance Ministry said. The 85.6-metre (280 ft) vessel was owned by a company “in which Mr. Sechin is the main shareholder”, the statement added.

Mr. Sechin, seen as part of Putin’s tightest inner circle and a former deputy prime minister, is chief executive of Russian oil giant Rosneft. - AFP

India

Pace of evacuation accelerating, about 1000 Indians left Kharkiv after advisory: MEA

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said the pace of India’s evacuation operation from Ukraine is accelerating and about 1,000 Indians have left Kharkiv to nearby Pisochyn pursuant to its advisory a day ago.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing that the Indian side is in touch with both Ukrainian and Russian authorities to examine the modalities of how Indians can be evacuated from both Kharkiv and Sumy.

“We are closely following the developments in Kharkiv, Sumy and other cities in eastern Ukraine. As you know yesterday we issued an advisory for Indians in Kharkiv to leave the city by 6 p.m. local time. Pursuant to this a large number of students have left Kharkiv and are currently in the nearby issue of Pisochyn. We estimate this number to be around 1,000,” he said.

“We are currently looking at transportation options to move them from there to western Ukraine or southern Ukraine depending on the transportation options,” Mr. Bagchi said. - PTI

Ukraine

Nine killed after Russian air strike hits two schools: Governor of Ukraine’s Chernihiv

At least nine people have been killed and four wounded after a Russian air strike hit two schools and private houses in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region on Thursday, Governor Viacheslav Chaus said in an online post.

“Rescue work is ongoing. According to the state emergency services, there are for now nine people killed and four wounded,” he said.

Russia-France

Russian goals in Ukraine will be achieved in any case: Putin tells Macron

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the goals of Russia’s operation in Ukraine - its demilitarisation and neutral status - will be achieved in any case, the Kremlin said.

Mr. Putin said that any attempts by Kyiv to delay negotiations would results in Moscow adding more items to its list of demands. - Reuters

Norway

World’s largest sovereign wealth fund says Russia assets down 90%

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, on Thursday estimated that its Russian assets had been reduced to a tenth of their value, over the war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russia.

At the end of 2021, the fund held some 27.4 billion Norwegian kroner ($3.1 billion, €2.8 billion) in Russian equities, or 0.2% of the total portfolio, it said in an annual report published on Thursday.

Their value is now estimated at about 2.5 billion kroner, a figure described as “very, very uncertain”, fund officials said. - AFP

Kyiv, Ukraine

Ukraine team headed to conflict talks with Russia: Kyiv

A Ukrainian delegation said Thursday it was en route for a second round of ceasefire talks with Russia on the Belarus-Poland border on the day Ukraine lost its first major city to Russian forces.

“On our way to negotiations with the Russian Federation. Already in helicopters,” presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter, posting a photo of himself with lawmaker David Arakhamia in what appears to be a helicopter cabin. - AFP

Beijing, China

Russians, Belarusians out of Paralympics amid boycott risk

Faced with threats of withdrawals and growing animosity in the Athletes Village, organisers of the Winter Paralympics on Thursday reversed course and expelled athletes from Russia and Belarus.

The about-face came less than 24 hours after the International Paralympic Committee announced it would allow Russians and Belarusians to compete when the Games open on Friday, but only as neutral athletes with colours, flags and other national symbols removed because of the invasion of Ukraine.

The Paralympics in Beijing, which follow the Winter Olympics, close on March 13.

“The war has now come to these Games and behind the scenes many governments are having an influence on our cherished event,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said Thursday after announcing the ban. “We were trying to protect the Games from war.”

Mr. Parsons said the IPC underestimated the negative reaction to letting Russians and Belarusians compete — even as neutral athletes. - AP

India

PM Modi interacts with Ukraine-returned students

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with students, who returned from Ukraine, in Varanasi, news agency PTI reported citing official sources.

During interaction with the Prime Minister, students from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, shared their experiences in Ukraine.

Watch | PM Modi talks of medical education system with Ukraine-returned students
Russia

No Russian Grand Prix in future as F1 terminates contract: official

Formula One has removed Russia as a Grand Prix host for good due to the invasion of Ukraine, by terminating its contract with the organisers, the championship promoters announced on Thursday.

“Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future,” they said in a statement.

The Black Sea resort of Sochi has hosted the race since the first running in 2014 but Saint Petersburg was due to replace it as the venue in 2023.

Formula One had already cancelled this year’s race following public unease among leading drivers. - AFP

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Sweden

IKEA temporarily closes its stores in Russia, halts sourcing in Russia, Belarus

IKEA, the world’s biggest furniture brand, is closing all its stores in Russia, and pausing all its sourcing in Russia and Belarus, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The war has both a huge human impact and is resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions, which is why the company groups have decided to temporarily pause IKEA operations in Russia,” Brand owner Inter IKEA and store owner Ingka Group said in a joint statement on Thursday.

Inter IKEA is in charge of supply, and Ingka Group owns most IKEA stores worldwide, including all 17 in Russia.

In the year through last August, Russia was IKEA’s 10th-biggest market with retail sales of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) or 4% total retail sales. Belarus is purely a sourcing market for IKEA, it has no stores in the country.

Rajasthan, India

Ukranian soldiers ill-treated us, say evacuated Rajasthan students

Indian students who returned here from Ukraine said the situation at the war-hit country’s border with Romania was horrific, with Ukranian soldiers thrashing Indians and firing tear gas shells.

The eight students who arrived in Jaipur after fleeing the war-torn nation amid the intense Russian military offensive also accused the Indian embassy officials in Ukraine of not extending any support. Tina Kumari, a first year student in a medical university in Ukraine, said, “Ukrainian soldiers were treating us very badly at the border. They were beating boys, firing tear gas shells and also bullets in the air.

“The gate was being opened for 10 minutes and just a couple of students could enter. There was no support from the Indian embassy in Ukraine or at the border.” The situation at the Ukraine border was very bad with thousands of students jostling and trying to enter Romania amid the torturous treatment of Ukrainian soldiers, she told reporters at the Jaipur airport.

Rajasthan Industry Minister Shakuntla Rawat, BJP MP from Sikar Swami Sumedhanand and others were present at the Jaipur airport to receive the students who also thanked the Centre for airlifting them, the Government of Romania for facilitating them and the state dispensation for making arrangements to send them home. - PTI

China

China denies asking Russia not to invade until post-Olympics

China on Thursday denounced a report that it asked Russia to delay invading Ukraine until after the Beijing Winter Olympics as “fake news” and a “very despicable” attempt to divert attention and shift blame over the conflict.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also repeated China’s accusations that Washington provoked the war by not ruling out NATO membership for Ukraine.

“We hope the culprit of the crisis would reflect on their role in the Ukraine crisis, take up their responsibilities, and take practical actions to ease the situation and solve the problem instead of blaming others,” Mr. Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.

The New York Times report is purely fake news, and such behaviours of diverting attentions and shifting blames are very despicable,” Mr. Wang said.

The Times article cited a “Western intelligence report” considered credible by officials. - AP

Russia

Kremlin hails Russian troops in Ukraine as heroes

The Kremlin on Thursday praised Russian troops fighting in Ukraine as heroes who would go down in history and described the deaths of soldiers there as a tragedy.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said President Vladimir Putin would convene Russia’s Security Council later on Thursday but did not say what the group of top state officials and heads of defence and security agencies would discuss.

In a briefing with reporters, Mr. Peskov dismissed speculation that Russian authorities plans to introduce martial law following its invasion of Ukraine or that they will prevent men leaving Russia.

United Kingdom

We need to make sure the Russian economy is crippled - U.K.’s Foreign Secretary

The West needs to ensure the Russian economy is crippled so that President Vladimir Putin is unable to continue his invasion of Ukraine, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Thursday.

“We need to ... degrade the Russian economy,” Ms. Truss said during a news conference in Lithuania. “We need to make sure ... that the Russian economy is crippled so it is unable to continue to fund Putin and the war machine.”

Ukraine

Ukraine is staging counter-attacks against Russian troops, Ukrainian official says

Ukraine is able to launch counter-attacks against invading Russian forces even as it defends itself, a military adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.

“Help to us is increasing every minute and the strength of the enemy is decreasing every minute. We’re not only defending but also counter-attacking,” he said in a televised briefing.

Bangladesh

Bangladeshi cargo ship hit by missile at Ukrainian port

A Bangladesh cargo ship has been hit by a missile at Ukrainian port of Olivia, reports Reuters.

One crew members has been killed, according to a government official.

Russia

Russia's liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy closes

The Ekho Moskvy radio station -- a symbol of newfound media freedom in post-Soviet Russia -- said Thursday it would shut down after it was taken off air over its coverage of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"By a majority vote of the Ekho Moskvy board of directors, it was decided to liquidate the Ekho Moskvy radio station and website," its editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said on Telegram. - AFP

The Hague

ICC prosecutor launches Ukraine war crimes investigation

The International Criminal Court prosecutor has launched an investigation that could target senior officials believed responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide amid a rising civilian death toll and widespread destruction of property during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan announced the probe late Wednesday night after dozens of the court's member states asked him to take action. - AP

India

Jaishankar briefs consultative panel on Ukraine crisis, opposition leaders say stand united with govt.

The opposition stands united with the government, several leaders said on Thursday after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar briefed the consultative committee of his ministry on Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the evacuation of students from the war-hit nation.

The meeting of the 21-member committee, chaired by Jaishankar, was attended by nine MPs from six parties and came in for fulsome praise from some leaders.

“We all are united,” Tharoor told reporters after the meeting that was also attended by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his party colleague Anand Sharma.- PTI

World Bank

World Bank stops all projects in Russia, Belarus with ‘immediate effect’

 The World Bank has announced that it will stop all its programmes in Russia and Belarus with “immediate effect” in response to Moscow’s military operations in Ukraine and “hostilities” against the people of the war-torn country.

“The World Bank Group has not approved any new loans to or investments in Russia since 2014. There has also been no new lending approved to Belarus since mid-2020,” the Washington-based global lender said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and hostilities against the people of Ukraine, the World Bank Group has stopped all its programmes in Russia and Belarus with immediate effect,” the statement said.- PTI

Latvia

Ukrainian diplomats in Moscow moved to Latvia

 Ukrainian diplomats formerly based in Moscow arrived in Latvia on Wednesday evening, Latvia’s foreign minister said.

“Latvia welcomes Ukrainian diplomats who left Moscow and crossed Latvian-Russian border last night,” minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted on Thursday.

Latvia said on Saturday it would give refuge to the diplomats after receiving their plea for help.- Reuters

Ukraine

Ukraine says 34 civilians killed in Kharkiv region, no water or power in Mariupol city

Russian shelling and attacks on civilian populations killed 34 civilians in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region in the past 24 hours between March 2-3, the emergency services said on Thursday.

Separately, the governor of the Ukraine-controlled eastern Donetsk region said the port city of Mariupol, one of the first targets of the Russian invasion, was without electricity or water supplies.- Reuters

Ukraine
A view shows damaged buildings following recent shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine on March 2, 2022.

A view shows damaged buildings following recent shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine on March 2, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Ukraine

Ukraine presidential adviser urges humanitarian corridors, OSCE help

Ukraine needs humanitarian corridors supported by bodies such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the wake of Russia’s invasion, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office said on Thursday.

“The villages and towns where Russian troops’ columns are stationed immediately turn into places of looting, robbery, murder,” Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

“We need humanitarian corridors - food, medicine, ambulance, evacuation. We need active help of international organizations, including #OSCE. Enough talking.”- Reuters

International Paralympic Committee

Russian and Belarus athletes banned from Winter Paralympics: IPC

 Russian and Belarusian athletes are banned from competing in the Beijing Winter Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee announced Thursday, citing the war in Ukraine.

“In order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from RPC and NPC Belarus,” the IPC said in a statement.

The ban was a reversal of a decision the previous day to allow the athletes to compete in the Games, which start on Friday.

The statement said multiple Paralympics Committees, teams and athletes had threatened not to compete if the Russian and Belarusian athletes were allowed, “jeapordizing the viability” of the Games.- AFP

Germany

Germany to deliver more anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine

Germany will increase its weapons deliveries to Ukraine following the Russian invasion by sending an 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles to the conflict zone, a government source told AFP on Thursday.

The government “approved further support for Ukraine”, involving the delivery of STRELA-type anti-aircraft missiles of Soviet manufacture, which were previously used by the army of communist East Germany, the source said.

Germany’s first arms consignment of 1,000 anti-tank and another 500 anti-aircraft missiles has already been despatched to the front, the government said on Wednesday.- AFP

India
Students with arrive at Hindan Airbase after being evacuated from the conflict hit zone of Ukraine from Poland by the IAF C 17 Globemaster Aircraft in Ghaziabad on March 3, 2022.

Students with arrive at Hindan Airbase after being evacuated from the conflict hit zone of Ukraine from Poland by the IAF C 17 Globemaster Aircraft in Ghaziabad on March 3, 2022. | Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

United Kingdom

U.K. sanctions insurance services for Russian aviation companies

Britain on Thursday announced new sanctions preventing Russian companies in the aviation and space industry from accessing British insurance and reinsurance services following the invasion of Ukraine.

“Russian companies in the aviation or space industry will be prevented from making use of UK-based insurance or reinsurance services directly or indirectly... in response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” the treasury office said in a statement.- AFP

India

Supreme Court tells Attorney-General to talk to Centre over evacuation of Indian students stranded in Ukraine

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal to use his good offices and urge the Centre to come to the aid of Indian students believed to be stuck without food, water and money at the Ukrainian border even as the crisis deepens.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana called for the Attorney General, the top law officer of the government, when a lawyer from Kashmir made an urgent mentioning on behalf of a girl student who, he said, was among a group of 30 stranded at the border.

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Hungary

Hungary will not veto EU sanctions on Russia

Hungary will not veto European Union sanctions against Russia and the unity of the 27-member bloc is paramount amid the war in Ukraine, which Budapest condemns unequivocally, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said.

In an interview with news website mandiner.hu, Orban added that Hungary’s ties with Russia had been “balanced and fair” until the very recent past, but the war has created a new situation.

He added, however, that there was no reason to cut energy ties with Moscow.- Reuters

Japan

Japan to freeze assets of four more Russian banks from April 2

 Japan will freeze the assets of four additional Russian banks, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Thursday, taking to seven the total number to be slapped with such sanctions by Tokyo.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet approved the decision to freeze the assets of VTB Bank, Sovcombank, Novikombank and Otkritie, the Ministry of Finance said in a document.

The freezing of the assets of the banks, all closely related to the Russian government, will take effect on April 2, a ministry official said.- Reuters

India
Indian nationals, evacuated from war-torn Ukraine, board an IAF C-17 Globemaster plane in Bucharest to return to India. As part of Operation Ganga the C-17 plane carrying 200 passengers, mostly students, returned to Hindon airbase early Thursday.

Indian nationals, evacuated from war-torn Ukraine, board an IAF C-17 Globemaster plane in Bucharest to return to India. As part of Operation Ganga the C-17 plane carrying 200 passengers, mostly students, returned to Hindon airbase early Thursday. | Photo Credit: PTI

Russia

Abramovich selling Chelsea in fallout from Russia's invasion

Faced with the threat of financial sanctions targeting Russians, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich announced Wednesday he is trying to sell the Premier League club that became trophy-winning machine thanks to his lavish investment.

The decision by the billionaire oligarch to sell his most high-profile asset is one of the clearest signs yet that Russia's business elite are feeling the repercussions of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

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UAE

Ukrainian passport holders can seek UAE visas

 The United Arab Emirates says Ukrainian passport holders continue to be eligible for visas on arrival to the Gulf state.

The UAE’s Foreign Ministry statement on Thursday came in response to media coverage quoting Ukraine’s Embassy in the UAE saying that the Gulf country is reimposing visa requirements on Ukrainians and suspending an agreement for visa-free travel between the two countries.

The energy-rich UAE, which relies on Russian and Ukrainian wheat exports, is home to some 15,000 Ukrainian residents. AP

Belarus

Russian casualties arrive at Belarus hospital

A string of seven bus-size Russian military ambulances — their windows blocked with gray shades — pulled up to the back entrance of the main hospital about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the border with Ukraine on Tuesday evening, ferrying casualties from the front.

The convoy was part of what residents and doctors said has in recent days become a steady flow of Russian soldiers wounded in fierce fighting around Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, where a Russian advance has stalled in the face of strong resistance.- AP

Russia

Russia imposes 30% commission on forex purchases by individuals - brokers

Russia’s central bank has imposed a 30% commission on foreign currency purchases by individuals on currency exchanges, brokers told Reuters, citing a letter from the regulator. Reuters

Kharkiv, Ukraine

OSCE member dies during Kharkiv shelling

 The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe says one of its members died during shelling in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Maryna Fenina was killed while getting supplies for her family, the group said in a news release Wednesday. Fenina worked with the organization’s monitoring mission in Ukraine.

“In Kharkiv and other cities and towns in Ukraine, missiles, shells and rockets are hitting residential buildings and town centers, killing and injuring innocent civilians — women, men and children alike,” it said.- AP

India

Ministry of External Affairs issues a statement refuting reports of Indian students being held hostage in Ukraine

Kherson, Ukraine

Russian forces capture Ukrainian city of Kherson

 Russian forces have taken the Ukrainian city of Kherson, local officials confirmed, the first major urban centre to fall since Moscow invaded one week ago.

“The (Russian) occupiers are in all parts of the city and are very dangerous,” Gennady Lakhuta, head of the regional administration, wrote on messaging service Telegram late Wednesday.

The strategic port city of 290,000 people near the Black Sea came under siege as Russian forces pressed ahead with their offensive across other urban centres.

Another key Ukrainian port, Berdiansk, has already been seized by Russian troops, while Mariupol has repelled attacks “with dignity,” according to that city’s mayor, Vadim Boichenko.- AFP

A military truck and tank are seen on a street of Kherson, Ukraine on March 1, 2022, in this screen grab from a video obtained by Reuters on March 2, 2022.

A military truck and tank are seen on a street of Kherson, Ukraine on March 1, 2022, in this screen grab from a video obtained by Reuters on March 2, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

U.S.A.

U.S. says Russia blocks independent news outlets, social media

The United States accused Russia on Wednesday of launching a “full war on media freedom and the truth” by blocking independent news outlets and preventing Russians from hearing news of the invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia’s government is also throttling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms that tens of millions of Russia’s citizens rely on to access independent information and opinions,” the State Department said in a statement.

Russians also used social media to connect to each other and the outside world, it added. - Reuters

Mumbai

Another flight from Bucharest carrying Indians stranded in Ukraine lands in Mumbai

A flight from Bucharest landed in Mumbai Thursday carrying Indians stranded in war-torn Ukraine, an official said.

Union minister Raosaheb Danve welcomed the passengers as soon as the Air India Express Flight IX 1202 landed here.

“I have been asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to welcome you. There were around 17,000 Indians, including students, stranded there (in Ukraine) and the PM started Operation Ganga to evacuate them,” Danve said, interacting with passengers inside the aircraft.- PTI

New Delhi

 IAF’s first evacuation flight with 200 Indians lands in Delhi

The Indian Air Force’s first evacuation flight with 200 Indians from Romanian capital Bucharest landed at the Hindon air base here in the early hours of Thursday, sources said.

The first flight—which was conducted using C-17 military transport aircraft—landed in Delhi at 1.30 am.

Three more C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with approximately 300 evacuees from Ukraine will land at the Hindon airbase by 8 am on Thursday, sources said.- PTI

Ukraine

Russians besiege Ukrainian ports as armored column stalls

Russian forces laid siege to two strategic Ukrainian seaports Wednesday and pressed their bombardment of the country’s second-biggest city, while the huge armored column threatening Kyiv appeared stalled outside the capital.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Ukrainians to keep up the resistance. He vowed that the invaders would have “not one quiet moment” and described Russian soldiers as “confused children who have been used.”

With fighting going on on multiple fronts across the country, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Mariupol, a large city on the Azov Sea, was encircled by Russian forces, while the status of another vital port, Kherson, a Black Sea shipbuilding city of 280,000, remained unclear.- AP

Ukraine

Ukraine refugees reach 1 million in 7 days

The U.N. refugee agency says 1 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion less than a week ago, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.

The tally from UNHCR amounts to more than 2 percent of Ukraine’s population on the move in under a week. The World Bank counted the population at 44 million at the end of 2020.

The U.N. agency has predicted that up to 4 million people could eventually leave Ukraine but cautioned that even that projection could be revised upward.- AP

People from Ukraine arrive at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, on March 2, 2022.

People from Ukraine arrive at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, on March 2, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

International Criminal Court

ICC to start ‘active’ probe into war crimes in Ukraine

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said Wednesday an active probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine “will immediately proceed” after his office received the backing of 39 countries.

The countries include all EU member states, as well as Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and several Latin American countries.

“I have notified the ICC Presidency a few moments ago of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations in the Situation” in Ukraine, Karim Khan wrote in a statement.

“Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced,” he added.- AFP

U.S.A.

Biden administration ‘spared no effort’ to persuade India on U.N. vote condemning Russia: U.S. diplomat Donald Lu

The Biden administration pulled out all the stops to persuade India to vote with 141 other countries who condemned Russia for attacking Ukraine, top U.S. diplomat Donald Lu said.

Mr. Lu was speaking to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, just after India had abstained from a vote on the U.N. General Assembly resolution.

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Kharkiv, Ukraine

Indian students fume at embassy’s ‘short notice’ advisory leave Kharkiv

There is anger and exasperation among hundreds of Indian students and professionals in Kharkiv after the Indian Embassy in Kyiv issued an advisory on Wednesday asking them to leave the city at a “short notice”.

“If the situation was this bad, why did the government not ask us to leave before. Students like me repeatedly asked the government to take some action as the situation was worsening rapidly. But despite these requests nothing happened. And, now students have been asked to leave at such a short notice,” said Bhanvi Bhatia who managed to rush to the main train station in Kharkiv and was lucky to board a train, but she feared for many left behind.

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European Union

EU cuts Russian banks from SWIFT, bans RT, Sputnik

The European Union on Wednesday cut seven Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and banned Kremlin-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik from broadcasting into the bloc.

The measures, effective immediately, were the latest ratcheting up of the Western-coordinated sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, now in its seventh day.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 10:06:40 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/ukraine-russia-crisis-live-updates-march-3-2022/article65185978.ece