- Nations pledge to remove ‘selected’ Russian banks from SWIFT
- Ukraine embassy in Israel calls for volunteers to fight against Russian invasion
- Ukraine open to Turkish-mediated talks
- Ukraine claims 3,500 Russian troops killed or injured
- Jewish Agency to open immigration processing centers for Jews along Ukraine border
- Nations pledge to remove ‘selected’ Russian banks from SWIFT
- Ukraine embassy in Israel calls for volunteers to fight against Russian invasion
- Ukraine open to Turkish-mediated talks
- Ukraine claims 3,500 Russian troops killed or injured
- Jewish Agency to open immigration processing centers for Jews along Ukraine border
Russian troop vehicles were seen on the streets of Ukraine's northeastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday, Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, wrote on Telegram.
Videos published by Herashchenko and Ukraine's State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection showed several light military vehicles moving along a street and, separately, a burning tank.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is aware of requests by Ukraine’s UN ambassador and others to repatriate the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in action in Ukraine but has no numbers.
Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya tweeted Saturday that Ukraine has appealed to the ICRC “to facilitate repatriation of thousands of bodies of Russian soldiers” killed during its invasion of Ukraine. An accompanying chart claimed 3,500 Russian troops have been killed.
Kyslytsya tweeted that parents in Russia should have a chance “to bury them with dignity.” “Don’t let (Russian President Vladimir) Putin hide scale of tragedy,” he urged.
Laetitia Courtois, ICRC’s permanent observer to the United Nations told The Associated Press Saturday night that the current security situation “is a primary concern and a limitation for our teams on the ground” and “we therefore cannot confirm numbers or other details.”
Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) leading democratic economies will meet online in an emergency session over the Ukraine crisis on Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told national broadcaster NHK.
Hayashi wanted to reconfirm Japan's cooperation with its other partners in a bid to "improve the situation," according to the report.
He called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "a unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force."
The Japanese foreign minister said Russia's actions were "absolutely unacceptable" as they "clearly violate international law."
The G7 has already lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine despite the West's diplomatic efforts to avoid war. Japan has joined the United State and the Europe Union in imposing sanctions on Russia in the wake of the invasion.
The chief rabbi of Ukraine, Yaakov Bleich, says President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called him on Saturday and "requests that every Jew in Ukraine" pray for citizens' safety and the end of the invasion. "The Russian invasion threatens every Jew in Ukraine," the rabbi tweeted.
The Ukrainian president’s office says Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.
The State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection warned that the explosion, which it said looked like a mushroom cloud, could cause an “environmental catastrophe” and advised residents to cover their windows with damp cloth or gauze and to drink plenty of fluids.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, said the Russian forces have been unable to take Kharkiv, where a fierce battle is underway.
The city of 1.5 million is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk is supporting Ukraine, which is under attack from Russia, with his Starlink satellite internet service.
"The Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route," Musk wrote on social media platform Twitter.
He was responding to a request from Ukraine's Minister of Digitalization, Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov.
Fedorov contacted Musk directly via Twitter, stating that while Musk tried to "colonize Mars," Russia was trying to occupy Ukraine. "While your rockets successfully land from space - Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people," Fedorov said. "We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand."
Former President Donald Trump has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and said he was praying for Ukrainians, marking a sharp shift of tone from earlier this week when he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump delivered his remarks at the CPAC conservative gathering in Florida a few hours after the United States and allies announced sweeping new sanctions that would kick some Russian banks off the main global payments systems and limit the ability of Russia's central bank to support the ruble.
Earlier this week, Trump irked some Republican party members by describing Putin's actions in Ukraine, where cities have been pounded by Russian artillery and cruise missiles, as "genius" and "pretty savvy."
Addressing an adoring crowd at CPAC, Trump expressed empathy for Ukrainians and this time praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, calling him "brave" as he stays in Kyiv, the capital."The Russian attack on Ukraine is appalling. We are praying for the proud people of Ukraine. God bless them all," Trump said.
The United Nations says it has confirmed at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 people killed, in the fighting in Ukraine that erupted since Russia’s invasion on Thursday — though it believed the “real figures are considerably higher” because many reports of casualties remain to be confirmed.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs relayed the count late Saturday from the UN human rights office, which has strict methodologies and verification procedures about the toll from conflict.
OCHA also said damage to civilian infrastructure has deprived hundreds of thousands of people of access to electricity or water, and produced a map of “humanitarian situations” in Ukraine — mostly in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine.
Russian missiles have hit the Ukrainian town of Vasylkiv southwest of the capital, Kyiv, setting an oil terminal ablaze, the town's mayor said in a video posted online.
"The enemy wants to destroy everything around," said the mayor, Natalia Balasinovich.
Photographs and video posted online showed large flames rising under the night sky.
Vasylkiv is some 30 kilometers away from Kyiv, and there are reports that residents have been instructed to keep their windows shut.
The U.S., European Union, and United Kingdom on Saturday 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.
Saturday’s move includes cutting key Russian banks out of the SWIFT financial system, which daily moves countless billions of dollars around more than 11,000 banks and other financial institutions around the world.
Allies on both sides of the Atlantic also considered the SWIFT option in 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea and backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia declared then that kicking it out of SWIFT would be equivalent to a declaration of war. The allies — criticized ever after for responding too weakly to Russia’s 2014 aggression — shelved the idea. Russia since then has tried to develop its own financial transfer system, with limited success.
Ten Greek nationals have been killed and six others wounded by Russian bombing near the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Greece said on Saturday, while saying it had summoned Russia's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Monday after a verbal demarche.
"Ten innocent civilians of Greek origin (were) killed today by Russian air strikes close to Mariupol. Stop the bombing now!" Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet.
The bombing took place on the outskirts of the villages of Sartana and Bugas, and one of the injured was a child, Greece's Foreign Ministry said.
Russia pressed its invasion of Ukraine to the outskirts of the capital Friday after unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks from three sides in an attack that could rewrite the global post-Cold War security order.
Explosions sounded before dawn in Kyiv as Western leaders scheduled an emergency meeting and Ukraine's president pleaded for international help. Ukrainian forces were blowing up bridges around the city to stall the Russian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the government had information that “subversive groups” were encroaching on the city, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv “could well be under siege" in what U.S. officials believe is a brazen attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to dismantle the government and install his own regime.
After a harrowing journey that took nearly an entire day, a small group of immigrants bound for Israel from Ukraine crossed the border into Poland on Saturday.
According to the Jewish Agency, which arranged for their departure, the immigrants will be put up in Warsaw for the next few days before flying to Israel. It was the first organized group of immigrants headed for Israel to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion two days earlier.
Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea FC, ended his involvement in the Premier League soccer club on Saturday after almost 20 years of ownership, saying that the club's stewardship would be transferred to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation, according to a report in Bloomberg.
“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans,” the Russian billionaire said in a statement on the club’s website.
As Western nations slap new sanctions onto Russia on the third day of its invasion of Ukraine, British MPs have increasingly called for him to also be sanctioned and have his assets seized. Abramovich's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a point of friction with British officials since his visa was cancelled in 2018, leading him to seek Israeli citizenship at the time.
It remains unclear whether sanctions could affect Chelsea despite the move or whether Abramovich is on his way to selling the club.
President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. State Department to release up to an additional $350 million worth of weapons from U.S. stocks to Ukraine on Friday as it struggles to repulse a Russian invasion.
The official website of the Kremlin, the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin, kremlin.ru, was down on Saturday, following reports of denial of service (DDoS) attacks on various other Russian government and state media websites.
Last week, Britain and the United States said Russian military hackers were behind a spate of DDoS attacks that briefly knocked Ukrainian banking and government websites offline before the Russian invasion.
Saturday's outage of the Kremlin website comes amid increasingly insistent online calls to arms from members of the hacktivist community, including from Twitter accounts historically associated with Anonymous, the amorphous online activist community that first grabbed global attention about a decade ago.
Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Ruslan Stefanchuk on Saturday to express solidarity with Ukraine, saying that “The Russian attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of the international order.”
According to Levy, Israel is preparing to send a shipment of humanitarian aid to the country in the coming days.
Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Friday request for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate negotiations with Russia, Stefanchuk reiterated Ukraine's hopes for Israeli mediation between the two countries.
Ukraine has been prodding Israel to take a more active role, and while the country ultimately condemned Russia's invasion after a period of strict neutrality, it has remained diplomatically cautious in light of its fragile ties with Russia.
“We have been talking to the Israelis for at least the last year about a possible intermediary role for Israel,” Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said on Friday. “Our leadership believes that Israel is the only democratic state that has excellent relations with both countries.”
An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday Russia's attack on Kyiv was not advancing and that around 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured so far in Moscow's assault on Ukraine. “We are striking the enemy around Kyiv. The enemy is not moving for now,” said Oleksiy Arestovych.
In a video message Saturday, 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.
Zelenskyy offered Friday 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.
The Ukrainian embassy in Tel Aviv called on Saturday for volunteers to fight on its behalf, stating that it began compiling lists of people “who wish to participate in combat actions against the Russian aggressor.”
Addressing “people who wish to participate in the protection of Ukraine from Russian military aggression” in a Facebook post the embassy called on people who “are ready to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine” to submit their personal details and a description of their military expertise in order to be contacted regarding opportunities to serve.
The Jewish Agency for Israel announced Saturday that it will open six immigration processing stations at Ukrainian border crossings into Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary.
Alongside the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the centers are meant to assist Ukrainian Jews who would like to immigrate to Israel amid Russia's ongoing invasion that has already left nearly 200 civilians dead.
The first group of Ukrainians headed for Israel were crossed into Poland on Saturday, the Agency announced, in what it said was a “nerve-wracking 16-hour process.”
The Agency has already been flooded with requests from Ukrainian Jews trying to flee Ukraine since Russia's assault began, and is preparing to temporarily house refugees in hotels in neighboring countries prior to their flights.
The chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Rabbi Gilad Kariv (Labor), will hold an urgent follow-up discussion on Monday over the government's preparedness to assist Ukrainian Jewry and a possible wave of immigration from the country as Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters its third day.
“The Constitution Committee is the committee responsible for the Law of Return, and in the absence of the Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, we have a duty to address the burning issue,” Kariv said.
Due to an ongoing opposition boycott of parliamentary committees, the Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee has not been established yet in the current Knesset.
“The Knesset is committed to the well-being of diaspora Jews, especially in war zones. The committee will consider the manner of assistance to the Jewish communities in Ukraine and the state's preparations for the arrival of immigrants and their families, along with providing humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Ukraine.
“We will not allow the political controversy over the committees to undermine parliamentary oversight on the issue, which is very much needed these days.”
Thousands in Tel Aviv are rallying Saturday in support of Ukraine as fighting in the country intensify.
The protesters, most of whom are of Ukrainian descent, have marched down Rothschild boulevard to Habima square.
"We can't stand by and watch Putin invades to Ukraine, killing and taking over territories of a democratic country," the protest organizers wrote on Facebook.
The Russian military offensive in Ukraine is making slower progress than Moscow expected, according to a senior U.S. Defense Department official.
“They're meeting more resistance than they expected,” the Pentagon representative said in a briefing for journalists. The troops had not advanced “as fast as what we believe they anticipated they would be able to do.”
“We do assess that there is greater resistance by the Ukrainians than the Russians expected,” the representative said on Friday, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.
He qualified, however, that Russia was so far still holding back a large proportion of its soldiers stationed near Ukraine.
The US government believes Russia has more than 150,000 troops massed around Ukraine. “They are not advancing as far or as fast as we believe they expected that they would,” he said. A good indicator of this, he said, is that Russian forces have not yet captured any major cities.
The German government approved the export of 400 RPGs to Kiev on Saturday, a transfer that will take place through the Netherlands.
The transfer represents a major shift in German foreign policy, which until Saturday had a strict policy of blocking lethal weapons from being sent into conflict zones. But under pressure from EU and NATO leaders, the Defense Ministry approved the export as Russian forces encroached on Ukraine's major cities and pushed westward.
Russian shelling in the Donetsk region killed 19 civilians and injured at least 73 others on Saturday as the country's assault throughout Ukraine continued.
Discussions among European Union members about excluding Russia from the Swift international payment system are close to reaching a successful conclusion, a French presidential official said on Saturday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that no EU member state was blocking Russia's exclusion from the system, but that the talks were still ongoing.
Russia sees its military coordination with Israel over Syria continuing, the Russian embassy said on Saturday, after Moscow signalled displeasure with Israeli statements about the Ukraine crisis.
Following the 2015 Russian intervention in the Syrian civil war, Israel set up a “deconfliction mechanism” with the big power to prevent them clashing inadvertently during Israeli strikes against Iranian deployments and arms transfers in the neighboring Arab state.
“Our military officials discuss the practical issues of this substantively on a daily basis. This mechanism has proven to be useful and will continue to work,” the Russian embassy in Israel said in a statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not tell Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky that Turkey is closing or has closed Turkish straits to warship access, a presidential official with direct knowledge of the matter told dpa.
The statement follows a phone call between the two leaders on Saturday.
"The ban on the passage of Russian warships to the Black Sea and significant military and humanitarian support for Ukraine are extremely important today. The people of Ukraine will never forget that!" Zelenskyy tweeted earlier on Saturday regarding the call with Erdogan.
Turkey is still assessing the issue and the Zelensky's remarks “only reflect his expectations,” the official added.
Erdogan told Zelenskyy that Turkey is working to secure an “immediate ceasefire” and offered his condolences over deaths in Russian attacks, the Turkish presidency said on Twitter. The office did not mention any reference to the Black Sea.
Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the Bosporus and Daradanelles Strait connecting the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. While trade ships may pass the strait freely in peacetime, battleships face certain restrictions.
Russian ships would still be able to pass the straits even if Turkey closes them, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu said earlier this week.
Hungary will support all European Union sanctions against Russia and will not block anything, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday, speaking on the Ukrainian-Hungarian border.
“Hungary made clear that we support all the sanctions, so we will block nothing, so what the prime ministers of the European Union are able to agree, we accept it and we support it,” he told reporters in English.
“This is the time to be united, it's a war,” he said, adding that peace efforts were the most important.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia's Chechnya region and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Saturday that Chechen fighters had been deployed to Ukraine and urged Ukrainians to overthrow their government.
In a video posted online, Kadyrov boasted that Chechen units had so far suffered no losses and said Russian forces could easily take large Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, but that their task was to avoid loss of life.
"As of today, as of this minute, we do not have one single casualty, or wounded, not a single man has even had a runny nose," Kadyrov said, denying what he said were false reports of casualties from Ukrainian sources.
"The president (Putin) took the right decision and we will carry out his orders under any circumstances," said Kadyrov.
Kadyrov has often described himself as Putin's "foot soldier" and his words echoed those of the Russian leader who on Friday urged Ukrainians to rise up against their own government, which he said was made up of "neo-Nazis". Ukrainian officials say that description of them is absurd.
Kadyrov has deployed his forces abroad to support Kremlin military operations before – in Syria and Georgia
.Kadyrov released his video as Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running and a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the capital Kyiv remained in Ukrainian hands.
A short video published by the state-backed Russian news channel RT, which it said was from Friday, showed thousands of Chechen fighters gathered in the main square of the region's capital Grozny in a show of readiness to fight in Ukraine.
Finland and Sweden both brushed off warnings from neighboring Russia that their possible joining of NATO would trigger “serious military-political consequences” from Moscow.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry Friday voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to “drag” Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they join the alliance.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Saturday that “we’ve heard this before.”
“We don’t think that it calls for a military threat,” Haavisto said in an interview with the Finnish public broadcaster YLE. “Should Finland be NATO’s external border, it rather means that Russia would certainly take that into account in its own defense planning. I don’t see anything new as such” in the statement delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Haavisto said.
Finland has a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) land border with Russia — the longest border shared by any European Union member state and Russia.
In Sweden, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson addressed Moscow’s statement in a joint news conference Friday with Sweden’s military commander Micael Byden.
“I want to be extremely clear. It is Sweden that itself and independently decides on our security policy line,” Andersson said.
Moscow may respond to Western sanctions by opting out of the last nuclear arms deal with the U.S., cutting diplomatic ties with Western nations and freezing their assets, a senior Russian official warned Saturday as Russia's ties with the West dived to new lows over its invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions placed new tight restrictions on Russian financial operations, imposed a draconian ban on technology exports to Russia and froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister, a harsh response that dwarfed earlier Western restrictions. Washington and its allies say that even tougher sanctions are possible, including kicking Russia out of SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.
In sarcastic comments posted on a Russian social platform, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia's Security Council chaired by Putin, dismissed the sanctions as a show of Western “political impotence” that will only consolidate the Russian leadership and foment anti-Western feelings.
“We are being driven out of everywhere, punished and threatened, but we don't feel scared,” he said, mocking the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies as an attempt to vindicate their past “shameful decisions, like a cowardly retreat from Afghanistan.”
Medvedev was placeholder president from 2008 until 2012 when Putin had to shift into the prime minister’s seat because of term limits. He then let Putin reclaim the presidency and served as his prime minister for eight years.
Medvedev noted that the sanctions offer the Kremlin a pretext to completely review its ties with the West, suggesting that Russia could opt out of the New START nuclear arms control treaty that limits the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.
The treaty, which Medvedev signed in 2010 with then-U.S. President Barack Obama, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. The pact, the last remaining U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreement, had been set to expire in February 2021 but Moscow and Washington extended it for another five years.
If Russia opts out of the agreement now, it will remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces and raise new threats to global security.
Medvedev also raised the prospect of cutting diplomatic ties with Western countries, charging that “there is no particular need in maintaining diplomatic relations” and adding that “we may look at each other in binoculars and gunsights."
Referring to Western threats to freeze the assets of Russian companies and individuals, Medvedev warned that Moscow wouldn't hesitate to do the same.
“We would need to respond in kind by freezing the assets of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia ... and possibly by nationalizing the assets of those who come from unfriendly jurisdictions,” he said. “The most interesting things are only starting now.”
The mayor of Kyiv extended a curfew in the Ukrainian capital on Saturday, which is under heavy Russian attack for a third day as Moscow's forces press their invasion of Ukraine.
“All civilians on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy’s sabotage and reconnaissance groups,” Klitschko said.
The prolonged curfew will last from 5 pm until 8 am every day to ensure the more effective defense of the city and the safety of its people, mayor Vitaly Klitschko wrote on Twitter, as gunfire, explosions and sirens resounded around the capital.
As Russia's assault on Ukraine sends waves of Ukrainians , the first war refugees have arrived in Germany, however their numbers are still relatively small.
At the Polish border near Görlitz, a single-digit number of people from Ukraine had arrived since Friday, a spokesperson for the Federal Police in Pirna said on Saturday.
In the state of Brandenburg which surrounds Berlin, the initial reception centre in Eisenhüttenstadt took in six refugees by noon on Saturday, according to its own information. A Ukrainian family arrived in Brandenburg an der Havel.
The city of Hamburg had already registered three to four refugees at the arrival center in the northern port city on Friday.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the premiers of the federal states had discussed the possible admission of refugees on Friday.
Brandenburg alone is getting ready for at least 10,000 Ukrainian refugees in the next few days, according to Premier Dietmar Woidke.
Lower Saxony is also preparing to receive refugees from Ukraine and will expand its capacities, as Interior Minister Boris Pistorius told broadcaster NDR.
Thuringia can immediately take in about 3,000 people from Ukraine, according to Premier Bodo Ramelow and Migration Minister Dirk Adams.
Russia's PSB-Leasing company, a unit of Promsvyazbank, which is under international sanctions over Russia's conflict with Ukraine, does not own the ship Baltic Leader which was seized by France earlier on Saturday, TASS news agency said.
The Russian state news agency quoted the company as saying the vessel had been sold before sanctions were slapped on Promsvyazbank.
French authorities forcibly docked the cargo vessel on Saturday morning for inspection, halting its journey from France to St. Petersburg, under suspicion that its cargo belonged to Russian companies subject to new European Union sanctions.
The vessel is mentioned in a United States Treasury document detailing U.S. sanctions against Russia, which linked it to the Russian bank.
As of 3:20 P.M., the ship remains docked at the Boulogne port.
An adviser to Ukraine's presidential office said that Ukraine did not refuse negotiations with Russia, contrary to Russian claims that Kyiv ignored Moscow's call for talks.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin's ordered his forces to resume their assault on Ukraine over the country's alleged decision to snub Russian calls for talks. After an intense night of fighting around Kyiv, the center of the capital remains in Ukrainian control, but reports from the streets of the city suggest that small groups of Russian soldiers may be attempting to clear a path for a larger contingent of Russian forces.
The presidential adviser added that Ukraine is interested in ceasefire negotiations but will not accept any ultimatums or “categorically unacceptable conditions.”
Russian troops started advancing into Ukraine again on Saturday after President Vladimir Putin paused the offensive a day earlier in anticipation of talks with Kyiv that never happened, the Kremlin said.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov also told a briefing Russia had expected the sanctions imposed by the West in response to the invasion and was taking measures to minimize their impact on the economy.
Clutching a mobile phone number of a woman she had never met, Nataliya Ableyeva crossed the border from Ukraine into Hungary on Saturday, entrusted with a precious cargo. A stranger's children.
Waiting at the border crossing on the Ukrainian side, Ableyeva had met a desperate 38-year-old man from her hometown of Kamianets-Podilskyi, with his young son and daughter. The border guards would not let him pass. Ukraine has banned all Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving, so they can fight for their country." Their father simply handed over the two kids to me, and trusted me, giving me their passports to bring them over," 58-year-old Ableyeva said, the arms of the young boy she had known for just a few hours around her neck.
The children's Ukrainian mother was on her way from Italy to meet them and take them to safety, the father said. He gave Ableyeva the mother's mobile number, and said goodbye to his children, wrapped up against the cold in thick jackets and hats. Ableyeva had left her own two grown-up children behind in Ukraine. One a policeman, the other a nurse, neither could leave Ukraine under the mobilisation decree. She took the two small children by the hand, and together they crossed the border.
On the Hungarian side at Beregsurany, they waited, sitting on a bench near a tent set up for the steady flow of refugees streaming over the frontier. The little boy was crying when his mobile phone rang. It was his mother, she was nearly at the border post. When 33-year-old Anna Semyuk arrived, her blonde hair scraped back in a ponytail, she hugged her son and went to her daughter, lying exhausted in the back of a car and wrapped in a pink blanket. Then she thanked Ableyeva. Standing in the cold on the scrubby ground, two women embraced for several minutes and started to cry.
"All I can say to my kids now, is that everything will be alright," said Semyuk. "In one or two weeks, and we will go home."
Russia has banned airlines from Bulgaria, Poland and Czech Republic from flying to and over its territory in response to similar moves by those countries, the Russian civil aviation authority said on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Russia banned all British airlines from its airspace in retaliation for London's ban on flights to Britain by Russian flag carrier Aeroflot.
Russia doesn't really need diplomatic ties with the West anymore, ex-president and top security official Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday, shrugging off sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Medvedev said the sanctions gave Russia a good reason to pull out of a dialogue on strategic (nuclear) stability and, potentially, from the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed with Washington in 2010 and extended in 2021.
In comments on his verified page on Russian social network VK, Medvedev wrote: "We don't especially need diplomatic relations... It's time to padlock the embassies and continue contacts looking at each other through binoculars and gun sights."
Medvedev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin and deputy head of Russia's security council, said the West's "wonderful (sanctions) will not change a thing, of course". Moscow will continue its military operations in Ukraine until it had achieved goals defined by President Vladimir Putin as "demilitarization and “denazification”, he said.
"The sanctions are being imposed for one simple reason – political impotence arising from their (the West's) inability to change Russia's course," Medvedev wrote.He condemned as "really unfair" a decision by the Council of Europe, a rights watchdog, to suspend Russian membership, but added the move provided a good reason "to slam the door" for good on the organization, giving Russia an opportunity to restore the death penalty for dangerous criminals.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that the capital Kyiv was still under Ukrainian control after Russia launched an invasion on Thursday.
"We have withstood and are successfully repelling enemy attacks. The fighting goes on," he said in a video message posted on his social media.
"We already have almost full support from EU countries for disconnecting Russia from SWIFT. I hope that Germany and Hungary will have the courage to support this decision. We have the courage to defend our homeland, to defend Europe," Zelenskyy added.
In the video Zelenskyy called on views to help the Ukrainian army, promising to supply weapon to anyone who wants to fight.
Western partners are moving closer to halting Russia's access to the SWIFT global interbank payments system, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Saturday.
"Our goal is that the decision is taken as early as possible. I cannot give a particular date. From what I'm hearing it seems that there is no strong opposition left," Simonyte told a news conference in Vilnius.
Canada, the United States, Britain and the European Union on Friday said they could act to exclude Russia from SWIFT in a further round of sanctions aimed at halting Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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.
Following a situation assessment Foreign Minister Yair Lapid requested that staff in the Israeli embassy in Lviv, Ukraine cross over to Poland during their sleeping hours.
Staff will then cross back to Ukraine on a daily basis to continue their diplomatic work and to assist Israeli citizens in Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian attack in the Lviv region near Brody in western Ukraine, Lviv's mayor was quoted as saying on Saturday by the Telegram messaging service.
"Russians landed three helicopters near Brody at 0900 a.m.. About 60 people," mayor Andrey Sadovyi said.
"The (Ukrainian) armed forces are repelling the occupier! We are keeping the situation under control," he added
Kyiv is still under the control of the Ukrainian government, the capital's Mayor Vitali Klitschko has said.
"Last night was difficult, but there are no Russian troops in the city," Klitschko said in a video published on the Telegram news channel on Saturday morning.
But he added: "The enemy is trying to advance into the city."
As of 5 am, Kyiv had recorded 35 injured, including two children, Klitschko said. The mayor called on the population to seek cover. "Stay in the bomb shelters, because the enemy is attacking from the air."
Kyiv's infrastructure was still intact and underground trains were running, he said. "We have set up checkpoints, so movement in the city will be restricted and difficult," Klitschko added.
"It will be hard, but we have to persevere, because the army is with us, territorial defense is with us, justice is with us," he said.
Witnesses have reported hearing dozens of detonations in the city as well as gunfire overnight. The government has said fighting continues on the outskirts of greater Kyiv.
Russia will respond to the seizure of money of Russian citizens and companies abroad by seizing funds of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia, RIA news agency quoted Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the security council, as saying on Saturday.
Moscow does not rule out nationalizing the assets of companies registered in the United States, European Union and other "unfriendly jurisdictions", Medvedev was quoted as saying.
Russia's communications regulator accused 10 local media outlets on Saturday of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special military operation in Ukraine and distributing false information about events there.
Among those sent warning letters were Echo Moskvy, a popular radio station, and Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper critical of the government whose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize last year.
Roskomnadzor, the regulator, ordered the media to delete the offending information or face restricted access to their websites and media resources.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for his country to be admitted to the European Union, in light of the Russian invasion.
"It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine's membership in the EU," Zelensky wrote on Twitter on Saturday.
Zelensky said he had discussed "further effective assistance" as well as "the heroic struggle of Ukrainians for their free future" with European Council President Charles Michel.
Ukraine is not listed by the EU as an official candidate country or a potential candidate. In the past, there has been concern that taking such a step would harm the EU-Russia relationship.
Ukraine's 2014 revolution was sparked by almost three months of protests on Kiev's Maidan square, against the suspension of the preparations for the signing of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement.
It eventually toppled pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych.
Russia then seized the Crimean Peninsula and war broke out in eastern Ukraine.
At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the head of the Ukrainian Health Ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying on Saturday.
He said 1,115 people were wounded, including 33 children. It was unclear whether he was referring only to civilian casualties.
Israel has refused to sign U.S. proposal to the UN Security Council to condemn Russian invasion in Ukraine. While Israel doesn't vote in the Security Council, it was decided in Jerusalem to reject an American request to be one of the countries to advocate for the decision.
However, officials have said that it was unlikely that the condemnation decision would pass anyway and that Israel's position regarding the fighting in Ukraine will come to light in the UN.
Ukraine has also reached out to the Israeli government and requested assistance in mediation with Russia, the New York Times reported. The request was reportedly made by Ukrainian President Zelenskyy during a phone conversation with PM Bennett on Friday.
According to the New York Times Israel did not reject the request. In the report the Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said Ukraine considers Israel to be "the only democratic country with excellent relations with both Russia and Ukraine."
Dozens of people were wounded in overnight fighting in Kyiv, city mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Saturday morning.
As of 6 a.m. local time, 35 people, including two children, had been wounded, he said. It is unclear whether he was referring only to civilians.
Klitschko added there was currently no major Russian military presence in Kyiv, although he said saboteur groups were active.
The Ukrainian armed forces say they have inflicted heavy losses on Russian troops since the beginning of the invasion.
Some 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed and 200 others captured, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Saturday morning.
In addition, 14 planes, eight helicopters and 102 tanks as well as more than 530 other military vehicles were destroyed.
The figures being put out by both warring sides could not be independently verified.
Heavy fighting is taking place in various parts of the country, the statement added, with Russian air attacks having taken place in the north-eastern city of Sumy, Mariupol in the south and Poltava in the east. Civilian targets were also hit in the capital Kiev, where street fighting broke out overnight.
Russia has crippled the operations of more than 800 Ukrainian military infrastructure sites so far, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Saturday, the third day of Russia's offensive.
Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said 14 military airfields, 19 command posts, 24 S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems and 48 radar stations were destroyed. In addition, eight Ukrainian naval boats were hit, he said.
Separatist fighters from the rebel region of Luhansk had now advanced some 30 kilometers into territory previously controlled by Ukrainian government forces, Konashenkov said.
Fighters in Donetsk, the other rebel area, had been able to make further gains of over 6 kilometers with Russian support. On Friday evening, it was reported that those insurgents had advanced 25 kilometers further into Ukrainian-controlled territory.
The authenticity of the ministry's information could not be independently verified.
Russian troops have captured of the south-eastern Ukrainian town of Melitopol, the Defence Ministry in Moscow said on Saturday.
Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said Russian soldiers took all measures to ensure the safety of the civilian population as they invaded.
The city is located near the small but important Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea by the narrow Kerch Strait.
The Defence Ministry said Russian troops marched on Melitopol "without resistence" from Ukrainian forces.
There have been reports on fighting on the town's edge since Friday afternoon.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a defiant video message from the streets of Kiev on Saturday morning after a night of intense gunfire and explosions.
He said in the video released on Twitter that Ukrainians will not lay down their weapons or surrender to the invading forces, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded.
The president said he wanted to refute false reports that he had left Ukraine.
"I am here," a tired-looking Zelenskyy declared as he walked down a Kiev street as dawn broke over the city.
He wished "everyone a good morning," cracking a small smile. His message ended with: "Glory to Ukraine!"
US President Joe Biden has signed a memorandum to provide up to $600 million in "immediate military assistance" to Ukraine.
The move comes as Russian forces advanced further into the Ukrainian capital in the early hours of Saturday.
The order directs Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide "immediate military assistance to Ukraine" of up to $250 million "in assistance without regard to any provision of law."
A further $350 million was allocated "in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training," the order said.
Russian police arrested at least 560 people at anti-war protests across 26 cities on Friday, the civil rights group OVD-Info said in an updated tally Saturday.
Lawyers for the organization were able to provide legal assistance to some of those arrested, the group said. In many cases, those arrested were fined or detained.
Horror over their country's attack on Ukraine has driven many people in Russia to take to the streets in protest. More than 1,700 people protesting the war had been arrested on Thursday, the first day of fighting.
In Georgia, tens of thousands of people protested Friday evening.
In what local media said was one of the largest rallies in the Georgian capital Tbilisi for some time, demonstrators expressed their displeasure with the Georgian government, which has refused to join other countries in imposing sanctions against Russia.
Georgia itself suffered a military defeat at the hands of Russia in 2008 in a brief war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
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.
The assault represented Putin's boldest effort yet to redraw the world map and revive Moscow’s Cold War-era influence. It triggered new international efforts to end the invasion, including direct sanctions on Putin.
Russian forces have reportedly attacked an army base, some 7 kilometers from the center of Kyiv, early Saturday.
The Ukrainian military claims the attack on the army base had been repelled.
Photos showed fire over the site of the fighting, while gunfire was audible on videos shared on social media.
Earlier in the night, there were reports that Russian troops tried to attack a combined heat and power plant in the far north-east of the city on the right bank of the Dnipro river.
Fighting was also reported in the Obolon district in the city's north.
Ukraine said Russian warships shelled a Moldovan-flagged chemical tanker and a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship due to load grain near Odessa port in the Black Sea on Friday, one day after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
A total of three non-military vessels have now been hit since the start of the invasion. On Thursday, the Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter cargo ship was struck off Odessa.
Ukraine's infrastructure ministry said that the Moldovan-flagged vessel, the Millennial Spirit, was carrying 600 tonnes of diesel at the time of the attack from a Russian military ship.
Earlier on Friday Moldova's naval agency said the crew of the Millennial Spirit was Russian and that two of them had been seriously injured.
Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday that he has ordered the return of the Central American country's ambassador to Russia, Guisela Atalida Godinez Sazo, adding that his government rejected Russia's actions in Ukraine.
Giammattei had earlier expressed "full support for the sovereignty of Ukraine as like-minded countries and stand in solidarity with its people and government.”
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.
“It is an exceptional step to sanction leaders, but this is an exceptional situation,” Payne said at a press conference, adding that the government is seeking advice on how to follow other nations in the move.
“Vladimir Putin has unparalleled personal power over his country and he has chosen to go to war against a neighbor that posed no threat to Russia, because he wants to reverse history and take away the freedom and the democracy that the Ukrainian people chose for themselves.”
In its new sanctions, Payne said Australia will target 339 members of the State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament and eight more oligarchs. The new measures follow a series of Australian sanctions announced earlier in the week.
“The next immediate priority is to continue sanctions on Vladimir Putin's inner circle and on Russia's defense industry,” Payne said.
Ukrainian authorities have requested emergency financing amid Russia's invasion, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.
IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said the IMF would work "hand in hand" with the World Bank Group and other partners to coordinate support and "ensure the maximum benefit" for Ukraine.
"This week's events in Ukraine are a matter of grave concern – first and foremost due to the human toll and suffering of ordinary people. The conflict is also having a serious economic impact, which will worsen the longer it continues," she said.
"This crisis comes at a delicate time, when the global economy is recovering from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and threatens to undo some of that progress."
Georgieva warned the repercussions of the conflict posed "significant economic risks” around the world.
U.S. President Joe Biden has imposed personal sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, as well as Russia's Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
The U.S. Treasury said that Putin and Lavrov were "directly responsible for Russia's unprovoked and unlawful further invasion” of Ukraine.
“Treasury is continuing to inflict costs on the Russian Federation and President Putin for their brutal and unprovoked assault on the people of Ukraine,” secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said.
The Treasury added that sanctions against a head of state were “exceedingly rare,” as Putin joined a short list that includes the leaders of North Korea, Syria, and Belarus.
“We are united with our international allies and partners to ensure Russia pays a severe economic and diplomatic price for its further invasion of Ukraine. If necessary, we are prepared to impose further costs on Russia for its appalling behavior on the world stage.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he expects the Russian army will storm Kiev overnight, and called on the public to defend the capital.
"The fate of the country is being decided right now," he said in a video message on his Telegram channel.
"The enemy will use all its forces to break our resistance," he said. "Tonight they are setting out to storm Kyiv."
He called on Ukrainians to "stop the enemy wherever possible."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with sanctions on Friday, following similar moves by other western nations in the aftermath of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Trudeau said this third set of actions against Russia this week would target Putin and his “fellow architects of this barbaric war.”
“We have not ever taken as a global community the step of sanctioning him personally, this is a significant step, and it has its impact in the fact that we are all, as Western countries, united and aligned on this,” said Trudeau.
“This goes directly at President Putin's considerable personal wealth.
“Canada will also levy additional sanctions on Belarus and its leaders for “abetting” Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Trudeau said at a news conference.
He also said Canada supports the removal of Russia from the SWIFT system for international bank payments.
“Excluding Russian banks from SWIFT would make it even more difficult for President Putin to finance his brutalities."
Russia on Friday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution telling Moscow to stop attacking Ukraine and withdraw all troops immediately.
The veto was expected, but the United States and its supporters argued that the effort would highlight Moscow’s international isolation.
The 11-1 vote — with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining — showed significant but not total opposition to Russia’s invasion of its smaller, militarily weaker neighbor.
The resolution’s failure paves the way for backers to call for a swift vote on a similar measure in the 193-member UN General Assembly, where there are no vetoes. There was no immediate timetable for a potential Assembly vote.
Russian forces are using amphibious warships to attack Mariupol, according to an assessment by the U.S. Defense Department.
Such vessels allow the military to bring soldiers and equipment ashore for operations even in places without ports.
“We do believe that such an assault is being conducted today,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said.
Earlier today, the mayor of Mariupol reported that 35 Ukrainian civilians were injured in attacks, but that the situation in the port city was under control.
Mariupol is a city of major strategic importance, as it is located near the contact line between separatist rebels and Ukrainian army forces in the breakaway region of Donetsk.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate talks in Jerusalem in an attempt to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, The New York Times reported Friday.
The request was made during a phone call between the two leaders, The Times added, quoting the Ukrainian ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk. An Israeli official who requested anonymity confirmed that the request was made, The Times said.
The Russian and Ukrainian governments on Friday signalled an openness to negotiations even as authorities in Kyiv urged citizens to help defend the capital from advancing Russian forces in the worst European security crisis in decades.
Ukraine and Russia are discussing a place and time for talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said on social media.
The Kremlin said earlier on Friday it had offered to meet with Ukrainian officials in the Belarusian capital Minsk, but that Ukraine had instead proposed Warsaw as a venue, resulting in a “pause” in contacts.
“Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace,” Nykyforov said.
President Joe Biden said Friday he has ordered deployment of additional forces to bolster U.S. capabilities in Europe to support NATO allies.
The United States is expected to impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin as soon as Friday, CNN reported citing people familiar with the decision, as Washington looks to ramp up pressure on Moscow following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Additional Russian officials are also likely to be included as part of the fresh sanctions by the United States, CNN said.
The U.S. Treasury department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price, asked if the United States is planning to impose sanctions on Putin, said "all options are on the table," adding that Washington is looking closely at additional options that may apply appropriate pressure on Russia, Putin and those around him.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told senior European officials that China respects countries' territorial integrity and sovereignty, including Ukraine's, but that Russia's concerns about NATO's eastward expansion should be properly addressed.
Wang said the current situation in the Ukraine is not something Beijing wished to see, but China historically has opposed United Nations Security Council actions promoting sanctions.
Wang made the comments in separate calls with Britain's foreign secretary, the European Union's foreign affairs chief and France's presidential advisor, according to a statement from China's Foreign Ministry.
Russia's offer for talks with Ukraine was an attempt to conduct diplomacy “at the barrel of a gun,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday, saying Russia must stop its bombing in Ukraine if it is serious about diplomacy.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Pescov said earlier on Friday that Russia was ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital Minsk for talks.
Washington has not seen any indication Russian leader Vladimir Putin is willing to de-escalate in Ukraine, Price told reporters at a regular press briefing.
Britain imposed sanctions to freeze the assets of Russia's President Vladimir Putin for launching an invasion of Ukraine, and of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who it said was a key decision maker in Russia's government, according to its UK sanctions list.
The mayor of Ukraine's capital city of Kyiv Vitali Klitchko said on Friday five blasts were heard in a close interval of three to five minutes near a power station in the north of the city.
"The emergency services are underway. We're finding out the details," he said. He added that bridges in the city had been taken under protection and special control, as Russian troops are nearing, while checkpoints are being installed near strategic city objects.
"The situation now - without exaggeration - is threatening for Kyiv. The night, close to the morning, will be very difficult".
Israeli Ambassador to Russia Alexander Ben Zvi was summoned Friday for clarifications by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov following Israel's expression of support for Ukraine after Russia invaded the country.
Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine in a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The two leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine, and particularly the fighting around the capital Kyiv. According to the Israeli statement, Bennett "reiterated his hope for a swift end to the fighting" and said that he "stands by the Ukrainian people in these difficult times."
EU states agreed to freeze any European assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister on Friday, as Ukraine's leader pleaded for faster and more forceful sanctions to punish Russia's invasion of his country.
The move against Putin and his top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, came as envoys of the EU's 27 member states agreed on a new wave of measures - their second this week - to hit Russia's elite and thwart operations of 70 percent of the country's banking system.
"We are now listing President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov as well," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said as she joined her EU counterparts to agree on the new sanctions.
"They are responsible for the deaths of innocent people in Ukraine, and for trampling on the international system. We, as Europeans, do not accept that." A senior EU diplomat said that although the Russian leaders may not have extensive assets in Europe, the move against them personally was "a politically important signal".
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a new video of himself and his team outside the presidential administration in Kyiv’s government quarter after rumors in Russian media that he’d fled.
“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine,” Zelenskyy tweeted.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday the alliance was deploying parts of its combat-ready response force and would continue to send weapons to Ukraine, including air defenses.
Stoltenberg also said that Russia was trying to topple the government in Kyiv. “We are now deploying the NATO response force for the first time in the context of collective defense,” he told a news conference following a virtual summit.
Ukrainian cybersecurity officials say hackers from neighboring Belarus are targeting the private email addresses of Ukrainian military personnel “and related individuals”.
In an announcement posted to Facebook, Ukraine's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said the hackers were using password-stealing emails to break into Ukrainian soldiers' email accounts and using the compromised address books to send further malicious messages.
The CERT blamed a group code-named “UNC1151” for the hacking, identifying its members as Minsk-based officers of the Belarusian military. Belarus' Embassy in London did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Russian forces have cut off two cities - Sumy and Konotop - in northeastern Ukraine, Interfax news agency quoted Russia's defense ministry as saying on Friday.
The forces have taken out 211 Ukrainian military targets, Interfax reported, citing the ministry.
Russia's foreign ministry said on Friday that threats of sanctions coming from London will not deter Russia, but will only lead to a new escalation, the RIA news agency quoted it as saying.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled Britain's largest-ever package of sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting banks, members of President Vladimir Putin's closest circle and wealthy Russians who enjoy high-rolling London lifestyles.
Russia intends to partially restrict Facebook in a step set to take effect on Friday, the country's communications regulator Roskomnadzor says.
This comes in response to Facebook's blocking of some Russian state media outlets on its platform.
The decision was taken by the Prosecutor General's Office after consultation with the Foreign Ministry, though it was not immediately clear how much of the service would be inaccessible. On Friday evening, users in Russia were still able to access the Facebook app through their smartphones.
The European Broadcasting Union says that Russia will not be allowed an entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
The union said in a statement Friday that given the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry would bring the competition into “disrepute.''
“The EBU is an apolitical member organization of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service,’’ the union said on Twitter. “We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”
This year's finale is being held in Turin, Italy, on May 14.
Russia has not yet announced an entrant for the splashy contest.
Ukraine will be represented by Kalush Orchestra, which organizers describe as a “hip-hop band with a fondness for folk.”
Ukraine said on Friday it had recorded increased radiation levels from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant, a day after the site was captured by Russian forces, due to military activity causing radioactive dust to rise into the air.
The former power plant was captured by Russian forces on Thursday after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an advisor to the Ukrainian presidential office said.
Experts at Ukraine's state nuclear agency did not provide exact radiation levels but said the change was due to the movement of heavy military equipment in the area lifting radioactive dust into the air.
"Radiation starts to increase. It is not critical for Kyiv for the time being, but we are monitoring," the interior ministry said.
Russia is facing more resistance than Moscow anticipated in its invasion of Ukraine, including in its advance on the capital, Kyiv, and appears to have lost some of its momentum, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.
“We do assess that there is greater resistance by the Ukrainians than the Russians expected,” the senior U.S. defense official said, adding Ukraine's command and control of its military “remains intact.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the Ukrainian military to seize power in their country on Friday, a day after Moscow launched an invasion of its southern neighbor.
“I once again appeal to the military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to use your children, wives and elders as human shields,” Putin said at a televised meeting with Russia's security council.
“Take power into your own hands, it will be easier for us to reach agreement.” Putin added that Russian servicemen in Ukraine were acting “bravely, professionally and heroically.”
Russian forces have lost about 2,800 servicemen and 80 tanks during their assault on Ukraine, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Friday.
She added on her Facebook page that the Russian troops also lost about 516 armored combat vehicles, 10 aircraft and seven helicopters as of 1500 local time
Kharkiv, Ukraine – At 5.30am I woke up to my phone ringing. My wife and daughter and wife were sleeping, exhausted from celebrating my nephew's wedding. So many of the guests had approached the new couple with one overriding wish: Peace.
But the phone call had different tidings: Russia had invaded. Putin had started a war.
The wish for peace is very resonant in Ukraine, a country that has been subjected to aggression by Russia since 2014. On the night I got that call, the night of February 24, the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin committed yet another crime, violating international treaties and the UN charter.
Every day and night since, Ukrainian citizens have witnessed a full-scale Russian invasion. The territory of Ukraine is being attacked from all sides: from the south, north and east.
One of the main targets of Russia’s aggression in the east is Ukraine’s second largest city – Kharkiv, where I live. The first air strikes hit the city's airport; Chuguev, a military airfield not far from Kharkiv, was also attacked. During the shelling of the airport, Russian missiles also hit residential buildings, and several people were killed and injured. In the early morning, a television tower was also fired on, after which the local television channel partially suspended its work.
Ukrainian military vehicles are entering the country's capital Kyiv to defend it against approaching Russian troops, Ukraine's interior ministry said on Friday.
Kyiv's mayor Vitali Klitschko said earlier the city had “entered into a defensive phase”.
The German government on Friday defended its refusal to exclude Russia from the SWIFT international banking information system, as demanded by Ukrainian officials and others in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
“Taking SWIFT down would be technically complex to prepare and would also have massive effects on payment transfers in Germany and for German companies in their business with Russia,” government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said in Berlin.
Germany had not been alone with its doubts at the EU summit that lasted into early Friday, Hebestreit said. “I noticed that France and Italy among others also have objections,” he said.
Excluding Russia from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is seen as a move that would cripple Russia's banking system.
More than 11,000 participating financial institutions in 200 countries make use of the system to exchange information on payments.
EU political leaders agreed on a wide-ranging package of financial and personal sanctions on Russia at the summit, but not the exclusion of Russia from SWIFT.
Hebestreit rejected criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “Talk about a toothless tiger, or that everything is too little, does not fully correspond to the facts,” he said, pointing to the fact that the sanctions agreed had an immediate impact on Russian exchanges.
Thirty-five civilians have been injured in attacks on Mariupol in southern Ukraine, the city's mayor says.
Nine people were seriously injured and 26 moderately, Vadym Boichenko was quoted by the news agency UNIAN as saying. He accused fighters supporting pro-Russian separatists of shooting at civilian buildings.
The mayor said the situation in Mariupol was under control and that the port city had water and electricity.
Mariupol is located near the so-called contact line between separatist rebels and Ukrainian army forces in the eastern breakaway region of Donetsk. It is considered of enormous strategic importance.
The government in Kiev has previously said that Ukrainian troops are preventing an advance on the city.
Russia is ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital Minsk for talks with Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, a day after Moscow launched a massive invasion of its southern neighbor.
Peskov told Russian news agencies Russia was willing to send a delegation including foreign and defense ministry officials.
Ukraine has said it is willing to discuss declaring itself a neutral county. Peskov said demilitarization would need to be an essential part of that.
Pope Francis went to the Russian embassy to the Holy See on Friday to relay his concern over Russia's invasion of Ukraine to Moscow's ambassador, in an unprecedented departure from diplomatic protocol.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope spent about 30 minutes at the embassy, which is close to the Vatican."He went to express his concern over the war," Bruni told Reuters. Bruni would not comment on a report that the pope, 85, had offered the Vatican's mediation.
It was believed to be the first time a pope has gone to an embassy to talk to an ambassador in a time of conflict. Foreign envoys are usually summoned by the Vatican's Secretary of State or meet with the pope in the Apostolic Palace.
In an interview with Reuters of Feb. 14, before the invasion, Ukraine's ambassador to the Vatican, Andriy Yurash, said Kyiv would be open to a Vatican mediation of the conflict.
In a statement on Thursday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Holy See hoped that those who hold the destiny of the world in their hands would have a "glimmer of conscience".
Analysis | Russia revives its big-power status in Ukraine, but the road runs through the Middle East
In 2005, five years after he was elected Russian president, Vladimir Putin said in a speech that “the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century...Tens of millions of our citizens and fellow countrymen found themselves outside the Russian Federation.”
As he put it, “our place in the modern world, I want to stress this particularly, will be determined only by the degree of our strength and success.”
His invasion of Ukraine as a first step to occupying the whole country, eight years after annexing Crimea, looks like the implementation of his ambition to build a new global order.
In this new world, Russia won’t only restore its status as a power equal to the United States, it will overshadow it. It will portray Washington as feeble, set the rules of the game for Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and shatter the Western-American hegemony that since the Soviet Union's collapse has dictated the blocs, alliances, loyalties and financial investments around the world.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in a call on Friday that Russia is willing to hold high level talks with Ukraine, China's foreign ministry said.
"The United States and NATO have long ignored Russia's reasonable security concerns, repeatedly reneged on their commitments, and continued to advance military deployment eastward, challenging Russia's strategic bottom line," Putin told Xi, according to CCTV.
"Russia is willing to conduct high-level negotiations with Ukraine.”
Russia's military operation in Ukraine was necessary to protect people against “genocide”, the Kremlin said, an accusation that the West calls baseless propaganda.
The Kremlin said Xi respected Russia's actions and was ready for close coordination and mutual support at the United Nations, where both are veto-holding permanent members of the Security Council.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine in a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Bennett's office said.
The two discussed the situation in Ukraine, and particularly the fighting around the capital Kyiv. Bennett, according to the Israeli statement, "reiterated his hope for a swift end to the fighting."
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and supported his position regarding Ukraine, the Syrian presidency said in a statement on Friday.
"During the call, they talked about the situation in Ukraine and the special military operation by the Russian Federation to protect the civilian population in the Donbass region," the statement said.
"His Excellency (Assad) stressed that Syria stands with the Russian Federation, based on its conviction of the correctness of its position," it added
Russian military units have entered Kyiv, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Friday, as the second day of Moscow's invasion brought with it renewed airstrikes and fighting along various battle lines across Ukraine.
The ministry called on locals to prepare petrol bombs for use in combat and to report sightings of Russian military equipment. Residents should not leave their homes, the ministry said.
Earlier in the day, the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces reported that the nation's troops were putting up strong resistance to "Russian occupiers" in Dymer and Ivankiv, settlements north-west of the city.
Airborne assault troops had reportedly stopped "overwhelming enemy forces" on the border of the Teteriv River. The bridge across the river was destroyed, according to a statement.
A dpa reporter said sirens were wailing again in Kyiv as the city's 2.8 million residents were told to take shelter. Thousands of people were hunkering down in metro stations.
Israel's Diaspora Minister Dr. Nachman Shai called on Friday morning to immediately transfer emergency aid in the amount of 10 million NIS to assist Ukraine’s Jewish community.
The support will include food and water, refugee absorption, transportation to safe locations and additional security efforts to protect against possible antisemitism, as well as looting and rioting of Jewish centers.
A ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while the money could take some time to get to Ukraine, it is important that aid groups working with the Jewish community know now that they will be able to be reimbursed by Israel so that they can start taking action.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow would be ready to hold talks with Kyiv, but only once Ukraine's military had laid down its arms.
Israeli officials have been closely following Russia's advance on Ukraine, as well as the West's response to it, fearing they could have serious implications on Israel's efforts to keep Iran and its regional proxies in check.
Israel has been trying to avoid any statements or actions that may upset Russia, so much so that senior defense officials were asked not to publicly comment on the situation in Ukraine. The defense establishment's main concern the obstruction of the delicate Israeli-Russian ties on Syria, where the Israeli military has been reportedly operating regularly against Iran-backed forces, namely Lebanese group Hezbollah.
In terms of military power, Israeli defense officials understand Russia clearly has the upper hand, but from an economic standpoint, President Vladimir Putin may end the war bruised and humiliated after being subjected to harsh sanctions.
Under these circumstances, Putin is more likely to change his policy on Israel's operations in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. In a bid to regain his standing, Putin could move to limit Israel's ability to act against Iranian entrenchment in the framework of the deconfliction mechanism between Israel and Russia in Syria.
Ukraine wants peace and is ready for talks with Russia, including on neutral status regarding NATO, Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters on Friday.
"If talks are possible, they should be held. If in Moscow they say they want to hold talks, including on neutral status, we are not afraid of this," he said via a text message. "We can talk about that as well."
"Our readiness for dialogue is part of our persistent pursuit of peace."
Ukraine currently is not part of NATO or the European Union, though it wants to join both, anathema to its former overlord Moscow.
Ukraine gave up its nuclear arms after gaining independence on the breakup of the Soviet Union, in exchange for security guarantees from European countries.
The Kremlin on Friday noted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's willingness to discuss a possible neutrality pledge by Ukraine, but said it could not say anything about possible talks between the two countries' leaders.
Saying that Moscow would analyze Zelenskyy's offer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that Moscow's expectations of Kyiv remained unchanged. Moscow has long demanded guarantees that Ukraine would never join NATO or allow the bloc to deploy troops and weapons on its territory.
The speaker of the Russian upper house said Moscow has prepared a package of retaliatory sanctions against the West, and knows its weaknesses, TASS news agency reported.
Gunfire was heard near the government district in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, Russia's RIA news agency cited Associated Press as reporting.
A Ukrainian government adviser said on Friday he expected Russia to try to break into Kyiv during the day. City residents were urged to proceed to shelters due to an air raid alarm.
Ukraine's nuclear agency said on Friday it was recording increased radiation levels from the site of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
An advisor to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says Ukraine shot down two cruise missiles and one plane over Kyiv.
Russian forces are fighting with the Ukrainian army in the Obolon neighborhood of northern Kyiv, local media reported.
The neighborhood is ten kilometers (six miles) from the center of the Ukrainian capital.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry asked residents not to leave their homes and to make Molotov cocktails.
A Ukrainian interior ministry official said on Friday that Russia has hit 33 civilian sites over the last 24 hours, killing two children.
Meanwhile, an official from Russia's defense ministry said Russia destroyed 118 Ukrainian military infrastructure sites.
Russia will also deploy paratroopers to help guard the Chernobyl power plant, according to its defense ministry.
On Thursday, a few hours after the start of the Russian assault on Ukraine, Prof. Dima Adamsky was unusually emotional. A lecturer at Reichman University, Herzliya, Adamsky is one of the world’s leading authorities on Russian strategic thinking. In recent years he’s divided his time between Israel, Europe and the United States, advising security establishments in a number of countries. He was stunned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eve-of-invasion speech.
It was, Adamsky says, the “distillation of everything Putin has projected in the past few years. I don’t tend to the dramatic, but I felt shivers as I listened to it. I recalled Stalin’s famous speech in November 1941, when the Germans neared Moscow.” Putin’s aggressive speech led Adamsky to five major conclusions. I asked him to sum them up.
“The first conclusion is that Putin has a supreme goal, and it is not Ukraine. Ukraine is from his perspective the most painful symptom of what’s bothering him. He is out to overhaul the rules of the international game that were formed at the end of the Cold War, contrary to Russia’s will. It was a unipolar world with one hegemonic power, the United States, whose victory in the Cold War sent it into a state of euphoria and spawned an attempt to dictate America’s principles and way of life to the rest of the world.
Russia intends to take the whole of Ukraine but the Russian army failed to deliver on the first day of its invasion, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday.
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday expressed his concern over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said his court may investigate possible war crimes in the country.
"I have been closely following recent developments in and around Ukraine with increasing concern," Khan said in a statement.
"I remind all sides conducting hostilities on the territory of Ukraine that my office may exercise its jurisdiction and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within Ukraine."
Israeli embassy personnel evacuated to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine took three buses of Israeli citizens from the city to the border crossing with Poland.
In addition, teams of diplomats at the border crossings helped about 500 Israelis cross the border.
The Embassy in Ukraine and the staff of the Situation Center and the Consular Division of the foreign affairs ministry are in contact with thousands of Israelis who are in Ukraine and directing them to the border crossings where official representatives of the State of Israel are located.
Since the embassy survey opened about two weeks ago, roughly 8,880 people have registered to receive information on departure from Ukraine (not including Israeli citizens who have registered and have already returned to Israel).
Of these, 5,840 are Israeli citizens and about 3,000 are first-degree family members who do not have Israeli citizenship.
The foreign ministry announced that Israeli citizens departing from Ukraine and arriving in Israel (also through a third country) are exempt from a PCR COVID test before boarding the plane.
The foreign ministry reiterated its call to all Israeli citizens in Ukraine to leave the country as quickly and safely as possible.
The embassy in Lviv will continue to work from the western Ukrainian city, as the foreign ministry, Nativ, and other relevant bodies work to evacuate Israelis in Ukraine to border crossings.
There have been difficulties reaching the border crossings due to heavy traffic on the roads leading to them. The foreign ministry said embassy staff are working to solve the problem.
The ministry is also working to provide rapid humanitarian assistance to Ukraine according to its requirements (generators, blankets, tents, winter equipment and medical equipment).
The ministry is working in full emergency format and conducting a number of situation assessments daily.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that continued Russian aggression against his country showed that sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West were not enough, as he implored European allies to bring Russia to the negotiations table.
Addressing the Russian population in Russian at the end of a televised speech, Zelenskyy said the bombing of Kyiv was reminiscent of Nazi Germany's attacks during World War Two.
"This is reminiscent of 1941," Zelenskyy said.
"To all the citizens of the Russian Federation who went out to protest, I want to say: We see you. This means you heard us. This means you are starting to believe us. Fight for us, fight against the war."
Ukraine expects a Russian tank attack on its capital, Kyiv, later on Friday which could become the hardest day in the war, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister said.
Anton Herashchenko, the adviser, said the defenders of Kyiv were ready with anti-tank missiles supplied by foreign allies.
Ukraine's foreign minister said Friday the capital Kyiv had suffered "horrific" Russian strikes overnight.
"Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one," Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
Kuleba called again for tough sanctions against Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin, calling for countries to sever all ties to Moscow and "kick Russia out of everywhere."
"Stop Putin. Isolate Russia," he wrote.
News agency UNIAN had reported several explosions shook the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, with fires breaking out at a multistory residential building on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river after it was hit.
Debris from a missile hit the area, the city administration said on Telegram. Three people were injured.
Ukrainian forces there managed to shoot down a Russian aircraft, an advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister wrote.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia resumed missile strikes at 4 a.m. on Friday, but its troops had been stopped from advancing in most directions.
A missile has hit the airport in the city of Rivne in western Ukraine, its mayor said.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said on Friday that Russia had resumed missile strikes during the early morning hours, and that the strikes are aimed at both military and civilian targets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed on Friday to stay in Kyiv as his troops battled Russian invaders advancing toward the capital in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.
Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by President Vladimir Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.U.S. and Ukrainian officials say Russia aims to capture Kyiv and topple the government, which Putin regards as a puppet of the United States.
Russian troops seized the Chernobyl former nuclear power plant north of Kyiv as they advanced along the shortest route to Kyiv from Belarus to the north."(The) enemy has marked me down as the number one target," Zelenskyy warned in a video message as heavy fighting was reported on multiple fronts.
"My family is the number two target. They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.""I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine."Putin says Russia is carrying out "a special military operation" to stop the Ukrainian government from committing genocide against its own people - an accusation the West calls baseless. He also says Ukraine is an illegitimate state whose lands historically belong to Russia.
Asked if he was worried about Zelenskyy's safety, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS: "To the best of my knowledge, President Zelenskyy remains in Ukraine at his post, and of course we're concerned for the safety of all of our friends in Ukraine - government officials and others."
Ukrainian forces downed an enemy aircraft over Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire, said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister.
It was unclear whether the aircraft was manned. Herashchenko wrote on Telegram that a nine-story residential building was on fire.
A series of explosions were heard in Kyiv earlier which Herashchenko said were the sounds of air defenses firing at the aircraft.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday and Kyiv has reported dozens of casualties and hundreds of wounded.
The Ukrainian Army Chief of Staff said last night that in the last day they had destroyed 30 tanks, 130 armored vehicles, five planes and six Russian helicopters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced tonight that 137 Ukrainian civilians and soldiers were killed in the Russian offensive and that 316 were injured.
He added that in a battle in the Odessa district, all Ukrainian border guards were killed.
Zelenskyy denied rumors that he had left Kiev. He noted that Russian sabotage groups had managed to infiltrate Kiev. He said Russia had marked him as number one target and his family as number two target. "The enemies want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state," he said.
Zelenskyy noted that he felt that many countries supported Ukraine, but added: "Who is willing to fight alongside us? Honestly - no one. Who is willing to guarantee us entry into NATO? Honestly - everyone is scared."
At the same time, Zelenskyy signed a general recruitment order in the country. According to the order, the recruitment will take place within 90 days from the moment it takes effect.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday, hours after Lapid condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine as a blatant violation of the international order.
"The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed the premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack by Russia’s military forces on Ukraine and its people," according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
Lapid's statement, alongside the U.S. readout, mark a departure in Israel's official tone regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Israel’s first official response Wednesday to Russia’s actions in Ukraine caught the attention of many for its seemingly tepid condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and failure to even mention Russia by name.
These statements were very different from the forceful words offered by other key U.S. allies against Russia. But experts and former senior officials who spoke with Haaretz don't expect the Biden administration to express anger or disappointment at Israel, since the country's cautious pragmatism is largely motivated by Russia’s hold over Syria, and its tacit approval of Israeli military operations against Iranian-backed activities within the country.
European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and transport sectors and impose export controls, as well as blacklisting more Russians over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
"The European Council today agrees on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action," said a statement by the 27 national EU leaders meeting in Brussels.
"These sanctions cover the financial sector, the energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods as well as export controls and export financing, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria," the statement said.
Several thousand Ukrainians have crossed into neighboring countries, mainly Moldova and Romania, while an estimated 100,000 have fled their homes and are uprooted in the country after Russia's invasion, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.
Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the figures were compiled from reports from national authorities and its staff and partner agencies. "It's a ballpark figure," she told Reuters.
Maria, who lives in the Russian city of Tver, is beside herself with worry about her son, a soldier doing his compulsory service in the Russian army. She knows he’s 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Kharkiv, but not whether he’s in Ukraine or in Russia. “I don’t know why my child is where a war is going on,” she says on the phone, in tears. “I can’t do anything except cry. I think about jumping from the eighth floor. I can’t work, live, eat or drink.”
Russian law prohibits conscripts from being sent to the front unless they choose to sign a contract and become career soldiers. Currently, compulsory service in the Russian army is one year, including four months of basic training.
In reality, says Olga Larkina, chair of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, soldiers are either forced to sign a contract against their will, or their military IDs are confiscated, and they are signed to a contract without their knowledge. In recent days, her organization has received dozens of pleas for assistance about this from parents of draftees.
As war gets closer in Ukraine, signs of progress are being reported from Vienna, where Iran and world powers are discussing a new nuclear agreement. Is a new deal actually within reach, and will it be a weaker, more dangerous agreement as Israeli officials have been warning? Nuclear historian Avner Cohen joins the podcast to answer these questions, and also to explain how Putin is using the Iran card against America, and why China won't mind if Iran becomes a nuclear threshold state.