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Russian invasion of Ukraine

May 19, 2022 | 10:50am
Location: UKRAINE, RUSSIA
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Russian invasion of Ukraine
8 hours ago

The State Department says the United States reopened its embassy in Kyiv Wednesday after closing it for three months due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia's unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the embassy once again," Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

"We stand proudly with, and continue to support, the government and people of Ukraine as they defend their country from the Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression."  — AFP

1 day ago

The Kremlin accuses Kyiv authorities of not wanting to continue talks to end hostilities that started after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine.

"Talks are indeed not moving forward and we note the complete lack of will of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters. — AFP

1 day ago

Finland and Sweden on Wednesday hand in their bids to join US-led alliance NATO, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine up-ended decades of military non-alignment. 

"The applications you have made today are an historic step. Allies will now consider the next steps on your path to NATO," alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg says after receiving the bids from the Finnish and Swedish ambassadors at NATO headquarters. — AFP

1 day ago

French President Emmanuel Macron told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a call on Tuesday that arms supplies from Paris would "increase in intensity", according to a statement from the French presidency.

"He confirmed that arms deliveries by France would continue and would increase in intensity in the days and weeks to come, the same as for the supply of humanitarian equipment," the statement said.  

France was initially hesitant to supply heavy weaponry to Kyiv as Macron positioned himself as a mediator in the crisis, holding regular conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. — AFP

2 days ago

Russia's defense ministry says that 265 Ukrainian soldiers, including several dozen wounded, surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol.

"Over the past 24 hours, 265 militants laid down their arms and surrendered, including 51 heavily wounded," the ministry says in a briefing. 

It adds that those in need of medical care were transferred to a hospital in the town of Novoazovsk. — AFP 

2 days ago

At least ten people were killed in the latest shelling in Severodonetsk in the east of Ukraine, as the city is almost surrounded by Russian troops, the Lugansk region governor Sergiy Gaiday says Monday.

Russian troops "are shelling Severodonetsk without stopping," Gaiday says in a statement in Telegram.

"At least ten people were killed. It is currently extremely difficult to check the area due to new shelling," he adds, urging the locals not to leave the shelters. — AFP

May 15, 2022

Ukraine's forces were fighting off a fierce Russian onslaught on the east of the country Sunday, after a Eurovision victory gave the country a much-needed boost of morale.

President Volodymr Zelensky warned on Saturday that the war in his country risked triggering global food shortages, adding that the situation in Ukraine's Donbas is "very difficult".

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has increasingly turned its attention to the country's east since the end of March, after failing to take the capital Kyiv.

Western analysts believe President Vladimir Putin has his sights on annexing southern and eastern Ukraine in the months ahead but his troops have appeared to be encountering stiff resistance.

Russia's war in Ukraine is increasingly shifting the balance of power in Europe, with Finland and Sweden poised to jettison decades of military non-alignment to join NATO as a defence against feared further aggression from Moscow. — AFP

May 14, 2022

The war in Ukraine could reach a "breaking point" by August and end in defeat for Russia before the end of the year, Kyiv's head of military intelligence tells the UK's Sky News on Saturday.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov, 36, tells the news network that he was "optimistic" about the current trajectory of the conflict.

"The breaking point will be in the second part of August," he says. — AFP

May 13, 2022

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday says he doubted the motives of Ukraine's intention of joining the European Union, while accusing Brussels of ambitions beyond the European continent. 

Ukraine, where Russia launched a military campaign on February 24, "is ready to declare a neutral, non-aligned status," Lavrov tells reporters following a meeting of CIS foreign ministers in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe.

"At the same time, they are trying in every possible way to emphasise their desire to become an EU member," Lavrov adds.

"There are serious doubts about how harmless such a desire is from Kyiv," he says. — AFP

May 13, 2022

France on Friday says the Group of Seven industrialised nations was committed to helping Ukraine win its war against Russia as the group's top diplomats held talks in northern Germany.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the G7 countries were "very strongly united" in their will to "continue in the long term to support Ukraine's fight for its sovereignty until Ukraine's victory". — AFP

May 13, 2022

The United States accuses Russia of forcibly taking onto territory under its control tens of thousands of Ukrainians, often singled out for their resistance to the invasion.

The remarks support allegations by the Ukrainian government which estimates nearly 1.2 million people have been deported into Russia or Russian-controlled territory and has denounced so-called "filtration camps" in which Moscow interrogates detained people.

Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, says that witness testimony attests to "brutal interrogations" in the camps. — AFP

May 12, 2022

Ukraine wants a spot reserved for it in the European Union, even if obtaining full membership could take time, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday in Berlin. 

"It is not about the fastest possible membership for Ukraine in the EU. But what is very important for us is for this spot to be reserved for Ukraine," he told German broadcaster ARD. — AFP

May 12, 2022

Ukraine announces it will hold its first war crimes trial over the Russian invasion, as Moscow accused Kyiv of shelling a Russian city in the war's latest flashpoint.

The conflict has devastated cities and displaced millions, with fears also growing of its broader international impact as gas supplies to Europe were disrupted by a halt in Russian flows through Ukraine.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing atrocities since the invasion began on February 24, and Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday they would launch the first war crimes trial of the conflict. — AFP

May 12, 2022

Ukraine Finance Minister Sergiy Marchenko calls upon international donors to "maximise" efforts to help the nation in the wake of Russia's invasion.

"While defending our country and fighting against Russia we take a massive risk ... to make Ukraine win this war," Marchenko tells the European development bank's annual meet in the Moroccan city Marrakesh.

"We would thus appreciate if you take a small (financial) risk to help Ukraine so that we can win," he adds via video link. — AFP

May 10, 2022

Germany will reopen its embassy in Kyiv, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday during a visit to Ukraine, the first by a senior government figure since the Russian invasion.

"We will shortly reestablish a minimal presence of our German embassy in Kyiv," Baerbock said as she travelled to the capital in the hope of soothing strained relations between Germany and Ukraine. — AFP

May 10, 2022

Russia will not participate in Thursday's special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Ukraine, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The Council announced on Monday that it would hold a special session at Kyiv's request to examine "the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression".

But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday that "the Russian delegation will not legitimise with its presence this new political show organised under the guise of an extraordinary session".

"Unfortunately, our arguments and explanations on the true objectives of this special military operation and the real situation on the ground have been completely ignored," she said in a statement. — AFP

May 10, 2022

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during a surprise trip to Ukraine on Tuesday visited Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv where Russian troops have been accused of killing civilians.

Baerbock, who was meeting with local residents during the unannounced trip, is the latest in a string of foreign diplomats and leaders to visit Bucha, one of several towns and villages around Kyiv where Moscow's army has been accused of carrying out war crimes. — AFP

May 10, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his highly anticipated Victory Day speech at a giant military parade in Moscow. He says he had no choice but to send troops into Ukraine to defend the Russian "Motherland" from an "absolutely unacceptable threat".

Speculation that he could use the 77th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II to expand the conflict comes to naught.

The Russian leader insists instead on the need to avoid "the horror of a global war". — AFP

May 9, 2022

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen was headed to Hungary on Monday to meet Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is holding up Brussels' plans for an embargo on Russian oil.

"They will discuss issues related to European security of energy supply," von der Leyen's spokesman Eric Mamer said. 

Landlocked Hungary relies on Russian oil from a single pipeline and Orban has warned he cannot approve the European Commission's proposed sixth package of EU sanctions against Moscow -- AFP

May 9, 2022

President Vladimir Putin says that Russian forces in Ukraine were defending the Motherland from an "absolutely unacceptable threat," as he opened the annual parade marking victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Putin tells thousands of troops gathered in Moscow's Red Square that Russian forces in Ukraine were continuing the battle against Nazism, but that it was important "to do everything so that the horror of a global war does not happen again." — AFP

May 9, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "unprovoked war of aggression" in Ukraine has brought "shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people," the G7 group of wealthy nations says in a statement.

"Russia has violated the international rules-based order, particularly the UN Charter, conceived after the Second World War to spare successive generations from the scourge of war," says the statement, made as the G7 met by videoconference and commemorated the end of World War II in Europe.

"We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine," it says. — AFP

May 8, 2022

Ukraine's last soldiers in the port city of Mariupol face a brutal final showdown Sunday with besieging Russian forces, who are hoping to deliver a critical win ahead of the country's victory day.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is also set to hold talks with G7 leaders via video conference to discuss the situation in his country, which fears a renewed intensity to Moscow's offensive after the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks.

The complex — the final pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city — has taken on a symbolic value in the war, with the last soldiers holed up in its sprawling network of underground tunnels and bunkers.

Taking full control of Mariupol would allow Moscow to create a land bridge between the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and regions run by pro-Russian separatists in the east.

"The enemy is trying to finish off the defenders of Azovstal, they are trying to do it before May 9 to give (Russian President) Vladimir Putin a gift," Oleksiy Arestovych, an aide to Ukraine's president, said. — AFP

May 8, 2022

Ukraine says that all women, children and elderly civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the destroyed port city of Mariupol where Ukrainian forces are holding out against Russian troops.

"The President's order has been carried out: all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the Mariupol humanitarian mission has been completed," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says in a statement on social media. — AFP

May 7, 2022

President Joe Biden announces a new US weapons package worth $150 million for Ukraine's fight to repel Russia's invasion.

"I am announcing another package of security assistance that will provide additional artillery munitions, radars, and other equipment to Ukraine," Biden says, while warning that funding was close to running out and urging Congress to authorize more.

According to a senior US official, the package includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars used for detecting the source of enemy fire, electronic jamming equipment and spare parts. — AFP

May 6, 2022

Ukraine's Azov battalion, leading Kyiv's defence of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, accuses Russian forces Friday of firing during a civilian evacuation of the huge steelworks, despite a Moscow-imposed ceasefire. 

"During the ceasefire at the Azovstal plant, a car was hit by Russians who used an anti-tank guided weapon," the Azov battalion says on Telegram, saying the vehicle was "moving towards civilians to evacuate them" at the time. 

The strike killed one Ukrainian fighter and wounded six others, it says. — AFP

May 6, 2022

The US Defense Department denies that it provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukrainian forces could kill them.

Reacting to an explosive New York Times report on US support for Ukraine's military, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the United States supplies Kyiv's forces with military intelligence "to help Ukrainians defend their country."

"We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military," Kirby said. — AFP

May 6, 2022

The United Nations says a new convoy was en route to evacuate civilians from the "hell" of a besieged steel plant in Mariupol, even as Ukraine accused Russia of breaking its promise to pause fire at the site.

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have for weeks been holed up at the sprawling factory, trapped under heavy Russian fire, in what has become the last pocket of resistance in the strategically important southern port city.

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the Russian army was still ready to allow civilians to leave the sprawling complex, while a Kremlin spokesman said humanitarian corridors were "functioning". — AFP

May 5, 2022

The possibility of the Ukraine-Russia conflict spilling over to the Philippines is remote despite the country's military agreements with the US, the defense department says

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says the Philippines is far from the site of the clashes, which were triggered by Russia's invasion.

"I discussed that with the President, especially during the command conference. He asked, 'Are we in danger of being dragged into that?' Because he said he allowed the US to use Clark in case it goes to war," Lorenzana says in Filipino during an interview with state-run PTV. — Alexis Romero

May 5, 2022

India and France call for "an immediate cessation of hostilities" in Ukraine, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi again stopping short of condemning Russia's invasion of its neighbour. 

India, which imports much of its military hardware from Russia, has long walked a diplomatic tightrope between the West and Moscow — notably refusing to denounce the latter or vote against it at the United Nations over its actions in Ukraine.

"France and India expressed their deep concern over the humanitarian crisis and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine," Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement after they met in Paris for talks and a working dinner.

"Both countries unequivocally condemned the fact that civilians have been killed in Ukraine, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in order for the two sides to come together to promote dialogue and diplomacy, and to put an immediate end to the suffering of the people." — AFP

May 4, 2022

In a rare move, Russia will boycott a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday with the EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC), diplomats said, a further sign of deteriorating relations between Moscow and its United Nations partners.

According to a Russian diplomatic source speaking anonymously Tuesday, Moscow's decision is linked to the situation in Ukraine.

A Western diplomat told AFP they had no memory of Russia boycotting a Security Council meeting since it invaded Ukraine on February 24. — AFP

May 4, 2022

The UN secretary-general says he hopes Ukraine and Russia can organize "more humanitarian pauses," such as the one that allowed the evacuation of about 100 Ukrainian civilians from the Azovstal steel plant.

The Red Cross and UN had said earlier that 101 civilians were evacuated from the tunnels of the plant in Ukraine's battered city of Mariupol, but warned that others remain trapped.

It was the first completed civilian evacuation from the giant steel factory, where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have for weeks been trapped, hiding as Russian forces besieged and pummeled the city. 

"I hope the continued coordination with Kyiv and Moscow will lead to more humanitarian pauses that will allow civilians safe passage away from the fighting and aid to reach people where the needs are greatest," Antonio Guterres said in a statement, without specifying which locations he meant. — AFP

May 3, 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces another £300 million ($376 mn, 358 mn euros) in UK military aid for Ukraine in a remote address to its parliament, hailing the country's fight against Russia as its "finest hour".

"We will carry on supplying Ukraine... with weapons, funding and humanitarian aid, until we have achieved our long-term goal, which must be so to fortify Ukraine that no-one will ever dare to attack you again," he tells the Verkhovna Rada. — AFP

May 3, 2022

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday slammed his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for alleging Adolf Hitler may have "had Jewish blood" and summoned Moscow's ambassador for "clarifications".

Lavrov, speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset's Rete 4 channel in an interview released Sunday, claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish".

Lapid condemned the remarks as "an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error", in a statement from the foreign ministry. 

"Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust," he said. "The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism." — AFP

May 3, 2022

Russia's top general, Valery Gerasimov, visited the Donbas front in the Ukraine war last week, a Pentagon official says, but reports that he was injured in a Ukrainian attack could not be confirmed.

"What we can confirm is that we know that for several days last week he was in the Donbas," a senior US defense official told journalists.

"We don't believe that he's still there -- that he has left and he's back in Russia," the official said.

"We cannot confirm reports that he was injured." -- AFP

May 2, 2022

Kyiv said Monday that its drones sank two Russian patrol boats near the Black Sea's Snake Island where Ukrainian soldiers rebuffed Moscow's demands to surrender at the start of its invasion.

"Two Russian Raptor boats were destroyed at dawn today near Snake Island," Ukraine's defence ministry said in a statement distributed on social media.

The defense ministry also released grainy black and white ariel footage showing an explosion on a small military vessel.

"The Bayraktars are working," Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was cited as saying in the statement, referring to Turkish-made military drones.

Raptor patrol boats can carry up to three crew and 20 personnel. They are usually equiped with machine guns and used in reconnaissance or landing operations.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral in which Ukrainian soldiers rebuffed demands from crew of a Russian warship to surrender. -- AFP

May 2, 2022

Around 80 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, with some handed over to the UN and the Red Cross, the Russian defence ministry says.

"Eighty civilians, including women and children....have been rescued," the defence ministry says in a statement. "Those who wished to leave for areas controlled by the Kyiv regime were handed over to UN and ICRC representatives." — AFP

May 1, 2022

Father Georgy Edelshtein is keen to debate those who disagree with his opposition to Russia's military campaign in Ukraine. 

"I'd like to see one or two of my opponents sitting right here," the 89-year-old says, pointing to an empty armchair in his living room full of gilded icons.

The white-bearded priest in a black cassock is one of the few Russian Orthodox priests to have spoken out against Moscow's military operation in Ukraine.

In a quavering voice, but without hesitation, he explains: "I'm afraid I am a bad priest. I've never been against all wars but I've always been against any land-grabbing, aggressive war."

Ukraine "is an independent state and let them build their state as they see necessary," he tells AFP in his house in the hamlet of Novo-Bely Kamen on the banks of the River Volga in the Kostroma region, a six-hour drive from Moscow.

Since Russia launched its military action on February 24, only a handful of priests from the Russian Orthodox Church led by Moscow Patriarch Kirill -- which counts some 150 million believers across the world -- have spoken out openly against the Kremlin's military campaign.

Kirill has given a series of increasingly bellicose sermons, calling for Russians to "rally around" the authorities to help conquer "enemies" he accuses of trying to destroy historic unity between Russia and Ukraine. -- AFP

May 1, 2022

At least 20 civilians including several children were able to leave a badly battered steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday in what could be the start of a long-awaited, larger evacuation of the last holdout in the Russian-held city.

Earlier efforts at evacuations from the Azovstal steel plant -- where local fighters say they and hundreds of civilians are still sheltering in brutal conditions -- had been futile.

Ukrainian fighters of the Azov regiment, which has been defending the site, said 20 civilians had left, possibly for the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, about 225 kilometres (140 miles) to the northwest. 

Russia's Tass news agency carried a similar report, though putting the number of evacuees at 25.

A United Nations-planned evacuation had been planned, though it was unclear whether Saturday's evacuation was UN-led and whether further evacuations were imminent. There were no immediate details on the condition of the evacuees.

Ukraine's President Zelensky said in a video Saturday evening said Kyiv was "doing everything to ensure that the evacuation mission from Mariupol is carried out".

Fresh satellite imagery by private US firm Maxar taken on Friday showed a devastated Mariupol, with almost all of Azovstal destroyed.  — AFP

April 30, 2022

Russia confirms that it carried out an air strike on Kyiv during a visit by the UN's secretary general, the first such attack on the Ukrainian capital in nearly two weeks, and in which a journalist also died.

Vera Gyrych, a producer for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was killed when a Russian missile hit the building where she lived, the media group says.

Russia's defense ministry says it had deployed "high-precision, long-range air-based weapons" that "destroyed the production buildings of the Artyom missile and space enterprise in Kyiv". — AFP

April 29, 2022

Germany berates Russia for carrying out an air strike on Kyiv during a visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling it "inhumane".

"We strongly condemn the Russian missile attack on Kyiv while... Guterres was in talks yesterday," government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner says, accusing Russia of having "no respect whatsoever for international law". — AFP

April 29, 2022

Ukraine lashes out angrily after Russian strikes slammed into the capital Kyiv as UN chief Antonio Guterres was visiting in the first such bombardment since mid-April. 

"By this heinous act of barbarism Russia demonstrates once again its attitude towards Ukraine, Europe and the world," tweeted Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba. — AFP

April 29, 2022

The Security Council failed to go far enough in its efforts to "prevent and end" Russia's war in Ukraine, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres admitted  Thursday while visiting Kyiv. 

"Let me be very clear: the Security Council failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war. And this is the source of great disappointment, frustration and anger," he said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

April 28, 2022

Several countries and organizations, including the UN, pledge to bring to justice any perpetrators of war crimes committed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

They were urged on by the Lebanese-British barrister Amal Clooney, who said she feared "politicians calling for justice but not delivering it."

"My fear is that you will get busy and distracted and that each day there'll be a little bit less coverage of the war and people will become a little bit more numb to it," Clooney tells an informal meeting of the Security Council. — AFP

April 28, 2022

Several countries and organizations, including the UN, pledged on Wednesday to bring to justice any perpetrators of war crimes committed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

They were urged on by the Lebanese-British barrister Amal Clooney, who said she feared "politicians calling for justice but not delivering it."

"My fear is that you will get busy and distracted and that each day there'll be a little bit less coverage of the war and people will become a little bit more numb to it," Clooney told an informal meeting of the Security Council. — AFP

April 28, 2022

The United Nations says more than 5.3 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia invaded two months ago, with more than 52,000 joining their ranks in the past 24 hours.

In total, 5,317,219 people have fled Ukraine as refugees since February 24, according to the latest data from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

That marks an increase of 52,452 over the figure given on Tuesday. — AFP

April 27, 2022

Russia's defence ministry says Wednesday its forces had destroyed a large quantity of Western-supplied weapons in Ukraine with long-range missiles.

"On the territory of the Zaporizhzhia aluminium plant, high-precision long-range sea-based Kalibr missiles destroyed hangars with a large batch of foreign weapons and ammunition supplied by the United States and European countries for Ukrainian troops," the ministry says in a briefing. — AFP

April 27, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin tells the visiting UN chief Tuesday that he still had hope for negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine.

"Despite the fact that the military operation is ongoing, we still hope that we will be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track," Putin tells UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was visiting Moscow, in televised remarks.

"We are negotiating, we do not reject (talks)." — AFP

April 26, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that peace talks with Ukraine would continue, while warning there was a "real" danger of a World War III.

Speaking to Russian news agencies, he criticises Kyiv's approach to the talks, adding: "Good will has its limits. But if it isn't reciprocal, that doesn't help the negotiation process.

"But we are continuing to engage in negotiations with the team delegated by (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky, and these contacts will go on." — AFP

April 25, 2022

Ukraine says Moscow had not agreed to its request for a humanitarian corridor to let wounded soldiers and civilians leave the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol. 

"Unfortunately, there are no agreements on humanitarian corridors from Azovstal today," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vershchuk says on Telegram. — AFP

April 25, 2022

Two months into the war in Ukraine, military experts say they have been shocked about how ill-prepared Russia has been in its invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.

Despite an initial offensive on multiple fronts, Moscow has failed to gain the upper hand in the air, sent in columns of tanks without cover or coordination and has vastly underestimated the strength of Ukraine's resistance, experts say.

The unanimous opinion among western military general staff is that Russian President Vladimir Putin's original aim was to decapitate the Ukrainian forces in a lightning operation. — AFP 

April 25, 2022

The US wants Russia "weakened" so it cannot invade again and Ukraine can win the war if it has the right equipment, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said Monday on returning from a trip to Kyiv.

"The first step in winning is believing that you can win. And so they believe that we can win," Austin told a group of journalists after the visit with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The two, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, were the first high-profile US officials to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

"We believe that we can win, they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support," Austin said. — AFP

April 25, 2022

The United States wants Russia's military capability weakened so that it cannot carry out another invasion, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday after returning from a trip to Kyiv.

"We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine," Austin told a group of journalists after he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

April 25, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Kyiv, his office said Sunday.

It was the first meeting between Zelensky and US officials since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

"Today the Ukrainian people are united and strong, and Ukraine-US friendship and partnership are stronger than ever!" Zelensky tweeted Sunday. — AFP

April 24, 2022

Kyiv prepared on Saturday for its first wartime visit from two top US officials, as Ukraine accused Russia of killing eight people, including an infant, in a strike on the southern city of Odessa that all but buried hopes of a truce for Orthodox Easter. 

The Sunday visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will come at a symbolic moment — on the day the war enters its third month — and with fierce battles continuing in the country's east.

It also comes as the situation in the shattered port city of Mariupol remains bleak. The latest of many attempts to evacuate civilians failed Saturday, and the situation facing an embattled unit of Ukrainian fighters sheltering in tunnels under a sprawling steel mill there appeared increasingly desperate.

A series of European leaders have already traveled to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and underscore their support, but the United States — a leading donor of finances and weaponry — had yet to send any top officials.

Asked by AFP to comment on the highly sensitive trip by two of President Joe Biden's top cabinet members, the State Department declined. — AFP

April 23, 2022

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine next week after a stop in Moscow to confer with President Vladimir Putin about the war, the UN said Friday.

Guterres will see Zelensky and Ukraine's foreign minister on Thursday, two days after visiting Moscow, the United Nations said in a statement.

The Kremlin confirmed Friday that Putin would meet Guterres on Tuesday.

Guterres sent letters this week requesting these in-person meetings to try to regain the initiative for the UN, which has been largely marginalized from the crisis since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

In part this is because the war has divided the UN Security Council permanent members: the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia.

China has refused to condemn the invasion, depicting Russia as a victim of Western efforts to weaken it.

With the letters he sent on Tuesday, Guterres sought to spur dialogue to end the war. -- AFP

April 22, 2022

No evacuations of civilians will take place in war-torn Ukraine on Friday as the situation on the roads is too dangerous, a senior official said.

"Because of the insecurity along the routes, there will be no humanitarian corridors today, April 22," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

"To all those who are waiting for an evacuation, please be patient and hold on," she said. — AFP

April 21, 2022

Ukraine's last defenders in devastated Mariupol are refusing to surrender, but have appealed for security guarantees, with Russian forces on the brink of taking complete control of the strategically vital city.

Mariupol has been under siege almost since the invasion began, with widespread shelling laying waste to swathes of the port city and forcing most of its 450,000 people to flee.

On Wednesday, Moscow issued another call for the city's defenders to surrender.

But that ultimatum passed and Ukrainian forces have stood firm, holing up in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant -- also a refuge for up to 2,000 civilians, according to an adviser to the city's mayor. AFP could not independently confirm the number. 

They described a "horrible situation" in the encircled complex, reporting that the trapped civilians -- mostly women and children -- are without drinking water, food and fresh air.

A Ukrainian commander in the plant issued a desperate plea for help Wednesday, accusing the Russians of failing to follow through on promises to allow civilians safe passage out of the city. 

"I want to call upon all the civilised world to join security guarantees," deputy commander of the far-right Azov Regiment, Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, said in a statement, adding civilians inside the plant were "scared due to constant shelling".

"We are pleading so we can collect the bodies of the dead, so the civilians can calmly walk out from Azovstal."

But the corridor appeared to be reopening, with Ukrainian authorities reporting Thursday that four buses had left Mariupol. -- AFP

April 21, 2022

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hails Russia's "liberation" of Mariupol after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told him Moscow controlled the Ukrainian port city apart from the Azovstal steel plant.

"Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape," Putin says in a televised meeting, adding it would be "impractical" to storm the huge industrial area, where more than 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen remain according to Shoigu. — AFP

April 21, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not succeed in dividing the EU in its response to the war in Ukraine, EU chief Charles Michel says on a visit to Kyiv.

"The Kremlin's goal is to destroy the sovereignty of Ukraine, it's also to divide the European Union, and he will not succeed," Michel says at a press conference with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.  

"In recent weeks we have demonstrated even in difficult circumstances that the 27 member states, we were systematically able to take decisions all together by unanimity," he says. — AFP

April 20, 2022

Norway has given Ukraine around 100 French-made Mistral anti-air missiles, the government said on Wednesday.

The Mistral launchers and missiles, which have already been delivered, had until now been mounted on Norwegian navy vessels, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Built from the end of the 1980s by defence group Matra, which later merged with European missile developer MBDA, the Mistral is a very short-range surface-to-air missile. It can be used on vehicles, ships and helicopters, or be portable. 

In a video speech to the Norwegian parliament at the end of March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had asked Oslo for anti-air missiles, albeit the more modern NASAMS type made by Norway's Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

"The (Mistral) missile is to be retired from the Norwegian military but it is still a modern and efficient weapon that will be of great use to Ukraine", Norway Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram said in the statement.

"Other countries have also donated similar weapons systems", he said. — AFP

April 20, 2022

European Council chief Charles Michel, representing EU member states, arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday as Russia continues its new offensive in the east of Ukraine. 

"In Kyiv today. In the heart of a free and democratic Europe," Michel wrote on his Twitter account, accompanied by a photo taken at a train station in the Ukrainian capital. — AFP

April 20, 2022

A commander for the Ukrainian marines fighting in the last stronghold of Mariupol said his forces were "maybe facing our last days, if not hours" and appealed for extraction in a Facebook post published early Wednesday.

"The enemy is outnumbering us 10 to one," Serhiy Volyna from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade said, sheltering at the besieged Azovstal factory, adding: "We appeal and plead to all world leaders to help us. We ask them to use the procedure of extraction and take us to the territory of a third-party state." — AFP

April 20, 2022

The United States is set to approve another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, less than a week after announcing a package of the same amount, US media reported Tuesday.

Details of the new package are still being worked out, according to CNN, which cited three senior officials in President Joe Biden's administration.

NBC News reported that the new assistance is expected to include more artillery and tens of thousands of shells to help Kyiv combat Russia's invasion, as fighting escalates in the east of Ukraine. — AFP

April 20, 2022

Up to 20,000 mercenaries from the Russian private military company the Wagner Group as well as from Syria and Libya are fighting alongside Moscow's forces in Ukraine, a European official says Tuesday.

"Regarding their capabilities, it's infantry. They don't have any heavy vehicles and weapons. It's much more infantry," the official tells reporters in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"These guys are mainly used as a mass against Ukrainian resistance," the official says. — AFP

April 19, 2022

There will be no humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians in Ukraine for a third consecutive day on Tuesday because there has been no agreement from the Russian side, Kyiv's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Tuesday.

"Today, April 19, there will unfortunately be no humanitarian corridor," Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram. "The intense bombardment of Donbas is continuing." — AFP

April 19, 2022

Russia's large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun, the governor of the Lugansk region Sergiy Gaiday says on Monday.

"It's hell. The offensive has begun, the one we've been talking about for weeks. There's constant fighting in Rubizhne and Popasna, fighting in other peaceful cities," he says on Facebook. — AFP

April 18, 2022

Ukraine says it is halting for a second consecutive day the evacuation of civilians from frontline town and cities in the east of the country, accusing Russian forces of blocking and shelling escape routes.

"Unfortunately, today, April 18, there will be no humanitarian corridors. In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says in a statement on social media. — AFP

April 18, 2022

Ukraine on Sunday vowed to fight to the end in Mariupol after a Russian ultimatum expired for remaining forces to surrender in the Black Sea port city where Moscow is pushing for a major strategic victory.

"The city still has not fallen," Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said hours after Moscow's deadline had passed for fighters holed up and surrounded in a sprawling fortress-like steelworks to surrender.

"There's still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end," he told ABC's "This Week".

Moscow has shifted its military focus to gaining control of the eastern Donbas region and forging a land corridor to already-annexed Crimea.  — AFP

April 18, 2022

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says that the strategic port city of Mariupol "has not fallen" and that the encircled forces defending the city from Russian attack will "fight to the end."

But with the fate of those embattled fighters looking increasingly grim, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that Russian troops appeared to have decided to level the city.

"The city still has not fallen," Shmyhal said on ABC's "This Week." "There's still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end." — AFP

April 17, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the situation in the eastern city of Mariupol is "inhuman", warning the "elimination" of the last Ukrainian troops defending would end peace talks with Russia.

"Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there," he says in a video address. -- AFP

April 16, 2022

Russia's defense ministry says Saturday its forces had struck a military hardware factory in Kyiv, a day after warning of intensified attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

"High-precision long-range air-launched weapons destroyed production buildings of an armaments plant in Kyiv," the ministry says in a statement on Telegram. — AFP 

April 16, 2022

US media report that Russia has formally complained to the United States over its military aid to Ukraine, warning of "unpredictable consequences" if shipments of advanced weaponry go forward.

In a diplomatic note this week, Moscow warned the United States and NATO against sending the "most sensitive" weapons for Kyiv to use in the conflict with Russia, saying such shipments were "adding fuel" to the situation and could come with "unpredictable consequences," the Washington Post reports.

The warning came the same week that US President Joe Biden pledged a new $800 million military aid package for Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armored personnel carriers. — AFP

April 15, 2022

China must pay a greater price for backing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a senior United States senator said Friday, during a trip to Taiwan in which American lawmakers vowed that Washington would not abandon the island.

Beijing threatened "strong measures" in response to the delegation led by Lindsey Graham, a vocal China hawk, which arrived in Taipei late Thursday for a two-day visit. 

China has never controlled democratic Taiwan but it views the island as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.  — AFP

April 15, 2022

Russia's defence ministry warns Friday it will intensify attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in response to strikes on Russian soil, after accusing Ukraine of targeting Russian border towns.

"The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or sabotage committed by the Kyiv nationalist regime on Russian territory," the ministry says in a statement. Russia hit a "military" factory outside Kyiv late Thursday using Kalibr sea-based long-range missiles, it adds. — AFP

April 15, 2022

Ukraine says it is reopening humanitarian corridors through nine routes in the east and south, to facilitate the evacuation of civilians from war-scarred regions after a day-long pause that Kyiv attributed to Russian violations. — AFP

April 14, 2022

A Russian warship in the Black Sea was "seriously damaged" by an ammunition explosion, Russian state media says.

"As a result of a fire, ammunition detonated on the Moskva missile cruiser. The ship was seriously damaged," the Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying, adding that the cause of the fire was being determined and that the crew had been evacuated. — AFP  

April 13, 2022

Russia says more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol after a ferocious six-week battle for the strategic port.

"In the city of Mariupol... 1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th Marine Brigade voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered," the Russian defence ministry says. Ukraine has yet to confirm the report. — AFP

April 12, 2022

A UK minister warns any use of chemical weapons by Russia in its attacks on Ukraine "will get a response and all options are on the table".

The stark warning came hours after London said it was trying to verify reports Moscow used chemical weapons Monday in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

"If they are used at all, then (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond," armed forces minister James Heappey told Sky News. — AFP

April 12, 2022

France is expelling six Russians suspected of working as spies under diplomatic cover after the French intelligence services uncovered a clandestine operation on its territory, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

"Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover whose activities were found to be contrary to our national interests have been declared persona non grata," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said the DGSI domestic intelligence service had revealed on April 10 after a long investigation "a clandestine operation carried out by the Russian intelligence services on our territory". — AFP

April 12, 2022

Russian forces are reinforcing around the Donbas, notably near the town of Izyum, but have not yet launched an offensive to seize control of the disputed region of eastern Ukraine, Pentagon officials say.

"They're repositioning, they're refocusing on the Donbas," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tells reporters.

Kirby says a convoy of vehicles had been observed heading for Izyum but "it's not clear to us how many vehicles are in this convoy and what exactly they're bringing. — AFP

April 11, 2022

Austria's chancellor on Monday will become the first European leader to visit Moscow since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as Kyiv steels itself for a huge Russian offensive in the country's east. 

Karl Nehammer said he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is expected to raise alleged war crimes in devastated areas around Kyiv that were under Russian occupation, including the town of Bucha.

Ukrainian authorities say over 1,200 bodies have been found in the area so far and that they are weighing cases against "500 suspects", including Putin and other top Russian officials.

Russian forces are now turning their focus to the Donbas region in the east, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian troops were preparing "even larger operations".

Russia is believed to be seeking a link between occupied Crimea and Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas. -- AFP

April 11, 2022

Weekend bombardments in eastern Ukraine killed 10 civilians and wounded 11 others around Kharkiv, the region's governor said Sunday.

Saturday's bombardments hit four towns around and to the southeast of Kharkiv, Oleg Synegubov posted on Telegram, adding that one of those killed was a child.

"In the course of the day, the occupiers bombarded the civil infrastructure at Balakliya, Pesochin, Zolochiv and Dergachi," he added.

"At the current time we know of 10 people killed, including a child, and 11 wounded." — AFP

April 10, 2022

North Korea has described Joe Biden as an "old man in his senility", in a characteristically colourful personal attack on the US president after he accused the Russian leader of war crimes in Ukraine.

The diatribe came after Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin "a war criminal" and called for him to be put on trial over alleged atrocities against civilians in Ukraine’s Bucha.

"The latest story is the US chief executive who spoke ill of the Russian president with groundless data," said a commentary carried by the official KCNA news agency on Saturday.

"Such reckless remarks can be made only by the descendants of Yankees, master hand at aggression and plot-breeding," it added.

It described Biden as a "president known for his repeated slip of tongue", but stopped short of referring to him by name. — AFP

April 9, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for a "firm global response" after a missile strike killed 52 people at a train station in eastern Ukraine where civilians had gathered to flee a feared Russian offensive.

"This is another Russian war crime for which everyone involved will be held accountable," Zelensky says in a video message, referring to Friday's missile strike, whose victims included five children. 

"World powers have already condemned Russia's attack on Kramatorsk. We expect a firm global response to this war crime," he continues. — AFP

April 8, 2022

More than 30 people were killed and over 100 injured in a rocket attack on a train station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine on Friday, the head of the national railway company says.

"More than 30 people were killed and over 100 were injured in the rocket attack on Kramatorsk railway station. This is a deliberate attack on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk," Alexander Kamyshin writes on social media. — AFP

April 8, 2022

US President Joe Biden calls the images emerging as Russian troops withdraw from parts of Ukraine an "outrage" to humanity, as he hailed Moscow's expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council.

"Russia's lies are no match for the undeniable evidence of what is happening in Ukraine," Biden says in a statement.

"The signs of people being raped, tortured, executed -- in some cases having their bodies desecrated -- are an outrage to our common humanity."  — AFP

April 8, 2022

Ukraine says it was "grateful" for a decision to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, saying "war criminals" should not be represented in the body. 

"War criminals have no place in UN bodies aimed at protecting human rights," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says on Twitter. "Grateful to all member states which supported the relevant UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) resolution and chose the right side of history." — AFP

April 7, 2022

Ukraine on Thursday accuses its neighbour, Kremlin-ally Hungary, of appeasing Russian aggression and disrupting EU unity following a telephone call between the Hungarian and Russian leaders.

"Apparently, after the elections, Budapest moved on to the next step — helping (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continue his aggression against Ukraine," the Ukrainian foreign ministry says in a statement, also accusing Hungary of "destroying unity in the EU". — AFP

April 7, 2022

Greece is to call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe "crimes of war" in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol, where there was a sizeable Greek community before Russia's invasion, its foreign minister said on Thursday.

"Greece is going to ask the international court in The Hague to investigate crimes of war conducted in Mariupol," Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said as he arrived for the second day of a NATO meeting on the war in Ukraine.

"Greece has a specific, special interest for Mariupol because of the existence of a 100,000 and more Greek community in Mariupol," he said.

The ICC's chief prosecutor said a month ago the court had opened "active investigations" into possible war crimes in Ukraine, backed by dozens of countries.

Mariupol, located in a strategic southeastern spot between Russia-occupied Crimea and pro-Russian separatist regions in Ukraine's east, has been the scene of some of the fiercest assaults by Moscow's forces. -- AFP

April 6, 2022

EU nations expelled dozens more Russian diplomats Tuesday amid increasing outrage over the Ukraine conflict, in coordinated moves that have seen more than 200 envoys and staff sent home in 48 hours.

After Germany and France announced around 75 expulsions between them Monday, countries including Italy, Spain and Slovenia followed suit Tuesday — while the European Union itself declared "persona non grata" a group of Russian officials working with its institutions.

The expulsions were for alleged spying or "national security reasons", but come after international condemnation of killings in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where dozens of bodies were discovered after Russian troops withdrew. — AFP

April 5, 2022

French anti-terror prosecutors say that they were opening three new probes into suspected war crimes committed against French nationals during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The cases took place in the southern city of Mariupol; in Hostomel, outside Kyiv; and in Chernihiv in northen Ukraine, the national anti-terror prosecutors' office says in a statement.

The prosecutors had already opened a war crime probe on March 16 into the death of Franco-Irish Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who was shot near Kyiv while covering the war. — AFP

April 5, 2022

Russia accuses Ukraine of staging new civilian deaths in a number of locations in an effort to pin the blame on Moscow. 

The Russian defence ministry made the assertion after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded tough new sanctions on Moscow over killings in the town of Bucha that have prompted international condemnation.

The Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian military recorded a fake video that purported to show "peaceful civilians allegedly killed by the Russian armed forces." — AFP

April 5, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak Tuesday during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the conflict in his country, Britain's diplomatic mission announces, the leader's first address to a UN body since Russia invaded on February 24.

Following the Monday announcement, the United Kingdom -- which holds the council presidency for April -- was unable to say if the speech would be live or recorded in advance.

Tuesday's session was already on the calendar before the announcement of Zelensky's appearance, and will include the participation of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. — AFP

April 4, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that he had created a "special mechanism" to investigate Russian "crimes" in Ukraine, vowing to find and punish "everyone" responsible after evidence emerged of civilian killings in towns near Kyiv. 

"I decided to create a special mechanism of justice in Ukraine to investigate and prosecute every crime of the occupiers in our country," he says in a video address. He said this will include "national and international experts, investigators, prosecutors and judges." 

Zelensky vows that "everyone guilty of such crimes will be entered in a special Book of Executioners, will be found and punished." — AFP

April 4, 2022

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is "deeply shocked" by images from the discovery of mass graves in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital, and called for an independent investigation, his spokesman says.

"I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability," Guterres says after Ukrainian officials said hundreds of bodies had been found, prompting accusations of war crimes against Russian troops. — AFP

April 3, 2022

Explosions rocked the strategic Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Sunday, as a top UN official headed to Moscow to try to secure a "humanitarian ceasefire" and after evidence emerged of possible civilian killings around Kyiv.

Thick plumes of black smoke rose from several areas on the historic Black Sea port, after air strikes shook the city at about 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) but the Ukrainian army said no one was killed.

Russia's defense ministry confirmed the attack, saying "high-precision sea and air-based missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three storage facilities for fuel and lubricants".

The ministry claimed the targets were supplying fuel to Ukrainian troops. — AFP

April 2, 2022

The US Defense Department announces it is setting aside $300 million in "security assistance" for Ukraine to bolster the country's defense capabilities, adding to the $1.6 billion Washington has committed since Russia invaded in late February.

The package includes laser-guided rocket systems, drones, ammunition, night-vision devices, tactical secure communications systems, medical supplies and spare parts.

"This decision underscores the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia's war of choice," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says in a statement. — AFP

April 1, 2022

Officials in Kyiv say Russian troops have left Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant after weeks of occupation.

"There are no longer any outsiders on the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Ukraine's state agency in charge of the Chernobyl exclusion zone says on Facebook. — AFP

April 1, 2022

One person was killed and four seriously wounded when Russian forces shelled an evacuation convoy outside the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigiv, officials in Kyiv said Thursday.

"Five buses came under direct fire from the enemy as they tried to get to the surrounded city to evacuate people," Ukraine's ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said on Telegram. 

"There were only civilian volunteers on the buses. As a result of the shelling, one person is dead, four were gravely injured." — AFP

March 31, 2022

Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine have said they control almost all of the Lugansk region and more than half of the Donetsk region after Moscow made these territories its primary military goal.

AFP could not independently verify these claims. 

Russia recognised the independence of the self-declared Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics shortly before sending troops into Ukraine on February 24. 

"As of the morning of March 31, 2022, more than 90 percent of the territory of the People's Republic of Lugansk has been liberated," the foreign ministry of the self-proclaimed republic said on Telegram Thursday. — AFP

March 31, 2022

The Ukrainian government is sending 45 buses on Thursday to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, where the Russian defence ministry has announced a local ceasefire, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

"Tonight, we received a message from the International Red Cross Committee that the Russian Federation confirms its readiness to open access for the humanitarian convoy to the city of Mariupol with transit through the city of Berdiansk," she said in video posted on Telegram. 

"We are sending 45 buses to the Mariupol corridor". — AFP

March 31, 2022

The Ukrainian government is sending 45 buses on Thursday to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, where the Russian defense ministry has announced a local ceasefire, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says.

"Tonight, we received a message from the International Red Cross Committee that the Russian Federation confirms its readiness to open access for the humanitarian convoy to the city of Mariupol with transit through the city of Berdiansk," she says in video posted on Telegram. 

"We are sending 45 buses to the Mariupol corridor". — AFP

March 31, 2022

President Vladimir Putin is being misled by fearful advisors as his Ukraine invasion goes awry, with mutinous Russian troops sabotaging equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft, US and British intelligence agencies say.

The close allies, whose spies have played up Russia's failures and highlighted Kremlin divisions, said Putin's advisors were "too afraid" to tell him the full truth about battlefield reverses and the real impact of sanctions.

Hours after the White House released its withering intelligence assessment, Britain's GCHQ spy agency chief Jeremy Fleming said Thursday that the Russian leader had overestimated his military's ability to secure a rapid victory. — AFP

March 31, 2022

President Vladimir Putin has been poorly informed on the course of the war in Ukraine and his relations with his own staff have deteriorated, the White House said Wednesday on the basis of declassified US intelligence.

"We obviously have information which we have now made public that he felt misled by the Russian military," White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said, confirming an earlier statement by a senior US official.

Ukrainian forces have been recapturing territory in recent days — including the strategic Kyiv suburb of Irpin — as the Russian offensive appears to stall, a month after the invasion began on February 24.

"We believe (Putin is) being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because, again, the senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth," Bedingfield said. — AFP

March 30, 2022

Ukrainian authorities say that Russian forces had bombarded the northern city of Chernigiv despite Moscow's earlier claims that it was "radically" scaling back military activity in the area.

"The enemy has demonstrated its 'decrease in activity' in the Chernigiv region with strikes on Nizhyn, including air strikes. Chernigiv was shelled all night," regional governor Vyacheslav Chaus writes on social media. 

Speaking on local television, Chaus adds later that "the situation is not changing," one day after Russia announced it would be changing tact.

"Chernigiv is under artillery and aerial bombardment. Last night, there were bombardments that destroyed the civil infrastructure," he adds. — AFP

March 30, 2022

More than four million Ukrainians have now fled the country to escape Russia's war, United Nations figures show.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says 4,019,287 Ukrainians had fled across the country's borders since the February 24 invasion, with more than 2.3 million having headed west into Poland. —  AFP

March 30, 2022

US President Joe Biden and key western European allies agreed Tuesday in a phone call to keep punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.

"The leaders affirmed their determination to continue raising costs on Russia for its brutal attacks in Ukraine, as well as to continue supplying Ukraine with security assistance to defend itself," a statement said after Biden spoke with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy. — AFP

March 30, 2022

There can be no talk of lifting sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine until the war ends, President Volodymyr Zelensky says.

"The question of sanctions cannot even be raised until this war is over, until we get back what is ours," Zelensky says in a video address. — AFP

March 29, 2022

Ukrainian forces have "liberated" the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky says in televised remarks.

"In fact, this is now happening in parallel: the armed forces are advancing, the police are advancing, and immediately a sweep is going on completely through the streets... Therefore, the city has now been liberated, but it is still dangerous to be there, " Monastyrsky says.

The town's mayor, Oleksandr Markushin, had earlier on Monday announced on his Telegram channel that Russian troops had been driven out of the town on the strategic northwestern entrance to Kyiv. — AFP

March 29, 2022

UN chief Antonio Guterres says the global body is seeking a humanitarian ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, as the civilian toll continues to rise a month after Moscow's invasion of its neighbor. 

Guterres tells reporters he had asked UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths "immediately to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine."

He says he hopes Griffiths would go to both Moscow and Kyiv as soon as possible after he returns from a mission to Afghanistan. — AFP

March 28, 2022

President Joe Biden's apparent call for Vladimir Putin's exit reverberated instantly around the world, sparking an administration rush to course-correct — and risks scrambling US efforts to rally a united front on the Ukraine conflict.

Biden's comment that the Russian president "cannot remain in power" — delivered in Warsaw at the close of three days of marathon diplomacy — was termed "a horrendous gaffe" by one Republican senator.

A senior US analyst said it could have the effect of lengthening the war. — AFP

March 28, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenksy says Sunday that a Russian demand of Ukrainian neutrality — a key issue for Moscow at conflict negotiations — was being closely looked at by Kyiv's negotiators.

"This point of the negotiations is understandable to me and it is being discussed, it is being carefully studied," Zelensky says during an interview with several independent Russian news organisations.

The Kremlin earlier this month said Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt to help end Russia's invasion in Ukraine. — AFP

March 27, 2022

More than 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion a month ago, the UN says.

The UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, says 3,772,599 Ukrainians have fled the country — an increase of 46,793 from the previous day's figure.

Around 90 percent of them are women and children. The UN estimates that another 6.5 million people are displaced in Ukraine. — AFP

March 27, 2022

US President Joe Biden warns Russia not to move on an "inch" of NATO territory, as he delivers a major address on the Ukraine conflict Saturday in Warsaw.

"Don't even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory," Biden warns, reiterating the "sacred obligation" of alliance members to defend their territory "with the full force of our collective power." — AFP

March 26, 2022

Ukrainians are fighting to take back Kherson, now a "contested" city, according to Pentagon.

March 26, 2022

The Russian army is riddled with informers and using "old methods of warfare" against Ukrainian forces, the head of Ukraine's defense intelligence agency GUR says in an interview.

Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov also tells US publication The Nation that a "very large number of people" have been mobilized to engage in guerrilla warfare behind Russian lines.

Budanov says that although Ukrainian forces have held out against the Russian military for a month, the situation remains "very difficult. — AFP

March 25, 2022

Ukrainian officials in the strategic port city of Mariupol says some 300 people could have died in last week's Russian strike on a theatre where hundreds were sheltering.

"From eyewitnesses, information is emerging that about 300 people died in the Drama Theatre of Mariupol following strikes by a Russian aircraft," Mariupol city hall wrote on Telegram. — AFP

March 23, 2022

At least 12 people have been killed in strikes across eastern Ukraine, an official in Kyiv says Tuesday, nearly one month into Moscow's invasion.

"In the Donetsk region, Avdiivka was fired on by artillery and aircraft, the city was razed to the ground. Five civilians were killed and 19 were injured," Ukraine's ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, says in a statement.

She says the attack occurred late Monday. — AFP

March 22, 2022

Ukraine's leaders accuse Russian forces of firing on unarmed protesters in the occupied southern city of Kherson, with videos appearing to show residents fleeing flash-bang grenades and sustained gunfire.

"Occupiers shot at people who went out peacefully, without weapons, to protest. For freedom -- our freedom," President Volodymyr Zelensky says, leading the condemnation.

A series of videos posted on social media and the messaging app Telegram showed citizens gathering in Kherson's "Freedom Square" protesting against Russia's recent seizure of the city.

March 22, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky insists that a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "in any format" is needed to end the war in Ukraine.

"I believe that without this meeting it is impossible to fully understand what they are ready for in order to stop the war," Zelensky says in an interview with the Ukraine regional media outlet Suspilne.

Zelensky has previously said that "without negotiations we cannot end the war" and called for a summit with Putin, but his comments on Monday were particularly insistent.  — AFP

March 21, 2022

Ukraine has rejected an ultimatum to surrender the besieged port city of Mariupol to Russian forces, its deputy prime minister told Ukrainian media Monday.

"There can be no talk of surrendering weapons. We have already informed the Russian side of this," Iryna Vereshchuk told Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.

"It's a deliberate manipulation and it's a real hostage situation," she added of the demand. — AFP

March 21, 2022

US President Joe Biden will travel to Poland on Friday to meet with President Andrzej Duda for discussions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Sunday.

"The President will discuss how the United States, alongside our Allies and partners, is responding to the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia's unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. 

The statement added that Biden's trip will come after a visit to Belgium to meet with leaders from NATO, the G7 and the European Union. — AFP

March 21, 2022

A deputy commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet was killed in combat in the besieged port city of Mariupol during what Moscow calls its military operation in Ukraine, officials said Sunday.

"Captain 1st Rank Andrei Nikolayevich Paly was killed in the fighting to liberate Mariupol from Ukrainian Nazis," the governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.

Sevastopol is a port city in Crimea — annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 — and the base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. — AFP

March 20, 2022

Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday that Russia had bombed a school sheltering 400 people in the besieged port of Mariupol, as Moscow claimed that it had again fired a hypersonic missile in Ukraine, the second time it had used the next-generation weapon on its neighbour.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the siege of Mariupol, a strategic mostly Russian-speaking port in the southeast where utilities and communications have been cut for days, would go down as a war crime, warning Russians that thousands of their soldiers had died in the conflict.

The war in Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin launched on February 24 to stamp out the pro-Western bent in the ex-Soviet country, has sparked the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, felled Russia-West relations to Cold War-era lows, and is wreaking havoc in the world economy still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP

March 20, 2022

Ukraine called on China on Saturday to join the West in condemning "Russian barbarism", as Moscow claimed it had struck a Ukrainian arms depot with hypersonic missiles in what would be the first use in combat of the next-generation weapons.

That attack, not far from the country's western Romanian border, came as Russia said its troops had broken through Ukrainian defences to enter the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, a scene of mounting desperation.

With the invasion in its fourth week, Kyiv's embattled leader Volodymyr Zelensky pressed for "meaningful" talks to halt fighting that has forced at least 3.3 million Ukrainians to flee their country.

The plea for China to condemn the invasion came from a top Zelensky advisor, Mikhailo Podolyak. 

China could play an important role in global security, he said on Twitter, "if it makes a right decision to support the civilised countries' coalition and condemn Russian barbarism." — AFP

 

March 19, 2022

The United Nations says more than 3.3 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, Saturday, while nearly 6.5 million are thought to be internally displaced within the country.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says 3,328,692 Ukrainians had left since the war began on February 24, with another 58,030 joining the exodus since Friday's update.

"People continue to flee because they are afraid of bombs, airstrikes and indiscriminate destruction," says UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi. — AFP 

March 19, 2022

Dozens dead after shelling of military barracks in south Ukraine: witnesses to AFP 

March 18, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses Ukrainian authorities of stalling talks, but adds that Moscow was ready to search for solutions as he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"It was noted that the Kyiv regime is trying in every possible way to stall negotiations, putting forward more and more unrealistic proposals," the Kremlin says after the phone call. 

"Nevertheless, the Russian side is ready to continue to search for solutions in line with its well-known principled approaches." — AFP

March 18, 2022

Perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine will be called to account, the Group of Seven most industrialised nations warned Thursday, condemning "the indiscriminate attacks on civilians" by Russian troops since the invasion began on February 24.

"Due to President (Vladimir) Putin's unprovoked and shameful war, millions are forced to flee their homes; the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, theatres and schools is ongoing," the G7 foreign ministers said in a statement.

"Those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians, will be held responsible," they warned. — AFP

March 18, 2022

Ottawa announces it is establishing a new immigration program that will offer Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion a temporary Canadian residence permit for up to three years.

Canada, which has a large Ukrainian diaspora, especially in the center and west of the country, said in a statement that "Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality may stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years."

Applicants are required to apply online and provide their biometric data in the form of fingerprints and a photo. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges Germany in an emotional video address before parliament Thursday to help destroy a new "Wall" Russia was erecting in Europe.

"It's not a Berlin Wall — it is a Wall in central Europe between freedom and bondage and this Wall is growing bigger with every bomb" dropped on Ukraine, Zelensky tells MPs.

"Dear Mr Scholz, tear down this Wall," he implores German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, evoking US President Ronald Reagan's Cold War appeal in Berlin. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Diplomatic sources say the United States, Britain, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland have requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting Thursday because of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.

"Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians," the British diplomatic mission to the UN said Wednesday on its Twitter account. "Russia's illegal war on Ukraine is a threat to us all."

Earlier in the day, Russia asked to again postpone a UN Security Council vote on a resolution it drafted about the "humanitarian" situation in Ukraine. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Ukraine claims that Russia had destroyed a theater harboring more than a thousand people in the besieged port city of Mariupol, with the toll as yet unknown.

"Today, the invaders destroyed the Drama Theatre. A place, where more than a thousand people found refuge. We will never forgive this," the Mariupol local council says in a Telegram post. — AFP

March 16, 2022

Ukraine says "security guarantees" must be focus of talks with Russia.

March 16, 2022

There are "fundamental contradictions" in talks aimed at ending Russia's military attack on Ukraine but compromise is possible, a member of the Ukrainian delegation and presidential aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, says Tuesday.

"We'll continue tomorrow. A very difficult and viscous negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions. But there is certainly room for compromise," Podolyak tweets.

Talks resumed Tuesday, with both sides having signalled progress. — AFP

March 15, 2022

The United States has "deep concerns" about "alignment" between Russia and China, a senior US official says after high-ranking US and Chinese officials met for seven hours on the Ukraine war and other security issues.

"We do have deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia," the official tells reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. — AFP

March 14, 2022

Ukraine says it would demand an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops during a fourth round of negotiations to end more than two weeks of fighting after Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine.

"Peace, an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russians troops — and only after this can we talk about regional relations and about political differences," Kyiv's lead negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak says in a video statement posted to Twitter. — AFP

March 14, 2022

At least two people died and 12 were wounded following an air strike on a residential building in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, the country's emergency service says Monday. 

"As of 07:40, the bodies of two people were found in a nine-storey apartment building, three people were hospitalised and nine people were treated on the spot," the emergency service says on Facebook, adding that the building was in Kyiv's Obolon district. — AFP

March 14, 2022

Russia has asked China for military and economic aid for its war in Ukraine, US media reported Sunday, hours after the White House warned Beijing would face severe "consequences" if it helps Moscow evade sanctions. 

US officials told media that Russia had requested military equipment and support from its key ally.  

Moscow also asked Beijing for economic assistance against the crippling sanctions imposed against it by most of the Western world, the New York Times said, again citing anonymous officials. — AFP

March 14, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country or see its member states attacked by Russia.

"If you don't close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian rockets fall on your territory, on NATO territory," Zelensky says in a video address released shortly after midnight.

He speaks a day after thirty-five people were killed and more than 130 injured when Russian troops launched air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, near the border with NATO member Poland. — AFP

March 13, 2022

Russian troops launched multiple air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, a local official said Sunday.

Russia "launched an air strike on the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security," some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Lviv, head of the Lviv regional administration, Maxim Kozitsky, said on his verified Facebook page, adding that eight missiles were fired. — AFP

March 12, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky praises the support of neighboring Poland since Russia invaded last month.

"When you have someone who hurts you, it is very important to have someone who offers their shoulder for you to lean on," he says in a message to his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and the Polish people.

On February 24, when Russia invaded, "I had no doubt who this would be, who would tell me 'Brother, your people will not find themselves alone against the enemy'". — AFP

March 11, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin backs plans to allow volunteers, including from abroad, to fight in Ukraine, where he has sent thousands of Russian troops in what he calls a "special military operation". 

"If you see that there are people who want on a voluntary basis (to help east Ukraine's separatists), then you need to meet them halfway and help them move to combat zones," Putin tells Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during a televised security council meeting.

"As for the supply of arms, especially Western-made, which ended up in the hands of the Russian army, of course I support the possibility of transferring them to the military units of DNR and LNR," Putin says referring to the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in Ukraine's east. — AFP

March 11, 2022

The UN Security Council will hold an urgent meeting Friday at the request of Russia over the alleged development of biological weapons in Ukraine.

Russia on Thursday accused the United States of funding research into the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, which has faced an assault by tens of thousands of Russian troops since February 24. 

Both Washington and Kyiv have denied the existence of laboratories intended to produce biological weapons in Ukraine, with the United States saying the allegations were a sign that Moscow could soon use the weapons itself. — AFP

March 10, 2022

Russia accuses the United States of funding research into the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, as Moscow stepped up its campaign to gain control of key Ukrainian cities.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says in a televised briefing that "the purpose of this — and other Pentagon-funded biological research in Ukraine — was to establish a mechanism for the stealthy spread of deadly pathogens."

Konashenkov claimed the ministry had obtained documents detailing US military-biological activities in Ukraine, including on the transfer of Ukrainians' biomaterial abroad. — AFP

March 10, 2022

At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack the previous day on a children's hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, local officials said on Thursday. 

"Three people were killed, including a female child, in yesterday's attack on a children's and maternity hospital in Ukraine's besieged Mariupol, according to updated figures this morning," the city council said on its Telegram channel. 

Officials had previously given a toll of 17 injured in the attack. — AFP

March 10, 2022

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine have arrived in Turkey for face-to-face talks set for Thursday morning, officials said, in the first high-level contact between the two sides since Moscow invaded its ex-Soviet neighbour.

Officials from Kyiv and Moscow have held several rounds of discussions in Belarus, but the meeting in the southern city of Antalya represents the first time Russia has sent a minister for talks on the crisis.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had landed in Antalya for talks "on Russia ceasing its hostilities and ending its war against Ukraine," foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeted Wednesday evening. — AFP

March 10, 2022

Power has been cut to the Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukraine says, but the UN's atomic watchdog said there was "no critical impact on safety".

The news from the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster came as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said data transmission was also lost at the Zaporizhzhia atomic plant, Europe's largest.

Russian forces shelled and captured the Zaporizhzhia plant on March 4, causing a fire that raised alarm in Europe of a possible nuclear catastrophe. — AFP

March 10, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky describes a Russian air strike on a children's hospital in the southeastern city of Mariupol as a "war crime" after it prompted international condemnation.

The air strike on the hospital, which officials said held both maternity and paediatric units, blew out windows, ripped down partition walls and set fire to cars parked outside, videos posted by officials showed.

"We have not done and would never do anything like this war crime in any of the cities of the Donetsk or Lugansk regions, or of any region... because we are people. But are you?" Zelensky asks, switching to Russian to make his point.

"What kind of a country is Russia, that it is afraid of hospitals and maternity wards and destroys them?" he asks. — AFP

March 9, 2022

Russia says negotiations with officials from Kyiv to resolve the conflict in Ukraine were making headway and underscored that Moscow's troops were not working to topple the Ukrainian government.

"Some progress has been made," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says during a press briefing, referring to three rounds of talks with Kyiv. She says the Russian military had not been tasked to "overthrow the current government." — AFP

March 9, 2022

A Ukraine official says Russia and Ukraine agree day-long evacuation corridors.

March 9, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin is using nuclear "blackmail" to keep the international community from interfering in his Ukraine invasion, the head of the Nobel prize-winning group ICAN said.

"This is one of the scariest moments really when it comes to nuclear weapons," Beatrice Fihn, who leads the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told AFP in an interview Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Swede, who has spearheaded the group's global efforts to ban the weapons of mass destruction since 2013, said she had never in her lifetime seen the nuclear threat level so high.

"It is incredibly worrying and overwhelming." — AFP

March 8, 2022

The head of the UN's refugee agency says he expects the number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine to top two million in the next two days.

"I do think that we will pass the 2 million mark today or maybe at the latest tomorrow. So it doesn't stop," Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tells reporters in Oslo. — AFP

March 8, 2022

Asian markets mostly fell again Tuesday as investors try to assess the economic impact of the Ukraine war, while oil prices extended gains after rocketing to a near 14-year high.

As Russia's invasion of its neighbour continues, commodity prices have been sent to record or multi-year highs, forcing observers to re-evaluate their outlook for the global recovery with some now warning of a period of soaring inflation and low growth or recession.

Monday's session saw a sea of red across trading floors after the United States said it was considering banning the import of crude from Russia, the world's number three producer, sending the price of Brent to almost $140 for the first time since 2008.

While the black gold eased back slightly it remains elevated and continued to rise again on Tuesday, with Brent holding above $125 and WTI north of $120. -- AFP

March 8, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will not send conscripts or reservists to fight in Ukraine and that "professional" soldiers fulfilling "fixed objectives" were leading the war.

"Conscripted soldiers are not participating and will not participate in the fighting. There will not be an additional conscription of reservists either," Putin says in a televised address marking International Women's Day on March 8.

"The fixed objectives are only carried out by professional servicemen. I am sure they are guaranteeing security and peace for the Russian people in an effective manner," Putin adds. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Russia says it will open humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several Ukrainian cities experiencing heavy fighting, including the capital Kyiv and the besieged port city of Mariupol.

"Russian forces, for humanitarian purposes, are declaring a 'regime of silence' from 10:00 am on 7 March and the opening of humanitarian corridors," the Russian defence ministry says in a statement.

It lists evacuation routes from the capital Kyiv as well as Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy — all of which have been under heavy Russian attacks in recent days. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Australia's prime minister calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine "a moment of choice for China" Monday, urging Beijing to end its tacit political and economic support for the war.

Scott Morrison presses China to shape the actions of its Russian ally and prove that Beijing is committed to global peace and the principle of sovereignty. 

"No country would have a greater impact right now on Russia's violent aggression towards Ukraine than China," Morrison tells the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based foreign policy think tank.

"The crisis that now grips Europe heralds a moment of choice for China," he says. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters experienced in urban combat as it ramps up its assault on Ukraine, according to US officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. 

Moscow, which launched an invasion into its Eastern European neighbor on February 24, has in recent days recruited fighters from Syria hoping they can help take Kyiv, four US officials told the US daily. 

Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The country has been mired in a conflict marked by urban combat for more than a decade.

One official told the Journal that some fighters are already in Russia readying to join the fight in Ukraine, though it was not immediately clear how many combatants have been recruited, and the sources would not provide further detail.

Foreign fighters have already entered the Ukrainian conflict on both sides.

Chechnya strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov — a former rebel-turned-Kremlin-ally — has shared videos of Chechen fighters joining the attack on Ukraine and said some had been killed in the fighting.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has claimed around 20,000 foreign volunteers have traveled to the country to join Kyiv's forces. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Gold rises to more than $2,000 in Asian trade on Monday morning as investors fled to the safe-haven commodity over fears about the impact of the Ukraine war on the global economy.

The precious metal hit a peak of $2,000.86 an ounce, its highest level since September 2020.

Traders have been sent running to safety as Russia continues with its invasion of Ukraine, which has battered equity markets and sent oil prices to a near 14-year high, adding further upward pressure to already high inflation. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Britain is releasing another $100 million to help Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Sunday and promised fresh efforts to rally international opinion against Russia's invasion.

The $100 million, to be provided via the World Bank, is in addition to the £220 million ($290 mln) of overall aid support to Ukraine, said a statement from Downing Street.

The new funding will go towards keeping key state functions operating, it added.

"While only (Russian President Vladimir) Putin can fully end the suffering in Ukraine, today's new funding will continue to help those facing the deteriorating humanitarian situation," said Johnson. — AFP

March 7, 2022

The UN nuclear watchdog expresses "deep concern" over reports that communication from Europe's largest nuclear power plant seized by Russia in Ukraine has been disrupted.

"I'm extremely concerned about these developments that were reported to me today," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi says. 

"In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure," he adds. — AFP

March 6, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened the existence of Ukrainian statehood as his army's invasion of the neighbour faces stiff resistance and his economy is increasingly asphyxiated by sanctions.

In the latest efforts to freeze Moscow out of the world economy, US-based card payment giants Visa and Mastercard announced they will suspend operations in Russia, while world leaders vowed to act over the intensifying onslaught.

"The current (Ukrainian) authorities must understand that if they continue to do what they are doing, they are putting in question the future of Ukrainian statehood," Putin said on Saturday. 

"And if this happens, they will be fully responsible." 

Since Russia's invasion 10 days ago, the economic and humanitarian toll of the war has spiralled, sending more than one million people fleeing Ukraine. Officials have reported hundreds of civilians killed. 

Kyiv has urged the West to boost military assistance to the besieged country, including warplanes, with President Volodymyr Zelensky pleading for Eastern European neighbours to provide Russian-made planes that his citizens are trained to fly. -- AFP

March 6, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he spoke by phone with his US counterpart Joe Biden on Sunday to discuss financial support and sanctions against Russia as his country faces an intensifying onslaught.

"As part of the constant dialogue, I had another conversation with @POTUS," Zelensky tweeted. "The agenda included the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia."

Hours earlier, the Ukrainian leader had addressed US lawmakers by video call, pleading for further assistance to his besieged country and a blacklisting of Russian oil imports.

The American legislators promised an additional $10 billion aid package, but the White House has so far ruled out an oil ban, fearing it would ratchet up prices and hurt US consumers already stung by record inflation.  — AFP

March 5, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, leading his country's battle against the Russian invasion, will address the US Senate on Saturday, a US legislative aide says.

Zelensky will speak to senators via Zoom in the morning Washington time at the request of Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, some US lawmakers are urging President Joe Biden to take a tougher stance against Russia, such as by suspending imports of its oil. — AFP

March 4, 2022

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog offers to travel to Chernobyl in order to negotiate with Ukraine and Russia to try to ensure the security of Ukraine's nuclear sites.

"I have indicated to both the Russian Federation and Ukraine my availability... to travel to Chernobyl as soon as possible," Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency tells reporters. "Both sides are considering" the possibility, he adds. — AFP

March 4, 2022

Emergency services in Ukraine say that they had extinguished a fire at Europe's largest nuclear power plant after Kyiv blamed Russian military shelling for the blaze.

"At 06:20 (04:20 GMT) the fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims," the emergency services say in a statement on Facebook. — AFP

March 4, 2022

Ukraine's Zelensky accuses Russia of wanting to "repeat" Chernobyl.

March 4, 2022

The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said it will suspend business related to Russia and Belarus, which have been hit with massive international sanctions over the Ukraine war.

In a statement issued Thursday, the AIIB said that "in the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review".

The bank added that it was "actively monitoring the situation" in Ukraine and that management would do the "utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB".

The multilateral financial institution, a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, was launched in 2016 to counter the West's dominance of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Russia is among the AIIB's founding members and holds around a six percent vote in its operations. It also has a seat on the bank's board of directors. — AFP

March 3, 2022

The UN's refugee agency announces that one million refugees have fled Ukraine in the week since Russia's invasion.

"In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries," the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweets, while urging "guns to fall silent" in the country. — AFP

March 2, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Russia, which has launched an invasion of his country, of seeking to "erase" Ukrainians, their country and their history.

In a video address, the Ukrainian leader says a missile strike on a target at the site of a Holocaust massacre shows that "for many people in Russia our Kyiv is completely foreign."

The attack on Tuesday night damaged Kyiv's main television mast, which was built at Babi Yar, the site of World War II's biggest slaughter of Kyiv Jews and a place of memorial and pilgrimage. — AFP

March 2, 2022

US oil giant ExxonMobil announced Tuesday that it will begin a phased withdrawal from the major oil field it operates in Russia on behalf of a consortium including Russian, Indian and Japanese companies, citing Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"In response to recent events, we are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture," the group said in a statement, adding that it deplores Moscow's actions in Ukraine and stressing that it will no longer invest in new projects in Russia. — Agence France Presse

 

March 2, 2022

United States President Joe Biden is set to deliver his first State of the Union Address today where he is expected to tout Western unity against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to excerpts released ahead of time by the White House, Biden will say that President Vladimir Putin launched an "unprovoked" war, thinking "the West and NATO wouldn't respond" and that he "could divide us here at home."

"Putin was wrong. We were ready," Biden was to declare. "Dictators" need to "pay a price for their aggression."  — Agence France Presse

March 1, 2022

The UN Refugee Agency says more than 660,000 refugees have fled the conflict in Ukraine to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

"We have now over 660,000 refugees who have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries in the past six days alone," spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo tells reporters in Geneva.

"The numbers are exponentially increasing... At this rate, the situation looks set to become Europe's largest refugee crisis this century." — AFP

March 1, 2022

President Joe Biden and other top US officials play down the threat of Russia's "dangerous" nuclear mobilization as the war in Ukraine intensified with more arms being sent to Kyiv by the West.

Asked if Americans should be worried about nuclear war after President Vladimir Putin said he was putting his strategic forces on alert, Biden gave a calm "no" in response.

State Department spokesman Ned Price says Washington sees "no reason" to change the alert levels of the US nuclear force, and a senior defense official says the Pentagon had not seen any palpable shift by the Russians despite Putin's Sunday announcement. — AFP

February 28, 2022

The Ukrainian military said on Monday that Russian troops had slowed down their offensive as Moscow's assault against Ukraine went into its fifth day.

"The Russian occupiers have reduced the pace of the offensive, but are still trying to develop success in some areas," the general staff of the armed forces said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, sending shockwaves around the world. 

Ukraine forces, backed by Western arms, have managed to slow the advance of the Russian army.

The Ukrainian military also accused Russia of launching a missile strike on residential buildings in the cities of Zhytomyr and Chernigiv, cities in the country's northwest and north.

"At the same time, all attempts by the Russian invaders to achieve the goal of the military operation failed," the military said. — AFP

February 28, 2022

Pro-Russia groups are orchestrating misinformation campaigns on social media, using fake profiles or hacked accounts to paint Ukraine as a feeble pawn of Western duplicity, Meta said Sunday.

The cyber security team at the tech giant — parent of Facebook and Instagram — said it blocked a set of Russia-linked fake accounts that were part of a social media scheme to undermine Ukraine.

"They ran websites posing as independent news entities and created fake personas across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and also Russian Odnoklassniki and VK," Meta said in a blog post.

In some cases, "they used profile pictures that we believe were likely generated using artificial intelligence techniques."

The small network of Facebook and Instagram accounts targeted people in Ukraine, using posts to try to get people to visit websites featuring bogus news about the country's effort to defend itself from the invasion by Russia. — AFP

February 28, 2022

Dressed in the blue and yellow of Ukraine's flag and bearing posters like "No World War 3" and "Russians go home", hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets worldwide Sunday denouncing Russia's invasion of its neighbour.

From Berlin to Baghdad, from Washington to Saint Petersburg, demonstrators chanted "shame" against Russian President Vladimir Putin while others waved banners with slogans like "Putin murderer" or "stop the monster". 

In the German capital, police estimated turnout to be at least 100,000, while Prague drew 70,000 and Amsterdam 15,000. — Agence France Presse

February 27, 2022

Italy said Sunday it would close its airspace to Russia flights, joining other European countries in ramping up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

"Italy is closing its airspace to Russia," a government spokesman said in a brief statement, shortly after other European countries such as Germany, Belgian and Luxembourg announced similar measures. — AFP

February 27, 2022

Russian troops have entered Ukraine's second city Kharkiv and fighting was under way on Sunday, the head of the regional administration said on the fourth day of Moscow's invasion of the pro-Western country.

"The Russian enemy's light vehicles broke into the city of Kharkiv," Oleg Sinegubov said in a Facebook post, urging residents not to leave shelters.

"The Ukrainian armed forces are eliminating the enemy."

While fighting raged in Kharkiv, the city administration in Kyiv, 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the west, said the capital remained completely under the control of Ukrainian forces despite clashes with "sabotage groups".

The Russian defence ministry claimed on Sunday that its troops had besieged the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson and the city of Berdyansk in the southeast.

"Over the past 24 hours, the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk have been completely blocked by the Russian armed forces," defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

He added that Russian troops had also taken control of Genichesk, a port city along the Sea of Azov, and an airfield near Kherson. — AFP

February 27, 2022

Russia has praised India's "independent and balanced" position after Delhi abstained from a UN Security Council vote that deplored Moscow's "aggression" against Ukraine.

India, along with China and the UAE, did not vote on the resolution Friday, a move in line with the fine balance Delhi has sought to strike between partnerships with Moscow and Western allies.

The Russian embassy in India welcomed India's stand on Saturday.

"Highly appreciate India's independent and balanced position at the voting in the UNSC," it said on Twitter.

"In the spirit of the special and privileged strategic partnership, Russia is committed to maintain close dialogue with India on the situation around Ukraine." — AFP

February 27, 2022

Moscow ordered its troops to advance in Ukraine "from all directions" while the West responded late Saturday with sanctions that sought to cripple Russia's banking sector.

Ukrainian officials said 198 civilians, including three children, had been killed since Russia invaded on Thursday, and warned Russian saboteurs were active in Kyiv where explosions forced residents to flee underground.

Moscow said it fired cruise missiles at military targets, continuing the offensive after accusing Ukraine of having "rejected" talks.

But on day three of Russia's invasion, defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his country would never give in to the Kremlin as Washington said the invading force had a "lack of momentum".

Ukraine's army said it held back an assault on the capital — but was fighting Russian "sabotage groups" that had infiltrated the city.

"We will fight until we have liberated our country," Zelensky said in a video message.

He earlier said Ukraine had "derailed" Moscow's plan to overthrow him and urged Russians to pressure President Vladimir Putin into stopping the conflict. — AFP

February 27, 2022

Germany has approved the deliveries of 400 anti-tank rocket launchers to Ukraine, a government source said Saturday, in a U-turn from its longstanding policy of banning weapon exports to conflict zones.

"Given the Russian attack on Ukraine, the government is prepared to release urgently needed material for the defence of Ukraine," the source says in a statement.

The anti-tank launchers will be delivered through the Netherlands, which had purchased the equipment from Germany but which had required Berlin's green light to transfer the weapons to Kyiv. — AFP

February 27, 2022

The Russian army has been given orders to broaden its offensive in Ukraine "from all directions" after Kyiv refused to hold talks in Belarus, the defence ministry says. 

Russian forces have made thrusts into the Ukrainian capital Kyiv before falling back to the outskirts, facing tough resistance  on day three of the invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

"After the Ukrainian side rejected the negotiation process, today all units were given orders to develop the advance from all directions in accordance with the operation's plans," Russian army spokesman Igor Konashenkov says in a statement. — AFP

February 26, 2022

Ukraine's health minister says that 198 civilians, including three children, have been killed so far by Russian forces attacking the pro-Western country. 

"Unfortunately, according to operative data, at the hands of the invaders we have 198 dead, including 3 children, 1,115 wounded, including 33 children," Health Minister Viktor Lyashko writes on Facebook. — AFP

February 26, 2022

After night assault, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky vows to defend Kyiv. — AFP

February 26, 2022

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on soldiers in Russia's war on Ukraine to "return to their barracks".

"We must never give up. We must give peace another chance," he tells reporters after Moscow vetoed a UN resolution condemning its "aggression" in Ukraine. — AFP

February 25, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow was ready for talks with Kyiv if the Ukrainian army surrendered, as Russian invading forces advanced on the capital.

"We are ready for negotiations at any moment, as soon as the armed forces of Ukraine respond to our call and lay down their arms," Lavrov says at a press conference in Moscow. — AFP

February 25, 2022

Russian "sabotage groups" have entered Kyiv, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky warns.

In a video address to the nation after midnight, a sombre-looking Zelensky says "the enemy's sabotage groups have entered Kyiv" and urges residents to be vigilant and observe curfew rules. — AFP

February 25, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country was "left alone" to fight Russia after the Kremlin launched a large-scale invasion. 

"We have been left alone to defend our state," Zelensky says in a video address. "Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don't see anyone." —  AFP

February 24, 2022

South Korea will join international economic sanctions against Russia over its "armed invasion" of Ukraine, President Moon Jae-in says. 

The sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine must be guaranteed," Moon says, in a statement issued by Seoul's presidential Blue House.

South Korea will "support and participate in the efforts of the international community, including economic sanctions", he adds, calling Moscow's military attack on Ukraine an "armed invasion".  — AFP

February 24, 2022

Russia's defence ministry says it had neutralized Ukrainian military airbases and its air defense systems, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military offensive against his country's neighbour.

"Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army air bases has been rendered out of action," the defence ministry says in a statement carried by news agencies, which added that Kyiv's air defence systems were "eliminated". — AFP

February 24, 2022

Germany says the EU, NATO and the G7 would work to hit Russia with severe sanctions after the Kremlin launched an air and ground assault on Ukraine.

"We will launch the full package with the most massive sanctions against Russia and we will strengthen our security and our allies," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says.

"We have not chosen this situation," she adds, but "if we don't stand up to it now, we will pay an even higher price". -- AFP

February 24, 2022

Russia's ground forces on Thursday crossed into Ukraine from several directions, Ukraine's border guard service says, hours after President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a major offensive. 

Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed the frontier in several northern regions, as well as from the Kremlin-annexed peninsula of Crimea in the south, the agency says.

It says one of its servicemen died in a shelling attack along the Crimean border, the first officially confirmed military death of the Russian invasion. — AFP

February 24, 2022

The Ukrainian military claims on Thursday to have downed five Russian planes and a helicopter in the east of the country near a rebel-held enclave.

"According to the Joint Forces Command, today, February 24, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down," the army general staff says. — AFP

February 24, 2022

US President Joe Biden says the "world will hold Russia accountable" over its attack on Ukraine that he warned will cause "catastrophic loss of life."

In a statement issued shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of military operations in Ukraine, Biden said he would address the US public on Thursday to outline the "consequences" for Russia, calling the attack "unprovoked and unjustified." — AFP

February 24, 2022

The United Nations Security Council will convene for its second emergency session in three days over the Ukraine-Russia crisis, "due to military developments" on the ground, diplomatic sources say.

The meeting, which was requested by Kyiv earlier Wednesday and backed by Western Security Council members, is scheduled for 9:30 pm (0230 GMT Thursday), the sources say. — AFP

February 24, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenksy says that Russia had massed nearly 200,000 troops on Ukraine's borders as a conflict between the two neighbors appeared increasingly likely.

On the Ukrainian border "nearly 200,000 soldiers are stationed, (as are) thousands of combat vehicles," Zelensky says in an address to the nation. — AFP

February 23, 2022

Japan says it will impose sanctions on Russia and individuals linked to Ukrainian regions controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists, after Moscow ordered troops into the rebel "republics".

The decision follows similar measures by the United States, Britain and the European Union.

Japan strongly condemns Russia's actions "that infringe on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, violating international law", Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tells reporters.

"From the viewpoint of responding to the issue in cooperation with the international community, Japan decided to impose sanctions." — AFP

February 23, 2022

Australia announces sanctions on eight of President Vladimir Putin's top security advisors on Wednesday following Russia's "unwarranted, unprovoked, unacceptable" invasion of Ukraine.

Pillorying Putin's decision to order troops into breakaway Kremlin-backed statelets in Ukraine's east, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces a suite of sanctions that closely echoed moves from other US allies.

Eight members of Russia's security council will face sanctions, including travel bans, and Australia will move to target military-linked Russian banks.

"They are behaving like thugs and bullies," Morrison says, predicting a full-scale invasion was likely "in the next 24 hours." — AFP

February 23, 2022

UN chief Antonio Guterres urges Russia to fully comply with the global body's charter, condemning Moscow's recognition of the "independence" of two breakaway Ukrainian regions.

"The principles of the UN Charter are not an a la carte menu.... Member States have accepted them all and they must apply them all," Guterres tells reporters.

The secretary-general calls Russia's recognition of "the so-called 'independence'" of two eastern Ukraine regions "a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

"It is a death blow to the Minsk Agreements endorsed by the Security Council," the UN chief adds, referring to a 2014 deal seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. — AFP

February 22, 2022

Ukraine demands severe sanctions against Russia on Tuesday as Western diplomats debate whether Moscow's decision to deploy troops to rebel-held eastern Ukraine is enough to trigger massive economic punishment.

In a statement issued during a visit to Washington, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he is working with Kyiv's Western friends "to impose tough sanctions against the Russian Federation." — AFP

February 22, 2022

Russian envoy to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya says Moscow remains "open to diplomacy" but stresses the need to defend separatist areas from what he dubbed Ukrainian aggession.

"We remain open to diplomacy for a diplomatic solution," he says during an emergency UN Security Council meeting. "However, allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbass is something we do not intend to do."

The emergency session followed Vladimir Putin's order for Russian troops to deploy to the breakaway regions, a move roundly decried during the meeting by the United States and allies. — AFP

February 22, 2022

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky demands "clear support" from the West after Russia recognised two eastern separatist regions and then ordered in troops to back up their independence claims.

In an address delivered after urgent consultations with world leaders, Zelensky says Ukraine is "not afraid of anything or anyone", calling the Kremlin's step "a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the former Soviet state. — AFP

February 22, 2022

Ukraine requests an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to address the threat of a Russian invasion, citing security assurances it received in return for giving up its nuclear arsenal in 1994.

"On President (Volodymyr) Zelensky's initiative I officially requested UNSC member states to immediately hold consultations under article 6 of the Budapest memorandum," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweets.

The Security Council must address "practical steps to guarantee the security of Ukraine," he writes. — AFP

February 21, 2022

The Kremlin says it is too early to organise a summit between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, after Paris announced the possibility of a meeting to calm tensions over Ukraine.

"It's premature to talk about any specific plans for organising any kind of summits," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters, adding that no "concrete plans" had been put in place for a meeting. — AFP

February 21, 2022

US President Joe Biden has agreed in principle to a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin so long as Moscow does not invade Ukraine, the White House confirms Sunday after it was first announced by France.

The US is "committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins," press secretary Jen Psaki says in a statement. "President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin ... if an invasion hasn't happened."

"We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon," she adds. — AFP

February 21, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed to work for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Macron's office says.

In a phone conversation lasting 105 minutes, they also agreed on "the need to favour a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis and to do everything to achieve one", the Elysee says, adding that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would meet "in the coming days".

Russian agencies later reported out of Moscow that both ministers would speak on Monday. — AFP

February 20, 2022

Western allies can't keep offering an olive branch while Russia continues to dial up tensions along the Ukrainian border, European Council President Charles Michel says Sunday.

"The big question remains: does the Kremlin want dialogue?" Michel asked at the Munich Security Conference. "We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops," he adds. — AFP

February 20, 2022

Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine "at any time," the White House reaffirmed Saturday, as Western politicians gathered in Munich to discuss the crisis.

US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was due to hold a rare Sunday National Security Council meeting over Russia-Ukraine tensions, having said on Friday he was "convinced" Moscow planned to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor within days.

Psaki said Biden was briefed on meetings at the Munich Security Conference, where Western representatives, including Vice President Kamala Harris, gathered to discuss the mounting tensions. — AFP

February 20, 2022

The EU is seeing stepped-up "manipulation" of information to support what looks like fabricated pretexts for military escalation in Ukraine, its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warns on Saturday.

"The EU is extremely concerned that staged events... could be used as a pretext for possible military escalation," Borrell says in a statement on behalf of the bloc.

"The EU is also witnessing an intensification of information manipulation efforts to support such objectives," he says. — AFP

February 19, 2022

A US defense official says more than 40% of the Russian forces on the Ukraine border are now in position for attack and Moscow has begun a campaign of destabilization/

The United States, which estimates that Russia has placed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine's borders, has observed significant movements since Wednesday, the official said, insisting on anonymity.

"Forty to fifty percent are in an attack position. They have uncoiled in tactical assembly in the last 48 hours," the official tells reporters. — AFP

February 19, 2022

President Joe Biden says he is "convinced" that Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine within the week, an event that would trigger Western sanctions set to turn Russia into what a US official called a "pariah."

"As of this moment I'm convinced he's made the decision," Biden says in televised remarks at the White House.

Biden says the attack could come in the next "week" or "days" and that targets would include the capital Kyiv, "a city of 2.8 million innocent people." — AFP

February 18, 2022

Russia is putting Europe's security at risk with demands that hark back to the Cold War, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says Friday, ahead of the annual Munich Security Conference set to be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.

"With an unprecedented deployment of troops on the border with Ukraine and Cold War demands, Russia is challenging fundamental principles of the European peace order," Baerbock says in a statement, urging Moscow to show "serious steps towards de-escalation". — AFP

February 17, 2022

A senior White House official says Russia has increased its presence on the border with Ukraine "by as many as 7,000 troops," some of whom arrived as recently as Wednesday, calling Moscow's announcement of a troop withdrawal "false."

The official also reiterates that Russia could launch a "false" pretext to invade Ukraine "at any moment," adding that while Russia has said it wants to reach a diplomatic solution, its actions indicate otherwise. — AFP

February 16, 2022

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin says Filipinos in Ukraine will come to no harm.

"I will be on top of it personally," Locsin says in a tweet.

The country's top diplomat says he will make calls to effect Filipinos' safe passage out of the Eastern European country. 

February 16, 2022

Any recognition by Russia of two eastern Ukrainian separatist regions would represent the equivalent of an attack on the country's sovereignty only without weapons, France says on Tuesday.

"It would be an impossible situation, representing an attack without weapons and dismantling of the unity and integrity of Ukraine," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after the Russian parliament asked President Vladimir Putin to recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. "It would be an attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine," he tells the French parliament. — AFP

February 15, 2022

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later Tuesday, local media reported, as Tokyo expressed "grave concerns" about the risk of a Russian invasion.

Kishida said Tuesday that Japan was "watching the situation with grave concern."

"We'll continue to monitor the situation with high vigilance, while coordinating closely with G7 countries to deal with any developments appropriately," he said at a meeting between government ministers and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. — AFP

February 14, 2022

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky invites US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv to show Washington's support in the face of a feared Russian invasion.

"I am convinced that your visit to Kyiv in the coming days... would be a powerful signal and help stabilise the situation," the presidency quotes Zelensky as telling Biden in a phone call earlier Sunday.

Washington made no mention of an invitation in its readout of the 50-minute call. — AFP

February 13, 2022

A call Saturday between US President Joe Biden and his Kremlin counterpart Vladimir Putin brought no major change in the standoff over Russian troops massing near Ukraine, a senior US official says.

The call was "professional and substantive and lasted a bit over an hour. There was no fundamental change in the dynamics unfolding now for several weeks," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells reporters. — AFP

February 8, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron says that he had managed to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin not to "escalate" the crisis around Ukraine, as the West warns Moscow could be planning an invasion.  

"I obtained that there will be no degradation nor escalation," Macron tells journalists as he arrived in Kyiv for talks with Ukraine's leader. — AFP

February 8, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron tells his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday that he hoped talks in Moscow could lead to an easing of tensions over Ukraine.

"This discussion can make a start in the direction in which we need to go, which is towards a de-escalation," Macron says at the start of the meeting in Moscow. 

He adds that he hopes to "avoid a war" and "build elements of confidence, stability and visibility for everyone". — AFP

February 7, 2022

France's President Emmanuel Macron discussed the Ukraine crisis with US counterpart Joe Biden on Sunday ahead of a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, both leaders' offices said.

The two leaders "discussed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia's continued military build-up on Ukraine's borders, and affirmed their support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said in a statement.

The 40-minute phone call was part of coordination efforts, the French presidency said, before Macron travels to Moscow on Monday and on to Kyiv on Tuesday, where he is due to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

February 6, 2022

Russia has stepped up preparations for an all-out invasion of Ukraine but it is not clear if Moscow has decided to take such a step, US officials have said citing intelligence assessments.

Russia has assembled 110,000 troops along the border with its pro-Western neighbor but US intelligence has not determined if President Vladimir Putin has actually decided to invade, according to the officials who in recent days briefed members of Congress and European allies.

The officials warned lawmakers that the assembled Russian force on the frontier is growing at a rate that would give Putin the force he needs for a full-scale invasion -- some 150,000 soldiers — by mid-February. — AFP

February 6, 2022

A Ukrainian flag wrapped around her shoulders, pensioner Iryna Gayeva had a simple message as she demonstrated in second city Kharkiv on Saturday, just 40 kilometres from the Russian border. 

"We do not want Russia," she told AFP, as she joined several thousand people for a "Unity March" called by nationalist groups. 

"I was born in Crimea. That's enough, they've already taken a homeland from me. I grew up here, I live here, my parents are from Russia but I don't want to see any occupiers," she said.

"This is my home, these are my rules." — AFP

February 3, 2022

Moscow denounces as "destructive" the deployment of several thousand US troops to eastern Europe amid ongoing fears that Russia might invade Ukraine.

"Not substantiated by anyone, destructive steps which increase military tension and reduce scope for political decisions," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko tells the Interfax news agency. — AFP

February 2, 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns on a trip to Kyiv on Tuesday that Russian forces massed on the border represented a "clear and present danger" to Ukraine.

"We see large numbers of troops massing, we see preparations for all kinds of operations that are consistent with an imminent military campaign," Johnson says at a press conference with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

"Our view is that time is urgent and this is something that needs to be addressed now." — AFP

President Vladimir Putin says he hopes that Moscow and the West could find a solution to the raging security crisis over Ukraine, but also accused Washington of using Kyiv as a "tool" against Russia.

"I hope that in the end we will find a solution, although it will not be simple," Putin says, indicating he was ready for more talks with the West, which has accused Moscow of massing more than 100,000 troops on the border and plotting to invade Ukraine.

"It seems to me that the United States is not so much concerned about the security of Ukraine... but its main task is to contain Russia's development," Putin says. — AFP

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