LIVE Russia-Ukraine crisis: Artillery rounds heard in Kyiv


Russian forces have lost about 2,800 servicemen and 80 tanks during their assault

By Team KT

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Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 10:29 AM

Last updated: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 10:21 AM

Russian forces on Thursday fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities and landed troops on its south coast after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east. Explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. Gunfire rattled near the capital’s main airport. The action prompted suspension of flights and roiled global markets. Oil, gold and silver prices have surged.

Follow the latest updates here:

2.01am: Canada imposes sanctions on Putin

Canada is imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

Canada will also levy additional sanctions on Belarus and its leaders for “abetting” Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Trudeau said at a news conference.

1.24am: Russia accuses Ukraine of going silent on talks possibility

The Kremlin said on Friday it had offered to hold talks with Ukraine in the Belarusian capital Minsk after Ukraine said it was willing to discuss declaring itself a neutral country, but said Ukraine had instead proposed Warsaw as a venue.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Ukrainians had then taken what he described as a quite a long time-out and that there was now a “pause” in contacts.

During that pause, he said Ukrainian nationalists had deployed missile systems in residential areas in big cities. He did not provide evidence to back the assertion, but said it was a very dangerous development.

11.32pm: Serbia rejects Western calls to join sanctions on Russia

Serbia rejected calls Friday from the European Union and the U.S. to join sanctions against Russia, citing its national interests, although its autocratic president did say that Moscow’s assault on Ukraine is against international law.

With the move, Serbia remained a rare European state — like Russian ally Belarus — not to join a call for Western sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of a sovereign European state.

“Serbia respects the norms of international law,” President Aleksandar Vucic said. “But Serbia also understands its own interests.”

Vucic said that Serbia regards the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity as “very wrong,” but added it won’t join in the sanctions.

11.44pm: Russia attacks are more brutal, Ukraine gathering war crimes evidence

The Russian assault on Ukraine was more brutal on Friday but Moscow’s forces did not advance as planned and Ukrainian officials are gathering evidence for possible war crimes prosecution, Ukrainian Ambassador to Washington Oksana Markarova said.

At a news conference in Washington, Markarova also said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held a “very productive” phone call with President Joe Biden on Friday.

11.37pm: Blinken condemns reports of mounting civilian deaths in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Friday with his Ukrainian counterpart and condemned reports of mounting civilian deaths, including those of Ukrainian children, due to attacks around Kyiv, a State Department spokesperson said.

“The Secretary expressed his outrage at the Kremlin’s brutal tactics and underscored continued U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” spokesperson Ned Price said.

“The Secretary also emphasized to (Ukraine) Foreign Minister Kuleba that the United States would continue to provide support to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russian aggression,” Price added.

11.25pm: Russian troops hit orphanage

No injuries reported among 50 children.

11.05pm: Artillery rounds heard in Ukraine’s capital

Artillery rounds were heard in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv on Friday evening, a Reuters witness said.

Another witness said that there was intense gunfire in western part of Kyiv.

10.59pm: WHO ‘deeply worried’ about civilians in Ukraine

The World Health Organization is “deeply worried” about the fate of civilians in Ukraine following the invasion by Russian troops, the UN agency’s European head told AFP on Friday.

“I am deeply worried about the safety, health, and well-being of civilians in Ukraine. I am also concerned that the significant progress made in strengthening the health system in Ukraine in recent years could be derailed,” said Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director.

“The immediate health risks relate to casualties, as we receive reports of fighting and shelling from across the country. Hospitals will urgently need emergency supplies, including medicines, along with trauma and surgery kits,” Kluge added.

At present, the WHO is packing life-saving surgical kits in Dubai for transport into Ukraine, potentially through Poland.

10.50pm: Images show new deployments of forces, 150 helicopters in southern Belarus

Satellite imagery taken on Friday showed several large deployments of ground forces and about 150 transport helicopters in southern Belarus, about 20 miles from the border with Ukraine, a private U.S. company said.

The images showed one large helicopter deployment near the Belarusian town of Chojniki, which had over 90 helicopters parked on a road with the deployment extending for more than five miles. Images also showed a large deployment of ground forces with several hundred vehicles in convoy position in several fields.

The images released by Maxar Technologies, which has been tracking the buildup of Russian forces for weeks, could not be independently verified by Reuters.

10.06pm: Ukraine warns gas transit pipelines could be Russian targets

Ukraine’s interior ministry said on Friday Russian troops could target natural gas transit pipelines from Russia to Europe.

The ministry called on Ukrainians to watch out for any people with Russian accents who suddenly arrived in their region. It said several saboteur groups has been discovered in Kyiv and warned that more were appearing in other cities.

10.04pm: Ukrainian forces inflicting ‘damage’ on Russian attackers: NATO chief

Ukrainian forces are putting up resistance and inflicting damage on Russia’s invading military as it seeks to push deeper into the country, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.

“It is still a fluid situation. What we have seen is that the Ukrainian forces are fighting bravely and are actually able to inflict damage on the invading Russian forces,” Stoltenberg said after a video summit of NATO leaders.

9.50pm: Russia-Ukraine conflict spills into UN environmental summit

Ukraine has asked the United Nations to cease talks on a proposal by Russia at a high-level environmental summit in Kenya, citing Russia’s invasion of its country, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Some delegates told Reuters the move threatened to cast a pall over the talks in Nairobi, where nations are discussing issues including a treaty to tackle plastic waste billed as the most important environmental pact since the Paris Agreement.

The proposal by Russia, which involved the regional make-up of United Nations environmental body UNEP, was one of several resolutions due to be presented for adoption at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) next week.

9.46pm: ‘We are all here,’ Ukraine’s Zelensky says in video

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released a self-shot video from central Kyiv on Friday vowing alongside key aides to stay and defend the capital against the Russian invasion of his country.

“We’re all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We’re all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way,” Zelensky said standing outside the presidency building.

9.40pm: Ukraine says its military is being targeted by Belarusian hackers

Ukrainian cybersecurity officials say hackers from neighbouring Belarus are targeting the private email addresses of Ukrainian military personnel “and related individuals”.

In an announcement posted to Facebook, Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said the hackers were using password-stealing emails to break into Ukrainian soldiers’ email accounts and using the compromised address books to send further malicious messages.

The CERT blamed a group code-named “UNC1151” for the hacking, identifying its members as Minsk-based officers of the Belarusian military.

9:32pm: Ukraine has control of attacked territory

Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on February 25, 2022. Photo: AFP
Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on February 25, 2022. Photo: AFP

Ukraine’s presidential adviser said on Friday the country had kept control of territory attacked by Russian forces.

The most severe situation was in the cities of Kharkiv, Sumy and Yug, he added.

Ukraine Prime minister Denys Shmygal said the government was preparing a state loan for up to 400 billion Ukrainian hryvnia ($13.47 billion), issued gradually as military bonds.

9.21pm: Russian forces cut off two cities in northeastern Ukraine

Russian forces have cut off two cities - Sumy and Konotop - in northeastern Ukraine, Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Friday.

The forces have taken out 211 Ukrainian military targets, Interfax reported, citing the ministry.

9.12pm: NATO making more deployments in east after Russian invasion

NATO leaders said on Friday they were deploying more troops to eastern Europe after Russia invaded Ukraine, saying that Moscow had lied about its intentions.

“No one should be fooled by the Russian government’s barrage of lies,” the 30 leaders said in a joint statement after a virtual summit chaired by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

“We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the alliance,” the statement said, without giving more details.

9.05pm: Ukraine says two commercial ships hit by Russian missiles near Odessa port

Ukraine said Russian warships shelled a Moldovan-flagged chemical tanker and a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship due to load grain near Odessa port in the Black Sea on Friday, one day after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

A total of three non-military vessels have now been hit since the start of the invasion. On Thursday, the Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter cargo ship was struck off Odessa.

Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said that the Moldovan-flagged vessel, the Millennial Spirit, was carrying 600 tonnes of diesel at the time of the attack from a Russian military ship.

9.03pm: Ukraine presidential advisor says President Zelensky is in Kyiv

8.53pm: Russia says threats of sanctions from London will lead to escalation

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday that threats of sanctions coming from London will not deter Russia, but will only lead to a new escalation, the RIA news agency quoted it as saying.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled Britain’s largest-ever package of sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting banks, members of President Vladimir Putin’s closest circle and wealthy Russians.

8.40pm: Russia banned from Eurovision song contest amid Ukraine crisis

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said on Friday that no Russian act will participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest as this would “bring the competition into disrepute”.

Finland said earlier on Friday it would not send contestants to the Eurovision 2022 final if Russia was allowed to participate, while other European public broadcasters, including Ukraine’s, called for Russia to be expelled from the song contest.

8.37pm: Russia announces ‘partial restriction’ of access to Facebook over platform’s ban of Kremlin-backed media

8.28pm: More than 50,000 Ukrainians flee country in 48 hours: UN

8.02pm: Putin calls on Ukraine army to remove leadership in Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on the Ukrainian army to overthrow the government whose leaders he described as “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.

Putin also accused “Ukrainian nationalists” of deploying heavy weapons in residential areas of major cities to provoke the Russian military, a claim that could fuel fears Moscow is creating pretexts for justifying civilian casualties.

In a televised address, he urged the Ukrainian military to “take power in your own hands”.

7.50pm: Council of Europe suspends Russia over Ukraine invasion

Russia has been suspended from the Council of Europe following its invasion of Ukraine, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday.

The Council of Europe was formed after World War Two to protect human rights and the rule of law across the continent. It is separate from the European Union.

“The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which Italy holds the presidency, has taken the decision to exclude the Russian Federation from its membership,” Di Maio said in a statement.

“Italy considers this to be a necessary measure in light of Russia’s unacceptable military aggression against Ukraine, which constitutes a serious violation of international law,” he added.

7.47pm: UK says Russian forces opened new route of advance towards Kyiv

Britain said on Friday that Russian armoured forces had opened a new route of advance towards Kyiv, and that the bulk of troops remained more than 50km from the centre of the city.

"Russian armoured forces have opened a new route of advance towards Kyiv having failed to capture Chernihiv," The Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update. "The bulk of Russian forces advancing on Kyiv remain more than 50km from the centre of the city."

7.33pm: Council of Europe considers suspending Russia as a member - Polish PM

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is considering whether to suspend Russia as a member, and a decision is due soon, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, a day after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

The Council of Europe is an organisation formed after the Second World War to protect human rights and the rule of law. The Council of Europe is separate from the European Union.

“The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, on the initiative of Ukraine and Poland, launched the procedure for suspending Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe. Final decision coming soon,” Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

7.26pm: Ukraine’s city of Lviv introduces curfew

Ukraine’s western city of Lviv has introduced a curfew, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported on Friday citing a city official.

“The curfew is introduced from 22:00 to 06:00. We will provide passes to residents of the region employed in critical infrastructure,” Interfax quoted the head of local military administration Maxim Kozitsky as saying.

7.11pm: Putin calls on Ukrainian military to seize power to better negotiate with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the Ukrainian military to seize power in their country on Friday, a day after Moscow launched an invasion of its southern neighbour.

“I once again appeal to the military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and (Ukrainian radical nationalists) to use your children, wives and elders as human shields,” Putin said at a televised meeting with Russia’s security council.

“Take power into your own hands, it will be easier for us to reach agreement.”

Putin added that Russian servicemen in Ukraine were acting “bravely, professionally and heroically.”

7.06pm: Czechs ban Russian carriers from flights to Czech Republic

The Czech Republic will ban flights to the country operated by Russian airlines from Saturday, Transport Minister Martin Kupka said on Friday.

The country is coordinating its steps on air traffic with Poland and the ban will stop flights by Russian carriers between Prague and Moscow and Prague and St. Petersburg, Kupka said.

6.53pm: Ukrainian minister says Russia has lost about 2,800 servicemen in attacks

Russian forces have lost about 2,800 servicemen and 80 tanks during their assault on Ukraine, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said on Friday.

She added on her Facebook page that the Russian troops also lost about 516 armoured combat vehicles, 10 aircraft and seven helicopters as of 1500 local time (13 GMT).

6:47pm: EU will accept all people fleeing the violence in Ukraine, Germany says

The European Union will accept all people fleeing the violence caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday.

Baerbock added she had already started to coordinate the distribution of Ukrainian refugees with countries such as Poland and Canada.

6.15pm: EU agrees to freeze Putin, Lavrov assets over Ukraine

The EU has agreed to freeze European assets linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over their decision to invade Ukraine, EU officials told AFP on Friday.

The measures were added Friday after being raised in overnight discussions by EU leaders on a new sanctions package that EU foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc were to validate.

Germany and Italy were hesitant to apply the measure, but most EU countries were in favour of it, two officials said on condition of anonymity.

The asset freeze on Putin and Lavrov was first reported by the Financial Times based on three sources who said neither of the Russians would be subject to an EU travel ban in order to keep diplomatic channels open.

5.52pm: Ukrainian military vehicles enter Kyiv as Russian assault looms

Ukrainian military vehicles are entering the country’s capital Kyiv to defend it against approaching Russian troops, Ukraine’s interior ministry said on Friday.

Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said earlier the city had “entered into a defensive phase”.

5.17pm: Russia claims it controls airport near Kyiv

The Russian military claims it has taken control of an airport just outside Kyiv, as Kremlin forces bear down on the Ukrainian capital.

The claim could not be independently verified.

Taking possession of the airport in Hostomel, which has a long runway allowing the landing of heavy-lift transport planes, would mean Russia can airlift troops directly to Kyiv’s outskirts. Hostomel is just 7 kilometers (4 miles) northwest of the city.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday that the Russian airborne forces used 200 helicopters to land in Hostomel and killed over 200 troops belonging to Ukraine’s special forces.

Konashenkov claimed that Russian troops suffered no casualties. That contradicts Ukrainian claims that Russian troops sustained heavy casualties in the fighting there.

5.07pm: Russia ready to send delegation to Minsk for talks with Ukraine

Russia is ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital Minsk for talks with Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday, a day after Moscow launched a massive invasion of its southern neighbour.

Peskov told Russian news agencies Russia was willing to send a delegation including foreign and defence ministry officials.

Ukraine has said it is willing to discuss declaring itself a neutral county. Peskov said demilitarisation would need to be an essential part of that.

4.49pm: Departing from protocol, pope goes to Russian embassy over Ukraine

ope Francis went to the Russian embassy to the Holy See on Friday to relay his concern over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Moscow’s ambassador, in an unprecedented departure from diplomatic protocol.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope spent about 30 minutes at the embassy, which is close to the Vatican.

“He went to express his concern over the war,” Bruni told Reuters. Bruni would not comment on a report that the pope, 85, had offered the Vatican’s mediation.

It was believed to be the first time a pope has gone to an embassy to talk to an ambassador in a time of conflict.

4.37pm: Kyiv residents told to make Molotov cocktails as they await Russian assault

People in Kyiv were told to make Molotov cocktail petrol bombs on Friday as they hid in makeshift shelters and basements, awaiting a Russian assault on the Ukrainian capital.

Missiles pounded Kyiv overnight and air raid sirens wailed, increasing fears among residents who did not flee the city of 3 million on Thursday that an assault was imminent.

“Make Molotov cocktails, neutralise the occupier!,” the Defence Ministry said, while local authorities told people in the northwestern Obolon area of the city to stay off the streets because “active hostilities” were approaching.

4.14pm: NATO leaders meet to reassure allies near Russia, Ukraine

US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts will seek Friday to reassure member countries on the alliance’s eastern flank that their security is guaranteed as Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine closes in on the capital Kyiv.

With Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealing for help, NATO members ranging from Russia’s neighbor Estonia in the north down around the west of conflict-hit Ukraine to Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast triggered urgent consultations about their security. Only Hungary refrained.

The leaders, meeting via videoconference, plan to take stock of NATO’s own military buildup. The world’s biggest security organization previously had around 5,000 troops stationed in the Baltic countries - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - and Poland, but has significantly beefed up its defenses over the last three months.

3.55pm: Zelensky calls on Europeans with ‘combat experience’ to fight for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday called on Europeans with “combat experience” to take up arms and defend Ukraine against invading Russian forces, adding the West was too slow to help his country.

His dramatic call for help came as Russian forces were approaching the Ukrainian capital, with some units reportedly reaching the city’s northern suburbs.

“If you have combat experience in Europe and do not want to look at the indecision of politicians, you can come to our country and join us in defending Europe, where it is very necessary now,” Zelensky, who appeared tired, said in a video.

3.40pm: Fierce street battle as first Russian troops hit Kyiv

An advance party of Russia’s invasion force left a trail of damage in its wake as clashes erupted inside Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for the first time, amid rising fears the city is about to be stormed or come under siege.

Pedestrians ran for safety as small arms fire and explosions erupted in the Obolonsky district in the city’s north.

The larger blasts could be heard in the city centre, where residents endured a first tense night under curfew and the sounds of bombing.

The Ukrainian military claims to have repulsed the attack on the airbase, but Russian ground forces have also been pushing down the west bank of the Dnieper river from Belarus.

3.18pm: Kremlin says will retaliate against Western sanctions

The Kremlin said Friday that Russia will retaliate against new sanctions, as the West hit Moscow with a wave of economic punishments over its invasion of Ukraine.

“It goes without saying that retaliatory measures will follow,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“Just how symmetrical or asymmetrical they will be depends on the analysis, the restrictions have yet to be analysed,” he added.

3.11pm: Kremlin notes Kyiv’s willingness to talk, won’t comment on possible contacts

The Kremlin on Friday noted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s willingness to discuss a possible neutrality pledge by Ukraine, but said it could not say anything about possible talks between the two countries’ leaders.

“This is a new statement. We have taken note of it. It looks like a positive development,” he said, referring to comments made by Zelenskiy in the early hours of Thursday.

Peskov said he could not comment on whether talks would take place between Putin and Zelenskiy.

Saying that Moscow would analyse Zelenskiy’s offer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that Moscow’s expectations of Kyiv remained unchanged. Moscow has long demanded guarantees that Ukraine would never join NATO or allow the bloc to deploy troops and weapons on its territory.

2.49pm: Russia says will only talk to Ukraine once military lays down arms

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow would be ready to hold talks with Kyiv, but only once Ukraine’s military had laid down its arms.

He also said that Moscow did not want “neo-Nazis” to govern Ukraine. Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by President Vladimir Putin, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

2.34pm: Mayor of Kharkiv urges residents to seek shelter

The mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv urged residents to head to subway stations, bomb shelters and basements.

Loud blasts were heard in the city earlier, a witness told Reuters, as missile strikes and air raid alerts were reported in a number of cities in Ukraine.

2.29pm: Kyiv residents clear away rubble and await Russian assault

The people of Kyiv waited anxiously for an expected Russian assault on the Ukrainian capital on Friday after a night spent cowering in makeshift air raid shelters or their homes.

Missiles pounded Kyiv overnight and air raid sirens wailed, increasing fears among residents who did not flee the city of 3 million on Thursday that an assault was imminent. At times, explosions and gunfire could be heard.

2.22pm: Kyiv tells residents 'active hostilities' approaching

Kyiv authorities told residents of the north-western Obolon area on Friday to stay off the streets given “active hostilities” were approaching.

“In connection with the approach of active hostilities, residents of Obolon district are asked not to go outside,” city council said in an alert.

2.13pm: Ukraine ready for talks with Russia on neutral status


Ukraine wants peace and is ready for talks with Russia, including on neutral status regarding Nato, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters on Friday.

“If talks are possible, they should be held. If in Moscow they say they want to hold talks, including on neutral status, we are not afraid of this,” he said via a text message. “We can talk about that as well.”

“Our readiness for dialogue is part of our persistent pursuit of peace.”

The Kremlin on Friday noted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s willingness to discuss a possible neutrality pledge by Ukraine, but said it could not say anything about possible talks between the two countries’ leaders.

2.10pm: Russia to widen trade, economic ties with Asia

Russia’s economy ministry on Friday said it was working on measures to minimise the effect of Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and would be stepping up trade and economic ties with Asian countries.

“We understand that the sanctions pressure we have faced since 2014 will now intensify,” the ministry said. “The rhetoric of some of our foreign colleagues was such that we have been ready for potential new sanctions for a long time.”

1.32pm: Russia says seven buildings damaged by shelling from Ukraine

The governor of Russia’s southern Belgorod province said on Friday that seven residential buildings in the region had been damaged by shelling from Ukraine, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

1.20pm: Gunfire reported near government district in Kyiv

Gunfire was heard near the government district in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, Russia’s RIA news agency cited Associated Press as reporting.

A Ukrainian government adviser said on Friday he expected Russia to try to break into Kyiv during the day. City residents were urged to proceed to shelters due to an air raid alarm.

12.57pm: Increased radiation levels reported from Chernobyl

Ukraine’s nuclear agency said on Friday it was recording increased radiation levels from the site of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Presidential advisers meanwhile said President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was still in the capital Kyiv.

“The base scenario of Russia’s special operation is clear. The sole goal - to take Kyiv and kill Ukraine’s authorities, President Zelenskiy personally,” said an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak.

12.36pm: 3 injured after rocket hits apartment in Kyiv

Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko said at least three people were injured when a rocket hit a multi-story apartment building in Ukraine’s capital on Friday, starting a fire.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the Russian military’s claim it is not targeting civilian areas is “a lie.” He said that military and civilian areas in Ukraine are both being hit by Russian attacks.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began early Thursday with a series of missile strikes, many on key government and military installations, quickly followed by a three-pronged ground assault.

12.30pm: India establishes evacuation routes for citizens

Government of India and Embassy of India are working to establish evacuation routes from Romania and Hungary. At present, teams are getting in place at CHOP-ZAHONY Hungarian border near Uzhhorod, PORUBNE-SIRET Romanian Border near Chernivtsi, said Indian Embassy in Hungary.

Indian nationals, especially students living closest to the above border checkpoints are being advised to depart first in an organised manner in coordination with team from MEA to actualise this option, the embassy added.

12.25pm: Ukraine ministry says Russia hit 33 civilian sites in last 24 hours


Russia has bombed 33 civilian sites in its assault on Ukraine in the last 24 hours, Kyiv’s interior ministry said on Friday as Russian troops advanced on the capital, according to Interfax news agency.

“The Russians say they are not striking civilian objects. But 33 civilian sites have been hit over the last 24 hours,” the agency quoted an official at Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, Vadym Denysenko, as saying.

12.17pm: Russia to deploy paratroopers to guard Chernobyl site

Russia will deploy paratroopers to help guard the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, a spokesman for Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday.

Radiation levels at the plant are normal, the spokesman told a briefing. Russian troops, which started a full-scale military operation in Ukraine on Thursday, have destroyed 118 Ukrainian military infrastructure sites, he said.

12.01pm: British Airways avoiding Russian airspace

British Airways owner IAG is now avoiding Russian airspace for overflights and cancelled its flight to Moscow on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot from Britain, CEO Luis Gallego said.

Britain has prohibited all scheduled Russian airlines from entering British airspace.

11.47am: Russian forces enter Ukraine capital Kyiv

Ukraine’s army said Friday it was fighting invading Russian forces northwest of the capital Kyiv, as Moscow pressed on with its advance on the pro-Western country for a second day.

“Airborne assault troops of the Ukrainian armed forces are fighting in the areas of the settlements of Dymer and Invankiv,” Kyiv’s army said on its Facebook page. Dymer is around 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of Kyiv, while Ivankiv is around 60 kilometres northwest of the Ukrainian capital.

More details here

11.17am: UK says Russia intends to take the whole of Ukraine

Russia intends to take the whole of Ukraine but the Russian army failed to deliver on the first day of its invasion, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Friday.

10:44am: Zelensky accuses Russian forces of targeting civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said invading Russian forces are targeting civilian areas, praising his countrymen for their “heroism” and assuring Kyiv is doing “everything possible” to protect them.

“They say that civilian objects are not a target for them. But this is another lie of theirs. In reality, they do not distinguish between areas in which they operate,” Zelensky said in a video.

10.21am: War crimes court prosecutor concerned

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday expressed his concern over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said his court may investigate possible war crimes in the country.

“I remind all sides conducting hostilities on the territory of Ukraine that my office may exercise its jurisdiction and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within Ukraine,” Khan said in a statement.

9.38am: Ukraine says Russian troops largely stopped from advancing

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia resumed missile strikes at 4am on Friday, but its troops had been stopped from advancing in most directions.

In a televised speech, Zelensky said the Russian strikes were aimed at both military and civilian targets.

9.14am: Ukraine FM slams ‘horrific’ Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed the “horrific rocket strikes” that shook capital Kyiv in the early hours of Friday morning.

“Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv,” Kuleba said on Twitter. “Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany”.

8.34am: Ukrainian refugees camp out at Polish train station

Refugees from Ukraine, including dozens of children and two women with their cats, camped overnight at a train station in neighbouring Poland after fleeing Russia’s invasion on Thursday.

Mostly women, they filled almost every seat in the halls or huddled on yellow camping stretchers alongside their suitcases, many anxiously scrolling the news from the frontline on their phones.

7.44am: China seeks to fly its citizens out of Ukraine

China’s Embassy in Ukraine says it is arranging evacuation flights for Chinese citizens. An embassy statement Friday says conditions in Ukraine have “deteriorated sharply”. The embassy gave no details on where the evacuation flights would be leaving from. Nor did it say when the charter flights might happen, saying that scheduling will depend on the “flight safety situation.” It says travellers should be packed and ready to react quickly once flight schedules are announced.

7.40am: Missile strike hits border post in southeast Ukraine

A missile strike hit a Ukrainian border post in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding some guards, the border guard service said on Friday.

The region has no land border with Russia, which launched a military operation against Ukraine on Thursday, but is located on the coast of the Azov Sea which the neighbours share.

7.20am: Ukraine needs more munitions, says envoy to Japan

Ukraine needs more anti-aircraft munitions to defend against Russian missiles, its ambassador to Japan said on Friday.

Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky told reporters that Ukraine was well defended against tank attacks but needed Stinger missiles and other anti-aircraft supplies to defend against cruise missiles raining down on the country. Korsunsky called on nations to impose the severest sanctions possible on Russia to pressure it to halt its assault on Ukraine.

He warned that Europe is at risk of “nuclear contamination” if the Chernobyl plant, now in Russian control, is damaged or not properly maintained.

6.47am: Two explosions heard in Ukraine’s Kyiv

Two explosions were heard in Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

Similar sounds were heard a day earlier when, according to Ukrainian officials, a military base in Brovary, a town near Kyiv, was hit by Russian cruise missiles on Thursday, leaving six people dead.

More details here

6.42am: Asian shares rebound from Ukraine war shock

Asian stock prices are higher early Friday after U.S. shares recovered toward the end of a wild trading day Thursday as the world slapped sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Benchmarks are up in Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Japan announced additional sanctions on Russia, including freezing the assets of Russian groups, banks and individuals and suspending exports of semiconductors.

6.33am: Macron says useful to ‘leave path open’ for dialogue with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday it was useful to keep alive the chance of dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin after he launched an invasion of Ukraine.

Macron said after a summit of EU leaders that “while condemning, while sanctioning” it remained useful “to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be fulfilled, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities”.

More details here

6.08am: EU sanctions target 70 per cent of Russian banking market

President Vladimir Putin "must and will fail," top European Union leaders said on Friday as they agreed new sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine, saying he was trying to bring the continent back to the age of empires and confrontations.

Russia launched its invasion by land, air and sea on Thursday following a declaration of war by Putin. An estimated 100,000 people fled as explosions and gunfire rocked major cities. Dozens have been reported killed.

More details here

4.07am: UN Security Council to vote on condemning Russian attack

The UN Security Council will vote today on a resolution that would condemn Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine “in the strongest terms". It also would demand an immediate halt to Russia’s 'invasion' and the withdrawal of all Russian troops.

A senior US official said the Biden administration knows the measure will be vetoed by Russia, but believes it is very important to put the resolution to a vote to underscore Russia’s international isolation.

The official said the council vote will be followed by a resolution voted on quickly in the 193-member UN General Assembly where there are no vetoes.

The final draft resolution would reaffirm the council’s commitment “to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders".

4.03am: US condemns report of hostages at Chernobyl

The White House expressed outrage at “credible reports” from Ukrainian officials that the staff at the shuttered Chernoybl nuclear plant have been taken hostage by Russian troops.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said that “we condemn it and we request their release".

Psaki said the US had no assessment on the state of the plant where radioactivity is still leaking decades after the worst nuclear disaster in history. But she said hostage taking could hamper efforts to maintain the nuclear facility and is “incredibly alarming and greatly concerning".

Psaki spoke after Alyona Shevtsova, an adviser to the commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces, wrote on Facebook that the staff at the Chernobyl plant had been “taken hostage” when Russian troops seized the facility.

3.54am: Japan will strengthen sanctions against Russia, PM Kishida says

Japan will strengthen sanctions against Russia to three areas including financial institutions and military equipment exports, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday.

Japan will also do the utmost to limit the economic impact to Japan from the fall-out from the Ukraine crisis, he said.

3.44am: Ukraine left alone to fight Russia, says president

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that 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 said in a video address. "Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don't see anyone."

He said Russian “sabotage groups” have entered Kyiv.

“The enemy’s sabotage groups have entered Kyiv,” he said and urged residents to be vigilant and observe curfew rules.

3.26am: New Zealand announces travel bans, trade prohibitions with Russia

New Zealand imposed targeted travel bans on Russia and prohibited goods trade to its military and security forces as it joined Western allies in imposing sanctions after Moscow’s military invaded Ukraine.

“The world is speaking and sending a very clear message to Russia that what they have done is wrong and they will face the condemnation of the world,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

More sanctions may follow as the conflict escalates, Ardern said.

A U. Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter is parked after landing at the Lielvarde military airbase in Lielvarde, Latvia. — AP
A U. Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter is parked after landing at the Lielvarde military airbase in Lielvarde, Latvia. — AP

3.06am: Zelensky says 137 dead after first day of fighting

President Volodymyr Zelensky said 137 Ukrainians died on Thursday after his country came under a large-scale attack from Russian forces.

“Today we have lost 137 of our heroes, our citizens. Military and civilian,” Zelensky said in a video address, adding that another 316 people had been injured.

Zelensky said that despite Russia’s claim it is attacking only military targets, civilian sites also have been struck. “They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven.”

The president said all border guards on Zmiinyi island in the Odesa region were killed on Thursday. Ukraine’s border guard service earlier in the day reported that the island was taken by the Russians.

2.58am: US, EU unlikely to cut Russia off SWIFT for now, says Biden

The United States and the European Union have opted not to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system as part of their sanctions against Moscow for invading Ukraine, but could revisit that issue, US President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

Asked why that step was not taken, Biden told reporters the sanctions imposed against Russian banks exceeded the impact of cutting Russia off from SWIFT, and other countries had failed to agree on taking the additional step at this point.

“It is always an option,” Biden said. “But right now, that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take.”

2.36am: IMF, World Bank chiefs warn of global impacts

The leaders of the World Bank and IMF signalled on Thursday they were ready to help Ukraine, while warning that Russia’s invasion will have repercussions for the global economic recovery.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she was “deeply concerned” about the fighting’s impact on the people of Ukraine, and cautioned in a tweet that the conflict “adds significant economic risk for the region & the world”.

World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement the Washington-based development lender “is horrified by the shocking violence and loss of life”, and warned that “the devastating developments in Ukraine will have far-reaching economic and social impacts”.

2.08am: US Congress to provide $600m for new Ukraine weapons

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said lawmakers want to provide Ukraine with $600 million for “lethal defence weapons” to battle Russia’s unfolding attack.

“What we’re doing with Ukraine is making sure that we have humanitarian assistance to help the people; that we have lethal defence weapons going into Ukraine to the tune of $600 million for them to fight their own fight,” she said, speaking to reporters in San Francisco.

1.35am: Macron called Putin to ‘demand immediate halt’ to offensive

French President Emmanuel Macron called Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin “to demand the immediate halt” to Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, the Elysee Palace said on Thursday.

“After having spoken with the Ukrainian president, and in coordination with him, the president (Macron) called Vladimir Putin to demand the immediate halt of Russian military operations, noting that Russia risked massive sanctions,” the Elysee said as Macron attended an EU summit in Brussels.

The account by Macron’s aides contrasted with that given by the Kremlin, which said only that the two leaders had a “serious and frank exchange of views” about Ukraine.

The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin gave an “exhaustive” explanation to Macron of the reasons he ordered his forces into his pro-Western neighbour.

1.30am: From Tokyo to New York, thousands protest against invasion of Ukraine

Protesters turned out on public squares and outside Russian embassies in cities from Tokyo to Tel Aviv and New York on Thursday to denounce the invasion of Ukraine — while more than a thousand who tried to do the same in Russia were arrested.

Demonstrators take part in the protest against Russia's agression on Ukraine, in front of Russian embassy in Warsaw. — AFP
Demonstrators take part in the protest against Russia's agression on Ukraine, in front of Russian embassy in Warsaw. — AFP

The earliest known protest occurred outside Russia’s embassy in Washington around 1am EST (0600 GMT) on Thursday, only three hours after President Vladimir Putin said he had launched his military operation.

12.52am: France says Putin ‘must understand’ NATO is a nuclear alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to understand that NATO is a nuclear alliance, the French foreign minister said on Thursday, after the Kremlin chief boasted about Russia’s nuclear arsenal as he launched the attack on Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin must also understand that the Atlantic Alliance is a nuclear alliance,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the TF1 channel.

Le Drian said France is also studying a series of requests for assistance from Ukraine, including military.

1.01am: UN says some 100,000 displaced in Ukraine, thousands flee abroad

The UN refugee agency said around 100,000 people had fled their homes within Ukraine and several thousand more had left the country since the Russian invasion on Thursday.

“We believe that some 100,000 people must have already left their homes and may be displaced inside the country, and several thousand have crossed international borders,” UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told AFP.

Refugee High Commissioner Filippo Grandi had voiced serious concern at the rapid deterioration of the situation as military operations unfolded across Ukraine and urged neighbouring countries to keep their borders open for those seeking safety and shelter.

12:40am:Czechs, Latvia, Lithuania halt visas for Russians

The Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania on Thursday announced they had stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

“We are suspending the processing of visa applications from Russian nationals at all our consular offices with the exception of humanitarian cases,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told reporters.

He also announced the closure of Czech consulates in Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg and said Russia’s consulates in the Czech cities of Karlovy Vary and Brno were no longer permitted to operate.

Lithuania’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it was also suspending visas for Russians “in solidarity with Ukraine and its people undergoing Russian military aggression”.

Fellow Baltic state Latvia took the same decision.

Pro-Ukraine demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags and placards during a demonstration in support to Ukraine at the Venceslas square in Prague. — AFP
Pro-Ukraine demonstrators hold Ukrainian flags and placards during a demonstration in support to Ukraine at the Venceslas square in Prague. — AFP

12:34am: Ukraine FM says US plans to deliver defensive weapons

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday that he had spoken to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told him about “plans to deliver new defensive weapons to help Ukraine defend itself”.

Kuleba made the remarks on Twitter, but did not give details. He added, “We need the world to help us”.

12.28am: EU agrees new round of Russia sanctions

European Union leaders agreed to impose new sanctions on Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors and impose export controls, as well as blacklisting more Russians over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The European Council today agrees on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action,” said a statement by the 27 national EU leaders meeting in Brussels.

“These sanctions cover the financial sector, the energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods as well as export controls and export financing, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria,” the statement said.

12.20am: Ukraine flags fly in Europe against Putin’s ‘surreal war’

Protesters turned out in cities around the world on Thursday to show solidarity with Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “surreal war” on the former Soviet country, as hundreds of demonstrators who marched in Russia itself were arrested.

Police made nearly 1,400 arrests in 51 cities across Russia, an independent monitor said, cracking down on dissent after authorities warned citizens against marching.

11.52pm: Ukraine says 57 people killed on first day of Russian invasion

Ukraine’s Health Minister Oleh Lyashko said 57 people had been killed and 169 wounded on Thursday after Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine.

Separately, the deputy defence minister reported heavy Russian shelling was still underway in the eastern Donetsk region.

11.37pm: Military transport aircraft crashes in southern Russia

A Russian AN-26 military transport aircraft crashed in Russia’s southern Voronezh region on Thursday, killing its crew on board, Interfax news agency quoted Russian military officials as saying.

The accident could have been caused by a technical failure and has not inflicted any damage on the ground, Interfax said, citing a press office of Russia’s western military district.

11.25pm: US to deploy 7,000 more troops to Germany

The United States will deploy 7,000 more troops to Europe, to be based in Germany, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

“They will deploy to Germany to reassure NATO Allies, deter Russian aggression and be prepared to support a range of requirements in the region,” a Pentagon official said, adding that they are expected to depart “in the coming days.”

11.01pm: Biden announces sanctions and export controls against Russia

US President Joe Biden vowed Thursday to defend “every inch” of NATO territory after Russia sent forces into Ukraine — but reaffirmed that no American troops would be deployed to Washington’s ally.

“As I made crystal clear, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with a full force of American power,” Biden said in an address to the nation from the White House.

The president added, however: “Our forces will not be engaged in a conflict with Russia in Ukraine.

10.58pm: Canada PM Trudeau announces more sanctions against Russia

Canada announced more sanctions against Russia on Thursday, targeting 62 individuals and entities, including members of the Russian elite and major Russian banks, and cancelling all export permits, after Moscow launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine.

"Today, in light of Russia's reckless and dangerous military strike, we are imposing further, severe sanctions," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference.

10.44pm: UK slaps more sanctions on Russian banks, individuals

Calling Russian president Vladimir Putin “a bloodstained aggressor, who believes in imperial conquest”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced a slew of ‘largest ever’ economic sanctions on Russia, including the removal of Russian banks from Britain’s banking system.

The sanctions include a push to end Russia’s use of the Swift international payment systems, freezing assets of all major Russian banks, limiting cash held by Russian nationals in UK banks and sanctioning more than 100 individuals and entities.

More details here

9.56pm: Russian military says first day of Ukraine invasion ‘successful’

Russia said on Thursday that its military had achieved its goals set out for the first day of its invasion of Ukraine, after launching the attack despite warnings of sweeping Western sanctions.

“All of the tasks assigned to the groups of troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for the day were successfully completed,” Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

9.48pm: Chernobyl power plant captured by Russian forces

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been captured by Russian forces, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Thursday.

"It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," he said.

"This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today," Podolyak said.

9.31pm: Ukrainian refugees arrive in neighbouring nations

Hundreds of Ukrainians fleeing war with Russia started arriving in neighbouring central European countries on Thursday and the region braced for many more, setting up reception points and sending troops towards the borders to provide assistance.

The countries on the European Union's eastern flank were all once part of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact and are now members of Nato. Among them, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania all share land borders with Ukraine.

9.05pm: Russians checked outside Kyiv, says Ukraine leader

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensnky has urged Moscow to end hostilities, adding that Russian airborne troops have been checked outside Kyiv.

“It wasn’t Ukraine that chose the path of war, but Ukraine is offering to go back to the path of peace,” he said Thursday.

He said a Russian airborne force in Hostomel airport outside Kyiv, which has a big runway, has been stopped and is being destroyed.

More details here

8.53pm: Putin says he had no choice over Ukraine

Reuters file
Reuters file

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he had no other option but to order what he has called a special operation against Ukraine, saying all of Moscow's previous attempts to change the security situation had come to nothing.

US President Joe Biden has said Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction that its attack on Ukraine will bring.

8.50pm: UN Security Council to vote on resolution condemning Russia

The UN Security Council is expected to vote on Friday on a US-drafted resolution that condemns Russia for invading Ukraine and requiring Moscow to 'immediately, completely, unconditionally,' withdraw from Ukraine, according to a senior US administration official.

Russia, one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council, will likely veto the resolution, the US official said, but Washington and others view the council as a critical venue where Moscow must be forced to explain itself.

"We're not going to stand by and do nothing," the official briefing reporters in a call said

8.20pm: Large-scale invasion now likely, says US official

A senior US defence official says Thursday’s attack by Russia appears to be the first phase in what will likely be a multiple phased, large-scale invasion.

The official said the Russians are moving on three axes: From Crimea to Kherson, from Belarus toward Kyiv, and from the northeast to Kharkiv.

More details here

8.14pm: WHO concerned over catastrophe in Ukraine

The World Health Organisation expressed concern on Thursday over an expected health emergency in Ukraine after Russian forces invaded the country.

"Amid the conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, the WHO Regional Office for Europe reiterates its deepest concern for the safety, health and well-being of all civilians impacted by the crisis in the country and possibly beyond," its regional office for Europe said in a statement, adding any further escalation could result in a humanitarian catastrophe.

8.08pm: Ukraine says Russia trying to seize Chernobyl

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130km (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.

The exploded reactor has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been decommissioned.

Zelensky said on Twitter that “our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.” He added that “this is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”

7.51pm: US, G7 allies meet after Russia invades Ukraine

US President Joe Biden met with his counterparts from the Group of Seven allies on Thursday morning to map out more severe measures against Russia after President Vladimir Putin launched what Biden called "a premeditated war" against Ukraine.

The virtual meeting between the United States and its allies was underway, the White House said, as the group prepared to respond to what Biden in a statement late Wednesday called "an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces" on Ukraine.

7.37pm: Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv imposes curfew

The mayor of Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv ordered a curfew on Thursday in comments shown on television after Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine.

7.20pm: EU to freeze Russian assets

Damaged radar arrays and other equipment is seen at Ukrainian military facility outside Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: AP
Damaged radar arrays and other equipment is seen at Ukrainian military facility outside Mariupol, Ukraine. Photo: AP

European Union leaders will impose new sanctions on Russia, freezing its assets, halting its banks’ access to European financial markets and targeting “Kremlin interests” over its invasion of Ukraine, senior officials said on Thursday.

An emergency summit starting at 1900 GMT will also discuss offering EU candidate status to Ukraine, Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda said, a step Kyiv has long called for, though it may not win approval from all EU leaders.

“With this package, we will target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking their access to technologies and markets that are key to Russia,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said. “We will weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernise.”

Russian assets in the EU would also be frozen and Russian banks’ access to Europe’s financial markets would be stopped.

7.10pm: West doesn't respect international law: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia will always be ready for dialogue despite Russian forces launching a major military assault on Ukraine. "Unfortunately, our Western friends do not respect international law, trying to destroy it and promote what they call 'rules-based order,'" state-owned news agency RIA Novosti quoted Lavrov as saying. "We had intensive and detailed discussions with our American colleagues, with other Nato members," he said, adding: "We hope that there is still a chance to return to international law and international obligations."

7.02pm: Oil tops $105 over supply fears

Oil prices jumped on Thursday, with Brent rising above $105 a barrel for the first time since 2014, after Russia’s attack on Ukraine exacerbated concerns about disruptions to global energy supply. Brent crude was up $7.26, or 7.5 per cent, at $104.10 a barrel as of 1437 GMT, having touched a high of $105.79. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude jumped $6.63, or 7.2 per cent, to $98.73. Brent and WTI hit their highest since August and July 2014 respectively.

6.59pm: Czechs shut consulates, stop visas for Russians

The Czech Republic will close Russian consulates in the country and stop issuing visas to Russians except in humanitarian cases, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Thursday.

The country, a Nato and European Union member, will close two Russian consulates in Brno, the second largest Czech city, and Karlovy Vary. It will shut its own consulates in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg in Russia, Fiala said. He said the government would also call home its ambassadors to Russia and Belarus for consultations.

6.48pm: Italy, others summon Russia envoys over invasion

The European Union on Thursday summoned Russian ambassador to condemn Ukraine attack. Earlier in the day, Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi summoned the Russian ambassador to Japan to condemn Russian invasion into Ukraine, telling the envoy the Russian action is in clear violation of international law, the Japanese government said on Thursday.

Hayashi told Mikhail Galuzin that the Russia side should cease the invasion immediately, and urged that the safety of civilians, including Japanese nationals, should be protected unconditionally, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. Italy and the UK had also summoned the Russian ambassadors after the Kremlin launched the attack.

6.39pm: Nasdaq tumbles over 3% at open over invasion

The Nasdaq Composite index tumbled at the open on Thursday, dropping more than 20 per cent from its record closing high in November last year and on track to confirm a bear market, after Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 301.43 points, or 0.91 per cent, at the open to 32,830.33, falling more than 10 per cent from its all-time closing peak on January 4 and on pace to confirm a correction. The S&P 500 opened lower by 69.73 points, or 1.65 per cent, at 4,155.77, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 449.61 points, or 3.45 per cent, to 12,587.88 at the opening bell.

6.33pm: Vatican hopes for 'glimmer of conscience'

The Vatican, in its first comment since Russia invaded Ukraine, said on Thursday it hoped that those who hold the destiny of the world in their hands will have a “glimmer of conscience”.

World leaders have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of a flagrant violation of international law by launching the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II. A statement by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin did not specifically name the Russian leader.

6.29pm: Tough sanctions will aim to reopen path to diplomacy with Russia, says German minister

The sanctions with which the West will hit Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine will decouple Russia from industrial development and damage its financial markets but are designed to open a way back to diplomacy, Germany’s economy minister said.

Robert Habeck said the measures would be designed to hurt Russia badly and minimise the pain to Germany, but he warned that it would be impossible to spare the German economy entirely.

“The impact of this package will have consequences, and thus contribute to opening or reopening the chances for diplomacy,” he said.

6.13pm: Battle under way for airbase near Kyiv

The Ukraine army said on Thursday battle was under way for an airbase near Kyiv. A warning siren could be heard in the Ukraine capital, a witness reported from the scene. Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday in a massed assault by land, sea and air, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.

5.59pm: European wheat prices hit record high


The price of wheat smashed its previous record high in European trading on Thursday as Russia invaded Ukraine, putting a question mark on the future of exports from two of the world’s biggest producers of the key commodity. Wheat soared to 344 euros ($384) a tonne, far above its previous record of 313.5 euros recorded late last year, said Edward de Saint-Denis of the brokerage firm Plantureux & Associates. It later fell back to around 320 euros a tonne. The price of corn, meanwhile, shot up to 304 euros a tonne.

5.50pm: Russia says it destroyed 74 military facilities

Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had destroyed 74 above-ground military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine on Thursday, including 11 aerodromes, the RIA news agency reported. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian police said Russia had carried out 203 attacks since the beginning of the day, with fighting going on almost everywhere throughout Ukraine’s territory. State border guards said the Ukrainian military was fighting Russian forces near the eastern city of Sumy. Ukraine’s defence minister said some Russian forces had been taken prisoner in heavy fighting.

5.45pm: Asean urges maximum restraint, de-escalation of Russia-Ukraine tensions

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) expressed grave concern over Russia-Ukraine tensions and urged maximum restraint and dialogue, according to a draft statement being prepared by the 10-member regional bloc on Thursday.

“We call on all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint, to pursue dialogue through all channels, including diplomatic means to contain the situation, to prevent it from further escalation and to see peaceful resolution in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter,” said the draft statement of Asean chair Cambodia, seen by Reuters.

5.43pm: Map of Ukraine locating the major cities where explosions were heard on Thursday morning


5.37pm: Poland prepares hospital beds for Ukrainians

People walk at the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Medyka, Poland. Photo: Reuters
People walk at the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Medyka, Poland. Photo: Reuters

Poland is preparing a medical train to transport Ukrainians wounded in Russia's assault on its neighbour, the country's health ministry said, adding that Polish hospitals were ready to receive thousands of patients.

"Poland is preparing to accept migrants from Ukraine, including Ukrainian citizens affected by the armed conflict," the health ministry said. "We will do everything to ensure that every person who enters the territory of Poland has access to healthcare, including hospitalisation. Beds are being prepared in hospitals for the admission of the wounded," the ministry added.

5.31pm: Maersk halts seaborne shipping to Ukraine

Shipping group Maersk said on Thursday it has halted all port calls in Ukraine until the end of February and has shut its main office in Odessa on the Black Sea coast, as a consequence of the conflict with neighbouring Russia. “Services in Russia remain available while we have decided not to call any ports in Ukraine until February 28 and stop acceptance orders to and from Ukraine up until further notice,” a Maersk spokesperson said. All of the company’s 60 employees in Ukraine were at home and safe, the spokesperson added.

5.25pm: Keep off attack on Ukraine, Nato urges Belarus


EU chief Charles Michel on Thursday urged Belarus to “not take part” in Russia’s military assault on Ukraine, ahead of an emergency European Union summit to decide new sanctions on Moscow over its invasion. In an appeal to Belarus and its people during a media conference at the Nato headquarters, Michel said: “You have the choice not to follow Russia’s destructive action. You have the choice not to take part in this needless tragedy against your neighbours in Ukraine.”

5.14pm: Macron vows ‘no weakness’ in reply to Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron says France and its European allies did everything to try to head off the attack on Ukraine. He said that they will show “no weakness” in their response. Macron said in a televised address to the nation Thursday that Russia’s attack is a “turning point in European history” and as a result “there will be profound consequences for our continent and changes in our lives.”

4.57: Withdraw unconditionally, Italy tells Russia

Prime Minister Mario Draghi demanded on Thursday Russia “withdraw unconditionally” from Ukraine, saying the invasion of the pro-Western nation “concerns all of us, our lives as free people, our democracy”. “We have our allies at our side...together we will do whatever it takes to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty, Europe’s security, and the integrity of the international order based on the rules and values we all share,” he said. Italy and its allies urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “put an immediate end to the bloodshed and to unconditionally withdraw his military forces,” Draghi said.

4.48pm: Russia activist who called for anti-war protests arrested

A Russian opposition activist who called for anti-war protests after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine said she was detained by police on Thursday. “I was detained on my way out of the house,” Marina Litvinovich, the Moscow-based activist, wrote on Telegram. She confirmed her detention separately in a message to Reuters. Litvinovich called on Russians earlier to gather in protest in various Russian cities on Thursday evening.

4.41pm: Ukrainian military plane shot down, five killed

Emergencies personnel work at the crash site of a Ukrainian military plane south of Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP
Emergencies personnel work at the crash site of a Ukrainian military plane south of Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

A Ukrainian military plane was shot down on Thursday and five people were killed, Ukrainian police and the state emergency service said, as its armed forces sought to defend against a massive Russian military operation. The Odessa regional administration said in a statement earlier that 18 people died in an air strike on a military base near Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odessa.

4.31pm: "This hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.”

4.25pm: Ukraine evacuating its embassy in Moscow

Ukraine recalled its charge d’affaires in Russia for consultations and began evacuating its embassy in Moscow, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Thursday. Earlier, Ukraine’s president said his country has cut diplomatic ties with Russia after it was attacked. “We broke off diplomatic relations with Russia,” Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message. It marked the first rupture in ties since Russia and Ukraine became independent countries after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.

4.14pm: Nato says no plan to send troops to Ukraine

People stand outside a destroyed building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv. Photo: AFP
People stand outside a destroyed building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv. Photo: AFP

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the alliance had no intention to send forces into Ukraine after Russia invaded its pro-Western neighbour. “We don’t have Nato troops in Ukraine, and we don’t have any plans to send Nato troops into Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told a media conference. He had said earlier that the alliance will deploy capabilities and forces on its territory and put over 100 warplanes on high alert.

4.10pm: "Russia's brazen acts will not go unpunished"

4.06pm: China understands Russia’s 'legitimate concerns'

China understands Russia’s “legitimate concerns” on security issues, senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by phone on Thursday.

China called for the formulation of “a balanced, effective and sustainable security mechanism” in Europe via dialogue and negotiation, Wang said, according to a statement on the website of the China Foreign Ministry.

4pm: Lithuania declares state of emergency

Lithuania’s president declared a state of emergency on Thursday, telling the Nato country’s army to deploy along its borders in response to “possible disturbances and provocations due to large military forces massed in Russia and Belarus”. The state of emergency, declared hours after Russian forces invaded Ukraine, will be valid for two weeks. Parliament will meet later on Thursday to vote whether to confirm or cancel President Gitanas Nauseda decision.

3.50pm: "This is a brutal act of war"

3.41pm: Nato puts 100 warplanes on high alert

Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence square in central Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP
Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence square in central Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that the Western military alliance will deploy capabilities and forces on its territory after Russian invaded Ukraine, saying it had put over 100 warplanes on high alert.

Nato leaders will hold a virtual summit on Friday.

The alliance also activated Nato's defence plans to give military commanders to move forces, including those at high readiness.

3.38pm: Russian choppers attack military airport

Russian helicopters on Thursday attacked Gostomel, a military airport near the capital of Kyiv, and Ukraine downed three of them, Ukrainian officials said.

They said the Russian military was trying to penetrate into Ukraine’s Kyiv region and its Zhytomyr region on the Belarusian border and that Russia was using Grad rocket systems.

3.34pm: German DAX index plummets

The German DAX index on Thursday slumped 5 per cent on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Hungarian and Polish stocks also fell sharply, setting them on course for their biggest drops in almost two years, and central Europe’s currencies sank after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said a sharp drop in the value of the ruble and on the Moscow stock exchange was a predictable reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

3.25pm: Russia to pay a bitter price for the war

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday Western sanctions would ensure Russia paid a “bitter price” for its attack on Ukraine and made it clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a serious mistake.

“Putin is bringing suffering and destruction to his direct neighbours, he is violating the sovereignty and borders of Ukraine,” Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

3.11pm: Ukranian missiles hit Russian cargo ships

Two Russian civilian cargo ships were hit on Thursday by Ukranian missile strikes in the Azov Sea, Tass said, adding that casualties have been reported.

Russia had earlier in the day suspended movement of commercial vessels in the sea until further notice, but kept its ports in the Black Sea open for navigation.

Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, mainly ships its grain from ports in the Black Sea.

3.03pm: Missile attack kills 18 in Ukraine's Odessa city

At least 18 people were killed in the Ukranian city of Odessa in a missile attack on Thursday.

Black smoke was also seen rising over the Ukrainian defence ministry intelligence headquarters in central Kyiv, a Reuters correspondent reported.

Ukraine said some of its military command centres have been hit by Russian missile strikes as Moscow launched a military operation against its neighbour.

2.57pm: Nato to beef up eastern flank near Ukraine

Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Photo: AP
Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Photo: AP

Nato agreed on Thursday to beef up its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine. “We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the alliance, as well as additional maritime assets,” Nato ambassadors said in a statement after emergency talks. “We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies,” their statement said.

2:52pm: China closely monitoring situation

2:45pm: Return to talks, says Israel

Israel condemned Russian actions in Ukraine on Thursday and called on world powers to resolve the crisis swiftly.

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a grave breach of international order. Israel condemns the attack,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a televised statement.

“There is still time to stop and to return to the negotiation table and to resolve differences peacefully with world powers’ mediation. Israel has long-running, deep and good relations both with Russia and Ukraine.

"There are tens of thousands of Israelis in both countries, there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in both countries keeping them safe is our top priority,” Lapid said.

2.40pm: Second wave of missile strikes hits Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen are seen in the settlement of Odradivka prior to a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels on December 29, 2019. Photo: AFP
Ukrainian servicemen are seen in the settlement of Odradivka prior to a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels on December 29, 2019. Photo: AFP

Ukraine is being hit by a second wave of missile strikes, an adviser to president Volodymyr Zelensky told a briefing on Thursday.

Authorities in Kyiv say the first wave, launched shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation on Thursday morning, hit military command centres and other buildings in several Ukrainian cities.

More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers and around 10 civilians died in the first hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters.

2.38pm: Ukraine shuts sea ports operations

Operations at Ukraine’s sea ports have been suspended by the country’s military, Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the president’s chief of staff, said on Thursday.

Operations at Ukraine’s railroad will continue, he added. Russia and Ukraine signed a friendship and cooperation treaty in 1997 under which Moscow remains owner of most of the ex-Soviet Black Sea fleet, but agrees to pay Ukraine rent to use the port of Sevastopol.

2:30pm: Dubai resident woke up to sound of explosions

One by one, 11 explosions shattered the silence of the morning. It was scary, very scary,” said Dubai-based businesswoman Sofya Shamuzzi as she recounted her experience from a hotel room in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, where military command centres were hit by missiles in a pre-dawn attack by Russian forces on Thursday.

More details here

2.13pm: Ukraine rebels gain territory

Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv  on February 24, 2022.  (Photo: AFP)
Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv on February 24, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

The Russian army said on Thursday that Moscow-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine are advancing and have gained territory after the Kremlin launched an attack on the country.

Military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov told state television that forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic gained “up to three kilometres” in territory and those of the Lugansk People’s Republic “advanced one and a half kilometres”.

He added that Russia had “high precision weapons” and that Ukrainian civilians had “nothing to fear”.

1:57pm: "Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed"

1:51pm: Ukraine cuts diplomatic ties with Russia


Ukraine’s president said his country has cut diplomatic ties with Russia after this morning's attack. Zelenskiy also called on all citizens who were ready to defend the country from Russian forces to come forward, saying Kyiv would issue weapons to everyone who wants them. He urged Russians to come out and protest against the war.

1:39pm: 50 Russian troops killed, 4 tanks destroyed

Ukraine's Military Forces servicemen sit in the back of military truck in the Donetsk region town of Avdiivka. (AFP)
Ukraine's Military Forces servicemen sit in the back of military truck in the Donetsk region town of Avdiivka. (AFP)

Ukraine’s military said on Thursday it had destroyed four Russian tanks on a road near the eastern city of Kharkiv, killed 50 troops near a town in Luhansk region and downed a sixth Russian aircraft, also in the country’s east. Russia has denied reports that its aircraft or armoured vehicles have been destroyed. Ukraine’s border guard service said that three of its servicemen had been killed in the southern Kherson region and that several more were wounded.

1:30pm: Leave Ukraine immediately, Poland to citizens


The Polish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday all Polish citizens should leave Ukraine immediately after Russia launched an invasion of the country. “Due to the military operations in Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against any travel to Ukraine. Polish citizens staying in Ukraine should leave its territory immediately,” it said in a statement. A Polish government spokesman said earlier those Polish diplomatic missions in Ukraine would remain open “as long as possible”.

1:20pm: Oil breaches $100, European stocks drop


Oil prices broke above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, stock markets slumped and the rouble hit a record low on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

Europe’s main stock markets opened 2.5-4 per cent lower and benchmark government bonds, the dollar, Swiss franc, Japanese yen and gold all rallied in a move to safety.

The rouble weakened nearly 7 per cent to an unprecedented 86.98 per dollar and there were 10 per cent plus falls on the Moscow stock exchange when it opened after an initial suspension. The Russian central bank then ordered a ban on short selling and over-the-counter markets until further notice.

1:15pm: Finland ready receive refugees

Finland is prepared to receive refugees from Ukraine, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday, as she strongly condemned the military action Russia has taken in Ukraine. Marin estimated there could be a large number of refugees from Ukraine who could try to escape towards the European Union. “The ministry of interior for its part is preparing to receive refugees from Ukraine,” she told reporters.

1:04pm: Students from Dubai stranded in Ukraine

Some students, who were to fly to Dubai, are stranded in Ukraine as Russian forces launched an attack against the East European country.

One student, 21-year-old Nazeel Nazar, was to fly to Dubai to be with his family tonight. He had booked the ticket some days ago as tensions rose between Russia and Ukraine.

More details here.

1:04pm: Belarus' army not taking part in invasion

Belarus’s leader Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that his military is not taking part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as Kyiv said Moscow’s troops were entering the country from Belarusian territory.

Moscow has stationed tens of thousands of troops in Belarus.

1:01pm: UAE airlines temporarily suspend flights

UAE airlines have temporarily suspended flights to Ukraine temporarily after Russia launched an attack on the East European country on Thursday morning.

Ukraine closed the airspace, citing a high risk to civilian aircraft.

The airlines had been avoiding Ukrainian airspace for the past few days after tension escalated between the two countries.

More details here

12.53pm: Kyiv calls citizens to take up weapon

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Thursday said that anyone who is ready and able to hold a weapon can join the ranks of the territorial defence forces, as the police said they would distribute weapons to veterans.

Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

12:27: Ukraine’s President Zelensky orders military to ‘inflict maximum losses'

The head of the Ukrainian military said Thursday he had received orders from President Volodymyr Zelensky to repel a Russian invasion of his country.

“The supreme commander the Armed Forces of Ukraine gave orders to inflict maximum losses against the aggressor,” Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Major General Valeriy Zaluzhny said.

12:07pm: Ukraine asks Turkey to close Black Sea access to Russia

People are seen outside the cordoned off area around the remains of a shell in a street in Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP
People are seen outside the cordoned off area around the remains of a shell in a street in Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

Ukraine has asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships and wants sanctions imposed on Moscow, Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara said on Thursday. Under a 1936 pact, Ankara has control over the straits and can limit warship passages if it is threatened or during wartime.

12.00: Iran urges its citizens to leave Ukraine

Iran on Thursday urged its citizens residing in Ukraine to leave the country, Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency reported. Iran’s embassy in Ukraine is currently working on obtaining flight permits for the evacuation flights given that the Ukrainian airspace is currently closed, the agency added.

11:57am: Russia faces unprecedented isolation, says EU

A woman stands in a street as black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP
A woman stands in a street as black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

Russia faces “unprecedented isolation” over its attack on Ukraine and will be hit with the “harshest sanctions” the EU has ever imposed, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday. “This is not a question of blocs. This is not a question of diplomatic power games. It’s a matter of life and death. It is about the future of our global community,” he said in a broadcast statement.

11:50am: Seven dead in Russian bombing: Ukrainian police

Seven people have reportedly died in bombing by Russian forces, Ukrainian police say. Officials say an attack on a military unit in Podilsk, outside Odessa killed six people and wounded seven, reports BBC. Nineteen people are also missing. One person died in the city of Mariupol, BBC said.

11:41am: Oil tops $100, gold highest since January 2021

The remains of a shell is seen on a street in Kyiv on February 24, 2022.  Photo: AFP
The remains of a shell is seen on a street in Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo: AFP

Oil prices broke past $100 and safe havens surged while equities tumbled on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “military operation” in Ukraine. Oil prices rocketed more than five per cent with Brent moving within spitting distance of the $100 not seen since September 2014. Gold hit its highest since January 2021, while the Japanese yen piled higher against the dollar and the Swiss franc hit a five-year high on the euro.

11:39am: Australia announces ‘second phase’ of Russia sanctions

Australia hit Russia with a “second phase” of sanctions on Thursday over its assault on Ukraine. Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned Russia’s “illegal invasion” as he announced sanctions against 25 individuals, four entities involved in developing and selling military gear, and restrictions on four financial institutions.

11:29am: Separatists say they downed two Ukrainian warplanes

Russia-backed separatists said in a statement on social media they had downed two Ukrainian warplanes in the self-proclaimed Luhansk republic in eastern Ukraine. This came after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had appealed to world leaders to impose all possible sanctions on Russia, including on President Vladimir Putin. He said the Kremlin leader wanted to destroy the Ukrainian state.

11:22am: Macron blasts Russia's decision to ‘wage war on Ukraine’

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday strongly condemned Russia’s military action against Ukraine, vowing Paris would work with allies to end the war. “Russia must immediately put an end to its military operations,” Macron wrote on Twitter, saying Russia had made the decision to “wage war” on Ukraine.

11:18am: Putin called Belarus leader before Ukraine attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin made an early morning call to his Belarusian counterpart on Thursday, informing him that Moscow was launching a military operation on Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko’s office said. “Around 5am today there was a telephone conversation between the presidents of Belarus and Russia,” Lukashenko’s office said. “During the call, Vladimir Putin informed his Belarusian colleague about the situation on the border with Ukraine and in Donbas.”

11:08am: Reports of casualties start to come in

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry adviser says shelling across Ukraine has killed one and wounded another in Brovary in the Kyiv region, The Guardian reported. Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said they had captured the towns of Shchastia and Stanytsia Luhanska in Ukraine’s region of Luhansk, the RIA news agency reported.

People react standing behind the cordoned off area around the remains of a shell in Kyiv on February 24, 2022Photo: AFP
People react standing behind the cordoned off area around the remains of a shell in Kyiv on February 24, 2022Photo: AFP

11:03am: Nato calls attacks 'reckless and unprovoked'

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday denounced Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack” on Ukraine, warning it put “countless” lives in jeopardy. “I strongly condemn Russia’s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives,” Stoltenberg said in a statement. “Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country,” he said.

10.59am: Separatists claim capturing two towns in Ukraine’s east

This Maxar satellite image taken and released on February 23, 2022 shows additional troops and equipment near Kupino. (Photo by - / Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies / AFP)
This Maxar satellite image taken and released on February 23, 2022 shows additional troops and equipment near Kupino. (Photo by - / Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies / AFP)

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Thursday they had captured the towns of Shchastia and Stanytsia Luhanska in Ukraine’s region of Luhansk, the RIA news agency reported.

10.53am: Attack unjustified and unjustifiable: Italian PM

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday lashed Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “unjustified and unjustifiable”, saying Europe and Nato were working on an immediate response. “The Italian Government condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is unjustified and unjustifiable. Italy is close to the Ukrainian people and institutions in this dramatic moment. We are working with European and Nato allies to respond immediately, with unity and determination,” Draghi said in a statement.

10.50am: Germany slams Russia’s ‘day of shame’

Germany on Thursday blasted Russia’s military operation in Ukraine as “a day of shame” and warned that the political and economic consequences for Moscow would be severe. “Germany condemns in the strongest possible terms this unscrupulous act by President Putin. Our solidarity goes out to Ukraine and its people,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement. The world “will not forget this day of shame”, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. “We will react together with our partners,” she said in a statement.

10.39am: Biden says ‘world will hold Russia accountable’

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the “world will hold Russia accountable” over the military onslaught against Ukraine that he warned will cause “catastrophic loss of life”. In a statement, Biden said he would address the US public Thursday to outline the “consequences” for Russia, calling the attack “unprovoked and unjustified.” He added: “We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

10.35am: Attacks came from Russia, Belarus and annexed Crimea: Ukraine

Russian troops attacked Ukraine from Belarus as well as Russia with Belarusian support at around 5am local time on Thursday, and an attack is also being launched from annexed Crimea, Ukraine’s border guard service said. It said that attacks against border guard units and check points were under way using artillery, other military hardware and small arms in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Sumy, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Zhytomyr.

10.29am: China tells its nationals in Ukraine to stay at home

The Chinese embassy in Ukraine on Thursday told its nationals in Ukraine to stay put at home as a precautionary measure, following the bombings of some Ukrainian cities and deployment of military operations in the country. The situation in Ukraine has deteriorated sharply and security risks have risen, with social order potentially descending into chaos, the embassy warned.

10.25am: Russia says it has taken out infrastructure at Ukraine air bases

Russia’s defence ministry said it has taken out military infrastructure at Ukrainian air bases and degraded Ukraine’s air defences, Russian news agencies reported.

The Russian ministry denied reports that one of its aircraft had been downed over Ukraine. Ukraine’s military said earlier that five Russian planes and one helicopter had been shot down over its Luhansk region.

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