Middle East

Ukraine says Russia has lost over 10K troops

Moscow’s military assault continues on its tenth day despite global condemnation and severe sanctions from Western nations. Here are the latest updates:

The casualty numbers can’t independently be verified.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Ukraine says Russia has lost over 10K troops

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba echoed the president’s assertion that Russia has lost more than 10,000 troops.

Kuleba also said in a video message released by the Ukrainian government that the Russians had lost dozens of aircraft and hundreds of armoured vehicles.

The claim could not be independently verified. The Russian military doesn’t offer regular updates on their casualties. On Wednesday, they revealed a death toll of 498.

“Russians keep bearing devastating losses on the ground, and I cannot understand how mothers, wives and daughters of these Russian soldiers bear this pain, seeing how President Putin sends more and more of their beloved ones to Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

Kuleba added, “Ukraine is bleeding but Ukraine has not fallen and stands (with) both feet on the ground.”

Türkiye’s First Lady announces solidarity with Ukrainians

Türkiye’s First Lady has said the international society’s exemplary solidarity for Ukraine should apply to all oppressed people regardless of their language, religion or race amid the Russian invasion into Ukraine.

On behalf of the Turkish people, Emine Erdogan sent a video message to her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenskyy showing love and respect to the Ukrainians in this hard time that the nation is facing.

“We pray to Allah for you to return to peace as soon as possible without any casualty,” Erdogan said.

“The experience that Ukraine is passing through is the fire that Türkiye were trying to extinguish for years,” she added.

She noted that Türkiye is hosting over 3.7 million Syrians that left their country after the so-called Arab Uprising that led the Syrian regime to crackdown on its own people who were demanding reforms.

She stressed that women and children are among those who are facing the most defenceless in a war.

“We have experienced first-hand that women and children constitute the most vulnerable group and are disproportionately affected by wars. None of us can be happy and live in peace in a world where dead children’s names are mentioned in the news.”

Russia resumes ‘offensive’ after ceasefire attempt fails 

Russia’s defence ministry has said it had resumed “offensive actions” in Ukraine after announcing a ceasefire earlier in the day to allow residents of two besieged cities to evacuate.

“Due to the unwillingness of the Ukrainian side to influence nationalists or extend the ceasefire, offensive actions have been resumed at 18:00 Moscow time (1500GMT),” defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a video briefing.

The first ceasefire attempted in Ukraine’s southeastern port of Mariupol and the eastern city of Volnovakha to evacuate desperate civilians collapsed amid ongoing shelling as Russian and Ukrainian officials traded blame.

Zelensyy makes ‘desperate plea’ for planes 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a “desperate plea” for aircraft to fight Russia during a video call with US legislators, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said.

In the Democratic-controlled US Congress, there is strong bipartisan support for $10 billion in emergency military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

The Ukrainian leader “made a desperate plea for European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine” during Saturday’s video call, Schumer said.

“These planes are very much needed. And I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer,” Schumer said in a statement. 

More than 280 members of the Senate and House of Representatives took part in the call.

Russia-Ukraine talks to resume on Monday 

Russia and Ukraine will hold a third round of talks on Monday about ending hostilities, Ukrainian negotiator David Arakhamia has said in a Facebook post, without providing further details.

Delegations from Ukraine and Russia have had two rounds of talks since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour on Feb. 24.

China pushes ‘direct’ Russia-Ukraine negotiations

Beijing has urged direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine during a call between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his American counterpart Antony Blinken.

The exchange marked the first call between the country’s top diplomats since the beginning of Russia-Ukraine hostilities.

Wang told Secretary of State Blinken: “We encourage direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine,” according to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry.

“We hope that the fighting will stop as soon as possible… and that a large-scale humanitarian crisis will be prevented,” Wang added, conceding negotiations between the two countries would not be “smooth sailing”.

Bennett meets Putin in Moscow

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss the Ukraine crisis, his spokesperson has said.

While Israel, a close ally of the United States, has condemned the Russian invasion, voiced solidarity with Kiev and sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has said it will maintain communications with Moscow in the hope of helping to ease the crisis.

Large crowds in Hamburg, Paris protest Russia’s war 

Around 30,000 protesters have gathered in Hamburg to demonstrate against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, local police said.

The protests in Germany’s second-largest city took place under the slogan “Peace in Ukraine and Security in Europe” against the military assault which has forced nearly 1.5 million refugees to flee westward into the European Union.

“Let us jointly say no to war,” Iryna Tybinka, consul general of Ukraine in Hamburg, told protesters during a speech, according to local broadcaster NDR, adding the fight would continue and “we must win it”.

In France, several thousand protesters gathered in the Place de la Republique in Paris to express their solidarity with Ukraine and opposition to the Russian invasion. 

Many waved Ukrainian national flags and banners denouncing President Vladimir Putin.

IMF foresees ‘devastating’ economic damage

The IMF has warned that the already serious global economic impacts of the war in Ukraine would be “all the more devastating” should the conflict escalate.

“While the situation remains highly fluid and the outlook is subject to extraordinary uncertainty, the economic consequences are already very serious,” the IMF said in a statement after a meeting of the executive board.

“Should the conflict escalate, the economic damage would be all the more devastating.”

Zelenskyy: Ukrainian forces holding key cities 

Ukrainian forces were holding key cities in the central and southeastern part of the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. 

His statement came as the Russians were trying to block and keep encircled Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy. 

“We’re inflicting losses on the occupants they could not see in their worst nightmare,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia flying out UN diplomats expelled by US 

A Russian flight was en route to Washington to collect Russian diplomats who were expelled this week from their posts at the United Nations over US national security concerns, officials have said. 

Russia denies the allegations and says it will retaliate for their expulsion. 

A Rossiya Special Flight Squadron is flying to Washington from St. Petersburg to bring the diplomats to Russia, foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said. 

“This plane will bring back home the Russian diplomats whom the Government of the United States has declared personae non grata,” Zakharova said over Telegram. 

UK to streamline sanctioning Russian oligarchs 

Britain is to make it easier to penalise Russian oligarchs and align those sanctions with the European Union and the US over the invasion of Ukraine, the government has said.

The UK has been criticised for not doing enough to clamp down on oligarchs’ ill-gotten gains which are frequently invested in luxury real estate in London, a popular destination.

Amendments will be introduced to the Economic Crimes bill, which the government now wants to be passed by the lower House of Commons on Monday, “to crack down on corrupt elites and ramp up pressure on (President Vladimir ) Putin’s regime”, a statement said. 

Russia protests to US envoy over senator’s call to ‘take out’ Putin 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has protested to the US ambassador in Moscow on Saturday over remarks by US Senator Lindsey Graham advocating that President Vladimir Putin be assassinated.

It said in a statement that failure to unambiguously condemn the remarks and take concrete measures “will have a further devastating effect on Russian-American relations”, already in tatters following Western sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

US Ambassador John Sullivan was summoned to the ministry to be told that Graham’s comment would be treated as a serious crime in Russia. 

“This is a public, terrorist appeal that is completely unacceptable,” the ministry said.

Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, called on Twitter for someone in Russia to “take this guy out” – referring to Putin.

Putin warns NATO over Ukraine no-fly zone

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be tantamount to entering the conflict. 

He said any attempt by another power to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be considered by Russia to be a step into the military conflict. 

Putin said Western sanctions on Russia were akin to a declaration of war and reiterated that his aims in Ukraine are to defend Russian speaking communities through the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of the country so that it became neutral. 

He dismissed concerns that some sort of martial law or emergency situation could be declared in Russia.

Erdogan tells EU’s Michel that Türkiye will work for peace 

Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told European Council President Charles Michel on Saturday that Türkiye will continue all its efforts to achieve peace between Ukraine and Russia, the Turkish presidency said in a statement. 

NATO member Türkiye shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good ties with both. 

Ankara has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unacceptable and offered to host peace talks, but opposes sanctions on Moscow.

UN confirms Ukraine’s civilian death toll at 351 

The UN human rights office said it has confirmed the deaths of 351 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. 

The Geneva-based office said that another 707 civilians were injured between Feb. 24 and midnight on Friday. 

The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. 

It said Saturday it believes the real figures are considerably higher, “especially in government-controlled territory and especially in recent days,” as the receipt of information from some places where there was intense fighting was delayed and many reports were still undergoing corroboration. 

Russia’s Aeroflot to halt all international flights 

Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot has said that it was suspending all its international flights beginning March 8.

An Aeroflot statement on the “temporary suspension of all international flights from March 8,” cited new “circumstances that impede the operation of flights,” noting that all domestic routes would continue unchanged as well as flights to neighbouring Belarus.

Ukraine: Over 10,000 Russian soldiers killed  

Ukraine has claimed that over 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and 1,870 units of heavy and light military equipment, including 39 fighter planes and 40 helicopters, have been destroyed since Russia attacked its neighbour on February 24. 

If true, the figures would be quite high, as the USSR is said to have lost 15,000 soldiers in the 10-year Afghanistan war.

There is no reaction from Russia on Ukrainian claims but earlier this week Russian defence ministry put the death toll at 498. 

According to a Ukrainian General Staff statement, 39 aircraft, 40 helicopters, 269 tanks, 945 armoured vehicles, 105 artillery systems, 409 vehicles, and 60 fuel tanks were destroyed, and three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were also disabled.

Blinken pledges more aid for Ukraine refugees  

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has praised Poland for its open embrace of hundreds of thousands of fleeing Ukrainians.

Washington was preparing to set aside another $2.75 billion for the humanitarian crisis, he added.  

“The people of Poland know how important it is to defend freedom,” he said after talks with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in Rzeszow, near the border with Ukraine. 

“Poland is doing vital work in response to this crisis.” 

Türkiye: Ukraine humanitarian ceasefire should be country-wide 

The humanitarian ceasefires declared by Russia in two Ukrainian cities should be country-wide and the corridors for evacuations and aid shipments must be opened across the country, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said. 

Speaking at a news conference in Azerbaijani capital Baku, Cavusoglu also said that the ceasefire should be made lasting, adding that Ankara was working to evacuate its citizens in Ukraine by bus and train. 

German broadcasters ARD, ZDF stop reporting from Russia 

German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF have said they were stopping their reporting from Russia after Moscow backed the imposition of jail terms on media publishing “false information” about the military. 

In response to the new legislation the broadcasters would “suspend their reporting from their Moscow bureau for the time being”, they said in a statement, following similar decisions by other news media including BBC News and Bloomberg News. 

Ukraine: Mariupol evacuation delayed by Russian ceasefire violations

Officials in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian forces, have said they are delaying an evacuation of the civilian population, accusing Moscow’s troops of breaking a ceasefire.

“Due to the fact that the Russian side does not adhere to the ceasefire and has continued shelling both of Mariupol itself and its environs and for security reasons, the evacuation of the civilian population has been postponed,” city officials said in a statement on social media.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych also said Russia was not observing an agreed ceasefire in certain areas, thwarting a joint plant to allow civilians to evacuate from front line cities.

Meanwhile, Russian defence ministry has accused Ukrainian “nationalists” of preventing civilians from leaving the areas. Russian forces had come under fire after it had set up the humanitarian corridors during a partial ceasefire, it added.

UK: Russian strikes in Ukraine lessen over past 24 hours

The rate of Russian air and artillery strikes in Ukraine over the past 24 hours has been lower than in previous days but Russian forces are believed to be advancing in the south of the country, Britain has said in an intelligence update.

“Ukraine continues to hold the key cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol,” the British defence ministry said on Twitter. “There have been reports of street fighting in Sumy. It is highly likely that all four cities are encircled by Russian forces.”

The ministry said Russian forces were probably advancing on the southern port city of Mykolaiv and there was a realistic possibility that some forces would attempt to circumvent the city to prioritise their advance towards Odessa.

Ukraine exodus reaches 1.45 million: UN agency 

The International Organization for Migration has said the number of people who have left Ukraine since fighting began has now reached 1.45 million.

The UN migration agency, citing figures from government ministries in countries where they have arrived, said that 787,300 of them went to Poland. Some 228,700 fled to Moldova, 144,700 to Hungary, 132,600 to Romania and 100,500 to Slovakia.

The IOM said that nationals of 138 countries have crossed Ukraine’s borders into neighbouring nations.

Kremlin: Needed ‘harsh’ fake news law due to ‘information war’

The Kremlin has defended new legislation that could see people jailed for up to 15 years for publishing “fake news” about the Russian military, saying the country was facing “an information war”.

“The law was necessary and needed urgently because of the unprecedented — not even campaign — but information war that has been unleashed against our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, underscoring that a “harsh” law was required under the circumstances.

Peskov added that the West was behaving like bandits but that Russia was far too big to be isolated as the world was much larger than just the United States and Europe.

The UK urges its nationals to consider leaving Russia

Britain has urged its nationals to consider leaving Russia after Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine.

“If your presence in Russia is not essential, we strongly advise that you consider leaving by remaining commercial routes,” the British government said in a statement.

Italy seizes oligarchs’ villas and yachts in initial sweep

Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth at least $153 million (140 million euros) from four high-profile Russians who were placed on an EU sanctions list following Moscow’s attack on Ukraine.

A police source said a villa owned by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, and a villa on Lake Como owned by state TV host Vladimir Soloviev, had both been seized.

In addition, sources confirmed that yachts belonging to Russia’s richest man, Alexey Mordashov, and Gennady Timchenko, who has close tied with Russian President Putin, were impounded overnight in the northern Italian port of Imperia.

Ukraine claims it shot down Russian army helicopter

Ukrainian forces have shot down a Russian army helicopter, the country’s Defence Ministry has claimed.

The ministry’s Twitter feed showed a helicopter flying over a field being shot down. The helicopter caught fire after the strike, followed by a large explosion.

“This is how the Russian occupiers are dying. This time in a helicopter! Glory to Ukraine an d its defenders! Together to victory!” said the statement on Twitter.

UK to streamline sanctioning Russian oligarchs

Britain is to make it easier to sanction Russian oligarchs and align those sanctions with the European Union and the US over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the government said on Saturday.

The UK has been criticised for not doing enough to clamp down on oligarchs’ ill-gotten gains which are frequently invested in luxury real estate in London, a popular destination.

Amendments will be introduced to the Economic Crimes bill, which the government now wants to be passed by the lower House of Commons on Monday, “to crack down on corrupt elites and ramp up pressure on (President Vladimir) Putin’s regime”, a statement said.

Zara owner Inditex halts trading in Russia

Spanish fashion retailer Inditex has halted trading in Russia, closing its 502 shops and stopping online sales, the company said in a statement to the Spanish regulator.

“In the current circumstances Inditex cannot guarantee the continuity of the operations and commercial conditions in the Russian Federation and temporarily suspends its activity”, the Zara owner company said.

Russia accounts for around 8.5 percent of the group’s global EBIT, Inditex added.

Russia reports ceasefire in two areas of Ukraine

Russia’s defence ministry has announced a ceasefire to allow residents of two besieged areas, including the strategic port city of Mariupol, to evacuate – the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement that it had agreed on evacuation routes with Ukrainian forces to allow civilians to leave the strategic port of Mariupol in the southeast and the eastern town of Volnovakha “from 8AM GMT (10AM Moscow time).”

A top official in Mariupol said the cease-fire there is to last until 14:00 GMT (4PM) and an evacuation along a humanitarian corridor would begin at 09:00 GMT (11AM).

Russia continues broad offensive in Ukraine: RIA

Russian troops continue a broad offensive in Ukraine, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.

The ministry confirmed that its units have stopped firing and opened humanitarian corridors near the cities of Volnovakha and Mariupol which were encircled by Russian troops.

Russian forces accused of ‘not observing’ full ceasefire

The city council of Ukraine’s Mariupol city has said Russian forces were not observing an agreed ceasefire along the whole length of a planned route for the evacuation of civilians that was due to take place.

“We are negotiating with the Russian side to confirm the ceasefire along the entire evacuation route,” it said in a statement.

Russia's decision to instigate a temporary ceasefire is the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.
Russia’s decision to instigate a temporary ceasefire is the first breakthrough in allowing civilians to escape the war.
(Reuters Archive)

Türkiye’s President Erdogan to speak to Russia’s Putin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will speak to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to discuss the war in Ukraine, spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has said.

US, Germany, Netherlands to deploy more military in Lithuania

Germany is set to deploy air defence capabilities to Lithuania and the United States will send a troop battalion armed with tanks, Lithuania’s defence minister has said.

The deployments, which are also due to include more troops from the Netherlands, are separate to troops coming for military exercises Lithuania is set to host in March, Arvydas Anusauskas told reporters.

The deployments and exercises will increase the total number of foreign NATO troops in Lithuania to 4,000 by end-March from 3,000 now, the minister said. 

Ukraine will import gas from Poland

From March 6, Ukraine will be able to import gas from Poland, including gas from Polish LNG terminals, Ukrainian state-run gas transit system operator has said.

The two transit operators agreed on the introduction of guaranteed capacity for gas imports and “this allows the physical import of gas from Poland, including from the LNG terminal, on a guaranteed basis”, Ukrainian company said on social media.

Ukraine, one of Europe’s biggest gas consumers, has not imported gas from Russia since 2015 and buys it in Europe.

Russia, Belarus suspended from Council of Baltic Sea States

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

“This decision is a part of the European Union’s and like-minded partners response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the involvement of Belarus in this unprovoked and unjustified aggression,” it said.

“The EU agrees with the other members of the CBSS (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden) that the suspension of Russia and Belarus will remain in force until it is possible to resume cooperation based on respect for fundamental principles of international law,” it added. 

France works to secure Ukraine nuclear sites

The office of President Emmanuel Macron has announced that France will soon propose concrete measures to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s five main nuclear sites after a Russian attack on a nuclear plant sparked a fire, briefly raising worldwide fears of a catastrophe.

The safeguards will be drawn up on the basis of International Atomic Energy Agency criteria, a statement from the French presidency said.

The statement said Macron is “extremely concerned about the risks to nuclear safety, security and the implementation of international safeguards resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Russia central bank tells exporters not to sell FX earnings

Russia’s central bank has told the country’s exporters they need not sell foreign currency earnings as the Moscow Exchange is closed.

Russia told companies on February 28 they must convert 80 percent of their foreign currency revenues on the domestic market, part of measures to support the rouble currency after Western countries imposed sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

PayPal shuts down its services in Russia

Payments company PayPal Holdings Inc has shut down its services in Russia, joining many financial and tech companies in suspending operations there after the invasion of Ukraine.

“Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia,” President and Chief Executive Dan Schulman said in a statement, adding the company “stands with the international community in condemning Russia’s violent military aggression in Ukraine.”

A company spokesperson said PayPal will support withdrawals “for a period of time, ensuring that account balances are dispersed in line with applicable laws and regulations.”

Over 66,200 Ukrainian men return from abroad to fight

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that 66,224 Ukrainian men returned from abroad to join the fight against Russia’s invasion.

“That’s how many men returned from abroad at this moment to defend their country from the horde. These are 12 more combat and motivated brigades! Ukrainians, we are invincible,” Reznikov said in an online post. 

Two Turkish humanitarian aid planes still stranded in Ukraine

Two A400M Turkish aircrafts which arrived in Ukraine the day the war began to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate Turkish citizens are still waiting at the airport.

“Two planes are currently waiting at Boryspil Airport due to the closure of the airspace after we got there. We continue our contacts with both Russia and Ukraine on this issue,” Türkiye’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.

Noting that efforts are continuing to bring the planes back to Türkiye safely if there is a ceasefire, Akar said: “Our aircrew are currently staying at our embassy. We will evacuate our planes at the first opportunity. We will also evacuate our citizens to Türkiye, if possible.”

Haas F1 terminates contract with Russian racer Mazepin

Russian driver Nikita Mazepin will not race in Formula One this season after US-owned Haas said it has terminated the driver’s contract.

“Haas F1 team has elected to terminate with immediate effect, the title partnership of Uralkali, and the driver contract of Nikita Mazepin,” the team said in a statement on their website.

The team also ended its title sponsorship deal with Russian potash producer Uralkali, owned by Mazepin’s father.

Ukrainian port city Mariupol ‘blockaded’ by Russian forces

Ukraine’s strategic port city of Mariupol is under a “blockade” by Russian forces after days of “ruthless” attacks, its mayor has reported, calling for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

“For now, we are looking for solutions to humanitarian problems and all possible ways to get Mariupol out of the blockade,” said Vadim Boychenko in a message posted to the mayor’s Telegram account.

Capturing Mariupol would give Moscow’s invasion a strategic advantage by connecting it to the Russian forces coming from annexed Crimea, which have already taken the key ports of Berdiansk and Kherson, as well as to the troops in the Donbass.

Capturing Mariupol entails a strategic advantage by connecting Russia to its forces coming from annexed Crimea.
Capturing Mariupol entails a strategic advantage by connecting Russia to its forces coming from annexed Crimea.
(Reuters Archive)

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy to address US Senate

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to talk to US senators on a video conference call after an invitation from the Ukrainian embassy, a US legislative aide said.

The meeting will be the first time lawmakers have talked to the Ukrainian president since Russia invaded his country. All senators are invited to the call, according to an anonymous source familiar with the invitation.

Hundreds in Tokyo protest Russian invasion

Hundreds of people have marched in Tokyo protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The crowd shouted, “Stop war. Protect lives.” Some held signs that read: “We stand with Ukraine.” 

Others held images of Russian President Vladimir Putin with the words: “Stop Putin.”

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine continue unchanged

Russian state gas company Gazprom has been continuing its natural gas shipments to Europe via Ukraine in the same volume, Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency reported.

RIA cited Ukraine’s pipeline operator company for the shipments of 109.5 million cubic metres per day.

Starlink told by governments to block Russian news: Musk

SpaceX chief Elon Musk has said its Starlink satellite broadband service was told by some governments, other than Ukraine, to block Russian news sources.

“We will not do so unless at ‘gunpoint’, sorry to be a free speech absolutist”, he said in a tweet.

Earlier this week, the SpaceX chief warned that there is a high chance that its Starlink could be “targeted” in Ukraine.

Singapore sanctions Russia over ‘unprovoked attack’

Singapore has announced sanctions against Russia that include four banks and an export ban on electronics, computers and military items, in a rare move by the Asian financial hub.

“We cannot accept the Russian government’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another sovereign state,” its foreign ministry said in a statement, which gave no timeframe for when the sanctions would take effect.

“For a small state like Singapore, this is not a theoretical principle, but a dangerous precedent. This is why Singapore has strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack,” the ministry said, adding it would not allow export of items that could inflict harm on or subjugate Ukrainians, or help Russia launch cyber attacks.

S&P downgrades Belarus’s sovereign ratings to ‘CCC’

S&P has cut Belarus’s long-term foreign and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to “CCC” from “B” and placed it on “credit watch” with negative implications, citing country’s involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“International sanctions imposed on Belarus due to its involvement in Russia’s military intervention against Ukraine are severe, and we expect them to tighten further,” the agency said.

Absent an unforeseen positive development, S&P considers it likely that Belarus will de fault over the next 12 months and also lowered the short-term ratings to “C” from “B”.

Türkiye evacuates more than 11,000 citizens from Ukraine

The number of Turkish nationals evacuated from Ukraine has reached 11,024, Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

310 additional citizens also set off from Ukraine. 148 are coming to Türkiye from Kiev, Dnipro and Kharkiv via train, while 162 arrived by bus from Odessa, Lviv, Vinnytsia, and Khmelnytskyi, according to Cavusoglu.

More than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.

UNSC to hold emergency meeting over Ukraine

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Monday on the humanitarian crisis triggered in Ukraine by the Russian invasion, diplomats have said.

After this public session, the 15 members of the council will confer behind closed doors to discuss a possible draft resolution, a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP.

This latter meeting has been proposed by Mexico and France, who are pushing a draft that calls for an end to hostilities in Ukraine, unhindered flow of humanitarian aid and protection of civilians.

But it has run into obstacles, namely a warning from the United States that it will not support such a draft unless it states explicitly that Russia has caused the humanitarian crisis, another diplomat told AFP.

France originally wanted a vote last Tuesday but it did not happen.

Now, diplomats say France has shifted and in light of US criticism is no longer pushing for a vote as quickly as before.

Any draft resolution that criticises Russia by name is doomed because Russia has veto power on the Security Council.

Any draft resolution that criticises Russia by name is doomed because Russia has veto power on the UN Security Council.
Any draft resolution that criticises Russia by name is doomed because Russia has veto power on the UN Security Council.

Russia’s Shoygu, UN chief discuss Ukraine, humanitarian corridor

Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu discussed the situation in Ukraine with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres via telephone.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement that Shoygu informed Guterres about Russia’s motives to start a special military operation, citing “Ukraine’s unwillingness to implement the Minsk Agreement for 8 years, infiltration of people with neo-Nazi views in army and state bodies, shelling of Donbas regions.”

In addition, last year Western countries significantly increased arms deliveries to Ukraine, “preparing Kiev to resolve the conflict by force,” said Shoygu.

“The support of Western countries inspired Kiev to such an extent that it announced claims to possess nuclear weapons. The meaning of Ukraine’s existence has become hostile opposition to Russia, through the efforts of the West, it has turned into a territory from which a serious threat to Russia’s security emanates,” he said.

Shoygu reassured Guterres that Russian armed forces use “only high-precision weapons, and only to disable the military infrastructure.”

“The Russian army does not threaten civilians, does not fire at civilian objects, and fully complies with the requirements of international humanitarian law,” said Shoygu.

The Russian defence minister told the UN chief that “nationalist and neo-Nazi formations, in which there are also foreign mercenaries, use civilians as a human shield,” place tanks, artillery, mortars and multiple launch rocket systems in residential areas, drawing response fire at peaceful people.

Shoygu also asked Guterres to urge Ukrainian authorities to create human corridors for foreigners, including students, who were “taken hostage by neo-Nazis.”

US calls Russia’s nuclear facility attack ‘war crime’

The US Embassy in Ukraine said that attacking a nuclear power plant is a war crime after Russia seized a Ukrainian nuclear facility that is the biggest in Europe.

The statement on the embassy’s Twitter account went further than any US characterisation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine since it launched its invasion on Feb. 24.

“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” US Embassy Kiev said in its post.

Russia’s defense ministry blamed a fire at the plant on a “monstrous attack” by Ukrainian saboteurs and said its forces were in control.

Rights groups have alleged violations of international war crimes law in Ukraine, including the targeting of civilians, as well as indiscriminate attacks on schools and hospitals.

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy slams NATO for failing to create ‘no-fly zone’

In a bitter and emotional speech, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticised NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it will fully untie Russia’s hands as it escalates its attack from the air.

“All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness, because of your lack of unity,” he said in a nighttime address. 

“The alliance has given the green light to the bombing of Ukrainian cities and villages by refusing to create a no-fly zone.”

On Friday, NATO refused to impose a no-fly zone, warning that to do so could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.

“All that the alliance was able to do today was to pass through its procurement system 50 tons of diesel fuel for Ukraine. Perhaps so we could burn the Budapest Memorandum,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the 1994 security guarantees given to Ukraine in exchange for the withdrawal of its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.

“You will not be able to pay us off with liters of fuel for the liters of our blood, shed for our common Europe.”

He said Ukrainians will continue to resist and have already destroyed Russia’s plans for a lightning invasion “having endured nine days of darkness and evil.”

“We are warriors of light,” he said. “The history of Europe will remember this forever.”

Kamala Harris to visit Eastern Europe amid Russian invasion

The White House has announced that US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Poland and Romania next week to meet with officials to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine and impact the war is having on the region.

Harris’ agenda for the March 9 to 11 visit to Warsaw and Bucharest is expected to center on economic, security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.

“The Vice President’s meetings will also focus on how the United States can further support Uk raine’s neighbors as they welcome and care for refugees fleeing violence,” said the vice president’s deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh.

President Joe Biden spoke on Friday with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.

Poland is assisting about 700,000 Ukrainians and others who have fled the war so far. The United States has also more than doubled its military presence in Poland, which is a member of NATO, to 9,000 troops in recent weeks.

For live updates from Friday (March 4) click 👉🏽 here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

https://www.trtworld.com/europe/live-blog-ukraine-says-russia-has-lost-over-10k-troops-55283?utm_source=other&utm_medium=rss Ukraine says Russia has lost over 10K troops

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