Russia demands Kiev residents flee their homes and rains rockets on second largest Kharkiv city as Ukraine fights back in a war that has entered its seventh day. Here are the latest updates:

A military truck and tank are seen on a street of Kherson, Ukraine March 1, 2022.
A military truck and tank are seen on a street of Kherson, Ukraine March 1, 2022. (Reuters)

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Ukraine says Kherson battle still being waged

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office has said fighting is still occurring around the port city of Kherson, which Russian officials have said is in their "complete control."

Zelenskyy's office told The Associated Press that it could not comment on the situation there while the battle was still being waged.

But the mayor of Kherson, Igor Kolykhaev, said Russian soldiers were in the city and came to the city administration building. He said he asked them not to shoot civilians and to allow them to gather up the bodies from the streets.

"I simply asked them not to shoot at people," Mayor Igor Kolykhaev said in a statement. "We don’t have any Ukrainian forces in the city, only civilians and people here who want to LIVE."

Kherson, a city of 300,000, is strategically located on the banks of the Dnieper River near where it flows into the Black Sea. If Russian troops take the city, they could unblock a water canal and restore water supplies to the Crimean Peninsula.

The battle in the Kherson region began last Thursday, the first day of the invasion, and by the next day, the Russian forces were able to take a bridge that connects the city with the territory on the western bank.

Zelensky also said his country had thwarted Russia's "sneaky" plans, saying he was proud of the "heroic" resistance to Moscow's invasion.

"We are a nation that broke the enemy's plans in a week. Plans written for years: sneaky, full of hatred for our country, our people," Zelenskyy said in a video posted on Telegram.

ICC to start 'active' probe into war crimes in Ukraine

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor has opened an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in Ukraine dating back to 2013, but also covering the conflict sparked by Russia's invasion.

Prosecutor Karim Khan said he launched the probe after 39 of the court's member states requested an investigation, a process known as a referral.

"These referrals enable my Office to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards, thereby encompassing within its scope any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person," Khan said in a statement.

"Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced," he added.

Mayor of Ukraine's Kherson city says Russian troops in streets

The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Kherson, Igor Kolykhayev has said Russian troops were in the streets and had forced their way into the city council building.

Ukraine's government had earlier played down reports that Kherson had fallen into Russian hands, which would be the first sizeable city to do so since the invasion began last week.

Kolykhayev urged Russian soldiers not to shoot at civilians and publicly called on civilians to walk through the streets only in daylight and in ones and twos.

"We do not have the Armed Forces in the city, only civilians and people who want to LIVE here!" he said in a statement.

A Russian official said troops have taken the Ukrainian port city of Kherson.

The city is under Russian soldiers' "complete control," Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said.

He said that the city's civilian infrastructure, essential facilities and transport are operating as usual and that there are no shortages of food or essential goods.

Konashenkov said talks between the Russian commanders, city administrations and regional authorities on how to maintain order in the city were under way.

US slams Russia's nuclear saber-rattling as 'height of irresponsibility'

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken has called President Vladimir Putin's "provocative" nuclear rhetoric "the height of irresponsibility", days after the Russian leader put his strategic forces on alert after invading Ukraine.

"It's dangerous. It adds to the risk of miscalculation. It needs to be avoided," Blinken told a press briefing in Washington.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said meanwhile that the United States had postponed a planned test launch of a ballistic missile so as not to exacerbate tensions.

"In an effort to demonstrate that we have no intention in engaging in any actions that can be misunderstood or misconstrued, the secretary of defence has directed that our Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch scheduled for this week be postponed," Kirby said.

"We did not take this decision lightly, but instead to demonstrate that we are a responsible nuclear power," he said.

"We recognise at this moment of tension how critical it is that both the United States and Russia bear in mind the risk of miscalculation and take steps to reduce those risks."

Moscow: 498 Russian troops killed in Ukraine

The spokesperson of the Russian Defence Ministry has said 498 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine and 1,597 more sustained wounds.

Ukraine maintains the number is far higher, with a military adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy putting the figure at 7,000.

But Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov rejected reports about “incalculable losses” of the Russians as “disinformation”. 

He assured that families of those killed are receiving all necessary assistance.

Moscow had previously admitted to losses but without giving any numbers.

Konashenkov also said neither conscripts, nor cadets have been involved in the operation in Ukraine, dismissing media reports alleging otherwise.

Konashenkov said more than 2,870 Ukrainian troops have been killed and some 3,700 more sustained injuries, while 572 others have been captured by the Russians.

UNGA 'demands' Russia withdraw from Ukraine

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that "demands" Russia "immediately" withdraw from Ukraine. 

After more than two days of debate, 141 out of 193 member states voted for the non-binding resolution. 

China was among the 35 countries which abstained, while just five — Eritrea, North Korea, Syria, Belarus and of course Russia — voted against it.

The resolution "deplores" the invasion of Ukraine "in the strongest terms" and condemns President Vladimir Putin's decision to put his nuclear forces on alert.

It is seen as a powerful rebuke of Moscow by the global body charged with peace and security.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the General Assembly's message was "loud and clear."

"As bad as the situation is for the people in Ukraine right now, it threatens to get much, much worse. The ticking clock is a time bomb."

Ceasefire talks at Belarus-Poland border on Thursday

Russia and Ukraine will discuss a ceasefire at upcoming talks on the border between Poland and Belarus, Moscow's chief negotiator has said.

"The Ukrainian delegation has already left Kiev. We expect them to be here tomorrow morning," Vladimir Medinsky said on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian presidency confirmed its delegation was "on its way" to the venue of the talks.

Four Russian fighter jets 'violate Swedish airspace'

The Swedish Armed Forces have said four Russian fighter jets had entered Sweden's air space to the east of the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

"Against the background of the current situation we are taking the incident very seriously," Chief of Sweden's Air Force Carl-Johan Edstrom said in a statement.

It added that the "violation" was brief but that Swedish jets had been scrambled to document the incursion.

Ukraine says 21 killed in attack on Kharkiv

A Ukrainian official has said the advance of Russian troops in Kharkiv has been stopped, but that Russians have responded by shelling the city with heavy rocket launchers and air attacks.

“Kharkiv today is the Stalingrad of the 21st century,” said Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Oleg Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said over the past 24 hours 21 people were killed and at least 112 were injured by Russians.

Russia 'more aggressive' in targeting infrastructure in Kiev

Russian forces appear to have become more aggressive in their targeting of infrastructure inside Kiev, which has seen an increase of missiles and artillery strikes, a senior US official has said.

"We've observed, certainly as you have all observed, an increase in missiles and artillery that (is) targeting the city and this (increasing) aggressiveness in terms of just the iron that they're lobbing into the city," the official said.

The official said 450 missiles had been launched against Ukrainian targets over the past seven days by Russian forces.

US envoy to UN says Russia moving cluster munitions

The United States ambassador to the United Nations has accused Russia of moving cluster munitions and other arms banned under the Geneva Convention into Ukraine.

"It appears Russia is preparing to increase the brutality of its campaign against Ukraine," Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the United Nations General Assembly.

"We have seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine, which has no place on the battlefield."

"That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs — which are banned under the Geneva Convention."

Meanwhile, Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations accused Russia of seeking to commit genocide in his country.

"They have come to deprive Ukraine of the very right to exist," Sergiy Kyslytsya told the Assembly ahead of a vote on a resolution demanding Russia withdraw its forces.

Dozens detained at anti-war rallies in Russia

Dozens of anti-war demonstrators have been detained in Moscow and Saint Petersburg after jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called on Russians to protest President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Police in Putin's hometown of Saint Petersburg violently dispersed protesters and detained around 100 people, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

In Moscow, law enforcement closed off Red Square near the Kremlin and detained at least seven people who gathered while loudspeakers warned people from convening.

The demonstrations came hours after Navalny called for daily rallies against the military assault, saying Russia should not be a "nation of frightened cowards" and calling Putin "an insane little tsar".

Putin speaks by phone with India's Modi

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken by phone with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, TASS news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying.

They discussed the evacuation of Indian citizens from Ukraine.

India joined China and the United Arab Emirates last week in abstaining on a draft UN Security Council resolution, vetoed by Russia, that would have deplored its actions in Ukraine.

Putin, Israel's Bennett discuss Ukraine: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have discussed Moscow's military operation in Ukraine in a phone call initiated by the Israeli side, the Kremlin said.

Putin told Bennett that taking into account Moscow's security interests was among the key conditions for settling the conflict, the Kremlin said. 

The two leaders agreed to continue personal contacts.

US task force to pursue 'corrupt Russian oligarchs'

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced the launch of a multi-agency task force to pursue "corrupt Russian oligarchs" and violators of sanctions imposed on Russia.

"The Justice Department will use all of its authorities to seize the assets of individuals and entities who violate these sanctions," Garland said in a statement announcing the launch of "Task Force KleptoCapture."

"We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war," Garland said.

The United States has also announced more sanctions, this time targeting Russian ally Belarus and Russia's defence industry.

The White House unveiled "sweeping restrictions on Belarus to choke off its import of technological goods in response to its support" of Russia's war.

It also announced "sanctions that target Russia's defence sector" to "impose significant costs on Russian weapon development and production companies".

Czechs halt visas for Belarusians 

The Czech government has said it will stop issuing visas for Belarusians, except in humanitarian cases, over Belarus's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.

"We have taken the same measure concerning visas (for Belarusians) as we had vis-a-vis Russia," Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky told reporters.

The EU and NATO member of 10.7 million people stopped issuing visas for Russians on February 25, a day after Russia had invaded Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Malta has said it will temporarily stop giving citizenship and residency to Russians and Belarusians, suspending the so-called "golden passports" scheme for wealthy investors.

Russia wants list of weapons that can't be deployed in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Moscow remains committed to the demilitarisation of Ukraine.

"Specific types of strike weapons must be identified which will never be deployed in Ukraine and will not be created," Lavrov said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

Lavrov said Russia recognised President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as Ukraine's leader and welcomed as a "positive step" the fact that Zelenskyy wanted to receive security guarantees.

"Our negotiators are ready for the second round of discussing these guarantees with Ukrainian representatives," he said.

Zelenskyy said in an interview on Tuesday that Russia needed to halt its bombing of Ukraine before further talks could take place. He called for security guarantees, but from NATO and not from Russia.

Nothing off the table: Biden on Russian oil ban

US President Joe Biden has said "nothing is off the table" when asked if the United States would ban Russian oil and gas after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the United States is "very open" to imposing sanctions on Russia's oil and gas industry at a time when global oil prices touched eight-year highs and supply disruptions mounted.

The administration is, however, considering how it could rattle the markets, she said.

Although the United States has not yet targeted Russian oil sales as part of its sweeping economic sanctions following the invasion, US traders have already acted to put such imports on hold, disrupting energy markets.

UN: Nearly 875,000 refugees have fled Ukraine 

The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 875,000, UN figures have showed.

In all, 874,026 people have fled across the country's borders, according to the website of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

That marks a huge jump of around 200,000 from the 677,000 announced almost 24 hours earlier by UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.

UNHCR figures on Wednesday show 454,000 had fled to Poland; 116,000 to Hungary; 79,000 to Moldova; 67,000 to Slovakia; 45,000 to Romania, 43,000 to Russia, and 350 to Belarus.

Meanwhile 70,000 have gone to other European countries.

"There is a clear indication that many more people are on the move," UNHCR, which projects over four million Ukrainian refugees may eventually need help, said.

The UN has launched an emergency appeal for $1.7 billion to provide urgent humanitarian aid to people caught up in the Russian invasion and for the refugees fleeing the violence.

The European Union has said it is ready to financially support Ukrainian refugees and countries hosting them.

Ukraine asks Russian mothers to fetch captured troops

Ukraine has invited mothers of Russian troops captured on the battlefield to come and collect their sons, in an apparent attempt to embarrass Moscow.

"A decision has been taken to hand over captured Russian troops to their mothers if they come to collect them in Ukraine, in Kiev," the defence ministry said in a statement.

Arms control critical: Türkiye at UN

Cooperation in arms control and disarmament has become even more crucial as Europe faces its worst crisis since the Cold War, Türkiye's deputy foreign minister has said.

Speaking on the second day of a meeting of the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD), which has 65 member states, Sedat Onal reiterated Türkiye's support for Ukraine's "sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political unity".

"We are now facing the worst security crisis in Europe after the Cold War," Onal said. "Agreements and commitments that once contributed to our collective security are being challenged."

He also said that the re-emergence of the use of chemical weapons is a cause for grave concern.

"The Syrian regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons, as confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," he added.

War's impact on US economy 'highly uncertain': Fed's Powell

The impact of the Ukraine conflict on the US economy is "highly uncertain," and the central bank will need to adjust quickly to ensure the post-pandemic recovery continues, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has said.

With prices rising at the fastest pace in four decades and oil soaring above $100 a barrel due to the war, the Fed chief repeated that policymakers are ready to raise interest rates to tamp down inflation.

"The near-term effects on the US economy of the invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing war, the sanctions, and of events to come, remain highly uncertain," he said in his semi-annual testimony to Congress.

"We will be monitoring the situation closely."

UN urges countries to open borders to Africans

The UN refugee agency has urged authorities in countries neighbouring Ukraine to open their borders to African citizens amid reports that some were being denied access to safety.

Thousands of African and other foreign nationals, particularly students, have been scrambling to leave Ukraine since Russia's invasion.

Videos and testimonies have been circulating on social media complaining of discrimination against Africans at train stations and border posts.

Buchizya Mseteka, a South Africa-based UNHCR spokesperson, said: "UNHCR is aware and is very concerned about reports of racial profiling, we're aware of many of these reports, we're following up and where possible we've made interventions."

"Our position is that irrespective of nationality and race, people seeking protection should be allowed to seek safety and to leave the country."

India tells citizens to leave Kharkiv

India has asked its nationals to leave Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv by Wednesday evening, based on information that Indian authorities have received from Russia.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Indian nationals have been advised to move to three safe zones some 15 kilometres (9 miles) away.

Bagchi declined to give details about what information New Delhi had received from Russia. 

Bagchi also said nearly 17,000 Indian nationals, mostly students, out of an estimated 20,000, have left Ukraine.

Everton scraps agreements with Russian billionaire

English Premier League club Everton have "suspended with immediate effect" sponsorship agreements with several firms in which Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has a stake.

"The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota," said an Everton statement.

Uzbek-born Usmanov's USM Holdings sponsors Everton's training ground, with an initial five-year deal announced in 2017.

The 68-year-old Usmanov, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already had his assets frozen by the European Union as part of sanctions imposed in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Russian athletes allowed to compete at Winter Paralympics

Russian and Belarusian athletes have been given the all-clear to compete at the upcoming Winter Paralympics, which open this week under the shadow of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged sporting federations across the world to exclude athletes from Russia as well as Belarus, which hosted troops before the invasion.

But on Wednesday the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) held a meeting and posted a brief statement saying athletes from the two countries would be allowed to compete as "neutrals".

"They will compete under the Paralympic flag and not be included in the medal table," the committee said.

IPC president Andrew Parsons said: "Unlike their respective governments these athletes and officials are not aggressors."

EU sanctions 22 Belarus officers 

The European Union has imposed sanctions on 22 senior Belarusian military officers over Minsk's role in aiding Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The six generals and 16 colonels were added to the EU blacklist because "Belarus is participating in a Russian unprovoked invasion against Ukraine by allowing military aggression from its territory," the official sanction document said.

The blacklist bans travel into the bloc and imposes asset freezes.

The EU has also said it is imposing fresh economic sanctions on Belarus, on top of extra measures announced against the country.

The 27-nation bloc said it was toughening sanctions targeting key sectors of the Belarusian economy, cutting off the country's major export, potash fertiliser, and hitting more key sectors.

Those included wood products, cement, iron and steel and rubber, and tighter curbs on dual-use good that could be used by its military.

Over 2,000 civilians killed: Kiev

The Russian invasion has killed more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians, Ukraine's emergency service has said.

"Children, women and defence forces are losing their lives every hour," it said in a statement.

It said Russian attacks destroyed hundreds of structures including transport facilities, hospitals, kindergartens and homes.

Kherson has not fallen: Ukraine

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russia did not capture Kherson, a southern port city that Moscow had earlier said it had seized.

Oleksiy Arestovych said fighting continued for the provincial capital of around a quarter of a million people, which sits at the Dnipro river's exit into the Black Sea.

"The city has not fallen, our side continues to defend," Arestovych told a live briefing broadcast on the website of the president's office. "Fighting in the streets continues."

The Russians are also pressing their assault on other towns and cities, including capital Kiev and second largest city Kharkiv, as well as the strategic ports of Odesa and Mariupol in the south.

Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko said the city was suffering mass casualties and a water outage as it defends itself. 

"The enemy occupying forces of the Russian Federation have done everything to block the exit of civilians from the city of half a million people," he said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV.

Kiev asks Pope to talk to Putin about humanitarian corridors

Ukraine has asked the Pope to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin about allowing humanitarian corridors to assist civilians affected by the war.

"I hope the conversation will take place," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on live Ukrainian TV.

Russian deputy PM: Difficult to foresee scope of sanctions

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov has said the full scope of Western sanctions on the Russian economy is difficult to predict, a rare deviation from Moscow's line that Russia was comfortably prepared to withstand any shocks.

"The full extent and depth of the current sanctions against the Russian economy were difficult to predict," the Interfax news agency quoted Borisov as saying.

"But we had been working on various mechanisms to support industries, including the defence sector, and conducting stress tests."

He said Russia had been working to reduce import dependency since 2014, when sanctions were imposed against Moscow for its annexation of Crimea, and said a lot had been achieved, especially in areas related to defence and security.

UK calls Putin a war criminal, urges UN vote against invasion

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal and urged UN unanimity to condemn his invasion of Ukraine.

His comments came in parliament, where MPs gave a standing ovation to Ukraine's ambassador in attendance.

Johnson wore a UK-Ukraine flag pin, and many lawmakers wore clothing in Ukraine's blue and yellow colours.

"What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin's regime, in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime," Johnson said.

Johnson warned of further sanctions if the offensive continues, reprising a new three-word slogan: "Putin must fail".

Spain to send 'military hardware' to Ukraine

Spain will supply weapons directly to Ukraine following Russia's invasion, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said. 

His remarks came two days after Madrid said it would only contribute via an EU funding mechanism.

The move came after pressure on Sanchez's left-wing coalition government to take a more proactive approach to the war raging on Europe's eastern flank.

"Spain will give the Ukrainian resistance offensive military hardware," said Sanchez, without giving specific details on what that would entail.

Officials aiding Ukrainian refugees 'targeted with malware'

An unidentified state actor is targeting European officials with malicious software in an apparent attempt to disrupt efforts to assist Ukrainian refugees, cybersecurity firm Proofpoint has said.

Proofpoint did not identify the nation state behind the attack, but noted it was anecdotally similar to campaigns carried out by a hacking group dubbed Ghostwriter (also known as TA445 or UNC1151), which has previously been identified as working in the interests of Belarus.

Belarus' embassy in London did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

EU excludes 7 Russian banks from SWIFT under sanctions

The European Union has excluded seven Russian banks from the global SWIFT network, as sanctions are ratcheted up over Moscow's war on Ukraine.

The banks immediately cut out from the network are Russia's second-biggest lender VTB Bank, as well as Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank and VEB (Vnesheconombank).

"At the speed of light, the European Union has adopted three waves of heavy sanctions against Russia's financial system, its high-tech industries and its corrupt elite," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

The list did not name two major Russian banks, Sberbank and Gazprombank, which were left connected to SWIFT to allow EU countries to pay for Russian gas and oil deliveries.

But a senior EU official said the list would be kept "continuously under review".

EU bans broadcasts of Russian state media RT, Sputnik

The European Union has banned broadcasts of Russian state media RT and Sputnik as part of a sweeping package of sanctions.

"Today, we are taking an important step against Putin's manipulation operation and turning off the tap for Russian state-controlled media in the EU," the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

Japan willing to accept Ukrainian refugees

Japan will accept Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia's ongoing invasion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.

Japan typically accepts just a few dozen refugees a year out of thousands of applicants, and its borders are currently closed to virtually all foreign visitors to prevent Covid-19 infections.

But Kishida said the country's move would "demonstrate our solidarity with the Ukrainian people at such a crucial moment."

Kishida said Japan was expected to first accept those with relatives or friends in the country. 

"But beyond that, we will respond from a humanitarian perspective," he added without setting a specific cap on arrivals.

Ukraine-Russia talks to resume on Wednesday: TASS

A second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place on Wednesday, Russia's TASS news agency cited an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as saying.

Russia said it had taken Kherson, the biggest city it has yet seized in Ukraine, while stepping up its lethal bombardment of the main cities that its invasion force has so far failed to capture in the face of strong Ukrainian resistance.

TASS said the adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, was speaking on Ukraine-24 TV.


Kremlin: Ready for more talks today

The Kremlin has said Russian officials are ready to hold a second round of talks with Ukraine but it is not clear if Ukrainian officials will turn up.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there was contradictory information regarding the talks.

Peskov also said Moscow needed to formulate a harsh, thought-out and clear response against measures imposed on Western countries to undermine the Russian economy.

Ukraine: More Russia talks being considered

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has said that holding more talks with Russia is under discussion and that a "substantial agenda" is needed. 

Asked about the date for a second round of talks since Russia invaded its neighbour last week, Podolyak said: "It's under discussion for now. A substantial agenda is needed." 

Russia is massing troops closer to the capital: Kiev mayor

Russia is gathering troops closer and closer to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital's mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote in an online post.

"We are preparing and will defend Kiev!," he added. "Kiev stands and will stand."

EU approves new sanctions against Belarus

European Union diplomats have approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the French Presidency of the EU has said.

EU diplomats approved new sanctions against Belarusian people who are playing a role in the attacks to Ukraine, the French Presidency said on Twitter.

Sanctions will also hit "some economic sectors, and in particular timber, steel and potassium," the statement said.

Russia will not let Ukraine obtain nuclear weapons: Lavrov

Russia will not allow Ukraine to obtain nuclear weapons, TASS news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as saying.

Lavrov also said that if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia metals firm Severstal to stop Europe deliveries

Russian metals company Severstal has said it is halting deliveries in Europe after the EU imposed sanctions on its main shareholder, metals magnate Alexei Mordashov.

"We are redirecting the flows of raw materials to alternative world markets," Russian news agencies quoted the company as saying in a statement.

It said the decision to stop deliveries to the European Union was made "in the framework of sanctions imposed on the shareholder".

Navalny calls for daily anti-war protests in Russia

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has called on Russians to stage daily protests against Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, his spokesperson wrote on Twitter. 

"Alexei Navalny has called for people to go out and protest against the war every day at 19:00 and on weekends at 14:00. The main squares of your towns, wherever you are," spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote.

Spain to send military hardware to ‘Ukraine resistance’

Spain will supply “military hardware” to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has told parliament.

“I... want to announce to you that Spain will deliver offensive military hardware to the Ukrainian resistance,” Sanchez said.

Zelenskyy: Russia wants to erase Ukraine and its history

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow's invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.

Referring to Russia's attack on Babyn Yar - the site of a World War Two massacre of Jews by German occupation troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries - Zelenskyy said: "This strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kiev is absolutely foreign."

"They all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all," he added in the address made on video.

Russia says it captures Ukrainian city of Kherson: RIA

Russia's defence ministry said Russian armed forces have captured the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, RIA news agency has reported.

“The Russian divisions of the armed forces have taken the regional centre of Kherson under full control,” defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks.

However, Kherson's mayor Igor Kolykhaiev said in a post on Facebook: "We are still Ukraine. Still firm."

Belarus boosts security on southern, western borders

Belarus has said it has stepped up security at its western and southern borders as Russia attacks neighbouring Ukraine.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has said earlier that his country had no plans to join Russia's military operation in Ukraine and dismissed Kiev's allegations that Russian troops were attacking Ukraine from Belarusian territory.

Ukraine has enough for current spending: Minister

Ukraine had enough funds to cover all current spending, Finance Minister Sergiy Marchenko has said, noting international support amid Russian invasion of his country. 

"We have huge international support... We carry out all social payments, pensions, salaries and financial support for the army," Marchenko told Ukrainian TV in an interview, adding the ministry would continue issuing domestic war bond

Two Ukrainian footballers killed in war

Two Ukrainian football players were killed in the Russia-Ukraine war, according to the World Players’ Union. 

"Our thoughts are with the families, friends, and teammates of young Ukrainian footballers Vitalii Sapylo (21) and Dmytro Martynenko (25), football’s first reported losses in this war," FIFPRO tweeted.

Sapylo, a former Karpaty Lviv youth player, was killed in conflict near Kyiv, while FC Gostomel midfielder Martynenko was reported to be killed alongside his mother in their apartment when the building was bombed by the Russian army.

Türkiye evacuates over 8,000 Turks, Azerbaijanis

Türkiye has evacuated a total of 8,050 people, mostly Turkish citizens, from Ukraine amid war in the country, the Turkish foreign minister has said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter that 2,604 people, mostly Turkish citizens, including Azerbaijanis, fled the cities of Kiev, Kharkiv, Odessa, Zaporizhia, and Lviv as bombing continues.

“Our plans for the safe evacuation of our citizens continue,” he said, adding that Türkiye is providing border-crossing support for 2,200 people.

UK predicts increasingly brutal approach from Russia's Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine will become more brutal, British defence minister Ben Wallace has said.

"Anyone who thinks logically would not do what he (Putin) is doing, so we are going to see ... his brutality increase," Wallace told LBC radio.

"He doesn't get his way, he surrounds cities, he ruthlessly bombards them at night ... and he will then eventually try and break them and move into the cities."

Russia has right to protect its security: Hezbollah leader

The leader of Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, accused Ukraine and NATO of disregarding the rights of the Russian people, saying Moscow has the right to protect the country’s national security.

"America is responsible for the events taking place in Ukraine. It is the one who instigated and pushed matters in this direction,” Nasrallah said in a speech aired by the group’s Al Manar TV.

The developments in Ukraine are “a lesson for anyone who trusts, relies on, and bets on the United States," he said.

EU Commission proposes temporary residence rights for Ukraine refugees

The European Commission has proposed to grant temporary protection to people fleeing war in Ukraine, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.

Designed to deal with mass arrivals of displaced persons in the EU, the new legislation will provide the same level of protection in all member states.
The proposal, which had been previously announced, will be discussed by EU interior ministers on Thursday.

At least 21 killed, 112 wounded in shelling of Kharkiv

At least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, regional governor Oleg Synegubov has said.

The authorities have said Russian missile attacks hit the centre of Ukraine's second-largest city, including residential areas and the regional administration building.

Over 450,000 people came to Poland

Over 450,000 people entered Poland from Ukraine since a Russian invasion of the country started, Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker told private Radio Zet.

He added that the number of people entering Poland fell slightly on Tuesday to 98,000 from a record number of over 100,000 on Monday.

Russia's largest lender Sberbank quits Europe

Russia's largest lender Sberbank has said it is quitting the European market after coming under pressure from Western sanctions levelled against the state bank in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"In the current environment, Sberbank has decided to withdraw from the European market," the lender said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies. 

The bank's European subsidiaries were facing "abnormal cash outflows and threats to the safety of employees and branches," the statement added.

Google blocks RT, Sputnik from Play app store in Europe

Alphabet Inc's Google has said that it has blocked mobile apps connected to RT and Sputnik from its Play store, in line with an earlier move to remove the Russian state publishers from its news-related features.

RT Deputy Editor-in-chief Anna Belkina said in a statement that technology companies that have cut her outlet's distribution have not pointed to any evidence that it has reported falsehoods.

Train station in Lviv packed with people trying to flee war

The train station in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv has been packed with people trying to flee the country amid its war with Russia.

Many volunteers distributed hot beverages and food to those waiting for trains to take them to safety in Poland.

In the city, where a curfew is being imposed from 10PM to 6AM, many people spend the night gathering around fires lit outside the station.

Around 70 Japanese volunteers to fight for Ukraine

Several dozen Japanese men have answered a Ukrainian call for foreign volunteers to fight Russia's invasion, according to a media report.

70 Japanese men, including 50 former members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and two veterans of the French Foreign Legion, had applied to be volunteers, the Mainichi Shimbun daily said, quoting a Tokyo company handling the volunteers.

A Ukrainian Embassy spokesperson acknowledged receiving calls from people "wanting to fight for Ukraine," but said they knew nothing further about volunteers.

ExxonMobil, Apple, Boeing to cut ties with Moscow

Apple, ExxonMobil and Boeing have announced in rapid succession steps to withdraw or freeze business in Russia as more US corporate giants take action after the Ukraine invasion.

ExxonMobil said it will begin a phased withdrawal from the giant Sakhalin offshore oilfield that it has operated since 1995. 

Earlier, Apple said it would halt all product sales in Russia and limit the use of Apple Pay and other services in the country. Boeing for its part said it was suspending its support for Russian airlines and its operations in Moscow.

Twitter to comply with EU sanctions on Russian state media

Twitter will comply with the European Union's sanctions on Russian state-affiliated media RT and Sputnik when the EU order takes effect, the social network has said.

"The European Union (EU) sanctions will likely legally require us to withhold certain content in EU member states," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

"We intend to comply with the order when it goes into effect."

UN General Assembly set to censure Russia

The United Nations General Assembly has been set to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, a move that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.

Nearly half the 193-member General Assembly signed on as co-sponsors of a draft resolution ahead of a vote, diplomats said. The text "deplores" Russia's "aggression against Ukraine."

No country has a veto in the General Assembly and Western diplomats expect the resolution, which needs two-thirds support, to be adopted.

Russian airborne troops land in Ukraine's second city Kharkiv

Russian airborne troops have landed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian army said, adding that there were immediate clashes.

"Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv... and attacked a local hospital," the army said in a statement on messaging app Telegram. 

"There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians."

Biden: US closing airspace to Russia, going after oligarchs

President Joe Biden has said that the US will join allies to ban Russia's aircraft to use its airspace and branded his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a "dictator" during his State of the Union address, one week after Moscow launched a large-scale military assault on Ukraine.

"A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has cost around the world," Biden told Congress.

But "in the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security," he said.

He said the world has "isolated" Putin for sending Russian forces pouring into Ukraine, vowing that devastating sanctions would "sap" Russia's economic strength and weaken its military.

"Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been," Biden said, adding "he [Putin] has no idea what's coming" in terms of economic penalties and punishment.

The American president also took aim at Russian oligarchs and "corrupt leaders" who he said have bilked billions of dollars off Putin's government, warning them "We're coming for your ill-begotten gains."

Biden vowed that Putin will pay over the long run even if he makes gains on the battlefield in Ukraine.

"While he may make gains on the battlefield – he will pay a continuing high price over the long run," Biden said.

He said the US will release 30 million barrels of oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of an international effort to stabilise the market after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Kiev: Belarus preparing to send troops into Ukraine

Ukraine's Defence Ministry has said it has evidence that Belarus, a Russian ally, is preparing to send troops into Ukraine.

The ministry statement, posted on Facebook at midnight, said the Belarussian troops have been brought into combat readiness and are concentrated close to Ukraine’s northern border.

"During the past 24 hours, according to intelligence findings, there has been significant aircraft activity. In addition, there has been a movement of a column of vehicles with food and ammunition" approaching the border," the statement said.

READ MORE: Is Russia losing the information war in Ukraine?

Mexico won't impose economic sanctions against Russia

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says his government will not impose any economic sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

The president often cites a guiding principle of nonintervention in foreign affairs.

He said Tuesday that "we want to maintain good relations with all the world's governments, and we want to be in a position to be able to speak with all parties to the conflict."

Russian investment in Mexico is estimated at some $132 million and the bilateral trade at more than $2.4 billion.

Lopez Obrador also sounded off on the censoring of some Russian media outlets and called on Twitter to answer accusations that it is removing messages favorable to Russia. 

In his words, "We can’t be speaking of freedom and at the same time limiting freedom of expression."

For live updates from Tuesday (March 1) click 👉🏽 here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies