Live: EU agrees more sanctions as Russia’s Ukraine invasion condemned as ‘brutal act of war’

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A woman holds her baby as she gets on a bus leaving Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

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Russia’s full-blown military invasion of Ukraine brought an international outcry on Thursday with NATO condemning a “brutal act of war” and G7 leaders calling it a “serious threat to international order”.

Brussels and Washington have moved to impose further sanctions on Moscow, targeting finance and business. “Putin chose this war,” said Joe Biden, warning that Russia would bear the consequences.

A day of fighting has seen clashes and casualties reported around the country including near the capital Kyiv. Ukraine has said Russia has taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Civilians have been seen trying to flee major cities.

The assault ordered by Vladimir Putin began overnight, with Russian forces invading Ukraine by land, air and sea. The Russian leader warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen in history”.

World leaders decried the start of a Russian offensive that could cause massive casualties and looks to be designed to topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government.

Follow Thursday’s developments live below:

06:14

The key points to know

    Russia’ has launched a full military assault on Ukraine, invading from the east, north and south;Fighting has been reported in many parts of the country including near Kyiv; casualty figures are hard to estimate but dozens of civilians and military personnel are thought to have been killed;Ukraine says Russia has seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant; Moscow says it has destroyed dozens of Ukrainian military facilities;EU leaders have agreed to impose sanctions against Russia that will have “massive and severe consequences”;President Biden has announced more US sanctions against Russia, designed to hit the country’s economy long-term;The measures do not include targeting Putin personally or exclude Russia from the SWIFT international payments system;Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared martial law and cut diplomatic ties with Moscow, adding that a “new iron curtain” now separates Russia from the “civilised world”; Vladimir Putin said the “special military operation” was to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine and “de-Nazify” the country; warning that any country attempting to interfere would see “consequences you have never seen in history”

22:39

Refugees begin crossing Ukraine’s borders

“All those who can, flee abroad,” said Krisztian Szavla, one of the first Ukrainians to cross the Hungarian border to escape the bombing and fighting after Russia’s invasion of their country.

The 28-year-old marketing specialist from the western region of Transcarpathia, arrived in the border town of Zahony. With some hastily packed luggage, he took to the road with his wife and little daughter as soon as he learned that Vladimir Putin’s army had launched a massive attack on Ukraine. 

“We don’t want to experience what our friends and compatriots are going through in the east of the country, waking up to the sounds of sirens, with each Russian bombardment”, confided another man, Krisztian Szavla. “I refuse to let my child grow up without a father,” he adds, explaining that he did not want to be enlisted in the army.

Hungarian police reported long queues of vehicles waiting to enter the country at five crossing points along the 140 km border with Ukraine.

Some of the first refugees from Ukraine have also arrived in Poland on Thursday after travelling by road and rail, and said they were fleeing war.

A scheduled train from Kharkiv, east Ukraine, with a few hundred passengers on board arrived in the afternoon in the Polish town of Przemysl, near the Ukrainian border. Poland’s border guards were on the platform to help the new arrivals.

A border guard official said there was a visible increase in number of people wanting to cross into Poland through road crossings. The authorities say Poland has prepared at least eight centres with food, medical care and places to rest.

22:18

Macron phones Putin to call for ‘immediate end’ to Russian operation

The French president called his Russian counterpart to “demand an immediate end” to the Russian army’s offensive in Ukraine, the Elysee said on Thursday night.The call followed consultations with Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy, with Macron reminding Putin that Russia was “exposing itself to massive sanctions”, the president’s office said.The Kremlin described the exchange as “serious and frank”, saying the Russian president “provided a detailed explanation of the reasons” which led Moscow to launch its operation.It’s the first reported call between Putin and a Western leader since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started.21:58

EU sanctions with ‘massive and severe consequences’ for Russia

More on the European Council’s condemnation of the Putin-ordered invasion of Ukraine. The European Council of member state leaders has agreed on “further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia”, along with its allies.”These sanctions cover the financial sector, the energy and transport sectors, dual-use goods as well as export control and export financing, visa policy, additional listings of Russian individuals and new listing criteria,” the conclusions say.The Council says it will “adopt without delay” the proposals prepared by the Commission and top diplomat.It also recommends a further package of measures against Belarus.21:37

European Union agrees to hit Russia with sanctions

European Union leaders have agreed to impose sanctions against Russia that will have “massive and severe consequences.”

During an emergency summit Thursday to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, the 27 member countries’ leaders approved punitive measures against Russia’s financial, energy and transport sectors and restrictions on exports and financing. They also added more Russian individuals to its earlier sanctions list.

The sanctions must still be legally approved and published before they become effective.

The EU leaders say they also want to draw up sanctions against Belarus because of its close links to Russia.

21:22

‘1,400 arrested’ as police break up anti-war protests in Russia

There’ve been demonstrations against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine inside Russia as well as across Europe and elsewhere in the world.The authorities had announced a ban on gatherings and police duly weighed in to break up protests all over the country.Nearly 1,400 people were arrested by Russian police in 51 cities, most of them in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, according to the specialist NGO OVD-Info. AFP witnessed dozens of arrests on Pushkin Square alone in central Moscow.21:01

Washington announces sanctions against Belarus

The US Treasury has announced sanctions against 24 Belarusian individuals and organisations accused of supporting and aiding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.It came shortly after Joe Biden announced sanctions targeting Russia.
The measures target banks, defence and security companies, defence officials in the Belarusian government, and relatives of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.”Today’s action focuses on Belarus’s defense sector and financial institutions, two areas in which Belarus has especially close ties to Russia. Belarus has become increasingly reliant on Russia for economic, political, and military support in recent years as the regime has clung to power following the fraudulent August 2020 presidential election,” the statement says.20:56

Russian transport plane crashes near Ukrainian border

A military transport plane has crashed in western Russia near the Ukrainian border, the Defence Ministry in Moscow told AFP, adding that its crew had been killed, without specifying the number.
The crash happened in the Voronezh region and was caused by a technical problem, local authorities were quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.20:44

US to send 7,000 extra troops to Germany

The Pentagon will send some 7,000 additional troops to Germany in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior US official in Washington has said.
The objective of this new deployment, which will take place in the coming days, is to “reassure the NATO allies, deter a Russian attack and be ready to support the needs in the region”, the official explained.20:32

People in Kyiv seek refuge in the metro station
 

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