Ukraine invasion: Russia fires cruise missiles at Ukraine targets as fighting rages on Kyiv streets

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Ukrainian soldiers walk past debris of a burning military truck on a street in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Russian troops stormed toward Ukraine's capital Saturday

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Efrem Lukatsky/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy issued a defiant message to his people on Saturday morning.

In a video recorded on the street in downtown Kyiv, Zelenskyy said that he hasn’t left the city and dispelled claims that Ukraine’s military would lay down its weapons.

“We will protect the country,” he said. “Our weapon is our truth, and our truth is that it’s our land, our country, our children. And we will defend all of that.”

Meanwhile one of Zelenskyy’s advisers said that fighting is raging in the capital and in the south of Ukraine, but that the Ukrainian military is successfully fending off Russian assaults. Intense fighting overnight appeared to stem some of the Russian advance towards the capital.

Explosions and gunfire were heard throughout the night around Kyiv, with reports of hundreds of casualties in the fighting. The shelling sliced through at least one Kyiv apartment building and pummelled bridges and schools.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused a US offer to help him leave the city amid growing signs that Russia wanted to overthrow his government.

Reports from news agencies, citing Ukrainian military sources, that Kalibr missiles have been fired towards Ukraine from Russian vessels in the Black Sea.

07:25

The key points to know

    Several Ukrainian cities including Kyiv have seen a heavy night of fighting, forcing thousands of civilians to take shelter in basements and the city’s metro system
    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused a US offer to help him leave Kyiv ahead of a Russian takeover
    Ukraine’s internet service has fluctuated amid reports that Russia has attacked power plants near Kyiv
    The Ukrainian military has claimed to have pushed back Russian forces at several points, including the main thoroughfare of Victory Avenue
    The Russian military claims to have captured a key airport, after seizing control of the Chernobyl nuclear plant and destroying dozens of Ukrainian military facilities.
    Neither countries’ latest military claims have been independently verifiedPoland refuses World Cup qualifying match against Russia over Ukraine invasion

12:39

France intercepts Russian cargo ship

French officials say marines patrolling the English Channel area have intercepted a cargo ship sailing under the Russian flag and escorted it to the port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer for an investigation.

The interception of the ship, carrying cars, early Saturday was triggered by financial sanctions levied days ago against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Maritime spokesperson Veronique Magnin said it appeared to be the first such action in the English Channel.

The approximately 130-meter-(427-foot) ship was headed from Rouen, in Normandy, to Saint Petersburg, and was stopped near Honfleur, Magnin said.

Customs officials carrying out the investigation were verifying if the vessel is indeed linked to Russian financial interests, the spokesperson said. The process could take up to 48 hours.

The French government has given maritime officials the power to intercept vessels suspected of contravening the sanctions, she said.

12:17

Russia warns it could rethink nuclear pact with West over sanctions

A senior Russian official has warned that Moscow could react to Western sanctions over its attack on Ukraine by opting out of the last remaining nuclear arms pact and freezing Western assets.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and currently the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, shrugged off a set of crippling sanctions imposed by the European Union, Britain, America and other allies.

Medvedev described the sanctions as a reflection of Western “political impotence.”

In comments posted on his page on Russian social media VKontakte, Medvedev said the sanctions could offer Moscow an excuse for a complete review of its ties with the West, suggesting that Russia could opt out of the New START nuclear arms control treaty that limits the US and Russian nuclear arsenals.

Medvedev also raised the prospect of cutting diplomatic ties with Western countries, saying “there is no particular need in maintaining diplomatic relations” and adding that “we may look at each other in binoculars and gunsights.” He pointed at the possibility of freezing Western assets in the country if the West proceeds with threats to freeze Russian assets.

12:12

President Zelenskyy urges Europe to ban Russia from SWIFT financial system

Ukraine’s president has called on Germany and Hungary to have the “courage” to approve Russia’s exclusion from the SWIFT interbank system. That’s a measure being considered by the EU in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to which Berlin and Budapest are reluctant.
“Almost all EU countries are already in favor of excluding Russia from SWIFT” Zelensky said on Saturday.”I hope Germany and Hungary will find the courage to support this decision,” he said.Separately, Zelenskyy tweeted about a phone call he had with prime minister Mario Draghi where the Italian leader apparently said he also supports moves to block Russia from accessing the SWIFT system. “Ukraine must become part of the EU” Zelenskyy said.  

11:51

Turkey starts land evacuation of its citizens from Ukraine

The Turkish government has started to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine by land. 

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says about 20,000 Turks live in Ukraine and so far 5,000 of them have returned. Separately, about a hundred protesters have gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara to demonstrate against the Russian invasion.Ukrainians living in Turkey, including children, as well as Turks joined the protest, holding up Ukrainian flags and banners that read “Putin get out of Ukraine.”The Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, was also at the protest and said the war was a “genocide against the Ukrainian people,” according to Turkish news agencies.11:42

Czech Republic is the latest European country to send more weapons to Ukraine

The Czech Republic’s government has become the latest European country to approve a plan to send more weapons to Ukraine.

The Defense Ministry said it is immediately sending machine guns, submachine guns, assault rifles and pistols together with ammunition worth 188 million Czech crowns (€7.6 million).

The ministry said the Czechs will transport the weapons and deliver them to a place determined by the Ukrainian side.

The Czech Republic has already agreed to donate some 4,000 pieces of artillery shells worth 36.6 million Czech crowns (€1.47 million) to Ukraine.

11:37

Euronews reporter: “All night long we could hear the explosions”

Residents of Kyiv spent Friday night huddled in shelters for safety, as the Russian invasion continued to target locations in the capital.”The situation is too dangerous now in the Ukrainian capital. All night long we could hear the explosions” said Euronews reporter Sasha Vakulina from an undisclosed location in Kyiv. “Early in the morning we were all woken up by a very very loud explosion which we now know was a missile hitting a residential building in the area” she says. Rescue workers say at least six civilians were injured by a rocket that hit a high-rise apartment building on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital.

Petro Prokopov, a firefighter who was taking part in rescue efforts, said the building on the southwestern edge of Kyiv near Zhuliany airport was hit between 16 and 21 floors on Saturday. He said at least six people were injured and apartments on two floors were gutted by fire. Emergency responders have evacuated 80 people.

Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko posted an image showing a gaping hole on one side of the apartment building.

“People still stay in shelters, the mood is very very grim, they are trying to stay safe, they are trying not to leave the basements or underground metro stations” says Vakulina. 

She reports that local authorities are doing their best to give regular updates and warning people to be careful about possible “fake news” and other types of disinformation they might see online. 

11:17

Tens of thousands flee Ukraine to escape Russian invasion

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing to the country’s borders in a desperate attempt to escape the violent fallout from the Russian invasion.”I don’t want to leave my native country, but because of the invaders, I must leave it as fast as possible” said Tamara Kulman.⬇️ Read more about the people fleeing to Poland, Romania and Hungary.

‘It’s crazy traffic’: Ukrainians queue for hours to get into Poland

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing to the country’s borders in a desperate attempt to escape the violent fallout from the Russian invasion11:00

Netherlands to send Stinger missiles, sniper rifles to Ukraine

The Dutch Ministry of Defence says it’s sending missiles and rifles to help Ukrainian forces battle Russia. 

In a letter to the Dutch parliament, the ministry said they received “additional requests for military equipment from Ukraine” and will supply 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles as soon as possible to Ukraine.” 

“The planned delivery of military goods was and is intended for Ukrainian self-defense against the armed attack by Russia,” the letter said. 

The ministry said some of the equipment has already been shipped on Saturday including sniper rifles and helmets. 

On Saturday morning Ukraine’s president tweeted that he had a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, and that “weapons and equipment from our partners are on the way to Ukraine.” 

“The anti-war coalition is working!” Mr Zelenskyy said. 10:48

Russia orders media to remove references to Ukraine invasion

Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor has ordered domestic media outlets to remove any references to the term “invasion”, “offensive”, or “declaration of war”. The regulator has also banned references to any civilians killed by the Russian military in Ukraine. “We emphasize that only official Russian sources have current and reliable information,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement, while Moscow officially calls its intervention in Ukraine a “special military operation” intended for “peacekeeping”.This formal notice was sent to a series of media, most of which are critical of Russian power, such as the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor-in-chief is the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Dojd online channel or the Mediazona site, who are already classified as “foreign agents” in Russia.According to the regulator, these media are guilty of having disseminated false information claiming that “Russian armed forces are firing on Ukrainian cities”. He also criticizes them for content “where the operation carried out is qualified as an offensive, an invasion or a declaration of war”.In the event of a refusal to delete the content “access to these media will be restricted”, warns Roskomnadzor which also threatens heavy fines. 
 

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