Ukraine war: NATO ‘to agree major increase’ in eastern Europe forces, says Stoltenberg

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British troops and military equipment upon their arrival at Estonia's NATO Battle Group base in Tapa, Estonia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.

AP Photo/Sergei Stepanov

The war in Ukraine rages on after the invasion was launched by Moscow on 24 February.

Fighting has forced more than ten million Ukrainians to flee their homes and more than 3.5 million to flee the country, with thousands of people killed or wounded and widespread damage in the wake of shelling and aerial bombardments.

Follow our live updates below and watch our live TV coverage in the video player above.


Latest updates:

    NATO will deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to boost the alliance’s eastern flank and deter Russia, Jens Stoltenberg says. Leaders will be asked to approve the move at an emergency summit.

    In a speech to the French parliament, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has called on French companies still operating in Russia to leave the stop backing Moscow’s “war machine”.

    Earlier Zelenskyy said Russia seized a convoy en route to the port city of Mariupol. Nine humanitarian convoys were agreed upon on Wednesday, according to Ukrainian leaders.

    President Biden said there was a “real threat” of Russia using chemical weapons as he left to travel to Europe.

    The Kremlin said Putin hadn’t “yet” achieved military goals and refused to rule out Russia using nuclear weapons.

    China has said it is against excluding Russia from the next G20 summit. “No member has the right to expel another country,” a diplomatic spokesman said.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the war in Ukraine “morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical”.


Ukraine FM calls for global boycott of Renault over Russian presence

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, has tweeted to call for a global boycott of Renault which he says “refuses to pull out of Russia”.

Earlier, President Zelenskyy cited companies such as Renault, Auchan and Leroy Merlin as he told the French parliament that the country’s firms should stop supporting “Russia’s war machine”.


Evidence shows Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine — Blinken

The Biden administration on Wednesday made a formal determination that Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine and said it would work with others to prosecute offenders.

The statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken came as he travelled to Brussels with the US president for an emergency summit of NATO leaders.

The assessment was based on a “careful review” of public and intelligence sources since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month, he said.

America’s top diplomat said the United States would share that information with allies, partners and international institutions tasked with investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded,” Blinken said.

He cited attacks on the civilian population in the besieged city of Mariupol and elsewhere.

(with AP)


Veteran Putin aide quits Kremlin in hint of internal division

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for liaison with international organisations has resigned.

Reuters quotes two sources as saying that Anatoly Chubais quit over the war in Ukraine has left Russia with no intention to return. He hung up the phone when contacted by the news agency. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t say if Chubais had left the country, saying it was his private business.

Chubais, the architect of Russia’s post-Soviet privatisation campaign, has served at a variety of top official jobs during the past three decades.

His latest job envisaged contacts with international organisations to pursue the goals of sustainable development — a broad portfolio that allowed him to maintain contacts with top foreign officials and organisations.

After Russia began its last month, Chubais posted a photo of Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition figure who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015. Even without a caption, it was seen as a powerful statement from a Moscow insider.

Chubais’ resignation appears to reflect growing divisions among top Russian officials over the military operation in Ukraine.

(AP and Reuters)


As many as 15,000 Russians killed in fighting — NATO

A senior NATO military officer says the alliance estimates that Russia has suffered between 30,000 and 40,000 battlefield casualties in Ukraine through the first month of the war, including between 7,000 and 15,000 killed. It is NATO’s first public estimate of Russian casualties since the war started Feb. 24.

The military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by NATO, said the estimate of the number killed is based on a combination of information from the Ukrainian government, indications from Russia, and open-source information.

The U.S. government has largely declined to provide public estimates of Russian or Ukrainian casualties, saying available information is of questionable reliability.

The NATO military officer, in a briefing from the alliance’s military headquarters in Belgium on Wednesday, said the estimate of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian casualties is derived from what he called a standard calculation that in war an army suffers three wounded soldiers for every soldier killed. The casualties include killed in action and wounded in action, as well as those taken prisoner or missing in action, the officer said. (AP)


‘Open the gates of hell’ for Mariupol civilians, UN coordinator tells Euronews

“The gates of hell have to open so people can come out,” said Amin Awad, the United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, noting that Russia has not yet responded to the UN appeals for humanitarian corridors.

Mariupol continues to be encircled by the Russian army. More than 100,000 residents are believed to be trapped in the port city, a strategic target for Moscow, with little or no food, water, electricity or heating.


Open the gates of hell for civilians in Mariupol, says UN’s Amin Awad

euronews “It’s very hellish over there, and I think the gates of hell have to open so people can come out.” #EuropeNews


French companies must stop backing ‘Russia’s war machine’ — Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday urged French companies established in Russia to stop supporting the Russian “war machine” and to leave the country, citing Renault, Auchan and Leroy Merlin.

“French companies must leave the Russian market. Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others, they must stop being sponsors of Russia’s war machine”, he declared in a speech broadcast by videoconference before French deputies and senators.

Zelenskyy compared the Russian destruction in his country to the Battle of Verdun in World War One.

“Mariupol and other cities remind us of Verdun,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said by video link.

‘The Russian army do not distinguish between the objects they target, they destroy everything: residential districts, hospitals, schools, universities, everything,” he said. “They’ve brought terror to Ukrainian territory.” 


Watch: Stop backing Russia’s war machine, Zelenskyy tells French firms

“French companies must leave the Russian market. Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others, they must stop being sponsors of Russia’s war machine,” the Ukrainian president told French lawmakers.


Kyiv mayor says 264 civilians killed in city

The mayor of Kyiv says Russian forces have killed 264 civilians, including four children, in the Ukraine capital since the war started last month.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Wednesday that battles were being waged in the area of Liutizh, a village 30 kilometres north of Kyiv and that Ukrainian forces have wrested back control of areas to the north-west and the north-east of the city, including most of Irpin.

He said the western town of Makariv has also been taken back by Ukrainian troops.

Klitschko spoke to reporters in the capital Kyiv in a central park overlooking the city. Explosions and gunfire could be heard in the background as he spoke.



NATO to deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Stoltenberg says

NATO will deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to reinforce the military alliance’s eastern flank, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday ahead of an alliance summit on Thursday.

Stoltenberg said hundreds of thousands of NATO ally troops were at “heightened readiness” across the alliance, including 100,000 US troops in Europe, backed by air and naval power.

At the NATO summit tomorrow, Stoltenberg said allies would likely provide additional support to Ukraine including cybersecurity assistance and equipment to help Ukraine “protect against chemical, biological and radiological and nuclear threats.”

Stoltenberg maintained however that NATO had a duty to make sure that the war does not escalate as it would cause more “death and destruction”.


Biden says threat of Russian using chemical weapons is ‘real’

US President Joe Biden said there was a “real threat” of Russia using chemical weapons in response to a journalist’s question outside the White House as he left to travel to Europe.

Biden will attend a NATO and EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and will travel to Poland, which has taken in more than two million Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war last month.

Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the president was travelling to Europe “to reinforce the incredible unity we built with Allies and partners in response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and to consult on next steps.”

Additional sources • AP, AFP


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