A mosque in the southeastern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, where 80 civilians were taking shelter, has been shelled by Russian forces, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said today. This comes after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said the mayor of Melitopol was kidnapped by Russian soldiers occupying the city.
The war, continuing for over two weeks now, saw the Western allies stepping up sanctions against Russia as the US imposed a ban on Russian seafood, vodka and diamonds, and along with the European Union, banned exports of luxury goods to Russia.
Russian forces have advanced ever closer to the capital from the north, west and northeast. Russian strikes also destroyed an airport in the town of Vasylkiv, south of the city, while troops shot at a group of women and children evacuees leaving a village near Kyiv, killing seven.
“Around 1,300” Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, the first time he has given a count for Ukraine’s forces.
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Russian troops launched multiple air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine’s western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, a local official said Sunday.
Russia “launched an air strike on the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security,” some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Lviv, head of the Lviv regional administration, Maxim Kozitsky, said on his verified Facebook page, adding that eight missiles were fired.
Ukraine prepared Sunday for a “relentless defence” of Kyiv as the capital faced possible encirclement by advancing Russian forces who have also kept up a bombardment of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol.
In a video address posted on social media late Saturday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky said nevertheless the Russians did not have the strength or spirit to conquer Ukraine.
“The Russian invaders cannot conquer us. They do not have such strength. They do not have such spirit. They are holding only on violence. Only on terror. Only on weapons, which they have a lot,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis are to hold talks in Istanbul on Sunday, a meeting analysts say will focus on coordination as war continues in Ukraine.
The meeting comes as Ankara seeks to shore up its credentials as a regional power player by mediating in the conflict.
On Thursday, the Turkish resort city of Antalya hosted the first talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba since the start of Russia’s invasion.
They failed to broker a ceasefire. Now Mitsotakis will see Erdogan, mindful that the burgeoning conflict in Ukraine looms larger than the long-standing tensions between Athens and Ankara.
Russian forces have advanced closer to Ukraine capital Kyiv from the north, west and northeast. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky also said Russia was sending new forces after suffering what he said were its biggest losses in decades. Here is a ten-point cheat sheet on the Russia-Ukraine war today.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Russia might use chemical weapons following its invasion of Ukraine and that such a move would be a war crime, according to an interview in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
“In recent days, we have heard absurd claims about chemical and biological weapons laboratories,” Stoltenberg was quoted by Welt am Sonntag as saying, adding that the Kremlin was inventing false pretexts to justify what could not be justified.
“Now that these false claims have been made, we must remain vigilant because it is possible that Russia itself could plan chemical weapons operations under this fabrication of lies. That would be a war crime,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.
It was the middle of an emergency session of the UN Security Council, late on the evening of February 23, and Vassily Nebenzia looked shaken — his face pale, his shoulders sagging.
Russia, the country he represents at the United Nations, had just invaded Ukraine, sending shock waves around the world that continue to reverberate today. Read more here.
The United Nations will have multiple meetings this week about Russia’s war in Ukraine, though it is unclear if they will lead to the adoption of an official text, diplomats said.
On Monday, the Security Council will discuss the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau is expected to speak during the session, one of the diplomatic sources told AFP Saturday.
Although this is an annual meeting, it will place special focus on the war in Ukraine and will likely see fresh calls for peace.
Britain will pay people to open their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion as the government moves to deflect anger over its response to the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two.
The new scheme called “Homes for Ukraine” will let refugees from the war come to Britain even if they do not have family ties, the government said on Sunday.
Britain will pay people 350 pounds ($456) a month if they can offer refugees a spare room or property for a minimum period of six months.