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President Zelenskyy's advisor Mykhailo Podolyak shakes hands with Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Andrei Fomin today. Alamy Stock Photo
AS IT HAPPENED

As it happened: Vladimir Putin says Russian invasion is 'going to plan' as latest talks conclude in Belarus

More than one million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN’s refugee agency has said.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Mar 2022

HERE ARE THE latest developments as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues for an eighth day.

You can get a quick summary of the latest news over in our main points piece.

For more detail though, here’s our Liveblog:

 

 

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that the Russian military advance in Ukraine is “going to plan”, and makes the false claim that Russia is fighting “neo-Nazis”. He has also repeated that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people”. 
  • France’s Emmanuel Macron believes “the worst is to come” in Ukraine after a 90-minute call with Putin who appears intent on seizing “the whole” of the country, his aide said.
  • Ukrainian and Russian negotiators completed the second round of talks since the invasion, some progress was made on humanitarian corridors.  
  • Ukrainian MPs gather briefly in person to vote on ‘critical’ defence legislation.
  • The EU is granting temporary protection to refugees from Ukraine that will enable them to live, work and study in EU countries.
  • More than one million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN’s refugee agency has said.
  • Russian forces have taken the Ukrainian city of Kherson, the first major urban centre to fall since Moscow invaded last week.
  • Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv continues to come under severe Russian shelling, with police and university buildings among the latest struck.
  • A senior US defence official has said the massive convoy of Russian military vehicles amassed north of Kyiv has “stalled”.

Good morning, Hayley Halpin here. To kick things off here’s a quick update on the latest from the situation in Ukraine:

  • Russian forces have taken the Black Sea city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, a significant victory for Moscow.
  •  Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv continues to come under severe Russian shelling, with police and university buildings among the latest struck.
  • A senior US defence official says the massive column of Russian military vehicles amassed north of Kyiv has “stalled” due to fuel and food shortages, and Ukrainian resistance.
  • More than one million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, the UN’s refugee agency says, with the number rising rapidly.
  • Russia claims 498 of its troops have been killed in Ukraine, its first declared death toll since President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion a week ago. The true number of casualties on each side is not known.
  • The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding Russia “immediately” withdraw from Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that his country had thwarted Russia’s “sneaky” plans, saying he was proud of the “heroic” resistance to Moscow’s invasion.

Speaking in a video posted on the Telegram messaging service in recent hours, Zelenskyy said:

“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.”

The president said he “sincerely admired the heroic residents” of cities who have resisted the advance of Russian forces.

He added that around 9,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began a week ago. Russian, however, has Russia claimed just 498 of its troops have been killed in Ukraine. 

On Twitter, Zelensky wrote that he had spoken to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and “thanked him for the leadership in imposing anti-Russian sanctions”.

“Stressed the need to expand restrictive measures,” he added.

“The bombing of civilians in Ukraine must be stopped immediately.”

One million refugees have fled Ukraine in the week since Russia’s invasion, the UN’s refugee agency has confirmed. 

“In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries,” the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted, while urging “guns to fall silent” in the country.

More on the Russian seizure of Kherson: 

In one of the biggest developments overnight, Russian troops seized Kherson, the first major Ukrainian city to fall since last week’s invasion. 

Russian “occupiers” were in “all parts” of Kherson, Ukrainian regional official Gennady Lakhuta conceded.

After a three-day siege that left Kherson short of food and medicine, and struggling to collect and bury its dead, the town’s mayor also announced he was in talks with “armed guests”.

He had “made no promises” to the invading forces, but agreed to a night curfew and restrictions on car traffic.

“So far so good. The flag flying above us is Ukrainian. And for it to stay that way, these requirements must be met,” he said in a Facebook post.

In a significant u-turn this morning, the International Paralympic Committee has announced Russian and Belarusian athletes are now banned from competing in the Beijing Winter Paralympics.

“In order to preserve the integrity of these Games and the safety of all participants, we have decided to refuse the athlete entries from RPC and NPC Belarus,” the IPC said in a statement.

Just yesterday, Russian athletes were given the go-ahead to compete as “neutrals” at the Winter Paralympics.

Germany will increase its weapons deliveries to Ukraine following the Russian invasion by sending an 2,700 anti-aircraft missiles to the conflict zone, a government source has told AFP.

The government “approved further support for Ukraine”, involving the delivery of STRELA-type anti-aircraft missiles of Soviet manufacture, which were previously used by the army of communist East Germany, the source said.

Dozens of anti-war demonstrators have been detained in Moscow and St Petersburg.

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

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 Kremlin critic Alexei 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”.

Independent monitoring group OVD-Info said that more than 7,000 people in total in Russia had been detained at demonstrations over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine that began last Thursday.

russia-ukraine-war Police detain a demonstrator during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in St. Petersburg Dmitri Lovetsky Dmitri Lovetsky

The Russian military is a “ruthless invading force” which poses a danger immediately to Ukraine, but also to “wider Europe and the world”, Damian Hinds, the UK’s security minister, has told Sky News.

He said:

“How concerned am I? We are all desperately concerned.

“This is a ruthless invading force. When it comes to tactics and military strategy, I’m not going to second guess Vladimir Putin and what he might be thinking, what might be in his head.

“But we do know that this is a ruthless force, an extremely dangerous (force) obviously imminently right now for Ukraine, but actually dangerous for wider Europe and the world.

“The bravery, the tenacity of Ukraine, my God, we have all been taken aback and it is so important we do everything we can to support them in what they are doing and make sure – and this is where the sanctions, we’ve got the Economic Crime Bill, transparency and enforcement coming through on Monday in Parliament.

“It is why all these things are so important, why we absolutely need to make the regime hurt.”

The Ekho Moskvy radio station – a symbol of new-found media freedom in post-Soviet Russia – is shutting down after being taken off air over its coverage of Moscow’s invasion of  Ukraine.

“By a majority vote of the Ekho Moskvy board of directors, it was decided to liquidate the Ekho Moskvy radio station and website,” its editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said on Telegram.

Russia on Monday blocked the Ekho website and took the station off air for spreading “deliberately false information” about the war in Ukraine.

Venediktov said Russia’s media regulator requested that Google delete Ekho Moskvy’s app from its store.

Ekho Mosvky – which is majority-owned by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom – was founded in 1990 during the final days of the Soviet Union.

It had established itself as one of the country’s leading liberal media.

France has “strongly” urged its citizens to leave Russia if their presence there was “not essential” following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and the closure of airspace between Russia and the European Union.

“In the context of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia and following the imposition of international sanctions, we must increase our vigilance,” the foreign ministry wrote on its website.

Already on Sunday, Paris had recommended French citizens passing through Russia to leave the country.

The Kyiv Independent is reporting that Ukraine’s air defence has shot down a Russian fighter aircraft over Irpin, a satellite city of Kyiv.

Four Russian fighter jets entered Sweden’s airspace to the east of the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, the Swedish Armed Forces has said. 

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has shared a photo of what he said was civilians blocking Russian invaders in the town of Energodar. 

“This is a true People’s War for Ukraine. Putin has no chance of winning it,” he said. 

Charity donations

The Charities Regulator is urging members of the public who wish to support and stand in solidarity with Ukraine to ensure that their donations, whether of goods or of funds, go to registered charities which have the structures in place to ensure that those donations go towards their intended purpose.

Helen Martin, Chief Executive of the Charities Regulator said:

“The outpouring of support from Ireland for the Ukrainian people has been immense and underscores the inherent generosity and compassion of the Irish people.

“Members of the public are seeking to show their support in any way possible and are doing so in numerous ways. But we would ask them to give with their head, as well as their hearts.

We would therefore remind anyone wishing to support the people of Ukraine to ensure that any donations they are making are going to registered charities that have a track record of providing the kinds of practical supports and assistance that the Ukrainian people, and those who are supporting them, need at this time.”

Zelenskyy has spoken to South Korean President Moon Jae-in this morning:

featureimage iStock / PA Images iStock / PA Images / PA Images

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC) has temporarily stopped production at its Kyiv factory and evacuated employees following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The London-listed company, which has seen shares plunge in recent weeks due to its exposure to Russia and Ukraine, added that it has scrapped its forecasts for the current year due to the conflict.

Coca-Cola HBC generated roughly 20% of its sales volumes and profits in 2021 from Russia and Ukraine.

“The safety of our employees is our highest priority,” the company said in a statement.

“We remain in constant contact with our people in Ukraine and Russia and are doing everything we can to support them.”

It said production at the Kyiv site was suspended on 24 February as the Russian invasion began.

To give us a better sense of what is happening on the ground for people staying in Ukraine, and fleeing from the country, on this week’s The Explainer podcast presenter Gráinne Ní Aodha spoke to freelance journalist Olga Tokariuk, who is based in western Ukraine, and Gabriele Leu of the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.

Olga Tokariuk tells us about life in Ukraine at the moment, what morale is like, and what’s been going through her head over the past few days.

Gabriela Leu told us about the numbers crossing the border from Ukraine, what stories they are hearing from the people who are fleeing, and how this differs from other European migrant crises.

Listen here for more:


The Explainer / SoundCloud

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has this morning accused Western politicians of considering nuclear war.

“I would like to point out that it’s in the heads of Western politicians that the idea of a nuclear war is spinning constantly, and not in the heads of Russians,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian and foreign media.

Zelenskyy has promised Ukrainians that damage to infrastructure inflicted by invading Russian forces would be repaired and that Moscow would foot the bill.

“We will restore every house, every street, every city and we say to Russia: learn the word of reparations and contributions. You will reimburse us for everything you did against our state, against every Ukrainian in full,” he said in a video statement.

The French government has seized a luxury superyacht belonging to a company linked to Igor Sechin, the chief executive of Russian energy giant Rosneft and a close confidant of President Vladimir Putin.

The vessel, Amore Vero, was seized in the French harbour of La Ciotat on the Cote d’Azur as part of EU sanctions agreed against Russia and is held by a company in which Sechin is the main shareholder, the French finance ministry said.

moscow-russia-25th-feb-2022-russias-foreign-minister-sergei-lavrov-looks-on-during-a-meeting-with-vladislav-deinego-foreign-minister-of-the-lugansk-peoples-republic-lpr-and-sergei-peresada Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

More from Sergei Lavrov’s interview with Russian and foreign media this morning:

The Russian Foreign Minister said this morning that Moscow is ready for talks to end the fighting in Ukraine but will continue with its effort to destroy the embattled country’s military infrastructure.

Lavrov said a Russian delegation submitted its demands to Ukrainian negotiators earlier this week and is now awaiting Kyiv’s response in talks set for later today.

he said the West has continuously armed Ukraine, trained its troops and built up bases there to turn the country into a bulwark against Russia.

Russia says that made Ukraine a threat to its security.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said tackling Russian aggression is a fight for “all of our freedom and security”.

Speaking at a press conference in Lithuania, Truss outlined the steps already taken by the UK, but said “we need to go further” by including all Russian banks in the ban from the Swift payment system, and reducing dependency on hydrocarbons from Russia.

She said: “This is a struggle not just for Ukraine’s freedom and self-determination, but for all of our freedom and security.

“By continuing to respond with strengths we will together ensure that Putin loses.”

Liz Truss has said the West needs to “get the information” to the Russian people about what is “actually happening” in Ukraine in the face of reports from state-owned media at home.

The UK Foreign Secretary said she did not believe that Putin “speaks on behalf of Russian people”.

She said:

“What we have seen over the last week is some very brave people in Russia protesting, standing up against the regime.

“And we need to make sure that we get the information to them about what is actually happening.

“It is much harder to control information in the world of social media.

“And we need to make sure, as I’ve said, that the Russian economy is crippled so it is unable to continue to fund Putin and the war machine.

“And I suspect that the Russian people will draw their own conclusions from that.”

More from Lavrov:

Ahead of further peace talks, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Russia will insist Ukraine never again poses a military risk to its powerful neighbour.

Lavrov said it will be left up to Ukrainians to choose what government they should have.

He also voiced his regret for the civilian casualties caused by Russia’s invasion and bombardment of Ukraine, which started last week.

He insisted the Russian military is using only precision weapons against military targets.

He tacitly acknowledged some Russian strikes could have killed civilians, however, saying “any military action is fraught with casualties, and not just among the military but also civilians”.

Josep Borrell Fontelles, a Vice President of the European Commission, has this morning visited a refugee centre in Chisinău, Moldova. 

“Shattered by the stories of the people who have been forced to flee Ukraine, as Russian forces continue to shell civilians,” he tweeted. 

He added: “This war needs to stop now. I call for an immediate ceasefire. I call for immediate establishment of humanitarian corridors.” 

ikea-logo Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is suspending its activities in Russia and Belarus, affecting nearly 15,000 employees, 17 stores and three production sites, in response to the war in Ukraine.

“The war has had a huge human impact already. It is also resulting in serious disruptions to supply chain and trading conditions. For all of these reasons, Ikea has decided to temporarily pause operations in Russia,” the company said in a statement to AFP.

The suspension mainly concerns Russia, where the Swedish group has been present since 2000 and is one of the largest Western employers.

Operations in Belarus would also be halted, though the country hosts only a few suppliers and has no shops, according to Ikea.

“The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted,” the company said.

“These decisions have a direct impact on 15,000 Ikea co-workers, and the company groups will secure employment and income stability and provide support to them and their families in the region,” Ikea said.

While the stores operated by the Ingka group account for the bulk of the workforce affected, 12,000 people, Ikea also has nearly 2,500 employees working in manufacturing, with three factories in Russia.

According to the company, 47 suppliers in Russia and 10 in Belarus, would be affected by the decision, which also puts a stop to imports and exports between the two countries.

Prior to this announcement, Ikea had initially announced that it would leave its shops in Russia open, which was met with criticism in Sweden.

EU justice and home affairs ministers are meeting in Brussels today on how to address the growing wave of Ukrainian refugees, now estimated at one million.

Ministers said they expected the gathering to give political assent to a Temporary Protection mechanism.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee spoke to EU News Radio on her way into the meeting:

“The most important thing for us is making sure that our doors are open.

“Obviously, we’re working very swiftly at home bringing together departments, ministers, who will be impacted here, making sure that we have the right mechanism in place to support people.

“And already we’re seeing people at home, our own Irish citizens, offering support, offering accommodation, offering to help in whatever way that they can.

“So we will come together collectively to make sure that Ireland will not be found wanting.”

Hi, Tadgh McNally here taking over the liveblog for the next hour or so while Hayley grabs a break.

The Kyiv Independent is reporting that Russian forces are now occupying the administrative hub of the Kherson Oblast.

Overnight, Russian troops seized the city of Kherson, making it the first city to fall into Russia’s control since the war began a week ago.

Formula One has just announced that they will be removing Russia as a Grand Prix host for good due to the invasion of Ukraine.

This means that there will be no F1 races held in Russia into the future.

In a statement this afternoon, F1 said:

Formula 1 can confirm it has terminated its contract with the Russian Grand Prix promoter meaning Russia will not have a race in the future

Macron speaks with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin this morning, according to AFP.

The call lasted 90 minutes according to Macron’s office and is the third call between the two leaders since the war broke out last week.

An aide to Macron also told AFP that he spoke with Putin and then immediately called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The International Energy Agency has just announced a new 10-point plan to help reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

At the moment, 45% of the EU’s gas is imported from Russia, with around 40% of it being consumed within the bloc.

Some of the recommendations are:

  • Not signing new gas contracts with Russia
  • Accelerating deployment of solar, wind and nuclear power
  • Maximising gas supplies from other suppliers
  • Improving energy efficiency in homes

The UN’s human rights chief has hit out at Russia for their invasion of Ukraine this morning, saying that there was a massive impact on the human rights of millions of people.

Michelle Bachelet particularly honed in on the threat of nuclear weapons, which Vladimir Putin put on high alert last week.

In a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, she said:

Elevated threat levels for nuclear weapons underline the gravity of the risks to all of humanity

BREAKING: Kyiv sends delegation for talks

Ukrainian officials in Kyiv have confirmed that a delegation will be sent for a second round of negotiations with Russia this afternoon, according to AFP.

An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that the negotiation team are already on their way to the talks, sharing a photo of him and another negotiator in a helicopter.

The UK’s culture minister has confirmed that Russia Today is now off air in the UK.

Nadine Dorries told the House of Commons that Sky, Freeview and Freesat had all pulled the RT feed from UK television screens.

The EU had blocked both RT and Sputnik, two Russian state-backed broadcasters due to concerns around the spread of misinformation on the invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking earlier, Dorries said that Putin “must not be allowed to exploit our open and free media to spread poisonous propaganda into British homes”.

I was very glad to see yesterday that the channel is now officially off air on British televisions after it was shut down on Sky, Freeview and Freesat.

Thanks Tadgh, Hayley Halpin back here now to take you through the next few hours. 

Here’s a look at Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine of yesterday: 

politics-ukraine PA Images PA Images

And here’s a look at Russia’s advances on Kyiv as of yesterday: 

politics-ukraine PA Images PA Images

Peace talks

A Ukrainian negotiator headed for ceasefire talks with Russia this afternoon has said that his objective was securing humanitarian corridors.

“We start in two hours,” Ukrainian lawmaker David Arakhamia wrote on Facebook at around 12pm, adding that: “humanitarian corridors will be on the agenda, at a minimum. More will depend on the circumstances”.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister has claimed there are reports that Russians “might have pointed multiple rocket-launching systems in the Russian border village of Popovka towards their own territory”. 

“Knowing the barbaric nature of Russian actions we fear a false flag operation might be prepared in order to accuse Ukraine,” he tweeted.

Russian troops are seeking to lay siege to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, seeking to cut it off from electricity, water, heating and transportation, its mayor has said.

“They are trying to create a blockade here, just like in Leningrad,” Vadym Boichenko said in a statement referring to the horrific siege of Russia’s second largest city by the Nazis during World War II, which left hundreds of thousands dead.

UEFA has ordered Belarusian teams to play games at neutral venues.

A very poignant front page for the latest edition of The Economist: 

The Kyiv Independent is reporting Russian forces struck at residential buildings in central Chernihiv, which is about 148km north of Kyiv. 

russias-president-vladimir-putin-during-his-meeting-with-prime-minister-david-cameron-inside-10-downing-street-in-london Russian President Vladimir Putin Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue fighting against what he described as nationalists in Ukraine.

He said the Kremlin could add to its demands at negotiations if Kyiv stalls talks.

“Russia intends to continue the uncompromising fight against militants of nationalist armed groups,” Putin said according to a readout of a call with French leader Emmanuel Macron.

He added that attempts to slow conflict talks would “only lead to additional demands on Kyiv in our negotiating position”.

Putin also told Macron he disagreed with a speech the French leader gave the day before about Ukraine.

More than 400 women and children have been rescued from Irpen, which is on the outskirts of Kyiv, after it was bombed by Russian occupiers, the Ukraine’s parliament has said. 

As Russian forces advance on strategic points in southern Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities have called on compatriots to launch a guerrilla war against the attackers.

In a video message posted online today, Ukrainian presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovich urged men to cut down trees and destroy rear columns of Russian troops.

“We urge people to begin providing total popular resistance to the enemy in the occupied territories,” Arestovich said.

“The weak side of the Russian army is the rear – if we burn them now and block the rear, the war will stop in a matter of days,” he said.

Arestovich said that such tactics are already being used in Konotop in north-east Ukraine and Melitopol near the Azov Sea, which were captured by Russian troops.

He called on the civilian population to build barricades in cities, hold rallies with Ukrainian flags, and create online networking groups.

“Total resistance … this is our Ukrainian trump card and this is what we can do best in the world,” Arestovich said, recalling guerrilla actions in Nazi-occupied Ukraine during the Second World War.

Georgia has officially applied for membership to the European Union, the Black Sea nation’s prime minister has said, after the European Parliament backed a similar move by Ukraine.

“We are applying today for EU membership,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said in a statement after signing the application letter.

“Georgia is a European state and continues to make a valuable contribution to its protection and development,” he added.

french-president-emmanuel-macron-takes-part-in-a-video-conference-of-g7-leaders-on-ukraine-at-the-elysee-palace-in-paris-on-february-24-2022-russia-has-launched-an-invasion-of-ukraine-in-the-early-h French President Emmanuel Macron Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

French President Emmanuel Macron believes “the worst is to come” in Ukraine after a 90-minute phone call with Putin who appears intent on seizing “the whole” of the country, an aide to the French leader said.

Putin again justified his invasion in terms of the “denazification” of Ukraine, said the aide, who asked not to be named.

The aide described Putin’s comments as “shocking and unacceptable” adding that “the president told him it was lies”.

The Embassy of Ukraine to the UK has said it has been hit by “constant” cyber-attacks, adding that its website and emails currently don’t work. 

Canada has revoked special trading status for Russia and Belarus over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, resulting in 35% tariffs being slapped on their imports, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced.

“Canada will be the first country to revoke Russia’s and Belarus’s most favored nation status as a trading partner under Canadian law,” Freeland told a news conference.

As a result, Russia and Moscow-ally Belarus “will be subjected to a tariff of 35% on their exports to Canada,” joining North Korea as the only other country that does not benefit from this trading status, she said.

Just in: A Ukrainian official says today’s ceasefire talks with Russia have started.

That’s all from myself, Hayley Halpin, for today. 

My colleague Gráinne Ní Aodha will take you through the next few hours. 

Hello everyone, Gráinne here taking over the Liveblog for the next while.

A thank you to Hayley for keeping us all up-to-date with the latest. 

One of the most viral images of the day is one, claiming to be taken of a young Russian soldier being allowed to call his mother after being captured by Ukrainian soldiers.

This comes after the Ukrainian government said that Russian mothers can come collect their sons after they have been captured. There are also some reports based on videos emerging from alleged soldiers that indicate they have been ill-informed about what their mission is.

A parliamentarian and leader of Ukrainian political party ‘Voice’ has said that over 300 elected officials met in the Ukrainian parliament building in secret today, to vote on and pass crucial legislation including on the enforcement of a no-fly zone. 

Here are the photos that she posted of the event.

The human part of war – Zelenskyy is tired, but determined.

Confirmation of reports earlier:

Nine people died and four were injured after Russian forces hit residential areas, including schools, in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, the local governor said.

“Russian aircraft also attacked two schools in the Staraya Podusivka area and private homes. Rescuers are working in the area,” the governor of the Chernihiv region, Vyacheslav Chaus, said on Telegram.

Russian oil giant Lukoil has called for an immediate halt to fighting in Ukraine, one of the first major domestic firms to speak out against Moscow’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

Some lines from Zelenskyy’s interview from earlier:

“If you do not have the power to close the skies, then give me planes,” Zelenskyy told the press conference.

“If we are no more, then God forbid, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia will be next. Believe me.

He called for direct talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying it was “the only way to stop this war”.

“We are not attacking Russia and we do not plan to attack it. What do you want from us? Leave our land,” he said.

“Sit down with me. Just not 30 metres away like with [French President Emmanuel Macron],” the Ukrainian leader said, referring to Putin receiving world leaders at a now famous enormously long table.

russian-president-vladimir-putin-holds-talks-with-president-of-france-emmanuel-macron Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Zelenskyy – who just weeks ago sought to calm Ukrainians over US allegations that Russia was planning to invade his country – said: “Nobody thought that in the modern world a man can behave like a beast.”

The EU has agreed to give temporary protection to refugees fleeing Ukraine, officials said today after a meeting of the bloc’s interior ministers.

European home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson, who attended the meeting, tweeted that it was a “historic decision”.

“The European Union will accord temporary protection to all those fleeing the war in Ukraine,” said French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

Interesting figures here from Statista:

26960 Statista Statista

The aftermath of the strike on a residential building in Chernihiv:

The aftermath of the strike on a residential building in Chernihiv

Speaking to Sky News today, our reporter Michelle Hennessy writes that the mayor of the Polish town Przemysl, Wojciech Bakun, said around 120,000 people have crossed over the border of Ukraine into his town in the last seven days.

mayor Sky News Sky News

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this Polish town had a population of around 60,000 people.

He said food and other provisions waiting for the refugees who arrive have been provided by locals but have also come from all over Europe.

After their initial welcome, he said arrangements are made for those who need a place to stay “for the weeks or months or whatever they want”.

“You know, sometimes it’s the wife of soldiers who fight for Ukraine and they come with kids and without their husband so they especially need our special attention, so we try to do all the best for people,” he said.

Death toll from that Russian strike on Chernihiv has risen to 22, according to a Ukrainian official.

Zelenskyy’s advisor has tweeted this photo of the Ukrainian and Russian delegation.

Suits seem a bit frivolous, given the circumstances.

A chilling moment.

An EU package of supports for Ukraine.

The new Liveblog photo, if you’re interested:

President Zelenskyy’s advisor Mykhailo Podolyak shakes hands with Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Andrei Fomin ahead of talks in Belarus today.

brest-region-belarus-march-3-2022-ukraines-defence-minister-oleksii-reznikov-davyd-arakhamia-chairman-of-the-faction-of-the-servant-of-the-people-political-party-in-the-ukrainian-parliament-v President Zelenskyy's advisor Mykhailo Podolyak shakes hands with Russia's Deputy Defence Minister Andrei Fomin today. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov; Davyd Arakhamia (the man in the hat), chairman of the faction of the Servant of the People Political Party in the Ukrainian Parliament are by Podolyak’s side.

Also present are Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko; Russian presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky; Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee; Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov.

An important note here from security expert Tom Clonan, on the very divisive issue of NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow’s advance in Ukraine is going “according to plan” and ordered large compensations for Russian soldiers killed in the invasion – the number for which he gave was ten times lower than what Kyiv is claiming.

“I want to say that the special military operation is going strictly according to schedule, according to plan,” he said, opening a meeting with his security council, who stayed out of view during another extraordinary broadcast.

“We are at war with neo-Nazis,” the Russian leader said, adding:

“I will never give up on my conviction that Russians and Ukrainians are one people.”

We’ll give Zelenskyy his right of reply:

Those talks in Belarus between Russian and Ukrainian representatives have completed. 

President Zelenskyy’s advisor Mykhailo Podolyak who we mentioned earlier has shared and update. He says there was progress on the humanitarian corridors sought but not much else.

The second round of talks is over. Unfortunately, Ukraine does not have the results it needs yet. There are decisions only on the organization of humanitarian corridors.

Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian negotiating team, said the was “significant progress” in the negotiations, citing the humanitarian corridors. 

Humanitarian corridors are essentially routes through the front lines to get urgent supplies into cities and trapped civilians out. 

There are no details as to where the corridors apply to or how many people may escape but it seems like a some progress in the second round of talks since Moscow invaded last week. 

A day after the UN General Assembly in New York issued a powerful rebuke of Russia with a 141-5 vote to deplore its invasion and demand an immediate withdrawal, Moscow received a fresh lashing at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned the council that the invasion had “opened a new and dangerous chapter in world history”.

She voiced particular concern over the nuclear threat, after Putin on Sunday ordered his country’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert.

“Elevated threat levels for nuclear weapons underline the gravity of the risks to all of humanity,” she said.

Of course, agreements made between different sides in a warzone are only worthwhile if they’re adhered to. 

Foreign policy expert at Oxford University Samuel Ramani points out that Russia agreed to humanitarian corridors in the Idlib region of Syria where Russian and Assad regime bombardments killed thousands of people.

european-commission-president-ursula-von-der-leyen-speaks-during-a-statement-on-russias-attack-on-ukraine-in-brussels-belgium-february-24-2022-ahead-of-an-eu-special-summit-called-today-to-discus European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Following a meeting in Brussels today, the has decided to grant temporary protection to refugees from Ukraine that will enable them to live, work and study in EU countries.

The decision will allow people fleeing the war in Ukraine to obtain a residence permit in the EU, which will also give them access to education and the labour market.

The temporary protection directive uses a mechanism that was drawn up in the early 2000s in response to wars in former Yugoslavia, but which has not been implemented before.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin chaired a ministerial meeting on Ukraine this afternoon to discuss the potential implications for Ireland.

A government brief of the meeting says that it considered economic and social impacts, as well humanitarian assistance.  

The government has acknowledged the generosity of the Irish people, “many of whom were already offering help, arrangements will be put in place to coordinate offers of practical assistance across the country.”

For now, the government is advising that people make donations to recognised charities, a list is available here

The government also notes that “energy supply and costs are likely to be particularly impacted” and that EU-wide efforts are underway to mitigate this. 

Earlier today, our reporter Ian Curran published an explainer on this very issue: 

Former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with an unexpected intervention. 

So – we’ve had a few emails in asking why Dublin’s Samuel Beckett Bridge is currently lit up in the colours of the Russian flag – white, blue and red, horizontal, from top to bottom. 

A few on Twitter have noted the same

It turns out that this is an unfortunate colour mix-up. 

The bridge is actually lit up in white, green, and red of Bulgaria’s flag in solidarity with the Bulgarian community in Ireland – according to the Ambassador of Bulgaria to Ireland Gergana Karadjova.

Even in this video, you can see where the confusion came from. Glad we cleared that up.

We’ll leave it at that for tonight guys – until tomorrow.

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