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Sunday 26 March 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Xinhua News Agency/PA Images Local residents receive humanitarian aid in the village of Anadol in Donetsk.
As it happened: Pentagon sees ‘no evidence’ yet of Belarusian troops moving inside Ukraine
The Ukrainian military says Kyiv may soon be encircled, with Russian forces moving in on areas north and west of the capital.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 11th 2022, 10:00 PM

AS THE INVASION of Ukraine passes the second-week mark, Russian forces are edging closer to the city of Kyiv.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Officials said the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv was being transformed into a “fortress”
  • Civilian targets came under Russian shelling in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro today, killing one person.
  • There were airstrikes also reported in Lutsk, a city in north-western Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rejected the Russian assertion that Ukraine is planning on using chemical weapons.
  • EU leaders have agreed to phase out using Russian oil and gas by 2027.
  • The UN’s refugee agency estimates more than 2.5 million refugees have left Ukraine since the invasion.
  • The UN says two other Ukrainian maternity hospitals have been attacked and destroyed, including one in Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv, in addition to the Mariupol attack.

Good morning, Adam Daly here to bring you through the latest updates on the war in Ukraine.

Here are some of the main points to know this morning:

  • The capital Kyiv may soon be encircled, with Russian forces moving in on areas north and west of the capital, the Ukrainian military says, with four other major cities effectively besieged.
  • The Ukrainian military said fighting is raging for control of the northern city of Chernihiv and Kharkiv and Severodonetsk in the east.
  • A kindergarten and an apartment block are hit in the first airstrikes on the central city of Dnipro, with at least one person dead.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said trucks carrying food and medicine to the besieged city of Mariupol – without water and power for 11 days – were attacked by Russian tanks.
  • The Russian army claims the deadly bomb attack on Mariupol’s children’s hospital was “staged” by Ukraine.
  • Ukraine said at least 71 children have been killed and more than 100 wounded since the Russian invasion began.
  • Irish student Racheal Diyaolu arrived home last night after being trapped in the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine when the country was invaded. 
  • Moscow promised to open humanitarian corridors every day to allow Ukrainians to flee, but Kyiv has rejected routes leading into Russia or its ally Belarus.
  • The UN Security Council will meet today after Russia says biological weapons are being developed in Ukraine, claims both Washington and Kyiv deny. The US says the allegations are a sign Moscow could soon use the weapons itself.
  • European Union leaders tell Ukraine there is no fast way to join the bloc, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte saying membership is “for the long term, if at all.”
  • The UN says more than 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine – more than half to Poland.

In what appeared to be the first direct attack on the city of Dnipro, civilian targets came under Russian shelling in the central Ukrainian city of today, killing one, emergency services said.

Early this morning, “there were three air strikes on the city, namely hitting a kindergarten, an apartment building and a two-story shoe factory, starting a fire. One person died,” the emergency services said in a statement.

Shelling was also reported in Lutsk, a city in the northwest.

Our reporter Niall O’Connor is back reporting from the Polish border town of Przemys this morning, where Ukrainian refugees have been arriving from Kyiv and Lviv. You can follow him here.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has shared images of a man who they say lost his entire family after a rocket hit where they were staying in Marhalivka, outside Kyiv.

“This man and his family left Kyiv to be safe. The rocket hit his house, there were 12 people: children (two grandchildren and two nieces), wife, daughter, sister… Only he and his cat survived.”

Irish medical student Racheal Diyaolu, who was living in the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine when the country was invaded, arrived back in Dublin last night after five days of travelling.

“After 15 sleepless nights and buckets of tears, my family and I are at peace knowing she’s home and safe. A sincere thank you to everyone for all the love, prayers and support shown to us,” Racheal’s sister Christiana tweeted this morning.

“Words cannot describe how grateful we are. To Joe and Gary, our brave heroes, we’ll be singing your praises till the end of time! We’re ordering the extra dinner table seats as we speak! To @dfatirl [Department of Foreign Affairs] for sorting Racheal out once she got to the border! Thank you!”

The 19-year-old Carlow native made it to the border with the help of Joe McCarthy and Gary Taylor, landscape gardeners from Scotland who have been travelling throughout the war-torn country helping people get out.

RTÉ News was there last night when Racheal was finally reunited with her family in Dublin Airport’s arrival hall:

Two casualties reported in Lutsk: local officials

Two Ukrainian soldiers were killed this morning in Russian strikes on the Lutsk military airport in northwest Ukraine, local authorities said.

“At 05:45 am (0345 GMT), four rockets were fired… by a Russian army bomber on the Lutsk military airfield,” said regional administration official Yuriy Pohuliayko on Telegram, adding that “two soldiers were killed and six wounded”.

Earlier, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konachenkov announced that “Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk military airfields had been put out of action”.

Lutsk mayor Ihor Polishchuk wrote on Facebook: “Explosions at the airport side. Everyone to shelters! Do not publish any photos, addresses or coordinates!”

EU douses Ukraine’s hope of quick accession to the bloc

france-paris-informal-european-council-meeting Xinhua News Agency / PA Images French President Emmanuel Macron (L), president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (C) are seen ahead of the informal European Council meeting in the Palace of Versailles. Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

EU leaders doused Ukraine’s hopes of quickly gaining European Union membership, as they met to urgently address the fallout of Russia’s invasion of its pro-Brussels neighbour.

Leaders used the talks at the Palace of Versailles to reiterate that a speedy path to membership was impossible.

In a statement published this morning, the EU Council said it had “acted swiftly” and invited the Commission to submit its opinion on Ukraine’s application in accordance with the relevant provisions.

“Pending this and without delay, we will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family,” the statement read.

The Council also said it has invited the EU Commission to submit its opinions on the applications of the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.

Gráinne Ní Aodha reporting from day two of the European Council informal summit in Versailles:

Discussions on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the informal European Council summit finished just before 3am last night.

A plenary session began at 5.30pm yesterday, followed by a working dinner at 8.30pm.

The 27 prime ministers and EU leaders spent over three hours discussing Ukraine’s application to join the EU.

It’s understood that Ireland and eastern countries such as Lithuania expressed support for the process to be expedited.

It’s also understood that other states, such as the Netherlands, said it was important to keep to the usual processes for accession, as other countries have applied to join the EU.

Russian oil was also discussed last night, as expected, and on how the EU can reduce its dependency on it.

A position on Russian oil is expected to be agreed and publicly announced at end of summit in Versailles later today.

Russian prosecutors up oversight of foreign firms leaving country

Russian prosecutors have said they are ramping up control of foreign companies that decided to leave the country after Russia invaded Ukraine.

A flurry of Western companies – from H&M to McDonald’s to Ikea – have suspended their work in Russia since the start of military action in Ukraine.

“Prosecutors have established strict control over compliance with labour law, including the terms of employment contracts, the procedure for paying salaries and determining their size,” Russia’s Prosecutor General said in a statement.

It said the measure was taken “to ensure the interests of conscientious entrepreneurs and employees” of companies that said they were leaving the country.

Every instance of suspension of activity in Russia “will be given legal assessment” for signs of fictitious or deliberate bankruptcy, the prosecutors said, adding that the offence is punishable by criminal law.

It also pointed to the “inadmissibility” of one-sided refusals of obligations by companies that are planning to leave.

Putin backs plans to send volunteer fighters to Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has backed plans to allow volunteers to fight in Ukraine, where he has sent thousands of Russian troops in what he calls a “special military operation”.

“If you see that there are people who want on a voluntary basis (to help east Ukraine’s separatists), then you need to meet them halfway and help them move to combat zones,” Putin told Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during a televised security council meeting.

According to Shoigu, more than 16,000 volunteers – mostly from the Middle East – have appealed to join the military action.

“As for the supply of arms, especially Western-made, which ended up in the hands of the Russian army, of course I support the possibility of transferring them to the military units of DNR and LNR,” Putin said referring to the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in Ukraine’s east.

Putin also ordered that Shoigu prepare a separate report on strengthening Russia’s western borders “in connection to the actions that NATO countries are taking in this direction”.

Russian convoy fans out around Kyiv, new satellite photos show

embedded6666320 Maxar Technologies / AP/PA A long line of people and cars waiting by the damaged Irpin River bridge during the Russian invasion, in Irpin Maxar Technologies / AP/PA / AP/PA

A massive convoy outside the Ukrainian capital has split up and fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv, with artillery pieces raised into firing position in a potentially ominous movement of the Russian military, new satellite photos appeared to show.

Imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that the 40-mile convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, the company said.

Armoured units were seen in towns near the Antonov airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported, with towed howitzers [artillery guns] nearby in position to open fire.

The convoy had massed outside the city early last week, but its advance appeared to stall as reports of food and fuel shortages circulated. US officials said Ukrainian troops also targeted the convoy with anti-tank missiles.

embedded265769303 Felipe Dana / AP/PA Destroyed Russian tanks are seen on a main road after battles near Brovary, north of Kyiv Felipe Dana / AP/PA / AP/PA

JUST IN: EU proposes extra €500 million for Ukraine military aid

The European Union is proposing to double financing for military aid to Ukraine by an additional €500 million, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said.

Josep Borrell said he was “certain” EU leaders meeting in France would agree to expand the spending package that has seen the bloc fund weapons going to Ukraine.

2.5 million people have now fled Ukraine: UN

medyka-poland-11th-mar-2022-elena-ties-her-son-danilo-in-a-blanket-shortly-after-crossing-the-border-both-of-them-fled-from-dnieper-russian-troops-invaded-ukraine-on-february-24-credit-sebasti Alamy Stock Photo In Medyka, Poland Elena ties her son Danilo in a blanket shortly after crossing the border. Both of them fled from Dnieper. Alamy Stock Photo

Two and a half million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded and another two million have been internally displaced by the war, the United Nations has said this morning.

The UN Refugee Agency’s chief Filippo Grandi tweeted that millions had been “forced to leave their homes by this senseless war”.

“The number of refugees from Ukraine – tragically – has reached today 2.5 million,” UNHCR chief Grandi tweeted.

“We also estimate that about two million people are displaced inside Ukraine. Millions forced to leave their homes by this senseless war.”

Paul Dillon, spokesman for the UN’s International Organization for Migration, said the two and a half million people who had fled Ukraine included 116,000 nationals from other countries.

Before Russia invaded, more than 37 million people lived in Ukrainian territory under the control of the central government in Kyiv. More than half of those who have fled have gone to Poland.

A family who escaped violence in Afghanistan eight months ago have been forced to flee their home for a second time after war broke out in Ukraine. / YouTube

Home for persons with disabilities near Kharkiv hit by Russian strikes: reports

A care home for persons with disabilities near Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine was hit by Russian air strikes, a local official said this morning, without confirming casualty figures.

“The enemy today hit a specialised establishment for disabled people near Oskil,” regional official Oleg Sinegubov wrote on Telegram.

There were 330 people in the building at the time of the attack, he said, including 10 who required wheelchairs and 50 with reduced mobility.

He added that 63 had since been evacuated, without giving details on the others.

“The Russians have again carried out a brutal attack against civilians,” said Sinegubov. “It is a war crime against civilians.”

The latest from The Journal’s Niall O’Connor in Poland:

u-s-president-joe-biden-departs-after-delivering-remarks-to-democratic-national-committee-members-at-their-winter-meeting-in-washington-on-march-10-2022-photo-by-yuri-gripasabacapress-com Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

US President Joe Biden is set to announce, along with the European Union and the G7, a call to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status over its invasion of Ukraine, according to reports.

Individual countries are expected to implement the measure based on their national processes, CNN reported, and it requires an act of Congress in the US.

Most favoured nation (MFN) is an international trade status accorded by one state to another, and means the country which is the recipient must nominally receive equal trade advantages.

CNN reported that sources familiar with the matter said there had already been congressional efforts to revoke Russia’s MFN status, called permanent normal trade relations in the US.

Biden’s schedule for today says he will “announce actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine.”

The CNN report said Biden will make the announcement today, and Congress is then expected to introduce legislation.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says the EU is monitoring sanctions placed on Russia, with “further engagement” from week to week promised to make sure they’re not being evaded or “undermined”.

Gráinne Ní Aodha brings us this report from Versailles on the second day of the EU Council summit:

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said that the EU was monitoring sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, and that there will be “further engagement” from week to week to make sure they’re not being evaded or “undermined”.

Donohoe was speaking to reporters in Versailles ahead of giving a briefing to the heads of state of the EU on what the economic state of Europe is. Despite a “heightened state of uncertainty” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there was an expectation that the economy of the Eurogroup members would grow this year.

The effect of sanctions on Russia will be monitored, and it will be decided “whether additional measures need to be put in place to make sure [sanctions] cannot be undermined”.

In response to a question from The Journal on whether there were lessons here to be learned on how to implement sanctions effectively, as sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea in 2014 were criticised as weak and loopholes, Donohoe said they took those measures at the time because they believed they were “proportionate and strong”.

“I think undoubtedly at a point in the future when I hope we will have been successful in diffusing the war of terror that’s now underway and delivered a resolution through peaceful engagement and diplomacy, we will all look back on the actions over the last decade – how we’ve engaged with Russia, how we’ve engaged with Central and Eastern Europe, and we will ask and question the choices that we made then.

“Each decision that was made, was made at that point because we believed it was a proportionate and strong action. I was a member of the general affairs council, and then the Eurogroup, when many of these issues were being discussed, and at each point, we believed we were putting steps in place that were proportionate to it.

“For now, our focus has to be on how we ensure that a massive sanctions package that is undermining the ability of Vladimir Putin to fund his war, that those sanctions are fully implemented.”

nato-secretary-general-jens-stoltenberg-attends-a-news-conference-amid-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-in-adazi-latvia-march-8-2022-reutersints-kalnins Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

NATO must not allow Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to spill over into a war between the alliance and Moscow, its chief Jens Stoltenberg has said, again ruling out a no-fly zone.

“We have a responsibility to prevent this conflict from escalating beyond Ukraine’s borders to becoming a full-fledged war between Russia and NATO,” the NATO secretary-general told AFP in an interview on the sidelines of a forum in Turkey.

He warned that a no-fly zone over Ukraine would “most likely lead to a full war between NATO and Russia”, causing “so much more suffering, so much more death and destruction”.

Stoltenberg said a no-fly zone over Ukraine would mean that NATO would have to take out Russian air defence systems not only in Ukraine, but also around Belarus and Russia.

“It will mean that we need to be ready to shoot down Russian planes because a no-fly zone is not only something you declare you have to impose it,” he told AFP at the Antalya diplomacy forum organised by Turkey.

He added that the training of tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops by NATO member states in recent years, as well as the supply of military equipment, had proved “extremely important (for Ukraine’s forces) in the fight against invading Russian forces”.

 ”The most important thing is that President (Vladimir) Putin should end this senseless war,” he said.

“Withdraw all its forces and engage in good faith in diplomatic political efforts to find a political solution.”

He also praised Turkey’s move to facilitate talks on Thursday between the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya: “It is important that allies continue to try to support, facilitate a political solution.”

Hi folks, Tadgh McNally here taking over the Liveblog from Adam for the next while.

This morning, the UK’s Foreign Office has announced that it will be sanctioning all 386 members of the Russian parliament for their support of the breakaway regions of Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk.

In a statement this afternoon, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that it was to target those who supported Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

We’re targeting those complicit in Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and those who support this barbaric war. We will not let up the pressure and will continue to tighten the screw on the Russian economy through sanctions.

Together with our allies, we stand firmly beside our Ukrainian friends. We will continue to support Ukraine with humanitarian aid, defensive weapons and diplomatic work to isolate Russia internationally.

A spokesperson for the UK Prime Minister has said that if Russia were to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, there would be a “robust” response from the rest of the world.

It comes as the US raised concerns around Russia accusing Ukraine of developing chemical weapons, which has sounded alarms about the potential for Moscow to use chemical weapons on the ground in Ukraine.

Johnson’s spokesperson would not get into hypotheticals and called for Russia not to use them.

You saw after the Salisbury poisoning the UK’s response as well as the response of other nations.

But I wouldn’t get into hypotheticals, you’ve seen what the Prime Minister said about the use of chemical weapons and the fact we’re calling for Russia not to use them.

The international community has always responded robustly following the use of chemical weapons, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and try and look into the future, but you’ve seen what the Prime Minister’s said and we continue to call for Russia not to use chemical weapons.”

Putin says there are ‘positive shifts’ in negotiations

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that there have been “positive shifts” in the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

In a televised meeting between the two, Putin said that his negotiators reported back the positive shift.

There are certain positive shifts, negotiators from our side reported to me.

He added that the negotiations are now being held on an almost daily basis.

russia-belarus Mikhail Klimentyev Mikhail Klimentyev

Lutsk air strike: Officials update death toll to four

Four Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a Russian air strike on a military airport in Lutsk, according to local officials in the city.

The death toll has increased from this morning, when Mayor Igor Polishchuk announced that two soldiers had been killed in the attack.

Officials have also reported that six people were injured in the attack.

“At 05:45 am (0345 GMT), four rockets were fired… by a Russian army bomber on the Lutsk military airfield,” said regional administration official Yuriy Pohuliayko on Telegram.

Plan International Ireland, a humanitarian organisation that focuses on children’s rights, is on the ground on the Ukrainian border in both Poland and Romania.

They’re currently stationed there as part of the Irish Emergency Alliance to help support the refugees fleeing from Ukraine.

Plan International’s Child protection in emergencies specialist Lotte Claessens is stationed in Poland and has said that most of the people arriving from Ukraine are women and children.

What we are seeing here is that families arrive, and they mostly consist of women and children.

What people need is urgent support because this is an extremely stressful situation.

Children and their parents are extremely anxious, and they don’t know what is going to happen, both in their country of Ukraine but also in their country of arrival.

Claessens says that there are long-term preparations underway in Poland to ensure that children fleeing from the war in Ukraine are able to join schools in Poland.

Organisations are now preparing together with the schools to ensure that Ukrainian children can join the Polish children in the schools.

So we see that there is a lot of preparation for a long term situation where, potentially, millions of Ukrainians are hosted in Poland.

Rest facilities have been set up inside sports hall for Ukrainian refugees in Poland_Photo Credit_Plan International Plan International Ireland A sports hall temporarily set up with rest facilities for refugees fleeing Ukraine Plan International Ireland

Our reporter, Niall O’Connor is back at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medyka this afternoon.

He’s been speaking to some of the people getting ready to cross into Ukraine, including Hans, a German medical aid worker who is bringing medical supplies to a hospital in Lviv.

He’s also reporting that there are huge queues of German medics trying to get into Ukraine with medical supplies.

Image from iOS (2) Niall O'Connor Trucks waiting to cross into Ukraine at Medyka today Niall O'Connor

Zelenskyy calls for EU to do more

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the European Union to do more to support Ukraine, after the bloc poured cold water over its hopes of a quick accession during an informal summit in Versailles yesterday.

In a video message on Telegram today, Zelenskyy said that the actions of European politicians needed to reflect the mood of the European public.

The European Union should do more. It must do more for us, for Ukraine.

The decisions of politicians must coincide with the mood of their people.

Zelenskyy slams Russia deploying Syria ‘murderers’ to Ukraine

Zelenskyy also criticised the Kremlin after it said that volunteers including from Syria would be welcomed to fight alongside Russia’s military in Ukraine.

In a video statement on Telegram he said Russia was hiring “murderers” from Syria to fight in Ukraine: “It’s a war with a very stubborn enemy… who has decided to hire mercenaries against our citizens. Murderers from Syria, a country where everything has been destroyed… like they are doing here to us.”

Dozens of men in camouflage, hoisting Kalashnikov assault rifles and pro-Russian banners, appeared in footage Russia’s defence ministry said was a gathering of veterans in Syria, eager to join the Ukraine conflict.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the decision to send volunteer fighters to Ukraine was within reason, claiming that the United States was backing measures to send mercenaries to fight alongside Kyiv’s army in Ukraine.

“If the West is so enthusiastic about the arrival of mercenaries, then we also have volunteers who want to participate,” Peskov told journalists.

Q&A: Answering reader questions on sanctions, no-fly zones and scenarios for the war ending

In our latest Q&A, we’re addressing more questions sent in by readers about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this edition of the series, we answer reader questions on how Russian media is reporting the invasion, scenarios for how the war might end and why a no-fly zone over Ukraine is currently considered to be off the cards.

If you would like to submit a question to our team please send it to: 


Irish donation of blood bags and medical equipment sent to Ukraine

Ireland has sent 4,000 blood bags and 50,000 medical masks to Ukraine, as part of an effort to support its health service.

The Government, working with the HSE, has donated thousands of items designed to help Ukrainian medics, as part of an EU-wide effort.

Four thousand blood bags were donated by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and sent to Ukraine on Monday from a supplier in Poland, while 10,000 bio-protection suits, as well as 50,000 medical-grade masks and more than 2,500 litres of disinfectant were dispatched today.

The Department of Health confirmed that, alongside the HSE, staff are planning further donations to Ukraine and neighbouring countries as the Russian invasion shows no sign of ending.

A musical interlude now from Medyka near Poland’s border with Ukraine.

The Journal’s Niall O’Connor says the man in the below video has been playing the piano in the same spot for the past two days as refugees continue to arrive from Ukraine.

Six in 10 of those who have fled Ukraine are now in Poland, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

Access to Instagram restricted in Russia

Russia’s media regulator has restricted access to Instagram after prosecutors opened a case against the social media giant’s parent company Meta, saying the company was permitting calls for violence against Russians on its platforms.

“The Instagram social network distributes materials containing calls to commit violent acts against citizens of the Russian Federation, including military personnel,” Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor said in a statement explaining the decision.

Following the Russian assault of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, there were serious concerns raised about the potential impact of the attack on destabilising the plant and causing a nuclear incident.

National Public Radio (NPR) in the US has carried out some analysis of the Russian assault and found that it was “far riskier” than it was first reported.

Here’s a thread from NPR correspondent Geoff Brumfiel.

Calls for supports for refugees arriving into Cork and Shannon

There have been calls by multiple TDs to establish supports for refugees in both Cork and Shannon airports.

Two Clare TDs, Fine Gael’s Martin Conway and Independent Micheal McNamara have called for supports to be set up in the two airports.

According to McNamara, refugees arriving into Shannon are having to wait to be taken to the reception outside Dublin airport.

I contacted Minister McEntee today to highlight the unnecessary discrepancy between the manner in which Ukrainian refugees arriving in Ireland via Shannon Airport are received compared to refugees arriving via Dublin Airport.

It is entirely unreasonable people must wait for transportation to come from Dublin rather than locally where there is plenty of transport options to provide the service. Furthermore, it is not clear to me why a reception centre cannot be established in Shannon.

Conway said:

Current flights from Eastern Europe arriving into Shannon Airport weekly include three from Budapest, two from Kaunas, three from Krakow, two from Wroclaw and two from Warsaw. Current flights from Eastern Europe into Cork Airport weekly include two from Gdansk and two from Poznan.

“Authorities need to keep a close watch on the numbers arriving to ensure people travelling in through other ports of entry outside Dublin are met with the necessary supports and services they require.

‘Race against time’ to get medical supplies to Ukrainian cities

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have said that they are concerned about getting medical supplies to the right places before cities are completely encircled by the Russian military.

“As hospitals in the east become overwhelmed with increasing numbers of war trauma patients, their supplies are dwindling… and we don’t know how long it will be before Kyiv may be cut off,” said Anja Wolz, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Ukraine.

Wolz says that due to the brutal impact of the war, the humanitarian response needs to be “at scale and at speed”.

According to the MSF, originally medicines associated with critical care and ICU were being prioritised to get to cities on the frontline, but now there are concerns about other key medical items, like insulin, inhalers for asthma patients and other drugs.

“We fear that it will get harder, perhaps rapidly so, to move medical supplies and medical staff to where they are needed, hence the real urgency to move fast on this now,” says Wolz.

EU agreement to phase out Russian gas, oil and coal

In Versaille, The Journal‘s Gráinne Ní Aodha is now reporting that EU leaders have agreed to phase out all Russian oil, gas and coalby 2027.

The agreement was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon, who says that the crisis has “crisis has made us face up to our responsibilities.”

First, our duty is to continue ensuring reliable, secure and affordable supply of energy to European consumers. In the mid-term this means getting rid of our dependency on Russian fossil fuels.

By the end of May we will propose to phase out our dependency on Russian gas, oil and coal by 2027. It will be backed by the necessary national and European resources. And we’ll present options to optimise the electricity market design, so it better supports the green transition.

You can read the full report here.

russia-ukraine-war-eu-summit AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

Russia will no longer have ‘favoured nation status’: Biden

In a short address this afternoon, US President Joe Biden has announced that Russia will no longer have ‘favoured nation status’ with America and multiple other countries.

Favoured nation status is a trading relationship, where two countries agree to trade with one another on the most favourable terms.

With this revoked, it will be harder for Russia to trade with the US and other countries that rescind the status, Biden said.

Revoking PNTR [US favoured nation status] for Russia is going to make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States.

Doing it in unison with other nations that make up half the global economy will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy.

Biden also announced a ban of imports into the US of several key Russian exports, including seafood, vodka and diamonds.

biden Andrew Harnik US President Joe Biden announcing the measures this afternoon. Andrew Harnik

Following his remarks, Biden didn’t stay long and only responded to one question from a reporter, who asked what the US response would be if Russia used chemical weapons in Ukraike.

In response, Biden said:

I’m not going to speak about the intelligence, but Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons.

SIPTU call on Government to turn away oil tanker from Dublin Port

SIPTU have called on both the Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Dublin Port chief executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, to turn away an oil tanker that is set to arrive in the port tomorrow.

The STI Clapham, which is carrying Russian oil is currently travelling from South Stifford in the UK.

SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Karan O Loughlin, said that SIPTU members are angry that the boat is being given permission to land.

Given the unfolding horror in Ukraine as the invasion by Russian forces aggressively proceeds, our members and other workers who are expected to unload this vessel are angry and upset at being put in this position.

While a range of different sanctions are being rolled out across the EU against Russia, the Government needs to speak up on humanitarian grounds and turn this vessel around. It is unconscionable to accept this cargo in the present circumstances. 

Ireland is a militarily neutral country but that does not mean we cannot help the victims of this unjust and unnecessary war by extending our solidarity in other ways.

Dublin Port is wholly owned by the State so the Government has the authority to refuse entry for this vessel. Workers should not be expected to carry the weight of circumstances such as these and are urgently calling on the Government and the Dublin Port company to ensure the STI Clapham is prevented from landing its Russian oil cargo in Ireland.

global shipping 80 Sam Boal Dublin Port Sam Boal

Over 90% of Ukrainians think they can beat Russia: poll

New polling coming out of Ukraine today indicates that 92% of Ukrainians believe that they can repel Russia’s invasion.

AFP is reporting that the Ratings polling agency carried out the survey, polling 1,200 people across Ukraine – except in Donbas and Russian annexed Crimea – over the phone on 8 and 9 March.

92% of respondents felt that Ukraine would be able to repel the Russian invasion, while 6% said they felt hopeless.

Of those who thought Ukraine could win, 57% said that it would take weeks while 18% believed that the war would last months.

80% of respondents said that they were helping to defend Ukraine, with 39% said they were helping people and the army as volunteers while 37% said they were helping financially.

Our reporter Niall O’Connor is still at the border crossing in Medyka this afternoon, where he’s reporting from inside a small supermarket that refugees are using to stay warm.

Russia will not capture Kyiv: Ukrainian MP

A Ukrainian MP who is in Kyiv has said that she is “convinced” that Russia will not be able to capture the city.

Inna Sovsun, deputy leader of the Holos Party said that Russia is facing logistical issues following satellite imagery showing a Russian convoy fanning out into towns around Kyiv.

Sovsun, speaking to PA, said:

Their plans are often ruined by our army and Territorial Defence… I’m convinced that they won’t manage to capture Kyiv.

But still, millions of civilians may be in danger – Russian bombardments and missile attacks are true terror which should be stopped as soon as possible.

I want to stress it once again that a no-fly zone over Ukrainian sky is a vital thing, for the people of Ukraine, for our children… there is no time for doubts concerning transfers of fighter jets (and) surface-to-air missile systems.

UN Security Council meeting

A meeting of the UN Security Council is currently underway now, after Russia said that biological weapons were being manufactured in Ukraine, which have been denied by both the US and Ukraine.

Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, pressed that the US was developing biological weapons in Ukraine during the Security Council meeting.

Yesterday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the allegations in a video address saying: “No one is developing any chemical or any other weapons of mass destruction” in Ukraine.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, hit back at the Russians, saying that Russia have a track record of falsely accusing other countries.

She said that there were “serious concerns” that Russia was planning on using biological weapons against Ukraine.

Russian Major General killed in Ukraine

Press Association is reporting that a third Russian Major General has been killed in fighting in Ukraine.

Maj Gen Andrei Kolesnikov, the commander of the Eastern Military District, is the most recent senior Russian officer to die since the Russian invasion began on 24 February, says the Ukrainian army.

Two other major generals, Vitaly Gerasimov and Andrei Sukhovetsky have also been killed during the war.

Just in: Ukraine believes that Belarus will begin an invasion of Ukraine at 9pm this evening (7pm Irish time).

According to a Ukrainian government agency, preliminary data suggests that Belarus will begin the invasion today following a false flag attack on Belarus by Russia.

More sanctions announced by EU

A fourth round of sanctions on Russia has been announced by the EU and will come into effect tomorrow, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

There are six main targets as part of this tranche of sanctions, including:

  • Removing Russia as a ‘most favoured nation’ for trade.
  • Blocking the use of cryptocurrency for oligarchs to bypass existing sanctions.
  • Ban the export of luxury goods from EU countries to Russia.
  • A ban on new European investments in Russia’s energy sector.

UN issue warning to Russia over war crimes

The UN’s Human Rights office has issued a strong statement to Russia over its concerns around a rising civilian casualty rate due to the invasion of Ukraine.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that they have recorded 564 civilians killed and 982 injured, but acknowledged that the actual figure was much higher.

In a statement this afternoon, the office warned Russia that area bombardment of towns and villages are prohibited under international law and that they may amount to war crimes.

“We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes,” said OHCHR spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell.

Civilians are being killed and maimed in what appear to be indiscriminate attacks, with Russian forces using explosive weapons with wide area effects in or near populated areas.

We have also received credible reports of several cases of Russian forces using cluster munitions, including in populated areas.

Throssell says that the use of cluster munitions in populated areas is against humanitarian law principals.

That’s it from me, Tadgh McNally, on the Liveblog today. I’ll leave you in the capable hands of my colleague Eoghan Dalton.

Hi folks, Eoghan Dalton here to take you through for the next while this evening.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said neighbouring countries are very concerned about where Russian leader Vladimir Putin might go next.

Speaking following the two-day meeting of the European Council in Versailles, he said “firmer measures” may be found at the council’s next meeting at the end of this month.

“They don’t believe that he is going to stop at Ukraine, hence their sense and indeed the European Union’s sense that the most robust response has to be delivered by the European Union in the form of very, very strong economic sanctions and again wider possible sanctions were discussed last evening,” he told PA.

He said there was also a lot of concern around fuel and the rising dependency on Russian gas and oil, with strategies around how that dependency can be reduced.

Clegg: Meta does not tolerate Russophia

Nick Clegg has said Meta “does not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians” on Instagram.

The president of global affairs for Meta said the company was focused on “protecting people’s rights to speech as an expression of self defence in reaction to a military invasion of their country” following a decision by Russian authorities to restrict access to the app.

He said the easing of its policy to temporarily allow violent speech will only apply “in Ukraine itself”.

Clegg tweeted: “Responding to reports that the Russian government is considering designating Meta as an extremist organisation for its policies in support of speech.”

He then posted the following statement: “There has been a lot of coverage and discussion of how we are applying our policies to speech in the context of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I want to be crystal clear: our policies are focused on protecting people’s rights to speech as an expression of self defence in reaction to a military invasion of their country.

“The fact is, if we applied our standard content policies without any adjustments, we would now be removing content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces, which would rightly be viewed as unacceptable.

“To be clear, we are only going to apply this policy in Ukraine itself. We have no quarrel with the Russian people. There is no change at all in our policies on hate speech as far as the Russian people are concerned.

“We will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians on our platform.”

“This is a temporary decision taken in extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances. We will be keeping the situation under review in the period ahead.”

Western countries accused Russia of spreading “wild” conspiracy theories at the United Nations Friday after Moscow’s envoy told diplomats that America and Ukraine had researched using bats to conduct biological warfare.

Moscow called a meeting of the 15-member Security Council to repeat its previously made, unsubstantiated claims that Washington had funded biological weapons research in Ukraine.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said Kyiv had operated a network of 30 laboratories carrying out “very dangerous biological experiments” aimed at spreading “viral pathogens” from bats to people.

The pathogens included the plague, anthrax, cholera and other lethal diseases, Nebenzia said in Russian, without providing any evidence.

“Experiments were being conducted to study this spread of dangerous diseases using active parasites such as lice and fleas,” he told diplomats.

Washington and Kyiv have denied the existence of laboratories intended to produce biological weapons in the country.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs, told the meeting the UN “was not aware of any biological weapons program in Ukraine.”

British ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward said Russia had used the Security Council to utter “a series of wild, completely baseless and irresponsible conspiracy theories.”

“Let me put it diplomatically: they are utter nonsense. There is not a shred of credible evidence that Ukraine has a biological weapons program,” she said.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States’ envoy to the UN, said the US has helped Ukraine operate public health facilities that detect diseases like Covid-19.

“This is work that has been done proudly, clearly, and out in the open. This work has everything to do with protecting the health of people. It has absolutely nothing to do with biological weapons,” she explained.

Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of requesting the meeting “for the sole purpose of lying and spreading disinformation.”

She said the United States was “deeply concerned” that Russia had called the session as part of a “false flag effort” for using chemical weapons of its own in Ukraine.

“Russia has a track record of falsely accusing other countries of the very violations that Russia itself is perpetrating,” she said.

Chelsea have had several accounts temporarily frozen while banks assess the Stamford Bridge club’s new operating licence, the PA news agency is reporting.

Roman Abramovich’s Government sanctions have frozen all the billionaire’s UK assets barring Chelsea, with the club continuing to operate under special, stringent conditions.

Owner Abramovich was sanctioned on Thursday after the Conservative Government claimed to have proven the 55-year-old’s links to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Pentagon sees ‘no evidence’ yet of Belarussian troops moving inside Ukraine

The United States has not seen evidence that troops from close Russian ally Belarus are in Ukraine, the Pentagon said tonight.

“We haven’t seen any indications that Belarusian troops or forces have moved inside Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“We’re not tracking any imminent involvement by Belarusian forces,” Kirby said. “That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen or that it wouldn’t happen.”

The Pentagon spokesman said the United States had noted comments by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that his country’s forces would “come to the defense of the rear of Russian forces should they be attacked.”

“That’s the first time that he’s ever said anything about Belarus perhaps getting involved,” Kirby said, but there are “no indications at this time that they have or that that’s in the offing.”

A senior US defense official said earlier Friday that Russian forces have launched more than 80 missiles into Ukraine from Belarus.

That represents about 10 percent of the more than 800 Russian missiles fired into Ukraine since the invasion began, the official said.

Russian troops have fired nearly 400 missiles from inside Ukraine while just under half have been fired from Russia, the official said.

That’s all from myself, Eoghan Dalton, so I’ll now hand you over to my colleague Lauren Boland for the rest of this evening.

The Irish-Syria Solidarity Movement is planning a protest outside the Russian Embassy this weekend to mark 11 years since the start of the Syrian revolution.

“In spite of 11 years of slaughter, disappearance, torture and forced displacement and exile, Syrians all over the world and in Syria still dream of and demand home, dignity and freedom,” the campaign group said in a statement today.

As Putin’s reign of terror is once again visited on the people of Ukraine, we must stand against this terror and call it out for what it is, wherever it is – a truly fascist pursuit of power for power’s sake, by whatever means available.

“The rules of war and the rules of diplomacy do not apply as far as this utterly amoral ruler is concerned -whether in Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea & Donbass, Syria or Ukraine.”

Ireland isn’t the only country where the price of fuel is skyrocketing - the effects of the Russian invasion on energy costs are being felt around the world.

Statista reports that the average cost of gas has surpassed its previous all-time high, which had been recorded back in July 2008 before the recession.

Infographic: Gas Prices Surpass $4 in Most U.S. States | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

Sanctions for Russians helping North Korea

Also in the US, new economic sanctions are being imposed against two Russian individuals and three entities due to support for North Korea’s weapons program.

The sanctions target “a network of Russia-based individuals and entities” complicit in helping North Korea to “procure components for its unlawful ballistic missile systems”, according to Brian Nelson, the US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

That’s it for our liveblog for this evening – thanks for following along. You can continue to find updates on our main home page and we’ll be back in the morning with another liveblog.

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