According to the United Nations, there have been at least 240 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 64 deaths, since Thursday’s Russian invasion. However, it believes the actual numbers are much higher as many casualties still remain to be confirmed.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs transmitted the count late Saturday from the U.N. Human Rights office. This office has rigorous methodologies and verification procedures regarding the toll of conflict.
OCHA also stated that damage to civil infrastructure has deprived hundreds of thousands of people access to electricity and water. OCHA produced a map showing “humanitarian conditions” in Ukraine, mostly in the northern, eastern, and southern regions.
Early Friday, the human rights office reported that its staff had compiled an initial count of civilian casualties. This included 25 deaths and 102 injuries, mostly due to shelling or airstrikes.
PARIS — The French President Emmanuel Macron asked his Belarusian counterpart to insist that Ukraine, its neighbor, immediately order Russian troops to withdraw.
In a telephone conversation, Macron decried “the gravity” of Russia’s decision to allow Russia to use nuclear weapons on Belarus soil. This was according to a statement from the presidential palace.
The statement stated that Macron had told Alexander Lukashenko by Macron that Belarus should be fraternal with Ukraine and Belarus should “refuse” to become a Russian vassal or accomplice in the war against Ukraine.
According to a senior U.S. defense officer, Belarus was one of many axes Russia used to attack Ukraine.
Macron has been persistent in his efforts to get a ceasefire during the war. He used the telephone to communicate with all sides and use diplomacy as well as sanctions from the European Union.
MOSCOW — Russia has closed its airspace to planes coming from Lithuania, Latvia Estonia, Slovenia and Slovenia. This comes as Moscow’s relations with the West fall to new lows after its invasion of Ukraine.
Rosaviatsiya Russia’s State Aviation Agency, stated early Sunday that it was taking the action in retaliation to the closure of airspace by four countries for Russian planes.
The agency reported that they had also closed the Russian airspace to planes coming from the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and Poland on Saturday in response.
WASHINGTON — On Saturday, the U.S. and European Union agreed to block certain Russian banks from SWIFT’s global financial messaging system. They also agreed to impose “restrictive steps” on their central bank as a retaliation to its invasion of Ukraine.
These measures were jointly announced as part of a new set of financial sanctions that aimed to impose severe costs on Russia in the event of an invasion.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, stated that she would press the bloc to also “paralyze Russia’s Central bank assets” in order to freeze its transactions.
She stated that cutting several commercial banks from SWIFT would “ensure that these banks are disconnected with the international financial system, and harm their ability for global operation,” she said.
She also stated that the EU would “commit itself to taking measures to limit sales of citizenship, so-called golden passports–that allow wealthy Russians to become citizens of our countries and have access to our financial system.”
COPENHAGEN– Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet reports that two freelancers were hurt when their car was struck by gunfire in the vicinity of Ohtyrka, eastern Ukraine.
Ekstra Bladet stated that the reporter and photographer were both taken to a local hospital. She added that their injuries weren’t life-threatening. Ekstra Bladet said that the paper had partnered with a security company to evacuate the journalists.
BERLIN — German officials stated Saturday that Russia is planning to close Germany’s airspace.
His ministry tweeted that Volker Wissing, Transport Minister, supports such a measure.
According to FlightAware.com, hours earlier, a DHL cargo plane registered in Germany made a sharp turn out of Russian airspace.
GENEVA — A well-respected Swiss newspaper reports that Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, asked his Swiss counterpart to act as a neutral mediator and work towards a ceasefire.
Daily Tages Angeizer reported that the request by Ignazio Cassis, Swiss President, was made in the context the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday. On Tuesday, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister is due to attend.
Cassis, who also heads the Swiss Foreign Ministry, did not confirm the report. It cited Swiss experience in dealing with these issues, including a mediation effort that was conducted by Switzerland following the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea.
A ministry spokesperson Andreas Heller said that he couldn’t confirm whether such communication took place between the presidents but added that Switzerland is ready to offer its “good office” for such an initiative.
MOSCOW — Saturday saw more Russians speak out against the invasion in Ukraine, even though their government’s rhetoric was becoming increasingly harsher.
Even though the protests were small, they resumed in Moscow, Russia’s capital. This is the second-largest Russian city after St. Petersburg. People took to the streets despite being detained on Thursday and Friday. According to OVD Info, a rights group that tracks political arrests and estimates that at least 460 people were arrested in 34 cities for protests against war on Saturday. This includes more than 200 in Moscow.
Open letters condemned Russia’s invasion in Ukraine continued to pour in. On Saturday, more than 6,000 doctors signed one; 3,400 engineers and architects endorsed another. 500 teachers also signed a third. Since Thursday, similar letters have circulated by journalists, members of municipal councils, cultural figures, and other professional groups.
Garage, a prominent Moscow-based contemporary art museum, announced Saturday that it would stop working on exhibitions and put them on hold “until the political and human tragedy in Ukraine has ended.”
UNITED NATIONS — Sunday afternoon, the U.N. Security Council will vote on a request from Ukraine to have an emergency session of its 193-member General Assembly. This is in response to Russia’s invasion.
A procedural vote can only be vetoed by the council. Nine of the 15 members of council must approve a procedural vote.
According to diplomats from the Council, approval is almost certain and that the emergency meeting is scheduled for Monday.
Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya tweeted that he had asked President Abdulla Shahid of the General Assembly to organize an emergency meeting within the next few days.
He stated that the meeting should be held in accordance with the “Uniting for Peace”, resolution. This resolution was initiated by the United States, and was adopted in November 1950 to avoid Soviet Union vetoes during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The General Assembly is empowered by the resolution to call an emergency meeting to discuss matters of international security and peace when the Security Council is unable or unwilling to act due to the absence of unanimity among five permanent members, the United States, Russia China, Britain, France, and China.
Russia vetoed Friday’s Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow cease its aggression on Ukraine and withdraw all troops.
BRUSSELS — A top diplomat in the European Union says he is calling an urgent meeting of its foreign ministers to discuss further measures against Russia, as it wages its military campaign against Ukraine.
Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, tweeted Saturday that he was convening a virtual meeting tomorrow at 18.00 Central European Time, 1700 GMT, to discuss further measures to support Ukraine and counter Russia’s aggression.
Borrell said he would propose to the ministers that they approve “an emergency assistance package for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, to support their heroic fight.”
This will be the third meeting of the ministers in one week. They have previously endorsed two sanctions packages: one targeting Russians involved with the recognition of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and another that targets Russia’s economy and freezes the assets of the president & foreign minister.
BERLIN — Russia’s space agency announced Saturday that it will suspend cooperation with European partners as a result of EU sanctions.
Roscosmos announced via Twitter that it would be withdrawing its personnel from Kourou (French Guiana) European Space Port.
Numerous European satellites were launched using Soyuz rockets from Kourou. More are planned for the future.
Thierry Breton is a senior EU official responsible for overseeing the 27-nation bloc’s space policy. He stated that Roscosmos’ decision will have “no consequences on the continuity or quality” of its Galileo global positioning system and the Copernicus program, which are both Earth observation satellites.
Breton stated that the EU would work to develop the Ariane 6 launchers and the VegaC launchers, “to ensure Europe’s strategic autonomy.”
BERLIN — The German government announced Saturday that it would send weapons and supplies to Ukraine in a major shift and supported some restrictions on the SWIFT global bank system for Russia.
The chancellery of Germany announced that it would send 1,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine and 500 “Stinger,” surface-to-air missiles “as fast as possible.”
“The Russian invasion in Ukraine is a turning point. It threatens our whole post-war order,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated in a statement. “In these circumstances, it is our duty help Ukraine defend itself against Vladimir Putin’s invading army.”
The German economy and climate ministry also stated that 400 anti-tank weapons made in Germany will be shipped to Ukraine by the Netherlands.
Germany has long maintained a policy of not supplying deadly weapons to war zones, including Ukraine. Officials from the government stated that they would continue to follow this policy as recently as Friday.
Ukrainian officials and allies have criticised the country for not acting decisively enough in order to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Germany had previously contributed 5,000 helmets for Ukraine’s defense.
Germany will also send 14 armored vehicles to Ukraine and as much as 10,000 tonnes of fuel.
ROME — According to the Ukrainian Embassy to Holy See, Pope Francis spoke on Saturday by telephone with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President.
The embassy tweeted that the “Holy Father” expressed his deepest sorrow for the tragic events taking place in their country.
Zelenskyy tweeted that the pontiff had been “praying for peace and a ceasefire in Ukraine” His Holiness is a spiritual support to the Ukrainian people.
Pope Francis, who has called war folly repeatedly, has designated March 2, Ash Wednesday as a day for fasting and praying for peace.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zeleskyy said that he is open to talks with Russia.
Zelenskyy stated in a video message Saturday, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdan and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev offered their help to organize such talks. He said that he could only accept such a gesture.
Zelenskyy said that Erdogan and he “agree that an interdiction on the passage of Russian warships in the Black Sea” is necessary today, adding that it had been done. However, Turkey has not yet announced any restrictions for Russian warships passing through Turkish Straits after Erdogan’s meeting with Zelenskyy.
Zelenskyy said that the Ukrainian diplomats succeeded in convincing the country’s European allies cut Ukraine off the SWIFT international payments system. He said it would cost Russia billions in what he called a “concrete payment for its treacherous invasion in Ukraine”.
Officials from the U.S., European Union and others stated that Russia could be kicked out of SWIFT as part of a new round of sanctions. However, no announcement has been made.
Zelenskyy stated that the “Ukrainian readiness to defend our state, our solidarity, and courage have stopped the scenario of occupation in our country.”
He stated that “the world has seen that Ukrainians have strength, Ukrainians are brave and Ukrainians stand on land and will not give it up,”
WASHINGTON — Two administration officials spoke under anonymity to discuss internal discussions and said that the U.S. is considering sanctioning Russia’s Central Bank. This move would be aimed at reducing the Kremlin’s reserves of more than $600billion.
According to officials, the White House has not yet made a decision. This move could have broad economic consequences for the Russian economy but also have reverberations on the larger global economy.
The White House did not comment on the report.
__ Matt Lee
NEW YORK — U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres informed Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zeleskyy via phone call Saturday that the United Nations is committed to providing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people.
According to the U.N. spokesperson, he said that he would launch an appeal Tuesday for funding U.N. humanitarian operations.
LITHUANIA — Officials from the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania announced that they will close their airspace to Russian carriers.
The legal form of the measure is in progress and it was not immediately obvious when it would go into effect.
Lithuanian Transport Marius Skuodis stated to media outlets that it is the goal of the Baltic Countries to ban the use of alcohol at the same moment.
Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s Prime Minister, tweeted Saturday that Russia should be isolated economically and politically following its invasion of Ukraine. He said “there is no room for planes from the aggressor state in democratic skys.”
Talis Linkaits, Latvian Transport Minister, stated to LETA local news agency that Russia’s decision to shut down its airspace will be coordinated with Estonia and Lithuania.
KYIV, Ukraine — Authorities in Kiev say that a curfew will be in place until Monday morning as Russian troops push the offensive into Kyiv.
The curfew was originally announced by the city authorities to be from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., but the order was clarified and it will now last from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. This is to keep people inside the day Sunday.
This measure was taken after the Ukrainian authorities reported that they were fighting small groups of Russian troops who infiltrated the capital. Kyiv is being attacked by more Russian troops.
Some grocery stores remained open up until the curfew was in effect. There was a limited selection of goods. It is unclear how long the stockpiles can last. Although some pharmacies were open, there were reports that new shipments were being halted by distributors.
Interfax also reported that access to Russian SIM cards was blocked by Ukraine’s three largest cellphone service providers.
MEDYKA (POLAND) — Long lines of vehicles clog the border crossings from Ukraine. Tens of thousands of people rush to neighbouring countries to escape Russian troops’ invading forces.
According to the U.N refugee agency, nearly 120,000 people fled Ukraine in order to seek safety in Poland and other countries. Most people arrived in Poland, where more than 2 million Ukrainians have settled to work over the past few years. According to the Polish government, more than 100,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border between Ukraine and Poland in the last 48 hours.
One family from Chernivtsi, western Ukraine, waited for 20 hours to be able cross the border into Siret, northern Romania.
The line of vehicles awaiting entry into Poland was long at the border town Medyka. It stretched for miles to the Ukrainian border.
WARSAW (Poland) – President Andrzej Duba of Poland says that Ukraine should be granted membership by the European Union in an explicit manner.
Duda stated on Twitter that Poland supports Ukraine being granted the status of candidate to the EU’s 27-member states. Duda also stated that Ukraine should be able to access EU funds to assist it in rebuilding from the damage done by Russia’s armed incursion. Duda tweeted, “Ukraine should have that.”
The Ukrainian ambassador to Rome supported that sentiment and insisted that Ukraine “earned and has the right” to join the European Union.
Ambassador Yaroslav Malnyk stated Saturday on Italian state TV, “The destiny of Ukraine is also the destiny of Europe” that when bombs fall in Ukraine, it means that bombs will fall in Europe.
BUDAPEST — Several thousand protestors gathered in Budapest on Saturday to protest Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and urge the world leaders to impose sanctions against Moscow.
Hungarians, Ukrainians and Russians filled the main street in front of Budapest’s Russian Embassy.
Dasha Ivashuk fled Ukraine to Hungary Friday night and said that she was there to protest the violence.
She said, “I’m here because we want peace.” “We are not going to flee from the bombings that have been taking place in Ukraine over the past few days.”
On Saturday night, thousands of protestors gathered in Tel Aviv, Israel, to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
WASHINGTON D.C. — The United States has estimated that over 50% of the Russian combat power positioned along Ukraine’s border has entered Ukraine, according to a senior defense official. This is an increase from Friday’s U.S. estimate that only one-third of Russia’s force was committed to the fight.
An official spoke under anonymity to discuss internal U.S. assessments. However, the U.S. had previously estimated that the total Russian force near Ukraine was more than 150,000.
According to the official, advancing Russian forces were approximately 30 km (19 miles) from Kyiv on Saturday and that unspecified numbers of Russian military “reconnaissance” elements had entered the capital.
The British Defense Ministry stated Saturday that the Russian advance had temporarily slowed due to logistical problems and strong resistance from Ukraine.
The ministry stated that Russian forces were bypassing large Ukrainian population centers, while leaving forces to encircle them and isolate them.
–By Robert Burns
BELGRADE (Serbia) — Serbian peace activists protested against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after the Balkan nation decided not to comply with international sanctions against Moscow.
Although Serbia condemned the attack on Ukraine, it has not been able to impose sanctions on Russia’s traditional Slavic political ally Russia.
Women in Black activists held large banners in Belgrade calling for peace and displaying a huge Ukrainian flag. The gathering was also attended by Ukrainians who live in Serbia.
Although Serbia has formally applied for membership in the European Union, its populist authorities have encouraged close ties to Russia and China.
LJUBLJANA — Slovenia and the Czech Republic have shut down their airspaces to Russian planes due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The ban applies to all Russian-registered aircraft and Russian-licensed operators. The government announced that the decision was immediately effective and will continue to be in effect until further notice.
Martin Kupka, Czech Transport Minister, announced Saturday’s decision after Russian airlines were banned from using Czech airports.
Kupka stated that “We are stepping up our efforts against Russian aggression in Ukraine.”
ROME — Thousands have protested Russia’s invasion in Ukraine at Milan.
It appeared that the march in Italy’s capital city was the largest of many similar protests held in other Italian cities on Saturday. Many protestors held up a rainbow-hued peace banner measuring 20 by 10 meters (66 by 33 feet) in Milan to protest the invasion. The huge cloth was sometimes covered their heads.
A protest organized by Italian labor leaders in Rome saw several hundred people gather in a square at the historic heart of Rome.
BEREGSURANY (Hungary) — Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, stated at a press conference that Hungary accepts all citizens and legal residents from Ukraine, regardless of whether or not they are subject to military conscription.
Orban stated, in Beregsurany, that “we’re letting everybody in.” “I have seen people without travel documents. But we are providing them with documents.” After proper screening, we allow in people who arrived from third-country countries.
Five border crossings were made along Hungary’s 137-kilometer border with Ukraine by several thousand refugees fleeing Ukraine.
This is a significant shift for Hungary, which has in recent years been strongly opposed to all forms of immigration.
Orban is considered Russia’s closest ally within the European Union. He has maintained close diplomatic and economic ties with Putin. He said however that Russia’s invasion by Hungary’s neighbour would likely lead to changes in his relationship and that Hungary supported all European sanctions against Moscow.
TOKYO — As Russia’s troops moved toward Ukraine’s capital, hundreds of protesters and Ukrainians abroad gathered to support anti-war demonstrations.
A large number of Ukrainians who live in Japan rallied outside Tokyo’s main stations on Saturday to chant “Stop War!” and “Peace For Ukraine!” Others waved Ukrainian flags while waving signs such as “No war,” Stop Putin, Stop Russia, and others. A separate rally was reportedly organized in Japan by Russian residents. Several dozen people shouted “Hands off Ukraine!”
On Saturday, Taiwan saw more than 100 protestors chanting “Stand With Ukraine” and “Glory To Ukraine” outside the Russian representative office.
Yulia Kolorova (a 49-year old Ukrainian woman living in Taiwan) said that her family and friends were now safe in their basements due to the air attacks.
PARIS — A captain of a Russian cargo vessel was intercepted in the English Channel early Saturday morning. He was informed that his vessel is in violation of European Union sanctions, France’s finance ministry stated.
After the Baltic Leader was taken to Boulogne-Sur-Mer, customs officers examined it. A ministry statement stated that a written contravention was given to the captain.
Veronique Magnin spoke for the Maritime Prefecture and stated that the seizure was an unusual action in the English Channel.
The vessel was carrying cars and is owned by PSB Lizing. An official close to Olivier Dussopt stated that the Russian company is listed in EU sanctions. He confirmed that PSB Lizing was a subsidiary or Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company.
The ship, measuring approximately 130 meters (426.5 feet), was heading from Rouen in Normandy to Saint Petersburg. It was stopped near Honfleur.
MOSCOW — An official from Russia warned that Moscow could respond to Western sanctions for its attack on Ukraine with a withdrawal of the last nuclear arms pact and a freeze of Western assets.
Dmitry Medvedev was the Russian Security Council’s deputy head, presided over by President Vladimir Putin. He shrugged off the set of crippling sanctions the U.S., European Union, and other allies placed on Russia as a sign of Western “political incompetence.”
Medvedev suggested that the sanctions could be used as a pretext to review its relations with the West. He also mentioned that Russia could opt out from the New START nuclear arms control treaty, which limits the U.S. nuclear arsenals.
Medvedev also suggested the possibility of cutting diplomatic ties to Western countries. He said that “we may look each other in binoculars or gunsights.”
He mentioned the possibility of freezing Western assets within the country if Russia continues to threaten the West.
KYIV, Ukraine — At least six civilians were hurt when a rocket struck an apartment building high up on the outskirts Kiev.
Petro Prokopov was a firefighter taking part in rescue efforts. He said that the building at the southwestern end of Kyiv near Zhuliany Airport was damaged between 16 and 21 floors. According to him, at least six people were hurt and two floors of apartments were destroyed by fire. 80 people were evacuated by emergency responders.
Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv’s Mayor, posted an image that shows a gaping hole at one end of the apartment building.
Separately, the Infrastructure Ministry of Ukraine reported that a Russian missile was fired at Kyiv’s dam. The ministry stated that flooding could cause severe losses and casualties if the dam is destroyed. This includes flooding in Kyiv’s residential areas.
KYIV, Ukraine — According to the Ukrainian health minister, 198 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in the Russian offensive.
Viktor Lyashko, the Health Minister, stated Saturday that three children were among those who died. It was not clear from his statement whether civilians and military were among the casualties.
He stated that another 1,115 people were injured in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on Thursday with large-scale air and missile strikes, and troops advancing into Ukraine from the south, north and south.