Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine and Russia blame each other as Mariupol evacuation fails again – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine and Russia blame each other as Mariupol evacuation fails again – live” was written by Jessica Murray (now) and Tom Ambrose and Samantha Lock (earlier), for theguardian.com on Sunday 6th March 2022 12.46 UTC

One of the last remaining independent media outlets in Russia, Mediazona, said it has been blocked by authorities for its reporting on Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Roskomnadzor began blocking Mediazona,” the outlet said in a statement, referring to Russia’s communications regulator.

“Because we cover honestly what is happening in Ukraine and call the invasion an invasion, and the war a war,” it said.

The statement added that Russia has in recent days introduced “military censorship and there are almost no independent media left in the country.”

The outlet’s publisher, Pyotr Verzilov, said they would “continue to work anyway and tell you about the war”.

Since president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, authorities have ramped up an unprecedented crackdown on the already embattled media.

Earlier this week, Ekho Moskvy radio station and the Dozhd TV channel – two of Russia’s landmark liberal media outlets – were either dissolved or suspended operations.

Dozens of media workers and independent outlets – including Dozhd – have already been designated “foreign agents” by authorities, and many reporters and editors have been forced to leave the country.

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, said it would not cover the conflict, citing new legislation on reporting on the military.

Mediazona is an independent online publication which writes about court cases and abuses of prisoners’ rights, among other subjects.

The outlet was founded in 2014 by Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina after they served prison time for mocking Putin in church.

Russia and Ukraine blame each other as Mariupol evacuation fails again

Pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s National Guard accused each other of failing to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Sunday, the second time the sides have attempted to arrange it.

Ukraine 24 television showed a fighter of the Azov Regiment of the National Guard who said Russian and pro-Russian forces that have encircled the port city of about 400,000 continued shelling the areas that were meant to be safe.

The Interfax news agency cited an official of the Donetsk separatist administration who accused the Ukrainian forces of failing to observe the limited ceasefire.

The separatist official said only about 300 people have left the city. Ukrainian authorities have earlier said they planned to evacuate over 200,000 people from Mariupol.

It may take years for Vladimir Putin to be defeated in his conquest of Ukraine, Britain’s deputy prime minister has admitted, as Labour accused the government of moving too slowly over sanctions.

Dominic Raab said people who thought the crisis could be resolved in days were “deluding themselves” and that Nato would need to “show some strategic stamina” in its bid to force the Russian army to retreat.

Raab said Putin was resorting to “ever more brutal tactics to try and wrest back the initiative” given the military campaign run from Moscow had “stuttered”.

Raab, who is also the justice secretary, told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme:

I think the bottom line is none of the major cities have yet fallen.

But I think we ought to be under no doubt that our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine, and it’s going to take some time.

We’re talking about months if not years, and therefore we’ll have to show some strategic stamina because this is not going to be over in days.

Putin says conflict will only stop if Ukraine stops fighting and Russia’s demands are met – Kremlin

Vladimir Putin has said Russia’s military operation would only be halted if Kyiv stopped resisting and fulfilled all of the Kremlin’s demands.

Putin told Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan by telephone that Ukraine’s negotiators should take a more “constructive” approach in talks with Moscow to take into account the reality on the ground.

Putin, whose comments were published in a Kremlin readout of the call, said his “special operation” in Ukraine was going according to plan and to schedule.

“It was underlined that the suspension of the special operation is only possible if Kyiv stops military operations and carries out well-known Russian demands,” the Kremlin said.

Russia calls its actions in its former Soviet neighbour a “special operation” that seeks to destroy Ukraine’s military capabilities, purge the country of what it says are nationalists and make it a neutral state.

The Kremlin leader told Erdoğan that Moscow was open to dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities, but that he hoped Ukrainian negotiators would take a more constructive approach at the next round of talks.

“Attention was drawn to the futility of any attempts to drag out the negotiation process, which is being used by the Ukrainian security forces to regroup their forces and resources,” the Kremlin said

“It is hoped that during the planned next round of negotiations, Ukraine’s representatives will show a more constructive approach, fully taking into account the emerging realities.”

Updated

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has appealed directly to Russians to take to the streets in protest against the Kremlin’s invasion of his country or risk their own poverty and repression.

Since last week, thousands of people in Russia have been detained for protesting against the invasion of Ukraine, what the Russian authorities call a “special military operation”, that began on 24 February.

Russians are now bracing for an uncertain and isolated future after international sanctions plunged the economy into crisis and authorities cracked down on independent media and restricted access to Facebook and other social media sites.

“Citizens of Russia – for you, this is a struggle not only for peace in Ukraine, this is a fight for your country,” Zelenskiy said in a televised address, switching from Ukrainian to Russian.

“If you keep silent now, only your poverty will speak for you later. And only repression will answer,” he said.

All forms of protest in Russia have essentially become illegal since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic for what authorities say are safety reasons.

Like the Ukrainian people, Russians now face a choice “between life and slavery,” Zelenskiy said.

Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan urged his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement, his office said.

NATO member Turkey shares a maritime border with Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea and has good ties with both. Ankara has called Russia’s invasion unacceptable and offered to host talks, but has opposed sanctions on Moscow.

In a statement after a one-hour phone call, the Turkish presidency said Erdoğan told Putin that Turkey was ready to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

“President Erdoğan, who said an immediate ceasefire will not only ease humanitarian concerns in the region but also give the search for a political solution an opportunity, renewed his call of ‘let’s pave the way for peace together’,” his office said.

“Erdoğan emphasised the importance of taking urgent steps to achieve a ceasefire, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement.”

The two leaders also discussed bilateral ties, it said.

Erdoğan, who has called Putin a “friend”, had last spoken to the Russian leader on 23 February, a day before Russia launched its invasion. The call makes Erdoğan the third NATO leader to speak to Putin since his offensive, following the leaders of Germany and France.

Updated

Staff at an independent Russian TV station, Dozhd (TV Rain), walked out live on air while declaring ‘No to war’ after being shut down over their coverage of the Ukraine invasion.

 

The decade-long defiance of Dozhd was silenced, at least for a while, by a brutal new law, passed unanimously in the Russian parliament, which bans news organisations from reporting anything about the war except state-approved press releases.

Journalists and media owners who contravene the new legislation could be jailed for up to 15 years.

Italian luxury label Prada has announced it is suspending retail sales in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Prada is following in the footsteps of other multinationals and luxury brands, including the French giants LVMH, Hermes and Chanel.

“The Prada Group suspends its retail operations in Russia,” the firm said on its Linkedin page, adding that the move was effective from Saturday.

“Our primary concern is for all colleagues and their families affected by the tragedy in Ukraine, and we will continue to support them,” Prada said.

Volunteers in Ukraine are in the process of removing, covering and wrapping statues and windows on many of the country’s historically important buildings for fear of damage.

Kyiv Post reports this statue of Jesus Christ is being stored in a bunker for safety, for the first time since the second world war.

More than 430,000 people trapped in the port city of Mariupol by encircling Russian forces are nervously preparing to evacuate after a ceasefire was announced, a day after a similar plan fell apart amid accusations that Moscow had failed to respect the agreement.

Local authorities in the south-eastern Ukrainian city said an evacuation supervised by the Red Cross would begin at noon local time (10am GMT) during a nine-hour cessation in Russian attacks.

Attempts to get residents out of the city failed on Saturday after Ukrainian authorities claimed the Russians reneged on an agreement to stop their shelling. The city council was forced to tell residents to return to shelters in the city.

The head of the military in the Russian-controlled territory Donetsk in eastern Ukraine said safe-passage corridors for residents in the besieged city of Volnovakha would also reopen Sunday.

He did not say for how long nor whether a ceasefire would accompany that evacuation.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Olha Stefanishyna, said she did not trust Russia’s word but hoped that the Red Cross would step up to secure the safety of Ukrainian citizens.

Pope Francis says Ukraine conflict is “not military operation but a war”

Pope Francis has rejected Russia’s assertion that it is carrying out a “a special military operation” in Ukraine, saying the country was being battered by a war.

“In Ukraine rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This is not only a military operation but a war which is leading to death, destruction and misery,” the pope said in his weekly address to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

However, as has been the case throughout the 11-day conflict, the pope did not publicly condemn Russia by name for its invasion.

Instead, he repeated his appeal for peace, the creation of humanitarian corridors and a return to negotiations.

“In that martyred country the need for humanitarian assistance is growing by the hour,” the pope said. “Let common sense prevail, let us return to the respect of international law.”

The crowd gathered outside St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday to hear Pope Francis speak.
The crowd gathered outside St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday to hear Pope Francis speak.
Photograph: Vatican Media Handout/EPA

There were many more people than normal gathered in front of St. Peter’s Basilica for the pope’s Sunday appearance, with some holding aloft multi-coloured peace flags as well as the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine.

“The Holy See is willing to do all everything to put itself at the service of peace,” the pope said, adding that two Roman Catholic cardinals had gone to Ukraine to help those in need. “War is madness, please stop,” the pope said.

Andriy Yurash, Ukraine’s ambassador to the Vatican, praised the pope for calling the conflict a war.

“I am very, very happy that he said that,” he told Reuters in St. Peter’s Square shortly after the pope ended his address. “Even if the pope did not say the word ‘Russia’, everyone in the world knows who the aggressor that invaded us is and who started this unprovoked war.”

Updated

Israel will continue trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine even if success seems unlikely, prime minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday after returning from surprise talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine has requested that Israel serve as intermediary, citing the Bennett government’s good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow. Bennett’s office said he spoke three times over the weekend with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In televised remarks to his cabinet, Bennett gave no details on his three-hour Kremlin meeting with Putin on Saturday, saying only that it had “the blessing and encouragement of all parties” – an allusion to the United States, among other powers. Bennett and Putin had discussed the mediation idea by phone last week.

Bennett said:

We will continue to assist wherever this is requested, even if the chances are not great. The moment there is even a small opening, and we have the access to all sides and the capability, I see it as a moral duty to make every attempt.

Israel has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, expressed solidarity with Kyiv and sent humanitarian aid. But Bennett has not met Ukrainian requests for military assistance and has kept channels open to Russia, with which Israel coordinates operations against Iranian deployments in Syria.

Israeli communications minister, Yoaz Hendel, said he had declined Ukrainian requests to ban nine Russian media outlets on the grounds they were propagandising.

“These (broadcasters) did not meet any kind of threshold that would necessitate their blocking. I would like to remind you that, in a democracy, blocking media channels is a very dramatic event,” Hendel told reporters.

Interior minister Ayelet Shaked said Israel was bracing for a “very, very big wave” of immigration sparked by the conflict.

This could entail taking in more than 200,000 Ukrainians who are Jewish or have Jewish family links and more than 600,000 Russians in the same categories, she said.

In what local media have cast as a bid to prevent Russian oligarchs from fleeing to Israel to evade sanctions, the Israel Airports Authority said it had received instructions not to allow private jets to park for more than 24 hours.

UK universities say that although their priority must be supporting their Ukrainian students, they are also reaching out to Russian students who may be feeling alone but unable to ask for help.

Paul Nightingale, professor of strategy at Sussex’s University’s Science Policy Research Unit, and formerly head of special projects at the government’s Economic and Social Research Council, said all universities should “certainly be kicking out the children of oligarchs and their extended families”.

But, he said: “It is stupid to say we should expel all Russian students. The ones in the UK are mostly anti-Putin. We have to support the people who will turn Russia around in the future.”

Sanctions will take time and ‘Ukraine fatigue’ could blunt the west’s resolve as the cost of living crisis deepens, writes the Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott.

Sanctions can inflict pain without leading to a change of leadership or a policy shift. Iran suffered a 20% reduction in potential output in the two years following the introduction of sanctions over its nuclear programme but didn’t buckle.

So, 10 days into the invasion, the west has a big decision to make. Does it deploy the biggest economic weapon it has left: adding Russia’s oil and gas exports to the sanctions list?

The French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, has urged Britain to do more to help Ukrainian refugees stuck in the French port of Calais, saying British officials were turning many away due to not having the necessary visas or paperwork.

“I have twice contacted my British counterpart. I told her to set up a consulate in Calais,” Darmanin told Europe 1 radio, referring to British home secretary Priti Patel.

“We have good relations with (Patel). I am sure she is a decent person. I am sure she will solve this problem,” he added.

Darmanin said hundreds of Ukrainian refugees had arrived at Calais in the last few days, hoping to join family in the UK, but that many had been turned away by British officials and told to obtain visas at UK consulates in Paris or Brussels.

On Sunday the UK justice secretary, Dominic Raab, suggested support for Ukraine would be undermined if the UK let refugees in without visas.

On the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, he said: “Look, if we just open the door not only will we not benefit the people that we need to, the genuine refugees, but I think we undermine the popular support for this very thing, so I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. We need to make sure that we’re acting for those that need our support.”

Raab said he expected up to 200,000 Ukrainians could come to the UK through the family dependents route and “the humanitarian route is uncapped”.

“We’ll work with the United Nations and other agencies, but also individuals, business, charitable sponsors here, and that route for Ukrainians fleeing persecution is uncapped. And of course, we provided £220m of humanitarian support, which is directly for the Ukrainian people, but also for those countries taking refugees.”

The United States is considering sending planes to Poland if Warsaw decided to send fighter jets to Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on a visit to Moldova on Sunday.

He said:

We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland decide to supply those planes.

I can’t speak to a timeline but I can just say we’re looking at it very, very actively.

The visit came after Blinken visited NATO-member Poland on Saturday as the alliance bolsters its eastern flank in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference with Moldovan President at The Presidential Palace in Chisinau
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference with Moldovan President at The Presidential Palace in Chisinau
Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Updated

Here is a first-hand account of the invasion of the Ukrainian city last week, as witnessed by two female journalists.

Tuesday 1 March

The first day of spring. It is snowing. We are sleeping in our clothes with our anxiety backpacks nearby. At night there was bombing again in the suburbs. I sleep only four hours.

Wednesday 2 March

Total silence. Everyone is staying at home, reading the news. The city council building was shelled at night. Some areas are without electricity and water. Nineteen civilians were killed.

Exodus from Ukraine is fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War Two – UNHCR

More than 1.5m refugees have fled Ukraine in the past 10 days in the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since the second world war, the United Nations has said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, tweeted: “More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days – the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”

Record numbers of refugees headed into Poland from Ukraine with the total number expected to surpass one million people later on Sunday.

Fresh data shows Polish border guards cleared as many as 129,000 people at border crossings on Saturday, the most in a single day since the war started, bringing the total to 922,400.

At the Medyka crossing, the busiest along Poland’s roughly 500km (310 mile) border with Ukraine, refugees streamed past boxes of clothes laid out along a path from the border crossing while Scouts handed out hot tea, food and toiletries.

Refugees, mostly women with children, arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland on Sunday.
Refugees, mostly women with children, arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland on Sunday.
Photograph: Visar Kryeziu/AP

Some carried babies, others dogs and cats wrapped in blankets. Many joined a queue for buses to the nearby town Przemysl where friends, relatives and volunteers waited to take them to other cities in Poland and beyond.

Poland’s Ukrainian community of around 1.5m is the region’s largest and makes the country a major destination point for refugees, though fleeing Ukrainians also cross to safety through Slovakia, Hungary and northern Romania.

Officials said many of the refugees who have arrived so far had friends and places to go to but the head of the UN refugee agency told Reuters a growing tide of refugees would put pressure on governments to absorb them.

“Frankly these governments have done very well in their initial response,” Grandi said. “They were well prepared. But if the numbers continue to grow it will be a problem.”

Romania has taken in 227,446 Ukrainians, including 31,628 who arrived on Saturday, border police data showed. More than 163,000 entered Hungary since 24 February.

Here is a selection of new images coming in to our picture desk this morning.

Local residents look for cover as they escape from the town of Irpin, after heavy shelling landed on the only escape route used by locals near Kyiv
Local residents look for cover as they escape from the town of Irpin, after heavy shelling landed on the only escape route used by locals near Kyiv
Photograph: Carlos Barría/Reuters
Refugees from Ukraine rest in the main train station of Krakow, as they wait to be relocated to other temporary acommodations in Poland or abroad
Refugees from Ukraine rest in the main train station of Krakow, as they wait to be relocated to other temporary acommodations in Poland or abroad
Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images
Demonstrators with Ukrainian national flags and posters reading “No war!” gather to protest against the Russian military invasion in Ukraine, in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Demonstrators with Ukrainian national flags and posters reading “No war!” gather to protest against the Russian military invasion in Ukraine, in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Photograph: Vladimir Tretyakov/AP
Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces prepare their equipment to repel a tank attack on a position in the Lugansk region
Servicemen of the Ukrainian Military Forces prepare their equipment to repel a tank attack on a position in the Lugansk region
Photograph: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine president says Russian forces are preparing to bombard Odessa city

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russian forces are preparing to shell Odessa, a historic port city on the Black Sea coast.

“They are preparing to bomb Odessa. Odessa!” he said in a video address.

Russians have always come to Odessa. They have always felt only warmth in Odessa. Only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa? Artillery against Odessa? Missiles against Odessa?

It will be a war crime. It will be a historical crime.

Russian forces have made progress in southern Ukraine since their 24 February invasion, overrunning the city of Kherson and besieging the port of Mariupol, but Odessa has so far been largely spared.

Almost a million people live in Odessa, a cosmopolitan harbour on Ukraine’s southern coast with both Ukrainian and Russian speakers and Bulgarian and Jewish minorities.

The Russian advance from occupied Crimea has in part turned east to link up with Russian-backed separatists and to seize the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

But another part of the force has also headed west to Kherson, on the road towards Odessa. The city is also close to the Moldovan border and the Russian-occupied region of Transnistria.

During the first 11 days of the conflict, Russian forces from Belarus have also advanced on the capital Kyiv from the northwest and northeast, while another group bombarded the northern city of Kharkiv.

Updated

Labour leader Keir Starmer said he was “very concerned” about reports surrounding the appointment of media mogul Lord Evgeny Lebedev to the House of Lords.

The Sunday Times reported [paywall] British intelligence officials withdrew their assessment that giving a peerage to Lord Lebedev posed a national security risk after Boris Johnson intervened.

Starmer told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme:

I’m very concerned about that story, because it goes to the heart of national security and there’s at least the suggestion that the government and the prime minister were warned that there was a national security risk in this particular appointment.

I think, in the circumstances, what the appropriate thing is for the Intelligence and Security Committee, which is a cross-party committee in Parliament that can have access to confidential material – I think this case should be referred to that committee so they can look into this story.

This allegation – which is very serious because, of course, it’s a matter of national security – I hope the Government will answer it today.

The US secretary of state Antony Blinken briefly crossed into Ukraine after meeting with the country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba.

The pair met at the border with Poland to discuss western efforts to support Ukraine after Russia invaded 10 days ago.

 

Olha Stefanishyna said despite agreements over ceasefires, Ukrainians would “never trust” what the Russians say.

The Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme every Ukrainian citizen and politician “knows the Russian playbook by heart”.

Stefanishyna hit out at Western leaders who refused to impose a no-fly zone over her country, PA Media reported.

She said:

My president was as precise as it is possible and we absolutely support from the bottom of his, of our, hearts [in] everything he says because this is what we feel.

It is very upsetting when the group of 30 leaders or ministers or even ambassadors are … gathering itself in a fancy cabinet, with the fancy furniture, and talking about the fancy thing, knowing that Ukraine was over this table for all of [these] years sitting in this fancy offices.

But now knowing that we can’t be there because we are operating under the bombarding of [the] Russian Federation and knowing that their intelligence also confirms that further severe attacks on the civil population – including carpet bombarding of the cities, which are basically happening these days already in some cities – will be taking place.

Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna.
Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna.
Photograph: Ukrinform/REX/Shutterstock

Volunteers at a railway station in Lviv in western Ukraine are doing all they can to help refugees flee the violence of Putin’s invasion and reach safety.

Lviv is less than 50 miles from the Polish border and thousands of people have been arriving daily from the rest of country.

The Guardian spent the day with one volunteer, Sergyi Mykolaiv.

 

British deputy prime minister Dominic Raab described talk of an increased threat of Russia using nuclear weapons in its invasion of Ukraine as rhetoric and brinkmanship.

“I think its rhetoric and brinkmanship,” he told Sky News when asked about a possible nuclear escalation by the Kremlin.

“[Putin’s] got a track record as long as anyone’s arm of misinformation and propaganda … this is a distraction from what the real issues are at hand – which is that it’s an illegal invasion and it is not going according to plan.”

He also again ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying this would lead to a “massive escalation” and would feed into the Russian president’s narrative.

Dominic Raab in Westminster.
Dominic Raab in Westminster.
Photograph: Tayfun Salcı/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

He said:

We’re not going to get ourselves into a direct military conflict with Putin because that would be a massive escalation, but also that feeds Putin’s narrative.

Putin wants to say that he’s actually in a struggle with the west – he’s not.

He called no-fly zones “very difficult, very challenging” and said “we will do everything short of that to support Ukrainians”.

Updated

More than 559 people were detained at anti-war protests on Sunday in 21 cities across Russia, according to an independent Russian-based protest monitor.

The OVD-Info protest monitoring group said people were detained at protests including in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok and the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

Opposition activists posted videos showing protests in other cities.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the information. Reuters was unable to reach spokespeople for the police in either city, or Russia’s interior ministry

Security forces take anti-war protesters into custody at Manege Square in Moscow, Russia on March 03, 2022.
Security forces take anti-war protesters into custody at Manege Square in Moscow, Russia on 3 March 2022.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The interior ministry warned on Saturday that any attempt to hold unauthorised protests would be prevented and the organisers held to account.

A video posted on social media showed a protester on a square in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk shouting: “No to war – how are you not ashamed” before two policemen detained him.

Police used loudspeakers to tell a small group of protesters in Khabarovsk: “Respected citizens, you are taking part in an unsanctioned public event. We demand you disperse.” Reuters was not able to independently verify the post.

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny had called for protests on Sunday across Russia and the rest of the world against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

About 2,000 people attended an anti-war protest in Kazakhstan’s biggest city Almaty, videos posted on social media showed. Reuters was unable to independently verify the posts.

Demonstrators take part in an anti-war protest in support of Ukraine in front of the monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 6 March 2022.
Demonstrators take part in an anti-war protest in support of Ukraine in front of the monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 6 March 2022.
Photograph: Pavel Mikheyev/Reuters

The crowd shouted slogans such as “No to war” and “Putin is a dickhead”, while waving Ukrainian flags. Activists put blue and yellow balloons in the hand of a Lenin statue towering over the small square where the rally took place.

Updated

Second ceasefire attempt in Mariupol for evacuations

The city council of Mariupol has said a ceasefire will be observed between 10am and 9pm local time today.

However, the evacuation of civilians was postponed yesterday because Russian forces encircling the city were not respecting an agreed ceasefire.

In a statement, the city council had asked residents to return to shelters in the city and await further information on evacuation.

In a televised broadcast, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said Russia was not observing an agreed ceasefire in some areas, preventing a joint plan to allow civilians to evacuate.

Smoke rises after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022.
Smoke rises after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022.
Photograph: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

It comes as the landmine clearance charity The HALO Trust tweeted that it had restored communications with one of its supervisors today.

They said:

No communication, no water, no electricity, no food in stores.#

Ships, artillery, planes are shooting.

The population is already on the edge. But we’re holding on.

I have no words, this is a living hell.

Updated

In an address to Ukrainians on Sunday morning, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised the many forms of resistance people have chosen to oppose the Russian invasion and called his country “a superpower of spirit.”

The country, he said, was performing at “the maximum of possibilities,” with soldiers fighting but also ordinary people defending towns, hospitals and fire departments. He encouraged residents of occupied areas to protest, if possible.

Ten days into the war, he said, Ukraine had united with “millions of people, which became one whole.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy makes a statement in Kyiv, in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy makes a statement in Kyiv, in Ukraine.
Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that he made a “desperate” plea to American lawmakers yesterday for the United States to help get more warplanes to his military.

Zelenskiy opened the private video call with US lawmakers by telling them this may be the last time they see him alive. “President Zelenskiy made a desperate plea,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

He said Zelenskiy wants the US to facilitate the transfer of planes from Eastern European allies. “I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer,” Schumer said.

The US is considering sending American-made F-16s as backfill to former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe that are now members of NATO. They, in turn, would send Ukraine their own Soviet-era MiGs, which Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly.

Russia struck and disabled Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military air base with long-range high-precision weapons, Russia’s defence ministry claimed on Sunday.

“The Russia armed forces continue to strike the military infrastructure of Ukraine,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“On the morning of 6 March, strikes were carried out by high-precision long-range weapons. The Ukrainian air force base near Starokostiantyniv was disabled.”

He said a Ukrainian-controlled S-300 missile system had also been destroyed by Russian rocket forces. He added that Russia had downed 10 Ukrainian planes and helicopters over the past 24 hours.

I’m Tom Ambrose and I’ll be bringing you all the latest news over the next two hours.

Before I hand over to my colleague, Tom Ambrose, here is a quick snap of events from the past few hours. A more detailed summary of events can be found here.

  • An anti-war rally appears to be underway in Almaty, Kazakhstan according to a slew of social media posts this morning.
  • The World Health Organization has confirmed “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine which resulted in multiple deaths and injuries, the agency’s chief has said.
  • South Korea will implement export controls against Belarus for “effectively supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, Reuters reports.
  • The Ukrainian military is reporting that Russia has lost more than 11,000 military personnel since the invasion began.
  • Russian forces are targeting populated areas in Ukraine but the strength of resistance has slowed the Russian advance, British military intelligence reveals.
  • Ukraine’s emergency services are reporting casualties from a Russian missile strike which hit residential homes in the Zhytomyr region, about 140km north-west of Kyiv.
  • The Ukrainian military released its operational report as of 6am local time, noting its forces have been “fighting fierce battles to maintain certain borders”.

Updated

An anti-war rally appears to be underway in Almaty, Kazakhstan according to a slew of social media posts this morning.

Almaty-based journalist for The Economist, Joanna Lillis, posted a series of photos from the protest alongside the caption: “Lenin decked out in blue and yellow at anti-war rally in Almaty Kazakhstan – ‘no to bloody dictators’ reads the placard.”

The World Health Organization has confirmed “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine which resulted in multiple deaths and injuries, the agency’s chief has said.

Additional reports are being investigated, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post to Twitter on Sunday.

“Attacks on healthcare facilities or workers breach medical neutrality and are violations of international humanitarian law,” he added.

South Korea will implement export controls against Belarus for “effectively supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, Seoul’s foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry did not detail what measures would be taken, but said they will be applied in a similar way to moves already taken by South Korea against Russia, Reuters reports.

It condemned Moscow as having launched an “armed invasion” of Ukraine.

South Korea said last month it would tighten export controls against Russia by banning shipments of strategic items and join Western countries’ moves to block some Russian banks from the Swift international payments system.

“The Korean government decided today to implement export control measures against Belarus as well, judging that Belarus is effectively supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the ministry said in a statement.

Updated

The Ukrainian military is reporting that Russia has suffered losses of more than 11,000 military personnel since the invasion began.

A total of 285 Russian tanks and 985 armoured combat vehicles were also reported to have been destroyed as well as 109 artillery systems, 44 aircraft and 48 helicopters, according to a report by the general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine and published to the website of the Ukrainian ministry of defence.

“Just yesterday, more than 650 wounded members of the Russian occupation forces were taken to the central city hospital in the village of Bryanka, Luhansk region,” the report adds.

“All of them are mostly in serious condition… after providing first aid, they were escorted by an armed convoy from the regular forces of the Russian armed forces to the line of combat to introduce further hostilities as ‘cannon fodder’. It is known that the personnel of the 6th separate motorised rifle regiment is frightened and demoralised, looking for ways to desertion.”

Updated

Strength of Ukraine resistance ‘continues to surprise’ Russia – British intelligence report

Russian forces are targeting populated areas in Ukraine but the strength of resistance has slowed the Russian advance, British military intelligence reveals.

In its daily intelligence report, the UK’s ministry of defence said the strength of Ukraine’s resistance continues to surprise Russia, which has responded by targeting cities including Kharkiv, Chirnihiv and Mariupol.

The scale and strength of Ukrainian resistance continue to surprise Russia.

[Russia] has responded by targeting populated areas in multiple locations, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.

This is likely to represent an effort to break Ukrainian morale.

Russia has previously used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions.

Russia’s supply lines reportedly continue to be targeted, slowing the rate of the advance of their ground forces.”

Russia has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilian areas.

The intelligence report also says there is a “realistic possibility” that Russia is now “attempting to conceal fuel trucks as regular support trucks in an effort to conceal losses”.

Updated

Ukraine’s emergency services are reporting casualties from a Russian missile strike which hit residential homes in the Zhytomyr region, about 140km north-west of Kyiv.

Some 15 private houses were destroyed in the assault in the city of Ovruch, Ukraine’s the state emergency service said in an update on its official Telegram account this morning.

In a seperate attack in Korosten, a town just south of Ovruch, one person was reportedly killed and two injured in an overnight rocket attack, according to the agency.

Ten private houses were said to have been destroyed and one building was burnt down. Five children were rescued from the basement.

The Ukrainian military has just released its operational report as of 6am local time, noting its forces have been “fighting fierce battles to maintain certain borders”.

A defence operation in the eastern part of the Donetsk operational district is underway while efforts are focused on defending the city of Mariupol, the military said.

According to the report, Russian forces were stopped from an advance towards the Dnipropetrovsk region from Balaklia and an operation to defend the city of Chernihiv is underway.

The report references the “heavy losses in weapons, equipment and personnel” alongside the losses of 88 Russian aircraft and helicopters.

“Some enemy pilots who catapulted and survived were found by Ukrainian soldiers. They have received medical treatment and are already testifying about the Putin regime’s crimes against humanity,” the report read.

Due to the resistance of the entire Ukrainian people, Russian troops have been “demoralised” with “extremely low moral and psychological state … due to awareness of the real state of affairs” Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces said.

Local residents help clear the rubble of a home that was destroyed by a suspected Russian airstrike which killed at least six people in Markhalivka, Ukraine, on Saturday, 5 March.
Local residents help clear the rubble of a home that was destroyed by a suspected Russian airstrike which killed at least six people in Markhalivka, Ukraine, on Saturday, 5 March.
Photograph: Marcus Yam/LOS ANGELES TIMES/REX/Shutterstock

Biden and Zelenskiy discuss more support for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday to discuss ongoing efforts to impose sanctions on Russia and speed up US military, humanitarian and economic assistance.

A White House statement of a readout of the call reads:

President Biden highlighted the ongoing actions undertaken by the United States, its Allies and partners, and private industry to raise the costs on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine.

In particular, he [Biden] welcomed the decision this evening by Visa and Mastercard to suspend service in Russia.

President Biden noted his administration is surging security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding.”

Zelenskiy confirmed the call, writing over Twitter early Sunday morning:

As part of the constant dialogue, I had another conversation with @POTUS. The agenda included the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia.”

Updated

Thousands of Ukrainian refugees continue to flee their homeland seeking safety in neighbouring countries.

More than 1.3 million Ukrainians have crossed borders since the Russian invasion started on the 24 February in what the United Nations is now calling Europe’s fastest-moving refugee crisis since the end of the second world war. The figure is expected to reach 1.5 million later today.

“This is the fastest-moving refugee crisis we have seen in Europe since the end of the second world war,” UNHCR head Filippo Grandi said.

A policeman helps Ukrainians to carry their bag at the border in Kroscienko, Poland, on 5 March.
A policeman helps Ukrainians to carry their bag at the border in Kroscienko, Poland, on 5 March.
Photograph: Enrico Mattia Del Punta/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock
An exhausted refugee is seen inside the train station at the Polish border town of Przemysl.
An exhausted refugee is seen inside the train station at the Polish border town of Przemysl.
Photograph: Hesther Ng/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
More than 1.3 million Ukrainians have crossed borders since the Russian invasion started on the 24 February, the UN estimates.
More than 1.3 million Ukrainians have crossed borders since the Russian invasion started on the 24 February, the UN estimates.
Photograph: Sachelle Babbar/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock
A Ukrainian mother takes her son into her arms to keep him warm, inside a Warsaw refugee centre in Poland.
A Ukrainian mother takes her son into her arms to keep him warm, inside a Warsaw refugee centre in Poland.
Photograph: Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

A representative of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington has said 3,000 US volunteers responded to the Ukraine’s appeal for foreigners to join the “international legion” to help fight the war.

The official said the 3,000 volunteers answered the call in an interview with the Voice of America news service.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced he would be forming an official legion of foreign volunteers, adding just days ago that an estimates 16,000 foreigners had signed up, mostly from other post-Soviet states such as Georgia and Belarus.

Senior US officials traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to meet with President Nicolas Maduro’s government, seeking to determine whether Caracas is prepared to back away from its close ties to Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter, Reuters reports.

The trip is the highest-level US visit to Venezuela in years after the two countries broke diplomatic relations amid a campaign of US sanctions and diplomatic pressure aimed at ousting Maduro, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

China opposes any move that adds ‘fuel to the flames’

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke earlier by phone with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who said Beijing opposes any moves that “add fuel to the flames” in Ukraine, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry and as reported by the Associated Press.

Yi said the “evolution” of the situation in Ukraine is “something China does not want to see,” adding that the Ukraine crisis should be solved through “dialogue and negotiation” and called on the United States, Nato, and the European Union to engage in “equal dialogue” with Russia. He said they should “pay attention to the negative impact of Nato’s continuous eastward expansion on Russia’s security.”

“China supports all efforts conducive to de-escalation and political settlement of the situation, while opposing any moves which are adverse to promoting a diplomatic solution and add fuel to the flames,” Wang said.

With international outrage and sanctions mounting against Russia, Beijing is scrambling to avoid being tainted by association with Moscow while also maintaining their increasingly close ties.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin seen with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin seen with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Photograph: Greg Baker/AP

Once Cold War rivals, China and Russia have moved increasingly closer since Xi Jinping took power nearly a decade ago, driven by their shared desire to confront US power.

According to Agence France-Presse, China seems to have been “caught flat-footed” by Russia’s military offensive, fierce Ukrainian resistance, and the volume of the resulting international anti-Kremlin backlash.

The situation has effectively paralysed China, according to Richard Ghiasy, an expert at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.

“Security interests virtually always trump economic interests” in China’s calculus, and it will not fundamentally shift toward a more pro-Ukraine stance, he told AFP.

Russia is “a giant, nuclear-armed and resource-rich neighbour” that China won’t risk agitating, Ghiasy said.

Beijing, which has long demanded respect for territorial integrity in border disputes with its own neighbours, has been forced into rhetorical contortions on Ukraine to avoid upsetting Russia.

While maintaining lip service to national sovereignty, China has insisted that Moscow’s security concerns regarding Ukraine and the broader expansion of the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) are valid.

Updated

Summary

Hello it’s Samantha Lock with you as we continue to monitor the crisis unfolding in Ukraine.

Russia’s war on its neighbour continues for its tenth day and well into its second week. It is 7am in Ukraine and here is where the situation currently stands:

  • US president Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to discuss ongoing efforts to impose sanctions on Russia and speed up US military, humanitarian and economic assistance. The White House said during the call the pair also discussed talks between Russia and Ukraine, but offered no additional details.
  • Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson issued a six-point plan in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is urging other leaders to endorse it in efforts to ensure Russia fails in its apparent attempt to take over its democratic neighbour.
  • Zelenskiy also said he spoke to SpaceX and Tesla boss Elon Musk, announcing the country will receive more of its Starlink satellite internet terminals this coming week.
  • US-based credit card giants Visa and Mastercard announced they will suspend their Russian business operations.
  • The Ukrainian military said Russian forces continue to focus on Kyiv while moving ahead with assaults on Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and the creation of a land corridor with Crimea, in its latest operational report. The report said aircraft from airports in Belarusian territory were involved in air strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in Kyiv and Zhytomyr.
  • US-based think tank and policy research organisation, the Institute for the Study of War, released a report saying Russian forces in Ukraine may have entered a possibly brief operational pause as they prepare to resume operations against Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mykolayiv, and possibly Odesa in the next 24-48 hours.
  • The relief effort to distribute humanitarian aid to Ukraine has stepped up as volunteers across the country work tirelessly to gather basic necessities to give to refugees and prepare food supplies for the army to be sent to the frontline.
  • The humanitarian situation in the southern Ukrainian port of Mariupol is “catastrophic” and it is vital that civilians be evacuated, a senior official from the NGO Doctors Without Borders warned.
  • The International Monetary Fund announced it could approve $1.4 billion emergency funding as early as next week as the body warns of war’s “severe impact” on the global economy.
  • Western sanctions on Russia are a stumbling block to revived Iran nuclear deal, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said.
  • Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba met with US secretary of state Antony Blinken, saying Ukraine “will win this war” but needs more help from Nato.
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dymtro Kuleba, appealed for more military assistance while Reuters reports Zelenskiy made a “desperate plea” for eastern Europe to provide Russian-made aircraft to Ukraine. In a call with US senators, he is also understood to have called for a no-fly zone, lethal aid, a ban on Russian oil and a suspension of Visa and Mastercard in Russia.
  • The US is reportedly in discussions with Poland on the possibility of Poland providing more fighter jets to Ukraine with the US potentially agreeing to backfill Poland’s fleet of fighter planes if Warsaw decides to transfer its used MiG-29s to Ukraine, four US officials told POLITICO.
  • Russia and Ukraine plan another round of talks on Monday, even though previous talks that produced an agreement to a limited ceasefire in order to protect corridors for civilian have not been honoured by Russia.
  • The United Nations recorded 351 civilians killed and 707 injured in Ukraine, according to the UN high commissioner for human rights.
  • Tens of thousands joined rallies around the world in support of Ukraine over the weekend, gathering in cities across Europe, the US and South America to demand an end to Russia’s invasion.

For any tips and feedback please contact me through Twitter or at samantha.lock@theguardian.com

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