Russia-Ukraine war: Zelenskiy vows to punish attack on civilians in Irpin; Russia bombards Mykolaiv – live

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Russia-Ukraine war: Zelenskiy vows to punish attack on civilians in Irpin; Russia bombards Mykolaiv – live” was written by Sam Jones (now) and Samantha Lock (earlier), for theguardian.com on Monday 7th March 2022 11.10 UTC

The Polish government plans to create an 8 billion zloty ($1.75bn) fund to help war refugees from Ukraine, a government official said on Monday.

The UN estimates more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia attacked its neighbour on 24 February.

More than 1 million have crossed the border into Poland. Many thousands have been hosted across the country, but the aid effort has been predominantly shouldered by non-governmental organisations, volunteers and municipalities.

The government was due to introduce a bill later on Monday on an aid package to fund food and temporary lodgings for refugees, along with measures allowing them to legally work and access public healthcare and social assistance in Poland.

“Our initial assumption is that the fund we will set up will amount to about 8 billion zloty. That will finance the most urgent supplies and lodging but also the access to the labour market, social benefits and education,” Minister Lukasz Schreiber told private broadcaster Radio Plus on Monday.

The bill, which would also provide a 300 zloty one-off benefit for each refugee and financial assistance for Poles hosting Ukrainians, was set to be approved by parliament on Tuesday in a fast track legislative procedure. (Via Reuters)

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has assured Lithuania of Nato protection and American support as he began a lightning visit to the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

The former Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all Nato members and Blinken is aiming to reassure them of their security in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations.

“We are bolstering our shared defence so that we and our allies are prepared,” Blinken said on Monday, stressing that the US commitment to Nato’s mutual defence pact is “sacrosanct”.

“We will defend every inch of Nato territory if it comes under attack,” he said. “No one should doubt our readiness, no one should doubt our resolve.”

Blinken opened his Baltic tour in Vilnius, where Lithuanian support for Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion is palpable as signs of solidarity with Ukrainians are evident in many businesses and on public buildings and buses.

“Unfortunately, the worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern for all of us and around the world,” the Lithuanian president, Gitanas Nauseda, told Blinken.

“Russia’s reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to European security, the security of our alliance.”

Nauseda said a policy of deterrence was no longer enough and that “forward defence” was now needed. He predicted that “Putin will not stop in Ukraine if he will not be stopped.”

“It is our collective duty as a nation to help all Ukrainians with all means available,” said Nauseda. “By saying all, I mean, indeed all means all, if we want to avoid the third world war. The choice is in our hands.”

(Via AP)

Antony Blinken, left, speaks during a joint press conference with Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielus Landsbergis, in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Antony Blinken, left, speaks during a joint press conference with Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielus Landsbergis, in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AP

Updated

Marina, an economist and mother of three in Volnovakha, describes her family’s ordeal and their terrifying escape.

We have nowhere to go, and nowhere to go back to. We don’t know what to do next. We are desperate; we didn’t expect the scale of destruction that we saw when we came out of the basement.

Even when we were sitting there and hearing the shelling, we didn’t expect that. The houses are all destroyed. I’ve seen the footage on the internet.

“We don’t have a lot of money to support ourselves or to travel. We need to find a new place where we can start again. We have nothing but a few papers and what is on our phone. Even our family photos that we stored on our computer don’t exist any more.

Nikolai Kuleba, the ombudsman for children with the office of the president of Ukraine, has written an utterly heart-breaking piece for the Guardian about what the country’s children and their parents are having to endure.

Here’s an excerpt:

Daily, parents call me pleading for assistance to evacuate their children, willing to take any risk to find safety. I cannot help them all now. I cannot tell them they are wrong to ask.

As families are divided, mothers and fathers pin their names to their children’s coats and inhale the smell of their hair before the bus door must shut.

To answer their plea is also to break their hearts. To those who have Ukraine’s children in their care – know they are loved and cherished. Please tell them this and put them to bed each night with a kiss on their foreheads, as their mothers and fathers would.

For the children who are still here, there is no safety, only terror.

Across the country, schools are being deliberately destroyed, leaving wreckage strewn with tiny chairs and brightly coloured paper. Small shoes, left neatly lined up for the next day, are scattered and charred. There is no military purpose to attacking primary schools, only savagery.

My colleagues Jon Henley and Peter Beaumont have written this piece on Ukraine’s furious reaction to Russia’s “humanitarian corridors”, which will only allow people fleeing the war into Russia or Belarus.

Ukraine has criticised a proposal by Moscow to open refugee corridors as “completely immoral” after the Russian defence ministry announced that civilians fleeing some cities would only be allowed to leave for Belarus or Russia.

As Russian forces continued to pound Ukrainian cities, with rockets hitting residential buildings, Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said negotiations were under way with Russia on establishing safe routes out.

But humanitarian corridors were unlikely to be set up while Russian forces keep trying to advance, Arestovich said, adding that although Ukrainians should be able to decide individually where they wanted to go, evacuating to Russia was not advisable.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian presidency, meanwhile, said people must be allowed to flee their homes through Ukrainian territory. “This is a completely immoral story. People’s suffering is used to create the desired television picture,” he said.

Nothing to add to this picture …

Prams left at Przemysl railway station in Poland for Ukrainian refugees with babies. Photo: Francesco Malavolta
Prams left at Przemysl railway station in Poland for Ukrainian refugees with babies. Photo: Francesco Malavolta
Photograph: Francesco Malavolta

Russia backs UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi’s idea of a trilateral meeting with Ukraine on ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities there during Russia’s invasion – but not at Chernobyl as Grossi wants, Moscow’s envoy to the watchdog said.

“Russia supported Grossi’s idea regarding a trilateral meeting and we expect that the Ukrainians will also be cooperative,” Russia’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mikhail Ulyanov, told reporters on Monday.

“I believe Chernobyl is not the best place for such a meeting. There are numerous capitals in the world.”

(Via Reuters)

An operator’s arm-chair covered with plastic sits in an empty control room of the 3rd reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, on 20 April 2018.
An operator’s arm-chair covered with plastic sits in an empty control room of the 3rd reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, in Chernobyl, Ukraine, on 20 April 2018.
Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Updated

A Foreign Office minister has denied that the UK is to offer Ukrainian refugees a new humanitarian-based route to the country, as he confirmed that it was possible only 50 people have been granted visas so far.

James Cleverly, the minister for Europe and America, said the figures for refugees processed “will move very, very quickly”, but said it was taking time because there were procedures that needed to be followed.

So far the UK has only been accepting those of the 1.3 million-plus Ukrainians to have fled the country since Russia invaded if they have family connections in the UK. On Monday, the Sun quoted Priti Patel, the home secretary, as saying she was “investigating the legal options to create a humanitarian route”.

Updated

According to snaps from Reuters, Volodmyr Zelenskiy has said that the future of Europe is being decided by Ukrainian resistance, and has called for western leaders to give him military aircraft. The Ukrainian president has also urged a boycott of Russian oil and exports.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a video address in Kyiv, Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a video address in Kyiv, Ukraine
Photograph: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

Updated

Russia hasn’t bothered to attend today’s international court of justice hearing in the Hague, AP reports.

Russia has snubbed a hearing at the United Nations’ top court into a legal bid by Kyiv to halt Moscow’s devastating invasion of Ukraine.

A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the international court of justice was empty Monday morning as the hearing opened.

The court’s president, American judge Joan E Donoghue, said Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands informed judges that “his government did not intend to participate in the oral proceedings”. The hearing went ahead without the Russian delegation.

Updated

For the sake of completeness …

Some people on Twitter are incorrectly claiming that the picture Shaun Walker tweeted from Odesa earlier today was photoshopped. It wasn’t. Shaun took the picture himself this morning.

Some more detail here, via Reuters, on Kyiv’s fury over the new “humanitarian corridors” announced by Russia.

According to maps published by the RIA news agency, the corridors will only allow civilians to head for non-Ukrainian territories, with the corridor from Kyiv leading to Belarus, while civilians from Kharkiv will only be permitted to go only to Russia.

Russia will also mount an airlift to take Ukrainians from Kyiv to Russia, the country’s defence ministry said.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told Reuters the move was “completely immoral”, adding that Russia was trying to “use people’s suffering to create a television picture”.

They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine. This is one of the problems that is causing the humanitarian corridors to break down. They seem to agree to them, but they themselves want to supply humanitarian aid for a picture on TV, and want the corridors to lead in their direction.

Updated

President Macron has, among other things, asked for international law to be respected, for the protection of civilian populations and the unfettered access of [humanitarian] aid.

He reminded [Putin] of the importance of a negotiated solution fully acceptable to the Ukrainians. Respect for international humanitarian law is first of all to stop the bombings and the [military] offensive.

That is what we have asked for in a repeated manner since the start of the war. We have asked for the Russians to stop the combat, to protect civilians and allow unfettered access to aid. We remind you that it is Russia waging war on Ukraine and not Ukraine waging war on Russia

People embrace on arrival in Valencia after completing a bus trip aboard the NGO ‘Together for Peace’ to escape from Ukraine.
People embrace on arrival in Valencia after completing a bus trip aboard the NGO ‘Together for Peace’ to escape from Ukraine.
Photograph: Europa Press News/Europa Press/Getty Images

Updated

South Korea announces further economic sanctions on Russia

South Korea has become the latest country to announces further economic action in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports:

From Tuesday, South Korea will immobilise any assets held by the Russian central bank in won currency and stop transactions with Russia’s central bank, following similar moves by the US and the EU, its finance ministry said.

South Korea also announced new penalties on key Russian sovereign wealth funds, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation and Russian Direct Investment Fund, as well as Rossiya Bank, to cut them off from any business with South Korean people and companies.

The measures follow South Korea’s decision last week to ban transactions with seven major Russian banks and their affiliates, including Sberbank.

Details of any Russian central bank assets held in won cannot be disclosed without the holder’s consent, a finance ministry official said.

Updated

As many as 5 million Ukrainians are expected to flee the country if Russia’s bombing of Ukraine continues, the EU’s top diplomat has just warned. Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, says Europe needed to ready itself for the arrivals:

We must prepare to receive around five million people … We must mobilise all the resources of the EU to help those countries receiving people. We will need more schools, more reception centres – more of everything.

Borrell also pledged more scrutiny of EU aid spending in countries that have supported Russia diplomatically or abstained from criticising Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Josep Borrell attends the extraordinary meeting of the EU foreign affairs council in Brussels, Belgium.
Josep Borrell attends the extraordinary meeting of the EU foreign affairs council in Brussels, Belgium.
Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated

As AP reports here, legal moves are afoot to try to stop the war even as the fighting, bombing and refugee flight continue …

As Russian forces pound Ukrainian cities with rockets despite announcing a ceasefire to allow civilians to flee some areas, lawyers representing Kyiv and Moscow face off on Monday at the United Nations’ top court in a legal bid to halt the devastating war.

The International Court of Justice is opening two days of hearings at its headquarters, the Peace Palace, into Ukraine’s request for its judges to order Russia to halt its invasion. Ukraine is scheduled to present its arguments on Monday morning and Russia can respond on Tuesday.

Ukraine has asked the court to order Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations … that have as their stated purpose and objective the prevention and punishment of a claimed genocide” in the separatist eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

A decision is expected on the request within days, though it remains to be seen if Russia would abide by any order the court might issue.

If the court were to order a halt to hostilities, “I think the chance of that happening is zero,” said Terry Gill, a professor of military law at the University of Amsterdam. He noted that if a nation does not abide by the court’s order, judges could seek action from the United Nations security council, where Russia holds a veto.

The request for so-called provisional measures is linked to a case Ukraine has filed based on the Genocide Convention. Both countries have ratified the 1948 treaty, which has a clause allowing nations to take disputes based on its provisions to The Hague-based court.

Kyiv argues that Moscow’s claims of genocide by Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk thatPresident Vladimir Putin used as a pretext for his invasion are fabricated.

“Ukraine emphatically denies that any such genocide has occurred, and that the Russian Federation has any lawful basis to take action in and against Ukraine for the purpose of preventing and punishing genocide,” the country said in its claim to the court.

Ukraine’s nine-page legal filing launching the case argues that “Russia has turned the Genocide Convention on its head” by making a false claim. It adds that “Russia’s lie is all the more offensive, and ironic, because it appears that it is Russia planning acts of genocide in Ukraine.”

The success of Ukraine’s request will depend on whether the court accepts it has “prima facie jurisdiction” in the case, which is not a guarantee that the court ultimately would proceed with the suit. Cases at the international court of justice typically take years to complete.

Updated

China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, has stressed that the friendship between Beijing and Moscow is still very strong – despite international condemnation of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine – and says China is open to helping mediate peace.

Beijing has walked a tight diplomatic tightrope throughout the crisis, refusing to condemn its close ally Moscow after only last month touting a “no limits” strategic partnership between the two countries.

“The friendship between the two peoples is rock-solid, and both sides’ future cooperation prospects are very vast,” Wang told an annual press briefing on Monday.

But he said China was “willing to work with the international community to carry out necessary mediation, when necessary”.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said last week that China should mediate future peace talks between Russia and Ukraine as Western powers cannot fulfil the role.

Beijing has repeatedly said it would play a “constructive role in calling for negotiations” to resolve the crisis, but has not previously committed to joining or hosting any peace talks.

Wang also said China would send humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

He described the China-Russia relationship as “the world’s most crucial bilateral relationship”, which “is conducive to world peace, stability and development”.

The foreign minister referred to last month’s partnership commitment as “clearly and unmistakably showing the world” that both countries “jointly oppose the revival of the Cold War mentality and stoking ideological confrontations”.

Wang also said the informal alliance would “not brook interference by third parties”, in a warning to the US and its Western allies who in recent days have lobbied China to play a more active role in mediating the conflict. (Via AFP)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a remote video press conference held on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a remote video press conference held on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
Photograph: Sam McNeil/AP

Here’s an example of the widespread scepticism that’s meeting Russia’s claims of a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors (Via PA):

The UK’s Europe minister, James Cleverly, said Russia’s latest offer of a ceasefire and an escape route for civilians was “cynical beyond belief”.

Two previous attempts to create humanitarian corridors have ended with civilians being shelled as they tried to flee to safety.

Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency showed that civilians will only be able to leave to Russia and Belarus.

Cleverly told BBC Breakfast:

It appears cynical beyond belief. There is a view that Vladimir Putin believed there was a widespread desire of Ukrainians to be closer to Russia, to be more Russian. I think that has been proven to be a complete nonsense by the circumstances we are seeing. Providing evacuation routes into the arms of the country that is currently destroying yours is a nonsense.

He added:

Ultimately the most humanitarian thing the Russians could do is end this completely illegal, completely unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

Minister of State James Cleverly arrives at Downing Street on February 28, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Minister of State James Cleverly arrives at Downing Street on February 28, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Here’s our full story on how more than one million people have arrived in Poland after fleeing the war in Ukraine:

My colleague Shaun Walker’s latest post on Ukraine’s pithy road signage …

A spokesman for Volodymr Zelenskiy has just described Russia’s stance on the humanitarian corridors as “completely immoral”.

Russia’s announcement of a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors doesn’t appear to have stopped its forces targeting Ukrainian cities, according to Associated Press in Lviv:

Even as Russia announced a ceasefire starting Monday morning and the opening of humanitarian corridors in several areas, its armed forces continued to pummel Ukrainian cities, with multiple rocket launchers hitting residential buildings.

The limited ceasefire announcement came a day after hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians attempting to flee to safety were forced to shelter from Russian shelling of cities in Ukraine’s center, north and south. Officials from both sides planned a third round of talks Monday.

Russian forces continued their offensive, opening fire on the city of Mykolaiv, 480km south of the capital of Kyiv, Ukraine’s General Staff said Monday morning. Rescuers said they were putting out fires in residential areas caused by rocket attacks.

Shelling also continued in the suburbs of Kyiv, including Irpin, which has been cut off from electricity, water and heating for three days.

“Russia continues to carry out rocket, bomb and artillery strikes on the cities and settlements of Ukraine,” the General Staff said. “The invaders continue to use the airfield network of Belarus to carry out air strikes on Ukraine.”

The Russians have also been targeting humanitarian corridors, taking women and children hostage and placing weapons in residential areas of cities, according to the General Staff.

A Russian task force said a ceasefire would start Monday morning, the 12th day of the war, for civilians from Kyiv, the southern port city of Mariupol, Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and Sumy.

It wasn’t immediately clear if fighting would stop beyond the areas mentioned in the task force’s statement, or when the ceasefire would end.

The announcement follows two failed attempts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, from which the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated 200,000 people were trying to flee. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the failure. The Russian task force said Monday’s ceasefire and the opening of the corridors was announced at the request of French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

Evacuation routes published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Defence Ministry, show that civilians will be able to leave to Russia and Belarus. Russian forces will be observing the ceasefire with drones, the task force said.

The British government – which has been accused by France of showing a “lack of humanity” when it comes to helping the Ukrainian refugees who have fled the Russian invasion – has defended its response.

The UK’s Europe minister, James Cleverly, said a new scheme had only just launched following criticism that it was far too restrictive.

We have processes in place whereby people with family here in the UK and indeed those without family in the UK can come to the UK. I would remind you that the process has only just started and the vast majority of people are physically still in the countries neighbouring Ukraine.

Cleverly also told Times Radio that the UK Britain would consider banning oil imports from Russia, after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said Washington and Europe were exploring the idea.

We import very, very little Russian hydrocarbons anyway. So that’s something that we will of course, consider.

A total of around 1.067 million Ukrainians have fled to Poland since the Russian invasion on 24 February, with 142,300 arriving on Sunday alone, the Polish Border Guard has said.

The force said Monday was also shaping up to be another day of massive arrivals:

Traffic on the Polish-Ukrainian border is growing, today at 07.00, 42,000 people arrived in Poland from Ukraine.

(Via Reuters)

Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Monday, March 7, 2022.
Refugees wait in a crowd for transportation after fleeing from the Ukraine and arriving at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, Monday, March 7, 2022.
Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

Updated

Good morning. This is Sam Jones, taking over the blog from my colleague Samantha Lock. A quick update on yesterday’s story on the massive arrests of people taking part in anti-war protests in Russia. According to the independent monitoring group OVD-Info, almost 5,000 people were detained for demonstrating in Russia yesterday.

Amid reports of probable Russian attacks on Ukrainian communication infrastructure, Cyber resistance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, with hacking collective Anonymous claiming earlier today to have hacked into the Russian streaming services Wink and Ivi and live TV channels Russia 24, Channel One, Moscow 24 to broadcast footage from Ukraine.

The group added that activists are also broadcasting troll faces on Russian military radio.

Updated

Russia is “probably targeting” Ukraine’s communication infrastructure to reduce access to reliable news sources, Britain’s ministry of defence has said.

A recently published defence intelligence update reads:

Russia is probably targeting Ukraine’s communications infrastructure in order to reduce Ukrainian citizens’ access to reliable news and information.

Russia reportedly struck a TV tower in Kharkiv yesterday, suspending broadcasting output. This follows a similar strike on a TV tower in Kyiv on 01 March 2022.

Ukrainian internet access is also highly likely being disrupted as a result of collateral damage from Russian strikes on infrastructure. Over the past week, internet outages have been reported in Mariupol, Sumy, Kyiv and Kharkiv.”

US President Joe Biden’s advisers are discussing a possible visit to Saudi Arabia to help repair relations and convince the Kingdom to bolster oil production, Axios reports.

The news also comes amid reports from the New York Times that Biden officials travelled to Venezuela over the weekend to meet with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Those in Washington have suggested Venezuela’s oil could replace Russia’s.

A White House spokesperson told Axios: “We don’t have any international travel to announce at this time, and a lot of this is premature speculation.”

The questions of global energy supply and a possible rearrangement of world alliances has come to the fore in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The US currently relies on Russia for 10% of its imports of crude oil and petroleum products, sources suggest.

On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said US lawmakers were “exploring” possible legislation to isolate Russia, including a total ban on Russian oil and energy products to the US.

It’s been a rough start to the week on the financial markets with Brent crude soaring by more than $20 earlier today to more than $139 – less than $10 off its all-time high of $147.50 set in July 2008. It has now dropped back to $129 and with some analysts saying it could reach $200, stock markets have read the signals loud and clear, selling off heavily again in Asia.

The Nikkei in Tokyo was down almost 3%, the Hang Seng was off 3.6% and the Shanghai index has lost 2.3%. In futures trade, the FTSE100 is off 2.6% and the S&P500 down 1.3%.

The panic on trading floors sent safe havens sharply higher, with gold hitting as much as $2,000.86, its highest since mid-2020.

Updated

New Zealand will rush a bill through parliament this week that will significantly ramp up its sanctions against Russia and its oligarchs, in line with its western allies.

The Russia Sanctions Bill is the “first of its kind” in New Zealand, which has no legal framework for passing broader, unilateral sanctions and usually only does so when called on by the UN security council. As a permanent member of the body, Moscow has vetoed any action against it.

“A bill of this nature has never been brought before our parliament, but with Russia vetoing UN sanctions we must act ourselves to support Ukraine and our partners in opposition to this invasion,” the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said.

Ukrainian authorities claim to have re-taken the city of Chuhuiv in eastern Ukraine.

According to a report released by Ukraine’s general staff of the armed forces, Russian forces “suffered heavy losses in personnel and equipment”.

The Guardian has been unable to verify these reports.

Ukranian security personnel inspect the remains of a rocket on a street Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine
Ukranian security personnel inspect the remains of a rocket on a street Mykolaiv, southern Ukraine
Photograph: State Emergency Services Of Ukraine/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Japan is reportedly in discussion with the United States and other European countries about possibly banning Russian oil imports, Kyodo News reported on Monday.

Asked about a potential embargo on Russian oil imports, Japanese chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined to comment on the country’s communication with the United States.

Russia accounted for 3.63% of Japan’s imports of crude oil last year, Reuters reports.

The report comes after US secretary of state Antony Blinken said on Sunday the United States and European allies were exploring the possibility.

While sanctions imposed on Russia are not expected to directly affect Japan’s ability to ensure a stable supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG), they could indirectly affect energy-related projects, industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said.

“We will closely monitor (developments),” he said in parliament, adding that Japan would act appropriately in step with the Group of Seven.

We’re receiving more information surrounding the corridors Russia has reportedly agreed to open this morning.

According to various Russian state media outlets all citing Russia’s defence ministry, the corridors – which will be opened from the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy – are being set up at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron.

Some corridors appear to involve the evacuation of Ukrainian civilians to Russian cities and Belarus.

According to routes published by the RIA Novosti news agency, the corridor from Kyiv will lead to Belarus, and civilians who are seeking to flee Kharkiv will only have one corridor leading to Russia.

Ukrainian families arrive at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Medyka after Russia and Ukraine agreed to open humanitarian corridors for people from besieged areas to escape.
Ukrainian families arrive at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in Medyka after Russia and Ukraine agreed to open humanitarian corridors for people from besieged areas to escape.
Photograph: Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Corridors from Mariupol and Sumy will lead both to other Ukrainian cities and to Russia.

Those who want to leave Kyiv will also be able to be airlifted to Russia, the ministry said, adding that it would use drones to monitor the evacuation and “attempts by the Ukrainian side to deceive Russia and the whole civilised world … are useless this time”.

Two planned evacuation operations from Mariupol and the nearby city of Volnovakha failed over the last two days as both sides accused each other of failing to stop shooting and shelling.

In Mariupol alone, Ukrainian authorities said they planned to evacuate over 200,000 civilians, or half of the city’s population. However, Russia claimed its forces resumed their offensive in Mariupol and Volnovakha due to “unwillingness of the Ukrainian side.”

Updated

Reports are filtering in of a Russian attack on the city of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea in southern Ukraine.

Russian forces reportedly bombarded the city with artillery fire on Monday morning, just one day after Ukrainian troops pushed them from the city limits.

Footage purporting to show a heavy artillery barrage against Mykolaiv was uploaded to Twitter by New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz.

“From my vantage, I could see flashes from the attack lighting up the night sky along a large swath of the city,” Schwirtz wrong alongside a 10-second clip.

The city’s mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych, confirmed reports in a message posted to Facebook, writing that Russian troops had targeted residential buildings in the city, and shared a video of a block of flats engulfed in flames.

“There are many shells in the city that did not explode… do not approach, do not lift, and do not try to move them yourself,” Senkevych warned.

Updated

Russian forces announce ceasefire and open corridors – reports suggest

The Russian military will reportedly hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities, the Interfax news agency reports.

Corridors will be opened from Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy at the request of French president Emmanuel Macron, the agency cities the Russian defence ministry as saying.

RIA Novosti also reports:

The Russian armed forces, following a request from French President Emmanuel Macron to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, declare a ceasefire regime from 10:00 and open humanitarian corridors, the Interdepartmental Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine said in a statement. Thus, civilians will be able to leave Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkov and Sumy.

At the same time, during the opening of humanitarian corridors, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will carry out continuous objective monitoring of the evacuation, including with the use of UAVs. Therefore, we warn that all attempts by the Ukrainian side to once again deceive Russia and the entire civilised world in disrupting the humanitarian operation, allegedly through the fault of the Russian Federations this time around are useless and pointless.”

The corridors will reportedly be in place from 10am Moscow time.

Russian state media outlet Russia Today quotes the ministry: “Kyiv’s attempts to accuse Russia of disrupting the humanitarian operation this time are meaningless, control will be carried out with the help of drones.”

On Thursday, both Ukrainian and Russian sides agreed to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians out of some combat zones, however Ukraine’s president said Russia withdrew on their promise. “We heard the promise that there would be humanitarian corridors. But there are no humanitarian corridors,” he said in a national address on Sunday night.

Updated

‘We will not forgive. We will not forget’, Zelenskiy warns

In case you missed Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s national address earlier, here are the highlights below.

In a characteristically impassioned address to his nation late on Sunday evening, Zelenskiy warned Russian troops he would punish those who committed atrocities in Ukraine adding that the “only quiet place” that awaits them would be the grave.

An excerpt of his speech, as translated by Ukrainian broadcaster Ukrinform, reads:

We will not forgive the destroyed houses. We will not forgive the missile that our air defence shot down over Okhmatdyt today. And more than five hundred other such missiles that hit our land. All over Ukraine .. hit our people and children.

We will not forgive the shooting of unarmed people. Destruction of our infrastructure.

We will not forgive.

Hundreds and hundreds of victims. Thousands and thousands of sufferings.

And God will not forgive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never.

And instead of Forgiveness, there will be a Day of Judgment. I’m sure of it.”

 

Zelenskiy warned Russian forces they would face “a day of judgement” for the “deliberate murder” inflicted on his country.

How many such families have died in Ukraine?

We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war on our land.

We will find every bastard who shot at our cities, our people, who bombed our land, who launched rockets.

There will be no quiet place on this earth for you. Except for the grave.”

Meanwhile, in case you missed our report earlier, the UK’s ministry of defence released its latest intelligence brief, speculating that Russian forces made “minimal ground advances” over the weekend.

Russian forces probably made minimal ground advances over the weekend. It is highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved its planned objectives to date.”

The ministry noted a “high level of Russian air and artillery strikes” that continued to hit military and civilian sites in Ukrainian cities over the past 24 hours.

“Recent strikes have targeted Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv, and been particularly heavy in Mariupol,” the report added.

Updated

Some images from Irpin on Sunday, where Russian shells killed eight civilians who were trying to flee.

A Ukrainian man rides his bicycle near a factory and a store burning after it had been bombarded in Irpin
A Ukrainian man rides his bicycle near a factory and a store burning after it had been bombarded in Irpin
Photograph: Emilio Morenatti/AP
Local residents evacuate as Russian forces advance and continue to bombard the town with artillery, in Irpin
Local residents evacuate as Russian forces advance and continue to bombard the town with artillery, in Irpin
Photograph: Marcus Yam/LOS ANGELES TIMES/REX/Shutterstock
People trying to leave Irpin as Russia attacks
People trying to leave Irpin as Russia attacks
Photograph: Dia Images/Getty Images
Local residents along with the aid of a volunteer fighter, evacuate as Russian forces advance
Local residents along with the aid of a volunteer fighter, evacuate as Russian forces advance
Photograph: Marcus Yam/LOS ANGELES TIMES/REX/Shutterstock

The Ukrainian military is reporting that Russian forces are continuing to launch rocket and artillery strikes from Belarus on settlements in Ukraine.

In an operational report released just before 7am local time, the general staff of the armed forces of Ukraine said Russia continues to “violate the rules of international humanitarian law” by shelling civilians and green corridors as well as deploying equipment and ammunition in residential neighbourhoods.

The military also notes the city of Irpin on the western outskirts of Kyiv has been “deprived of light, water and heat for more than three days” adding: “there is no food and water, the occupiers banned the residents from leaving their homes.”

In an earlier report released late on Sunday night, the military said Russian troops were regrouping and accumulating resources “to storm Kyiv”.

The moment two Ukrainian reservists decided to tie the knot at a Kyiv checkpoint has been captured on video.

On day 11 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, long-term partners Lesia Ivashchenko and Valerii Filimonov married at a checkpoint in Kyiv on 6 March.

The couple, both members of Ukraine’s territorial defence unit, decided to forgo formal wear and don their uniforms instead.

 

US ‘exploring’ legislation to ban imports of Russian oil

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the chamber is “exploring” legislation to ban imports of Russian oil and that Congress intends to enact this week $10 billion in aid for Ukraine.

A letter published to the speaker of the house official website reads:

The Biden Administration has requested $10 billion in humanitarian, military and economic support for Ukraine.

The Congress intends to enact this emergency funding this week as part of our omnibus government funding legislation. And an urgent request from President Zelensky is to help ensure air support for the Ukrainian armed forces.

In addition, the House is currently exploring strong legislation that will further isolate Russia from the global economy.

Our bill would ban the import of Russian oil and energy products into the United States, repeal normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, and take the first step to deny Russia access to the World Trade Organization. We would also empower the Executive branch to raise tariffs on Russian imports.”

Oil prices have soared more than 10% and are closing in on their all-time high levels after the risk of a US and European ban on Russian crude threatened a stagflationary shock for world markets.

The global benchmark of Brent crude hit US$139.13 a barrel at the start of trading on Monday, a leap of more than $20 on Friday’s close of $118.03. The rise came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the White House and allies were in talks about banning imports from Russia.

The all-time of $147.50 was reached in July 2008 but some analysts think that mark could be surpassed because of the geopolitical impact of the Ukraine crisis.

Stock markets headed the opposite way with more big losses when trading began on Monday. The Nikkei in Tokyo was down more than 3%, as was the Hang Seng in Hong Kong. In futures trade, the FTSE100 off 2.6% and the S&P500 down 1.3%.

The panic on trading floors sent safe havens sharply higher, with gold hitting as much as $2,000.86, its highest since mid-2020.

A woman walks past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange The price of oil jumped more than $10 a barrel and shares were sharply lower Monday.
A woman walks past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange The price of oil jumped more than $10 a barrel and shares were sharply lower Monday.
Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Updated

Opening summary

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. I’m Samantha Lock. Here is a rundown of the latest developments:

  • Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivered a strident address to his nation on Sunday night, warning Russian troops he will punish those who committed atrocities in Ukraine while saying the “only quiet place” that awaits them is the grave. “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war on our land.”
  • Zelenskiy spoke of the death of a family who were attempting to flee the Ukrainian city of Irpin, near Kyiv in northern Ukraine, in an emotional plea to honour humanitarian corridors that Russian forces appear to have ignored. Eight civilians were killed in the city as evacuations were under way, according to mayor Oleksandr Markushyn.
  • The Ukrainian president criticised western leaders for failing to respond to the Russian defence ministry’s announcement that it would strike Ukraine’s military-industrial complex. “I didn’t hear even a single world leader react to this,” he said. “The audacity of the aggressor is a clear signal to the west that the sanctions imposed on Russia are not sufficient.”
  • A plane carrying Russian diplomats expelled by the United States left New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport en route to Moscow about 7.30pm EST, according to Flight Radar24 data.
  • The US does not believe a Russian amphibious assault in or near the Ukrainian city of Odesa is imminent, a senior US defence official said, according to Reuters. There have been growing concerns about a possible attack on the city.
  • Russia has instructed all state-owned websites and services to switch to the Russian domain name system by 11 March, according to Russian state media outlets. Many fear the move is a sign that Russia is beginning active preparations for disconnection from the global internet.
  • Meanwhile, hacking collective Anonymous claimed to have hacked into the Russian streaming services Wink and Ivi and live TV channels Russia 24, Channel One and Moscow 24 to broadcast footage from Ukraine.
  • Ukraine will ask the United Nations’ top court on Monday to issue an emergency ruling requiring Russia to stop its invasion, arguing that Moscow’s justification for the attack is based on a faulty interpretation of genocide law, Reuters reports.
  • British prime minister Boris Johnson has pledged to send more defensive equipment and $100m to Ukraine to hold off Russian troops and mitigate financial pressures facing the country, but was accused of moving too slowly and timidly to clamp down on oligarchs’ dirty money in the UK.
  • The UK’s ministry of defence released its latest intelligence report, speculating that Russian forces made “minimal ground advances” over the weekend, while a “high level of Russian air and artillery strikes” continued to hit military and civilian sites across the cities of Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.
  • Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who sported an insignia linked to the invasion of Ukraine on a medals podium alongside a Ukrainian competitor, has been called out for his “shocking behaviour”.
  • More than 4,300 people have been arrested in Russia after demonstrators took to the streets across 21 cities to condemn Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Another round of talks between Ukraine and Russia is due on Monday, according to Ukrainian officials. However, in a phone conversation with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Putin said the conflict would only stop if Ukraine stopped fighting and Russia’s demands were met. The Russian president also said Ukraine’s negotiators should take a more “constructive” approach in talks with Moscow to take into account the reality on the ground. Ukraine has said it is not willing to compromise on its territorial integrity.
  • Oil prices have soared more than 10% and are closing in on their all-time high levels after the risk of a US and European ban on Russian crude threatened a stagflationary shock for world markets.

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

Local residents arrive on evacuation busses after their town was bombarded with Russian artillery fire in Irpin, Ukraine.
Local residents arrive on evacuation busses after their town was bombarded with Russian artillery fire in Irpin, Ukraine.
Photograph: Marcus Yam/LOS ANGELES TIMES/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

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