Ukraine's biggest national flag flies in Kyiv on February 26, 2022. © Genya Savilov, AFP

Russian forces launched coordinated missile and artillery attacks on Ukrainian cities on Saturday including the capital, Kyiv, where a curfew went into effect at 5pm local time. Follow our liveblog for all the latest developments.

  • Russia said its army has been given orders on Saturday to broaden its offensive in Ukraine “from all directions”.
  • The US, Britain, Europe and Canada moved to block Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payment system as part of another round of economic sanctions against Moscow.
  • Germany approved the delivery of 400 anti-tank rocket launchers to Ukraine in a U-turn from its longstanding policy of banning weapon exports to conflict zones, rooted in part in its own history of warfare on the European continent. The Élysée Palace announced that France would take action against Russian disinformation and send defensive weapons to Ukraine. President Emmanuel Macron also discussed Minsk’s role in the conflict with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
  • Kyiv’s mayor imposed a curfew beginning Saturday at 5pm local time (GMT+2) that will last until Monday morning.
  • The sporting world has also reacted to the invasion of Ukraine, with UEFA dropping Russia as hosts of the May 28 Champions League final, which has been moved from St. Petersburg to Paris. Poland is refusing to play its March 24 World Cup qualifier against Russia next month and Sweden will not play Russia in the World Cup play-offs.
  • More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled, mostly to Poland and Moldova, according to the UN.

Russian invaders ‘frustrated’ by stiff Ukraine resistance, says Pentagon official

Russia’s invasion force is being slowed and frustrated by unexpectedly stiff resistance from Ukrainian troops, keeping them outside Kyiv, a senior US defence official said Saturday.

The United States and Western allies are still able to deliver arms into the country to bolster the Ukraine military, and Washington plans to send more in the coming days to help them fight both Russian armour on the ground and assaults from the air, the official said.

According to Pentagon information, Russia now has at least 50 percent of its massive invasion force inside Ukraine.

But the force is making slow progress on its original three-front thrust due to unexpectedly stiff resistance, the official told reporters, on grounds of anonymity.

Volodymyr Zelensky thanks Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron called his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky at about midnight (Paris time) on Saturday. Zelensky thanked Macron for responding to his call for defensive weapons, said the Élysée Palace. On Saturday, France announced that it would send more military equipment to Ukraine. Zelensky also thanked Macron for agreeing to remove some Russian banks from the Swift payments system and for taking a tough stance on Belarus.

Musk says Starlink active in Ukraine as Russian invasion disrupts internet

SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk said on Saturday that the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service is available in Ukraine and SpaceX is sending more terminals to the country, whose internet has been disrupted due to the Russian invasion.

“Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk tweeted.

He was responding to a tweet by a Ukraine government official who asked Musk to provide the embattled country with Starlink stations.

People in Vasilkiv near Kyiv told to close windows, to protect them from toxic smoke, after an apparent missile strike on an oil depot.
Ukrainian journalist Illia Ponomarenko reports that an oil terminal outside Vasylkiv, some 30 kilometres south of Kyiv, has been targetted.

Loud explosions reportedly lit up the sky some 30 kilometres south of Kyiv a short while ago.

Source: (FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)

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