A child sits on a swing in front of a damaged residential building, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Kyiv [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Ukraine president warns tonight will be ‘the hardest’ as Russian troops close in on capital Kyiv.

  • Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning its attack on Ukraine.
  • Spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says ready to discuss ceasefire and peace with Russia.
  • United States says it will sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
  • Russian forces are advancing towards Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as they continue their assault on the country.
  • Putin calls for Ukraine’s military to remove the country’s government from power.
  • The UN says more than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled to other countries since the fighting started.

Here are the latest updates:

Guatemala president orders return of ambassador to Russia

Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei has said that he has ordered the return of the Central American country’s ambassador to Russia, Guisela Atalida Godinez Sazo, adding that his government rejected Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Giammattei had earlier expressed “full support for the sovereignty of Ukraine as like-minded countries and stand in solidarity with its people and government”.


UN chief says Russian soldiers should ‘return to their barracks’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on soldiers in Russia’s war on Ukraine to “return to their barracks”.

“We must never give up. We must give peace another chance,” he told reporters after Moscow vetoed a UN resolution condemning its “aggression” in Ukraine.


Australia seeks to join global move to hit Putin with sanctions

Australia seeks to join others in imposing direct sanctions on Putin and has extended its punitive financial measures to members of Russia’s parliament and more oligarchs, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said.

“It is an exceptional step to sanction leaders, but this is an exceptional situation,” Payne said at a press conference, adding that the government is seeking advice on how to follow other nations in the move.

“Vladimir Putin has unparalleled personal power over his country and he has chosen to go to war against a neighbour that posed no threat to Russia, because he wants to reverse history and take away the freedom and the democracy that the Ukrainian people chose for themselves.”

In its new sanctions, Payne said Australia will target 339 members of the State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament and eight more oligarchs. The new measures follow a series of Australian sanctions announced earlier in the week.


Ukraine says two commercial ships hit by Russian missiles near Odessa port

Ukraine has said Russian warships shelled a Moldovan-flagged chemical tanker and a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship due to load grain near Odessa port in the Black Sea.

A total of three non-military vessels have now been hit since the start of the invasion. On Thursday, the Turkish-owned Yasa Jupiter cargo ship was struck off Odessa.


Ukraine’s president says Russia will try to ‘storm’ Kyiv overnight

Zelenskyy has said that Russian troops would attempt to take the capital city Kyiv during the night.

“I have to say absolutely openly. This night will be more difficult than the day. Many cities of our state are under attack,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to the nation.

“Special attention on Kyiv – we cannot lose the capital,” he added in the clip released by the presidency.

“I am turning to our defenders, male and female, on all fronts: this night the enemy will use all the forces it has to crush our defence in a treacherous, harsh and inhumane way,” he said. “Tonight they will attempt a storming,” he added, in an apparent reference to the capital Kyiv.

White House asks Congress for $6.4bn for Ukraine crisis

The White House asked Congress to approve $6.4bn in aid to address the Ukraine crisis, including $2.9bn in security and humanitarian assistance and $3.5bn for the Department of Defense, Biden administration and congressional aides have said.

“In a recent conversation with lawmakers, the administration identified the need for additional US humanitarian, security, and economic assistance to Ukraine and Central European partners due to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion,” an official from the White House Office of Management and Budget said.


Russia ‘cannot veto our voices’, US envoy to UN says

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the United Nations, has said that Russia “will not veto accountability”, shortly after Moscow vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning its attack on Ukraine.

“Russia can veto this resolution, but cannot veto our voices,” she wrote on Twitter.


Moody’s puts Russia, Ukraine ratings on review for downgrade

Moody’s said it has put the credit ratings of Russia and Ukraine on review for a downgrade.

There are “serious concerns” around Russia’s ability to manage the disruptive impact of new sanctions on its economy, public finances and financial system, the ratings agency said.

Russia currently has an investment grade rating of Baa3 and a downgrade will lower its rating to junk status. Ukraine has a B3 rating and Moody’s said an extensive conflict could pose a risk to the government’s liquidity and external positions, given the country’s sizeable external maturities in the coming years and the reliance of its economy on foreign-currency funding.


Russia vetoes UN Security action on Ukraine, China abstains

Russia has vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained from the vote – a move Western countries view as a win for showing Russia’s international isolation.

The United Arab Emirates and India also abstained from the vote on the US-drafted text. The remaining 11 council members voted in favour. The draft resolution is now expected to be taken up by the 193-member UN General Assembly.

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia attends a United Nations Security Council meeting, on a resolution regarding Russia’s actions toward Ukraine [Carlo Allegri/Reuters] 

Russia’s invasion ‘threatens international system’, US envoy to UN says

Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy to the United Nations, has accused Russia of threatening the international system with its invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia’s latest attack on our most fundamental principles is so bold, so brazen that it threatens our international system as we know it. We have a solemn obligation to not look away,” she told the UN Security Council.

Echoing Biden’s comments from earlier this week, Thomas-Greenfield said Russia is engaged in a “war of choice” in Ukraine.

“Russia chose to inflict untold suffering on the Ukrainian people and on its own citizens,” she said. “Russia chose to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty, to violate international law, to violate the UN Charter.”


Russia will ‘most likely veto any resolution’: Amnesty chief

Agnes Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, has said that Russia “will most likely veto any resolution” at the UN Security Council meeting.

“If the UNSC is paralyzed, it is up to the entire membership to step up,” she said.

She called for the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution denouncing Russia’s “unlawful attack” and “calling for an end to all violations of humanitarian law and human rights”.

“The lives, safety and well-being of millions of civilians is at stake,” she added, though a UNGA resolution would be non-binding.


IMF says Ukraine requested emergency funding

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Ukraine has requested emergency funding.

Georgieva said the IMF will “work closely with the authorities to support Ukraine” in all the ways it can.

“Beyond Ukraine, the repercussions of the conflict pose significant economic risks in the region and around the world,” she added in a statement. “We are assessing the potential implications, including for the functioning of the financial system, commodity markets, and the direct impact on countries with economic ties to the region.”


Canada to impose sanctions on Russia’s Putin

Canada is imposing sanctions on Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

“We will be imposing sanctions on President Putin and his fellow architects of this barbaric war, his chief of staff and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” Trudeau told a news conference. “These men bear the greatest responsibility for the death and destruction occurring in Ukraine.”

Canada will also levy additional sanctions on Belarus and its leaders for “abetting” Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Trudeau said.

He also expressed support for barring Russia from SWIFT.


Ukraine and Russia are discussing place and time for talks: Reports

Ukraine and Russia are discussing a place and time for talks, Zelenskyy’s spokesman has said.

“Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about a ceasefire and peace,” spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said on social media.

Ukrainian diaspora in US, Canada rallies against ‘surreal’ attack

The Ukrainian diaspora in the United States and Canada is demonstrating, fundraising and organising social media campaigns, as well as calling on their elected leaders to act after Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Read more here.


Bulgaria closes its airspace to Russian carriers

Bulgaria will ban flights into the country operated by Russian airlines and will close its airspace to all Russian aircraft from Saturday, the country’s transport ministry has said.

The ministry said the move was a result of the escalation of the military conflict and as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine.

US to provide additional security aid to Ukraine, Pentagon says

The United States will provide additional security assistance to Ukraine, the Pentagon has said, adding it was determining the best way to deliver that support.

“I’ll be very clear here: We are going to provide additional security assistance for Ukraine. We will. How that is going to be done is still being worked out,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a news briefing, adding: “The airspace over Ukraine is contested.”


UK bans Russian private jets from its airspace

UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps has said that no Russian private jet can fly in UK airspace or touch down, effective immediately.

“Putin’s actions are unlawful and anyone benefitting from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is not welcome here. I’ve strengthened our ban in the UK so that no Russian private jet can fly in UK airspace, or touchdown – effective immediately,” Shapps tweeted.

Poland and Czech Republic also said they were banning Russian airlines from their respective airspace, while airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, began routing flights around Russian airspace.


Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Friday, February 25, here.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here