EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

TEHRAN, Feb. 25 (MNA) – Russia has launched a military operation on Ukraine that opened with air and missile attacks on Ukrainian military facilities before troops and tanks rolled across the borders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on Thursday morning that in response to a request by the heads of the Donbass republics he had made a decision to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans of occupying Ukrainian territories.

The Russian Defense Ministry reassured that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, but are limited to surgically striking and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure. There are no threats whatsoever to the civilian population.

Russia has launched a military operation on Ukraine that opened with air and missile attacks on Ukrainian military facilities before troops and tanks rolled across the borders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address early on Friday that 137 people, both servicemen and civilians, have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

Here are all the latest updates:

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

The European Union has agreed to place Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on its list of sanctioned individuals, according to the bloc’s foreign policy chief.

“Let me flag that the only leaders in the world that are sanctioned by the European Union are Assad from Syria, Lukashenko from Belarus and now Putin from Russia,” Josep Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

Zelensky says he is ‘defending Ukraine’

Zelensky has appeared in a video being shared on social media which shows the Ukrainian president donning a military uniform.

“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine,” he says in the clip.

UN says more than 50,000 Ukrainians flee country in 48 hours

More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the Russian invasion, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees has said.

Filippo Grandi said the majority of those who had left had headed to neighbouring Poland and Moldova.

Russia seizes a lot of weapons supplied by West to Ukraine

The Russian military said on Friday it had seized a large cache of Western-supplied weapons inside of Ukraine.

The cache included American-made FGM-148 Javelin and British-made MBT NLAW anti-tank missiles, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The MoD said on Friday it had destroyed 211 military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine. The cities of Konotop and Sumy, in northeastern Ukraine, had also been blockaded by the Russian Army.

Biden joins emergency NATO session on Ukraine development

President Joe Biden joined an emergency NATO summit Friday to strengthen the frantic Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fears for the security of Europe.

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

Russia suspended from Council of Europe

Russia has been suspended from the Council of Europe, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.

The Council of Europe was formed after World War II to protect human rights and the rule of law across the continent. It is separate from the European Union.

“The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, of which Italy holds the presidency, has taken the decision to exclude the Russian Federation from its membership,” Di Maio said in a statement.

Ukrainian official says 2,800 Russian troops killed

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has claimed that approximately 2,800 Russian troops have been killed in fighting so far.

Ukrainian forces had also destroyed about 80 Russian tanks, 516 armoured combat vehicles, 10 aircraft and seven helicopters as of 3 pm local time (13:00 GMT), Hanna Malyar said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reported that there was no immediate response to the claims from Moscow, and it was unable to independently verify the figures provided.

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

Putin suggests Ukrainian military seize power 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Ukraine’s military to seize power from Zelenskyy’s government.

“I once again appeal to the military personnel of the armed forces of Ukraine: do not allow neo-Nazis and Ukrainian radical nationalists to use your children, wives and elders as human shields,” Putin said at a televised meeting with Russia’s security council.

“Take power into your own hands, it will be easier for us to reach agreement,” he added.

EU set to freeze assets of Russian President Putin, FM Lavrov

The EU is set to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Financial Times reported.

Russia ready for talks with Ukraine: Kremlin spokesman 

Russia is ready to send a delegation to the Belarusian capital Minsk for talks with Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says.

Peskov told Russian news agencies that the contingent of officials could include representatives from the country’s foreign and defence ministries.

His remarks came after an adviser of Zelenskyy suggested Kyiv was ready for talks with Moscow, including on adopting a neutral status regarding NATO.

Peskov said demilitarisation would need to be an essential part of that.

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

EU threatens Russia with further sanctions

The European Union’s executive arm has warned Moscow that the bloc could impose more sanctions on Russia yet, a day after its leaders agreed on a robust package of measures.

“When it comes to the sequencing of packages we have always said we have a massive package prepared and we will be applying this package in a progressive way, responding to concrete actions by Russia, and we are not at the end,” European Commission spokesman Peter Stano told a daily news conference.

Russia successfully conducts landing operation at Gostomel Airfield outside Kyiv: MoD

The Russian armed forces have successfully conducted a landing operation at the Gostomel airfield located on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital – Kyiv – the Russian Defence Ministry has stated. The ministry noted that the success of the operation was assured by the Russian military's work on suppressing the area's air defences and isolation of the combat zone via the use of aviation, Sputnik reported.

Xi says China supports dialogue

Chinese state television CCTV reports that the country’s president, Xi Jinping, has told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that Beijing supports Moscow in efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis via dialogue.

The leaders held talks on the situation by phone, CCTV reported.

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

Syria’s President offers Putin his backing

Bashar Al-Assad has called Putin to express his support for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, according to a statement issued by the Syrian president’s office.

“During the call, they talked about the situation in Ukraine and the special military operation by the Russian Federation to protect the civilian population in the Donbas region,” the statement said.

“His Excellency [Assad] stressed that Syria stands with the Russian Federation, based on its conviction of the correctness of its position,” it added.

UK’s Boris Johnson pledges further support for Ukraine in coming days

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday pledged that the United Kingdom will provide further support to Kyiv "in the coming days," Downing Street said in a statement.

"The Prime Minister committed to providing further UK support to Ukraine in the coming days", Johnson’s office said in the readout of the telephone conversation with Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday morning.

According to the statement, Zelenskyy updated Johnson on the most recent developments in Ukraine and the "terrible developments in Kyiv in the early hours of this morning."

Zelensky invites Putin to negotiating table

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has invited Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to sit down for talks, Sputnik reported. 

"I want to appeal to the president of the Russian Federation once again […] let's sit down at the negotiating table to stop the death of people", Zelensky said in a video message published on his Telegram channel.

"This morning has gone down in history, but this history is absolutely different for our country and Russia. And we have broken off diplomatic ties with Russia", he told a news briefing.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has meanwhile stressed that Moscow is ready for negotiations on Ukraine at any moment, as soon as the Ukrainian military lay down their arms.

Moscow says Ukraine must lay down arms before talks can take

Moscow says Ukraine must lay down arms before talks can take place

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow will only be ready to hold talks with Kyiv once Ukraine’s military has laid down its arms.

"We are ready for negotiations. At any moment, as soon as the armed forces of Ukraine respond to the call of our president [Vladimir Putin], stop resisting and lay down their arms. No one is going to attack them, no one is going to oppress them, let them return to their families”, Lavrov told reporters on Friday.

Kyiv ready to negotiate neutral status with Putin, says advisor to President

Ukraine is ready to negotiate a neutral status with Russia, but it must also receive security guarantees, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the President of Ukraine has said in a statement.

“This war must be stopped. These hostilities must be stopped,” he has said.

Russia preparing retaliatory sanctions against Western states

Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko said on Friday that Moscow has prepared retaliatory sanctions against Western countries.

"As for retaliatory sanctions, they are also prepared. They will not mirror the [West's] sanctions against Russia, but we are well aware of the weak points of the West, and we have also prepared a whole package of sanctions, which will be applied against those states who have sanctioned Russia", she told reporters.

Russian troops enter outskirts of Kyiv

The Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, was under bombardment on Friday morning, with missile strikes and a rocket crashing into a building as the second day of Russia’s military operation pressed closer to the heart of the government.

Russia bans UK-linked planes from its airspace 

Moscow on Friday banned all UK-linked planes, including transiting flights, from its airspace after its flagship carrier Aeroflot was prevented from flying over Britain following the Russian attack on Ukraine.

"A restriction was introduced on the use of Russian airspace for flights of aircrafts owned, leased or operated by an organisation linked to or registered in the UK," the Rosaviatsia aviation authority said in a statement.

The ban took effect from 11:00 am Moscow time (0800 GMT), it said, and included flights transiting through Russian airspace.

Champions League final to be played in Paris, not Russia

European soccer’s governing body on Friday voted to move this season’s Champions League final, the showcase game on the continent’s sporting calender, to Paris.

The game, on May 28, had been scheduled to be played in St. Petersburg, in a stadium built for the 2018 World Cup and financed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a major UEFA sponsor. Instead, it will take place at the Stade de France, in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. It will be the first time France has hosted the final since 2006.

EU places Putin, Lavrov on sanctions list

Ukrainian president appeals for ‘anti-war coalition’

Zelenskyy says he has spoken with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda to seek defence assistance from Eastern European members of NATO and help in bringing Russia to the negotiating table.

“We need [an] anti-war coalition,” the Ukrainian president tweeted.

Russian paratroopers take control of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, MoD says

"Yesterday, on 24 February, units of the Russian Airborne Forces took full control of the territory in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant", spokesman for the Russian military Major General Igor Konashenkov said. "An agreement was reached with the servicemen of a separate battalion protecting the nuclear power plant of Ukraine on joint security of the power units and the sarcophagus of the Chernobyl NPP".

Moscow says Ukraine must lay down arms before talks can take

Turkey reveals prospects for passage of Russian warships through Bosphorus, Dardanelles

Ankara may close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits to warships, but Russia will still have the right to use them for the return of its fleet to its base, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.

"Ukraine has sent us an official request [to close the straits to Russian warships]. The provisions of the Montreux Convention are very clear and precise. To this day, Turkey has been unhesitatingly complying with the Montreux Convention. It is possible to take measures towards the parties to a war that Turkey is not involved in. Turkey can restrict the passage of warships through the straits. However, the Montreux Convention also says that the ships of countries involved in a war have the right to return to their bases and should be allowed to do so," the Hurriyet newspaper quoted Cavusoglu as saying.

According to the top diplomat, Turkish experts are studying the issue and in case "a war-time situation is officially declared, the process will begin." "Clearly, it all requires Turkey to describe Russia’s attack as a war," Cavusolgu explained.

Ukrainian Ambassador to Turkey Vasily Bodnar called on Ankara on Thursday to restrict the passage of Russian warships through the Turkish-controlled straits.

India’s Modi urges Putin to end Ukraine operation in call

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end military operations in Ukraine in a phone call.

Modi “reiterated his long-standing conviction that the differences between Russia and the NATO group can only be resolved through honest and sincere dialogue,” his office said in a statement.

“[Modi] appealed for an immediate cessation of violence, and called for concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue,” it added.

Russia-Ukraine talks to begin sooner or later: Zelensky

Zelensky says Russia-Ukraine dialogue to cease hostilities will begin sooner or later

"Sooner or later, Russia will have to talk to us, tell us how to end the hostilities and stop this invasion, the sooner the conversation starts, the fewer losses will be", Zelensky said in his address.

Several blasts head in Kyiv early on Friday 

Several blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early on Friday, the UNIAN news agency reported.

According to the report, the blasts were heard in various districts of the Ukrainan capital at 04:22 local time.

France says Putin needs to understand NATO has nuclear weapons

France's foreign minister said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, when making threats about using nuclear weapons, needs to understand that NATO, too, is a nuclear alliance, but he ruled out NATO-led military intervention to defend Ukraine.

Russia-Ukraine talks to begin sooner or later: Zelensky

EU sanctions to prevent Russia from processing and selling oil: EC President

A new package of European sanctions against Russia, approved by leaders of the 27 European member states during an emergency summit on Thursday night, will hamper Russia’s oil refining and sales and cause billions in losses, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels on Friday.

In her words, the EU sanctions against Russia’s energy sector prohibit exports of "instruments <…> that are crucial to refining the oil."

"These instruments are built in Europe, they are unique and cannot be replaced globally by other suppliers," she added.

EU says sanctions target 70 percent of Russian banking market

European Union leaders have agreed to sanctions on Moscow that target 70 percent of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies, including in defence, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.

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