Germany to supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, missiles

TEHRAN, Feb. 26 (MNA) – Russia pressed on with its operation in Ukraine on Friday, attacking the country from multiple sides and advancing towards Kyiv, where multiple explosions were reported in the early hours.

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 West imposed fresh sanctions on Russia, aimed at cutting off its largest banks and preventing the country from importing critical technology.

Earlier on Friday, Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested to Russian President Vladimir Putin that they sit down at the negotiation table. The Kremlin said Putin is ready to send a delegation to Minsk for talks with a Ukrainian delegation. Kyiv later suggested holding talks in Warsaw, and then stopped responding, according to the Kremlin.

“They hide behind people in the hope of later blaming Russia for the civilian casualties,” Mr. Putin told a security council meeting.

After dark on Friday, Mr. Zelensky released a video of himself standing in front of the presidential headquarters in central Kyiv with his chief of staff, the country’s prime minister, and the parliament majority leader. “We are all here, defending our independence and our state. And that’s how it will be,” he said, as Russian media spread rumors of him having fled the city.

Here are all the latest updates: 

Germany to supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, missiles

Germany’s government has approved the delivery of a batch of weapons to Ukraine.

Berlin will supply Kyiv with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles from its military’s stocks.

Germany working to bar Russia from SWIFT

Germany is working to bar Russia from SWIFT interbank system, reports AFP news agency.

Germany is in favour of imposing “targeted and functional” restrictions on Russia’s access to SWIFT, its foreign and economy ministers have said.

Russia to determine steps following suspension from Council of Europe: Zakharova 

Moscow will soon determine its steps following Russia’s suspension from the Council of Europe, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Saturday.

"We will soon determine our future steps. Those who initiated and supported this faulty decision will bear full responsibility for the collapse of the common legal and humanitarian space on the continent and the disastrous consequences that the Council of Europe will inevitably face. Without Russia, the Council of Europe will lose its pan-Europe identity and eventually, its reason for existence," she pointed out.

Turkey rejected reports on banning Russian warships passage to the Black Sea

Turkey has not made a decision to close the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits to Russian ships, a Turkish official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Saturday.

Turkey says it is fully committed to the agreements. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan didn't tell Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Turkey would close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian warships, a senior Turkish official told Middle East Eye on Saturday.

"President Erdogan didn't promise to close the straits," the official, who is directly familiar with the call, said. "Turkey hasn't made a decision to close the straits to Russian ships yet."

The statement contradicted an earlier tweet by Zelensky, which was posted following his telephone conversation with Erdogan.

Turkey bans passage of Russian warships to Black Sea

Ukrainian president in a tweet on Saturday thanked his Turkish counterpart for banning the passage of Russian warships to the Black Sea and significant military and humanitarian support for Ukraine, however, the Turkish bureau chief for Middle East Eye says no decision has been made official. 

This is while the news has not been yet confirmed by Turkish officials. 

Russian Interfax has also reported that Russian officials say they have not received any official note from Turkey on the claim. 

US announces $350 million in military aid to Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday he has authorized $350 million in new US military assistance to Ukraine.

“This package will include further lethal defensive assistance to help Ukraine address the armored, airborne, and other threats it is now facing," he said.

Russia military op resumed as Ukraine rejected talks: Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a temporary halt to the Russian military operation in Ukraine on Friday afternoon in connection with the expectation of negotiations with Kyiv, but the operation was resumed Saturday afternoon after the Ukrainian leadership refused to talk, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said, according to Sputnik.

"Yesterday afternoon, in connection with the expected negotiations with the Ukrainian leadership, the Russian president and supreme commander ordered the suspension of the advance of the main forces," Peskov said, speaking to reporters on Saturday. "Since the Ukrainian side essentially refused to negotiate, the advance of the main Russian forces resumed this afternoon in accordance with the operational plan," he added.

Peskov clarified that the halt in the advance did not lead to a halt in fighting, with hostilities continuing in a number of locations.

 Street fighting intensifies in Kyiv

Fighting has reached the streets of Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv as Russia presses ahead with its operation.

Ukraine’s army has called on the country’s civilians to stop the advance of Russian troops by any means necessary.

“Cut down trees, build barricades, burn tyres … Use everything available,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Polish, Bulgarian and Czech airlines banned from flying to or over Russia

"Due to unfriendly decisions of the aviation authorities of Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic, from 26 February 2022, from 15:00 Moscow time, the air carriers of these states and/or registered in them are subject to restrictions on flights to points on the territory of Russia, including transit flights through Russian airspace," aviation watchdog Rosaviatsiya said.

The restrictions concern any flights to airports in Russia or through Russian airspace. Flights from these countries may be carried out only under authorization from Rosaviatsiya or the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Kyiv mayor orders curfew starting Saturday evening

The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, is imposing a curfew from Saturday evening that will run from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. "for more effective defense of the capital and the security of its inhabitants."

The curfew will continue until the morning of February 28.

Russia no longer needs diplomatic ties with West: Medvedev

Russia doesn’t really need diplomatic ties with the West after it imposed sanctions on Moscow, former president and top security official Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday.

In comments on his verified page on Russian social network VK, Medvedev wrote, "We don't especially need diplomatic relations... It's time to padlock the embassies and continue contacts looking at each other through binoculars and gun sights."

Russian State Duma speaker says Ukraine's Zelensky left Kyiv for Lvov

Russian State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Saturday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had left Kyiv for Lviv.

"Zelensky hastily left Kyiv. He was not in the capital of Ukraine yesterday. Together with his entourage, he fled to the city of Lviv, where he and his assistants were equipped with a place to live," Volodin wrote in his Telegram channel.

Volodin also noted that all the videos that Zelensky publishes on social networks were recorded in advance. According to him, information about Zelensky's departure to Lviv came from deputies of the Rada, Ukraine's legislature.

This is while the Ukrainian president recorded a video address outside his presidential office in Kyiv urging residents not to believe in “fakes” about the surrender of the Ukrainian army.

“I am here. We will not put down any weapons. We will defend our state because our weapons are our truth,” Zelensky said.

Volodin also noted that all the videos that Zelensky publishes on social networks were recorded in advance. According to him, information about Zelensky's departure to Lviv came from deputies of the Rada, Ukraine's legislature.

UN says more than 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled since Thursday

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said that nearly 120,000 people have fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighbouring countries.

France intercepts cargo ship in Channel heading for Russia: Official

French naval forces have intercepted in the Channel a cargo vessel loaded with cars heading for Russia's Baltic port city of Saint Petersburg after sanctions agreed by the EU against Russia, officials said Saturday.

The Russian-flagged Baltic Leader, which had set sail from the French city of Rouen, was escorted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer by French forces, the maritime prefecture told AFP. It is suspected of belonging to a company targeted by EU sanctions against Moscow, it added.

President of Kyrgyzstan expresses support for Russia: Kremlin

President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressed support for the actions of Russia to protect the civilian population of Donbass, the Kremlin press service reported.

"Sadyr Zhaparov, noting Kiev's responsibility for the failure of the Minsk agreements, expressed support for decisive actions by the Russian side to protect the civilian population of Donbass," the message says.

'This War Will Last,' warns Macron On Ukraine

The world must brace for a long war between Russia and Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Saturday.

"I can tell you one thing this morning it is that this war will last," Macron's told France's annual agriculture fair.

"This crisis will last, this war will last and all the crises that come with it will have lasting consequences," Macron added, warning: "We must be prepared".

Ukrainian calls for Russian oil embargo

“I demand the world: fully isolate Russia, expel ambassadors, oil embargo, ruin its economy,” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter

Damage to building near Kyiv airport

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital says a missile hit a building but no casualties were immediately reported.

Vitali Klitschko said the missile slammed into a high-rise building on the southwestern outskirts of Kyiv near Zhuliany airport. He said rescue workers were heading there.

Fighting on streets erupts in Ukrainian capital

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry issued a warning to the people of Kyiv, saying active fighting was taking place on the streets of the capital city, although there was no sign of conflict yet in the city center, CNN reported.

Residents were told to stay indoors and away from the windows, advice they followed diligently. 

Many had spent the night in subway stations and underground garages, seeking safe havens from any potential explosions. 

Russia targets Ukraine's military infrastructure with cruise missiles

The Russian army has targeted Ukraine’s military infrastructure with air and sea-based cruise missiles, the defence ministry said, according to Al Jazeera. 

“During the night, the armed forces of the Russian Federation launched a strike with long-range precision weapons using air and sea-launched cruise missiles against the military infrastructure of Ukraine,” defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks.

The ministry also said its troops have captured the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, in the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region.

Russia in control of Melitopol city, Kyiv hydroelectric power plant

Russian troops have captured the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Interfax reports citing the Russian defense ministry.

It comes after reports of Russian troops taking over the Kyiv hydroelectric power plant to the north of the Ukrainian capital, according to an Interfax news agency report on Saturday, citing Ukraine’s energy ministry.

Ukrainian army to defend country: Zelensky

Ukraine’s President Zelensky Saturday morning posted another video from central Kyiv. The 40-second video appears to address false rumours.

The leader, according to a partial translation by the Kyiv Independent, says, “There’s a lot of false information on the internet that I call on our army to lay down their arms and that there’s evacuation,” he said. “We are here. We are not going to lay down our arms. We will defend our country.”

Ukraine reports fresh air, cruise missile strikes

Ukraine’s military command said areas near the cities of Sumy, Poltava and Mariupol were hit by airstrikes on Friday, with Russian Kalibr cruise missiles launched at the country from the Black Sea.

Biden signs order to give Ukraine $600m in military assistance

US President Joe Biden has signed a memorandum to provide up to $600m in “immediate military assistance” to Ukraine. The order directs Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide “immediate military assistance to Ukraine” of up to $250m “in assistance without regard to any provision of law.”

A further $350m was allocated “in defence articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training,” the order said.

Russian, Ukrainian forces reportedly clash near Kyiv

Russian, Ukrainian forces reportedly clash near Kyiv

Russian and Ukrainian forces have clashed on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv as authorities urged citizens to help defend the city from advancing Russian forces.

Frequent artillery blasts reported in Kyiv

Frequent artillery blasts could be heard in Kyiv, coming from an unspecified location some distance from the city centre, the Reuters news agency reported, citing a witness.

2 commercial ships hit by Russian missiles near Odesa port: Ukraine says

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

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 defence department, Biden administration and congressional aides have said.

Israel refrains from backing UNSC resolution against Russia despite US request

Despite a request from the Biden administration to back a UN Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel refrained from doing so.

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.

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.

Russian, Ukrainian forces reportedly clash near Kyiv

Zelensky accepts Putin’s proposal, ready for peace talks

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal and is ready to negotiate peace and a ceasefire, Zelensky’s press secretary Sergey Nikiforov said on Saturday.

"I have to refute allegations that we have refused to have talks. Ukraine has always been and is ready to negotiate peace and a ceasefire. It is our permanent position. We have accepted the Russian president’s proposal," he wrote on his Facebook account.

According to Nikoforov, consultations are underway about the place and time of the negotiations. The sooner talks begin, the more chances there will be to restore normal life, he noted.

Russian, Ukrainian forces reportedly clash near Kyiv

EU imposes financial, technological sanctions on Russia’s 64 key agencies, companies

The European Union imposed tough financial and technological sanctions on Russia’s 64 key agencies and companies, including the Presidential Administration, the Defense Ministry, Foreign Intelligence Service, other government agencies and defense, energy, aircraft and financial sector companies, according to a regulation published in the EU Official Journal on Friday.

Canada to impose sanctions on Putin

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

“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. 

Russian, Ukrainian forces reportedly clash near Kyiv

Biden directs deployment of additional US forces to Europe

President Joe Biden said on Friday he directed the deployment of additional US forces to augment capabilities in Europe in support of NATO.

"Our commitment to Article 5 is ironclad. I have ordered the deployment of additional forces to augment our capabilities in Europe to support our NATO Allies." Biden said.

"I strongly welcome the decision to activate NATO’s defensive plans and elements of the NATO Response Force to strengthen our collective posture, as well as the commitments by our Allies to deploy additional land and air forces to the eastern flank and maritime forces from the High North to the Mediterranean."

UK bans Russian private jets from its airspace

Russian private jets will now be barred from UK airspace in an extension of a ban that previously included Russia’s major airline, Aeroflot. 

“Putin’s actions are unlawful and anyone benefiting from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is not welcome here,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Friday evening. 

He added that he has “strengthened” the previous flight ban on UK airspace to now include any “Russian private jet.” The ban is effective immediately, meaning private flights cannot enter UK airspace or touch down there. 

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

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