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Russia-Ukraine war | Summary for 8 March

Latest news, updates and information on Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. The number of refugees to have fled the war will reach 2m today, the United Nations says.

Ukraine-Russia war: live updates

Ukraine

US Congress reaches agreement for Ukraine aid

US congressional leaders reached a bipartisan agreement early on Wednesday to allocate $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and provide $15.6 billion to fight the covid-19 pandemic.

The sweeping legislation will provide $1.5 trillion for defense and non-defense discretionary spending and fund the federal government through Sept. 30.

"We can’t stay away from the TV and watching what is happening in Ukraine ... and this bill responds to Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression (and) vicious invasion of Ukraine," Rosa DeLauro, the House Appropriations Committee chair, said in a statement.

Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline to pass the legislation.

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

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Von der Leyen says EU has enough gas for winter

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the bloc has bought enough liquefied natural gas that it should be independent of Russian imports up until the end of the winter.

Von der Leyen also told Germany's ARD television that sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine were designed to cause maximum impact on Moscow, while causing the least damage possible to Western economies.

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Children caught in Russian attacks

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Explosions reported in and around Kyiv

A series of loud explosions reported around 6 am local time in Kyiv.

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Thousands escape Sumy beseiged by Russian forces

On Tuesday, around 5,000 people, mainly women and children, escaped from Sumy which had been attacked by a Russian air strike the night before resulting in the deaths of 21 people according to authorities.

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Vice President Harris will visit NATO allies on border of Russia-Ukraine war

President Biden reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Article 5 of the NATO charter as the alliance helps Ukraine in its struggle against the invading Russian forces without getting physically involved.

He promised that the US would share in the burden of resettling refugees fleeing the warzone. Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Poland and Romania two of the NATO members on the border with Ukraine.

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Poland's proposal to send Ukraine MIG fighter jets not "tenable"

US Department of Defence press secretary John Kirby said on Tuesday that "the decision about whether to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is ultimately one for the Polish government." However, he added that "but we do not believe Poland's proposal is a tenable one."

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Does Ukraine have a Neo-Nazi problem?

In his declaration of war against Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin argued the need to demilitarise and "de-nazify" Ukraine. Considering the country has a Jewish president, the claim is baseless and is just a propaganda tool to gain support in country whose modern history is rooted in victory over the Nazis in the 'Great Patriotic War.'

Western support has been wholly behind the Ukrainians, and rightly so. Measures have ranged from intense sanctions, foreign fighters joining the Ukraine army, and a large fundraising campaign. People are standing with Ukraine in this pivotal time.

While Putin's words are merely propaganda, Ukraine does have a troubled relationship with nazism past and present, like many places in the world. Many modern Ukrainian heroes made their names collaborating with the Nazis against the Soviet Union, and this ideology still has roots which are embedded in fighting units that are being funded and equipped by the west.

Ukraine should be unequivocally supported, but there needs to be an honest assessment of the dangers Ukrainian Neo-Nazism poses, especially for a nation that will be swamped with weaponry once the war has ended.

Full details

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Russians take up positions for assault on Kyiv

Russian forces continue to concentrate around Kyiv. Troops have taken positions in the eastern, northwestern and western outskirts of the Ukraine capital. The Institue for the Study of War predicts that an assault on Kyiv will come within the next four days, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

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This much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. Putin may be able to take a city — but he will never be able to hold the country.

Joe Biden, POTUS
Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is stopping business in Russia

The Coca-Cola Company announced on Tuesday that it is suspending its business in Russia until further notice. The company has come under pressure to follow other companies and stop doing business in Russia after it invaded Ukraine.

"Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine," the company said.

Photo by Justin Sullivan via AFP

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When was the last time the Russian economy crashed and what were the consequences?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian economy has rarely been stable. Crises hit the country in 1992 and 1998, as well as the global recession of 2008. After, there was another crisis in 2014 in reaction to the Russian occupation of the Crimea.

Read more

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Coca-Cola says it is suspending its operations in Russia

"Our hearts are with the people who are enduring unconscionable effects from these tragic events in Ukraine," a statement from Coca-Cola says.

The drinks company had been facing pressure to pull out of Russia, with #BoycottCocaCola trending on Twitter recently. Pepsi has also pulled out of supplying Russia

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Has Moscow announced a new ceasefire this week?

As Russian attacks on major Ukrainian cities continue, Moscow has announced the introduction of limited ‘humanitarian corridors’ to allow civilians to leave.

Moscow has refused to agree to a ceasefire with Ukraine during the three peace negotiations that have taken place in the 12 days since the invasion began. Even after the safe corridors were announced the Russian military continues to bombard cities and slaughter civilians.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are attempting to flee to safety but have seen their passage disrupted by sustained shelling from Russian forces and there is uncertainty about what awaits them at the end of their journey.

Read more

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McDonalds temporarily closes all 850 Russian stores

McDonald's has announced it will temporarily close all restaurants and stop all operations in Russia, for the time being. The company was encountering criticism for remaining to operate in the country.

The fast-food chain is hugely popular in Russia, with around 850 stores and 62,000 employees.

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President Zelenskyy speaks to UK parliament

I am addressing you as a citizen, as a president of a big country, with a dream... You didn't want to lose your country when Nazis wanted to take your country. And you had to fight for Britain... We will fight to the end at the sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine's President

UK follows US in imposing sanctions on Russian oil

Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK's Business & Energy Secretary, has confirmed that the country will be phasing out the use of Russian oil and gas by the end of 2022. Nations around the world have sought to impose tough sanctions on President Putin for the invasion of Ukraine but in Europe, which is reliant on Russia for around one-third of its fossil fuel needs, there has been a real reluctance to restrict oil and gas.

This move marks the next stage of the global response to Russia, and one that could turn up the pressure of Putin. 

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Renewed calls in the US for a 'limited no-fly zone'

For much of the last week President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on foreign powers to help impose a no-fly zone above Ukraine which would prevent Russia from using aircraft above Ukrainian soil. However world leaders have refused to do so, fearing that any military actions taken against Russian aircraft could escalate the war and bring the prospect of a nuclear war closer to reality. 

But it may be possible to use a no-fly zone over the areas designated as 'humanitarian corridors' by Russia. After another round of peace talks on Monday it was announced that specific routes would be kept clear for civilians, but numerous reports suggest that that has not been the case. 

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Ukrainian kickboxing champion killed in Russian invasion

Reports from Ukraine have confirmed that Ukrainian kickboxer Yevhen Zvonok has been killed in a Russian air strikes on Chernihiv, a city among the most heavily bombarded in the country. The 22-year-old was already a Ukrainian champion and world silver-medallist but decided to join the Ukrainian armed forces to help defend against the Russian invasion. 

Read more

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Ukrainian officials welcome the ban on Russian oil

"It's the right thing to do. Giving money to Russian government funds the war. Oil on one side costs blood on the other."

Maryan Zablotskyy, Ukranian parliamentary member

"It's extremely important to cut off them from these bloody money receipts... And we do believe that by doing this we will be able really to hit Russians very hard."

Oleg Ustenko, Advisor to President Zelenskyy
Biden to announce ban on Russian oil imports: will it affect the price of gasoline in the US?

President  Biden is set to announce a ban on Russian oil imports as he looks to ramp up the economic sanctions against the Kremlin. In recent days Russian forces have continued to launch indiscrimminate attacks on Ukrainian cities as they bombard major cities. 

In response Biden will hope that the ban on Russian oil will make the war unsustainable for President Putin but it will come at a considerable cost to consumers in the US. The cost of gasoline reached a new record on Monday and news that oil imports will become scarcer will likely cause the price to increase further in the coming days. 

Read more

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Biden will ban the importation of Russian oil, Bloomberg reports

The US has inposed some of the toughest sanctions of any nation against Russia, but President Biden had been reluctant to ban the importation of Russian oil for fear that it would send gasoline prices even higher than they currently are. However the White House stance appears to have shifted and multiple sources are now reporting that the Biden will announce a new ban on Russia-produced oil at 10:45am (ET) today. 

This is possibly the most serious sanction imposed on the Kremlin to date, but it will come at a cost for the US. Crude oil is a key component in the production of gasoline and this ban on the importation of Russian oil will therefore make gasoline more expensive to produce. 

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World Bank issues huge relief package for Ukraine

Global powers continue to offer financial aid for Ukraine in the face of sustained attacks by the Russian military. While western powers have declined to send troops to fight in Ukraine, they are offering a considerable financial boost for the ailing nation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked the World Bank, an international financial institution providing support for low- and middle-income nations, for making over $700m of "emergency financing" available to Ukraine. 

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Russians accused of shelling humanitarian corridor from Mariupol

Ukraine’s foreign ministry has accused Russia of continuing to shell an evacuation route opened up out of the port city of Mariupol.

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At least 21 civilians killed in Sumy air strike on Monday, officials say

At least 21 civilians, including two children, were killed in a Russian air strike on a residential street in Ukraine's northeastern city of Sumy late on Monday, the regional prosecutor's office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The bodies were recovered by emergency services early on Tuesday in searches that are ongoing, it said.

(Reuters)

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Poland has taken in over 1.2m refugees

According to the United Nations, the breakdown of where Ukrainian refugees have gone so far is:

Poland: 1,204,403
Other European countries: 210,239
Hungary: 191,348
Slovakia: 140,745
Russia: 99,300
Moldova: 82,762
Romania: 82,062
Belarus: 453

(Figures correct as of 12 noon CET/6am ET on Tuesday)

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What is Elon Musk’s Starlink broadband internet system used in Ukraine?

The founder of SpaceX has offered the company's new technology, designed to provide internet connection to underserved areas, to Ukrainian authorities.

AS USA's Will Gittins has more

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2m have fled Ukraine - UN

Two million refugees have now fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion of the country on 24 February, the United Nations says.

According to a UN tally at 1:20pm ET, 2,011,312 refugees had left Ukraine.

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"Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since the Second World War" - NATO chief Stoltenberg

Speaking from Latvia on Tuesday, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to “Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since the Second World War”.

Stoltenberg added that Russian forces may be guilty of “totally unacceptable” war crimes in Ukraine, amid “credible reports” of civilians being fired upon as they seek to evacuate.

“The Ukrainian people and armed forces have inspired the world with their courage, but President Putin’s assault continues and the humanitarian impact is devastating,” Stoltenberg said. “Many civilians have been killed or wounded and two million people have fled Ukraine.

This is Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since the Second World War. There are very credible reports of civilians coming under fire as they try to evacuate. Targeting civilians is a war crime and it’s totally unacceptable. We need real humanitarian corridors that are fully respected.

“We made clear for months that President Putin would pay a high price for renewed aggression against Ukraine and this price is exactly what he is paying now. Russia has been hit with severe and unprecedented sanctions and their total isolation on the world stage. Allies are helping Ukraine to uphold its fundamental right to self-defence, stepping up with billions of euros’ worth of support and opening their borders and providing aid for refugees.

The suffering we now see in Ukraine is horrific. It affects us all. And we have a responsibility to ensure the conflict does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine. That would be even more dangerous, destructive, and even more deadly. The situation could spiral out of control.”

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Russia's Lavrov sets out stance on Ukraine to Vatican counterpart in call

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov set out Moscow's position on the conflict in Ukraine to Vatican State Secretary Pietro Parolin in a call on Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

In connection with the concern expressed by Parolin about the situation in Ukraine, Lavrov "outlined the principled Russian position regarding the causes and goals of the special military operation being carried out in Ukraine", the ministry said.

Both parties expressed hope that a fourth round of talks between Moscow and Kyiv would be held as soon as possible to "seek agreement on the key problems underlying the crisis in order to resolve it and stop hostilities", the ministry added.

(Reuters)

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How long can Russia fight a war in Ukraine?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has analysts wondering how long it could last, but Putin has been preparing the Russian economy for some time.

Some analysis from AS USA's Oli Povey

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"Ukraine is under huge threat, the world is under huge threat"

Ukrainian former boxer Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of fellow ex-boxer and current Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, has spoken of the “huge threat” on Ukraine and the world posed by Russia’s “senseless” invasion of the country.

Klitschko added: “There’s no sides to choose: we’re on the right side. This is our home, this is our country.”

“On the ground it is clear that the Russian army is trying to attack, and planning the attack, on the capital of Ukraine, the city of Kyiv,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “Obviously our defences are standing together against this Russian aggression and senseless war where children, civilians are getting killed.

“And not to forget: Ukraine is under huge threat, and the world under huge threat. We cannot count days, weeks, not even hours, minutes. The shooting is constant. In the city of Kyiv, when you go to bed, you hear the explosions and launching of the rockets to defend the city as well as landing from bullets to rockets, here on the city of Kyiv. So this pressure is enormous and gigantic. Pressure on us, Ukrainians, but we stand together against this Russian aggression.

“Ukraine is the most peaceful country, which never started any attacks and if we’re talking about any military equipment that Russia doesn’t like us to receive, that is to defend ourselves. So our children, women, men, who will be stopped being killed by the Russian army. There’s no sides to choose: we’re on the right side. This is our home, this is country, and I’m proud to be Ukrainian.”

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Humanitarian corridor opened from Mariupol

Nexta has reported that the Ukrainian deputy prime minister, Iryina Vereschuk, says a humanitarian corridor has been opened out of Mariupol to evacuate civilians from the port city.

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"I’m not hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone"

In a video address on Monday night, Ukraine President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy said he’s “not hiding” and “will stay in Kyiv".

“Monday is a hard day,” Zelenskyy said, speaking from his office in Kyiv. “There is a war in the country. Now every day is Monday. Now I will say one thing: I will stay here. I will stay in Kyiv. On Bankova Street.

I’m not hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone. As much as it takes to win, this patriotic war of ours.”

Zelenksyy is due to give a statement to the UK parliament later on Tuesday. Speaking via video link, he is expected to renew calls for the introduction of a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

See also: What is a no-fly zone and why hasn't NATO initiated one?

(Translation of Zelenskyy's comments via BBC)

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Why is Russia interested in controlling nuclear power plants in Ukraine?

There are several theories as to why Russia is capturing Ukrainian nuclear power plants, a move that is causing grave concern around the world.

AS USA's Greg Heilman has more

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Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy to make "historic" address to UK parliament

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskyy is to address the House of Commons, the lower chamber of the UK parliament, via video link on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy is to read a statement at 5pm GMT (12 noon ET).

"Every parliamentarian wants to hear directly from the president, who will be speaking to us live from Ukraine, so this is an important opportunity for the House,” Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House, said in a statement.

"Thanks again to our incredible staff for working at pace to make this historic address possible."

(Photo: AFP)

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EU to sanction more Russian oligarchs, Belarus banks over Ukraine invasion - sources

The European Commission has prepared a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine that will hit additional Russian oligarchs and politicians and three Belarusian banks, three sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The sanctions, to be discussed by EU ambassadors on Tuesday at a meeting starting at 2pm GMT (9am ET), will ban three Belarusian banks from the SWIFT banking system and add several oligarchs and Russian lawmakers to the EU blacklist, which already includes many, the sources told Reuters.

The new sanctions package also bans exports from the EU of maritime technology to Russia, and provides guidance on the monitoring of cryptocurrencies to avoid their use to circumvent EU sanctions, the sources said.

(Reuters)

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Why is the 64-kilometre Russian convoy not moving towards Kyiv?

A convoy of Russian forces approaching Kyiv from the northwest has stalled en route to the Ukrainian capital.

AS USA's Greg Heilman takes a look at the problems it's facing

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Number of refugees to reach 2m today - UN

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, says the number of refugees to have fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine is set to reach the two-million mark on Tuesday. Speaking to the French media outlet France Inter, Grandi described this as a "frightening figure".

Grandi added that a second wave of more vulnerable refugees can be expected to start leaving Ukraine if the war continues: "We will start seeing people that have no resources and no connections."

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Russia "has built itself a trap" - UK defence secretary

The UK’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, says Russian troops are dying in “large scales” and “getting more desperate” due to “appalling leaders, appalling leadership and appalling plans.”

Russia has "built itself a trap" with its invasion of Ukraine, Wallace added.

“It’s not going particularly well for the Russians,” Wallace told Sky News on Tuesday. “It’s day 13, way off their timetable. There are a lot of casualties - we’ve seen the indiscriminate shelling, which has obviously killed numerous civilians.

“We’ve also recognised that probably the biggest single casualty so far in the war are Russian military soldiers, who are being let down by appalling leaders, appalling leadership and appalling plans. And now you see them literally at large scales, dying.

And that’s something that will be interesting in the Kremlin. Whether they will admit to each other the failure of their aggressive and illegal invasion of Ukraine. We’ve seen the column is still stuck north of Kyiv. There are reports of overnight of Ukrainian special forces destroying over 20 Russian helicopters on the ground.

“And I think we can see that the Russians are having real logistic problems. So that affects morale, they’re not getting through, they’re getting more desperate and you can see they’re getting more desperate because they’re shelling more and more innocent people just trying to even get out of humanitarian corridors, as we saw yesterday.

“I think this goes right to the heart of the challenge for Russia, which is Russia has built itself a trap and it’s sent itself in, the international community is uniting against them and now we see the devastation that they’re leaving behind.”

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What are Russia's demands for an end to the war in Ukraine?

Vladimir Putin is demanding Ukraine cede the annexed territory of Crimea and recognize the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk in ceasefire talks.

Read more

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Evacuations out of Sumy and Irpin underway, officials say

Ukraine began evacuating civilians from the northeastern city of Sumy and from the town of Irpin near the capital Kyiv on Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said.

The evacuations began after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to establish 'humanitarian corridors' to allow civilians out of some towns and cities besieged by Russian forces.

"As of 09:30 (0730 GMT), more than 150 people have been evacuated and (evacuation) activities are underway," said Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region.

Russia opened humanitarian corridors on Tuesday so that people can be evacuated from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Interfax news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying.

The defence ministry added that Russian forces in Ukraine had introduced a "silent regime" from 0700 GMT, Interfax reported.

Ukraine on Monday rejected Russian proposals to evacuate Ukrainians to Russia or Belarus.

(Reuters)

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Russian invasion of Ukraine: live updates

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is now in day 13. According to officials, humanitarian corridors have today been opened out of the cities of Sumy and Irpin, to allow civilians to evacuate. Throughout the day, we'll bring you the latest news on that, and the other major developments in the crisis.

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