Ukraine news -escalate immediately, Nato warns Russia as it responds to Putin’s security demands

Ukraine news -escalate immediately, Nato warns Russia as it responds to Putin’s security demands

NewsWorldEuropeRussian forces take out key oil and gas facilities on fourth day of invasion

‘We will give you arms’: Zelensky asks people to defend Ukraine during speech

Heavy fighting is underway in Ukraine’s second city as Russian troops entered Kharkiv in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Major attacks overnight included a gas pipeline outside Kharkiv that was set ablaze by Russian troops, and an oil depot in Vasylkiv near Kyiv that was destroyed by a Russian missile strike.

Toxic fumes from the explosion prompted the Kyiv authorities to ask citizens to stay indoors and keep windows shut.

Kyiv otherwise appeared relatively calm, and remains under the control of Ukrainian forces, deputy mayor Mykola Povoroznyk said, although fighting is reportedly taking place just west of the capital.

In a move labelled “propaganda” by Kyiv, the Kremlin claimed Russian delegates had arrived in Belarus for peace talks with Ukrainian officials. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said he was ready for discussions, but rejected the offer to hold them in Belarus, calling it an invasion staging ground.

Meanwhile in another economic blow to Russia, the Swift international payments system said it was preparing to implement western nations’ new measures targeting Russian banks in coming days.

1645960805Here are some more images from Ukraine this morning, where Russian forces are fighting in the country’s second city, Kharkiv, and to the west of the capital.

A Ukrainian serviceman observes rising smoke from a burned petroleum storage depot near Kyiv

(EPA/ALISA YAKUBOVYCH)

A woman walks past bags in front of the Mayor’s office building during a curfew in Kyiv

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Residents wait in a shelter in Kyiv on Sunday

(Daphne Rousseau/AFP via Getty Images)

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 11:20

1645960031Ukraine has submitted application to the Hague over Russia’s invasion, Zelensky saysUkraine has submitted an application against Russia to the Hague, president Volodymyr Zelenksy has claimed, following his allegation this morning that Moscow’s invasion amounted to genocide.

“Ukraine has submitted its application against Russia to the [International Court of Justice],” Mr Zelensky tweeted.

“Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression. We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week.”

Earlier today, Mr Zelensky said: “Russia has taken the path of evil and the world should come to depriving it of its UN Security Council seat.”

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 11:07

1645959514Snake Island soldiers who told Russian warship ‘go f**k yourself’ might still be aliveA group of Ukrainian soldiers thought to have died while defending a small island in the Black Sea after telling a Russian warship “go f**k yourself” might still be alive, officials have said.

The 13 border guards had been defending the remote Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, a largely uninhabited but strategically important strip of land in the Black Sea, about 186 miles (300km) west of Crimea when a Russian vessel approached on Thursday.

While an earlier statement from Ukraine suggested they had been killed – a claim Russia denied – the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGSU) said on Saturday: “We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive.

“Preliminary information that border guards may be dead came before the defenders lost contact. We sincerely hope that the boys will return home as soon as possible. Glory to Ukrainian defenders!”

My colleague Matt Mathers has the full story:

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:58

1645959166Russia has lost more than 4,000 troops, Ukrainian politician claimsRussian forces have lost about 4,300 servicemen in their invasion, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister has claimed – but said that the number was being clarified.

Russian troops had lost some 146 tanks, 27 aircraft and 26 helicopters, Hanna Malyar claimed.

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:52

1645958554Russian ‘peace delegation’ in Belarus ‘means only one thing’, Kyiv saysA Ukrainian presidential aide has suggested that Moscow’s claim this morning that Russian delegates were in Belarus awaiting peace talks with Ukrainian officials can “mean only one thing”.

The Kremlin was reported by Russian media as saying this morning that its delegates had arrived in Gomel, while warning that its military operation would not be suspended during any potential talks.

But Kyiv rejected the move as “propaganda”, saying Moscow knew such a move would be “pointless”.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was open for talks in a neutral location – but not Belarus, as Minsk was complicit in the Russian invasion.

“The fact that a Russian delegation arrived in Gomel with a proposal to conduct peace talks from a military point of view means only one thing: they have lost the initiative and are now unable to continue active hostilities,” said presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych.

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:42

1645958167Ukraine will hold out ‘as long as needed’, Kyiv’s ambassador to the UK saysUkraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, has said he believes his country will hold out out for “as long as needed” against Russia, arguing that Kyiv has friends and support from abroad, while Moscow has “miscalculated”.

“They came with 150,000 troops. It’s totally not enough,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme with Sophie Raworth.

Suggesting Russia had believed Ukraine would be an “easy target”, which had proven not to be the case, he added: “The whole nation is against them.”

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:36

1645957864Visas for Ukrainian families of ‘terrified’ UK residents is ‘least UK can do’, Labour MP saysIn a column for Independent Voices, Labour MP Jess Phillips argues today that “the very least the UK can do is to work with allies to provide humanitarian assistance and support to those fleeing Ukraine”.

“My constituents should be able to immediately apply for visas for their families to join them here,” Ms Phillips writes.

“The Labour Party has called for the Home Office to place staff in neighbouring countries to create reception centres, in order to end the bureaucracy and delay.

“My British Afghan constituents could teach them a thing or two about how dreadful this has been for them. I don’t want my Ukrainian constituents to have the same experience.”

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:31

1645957556Liz Truss ‘absolutely’ supports individual Brits going to fight in UkraineForeign secretary Liz Truss has said she would “absolutely” support individual Brits going to fight Russian forces in Ukraine, saying people can “make their own decisions”, our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn reports.

It comes after the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, called on the country’s international “friends” to help them defend the country against the Kremlin’s advances.

As the invasion entered its fourth day, foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba added: “Foreigners willing to defend Ukraine and world order as part of the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, I invite you to contact foreign diplomatic missions of Ukraine in your respective countries.”

While the UK government has ruled out sending British troops to the region, she added ministers were doing “all we can” to supply defensive weapons to the Eastern European country.

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:25

1645956949At least 200,000 Ukrainians have left country, UN saysUkraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko has said neighbouring nations to Ukraine have “opened up their hearts and homes” to receive as many Ukrainians as possible.

“That’s easier for immediate evacuation,” he told BBC’s Sunday Morning programme with Sophie Raworth, adding that nations further afield will be asked to financially help smaller nations in their efforts.

His comments came as the United Nations refugee agency said the latest count of Ukrainians arriving in neighbouring countries now exceeded 200,000 – up from an estimate of at least 150,000 on Saturday.

A UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman said last night that there was a 14km backlog at the Polish border, with waiting times of 40 hours to cross, as temperatures hit -2C.

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:15

1645956453Turkey labels Russian invasion a ‘war’, in edge closer to restriction of Black Sea accessIn a rhetorical shift, Turkey has called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “war”, potentially edging the Nato member closer to enacting an international pact limiting Russian naval passage to the Black Sea.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey has control over the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits which connect the Mediterranean and Black seas – and can limit the passage of warships during wartime, or if threatened, as Kyiv has urged it to do this week.

Balancing its Western commitments and close ties to Moscow, Ankara has said the Russian attack is unacceptable but until Sunday had not described the situation as a war.

“On the fourth day of the Ukraine war, we repeat President Erdogan’s call for an immediate halt of Russian attacks and the start of ceasefire negotiations,” presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.

Kyiv has appealed to Ankara to block any more Russian warships from passing toward the Black Sea, from which Moscow has launched one of its incursions on Ukraine’s southern coast.

But Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday that Russia had the right under Montreux to return ships to their home base – which could limit any policy shift from Turkey, which has good ties with both Russia and Ukraine.

Andy Gregory27 February 2022 10:07

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