Ukraine says ready for talks, but Russia has been suggesting ‘unacceptable conditions’
A UK defence ministry update claimed that Russian troops have ‘temporarily slowed’, but the capture of Kyiv remains their ‘primary military objective’.
An adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that Kyiv was ready to hold talks with Russia, but Moscow has been putting forward “categorically unacceptable conditions”.
Earlier, on a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Zelenskyy urged for India’s “political support” at the United Nations Security Council. The two leaders spoke a day after India abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution that deplored Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
On Saturday evening, Zelenskyy had claimed that Kyiv and other “key places” nearby were under the control of Ukraine. This was hours after fierce fighting erupted in Kyiv and Zelenskyy urged citizens in a video message to prepare for Russians “storming” the capital.
Ukraine’s health ministry has said that 198 civilians, including three children, have so far been killed in the Russian invasion. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry said that the Russian troops have “temporarily slowed”, but the capture of Kyiv remains their “primary military objective”.
Here are updates from the day:
9.14 pm: In an intelligence update, the United Kingdom’s defence ministry says the Russian troops have “temporarily slowed”, but the capture of Kyiv remains their “primary military objective”.
9.04 pm: Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenkskyy says Kyiv is open to talks with Moscow, but Russia has been putting forward “categorically unacceptable conditions”, reports Al Jazeera.
8.09 pm: Ukraine’s defence ministry claims to have shot down one of Russia’s troop carriers near Kyiv, killing several paratroopers in the process, reports the BBC.
7.19 pm: A map of Ukraine showing areas under Russian control, and places where clashes and explosions have taken place as of Saturday afternoon.
7.03 pm: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Joe Biden administration has authorised $350 million (over Rs 26,000 crore) more in the country’s assistance to Ukraine, reports CNN.
6.59 pm: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that almost 1.16 lakh people have fled from Ukraine to neighbouring countries since February 24.
6.44 pm: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urges for India’s “political support” at the United Nations Security Council.
On Friday, India was among the three countries, apart from China and the United Arab Emirates, which abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution that deplored Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.
6.40 pm: Here is a map showing countries that have closed their airspaces to Russian commercial flights:
6.33 pm: Royal Navy ships, British Army troops and Royal Air Force fighters have been deployed in eastern Europe to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces, reports The Guardian.
6.31 pm: The Kremlin says Vladimir Putin had asked Russian troops to halt on Friday night in anticipation of talks with Ukraine. But, now Russia has resumed “full assault”, says Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Kremlin.
6.25 pm: Ukraine’s army calls upon citizens to stop the Russian troops, reports Al Jazeera.
“Cut down trees, build barricades, burn tyres…Use everything available,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement posted on Facebook.
5.54 pm: Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko imposes a stricter curfew in the city, reports AFP. The restrictions will now remain effective between 5 pm and 8 am, instead of the earlier nine-hour period of 10 pm to 7 am.
5.26 pm: Multiple batches of Indians have been evacuated from Ukraine through Hungary, says the Indian embassy in the country. The citizens entered Hungary through the Zahony crossing along the Ukrainian border, and are now on their way to the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
5.03 pm: The Indian embassy in Slovakia issues advisory for Indians to be evacuated through the country’s Uzhhorod-Vysne Nemecke border with Ukraine.
4.44 pm: United Kingdom’s defence ministry says that the bulk of the Russian forces are currently 30 kilometres away from the centre of Ukrainian Capital of Kyiv.
4.41 pm: The French Navy has intercepted a cargo ship in the English channel bound for the Russian city of St Petersburg, reports the BBC.
4.18 pm: In a video message, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims that “Kyiv and key places near the capital” are under their control.
He adds: “The occupiers wanted to capture our capital and install their puppets like Donetsk. We broke their idea.”
4.14 pm: Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calls on other countries to stop purchasing crude oil from Russia.
“I demand the world: fully isolate Russia, expel ambassadors, oil embargo, ruin its economy,” he says in a tweet.
4.04 pm: Over one lakh Ukrainians have crossed the border to move to Poland, reports AFP
4.03 pm: The mayor of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv claims that the military has repelled a Russian attack, reports the BBC.
3.20 pm: Poland refuses to play against Russia in a play-off match for the 2022 Football World Cup, reports ANI.
3.04 pm: India’s Ambassador to Romania, Rahul Shrivastava, gives a message to citizens being evacuated from Ukraine through Bucharest.
3.01 pm: United Kingdom’s Armed Forces Minister James Heappey says that the country along with 25 other nations have agreed to provide more “humanitarian aid or lethal aid” to Ukraine, reports the BBC.
2.54 pm: The toll of civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on Thursday has risen to 198, The Guardian reports, citing the country’s health ministry.
2.52 pm: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges for membership of the European Union.
“It is a crucial moment to close the long-standing discussion once and for all and decide on Ukraine’s membership in the EU,” he writes on Twitter.
2.29 pm: First flight takes off from Romania carrying Indians living in Ukraine takes off, tweets External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The flight carrying 219 Indians is expected to reach Mumbai around 6.30 pm, according to media reports.
As many as 470 Indians living in Ukraine were evacuated to Romania through land route on Friday. They are now being brought to India in Air India flights.
2 pm: Operations in over 800 Ukrainian military infrastructure sites have been crippled, claims Russia, according to Al Jazeera.
1.40 pm: Russia’s defense ministry claims it had launched a cruise missile overnight but it didn’t target civilians after images emerged of an apartment building near Kyiv’s Zhuliany airport being damaged, reports CNN.
“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 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities,” says Igor Konashenkov, a defence ministry spokesperson.
1.33 am: The leaders of Poland, Lithuania and Germany will meet in Berlin today to discuss sanctions on Russia, reports Al Jazeera. “The European Union must immediately adopt a package of ruthlessly harsh sanctions against Russia,” Piotr Muller says.
1.20 pm: The mayor of Kyiv says 35 people, including two children, have been wounded during the overnight battle, reports The Guardian. Earlier, Russia’s defence ministry had claimed that they were not targeting civilians.
1.08 pm: Emergency workers are helping evacuate residents after a missile struck a residential building in Kyiv city. Images released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine shows several apartment units blown out fully.
1.00 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweets a video of Indian students stuck in Ukraine, and appeals to the Union government to urgently execute evacuation efforts. “Visuals of Indian students in bunkers are disturbing,” he says.
The video shows two women sitting in a dimly-lit bunker in Ukraine. One of them, who identifies herself as a Meghna, says that many Indian citizens are waiting to be evacuated. She says that she cannot see any steps being taken by Indian officials to help them.
“We have been stuck here for more than 24 hours without food, water, or even proper ventilation,” Meghna, who is a resident of Bengaluru, is seen saying.
12.40 pm: A Russian missile has hit a residential building in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba says. He urges the global community to “fully isolate Russia”.
12.30 pm: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that weapons and equipment from France are on their way to his country. He says he spoke to French President Emmanual Macron earlier in the day. “The anti-war coalition is working,” he asserts.
12.25 pm: Russian military personnel have captured the Melitopol city in southeastern Ukraine, The Guardian reports.
Russia’s defence ministry also says that it has carried out overnight strikes on military targets in Ukraine using cruise missiles
11.58 am: In a self-shot video from central Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismisses rumours that he asked the army to surrender to Russian forces, the BBC reports.
“I’m here,” the presidents says while walking on the streets of the Ukrainian capital. “We won’t lay down our arms. We will defend our state.”
11.41 am: Across the globe, people have come out on the streets today to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
11.30 am: So far, 3,500 Russian soldiers have been killed in the invasion, the Ukrainian military claims, reports the BBC. The invasion of Ukraine began early on Thursday, but Russia has not acknowledged any casualties yet.
11.18 am: United States President Joe Biden has authorised the Pentagon to send up to $350 million of security assistance to Ukraine as it battles Russian invasion, reports AP.
11.11 am: Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, is barring Russian state media from running advertisements or monetising on its platform anywhere in the world, announces its Security Policy Head Nathaniel Gleicher.
“We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media,” he adds. “These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend.”
11.05 am: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has refused to leave Kyiv despite the United States offer to help him evacuate, The Washington Post reports.
The development comes a day after Zelenskyy claimed that he has been marked as the number one target in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
11 am: Officials in Kyiv are asking residents to take precautions against being hit by debris or bullets as reports of intense fighting in the Ukrainian capital are emerging, reports AP.
10.45 am: A group of Indians evacuated from Ukraine will reach Mumbai on an Air India flight at 4 pm on Saturday, NDTV reports. They are currently in Romania.
Union minister Piyush Goyal will receive the group at the Mumbai airport.
10.30 am: German legislators urge Chancellor Olaf Scholz to cut off Russia from the worldwide interbank payments system Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, CNN reports.
“If Germany prevents this key sanction, the way will be prepared for Putin to expand his war in Europe,” Green Party Member of European Parliament Jan Philipp Albrecht says.
Cutting Russia off from SWIFT would make it difficult for thousands of financial institutions to send money in and out of Russia.
10.25 am: The United States, European Union and United Kingdom announce sanctions personally targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to AFP.
The United Kingdom has ordered the freezing of Putin and Lavrov’s assets.
10 am: The United States embassy in Ukraine warns Americans in the country to locate their nearest shelter, saying that “conditions may deteriorate without warning”.
9.50 am: In a fresh advisory, India asks its citizens stranded in Ukraine to not move to any border posts to exit the country without coordinating with its officials.
“Embassy is finding it increasingly difficult to help the crossing of those Indian nationals who reach border checkpoint without prior intimation,” says the statement.
9.40 am: Gunfire heard in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, near to the city center, reports CNN.
9.30 am: Fighting has erupted in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, reports the BBC, citing a statement by the government on news agency Interfax. The statement also urges residents to stay in shelters and to not go near windows or balconies.
9.20 am: Ukraine asks Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook to cut supply of its products and block access to App Store in Russia.
Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov in a letter urges Cook to “do everything possible” to protect his country.
“The whole world is repelling the aggressor through the imposition of sanctions – the enemy must suffer significant losses,” he adds. “But we need your support – in 2022 modern technology is perhaps the best answer to the tanks, multiple rocket launchers and missiles.”
9.15 am: In a joint statement, more than 50 countries say that Russia has abused its veto power by blocking a United Nations Security Council resolution of which it was the target, reports CNN.
The resolution, written and presented by the US and its allies, deplored Russian invasion of Ukraine and urged Moscow to withdraw its troops immediately.
9.10 am: An Air India special flight has left from the Mumbai airport for Romanian capital Bucharest to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine, reports PTI.
On Friday, the Indian Embassy in Ukraine had said that evacuation routes for Indian nationals were being set up through Hungary, Romania, Poland and Slovakia.
9 am: Ukraine has been able to put up a strong fight and retained control of key cities despite repeated military assaults from the Russian forces, says the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence.
It is still not clear how much of Ukraine is under their government’s control and how much or little Russian forces have seized in the fighting that began early on Thursday.
Officials in the United States are also saying that Ukrainian forces have put up stiffer fight than what the Russians expected.
8.48 am: Frequent artillery blasts are audible in Kyiv, Reuters reports, citing a witness.
The Ukrainian military says Russian forces have attacked an army base in the capital, but the “assault was repelled”.
Separately, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports that Russian troops also tried to attack an electricity-generating station.
8.45 am: India’s ties with Russia are distinct from the United States’ ties with the latter country, and that is okay, a senior official in Washington says, PTI reports.
“India has a relationship with Russia that we certainly don’t have,” United States State Department spokesperson Ned Price says at a news conference. “India and Russia have a relationship, including in the defence and security sector, that we don’t have...we have asked every country that has a relationship and certainly those countries that have leverage to use that leverage in a constructive way.”
On Friday, India abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution that deplored Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine. The resolution was co-written by the United States and Albania.
8.35 am: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Response Force has been activated as a defensive measure for the first time in its history amid the Ukraine crisis, CNN reports.
General Tod Wolters, the Supreme Commander of NATO, has activated the force, which means that it can be deployed quickly for the defence of the NATO alliance.
However, the move does not mean that NATO troops will go to Ukraine, as the country is not a member of the alliance.
7.47 am: Explosions and fighting underway in the east, west and south of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, according to multiple reports.
7.45 am: Clashes are underway in an eastern suburb of Kyiv, says Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications, reports CNN.
7.40 am: Russia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Eleven of the council’s 15 members voted for the motion, while India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained.
At present, Russia holds the rotating Security Council presidency and the resolution was doomed to fail from the start because of Moscow’s veto power as a permanent member of the council.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador TS Tirumurti, stressed that dialogue is the only answer to settling differences. “We urge that all efforts are made for the immediate cessation of violence and hostilities,” the diplomat added.
7.35 am: Though, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a video, released in the early hours of Saturday, warns citizens that Russian troops would attempt to “storm” capital Kyiv during the night, reports AFP.
“This night will be more difficult than the day,” he adds. “Many cities of our state are under attack.”
In the clip, the presidents tells the nation they cannot lose the capital. “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,” Zelenskiy says.
7.32 am: Ukraine and Russia will decide about a time and place for talks, says Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s spokesperson Sergii Nykyforov, reports Reuters.
7.30 am: A video on Friday night shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in central Kyiv along with his aides, vowing to defend capital from Russian invasion.
“We’re all here,” he says. “Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We’re all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way.”
7.25 am: Despite weeks of warnings from the United States and its allies, the Russian president on Thursday unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east and south. A look at the developments from Friday:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian army to overthrow the government, whose leaders he claimed were “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”. He called on them to “take power in your own hands”.
- Both the countries, however, signalled that they were open to talks to resolve the escalating tensions.
- India evacuated more than 470 Indian students living in Ukraine. The first batch of students left Chernivtsi in a bus for the Ukraine-Romania border.
- In an unprecedented papal gesture, Pope Francis visited the Russian embassy in Rome to express his concern about the war in Ukraine, reported the Associated Press. Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni confirmed that the the pope’s gesture was to clearly “express his concern about the war”.