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Russian Invasion of Ukraine Update 28th February


The United Nations General Assembly observed a minute of silence for Ukraine Monday as it opened a special emergency session to discuss whether to condemn Russia’s invasion of its neighbour. Assembly president Abdulla Shahid led the UN’s 193 members in the moment of meditation before calling for “an immediate ceasefire” in the conflict. (AFP)


1710 hrs – A few minutes ago, a strong explosion lit up the skies of the Ukrainian capital and the sirens sounded again. Kyiv is under rocket fire. A short video of the moment is already being shared on social networks.

At least 11 civilians have been killed in Russian shelling on Ukraine’s second most populated city Kharkiv on Monday, the regional governor said, adding dozens more had been injured.

Guards intercepted a group of saboteurs plotting a suspected attack on one of Ukraine’s best known religious sites, the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv, a spokesman for the site has said. Ukrainian church leaders have been at odds with Russia after Ukraine formed a new Orthodox church in January 2019, pushing away centuries of ties to Moscow.

Rights groups have called on Russia to stop using cluster munitions in Ukraine, saying fatal strikes using the indiscriminate weapons on a hospital and a school could constitute war crimes. 


European Union defence ministers are set to discuss plans later to jointly finance deliveries of weapons worth 500 million euros ($560m) to Ukraine, and these will include a range of defensive arms aimed at helping assist Kyiv’s efforts to repel Russian forces, the bloc’s foreign policy chief says. “Member states have to provide these arms, they have to coordinate with what they are doing … with these resources,” Josep Borrell said ahead of the virtual meeting of the bloc’s defence ministers.

All Russian banks will have their assets frozen within days, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Monday, as part of plans to ramp up economic sanctions. “We will bring in a full asset freeze on all Russian banks in days, looking to coordinate with our allies,” Truss told parliament, saying it was designed to prevent the Kremlin funding its invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)


The Ukraine – Russian talks have now ended for today – the outcome is as yet unknown. A second round of talks is planned, but no date has yet been set.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Moscow this afternoon, says Ukraine and Russia “seem very, very far apart on what they want out of the talks”. “Russia, we already know, has asked for an unconditional surrender of the Ukrainian forces,” Smith said.


The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, signed the application for membership of the European Union, it was announced this Monday on the official account of the Ukrainian Parliament via Twitter. The announcement comes after the Ukrainian president asked this Monday for the country’s immediate accession to the EU under a simplified procedure, reported this Monday Politico (open access / content in English).

“We ask the European Union for the immediate accession of Ukraine through a new special procedure,” Zelensky said via Telegram. “Our aim is to be with all Europeans and, more importantly, to be on an equal footing. I’m sure it’s fair. I am sure it is possible,” he added.

Earlier a top EU official said Monday there were disagreements among the 27 member states on enlarging the bloc, as Kyiv appealed for membership in the face of a Russian invasion. “There are different opinions and sensitivities within the EU on enlargement,” European Council chief Charles Michel said. He said that Kyiv would have to submit an official request to join, then member states would have to come up with a unanimous position. (AFP) 


More than 500,000 people have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion, Filippo Grandi, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, says. The latest and still growing count had 281,000 people entering Poland, more than 84,500 in Hungary, about 36,400 in Moldova, more than 32,500 in Romania and about 30,000 in Slovakia, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said.

Ukraine’s president says Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has agreed to provide Kyiv with $100m of aid, on top of existing financial support.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry says it has evacuated at least 499 of the country’s citizens from Ukraine in recent days.The ministry said in a statement that a further 160 citizens were awaiting evacuation at the Ukraine-Poland border, and an additional 21 were currently en route to the Ukraine-Hungary border.

The European Union is preparing to grant Ukrainians who flee the war the right to stay and work in the 27-nation bloc for up to three years, senior EU and French officials said, thanking volunteers at the borders for helping those who arrive.(AFP)


Russia this Monday banned airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including Portugal, in response to sanctions imposed by several countries, advances Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Russian Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov has cancelled a trip to Geneva for disarmament talks because his plane would not be able to pass through airspace that the European Union has closed to Russian aviation as part of sanctions against Moscow, RIA news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying on Monday. (Reuters)


The United Kingdom on Monday banned Russian-flagged ships from docking in its ports. The ban extends to ships registered in Russia or owned by Russian citizens.

“The maritime sector is fundamental to international trade and we must do our part to constrain economic interests”, said Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, in a letter addressed to British citizens.


About 322,000 Ukrainian citizens are experiencing disruptions (partial or complete) in access to electricity, the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy advances through Facebook.

In the publication, the Ministry guarantees that the authorities are working to restore the normality of services.


The website of Russian state news agency TASS appears to have been hacked, the Reuters news agency reports, with its regular site replaced with an anti-war message and calls to stop Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We urge you to stop this madness, do not send your sons and husbands to certain death,” the message read, Reuters reported, citing checks from several different devices.

After several Russian ministries were attacked by hackers in recent days, the latest target was Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank became inoperable this Monday (TASS)


The sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia are causing economic turmoil. The ruble, the Russian currency, has never been worth less and there is already a run on ATMs. In Moscow, the stock exchange did not open this Monday. All trading on the markets is suspended until further notice. The ruble plummeted after the announcement of new economic sanctions on Vladimir Putin. A ruble is worth less than a cent. To get an idea, to buy something that cost just one euro, you would need 110 rubles.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says its executive board has recommended that international sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from participating in events. The board said in a statement that in cases where it proves impossible to prevent athletes from the two countries competing, such as if there is insufficient time to give notice or for other “organisational or legal reasons”, they should be prevented from doing so under their nations’ banner.


The trains are free and everyone can enter up to the maximum limit. Even so, several families were being separated as only children and women could pass.  The capital’s central train station is completely packed. This comes after the Russian Defence Ministry said civilians can safely leave Kyiv.


Switzerland, a traditionally neutral country, will adopt all European Union sanctions against Russia, “without any exception”, the government announced on Monday, after the president had given this possibility as “very likely”.

Ignazio Cassis admitted that this is an “unprecedented and difficult step” that needed “careful consideration”.

Finance Minister Ueli Maurer added that “there will not be a single exception” to European sanctions and that “it is essential” to maintain the integrity of the Swiss financial centre.


Some Netflix and Spotify members in Russia say they are having trouble paying their subscription fees.

As SkyNews reports, some service users say they are receiving error messages related to their bank cards, especially from banks such as Sberbank, Tinkoff and Alfa-Bank.

It is possible that these difficulties are related to the exclusion of these banks from the SWIFT financial system but, for the moment, none of the companies has commented on the situation.


All Russian banks will have their assets frozen within days, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Monday, as part of plans to ramp up economic sanctions. “We will bring in a full asset freeze on all Russian banks in days, looking to coordinate with our allies,” Truss told parliament, saying it was designed to prevent the Kremlin funding its invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)

Russia has a system that can replace the SWIFT global payments system internally, the governor of the country’s central bank says.Elvira Nabiullina added that all banks in Russia will fulfil their obligations and all funds on their accounts are secured.