Vladimir Putin’s ex-spy propagandist told the BBC that Jewish Volodymyr Zelensky is a ‘Nazi’ and that the war ‘is going to plan’ in an extraordinary showdown with Nick Robinson today.
Maria Butina, who was convicted of working as a foreign agent in the US in 2018, told Radio 4’s Today Programme that Russia ‘is not bombing citizens’.
The member of the State Duma, 33, also called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a ‘Nazi’ and insisted that the war is ‘absolutely’ going to plan.
In response, BBC radio host Robinson pointed out that Zelensky is Jewish and his ‘great-grandfather died fighting the Nazis as part of Russia’.
And referring to images of the city of Mariupol, in south eastern Ukraine, being flattened by bombs, he asked: ‘Are you seriously claiming [civilians] are not under attack from Russia?’
The city of Mariupol has been surrounded by Russian soldiers for days and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the encircled city of 430,000.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk called it a ‘catastrophic’ situation, as the shelling shattered buildings and left the city with no water, heat, working sewage systems or phone service.
Maria Butina (pictured above), 33, who was convicted of working as a foreign agent in the US in 2018, told Radio 4’s Today Programme that Russia ‘is not bombing citizens’
People are seen walking next to an apartment building hit by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday. A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the encircled city of 430,000
Transcript in full: BBC’s interview with Putin’s ex-spy propagandist Maria Butina
[Nick Robinson]: Is the war going to plan?
[Maria Butina]: Yes absolutely. I do trust my President as well as the majority of Russians do. We see now that Russians support the special operation so more than 70 per cent and also they support the actions of the Parliament which has never been as high as it’s been today, in history it’s about 45 per cent, so Russians and me we chose the President and believe that everything is going as planned.
Why won’t Putin call it what it is – a war against Ukraine – why do you call it a ‘special operation’?
Because of the purposes. So we have been warned in the world that the Nazi mood and the Nazi actions in Ukraine is rising. For actually many years. It took us eight years trying to convince them that you cannot attack their Russian-speaking population in the Donbas region, and you can’t discriminate people by their race and nation.
Do you think Zelensky is a Nazi?
According to his actions, absolutely.
He’s Jewish, his great-grandfather died fighting the Nazis as part of Russia, I put it to you again that he’s a bit of an unlikely Nazi.
You know I do believe that Nazism is not about just one nation, it’s about killing, murdering, torturing, alienation, based on their race, their gender., their nationality, country of origin and what we see today –
So is Putin a Nazi? Because he is currently bombing civilians in cities all over Ukraine. By your definition is he a Nazi?
Russia is not bombing citizens. Russian military troops actually are having humanitarian corridors –
Just pause because people might be a bit surprised. I am watching images – have you seen them I wonder – of Mariupol, a city that has been almost flattened, in which people young, old and disabled are being directly hit by shells being fired by the Russian military. Are you seriously claiming they’re not under attack from Russia?
I want to seriously see the evidence. As much as we know and personally in my region, we help people get evacuated from Donbas and we do –
Hold on, are you suggesting that the shells that are flattening Ukranian cities are being fired by Ukrainians?
I hope not. I hope no one in the world can bomb their own population. I don’t want to believe in that, as well as I don’t want to believe that somebody can torture an Orthodox priest, but I talk to these people, many of them..
What evidence have you got to suggest that millions of people are fleeing their own cities, that thousands are dying, because a country is bombing its own citizens? It’s preposterous.
Well as much as we see, we create humanitarian corridors.
That wasn’t the question. I asked you who fires the bombs, who fires the missiles that are killing Ukrainian citizens and forcing millions to flee.
We have tons of evidence that the Russian army does not bomb the civilian population. Absolutely not. It is not the purpose.
Where’s the evidence?
You cannot prove things like this because we just don’t do it. Russians just don’t do it.
Ah Russians don’t do it, I see. Other than in countries like Syria, Chechnya, Ukraine today. Have you watched Western media reporting or dismiss it as fake news?
That’s why I was one of the authors of the law of fake news in Russia. I’m proud of this because I do believe that people should know the truth, only the official information. I do read a lot of Western news and I’m able to do it as you probably see.
Are you saying that anything that is not the official information, approved by the Kremlin, is fake news?
Don’t take my words like this. I’m talking about official information which I believe people deserve to know, especially in times of instability.
Why are millions choosing to head west to western Europe rather than north to Russia?
This is a choice. Everybody decides by themselves. I know Europe takes a lot of refugees from Ukraine and God bless them for doing this. Any military operation no one wants civilians to get hurt, so they decide to go West, this is their right, but Russian corridors are open and we do give support as much as we can, humanitarian support, and would appreciate if Ukrainian troops didn’t stop it. Civilians should be out of the game and they should be able to evacuate if they want.
I am very puzzled by this conversation, and I am going to take as sincere your desire to help and protect people who find themselves persecuted. But how can you utter the sentence ‘no one wants civilians to get hurt’?
I was in a peaceful city just a matter of days ago and your President has chosen to bomb it, to bomb cities all over the country of Ukraine, and to force millions of people from their homes. What on earth does the sentence ‘no one wants civilians to be hurt’ mean in Moscow?
First of all, Russian troops do not bomb the civilian population.
And second, for eight years, these people, not all the Ukrainians, but the Nazi part were actually killing people in the Donbas region.
What percentage did the far-right party get in eastern Ukraine?
Well let me give you certain examples –
No let’s answer the question. It was two per cent. That was the polling. So nobody doubts there were neo-Nazis, but you’re asserting that they’re all Nazis. It’s nonsense. How does this war end?
I believe that Ukraine should have the right to choose, Ukrainians, by themselves, a legitimate power with legitimate leaders that they would like to have, but they should be demilitarised, no military tensions like we have today, and it should be de-Nazified, which means they should not have Nazi people in the government.
So they should choose their own leaders once you’ve bombed their people and millions of them have left the country. Maria Butina thank you very much indeed for joining us from Moscow this morning.
Maria Butina: Convicted Russian spy who was once jailed for working as a foreign agent in the US
Maria Butina was previously jailed in the US for trying to infiltrate political organisations including the National Rifle Association (NRA).
She began attending NRA meetings and other conservative events in the US in 2014, often posting Facebook pictures of herself with prominent Republicans like Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum.
All the while, she remained in contact with a Russian official, Alexander Torshin, and prosecutors say that she was acting on Kremlin orders to insert herself into U.S. politics.
In one of thousands of Twitter direct messages obtained by 60 Minutes, she wrote to Torshin: ‘We made our bet. I am following our game.’
Russian official Aleksandr Torshin seen with Butina
Torshin replied: ‘…This is the battle for the future. It cannot be lost… patience and cold blood…’
A week later, Butina writes to Torshin: ‘…Only incognito! Right now everything has to be quiet and careful.’
When 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl asked Butina about that exchange, she said, ‘Let me take you back to 2016…around the election time. Do you remember at that time how American media treated Russia? Everything was toxic. Tell me that there is no racism here against the Russians. Oh, please. It is.’
Her case further strained relations between the United States and Russia, prompting Moscow to accuse Washington of forcing Butina to confess to what it described as ridiculous charges.
In 2019, Putin called the US’ treatment of Butina a travesty of justice and said her sentence looked like an attempt by US law enforcement and judicial officials to save face.
But Butina, who creates social media propaganda videos backing the war, denied the shelling, saying: ‘Russia is not bombing citizens. Russian military troops actually are having humanitarian corridors – ‘
Robinson interjected: ‘Just pause because people might be a bit surprised. I am watching images – have you seen them I wonder – of Mariupol, a city that has been almost flattened, in which people young, old and disabled are being directly hit by shells being fired by the Russian military.
‘Are you seriously claiming they’re not under attack from Russia?’
He later continued: ‘What evidence have you got to suggest that millions of people are fleeing their own cities, that thousands are dying, because a country is bombing its own citizens? It’s preposterous.’
Butina went on to say that Russia ‘has tons of evidence’ showing that its army ‘does not bomb civilians’, adding: ‘Absolutely not. It is not the purpose.’
When pushed to give this evidence, she replied: ‘You cannot prove things like this because we just don’t do it. Russians just don’t do it.’
Earlier in the interview, Robinson asked: ‘Do you think Zelensky is a Nazi?’, to which Butina responded: ‘According to his actions, absolutely.’
Putin recently reiterated that his war aims include the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine – a claim dismissed as baseless pretexts by Kyiv and its partners including Washington and London.
Questioned on whether the war was ‘going to plan’ for Russia, she said: ‘Yes absolutely. I do trust my President as well as the majority of Russians do.
‘We see now that Russians support the special operation so more than 70 per cent and also they support the actions of the Parliament which has never been as high as it’s been today, in history it’s about 45 per cent, so Russians and me we chose the President and believe that everything is going as planned.’
Following the interview, Robinson tweeted: ‘A Russian MP who backed a “fake news” law which threatens people with 15 years in prison for publishing anything that contradicts “official information” told me today that Russia “just doesn’t” attack civilians & the Ukrainians may be bombing themselves’.
Retweeting a clip of the radio segment, he added: ‘This was …well… memorable’.
Butina was previously jailed in the US for trying to infiltrate political organisations including the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Her case further strained relations between the United States and Russia, prompting Moscow to accuse Washington of forcing Butina to confess to what it described as ridiculous charges.
In 2019, Putin called the US’ treatment of Butina a travesty of justice and said her sentence looked like an attempt by US law enforcement and judicial officials to save face.
Her latest comments come as a Cabinet minister says the UK Government is stepping up the pace of admissions for refugees fleeing Ukraine.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged there were ‘lessons to be learned’ in its response to the crisis which has seen more than two million people leave the country to escape the Russian invasion.
He said however that the government of President Zelensky wanted as many people as possible to remain in the region so they could quickly return to rebuild the country when it is safe to do so.
He told Sky News: ‘President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government have told me that they do not want people to move far away, if at all possible, from the country, because they want people to be able to come back.
Butina began attending National Rifle Association (NRA) meetings and other conservative events in the US in 2014, often posting Facebook pictures of herself with prominent Republicans like Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum
A file courtroom sketch depicts Butina listening to Assistant US Attorney Erik Kenderson as he speaks to Judge Deborah Robinson, left, during a hearing in a federal court in Washington on July 18, 2018
Butina speaks with journalists after her arrival at Sheremetievo Airport in Moscow. She previously served 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to a federal charge
Jewish Zelensky – who says three of his family members were killed in the Holocaust – asks Putin: ‘How can I be a Nazi?’
Shortly before Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky asked: ‘How can I be a Nazi?’
Speaking in Russian, he said: ‘The Ukraine on your news and Ukraine in real life are two completely different countries — and the main difference between them is: Ours is real.
‘You are told we are Nazis. But could a people who lost more than 8 million lives in the battle against Nazism support Nazism?’
He continued: ‘How can I be a Nazi?
Shortly before Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky (above) asked: ‘How can I be a Nazi?’
‘Explain it to my grandfather, who went through the entire war in the infantry of the Soviet army, and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine.’
Zelensky has previously told how three of his grandfather’s brothers were killed in the Holocaust.
The Ukrainian President is Jewish, and his grandfather, Semyon Ivanovich Zelensky, was a member of the Soviet Union’s Red Army and fought against advancing Nazi troops during World War II.
In a 2019 Facebook post on the eve of his presidency, Zelensky posted a photo from his hometown of Kryvyi Rih at his grandfather’s gravestone in tribute.
‘[Semyon] went through the whole war and remains forever in my memory one of those heroes who defended Ukraine from the Nazis,’ he wrote on May 9 – Ukraine’s official ‘Victory Day’ over Nazism.
‘It’s a shame that we so rarely mention our veterans, our grandparents. We should be grateful to them every day.
‘Thanks for the fact that the inhuman ideology of Nazism is forever a thing of the past. Thanks to those who fought against Nazism — and won.
‘We are just grateful to everyone for the opportunity to be born and live.’
‘We are really leaning into this, at the same time respecting Ukraine’s wishes, the government’s wishes, not to pull people a long way away from Ukraine.’
Following fierce criticism from a number of Tory MPs, Mr Shapps said 760 visas have now been granted, with 22,000 applications ‘on their way through’.
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Government should start issuing emergency visas rather than requiring people to deal with lengthy bureaucracy.
‘Offer emergency visas that can be issued really swiftly, rather than people having to fill in these 14-page forms or rather than having to upload documents,’ she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘It just beggars belief that people are being asked to do this when they have fled a war zone, when they have had to leave everything behind, when they have been risking life and limb, in the face of Russian bombardment.
‘People shouldn’t be treated like this.’
Mr Shapps also defended the decision to site a new visa processing centre in northern France in Lille rather than in Calais, where many of the refugees hoping to reach the UK have been heading.
He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We do not want to see this mixed up with the wider issue of people traffickers and criminal gangs in Calais, so we don’t want to attract people to Calais without having the paperwork resolved in the first place before they get there.’
After the Government announced on Tuesday that it was banning imports of Russian oil from the end of the year, Mr Shapps acknowledged it would have an impact on the cost of living in the UK.
In a co-ordinated move, President Joe Biden said the US was stopping oil supply from Russia, while the European Union also announced a phasing out of dependence on Moscow’s energy.
The actions were praised by President Zelensky who said it sent ‘a powerful signal to the whole world’.
In his daily address to the Ukrainian people, he said: ‘Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money.’
Mr Shapps, however, said there would inevitably be economic consequences which would affect people in Britain.
He told LBC: ‘We are not, fortunately for us, in a position of having air raids and seeing – literally – our children die on the street, the terrible pictures we are seeing in Ukraine.
‘Everyone wants to help, we need to stem the flow of Putin’s gas and oil blood money from funding his war machine, so I think it’s right to cut off their oil.
‘But there is an impact, it’s a global impact. We have already seen very high price rises.’
His comments came as it emerged that ministers were considering steps that could lead to a fracking rethink in the UK as they look to develop alternative sources of energy supply.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, for shale gas has been under a moratorium for more than two years but the move could allow the sites to be opened up at a later date.
Further details are expected when the Government publishes its energy supply strategy in the coming weeks – although it is likely to face fierce opposition from climate change campaigners.
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Russia’s stranded troops face dying in tanks that become ’40-ton iron freezers’ during -20C cold snap – after warnings cornered Putin could detonate mini-NUKES in worst-case scenario as ‘clusterf**k invasion’ fury grows
By Chris Pleasance, David Averre and Jack Wright for the MailOnline
Russian troops stranded in the 40-mile long convoy of tanks and armoured vehicles stalled on the outskirts of Kyiv could face freezing to death in their vehicles this week as temperatures are set to plunge.
A pronounced cold snap in Eastern Europe will see temperatures drop to -10C overnight in the middle of the week around Kyiv and Kharkiv – down to -20C when wind chill is taken into account.
The icy conditions are expected to make a difficult situation even worse for the invaders, who have been stuck roughly 20 miles from Kyiv for days amid mechanical problems, fuel supply issues and solid Ukrainian resistance.
Former British Army Major Kevin Price said the occupiers’ tanks will become nothing more than ’40-ton freezers’ as the mercury drops, commenting that the bitter conditions will destroy the morale of troops not prepared for Arctic-style warfare.
Price declared that life for Russian soldiers not expecting to be confronted with such low temperatures in March is set to become ‘unbelievably tough’, while Glen Grant, a senior defence expert at the Baltic Security Foundation, said a tank ‘is just a fridge at night if you are not running the engine’ – something the Russians simply cannot afford to do given the fuel scarcity.
Grant said that unless the convoy is quickly supplied and is able to get moving again, many of the Russian soldiers may be forced to give up to avoid freezing to death.
‘You just can’t sit around and wait because if you are in the vehicle you are waiting to be killed. They are not stupid,’ he told Newsweek.
But the Arctic temperatures are also expected to make life miserable for Ukrainian refugees attempting to flee from war torn cities.
Russian troops stranded in the 40-mile long convoy of tanks and armoured vehicles stalled on the outskirts of Kyiv could face freezing to death in their vehicles this week as temperatures are set to plunge (Russian convoy pictured March 7 near Kyiv)
The icy conditions are expected to make a difficult situation even worse for the invaders, who have been stuck roughly 20 miles from Kyiv for days amid mechanical problems, fuel supply issues and solid Ukrainian resistance
A pronounced cold snap in Eastern Europe will see temperatures drop to -10C overnight in the middle of the week around Kyiv and Kharkiv – down to -20C when wind chill is taken into account (an elderly woman is coated in snow as she sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated from Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022)
The Arctic temperatures are also expected to make life miserable for Ukrainian refugees attempting to flee from war torn cities (couple pictured during the evacuation of Irpin, March 8)
Kremlin officials meanwhile are ‘privately denouncing’ Vladimir Putin’s ‘clusterf**k’ invasion as US officials warned that the isolated Russian despot could lash out in anger at Ukraine’s fierce resistance by using small nuclear weapons on some of its cities.
Russian journalist Farida Rustamova, who was well-connected in government circles before fleeing the country as the Kremlin launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent, has claimed that officials in Moscow never believed that Putin would go to war.
They are now allegedly making ‘apocalyptic’ forecasts about the weeks and months ahead as fighting grinds on and punitive sanctions bite.
When asked how Russian politicians were reacting to the crisis, one source told Rustamova: ‘They’re carefully enunciating the word clusterf**k. No one is rejoicing. Many understand that this is a mistake, but in the course of doing their duty they come up with explanations in order to somehow come to terms with it.’
Kyiv estimates that 12,000 Russians have now died fighting and while that number cannot be verified, casualties are almost certainly higher than Putin bargained for when he gave the order to attack 13 days ago. Captured soldiers have complained of a lack of food, fuel, and overall battle plan – with conditions set to get worse in the coming days.
US intelligence chiefs on Tuesday branded Putin an ‘angry’, isolated leader grappling for global clout, frustrated about how his Ukraine invasion has not gone to plan, and lobbing provocative nuclear threats at the West. Some have even privately expressed concern that, in a worst-case scenario, he might order deployment of mini-nukes on a city.
CIA Director William Burns told US lawmakers that Putin is now likely to ‘double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties’. At a congressional hearing on global threats, he said the despot has been ‘stewing in a combustible combination of grievance and ambition for many years’ and regarded the invasion of Ukraine a matter of ‘deep personal conviction’ for Putin.
‘I think Putin is angry and frustrated right now. He’s likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties,’ Burns said.
The Russian strongman has encountered a tidal wave of opprobrium for the deadly invasion, leaving him isolated like never before. The US intelligence community warned of the potential for Putin to lash out, especially noting an elevated nuclear threat.
Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, said Russia under Putin has been working overtime to modernize its weaponry, particularly smaller-yield nuclear weapons.
Putin has ‘invested in tactical nuclear weapons,’ Berrier said. ‘I believe that he thinks that gives him an asymmetric advantage.’
Putin took the shock step last month of putting Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said ‘Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling’ has put the West on notice.
‘We assess Putin feels aggrieved the West does not give him proper deference, and perceives this as a war he cannot afford to lose,’ Haines told the panel. ‘But what he might be willing to accept as a victory may change over time.’
Putin’s invasion has produced ‘a shock to the geopolitical order with implications for the future that we are only beginning to understand, but are sure to be consequential’, it was heard.
The CIA’s Burns also warned that with Putin under immense pressure, the ‘system’ the Russian president created of a circle of close advisors is getting ‘narrower and narrower’ – and that in such a system, ‘it’s not proven career enhancing for people to question or challenge his judgment’.
It comes after a US military think tank dramatically warned on Monday night that Russian forces could launch their assault on Kyiv as early as tonight.
The Institute for the Study of War said the Russian military has been bringing reinforcements and supplies to its front lines, as well as carrying out air and artillery strikes on key Ukrainian military targets to weaken their position and to intimidate the city’s defenders ahead of a large assault.
Three civilians died near Kyiv on Tuesday after stepping on a landmine, a six-year-old girl died from dehydration in Mariupol after water was cut off, and hundreds of people were pictured evacuating from the city of Irpin in bitter conditions whilst snow fell.
Irpin has been the scene of some intense clashes as Russian forces try to take it on their mission to surround and besiege Kyiv, with one commander reporting hand-to-hand fighting as Putin’s men battle street-to-street.
Vitaliy Shichko, resident of nearby Bucha, said Russian forces have been attacking the town since last week – initially throwing in men ‘they weren’t afraid of losing’ but increasingly moving in better armed and equipped troops to capture and hold ground.
Others said that Russians had cleared residents out of their homes so they could set up sniper positions, with some alleging that civilians had been fired at as they tried to flee. Ukrainian artillery is now being brought to bare on Russian forces as they set up the next phase of their attack, commanders said.
Ukraine’s commanders have claimed that Putin’s invasion has ‘slowed significantly’ in recent days, with American intelligence saying he has now committed all of the forces he built up along the border to the fight.
Kyiv’s military, giving an overview of combat as the war entered its 13th day, said defensive operations continue in the north, east and south of Ukraine, with all major cities other than Kherson in Ukrainian hands. Russian troops are ‘demoralised and increasingly tend to looting and violations of international humanitarian law’, commanders added.
It has also emerged that another Russian commander – Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army – was killed in Kharkiv on Monday, just the latest in an increasingly long line of senior military figures to lose their lives in Ukraine.
Ukrainian artillery targeting Russian military trucks in Kozarovychi in the Kyiv Oblast
Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls in Irpin, Ukraine, March 8, 2022
Ukrainians cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, March 8, 2022
This handout video grab taken and released by the Russian Presidential Press Service on March 8, 2022 shows Russian President Vladimir Putin giving a speech for the International Women’s Day, in Moscow
A children’s playground is seen in front of an apartment building hit by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 8, 2022
People help an elderly woman to walk in a street with an apartment building hit by shelling in the background in Mariupol, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022
The fire at the warehouse after a Russian Kalibr missile debris was shot down over Kalynivka village, near Brovary, the eastern frontline of Kyiv region, Ukraine, 08 March 2022
A Ukrainian firefighter in action trying to extinguish the fire at the warehouse in Kalynivka village, near Brovary, Ukraine, 08 March 2022
Heartbreaking pictures have emerged of Ukrainian children, trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol, hiding in shelters from Russian bombs as the occupiers continued their indiscriminate bombing campaigns
An elderly woman placed in a shopping trolley is carried over a destroyed bridge as she is evacuated from the city of Irpin, west of Kyiv, as snow falls on Tuesday morning
An elderly Ukrainian woman, placed inside a shopping trolley, is carried over a destroyed bridge on the outskirts of Irpin, near the capital Kyiv, which has been the scene of brutal street-to-street fighting
People flee the city of Irpin, west of Kyiv, on Monday as Russian forces pummelled d Ukrainian cities from the air, land and sea
People carry a wounded woman during the evacuation by civilians of the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv
A police officer says goodbye to his son as his family flees from advancing Russian troops as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin
Heavy snow falls as Ukrainian civilians flee across a river in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, where heavy fighting is going on
Ukrainian soldiers help an elderly woman to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv
A person is carried on a stretcher during the evacuation by civilians of the city of Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv
A woman carrying a swaddled baby walks down a motorway near the city of Irpin as she evacuates amid heavy snowfall
Russian troops continue to try and surround Kyiv ahead of what is expected to be an attack on the city, with intense fighting reported in the north west including hand-to-hand combat with Russian forces
Ukraine war: The latest
- Russia refloats plans to open humanitarian corridors. Kyiv calls the proposal a publicity stunt
- Ukrainian servicemen and fleeing residents describe ferocious fighting on Kyiv’s northwestern edge, including hand-to-hand combat
- 18 people, including two children, died in an air strike on the city of Sumy
- Ukraine’s military claims Russian general Vitaly Gerasimov is killed in fighting near Kharkiv
- Russia steps up its shelling of Gostomel near Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Sumy in the northeast, Chernihiv in the north and Mykolayiv in the southwest
- Tens of thousands are still trapped without water or power in the southern port of Mariupol after two failed evacuation attempts
- At least 13 people are killed by shelling at an industrial bakery in Makariv, west of Kyiv
- Nearly all of Russia’s 150,000 combat troops arrayed on Ukraine’s border have now entered the country
- The International Atomic Energy Agency receives reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv
- White House says there is no agreement with European allies on a blanket ban on oil and gas imports
- The World Bank approves an additional $489million package for Ukraine, made available immediately
- Russia says it will allow Russian companies and individuals to repay debts to creditors in ‘hostile’ nations in rubles
- US-based Morgan Stanley says a Russian default on sovereign debts will come as soon as next month
- Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is not sending conscripts or reservists to fight
- Kyiv’s presidential advisor says talks with Russia brought some ‘positive results’, while Moscow’s lead negotiator said aims were ‘not fulfilled’
- Turkey announces it will host Russia’s and Ukraine’s foreign ministers for talks Thursday.
- Foreign footballers and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere, FIFA announces
- The UN says 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine, making it the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II
Kyiv claimed today that 12,000 Russian troops have now died fighting in Ukraine, while 300 tanks have been destroyed along with more than 1,000 armoured vehicles, 48 planes, 80 helicopters and three boats. Moscow has acknowledged taking losses but has not given a recent update. Ukraine’s losses are unknown.
Strikes on civilian areas also continued Tuesday morning, with the city of Sumy – in the east – struck by bombs which the local mayor said killed 21 people including two children and left others wounded. Ukraine’s parliament published a photo of a bloodied infant they said was hurt in the attack.
Russia again offered to open up ‘humanitarian corridors’ today to allow civilians to flee bombarded cities – but the move was swiftly dismissed by Kyiv, with President Volodymyr Zelensky accusing Moscow of ‘cynicism’, saying its troops have laid mines across the routes and blown up buses intended to be used as transports.
‘There was an agreement on humanitarian corridors. Did that work? Russian tanks worked in its place, Russian Grads (multiple rocket launchers), Russian mines,’ Zelensky said in a video posted on Telegram. ‘They ensure that a small corridor to the occupied territory is open for a few dozen people. Not so much towards Russia as towards the propagandists, directly towards the television cameras.’
At least one of the corridors – out of Sumy – was operating today despite the fatal Russian strikes early in the morning. Ukraine’s deputy prime minister announced this evening that more than 5,000 civilians were evacuated from the northern Ukrainian city under a temporary ceasefire that mostly held.
Regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said around 1,700 of the evacuees were foreign students studying at universities in Sumy, adding the ceasefire was broken only once by a shooting near a checkpoint.
But Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the route out of Mariupol, which has been without water or electricity for the best part of a week, was shelled.
Mariupol is one of the Ukrainian cities worst hit since the invasion began, with Russian forces bringing widespread destruction to residential and administrative centres.
And each time Russia has agreed to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ allowing citizens to flee the city, its forces have broken their ceasefire agreement and continued shelling in what appear to have been targeted attacks on innocent civilians.
Zelensky said people stuck in the blockaded urban centre are beginning to suffer from a lack of supplies as the city runs dangerously low on food, water and medicine.
Ukrainian territorial defence forces have been able to deliver vital supplies to some residents, but many more remain isolated and unable to access lifesaving rations.
In Bucha, to the northwest of Kyiv, the mayor said the city is under such heavy shelling that medics cannot get into the streets to retrieve the bodies of the dead – which are now being ‘pulled apart’ by stray dogs. ‘It’s a nightmare,’ he added.
The United Nations said the number of refugees who have fled Ukraine has already reached 2 million – the fastest exodus Europe has seen since World War II. One million were children, UNICEF spokesman James Elder tweeted, calling it ‘a dark historical first.’ Most others were women.
In Zhyotymyr, west of Kyiv, a fire at an oil depot was extinguished in the early hours of the morning while in Mykolaiv, in the south, several fires in residential areas had broke out due to Russian attacks – with four civilians killed and five others rescued from the rubble and taken to hospital
In Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, Russian shelling set nine floors and 27 apartment units of a residential building on fire – a blaze that took rescuers more than four hours to extinguish. At least four people were killed.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, speaking to the BBC today, said Russian forces are ‘getting more desperate’ and ‘we are seeing the Russians just double down on brutality’ as the attack stalls.
Stuck in the mud: Ukraine thaw could slow Russian advance
Having failed to make a decisive advance in the early phase of its Ukraine campaign, the Russian army is now facing a thaw that could make progression on key routes problematic due to mud.
Like the armies of Napoleon and Hitler before them, Russian mechanised divisions are likely to be slowed down or halted as unpaved roads become quagmires.
Locals have a word for the twice-yearly season of mudbound roads in the region: Rasputitsa, a term that refers to both to the seasons themselves, and the resulting muddy conditions that can last three to four weeks.
As President Vladimir Putin massed his army at the Ukrainian border, many Western experts expected him to abstain from marching in as the weeks passed, because time was running out before the great thaw.
‘Early spring is a bad time to invade Ukraine if the main roads have been destroyed, a task well within Ukraine’s irregular warfare toolkit,’ wrote Spencer Meredith, a professor at the US National Defence University, in an article published a week before Putin gave the order for the invasion.
While some experts may have misread Putin’s intentions, their assessment of weather conditions has been spot-on, as pictures of Russian tanks stuck in the mud have begun to appear frequently on social media.
‘There were already numerous episodes when Russian tanks and other equipment drove into the fields and got stuck. So the soldiers had to leave the equipment and go on foot,’ said Mykola Beleskov, an Ukrainian military analyst. He added: ‘The situation will worsen as the weather warms up and the rains start, it’ll just chain them to the ground.’
Reporting by AFP
He says ‘Russia has still not been making its advances, it’s day 13. That northern column that we have often talked about is still pretty much stuck, I mean really stuck, so that’s not advancing.’
He said the UK would be increasing the amount of lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine, details of which he would announce in Parliament on Wednesday, and is helping organise delivery of aid through Nato and other EU countries.
On the subject of Poland possibly supplying jets for the fight in Ukraine, he said there was a debate going on at the moment about whether Poland would.
‘The UK could not supply jets directly to Ukraine, we don’t have the same type of fighter jets they fly, Mig-29s and others… Our view would be that it is for Poland on a bilateral basis to decide whether to support Ukraine,’ adding the UK would support Poland as an old ally.
Meanwhile Russia has threatened to turn off the main gas pipeline supplying Europe if the West goes ahead with sanctions on its oil sector – a move that Moscow says would push the price up above $300 per barrel.
Germany and the UK have ruled out penalising Russia’s energy sector – one of the nation’s only economic lifelines – arguing that the European economy needs more time to adjust before the taps are turned off.
But the US today announced plans to ban imports of Russian oil, sending the average price of gasoline in the US to a record $4.17 per gallon.
The national average rose by 10 cents per gallon in one day, and is up 55 cents since last week, according to American Automobile Association data.
The previous high was set 13 years ago when the national average price hit $4.10 per gallon.
The price of benchmark US crude also jumped 8 per cent Tuesday to more than $129 per barrel.
Americans can expect the current trend at the pump to continue as long as crude prices climb, the AAA said.
‘We will not be part of subsidizing Putin’s war,’ Biden declared, calling the new action a ‘powerful blow’ against Russia’s ability to fund the ongoing offensive.
The US imports about 100,000 barrels a day from Russia, only about 5 per cent of Russia’s crude oil exports, according to Rystad Energy. Last year, roughly 8 per cent of US imports of oil and petroleum products came from Russia.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine well into its second week, a steady rain of shells and rockets continues to fall on population centres like Bucha.
The mayor of the Kyiv suburb, Anatol Fedoruk, said military fire had been heavy and constant.
‘We can’t even gather up the bodies because the shelling from heavy weapons doesn’t stop day or night,’ Mr Fedoruk said.
In one of the most desperate cities, the encircled southern port of Mariupol, an estimated 200,000 people – nearly half the population of 430,000 – are still hoping to flee, but Ukrainian authorities have been reluctant to accept Russia’s offer of humanitarian corridors, arguing that previous ceasefire arrangements had been broken with many civilians killed as a result.
The Russian UN ambassador on Monday night forecast a potential cease-fire for the morning and appeared to suggest that humanitarian paths leading away from Kyiv and other cities could give people choice in where they want to go – a change from previous proposals that offered only destinations in Russia or Belarus.
Ukrainians crowd under a destroyed bridge as they try to flee crossing the Irpin river in the outskirts of Kyiv
A woman carries a dog to cross a destroyed bridge as she evacuates the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv
People file across a makeshift river crossing below a destroyed bridge as they flee from advancing Russian troops whose attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin
A man and his dogs are helped across a river on the outskirts of Irpin, near Kyiv, as civilians evacuations continue
People displaced from their homes carry what belongings they can as they flee from the city of Irpin, near Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today channeled Winston Churchill as he delivered a historic address to the House of Commons
Mr Zelensky was given a standing ovation by MPs both before and after his speech in which he compared Ukraine’s fight against Russia to Britain’s World War Two struggle against Nazi Germany
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, responding to the speech made by Mr Zelensky, told the House of Commons: ‘Never before in all our centuries of our parliamentary democracy has the House listened to such an address. ‘In a great European capital now within range of Russian guns President Volodymyr Zelensky is standing firm for democracy and for freedom’
Morale collapses among Russia’s troops with many deserting, POW claims
A captured Russian soldier has described how he was shot at and his comrade killed after fellow troops opened fire on them when they tried to protect Ukrainian civilians.
In a video, the POW described how he and a lieutenant tried to save a woman in her 20s, and her mother, after Russian soldiers were given orders to fire on civilians on February 24 in Kharkiv.
In the clip, the captured soldier claimed he was shot in the foot, and the lieutenant killed, when other troops realised the pair weren’t shooting at civilians.
It comes as a separate video showed a POW describing how ‘many’ Russian troops are fleeing the war – despite warnings from above that they face seven years in jail for desertion.
In the first video, the soldier describes how people started hiding when Russian troops opened fire.
‘Then your (Ukrainian) forces began to shoot at ours. And then, while ours were being shot at, me and my lieutenant were helping civilians.’
He said the two men ‘decision to save civilians, Ukrainian civilians’.
Speaking about the two women they helped, the soldier said: ‘The lieutenant ran over to them, began to take them out of the car, shouting ‘come over over here’.
‘In about 20 minutes, they noticed me and the lieutenant were saving civilians and an order was given to shoot me and the lieutenant and the civilians.
‘The lieutenant was killed, then they began shooting at the mother. She died with him too.
‘Me and the daughter began to retreat. My forces began to shoot me in the legs.
‘If it wasn’t for this garage, they would have killed me the same as they had with the mother and lieutenant.
‘Me and the daughter sat behind this garage. We hid until it quietened down and the daughter suggested to drive away, call for forces.
‘She went to find her mother, who was next to the lieutenant. Got the keys (to the car).
‘I crawled to the car and she put me in the backseat. She started the car and drove.’
It’s understood the man lost consciousness and when he came to, woke up thirsty, explaining the civilian was able to get him some water before they got medical attention.
But the office of embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not comment on the latest Russian proposal, saying only that Moscow’s plans can be believed only if a safe evacuation begins which has thus far not been possible.
Demands for effective passageways have surged amid intensifying shelling by Russian forces. The steady bombardments, including in some of Ukraine’s most populated regions, have yielded a humanitarian crisis of diminishing food, water and medical supplies.
Through it all, Mr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were showing unprecedented courage.
‘The problem is that for one soldier of Ukraine, we have 10 Russian soldiers, and for one Ukrainian tank, we have 50 Russian tanks,’ Mr Zelensky told ABC News in an interview that aired on Monday night.
But he noted that the gap in strength was diminishing and that even if Russian forces ‘come into all our cities,’ they will be met with an insurgency.
A top US official said multiple countries were discussing whether to provide the warplanes that Mr Zelensky has been pleading for.
Mr Zelensky himself gave an impassioned address to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the House of Commons via live video link this evening in a speech reminiscent of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill.
The Ukrainian President was given a standing ovation by MPs both before and after his address in which he compared Ukraine’s fight against Russia to Britain’s World War Two struggle against Nazi Germany.
‘I would like to remind you of the words the UK has already heard, but need to hear again,’ Mr Zelensky said, before he drew on Churchill’s iconic rallying remarks and declared that Ukrainians will fight against Moscow’s forces on land, sea and in the air.
Mr Zelensky said: ‘We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.’
He said Ukraine is fighting a ‘war that we didn’t start and we didn’t want’ as he told MPs ‘we do not want to lose what we have, what is ours’.
‘The Ukrainian people became heroes.’
Comparing Ukraine to Britain in World War Two, Mr Zelensky said people in the UK in the 1940s ‘didn’t want to lose your country when Nazis started to fight your country’.
He also said more than 50 children have now been killed in the invasion, telling the Commons: ‘These are the children that could have lived, but these people have taken them away from us,’ before going on to appeal for an increase in sanctions against Russia and further aid from the Government.
‘We are looking for the help of civilised countries. I am grateful to you, Boris. Please increase the sanctions against Russia, recognise this country as a terrorist state. Please make sure you do what needs to be done,’ he said.
Boris Johnson, responding to the speech made by Mr Zelensky, told the House of Commons: ‘Never before in all our centuries of our parliamentary democracy has the House listened to such an address.
‘In a great European capital now within range of Russian guns President Volodymyr Zelensky is standing firm for democracy and for freedom.’
At The Hague, Netherlands, Ukraine pleaded with the International Court of Justice to order a halt to Russia’s invasion, saying Moscow is committing widespread war crimes.
Russia ‘is resorting to tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare, encircling cities, cutting off escape routes and pounding the civilian population with heavy ordnance,’ said Jonathan Gimblett, a member of Ukraine’s legal team.
Russia snubbed the court proceedings, leaving its seats in the Great Hall of Justice empty.
The UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths addressed the Security Council and urged safe passage for people to go ‘in the direction they choose’.
The battle for Mariupol is crucial because its capture could allow Moscow to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.
The fighting has sent energy prices surging worldwide and stocks plummeting, and threatens the food supply and livelihoods of people around the globe who rely on crops farmed in the fertile Black Sea region.
The UN human rights office reported 406 confirmed civilian deaths but said the real number is much higher. The invasion has also sent 1.7 million people fleeing Ukraine.
People walk across a destroyed bridge during the evacuation by civilians of the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv
A Ukrainian soldier helps to carry a child during the evacuation of Irpin, which is under heavy attack by Russian forces
Two men carry a woman as people flee from advancing Russian troops whose attack on Ukraine continues in the town of Irpin
Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls in Irpin
Ukrainian soldiers check documents of men leaving the city of Irpin because those aged between 18 and 60 are banned from leaving, to join the war against Russian forces
Ukrainian soldiers detain a man they think is a Russian spy in the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv
A couple crosses a destroyed bridge during the evacuation by civilians of the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv
Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls
An Ukrainian serviceman holds a grenade launcher as people cross a destroyed bridge as they evacuate the city of Irpin
Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks as snow falls
Russia has now committed all of the forces it massed on the Ukrainian border before the invasion, and has made only limited territorial gains – capturing just one major city, Kherson. Others, including Sumy and Kyiv, are slowly being surrounded but in some places the Ukrainians have managed to thwart Russian attacks or successfully counter-attack
Kyiv claims these are the losses that its forces have inflicted on Russia in the first 12 days of fighting. While Moscow has acknowledged casualties, none of these figures have been verified
Ukrainian servicemen inspect a charred Russian tank that was destroyed on the outskirts of Sumy, eastern Ukraine
A charred Russian tank is seen on the outskirts of Sumy, a city in the east of the country, as Putin’s invading force continues to suffer losses without a significant gain in territory
The burned-out remains of a Russian infantry fighting vehicle are seen on the outskirts of Sumy, where fighting has been ongoing since the first day of the war
A Ukrainian tank is seen next to the ruins of a destroyed Russian tank on the outskirts of Sumy
A destroyed Russian tank is seen by the side of a road in Luhansk, in images captured by Ukrainian soldiers in the region
Ukrainian soldiers in Luhansk, in the country’s east, captured images showing destroyed Russian military vehicles
Russia has today offered to reopen ‘humanitarian corridors’ for civilians to flee besieged cities which has been dismissed as little more than a PR stunt by Kyiv because routes, most of which lead to Russia, have been attacked
A child injured in a Russian airstrike on the city of Sumy overnight, which the major said killed more than 10 people with infants among the dead. Ukraine’s forces say Russia is increasingly resorting to ‘war crimes’ as its invasion slows
Injured in result of shelling civilian woman is seen at a hospital in Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
Smoke rises into the night sky over Sumy, eastern Ukraine, as the besieged city was hit by Russian airstrikes which the mayor said killed more than 10 people including children
Destroyed houses are seen in Sumy, eastern Ukraine, which has come under heavy Russian bombardment even as Moscow offers to open a ‘humanitarian corridor’ – dismissed as a ‘cynical’ stunt by Kyiv
Buildings flattened by Russian artillery are pictured in the city of Sumy, in eastern Ukraine, as Kyiv’s commanders say the invasion has ‘slowed’ with Putin’s men increasingly resorting to ‘war crimes’
Volodymyr Zelensky has openly defied Russian forces trying to encircle Kyiv, posting his location and saying he is ‘not afraid’ of soldiers attacking the Ukrainian capital
On Monday, Moscow again announced a series of demands to stop the invasion, including that Ukraine recognise Crimea as part of Russia and recognise the eastern regions controlled by Moscow-supported separatist fighters as independent. It also insisted that Ukraine change its constitution to guarantee it won’t join international bodies like Nato and the EU. Ukraine has already rejected those demands.
Mr Zelensky has called for more punitive measures against Russia, including a global boycott of its oil exports, which are key to its economy.
‘If (Russia) doesn’t want to abide by civilized rules, then they shouldn’t receive goods and services from civilization,’ he said in a video address.
Addressing the Security Council, the UN’s top humanitarian official Martin Griffiths said civilians must be allowed to leave in the direction they wish.
At least 406 civilians have died since the start of Russia’s assault on its ex-Soviet neighbour, according to the UN, although it believes the real figures to be ‘considerably higher’.
Ukrainian forces said Tuesday they had repulsed a Russian attack on Izium city in the Kharkiv region, and outgunned troops have been trying to hold back a Russian push up from the east and south in an attempt to encircle Kyiv.
Russian forces ‘suffered losses and retreated’ in Izium after they ‘reigned terror in the city by bombing civilian premises and infrastructure,’ the military said.
AFP journalists witnessed thousands of civilians on Monday fleeing fighting via an unofficial escape route from Irpin, a suburb west of Kyiv, towards the capital.
Children and the elderly were carried on carpets used as stretchers on the route, which leads over the makeshift bridge and along a single path secured by the army and volunteers.
Desperate people abandoned pushchairs and heavy suitcases to cram on buses out of the war zone.
‘We had no light at home, no water, we just sat in the basement,’ Inna Scherbanyova, 54, an economist from Irpin, told AFP.
‘Explosions were constantly going off… Near our house there are cars, there were dead people in one of them… very scary.’
Refugees trying to escape the city using agreed escape routes were left stranded as the road they were directed towards was mined, the ICRC said on Monday.
One Ukrainian paratrooper told of ‘hand-to-hand’ combat in Irpin, saying ‘we are trying to push (Russian soldiers) out, but I don’t know if we’ll be fully able to do it’.
An international legion of volunteers has descended on Ukraine to fight the Russians.
Ukrainians pick their way through the rubble of a destroyed street in Kharkiv, in the east of Ukraine, after shelling by Russia
A woman walks past an apartment building hit by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine
A view shows buildings damaged by recent shelling during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Destroyed residential building after shelling is seen in Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
Destroyed after shelling residential building is seen in Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
President Zelensky winks to the camera as he reveals that he is still in Kyiv, while welcoming in the first day of spring
A Russian military vehicle explodes after being struck by Ukrainian artillery near Kyiv, as commanders say Moscow’s forces continue to suffer heavy losses across the country
Ukrainian soldiers keep their spirits up by singing in a trench near Irpin, on the western outskirts of the capital Kyiv
Ukrainian soldiers stand ready to defend against Russian forces in Irpin, Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers take cover from incoming artillery fire in Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv
A Ukrainian soldier takes cover from incoming Russian artillery fire in Irpin, which has been under heavy bombardment
Ukrainian volunteers help remove a dead body as Russian forces continue to besiege residential areas of Irpin, near Kyiv
A pedestrian walks amid debris in a street following a shelling in Ukraine’s second-biggest city of Kharkiv
A member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces looks at destructions following a shelling in Ukraine’s second-biggest city of Kharkiv
Firefighters extinguish a fire of a damaged residential building after Russian troops shelled the area in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv
A rescuer is seen next to a residential building damaged by shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Mykolaiv
The booster section of a Russian Smerch rocket is seen embedded in the side of a car in Kharkiv, Ukraine
Members of Ukrainian military together with other people carry an elderly woman in a wheelchair to cross the destroyed bridge as people flee from the frontline town of Irpin, Kyiv region
Rescuers carry a civilian injured during shelling, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks his plane as he arrives for his visit to Tallinn, Estonia
A burning Russian tank is seen in the midst of night as fighting takes place outside the Ukrainian city of Sumy
Hanna Bespalko, 54, holds the hands of her dead son Denys during his funeral service in the village of Bila Krynytsia, Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers pictured carrying the coffin of 24-year-old Ukrainian soldier Denys Hrynchuk during his funeral in Ukraine
But the Pentagon said Monday that Moscow was on a recruiting mission for its own foreign fighters – Syrians who fought for President Bashar al-Assad.
‘We do believe that the accounts of them – the Russians – seeking Syrian fighters to augment their forces in Ukraine, we believe there’s truth to that,’ Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
The World Bank on Monday approved an additional $489-million package in support for Ukraine, to be made available immediately and dubbed ‘Financing of Recovery from Economic Emergency in Ukraine,’ or ‘FREE Ukraine.’
It came as Zelensky renewed calls for the West to boycott Russian exports, particularly oil, and to impose a no-fly zone to stop the carnage.
NATO countries have so far rebuffed Kyiv’s demand for a no-fly zone, fearing a widening war against nuclear-armed Russia.
Western allies have instead imposed unprecedented sanctions against businesses, banks and billionaires in a bid to pressure Moscow to halt its assault.
But the leaders of Germany, Britain and the Netherlands warned Monday against a ban on Russian oil, saying it could put Europe’s energy security at risk.
US President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman said no decision had been taken, while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak warned any oil ban would have ‘catastrophic consequences’ on prices that have already headed towards a 2008 record high.
Putin has equated sanctions with a declaration of war and put nuclear forces on alert, pledging the ‘neutralisation’ of Ukraine ‘either through negotiation or through war’Despite harsh punishments for those voicing dissent, protests in Russia against the Ukraine invasion have continued, with more than 10,000 people arrested since it began.
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