Thursday, February 24, 2022
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Latest updates on Russia-Ukraine conflict: Russia invades Ukraine in Europe's 'darkest hours' since WWII

Russia stages biggest attack in Europe since WWII; West promises tough sanction; Ukraine says killed 50 troops

Web Desk
A military vehicle is seen on a street on the outskirts of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 23, 2022. -REUTERS
A military vehicle is seen on a street on the outskirts of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 23, 2022. -REUTERS

Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

Ukraine's military said it had destroyed four Russian tanks on a road near Kharkiv, killed 50 troops near a town in Luhansk region and downed six Russian warplanes in the east.

Russian missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities and Ukraine reported columns of troops pouring across its borders into the eastern Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Luhansk regions. Russian troops also landed by sea at the port cities of Odessa and Mariupol in the south.

US President Joe Biden said his prayers were with the people of Ukraine "as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack". He and other Western leaders promised tough sanctions in response.

We are covering the Ukraine crisis live, follow updates here: 

6:35pm: EU tells Belarus to 'not take part' in Russian attack on Ukraine

EU chief Charles Michel on Thursday urged Belarus to "not take part" in Russia's military assault on Ukraine, ahead of an emergency European Union summit to decide new sanctions on Moscow over its invasion.

In an appeal to Belarus and its people during a media conference at NATO headquarters, Michel said: "You have the choice not to follow Russia's destructive action. You have the choice not to take part in this needless tragedy against your neighbours in Ukraine."

6:15pm: Macron vows response 'without weakness' to Russia's 'act of war'

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday warned Russia of an uncompromising response to its attack on Ukraine, which he described as a turning point in European history.

"We will respond without weakness to this act of war, with calm, determination and unity," Macron said in an address to the nation.

He added that the events were a "turning point in the history of Europe and our country" that would have "deep and lasting consequences for our lives".

6:00pm: Stocks slump, oil rips past $100

Oil prices broke above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, stock markets slumped and the rouble hit a record low on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

Markets displayed all the predictable reactions. Europe's stock markets tumbled nearly 4% (.FTEU3) in frenzied selling while top-rated government bonds, the dollar, Swiss franc, Japanese yen and gold all rallied as traders sought out safety. Read more about it here.

5:50pm: Ukraine military plane with 14 aboard crashes near Kyiv: emergency service

A Ukrainian military plane with 14 people aboard crashed south of Kyiv on Thursday, the emergencies service said.

The service said it was "still determining how many people died." The incident occurred about 20 kilometres (12 miles) south of Kyiv, amid reports of several locations around the city coming under attack.

5:40pm — Pakistani embassy in Ukraine in contact with students

The Pakistani Embassy in Ukraine has said it is is in touch with the Pakistani students who could not leave according to the advice given to them earlier.

"They have been asked to go to Ternopil where arrangements for their evacuation will be made as the situation allows," the embassy said.

Separately, Foreign Office spokesperson also shared the contact details of the Pakistani embassy in Ukraine for those Pakistanis stuck in the country. 

5:35pm: Oil tops $100 after Russian assault on Ukraine

World oil prices on Thursday topped $100 for the first time in more than seven years, this time on supply fears after major producer Russia attacked Ukraine.

European benchmark Brent North Sea crude surged more than eight percent to $105.79 per barrel — the highest level since 2014.

US contract West Texas Intermediate reached $100.54 per barrel, also a peak last seen more than seven years ago.

5:10pm: NATO activating 'defence plans' for allies as Russia invades Ukraine

NATO is activating its "defence plans" for allied countries as Russia attacks non-NATO member Ukraine, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg told a media conference on Thursday.

Stoltenberg also confirmed that NATO will hold a video summit on Friday to discuss the Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

And he reiterated that NATO had no "plans" to send alliance troops to Ukraine.

It is the first time the alliance has publicly said it is activating its defence plans, which were drawn up after Russia's 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

5:00pm: South Korea says will join sanctions against Russia

South Korea will join international economic sanctions against Russia over its "armed invasion" of Ukraine, President Moon Jae-in said Thursday.

"The sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine must be guaranteed," Moon said, in a statement issued by Seoul´s presidential Blue House.

South Korea will "support and participate in the efforts of the international community, including economic sanctions", he added, calling Moscow´s military attack on Ukraine an "armed invasion".

4:39pm: Erdogan denounces Russia invasion as 'heavy blow' to peace

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday denounced Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "heavy blow" to regional peace.

"We reject Russia's military operation," Erdogan said in a televised speech, calling it as a "heavy blow to regional peace and stability."

3:56pm: France's Macron calls for NATO summit as soon as possible presidency

French President Emmanuel Macron called Thursday for a NATO summit "as soon as possible" after Russia launched an attack on its neighbour Ukraine, his office said.

"The President wishes for a NATO summit to be held as soon as possible, in coordination with our partners and allies," the presidency said, matching calls from Britain and Poland ahead of a press conference later in the day by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

3:07pm: Ukraine breaks diplomatic ties with Russia

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday broke off Kyiv's diplomatic relations with Moscow in response to Russia's invasion of its Western-backed neighbour.

"We broke off diplomatic relations with Russia," Zelensky said in a video message.

It marked the first rupture in ties since Russia and Ukraine became independent countries after the Soviet Union''s collapse in 1991.

2:55pm: ECB closely monitoring implications of Ukraine invasion statement

The European Central Bank said on Thursday it was monitoring events and the potential impacts for the eurozone economy, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"The ECB is closely monitoring the implications of the situation in Ukraine," the ECB said in a statement.

"It will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the economic outlook at the March meeting" of its policy-setting governing council, the statement said.

3:00pm: More than 40 Ukraine soldiers, nearly 10 civilians killed: presidency 

More than 40 Ukrainian soldiers and around 10 civilians died in the first hours of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters on Thursday.

"I know that more than 40 have been killed and several dozen wounded. I am aware of nearly 10 civilian losses," presidential administration aide Oleksiy Arestovych told reporters.

2:01pm: India embassy in Ukraine says arrangements being made for evacuation

The Indian embassy in Ukraine said on Thursday alternative arrangements were being made to evacuate Indians since the Ukrainian airspace had been closed.

Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation. 

1:58pm: Bitcoin dives to lowest in a month after Russia invades Ukraine, Reuters

Bitcoin tumbled to its lowest in a month on Thursday after Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast, sparking a sell-off of riskier assets.

Bitcoin slumped as much as 7.9% to $34,324, its lowest since Jan. 24, and was last trading down 5.3%. Smaller coins that typically move in tandem with bitcoin also fell, with ether losing as much as 10.8%.

1:52pm: Kyiv says anyone who can hold a weapon can join territorial defence forces, Reuters

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Thursday said that anyone who is ready and able to hold a weapon can join the ranks of the territorial defence forces, as the police said they would distribute weapons to veterans.

Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

1:16pm: Panic in eastern Ukrainian city, more explosions heard - witness

Panic gripped the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Thursday and many people were trying to leave and explosions could be heard from the city, a witness told Reuters by telephone.

The witness, who asked not to be named, said the windows in his apartment block in the city's east had been shaking from the blasts.

1:11pm: Ukraine asked Turkey to close Black Sea waterways to Russia -ambassador

Ukraine has asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships, Ukraine's ambassador to Ankara said on Thursday, after Russia launched air and ground assaults on its neighbour.

The request puts NATO member Turkey, which shares a maritime border with Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and has good relations with both countries, in a difficult position. Under a 1936 pact, Ankara has control over the straits and can limit warship passages during wartime or if threatened.

1:05pm: China calls for restraint as tensions in Ukraine escalate

Chinese FM spokesperson Hua Chunying said Thursday that China is closely following the latest developments and call on all parties to exercise restraint to avoid the situation getting out of control.

12:54pm: France's Macron calls on Russia to end military actions in Ukraine, Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned on Thursday Russia's military actions in Ukraine and called on Moscow to end them immediately.

"France strongly condemns the decision of Russia to start a war with Ukraine. Russia must immediately put an end to its military operations," wrote Macron on his Twitter account.

Latest updates on Russia-Ukraine conflict: Russia invades Ukraine in Europes darkest hours since WWII

12:52pm: Czech ministry says its embassy in Kyiv is temporarily closed

The Czech Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it had temporarily closed the Czech embassy in Ukraine's capital Kyiv due to the significant worsening of the security situation after Russia's invasion.

The ministry said that the Czech consulate in western Ukraine's Lviv was still operating.

12:50pm: Aluminium price hits record high on Ukraine attack

Aluminium on Thursday hit a record-high price after key producer Russia launched a military attack on neighbouring Ukraine.

The industrial lightweight metal jumped as high as $3,382.50 per tonne, beating the previous peak of $3,380.15 reached in July 2008 during the global financial crisis.

Aluminium, used in a variety of items including drinks cans and aircraft components, later pulled back to $3,372.50 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange.

12:41pm: EU chief puts forward "massive" sanctions on Russia for attacking Ukraine

The European Union's chief executive said on Thursday she would present "massive" sanctions to the bloc's national leaders for approval later in the day against Russia for invading Ukraine.

"(Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin is responsible for bringing war back to Europe," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told an emergency announcement after Russia fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its coast.

12:39pm: West will slap unprecedented sanctions on Russia, Britain says

 The West will impose unprecedented sanctions on Russia after President Vladimir Putin authorised an invasion of Ukraine, British junior foreign minister James Cleverly said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

"We will be bringing forward ... in close concert with our international friends and allies, an unprecedented sanctions response, coordinated sanctions response, to punish this appalling decision," Cleverly told Sky News.

12:38pm: Work of Russian ports in the Black Sea continues as usual - source

Operations at Russia's Black Sea ports are continuing as usual, a source at Russia's transport ministry told Reuters on Thursday.

12:20pm: 40 US troops arrive in Latvia, with more to come

Some forty U.S. service members arrived in Latvia from Italy early on Thursday, the first group of what is expected to be a deployment of more than 300 troops, the Latvian Defense Ministry said.

The troops, which will be based at Adazi military base just outside the Latvian capital Riga, arrived around midnight local time, before hostilities began in Ukraine, it added.

12:19pm: ‘Dump-and-run’ at PSX as KSE-100 plunges nearly 1,000 points as Russia invades Ukraine

KARACHI: Investors adopted a dump-and-run approach as the KSE-100 Index plunged nearly 1,000 points or 2.16% in intra-day trading, falling below the 45,000 level with political uncertainty and the Ukraine crisis doing enough to push stocks deep in the red.

The KSE-100 – a benchmark for market performance – underwent selling pressure from the word go, dipping to a low of 44,160.01 points at the time of filing this report with volumes remaining on the lower side. Read more

12:14pm: Russia attack on Ukraine reverberates in energy-rich Gulf, AFP

Dubai: Russia´s assault on Ukraine is reverberating in the energy-rich Gulf, where top oil and gas producers face economic and political dilemmas in easing sky-high prices and alleviating shortages in Europe.

As oil prices broke past $100 per barrel and risks of supply disruptions grew, eyes in Europe were increasingly focusing on oil kingpin Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, one of the biggest natural gas exporters.

And the calculations in Riyadh and Doha are much more nuanced than maximising financial gain from soaring prices, as market constraints and alliances with both the West and Russia are also paramount.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia "are facing a reality in which their main exports are in high demand," Karen Young, director of the Program on Economics and Energy at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told AFP.

12:04pm: Denmark shuts down its embassy in Kyiv

Denmark's foreign ministry said has shut down its embassy in Ukraine capital Kyiv, it said in a notice on its web page on Thursday, citing safety concerns.

11:59am: French President Macron calls on Russia to end immediately military actions in Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned on Thursday Russia's military actions in Ukraine and called on Moscow to end them immediately.

President Vladimir Putin authorised "a special military operation" against Ukraine on Thursday morning to eliminate what he called a serious threat, saying his aim was to demilitarise Russia's southern neighbour. 

11:55am: NATO condemns Russia´s ´reckless and unprovoked´ Ukraine attack, AFP

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday denounced Russia´s "reckless and unprovoked attack" on Ukraine, warning it put "countless" lives in jeopardy.

The ambassadors of the 30-nation alliance were to hold an emergency meeting early Thursday to discuss the Russian attack, with Stoltenberg expected to give a press conference afterwards, a NATO official said separately.

"I strongly condemn Russia´s reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives," Stoltenberg said in a statement.

"Once again, despite our repeated warnings and tireless efforts to engage in diplomacy, Russia has chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country," Stoltenberg said in a statement.

11:53am: Russian attack ´shakes foundation of international order, says Japan PM, AFP

Russia´s attack on Ukraine "shakes the foundation of the international order", Japan´s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday, strongly condemning the military incursion.

"The latest Russian invasion shakes the foundation of the international order, which does not permit unilateral attempts to change the status quo," he told reporters after a meeting of the country´s security council.

"We strongly condemn Russia. We will coordinate efforts with the international community, including the United States, and deal with this swiftly," he added.

11:51am: Russian-backed separatists say they capture two towns in Ukraine's east -RIA

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine said on Thursday they had captured the towns of Shchastia and Stanytsia Luhanska in Ukraine's region of Luhansk, the RIA news agency reported.

There was no immediate comment by authorities in Ukraine.

11:48am: Pakistan's PM Imran Khan to meet Russian President Putin today

Prime Minister Imran Khan will see Russian President Vladimir Putin in a one-on-one three hour long meeting today at 3 pm Pakistan time, amid Ukraine-Russia crisis, Geo News reported. Read more

11:40am: Italy condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine as "unjustifiable" - PM

Italy condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine as "unjustified and unjustifiable" and is working with its European and NATO allies to respond immediately with unity and determination, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

Russian forces fired missiles at several cities in Ukraine and landed troops on its south coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

11:30am: European stock futures plunge 4% after Russian forces invade Ukraine

European stock futures plunged 4% on Thursday as investors dumped riskier assets after Russia attacked Ukraine, raising fears that a war in Europe will fuel higher inflation and derail economic growth.

Futures tracking Europe's top 50 firms STXEc1 plummeted 4.1% by 0630 GMT. Among regional markets, German DAX futures FDXc1 dropped 4.4% and UK's FTSE futures FFIc1 fell 2.4%.

11:29am: Russian forces invade Ukraine with strikes on major cities

Russian forces fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities and landed troops on its south coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

Shortly after Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Gunfire rattled near the capital's main airport, the Interfax news agency said.

11:23am: Ukraine parliament approves presidential decree on martial law

11:22am: Russia says it has taken out infrastructure at Ukraine air bases -reports

Russia's defence ministry said it has taken out military infrastructure at Ukrainian air bases and degraded Ukraine's air defences, Russian news agencies reported.

The Russian ministry denied reports that one of its aircraft had been downed over Ukraine. Ukraine's military said earlier that five Russian planes and one helicopter had been shot down over its Luhansk region.

11:18am: Tokyo´s Nikkei index ends down 1.8% on Ukraine crisis

Tokyo stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday as fears grew of a full-scale war in eastern Europe after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "military operation" in Ukraine, reported AFP

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 1.81 percent or 478.79 points to 25,970.82, while the broader Topix index lost 1.25 percent or 23.50 points to 1,857.58.

11:14am: EU leaders set to discuss further sanctions on Russia at emergency summit, Reuters

European Union leaders will discuss a further sanctions package on Russia at an emergency meeting later on Thursday, the EU said in a statement.

"(European Commission) President (Ursula) von der Leyen will outline a further sanctions package being finalised by the European Commission and which the Council will swiftly adopt," the statement said.

11:12am: Non stop cyber attacks

Ukraine minister says cyber attacks are going on non stop, Reuters reported.

11:05am: 'This is Europe's darkest hour' since World War 2, Belgium's De Croo says

Russia's attack on Ukraine has thrown Europe back into a situation it thought the continent had long overcome, Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Thursday.

"This is Europe's darkest hour since the Second World War," he said on Twitter.

10:59am: Polish PM calls for 'fiercest possible' sanctions on Russia

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called on Thursday for an immediate reaction to Russia's aggression on Ukraine, seeking the "fiercest possible" sanctions.

"We must immediately respond to Russia's criminal aggression on Ukraine," Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

10:54am: Ukraine Interior Ministry Adviser says attacks on residential buildings buildings and civilians infrastructure are not expected. 

Russia's defence ministry said on Thursday that its air strikes on Ukraine were not targeting cities and posed no threat to civilians, the RIA news agency reported.

Ukraine said earlier that at least eight people had been killed and nine wounded by Russian shelling.

10:53am: Biden vows 'severe sanctions' on Russia by U.S., allies for Ukraine attack, Reuters

The United States and its allies will impose "severe sanctions" on Russia after its military forces launched an attack on Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden said after blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and other cities.

10:46am: Ukraine military says Ukrainian Air Defense shot down a Russian plane in Eastern Ukraine, Reuters

Oil breaches $100 for first time since 2014 on Ukraine attacks, Reuters

BEIJING: Oil breached $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014 on Thursday as Russia moved troops into Ukraine, sparking concerns that a war in Europe could disrupt global energy supplies.

Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and is targeting cities with weapons strikes, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet. Read more.

10:40am: Ammunition depot in Kyiv on fire, Reuters

Ukraine state emergency service says ammunition depot in Kyiv region is on fire.

10:34am: Ukrainian president addresses nation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the nation after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this still image taken from video footage released February 24, 2022. 

10:27am: Ukraine military says information about the landing of Russian troops in Odessa is false. 

10:27am: Air Attack on Ukraine 

Ukraine military says Air Force of the armed forces of Ukraine is repelling an air attack by the invader.

10:20am: Germany's Scholz says dark day for Europe after unjustified Russian attack on Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned on Thursday Russia's attack on Ukraine as an unjustified and flagrant breach of international law and said Berlin would consult its partners in the Group of Seven (G7), NATO and the European Union.

"This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe," Scholz said in a statement.

9:58am: Russia has launched a ‘full-scale invasion’ of Ukraine

09:58am: Russian forces invade Ukraine after Putin orders attack

Russian forces fired missiles at several Ukrainian cities and landed troops on its south coast on Thursday, officials and media said, after President Vladimir Putin authorised what he called a special military operation in the east.

Shortly after Putin spoke in a televised address on Russian state TV, explosions could be heard in the pre-dawn quiet of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Gunfire rattled near the capital's main airport, the Interfax news agency said.

"Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

09:53am: UK PM Johnson appalled by events in Ukraine, he says in tweet

09:37am: Artillery fire heard in Donetsk -Reuters witness

Artillery fire was heard on Thursday in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk controlled by Russian-backed separatists, a Reuters witness reported, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine.

09:24am: Biden says US, allies will respond to 'unjustified' attack 

The United States and its allies will respond in a united and decisive way to "an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces" on Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden said after blasts were heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

"President (Vladimir) Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering," Biden said.