Table of Contents
UKRAINE WAR: LATEST
- Russia said it is not willing to negotiate with Ukraine’s government until military operation is over
- Came after Zelensky called for a sit-down with Putin to end the fighting
- Ukraine says Russia has bombed 33 civilian sites in Kyiv in the last 24 hours
- Two children have been reported killed in Kyiv bombing overnight
- Ukraine has banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country to conscript them into armed forces
- Zelensky has allowed anyone of any age to join the armed forces, and called on Europeans from other countries to come and join the fight
- Russia is deploying paratroopers to Chernobyl after capturing it yesterday, Moscow said
- Ukraine reported ‘anomalous’ radiation levels at the plant amid fears nuclear storage was breached in fighting, but Moscow said readings are normal
- Russia claims to have destroyed 118 Ukrainian military sites in 30 hours of fighting
- PM Boris Johnson pledged more support is coming to Ukraine in the coming days
- Johnson shared a phone call with Zelensky on Friday morning
Ukrainian border guards who told a Russian warship to ‘go f*** yourselves’ before they were all blown up in a devastating missile strike have been captured in final footage before the bombs rained down.
The soldiers recorded themselves talking about the projectiles smashing into rocks and the position of the enemy on Snake Island, near Odesa, in the Black Sea.
One said he thought the vessel ‘was trying to scare us’ while the other added ‘nothing was destroyed’ just before they were bombarded and died.
Audio last night emerged of the tiny contingent of ‘hero’ troops facing down the huge Russian warship, with a radio chat between them showing the men refusing to surrender to Vladimir Putin’s forces.
The soldiers were told by an officer on the warship: ‘This is Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed.’
But the Ukrainians – reportedly 13 – defiantly refused to give up the territory, with one of them hitting back: ‘Go f**k yourselves!’
The Russian soldiers muttered the curse back over the radio before annihilating the tiny group of men, with their deaths later acknowledge by Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Elsewhere in the crisis:
- Russia said that it is not willing to negotiate with Ukraine’s government until its military operation is over;
- Ukraine officials claimed Russia had bombed 33 civilian sites in the capital of Kyiv over the last 24 hours;
- Two children were reported killed in Kyiv bombing overnight while hundreds of thousands are displaced;
- Ukraine has now banned men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country to conscript them into armed forces;
- Russia is deploying paratroopers to Chernobyl after capturing it yesterday, Moscow said in an update.
All Ukrainian border guards manning a tiny island in the Black Sea near Romania were killed on Thursday after telling a Russian warship to ‘go f*** yourselves’ when they were told to surrender
The small contingent of soldiers, allegedly 13 in number, were posted on Snake Island in the Odesa region and were defending the territory after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The island is ruled by Ukraine but sits just miles from the coast of NATO member Romania
All Ukrainian border guards manning the tiny Snake Island in the Black Sea near Romania were killed on Thursday after telling a Russian warship to ‘go f*** yourselves’ when they were ordered to surrender
Firefighters work at a damaged residential building at Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where a military shell allegedly hit, on February 25, 2022
Fire fighters are seen responding to a blaze at a residential building in Kyiv in the early hours of Friday
The Kyiv apartment block is seen ablaze on Friday morning. It is unclear what caused the fire
Kyiv was ablaze in the early hours of Friday as the city came under attack from Russia. Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashenko shared footage on social media of a blaze in what he said was the Darnitsky district of Kyiv, in the southeast of the city on the left bank of the Dnipro river
Russian ships blockade the Kerch Strait: Putin has ordered the Russian navy to conduct a ‘special anti-terror operation’ in the Azov Sea, shutting off a vital maritime trade route into Ukraine
The new video captured the final moments of the tiny Ukrainian force on Snake Island, which is near NATO member Romania.
In the final moments before the bloodbath, border guards are seen on the video as the Russian warship fires at rocks.
One says: ‘They struck there and also there [with their missiles]. They try to scare us, or what…? So far nothing is destroyed. Cannot understand what they’re doing, most likely trying to scare us. They strike the rocks.’
Ukraine’s interior ministry later said Snake Island, which is also called Zmiinyi, had been attacked by Russian forces and confirmed the men had been killed. Russia said it had seized the land.
The island had been ruled by Ukraine but sits just miles from the coast of Romania. It is strategically important because it will allow Russia to claim territorial waters stretching 12 nautical miles out to sea.
Russian tanks will hit Kyiv TODAY as the war enters ‘its hardest day’, official warns, with troops already fighting on outskirts. US intel warns of plan to fly in 10,000 paratroopers and ‘decapitate’ government
Russian troops will arrive in Kyiv today and are now fighting just 20 miles from the outskirts, an official has said, as US intelligence warned of a plan to seize an airport, fly in troops, and ‘decapitate’ the government.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the country’s interior minister, said Friday will be the war’s ‘hardest day’ as Russia armour pushes down from Chernihiv – to the north-east of the capital – and Ivankiv – to the north-west – in an attempt to encircle the city, where President Volodymyr Zelensky is still holed up.
Once the city is surrounded, US intelligence believes the plan will be for Russian special forces to move in and seize an airport – likely Sikorsky or Boryspil – which would then be used to fly in a much larger force of up to 10,000 paratroopers who would assault the capital.
The job of the paratroopers would be to enter the city, find Zelensky, his ministers, and parliamentarians, before forcing them to sign a peace deal handing control of the country back to Russia or a Moscow-backed puppet regime – effectively ending the war without Putin’s ground forces going to the difficult and bloody trouble of seizing and occupying the whole country.
It appears the Russians almost pulled off the plan on Day 1 of the invasion when 20 attack helicopters landed a crack team of troops at Antonov Airport, 15 miles to the north of Kyiv, where they spent the day fighting.
But Ukrainian national guard units managed to retake the landing strip overnight, scattering the surviving Russian attackers into the surrounding countryside.
The Russian attack on the capital would likely be coordinated with a push by troops on southern and eastern fronts – Crimea and Donbass – aimed at pinning down Ukrainian armed forces so they cannot retreat and reinforce the city, officials told author Michael Weiss.
It may also be accompanied by bombing raids and sabotage attacks on power grids and infrastructure to sow panic and force people to flee, snarling up roads and making it difficult for forces already in Kyiv to move around.
They cover important shipping channels to the port cities of Odessa, Mykolaiv and Kherson.
After taking the island, Russia would have been able to cut off the shipping channels, isolating Ukraine from international markets and depriving its economy of vital trade revenues as it seeks to defend itself.
Russia is pressing its invasion of Ukraine to the outskirts of the capital today after unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks from three sides in an attack that could rewrite the global post-Cold War security order.
Explosions sounded before dawn in Kyiv as Western leaders scheduled an emergency meeting and Ukraine’s president pleaded for international help.
The nature of the explosions was not immediately clear, but the blasts came amid signs that the capital and largest Ukrainian city was increasingly threatened following a day of fighting that left more than 100 Ukrainians dead.
Zelenskyy said the government had information that ‘subversive groups’ were encroaching on the city, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Kyiv ‘could well be under siege’ in what US officials believe is a brazen attempt by Putin to install a puppet regime.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers on a phone call that Russian mechanized forces that entered from Belarus were about 20 miles from Kyiv, according to a person familiar with the call.
The assault, anticipated for weeks by the US and Western allies and undertaken by Putin in the face of international condemnation and cascading sanctions, amounts to the largest ground war in Europe since World War II.
Russian missiles bombarded cities and military bases in the first day of the attack, and Ukraine officials said they had lost control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Civilians piled into trains and cars to flee.
Ukraine’s capital was under bombardment in the early hours of Friday, with the skies ablaze as Putin’s tanks moved to within 20 miles of Kyiv.
Ukraine’s deputy defense ministry said that one missile was shot out of the sky by their anti-missile defense systems. Another missile struck a residential building in the city, the government said.
Ukraine has 125 combat-capable aircraft, including 4th-generation fighter workhorses Sukhoi Su‑27 and Mikoyan MiG‑29, according to Military Balance 2021. Russia has more than 1,500 fighter jets.
Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashenko shared footage on social media of a blaze in what he said was the Darnitsky district of Kyiv, in the southeast of the city on the left bank of the Dnipro river. It was unclear whether the Darnitsky fire was caused by the downed Ukrainian jet, or the Russian missiles.
Hours earlier, Zelenskyy raged at Western ‘cowards’ who failed to come to his aid, saying his country is being ‘left alone’ to face Russian troops. Officials warn that Kyiv will be seized this weekend.
In a video address to his nation after midnight, the president called his fallen compatriots ‘heroes’ after 137 were killed on the first day of fighting, and insisted he will stay until the bitter end.
He said: ‘They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven. We have been left alone to defend our state. Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone.
‘Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid.’
He added that the enemy has already entered Kyiv and urged residents to be vigilant and observe curfew rules, acknowledging he was ‘target number one’.
As explosions sounded in Kyiv early Friday, guests of a hotel were directed to a makeshift basement shelter. Air raid sirens also went off.
‘Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom,’ Zelenskyy tweeted.
His grasp on power increasingly tenuous, he called Thursday for even more severe sanctions than the ones imposed by Western allies and ordered a full military mobilization that would last 90 days.
EU blocks our bid to punish Russia: Anger as union refuses to kick Moscow out of global bank payment system while West imposes sanctions over Ukraine war
The European Union faced an angry backlash last night after frustrating British efforts to kick Russia out of the world’s biggest financial payments system.
In a call with G7 leaders yesterday, Boris Johnson pressed the case for suspending Russia from Swift, which is used to conduct about half of its international trade.
But the move was kicked into the long grass because of opposition from a number of EU countries.
Ukraine yesterday urged the West to trigger the move, with foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warning that those who refused would have ‘blood on their hands’.
Downing Street yesterday declined to comment on which countries had opposed the move.
But Joe Biden last night indicated the opposition had come from EU states. Asked whether Russia should be cut off from Swift, the US President said: ‘It is always an option but right now that’s not a position that the rest of Europe wishes to take.’
The Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is a mechanism for making secure payments overseas and is widely used in international trade.
Zelenskyy said in a video address that 137 ‘heroes’, including 10 military officers, had been killed and 316 people wounded. The dead included border guards on the Zmiinyi Island in the Odesa region, which was taken over by Russians.
He concluded an emotional speech by saying that ‘the fate of the country depends fully on our army, security forces, all of our defenders’. He also said the country had heard from Moscow that ‘they want to talk about Ukraine’s neutral status’.
Biden was to meet Friday morning with fellow leaders of NATO governments in what the White House described as an ‘extraordinary virtual summit’ to discuss Ukraine.
Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, saying Putin ‘chose this war’ and had exhibited a ‘sinister’ view of the world in which nations take what they want by force. Other nations also announced sanctions, or said they would shortly.
‘It was always about naked aggression, about Putin’s desire for empire by any means necessary – by bullying Russia’s neighbors through coercion and corruption, by changing borders by force, and, ultimately, by choosing a war without a cause,’ Biden said.
Blinken said in television interviews that he was convinced that Russia was intent on overthrowing the Ukrainian government, telling CBS that Putin wants to ‘reconstitute the Soviet empire’ and that Kyiv was already ‘under threat, and it could well be under siege’.
Fearing a Russian attack on the capital city, thousands of people went deep underground as night fell, jamming Kyiv’s subway stations.
At times it felt almost cheerful. Families ate dinner. Children played. Adults chatted. People brought sleeping bags or dogs or crossword puzzles – anything to alleviate the waiting and the long night ahead.
But the exhaustion was clear on many faces. And the worries.
‘Nobody believed that this war would start and that they would take Kyiv directly,’ said Anton Mironov, waiting out the night in one of the old Soviet metro stations. ‘I feel mostly fatigue. None of it feels real.’
The invasion began early Thursday with a series of missile strikes, many on key government and military installations, quickly followed by a three-pronged ground assault.
Ukrainian and US officials said Russian forces were attacking from the east toward Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city; from the southern region of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014; and from Belarus to the north.
The Ukrainian military on Friday reported significant fighting in the area of Ivankiv, about 40 miles northwest of Kyiv, as Russian forces apparently tried to advance on the capital from the north. It said one bridge across a small river had been destroyed.
‘The hardest day will be today. The enemy’s plan is to break through with tank columns from the side of Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv. Russian tanks burn perfectly when hit by our ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles),’ Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.
Zelenskyy, who had earlier cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law, appealed to global leaders, saying that ‘if you don’t help us now, if you fail to offer a powerful assistance to Ukraine, tomorrow the war will knock on your door’.
Though Biden said he had no plans to speak with Putin, the Russian leader did have what the Kremlin described as a ‘serious and frank exchange’ with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Both sides claimed to have destroyed some of the other’s aircraft and military hardware, though little of that could be confirmed.
Hours after the invasion began, Russian forces seized control of the now-unused Chernobyl plant and its surrounding exclusion zone after a fierce battle, presidential adviser Myhailo Podolyak told The Associated Press.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it was told by Ukraine of the takeover, adding that there had been ‘no casualties or destruction at the industrial site’.
The 1986 disaster occurred when a nuclear reactor at the plant 80 miles north of Kyiv exploded, sending a radioactive cloud across Europe. The damaged reactor was later covered by a protective shell to prevent leaks.
Alyona Shevtsova, adviser to the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, wrote on Facebook that staff members at the Chernobyl plant had been ‘taken hostage’. The White House said it was ‘outraged’ by reports of the detentions.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense issued an update saying that though the plant was ‘likely captured’, the country’s forces had halted Russia’s advance toward Chernihiv and that it was unlikely that Russia had achieved its planned Day One military objectives.
The chief of the NATO alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said the ‘brutal act of war’ shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders decrying an attack that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Smoldering wreckage of a Russian jet is seen in Kyiv on Friday morning
The jet landed in Kyiv, shot down by a Ukrainian missile
People gathering in an air raid shelter in capital city Kyiv, Ukraine, February 24, 2022
A Russian T-72 tank is pictured sitting in front of the main reactor at Chernobyl after Putin’s forces seized it in a ‘fierce’ battle with the condition of nuclear storage facilities ‘unknown’
Russian Mi-8 attack helicopters stage an assault on Gostomel air base, just on the outskirts of Kyiv, after Vladimir Putin launched an all-out attack on the country
A huge explosion is seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country comes under all-out attack by Russia
Biden warns Putin that the US will be ‘involved’ if he moves into NATO countries as Ukraine hands out 10,000 assault rifles to citizens: President still insists he won’t send American forces into Kyiv – but deploys 7,000 to Germany
President Joe Biden on Thursday warned Vladimir Putin that U.S. forces will defend NATO territory if he broadens his assault beyond Ukraine, and said he was ordering more troops to Europe.
Soon after he spoke the Pentagon said 7000 extra personnel and hardware were being deployed to Germany.
In a White House speech, Biden slapped a new round of sanctions on Russia and promised that Putin’s country would bear the consequences of his aggression against Ukraine.
He said American forces would not engage with Russian troops in Ukraine.
‘Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east,’ he said.
‘As I made crystal clear, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power.’
In a question-and-answer session with reporters, he was asked if that meant American soldiers would fight if Russia attacked NATO territory.
‘If he did move into NATO countries we will be involved,’ he said. ‘We will be involved.’
The conflict shook global financial markets: Stocks plunged and oil prices soared amid concerns that heating bills and food prices would skyrocket.
Condemnation came not only from the US and Europe, but from South Korea, Australia and beyond – and many governments readied new sanctions. Even friendly leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban sought to distance themselves from Putin.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he aimed to cut off Russia from the UK’s financial markets as he announced sanctions, freezing the assets of all large Russian banks and planning to bar Russian companies and the Kremlin from raising money on British markets.
‘Now we see him for what he is – a bloodstained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest,’ Johnson said of Putin.
The US sanctions will target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies and high-tech sectors, Biden said, but they were designed not to disrupt global energy markets. Russian oil and natural gas exports are vital energy sources for Europe.
Zelenskyy urged the US and West to go further and cut the Russians from the SWIFT system, a key financial network that connects thousands of banks around the world. The White House has been reluctant to immediately cut Russia from SWIFT, worried it could cause enormous economic problems in Europe and elsewhere in the West.
While some nervous Europeans speculated about a possible new world war, the U.S. and its NATO partners have shown no indication they would send troops into Ukraine, fearing a larger conflict. NATO reinforced its members in Eastern Europe as a precaution, and Biden said the US was deploying additional forces to Germany to bolster NATO.
European authorities declared the country’s airspace an active conflict zone.
After weeks of denying plans to invade, Putin launched the operation on a country the size of Texas that has increasingly tilted toward the democratic West and away from Moscow’s sway.
The autocratic leader made clear earlier this week that he sees no reason for Ukraine to exist, raising fears of possible broader conflict in the vast space that the Soviet Union once ruled. Putin denied plans to occupy Ukraine, but his ultimate goals remain hazy.
Ukrainians were urged to shelter in place and not to panic.
‘Until the very last moment, I didn’t believe it would happen. I just pushed away these thoughts,’ said a terrified Anna Dovnya in Kyiv, watching soldiers and police remove shrapnel from an exploded shell. ‘We have lost all faith.’
With social media amplifying a torrent of military claims and counter-claims, it was difficult to determine exactly what was happening on the ground.
Russia and Ukraine made competing claims about damage they had inflicted. Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had destroyed scores of Ukrainian air bases, military facilities and drones. It confirmed the loss of one of its Su-25 attack jets, blaming ‘pilot error’, and said an An-26 transport plane had crashed because of technical failure, killing the entire crew. It did not say how many were aboard.
Russia said it was not targeting cities, but journalists saw destruction in many civilian areas.
Meanwhile Turkey reported that one of its ships had been hit by a ‘bomb’ off the coast of Odessa, where fighting is also going on. Turkey is a member of NATO, underlining fears that the war in Ukraine could quickly suck in other states and spark an all-out conflict in Europe.
Speaking after the latest developments, Biden announced more sanctions against Russia but admitted that he had not expected previous threats of financial penalties to deter Putin.
Blinken says Putin has set his sights BEYOND Ukraine as Russian artillery is seen massing on Polish border with Belarus: Claims he’s ‘convinced’ Kremlin wants regime change Kyiv
Vladimir Putin may not stop once he has taken Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has warned, as satellite images show Russia assembling troops, armor and artillery along Belarus’s border with Poland.
The massive buildup was spotted in the Belarus city of Brest, just 10 miles east of the the Polish border.
‘Russia has assembled troops, armor, artillery, and more than 50 heavy equipment transporters at a training area in Brest, the Polish border. Russia has also added more equipment at a nearby railyard in Belarus,’ said reporter Jack Detsch, a Pentagon and national security correspondent at Foreign Policy magazine.
Blinken was asked by ABC News on Thursday night whether he felt the Russian president would recall his forces once Ukraine was conquered.
‘Is it a possibility that Putin goes beyond Ukraine? Sure, it’s a possibility,’ Blinken told host David Muir.
But he stressed that progressing beyond Ukraine into neighboring Poland, Slovakia, Hungary or Romania would mean invading a NATO member country, and would automatically draw in the US, UK, France, Canada and the other nations that form the 30-country alliance.
‘There is something very powerful standing in the way of that, and it’s something we call Article Five,’ said Blinken.
He also resisted calls to send in US troops to Ukraine, saying he has no plans to speak to the Russian leader who he accuses of trying to rebuild a Soviet empire.
The sanctions will target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies and high-tech sectors, but Russian oil and natural gas were exempt in a bid to avoid disruption to global markets.
‘Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House.
Elsewhere, Kyiv ordered civilians into bomb shelters and declared a curfew amid concerns Russia is about to strike the capital as Ukrainian troops lost control of a key airfield around 15 miles away. Russian forces had attacked it with around two dozen attack helicopters earlier in the day, four of which are thought to have been shot down.
The Ukrainian army was yesterday fighting in almost every region of the country, battling the Russians for control of military bases, airports, cities and ports from Kharkiv to Kyiv, and Donetsk to Odessa.
Putin personally gave the order to attack around 5am on Thursday, unleashing a salvo of rocket fire that American intelligence said involved more than 100 short and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, and 75 bombers that targeted military sites including barracks, warehouses and airfields in order to knock out the country’s military command structure.
Russia said the strikes destroyed 74 Ukrainian military ground facilities, 11 airfields, three command posts and 18 radar stations controlling Kyiv’s anti-aircraft batteries.
That was followed by attacks from Crimea in the south towards the city of Kherson, a northern advance from Belarus to Kyiv, and an eastern advance from Belgorod towards Kharkiv where the heaviest fighting is going on.
American officials said this was merely an ‘initial phase’ of the attack, and that the majority of Russia’s 190,000 troops at the front remain in reserve. The goal of the attack is to ‘take key population centres’ and ‘decapitate the Ukrainian government’, the officials added.
Ukraine’s health ministry said so far 137 people have been killed on the first day of conflict, while 300 have been wounded.
The port cities of Mariupol and Odessa, where Ukraine’s main naval bases are located, were also attacked – though Odessa appeared to remain under Ukrainian control as of Thursday afternoon. Russian tankers blockaded the Kerch Strait, leading from the Back Sea to the Sea of Azov, cutting off Mariupol.
Ukraine has hit back, shooting down five Russian helicopters, destroying dozens of tanks and capturing Russian troops.
A Russian AN-26 military transport aircraft also crashed in the southern Voronezh region, killing its crew on board.
The accident could have been caused by a technical failure and has not inflicted any damage on the ground, Interfax said, citing a press office of Russia’s western military district.
In the address to his nation, Zelensky also described Russia as ‘evil’ and said Putin had attacked ‘like a suicidal scoundrel… just as Fascist Germany did in World War II’.
He had earlier called on all Ukrainian citizens willing to defend their homeland to step forward, saying guns will be issued to everyone who wants one.
He also asked for civilians to give blood to help wounded troops. And he asked world leaders to impose the ‘harshest sanctions possible’ on Putin.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, addressing the nation at midday, said western allies are preparing a ‘massive’ package of sanctions against Russia and told the people of Ukraine: ‘We cannot and will not just look away.’ Johnson referred to Putin as a ‘dictator’ who would never ‘subdue the national feeling of the Ukrainians’.
As the West prepared to cut off Russia financially, Putin summoned his oligarchs to demand loyalty over his attack on Ukraine – perhaps fearing a rebellion from within after prominent Russian TV figures and celebrities spoke out to oppose the conflict.
Speaking in the Kremlin, he said that Russia had been ‘forced’ to take action over Ukraine and had ‘no other choice’ but to attack, saying the country remains ‘part of the global economy’ and that he ‘will not hurt the system we belong to’. ‘I want you to show solidarity with the government,’ he told them.