Russian invasion of Ukraine

October 18, 2023 | 10:13am
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Russian invasion of Ukraine
October 18, 2023

Washington's decision to supply Ukraine with ATACMS long-range missiles is "a grave mistake", Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov says Wednesday.

"The White House's decision to send long-range missiles to Ukrainians is a grave mistake. The consequences of this step, which was deliberately hidden from the public, will be of the most serious nature," he says in a statement. — AFP

October 15, 2023

President Vladimir Putin says Sunday that Russian forces had made gains in their Ukraine offensive including in Avdiivka, a symbolic industrial hub.

"Our troops are improving their position in almost all of this area, which is quite vast," he says in an interview on Russian television, an extract of which was posted on social media on Sunday. "This concerns the areas of Kupiansk, Zaporizhia and Avdiivka." — AFP

October 12, 2023

The regional governor says debris from a drone destroyed over the Russian region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, fell on homes and killed three people, including a young child.

The air defense system "shot down an aircraft-type UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) approaching the city", says Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, adding that the falling debris destroyed several homes.

"Most importantly, three people were killed, one of them a small child," he writes on the Telegram messaging app, accompanied by pictures of a house reduced to a pile of rubble behind red and white police tape. — AFP

October 10, 2023

Ukraine's air force says on Tuesday that it had destroyed 27 of 36 Russian attack drones overnight in the south of the country.

Ukrainian forces downed 27 "Shahed-136/131" drones in the southern Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions, the air force said on the messaging platform Telegram.

In all, Moscow had launched 36 of the Iranian-made drones from the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014, it says. — AFP

October 6, 2023

The Kremlin claims on Friday Russian forces never targeted civilian infrastructure after Ukraine blamed Moscow for a missile attack that killed over 50 people in the eastern village of Groza.

"We repeat that the Russian military does not strike civilian targets. Strikes are carried out on military targets, on places where military personnel are concentrated," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says in his daily briefing. — AFP

October 6, 2023

A Russian strike killed at least 51 people gathered for a wake in northeastern Ukraine, provoking outrage from Western leaders for what the UN warned could be a war crime.

The mourners for a fallen Ukrainian soldier had gathered at a cafe in the village of Groza, in the Kharkiv region.

People who had been in a shop in the same building were also killed in the attack on the small village, which had a population of 330 people. — AFP

September 30, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky opens Kyiv's first International Defense Industries Forum, in a bid to attract more manufacturers to build arms in Ukraine.

Kyiv has depended heavily on Western aid since Russia invaded last year, but is increasingly seeking to bolster its domestic arms industry amid fears support from its allies may waver.

"Our first task is to win this war and return a lasting and, most importantly, reliable peace to our people. We will accomplish this task through our cooperation with you," Zelensky says in a speech at the opening. — AFP

September 29, 2023

Russia claims on Friday that it had destroyed 11 Ukrainian drones overnight, though one UAV dropped explosives on a substation, cutting the local power supply, a regional governor said.

"Eleven Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed by air defence systems on duty, one of them over the territory of Kaluga region and 10 over Kursk region," Russia's defense ministry says on the messaging platform Telegram.

Kursk governor Roman Starovoyt said that the region bordering eastern Ukraine was "massively attacked" by Ukrainian UAVs. — AFP

September 21, 2023

Russia says that it had destroyed 19 Ukrainian drones overnight above the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula and the surrounding Black Sea, plus three others elsewhere.

"Air defense systems destroyed 19 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over the Black Sea and the territory of the Republic of Crimea, and one each over the territories of Kursk, Belgorod and Oryol regions," the defense ministry says on messaging platform Telegram. — AFP

September 20, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a wartime trip to the United Nations urges the world to stand firm against Russia's "genocide," as he tries to convince skeptical developing nations they share a stake in Kyiv's victory.

Taking the rostrum of the UN General Assembly in his trademark military fatigues, Zelensky renewed an invitation for world leaders to join a "peace summit" to end the invasion.

"For the first time in modern history, we have the chance to end the aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked," Zelensky says in a speech met with applause led by Western nations but many empty seats elsewhere. — AFP

September 19, 2023

Ukraine says the International Court of Justice should impose reparations on Russia for its "war of annihilation", arguing that international law itself was at stake.

"Russia is not above the law. It must be held accountable," Ukraine's lead speaker Anton Korynevych tells the court, sitting just a few metres from his Russian opponents in the Peace Palace in The Hague.

"You have the power to declare that Russia's actions are unlawful, that its continued abuses must stop, that your orders must be followed and that Russia must make reparations," he tells the judges. — AFP

September 19, 2023

Kyiv says its forces had broken through Russia's defensive lines near the war-battered town of Bakhmut in the slow-moving but high-stakes Ukrainian counteroffensive, ahead of President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the UN General Assembly. 

Zelensky arrived in New York on Monday -- his second visit to the United States since Moscow's invasion launched in February last year -- ahead of addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday and meeting with his US counterpart Joe Biden. 

"I will thank the US for its leadership in supporting our struggle for freedom and independence," Zelensky says on X, formerly Twitter. — AFP

September 17, 2023

Russia denies its forces had been pushed out of the frontline village of Andriivka, near Bakhmut, a day after Ukraine said it had "liberated" it, inflicting heavy losses.

Andriivka is around 14 kilometres (nine miles) south of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, where Kyiv has been pushing back against Moscow's forces since June.

Ukraine's General Staff said Friday that the village was back under Ukrainian control. — AFP

September 16, 2023

More than 140 world leaders will head to the United Nations next week at a time of myriad crises, as a starring role for Ukraine's leader may only highlight the growing global fragmentation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who a year ago was obliged to appear virtually, will join leaders including President Joe Biden when the UN General Assembly formally opens Tuesday as he seeks to rally support against Russia's bloody invasion.

But while Western powers have rallied behind Ukraine, the war has laid bare deep divisions, with some developing countries uneasy about the billions of dollars devoted to Kyiv, even as the war also affects the poor by driving up food prices. -- AFP

September 15, 2023

Ukraine's armed forces Friday say the village of Andriivka near the key frontline town of Bakhmut had been "liberated", a day after claims it had been retaken were dubbed premature.

But Ukraine's General Staff said Friday that the village was back under Ukrainian control.

"In the direction of Bakhmut, the enemy does not stop trying to break through the defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the area of Bogdanivka," it says on Facebook. — AFP

September 9, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia was hoping the upcoming US presidential elections would lower Washington's support for Kyiv.

The leader of the war-torn country also said he was prepared to hold elections despite potential ongoing combat. 

"(Russians) are counting on the American elections... although we have mutual support, bipartisan," Zelensky says in a meeting in Kyiv. — AFP

September 7, 2023

The regional governor says Russian drones attacked the district encompassing Ukraine's Danube river port of Izmail for the fourth time in five days.

Following the collapse of the deal allowing grain shipments from Black Sea ports, Russia has ramped up attacks on Ukraine's southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions, home to ports and infrastructure vital for agriculture exports.

The latest overnight attack, using Iranian-made Shahed drones, lasted three hours, Odesa regional governor Oleg Kiper said on Telegram. — AFP

September 4, 2023

The local governor says Ukrainian forces downed 17 Russian drones over the southern Odesa region, adding that strikes caused damage in a district on the Danube river that borders Romania.

"17 drones were shot down by our air defense forces," Oleg Kiper writes on Telegram. "But, unfortunately, there are also hits. In several settlements of Izmail district, warehouses and production buildings, agricultural machinery and equipment of industrial enterprises were damaged." — AFP

September 3, 2023

Ukraine's air force says on Sunday it had destroyed 22 Russian drones in an overnight attack on the southern Odesa region.

Russia "launched several waves of attacks by 'Shahed-136/131' (unmanned aerial vehicles) from the south and southeast", Ukraine's Air Force writes on Telegram.

A total of 25 Iranian-made Shahed attack drones had been launched and "22 of them were destroyed by... the Air Force in cooperation with the air defence of other components of the Defense Forces of Ukraine", it says. — AFP

August 31, 2023

State investigators say six Ukrainian soldiers were killed when two military helicopters crashed on a combat mission in the country's east.

The crashes took place Tuesday in the Kramatorsk district of the eastern Donetsk region. the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) did not give details on what happened.

"Two Mi-8 military helicopters crashed during a combat mission. Six servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine died," the SBI says in a statement. — AFP

August 30, 2023

The local military administration says two people were killed by falling debris after a missile strike on Kyiv.

"As a result of debris falling in Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv... 2 people died, according to initial reports," Sergiy Popko, head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, writes on Telegram.

Another person was injured and was being given medical assistance, he says. — AFP

August 29, 2023

Russia accuses a former US consulate employee of illegally passing data about the Ukraine conflict to American diplomats, drawing a protest from Washington which has called his activities routine.

The Russian Security Service (FSB) also announced it was seeking to question two US diplomats at the embassy in Moscow over the case, in a break from diplomatic tradition.

The announcement is the latest in a series of diplomatic spats building pressure on strained ties between Moscow and Washington, particularly over the conflict in Ukraine. — AFP

August 26, 2023

The city's mayor Sergei Sobyanin says Russian air defenses destroyed a drone as it approached Moscow.

"Tonight, air defense forces destroyed a drone on approach to Moscow in the Istrinskii district," Sobyanin writes on Telegram.

"Preliminarily, there were no casualties or damage. Emergency services are working on the site," he adds. — AFP

August 22, 2023

Moscow says Tuesday it destroyed a Ukrainian military reconnaissance vessel near Russian gas infrastructure in the Black Sea, in the latest clash in the waterway since Moscow's withdrawal from a major grain export deal.

Attacks by both sides have escalated in the Black Sea since Russia in July pulled out of the United Nations-brokered deal that allowed the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the shipping hub.

Russia has bombed Ukrainian port infrastructure in sea and on the Danube, while Ukraine has attacked Russian ships in its waters and the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014.  — AFP

August 20, 2023

Russia said it had thwarted Ukrainian drone attacks on Moscow and its region on Sunday, the second such incident in two days as Kyiv presses ahead with a counteroffensive.

"At around 4:00 am (0100 GMT), an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack by drone on infrastructure in Moscow and the Moscow region was thwarted," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement, adding there were no victims or damage. —  AFP

August 20, 2023

A Ukrainian drone attack hit a train station in the western Russian city of Kursk, injuring five people, the regional governor said early Sunday.

"A Ukrainian drone attack in Kursk," Roman Starovoyt said on Telegram.

"According to preliminary information, it crashed into the roof of the railway station building, after which a fire broke out on the roof."

"Five people were slightly injured by glass fragments," he added, saying emergency services were on the scene. — AFP

August 19, 2023

Local authorities say Russia on Saturday shelled the centre of the north Ukrainian city Chernihiv, spared from large-scale attacks since the first months of Moscow's invasion last year.

Chernihiv lies some 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Kyiv towards the border with Moscow-allied Belarus. 

"The enemy shelled the centre of Chernihiv. Preliminarily, a ballistic missile," the head of the Chernihiv region, Vyacheslav Chaus, says on Telegram. "Stay in hiding places. Details afterwards."  — AFP

August 19, 2023

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the commander of Moscow's Ukraine offensive in an army HQ in the southern Russia city of Rostov-on-Don.

Moscow gave no details on when the meeting took place but footage released by state media indicated it was at night. 

The Russian leader met the generals after the US approved the transfer of Dutch and Danish F-16s to Kyiv. 

August 17, 2023

Kyiv says a civilian cargo vessel had exited its southern port of Odesa despite warnings from Russia that its navy could target ships using Ukraine's Black Sea export hubs. 

The announcement, which raises the spectre of a standoff with Russian warships, came hours after Ukraine said it had liberated a village as part of a grinding push against Moscow's forces along the southern front.        

Russia issued its maritime threat after scuppering a key deal last month brokered by the UN and Turkey, which guaranteed safe passage for grain shipments from three Ukrainian ports. — AFP

August 16, 2023

Russia's defense ministry says Wednesday it shot down three Ukrainian drones southwest of Moscow, the latest in a surge of aerial attacks near the capital.

Ukraine launched the attack at 5:00 am (0200 GMT) using "three unmanned aerial vehicles on objects in the Kaluga region", the ministry says on Telegram.

"All UAVs were detected and destroyed in a timely manner by Russian air defence systems." — AFP

August 15, 2023

Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu says Tuesday that Ukraine's military resources were "almost exhausted", as Kyiv wages a gruelling counter offensive to recapture lost territory.

"Despite comprehensive assistance from the West, Ukraine's armed forces are unable to achieve results," Shoigu says at a security conference in Moscow.

"Preliminary results of the hostilities show that Ukraine's military resources are almost exhausted," he says. — AFP

August 15, 2023

Three people were killed in the city of Lutsk after air strikes hit western Ukraine overnight, local officials say early on Tuesday.

Lutsk, which had a pre-war population of over 200,000, is less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Ukraine's border with Poland.

Lutsk mayor Igor Polishchuk said on Telegram that "there are three dead and three wounded", adding that emergency services were on site.

Regional governor Yuriy Poguliaiko said earlier Tuesday that air defence forces had repelled overnight air attacks. —Agence France-Presse

August 13, 2023

Russian forces has killed six including infant in southern Ukraine, an official says. — AFP

August 12, 2023

An official says Saturday that Russia air defense forces shot down two Ukrainian missiles over a bridge connecting Moscow-annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland.

"Air defense forces shot down two enemy missiles over the Kerch Strait. The Crimean bridge was not damaged," Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of the Crimean peninsula, says on social media.

He urges locals to remain calm. — AFP

August 12, 2023

Russia says it had improved its fighting positions around the northeast Ukraine town of Kupiansk, where its advance has prompted Ukrainian officials to urge residents to evacuate.

Moscow also launched a volley of hypersonic missiles at western Ukraine, killing an eight-year-old boy in a part of the country largely spared from attacks. 

Kupiansk and the surrounding areas of the northeast Kharkiv region were recaptured by Kyiv's forces in September, but Moscow has since pushed back, forcing Ukraine to order civilian evacuations. — AFP 

August 10, 2023

The Russian army on Thursday says it had improved its positions on the front line in northeastern Ukraine around Kupiansk, where Kyiv has reported increasing Russian attacks. 

"In the course of offensive operations near Kupiansk, assault teams of the Western battle group improved their positions along the forward edge of the front line," the Russian defense ministry says. — AFP

August 8, 2023

Moscow on Tuesday accuses Ukraine of inciting Russians to set fire to military recruitment offices, following a recent uptick in the number of arson attacks.

Since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine last year many military recruitment offices across Russia have come under attacks.

The General Prosecutor's Office linked the attacks to the "successful advance of the Russian armed forces" in Ukraine. — AFP

August 5, 2023

A Ukraine security source says the country carried out a drone strike on a Russian navy ship at a Black Sea base, as Moscow said it had repelled a similar attack over annexed Crimea.

The number of attacks in the Black Sea has increased from both sides since Moscow exited a deal last month that had allowed Ukrainian grain exports via the shipping hub during the conflict between the two countries.

In a video of the purported attack obtained by AFP, a naval drone is seen speeding towards the darkened silhouette of a military vessel before the connection abruptly cuts off.

August 4, 2023

The army says Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has visited a combat zone in Ukraine to inspect a command post and meet senior military officers.

Shoigu got an update on the situation on the front and "thanked commanders and soldiers... for successful offensive operations" in Lyman in eastern Ukraine, it said, without mentioning when the visit took place.

Television images showed Shoigu in uniform listening to a report presented by General Andrey Mordvichev, the head of the Central Military Unit in Ukraine. — AFP

August 3, 2023

Ukrainian officials say almost 15 drones were downed during an overnight attack on Kyiv, in the second strike on the capital in as many days.

Air defense forces "detected and destroyed almost 15 air targets", says Sergiy Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration, without specifying who launched the attack.

Early information indicated no damage or casualties, he says. — AFP

July 30, 2023

Moscow's Vnukovo international airport was closed to traffic early Sunday, a Russian state news agency reported, after the city mayor said a Ukrainian drone strike had hit the capital.

"The capital's Vnukovo airport is closed for departures and arrivals, flights are redirected to other airports," TASS reported. "This was reported by the aviation services." — AFP

July 30, 2023

Three Ukrainian drones were downed during an attack on Moscow, Russia's defence ministry says Sunday.

"The Kyiv regime's attempted terrorist attack with unmanned aerial vehicles on objects in the city of Moscow was thwarted," the ministry said on Telegram, adding that one was shot down and two, "suppressed by electronic warfare", crashed into a building complex. — AFP

July 30, 2023

A night-time Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow has damaged two office blocks, the mayor of the Russian capital says early Sunday, adding that no one was injured.

"Ukrainian drones attacked tonight. Facades of two city office towers were slightly damaged. There are no victims or injured," Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says in a post on Telegram. — AFP

July 24, 2023

Russia says Monday that drone attacks in central Moscow and annexed Crimea could warrant a harsh response, after Ukraine claimed an attack on the capital.

"We regard what happened as yet another use of terrorist methods and intimidation of the civilian population by the military and political leadership of Ukraine," Russia's foreign ministry says. 

"The Russian Federation reserves the right to take tough retaliatory measures," it adds. — AFP

July 23, 2023

The Ukrainian port city of Odesa came under renewed Russian missile attack early Sunday, just hours before President Vladimir Putin was due to hold a summit with his staunch Belarus ally Alexander Lukashenko.

At the meeting in Saint Petersburg, the pair plan to discuss the "strategic partnership and alliance" between their countries, according to the Kremlin.

It will be the first time they have met since Lukashenko helped end a dramatic mutiny by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group.

Hours before their meeting, Russian strikes targeted Odesa, which has been bombed several times since the start of the invasion.

"Unfortunately, we have one civilian killed as a result of the nighttime terrorist attack by Russians on Odesa," regional governor Oleg Kiper said on Telegram. — AFP

July 19, 2023

US President Joe Biden and a Vatican envoy discussed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and deportation of Ukrainian children Tuesday, the White House says.

Biden and Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi discussed the papacy's efforts to provide "humanitarian aid to address the widespread suffering caused by Russia’s continuing aggression in Ukraine, as well as the Vatican’s advocacy for the return of forcibly deported Ukrainian children," a White House statement said.

Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, came to the White House at the request of Pope Francis, the Biden administration said.

Biden, only the second Roman Catholic to become US president, also delivered "his wishes for Pope Francis's continued ministry and global leadership and welcomed the recent nomination of a US archbishop as cardinal," the White House said. — AFP

July 17, 2023

Russia says a Ukrainian attack on the bridge linking Moscow-annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland killed a civilian couple and wounded their child. 

"Two civilians died: a man and a woman, driving a car on the bridge," the Russian Investigative Committee said. "Their minor daughter was wounded." — AFP

July 16, 2023

Russia said Sunday it downed at least ten drones around Sevastopol on the Crimea peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014. 

The Russian defence ministry said air defence shot down two unmanned aerial vehicles and electronically disabled five others. 

The ministry also said its forces destroyed two naval drones and the thwarted attack resulted in "no casualties or destruction."

The Russian governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, later said on Telegram that a tenth drone had been electronically deactivated.

Sevastopol is a port and home to Russia's Black Sea fleet. — AFP

July 15, 2023

South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol was in Ukraine Saturday on an unannounced visit, his office says, where he visited the town of Bucha ahead of a summit with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

"The president first toured the Bucha city massacre site near the capital Kyiv and the city of Irpin, where missile attacks were concentrated on civilian residential areas," his office says, adding he would meet Zelensky later in the day. — AFP

July 13, 2023

Russia will regard Western F-16 fighter jets sent to Ukraine as a "nuclear" threat because of their capacity to carry atomic weapons, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says on Thursday.

Modern warplanes have been at the forefront of Kyiv's demands for military aid from its Western allies as it fights back against Russia's offensive.

Lavrov spoke of a US plan to transfer F-16s to Ukraine, although Washington has not given the go-ahead for any country to supply them. — AFP

July 12, 2023

Ukraine says it had shot down 11 Russian attack drones overnight in a second night of strikes on the capital Kyiv, as NATO leaders prepared to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Vilnius.

"A total of 15 kamikaze drones were involved in the strike. 11 of them were destroyed in the areas of responsibility of the Centre and East air commands," Ukraine's air force says on social media. — AFP

July 10, 2023

Russian shelling on an aid hub in the town of Orikhiv in southern Ukraine has killed four people, the regional governor says, calling it a "war crime".

"They hit a humanitarian aid delivery spot in a residential area... Four people died on the spot: women aged 43, 45 and 47 and a 47-year-old man," governor Yuriy Malashko said on social media. — AFP

July 9, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed "brave" Ukraine on the 500th day of Russia's invasion on Saturday, as the war's toll mounted with eight deaths reported in Russian rocket fire.

Zelensky published on social media an undated video clip of a visit to Snake Island in the Black Sea -- a symbol of Ukraine's defiance against Russia.

"Today we are on Snake Island, which will never be conquered by the occupiers, like the whole of Ukraine, because we are the country of the brave," he said.

"I want to thank from here, from this place of victory, each of our soldiers for these 500 days," he said in the video, which showed him arriving on the island by boat and leaving flowers.

The UN has documented 9,000 civilian deaths since the start of the war on February 24, 2022, including 500 children, although it estimates the real toll could be significantly higher. — AFP

July 8, 2023

The United Nations condemned the civilian cost inflicted by Russia's war in Ukraine as the fighting passed the 500-day mark with no end to the conflict in sight.

More than 9,000 civilians, including 500 children, have been killed since Russia's February 24, 2022 invasion, the UN's Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) said in a statement on Friday, though UN representatives have previously said the real count is likely to be much higher.

"Today we mark another grim milestone in the war that continues to exact a horrific toll on Ukraine's civilians," Noel Calhoun, the deputy head of HRMMU, said in the statement marking the 500th day since the invasion. - AFP

July 7, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to hold talks with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday on the latest leg of a tour to push Ukraine's bid to join NATO and secure more weapons from allies.

The talks in Istanbul come on the eve of the 500th day since Russian's invasion, with Zelensky admitting a widely anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive was progressing slowly.  

"But nevertheless, we are advancing, not retreating, like Russians," Zelensky told reporters. "We now have the initiative." — AFP

July 6, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vows a "tangible response" following a Russian missile strike on an apartment block that killed at least four people in the western city of Lviv.

"Consequences of the night attack by Russian terrorists," he wrote alongside a Telegram video post showing a ruined building. "Unfortunately, there are wounded and dead... There will definitely be a response to the enemy. A tangible one." — AFP

July 6, 2023

Russian warplanes harassed three American drones over Syria on Wednesday while they were taking part in a mission against jihadists, a US commander says.

"While three US MQ-9 drones were conducting a mission against ISIS targets, three Russian fighter jets began harassing the drones," Air Force Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich says in a statement, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Russian jets dropped parachute flares in front of the US drones, forcing them to take evasive action, while one pilot turned on their plane's afterburner in front of an MQ-9, "reducing the operator's ability to safely operate the aircraft," he says.

"These events represent another example of unprofessional and unsafe actions by Russian air forces operating in Syria, which threaten the safety of both US and Russian forces," Grynkewich says, calling on Moscow to "cease this reckless behavior." — AFP

July 5, 2023

Russia says Wednesday that one person was killed and another 41 injured, including two children, by Ukrainian fire in the east Ukraine town of Makiivka, controlled by Russian forces.

The Donetsk region has been partially occupied by Kremlin-backed separatists since 2014 and its complete capture is Russia's primarily military objective in Ukraine.

But the industrial territory is also now the focus of a Ukrainian counter-offensive launched several weeks ago. — AFP

July 2, 2023

Ukraine's air force said Sunday it had shot down three cruise missiles and eight attack drones deployed by Moscow's forces overnight, in Russia's first attack on Kyiv in 12 days.

Ukraine's air force said that it had destroyed "all air targets" -- eight Iranian drones and three Kalibr cruise missiles.

"Eight Shaheds were launched from the southeast, and three Kalibr missiles were launched from the Black Sea," the air force said in a statement.

Ruslan Kravchenko, head of the Kyiv regional military administration, said that three private houses were damaged by falling debris in the Kyiv region.

A man sustained a leg injury, Kravchenko added. — AFP

July 1, 2023

CIA Director William Burns recently traveled to Ukraine where he met with intelligence counterparts and President Volodymyr Zelensky, a US official confirms to AFP.

The trip -- not reported at the time -- comes as Kyiv's brigades pursue a counteroffensive in their nation's east and south against Russian forces, launched earlier this month after weeks of anticipation.

During his trip Burns reaffirmed "the US commitment to sharing intelligence to help Ukraine defend against Russian aggression," the US official says.

July 1, 2023

Ukraine's counteroffensive plans are hobbled by the lack of adequate firepower, from modern fighter jets to artillery ammunition, the country's military commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny says in an interview.

Zaluzhny tells The Washington Post he is frustrated by the slow deliveries of promised weaponry from the West.

It "pisses me off" that some in the West complain about the slow start and progress to the long-awaited push against Russian occupying forces in the country's south, he says. — AFP 

June 29, 2023

The toll from a Russian missile strike on a restaurant in eastern Ukraine rises to 12 dead and at least 60 wounded on Thursday morning, including children, as the Kremlin insisted Russian forces only hit military-linked targets.

The latest tragedy came as US President Joe Biden denounced Vladimir Putin as a "pariah" while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the Russian president had been weakened by mercenary group Wagner's aborted rebellion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meanwhile called the Kramatorsk strike a "terrorist attack" and in his Wednesday evening address announced the arrest of an individual who had coordinated Russian fire.  — AFP

June 28, 2023

The death toll from a Russian missile strike that hit a restaurant in Ukraine's eastern city of Kramatorsk has risen to eight, with three children among the dead, authorities said Wednesday.

"As of 07:00 (0400 GMT) on June 28, the bodies of eight dead people (including three children, two of them born in 2008 and 2011) were unblocked from under the rubble of the destroyed cafe building," the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said on Telegram.

June 27, 2023

A United Nations report released Tuesday shows that Russia has executed 77 civilians being held in arbitrary detention in Ukraine.

"We documented the summary execution of 77 civilians while they were arbitrarily detained by the Russian Federation," Matilda Bogner, head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, tells a press briefing in Geneva. — AFP

June 24, 2023

Ukrainian authorities say Russia launched a fresh barrage of missiles against Ukraine early Saturday, causing damage and casualties.

In the central city of Dnipro, "several houses were completely destroyed. Huge crater after the explosion", mayor Borys Filatov says on Telegram.

Air defenses also "detected and destroyed more than 20 missiles in the airspace around Kyiv", says Sergiy Popko, head of the Kyiv military administration. — AFP

June 23, 2023

Kyiv urges Ukrainians not to panic or stockpile iodine tablets after President Volodymyr Zelensky alleges that Russia had prepared a radiation leak at an occupied nuclear plant.

Zelensky said this week that Russian forces controlling Zaporizhzhia -- Europe's biggest nuclear plant -- were planning a "terror attack" by orchestrating a radiation leak.

The Kremlin said it was a "lie" but the president's warning put many Ukrainians on alert with demand for iodine at many pharmacies sky rocketing. — AFP

June 23, 2023

Ukraine says it had downed an entire barrage of 13 cruise missiles fired by Russian forces overnight targeting an airfield in the west of the country.

"Thirteen of the occupiers' cruise missiles were destroyed on June 23.... This time the attack was aimed at a military airfield in the Khmelnytskyi region," the Ukrainian air force says on social media.

Russia launched waves of aerial attacks with crusie missiles and attack drones over the winter, prompting Kyiv to appeal to its Western allies to bolster its air defence systems.

"The launches were carried out around midnight from the Caspian Sea from four Tu-95MS bombers," the air force statement says. — AFP

June 22, 2023

Volodymyr Zelensky claims Russia preparing "terror attack" at occupied nuclear plant.

June 22, 2023

A strike has damaged a bridge linking the annexed Crimean peninsula to a region of southern Ukraine partially occupied by Russia, a Russian official says.

"During the night a strike hit the Chongar bridge. There are no victims," Sergei Aksyonov, the Russia-installed governor of Crimea, says on Telegram. The bridge connects Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, to the Ukrainian region of Kherson.  — AFP

June 19, 2023

Ukrainian forces have recaptured the village of Pyatykhatky on the southern front, Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Maliar says on social media.

Maliar said "eight settlements have been liberated" in total this month since the start of a counteroffensive, with 113 square kilometres of territory recaptured. — AFP

June 18, 2023

The intensity of the drone and missile war in Ukraine has laid bare gaps in European states' air defences that experts say will be difficult, time-consuming and costly to plug.

Anti-air systems will likely have a starring role at the Paris Air Show starting on Monday, predicts Richard Aboulafia, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory.

"You're going to see a lot of talk about production capacity for missiles. The market for missiles is easily the fastest growing segment of the industry and yet the manufacturers simply can't keep up," Aboulafia told AFP.

Western countries had enjoyed total mastery of the skies since the end of the Cold War and largely dropped the powerful defences once designed to protect NATO forces from Soviet aircraft.

France got rid of eight of its nine anti-aircraft artillery regiments, MPs flagged up in a recent report.

But NATO countries have been turning to air defence again in recent years as more states have acquired cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles and drones, said Mark Cancian, a retired US marine colonel who is a senior adviser at the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

"They started it, but basically didn't get too far," Cancian told AFP. — AFP

June 17, 2023

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Saturday calls for more tanks to be manufactured "to meet the needs of Russian forces" in Ukraine after Kyiv launched a counteroffensive with Western arms.

Shoigu, who visited a military factory in western Siberia, stressed the need "to maintain the increased production of tanks" and better security features in armoured vehicles, the defense ministry says.

Shoigu said this was necessary "to satisfy the needs of Russian forces carrying out the special military operation" launched by Moscow in Ukraine in February last year, it adds. — AFP

June 17, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, was a "disgrace" to people of his faith.

"I have a lot of Jewish friends," Putin tells an annual economic forum in Saint Petersburg. "They say that Zelensky is not Jewish, that he is a disgrace to the Jewish people." 

"I'm not joking," he adds. — AFP 

June 16, 2023

UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi on Thursday said the situation at the Moscow-occupied Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant in Ukraine was "serious" but being stabilised as Kyiv reported progress in its counteroffensive.

Fears for Europe's biggest nuclear plant, which have persisted throughout Moscow's Ukraine offensive, have been exacerbated by the destruction of a dam that provided the cooling water for the plant.

Grossi, whose trip was delayed by a day as fighting intensified in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, arrived to assess potential risks. — AFP

June 15, 2023

Moscow-installed governor Sergei Aksionov says Thursday Russian forces have downed nine drones over the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"Last night and this morning, nine drones were detected above Republic of Crimea territory," Aksionov says on Telegram.

"Six devices were shot down by air-defence forces" while three others were "deactivated" before hitting the ground, he says, adding that there were no victims. — AFP

June 13, 2023

Russian strikes early Tuesday on the hometown of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky killed ten people, as Moscow said it had captured Western armoured vehicles from Kyiv's forces.

The strikes overnight hit multiple sites and smashed into a five-storey apartment building in the central city of Kryvyi Rig, leaving smoke billowing from the housing block strewn with debris.

"Ten people have died. One is under rubble. Twenty-eight are injured and 12 of them are in the city's hospitals in medium, serious and very serious condition," said Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the city's military administration.

"Rescue operations are ongoing," he added.

Zelensky said after the strikes that Russian forces were waging a war against "residential buildings, ordinary cities and people".

He promised Ukrainians that those responsible would be held to account. — AFP

June 13, 2023

Ukraine says it had retaken seven villages and made small gains in a "tough" counter-offensive against Russian forces that France said could last months.

"The fighting is tough, but we are moving forward, this is very important," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a daily evening address.

"I thank our guys for every Ukrainian flag that is now returning to its rightful place in villages on the newly de-occupied territory," he said. — AFP

June 12, 2023

Zaporizhzhia residents braved grey skies and driving rain to visit the banks of the Dnipro, not to relax in riverside bars and resorts, but to contemplate a sea of mud. 

When the Kakhovka dam was breached last week -- in what Kyiv and its allies believe was an act of Russian sabotage -- the river level upstream dropped dramatically.

In the city of Zaporizhzhia, a sandy beach now gives way to a stinking mudflat, and sightseers have been left to survey the damage 15 months of war has dealt to their environment.

Despite the devastation, the riverside is still a place of contemplation for some, like 32-year-old Andrii Vlasenko, who was walking alone sweeping the mud with his metal detector. — AFP

June 12, 2023

Kyiv announced on Sunday that Ukrainian forces had retaken three villages in the eastern region of Donetsk, the first reported gains of their new offensive.

But Sunday also saw three people killed and at least another 23 wounded as Russia shelled a rescue boat evacuating civilians from Russian-controlled territory, the Kherson region prosecutors' office said. — AFP

June 11, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that a counteroffensive against Russian forces was underway, while declining to give specifics on his troops' operations.

"Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine: at which stage I will not talk in detail," Zelensky said on Saturday, commenting after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Kyiv's operation was already failing.

Russia has reported thwarting Ukrainian attacks in the east and south.

"It's interesting what Putin said about our counteroffensive. It is important that Russia always feels this: that they do not have long left, in my opinion," Zelensky said.

He added that he was in daily touch with military commanders, including armed forces chief Valery Zaluzhny, and "everyone is positive now -- tell that to Putin!"

On Saturday, Kyiv's forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least four front-line areas, according to the Washington-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). — AFP

June 9, 2023

Kyiv says the main center of fighting is still in Ukraine's east, as clashes in the south have prompted speculation that Ukrainian forces could have launched a long-awaited offensive.

"The situation is tense in all areas of the front line. The east is the epicentre," Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister, Ganna Malyar, writes on Telegram.

"The enemy continues to concentrate its main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka directions", she added, referring to eastern cities where fighting has been raging for months. — AFP

June 8, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the region flooded by the breached Kakhovka dam Thursday, as Moscow-installed authorities said five people had been killed in the disaster.

The dam was breached on Tuesday, forcing thousands to flee their homes as water surged into the Dnipro River, flooding dozens of villages and parts of the regional capital Kherson and sparking fears of a humanitarian disaster.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of causing the breach, which on Thursday had left 600 square kilometres underwater, according to a regional governor.

Zelensky posted videos on Thursday showing him meeting officials in the Kherson region, as well as footage of people being evacuated at a crossing point. — AFP

June 6, 2023

Ukraine will go head-to-head with Russia at the UN's top court on Tuesday to accuse its bitter foe of backing pro-Moscow rebels for years before last year's full-scale invasion.

Kyiv and Moscow will give their arguments to judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, in a case that was originally started by Ukraine back in 2017.

Ukraine has since filed a separate case related to Russia's February 2022 invasion, accusing Moscow of planning genocide. The ICJ in that case ordered Russia to suspend the invasion.

Lawyers for Ukraine will speak on Tuesday from 10 am local time (0800 GMT), while Russia's will address the court on Thursday, the ICJ said in a statement. Ukraine will then reply on June 12 and Russia on June 14. — AFP

June 6, 2023

Russia's claims that its military had inflicted massive casualties on advancing Ukrainian troops are "wild fantasies", the boss of Russian mercenary group Wagner said Tuesday.

Moscow's defence ministry said Monday it had thwarted a Ukrainian offensive, killing a total of "1,500 servicemen" and destroying more than 100 armoured vehicles.

"To destroy one and a half thousand people, it must be such a massacre, within one day, over 150 kilometres (90 miles), one hell of a massacre," Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Telegram in response to the claims.

"Therefore, I think that these are just some wild fantasies."

Prigozhin also said Monday that Kyiv's troops had made gains near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which Russia claimed to have seized control of last month.  

Russian troops, he said, were "slowly" leaving the village of Berkhivka near Bakhmut, which he said was a "disgrace".

Prigozhin has been embroiled in a public spat with Russia's regular army and has accused Moscow's military leadership of not supplying enough ammunition, among other criticisms. — AFP

June 5, 2023

Russia's military said Monday it had repelled "a large-scale offensive" by Ukraine in Moscow-annexed Donetsk, as an official reported an "alarming" attack in a southern region housing Europe's largest nuclear plant.

Kyiv has for months said it is preparing a major counteroffensive, hoping to reclaim territory lost since Russia launched its military operation in February 2022.

Donetsk is one of four Ukrainian territories that Russia annexed in September, along with Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

Russia's defence ministry reported that on Sunday, in the south of the region, "the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front".

"A total of six mechanised and two tank battalions of the enemy were involved," it said in a Telegram post, adding that Ukrainian troops had hit "the most vulnerable, in their opinion, sector of the front".

"The enemy did not achieve their tasks, they had no success. — AFP

June 5, 2023

Russia's military said Monday it had repelled "a large-scale offensive" by Ukrainian forces in Moscow-annexed Donetsk.

Kyiv has for months said it is preparing a major counteroffensive, hoping to reclaim territory lost since Russia launched its military operation in February 2022.

Donetsk is one of four Ukrainian territories that Russia annexed in September, along with Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

Russia's Ministry of Defence reported that on Sunday, in the south of the region, "the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front".

"A total of six mechanised and two tank battalions of the enemy were involved," it said in a Telegram post, adding that Ukrainian troops had hit "the most vulnerable, in their opinion, sector of the front".

"The enemy did not achieve their tasks, they had no success."

The ministry posted what it said was a video of the battle, showing Ukrainian armoured vehicles coming under heavy fire. — AFP

June 4, 2023

An airstrike hit a residential district in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing a two-year-old girl and injuring 22 others, officials said Sunday.

The attack, which President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed on Russia, partially destroyed a pair of two-storey buildings as well as 10 private homes, a shop and a gas pipeline, according to the region's governor.

Russian airstrikes over Ukraine have ratcheted up in recent weeks, as have incursions in the opposite direction.

Kyiv has for months said it is preparing a major counteroffensive against Moscow's occupation forces, hoping to reclaim territory lost since Russia invaded in February 2022.

After Saturday's strike, a girl's body was pulled from the wreckage. — AFP

June 4, 2023

An air strike hit a residential district in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Saturday night, injuring 20 people and leaving three children in a serious condition, officials said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russia for the strike, saying more people were trapped beneath the wreckage.

Russian air strikes over Ukraine have ratcheted up in recent weeks, as have incursions in the opposite direction.

Kyiv has for months said it is preparing for a major offensive against Moscow's occupation forces, as it looks to reclaim territory lost since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Saturday's strike affected two residential buildings, the president said.

"The Russians attacked the city," Zelensky posted on Facebook on Saturday. — AFP

June 3, 2023

Ukraine is ready to launch a long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia but fears large casualties due to Moscow's superior air power, President Volodydmyr Zelensky says in comments published Saturday. 

Ukraine has said it is preparing for a major offensive against Moscow's occupation forces for months, but Zelensky has repeatedly warned that Kyiv needs more time and weapons. 

"A large number of soldiers will die" if Kyiv is not given the weapons to counter Russian air power, Zelensky says. — AFP  

June 2, 2023

Ukraine says Friday it destroyed all 15 missiles and 21 drones from a new wave of overnight attacks that left  two people wounded in Kyiv.

"The occupiers don't stop trying to terrorise the capital of Ukraine with attack drones and missiles," the air force says.

"All 15 cruise missiles and 21 attack drones were destroyed," it adds. — AFP

May 31, 2023

At least five people were killed and 19 wounded in a night bombardment in Ukraine's Lugansk region, its Russian administrators said Wednesday, blaming the Ukrainian army for the attack.

"The strike on the village of Karpaty by Ukrainian armed groups... killed five and wounded 19," Russian security authorities in the Lugansk region posted on Telegram.

A poultry farm and temporary accommodation for workers were damaged in the attack on Karpaty, 35 kilometres (22 miles) west of the city of Lugansk, the authorities added.

The Russians did not specify whether the killed and wounded were civilians or military personnel, although they had listed four workers killed in an earlier toll. — AFP

May 31, 2023

President Vladimir Putin accuses Kyiv of seeking to "frighten" Russians after drones hit Moscow high-rises in the first such attack since the beginning of the Kremlin's assault on Ukraine.

As drones struck in and around Moscow, Russian drones targeted Kyiv for a third straight day while Ukraine gears up for a major offensive against Russian forces.

Officials said no one was seriously injured in Moscow and there was only "minor" damage to residential buildings, but some locals said they never thought the Russian capital could be hit in this way. — AFP

May 30, 2023

Russia's defense ministry accused Ukraine on Tuesday of a "terrorist attack", saying it had intercepted all of the eight Ukrainian drones aimed at Moscow.

"This morning the Kyiv regime carried out a terrorist attack with drones on targets in the city of Moscow. Eight drones were used in the attack. All of the enemy drones were downed," the ministry said on social media. — AFP

May 30, 2023

At least one person was killed Monday night in a "massive attack" by Russian drones on the Ukrainian capital, the city's mayor said.

Rescuers evacuated three injured people and 20 others from a multi-storey building in a southern area of Kyiv after falling debris caused a fire, Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.

"One person died, three were injured. The two upper floors are destroyed, there may be people under the rubble," Klitschko said. — AFP

May 29, 2023

Kyiv repelled another large volley of overnight air strikes, officials said Monday, as the Ukrainian capital was still picking up the pieces from the biggest drone attack to hit it since Russia's invasion began.

Local air defences managed to fend off more than 40 drones and cruise missiles, and there were no casualties, authorities said.

Kyiv had been mostly spared since the beginning of the year, but this month its residents have been forced to grapple with almost nightly air raid sirens and explosions.

The attack on the city overnight Saturday was the largest since the invasion in February last year, Ukraine said. — AFP

May 28, 2023

Russia carried out the "most important" drone attack on Kyiv overnight Saturday-Sunday since the start of the invasion, military authorities said.

Forty of the 54 drones launched targeted the capital, killing two people and wounding three.

"In total a record number of explosive drones launched were counted: 54!" Ukraine's air force said in a Telegram post on Sunday.

"It's the most important drone attack against the capital since the start of the invasion" in February 2022, the regional military administration said on Telegram.

The attack "took place over several waves and the air raid alert lasted more than five hours!" — AFP

May 28, 2023

One civilian has died in Kyiv after a "massive" drone attack on the Ukrainian capital, the city's mayor Vitali Klitschko said Sunday.

"A 35-year-old woman was hospitalised, a 41-year-old man died," the mayor and former boxer said on Telegram, reporting that drone wreckage had crashed near a petrol station.

He said Kyiv's air defences had shot down "more than 20 drones" headed for the city, and implored city residents: "Stay in shelters. The attack is massive!"

A fire also broke out at a company premises in the Holosiivskyi district, he added. — AFP

May 26, 2023

The foreign ministry says Germany called on China to use its influence on Russia to help end the war in Ukraine during a visit by special envoy Li Hui this week.

Li, seeking to promote Beijing-led negotiations to resolve the conflict, visited Germany on Wednesday as part of a tour of European capitals after a two-day trip to Kyiv.

He is expected in Moscow on Friday. — AFP

May 26, 2023

Military officials in the Ukrainian capital say Friday that Russian forces launched overnight air attacks on Kyiv, adding that all the missiles were intercepted and destroyed.

"Another air attack on Kyiv, 13th in a row since the beginning of May! And, as always, at nighttime," the city's military administration says on its Telegram account.

It says that Tu-95MS strategic bombers from the Caspian Sea region had launched cruise missiles at the city.

"According to preliminary information, all enemy targets in the airspace of Kyiv were detected and destroyed," it adds, saying no casualties or damage were reported. — AFP

May 25, 2023

Officials say Thursday that Russian forces carried out overnight drone attacks on Kyiv, continuing a month-long campaign of air strikes against the Ukrainian capital.

Military chiefs say Kyiv's air defenses destroyed all of the drones during the three-hour air attack, the twelfth this month.

Serhiy Popko, head of the city's military administration, says in a message on Telegram that Russia "again attacked Kyiv from the air". — AFP

May 24, 2023

Moscow will respond to attacks on Russian soil "extremely harshly", Russia's defence minister warned Wednesday, after Russian jets and artillery fought off an armed group that crossed from Ukraine.

"We will continue to respond promptly and extremely harshly to such actions by Ukrainian militants," Sergei Shoigu told military officials, according to comments published by the defence ministry. — AFP

May 23, 2023

Russia says Tuesday that its armed forces had beaten back and then wiped out a group of militants and military hardware that were dispatched to its southern Belgorod region from Ukraine.

The incursion was the most serious attack on Russian soil since the beginning of Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, prompting Russian authorities to declare an "anti-terror regime" and evacuate nine border villages.

"In the course of the counter-terrorist operation, the nationalist formations were blocked and destroyed by air strikes and artillery fire," the Russian defense ministry says. — AFP

May 21, 2023

Russia said Saturday it has captured the east Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, epicentre of the fighting, as President Vladimir Putin congratulated his troops and private mercenary group Wagner.

The announcement from the Russian army came hours after Kyiv said the battle was continuing, while admitting the situation was "critical", and with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky meeting G7 leaders in Japan.

Bakhmut, a salt-mining town that once had a population of 70,000 people, has been the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle in Moscow's more than year-long Ukraine offensive.

The fall of Bakhmut, where both Moscow and Kyiv are believed to have suffered huge losses, would allow Moscow to bring home a key victory after a series of humiliating defeats. — AFP

May 20, 2023

The military says Saturday that Kyiv's air defenses successfully repelled a new Russian drone attack overnight but falling debris caused some damage in the Ukrainian capital.

"This night, the aggressor again carried out a massive drone attack," the head of Kyiv's civil and military administration, Serhiy Popko, says in an update on Telegram.

"All detected air targets were destroyed by the forces and means of our air defense. No strikes on Kyiv were performed!" — AFP

May 18, 2023

Ukraine says Thursday it had downed nearly an entire barrage of Russian missiles overnight, the latest in an "unprecedented" wave of aerial attacks on the capital Kyiv.

The defense ministry says Russian forces had launched 30 cruise missiles from land, sea and air, targeting several regions and killing one person in Odesa.

The military says its air defence units had destroyed 29 of the cruise missiles and shot down four drones. — AFP

May 18, 2023

Ukraine says "unprecedented" air attacks had rocked its capital and other areas early Thursday, a day after it reached an agreement with Russia to extend a deal allowing grain exports across the Black Sea.

The deal, a rare example of cooperation between the warring sides, was welcomed by the United Nations and the United States, though both called for more certainty over the exports as Russia has threatened to end the pact, which is crucial to global food security.

But doubts about the viability of the deal were quickly raised after Ukraine accused Russia of launching an extraordinary series of air attacks on Kyiv and other regions early Thursday.

"A series of air attacks on Kyiv, unprecedented in their power, intensity and variety, continues," says Serhii Popko, head of Kyiv's civil and military administration, adding that no casualties had been reported in the capital. — AFP

May 17, 2023

European leaders on Wednesday hail a new "register of damage" for Ukraine they signed on to as "historic" and a first step to making Russia pay for its war.

The instrument, created by the 46-nation Council of Europe, sets up an evidentiary record ahead of a possible future prosecution of Russian leaders, thus laying the groundwork for compensation.

It was a "first, necessary, urgent step" ensuring "justice that is centred on the victims" of the war, said council head Marija Pejcinovic Buric on arrival at the second day of the summit in Iceland. — AFP

May 16, 2023

Russia says it was still undecided on whether it would renew its participation in a landmark grain export deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey and due to expire May 18.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding our part of the deal ... now we have to make a decision," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, referring to Russian concerns over its own exports of food and fertilisers impacted by Western sanctions. — AFP

May 15, 2023

A Russian strike on the frontline Ukraine city of Avdiivka has killed at least four people and damaged a hospital, the regional governor says.

"Four people died as a result of a missile attack on Avdiivka. Russians attacked the city with missiles this morning, hitting a hospital," the Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a statement on social media. — AFP

May 15, 2023

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky landed in Paris Sunday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, after accepting a prize for his country's fight for "European ideals" during a visit to Germany.

"Paris. With each visit, Ukraine's defense and offensive capabilities are expanding," Zelensky tweeted as he arrived on Sunday evening at the airbase of Villacoublay southwest of Paris.

"The ties with Europe are getting stronger, and the pressure on Russia is growing." — AFP

May 14, 2023

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky meets his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on his first trip to Germany since Russia's invasion.

Zelensky signed the guestbook at the Bellevue Palace, before heading into talks with Steinmeier. He is expected to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz later Sunday. — AFP

May 14, 2023

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived Sunday for his first visit to Germany since Russia's invasion, with Berlin offering an emphatic show of support in the form of a new military package worth 2.7 billion euros.

"Already in Berlin," he wrote on Twitter. "Weapons. Powerful package. Air defense. Reconstruction. EU. NATO. Security."

Zelensky's trip comes as Kyiv is preparing a much-anticipated counter-offensive and follows a day of meetings in Rome with Italian leaders and Pope Francis. — AFP

May 13, 2023

US President Joe Biden expresses his gratitude to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez for his support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion, and for the strengthening of Madrid's military ties with Washington.

"I can't thank you enough for your significant support for Ukraine," the US leader tells his guest in the Oval Office ahead of bilateral talks that also touched on trade and immigration.

He also thanked Sanchez for allowing the United States to bolster its military presence in his country, with the US Navy upping the number of its destroyers at the Rota naval base from four to six. — AFP

May 12, 2023

Ukraine needs more time before beginning a highly anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces, President Volodymyr Zelensky says, as the UK prepares to send Storm Shadow missiles to help Kyiv.

Britain's decision will make it the first country to provide longer-range missiles to Kyiv, which has been training a new contingent of forces and stockpiling Western-supplied munitions and hardware.

Analysts say these steps will be key to reclaiming territory captured by Russia, although the timing of the counter-offensive remains a question. — AFP

May 10, 2023

The Kremlin says Wednesday it was saddened by the death of AFP journalist Arman Soldin in east Ukraine, but that the circumstances of his killing under rocket fire near Bakhmut were unclear.

"We need to understand the circumstances of the death of this journalist," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters. "We can only express sadness on this matter," he adds, deferring further questions to the defense ministry. — AFP

May 9, 2023

Pro-Kremlin paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on Tuesday accused a Russian military unit of having fled its positions near Bakhmut in east Ukraine, now the epicentre of fighting.

"Today one of the units of the defence ministry fled from one of our flanks .. exposing the front," Prigozhin said, repeating a vow that his Wagner group will leave Bakhmut if the Russian military does not supply more ammunition. — AFP

May 8, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed that Russian forces would be defeated in Ukraine like Nazi Germany was beaten in World War II, commemorating Victory in Europe Day.

"All the old evil that modern Russia is bringing back will be defeated just as Nazism was defeated," Zelensky said in a video statement standing in front of a war memorial.

"Just as we destroyed evil together then, we are destroying a similar evil together now," he added. — AFP

May 7, 2023

Authorities in Russian-annexed Crimea said they repelled a Ukrainian drone attack in the city of Sevastopol overnight.

It marks the latest in a wave of alleged Ukrainian drone strikes and sabotage attempts ahead of May 9 celebrations of the Soviet victory over the Nazis, and amid an expected offensive by Kyiv. — AFP

May 5, 2023

The Ukrainian air force says it downed its own drone that lost control over Kyiv, after a series of explosions shook the capital.

The explosions, which resonated for about 15 to 20 minutes in Kyiv, followed a wave of overnight Russian attacks between Wednesday and Thursday.

"At about 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) a Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial device lost control during a scheduled flight in the Kyiv region... the target was destroyed!" the air force says, adding it was establishing the cause of a "likely" technical malfunction. — AFP

May 4, 2023

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warns Moscow on Thursday to not use an alleged drone attack that it said targeted the Kremlin to escalate its war in Ukraine.

"We call on Russia not to use this alleged attack as an excuse to continue the escalation of the war," Borrell tells journalists as he goes in to attend an EU ministers meeting in Brussels.

"This is what worries us: this can be used to justify more conscription of people, more soldiers, more attacks on Ukraine." — AFP  

May 4, 2023

Ukraine's air force says Russia fired up to 24 attack drones against Ukraine overnight, 18 of which were shot down, a day after Russia accused Ukraine of a drone attack on the Kremlin.

"The invaders launched up to 24 Shahed-136/131 attack drones... The Air Force of Ukraine, in co-operation with other air defence units, shot down 18 attack drones," the air force says on Telegram. — AFP

April 30, 2023

A huge fire erupted in Moscow-annexed Crimea after a suspected drone attack hit an oil depot, as fighting intensified on the southern Ukrainian front and shelling deprived Russian border villages of power.

The attacks on Saturday came one day after Kyiv said preparations for a long-awaited counteroffensive were nearly complete, having vowed to expel Russian forces from territory they seized in the east and south following their 2022 invasion.

April 29, 2023

Russian strikes batter cities across Ukraine, killing 26 people including five children, as Kyiv says preparations for a counter-offensive against Moscow's forces were nearly complete.

The deadly new attacks included a strike on a residential block in the historic city of Uman in central Ukraine, where AFP journalists saw rescue workers extracting victims' remains from a destroyed residential building.

The barrage of almost two dozen missiles ended a weeks-long pause following the repeated Russian strikes that had aimed to paralyse Ukraine's energy grid during the winter months. — AFP

April 28, 2023

Pope Francis arrived in Hungary Friday for a three-day visit likely to be dominated by the war in Ukraine and his meeting with nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose views often clash with his own.

The 86-year-old Argentine pontiff will only stay in the capital Budapest during his trip, due to his fragile health a month after being hospitalised for bronchitis. 

The pope departed Rome's Fiumicino Airport at approximately 8:20 am (0620 GMT) and arrived just before 10:00 am (0800 GMT) in the Hungarian capital, where key roads have been blocked for days as part of a major security operation surrounding the visit.

Annamaria Szentesi, a 32-year-old, told AFP that it was "wonderful" that the pope was coming back to Hungary after his last visit in 2021. -- AFP

April 27, 2023

The Kremlin says Thursday it welcomed any attempt to end the Ukrainian conflict, on Moscow's terms, a day after the leaders of China and Ukraine had their first call since the offensive.

"We are ready to welcome anything that can bring forward the end of the conflict in Ukraine and the achievement of Russia's goals," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.

"As for the very fact of communication, this is the sovereign matter of these countries," Peskov adds. — AFP

April 27, 2023

A Russian missile killed one person in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv during Thursday's early hours, officials there say.

More than a dozen were also injured.

"Around 1 am, residents of Mykolaiv heard 4 loud explosions," city mayor Oleksandr Senkevych posted on Telegram.

"It is already known that one of the missiles hit a high-rise building. One more hit a private house."

He added that some homes in the city had lost power. — AFP

April 27, 2023

A Russian missile killed one person in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv during Thursday's early hours, officials there said.

More than a dozen were also injured.

"Around 1 am, residents of Mykolaiv heard 4 loud explosions," city mayor Oleksandr Senkevych posted on Telegram.

"It is already known that one of the missiles hit a high-rise building. One more hit a private house."

He added that some homes in the city had lost power.

Vitaliy Kim, head of the regional military administration, said: "As of now, we know of 15 injured and 1 dead."

Both Kim and the head of the regional police said an apartment block had been hit. — AFP

April 19, 2023

Ukraine receives first US Patriot air defence systems, the minister says. — AFP

April 19, 2023

Russia launched a drone attack on Ukraine's southern port city of Odesa early Wednesday but there were no reports of casualties, authorities say.

"At night, the enemy carried out an attack by UAVs of the Shahed-136 type on the Odesa region," Yuriy Kruk, head of the Odesa district military administration, said in a statement on Telegram.

Kruk said Ukraine's air defences had destroyed most of the attacking drones but some civilian infrastructure had been hit.

"According to preliminary information, there were no casualties. Measures are being taken to contain the fire, units of the State Emergency Service and other structures are working on the spot." — AFP

April 18, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Ukraine's Kherson and Lugansk regions to meet with military commanders, the Kremlin says.

"The supreme commander of Russian Federation armed forces has visited the headquarters of the Dniepr military grouping" in the Kherson region in the south, as well as Russian national guard headquarters in the Lugansk region in the east, the Kremlin said in a statement.

It did not say when the trip took place.

It marked the first time Putin has visited the two regions, which are partly controlled by Russian troops, since Moscow annexed them along with two other Ukrainian regions last September. — AFP

April 16, 2023

The death toll from a Russian strike on a block of flats in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk has climbed to 11 as Moscow claimed advances near embattled Bakhmut. 

Sloviansk lies in a part of the eastern Donetsk region that is under Ukrainian control. According to Kyiv, it was on Friday struck by seven missiles which hit five buildings, five homes, a school and an administrative building.

"The number of victims of the shelling of Sloviansk has risen to 11 people," a spokeswoman for the State Emergency Service in the region, Veronika Bakhal, said in televised remarks. — AFP

April 9, 2023

A 50-year-old man and his 11-year-old daughter were killed after Russian missiles struck a house in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, officials say.

It was the latest Russian strike on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine as Moscow's invasion stretches into its second year.

"The enemy carried out a missile attack on Zaporizhzhia and killed another Ukrainian family," the head of the State Emergency Service, Sergiy Kruk, said on social media.

The girl died in an ambulance, said the head of Zaporizhzhia City Council, Anatoliy Kurtiev.

Rescue workers pulled the girl's 46-year-old mother alive from under the rubble. — AFP

April 7, 2023

Secret documents that provide details of US and NATO plans to help prepare Ukraine for a spring offensive against Russia have spilled onto social media platforms, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

The Pentagon said it is assessing the reported security breach.

"We are aware of the reports of social media posts, and the Department is reviewing the matter," Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said.

The documents were spread on Twitter and Telegram, and reportedly contain charts and details about weapons deliveries, battalion strengths and other sensitive information, the Times said. — AFP

April 4, 2023

Local authorities say Russian drones struck the strategic Ukrainian port of Odesa, adding that "damage" had been recorded.

"The enemy has just struck Odesa and the Odesa district with attack UAVs," local authorities say in a statement on Facebook, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles. "There is damage," the statement said without providing further details. — AFP 

April 3, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is to make an official visit to Warsaw on Wednesday, says Poland, announcing one of his few trips outside his nation battling Russia's invasion.

NATO member and neighbour Poland is a key ally in Kyiv's effort to defend itself, and has hosted many Ukrainians fleeing the war. 

"This is an official visit but there will also be an element of a public nature," the head of the international policy office, Marcin Przydacz, told Polish radio station RMF FM, noting that Zelensky would also meet Ukrainians living in Poland.

During the visit, Zelensky will meet his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda. — AFP

March 29, 2023

US and French analysts say Russia's cyberwar on Ukraine largely failed and Moscow is increasingly targeting Kyiv's European allies.

French defense firm Thales says in a report on Wednesday that Russia was hitting Poland, the Nordic and Baltic countries with an arsenal of cyber weapons aiming to sow divisions and promote anti-war messages.

Microsoft says in a threat assessment earlier this month that Russian actors had launched attacks in at least 17 European countries in the first six weeks of this year. — AFP

March 28, 2023

Amnesty International says outrage over Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year has exposed the West's "double standards" towards human rights abuses throughout the world.

In its annual world report for 2022, Amnesty pointed to what it described as the West's silence on Saudi Arabia's rights record, repression in Egypt and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

"The West's formidable response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscored double standards, exposing in comparison how inconsequential their reactions have been to so many other violations of the UN Charter," says Amnesty secretary general Agnes Callamard as she presents the group's world report in Paris. — AFP

March 28, 2023

Germany and Britain have delivered Western heavy tanks to Ukraine, officials say, providing a key infusion of armored firepower that will aid Kyiv's battle against invading Russian troops.

The tanks -- long an item on Ukraine's military equipment wish list -- were promised to Kyiv earlier this year and have arrived in time for an expected spring offensive by Ukraine's forces.

As Ukraine gains conventional firepower, the Kremlin vowed to follow through on a plan announced by President Vladimir Putin to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighbouring Belarus, an initiative which has drawn widespread criticism. — AFP

March 27, 2023

Russian shelling of the town of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine left at least two people dead and more than two dozen others injured, the regional governor says. 

"As of 13:00, there are two dead and 29 wounded in Sloviansk... administrative and office buildings, five high-rise buildings and seven private houses were damaged," Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says on Facebook.

"(Russian forces) struck the city centre around 10:30 (0730 GMT) with two S-300 missiles," he adds. — AFP

March 26, 2023

Kyiv says Russia was holding Minsk as a "nuclear hostage" after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to ally Belarus.

"The Kremlin took Belarus as a nuclear hostage," the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, wrote on Twitter, adding that the move was "a step towards the internal destabilization of the country". — AFP

March 26, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to deploy depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine if Kyiv receives such ammunition from the West, after a British official suggested London could supply it to Ukraine.

"Russia of course has what it needs to answer. Without exaggeration, we have hundreds of thousands of such shells. We have not used them yet," Putin says in an interview on Russian television. — AFP

March 25, 2023

Kyiv says its forces were "managing to stabilize" the situation around Bakhmut, a now-destroyed city in eastern Ukraine that has seen the longest battle of the Russian invasion.

Bakhmut -- which once had an estimated population of around 70,000 people -- has been virtually emptied of civilians over months of fierce fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

The frontline situation is "the toughest in the Bakhmut direction", the head of Ukraine's armed forces Valery Zaluzhny said late Friday after a phone call with Britain's Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin. — AFP

March 23, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday was visiting the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson partially controlled by Russian forces, after Kyiv's troops captured the regional capital late last year.

"Working trip to Kherson region. The village of Posad Pokrovske, where houses and civilian infrastructural facilities were damaged as a result of Russia's full-scale invasion. I talked to the locals about their problems and needs," Zelensky said in a post on social media. — AFP

March 23, 2023

The UN nuclear agency's chief says the situation at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia power plant "remains perilous" following a Russian missile strike this month that disconnected the plant from the grid.

Europe's largest nuclear power plant needs a reliable electricity supply to operate pumps that circulate water to cool reactors and pools holding nuclear fuel.

Since a Russian strike on March 9, the plant has relied on a single backup power line that remains "disconnected and under repair", according to Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

"Nuclear safety at the ZNPP remains in a precarious state," Grossi says in a statement. — AFP

March 22, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday visited military positions near the frontline town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the scene of the longest and bloodiest battle since Russia's invasion, he said.

"Donetsk region. The frontline positions of the Ukrainian military in the Bakhmut area. I am honored to be here today to award our heroes. To shake hands and thank them for protecting the sovereignty of our country," Zelensky said on social media. — AFP

March 22, 2023

Ukrainian authorities say four people were killed and several more wounded in a Russian drone attack that hit a school in the Kyiv region overnight.

The emergency services initially said three people had been killed in the strike south of the capital Kyiv but police later announced another victim.

"The fourth victim was a 40-year-old driver. The man did not go down to the shelter during the air raid alerts," says Andrii Nebytov, the head of the Kyiv region police. — AFP

March 20, 2023

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan says the ICC "won't hesitate to act" over possible war crimes in Ukraine, as ministers from more than 40 countries met in London.

The gathering, to discuss boosting support for its probes into the conflict, follows the court's issuance on Friday of an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children's Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.

They are accused of the war crime of "illegal deportation" of Ukrainian children following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

In comments before the London conference, Khan said that other ICC investigations into alleged atrocities remained ongoing but required funding and technical support.

"We have a standard that we must meet in terms of the criminal prosecutions," he told BBC radio. "We can't do everything at once. We don't have unlimited resources." — AFP

March 20, 2023

Kyiv calls on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, hours ahead of a highly anticipated visit to Russia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, his first to Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine.

"The formula for the successful implementation of China's 'Peace Plan'. The first and foremost point is the surrender or withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from (Ukrainian territory) in accordance with international law and the UN Charter," the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, wrote on Twitter. — AFP

March 20, 2023

Justice ministers from more than 40 countries will meet in London to discuss boosting international support for the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) as it investigates possible war crimes in the Ukraine conflict. 

The meeting comes after the ICC, based in The Hague, issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, on Friday for the war crime of "illegal deportation" of Ukrainian children following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

"We are gathering in London today united by one cause, to hold war criminals to account for the atrocities committed in Ukraine during this unjust, unprovoked and unlawful invasion," UK Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab says in a statement.

"The UK, alongside the international community, will continue to provide the International Criminal Court with the funding, people and expertise to ensure justice is served." — AFP

March 19, 2023

President Vladimir Putin has toured the city of Mariupol, Russian state news reports, almost one year after Moscow claimed to have captured the strategic port city. 

This is the Russian leader's first trip to the Donbas region since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in February last year.

Putin flew to Mariupol by helicopter before driving a car around the city, Tass news agency reports, citing the Kremlin. 

The announcement of Putin's visit to Mariupol comes after his surprise stop in Crimea on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the peninsula's annexation. — AFP

March 18, 2023

The Kremlin says that the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin was legally "void" since Moscow does not recognise the Hague-based court's jurisdiction.

Top Russian officials and propagandists seethed with anger, while members of the opposition hailed the move.

"Russia, just like a number of different countries, does not recognise the jurisdiction of this court and so from a legal point of view, the decisions of this court are void," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters. — AFP 

March 18, 2023

The International Criminal Court announces an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

The Hague-based ICC says it had also issued a warrant against Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's presidential commissioner for children's rights, on similar charges.

Moscow dismissed the orders as "void." Russia is not a party to the ICC so it was unclear if or how Putin could ever end up in the dock. — AFP

March 17, 2023

The Kremlin says Friday that fighter jets given to Ukraine by Poland and Slovakia would be destroyed, and repeats that Western arms deliveries to Kyiv would not change Russia's military aims.

"The supply of this military equipment -- as we have repeatedly said -- will not change the outcome of the special military operation... Of course, all this equipment will be destroyed," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells journalists, using the official term for Moscow's military intervention. — AFP

March 15, 2023

Moscow warns against "hostile" US flights, as tensions simmer after a Russian fighter jet was accused of colliding with an American drone over the Black Sea.

Though Russia has denied its Su-27 plane clipped the propeller of an unmanned Reaper drone, Kyiv said the incident over international waters was a Kremlin attempt to widen the Ukraine conflict.

The crash on Tuesday, which Washington called the fault of reckless and unprofessional conduct, added fresh tensions between Moscow and Western allies. — AFP

March 13, 2023

Fierce fighting was raging for control of the centre of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, the longest-running and bloodiest battle of the war, both sides say.

"Wagner assault units are advancing from several directions, trying to break through our troops' defensive positions and move to the centre of the city. In fierce battles, our defenders are inflicting significant losses on the enemy," the Ukrainian military says in a morning briefing, referring to the Russian mercenary group that has claimed to be leading Moscow's offensive.

Wagner meanwhile says: "the enemy is battling for every metre, the closer we are to the city centre, the harder the battles". — AFP

March 12, 2023

The Ukrainian military was preparing Sunday for an upcoming counteroffensive, with a top commander saying his forces' ongoing defence of Bakhmut in the face of fierce and sustained Russian attacks was necessary to "buy time" for that push.

The remarks came as British intelligence said the frontline had shifted in the fight for Bakhmut -- the longest and bloodiest battle of Moscow's year-long invasion -- but that any further Russian advance in the devastated town would be "highly challenging".

Some military experts have questioned the sense of continuing to hold the city, but the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, Oleksandr Syrsky, said that it helped win time in preparation for the coming counteroffensive.

"The real heroes now are the defenders who are holding the eastern front on their shoulders, and inflicting the heaviest possible losses, sparing neither themselves nor the enemy," Syrsky was quoted as saying in a statement on Saturday. — AFP

March 9, 2023

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko reports explosions in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, amid a wave of strikes across different parts of the country.

"Explosions in the Holosiivskyi district of the capital. All services are heading to the spot," Klitschko says on social media, referring to a southern area of the city. — AFP

March 9, 2023

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko reports explosions in the Ukrainian capital, amid a wave of strikes across different parts of the country.

"Explosions in the Holosiivskyi district of the capital. All services are heading to the spot," Klitschko says on social media, referring to a southern area of the city. — AFP

March 6, 2023

Ukraine's air force says it had shot down 13 explosive drones launched from southern Russia overnight after air raid sirens sounded for hours in Kyiv.

The air force says on Telegram that Russian forces had launched 15 Iran-made Shahed drones from the Bryansk region northeast of Kyiv, 13 of which Ukrainian forces shot down. 

Russia has been launching missile and drone attacks against Ukraine's critical infrastructure since October, spurring Kyiv to bolster its air defence systems with Western help.

In Kyiv, air raid signals rang out for several hours early Monday and the authorities said air defences were triggered by an "aerial target". — AFP

March 6, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky pays tribute to his soldiers fighting in the "painful and difficult" battle for the country's frontline eastern Donbas region.

He was speaking after Ukraine's general staff reported that its forces had fought off "more than 130 enemy attacks" the previous day, including in Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

"The enemy continues its attempts to encircle the town of Bakhmut," he says early on Sunday, of the eastern city that Moscow has been trying to capture for months.

Ukraine has vowed to defend "fortress Bakhmut" which Russian troops seem determined to take. Analysts say the city, which has been virtually destroyed in the fighting, has little real strategic value.

But, as what has become the longest and bloodiest battle of the conflict drags on, its fate has acquired a symbolic importance, surpassing its military significance. — AFP

March 5, 2023

Russia's defence minister has inspected troops in frontline regions in eastern Ukraine, after the United States offered more support to Kyiv whose forces are struggling in Bakhmut.

Sergei Shoigu inspected an advance command post in the direction of the south of the Donetsk region, the defence ministry said, without specifying exactly where or when.

It put out a rare video of the Russian defence minister travelling in a helicopter and talking to a soldier in front of damaged buildings.

Shoigu handed state awards to servicemen and held a meeting with his deputies "on organising the uninterrupted provision of troops with armaments, military hardware and ordnance", his ministry later said.

The visit came with fierce fighting ongoing around Bakhmut, the longest battle of the conflict, which has further exposed rivalries between the conventional army and the Wagner paramilitary group. — AFP

March 4, 2023

Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu has carried out an inspection of the front line in eastern Ukraine, the ministry says Saturday, as fighting rages around the eastern city of Bakhmut.

The defense ministry says Shoigu had "inspected a command post on the front" in the direction of the southern Donetsk region, without specifying the exact place or time.

The ministry released a video that showed Shoigu travelling in a helicopter, then talking to a soldier in front of damaged buildings. — AFP

March 3, 2023

The Kremlin says Friday it would take steps to prevent cross-border incursions after Moscow blamed "Ukrainian nationalists" for killing two civilians in southern Russia the day earlier.

"Measures will be taken to prevent similar events in the future," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will later Friday chair a meeting of his Security Council, Peskov adds. — AFP

March 3, 2023

The United States has "no indication" that China has decided to supply arms to Russia, but the possibility remains "on the table," a White House spokesman says.

"This is not a move that would be in the best interest of the Chinese and their standing in the international community, which we know they highly prize," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tells journalists.

"We've communicated to the Chinese our concerns about this," Kirby adds. —  AFP

March 2, 2023

Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Germany and its allies were in talks with Kyiv over future security guarantees in preparation of a sustainable peace for Ukraine. 

"We are speaking with Kyiv and other partners over future security guarantees for Ukraine. Such security guarantees however come with the presumption that Ukraine successfully defends itself in this war," he tells the German parliament. — AFP

March 2, 2023

Colonel Smak and his team of Ukrainian volunteers have managed to destroy three attack drones Russia launched on Kyiv, shooting them down with ancient Red Army machine guns.

"The first drone was in October. It flew during the day, so it was clearly visible. We opened fire on it when it entered our sector," says the unit's commander, whose call sign "Smak" means zest.

Russia has been sending huge waves of Iranian Shahed drones across the country in recent months, many targeting power networks. — AFP

March 1, 2023

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken is due in New Delhi on Wednesday alongside Russia's Sergei Lavrov for a G20 meeting, with Ukraine and tensions with China set to overshadow attempts by host India to forge unity among the world's top economies.

A meeting was seen as unlikely between the two men, who have not been in the same room since a G20 meeting in Bali in July when, according to Western officials, the Russian foreign minister walked out.

They last met individually in January 2022, weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. The two men have spoken by phone since but about other issues and not the war. — AFP

March 1, 2023

Pressure is mounting on Ukrainian forces as fighting for the eastern frontline city of Bakhmut is getting ever more brutal with Russia losing hundreds of troops a day, President Volodymyr Zelensky says.

As the battle raged, Moscow said it shot down Ukrainian drones targeting civilian sites in Russian territory while another one crashed near the capital.

AFP aerial footage released Tuesday showed almost all buildings in Bakhmut in ruins and smoke rising over the city once known for its sparkling wine production and salt mines.

"The most difficult, as before, is Bakhmut... Russia does not count people at all, sending them to constantly assault our positions," Zelensky says, adding that Russia has lost some 800 soldiers since Thursday in one direction alone.  "The intensity of the fighting is only increasing." — AFP

February 28, 2023

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says Tuesday that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance in the "long-term", but stresses that the immediate issue is it remaining an independent nation in the face of Russia's invasion.

"NATO allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member of our alliance, but at the same time that is a long-term perspective," Stoltenberg tells reporters during a visit to Finland's capital Helsinki. — AFP

February 28, 2023

Ukraine's head of military intelligence has brushed aside claims that China is considering furnishing arms to Russia, telling US media that he saw no "signs that such things are even being discussed".

Senior US officials have said as recently as Sunday that they were "confident" China was considering providing lethal equipment to Moscow, with a diplomatic pressure campaign underway to discourage it from doing so.

But when asked about the possibility in a lengthy interview with Voice of America published on Monday, Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said: "I do not share this opinion."

"As of now, I do not think that China will agree to the transfer of weapons to Russia," he said. "I do not see any signs that such things are even being discussed."

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken aired Washington's concerns about potential arms shipments in a tense meeting with his Chinese counterpart, and the director of the CIA said in an interview on Sunday that he believed Beijing was still weighing the possibility. -- AFP

February 27, 2023

A Russian attack with Iran-made drones early Monday left two people dead and three more wounded in the western Ukraine city of Khmelnytskyi, the mayor said.

Mayor Oleksandr Symchyshyn said in separate messages on social media that two rescue workers had died in hospital following the attack with more than a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Unfortunately, we have another hospital death. Doctors failed to save the life of another hero -- a rescuer," he said in the second statement after earlier reporting the first death.

The Ukrainian armed forces said it had shot down 11 out of 14 "Shaded" drones deployed by Moscow's forces overnight.

Nine were downed over the capital Kyiv, the head of the city's military administration said, and there were no reported casualties or damage to infrastructure.  -- AFP

February 26, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused NATO members of taking part in the Ukraine conflict by donating arms to the country and said the West planned to break up Russia.

"They are sending tens of billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine. This really is participation," Putin said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 channel aired on Sunday.

"This means that they are taking part, albeit indirectly, in the crimes being carried out by the Kyiv regime," Putin said.

He said Western countries had "a single aim -- to break up the former Soviet Union and its main part -- the Russian Federation".

"Only then will they maybe accept us in the so-called family of civilised peoples but only separately, every part separately."

Putin was speaking on the sidelines of a patriotic concert in Moscow on Thursday on the eve of the first anniversary of the start of Russia's full-scale offensive in Ukraine. -- AFP

February 25, 2023

G20 finance ministers struggle Saturday to agree on a joint statement on the global economy at talks in India, with China seeking to water down any reference to the Ukraine war, officials say.

Spain's representative Nadia Calvino says that because of "less constructive" approaches by some unspecified countries at talks among the world's top 20 economies in Bengaluru, agreeing on a statement was proving "difficult".

China wanted to water down the language of a G20 leaders' statement from November that had said that "most members strongly condemned the war" in Ukraine, officials tell AFP. 

February 25, 2023

Russia says it appreciated Beijing's efforts to settle the Ukraine conflict but insisted any solution to the crisis should recognise Russia's control over four Ukrainian regions.

"We highly value the sincere desire of our Chinese friends to contribute to the settlement of the conflict in Ukraine through peaceful means," the foreign ministry says, but adds any settlement must recognize "the new territorial realities". — AFP

February 24, 2023

A virtual Group of Seven summit on Friday will call on countries to not send military aid to Russia, Japan's prime minister says, ahead of the meeting marking one year since the invasion of Ukraine.

Fumio Kishida did not single out any nation, though Russia has used Iranian drones in Ukraine, and Washington has recently warned that Beijing is weighing supplying Moscow's war effort.

China has denied those claims. — AFP

February 24, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky hails Ukraine and its people for fighting back against Russia and vows victory on the first anniversary of the war.

"We endured. We were not defeated. And we will do everything to gain victory this year!" Zelensky says in a statement released on social media. 

Early in the morning a year ago, Russian troops invaded Ukraine, leading to the worst conflict in Europe since World War II. — AFP 

February 24, 2023

China calls on Russia and Ukraine to avoid attacking civilians, in a 12-point policy paper released Friday on the conflict's first anniversary.

"Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacking civilians or civilian facilities," Beijing's foreign ministry says. — AFP 

February 22, 2023

UN experts say Wednesday that "deliberate" Russian destruction of Ukraine's culture could amount to an attempt to erase Ukrainians' right to their own identity a year after the Russian invasion.

The experts urge a halt to intentional damage of sites, institutions, and objects of cultural, historical, and religious significance in Ukraine.

They say the denigration of the history and identity of Ukrainian people was being used as a justification for war and hatred. — AFP

February 22, 2023

Russia's step back from a key arms control treaty is a blow to efforts to cap nuclear stockpiles, but does not immediately heighten the risk of nuclear war, experts say.

President Vladimir Putin's announcement that he was halting cooperation under the New START treaty should be understood as another attempt to put pressure on Western countries supplying Ukraine with weapons and money as it fights the Russian invasion, they added.

Former US president Barack Obama signed the deal in 2010 with Russia's then-president Dmitry Medvedev, with the US seeing it as part of a friendlier reset with the Kremlin. — AFP

February 21, 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "strategic failure" as Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to "systematically" continue the offensive that began almost a year ago.

"One year after President Putin attacked Ukraine. It's clear that his war has been a strategic failure in every way," Blinken says in Athens at the close of a five-day trip to the region.

"No one wanted this war. No one likes this war. Everyone wants it to end as quickly as possible," Blinken says. — AFP

February 21, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin blames the West for the escalation of the Ukraine conflict, after Kyiv's allies promised to send new weapons to Ukraine. 

"The responsibility for fuelling the Ukrainian conflict, for its escalation, for the number of victims... lies completely with Western elites," Putin says. — AFP

February 21, 2023

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to give duelling speeches Tuesday promising two starkly differing takes on Russia's Ukraine invasion, a day after the US president's surprise visit to Kyiv.

Biden met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday -- pledging fresh arms deliveries and "unwavering" American support -- days before the first anniversary of Russian tanks rolling over the border.

"One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands," he says at the Mariinsky Palace, the Ukrainian president's official residence.

And on Tuesday, from Warsaw's historic Royal Castle, he will "make it clear that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine... for as long as it takes", according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, who spoke to reporters last week. — AFP

February 20, 2023

US President Joe Biden has promised increased arms deliveries for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday in which he also vowed Washington's "unflagging commitment" in defending Ukraine's territorial integrity.

"I will announce another delivery of critical equipment, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems, and air surveillance radars to help protect the Ukrainian people from aerial bombardments," Biden was quoted as saying in a White House statement. — AFP

February 16, 2023

The head of Russian mercenary outfit Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has said that Russian forces could capture the embattled city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine "in March or in April".

In messages distributed online overnight, he said progress would depend on whether "the adversary sends reserves" and blasted Russia's "monstrous military bureaucracy" for its failure to seize the Donetsk region city before the end of 2022. — AFP

February 15, 2023

The United Nations says Wednesday it needed $5.6 billion to provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine and to the millions who have fled the war-ravaged country as refugees.

"Almost a year on, the war continues to cause death, destruction and displacement daily, and on a staggering scale," UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths says in a statement, saying the funds would help bring aid to more than 15 million people. — AFP

February 15, 2023

Ukraine's Western backers pledge at a meeting to keep the huge amounts of ammunition and arms Kyiv needs flowing to the frontline, as Russia battled for the devastated city of Bakhmut. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has doubled down on his plea for Western aircraft after securing commitments for tanks, air defence and precision missiles.

But allies meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels remained focused on ensuring his forces have the ammunition, armoured vehicles and air defenses they need on the ground to push back renewed Russian offensives. — AFP

February 15, 2023

The US Army announces it had awarded $522 million in orders to two companies to manufacture 155 mm artillery ammunition for Ukraine.

The orders, officially decided on January 30, went to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. and Global Military Products Inc. and came amid worries that Ukraine was fast depleting the stockpiles of artillery shells from the United States and other allies.

Deliveries of the new ammunition are scheduled to begin in March of this year,  the Army says in a statement.

The contract is funded by the Pentagon's Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. — AFP

February 8, 2023

UK announces new round of Russia sanctions over Ukraine war.

February 7, 2023

Russia says West's military aid to Kyiv could lead to "unpredictable" escalation.

February 6, 2023

Norway's government said Monday it was planning a five-year aid package to Ukraine worth 75 billion kroner ($7.3 billion), as well as additional aid to other countries affected by the conflict.

"We are proposing that Norway gives a binding and lasting contribution to Ukraine", Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told reporters. "We are proposing that 15 billion kroner be given per year to Ukraine for five years, or 75 billion kroner". -- AFP

February 6, 2023

Ukraine's defence minister will be replaced by the chief of the military intelligence ahead of an expected Russian offensive and following corruption scandals, a senior lawmaker says.

"Kyrylo Budanov will head the defence ministry, which is absolutely logical in wartime," says senior lawmaker David Arakhamia, referring to the 37-year-old chief of the military intelligence. 

Reznikov, 56, will be appointed minister for strategic industries, the lawmaker said without specifying a timeline for the planned re-shuffle.

"War dictates personnel policies," adds Arakhamia. — AFP

February 5, 2023

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky agrees that weapons supplied by the West will not be used to attack Russian territory, Germany's leader said in an interview Sunday.

"There is a consensus on this point," Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag.

Ukraine's Western allies have pledged to arm it with precision rockets and missile systems, as well as tanks, as it tries to push back Russian troops in its east.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared the intervention of countries such as Germany with his nation's struggle during World War II.

"Again and again we are forced to repel the aggression of the collective West," he said Thursday on the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad.

But Scholz rejected the comparison.

"His words are part of a series of absurd historical comparisons that he uses to justify his attack on Ukraine", he said.

"But nothing justifies this war." -- AFP

February 4, 2023

According to US media, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that he had authorized the United States to begin using seized Russian money to aid Ukraine.

The announcement comes during a meeting between Garland and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin in Washington, nearly one year after Moscow's invasion of its former Soviet neighbor.

"Today, I am announcing that I have authorized the first-ever transfer of forfeited Russian assets for use in Ukraine," Garland said, according to CNN. — AFP

February 3, 2023

President Vladimir Putin leverages a World War II commemoration to whip up support for his army's intervention in Ukraine, comparing the fighting to Nazi Germany's invasion and hinting Moscow could use nuclear weapons.

Putin has used World War II to promote his political agenda in recent years while the Kremlin has sought to give cult status to Moscow's victory in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War.

Arriving in the southern city of Volgograd for commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad, achieved at enormous cost, Putin sought to boost support for his assault on Ukraine. — AFP

February 2, 2023

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen says she had arrived in Kyiv with a team of commissioners on Thursday, a day before a Ukraine-European Union summit in the war-torn country.

"Good to be back in Kyiv, my 4th time since Russia's invasion.... We are here together to show that the EU stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever. And to deepen further our support and cooperation," she wrote in a tweet. — AFP

February 2, 2023

At least three people were killed Wednesday and 20 wounded when a Russian rocket struck a residential building in the centre of the eastern city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian officials say.

AFP saw two bodies at the scene as rescue workers cleared the rubble.

"Two hours ago, the Russian occupiers hit a residential building in the centre of the city with a rocket and completely destroyed it," regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says on the Telegram messaging app.

The regional police says on their official website that it was "preliminarily known that there are three dead civilians and 20 wounded". — AFP

February 1, 2023

Russia's invasion has seen Ukraine hurtle towards joining the EU, but the path to full membership remains long and complex despite bullishness in Kyiv.

Before Moscow's forces launched their all-out assault last February, few in Brussels or Kyiv saw Ukraine's accession as a pressing issue.  

But just four months later, Kyiv had been granted "candidate status" to become a member as the horrors of the conflict pushed EU leaders to start the ball rolling.

Now, as top EU officials head to Kyiv for a summit this week that Prime Minister Denys Shmygal described as "extremely important" for his country's bid to join, Ukraine is urging the bloc to maintain the momentum.

"No games or narrow political interests should stand in the way," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. 

French President Emmanuel Macron warned last May it could take "decades" before Ukraine meets the criteria and achieves full membership. -- AFP

February 1, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in an interview he was considering military aid to Ukraine and was willing to serve as a mediator, following US calls for more active involvement.

Netanyahu made no firm commitments to Ukraine and Israel has preserved a relationship with Russia, which controls the skies in neighboring Syria and has turned a blind eye to Israeli strikes on targets of arch-nemesis Iran.

Netanyahu was asked in an interview with CNN if Israel could provide assistance to Ukraine such as Iron Dome, the US-backed technology that defends Israel from air attack.

"Well, I'm certainly looking into it," Netanyahu says.

He confirmed that the United States has shifted a little-known stockpile of artillery it stations in Israel to Ukraine and he cast the Jewish state's own operations against Iran as part of a similar effort. -- AFP

February 1, 2023

Ukraine will hold a summit with the European Union in Kyiv this week, the government announces, as it expressed hope the conference will bring the war-battered nation closer to EU membership almost a year after Russia launched its invasion.

Kyiv also announced it expects to receive up to 140 modern battle tanks from its Western allies, and the prospect of more advanced weapons for Ukraine came from the United States.

In his evening address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelensky says he was hopeful the summit, which will take place in the Ukrainian capital on Friday, will reflect a high "level of cooperation and progress" with the 27-member bloc, which Kyiv has long sought to join.

"We are waiting for news for Ukraine," Zelensky says. — AFP

January 31, 2023

President Joe Biden says the United States would not provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as Kyiv expands the list of weaponry it needs to be better able to drive Russia forces from occupied territories.

Fighting continued at key points along the long front as Russian forces sought to expand their hold on territory in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin-appointed Donetsk leader, Denis Pushilin, claimed Russian forces were advancing near Vugledar, a strategically valuable town southwest of Donetsk city. 

"Now we can say that units have established positions in the eastern part of Vugledar, and work is also being carried out in the vicinity," Pushilin says, according to Russian news agencies.

But Kyiv rejected the claim, while conceding that the fighting there was tough. — AFP

January 30, 2023

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg asked South Korea on Monday to "step up" military support for Ukraine, suggesting it reconsider its policy of not exporting weapons to countries in conflict.

Stoltenberg is in Seoul on the first leg of his Asia trip, which will also take in Japan, as part of a drive to boost ties with the region's democratic allies in the face of the Ukraine conflict and growing competition from China.

He met top South Korean officials Sunday, and on Monday urged Seoul to do more to help Kyiv, saying there was an "urgent need for more ammunition".

He pointed to countries like Germany and Norway that had "long standing policies not to export weapons to countries in conflict" which they revised after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February last year.

"If we believe in freedom, democracy, if we don't want autocracy and totalitarian to win then they need weapons," he said, speaking at the Chey Institute in Seoul. -- AFP

January 30, 2023

Russian shelling of Ukraine's southern city of Kherson left at least three people dead on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky says, while a strike on Kharkiv killed one person, according to the regional governor.

"Today, the Russian army has been shelling Kherson atrociously all day," Zelensky says in his evening address.

"Two women, nurses, were wounded in the hospital. As of now, there are reports of six wounded and three dead."

The front in southern Ukraine has been considerably quieter recently than in the east, with Moscow withdrawing from Kherson city in November last year. 

But the key city and regional capital is still subject to frequent shelling. — AFP

January 29, 2023

North Korea on Sunday denied providing arms to Moscow after the United States said the nuclear-armed state supplied rockets and missiles to Russia's private military group Wagner.

Washington earlier this month designated the Wagner group as a "transnational criminal organization," citing its weapons dealings with Pyongyang in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The White House showed US intelligence photographs of Russian rail cars entering North Korea, picking up a load of infantry rockets and missiles, and returning to Russia, according to national security spokesman John Kirby.

In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, a senior North Korean official rejected the accusations, warning that the US will face a "really undesirable result" if it persists in spreading the "self-made rumour".

"Trying to tarnish the image of (North Korea) by fabricating a non-existent thing is a grave provocation that can never be allowed and that cannot but trigger its reaction," said Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the Department of US Affairs.

He also called it "a foolish attempt to justify its offer of weapons to Ukraine". -- AFP

January 27, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin repeats a claim that "neo-Nazis" were operating in Ukraine -- an allegation he has used to justify his military intervention there -- on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"Forgetting the lessons of history leads to the repetition of terrible tragedies," Putin says. "This is evidenced by the crimes against civilians, ethnic cleansing and punitive actions organized by neo-Nazis in Ukraine. It is against that evil that our soldiers are bravely fighting." — AFP

January 26, 2023

Ukraine said Thursday it had shot down more than a dozen Russian missiles launched towards Kyiv, while the capital's major reported an explosion in the city.

"The enemy launched more than 15 cruise missiles in the direction of Kyiv. Thanks to the excellent work of air defence, all air targets were shot down," said Sergiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration, while mayor Vitali Klitschko said: "Explosion in Kyiv! Stay in shelters!" -- AFP

January 26, 2023

Ukraine says Russian forces had fired more than 30 missiles at targets across the country, in the latest wave of attacks that have put pressure on Ukraine's air defence systems.

"We expect more than 30 missiles, which have already started to appear in various territories. Air defence systems are working," Yuriy Ignat, a Ukrainian military spokesman, tells local media. — AFP

January 25, 2023

Germany on Wednesday approves the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, after weeks of pressure from Kyiv and many allies.

Berlin will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from the Bundeswehr stocks and is also granting approval for other European countries to send tanks from their own stocks to Ukraine, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit says in a statement.

"The aim is to quickly assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine," he says. — AFP

January 25, 2023

The Kremlin says Wednesday that if Western countries supply Ukraine with heavy tanks they will be destroyed on the battlefield, as Kyiv awaits a decision from Berlin on deliveries of Leopard 2 tanks.

"Technologically, this is a failed plan. This is an overestimation of the potential that this will add to the Ukrainian army," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.

"These tanks burn like all the rest. They are just very expensive." — AFP

January 25, 2023

Berlin was expected to announce a decision on Wednesday on the export of powerful German-made Leopard battle tanks long sought by Kyiv, and encouraged allies to start training Ukrainian forces to use them. 

Western nations have pledged ever-more sophisticated military hardware in recent weeks to help Ukraine repel Russia's invasion, with all eyes in Kyiv on the battle tanks.

Berlin stopped short of a green light on Tuesday, but German media -- including newspaper Der Spiegel and news channel NTV -- reported that Chancellor Olaf Scholz would grant approval.

The announcement was set to come Wednesday and also include permission for other countries, including Poland, to transfer their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the outlets reported. — AFP

January 24, 2023

Western allies must provide Ukraine with heavier weapons to repel Russia's invasion as Moscow has shown no signs of changing course, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday.

"We have no indication that President (Vladimir) Putin has changed his goals... The only way to lasting peace is to make it clear to Putin that he will not win on the battlefield. Therefore, we must provide heavier and more advanced systems," Stoltenberg said during a visit to Berlin. -- AFP

January 21, 2023

A senior US official says Ukraine should not fixate on defending the city of Bakhmut at all costs and instead use a window of opportunity to prepare a major counter-offensive against Russian forces.

That industrial hub has become the epicenter of the grinding war in eastern Ukraine, involving mass artillery strikes, slow advances and high casualties for both sides.

Bakhmut has also turned into a key political and symbolic prize, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visiting the frontlines there in December, right before his dramatic trip to address the US Congress in Washington. — AFP

January 20, 2023

The Kremlin warns that Western tanks will make little difference on the ground in Ukraine as Western powers gathered to discuss a new package of military aid for Kyiv.

"One should not exaggerate the importance of such supplies in terms of the ability to change something," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters.

"This will add problems for Ukraine, but this will change nothing in terms of the Russian side advancing on the path to achieving its goals." — AFP

January 19, 2023

Estonia on Thursday says it would increase its military support to war-torn Ukraine to more than one percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), arguing that arms assistance at "greater scale and speed" was essential.

The considerable pledge from the tiny Baltic state came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky heaped pressure on Western allies to contribute more heavy weapons to fight Russia.

Estonia's government said it would provide Ukraine with its "largest military aid package to date, which includes remote fire and anti-tank weapons as well as ammunition worth a total of 113 million euros ($122 million)."  — AFP

January 19, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Ukraine aimed to reclaim Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, as he called on his Western partners to provide him with more weaponry.

"Our objective is to liberate all of our territories," he tells an audience in Davos, speaking in Ukrainian. "Crimea is our land, our territory, our sea, and our mountains. Give us your weapons and we will bring our land back." — AFP

January 19, 2023

Ukrainian authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding a helicopter crash that killed the country's interior minister and 13 others.

Wednesday's crash outside Kyiv came as the head of NATO said at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos that allies were set to provide "heavier weapons" to the war-battered country.

Ukraine did not claim direct Russian involvement in the helicopter crash, but President Volodymyr Zelensky said the tragedy was a consequence of the war. — AFP

January 18, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky describes a fatal helicopter crash outside Kyiv that killed the interior minister and more than a dozen others as "a terrible tragedy".

"Today, a terrible tragedy occurred in Brovary, Kyiv region. A SES (state emergency services) helicopter crashed, and a fire broke out at the crash site. The pain is unspeakable," he says in a statement on social media. — AFP

January 18, 2023

A helicopter crashed near a kindergarten outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, causing casualties, the regional governor says.

"In the city of Brovary, a helicopter fell near a kindergarten and a residential building," the head of the Kyiv regional administration, Oleksiy Kuleba, says on Telegram, adding that, "children and employees were in the kindergarten ... there are casualties recorded." — AFP

January 17, 2023

Ukraine says Tuesday that 25 people were still missing after a Russian missile strike on a block of apartments that killed at least 41 people in the city of Dnipro.

Saturday's strike was one of the deadliest attacks since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago. The Kremlin denies that Russian troops were responsible.

"Twenty-five people are currently being sought," the state emergency services say. — AFP

January 15, 2023

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday pledged to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the first Western country to supply the heavy tanks Kyiv has been calling for.

The pledge saw a swift reaction from Russia which warned it would only "intensify" the conflict.

"Bringing tanks to the conflict zone, far from drawing the hostilities to a close, will only serve to intensify combat operations, generating more casualties, including among the civilian population", the Russian embassy in the UK said.

Sunak said the tanks were a sign of the UK's "ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine", according to a readout of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukraine's European allies have sent Kyiv more than 300 modernised Soviet tanks since Russia invaded in February 2022. — AFP

January 15, 2023

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledges to provide 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, making it the first Western country to supply the heavy tanks Kyiv has been calling for.

The pledge saw a swift reaction from Russia which warned it would only "intensify" the conflict.

"Bringing tanks to the conflict zone, far from drawing the hostilities to a close, will only serve to intensify combat operations, generating more casualties, including among the civilian population", the Russian embassy in the UK says. — AFP

January 14, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes the UK's decision to provide tanks to his country, saying it would "send the right signal" as Kyiv has been pressing allies for more heavy weapons.

"In a conversation with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, I thanked (him) for the decisions that will not only strengthen us on the battlefield, but also send the right signal to other partners," Zelensky says on Twitter. — AFP 

January 14, 2023

Officials say several explosions resonated in Ukraine's capital on Saturday morning, AFP journalists heard, as officials report strikes on key infrastructure.

"Missile attack on critical infrastructure facilities" in Kyiv, the Deputy Head of Presidency Kyrylo Tymoshenko says on Telegram.

The city administration said an infrastructure facility had been hit. — AFP

January 14, 2023

Russia says its forces had wrested control of the war-scarred town of Soledar in east Ukraine, its first claim of victory in months of battlefield setbacks, but Ukraine says fierce fighting was still under way.

Both sides have conceded heavy losses in the battle for the salt mining outpost, with Moscow desperate to sell any win back home after repeated humiliations and Ukraine determined to hold -- and win back -- ground.

The Russian defense ministry announces it had "completed the liberation" of Soledar late the previous day and that the victory would pave the way for more "successful offensive operations" in the Donetsk region. — AFP

January 13, 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut and Soledar in the east would be armed with everything they need to keep Russian troops at bay in some of the bloodiest battles of the war.

Kyiv said earlier its troops were fighting to retain control of the now-battered industrial towns in the east, which Russian mercenaries claimed earlier this week to have taken.

The Kremlin has made capturing the Bakhmut -- and Soledar with it -- its primary objective after nearly one year of fighting, having been forced to abandon more ambitious goals such as seizing the capital Kyiv.

"I want to emphasise that the units defending these cities will be provided with ammunition and everything necessary, on time and without interruption," Zelensky says in a statement after a meeting with senior military officials.

Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said earlier the fight for Soledar was "the fiercest and heaviest" of the war. — AFP

January 12, 2023

Ukraine says Thursday its forces were fighting to retain control of Soledar, a town in the eastern Donetsk region, but the situation remained "difficult."

"The fiercest and heaviest fighting is continuing today in the area of Soledar," Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar told reporters.

"Despite the difficult situation, Ukrainian soldiers are fighting stubbornly," she adds. — AFP

January 11, 2023

The fate of the Ukrainian city of Soledar remains unclear, with Russian mercenary group Wagner claiming control of it while also saying "urban battles" were still being fought.

Both sides have said the battle for Soledar, known for its salt mines, has been intense and bloody. Its fall would mark a significant victory for Moscow's forces. 

Soledar, in the Donetsk region, lies 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the city of Bakhmut, which Russia has been trying to seize for months. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia's controversial mercenary Wagner group, claimed in the early hours of Wednesday that his fighters seized control of the town. 

"Wagner units have taken control of the whole territory of Soledar," Prigozhin alleged on social media. — AFP

January 9, 2023

Russian-backed separatist forces in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine said Monday they had seized a village near the key city of Bakhmut that Moscow has been trying to capture for months.

The village of Bakhmutske in "the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic was liberated by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," on Monday, read a statement from separatist authorities on Telegram.

AFP could not independently verify these claims.

The village lies northeast of Bakhmut, a wine-making and salt-mining city that used to have a population of 70,000 people and is now an epicentre of fighting.

The village is just outside the city of Soledar, also the scene of heavy fighting. — AFP

January 9, 2023

Russia says it had carried out a devastating "retaliatory strike" in eastern Ukraine to avenge a recent deadly attack on its troops, a claim quickly denied by Kyiv.

"More than 600 Ukrainian servicemen were killed" by a missile strike on troops stationed in two buildings used as barracks in Kramatorsk, says a Russian defence ministry statement.

Russia described the attack as a "retaliatory strike" following Ukraine's New Year's Eve missile salvo in the eastern Ukrainian town of Makiivka, which Moscow said killed 89 of its soldiers.

Ukraine's armed forces rejected Russia's claim about the Kramatorsk attack.

"This information is as true as the data that they have destroyed all of our HIMARS," Sergiy Cherevaty, spokesman for the eastern group of the Ukrainian armed forces, tells the Suspilne media outlet. In the attack on Makiivka, Ukraine used US-supplied HIMARS missiles. — AFP

January 7, 2023

Artillery exchanges pounded war-scarred cities in eastern Ukraine on Friday despite Russian leader Vladimir Putin unilaterally ordering his forces to pause attacks for 36 hours for the Orthodox Christmas.

The brief ceasefire declared by Putin earlier this week was supposed to begin at 0900 GMT Friday and would have been the first full pause since Moscow's invasion in February 2022.

But AFP journalists heard both outgoing and incoming shelling in the frontline city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine after the time when the Russian ceasefire was supposed to have begun.

Moscow's forces also struck Kramatorsk in the east, the Ukrainian presidential administration said, as well as the frontline town of Kurakhove where residential buildings and a medical facility were damaged. — AFP

January 6, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin orders a 36-hour ceasefire in Ukraine to run during Orthodox Christmas, a move quickly dismissed by war-battered Kyiv and its allies.

Putin's directive to his troops was announced days after Moscow suffered its deadliest reported loss of the invasion, and as Ukraine's supporters pledged to send armoured vehicles and a second Patriot air defence battery to aid Kyiv.

Both nations celebrate Orthodox Christmas and the Russian leader's order came following ceasefire calls from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's spiritual leader Patriarch Kirill, a staunch Putin supporter.

"Taking into account the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, I instruct the defence minister of the Russian Federation to introduce... a ceasefire along the entire line of contact between the sides in Ukraine," says a Kremlin statement.

It will run from midday Friday (0900 GMT), until the end of Saturday (2100 GMT), the Kremlin says. — AFP

January 5, 2023

Russia's spiritual leader, Patriarch Kirill, calls for a ceasefire in Ukraine on Orthodox Christmas, celebrated this week by both countries.

The 76-year-old Orthodox leader is a staunch supporter of President Vladimir Putin and his offensive in Ukraine.

He has given his blessing to Russian troops fighting in Ukraine and delivered heavily anti-Western and anti-Kyiv sermons throughout the conflict.

"I, Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and of all Rus, appeal to all parties involved in the internecine conflict with a call to cease fire and establish a Christmas truce from 12:00 on January 6 to 00:00 on January 7 so that Orthodox people can attend services on Christmas Eve and on the day of the Nativity of Christ," he says on the church's official website.

The Russian Orthodox Church has lost considerable influence in Ukraine since Moscow's annexation of Crimea and fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014. 

In 2019, part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church broke ties with Moscow — which has had spiritual dominance in much of Ukraine for centuries — in a historic schism. — AFP

January 5, 2023

The United States is not "hand-wringing" over the mass casualties of Russian soldiers in a Ukrainian attack reportedly using US-supplied artillery, a senior White House official said Wednesday.

The New Year's strike hit a building in the occupied eastern Ukrainian town of Makiivka being used as a barracks. Russia has officially conceded there were 89 deaths -- already an unusually high number -- while Ukraine's military estimates that nearly 400 soldiers died.

Following criticism in Russia over the use of US-delivered weaponry by Ukrainian defenders, including in the Makiivka strike, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia is to blame.

There is no "hand-wringing by the administration at all. This is a war. They have been invaded and they (Ukrainians) are striking back and defending themselves," Kirby said. "Russian soldiers in their territory are legitimate targets for Ukrainian military action, period." — AFP

January 4, 2023

An auto garage in Kyiv is giving beat-up cars a second life as battle-ready vehicles for Ukraine's military, trying to plug a supply gap as the war with Russia grinds on.

The shop formerly specialised in collision repairs, but that changed after Russia invaded in February and volunteers reached out about preparing vehicles to send to the front.

Now its mechanics spend long days working on pickup trucks and buses requested by the military for tasks including transporting weaponry and surveillance drones. 

"We are not a wealthy country, and the state cannot provide all our soldiers with armoured four-wheel-drive vehicles, so pickups are a compromise," Anton Senenko, one of the volunteers coordinating the effort, told AFP. 

The repair work can make the difference between life and death for soldiers operating in eastern Ukraine, where fighting is currently concentrated, he said. 

"Very often, there are breakdowns with cars in peacetime. But in wartime, such a breakdown can lead to a tragedy," he said.  -- AFP

January 2, 2023

An alert was in effect for Kyiv on Monday after an "air attack", the city's military administration announces, with the mayor citing an explosion in one district that left one person injured.

Monday's early morning attack comes after a New Year assault by Russia that saw Kyiv and other cities under fire from missiles and Iranian-made drones. 

The warning from Kyiv's military administration came just after 1 am local time (2300 GMT). 

"Air attack on Kyiv... Air alert is on in the capital," it announced on the messaging app Telegram.

The city's military administration head, Serhiy Popko, called for people to "stay in shelters". — AFP

December 31, 2022

Ukraine says it had repelled a night-time drone attack from Russia, a day after Moscow launched a wave of missile strikes in the run-up to New Year celebrations.

A frontline soldier, meanwhile, described the fighting in the east of the country as "butchery", in comments to AFP.

The attacks came 10 months into President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, with Russian strikes on the energy grid having left millions in the cold in the middle of winter. — AFP

December 31, 2022

Russia's authorities announce that soldiers and state employees deployed in Ukraine will be exempt from income tax, in the latest effort to encourage support of its military operation there.

The new measure concerns all those fighting in the four Ukrainian territories Russia has declared as its own, although it does not completely control them: Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov cited an exemption contained in an anti-corruption law, which the Russian authorities published the details of Thursday evening. — AFP

December 29, 2022

Ukraine reports a fresh barrage of Russian strikes, wounding at least three people including a teenager in Kyiv and cutting electricity in the west.

On Thursday morning, blasts were reported across the vast country including in the Ukrainian capital, the second city Kharkiv in the east and the western city of Lviv on the border with Poland. 

Most of Lviv, where Russian strikes are still rare, was left without electricity, its mayor Andriy Sadoviy says. — AFP

December 26, 2022

Ukraine is planning to call for Russia to be removed as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

"Tomorrow we will officially express our position. We have a very simple question: Does Russia have the right to remain a permanent member of the UN Security Council and to be in the United Nations at all?" he said, speaking late Sunday during a national television marathon.

"We have a convincing and reasoned answer -- no, it does not."

Kuleba said the question of Russia's veto-wielding permanent seat in the UN Security Council -- also held by the United States, Britain, France and China -- was already being discussed around diplomacy circles.

"These issues are not yet discussed at press conferences and in public statements by the leaders of states and governments, but at a lower level, people are already asking the question -- what Russia should become like in order not to pose a threat to peace and security," he said.

The powerful Security Council consists of 15 members tasked with tackling global crises by enacting sanctions, authorising military action, and approving changes to the UN charter. -- AFP

December 25, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blasted Russian "terror" after shelling left 10 dead and 55 injured in Kherson city on Saturday, urging his compatriots to persevere as they observed a Christmas Eve defined by war.

On the day marking 10 months since the start of the Russian invasion, shells rained around a busy market and started a fire in the southern port city which Kyiv's forces recaptured in November.

AFP journalists at the scene saw several bodies lying on the street, including a man killed in his car. 

Rescuers and police officers were seen comforting a man in tears next to a lifeless woman.

Severely injured residents lay on the ground, medics tending to them. — AFP

December 23, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly appeals for long-term US support on his first foreign trip since Russia's invasion, saying aid was not "charity" and had helped keep his country "alive and kicking."

Three hundred days after Russian leader Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine with hopes of swift conquest, Zelensky enjoyed a hero's welcome on a lightning trip to Washington where President Joe Biden committed nearly $1.8 billion in military supplies including, for the first time, the Patriot missile defense system.

Zelensky -- whose media savvy and rugged demeanor have helped rally world opinion -- wore his trademark green military fatigues as he held talks at the White House and addressed Congress, where he handed over an Ukrainian flag fresh from the battlefield.

As Congress finalizes a new package of $45 billion, Zelensky voiced gratitude and said that the new year would mark the "turning point" in the fight against Russia.

"Against all odds and doom-and-gloom scenarios," Zelensky said in a speech that drew standing ovations, "Ukraine is alive and kicking."

"Your money is not charity. It's an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way," Zelensky said. — AFP

December 22, 2022

The Kremlin said Thursday that Washington and Kyiv were turning a deaf ear to Russia's concerns following a historic visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States.

"We can say with regret that so far neither President (Joe) Biden nor President Zelensky have said even a few words that could be perceived as potential readiness to listen to Russia's concerns," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Washington was fighting an "indirect war" against Russia. — AFP

December 22, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the US Congress as a wartime leader appealing for American support, as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill did more than 80 years before.

Zelensky's visit to Washington -- much like Churchill's in December 1941 -- came with his country under relentless attack and international aid essential to its ability to fight on.

"Ukraine holds its lines and will never surrender," Zelensky told Congress, echoing one of Churchill's most famous phrases and earning a standing ovation. — AFP

December 21, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet US leader Joe Biden and address Congress in Washington on Wednesday, during a visit the White House said will send Russia a strong message of Western unity.

The secretly arranged trip comes on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet his top military officials to assess the dire results so far of the war on Ukraine and set goals for next year.

It will be Zelensky's first trip outside Ukraine since Russian forces invaded in February, when they planned for a rapid takeover of Kyiv and much of the country. — AFP

December 19, 2022

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will on Monday announce a major new artillery package for Ukraine during a meeting of Nordic, Baltic and Dutch counterparts in Riga.

Sunak will arrive in Latvia on Monday for the meeting to discuss ongoing efforts to counter Russian aggression in the Nordic and Baltic region with fellow members of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).

Sunak will call on the leaders to maintain or exceed 2022 levels of support for Ukraine in 2023, a statement issued by the prime minister's office said.

He will also announce that the UK will supply "hundreds of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition next year under a £250 million ($304 million) contract that will ensure a constant flow of critical artillery ammunition to Ukraine throughout 2023", the statement said. — AFP

December 17, 2022

Ukraine was working Saturday to restore electricity to hospitals, heating systems and other critical infrastructure in major cities after Russia's latest wave of attacks on the power grid prompted accusations of "war crimes".

The volley of missiles unleashed Friday pitched multiple cities into darkness, cutting water and heat and forcing people to endure freezing cold. 

In the capital, where the mayor said only a third of residents had heat or water, people wrapped in winter coats crammed into underground metro stations after air raid sirens rang out in the morning.

"I woke up, I saw a rocket in the sky," Kyiv resident 25-year-old Lada Korovai said. "I saw it and understood that I have to go to the tube." -- AFP

December 16, 2022

Water supplies are disrupted across the Ukrainian capital Friday after a wave of Russian strikes and metro services suspended so that stations could be used as shelters, Kyiv's mayor said.

"Due to damage to energy infrastruture, there are interruptions to the water supplies in all areas of the capital," Vitali Klitschko says on social media after telling residents that "metro traffic is temporarily stopped on all lines." — AFP

December 16, 2022

Russian forces bombarded the Ukrainian city of Kherson with more than 16 strikes on Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky says. 

"Since the beginning of this day alone, Russia has bombed Kherson more than 16 times, only in one day!" the Ukrainian president said in his daily address on social media, adding there had also been "brutal Russian attacks" in the Donbas and the Kharkiv regions of the war-torn country. — AFP

December 15, 2022

Ukraine says Russian shelling on Thursday killed two people in the southern city of Kherson, which has been routinely targeted since Kyiv's forces recaptured it last month.

"The enemy hit the centre of the city again. One hundred metres from the Kherson region administrative building... There is information about two people killed. Emergency services are on site," the deputy head of the presidential administration, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, says on social media. — AFP

December 15, 2022

Ukraine says it had shot down more than a dozen Iranian-made drones in Moscow's latest assault on Kyiv. 

The attack came as the Kremlin promised no let-up to fighting over Christmas and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged European leaders to assist in setting up a court to try Russian leaders over the war.

"The terrorists started this morning with 13 Shaheds," Zelensky says, referring to the Iran-made weapons.

"All 13 were shot down," he adds, urging residents to heed air raid sirens. — AFP

December 14, 2022

The Pentagon is finalizing plans to send Patriot missile batteries that can shoot down incoming missiles to Ukraine, US media report.

As Russia has ramped up missile strikes on key Ukrainian infrastructure, the administration of President Joe Biden could announce the deployment as early as this week, US officials told The New York Times and CNN.  

Ukraine's air defenses have played a key role during Russia's invasion, but with Moscow stepping up strikes on energy infrastructure as it faces growing losses on the ground, Kyiv has repeatedly pressed other countries -- especially the United States -- for the Patriot system. — AFP

December 14, 2022

Ukraine's Western allies pledge an additional one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in emergency winter aid, responding to pleas from President Volodymyr Zelensky to help the country withstand Russia's onslaught against its energy grid.

Around 70 countries and international organisations gathered in Paris for a meeting aimed at enabling Ukrainians "to get through this winter", says French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a video message, Zelensky says Ukraine needed assistance worth around 800 million euros in the short term for its battered energy sector. — AFP

December 14, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for long-term help in clearing his war-ravaged nation of mines and other unexploded ordnance, which he says now cover an area roughly the size of Cambodia.

In a video address to New Zealand's parliament, Zelensky describes Russia's nearly year-old invasion as an "ecocide" that would have lasting impact and implored Wellington and others to step up aid.

"As of now, 174,000 square kilometres (67,000 square miles) of Ukrainian territory are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance," Zelensky tells lawmakers. — AFP

December 13, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky urges G7 nations to provide extra gas and weapons to help Ukraine survive a brutal winter, which threatens to bring further suffering to millions in the war-torn country.

With snow on the ground and Ukraine's energy grid battered by Russian strikes, many are facing freezing temperatures without power or heating.

During a video conference with the G7 club of wealthy nations, Zelensky says Ukraine needs "about two billion cubic metres" of additional gas to get through the winter. — AFP

December 12, 2022

The leaders of the G7 club of wealthy nations will hold an online meeting on Monday ahead of a planned summit in Paris on the reconstruction of Ukraine, the German chancellery said.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US will convene for the video conference in the afternoon, according to Germany, which holds the presidency of the group.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will hold a press conference at 5:30 pm (1630 GMT), the chancellery said.

The summit in Paris on Tuesday will see governments, business and aid agencies come together to look at what immediate assistance they can give Ukraine over the winter.

It will focus on the energy, health, food, transport and water sectors. — AFP

December 12, 2022

Two people were killed and another five wounded after Russian troops shelled the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, the governor said on Sunday.

The city of Kherson was in November recaptured by Ukrainian forces during a Kyiv counter-offensive. 

"The enemy again attacked the residential quarters of Kherson," the governor, Yaroslav Yanushevich, said on messaging app Telegram, adding the Russian forces hit a maternity ward, a cafe and apartment buildings on Saturday.

"Last night, two people were killed due to Russian shelling," Yanushevich said, adding that five others had been wounded. — AFP

December 10, 2022

A trio representing the three nations at the center of the war in Ukraine will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday, showing no sign of giving up the fight against Vladimir Putin and his Minsk ally.

Jailed Belarusian human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski, Russian human rights organisation Memorial, and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) will be presented with their awards at a formal ceremony in Oslo.

While the Peace Prize may be a small balm for the laureates' souls, it has in no way weakened their resolve.

"Putin will stop when he will be stopped", CCL head Oleksandra Matviichuk tells reporters at the Nobel Institute. — AFP 

December 9, 2022

President Vladimir Putin vows to keep battering Ukraine's energy grid despite an outcry against the systematic attacks that have plunged millions into the cold and dark as winter sets in.

He instead blamed Ukraine for initiating a trend of attacking civilian infrastructure, pointing to a blast on a key bridge between the Russian mainland and the annexed Crimean peninsula that he recently visited. 

"There's a lot of noise about our strikes on the energy infrastructure of a neighbouring country. This will not interfere with our combat missions," Putin says at a military awards ceremony in the Kremlin. — AFP

December 8, 2022

The International Committee of the Red Cross has visited Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war over the past two weeks, delivering supplies and news to families, it said on Thursday.

"The ICRC last week carried out one two-day visit to Ukrainian prisoners of war, with another happening this week. During the same period, visits were also carried out to Russian prisoners of war, with more visits planned by the end of the month," it said in a statement.

The visits allowed the group "to check on their condition and treatment and share much-awaited news with their families. Our teams were also able to provide items such as books, personal hygiene items, blankets, and warm clothes."

"ICRC teams are reaching out to families of prisoners of war to share updates from their loved ones. Most updates are short notes of love and personal news. Some ask family members not to worry. Others ask them for cigarettes, socks, and sweets. All these messages are a lifeline for anguished relatives," the statement said. — AFP

December 7, 2022

The United States said Tuesday it hadn't "enabled" Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russia, after a spate of drone attacks on military-linked facilities deep within Russian territory.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin convened his security council in the wake of the apparent drone strikes, Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility but neither did it criticize the action, which killed three people and damaged long range bombers and a fuel depot, according to reports from Russia.

"We have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

Washington has held back from supplying Ukraine forces with long-range ATACMS missiles that could strike inside Russia out of fears it could lead to a direct confrontation between Russian forces and those of the US and NATO. — AFP

December 6, 2022

A drone has attacked an airfield in Russia's Kursk region bordering Ukraine, the local governor said Tuesday, a day after Moscow blamed Ukraine for drone strikes at two Russian airfields.

"As a result of a drone attack in the area of the Kursk airfield, an oil storage tank caught fire. There were no casualties," governor Roman Starovoyt said on social media. — AFP

December 4, 2022

Angela Merkel left the German chancellery on December 8, 2021 at the height of her global stature. Twelve months on, it is hard to find a more precipitous drop in popularity and prestige in modern European politics.

The offices accorded to the former leader are in view of the Russian embassy, where since the Ukraine invasion in February Berliners regularly leave signs and flowers protesting the war.

Long called the world's most powerful woman, Merkel these days has pulled back from the spotlight, working on her memoirs and enjoying the occasional television series, such as "The Crown", which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II's turbulent decades on the throne.

But in many quarters the broad German support she once enjoyed as a staunch defender of Western liberal values has curdled.

"One year on, the world is in flames, Russia invaded Ukraine, gas and petrol prices are through the roof and Germany fears the winter," wrote Der Spiegel magazine's Alexander Osang, a longtime Merkel confidant.

"Angela Merkel went from role model to culprit, from crisis-manager to crisis-causer." — AFP

December 2, 2022

The Kremlin rejects US President Joe Biden's terms for Ukraine talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying Moscow's offensive will continue.

"What did President Biden say in fact? He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters, adding Moscow was "certainly" not ready to accept those conditions. 

"The special military operation is continuing," Peskov says, using the Kremlin term for the assault on Ukraine. — AFP  

December 2, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine will move to impose limitations on religious organizations in the country which have links to Russia.

"The National Security and Defense Council has instructed the government to propose to (parliament) a bill on proscribing activities in Ukraine by religious organisations affiliated with centres of influence in Russia," Zelensky says.

"National security officials should intensify measures to identify and counteract the subversive activities of the Russian special services in the religious space in Ukraine." — AFP

November 30, 2022

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday floats the idea of a "specialized court" to put Russia's top officials on trial for the war in Ukraine.

"While continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we are proposing to set up a specialised court backed by the United Nations to investigate and prosecute Russia's crime of aggression," she says in a video statement. -- AFP

November 30, 2022

Ukraine urges NATO members to speed up weapons deliveries and help restore its shattered power grid, as Western allies vowed to bolster support to aid Kyiv through winter in the face of Russia's attacks.

Moscow has unleashed waves of strikes against Ukraine's energy infrastructure as its troops are pushed back on the ground, plunging millions of people into darkness. 

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba calls for supplies of weapons, especially advanced air defense systems, to come "faster, faster, faster" as he joined a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the Romanian capital Bucharest. — AFP

November 26, 2022

Officials say Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed 15 civilians Friday, as engineers across the country sought to restore heat, water and power to major cities.

Throughout the country, Russian air strikes over recent weeks have brought Ukraine's energy infrastructure to its knees as winter approaches and temperatures approach freezing, spurring fears of a health crisis and a further exodus.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says that more six million households in the country were still affected by power cuts, two days after targeted Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. — AFP

November 25, 2022

Ukraine battles to reconnect water and electricity services to millions of people cut off after Russia launched dozens of cruise missiles that battered Ukraine's already crippled electricity grid.

The energy system in Ukraine is on the brink of collapse and millions have been subjected to emergency blackouts over recent weeks after systematic Russian bombardments of the grid.

The World Health Organisation has warned of "life-threatening" consequences and estimated that millions could leave their homes as a result. — AFP

November 23, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Russia of bringing "terror and murder" to Ukraine after a strike on a maternity ward killed a newborn baby in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

"The enemy has once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murder what it wasn't able to achieve for nine months and won't be able to achieve," Zelensky says on social media.

"Instead, it will only be held to account for all the evil it has brought to our country," he adds. — AFP

November 23, 2022

The defense ministry in London says Britain will send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since Russia's invasion.

Ten crews of Ukrainian service personnel and engineers underwent a six-week training program in the UK, as part of the "first helicopter capability the UK has donated to Ukraine", the ministry says.

In addition to the three former British military Sea King helicopters, the first of which has already arrived, the UK will also supply an additional 10,000 artillery rounds. — AFP

November 22, 2022

Russians have murdered, tortured and kidnapped Ukrainians in a systematic pattern that could implicate top officials in war crimes, a senior US official says as Kyiv said it had discovered four Russian torture sites in newly-liberated Kherson.

Moscow, in turn, accused Ukrainian forces of summarily killing a number or prisoners of war after a video of POW bodies surfaced.

Also Monday, the World Health Organization said Russia's missile attacks on Ukraine's power grid had left millions of lives at risk as the winter descended with frigid temperatures.

The damage is having "knock-out effects" on Ukraine's health system, WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge tells reporters.

"This winter will be about survival," he warns, saying it would be "life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine". — AFP

November 22, 2022

The US State Department's ambassador for global criminal justice says Russians have murdered, tortured and kidnapped Ukrainians in a systematic pattern that could implicate top officials in war crimes.

There is mounting evidence that Russia's invasion of Ukraine "has been accompanied by systemic war crimes committed in every region where Russian forces have been deployed," says Ambassador at Large Beth Van Schaack.

Evidence from liberated areas indicates "deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate" attacks against civilian populations, custodial abuses of civilians and POWs, forceful removal, or filtration, of Ukrainian citizens -- including children -- to Russia, and execution-like murders and sexual violence, she tells reporters. — AFP

November 21, 2022

UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi on Sunday denounced the "targeted" strikes at Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, calling for a "stop to this madness".

Around a dozen strikes had targeted the plant, he said, and the situation was "very serious", the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told French broadcaster BFMTV.

It was an outrage that some people "consider a nuclear power plant to be a legitimate military target", he said.

While he did not blame either Russia or Ukraine, Grossi said: "Whoever it is, stop this madness!

"The people who are doing this know where they are hitting. It is absolutely deliberate, targeted." — AFP

November 19, 2022

Millions of Ukrainians in more than a dozen provinces are experiencing severe power disruptions as temperatures plunge and almost half of the country's energy infrastructure is in need of repair after weeks of Russian attacks, officials in Kyiv say.

Russia, meanwhile, accused Kyiv's forces of executing a group of its soldiers who were surrendering to Ukraine in what Moscow described as a "massacre" that amounted to a war crime.

The assessment by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal of the widespread damage to the country's grid comes after weeks of sustained Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure. — AFP

November 18, 2022

Ukraine's air defenses are playing a key role in countering Russia's invasion, preventing Moscow's forces from gaining control of the skies and helping shield the country against missile and drone attacks.

But with Russia stepping up strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure as it faces growing losses on the ground, Kyiv is pressuring its supporters -- in particular the United States -- to provide advanced equipment such as Patriot missiles and F-15 warplanes.

"As Ukraine continues to fight, air defense capabilities are becoming critical for their future success," General Mark Milley, the top US military officer, says. — AFP 

November 18, 2022

Fresh Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine on Thursday, the latest in a wave of attacks that have crippled the country's energy infrastructure as winter sets in and temperatures drop.

Repeated barrages have disrupted electricity and water supplies to millions of Ukrainians, but the Kremlin blamed civilians' suffering on Kyiv's refusal to negotiate, rather than on Russian attacks.

AFP journalists in several Ukrainian cities said the latest strikes coincided with the first snow this season, after officials in Kyiv warned of "difficult" days ahead.

The capital's regional administration said, "Four missiles and five Shahed drones were shot down over Kyiv," referring to Iranian-made suicide drones Moscow has been deploying in swarms against Ukraine targets. — AFP

November 17, 2022

Fresh Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine on Thursday, officials say, the latest in a series of attacks that have crippled Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

"Two cruise missiles were shot down over Kyiv. Information about any casualties and damage is being clarified," Kyiv regional officials announce, after authorities in the central city of Dnipro and the Black Sea hub of Odessa also reported Russian strikes. — AFP

November 16, 2022

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns that it is "absolutely essential" to avoid escalating the Ukraine war after a deadly missile strike in NATO member Poland killed two people.

"The Secretary-General is very concerned by the reports of a missile exploding on Polish territory," the UN chief says, according to his spokesman Farhan Haq. "It is absolutely essential to avoid escalating the war in Ukraine." — AFP

November 15, 2022

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo on Tuesday urged G20 leaders to "end the war" as he opened a summit dominated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with Washington and allies heaping pressure on Moscow.

"Being responsible means creating not zero-sum situations, being responsible here also means that we must end the war," Widodo said.

The United States and its allies are looking to pin painfully high global food and fuel prices squarely at President Vladimir Putin's door during the gathering.

Eyeing a joint G20 declaration that would condemn the eight-month-old invasion and threats to use nuclear weapons, US and European officials have painted the summit as evidence of Russia's deepening isolation. -- AFP

November 14, 2022

Ukraine's Zelensky visits Kherson after Russian retreat: govt source

November 14, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Ukrainian forces that retook the city of Kherson found evidence of new war crimes by Russian occupiers.

"The Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country," he says in a nightly address.

"Investigators have already documented more than 400 war crimes," the Ukrainian leader says, without clearly specifying the area in which they were found.

"The bodies of the killed are being found, both civilians and military," he says. "We will find and bring to justice every murderer." — AFP

November 12, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declares Kherson "ours" after Russia withdrew troops from the city, which the US hails Saturday as an "extraordinary victory".

"As of now, our defenders are on the outskirts of the city. But special units are already in the city," Zelensky writes on Telegram, posting footage in which Ukrainian troops appeared to gather with residents.

"We see children running to meet us and greeting us," says Andriy Zholob, the commander of a medical unit currently about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kherson. — AFP

November 10, 2022

Kyiv reacts sceptically to Russia announcing its retreat from the southern city of Kherson, urging continued resistance until Ukraine liberates all of its occupied cities. 

Moscow's decision to withdraw troops from the regional capital it had seized earlier in the war came as the United States estimated more than 100,000 Russian military personnel have been killed or wounded in Ukraine.

Kyiv's forces have likely suffered similar casualties, according to top US General Mark Milley, who shared the most precise figures released to date by Washington. — AFP

November 10, 2022

Russia has probably committed crimes against humanity by forcibly transferring Ukrainian civilians in Russian-occupied areas of the country to other regions, Amnesty International says.

It says civilians were moved from occupied Ukraine further into Russian-controlled areas or into Russia, with children separated from their families in violation of international humanitarian law.

Amnesty says it had been told by civilians they had endured "abusive screening processes" –- known as filtration –- which sometimes resulted in arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment.

"Separating children from their families and forcing people hundreds of kilometres from their homes are further proof of the severe suffering Russia's invasion has inflicted on Ukraine's civilians," says Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International's secretary general.

"Russia's deplorable tactic of forcible transfer and deportation is a war crime. Amnesty International believes this must be investigated as a crime against humanity," she says. — AFP

November 8, 2022

Ukraine announces it had received more air defence systems from Western military allies, as officials in Kyiv asked residents to use electricity sparingly after weeks of Russian attacks on energy facilities.

The new weaponry comes as a question mark hovers over American support for Ukraine ahead of elections on Tuesday which will determine control of the US Congress.

Republicans, who analysts say will win the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate too, have expressed concerns about the level of spending for Ukraine -- although President Joe Biden's White House has vowed "unwavering" support for Kyiv regardless of the vote outcome.

Ukraine's defence ministry meanwhile says it was requisitioning several energy and manufacturing companies of strategic importance to guarantee sufficient supplies for the military to fend off Russia's invasion. — AFP

November 4, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Russia's campaign against Ukraine's energy network has left around 4.5 million people without power.

The two sides' forces continued to battle without significant change on the ground on the eastern and southern Ukraine fronts, with preparations building for a fight over the southern hub of Kherson.

Shipments of Ukraine grain to global markets meanwhile resumed after Moscow returned to a deal allowing their safe passage following international pressure. — AFP

November 1, 2022

Ukraine suffers sweeping blackouts and water supplies were cut to large parts of Kyiv after another wave of Russian missile strikes on key infrastructure.

The Ukrainian army's commander in chief, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, says on Telegram that Russia had launched 55 cruise missiles and dozens of other munitions at "civilian targets" across the country, days after Russia blamed Ukraine for drone attacks on its fleet in the Black Sea.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich early Tuesday called the bombardment "one of the most massive shellings of our territory by the army of the Russian Federation". — AFP

October 31, 2022

Russian strikes early Monday knocked out electricity and water in parts of Kyiv, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital said.

"An area of Kyiv is without electricity and certain areas without water following Russian strikes," Vitali Klitschko wrote on the Telegram messaging service. — AFP

October 28, 2022

The United Nations is "not aware" of any biological weapons program in Ukraine, a disarmament official says after Russia accused the United States of "military-biological activities" there and called for a UN probe.

"We are aware that the Russian Federation has filed an official complaint... regarding allegations of biological weapons programs in Ukraine," Adedeji Ebo, the UN's Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs tells the Security Council.

"As high representative Izumi Nakamitsu informed the council in March, and May of this year the United Nations is not aware of any such biological weapons programs," he says, noting that the UN had no mandate or technical capacity to investigate. — AFP

October 25, 2022

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday, his spokesperson told AFP, confirming his surprise visit to Ukraine.

The trip is his first to the country since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and came six months after Steinmeier, then under heavy fire for his years-long detente policy with Moscow, was snubbed by Kyiv.

The president also had to abort a trip at the last minute last week over security reasons, sparking criticisms from Germany's opposition.

"I am looking forward to my meeting with (Ukrainian) President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv," he says, according to a confirmation sent by his spokeswoman. — AFP

October 25, 2022

Russia must not escalate the conflict in Ukraine with false claims that Kyiv is planning to unleash a so-called "dirty bomb", the head of NATO warns.

Jens Stoltenberg weighed in following Moscow's repeated allegations that Ukraine could deploy such a weapon, sparking fears Russia could use one and blame Kyiv.

The head of the US-led military alliance says he had spoken with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Britain's Defence Secretary Ben Wallace "about Russia's false claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory."

"NATO Allies reject this allegation. Russia must not use it as a pretext for escalation. We remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine," he writes on Twitter. — AFP

October 24, 2022

Kyiv has denounced as dangerous lies suggestions from Russia that Ukraine was preparing to use a "dirty bomb" as a dramatic escalation in their eight-month-old war.

Ukraine's western allies also dismissed the allegations from Moscow, just hours after Russia went public with the startling claims.

In conversations with his British, French and Turkish counterparts, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu conveyed "concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a 'dirty bomb'", Moscow said, reffing to a weapon that uses traditional explosives to scatter radioactive material.

Shoigu also spoke to Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, but Moscow did not mention the dirty bomb allegations in its statement summarizing that call.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reacted swiftly, calling for a united international response.

"If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this," Zelensky said in a video address on social media. — AFP

October 22, 2022

Fresh Russian strikes on Saturday targeted energy infrastructure in Ukraine's west, national energy operator Ukrenergo said, with officials in several regions reporting outages.

Russians "carried out another missile attack on energy facilities of the main networks of Ukraine's western regions. The scale of the damage is comparable or may exceed the consequences of the attack on October 10-12," Ukrenergo says on social media.

Russian forces rained more than 80 missiles on cities across Ukraine on October 10, according to Kyiv, in apparent retaliation for an explosion that damaged a key bridge linking the Crimean peninsula to Russia

Energy restrictions were "forcibly applied" in several regions, including the capital Kyiv and its surrounding region, Ukrenergo says. 

"Ukrenergo specialists are taking all measures to restore electricity supply as soon as possible," the operator adds. — AFP 

October 22, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomes the capture of Russian arms by Ukraine's forces in the southern Kherson region where Moscow's troops face Kyiv's advancing counter-offensive.

"I also thank the soldiers of the 60th separate infantry brigade, whose units show good results in Kherson," Zelensky says in a video address. 

Since early October, the forces had captured more than 30 Russian armoured vehicles, thousands of projectiles for tanks and three artillery guns that will "help liberate our land", he adds. — AFP

October 21, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday accused Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow's forces.

"According to our information, the aggregate and dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant were mined by Russian terrorists," Zelensky says in his daily address published on social networks.

"If the dam is destroyed... the North Crimean canal will simply disappear", and this would be "a catastrophe on a grand scale", the Ukraine leader adds. — AFP

October 20, 2022

Ukraine has urged residents to drastically restrict their electricity consumption starting Thursday to cope with the destruction of power stations by the Russian army as winter approaches. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after a meeting with energy companies that they were preparing "for all possible scenarios with a view to winter", as Kyiv accused Moscow of orchestrating a "mass deportation" of civilians from the occupied region of Kherson.

Russian President Vladimir Putin imposed martial law on Wednesday in four areas recently annexed by the Kremlin, with his forces raining down munitions across Ukraine, including on Kyiv and the country's west, which had previously been spared the brunt of the onslaught.

In an evening address, Zelensky warned that "Russian terror will be directed at energy facilities", and urged the country to conserve electricity starting at 7 am (0400 GMT) on Thursday. — AFP

October 18, 2022

Ukraine says three strikes had hit a "power facility" in Kyiv, a day after deadly Russian drone strikes on the Ukrainian capital.

"Preliminarily, three hits on a power supply facility on the left bank of Kyiv," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office says on social media. — AFP

October 18, 2022

Ukraine announced Monday it had swapped more than 100 prisoners with Russia in what it said was the first all-female exchange with Moscow after nearly eight months of war.

"Another large-scale exchange of prisoners of war was carried out today... we freed 108 women from captivity. It was the first all-female exchange," the Ukraine presidency's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said on social media.

In his daily address late on Monday, President Vlodymyr Zelensky said "96 (of the swapped prisoners) are servicewomen, including 37 evacuees from Azovstal, and 12 are civilians."

Zelensky thanked "all involved for this success... the more Russian prisoners we have, the sooner we will be able to free our heroes." — AFP

October 17, 2022

Russian army draft offices will close in Moscow on Monday, the city's mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced, saying the Kremlin's mobilisation quotas to recruit reservists to fight in Ukraine had been completed in the capital. 

"Gathering points for mobilised people will close on October 17 2022, at 2:00 pm, 1100GMT," Sobyanin said on his website. He added that "the tasks of the partial mobilisation" — announced just over a month ago — in the city had been "completed in full." — AFP

October 15, 2022

The United States will send an additional $725 million in military assistance to Ukraine, the State Department and Pentagon announces.

The aid comes "in the wake of Russia’s brutal missile attacks on civilians across Ukraine," and "the mounting evidence of atrocities by Russia’s forces," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement. 

This newest package includes more ammunition for the HIMARS rocket system, the Department of Defense says in a separate statement. — AFP

October 15, 2022

The official SPA news agency says Saudi Arabia announced $400 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, adding that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had made a phone call to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The prince emphasized "the Kingdom's position of supporting everything that will contribute to de-escalation, and the Kingdom's readiness to continue the efforts of mediation," SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia last month played an unexpected role in facilitating a prisoner-of-war swap between Moscow and Kyiv. — AFP

October 14, 2022

Rapes and sexual assaults attributed to Moscow's forces in Ukraine are part of a Russian "military strategy" and a "deliberate tactic to dehumanise the victims", UN envoy Pramila Patten tells AFP in an interview.

"When you hear women testify about Russian soldiers equipped with Viagra, it's clearly a military strategy," the UN special representative on sexual violence told AFP on Thursday. "It is clearly a deliberate tactic to dehumanise the victims."

October 14, 2022

The United States is pressing allies to hastily build for Ukraine a patchwork air defense network using NATO-compatible equipment -- some ultra-modern, others older -- to protect strategic targets from Russian strikes.

The effort was given added urgency after Moscow pummeled Ukraine with missiles this week, damaging energy facilities nationwide and leaving at least 20 people dead. — AFP


October 14, 2022

The United States is pressing allies to hastily build for Ukraine a patchwork air defense network using NATO-compatible equipment -- some ultra-modern, others older -- to protect strategic targets from Russian strikes.

The effort was given added urgency after Moscow pummeled Ukraine with missiles this week, damaging energy facilities nationwide and leaving at least 20 people dead.

"What the (Ukrainian) leadership described that they needed yesterday most was air defense capability," US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Brussels on Thursday, a day after a meeting of 50 allied countries who coordinate their military support for Kyiv. — AFP

October 13, 2022

Russian-backed separatist forces in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine said Thursday they had captured two villages near the industrial city of Bakhmut, posting small gains against Kyiv's counter-offensive.

"A group of DNR and LNR troops — with fire support from the Russian Armed Forces — liberated Opytine and Ivangrad," a statement released by separatist authorities said on Telegram, using acronyms for the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics. 

The villages are located just south of Bakhmut, a wine-making and salt-mining city that used to be populated by some 70,000 people and which Russian forces have been pummelling for weeks to capture.

The reported gains come after weeks in which Ukrainian troops have been clawing back large swathes of territory in the south and east of Ukraine -- including Donetsk -- controlled by Russian forces for months. — AFP

October 13, 2022

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly votes to condemn Russia's annexation of parts of Ukraine, a move US President Joe Biden says sent a "clear message" to Moscow.

The General Assembly approved the resolution with 143 in favor and five against, but 35 nations abstained including China, India, South Africa and Pakistan despite a major US diplomatic effort to seek clearer condemnation of Moscow.

The resolution "condemns the organization by the Russian Federation of so-called referendums within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine" and "the attempted illegal annexation" announced last month of four regions by President Vladimir Putin.

It calls on all UN and international agencies not to recognize any changes announced by Russia to borders and demands that Moscow "immediately and unconditionally reverse" its decisions. — AFP

October 12, 2022

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says that Ukraine's western backers were looking to provide Kyiv with more air defenses to protect against Russia's "indiscriminate" missile attacks across the country. 

"We will address how to ramp up support for Ukraine and the top priority will be more air defence for Ukraine," Stoltenberg says at the start of a meeting by Ukraine's allies on arms supplies to Kyiv. — AFP

October 11, 2022

Ukraine says at least 19 people were killed and more than 100 wounded as a result of Russian strikes across the country a day earlier. 

"According to preliminary data, 19 people were killed and 105 more were injured," Ukraine's emergency services say on Facebook. — AFP

October 11, 2022

Ukraine vows it would not be intimidated by a wave of deadly missile strikes from "terrorist state" Russia as Moscow stoked fears of further retaliation with threats of more "severe" attacks. 

The heaviest bombardment of Ukraine in months, which killed 11 and wounded more than 80, came in response to an explosion at the weekend that damaged a vital bridge from Russia to the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula.

"Ukraine cannot be intimidated. It can only be more united. Ukraine cannot be stopped," President Volodymyr Zelensky says in a defiant video, vowing to make the "battlefield even more painful" for Russian troops.

Kyiv says Russian forces had fired more than 80 missiles on cities across the country -- including the capital -- and that Russia had used Iranian drones launched from neighbouring Belarus, spurring panic and damaging energy facilities.

"Let there be no doubt," Russia's President Vladimir Putin says in televised comments addressed to his security council, "if attempts at terrorist attacks continue, the response from Russia will be severe." — AFP

October 10, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that he had spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron to urge a tough response against Moscow after strikes rocked cities across his country.

Zelensky said in a series of tweets that with Scholz he had discussed "increasing pressure" on Russia and with Macron that he had talked about "strengthening of our air defense, the need for a tough European and international reaction, as well as increased pressure on the Russian Federation." -- AFP

October 10, 2022

Three loud blasts were heard in central Kyiv early on Monday, according to AFP journalists in the city, a day after Russia's leader blamed Ukraine for an explosion on a key Crimea bridge.

The explosions took place around 0815 local time (0515 GMT), with air raid sirens sounding in the Ukrainian capital more than an hour before the blasts.

"Several explosions in the Shevchenkivskyi district -- in the centre of the capital," Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media. -- AFP

October 10, 2022

A series of loud explosions rocked Ukraine's capital Kyiv early Monday morning, a day after Moscow blamed Ukraine for a deadly blast on the bridge linking Crimea to Russia.

The explosions hit Kyiv around 8:15 am local time (0515 GMT), and an AFP journalist in the city saw numerous ambulances appearing to head towards the scene of the blasts.

"Several explosions in the Shevchenkivskyi district -- in the centre of the capital," Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko says on social media. 

Videos posted on social media showed black smoke rising above several areas in the city. — AFP

October 9, 2022

Divers were to inspect the waters beneath the Crimea bridge on Sunday a day after a huge blast damaged Russia's key road and rail link to the annexed peninsula, killing three people.

"We are ordering the examination by divers, they will start work from six in the morning," Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told state media late  Saturday after the early morning explosion. 

He also said the "first results" of Russia's inspection of the bridge were due Sunday. 

Authorities in Russia and Crimea have tried to reassure the population and downplayed the attack on the bridge, which has major symbolic  importance for the Kremlin.

Officals said car and train traffic had resumed over the bridge, with Moscow's transport ministry saying Sunday that long-distance passenger trains from Crimea to Russia were "moving according to the standard schedule".

The Russian-installed leader of Crimea, Sergei Askyonov, said late Saturday that authorities were assessing whether it is safe to let busses through. 

He said people who want to get back to Russia could take a car or a ferry to  cities such as Krasnodar and Anapa.  — AFP

October 9, 2022

At least 17 people including a child died when seven Russian missiles struck the industrial town of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities said Saturday.

The missiles struck before dawn on Thursday, with three landing in the town centre, just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the artillery battles of the southern front.

"In total, 17 people were killed," Ukraine's State Emergency Service said on Telegram, adding that one of them was a child.

The toll has repeatedly risen since an initial tally of one dead. Earlier on Saturday, it had stood at 14.

A five-storey residential building on the main street was almost razed to the ground.

President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out on Telegram saying Zaporizhzhia "is subjected to massive rocket attacks every day... (it's a) deliberate crime".  — AFP

October 8, 2022

The town council's secretary announces that at least 14 people died when seven Russian missiles struck the industrial town of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.

The missiles struck before dawn on Thursday, with three landing in the town centre, just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the artillery battles of the southern front.

"Sad news keeps coming to us from the analysis of the buildings hit during the attack," says Anatoly Kurtev via Telegram. — AFP

October 8, 2022

Russian forces say they had captured ground in Donetsk in east Ukraine, their first claim of new gains since a Kyiv counter-offensive rattled Moscow's war effort.

The announcement came as Russia's Orthodox leader said President Vladimir Putin's rule had been mandated by God, congratulating him on his 70th birthday, and as the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to rights defenders in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Separatist forces in the war-battered Donetsk region said they had retaken a series of villages near the Ukraine-controlled industrial town of Bakhmut, which has been under Russian shelling for weeks. — AFP

October 7, 2022

Ukraine says it had recaptured swathes of fresh territory from Russian troops as Kyiv urged Europe to help its forces expel Moscow's army once and for all.

The proclaimed wins in the southern region of Kherson are the latest in a series of Russian defeats undermining the Kremlin's claim to have annexed around 20 percent of Ukraine.

Russian missiles early on Thursday struck the central city of Zaporizhzhia, killing several civilians, as rescue workers clawed through rubble with their bare hands searching for survivors, AFP journalists saw.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated more than 400 square kilometres of the Kherson region since the beginning of October," southern army command spokeswoman Natalia Gumeniuk says in a briefing online. — AFP

October 6, 2022

At least two people died and five others were missing in attacks on Ukraine's southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, the region's governor says, blaming Russia for the strikes.

The Ukrainian-controlled city is located in the eponymous Zaporizhzhia region, also home to the Russian-occupied nuclear plant that has been the site of heavy shelling. 

Moscow annexed the region this week, despite not having full control of it.  

"One woman died and another person died in an ambulance," Ukrainian-appointed governor Oleksandr Starukh says on social media. — AFP

October 6, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he expected the situation to "stabilise" in Ukrainian regions annexed by the Kremlin after Moscow suffered military setbacks and lost several key towns to Kyiv.

He also ordered his government to seize control over Europe's largest nuclear power plant in the Russian-controlled region of Zaporizhzhia, with IAEA head Rafael Grossi en route to Kyiv for consultations on the facility. — AFP

October 5, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed legislation to annex four territories of Ukraine, according to documents published by a government portal. 

The Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions are "accepted into the Russian Federation in accordance with the constitution of the Russian Federation", the documents says. — AFP

October 5, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his forces were making "rapid and powerful" gains in southern Ukraine and that they had retaken "dozens" of villages from Russia this week.

"The Ukrainian army is quite rapidly and powerfully advancing in the south," Zelensky says in his daily address on social media, adding that "dozens of settlements" had been recaptured in the south and east.

Some of the territory was taken back in the regions of Kherson, Lugansk and Donetsk, he says, where referendums were held last week on being annexed by Russia.

Kyiv and the West have denounced the referendums as a sham. — AFP

October 1, 2022

Nuclear weapons experts say the United States would almost certainly discover ahead of time if Russia was preparing a nuclear strike on Ukraine, and Moscow might very well want it known.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons if Russia's "territorial integrity" or existence is threatened.

Moscow's declaration Friday that it was annexing four partly-occupied regions of Ukraine potentially meant Russia could consider responding to attacks on the claimed territory with a nuclear strike. — AFP

September 30, 2022

The United Nations Security Council will vote Friday on a resolution condemning the referendums on annexing several Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine, the council's current president, France, says Thursday.

The resolution -- drafted by the United States and Albania -- has no chance of passing thanks to Moscow's veto power, though it can then be presented to the General Assembly.

The text, seen by AFP, "condemns the Russian Federation's organization of illegal so-called referenda" in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, saying they "have no validity," "cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions," including "any purported annexation."

It calls on member states not to recognize any annexation of the areas by Russia and demands Moscow "immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine." — AFP

September 30, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized the independence of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, according to presidential decrees issued late Thursday, on the eve of Russia finalising their annexation. 

"I order the recognition of the state sovereignty and independence" of the regions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, located in southern Ukraine, Putin says in the decrees, as Russia prepares to formalise the annexation of the two regions, along with Donetsk and Lugansk on Friday.

Moscow has said it will annex four occupied regions of Ukraine at a grand ceremony in the Kremlin on Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the annexation of the areas would be formalised at the ceremony and that Putin would deliver a major speech. — AFP

September 29, 2022

Moscow will formally annex four Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine at a Kremlin ceremony on Friday, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says. 

"Tomorrow in the Georgian Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace at 15:00 (1200 GMT) a signing ceremony will take place on the incorporation of the new territories into Russia," spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, adding that Putin will make a speech at this event. — AFP

September 29, 2022

On a bright morning in Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar, a young Russian fleeing Moscow's first military call-up since World War II had a stark answer for why he had left: "I don't want to kill people."

He was among thousands of Russians who have streamed across the land border into Mongolia over the past week since President Vladimir Putin issued a mobilisation order for the war in Ukraine.

The announcement sent shock waves across the vast nation and triggered an international exodus, with tens of thousands leaving the country since the mobilisation.

Finland, Norway, Turkey and Georgia have, like Mongolia, reported an increase in Russian arrivals in recent days.

"It was very difficult to leave everything behind -- home, motherland, my relatives -- but it's better than killing people," the man in his twenties told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said he had decided to go to Mongolia because it appeared easily accessible.

"I grabbed my papers and bags and ran," he said. 

He said there is a huge network of online groups helping Russian men evade conscription, with travel advice changing constantly as draft evaders navigate the challenges of fleeing their country at a moment's notice. -- AFP

September 28, 2022

The UN reaffirms its commitment to Ukraine's "territorial integrity", as pro-Moscow authorities in several parts of the war-torn nation claimed victory in annexation votes condemned internationally as a sham.

"The United Nations remains fully committed to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders," Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo tells a meeting of the UN Security Council.  

Addressing the meeting by video link, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once more denounced the ballots hastily organized in Russian-occupied regions -- Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. — AFP

September 26, 2022

As soon as President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial mobilisation" for the war in Ukraine former Russian army officer Alex jumped in his car and drove to Finland with a single suitcase.

"I don't want to be killing my Slav people, my brothers, my sisters," the middle-aged man tells AFP from a modest hotel room in Finland, where he arrived on Thursday.

"I am physically disgusted to be in the presence of our Russian citizens who support the war", the IT engineer says.

The Crimea-born middle-aged man spoke to AFP on condition of not revealing his full identity, fearing for his wife and child left behind in Russia.  -- AFP

September 26, 2022

Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews gathered in the Ukrainian city of Uman for their annual pilgrimage, officials say Sunday, despite authorities asking them to skip the trip because of the war.

Every year, Hasidic Jewish pilgrims come to Uman in central Ukraine from across the world to visit the tomb of one of the main figures of Hasidic Judaism for the Jewish new year celebration of Rosh Hashanah.

"This is the most important day of the year to be able to connect with God. And this a great place to do it," one pilgrim, Aaron Allen, tells AFP. — AFP

September 24, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges the world to condemn "pseudo-referendums" as Kremlin proxies began voting on annexation by Russia in Moscow-held areas of Ukraine.

"The world will react absolutely justly to pseudo-referendums -- they will be unequivocally condemned," Zelensky says in his daily address to the nation.

Four provinces in Ukraine that are fully or partially controlled by Russia -- Donetsk and Lugansk in the east as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south -- are holding votes on whether to be annexed by Moscow. 

The ballots have been dismissed as a "sham" by Kyiv and its Western allies. — AFP

September 23, 2022

UN investigators say that war crimes have been committed in the Ukraine conflict, listing Russian bombings of civilians areas, numerous executions, torture and horrific sexual violence.

"Based on the evidence gathered by the Commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine," Erik Mose, the head of the investigation team, tells the UN Human Rights Council.

The categorical nature of the statement was unusual. — AFP 

September 22, 2022

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky demands that the world punish Russia in a dramatic video address to the UN General Assembly, where US President Joe Biden accused Moscow of violating basic international norms.

Laying out what he called his conditions for peace, Zelensky -- the sole leader allowed to address the summit virtually -- called 15 times for "punishment" of Russia over its invasion.

"Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory. Punishment for the murders of thousands of people. Punishment for tortures and humiliations of women and men," Zelensky says in English in a pre-recorded video.

Zelensky calls for a special tribunal to hold Russia accountable, saying it would be a "signal to all would-be aggressors."

He also demands a compensation fund, saying Russia "should pay for this war with its own assets." — AFP

September 21, 2022

President Vladimir Putin ordersa partial military mobilisation and vows to use "all available means" to protect Russian territory, after Moscow-held regions of Ukraine suddenly announced annexation referendums.

The votes, already denounced by Kyiv and the West as a "sham", will dramatically up the stakes in the seven-month old conflict in Ukraine by giving Moscow the ability to accuse Ukrainian forces of attacking its own territory.

Four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine -- Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south -- said on Tuesday that they would hold the votes over five days beginning Friday.

In a pre-recorded address to the nation early on Wednesday, Putin accused the West of trying to "destroy" his country through its backing of Kyiv, and said Russia needed to support those in Ukraine who wanted to "determine their own future".

The Russian leader announced a partial military mobilisation, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu telling state television that some 300,000 reservists would be called up. — AFP

September 21, 2022

The Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom accuses Russia of again striking the Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant in southern Ukraine.

"Russian terrorists bombed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant again during the night," Energoatom says on Telegram. — AFP

September 21, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hails Western allies for their condemnation of plans by authorities in pro-Moscow regions of Ukraine to hold referendums on joining Russia.

"I thank all the friends and partners of Ukraine for their massive and firm condemnation of Russia's intentions to organise yet more pseudo-referendums," he says in his daily address.

Zelensky plays down the importance of the plans by pro-Russian authorities in the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to hold the votes from September 23 to 27.

"Today there was pretty big news from Russia. But what actually happened? Have we heard anything we didn't hear before?" he says.

"Our position does not change according to this noise or any other announcement. Let's preserve our unity, protect Ukraine, liberate our land and not show any weakness." — AFP

September 20, 2022

Ukraine's troops retook almost all of the Kharkiv region in their lightning counter-offensive, but in the city of Kupiansk -- split in two by the Oskil River -- Russian forces are fighting to hold on.

So recent is the Ukrainian victory in Kupiansk, a rail hub, that billboards erected by President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party still loom over smashed shop fronts, while shells whistle overhead.  

The Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine was an early target of Russia's invasion in February this year, and Kyiv's counterattack this month was hailed as a potential turning point in the war. 

In the past two weeks, Ukraine has pushed the Russians back from the fields around the regional capital Kharkiv and has liberated a string of villages -- along with most of Kupiansk.

They have still not quite completed the symbolic feat of forcing Russia out of the entire Kharkiv region, and back into Donetsk, the eastern region the Kremlin insists was its main target all along. — AFP

September 19, 2022

The Kremlin on Monday said that claims mass graves were found in the formerly Russian-controlled city of Izyum in eastern Ukraine were fabrications. 

"These are lies," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Moscow "will stand up for the truth in this story". -- AFP

September 19, 2022

Ukraine's nuclear energy agency Energoatom accuses Moscow's troops of an attack on the country's second largest nuclear plant in the south.  

"The Russian army carried out a missile attack on the industrial site" of the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant, Energoatom says in a post on the Telegram messaging service, adding that a "powerful explosion" took place "just 300 metres" from the reactors of the facility's reactors. — AFP

September 17, 2022

Western leaders voice revulsion and outrage after Ukraine found a mass grave outside the formerly Russian-occupied city of Izyum and said that almost all of the exhumed bodies showed signs of torture.

Officials counted 450 hastily dug graves, some marked by rough wooden crosses at the site in a pine forest only recently recaptured by Ukrainian fighters.

"Among the bodies that were exhumed today, 99 percent showed signs of violent death," Oleg Synegubov, head of Kharkiv regional administration, said on social media. — AFP

September 16, 2022

UN member states will vote on making an exception to allow Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to address next week's General Assembly by video, according to diplomatic sources.

World leaders were allowed to speak by video in 2020 and in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year the event has gone back to in-person.

Only heads of government or state are allowed to speak. — AFP

September 16, 2022

The White House approves a new package of up to $600 million in additional military aid for Ukraine, as Washington moves to support Kyiv's counteroffensive against Russia's invasion force.

The aid consists of equipment and services, as well as training, the executive branch says in a statement. It did not provide further details, including on the type of weapons provided.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States has provided more than $15 billion in military assistance to Kyiv.

This latest US announcement comes two weeks after the Ukrainian army began to wage a massive counter-offensive against Russian troops. — AFP

September 15, 2022

EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday she was in Kyiv for meetings with officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss closer cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union.

"In Kyiv, for my 3rd visit since the start of Russia's war. So much has changed. Ukraine is now an EU candidate," von der Leyen says on Twitter.

"I'll discuss with Zelensky and (Prime Minister) Denys Shmygal how to continue getting our economies and people closer while Ukraine progresses towards accession," she says. — AFP

September 15, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promises "victory" on a visit to the strategic city of Izyum that was recently recaptured from Russia by Kyiv's army in a lightning counter-offensive.

The visit comes at a decisive moment in Russia's six-month-old invasion, with Ukraine expelling Moscow's forces from swathes of the east and seriously challenging the Kremlin's ambition to capture the entire Donbas region of Ukraine.

"Our blue-yellow flag is already flying in de-occupied Izyum. And it will be so in every Ukrainian city and village," Zelensky says in a statement on social media.

"We are moving in only one direction -- forward and towards victory." — AFP

September 12, 2022

Russia says its forces were striking parts of the eastern Kharkiv region retaken by Ukraine, vowing to continue its military action in the country. 

It also says it saw no opening for talks with Kyiv, ruling out negotiations.

The defence ministry in its daily briefing said Russian air, rocket and artillery forces were "delivering precision strikes on units and reserves of the Ukrainian armed forces", including in the urban hubs of Kupiansk and Izyum.

Over the weekend, Ukraine claimed sweeping successes against Russian forces in the south and the east, including the cities of Izyum, Kupiansk and Balakliya.

Ukrainian armed forces said Monday they had recaptured more than 20 settlements in the past 24 hours amid a large counter-offensive. — AFP

September 12, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky confirms Ukrainian troops had recaptured the strategic city of Izyum in the east of the country from Russian forces as part of a large-scale counter-offensive.

In an address to the nation marking 200 days since the beginning of the Russia's invasion, Zelensky thanks Ukrainian forces who "liberated hundreds of our cities and villages ... and most recently Balakliya, Izyum and Kupiansk," naming three important hubs recently captured by Kyiv's army.

The head of the Ukrainian military announced early Sunday that as much as 3,000 square kilometres (1,158 square miles) had been wrested from Russia since the offensive began at the beginning of this month.

Military observers have said the confirmed recapture by Ukraine of Izyum would represent be a serious blow to Moscow's military ambitions in east Ukraine. — AFP

September 10, 2022

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrives in Kyiv on Saturday on a surprise visit, which she said was to demonstrate Berlin's unwavering support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia.

It is her second trip to Ukraine and comes a week after Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal's trip to Berlin where he had repeated Kyiv's call for weapons.

"I have travelled to Kyiv today to show that they can continue to rely on us. That we will continue to stand by Ukraine for as long as necessary with deliveries of weapons, and with humanitarian and financial support," Baerbock says in a statement. — AFP

September 8, 2022

The United States on Thursday approved another $2 billion in loans and grants for Ukraine and its neighbors to buy US military equipment, the State Department said.

The new aid from the Foreign Military Funding program is in addition to $675 million in fresh direct aid to Ukraine announced earlier Thursday by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. — AFP

September 8, 2022

The United Nations cites "credible accusations" that Moscow's forces have forcibly taken Ukrainian children to Russia, while Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of benefitting from the eased grain blockade.

Kyiv meanwhile says its forces had recaptured significant territory in a counter-offensive southeast of Kharkiv that experts say could threaten key Russian supply routes.

As Europe girded for the prospect of winter with diminished energy supplies, the European Commission proposes a series of measures to control energy skyrocketing prices and punish Moscow for invading Ukraine, including a price cap on Russian gas.

"We are facing an extraordinary situation, because Russia is an unreliable supplier and is manipulating our energy markets," warned EU chief Ursula von der Leyen. — AFP

September 7, 2022

US President Joe Biden's administration says it would be counterproductive to brand Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism," rejecting calls from Ukraine and lawmakers to take the far-reaching action.

Biden, asked by a reporter on Monday if he would blacklist Russia as a terrorist state, said simply, "no," after months of non-committal answers from senior officials.

Asked Tuesday whether a decision had been made, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says a terrorism designation was "not the most effective or strongest path forward" to "hold Russia accountable."

She says the designation would hamper aid delivery to parts of war-ravaged Ukraine or prevent aid groups and companies from participating in a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to ship badly needed grain from Ukraine's blockaded ports. — AFP

September 6, 2022

The last working reactor at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was disconnected from the grid after shelling caused a fire, with the UN's atomic watchdog due to brief the Security Council about the crisis on Tuesday.

Soon after it invaded in February, Moscow largely took control of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of southern Ukraine and is now aiming to absorb them into Russia through referendums -- as it did with Crimea in 2014.

Russia also blames Western sanctions for its halting of gas supplies to Germany and on top of the crisis in Europe, there are fears of a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia -- Europe's biggest atomic facility.

"Today the last power transmission line connecting the plant to the energy system of Ukraine was damaged due to another Russian provocative shelling," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says in an address on Monday.

"Due to Russian provocation, the Zaporizhzhia plant is one step away from a radiation disaster." — AFP

September 6, 2022

Ukraine's embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's last working reactor has been switched off from the grid, the Ukrainian power plants operator says.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (ZNPP) -- Europe's largest atomic facility -- has been shelled in recent weeks, with Kyiv and Moscow blaming each other for the attacks, raising concerns of a possible incident.

"Power unit (reactor) No. 6 was unloaded and disconnected from the grid" because of a fire that was "triggered because of shelling", state-run company Energoatom says in a statement on Monday.

"The world is once again on the brink of a nuclear disaster. The de-occupation of the ZNPP and the creation of a demilitarised zone around it is the only way to ensure nuclear safety," Ukraine's Energy Minister German Galushchenko says following the news on Monday. — AFP

September 4, 2022

Prime Minister Denys Shmygal will be the first high-level Ukrainian official to visit Germany in months on Sunday, in a sign of eased tensions after a rocky patch between Kyiv and Berlin.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly vowed Germany's strong support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia's invasion.

But in the immediate weeks after Russian troops marched on Ukraine, Kyiv had blasted German aid as too little and too late.

A visit by Scholz to Kyiv in June and the arrival of weapons from Germany have since led to a change in tone.

"Germany has made huge progress in its support of Ukraine with weapons," Shmygal told German media ahead of his trip, in a transcript published by his press office. 

But the prime minister said Kyiv needs more from Berlin, including "modern combat tanks" like the Leopard 2. — AFP

September 1, 2022

UN inspectors say they would seek to establish a permanent presence at a Russian-held plant in southern Ukraine to avoid "a nuclear accident" at the facility on the frontline of the fighting.

The 14-strong team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to arrive at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which lies inside Russian-held territory, on Thursday.

"My mission is... to prevent a nuclear accident and preserve the largest nuclear power plant in Europe," IAEA director general Rafael Grossi tells reporters after travelling from Kyiv to the city of Zaporizhzhia. 

"We are preparing for the real work which begins tomorrow," he says. "We are going to try to establish a permanent presence for the agency." — AFP

August 31, 2022

A team led by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency set off from Kyiv on Wednesday for a Russian-held nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine that has sparked global concern.

The Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's biggest, is on the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces, and the area has been shelled repeatedly in recent days, with the two sides accusing each other.

"We are now finally moving," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, who arrived in Kyiv on Monday with a 13-strong team, tells reporters before heading off. — AFP

August 31, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Russia of attacking the area near Europe's biggest nuclear plant due to be visited by UN inspectors as intense battles raged in southern Ukraine.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi arrived in Kyiv late Monday together with a 13-strong team and headed for the Zaporizhzhia plant which has been occupied by Russian troops since early March.

"Sadly, Russia is not stopping its provocations precisely in the directions the mission needs to travel to arrive at the plant," Zelensky says in his daily address to the nation. — AFP

August 31, 2022

The United States says that a top Russian official has been put in charge of "sham" referenda aimed at annexing parts of Ukraine as it again warned that votes could come soon.

Sergei Kiriyenko, who is President Vladimir Putin's domestic policy chief and served as prime minister under post-communist leader Boris Yeltsin, is overseeing efforts in the territories "in advance of their attempted incorporation into Russia, which would be illegal if completed," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel says.

A senior White House official said on August 24 that referenda in sections of Ukraine under Russian control could begin "in a matter of days."

Patel says that the referenda "could take place in the coming weeks, but the United States and the international community know the simple truth that all of Ukraine is and always will remain Ukraine."

"The sham referenda will attempt to give a veneer of legitimacy to a blatant land grab that would violate the Ukrainian constitution and international law," he tells reporters. — AFP

August 30, 2022

The European Union's defence ministers appear divided on a plan to hold a major training mission for Ukrainian forces as they arrived for an informal meeting in Prague on Tuesday.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, co-hosting the meeting together with the Czech presidency of the bloc, proposed the training operation last week.

Few details were disclosed but Borrell said the Ukrainian soldiers battling a Russian invasion since February 24 should be trained in nearby EU member states. — AFP

August 30, 2022

Ukrainian forces pressed their counter-offensive to retake the Russian-occupied southern region of Kherson, while a team of UN experts were en route to inspect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant which was targeted by fresh shelling over the weekend.

The coastal region of Kherson and its capital city of the same name have been contested by Russian troops since the war broke out six months ago.

"Ukrainian armed forces have launched their offensive in several areas in the south," the head of the regional administration, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said on the Telegram app.

In his daily address Monday night, President Volodymyr Zelensky did not specifically mention the counter-offensive but said they would oust the occupying forces "to the border".

"If they want to survive, it is time for the Russian military to flee. Go home," he said. — AFP

August 30, 2022

Russia is struggling to find more soldiers to fight in Ukraine, even tapping prisons, and many new recruits are older, in poor shape and lacking training, a senior US defense official says.

The official noted Russian President Vladimir Putin's decree last Thursday to increase the headcount of the country's army by about 10 percent to 1.15 million servicemen, starting January next year.

After experiencing significant setbacks and heavy troop losses in six months after invading Ukraine, the Pentagon believes that "this effort is unlikely to succeed, as Russia has historically not met personnel and strength targets," the official says.

"Russia has already begun trying to expand recruitment efforts," the official tells journalists on the basis of anonymity.

"They've done this in part by eliminating the upper age limit for new recruits, and also by recruiting of prisoners," the official says. — AFP

August 28, 2022

Ukraine and Russia traded fresh accusations of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday, as its operator warned of the risk of a radioactive leak.

The Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine has been occupied by Russian troops since early March.

Kyiv and Moscow have repeatedly accused each other of rocket attacks in the vicinity of the plant -- Europe's largest -- located in the city of Energodar.

On Saturday its Ukraine operator Energoatom said Russian troops had "repeatedly shelled" it over the past day.

"As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the station has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high," Energoatom said on Telegram.

The agency said that as of midday Saturday (0900 GMT) the plant "operates with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards". -- AFP

August 27, 2022

Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, occupied by Moscow's troops, came back online Friday, the state operator says after Kyiv claimed it was cut from the national power grid by Russian shelling.

The plant -- Europe's largest nuclear facility -- was severed Thursday from Ukraine's power network for the first time in its four-decade history due to "actions of the invaders", Energoatom says.

The operator says that as of 2:04 pm (1104 GMT) the plant "is connected to the grid and produces electricity for the needs of Ukraine" once again. — AFP

August 26, 2022

"It's such a shame for this boy, such a shame," says Viktor, a resident of the Ukrainian city of Chaplyne, whose young neighbour was killed by a Russian strike.

Russian missiles slammed into the town of 4,000 people, a railway hub in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, killing 25 people including two children and injuring 31, the presidency says.  

"An 11-year-old boy was killed under the rubble, another six-year-old died in a burnt-out car near the station," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of the presidential administration, says on Telegram. — AFP

August 25, 2022

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls the six-month anniversary of the start of Russia's war in Ukraine a "sad and tragic milestone."

Guterres made the comments during a special meeting of the UN Security Council in New York to mark the anniversary of Russia's invasion of its neighbor on February 24.

The UN chief describes the six months of conflict as "devastating," adding that he remains "gravely concerned" about military activity around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, Europe's largest atomic power plant.

"The warning lights are flashing," he says.

"Any further escalation of the situation could lead to self-destruction. The security of the plant must be ensured, and the plant must be re-established as purely civilian infrastructure," he adds. — AFP

August 24, 2022

Pope Francis renewed calls for peace Wednesday "for the beloved Ukrainian people" on the war-torn country's Independence Day and the six-month anniversary of the start of Russia's invasion.

Following his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Francis directed his address to "the beloved Ukrainian people who for six months today have been suffering the horror of war," while warning of the risk of nuclear catastrophe in the region. 

"I hope that concrete steps will be taken to put an end to the war and to avert the risk of a nuclear disaster in Zaporizhzhia," he said, referring to the Russian-controlled nuclear plant in southern Ukraine -- Europe's largest - that has been the target of military strikes, blamed by each side on the other. 

The 85-year-old pope cited "so many innocents who are paying for madness" -- whether prisoners, refugees, children or orphans -- as the war drags on. -- AFP

August 24, 2022

Chancellor Olaf Scholz assurs Kyiv of Germany's support for as long as necessary, as Ukraine marked both its independence day and six months since the start of the Russian invasion.

"Germany... stands firmly by the side of the threatened Ukraine today and for as long as Ukraine needs our support," Scholz says in a video posted on Twitter.

"We will continue to supply weapons" and "train Ukrainian soldiers on the latest European military equipment", Scholz says after announcing fresh deliveries worth more than 500 million euros ($500 million). — AFP

August 24, 2022

Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over who was endangering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, as the United Nations urge both sides to insulate the Ukrainian facility from the ongoing war.

Russia called the meeting at the UN Security Council to discuss the dangers that close shelling and a military presence posed to the power plant in southern Ukraine, amid fears that a damaged reactor could leak radiation across the region.

Russian troops have controlled the plant for weeks and allegedly have placed arms and war supplies there, something that Moscow denies. — AFP

August 24, 2022

Russia and Ukraine trade accusations over who was endangering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, as the United Nations urged both sides to insulate the Ukrainian facility from the ongoing war.

Russia called the meeting at the UN Security Council to discuss the dangers that close shelling and a military presence posed to the power plant in southern Ukraine, amid fears that a damaged reactor could leak radiation across the region.

Russian troops have controlled the plant for weeks and allegedly have placed arms and war supplies there, something that Moscow denies. — AFP

August 22, 2022

Russia might take the provocative step of putting Ukrainian soldiers on trial as Kyiv marks 31 years of independence for the war-ravaged country next week, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky warns.

Zelensky cites media reports that Russia was preparing to put Ukrainian fighters captured during the siege of Mariupol on a public trial to coincide with the independence anniversary Wednesday.

Ukraine's Independence Day, August 24, will also mark six months since Russia invaded the former Soviet republic, in a devastating war that has cost thousands of lives.

"If this despicable court takes place, if our people are brought into these settings in violation of all agreements, all international rules, there will be abuse," Zelensky warns in an evening address.

"This will be the line beyond which no negotiations are possible." — AFP

August 20, 2022

The French presidency says Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that independent inspectors can travel to the Moscow-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, as fears grow over fighting near the site.

The apparent resolution of a dispute over whether inspectors travel via Ukraine or Russia came as a US defense official said Ukraine's forces had brought the Russian advance to a halt.

"You are seeing a complete and total lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield," the official says, speaking on grounds of anonymity. — AFP

August 19, 2022

Two Russian villages were evacuated on Thursday after a fire broke out at an ammunition depot near the border with Ukraine, local authorities say. 

The blaze comes days after explosions at a military base and munitions depot in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow, which Russia called an act of "sabotage" by Kyiv. 

"An ammunition depot caught fire near the village of Timonovo," less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Ukrainian border in Belgorod province, the region's governor Vyacheslav Gladkov says in a statement. 

No casualties were reported, but residents of Timonovo and the nearby village of Soloti were "moved to a safe distance", he says, adding that authorities were investigating the cause of the fire. — AFP

August 18, 2022

Ukraine must "prepare for all scenarios" linked to a Russian-occupied nuclear plant, the interior minister says during a drill for emergency workers in the nearby city of Zaporizhzhia. 

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, the biggest atomic power station in Europe, which has been under Russian control since March.

The tensions around the facility have sparked fears of another nuclear disaster in Europe like the one in Chernobyl in then Soviet Ukraine in 1986.

"Nobody could have predicted that Russian troops would be firing on nuclear reactors with tanks. It is incredible," Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky says in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia, 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the plant. — AFP

August 18, 2022

Ukraine's president condemns a Russian strike that the region's governor said killed at least six people and wounded 16 in Ukraine's Kharkiv on Wednesday as "despicable and cynical".

President Volodymyr Zelensky said a block of flats was "totally destroyed" in the attack, which he says, "had no justification and shows the powerlessness of the aggressor".

"We will not forgive, we will take revenge", the president says on the Telegram app. — AFP

August 17, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN chief Antonio Guterres will meet in Ukraine on Thursday, the United Nations announces.

Guterres will then on Friday visit the Ukrainian port city of Odessa -- one of three ports being used in the recent deal to export grain from the war-ravaged country -- before heading to Turkey. — AFP

August 16, 2022

Moscow says Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and UN chief Antonio Guterres discussed the security situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, which is currently under Moscow's control and has been the target of fighting.

"Sergei Shoigu conducted telephone negotiations with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regarding the conditions for safe operation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," the Russian defense ministry says in a statement. 

The plant, Europe's biggest nuclear facility, was captured by Russian troops at the beginning of March, not long after Moscow launched its military offensive in Ukraine. — AFP

August 15, 2022

The first UN-chartered vessel set to transport grain from Ukraine under a deal to relieve a global food crisis was loaded with 23,000 tonnes of wheat on Sunday and is ready to depart, Kyiv announces.

The MV Brave Commander will "head to Africa" and "Ethiopia will be the last country where the 23,000-tonne cargo of wheat will be delivered", Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov says at the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi in Yuzhne city to oversee the ship's loading.

"I hope that other ships chartered by the (UN's) World Food Programme will come to our ports. I hope there will soon be two, three more ships," Kubrakov adds. — AFP

August 12, 2022

Ukraine accuses Russia of carrying out rocket strikes that killed 14 civilians in areas near a nuclear power plant, as the G7 warns that Russian control of the facility "endangers the region".

Overnight strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region in central Ukraine killed 13 people and injured 11, with five reported to be in a serious condition, regional governor Valentin Reznichenko writes on Telegram.

"It was a terrible night," he says, urging residents to shelter when they hear air raid sirens. — AFP

August 11, 2022

Ukraine accuses Russia of carrying out rocket strikes that killed 14 civilians in areas near a nuclear power plant, as the G7 warned that Russian control of the facility "endangers the region".

Overnight strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region in central Ukraine killed 13 people and injured 11, with five reported to be in a serious condition, regional governor Valentin Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.

Most of the casualties were in the town of Marganets, just across the Dnipro River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's biggest. — AFP

August 10, 2022

Thirteen civilians were killed by Russian strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region in central Ukraine, the local governor said on Wednesday.

"It was a terrible night. 11 people were killed," Valentin Reznichenko writes on Telegram. 

He adds in a later post that two more people had died of their injuries overnight.

Twelve of the victims were killed in strikes on the village of Marganets, on the other side of the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, said Mykola Lukashuk, the regional council head. — AFP

August 9, 2022

Ukraine's security service says  it had arrested Russian agents who were planning to assassinate the defence minister and the military intelligence chief.

The SBU "arrested killers from the Russian special services who were plotting the assassinations" of Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov and military intelligence boss Kyrylo Budanov, the service says on Telegram. — AFP

August 8, 2022

Four more ships loaded with grain set off from Ukrainian ports, as Moscow and Kyiv blamed each other for a new strike at a Russian-occupied nuclear plant. 

Amnesty International, meanwhile, says it deeply regretted the "distress and anger" caused after it alleged Ukrainian forces were flouting international law by exposing civilians to Russian fire. But it stands by its controversial report.

Kyiv's infrastructure ministry writes on Telegram that a second convoy of Ukrainian supplies had just left, three from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa. — AFP

August 7, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday accused Russia of using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant "for terror" after the operator of the facility reported major damage at the site.

Energoatom, operator of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the south of the country, said Saturday that parts of the facility had been "seriously damaged" by military strikes and one of its reactors was forced to shut down.

Friday's strikes had damaged a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an auxiliary building, Energoatom said on the Telegram messaging service.

As hostilities raged on in the east and south of Ukraine, pro-Moscow authorities in the Russian-occupied Kherson region reported another assassination attempt on a senior official.

And the head of Amnesty International's Ukraine office announced she had resigned from the organisation over the group's publication of a controversial report that accused the country's military of endangering civilians.

Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest atomic power complex.

Zelensky, in his nightly address on Saturday, once again accused Moscow of terrorism, saying, "Russian terrorists became the first in the world to use the power plant... for terror."

The European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell condemned the attack "as a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia's disregard for international norms".

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog also expressed alarm. The strikes underline "the very real risk of a nuclear disaster", said Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). -- AFP

August 6, 2022

Three bulk carriers loaded with grain set sail from Ukraine on Friday under a landmark deal to free up shipments brokered by Turkey, as its leader met his Russian counterpart for talks on Moscow's invasion of its neighbour.

Months of efforts by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw Moscow and Kyiv agree in Istanbul last month to resume the shipments from Ukrainian ports in a bid to relieve a global food crisis caused by the assault launched in February.

The government in Kyiv said on social media that two ships carrying Ukrainian maize -- the Maltese-flagged Rojen and the Turkish Polarnet -- had set off from Chornomorsk while the Panama-flagged Navistar departed from Odessa. 

As the vessels left, Erdogan was preparing with most of his top ministers for his second talks with President Vladimir Putin in 17 days and a working lunch in the Russian resort city of Sochi. — AFP

August 5, 2022

Three more ships filled with grain will sail from Ukraine on Friday under a UN-backed deal lifting Russia's blockade of the Black Sea, Turkey's defence minister says.

"It is planned that three ships will set sail tomorrow from Ukraine," Anadolu state news agency quotes Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying, one day after the first ship passed Istanbul on its way to Lebanon.

Ankara also announced that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the agreement's implementation by phone with UN chief Antonio Guterres, without disclosing further details.

Moscow and Kyiv agreed in Istanbul last month to resume shipments of wheat and other grain from Ukrainian ports for the first time since Russia invaded its neighbour in February.

The first ship, loaded with 26,000 tonnes of maize, set off from Odessa on Monday for the Lebanese port of Tripoli. — AFP

August 2, 2022

The United States announces a new tranche of weapons for Ukraine's forces fighting Russia, including ammunition for increasingly important rocket launchers and artillery guns.

The new $550 million package will "include more ammunition for the high mobility advanced rocket systems otherwise known as HIMARS, as well as ammunition" for artillery, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tells reporters.

The assistance includes 75,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition, a statement from the Pentagon says. — AFP

August 2, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky says  that it was "too soon" to celebrate, after a shipment of grain left a Ukrainian port under a UN and Turkey-brokered deal.

"At this time, it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts," he says in his daily video address. "Let's wait and see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed." 

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain since the Russian invasion in February left the port of Odessa on Monday under the landmark deal to lift Moscow's naval blockade in the Black Sea. — AFP

August 1, 2022

The first shipment of Ukrainian grain left the port of Odessa on Monday under a deal aimed at relieving a global food crisis following Russia's invasion of its neighbour, the Turkish defence ministry says. 

"The ship Razoni has left the port of Odessa bound for Tripoli in Lebanon. It is expected in Istanbul on August 2. It will then continue its journey after it has been inspected in Istanbul," the ministry says.

The vessel was carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn, according to Ukraine's infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov. — AFP

August 1, 2022

Ukraine says the "strongest" shelling by Moscow so far of the southern city Mykolaiv killed a grain tycoon Sunday, as Russia claims an attack from a drone wounded six personnel at the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea. 

AFP journalists witness intense Russian bombardment of the eastern town of Bakhmut after President Volodymyr Zelensky called for civilians to leave the front line Donetsk region bearing the brunt of the Kremlin's offensive.

Russian authorities in the Crimean Black Sea peninsula -- seized by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 -- say a small explosive device from a commercial drone, likely launched nearby, hit the navy command in Sevastopol. — AFP

July 31, 2022

Ukraine's president urged civilians on Saturday to evacuate the frontline Donetsk region, the scene of fierce clashes with the Russian military, as Kyiv called on the Red Cross and UN to gain access to its soldiers being held by Moscow's forces.

The eastern Donetsk region has faced the brunt of Russia's offensive since its assault on Kyiv failed weeks into the invasion launched on February 24.

Zelensky warned in his daily address that thousands of people, including children, were still in the region's battleground areas, with six civilians killed and 15 wounded on Friday, according to the Donetsk governor. 

"There's already a governmental decision about obligatory evacuation from Donetsk," Zelensky said, underscoring authorities' calls to leave the besieged region in recent weeks. 

"Leave, we will help," Zelensky said. "At this stage of the war, terror is the main weapon of Russia." — AFP

July 30, 2022

Officials say fresh Russian strikes hit towns and cities across Ukraine's sprawling front line, killing at least one person in the south and hitting a school in Kharkiv.

The mayor of the southern city of Mykolaiv -- close to where Ukrainian troops are seeking to stage a counter-offensive -- says one person was killed when rockets pounded two residential districts overnight. 

Six others were wounded in the strikes, which left "windows and doors broken, and balconies destroyed", mayor Oleksandr Sienkevych writes on Telegram. — AFP

July 30, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky says the shelling of a prison in the separatist-controlled east holding Ukrainian servicemen was a "deliberate Russian war crime" that had claimed more than 50 lives.

"Today I received information about the attack by the occupiers on Olenivka (the prison's location), in the Donetsk region. It is a deliberate Russian war crime, a deliberate mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war. More than 50 dead," he says in his daily address. 

Russia and Moscow-backed separatists had earlier on Friday accused Kyiv's forces of striking the jail, saying dozens of people died and scores were wounded. — AFP 

July 22, 2022

Ukraine and Russia are set to sign a deal Friday to unblock grain exports and relieve a global food crisis, as a critical Russian gas pipeline to Europe reopened.

But there is no respite in the conflict on the ground, with Russian artillery on Thursday pounding Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv, already scarred by weeks of shelling.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due to arrive in Turkey on Thursday for the grain deal signing ceremony at Istanbul's lavish Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus Strait.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweets that the agreement will be signed in Istanbul on Friday under the auspices of the Turkish leader, Guterres and Ukrainian and Russian delegations.

The first major agreement between the warring sides since Russia's February invasion of its neighbour comes with global food prices soaring and people in some of the world's poorest countries facing starvation. — AFP

July 20, 2022

Authorities say Russian shelling pounded eastern and southern Ukraine Tuesday as President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would only ease the path for Black Sea exports of Ukrainian grain if the West lifts sanctions on Russian shipments.

Russian strikes hit the eastern city of Kramatorsk on Tuesday, killing one person, local authorities say. — AFP

July 16, 2022

Ukraine says it had received its first delivery of a sophisticated rocket-launcher system, adding to a growing arsenal of Western-supplied long-range artillery Kyiv says is changing dynamics on the battlefield.

"The first MLRS M270 have arrived," Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov writes on social media, without mentioning what country had dispatched them. 

"They will be good company for HIMARS on the battlefield," he adds, referring to US precision rocket systems recently deployed in the conflict. — AFP

July 13, 2022

Russia and Ukraine are due to hold their first talks with UN and Turkish officials aimed at breaking a months-long impasse over grain exports that has seen food prices soar and millions face hunger.

The high-stakes meeting in Istanbul comes with Russia's invasion of Ukraine showing no signs of abating and the sides locked in a furious long-range shooting battle that is destroying towns and leaving people with nothing. — AFP

July 12, 2022

Ukraine warns Monday that Russian forces were preparing to intensify their fight for key cities in the Donbas, as President Volodymyr Zelensky bitterly accuses Canada of undermining sanctions against Moscow.

In eastern Ukraine -- the focal point for a grinding Russian offensive -- the death toll from a weekend shelling of an apartment building in the town of Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk region rose to 33, according to emergency services.

Dozens of rescuers could be seen working amid the ruins of the partially destroyed building Monday, aided by a mechanical digger.

Earlier in the day deadly Russian rocket strikes slammed Kharkiv, the country's second city, in a targeted attack on "a shopping centre and civilian residences", regional chief Oleg Synyegubov said. — AFP

July 11, 2022

A Russian missile struck an apartment building in eastern Ukraine Sunday, killing at least 15 people as Moscow's forces sought to consolidate their control over the Donbas region. 

"During the rescue operation, 15 bodies were found at the scene and five people were pulled out of the rubble" alive in the town of Chasiv Yar, the local emergency service says on Facebook.

"At least 30 others are under the rubble" of the four-storey building after it was hit by a Russian Uragan missile, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko says earlier on Telegram. — AFP

July 10, 2022

Ruslana Hrytskiv has helped "dozens, maybe hundreds" of refugees since Russia invaded Ukraine, but her task is getting tougher as war fatigue sets in and Europe battles soaring prices and record inflation.

When she tried to find shoes for Ukrainian children on Facebook this week, she found herself entangled instead in a debate on the health aspects of wearing second-hand footwear.

Her argument that the mother, who gave birth to a third child en route to Prague, simply could not afford something new for her twins failed to impress.

"The response is slower than it used to be," said Hrytskiv, a Ukrainian who has lived in the Czech Republic for over two decades.

"At the beginning, people were unexpectedly forthcoming," she noted.

Hrytskiv's experience is echoed by aid organizations across eastern Europe, which has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees, mostly women with children.

Like the rest of the continent, the region is grappling with runaway prices that make people think twice about their spending.

The record-high inflation, which reached 15.6 percent in Poland in June for instance, is fuelled by a spike in energy prices due largely to the Russian invasion that began on February 24.

"We can see somewhat less interest now in helping than at the beginning of the war," said Eszter Bakondi-Kiss, a volunteer with the Hungarian Habitat for Humanity group coordinating refugee accommodation.

"We received far more offers or applications to be a part of these programs then," she told AFP. — AFP

July 6, 2022

Ukrainian officials have called on civilians to urgently evacuate the city of Sloviansk as Russian troops press towards it in their campaign to secure the Donbas region.

Sloviansk has been subjected to "massive" Russian bombardment in recent days, with at least two people killed and seven others wounded in an attack on a marketplace Tuesday.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, which includes Sloviansk, told Ukrainian media his "main advice is evacuate!"

"This week there hasn't been a day without shelling," he said Tuesday evening, adding that the city was now within range of Russian multiple-rocket launchers.

"The enemy is shelling chaotically, the attacks are aimed at destroying the local population," he said

"So, once again, the main advice is to evacuate."  — AFP

July 4, 2022

The Ukrainian army has retreated from the strategic city of Lysychansk Sunday, as Russia claimed a major victory by seizing control of the entire eastern Lugansk region.

The Ukrainian withdrawal followed weeks of fierce fighting and marked a decisive breakthrough for Moscow's forces more than four months after their invasion and after turning their focus away from the capital Kyiv.

Lysychansk has been the last major city in the Lugansk area of the eastern Donbas region still in Ukrainian hands and this frees up Moscow's forces to advance on Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in neighbouring Donetsk.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has earlier denied Russian claims of Lysychansk's fall before the Ukrainian army announced the retreat on Sunday evening. — AFP

June 30, 2022

A ship carrying 7,000 tonnes of grain has sailed from Ukraine's port of Berdyansk, currently controlled by Russian forces, the region's Moscow-appointed official said on Thursday.

"After numerous months of delay, the first merchant ship has left the Berdyansk commercial port, 7,000 tonnes of grain are heading toward friendly countries," Evgeny Balitski, the head of the pro-Russia administration, said on Telegram. — AFP

June 30, 2022

Britain pledges another $1.2 billion in military aid to Ukraine to help it fend off Russia's invasion, including air-defense systems and drones.

The fresh funds will bring Britain's total military support to Kyiv since the start of the war in late February to £2.3 billion, Downing Street says in a statement. — AFP

June 28, 2022

A Russian missile strike on a crowded mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk killed at least 16 people, the head of emergency services says early Tuesday, sparking international outrage.

"The Russian strike today on the shopping centre in Kremenchuk is one of the most brazen terrorist acts in European history," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening broadcast posted on Telegram.

"As of now, we know of 16 dead and 59 wounded, 25 of them hospitalised. The information is being updated," emergency services chief Sergiy Kruk says. — AFP

June 27, 2022

A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine says it would have been a "crime" not to use his skills to help.

Ken Rhee, an ex-special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian Embassy in Seoul the moment President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March.

To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from travelling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations patrol there, was met at the airport by 15 police officers on his return.

But the celebrity ex-soldier, who has a YouTube channel with 700,000 followers and documented much of his Ukraine experience on his popular Instagram account, says he has no regrets.

"You're walking down the beach and you see a sign by the water saying 'no swimming' — but you see someone drowning. It's a crime not to help. That's how I see it," he told AFP.

Rhee was born in South Korea but raised in the United States. He attended the Virginia Military Institute and planned to join the US Navy SEALS, but his father — a "patriot", he says — convinced his son to return to South Korea to enlist.

He served for seven years, undergoing both US and Korean SEAL training and doing multiple stints in war zones in Somalia and Iraq before leaving to set up a defence consultancy.

"I have the skillset. I have the experience. I was in two different wars, and going to Ukraine, I knew I could help," he said, adding that he viewed breaking South Korea's passport law to leave as equivalent to a "traffic violation". — AFP

June 26, 2022

Indonesian President and G20 chairman Joko Widodo set off on Sunday to Europe where he said he plans to visit Russia and Ukraine and meet with the countries' leaders to urge peace talks. 

Widodo departed for Germany to attend as a guest for the G7 summit from June 26 to 27, and he will then go to the Ukraine capital Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

"The mission is to ask... President Zelensky to open a dialogue forum for peace, to build peace because the war has to be stopped," he told a press conference in Jakarta. 

The two leaders will also discuss the food supply chain "that needs to be reactivated" soon, Widodo said. From Kyiv, Widodo is scheduled to visit Moscow and meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin. 

The visit to Moscow is planned for June 30, Indonesian authorities said earlier. — AFP

June 26, 2022

Four explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Sunday, with AFP journalists reporting a residential complex near the centre of the city had been hit, causing a fire and cloud of grey smoke.

The blasts occurred around 6:30 am (0330 GMT), half an hour after air raid sirens sounded in the capital, which has not not come under Russian bombardment for nearly three weeks.

There was no immediate information on casualties.

An AFP colleague living in the same residential complex heard a loud buzz preceding the explosions.

"Several explosions in the Shevchenkivsky district," Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.

"Ambulances and rescuers are on site. In two buildings, the rescue and evacuation of residents is underway," he added. — AFP

June 24, 2022

The United States is sending a new batch of military assistance to Ukraine, the White House says, with the $450 million shipment including four more advanced rocket systems to use against Russian invasion forces.

"This package contains weapons and equipment, including new High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems," White House spokesman John Kirby says. Also included are tens of thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition and patrol boats.

The rocket systems known as HIMARS are at the top of Ukraine's wish list as the pro-Western country battles a Russian invasion force advancing through the east of the country with the help of a significant advantage in heavy artillery. — AFP

June 21, 2022

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says in an interview with NBC News that the two Americans captured in Ukraine while fighting with Kyiv's military were "endangering" Russian soldiers and should be "held accountable for those crimes." 

The interview marks the first time the Kremlin has commented on the cases of Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US military veterans, according to NBC.

"They're soldiers of fortune and they were involved in illegal activities on the territory of Ukraine. They were involved in firing and shelling our military personnel. They were endangering their lives," Peskov tells the network, in English. — AFP

June 19, 2022

The war in Ukraine could last "for years", NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned in an interview published Sunday by German daily newspaper Bild, while reiterating calls for Western countries to provide long-term support to Kyiv. 

"We must be prepared for this to last for years," the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said.

"We must not weaken in our support of Ukraine, even if the costs are high -- not only in terms of military support but also because of rising energy and food prices." 

He told Bild that the food and fuel costs are nothing compared to the one paid daily by Ukrainians on the frontline, warning "we would have to pay an even greater price" if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to achieve Moscow's goals in Ukraine.

The NATO chief has in the past week ramped up calls for alliance members to back Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion.  — AFP

June 18, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky hails Brussels' support for Ukraine's European Union bid a historic achievement, as his country's eastern Donas region faced intense Russian shelling. 

Brussels spearheaded a powerful show of European solidarity on Friday by backing Kyiv's bid for EU candidate status, an endorsement that could add Ukraine to the list of countries vying for membership as early as next week. 

The European Commission is set to meet at their Brussels summit on Thursday with all 27 leaders already backing Kyiv’s candidacy and the heads of the bloc's biggest members -- France, Germany and Italy -- giving full-throated support to the idea. — AFP

June 18, 2022

A Russian state TV channel airs videos on social media of two Americans who went missing last week while fighting alongside the Ukrainian army, stating they had been captured by Russian forces. 

United States President Joe Biden had said earlier Friday he did not know the whereabouts of Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US military veterans whose relatives lost contact with the pair.

The missing Americans -- including a third identified as a former US Marines captain -- are believed to be part of an unknown number of mostly military veterans who have joined other foreigners to volunteer alongside Ukrainian troops. — AFP

June 16, 2022

Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad says Slovakia has donated one Mi-2 and four Mi-17 helicopters and thousands of Grad rockets to Ukraine.

"This assistance to Ukraine, as well as all previous supplies, will be reimbursed from the European Peace Facility, which is a strong expression of the European Union's solidarity with Ukraine," Nad says on Facebook.

The defense minister says Ukraine was already using the donated helicopters and ammunition and that the helicopters donated had been replaced by UH-60M Black Hawks. — AFP

June 16, 2022

Around 10,000 civilians are trapped in Ukraine's eastern city of Severodonetsk, where intense fighting with Russia has raged for weeks, the local governor said Thursday.

"Out of 100,000 residents, around 10,000 remain," Sergiy Gaiday, the governor of the Lugansk region, said on Telegram. He said Kyiv's army is "holding back the enemy as much as possible."

"For almost four months they have dreamt of controlling Severodonetsk... and they do not count the victims," Gaiday said.

He said the Russian army "loses hundreds of fighters, finds reserves and continues to destroy Severodonetsk".

The city is the biggest in the Lugansk region that is still in Ukrainian hands and it has been under heavy shelling for weeks.

The three bridges linking the city to Ukrainian-held Lysychansk, just across the river, have all been destroyed.

Capturing the city would allow Russian forces to advance further into the Donbas region. -- AFP

June 16, 2022

Two Americans who volunteered to support Ukraine have gone missing and are feared to have been taken prisoner by Russia, officials and family members say. 

Captive Americans would add another layer of complexity to efforts by the United States, which is pumping billions of dollars into Ukraine but trying to steer clear of direct confrontation with Russia.

Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh, both US military veterans who had been living in Alabama, lost contact with their families after combat in Ukraine. — AFP

June 13, 2022

He was Vladimir Putin's first prime minister but Mikhail Kasyanov never in his worst nightmares imagined that his former boss would unleash a full-scale war on Ukraine.

Speaking to AFP in a video interview, Kasyanov, Russia's prime minister from 2000 to 2004, said he expected the war could last up to two years but he was convinced Russia could return to a democratic path.

The 64-year-old, who championed close ties with the West as prime minister, said that, like many other Russians, he did not believe in the weeks ahead of the war that it would actually happen.

Kasyanov only understood that Putin was not bluffing when he saw him summon the country's top leadership for a theatrical meeting of the security council three days before the invasion on February 24. 

"When I saw the meeting of Russia's Security Council I realised, yes, there will be a war," Kasyanov said.

He added that he felt that Putin was already not thinking properly.

"I just know these people and by looking at them I saw that Putin is already out of it. Not in a medical sense but in political terms," he said.

"I knew a different Putin."  -- AFP

June 13, 2022

Amnesty International on Monday accuses Russia of war crimes in Ukraine, saying attacks on Kharkiv, many using banned cluster bombs, had killed hundreds of civilians. 

"The repeated bombardments of residential neighbourhoods in Kharkiv are indiscriminate attacks which killed and injured hundreds of civilians, and as such constitute war crimes," the rights group says in a report on Ukraine's second biggest city.

"This is true both for the strikes carried out using cluster (munitions) as well as those conducted using other types of unguided rockets and unguided artillery shells," it says. — Agence France Presse

June 11, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country's forces were "doing everything" to stop the Russian offensive, with fierce battles in the east and the south.

Kyiv says it had launched new air strikes in the captured southern region of Kherson, one of the first areas to be taken by Russia after the February 24 invasion.

But Zelensky says "very difficult battles" were ongoing, including in the eastern Donbas region where Moscow has concentrated its firepower, especially around the eastern industrial city of Severodonetsk. — AFP

June 8, 2022

The World Bank announces an additional $1.5 billion in aid for Ukraine, bringing the total planned support package to more than $4 billion.

The new financing will be used to pay wages for government and social workers, the development lender says in a statement, noting that with the new funds nearly $2 billion has been disbursed so far. — Agence France Presse

June 7, 2022

Street fighting raged Tuesday for control of Ukraine's flashpoint city of Severodonetsk, with the situation changing "every hour", an official said, as Kyiv warned its troops were outnumbered by Russian forces.

Just days ago, Moscow seemed close to taking the strategic industrial hub in the east but Ukrainian forces have managed to hold out.

"Our heroes are holding their positions in Severodonetsk. Fierce street fights continue in the city," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address late Monday.

Concerns about a global food crisis also grew as Zelensky warned of tightening grain supplies — Ukraine is a top producer of the commodity — due to what Washington described as a Russian strategy of "blackmail". — AFP

June 6, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday blasted European countries for blocking his plane from travelling to Serbia, saying: "The unthinkable has happened".

"This was a deprivation of a sovereign state of the right to carry out foreign policy," Lavrov told an online press conference in Moscow. — AFP

June 6, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was forced to cancel a visit to Serbia on Monday after several of its neighbours prevented his plane from passing through their airspace, officials said.

Lavrov had been to due to hold talks with top officials in Belgrade, one of Moscow's few remaining allies in Europe since the launch of its military offensive in Ukraine earlier this year.

"The countries around Serbia have closed the channel of communication by refusing to authorise the overflight of the plane of Sergei Lavrov who was headed to Serbia," Russian news agencies quoted ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.

"The Russian delegation should have arrived in Belgrade for talks. But the EU and NATO member countries closed their airspace." — AFP

June 6, 2022

Ukraine's deputy defence minister stresses that the country needed continuous military support from Western countries until it defeated Moscow's forces, as the war continues.

"We have already entered into a protracted war and we will need constant support," Ganna Malyar tells local media.

"The West must understand that its help cannot be a one-time thing, but something that continues until our victory," she adds. — AFP

June 5, 2022

Russians have lost ground in Severodonetsk, according to Ukraine governor.

June 5, 2022

Several explosions hit the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Sunday, Mayor Vitali Klitschko says.

"Several explosions in Darnytsky and Dniprovsky districts of city. Services are extinguishing," he says on Telegram. — AFP

June 4, 2022

Russian artillery slams Ukraine's eastern Donbas region with fierce fighting over the city of Severodonetsk, but the local governor says there was some progress in pushing back invading forces.

More than 100 days since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine, thousands of people have been killed, millions sent fleeing and towns turned into rubble.

The advance of Russian forces has been slowed by stiff Ukrainian resistance, repelling them from around the capital Kyiv and forcing Moscow to focus on capturing the east, including the Donbas. — AFP

June 3, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country's military would fend off the Russian invasion in a video marking 100 days of Moscow's all-out assault on its pro-democracy neighbour.

"Victory will be ours," Zelensky says in a video that included Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak, recalling an impromptu message they posted outside government buildings at the onset of the war vowing to remain in the country. — AFP

June 3, 2022

The United Nations says Friday there would be no victor from Russia's invasion of Ukraine as the conflict entered its 100th day and Moscow's forces pressed deeper into the eastern Donbas region.

"This war has and will have no winner. Rather, we have witnessed for 100 days what is lost: lives, homes, jobs and prospects," Amin Awad, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, says in a statement.

The milestone came as Kyiv announced Moscow was now in control of a fifth of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea and parts of Donbas seized in 2014. — AFP

June 2, 2022

The United States will send Ukraine four Himars artillery rocket systems, an additional 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, and four Mi-17 helicopters in a new $700 million arms package, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl said Ukraine forces need about three weeks of training to be able to use the Himars, a highly mobile guided rocket launcher that could give the Ukrainians a distance and accuracy edge in the grinding artillery battle in the Donbas region.

Carrying six rockets at a time with ranges of more than 70 kilometers (42 miles), double that of US howitzers already in use on the battlefield, the Himars system "will provide Ukraine with additional precision in targeting at range," Kahl told reporters. — AFP

June 1, 2022

The planned delivery of new US weapons to Ukraine, including advanced missile systems, increases the risk of drawing the United States into direct conflict with Russia, Moscow said Wednesday.

"Any arms supplies that continue, are on the rise, increase the risks of such a development," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA Novosti news agency, in answer to a question about the possibility of a confrontation between Moscow and Washington. — AFP

June 1, 2022

The local governor says Russian forces struck a tank containing nitric acid at a chemical plant in Ukraine's eastern city of Severodonetsk that they are trying to seize.

An air strike by Moscow forces "hit a tank with nitric acid at a chemical plant", the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, says on Telegram. 

"Nitric acid is dangerous if inhaled, swallowed and in contact with skin," he adds. — AFP

June 1, 2022

President Joe Biden confirms the United States will send more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine with ability to strike what he called "key targets" of Russia's invasion force.

"We will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine," Biden writes in The New York Times.

A US official told reporters that the weapons being sent are Himars, or the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. — AFP

June 1, 2022

The United States is sending Himars advanced multiple rocket systems to Ukraine, a US official said Tuesday, ending days of speculation over the latest upgrade of military aid to Kyiv in its fight against Russia.

The Himars use precision-guided munitions, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters. The range is about 50 miles (80 kilometers), with Washington deciding against sending munitions with a far longer range.

"These systems will be used by the Ukrainians to repel Russian advances on Ukrainian territory but they will not be used against Russia," the official said. — AFP

May 31, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky urges the EU to end internal "quarrels" saying they only helped Moscow and asked the bloc to adopt more sanctions against Russia. 

"All quarrels in Europe must end, internal disputes that only encourage Russia to put more and more pressure on you," Zelensky tells an EU summit in Brussels via video-link. 

"It is time for you to be not separate, not fragments, but one whole," he says, calling for a new set of sanctions against Russia, including a ban on Russian oil. — AFP

May 30, 2022

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will visit Kyiv on Monday for talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The minister wants to show France's solidarity with the Ukrainian people and its full determination to reinforce its support... from a humanitarian and financial point of view as well as in terms of supplying defence equipment," it said. — AFP

May 30, 2022

Germany's government and conservative opposition have agreed a deal that will release 100 billion euros ($107 billion) to modernise the army in the face of the Russian threat.

An agreement was reached late Sunday to create a special fund for military procurement that will also allow Berlin to achieve NATO's target of spending two percent of GDP on defence.

The deal, which involves amending budgetary rules in the national constitution, was struck after weeks of difficult negotiations between the parties in the governing coalition and the conservatives of former chancellor Angela Merkel, representatives of these groups told AFP. — AFP

May 30, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday he had fired Kharkiv's security services chief for "not working on the defence of the city" since the start of Russia's invasion. 

"I came, figured out and fired the head of the Security Service of Ukraine of the (Kharkiv) region for the fact that he did not work on the defence of the city from the first days of the full-scale war, but thought only about himself," Zelensky said in his daily national address. He spoke after visiting the country's war-ridden east for the first time since Russia's invasion. — AFP

May 29, 2022

Russian forces engaged in an all-out battle in eastern Ukraine have captured the strategic town of Lyman and surrounded a key industrial centre, Moscow has claimed.

But a Ukrainian official has denied that the city of Severodonetsk — the focus of weeks of fierce fighting — has been encircled, saying government troops had repelled Russian forces from its outskirts.

As the battle for Ukraine's industrial heartland raged on Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for "direct serious negotiations" between Russian leader Vladmir Putin and his counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

May 27, 2022

Russian strikes on a military facility in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro early Friday left nearly a dozen people dead and injured more than 30 others, a local defense official says.

"A national guard training centre was hit this morning by Iskander missiles. People were killed. Unfortunately, about 10 people died and between 30 and 35 people have been injured," Gennady Korban, the regional head of the national guard, tells local Ukrainian media. — AFP

May 27, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Moscow of carrying out a "genocide" in the eastern region of Donbas, where the city of Severodonetsk is suffering an onslaught of Russian shelling.

In his daily televised address, Zelensky condemns Moscow's brutal assault on the Donbas -- where it has redirected its forces after having failed to capture Kyiv -- adding that its bombardment could leave the entire region "uninhabited".

"All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia," he says. — AFP

May 27, 2022

A Russian resolution on the health crisis in war-torn Ukraine — which made no reference to Russia's invasion — was solidly rejected by World Health Organization member states on Thursday.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of the resolution co-sponsored by Syria, while 66 voted against at the World Health Assembly, the annual gathering of 194 states which serves as the UN health agency's decision-making body.

A prior Ukrainian resolution which condemned Russia's "military aggression" in Ukraine "in the strongest terms", and called on Moscow to "cease any attacks on hospitals", was passed by 88 votes to 12. — AFP

May 26, 2022

Ukraine's top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday accuses NATO of "doing literally nothing" in the face of Russia's invasion, while praising the EU for its "revolutionary" decisions to back Kyiv. 

"NATO as an alliance, as an institution, is completely sidelined and doing literally nothing. I'm sorry to say it," Kuleba tells the World Economic Forum in Davos. 

But he praises Brussels for its "revolutionary, groundbreaking decisions, which even they themselves did not expect to make". — AFP

May 25, 2022

The self-proclaimed leader of the Moscow-backed separatist region of Donetsk said Tuesday Russian and separatist forces were fighting to take full control of the town of Lyman and have already captured half of it.

"The active phase of the liberation of Krasny Liman is underway," separatist leader Denis Pushilin said on the pro-Kremlin Solovyov Live YouTube programme.

Located in the north of the eastern Donetsk region, Krasny Liman is the old name of the Ukrainian town of Lyman. — AFP

May 24, 2022

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to control his soldiers and to spare the civilians in Ukraine, saying the world cannot return to normalcy if the crisis, which stemmed from Russia's invasion, persists.

During a pre-recorded public address aired Monday night, Duterte said it is the "moral obligation" of the Russian government to ensure that innocent and vulnerable civilians, including children, elderly, and women, are spared from the conflict.

"For now, it’s a bleak picture because it seems that Putin does not want to end the war... Putin is my friend. But the way they are handling the war everyday, they are bombing even the civlians... You are in control of everything. Anyway you really started the ruckus there so be strict with your soldiers. They are out of control," Duterte said.

"If the embassy of Russia is listening, I am not picking a quarrel with anybody. I said Putin is a friend of mine. But you know, it is your moral obligation to see to it that the civilians, the innocent ones, children, the elderly, the women (are spared)," he added.

"You have to control and see to it that you are being followed and the priority there is to protect the innocent, the civilians who had nothing to do with that war."  -- The STAR/Alexis Romero

May 24, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky uses the Davos summit Monday to appeal for more weapons and "maximum" sanctions against Russia, lamenting that tens of thousands of lives would have been saved had countries acted faster.

Appearing by video-link, Zelensky delivered the headline speech to the first World Economic Forum to be held in the Swiss Alps in more than two years after the Covid pandemic derailed the event.

The conflict shows "that support to the country under attack is more valuable the sooner it is provided: weapons, funding, political support and sanctions against Russia," said Zelensky, who received a standing ovation. — AFP

May 23, 2022

The Davos summit of global political and business elites returns Monday after a Covid-induced two-year break to face another momentous crisis: Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainians, meanwhile, have deployed a strong contingent, including the foreign minister, to plead their case, with President Volodymyr Zelensky scheduled to address the forum via videolink on Monday.

"The major request to the whole world here is: do not stop backing Ukraine," Ukrainian lawmaker Ivanna Klympush Tsintsadze told reporters on the eve of the summit.

Another lawmaker, Anastasia Radina, appealed for NATO-style heavy weaponry to "win the war". — AFP

May 23, 2022

Russia's lead negotiator in peace talks with Ukraine said Sunday that Russia was willing to resume negotiations but the initiative to continue them was with Kyiv. 

"For our part, we are ready to continue the dialogue," Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky said in an interview with Belarusian TV. 

"Freezing talks was entirely Ukraine's initiative, Medinsky said, adding that the "ball is completely in their court". 

He added that "Russia has never refused talks". — AFP

May 22, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned only a diplomatic breakthrough rather than an outright military victory can end Russia's war on his country, while pushing its case for EU membership.

Zelensky also appealed for more military aid, even as US President Joe Biden formally signed off on a $40-billion package of aid for the Ukrainian war effort.

That call came just hours after Russia claimed to have destroyed a cache of Western-delivered arms in the country's northwest.

Zelensky also insisted his war-ravaged country should be a full candidate to join the EU, rejecting a suggestion from France's President Emmanuel Macron and some other EU leaders that a sort of associated political community be created as a waiting zone for a membership bid.

"We don't need such compromises," Zelensky said Saturday during a joint news conference with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

"Because, believe me, it will not be compromise with Ukraine in Europe, it will be another compromise between Europe and Russia."

Zelensky, who will speak to the world's political and business elite at the exclusive Davos forum via videolink on Monday, told Ukrainians in a televised address: "There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table."

The war "will be bloody, there will be fighting but will only definitively end through diplomacy". — AFP

May 20, 2022

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says that Moscow was nearing full control of the separatist region of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

"The liberation of the Lugansk People's Republic is nearing completion," Shoigu says at a meeting in remarks carried by Russian news agencies. He also says that 1,908 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, which is under Moscow's control. — AFP

May 20, 2022

US Congress approves a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine Thursday, the latest tranche of US assistance for Kyiv in its fight against Russia's invasion.

The aid package was roundly approved by the Senate after being adopted by the House of Representatives last week. It now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature. — AFP

May 19, 2022

The State Department says the United States reopened its embassy in Kyiv Wednesday after closing it for three months due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia's unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the embassy once again," Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.

"We stand proudly with, and continue to support, the government and people of Ukraine as they defend their country from the Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression."  — AFP

May 18, 2022

The Kremlin accuses Kyiv authorities of not wanting to continue talks to end hostilities that started after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine.

"Talks are indeed not moving forward and we note the complete lack of will of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters. — AFP

May 18, 2022

Finland and Sweden on Wednesday hand in their bids to join US-led alliance NATO, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine up-ended decades of military non-alignment. 

"The applications you have made today are an historic step. Allies will now consider the next steps on your path to NATO," alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg says after receiving the bids from the Finnish and Swedish ambassadors at NATO headquarters. — AFP

May 18, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a call on Tuesday that arms supplies from Paris would "increase in intensity", according to a statement from the French presidency.

"He confirmed that arms deliveries by France would continue and would increase in intensity in the days and weeks to come, the same as for the supply of humanitarian equipment," the statement said.  

France was initially hesitant to supply heavy weaponry to Kyiv as Macron positioned himself as a mediator in the crisis, holding regular conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. — AFP

May 17, 2022

Russia's defense ministry says that 265 Ukrainian soldiers, including several dozen wounded, surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol.

"Over the past 24 hours, 265 militants laid down their arms and surrendered, including 51 heavily wounded," the ministry says in a briefing. 

It adds that those in need of medical care were transferred to a hospital in the town of Novoazovsk. — AFP 

May 17, 2022

At least ten people were killed in the latest shelling in Severodonetsk in the east of Ukraine, as the city is almost surrounded by Russian troops, the Lugansk region governor Sergiy Gaiday says Monday.

Russian troops "are shelling Severodonetsk without stopping," Gaiday says in a statement in Telegram.

"At least ten people were killed. It is currently extremely difficult to check the area due to new shelling," he adds, urging the locals not to leave the shelters. — AFP

May 15, 2022

Ukraine's forces were fighting off a fierce Russian onslaught on the east of the country Sunday, after a Eurovision victory gave the country a much-needed boost of morale.

President Volodymr Zelensky warned on Saturday that the war in his country risked triggering global food shortages, adding that the situation in Ukraine's Donbas is "very difficult".

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has increasingly turned its attention to the country's east since the end of March, after failing to take the capital Kyiv.

Western analysts believe President Vladimir Putin has his sights on annexing southern and eastern Ukraine in the months ahead but his troops have appeared to be encountering stiff resistance.

Russia's war in Ukraine is increasingly shifting the balance of power in Europe, with Finland and Sweden poised to jettison decades of military non-alignment to join NATO as a defence against feared further aggression from Moscow. — AFP

May 14, 2022

The war in Ukraine could reach a "breaking point" by August and end in defeat for Russia before the end of the year, Kyiv's head of military intelligence tells the UK's Sky News on Saturday.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov, 36, tells the news network that he was "optimistic" about the current trajectory of the conflict.

"The breaking point will be in the second part of August," he says. — AFP

May 13, 2022

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday says he doubted the motives of Ukraine's intention of joining the European Union, while accusing Brussels of ambitions beyond the European continent. 

Ukraine, where Russia launched a military campaign on February 24, "is ready to declare a neutral, non-aligned status," Lavrov tells reporters following a meeting of CIS foreign ministers in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe.

"At the same time, they are trying in every possible way to emphasise their desire to become an EU member," Lavrov adds.

"There are serious doubts about how harmless such a desire is from Kyiv," he says. — AFP

May 13, 2022

France on Friday says the Group of Seven industrialised nations was committed to helping Ukraine win its war against Russia as the group's top diplomats held talks in northern Germany.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the G7 countries were "very strongly united" in their will to "continue in the long term to support Ukraine's fight for its sovereignty until Ukraine's victory". — AFP

May 13, 2022

The United States accuses Russia of forcibly taking onto territory under its control tens of thousands of Ukrainians, often singled out for their resistance to the invasion.

The remarks support allegations by the Ukrainian government which estimates nearly 1.2 million people have been deported into Russia or Russian-controlled territory and has denounced so-called "filtration camps" in which Moscow interrogates detained people.

Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, says that witness testimony attests to "brutal interrogations" in the camps. — AFP

May 12, 2022

Ukraine wants a spot reserved for it in the European Union, even if obtaining full membership could take time, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday in Berlin. 

"It is not about the fastest possible membership for Ukraine in the EU. But what is very important for us is for this spot to be reserved for Ukraine," he told German broadcaster ARD. — AFP

May 12, 2022

Ukraine announces it will hold its first war crimes trial over the Russian invasion, as Moscow accused Kyiv of shelling a Russian city in the war's latest flashpoint.

The conflict has devastated cities and displaced millions, with fears also growing of its broader international impact as gas supplies to Europe were disrupted by a halt in Russian flows through Ukraine.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing atrocities since the invasion began on February 24, and Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday they would launch the first war crimes trial of the conflict. — AFP

May 12, 2022

Ukraine Finance Minister Sergiy Marchenko calls upon international donors to "maximise" efforts to help the nation in the wake of Russia's invasion.

"While defending our country and fighting against Russia we take a massive risk ... to make Ukraine win this war," Marchenko tells the European development bank's annual meet in the Moroccan city Marrakesh.

"We would thus appreciate if you take a small (financial) risk to help Ukraine so that we can win," he adds via video link. — AFP

May 10, 2022

Germany will reopen its embassy in Kyiv, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday during a visit to Ukraine, the first by a senior government figure since the Russian invasion.

"We will shortly reestablish a minimal presence of our German embassy in Kyiv," Baerbock said as she travelled to the capital in the hope of soothing strained relations between Germany and Ukraine. — AFP

May 10, 2022

Russia will not participate in Thursday's special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Ukraine, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The Council announced on Monday that it would hold a special session at Kyiv's request to examine "the deteriorating human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from the Russian aggression".

But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday that "the Russian delegation will not legitimise with its presence this new political show organised under the guise of an extraordinary session".

"Unfortunately, our arguments and explanations on the true objectives of this special military operation and the real situation on the ground have been completely ignored," she said in a statement. — AFP

May 10, 2022

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during a surprise trip to Ukraine on Tuesday visited Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv where Russian troops have been accused of killing civilians.

Baerbock, who was meeting with local residents during the unannounced trip, is the latest in a string of foreign diplomats and leaders to visit Bucha, one of several towns and villages around Kyiv where Moscow's army has been accused of carrying out war crimes. — AFP

May 10, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his highly anticipated Victory Day speech at a giant military parade in Moscow. He says he had no choice but to send troops into Ukraine to defend the Russian "Motherland" from an "absolutely unacceptable threat".

Speculation that he could use the 77th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II to expand the conflict comes to naught.

The Russian leader insists instead on the need to avoid "the horror of a global war". — AFP

May 9, 2022

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen was headed to Hungary on Monday to meet Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is holding up Brussels' plans for an embargo on Russian oil.

"They will discuss issues related to European security of energy supply," von der Leyen's spokesman Eric Mamer said. 

Landlocked Hungary relies on Russian oil from a single pipeline and Orban has warned he cannot approve the European Commission's proposed sixth package of EU sanctions against Moscow -- AFP

May 9, 2022

President Vladimir Putin says that Russian forces in Ukraine were defending the Motherland from an "absolutely unacceptable threat," as he opened the annual parade marking victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Putin tells thousands of troops gathered in Moscow's Red Square that Russian forces in Ukraine were continuing the battle against Nazism, but that it was important "to do everything so that the horror of a global war does not happen again." — AFP

May 9, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin's "unprovoked war of aggression" in Ukraine has brought "shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people," the G7 group of wealthy nations says in a statement.

"Russia has violated the international rules-based order, particularly the UN Charter, conceived after the Second World War to spare successive generations from the scourge of war," says the statement, made as the G7 met by videoconference and commemorated the end of World War II in Europe.

"We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine," it says. — AFP

May 8, 2022

Ukraine's last soldiers in the port city of Mariupol face a brutal final showdown Sunday with besieging Russian forces, who are hoping to deliver a critical win ahead of the country's victory day.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is also set to hold talks with G7 leaders via video conference to discuss the situation in his country, which fears a renewed intensity to Moscow's offensive after the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks.

The complex — the final pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city — has taken on a symbolic value in the war, with the last soldiers holed up in its sprawling network of underground tunnels and bunkers.

Taking full control of Mariupol would allow Moscow to create a land bridge between the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and regions run by pro-Russian separatists in the east.

"The enemy is trying to finish off the defenders of Azovstal, they are trying to do it before May 9 to give (Russian President) Vladimir Putin a gift," Oleksiy Arestovych, an aide to Ukraine's president, said. — AFP

May 8, 2022

Ukraine says that all women, children and elderly civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in the destroyed port city of Mariupol where Ukrainian forces are holding out against Russian troops.

"The President's order has been carried out: all women, children and the elderly have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the Mariupol humanitarian mission has been completed," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says in a statement on social media. — AFP

May 7, 2022

President Joe Biden announces a new US weapons package worth $150 million for Ukraine's fight to repel Russia's invasion.

"I am announcing another package of security assistance that will provide additional artillery munitions, radars, and other equipment to Ukraine," Biden says, while warning that funding was close to running out and urging Congress to authorize more.

According to a senior US official, the package includes 25,000 155mm artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars used for detecting the source of enemy fire, electronic jamming equipment and spare parts. — AFP

May 6, 2022

Ukraine's Azov battalion, leading Kyiv's defence of the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, accuses Russian forces Friday of firing during a civilian evacuation of the huge steelworks, despite a Moscow-imposed ceasefire. 

"During the ceasefire at the Azovstal plant, a car was hit by Russians who used an anti-tank guided weapon," the Azov battalion says on Telegram, saying the vehicle was "moving towards civilians to evacuate them" at the time. 

The strike killed one Ukrainian fighter and wounded six others, it says. — AFP

May 6, 2022

The US Defense Department denies that it provided intelligence on the locations of Russian generals on the battlefield so that Ukrainian forces could kill them.

Reacting to an explosive New York Times report on US support for Ukraine's military, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said it was true that the United States supplies Kyiv's forces with military intelligence "to help Ukrainians defend their country."

"We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military," Kirby said. — AFP

May 6, 2022

The United Nations says a new convoy was en route to evacuate civilians from the "hell" of a besieged steel plant in Mariupol, even as Ukraine accused Russia of breaking its promise to pause fire at the site.

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have for weeks been holed up at the sprawling factory, trapped under heavy Russian fire, in what has become the last pocket of resistance in the strategically important southern port city.

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the Russian army was still ready to allow civilians to leave the sprawling complex, while a Kremlin spokesman said humanitarian corridors were "functioning". — AFP

May 5, 2022

The possibility of the Ukraine-Russia conflict spilling over to the Philippines is remote despite the country's military agreements with the US, the defense department says

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana says the Philippines is far from the site of the clashes, which were triggered by Russia's invasion.

"I discussed that with the President, especially during the command conference. He asked, 'Are we in danger of being dragged into that?' Because he said he allowed the US to use Clark in case it goes to war," Lorenzana says in Filipino during an interview with state-run PTV. — Alexis Romero

May 5, 2022

India and France call for "an immediate cessation of hostilities" in Ukraine, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi again stopping short of condemning Russia's invasion of its neighbour. 

India, which imports much of its military hardware from Russia, has long walked a diplomatic tightrope between the West and Moscow — notably refusing to denounce the latter or vote against it at the United Nations over its actions in Ukraine.

"France and India expressed their deep concern over the humanitarian crisis and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine," Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement after they met in Paris for talks and a working dinner.

"Both countries unequivocally condemned the fact that civilians have been killed in Ukraine, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in order for the two sides to come together to promote dialogue and diplomacy, and to put an immediate end to the suffering of the people." — AFP

May 4, 2022

In a rare move, Russia will boycott a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday with the EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC), diplomats said, a further sign of deteriorating relations between Moscow and its United Nations partners.

According to a Russian diplomatic source speaking anonymously Tuesday, Moscow's decision is linked to the situation in Ukraine.

A Western diplomat told AFP they had no memory of Russia boycotting a Security Council meeting since it invaded Ukraine on February 24. — AFP

May 4, 2022

The UN secretary-general says he hopes Ukraine and Russia can organize "more humanitarian pauses," such as the one that allowed the evacuation of about 100 Ukrainian civilians from the Azovstal steel plant.

The Red Cross and UN had said earlier that 101 civilians were evacuated from the tunnels of the plant in Ukraine's battered city of Mariupol, but warned that others remain trapped.

It was the first completed civilian evacuation from the giant steel factory, where Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have for weeks been trapped, hiding as Russian forces besieged and pummeled the city. 

"I hope the continued coordination with Kyiv and Moscow will lead to more humanitarian pauses that will allow civilians safe passage away from the fighting and aid to reach people where the needs are greatest," Antonio Guterres said in a statement, without specifying which locations he meant. — AFP

May 3, 2022

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces another £300 million ($376 mn, 358 mn euros) in UK military aid for Ukraine in a remote address to its parliament, hailing the country's fight against Russia as its "finest hour".

"We will carry on supplying Ukraine... with weapons, funding and humanitarian aid, until we have achieved our long-term goal, which must be so to fortify Ukraine that no-one will ever dare to attack you again," he tells the Verkhovna Rada. — AFP

May 3, 2022

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday slammed his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov for alleging Adolf Hitler may have "had Jewish blood" and summoned Moscow's ambassador for "clarifications".

Lavrov, speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset's Rete 4 channel in an interview released Sunday, claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "puts forward an argument of what kind of Nazism can they have if he himself is Jewish".

Lapid condemned the remarks as "an unforgivable and outrageous statement as well as a terrible historical error", in a statement from the foreign ministry. 

"Jews did not murder themselves in the Holocaust," he said. "The lowest level of racism against Jews is to accuse Jews themselves of antisemitism." — AFP

May 3, 2022

Russia's top general, Valery Gerasimov, visited the Donbas front in the Ukraine war last week, a Pentagon official says, but reports that he was injured in a Ukrainian attack could not be confirmed.

"What we can confirm is that we know that for several days last week he was in the Donbas," a senior US defense official told journalists.

"We don't believe that he's still there -- that he has left and he's back in Russia," the official said.

"We cannot confirm reports that he was injured." -- AFP

May 2, 2022

Kyiv said Monday that its drones sank two Russian patrol boats near the Black Sea's Snake Island where Ukrainian soldiers rebuffed Moscow's demands to surrender at the start of its invasion.

"Two Russian Raptor boats were destroyed at dawn today near Snake Island," Ukraine's defence ministry said in a statement distributed on social media.

The defense ministry also released grainy black and white ariel footage showing an explosion on a small military vessel.

"The Bayraktars are working," Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was cited as saying in the statement, referring to Turkish-made military drones.

Raptor patrol boats can carry up to three crew and 20 personnel. They are usually equiped with machine guns and used in reconnaissance or landing operations.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after a radio exchange went viral in which Ukrainian soldiers rebuffed demands from crew of a Russian warship to surrender. -- AFP

May 2, 2022

Around 80 civilians have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, with some handed over to the UN and the Red Cross, the Russian defence ministry says.

"Eighty civilians, including women and children....have been rescued," the defence ministry says in a statement. "Those who wished to leave for areas controlled by the Kyiv regime were handed over to UN and ICRC representatives." — AFP

May 1, 2022

Father Georgy Edelshtein is keen to debate those who disagree with his opposition to Russia's military campaign in Ukraine. 

"I'd like to see one or two of my opponents sitting right here," the 89-year-old says, pointing to an empty armchair in his living room full of gilded icons.

The white-bearded priest in a black cassock is one of the few Russian Orthodox priests to have spoken out against Moscow's military operation in Ukraine.

In a quavering voice, but without hesitation, he explains: "I'm afraid I am a bad priest. I've never been against all wars but I've always been against any land-grabbing, aggressive war."

Ukraine "is an independent state and let them build their state as they see necessary," he tells AFP in his house in the hamlet of Novo-Bely Kamen on the banks of the River Volga in the Kostroma region, a six-hour drive from Moscow.

Since Russia launched its military action on February 24, only a handful of priests from the Russian Orthodox Church led by Moscow Patriarch Kirill -- which counts some 150 million believers across the world -- have spoken out openly against the Kremlin's military campaign.

Kirill has given a series of increasingly bellicose sermons, calling for Russians to "rally around" the authorities to help conquer "enemies" he accuses of trying to destroy historic unity between Russia and Ukraine. -- AFP

May 1, 2022

At least 20 civilians including several children were able to leave a badly battered steel plant in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol on Saturday in what could be the start of a long-awaited, larger evacuation of the last holdout in the Russian-held city.

Earlier efforts at evacuations from the Azovstal steel plant -- where local fighters say they and hundreds of civilians are still sheltering in brutal conditions -- had been futile.

Ukrainian fighters of the Azov regiment, which has been defending the site, said 20 civilians had left, possibly for the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, about 225 kilometres (140 miles) to the northwest. 

Russia's Tass news agency carried a similar report, though putting the number of evacuees at 25.

A United Nations-planned evacuation had been planned, though it was unclear whether Saturday's evacuation was UN-led and whether further evacuations were imminent. There were no immediate details on the condition of the evacuees.

Ukraine's President Zelensky said in a video Saturday evening said Kyiv was "doing everything to ensure that the evacuation mission from Mariupol is carried out".

Fresh satellite imagery by private US firm Maxar taken on Friday showed a devastated Mariupol, with almost all of Azovstal destroyed.  — AFP

April 30, 2022

Russia confirms that it carried out an air strike on Kyiv during a visit by the UN's secretary general, the first such attack on the Ukrainian capital in nearly two weeks, and in which a journalist also died.

Vera Gyrych, a producer for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was killed when a Russian missile hit the building where she lived, the media group says.

Russia's defense ministry says it had deployed "high-precision, long-range air-based weapons" that "destroyed the production buildings of the Artyom missile and space enterprise in Kyiv". — AFP

April 29, 2022

Germany berates Russia for carrying out an air strike on Kyiv during a visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, calling it "inhumane".

"We strongly condemn the Russian missile attack on Kyiv while... Guterres was in talks yesterday," government spokesman Wolfgang Buechner says, accusing Russia of having "no respect whatsoever for international law". — AFP

April 29, 2022

Ukraine lashes out angrily after Russian strikes slammed into the capital Kyiv as UN chief Antonio Guterres was visiting in the first such bombardment since mid-April. 

"By this heinous act of barbarism Russia demonstrates once again its attitude towards Ukraine, Europe and the world," tweeted Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba. — AFP

April 29, 2022

The Security Council failed to go far enough in its efforts to "prevent and end" Russia's war in Ukraine, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres admitted  Thursday while visiting Kyiv. 

"Let me be very clear: the Security Council failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war. And this is the source of great disappointment, frustration and anger," he said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

April 28, 2022

Several countries and organizations, including the UN, pledge to bring to justice any perpetrators of war crimes committed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

They were urged on by the Lebanese-British barrister Amal Clooney, who said she feared "politicians calling for justice but not delivering it."

"My fear is that you will get busy and distracted and that each day there'll be a little bit less coverage of the war and people will become a little bit more numb to it," Clooney tells an informal meeting of the Security Council. — AFP

April 28, 2022

Several countries and organizations, including the UN, pledged on Wednesday to bring to justice any perpetrators of war crimes committed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

They were urged on by the Lebanese-British barrister Amal Clooney, who said she feared "politicians calling for justice but not delivering it."

"My fear is that you will get busy and distracted and that each day there'll be a little bit less coverage of the war and people will become a little bit more numb to it," Clooney told an informal meeting of the Security Council. — AFP

April 28, 2022

The United Nations says more than 5.3 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia invaded two months ago, with more than 52,000 joining their ranks in the past 24 hours.

In total, 5,317,219 people have fled Ukraine as refugees since February 24, according to the latest data from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

That marks an increase of 52,452 over the figure given on Tuesday. — AFP

April 27, 2022

Russia's defence ministry says Wednesday its forces had destroyed a large quantity of Western-supplied weapons in Ukraine with long-range missiles.

"On the territory of the Zaporizhzhia aluminium plant, high-precision long-range sea-based Kalibr missiles destroyed hangars with a large batch of foreign weapons and ammunition supplied by the United States and European countries for Ukrainian troops," the ministry says in a briefing. — AFP

April 27, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin tells the visiting UN chief Tuesday that he still had hope for negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine.

"Despite the fact that the military operation is ongoing, we still hope that we will be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track," Putin tells UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was visiting Moscow, in televised remarks.

"We are negotiating, we do not reject (talks)." — AFP

April 26, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that peace talks with Ukraine would continue, while warning there was a "real" danger of a World War III.

Speaking to Russian news agencies, he criticises Kyiv's approach to the talks, adding: "Good will has its limits. But if it isn't reciprocal, that doesn't help the negotiation process.

"But we are continuing to engage in negotiations with the team delegated by (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky, and these contacts will go on." — AFP

April 25, 2022

Ukraine says Moscow had not agreed to its request for a humanitarian corridor to let wounded soldiers and civilians leave the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged port city of Mariupol. 

"Unfortunately, there are no agreements on humanitarian corridors from Azovstal today," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vershchuk says on Telegram. — AFP

April 25, 2022

Two months into the war in Ukraine, military experts say they have been shocked about how ill-prepared Russia has been in its invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.

Despite an initial offensive on multiple fronts, Moscow has failed to gain the upper hand in the air, sent in columns of tanks without cover or coordination and has vastly underestimated the strength of Ukraine's resistance, experts say.

The unanimous opinion among western military general staff is that Russian President Vladimir Putin's original aim was to decapitate the Ukrainian forces in a lightning operation. — AFP 

April 25, 2022

The US wants Russia "weakened" so it cannot invade again and Ukraine can win the war if it has the right equipment, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said Monday on returning from a trip to Kyiv.

"The first step in winning is believing that you can win. And so they believe that we can win," Austin told a group of journalists after the visit with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The two, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, were the first high-profile US officials to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

"We believe that we can win, they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support," Austin said. — AFP

April 25, 2022

The United States wants Russia's military capability weakened so that it cannot carry out another invasion, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Monday after returning from a trip to Kyiv.

"We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine," Austin told a group of journalists after he and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

April 25, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Kyiv, his office said Sunday.

It was the first meeting between Zelensky and US officials since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.

"Today the Ukrainian people are united and strong, and Ukraine-US friendship and partnership are stronger than ever!" Zelensky tweeted Sunday. — AFP

April 24, 2022

Kyiv prepared on Saturday for its first wartime visit from two top US officials, as Ukraine accused Russia of killing eight people, including an infant, in a strike on the southern city of Odessa that all but buried hopes of a truce for Orthodox Easter. 

The Sunday visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will come at a symbolic moment — on the day the war enters its third month — and with fierce battles continuing in the country's east.

It also comes as the situation in the shattered port city of Mariupol remains bleak. The latest of many attempts to evacuate civilians failed Saturday, and the situation facing an embattled unit of Ukrainian fighters sheltering in tunnels under a sprawling steel mill there appeared increasingly desperate.

A series of European leaders have already traveled to Kyiv to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and underscore their support, but the United States — a leading donor of finances and weaponry — had yet to send any top officials.

Asked by AFP to comment on the highly sensitive trip by two of President Joe Biden's top cabinet members, the State Department declined. — AFP

April 23, 2022

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine next week after a stop in Moscow to confer with President Vladimir Putin about the war, the UN said Friday.

Guterres will see Zelensky and Ukraine's foreign minister on Thursday, two days after visiting Moscow, the United Nations said in a statement.

The Kremlin confirmed Friday that Putin would meet Guterres on Tuesday.

Guterres sent letters this week requesting these in-person meetings to try to regain the initiative for the UN, which has been largely marginalized from the crisis since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

In part this is because the war has divided the UN Security Council permanent members: the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia.

China has refused to condemn the invasion, depicting Russia as a victim of Western efforts to weaken it.

With the letters he sent on Tuesday, Guterres sought to spur dialogue to end the war. -- AFP

April 22, 2022

No evacuations of civilians will take place in war-torn Ukraine on Friday as the situation on the roads is too dangerous, a senior official said.

"Because of the insecurity along the routes, there will be no humanitarian corridors today, April 22," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

"To all those who are waiting for an evacuation, please be patient and hold on," she said. — AFP

April 21, 2022

Ukraine's last defenders in devastated Mariupol are refusing to surrender, but have appealed for security guarantees, with Russian forces on the brink of taking complete control of the strategically vital city.

Mariupol has been under siege almost since the invasion began, with widespread shelling laying waste to swathes of the port city and forcing most of its 450,000 people to flee.

On Wednesday, Moscow issued another call for the city's defenders to surrender.

But that ultimatum passed and Ukrainian forces have stood firm, holing up in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant -- also a refuge for up to 2,000 civilians, according to an adviser to the city's mayor. AFP could not independently confirm the number. 

They described a "horrible situation" in the encircled complex, reporting that the trapped civilians -- mostly women and children -- are without drinking water, food and fresh air.

A Ukrainian commander in the plant issued a desperate plea for help Wednesday, accusing the Russians of failing to follow through on promises to allow civilians safe passage out of the city. 

"I want to call upon all the civilised world to join security guarantees," deputy commander of the far-right Azov Regiment, Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, said in a statement, adding civilians inside the plant were "scared due to constant shelling".

"We are pleading so we can collect the bodies of the dead, so the civilians can calmly walk out from Azovstal."

But the corridor appeared to be reopening, with Ukrainian authorities reporting Thursday that four buses had left Mariupol. -- AFP

April 21, 2022

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday hails Russia's "liberation" of Mariupol after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told him Moscow controlled the Ukrainian port city apart from the Azovstal steel plant.

"Block off this industrial area so that not even a fly can escape," Putin says in a televised meeting, adding it would be "impractical" to storm the huge industrial area, where more than 2,000 Ukrainian servicemen remain according to Shoigu. — AFP

April 21, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not succeed in dividing the EU in its response to the war in Ukraine, EU chief Charles Michel says on a visit to Kyiv.

"The Kremlin's goal is to destroy the sovereignty of Ukraine, it's also to divide the European Union, and he will not succeed," Michel says at a press conference with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.  

"In recent weeks we have demonstrated even in difficult circumstances that the 27 member states, we were systematically able to take decisions all together by unanimity," he says. — AFP

April 20, 2022

Norway has given Ukraine around 100 French-made Mistral anti-air missiles, the government said on Wednesday.

The Mistral launchers and missiles, which have already been delivered, had until now been mounted on Norwegian navy vessels, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Built from the end of the 1980s by defence group Matra, which later merged with European missile developer MBDA, the Mistral is a very short-range surface-to-air missile. It can be used on vehicles, ships and helicopters, or be portable. 

In a video speech to the Norwegian parliament at the end of March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had asked Oslo for anti-air missiles, albeit the more modern NASAMS type made by Norway's Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

"The (Mistral) missile is to be retired from the Norwegian military but it is still a modern and efficient weapon that will be of great use to Ukraine", Norway Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram said in the statement.

"Other countries have also donated similar weapons systems", he said. — AFP

April 20, 2022

European Council chief Charles Michel, representing EU member states, arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday as Russia continues its new offensive in the east of Ukraine. 

"In Kyiv today. In the heart of a free and democratic Europe," Michel wrote on his Twitter account, accompanied by a photo taken at a train station in the Ukrainian capital. — AFP

April 20, 2022

A commander for the Ukrainian marines fighting in the last stronghold of Mariupol said his forces were "maybe facing our last days, if not hours" and appealed for extraction in a Facebook post published early Wednesday.

"The enemy is outnumbering us 10 to one," Serhiy Volyna from the 36th Separate Marine Brigade said, sheltering at the besieged Azovstal factory, adding: "We appeal and plead to all world leaders to help us. We ask them to use the procedure of extraction and take us to the territory of a third-party state." — AFP

April 20, 2022

The United States is set to approve another $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, less than a week after announcing a package of the same amount, US media reported Tuesday.

Details of the new package are still being worked out, according to CNN, which cited three senior officials in President Joe Biden's administration.

NBC News reported that the new assistance is expected to include more artillery and tens of thousands of shells to help Kyiv combat Russia's invasion, as fighting escalates in the east of Ukraine. — AFP

April 20, 2022

Up to 20,000 mercenaries from the Russian private military company the Wagner Group as well as from Syria and Libya are fighting alongside Moscow's forces in Ukraine, a European official says Tuesday.

"Regarding their capabilities, it's infantry. They don't have any heavy vehicles and weapons. It's much more infantry," the official tells reporters in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"These guys are mainly used as a mass against Ukrainian resistance," the official says. — AFP

April 19, 2022

There will be no humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians in Ukraine for a third consecutive day on Tuesday because there has been no agreement from the Russian side, Kyiv's deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Tuesday.

"Today, April 19, there will unfortunately be no humanitarian corridor," Vereshchuk wrote on Telegram. "The intense bombardment of Donbas is continuing." — AFP

April 19, 2022

Russia's large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine has begun, the governor of the Lugansk region Sergiy Gaiday says on Monday.

"It's hell. The offensive has begun, the one we've been talking about for weeks. There's constant fighting in Rubizhne and Popasna, fighting in other peaceful cities," he says on Facebook. — AFP

April 18, 2022

Ukraine says it is halting for a second consecutive day the evacuation of civilians from frontline town and cities in the east of the country, accusing Russian forces of blocking and shelling escape routes.

"Unfortunately, today, April 18, there will be no humanitarian corridors. In violation of international humanitarian law, the Russian occupiers have not stopped blocking and shelling humanitarian routes," Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says in a statement on social media. — AFP

April 18, 2022

Ukraine on Sunday vowed to fight to the end in Mariupol after a Russian ultimatum expired for remaining forces to surrender in the Black Sea port city where Moscow is pushing for a major strategic victory.

"The city still has not fallen," Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said hours after Moscow's deadline had passed for fighters holed up and surrounded in a sprawling fortress-like steelworks to surrender.

"There's still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end," he told ABC's "This Week".

Moscow has shifted its military focus to gaining control of the eastern Donbas region and forging a land corridor to already-annexed Crimea.  — AFP

April 18, 2022

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says that the strategic port city of Mariupol "has not fallen" and that the encircled forces defending the city from Russian attack will "fight to the end."

But with the fate of those embattled fighters looking increasingly grim, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that Russian troops appeared to have decided to level the city.

"The city still has not fallen," Shmyhal said on ABC's "This Week." "There's still our military forces, our soldiers. So they will fight to the end." — AFP

April 17, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the situation in the eastern city of Mariupol is "inhuman", warning the "elimination" of the last Ukrainian troops defending would end peace talks with Russia.

"Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there," he says in a video address. -- AFP

April 16, 2022

Russia's defense ministry says Saturday its forces had struck a military hardware factory in Kyiv, a day after warning of intensified attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

"High-precision long-range air-launched weapons destroyed production buildings of an armaments plant in Kyiv," the ministry says in a statement on Telegram. — AFP 

April 16, 2022

US media report that Russia has formally complained to the United States over its military aid to Ukraine, warning of "unpredictable consequences" if shipments of advanced weaponry go forward.

In a diplomatic note this week, Moscow warned the United States and NATO against sending the "most sensitive" weapons for Kyiv to use in the conflict with Russia, saying such shipments were "adding fuel" to the situation and could come with "unpredictable consequences," the Washington Post reports.

The warning came the same week that US President Joe Biden pledged a new $800 million military aid package for Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers and armored personnel carriers. — AFP

April 15, 2022

China must pay a greater price for backing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a senior United States senator said Friday, during a trip to Taiwan in which American lawmakers vowed that Washington would not abandon the island.

Beijing threatened "strong measures" in response to the delegation led by Lindsey Graham, a vocal China hawk, which arrived in Taipei late Thursday for a two-day visit. 

China has never controlled democratic Taiwan but it views the island as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.  — AFP

April 15, 2022

Russia's defence ministry warns Friday it will intensify attacks on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in response to strikes on Russian soil, after accusing Ukraine of targeting Russian border towns.

"The number and scale of missile strikes against targets in Kyiv will increase in response to any terrorist attacks or sabotage committed by the Kyiv nationalist regime on Russian territory," the ministry says in a statement. Russia hit a "military" factory outside Kyiv late Thursday using Kalibr sea-based long-range missiles, it adds. — AFP

April 15, 2022

Ukraine says it is reopening humanitarian corridors through nine routes in the east and south, to facilitate the evacuation of civilians from war-scarred regions after a day-long pause that Kyiv attributed to Russian violations. — AFP

April 14, 2022

A Russian warship in the Black Sea was "seriously damaged" by an ammunition explosion, Russian state media says.

"As a result of a fire, ammunition detonated on the Moskva missile cruiser. The ship was seriously damaged," the Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying, adding that the cause of the fire was being determined and that the crew had been evacuated. — AFP  

April 13, 2022

Russia says more than a thousand Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered in the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol after a ferocious six-week battle for the strategic port.

"In the city of Mariupol... 1,026 Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th Marine Brigade voluntarily laid down their arms and surrendered," the Russian defence ministry says. Ukraine has yet to confirm the report. — AFP

April 12, 2022

A UK minister warns any use of chemical weapons by Russia in its attacks on Ukraine "will get a response and all options are on the table".

The stark warning came hours after London said it was trying to verify reports Moscow used chemical weapons Monday in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

"If they are used at all, then (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin should know that all possible options are on the table in terms of how the West might respond," armed forces minister James Heappey told Sky News. — AFP

April 12, 2022

France is expelling six Russians suspected of working as spies under diplomatic cover after the French intelligence services uncovered a clandestine operation on its territory, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

"Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover whose activities were found to be contrary to our national interests have been declared persona non grata," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said the DGSI domestic intelligence service had revealed on April 10 after a long investigation "a clandestine operation carried out by the Russian intelligence services on our territory". — AFP

April 12, 2022

Russian forces are reinforcing around the Donbas, notably near the town of Izyum, but have not yet launched an offensive to seize control of the disputed region of eastern Ukraine, Pentagon officials say.

"They're repositioning, they're refocusing on the Donbas," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby tells reporters.

Kirby says a convoy of vehicles had been observed heading for Izyum but "it's not clear to us how many vehicles are in this convoy and what exactly they're bringing. — AFP

April 11, 2022

Austria's chancellor on Monday will become the first European leader to visit Moscow since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as Kyiv steels itself for a huge Russian offensive in the country's east. 

Karl Nehammer said he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is expected to raise alleged war crimes in devastated areas around Kyiv that were under Russian occupation, including the town of Bucha.

Ukrainian authorities say over 1,200 bodies have been found in the area so far and that they are weighing cases against "500 suspects", including Putin and other top Russian officials.

Russian forces are now turning their focus to the Donbas region in the east, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian troops were preparing "even larger operations".

Russia is believed to be seeking a link between occupied Crimea and Moscow-backed separatist territories Donetsk and Lugansk in Donbas. -- AFP

April 11, 2022

Weekend bombardments in eastern Ukraine killed 10 civilians and wounded 11 others around Kharkiv, the region's governor said Sunday.

Saturday's bombardments hit four towns around and to the southeast of Kharkiv, Oleg Synegubov posted on Telegram, adding that one of those killed was a child.

"In the course of the day, the occupiers bombarded the civil infrastructure at Balakliya, Pesochin, Zolochiv and Dergachi," he added.

"At the current time we know of 10 people killed, including a child, and 11 wounded." — AFP

April 10, 2022

North Korea has described Joe Biden as an "old man in his senility", in a characteristically colourful personal attack on the US president after he accused the Russian leader of war crimes in Ukraine.

The diatribe came after Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin "a war criminal" and called for him to be put on trial over alleged atrocities against civilians in Ukraine’s Bucha.

"The latest story is the US chief executive who spoke ill of the Russian president with groundless data," said a commentary carried by the official KCNA news agency on Saturday.

"Such reckless remarks can be made only by the descendants of Yankees, master hand at aggression and plot-breeding," it added.

It described Biden as a "president known for his repeated slip of tongue", but stopped short of referring to him by name. — AFP

April 9, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for a "firm global response" after a missile strike killed 52 people at a train station in eastern Ukraine where civilians had gathered to flee a feared Russian offensive.

"This is another Russian war crime for which everyone involved will be held accountable," Zelensky says in a video message, referring to Friday's missile strike, whose victims included five children. 

"World powers have already condemned Russia's attack on Kramatorsk. We expect a firm global response to this war crime," he continues. — AFP

April 8, 2022

More than 30 people were killed and over 100 injured in a rocket attack on a train station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine on Friday, the head of the national railway company says.

"More than 30 people were killed and over 100 were injured in the rocket attack on Kramatorsk railway station. This is a deliberate attack on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk," Alexander Kamyshin writes on social media. — AFP

April 8, 2022

US President Joe Biden calls the images emerging as Russian troops withdraw from parts of Ukraine an "outrage" to humanity, as he hailed Moscow's expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council.

"Russia's lies are no match for the undeniable evidence of what is happening in Ukraine," Biden says in a statement.

"The signs of people being raped, tortured, executed -- in some cases having their bodies desecrated -- are an outrage to our common humanity."  — AFP

April 8, 2022

Ukraine says it was "grateful" for a decision to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, saying "war criminals" should not be represented in the body. 

"War criminals have no place in UN bodies aimed at protecting human rights," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says on Twitter. "Grateful to all member states which supported the relevant UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) resolution and chose the right side of history." — AFP

April 7, 2022

Ukraine on Thursday accuses its neighbour, Kremlin-ally Hungary, of appeasing Russian aggression and disrupting EU unity following a telephone call between the Hungarian and Russian leaders.

"Apparently, after the elections, Budapest moved on to the next step — helping (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continue his aggression against Ukraine," the Ukrainian foreign ministry says in a statement, also accusing Hungary of "destroying unity in the EU". — AFP

April 7, 2022

Greece is to call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to probe "crimes of war" in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol, where there was a sizeable Greek community before Russia's invasion, its foreign minister said on Thursday.

"Greece is going to ask the international court in The Hague to investigate crimes of war conducted in Mariupol," Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said as he arrived for the second day of a NATO meeting on the war in Ukraine.

"Greece has a specific, special interest for Mariupol because of the existence of a 100,000 and more Greek community in Mariupol," he said.

The ICC's chief prosecutor said a month ago the court had opened "active investigations" into possible war crimes in Ukraine, backed by dozens of countries.

Mariupol, located in a strategic southeastern spot between Russia-occupied Crimea and pro-Russian separatist regions in Ukraine's east, has been the scene of some of the fiercest assaults by Moscow's forces. -- AFP

April 6, 2022

EU nations expelled dozens more Russian diplomats Tuesday amid increasing outrage over the Ukraine conflict, in coordinated moves that have seen more than 200 envoys and staff sent home in 48 hours.

After Germany and France announced around 75 expulsions between them Monday, countries including Italy, Spain and Slovenia followed suit Tuesday — while the European Union itself declared "persona non grata" a group of Russian officials working with its institutions.

The expulsions were for alleged spying or "national security reasons", but come after international condemnation of killings in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where dozens of bodies were discovered after Russian troops withdrew. — AFP

April 5, 2022

French anti-terror prosecutors say that they were opening three new probes into suspected war crimes committed against French nationals during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The cases took place in the southern city of Mariupol; in Hostomel, outside Kyiv; and in Chernihiv in northen Ukraine, the national anti-terror prosecutors' office says in a statement.

The prosecutors had already opened a war crime probe on March 16 into the death of Franco-Irish Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who was shot near Kyiv while covering the war. — AFP

April 5, 2022

Russia accuses Ukraine of staging new civilian deaths in a number of locations in an effort to pin the blame on Moscow. 

The Russian defence ministry made the assertion after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded tough new sanctions on Moscow over killings in the town of Bucha that have prompted international condemnation.

The Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian military recorded a fake video that purported to show "peaceful civilians allegedly killed by the Russian armed forces." — AFP

April 5, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will speak Tuesday during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the conflict in his country, Britain's diplomatic mission announces, the leader's first address to a UN body since Russia invaded on February 24.

Following the Monday announcement, the United Kingdom -- which holds the council presidency for April -- was unable to say if the speech would be live or recorded in advance.

Tuesday's session was already on the calendar before the announcement of Zelensky's appearance, and will include the participation of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. — AFP

April 4, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that he had created a "special mechanism" to investigate Russian "crimes" in Ukraine, vowing to find and punish "everyone" responsible after evidence emerged of civilian killings in towns near Kyiv. 

"I decided to create a special mechanism of justice in Ukraine to investigate and prosecute every crime of the occupiers in our country," he says in a video address. He said this will include "national and international experts, investigators, prosecutors and judges." 

Zelensky vows that "everyone guilty of such crimes will be entered in a special Book of Executioners, will be found and punished." — AFP

April 4, 2022

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he is "deeply shocked" by images from the discovery of mass graves in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital, and called for an independent investigation, his spokesman says.

"I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability," Guterres says after Ukrainian officials said hundreds of bodies had been found, prompting accusations of war crimes against Russian troops. — AFP

April 3, 2022

Explosions rocked the strategic Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Sunday, as a top UN official headed to Moscow to try to secure a "humanitarian ceasefire" and after evidence emerged of possible civilian killings around Kyiv.

Thick plumes of black smoke rose from several areas on the historic Black Sea port, after air strikes shook the city at about 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) but the Ukrainian army said no one was killed.

Russia's defense ministry confirmed the attack, saying "high-precision sea and air-based missiles destroyed an oil refinery and three storage facilities for fuel and lubricants".

The ministry claimed the targets were supplying fuel to Ukrainian troops. — AFP

April 2, 2022

The US Defense Department announces it is setting aside $300 million in "security assistance" for Ukraine to bolster the country's defense capabilities, adding to the $1.6 billion Washington has committed since Russia invaded in late February.

The package includes laser-guided rocket systems, drones, ammunition, night-vision devices, tactical secure communications systems, medical supplies and spare parts.

"This decision underscores the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia's war of choice," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby says in a statement. — AFP

April 1, 2022

Officials in Kyiv say Russian troops have left Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant after weeks of occupation.

"There are no longer any outsiders on the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Ukraine's state agency in charge of the Chernobyl exclusion zone says on Facebook. — AFP

April 1, 2022

One person was killed and four seriously wounded when Russian forces shelled an evacuation convoy outside the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigiv, officials in Kyiv said Thursday.

"Five buses came under direct fire from the enemy as they tried to get to the surrounded city to evacuate people," Ukraine's ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said on Telegram. 

"There were only civilian volunteers on the buses. As a result of the shelling, one person is dead, four were gravely injured." — AFP

March 31, 2022

Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine have said they control almost all of the Lugansk region and more than half of the Donetsk region after Moscow made these territories its primary military goal.

AFP could not independently verify these claims. 

Russia recognised the independence of the self-declared Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics shortly before sending troops into Ukraine on February 24. 

"As of the morning of March 31, 2022, more than 90 percent of the territory of the People's Republic of Lugansk has been liberated," the foreign ministry of the self-proclaimed republic said on Telegram Thursday. — AFP

March 31, 2022

The Ukrainian government is sending 45 buses on Thursday to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, where the Russian defence ministry has announced a local ceasefire, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

"Tonight, we received a message from the International Red Cross Committee that the Russian Federation confirms its readiness to open access for the humanitarian convoy to the city of Mariupol with transit through the city of Berdiansk," she said in video posted on Telegram. 

"We are sending 45 buses to the Mariupol corridor". — AFP

March 31, 2022

The Ukrainian government is sending 45 buses on Thursday to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol, where the Russian defense ministry has announced a local ceasefire, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says.

"Tonight, we received a message from the International Red Cross Committee that the Russian Federation confirms its readiness to open access for the humanitarian convoy to the city of Mariupol with transit through the city of Berdiansk," she says in video posted on Telegram. 

"We are sending 45 buses to the Mariupol corridor". — AFP

March 31, 2022

President Vladimir Putin is being misled by fearful advisors as his Ukraine invasion goes awry, with mutinous Russian troops sabotaging equipment and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft, US and British intelligence agencies say.

The close allies, whose spies have played up Russia's failures and highlighted Kremlin divisions, said Putin's advisors were "too afraid" to tell him the full truth about battlefield reverses and the real impact of sanctions.

Hours after the White House released its withering intelligence assessment, Britain's GCHQ spy agency chief Jeremy Fleming said Thursday that the Russian leader had overestimated his military's ability to secure a rapid victory. — AFP

March 31, 2022

President Vladimir Putin has been poorly informed on the course of the war in Ukraine and his relations with his own staff have deteriorated, the White House said Wednesday on the basis of declassified US intelligence.

"We obviously have information which we have now made public that he felt misled by the Russian military," White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said, confirming an earlier statement by a senior US official.

Ukrainian forces have been recapturing territory in recent days — including the strategic Kyiv suburb of Irpin — as the Russian offensive appears to stall, a month after the invasion began on February 24.

"We believe (Putin is) being misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions, because, again, the senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth," Bedingfield said. — AFP

March 30, 2022

Ukrainian authorities say that Russian forces had bombarded the northern city of Chernigiv despite Moscow's earlier claims that it was "radically" scaling back military activity in the area.

"The enemy has demonstrated its 'decrease in activity' in the Chernigiv region with strikes on Nizhyn, including air strikes. Chernigiv was shelled all night," regional governor Vyacheslav Chaus writes on social media. 

Speaking on local television, Chaus adds later that "the situation is not changing," one day after Russia announced it would be changing tact.

"Chernigiv is under artillery and aerial bombardment. Last night, there were bombardments that destroyed the civil infrastructure," he adds. — AFP

March 30, 2022

More than four million Ukrainians have now fled the country to escape Russia's war, United Nations figures show.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says 4,019,287 Ukrainians had fled across the country's borders since the February 24 invasion, with more than 2.3 million having headed west into Poland. —  AFP

March 30, 2022

US President Joe Biden and key western European allies agreed Tuesday in a phone call to keep punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.

"The leaders affirmed their determination to continue raising costs on Russia for its brutal attacks in Ukraine, as well as to continue supplying Ukraine with security assistance to defend itself," a statement said after Biden spoke with the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy. — AFP

March 30, 2022

There can be no talk of lifting sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine until the war ends, President Volodymyr Zelensky says.

"The question of sanctions cannot even be raised until this war is over, until we get back what is ours," Zelensky says in a video address. — AFP

March 29, 2022

Ukrainian forces have "liberated" the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky says in televised remarks.

"In fact, this is now happening in parallel: the armed forces are advancing, the police are advancing, and immediately a sweep is going on completely through the streets... Therefore, the city has now been liberated, but it is still dangerous to be there, " Monastyrsky says.

The town's mayor, Oleksandr Markushin, had earlier on Monday announced on his Telegram channel that Russian troops had been driven out of the town on the strategic northwestern entrance to Kyiv. — AFP

March 29, 2022

UN chief Antonio Guterres says the global body is seeking a humanitarian ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, as the civilian toll continues to rise a month after Moscow's invasion of its neighbor. 

Guterres tells reporters he had asked UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths "immediately to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine."

He says he hopes Griffiths would go to both Moscow and Kyiv as soon as possible after he returns from a mission to Afghanistan. — AFP

March 28, 2022

President Joe Biden's apparent call for Vladimir Putin's exit reverberated instantly around the world, sparking an administration rush to course-correct — and risks scrambling US efforts to rally a united front on the Ukraine conflict.

Biden's comment that the Russian president "cannot remain in power" — delivered in Warsaw at the close of three days of marathon diplomacy — was termed "a horrendous gaffe" by one Republican senator.

A senior US analyst said it could have the effect of lengthening the war. — AFP

March 28, 2022

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenksy says Sunday that a Russian demand of Ukrainian neutrality — a key issue for Moscow at conflict negotiations — was being closely looked at by Kyiv's negotiators.

"This point of the negotiations is understandable to me and it is being discussed, it is being carefully studied," Zelensky says during an interview with several independent Russian news organisations.

The Kremlin earlier this month said Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt to help end Russia's invasion in Ukraine. — AFP

March 27, 2022

More than 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion a month ago, the UN says.

The UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, says 3,772,599 Ukrainians have fled the country — an increase of 46,793 from the previous day's figure.

Around 90 percent of them are women and children. The UN estimates that another 6.5 million people are displaced in Ukraine. — AFP

March 27, 2022

US President Joe Biden warns Russia not to move on an "inch" of NATO territory, as he delivers a major address on the Ukraine conflict Saturday in Warsaw.

"Don't even think about moving on one single inch of NATO territory," Biden warns, reiterating the "sacred obligation" of alliance members to defend their territory "with the full force of our collective power." — AFP

March 26, 2022

Ukrainians are fighting to take back Kherson, now a "contested" city, according to Pentagon.

March 26, 2022

The Russian army is riddled with informers and using "old methods of warfare" against Ukrainian forces, the head of Ukraine's defense intelligence agency GUR says in an interview.

Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov also tells US publication The Nation that a "very large number of people" have been mobilized to engage in guerrilla warfare behind Russian lines.

Budanov says that although Ukrainian forces have held out against the Russian military for a month, the situation remains "very difficult. — AFP

March 25, 2022

Ukrainian officials in the strategic port city of Mariupol says some 300 people could have died in last week's Russian strike on a theatre where hundreds were sheltering.

"From eyewitnesses, information is emerging that about 300 people died in the Drama Theatre of Mariupol following strikes by a Russian aircraft," Mariupol city hall wrote on Telegram. — AFP

March 23, 2022

At least 12 people have been killed in strikes across eastern Ukraine, an official in Kyiv says Tuesday, nearly one month into Moscow's invasion.

"In the Donetsk region, Avdiivka was fired on by artillery and aircraft, the city was razed to the ground. Five civilians were killed and 19 were injured," Ukraine's ombudswoman, Lyudmyla Denisova, says in a statement.

She says the attack occurred late Monday. — AFP

March 22, 2022

Ukraine's leaders accuse Russian forces of firing on unarmed protesters in the occupied southern city of Kherson, with videos appearing to show residents fleeing flash-bang grenades and sustained gunfire.

"Occupiers shot at people who went out peacefully, without weapons, to protest. For freedom -- our freedom," President Volodymyr Zelensky says, leading the condemnation.

A series of videos posted on social media and the messaging app Telegram showed citizens gathering in Kherson's "Freedom Square" protesting against Russia's recent seizure of the city.

March 22, 2022

President Volodymyr Zelensky insists that a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin "in any format" is needed to end the war in Ukraine.

"I believe that without this meeting it is impossible to fully understand what they are ready for in order to stop the war," Zelensky says in an interview with the Ukraine regional media outlet Suspilne.

Zelensky has previously said that "without negotiations we cannot end the war" and called for a summit with Putin, but his comments on Monday were particularly insistent.  — AFP

March 21, 2022

Ukraine has rejected an ultimatum to surrender the besieged port city of Mariupol to Russian forces, its deputy prime minister told Ukrainian media Monday.

"There can be no talk of surrendering weapons. We have already informed the Russian side of this," Iryna Vereshchuk told Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.

"It's a deliberate manipulation and it's a real hostage situation," she added of the demand. — AFP

March 21, 2022

US President Joe Biden will travel to Poland on Friday to meet with President Andrzej Duda for discussions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Sunday.

"The President will discuss how the United States, alongside our Allies and partners, is responding to the humanitarian and human rights crisis that Russia's unjustified and unprovoked war on Ukraine has created," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. 

The statement added that Biden's trip will come after a visit to Belgium to meet with leaders from NATO, the G7 and the European Union. — AFP

March 21, 2022

A deputy commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet was killed in combat in the besieged port city of Mariupol during what Moscow calls its military operation in Ukraine, officials said Sunday.

"Captain 1st Rank Andrei Nikolayevich Paly was killed in the fighting to liberate Mariupol from Ukrainian Nazis," the governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev said on Telegram.

Sevastopol is a port city in Crimea — annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014 — and the base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. — AFP

March 20, 2022

Ukrainian authorities said on Sunday that Russia had bombed a school sheltering 400 people in the besieged port of Mariupol, as Moscow claimed that it had again fired a hypersonic missile in Ukraine, the second time it had used the next-generation weapon on its neighbour.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the siege of Mariupol, a strategic mostly Russian-speaking port in the southeast where utilities and communications have been cut for days, would go down as a war crime, warning Russians that thousands of their soldiers had died in the conflict.

The war in Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin launched on February 24 to stamp out the pro-Western bent in the ex-Soviet country, has sparked the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, felled Russia-West relations to Cold War-era lows, and is wreaking havoc in the world economy still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP

March 20, 2022

Ukraine called on China on Saturday to join the West in condemning "Russian barbarism", as Moscow claimed it had struck a Ukrainian arms depot with hypersonic missiles in what would be the first use in combat of the next-generation weapons.

That attack, not far from the country's western Romanian border, came as Russia said its troops had broken through Ukrainian defences to enter the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, a scene of mounting desperation.

With the invasion in its fourth week, Kyiv's embattled leader Volodymyr Zelensky pressed for "meaningful" talks to halt fighting that has forced at least 3.3 million Ukrainians to flee their country.

The plea for China to condemn the invasion came from a top Zelensky advisor, Mikhailo Podolyak. 

China could play an important role in global security, he said on Twitter, "if it makes a right decision to support the civilised countries' coalition and condemn Russian barbarism." — AFP


March 19, 2022

The United Nations says more than 3.3 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion, Saturday, while nearly 6.5 million are thought to be internally displaced within the country.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, says 3,328,692 Ukrainians had left since the war began on February 24, with another 58,030 joining the exodus since Friday's update.

"People continue to flee because they are afraid of bombs, airstrikes and indiscriminate destruction," says UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi. — AFP 

March 19, 2022

Dozens dead after shelling of military barracks in south Ukraine: witnesses to AFP 

March 18, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin accuses Ukrainian authorities of stalling talks, but adds that Moscow was ready to search for solutions as he spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

"It was noted that the Kyiv regime is trying in every possible way to stall negotiations, putting forward more and more unrealistic proposals," the Kremlin says after the phone call. 

"Nevertheless, the Russian side is ready to continue to search for solutions in line with its well-known principled approaches." — AFP

March 18, 2022

Perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine will be called to account, the Group of Seven most industrialised nations warned Thursday, condemning "the indiscriminate attacks on civilians" by Russian troops since the invasion began on February 24.

"Due to President (Vladimir) Putin's unprovoked and shameful war, millions are forced to flee their homes; the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, theatres and schools is ongoing," the G7 foreign ministers said in a statement.

"Those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians, will be held responsible," they warned. — AFP

March 18, 2022

Ottawa announces it is establishing a new immigration program that will offer Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion a temporary Canadian residence permit for up to three years.

Canada, which has a large Ukrainian diaspora, especially in the center and west of the country, said in a statement that "Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality may stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years."

Applicants are required to apply online and provide their biometric data in the form of fingerprints and a photo. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges Germany in an emotional video address before parliament Thursday to help destroy a new "Wall" Russia was erecting in Europe.

"It's not a Berlin Wall — it is a Wall in central Europe between freedom and bondage and this Wall is growing bigger with every bomb" dropped on Ukraine, Zelensky tells MPs.

"Dear Mr Scholz, tear down this Wall," he implores German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, evoking US President Ronald Reagan's Cold War appeal in Berlin. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Diplomatic sources say the United States, Britain, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland have requested an emergency UN Security Council meeting Thursday because of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.

"Russia is committing war crimes and targeting civilians," the British diplomatic mission to the UN said Wednesday on its Twitter account. "Russia's illegal war on Ukraine is a threat to us all."

Earlier in the day, Russia asked to again postpone a UN Security Council vote on a resolution it drafted about the "humanitarian" situation in Ukraine. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Ukraine claims that Russia had destroyed a theater harboring more than a thousand people in the besieged port city of Mariupol, with the toll as yet unknown.

"Today, the invaders destroyed the Drama Theatre. A place, where more than a thousand people found refuge. We will never forgive this," the Mariupol local council says in a Telegram post. — AFP

March 16, 2022

Ukraine says "security guarantees" must be focus of talks with Russia.

March 16, 2022

There are "fundamental contradictions" in talks aimed at ending Russia's military attack on Ukraine but compromise is possible, a member of the Ukrainian delegation and presidential aide, Mykhailo Podolyak, says Tuesday.

"We'll continue tomorrow. A very difficult and viscous negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions. But there is certainly room for compromise," Podolyak tweets.

Talks resumed Tuesday, with both sides having signalled progress. — AFP

March 15, 2022

The United States has "deep concerns" about "alignment" between Russia and China, a senior US official says after high-ranking US and Chinese officials met for seven hours on the Ukraine war and other security issues.

"We do have deep concerns about China's alignment with Russia," the official tells reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. — AFP

March 14, 2022

Ukraine says it would demand an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops during a fourth round of negotiations to end more than two weeks of fighting after Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine.

"Peace, an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Russians troops — and only after this can we talk about regional relations and about political differences," Kyiv's lead negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak says in a video statement posted to Twitter. — AFP

March 14, 2022

At least two people died and 12 were wounded following an air strike on a residential building in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, the country's emergency service says Monday. 

"As of 07:40, the bodies of two people were found in a nine-storey apartment building, three people were hospitalised and nine people were treated on the spot," the emergency service says on Facebook, adding that the building was in Kyiv's Obolon district. — AFP

March 14, 2022

Russia has asked China for military and economic aid for its war in Ukraine, US media reported Sunday, hours after the White House warned Beijing would face severe "consequences" if it helps Moscow evade sanctions. 

US officials told media that Russia had requested military equipment and support from its key ally.  

Moscow also asked Beijing for economic assistance against the crippling sanctions imposed against it by most of the Western world, the New York Times said, again citing anonymous officials. — AFP

March 14, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urges NATO to impose a no-fly zone over his country or see its member states attacked by Russia.

"If you don't close our sky, it is only a matter of time before Russian rockets fall on your territory, on NATO territory," Zelensky says in a video address released shortly after midnight.

He speaks a day after thirty-five people were killed and more than 130 injured when Russian troops launched air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, near the border with NATO member Poland. — AFP

March 13, 2022

Russian troops launched multiple air strikes on a military training ground outside Ukraine's western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, a local official said Sunday.

Russia "launched an air strike on the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security," some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Lviv, head of the Lviv regional administration, Maxim Kozitsky, said on his verified Facebook page, adding that eight missiles were fired. — AFP

March 12, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky praises the support of neighboring Poland since Russia invaded last month.

"When you have someone who hurts you, it is very important to have someone who offers their shoulder for you to lean on," he says in a message to his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and the Polish people.

On February 24, when Russia invaded, "I had no doubt who this would be, who would tell me 'Brother, your people will not find themselves alone against the enemy'". — AFP

March 11, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin backs plans to allow volunteers, including from abroad, to fight in Ukraine, where he has sent thousands of Russian troops in what he calls a "special military operation". 

"If you see that there are people who want on a voluntary basis (to help east Ukraine's separatists), then you need to meet them halfway and help them move to combat zones," Putin tells Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu during a televised security council meeting.

"As for the supply of arms, especially Western-made, which ended up in the hands of the Russian army, of course I support the possibility of transferring them to the military units of DNR and LNR," Putin says referring to the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in Ukraine's east. — AFP

March 11, 2022

The UN Security Council will hold an urgent meeting Friday at the request of Russia over the alleged development of biological weapons in Ukraine.

Russia on Thursday accused the United States of funding research into the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, which has faced an assault by tens of thousands of Russian troops since February 24. 

Both Washington and Kyiv have denied the existence of laboratories intended to produce biological weapons in Ukraine, with the United States saying the allegations were a sign that Moscow could soon use the weapons itself. — AFP

March 10, 2022

Russia accuses the United States of funding research into the development of biological weapons in Ukraine, as Moscow stepped up its campaign to gain control of key Ukrainian cities.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov says in a televised briefing that "the purpose of this — and other Pentagon-funded biological research in Ukraine — was to establish a mechanism for the stealthy spread of deadly pathogens."

Konashenkov claimed the ministry had obtained documents detailing US military-biological activities in Ukraine, including on the transfer of Ukrainians' biomaterial abroad. — AFP

March 10, 2022

At least three people were killed, including a young girl, in an attack the previous day on a children's hospital in Mariupol in southern Ukraine, local officials said on Thursday. 

"Three people were killed, including a female child, in yesterday's attack on a children's and maternity hospital in Ukraine's besieged Mariupol, according to updated figures this morning," the city council said on its Telegram channel. 

Officials had previously given a toll of 17 injured in the attack. — AFP

March 10, 2022

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine have arrived in Turkey for face-to-face talks set for Thursday morning, officials said, in the first high-level contact between the two sides since Moscow invaded its ex-Soviet neighbour.

Officials from Kyiv and Moscow have held several rounds of discussions in Belarus, but the meeting in the southern city of Antalya represents the first time Russia has sent a minister for talks on the crisis.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had landed in Antalya for talks "on Russia ceasing its hostilities and ending its war against Ukraine," foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko tweeted Wednesday evening. — AFP

March 10, 2022

Power has been cut to the Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukraine says, but the UN's atomic watchdog said there was "no critical impact on safety".

The news from the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster came as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said data transmission was also lost at the Zaporizhzhia atomic plant, Europe's largest.

Russian forces shelled and captured the Zaporizhzhia plant on March 4, causing a fire that raised alarm in Europe of a possible nuclear catastrophe. — AFP

March 10, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky describes a Russian air strike on a children's hospital in the southeastern city of Mariupol as a "war crime" after it prompted international condemnation.

The air strike on the hospital, which officials said held both maternity and paediatric units, blew out windows, ripped down partition walls and set fire to cars parked outside, videos posted by officials showed.

"We have not done and would never do anything like this war crime in any of the cities of the Donetsk or Lugansk regions, or of any region... because we are people. But are you?" Zelensky asks, switching to Russian to make his point.

"What kind of a country is Russia, that it is afraid of hospitals and maternity wards and destroys them?" he asks. — AFP

March 9, 2022

Russia says negotiations with officials from Kyiv to resolve the conflict in Ukraine were making headway and underscored that Moscow's troops were not working to topple the Ukrainian government.

"Some progress has been made," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says during a press briefing, referring to three rounds of talks with Kyiv. She says the Russian military had not been tasked to "overthrow the current government." — AFP

March 9, 2022

A Ukraine official says Russia and Ukraine agree day-long evacuation corridors.

March 9, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin is using nuclear "blackmail" to keep the international community from interfering in his Ukraine invasion, the head of the Nobel prize-winning group ICAN said.

"This is one of the scariest moments really when it comes to nuclear weapons," Beatrice Fihn, who leads the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told AFP in an interview Tuesday.

The 40-year-old Swede, who has spearheaded the group's global efforts to ban the weapons of mass destruction since 2013, said she had never in her lifetime seen the nuclear threat level so high.

"It is incredibly worrying and overwhelming." — AFP

March 8, 2022

The head of the UN's refugee agency says he expects the number of refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine to top two million in the next two days.

"I do think that we will pass the 2 million mark today or maybe at the latest tomorrow. So it doesn't stop," Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tells reporters in Oslo. — AFP

March 8, 2022

Asian markets mostly fell again Tuesday as investors try to assess the economic impact of the Ukraine war, while oil prices extended gains after rocketing to a near 14-year high.

As Russia's invasion of its neighbour continues, commodity prices have been sent to record or multi-year highs, forcing observers to re-evaluate their outlook for the global recovery with some now warning of a period of soaring inflation and low growth or recession.

Monday's session saw a sea of red across trading floors after the United States said it was considering banning the import of crude from Russia, the world's number three producer, sending the price of Brent to almost $140 for the first time since 2008.

While the black gold eased back slightly it remains elevated and continued to rise again on Tuesday, with Brent holding above $125 and WTI north of $120. -- AFP

March 8, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will not send conscripts or reservists to fight in Ukraine and that "professional" soldiers fulfilling "fixed objectives" were leading the war.

"Conscripted soldiers are not participating and will not participate in the fighting. There will not be an additional conscription of reservists either," Putin says in a televised address marking International Women's Day on March 8.

"The fixed objectives are only carried out by professional servicemen. I am sure they are guaranteeing security and peace for the Russian people in an effective manner," Putin adds. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Russia says it will open humanitarian corridors to allow the evacuation of civilians from several Ukrainian cities experiencing heavy fighting, including the capital Kyiv and the besieged port city of Mariupol.

"Russian forces, for humanitarian purposes, are declaring a 'regime of silence' from 10:00 am on 7 March and the opening of humanitarian corridors," the Russian defence ministry says in a statement.

It lists evacuation routes from the capital Kyiv as well as Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy — all of which have been under heavy Russian attacks in recent days. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Australia's prime minister calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine "a moment of choice for China" Monday, urging Beijing to end its tacit political and economic support for the war.

Scott Morrison presses China to shape the actions of its Russian ally and prove that Beijing is committed to global peace and the principle of sovereignty. 

"No country would have a greater impact right now on Russia's violent aggression towards Ukraine than China," Morrison tells the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based foreign policy think tank.

"The crisis that now grips Europe heralds a moment of choice for China," he says. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Russia is recruiting Syrian fighters experienced in urban combat as it ramps up its assault on Ukraine, according to US officials quoted by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. 

Moscow, which launched an invasion into its Eastern European neighbor on February 24, has in recent days recruited fighters from Syria hoping they can help take Kyiv, four US officials told the US daily. 

Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 on the side of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The country has been mired in a conflict marked by urban combat for more than a decade.

One official told the Journal that some fighters are already in Russia readying to join the fight in Ukraine, though it was not immediately clear how many combatants have been recruited, and the sources would not provide further detail.

Foreign fighters have already entered the Ukrainian conflict on both sides.

Chechnya strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov — a former rebel-turned-Kremlin-ally — has shared videos of Chechen fighters joining the attack on Ukraine and said some had been killed in the fighting.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has claimed around 20,000 foreign volunteers have traveled to the country to join Kyiv's forces. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Gold rises to more than $2,000 in Asian trade on Monday morning as investors fled to the safe-haven commodity over fears about the impact of the Ukraine war on the global economy.

The precious metal hit a peak of $2,000.86 an ounce, its highest level since September 2020.

Traders have been sent running to safety as Russia continues with its invasion of Ukraine, which has battered equity markets and sent oil prices to a near 14-year high, adding further upward pressure to already high inflation. — AFP

March 7, 2022

Britain is releasing another $100 million to help Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Sunday and promised fresh efforts to rally international opinion against Russia's invasion.

The $100 million, to be provided via the World Bank, is in addition to the £220 million ($290 mln) of overall aid support to Ukraine, said a statement from Downing Street.

The new funding will go towards keeping key state functions operating, it added.

"While only (Russian President Vladimir) Putin can fully end the suffering in Ukraine, today's new funding will continue to help those facing the deteriorating humanitarian situation," said Johnson. — AFP

March 7, 2022

The UN nuclear watchdog expresses "deep concern" over reports that communication from Europe's largest nuclear power plant seized by Russia in Ukraine has been disrupted.

"I'm extremely concerned about these developments that were reported to me today," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi says. 

"In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure," he adds. — AFP

March 6, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened the existence of Ukrainian statehood as his army's invasion of the neighbour faces stiff resistance and his economy is increasingly asphyxiated by sanctions.

In the latest efforts to freeze Moscow out of the world economy, US-based card payment giants Visa and Mastercard announced they will suspend operations in Russia, while world leaders vowed to act over the intensifying onslaught.

"The current (Ukrainian) authorities must understand that if they continue to do what they are doing, they are putting in question the future of Ukrainian statehood," Putin said on Saturday. 

"And if this happens, they will be fully responsible." 

Since Russia's invasion 10 days ago, the economic and humanitarian toll of the war has spiralled, sending more than one million people fleeing Ukraine. Officials have reported hundreds of civilians killed. 

Kyiv has urged the West to boost military assistance to the besieged country, including warplanes, with President Volodymyr Zelensky pleading for Eastern European neighbours to provide Russian-made planes that his citizens are trained to fly. -- AFP

March 6, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he spoke by phone with his US counterpart Joe Biden on Sunday to discuss financial support and sanctions against Russia as his country faces an intensifying onslaught.

"As part of the constant dialogue, I had another conversation with @POTUS," Zelensky tweeted. "The agenda included the issues of security, financial support for Ukraine and the continuation of sanctions against Russia."

Hours earlier, the Ukrainian leader had addressed US lawmakers by video call, pleading for further assistance to his besieged country and a blacklisting of Russian oil imports.

The American legislators promised an additional $10 billion aid package, but the White House has so far ruled out an oil ban, fearing it would ratchet up prices and hurt US consumers already stung by record inflation.  — AFP

March 5, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, leading his country's battle against the Russian invasion, will address the US Senate on Saturday, a US legislative aide says.

Zelensky will speak to senators via Zoom in the morning Washington time at the request of Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, some US lawmakers are urging President Joe Biden to take a tougher stance against Russia, such as by suspending imports of its oil. — AFP

March 4, 2022

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog offers to travel to Chernobyl in order to negotiate with Ukraine and Russia to try to ensure the security of Ukraine's nuclear sites.

"I have indicated to both the Russian Federation and Ukraine my availability... to travel to Chernobyl as soon as possible," Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency tells reporters. "Both sides are considering" the possibility, he adds. — AFP

March 4, 2022

Emergency services in Ukraine say that they had extinguished a fire at Europe's largest nuclear power plant after Kyiv blamed Russian military shelling for the blaze.

"At 06:20 (04:20 GMT) the fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims," the emergency services say in a statement on Facebook. — AFP

March 4, 2022

Ukraine's Zelensky accuses Russia of wanting to "repeat" Chernobyl.

March 4, 2022

The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said it will suspend business related to Russia and Belarus, which have been hit with massive international sanctions over the Ukraine war.

In a statement issued Thursday, the AIIB said that "in the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review".

The bank added that it was "actively monitoring the situation" in Ukraine and that management would do the "utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB".

The multilateral financial institution, a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, was launched in 2016 to counter the West's dominance of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Russia is among the AIIB's founding members and holds around a six percent vote in its operations. It also has a seat on the bank's board of directors. — AFP

March 3, 2022

The UN's refugee agency announces that one million refugees have fled Ukraine in the week since Russia's invasion.

"In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighbouring countries," the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweets, while urging "guns to fall silent" in the country. — AFP

March 2, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Russia, which has launched an invasion of his country, of seeking to "erase" Ukrainians, their country and their history.

In a video address, the Ukrainian leader says a missile strike on a target at the site of a Holocaust massacre shows that "for many people in Russia our Kyiv is completely foreign."

The attack on Tuesday night damaged Kyiv's main television mast, which was built at Babi Yar, the site of World War II's biggest slaughter of Kyiv Jews and a place of memorial and pilgrimage. — AFP

March 2, 2022

US oil giant ExxonMobil announced Tuesday that it will begin a phased withdrawal from the major oil field it operates in Russia on behalf of a consortium including Russian, Indian and Japanese companies, citing Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"In response to recent events, we are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture," the group said in a statement, adding that it deplores Moscow's actions in Ukraine and stressing that it will no longer invest in new projects in Russia. — Agence France Presse


March 2, 2022

United States President Joe Biden is set to deliver his first State of the Union Address today where he is expected to tout Western unity against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to excerpts released ahead of time by the White House, Biden will say that President Vladimir Putin launched an "unprovoked" war, thinking "the West and NATO wouldn't respond" and that he "could divide us here at home."

"Putin was wrong. We were ready," Biden was to declare. "Dictators" need to "pay a price for their aggression."  — Agence France Presse

March 1, 2022

The UN Refugee Agency says more than 660,000 refugees have fled the conflict in Ukraine to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

"We have now over 660,000 refugees who have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries in the past six days alone," spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo tells reporters in Geneva.

"The numbers are exponentially increasing... At this rate, the situation looks set to become Europe's largest refugee crisis this century." — AFP

March 1, 2022

President Joe Biden and other top US officials play down the threat of Russia's "dangerous" nuclear mobilization as the war in Ukraine intensified with more arms being sent to Kyiv by the West.

Asked if Americans should be worried about nuclear war after President Vladimir Putin said he was putting his strategic forces on alert, Biden gave a calm "no" in response.

State Department spokesman Ned Price says Washington sees "no reason" to change the alert levels of the US nuclear force, and a senior defense official says the Pentagon had not seen any palpable shift by the Russians despite Putin's Sunday announcement. — AFP

February 28, 2022

The Ukrainian military said on Monday that Russian troops had slowed down their offensive as Moscow's assault against Ukraine went into its fifth day.

"The Russian occupiers have reduced the pace of the offensive, but are still trying to develop success in some areas," the general staff of the armed forces said.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, sending shockwaves around the world. 

Ukraine forces, backed by Western arms, have managed to slow the advance of the Russian army.

The Ukrainian military also accused Russia of launching a missile strike on residential buildings in the cities of Zhytomyr and Chernigiv, cities in the country's northwest and north.

"At the same time, all attempts by the Russian invaders to achieve the goal of the military operation failed," the military said. — AFP

February 28, 2022

Pro-Russia groups are orchestrating misinformation campaigns on social media, using fake profiles or hacked accounts to paint Ukraine as a feeble pawn of Western duplicity, Meta said Sunday.

The cyber security team at the tech giant — parent of Facebook and Instagram — said it blocked a set of Russia-linked fake accounts that were part of a social media scheme to undermine Ukraine.

"They ran websites posing as independent news entities and created fake personas across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and also Russian Odnoklassniki and VK," Meta said in a blog post.

In some cases, "they used profile pictures that we believe were likely generated using artificial intelligence techniques."

The small network of Facebook and Instagram accounts targeted people in Ukraine, using posts to try to get people to visit websites featuring bogus news about the country's effort to defend itself from the invasion by Russia. — AFP

February 28, 2022

Dressed in the blue and yellow of Ukraine's flag and bearing posters like "No World War 3" and "Russians go home", hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets worldwide Sunday denouncing Russia's invasion of its neighbour.

From Berlin to Baghdad, from Washington to Saint Petersburg, demonstrators chanted "shame" against Russian President Vladimir Putin while others waved banners with slogans like "Putin murderer" or "stop the monster". 

In the German capital, police estimated turnout to be at least 100,000, while Prague drew 70,000 and Amsterdam 15,000. — Agence France Presse

February 27, 2022

Italy said Sunday it would close its airspace to Russia flights, joining other European countries in ramping up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

"Italy is closing its airspace to Russia," a government spokesman said in a brief statement, shortly after other European countries such as Germany, Belgian and Luxembourg announced similar measures. — AFP

February 27, 2022

Russian troops have entered Ukraine's second city Kharkiv and fighting was under way on Sunday, the head of the regional administration said on the fourth day of Moscow's invasion of the pro-Western country.

"The Russian enemy's light vehicles broke into the city of Kharkiv," Oleg Sinegubov said in a Facebook post, urging residents not to leave shelters.

"The Ukrainian armed forces are eliminating the enemy."

While fighting raged in Kharkiv, the city administration in Kyiv, 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the west, said the capital remained completely under the control of Ukrainian forces despite clashes with "sabotage groups".

The Russian defence ministry claimed on Sunday that its troops had besieged the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson and the city of Berdyansk in the southeast.

"Over the past 24 hours, the cities of Kherson and Berdyansk have been completely blocked by the Russian armed forces," defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

He added that Russian troops had also taken control of Genichesk, a port city along the Sea of Azov, and an airfield near Kherson. — AFP

February 27, 2022

Russia has praised India's "independent and balanced" position after Delhi abstained from a UN Security Council vote that deplored Moscow's "aggression" against Ukraine.

India, along with China and the UAE, did not vote on the resolution Friday, a move in line with the fine balance Delhi has sought to strike between partnerships with Moscow and Western allies.

The Russian embassy in India welcomed India's stand on Saturday.

"Highly appreciate India's independent and balanced position at the voting in the UNSC," it said on Twitter.

"In the spirit of the special and privileged strategic partnership, Russia is committed to maintain close dialogue with India on the situation around Ukraine." — AFP

February 27, 2022

Moscow ordered its troops to advance in Ukraine "from all directions" while the West responded late Saturday with sanctions that sought to cripple Russia's banking sector.

Ukrainian officials said 198 civilians, including three children, had been killed since Russia invaded on Thursday, and warned Russian saboteurs were active in Kyiv where explosions forced residents to flee underground.

Moscow said it fired cruise missiles at military targets, continuing the offensive after accusing Ukraine of having "rejected" talks.

But on day three of Russia's invasion, defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his country would never give in to the Kremlin as Washington said the invading force had a "lack of momentum".

Ukraine's army said it held back an assault on the capital — but was fighting Russian "sabotage groups" that had infiltrated the city.

"We will fight until we have liberated our country," Zelensky said in a video message.

He earlier said Ukraine had "derailed" Moscow's plan to overthrow him and urged Russians to pressure President Vladimir Putin into stopping the conflict. — AFP

February 27, 2022

Germany has approved the deliveries of 400 anti-tank rocket launchers to Ukraine, a government source said Saturday, in a U-turn from its longstanding policy of banning weapon exports to conflict zones.

"Given the Russian attack on Ukraine, the government is prepared to release urgently needed material for the defence of Ukraine," the source says in a statement.

The anti-tank launchers will be delivered through the Netherlands, which had purchased the equipment from Germany but which had required Berlin's green light to transfer the weapons to Kyiv. — AFP

February 27, 2022

The Russian army has been given orders to broaden its offensive in Ukraine "from all directions" after Kyiv refused to hold talks in Belarus, the defence ministry says. 

Russian forces have made thrusts into the Ukrainian capital Kyiv before falling back to the outskirts, facing tough resistance  on day three of the invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

"After the Ukrainian side rejected the negotiation process, today all units were given orders to develop the advance from all directions in accordance with the operation's plans," Russian army spokesman Igor Konashenkov says in a statement. — AFP

February 26, 2022

Ukraine's health minister says that 198 civilians, including three children, have been killed so far by Russian forces attacking the pro-Western country. 

"Unfortunately, according to operative data, at the hands of the invaders we have 198 dead, including 3 children, 1,115 wounded, including 33 children," Health Minister Viktor Lyashko writes on Facebook. — AFP

February 26, 2022

After night assault, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky vows to defend Kyiv. — AFP

February 26, 2022

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls on soldiers in Russia's war on Ukraine to "return to their barracks".

"We must never give up. We must give peace another chance," he tells reporters after Moscow vetoed a UN resolution condemning its "aggression" in Ukraine. — AFP

February 25, 2022

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow was ready for talks with Kyiv if the Ukrainian army surrendered, as Russian invading forces advanced on the capital.

"We are ready for negotiations at any moment, as soon as the armed forces of Ukraine respond to our call and lay down their arms," Lavrov says at a press conference in Moscow. — AFP

February 25, 2022

Russian "sabotage groups" have entered Kyiv, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky warns.

In a video address to the nation after midnight, a sombre-looking Zelensky says "the enemy's sabotage groups have entered Kyiv" and urges residents to be vigilant and observe curfew rules. — AFP

February 25, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country was "left alone" to fight Russia after the Kremlin launched a large-scale invasion. 

"We have been left alone to defend our state," Zelensky says in a video address. "Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don't see anyone." —  AFP

February 24, 2022

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

The sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine must be guaranteed," Moon says, 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 adds, calling Moscow's military attack on Ukraine an "armed invasion".  — AFP

February 24, 2022

Russia's defence ministry says it had neutralized Ukrainian military airbases and its air defense systems, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military offensive against his country's neighbour.

"Military infrastructure at Ukrainian army air bases has been rendered out of action," the defence ministry says in a statement carried by news agencies, which added that Kyiv's air defence systems were "eliminated". — AFP

February 24, 2022

Germany says the EU, NATO and the G7 would work to hit Russia with severe sanctions after the Kremlin launched an air and ground assault on Ukraine.

"We will launch the full package with the most massive sanctions against Russia and we will strengthen our security and our allies," Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says.

"We have not chosen this situation," she adds, but "if we don't stand up to it now, we will pay an even higher price". -- AFP

February 24, 2022

Russia's ground forces on Thursday crossed into Ukraine from several directions, Ukraine's border guard service says, hours after President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a major offensive. 

Russian tanks and other heavy equipment crossed the frontier in several northern regions, as well as from the Kremlin-annexed peninsula of Crimea in the south, the agency says.

It says one of its servicemen died in a shelling attack along the Crimean border, the first officially confirmed military death of the Russian invasion. — AFP

February 24, 2022

The Ukrainian military claims on Thursday to have downed five Russian planes and a helicopter in the east of the country near a rebel-held enclave.

"According to the Joint Forces Command, today, February 24, in the area of the Joint Forces operation, five planes and a helicopter of the aggressors were shot down," the army general staff says. — AFP

February 24, 2022

US President Joe Biden says the "world will hold Russia accountable" over its attack on Ukraine that he warned will cause "catastrophic loss of life."

In a statement issued shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the start of military operations in Ukraine, Biden said he would address the US public on Thursday to outline the "consequences" for Russia, calling the attack "unprovoked and unjustified." — AFP

February 24, 2022

The United Nations Security Council will convene for its second emergency session in three days over the Ukraine-Russia crisis, "due to military developments" on the ground, diplomatic sources say.

The meeting, which was requested by Kyiv earlier Wednesday and backed by Western Security Council members, is scheduled for 9:30 pm (0230 GMT Thursday), the sources say. — AFP

February 24, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenksy says that Russia had massed nearly 200,000 troops on Ukraine's borders as a conflict between the two neighbors appeared increasingly likely.

On the Ukrainian border "nearly 200,000 soldiers are stationed, (as are) thousands of combat vehicles," Zelensky says in an address to the nation. — AFP

February 23, 2022

Japan says it will impose sanctions on Russia and individuals linked to Ukrainian regions controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists, after Moscow ordered troops into the rebel "republics".

The decision follows similar measures by the United States, Britain and the European Union.

Japan strongly condemns Russia's actions "that infringe on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, violating international law", Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tells reporters.

"From the viewpoint of responding to the issue in cooperation with the international community, Japan decided to impose sanctions." — AFP

February 23, 2022

Australia announces sanctions on eight of President Vladimir Putin's top security advisors on Wednesday following Russia's "unwarranted, unprovoked, unacceptable" invasion of Ukraine.

Pillorying Putin's decision to order troops into breakaway Kremlin-backed statelets in Ukraine's east, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces a suite of sanctions that closely echoed moves from other US allies.

Eight members of Russia's security council will face sanctions, including travel bans, and Australia will move to target military-linked Russian banks.

"They are behaving like thugs and bullies," Morrison says, predicting a full-scale invasion was likely "in the next 24 hours." — AFP

February 23, 2022

UN chief Antonio Guterres urges Russia to fully comply with the global body's charter, condemning Moscow's recognition of the "independence" of two breakaway Ukrainian regions.

"The principles of the UN Charter are not an a la carte menu.... Member States have accepted them all and they must apply them all," Guterres tells reporters.

The secretary-general calls Russia's recognition of "the so-called 'independence'" of two eastern Ukraine regions "a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine."

"It is a death blow to the Minsk Agreements endorsed by the Security Council," the UN chief adds, referring to a 2014 deal seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. — AFP

February 22, 2022

Ukraine demands severe sanctions against Russia on Tuesday as Western diplomats debate whether Moscow's decision to deploy troops to rebel-held eastern Ukraine is enough to trigger massive economic punishment.

In a statement issued during a visit to Washington, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he is working with Kyiv's Western friends "to impose tough sanctions against the Russian Federation." — AFP

February 22, 2022

Russian envoy to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya says Moscow remains "open to diplomacy" but stresses the need to defend separatist areas from what he dubbed Ukrainian aggession.

"We remain open to diplomacy for a diplomatic solution," he says during an emergency UN Security Council meeting. "However, allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbass is something we do not intend to do."

The emergency session followed Vladimir Putin's order for Russian troops to deploy to the breakaway regions, a move roundly decried during the meeting by the United States and allies. — AFP

February 22, 2022

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky demands "clear support" from the West after Russia recognised two eastern separatist regions and then ordered in troops to back up their independence claims.

In an address delivered after urgent consultations with world leaders, Zelensky says Ukraine is "not afraid of anything or anyone", calling the Kremlin's step "a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of the former Soviet state. — AFP

February 22, 2022

Ukraine requests an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to address the threat of a Russian invasion, citing security assurances it received in return for giving up its nuclear arsenal in 1994.

"On President (Volodymyr) Zelensky's initiative I officially requested UNSC member states to immediately hold consultations under article 6 of the Budapest memorandum," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweets.

The Security Council must address "practical steps to guarantee the security of Ukraine," he writes. — AFP

February 21, 2022

The Kremlin says it is too early to organise a summit between Russian leader Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, after Paris announced the possibility of a meeting to calm tensions over Ukraine.

"It's premature to talk about any specific plans for organising any kind of summits," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters, adding that no "concrete plans" had been put in place for a meeting. — AFP

February 21, 2022

US President Joe Biden has agreed in principle to a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin so long as Moscow does not invade Ukraine, the White House confirms Sunday after it was first announced by France.

The US is "committed to pursuing diplomacy until the moment an invasion begins," press secretary Jen Psaki says in a statement. "President Biden accepted in principle a meeting with President Putin ... if an invasion hasn't happened."

"We are also ready to impose swift and severe consequences should Russia instead choose war. And currently, Russia appears to be continuing preparations for a full-scale assault on Ukraine very soon," she adds. — AFP

February 21, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed to work for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, Macron's office says.

In a phone conversation lasting 105 minutes, they also agreed on "the need to favour a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis and to do everything to achieve one", the Elysee says, adding that French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov would meet "in the coming days".

Russian agencies later reported out of Moscow that both ministers would speak on Monday. — AFP

February 20, 2022

Western allies can't keep offering an olive branch while Russia continues to dial up tensions along the Ukrainian border, European Council President Charles Michel says Sunday.

"The big question remains: does the Kremlin want dialogue?" Michel asked at the Munich Security Conference. "We cannot forever offer an olive branch while Russia conducts missile tests and continues to amass troops," he adds. — AFP

February 20, 2022

Russia could launch an attack on Ukraine "at any time," the White House reaffirmed Saturday, as Western politicians gathered in Munich to discuss the crisis.

US Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was due to hold a rare Sunday National Security Council meeting over Russia-Ukraine tensions, having said on Friday he was "convinced" Moscow planned to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor within days.

Psaki said Biden was briefed on meetings at the Munich Security Conference, where Western representatives, including Vice President Kamala Harris, gathered to discuss the mounting tensions. — AFP

February 20, 2022

The EU is seeing stepped-up "manipulation" of information to support what looks like fabricated pretexts for military escalation in Ukraine, its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warns on Saturday.

"The EU is extremely concerned that staged events... could be used as a pretext for possible military escalation," Borrell says in a statement on behalf of the bloc.

"The EU is also witnessing an intensification of information manipulation efforts to support such objectives," he says. — AFP

February 19, 2022

A US defense official says more than 40% of the Russian forces on the Ukraine border are now in position for attack and Moscow has begun a campaign of destabilization/

The United States, which estimates that Russia has placed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine's borders, has observed significant movements since Wednesday, the official said, insisting on anonymity.

"Forty to fifty percent are in an attack position. They have uncoiled in tactical assembly in the last 48 hours," the official tells reporters. — AFP

February 19, 2022

President Joe Biden says he is "convinced" that Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine within the week, an event that would trigger Western sanctions set to turn Russia into what a US official called a "pariah."

"As of this moment I'm convinced he's made the decision," Biden says in televised remarks at the White House.

Biden says the attack could come in the next "week" or "days" and that targets would include the capital Kyiv, "a city of 2.8 million innocent people." — AFP

February 18, 2022

Russia is putting Europe's security at risk with demands that hark back to the Cold War, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says Friday, ahead of the annual Munich Security Conference set to be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.

"With an unprecedented deployment of troops on the border with Ukraine and Cold War demands, Russia is challenging fundamental principles of the European peace order," Baerbock says in a statement, urging Moscow to show "serious steps towards de-escalation". — AFP

February 17, 2022

A senior White House official says Russia has increased its presence on the border with Ukraine "by as many as 7,000 troops," some of whom arrived as recently as Wednesday, calling Moscow's announcement of a troop withdrawal "false."

The official also reiterates that Russia could launch a "false" pretext to invade Ukraine "at any moment," adding that while Russia has said it wants to reach a diplomatic solution, its actions indicate otherwise. — AFP

February 16, 2022

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin says Filipinos in Ukraine will come to no harm.

"I will be on top of it personally," Locsin says in a tweet.

The country's top diplomat says he will make calls to effect Filipinos' safe passage out of the Eastern European country. 

February 16, 2022

Any recognition by Russia of two eastern Ukrainian separatist regions would represent the equivalent of an attack on the country's sovereignty only without weapons, France says on Tuesday.

"It would be an impossible situation, representing an attack without weapons and dismantling of the unity and integrity of Ukraine," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after the Russian parliament asked President Vladimir Putin to recognise the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. "It would be an attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine," he tells the French parliament. — AFP

February 15, 2022

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later Tuesday, local media reported, as Tokyo expressed "grave concerns" about the risk of a Russian invasion.

Kishida said Tuesday that Japan was "watching the situation with grave concern."

"We'll continue to monitor the situation with high vigilance, while coordinating closely with G7 countries to deal with any developments appropriately," he said at a meeting between government ministers and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. — AFP

February 14, 2022

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky invites US President Joe Biden to visit Kyiv to show Washington's support in the face of a feared Russian invasion.

"I am convinced that your visit to Kyiv in the coming days... would be a powerful signal and help stabilise the situation," the presidency quotes Zelensky as telling Biden in a phone call earlier Sunday.

Washington made no mention of an invitation in its readout of the 50-minute call. — AFP

February 13, 2022

A call Saturday between US President Joe Biden and his Kremlin counterpart Vladimir Putin brought no major change in the standoff over Russian troops massing near Ukraine, a senior US official says.

The call was "professional and substantive and lasted a bit over an hour. There was no fundamental change in the dynamics unfolding now for several weeks," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells reporters. — AFP

February 8, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron says that he had managed to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin not to "escalate" the crisis around Ukraine, as the West warns Moscow could be planning an invasion.  

"I obtained that there will be no degradation nor escalation," Macron tells journalists as he arrived in Kyiv for talks with Ukraine's leader. — AFP

February 8, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron tells his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday that he hoped talks in Moscow could lead to an easing of tensions over Ukraine.

"This discussion can make a start in the direction in which we need to go, which is towards a de-escalation," Macron says at the start of the meeting in Moscow. 

He adds that he hopes to "avoid a war" and "build elements of confidence, stability and visibility for everyone". — AFP

February 7, 2022

France's President Emmanuel Macron discussed the Ukraine crisis with US counterpart Joe Biden on Sunday ahead of a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, both leaders' offices said.

The two leaders "discussed ongoing diplomatic and deterrence efforts in response to Russia's continued military build-up on Ukraine's borders, and affirmed their support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said in a statement.

The 40-minute phone call was part of coordination efforts, the French presidency said, before Macron travels to Moscow on Monday and on to Kyiv on Tuesday, where he is due to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. — AFP

February 6, 2022

Russia has stepped up preparations for an all-out invasion of Ukraine but it is not clear if Moscow has decided to take such a step, US officials have said citing intelligence assessments.

Russia has assembled 110,000 troops along the border with its pro-Western neighbor but US intelligence has not determined if President Vladimir Putin has actually decided to invade, according to the officials who in recent days briefed members of Congress and European allies.

The officials warned lawmakers that the assembled Russian force on the frontier is growing at a rate that would give Putin the force he needs for a full-scale invasion -- some 150,000 soldiers — by mid-February. — AFP

February 6, 2022

A Ukrainian flag wrapped around her shoulders, pensioner Iryna Gayeva had a simple message as she demonstrated in second city Kharkiv on Saturday, just 40 kilometres from the Russian border. 

"We do not want Russia," she told AFP, as she joined several thousand people for a "Unity March" called by nationalist groups. 

"I was born in Crimea. That's enough, they've already taken a homeland from me. I grew up here, I live here, my parents are from Russia but I don't want to see any occupiers," she said.

"This is my home, these are my rules." — AFP

February 3, 2022

Moscow denounces as "destructive" the deployment of several thousand US troops to eastern Europe amid ongoing fears that Russia might invade Ukraine.

"Not substantiated by anyone, destructive steps which increase military tension and reduce scope for political decisions," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko tells the Interfax news agency. — AFP

February 2, 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns on a trip to Kyiv on Tuesday that Russian forces massed on the border represented a "clear and present danger" to Ukraine.

"We see large numbers of troops massing, we see preparations for all kinds of operations that are consistent with an imminent military campaign," Johnson says at a press conference with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

"Our view is that time is urgent and this is something that needs to be addressed now." — AFP

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday secured Turkey's crucial backing for Ukraine's NATO aspirations after winning a US pledge for cluster munitions that could inflict massive damage on Russian forces on the battlefield.

Washington's decision to deliver the controversial weapons — banned across a large part of the world but not in Russia or Ukraine — dramatically ups the stakes in the war, which entered its 500th day Saturday.

Zelensky has been travelling across Europe trying to secure bigger and better weapons for his outmatched army, which has launched a long-awaited counteroffensive that is progressing less swiftly than Ukraine's allies had hoped. — AFP

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