Kharkiv, Ukraine
Rescuers carry the body of a victim on a stretcher outside the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Russia intensified its attack on Ukraine on Tuesday, day six of the military campaign, defying mounting global pressure that saw a war crimes probe opened against Moscow, sanctions smash its economy and FIFA ban it from the World Cup. Here are the latest updates:

Also read: Major recent developments

Biden says Putin now 'isolated from the world'

The world has "isolated" Vladimir Putin for sending Russian forces pouring into Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said Tuesday, vowing that devastating sanctions would "sap" Russia's economic strength and weaken its military.

"Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been," Biden told members of Congress in his first State of the Union address, adding "he has no idea what's coming" in terms of economic penalties and punishment.

The American president also took aim at Russian oligarchs and "corrupt leaders" who he said have bilked billions of dollars off Putin's regime, warning them "We're coming for your ill-begotten gains."

Biden brands Putin 'a Russian dictator'

US President Joe Biden branded his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a "dictator" during his State of the Union address Tuesday, one week after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

"A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world," Biden told Congress.

But "in the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security," he said.

Boeing suspends support for Russian airlines

American aviation giant Boeing on Tuesday announced it was suspending its support for Russian airlines and its operations in Moscow amid a growing backlash to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We have suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed our office in Kyiv," the Ukrainian capital, a Boeing spokesperson said.

"We are also suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines. As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region."

Hollywood star Sean Penn flees Ukraine on foot

Days after visiting the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to film scenes for his documentary on Russia's invasion, Hollywood actor-director Sean Penn found himself among thousands of refugees fleeing to Poland, joining the exodus on foot.

Penn, 61, posted a photo to his Twitter feed on Monday showing the movie star wearing a backpack and toting a piece of luggage on wheels as he trudged along the shoulder of a road beside a line of cars stretching into the distance.

"Myself & two colleagues walked miles to the Polish border after abandoning our car on the side of the road," Penn said in a caption tweeted with the picture. "Almost all the cars in this photo carry women & children only, most without any sign of luggage, and a car their only possession of value." The tweet did not explain why the Academy Award-winning actor and his companions were forced to abandon their vehicle.

Biden to ban Russian planes from US airspace: media

President Joe Biden will announce a ban on Russian aircraft from using US airspace during his State of the Union speech Tuesday, US media reported.

The sanction, reported by CNN and other media, will add the United States to Canada and a host of European nations closing airspace to Russian airliners and other aircraft in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Canada shuts ports to Russian-owned ships

Canada ratcheted up pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by shutting ports to Russian-owned ships and saying on Tuesday that holdings of all Russian oligarchs and companies in the country are under review.

Canada has announced a slew of measures to isolate Russia, including imposing sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin, closing Canadian airspace to Russian planes, banning oil imports and forbidding Canadian financial institutions from dealing with the Russian central bank, acting in tandem with other Western countries.

"Today, we are taking steps to close Canadian waters and ports to Russian-owned or registered ships," Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.

4 killed as missile hits Zhytomyr homes, says Ukraine

Four people were killed when homes in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr were hit on Tuesday by a Russian cruise missile apparently aimed at a nearby air base, Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, said on his Telegram channel.

He said the residential buildings near the base of the 95th Airborne Brigade in Zhytomyr, 120km west of the capital Kyiv, had been set on fire, “So far, four people have died. Including a child,” he said.

'Putin was wrong. We were ready': Biden

US President Joe Biden said Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated the powerful response his attack on Ukraine would illicit from Western nations as sanctions upended Russia’s economy.

“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked,” Biden said in prepared remarks released ahead of his annual State of the Union address.

“He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and Nato wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

World Bank preparing $3b emergency aid package for Ukraine

The World Bank announced Tuesday that it is preparing a $3 billion aid package for war-torn Ukraine, which will including at least $350 million in immediate funds.

The first tranche of the aid "will be submitted to the Board for approval this week, followed by $200 million in fast-disbursing support for health and education," World Bank President David Malpass said in a joint statement with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank in recent days had pledged to provide further support to Ukraine and have moved quickly to put that promise into motion.

The IMF, which has an ongoing $2.2 billion financing program with the country through June, will consider the country's latest request for emergency financing "as early as next week," the statement said.

Russia receives Venezuela's 'strong support'

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday assured Vladimir Putin of his "strong support" in a telephone call, according to a Kremlin statement.

In the call initiated by Caracas, the Venezuelan leader also condemned "destabilizing actions of the United States and Nato" and spoke out against a Western campaign of "lies and disinformation," it said.

Russia sees 'no desire' from Ukraine to find legitimate solution: ambassador

Russia sees "no desire on the part of Ukraine" to try to find a legitimate and balanced solution to the problems between the two countries, Gennady Gatilov, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told Lebanese television in an interview aired on Tuesday.

Gatilov said Russia "supports diplomacy based on respect for the positions of all countries and equality, but for now we don't see that", the Russian news agency RIA quoted him as saying in the interview.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held a first round of talks on Monday following Russia's invasion of its neighbour on Feb. 24, but made no substantial progress, merely agreeing to meet again. No date was set for a second round.

Nike makes online sales unavailable in Russia

Nike has made merchandise purchases on its website and app unavailable in Russia as it cannot guarantee delivery of goods to customers in the country, an update on the sportswear maker’s website showed on Tuesday.

This is the latest response by a US company to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, with Hollywood studios Disney, Warner Bros, and Sony Pictures Entertainment saying they would pause theatrical releases of upcoming films in Russia.

Apple says it halts all product sales in Russia

Apple said on Tuesday it has paused all product sales in Russia in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence," Apple said in a statement.

"We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region."

The company outlined a number of actions in response to the invasion, including stopping all exports into its sales channels in the country.

Apple Pay and other services have been limited, the company said.

The Russian state media, RT News and Sputnik News, are no longer available for download from the Apple Store outside Russia.

On Tuesday, users in Russia were still able to access Apple's online store but attempts to buy an iPhone showed that they were not available for delivery.

Putin bans cash exports from Russia in excess of $10,000

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree banning cash exports of foreign currency from Russia exceeding $10,000 (Dh36,700) in value with effect from March 2, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Harley-Davidson suspends Russia business, shipments

Harley-Davidson Inc said on Tuesday it had suspended its business and shipments of its bikes to Russia following that country’s invasion of Ukraine last week.

Many Western firms, including General Motors Co and Germany’s Daimler Truck Holding AG, have idled operations in Russia.

Shares for the motorcycle giant fell 3 per cent in afternoon trading, in line with Wall Street’s main indexes as the crisis in Ukraine escalates.

Harley did not respond to a request for additional details on the suspension or the size of its operations in Russia.

Top US Republican supports Biden action on Ukraine

US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the chamber's top Republican, said on Tuesday there is now broad support for President Joe Biden's policies on Ukraine after earlier concerns the White House was not moving fast enough to counter Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Visa, Mastercard block Russian banks after sanctions

US credit card giants Visa and Mastercard said they were blocking Russian banks from their payment networks following international sanctions in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"As a result of sanction orders, we have blocked multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network," Mastercard Chief Executive Michael Miebach said in a statement released Monday night.

"We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve."

Visa said on its website that it is "taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, and is prepared to comply with additional sanctions that may be implemented."

Russian tennis players still allowed to compete in ATP, WTA events

Russian and Belarusian tennis players will be allowed to continue competing in ATP and WTA tournaments and Grand Slam events, the sport's governing bodies said on Tuesday.

A statement from the ATP, WTA, ITF and the organisers of the four Grand Slam competitions said Russians and Belarusians will continue to be allowed to compete in professional events "for the time being", after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The ATP and WTA tournaments to be held in Moscow in October have though been suspended.

World's biggest shipping groups suspend Russian deliveries

The three biggest container shipping groups in the world announced Tuesday that they were suspending non-essential deliveries to Russia, adding to the country's economic isolation following a raft of sanctions by the West.

Danish shipping giant Maersk, Switzerland-based MSC and France's CMA CGM all announced that they would no longer take bookings for goods from Russia and were suspending most deliveries in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Citing the impact of sanctions, "bookings to and from Russia will be temporarily suspended, with exception of foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies", Maersk said in a statement.

MSC announced similar measures, saying it would "continue to accept and screen bookings for delivery of essential goods".

CMA CGM said its "utmost priorities remain to protect our employees and ensure as much as possible the continuity of your supply chain".

"In the interest of safety, the group has decided to suspend all bookings to and from Russia as of today and until further notice," it said in a statement posted on its website.

MSC recently became the biggest shipper in the world by capacity, followed closely by Maersk, according to data from intelligence provider Alphaliner, with both companies accounting for around 17 percent each of global container shipping.

MSC is the third biggest, with a share of 12.6 percent, according to Alphaliner.

Smaller competitors such as Singapore-headquartered Ocean Network Express and Germany's Hapag Lloyd have also announced an end to non-essential deliveries.

Container shipping companies carry the bulk of the world's manufactured goods, making them a vital part of the global trade system.

Russia's economy is reeling from the effect of successive waves of sanctions announced by Western countries, led by the United States and the European Union, targeting the country's banks, foreign reserves and oligarchs.

The aim of the sanctions is to "isolate Russia politically, financially and economically", Germany's finance minister Christian Lindner said Tuesday.

World Athletics bans Russian athletes from competition

Russian athletes were barred from all competitions by World Athletics on Tuesday over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a punishment the body's president said was "against the grain" but defendable.

"All athletes, support personnel and officials from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future, with immediate effect," World Athletics said in a statement.

"Upcoming events include the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22, which begin on Friday in Oman (4 March)."

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said it was the last resort for him in terms of punishments.

Ukraine advisor to interior ministry says Russia attacked TV tower in Kyiv

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A blast is seen in the TV tower in Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: Reuters

An apparent Russian airstrike hit Kyiv's main television tower in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Tuesday, knocking out some state broadcasting but leaving the structure intact.

After a blast sounded around the city and smoke was seen rising in the Babi Yar district, the interior ministry said equipment had been damaged and "channels won't work for a while".

Ukraine says 8 dead in Russian strike on Kharkiv housing block

Ukraine said on Tuesday eight people were killed in a Russian air strike on a residential building in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where an administrative building was earlier destroyed by Russian missiles.

"As a result of an air strike... eight people were killed and six injured in Kharkiv," Ukraine's emergency service said, adding that two people had been recovered alive from debris by rescue workers.

Italy moves Ukraine embassy to Lviv

Italy said on Tuesday it was moving its embassy in Ukraine from the capital Kyiv to the western city of Lviv, following similar decisions by other Western countries.

"Due to the deterioration of the security situation in Kyiv, and the consequent impossibility of guaranteeing full functionality, the Italian embassy in Kyiv is being transferred to Lviv," a foreign ministry statement said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had repeated his government's advice that Italians in Kyiv should leave the city and exercise "maximum caution".

Speaking before the foreign ministry statement, he said the embassy staff had moved to the ambassador's residence together with a group of Italians, including children.

"Eighty-seven people have gathered in the residence, of whom 72 are expected to leave today," Draghi said.

Diplomats walk out of UN meetings in protest

Scores of diplomats have walked out of two meetings at the United Nations in Geneva in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was beamed in for a video statement, as a protest against Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Lavrov spoke by video to the Conference on Disarmament and the Human Rights Council, which he had planned to attend before closure of airspace to Russian planes by several European countries prevented his travel to the Swiss city.

“What you have seen is strong support for Ukraine,” said Bonnie Jenkins, US Undersecretary of State for arms control and international Security, after the walkout from the disarmament meeting.

Shortly afterward, in a conference room two floors higher, scores of diplomats — including Ukraine’s ambassador in Geneva and the foreign ministers of Canada and Denmark —poured out of the Human Rights Council chamber. A spokesman for the council said about 100 people left the room.

Russia, Ukraine to hold second round of talks on March 2

The second round of Russia-Ukraine talks is planned for March 2, Russia's TASS news agency reported on Tuesday, quoting a source on the Russian side.

After the first round of negotiations which took place on Monday and produced no tangible results, the sides had said they would meet again in the coming days.

Russia warns Kyiv residents ahead of attacks on intel sites

Russian troops will carry out an attack on the infrastructure of Ukraine's security services in Kyiv and urged residents living nearby to leave, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

"We call on... Kyiv residents living near relay nodes to leave their homes," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Dutch to hand free rail tickets to Ukrainian refugees

Dutch rail tickets will be given to Ukrainians in The Netherlands for free from Tuesday, the national rail agency said, in a bid to help refugees fleeing Russia's attack.

"Our message to all the citizens of Ukraine who have to leave their homes and their country is simply: with immediate effect your passport or ID card is your train ticket (in) The Netherlands," said Marjan Rintel, Dutch Railways (NS) chief executive.

"We hope NS can play its part in contributing towards a better situation for fleeing Ukrainian families," Rintel said in a statement.

Austria, France, Germany and Poland have already taken similar measures.

Since 2017, Ukrainians can travel freely through the European Union using biometric passports, the Dutch refugee agency (COA) said.

Ukraine says Russian shelling kills 10 in Kharkiv

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Ukraine latest updates Image Credit: AFP/Twitter

Russian shelling on Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv killed at least 10 people and left many more injured on Tuesday, emergency services said.

The attack targeted the city's central square and the main administration building.

"At least 10 people were killed and more than 20 were injured," the regional emergency services said in a statement, adding that 10 people had been discovered alive under rubble as rescue workers cleared debris.

It added that stairwells and corridors of the main administration building on the central square were "completely destroyed".

Video released by the emergency services showed rescue workers in hard hats carrying an injured person from the building on a stretcher and the floors of the building strewn with bricks, with natural light pouring in from the wrecked roof.

Russia shells square in major Ukraine city

Russian shelling has pounded the main central square in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, and other civilian targets.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, a convoy 65 kilometres long of tanks and other vehicles threatened the capital, Kyiv, on the sixth day of the Russia attack on its neighbour.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of resorting to terror tactics to press Europe’s largest ground war in generations. In strategic Kharkiv, videos posted online showed explosions hitting the region’s Soviet-era administrative building and residential areas. A maternity ward moved to a shelter amid shelling.

Zelensky called the attack on Kharkiv’s main square “frank, undisguised terror,” blaming a Russian missile and calling it a war crime.

UN estimates one million people displaced inside Ukraine

An estimated one million people have been displaced inside Ukraine by the Russian attack, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday, in addition to hundreds of thousands who have fled elsewhere.

"There has been a lot of attention on those who flee to neighbouring countries, but it's important to remember that the largest number of people affected are located within Ukraine," Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR representative to Ukraine, told reporters in Stockholm.

"We still don't have reliable figures regarding the number of people displaced inside Ukraine, but we estimate that it has to be about one million people who have fled internally or who are currently on a train, a bus or in a car trying to get to safety," she added.

Over 660,000 fled Ukraine so far

UNHCR is currently working to step up assistance within the borders of the war-torn country.

"There is really an immeasurable humanitarian need," she said, citing the need to house or feed displaced people. At the same time in Geneva, the UNHCR announced that 660,000 people had already fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries and that figures were increasing "exponentially".

Zelensky says Russian shelling of Kharkiv a 'war crime'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday described Russian shelling of his country's second city as a war crime and said defending the capital from Moscow's army was a top priority.

"The strike against Kharkiv is a war crime. This is state terrorism on the part of Russia," Zelensky said in a video statement. On the sixth day of Russia's attack, "the defence of the capital today is the key priority for the state," he added.

SWIFT says it its examining which entities are subject to sanctions

The SWIFT global financial system said on Tuesday it was examining which entities would be subject to the latest sanctions imposed by world powers on Russia following its attack on Ukraine.

"We are aware of the joint statement by leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States that expresses their intention to implement new measures to restrict select Russian banks from accessing our financial messaging services," it said.

"We will always comply with applicable sanctions laws," it added in a statement posted on its website.

"We are engaging with these authorities to understand which entities will be subject to these new measures and will disconnect them once we receive legal instruction to do so."

Kremlin: Russia won't budge under sanctions pressure over Ukraine

Western sanctions will never make Russia change its position on Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that while direct negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv had begun, there were no plans for talks between the two countries' presidents.

Peskov dismissed allegations of Russian strikes on civilian targets and the use of cluster bombs and vacuum bombs as fakes.

He declined to give an assessment of the military situation on the ground on the sixth day of Russia's attack of Ukraine, which the Kremlin describes as special operation to demilitarise and "denazify" the country.

Peskov declined to comment on whether the Kremlin considers the capital Kyiv to be under the control of Nazis, referring the question to the Russian military.

Kharkiv, Ukraine
A view shows the area near the regional administration building, which city officials said was hit by a missile attack, in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Indian student killed in Kharkiv shelling

An Indian student was killed in Ukraine's Kharkiv on Tuesday morning in shelling as the war between Russia and Ukraine reached big cities' streets.

India's Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "With profound sorrow we confirm that an Indian student lost his life in shelling in Kharkiv this morning. The Ministry is in touch with his family."

He also said: "We convey our deepest condolences to the family."

The student, identified as Naveen Shekharappa Gyanagoudar, hailed from Chalageri in Karnataka's Haveri district. According to reports, Naveen was heading towards railway station from his apartment, but was unfortunately killed in a missile strike. He was a student of Kharkiv National Medical University.

India's foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla is calling in Ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to reiterate India's demand for urgent safe passage for the Indian nationals who are still in Kharkiv and cities in other conflict zones.

"Similar action is also being undertaken by our Ambassadors in Russia and Ukraine," Bagchi said.

East Ukraine city Mariupol loses power after Russian attacks

The key south eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea has been left without electricity following attacks from advancing Russian forces, the head of the region Pavlo Kyrylenko said Tuesday.

"Mariupol and Volnovakha are ours!" Kyrylenko wrote on Facebook. "The two cities are under pressure from the enemy but they are holding on. In Mariupol, electricity lines have been cut and the city is without power."

Ukraine seeks safe zone as Russia nears biggest nuclear plant

The head of Ukraine's nuclear-power utility called on international monitors to intervene to ensure the safety of the country's 15 atomic reactors as an advancing Russian attack nears Europe's largest nuclear plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency will convene an emergency session on Wednesday in Vienna to assess the situation. The watchdog has been warning for days that the war threatens to trigger a wider tragedy by damaging nuclear power infrastructure.

"I continue to follow developments in Ukraine very closely and with grave concern, especially the conflict's potential impact on the safety and security of the country's nuclear facilities," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said late Monday in a statement. "It is extremely important that the nuclear power plants are not put at risk in any way. An accident involving the nuclear facilities in Ukraine could have severe consequences for public health and the environment."

The chief of Ukraine's Energoatom utility, Petro Kotin, asked Grossi earlier in the day to erect a 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) safe zone around the country's four nuclear power plants. Russian columns of military equipment, artillery, and rocket launchers are regularly moving in the immediate vicinity of the plants, Energoatom said in a statement.

Russian forces are close to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant - Europe's largest with six reactors - but have not breached the entrance, according to the IAEA statement. Of greater immediate concern is the absence of replacement personnel to operate the reactors, according to the agency, which reported a shift supervisor at one site hasn't been relieved since February 24.

Ukraine is Europe's second-biggest generator of nuclear power after France. Energoatom, the utility which runs its reactors, has continued to operate its four plants housing 15 reactors even as Russia's military incursion unfolded. Atomic energy generates about half the country's power.

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Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News | Graphic News

Britain rejects calls for Ukraine no-fly zone

Britain's deputy prime minister again rejected calls for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying it would risk widening the war by putting the alliance in direct conflict with Russian forces.

Dominic Raab told Sky News on Tuesday that Britain instead is pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course by working with other countries to ratchet up sanctions and investigate war crimes during the conflict.

"We're not going to (impose a no-fly zone) because it would put us in a position where we would have to enforce it by, in effect, shooting down Russian planes," Raab said in an interview with Sky.

The comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked NATO to impose a complete no-fly zone for Russian airplanes, helicopters and missiles.

The UK Ministry of Defense on Tuesday said Russia had failed to gain control of the skies over Ukraine, forcing it to shift to night operations to reduce its losses.

Russian forces have "made little progress" in their advance on the capital, Kyiv, over the past 24 hours probably because of logistical difficulties, the ministry said.

Central square of Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, shelled

The central square of Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, was shelled on Tuesday by advancing Russian forces who hit the building of the local administration, regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said.

"This morning the central square of our city and the headquarters of the Kharkiv administration was criminally attacked," Sinegubov said in a video on Telegram.

"Russian occupiers continue to use heavy weaponry against the civilian population," he said, adding that the number of victims was not yet known.

He posted footage of the massive blast and debris inside the building.

Kharkiv, a largely Russian-speaking city near the Russian border, has a population of around 1.4 million.

The square outside the headquarters of the Kharkiv administration in Kharkiv after it was shelled on March 1, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

'Leave Kyiv urgently', advises Indian embassy in Ukraine

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Tuesday advised its nationals to leave the capital city Kyiv "urgently today" amid the deteriorating security situation due to the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

"Advisory to Indians in Kyiv: All Indian nationals including students are advised to leave Kyiv urgently today. Preferably by available trains or through any other means available," the Indian embassy in Ukraine tweeted.

The Union government has launched Operation Ganga to bring back stranded students and Indian citizens from conflict-torn Ukraine.

About 8000 Indian nationals have left since the initial advisories were issued by the country, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

Putin retaliates as sanctions for attack swell

Russia banned its residents from transferring hard currency abroad, as President Vladimir Putin sought countermeasures against countries imposing sanctions over the attack of Ukraine.

The drumbeat of penalties against Russia continued, as the European Union approved sanctions on some of Russia's wealthiest tycoons, and Britain told ports not to service Russian-flagged vessels.

UK intelligence indicates Russian advance on Kyiv has made little progress

Russia's advance on Kyiv has made little progress in the past 24 hours due to logistical difficulties and the army has increased its use of artillery north of the capital, a British military intelligence update said.

"The Russian advance on Kyiv has made little progress over the past 24 hours probably as a result of continuing logistical difficulties," the British defence ministry said in a military intelligence update.

"Russian forces have increased their use of artillery north of Kyiv and in vicinities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv. The use of heavy artillery in densely populated urban areas greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties." "Russia has failed to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine prompting a shift to night operations in an attempt to reduce their losses," it said.

A member of the Ukrainian territorial defense directs cars in a traffic jam ahead of a military checkpoint outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Fears of medical shortages and disease in Ukraine

Ukraine is running low on critical medical supplies and has had to halt urgent efforts to curb a polio outbreak since Russia attacked the country, public health experts say.

Medical needs are already acute, with the World Health Organization warning on Sunday that oxygen supplies were running out.

Fears of a wider public health crisis are growing as people flee their homes, health services are interrupted and supplies fail to reach Ukraine, which has also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said on Monday routine immunisation and outbreak control efforts for polio had been suspended in Ukraine because of the fighting.

The WHO said electricity shortages in some areas had affected the safety of vaccine stock, and surveillance had been disrupted.

"WHO is working to urgently develop contingency plans to support Ukraine and prevent further spread of polio caused by the conflict," said Jasarevic.

WHO has received reports that coronavirus vaccination campaigns have also been put on hold in many parts of the country, he said.

Displaced Ukrainians on the Orlivka - Isaccea ferry line cross the Danube River en route to the Isaccea Border Crossing in Isaccea, Romania. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Russian army on outskirts of Ukrainian city of Kherson

The Russian army on Tuesday reached the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, near Moscow-controlled Crimea, and is setting up checkpoints on its outskirts, the city's mayor said.

"The Russian army is setting up checkpoints at the entrances of Kherson," mayor Igor Kolykhayev said on Facebook. "Kherson has been and will stay Ukrainian," he said.

Videos on local media in Kherson showed the Russian army entering the city.

"Today, I am responsible for the life of our city and provide protection in the way that our capabilities allow," Kholykhayev said.

He asked people not to leave their homes outside curfew hours.

"The greatest value this city has is your lives. This is not a fight, this is a war," he said.

Kherson has a population of around 280,000 and lies north of the Crimea peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

This satellite image shows part of a military convoy in southern Ivankiv, Ukraine.
This satellite image shows part of a military convoy in southern Ivankiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: MAXAR/via AFP

China starts evacuating citizens from Ukraine

China has started evacuating its citizens from Ukraine, state media reported Tuesday, amid fears for their safety due to the military campaign by Beijing's ally Russia but also reports of resulting hostility from angry Ukrainians.

Some 600 Chinese students were evacuated Monday from Kyiv and the southern port city of Odessa, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported, citing the Chinese embassy in the Ukrainian capital.

They travelled by bus to neighbouring Moldova under an embassy escort and local police protection, according to the report, which cited an evacuee as saying the six-hour journey was "safe and smooth".

A further 1,000 Chinese nationals will leave Ukraine on Tuesday bound for Poland and Slovakia, both European Union member states, the report added.

China has trod a cautious diplomatic tightrope on the conflict, balancing its oft-repeated insistence on the sanctity of state sovereignty with an unwillingness to call out its close ally Russia.

Russian artillery kills 70 Ukraine soldiers

More than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, the head of the region wrote on Telegram.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy posted photographs of the charred shell of a four-story building and rescuers searching rubble. In a later Facebook post, he said many Russian soldiers and some local residents also were killed during the fighting on Sunday. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

People remove debris at the site of a military base building that, according to the Ukrainian ground forces, was destroyed by an air strike, in the town of Okhtyrka in the Sumy region, Ukraine February 28, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Vast Russian army convoy spotted north of Kyiv

A huge Russian military convoy stretching some 64km, substantially longer than the 27 kilometres reported earlier in the day, was spotted Monday by a US satellite imaging company just north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which has already repulsed several assaults.

Satellite photos provided by Maxar, a US company, showed that the convoy - which had been massing since Sunday - had mushroomed to more than 64km of military vehicles.

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A satellite image shows northern end of convoy logistics and resupply vehicles, southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine, February 28, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

It said the column covered the entire stretch of road from near Antonov airport, some 29km from the capital, to the town of Prybirsk - a distance of approximately 64km.

Maxar said that "along parts of the route, some vehicles are spaced fairly far apart while in other sections military equipment and units are traveling two or three vehicles abreast on the road."

"A number of homes and buildings are seen burning north and northwest of Ivankiv, near the roads where the convoy is traveling," it added.

Maxar said its satellites had also captured images of "additional ground forces deployments and ground attack helicopter units" in southern Belarus, less than 32km north of the border with Ukraine.

This satellite image shows ground forces field deployments and a convoy in Khilchikha, Belarus, north of the border with Ukraine.
This satellite image shows ground forces field deployments and a convoy in Khilchikha, Belarus, north of the border with Ukraine. Image Credit: MAXAR/via AFP

Disney pausing film releases in Russia over Ukraine attack

The Walt Disney Co said Monday it is pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Pixar Animation Studios release, "Turning Red," citing the "unprovoked attack of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis."

Disney is believed to be the first major Hollywood studio to pause theatrical releases in Russia in response to its attack of Ukraine.

"We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation" Disney said in a statement. "In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance."

An ambulance is seen through the damaged window of a vehicle hit by bullets, as Russia's attack of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 28, 2022.
An ambulance is seen through the damaged window of a vehicle hit by bullets, as Russia's attack of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 28, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Russia, Belarus suspended by World Rugby

Russia and Belarus were Tuesday suspended from all international rugby "until further notice", the world governing body said, as it announced "full and immediate" sanctions following the attack of Ukraine.

Russia's membership of World Rugby was also suspended indefinitely, meaning the country's slim hopes of qualifying for next year's Rugby World Cup in France are over.