Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks
Ukrainian servicemen ride on tanks towards the front line with Russian forces in the Lugansk region of Ukraine on February 25, 2022. Image Credit: AFP


Russian missiles and shelling rained down on Ukrainian cities on Thursday after President Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale military operation, forcing civilians to shelter on metro systems, with 100,000 people displaced. Here are the latest updates:


Here's what we know about how Russia's attack on Ukraine unfolded

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Day 1

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Day 3

Ukraine repels Russian attacks in Kyiv

Ukraine’s army said Saturday it had repelled a Russian attack on one of capital city Kyiv’s main avenues.

Russia “attacked one of the military units on Victory Avenue in Kyiv. The attack was repulsed,” Ukraine’s army said on its verified Facebook page, without specifying where exactly the incident took place.

Russian troops also attacked an army base in Kyiv but the assault was repelled, the Ukrainian military said in another Facebook posting.

Separately, the Interfax Ukraine agency said Russian soldiers were trying to capture one of the city’s electricity generating stations.

UN chief urges Russian soldiers to 'return to barracks'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on soldiers in Russia's war on Ukraine to "return to their barracks" Friday.

"We must never give up. We must give peace another chance," he told reporters after Moscow vetoed a UN resolution condemning its "aggression" in Ukraine.

Ukraine's president says Russia will try to 'storm' Kyiv overnight

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday before dawn that Russian troops would attempt to take the capital city Kyiv during the night.

"Special attention on Kyiv - we cannot lose the capital," Zelensky said in a video address released by the presidency. "Tonight they will attempt a storm" of the capital, he added in an apparent reference to Kyiv.

Fitch cuts Ukraine's debt rating

Fitch on Friday cut the rating on Ukraine's government debt to "CCC" from "B" following the Russian attack on the country which it said creates a "severe negative shock."

The attack "has resulted in heightened risks to Ukraine's external and public finances, macro-financial stability and political stability," Fitch said, noting the "high uncertainty" about the length of the conflict.

Ukraine requests emergency IMF funding

Ukraine has requested additional aid from the IMF following the Russian attack, the fund's leader Kristalina Georgieva said Friday.

The crisis lender has an existing $2.2 billion aid program with Kyiv and "the authorities have also requested IMF emergency financing," Georgieva said in a statement.

The fund's board met to discuss the situation in the country and the IMF chief pledged to continue "to support Ukraine in every way we can."

The existing loan program was due to end in June, but Georgieva said the institution "has a number of instruments in its toolkit" to provide aid.

Canada sanctions Putin, supports barring Russia from SWIFT

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday sanctions against Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over its attack on Ukraine, and expressed support for barring Russia from SWIFT.

"We will be imposing sanctions on President Putin and his fellow architects of this barbaric war, his chief of staff and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov," Trudeau told a news conference.

"These men bear the greatest responsibility for the death and destruction occurring in Ukraine."

Trudeau also expressed "Canada's support to remove Russia from the SWIFT payment system, a critical part of the global banking system."

And he said Belarus too would be sanctioned "for abetting President Putin's invasion of a free and sovereign nation."

Putin sanctions reflect 'absolute impotence' of West: Russia

The imposition of sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reflect the West's "absolute impotence" when it comes to foreign policy, RIA news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying on Friday.

Maria Zakharova spoke before US President Joe Biden announced sanctions against the two men. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier announced similar punitive measures.

US to impose sanctions on Putin, Lavrov

The White House on Friday said the United States would impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Washington looks to ramp up pressure on Moscow following Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The rare but not unprecedented US move to impose sanctions on a head of state would come just a day after Russian forces attacked Ukraine, assaulting by land, sea and air in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the decision to target Putin, Lavrov and other officials was made after US President Joe Biden had a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

US dismisses Russia's offer of Ukraine talks

The United States on Friday dismissed Russia's offer of talks with Ukraine, and called on Moscow to show its commitment to diplomacy by withdrawing troops from the country.

After attacking Ukraine, "now we see Moscow suggesting diplomacy take place at the barrel of a gun. This is not real diplomacy," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The Kremlin said earlier Friday that President Vladimir Putin was ready to send a delegation to the Belarus capital Minsk for talks with Ukraine, as Russian forces approached Kyiv on the second day of Moscow's attack.

UK freezes Putin, Lavrov assets

The UK government on Friday ordered all assets of President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov frozen over Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The Treasury issued a financial sanctions notice against the two men, adding them to a list of Russian oligarchs who have already had their property and bank accounts in the UK frozen.

UN Security Council vote delayed

A UN Security Council vote on a draft resolution that would condemn Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has been delayed by one hour until 4pm EST on Friday (1am Saturday UAE), diplomats said.

It was not immediately clear why the vote had been delayed.

Diplomats said on Thursday it appeared at least 11 of the 15 member council would vote in favor, while it was unclear how China, India and the United Arab Emirates would vote. Russia is expected to veto the measure.

Cyber criminals seek to take advantage of Ukraine chaos

Cybersecurity firm Avast Plc on Friday warned of cyber criminals seeking to take advantage of the chaos surrounding Russia’s attack on Ukraine to make quick money, terming it a threat.

“We have tracked in the last 48 hours a number of scammers who are tricking people out of money by pretending they are Ukrainians in desperate need of financial help,” the company said in a mail to Reuters.

The London-listed company also said it was halting its services in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which it described as “newly embargoed territories.” Avast said it was suspending its services to current users and withdrawing their availability to new users in the two territories.

Greek embassy staff to leave Kyiv

Greece's embassy staff and its ambassador in Kyiv are leaving the city, the country's foreign ministry said on Friday, but consulates in Mariupol and Odessa will remain open.

The ministry said it approved the ambassador's request as safety in the city had rapidly deteriorated. Embassy staff and Greek citizens who wish to leave the city will depart by road.

Russian missiles pounded Kyiv and families cowered in shelters as fighting reached the city's outskirts. Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian military to seize power and make peace.

NATO to continue sending weapons to Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday the alliance was deploying parts of its combat-ready response force and would continue to send weapons to Ukraine, including air defences, while saying that Russia was trying to topple the Ukrainian government.

"We see rhetoric, the messages, which is strongly indicating that the aim is to remove the democratically elected government in Kyiv," he told a news conference following a virtual meeting of NATO leaders.

Some of the 30 NATO allies announced the type of weapons that they would supply Ukraine, including air defences, he said, without giving details. "Allies are very committed to continue to provide support," he said.

Russia limits Facebook access

Russia said on Friday it was partially limiting access to Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, accusing it of “censoring” Russian media, the latest in a series of steps against US social media giants and announced a day after Russia attacked Ukraine.

Moscow has been trying to exert tighter control over the internet and big tech for years, something critics say threatens individual and corporate freedom, and is part of a wider crackdown against outspoken opponents of the Kremlin.

The state communications regulator said Facebook had ignored its demands to lift restrictions on four Russian media outlets on its platform - RIA news agency, the Defence Ministry’s Zvezda TV, and websites and

Meta’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said in a statement on Twitter: “Yesterday, Russian authorities ordered us to stop the independent fact-checking and labeling of content posted to Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organizations. We refused. As a result, they have announced they will be restricting the use of our services.”

Zelensky says discussed military aid, sanctions with Biden

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday he had spoken with US President Joe Biden about military aid and sanctions, as his country faces down a Russian attack.

"Strengthening sanctions, concrete defence assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed" with Biden, Zelensky wrote on Twitter, adding that Ukraine was "grateful" for "strong" American support.

'We are all here,' Zelensky says in video

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released a self-shot video from central Kyiv on Friday vowing alongside key aides to stay and defend the capital against the Russian invasion of his country.

"We're all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We're all here defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way," Zelensky said standing outside the presidency building.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine Image Credit: WAM

European Union freezes assets of Putin, Lavrov

Latvia’s foreign minister says the European Union has agreed to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov along with other sanctions over the attack of Ukraine.

The move indicates that Western powers are moving toward unprecedented measures to force Putin to stop the attack on Russia’s neighbour.

Foreign Minister Edgard Rinkevics announced the EU decision Friday in a tweet. He said another package of sanctions is to be prepared by the EU.

Russian forces open new route of advance towards Kyiv

Britain said on Friday that Russian armoured forces had opened a new route of advance towards Kyiv, and that the bulk of troops remained more than 50km from the centre of the city.

"Russian armoured forces have opened a new route of advance towards Kyiv having failed to capture Chernihiv," The Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update. "The bulk of Russian forces advancing on Kyiv remain more than 50km from the centre of the city."

Guards fire shots as Ukrainians try to cram onto evacuation trains

Ukrainian guards fired warning shots to prevent a stampede at Kyiv's central railway station on Friday as thousands of people tried to force their way onto evacuation trains.

Crowds were so large that not everyone could get on the trains from the capital to the western city of Lviv as fears of a Russian assault on Kyiv mounted.

When a train drew up at a platform, people rushed to the doors, hoping to get on board, some of them with their children and pets. The guards fired several shots with blanks to disperse the crowd after screams broke out.

Russia claims it controls airport near Kyiv

The Russian military claims it has taken control of an airport just outside Kyiv, as Kremlin forces bear down on the Ukrainian capital.

The claim could not be independently verified.

Taking possession of the airport in Hostomel, which has a long runway allowing the landing of heavy-lift transport planes, would mean Russia can airlift troops directly to Kyiv's outskirts.

Hostomel is just 7 kilometers northwest of the city.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday that the Russian airborne forces used 200 helicopters to land in Hostomel and killed over 200 troops belonging to Ukraine's special forces.

Konashenkov claimed that Russian troops suffered no casualties. That contradicts Ukrainian claims that Russian troops sustained heavy casualties in the fighting there.

Firefighters inspect the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, February 25, 2022.
Firefighters inspect the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, February 25, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Ukraine soldiers battle Russian troops in Kyiv

Ukrainian forces fought off Russian troops in the streets of the capital Kyiv on Friday as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of targeting civilians and called for more international sanctions.

Pre-dawn blasts in Kyiv set off a second day of violence after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings to unleash a full-scale attack on Thursday that quickly claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.

The United States and its allies responded with a barrage of sanctions, but the Russian forces looked to press home their advantage after a string of key strategic victories in their air and ground assault.

As Russian forces closed in on the city, Zelensky called on Europeans with "combat experience" to take arms and defend Ukraine, saying the West was too slow to help his country.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow wanted to "free Ukraine from oppression" and denied there had been any strikes on civilian targets.

He said Moscow was ready to talk if Ukraine's armed forces "lay down their arms", adding that "nobody intends to occupy Ukraine".

EU to freeze assets of Putin, Lavrov

EU diplomats approved a plan to sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over the attack of Ukraine, a largely symbolic step that would freeze their overseas assets, according to two senior officials.

The asset freeze, which would come in addition to a broader package of sanctions that the EU approved early Friday, doesn’t affect the ability of Putin or Lavrov to travel, the officials said, as the EU seeks to keep diplomatic avenues open. Officially, Putin has very few assets, making his wealth something of a mystery.

Moscow may agree to talks

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is reportedly open to sending a delegation to Minsk for talks with Ukraine. Earlier, China’s leader Xi Jinping told Putin that Moscow’s should negotiate with the government in Kyiv. Moscow-led forces continued attacks on military and civilian targets on the second day of their attack after the US and its allies imposed new sanctions on Moscow and US President Joe Biden warned of “a dangerous moment for all of Europe.”

Missiles hit Kyiv as Ukraine capital girds for Russian assault

Missiles pounded Kyiv on Friday and families cowered in bomb shelters as Russian forces pressed their advance and authorities said they were girding for an assault aimed at overthrowing the government.

Air raid sirens wailed over the capital of three million people, where some residents sheltered in underground metro stations, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack that has shocked the world.

Ukrainian officials said a Russian aircraft had been shot down and crashed into a building in Kyiv overnight, setting it ablaze and injuring eight people.

A senior Ukrainian official said Russian forces would enter areas just outside the capital later on Friday and that Ukrainian troops were defending positions on four fronts despite being outnumbered.

The Kyiv city council warned residents of the city's Obolon district, near Hostomel, to stay indoors because of "the approach of active hostilities".

Russia ready to talk if Ukraine army 'lays down arms': Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Moscow was ready for talks with Kyiv if the Ukrainian army surrendered, as Russian 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 said at a press conference in Moscow.

Russian forces approaching Kyiv: Ukraine army

Russian forces are approaching Kyiv from the north and northeast, Ukraine's army said on Friday, with rising fears the capital could fall on the second day of Moscow's offensive.

The soldiers are trying to "bypass" the northern city of Chernigiv - where they were "rebuffed" - to attack Kyiv, the Ukrainian army said on Facebook.

They were also advancing on Kyiv from the eastern city of Konotop, which is under Russian control, Kyiv's army said.

The Ukrainian army earlier said Russian ground forces had been pushing down the west bank of the Dnieper River from Belarus.

It said Russian soldiers were "increasingly choosing to target civilian infrastructure and residential buildings", echoing President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Firefighters work on a fire on a building after bombings on the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv.
Image Credit: AFP

Russian missiles rain down on Ukrainian cities
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Graphic News

Russia has prepared retaliatory sanctions

Moscow has prepared a package of retaliatory sanctions and knows the West's weaknesses, Russia's TASS news agency quoted upper house speaker Valentina Matvienko as saying on Friday.

Matvienko is a member of Russia's security council and took part in its meeting this week where senior Russian officials spoke in favour of recognising separatist statelets in eastern Ukraine, ahead of Russia's full-scale attack of its neighbour.

Loud blasts heard in east Ukrainian city of Kharkiv

Loud blasts were heard in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Friday, a witness told Reuters, as missile strikes and air raid alerts were reported in a number of cities in Ukraine.

Nuclear agency finds Chernobyl radiation rise

Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulatory agency says that higher than usual gamma radiation levels have been detected in the area near the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, after it was seized by the Russian military.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said on Friday that higher gamma radiation levels have been detected in the Chernobyl zone, but didn’t provide details of the increase.

It attributed the rise to a “disturbance of the topsoil due to the movement of a large amount of heavy military equipment through the exclusion zone and the release of contaminated radioactive dust into the air.”

Russia closes its airspace to British airlines

Russia has banned British airlines from landing at its airports or crossing its airspace, its state civil aviation regulator said on Friday. The move follows London's ban on the flights of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot imposed in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine.

3 injured after rocket hits apartment in Kyiv

Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko said at least three people were injured when a rocket hit a multi-story apartment building in Ukraine's capital on Friday, starting a fire.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the Russian military's claim it is not targeting civilian areas is "a lie." He said that military and civilian areas in Ukraine are both being hit by Russian attacks.

Czechs close general consulate in Lviv

The Czech Republic has closed its general consulate in Lviv in western Ukraine for security reasons, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said on Friday. The country had earlier closed its embassy in Kyiv.

Russia to deploy paratroopers to guard Chernobyl site

Russia will deploy paratroopers to help guard the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Ukraine's capital Kyiv, a spokesman for Russia's defence ministry said on Friday. Radiation levels at the plant are normal, the spokesman told a briefing.

Clashes in northern district of Kyiv city

Explosions and gunfire erupted in a northern district of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Friday, an AFP reporter on the ground heard, as Russian forces closed in.

Pedestrians ran for safety and small arms fire was heard in the Obolonsky area, and larger blasts could be heard as far away as the city centre.

British Airways avoiding Russian airspace, IAG CEO says

British Airways owner IAG is now avoiding Russian airspace for overflights and cancelled its flight to Moscow on Friday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned Russia's flagship airline Aeroflot from Britain, CEO Luis Gallego said.

Britain has prohibited all scheduled Russian airlines from entering British airspace.

"Following the UK government decision to ban Aeroflot from landing in the UK, we have taken the decision not use Russian airspace for overflights," Gallego said. "We are avoiding Russian airspace for the time being." "The impact for us is not huge because right now we are only flying to a small number of destinations in Asia and we can reroute our flights."

Russia attacks Ukraine
A room of a damaged residential building is seen, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine February 25, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Ukrainian military battles Russian forces

The Ukrainian military is reporting significant fighting northwest of the nation's capital as Russian forces apparently try to advance on Kyiv from the north.

The military said on Friday morning a bridge across a river had been destroyed in the area of Ivankiv, about 60 kilometres northwest of Kyiv.

"The hardest day will be today. The enemy's plan is to break through with tank columns from the side of Ivankiv and Chernihiv to Kyiv. Russian tanks burn perfectly when hit by our ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles),'' Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on Telegram.

Zelensky says Russian actions show sanctions not enough

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that continued Russian aggression against his country showed that sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West were not enough.

Zelensky said the world was continuing to observe what was going on in Ukraine after its capital Kyiv and other parts of the country were struck by Russian missiles in the early hours of Friday.

"To all the citizens of the Russian Federation who went out to protest, I want to say: we see you. This means you heard us.

This means you are starting to believe us. Fight for us, fight against the war." Hundreds were detained across Russian cities on Thursday after taking part in protests after Moscow launched a massive military operation against Ukraine.

A senior Ukrainian official said Russian forces would enter areas just outside Kyiv later on Friday.

ICC says may investigate possible war crimes after Russian attack on Ukraine

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday expressed his concern over the Russian attack of Ukraine and said his court may investigate possible war crimes in the country.

"I have been closely following recent developments in and around Ukraine with increasing concern," Khan said in a statement.

"I remind all sides conducting hostilities on the territory of Ukraine that my office may exercise its jurisdiction and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within Ukraine."

Following the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the subsequent fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces, Ukraine accepted ICC jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on its territory since February 2014.

Russian forces press deep into Ukraine

Russian forces pressed deep into Ukraine as deadly battles reached the outskirts of Kyiv, with explosions heard in the capital early Friday that the besieged government described as "horrific rocket strikes".

The blasts in Kyiv set off a second day of violence after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings to unleash a full-scale ground attack and air assault that quickly claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.

The United States and its allies responded with a barrage of sanctions, but the Russian forces appeared intent Friday on pressing home their advantage after a string of key strategic victories on day one.

Ukrainian refugees camp out at Polish train station

Ukrainians fleeing their home country cross over into neighbouring Poland, mostly by car. Fears are mounting over a possible refugee crisis in the region in the wake of the Russian attack.

Sirens go off in Lviv city in western Ukraine

Sirens rang out in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv early on Friday, a Reuters witness said. Russia launched a full-scale attack of Ukraine on Thursday and Kyiv has reported dozens of casualties and hundreds of wounded. The capital Kyiv came under attack on Friday morning, while a missile hit the airport in the city of Rivne in western Ukraine, its mayor said.

Ukraine FM slams 'horrific' Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba slammed the "horrific rocket strikes" that shook capital Kyiv in the early hours of Friday morning.

"Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv," Kuleba said on Twitter. "Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany".

UN gives $20 million to scale up Ukraine humanitarian aid

The United Nations has announced it is immediately allocating $20 million to scale up UN humanitarian operations in Ukraine following Russia's attack.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the announcement saying the UN and its humanitarian partners “are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need ... regardless of who or where they are.''

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the $20 million from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund will support emergency operations along the contact line in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk and in other areas of the country, and will “help with health care, shelter, food, and water and sanitation to the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict.''

David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, expressed deep concern at the potential impact of the conflict on access to food for civilians in conflict areas.

Ukraine central bank bans payments to Russia, Belarus

Ukraine's central bank has banned payments to entities in Russia and Belarus as well as operations involving both nations' currencies, the regulator said on Friday, a day after Russia launched a full-scale attack.

SWIFT Twist?

An exclusion from SWIFT, a very discreet but important cog in the machinery of international finance, is one of the most disruptive of the possible sanctions that the West could deploy against Russia for its attack on Ukraine.

SWIFT international payments
Image Credit: AFP/Twitter

Missile strike hits border post in southeast Ukraine

A missile strike hit a Ukrainian border post in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding some guards, the border guard service said on Friday.

The region has no land border with Russia, which launched a military operation against Ukraine on Thursday, but is located on the coast of the Azov Sea which the neighbours share.

France 'accelerating' troop deployment to Romania

France was speeding up its deployment of troops to bolster NATO's eastern flank in Romania after Russia's attack of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.

Talking after an emergency summit with European Union leaders, Macron said he was "accelerating" the dispatch of forces. It is part of a broader push by NATO allies to reinforce their strength in the eastern members, with thousands of troops mobilised.

Meanwhile, the United States said on Thursday it was sending another 7,000 troops to Germany. NATO is looking to establish battle groups in the southeast of the alliance, including in Romania. France has offered to lead the new deployment in that country.

Ukraine map: Where Russian attacks are being reported

A map of first strikes and attacks from Russia in Ukraine Image Credit: Washington Post

Video: Thousands in Russia protest Ukraine war, hundreds detained. Up to 1,000 people gathered in the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg, where many were detained by masked police officers

Two explosions heard in Kyiv

Two explosions were heard in Kyiv in the early hours of Friday, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

Similar sounds were heard a day earlier when, according to Ukrainian officials, a military base in Brovary, a town near Kyiv, was hit by Russian cruise missiles on Thursday, leaving six people dead.

Putin call 'frank, direct and quick': Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron held a "frank, direct and quick" phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to ask him to stop military operations because the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had asked him to.

"It was also to ask him to discuss with President Zelenskiy, who had requested that, because he could not reach him," Macron told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels.

Macron it was useful to keep alive the chance of dialogue with Putin.

He said after a summit of EU leaders that "while condemning, while sanctioning" it remained useful "to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be fulfilled, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities".

Macron says Putin was duplicitous on phone

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin had been duplicitous in his conversations with him, discussing the details of the Minks agreements over the phone while preparing to attack Ukraine.

"Yes, there was duplicity, yes there was a deliberate, conscious choice to launch war when we could still negotiate peace," Macron told reporters after an EU summit in which he said France would add its own sanctions to an EU package.

EU sanctions target 70% of Russian banking market

EU leaders have agreed sanctions on Moscow that target 70 per cent of the Russian banking market and key state owned companies, including in defence, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet early on Friday.

Australia strengthens sanctions

Australia imposed more sanctions on Friday against Russia targeting several of its elite citizens and lawmakers.

"We will work along with our partners for a rolling wave of sanctions and continuing to ratchet up that pressure on Russia," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a media conference.

Ukrainian servicemen get ready to repel an attack in Ukraine's Lugansk region on February 24, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Zelensky: Ukraine 'left alone' to fight as 137 die

President Volodymyr Zelensky said 137 Ukrainians died Thursday after his country came under a large-scale attack from Russian forces.

“Today we have lost 137 of our heroes, our citizens. Military and civilian,” Zelensky said in a video address, adding that another 316 people had been injured.