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Firefighters work to contain a fire in the complex of buildings housing the Kharkiv regional SBU security service and the regional police, allegedly hit during recent shelling by Russia, in Kharkiv. Image Credit: AFP

Russia's attack on Ukraine entered its seventh day on Wednesday, with a huge convoy of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles on a road to the capital, Kyiv, and fighting intensifying there and in other big cities. Here are the latest updates from the war front:


Russian forces take city of Kherson

Russian forces have taken over the Ukrainian city of Kherson, local officials confirmed late Wednesday, the first major urban centre to fall since Moscow attacked a week ago.

"The (Russian) occupiers are in all parts of the city and are very dangerous," Gennady Lakhuta, head of the regional administration, wrote on messaging service Telegram.

1 million flee Ukraine since Russian attack: UN

The UN refugee agency said Thursday that 1 million people have now fled Ukraine since Russia’s attack less than a week ago, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.

The tally from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees amounts to more than 2 per cent of Ukraine’s population — which the World Bank counted at 44 million at the end of 2020 — on the move across borders in just seven days. The agency cautions that the outflows are far from finished: It has predicted that as many as 4 million people could eventually leave Ukraine, and even that projection could be revised upward.

In an email, UNHCR spokeswoman Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams wrote: “Our data indicates we passed the 1M mark” as of midnight in central Europe, based on counts collected by national authorities.

On Twitter, UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi wrote: “In just seven days we have witnessed the exodus of one million refugees from Ukraine to neighboring countries.”

Grandi appealed for the “guns to fall silent” in Ukraine so humanitarian aid can reach millions more still inside Ukraine.

ICC to start 'active' probe into war crimes in Ukraine

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Wednesday an active probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine "will immediately proceed" after his office received the backing of 39 countries.

"I have notified the ICC Presidency a few moments ago of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations in the situation," in Ukraine, Karim Khan said.

"Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced," he added.

Russians move superyachts to Maldives

At least five superyachts owned by Russian billionaires were anchored or cruising on Wednesday in Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, ship tracking data showed.

The vessels' arrival in the archipelago off the coast of Sri Lanka follows the imposition of severe Western sanctions on Russia in reprisal for its Feb. 24 attack on Ukraine.

Late on Wednesday Forbes reported that Germany had seized Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov's mega yacht in a Hamburg shipyard.

Usmanov was on a list of billionaires to face sanctions from the European Union on Monday. A Forbes report based on three sources in the yacht industry said his 512-foot yacht Dilbar, valued at $600 million, was seized by German authorities.

SWIFT to disconnect Russian banks on March 12

SWIFT has said in a statement that it will disconnect seven Russian banks from their network on March 12, as required by EU regulations.

The European Union said on Wednesday it was excluding seven Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, but stopped short of including those handling energy payments, in the latest sanctions imposed on Russia over its attack on Ukraine.

Spotify closes Russia office

Spotify said on Wednesday it has closed its office in Russia indefinitely in response to what the audio streaming platform described as Moscow’s “unprovoked attack on Ukraine.”

“Our first priority over the past week has been the safety of our employees and to ensure that Spotify continues to serve as an important source of global and regional news at a time when access to information is more important than ever,” Spotify said in a statement.

UN says 227 civilians confirmed dead, true toll 'considerably higher'

The United Nations human rights office said on Wednesday that it confirmed 227 civilians had been killed and 525 injured in Ukraine through midnight on March 1 following Russia’s attack on its neighbour.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Russian assault was causing damage to non-military targets but did not outright say Moscow was deliberately targeting civilians.

“We’re looking very closely at what’s happening in Ukraine right now including what’s happening to civilians. We’re taking account of it, we’re documenting it and we want to ensure, among other things, that there’s accountability for it,” Blinken told reporters.

The UN human rights office said in a statement that most of the casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, “including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and air strikes.”

It said it believes the true toll in the week-long conflict is “considerably higher”, especially in government-controlled territory, due to reporting delays in some areas where fighting has been most intense.

US oil ends at highest price since 2011

US oil prices finished at the highest level since 2011 on Wednesday after major oil exporters maintained a plan to only modestly increase output despite the impact of Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Futures for West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April jumped 7.0 per cent to $110.60 a barrel as Saudi Arabia, Russia and other top oil exporters said they would stick to their plan to boost production by just 400,000 barrels a day in April.

H&M halts all Russia sales

Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) said Wednesday that it would halt all sales in its Russian stores over the war in Ukraine.

The company said it was "deeply concerned about the tragic developments in Ukraine" and that it stood "with all the people who are suffering."

"H&M Group has decided to temporarily pause all sales in Russia", the clothing retailer said, adding that stores in Ukraine had already been closed "due to the safety of customers and colleagues."

H&M said it was continuously monitoring and evaluating the situation.

US 'will support diplomatic efforts' towards ceasefire

The United States "will support diplomatic efforts" by Kyiv to reach a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday.

"If there are diplomatic steps that we can take that the Ukrainian government believes would be helpful, we're prepared to take them, even as we continue to support Ukraine's ability to defend itself," he told a briefing in Washington.

Parts of Kyiv could lose heating after rocket blast

A powerful rocket strike near Kyiv rail station on Wednesday evening may have cut off central heating supply to parts of the Ukrainian capital amid freezing winter temperatures, said interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko in an online post.

Russia denies report it expelled US ambassador

Russia's foreign ministry on Wednesday denied reports Moscow had expelled the American ambassador, saying it was working on a response to the US decision to kick out 12 Russian diplomats at the United Nations mission, RIA news agency said.

Russia, Ukraine ceasefire talks Thursday on Belarus-Poland border

Russia and Ukraine will discuss a ceasefire at upcoming talks on the border between Poland and Belarus, Moscow's chief negotiator said Wednesday, nearly one week into Russia's invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.

"The Ukrainian delegation has already left Kiev. We expect them to be here tomorrow morning," Vladimir Medinsky said, for ceasefire talks, while the Ukrainian presidency confirmed its delegation was "on its way" to the venue of the talks.

Russia said Wednesday that 498 Russian troops had been killed in Ukraine, its first announced death toll since President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of the country last week.

"Four hundred and ninety-eight Russian servicemen have died in the line of duty," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement broadcast on state television, adding that "1,597 of our comrades have been wounded."The UN General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that "demands" Russia "immediately" withdraw from Ukraine, in a powerful rebuke of Moscow's invasion by a vast majority of the world's nations.

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that "demands" Russia "immediately" withdraw from Ukraine, in a powerful rebuke of Moscow's invasion by a vast majority of the world's nations. After more than two days of extraordinary debate which saw the Ukrainian ambassador accuse Russia of genocide, 141 out of 193 member states voted for the non-binding resolution.

China was among the 35 countries which abstained, while just five - Eritrea, North Korea, Syria, Belarus and of course Russia - voted against it.

The EU said on Wednesday it was imposing fresh economic sanctions on Belarus, on top of extra measures announced against the country for aiding Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

The 27-nation bloc said it was toughening sanctions targeting key sectors of the Belarusian economy, cutting off the country's major export, potash fertiliser, and hitting more key sectors.

Those included wood products, cement, iron and steel and rubber, and tighter curbs on dual-use good that could be used by its military.

Kyiv rejects 'ultimatums'

Russian forces shelled several Ukrainian cities on Wednesday as troops battled in the streets of Kharkiv and Ukraine's president accused Moscow of wanting to "erase our country".

Russia also said it had captured the Black Sea port of Kherson on the seventh day of Moscow's invasion, while Russian artillery massed outside the capital Kyiv - raising fears of an imminent assault. Several victims were reported killed by the shelling in southern and eastern Ukraine, adding to a civilian death toll of at least 350 people, including 14 children, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Russia has defied massive economic and diplomatic sanctions and growing global isolation to push on into pro-Western Ukraine, where its forces have encountered stiff resistance. AFP saw the aftermath of apparent Russian bombing on a market and a residential area in Zhytomyr, around 150 kilometres (93 miles) from Kyiv, and in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second biggest city.

A Ukrainian delegation member, David Arakhamia, said there would be talks but did not specify a place, date or time. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine would not hear Russian "ultimatums". Initial talks on Monday between Russia and Ukraine failed to yield any breakthroughs.

In a video address on Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces wanted to "erase our country, erase us all". The leader said Tuesday's strike on a television mast in the capital Kyiv demonstrated Russia's threat to Ukrainian identity.

India tells citizens to leave Ukraine 2nd city

India is asking its nationals to leave Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv by Wednesday evening, based on information that Indian authorities have received from Russia.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Indian nationals have been advised to move to three safe zones some 15 kilometres away.

Bagchi declined to give details about what information New Delhi had received from Russia, which is attacking Ukraine. Bagchi also said nearly 17,000 Indian nationals, mostly students, out of an estimated 20,000, have left Ukraine. India is trying to evacuate the rest to nearby countries.

IAEA talking to 'all sides' on nuclear safety assistance to Ukraine

The UN nuclear watchdog is working with "all sides" after Russia's attack on Ukraine on providing assistance requested by the country's nuclear regulator to ensure the safety of its facilities, the agency's chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday.

"I am in contact with all sides to ascertain in which effective way we could be providing this assistance. Since these consultations are ongoing I would not be in a position to tell you right now what kind or when this assistance is going to be delivered," Grossi told a news conference, adding that it could include sending staff.

Day seven - Situation on the ground

- Russia says it has taken "full control" of Kherson, a port city on the Black Sea.

- Kherson's mayor says "We are still Ukraine. Still firm".

- Ukraine says Russian paratroopers also landed in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city.

- There is fighting in the streets of Kharkiv, Ukraine's army says.

- Emergency services report four dead, nine wounded in Kharkiv shelling.

- AFP witnesses see rocket damage to security, police and university buildings in Kharkiv.

- Russia steps up bombing of Ukraine's cities, including west and south of Kyiv.

- With Western observers noticing a Russian military column outside Kyiv, the capital remains braced for a possible assault.

- Spain is the latest country to announce supply of "military hardware" to Ukraine.

The military toll

- Ukraine claims 5,840 Russian soldiers have lost their lives in the conflict so far, a claim which cannot be verified.

- Russia acknowledges that it has sustained losses, but so far has given no figures.

- According to the Russian defence ministry, its forces have destroyed over 1,500 Ukrainian military elements including 58 planes, 46 drones and 472 tanks.

- Ukraine denies suffering military losses on this scale.

The humanitarian toll

- Tuesday's Russian attack on a Kyiv TV tower killed 5, Ukraine says.

- More than 350 civilians have died in the conflict so far, including 14 children, Ukraine says.

- UN says nearly 836,000 people have fled conflict.

Ukraine refugee surge soon to hit 1 million: UN

The UN refugee agency says more than 874,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s attack last week and the figure is “rising exponentially,” putting it on track to cross the 1 million mark possibly within hours.

UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo said on Wednesday that people are continuing to stream into Ukraine’s neighboring countries to the west, with more than 200,000 fleeing since Tuesday.

A day earlier, Mantoo had cautioned that the outflows from Ukraine could make it the source of the “biggest refugee crisis this century” — eclipsing the one from Syria’s war over the last decade.

She noted that UNHCR had previously projected that as many as 4 million people might flee Ukraine, but noted that the agency will be re-evaluating its forecast.

The latest figures show that more than half — or nearly 454,000 — have gone to Poland, more than 116,300 to Hungary and over 79,300 to Moldova. Another 69,000 have gone to other European countries and 67,000 have fled to Slovakia.

Cruise missile hits Kharkiv city council building

Russian forces fired a cruise missile into the city council building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, the deputy governor of the region Roman Semenukha said.

A key Russian target, Kharkiv has come under intense shelling over the past two days, with 21 people killed in the past day.

Four killed, nine hurt in Kharkiv

Four people have been killed and another nine wounded during shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the emergencies services said on Wednesday.

"Four dead, nine injured," the services said, citing preliminary information.

Russia attacks Ukraine: What we know on day seven

Image Credit: Graphic News/Gulf News

UAE announces $5 million in humanitarian assistance

The UAE has announced $5 million in humanitarian assistance to benefit civilians impacted by the situation in Ukraine.

The contribution is made to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Flash Appeal and the Regional Refugee Response Plan for Ukraine and is a reflection of the UAE’s emphasis on humanitarian solidarity in conflict settings.

The UAE has underscored the importance of focusing on the deteriorating humanitarian situation for civilians, including by ensuring their protection, as well as preventing the unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies and actors and safe passage for those seeking to leave the country without discrimination or obstacles as stated during the UN Security Council’s meeting on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine on February 28.

'Russia will not let Ukraine obtain nuclear weapons'

Russia will not allow Ukraine to obtain nuclear weapons, TASS news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday.

Russia says it's ready for more talks today, not clear if Ukraine will join

The Kremlin said Russian officials were ready to hold a second round of talks with Ukraine on Wednesday but it was not clear if Ukrainian officials would turn up.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there was contradictory information regarding the talks.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that Russia must stop the bombing of Ukrainian cities before talks could take place.

Peskov also said Moscow needed to formulate a harsh, thought-out and clear response against measures imposed on Western countries to undermine the Russian economy.

Zelensky says Russia tries to 'erase history'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has expressed concern that Russian attacks could threaten holy religious sites and said Russian troops are trying to "erase our history."

In a speech posted on Facebook, Zelensky on Wednesday denounced a Russian strike that hit Holocaust memorial site Babi Yar in Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivering an address in Kyiv. Image Credit: AFP

He said: "This is beyond humanity. Such missile strike means that for many Russians our Kyiv is absolute foreign. They know nothing about our capital, about our history. They have orders to erase our history, our country and all of us."

"What will be next if even Babi Yar (is hit), what other `military' objects, `NATO bases' are threatening Russia? St. Sophia's Cathedral, Lavra, Andrew's Church?" he asked, referring to sites in Kyiv held sacred by Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox believers around the world.

Zelensky also claimed almost 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the attack began last Thursday. Russia has not released overall casualty numbers and the figure could not be confirmed.

EU steps up aid, residence permit for refugees

The European Union is stepping up aid for Ukraine and is moving toward granting temporary protection to those fleeing Russia's attack.

The EU Commission announced Wednesday it will give temporary residence permits to the refugees and allow them rights to education and work in the 27-nation bloc.

The move still has to be approved by the member states, but they already expressed broad support over the weekend.

EU Commission President Urusla von der Leyen says "all those fleeing Putin's bombs are welcome in Europe. We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home."

On Tuesday, she already committed at least half a billion euros of the bloc's budget to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine.

UK pushes back against calls for no-fly zone

Britain's defense secretary has pushed back against calls for NATO to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine, saying aircraft from both sides would be grounded and that could help Russia's land forces.

Ben Wallace's comments came a day after a Ukrainian journalist confronted Prime Minister Boris Johnson with questions about why NATO had failing to enforce a no-fly zone while civilians were being attacked from the air.

Wallace told Sky News: "You can still have fighting with a no-fly zone, it just won't be in the air."

Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. Image Credit: AP

He said that would allow Russian armored columns to drive around with impunity and not be struck from the air, where currently Ukrainian aircraft and unmanned air vehicles are causing damage on key parts of their logistical chain.

As Wallace was speaking Wednesday, the UK Defense Department released its latest intelligence assessment, saying that Russia continued heavy artillery and airstrikes on the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv in the last 24 hours.

Wallace also reiterated British opposition to imposing a no-fly zone, saying that it would force NATO pilots to shoot down Russian aircraft, which could spark a wider European war.

He said, "How far does the British public want us to go against a nuclear armed power who may view escalation of all means? So I think we have to realistic here."

Ukraine's Mariupol under heavy shelling, Kherson surrounded

Ukraine's south-eastern port of Mariupol was under constant shelling from Russia and unable to evacuate the injured while Kherson, on the Black Sea to the west, was completely surrounded by Russian forces, Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.

"We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland," Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said live on Ukrainian TV.

Russia says it captures Ukrainian city of Kherson

The Russian army claimed on Wednesday it had taken control of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as Moscow's attack on the pro-Western country entered its seventh day.

"The Russian divisions of the armed forces have taken the regional centre of Kherson under full control," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks.

He claimed that public services and transport were operating as usual.

"The city is not experiencing shortages of food and essential goods," he added.

He said talks were under way between the Russian army and local authorities on maintaining order, protecting the population and keeping public services functioning.

Kherson's mayor Igor Kolykhaiev said in a post on Facebook: "We are still Ukraine. Still firm."

Apparently contradicting the Russian army's claims, he said he needed to find a way to "collect the (bodies of the) dead" and "restore electricity, gas, water and heating where they are damaged."

"But I warn you right away: to complete these tasks today means to perform a miracle," he added.

At least 21 killed and 112 wounded in shelling in Kharkiv

At least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on Wednesday.

The authorities have said Russian missile attacks hit the centre of Ukraine's second-largest city, including residential areas and the regional administration building.

"Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv... and attacked a local hospital," the Ukrainian army said in a statement on messaging app Telegram. "There is an ongoing fight between the Russians and the Ukrainians."

A fire also broke out on Wednesday in the barracks of a flight school in Kharkiv following an airstrike, according to Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister.

"Practically there are no areas left in Kharkiv where an artillery shell has not yet hit," he was quoted as saying in a statement on Telegram.

Firefighters extinguishing a fire in the Kharkiv regional police department building, which is said was hit by recent shelling, in Kharkiv Image Credit: AFP

Mexico declines to impose economic sanctions on Russia

Mexico will not impose any economic sanctions on Russia for attacking Ukraine, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday.

He also criticised what he called censorship of Russian state-sponsored media by social media companies.

"We are not going to take any sort of economic reprisal because we want to have good relations with all the governments in the world," Lopez Obrador told a news conference.

Lopez Obrador's position stands in contrast to the broad international sanctions imposed on Russia for President Vladimir Putin's actions.

Russia has built strong links to various governments in Latin America, especially authoritarian administrations in Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, but its ties with Mexico are seen to be limited due to the strong US-Mexico relations.

The Mexican and US economies are deeply intertwined. But leftist leader Lopez Obrador has at times had testy relations with the United States and has criticized US foreign policy.

A civilian trains to throw Molotov cocktails to defend the city, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine on March 1, 2022.
A civilian trains to throw Molotov cocktails to defend the city, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine on March 1, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

UN General Assembly set to censure Russia over Ukraine assault

The United Nations General Assembly is set to reprimand Russia on Wednesday over its assault of Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, a move that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.

By Tuesday evening nearly half the 193-member General Assembly had signed on as co-sponsors of a draft resolution ahead of a vote on Wednesday, diplomats said. The text "deplores" Russia's "aggression against Ukraine." It is similar to a draft resolution vetoed by Russia in the 15-member Security Council on Friday. No country has a veto in the General Assembly and Western diplomats expect the resolution, which needs two-thirds support, to be adopted.

"Russia's war marks a new reality. It requires each and every one of us to take a firm and responsible decision and to take a side," Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the General Assembly on Tuesday.

While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight.

The draft text "demands that the Russian Federation immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders." Dozens of states are expected to formally abstain from the vote or not engage at all.

Kyiv, Ukraine
People look at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Russian airborne troops land in Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv

Russian airborne troops landed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, the Ukrainian army said, adding that there were immediate clashes.

"Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv... and attacked a local hospital," the army said in a statement on messaging app Telegram. "There is an ongoing fight between the attackers and the Ukrainians."

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

It has been a target for Russian forces since President Vladimir Putin launched an attack of Ukraine last Thursday.

A view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling.
A view of the square outside the damaged local city hall of Kharkiv, destroyed as a result of Russian troop shelling. Image Credit: AFP

Biden joins allies, bans Russian planes from US airspace

US President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union address that the US is banning Russian flights from its airspace in retaliation for the attack of Ukraine.

The move follows similar action by Canada and the European Union this week. Biden also issued an ominous warning that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression wouldn't be contained to Ukraine.

"Throughout our history we've learned this lesson - when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos," Biden said. "They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising."

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington as Vice President Kamala Harris and House speaker Nancy Pelosi of California., look on. Image Credit: AP

The ban would come on top of a wide range of sanctions the US, Europe and other nations have imposed on Russia that have caused the value of its currency, the ruble, to plunge, and are expected to hammer its economy.

The US ban raises the possibility that Russia could respond by prohibiting US flights over its territory, which would make for longer and more costly flights, especially for cargo carriers. FedEx and UPS both fly over Russia, although they announced this weekend that they were suspending deliveries to that country.

Biden vows Putin, Russian military will suffer in years ahead

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday vowed that Russia's Vladimir Putin will pay over the long run even if he makes gains on the battlefield in Ukraine.

"While he may make gains on the battlefield " he will pay a continuing high price over the long run," Biden said in his State of the Union address.

"He has no idea what's coming," the US president said.

He spoke to Congress on the seventh day of Russia's attack of its European neighbour and as Kyiv stared down a miles-long armored Russian column potentially preparing to take over the Ukrainian capital.

In the prime time speech, Biden announced a new step banning Russian flights from using American airspace.

He also signaled steps to hobble Russia's military in the future, even as he acknowledged it could see more gains in the coming hours. "We are choking off Russias access to technology that will sap its economic strength and weaken its military for years to come," he said.

"When the history of this era is written Putin's war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger," he said.

A man looks at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
A man looks at the gutted remains of Russian military vehicles on a road in the town of Bucha, close to the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Image Credit: AP

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 attacked Ukraine.

"A Russian dictator, attacking 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.

Exxon to exit Russia, leaving $4 bln in assets

Exxon Mobil said it would exit Russia oil and gas operations that it has valued at more than $4 billion and halt new investment as a result of Moscow's attack of Ukraine.

The decision will see Exxon pull out of managing large oil and gas production facilities on Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East, and puts the fate of a proposed multi-billion dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility there in doubt.

"We deplore Russia's military action that violates the territorial integrity of Ukraine and endangers its people," the company said in a statement critical of the intensifying military attacks.

Its planned exit follows dozens of other Western companies ranging from Apple and Boeing to BP PLC, Shell and Norway's Equinor ASA that have halted business or announced plans to abandon their Russia operations.

Oil at $110 rattles stocks, bonds show growth fear

Stocks extended a global selloff Wednesday as the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia stoke the cost of commodities including oil, hurting the economic outlook and bolstering demand for sovereign bonds.

US futures wavered as President Joe Biden in his State of the Union speech called Vladimir Putin a "dictator" following Russia's attack of its neighbour. An Asian equity index slid about 1% after Wall Street shares fell Tuesday.

Demand for havens saw Australian and New Zealand debt join a global fixed-income rally. Treasuries held most of that push higher with the 10-year yield at about 1.74%. Gold and a dollar gauge remained firm.

Brent oil touched $110 a barrel. Steps to tap reserves failed to ease worries over supplies as penalties mount on resource-rich Russia. An index of commodities jumped the most since 2009 to a record. The conflict is a threat to flows of energy, crops and metals, which were already tight.

The war and increasingly severe sanctions on Russia raise the risk of an economic slowdown and persistent price pressures. That backdrop puts the Fed and other key central banks in a bind as they try to fight inflation without derailing growth. Such uncertainty could stoke more market swings.