Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, in Chernihiv, Ukraine.
Remains of the Russian fighting aircraft are seen at a residential area, in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Image Credit: REUTERS

War rages in Ukraine for the 12th day on Monday as Russian troops besiege and bombard cities, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two. Follow the latest developments from the war front:

Also see: DAY 11 developments

Second Russian general killed in war, Ukraine says

Ukraine's military intelligence said on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces have killed a Russian general near the besieged city of Kharkiv, the second Russian senior commander to die in the invasion.

Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, first deputy commander of Russia's 41st army, was killed on Monday, the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine's defence ministry said in a statement.

Russia's defence ministry could not be immediately reached for comment. Reuters could not verify the report.

Another Russian general, Andrei Sukhovetsky, also a deputy commander of the 41st army, was reported killed at the end of February.

Ukraine says its forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops. Russia has confirmed about 500 losses.

Neither side has disclosed Ukrainian casualties.

World Bank approves $723m support for Ukraine

The World Bank said its executive board on Monday approved a $723 million (Dh2.7 billion) package of loans and grants for Ukraine, providing desperately needed government budget support as the country battles a Russian invasion.

The package includes a $350 million loan supplement to a prior World Bank loan, augmented by about $139 million through guarantees from the Netherlands and Sweden, the bank said in a statement.

It also includes $134 million in grants from Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland, as well as parallel financing of $100 million from Japan.

The World Bank's budget support loans typically do not carry restrictions on how the funds can be spent, but the bank said the "fast-disbursing" support will help Ukraine's government provide critical services, pay hospital workers, fund pensions and continue social programs.

"The World Bank Group is taking quick action to support Ukraine and its people in the face of the violence and extreme disruption caused by the Russian invasion," World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement. "The World Bank Group stands with the people of Ukraine and the region. This is the first of many steps we are taking to help address the far-reaching human and economic impacts of this crisis." The bank said it was continuing to work on another $3 billion package of support for Ukraine in coming months and additional support for neighboring countries that are taking in Ukrainian refugees, now exceeding 1.7 million, mostly women, children and the elderly.

Russia offers humanitarian corridors from 5 Ukraine cities

Russia has proposed the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave five Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv from 9am local time (11am UAE) on Tuesday pending Ukrainian agreement, Russian news agencies reported.

But most of the corridors would travel through Russia or Belarus, something Ukrainian authorities have rejected in the past.

Civilians leaving the cities of Kyiv, Chernigov and Kharkiv would travel to Russia, some via Belarus, Interfax news agency reported, citing a statement by a Russian committee charged with humanitarian coordination in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected earlier proposals to evacuate Ukrainian citizens into what he has described as “occupied territory” in Russia and Belarus.

People leaving the city of Sumy and Mariupol would, however, be given a choice of passage to Russia or to Ukrainian cities Poltava and Zaporizhia respectively, Interfax quoted the statement as saying.

Ukraine has been given until 3am Moscow time to agree to the terms, Interfax said.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya told a UN Security Council meeting earlier that Russia had “undermined arrangements” for humanitarian corridors on Tuesday by insisting all routes would go through Russia or Belarus.

Russia will not use conscripts in Ukraine: Putin

Russia will not use any conscript soldiers in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

"I emphasize that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists," Putin said in a televised message to mark International Women's Day.

UN calls for safe aid delivery to Ukraine combat zones

The United Nations needs safe passage to deliver humanitarian aid to conflict zones in Ukraine, a senior official with the organization told the Security Council on Monday.

"Civilians in places like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Melitopol and elsewhere desperately need aid, especially life-saving medical supplies," undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs Martin Griffiths told an emergency meeting on the disaster sparked by Russia's invasion.

Bulgaria calls for EU to share cost of accepting refugees

Countries across the European Union should share the cost of looking after Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on Monday.

More than 1.7 million Ukrainians have crossed into Central Europe so far, the United Nations refugee agency said on Monday, as thousands more streamed across the borders.

Petkov told Reuters his government had drawn up a plan to take in around 50,000 people that would cost about 2 million levs ($1.11 million) a day for food and shelter.

“It would be really good, and I think not only for Bulgaria but for all of the border countries, Romania, Poland, that we can share some of the burden and some of the cost ... with the European Union as a whole,” he said.

Fourth round of Ukraine talks to take place very soon, says Russia negotiator

Russia expects another round of talks with Ukraine to take place in the very near future, a negotiator said on Monday after a round of inconclusive talks in Belarus.

"The next, fourth, round will take place in Belarus in the very, very near future," Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky told Russian state television. "I will not name the exact date yet.

It will be determined, perhaps tomorrow." (Reporting by Reuters Editing by Chris Reese)

Russia says no positive developments yet in Ukraine talks

Russian negotiators on Monday said they did not have positive developments to report following talks with Ukraine and warned not to expect the next round to bring a final result.

The talks "are not easy. It is too early to talk about something positive," negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said following the talks.

"Our expectations from negotiations were not fulfilled. We hope that next time we will be able to take a more significant step forward," he added.

Russian evacuation offer rejected

Ukraine rejects a Kremlin offer to open escape routes for civilians trapped by the fighting in the cities of Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy because several of the routes lead to Russia or its ally Belarus.

Moscow says the proposal was based on a request from French President Emmanuel Macron, denied by Macron, and accuses Ukraine of blocking civilians from leaving, which it calls a "war crime".

Ukrainian minister puts war damage to infrastructure at about $10 billion

kraine has suffered about $10 billion in damage to infrastructure since Russia invaded the country, Infrastructure Minister Oleksander Kubrakov said on Monday.

He said in televised comments that the figure stood as of Sunday, and added: "The majority of (damaged) structures will be repaired in a year, and the most difficult ones " in two years." Kubrakov said 40,000 people had been evacuated from the eastern city of Kharkiv on Sunday. But Ukraine has appealed to Russia to let civilians leave other cities and an Interior ministry official, Vadym Denysenko, said 4,000 civilians still needed to be evacuated from the outskirts of the capital Kyiv.

"Russia is doing all it can to prevent (humanitarian) corridors," Denysenko added.

Ukraine parades captured Russian soldiers for cameras

The Ukrainian military has paraded captured Russian soldiers before the media and made them recite repentances for their invasion, prompting the Red Cross to warn prisoners must not be mistreated.

Eyes red, faces gaunt and in some cases scratched, 10 young Russians in green fatigues were lined up before the press and cameras at an event attended by AFP on March 4.

Some of them stared at their boots and avoided looking at the cameras, while others appeared more at ease.

It was the second such act in a week organised by Ukraine's SBU intelligence service.

Despite being widely recognised as the victim as Russia bombards its cities, Kyiv risks ceding moral ground over the February 24 Russian invasion to Moscow, which has accused it of torturing detainees.

"Prisoners of war and detained civilians must be treated with dignity," the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

Prisoners "are absolutely protected against ill-treatment and exposure to public curiosity including images circulating publicly on social media," it said.

The Ukrainian defence ministry and the SBU did not respond to questions from AFP about their methods.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich called in an online video for "humane treatment of prisoners". He reminded viewers that Ukraine's western partners were watchful on the subject.

Final Big Four accounting firm abandons Russia

All four of the so-called Big Four accounting firms are now cutting ties with Russia over its war in Ukraine.

Deloitte on Monday was the last of the four to say it will no longer operate in Russia, joining Ernst & Young, Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG in making similar announcements.

Deloitte said it is also cutting its ties to Russia-allied Belarus. The company said it is separating its global network of member firms from the firms based in Russia and Belarus.

Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen said in a statement ``we know this is the right decision'' but it will have an impact on Deloitte's 3,000 employees in Russia and Belarus who ``have no voice in the actions of their government.''

Pricewaterhousecoopers and KPMG announced they were pulling out of Russia on Sunday, and Ernst & Young earlier on Monday.

Russian shelling destroys Ukraine atomic lab built with US

Russian forces destroyed an atomic-physics lab under international safeguards in Ukraine's second-largest city, the head of the world's nuclear watchdog said, underscoring growing concerns over the safety risks posed by fighting around the country's facilities.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, who leads the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that a neutron generator at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology was destroyed during a Russian attack but the inventory of radioactive material at the site was small and monitors detected no radiation release.

"We cannot go on like this," said Grossi, noting that the facility was built in collaboration with US Argonne National Laboratory located outside Chicago. The destroyed lab was used for research as well as to provide medical isotopes for healthcare workers, according to Ukrainian officials. Kharkiv's relationship with the USq grew under the Obama administration, which helped remove 35.3 pounds (16 kilograms) of highly-enriched uranium from the site.

The IAEA's Grossi said he's ready to meet with Ukrainian and Russian officials at a location of their choice to ensure the safety of atomic sites as the war escalates. The physical integrity, communication channels and supply chains of the facilities needs to be guaranteed, he said.

US says it may become harder to transport arms to Ukraine in the coming days

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Monday it may become harder to transport arms to Ukraine in the coming days.

"It is critical that what we send in is what (Ukraine's President Volodymyr) Zelensky asks for. He knows what his military needs," she said at a briefing in Madrid, as part of a week-long trip to visit Turkey, Spain and North Africa.

"That may become harder in the coming days and we'll have to find other ways to handle it," she added without providing further details.

Russia announced new humanitarian corridors on Monday to transport Ukrainians trapped under its bombardment - to Russia itself and its ally Belarus, a move immediately denounced by Kyiv as an "immoral stunt." Russia calls the campaign it launched on Feb. 24 a "special military operation". It denies attacking civilian areas and says it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.

At least 13 civilians killed in air strike on Ukrainian bread factory

The bodies of 13 civilians were recovered from rubble after an air strike on a bread factory in the Ukrainian town of Makariv in the Kyiv region on Monday, local emergency services said in an online statement.

Five people were rescued, it said, adding that in total around 30 people were believed to have been at the factory before the attack.

Mayor of Ukraine's Lviv appeals for help with flood of displaced people

The mayor of Lviv said on Monday the western Ukrainian city had reached the limits of its capacity to help people displaced by Russia's assault on Ukraine and appealed to international organisations for help.

Mayor Andriy Sadoviy said several hundred thousand people had already passed through Lviv as they headed west seeking safety. Some 200,000 internally displaced persons were now staying in Lviv, and 50,000 were going through Lviv railway station daily.

"We understand there will be another wave (of refugees) ...

and call on international humanitarian organisations to come here and help," he said.

US assures nervous Baltics of NATO protection against Russia

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday assured Lithuania and Latvia of NATO protection and American support as he made quick visits to two of the three Baltic states that are increasingly on edge as Russia presses ahead with its invasion of Ukraine.

Along with Estonia, which Blinken will visit on Tuesday, the former Soviet republics are NATO members, and the Biden administration is aiming to calm any fears they have about their security in the event Russia chooses to expand its military operations.

In the Latvian capital of Riga, Blinken said the Baltics have "formed a democratic wall that now stands against the tide of autocracy" that Russia is pushing in Europe. "The United States is more committed than ever to standing with you as our democracies rise to the challenge," he said.

"We are bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared," Blinken said. He stressed that the US commitment to NATO's mutual defense pact is "sacrosanct" and that NATO and the United States were discussing the permanent basing of troops in the Baltics.

"We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack," he said. "No one should doubt our readiness. No one should doubt our resolve."

UK says India's UN vote swayed by dependence on Russia

British foreign minister Liz Truss said on Monday India had a level of dependency on Russia which might go some way to explain its decision to abstain in a vote at the United Nations to deplore Russia over Ukraine.

"I think the issue for India is there is some level of dependence on Russia, both in terms of its defence relationships but also in terms of its economic relations. And I think the way forward is for a closer economic and defence relationship with India," Truss told a parliamentary committee.

"I have spoken to my (Indian) counterpart, Minister Jaishankar, and encouraged India to stand against Russia."

Ukraine demands end to attacks on civilians before talks with Russia

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak urged Russia to halt attacks on civilians on Monday as he prepared to start a third round of talks with Russian officials on Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"In a few minutes, we will start talking to representatives of a country that seriously believes large-scale violence against civilians is an argument. Prove that this is not the case," he said on Twitter.

Kremlin says Russian military action will stop ‘in a moment’ if Ukraine meets conditions

Russia is demanding that Ukraine cease military action, change its constitution to enshrine neutrality, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent territories, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Peskov told Reuters that Russia had told Ukraine it was ready to halt its military action "in a moment" if Kyiv met its conditions.

It was the most explicit Russian statement so far of the terms it wants to impose on Ukraine to halt what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, now in its 12th day.

People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022.
People cross an improvised path under a destroyed bridge while fleeing the town of Irpin close to Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 7, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Peskov said Ukraine was aware of the conditions. "And they were told that all this can be stopped in a moment." On the issue of neutrality, he said: "They should make amendments to the constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc. This is possible only by making changes to the constitution." The Kremlin spokesman insisted Russia was not seeking to make any further territorial claims on Ukraine.

"We really are finishing the demilitarisation of Ukraine. We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action. They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot," he said.

"They should make amendments to their constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc. We have also spoken about how they should recognise that Crimea is Russian territory and that they need to recognise that Donetsk and Lugansk are independent states. And thats it. It will stop in a moment," Peskov told Reuters.

The outlining of Russias demands came as delegations from Russia and Ukraine prepared to meet on Monday for a third round of talks aimed at ending Russias war against Ukraine.

A Ukrainian man rides his bicycle near a factory and a store burning after it had been bombarded in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish ministers to meet Saturday

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia and Turkey will meet in southern Turkey on Saturday, Ankara announced on Monday.

"Following the initiative by our president and our intense diplomatic efforts, the foreign ministers of Russia (Sergei Lavrov) and Ukraine (Dmytro Kuleba) have decided to meet, with my participation on the sidelines," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet.

Russia-Ukraine talks to start at 6pm

A third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine on ending hostilities will start at 6pm on Monday in Belarus, Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.

Last week the sides agreed to open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians out of some combat zones, but none of them has worked so far, with the sides accusing each other of violating local ceasefire.

China calls Russia its chief 'strategic partner' despite war

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a remote video press conference held on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. Image Credit: AP

The Chinese Foreign Minister on Monday called Russia Beijing's "most important strategic partner" amid China's continued refusal to condemn the attack of Ukraine.

Wang Yi said ties with Moscow constituted "one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world."

China has broken with the US, Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Beijing has said sanctions create new issues and threaten a political settlement of the conflict.

"No matter how perilous the international landscape, we will maintain our strategic focus and promote the development of a comprehensive China-Russia partnership in the new era," Wang told reporters at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's ceremonial parliament.

"The friendship between the two peoples is iron clad," he added.

Russia-Ukraine Situation Report Day 12

DAY 12: The Russian attack on Ukraine is on its 12th day Image Credit: Graphic News

Paris denies asking Putin for civilian corridors to Belarus, Russia

French President Emmanuel Macron did not ask Russian leader Vladimir Putin to open humanitarian corridors towards Russia and Belarus for Ukrainians fleeing bombardments, his office said Monday, denying a claim by Russian officials.

Moscow announced the proposed escape routes from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy after Putin and Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday, saying the move was taken after a "personal request" by Macron.

But the Elysee Palace said no such request was made, with Macron insisting on "the respect of international humanitarian law, the protection of civilian populations and the supply of aid."

"That means that protection of civilians must be organised and humanitarian access allowed," a French presidency official, who asked not to be named, said Monday.

The Ukraine government rejected the offers of safe passage to Russia, which began its attacks nearly two weeks ago, or to Belarus, which is offering Moscow staging grounds for attacks.

Mayor of town near Kyiv killed by Russian fire

Russian forces have killed the mayor of Gostomel, a town near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv that is home to a strategic airport, city authorities said on Monday.

"The head of Gostomel, Yuri Illich Prylypko, died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick," the city said on its Facebook page.

Prylypko was shot dead along with two others, it said, without specifying when.

"No-one forced him to go under the occupiers' bullets," it said. "He died for his people, for Gostomel. He died a hero."

Gostomel, northwest of Kyiv, is home to the strategic Antonov military airport, which was the site of fierce battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces in the first days of the war.

Ukraine's president asks for military aircraft and boycott of Russian oil

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked the international community on Monday to provide Ukraine with military aircraft and to boycott Russian oil, oil products and other exports.

"If the invasion (of Ukraine) continues and Russia has not abandoned its plans against Ukraine, then a new sanctions package is needed ... for the sake of peace," he said in a video address.

Kyiv rejects Moscow-proposed corridors to Belarus, Russia, Russia shuns UN hearing

Ukraine on Monday rejected Moscow's offer of humanitarian corridors to Russia and Belarus, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

"This is not an acceptable option," she said, after Russia proposed the passage for civilians from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mariupol and Sumy.

The civilians "aren't going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia".

Russia declined to attend a hearing at the UN's top court on Monday at which Ukraine is asking for an immediate order to halt the conflict, the head judge said.

"The court regrets the non-appearance of the Russian Federation in these oral proceedings," International Court of Justice President Joan Donoghue said.

The Russian ambassador to the Netherlands, Alexander Shulgin, wrote to the court and "indicated that his government did not intend to participate," she said.

Ukraine's representative at the court in The Hague, Anton Korynevych, criticised Russia for not showing up at the ICJ's Peace Palace headquarters. "The fact that Russia's seats are empty speaks loudly. They are not here in this court of law, they are on a battlefield, waging aggressive war against my country," he said.

"This is how Russia solves disputes."

Airstrike at Ukraine's Vinnytsia airport kills 9: rescuers

Nine people were killed when Russia forces bombed the airport in Vinnytsia on Sunday, 200 kilometres (124 miles) southwest of the capital Kyiv, Ukrainian rescue services said.

"At 0500 GMT on Monday, 15 people were pulled from the rubble. Nine of them were dead - five civilians and four soldiers," they said on Telegram, adding that they were continuing to look for survivors.

Russia downs Ukrainian fighters

Russian defence ministry said on Monday that they downed three Ukrainian SU-27 fighters.

Russian rouble drops to fresh record low in thin offshore trade

Russia's rouble tumbled to a fresh record low in thin offshore trade with local markets closed for trading until at least Wednesday. The rouble weakened to 130.9338 to the dollar after closing at 121.037 on Friday, according to Refinitiv data. On the EBS trading platform, the rouble softened to as low as 140.00 against the dollar.

Bid/offer spreads were between 10 and 15 cents, pointing to an increasingly illiquid market. Trading on the Moscow exchange MOEX is scheduled to be closed until Wednesday for a bank holiday. Stocks last traded on Feb. 25 on Moscow's bourse.

The rouble has lost more than 40% its value against the greenback since the start of the year with losses sharply accelerating since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, which sparking sweeping sanctions from Western capitals, isolating the country from international financial markets.

Historic Ukrainian city scrambles to defend heritage

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A Ukrainian woman dressed in military attire prays inside the Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church in Lviv. Image Credit: AP

Statues wrapped in foam and fireproof material can be seen all around the historic city of Lviv, where the race is on to protect cultural treasures against possible Russian bombardment.

In the western Ukrainian city's Market Square, only a trident can be seen sticking out from a statue of Neptune - the Roman god of the seas - that is entirely covered in a plastic sheeting.

"I got some money, gathered a team and bought some material," said Andriy Salyuk, head of the Society for the Protection of Monuments, and one of the main drivers behind the protection effort.

Volunteers have joined up with city workers and builders in the movement to defend the rich heritage of Lviv, a city of 700,000 people whose centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Salyuk said he was moved to act when an art historian "told me that if there was a bombing, God help us, we could lose the stained glass windows!".

Russia to open humanitarian corridors on March 7

The Russian military will hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv at 1000 Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Monday, the Interfax news agency cited Russia's defence ministry as saying.

The corridors, which will also be opened from the cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy, are being set up at the personal request of French President Emmanuel Macron and in view of the current situation in those cities, it said.

Ukraine asks UN court for intervention

Ukraine will square off with Russia at the UN's top court on Monday, with Kyiv asking judges in The Hague to order Moscow to immediately halt its attackjs.

Kyiv lodged an urgent case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on February 27, saying that Russia had illegally justified its war by falsely alleging genocide in Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Ukraine alleges that it is Russia that is planning "acts of genocide" in the offensive launched by President Vladimir Putin on February 24. Kyiv has asked the court to take provisional measures ordering Russia to "immediately suspend the military operations", pending a full judgment that could take years.

"Ukraine emphatically denies that acts of genocide have been committed", Kyiv's application to the court said.

"Russia thus expressly bases its 'special military operation' - in fact a full-scale, brutal invasion of Ukraine - on an absurd lie."

In an unusual step, ICJ President Joan Donoghue issued an "urgent communication" to Russia on March 1 asking it to "act in such a way" that any order should take effect quickly.

The two-day hearing at the ICJ's Peace Palace headquarters will begin with Ukraine speaking on Monday at 0900 GMT. Russia is slated to reply on Tuesday.

It was not clear how Moscow would formally contest Ukraine's application and the Russian embassy in The Hague did not respond to a request for comment.

Terrified civilians trying to escape Mariupol

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Smoke rises after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine. Image Credit: AP

Russian forces pummelled Ukrainian cities from the air, land and sea on Monday, with warnings they were preparing for an assault on the capital Kyiv, as terrified civilians failed for a second day to escape besieged Mariupol.

The relentless fire has pushed more than 1.5 million people across Ukraine's borders as refugees, though many others are displaced internally or trapped in cities being reduced to rubble by Russian bombardment.

International sanctions intended to punish Moscow have so far done little to slow the invasion, and Washington said it was now discussing a ban on Russian oil imports with Europe.

The comments sent the price of Brent crude soaring to near a 14-year high, with markets in Tokyo and Hong Kong slumping.

On the ground, intense aerial bombardment continued overnight in the city of Kharkiv, which has endured almost non-stop fire in recent days.

Ukrainian authorities said cities across the country were under attack.

"The enemy continues the offensive operation against Ukraine, focusing on the encirclement of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mykolayiv," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a statement.

Russian forces "began to accumulate resources for the storming of Kyiv", the statement added.

In the south of the country, regional military officials said Russia had shelled the village of Tuzly in the Odessa region from the sea, targeting "crucial infrastructure sites" but causing no injuries.

Germany cautions against banning Russian oil

Germany's finance and foreign ministers cautioned Sunday against banning Russian energy imports as the West searches for ways to tighten the screws on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

With his country fighting for its existence two weeks since the incursion, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky has urged his Western allies to levy additional sanctions against Moscow, including boycotting its lucrative oil and gas sector. Earlier Sunday, chief US diplomat Antony Blinken said the United States and Europe were "very actively discussing" targeting Russian fossil fuels as the war intensifies.

But in Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the G7, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said such a move would be pointless since it could not be sustained long term. "It's no use if in three weeks we find out that we only have a few days of electricity left in Germany and therefore we have to go back on these sanctions," she told a German public broadcaster.

In a separate interview, she added that Germany was prepared "to pay a very, very high economic price" but "if tomorrow in Germany or Europe the lights go out, it's not going to stop the tanks".

Germany is dependent on Russian fossil fuels, importing an estimated 55 percent of its gas and 42 percent of its oil and coal from Russia.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner was also sceptical of an oil ban. "We should not limit our ability to sustain ourselves," he told the newspaper Bild.

European and British gas prices surged to record peaks last week on supply disruption fears. And oil prices have continued to skyrocket, with Brent futures leaping to almost $140 a barrel, the highest since 2008. Instead of boycotting Russian energy, the next round of G7 sanctions against should hit oligarchs who have gotten rich under President Vladimir Putin, the finance minister suggested.

Bombing of cities intensify, civilians killed

Russia steps up its shelling of cities across Ukraine. The UN says 1.5 million people have now fled, the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.

Attempts to evacuate civilians from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol fail again, amid repeated ceasefire violations. Residents are without power and water.

Ukraine's military says it is fighting "fierce battles" with Russian forces on the edge of the southern city of Mykolayiv, which sits on the road to the country's biggest port Odessa.

Dozens of civilians are being killed in the battle for Chernihiv in the north. Some of those who remain are living in craters or among the ruins.