Kiev hit by ‘horrific rocket strikes’
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba said “horrific rocket strikes” have hit the capital Kiev in an attack he compared to the city’s 1941 shelling by Nazi Germany. “Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941, when it was attacked by Nazi Germany,” he tweeted. “Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties. Kick Russians out (of everwhere),” he pleaded. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an update on the situation, confirming reports that shelling continued in the early hours of this monring. He said strikes were aimed at both military and civilian targets. Zelensky also claimed Russian troops had been stopped from advancing in most directions. According to Russian news agency RIA, he also accused the West of not imposing tough enough sanctions, saying the world is continuing to observe what was going on in Ukraine “from afar”.
137 Ukrainians killed, 316 injured as 100,000 flee their homes
Earlier, Zelensky announced 137 Ukrainians had been killed and 316 injured on the first day of fighting as 100,000 tried to flee Ukraine’s main cities and others take shelter underground. In a video message, he ordered a general military mobilisation as fighting against invading Russians continues on many fronts. He was critical of western powers saying that Ukraine had been left alone to face the Russians, asking, “Who is ready to fight with us? I see no one. Who is ready to guarantee Ukraine NATO membership? Everybody is afraid!” Military reservists have been called up. He said he also believed that he and his family were in danger. He said he had information that enemy sabotage groups had entered Kiev and asked the people to be careful and respect the curfew rules.
Putin “must and will fail” – EU
Top EU leaders said early Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin “must and will fail”, as they agreed new sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine. They said Putin was trying to bring the continent back to the age of empires and confrontations. At an overnight summit, EU leaders agreed in priciple to impose new economic sanctions, joining the United States and others in taking steps such as curbing Russian access to technologies. The EU will freeze assets in the bloc and halt its banks’ access to European financial markets as part of what was described as “the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented”. Earlier, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said export curbs to Russia would hurt its oil sector by stopping access to material it needs from Europe for its oil refineries. But Italy and Germany argued against limiting gas and oil imports or rejecting Russia from the Swift payment system.
Biden imposes harsher sanctions on Russia
As Russian troops advanced in multiple directions, the US, the EU, the UK, Canada, Australia and Japan have all agreed on stiffer sanctions against Russia. And President Putin has been widely condemned, with US President Biden calling him “the agressor”. Biden said “Putin chose this war” and announced what he called “severe consequences” for Russia’s financial system. The sanctions will cut of Russia’s largest banks and state-owned companies from Western financial markets and freeze trillions of dollars in assets. They target members of Putin’s inner circle although not the Russian leader himself. Biden did not target Russian’s energy sector so as not to disrupt oil and gas markets.
‘800 Russians killed’
The Ukrainian Defence Ministry has said that Russian forces have “already lost 800 men”. ‘Kyiv Independent’ quotes the ministry saying this was apart from destroying seven aircraft, six helicopters and over a hundred armoured vehicles. The news could not be independently verified. On the other hand, the Russian Defence Ministry has said that air and missile strikes have knocked down more than 80 Ukrainian military facilities on the first day of fighting. Russian troops are feared to have taken hostages at Chernobyl after capturing the shuttered nuclear plant in northern Ukraine. Kiev said all seven guards had also been killed. The West fears that the Russians captured Chernobyl as it affords them the shortest route to attack Kiev over Belarus.
Hundreds arrested in Russian anti-war protests
There has been a surge of anti-war protests in 40 towns and cities across Russia. Hundreds of people marched, chanting “No to war” in Moscow, St Petersburgh, Siberia and eastern Russia. Correspondents says police acted swiftly, arresting protesters “quite fast and quite brutally”. A thousand demonstrators are in detention.
UN vote condemning Russia today
A UN Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Russia is now officially slated on the UN schedule for later today. However, the proposal is expected to be vetoed by Moscow, who has the presidency of the council.
Spare the world madness, says Vatican
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said on the Ukrainian crisis that there was still time to spare the world of madness and horror of war. “There is still time for goodwill. There is still time for negotiation. There is still time for wisdom that may prevent partial interests prevailing,” he said after the Russian invasion. “And we continue to pray and fast – we will do so next Ash Wednesday – for peace in Ukraine and the whole world.”
Fatal heart attacks, strokes returning to level of 20 years ago
The level of fatal heart attacks and strokes risk returning to 20 years ago because hospital services have been pared “to the bone” due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Italian Society of Cardiologists said Thursday. “The number of people with heart disease is destined to incrrease because people who have recovered from COVID have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular diseases, it said, adding that between November and January, operations in Italian hospitals for heart conditions fell by 68%.