Global Review – 27th February

Russians hit Ukraine energy targets

Russian forces have hit a Ukrainian radioactive waste site, an oil depot and gas pipeline within the last hours. According to a first report by the country’s National Nuclear Regulatory Authority, there are no threats to people outside the health protection zone of the nuclear facility near Kiev. The bombing did not lead to the depressurisation of the storage of radioactive substances: only the site fence was hit while the building remained intact. Earlier, there were multiple reports that an oil depot in Vasylkiv, a city 30 kilometers south of Kiev, had been hit by a Russian rocket. Footage on social media showed huge flames billowing from the terminal. Kyiv officials have warned that the burning depot is emitting smoke and toxic fumes, and telling residents to close their windows tightly. A gas pipeline was subsequently also hit in Kharkiv after a Russian attack. Earlier, Russian artillery fire hit a children’s cancer hospital. One child was killed and two were wounded in the blast.

Russians blocked from SWIFT

A Western coalition, made up of the US, the UK, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy and Canada has announced in a joint statement it has “committed” to removing certain Russian banks from SWIFT messaging system, the global payments network. The statement said that in banning Russia from SWIFT, the EU would effectively block Russian institutions from conducting interbank transactions with non-Russian entities, isolating it from the global financial system. The powers will also take “restrictive measures” to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves to bypass sanctions and to keep Russian oligarchs from buying passports in other countries to re-enter the global financial system.

EU energy ministers to meet on Ukraine crisis

European Union energy ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Monday, with several member states heavily dependent on Russian gas exports. France’s ecological transition minister Barbara Pompili will chair the afternoon talks. The EU has toughened its sanctions against Russia, but has not extended them to energy. Russian gas accounts for a high share of energy supplies in Germany, Hungary and Italy.

Biden authorises $350m. in military aid to Ukraine

US President Joe Biden has authorised the State Department to release up to $350 million in military aid to Ukraine – bringing this year’s total aid to ukraine to $1 billion. The cash would be allocated for the embattled country’s defense. For Biden “the alternative to imposing severe sanctions on Russia would be World War III”.

‘Putin would not have invaded Ukraine under my watch’ – Trump

Former US President Donald Trump addressed a raucous crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference last night – and reiterated claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin would never have invaded Ukraine had he won the 2020 presidential election. “Under our administration Russia respected America just like every other country respected America, but now Joe Biden is seen as weak,” Trump said. In customarily cutting remarks, Trump derided President Biden as “bad and weak and grossly incompetent.”

NATO members send military aid to Ukraine.

NATO member countries are rushing to help embattled Ukraine, with Portugal stepping up to send in 175 troops to help secure the country’s borders. CNN quoted Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa saying in a televised address that this “is a war against the freedom of self-determination and against democracy”. Czech Republic officials said Saturday that their country would send a “shipment of weapons to Ukraine” worth more than $8.5m”. The Netherlands also committed to help the beleaguered country, promising to ship 200 anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to Ukraine.

EU countries ban Russia from their airspace

Several European nations have banned Russia from their airspace, saying they refuse to have “planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies”. Russian planes are barred from the United Kingdom, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia as of Saturday afternoon – and the list is likely to grow longer.

Putin fumes as Ukraine proves hard to conquer

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “furious” that his invasion of Ukraine hasn’t been “easy,” a member of the European Union Parliament claimed Saturday. “Putin is furious; he thought that the whole war would be easy and everything would be done in 1-4 days,” Riho Terras, who is also the former defense chief of NATO member Estonia, said in a lengthy thread on Twitter. “The Russians are in shock of the fierce resistance they have encountered,” he wrote, stating that the entire plan relied on sowing panic among civilians and armed forces and forcing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to flee.

UN Security Council to meet for 4th emergency session

The UN Security Council will meet Sunday for a fourth time in a week over Russia’s war on Ukraine. The council is to vote on whether to refer a US resolution opposed to Moscow’s incursion, blocked by Russia on Friday, to the UN General Assembly. This would be a procedural vote, meaning nine of the 15 members must agree. With no vetoes, it is considered certain. The text of the resolution, seen by news agencies, condemns Russia’s aggression “in the strongest terms” and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the independence and unity of Ukraine. It demands Russia’s immediate withdrawal and a return to the Minsk Agreement.

Russia moves in weapons to produce mass casualties

Russia has begun moving in the big guns to cause mass casualties as its war against Ukraine enters a new, deadlier phase, according to reports. A Russian thermobaric multiple rocket launcher was spotted near Belgorod near Russia’s border with Ukraine on Saturday afternoon, CNN reported. The TOS-1 or TOS-1A Multiple Rocket Launcher are capable of launching rockets with thermobaric warheads. The so-called “vacuum bombs” suck out the oxygen in the area where they are deployed in order to create a powerful explosion.

Abramovich cedes control of Chelsea FC in face of sanctions

Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich has decided to hand the “stewardship and care” of the club to trustees of its charitable foundation as the Russian oligarch faces the mounting potential of sanctions from the UK. A statement from Abramovich on the club’s website read, “During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to those values. I believe that currently they (the trustees) are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff and fans.”

Russian soldiers stuck on road get roasted by Ukrainians

The Russian invasion of Ukraine may already be running out of gas, if the video posted by one citizen is any indication. The minute-long clip shows a man driving up to a group of soldiers and what appears to be a Russian tank, stopped on a rural road. “Are you guys broken down?” the man asks the soldiers. “Out of fuel,” one responds. “Can I tow you back to Russia?” the Ukrainian quipped, generating laughter.

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