Russia ramps up attack as war enters 12th day

Russia increased its attacks on Ukrainian cities Sunday night into Monday, as officials warned the aggressors were preparing to assault the capital of Kyiv. Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, and Chernihiv and Mykolaiv – two cities surrounding Kyiv – faced increased fire from artillery shells as the war entered its 12th day with no end in sight. “The enemy continues the offensive operation against Ukraine,” 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. The adviser to the presidency of Kiev, Oleksiy Arestovich, told local broadcaster Belsat TV the situation in the suburbs of Bucha, Hostomel and Irpin of the Ukrainian capital Kiev is “catastrophic”. Moscow announced a limited ceasefire starting Monday morning and humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to evacuate Kyiv, Mariupol, Kharkiv and Sumy. It wasn’t clear how long the ceasefire would last. Efforts to evacuate residents of these locations failed yesterday and the Ukrainian official stressed that the government was doing everything possible to resume evacuations.

Third round of Russian-Ukraine talks

The third round of talks between the Russian delegation and its Ukrainian counterpart is being held in Belarus. Interfax reports the meeting is scheduled in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha forest, in the Brest region of Belarus where the first two negotiations also took place. Meanwhile, the Russian government today approved a list of “hostile countries” for having applied, or for joining, sanctions against Moscow. Tass reports the list includes, among others, the USA, the EU countries, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland as well as, obviously, the Ukraine itself.

Shares slide as oil and gas prices soar

Stock markets have sunk as soaring oil and gas prices spark fears of a global economic shock from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The main stock exchanges in France and Germany sank more than 4% in early trading, while London’s FTSE 100 was more than 2% lower. Asian shares also fell. The stoxx 600 area index fell 2.8%. In sharp decline Paris (-4%), Frankfurt (-4.1%), with the Dax losing 22% since the beginning of the year, Madrid (-3.8%), Milan (-5.9% ), London (-1.7%). Banks (-5.9%) and cars (-5%) are sinking. Energy holds up (+ 1.8%) while utilities suffer (-3.7%). The price of gold, a haven in troubled times for investors looking for security, hit $2,000 an ounce for the first time in almost 18 months. However, the biggest rise is in Nickel which has seen a jump of 16%. Also under tension aluminum (+ 2%) and copper (+ 3%). Palladium is running, rising by 5.2% to around $ 3,137 per ounce.

Oil, petrol prices soar

Oil prices soared to $139 a barrel, the highest level for almost 14 years, while wholesale gas prices for next-day delivery more than doubled. It came as the US hinted at a ban on buying Russian energy, as it looked to other countries to increase supplies. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her colleague in Finance, Christian Lindner, have said they were against a ban on imports of gas, oil and coal from Russia as part of new sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine. Petrol prices hit another record high, amid warnings of higher energy bills. The average price of a litre of petrol at UK pumps has hit 155p for the first time, pushing the cost to more than £7 a gallon. Filling up a car with a 55-litre tank now cost nearly £17 more than a year ago, rising from £68.60 to £85.59.

EU working on further sanctions – von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that in face of the “reckless attack by the Kremlin on citizens, men, women, children, the EU was preparing new sanctions against Russia. In a joint statement with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, ahead of their meeting in Brussels, she said the present measures “were biting as we see turbulence on the Russian economy”. However, she added, “we must ensure that there are no loopholes and that the effect of the sanctions is maximised”.

Russians kill Gostomel mayor

The Russians have killed the mayor of Gostomel, a town close to Kiev and headquarters of the strategic Antonov airport, already the scene of clashes. The city authorities reported Yuri Illich Prylypko died while distributing bread to the hungry and medicine to the sick. Prylypko was shot together with two other men.

Russian priest arrested after anti-war sermon

A group of Russian activists reported that a priest who gave an anti-war sermon on Sunday was arrested. According to Andrey Zakharov, a BBC Russia journalist, Fr Ioann Burdin ‘s handcuffs were put on shortly after he delivered a sermon to a small congregation in the village of Karabanovo . The cleric spoke out against the war, denouncing the ongoing bombings and destruction in Ukrainian cities and also sharing anti-war images with a petition on the parish website. The report drawn up by the police states that  Father Ioann “discredited the Russian military force, telling the 10 faithful present about the murder of the inhabitants of Ukraine, brothers and sisters in Christ”.

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