‘The first €300 million for Kiev’ – von der Leyen

EU Commission president Ursola von der Leyen has announced the EU has agreed to “pay out €300 million for macro-financial assistance to Ukraine”.

She writes in a tweet that this is “the first payment foreseen in a €1.2 billion-package. More resources are on the way” she said, “Putin’s war exerts brutal military and economic pressure on the courageous Ukrainian people. Europe is firmly on Kiev’s side.” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and Eurogroup President Pascal Donohoe were present for the second day of the Versailles Summit, when economic aspects related to the war in Ukraine. The session began late as yesterday’s first session ended late at night. The session, which takes place in the Gallery of Mirrors of the French Palace, will focus also focus on the review of European economic governance, which before the conflict in Ukraine was foreseen as a priority theme of the summit .

UN has ‘credible reports’ of Russia using cluster bombs

The UN human rights office has said it had received “credible reports” of Russia using cluster bombs in its invasion of Ukraine – a devastating weapon that is banned under the Geneva Convention. Reuters quotes UN spokesperson Liz Throssell telling reporters in Geneva, “Due to their wide-area effects, the use of cluster munitions in populated areas is incompatible with the international humanitarian law principles governing the conduct of hostilities.” Cluster bombs are missiles that open in the air and release hundreds of sub-munitions in order to hit multiple targets. Its use against civilians could amount to war crimes. “We remind the Russian authorities that directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, as well as so-called area bombardment in towns and villages and other forms of indiscriminate attacks, are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes,” Throssell said. Russia had been accused of launching the weapons against Ukrainians after at least 33 civilians were killed in Chernihiv on March 3. The country had denied it.

Russian forces launch more deadly airstrikes

Russian forces launched airstrikes across Ukraine early Friday morning, hitting a kindergarten school, an apartment building, and a shoe factory, local officials said. Photos posted by Ukraine’s State Service of Emergencies showed flames, rubble and battered buildings after the alleged attacks on the school and other buildings in Dnipro. Airstrikes were also reported on airports in Ivano-Frankiivsk and Lutsk outside of the main targets of the Russian offensive as morning began in war-torn Ukraine. Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed in the airstrikes at Lutsk military airfield. At least six people were wounded, according to officials. The series of morning air attacks comes after satellite images showed a massive Kremlin convoy outside the capital city of Kyiv had fractured after attacks from Ukrainian forces and resistance.

Fuming Putin fires generals

Enraged Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone on a tear, firing as many as eight generals over Moscow’s military losses in the invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s defence chief claims. Ukraine Defence Secretary Oleksiy Danilov made the claim on Ukrainian TV, according to the newspaper ‘Ukrayinska Pravda’. “[The enemy] had about eight generals removed from their posts because they did not complete the task. New ones have been appointed,” Danilov said. A March 1 report from independent Russian journalist Farida Rustamova quoted one high-level source as casting doubt on Putin’s state of mind. “It’s paranoia that has reached the point of absurdity.”

Donbass militias take control of Volnovakha

Forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic have taken control of Volnovakha, north of Mariupol. This was reported by the spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, quoted by Russian news agencies.

16,000 volunteers from the Middle East for Donbass

Over 16,000 “volunteers” from various Middle Eastern countries have expressed their willingness to be drafted to fight in the Donbass with the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk: the Russian Defense Minister, Serghei Shoigu, said.

12,000 Russian soldiers killed, 353 tanks destroyed

Ukraine claims to have killed approximately 12,000 Russian soldiers since the beginning of the war, according to an estimate by ‘Kyiv Independent’, which however specifies that the figure must be verified. The Kiev “bulletin” adds that 57 Russian military aircraft and helicopters were shot down, 353 tanks, 125 artillery pieces, 1,165 armored vehicles and troops, 58 multiple rocket launchers, 2 boats, 558 military vehicles were destroyed, 60 fuel tankers, 7 drones and 31 anti-aircraft batteries.

UN, 2.5 million refugees

Some 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24. The UN said the figure includes 116,000 third-country nationals, Paul Dillon, spokesman for the UN International Organization for Migration, wrote on Twitter.

UK to ask its citizens to host refugees

The British government is ready to launch a reception plan centred on its citizens who will be able to open their homes to refugees fleeing the fighting in Ukraine. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who reiterated the UK’s great generosity towards refugees despite the strong controversy over the number of people accepted up to now, about a thousand, much lower than what has been done by other countries in Europe. Already yesterday Interior Minister Priti Patel had promised a faster process for those who try to get to the island.

The new initiative is part of a program aimed at unrelated refugees in the United Kingdom, as envisaged by the first plan launched by the government: the names of the refugees in this case are indicated by humanitarian organizations, businesses and communities. Meanwhile, the British press focuses on the news of the sanctions imposed by London against Roman Abramovich and other super big oligarchs. Foreign Minister Liz Truss has accused him of having “bloody hands” for his “complicity” with Putin. And there are those who speak of the “fall of Roman’s empire”, due to the vastness of Abramovich’s economic activities in the kingdom, including Chelsea, whose sale has been abruptly stopped.

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