‘Putin was wrong. We were ready’ – Biden
US President Joe Biden has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having misjudged the West with an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and will order a US ban on Russian flights in American airspace. In his State of the Union address, Biden said Putin eschewed efforts to prevent war. “Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready.” He added that while Putin may make gains on the battlefield, “he will pay a continuing high price over the long run”. He then led a standing ovation for the people of Ukraine. Addressing domestic concerns, he said tackling inflation was his top priority.
Today’s second round of talks to be held in Belarus
Russian news agency TASS announces that the second round of talks between Ukraine and Moscow to try to reach a truce, scheduled for today, is to be held in Belarus. After the first meeting on Monday, on the border between Ukraine and Belarus, today’s should take place in the western Bialowieża Forest area of the country. “However, there is still no certainty about the event”, underlines the Russian news agency as yesterday Russian media reported that it would be held on the border between Ukraine and Poland.
Russia intensifies bombardment
On the battle front, Ukraine’s besieged cities have come under more heavy bombardment after Russian commanders, facing fierce resistance, intensified their shelling of urban areas. They have shown no sign of stopping an assault that has included strikes on the capital Kyiv and rocket attacks in the second city of Kharkiv, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people.
Russian airborne troops land in Kharkiv
The Ukrainian army has announced that Russian airborne troops have landed in Kharkiv, reportedly attacking a military hospital. Kharkiv is “encircled” by Russian forces, along with Kherson on the Black Sea, and the strategically-important Sea of Azov port city, Mariupol. West of Kyiv, in the city of Zhytomyr, four people, including a child, were killed on by a Russian cruise missile. A Russian military strike in the small town of Borodjanka north-west of Kyiv on Tuesday night tore through two apartment blocks. In Kiev, many neighborhoods continue to be under fire, after the TV tower was hit, causing at least five victims, and the Holocaust memorial. Logistics problems are stalling a massive Russian convoy that’s pushing its way toward Kyiv, according to a senior US defence official. The convoy, which has been measured as stretching for 40 miles, is apparently being hampered by fuel and food shortages.
Russian units ‘surrendering’ without a fight
Morale among Russian troops has dropped to the point that some units were “surrendering” to Ukrainian soldiers without a fight. A senior defence official did not say how many of the soldiers – who are apparently facing fueling and food shortages – have surrendered, but said they are noticing “certain risk-averse behaviour by the Russian military.” The official also described many of the Kremlin’s troops as “conscripts” and “very young men” who haven’t been well-trained and weren’t fully briefed what they would be doing when invading.
‘Russian Marines turned back warships’
Terrified Russian Marines are reported to have defied orders to storm a mine-filled Ukrainian beach – and instead forced their fleet of warships to turn around and flee. Members of the 810th brigade of Russia’s Marine force allegedly told Ukraine’s ‘Dumskaya’ paper that they had been ordered to carry out an underwater assault on Luzanovsky beach in Odessa. But at the last minute, “a real rebellion took place” and the crews managed to turn around their ships and flee the bay, according to the report also shared by the ‘Odessa Journal’.
Chechen hit squad sent to kill Zelensky ‘neutralised’
Members of an elite Chechen death squad, dispatched by Vladimir Putin to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, were killed or captured Tuesday, according to a senior Ukrainian official. Oleksiy Danilov said two Chechen units that “came to kill our president” had been “eliminated” – one had been captured, and the other was engaged by Ukrainian forces.
IEA to release 60 million barrels of oil to stabilise prices
Members of the Paris-based International Energy Agency will release 60 million barrels of oil from their strategic reserves to help stabilise fuel prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the group announced Tuesday. However, notwithstanding, oil prices have surged on international energy markets and Brent crude – the international benchmark for oil prices – has topped $110 (€90) a barrel, marking the highest level seen in more than seven years.
Kiev asks for China mediation for ceasefire
Beijing says Ukraine has asked China to mediate a ceasefire. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, during a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, said they were “looking forward to mediation from the Chinese side”.
Sanctions to hit Paralympic Games
The International Paralympic Committee meets later today in Beijing to decide whether to ban Russian athletes from the winter games, opening on Friday. The Russian team is already in China. Meanwhile, sport governing bodies continue to sanction Russian and Belorussian competitors and teams in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The lateset were world athletics, cycling, rowing, skating and skiing.
Libyan Parliament approves new government
Libya’s east-based parliament has approved a new government despite the incumbent administration pledging not to cede power. Prime Minister-designate Fathi Bashagha on Tuesday submitted his Cabinet to the east-based House of Representatives, where 92 of 101 legislators in attendance approved it. The vote aggravated a power struggle with the interim administration of Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who was installed through a UN-supported process last year.
Sydney braces itself for flash-floods.
Sydney Morning herald reports the city is bracing itself for possible flash-floods as heavy rains that have caused havoc across Australia move in. Torrential downpours have led to record-breaking floods. Parts of Queensland have had six months’ worth of rain in just two days.
Burning cargo ship finally sinks
A massive cargo ship carrying 4,000 luxury sports, including Lamborghinis, Porsches, Audis, and Bentleys worth an estimated total of $400 million, sank off the coast of Europe on Tuesday. The Felicity Ace, a 60,000-ton merchant ship that caught fire on February 17, ran aground about 253 miles from the Azores. The ship started to tilt to one side and take on water after it caught fire. All 22 sailors on board the ship were rescued.