Updates on the Ukraine Crisis

MAIN HEADLINES

– Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Western sanctions were akin to war, warning that any attempt to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine would lead to catastrophic consequences for the world.

– The evacuation of Mariupol has been postponed after both sides claimed opposition forces were not observing a partial ceasefire designed to allow humanitarian corridors out of two Ukrainian cities. Aid agencies believe the evacuation will not take place on Saturday.

– Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has strongly criticized NATO’s refusal to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine. On Saturday he made a “desperate plea” for aircraft, as well as a U.S. ban on Russian oil ban, in a call with US senators. 

– Russia has domestically blocked Facebook, BBC and Deutsche Welle websites and passed a law threatening jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading what they call “fake news” on the conflict. In response, multiple Western media outlets suspended reporting in the country.

-The Biden administration is considering cutting US imports of Russian oil, the White House has said, fast-tracking legislation that could ban Russian energy imports entirely.

– Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded Washington condemn what it called “terrorist” remarks by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham calling for President Vladimir Putin to be assassinated.

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– U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Poland’s prime minister, foreign minister and several refugees fleeing the conflict near the Ukrainian border on Sarturday. Warsaw used the visit to say it would not accept any territorial changes brought about in Ukraine by “unprovoked, illegal aggression.”

– The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has described the attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s biggest – as a war crime after Russian forces seized the facility this week. Moscow has blamed the fire at the nuclear site on a “Ukrainian sabotage group”.

– Russia is discussing plans with Belarus to set up humanitarian corridors that would allow foreigners to leave Ukraine, according to Belarus’ foreign ministry. Ukraine’s interior ministry said there would likely be more civilian evacuation deals in the future.

– More than 66,000 Ukrainian men have returned from abroad to fight against Russia’s forces, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has announced. 

– Sweden and Finland are set to strengthen their security cooperation in light of the Ukraine conflict, the countries’ prime ministers have announced, but both nations remain non-committal on joining NATO.

– At least 350 civilians have been confirmed killed in Ukraine so far, with a further 707 wounded, according to a U.N. monitoring mission. However, the true figures are thought to be “considerably higher”.

– Aid agencies have warned that more than 1.5 million refugees could have fled the country by Sunday.