Loud blasts in Kyiv, EU agrees new Russia sanctions: Live news | Russia-Ukraine crisis News

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  • Ukrainian forces downed an enemy aircraft over Kyiv, which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire, an adviser to the interior minister says.
  • The EU will freeze Russian assets in the bloc and halt its banks’ access to European financial markets.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed so far.
  • Zelenskyy signs decree on the general mobilisation of the population.
  • Russian soldiers are advancing in the direction of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a US official says, as Moscow continues to flow troops into the country.
  •  The UN refugee agency says an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes.

Here are all the latest updates:

Ukraine central bank bans payments to Russia, Belarus

Ukraine’s central bank has banned payments to entities in Russia and Belarus as well as operations involving both nations’ currencies, the regulator has said.

Russia may retaliate for UK’s Aeroflot ban

Russia reserves the right to respond to Britain’s ban on Aeroflot flights with similar measures, the TASS news agency cited Russia’s aviation authority as saying.

Missile strike hits border post in southeast Ukraine

A missile strike hit a Ukrainian border post in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhya, killing and wounding some guards, the border guard service has said.

The region has no land border with Russia but is located on the coast of the Azov Sea which the neighbours share.

INTERACTIVE- How big are Russia and Ukraine

Explosions heard in Kyiv, official says enemy aircraft downed

Ukrainian forces downed an enemy aircraft over Kyiv, which then crashed into a residential building and set it on fire, Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister, has said.

It was unclear whether the aircraft was manned. Herashchenko wrote on Telegram that a nine-storey residential building was on fire.

A series of explosions were heard in Kyiv earlier which Herashchenko said were the sounds of air defences firing at the aircraft.

Day Two of Russian attack on Ukraine: What we know so far

A roundup of key events that took place on the second day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be found here.

Ukraine envoy to Japan requests more munitions to defend against Russian missiles

Ukraine’s ambassador to Japan has said his nation needs more anti-aircraft munitions to defend against Russian missiles.

Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky said Ukraine was well defended against tank attacks but needed Stinger missiles and other anti-aircraft supplies to defend against cruise missiles raining down on the country.

Macron says useful to ‘leave path open’ for dialogue with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron has said it was useful to keep alive the chance of dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Macron said after a summit of EU leaders that “while condemning, while sanctioning” it remained useful “to leave this path open so that the day when the conditions can be fulfilled, we can obtain a cessation of hostilities”.

MacronFrench President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel give a news conference at the end of a special meeting of the European Council [Olivier Hoslet/Reuters]

EU says “Putin must and will fail” as it agrees new sanctions

Putin “must and will fail,” top European Union leaders have said as they agreed new sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine, saying he was trying to bring the continent back to the age of empires and confrontations.

The bloc’s leaders agreed in principle at an emergency overnight summit to impose new economic sanctions, joining the US and others in taking steps such as curbing Russia’s access to technologies.

The EU will freeze Russian assets in the bloc and halt its banks’ access to European financial markets as part of what EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described as “the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented”.

EU says sanctions target 70 percent of Russian banking market

European Union leaders have agreed to sanctions on Moscow that target 70 percent of the Russian banking market and key state-owned companies, including in defence, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.

Sean Penn in Ukraine to make documentary on Russian attack

American actor and director Sean Penn is in Kyiv, making a documentary about Russia’s attack, the Ukrainian president’s office has said.

The double Oscar winner was photographed attending a government press conference in Kyiv, and could be seen meeting with Zelenskyy in a video posted to the Ukrainian president’s official Instagram account.

Read more here.

Taiwan says it intends on sanctioning Russia

Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang has said the island will join democratic countries to put sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, although he did not give details.

The crisis is being watched closely in Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory and has faced increased military pressure by Beijing over the last two years.

Australia imposes more sanctions against Russia, criticises China’s response

Australia has imposed more sanctions against Russia targeting several of its elite citizens and lawmakers, and said it was “unacceptable” that China was easing trade restrictions with Moscow at this time.

“We will work along with our partners for a rolling wave of sanctions and continuing to ratchet up that pressure on Russia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a media conference.

Zelenskyy: 137 Ukrainians killed on first day of attack

Ukraine president says 137 civilians and military personnel have been killed in the country on the first day of Russian invasion.

He called them “heroes” in a video address in which he also said 316 people have been wounded.

“They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven,” Zelenskyy said, referring to Russian forces.

Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near KharkivBlack smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv [Aris Messinis/AFP]

Japan will strengthen sanctions against Russia, PM Kishida says

Japan will strengthen sanctions against Russia in three areas, including financial institutions and military equipment exports, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said.

Japan will also do its utmost to limit the economic impact to Japan from the fallout from the Ukraine crisis, he said.

Kyiv residents fear looming Russian advances

Residents in Kyiv have said they are shocked at Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Anna Dovnya, a Kyiv resident, said she “didn’t ever think” the invasion would involve Kyiv after several explosions were heard in Ukraine’s capital.

“Until the very last moment, I didn’t believe it would happen. I thought it might just involve Donetsk and Luhansk, but I didn’t ever think it would involve Kyiv,” she told Al Jazeera.

Another resident, Hayan Babokoy, said “everyone is leaving, everything is shut”.

Oleksandra Shustik, urged the “whole world” to stop Russia from advancing. “I hate the country that started this war, I speak as a mother and as a Ukrainian, and I call on the whole world to help us and stop this aggressor.”

Ukrainians take shelter in a metro station after air raid sirens alarm in KievUkrainians take shelter in a metro station after an air raid sirens alarm in Kyiv, Ukraine [Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA]

White House says Putin’s ambitions stretch beyond Ukraine

The White House has said that Putin has grander ambitions than Ukraine, when asked about the Russian leader’s ultimate goals.

New Zealand announces travel bans, trade prohibitions with Russia

New Zealand has imposed targeted travel bans on Russia and prohibited goods trade to its military and security forces.

“The world is speaking and sending a very clear message to Russia that what they have done is wrong and they will face the condemnation of the world,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

More sanctions may follow as the conflict escalates, Ardern said.

White House says Biden briefed US congressional leaders on Ukraine

Biden briefed leaders in the US Congress about the crisis in Ukraine in a secure call, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has said.

Biden “spent an hour this afternoon on the phone with…Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, briefing them on the situation on a secure call, briefing them on the situation on the ground, answering questions they had as well,” Psaki said.

US, Albania call for UN vote Friday on resolution condemning Russia

The United States and Albania called for a UN Security Council vote on Friday at 20:00 GMT on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demanding Moscow withdraw its troops, diplomatic sources have said.

The text is doomed to failure because of Russia’s veto power as a permanent member of the council. But for Washington, use of the veto would show Russia’s “isolation”, the sources said.

US still has room to tighten sanctions on Russia, official says

The United States still has room to tighten sanctions on Russia if aggression against Ukraine escalates further, a senior administration official has said.

A second senior administration official, speaking to reporters, said other countries were making parallel announcements on export controls and expects many more will join in the coming days.

Zelenskyy calls on EU to stop Russian ‘aggressor’

Zelenskyy has called on the leaders of the European Union to “stand side by side with Ukraine and stop the aggressor”.

In a statement published on his page in the messaging app Telegram, Ukraine’s leader called for “powerful economic and financial sanctions” on Russia, including cutting off SWIFT and imposing an embargo on oil and gas trade.

“Europe’s fate is being decided in Ukraine: if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin doesn’t get a decent rebuff now, he will move on further,” Zelenskyy said, adding that the EU could also help Ukraine with weapons and ammunition and support a UN peacekeeping operation.

“Our people are dying for the freedom of Ukraine and Europe,” the statement said. “We have waited for a long time at an open door. We asked about NATO membership and didn’t get a response.”

Red Cross fears ‘massive casualty numbers’ in Ukraine

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could unleash death and destruction on a scale that is “frightening to contemplate”.

“I fear increased suffering, with the potential of massive casualty numbers and extensive destruction of civilian objects like water and electricity plants, as well as mass displacement, trauma, family separation, and missing persons,” Peter Maurer said in a statement.

“The ICRC has seen many conflicts start and escalate in recent years, but too few of them end, and in each one, it is the civilian populations that bear the consequences,” he added.

Ukraine foreign minister speaks to Turkish counterpart

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that he has spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over the phone.

The pair discussed “practical steps to ensure security in the Black Sea region,” Kuleba said in a Twitter post.

Ukraine has earlier asked Turkey to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian ships.

Ukrainian leader signs decree on general mobilisation of population

Zelenskyy has signed a decree on the general mobilisation of the population in the wake of Russia’s invasion, the Interfax Ukraine news agency has said.

Citing a decree on the presidential website, the agency said the mobilisation would be carried out within 90 days of the decree coming into force.

Ukrainian soldiers ride in a military vehicle in Mariupol, UkraineUkrainian soldiers ride in a military vehicle in Mariupol, Ukraine [Sergei Grits/AP Photo]

Blinken, in call with India, stresses collective condemnation of Russian invasion

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and urged a “strong collective response” to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the State Department has said.

“Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire,” the State Department said in a statement.

Russia SWIFT ban ‘still on table’: EU financial services commissioner

The European Union may not decide to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global interbank payments system this evening, but the measure has not been taken off the table as a possible sanction, the bloc’s financial services commissioner has said.

The possibility of cutting Russia from SWIFT “is still on the table. It may not emerge tonight but it is not off the table”, Mairead McGuinness told Ireland’s RTE television.

US Congress to provide $600m for new Ukraine weapons

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said lawmakers want to provide Ukraine with $600m for “lethal defence weapons” to battle Russia’s unfolding attack.

“What we’re doing with Ukraine is making sure that we have humanitarian assistance to help the people; that we have lethal defence weapons going into Ukraine to the tune of $600 million for them to fight their own fight,” she said, speaking to reporters in San Francisco.

Russia plans to ‘decapitate’ Ukraine government, US official says

The US believes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is designed to decapitate Ukraine’s government and one of the three main axes of assault is directed at the capital Kyiv, a senior US defence official has said.

“The indications we’ve seen thus far, in just these first, not even 12 hours, are in keeping with our assessment earlier, that would be his goal: to decapitate this government,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official said this appeared to be only the first phase of a large-scale Russian invasion that so far has used a limited number of the more than 150,000 Russian troops arrayed around Ukraine.

“We don’t believe he has committed anywhere near a large portion of the forces that he has available to him,” the official said.

New US sanctions to isolate Russia from global economy: Correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, reporting from Washington, said new US sanctions on Russia, which are being coordinated with European allies, aim to isolate the country from the global economy.

“Any assets that Russia currently holds in the United States are now frozen,” Halkett said.

INTERACTIVE- Conflict at a glance

100,000 Ukrainians believed to be displaced

The UN refugee agency has said an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes and that several thousand have crossed into neighbouring countries, mainly Romania and Moldova.

Russian forces advancing closer to Kyiv: US defence official

Russian forces are making advances on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and Moscow has continued to flow forces into the country, a senior US defense official has said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that so far Russia had fired more than 160 missiles at Ukrainian targets.

US decries Russia’s ‘aggression’, thanks Baltic states

Blinken has condemned Russia’s military operation in Ukraine as “premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified”, the department said in a statement.

Blinken spoke with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, and Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets on Thursday, spokesperson Ned Price said.

“Blinken thanked the Baltic states for their steadfast support of Ukraine and for hosting US and NATO forces. Blinken strongly condemned Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine and emphasised the importance of Allied unity for the strong, swift response to Russia’s aggression,” Price said in a readout of the call.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Thursday, February 24, here.

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