Ukraine says Russia has closed off northwestern part of Black Sea to navigation

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KYIV, Feb 26 (Reuters) – The Ukrainian border guards service said on Saturday Russia had closed off the northwestern part of the Black Sea to navigation.

“The presence of ships and ships in this zone will be regarded as a terrorist threat,” it said in a statement.

On Friday, Ukraine said Russia had hit two commercial ships near the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa, one day after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Russian troops started advancing into Ukraine again on Saturday after President Vladimir Putin paused the offensive a day earlier in anticipation of talks with Kyiv that never happened, the Kremlin said.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov also told a briefing Russia had expected the sanctions imposed by the West in response to the invasion and was taking measures to minimise their impact on the economy.

Russian troops are building up on the Ukrainian border in the Kyiv region, local governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Saturday.

Kuleba said 71 people were currently wounded in hospitals in the region, including soldiers and civilians.

Britain’s defence ministry said on Saturday that the bulk of Russian forces involved in the advance on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv were now 30 km (19 miles) from the city centre.

Britain, which earlier disputed Russian reports that Russian forces had captured the southeastern city of Melitopol, said the Ukrainian military was continuing to put up staunch resistance across the country.

“Russian forces have continued their advance on Kyiv with the bulk of their forces now 30 km from the centre of the city,” the defence ministry said in an intelligence update posted on Twitter.

“Russia has yet to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force. Russian casualties are likely to be heavy and greater than anticipated or acknowledged by the Kremlin,” it said.

Photo – A Ukrainian serviceman stands near a charred vehicle after night fighting in Kiev, Ukraine, 26 February 2022. EPA-EFE/ANDRII NESTERENKO

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