The Ukrainian crisis roundup

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Here’s what you need to know about the Ukraine crisis so far:

HEADLINES

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

* Russian troops captured the southeastern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Russia’s defence ministry said, as Moscow launched coordinated missile and artillery attacks on several cities including Kyiv. 

* British armed forces minister James Heappey said Britain did not believe Russian forces had captured Melitopol.

* Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) denied a report earlier on Saturday that Russian helicopters had landed in the Lviv region, a development that would have signalled a widening of the theatre of Moscow’s invasion. 

* Refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued to pour across its western borders on Saturday, with around 100,000 reaching Poland in two days, finding temporary sanctuary in sports halls and train stations.

* A decision to cut Russia off from the global SWIFT payment system will be taken in a matter of days, the governor of a central bank within the euro zone told Reuters. 

* Russia will respond to the seizure of money of Russian citizens and companies abroad by seizing funds of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia, RIA news agency quoted Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the security, as saying. 

* At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the head of the Ukrainian Health Ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. 

* France has decided to send defensive military equipment to Ukraine to support the country against Russia’s invasion, a French army spokesman said, adding the issue of sending offensive arms was still under consideration. 

* Russian energy giant Gazprom said it was supplying gas via Ukraine in line with demand from European consumers despite the military conflict. 

* French sea police seized a ship on Saturday that authorities suspect belongs to a Russian company targeted by European Union sanctions over the war in Ukraine, a government official told Reuters. 

* Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the Ukrainian military to overthrow the country’s leadership and negotiate peace. 

* Ukraine and Russia are discussing a place and time for talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s spokesman said on social media.

* Russia vetoed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained from the vote. 

* China is in a diplomatic scramble to limit blowback while standing by a partner with which it has grown increasingly close in opposition to the West. 

* President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. State Department to release $350 million in military aid to Ukraine, and asked Congress to approve $6.4 billion in aid to address the humanitarian and security crisis. 

* The White House said the United States, in a rare move, would impose sanctions on Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. The European Union and Canada are doing the same. 

* Ukraine said more than 1,000 Russian soldiers had been killed. Russia did not release casualty figures. The United Nations said 25 civilians had been killed and 102 wounded. 

QUOTES

– “We have withstood and are successfully repelling enemy attacks. The fighting goes on,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video message posted on his social media.

– “We will not put down weapons, we will defend our state,” Zelenskiy said.

Photo – Territorial defense fighters receive weapons and ammunition in Kiev, Ukraine. Russian troops entered Ukraine on 24 February prompting the country’s president to declare martial law and triggering a series of announcements by Western countries to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia. EPA-EFE/MIKHAIL PALINCHAK

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