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FRIDAY BLOG: The Russia-Ukraine Conflict as it happens

Servicemen ride atop a Russian armored vehicle in Armyansk, Crimea, on February 25, 2022. - Ukrainian forces fought off Russian invaders in the streets of the capital Kyiv on February 25, 2022. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Servicemen ride atop a Russian armored vehicle in Armyansk, Crimea, on February 25, 2022. - Ukrainian forces fought off Russian invaders in the streets of the capital Kyiv on February 25, 2022. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Published Feb 25, 2022

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin defied mounting sanctions and recriminations from the West as the country’s military pushed deeper into Ukraine on Thursday, attacking strategic airfields and advancing toward major cities.

According to reports, at least 137 people have been killed and scores more injured, some critical.

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Russian forces reached the outskirts of Kyiv on Friday as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the invading troops were targeting civilians and explosions could be heard in the besieged capital. Pre-dawn blasts in Kyiv set off a second day of violence and displaced at least 100,000 people.

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EXPLAINER: Here's why the threat of war in Ukraine still looms, despite crisis talks with Russia

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Fears of a possible Russian attack on Ukraine have sharpened after no progress was made during talks in Europe seeking to deter Russia's military build up near Ukraine and convince Moscow to de-escalate.

Russian officials said the security talks this past week failed. One top official bemoaned a "dead end" situation, saying it was pointless to continue after the United States and NATO firmly ruled out Russia's key demands: that Ukraine, Georgia and other nations - including Sweden and Finland - be forever barred from joining NATO.

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Russia says it has staged 'successful landing operation' to capture airfield near Kiev

Russian Defence Ministry on Friday said that its forces have staged a "successful landing operation" to capture Gostomel airfield in the suburbs of Kiev in Ukraine.

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"On February 24, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out a successful landing operation in the area of Gostomel airfield in the suburbs of Kiev. More than 200 Russian helicopters were involved in the operation," the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

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EU places Putin on sanctions list after Ukraine invasion

The European Union has agreed to place Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on its list of sanctioned individuals following

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday.

"Let me flag that the only leaders in the world that are sanctioned by the European Union are Assad from Syria, Lukashenko from Belarus and now Putin from Russia," Borrell told a news conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers to settle details of the bloc's sanctions.

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UK urges NATO leaders to use SWIFT to hurt Russia

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged NATO leaders to take immediate action using the SWIFT international payments system to impact Russia's President

Putin and his regime, his office said following a call with NATO leaders on Friday.

Johnson urged leaders to take immediate action with SWIFT "to inflict maximum pain on President Putin and his regime," his office said on Friday. | Reuters

NATO allies to provide more weapons to Ukraine

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday the alliance was deploying parts of its combat-ready response force and would continue to send

weapons to Ukraine, including air defences.

Stoltenberg also said that Russia was trying to topple the government in Kyiv.

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Russia's counter sanctions will hit 'weak spots' of US and its allies

Moscow will respond to the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over Russia's military operation in Ukraine, the head of the Russian Senate, Valentina Matviyenko, told journalists during her visit to Tajikistan on Friday, RT reported.

"As for the reciprocal sanctions... they are ready," Matviyenko said, adding that Russia's response would not mirror the restrictions imposed by Washington and its allies, but would instead hit the western nations where it hurts.

"We are well aware of the West's weak spots and we have drafted an entire package... a series of potential sanctions to be used against those nations that announced sanctions against Russia," the Senate head said, adding that "the West has many soft spots", the report said.

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US issues travel advisory on Ukraine, level 4 restrictions

US Department of State on Friday reissued the travel advisory for Ukraine and asked its citizens not to travel to the country.

"Do not travel to Ukraine due to armed conflict and Covid-19. US citizens in Ukraine should depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options," read the US Department of State release.

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Putin calls on Ukraine army to remove leadership in Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on the Ukrainian army to overthrow the government whose leaders he described as “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.

Putin also accused "Ukrainian nationalists" of deploying heavy weapons in residential areas of major cities to provoke the Russian military, a claim that could fuel fears Moscow is creating pretexts for justifying civilian casualties.

Addressing the Ukrainian military in a televised address, he urged them to "take power in your own hands."

"It seems like it will be easier for us to agree with you than this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis," he said, referring to leadership in Kyiv led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish.

Read the full story here.

‘Hands off Ukraine, we want peace not war’ say Ukrainian nationals outside Russian Consulate in Cape Town

Ukrainian, Russian and Italian citizens on Friday staged a protest outside the Russian Consulate in Cape Town against the Russian-led war happening in the Ukraine, calling for peace and an end to the war.

They say they are protesting and standing in solidarity with the people of the Ukraine who are currently under attack by the Putin-led Russian forces.

Yana Semenyuk, who is Ukrainian but has been living in South Africa for the last eight years, said she is protesting to support her country and her people.

“We are free and independent, no one can tell us otherwise, we don’t want war, we want peace.

Read the full story here.

Ukraine sees radiation spike in Chernobyl after Russia attack

Ukrainian authorities said Friday that radiation levels had increased in the Chernobyl exclusion zone and warned the seizure of the nuclear plant by invading Russian troops could have "terrible consequences."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered his troops to invade Ukraine and on the same day they seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in one of the most radioactive places on earth.

Read the full story here.

African Union leaders call for immediate ceasefire over Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The African Union (AU) has raised concern over Russia’s attack on Ukraine and called for an “immediate ceasefire” to avoid a "planetary conflict".

AU chair, Senegalese President Macky Sall, and AU Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a statement that they were “extremely concerned” by the invasion, adding that a very serious and dangerous situation was being created in the Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

Ukraine soldiers battle Russian troops in capital

Ukrainian forces fought off Russian troops in the streets of the capital Kyiv on Friday as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of targeting civilians and called for more international sanctions.

Pre-dawn blasts in Kyiv set off a second day of violence after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings to unleash a full-scale invasion on Thursday that quickly claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.

Read the full story here.

Formula 1 cancels Russian Grand Prix amid Ukraine crisis

Formula 1 on Friday announced that they have cancelled September's Russian Grand Prix amid the Ukraine crisis.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized Ukraine's breakaway regions — Donetsk and Luhansk — as independent entities. Later, Putin ordered special military operations "to protect" the people in the Donbas region.

Read the full story here.

In Kyiv's usually busy centre, Khreshatyk Avenue and Maidan Square, once the centre of the Euromaidan protests in 2013 against Russia's influence in Ukraine's politics, stand empty as the fighting with Russia draws closer.

Earlier, pre-dawn blasts in the capital set off a second day of violence after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings to unleash a full-scale invasion on Thursday that quickly claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.

Press spotlights appeal for evacuation by Nigerian students in Ukraine, others

The appeal by many Nigerians, mostly students, who are stranded in Ukraine due to the invasion by Russian soldiers is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Friday.

The Punch reports that several Nigerians – mostly students – who are in Ukraine are currently stranded as Russia continues to attack the eastern European nation.

Read the full story here.

A woman with two children and carrying bags walk on a street to leave Ukraine after crossing the Slovak-Ukrainian border in Ubla, eastern Slovakia, close to the Ukrainian city of Welykyj Beresnyj, on February 25, 2022, following Russia's invasion of the Ukraine.. (Photo by PETER LAZAR / AFP)

Fierce street battle as first Russian troops hit Kyiv

A dead man in civilian clothes lay sprawled on the sidewalk of a residential neighbourhood in northern Kyiv on Friday, as Ukrainian soldiers took up positions under the cover of a two-story building.

Two dozen metres away, medics were rushing to help another man, who had been driving a civilian car that was completely crushed under the tracks of an armoured vehicle.

Read the full story here.

Servicemen of the Ukrainian National Guard take positions in central Kyiv, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Russia ready for talks ’if Ukraine lays down arms’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday Moscow was ready for talks if Ukraine's military surrendered, as he insisted that invading forces were looking to free the country from “oppression”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “took the decision to conduct a special military operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine so that, freed from oppression, Ukrainians themselves could freely determine their future”, Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow.

Read the full story here.

Medics transport a person wearing a military uniform into an ambulance near a damaged unidentified military truck at a residential area in Kyiv, Ukraine February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Olga Yakimovich

Russia's invasion of Ukraine spreading beyond airspace closings over conflict zones

The fallout to the global aviation industry from Russia's invasion of Ukraine is spreading beyond the airspace closings over the conflict zone as airlines, lessors and manufacturers face up to growing risks of doing business with Russia.

Alaska's Anchorage Airport, a popular refuelling hub for long-haul flights when Western airlines were unable to access Russian airspace during the Cold War, said carriers had started making inquiries about capacity in case routes over Russia are affected by the Ukraine crisis.

Read the full story here.

It’s not an invasion - it’s a special military operation, says Russian Embassy in South Africa

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine cannot be classified as an invasion, but a special military operation to demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

Ukraine battles invading Russian forces in capital

Ukrainian forces fought off Russian invaders in the streets of the capital Kyiv on Friday as President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of targeting civilians and called for more international sanctions.

Pre-dawn blasts in Kyiv set off a second day of violence after Russian President Vladimir Putin defied Western warnings to unleash a full-scale invasion on Thursday that quickly claimed dozens of lives and displaced at least 100,000 people.

Read the full story here.

Here are some of the most striking images to have come out of Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country on Thursday morning, encompassing artillery bombardments, missile launches and air strikes across multiple towns and cities.

Press zooms in on President’s concern about evacuation of Ghanaians from Ukraine

The concern expressed by President Akufo-Addo about the impact of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on the safety and evacuation of Ghanaians dominates the headlines of Ghanaian press on Friday.

The Graphic reports that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed concern on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and also on oil prices. In that regard, he has urged students and other Ghanaians in Ukraine to seek help at government places of shelter.

Read the full story here.

Korean embassy in Ukraine urges remaining citizens to prepare for emergency

The Korean Embassy in Kyiv yesterday told its last remaining citizens in Ukraine to prepare for emergency situations as Russian forces are launching attacks on multiple fronts in Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

Russian forces approaching Kyiv from northeast and east: Ukraine army

Invading Russian forces are approaching Kyiv from the north and northeast, Ukraine's army said Friday, with rising fears the capital could fall on the second day of the Russian attack.

Russian soldiers are trying to "bypass" the northern city of Chernigiv -- where they were "rebuffed" by the Ukrainian army -- to attack Kyiv, the army said on Facebook, adding that the troops were advancing on the capital from the eastern city of Konotop, which they now control.

A man clears debris at a damaged residential building at Koshytsa Street, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where a military shell allegedly hit, on February 25, 2022. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

UEFA has confirmed this season’s Champions League final will no longer take place in Russia and will instead be held in France.

The final of Europe’s prestigious club competition was due to be played in St Petersburg on May 28. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced European football’s governing body to draw up new plans.

Ukrainian soldiers lay down arms and surrender during hostilities

In the midst of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Friday that more than 150 Ukrainian soldiers have laid down their arms and surrendered during Russia's operation in Ukraine.

According to Sputnik News, the operations took place in the area of the Zmiinyi Island, where the Ukrainian servicemen laid down their arms and voluntarily surrendered to a unit of the Russian armed forces.

Read the full story here.

Russia advances on Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pleads for help. VIDEO: Reuters

Ukrainian forces battled Russian invaders around nearly all of the country's perimeter on Thursday after Moscow mounted a mass assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two. Graphic: Reuters

Germany to offer troops, air defence systems, war ships to NATO -Der Spiegel

Germany plans to offer troops, air defence systems and war ships to NATO to strengthen its eastern flank after Russia invaded Ukraine, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday without providing sources.

Germany could send an infantry company with around 150 soldiers and more than a dozen Boxer wheeled armoured vehicles in a timely manner, according to a package that the military has put together for Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, the media outlet said.

Read the full story here.

Who are some of the high-profile Russians facing international sanctions?

The United States, Britain and the European Union all imposed new sanctions against Russia this week, in a coordinated bid to punish Moscow for its military invasion of Ukraine.

The measures target a range of companies, banks and powerful individuals in Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Read the full story here.

Explainer: Why Russia and Ukraine are fighting for Chernobyl disaster site

Russian and Ukrainian forces fought on Thursday for control of Chernobyl, the still radioactive site of the world's worst nuclear accident and a factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of1986 will not be repeated,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted before the defunct nuclear power plant, scene of a deadly fire and explosion in 1986, was captured by Russian forces.

Read the full story here.

A Ukrainian serviceman holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher at fighting positions outside the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Maksim Levin

How Russia-Ukraine conflict could influence South Africa’s food supplies

Wheat and other grains are back at the heart of geopolitics following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both countries play a major role in the global agricultural market. African leaders must pay attention.

There is significant agricultural trade between countries on the continent and Russia and Ukraine. African countries imported agricultural products worth $4-billion from Russia in 2020.

About 90% of this was wheat, and 6% was sunflower oil. Major importing countries were Egypt, which accounted for nearly half of the imports, followed by Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Read the full story here.

’I'm all for peace’, says Russian world No.1 Daniil Medvedev

Russian Daniil Medvedev said he wanted to promote peace around the world after a ’roller-coaster day’ when he was confirmed as the world's top tennis player and his country invaded Ukraine.

U.S. Open champion Medvedev, who took the court in Acapulco, Mexico, hours after Novak Djokovic's quarter-final loss in Dubai meant the Russian would replace him at the top of the men's rankings on Monday, said it was not easy watching the news.

Read the full story here.

People wait in a traffic jam as they leave the city of Kharkiv, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorised a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

Explainer: Everything you need to know about Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine so far

At least 137 people have been killed and scores more injured, some critical, in the wake of Russia's deadly attack on the Ukraine which began on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last night that 137 civilians and military personnel had been killed so far.

Read the full story here.

Ukrainian servicemen are seen next to a destroyed armoured vehicle, which they said belongs to the Russian army, outside Kharkiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Maksim Levin

This is how the Russian-Ukraine conflict affects Africa

No man qualifies as a statesman who is entirely ignorant of the problems of wheat - The words of the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates.

Wheat and other grains are back at the heart of geopolitics following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both countries play a major role in the global agricultural market. African leaders must pay attention.

There is significant agricultural trade between countries on the continent and Russia and Ukraine. African countries imported agricultural products worth US$4 billion from Russia in 2020.

About 90% of this was wheat, and 6% was sunflower oil. Major importing countries were Egypt, which accounted for nearly half of the imports, followed by Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Read the full story here.

WATCH: Loud explosions heard in central Kyiv as Russian army rolls towards Ukraine’s capital city

Two loud blasts were heard in central Kyiv early Friday, an AFP journalist said, as Russian troops push closer to the Ukrainian capital in an invasion of its Western-backed neighbour.

Ukraine's army said that Russia fired on civilian areas of Kyiv but that Ukraine's air defence systems repelled "two deadly gifts", according to a post on its verified Facebook page.

Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko said three people were injured with one in critical condition after "missile debris" hit a residential building.

Read the full story here.

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in central Saint Petersburg on February 24, 2022. (Photo by Sergei MIKHAILICHENKO / AFP)

Haas F1 team to drop Russian sponsor colours in Barcelona in Protest of Ukraine invasion

American Formula 1 team Haas will not sport the Russian colours of its title sponsor Uralkali during the last day of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Friday in protest at Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Haas, whose cars usually sport the blue, white and red colours of the Russian flag, "will present its VF-22 in a plain white livery, without the Uralkali branding, for the third and final day of testing" in Catalonia, the team said in a statement on Thursday.

Read the full story here.

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