Table of Contents
- Missiles hit oil facility in town of Vasylkiv near Kyiv, residents in capital seek shelter amid Russian troop advances.
- The UN humanitarian agency reports 240 civilian casualties, including 64 people killed, in the fighting in Ukraine that erupted since Russia’s invasion.
- Western allies announced further sanctions on Russia, including cutting off a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank payments system.
- Western nations pledge to facilitate the delivery of military aid to Ukraine.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the country’s forces “have withstood and successfully repelled enemy attacks”.
- More than 150,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since the beginning of Moscow’s assault, the UN says.
Here are the latest updates:
SWIFT preparing to comply with curbs on Russian banks
The SWIFT international payments system has said it was preparing to implement Western nations’ new measures targeting certain Russian banks in coming days.
“We are engaging with European authorities to understand the details of the entities that will be subject to the new measures and we are preparing to comply upon legal instruction,” it said in a statement.
Ukraine says Russian troops blow up gas pipeline in Kharkiv
Russian troops have blown up a natural gas pipeline in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s state service of special communications and information protection has said.
A mushroom-shaped explosion was shown in a video it posted on the Telegram messaging app.
It was not immediately clear how important the pipeline was and whether the blast could disrupt gas shipments outside the city or the country. Despite the war, Ukraine continues to ship Russian natural gas to Europe.
Ukraine roads company removing road signs to confuse Russians
A Ukrainian company in charge of building and maintaining roads has said it was removing all road signs that could be used by invading Russian forces to find their way around the country.
“The enemy has poor communications, they cannot navigate the terrain,” the company Ukravtodor said in a Facebook update. “Let us help them get straight to hell.”
It posted an edited photo of a standard road sign in which directions to nearby cities have been replaced with profanities.
‘It was hell’: Long lines of Ukrainian refugees at Poland border
Polish government said more than 115,000 Ukrainian refugees have crossed over, most from the main border crossing of Medyka.
Read more here.
Town near Ukraine’s Kyiv hit by missiles, oil terminal on fire
Russian missiles have hit the Ukrainian town of Vasylkiv southwest of the capital, Kyiv, setting an oil terminal ablaze, the town’s mayor said in a video posted online.
“The enemy wants to destroy everything around,” said the mayor, Natalia Balasinovich.
At least 64 civilians killed in Ukraine, UN says
The United Nations said it has confirmed at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 people killed, in the fighting in Ukraine that erupted since Russia’s invasion, though it believed the “real figures are considerably higher” because many reports of casualties remain to be confirmed.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) relayed the count from the UN human rights office, which has strict methodologies and verification procedures about the toll from conflict.
OCHA also said damage to civilian infrastructure has deprived hundreds of thousands of people of access to electricity or water, and produced a map of “humanitarian situations” in Ukraine – mostly in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine.
Details of financial sanctions are ‘all that matters’
Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington DC, said the decision by Western allies to cut Russia out of the SWIFT global payment system may affect some European countries.
“When it comes to financial sanctions, the details are really all that matters,” she said.
“The key here is how many banks are they going to go after – are they going to go after the truly powerful ones,” Culhane said.
“Cutting some banks off would be very bad for those banks … can they do it so that it’s not so bad for the European economy,” she added.
Britain said that Russian forces have restricted access to a number of social media platforms in an attempt to conceal details about the situation in Ukraine from their own people.
“Russian forces are sustaining casualties and a number of Russian troops have been taken prisoner by Ukrainian forces,” the Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence update. “They are suffering from logistical challenges and strong Ukrainian resistance.”
Ukrainian tennis player Yastremska flees to safety in France
Ukrainian tennis star Dayana Yastremska has fled her native country and is now safe in France, the 21-year-old said in a social media post.
Yastremska, who has won three WTA titles and been ranked as high as world number 21, said she left Odesa with her younger sister with help from their parents.
“Tired, but my sister and I are safe!” she posted in an Instagram story, which showed their arrival in Romania en route to France. “Thank you France. Ukraine stay strong. We miss you Home, Mum and Dad.”
UN to launch appeal to fund humanitarian operations in Ukraine
Secretary-General António Guterres has announced that the United Nations will launch an appeal to fund its humanitarian operations in Ukraine.
A UN spokesperson said Guterres spoke with Zelenskyy over the phone.
“The Secretary-General conveyed to the President the determination of the United Nations to enhance humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.
SWIFT sanctions seek to block Putin from using reserves for Ukraine attack, US official says
The United States and its allies are “disarming Fortress Russia” with new sanctions that cut off key banks from the SWIFT financial transactions network and target Russia’s central bank, a senior Biden administration official has said.
The actions are aimed at preventing Russian President Vladimir Putin from using $630bn in central bank foreign currency reserves in the invasion of Ukraine and to defend a plunging rouble.
“Putin’s government is getting kicked off the international financial system,” the official said.
Ukraine is grateful for financial sanctions imposed on Russia, PM says
Ukraine is grateful for the latest round of financial sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and its allies, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has said in a Twitter post.
“Thanks to our friends … for the commitment to remove several Russian banks from SWIFT” and for “the paralysis of the assets of the central bank of Russia,” he said.
Grateful for our friends from ???????????? for:
– commitment to removal of several Russian banks from #SWIFT;
– paralysis the assets of #Russia’s central bank;
– prohibition for Russian oligarchs to use their financial assets on Euroatlantic markets.
— Denys Shmyhal (@Denys_Shmyhal) February 26, 2022
PM Johnson says UK and allies have taken decisive action against Russia over SWIFT
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the United Kingdom and its allies had taken “decisive action” to shut Russia out of the global financial system by cutting its banks’ access to the SWIFT international payment system.
“We have taken decisive action tonight with our international partners to shut Russia out of the global financial system, including the important first step of ejecting Russian banks from SWIFT,” Johnson said on Twitter.
“We will keep working together to ensure Putin pays the price for his aggression.”
We have taken decisive action tonight with our international partners to shut Russia out of the global financial system, including the important first step of ejecting Russian banks from SWIFT.
We will keep working together to ensure Putin pays the price for his aggression.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 26, 2022
What is SWIFT, the global payment system?
The European Union, along with the US and other Western partners, has announced further sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, including cutting off a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank payments system.
Ejecting it from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network would cripple Moscow’s ability to trade with most of the world and deal a heavy blow to the Russian economy.
Click here to read Al Jazeera’s explainer.
Russia closes airspace to carriers from Baltics, Slovenia
Russia has closed its airspace to flights operated by carriers from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia in tit-for-tat punitive measures.
“Air carriers of these states and/or registered in them are subject to restrictions on flights to destinations on the territory of the Russian Federation, including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation,” the federal air transport agency Rosaviation said.
Germany and Western allies agree cutting Russia out of SWIFT
Germany and its Western allies have agreed to cut Russia out of the SWIFT global payment system, a spokesperson for the German government said, in a third sanctions package aimed at halting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions, agreed with the US, France, Canada, Italy, the UK and the European Commission also include limiting the ability of Russia’s central bank to support the rouble.
They will also end the “golden passports” for wealthy Russians and their families, and will target individuals and institutions in Russia and elsewhere that support the war against Ukraine, the spokesperson said.
“The countries stressed their willingness to take further measures should Russia not end its attack on Ukraine and thus on the European peace order,” he added.
Macron asks for ‘withdrawal of Russian troops’ from Belarus
France’s President Emmanuel Macron has asked his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko to ensure the “withdrawal of Russian troops” from Belarus, the French presidency said.
The president asked the Belarus leader “to demand as soon as possible the withdrawal of Russian troops from his soil,” and urged him to cooperate with the international community to allow humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people, it said in a statement.
EU announces new Russia sanctions with US and others, including SWIFT
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that the EU, along with the US and other Western partners, plans to impose further sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, including cutting off a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank payments system.
UK Johnson says pressure building to cut Russia off from SWIFT
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that the world should cut Russia off from the global SWIFT payments system and said more countries supported such a move.
“What you have seen just today is more countries joining the call of the UK to use SWIFT,” Johnson said. He said more countries had said they would not block cutting Russia off from SWIFT.
“Things are not going all the way President Putin,” Johnson said of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Greece says 10 nationals killed in Ukraine
Athens says that 10 Greek nationals have been killed and six others wounded by Russian bombing near the key southeastern port city of Mariupol in Ukraine.
“Ten innocent civilians of Greek origin [were] killed today by Russian air strikes close to Mariupol. Stop the bombing now!” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a tweet.
The bombing took place on the outskirts of the villages of Sartana and Bugas, and one of the injured was a child, Greece’s Foreign Ministry said.
Russian army ordered to broaden Ukraine advance
The Russian army has been given orders to broaden its offensive in Ukraine “from all directions” after Kyiv refused to hold talks in Belarus, the defence ministry said.
Russian forces have made thrusts into the Ukrainian capital Kyiv before reportedly falling back to the outskirts, facing tough resistance on day three of the invasion.
“After the Ukrainian side rejected the negotiation process, today all units were given orders to develop the advance from all directions in accordance with the operation’s plans,” Russian Army Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
Russian military convoys ‘flooding’ across the Russia-Ukraine border
Al Jazeera’s Rania Dridi, reporting from the city of Volgograd, in southwestern Russia, says military units in the area are being deployed across the border with Ukraine.
“Convoys of Russian military gear continue to flood across the Russia-Ukraine border; armoured gear and vehicle-mounted missiles,” Dridi said.
“The convoys will take part in the ongoing military operations, the fiercest of which is currently raging on the Donbas front,” she added, citing the region in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists control swaths of territory.
“This scene is repeated elsewhere as other convoys are crossing the borderline into Ukraine on other roads.”
People in Ukraine’s capital take cover as Russians approach
People in Ukraine have sought safety underground as Russian troops closed in on Kyiv and skirmishes flared on the city’s outskirts.
The assault on Kyiv was clouded by a curfew set to last through Monday morning, but the relative quiet of the night in the capital was sporadically broken by gunfire.
“We will fight for as long as needed to liberate our country,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised, as he continued to press for additional international help.
Small groups of Russian troops were reported inside Kyiv, but the UK and the US said the bulk of Russian forces were 30km (19 miles) from the city’s centre.
Lufthansa halts flights to Russia for a week
German airline Lufthansa has said it will cancel all flights to Russia and will cease using Russian airspace for the coming week, citing the “emerging regulatory situation”.
“Flights that are in Russian airspace will leave it again shortly,” a spokesperson for the company said, adding that the company was in close contact with national and international authorities and would continue to monitor the situation closely.
From Berlin to Sydney, global outpouring of support for Ukraine
In a sea of blue and yellow flags and banners smeared with blood-red handprints, protesters around the world have shown support for Ukraine and called on governments to do more to help Kyiv, punish Russia and avoid a broader conflict.
Several hundred people marched through heavy rain in Sydney chanting “Ukraine will prevail”, while protesters in Tokyo called for Russia to be expelled from the United Nations Security Council for the assault on its neighbour.
Thousands of people also took to the streets in Europe, with protesters – including many Ukrainians living abroad – in London, Nicosia, Berlin, Athens, Helsinki, Madrid and Milan draping themselves in flags and holding “stop the war” placards.
Other protests took place in Latin America, India, Turkey, as well as Russia, where more than 3,000 people have been detained.
Read the updates from Saturday here.