- Russia announces temporary cease-fire in 2 cities to allow evacuations
- Russia blocks Facebook and Twitter
- NATO rejects Ukrainian no-fly zone, says it would drag the alliance into war
- US slams Russia at UN over its seizure of Ukraine nuclear plant
This article was last updated at 09:30 UTC/GMT
EU suspends Russia, Belarus from Council of the Baltic Sea States
The European Union said it had agreed with other members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) to suspend Russia and Belarus from the council’s activities.
“This decision is a part of the European Union’s and like-minded partners response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the involvement of Belarus in this unprovoked and unjustified aggression,” it said in a statement.
It said the suspension will “remain in force will remain in force until it is possible to resume cooperation based on respect for fundamental principles of international law.”
Russia is one of the co-founders of the council, and Belarus is a CBSS observer state. The body aims to promote regional cooperation.
Besides the EU, other members of the council are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden.
Russia says ring around Mariupol being tightened
Pro-Russian separatists are “continuing to tighten the encirclement ring around Mariupol,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashev.
Konashev also confirmed that the Russian forces declared a localized cease-fire was in effect in Mariupol and Volnovakha, with the humanitarian corridors and evacuation routes agreed with the Ukrainian side.
According to the spokesman, Russian forces are “conducting advancement on a wide front” in Ukraine.
Ukraine says over 60,000 men returned from abroad to fight
Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, said on Saturday that more than 60,000 Ukrainian men had returned from abroad to help defend their country against the Russian invasion.
He said their return enabled the formation of 12 more combat brigades.
Poland’s Border Guard said last Sunday that some 22,000 people had crossed into Ukraine since the preceding Thursday, when Russia invaded the country.
On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the first of 16,000 foreign fighters were making their way to Ukraine “to protect freedom and life for us, and for all.” That number has not been independently verified.
Russian, Ukrainian forces cease fire for humanitarian corridors
Starting 10 a.m. Moscow time (0700 UTC), Russian troops will stop firing to allow humanitarian corridors out of the Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha in the Donetsk region, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, has said the evacuation of civilians will begin at 0900 UTC, with Russia’s RIA news agency citing city authorities as saying the corridor will be open for five hours.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators had agreed to set up humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine badly hit by fighting. Another round of talks is expected this weekend.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a Ukrainian negotiator and advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said “humanitarian evacuation corridors are being prepared for opening.”
“The parties temporarily ceased fire in the area of the corridors,” he added.
The southeastern port city of Mariupol, home to around 450,000 people, has been encircled and under Russian fire for days. Its mayor said there was no more running water, electricity or heating.
According to RIA, Russia’s Defense Ministry said its troops will nonetheless continue a “broad offensive” in Ukraine.
PayPal shuts down services in Russia
The online payments company Paypal PayPal Holdings Inc. on Saturday joined many other financial and tech companies in suspending operations in Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters news agency reported.
The company’s president and CEO, Dan Schulman, said PayPal “stands with the international community in condemning Russia’s violent military aggression in Ukraine,” according to Reuters.
The company had already stopped accepting new users in Russia on Wednesday.
The move comes after Ukrainian government officials urged PayPal to drop its services in Russia and to help them raise money to support charities assisting the Ukrainian population.
PayPal said on Friday that it had succeeded in raising more than $150 million (€137 million) for such charities.
Russia working to encircle Kyiv and Kharkiv, says Ukrainian army
Russian troops are looking to encircle the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the eastern city of Kharkiv, the Ukrainian armed forces have said.
Russia’s offensive has entered its tenth day with aerial support and the use of high-precision weapons, a report from the Ukrainian forces said on Saturday, according to news agency dpa.
Russia also continued its attempt to reach the administrative borders of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as it looks to create a land corridor from Russian-annexed Crimea to the separatist regions, the report added.
Elon Musk says Starlink won’t block Russian news sources
Space X chief Elon Musk has said that his Starlink satellite internet provider will not block Russian news sources.
Musk claimed in a tweet that some countries, which did not include Ukraine, have told Starlink to block Russian news sources.
“We will not do so unless at gunpoint,” Musk said. “Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”
The tech mogul had on Thursday warned that Starlink internet service could be targeted by a Russian attack.
Musk had also recently sent Starlink antennas to Ukraine to help civilians stay online amid the invasion.
Musk’s statement comes as Russia blocked Facebook and passed a law that gave Moscow stronger powers to clamp down on independent journalism.
Journalists have also said that they were instructed by Russian authorities to only publish information based on official sources, which describe the war as a “special military operation” and claim it is intended to “liberate” Russian-speaking communities in Ukraine.
Singapore sanctions Russia
Singapore has announced sanctions against Moscow in the strongest stand on the Russian invasion of Ukraine by a Southeast Asian nation so far.
The sanctions include a ban on dealing with four Russian banks and an export ban on electronics, computers and military items as a response to what Singapore said was Russia’s “dangerous precedent” in Ukraine.
It is rare for the international shipping hub to impose sanctions of its own. However, Singapore said it would not allow the export of items that could inflict harm on or subjugate Ukrainians or help Moscow launch cyber attacks.
“We cannot accept the Russian government’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another sovereign state,” Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. “For a small state like Singapore, this is not a theoretical principle, but a dangerous precedent. This is why Singapore has strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack.”
UN Security Council to meet on humanitarian crisis
The United Nations Security Council will convene an emergency meeting on the humanitarian crisis triggered in Ukraine by the Russian invasion, diplomats said on Friday.
Following the public session scheduled for Monday, the 15 members of the Security Council will meet behind closed doors to mull over a possible draft resolution, news agency AFP reported, citing a diplomat.
The closed-door meeting has reportedly been proposed by Mexico and France.
The two countries have been pressing for a draft that urges an end to hostilities in Ukraine and calls for a flow of humanitarian aid and protection of civilians.
Russia, as a permanent member with the power to veto any Security Council resolution, is extremely unlikely to allow any resolution against it to pass.
Over 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.
Attacks on Kyiv and Mariupol
Several Ukrainian cities have come under renewed assault as the war enters into its second week.
The southeastern port city of Mariupol has been encircled and shelled. Mariupol is located on the Azov Sea coast, immediately west of the previous line of contact between Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces.
According to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko, the city had no water, heat or electricity and was running out of food after five days under attack. Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said Mariupol was “partially under siege.”
Meanwhile, Kyiv came under renewed assault and explosions could be heard from the city center. A Russian armored column had been stalled outside the city for days.
Arestovych said battles involving airstrikes and artillery continued northwest of Kyiv.
He added that the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka came under heavy fire.
Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Friday
Russia came under heavy criticism on Friday over shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Russian troops took control of the power plant after fighting early Friday morning.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed NATO for its decision not to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Knowing that new strikes and casualties are inevitable, NATO deliberately decided not to close the sky over Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a video published by the presidency.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation imposing harsh jail terms for publishing “fake news” about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The move led several news organizations to reevaluate their operations in Moscow. Other international news agencies, including DW, have been blocked inside Russia along with the social media networks Facebook and Twitter. The move has serious implications for Russians’ ability to access independent sources of information.
sdi/sms (AFP. AP. dpa, Reuters)