Latest Ukraine updates: Russian strikes destroy Vinnytsia airport

Ukraine-Russia news from March 6: Missile strikes have destroyed the international airport in Vinnytsia.

Smoke and flames engulf the Havryshivka Vinnytsia International Airport
The Havryshivka Vinnytsia International Airport has been hit by missiles [State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters]
  • A second attempt to evacuate an estimated 200,000 people out of Mariupol has come to a halt amid ongoing hostilities.
  • Missile strikes have destroyed the international airport in Vinnytsia.
  • More than 3,500 people have been detained at anti-war protests in Russia.
  • The Red Cross says the situation in Mariupol is extremely “dire”.
  • Mastercard, Visa and American Express announce they are suspending operations in Russia.
  • Ukraine’s foreign minister tells the US counterpart his country needs fighter jets and air defence systems and says NATO’s refusal to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine is a “sign of weakness”.
  • The IMF warns that the “serious” global economic effects of the war in Ukraine would be “more devastating” if the conflict escalates.

INTERACTIVE Russia-Ukraine map Who controls what in Ukraine DAY 11

This live blog is now closed, thanks for joining us. You can read the latest updates from March 7 here.

Here are the updates for March 6.

TikTok suspends posting of new videos from Russia

Social media giant TikTok has announced it is suspending the posting of all video content from Russia in order to keep its employees safe and comply with the country’s new regulations.

“In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law,” the company said on Twitter, adding that its in-app messaging service will not be affected.

Moscow on Friday signed into law a bill introducing jail terms of up to 15 years for what is deemed fake news about the Russian army.

Ukraine introduces export licences for key agricultural commodities

Ukraine has introduced export licences for its key agriculture commodities, Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted a government resolution as saying.

Traders will need licences to export wheat, corn, sunflower oil, poultry and eggs, the agency said.

Ukraine is among the world’s leading producers and exporters of grain and vegetable oils.

Sheltering in a hospital basement, Ukrainian kids long for home

Children who are too sick to go home or flee the capital are sheltering from Russian missiles in a Kyiv hospital.

Nadia Tymoshchuk, 14, is eager for yet another round of cancer treatment to end so she can go home to her pet turtle, and hug her brother and sister.

She has been battling gliosarcoma, a rare type of malignant brain cancer, since 2019.

Read the story here.

Blinken vows to support Moldova with inflow of refugees

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged US support to Moldova as it deals with an influx of refugees from Ukraine.

“We admire the generosity of hospitality, the willingness to be such good friends to people who are in distress, and, indeed, I want to do everything we can to help you deal with the burden that this has imposed,” Blinken said before heading to Lithuania.

More than 230,000 people are estimated to have fled into or passed through Moldova since the war began.

Bennett says Israel will try to mediate on Ukraine

Israel will continue trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine even if success seems unlikely, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said after returning from surprise talks in Moscow on Saturday.

In televised remarks to his cabinet, the prime minister said he had “the blessing and encouragement of all parties”.

Ukraine requested that Israel serve as an intermediary, citing the government’s good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow.

Bennett also spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whom he visited in Berlin on Saturday as well, and French President Emmanuel Macron, his office said.

American Express suspends operations in Russia and Belarus

American Express Co says it has suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus, following a similar move by fellow US payments firms Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc over the invasion of Ukraine.

Battles ongoing on Kyiv’s outskirts

Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in a long-range shelling war along the outskirts of the capital Kyiv, putting towns including Hostomel and Irpin in the line of fire.

Several buildings in Hostomel were on fire after being hit by air strikes. Both Russian and Ukrainian forces claim to control the area.

In the nearby town of Irpin, residents fled their homes after buildings were severely damaged. Civilians tried to get to the remains of a bridge leading to Kyiv over the Irpin River, which Ukrainian forces blew up last week to stall the Russian advance.

Civilians flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks
Civilians continue to flee from Irpin due to ongoing Russian attacks. [Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency]

IAEA alarmed over Russia’s takeover of nuclear plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been informed by Ukrainian authorities that the country’s largest nuclear plant is under the command of Russian forces, which took control of the site on Friday.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that while regular staff continued to operate the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the developments violated the safety “pillars” governing the management of nuclear sites.

Grossi said operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure. He added that Ukraine reported Russian forces had switched off some mobile networks and the internet so that reliable information from the site could not be obtained through the normal channels of communication.

Zhytomyr under heavy shelling as civilians pledge to fight

Civilians in Zhytomyr, 150 kilometres (93 miles) west of Kyiv, have pledged to remain and fight despite heavy Russian shelling that devastated dozens of buildings and killed several people, including children.

“It’s difficult for civilians to understand what was the purpose of these strikes,” Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reported, noting that the town is a few hundreds meters away from a military base.

“The anger here is unbearable,” she said as she walked through the rubble of one of the three residential areas that were flattened by the attacks. “People are really defiant … they are saying they are not going anywhere and if the Russians come we will fight them,” she added.

Residents in Zhytomyr look through the rubble.
Civilians in Zhytomyr have pledged to remain and fight. [Ukraine National Police/Handout via Reuters]

Sanctions on Russia not linked with Iran nuclear talks: Blinken

The sanctions imposed on Russia over its Ukraine invasion have nothing to do with a potential nuclear deal with Iran, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

The comment follows Russia’s demand on Saturday for written guarantees from Washington that its punitive measures would not harm cooperation on Iran.

In an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation show, Blinken said “the sanctions that have been put in place … on Russia have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal and the prospects of getting back into that agreement.

“These things are totally different and just are not, in any way, linked together,” he said.

More than 3,500 detained at anti-war protests in Russia

More than 3,500 people have been detained at protests across Russia against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to data provided by Russian authorities.

Russia’s interior ministry said 1,700 people had been detained in Moscow, 750 in St Petersburg and 1,061 in other cities.

The OVD-Info protest monitoring group said it had documented the detention of at least 2,578 people in 49 different cities.

The OVD-Info protest monitoring group said it had documented the arrest of at least 4,366 people in 56 cities.

See pictures here.

Russia warns against offering airfields to Ukraine

Any country offering its air fields to Ukraine for attacks on Russia may be considered as having entered the conflict, a Russia defence ministry spokesman has said.

“The use of the airfield networks of these countries to base Ukrainian military aircraft and their subsequent use against the Russian armed forces may be regarded as the involvement of these states in an armed conflict,” Interfax news agency quoted spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.

‘Very credible’ reports Russia committed war crimes, Blinken says

Washington has seen “very credible reports” that Russia has committed war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine, particularly in attacking civilians, Blinken said.

“We’ve seen very credible reports of deliberate attacks on civilians, which would constitute a war crime,” Blinken told CNN talk show State of the Union.

Russia has come under intense criticism for its assault on Ukrainian cities, in operations that Kyiv and Western governments say have included attacks on schools, hospitals and residential blocks.

On Thursday, Putin’s forces attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, triggering fears of a catastrophic atomic accident.

Putin blames Ukraine for failed civilian evacuations from Mariupol

In a telephone call with his French counterpart Macron, Putin has blamed Kyiv for failed civilian evacuations from Mariupol.

Putin “drew attention to the fact that Kyiv still does not fulfil agreements reached on this acute humanitarian issue,” according to a statement from the Kremlin, after two agreements to evacuate Mariupol fell though following allegations of ceasefire breaches.

Russian strike destroys Ukrainian airport: Zelenskyy

A civilian airport in Vinnytsia in central Ukraine has been destroyed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“I have just been informed about a missile strike on Vinnytsia. Eight rockets… The airport was completely destroyed,” he said.

Zelenskyy renewed his demand that Western powers enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent more Russian attacks.

“We repeat every day: close the sky over Ukraine. Close for all Russian missiles, for Russian combat aircraft, for all their terrorists,” he said.

Smoke rises from the Havryshivka Vinnytsia International Airport
The Havryshivka Vinnytsia International Airport has been destroyed in a Russian attack. [State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters]

UN says 364 civilian deaths confirmed so far

The United Nation’s human rights office says it has confirmed the deaths of 364 civilians in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

The Geneva-based office said that another 759 civilians had been injured as of midnight Saturday.

The rights office uses strict methodology and only reports casualties it has confirmed. It says it believes the real figures are considerably higher.

Sound of shelling and explosions heard in Orikhiv

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Orikhiv, said he heard shelling in proximity of the city, located along the humanitarian corridor supposed to allow safe passage to civilians from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia.

He added that a ceasefire scheduled to begin at noon local time had been broken.

“I can tell you in the past five minute [there was] an almighty large barrage of shells landing to the west of where we are now,” Stratford said reporting from the Zaporizhzhia region.

Mariupol evacuation halted for second time

A second attempt to evacuate around 200,000 civilians from a southern city under siege along designated humanitarian corridors has failed, the International Committee of Red Cross has said.

Evacuations from the port city of Mariupol were scheduled to begin at noon local time during a ceasefire, according to Ukrainian military authorities.

Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations were halted because of an ongoing assault. “There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom,“ he said on Telegram.

Pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine’s National Guard accused each other of failing to establish a humanitarian corridor. The Interfax news agency cited an official of the Donetsk separatist administration who accused the Ukrainian forces of failing to observe the limited ceasefire.

A first attempt at evacuating civilians from Mariupol and the nearby city of Volnovakha failed on Saturday.

Erdogan urges Putin to declare Ukraine ceasefire, sign peace deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged his Russian counterpart Putin to declare a ceasefire in Ukraine, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement, his office said.

In a statement after an hourlong phone call, the Turkish presidency said Erdogan told Putin that Turkey was ready to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, adding he stated that a ceasefire would ease concerns over the humanitarian situation.

“President Erdogan renewed his call of ‘let’s pave the way for peace together’,” his office said. “Erdogan emphasised the importance of taking urgent steps to achieve a ceasefire, open humanitarian corridors and sign a peace agreement.”

Turkey's President Erdogan
The two leaders also discussed bilateral ties between the two countries, Erdogan’s office said [Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Putin: Russia will halt military operation only if Ukraine ‘stops fighting’

President Putin has told Turkey’s Erdogan in a phone call that Russia would halt its military operation only if Ukraine stopped fighting and Moscow’s demands were met, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin said the operation was going according to plan and to schedule.

The Russian leader said he hoped Ukrainian negotiators would take a more constructive approach at talks and take into account the reality on the ground, the statement added.

Russia: More than 1,100 detained at Ukraine war protests

More than 1,100 people in cities across Russia have been detained at protests on Sunday against Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, a protest monitor said.

The OVD-Info group said by 2:20pm Moscow time (11:20 GMT) on Sunday, 1,103 people had been detained across 35 cities, bringing the total number of demonstrators detained to 9,472 since February 24, when President Putin ordered troops into Ukraine to carry out a “special operation”.

Read more here.

Blinken: US supports Moldova’s EU aspirations

Blinken has said Washington supports Moldova’s formal application to join the European Union in a fast-track bid to bolster its ties with the West.

Russia already has troops in the country of 2.6 million that are stationed in the disputed territory of Transnistria and are being closely watched as Putin presses ahead with the invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken, who is in Moldova to pledge US support to the small Western-leaning former Soviet republic which neighbours Ukraine, said it was vital to help Moldova achieve greater energy security to bolster its independence.

“We know also what can happen when any country is – and this is the case for many – overly reliant on others that prove in one way or another not to be reliable suppliers,” he told reporters at a news briefing.

Pope Francis: Ukraine conflict ‘not a military operation but a war’

Pope Francis has rejected Russia’s assertion that it is carrying out “a special military operation” in Ukraine, saying the country was being battered by war.

“In Ukraine, rivers of blood and tears are flowing. This is not only a military operation but a war which is leading to death, destruction and misery,” the pope said in his weekly address to crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican City.

Russia continues to deliver gas to Europe via Ukraine

Russia continues to deliver gas to Europe via Ukraine at normal levels, according to state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

“Gazprom carries out the supply of Russian gas for transit through the territory of Ukraine in the regular scale and according to the requirements of European consumers,” Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax.

Some 109.5 million cubic metres of gas was to flow on Sunday, Interfax reported.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Western countries have imposed tough sanctions on Russia, with many fearing that Moscow might cut off gas deliveries in retaliation.

Could Russia’s invasion of Ukraine trigger a global food crisis?

UN refugee chief: ‘We need a ceasefire’

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Korczowa at the Ukrainian-Polish border, where he met arriving refugees, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi has welcomed the announcement about the opening of humanitarian corridors but said that was not enough.

“We need more than that,” he said. “We need a ceasefire, we need a cessation of hostilities so that people can stop moving and even go back to their homes perhaps, but under the circumstances, they are all telling me they are afraid too much.”

Grandi said it was “very difficult” to listen to the refugees’ stories.

“Days and days of travel in the cold from their bombed cities to seek safety here in Poland, I saw the same in Moldova, Romania, it’s all over, but Poland is taking the brunt of this enormous avalanche of people,” he said.

Grandi lamented that the war had now caused more than 1.5 million to flee Ukraine, adding that all signs indicated that the flow of people would increase in the coming days.

“What we hear is that hundreds of thousands are on the move,” he said. “If bombs continue to rain on cities, people will leave,” he added.

France urges UK to do more to help Ukraine refugees in Calais

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has urged the United Kingdom to do more to help Ukrainian refugees stuck in the French port of Calais, saying UK officials were turning many away due to not having the necessary visas or paperwork.

“I have twice contacted my British counterpart, I told her to set up a consulate in Calais,” Darmanin told Europe 1 radio, referring to British Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“We have good relations with [Patel]. I am sure she is a decent person. I am sure she will solve this problem,” he added.

Darmanin said hundreds of Ukrainian refugees had arrived at Calais in the last few days, hoping to join their families in the UK, but that many had been turned away by British officials and told to obtain visas at UK consulates in Paris or Brussels.

Ukraine president: Russia preparing to bombard Odesa

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has said Russian forces were preparing to bombard the city of Odesa on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

“Rockets against Odesa? This will be a war crime,” he said in a televised address.

Read more here.

Putin warns Western powers against imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine

Israel’s Bennett returns from Moscow, speaks to Zelenskyy again

Bennett has spoken to Ukrainian leader Zelenskyy, their third conversation in two days, a spokesperson of the Israeli prime minister said, without giving further details.

On Saturday, Bennett’s office said he made a surprise visit to Moscow to discuss the Ukraine crisis with Putin.

Israel's PM Bennett with Putin
At Ukraine’s behest, Israel has offered mediation to resolve the crisis [AP Photo]

More than 1.5 million refugees flee Ukraine in past 10 days: UN

The number of people fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has topped 1.5 million, making it Europe’s “fastest growing refugee crisis” since World War II, the United Nations has said.

“More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days — the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II,” it said in a statement on Twitter.

64 detained at anti-war protests in Russia: Monitor

At least 64 people have been detained at anti-war protests in Russia’s Far East and eastern Siberia, OVD-Info protest monitor said.

According to OVD-Info, people were detained at protests in the port city of Vladivostok and the Siberian city of Irkutsk, Reuters news agency reported.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the information.

UK deputy prime minister: Ukraine conflict to last months, if not years

The conflict in Ukraine will last months, if not years, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab says, and international allies need to show “strategic stamina” to ensure Putin fails.

“Our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine, and it’s going to take some time,” Raab told Sky News.

Russia: Ukrainian military airbase hit with long-range weapons

Russia’s defence ministry says it struck and disabled Ukraine’s Starokostiantyniv military airbase with long-range high-precision weapons.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “On the morning of March 6, strikes were carried out by high-precision long-range weapons. The Ukrainian air force base near Starokostiantyniv was disabled.”

He said a Ukrainian-controlled S-300 missile system had also been destroyed and that Russia downed 10 Ukrainian planes and helicopters over the past 24 hours.

Mariupol to attempt civilian evacuation

The Ukraine port city of Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian troops, said it will restart efforts to evacuate its civilian population after earlier efforts were scuppered by ceasefire violations.

“From 1200 (1000 GMT) the evacuation of the civilian population begins,” city officials said in a statement, which said a ceasefire had been agreed with Russian-led forces surrounding the city.

WHO chief: Ukraine health centres attacked

The World Health Organization has confirmed “several” attacks on health care centres in Ukraine and is investigating others, the agency’s chief says.

The attacks caused multiple deaths and injuries, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added in a Twitter message.

“Attacks on healthcare facilities or workers breach medical neutrality and are violations of international humanitarian law,” he said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Tedros did not mention Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24 [AFP]

Ukraine: More than 11,000 Russian troops killed

More than 11,000 Russian troops have been killed since Moscow launched an invasion into Ukraine on February 24, the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff said.

A day earlier, the Ukrainian army put Russian casualties at more than 10,000 but did not report Ukrainian casualties.

Humanitarian situation in Mariupol ‘dire’

The humanitarian situation in Mariupol is extremely “dire” with a huge displacement of people, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned, adding that many people are stranded in shelters without food, water or electricity.

Mirella Hodeib, ICRC Ukraine, told Al Jazeera: “The safe passage for civilians is a guarantee under international humanitarian law. The ICRC welcomes any initiative to offer respite to civilians fleeing the conflict.”

“The parties in the conflict are in negotiation now. The ICRC is willing to facilitate the movement of civilians who wish to do so. We are ready once agreement based strictly on humanitarian terms is reached,” Hodeib added.

UK intelligence: Russia targeting populated areas

British military intelligence says Russian forces were targeting populated areas in Ukraine but that the strength of resistance slowed their advance.

“The scale and strength of Ukrainian resistance continue to surprise Russia,” it said in an update, adding that Moscow “has responded by targeting populated areas in multiple locations, including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol.”

“Russia has previously used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions,” the update said.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that it is targeting civilian areas.

US, Poland exploring deal to provide Soviet-era warplanes to Ukraine

The US is holding talks with Poland about supplying warplanes to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing US officials.

The American officials said the US could provide a number of F-16s to Poland, while Warsaw could supply Kyiv with Soviet-era warplanes. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has told members of the US Congress in a video call that Kyiv urgently needs fighter jets.

Stressing that details such as how the planes will be delivered to Ukraine are still being studied, the officials said Congress is ready to approve the agreement as soon as it is reached.

Ukraine tennis star Yastremska: ‘Spirit strong’ after reaching Lyon final

Ukrainian tennis player Dayana Yastremska, who was forced to flee her home last week, said her spirit was strong after reaching the final of the Lyon Open.

The world number 128 beat Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 over the course of two hours 31 minutes in a hard-fought victory at the WTA 250 event on Saturday.

The 21-year-old and her younger sister Ivanna spent two nights in an underground car park last week before their parents sent them out of Ukraine by boat to Romania and then on to France.

Ukrainian tennis player Dayana Yastremska
On Sunday, Yastremska will face China’s Zhang Shuai in a bid to win her first title since her triumph at Strasbourg in 2019 [Francois Nel/Getty]

Putin: Ukraine’s resistance threatens its statehood

Putin has warned Ukraine that its statehood is in jeopardy.

“If they continue to do what they are doing… they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood,” he said on Saturday during a televised meeting with flight attendants from Russian airline Aeroflot.

“And if this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience.”

INTERACTIVE- Where are Ukrainians fleeing to DAY 11

Ukraine official hopeful of humanitarian corridor out of Kharkiv

The head of the Ukrainian delegation for talks with Russia is hopeful a humanitarian corridor out of the eastern city of Kharkiv could open on Sunday.

“God willing” there will be a corridor on Sunday, negotiator David Arachamija wrote on Facebook, responding to a comment that he should listen and agree to a ceasefire with Russia. The commenter was from Kharkiv and said she had experienced “10 days of hell”.

Ukrainian and Russian representatives last met in western Belarus on Thursday and agreed to have humanitarian corridors in place.

US officials travel to Venezuela, a Russia ally, for talks: Report

Senior US officials have travelled to Venezuela to meet President Nicolas Maduro’s government and find out if Caracas is prepared to back away from its close ties to Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter, Reuters news agency reported.

The trip is the highest-level US visit to Venezuela in years after the two countries broke diplomatic relations amid a campaign of US sanctions and diplomatic pressure aimed at removing Maduro, a longtime Putin ally.

A woman takes part in an anti-war protest in front of the Russian embassy in Chile.
People attend an anti-war protest in front of the Russian embassy in Santiago, Chile [Pablo Sanhueza/Reuters]

Ukraine says Russia wants to seize power station dam

The Ukrainian army says Russian forces want to seize the dam of a key hydroelectric power station south of the capital, Kyiv.

In a report issued early on Sunday, the Ukrainian army said Russia planned to seize the Kaniv hydroelectric power station’s dam, some 150km (93 miles) south of Kyiv on the Dnieper River.

Russian forces have destroyed, attacked or captured several energy facilities, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia.

China opposes moves that ‘add fuel to flames’ in Ukraine

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told US Secretary of State Blinken in a phone call on Saturday that China opposes any moves that “add fuel to the flames” in Ukraine.

Wang called for negotiations to resolve the immediate crisis, the Chinese foreign ministry said, and talks on creating a balanced European security mechanism, paying attention to the negative effect of NATO’s eastwards expansion on Russia’s security.

China has broken with the US, Europe and others that have imposed sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. It says the sovereignty of nations should be respected, but that sanctions create new issues and disrupt the process of political settlement.

The US state department said Blinken underscored that the world is acting in unison in response to Russian aggression.

Biden welcomes Visa, Mastercard decisions on Russia

US President Joe Biden, in a call with Zelenskyy, has welcomed decisions by Visa and Mastercard to suspend their operations in Russia, says the White House.

“President Biden noted his administration is surging security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding,” a White House readout of the call said.

A Polish firefighter helps a Ukrainian child get off a bus.
A Polish firefighter helps a child off a bus after fleeing the Russian invasion at the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland [Yara Nardi/Reuters]

Biden speaks with Ukraine’s Zelenskyy: White House

President Biden has spoken with Zelenskyy, says the White House, adding the call lasted for about 30 minutes.

Zelenskyy also tweeted about it, saying he discussed security, financial support for Ukraine and continuation of sanctions against Russia with Biden.

“As part of the constant dialogue, I had another conversation with the President,” Zelenskyy posted.

US comments on new Russian media law

The US has condemned a new law in Russia that threatens jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading what the Kremlin calls “fake news” and urged continued action across sectors to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“We condemn the move by the Russian Federation Council to approve a law threatening prison sentences of up to 15 years for journalists,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement.

The new Russian law makes it illegal to report any event that could discredit the country’s military.

Zelenskyy: Ukraine to get more Starlink terminals

Zelenskyy says he has spoken to SpaceX’s Elon Musk and agreed Ukraine will receive more Starlink satellite internet terminals next week.

“Talked to Elon Musk. I’m grateful to him for supporting Ukraine with words and deeds,” Zelenskyy tweeted.

Musk on Thursday said Starlink was the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine.

Mastercard, Visa suspend operations in Russia

Mastercard and Visa are suspending their operations in Russia, they said, the latest blow to the country’s financial system.

Mastercard said cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by its network and cards issued outside Russia will not work at Russian stores or ATMs. It added that it made the move after discussions with customers, partners and governments.

Visa said it is working with clients and partners in Russia to cease all Visa transactions in the coming days.

Canada advises citizens to leave Russia

Canada has told its citizens to leave Russia “while commercial means are still available”, saying security conditions were unpredictable and could deteriorate without notice.

“Flight availability is becoming extremely limited … The ability of our embassy to provide consular services in Russia may become severely limited,” Canada’s foreign ministry said in a travel advisory.

Canada, like many other Western nations, imposed broad sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian negotiator: Russia realising ‘real cost of war’

Talks with Russia are becoming “constructive,” a Ukrainian negotiator said, describing what he sees as a shift in Moscow’s attitude towards Ukrainian resistance and biting international sanctions.

“At the very start of the war, they were insisting on total domination. They weren’t expecting that Ukraine would deliver such severe resistance,” Mykhailo Podolyak told The Globe and Mail.

“They are starting to realise the real price of war only now. And now we are starting to have constructive negotiations,” added the official, who participated in the first two rounds of talks between Russia and Ukraine. A third session of talks is scheduled for Monday, according to the Ukrainian delegation.

Humanitarian situation ‘catastrophic’ in Mariupol: MSF

A senior official from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has warned that the humanitarian situation in the besieged southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is “catastrophic” and it is vital that civilians be evacuated.

“It is imperative that this humanitarian corridor, which could have been created today but which has not really been put in place following non-respect of the ceasefire, is put in place very quickly to allow the civilian population, women and children, to get out of this city,” MSF’s emergency coordinator in Ukraine, Laurent Ligozat, told the AFP news agency.

He said a lack of drinking water, food, electricity and heating is becoming critical in the city.

INSIDE STORY: Could Russia’s invasion of Ukraine trigger a global food crisis?

Russia’s war on Ukraine has created fears of a global food crisis. The two countries supply a third of the world’s wheat and are major exporters of barley, corn and sunflower oil.

Fighting has disrupted exports, leading to record prices for the staples. Many countries in the Middle East and Africa, such as Egypt and Yemen, depend on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine.

So, will the higher prices put global food security at risk?

‘Relentless’ Russian shelling in Mariupol: Mayor

Russian forces have intensified shelling in the port city of Mariupol, including the use of planes to bomb residential areas, Mayor Vadym Boychenko says.

Boychenko said thousands of children, women and the elderly came under fire as they arrived in the morning for a possible evacuation. Russia had promised to stop shelling Mariupol and Volnovakha in the east to allow the evacuation but it accused Ukrainian forces of violating the ceasefire.

Capturing Mariupol, which has been fending off the attack for six days, could allow Russia to build a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Israeli PM meets Putin in Moscow

Bennett has met Putin in the Kremlin to discuss the war in Ukraine; he later spoke by phone with Zelenskyy, Israeli prime minister’s spokesperson said.

After his meeting with Putin, Bennett headed to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Scholz, his spokesperson said.

French President Macron had spoken to Bennett to brief him on his conversations with Putin before he flew to Moscow, the Elysée Palace said.

Israel, at the behest of Zelenskyy, has offered to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, though officials have previously played down expectations of any breakthrough.

Hundreds of foreign students trapped in Sumy

At least 1,500 international students are trapped in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy, as shelling from the Russian army continues for a tenth day after humanitarian corridors failed.

The situation is increasingly desperate as the water has been cut to the city for three days and food supplies are dwindling.

“We are really demoralised, everybody wants to go home,” Precious Ogunbayo, a 21-year-old medical student from Nigeria, told Al Jazeera. “We keep asking for help, but it’s not coming.”

Read more here.

Russia-Ukraine conflict escalation ‘devastating’: IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that the already “serious” global economic impacts of the war in Ukraine would be “all the more devastating” if the conflict escalates.

A surge in energy and commodity prices, with oil now close to $120, have piled on the inflation the world was already experiencing as economies recover from the COVID pandemic.

“Price shocks will have an impact worldwide, especially on poor households for whom food and fuel are a higher proportion of expenses,” the IMF said in a statement.

Ukraine FM asks Blinken for jets, air defence systems

Ukraine’s foreign minister has told his US counterpart in a face-to-face meeting that his country needs fighter jets and air-defence systems and called NATO’s refusal to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine a “sign of weakness”.

“It’s no secret that the highest demand that we have is in fighter jets, attack aircraft, and air-defence systems,” Dmytro Kuleba said he told Blinken in talks at the Ukraine-Poland border.

The demands came after Moscow resumed its offensive on the key city of Mariupol after a temporary ceasefire failed amid allegations of violations by Russia and Ukraine.

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Show of support: Blinken meets Ukraine FM Kuleba

Blinken met Kuleba on the Poland-Ukraine border on day 10 of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.

The two spoke for 45 minutes under high security at a border crossing full of refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, discussing more arms for Kyiv’s military and how to keep up global pressure on Moscow.

“I hope the people of Ukraine will be able to see this as a clear manifestation that we have friends who literally stand by us,” Kuleba said after they met at Korczowa-Krakovets.

Blinken said Ukraine is “going to prevail”.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Read all the updates from Saturday, March 5, here.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies