Live updates on Russian invasion of Ukraine: Putin orders nuclear deterrence forces on high alert

Live updates on Russian invasion of Ukraine: Putin orders nuclear deterrence forces on high alert
Live Story
27 February, 2022

Street fighting broke out early on Sunday in Kharkiv as Russian troops pushed into Ukraine’s second-largest city, according to a regional official, following a wave of attacks elsewhere targeting airfields and fuel facilities that appeared to mark a new phase of an invasion that has been slowed by fierce resistance.

Russian troops approached Kharkiv, about 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) south of the border with Russia, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. But until Sunday, they remained on the outskirts of the city of 1.4 million without trying to enter while other forces rolled past, pressing their offensive deeper into Ukraine.

Early on Sunday, Russian troops moved in and were engaged by Ukrainian forces, said Oleh Sinehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional administration, who told civilians not to leave their homes. He gave no further details.

Videos posted on Ukrainian media and social networks showed Russian vehicles moving across Kharkiv and a light vehicle burning on the street.

Elsewhere, huge explosions lit up the sky early on Sunday south of the capital, Kyiv, where people hunkered down in homes, underground garages and subway stations in anticipation of a full-scale assault by Russian forces.

Flames billowed into the sky before dawn from an oil depot near an air base in Vasylkiv, where there has been intense fighting, according to the town’s mayor. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office said another explosion was at the civilian Zhuliany airport.

Zelenskyy’s office also said Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, prompting the government to warn people to protect themselves from the smoke by covering their windows with damp cloth or gauze.

“We will fight for as long as needed to liberate our country,” Zelenskyy vowed.

The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 

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6:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

The New Arab concludes its live coverage of the latest from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Here's a recap of the latest major developments from Sunday:

Putin puts nuclear forces on alert

NATO slams Russian President Vladimir Putin for putting his nuclear forces on alert, saying it was dangerous and "irresponsible", with the White House claiming he was again "manufacturing threats that don't exist in order to justify further aggression".

Russians driven from Kharkiv

Ukraine claims to have expelled Russian troops from its second city Kharkiv in the east of the country after Russian armoured vehicles got through its defences.

Kyiv holds out

Ukraine says it is holding the line around the capital Kyiv but was fighting Russian "sabotage groups" that had infiltrated the city.

Talks near Chernobyl

Ukraine agrees to hold talks with Russia at its border with Belarus - near the Chernobyl exclusion zone - after a call between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Kremlin's big push

The talks come as Russia orders an advance "from all directions". It claims to have besieged the southern cities of Kherson close to Crimea and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov.

Russians 'lack momentum'

But Washington says the invading forces have lost "momentum over the last 24 hours" after meeting stiff resistance and still have not gained air superiority.

Nearly 400,000 refugees

The UN's refugee agency says tens of thousands are fleeing the fighting, with most crossing into Poland as the total tally reaches 400,000. Others are seeking shelter in Hungary, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia.

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5:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Kyiv's mayor: 'We are encircled' but full of fight

As Russian troops draw closer to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv's mayor is both filled with pride over his citizens' spirit and anxious about how long they can hold out.

In an interview with The Associated Press, after a gruelling night of Russian attacks on the outskirts of the city, mayor Vitali Klitschko was silent for several seconds when asked if there were plans to evacuate civilians if Russian troops managed to take Kyiv.

"We can't do that, because all ways are blocked," he said. "Right now we are encircled."

The mayor confirmed to the AP that nine civilians in Kyiv had been killed so far, including one child.

A Klitschko-ordered curfew began about sundown on Saturday and is to extend until at least 8 a.m. Monday. His order pointedly stated that any unauthorised person outside could be considered a saboteur.

"We are hunting these people, and it will be much easier if nobody is on the street," Klitschko explained, saying that six Russian "saboteurs" were killed Saturday night.

Russian troops' advance on the city has been slower than many military experts had expected.

"I just talked to the president (Volodymyr Zelenskyy). Everybody is not feeling so well," Klitschko said, adding that the Ukrainian city government employees were in shock but not depressed.

"We show our character, our knowledge, our values."

Vitali Klitschko [Getty]
5:35 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sweden to send arms to Ukraine in break with tradition: PM

Sweden has announced it will break its doctrine of not sending arms to countries in active conflict and send military equipment, including anti-tank launchers, to Ukraine.

The decision to send 135,000 field rations, 5,000 helmets, 5,000 pieces of body armour and 5,000 single use anti-tank launchers is the first time Sweden has sent weapons to a country in armed conflict since the Soviet Union invaded Finland in 1939, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters on Sunday.

5:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine pulls out World Fencing Championship to avoid Russia

Ukrainian fencers withdrew from the world championships to avoid facing Russia, instead brandishing signs saying "Stop the war! Save Ukraine!" at the competition in Cairo.

The teams of the two countries were due to face each other in the tournament in the Egyptian capital on Sunday.

But the male Ukrainian fencing team, dressed in the yellow and blue of their national flag, downed their swords and picked up signs to protest.

"Stop Russia! Stop the war!," the signs read, written in English. "Save Ukraine! Save Europe".

The International Olympic Committee, angry at the invasion breaching the 'Olympic Truce', urged all sports federations to cancel their forthcoming events in Russia.

The International Olympic Committee urged sports federations to cancel events in Russia
5:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia admits 'killed and injured' soldiers in Ukraine

The Russian army has admitted that there were "killed and injured" soldiers among its troops in Ukraine on the fourth day of its invasion of the country, without specifying how many Russians had died there.

"Russian servicemen are showing courage and heroism while fulfilling combat tasks in the special military operation. Unfortunately, there are killed and injured among our comrades," Moscow's army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on state television.

A Ukrainian fighter examines a destroyed Russian vehicle after fighting in Kharkiv [Getty]
5:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

UAE refuses to take sides on Russian invasion of Ukraine

An Emirati official has said that taking sides on Russia's invasion of Ukraine would "lead to more violence".

UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash tweeted on Sunday: "We believe that alignment and positioning will only lead to more violence."

"In the Ukrainian crisis, our priorities are to encourage all parties to adopt diplomacy and negotiate to find a political settlement that ends this crisis," he wrote.

"The UAE's position is firm on the basic principles of the United Nations, international law, state sovereignty, and its rejection of military solutions," Gargash said.

4:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

EU escalates sanctions on Russia: closes airspace, bans media

The EU has announced swingeing new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, closing its airspace to Russian aircraft and banning Russian state media outlets broadcasting in the bloc.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, announcing the measures, also said the European Union was taking the unprecedented step of financing arms to Ukraine, and was hitting Russian ally Belarus with sanctions for facilitating the invasion.

4:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Arab League to convene over Ukraine invasion

The Arab League will meet on Monday to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine, while many of the pan-Arab body's member states have refrained from condemning Moscow.

Hossam Zaki, the Cairo-based organisation's deputy head, told AFP the session will be held at the level of foreign ministers.

The oil-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf, whose ties with Moscow have been expanding despite their decades-old dependence on US security guarantees, have stopped short of condemning the Russian assault launched on Thursday.

The United Arab Emirates, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, abstained on Friday in a vote on a resolution, vetoed by Moscow, demanding Russia withdraw its troops.

Syria, Algeria and Sudan, for their part, are linked to Russia by military accords.

Oil-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf have close ties with Moscow [Getty]
4:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia denies talks with Ukraine have started

Russia denied that talks with Ukraine had begun but said the two sides were arriving at the destination for negotiations, Interfax news agency quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying.

The negotiations could possibly offer some room to try to de-escalate the crisis after Russia invaded Ukraine from several directions.

Earlier, an adviser to Ukraine's Interior Ministry said the talks had already begun.

4:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Two of Russia's billionaires call for peace in Ukraine

Two Russian billionaires, Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska, have called for an end to the conflict triggered by President Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine, with Fridman calling it a "tragedy" for both countries' people.

Billionaire Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine, told staff in a letter that the conflict was driving a wedge between the two eastern Slav peoples of Russia and Ukraine who have been brothers for centuries.

"I was born in Western Ukraine and lived there until I was 17. My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favourite city," Fridman wrote in the letter, excerpts of which Reuters saw.

"But I have also spent much of my life as a citizen of Russia, building and growing businesses. I am deeply attached to the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both."

Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, used a post on Telegram to called for peace talks to begin "as fast as possible".

"Peace is very important," said Deripaska, who is the founder of Russian aluminium giant Rusal , in which he still owns a stake via his shares in its parent company En+ Group.

Mikhail Fridman [Getty]
4:05 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine International Airlines suspends flights until March 23

Ukraine International Airlines has extended the suspension of its regular and charter flights until March 23 due to the closure of Ukrainian airspace to civilian users.

The country's biggest airline stopped operating services on Thursday, after Russia invaded Ukraine, targeting airports and other critical infrastructure, prompting the government in the capital Kyiv to introduce martial law and close its skies.

"Currently, passengers of cancelled flights can take advantage of the free change of flight date for an unused ticket," UIA said in a statement.

It said that reimbursement according to its rules will be possible from March 26, 2022.

3:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

WHO urges safe corridor for medical supplies to Ukraine

The World Health Organization has called for a safe corridor through Poland to deliver critical medical aid to Ukraine and warned that hospital oxygen supplies in the country were dangerously low.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Europe regional director Hans Kluge said oxygen supplies were "nearing a very dangerous point" and that most hospitals could exhaust their reserves within the next 24 hours, putting thousands of lives at risk.

The WHO is working to deliver oxygen cylinders and liquid from regional networks, they said, adding that the supplies would need "safe transit, including via a logistics corridor through Poland".

"It is imperative to ensure that life-saving medical supplies - including oxygen - reach those who need them," they said in a joint statement as Moscow's incursion into its neighbour reached its fourth day.

The WHO is working to deliver oxygen cylinders and liquid from regional networks [Getty]
3:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

Canada closes airspace to all Russian carriers

Canada has closed its airspace to all Russian carriers in protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ottawa has announced.

"We will hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked attacks against Ukraine," Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said on Twitter.

The closure, effective immediately, aligns Canada with the vast majority of European countries.

While there had been no direct flights between Canadian and Russian airports, the decision by the world's second-largest country - Russia is the largest - could seriously complicate flights by Russian carrier Aeroflot to or from the US, as well as to other countries to the south.

Any flight owned, chartered by or used by Russian interests - including private flights - is now banned from Canadian skies, transport ministry spokeswoman Valerie Glazer told AFP in an email.

3:22 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine says will not 'capitulate' at Russia talks

Ukraine's foreign minister has said that Kyiv would not buckle at talks with Russia over its invasion, accusing President Vladimir Putin of seeking to increase "pressure" by ordering his nuclear forces on high alert.

"We will not surrender, we will not capitulate, we will not give up a single inch of our territory," Dmytro Kuleba said at a press conference broadcast online.

Fighting raged Sunday in Ukraine on day four of a Russian invasion that has sent shockwaves around the world. 

Ukraine said it would hold talks with Russia "without preconditions" at its Belarus border after Moscow had earlier demanded Kyiv's military lay down their arms before negotiations could begin. 

Ukraine's forces have put up fierce resistance and claim to have inflicted heavy damages on the Russian military. 

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba [Getty]
3:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Spain closes airspace to Russian flights

Spain has closed its airspace to Russian flights, alongside at least 15 other European nations.

In a tweet on Sunday afternoon, the Spanish transport ministry said: "Spain will proceed to close its airspace to Russian flights. In line with the cooperation directives agree by the EU, this measure will affect flights operated by the Russian airlines that use Spanish airspace."

European countries from north to south are banning Russian planes from transiting through their airspace in protest over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Here's a roundup:

On Friday, Britain announces an immediate ban on Russian private jets from UK airspace, in response to President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine the day before. 

The Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria each say they will ban all Russian flights from their skies, starting from midnight.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Romania follow suit on Saturday.

"There is no place for planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweets.

Austria says on Sunday all Russian flights will no longer be able to use Austrian airspace or land at Austrian airports from 1400 GMT.

"We are doing everything to show Vladimir Putin that we do not accept his invasion of Ukraine," Chancellor Karl Nehammer says in a tweet.

Germany says it will impose a three-month ban on all Russian flights, also from 1400 GMT on Sunday. Only humanitarian flights will be exempt.

France announces it will close off its airspace from Sunday night, in response to the invasion.

Belgium says it will not accept Russian aircraft either.

"Our European skies are open skies," says Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. "They're open for those who connect people, not for those who seek to brutally aggress."

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Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland say they too will not accept any Russian planes.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, "is preparing to close its airspace to Russian air traffic," Transport Minister Timo Harakka tweets, without giving a time.

Italy and Spain, too, say they are shutting off their airspace. Malta says it is also doing so to show "full solidarity with Ukraine".

North Macedonia's government on Sunday also bans all Russian aircraft from its skies, but says humanitarian flights will be exempted.

3:00 PM
The New Arab Staff

Putin nuclear alert 'dangerous' and 'irresponsible': NATO chief

President Vladimir Putin's decision to place his nuclear forces on alert amounts to "irresponsible" behaviour, NATO has charged. 

"This is dangerous rhetoric. This is a behavior which is irresponsible," the alliance's secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg told CNN.

Jens Stoltenberg slammed the move by Putin [Getty]
2:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

Putin 'manufacturing threats' with nuclear force alert: White House

The United States has charged that President Vladimir Putin is "manufacturing threats" as he placed Russian nuclear deterrence forces on high alert amid the Ukraine crisis.

"This is a pattern that we've seen from President Putin through the course of this conflict, which is manufacturing threats that don't exist in order to justify further aggression," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on ABC when asked about the announcement from Moscow.

2:19 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine says will meet Russia

Ukraine has agreed to talks with Russia after four days of conflict, which has killed dozens of civilians and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

President Volodymyr Zelensky's office said a Ukrainian delegation would meet the Russian one at the border with Belarus, which has allowed Russian troops passage to attack Ukraine.

The meeting is set to take place near Chernobyl - the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

"The politicians agreed that the Ukrainian delegation would meet the Russian one without preconditions," Zelensky's office said in a statement after the president spoke to his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.

Ukraine has reported 198 civilian deaths, including three children, since the invasion began.

1:55 PM
The New Arab Staff

US ambassador to UN expresses 'guarded optimism' over Russia-Ukraine talks

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has expressed guarded optimism over news of talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Speaking to CNN as news of the expected talks at the Belarusian border broke, Thomas Greenfield said: "We'll look forward to what comes out of those discussions.

"As you know […] We leaned in on diplomacy with the Russians throughout this process and we hoped that Putin would find a way to the negotiating table and he made the unfortunate decision of aggression over diplomacy."

Asked whether she believed news of talks indicated "good faith" on behalf of Russia, Thomas Greenfield replied: "I can’t get into Putin’s head or into Russian reasoning, so it remains to be seen."

Linda Thomas-Greenfield [Getty]
1:45 PM
The New Arab Staff

US announces £40m humanitarian aid for Ukraine

The United States said on Sunday it is sending nearly $54m (£40m) in new humanitarian aid to Ukraine as it grapples with the Russian invasion.

Secretary of state Antony Blinken said the US is focused on Ukraine’s "urgent humanitarian needs as an important part of our response to Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified attack".

This new assistance to be channelled through NGOs includes "provision of food, safe drinking water, shelter, emergency health care, winterization and protection", Blinken said in a statement.

Blinken said the new assistance will also help aid groups maintain contact between family members who have been separated by the war, "hopefully leading to reunification in some cases".

Blinken commended neighbouring countries for taking in fleeing Ukrainians "and we are engaging diplomatically to support their efforts to keep their borders open and assist those seeking international protection".

1:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

Putin orders nuclear forces on high alert

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his defence chiefs to put the country's nuclear "deterrence forces" on high alert Sunday and has accused the West of taking "unfriendly" steps against his country.

Moscow has the world's second-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and a huge cache of ballistic missiles which form the backbone of the country's deterrence forces.

"I order the defence minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service," Putin said.

"You see that Western countries are not only unfriendly to our country in the economic sphere - I mean illegitimate sanctions," he added, in a televised address.

"Senior officials of leading NATO countries also allow aggressive statements against our country."

Defence Minister Shoigu replied: "Affirmative".

as accused the West of taking "unfriendly" steps against his country [Getty]
1:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russians hold anti-war rallies

From Moscow to Siberia, Russian anti-war activists took to the streets again on Sunday to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite the arrests of hundreds of protesters each day.

Demonstrators held pickets and marched in city centres, chanting “No to war!”.

Protests against the invasion started on Thursday in Russia and have continued daily ever since, even as Russian police have moved swiftly to crack down on the rallies and detain protesters.

The protests on Sunday appeared smaller than the ones that took place on Thursday, the first day of Russia’s attack in Ukraine, when thousands of people rallied in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but their true scale was hard to assess.

In St. Petersburg, where dozens gathered in the city centre, police in full riot gear were grabbing one protester after another and dragging some into police vans, even though the demonstration was peaceful and no violent incidents have occurred.

According to the OVD-Info rights group that tracks political arrests, by Sunday afternoon police detained at least 356 Russians in 32 cities over anti-war demonstrations that day.

Officers detain a protester in central Saint Petersburg [Getty]
12:25 PM
The New Arab Staff

UK FM backs Britons going to fight in Ukraine

The UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has said she would support Britons wanting to go to Ukraine to help it fight the Russian invasion.

In an interview on BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme, she replied "absolutely" when asked whether she would back anyone wanting to volunteer to help the Ukrainians fighting for their freedom.

"That is something people can make their own decisions about. The people of Ukraine are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe," she said.

"Absolutely, if people want to support that struggle I would support them in doing that."

Until now there has been almost no evidence of foreigners going to Ukraine to join the battle against the Russian invasion.

Earlier on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he would be setting up an international legion for volunteers.

Liz Truss is in support of Britons who wish to go fight in Ukraine [Getty]
12:15 PM
The New Arab Staff

UN nuclear watchdog to hold emergency meeting on Ukraine

The UN nuclear watchdog's 35-nation Board of Governors will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday about Ukraine, where war is raging in a country with four operational nuclear power plants and various waste facilities including Chernobyl.

Board members Canada and Poland called the meeting at the request of Ukraine, which is not on the Board, diplomats said.

International Atomic Energy Agency member states that are not on the Board, like Ukraine, can call a Board meeting but the possible range of topics is wider if a Board member calls one.

"The IAEA Board of Governors will hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the current situation in Ukraine," the IAEA said in a statement, confirming a report by Reuters.

The agenda item for the 11 a.m. (1000 GMT) meeting is: "The safety, security and safeguards implications of the situation in Ukraine", a diplomat said.

The IAEA will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday [Getty]
11:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine lodges case against Russia in The Hague

Ukraine has lodged a complaint against Russia at the International Court of Justice in the Hague to get it to halt its invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

"Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression," Zelensky declared in a tweet.

"We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week."

The International Court of Justice is one of the six principal organs of the UN [Getty]
11:22 AM
The New Arab Staff

'Heartbroken' Pope urges help for Ukraine, condemns warmongers

Pope Francis has called for humanitarian corridors to help refugees out of Ukraine and said those who make war should not be deluded into thinking that God is on their side.

Speaking to people in St. Peter's Square, some holding large Ukrainian flags, Francis also said his "heart is broken" by the war and condemned those who "trust in the diabolic and perverse logic of weapons".

Pope Francis spoke on Sunday to people in St. Peter's Square [Getty]
11:11 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukrainian refugee tally tops 368,000: UN

The UN refugee agency has said that more than 368,000 people had fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Thursday.

"The current total is now 368,000 and continues to rise," United Nations High Commission for Refugees or UNHCR said in a tweet, adding the new figure was based on "data made available by national authorities".

A large number of those escaping to neighbouring countries have crossed over into Poland, where the authorities have counted some 156,000 crossing since the invasion started early Thursday.

Border guards counted some 77,300 arrivals from Ukraine on Saturday alone.

The refugees have arrived in cars, in packed trains and even on foot.

Those who arrive with nowhere to go can count on the help of volunteers -- both members of NGOs and private citizens.

Others have also headed to Moldavia, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

The refugees have arrived in cars, in packed trains and even on foot [Getty]
11:04 AM
The New Arab Staff

Germany to step up plans to cut dependence on Russia gas

Germany will make good on plans to build two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and up its natural gas reserves to cut its dependence on Russian gas after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said.

"We will do more to ensure secure energy supply for our country," he told lawmakers in a special Bundestag session called to address the Ukraine crisis.

"We must change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers."

Germany has been under pressure from other Western nations to become less dependent on Russian gas, but its plans to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030 and to shut its nuclear power plants have left it with few options.

Earlier this week Germany halted the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, Europe's most divisive energy project, in response to Russia's actions toward Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz [Getty]
10:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Portugal to send military equipment to Ukraine

Portugal is to send military equipment to Ukraine, the defence ministry has said, joining other Western nations in dispatching help to the eastern European country under Russian attack.

Lisbon is to dispatch "vests, helmets, night-vision goggles, grenades and ammunition of various calibres", the ministry said in a statement in the early hours on Twitter.

"Portugal supports Ukraine, which is defending itself against an unjustified, illegal and unacceptable invasion," Defence Minister Joao Cravinho said in another tweet.

Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva on Saturday told CNN Portugal that was "totally open" to welcoming "thousands of Ukrainians" forced to flee their country.

He also said Lisbon had suspended the review of Russia applications for so-called "golden visas", residency permits given to wealthy foreign investors.

10:20 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukrainian men return from abroad to fight Russian invasion

While tens of thousands of refugees are leaving Ukraine amid Russia's attack on the country, some Ukrainian men and women are returning home from across Europe to help defend their homeland.

At the checkpoint in Medyka, in southeastern Poland, many were standing in a line to cross into Ukraine.

"We have to defend our homeland. Who else if not us,” said a moustachioed man in front of a group of some 20 Ukrainian truck drivers walking to the checkpoint to enter Ukraine. They came from across Europe to return to Ukraine. They spoke to The Associated Press in Ukrainian and in Russian.

Another man in the group said: “The Russians should be afraid. We are not afraid."

A woman in her 30s who gave her first name, Lesa, spoke to the AP just before entering the checkpoint building. ”I am afraid, but I am a mother and want to be with my children. What can you do? It’s scary but I have to."

Another young woman said she, too, was returning to take care of her children, so that Ukrainian men can defend the country.

“We have to, we Ukrainians have to take our children away ... to allow our boys to fight,” she said.

Men and women are returning home from across Europe to help defend their homeland
9:45 AM
The New Arab Staff

Turkey calls Russian invasion 'war'

Turkey has called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "war" in a rhetorical shift that could pave the way for the NATO member nation to enact an international pact limiting Russian naval passage to the Black Sea.

Balancing its Western commitments and close ties to Moscow, Ankara has said the Russian attack is unacceptable but until now had not described the situation as a war.

"On the fourth day of the Ukraine war, we repeat President (Tayyip) Erdogan's call for an immediate halt of Russian attacks and the start of ceasefire negotiations," presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.

Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's communications director, said "we are witnessing yet another war in our region", and repeated Erdogan's offer to mediate.

Read more: Turkey, overseeing passage to Black Sea, calls Russian invasion a 'war'

9:30 AM
The New Arab Staff

Finland to close airspace to Russian planes: minister

Finland will close its airspace to Russian planes, joining other European countries in ramping up sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the government has announced early on Sunday.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, "is prepared to close its airspace to Russian air traffic," Transport Minister Timo Harakka wrote in an overnight tweet.

Other countries have closed off their airspace to Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine
9:20 AM
The New Arab Staff

Gazprom says Russian gas exports via Ukraine to Europe continue 'normally'

Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom says that Russian gas exports via Ukraine to Europe have continued normally, in line with requests from customers.

It said requests for gas via the route stand at 107.5 million cubic metres as of Sunday. 

Gazprom is an energy giant controlled by Russia [Getty]
9:15 AM
The New Arab Staff

Zelensky ready to talk with Russia, but not in Belarus

President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine was willing to hold talks with Russia, but rejected convening them in neighbouring Belarus as it was being used as a launchpad for Moscow's invasion.

"Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku. We proposed all of them," Zelensky said in a Sunday address posted online.

Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine was willing to hold talks with Russia [Getty]
9:10 AM
The New Arab Staff

Google blocks Russia's RT app downloads on Ukrainian territory, says RT

Alphabet Inc's Google has banned downloads of Russian state-owned media outlet RT's mobile app on Ukrainian territory at the request of the government in Kyiv, RT says.

Google on Saturday barred RT and other channels from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps and YouTube videos, similar to a move by Facebook after the invasion of Ukraine.

Google barred RT and other channels from receiving money for ads on their site [Getty]
8:56 AM
The New Arab Staff

Zelensky says Russia striking residential areas

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that Moscow was bombarding residential areas in Ukraine as its invading forces sought to push deeper into the country.

"The past night in Ukraine was brutal, again shooting, again bombardments of residential areas, civilian infrastructure," Zelensky said in a tweet.

"Today, there is not a single thing in the country that the occupiers do not consider an acceptable target. They fight against everyone. They fight against all living things - against kindergartens, against residential buildings and even against ambulances."

This photo taken near Kalynivka shows explosions at a military munitions depot [Getty]


The New Arab Staff