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Ukraine latest: Russia’s Sberbank to pull out of Europe

Russia has unleashed attacks on Ukraine after months of massing troops near its borders. The military action, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, amounts to a full-scale invasion, says Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Dozens of military sites have already been hit by Russian fire, and casualties are mounting. The repercussions are being felt beyond Europe as rising geopolitical risk and volatile energy and financial markets rock Asia.

For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine crisis page.

Read our in-depth coverage:

Removal of Russian banks from SWIFT system: 5 things to know

ASEAN stops short of calling out Russia in delayed statement

ASEAN faces fallout from Russian invasion of Ukraine

How Russia’s Ukraine attack affects Asian business: 5 things to know

China’s netizens split on Ukraine war as crude joke sparks anger

Entries include material from wire services and Nikkei Asia reporters.

Here are the latest developments:

Wednesday, March 2 (Tokyo time)

3:52 p.m. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang each will donate one month’s salary to aid humanitarian relief efforts for Ukraine, which is standing its ground against a military invasion by Russia, the president said.

3:35 p.m. Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, is leaving the European market as its subsidiaries there face large cash outflows and what it says are threats to the safety of employees and property. The bank says it is no longer able to supply liquidity to European subsidiaries, following a central bank order, but its capital level and asset quality are sufficient to pay all depositors. “The group’s subsidiary banks have faced abnormal cash outflows and threats to the safety of its employees and branches,” it said in a statement.

10:11 a.m. Exxon Mobil will exit Russia operations, including oil production fields, it announces on Tuesday, becoming the latest major Western energy company to quit the oil-rich country following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more.

10:00 a.m. Boeing says it has suspended operations in Russia and temporarily closed its office in Kyiv. The U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer will halt sales of spare parts and maintenance support for Russian airlines, which include national flag carrier Aeroflot and its fleet of Boeing 737s and 777s.

6:40 a.m. Apple pauses all product sales in Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence,” Apple says in a statement. “We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.”

The company also says it stopped all exports into its sales channels in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited, the company says. Russian state media, RT News and Sputnik News, are no longer available for download from the Apple Store outside Russia.

6:00 a.m. Canada decides to shut its ports to Russian-owned ships later this week in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says.

“Russia must be held accountable for its invasion of Ukraine,” Alghabra said. “Today, we are taking steps to close Canadian waters and ports to Russian-owned or registered ships. We will continue to take action to stand with Ukraine,” he added.

1:50 a.m. The European Union is preparing for “millions” more refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson says.

Johansson says it was difficult to estimate precisely how many refugees could stream through EU borders after Russia invaded Ukraine last week, after more than 400,000 had come through so far.

“Unfortunately, we have to prepare for millions of people to come,” Johansson tells a news conference in the Slovak capital Bratislava, an EU member that shares a border with Ukraine. “At the same time we have huge and urgent humanitarian needs in Ukraine, a lot of internally displaced people.”

People who fled the Russian invasion of Ukraine check the donated goods at a temporary camp in Przemysl, Poland.

  © Reuters

12:20 a.m. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks with his Ukraine counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on the phone, with the latter asking for mediation for a ceasefire, CCTV reports.

Wang did not give a clear response as to whether China would play a peace broker.

Tuesday, March 1

10: 40 p.m. The second round of Russia-Ukraine talks is planned for March 2, Russia’s TASS news agency reports, quoting a source on the Russian side.

After the first round of negotiations produced no tangible results, the two sides had said they would meet again in the coming days.

6:30 p.m. An Indian student was killed when the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was shelled on Tuesday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs says.

5:50 p.m. YouTube is blocking channels connected to Russian state-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately, due to the situation in Ukraine, the company operated by Alphabet’s Google, says. “It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action,” a YouTube spokesperson says. The company’s actions follows that of Facebook parent Meta, which on Monday said it will restrict access to television network RT and news agency Sputnik on its platforms across the European Union.

5:35 p.m. Human rights groups and Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. accuse Russia of attacking Ukrainians with cluster bombs and vacuum bombs, weapons that have been condemned by a variety of international organizations. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both said Russian forces appeared to have used widely banned cluster munitions. Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told reporters after meeting with members of the U.S. Congress that Russia had used a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb, in its invasion of her country.

A volunteer arranges flags at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014: The IOC has recommended sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from upcoming events after Russia invaded Ukraine last week.

  © Reuters

2:40 p.m. The International Olympic Committee’s executive board has recommended sports federations ban Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from competing in events following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The IOC said the executive board made the decision “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants,” and that the body was acting with a “heavy heart.” The Russian Olympic Committee slammed the IOC decision, saying it “contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the [Olympic] Charter.”

12:17 p.m. Mastercard says it has blocked multiple financial institutions from its payment network as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Taiwan declares it is in sync with the international “democratic camp” as it heeds calls to block Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments system.

  © Reuters

11:08 a.m. Taiwan will join moves to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system, the government says, adding that it has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine in a show of support for the international “democratic camp.” As it joins many Western and other democracies in sanctioning Russia, Taiwan is also voicing sympathy for the Ukrainian people, drawing parallels with what it views as Beijing’s threats against the island. Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters Taiwan’s sanctions decision was in lock-step with its democratic partners around the world, adding that the government will “cooperate” with what Western countries have decided regarding SWIFT.

9:30 a.m. Soccer’s FIFA and UEFA have suspended Russia’s national teams and clubs from international competitions, joining the governing bodies of other sports that have made similar moves in protest of Russia’s military attack on Ukraine. It is now likely Russia will be excluded from this year’s World Cup and the women’s Euro 2022 tournament.

7:55 a.m. Turkey has warned all countries not to send warships through key passages to the Black Sea after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country would take action based on a 1936 agreement to “stop escalation” in Ukraine. Read here.

6:44 a.m. A no-fly zone over Ukraine is “not a good idea,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki says.

“What that would require is implementation by the U.S. military,” Psaki says. “It would essentially mean the U.S. military would be shooting down planes — Russian planes. That is definitely escalatory. That would potentially put us into a place where we’re in … a military conflict with Russia. That is not something the president wants to do.”

“We are not going to have a military war with Russia with U.S. troops,” she says.

6:33 a.m. Shell will exit its joint ventures with Gazprom, including a 27.5% percent stake in Sakhalin-2. Read here.

Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya attends a United Nations Security Council meeting, Feb. 28.

  © Reuters

4:15 a.m. The U.S. has moved to expel a dozen Russian diplomats to the United Nations over national security concerns.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vassily Nebenzia, tells reporters that the unidentified officials have been ordered to leave by March 7.

He describes the move as “sad news” and another demonstration of “gross disrespect” by the U.S. regarding its commitments as host of U.N. headquarters in New York.

The American side calls the 12 personnel “intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.”

“We are taking this action in accordance with the UN Headquarters Agreement,” the U.S. statement says. “This action has been in development for several months.”

3:36 a.m. Microsoft announces “new steps to reduce the exposure of Russian state propaganda, as well to ensure our own platforms do not inadvertently fund these operations.”

“In accordance with the EU’s recent decision, the Microsoft Start platform (including will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content,” Microsoft President and Vice Chair Brad Smith writes. “We are removing RT news apps from our Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites’ search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages. Finally, we are banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik across our ad network and will not place any ads from our ad network on these sites.”

3:21 a.m. Russia’s central bank says Moscow’s stock market will not open Tuesday, after it ordered the market to not to open on Monday.

2:00 a.m. Finland will send weapons and ammunition to Ukraine. The aid will consist of 2,500 assault rifles, 150,000 cartridges, 1,500 single-shot anti-tank weapons and 70,000 combat ration packages, according to the Finnish Ministry of Defense.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen announce military aid for Ukraine.

  © Reuters

1:35 a.m. The initial round of peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials ends, according to Russian sources. The talks will resume in the coming days after negotiators consult with leadership at their respective capitals, Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky says.

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov attends the talks with Russian officials in Belarus. 

  © Reuters

1:30 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron asks Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone to end attacks on Ukraine’s civilians and residential areas, preserve civilian infrastructure, and secure main roads. Macron suggests staying in touch to prevent the situation from worsening, and Putin agrees.

12:50 a.m. Switzerland says it will adopt European Union sanctions against Russians involved in the invasion of Ukraine and freeze their assets.

The alpine country also adopts financial sanctions against President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Switzerland reaffirms its solidarity with Ukraine and its people; it will be delivering relief supplies for people who have fled to Poland,” the government says.

12:20 a.m. The International Olympic Committee decides to strip President Vladimir Putin and other Russian government officials of the Olympic Order, the organization’s highest award. The IOC also urges sports federations to exclude Russian athletes and officials from international competitions and announces a solidarity fund for Ukrainian athletes. The move follows an earlier call for sports bodies to remove competitions from Russia. The Paralympics are set to begin in Beijing on Friday.

Switzerland faced growing pressure to side clearly with the West against Moscow and adopt punitive sanctions.

  © Reuters

Monday, Feb. 28

10:58 p.m. The U.S. shuts its embassy in Minsk and allows non-emergency employees and family members to depart from its embassy in Moscow. All American staff have departed Belarus, U.S ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher tweets.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.

10:56 p.m. The referendum in Belarus to ditch its non-nuclear status is a “greatly worrying” move orchestrated by the country’s strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says. The vote to change the constitution, passed with 65% according to official data, could see nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

10:20 p.m. Russia has barred airlines from 36 countries including Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada from using its airspace — a retaliatory move after sweeping sanctions targeting its aviation sector.

9:12 p.m. Chinese ride hailer Didi Global has scrapped plans to withdraw from Russia — a decision a source said reflects pressure in China to stick by Moscow amid the Ukraine war.

8:45 p.m. Dozens were killed in rocket strikes on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday morning, an interior ministry adviser says. “Kharkiv has just been massively fired upon by grads (rockets). Dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded,” Anton Herashchenko writes on Facebook in a post seen by Reuters.

8:30 p.m. The Russian Embassy in China posts a note Monday night about the Feb. 25 call between Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin on the popular messaging platform WeChat, revealing more details that Chinese state broadcaster CCTV didn’t mention three days ago.

The embassy said in the post that “Xi Jinping stressed his respect for the actions taken by the Russian leader in the current crisis situation.”

The post continues: “The two sides assessed the current international situation and reaffirmed their willingness to further close coordination and mutual support at the [United Nations] and other multilateral platforms. They noted that the use of illegal sanctions to achieve the self-interested goals of individual countries must not be allowed.”

7:30 p.m. Talks between Ukraine and Russia are underway at the Belarusian border, a Ukrainian presidential adviser tells Reuters. The Ukrainian president’s office has said the goal is to achieve an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Russian forces.

A helicopter carrying members of the Ukrainian delegation arrives to talks with Russian counterparts in the Gomel region, Belarus, on Feb. 28.

  © BelTA/Handout via Reuters

5:00 p.m. Latvia’s parliament voted unanimously to allow its nationals to fight in Ukraine if they wish, the legislative body says. “Our citizens who want to support Ukraine and volunteer to serve there to defend Ukraine’s independence and our common security must be able to do so,” said Juris Rancanis, chairman of the parliamentary defense, home affairs and corruption prevention commission, which drafted the law. Latvia, together with Baltic neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, was once ruled by Moscow. The three have long seen Russia as a threat, but unlike Ukraine, they have joined the European Union and NATO, which brings security guarantees.

4:18 p.m. The Russian central bank raises its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% in an emergency move, and authorities have told export-focused companies to sell foreign currency as the ruble tumbled to record lows. “External conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed,” the central bank said in a statement.

4:10 p.m. Singapore Airlines says it will suspend its flights between the city-state and Moscow effective Monday, citing “operational reasons.” In a notice to passengers, the airline says the suspension will continue “until further notice.” There were three return scheduled flights per week for the route, according to its website.

4:00 p.m. Japanese e-commerce group Rakuten says it will allow customers to donate their rewards points for humanitarian aid in Ukraine from today through March 31. The fundraising drive follows a personal donation from CEO Hiroshi Mikitani of 1 billion yen ($8.7 million). The company is also accepting donations through Rakuten credit cards and transfers to its subsidiary bank. “The funds raised this time will be used for humanitarian assistance such as the provision of supplies such as drinking water, the provision of health services, and the protection of children through the Ukrainian government and the Japan Committee for UNICEF,” Rakuten said in a statement.

2:15 p.m. Australia issues a statement saying it is “holding Russian President Vladimir Putin to account for his egregious unjustified war against Ukraine.” The statement says targeted sanctions and travel bans took effect at midnight against Putin and several high-ranking cabinet members. It notes that sanctioning a head of state is “exceedingly rare” and puts Putin in the company of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Canberra also says it is giving $3 million to a NATO trust fund for non-lethal support for Ukraine, and that details of promised “lethal” aid will be forthcoming. The statement also stresses support for removing certain Russian banks from the SWIFT system, and vows to “take complementary steps as required.”

1:47 p.m. Australia’s A$204 billion ($147 billion) sovereign wealth fund plans to wind down its exposure to Russian-listed companies, a spokesperson tells Reuters, joining a global financial backlash following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Future Fund, which has investments spread across global equities, debt, currency and infrastructure markets, says it has about 0.1% of its holdings, worth about A$200 million ($144 million), in companies listed on the Russian Stock Exchange.

12:55 p.m. The head of a Russian delegation to a virtual United Nations climate conference apologized for his country’s invasion of Ukraine on Sunday, according to multiple reports. “Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians not able to prevent this conflict,” the official, Oleg Anisimov, was quoted as saying. He added that he could see no justification for the attack.

12:40 p.m. Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton hits out at China for not using its influence to help stop the war. “This alliance that China and Russia have entered into should be deeply disturbing to the rest of the world,” he tells Australia’s Sky News. “There’s one person now, there’s one world leader that’s standing out from the rest who are condemning President Putin and that is President Xi [Jinping]. And President Xi has the power and the relationship with President Putin to pick up the phone and to instruct him to pull back and to reconsider what is a dreadful, dreadful decision.”

12:10 p.m. Russia’s currency fell 40% on Monday morning after the U.S. and major European countries moved to exclude the country’s major banks from the SWIFT global payment system. The ruble declined to a record low of 117.75 to the dollar from 83.75 on Friday, according to Bloomberg data.

11:30 a.m. Google confirms it has temporarily disabled for Ukraine some Google Maps tools that provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy various locations are. The company says it took the action of globally disabling Google Maps’ traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country.

7:35 a.m. In the latest European move toward financial decoupling with Russia, Norway’s government says it will call on the country’s oil fund to immediately freeze all Russian investments and ensure that it sells these holdings.

7:09 a.m. The International Chess Federation (FIDE) announces that it will not hold official competitions and events in Russia and Belarus, will not allow the use of Russian and Belarusian flags and national anthems at FIDE-rated international chess events, and will end sponsorship agreements with “any Belarusian and Russian sanctioned and/or state-controlled companies.”

The federation says it “condemns any public statement from any member of the chess community which supports unjustified military action and brings the case of chess grandmasters Sergey Karjakin and Sergey Shipov to the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission,” raising the possibility of penalizing them for supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

7:04 a.m. Aeroflot says it will cancel all flights to Europe, Reuters reports.

6:55 a.m. The Polish Football Association blasts international soccer governing body FIFA for not taking stronger action against Russia over Ukraine.

“If FIFA’s Human Rights Policy is more than just words on a paper now is the time to put it into practice by excluding the Russian Football Association from the qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022,” writes Cezary Kulesza, president of the Polish association, in a statement.

FIFA’s initial measures include forbidding international competitions from being held on Russian territory, with “home” matches being played on neutral territory and without spectators. Russia will compete under the name “Football Union of Russia,” and the country’s flag and national anthem cannot be used.

But “as a result of the brutal aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the war that continues there, we do not see any possibility of competing with the Russian national team in playoff matches for promotion to the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 regardless of the name of the team consisting of Russian footballers and the place of the match,” Kulesza writes.

4:40 a.m. The White House is urging China to take a firmer stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is not a time to stand on the sidelines,” press secretary Jen Psaki tells MSNBC. “This is a time to be vocal and condemn the actions of President Putin and Russia in invading a sovereign country.”

Meanwhile, U.S. and NATO officials have condemned Putin’s order to put Russian nuclear forces on high alert.

2:56 a.m. BP says it will exit its 20% stake in Russian state oil company Rosneft. BP says it will no longer report reserves, production or profit from Rosneft, and its chief executive, Bernard Looney, will immediately resign the Rosneft board. Read more.

2:38 a.m. In a delayed statement, foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have expressed concern over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but without condemning Moscow’s move. Read more.

1:40 a.m. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, says European Union airspace is shut down to Russian flights, including private jets of Russian oligarchs.

1:28 a.m. More European countries are closing their skies to Russian flights. Since this post by Flightradar24, Spain and Portugal have joined the list.

12:30 a.m. Talks between Russia and Ukraine have not yet begun, as the negotiators are just arriving at the venue, Interfax reports, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that “all aircraft, helicopters and missiles” deployed in Belarus will remain on the ground during the talks, Interfax reports.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a statement in Kyiv on Feb. 27. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via Reuters)

Sunday, Feb. 27

11:05 p.m. Ukraine and Russia have agreed to unconditional talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says.

Officials from both sides have agreed to meet as Russian forces continue their campaign.

State television in Belarus also reports on the agreement. President Alexander Lukashenko has sought to broker the talks.

10:00 p.m. Rakuten Group CEO Hiroshi Mikitani announces that he and his family would make a personal donation of 1 billion yen ($8.7 million) for humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian government. The head of the Japanese conglomerate sent a personal letter to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying he was “deeply saddened” by news of Russia’s military attack against the country. Rakuten’s Viber messaging app is widely used in Ukraine.

9:25 p.m. Japan will join the international effort to block some Russian banks from the global SWIFT payment system, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announces. He tells reporters that Japan also plans to freeze assets held by Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials.

9:10 p.m. Israel’s army radio reports that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has proposed to Putin that his country could mediate in the crisis.

8:20 p.m. Hungary’s foreign minister says 66,000 people have crossed into the country from Ukraine in recent days. The United Nations says the total refugee outflow has hit 368,000 and “continues to rise.”

8:10 p.m. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his country has submitted an application against Russia to the International Court of Justice.

7:45 p.m. Germany will raise defense spending to over 2% of gross domestic product in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz says during a special parliament session. He says this is needed to protect Germany’s “freedom and democracy.” The 2022 budget will include 100 billion euros for the military.

The country has resisted calls from other Western powers to hike defense outlays, partly due to its own 20th century history. But the Ukraine war appears to be forcing a change of heart. The Scholz government has also broken with a policy of not delivering weapons to conflict zones, agreeing to send Ukraine anti-tank weapons, missiles and ammunition.

6:35 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been suspended as honorary president of the International Judo Federation, the sport’s governing body announces, “in light of the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine.”

6:03 p.m. The U.K. says Moscow must withdraw its troops before attempting to hold talks. “They cannot negotiate with a gun to the head of the Ukrainians,” foreign secretary Liz Truss says.

5:48 p.m. Finland is set to close its airspace to Russian planes, its minister of transport says. Some other European countries, including Lithuania and Latvia, have also said they will do this, while Germany said it was preparing to do so.

4:40 p.m. A Russian delegation has arrived in Belarus for talks with Ukraine, a Kremlin spokesperson was quoted by the Ifax news agency as saying on Sunday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected the offer, saying Belarus itself was complicit in the Russian invasion, but he seems to leave the door open to negotiations in other locations, according to Reuters.

2:56 p.m. Russian troops have entered the city of Kharkiv, according to an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister.

1:15 p.m. Australia will provide “lethal aid” to Ukraine through NATO partners, namely the U.S. and U.K., Prime Minister Scott Morrison says. “We’ll be working through those channels because that’s the most effective way to do it,” Morrison is quoted as saying by national broadcaster ABC. The report says the assistance is likely to take the form of financial contributions to weapons supplies, rather than direct shipments of arms. Canberra had previously promised nonlethal aid including military and medical equipment.

11:45 a.m. Russian troops have blown up a natural gas pipeline in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, according to Ukraine’s state service of special communications and information protection. A video posted on Telegram showed a mushroom-shaped explosion. It was unclear what role the pipeline played and whether its destruction could disrupt gas supplies beyond the city or country.

11:07 a.m. Here’s our explainer of what Russia’s removal from the SWIFT international payments system means.

10:55 a.m. 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.

10:53 a.m. Former U.S. President Donald Trump condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said he was praying for Ukrainians, marking a shift of tone from earlier this week when he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

9:05 a.m. Japan will coordinate closely with its G-7 counterparts in deciding whether to impose further sanctions against Russia, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi says.

Former Foreign Minister Taro Kono asks in a tweet why Japan hasn’t joined the West’s removal of Russia from SWIFT.

7:43 a.m. The United States, Britain, Europe and Canada on Saturday moved to block Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payment system as part of another round of sanctions against Moscow as it continues its assault against Ukraine. The measures, which will also include restriction on the Russian central bank’s international reserves, will be implemented in the coming days, the nations said in a joint statement.

5:22 a.m. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has given trustees of the London soccer team’s foundation stewardship of the Premier League club, the Russian billionaire says, amid calls in the U.K. that he be sanctioned over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich, who bought the London club in 2003, says the foundation was in the “best position to look after the interests” of the club. Abramovich remains the club owner and a statement did not reveal why he was giving the foundation stewardship nor any detail on how the arrangement would work.

4:20 a.m. An adviser to President Zelenskyy says Russia’s attack on Kyiv is not advancing and that about 3,500 Russian soldiers had been killed or injured so far in Moscow’s assault. “We are striking the enemy around Kyiv. The enemy is not moving for now,” says Oleksiy Arestovych.

3:55 a.m. YouTube suspends multiple Russian channels, including state-funded media outlet RT, from generating revenue on the site, following a similar move by Facebook owner Meta Platforms. “In light of extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine … we’re pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions,” YouTube said in a statement.

2:31 a.m. Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate say they stand with the people of Ukraine as they “bravely fight” the invasion by Russia, in a rare public comment for British royals on political issues.

The British royal family do not usually comment on major political matters, sticking to a constitutional norm that they should remain neutral. However, William’s younger brother Harry and his wife Meghan, who have stepped down from royal duties to move to Los Angeles, said on their website on Thursday that they also stood with the Ukrainian people “against this breach of international and humanitarian law.”

2:05 a.m. Berlin will supply Ukraine with defensive anti-tank weapons, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition, in a shift of policy as Russia’s forces continued to pound Kyiv and other cities on day three of its campaign. After facing criticism for refusing to send weapons to Kyiv, unlike other Western allies, Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Berlin will supply Ukraine with 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger surface-to-air missiles from Bundeswehr stocks. Germany also approves the delivery of 400 rocket-propelled grenades from the Netherlands to Ukraine. Countries aiming to pass on German weapons exports need to apply for approval in Berlin first.

1:18 a.m. Germany pulls an about face over restrictions on Russian access to the SWIFT global interbank payment system, joining other Western powers in support of harsher sanctions aimed at halting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We are urgently working on how to limit the collateral damage of decoupling from SWIFT in such a way that it affects the right people. What we need is a targeted and functional restriction of SWIFT,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck say.

12:30 a.m. Five Chinese academics from prominent universities condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a rare instance of high-standing professors going against the government line.

“We strongly oppose Russia’s war on Ukraine,” the professors say. “We firmly support the actions of the Ukrainian people to defend their country. We are concerned that Russia’s acts of force will lead to turmoil in Europe and the entire world, and trigger wider humanitarian disasters.”

The statement is signed by Sun Jiang of Nanjing University, Wang Lixin of Peking University, Xu Guoqi, of the University of Hong Kong, Zhong Weimin, of Tsinghua University, and Chen Yan of Fudan University.

The statement was released on WeChat, but has been removed by the platform.

Saturday, Feb. 26

11:53 p.m. Russian forces are becoming increasingly frustrated by what the U.S. believes is “viable” Ukrainian resistance, a U.S. defense official says. “We know that they have not made the progress that they have wanted to make, particularly in the north. They have been frustrated by what they have seen is a very determined resistance,” the official tells Reuters, without providing evidence.

11:15 p.m. France seizes a car cargo ship in the English Channel that Washington says was linked to the son of a former Russian spy chief, in one of the first visible displays of the West enforcing sanctions on Moscow over its Ukraine invasion. The Baltic Leader was headed for St. Petersburg but was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France, Captain Veronique Magnin of the French Maritime Prefecture tells Reuters. The vessel was “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by the sanctions,” she says.

10:45 p.m. President Joe Biden instructed the U.S. State Department to release up to an additional $350 million worth of weapons from U.S. stocks to Ukraine on Friday as it struggles to repulse a Russian invasion, Reuters reports. Ukraine has been asking for Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger missiles to shoot down aircraft.

10:32 p.m. Hungary is accepting all Ukrainian citizens and legal residents, regardless of whether they are subject to military conscription into the Ukrainian armed forces, Prime Minister Viktor Orban tells a news conference. “We’re letting everyone in,” Orban says. “I’ve seen people who have no travel documents, but we’re providing them too with travel documents. And we’re also allowing in those who have arrived from third countries after the proper screening.”

6:15 p.m. Moscow will respond to the seizure of money held abroad by its citizens and companies by seizing the funds of foreigners and foreign companies in Russia, the RIA news agency quoted Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Security Council of Russia, as saying on Saturday. Russia does not rule out nationalizing the assets of companies registered in the U.S., EU and other “unfriendly jurisdictions,” Medvedev was quoted as saying.

An apartment building in Kyiv on Feb. 26 after it was damaged by shelling.

  © Reuters

5:47 p.m. Russia’s communications regulator accused 10 local media outlets on Saturday of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special military operation in Ukraine and distributing false information about events there. Among those sent warning letters were Echo Moskvy, a popular radio station, and Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper critical of the government whose editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize last year. Roskomnadzor, the regulator, ordered the media to delete the offending information or face restricted access to their websites and media resources.

5:28 p.m. At least 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed as a result of the Russian invasion, the head of the Ukrainian Health Ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying on Saturday. He said 1,115 people were wounded, including 33 children. It was unclear whether he was referring only to civilian casualties.

5:04 p.m. The Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow’s staff is evacuating to Latvia, the Latvian foreign ministry tells Reuters. “It was their plea, we readily agreed. We are assisting them in the process and help with settling down,” Latvian foreign ministry spokesperson Janis Bekeris says. He declined to say whether the embassy staff had already arrived in Latvia, citing security concerns.

2:00 p.m. Zelenskyy was asked by the U.S. to leave Kyiv, but declined, according to The Associated Press. “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” he is quoted as saying by an American intelligence official, who describes the president as upbeat despite apparent Russian moves to encircle the capital.

1:47 p.m. After suggesting Chinese nationals display their country’s flag in their vehicles for protection in Ukraine two days ago, China’s embassy in the nation is now urging its people not to reveal their identity or give any identifying signs. The message was sent through a WeChat post, citing “increasingly extreme behavior” in Ukraine.

11:42 a.m. Russian troops attacked an army base located on a main avenue in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv but the assault was repelled, the Ukrainian military says.

Separately, the Interfax Ukraine agency says Russian soldiers were trying to capture one of the city’s electricity generating stations.

9:26 a.m. The U.S. government joins European countries in slapping sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“President Putin and Minister Lavrov are directly responsible for Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful further invasion of Ukraine, a democratic sovereign state,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

8:15 a.m. Zelenskyy has asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to mediate in the conflict with Russia, Reuters reports, citing the Ukrainian envoy to Israel said.

The United Nations Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York.

  © Reuters

7:54 a.m. Russia vetoed a Western-led U.N. Security Council resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine by voting against it. India, China, and the United Arab Emirates abstained. There were 11 votes in favor.

“You cannot veto the truth,” the U.S. representative says.

7:25 a.m. The U.S. tables a resolution at the U.N. Security Council with an appeal: “Vote no, or abstain, if you do not support the charter and align yourselves with the aggressive and unprovoked actions of Russia. Just as Russia had a choice, so do you.”

6:53 a.m. The sports world is grappling with how to react to Russia’s invasion. UEFA has moved the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Paris, and Formula 1 has canceled its Russian Grand Prix race.

The International Olympic Committee has urged sports bodies to cancel or relocate events in Russia and Belarus. World championships for hockey, volleyball, and shooting are all currently scheduled to be held in Russia.

Russian and NHL hockey star Alex Ovechkin has made an anti-war plea to the media. “Please. No more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” he says.

The F1 Russian Grand Prix will not be held, and soccer’s UEFA Champions League final has been relocated.

5:40 a.m. All eyes are on China and India ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting. The council is supposed to vote on a Western-led resolution on the situation in Ukraine. Russia is expected to veto, putting the attention on how China and India vote.

The meeting has been delayed by a “language discrepancy” between the U.S. and an important partner.

4:50 a.m. A Russian warning on any moves to include Finland and Sweden in NATO has raised eyebrows.

“Their accession to NATO can have detrimental consequences,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a news conference, adding that there could be “military and political consequences.”

3:11 a.m. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has spoken with European counterparts on Ukraine and detailed China’s position on the matter.

China “firmly advocates respecting and safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and earnestly abides by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” according to a news release by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “This position is consistent and clear, and it applies equally to Ukraine.”

Given decades of NATO eastward expansion, Russia’s “legitimate security demands should be taken seriously and properly addressed,” but that the current situation in Ukraine is “something we do not want to see,” the statement says.

3:00 a.m. Zelenskyy holds a discussion with U.S. President Joe Biden regarding U.S. and allied support for Ukraine.

2:15 a.m. Zelenskyy posts a video from the government quarter in Kyiv following speculation in Russian media that he had fled.

“We are here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine,” he says in the video.

Zelenskyy stands with other officials, one of whom — the prime minister — shows his phone to prove that it’s current.

1:25 a.m. Consensus among EU nations remains elusive on the severity of financial sanctions, including the option of banning Russia from the SWIFT global interbank system.

In a meeting of European ministers of economy and finance in Paris, France’s Bruno Le Maire maintains that “all the options are on the table.”

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner expresses cautious openness to a SWIFT ban.

“We are open, but you have to know what you’re doing,” Lindner tells reporters.

1:15 a.m. “NATO should have taken a more decisive step” in response to the Ukraine crisis, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells reporters after Friday prayers, adding that Ukraine needs more than just “advice” from Western capitals.

“Without a determined stance, a situation emerges described by [Ukrainian] President Zelenskyy as ‘They are only giving us advice, no support,’ which is against friendship and solidarity.”

12:50 a.m. The European Union plans to freeze assets of Russian President Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, The Washington Post and other media report, citing people familiar with the talks.

“What is important today is that Mr. Putin and Mr. Lavrov, who are responsible for this situation, will now be severely sanctioned by the European Union,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says.

12:20 a.m. U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urges Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to “stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Friday, Feb. 25

8:40 p.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Russian President Vladimir Putin that China supports resolving the Ukraine issue through negotiation. Xi says China maintains a consistent basic position on respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and abiding by the purposes and principles of the United Nations charter, according to a tweet by the state-run Global Times.

A report on the talks by China’s CCTV says Putin explained the historical background and the status of Russia’s military operation, stressing that the U.S. and NATO had ignored Russia’s concerns. The report says Russia is willing to hold high-level talks with Ukraine. According to the state broadcaster, Xi said China would decide its position based on the merits of the Ukraine issue itself.

6:40 p.m. Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, praises Japan’s “swift and certain” sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine, warning that a lack of a coordinated response could threaten stability in Asia. “It should be noted why the countries in the Indo-Pacific led by Japan but including Australia and New Zealand, South Korea have spoken up,” Emanuel says in a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “Because whether it’s in Europe or here in the Indo-Pacific, there are basic tenets and principles that uphold the system.”

5:00 p.m. Japan’s Rakuten Group CEO Hiroshi Mikitani says the company will provide coupons for Ukrainian users to make free international calls with its Viber Out service. Viber, which the Japanese e-commerce group acquired in 2014, has 96% market penetration in Ukraine. “A social platform is what we are pursuing … so we hope a democratic government will be maintained,” Mikitani said during a Friday news conference in Tokyo.

4:33 p.m. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expresses concern over the economic fallout of the Ukraine conflict on developing countries during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Khan was the first world leader to meet Putin since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine, having arrived in Moscow for a previously planned visit just hours before the attack began.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at a news conference in Moscow on Feb. 10. (Kremlin via Reuters)

4:24 p.m. Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin discussed ways to protect bilateral ties in response to sanctions against Russia, Tokayev’s office says. Kazakhstan is closely allied with Russia and leads economic and military blocs tied to Moscow. The Kazakh tenge has plummeted along with the ruble since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday.

3:00 p.m. A few dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the Russian Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, to protest against the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The protesters from multinational backgrounds held up placards calling on Russia and President Vladimir Putin to stop the aggression. Ukrainian participants sang their national anthem in solidarity with their country.

2:15 p.m. U.S. wheat futures hit their highest in nearly 14 years as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stokes fears of disruptions in the supply of grain from the key Black Sea region. The most active CBOT May wheat contract was up 0.9% at $9.43 a bushel, after peaking at $9.60-3/4 earlier in the session, its highest since June 2008.

Wheat’s sharp gains over the past few days highlight that the market sees a high chance of wheat from Russia being largely sanctioned off market, said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, according to Reuters.

A wheat field near the Ukrainian village of Zhovtneve. Sharp rises in the price of wheat over the past few days indicate investors see a high chance that sanctions will remove Russian wheat from the market.

  © Reuters

10:50 a.m. Australia imposes more sanctions against Russia, targeting several of its elite citizens and lawmakers. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also says it is “unacceptable” that China was easing trade restrictions with Moscow at the time when it invaded Ukraine.

10:38 a.m. Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang says the island will join democratic countries in putting sanctions on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, although he did not give details, Reuters reports.

9:57 a.m. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says the country will impose additional sanctions on Russia, including restrictions on chip exports. “The Ukraine invasion by Russia is a serious issue affecting international order that includes not only Europe but also Asia,” Kishida told reporters in a news conference.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, before the Quad meeting of foreign ministers in Melbourne on Feb. 11.

  © Reuters

8:00 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after President Joe Biden said Washington had not yet worked out its coordination with New Delhi on the Ukraine conflict.

“Secretary Blinken stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and cease-fire,” according to a statement by State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Neither side provided details on what, if anything, the top diplomats agreed on.

7:00 a.m. U.S. markets swing wildly in reaction to the Ukraine conflict, setting up a turbulent trading day in Asia. The S&P 500 index closes with a gain after taking an early dive.

6:10 a.m. The European Council “condemns in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.”

5:50 a.m. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi tells Putin in a phone call that NATO’s expansion is a “serious threat” to the region’s security and stability, Reuters reports, citing the semiofficial Nour News.

5:20 a.m. The International Atomic Energy Agency issues a statement on the situation in Ukraine: “Regarding the situation at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine has informed the IAEA that ‘unidentified armed forces’ have taken control of all facilities of the State Specialized Enterprise Chernobyl NPP, located within the exclusion zone. The counterpart added that there had been no casualties nor destruction at the industrial site. Director General [Rafael] Grossi said it is of vital importance that the safe and secure operations of the nuclear facilities in that zone should not be affected or disrupted in any way.”

5:00 a.m. Responding to the Russian attack, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Putin by telephone to appeal for “an immediate cessation of violence,” according to the prime minister’s office. Read here.

4:50 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden announces new sanctions against Russia following the invasion, trying to cripple the country’s ability to conduct business with the world and ultimately pressure the Russian president to reverse course. “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden tells a news conference. Read here.

Thursday, Feb. 24

11:15 p.m. Leaders from the Group of Seven advanced economies hold an emergency virtual meeting, agreeing to bring forward “severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions” against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“This crisis is a serious threat to the rules-based international order, with ramifications well beyond Europe,” they say in a joint statement issued after the summit. “We call on the Russian Federation to stop the bloodshed, to immediately de-escalate and to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.” Read here.

11:00 p.m. While the conflict unfolds in Ukraine, in Asia, Taiwan says it had scrambled jets in response to Chinese aircraft entering its air defense zone.

9:05 p.m. China’s embassy in Ukraine notifies Chinese nationals there that given the rapidly worsening situation, the embassy is preparing charter planes to fly back citizens in batches. The deadline to apply for a spot is midnight on Feb. 27.

9:01 p.m. In Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s first comments on the Ukraine conflict, he says, “We find the military operation unacceptable and reject it.”

“This step is against international law and strikes heavy blow to the region’s peace tranquillity and stability,” Erdogan says in a televised speech, adding, “We are saddened that Russia and Ukraine, both friendly countries with which we have close political economic and social relations, are facing off each other.”

5:10 p.m. “Whether or not Putin deepens the crisis with a further shock and awe attack to conduct a regime change in Kyiv or decides to consolidate his conquests in the southeast of Ukraine, there will be a series of significant impacts in Asia,” writes Adm. James Stavridis, the 16th supreme allied commander of NATO. Read his op-ed here.

12:02 p.m. Putin addresses Russians in a televised speech, saying a “special military operation” is underway in Ukraine. He says the goal is not to occupy the country but “demilitarize” it.

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