In the early hours of Thursday morning 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially announced the start of a "special military operation" against Ukraine. Russia has said that its operation in Ukraine is not the beginning of a war, but an attempt to prevent a world war.
But many countries around the world, including Europe and the United States, immediately condemned Russia's move as a war against Ukraine and began to redouble their diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia.
On Monday, during talks in Belarus, Russian and Ukrainian delegations agreed to hold a new round of negotiations on the Belarusian-Polish border in the next few days, after they "found several points on which you can forecast a common position".
Here are all the latest updates:
Russia will not allow Ukraine to create nuclear weapons: Lavrov
Ukraine has the technical potential for creating nuclear weapons and Russia will not allow it to do that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Al Jazeera TV Channel on Wednesday.
It is necessary to define specific types of weapons that will never be created in Ukraine, Russia’s top diplomat emphasized.
"There is technical, technological potential [for Ukraine to create nuclear weapons]. This is what [Russian] President Vladimir Putin spoke about and our experts also commented on this situation. I can say responsibly that we will not allow that. There must be defined specific types of strike weapons that will never be deployed or created in Ukraine," Lavrov pointed out.
The aim of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine is to "protect people, first of all, in Donbass," the foreign minister said.
US imposes full blocking sanctions on 22 Russian defence-related entities
The United States is imposing full blocking sanctions on 22 Russian defense-related entities in response to Russia's military operation in Ukraine, the White House said on Wednesday.
"The Department of State will impose sweeping sanctions that target Russia’s defense sector," the White House said in a press release.
"This action will impose significant costs on Russian weapon development and production companies. In total, 22 Russian defense-related entities will be designated, including firms that make combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia’s military."
White House says Biden extends US National Emergency regarding Ukraine
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday extended the national emergency regarding Ukraine by one year due to continued national security and foreign policy threats posed to the United States by the situation in the Eastern European country.
Ukrainian delegation has not yet arrived for talks with Russia
The Ukrainian delegation has not yet arrived in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in Belarus where negotiations with the Russian representatives will take place and urged the Russian side to wait for the real start of the dialogue, Ukraine’s presidential office adviser Mikhail Podolyak said on Wednesday.
"It is doubtful that without the presence of the other [Ukrainian] side at the negotiating table, negotiations can really take place. So just wait for the real beginning of the dialogue," he said on his Twitter.
The Russian delegation has already arrived in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. According to Russia’s chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky, the Ukrainian delegation is already on its way to negotiations, their arrival is expected on March 3.
"As far as I know, the Ukrainian delegation has already left Kiev and is on its way now. <...> We are waiting for them tomorrow," the chief negotiator noted.
The Russian delegation arrived for talks with the Ukrainian side in the same composition. In addition to Vladimir Medinsky, it included Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko, Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Slutsky as well as Russia’s Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov.
Russia-Ukraine talks to discuss ceasefire: Russian team head
Issues related to a ceasefire and the need for a humanitarian corridor will be discussed at the upcoming Russian-Ukrainian talks, Russian Presidential Aide Vladimir Medinsky, who heads Russia’s delegation, told reporters on Wednesday.
"We discussed our positions at our previous meetings, Russia put forward a number of initiatives related to an immediate ceasefire," he pointed out when asked if the agenda of the second round of talks included a ceasefire and humanitarian corridor issues.
The first round of Russian-Ukrainian talks was held in the Gomel region of Belarus on February 28. Russia’s delegation was led by Medinsky. He said earlier that the Russian delegation was prepared to hold talks with Ukraine until agreements were reached.
Russia expects Ukrainian officials to arrive in Belarus for the next round of talks on Thursday morning, Russian news agencies has cited Moscow’s negotiator Vladimir Medinsky as saying.
EU preparing fourth wave of sanctions against Russia
Austrian FM Alexander Schallenberg announced Wednesday a new package of sanctions targeting the wealthiest Russian businessmen was in the EU’s pipeline, on top of the “powerful” sanctions already introduced.
Schallenberg cited closures of Russian stock exchanges and the ruble’s plummeting value as signs that Western punitive measures were working.
He added that a meeting between top EU diplomats and US Sec State Anthony Blinken was scheduled for next Friday.
UNGA passes resolution demanding Russia stop military operation in Ukraine
The UN General Assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday demanding that Russia cease its military operation in Ukraine.
The resolution was adopted by a majority of the 193-member UN General Assembly.
The vote saw 141 countries vote in favour, 35 abstaining and five against.
The vote follows a UN General Assembly emergency special session on the situation in Ukraine on Monday and Tuesday.
Russian delegation arrive in Belarus for talks with Ukraine
The Russian delegation is led by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, who said earlier that the Russian delegation was ready to speak with the Ukrainian side as long as it may take to reach agreements.
According to the head of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Medinsky, the Ukrainian delegation are on their way from Kiev and will arrive on Thursday morning, Sputnik reported.
Risks of Russia-NATO clash do exist says Russia dep. foreign min.
Risks of a clash between Russian and NATO forces do exist. There are no guarantees some incidents will not take place, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on the Rossiya-24 round-the-clock television news channel on Wednesday.
"Risks do emerge. Of course, we are worried about weapons supplies. All this is very dangerous," he said. "There are no guarantees some incidents will not occur."
At the same time, Grushko added that Russia turned an attentive ear to NATO’s statement the alliance had no plans for military intervention.
"This is an indication that some common sense is present in NATO’s actions. We are interested in NATO taking a position that would protect our own national interests," Grushko said. "All messages to this effect were sent at the summit level."
China will not join sanctions against Russia
China’s banking and insurance regulator said on Wednesday that the country opposes and will not join financial sanctions against Russia.
“Everyone is watching the recent military conflict, or war, between Russia and Ukraine,” Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said at a press conference in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation. “China’s position has been stated clearly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our international policies are consistent.”
“Regarding financial sanctions, we do not support that,” said Guo, noting particular opposition to “unilateral” sanctions, which he said don’t effectively address problems. “China won’t join such sanctions.“
Ukrainian official says Russian cruise missile strikes Kharkiv city council building
Russian forces have fired a cruise missile into the city council building in Kharkiv, the deputy governor of the region Roman Semenukha claimed.
Johnson, Zelensky agree on need to strengthen sanctions against Russia
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday agreed with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky during a telephone conversation on the necessity of additional sanctions against Russia, Downing Street said in a statement.
"Both leaders agreed on the need for sanctions to go further to exert maximum pressure on President Putin in the coming days," the readout of Johnson’s call with Zelensky said.
UK PM urges UN members to demand Russia withdraw from Ukraine
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said that Britain was pushing UN members meeting in New York to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine, reports news agency AFP.
“We call on every nation to join us in condemning Russia and demanding that Putin turns his tanks around,” he told parliament, warning that the Russian leader faces further sanctions if he does not.
2nd round of Russian-Ukrainian talks to take place Wed. evening: Zelensky’s office
The new meeting between the Ukrainian and Russian delegation will take place Wednesday evening in the same membership as before, says Alexey Arestovich, advisor to the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office.
"The second round of talks with Russia will take place later on March 2, in the same membership as before, he said, according to Hromadske TV.
He added that Ukraine will "hold its ground."
EU switches off 7 Russian banks from SWIFT
The European Union has announced the removal of seven Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank messaging network. The list includes VTB, Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Bank Rossiya, Sovcombank, and VEB. Several other Russian banks, slapped with western sanctions, were not affected by the move.
Russia envoy to London says severing ties with UK 'possible'
Russian Ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin has not ruled out the possibility of Moscow severing diplomatic ties with London over its decision to impose sanctions on Russia over the operation in Ukraine, Sputnik reported.
Kelin noted that if no solution is presented to resolve the issue of the embassy's funding, impeded by the sanctions, the Kremlin might take steps against the British Embassy in Moscow. For now, Russian diplomatic facilities continue to operate, the ambassador added.
"We are working, as usual, we are not cancelling anything, consular services are being provided", Kelin said.
UN says more than 875,000 people fled Ukraine
Nearly 875,000 people have now fled Ukraine since Russia launched its military operation in the country, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
Many have fled into neighbouring Poland, which has received more than 450,000 people so far.
The overall number has risen rapidly and is expected to continue to climb quickly.
Russia cancelled Black Sea passage bid of four warships: Turkey
Russia has cancelled a bid to send four of its warships through Turkish waters into the Black Sea at Turkey’s request, according to the Turkish government.
Third World War would be nuclear, disastrous: Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that a Third World War would be nuclear and disastrous.
Touching upon the situation in Ukraine in an interview with Al Jazeera, he said that Moscow is preparing for the second round of talks with Kyiv, but that the Ukrainian side is dragging its feet at the behest of Washington.
"We are ready for the second round of the negotiations, but the Ukrainian side is playing for time on the US' orders", Lavrov pointed out.
Russia’s special operation in Ukraine was launched with the aim of disarming the current regime in Kyiv and preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons, Sergey Lavrov said.
"The military operation in Ukraine, including Kyiv, is aimed at disarming Ukraine. Russia will not let Ukraine obtain nuclear weapons," Al Jazeera quotes Lavrov as saying.
Russia 'ready' to continue talks with Ukraine Wednesday evening: Kremlin
Russia's delegation will arrive for the next round of talks with Ukraine’s representatives late in the afternoon on Wednesday, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"Our delegation will be there late in the afternoon. [It will] wait for Ukrainian negotiators. Our delegation will be ready to continue the conversation tonight," he noted.
However, the Kremlin spokesman declined to clarify the location of the meeting.
Peskov pointed to "a certain element of contradictory information" in the media concerning the talks.
Ukrainian flag removed at Moscow embassy
The Ukrainian flag has been brought down at the country’s embassy in Moscow, Russian state news agency RIA reported Wednesday.
According to RIA, a sign indicating the building was home to the Ukrainian embassy was also removed and the doors sealed.
The Ukrainian government severed diplomatic ties with Russia on February 24.
More explosions reported in Kharkiv
Kharkiv's regional police department and Kharkiv National University have been targeted in a military strike Wednesday morning, according to Ukraine’s State Emergency Service.
The videos show the buildings engulfed by fire and emergency personnel attending the scene. Three people were injured, according to a statement from the state's emergency service.
Mariupol under heavy shelling, mayor says
Ukraine’s key southeastern port city of Mariupol is under constant shelling from Russian forces, its mayor says.
“We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland,” Vadym Boichenko said live on Ukrainian TV.
The intensity of the attacks meant it was proving impossible to evacuate those who had been wounded, he added.
2nd round of Russia-Ukraine talks to be held Wednesday
The second round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine will probably take place on Wednesday evening or later, a diplomatic source said.
"The negotiations were not cancelled, but their time was postponed. They can take place on the evening of March 2 or later," the source said.
Zelensky says Russia wants to 'erase' Ukraine and its history
Zelensky has claimed that nearly 6,000 Russians have been killed during the first six days of Moscow’s attack and warned the Kremlin it will not be able to take control of Ukraine with bombs and air raids.
“They don’t know a thing about Kyiv, about our history. But they all have orders to erase our history, erase our country, erase us all,” in a video address, the Ukrainian president said about the Russian strike in Kyiv on Tuesday.
Russian troops destroy 1,502 Ukrainian military facilities
The Russian troops have wiped out 1,502 Ukrainian military facilities and destroyed 47 aircraft since the start of the special operation in Ukraine, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.
"Over the period of the special operation, 1,502 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities have been crippled, including 51 command and communications centers of the Ukrainian armed forces, 38 S-300, Buk M-1 and Osa surface-to-air missile systems and 51 radar stations," the spokesman said.
The Russian troops have also destroyed 47 planes on the ground and 11 aircraft in the air, 472 tanks and other combat armored vehicles, 62 multiple launch rocket systems, 206 field artillery guns and mortars, 336 special military motor vehicles and 46 unmanned aerial vehicles," the general said.
Russia’s MoD says Armed Forces taken control of Kherson
Russia’s Ministry of Defense has confirmed strikes on what it claims are part of Ukraine’s psyops infrastructure, including a TV tower in Kyiv, as well as Moscow forces taking control of Kherson, RT reported.
Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that Russian military units have taken full control of the Ukrainian regional centre of Kherson.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Kherson's infrastructure, support facilities, and urban transport are operating on a daily basis.
He added that the Russian military is now taking control of the settlements of Tokmak and Vasilyevka, where Ukrainian Army servicemen earlier gave up resistance and voluntarily laid down their arms.
Ukrainian official says at least 21 killed, 112 wounded in shelling of Kharkiv
At least 21 people have been killed and 112 wounded in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, regional governor Oleg Synegubov has said.
Belarus to host new round of Russian-Ukrainian talks
A new round of negotiations between the delegations of Ukraine and Russia is expected on Wednesday. According to Russia's TASS news agency, the talks are to be held on the territory of Belarus, in its western area of Bialowieza Forest.
South Korea to ban 7 Russian banks
South Korea will ban financial transactions with seven major Russian banks and their affiliates as part of its economic sanctions on Russia.
The country’s Finance Ministry on Tuesday released a detailed plan on the sanctions after consulting with the US Department of the Treasury.
The seven Russian banks are Sberbank, VEB, PSB, VTB, Otkritie, Sovcom and Novikom.
Putin issues new decree amid West sanctions
Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a decree prohibiting Russians from leaving the country with more than $10,000 in foreign currency.
Russian airborne troops land in Ukraine's Kharkiv
Russian airborne troops landed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, the Ukrainian army said, adding that there were immediate clashes.
"Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv... and attacked a local hospital," the army said in a statement on messaging app Telegram. "There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians."
Visa, Mastercard block Russian financial institutions
US payment card firms Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc have blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from their network, complying with sanctions imposed on Moscow.
US closes its airspace for Russian flights
The US authorities are closing the country’s airspace for Russian aircraft, US President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address to the US Congress.
"Today I’m announcing that we are joining our allies and closing off the American airspace to all Russian flights," he said.
Biden says Ukrainian operation was premediated
US President Joe Biden claimed on Tuesday Russia had rejected attempts to solve European security issues through diplomatic means because it was planning a special operation in Ukraine from the very outset.
"Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready," the US President was quoted as saying in excerpts from his State of the Union Address, published by the White House website and expected to be delivered in coming hours.
"The costs and threats to America and the world keep rising," Biden said. "That’s why the NATO Alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War 2. The United States is a member along with 29 other nations. It matters. American diplomacy matters."
Joe Biden said Putin is isolated by the world more than ever. “Together with our allies, we are enforcing sanctions on Russia… We are choking Russia’s access to technology,” Biden said.
Italy’s Eni to pull out of Russia-Turkey pipeline
Italian oil giant Eni said that it will withdraw from the Blue Stream gas pipeline linking Russia to Turkey in which it has a 50 percent stake.
World Bank preparing $3bn aid package for Ukraine
The World Bank said that it is preparing a $3bn aid package for Ukraine, which will include at least $350m in immediate funds.
The first tranche of the aid “will be submitted to the Board for approval this week, followed by $200m in fast-disbursing support for health and education,” the World Bank said in a joint statement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
EU bans Russian media outlets, banks from SWIFT
The EU has banned Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik from broadcasting in the bloc while banning “certain” Russian banks from the SWIFT bank messaging system, the EU’s rotating presidency said.
The moves, due to come into force on Wednesday after publication in the official journal of the EU, come as Brussels intensifies its sanctions on Moscow.
Russian forces entered Kherson, says Ukrainian Official
Russian forces have entered the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, but Ukraine still controls the city administration building, Ukrainian interior ministry advisor Vadym Denysenko said on television on Tuesday.
Miles-long Russian convoy appears stalled near Kyiv, says US official
An enormous Russian military convoy is lumbering towards the capital, Kyiv.
A senior US defence official told reporters the convoy appeared to stall on Tuesday, however, due to a number of factors, including the Ukrainian resistance that the Russian troops have faced.
Boeing suspends technical support services to Russian air carriers
US aircraft maker Boeing has suspended technical support services and deliveries of parts to Russian air carriers, Reuters journalist David Shepardson said on Twitter citing a Boeing statement.
"We are also suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines," he quoted the statement as saying.
Earlier, Boeing suspended operations of its Kyiv office and training center in Skolkovo, near Moscow.