Ukraine war: NATO ‘to agree major increase’ in eastern Europe forces, says Stoltenberg

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Ukraine war: NATO 'to agree major increase' in eastern Europe forces, says Stoltenberg

British troops and military equipment upon their arrival at Estonia's NATO Battle Group base in Tapa, Estonia, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.   —  

The war in Ukraine rages on after the invasion was launched by Moscow on 24 February.

Fighting has forced more than ten million Ukrainians to flee their homes and more than 3.5 million to flee the country, with thousands of people killed or wounded and widespread damage in the wake of shelling and aerial bombardments.

Follow our live updates below and watch our live TV coverage in the video player above.

07:07

Latest updates:

    NATO will deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Stoltenberg says.

    In a speech to the French parliament, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has called on French companies still operating in Russia to leave the stop backing Moscow’s ‘war machine’.

    The United Nations will consider three resolutions on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the war in Ukraine «morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical.»

    Russian shelling injured four in Kyiv, according to the city administration.

    Ukrainian leaders say nine humanitarian convoys have been agreed upon on Wednesday.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia seized a convoy en route to the port city of Mariupol in a speech on Tuesday night.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Putin hasn’t ‘yet’ achieved military goals and refused to rule out Russia using nuclear weapons.

15:38

French companies must stop backing ‘Russia’s war machine’ — Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday urged French companies established in Russia to stop supporting the Russian «war machine» and to leave the country, citing Renault, Auchan and Leroy Merlin.

«French companies must leave the Russian market. Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others, they must stop being sponsors of Russia’s war machine», he declared in a speech broadcast by videoconference before French deputies and senators.

Zelenskyy compared the Russian destruction in his country to the Battle of Verdun in World War One.

«Mariupol and other cities remind us of Verdun,» Volodymyr Zelenskyy said by video link.

‘The Russian army do not distinguish between the objects they target, they destroy everything: residential districts, hospitals, schools, universities, everything,» he said. «They’ve brought terror to Ukrainian territory.» 

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Ukraine war: NATO 'to agree major increase' in eastern Europe forces, says Stoltenberg

Watch: Stop backing Russia’s war machine, Zelenskyy tells French firms

«French companies must leave the Russian market. Renault, Auchan, Leroy Merlin and others, they must stop being sponsors of Russia’s war machine,» the Ukrainian president told French lawmakers.

15:07

Kyiv mayor says 264 civilians killed in city

The mayor of Kyiv says Russian forces have killed 264 civilians, including four children, in the Ukraine capital since the war started last month.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Wednesday that battles were being waged in the area of Liutizh, a village 30 kilometres north of Kyiv and that Ukrainian forces have wrested back control of areas to the north-west and the north-east of the city, including most of Irpin.

He said the western town of Makariv has also been taken back by Ukrainian troops.

Klitschko spoke to reporters in the capital Kyiv in a central park overlooking the city. Explosions and gunfire could be heard in the background as he spoke.

(AP)

14:55

NATO to deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Stoltenberg says

NATO will deploy four new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to reinforce the military alliance’s eastern flank, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday ahead of an alliance summit on Thursday.

Stoltenberg said hundreds of thousands of NATO ally troops were at «heightened readiness» across the alliance, including 100,000 US troops in Europe, backed by air and naval power.

At the NATO summit tomorrow, Stoltenberg said allies would likely provide additional support to Ukraine including cybersecurity assistance and equipment to help Ukraine «protect against chemical, biological and radiological and nuclear threats.»

Stoltenberg maintained however that NATO had a duty to make sure that the war does not escalate as it would cause more «death and destruction».

14:41

Biden says threat of Russian using chemical weapons is ‘real’

US President Joe Biden said there was a «real threat» of Russia using chemical weapons in response to a journalist’s question outside the White House as he left to travel to Europe.

Biden will attend a NATO and EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and will travel to Poland, which has taken in more than two million Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war last month.

Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the president was travelling to Europe «to reinforce the incredible unity we built with Allies and partners in response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and to consult on next steps.»

14:16

Putin says Russian gas delivered to EU should be paid for in rubles

Russia will no longer accept payments in dollars or euros for gas deliveries to the EU, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, giving Russian authorities a week to implement the new ruble system.

«I have taken the decision to implement a set of measures to switch to payment in rubles for our gas delivered to hostile countries,» Putin said at a government meeting.

(AFP)

14:14

Italy wants EU to engage with China to make sure it is not supporting Russian invasion

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the European Union must engage with China to make sure it does not show support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Draghi told Parliament on Wednesday that the EU summit with China on April 1 must underline the bloc’s expectations that Beijing will be a constructive and authoritative player for peace.

“It’s fundamental that the EU is compact in keeping open spaces for dialogue with Beijing so that it contributes in a constructive way to the international mediation effort,» Draghi said.

«We must repeat our expectations that Beijing abstains from actions supporting Moscow and participates actively and authoritatively in the peace effort,” he added.

(AP)

13:17

Environmental think tanks urge EU to stop imports of Russian gas

Four environmental think tanks say the European Union can stop its imports of Russian gas by 2025, allowing the bloc to end its dependence in the medium term on a key energy source that’s been called into question amid the war in Ukraine.

A report published Wednesday by Ember, E3G, the Regulatory Assistance Project and Bellona concludes that ramping up solar and wind power, reducing demand and electrification can replace two-thirds of Russian gas imports within three years.

It suggests that the remaining shortfall can be met through existing gas infrastructure, without the need to build new terminals for LNG imports that some countries are now eyeing.

(AP)

12:02

International Red Cross president in Moscow to discuss humanitarian aid in Ukraine

Peter Maurer, the International Committee of the Red Cross president, travelled to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss humanitarian efforts to help people in Ukraine.

«The devastation caused by the conflict in recent weeks, as well as eight years of conflict in Donbas, has been vast,» said Maurer in a statement, adding there are steps guided by international humanitarian law that limit suffering.

«I was in Kyiv last week and I’m in Moscow this week to continue the discussion with the authorities on these steps.»

The Red Cross said that «neutral and impartial humanitarian space must be agreed upon and respected» in order to reach those in need.

Maurer will also meet with the Russian Red Cross which is helping people who fled eastern Ukraine.

11:50

Zelenskyy calls for UN reform in speech to Japanese parliament

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for UN reform, stressing that it had not prevented Russia from invading Ukraine in a speech to the Japanese parliament.

Zelenskyy said that he was pleased that Japan was «the first nation in Asia to put pressure» on Russia.

«Neither the United Nations nor the Security Council has worked. Reforms are required,» Zelenskyy added.

«We need a tool to preemptively ensure global security. Existing international organisations do not work for this purpose. So we need to develop a new preemptive tool that can actually stop invasions,» he said.

(AFP)

Additional sources • AP, AFP

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