What you need to know right now
- Ukraine denied Russia's claim that its forces had taken the Black Sea port of Kherson. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.
- A Ukrainian delegation has departed for a second round of talks with Russia, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters.
- Zelenskiy told Reuters and CNN Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before meaningful talks on a ceasefire could start.
- French President Emmanuel Macron said the war was Russian President Vladmir Putin's responsibility alone, adding: The days ahead are likely to be increasingly difficult."
- More than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine since the fighting began, most crossing into Poland and Romania.
- The rouble hit record lows and surging oil prices exacerbated concerns of inflation in the global economy.
- The European Union and United States imposed new sanctions on Belarus for its supporting role in the invasion.
- Russian businessman Roman Abramovich said he would sell London's Chelsea Football Club and donate money from the sale to help victims of the war.
- Foreign investors are effectively stuck with their holdings of Russian stocks and rouble-denominated bonds after the central bank put a temporary halt on payments and major overseas' settlement systems stopped accepting Russian assets.
- With some of the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchanges staying put in Russia, the European Union and United States said they would include crypto currencies in sanctions.
- After U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russia's oligarchs and officials "we are coming for your ill-begotten gains", the United States said a new federal "KleptoCapture" task force would investigate and prosecute sanctions violations.
21:50pm Ukraine denied Russia's claim that its forces had taken the Black Sea port of Kherson. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.
A Ukrainian delegation has departed for a second round of talks with Russia, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters.
Zelenskiy told Reuters and CNN Russia must stop bombing Ukrainian cities before meaningful talks on a ceasefire could start.
Talked to @JustinTrudeau. Thanked him for the leadership in imposing anti-Russian sanctions. Stressed the need to expand restrictive measures. The bombing of civilians in Ukraine must be stopped immediately.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 2, 2022
20:15pm: A powerful explosion was heard near the central rail station of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Wednesday, said interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko in an online post.
A Reuters witness in Kyiv reported hearing a huge blast that made the earth shake.
The rocket strike near Kyiv rail station may have cut off central heating supply to parts of the Ukrainian capital amid freezing winter temperatures, said interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko in an online post.
17:05pm: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow's invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.
Referring to Russia's attack on Babyn Yar - the site of a World War Two massacre of Jews by German occupation troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries - Zelenskiy said: "This strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign."
"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," he added in the address made on video.
I’m in constant contact with our trusted friend @eucopresident. We discussed the current situation on the battlefield and diplomatic efforts. Waiting for the positive signals about Ukraine's membership in the #EU. 🇺🇦➡️🇪🇺Advertisement
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 2, 2022
14:31pm: A Russian delegation is travelling to a meeting point for talks with Ukrainian counterparts, Belarus' Belta news agency reported ahead of negotiations that are expected to resume later on Wednesday.
Ukrainians said they were fighting on in the southern port of Kherson, the first sizeable city Russia claims to have seized, while Russian air strikes and bombardment caused devastation in cities that Moscow's bogged-down forces have failed to capture.
1.28pm: Ukraine has asked the Pope to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin about allowing humanitarian corridors to assist civilians affected by the war, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday. "I hope the conversation will take place," she said on live Ukrainian TV.
1.15pm: The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is suffering mass casualties and a water outage as it defends itself from a nonstop onslaught by Russian forces, Mayor Vadym Boichenko said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian TV on Wednesday.
"The enemy occupying forces of the Russian Federation have done everything to block the exit of civilians from the city of half a million people," he said. He did not provide an exact casualty figure.
12.56pm: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has killed more than 2,000 Ukrainian civilians and destroyed hundreds of structures including transport facilities, hospitals, kindergartens and homes, Ukraine's emergency service said. "Children, women and defence forces are losing their lives every hour," it said in a statement.
12.45pm: Potential disruption to global wheat supplies after Russia's invasion of Ukraine is raising concerns that war-torn Yemen's hunger crisis and food price inflation could deepen. Russia and Ukraine account for about 29 per cent of global wheat exports and interruption to that flow is pushing up global prices.
12.30pm: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he believed the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin towards Ukraine already qualify as a war crime. "What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin's regime in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians... in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime," he told his parliament.
12.10pm: Japan is ready to take in Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday. Kishida said he made the pledge during a phone conversation with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki. He said he also told German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in another phone call, that Japan would work closely with Berlin on supporting Ukraine.
12.05pm: Russian forces fired a cruise missile into the city council building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, the deputy governor of the region Roman Semenukha said. A key Russian target, Kharkiv has come under intense shelling over the past two days, with 21 people killed in the past day.
11.57am: Ukrainian protesters gathered outside the headquarters of Facebook and Google in Dublin this morning, over what they said are Russian state-backed accounts spreading misinformation about the invasion. An open letter was delivered by demonstrators, urging the tech giants to tackle and remove Kremlin-backed accounts.
11.55am: A second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place on Wednesday, Russia's TASS news agency cited an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as saying. TASS said the adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, was speaking on Ukraine-24 TV.
11.45am: An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday Russia had not captured Kherson and that there was street fighting going on in the southern port, which sits at the Dnepr river's exit into the Black Sea. "The city has not fallen, our side continues to defend," said the adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych.
11.25am: The Ukrainian central bank on Wednesday asked the International Monetary Fund and the Group of Seven major economies to limit the participation of Russian and Belarussian representatives in their activities. This would include banning them from attending meetings this spring of the IMF and the World Bank group.
11.20am: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy have agreed on a call that sanctions need to go further to exert maximum pressure on Russia's Vladimir Putin in coming days, a Downing Street spokesperson said on Wednesday. "The Prime Minister told President Zelenskyy that the UK was rallying UN General Assembly members today, to ensure the strongest possible condemnation of Russia at this afternoon's UN meeting in New York."
11.10am: A total of 5,309 people have been registered entering Germany from Ukraine according to federal police. "But as you know, there are no border controls, at least no regular border controls, only random checks. That's why it is very possible that significantly more people have already reached Germany," an interior ministry spokesperson told a news conference.
11.00am: Four more people were killed and nine wounded as a barrage of Russian air and rocket strikes pounded the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday morning, the local emergency services and Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
"Kharkiv is a Russian-speaking city. Every fourth person in Kharkiv has relatives in the Russian Federation. But the city's attitude to Russia today is completely different to what it ever was before," he said in an online video statement. "We never expected this could happen: total destruction, annihilation, genocide against the Ukrainian people - this is unforgivable."
10.50am: Russia will treat any hacking of its satellites as a justification for war, the head of the country's space agency was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin denied reports that Russian satellite control centres have already been hacked amid Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, while warning against any attempts to do so, Interfax news agency reported.
10.39am: Pope Francis asked people around the world to remember Ukrainians in underground shelters seeking protection from bombardments and thanked Poland for taking in the bulk of refugees from the war. He spoke at his weekly general audience on Ash Wednesday, which he has declared a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine.
After addressing Poles, the pope went off script to say that the Polish translator on the stage with him, Father Marek Viktor Gongalo, is Ukrainian. "His parents are now in underground shelters to protect themselves from the bombs in a place near Kyiv," the pope said.
10.30am: Russian officials are ready to hold a second round of talks with Ukraine on Wednesday but it is unclear whether Ukrainian officials will turn up, the Kremlin said. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there was contradictory information about the talks, which would follow a meeting at the Belarusian border on Monday that failed to produce a breakthrough.
10.20am: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that if a third World War were to take place, it would involve nuclear weapons and be destructive, the RIA news agency reported. Lavrov has said that Russia, which launched what it calls a special military operation against Ukraine last week, would face a "real danger" if Kyiv acquired nuclear weapons.
10.05am: Russia is gathering troops closer and closer to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital's mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote in an online post on Wednesday. "We are preparing and will defend Kyiv!," he added. "Kyiv stands and will stand."
9.55am: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has called on Russians to stage daily protests against Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, his spokesperson wrote on Twitter. "Alexei Navalny has called for people to go out and protest against the war every day at 19:00 and on weekends at 14:00. The main squares of your towns, wherever you are," spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote.
1/12 We - Russia - want to be a nation of peace. Alas, few people would call us that now.
— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) March 2, 2022
9.40am: European Union diplomats have approved new sanctions against Belarus for its supporting role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, an EU senior diplomat told Reuters on Wednesday.
A second official said this week that the aim of new sanctions against Minsk was stop exports of any further Belarusian goods to the EU, on top of those already subject to sanctions. Sanctions would also hit oligarchs, the central bank and would cut Belarusian banks off from the Swift banking system, the second official had said.
9.20am: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said it was difficult to foresee the scale and depth of Western sanctions on the Russian economy in response to Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency reported.
Western countries have taken unprecedented measures to isolate Russia's economy and financial system over its invasion of Ukraine, including sanctions on its central bank and the exclusion of some of its lenders from global payments system Swift.
9.10am: Mariupol city council said their southern city was under Ukrainian control but locked in battles with Russian troops. The council said on social media that Russian attackers were shelling civilian sites, including residential blocks, hospitals and dormitories for people displaced by fighting.
8.55am: Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that holding more talks with Russia was under discussion and that a "substantial agenda" was needed. Asked about the date for a second round of talks since Russia invaded its neighbour last week, Podolyak said: "It's under discussion for now. A substantial agenda is needed."
8.30am: The European Commission on Wednesday proposed granting temporary protection to people fleeing war in Ukraine, including a residence permit and access to employment and social welfare.
Designed to deal with mass arrivals of displaced persons in the EU, the new legislation will provide the same level of protection in all member states. The proposal, which had been previously announced, will be discussed by EU interior ministers on Thursday.
8.08am: Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine will become more brutal, British defence minister Ben Wallace said.
"Anyone who thinks logically would not do what he (Putin) is doing, so we are going to see... his brutality increase," he told LBC radio. "He doesn't get his way, he surrounds cities, he ruthlessly bombards them at night... and he will then eventually try and break them."
'I think President Putin is invading a sovereign country, he doesn't think international law applies to him, he doesn't seem to have any regard for human life...'
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace blasts the Russian leader.@NickFerrariLBC pic.twitter.com/XvytCPNj2K
— LBC (@LBC) March 2, 2022
8.00am: Belarus said on Wednesday it had stepped up security at its western and southern borders as Russia invades neighbouring Ukraine. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that his country had no plans to join Russia's military operation in Ukraine and dismissed Kyiv's allegations that Russian troops were attacking Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
7.52am: Ukraine's south-eastern port of Mariupol was under constant shelling from Russia and unable to evacuate the injured while Kherson, on the Black Sea to the west, was completely surrounded by invading forces, Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday.
"We are fighting, we are not ceasing to defend our motherland," Mariupol mayor Vadym Boichenko said live on Ukrainian TV.
7.40am: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow's invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.
Referring to Russia's attack on Babyn Yar - the site of a World War Two massacre of Jews by German occupation troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries - Zelenskiy said: "This strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign." He added: "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."
7.17am: Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday Russian armed forces have captured the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the Russian state-owned RIA news agency reported.
7.10am: Dozens of men in Japan have offered to join an "international legion" to fight Russian invaders after Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for volunteers. One said: "When I saw images of elderly men and women in Ukraine holding guns and going to the front, I felt I should go in their place."
6.48am: Over 450,000 people entered Poland from Ukraine since the Russian invasion of the country started last Thursday, Deputy Interior Minister Pawel Szefernaker told private Radio Zet on Wednesday. He added that the number of people entering Poland fell slightly on Tuesday to 98,000 from a record number of over 100,000 on Monday.
6.47am: At least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on Wednesday. Authorities have said Russian missile attacks hit the centre of Ukraine's second-largest city, including residential areas and the regional administration building.
US President Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that the Russian leader "has no idea what's coming", as Western nations tightened an economic noose around Russia, whose invading forces bombarded Ukrainian cities and appeared poised for an advance on Kyiv.
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled the fighting since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion nearly a week ago, with a miles-long Russian military convoy north of Kyiv readying to advance on the capital.
Yet, Russia has failed to capture a single major city in Ukraine and Western analysts say Moscow appears to have fallen back on tactics which call for devastating shelling of built-up areas before entering them.
"While he may make gains on the battlefield – he will pay a continuing high price over the long run," Biden said in his State of the Union address. Straying from the prepared text, Biden added "He has no idea what's coming." He did not elaborate.
US lawmakers stood, applauded and roared, many of them waving Ukrainian flags and wearing the country's blue and yellow colours, as Biden delivered his address to the chamber of the House of Representatives.
A senior US defence official said on Tuesday the invading force's advance on Kyiv has stalled due to logistics problems, including shortages of food and fuel, and some units appeared to have low morale.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters that it was unclear whether the convoy itself had stalled, but it was not making much progress.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Russia to stop bombarding civilians and resume talks.
"It's necessary to at least stop bombing people, just stop the bombing and then sit down at the negotiating table," he told Reuters and CNN in a joint interview in a heavily guarded government compound in Kyiv.
The United Nations General Assembly is set to reprimand Russia on Wednesday for invading Ukraine and demand that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, a move that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.
By Tuesday evening nearly half the 193-member General Assembly had signed on as co-sponsors of a draft resolution ahead of a vote on Wednesday, diplomats said. The text "deplores" Russia's "aggression against Ukraine."
Putin ordered the "special military operation" last Thursday in a bid to disarm Ukraine, capture the "neo-Nazis" he says are running the country and crush its hopes of closer ties to the West.
Russia's assault included strikes on Kyiv, though the heaviest bombardment so far appeared to be around Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv, near the border with Russia.
Dozens of residents there, including children, were killed when a Russian strategic bomber fired 16 guided missiles toward a residential area on Monday, Ukraine's defence ministry said.
West of Kyiv, in the city of Zhytomyr, four people, including a child, were killed on Tuesday by a Russian cruise missile, a Ukrainian official said.
In Ukraine's largely Russian-speaking city of Donetsk, in territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists, authorities said three civilians had been killed by Ukrainian shelling.
Reuters was not able to confirm any of the reports of casualties. The United Nations says at least 136 civilians have been killed in the invasion, but that the real number of people is likely much higher.
Vastly outmatched by Russia's military, in terms of raw numbers and firepower, Ukraine's own air force is still flying and its air defences are still deemed to be viable - a fact that is baffling military experts.
"The airspace is actively contested every day," a senior US defence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
'Freeze and seize'
Biden announced a further ratcheting up of sanctions on Moscow, joining the European Union and Canada in banning Russian planes from US airspace. He also said the Justice Department would seek to seize the yachts, luxury apartments and private jets of wealthy Russians with ties to Putin.
Following a call with Group of Seven officials, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States had agreed with G7 partners to convene a task force "to freeze and seize the assets of key Russian elites".
Ukraine, a Western-leaning democratic country of 44 million people which is not a member of Nato, has called on the US-led military alliance to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine - a request rejected by Washington, which fears stoking a direct conflict between the world's two biggest nuclear powers.
Washington and its allies have instead sent weapons to Kyiv.
Several dozen Japanese men have answered a Ukrainian call for foreign volunteers to fight Russia's invasion, according to a media report on Wednesday.
Isolating Russia diplomatically, the West's main strategy is shutting off Russia's economy from the global financial system, pushing international companies to halt sales, cut ties, and dump tens of billions of dollars' worth of investments.
Exxon Mobil joined other major Western energy companies including British BP PLC and Shell in announcing it would quit oil-rich Russia over the invasion.
Apple Inc stopped sales of iPhones and other products in Russia, and was making changes to its Maps app to protect civilians in Ukraine. Alphabet Inc's Google dropped Russian state publishers from its news, and Ford Motor suspended operations in the country.
US airplane manufacturer Boeing said it was suspending parts, maintenance and technical support for Russian airlines.
Russia on Tuesday placed temporary restrictions on foreigners seeking to exit Russia assets, meaning that billions of dollars worth of securities held by foreigners are at risk of being trapped.