Ukraine’s Zelensky seeks US support, sanctions against Russia

Sunday March 06 2022
Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces

Fighters of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces, the military reserve of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, stand guard on the position at Independence Square in Kyiv on March 2, 2022.

By AFP

Kyiv.Hours after addressing US lawmakers in a video call, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky phones US President Joe Biden to discuss financial support and sanctions against Russia. 

He had pressed legislators for additional funding and an embargo on Russian oil imports -- though the White House has so far ruled out such a ban for fear of driving up consumer prices. 

Zelensky also says he is pleading for Russian-made planes that his citizens are trained to fly.  

Visa and MasterCard suspensions

Card payment giants Visa and MasterCard join the growing list of international brands refusing to do business with Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Biden welcomes the move as the United States, allies and corporations seek to freeze Moscow out of the world economy. 

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Read: Visa, Mastercard suspend operations in Russia

Ceasefire collapses

Russia resumes its offensive against the besieged south eastern city of Mariupol after a ceasefire agreed to allow the evacuation of civilians breaks down. Each side blames the other.

Officials in Mariupol had announced plans for a large-scale evacuation during the ceasefire but later said they had to postpone the operation in the face of continued Russian shelling.

Russia accused Ukrainian forces in Mariupol of blocking residents from leaving.

MSF warns that the humanitarian situation in the city is "catastrophic" and that it is "imperative" to set up a humanitarian corridor.

Nearing Kyiv

Russian forces inch closer to the capital Kyiv from the north and west.

AFP witnesses scenes of widespread destruction in the northern town of Chernihiv, where dozens of civilians have been killed in shelling, missile attacks and air raids.

Putin threatens statehood

Russian President Vladimir Putin warns Ukraine it might lose its statehood if its leaders "continue to do what they are doing". 

He also directs threats at NATO, saying any countries imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine will be considered enemy combatants, while equating the global sanctions on his country to a declaration of war.  

Zelensky has pleaded for a no-fly zone, but NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg rejects the call, saying it could lead to a wider war in Europe.

More than 1.37 million flee

More than 1.37 million people have fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries since Russia invaded last week, the UN says.

Read: One million refugees fled Ukraine in week: UNHCR

Israeli PM visits Putin

In his first face-to-face with a foreign leader since the invasion, Putin holds three-hour talks with Israeli Premier Naftali Bennett.

Bennett, who has not joined the chorus of world leaders forcefully condemning Russia's attack, later speaks with Zelensky.

Media blackout

A host of international broadcasters, including the BBC, CNN, Italy's RAI and Germany's ARD and ZDF, say they will stop reporting from Russia after it passed a law punishing the publication of what it calls "fake news" about its invasion with jail terms of up to 15 years.

Award-winning independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta says it will also stop reporting on the war in Ukraine in light of the new law.

No ticket out

Russian flagship airline Aeroflot says it is suspending all its international flights beginning March 8, except to neighbouring Belarus.

The move compounds the international isolation of Russia, which is already being shunned by foreign airlines and travel operators.

More talks planned

One of Ukraine's negotiators says a third round of talks with Russia on ending the fighting will take place on Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Moscow is ready for dialogue over Ukraine if all its demands are met.

Russia isolated

Russia is more isolated than ever after a historic vote at the UN Human Rights Council for a probe into violations committed during the war on Ukraine, with only Eritrea siding with Moscow.

'Devastating' economic impacts

The already "serious" global economic impacts of the war in Ukraine would be "all the more devastating" should the conflict escalate, the IMF warns.

"Price shocks will have an impact worldwide, especially on poor households for whom food and fuel are a higher proportion of expenses," the international lender says. 

It adds that emergency financial assistance requested by Ukraine amounts to USD1.4 billion.