Ukraine latest: Russia ‘frustrated’ at level of resistance, U.S. says

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:

— 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

— Biden unveils new Russia sanctions, keeps quiet on China’s role

Ukraine conflict will have a significant impact on Asia

Entries include files from wire services and Nikkei Asia reporters.

Here are the latest developments:

Sunday, Feb. 27 (Tokyo time)

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 Sergei 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 cancelled 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 Kiev. 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 ceasefire,” 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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