Saturday, December 9, 2023


Firefighters walk on debris as a building burns following a Russian strike in Zhytomyr, Ukraine [Reuters]

By Farah Najjar

Russia warns residents of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to flee, steps up bombardment of eastern city of Kharkiv.


  • Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol under “constant” shelling as Russian forces push up from Crimea to Kherson.
  • A miles-long Russian military convoy appears stalled near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a senior US defence official says.
  • Ukrainian emergency services says an attack by Russian forces on a television tower near central Kyiv killed five people and wounded five others.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to US President Joe Biden, saying it is important to stop “aggressor” Russia.
  • At least 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Monday in a Russian artillery attack on a military base in Okhtyrka, a local official says.
  • EU bans Russian media outlets and “certain” banks from SWIFT bank messaging system.

Some 80,000 Ukrainians return home to fight Russia, ministry says

Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said 80,000 Ukrainians have returned home from abroad to join in the fight against Russia.

In a Telegram post, the ministry said the vast majority of returnees were men and they had joined the military ranks and other territorial defense forces.

US to ban Russian flights from American airspace, officials say

The US government is set to announce a ban on Russian flights from American airspace following similar moves by the European Union and Canada, government and industry officials have said.

The precise timing is unclear but is expected within the next 24 hours, the sources told Reuters news agency.

ExxonMobil announces phased withdrawal from key Russian oil field

US oil giant ExxonMobil has announced that it will begin a phased withdrawal from the major oil field it operates in Russia on behalf of a consortium including Russian, Indian and Japanese companies, citing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“In response to recent events, we are beginning the process to discontinue operations and developing steps to exit the Sakhalin-1 venture,” the group said in a statement, adding that it deplores Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and stressing that it will no longer invest in new projects in Russia.

Four dead in Russian strike on Zhytomyr, says official

An adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister has said four people, including a child, were killed when homes in the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr were hit on by a Russian cruise missile.

Anton Gerashchenko said on his Telegram channel that the missile was apparently aimed at a nearby base of the 95th Airborne Brigade in Zhytomyr, 120km (75 miles) west of Kyiv.

Residential buildings near the base were on fire and “so far, four people have died. Including a child,” he said.

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 ‘Seven killed’ in Kharkiv amid fierce attack, governor says

Russian forces are continuing to bombard Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv, Kharkiv’s governor said on the messaging app, Telegram.

There has been heavy artillery fire in residential neighbourhoods, with civilian buildings hit, as well as the city’s main square, Oleh Synyehubov said

Synegubov said seven people were killed in an attack on a government building and 24 people, including a child were wounded.

US lawmakers urge Biden to shield Ukrainians from deportation

More than 40 members of the US House of Representatives have signed a letter to Biden urging him to designate Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which would shield Ukrainian nationals in the United States from deportation.

“The United States has a moral and humanitarian responsibility to support Ukrainians during this ongoing conflict,” the legislators wrote.

Italy’s Eni to pull out of Russia-Turkey pipeline

Italian oil giant Eni has said that it would withdraw from the Blue Stream gas pipeline linking Russia to Turkey in which it has a 50 percent stake.

“Eni intends to sell its stake” in the Blue Stream pipeline which links Russia and Turkey via the Black Sea, said a company spokesman, following rivals BP and Shell which have divested from Russia-linked projects.

Biden to condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine as ‘Putin’s war’

Biden will condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in strong terms during a State of the Union address later on Tuesday evening, comparing it to World War II, the White House has said.

“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson – when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising,” Biden will say in his speech.

“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,” Biden will say. “Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

Putin misjudged Western response to Ukraine invasion: Biden

Biden has said Russian President Vladimir Putin had underestimated the powerful response his invasion of Ukraine would illicit from Western nations as sanctions upended Russia’s economy.

“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked,” Biden said in prepared remarks released ahead of his annual State of the Union address.

“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.”

United Airlines suspends flying over Russian airspace

United Airlines has confirmed it has temporarily suspended flying over Russian airspace, joining other major US carriers.

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United had been continuing to fly over Russian airspace to operate some flights to and from India in recent days. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Parcel Service all confirmed this week they had halted flights over Russia as the White House considers following Canada and the European Union in banning overflights of US airspace by Russian carriers.

US’s Yellen says G7 ready to impose further financial pressure on Russia

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, has said the Group of Seven (G7) nations would convene a task force to focus on freezing and seizing assets of Russian elites.

“We stand ready to impose further financial pressure, as necessary,” Yellen said in a statement after a G7 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors on the situation in Ukraine.

World Bank preparing $3bn emergency aid package for Ukraine

The World Bank has announced 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), which deplored Russia’s invasion.

The IMF will consider the country’s latest request for emergency financing “as early as next week.”

Russia sees ‘no desire’ from Ukraine to find legitimate solution

Russia sees “no desire on the part of Ukraine” to try to find a legitimate and balanced solution to the problems between the two countries, Gennady Gatilov, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, has told Lebanese television in an interview.

Gatilov said Russia “supports diplomacy based on respect for the positions of all countries and equality, but for now we don’t see that”, the Russian news agency RIA quoted him as saying in the interview.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held a first round of talks on Monday but made no substantial progress, merely agreeing to meet again. No date was set for a second round.

Russian President Putin

World Bank, IMF racing to get aid to Ukraine, warn of ‘treacherous period’

The heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have said they were racing to provide billions of dollars of

EU banning Russian media outlets, banks from SWIFT: EU presidency

The European Union 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 regime on Moscow in response for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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 ‘Stop the aggressor’, Zelenskyy pleads

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy has said in a phone call with Biden that it is important to stop “aggressor” Russia “as soon as possible”.

The call comes ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address.

100,000 Ukrainians join self-defence units: Official

Svitlana Zalishchuk, a foreign policy adviser to Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, told Al Jazeera that Ukrainians are fearful yet determined as fighting has increased across the country.

President Zelenskyy of Ukraine

“We are scared that Putin is not going to stop,” Zalishchuk told Al Jazeera from Beregovo, a city in western Ukraine. She said approximately 100,000 people joined have so-called territorial defence units in recent days in response to Russia’s advance.

“For example, my brother, he is a businessman, he has nothing to do with [the] army but he took a gun and went to protect one of the towns at the entrance of Kyiv,” Zalishchuk said.

Miles-long Russian convoy appears stalled near Kyiv: US official

An enormous Russian military convoy is lumbering towards the capital, Kyiv, raising fears of an imminent uptick in fighting there.

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.

“We also believe that a part of the stall could be – and I emphasise the word ‘could’ – could be a result of their own self-determined sort of pause in operations – that they are possibly regrouping, rethinking, reevaluating,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Apple says it ‘paused’ all product sales in Russia

Tech giant Apple has announced a halt to all product sales in Russia. “We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country,” the company said in a statement.

The iPhone maker also announced Apple Pay and other services have been limited, while Russian state-owned media RT and Sputnik are no longer available for download outside Russia.

“We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence,” the statement said.

Ukrainian refugees stream into Hungary

More than 85,000 people have crossed from Ukraine into Hungary since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Along the 135km (84-mile) frontier, refugees are met with hot chai, locally made sandwiches, and logistical help – embassies can be rung, tickets booked for free, and even children entertained.




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