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Live updates: How Russia’s assault on Ukraine affects Middle East

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is having an impact well beyond Europe. Follow along for the latest updates affecting the Mideast region.
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Here’s what we’ve seen so far: 

  • Turkey has been testing its ties with Moscow by sending armed drones to Kyiv and invoking a 1936 treaty to limit Russian warships’ access to the Black Sea. But Ankara is also competing for the role of mediator, having hosted the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Antalya last week.
  • The US has barred imports of Russian oil and natural gas after failing to convince Saudi Arabia to increase oil production to offset global price increases that benefit Moscow.
  • Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have tread cautiously to avoid harming their ties with Moscow, while Israel has led with humanitarian aid and offered to mediate the conflict directly.

More from Al-Monitor: Follow our coverage here and check out this week's Middle East Minute video for a roundup of regional reactions to the conflict. 

 



Live updates:

 

10:15 a.m., Mar. 18: Little sign of Russia recruiting Syrians for Ukraine, US general says

  • The US military has seen little evidence of recruitment of Syrians by Russia to fight in Ukraine so far, the top commander of US forces in the Middle East said Friday.
  • "That doesn't mean it couldn't happen," CENTCOM commander Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie told reporters in a virtual briefing at the Pentagon.
  • McKenzie also said Moscow's forces in Syria have shown no sign of intent to escalate tensions with US troops there since Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Read Al-Monitor's report here.

3:09 a.m., Mar. 18: Saudi Arabia extends visa for Ukranians

  • The Saudi state news agency, SPA, announced on Friday a new royal directive issued by Saudi Arabia regarding visa arrangements for Ukranians.
  • According to the Reuters report, tourist and business visas for Ukrainians will be automatically extended without any fees or fines, without the need to visit the migration authorities.
  • The move is done for humanitarian consideration amid the Russian war on Ukraine.

 

2:49 p.m., Mar. 17: Saudi Arabia refuses to budge on current oil production levels

  • Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a phone call that Riyadh would adhere to its agreement with OPEC+ agreement on oil production levels.

Mar. 17: More than 60 Turkish citizens evacuate Mariupol

  • Some 65 Turkish nationals and their relatives evacuated Mariupol today, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency reported.
  • More than 80 Turkish citizens and their relatives had found shelter inside the Sultan Suleiman mosque in the southern Ukrainian city this week amid heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
  • The head of the mosque association, Ismail Hacioglu, told Al Jazeera today that at least 50 Turkish citizens had escaped the city and some 30 Turkish nationals remained in the mosque.
  • Their escape came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s visit to Russia and Ukraine over the past two days.

10:58 a.m., Mar 17: Erdogan, Putin discuss Ukraine 

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the latest situation in Ukraine in a phone call on Thursday.
  • Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s offer to host a summit between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, emphasizing to Putin that reaching a settlement on some issues might require top-level talks.
  • Earlier today, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed Kyiv’s desire for a meeting between Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin.

9:30 a.m., Mar. 17: Turkey's FM meets Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv

  • Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Lviv on Thursday.
  • Cavusoglu's visit follows a stop in Moscow yesterday during which he pressed for a meeting between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents.
  • "From now on, we have decided to focus our efforts on the meeting of our and the Russian presidents," Kuleba said during a press conference alongside Cavusoglu today. "We believe such a meeting bears great importance in the settlement of key issues that are being negotiated right now."
  • Kuleba also distanced his side from positions described in a Financial Times story yesterday, which outlined a possible 15-point compromise to end the war in which Ukraine would eschew NATO membership and foreign troop presence in exchange for security guarantees. 
  • "These points reflect the Russian side’s demand," he told a reporter in Lviv. "Therefore, these points shouldn’t be interpreted as points that Ukraine has agreed on."
  • Referring to his stops in Russia and Ukraine, Cavusoglu said today that "As a result of these two meetings … our hope for a ceasefire has increased a bit more."
  • Turkey is pushing for a ceasefire in Mariupol where hundreds of Turkish citizens remain stranded amid Russian encirclement and continued bombardment.

6:12 a.m., Mar. 17: UAE foreign minister: Emirates keen to cooperate with Russia on energy security

  • The United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Thursday while in Moscow, that the UAE is keen to cooperate with Russia to improve global energy security.
  • According to the foreign minister, the Emirati delegation will further discuss, Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, reported Reuters.
  • The Russian war on Ukraine has disrupted global energy, with Western countries asking more supply from Gulf states such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

 

3:03 p.m., Mar. 16: Turkey's FM phones US counterpart after Moscow trip

  • Turkey's top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with his American counterpart Antony Blinken on Wednesday following Cavusoglu's visit to Moscow today.
  • The State Department said Blinken updated Cavusoglu on US efforts to support Ukraine and "thanked Turkey for its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as Turkey’s efforts to assist Ukraine in its time of need."

1:49 p.m., Mar. 16: Erdogan assures Zelensky speak by phone

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Ukraine's President Zelenskyy in a phone call on Wednesday that he will continue efforts to secure a meeting between Zelenskyy and Russia's Vladimir Putin, a Turkish statement read.
  • Erdogan also stressed “the importance of the effective enforcement of humanitarian corridors,” as Ankara scrambles to evacuate its citizens trapped in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. He also renewed Turkey's call for an immediate ceasefire and pledged additional humanitarian aid.
  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Moscow today and is expected to travel to Kyiv tomorrow.
  • Russia's Foregin Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking alongside Cavusoglu in Moscow today, did not rule out a potential meeting between Putin and Zelenskyy.

11:20 a.m., Mar. 16: UK's Boris Johnson meets Saudi Crown Prince in Riyadh in push for oil output

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh today to discuss the war in Ukraine and other regional issues.
  • Johnson was expected to urge bin Salman to increase oil production to offset global rise in costs due to the war.
  • His visit came after a stop in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, whose ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, has said his government supports stable oil prices.

8:40 a.m., Mar. 16: Turkish FM: 'We have a serious problem in Mariupol'

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol where civilians, including more than 80 Turkish nationals, have been trapped.
  • "The war must be stopped," Cavusoglu said, speaking in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow today. “Our priority is the safe evacuation of our citizens and other civilians from Mariupol," he added.
  • “We have a serious problem in Mariupol,” he said. The top Turkish diplomat added that the Ukrainian and Russian sides were providing conflicting accounts about the situation on the ground.
  • Lavrov, in turn, said that the two sides haven't been able to agree on which direction a potential humanitarian corridor would lead, arguing the Ukrainian side wasn’t allowing civilians to leave the city through territories under Russia's control.

6:45 a.m., Mar. 16: Lavrov, Cavusoglu talks underway in Moscow

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow to discuss the war in Ukraine.
  • Ahead of the meeting, Cavusoglu said he would relay Turkey’s “views to resolve the Ukrainian crisis through peaceful means” to his Russian counterpart.
  • Cavusoglu also thanked Lavrov for withdrawing a Russian request to pass four warships through the Turkish straits, following Ankara's closure of Dardanelles and Bosporus straits linking the Mediterranean and Black Sea to warships. 
  • Cavusoglu added that Ankara would continue to implement the wartime provisions of the 1936 Montreux Convention, a key treaty that asserts Turkey’s control of the straits, gives Ankara a strong hand in balancing Russia and the West.

3:15 a.m., Mar. 16: UAE committed to OPEC+ deal

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates today, alongside to a visit to Saudi Arabia, to push for additional oil production to reduce global energy costs.
  • In the meantime, the United Arab Emirates remains committed to the OPEC+ agreement not to raise oil production at the moment, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous source.
  • Oil prices saw an increase of $3 on Wednesday as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues.

 


 

1:27 p.m., Mar. 15: Turkey's FM to depart for Moscow, Ukraine in pursuit of ceasefire

  • Turkey's top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu departs for Moscow this evening and will head to Ukraine on Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a press conference today.
  • "We are a country that is able to talk with all parties, even in times of heightened tensions," Erdogan said.
  • The Turkish president said a meeting between the top diplomats of Russia and Ukraine in Antalya last week "has opened the door to diplomacy," despite having made no progress towards a ceasefire.

12:36 p.m., Mar. 15: Five Western countries commemorate Syria war, condemn Russia's conduct 

  • The US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy issued a joint statement Tuesday commemorating the 11th anniversary of the start of Syria's civil war and condemning Russia's conduct there and in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

11:18 a.m., Abu Dhabi Crown Prince speaks to Japan's PM about stabilizing oil prices

  • Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke with Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida about Ukraine and stabilizing global oil markets, per Reuters.
  • Kishida said today he had agreed with bin Zayed to work together to stabilize the international crude market. UAE state-run news agency WAM said Abu Dhabi is keen to keep prices stable.

Mar. 15: Bahrain, Russia discuss the need for diplomatic solutions

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa held a phone call today.
  • They discussed the "importance of solving conflicts by diplomatic means," tweeted an adviser to the king, as reported by Reuters.

Mar 15: Russia’s Lavrov denies accusations that Russia is blocking Iran deal

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied western capitals’ accusations that Russia was trying to block the Iran nuclear deal even as Moscow continues to insist on the Russian demand for a trade guarantee with Iran. 
  • Lavrov said Washington’s suggestions that Moscow was blocking efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal were untrue, speaking after talks with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian in Moscow on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
  • Speaking also on Tuesday, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the sanctions against Russia “directly affect the interests of our country in the context of that deal. So the sanctions must be taken into account. This is a new aspect that cannot be ignored.”
  • The United States and the European powers involved in the talks have been accusing Moscow of trying to “exploit” the process “to obtain assurances that are separate to” the nuclear deal amid crippling sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

7:30 a.m., Mar. 15: Jordan: Israeli-Palestinian peace plans should not be affected by Ukraine

  • Jordan's King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein met on Tuesday in Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
  • In a joint press conference, Abdullah said that the ongoing war in Ukraine should not affect efforts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • He further added "Whatever is going on in Ukraine I don't think affects the vision of leadership in our part of the world to try to move it forwards," Reuters reported.

6:23 a.m., Mar. 15: Zelenskyy to address Israel's Knesset on Sunday

  • Israel has accepted a request to have Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy address parliament in a special session on Sunday, multiple outlets reported.
  • Russia's Ambassador to Israeli, Anatoly Viktorov, requested a meeting with Knesset speaker Mickey Levy following the news.
  • Read more here.

5:37 a.m., Mar. 15: Top Ukrainian, Israeli diplomats held their first phone call since invasion

  • Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reiterated his pledge that Israel wouldn’t “be a route to bypass” sanctions imposed on Russia in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.
  • Lapid also assured him that the rights of Ukrainians fleeing to Israel would be respected, Kuleba said on Twitter after the call.
  • The exchange marks the first conversation between the two since the Russian invasion of Ukraine started. Kuleba reportedly snubbed Lapid by refusing to return his calls because of the latter’s failure to call his Ukrainian counterpart after the invasion despite having a phone call with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov.

Mar. 15: Famous Russian rap star to hit the stage in Istanbul for Ukraine benefit concert

  • Oxxxymiron, one of the most popular rappers of Russia, will take the stage tonight in Istanbul to raise money for Ukrainian refugees.  
  • Rapper Miron Fyodorov, who goes by the stage name “Oxxxymiron” announced last week that he would hold a series of "Russians against war" gigs in various countries, kicking off his tour in Istanbul. 
  • Oxxxymiron, who has been one of the most outspoken names in denouncing the Russian invasion, called for starting an antiwar movement in Russia on Feb 24 after Moscow unleashed its multi-pronged assault on Ukraine. “I know that most people in Russia are against this war, and I am confident that the more people would talk about their real attitude to it, the faster we can stop this horror,” he told the New York Times.
  • The concert will take place at Istanbul’s hip Kadikoy Sahne at 21:30 p.m. local time.

 

2:26 p.m., Mar. 14: Russian oligarch Abramovich spotted in Tel Aviv bound for Istanbul

  • Sanctioned Russian billionaire and owner of the Chelsea Football Club Roman Abramovich was spotted in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport on Monday before boarding a private plane to Istanbul, Reuters reported.
  • Abramovich's yacht was tracked by MarineTraffic.com as also heading to Istanbul.

1:30 p.m., Mar. 14: Israel's PM speaks with Russian President Putin

  • Israel's Prime Minister Neftali Bennett spoke with Russia's leader Vladimir Putin by phone today for an hour and a half.
  • The two discussed a potential ceasefire in Ukraine and humanitarian efforts, Bennett's office said in a statement.
  • The Kremlin said in a statement after the call that Putin "pointed out" a missile in central Donetsk that killed at least 20 civilians and wounded 28 others. Russia said the bombing was done by Ukraine's government, a charge Kyiv denied. 
  • Bennett spoke to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the call with Putin.
  • Israel has offered to mediate the conflict, a proposal Zelenskyy has expressed openness to.

1:03 p.m., Mar. 14: Israel's cabinet approves plan to establish field hospital in western Ukraine

  • Israel's Knesset on Monday approved a 21-million-Shekel ($6.4 million) plan to establish a field hospital in western Ukraine. 
  • The hospital will include wards for children and adults as well as an emergency room, a delivery room and a primary care clinic. It will be run entirely by civilians, according to Israeli news reports.

12:29 p.m., Mar. 14: Ukraine's FM appeals to Iran to urge Russians towards ceasefire

  • Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke with his Iranian counterpart today ahead of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian trip to Moscow.
  • Kuleba urged Amirabdollahian to convey a message to Russian officials: "Russia must stop bombing civilians, commit to the ceasefire and withdraw from Ukraine," Kuleba tweeted today.

12:17 p.m., Mar. 14: US talking to allies about resupplying Ukraine with Turkey's TB2 drone

  • The US has held discussions with allies about resupplying Ukraine with a number of weapons systems, including the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone, a senior US defense official told Al-Monitor today. 
  • "They're very effective at using that drone," the official said in response to a question posed by Al-Monitor today. "We assess that they still have a significant majority of their inventory left, but they are using them quite skillfully," the official said.

11:50 a.m., Mar. 14: Erdogan says 'too early to tell' if Turkey will buy additional S-400s from Russia

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dodged a question today over whether Ankara still plans to purchase additional Russian S-400 air defense systems since the onset of the Russia's war on Ukraine.
  • Erdogan said Turkey would see "what the future holds" for his government and that "it's too early to tell. One needs to see what the conditions will be like," Erdogan said. 
  • Erdogan said last year his government would consider purchasing additional S-400s even after the US imposed limited sanctions on its NATO ally's top defense industry production body for Ankara's 2017 purchase of the Russian air defense batteries.
  • Speaking at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz today, Erdogan also reiterated Ankara would not join the West's sanctions against Moscow, but added that Turkey “has done what [other] NATO countries didn’t” and provided military aid to Ukraine “despite Russia.”
  • Erdogan asked President Biden in a phone call last week to remove penalties on Turkey's defense industry.

10:14 a.m., Mar. 14: Turkey urges its citizens to immediately leave Odessa, Mykolaiv

  • Turkey has urged its citizens to immediately leave the southern Ukrainian cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv as the Russian forces are ramping up their attacks in southern Ukraine. 
  • The travel warning came after the mayor of Odessa said Friday that Russian forces could soon surround the Black Sea port city. 
  • The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on its nationals to contact the Turkish consulate in Odessa for evacuation arrangements.

8:30 a.m., Mar 14: Poland agrees to accept Palestinian students from Ukraine

  • Polish authorities have agreed to accept Palestinian students who were studying in Ukraine. 
  • The students will be able to continue to study at Polish universities. They will need to provide documentation showing that they studied at a Ukrainian university and possibly take a placement test. The students will also need to pay for their tuition. 
  • The Palestinian students should approach Polish universities that offer majors in their field of study, the Palestinian Authority's WAFA news agency reported
  • Ukraine hosted thousands of students from across the Middle East before the Russian invasion, including from Iraq and Egypt

6:27 a.m., Mar 14: Israel to comply with sanctions on Russia

  • Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said today "Israel will not be a route to bypass sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and other western countries."
  • The minister added that Israel's finance, airports and diplomatic authorities are coordinating on the issue, Israeli media outlets reported. 
  • Lapid made the remarks from Romania, where he also condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Some sanctioned Russian oligarchs have ties to Israel, chiefly billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Mar. 14: Qatari, Russian foreign ministers meet in Moscow

  • Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met on Monday his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during a visit to Moscow.
  • The two discussed the ongoing Iran nuclear talks in Vienna and the situation in Ukraine.
  • "Qatar intends to make every possible effort to find diplomatic solutions and find a peaceful soluton to the events taking place in Ukraine as soon as possible," the Qatari FM said, as reported by Anadolu.

Mar. 14: Top Iranian diplomat heads to Moscow as Ukraine stalls nuclear talks

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow tomorrow as the Russian invasion of Ukraine stalls the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna.
  • The move comes after France, Germany and the United Kingdom warned Moscow on Saturday against exploiting the talks “to obtain assurances that are separate to” the nuclear deal, in reference to the Russian demand for a guarantee that its trade with Iran would not be affected by the western sanctions imposed on Russia.
  • Amirabdollahian’s meeting with Sergey Lavrov would mainly focus on the nuclear talks, Saeed Khatbizadeh, a spokesperson for the Iranian foreign ministry, said Monday. 

3:40 a.m., Mar. 14: Top Israeli, Ukrainian diplomats set to talk amid reported strain

  • Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba are expected to hold a phone conversation “today or tomorrow” amid lingering strain in ties between the top diplomats, Israeli media reported, citing the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
  • Kuleba has reportedly been refusing to return Lapid's call for the past five days, according to the Walla news website.
  • The reason for the snub was reportedly Lapid’s failure to call his Ukrainian counterpart after the Russian invasion despite having a phone call with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, Walla reported, citing a senior Ukrainian Foreign Ministry official.

 

5:00 p.m., Mar. 13: Ukraine refugees reach 2.7 million, UN says

  • The UN said Sunday that nearly 2.698 million refugees have fled Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • That number includes 100,700 more than yesterday's figure. 
  • Ukraine's war marks the largest population flight in Europe since WWII.  

12:24 p.m., Mar. 13: Turkey, Greece to improve ties amid Russia-Ukraine war

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held talks on Sunday, according to a statement by the Turkish presidency.
  • They agreed to improve ties, despite the long-running disagreements over various issues, including conflicting Mediterranean maritime claims to air space.
  • Although they had resumed talks last year, little progress has been made.
  • According to the statement reported by Reuters, "Pointing out that Turkey and Greece have a special responsibility in the changing European security architecture with Russia's attack on Ukraine, the meeting focused on the mutual and regional benefits of increasing cooperation between the two countries.”

11:30 a.m., Mar. 13: FM says Israel has 'moral duty' to admit more refugees from Ukraine

  • Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said his country has a "moral duty" to admit more non-Jewish refugees from Ukraine.
  • "It’s our obligation not only to be good Jews but to be good people," Lapid said, amid outcry over of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked's decision to place a limit Ukrainian refugees in Israel.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Neftali Bennett has repeatedly emphasized Israel's duty to take in Jewish refugees.
  • "In Israel there are nine millions residents and our Jewish identity won’t be harmed by a few more thousand refugees," Lapid said during a visit to Romania on Sunday.

10:00 a.m., Mar. 13: UN chief, Turkey's Erdogan discuss ceasefire efforts in Ukraine

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to discuss Turkey's efforts to mediate a potential ceasefire and establish humanitarian corridors in Russia's war on Ukraine.

9:49 a.m., Mar. 13: Egypt to receive 189,000 tonnes of wheat from Black Sea shipments

  • Egypt is set to receive some 189,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia, Ukraine and Romania, Egypt's supply ministry announced today. 
  • The shipments were previously scheduled prior to a halt in key Ukrainian and Russian agricultural exports due to the war.
  • Egyptian officials have said imports and reserves will remain sufficient to maintain bread subsidies through the end of the year, Reuters reported.

9:14 a.m., Mar. 13: Most Gulf stock markets dip amid war in Ukraine

  • Markets closed lower on Sunday in most Gulf countries as Russia's war in Ukraine sowed further uncertainty.
  • Saudi Aramco fell 2.8% and Saudi Arabia's benchmark share index (.TASI) fell 0.6%, marking the third period of straight losses.
  • Aramco overall has risen 10% this year as Russia's invasion and steady OPEC production drives up crude prices.
  • Qatar's index (.QSI) dropped 1.1% with Qatar National Bank (QNBK.QA) down 2%.
  • Bahrain's (.BAX) index fell 1%, Egypt's (EGX30) fell 0.3%, and Kuwait's (.BKP) dipped 0.2%. Oman's index (.MSX30) rose, however, up 0.5%.
  • Read more here.

Mar. 13: Turkish FM calls for humanitarian ceasefire, civilian corridors in Mariupol

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ukraine and Russia have not been able to agree on the direction of a potential humanitarian corridor in Mariupol where civilians, including more than 80 Turkish nationals, were stuck. 
  • Cavusoglu said he sought help from his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the issue in a phone call yesterday. 
  • “It is very risky to evacuate the citizens as the war morphed into street clashes … Therefore a humanitarian ceasefire and humanitarian corridor need to be established,” Cavusoglu said in a televised press conference. 
  • "We are constantly discussing the issue with both sides, unfortunately the sides have not been able to agree on which direction the corridor will lead,” he added. 
  • “The Russians particularly asked us how many citizens we had here. And we shared that information with them,” the foreign minister said.
  • He added that the buses that Ankara dispatched to the area were not able to enter the besieged city due to heavy fighting in the streets between the Russians and Ukrainians. 
  • The Ukrainian government said Saturday that Russia shelled a Mariupol mosque where civilians, including Turkish nationals, are sheltering. Cavusoglu said there was no damage to the mosque, adding that he hoped progress could be made on the evacuation efforts today.
  • He added that 489 Turkish nationals have been evacuated from Ukraine since yesterday, including from besieged cities of Kharkiv and Kherson.

6:57 a.m., Mar. 13: Qatar foreign minister, talks to Ukranian counterpart, heads to Moscow for talks

  • Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba.
  • Citing a Qatari foreign ministry statement, Reuters reported that Qatar’s FM called on "all parties to exercise restraint, resolve disputes through constructive dialogue and diplomatic methods, and to settle international disputes by peaceful means.”
  • The minister will be heading to Moscow today to discuss with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, the Iranian nuclear deal and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reported Reuters, citing a source familiar with the visit.

 

Mar. 12: Zelenskyy: Israel possible venue for Putin meeting

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Israel could be a venue for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Zelenskyy met with foreign media outlets on Saturday in Kyiv.
  • "I have spoken with Naftali Bennett. I told him as well that I consider it wrong, unconstructive to meet in Ukraine, Russia or Belarus. These are not the places where we can reach understanding. I am speaking not about technical meetings, but about a meeting between the leaders. Do I think that Israel, especially Jerusalem, could become such a venue? Yes, I do," Zelensky said.
  • According to Interfax, he further said that Israel should become one of the guarantors of Ukraine's security.

Mar. 12: Russians are trying to liquidate their assets through cryptocurrencies

  • Crypto firms in The United Arab Emirates are receiving countless requests to liquidate billions of dollars in cryptocurrencies, Reuters reports.
  • This is done as the Russians try to seek safe-havens.
  • Sources quoted claim that there are clients using cryptocurrency to invest in real estate in the UAE. It further specified that other clients are transferring their virtual money into hard currency to stash them elsewhere.
  • Al-Jazeera cites a real estate broker employed in a company that has partnered with a cryptocurrency service: “We’ve been seeing a lot of Russians and even Belarusians coming to Dubai and bringing whatever they can bring, even in crypto.”

8:50 a.m., Mar. 12: Top Turkish, Russian diplomats discuss Ukraine amid reports of Turkish nationals caught in Mariupol bombardment

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed the latest developments in Ukraine with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a phone call on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. 
  • The phone call came after Russia shelled a central mosque in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol. 
  • More than 80 civilians, including Turkish nationals, are taking shelter in the mosque.

Update: Turkey's Chief of Staff Yasar Guler also held a phone call with his Russian counterpart Valery Gerasimov later on Saturday. 

Mar 12: European powers blast Russian demands over nuclear deal

  • France, Germany and the United Kingdom warned Russia that Moscow's demands to have its trade guaranteed with Iran risked the collapse of an almost-completed nuclear deal with Iran.
  • The trio of European countries, which were among the signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, said Saturday that the deal on the table should be concluded with the utmost urgency, Reuters reported. 
  • "Nobody should seek to exploit JCPOA negotiations to obtain assurances that are separate to the JCPOA," the European powers, known as the E3, said in a joint statement, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 
  • Earlier this week, Moscow demanded guarantees that Russian trade with Iran would not be affected by the western sanctions imposed on the country over its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Meanwhile, a joint phone call between German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian leader Vladimir Putin is currently underway, the Elysee Palace said.

Mar. 12:  Egypt imposes export ban on wheat, oil, for three months

  • Ministry of Trade and Industry, Nevine Gamea, announced that Egypt imposed a ban on exporting cooking oil, corn, wheat, lentils, pasta and all kinds of flour.
  • The ban will be in place for three months in order to secure citizens’ basic needs, especially as Ramadan is drawing near.
  • Egypt gets 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.
  • So far, the prices of wheat in Egypt increased 17%.

Mar. 12: Germany discusses with Qatar energy supplies

  • In its quest to decrease dependence on Russian oil and gas, Germany discussed with Qatar energy supplies
  • Joerg Kukies, the federal chancellery's state secretary, tweeted on Saturday “We discussed bilateral cooperation particularly in energy and corporate investments.”
  • The UN has already spoken to Qatar about rerouting gas supplies to Europe amid the Russian war on Ukraine.

Mar. 12: Ukraine says Russia shelled Mariupol mosque sheltering over 80 civilians

  • Russian forces shelled a mosque where more than 80 civilians, including Turkish nationals, were taking shelter in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the Associated Press reported.
  • There was no immediate word of casualties from the shelling of the mosque, the AP added. Yesterday, Ukraine’s embassy in Ankara said that 86 Turkish nationals were sheltering inside the Sultan Suleiman mosque in Mariupol. 
  • Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed the importance of setting up civilian corridors during a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu yesterday amid reports of Turkish nationals caught in the Mariupol bombardment.

 

12:01 p.m., Mar. 11: Turkey's defense chief phones Russia amid reports of Turks caught in Mariupol bombardment

  • Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed the importance of setting up humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations in Ukraine during a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu on Friday.
  • Earlier today Ukraine’s embassy in Ankara said that 86 Turkish nationals were sheltering inside a mosque in the besieged city of Mariupol.
  • Akar also thanked Shoigu for ensuring the security of the Turkish ships stranded in the Black Sea, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. 
  • The Turkish commercial ships, that were denied exit by the Russians earlier this week, are en route to Turkey, according to Turkish media. 

11:27 a.m., Mar. 11: Ukraine using drones with 'terrific effect,' Pentagon official says

  • A senior US defense official said Ukrainian forces were using armed drones with "terrific effect" on the battlefield, both in surveillance and dropping munitions.
  • Earlier this week, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Ukraine's Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 drones have been "incredibly important" in slowing Russia's advances by dropping bombs on Russian columns.
  • TB-2s previously proved effective against Russian units and air defense systems in the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020.

9:13 a.m., Mar. 11: Ukraine embassy says 86 Turkish nationals sheltering in Mariupol mosque

  • Kyiv's embassy in Ankara said 86 Turkish nationals were inside a mosque in the besieged city of Mariupol, which is undergoing heavy shelling by Russian forces.
  • The embassy cited local reports saying the Sultan Suleiman mosque itself was subjected to shelling and that 34 of the Turkish citizens sheltering there are children. Turkey's government has not yet issued a statement.

8:27 a.m., Mar. 11: Canada sanctions Russian-Israeli oligarch Abramovich

  • The Canadian government imposed sanctions on billionaire Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich today along with four other Russian citizens. Ottawa also sanctioned 32 Russian companies, prohibiting them from receiving Canadian defense equipment, Reuters reported
  • Abramovich was also added to the United Kingdom’s sanction list yesterday.
  • Abramovich is a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and is perhaps the best known Russian oligarch caught up in the fallout over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 
  • The billionaire also has Israeli citizenship, and spends part of the year in Israel. Israeli officials are divided on whether they should likewise sanction Abramovich. 

Mar. 11: Fourth repatriation flight reaches Tunisia

  • 73 Tunisian expats returned to Tunisia this week, fleeing war-torn Ukraine.
  • This is the fourth evacuation flight out of Ukraine, operated by Tunisair.
  • So far, about 75% of an estimate of 1,500 Tunisians have returned to Tunisia, reported Al-Jazeera.

7 a.m., Mar. 11: Erdogan: Turkey rejects unlawful actions violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s rejection of aggression against Ukraine’s sovereignty and the “unlawful annexation of Crimea,” by Russia.
  • “As Turkey, we reject the unlawful actions that violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine, first and foremost the illegal annexation of Crimea,” Erdogan said Friday, addressing the Antalya Diplomacy Forum. 
  • “We cannot in any way tolerate acts of aggression against the sovereignty of [Ukraine],” he added.
  • He also slammed the Western capitals for "remaining silent" in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, arguing that the invasion of Ukraine could have been prevented had “the West had spoken out at the time.”

Mar 11: Putin orders Middle East volunteer fighters to deploy in Ukraine

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has greenlit the involvement of up to 16,000 volunteer fighters from the Middle East to be deployed in Ukraine to fight alongside Russian-backed rebels.
  • Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Friday there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East who were ready to come to fight alongside Russian-backed forces in the breakaway Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, Reuters reported.
  • "If you see that there are these people who want of their own accord, not for money, to come to help the people living in Donbass, then we need to give them what they want and help them get to the conflict zone," Putin was quoted as saying by the news agency. 
  • Al-Monitor reported last week on mounting evidence that the private Russian military contractor Wagner Group and the Russian-backed Fifth Corps were recruiting pro-regime fighters in eastern Syria for potential deployment to Ukraine.

4:50 a.m., Mar 11: Israeli FM to tour Ukrainian border crossings in Romania, Slovakia

  • Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will visit Romania and Slovakia and will tour the Ukrainian border crossings in both countries, according to a report by the Times of Israel. 
  • Lapid is also scheduled to meet with his Romanian and Slovakian counterparts, the report said, citing the Israeli Foreign Ministry. 
  • The move comes after Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy announced yesterday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would address the Israeli parliament in the coming days.
  • Zelenskyy’s request to address Israel’s Parliament was previously rebuffed earlier this week by the Israeli authorities, citing renovation works at the parliament building.

Mar 11: UN: More than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine

  • The UN’s International Organisation for Migration, tweeted on Friday that more than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine as of Mar. 11.
  • UN-IOM further said that about 1.85 million people are displaced within Ukrainian borders, Reuters reported.
  • Filippo Grandi, head of UNHCR, had stated that this is the fastest-growing refugee crisis since WWII.

3:30 a.m., Mar 11: Turkey relocates its Ukraine embassy operations from Kyiv as Russian troops edge closer

  • Turkey evacuated most of its embassy staff in Kyiv on Friday as Russian forces headed toward the capital, Turkish media reported. 
  • The embassy's operations would be relocated to an unidentified secure location in Ukraine, initial reports said. 
  • Television footage showed the embassy staff leaving the compound and getting into vehicles.
  • Russian forces could be as close as nine miles from the city center, a senior US defense official said yesterday.

Update: Turkey's Foreign Minister said later on Friday that its diplomatic staff would relocate to Chernivsti in western Ukraine.
 

12:40 a.m., Mar 11: Turkish FM, NATO chief has discussed Ukraine

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed the latest developments in Ukraine in a meeting on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum on Friday. 
  • The NATO chief told Cavusoglu that the alliance “welcomed” Ankara’s efforts to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv and “its deliveries of assistance to Ukraine,” according to an official statement by NATO. 
  • Stoltenberg stressed that Turkey’s commitment to NATO’s collective security is “highly valued” at a time of “dangerous moment,” in an apparent reference to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Stoltenberg is also set to meet with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today.

 

11:24 a.m., Mar. 10: Biden, Erdogan speak by phone about Ukraine

  • US President Joe Biden spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone for nearly an hour on Thursday about Russia's war in Ukraine.
  • Erdogan requested that "all unfair embargoes against Turkey in the defense field be lifted," a Turkish presidency statement read.
  • The two leaders "reaffirmed their strong support for the government and the people of Ukraine, underscored the need for an immediate cessation of Russian aggression and welcomed the coordinated international response to this crisis," according to a White House statement.
  • Biden "expressed appreciation for Turkey's efforts to support a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, as well as Turkey's recent engagements with regional leaders that help promote peace and stability." 

9:56 a.m., Mar. 10: Inflation in Egypt hits 10 percent as food prices rise

  • Inflation hit 10% in Egypt this month amid a rise in food prices, including bread and grain, Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said today.
  • That's up from 4.9% at the same time last year.
  • Egypt relies on Russia and Ukraine for the bulk of its wheat imports and tourism revenue.

9:37 a.m., Mar. 10: UN atomic energy oversight chief arrives in Turkey to discuss security at Ukraine's nuclear sites

  • Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met with the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia in separate meetings in Antalya today.
  • Grossi called his meeting with Lavrov "constructive." "We are making progress on the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine," the IAEA chief tweeted following the discussions.
  • The meetings come after military activity near two of Ukraine's major nuclear sites raised fears of a potential catastrophic accident.
  • Kuleba today reiterated Ukraine's demand that Russia withdraw its forces from the Chernobyl and Zaporozhe nuclear power plants.

5:10 a.m., Mar. 10: Lavrov: Putin not refusing to meet Zelenskyy

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not refuse to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy but added that the meeting should take place only if it would yield to concrete results.
  • Arguing that the Ukrainian side was aiming to launch an alternative dialogue channel through the talks in Turkey, Lavrov added that this wasn’t the reason “why we came here today.” He reiterated Russian demands that Ukraine be disarmed and accept neutral status. 
  • “Mr. Kuleba said that we did not reach an agreement on the ceasefire during the talks today, but we did not have such an aim when we came here anyway,” Lavrov said. “All of these issues are already being effectively discussed in Belarus.”
  • Responding to a question about nuclear weapons “I don't believe that nuclear war will break out, I don't want to believe that,” claiming that foreign capitals manipulated the issue.

5 a.m. Mar. 10: Top Ukrainian diplomat: No progress on 24-hour ceasefire

  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday that no progress had been made in talks to form a 24-hour ceasefire in Ukraine. 
  • Speaking after the three-way meeting in Turkey that lasted more than an hour, he said his country asked for a humanitarian corridor for evacuations of civilians from Mariupol where “the most tragic situation is unfolding.” 
  • Kuleba said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “unfortunately hasn’t adopted a decisive stance,” on the demand, but adding that Lavrov would discuss the issue with the relevant Russian authorities.
  • “This meeting was both easy and difficult,” Kuleba said in a televised press conference. “It was easy because Lavrov reiterated the traditional Russian position. It was difficult because my goal was to at least find a diplomatic solution to the humanitarian tragedy.”

3:10 a.m., Mar. 10: Top Ukrainian, Russian diplomats meet in Turkey

  • Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba met in Turkey in the first high-level talk between the two countries on the 15th day of Russia’s invasion of the former Soviet country.
  • Cavusoglu also held separate meetings with Lavrov and Kuleba ahead of the three-way meeting, Turkey’s private Demiroren News Agency reported. 
  • The high-level talks in Turkey’s Mediterranean province of Antalya come after the third round of talks between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations in Belarus.

 

1:51 p.m., Mar. 9: Lavrov arrives in Turkey ahead of meeting tomorrow with Ukraine FM

  • Russia's top diplomat Sergey Lavrov arrived in the southern Turkish city of Antalya today ahead of a planned meeting with his Ukrainian and Turkish counterparts tomorrow.
  • Lavrov, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Turkey's Mevlut Cavusoglu will meet on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum. Turkish officials are hoping the dialogue will lead to a breakthrough that could lead to a ceasefire.
  • Kuleba signaled little optimism in a video address earlier today, but said his side will try for the best outcome from the meeting.
  • The Ukrainian foreign minister spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier today to thank the US government for renewed aid. Erdogan is scheduled to speak with President Joe Biden tomorrow.

1:47 p.m., Mar. 9: Erdogan to speak with Biden tomorrow: Ankara

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will speak with his American counterpart Joe Biden at 10:30 on Thursday morning, the Turkish presidency announced.

11:29 p.m., Mar. 9: UAE to encourage OPEC to increase output

  • The United Arab Emirates' Ambassador to the US, Yousuf Al Otaiba, said his government supports – and would encourage – increased OPEC oil production to stabilize crude prices amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Otaiba's comments to CNN and Financial Times come one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Saudi and Emirati crown princes had declined phone calls with President Joe Biden in recent weeks.
  • The US and France have approached Riyadh about increasing oil production, but OPEC has held out thus far.

10:55 a.m., Mar. 9: Erdogan calls on Israel to revive energy projects amid sanctions on Russia

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was ready to cooperate with Israel on energy projects during President Isaac Herzog's visit to Ankara on Wednesday.
  • “Recent developments in our region have once again underscored the importance of energy security,” Erdogan said in an apparent reference to Moscow's war in Ukraine and western oil and gas embargoes on Russia. 
  • The Turkish president called for revival of joint energy projects between the two countries that had been shelved due to the rupture in the diplomatic ties between the two countries over the past decade.
  • He also added that Turkey’s Energy Minister will soon pay a visit to Israel. Ankara previously expressed its interest in carrying Israeli gas to Europe via Turkey.

Mar. 9: Germany’s Chancellor Scholz to meet Erdogan, Ukraine on the agenda

  • Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected to pay his first official visit to Turkey on Mar. 14 for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • The talks will focus on efforts to end the war in Ukraine.
  • Bilateral relations and regional issues will also be on the agenda, state-run Anadolu news agency reported. Scholz’s trip to Turkey will be followed by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog's visit today, and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev tomorrow.
  • Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is set to arrive in Istanbul Mar. 13.

Mar. 9: Top Ukrainian diplomat says he has ‘limited expectations’ for talks with Lavrov

  • Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said today that he has "limited expectations" for the upcoming talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Turkey tomorrow. 
  • "I will tell you frankly that my expectations are limited. I do not have high expectations, but we will definitely try to get the maximum out of it," Kuleba said in a video he posted on Facebook.
  • Lavrov, Kuleba and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu are set to have a tripartite meeting in Turkey’s Mediterranean province of Antalya tomorrow.

6:28 a.m., Mar. 9: Egypt, Russia discuss Ukraine

  • Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a phone call on Wednesday, according to the Egyptian presidency.
  • They discussed the latest developments in Ukraine.
  • The call also covered joint development projects that would enhance their strategic cooperation frameworks, Reuters reported.

Mar. 9: Turkey’s defense chief: Russia will ensure security of Turkish ships in Black Sea

  • Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu assured him that Moscow would ensure the security of the Turkish commercial ships stranded in the Black Sea.
  • Speaking at the Turkish parliament today, Akar added that the ships were expected to return to Turkey “as soon as possible.”
  • At least 15 ships carrying crude sunflower oil to Turkey are reportedly stranded in the Sea of Azov, denied exit by the Russians. Sunflower oil was Turkey’s third largest food import last year.
  • In a phone call with Shoigu yesterday, Akar asked Russia’s support for the safe return of the Turkish commercial ships.
  • Akar also held a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov today. According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, the two defense chiefs discussed ceasefire and humanitarian aid efforts.

Mar. 9: Ukrainian presidential advisor: neutral status can be discussed

  • Igor Zhovkva, Deputy Head of the President’s Office, told Germany’s ARD news channel that “the issue may be a subject of discussion, but only after a cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of enemy troops." 
  • He said Ukraine would not accept any ultimatums or compromises on other key issues, ukrinform reported

04.30 a.m., Mar. 9: Erdogan: Turkey in key position in Ukrainian conflict

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey has repatriated 13,000 of its citizens from Ukraine so far, with a further 20,000 foreign nationals fleeing the war-stricken nation reaching Turkey.
  • Stressing Turkey’s efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the 14-day conflict, Erdogan says Turkey “is in the key position of being able to speak to both sides” and that this is “highly appreciated” by its NATO allies.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, will be meeting Mar. 10, for the first time since Russia launched its offensive against Ukraine in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort of Antalya.
  • Turkey has so far sent 23 truckloads of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine and 16 more are heading there, Erdogan added.

2:38 a.m., Mar.9: Russia’s Gazprom continues shipments via Ukraine

  • Gazprom, Russia natural gas company, said on Wednesday that it is continuing gas shipments via Ukraine at the same volume of 109.5 million cubic meters a day, Reuters reported.
  • The Biden administration banned US imports of Russian oil and natural gas on Tuesday in Washington's latest move to stifle Russia's economy over its assault on Ukraine.

2:06 a.m., Mar. 9: Ukraine bans exports of grains, sugar, salt, meat

  • According to a cabinet resolution issued on Wednesday, Ukraine's government has banned exports of rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, sugar, salt, and meat until the end of this year, Reuters reported.
  • In the meantime, an 11,000-tonne shipment of wheat arrived from Ukraine to the Lebanese port of Tripoli on Tuesday, state-run National News Agency reported. It is the second shipment in just over a week from Ukraine, with a prior 7,000 tonne cargo arriving Feb. 28. Both departed Ukraine before the war started.

1:25 a.m., Mar. 9: UAE foreign minister discusses Ukraine with Blinken

  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates held a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
  • They discussed the latest developments in Ukraine stressing the need to reach a political settlement.

 

4:28 p.m., Mar. 8: Top US officials say Russia remains engaged on Iran nuclear talks

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today that Russia continues to engage in talks in Vienna with Iran over its nuclear program despite US sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Blinken's comments during a press conference in Estonia came after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that further US economic penalties on Russia, particularly those affecting its ties with Iran, could hamper its role mediating the Vienna negotiations.
  • "There may be some in Russia who are seeking extra benefits… for getting Iran back into the JCPOA, but they are not going to be successful," the State Department's top policy official, Victoria Nuland, told lawmakers today.

3:15 p.m., Mar. 8: Blinken calls UAE counterpart to reiterate 'close coordination on Ukraine'

  • Top US diplomat Antony Blinken spoke to his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan today, and "reiterated the value of close coordination on Ukraine and the importance of building a strong international response to support Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty," the State Department said in a statement.
  • The UAE declined to vote to condemn Russia's invasion during a UN Security Council Meeting last week, despite urging from Washington.

11:44 a.m., Mar. 8: US bars imports of Russian gas and petroleum

  • The Biden administration banned US imports of Russian oil and natural gas today in Washington's latest move to stifle Russia's economy over its assault on Ukraine.
  • The United Kingdom will follow suit the end of the year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced later on Tuesday.
  • Russian petroleum imports make up about 8% of both US and UK demand.

11:38 a.m., Mar. 8: Ukrainian shipment of wheat arrives in Lebanon

  • An 11,000-tonne shipment of wheat arrived from Ukraine to the Lebanese port of Tripoli today, state-run National News Agency reported. It is the second shipment in just over a week from Ukraine, with a prior 7,000 tonne cargo arriving Feb. 28. Both departed Ukraine before the war started.
  • Lebanon holds only a month's worth of wheat reserves, officials have said. The country exports some 60% of its wheat from Ukraine.
  • Russia's invasion has brought Ukraine's Black Sea wheat export shipments to a halt.

8:56 a.m., Mar. 8: Turkish defense chief asks Russia’s support for Turkish commercial ships stranded in Black Sea 

  • Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu discussed the humanitarian situation in Ukraine in a phone call on Tuesday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. 
  • Akar asked Russia’s support for the safe return of the Turkish commercial ships stranded in the Black Sea, according to the ministry. 
  • Akar also told Shoigu that the ongoing negotiations between Ukraine and Russia would “make a significant contribution” to the peace and humanitarian situation in Ukraine, renewing Ankara’s call for an “immediate ceasefire.”

8:16 a.m., Mar. 8: Biden administration set to ban imports of Russian oil, LNG and coal

  • The Biden administration is set to ban all US imports of oil, liquid natural gas and coal as soon as today, Bloomberg reported. 
  • European countries would not join the sanction, sources told Bloomberg.
  • The United States imported more than 20.4 million barrels of crude oil. and refined products a month on average in 2021 from Russia, about 8% of US liquid fuel imports, Reuters reported.

Mar. 8: Iran reiterates call for political solution in Ukraine

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian reiterated his country’s support for “a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine,” in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Lebanon's Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV reported on Mar. 8.
  • The top Iranian diplomat also expressed Tehran’s readiness to contribute to any diplomatic initiative aiming to end the war.

Mar. 8: UN: Two million refugees have fled Ukraine so far

  • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) two million refugees have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion on Feb.24.
  • The last figures show that more than half went into Poland, while 100,000 went to Russia and 450 to Belarus.
  • Filippo Grandi, head of UNHCR, said that this is the fastest-growing refugee crisis since WWII.


 

12:29 p.m., Mar. 7: Pentagon confirms reports that Russia has recruited Syrians to fight in Ukraine

  • A senior US defense official speaking on the condition of anonymity told reporters today that Russia has attempted to recruit Syrian nationals to potentially fight in Ukraine.
  • US officials have not yet seen evidence of Syrians actually arriving in Ukraine, the official said.
  • Al-Monitor reported on local claims of Russian recruitment of Syrians last week. The Wall Street Journal later cited US officials as confirming the reports.

10:43 a.m., Mar. 7: Ukraine's FM slams Israeli airline for accepting Russian payment system

  • Ukraine's top diplomat lambasted Israel's El Al airlines for apparently continuing to accept online booking payment through Russia's Mir system, an alternative to Visa and MasterCard.
  • "While the world sanctions Russia for its barbaric atrocities in Ukraine, some prefer to make money soaked in Ukrainian blood," Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Mar. 7: Palestinian Authority seeks assistance to evacuate Palestinians from Ukraine

  • The Palestinian Authority is in communication with the Red Cross to help evacuate families and students from Ukraine, a senior official said on Monday.
  • Around 1,100 Palestinians have been evacuated from Ukraine so far, Ahmed al-Deek, an adviser to the PA's foreign minister said today.
  • The PA has yet to take an official stand on the conflict. Read more here

Mar. 7: Egyptian official: four and a half months of wheat reserves available

  • Secretary-General of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Alaa Ezz, confirmed that Egypt has four and a half months in wheat reserves.
  • Storage capacity and stockpiling of goods are among the strategies used to fight the current crisis.
  • “We have three months of alternative reserves in corn, and there are countries such as Europe, Romania, Canada and Australia from which Egypt can import [wheat], and with regard to rice, there are nine and a half months as a strategic stock,” said Ezz in a phone interview reported by Egypt Independent.
  • Egypt gets more than 80% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

6:14 a.m., Mar 7: Ukraine asks Israel for protective gear, thanks Bennett for mediation effort

  • Ukraine's ambassador to Israel today called on Israel to send protective equipment for Ukrainians and thanked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for his efforts to mediate a halt to Russia's invasion following Bennett's trip to Moscow over the weekend.
  • Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk donned a combat helmet during a press conference in Tel Aviv, saying, "Tell me how you can kill with this thing? It’s not possible. What are you afraid of? Personal security for Ukrainians is the simplest thing you can do to save Ukrainians lives," according to The Jerusalem Post.

6:10 a.m., Mar 7: Russian, Ukrainian foreign ministers to meet this week in Turkey 

  • The Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers will meet in Turkey on Thursday, Ankara's top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu announced today.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and Cavusoglu are set to attend a tripartite meeting on the sidelines of Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey on March 10.
  • The Kremlin later confirmed the meeting. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said it was agreed upon during a phone call between President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's President Erdogan over the weekend.
  • If carried out, the meeting would mark the first high-level face-to-face talks between the two countries since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Cavusoglu said that he was hoping it would lead to a “breakthrough” towards peace and stability in Ukraine.

3:20 a.m., Mar. 7: UAE sends emergency aid to Ukraine

  • The United Arab Emirates has sent 30 tons of emergency medical aid and other humanitarian supplies to Ukraine on the twelfth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, UAE's official WAM news agency reported on Monday. 
  • The supplies were handed over to the Ukrainian authorities in Poland to be transported to Ukraine.
  • The move came in response to the international appeal to support displaced Ukrainians and refugees in neighboring countries, WAM said.

 

6:48 p.m., Mar. 6: Oil prices hit highest point since 2008

  • The price of Brent crude oil surged to more than $139 a barrel briefly overnight. This is the highest price since 2008, according to CNBC. 
  • Brent crude oil is widely considered the global benchmark for oil prices. 
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused global oil prices to soar
  • Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major oil producers have thus far declined to increase production so as to bring down prices, despite pleas from the United States.
  • The Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco’s stock reached an all-time high price last week. 

Mar. 6: Second flight of Egyptian nationals from Ukraine to depart Sunday

  • The second flight of Egyptian nationals to return from Ukraine will depart this evening from Romania, Egypt's embassy in Bucharest said today.
  • Hundreds of Egyptians have already made it out of Ukraine. As many as 6,000 were in the country prior to the war, Egypt's government has said.

2:35 p.m., Mar. 6: Ukraine implements licensing requirements for key agricultural exports

  • Ukraine's government will now require licenses for the export of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, Interfax Ukraine reported Sunday.
  • Ukraine suspended exports of a number agricultural commodities earlier today, including rye, oats, millet, buckwheat, sugar, salt, meat and livestock in response to Russia's invasion.
  • Egypt, Syria and other regional countries depend heavily on Ukrainian and Russian grain exports. Global wheat prices have spiked in recent weeks due to the war.

Mar. 6: Egypt to send repatriation flight to Slovakia

  • Egypt will send an aircraft “in the coming days” to Bratislava, Slovakia to repatriate Egyptians in the city, the state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram reported today. 
  • Egyptian authorities reached an agreement with their Slovak counterparts last month to allow Egyptians to enter Slovakia from Ukraine without a visa. 
  • There are 6,000 Egyptians in Ukraine, many of them students. Hundreds have been evacuated so far, according to Al-Ahram. 
  • Non-European refugees from Ukraine have been facing racism as they leave. Many students from Africa and India, for example, have reported not being allowed into Poland. 

Mar. 6: Zelenskyy thanks Elon Musk for Starlink systems 

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk for sending Starlink systems to his country's destroyed cities in a phone call on Sunday.
  • “I’m grateful to him for supporting Ukraine with words and deeds," Zelenskyy tweeted Sunday. "Next week we will receive another batch of Starlink systems for destroyed cities."
  • Last week, Kyiv asked Musk to send Starlink systems to Ukraine to keep the internet services in the destroyed cities intact.

Talked to @elonmusk. I’m grateful to him for supporting Ukraine with words and deeds. Next week we will receive another batch of Starlink systems for destroyed cities. Discussed possible space projects 🚀. But I’ll talk about this after the war.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 5, 2022

4:50 a.m. Mar. 6: Erdogan renews calls for ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Ukraine in call with Putin

  • Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call which lasted almost an hour on the eleventh day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • Erdogan told Putin that an immediate ceasefire would “alleviate humanitarian concerns” and that it could also “pave the way for a political solution,” Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency reported. 
  • Erdogan also stressed the need for rapid action to set up humanitarian corridors, adding that his country was ready to do its part to resolve the crisis. 
  • Putin, in turn, said that Moscow would suspend the fighting only if and when the Russian demands were met by Kyiv, Turkish media reported, citing an official statement by the Kremlin.

4:37 a.m. Mar 6: Jewish orphans from Ukraine en route to Israel

  • More than 100 Jewish Ukrainian orphans boarded an El Al flight to Israel today. The children are flying from Cluj, Romania to Tel Aviv, Israeli journalist Simon Arann said in a tweet today
  • The Israeli Foreign Ministry helped get the group out of Ukraine and into safety in Romania. 
  • The Jewish National Fund, which supports Jewish immigration to Israel, previously said they would host the orphans, according to The Jerusalem Post. It is unclear whether they will stay in Israel temporarily or remain indefinitely. 
  • Ukraine has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. There are also hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in Israel, many of them with origins in Ukraine. 

 

 

4:30 a.m., Mar. 6: Number-two US diplomat praises Turkey over its support to Ukraine

  • US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said that Washington was "grateful to Turkey for its leadership and intense support to its NATO allies," amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Speaking Turkey’s private broadcaster HaberTurk television during her visit to Ankara on Sunday, Sherman added that Turkey was "very transparent in its decision-making process" over the closure of the Turkish straits linking the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
  • Turkey and the United States will remain in "close coordination" in their responses to Ukraine's crisis going forward, Turkey's foreign ministry said yesterday, following Sherman’s meeting with her Turkish counterpart Sedat Onal.

3:17 a.m., Mar. 6: Refugees fleeing Ukraine to reach 1.5 million

  • The number of refugees fleeing Ukraine is expected to reach 1.5 million today, Reuters reports.
  • As Russia’s attack enters its 11th day, the UN World Health Organization said that Ukrainian healthcare facilities were being targeted.
  • A failed ceasefire was agreed upon between Moscow and Kyiv to allow civilians to flee Mariupol and Volnovakha.
  • Further talks between the two sides are set to take place on Monday.
     

 

2:16 p.m., Mar. 5: US says Russia sanctions won’t derail possible Iran deal

  • US sanctions meant to punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine would not impact a renewed Iranian nuclear agreement, the State Department said. 
  • “The new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and should not have any impact on its potential implementation,” a spokesperson told Reuters. “We continue to engage with Russia on a return to full implementation of the JCPOA.” 

Mar. 5: Turkey, US to continue coordination; Erdogan set to speak with Putin tomorrow

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to speak with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, spokesperson for Erdogan's office said today.
  • Meanwhile, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met her Turkish counterpart Sedat Onal in Ankara on Saturday. 
  • Turkey and the United States will remain in "close coordination" in their responses to Ukraine's crisis going forward, Turkey's foreign ministry said.

11:32 a.m., Mar. 5: Israel's PM meets with Putin in Moscow, speaks with Zelenskyy

  • Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett quietly headed to Moscow on Saturday to speak with Russia's President Vladimir Putin about Russia's war in Ukraine, Axios reported.
  • Israel, which condemned Russia's war, has ties with both countries and has offered to mediate the crisis.
  • Bennett later spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before the Israeli premier's meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

11:26 a.m., Mar. 5: Putin says West's sanctions are 'akin to a declaration of war'

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin offered another veiled threat to Western governments on Saturday, saying that the "sanctions that are being imposed [on Russia] are akin to a declaration of war, but thank God it has not come to that."
  • Earlier today Putin said any attempt to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be a step into military conflict that would have catastrophic consequences for Europe and the world, Reuters reported.
  • NATO yesterday publicly ruled out imposing a no-fly zone as Western leaders pointed out the unavoidable risk of military confrontation with Russian planes. 

8 a.m., Mar. 5: Top Turkish, Ukrainian diplomats discuss latest developments

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba discussed the latest developments in Ukraine in a phone call today, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
  • Cavusoglu said Ankara evacuated more than 11,000 Turkish nationals from Ukraine so far and that his country was planning to evacuate 400 more Turkish citizens today pending the implementation of a temporary ceasefire agreed between Moscow and Kiev in Ukrainian cities of Mariupol and Volnovakha.

7:37 a.m., Mar. 5: Russia warns sanctions could imperil Iran nuclear deal

  • Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the west's economic sanctions on Russia pose a "problem" amid what are thought to be the final days of talks in Vienna over curtailing Tehran's nuclear program.
  • Lavrov said his government wants a written guarantee from the United States that Moscow's cooperation and economic ties with Iran – including in military-technical fields – would not be affected by the sanctions.
  • "We want an answer – a very clear answer – we need a guarantee that these sanctions will not in any way touch the regime of trade-economic and investment relations which is laid down in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA]," Reuters quoted Lavrov as saying.

Mar. 5: Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot halts all international flights

  • Russia's national airline Aeroflot said it was suspending all services to international destinations with the exception of Belarus, Deutsche Welle reported. Flights inside the Russian Federation will continue, the carrier added.
  • The move comes after the world's largest ticket-booking service, Sabre, cut its ties with Aeroflot over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Aeroflot flew to 146 destinations worldwide including major Middle Eastern capitals.
  • The US, Canada, and EU nations have shut their airspace to Russian planes, forcing Aeroflot's hand. Airbus and Boeing earlier announced the suspension of parts to the Russian fleet.

Mar. 5: More Lebanese evacuees arriving in Lebanon on Sunday

  • Lebanon's Ambassador to Poland Reine Charbel confirmed that a plane will be arriving in Lebanon on Sunday carrying Lebanese evacuees from Ukraine.
  • “We thank the Polish state, which gave every Lebanese 15 days to stay in Poland, and we ask them to return to Lebanon so that there are no illegal cases,” she said, speaking to Lebanese TV station MTV.
  • Lebanon's Ambassador to Romania Rana Moghaddam also spoke to MTV saying "We hope that we will be able to help all the Lebanese who are facing danger in Ukraine." She also clarified that the Lebanese community there is currently helping students and families stressing the need to avoid having illegal cases of evacuees staying in Romania.

5:00 a.m., Mar 5: Turkey’s top presidential aide says Erdogan, Putin will hold phone call tomorrow

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin will hold a phone call tomorrow, Turkey’s Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Saturday.
  • Kalin said Erdogan would renew Ankara’s offer to host a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul.
  • “We welcome positive signals coming from the Kremlin but we cannot afford to waste more time before taking concrete steps. Give the ceasefire a chance, let's set up a humanitarian corridor,” Kalin said in a televised interview.
  • Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Saturday that two Turkish military cargo planes were waiting at Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport to evacuate Turkish nationals stranded in Ukraine. 
  • The military cargo planes were dispatched to Ukraine hours before the invasion in a bid to evacuate Turkey’s diplomatic staff and Turkish citizens in the country but ended up stranded there, The New York Times reported Mar. 1.
  • Erdogan and Putin held a phone conversation hours before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.

Mar. 5: Cyprus, Russia's longtime ally, denies access to ports

  • Russia faced a further blow as its long-time ally, Cyprus, scotched a deal allowing its ships to dock at its ports over its invasion of Ukraine.
  • At least five Russian ships, including frigates and support vessels, were recently turned away from Limassol port local media reported.
  • The eastern Mediterranean island has faced US and EU pressure to rescind the 2015 agreement that explicitly states that Russian naval ships can access Cypriot ports.

04:45 a.m., Mar. 5: Italy's foreign minister to Qatar in quest for alternate gas supplies

  • Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio is heading to Qatar today to discuss energy cooperation as Russia's energy sector faced an avalanche of sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The head of Italian energy giant, ENI, is accompanying the minister, the Italian foreign ministry said.
  • Last week, the pair were in Algeria on a similar quest Reuters reported.

 


 

 

4:28 p.m., Blinken says Russia still engaged on Iran nuclear talks

  • Top US diplomat Antony Blinken said Russia remains engaged on negotiations in Vienna despite recent signaling from Moscow that US sanctions over Ukraine could hamper the talks.
  • "Russia continues to be engaged in those efforts, and it has its own interests in ensuring that Iran is not able to acquire a nuclear weapon," Blinken said during a press conference in Estonia.
  • "There may be some in Russia who are seeking extra benefits… for getting ran back into the JCPOA, but they are not going to be successful," the State Department's top political official, Victoria Nuland, told lawmakers today.
  • Meanwhile, Blinken spoke

11:29 a.m., Mar. 4: Zelenskyy thanks Turkey for 'consistent support'

  • Ukraine's President Volodomyr Zelenskyy publicly thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Ankara's "consistent support."
  • "Grateful to [Turkey] for the consistent support," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter. "Informed about the ongoing aggression and nuclear terrorism on the part of the Russian Federation. We must achieve an end to hostilities," he wrote.

 

11:09 a.m., Mar. 4: Egyptian man wounded in Ukraine arrives in Poland

  • An Egyptian national who had been reportedly wounded by gunfire in Ukraine arrived in Warsaw today after receiving treatment in Kharkiv. 
  • Several hundred Egyptian citizens have been evacuated from Ukraine so far.
  • There were 6,000 Egyptians in Ukraine prior to the war, many of them university students, according to Ahram Online.
  • Cairo's immigration and expatriate affairs minister was quoted last week as saying there were as many as 3,000 Egyptian students still in the country.

11:00 a.m., Mar. 4: Turkey's President Erdogan speaks with UK PM Boris Johnson about Ukraine

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Ankara's support for a ceasefire in Ukraine during a phone call with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today.

8:04 a.m., Mar. 4: Turkey's airspace to remain open to Russian flights; Lavrov to attend forum in Antalya next week

  • Turkey's top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country's airspace would remain open to Russian flights, even as other countries shut down air traffic from Russia.
  • Cavusoglu also said his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov would attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey next week, Mar. 11-13.
  • Speaking to reporters following the NATO summit in Brussels, the foreign minister said he was not certain whether Ukrainian officials might attend.
  • Cavusoglu said his government was working to evacuate those Turkish citizens stranded in areas of Ukraine seized by Russia via Russian territory.

8:00 a.m., Mar. 4: NATO chief rules out ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday that the NATO countries agreed that NATO planes shouldn’t be operating over Ukrainian airspace, in response to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s appeal for setting up a no fly zone over the country. 
  • Speaking after an emergency NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Stoltenberg also said ​​that the alliance agreed to expand its cooperation with Finland and Sweden by including both of the countries in all NATO meetings and consultations. 
  • Moscow warned against Sweden and Finland’s possible NATO memberships last week. 
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said last Friday that such a move would have “serious military and political consequences.”

Mar. 4: Russia has released Israeli citizen, other sailors on board Ukrainian flagged cargo ship

  • Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced Friday that Russia released the Israeli national and other sailors on board Princess Nicole bulk carrier, one of the two Ukrainian-flagged vessels that were seized by Russian forces in the Black Sea over the weekend.
  • The ministry said the 50-year-old Israeli national and other crew members were released after talks between Russia and Israel.

Mar 4: Body of Israeli man killed in Ukraine leaves Romania for burial in Israel

  • The remains of Roman Brodsky who was killed by Ukrainian troops outside Kyiv on Feb. 28 due to apparent mistaken identity is en route from Romania to Israel. 
  • Brodsky was shot dead after a convoy he was traveling in came under fire, Israeli media reported earlier this week.
  • Brodsky had been living in Ukraine with his family. He is survived by his wife and his two children.

Mar. 4: UN Rights Council approves probe into alleged Russian violations in Ukraine

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on Friday for a resolution condemning alleged rights violations during Russia’s assault on Ukraine, Reuters reported.
  • A commission of inquiry to investigate such allegations will be set up.
  • Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, addressed the council before the vote, saying: “It is our common duty to ensure accountability by mandating the documentation and verification of Russia’s crimes and identification of those responsible.” 

Mar. 4: Top Iranian diplomat says war not solution in Ukraine

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that the “Ukrainian crisis” should be solved through “political” means. 
  • Speaking in a phone call with his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney, Abdollahian said the war is not the solution in Ukraine, Lebanon's Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV reported on Mar. 4. 
  • Abdollahian added that the root of the crisis and NATO’s expansion in the region shouldn’t be ignored as well.
  • The remarks came as some of Russia's allies are recalibrating messaging on Ukraine. The deputy head of Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said yesterday that the crisis should be solved through dialogue and diplomacy.

1:30 a.m., Mar. 4: Fire near nuclear plant extinguished: Ukrainian officials

  • A fire broke out near the largest nuclear power plant in Europe amid fighting between Russia and Ukraine.
  • According to Ukraine’s state emergency service, the fire has been extinguished, Reuters reported.
  • Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary, confirmed that there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
  • The Zaporizhzhia plant generates more than a fifth of total electricity in Ukraine.
  • Russia has already taken the Chernobyl plant, around 100 km north of Kyiv.
  • A video of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was aired in which he said: “Europeans, please wake up. Tell your politicians – Russian troops are shooting at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.”

 


 

2:50 p.m., Mar. 3: Number-two US diplomat heads to Istanbul, North Africa

  • US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman departs Washington tomorrow for a trip with stops in Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, the Biden administration announced.
  • In Ankara, Sherman will meet with Turkish counterpart Sedat Onal and other officials "to discuss Putin's premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified invasion of Ukraine."
  • "The Deputy’s meetings will include discussions on further joint U.S.-Turkey cooperation and our shared interest in supporting Ukraine," the US press release read.

12:40 p.m., Mar. 3: Ukraine says talks with Russia end with agreement on humanitarian evacuations

  • Ukrainian and Russian delegations concluded their second round of talks on Thursday evening with an agreement on the establishment of humanitarian evacuation corridors, a Ukrainian presidential adviser said.
  • Top adviser to Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, said a third round of talks is in the cards in the near future.

9:48 a.m., Mar. 3: Ukraine-Russia ceasefire talks underway

  • A second round of talks between Ukraine and Russia kicked off Thursday afternoon in hope of achieving a ceasefire.
  • An adviser to President Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian delegation is seeking an armistice and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from areas under Russian bombardment.

8:28 a.m., Mar. 3: Turkey to cut wheat purchases amid price increases

  • Turkey's state grain board said it will reduce its purchases of wheat in an international tender from 370,000 tonnes to 285,000.

Mar. 3: Crimean Tatars evacuated from Ukraine arrive in Turkey

  • An additional 209 Crimean Tatars evacuated from Ukraine arrived in Turkey on Thursday morning.
  • Read more here.

Mar. 3: Erdogan's nationalist ally calls for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine

  • Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, and the ruling Justice and Development Party's informal coalition partner, called for an urgent halt to the conflict in Ukraine, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
  • "Russia should immediately and unconditionally abandon the occupation and withdraw its military elements (from Ukraine)," he added.
  • Bahceli also called on NATO to "definitely" reconsider its eastward expansion strategy, reflecting the government's attempt at seeking to strike a balance between Turkey's NATO partners and Russia.
  • Turkey secures nearly half of its natural gas needs from its Black Sea neighbor and relies on Russian cooperation to prevent a fresh influx of refugees in Syria's Idlib.
  • Turkey has also been providing combat drones to Ukraine which are proving effecting in destroying Russian armor on the ground.
  • "(NATO) must abandon its quest to keep its strength and its member states together by generating virtual fears," Bahceli said.

Mar. 3: Giant Putin poster in Baghdad draws Iraqi ire

  • A giant picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin erected in Baghdad by unidentified persons on Wednesday night has sparked outrage.
  • "We support Russia" was inscribed on the corner of the poster in the Karrada district in central Baghdad, Turkey's state-run news agency, Anadolu reported.
  • Security forces removed the billboard which sparked negative reactions on social media.

5:50 a.m., Mar. 3: Global oil prices hit multi-year highs as Russia escalates war in Ukraine

  • Brent crude futures soared to $119.4 per barrel, the highest level in almost a decade, Reuters reported.
  • The gains come in the wake of a barrage of United States and European Union sanctions leveled against Russia's oil refining sector with the US announcing Wednesday that it was halting imports of Russian crude.
  • Russia is the world's third largest producer of oil and the largest exporter to international markets.
  • In a related development, US oil giant EXXON said Wednesday that its halting all new investments in Russia and scrapping operations at oil and gas facilities on Sakhalin island in Russia' far east.

5:13 a.m., Mar. 3: Russia aims to stop Ukraine from joining NATO

  • Speaking on the eighth day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the purpose of its military operations was to ensure among other things that Ukraine does not join the 30-member Western defense pact, Reuters reported.

Mar. 3: UN says number of people fleeing Ukraine tops one million

  • The UN refugee agency, UNHCR said Thursday that at least one million people have fled Ukraine since the start of Russia's assault Feb. 24.
  • The figure amounts to 2% of Ukraine's population and constitutes the swiftest exodus of people so far this century, the UN body said.
  • If the conflict is not stopped millions will follow the UN warned.

Mar. 3: Sudan says it's open to hosting Russian naval base on Red Sea Coast

  • The deputy head of Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said his country had no problem with Russia "or any other country" establishing a naval base on its Red Sea coast provided that it does not threaten national security, Al Sharq al Awsat reported.
  • Dagalo made the comment en route home from Moscow. He stressed that Sudan's position on Russia's escalation against Ukraine needed to be solved through dialogue and diplomacy.
  • Plans for a Russian base in Sudan have been under discussion for some time, but never materialized due to internal political turmoil in the country.
  • In November 2020 Russian President Vladimir Putin ratified a preliminary protocol to establish a "Logistical Support Center" for its forces in Sudan that was subsequently shelved by Sudan. The two countries have strong defense and economic ties. Russia did not condemn the Oct. 21 coup which brought Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to power.

3:04 a.m., Mar. 3: China shoots down reports of Sino-Russian coordination on Ukraine as 'fake news'

  • Beijing said that claims of Russian Chinese coordination ahead of Russia's attack on Ukraine were false.
  • Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the allegations as an exercise in diverting attention and blame-shifting, calling them "despicable," Reuters reported.

1:13 a.m., Mar. 3: Israel to send field hospital to Ukraine

  • Israel is preparing to send a civilian-run field hospital to Ukraine, on top of a total of 100 tons of aid already sent.
  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett today urged world leaders to “act quickly,” warning that the conflict “can get much worse. I’m talking about untold loss of life, total destruction of Ukraine, millions of refugees, and it’s not too late.” 
  • Bennett spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin after speaking with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy yetsterday. The Kremlin said Putin updated Bennett on Russia's stance on ceasefire talks with Ukraine.

 


 

4:13 p.m., Mar. 2: Biden administration praises Arab allies for backing UN resolution against Russia's invasion

  • The US commended Israel, Kuwait and Qatar for co-sponsoring a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia's invasion on Wednesday.
  • "We also commend Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen for voting 'yes,'" the State Department said in a statement.
  • The UAE notably abstained from last week's vote at the UN Security Council, with Axios' sources citing Abu Dhabi's concerns that recent US actions against Yemen's Houthi rebels have not gone far enough.
  • Israel also backed Wednesday's resolution after declining to co-sponsor the previous one last in the Security Council last week.

1:14 p.m., Mar. 2: Russian-Israeli oligarch to sell Chelsea Football Club

  • Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich announced today he plans to sell the Chelsea Football Club following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Abramovich said in a statement that all net proceeds of the sale will go towards helping victims of the war in Ukraine, and that his decision was motivated by his desire to keep the soccer team’s “best interest at heart."
  • The billionaire has come under scrutiny since the invasion for his ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

11:55 a.m., Mar. 2: UN passes resolution condemning Russian invasion; UAE, Egypt, Turkey vote yes

  • The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calling for a military withdrawal. The resolution passed with 141 votes in favor, five against, and 35 abstentions.
  • The United Arab Emirates, which abstained from voting on a similar vote at the UN Security Council last week, voted in favor today. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Qatar, and Turkey also voted for the resolution.
  • Iran, Iraq, Algeria and Sudan abstained, while Syria voted against. 

9:47 a.m., Mar. 2: Zelenskyy speaks with Israeli PM Bennett by phone

  • Ukraine's President announced that he spoke with Israel's Prime Minister Neftali Bennett by phone about "Russian aggression" today, but offered no further clarity on the contents of the call.
  • Yesterday, Israel's top diplomat Yair Lapid condemned Russia's bombing of a TV tower in Kyiv that also hit the adjacent Holocaust memorial at Babyn Yar, the site of a 1941 Nazi massacre of more than 30,000 Jews.
  • Lapid has reportedly instructed Israel's Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky to offer Israel's assistance to repair the site.
  • Earlier today Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, made a public appeal to the world's Jewish population to speak out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

7:07 a.m., Mar. 2: Iran urges citizens to ‘immediately’ leave Ukraine

  • The Iranian Foreign Ministry today called on Iranians in Ukraine to “immediately” leave the country amid the Russian invasion. The ministry said they should leave via the borders of Romania, Moldova, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
  • The ministry also issued a statement that the Iranian embassy in Ukraine remains open. 
  • Iran has been supportive of its ally Russia so far in the conflict, blaming the war on NATO.

Mar. 2: DHL announced the suspension of its service to Russia, Belarus

  • Germany-based DHL announced in a press release on Wednesday the suspension of its delivery service to Russia and Belarus.
  • "Our inbound services to Russia and Belarus have been suspended, which is why we are also not accepting shipments to those countries until further notice," DHL said.
  • The company had already suspended its service to and from Ukraine.
  • U.S.-based United Parcel Service Inc (UPS) and FedEx Corp, also halted their services to Russia and Ukraine on Feb. 27.

Mar. 2: Israel's Bennett says the situation in Ukraine “can get much worse”

  • Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his country would do its best “to end the bloodshed” in Ukraine as the Russian invasion continues into its seventh day.
  • "Unfortunately, it can get much worse," Bennett added, speaking in a joint presser with his German counterpart Olaf Scholz in Israel on Wednesday.
  • Scholz, for his part, said that attacks “on civilian infrastructure and civilians must stop."

6 a.m., Mar. 2: Turkey’s parliament begins to discuss Russian invasion of Ukraine

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected to brief Turkish parliamentarians on the government’s position on the war in Ukraine at a closed session.
  • Cavusoglu will also answer questions from the parliamentarians. Turkey’s opposition parties have criticized the government for not joining sanctions against Russia and failing to warn Turkish citizens in Ukraine in a timely manner to ensure their safe evacuation.

Mar. 2: First group of Lebanese evacuees from Ukraine arrives to Beirut

  • Lebanese citizens evacuated from Ukraine landed at Beirut’s airport on Tuesday morning, including 40 students.
  • Lebanese businessman Dr. Mohammed Mrad hosted the group at one of his hotels in Bucharest, Romania, providing plane tickets for their return to Beirut.
  • In a report by the National News Agency, Mrad said that "a new batch will leave Bucharest for Beirut soon, after completing the necessary procedures.”
  • Another group of Lebanese evacuees will be arriving within the next 48 hours.

Mar. 2: Ukraine will receive more Turkish drones, Stinger and Javelin missiles

  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Wednesday that his country was set to receive a new batch of Javelin and Stinger missiles, as well as Turkish drones, Reuters reported.
  • Turkey has sold at least 20 combat drones to Ukraine in a move that has angered Moscow.
US Embassy Charge d'Affaires Kristina Kvien and Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Rostyslav Zamlynskii speak to the media following the unloading of Javelin anti-tank missiles and other military hardware delivered to Boryspil Airport near Kyiv on January 25, 2022. – Sean Gallup/Getty Images
US Embassy Charge d'Affaires Kristina Kvien and Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Rostyslav Zamlynskii speak to media following the unloading of military hardware to Kyiv January 25, 2022. - Sean Gallup/Getty Images


4:29 a.m., Mar. 2: Top Turkish diplomat says Turkey has evacuated more than 8,000 people from Ukraine

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey evacuated 8,050 people from Ukraine including Azerbaijani nationals. The evacuations will continue, he added.

Mar. 2: Russia to temporarily ban foreigners from selling assets amid increasing sanctions

  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced on Tuesday that Russia will temporarily stop foreign investors from selling Russian assets.
  • The move comes as increasing sanctions are being used as political pressure against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • "In the current sanction situation foreign entrepreneurs are forced to be guided, not by economic factors, but to make decisions under political pressure […] In order to give business a chance to make a considered decision, a presidential order was prepared to impose temporary curbs on exit from Russian assets," Mishustin said at a governmental meeting.

 


 

Mar. 1: G7 ambassadors in Cairo call on Egypt to condemn Russia's invasion

  • Ambassadors from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States called on Egypt on Tuesday to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's government, which has economic ties with both Russia and Ukraine, has remained conspicuously silent on the war.
  • "What we need now is a clear and unanimous condemnation of this attack by all UN member states in the light of its military aggression," the G7 ambassadors' statement read.
  • "We are sure that the government of Egypt upholds the same principles of peace, stability and the integrity of the international-rules based order. Egypt is a country which has quite rightly prided itself on its consistent stance in matters of foreign policy," the statement continued.
  • "The UN General Assembly is meeting in an emergency session this week to discuss this issue. We look forward to our partners, including Egypt, upholding the fundamental principles of the UN Charter."

1:44 p.m., Mar. 1: Israel condemns Russia's war on Ukraine at UN; poised to vote in support of resolution

  • Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN took the podium at tonight's emergency general assembly to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, marking a hardening of Tel Aviv's stance against the conflict.
  • Israel last week declined a US request to co-sponsor a resolution condemning the invasion at the UN Security Council, which Russia vetoed. Tuesday's emergency session served as a workaround to the security council vote.
  • Israeli Deputy Ambassador Noa Furman offered her country's ties with both Russia and Ukraine to help mediate a ceasefire if requested.

1:18 p.m., Mar. 1: Turkey casts doubt on new talks between Ukraine, Russia

  • Turkey's presidential spokesperson and adviser Ibrahim Kalin said a second round of talks set for tomorrow between Ukraine and Russia tomorrow are unlikely given Moscow's "unrealistic demands."
  • Kalin also said that Russian warships in the Black Sea can return to home ports, and that Russian ships specifically from its Black Sea Fleet can enter the strait, but that Turkey "asked all countries not to use this option" to prevent escalation of the conflict. "We told them, 'Don't make us,'" Kalin told CNN Turk.

12:04 p.m., Mar. 1: Turkey's Erdogan calls for NATO to be expanded

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would support enlarging NATO and the European Union when asked about Ukraine's potential membership in the EU today.

11:04 a.m. Mar. 1: Russian convoy's advance on Kyiv 'stalled'

  • Russia's advance on Kyiv, including a massive 40-mile long armored military convoy, has largely stalled, a senior US defense official told reporters.
  • The official attributed the Russians' setback to Ukrainian resistance and to Russian forces' attempts to regroup and bring up supplies.
  • "They will adjust and adapt... and they have a lot of power available to them," the official said. 

9:33 a.m., Mar. 1: UAE reinstates visa requirement for Ukraine citizens

  • The United Arab Emirates suspended a visa waiver that allowed Ukrainian citizens to remain in the Gulf country for 30 days without a visa, Kyiv's embassy in Abu Dhabi announced on Tuesday.
  • "The temporary suspension of action of the Memorandum on mutual understanding does not apply to those Ukrainian citizens who are already in the UAE," the announcement on the embassy's Facebook page read.
  • "Regarding citizens of Ukraine who arrived to the UAE for tourist purposes and were unable to return to Ukraine due to the beginning of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, the Embassy will further inform," it read.

8:20 a.m., Mar. 1: Turkey’s defense chief calls for an immediate ceasefire in call with Russia’s Shoigu

  • Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar called for an immediate ceasefire to enable civilian evacuations and humanitarian assistance efforts in a phone call with Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu on Tuesday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.
  • The call came amid Russian bombardment of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, and a warning from the Kremlin that its forces would begin targeting Ukrainian government facilities in Kyiv.

6:39 a.m., Mar. 1: UAE Crown Prince and Putin discuss oil prices ahead of Wednesday's OPEC summit

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin spoke with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and chief of the United Arab Emirates' armed forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan [MBS] by phone on Tuesday.
  • Putin gave the crown prince "a detailed account of the reasons, goals and targets of the Russian special operation protecting Donbas," according to a Kremlin statement. 
  • MBZ "stated the right of Russia to ensure its own national security," according to the Kremlin.
  • The two also discussed cooperation "in the interests of supporting stability in the global energy market," per the statement. The UAE has not released a statement on the call.
  • A meeting of OPEC-plus, which includes Russia, is set for Wednesday. Western countries have urged the oil-producing bloc to increase output amid the war.

2:00 a.m., Mar. 1: Israel sends third planeload of humanitarian aid for Ukraine; Bennett says caution has enabled help

  • Israel has sent 100 tons of humanitarian aid, including 17 tons of medical supplies, for Ukraine over the past week.
  • Today's shipment headed for Warsaw will be delivered to the Ukrainian border by Israeli personnel.
  • Israel’s cautious messaging over Russia's war on Ukraine has allowed Jerusalem to help in other ways, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
  • “From the first moment, Israel took a measured, responsible stance that allowed us not only to protect our interests, but to be useful,” Bennett said in a speech at Mossad headquarters.
  • Israel is home to thousands of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians and has sought to strike a middle ground as the conflict enters its sixth day.
  • Israel benefits from the Russian military's acquiescence to allow Israel to attack Iranian targets inside Syria.

Mar. 1: Ukraine's Zelenskyy gets standing ovation in European Parliament as he vows to fight for freedom

  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an emotional appeal to the European Parliament today saying his country was fighting for Europe's freedom.
  • Zelenskyy accused Russia of terrorism over its attack on the second-largest city Kharkiv, where Russian forces fired missiles at the city's main Freedom square.
  • "We demand Russia be recognized as a terrorist state," Zelenskyy said. "Nobody can break us, because we are Ukrainians," he added.

Mar. 1: Global shipping giant Maersk suspends trade with Russia

  • Maersk confirmed its decision to suspend deliveries amid a torrent of sanctions being imposed against Russia in a bid to put a stop to the conflict currently underway in Ukraine.
  • In a statement released today, March 1, the shipping line explained the suspension would cover all Russian ports, though does not include foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies, Reuters reported.

Mar. 1: First group of Crimean Tatars arrives in Turkey

  • Some 45 Crimean Tatars arrived in Turkey's Edirne province from Bulgaria Tuesday after a four-day overland journey from Kyiv, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
  • Turkey has deep historical and cultural ties with its ethnic kin from Crimea, providing financial and political support which increased following Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014.
  • Turkey calls the annexation illegal.

Mar. 1: Ukraine's Zelenskyy to address European Parliament

  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is due to address an extraordinary session of the European Parliament Tuesday, the Euro body's President Roberta Metsola said.
  • Zelenskyy is due to speak after the assembly convenes to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • On Monday, Zelenksy formally applied for membership in the European Union, saying its bid should be "accepted immediately."

Mar. 1: Lebanese foreign minister meets Russian ambassador 

  • The Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Abdullah Bou Habib met with the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Rudakov. Bou Habib described the meeting as "good and friendly."
  • A statement by the Lebanese foreign ministry was issued on Thursday condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for an immediate half of military operations and a return to dialogue.
  • Rudakov had previously stated that Moscow's relations with Beirut will not be affected.

Mar. 1: YouTube to block channels linked to Russian state-run media

  • YouTube will be blocking Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik effective immediately due to the crisis in Ukraine, the company's parent, Google announced Tuesday, Reuters reported.
  • The move follows similar actions by Facebook parent, Meta Platforms and Twitter. Twitter has started to label tweets containing content from Russian state-run media.
  • The online streaming giant, Neftlix announced that it would not carry Russian propaganda channels.
  • Disney, Warner Bros & Sony said it would halt movie releases in Russia due to its offensive against Ukraine.

Mar. 1: UK rules out no-fly zone for Ukraine

  • UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the international community had decided against operating a no-fly zone over Ukraine in an interview with BBC's Radio 4.
  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly urged Western nations to declare a no-fly zone over his country as Russia intensifies its attacks.
  • Raab maintained that "putting UK forces in a position where they will be directly required to shoot down Russian planes" would "feed Putin's narrative."

Mar. 1: Ukraine foreign minister asks for more arms in call with Blinken

  • Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba said he spoke to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken early Tuesday, asking the US diplomat for further weapons and sanctions.
  • Kuleba said Blinken had agreed to act on both.

Mar. 1: Iran's Supreme Leader blames United States for Ukraine war

  • Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatolllah Ali Khamenei asserted Tuesday that the United States was "the root cause" for the conflict in Ukraine, IRNA reports.
  • Speaking on the occasion of Eid al-Mab'ath marking the investiture of the Prophet Mohammed by God, Khamenei said Iran was against "war and destruction anywhere in the world and do not agree with killing people and destroying infrastructure." He made no mention of Iran's ally, Russia which started the war.

5:44 a.m., Mar. 1: Russia sending massive force to Ukraine's capital Kyiv

  • A 40-mile long military convoy continued moving towards the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Tuesday amid mounting casualties on both sides.
  • At least 70 Ukrainian soldiers were reported killed in a Russian artillery attack on Okhtrya between Kyiv and Kharkiv further east. Earlier Russia launched multiple missile attacks on Kharkiv hitting the city square and causing civilian deaths.
  • Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack "a war crime."
     


2:27 p.m., Feb. 28: Turkey warns countries not to pass warships through Turkish straits

  • "We warned all countries, both littoral and non-littoral [to the Black Sea], not to pass their warships through the straits," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today.
  • Cavusoglu added that Ankara has the right to deny warships passage into the Black Sea during wartime, but said his government had received no such requests for entry since the start of the war.
  • "The Russians have been asking us whether we were going to enforce the Montreux or not if need be. In response we have been telling them that we would strictly enforce the treaty," he said.
  • "We implemented what Montreux says, and we will do so from now on," he said.
  • Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said today that Russian warships are still located in the Black Sea.

1:52 p.m., Feb. 28: Top US diplomat thanks Turkey for 'continued implementation' of Montreux Convention

  • US top diplomat Antony Blinken thanked his Turkish counterpart for "continued implementation of the Montreux Convention" in a phone call today, according to a State Department press release.
  • "We are determined to use the authority given to our country by the Montreux Convention regarding the ship traffic in the straits in a way that will prevent the crisis from escalating," Turkey's President Erdogan said earlier today, offering no further clarity.

11:56 a.m., Feb. 28: First round of Ukraine-Russia talks ends, no ceasefire

  • The first round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations ended without a clear result on Monday.
  • Both delegations will return to their respective capitals before convening for a second round of talks, Kyiv negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said.

11:23 a.m., Feb. 28: White House says no-fly zone over Ukraine 'not a good idea,' risks escalation

  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed recent suggestions from some lawmakers that the US establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying, "We are not going to have a military war with Russia with US troops."

11:17 a.m., Feb. 28: Israeli man in Ukraine killed, another taken prisoner

  • An Israeli citizen was killed when a vehicle he was traveling in came under fire by Ukrainian forces on Monday, according to multiple reports.
  • Roman Brodsky, 37, and another man in the car were attempting to flee to Moldova from Kyiv when they were mistaken for Chechens at a Ukrainian checkpoint, according to Israel's Channel 11.
  • Separately, a 51-year-old Israeli-Ukranian is believed to have been taken prisoner when Russia's navy towed a Ukrainian cargo ship he was aboard.

8:39 a.m., Feb. 28: Arab League issues statement of concern Russia-Ukraine war

  • The Arab League issued a statement of concern calling for restraint, respect for international law and dialogue in response to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.
  • With the exception of Lebanon, most Arab states have shied away from condemning Russia's actions in the conflict.
  • Many Arab countries are heavily reliant on wheat imported from Russia and Ukraine. Any shortages could potentially cause unrest.

 

Feb. 28: Ecumenical Patriarch visits Ukrainian consulate in Istanbul 

  • Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians, visited the Ukrainian Consulate in Istanbul today, in an apparent show of solidarity with Kyiv, Turkish media reported.
  • The visit came after a phone conversation between the Ecumenical Patriarch and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday. Zelenskyy thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch on Twitter for his support. 
  • In 2019, Bartholomew officially granted independence to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, endorsing Ukraine’s decision to split from the Russian Orthodox Church.

5:50 a.m., Feb. 28: Ukraine-Russia talks kick off near Belarus border

  • Ukrainian and Russian delegations began their first round of talks at the Ukraine-Belarus border as the war enters its fifth day, CNN International reported.
  • Ukraine has demanded an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops” in the run-up to the negotiations.

5:40 a.m., Feb. 28: Qatar says Ukraine's territorial integrity should be preserved

  • Top Qatari diplomat Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called for a diplomatic settlement to the Ukrainian conflict. 
  • In a recorded speech to the meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva today, the Qatari Foreign Minister said Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized boundaries should be preserved, Reuters reported.

Feb. 28: UN says more than 500,000 people fled Ukraine

  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Monday that the number of people who have fled Ukraine has exceeded half a million since Feb. 24 after Russia’s multi-pronged assault on Ukraine.
  • Refugees have been crossing borders into neighboring countries including Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.

Feb. 28: Middle East markets fall amid Russia-Ukraine war

  • Major Gulf bourses fell in reaction to the sanctions imposed on Russia, as the rouble plunged by 30% to a record low.
  • Crude oil prices rose above $100 a barrel.

Feb. 28: Turkey’s defense chief speaks with Ukrainian counterpart

  • Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov that Ankara would continue working for peace in the region
  • Turkey will keep providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Akar added.

6:36 a.m., Feb. 28: Israel to co-sponsor UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion

  • Israel will co-sponsor and vote for a resolution at the UN condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said today.

4:34 a.m., Feb. 28: Yemen's government evacuates 22 citizens from Ukraine

  • Yemen's foreign ministry announced this morning that its embassy in Warsaw facilitated the escape of 18 Yemeni citizens from Ukraine to Poland and four others into Romania.

Feb. 28: The Ukrainian delegation arrives at area where talks with Russia will be held 

  • The Ukrainian Presidency announced Monday that the Ukrainian delegation arrived at the area along the Ukrainian-Belarusian border where talks with Russia will take place, the CNN International reported.
  • According to the presidency’s statement, the delegation is headed by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

3:22 a.m., Feb. 28: Russia sharply hikes interest rates amid rouble crash

  • Russia's Central Bank on Monday hiked key interest rates from 9.5% to 20% in a bid to offset the impact of harsh western sanctions.
  • The move comes after the Russian rouble took an over 40% nosedive on Monday amid unprecedented western sanctions slapped on several Russian nationals and government bodies in retaliation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
     

 

4:05 p.m., Feb. 27: Saudi Arabia expresses commitment to OPEC+ alliance with Russia

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed Saudi Arabia’s "commitment" to the agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia today. Salman expressed the kingdom’s commitment to the so-called OPEC+ alliance in a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, the state-run Saudi Press Agency tweeted. 
  • OPEC and Russia meet periodically to discuss global oil production and supplies in an effort to control prices. Oil prices shot above $100 for the first time since 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

4:04 p.m., Feb. 27: France's Macron discusses energy prices with Saudi crown prince

  • France's President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the effect of Russia's war in Ukraine on global energy prices today, Saudi state news reported.
  • The US previously urged Riyadh to increase oil production to moderate to price increases amid the crisis.

12:29 p.m., Feb. 27: Turkish foreign minister speaks to Russian counterpart on phone

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov by phone today. The two discussed a potential cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported
  • Cavusoglu also had phone calls with his Ukrainian, Estonian and Dutch counterparts about the conflict in Ukraine, according to Anadolu. 

9:38 a.m., Feb. 27: Turkey to implement Montreux convention on straits to Black Sea - Cavusoglu

  • Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his government considers Russia's invasion of Ukraine to be a "war" and thus Ankara will implement "all measures of [the] Montreux Convention in a transparent manner."
  • The statement suggests Turkey is preparing to bar additional Russian naval ships from entering the Black Sea, but the convention would allow for Russian ships already there to navigate outwards toward the Mediterranean.

Feb. 27: Ukrainians in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region protest Russian invasion

  • Dozens of Ukrainians protested in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq today against the Russian attack on their country.
  • The protesters gathered outside the United Nations compound in Erbil, waving Ukrainian flags and holding signs reading “no Putin, no war,” the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw reported

8:36 a.m., Feb. 27: Zelenskyy agrees to send delegation to Belarus border for talks with Russia

  • Ukraine's president agreed in a phone call with Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko that Kyiv would send a delegation to the Belarusian border on the Pripyat River for negotiations "without preconditions" with Russia, Zelenskyy's office said in a statement posted on Telegram.
  • The Belarusian president "has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory remain on the groud during the Ukrainian delegation's travel, talks and return," Zelenskyy's statement read.
  • Earlier today Ukrainian leadership rejected a Russian proposal for talks to be held in Belarus.

8:10 a.m., Feb. 27: Putin orders Russia's nuclear deterrence forces on high alert

  • Putin upped the ante on Sunday morning, ordering Russia's deterrence forces – which include nuclear weapons – to be placed on high alert.
  • "Top officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country, therefore I hereby order the minister of defense and the chief of the general staff to place the Russian Army Deterrence Force on combat alert," Putin said in a televised meeting with top generals.

Feb. 27: Moscow envoy: relations with Lebanon not affected over foreign ministry's statement

  • Russian Ambassador to Beirut, Alexander Rudakov, said during a news conference in Beirut on Sunday, that Moscow's relations with Beirut will not be affected by Lebanon's condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 
  • "In the difficult times, we can see those who stood with us and those who didn't," he added.
  • A statement by the Lebanese foreign ministry was issued on Thursday condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for an immediate half of military operations and a return to dialogue.
  • Meanwhile, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun, called for dialogue to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in an interview with the Asas Media news website.

Feb. 27: Israel's Bennett proposes to mediate over Ukraine in call with Russia's Putin

  • Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposed that Israel serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli media reported, citing a Kremlin readout of the call. The phone call, the first since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, lasted 45 minutes. 
  • Bennett had earlier declined to comment on whether the Jewish state would take up Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy's call to act as a mediator and has yet to formally comment.
  • Russia wants the talks to take place in Belarus, but Zelenskyy has refused saying he is willing to hold talks in Istanbul, Budapest, Warsaw or Baku.

Feb. 27: Erdogan to convene cabinet Monday over Ukraine crisis

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will convene members of his cabinet to assess the latest developments in Ukraine, Turkey's state-run broadcaster TRT reported. 
  • Turkey is among Ukraine's top allies and has sold the country's combat drones now being deployed in the fight to repel Russian forces. 
  • Turkey also has deep if complex ties with its traditional enemy Russia and has offered to mediate between the two sides. Turkey has so far sought to strike a balance, condemning the Russian invasion but abstaining from crushing sanctions being imposed by the United States and Europe.

Feb. 27: Kremlin says Israel offers to mediate on Ukraine

  • Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed that Ukraine had selected the Belarusian city of Gomel as a venue for the talks. The Russian delegation, headed by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, will wait until 15:00 (local time) to agree on the meeting, the TASS news agency reported
  • Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declined to confirm a mediating role following a cabinet meeting Sunday. 
  • Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelenskyy has been pressing for talks with Russia but has ruled out meeting in Belarus which is allied with Russia in its war against Ukraine. Zelenskyy said he would be prepared to meet with the Russians in either Istanbul, Warsaw, Baku or Budapest.

Feb. 27: Egypt's Al-Azhar calls for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine

  • Egypt's Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the preeminent seat of Sunni Muslim scholarship worldwide, appealed to Russia and Ukraine to resolve their differences through dialogue. 
  • "I urge Russia and Ukraine to refer to the voice of reason," Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, said in a statement, Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency reported. "Wars will only bring destruction and hatred to our world," the sheikh added. Turkey's own top religious authority, the state-run Directorate for Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, and its president, have remained mum on the issue so far.

Feb. 27: UN says almost 370,000 people have fled Ukraine

  • The UN's High Commission for Refugees said Sunday more than 368,000 people had fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
  • Most have been crossing into Poland, some 158,000 at the last count. Others have made their way to neighboring Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, Hungary and Romania. They include thousands of foreign nationals, including many students from across the Middle East. 
  • The UN body warned that as many as four million people might be displaced by the conflict.

Feb. 27: Ukraine takes Russia to International Court of Justice

  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced via Twitter that his government was taking the Russian Federation to the Hague-based body. “Ukraine has submitted its application against Russia to the ICJ. Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter.
  • “We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week,” he added.
  • As the war enters its fourth day, reliable figures for the civilian toll remain elusive. Ukraine's Health Care Minister Viktor Liashko said 198 Ukrainian had been killed as of early Saturday. They included three children, he said.

Feb. 27: SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk gives Ukraine a virtual hand

  • Space X founder Elon Musk has activated Starlink, his commercial internet system in Ukraine. 
  • Musk said "more terminals are en route," via Twitter. Musk was responding to a plea by Ukraine's First Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, as Ukrainian forces seek to defend their country against sustained Russian cyberattacks.

Feb. 27: Israel remains skittish on Ukraine's calls to mediate with Russia

  • Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said his government was "proceeding with moderation and responsibility" on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Speaking after a cabinet meeting Sunday, Bennett said Israel was sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine. 
  • Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, told Israel's Channel 12 TV that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's request for Israeli mediation was being weighed but declined further comment.
  • Zelenskyy, a former comedian, became modern Ukraine's first ever Jewish president in a landslide election in April 2019. One of Ukraine's Chief Rabbi's Yaakov Bleich said Sunday that Zelenskyy had called him and "requested that every Jew in Ukraine pray for the safety of each person in Ukraine and the end to the Russian invasion of the country," the Jerusalem Post reported.

Feb. 27: Judo fan Putin gets booted out of International Judo Federation

  • The Budapest-based body announced that it had suspended Russian President Vladimir Putin's status as its Honorary President and Ambassador. 
  • Putin, an avid judo player, received his black belt when he was 18. Condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reverberated across the sports world with top athletes showing their support for Ukraine. 
  • FC Chelsea owner and Putin ally, Roman Abramovich, stepped down as the British premier division club's custodian on Feb. 26 in an apparent move to avoid seizure of the club's assets as the UK threatens further sanctions against Russian individuals.

Feb. 27: Turkish presidential spokesman renews calls for Russia to cease hostilities, calls attacks on Ukraine "a war"

  • Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin’s depiction of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an "unlawful war" may signal a shift in Turkey's position. 
  • Turkey said it was assessing whether Russia's multi-pronged attack on Ukraine could be defined as a war in relation to the Montreux Convention which governs free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits. 
  • Ukraine has asked Ankara to close the Straits to Russian war ships transiting in and out of the Black Sea. 
  • In Feb. 25 comments, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that relevant provisions of the 1936 Convention would be applicable if the current hostilities between Russia and Ukraine were seen as "war." However, Cavusoglu noted that even if this were to be the case, Turkey would continue to allow Russian warships to return to their bases.

Feb. 27: UK Foreign Secretary says it’s OK for British nationals to join Ukraine's fight against Russia

  • Asked if she would support people traveling to Ukraine to help the fight, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss replied “Absolutely, if that’s what they wanted to do.” 
  • Truss' comments to the BBC's Sunday Morning show contrasted with the UK's position on British nationals volunteering to fight alongside Syrian Kurds against the Islamic State. Aidan James, a Briton who fought against the jihadis, was convicted in 2019 for "attending a place used for terrorist training."

Feb. 27: Israel to send more aid to Ukraine

  • Israel plans to send 100 tons of medical aid and other equipment to help Ukrainian civilians under attack, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, the Jerusalem Post reported.
  • “In the next two days, a plane will reach Ukraine from Israel with 100 tons of humanitarian equipment for civilians who are also in the battle zone and those who are trying to leave … who are outside of their homes in cold winter weather,” Bennett said. More than 200,000 ethnic Ukrainians live in Israel. Thousands marched in protest of the Russian invasion on Saturday.
  • Israel is in something of a bind. It relies on Russian approval to target Iranian assets in Syria. Israel refused to co-sponsor a UN resolution condemning Russian aggression last week. At the same time it is the United States' top ally in the region and relies heavily on US military equipment. The large number of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians in Israel, and of Jews in Ukraine, is adding pressure on Bennett.

4 a.m., Feb. 27: UN says number of people crossing neighboring countries from Ukraine tops 200,000

  • Tens of thousands of civilians, including many foreign nationals stranded in Ukraine, have been making their way to neighboring Poland, Hungary, Moldova and Romania.

Feb. 27: UN Security Council to hold emergency session Sunday to vote on Ukraine resolution

  • The UN Security Council will convene Sunday to vote on whether to refer a resolution opposing Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the General Assembly. 
  • On Friday, Russia, one of the five permanent members of the Council used its veto power to block the move. China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained. 
  • The Feb. 27 vote is likely to make it to the General Assembly because under UN rules only nine of the 15 Security Council members need to agree.

Feb. 27: Ukraine says it's using Turkish drones to repel invading Russian forces

  • Ukraine's embassy in Ankara posted a video of what it said was a Turkish manufactured Bayraktar TBT2 combat drone targeting a cluster of Russian military vehicles. 
  • Turkey has sold at least 20 combat drones to Ukraine in a move that has angered the Kremlin.

Feb. 27: Emirati senior official: UAE rejects military solutions in Ukraine

  • Diplomatic adviser to President Sheikh Khalifa, Anwar Gargash, said the UAE rejects "military solutions" in Ukraine calling for a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing crisis. 
  • "The world is facing a difficult test and severe polarization imposed by the Ukrainian crisis, which threatens the foundations of the international community and increases the factors of instability," he tweeted.
  • The UAE abstained in a Friday vote at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution to condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Feb. 27: Ukraine points to Turkey as venue for negotiations to end conflict with Russia

  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected Russia's call for negotiations in Belarus, which is aiding the Kremlin in its war effort, saying he would be ready to meet with Russian leaders in either Istanbul, Warsaw, Baku or Budapest. 
  • Russia has already sent a delegation to the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Russian forces are meanwhile reported to have breached defenses in Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv where pitched battles are raging on the streets.
     


5:34 p.m., Feb. 26: US believes attacks on Kyiv will escalate

  • American officials are concerned that slow progress by Russian forces has caused frustration, and that Moscow's forces are preparing for widespread artillery and air strikes on Kyiv in the coming days, a US official told Al-Monitor.

1:50 p.m., Feb. 26: protests in Israel, Iran in solidarity with Ukraine

  • Thousands of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv today in opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with some calling for the Israeli government to take a stronger stance in support of Ukraine, The Times of Israel reported.
  • Demonstrators also gathered near the Ukrainian embassy in Tehran this evening, with chants against Russia's President Putin audible before Iranian police dispersed the crowd, VOA reported. 

1:05 p.m., Feb. 26: Zelenskyy says offers by Turkey, Azerbaijan to mediate with Russia 'welcome'

  • Ukraine's president said in a statement tonight that the presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan have offered to mediate talks with Russia.
  • "Presidents [Ilham] Aliyev and [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan have proposed organizing talks with Russia. This is only welcome," Zelenskyy said.
  • Aliyev and Erdogan spoke on the phone earlier today.

11:21 a.m., Feb. 26: Russia tells Turkey ready to work with 'constructive forces' to resolve Ukraine crisis

  • Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday that his government was ready to work towards ending the conflict in Ukraine, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

9:00 a.m., Feb. 26: Top Turkish, Greek diplomats bicker over Ukraine

  • Turkey’s top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu has slammed his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias who reportedly accused Ankara of trying to exploit the situation in Ukraine.
  • “While the world is focused on the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, my friend Nikos is focused on his sole hobby: Defamation of [Turkey],” Cavusoglu tweeted. 
  • According to Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah, in an earlier tweet, Dendias accused Ankara of trying to exploit the Russian invasion of Ukraine, questioning Turkey’s respect for international law, in an apparent reference to the ongoing maritime dispute between the two countries.

Feb. 26: Iraq coordinates with Poland to evacuate Iraqi citizens in Ukraine

  • Iraqi and Polish authorities are working together to secure the safe exit of Iraqi nationals stranded in Ukraine, Kurdish television channel Rudaw reported, citing the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.
  • Baghdad also set up several helplines for evacuation, the report said.
  • An estimated number of 5,500 Iraqis, including Kurds, are in Ukraine, a spokesperson for Iraq's Foreign Ministry, told Rudaw.

Feb. 26: Kremlin’s website has gone dark

  • The Kremlin's official website is inaccessible at least from abroad as of Saturday amid reports of cyberattacks on several Russian government websites.

Feb. 26: Lebanon to evacuate its citizens in Ukraine 

  • Lebanon’s Embassy in Warsaw has called on its nationals in Ukraine to get in touch with the embassy through a WhatsApp number for evacuation arrangements. 
  • The embassy also warned its citizens that the waiting time at the Poland-Ukraine border crossing can range between 24-60 hours.

8:27 a.m., Feb. 26: Ankara denies Zelenskyy's suggestion that it agreed to close straits to Russia

  • Turkey's government denied that President Erdogan agreed to close the Turkish straits to Russian warships during a phone call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier today.
  • Zelenskyy implied in a tweet following the call that the Turkish president agreed to close its straits to Russia.
  • A Turkish official told Al-Monitor that Ankara's position on the Montreux Convention remained unchanged. Turkish officials has remained cautiously vague on the subject, however one official said yesterday that the government has considered the issue.

Feb. 26: UN refugee agency to launch portal for displaced Ukrainians

  • The UN refugee agency UNHCR announced it would soon set up a portal to provide estimates on the number of displaced Ukrainians.
  • So far, some 116,000 have fled to neighboring countries since Feb. 24, the agency said, adding that numbers are rising.

8:07 a.m., Feb. 26: Turkey’s President Erdogan speaks with Ukrainian leader Zelenskyy by phone

  • Turkey is making efforts for an immediate ceasefire in a bid to prevent further loss of life and damage to Ukraine, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a phone call on Saturday, Turkish media reported.
  • Erdogan also expressed his condolences for the Ukrainian victims, wishing speedy recovery to the injured.

7:21 a.m., Feb. 26: Turkey's foreign minister renews offer to mediate in call with Russia's Lavrov

  • Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to end military operations in Ukraine in a phone call Saturday. Cavusoglu noted that a further escalation was in nobody's interest and renewed Turkey's offer to mediate between the sides.

Feb. 26: UAE calls for end of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine after fence sitting at UN

  • The UAE's ministry of foreign affairs said it was alarmed "at the consequences for civilians present in Ukraine, as well as for the region, and for the international community" as Russian troops battled for control over the former Soviet nation for a third day.
  • The ministry "emphasized the importance of ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need, and called on all parties to respect International Humanitarian Law, prioritize the protection of civilians, and allow for the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance." The appeal follows the UAE's abstention from a UN Security Council vote to condemn Moscow's assault Friday. The abstention came despite a Feb. 24  phone call from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken soliciting his Emirati counterpart's support. 

Feb. 26: Egyptians flee to Poland as Russia pursues assault on Ukraine

  • Twenty Egyptians arrived at a border camp in Poland, some by car, others on foot, as thousands of students from across the Middle East seek safety from Russia's expanding invasion of Ukraine. 
  • The Egyptian minister of immigration and expatriate affairs met with representatives of the Egyptian community in Ukraine Saturday, the Egyptian Independent reported to discuss safe passage of its citizens.

Fed 26: PKK-linked body calls Russia invasion of Ukraine "unjust"

  • The People's Democratic Congress (HDK), a political body affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) described Russia's invasion as "not just a war fought for people's independence and unity, but an unjust war fought by nations for sovereignty, expansionism and colonialism."
  • The HDK also took aim at the United States saying its policies were "insincere." The Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria have close links to the PKK and rely on the military protection of the United States. The Syrian Kurdish administration is also forced to deal with Russia which serves as a buffer between the Kurdish run zone and Turkish and regime controlled areas in the country. The HDK statement reflects the effort to strike a balance between the two.

Feb. 26: UN Syria Envoy says Russia attack on Ukraine may impact diplomatic push to end war in Syria

  • The UN's top envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, aired worries that Russia's assault on Ukraine would likely derail efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria. "Every month I draw your attention to the fact that Syrians across the country are facing poverty and hunger at levels higher than any point in the conflict," Pedersen told a meeting of the Security Council on Syria.
  • There is growing concern that Russia will use its veto power in the Security Council to block passage of aid through the last remaining humanitarian corridor to Syria where some 14.6 million people depend on emergency supplies. 
  • A resolution authorizing deliveries via the Bab al-Hawa crossing via Turkey was extended for a further six months in January following concerted diplomacy by the United States, an avenue that now may be closing.

6:44 a.m., Feb. 26: Israel urges its citizens fleeing Ukraine to identify themselves with signs

  • Israel's Foreign Ministry instructed Israeli citizens fleeing Ukraine to carry or mark their vehicles with signs bearing the letters "IL" (for Israel) so that Israeli personnel could identify them and facilitate their evacuation.

6:00 a.m., Feb. 26: Israel to pull diplomatic mission from Lviv to Poland

  • Israel's Foreign Ministry announced Saturday it would withdraw its diplomatic staff from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to Poland, where they would continue work.
  • Israeli diplomatic personnel will travel into Ukraine each day to assist Israeli nationals, the ministry said.
  • The move follows other countries' diplomatic withdrawals amid concerns over the safety of their personnel.

Feb. 26: Poland won't play World Cup soccer match with Russia

  • Poland will not play a World Cup qualifier against Russia next month because of Russia's attacks on Ukraine.
  • The president of Poland's Football Association, Cezary Kulesza, said the association was in talks with its Swedish and Czech counterparts for the playoff matches set for March to fill the now empty slot for the World Cup. Poland is among Ukraine's top allies in its standoff with Russia.

Feb. 26: Selcuk Bayraktar, who co-owns Baykar Makina, the leading manufacturer of Turkish combat drones, condemns Russia

  • Selcuk Bayraktar, who runs the Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar Makina, and is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's youngest son-in-law condemned Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 
  • "Russia has shown zero regard for the sovereignty of a people and engaged in an illegal occupation," he said. 
  • Baykar Makina signed a series of agreements with the Ukrainian government to sell and jointly manufacture TBT2 and Akinci combat drones that have tipped the scales in favor of Turkey's allies in Libya and Azerbaijan. 
  • There are unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian forces have been deploying the drones against Russian forces and that Russian forces have shot several down. Ukrainian officials told Al-Monitor it has "around 20" Turkish drones. 


Feb. 26: Third commercial vessel struck in the Black Sea as conflict escalates between Russia and Ukraine

  • A Japanese owned cargo ship was hit by a missile off the coast of Ukraine in the Black Sea, injuring one crew member, local media reported. 
  • The Panamanian flagged Namura Queen headed for Turkey where the damage will be assessed and crew treated. The incident happened near the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
  •  The Turkish-owned bulk carrier, the Yasa Jupiter and Moldovan chemical tanker MV Millennial Spirit were also hit by missiles in the wake of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24.

3:48 a.m., Feb. 26: Israel refrained from co-sponsoring UN Security Council resolution against Russian invasion

  • Israel did not sign on to a UN Security Council resolution to condemn Moscow's attack on Ukraine, despite a request from the United States that Israel do so, The Times of Israel reported this morning.

3:24 a.m., Feb. 26: Iran steps up evacuations of its nationals in Ukraine

  • Iran has stepped up evacuations of its nationals in Ukraine saying Iranian nationals residing in the country can apply for visas at Romanian diplomatic missions in Ukraine.
  • Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has been working the phones with counterparts from Ukraine's neighbors, Slovakia and Hungary to help with the effort as fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces escalates in the capital Kyiv.
     


5:48 p.m., Feb. 25: UAE abstains from UN Security Council vote condemning Russian invasion

  • The United Arab Emirates abstained from a UN Security Council vote to condemn Moscow's assault on Ukraine on Friday.
  • Abu Dhabi's abstention came despite a call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday emphasizing the need for broad international objection to Russia's war effort.

3:24 p.m., Feb. 25: Ukraine asks Israel to mediate ceasefire talks with Russia

  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has asked Israel's Prime Minister Neftali Bennett if his government would mediate talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin towards a ceasefire, Israel's Kann News reported.
  • "Our president believes Israel is the only democratic state that has great relations with both Russia and Ukraine and that could be used in order to facilitate those negotiations," Kiyv's ambassador to Israel later confirmed to CNN. "[We] definitely need to change the venue [from Minsk] and we believe Jerusalem could be a good place for that," Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk said.
  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said earlier today that Russia is ready to send a delegation to Minsk, Belarus, following Zelenskyy's statement that he was willing to discuss the issue of Ukrainian neutrality between Russia and the West. Zelenskyy's office said today the two sides were discussing a possible location to hold talks.
  • Peskov indicated today that Ukraine's "demilitarization and denazification" – terms Moscow has used to apparently mean regime change in Kiyv – remain inseparable parts of any future Ukrainian neutrality.

1 p.m., Feb. 25: Turkey’s top diplomat slams Putin’s call for coup in Ukraine

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s public invitation for the Ukrainian military “to stage a coup” in the country.
  • “We found this call outlandish,” Cavusoglu said. “It’s unacceptable."

12:53 p.m., Feb. 25: Russia summons Israel's ambassador over stance on Ukraine

  • Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov rebuked Israel's Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi over Israeli officials' comments criticizing Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Bogdanov emphasized "the need to continue efforts to counteract attempts to glorify Nazism," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Russia's president said yesterday his invasion of Ukraine aims to purge the country of "Nazis."
  • Russia holds some leverage over Israel. Moscow's military forces in neighboring Syria have long turned a blind eye to Israel's airstrike campaign against Iran-backed militia targets in Syria.

 

10:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Ankara begins evacuation of some 200 Turkish citizens stranded at Turkey’s Embassy in Kyiv 

  • Turkish citizens who sheltered at Turkey's embassy in Kyiv were taken to buses and sent to Romania, Turkey’s pro-government A-Haber television reported.

10:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Lebanon rushes to secure wheat amid Russia Ukraine conflict. 

  • Lebanon's Economy Minister Amin Salam said Friday that the country has no more than one month's worth of wheat reserves.
  • 60% of Lebanon's wheat comes from Ukraine.
  • Talks are taking place with the United States, India, France and other EU countries to secure further reserves.
  • Following a cabinet meeting, the government approved the allocation of funds to buy 50,000 tonnes of wheat.

9:35 a.m., Feb. 25: Turkey’s US envoy offers no clarity closing straits

  • Turkey’s chief diplomat in Washington offered zero clarity on Friday when prompted by former US Ambassador James Jeffrey on whether Turkey may use a 1936 pact to close the Turkish straits.
  • “Don’t expect Turkey not to follow, not to implement, [the] Montreux agreement,” Ambassador Murat Mercan said during an event hosted by a Washington, DC-based think tank on Friday. "Anything more than that, anything less than that, that’s not in Turkey’s hand.”

6:25 a.m., Feb. 25: Syria's Assad calls Russia's invasion of Ukraine a 'correction of history'

  • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad spoke with Russia's Vladimir Putin by phone Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, per Syrian state-run media.
  • Assad called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "a correction of history" and "a restoration of balance of the world that was lost after the dissolution of the Soviet Union," according to Syria's SANA news agency.

6:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Erdogan criticizes NATO for failing to prevent Russia's invasion

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized NATO and the European Union for failing to present a united front amid the Russian assault on Ukraine.

  • “NATO should have taken a more decisive step,” Erdogan told reporters, adding that the reaction to the Russian invasion should have gone beyond a “mundane flurry of condemnations." He added that he would discuss the issue with his counterparts during the NATO summit today.

5:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Turkey’s top diplomat: Ankara cannot bar Russian naval forces passage to the Black Sea under Montreux

  • Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara cannot bar Russian naval forces traveling to Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

  • Speaking in Kazakhstan early Friday, Cavusoglu told reporters that Ankara was studying whether the conflict in Ukraine “could be defined as a war,” in response to the official Ukrainian request to close its straits linking the Mediterranean and Black Sea to Russian naval forces. He added that under a clause in the Montreux Convention, even if Turkey decided to accept the request and close the straits to Russian warships, they would only be prevented from traveling to the Mediterranean from Black Sea. 

  • The clause of the 19th provision of the convention stipulates: “Notwithstanding the prohibition of passage laid down in paragraph 2 above, vessels of war belonging to belligerent powers, whether they are Black Sea powers or not, which have become separated from their bases, may return thereto.”

2:00 a.m., Feb. 25: EU representative praises for Turkey over Ukraine 

  • Speaking in Ankara on Friday, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor said he "welcomed and expressed our strong appreciation for the clear support of the Turkish authorities for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in various meetings."

  • “I would like to stress the importance of strong EU-Turkey cooperation in foreign and security policy," Sanchez said.
     



6:50 p.m., Feb. 24: US rallies Arab Gulf allies over unified messaging on Ukraine

  • Top US diplomat Antony Blinken spoke with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan "about Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack against Ukraine and the importance of building a strong international response to support Ukrainian sovereignty through the UN Security Council," per a US readout of the call.
  • Meanwhile, the State Department's number-two official, Wendy Sherman, phoned her Saudi counterpart, Waleed Khereiji, to discuss the issue, according to the US statement.

3:46 p.m., Feb. 24: Top US diplomat speaks with Turkey's foreign minister by phone

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today.
  • Blinken “thanked Turkey for its strong and vocal support in defense of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the State Department said in a statement.

12:30 p.m., Feb. 24: Lebanon condemns Russian invasion

  • Lebanon's Foreign Ministry condemned Moscow's attack and called on the Kremlin to "halt its military operation immediately and withdraw its forces" from Ukraine.
  • Beirut's statement cited previous foreign invasions of Lebanon "which led to losses that were felt for many years."
  • Syria's government under President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, adopted Moscow's stance and baselessly blamed Ukraine for triggering the conflict. 
  • Read more here.

12:15 p.m., Feb. 24: Pentagon chief speaks with Turkish counterpart by phone

  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday after Ankara said it had weighed Ukraine's request to close the Turkish straits into the Black Sea to Russian ships.
  • The pair discussed “bilateral regional defense and security issues, especially the latest developments in Ukraine,” according to a statement released by the Turkish Defense Ministry.
  • A senior Pentagon officials speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity later confirmed the call, but offered no details. A Pentagon statement on the conversation is expected to be released later today.

12:04 p.m., Feb. 24: Turkish, French presidents speak by phone

  • Turkey's president spoke to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron about the situation in Ukraine. 
  • Earlier today, Macron called for an emergency NATO summit.

11:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Egypt expresses "deep concern" over Ukraine developments

  • Egypt's Foreign Ministry urged dialogue to resolve Russia's moves against Ukraine in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
  • "Egypt is following with deep concern the successive developments regarding the situation in Ukraine, and affirms the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavors that would hasten the political settlement of the crisis," a ministry statement read.

11:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Pentagon says Russia aims for regime change in Ukraine

  • The Kremlin “has every intention of basically decapitating Ukrainian leadership,” a senior US defense official told reporters Thursday morning.
  • Russia committed more than 100 missiles and about 75 fighter jets during the first wave of strikes last night, the official said.
  • Later, the official said updated the number to roughly 160 Russian missiles fired into Ukraine. 

10:10 a.m., Feb. 24: Turkey considers Ukraine's request to close straits

  • A spokesperson for Turkey's ruling political party said the government was weighing Kyiv's request for Ankara to close the Turkish straits to Russian ships, but offered no clarity on a decision.
  • Turkey has "assessed all the scenarios" that could come from a decision to close the straits, and "will use its discretion in favor of peace instead of deepening the conflict," spokesperson Omer Celik said during a press conference.
  • "Preparations both legally and diplomatically have been concluded. We will continue to follow the process. We certainly don’t want tensions to escalate further," Celik said.
  • Read more here.

9:51 a.m., Feb. 24: Israel’s prime minister softens tone on Ukraine invasion

  • Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett avoided condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in a speech on Thursday evening, taking a more cautious tone than Foreign Minister Yair Lapid did earlier.
  • “These are difficult and tragic moments, and our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine who have fallen into this situation without injustice on their part,” Bennett said.
  • Read more here.

9:40 a.m., Feb. 24: Bomb hits Turkish civilian ship off Odessa, none hurt

  • Maritime authorities in Turkey said a bomb struck a Turkish-owned ship off the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Thursday.
  • No one was reported hurt and the ship, the Yasa Jupiter, headed for Romanian waters.

6:20 a.m., Feb. 24: Egypt cabinet meets to discuss war's impact on food imports, fuel prices, tourism

  • Egypt's government convened a full cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss preparations for expected impacts on wheat imports, global fuel prices and possible reductions in tourism revenues, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said today.
  • Read more here.

5:23 a.m., Feb. 24: Israel condemns Russia’s assault on Ukraine

  • Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid broke his country’s silence on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Thursday, calling the attack “a serious violation of the international order.”
  • Analysts have speculated that Russia’s military leverage in Syria, where the Kremlin has turned a blind eye to Israeli airstrikes against Iran-backed militias, may lessen Tel Aviv's response to Moscow’s aggression in Europe.
  • Read our coverage here.

4:30 a.m., Feb. 24: All eyes on Gulf as oil, gas prices surge 

  • Brent crude oil broke $105 per barrel on Thursday after Russia launched attacks across Ukraine.
  • Futures for gas delivered in the Netherlands, a benchmark for European prices, jumped 30% today.
  • The Biden administration approached Qatar earlier this month about supplying gas to Europe amid an expected decline in Russian supplies. Doha’s energy minister suggested yesterday that his country could not adequately cover the deficit.

3:30 a.m., Feb. 24: Turkey's president slams Russia's invasion as "unacceptable"

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “a violation of international law” and “unacceptable."
  • Erdogan spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the phone this morning and reiterated support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

2:30 a.m., Feb. 24: Ukraine calls on Turkey to close straits to Black Sea

  • Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, called on Ankara to close the straits into the Black Sea to Russian ships.
  • Russia has more than 10 naval landing craft in the Black Sea and landed troops on Ukraine’s southern coast last night, Pentagon officials said.
  • Ankara can close the straits in wartime under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

1:39 a.m., Feb. 24: Qatar's emir speaks with Zelenskyy, calls for 'restraint'

  • Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani spoke with Ukraine's president Thursday morning and "called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve the dispute through constructive dialogue and diplomatic methods, as well as the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, and not to take any actions that would lead to further escalation," according to Doha's statement.
  • Zelenskyy had a different take on the call: "Received support from the Emir of Qatar @TamimBinHamad," he tweeted. "The world is with us."