Wednesday, February 28

Zelenskyy to address congress, Kyiv under fire

Neutrality for Ukraine being seriously discussed, Russia’s Lavrov says

Russia’s foreign minster has said Wednesday there was some hope of a breakthrough in talks with Ukraine and that neutrality for Ukrainian neutrality was being seriously discussed.

Sergei Lavrov told RBC news, a Russian business news channel, that discussions were not easy “for obvious reasons” but said there was “some hope of reaching a compromise.”

I have added that “neutral status is now being seriously discussed along, of course, with security guarantees.”

Ukraine has also made cautiously positive statements on peace talks. It says it is willing to negotiate to the end of the war, but will not surrender or accept Russian ultimatums.

Ukraine’s military launching counter-offensives, Zelenskyy adviser says

Ukraine’s military has launched counter-offensives against Russian forces in a number of areas, a move that “radically changes the parties’ dispositions,” according to a senior official in Kyiv.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak hailed the fight back in a post on Twitter early Tuesdaythough he offered no further details to support the claim.

Western officials have said that Moscow’s offensive has been bogged down by fierce Ukrainian resistance as well as the conditions on the ground. Russia’s military struggles have raised hopes of progress in peace talks, where Podolyak is a top Ukrainian negotiator.

Russia has taken six hostages in Bucha, north-west of Ukraine, officials say

Russian forces have ransacked an administrative building and taken six civilian hostages just outside of Kyiv, Bucha City council said on Wednesday.

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In a statement on Telegram, it said that staff and volunteers at the council were captured Tuesday evening. “The occupiers threw away their passports and other documents as they were leaving,” it said.

The council has asked the presidential office and Kyiv administration to assist in their release.

Fresh Russian strikes hit residential areas in Kyiv, Kharkiv

Smoke rises from a building after an explosion at dawn in Kyiv on Wednesday.
Smoke rises from a building after an explosion at dawn in Kyiv on Wednesday.Aris Messinis / AFP – Getty Images

A new set of Russian attacks have hit apartment buildings in Ukraine’s capital and its second-largest city.

In Kyiv, which is facing increasing bombardment and is under a new curfew, a 12-story residential building collapsed after being hit by Russian shelling, the city’s emergency services said early Tuesday.

The building partially collapsed but rescuers were able to evacuate 37 people, 2 of whom were injured, they said.

In Kharkiv, Russian artillery strikes on high-rise buildings destroyed several apartments and killed two people, Ukraine’s state emergency services said.

Swiss step up economic sanctions against Belarus

Switzerland has tightened its economic sanctions against Belarus, the government said on Wednesday, citing the eastern European country’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Neutral Switzerland has adopted in full the economic sanctions against Belarus already imposed by the European Union on March 2 and 9.

The sanctions, which come into force on Wednesday, mainly concern trade and financial sanctions, Switzerland said, and include an export ban of dual-use items which can be used for both military or civilian purposes.

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Russia ‘systematically destroying’ Ukrainian infrastructure, foreign ministry says

Russian forces are “systematically destroying” Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday, citing the country’s special emergency services.

Around 3,500 facilities have been destroyed by Russian shelling, including transport, healthcare, educational, and social institutions, the ministry said in a twee, in addition to more than 2,700 houses.

Russian advance stalled by Ukraine’s terrain, British Defense Ministry says

Russian ground forces are struggling to advance on Ukraine’s terrain, according to the British Defense Ministry.

“Russian forces have remained largely tied to Ukraine’s road network and have demonstrated a reluctance to conduct off-road manoeuvre,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on Wednesday, noting Ukraine’s armed forces have taken advantage of that situation.

Russia’s advance has also been stalled by the destruction of bridges and further limited by “Russia’s continued failure to gain control of the air,” the defense ministry said.

Last week, the ministry said Ukraine’s air defense system has held up against Russia’s aerial forces and prevented them from achieving “any degree of control of the air.”

Russian TV employee who staged on-air protest says she was interrogated for more than 14 hours

The Russian TV employee who interrupted a widely viewed evening news broadcast holding a “No war” sign told reporters Tuesday that authorities interrogated her for more than 14 hours.

The Channel One employee, identified by Russian rights-monitoring group OVD-Info as Marina Ovsyannikova, said that after being taken into custody she was denied access to a lawyer and barred from contacting her family.

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“I was in a rather tough situation,” she said outside a Moscow courthouse, according to an NBC News translation. “All the comments will be made tomorrow. I just need to rest today.”

A judge fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 rubles, or $280, for flouting protest laws, according to Reuters.

Her lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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