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Feb. 26, 2022

OWN CORRESPONDENT

6 min read

Russian army ordered to broaden Ukraine advance

Russian army ordered to broaden Ukraine advance

Invading Russian soldiers

Story highlights

  • Fighting has reached the streets of Ukraine’s capital as Russia presses ahead with its invasion
  • President Volodymyr Zelenkskyy pledges to defend the country, says he will not surrender

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THE Russian army has been given orders to broaden its offensive in Ukraine “from all directions” after Kyiv refused to hold talks in Belarus, the country’s defence ministry says.

“After the Ukrainian side rejected the negotiation process, today all units were given orders to develop the advance from all directions in accordance with the operation’s plans,” Russian army spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

More than 150,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of Russia’s invasion, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees has said.

“Displacement in Ukraine is also growing but the military situation makes it difficult to estimate numbers and provide aid,” Filippo Grandi tweeted.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from a highway in central Ukraine, says there is an “atmosphere of tension” in the country’s rural areas.

“There are lots of checkpoints, barricades being put up and military reserves about,” Simmons said.

“They look stressed, and they’re looking for saboteurs,” he added. “There have been saboteurs arrested and killed … and, of course, it is dangerous for anyone on the streets, civilians or otherwise, because of that.”

Maria Avdeeva, a resident of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, has written a first-person account of Russia’s invasion for Al Jazeera.

“This city of 1.5 million people, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Russian border, where I was born and raised, is frozen in horror,” she writes. “The streets are deserted. The shelling con Russian forces are becoming increasingly frustrated by what the United States believes is “viable” Ukrainian resistance, a US defence official has said.

“We know that they have not made the progress that they have wanted to make, particularly in the north. They have been frustrated by what they have seen is a very determined resistance,” the official claimed, without providing evidence. “It has slowed them down.”

Kyiv has denied suggestions from the Kremlin that it is refusing to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia, but says it is not ready to accept ultimatums or unacceptable conditions.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenkskyy, told the Reuters news agency that Ukraine has prepared a negotiating position but was being confronted with impractical negotiating conditions from Moscow.

“It was yesterday that the aggressive actions of the armed forces of the Russian Federation escalated, up to evening and night mass air and missile strikes on Ukrainian cities,” he said. Russian forces are becoming increasingly frustrated by what the United States believes is “viable” Ukrainian resistance, a US defence official has said.

“We know that they have not made the progress that they have wanted to make, particularly in the north. They have been frustrated by what they have seen is a very determined resistance,” the official claimed, without providing evidence. “It has slowed them down.”

Kyiv has denied suggestions from the Kremlin that it is refusing to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia, but says it is not ready to accept ultimatums or unacceptable conditions.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenkskyy, told the Reuters news agency that Ukraine has prepared a negotiating position but was being confronted with impractical negotiating conditions from Moscow.

“It was yesterday that the aggressive actions of the armed forces of the Russian Federation escalated, up to evening and night mass air and missile strikes on Ukrainian cities,” he said. “We consider such actions only an attempt to break Ukraine and force it to accept categorically unacceptable conditions.”

The European Union should speed Ukraine’s path to membership, Polish President Andrzej Duda has said, adding that Kyiv should also have access to funds from the bloc for reconstruction.

“Poland supports an express path for Ukraine membership in the European Union,” Duda wrote on Twitter. “Candidate status should be granted immediately and membership talks initiated immediately thereafter.”

“Ukraine should also have access to EU funds for reconstruction. This is what Ukraine deserves.”

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region and an ally of Putin, says Chechen fighters have been deployed in Ukraine.

In a video posted online, Kadyrov claimed that units from the North Caucasus region – a constituent republic of Russia – had suffered no losses so far.

He alleged that Russian forces could easily take large control of Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, but that their task was to avoid mass loss of life.

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Ukraine’s president has thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Ankara’s “military and humanitarian” support, saying a “ban on the passage of [Russian] warships to the Black Sea” was very important for his country.

Turkey, which controls the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits that link the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, has not publicly announced any ban on Russian warships using the channels despite Kyiv’s urgent requests that it take such a measure.

On Friday, Turkey’s foreign minister said that under the 1936 convention covering the matter, Ankara could not bar warships returning to a home base in the Black Sea from passing through the straits. Russia has a major naval base in the Black Sea.

Russia has closed its airspace to flights from Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic in a series of tit-for-tat moves.

“Air carriers of these states and/or registered in them are subject to restrictions on flights to destinations on the territory of the Russian Federation, including transit flights through the airspace of the Russian Federation,” the federal air transport agency, Rosaviation, said.

The move came after all three countries closed their own airspace to Russian carriers. Several other European nations have taken the same move, including Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia.

“There is no place for planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted. ALJAZEERA

 

 

 

 

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