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Ukraine updates, Day Three: Zelenskyy urges Ukranians to keep fighting as Russians advance


Russia claims to have taken the southern Ukraine city of Melitopol

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  • After a brief pause on Friday in anticipation of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that never happened, Russian troops advanced again into Ukraine on Friday night and Saturday.
  • Russia claims to have taken the southern Ukraine city of Melitopol
  • Russian forces have entered the Ukraine capital of Kyiv but the centre of the city is still under Ukraine control. Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged Ukrainians to keep fighting after his soldiers battled through the night against Russian troops
  • Russian forces pound Ukraine for third day
  • Ukrainian forces engaged in street battles in the capital against Russian troops on the third day of an invasion
  • U.S. President Joe Biden authorized the State Department to provide $600 million in immediate aid to Ukraine, including $350 million in military funding
  • France seizes Russian ship targeted by U.S. sanctions in first visible display of the Western sanctions
  • EU bid to cut Russian banks from Swift gains momentum
  • Diplomats in Beijing believe Russian attack came as a surprise to China

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13:08 p.m. EST — Ukraine destroys rails crossings to Russia: FT

Ukrainian forces have blown up railways junctions connecting to Russian counterparts.

“Railroad crossings between countries that used to transport thousands of goods and bring millions of dollars to the economies of both countries have been destroyed,” Ukrzaliznytsia, Ukraine’s state railway company, posted to the social media platform Telegram, reports FT. “Dispatch communication with the Russian Federation has also been suspended.”

Ukrzaliznytsia said that it would “completely reorient freight traffic to Europe, and would continue to develop routes to Asian countries that bypassed Russia. “The company is ready to become a full member of the logistics chain of the European Union,” the railway company said.

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12:57 p.m. EST — Kyiv reels from night of fighting

Soldiers picking through charred debris scattered near the smoldering remains of a truck and a few civilians taking fresh air before a curfew were among scarce signs of life in Ukraine’s capital on Saturday, after a second night of artillery barrages.

Many shops were closed, including those selling food, and the streets were empty except for a odd car — a contrast to the columns of vehicles choking roads in recent days as tens of thousands of residents fled west — and a few pedestrians pulling suitcases.

“I was smart enough to stock food for at least a month, we have everything,” said Serhiy, a middle aged man who said he started buying extra groceries for his family well before the violence broke out.
“I did not trust politicians that this would end peacefully,” Serhiy said, taking a walk before a curfew that kicked in at 5:00 p.m.

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Four heavily armed soldiers manned a checkpoint near a government building. Amid reports of Russian saboteur groups in the city, passengers in cars were required to keep their hands in the open and show identification papers without sudden moves, a Reuters team reported.

Soldiers near a Kyiv train station inspected the still smoking remains of a truck that appeared to have been carrying ammunition and had scattered burnt shrapnel across a highway. Other soldiers dug trenches.

The United States has observed more than 250 launches of Russian missiles, mostly short-range, at Ukrainian targets, the U.S. defense official said.

“We know that (Russian forces) have not made the progress that they wanted to make, particularly in the north. They have been frustrated by what they have seen is a very determined resistance,” the official said, without providing evidence.

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Moscow says it is taking care not to hit civilian sites.

12:16 p.m. EST — Berlin shifts policy to supply of rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Ukraine

Germany has approved the delivery of 400 RPGs from the Netherlands to Ukraine, the defense ministry in Berlin said, confirming a shift in policy after Berlin faced criticism for refusing to send weapons to Kyiv, unlike other Western allies.

“The approval has been confirmed by the chancellery,” a spokesman for the defense ministry said on Saturday. The rocket-propelled grenades come from stocks of the German military.

Germany has a long-standing policy of not exporting weapons to war zones, rooted partly in its bloody 20th-century history and resulting pacifism. Countries aiming to onpass German weapons exports need to apply for approval in Berlin first.

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Earlier on Saturday, the Dutch government said in a letter to parliament that it will supply 200 air defense rockets to Ukraine as quickly as possible.

11:16 a.m. EST — Russian troops destroy Ukrainian dam that blocked water to Crimea

Russian troops have destroyed a concrete dam built in Ukraine’s Kherson Region in 2014 to cut off water to Crimea, the RIA news agency quoted the governor of Russian-annexed Crimea Sergei Aksyonov as saying on Saturday.

Ukraine cut off the fresh water supply to Crimea by damming a canal that had supplied 85% of the peninsula’s needs before Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014.

The Soviet-era canal was built to channel water from the River Dnieper to arid areas of Ukraine’s Kherson region and Crimea

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10:52 a.m. EST — Russian advance meets logistical problems and stiff resistance

Ukraine so far appears to have prevented Russia from achieving air dominance inside the country and it continues to face resistance from Ukrainian aircraft and missile defenses, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Saturday morning.

The Russian military faces stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces across the country, especially in the north, where Russian troops are now within approximately 30 kilometers of the capital, Kyiv, the person said. Russia has yet to take control of any major cities, the person added.

A senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said it appeared Russian commanders did not plan for enough fuel and basic logistics support, and were now trying to adjust.

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The Russian military continued to pound Kyiv and other cities with artillery and cruise missiles on day three of a campaign that has sent hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing west toward the European Union, clogging major highways and railway lines.

But a defiant Zelenskyy said the capital Kyiv remained in Ukrainian hands. Authorities there handed thousands of assault rifles to residents and told citizens to make petrol bombs as they prepared to help repel the invaders.

The U.S. defense official said Washington saw indications of “viable Ukrainian resistance.”
“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 said, declining to explain the sources of U.S. intelligence behind that assessment.
“It has slowed them down,” the official added.

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U.S. military assistance has continued to flow to Ukraine in the last couple of days, the person said, even as the country’s airspace has become contested.

“The speed of the Russian advance has temporarily slowed likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance,” Britain’s defense ministry said in a regular intelligence update posted on Twitter.

“Russian forces are bypassing major Ukrainian population centers while leaving forces to encircle and isolate them. Overnight clashes in Kyiv are likely to have involved limited numbers of pre-positioned Russian groups. The capture of Kyiv remains Russia’s primary military objective.”

9:55 a.m. EST — U.S. weighs ‘devastating’ sanctions on Russia’s central bank over Ukraine

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The U.S. is weighing sanctions on Russia’s central bank, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would target much of the $643 billion reserves that President Russian Vladimir Putin had amassed ahead of his invasion of Ukraine.

While Russia has been steadily reducing reliance on foreign currency, the central bank still held 16.4% of its holdings in dollars at the end of June 2021, according to the latest official data, down from 22.2% a year earlier. The euro’s share was up at 32.2%.

The move would be “devastating” for Russia, according to Tim Ash, a strategist at Bluebay Asset Management in London. “We would see the ruble crash.”

Although the decision would be without precedent for an economy the size of Russia’s, the U.S. has previously sanctioned the central banks of adversaries. In 2019, the Treasury Department blacklisted the monetary authorities of Iran and Venezuela for funneling money that supported destabilizing activities in the respective regions. North Korea’s central bank is also blacklisted.

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Losing access to funds abroad could handcuff Russia’s central bank as it tries to shore up the ruble in the foreign-exchange market by selling hard currency. The direct interventions, announced earlier this week after Putin ordered his military to attack Ukraine, mark the first time the Bank of Russia waded into the market since 2014.

9:20 a.m. EST — Former Russian president says assault will continue despite Western sanctions

Russian forces pounded Ukrainian cities with artillery and cruise missiles on Saturday for a third day running but a defiant President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the capital Kyiv remained in Ukrainian hands.

As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled westwards towards the European Union, top Russian security official and ex-president Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow’s military operations would be waged relentlessly until their goals were achieved.

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In a significant ratcheting up of Russia’s rhetoric, Medvedev said new Western sanctions were a sign of the West’s impotence in the standoff and hinted at a severing of diplomatic ties, saying it was time to “padlock the embassies.”

After a night of airstrikes, there were some signs of panic in Kyiv. Reuters reporters saw Ukrainian soldiers and a group of women running along the street. Nearby, Ukrainian soldiers forced a man in civilian clothes to lie down on the pavement.

Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said there was currently no major Russian military presence in Kyiv, but added that saboteur groups were active. Klitschko said 35 people, including two children, had been wounded overnight. He later announced the extension of a night-time curfew, which will now run from 5 pm until 8 am.

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9:00 a.m. EST  — Russian troops continue advance

Russian troops started advancing into Ukraine again on Saturday after President Vladimir Putin paused the offensive a day earlier in anticipation of talks with Kyiv that never happened, the Kremlin said.

Both Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of possible talks on Friday but Ukraine said clashes with invading Russian troops continued on Friday night and on Saturday.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitriy Peskov said that after Putin’s order Russian troops only clashed with “groups of nationalists” — as opposed to regular Ukrainian forces.

The Kyiv government said on Saturday Russian forces were attacking a number of Ukrainian cities and Russian saboteurs were being detained in the capital city.

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Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday morning it had taken over the Ukrainian city of Melitopol.

Peskov also told a briefing Russia had expected the sanctions imposed by the West in response to the invasion and was taking measures to minimize their impact on the economy.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukrainians to keep fighting after his soldiers battled through the night against Russian troops that have entered the capital Kyiv and besieged cities across the country.

Officials said the centre of Kyiv was still under Ukrainian government and military control on Saturday. Gunfire and explosions were heard in several parts of the capital overnight.

As the invasion entered its third day, the Ukraine president said in a video recorded outside his office: “I’m here. We are not going to put down any arms. We will defend our country.”

With additional reporting by Reuters, Bloomberg and The Canadian Press

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