Russian troops ordered to advance in Ukraine

Moscow vetoes UNSC resolution as India, China & UAE abstain

AFP February 27, 2022
A convoy of Russian military vehicles moving towards border in Donbas region. PHOTO: AA


 Moscow ordered its troops to advance in Ukraine "from all directions" on Saturday as the Ukrainian capital Kyiv imposed a blanket curfew after fighting in the city that saw Russian troops pushed back.

Ukrainian officials reported 198 civilian deaths in total, including three children, as explosions reverberated in Kyiv, forcing residents to flee to safety underground.

Moscow said it fired cruise missiles at military targets and would "develop the offensive from all directions" after accusing Ukraine of having "rejected" talks.

But, on day three of Russia's invasion, defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed his country would never give in to the Kremlin, while Washington said the invading force had a "lack of momentum".

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday for "political support" at the UN after New Delhi abstained from a Security Council vote.

India is currently on the UN’s top body but -- along with China and the UAE -- did not vote on a resolution on Friday that deplored Russia's "aggression" against Ukraine and demanded the immediate withdrawal of its troops.

Russia vetoed the resolution using its power as a permanent member of the council.

In a Twitter post on Saturday, Zelensky said he had spoken with Modi and told him that "More than 100,000 invaders are on our land."

"Stop the aggressor together!" he tweeted.

Despite being a democracy and a member of the "Quad" grouping with Australia, Japan and the United States, India has neither explicitly condemned Moscow's actions, nor called them an invasion.

Instead it has repeatedly referred to "developments" in Ukraine.

Its position on events in Ukraine has raised concerns in Washington, with White House press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters on Friday that "we continue to engage with the Indians".

Ukraine's army said it held back an assault on the capital -- but was fighting Russian "sabotage groups" which had infiltrated the city.

Zelensky said in a video messages "we will do and say only one thing: we will fight until we have liberated our country".

He earlier said Ukraine had "derailed" Moscow's plan to overthrow him and urged Russians to pressure President Vladimir Putin into stopping the conflict.

The Pentagon estimates that half of the invasion force built up by Russia on Ukraine's borders in recent months is now inside the country.

But there was a "lack of momentum over the last 24 hours, particularly in the northern parts of Ukraine" and the Russian military had still not gained air superiority over the country, the official said.

Read more: Ukraine downs 14 Russian planes, 8 helicopters, 102 tanks, 3,500 soldiers

Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said 198 civilians, including three children, had been killed in the conflict so far and 1,115 wounded.

In Kyiv, residents sought sanctuary in subway stations and cellars, while Zelensky announced a baby girl had been born on the metro, saying the birth showed "the enemy has no chance".

Some recounted a night of horror.

Zelensky said he asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to strip Russia of its vote at the UN Security Council as punishment for the invasion.

Also read: Russian forces capture Ukrainian city as missile strikes continue

Earlier, he thanked "partners" for sending weapons and equipment, with ex-communist eastern European countries and Britain among them, while Washington announced $350 million of new military assistance.

In a major U-turn, Berlin said it will send Kyiv 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger missiles, reversing its longstanding policy of not exporting weapons to war zones.

Germany also announced it was working to limit Russia's access to SWIFT global payments which would cripple Russia's trade with most of the world, despite previously resisting the move over concerns Russia could cut off gas supplies.

"Keep it up," Zelensky responded.

But the Kremlin has so far brushed off sanctions, including those targeting Putin personally, as a sign of Western impotence.

NATO has said it is deploying its rapid response force of 40,000 troops to eastern Europe for the first time, but the Western military alliance has made clear it will not send any troops to Ukraine.

On the ground early Saturday, AFP reporters in Kyiv heard occasional blasts of what soldiers said were artillery and Grad missiles being fired in an area northwest of the city centre.

There were also loud explosions in the centre. 


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