Russia invades Ukraine – live updates
Volodymyr Zelensky has warned Russia’s war on Ukraine could be entering a “new stage of terror” amid unconfirmed reports Vladimir Putin’s forces have used chemical weapons in the besieged city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian fighters and officials claimed on Monday night that some people had suffered symptoms of chemical poisoning, including respiratory failure, after Russian troops deployed an unknown substance in the Black Sea port city.
“We treat this with the utmost seriousness,” Mr Zelensky said. Although the Ukrainian president did not confirm a chemical weapons attack, he noted pro-Russian separatists had earlier called for the use of such weapons, which he said “testifies to their preparation for a new stage of terror”.
The UK and US have each said they are investigating the reports of the chemical weapons attack, with British foreign secretary Liz Truss hold Vladimir Putin “and his regime to account” if confirmed.
The reports as the West braces for a major new offensive in by Russian forces in the east of Ukraine.
Nearly two-thirds of Ukraine’s children have fled, says UNICEF
Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced nearly two-thirds of children living in the country and the number is expected to be much higher, the UNICEF said on Monday.
Having 4.8 million of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children displaced in just six weeks of invasion is “quite incredible”, said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s emergency programs director.
He added that it is something he has not seen happen before so quickly in the course of 31 years of humanitarian work.
“They have been forced to leave everything behind — their homes, their schools and, often, their family members. I have heard stories of the desperate steps parents are taking to get their children to safety, and children saddened that they are unable to get back to school,” Mr Fontaine, who has just come back from Ukraine, said.
The UN has also confirmed the death of 142 youngsters, officials said.
Putin to talk to Belarus leader Lukashenko over Ukraine
Russian president Vladimir Putin is set to meet his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko today to discuss the situation brewing in Ukraine and the continuing sanctions from western nations.
Mr Lukashenko, a staunch ally of Russia during invasion of Ukraine launched by Moscow, reached in the Amur region in the Russian far east where he will meet Mr Putin at the Russian spaceport Vostochny Cosmodrome, reported Belarusian news agency.
The Belarusian leader has insisited for a place for his country at the negotiation table to resolve the ongoing siege in Ukraine, stating that Belarus has been unfairly dubbed as “an accomplice of the aggressor”.
Zelensky says taking chemical weapons threat from Russia ‘as seriously as possible’
Volodymyr Zelensky said that the potential use of chemical weapons by Russia in Mariupol is being taken seriously by his authorities.
“One of the Russian mouthpieces has said that its troops in Ukraine could use chemical weapons in Mariupol. “We take this as seriously as possible. I want to remind the world leaders that the possible use of chemical weapons by the Russian military has already been discussed,” Mr Zelensky said in a nightly address.
Seeking precise help for Mariupol, he added that the Russian offensive can be dealth with if Ukraine gets west’s help.
“When it comes to necessary supply of weapons, we still depend on the supply on our partners. Unfortunately we are not getting as much as we need to end this war sooner. In particular, to unblock Mariupol if we get jets and enough heavy armoured vehicles, the necessary artillery, we would be able to do it,” Mr Zelensky said on early Tuesday.
In Mariupol, Russian troops burning bodies in mobile crematoriums, official says
Russian troops are concealing the carnage inside Mariupol by taking dead bodies to big shopping centres with storage facilities and then burning the corpses in mobile crematoriums, cities mayor Vadym Boychenko said on Monday.
He accused the Russian troops of blocking the humanitarian convoys and keeping them from entering the battered city to cover up the killings committed inside.
He added that Russian forces have brought mobile cremation equipment to Mariupol to dispose of the remains of victims who were killed in the siege.
It is one of the cities where humanitarian aid has not been able to reach as the route remains blocked by Russian troops.
“Mobile crematoriums have arrived in the form of trucks: You open it, and there is a pipe inside and these bodies are burned,” Mr Boychenko said, adding that the corpses are being stored in giant refrigerators inside the shopping centres.
The Mariupol mayor said he knew several sources who cited the alleged methodic burning of corpses by Russian forces in Mariupol, without giving much details.
Ukraine most contaminated by mines in world by Russia, says Zelensky
The Ukrainian territory has been made one of the most contaminated by mines left behind by Russian troops, making the return to these areas as “dangerous as possible”, Volodymyr Zelensky said on early Tuesday.
He said that the authorities are working on security work in the northern parts of the country and a key task is mine clearance.
“Security work is underway in the northern regions of our country from where the occupiers were expelled. First of all, it is mine clearance. Russian troops left behind tens if not hundreds of thousands of dangerous objects. These are shells that did not explode, mines, tripwire mines,” Mr Zelensky said in a video message shared on social media.
He said that his workers are disposing off “at least thousand such items are daily”.
“The occupiers left mines everywhere in houses and fields. They mined people’s property, mined cars, doors. They consciously did everything to make the return to these areas after deoccupation as dangerous as possible,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Due to the actions of Russian army, our territory is currently one of the most contamined by mines in the world, Mr Zelensky said.
But, he added that “the shameful invasion that is gradually wiping Russia out of international relations is coming to an end.”
Putin meeting was ‘not a friendly visit’, says Austrian premier
Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer said he held a “very direct, open and tough” talks with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Monday.
This was Russian president Vladimir Putin’s first meeting with an EU leader since his forces invaded Ukraine more than six weeks ago.
“This is not a friendly visit,” Mr Nehammer said, according to a statement issued by his governmental office shortly after the meeting at Putin’s official Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.
Despite sourcing 80 per cent of its natural gas from Russia, Austria has expressed solidarity with Ukraine and denounced apparent Russian war crimes.
Read the full story here:
‘The conversation with president Putin was very direct, open and tough,’ Nehammer says
Latest photos from Ukraine war
Here are two images from Ukraine today and another showing Ukrainian asylum seekers about to enter the US:
UK ‘working urgently’ to verify chemical weapons reports
Liz Truss, the British foreign secretary, has commented on reports that Russia has used chemical weapons in Mariupol and vowed to hold Putin to account if they are verified:
Senior Ukrainian officials claim Russia guilty of chemical weapons attack
Senior Ukrainian officials have claimed Russia has used chemical weapons in Mariupol, but an accusation has not yet been levelled at the Kremlin by Kyiv.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs, tweeted that Moscow had crossed “all boundaries of humanity”, while Ivanna Klympush, a Ukrainian MP, said chemical weapons had “most likely” been used.
Their allegations have not been independently verified.
IMF sets up new account to facilitate donations to Ukraine
The Ukrainian government has welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) move to open a new account to allow international donors to send financial support to the Ukraine more easily.
“Donors will benefit from the IMF’s tested infrastructure to quickly deliver authenticated payments,” the IMF said.
This comes a week after Ukraine’s finance minister Serhiy Marchenko said his war-torn country still required around 4 billion euros (£3.3bn) in overseas donations to help with a budget deficit.