Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

By | March 8, 2022

London Metal Exchange suspends nickel trading after price surge

The London Metal Exchange suspended the trading of nickel on Tuesday after prices surged above $100,000 per ton.

The LME said in a statement that trading will be suspended for at least the remainder of the day.

The exchange said it had been monitoring the evolving situation in Russia and Ukraine and it was evident this had affected the nickel market, citing extreme price moves in Asian trading hours.

“The LME will actively plan for the reopening of the nickel market, and will announce the mechanics of this to the market as soon as possible” it added.

Three-month nickel on the LME briefly jumped to a record high above $100,000 a metric ton, before paring gains.

— Chloe Taylor

Shell announces phased withdrawal from Russian oil and gas

A cyclist passes oil silos at the Royal Dutch Shell Pernis refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021.

Peter Boer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil major Shell on Tuesday apologized for buying a heavily discounted consignment of Russian oil last week, and announced it would gradually withdraw from its involvement in all Russian hydrocarbons.

“As an immediate first step, the company will stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil. It will also shut its service stations, aviation fuels and lubricants operations in Russia,” it said in a statement.

On Friday, Shell purchased 100,000 metric tons of flagship Urals crude from Russia. It was reportedly bought at a record discount, with many firms shunning Russian oil due to Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of its neighbor. The purchase did not violate any Western sanctions.

— Matt Clinch

Footage shows civilian evacuations underway in Sumy

Kirll Timoshenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy, shared footage on Tuesday of the evacuation of civilians from Sumy.

Sumy, a city in northeast Ukraine, has been the scene of intense attacks in recent days, with an airstrike killing 18 civilians, including two children, overnight.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday that a humanitarian corridor out of Sumy would be open from 10 am to 9 pm local time to allow the evacuation of residents and foreign students.

— Chloe Taylor

2 million people have fled Ukraine, UN says

Two million people have fled Ukraine, according to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

— Chloe Taylor

Mayor of Irpin says Russians have threatened his life and demanded surrender

Abandoned strollers are pictured under a destroyed bridge as people walked across the collapsed concrete to flee Irpin, a northwest suburb of Kyiv, on March 7, 2022.

Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images

Alexander Markushin, the mayor of Irpin — a town on the outskirts of Kyiv — said Tuesday that Russian forces had contacted him to threaten his life and demand his surrender.

“Yesterday at 17:58, I received a message from the occupiers threatening my life and health,” Markushin said, according to a translation.

He added that the message included demands for “the complete surrender of Irpin.”

“I’m surprised that these monsters still haven’t understood — Irpin doesn’t give up, Irpin doesn’t sell, Irpin fights,” he said.

There has been intense fighting in Irpin over recent days. On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops had opened fire on civilians attempting to flee the town, resulting in the deaths of a family of four. “How many such families have died in Ukraine? We will not forgive. We will not forget,” he said.

— Chloe Taylor

Russian state media says new cease-fire will see Ukrainian civilians evacuated to Russia

Smoke rise after shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol, Ukraine, Friday, March 4, 2022.

Evgeniy Maloletka | AP

The Russian military on Tuesday declared a fresh cease-fire in five Ukrainian cities, according to state-run media. But evacuation routes will lead to Russia.

News agency Interfax reported that evacuation routes would take civilians “from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol to Russia,” citing Russia’s National Defense Control Center.

On Monday, Russian plans for a cease-fire to allow civilian evacuations were rejected as “completely immoral” by Ukrainian officials, after it emerged that the evacuation routes Russia planned to open would lead to Russian or Belarusian territory.

It came after evacuation attempts were halted at the weekend over claims that Russian forces were violating cease-fire agreements by continuing to attack cities and the routes out of them.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Kyiv had agreed an evacuation route out of Sumy to the Ukrainian city of Poltava. The route had been agreed with both Russia and the International Red Cross Committee, she told reporters.

“No other routes were agreed upon,” she said, according to a translation by NBC News. But she added: “We already have information that the Russian side is preparing a violation of this corridor, they prepare manipulations with the routes to make people go in [another] direction.”

On Monday, a UN official said civilians must be permitted to evacuate from conflict zones “in the direction they choose.”

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine official says 18 people, including 2 children, killed in Sumy airstrike

A Russian airstrike on the city of Sumy killed 18 civilians, including two children, on Monday night, a Ukrainian official has said.

Anton Herashchenko, Ukraine’s deputy minister of internal affairs, said in a Telegram post on Tuesday that Russian pilots had “committed another crime against humanity in Sumy” by dropping bombs on residential buildings in Sumy.

“Debris clearing is still ongoing,” he said. “But the fact of the death of 18 civilians has already been established. Including two children.”

Herashchenko said the deaths were also “on the conscience of European politicians … who have not yet made a decision to give us powerful anti-aircraft missiles or close the sky.”

Western countries and the NATO military alliance have ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, arguing that shooting down Russian planes would lead to an escalation of the conflict and greater human suffering.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia using claims about Ukrainian nuclear weapons to justify invasion, UK says

In an intelligence update on Tuesday, the UK Ministry of Defense said that since the end of February, there has been “a notable intensification of Russian allegations that Ukraine is developing nuclear or biological weapons.”

“These narratives are long standing but are currently likely being amplified as part of a retrospective justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russian claims that Ukraine was developing nuclear weapons a “hallucination.”

“I once again refute this sick fake,” he said on Twitter.

— Chloe Taylor

UN calls for safe passages for civilians fleeing conflict

In a statement on Monday, Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said there were three immediate priorities that needed to be addressed in Ukraine to “lessen the pain and suffering we are all watching unfold in real time.”

First, he said, military operations must take constant care to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure from attacks — this included creating safe passages to allow civilians to leave areas of active hostilities “in the direction they choose.”

On Monday, Ukrainian officials accused Russia of allowing civilians to evacuate only to Russian or Belarusian territory, a move slammed by Ukraine’s government as “completely immoral.”

Griffiths said in his statement that safe passage for humanitarian supplies into conflict zones was also vital. The UN also wanted a system of “constant communication” with both Russia and Ukraine, as well as assurances that the delivery of humanitarian aid would be enabled, he said.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine says Russian advance has ‘slowed significantly’

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its thirteenth day, officials in Kyiv have said the pace of the Russian advance has slowed.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a post on Facebook Tuesday that: “The opponent continues the offensive operation, but the pace of promotion of his troops has slowed significantly,” according to a translation.

As of 6 am local time, defensive operations continued across the country, including in the city of Chernihiv, the capital Kyiv and on Ukraine’s southern coast, the post said.

Russian troops were “increasingly violating the rules of international humanitarian law on military conflict,” Ukrainian officials said.

In Kherson and Mykolaiv, which Ukraine said were currently occupied by Moscow’s forces, Russia had set up tactical groups designed to “conduct propaganda work with the local population,” according to Ukrainian officials.

— Chloe Taylor

Russia claims oil could hit $300 a barrel if Western allies target energy

Oil pumping jacks, also known as “nodding donkeys”, are reflected in a puddle as they operate in an oilfield near Almetyevsk, Russia, on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg via Getty Images

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has claimed that oil prices could climb beyond $300 a barrel if the West decides to move ahead with full sanctions on its energy exports.

“It is absolutely clear that a rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Novak said in an address on state television.

“The surge in prices would be unpredictable. It would be $300 per barrel if not more.”

International benchmark Brent crude futures rose 3.5% to trade at $127.61 a barrel on Tuesday morning in London, while US West Texas Intermediate futures jumped 3% to trade at $123.04.

— Sam Meredith

Putin still has strong support in some circles in Russia, says former NATO deputy chief

Rose Gottemoeller, a former deputy secretary general of NATO, said there are signs Russian President Vladimir Putin retains strong support in certain parts of the country.

“There are a number of very strong nationalists in Russia. Apparently they were present in … motorcades outside of the Kremlin yesterday, waving flags, supporting the president,” she told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

Some polls also suggest that his popularity in Russia is still growing, she added.

On the other hand, people who are informed or have a stake in this, “like the oligarchs who have investments all over the world and want to keep their wealth” may be growing concerned as international sanctions hit.

“I am not surprised that they are becoming increasingly worried,” Gottemoeller said.

“I don’t think he’s going to lose his grip on power, but perhaps some messages will start to get through to him,” she said.

— Abigail Ng

Ukraine claims it killed another one of Putin’s top generals, other senior Russian Army officers

A man stands on the rubble of a house destroyed by recent shelling during Ukraine-Russia conflict in Kharkiv, Ukraine March 7, 2022.

Oleksandr Lapshyn | Reuters

Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency said that Russian Army Major General Vitaly Gerasimov was killed, and other senior Russian Army officers “were also killed or wounded” in action near the city of Kharkiv.

Gerasimov was identified by the intelligence agency as the chief of staff and first deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army.

The agency, which said Gerasimov had been “liquidated,” claimed that data obtained related to his death near the city in northeast Ukraine “show significant problems with communication” in Russia’s army, “and with the evacuation of their defeated units.”

The post contains embedded audio files purporting to be intercepted communications between Russians discussing Gerasimov’s death.

The reported killing comes days after another deputy commander of the 41st Combined, Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, was fatally shot by a Ukrainian sniper.

—Dan Mangan

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