June 26, 2022

Here are the latest developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine:

Russian forces move closer to the capital from the north, west and northeast.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak calls Kyiv a “city under siege”.

A mosque housing 80 civilians, including some Turkish nationals is shelled in the southern port of Mariupol, Ukraine says.

No immediate figures for casualties are available.

An “unimaginable tragedy” is unfolding in Mariupol, which has been under constant Russian shelling for over a week, a Doctors without Borders official says.

The city has been without running water and power for 11 days.

Reports mount of people starving and of corpses lying uncollected in the streets.

The United States and its allies move to end normal trade relations with Russia, enabling them to inflict steep tariff hikes on Moscow.

Washington announces a ban on Russian seafood, vodka and diamonds, and along with the European Union, bans exports of luxury goods to Russia.

The head of Russian space agency Roscosmos warns that Western sanctions on Moscow could cause the International Space Station to crash. Dmitry Rogozin says the measures are affecting supplies to the Russian part of the station, which corrects the station’s orbit.

US President Joe Biden again rules out any direct intervention by the United States to halt Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, warning that such conflict pitting the NATO alliance against the Kremlin “is World War III”.

Western countries reject Russian claims that the United States and Ukraine researched using bats to conduct biological warfare. Britain’s ambassador to the UN says the claims made at a Security Council meeting are “utter nonsense”.

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Ukrainian lawmakers say Russian soldiers have abducted the mayor of the southern city of Melitopol.

A woman cries as she is evacuated from Irpin, just north of Kyiv, as Russian tanks press closer Photo: AFP / Aris Messinis

An apartment block and shoe factory are hit in the first air strikes on the central city of Dnipro — until now seen as a safe haven.

A home for the disabled near Kharkiv in the east is also bombed, officials say.

Russia also announces that the military airfields of Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine have been “put out of action”.

European Union leaders eye an extra 500 million euros for military support for Ukraine and “massive” sanctions on Russia, if the Kremlin presses on with its war.

The Kremlin says Syrian fighters can fight for Russia in Ukraine after President Vladimir Putin backs plans to draft in 16,000 volunteers, mostly from the Middle East.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses Moscow of hiring “murderers” from a country they have destroyed, “like they are doing here to us”.

Russia restricts access to Instagram, one of the most popular platforms there, claiming it is carrying content urging people to attack its armed forces.

The Russian move comes after the UN voices alarm at Facebook’s decision to temporarily ease its violent speech policy after the invasion, warning it could spark hate speech.

Moscow prosecutors also opens a case against its parent company — which owns Instagram — for “calling for the murder” of Russians.

The platform says it will allow statements like “death to Russian invaders” but not threats against civilians.

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More than two and a half million people have fled the “senseless war” in Ukraine, the UN says — more than half to Poland.