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Russia war live updates: Vladimir Putin’s ambassador says they have the right to press the nuclear button

THE RUSSIAN deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, retains the right to use nuclear weapons if the country is ‘provoked’ by NATO.

Dmitry Polyanskiy spoke to Sky News this morning in New York after Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said his boss could push the nuclear button if the country feels it is facing an “existential” threat.

When questioned if Putin is right to do this and hold the prospect of a nuclear war over the rest of the world, Mr Polyanskiy said: “If Russia is provoked by NATO, if Russia is attacked by NATO, why not, we are a nuclear power.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to be saying. But it’s not the right thing to threaten Russia, and to try to interfere.

“So when you’re dealing with a nuclear power, of course, you have to calculate all the possible outcomes of your behaviour.”

Follow our Russia-Ukraine live blog below for up-to-the-minute updates…

  • PM ‘most active anti-Russian leader’

    The Kremlin has said that the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is the most active anti-Russian leade.

    “As for Mr Johnson, we see him as the most active participant in the race to be anti-Russian,” RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

    “It will lead to a foreign policy dead end.”

  • Moscow says it will retaliate for Poland’s expulsion of its diplomats

    The Russian Foreign Ministry said today that Moscow will respond to Poland’s expulsion of 45 Russian diplomats, which it said threatened to destroy their already fraught relations.

    “Russia will not leave this hostile attack without a response, which will make Polish provocateurs think and will hurt them,” the ministry said in a statement.

  • Dramatic moment ‘Russian ship packed with ammo is BLOWN UP’ 

    Earlier we reported of a Russian shop named Orsk being struck by the Ukrainian military.

    Screenshots show the dramatic moment the Russian ship – packed with ammo – is reportedly blown up in Ukraine, as humiliated Putin’s Navy is forced to retreat.

    Footage shows the landing ship, named Orsk, on fire as black smoke can be seen coming from the port in occupied Berdyansk.

    While Orsk sank, and ammunition onboard exploded sending black smoke billowing into the sky, another Kremlin Navy ship was damaged and a third attempted to leave port before it too was obliterated.

    The port’s fuel depot was also understood to be ablaze.

    The Ukrainian Navy said on a Facebook post: “A large paratroop ship ‘Orsk’ of the black sea fleet of occupiers was destroyed in the occupied Russian port Berdyansk.Glory to Ukraine!”

    Footage shows the moment of the explosionCredit: Twitter
    Footage shows the moment of the explosionCredit: Twitter
    The ship was blown up while two more vessels were forced to fleeCredit: Newsflash
    The ship was blown up while two more vessels were forced to fleeCredit: Newsflash
  • Zelensky: Summits will show ‘who is a friend’

    In a video released earlier today, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said the outcome of NATO, EU and G7 summits will reveal “who is a friend” to Ukraine.

    “Politicians must … support freedom. All of them. They must support the struggle for life. We are waiting for meaningful steps. From NATO, the EU and the G7,” Zelensky said.

    “We know that the Russians have already begun to lobby their interests. These are the interests of war,” he added.

    “We know that they want to put this issue out. The struggle against war. But this is the war that needs to be put out.

    “Our firm position will be represented at these three summits. At these three summits we will see: Who is a friend, who is a partner, and who betrayed us for money.”

    In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Monday, March 21
    In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Monday, March 21Credit: AP
  • ‘Ukraine deserves to be full EU member’

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the Swedish parliament this morning that Ukraine deserves a place in the European Union.

    Mr Zelensky said: “We are not fighting just for the people of Ukraine, but for Europe’s security and we have shown that we deserve to be a fully-fledged member of the EU.”

    Ukraine applied to be an EU member within days of Russia’s invasion.

  • Zelensky: Russia has used phosphorus bombs

    Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressing the NATO summit via videolink today.

    He accused Russia of using phosphorus bombs this morning.

    “Again, children were dying, people were dying,” he told Nato.

    He did not provide any evidence, nor did he say where the attack took place.

  • Russian warship destroyed in occupied port

    Last week, drone footage filmed by a Russian state TV hailed the arrival of the Orsk in Berdyansk as it was the first Russian warship to dock there.

    However, today video footage posted by the navy and on social media showed explosions and a big ship on fire at the port, about 70km (44 miles) west of Mariupol, at 07:00 local time (05:00 GMT) on Thursday.

    The Ukrainian military said its forces had struck a Russian vessel called the Orsk.

  • Russian ambassador says Poland blocked his embassy’s bank accounts

    Russia’s ambassador to Warsaw said today that Poland had blocked the Russian embassy’s bank accounts.

    This is on the basis that they might be used to finance terrorist activity or launder money.

    “Our accounts have been blocked by a decision of the finance ministry, and then by a decision of the Polish prosecutor,” the TASS news agency quoted Ambassador Sergey Andreev as saying on Russia’s Channel 1 state television.

    He said the reason given for the move was that “funds from our accounts could allegedly be used for laundering of illegally obtained money or for financing terrorism”.

  • Russia claims its captured city of Izyum

    Russia says it has gained control of the city of Izyum in the Kharkiv Region of eastern Ukraine, Russia’s state-owned Rossiya 24 news channel has reported.

    “The Russian armed forces continue to carry out the missions of a special military operation. By the morning of 24 March, units of the Russian army had taken full control of the town of Izyum in the Kharkiv region,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

    The Ukrainian administration of the city, however, says the fighting continues.

    “What we’re seeing today is some significant fighting there by the Ukrainians, and an effort to take it back,” the official is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

  • Johnson calls to ‘tighten economic vice’ around Putin

    The UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, says President Vladimir Putin is “plainly determined to double down on his path of violence and aggression” in Ukraine.

    The UK PM says allies have to “step up” their support for Ukraine, adding that they must “tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today as we are”.

    Johnson also said we must look at what we can do to “stop Putin using his gold reserves”.

  • Unicef: More than half of the children in Ukraine have been displaced

    Ukrainian sources claim that 128 children have died so far in the war.

    Meanwhile, Unicef have today suggested that more than half of the children in the country have already been displaced from home.

  • Western leaders to discuss tougher action on Russia 

    Western leaders are meeting in Brussels today and are due to agree to strengthen their forces in Eastern Europe and increase military aid to Ukraine.

    In Brussels, Western leaders will warn Putin his country will pay “ruinous” costs for invading Ukraine during a series of NATO, G7 and EU summits over today and tomorrow (Friday).

    “We must ensure that the decision to invade a sovereign independent country is understood to be a strategic failure that carries with it ruinous costs for Putin and Russia,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the EU parliament.

  • Russia wants to ‘isolate Ukraine from the sea’

    European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has said today that RUssia wants to ‘occupy the ground’ and ‘isolate Ukraine from the sea’.

    “Right now, Russia doesn’t want to sit and negotiate anything: what it wants is to occupy the ground,” Borrell said in an interview with Spanish TVE channel.

    “It wants to surround the coast to the border with Moldova and isolate Ukraine from the sea. It wants to negotiate in earnest only when it has secured a position of strength.”

  • Truss speaks about more Russian sanctions

    Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “These oligarchs, businesses and hired thugs are complicit in the murder of innocent civilians and it is right that they pay the price. 

    “Putin should be under no illusions – we are united with our allies and will keep tightening the screw on the Russian economy to help ensure he fails in Ukraine. 

    “There will be no let-up”.

  • More Russian businesses & individuals sanctioned

    Some 65 more sanctions have been announced by the UK this morning.

    They include the Wagner Group, which was reportedly hired to assassinate President Zelensky, and Russian Railways.

    It means that more than 1,000 Russians and individuals have now been sanctioned by the UK.

    Thee UK government has just issued a statement which reads:
    “Today’s sanctions target key industries supporting Russia’s illegal invasion, including Russian Railways and defence company Kronshtadt, the main producer of Russian drones. The Wagner Group – the organisation Russian mercenaries reportedly tasked with assassinating President Zelenskiy – has also been sanctioned.

    “Six more banks are targeted, including Alfa Bank whose cofounders include previously sanctioned oligarchs Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan. The world’s largest diamond producer Alrosa is also sanctioned.”

  • Joe Biden arrives in Brussels

    The US president has arrived at NATO HQ in Brussels ahead of a busy day for the commander-in-chief.

    Joe Biden will be part of three summits today with NATO, the EU and the G7.

  • NATO meeting now under way

    The NATO meeting is now under way at the headquarters in Brussels.

    Of attendance are Boris Johnson and Joe Biden.

    Discussions on Ukraine are taking place behind closed doors.

    Credit: Reuters
  • Explained: The biggest sanctions imposed on Russia so far

    Here’s a summary of some of the biggest sanctions imposed on Russia so far:

    • The UK, US and EU have sanctioned hundreds of members of the Russian regime, and oligarchs considered close to the Kremlin
    • The US is banning all Russian oil and gas imports
      • The UK say it will phase out Russian oil by the end of 2022
      • All Russian flights have been banned from US, UK, EU and Canadian airspace.
      • The UK has also banned private jets chartered by Russians
    • Western countries have frozen the assets Russia central bank.
      • Russia has also been suspended from the Bank for International Settlements- “the central bank for central banks”
        • Some Russian banks are also being removed from Swift – the international financial messaging system
    • The UK and EU have banned the sale of high-end luxury goods, high-end fashion and art, to Russia
  • ‘Moscow has no interest in negotiating ceasefire’

    The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell has said that Russia has no interest in negotiating a ceasefire in Ukraine for now.

    “Right now, Russia doesn’t want to sit and negotiate anything: what it wants is to occupy the ground,” Borrell told Spanish broadcaster TVE.

    “It wants to surround the coast to the border with Moldova and isolate Ukraine from the sea. It wants to negotiate in earnest only when it has secured a position of strength.”

    Borrell added the EU and its allies will keep on delivering military aid to Ukraine, saying: “It is important because everything will be decided in the next 15 days … What will make history is the capacity of Ukrainians to resist.”

  • Paying for oil & gas in roubles would be ‘helping Russians kill Ukrainians’

    Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has urged this morning European Union nations to refuse to engage with President Vladimir Putin’s request of paying for Russian oil and gas in roubles.

    He said: “If any EU country bows to Putin’s humiliating demands to pay for oil and gas in rubles, it will be like helping Ukraine with one hand and helping Russians kill Ukrainians with the other. I urge relevant countries to make a wise and responsible choice.”

  • SEVEN humanitarian corridors agreed for today

    There will be seven areas of Ukraine where humanitarian corridors will be opened up today, the country’s deputy prime minister has said.

    However, in the southern port city of Mariupol, Russia is not allowing safe passage out for civilians.

    Instead, residents are being advised to head to a nearby town. There, transport will be available – should they want to take the risk.

  • Chance of Putin being deposed in coup ‘grows every week’

    THE chances of Vladimir Putin being deposed in a coup is growing “every week” as the botched invasion of Ukraine continues, a whistleblower has claimed.

    A source within Russia’s security service the FSB has said agents are increasingly frustrated with Putin’s handling of the war.

    Citing his source, Russian journalist Vladimir Osechkin told The Times that Western sanctions were crippling the lifestyle of his country’s high-flying secret service agents who are allegedly being stopped from visiting their holiday homes or being able to “take their kids to Disneyland Paris”.

    FSB officers are paid more than the average Russian and are given an apartment by state.

    Osechin told The Times: “For 20 years Putin created stability in Russia. FSB officers, policemen, state prosecutors — those people inside the system — were able to live good lives.”

    He said Western sanctions were ruining this and adding to a collective disillusionment in the Russian leader.

    Osechkin said: “For every week and every month that this war continues, the possibility of a rebellion by those in the security services increases.”

    Read more here.

  • Boris Johnson compares Zelensky to Churchill

    Boris Johnson has compared Volodymyr Zelensky to Winston Churchill.

    The UK’s Prime Minister has praised the Ukrainian President for giving the Ukrainian people their “roar”.

    “I think that President Zelensky has proved to be a quite remarkable leader of his people – he’s rallied them and he’s been their voice,” the prime minister told LBC.

    “He knows, as Churchill said of himself, he may not have been the lion but he’s been privileged to give the roar.

    “It’s the Ukrainian people who have been the lion, and he’s expressed their will and their sense of defiance.”

  • Russia threatens West with ‘early use of nuclear weapons’

    Russia has threatened the West with early use of nuclear weapons leading to World War Three ,if NATO peacekeepers are put on the ground in Ukraine.

    Vladimir Putin’s tightly-controlled state TV went into overdrive to warn alliance leaders meeting in Brussels today against deploying any troops even acting to maintain peace.

  • Pictured: PM heads to Brussels for NATO & G7 meetings

    Speaking before his trip to Brussels this morning for NATO and G7 meetings, Boris Johnson said Vladimir Putin has “crossed a red line”.

    He said: “We need to do more, and so we need to do more economically. Can we do more to stop him using his gold reserves, for instance, in addition to his cash reserves?

    “What can we do more to sanction Swift? And then we need to do more to give the Ukrainians military support.

    “The big thing that has emerged in the last month – the huge fact that the world now knows – is that the Ukrainian people will fight for their country. They believe in their country, they love their country. They’re going to defend it.

    “That was something we didn’t really know a month ago. It’s now absolutely clear. That’s changed geopolitics. It means that we have a duty to help them. We have a duty to help them protect themselves and their loved ones. And so the UK is stepping up again.”

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson boards a plane to Brussels, Belgium to take part in a NATO summit
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson boards a plane to Brussels, Belgium to take part in a NATO summitCredit: Reuters
    The PM is set to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the NATO and G7 meeting
    The PM is set to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the NATO and G7 meetingCredit: Reuters

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