The latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war:
ISTANBUL – Pegasus Airlines, a Turkey-based budget carrier, has suspended flights to and from Russia following sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the airline announced late Thursday.
The company’s operations “related to insurance/reinsurance, leasing, operations and maintenance services on flights” would be halted from Sunday to March 27, it said.
The airline said the suspension was linked to “operational risks” due to European Union sanctions. The EU, Britain, Canada and the US have suspended flights to Russia and closed their airspace to Russian aircraft as part of sanctions.
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Pegasus flies to six destinations in Russia, which still has air links to countries such as Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Turkish Airlines maintains its flights to 36 cities in Russia.
LONDON — British defense officials say Russia is rearranging its forces on the ground in Ukraine in an attempt to push forward its struggling invasion plan.
The Ministry of Defense says that “Russia is likely seeking to reset and re-posture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days. This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv.”
In an update on social media Friday, the ministry said Russian ground forces continued to make “limited progress,” hampered by logistic problems and strong Ukrainian resistance.
It said it “remains highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved the objectives outlined in its pre-invasion plan.”
LVIV, Ukraine — Two Ukrainian servicemen were killed and six people wounded in Russian airstrikes Friday on the Lutsk military airfield, according to the head of the surrounding Volyn region, Yuriy Pohulyayko.
The mayor of Ivano-Frankiivsk, Ruslan Martsinkiv, had ordered residents in the neighboring areas to head to shelters after an air raid alert. The mayor of Lutsk had also announced an airstrike near the airport.
The strikes were far to the west from the main Russian offensive and could indicate new direction of the war.
The western cities hit Friday are between 130 and 150 kilometers (80-90 miles) from Lviv, the city that has become a refuge for Ukrainians from across the rest of the country and a hub for global humanitarian aid and other support for Ukraine.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities announced plans for several evacuation and humanitarian aid delivery routes Friday, with the support of the Red Cross.
The top priority remained freeing people from the besieged city of Mariupol and getting aid to its hungry, thirsty, freezing and terrified population.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a video message that Ukrainian authorities are trying yet again Friday to send aid into Mariupol and bring evacuees out to the city of Zaporizhzhia. Repeated previous attempts have failed, as aid and rescue convoys were targeted by Russian shelling.
Vereshchuk said buses would be sent Friday to multiple Kyiv suburbs to bring people to the capital, and to bring aid to those staying behind.
She also announced efforts to create new humanitarian corridors to bring aid to people in areas occupied or under Russian attack around the cities of Kherson in the south, Chernihiv in the north and Kharkiv in the east.
LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces are continuing their offensive toward Kyiv on Friday from the northwest and east, notably trying to break through Ukrainian defenses from Kukhari, 90 kilometers (56 miles) to the northwest through to Demidov, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Kyiv, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement.
The general staff said Russian troops had been halted in efforts to take the northern city of Chernihiv, notably by Ukraine’s re-taking of the town of Baklanova Muraviika, which Russian troops could use to move toward Kyiv.
Russian forces are blockading Kharkiv and pushing their offensive in the south around Mykolaiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown.
Rough weather on the Azov and Black Seas has stalled Russian ships’ efforts to come ashore, the general staff said.
Three Russian airstrikes hit the important industrial city of Dnipro in eastern Ukraine on Friday, killing at least one person in strikes that hit near a kindergarten and apartment buildings, according to Interior Ministry advisor Anton Herashchenko.
One strike hit a shoe factory, sparking a fire, he said. He released video showing flashes about residential areas of the city, home to nearly 1 million people.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will announce Friday that, along with the European Union and the Group of Seven countries, the US will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
That’s according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the announcement.
Biden’s move comes as bipartisan pressure has been building in Washington to revoke what is formally known as “permanent normal trade relations” with Russia.
The move would allow the US and allies to impose tariffs on Russian imports.
Associated Press Writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON — The US Senate has given final congressional approval to a $13.6 billion emergency package of military and humanitarian aid for besieged Ukraine and its European allies.
The measure passed with a 68-31 bipartisan margin.
The House easily passed the compromise bill on Wednesday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it.
Around half the $13.6 billion measure was for arming and equipping Ukraine and the Pentagon’s costs for sending US troops to other Eastern European nations skittish about the warfare next door. Much of the rest included humanitarian and economic assistance, strengthening regional alliances’ defenses and protecting their energy supplies and cybersecurity needs.
Democrats and Republicans have battled this election year over rising inflation, energy policy and lingering pandemic restrictions. But they’ve rallied behind sending aid to Ukraine, whose stubborn resilience against Russia has been inspirational for many voters.
BEIJING — China’s Premier Li Keqiang on Friday called the situation in Ukraine “grave” and offered Beijing’s help in playing a “positive role” for peace while continuing to refuse to criticize Russia.
China has largely sided with Russia, refusing to refer to its actions in Ukraine as a war or invasion. Chinese officials and state media have parroted Russian claims while Beijing calls itself neutral and defending national sovereignty above all else.
“We support and encourage all efforts that are conductive to a peaceful settlement of the crisis,” Li told reporters at an annual news conference.
“The pressing task now is to prevent tension from escalating or even getting out of control,” Li said. “China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis.”
Li spoke following the close of the annual session of China’s rubber-stamp legislature.
Russia’s war in Ukraine was not openly discussed at the meeting, although it echoes in Beijing’s approach to Taiwan — the self-governing island democracy China claims as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary.
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