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LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he had offered Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his family refuge in the United Kingdom amid Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.

Johnson told the Sunday Times that Zelenskyy has regular conversations with him and is an “absolutely charming guy but he’s also proved to be an inspiration.”

According to the British prime minister, the possibility of Zelenskyy and his family getting refuge in the UK had been discussed, but “Volodymyr has always been clear, his duty is to the Ukrainian people; he’s going to stay there, he’s going to look after them. I have to say I admire him. “

In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against the Kyiv forces. Russia said that the aim of its special operation is to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine and that only military infrastructure is being targeted – the civilian population is not in danger. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the goal is to protect the people of Donbas, “who have been subjected to abuse, genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years.”

In response to Russia’s operation, Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow, which includes airspace closures and restrictive measures targeting numerous Russian officials and entities, media, and financial institutions.

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) has stopped the activity of a number of political parties, including the Opposition Platform – For Life, for the period of martial law in the country, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

“The NSDC decided, given the full-scale war and the ties of some political structures with this state, to suspend any activity of a number of political parties for the period of martial law. Namely: ‘Opposition Platform – For life’; ‘ Party of Shariy ‘;’ Nashi ‘;’ Opposition Bloc ‘; the left opposition party;’ Union of Leftists’; ‘Derzhava’; ‘Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine’; ‘Socialist Party of Ukraine’; the Socialists; the Volodymyr Saldo Bloc, “Zelenskyy said as quoted by the UNIAN Ukrainian news agency.

The Ukrainian justice ministry was instructed to take measures to immediately stop the activities of these political forces, according to UNIAN.

Earlier this month, a Ukrainian court allowed the arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, the chairman of the political council of the Opposition Platform – For Life party.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian media reported that the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, had approved the extension of martial law in the country until late April (for 30 days starting from March 26).

In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against the Kyiv forces. Russia said that the aim of its special operation is to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine and that only military infrastructure is being targeted – the civilian population is not in danger. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.

Australia is allocating an additional USD 15.5 million in military aid to Kyiv and will also provide Ukraine with USD 22 million in emergency humanitarian assistance, the Australian government said on Sunday.

“Following discussions between the Prime Minister [Scott Morrison] and the Minister for Defense [Peter Dutton] and their Ukrainian counterparts, it is clear that Ukraine’s need for military assistance remains urgent and ongoing. In response, Defense has developed an additional USD 21 million [about 15.5 USD] support package of defensive military assistance for Ukrainian Armed Forces, which will bring Australia’s total military assistance so far to USD 91 million, “the Australian government said in a statement, released by the country’s foreign ministry.

According to the release, the military aid will include “additional material from Australian Defense Force stocks.”

Australia is also providing Kyiv with additional humanitarian aid, the Australian government said.

“Today, the Morrison Government commits to an additional AUD 30 million [22.2 USD] in emergency humanitarian assistance. This contribution will focus on protecting women, children, the elderly and the disabled, and takes the total we have so far committed to AUD 65 million, “the government statement says.

Australia is also allocating funds through non-government organizations under the Australian Humanitarian Partnership, as well as the United Nations Population Fund and the World Food Program, to support civilians in Ukraine.

In the early hours of February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against the Kyiv forces. Russia said that the aim of its special operation is to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine and that only military infrastructure is being targeted – the civilian population is not in danger. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it has no plans to occupy Ukraine.

Thousands of Mariupol residents who managed to escape from Russian bombs are starving to death in occupied Manhushi and Melekin.

The Head of Donetsk Military-Civil Administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko claimed on Sunday said that the Russian occupying forces are refusing to provide food, water and safe passage.

“Head of Donetsk Military-Civil Administration, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said thousands of Mariupol residents who managed to escape from Russian bombs are starving to death in occupied Manhushi and Melekin. Russian occupying forces refuse to provide food, water and safe passage,” tweeted The passage Kyiv Independent.

The besieged city of Mariupol is under almost constant bombardment, according to a major in Ukraine’s army, and residents are rationing food and water as bodies are left in the streets.

There are also conflicting reports over the status of one of Ukraine’s key industrial facilities, the Azov steel plant, in Mariupol.

New satellite imagery shows the destruction of the city’s bombed theater, with the word “children” clearly visible on the outside of the building, reported CNN.

Meanwhile, the Mariupol City Council claimed that residents of Mariupol, Ukraine, are being taken to Russian territory against their will by Russian forces.

“Over the past week, several thousand Mariupol residents have been taken to Russian territory. The occupiers illegally took people from the Livoberezhny district and from the shelter in the sports club building, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from the constant bombing, “read a statement from the Mariupol City Council.

Captured Mariupol residents were taken to camps where Russian forces checked their phones and documents, the city council said, and then were redirected to remote Russian cities.

The statement quoted Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boichenko, who said, “What the occupiers are doing today is familiar to the older generation, who saw the horrific events of World War II, when the Nazis forcibly captured people.”

“It is hard to imagine that in the 21st-century people can be forcibly taken to another country,” he added.

Further, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as violating international law that bans the use of force and undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Eastern European country, reported Kyodo News.

The ministers agreed to closely cooperate in maintaining the international order, Hayashi said at a joint press conference with Cavusoglu after their talks in Antalya, southwestern Turkey, demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin halt the illegal acts in Ukraine.

“It is important that the international community respond to Russia in unison,” Hayashi said.

The meeting came as Tokyo has been ramping up pressure on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine through economic sanctions in lockstep with the United States and other members of the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

Turkey, however, has opposed sanctions against Russia, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called Moscow’s aggression in its neighbor “unacceptable.”

Hayashi is on a four-day, two-nation tour through Monday that will also take him to the United Arab Emirates where he plans to meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Sunday, according to the Foreign Ministry.

In the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Japan has been stepping up diplomacy, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visiting India and Cambodia this weekend for meetings with their leaders, reported Kyodo News.

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