Russia continues to intensify its offensive, especially in the south where Russian forces have advanced, while seizing the main cities. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko claimed that several civilians have been killed due to the continuous Russian shelling in the residential areas of the south-eastern port city. On the morning of 02 March, a missile attack hit a police headquarters in Kharkiv, where the regional governor said at least 21 people had been killed and 112 wounded in the past 24 hours. Moreover, the Russian Defence Ministry stated that the forces of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR/LPR), supported by Russian troops, took control of several settlements in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine. Two airstrikes targeted the city of Irpin, Kyiv Oblast, with missiles hitting residential buildings. The gas pipeline in the city remains damaged.
On 02 March afternoon, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko urged all residents to stay indoors and prepare to defend the city as Russian troops moved closer to Kyiv. Two major explosions were recorded in the city centre, followed by two more near a metro station. An air strike also hit Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station during the night of 02 March. The blast damaged a central heating supply, leaving parts of the city without heat. Explosions continue to be reported in Kiev in the early hours of this morning. Intelligence reports have indicated that 13 Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs), roughly 10,000 troops are placed north and northeast of Kyiv to enter if a breech emerges.
Although Russia has claimed to have seized the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, there are conflicting reports, with Mayor Igor Kolykhayev claiming that the city has been surrounded by Russian forces but remains under Ukrainian control. Russian air strikes were also reported in Zhytomyr oblast on 02 March.
The Russian military announced yesterday that it would not block civilians seeking to leave several Ukrainian cities. In Mariupol, civilians can travel east on the Mariupol – Shirokino road. In Kyiv, civilians can leave the city in the direction of Vasilkov, while a security corridor has been established south-west of Kharkiv in the direction of Lubotin. As of 02 March, 1,083,583 refugees have escaped from Ukraine to other countries within Europe.
On 2 March, four Russian fighter aircraft violated Swedish airspace east of Gotland. The Swedish air force conducted an operation with JAS 39 Gripen aircraft of the rapid readiness unit, which documented the incident. While Russian incursions into the Nordic airspace is regular, the incident was given extra scrutiny given Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine.
The EU approved on 02 March new sanctions against Belarus for its facilitation and likely direct involvement in the invasion of Ukraine. Although full details have not yet been published, they will target more Belarusian officials and military personnel involved, as well as banning the export of EU machinery to Belarus. The EU has also officially cut off seven Russian banks from SWIFT on 02 March. However, Russia’s largest banks, Gazprombank and Sberbank, have not yet been targeted, most likely due to the EU’s need to continue paying for Russian oil and gas imports. As a result of the sanctions, the rouble has plummeted by more than 30 percent.
All of these developments are continually monitored by our international desk and are discussed with several of our clients on a daily basis. We continue to collect information from local contacts and open sources.