An errant Russian missile struck a Turkish-owned ship off the coast of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa in the Black Sea, our reporter Ruth Michaelson writes.
The ship, Yasa Jupiter, was flying under the flag of the Marshall Islands, and reported no casualties or injuries following the incident.
Pictures from Turkish channel NTV showed destruction on board:
The Turkish general directorate of maritime affairs said the ship issued no request for help and is now in transit to Romania.
Turkey is under increasing international pressure, particularly from Ukraine, to prevent Russian warships from passing through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which provide entry to the Black Sea.
Despite maintaining alliances with both Ukraine and Russia, the conflict in Ukraine is likely to negatively impact the Turkish economy and test Turkey’s membership of Nato. Turkey’s membership of the alliance was already under pressure following their decision to purchase Russia’s S400 missile defence system, leading to sanctions from the US.
Earlier today, Turkey’s foreign ministry condemned Russian action in Ukraine.
We find the military operation launched unacceptable, and reject it. This attack, beyond destroying the Minsk agreement, is a grave violation of law and a serious threat to the security of our region and the world. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries should be respected.
Our support for the political unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine will continue.
Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan is the first leader to meet President Putin after Moscow attacked Ukraine this morning, writes Shah Meer Baloch in Islamabad.
Khan arrived in Moscow yesterday on a two-day trip when tensions between Kyiv and Moscow were rising but Putin had not ordered a military attack on Ukraine.
Khan was given a guard of honour on his arrival in Moscow. On his arrival to Moscow, Khan said:
What a time I have come here. So much excitement.
The opposition and experts raised concerns over the visit of Imran Khan, describing it as “ill-timed”. Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center in the US said:
There is a risk that Khan’s visit to Moscow will be perceived by many in the West as an indirect endorsement of Putin’s decree on eastern Ukraine-a move that much of the world has condemned and that Pakistan itself likely does not support.
Even though Khan’s visit was planned weeks ago and focuses on bilateral relations, the timing will raise eyebrows and present some problems of optics.
Khan was in Moscow when Kyiv witnessed military attacks. Indian media, such as the Hindu and a few more media networks shared fake news that PM Imran had ended his two-day visit to Moscow after the attack on Kyiv. Pakistan denied the news.
Adil Shahzeb, a Pakistani journalist tweeted from Moscow that both Russian and Pakistani officials have denied reports that Khan has ended the visit.
There is no cancellation of the visit, PM Khan will be meeting President Putin as per schedule. Khan’s planned interaction with the media has been cancelled.
Pakistan and the US do not enjoy cordial relations and the US blames Pakistan for its dubious role in Afghanistan.
Husain Haqqani, former ambassador to the US and a scholar, told The Guardian:
Imran Khan has consistently signalled his derision for the US and the west while also seeking economic assistance. The timing of his visit to Russia will only reaffirm his anti-Western worldview.
The image of Pakistan’s prime minister next to Vladimir Putin soon after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will not endear Pakistan to Americans or western Europeans.
At 6pm local time there were huge queues of cars trying to escape Kyiv and to head west, writes Luke Harding in the Ukrainian capital.
The main road out of the city was jammed with vehicles including buses and taxis. The queue was stationary for much of the time. Drivers stood next to their vehicles, patiently waiting for the route to clear.
Over at the capital’s central train station, Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi, hundreds of passengers were seeking to leave. There were long queues for tickets and information. Several trains had been cancelled – red on the departure board – but others were functioning as normal. Many milled around with luggage but no tickets.
A group of Pakistani students from the International European university in Kyiv said they had found a taxi to take them to Lviv for $500. One said:
We’ve been here for our studies. Maybe we will stay in the west, maybe we will come back.
We can’t go to Poland because we don’t have visas.
Several families were among those trying to depart including a group with a baby in a pram, and a couple with a pet dachshund.
This vast human exodus seemed out of place in 2022 and more of a throw-back to Europe’s dark last century, all caused by the paranoid behaviour of one man.
Greece says it will begin evacuating members of its expatriate community in Mariupol, the frontline city in eastern Ukraine, Helena Smith reports from Athens.
Athens’ deputy minister in charge of diaspora affairs, Andreas Katsaniotis, said around 100 ethnic Greeks would be be transferred to safety via Romania.
Not many of our community members have as yet requested to leave but a small group, around 100 people, will leave Mariupol.
There is a plan and we are implementing it … when other countries were withdrawing their diplomats, we were reinforcing our general consulate in Mariupol.
In Odessa, Greece’s former honorary consul to Ukraine Panayiotis Bouboulouras told the Greek daily Protothema:
Unfortunately very few of us believed this would happen. The Americans said the fascist Russians had been preparing this attack for a long time but neither us, nor the Europeans, believed them.
Greece, alone among EU states, has a large expatriate community in Ukraine and is closely watching events there. Although spread across the country, most of the estimated 120,000 strong minority live in the coastal city of Mariupol close to the frontline.
Bouboukouras who presides over Ukraine’s federation of ethnic Greek businessmen, said many were either trying to flee Kiev or the country. Katerina Svefkenko, who heads the association of Greeks in Kharkiv, in Ukraine’s northeast, said inhabitants had heard a barrage of explosions. “In the 40 years that I have lived here I have never experienced anything like it,” she said.
Greece traditionally has strong ties with fellow Orthodox Russia but from the outset has firmly come out on the side of its fellow EU and Nato partners blasting Putin for violating international law by staging the attack.
In an excoriating statement the Greek foreign ministry said it “unequivocally condemns” the Russian attack which “undermines European peace and security.”
Russia’s ambassador to Athens had been called in for explanation, diplomats said.
Russia’s invasion risks a “health emergency” in Ukraine and “a humanitarian catastrophe in Europe”, the World Health Organisation has warned, writes the Guardian’s health policy editor Denis Campbell.
In a statement the WHO’s regional office for Europe also urged combatants to ensure that health workers and hospitals were not targeted, though its plea came after reports that a Russian shell had already struck a hospital in Vuhledar in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
Amid the conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, the WHO regional office for Europe reiterates its deepest concern for the safety, health and wellbeing of all civilians impacted by the crisis in the country and possibly beyond.
It added that, through its country office in Ukraine, the WHO’s European section “continues to deliver much-needed support on urgent health issues, particularly in the face of an ongoing polio outbreak and the long-running Covid-19 response”.
The right to health and access to services must always be protected, not least during times of crises. Health workers, hospitals and other facilities must never be a target and be allowed to continue to serve the health needs of communities.
Separately, the World Medical Association, which represents doctors’ organisations globally, also demanded that Russia does not attack health facilities.
The World Medical Association deplores the unprecedented aggression in Ukraine by the Russian leadership. It calls on Russian leaders to respect the work of doctors and nurses in the country and the neutrality of health care institutions.