Live updates: How Russia’s assault on Ukraine affects Middle East

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have an impact beyond Europe. Follow along for the latest updates affecting the Mideast region.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the largest state-on-state conflict Europe has seen since World War II. But the war’s effects are not limited to the continent.

Middle Eastern states have deep ties with both sides in trade, tourism and defense. While North African countries like Egypt and Libya have military ties with Moscow, they also rely on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products. Russia’s leveraging of natural gas in the conflict and the war’s effect on oil prices has also has turned the spotlight on Arab Gulf states.

Turkey lies at the geographic center of the conflict as calls from Kyiv grow for Ankara to close the straits to the Black Sea to Russia’s navy.

Follow along with the latest updates affecting the region:

6:39 a.m., Mar. 1: UAE Crown Prince and Putin discuss oil prices ahead of Wednesday’s OPEC summit

Russia's President Vladimir Putin spoke with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and chief of the United Arab Emirates' armed forces, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan [MBS] by phone on Tuesday.
Putin gave the crown prince "a detailed account of the reasons, goals and targets of the Russian special operation protecting Donbas," according to a Kremlin statement. 
MBZ "stated the right of Russia to ensure its own national security," according to the Kremlin.
The two also discussed cooperation "in the interests of supporting stability in the global energy market," per the statement. The UAE has not released a statement on the call.
A meeting of OPEC-plus, which includes Russia, is set for Wednesday. Western countries have urged the oil-producing bloc to increase output amid the war.

2:00 a.m., Mar. 1: Israel sends third planeload of humanitarian aid for Ukraine; Bennett says caution has enabled help

Israel has sent 100 tons of humanitarian aid, including 17 tons of medical supplies, for Ukraine over the past week.
Today's shipment headed for Warsaw will be delivered to the Ukrainian border by Israeli personnel.
Israel’s cautious messaging over Russia's war on Ukraine has allowed Jerusalem to help in other ways, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“From the first moment, Israel took a measured, responsible stance that allowed us not only to protect our interests, but to be useful,” Bennett said in a speech at Mossad headquarters.
Israel is home to thousands of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians and has sought to strike a middle ground as the conflict enters its sixth day.
Israel benefits from the Russian military's acquiescence to allow Israel to attack Iranian targets inside Syria.

Mar. 1: Ukraine’s Zelensky gets standing ovation in European Parliament as he vows to fight for freedom

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional appeal to the European Parliament today saying his country was fighting for Europe's freedom.
Zelensky accused Russia of terrorism over its attack on the second-largest city Kharkiv, where Russian forces fired missiles at the city's main Freedom square.
"We demand Russia be recognized as a terrorist state," Zelensky said. "Nobody can break us, because we are Ukrainians," he added.

"Nobody will break us, because we are Ukrainians"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells the European Parliament: "We are fighting for our rights, for our freedom, for our lives, and now we are fighting for our survival"https://t.co/CnAsVRPl7z pic.twitter.com/QkSOZWaDDK
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) March 1, 2022

Mar. 1: Global shipping giant Maersk suspends trade with Russia

Maersk confirmed its decision to suspend deliveries amid a torrent of sanctions being imposed against Russia in a bid to put a stop to the conflict currently underway in Ukraine.
In a statement released today, March 1, the shipping line explained the suspension would cover all Russian ports, though does not include foodstuffs, medical and humanitarian supplies, Reuters reported.

Mar. 1: First group of Crimean Tatars arrives in Turkey

Some 45 Crimean Tatars arrived in Turkey's Edirne province from Bulgaria Tuesday after a four-day overland journey from Kyiv, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkey has deep historical and cultural ties with its ethnic kin from Crimea, providing financial and political support which increased following Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014.
Turkey calls the annexation illegal.

Mar. 1: Ukraine’s Zelensky to address European Parliament

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is due to address an extraordinary session of the European Parliament Tuesday, the Euro body's President Roberta Metsola said.
Zelensky is due to speak after the assembly convenes to discuss Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, Zelenksy formally applied for membership in the European Union, saying its bid should be "accepted immediately."

The @Europarl_EN #EPlenary meets at 12:30 to discuss Russian invasion of #Ukraine.

President @ZelenskyyUa & Speaker @r_stefanchuk will join & speak to the world.

MEPs will also hear from @eucopresident @CharlesMichel, @EU_Commission President @vonderleyen & HRVP @JosepBorrellF pic.twitter.com/vWt3Mj9nGm
— Roberta Metsola (@EP_President) March 1, 2022

Mar. 1: Lebanese foreign minister meets Russian ambassador

The Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Abdullah Bou Habib met with the Russian ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Rudakov. Bou Habib described the meeting as "good and friendly."
A statement by the Lebanese foreign ministry was issued on Thursday condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for an immediate half of military operations and a return to dialogue.
Rudakov had previously stated that Moscow's relations with Beirut will not be affected.

Mar. 1: YouTube to block channels linked to Russian state-run media

YouTube will be blocking Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik effective immediately due to the crisis in Ukraine, the company's parent, Google announced Tuesday, Reuters reported.
The move follows similar actions by Facebook parent, Meta Platforms and Twitter. Twitter has started to label tweets containing content from Russian state-run media.
The online streaming giant, Neftlix announced that it would not carry Russian propaganda channels.
Disney, Warner Bros & Sony said it would halt movie releases in Russia due to its offensive against Ukraine.

Mar. 1: UK rules out no-fly zone for Ukraine

UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said the international community had decided against operating a no-fly zone over Ukraine in an interview with BBC's Radio 4.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly urged Western nations to declare a no-fly zone over his country as Russia intensifies its attacks.
Raab maintained that "putting UK forces in a position where they will be directly required to shoot down Russian planes" would "feed Putin's narrative."

Mar. 1: Ukraine foreign minister asks for more arms in call with Blinken

Ukraine's foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba said he spoke to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken early Tuesday, asking the US diplomat for further weapons and sanctions.
Kuleba said Blinken had agreed to act on both.     

In our call, @SecBlinken affirmed that the U.S. support for Ukraine remains unfaltering. I underscored that Ukraine craves for peace, but as long as we are under Russia’s assault we need more sanctions and weapons. Secretary assured me of both. We coordinated further steps.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 28, 2022

Mar. 1: Iran’s Supreme Leader blames United States for Ukraine war

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatolllah Ali Khamenei asserted Tuesday that the United States was "the root cause" for the conflict in Ukraine, IRNA reports.
Speaking on the occasion of Eid al-Mab'ath marking the investiture of the Prophet Mohammed by God, Khamenei said Iran was against "war and destruction anywhere in the world and do not agree with killing people and destroying infrastructure." He made no mention of Iran's ally, Russia which started the war.

05:44 a.m., Mar. 1: Russia closes in on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv with massive force

A miles-long military convoy was moving in on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early Tuesday amid mounting casualties among Ukrainian forces, the BBC reports
At least 70 Ukrainian soldiers were reported killed in a Russian artillery attack on Okhtrya between Kyiv and Kharkiv further east. Earlier Russia launched multiple missile attacks on Kharkiv hitting the city square and causing civilian deaths.
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky called the attack "a war crime."

2:27 p.m., Feb. 28: Turkey warns countries not to pass warships through Turkish straits

"We warned all countries, both littoral and non-littoral [to the Black Sea], not to pass their warships through the straits," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said today.
Cavusoglu added that Ankara has the right to deny warships passage into the Black Sea during wartime, but said his government had received no such requests for entry since the start of the war.
"The Russians have been asking us whether we were going to enforce the Montreux or not if need be. In response we have been telling them that we would strictly enforce the treaty," he said.
"We implemented what Montreux says, and we will do so from now on," he said.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said today that Russian warships are still located in the Black Sea.

1:52 p.m., Feb. 28: Top US diplomat thanks Turkey for ‘continued implementation’ of Montreux Convention

US top diplomat Antony Blinken thanked his Turkish counterpart for "continued implementation of the Montreux Convention" in a phone call today, according to a State Department press release.
"We are determined to use the authority given to our country by the Montreux Convention regarding the ship traffic in the straits in a way that will prevent the crisis from escalating," Turkey's President Erdogan said earlier today, offering no further clarity.

11:56 a.m., Feb. 28: First round of Ukraine-Russia talks ends, no ceasefire

The first round of talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations ended without a clear result on Monday.
Both delegations will return to their respective capitals before convening for a second round of talks, Kyiv negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said.

11:23 a.m., Feb. 28: White House says no-fly zone over Ukraine ‘not a good idea,’ risks escalation

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed recent suggestions from some lawmakers that the US establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying, "We are not going to have a military war with Russia with US troops."

There's been a lot of loose talk from smart people about "close air support" and "no fly zones" for Ukraine.

Let's just be clear what that is - the U.S. and Russia at war. It's a bad idea and Congress would never authorize it.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 28, 2022

11:17 a.m., Feb. 28: Israeli man in Ukraine killed, another taken prisoner

An Israeli citizen was killed when a vehicle he was traveling in came under fire by Ukrainian forces on Monday, according to multiple reports.
Roman Brodsky, 37, and another man in the car were attempting to flee to Moldova from Kyiv when they were mistaken for Chechens at a Ukrainian checkpoint, according to Israel's Channel 11.
Separately, a 51-year-old Israeli-Ukranian is believed to have been taken prisoner when Russia's navy towed a Ukrainian cargo ship he was aboard.

8:39 a.m., Feb. 28: Arab League issues statement of concern Russia-Ukraine war

The Arab League issued a statement of concern calling for restraint, respect for international law and dialogue in response to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.
With the exception of Lebanon, most Arab states have shied away from condemning Russia's actions in the conflict.
Many Arab countries are heavily reliant on wheat imported from Russia and Ukraine. Any shortages could potentially cause unrest.

بيان الجامعة العربية حول الأزمة الاوكرانية الموقع من 22 دولة عربية يدعو لضبط النفس وتخفيف حدة التوتر وعودة الحياة إلى مجراها الطبيعي pic.twitter.com/FzBz2JC42g
— Abdulkhaleq Abdulla (@Abdulkhaleq_UAE) February 28, 2022

Feb. 28: Ecumenical Patriarch visits Ukrainian consulate in Istanbul

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians, visited the Ukrainian Consulate in Istanbul today, in an apparent show of solidarity with Kyiv, Turkish media reported.
The visit came after a phone conversation between the Ecumenical Patriarch and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday. Zelensky thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch on Twitter for his support. 
In 2019, Bartholomew officially granted independence to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, endorsing Ukraine’s decision to split from the Russian Orthodox Church.

5:50 a.m., Feb. 28: Ukraine-Russia talks kick off near Belarus border

Ukrainian and Russian delegations began their first round of talks at the Ukraine-Belarus border as the war enters its fifth day, CNN International reported.
Ukraine has demanded an “immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops” in the run-up to the negotiations.

5:40 a.m., Feb. 28: Qatar says Ukraine’s territorial integrity should be preserved

Top Qatari diplomat Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani called for a diplomatic settlement to the Ukrainian conflict. 
In a recorded speech to the meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva today, the Qatari Foreign Minister said Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized boundaries should be preserved, Reuters reported.

Feb. 28: UN says more than 500,000 people fled Ukraine

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Monday that the number of people who have fled Ukraine has exceeded half a million since Feb. 24 after Russia’s multi-pronged assault on Ukraine.
Refugees have been crossing borders into neighboring countries including Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia.

More than 500,000 refugees have now fled from Ukraine into neighbouring countries.
— Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) February 28, 2022

Feb. 28: Middle East markets fall amid Russia-Ukraine war

Major Gulf bourses fell in reaction to the sanctions imposed on Russia, as the rouble plunged by 30% to a record low.
Crude oil prices rose above $100 a barrel.

Feb. 28: Turkey’s defense chief speaks with Ukrainian counterpart

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov that Ankara would continue working for peace in the region
Turkey will keep providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Akar added.

6:36 a.m., Feb. 28: Israel to co-sponsor UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion

Israel will co-sponsor and vote for a resolution at the UN condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said today.

4:34 a.m., Feb. 28: Yemen’s government evacuates 22 citizens from Ukraine

Yemen's foreign ministry announced this morning that its embassy in Warsaw facilitated the escape of 18 Yemeni citizens from Ukraine to Poland and four others into Romania.

Feb. 28: The Ukrainian delegation arrives at area where talks with Russia will be held

The Ukrainian Presidency announced Monday that the Ukrainian delegation arrived at the area along the Ukrainian-Belarusian border where talks with Russia will take place, the CNN International reported.
According to the presidency’s statement, the delegation is headed by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

3:22 a.m., Feb. 28: Russia sharply hikes interest rates amid rouble crash

Russia's Central Bank on Monday hiked key interest rates from 9.5% to 20% in a bid to offset the impact of harsh western sanctions.
The move comes after the Russian rouble took an over 40% nosedive on Monday amid unprecedented western sanctions slapped on several Russian nationals and government bodies in retaliation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

4:05 p.m., Feb. 27: Saudi Arabia expresses commitment to OPEC+ alliance with Russia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confirmed Saudi Arabia’s "commitment" to the agreement between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia today. Salman expressed the kingdom’s commitment to the so-called OPEC+ alliance in a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, the state-run Saudi Press Agency tweeted. 
OPEC and Russia meet periodically to discuss global oil production and supplies in an effort to control prices. Oil prices shot above $100 for the first time since 2014 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

كما جرى خلال الاتصال بحث الأوضاع في أوكرانيا ومناقشة أثر الأزمة على أسواق الطاقة، وفي هذا الصدد، أكد سمو #ولي_العهد حرص المملكة على استقرار وتوازن أسواق البترول والتزام المملكة باتفاق (أوبك بلس).#واس
— واس الأخبار الملكية (@spagov) February 27, 2022

4:04 p.m., Feb. 27: France’s Macron discusses energy prices with Saudi crown prince

France's President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the effect of Russia's war in Ukraine on global energy prices today, Saudi state news reported.
The US previously urged Riyadh to increase oil production to moderate to price increases amid the crisis.

12:29 p.m., Feb. 27: Turkish foreign minister speaks to Russian counterpart on phone

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov by phone today. The two discussed a potential cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine and the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. 
Cavusoglu also had phone calls with his Ukrainian, Estonian and Dutch counterparts about the conflict in Ukraine, according to Anadolu. 

9:38 a.m., Feb. 27: Turkey to implement Montreux convention on straits to Black Sea – Cavusoglu

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his government considers Russia's invasion of Ukraine to be a "war" and thus Ankara will implement "all measures of [the] Montreux Convention in a transparent manner."
The statement suggests Turkey is preparing to bar additional Russian naval ships from entering the Black Sea, but the convention would allow for Russian ships already there to navigate outwards toward the Mediterranean.

Feb. 27: Ukrainians in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region protest Russian invasion

Dozens of Ukrainians protested in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq today against the Russian attack on their country.
The protesters gathered outside the United Nations compound in Erbil, waving Ukrainian flags and holding signs reading “no Putin, no war,” the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw reported. 

8:36 a.m., Feb. 27: Zelensky agrees to send delegation to Belarus border for talks with Russia

Ukraine's president agreed in a phone call with Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko that Kyiv would send a delegation to the Belarusian border on the Pripyat River for negotiations "without preconditions" with Russia, Zelensky's office said in a statement posted on Telegram.
The Belarusian president "has taken responsibility for ensuring that all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory remain on the groud during the Ukrainian delegation's travel, talks and return," Zelensky's statement read.
Earlier today Ukrainian leadership rejected a Russian proposal for talks to be held in Belarus.

8:10 a.m., Feb. 27: Putin orders Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert

Putin upped the ante on Sunday morning, ordering Russia's deterrence forces – which include nuclear weapons – to be placed on high alert.
"Top officials in leading NATO countries have allowed themselves to make aggressive comments about our country, therefore I hereby order the minister of defense and the chief of the general staff to place the Russian Army Deterrence Force on combat alert," Putin said in a televised meeting with top generals.

Feb. 27: Moscow envoy: relations with Lebanon not affected over foreign ministry’s statement

Russian Ambassador to Beirut, Alexander Rudakov, said during a news conference in Beirut on Sunday, that Moscow's relations with Beirut will not be affected by Lebanon's condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 
"In the difficult times, we can see those who stood with us and those who didn't," he added.
A statement by the Lebanese foreign ministry was issued on Thursday condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calling for an immediate half of military operations and a return to dialogue.
Meanwhile, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun, called for dialogue to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict, in an interview with the Asas Media news website.

Feb. 27: Israel’s Bennett proposes to mediate over Ukraine in call with Russia’s Putin

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposed that Israel serve as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli media reported, citing a Kremlin readout of the call. The phone call, the first since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, lasted 45 minutes. 
Bennett had earlier declined to comment on whether the Jewish state would take up Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky's call to act as a mediator and has yet to formally comment.
Russia wants the talks to take place in Belarus, but Zelensky has refused saying he is willing to hold talks in Istanbul, Budapest, Warsaw or Baku.

Feb. 27: Erdogan to convene cabinet Monday over Ukraine crisis

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will convene members of his cabinet to assess the latest developments in Ukraine, Turkey's state-run broadcaster TRT reported. 
Turkey is among Ukraine's top allies and has sold the country's combat drones now being deployed in the fight to repel Russian forces. 
Turkey also has deep if complex ties with its traditional enemy Russia and has offered to mediate between the two sides. Turkey has so far sought to strike a balance, condemning the Russian invasion but abstaining from crushing sanctions being imposed by the United States and Europe.

Feb. 27: Kremlin says Israel offers to mediate on Ukraine

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed that Ukraine had selected the Belarusian city of Gomel as a venue for the talks. The Russian delegation, headed by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky, will wait until 15:00 (local time) to agree on the meeting, the TASS news agency reported
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett declined to confirm a mediating role following a cabinet meeting Sunday. 
Ukraine's President Volodymr Zelensky has been pressing for talks with Russia but has ruled out meeting in Belarus which is allied with Russia in its war against Ukraine. Zelensky said he would be prepared to meet with the Russians in either Istanbul, Warsaw, Baku or Budapest.

Feb. 27: Egypt’s Al-Azhar calls for dialogue between Russia and Ukraine

Egypt's Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the preeminent seat of Sunni Muslim scholarship worldwide, appealed to Russia and Ukraine to resolve their differences through dialogue. 
"I urge Russia and Ukraine to refer to the voice of reason," Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, said in a statement, Turkey's state-run Anadolu News Agency reported. "Wars will only bring destruction and hatred to our world," the sheikh added. Turkey's own top religious authority, the state-run Directorate for Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, and its president, have remained mum on the issue so far.

Feb. 27: UN says almost 370,000 people have fled Ukraine

The UN's High Commission for Refugees said Sunday more than 368,000 people had fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
Most have been crossing into Poland, some 158,000 at the last count. Others have made their way to neighboring Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, Hungary and Romania. They include thousands of foreign nationals, including many students from across the Middle East. 
The UN body warned that as many as four million people might be displaced by the conflict.

Feb. 27: Ukraine takes Russia to International Court of Justice

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky announced via Twitter that his government was taking the Russian Federation to the Hague-based body. “Ukraine has submitted its application against Russia to the ICJ. Russia must be held accountable for manipulating the notion of genocide to justify aggression,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter.
“We request an urgent decision ordering Russia to cease military activity now and expect trials to start next week,” he added.
As the war enters its fourth day, reliable figures for the civilian toll remain elusive. Ukraine's Health Care Minister Viktor Liashko said 198 Ukrainian had been killed as of early Saturday. They included three children, he said.

Feb. 27: SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk gives Ukraine a virtual hand

Space X founder Elon Musk has activated Starlink, his commercial internet system in Ukraine. 
Musk said "more terminals are en route," via Twitter. Musk was responding to a plea by Ukraine's First Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, as Ukrainian forces seek to defend their country against sustained Russian cyberattacks.

Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 26, 2022

Feb. 27: Israel remains skittish on Ukraine’s calls to mediate with Russia

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said his government was "proceeding with moderation and responsibility" on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Speaking after a cabinet meeting Sunday, Bennett said Israel was sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine. 
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, told Israel's Channel 12 TV that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's request for Israeli mediation was being weighed but declined further comment.
Zelensky, a former comedian, became modern Ukraine's first ever Jewish president in a landslide election in April 2019. One of Ukraine's Chief Rabbi's Yaakov Bleich said Sunday that Zelensky had called him and "requested that every Jew in Ukraine pray for the safety of each person in Ukraine and the end to the Russian invasion of the country," the Jerusalem Post reported.

Feb. 27: Judo fan Putin gets booted out of International Judo Federation

The Budapest-based body announced that it had suspended Russian President Vladimir Putin's status as its Honorary President and Ambassador. 
Putin, an avid judo player, received his black belt when he was 18. Condemnation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reverberated across the sports world with top athletes showing their support for Ukraine. 
FC Chelsea owner and Putin ally, Roman Abramovich, stepped down as the British premier division club's custodian on Feb. 26 in an apparent move to avoid seizure of the club's assets as the UK threatens further sanctions against Russian individuals.

Feb. 27: Turkish presidential spokesman renews calls for Russia to cease hostilities, calls attacks on Ukraine “a war”

Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin’s depiction of Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an "unlawful war" may signal a shift in Turkey's position. 
Turkey said it was assessing whether Russia's multi-pronged attack on Ukraine could be defined as a war in relation to the Montreux Convention which governs free passage through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits. 
Ukraine has asked Ankara to close the Straits to Russian war ships transiting in and out of the Black Sea. 
In Feb. 25 comments, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that relevant provisions of the 1936 Convention would be applicable if the current hostilities between Russia and Ukraine were seen as "war." However, Cavusoglu noted that even if this were to be the case, Turkey would continue to allow Russian warships to return to their bases.

On the fourth day of the Ukraine war, we repeat President Erdoğan’s call for an immediate halt of Russian attacks and the start of ceasefire negotiations.

We will continue our efforts to help the people of Ukraine and end bloodshed in this unjust and unlawful war.

— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) February 27, 2022

Feb. 27: UK Foreign Secretary says it’s OK for British nationals to join Ukraine’s fight against Russia

Asked if she would support people traveling to Ukraine to help the fight, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss replied “Absolutely, if that’s what they wanted to do.” 
Truss' comments to the BBC's Sunday Morning show contrasted with the UK's position on British nationals volunteering to fight alongside Syrian Kurds against the Islamic State. Aidan James, a Briton who fought against the jihadis, was convicted in 2019 for "attending a place used for terrorist training."

Feb. 27: Israel to send more aid to Ukraine

Israel plans to send 100 tons of medical aid and other equipment to help Ukrainian civilians under attack, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“In the next two days, a plane will reach Ukraine from Israel with 100 tons of humanitarian equipment for civilians who are also in the battle zone and those who are trying to leave … who are outside of their homes in cold winter weather,” Bennett said. More than 200,000 ethnic Ukrainians live in Israel. Thousands marched in protest of the Russian invasion on Saturday.
Israel is in something of a bind. It relies on Russian approval to target Iranian assets in Syria. Israel refused to co-sponsor a UN resolution condemning Russian aggression last week. At the same time it is the United States' top ally in the region and relies heavily on US military equipment. The large number of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians in Israel, and of Jews in Ukraine, is adding pressure on Bennett.

4 a.m., Feb. 27: UN says number of people crossing neighboring countries from Ukraine tops 200,000

Tens of thousands of civilians, including many foreign nationals stranded in Ukraine, have been making their way to neighboring Poland, Hungary, Moldova and Romania.

Ukraine: Numbers are constantly being updated but the latest count of refugee arrivals in neighbouring countries now exceeds 200,000. We aim to have another update later today.

— UNHCR News (@RefugeesMedia) February 27, 2022

Feb. 27: UN Security Council to hold emergency session Sunday to vote on Ukraine resolution

The UN Security Council will convene Sunday to vote on whether to refer a resolution opposing Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the General Assembly. 
On Friday, Russia, one of the five permanent members of the Council used its veto power to block the move. China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained. 
The Feb. 27 vote is likely to make it to the General Assembly because under UN rules only nine of the 15 Security Council members need to agree.

Feb. 27: Ukraine says it’s using Turkish drones to repel invading Russian forces

Ukraine's embassy in Ankara posted a video of what it said was a Turkish manufactured Bayraktar TBT2 combat drone targeting a cluster of Russian military vehicles. 
Turkey has sold at least 20 combat drones to Ukraine in a move that has angered the Kremlin.

Feb. 27: Emirati senior official: UAE rejects military solutions in Ukraine

Diplomatic adviser to President Sheikh Khalifa, Anwar Gargash, said the UAE rejects "military solutions" in Ukraine calling for a diplomatic resolution to the ongoing crisis. 
"The world is facing a difficult test and severe polarization imposed by the Ukrainian crisis, which threatens the foundations of the international community and increases the factors of instability," he tweeted.
The UAE abstained in a Friday vote at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution to condemn Russian aggression against Ukraine.

يواجه العالم اختباراً صعباً واستقطاباً حاداً فرضته الأزمة الأوكرانية مما يهدد أسس المجتمع الدولي ويزيد من عوامل عدم الاستقرار، من واقع تجربتنا في منطقة مليئة بالأزمات نرى بأن الحلول السياسية وخلق توازنات تعزز الأمن والاستقرار هي الطريق الأفضل لمواجهة الأزمات والحد من آثارها.

— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) February 27, 2022

Feb. 27: Ukraine points to Turkey as venue for negotiations to end conflict with Russia

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky rejected Russia's call for negotiations in Belarus, which is aiding the Kremlin in its war effort, saying he would be ready to meet with Russian leaders in either Istanbul, Warsaw, Baku or Budapest. 
Russia has already sent a delegation to the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Russian forces are meanwhile reported to  have breached defenses in Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv where pitched battles are raging on the streets.

5:34 p.m., Feb. 26: US believes attacks on Kyiv will escalate

American officials are concerned that slow progress by Russian forces has caused frustration, and that Moscow's forces are preparing for widespread artillery and air strikes on Kyiv in the coming days, a US official told Al-Monitor.

1:50 p.m., Feb. 26: protests in Israel, Iran in solidarity with Ukraine

Thousands of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv today in opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with some calling for the Israeli government to take a stronger stance in support of Ukraine, The Times of Israel reported.
Demonstrators also gathered near the Ukrainian embassy in Tehran this evening, with chants against Russia's President Putin audible before Iranian police dispersed the crowd, VOA reported. 

1:05 p.m., Feb. 26: Zelensky says offers by Turkey, Azerbaijan to mediate with Russia ‘welcome’

Ukraine's president said in a statement tonight that the presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan have offered to mediate talks with Russia.
"Presidents [Ilham] Aliyev and [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan have proposed organizing talks with Russia. This is only welcome," Zelensky said.
Aliyev and Erdogan spoke on the phone earlier today.

11:21 a.m., Feb. 26: Russia tells Turkey ready to work with ‘constructive forces’ to resolve Ukraine crisis

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday that his government was ready to work towards ending the conflict in Ukraine, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

9:00 a.m., Feb. 26: Top Turkish, Greek diplomats bicker over Ukraine

Turkey’s top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu has slammed his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias who reportedly accused Ankara of trying to exploit the situation in Ukraine.
“While the world is focused on the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, my friend Nikos is focused on his sole hobby: Defamation of [Turkey],” Cavusoglu tweeted. 
According to Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah, in an earlier tweet, Dendias accused Ankara of trying to exploit the Russian invasion of Ukraine, questioning Turkey’s respect for international law, in an apparent reference to the ongoing maritime dispute between the two countries.

While the world is focused on the tragedy unfolding in #Ukraine, my friend Nikos 🇬🇷 is focused on his sole hobby: Defamation of Türkiye in any condition.

Such dedication and so much effort put on such nonsense. So sad! https://t.co/yqy5C3AmWh

— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) February 26, 2022

Feb. 26: Iraq coordinates with Poland to evacuate Iraqi citizens in Ukraine

Iraqi and Polish authorities are working together to secure the safe exit of Iraqi nationals stranded in Ukraine, Kurdish television channel Rudaw reported, citing the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.
Baghdad also set up several helplines for evacuation, the report said.
An estimated number of 5,500 Iraqis, including Kurds, are in Ukraine, a spokesperson for Iraq's Foreign Ministry, told Rudaw.

Feb. 26: Kremlin’s website has gone dark

The Kremlin's official website is inaccessible at least from abroad as of Saturday amid reports of cyberattacks on several Russian government websites.

Feb. 26: Lebanon to evacuate its citizens in Ukraine

Lebanon’s Embassy in Warsaw has called on its nationals in Ukraine to get in touch with the embassy through a WhatsApp number for evacuation arrangements. 
The embassy also warned its citizens that the waiting time at the Poland-Ukraine border crossing can range between 24-60 hours.

8:27 a.m., Feb. 26: Ankara denies Zelensky’s suggestion that it agreed to close straits to Russia

Turkey's government denied that President Erdogan agreed to close the Turkish straits to Russian warships during a phone call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier today.
Zelensky implied in a tweet following the call that the Turkish president agreed to close its straits to Russia.
A Turkish official told Al-Monitor that Ankara's position on the Montreux Convention remained unchanged. Turkish officials has remained cautiously vague on the subject, however one official said yesterday that the government has considered the issue.

I thank my friend Mr. President of 🇹🇷 @RTErdogan and the people of 🇹🇷 for their strong support. The ban on the passage of 🇷🇺 warships to the Black Sea and significant military and humanitarian support for 🇺🇦 are extremely important today. The people of 🇺🇦 will never forget that!

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 26, 2022

Feb. 26: UN refugee agency to launch portal for displaced Ukrainians

The UN refugee agency UNHCR announced it would soon set up a portal to provide estimates on the number of displaced Ukrainians.
So far, some 116,000 have fled to neighboring countries since Feb. 24, the agency said, adding that numbers are rising.

8:07 a.m., Feb. 26: Turkey’s President Erdogan speaks with Ukrainian leader Zelensky by phone

Turkey is making efforts for an immediate ceasefire in a bid to prevent further loss of life and damage to Ukraine, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call on Saturday, Turkish media reported.
Erdogan also expressed his condolences for the Ukrainian victims, wishing speedy recovery to the injured.

7:21 a.m., Feb. 26: Turkey’s foreign minister renews offer to mediate in call with Russia’s Lavrov

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to end military operations in Ukraine in a phone call Saturday. Cavusoglu noted that a further escalation was in nobody's interest and renewed Turkey's offer to mediate between the sides.

Feb. 26: UAE calls for end of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine after fence sitting at UN

The UAE's ministry of foreign affairs said it was alarmed "at the consequences for civilians present in Ukraine, as well as for the region, and for the international community" as Russian troops battled for control over the former Soviet nation for a third day.
The ministry "emphasized the importance of ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need, and called on all parties to respect International Humanitarian Law, prioritize the protection of civilians, and allow for the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance." The appeal follows the UAE's abstention from a UN Security Council vote to condemn Moscow's assault Friday. The abstention came despite a Feb. 24  phone call from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken soliciting his Emirati counterpart's support. 

Feb. 26: Egyptians flee to Poland as Russia pursues assault on Ukraine

Twenty Egyptians arrived at a border camp in Poland, some by car, others on foot, as thousands of students from across the Middle East seek safety from Russia's expanding invasion of Ukraine. 
The Egyptian minister of immigration and expatriate affairs met with representatives of the Egyptian community in Ukraine Saturday, the Egyptian Independent reported to discuss safe passage of its citizens.

Fed 26: PKK-linked body calls Russia invasion of Ukraine “unjust”

The People's Democratic Congress (HDK), a political body affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) described Russia's invasion as "not just a war fought for people's independence and unity, but an unjust war fought by nations for sovereignty, expansionism and colonialism."
The HDK also took aim at the United States saying its policies were "insincere." The Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria have close links to the PKK and rely on the military protection of the United States. The Syrian Kurdish administration is also forced to deal with Russia which serves as a buffer between the Kurdish run zone and Turkish and regime controlled areas in the country. The HDK statement reflects the effort to strike a balance between the two.

Feb. 26: UN Syria Envoy says Russia attack on Ukraine may impact diplomatic push to end war in Syria

The UN's top envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, aired worries that Russia's assault on Ukraine would likely derail efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria. "Every month I draw your attention to the fact that Syrians across the country are facing poverty and hunger at levels higher than any point in the conflict," Pedersen told a meeting of the Security Council on Syria.
There is growing concern that Russia will use its veto power in the Security Council to block passage of aid through the last remaining humanitarian corridor to Syria where some 14.6 million people depend on emergency supplies. 
A resolution authorizing deliveries via the Bab al-Hawa crossing via Turkey was extended for a further six months in January following concerted diplomacy by the United States, an avenue that now may be closing.

6:44 a.m., Feb. 26: Israel urges its citizens fleeing Ukraine to identify themselves with signs

Israel's Foreign Ministry instructed Israeli citizens fleeing Ukraine to carry or mark their vehicles with signs bearing the letters "IL" (for Israel) so that Israeli personnel could identify them and facilitate their evacuation.

6:00 a.m., Feb. 26: Israel to pull diplomatic mission from Lviv to Poland

Israel's Foreign Ministry announced Saturday it would withdraw its diplomatic staff from the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to Poland, where they would continue work.
Israeli diplomatic personnel will travel into Ukraine each day to assist Israeli nationals, the ministry said.
The move follows other countries' diplomatic withdrawals amid concerns over the safety of their personnel.

Feb. 26: Poland won’t play World Cup soccer match with Russia

Poland will not play a World Cup qualifier against Russia next month because of Russia's attacks on Ukraine.
The president of Poland's Football Association, Cezary Kulesza, said the association was in talks with its Swedish and Czech counterparts for the playoff matches set for March to fill the now empty slot for the World Cup. Poland is among Ukraine's top allies in its standoff with Russia.

Feb. 26: Selcuk Bayraktar, who co-owns Baykar Makina, the leading manufacturer of Turkish combat drones, condemns Russia

Selcuk Bayraktar, who runs the Turkish drone manufacturer Baykar Makina, and is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's youngest son-in-law condemned Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 
"Russia has shown zero regard for the sovereignty of a people and engaged in an illegal occupation," he said. 
Baykar Makina signed a series of agreements with the Ukrainian government to sell and jointly manufacture TBT2 and Akinci combat drones that have tipped the scales in favor of Turkey's allies in Libya and Azerbaijan. 
There are unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian forces have been deploying the drones against Russian forces and that Russian forces have shot several down. Ukrainian officials told Al-Monitor it has "around 20" Turkish drones. 

Feb. 26: Third commercial vessel struck in the Black Sea as conflict escalates between Russia and Ukraine

A Japanese owned cargo ship was hit by a missile off the coast of Ukraine in the Black Sea, injuring one crew member, local media reported. 
The Panamanian flagged Namura Queen headed for Turkey where the damage will be assessed and crew treated. The incident happened near the Ukrainian port of Odessa.
 The Turkish-owned bulk carrier, the Yasa Jupiter and Moldovan chemical tanker MV Millennial Spirit were also hit by missiles in the wake of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24.

3:48 a.m., Feb. 26: Israel refrained from co-sponsoring UN Security Council resolution against Russian invasion

Israel did not sign on to a UN Security Council resolution to condemn Moscow's attack on Ukraine, despite a request from the United States that Israel do so, The Times of Israel reported this morning.

3:24 a.m., Feb. 26: Iran steps up evacuations of its nationals in Ukraine

Iran has stepped up evacuations of its nationals in Ukraine saying Iranian nationals residing in the country can apply for visas at Romanian diplomatic missions in Ukraine.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has been working the phones with counterparts from Ukraine's neighbors, Slovakia and Hungary to help with the effort as fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces escalates in the capital Kyiv.

5:48 p.m., Feb. 25: UAE abstains from UN Security Council vote condemning Russian invasion

The United Arab Emirates abstained from a UN Security Council vote to condemn Moscow's assault on Ukraine on Friday.
Abu Dhabi's abstention came despite a call from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday emphasizing the need for broad international objection to Russia's war effort.

3:24 p.m., Feb. 25: Ukraine asks Israel to mediate ceasefire talks with Russia

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked Israel's Prime Minister Neftali Bennett if his government would mediate talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin towards a ceasefire, Israel's Kann News reported.
"Our president believes Israel is the only democratic state that has great relations with both Russia and Ukraine and that could be used in order to facilitate those negotiations," Kiyv's ambassador to Israel later confirmed to CNN. "[We] definitely need to change the venue [from Minsk] and we believe Jerusalem could be a good place for that," Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk said.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said earlier today that Russia is ready to send a delegation to Minsk, Belarus, following Zelensky's statement that he was willing to discuss the issue of Ukrainian neutrality between Russia and the West. Zelensky's office said today the two sides were discussing a possible location to hold talks.
Peskov indicated today that Ukraine's "demilitarization and denazification" – terms Moscow has used to apparently mean regime change in Kiyv – remain inseparable parts of any future Ukrainian neutrality.

1 p.m., Feb. 25: Turkey’s top diplomat slams Putin’s call for coup in Ukraine

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s public invitation for the Ukrainian military “to stage a coup” in the country.
“We found this call outlandish,” Cavusoglu said. “It’s unacceptable."

12:53 p.m., Feb. 25: Russia summons Israel’s ambassador over stance on Ukraine

Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov rebuked Israel's Ambassador in Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi over Israeli officials' comments criticizing Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Bogdanov emphasized "the need to continue efforts to counteract attempts to glorify Nazism," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Russia's president said yesterday his invasion of Ukraine aims to purge the country of "Nazis."
Russia holds some leverage over Israel. Moscow's military forces in neighboring Syria have long turned a blind eye to Israel's airstrike campaign against Iran-backed militia targets in Syria.

🇷🇺🇮🇱 25 февраля замглавы @MID_RF М.Л.#Богданов принял Посла Израиля в Москве @AlexanderBenZvi.

С российской стороны внимание уделено необходимости продолжения усилий по противодействию попыткам героизации нацизма.

🔗https://t.co/e7r0dvIatU#РоссияИзраиль pic.twitter.com/oyiN5VaX57

— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) February 25, 2022

10:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Ankara begins evacuation of some 200 Turkish citizens stranded at Turkey’s Embassy in Kyiv

Turkish citizens who sheltered at Turkey's embassy in Kyiv were taken to buses and sent to Romania, Turkey’s pro-government A-Haber television reported.

10:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Lebanon rushes to secure wheat amid Russia Ukraine conflict.

Lebanon's Economy Minister Amin Salam said Friday that the country has no more than one month's worth of wheat reserves.
60% of Lebanon's wheat comes from Ukraine.
Talks are taking place with the United States, India, France and other EU countries to secure further reserves.
Following a cabinet meeting, the government approved the allocation of funds to buy 50,000 tonnes of wheat.

9:35 a.m., Feb. 25: Turkey’s US envoy offers no clarity closing straits

Turkey’s chief diplomat in Washington offered zero clarity on Friday when prompted by former US Ambassador James Jeffrey on whether Turkey may use a 1936 pact to close the Turkish straits.
“Don’t expect Turkey not to follow, not to implement, [the] Montreux agreement,” Ambassador Murat Mercan said during an event hosted by a Washington, DC-based think tank on Friday. "Anything more than that, anything less than that, that’s not in Turkey’s hand.”

6:25 a.m., Feb. 25: Syria’s Assad calls Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a ‘correction of history’

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad spoke with Russia's Vladimir Putin by phone Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, per Syrian state-run media.
Assad called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "a correction of history" and "a restoration of balance of the world that was lost after the dissolution of the Soviet Union," according to Syria's SANA news agency.

6:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Erdogan criticizes NATO for failing to prevent Russia’s invasion

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized NATO and the European Union for failing to present a united front amid the Russian assault on Ukraine.

“NATO should have taken a more decisive step,” Erdogan told reporters, adding that the reaction to the Russian invasion should have gone beyond a “mundane flurry of condemnations." He added that he would discuss the issue with his counterparts during the NATO summit today.

5:00 a.m., Feb. 25: Turkey’s top diplomat: Ankara cannot bar Russian naval forces passage to the Black Sea under Montreux

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara cannot bar Russian naval forces traveling to Black Sea under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Speaking in Kazakhstan early Friday, Cavusoglu told reporters that Ankara was studying whether the conflict in Ukraine “could be defined as a war,” in response to the official Ukrainian request to close its straits linking the Mediterranean and Black Sea to Russian naval forces. He added that under a clause in the Montreux Convention, even if Turkey decided to accept the request and close the straits to Russian warships, they would only be prevented from traveling to the Mediterranean from Black Sea. 

The clause of the 19th provision of the convention stipulates: “Notwithstanding the prohibition of passage laid down in paragraph 2 above, vessels of war belonging to belligerent powers, whether they are Black Sea powers or not, which have become separated from their bases, may return thereto.”

2:00 a.m., Feb. 25: EU representative praises for Turkey over Ukraine

Speaking in Ankara on Friday, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor said he "welcomed and expressed our strong appreciation for the clear support of the Turkish authorities for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in various meetings."

“I would like to stress the importance of strong EU-Turkey cooperation in foreign and security policy," Sanchez said.

6:50 p.m., Feb. 24: US rallies Arab Gulf allies over unified messaging on Ukraine

Top US diplomat Antony Blinken spoke with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan "about Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack against Ukraine and the importance of building a strong international response to support Ukrainian sovereignty through the UN Security Council," per a US readout of the call.
Meanwhile, the State Department's number-two official, Wendy Sherman, phoned her Saudi counterpart, Waleed Khereiji, to discuss the issue, according to the US statement.

3:46 p.m., Feb. 24: Top US diplomat speaks with Turkey’s foreign minister by phone

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today.
Blinken “thanked Turkey for its strong and vocal support in defense of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the State Department said in a statement.

12:30 p.m., Feb. 24: Lebanon condemns Russian invasion

Lebanon's Foreign Ministry condemned Moscow's attack and called on the Kremlin to "halt its military operation immediately and withdraw its forces" from Ukraine.
Beirut's statement cited previous foreign invasions of Lebanon "which led to losses that were felt for many years."
Syria's government under President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, adopted Moscow's stance and baselessly blamed Ukraine for triggering the conflict. 

Read more here.

12:15 p.m., Feb. 24: Pentagon chief speaks with Turkish counterpart by phone

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday after Ankara said it had weighed Ukraine's request to close the Turkish straits into the Black Sea to Russian ships.
The pair discussed “bilateral regional defense and security issues, especially the latest developments in Ukraine,” according to a statement released by the Turkish Defense Ministry.
A senior Pentagon officials speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity later confirmed the call, but offered no details. A Pentagon statement on the conversation is expected to be released later today.

Millî Savunma Bakanı Hulusi Akar ve ABD Savunma Bakanı Lloyd James Austin, 24 Şubat 2022'de bir telefon görüşmesi gerçekleştirdi. Görüşmede Ukrayna’daki son gelişmeler başta olmak üzere ikili ve bölgesel savunma ile güvenlik konuları ele alındı ve değerlendirildi. pic.twitter.com/tdfHg1Vchr

— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) February 24, 2022

12:04 p.m., Feb. 24: Turkish, French presidents speak by phone

Turkey's president spoke to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron about the situation in Ukraine. 
Earlier today, Macron called for an emergency NATO summit.

11:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Egypt expresses “deep concern” over Ukraine developments

Egypt's Foreign Ministry urged dialogue to resolve Russia's moves against Ukraine in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
"Egypt is following with deep concern the successive developments regarding the situation in Ukraine, and affirms the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavors that would hasten the political settlement of the crisis," a ministry statement read.

11:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Pentagon says Russia aims for regime change in Ukraine

The Kremlin “has every intention of basically decapitating Ukrainian leadership,” a senior US defense official told reporters Thursday morning.
Russia committed more than 100 missiles and about 75 fighter jets during the first wave of strikes last night, the official said.
Later, the official said updated the number to roughly 160 Russian missiles fired into Ukraine. 

10:10 a.m., Feb. 24: Turkey considers Ukraine’s request to close straits

A spokesperson for Turkey's ruling political party said the government was weighing Kyiv's request for Ankara to close the Turkish straits to Russian ships, but offered no clarity on a decision.
Turkey has "assessed all the scenarios" that could come from a decision to close the straits, and "will use its discretion in favor of peace instead of deepening the conflict," spokesperson Omer Celik said during a press conference.
"Preparations both legally and diplomatically have been concluded. We will continue to follow the process. We certainly don’t want tensions to escalate further," Celik said.

Read more here.

9:51 a.m., Feb. 24: Israel’s prime minister softens tone on Ukraine invasion

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett avoided condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in a speech on Thursday evening, taking a more cautious tone than Foreign Minister Yair Lapid did earlier.
“These are difficult and tragic moments, and our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine who have fallen into this situation without injustice on their part,” Bennett said.

Read more here.

9:40 a.m., Feb. 24: Bomb hits Turkish civilian ship off Odessa, none hurt

Maritime authorities in Turkey said a bomb struck a Turkish-owned ship off the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Thursday.
No one was reported hurt and the ship, the Yasa Jupiter, headed for Romanian waters.

6:20 a.m., Feb. 24: Egypt cabinet meets to discuss war’s impact on food imports, fuel prices, tourism

Egypt's government convened a full cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss preparations for expected impacts on wheat imports, global fuel prices and possible reductions in tourism revenues, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said today.

Read more here.

5:23 a.m., Feb. 24: Israel condemns Russia’s assault on Ukraine

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid broke his country’s silence on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Thursday, calling the attack “a serious violation of the international order.”
Analysts have speculated that Russia’s military leverage in Syria, where the Kremlin has turned a blind eye to Israeli airstrikes against Iran-backed militias, may lessen Tel Aviv's response to Moscow’s aggression in Europe.

Read our coverage here.

4:30 a.m., Feb. 24: All eyes on Gulf as oil, gas prices surge

Brent crude oil broke $105 per barrel on Thursday after Russia launched attacks across Ukraine.
Futures for gas delivered in the Netherlands, a benchmark for European prices, jumped 30% today.
The Biden administration approached Qatar earlier this month about supplying gas to Europe amid an expected decline in Russian supplies. Doha’s energy minister suggested yesterday that his country could not adequately cover the deficit.

3:30 a.m., Feb. 24: Turkey’s president slams Russia’s invasion as “unacceptable”

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “a violation of international law” and “unacceptable."
Erdogan spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on the phone this morning and reiterated support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

2:30 a.m., Feb. 24: Ukraine calls on Turkey to close straits to Black Sea

Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, called on Ankara to close the straits into the Black Sea to Russian ships.
Russia has more than 10 naval landing craft in the Black Sea and landed troops on Ukraine’s southern coast last night, Pentagon officials said.
Ankara can close the straits in wartime under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

1:39 a.m., Feb. 24: Qatar’s emir speaks with Zelensky, calls for ‘restraint’

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani spoke with Ukraine's president Thursday morning and "called on all parties to exercise restraint and resolve the dispute through constructive dialogue and diplomatic methods, as well as the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, and not to take any actions that would lead to further escalation," according to Doha's statement.
Zelensky had a different take on the call: "Received support from the Emir of Qatar @TamimBinHamad," he tweeted. "The world is with us."

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