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Ukraine Crisis

LIVE: KYIV UNDER ATTACK

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There are reports a large convoy of Russian troops and tanks is now heading towards Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin is moving his nation’s nuclear deterrent to “special alert” citing Nato aggression as the reason why.

It’s not entirely certain what this entails, but it may be a “preliminary command” making a retaliatory strike possible.

It is an action that allows Russia’s command and control to be able to react if necessary, meaning it is a very high level of command.

NATO has labeled the move as dangerous and irresponsible.

‘Leave immediately’

The US State Department has issued an urgent warning to any American residents still in Russia.

The warning comes as an increasing number of airlines based in locations right around the world cancel flights to and from Russia, while countries impose strict sanctions on Russian-owned airlines.

In a statement, the US department says:

“An increasing number of airlines are canceling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines. US citizens should consider departing Russia immediately.”

Massive explosion

There has been a massive explosion to hit the area of Cherkasy in central Ukraine.

The huge blast was captured on camera.

FIFA cancels Russia

The UK’s Football Association has confirmed England will not play any matches against Russia “for the foreseeable future.”

In a statement, the FA says:

“Out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership… we won’t play against Russia in any international fixtures”.

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS HOUR:

Russian President Vladimir Putin moves his nation’s nuclear deterrent to “special alert”

  • The US has condemned the move, labelling it as “unacceptable” while Putin says it is in response to Nato aggression.
  • Ukrainian troops remain in control of Kharkiv following a Russian attack
  • There are reports around 4,300 Russian troops have been killed so-far in battle.
  • Ukraine says 352 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed so-far as war engulfs the nation.
  • A Ukrainian delegation is set to meet with their Russian counterparts for talks at the Belarus border.
  • US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield says Putin is ready to do whatever he can to intimidate Ukraine and the world…

Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister says talks between the two delegations will take place on Monday morning local time.

The scheduled meeting follows the office of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko calling the office of the Ukrainian president.

The politicians have agreed both delegations will convene “without preconditions on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, near the Pripyat River”.

In his latest video address, Zelensky says his country’s residents “will fight as long as it takes to liberate the county.”

Meanwhile, Western allies are preparing new sanctions against Russia for its military action in Ukraine

These include banishing key Russia banks from the main global payments system – SWIFT.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Europe is also closing its airspace to all Russian planes.

Europe will also ban all Russian state-owned media including Russia Today, or R-T and Sputnik.

Von der Leyen says the new rules will apply to all Russian-owned planes, including the private jets of oligarchs.

The United Kingdom has also imposed similar restrictions.

This comes as Europe also moves to impose stringent sanctions on Russian ally, Belarus… with restrictive measures being placed against the nation’s most important sectors.

In a statement, the leaders of the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Canada and the US say they “will hold Russia to account and collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin”.

Media

Body behind Eurovision “understands the disappointment” over next host city

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Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision contest in May, capturing the hearts of the world

After taking out the win, that would mean Ukraine would host the competition next year.

But the European Broadcasting Union announced last week it could not be held in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

The body behind Eurovision now says it “understands the disappointment” over its decision not to hold next year’s song contest in Ukraine.

The EBU said it was in talks with the BBC to host the contest in the UK.

That’s because British entrant Sam Ryder came second in this year’s contest with his single Spaceman.

The announcement was met with disappointment by Ukrainians but the E-B-U doubled down on its position, saying in a statement that it “fully understands the disappointment that greeted the announcement”.

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Business

Nike to fully exit Russia

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U.S. sportswear maker Nike is making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations there, the company said in an emailed statement Thursday

The sportswear giant had said back in March that it would suspend operations at all the stores it owns or operates there.

On Thursday (June 23) the firm said it would leave the country altogether.

In a statement, Nike said it would scale down over the coming months.

The move is largely symbolic for the company, which gets less than 1% of its revenue from Russia and Ukraine combined.

It says any stores that are still open there are run by independent partners.

In May, Russian media reported that Nike had not renewed agreements with Inventive Retail Group, its largest franchisee there.

Now the full exit lputs Nike in line with other major western brands such as McDonald’s and Google.

Foreign companies seeking to leave face the prospect of new laws being passed that will allow Moscow to seize assets and impose criminal penalties.

That has prompted some businesses to accelerate their departure plans.

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Ukraine Crisis

New candidates – Ukraine and Moldova one step closer to joining EU

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Ukraine and Moldova have officially been granted E-U candidate status, moving the nations one step closer to joining the union

At a European leaders meeting in Brussels, the decision comes nearly four months after Ukraine’s Zelensky launched his country’s bid to join the bloc, and deals a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the Kremlin has been acting as though it’s no big deal, with Putin claiming he has “nothing against” the possible membership, saying it’s Ukraine’s “sovereign decision” to join or not.

Ukrainian President Zelensky has welcomed the move, calling it “a unique and historic moment” and says his country’s future is in the EU.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has declared it “a good day for Europe”.

While candidate status is the first official step toward E-U membership, it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee the process will be successful.

The process can also go into reverse, if a future Ukrainian government fails to implement certain reforms on the rule of law and its economy.

But the Commission president has hope.

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