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Russian troops near Ukraine capital amid Western sanctions



Satellite imagery is showing a large deployment of Russian ground forces including tanks moving in the direction of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv from approximately 64 kilometres away, a private US company said.


The images released by Maxar Technologies Inc on Sunday showed a deployment comprised of hundreds of military vehicles and extending more than 5km, Maxar said.

The convey was situated northeast of the Ukrainian city of Ivankiv and contained fuel, logistics and armoured vehicles including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled artillery, it said.


The satellite images also showed damage caused by recent air strikes on the Antonov airport in Hostomel, and heavy fighting in and near the airport, Maxar reported.

Maxar has been tracking the build-up of Russian forces for weeks. Its images could not be independently verified by Reuters.


Hear Flinders University's Rowan Nicholson's take on the conflict on the FlowNews24 podcast:




In an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, after a gruelling night of Russian attacks on the outskirts of the city, mayor Vitali Klitschko was silent for several seconds when asked if there were plans to evacuate civilians if Russian troops managed to take Kyiv.

"We can't do that, because all ways are blocked ... right now we are encircled."

When Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Thursday, the city of 2.8 million people initially reacted with concern but also a measure of self-possession.


However, nerves started fraying when grocery stores began closing and the city's famously deep subway system turned its stations into bomb shelters.


The European Union will tighten sanctions on Russia, target Russian ally Belarus with measures and fund weapons for Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia's invasion, top EU officials said on Sunday. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said:

"For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack."

She said the European Union would close its airspace to Russian aircraft, including the private jets of Russian oligarchs.


The bloc will ban Russian state-owned television network Russia Today and news agency Sputnik. Von der Leyen said this was to render them unable to "spread their lies to justify Putin's war and to sow division in our Union".


Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.


For Russian ally Belarus, the European Union will impose a ban on imports of products from mineral fuels to tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel.



China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun abstains during a vote at United Nations headquarters on Sunday


British multinational oil and gas company BP is abandoning its 19.75 per cent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in an abrupt and costly end to three often fraught decades of operating in the oil-rich country.

Rosneft accounts for around half of BP's oil and gas reserves and a third of its production and divesting the stake will result in charges of up to $A35 billion, the British oil and gas giant said on Sunday, without saying how it plans to extricate itself. BP Chief Executive Bernard Looney said:

"I have been deeply shocked and saddened by the situation unfolding in Ukraine and my heart goes out to everyone affected. It has caused us to fundamentally rethink BP's position with Rosneft,"

The rapid retreat represents the boldest step yet by a Western oil company with operations in Russia, including France's TotalEnergies, amid an escalating crisis between the West and Moscow.


Australian Labor's Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers expects this week's release of the December quarter national accounts will show a healthy economic recovery.


However, that rebound has since been cruelled by the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and more recently by the uncertainty caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, he will tell an Ai Group function on Monday.


Economists expect Wednesday's national accounts will show the economy grew by three per cent in the December quarter, a marked recovery from the 1.9 contraction three months earlier as a result of the Delta strain lockdowns. Dr Chalmers will say:

"But we already know that was cruelled when workforces and supply chains were smashed as people spent late December and early January driving around searching for rapid tests they couldn't find or afford, and that the government didn't order."

He expects the uncertainty around the war in Ukraine will push up energy and food prices and feed into some serious market volatility and investor caution, with consequences for the Asia Pacific region and Australia.


He says the emergence of inflation poses difficult judgements for the Reserve Bank of Australia on interests rates, "which will sting when they inevitably come off their low base".

The RBA will hold its monthly board meeting on Tuesday, but economists expect it is still some months away from lifting the cash rate from a record low 0.1 per cent given last week's wage growth figures.


They showed annual wage growth of 2.3 per cent when the RBA wants to see three per cent-plus before raising the cash rate.


There is some uncertainty among economists how the Omicron variant impacted retail spending in January, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics will report on Monday.


Economists forecasts centre on a 0.4 per cent increase, although range from a three per cent fall to a two per cent rise.


The ABS will also release company profits and business inventories figures for the December quarter, which will feed into Wednesday national accounts.