Ukraine latest: Live updates as ‘horrific’ rocket strikes hit Kyiv and Nato allies to prepare next steps

This is day two of our live blog on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Friday February 25.

Fresh strikes have hit Kyiv amid warnings Russian forces are closing in on the capital as Nato allies prepare to determine the West’s next steps against the Kremlin.

The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said in a tweet just before 4am on Friday that “horrific rocket strikes” hit Kyiv in an attack he compared to the city’s 1941 shelling by Nazi Germany.

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“Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany,” he said.

Ukrainians hold a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside Downing Street on Thursday February 24Ukrainians hold a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside Downing Street on Thursday February 24
Ukrainians hold a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside Downing Street on Thursday February 24

Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin. Isolate Russia. Sever all ties. Kick Russia out of (everywhere).”

Replying to Mr Kuleba’s tweet, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called Russia’s assault on the capital “barbaric” and “callous”.

Scroll down for the latest updates.

Ukraine live updates: ‘Horrific’ rocket strikes in Kyiv as Nato allies to prepare next steps

How to support people in Ukraine right now

Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and the images and stories emerging from the attack are harrowing.

By the end of the first day, the Ukrainian government said 137 civilians and military personnel had been killed.

The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, described the “horrific rocket strikes” on Kyiv, tweeting: “Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany.”

In the face of such senseless violence, it can be easy to feel hopeless and powerless – but if you’re wondering how you could help people in Ukraine, there might be some ways.

These are a few ways you can help from home…

Donate to relevant charities

If you’re able to afford it, donating money to various charities will go a long way to supporting those on the ground.

UNICEF executive director Catherine M. Russell said in a statement: “UNICEF is working across eastern Ukraine to scale up life-saving programmes for children. This includes trucking safe water to conflict-affected areas; prepositioning health, hygiene and emergency education supplies as close as possible to communities near the line of contact; and working with municipalities to ensure there is immediate help for children and families in need. UNICEF-supported mobile teams are also providing psychosocial care to children traumatised by the chronic insecurity.”

Donate here:

High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the UN Refugee Agency is “working with the authorities, UN and other partners in Ukraine and is ready to provide humanitarian assistance wherever necessary and possible”. Donate here:

Sunflower Of Peace is a local charity gathering medical supplies for paramedics and doctors on the front lines. Donate here:

The British Red Cross has launched an urgent appeal to help Ukraine – you can send your money here:

Finally, head to United Help Ukraine ( to support a charity focused on providing humanitarian aid to those in need, as well as raising awareness of the conflict.

Write to your MP

Writing a letter to your local MP can help put pressure on the government to act. This could be encouraging Boris Johnson’s administration to put harsher sanctions on Russia, or even lead the world’s humanitarian response to what’s happened.

In a joint open letter to The Times, charities including Amnesty International and the Refugee Council wrote: “A generation ago, the UK saved the lives of thousands of families from the Balkans through an evacuation and resettlement programme.

“The government should now respond with a well-resourced initiative working with councils across the country, to welcome Ukrainians who need sanctuary.”

Support local journalism

The fact we’re so up to date with what’s happening in Ukraine is largely down to the tireless work of journalists reporting on the ground.

To help them continue this crucial work, follow the news from local sources such as The Kyiv Independent ( – you can also donate on its website) and The New Voice of Ukraine (

Educating yourself on the history and nuances of the crisis from respected sources before speaking about it online will help tackle disinformation.

Join a peace protest

This might not seem as direct a way to help Ukrainians as, for example, donating money – but it could still have a big impact.

Joining a peace protest (if you are able to do so and feel comfortable being in a crowd) is a public way of showing your support for the people of Ukraine, and putting pressure on those in powerful positions to help those affected.

Paris to host this season’s Champions League final instead of St Petersburg

Paris will host this season’s Champions League final after the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to St Petersburg being stripped of its right to stage the match.

The UEFA executive committee held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss its response to the crisis and has opted to remove the showpiece match from the 68,000-capacity Gazprom Arena in Russia’s second-largest city.

A statement from European football’s governing body read: “The UEFA executive committee decided to relocate the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Men’s Champions League from St Petersburg to Stade de France in St Denis.

“The game will be played as initially scheduled on Saturday May 28 at 2100 CET.

“UEFA wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to French Republic president Emmanuel Macron for his personal support and commitment to have European club football’s most prestigious game moved to France at a time of unparalleled crisis.”

St Petersburg staged seven matches at Euro 2020 last summer, a tournament organised by UEFA, including the quarter-final between Spain and Switzerland. Before that, it had hosted seven matches at the 2018 World Cup finals which were held in Russia.

The UEFA statement added: “Together with the French government, UEFA will fully support multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure the provision of rescue for football players and their families in Ukraine who face dire human suffering, destruction and displacement.”

The executive committee also decided Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice.

This is set to affect Spartak Moscow in the Europa League, with the last-16 draw taking place later on Friday morning, and also Russia and Ukraine in the 2022-23 Nations League which is due to get under way in June.

FIFA has yet to take a decision on what to do about next month’s World Cup play-off matches.

Russia host Poland in a play-off semi-final on March 24 and could then face the winner of the Sweden v Czech Republic semi in Russia for a place in Qatar as things stand.

The federations of Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic issued a statement on Thursday insisting matches should not be played on Russian territory and demanding “alternative solutions” be found.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday his organisation would look at the matter with “urgency” but said he hoped the situation would be resolved by next month.

Ukraine are due to face Scotland at Hampden Park in a play-off semi-final on March 24, but that match is also in doubt with the Ukrainian league suspended following the invasion.

World players’ union FIFPRO issued a statement on the Russian invasion on Friday, saying: “FIFPRO commends the sanctions that have targeted the individuals and businesses that enable the Putin regime and its assault on the rule of law.

“Football must now follow the lead of democratic governments to review and sever any ties that undermine the basic principles of our industry.

“FIFPRO stands together with the Ukrainian people and we are currently seeking assurances and support from the international football bodies to protect professional players in the country.”

The PA news agency understands Russia’s ExCo member Alexander Dyukov and Ukrainian member Andrii Pavelko were both involved in Friday’s emergency UEFA meeting.

The European Club Association issued a statement supporting the decision taken by the ExCo to move the Champions League final away from Russia.

“We are deeply concerned by the ongoing situation in Ukraine and stand resolute with European and international sports organisations in insisting that the use of force and aggression between nations, communities or individuals is unacceptable,” the ECA statement read.

“As the body representing Europe’s leading football clubs, ECA will continue to monitor and work in tandem with UEFA to ensure the right decisions are taken for European club football in response to this grave situation.

“Above all, ECA’s thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries welcomed the UEFA decision.

“Russia must not be allowed to exploit sporting and cultural events on the world stage to legitimise its unprovoked, premeditated and needless attack against a sovereign democratic state,” she said.

‘Still time’ to cut Russia out of Swift payment system, Defence Secretary says

Britain will “work all day” to try to get the Swift international payment system “turned off for Russia”, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.

Ukraine has called for Moscow to be kicked out of the system, which allows financial transactions to be made around the world.

However, there has been opposition in Europe over fears the fallout could hit other countries too.

Mr Wallace suggested Boris Johnson would push for other world leaders to back the measure, which would be one of the most serious sanctions available, when he meets virtually with Nato allies on Friday.

US President Joe Biden said on Thursday it was “always an option but right now that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Wallace said: “Britain wants the Swift system to be turned off for Russia. But unfortunately the Swift system is not in our control – it’s not a unilateral decision.”

Mr Wallace said the system is used “to move money around”, explaining: “When you pay Russia for its gas, it probably goes through the Swift system, for example. It is based in Belgium. It has a number of partners that control it, or nation states.”

He added: “We want it switched off. Other countries do not. We only have so many options. We are going to work all day to try and get it (switched off for Russia).”

He told LBC there was “still time” for that decision to change and he highlighted that the Prime Minister was meeting with Nato allies later on Friday.

Asked if Swift was a key sanction, Mr Wallace said “it is and we’re trying”, and he added: “We have to keep working to get that.”

“We will work all the magic, do everything we can in diplomacy, the Prime Minister is going to address the Nato leaders summit today,” he told BBC Breakfast.

He said: “Like so many things, these are international organisations, and if not every country wants them to be thrown out of the Swift system, it becomes difficult.

“We’re going to work on that today and tomorrow.”

Irish Government minister Thomas Byrne said his Government would have supported removing Russia from the Swift network, but stressed it was important that EU countries had unity over the sanctions imposed.

“Our priority as an Irish Government was to have unity around the table. That was very, very important,” he told RTE radio.

“Having said that, we pushed and will continue to push for the broadest possible sanctions. So, yes, the Irish Government has no difficulty whatsoever with the Swift system being sanctioned and that’s something that we would support.”

Taoiseach Michael Martin said: “People have different perspectives on the efficacy or value of Swift in itself, so I don’t think we should singularly focus on Swift because the sanctions will hit hard at the industrial base, in terms of areas that will hurt the Russian economy.”

He said it may be something the EU will return to in the future, as the war in Ukraine continues to rage.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said banning Russia from the system was a “now decision” which should be made as soon as possible.

“That is a now decision and the Labour Party would support it in full. We think it should happen now,” he told BBC Breakfast.

Ukraine has called for sanctions against Russia to go further and the country’s foreign minister said allies would have blood on their hands if they did not remove Russia from Swift.

But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was reported to have said that certain measures should be “for a situation where it is necessary to do other things as well” when asked about Swift, while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was a “sensitive” issue “because it would also have an enormous impact on ourselves”.

Swift is a secure messaging system used by financial institutions to move money around the world.

Cutting Russia out of the system would cause delays and extra costs for the Russian economy, but reports suggested there were fears it would prevent mainland Europe from buying Russian gas, on which it relies.

Another concern is that Russia could then turn to an alternative system, potentially one developed by China, which could erode the power of the US dollar.

The measure has been used before, when Iran was blocked from the system due to its nuclear programme.

WATCH: Air raid sirens go off in Kyiv as Russia attacks Ukraine

British troops will not be sent to fight ‘directly’ with Russians

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said British troops will not be sent to fight “directly” with the Russians.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I said very clearly about a month ago that we are not going to be sending British troops to fight directly with Russian troops.

“We are going to hold the line in Nato. We’ve always supported Ukraine’s application to Nato over the last 15 years, not every country has wanted them to join.

“We’ve done the next best thing, which is train over 20,000 Ukrainians, provided them with lethal capabilities, which they are using right now.

“But I’m not putting British troops directly to fight Russian troops. That would trigger a European war, because we are a Nato country, and Russia would therefore be attacking Nato.”

Ben Wallace: ‘Diplomacy is absolutely off the table'

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s legacy will be “isolation”, adding that “diplomacy is absolutely off the table” at this stage.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I think President Putin is slowly but surely building a wall around himself. He will be isolated.

“I think, you know, his legacy is not what he hopes it will be. I think his legacy will be isolation.”

He added: “I think at the moment diplomacy is absolutely off the table. We tried. I went to Moscow, Liz Truss went to Moscow, (the) Prime Minister spoke regularly to President Putin and met him on a number of occasions, as did practically every president of, or prime minister of, senior countries in the West.

“So, you know, I’m not sure what more diplomacy would achieve at this very moment in time.”

He added: “I think it’s important to have a diplomatic link, it’s important for us to give messages to the Kremlin direct.”

EU ambassador to UK says sanctions on Russia will have “huge impact”

Joao Vale de Almeida told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme they will “touch the heart” of the country’s economy.

He added: “The measures we are taking today will have a huge impact on Russia, it impacts 70% of the banking system.

“It touched the heart of the state-owned companies that financed the war effort.” He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme the package of sanctions are “robust, massive and unprecedented”.

He said: “I think equally important is the message that we are sending out. The first one is solidarity with Ukrainian people and Ukrainian leaders, who are suffering right now.

“The second one is condemnation, clear condemnation of the action of Russia and its leader.

“Thirdly, that unity of the West, unity of those that share the same values, not only inside the European Union, but with the United Kingdom, with the US, with Canada, with Japan, Australia and beyond.

“This is a show of strength on our side.”

Ukraine invasion in pictures

MoD: Highly unlikely Russia achieved its day one military objectives in Ukraine

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says it is “highly unlikely” Russia achieved its planned objectives for the first day of its invasion of Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces have reportedly halted Russia’s advance towards Chernihiv,” the MoD said in a statement.

“Fighting probably continues on the outskirts of the city.

“It is unlikely that Russia has achieved its planned Day 1 military objectives. Ukrainian forces have presented fierce resistance across all axes of Russia’s advance.”

However, the ministry added it was “highly likely” Russia had seized the shuttered Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The MoD said: “Russian forces have highly likely captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Workers have reportedly been detained by Russian troops.”

Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion in the early hours of Thursday, thought to be Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

By the end of the day, the Ukrainian government said 137 civilians and military personnel had been killed.

Airstrikes and shelling were reported across the country, and CNN reported a further strike was expected on the capital Kyiv overnight.

Meanwhile, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a full military mobilisation lasting 90 days.

Leaders of the 30 Nato allied nations will meet on Friday, US President Joe Biden confirmed, as they come under pressure to go even further than sanctions already announced to hit the Kremlin after what Boris Johnson described as a “dark day in the history of our continent”.

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