Putin says Russia's Ukraine operation is a 'success'

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Ukraine's leader on Wednesday issued an emotive appeal to US lawmakers for greater Western intervention against Russia.
  • Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor on Wednesday blocked access to the BBC's main news website, with Moscow's foreign ministry warning of more retaliatory measures against the media. 

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his military campaign in Ukraine was a success and that he would not allow the country to become a "springboard" used to threaten Russia.

"The operation is developing successfully and in strict accordance with plans," Putin said at a televised government meeting, adding Russia had no choice but to send in troops. "We will not allow Ukraine to serve as a springboard for aggressive actions against Russia." 

Putin warns West

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, also reached back to history as he denounced the West's "pogroms" against Russia and its sanctions "blitzkrieg", which he said had failed.

At a televised government meeting, Putin insisted the invasion was "developing successfully, in strict accordance with plans".

"And we will not allow Ukraine to serve as a springboard for aggressive actions against Russia," he added.

NATO will hold an emergency summit next week in Brussels with Biden attending -- but it has so far resisted Zelensky's pleas for direct involvement for fear of starting World War III.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would put "substantially more forces" on its eastern flank, but was not planning to deploy forces to Ukraine.

Biden and other NATO leaders have instead been stepping up military support for Ukraine including anti-tank weapons that have helped to stall Russian forces north of Kyiv.

Biden also unveiled another $800 million of military aid and more anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.

Russia blocks access to BBC, vows more media retaliation

Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor on Wednesday blocked access to the BBC's main news website, with Moscow's foreign ministry warning of more retaliatory measures against the media. 

"I think this is only the beginning of retaliatory measures to the information war unleashed by the West against Russia," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Telegram. 

Roskomnadzor listed the BBC News website as blocked in Russia.

The website of the BBC's Russian service was also blocked. 

The service posted a video instructing Russians how to keep accessing the media via a VPN and on apps. 

"We continue to show the events on Russia and the world," it said in the video. 

It called on its readers to download the BBC app and follow the news site on social media platforms.  

Roskomnadzor also blocked access to at least 31 other media websites Wednesday, in a crackdown online that sharply escalated after President Vladimir Putin sent in troops to Ukraine. 

AFP was unable to access more than 30 Russian and foreign-based media from inside the country.

These included award-winning investigation website Bellingcat and several Russian regional websites like Permdaily.ru. 

Their websites were listed as blocked by Roskomnadzor.

Two Russian-language media based in Israel, where there is a large Russian-speaking community, were blocked: the 9 TV Channel Israel and Vesti Israel.

Kavkazki Uzel, an independent media website covering the Russian North Caucasus, was also inaccessible, as were media websites based in Ukraine and Estonia.

Russia has restricted access to an increasing amount of independent media since it launched its Ukraine military campaign, and has blocked access to global tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Ukraine president invokes 9/11 as Putin says invasion on course

Ukraine's leader on Wednesday issued an emotive appeal to US lawmakers for greater Western intervention against Russia, which insisted its invasion was going "successfully" despite the West rallying to Kyiv's side via arms and sanctions.

In a landmark virtual address to Congress, President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 attacks and Martin Luther King Jr as he showed a video of the destruction inflicted on his cities by three weeks of Russian attacks.

Ukrainian officials said 10 people had been killed while queuing for bread in the northern city of Chernigiv, and an unspecified number died in a Russian strike on civilians fleeing the besieged city of Mariupol.

Dull booms echoed across the deserted streets of Ukraine's capital Kyiv, with only an occasional vehicle passing through sandbagged checkpoints, and very few permits granted to break its latest curfew.

Kyiv has been emptied of around half of its 3.5 million people but Eduard Demenchuk, a private-security employee in his 50s, was among those who have stayed.

"It's worrying, of course. It's war after all. But we try to stay calm, we won't allow panic," he told AFP by telephone, after stocking up on groceries for the duration of the curfew.

"To tell the truth, I wasn't planning to leave Kyiv anyway," Demenchuk added. "If need be, we will take arms and will stand to defend the city." 

Russian rocket fire also hit a train station in Zaporizhzhia, used by refugees fleeing Mariupol, regional authorities said.

Some 20,000 residents have been allowed to leave Mariupol. But exhausted, shivering evacuees speak of harrowing escape journeys and rotting corpses littering the streets.

Kyiv rejected Russian demands to impose neutrality on Ukraine, and Zelensky demanded the United States and its NATO allies impose a no-fly zone, so that "Russia would not be able to terrorize our free cities". 

Switching to English, Zelensky addressed US President Joe Biden in saying: "I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace."

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