Putin says Russia fighting for motherland in Ukraine in Victory Day speech

Despite rumours he would make a major announcement his speech stuck largely to defending Russia's invasion.

He tied the war in Ukraine to victory in 1945, blaming the West and Nato for rejecting security demands.

Almost 10 weeks into the invasion, civilian casualties continue to mount.

Some 60 civilians are feared dead in the eastern town of Bilohorivka, after a Russian attack on a school where people were trying to escape bombardment.

Putin demands Mariupol surrender to end shelling

Mr Putin made the comments during an hour long phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday night, the Kremlin said in a statement.

But French officials said the Russian leader had agreed to consider plans to evacuate civilians from the city.

Russia has since proposed a one-day ceasefire for Thursday.

The defence ministry said the ceasefire would start at 10:00 local time (08:00 BST) and would allow people to travel westwards to Zaporizhzhia vie the Russian-controlled port of Berdyansk.

Call to seize yacht linked to Putin and Marshall Islands

In its latest investigation, the Foundation claims the $US700 million Scheherazade is crewed by Russia's Federal Protective Service, which is tasked with guarding the President Vladimir Putin.

The 140-metre German-built yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands and owned by Bielor Asset, which is a trust company in Majuro.

Italian police have failed to ascertain whether the two-year-old yacht belongs to a Russian individual subject to the European Union's sanctions regime.

Putin seeks foreign volunteers to fight in Ukraine

Speaking at a Russian security council meeting, he said those who wanted to volunteer to fight with Russia-backed forces should be allowed to.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said there were 16,000 volunteers in the Middle East ready to fight alongside Russia-backed forces.

US officials said these could include Syrians skilled in urban combat.

Moscow is a long-standing ally of Syria and Mr Putin has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war.

Ukraine crisis: Putin says he does not want war in Europe

The Russian president's comments came as the military said that some troops were withdrawing from the border near Ukraine - the first sign from Moscow of a possible de-escalation of tensions.

However Western leaders say there is no evidence of the withdrawal yet.

Russia's sudden military build-up prompted fears it would invade Ukraine.

Mr Putin has always denied he is planning an incursion, but tensions have been rising since November, when Russian troops started massing near the border with Ukraine.

Biden and Putin to hold call amid Ukraine invasion fears

It comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US had evidence that Russia had made plans for a "large scale" attack on Ukraine.

But he added it was unclear if Mr Putin had made a final decision to invade.

Russia has denied any such intention, and accused Ukraine of executing its own troop build-up.

Russia election: Putin to run again for president

He made the announcement in a speech to workers at a car factory in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod.

"I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian federation," he said.

Mr Putin has been in power since 2000, either as president or prime minister. If he wins the March election, he will be eligible to serve until 2024.

Russian TV journalist Ksenia Sobchak has already said she will stand in the election but opinion polls suggest Mr Putin will win easily.

Snowden says It's a 'Dark Day for Russia' after Putin Signs Anti-Terror Law

The new legislation signed by Putin would compel the country's telephone carriers and Internet providers to record and store the private communications of each and every one of their customers for six months – and turn them over to the government if requested.

The data collected on customers would include phone calls, text messages, photographs, and Internet activities that would be stored for six months, and "metadata" would be stored up to 3 years.