Friday, May 20, 2022

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 13

Russian forces are pressing ahead with their military operation in Ukraine to counter what they call a “threat” to their national security from the pro-West Ukrainian government. Kiev and Russia’s Western adversaries call the operations an “invasion”. The situation is fluid in Ukraine right now with both sides claiming victories on the battlefield. Iran Front Page brings you the latest developments on the ground live as they unfold in Ukraine.

FIFA confirm Russia kicked out of Qatar World Cup

FIFA have confirmed that Russia have been removed from the qualification process for the 2022 World Cup.

The decision comes in the wake of the country’s ongoing war in Ukraine, with Poland given a bye into the Path B playoff final on March 29.

Poland had been due to face Russia in the semi-final of the playoff process days earlier, but following the invasion of Ukraine the Polish FA and players made it clear that they did not want to face Russia.

FIFA have also confirmed that the playoff semi-final between Ukraine and Scotland has been delayed.


UNICEF: One million children have fled Ukraine

One million children have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks of war, James Elder, a spokesman for UNICEF, stated on Tuesday, calling it “a dark historical first”.

Since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, two million people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN — more than those who left Syria in the first three years of the war there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also claimed “over 50 children have been killed”.


US: Most of Ukraine covered by “some sort of Russian surface-to-air missile capability”

Russia has launched “nearly 670” missiles since the beginning of their invasion of Ukraine, a senior US defense official told reporters on Tuesday.

Almost half of the missiles launched have been fired from Russia, “the other half largely from inside Ukraine”, the official said.

“A little bit more than 70” missiles have been fired from Belarus, and “only a half dozen or so” are coming from the Black Sea, the official added.

Vladimir Putin has “nearly 100 percent” of the combat power that he amassed for this invasion inside of Ukraine and the Russian president “still has 95 percent of the combat power that he started with”, the official continued.

“The combat power available to him if you count his estimated losses just in terms of aircraft and vehicles that are either inoperable or not moving or not available to him, he still has a lot of combat power available,” the official said.

Most of Ukraine is covered by “some sort of Russian surface-to-air missile capability”, the official told reporters.

“Very little of the nation of Ukraine is not covered by some sort of Russian surface-to-air missile capability, and they are also conducting offensive air strikes through missiles launched by aircraft as well as by mobile launchers,” the official added.

While Russians have more control of the airspace in some parts of the country, “up in the north more than anywhere else”, they don’t have control over the entire country, and the space overall remains contested, the official said.

“It’s very contested air space, and as I’ve said before, Russians have not achieved air superiority over the whole country,” the official continued, adding, “But as I’ve also said, there are parts of Ukraine where the Russians have been able to be more in control of the airspace, particularly you might imagine, up in the north more than anywhere else, but it changes, it’s very dynamic, every day.”


Defence intelligence chief: US has no direct evidence of war crimes in Ukraine

The United States has no direct evidence of war crimes in Ukraine besides what is seen on social media, Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier said on Tuesday.

“I don’t know if we have direct evidence besides what we see on social media,” Berrier stated during a congressional hearing.

Last month, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan announced his decision to open an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine. Later, Khan added that an advance team of ICC experts had departed for the country.


Ukraine claims nearly 27 civilians killed in Eastern Kharviv

A Ukrainian police official has claimed that nearly 27 civilians were killed in Eastern Kharviv in the past 24 hours.


European Commission releases proposal to make EU independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030

The European Commission on Tuesday released its proposed plan to make the European Union independent from Russian fossil fuels before 2030, starting with gas.

The plan “will seek to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases and replace gas in heating and power generation”, according to the European Commission.

This plan could reduce the EU’s demand for Russian gas by two-thirds before the end of the year, according to the European Commission.

“We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas. We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

Von der Leyen added she would be discussing the Commission’s proposal with European leaders in Versailles later this week.

“[Vladimir] Putin’s war demonstrates the urgency of accelerating our clean energy transition,” the European Commission wrote on Twitter.

Just before the invasion of Ukraine, the EU reported wholesale gas prices were around 200% higher than a year ago. The invasion aggravated the energy crisis even further.

The EU announced it is reliant on imports of fossil fuels— gas, oil and coal— to meet its needs.

Last year, Russia provided around 45% of the EU’s total gas imports, 27% of the EU’s total crude oil imports and 46% of the EU’s hard coal imports, according to the European Commission.


Oil surpasses $130 with US & UK banning Russian imports

Oil rallied higher after President Joe Biden stated the US would ban imports of Russian energy, while the UK announced it would phase out Russian products by the end of this year.

Brent crude futures surpassed $132 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate touched above $129.


EU does not intend to ban energy imports from Russia

The European Union does not intend to impose a ban on energy imports from Russia, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell said in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“We will not ban the import of Russian energy,” he added.

He stated that the EU is not following US President Joe Biden on the issue.


Russian Armed Forces destroy almost 2,600 Ukrainian military facilities

As Russia’s military operation in Ukraine continues, the Russian Ministry of Defence has released new figures about the damage inflicted upon Ukraine’s military capability.

As Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian MoD, told media on Tuesday, Russian armed forces have destroyed 2,581 military targets in Ukraine since the launch of the military operation on 24 February.

Said targets, Konashenkov said, include 90 command and control facilities and military communication centers, 123 air defense systems (S-300, Buk M-1 and Osa) and 81 radar stations.


Mariupol is now isolated by Russian forces

The city of Mariupol in the south of Ukraine has now been “isolated” by Russian forces, though Russian forces are only still bombarding the city and are not in Mariupol “in any significant way”, according to a senior US defense official.

The US is also seeing that Russian forces have not yet entered Mykolaiv, a key city that could be used as part of a coordinated assault against the city of Odessa, though there has been an increase in the bombardment and shelling of Mykolaiv, according to the official.

Russian forces are still trying to advance on the cities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv, but are still facing Ukrainian resistance and are making more progress in the south of Ukraine than elsewhere in the country, according to the official.


Mykolaiv official asks residents to gather tires & set them on fire at to stop Russian advance

Vitali Kim, Mykolaiv regional administrator, asked residents of the city to gather tires, which will be set on fire to impede the movement of Russian troops in the city.

“In order to limit visibility for the enemy vehicles in the city, I need tires at every intersection in the city,” Kim said in a message posted to Telegram.

“If the vehicles break through in some direction, the task will be to go out and set fire to the tire so that there is smoke in order to limit visibility,” he added.


Zelensky says Ukraine “will not give up”, receives standing ovation from UK House of Commons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the UK House of Commons via video on Tuesday, saying Ukraine “will not give up” on defending itself against Russia.

“I’m addressing you as a citizen as a president of also a big country with a dream and big effort,” Zelensky started his address by saying.

“The question for us now is to be or not to be — that is a Shakespearean question,” he added.

“I can give you a definitive answer. It’s definitely yes — to be,” he continued.

“We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight until the end at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost,” he stated.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 13

Zelensky also expressed his gratitude to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and asked the parliament to increase the pressure of sanctions against Russia and recognize it as a terrorist state. He also asked the UK lawmakers to ensure that the “Ukrainian skies are safe”. The Ukrainian president also used a portion of his remarks to describe how Russia’s invasion has unfolded in the country.

“I would like to tell you about the 13 Days of War. The war that we didn’t start, and we didn’t want it,” he told British lawmakers.

“We do not want to lose what we have what is ours, our country, Ukraine,” Zelensky said, adding, “Just the same way as you once didn’t want to lose your country… And you had to fight for Britain.”

The House of Commons gave Zelensky a standing ovation at the end of his address.


Biden: “Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin”

US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin will never be successful in taking the whole of Ukraine.

“Putin seems determined to continue on his murderous path no matter the cost,” Biden stated at the White House.

“He has already turned two million Ukrainians into refugees. Russia may continue to grind out its advance at a horrible price, but this much is already clear: Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. Putin may be able to take a city, but he’ll never be able to hold the country. And if we do not respond to Putin’s assault on global peace and stability today, the cost of freedom, and to the American people, will be even greater tomorrow,” he added.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 13

Biden acknowledged that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is already hurting American families, including rising gas prices. He admitted that his decision to ban Russian oil imports will cost at home.

“The decision today is not without cost here at home. Putin’s war is already hurting American families at the gas pump. Since Putin began his military build-up at the Ukrainian border, just since then, the price of gas in America went up 75 cents. With this action is going to go up further,” he said.

Biden added, “I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home.”

He also addressed the American oil and gas companies, saying the war and its impacts are “no excuse to exercise excessive price increases” that exploit the American consumer, adding that he will not tolerate it.

“Russia’s aggression is costing us all. And it’s no time for profiteering or price gouging. I want to be clear about what we’ll not tolerate,” he added.

But he also acknowledged the firms that were “leading by example” by pulling out of Russia, noting that “this is a time when we have to do our part”.


US gasoline hits record $4.17

The average price of gasoline in the US has hit a record $4.17 per gallon as the country announced a ban on Russian oil imports.

The national average rose by 10 cents per gallon in one day, up 55 cents since last week, according to AAA data. The previous high was set 13 years ago when the national average price hit $4.10 per gallon.

US lawmakers were discussing ways to ease the impact of the ban on energy prices.


US intel estimates between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine

The US intelligence community estimates between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow launched its invasion last month, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency announced Tuesday.

DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier told the House Intelligence Committee the intelligence community has “low confidence” in its assessment of how many Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine, but that the range is between 2,000 and 4,000 troops.

Berrier added that the estimate is based both on intelligence sources as well as open-source material.


UK to phase out Russian oil imports by end of 2022

The UK will phase out “the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022”, UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said Tuesday.

“This transition will give the market, businesses and supply chains more than enough time to replace Russian imports – which make up 8% of UK demand,” he wrote on Twitter.

Kwarteng added that the government will work with companies to support them in finding alternative supplies.

“The UK is a significant producer of oil and oil products, plus we hold significant reserves. Beyond Russia, the vast majority of our imports come from reliable partners such as the US, Netherlands and the Gulf. We’ll work with them this year to secure further supplies,” Kwarteng said.

He added that while the UK is not dependent on Russian natural gas, it only makes up 4% of UK supply, he is exploring options to end this altogether.


Biden bans US imports of Russian oil & gas

The United States is banning all imports of oil and gas from Russia, US President Joe Biden has announced, in a move that aims to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday morning, Biden stated the move targets “the main artery of Russia’s economy”.

“We’re banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at US ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” he told reporters.


NSA chief: US officials “very focused” on potential for ransomware attacks during Ukraine war

The US government is “very focused” on cybercriminals who might conduct ransomware attacks against US organizations during the Ukraine war, General Paul Nakasone, head of the National Security Agency, told the House Intelligence Committee.

US officials are also wary of the potential of Russian government-backed cyber operations aimed at Ukraine to inadvertently hamper US organizations, Nakasone and FBI Director Christopher Wray stated at an annual hearing on worldwide threats to the US homeland.

“Even if the Russians think they have carefully calibrated some form of malicious cyber activity against our critical infrastructure, the reality is they’ve shown a history of not being able to manage the effects of it as well as they intend — even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, which I tend not to,” Wray told lawmakers.


CIA chief: Putin unlikely to be able to install puppet gov’t in Kyiv

Vladimir Putin’s assumptions about Ukraine before the invasion turned out to be “profoundly flawed”, CIA director William J. Burns has said.

“I fail to see – and our analysts fail to see – how we could sustain a puppet regime or a pro-Russian leadership that he tries to install in the face of what is a massive opposition from Ukrainian people,” Burns said.

The CIA chief predicted an “ugly next few weeks” of fighting as Putin doubles down with force amid Ukrainian resistance.

“The one thing I’m absolutely convinced of, and I think our analysts across the intelligence committee are absolutely convinced of, is the Ukrainians are going to continue to resist fiercely and effectively,” Burns told US lawmakers.


US intelligence chief: Russia ‘underestimated’ Ukrainian resistance

US director of national intelligence Avril Haines has announced Russia is facing setbacks in its invasion of Ukraine.

“We assess Moscow underestimated the strength of Ukraine’s resistance and the degree of internal military challenges we are observing, which include an ill-constructed plan, morale issues and considerable logistical issues,” Haines told US lawmakers during a hearing.

She added that it remains unclear whether Russia will pursue a maximalist plan of capturing all of Ukraine, and if it does it will be “especially challenging” for Moscow to hold and control the country.

Haines also accused Russian forces of displaying disregard for civilians in Ukraine and said the US intelligence community was working to document Moscow’s abuses.


Ukraine health minister: Over 60 Ukrainian hospitals out of action

Sixty-one hospitals in Ukraine are not operational because of attacks by Russian forces, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko has said.

“Terrorists from the aggressor country have put 61 hospitals out of action,” he stated on television, adding that the authorities were unable to deliver critical medical supplies to front-line communities because of a lack of “humanitarian corridors.”

Russia denies attacking civilian targets.


Humanitarian situation around Kyiv remains challenging

The head of the Kyiv regional military administration, Oleksiy Kuleba, said that the humanitarian situation in areas around the city remains difficult.

“The main issue today remains humanitarian aid. Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel, Makariv, Borodyanka, Vorzel — residents of these settlements are forced to stay in bomb shelters for days without water and food. The occupiers do not give humanitarian corridors, do not give guarantees,” Kuleba stated in a video statement on YouTube.

The five districts are to the north and west of Kyiv. “Russian occupiers keep shelling residential areas. They keep bringing more military vehicles,” Kuleba added.

“We demand silence every day, every hour, every minute. We will promptly and immediately send help and evacuate our people,” he noted.

“We are doing everything to stop the humanitarian catastrophe in Kyiv region,” he continued.


UK government under criticism for its response to Ukrainian refugees

The UK government has been criticized for its response to Ukrainian refugees, with its newly announced Ukraine Family Scheme visa being described as complex and lengthy by people navigating the system.

Under the scheme, people can apply to join or accompany a UK-based family member and if granted a visa, they can live, work and study in the UK and access public funds.

Some refugees who have made it to the French port city of Calais in the hope of traveling on to the UK are now being told to go to appointments in Paris or Brussels — both more than 100 miles away — as part of the administrative procedure.

When asked why there is no processing center in Calais, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government is setting up a centre away from the port to avoid creating “choke points”.

The UK Home Office announced Monday it has issued 300 visas as part of its Ukraine Family Scheme, out of 8,900 applications submitted and 17,700 applications started.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote last Saturday to his British counterpart Patel in a letter obtained by CNN, “[Taking] into consideration the distress suffered by these people, this response appears to be totally inappropriate and inhumane.”

In comparison, the European Union’s “Temporary Protection Directive”, announced on March 2, allows people from Ukraine to enter the bloc without a visa and individually choose which country to go to. Those eligible, will receive protective status similar to that of a refugee, in any EU country for a one-year period which may be reviewed.

Germany, for example, on Tuesday said over 64,000 refugees from Ukraine had arrived since the beginning of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24. An Interior Ministry spokesperson stated the number could be much higher because there are no border controls. Meanwhile, an estimated 5,000 Ukrainians have so far arrived in France, with more arriving every day, Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa said.


German federal prosecutor launches probe into Ukraine war crimes

Germany’s federal prosecutor has opened a so-called ”structural investigation” into suspected war crimes committed by Russian troops since the invasion of Ukraine, the prosecutor’s office told CNN on Tuesday.

”The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has opened a so-called structural investigation in connection with the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” a statement sent to CNN said.

”There are concrete indications that war crimes may have already been committed, in particular war crimes involving the use of prohibited methods of warfare against Ukrainian civilians as well as civilian objects,” the statement added.


Vatican tells Russia’s FM Ukraine attacks must stop

The Vatican’s secretary of state has told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the Holy See wants attacks in Ukraine to stop and humanitarian corridors to be guaranteed so that civilians can flee to safety.

A Vatican statement said Cardinal Pietro Parolin had also repeated the Vatican’s willingness “to do anything” to help bring about peace during talks between the pair by phone.


The UK will ban the import of Russian oil in protest against the invasion of Ukraine, with the United States expected to do the same.

An announcement is expected to be made this afternoon, according to three Whitehall officials who spoke to POLITICO.


UN: 474 civilians killed

The United Nations human rights office has verified 1,335 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 474 killed and 861 injured, since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

But the civilian toll was incomplete pending corroboration of reports, it announced in a statement, “This concerns, for example, the towns of Volnovakha, Mariupol, Izium where there are allegations of hundreds of civilian casualties.”

Its previous death toll for civilians killed, issued on Monday, was 406 civilians.

“Not a day has passed without news of dozens of civilian casualties that resulted from indiscriminate bombing and shelling of residential areas of major Ukrainian cities,” Yevheniia Filipenko, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has claimed more than 400 civilian deaths have been recorded so far in the war, including 38 children, although “these data are definitely incomplete”.

He also added that Russian attacks have destroyed 34 hospitals, more than 200 Ukrainian schools and 1,500 residential buildings.


Moscow claims Kiev confirmed only one of ten planned evacuation corridors

Only one of ten civilian evacuation routes proposed by the Russian military has been confirmed by Kiev, Russian National Defence Command Center chief Mikhail Mizintsev has claimed.

“Unfortunately, out of the ten routes proposed to the Ukrainian side, two each from Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkov and Mariupol, including one from each into the Russian Federation, and others through Ukrainian-controlled territories to Poland, Moldova and Romania, Kiev has confirmed only one route -from Sumy through Poltava and on to the border with Poland,” Mizintsev said in a briefing on Tuesday.

Mizintsev added that the Russian military agreed to the idea of humanitarian corridors amid “the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in settlements across the country, where nationalists continue to forcibly detain thousands of civilians, including foreigners”, and in spite of repeated failures in the past by authorities in Kiev to abide by existing agreements.


Zelensky condemns ‘unkept promises’ by West

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denounced what he called the West’s unkept “promises” to protect Ukraine from Russian attacks.

Ukraine’s air force uses Soviet-made Mig-29 and Su jet fighters, which its pilots have trained on, to fend off Russia’s military. It has appealed for more warplanes from Poland to be able to continue the mission.

Zelensky said on a video broadcast on Telegram assurances received so far have not been delivered on.

“It’s been 13 days we’ve been hearing promises, 13 days we’ve been told we’ll be helped in the air, that there will be planes, that they will be delivered to us,” Zelensky added.

“But the responsibility for that rests also on those who were not capable to take a decision in the West for 13 days,” Zelensky continued, noting, “On those who have not secured the Ukrainian skies from the Russian assassins.”

Establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, sought by Zelensky, has been rejected by Washington and NATO.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened “colossal and catastrophic consequences” for Europe and the wider world, should a no-fly zone be implemented.


EU to sanction more Russian oligarchs, Belarus banks

The European Commission has prepared a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine that will hit additional Russian oligarchs and politicians and three Belarusian banks, three sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The package also bans exports from the EU of naval equipment and software to Russia and provides guidance on the monitoring of cryptocurrencies to avoid their use to circumvent EU sanctions, one source said.

One source added the package also listed oligarchs and members of Russia’s Federation Council, which is the upper house of the Russian Parliament.

The EU will also expand its ban on EU exports of advanced technology to Russia, mostly supporting the ban on the export of maritime technology, the sources continued.

The ban on the export of naval equipment and software to Russia is mainly meant to hit its shipping sector, one source stated.


Covid adds to Ukraine’s wartime pain

Ukraine’s health care system is still grappling with the coronavirus pandemic even as the country is being battered by a military conflict that has led to a strain on health care systems and shortages in medical supplies, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe stated.

“It is my deepest sorrow to see my region, emerging from two terrible pandemic years, being now confronted with the devastating impact of military hostilities on dozens of millions of its people in Ukraine and beyond,” the agency’s regional director, Dr. Hans Kluge, told a news briefing.


Biden expected to ban Russian energy imports today

US President Joe Biden is expected to today ban Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the US, according to three sources familiar with the decision.

The US will make the move unilaterally, without its European allies, due to disagreement among European nations about whether to ban Russian energy. EU countries have significantly more exposure to Russian energy than the US.

US officials decided, given the extreme political pressure at home, they could move without the coalition and not create major issues.


US calls for Europe to move off dependence on Russia energy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said it is “imperative” for European countries to stop relying on Russian energy, especially as the Ukrainian war continues, in order to ensure supply is “widely available”.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Tallinn with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Blinken stated there is a “significant, not only opportunity but imperative in this moment to finally move off of, for many countries in Europe, the dependence on Russian energy. Because Russia uses it as a weapon”.

 


Ukraine claims humanitarian convoy bound for Mariupol comes under fire

Ukrainian authorities have claimed that a long-awaited convoy of humanitarian aid for the besieged city of Mariupol on the south coast appears to have come under fire.

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukrainian minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, stated, “Our humanitarian cargo is heading to Mariupol, and we are counting on the commitments made by Russia, that they are ready to adhere to the ceasefire. There are now signals that Russia is shelling the direction of humanitarian convoy.”


Ukraine urges companies to boycott Russia

Ukraine’s foreign minister has urged international companies to boycott Russia in an open letter.

“Ukraine requests the ethically and socially responsible global businesses to stop or suspend operations with or in Russia, therefore refusing to finance its violence, murders, and crimes against humanity,” Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

A widening corporate backlash to Moscow’s offensive has already seen a range of firms, including Apple, IKEA and Nike, suspend operations in Russia.


NATO chief says Russia’s offensive must not ‘spread beyond Ukraine’

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the United States-led transatlantic military alliance has a “responsibility” to ensure Russia’s offensive “does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine”.

“We will protect and defend every inch of all allied territory,” Stoltenberg told reporters during a visit to Latvia.

He added the alliance had seen credible reports that Russia is targeting civilians in Ukraine and urged Moscow to end its attack.


Ukrainian authorities: 21 civilians killed in Sumy strike

The death toll from an overnight strike in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy has now risen to 21 civilians, according to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office.

The office confirmed “the death of 19 adults and 2 children as a result of an air strike in the city”.

“As a result of the bombing, one house was completely destroyed, 16 were partially destroyed. As of 7:00, the bodies of 21 people, including 2 children, were found during an inspection,” it added.

Ukraine and Russia agreed Tuesday to one evacuation corridor in Sumy, which has seen sustained Russian attacks and airstrikes in recent days.


Regional official claims Russian strikes hit two oil depots in Zhytomyr

Russian forces are bombing civilian infrastructure and homes in Ukraine’s northern region of Zhytomyr, according to its governor.

Vitaliy Bunechko made the claim in televised comments without providing further details. He also said Russian air raids had struck two oil depots in the region on Monday evening.


Ukrainian official claims Russian forces’ advance in Ukraine has ‘slowed considerably’

The advance of Russian forces in Ukraine has “slowed considerably”, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed.

“In certain directions where they were advancing it [the advance] has practically stopped,” Oleksiy Arestovych told a televised briefing, adding that Ukrainian forces were counter-attacking in some areas.

“The forces that continue to advance, advance in small forces,” Arestovych stated.


Russia, US should return to ‘Cold War relations’

Russia and the US should return to a Cold War state of “peaceful co-existence”, the Kremlin has said, according to a report on Ifax.

The Russian Foreign Ministry added that it was open to honest and mutually respectful dialogue with the United States and that hope remained that normalcy in relations between the two countries could be restored, Interfax reported.


Russian Armed Forces destroy 2,482 Ukrainian military infrastructure facilities

The Russian Armed Forces destroyed 2,482 military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine, official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major General Igor Konashenkov.

“In total, 2,482 military infrastructure facilities in Ukraine were destroyed during the operation, including 87 command posts and communication centers of the Ukrainian armed forces, 124 S-300, Buk-M1 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as 79 radar stations,” he stated.


Shell ‘sorry’ for buying discounted Russian oil

The boss of Shell has said he is “sorry” for buying a shipment of Russian oil last week even as dozens of major international companies announced they would abandon the country over its war in Ukraine.

The business bought the oil last week at knock-down prices, as sanctions began to bite on the Russian economy.

“We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil to be refined into products like petrol and diesel – despite being made with security of supplies at the forefront of our thinking – was not the right one and we are sorry,” stated chief executive Ben van Beurden.

The company announced it would immediately stop buying Russian crude oil on the spot market and will shut service stations, aviation fuel and lubricants operations in Russia.

The rest of the company’s exit from Russian oil and gas will take place over time.


Irpin Mayor refuses Russian demand to surrender

Oleksandr Markushyn, the mayor of the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, says he has rejected a demand from Russian forces to surrender the town.

In a Telegram account on Tuesday, Markushyn stated he had received a threat on his “life and health and demanding for the complete surrender of Irpin” the previous day.

“I’m surprised that these monsters still haven’t understood — Irpin doesn’t give up, Irpin can’t be bought, Irpin fights!” he added.

“I have a counter-offer to the occupiers to leave [the] Irpin community within 24 hours and save the lives and health of several thousand Russian conscripts, whose mother, sister, daughter, grandmother and partner are waiting for them at home,”


WHO warns attacks on healthcare infrastructure increasing ‘rapidly’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that attacks on hospitals, ambulances and other health care facilities in Ukraine have increased “rapidly” in recent days and warned the country is now running short of vital medical supplies.

The UN agency confirmed on Monday that at least nine people had died in 16 separate attacks on health care facilities since the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24. It did not say who was responsible for the incidents.

Catherine Smallwood, WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, told a news briefing the numbers had been “increasing quite rapidly over the past few days”.

WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge told reporters at the same briefing that the agency was working to quickly supply medical supplies to Ukraine, where stocks of oxygen, insulin, personal protective equipment, surgical supplies and blood products are dwindling.


China’s president calls for ‘maximum restraint’ in Ukraine

Chinese President Xi Jinping has described the situation in Ukraine as worrying and called for “maximum restraint”, saying the priority should be preventing the situation there from spinning out of control, according to reports by Chinese state media.

Xi, speaking at a virtual meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, added the three countries should jointly support peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Until now, Beijing has attempted to strike a delicate balancing act over Moscow’s incursion. It has refrained from calling Russia’s attack an “invasion” and neither openly denounced nor supported the move.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 13


Ukraine: Russian forces shelling evacuation route from Mariupol

Russian forces have shelled an evacuation route for civilians trapped in the besieged southeastern port city of Mariupol in violation of a ceasefire agreement, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has claimed.

“8 trucks + 30 buses ready to deliver humanitarian aid to Mariupol and to evac [evacuate] civilians to Zaporizhzhia. Pressure on Russia MUST step up to make it uphold its commitments,” Oleg Nikolenko tweeted.


Zelensky claims child has died from dehydration in besieged Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed a child has died from dehydration in Mariupol amid Russia’s offensive.

“In 2022, from dehydration,” he stated in a video address, likening Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis to the one created by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Mariupol has been heavily bombarded by Russian forces. The city has had no water, power or heating supplies for days.


UN rights chief decries clampdown on anti-war protests in Russia

Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s human rights chief, has warned Moscow’s response to widespread demonstrations against its invasion signals a narrowing of freedoms in the country.

“I remain concerned about the use of repressive legislation that impedes the exercise of civil and political rights and criminalising non-violent behaviour,” Bachelet told the Human Rights Council in Geneva via video link.

More than 13,500 people have been arrested for taking part in a string of anti-war protests held in dozens of cities throughout Russia since it began its offensive, according to protest monitoring group OVD-Info.


US: Getting military supplies to Ukraine may become harder

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has revealed it may become more difficult in the coming days to ship weapons to Ukraine for help in its conflict with Russia.

Speaking to reporters in Madrid, Sherman praised the “international community” for being “tremendously responsive” and resourceful in finding ways to deliver weapons, ammunition, and finances to Ukraine.

However, such shipments “may become harder [to make] in the coming days and we will have to find other ways to manage this”, she warned, adding, “It is critical that what we send in is what [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky asks for, because he knows what his military needs most,” Sherman explained.


Turkey may use ruble for Russia trade

Turkey could use ruble to carry out trade with Russia, Turkish TV channel A Haber reported on Monday, quoting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ankara and Moscow can use the “dollar, euro, ruble, gold and yuan in trade”, Erdogan said in an hour-long telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, according to the TV channel.


Ukrainian peacekeepers to fight Russian military

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has issued an executive order summoning the country’s peacekeepers back home from their overseas missions. The military personnel are supposed to join the fight against the Russian army.


UN: Ukrainian refugees top 2 million

More than 2 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, the head of the UN Refugee Agency stated on Tuesday.

“Today the outflow of refugees from Ukraine reaches two million people. Two million,” Filippo Grandi, UN high commissioner for refugees, wrote on Twitter.

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 13

Ukrainian officials say civilians being evacuated from Sumy & Irpin

Ukrainian officials say they have begun evacuating civilians from the northeastern city of Sumy and from the town of Irpin, near the capital Kyiv.

The evacuations began after Russian and Ukrainian officials agreed to establish “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians out of some towns and cities besieged by Russian forces.

Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of the Kyiv region, stated more than 150 people had been evacuated as of 9:30 a.m. local time (07:30 GMT).

Footage shared by the Ukrainian State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection also showed what it said was the “first stage” of evacuations taking place from Sumy.


Russia opens ‘humanitarian corridors’ from Kyiv, four other Ukraine cities

Russia’s Defence Ministry says it has opened a series of “humanitarian corridors” via which people can be evacuated from Kyiv and several other Ukrainian cities, according to a report by the country’s Interfax news agency.

Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said evacuation routes would also be set up from Chenihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, Interfax reported.

Russia declared a ceasefire from 10 a.m. Moscow time (07:00 GMT) to coincide with the opening of the corridors.

The move came after Ukraine on Monday rejected Russian proposals to evacuate Ukrainians via exit routes that mostly led to Russia or Belarus.


Ukraine claims 12,000 Russian troops dead

12,000 Russian troops have bee “lost” so far, the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSCIP) has claimed.

Yesterday, that figure sat at 11,000.

More than 300 tanks have been destroyed, as well as 1,036 armoured fighting vehicles, it added.

Russia has not updated its estimate of its losses since last Wednesday – when it admitted for the first time that 498 troops had died.


Ukraine claims at least 18 dead in bombing of Sumy

At least 18 people, including two children, have died in an air strike on the Ukrainian city of Sumy, approximately 220 miles east of Kyiv, the rescue services have claimed.

“Enemy planes insidiously attacked apartment buildings” on Monday night, the rescue services said on Telegram after arriving on the scene at 11 p.m.

Sumy, near the Russian border, has been the scene of heavy fighting for days.

Civilians will start leaving today under an agreement with Russia on the establishment of a “humanitarian corridor”, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk stated in a televised statement.

“It has been agreed that the first convoy will start at 10 a.m. from the city. The convoy will be followed by the local population in personal vehicles,” she added.


UN: Second wave of refugees will be ‘more vulnerable’

After the first wave of refugees from Ukraine there is likely to be a second wave consisting of more vulnerable refugees, the head of the UN refugee agency has said.

“If the war continues we will start seeing people that have no resources and no connections,” UNHCR head Filippo Grandi told a news conference.

“That will be a more complex situation to manage for European countries going forward, and there will need to be even more solidarity by everybody in Europe and beyond,” he added.

It is estimated that more than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine in less than two weeks.


Ukraine & Russia agree to one evacuation corridor in Sumy

The Ukrainian government has agreed on an evacuation corridor for fleeing civilians from the northeastern city of Sumy, which has seen sustained Russian attacks and airstrikes in recent days.

Iryna Vereshchuk, the Ukrainian minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, said the corridor had been agreed by the Russian Ministry of Defense in a letter to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The route for the evacuation corridor would lead from Sumy through Holubivka and Lokhvytsia to Poltava, a city in central Ukraine. It will open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Vereshchuk said, adding that “all obstacles … must be removed along the entire route.”

“No other routes were agreed,” she continued, noting, “We call on Russia to agree on these routes immediately and ensure a stable ceasefire on these routes.”

She stated that Ukraine hoped the Sumy corridor would be followed by others.

The announcement comes after a Russian airstrike on an apartment building in Sumy killed nine civilians, including two children, according to the State Emergency Services (SES) in Ukraine.

Several previous attempts to evacuate civilians failed earlier this week, with Western leaders accusing Russian forces of continuing to target pre-approved safe routes.


Nuclear research facility damaged by shelling in Kharkiv

Ukraine’s national nuclear regulator told the International Atomic Energy Agency a new nuclear research facility producing radioisotopes for medical and industrial applications had been damaged by shelling in the city of Kharkiv.

The incident did not cause any increase in radiation levels at the site.

The nuclear material in the facility is always subcritical, the IAEA said, and the inventory of radioactive material is very low, so the damage reported would not have any radiological consequence.

Eight of Ukraine’s 15 reactors are currently operating, the IAEA added, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi noted there have been several episodes compromising safety at Ukraine’s nuclear sites, including a recent fire at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, where two reactors are still operational.


Russian aviation faces wipeout

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in its airlines being banned from European, American and Canadian airspace, left the country with leased aircraft it cannot use, and scuttled aerospace industry partnerships with the West.

Even flights to friendly countries such as China are in doubt due to the international community’s ostracisation of the country’s aviation sector, according to aviation analysts.


Report: Russia’s Gazprom continues gas shipments via Ukraine at same level

Russian natural gas company Gazprom continues gas shipments via Ukraine at the same volume of 109.5 million cubic metres a day, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Russia supplies about 40 percent of Europe’s gas.


Russian Coordination HQ: Kiev caused humanitarian disaster in Ukrainian cities

The situation in many localities in Ukraine, primarily in large cities, has become a humanitarian disaster due to Kiev’s inability to ensure the functioning of humanitarian corridors, Russia’s interdepartmental coordination headquarters for humanitarian response in Ukraine said in a statement.

“Due to the incapacity and inability of the Ukrainian side to ensure the functioning of humanitarian corridors, the situation in a large number of settlements on almost the entire territory of Ukraine, primarily in big cities: Kiev, Chernigov, Sumy, Kharkov and Mariupol, is rapidly deteriorating and has acquired the character of a humanitarian disaster,” the headquarters added.

“The Russian Federation ensured in full… security on the planned routes during previously announced humanitarian operations to evacuate civilians and foreign citizens,” it continued.


Zelensky tells US: We are first, you will be second

Ukraine’s president has warned Americans that Vladimir Putin will not stop at Ukraine and will threaten democracy in other countries, including the US.

In an interview with ABC, Volodymyr Zelensky said, “We are a place in Europe, a place of freedom, a zone of freedom”, adding, “When the limits of rights and freedoms are being violated and stepped on, then you have to protect us. Because we will come first, you will come second.”

Zelensky repeated his plea for the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country, while expressing confidence in President Biden’s ability to do so.

NATO has rejected requests for a no-fly zone, saying it would risk war with Russia.

He suggested the question of whether Putin is deliberately targeting civilians is irrelevant: “Why would I care? The result is the same.”


Ukrainian military: Russian offensive significantly slower

Russia’s offensive in Ukraine continued but at a significantly slower pace on Tuesday, Ukrainian military claimed, as frightened residents fled bombed-out cities.


 

HRW: Russia violated obligations under international humanitarian law

The US-based organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Russian forces had “violated their obligations under international humanitarian law not to conduct indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks that harm civilians”.

The comments come after eight civilians were killed over the weekend while fleeing the Russian army’s advance.

“For several hours on March 6, 2022, Russian forces bombarded an intersection on a road that hundreds of civilians were using to flee the Russian army’s advance in northern Ukraine to Kyiv,” the HRW announced in a statement Tuesday.

“About a dozen Ukrainian security force members and at least two military vehicles were at the intersection during the attack, but they were vastly outnumbered by the large number of fleeing civilians,” the statement read, citing witnesses.

HRW added that over recent talks between Russia and Ukraine have “failed” to establish safe routes of evacuation, and urged all parties involved to “take all feasible steps to remove the civilian population from the vicinity of fighting or military objects”.


Ukraine city struggling to feed people fleeing war

The mayor of Lviv, a city in far western Ukraine, says local authorities are struggling to feed and house the tens of thousands of people who have fled there from war-torn regions of the country.

“We really need support,” Mayor Andriy Sadovyi stated.

More than 200,000 Ukrainians displaced from their homes are now in Lviv, filling up sport halls, schools, hospitals and church buildings. The historical city once popular with tourists had a population of 700,000 before the war.

The mayor added the city needs big tents equipped with kitchens so food can be prepared.


Ukraine claims second Russian general killed in war

Ukraine’s military intelligence has claimed that Ukrainian forces have killed a Russian general near the besieged city of Kharkiv – the second Russian senior commander to die in the invasion.

Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, first deputy commander of Russia’s 41st army, was killed on Monday, the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s defence ministry announced in a statement.

Another Russian general, Andrei Sukhovetsky, also a deputy commander of the 41st army, was reported killed at the end of February.

Ukraine claims its forces have killed more than 11,000 Russian troops. Russia has confirmed about 500 losses. Neither side has disclosed Ukrainian casualties.


Ukrainian FM announces meeting with Russian counterpart

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said when he meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Turkey on Thursday he will propose direct talks between the Ukrainian and Russian presidents.

“We want talks between the president of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin since he is the one who makes the final decisions,” Kuleba said on Ukrainian television.

Kuleba spoke after a conversation late Monday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Grateful to the US for standing by Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter, adding, “We are coordinating intensively on crucial further steps to increase pressure on Russia.”


World Bank approves $723m in loans, grants for Ukraine

The World Bank has said its executive board approved a $723m package of loans and grants for Ukraine, providing government budget support.

The package includes a $350m loan supplement to a prior World Bank loan, augmented by about $139m through guarantees from the Netherlands and Sweden, the bank said in a statement. The package also includes $134m in grants from Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland, as well as parallel financing of $100m from Japan.


Ukrainian officials say Russia stepped up shelling of major cities

In Kyiv, soldiers and volunteers have built hundreds of checkpoints to protect the city of nearly four million, often using sandbags, stacked tyres and spiked cables, local officials have said.

“Every house, every street, every checkpoint, we will fight to the death if necessary,” stated Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who noted that fierce battles continued in the Kyiv region, notably around Bucha, Hostomel, Vorzel and Irpin.

Russian forces launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks, dropping powerful bombs on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials noted. But a long Russian armoured column threatening Kyiv remained stalled.

Mykolaiv in the south and Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, were also shelled. Ukrainian forces were also defending Odesa, Ukraine’s largest port city, from Russian ships, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich added.


Russia unveils new proposal for evacuation routes in Ukraine

The Russian military proposed a new evacuation plan for Ukrainian civilians and foreign nationals aiming to flee major cities amid Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry has announced that it will ensure safe passage for civilians from Kiev, Chernigov, Mariupol, Kharkov and Sumy all the way to Russian territory.

Russia registered some 2 million appeals for evacuation assistance in the span of the last two days, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed. It stressed that the scope of the messages prompted it to “prepare and carry out the humanitarian operation”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has also said his country will carry out a ceasefire on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Moscow time and open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens from Kyiv, Chernigov, Sumy and Mariupol.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has rejected earlier proposals to evacuate Ukrainian citizens into what he has described as “occupied territory” in Russia and Belarus.

“This proposal doesn’t have any demands about the citizens being sent necessarily to Russia, into Russian territory,” he said at the end of a UN Security Council meeting.

“There’s also evacuation offered towards Ukrainian cities to the west of Kyiv, and ultimately it will be the choice of the people themselves where they want to be evacuated to,” Nebenzia added.


Report: Russia is now world’s most-sanctioned nation

Russia has vaulted past Iran and North Korea to become the world’s most-sanctioned nation in the span of just 10 days following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a surge of action led by the US and European allies starting Feb. 22, Russia became the target of 2,778 new sanctions designations, bringing them to more than 5,530, according to Castellum.ai, a global sanctions-tracking database. That surpassed Iran, which has confronted 3,616 sanctions against it over the course of a decade.


Poll: 82% of Ukrainians believe they will repel Russia

A recent poll showed Ukrainians maintain confidence in their ability to defend their country, despite Russia’s increasingly deadly military invasion.

The poll from Ukrainian firm Gradus Research was conducted between Feb. 28 and March 1. It found that 82 percent of Ukrainians said they could repel Russia’s attacks, 8 percent said they were not sure and 10 percent said it was hard to say.

The poll, provided to The Hill by a group of independent Ukrainian journalists, indicated that 63 percent of respondents attributed the country’s strength to the power of the armed forces of Ukraine, and 61 percent said the main factor was “the unity and resistance of Ukrainian society”.

Another 58 percent said that Western military support would be a key factor in the victory.

Only 1 percent of respondents said that the best outcome of negotiations would be Russia’s terms for peace, the survey showed.

The poll showed 77 percent of participants said they expected the war to make Ukraine stronger.

In terms of Ukranian perceptions of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 85 percent of respondents at least partially supported him.


“UN court has no right to consider Russia’s special operation”

Moscow’s representatives are absent from the sessions of the UN International Court of Justice on Ukraine’s lawsuit against Russia, because the issue of the special military operation is beyond its jurisdiction, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Russia’s TV Channel One on Monday.

“As you may know, certain statements were made today regarding the hearings in The Hague in which Ukraine is trying to use the International Court of Justice. We decided against participation in the hearings. These hearings are not meant for discussing the issues Ukraine is trying to raise. It’s customary tactic. We believe that the court has no jurisdiction of the subject of the special military operation, which the Ukrainian side wants to be considered,” she added.

Zakharova noted that Russia explained its position to the ICJ in writing.


Report: EU to cut dependence on Russian gas by 80 percent this year

The European Union’s executive arm is reportedly planning to scale back the bloc’s reliance on Russian oil imports by up to 80 percent this year, as Western governments continue to mull a possible ban on Russian oil and energy products.

Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg that the European Commission is revising its energy strategy in an effort to reduce Moscow’s leverage over the West. The plan is expected to be presented on Tuesday.

According to one source, the proposed plan will include looking into new gas supplies and increasing energy efficiency.


Japan sanctions 20 more Russian businessmen, officials

Japan imposed sanctions on 20 more Russians including businessmen and officials due to the situation around Ukraine and Russia’s military operation, according to a list published on the website of the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

The list includes Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, presidential administration’s First Deputy Head Sergey Kiriyenko, presidential administration’s Deputy Head Dmitry Kozak and Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. The list also includes Russian businessmen including the Rotenberg brothers, Gennady Timchenko and Alisher Usmanov. The sanctions also affect two organizations: the Internet Research Agency and private military company Wagner.


Australia places more sanctions on Russia

Australia is placing further sanctions on Russia targeting senior military officers and state propagandists for “trying to legitimatise Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified invasion with false narratives such as the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine”, announced the country’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a statement on Tuesday.

This new round of sanctions will include “targeted financial sanctions on the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against an additional six senior Russian military commanders responsible for implementing naval, ground and air attacks on Ukraine,” the statement said.

It added that Australia will also sanction ten people of “strategic interest to Russia” for their role in “encouraging hostility towards Ukraine” and promoting pro-Kremlin propaganda to legitimize Russia’s invasion.


UK Ministry of Defence says Russia continues targeting evacuation corridors in Ukraine

The UK Ministry of Defence has accused Russian forces of targeting evacuation corridors and killing “several civilians” trying to evacuate the town of Irpin, according to the latest intelligence assessment released publicly by the department since Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

The ministry noted that due to heavy fighting, Irpin has been without heat, water or electricity for several days.

The intelligence assessment also reported that resistance against Russia advancements towards Kyiv has persisted in the nearby towns of Hostomel, Bucha, Vorzel and Irpin.


Ukraine envoy to UN: Russia continues to disregard “norms of international humanitarian law”

Ukraine Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya led his remarks to the UN Security Council Monday by likening Russia’s invasion into Ukraine to the way Germany disregarded what he called “the norms of international humanitarian law during hostilities” during World War II.

“Russian troops block numerous attempts of the Ukrainian authorities to evacuate civilians” through evacuation corridors, Kyslytsya said.

The ambassador added Ukrainians will be able to evacuate through evacuation routes only when Russia fully upholds a cease-fire.

Kyslytsya stated it was “appalling” that Russian troops were opening fire on evacuees after both countries had allocated certain roads to be utilized as evacuation corridors.

As of Sunday, the ambassador said Ukraine’s Ministry of Health reported that 34 hospitals in the country were completely destroyed; the World Health Organization reported that 6 Ukrainian doctors were killed and 11 were wounded as a result of Russian shelling.

Kyslytsya added that Ukraine’s Ministry of Education has reported more than 211 Ukrainian schools as being damaged or destroyed due to Russian shelling since the beginning of the invasion resulting in thousands of Ukrainian children being deprived from their right to education.

“Russia bears full responsibility for the killing and injuring of innocent people, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and obstacles for their safe departure of Ukrainians and foreign citizens,” the Ambassador continued.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia responded to Kyslytsya’s comments reiterating that Russian authorities agreed to carry out a ceasefire Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. Moscow time, to open up evacuation corridors to evacuate civilians from Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy Karkhiv and Mariupol.

“My Ukrainian colleagues said that Ukraine is ready to work in this direction, but let’s see what answer we get to this proposal from the Russian authorities,” Nebenzia stated.

Nebenzya said Russia is calling on the West to help to organize humanitarian corridors in Ukraine and convince the Ukrainian government to think about the safety of civilians that are being held by radicals.

“I would like to once again strongly urge our Western colleagues to convince the Ukrainian leadership to finally think about the safety of Ukrainian and foreign citizens held by radicals and get involved in the work to open and ensure the security of humanitarian corridors,” he continued, adding, “Of course, that’s if you still have any leverage over the nationalists, which we increasingly doubt.”

“We are ready for this work,” the envoy went on to say.


US gas hits a record: $4.14 a gallon

US drivers have never paid this much for gasoline. The price for a gallon of regular gas now stands at $4.14, according to the Oil Price Information Service, the firm that collects and calculates prices for AAA.

That breaks the previous record of $4.11 a gallon, which has stood since July 2008.


Zelensky seen in his office for first time since Russian invasion began

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has posted a video of himself in his office in Kyiv Monday night, the first time he has been seen there since the invasion began on Feb. 24.

Looking out of the window before closing the curtain, Zelensky opened his video statement, stating, “I’m staying in Kyiv. In my office. I’m not hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Apart from a brief outdoor appearance with members of his government soon after the invasion began, this is the first time he has been seen outside of his bunker since the Russian invasion began.

In a nine-minute speech, from behind his desk, at the Presidential Palace, Zelensky said “the Ukrainian army holds its positions”. He added that he remains in Kyiv and is “not afraid of anyone”.

Zelensky stated Ukraine’s resistance had made the war “like a nightmare” for Vladimir Putin and he accused Russia of attacking fleeing civilians.

He also accused Moscow of “medieval” tactics.

Zelensky said instead of an agreement on humanitarian corridors, what Ukraine got on Monday was “Russian tanks, Russian grad rockets, Russian mines”, adding, “They even mined the roads that were the agreed routes for taking food and medicine to the people, to the children, of Mariupol.”

Live Updates: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 13


Pentagon spokesperson: We believe Putin is trying to recruit fighters from Syria to fight in Ukraine

The Pentagon does believe reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to recruit foreign fighters, specifically from Syria, to fight in Ukraine on behalf of Russian forces are true, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“We do have indications that corroborate that story that in fact they are trying to enlist and recruit foreign fighters, which we find noteworthy that with more than 150,000 troops, a stalled military advance inside Ukraine, particularly in the north, that Mr. Putin has found it necessary to try to recruit foreign fighters for this war of his,” Kirby stated when Tapper asked if the story, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was true.

The US does not believe Russian forces have made major progress in the north and northeast of Ukraine in the last few days, the Pentagon announced

Kirby said that Russian troops had taken the city of Kherson and were attempting to encircle Mariupol, but were not in control of it.

Kirby also added Russia’s move to longer-range attacks had increased civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

“More civilians are being killed and wounded,” he stated, urging Putin to end the war.


Zelensky says Russian forces scuppering civilian evacuations

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has accused the Russian army of scuppering the evacuation of civilians through humanitarian corridors agreed after talks with Moscow.

“There was an agreement on humanitarian corridors. Did that work? Russian tanks worked in its place, Russian Grads [multiple rocket launchers], Russian mines,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted on Telegram.


UK envoy to US: War not going as Russia planned

Karen Pierce, the United Kingdom ambassador to the US, has suggested that the invasion of Ukraine is not going as planned for Russia, saying that Moscow has been met with transatlantic unity and Ukrainian resistance.

“If I sat in Moscow and I were an adviser to President Putin, I would be interested in the fact that because of this invasion of Ukraine, more and more countries want a relationship with NATO. NATO members have been brought closer together,” Pierce told Al Jazeera in an interview.

“So if I sat in the Kremlin, I don’t know from a Russian perspective that this is turning out the way they want. And in addition, their forces are not doing as well as they had planned in Ukraine itself,” Pierce added.


US Ambassador to UN says “it’s clear” Putin has a plan to “destroy and terrorize Ukraine”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said “it’s clear Mr. Vladimir Putin has a plan to destroy and terrorize Ukraine”, adding that the United States is “concerned that the world needs to be prepared for a very long and very difficult road ahead”.

“If the last two weeks have shown us anything, it’s that the Ukrainian people are not going to give up. And many Russian people themselves, including many Russian soldiers, do not want this war,” Thomas-Greenfield said at a UN Security Council meeting.

Thomas-Greenfield added that “Putin is clearly willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of Russian soldiers to achieve his personal ambitions”.

“We have been warning Moscow for weeks that, in the end, Russia will be weaker, not stronger, for launching this war. This is already proving true,” she said, adding, “The question is how much devastation President Putin is willing to wreak for this enormous mistake.”


Ukraine says 20,000 foreign volunteers want to join special unit to combat Russian forces

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed it has created a special unit — the International Legion — which has already started to carry out combat missions to counter Russian aggression.

More than 20,000 volunteers and veterans from 52 countries have expressed their desire to join, according to Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, commander of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry that will run this legion.


US Ambassador to NATO: Alliance “not prepared to move forward with a no-fly zone” in Ukraine

US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said the alliance will not move forward with a no-fly zone in Ukraine as it stands.

“Our goal right now is to actually stop the war. We don’t want to expand this conflict beyond Ukraine, and so right now, the signal from NATO collectively is that NATO is not prepared to move forward with a no-fly zone,” Smith told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview.

Smith also noted that the alliance is taking steps to protect its members.

“We will defend every inch of NATO territory. NATO is prepared to do that and is already taking steps to reinforce its eastern flank,” she added.


US: Russian forces’ main advance toward Kyiv remains “stalled”

The main advance towards Kyiv by Russian forces remains “stalled”, a senior US defense official told reporters.

The official did not have an update on how far away a large Russian military convoy is from Kyiv’s city center.

“We still believe they’re outside, the main advance is still stalled outside the city,” the official said, adding, “I don’t have a distance today of how far out from Kyiv they are, but we don’t assess that they are, the advance elements are in the city. They do continue to try to make progress.”

The convoy’s progress remained stalled on March 6 as well, an official said. Late last week, it was approximately 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) from the city center of Kyiv. Even though the main advance has not made progress, “clearly there’s fighting in Kyiv, they continue to bombard it and hit it”, the official added.


Putin: Russia will not deploy conscript soldiers in Ukraine

Russia will not use any conscript soldiers in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has noted.

“I emphasise that conscript soldiers are not participating in hostilities and will not participate in them. And there will be no additional call-up of reservists,” Putin stated in a televised message to mark International Women’s Day, reiterating similar remarks he made last week.


US, EU determined to ‘raise costs’ of Russia’s invasion

US President Joe Biden has held a secure video call with the leaders of France, Germany and the UK, in which they reaffirmed their determination to “raise the costs on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine”, the White House announced in a statement.

They also underscored their commitment to providing security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and discussed their respective recent engagements with the Ukrainian and Russian presidents.


Russia warns it could cut gas supplies via Nord Stream 1

Russia could cut gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, but it has not made such a decision yet, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak has stated.

“In connection with unfounded accusations against Russia regarding the energy crisis in Europe and the imposition of a ban on Nord Stream 2, we have every right to take a matching decision and impose an embargo on gas pumping through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline,” Novak said in a statement broadcast on state television.

“But so far we are not taking such a decision,” he added.

Western countries could face oil prices of over $300 per barrel and the possible closure of the main Russia-Germany gas pipeline if governments follow through on threats to cut energy supplies from Russia, he stated.

Oil prices spiked to their highest levels since 2008 on Monday after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Washington and European allies were considering banning Russian oil imports.

“It is absolutely clear that a rejection of Russian oil would lead to catastrophic consequences for the global market,” Novak said.

“The surge in prices would be unpredictable. It would be $300 per barrel if not more,” he added.


UN: Safe passage for humanitarian aid must be guaranteed

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths stressed the need to guarantee safe passage for civilians and humanitarian aid in areas of active conflict in Ukraine.

“Two weeks ago few people thought the scenario we find ourselves in today was thinkable,” Griffiths said.

The UN humanitarian chief added civilians in places including Mariupol, Kharkiv and Melitopol are in desperate need of aid, especially life-saving medical supplies.

Griffiths’ comments came as Security Council members worked on a resolution to address the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

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